YOU ARE INVITED
Accepted. My great-grandson is turning 2 years old and his Mum is planning a party. His mum has favored me with an invitation to attend. I have accepted. I look forward to the party with joy and thanks giving that I am among the elite few.
Remember when Jesus birth was anticipated? The angel appeared to Mary and said, ‘ Congratulations, favored lady! The Lord is with you!’ (LB) Mary was favored by God above all other women.
We are chosen before the world began, we are now the accepted, the beloved, the highly favoured. God has poured out his favour upon us and invited us to a party, so to speak. God accepted us because Jesus gave himself to ensure that we are acceptable and highly favoured.
The Greek translation of being accepted in the beloved means we are ‘highly favoured’. God so loves us he gave Jesus. God so loves us he can’t love us anymore. God so loves us he can’t love us any less.
Jesus is God’s accepted beloved and his death redeems us so we become the highly favoured of the Father. The highly favoured accepted children of the Father through Jesus. For all this to become ours we accept Jesus into our inner being. So that we are no longer living for self but living for God.
Can we accept Jesus the highly favoured Son and accept the Father’s invitation and become the highly favoured children of God? Can we accept we are at the pinnacle of God’s love? We cannot go any higher nor any lower. We are at the zenith through Jesus. Let’s live at the top - in the throne room.
Thought for the Day:
‘You may be struggling, but keep declaring, ‘I’m blessed. I’m prosperous. I have the favour of God.’ Every time you say it, you’re getting closer to seeing it come true.’ Pintrest.com
Prayer: May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ give to us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him (Jesus).
SO YOU WANT TO LEAD...
I recently sat through a talk by a senior pastor on how to train leaders. I felt quite frustrated and sorry that the churches are not producing a ‘fire in the belly’ preachers, teachers, leaders and workers. All the right words, the best equipment for speaking, latest sound systems, overhead displays, yet so little fire and demonstration. Words, words, words, and no action.
I became a leader, yes, how did I become a leader? How did it happen? Was I born a leader and preacher? No! I was the second child of the family. My elder brother was bigger, stronger, faster; I couldn’t keep up. I was never first up a tree or first to stand on the mountain top. My brother was always first in the races; I was last. I did not stay as an also ran, in fact, in my adult years I led from the front, regardless of ill health.
My brother was hurt because I wouldn’t help him fight his battles. Was I seeking sympathy as he thought? I was eighteen months younger and living with chronic asthma. I spoiled more family outings than I care to remember by suffering an asthma attack at the crucial moment and everybody having to stay home because I was ill.
Someone once said, ‘you can tell a leader by the number of people following them.' Followers must have someone to follow, or their attitude will be, ’If you haven’t got the guts to lead, we are not going to follow you.’ I often looked behind to test my leadership and found at my shoulder real, loyal, faithful people; I was enabled to continue. My advice is: anyone wanting to be a leader, lead from the front.
After a childhood of illness, or in spite of it, I learned that the process of Christian leadership is not only sitting in lectures or separate study sessions but in getting your butt out there, your hands dirty, being an example. Where others said, ‘I can’t,' I learned, regardless of the circumstances to say ‘I can.' I learned to ‘climb the biggest tree,' ‘scale the highest mountain,' ‘swim the largest river,’ ‘do the impossible job.’ I learned by the example of my many mentors. God revealed to me, ‘It is not I but Christ in me,’ is what sent me ahead of the mob. I learned, ‘don’t ask others to go where you haven’t been.’
Many years ago when living in the Riverland, I saw the responsibility of leading teams in outreach and God laid it on my heart, ‘lead from the front.' Because I led out onto the streets, many followed our ministry onto the streets to witness; street witness gave birth to speakers and leaders. The team loved to say, ‘we went there and did this and said that’ it was their personal experience, and something was born in them. I might have had the daylights scared out of me to set the example, but I knew I had to be out in front leading. Training is not by sitting in comfortable, padded church pews. Someone must lead. Let those that followed me in the ministry years, say Amen.
