Jesus as we know suffered much, and yet was perfect. He had every reason to say to the Father “why me” its too hard” or its not fair”. As Christians we know the freedom and life that the suffering of our Savior brought to mankind, yet along with this freedom comes a call to be transformed into His likeness. We have a promise of Christlike character; if we seek it! Jesus’ sacrifice of His life which brought freedom to the world reflects how we as Christians are to become like Him. It’s in the suffering that that we learn to give up our selves, to give up selfish desires and to trust God with our future. Are you in a season of suffering? This very pain just may be what God is using to develop character; but there is one important thing to remember when we are going through trials; God does not want us to stay there! His aim is that we live in peace and hope, knowing who we are in Him, knowing His love and provision and in a place where we can help others to find the same hope that we have. Just as Jesus suffered, He also defeated death, His submission to the Father to the point of death reveals His character and brings the world hope. If you have asked God to transform and mould your character; expect to suffer. If you struggle to find hope and are seeking to find rest for your soul, you will need to develop perseverance first. Try to hang in there through the hard stuff, “do the time” so to speak and trust God with your life so you can finally say “ it is well with my soul”.
Rev. Julie Shannon
Who is really at the Wheel?
I was watching a video of how to deal with food cravings while I am trying to lose weight and one sentence really struck a chord with me. “You are at the wheel, you are in control”. Am I really? The song Carrie Underwood – Jesus take the wheel tells of a lady who has taken over the driving and has stopped allowing God to have the control. We all like to know what is going to happen and we all like trying to be sure that our choices are good ones, but the times in the past that I have taken back control of my life from God have not always ended up being good. There has been a lot of bad, mostly bad. I learnt from my experience that is the good part, but ultimately bad because I missed out so much from trusting God and allowing him to direct my path.
When I am in control I am running blind. I cannot see what is around the next corner, the next day but Jesus can. We all need to take stock of our lives and our decisions and check to see who is really at the wheel.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
It all seems pretty clear cut, doesn’t it? Don’t ‘covet’ stuff that you don’t have. But do we really know what coveting even is? Well, its pretty much looking at other people’s stuff: Other people’s possessions, friends, skills, money, lifestyles, jobs, family, past etc and wishing it was yours! But that’s only the half of it. Coveting takes that original want or desire and gears it up a notch. It turns the bend and speeds down many a hill by going from a simple observation of someone else’s ‘whatever’ to quite monstrously hatching an often subconscious plan to get that ‘whatever’ for them self. Whether by stealing it, inheriting by elimination, outdoing – with regards to gaining the sense of accomplishment, pride or social standing associated with a particular something or any other un-kind measure.
Take for example wishing you had friends like somebody else – so badly – that you compromise your values and self worth to be accepted, or you spread rumors and gossip to displace the most popular person in a friendship group. Whatever the ‘wish so badly’ , it becomes a nasty piece of coveting when it sabotages ‘the somebody’ else from their ability to retain their own possession, friend, job, dignity etc.
We are all incredibly prone to behaving like this. In one instant our eyes of admiration toward someone or something are yanked viscously by our twisted memories, false impressions and un-true conditioning from role models and the media, the next minute we are turned savages, stripping all good sense and moral and pillaging no matter what is lost or who is hurt along the way. We have become numero uno at all costs – and quite often, we have no idea that is what we have done.
Born and raised in a Catholic family, I grew up with the bible, and saying my prayers before meals and sleep. I was christened, and did my first communion in St. Mary’s church in Lae, PNG. When I matriculated into secondary schooling, I was sent to Melbourne and was boarding at a Catholic Boys School “Salesian College”. When I was not at school, I was forced to attend service Wednesdays, Saturday Nights and Sundays. This was when I started to question the faith, the Catholic church mainly referred to the New testament, and so I never grasped the whole faith, especially considering the teachings where it says you confess your sins to the Lord and they are forgiven, but in practice we had to confess to a priest and then as repentance say x number of “hail Mary’s” or other prayers for the sins.
What a great day it is when you look at the church congregation during your regular Sunday Service and realise you need to put out an extra row of seats. Praise God that we are embracing many new people this year into our Church family.
A Church family consists of people with varying pasts, opinions and ways of doing things. The factor that keeps a church in unity as a body of believers is Jesus being glorified, Him exalted, and Him as the source of for all things. Its through His shed blood that we are saved and its through His love that we function well as such a diverse group of people.
Highway of Hope Christian Church (our church name) has attracted some interesting comments over the years! Its not a traditional church name by any means, and our building is not even close to a highway! However about 5 years ago, when our church was still very young the Lord gave me a vision.