28 December, 2014

Goodbye 2014...

The above photos were taken on our recent camping trip in the Snowy Mountains. The scenery was really nice, and I had fun taking photos of it all, as you can see. :) Lots of wildflowers and green grass made it pretty; large rocks and hills made it impressive. The river made it nice; and the wildlife kept it interesting. We saw brumbies, as well as rabbits, hares, kangaroos, crows, kookaburras, and even a pinkish red snake. The kangaroos and crows seemed quite experienced with campers, and hoed into anything we left out of the tent or vehicles – food, rubbish, plasticware, etc.

Anyway, the reason I'm writing this is to publicly announce that the year 2014 is almost over! I guess you already knew that, but it's pretty hard for me to realize. This year has gone fast. I was trying to come up with a few lessons I've learnt from this year to share, but, to be honest, I couldn't come up with many...

One thing that I believe God has been trying to teach me this year, is that He (God) calls us to be different; to be a holy, peculiar people (as I mentioned here). Sometimes that means standing alone: and when we stand up, we're going to stand out. But as Deuteronomy 7:6 & 9 says, “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;” But that's it; God is faithful. If He calls us higher, He will be faithful in helping us get there.

Here's one other verse that I re-discovered yesterday: “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”
Psalm 139:8-10 Isn't that an amazing promise? Wherever we are, God is there too. And He's not there inspecting what we're doing so as to get us into trouble, He's there holding us up, and leading us on.  So, that must be my current favourite bible verse. :)

A few other things have been speaking to me lately. This post about hope. Hope has always been a favourite word of mine. In fact, when I started this blog, I wanted to call it something like 'Journey of Hope.' Hope is powerful, and without it, really, nobody has a desire to live. It's hope that keeps us going in trying circumstances; we push through hoping for better days. As Job 11:18 says, “And thou shalt be secure because there is hope”... Where there's life, there's hope; where there's hope, there's life.

Then there's this. Reading it a couple of months ago, made me stop and think... and realize that I too, am so proud. “Proud |proud| having or showing a high or excessively high opinion of oneself or one's importance : a proud, arrogant man.” Yes, I think way to highly of myself. And I realized that pride is the motivator for a lot of my actions: I want to look good, so I'll do, say, write this; I want to do this now, because my wishes are more important that yours; I don't want to do that, because I don't like doing that. It's all pride. It's all thinking of myself first, putting myself first, when God says no. “...but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Philippians 2:3

This post is on a really different topic, but I'd never thought of there being different types of loneliness before, and this puts it so well. I found myself relating to quite a few of the descriptions of it. Besides, I like the way it's written too. :)

Well, this got a lot longer than I expected. And I'm sorry if it came across as a whole bunch of talk about myself. I really don't want it to be that way, but I'm trying to keep it honest, I guess. It's a fine line to walk. But in closing, happy 2015 everyone! I hope (see, hope?) this year brings us all more happy memories, and a closeness to God and each other that we've never had before. Also, can it please go slower than 2014 did?!

Anyway, I'd really like to hear what God been teaching you throughout 2014. What are some things that have really resonated with you lately? Have you made any new year's resolutions?

09 December, 2014

Book Review - Every Heart's Cry

Recently we were given a stack of books. I, of course, looked through them as soon as politely possible, and then settled down to read one that caught my eye, namely Every Heart's Cry.

Basically, Every Heart's Cry goes through identifying every heart's cry, (to be loved unconditionally), why we crave love, the negatives of refusing to love, and being brave enough to love and be loved wholeheartedly.

Judging from the title (and cover picture) I was wondering if this book would be all about the love between a husband and wife. But it's not. Of course, all the principles discussed apply to a husband and wife relationship, but it's actually written from the perspective of having friends, and being a friend.

The reason we crave love, and want to be loved unconditionally, is because that's how we were created. God made us out of love, and we love him because He first loved us. Back in Eden everything was loving, loveable, and lived forever; that's the kind of environment we were designed to live in. We were made to love and to be loved. That's also why it hurts when somebody is unkind, or we have to deal with the loss of loved one. Those things were never meant to be a part of our life.

Towards the end of the book it talk about being wholehearted in our friendships. All of us want wholehearted friends. But to love and be loved wholeheartedly, we need to be vulnerable. Dannielle Synot describes vulnerability “as a fundamental characteristic of people who are wholehearted” (page 73) Now, in my mind, up until this point, being vulnerable was synonymous with weakness, maybe even cowardliness. It's not something I'd ever aspire to be. But this book points out that we have to be vulnerable. We have to show who we really are, and what's behind all the masks and excuses. You can't become friends with a mask, you have to know the real person.

Being vulnerable begins with having a little self-worth, and letting go of what we 'should-be' and just being who we are – still striving to be our best of course, but accepting who we really are and being content with that. If we're content with where and how God has placed us in the moment, then we'll feel comfortable about sharing it with others.

Maybe none of that is new to you, but for me - I know I have a lot of things to learn about being a good friend. This book brought up quite a few things i'd never thought about before. The principles discussed made sense to me, so I enjoyed reading the book from that perspective. But, I can't really recommend it because it was poorly written. There was incorrect grammar, and the style was very casual, not professional, and almost flippant at times. I know sometimes that style is effective, but I didn't like it in this book. Then, I felt like it spent a lot of time going around in circles saying the same thing in a few different ways - to bulk out the book, maybe? In my opinion it could have been a lot more condensed and concise.

 So, have you read Every Heart's Cry? What do you think are important principles of friendship?