Many years ago I was able to attend a Rundle Street open air meeting. I was excited to be part of this action. The leader called to us saying, ‘Let’s pray first.’ I was saddened because by the time we had prayed the crowds had dispersed, there was no one left to speak to. I never forgot this incident; I saw that if you weren’t prayed up at home or beforehand, don’t expect to run a prayer meeting if you want to do street witnessing. The lesson I learned that day I passed onto the team of workers.
We would go straight into speaking, singing and contacting people. We were at the ready, on the instant, and didn’t bury our heads having a prayer meeting when we should have been meeting the people. The question of learning the ability to teach and lead is more a gift of God rather than the training of man. The first and main thing is how you see yourself. I see myself as Christ who lives in me. Very early in my Christian experience, I learned this truth. I would always be sickly, poor, uneducated until God revealed to me that I am in Christ and him in me. Never again would I say, ‘Poor me.’ I knew without a doubt the resurrected Christ dwelt within me, the hope of glory, and that I could do all things through Christ.’ I challenged the world to ‘back off; you are dealing with the mighty Christ.’ When you know you are Christ’s, then you are Christ’s. It’s all in the package called ‘the finished work of the cross’ signed for by Jesus at his death. When you open God’s instruction book, you can find what you have been given in that package and will save a lot of sweat and tears of human learning.
THE DIVINE WORKSHOP
Check in to the divine workshop to open the package starting with, ‘I am the righteousness of Christ,’ 2 Corinthians 5: 21. Know who you are and don’t put yourself down or allow others to put you down.
‘Do you know you are the temple of the Holy Spirit…’ 1 Corinthians 6: 19. The reality is that our spirit is the Holy Spirit. We do not need to pray the Spirit down, just let him flow out.
‘Joint heirs with Christ…’ Romans 8: 8. Did you get that? A joint heir with Christ!
‘He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west.’ Psalm 103: 12.Total and eternal forgiveness.
‘Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God.’ John 1: 12.
‘I will make my dwelling with them. They will be my people.’ Ezekiel 37: 27. Don’t try to add to what God has done in you, accept who God has made you and what he has given you.
‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ Philippians 4: 13.
THE BASIS OF OPERATION
Here is the revelation that has directed me into leadership all my life. As a son of God, I have taken the verses just quoted as my position and right. I have accepted the exalted position of divine authority and power. The criteria mentioned is the same for anyone aspiring to leadership and ministry.
Many people look for substantial human learning and degrees to get them into a position of leadership, but too often education stamps out the ‘fire in the belly’ instead of fanning the flame into an unstoppable fire.
First, examine Paul’s revelation of the divine gifts. Then add man’s ideas if you must but if you are growing cold in enthusiasm go back to the scriptures I have quoted and soak your spirit in them.
Experience has shown me the only credentials of any worth that open the doors of eternity, power and authority of God are given and paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross. These truths have been the basis of my ministry and leadership, open the package and use the gifts. Stop praying for God to put more in; you already have all of God within, just go forth.
I LOST MY SHOE
Losing one's shoe is like losing part of one's sight, or leg or arm.
With out a shoe you limp and hobble along like riding a bike with a flat tyre. Prickles enter your foot, your toes get bumped and bleed. You don't go very far very fast.
With out a goal or purpose in life it is like trying to walk without a shoe. Life doesn't go anywhere, you bump into things rather than direct the way things are to go, your emotions bleed and you become depressed. So it is best to have a plan for what you want and how you are going to make that plan work.
We all have dreams; for some of us they come true that means we kept both our shoes on.
But the dreams that we don't reach is perhaps, because we lost a shoe and just limped through life never reaching our potential
It is sound advice to keep our shoes done up so we don't loose them and our way. Keeping our shoes on and knowing where they are at all times is like walking over the roughest ground without being hurt. That same principle applies to having a goal or a dream; we can walk over rough ground fearlessly without feeling life is useless.
