21 April, 2018

Why is Faith Important?

Probably everyone knows something about faith - Christians, non-believers, agnostics, new agers, Buddhists, and everyone in between. But how is faith more than a theological concept? What difference does it make? It’s an idea that’s so common we’ve forgotten what it really is. Or, at least I had. But I’ve been learning you don’t have to understand to believe, and realizing from the lives of Bible heroes more of what faith is.

Faith gives reason to obedience – if we base our belief on only what can be tangibly proven, we don’t have a reason to obey. I can’t show evidence that God told me to do something, so why should I do it? I can’t prove He had me in mind when He wrote the Bible thousands of years ago, why should I obey? Faith is taking that knowledge and making it our own, believing that when God spoke, he had us in mind, and knowing that even if no one else heard the whisper, God can speak to us in our heart. Romans 4:21 defines Abraham's faith as “being absolutely convinced that God would do what he had promised.”

Faith in the anchor during life’s fluctuations – feelings go up and down, circumstances change. I think all Christians go through times of spiritual barrenness, and times of great flourishing in the Lord. But the constant which sustains through both those times is faith. It’s what kept the men of faith in the Bible going - Abraham, Moses, Noah, and others. It’s what gave Jesus reassurance when He couldn’t see through the tomb. When we’re down and discouraged, it’s faith that gets us back up again. It brings heaven to earth, and gives us confidence no matter what. As Romans 1:17 says, “The just shall live by faith.”

Faith gives life to believing – we can believe facts about God and the Bible, but if they remain mere facts and don’t change our lives, they’re useless. James says the devils believe in God. (James 2:19) They know more about Him than we do! But faith makes God’s word come alive. We believe He’s actually there, He is for us, and He desires a personal relationship with us. It’s that by-faith-relationship that separates knowledge from experience.

The Bible says everyone is given a measure of faith. (Romans 12:2) We already have it; we’ve just got to use it. When we take God at His word, claim the Bible and its promises and instructions as our own, it strengthens our faith. Trying circumstances and tests can also provide opportunity for faith to grow. I read that faith is like a muscle; the more we use it, the stronger it becomes.

I’m going to make a bold statement, but I believe it’s true. Faith is a choice. We have to choose to believe and live like it, choose to take God at His word. There is evidence, there is experience, but in the end, the thing that sets apart believers and non-believers is simply what the terms suggest: do we believe or not?

13 April, 2018

My Favourite Things - A Tag

Sunrise, Berri, South Australia

I haven’t done a tag in ages, but a favourite person of mine tagged me last month, and I thought something out of the ordinary might be refreshing. :) So, here are her lovely questions:

1. Favourite pajamas?
This is an excellent question; pyjamas are basically my favourite clothes. :) My all-time favourites would be a pair I had when I was maybe twelve which had Little Miss Sunshine on them. She’s one of my heroes. 

2. Favourite Bible story and why?
At the moment it’s the story of Noah, partially inspired by my recent read: Heart of A Lion. Noah isn’t talked about a lot in the Bible, and his story has become common, but he was an incredible man of faith, and that’s been inspiring me recently. 

3. Favourite room of the house?
I’ll say our spare bedroom which has my desk, most of my books, and other bits and pieces I’ve collected. I seem to have more mental space, and fewer distractions there, so if I want to focus or relax at the end of the day, I like to sit there. But, if you’ve lived in our house, you’ll know the real answer to this question. ;)

4. Favourite hair style?
My hair is most commonly in a ponytail or some messy bun. I’ve never put a lot of effort into my hair, so I don’t really have a favourite hair style: the easier it is, the more likely I am to do it! I like braids when I’m feeling fancy, and I wish I knew how to do beach-style waves in my hair.

5. Favourite farm animal?
Sheep are my favourite. :) Pet lambs are so cute, and because I’ve bottle-raised a few I like them most. They have such distinct personalities and habits, and they’re good company. 

6. Favourite character trait?
It’s funny because I’ve never been one to have favourites of anything – colours, songs, etc. I never want to commit to anything, because I know it will change. But honesty and humility have always been my favourite character traits. They’re what I admire most in others, and what I’d like to be myself.