But is keeping our shoes on, and having a goal enough?
Before the world began, God knew us. Amazing! Awesome! To think God knew we would be when he created the universe. He even had a plan, a good plan for our lives. But – there is always a but, God also gave us a free will in the hope that we would choose him and his plan above our own choices. He wanted to be the Lord of our life but he didn’t want puppet worship. He wanted free will worship.
In giving us our free will to choose, it meant that we might not choose his good plan for us, it meant we might want to follow the way we choose. God took the risk because He wanted us to be totally his and our love for him be pure.
In not finding God’s pure and perfect plan for our life, mean settling for a second best, does it mean we go through life with a shoe off, do we limp along, feeling that there is more?
We feel that we might have missed the way and try to compensate by making choices that seem right to us and may even make us successful. Never-the-less, our toes have been stubbed, we have lost our shoe and are bleeding.
While we are blundering around shoeless, with stubbed toes, God is there at our shoulder urging us to go this way, go that way. He’s waiting for us to come to the end of ourselves and say, OK, I'm ready. God show me how to do it your way.
God smiles at last, ‘I can put my perfect plan into place for your life.’
God’s perfect will for us is one of peace and joy.
There will be challenges, we live in a fallen world, but when God’s perfect plan is operating we keep our shoes on and can walk over rough tracks enjoying the presence of God, living in his perfect will.
Walking in the perfect will of God is not hard, it means though, we become living sacrifices. Meaning, we give over our life to him, we put him first before ourselves, we live by his every Word, then we find his good and perfect plan for our life.
It is a fair exchange, I think. Walking with our shoes on as opposed to losing a shoe and limping along.
If you are ready to walk through life and not limp shoeless, then accept Jesus into your life. Become a believer. Receive a new heart, a new spirit and find the perfect will of God for you. Be healed from the stubbed and bleeding toes, life sets up to trip you.
I wrote this story many years ago, looking back it is kind of prophetic. My husband and I are facing the issues the subject of this story faces. It is a story that is all too true. Despite Government rhetoric and wonderful brochures put out by nursing homes, people like Margaret are eking out lonely, existence's.
NOTHING TO LIVE FOR
Searching for the defector
‘Tom?’ The old voice full of impatience called, ‘Tom?’ Old Margaret Ames stood on the back door step calling for Tom. Her still young blue eyes probed the overgrown junk littering the back yard, hoping that a sleek black form would leap out and greet her.
The empty kennels and sheds were silent in decay. The light of hope died from her eyes, she seemed to shrink just a little more, crumpling like old parchment. For several days, hope kept her alive, waiting for her beloved to return. His defection left her with nothing to live for.
Turning back into the house, the scuff-scuff of her slippers echoed through dusty, cluttered rooms. The old chair wheezed a protest as Margaret’s emaciated figure sank into it. A sigh escaped the once shapely lips, a tear squeezed under heavy lids exploring, a network of furrows down her withered cheeks. With her beloved’s defection what was there to love. She was alone, unwanted, useless. She hated being old.
A sharp knock on the door and the old lids fluttered open.
‘Just a moment,’ the old voice rasped. It took Margaret sometime to ease herself out of the chair. Another knock, louder this time,
‘It’s the Meals on Wheels ladies. We’ve brought your dinner.’
The door opened, sunshine made a path into the dim hall. Jenny Brown bustle out to the kitchen with steaming plates of food. She pushed aside the flotsam of dirty plates, papers and clothes to put down the dishes. Margaret scuffed along behind her.
The brush off
‘Have you seen…?’ Marg began.
‘Mrs. Ames, are you feeling all right? You haven’t washed yesterday’s dishes. You’ve been crying.’
‘Tom! Have you seen …?’
‘I think you need help, Mrs. Ames. I’m going to make an application to Domiciliary Care to send someone to help you.
‘Tom! He hasn’t…’
‘Who’s Tom, Mrs. Ames? Sorry we can’t stay to help you. We’re busy today. Many of our helpers are off sick; we’re very short staffed, have to go now. Cheerio, see you tomorrow.’
Margaret put out a hand, fingers now clawed with arthritis to stop Jenny’s mad dash but she brushed aside the old hand scurrying down the shaft of light, slamming the door behind her. The house settled back into its somnolence as if glad the intrusion had left. Margaret stared at the door, alone with her helplessness.
‘Mrs. Ames shouldn’t be left alone. She’s not coping, besides, her mind is wandering, and she was raving about Tom. Who is Tom? A son?’ Jenny slammed the car door. Beryl Hick’s started the car, ‘She’s got a daughter in town, why doesn’t she see to the old girl?’ the car swung around leaving a curl of dust hanging in the air like a question mark.
‘Jenny, we can’t be responsible for all the oldies. We only have to deliver their meals. We have families as well.
‘Well, somebody should do something. The old girl can’t be left alone any longer, Beryl. The house is a pigsty. Where did you say her daughter lived?’ Jenny was a little robin, hopping from idea to idea, never stopping for an answer.
Beryl drew up in front of a tiny cottage. Jenny grabbed hot dishes and hurried inside to another aged man in a wheel chair.
‘I can’t get Mrs. Ames out of my mind,’ Jenny said as she climbed back into the car. ‘I feel she was trying to tell me something. I feel so guilty for not being able to stop and find out what was wrong.’
‘Stop feeling guilty, Jenny. We’re doing our best. Think of all the time we put into Meals on Wheels. I have to admit the old people are an endangered species these days. You could get in touch with the daughter I suppose. But she had a row with her mother a few years ago and they don’t talk to each other now.’
The two women continued on their way comforting themselves that they were doing all they could.
Dreaming of a better life
Margaret looked at the steaming food. She felt ill. She spooned some into Tom’s dish, the rest she pushed into the fridge along with several days’ deliveries.
Margaret wandered out through the back yard amongst tumbled down kennels and shed, once full of animals whose owners were on holiday or recovering from some illness or hurt.
‘To-om, To-om.’ No sleek black form crawled out from under a bush, stretching and yawning sleepily, to wind himself around her legs. Hope died; she had lost another love, what was there to live for? If she could only go to meet her Ralph to whom she’d been married to for fifty years until cancer claimed his life. Perhaps they would work together again as vets in the animal heaven as they did here.
Margaret returned to her chair, staring through the hazed window at a world alive with its own concerns, unaware of the needy old woman behind the window, arrogant in the knowledge of their youth. Margaret sighed, what a devil it was to get old, the living no longer wanted you.
Once she had been a part of that mad rush out there, she existed in a backwater where no one knew or cared what happened to her. She and her Ralph had lived for animals. Creatures loved you regardless of how you treated them. If she could only go to sleep and wake beside her Ralph, she had loved him beyond all else.
Margaret eased herself slowly out of her chair, and scrimmaged through a drawer in a sideboard under the window. She filled a syringe, a fleeting smile ironed out the furrowed cheeks as she thought of meeting Ralph again. She had never discarded the tranquilisers and syringes when she retired from the Practise. She eased back into her chair with a sigh and plunged the needle into her arm. Her hand dropped over the side of the chair, her head slid sideways. The day slipped away; the house settled even more deeply into its sleep.
The defector returns
The sleek black defector dropped into the yard, pushed through the cat hole in the door, walked confidently to his dish, tail high with self-esteem. He downed the contents. Mewing a greeting, Tom rubbed against the grubby leggings. There was no response. He nudged the cold hand, finally he curled up on Margaret’s lap and slept as was his practise unaware yet that Margaret would not wake to cuddle him ever.
Hunger pain woke Tom early in the morning, a graceful stretch and wide yawn, a visit to his dish. Disgusted that it was empty he returned to Margaret mewing for food. He nudged her hand, giving it a lick. It smelled queer, he gave it a nip, his stomach told him it would be good to eat, so he ate his fill. Instinct told him Margret was different; his loyalty to the hands that fed him gave way to hunger pains.