7. Favourite place outside?
My favourite times to be outside are at sunrise, sunset, or at night under the moon or lots of stars, but I can’t really think of one specific place outside that’s my favourite. 

8. Favourite post on your blog (most viewed)?
31 Hugs – Ideas is my most viewed post, closely followed by On Vulnerability. I wonder what makes them so interesting to people, especially considering they’re very different to each other. 

9. Favourite quote?
I’m liking lots of words from Tozer’s book The Pursuit of God, in particularly a thought that links in with my current focus on faith: “Faith is the gaze of the soul upon a saving God.”

10. Favourite recent photo?
Probably one I posted on Instagram recently: it has the sunset colour and the moon in the one photo, and those are two of my favourite things. It’s a happy photo. :)

11. Favourite thing about your Mum?
I like how she can do anything she puts her hand to, whether that’s sewing, knitting, gardening, grafting trees, teaching, cooking, fixing the plumbing, writing a bible study, or building an extension on the house. She pays attention to detail, she’s strong, and I really admire her, and all the effort she’s put into nurturing us in Christ.


So, there are some random facts! What are some of your current favourites? Do you have a favourite character trait? What’s your favourite of my posts? Do you like to stay in pyjamas as long as socially acceptable, or get out of them as soon as possible?

06 April, 2018

It's Okay to Say I Don't Know

Murray River, Berri, South Australia

Sometimes it’s good to sit and people watch. I’m at a park, and I’ve been observing a couple and their dog. I could write a lot about the people I see, about this couple in front of me. I could say she was wearing a pink shirt and her hair was shoulder length, and he wore glasses and jeans, and I would be exactly right. 

But I can’t tell a single thing about their personalities, their past, their hopes and dreams and talents, likes and dislikes. I could guess she likes pink, but maybe that’s the only pinks shirt she owns. I could guess they like dogs, but maybe the dog I see is a friend’s. I could guess they’re wealthy, I could assume they’re traveling through from the coast; I could presume they’re husband and wife. But I don’t know.

I would like to know things. I would like to have all the answers. I would like to never be awkward when someone asks me a question and I’m not sure what to say. I would like to have inside information on the latest happenings. I would like to be able to discern what people are like and why they do what they do. 

I think it’s human to want to know. It gives a sense of power when someone has a question and we have an answer. They have a need and we have a solution. Sometimes we like to think we are a solution. It’s healthy: it gives us drive to research and learn, to give and help others in need, to have compassion and empathy. But it’s something the enemy likes to zone in on and attach worth to. If you have the answers people will always need you. If you have witty comebacks, you’ll be popular. If you have the information someone needs you have power. 

We fall into attaching our worth to our knowledge or ability. If I never have anything juicy to add to the conversation, I must be a boring person. If I don’t know what to say, I must be dumb. If I’m not up on the latest news, I must be inferior to everyone else.  

Or, we make up or exaggerate information to get the self-esteem boost we crave. It feels good to be able to add a tidbit to the conversation, to say something that gets everybody listening for more. There’s a sense of power in knowing something no one else does, and choosing when to release it in order to get the best reaction. It becomes a habit to glean and put information together, stretch it here, presume there, and have a good story to tell. 

But I want to zoom out. We are so much more than what we know or how much we have to contribute. We can’t judge ourselves on one isolated event. Often, the juicy information we love isn’t about things or places, it’s about people. And people have hearts and feelings, and just like the people I saw this morning, we know very little about them. There are many thoughts and feelings each of us never share; we can very rarely be one hundred percent sure when we talk about others. We can’t give the context; we can’t know how they feel or how it meshes in with their past or dreams for the future. That’s the point. We don’t know. And that’s okay.

So, don’t feel like you have to amass knowledge in order to have worth or fit in. Don’t feel like you can never be somebody unless you know something. Don’t feel like you have to earn people’s favour by gossiping. Our worth and value isn’t up to us to decide. It’s already been shown when ultimate love and perfection decided to trade places with us. 

And please, don’t forget we’re all people, and it’s really, really, okay to say ‘I don’t know.’