Next day at noon, Jenny and Beryl arrived in a cloud of dust with a hot meal. At their entry Tom hissed angrily at their sudden appearance, already his feral instincts were rising. He fled at Jenny’s attempts to befriend him.
Jenny screamed, ‘Beryl, that awful cat has started to eat Margaret.’
‘What’s happened?’ Beryl felt bemused.
‘It’s Margaret Ames, she dead and the cat’s been eating her. I’m going to be sick.’ Jenny raced for the toilet.
Beryl had disappeared outside, white and shaking. Never had they experienced anything like this in all the years they’d work delivering Meals on Wheels.
‘What’s happened here?’ The Paramedics looked around on arrival to Beryl’s call.
Jenny sobbed out her guilt, ‘If o only I had listened to her yesterday, she tried to tell me something and I didn’t listen. I can’t forgive myself. I’ve always hated that cat, it seemed evil.’
‘Listen, lady, the old girl loved her cat. She wouldn’t have known anything about it.’ The Officer held up the syringe that had slid down into the chair as Margaret slept eternally. ‘She took her own life.’
Jenny’s face was awash with tears at the Paramedic’s words. Beryl having returned led Jenny way, ‘We still have other deliveries to make.’
‘I can’t go on, Beryl. I feel it was all my fault. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t do anything about it. I didn’t even ring her daughter because it was too busy.’
‘I don’t know what you could have done. It’s the way we work these days when caring for the old. We can only do what we can and hope that something might change for the better.’ Beryl choked back her tears.
‘Beryl, I’m determined to do something, I don’t know what yet, but I’m not going to let the old suffer more than I can help.’
It was late afternoon when Tom reappeared and entered he cat hole. He tested the air, his tail twitching. He prowled through the rooms, enquiring sniffs to furniture and clothing, his claws echoing hollowly on the dusty faded linoleum. She was gone. Her smell was weak. There was nothing for him here. He eased out into the back yard, moving through the undergrowth, to the back fence. He sat on a post, ears pricked, studying first the lane then the house, would she yet call? Satisfied the old voice was silent, his meal ticket gone, freedom beckoned, he jumped from the post into the lane and trotted off into the coming night.
BEAUTIFUL BURGERS Gwen Leane
I looked at the burger mountain. The saliva glands were doing overtime. I swallowed but dribble ran out the corners of my mouth.
Tomato sauce, rich and red, oozed down over the bread roll. Lettuce leaves curled around the burger’s edges like ruffled lace. Beetroot, dark red discs. The perfume tickled my nose, teasing my taste buds. I could hardly wait to add a rasher of bacon looking like crinkled ribbons, and a slice of melted cheese dripping down and mingling with the sauce, add sliced onion and Bingo! A savoury masterpiece…
I opened my mouth to take a bite, ‘Hello Tubby, I see you still love burgers,’ the gravelly voice of Mitch Andrews stopped my hand mid-flight.
I cursed under my breath, the enjoyment of my burger now sour. Everything was spoiled. Mitch had always taken delight in teasing me about being chubby.
‘You!’ I snorted. ‘Trust you to spoil my fun.’
‘Fun? I wanted to ask you to come hiking up the Bluff on Sunday with me. I enjoy a hike as you know.’
Mitch, every once in a while conducted a Save Mavis project. He would lose heart before I lost weight.
‘You would have to catch me eating my first burger in months. I’m not your Save Mavis project anymore. I’m finished with you.’ I took a longing look at the burger and thought what a waste. I needed to make a statement so I jumped up from the chair and flounced out of the café.
Mitch followed me, ‘Hang on, Mavis, I wanted to ask you to marry me. I love that you have slimmed down and have a model’s body. I have no need to save you, you have saved yourself. You’re wonderful.’
I stopped dead. My head swiveled. ‘Yes,’ I shouted, ‘let’s celebrate with a big fat greasy burger.’ I rushed into his arms before he could change his mind.