“Never Give Up” Book-Review

If you’re considering this book because you’re looking for motivation to persevere with something, I’m sure it’ll help with that, but it’s really a book on how to navigate the whole of life – short chapters with themes such as perseverance, avoiding procrastination, and building on truth. With a title like “Never Give Up”, you might wonder whether it’ll make you feel condemned over past failures. I don’t think it does. On the contrary, it encourages you to move on from your past in order to embrace your future. I especially liked the chapters where the author gave examples from his own life. He says his style is to write short chunks with humour added in. He does this very well; some of his illustrations made me laugh out-loud.

I was looking forward to this book by John Mason because I reviewed (and enjoyed) his previous one – “Proverbs Prayers”. This is similar, in that it would be beneficial to have in your Kindle library to refer back to. I think my mum would like this book because she loves quotations, and this is packed full of them. A couple of my favourites? “Even a broken clock is right twice a day”, and: “Too much analysis always equals paralysis”.

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Familiar and Comfortable

Did you have a good Christmas? Before spending most of the day with my parents, I walked across the road for a family service led by a couple of friends. They talked about how Jesus came into the world as the light of the world, and one sentence stayed with me from the sermon. “We’re comfortable moving around in darkness when we’re in familiar places.” I think I liked it because that was a picture of the start of my Christian life.

When I first came to know Jesus, I wasn’t particularly miserable. My gran had died that year, so I was feeling down about that, but otherwise, I was doing very nicely, thank you very much. Then suddenly, sitting in a church, I heard a verse I didn’t know was in the Bible: “Envy rots the bones”, and I was confronted with my own sin. I knew for the first time that hell was real, I was on my way there and I couldn’t fix myself.

Nobody could have told me that. In fact, I’m glad the moment came in church and not through personal confrontation because if someone had said: “You need Jesus,” I probably would have bitten their head off. I didn’t see myself as being in need. Life was familiar and it was comfortable, but without Jesus, it amounted to nothing, and I was heading in the wrong direction. Sometimes people criticise preachers for talking about the fire of hell, but I was glad of it that night in 1999, because the Holy Spirit used it to shake me out of my complacency and prompt me to reach out to God.

When I heard God say in my heart: “Come because I love you,” I had no concept of the effect it would have on my life – how it would change my priorities and open my eyes to the needs of others. I don’t regret saying yes to God. I’m glad that as I live for Him, Jesus does what I couldn’t do and takes away my sin. Because of Him, I can look forward to an eternity not in hell, but in heaven where there are no more tears, and sin and suffering will be gone forever.

Death

We sang at church on Sunday an older song (I hadn’t heard it for some time) about how Jesus has beaten the power of death. These are the fundamentals for a Christian – to confess Jesus as Lord, and to believe God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9).

Death had no power over Him, so it won’t have any power over us. Of course, I’m not saying we won’t die. “Everyone must die once” (Hebrews 9:27), and the process leading up to that can be very traumatic for people, but Hebrews 9 goes on: “Christ was offered as a sacrifice one time to take away the sins of many people. And He will come a second time, but not to offer Himself for sin. He will come the second time to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.” If we trust that Jesus has saved us from death, then we know we’ll go into eternity with God, and we’ll have life with Him forever. What have we got to lose? We may lose our lives on earth, but we’ll endure and shine like stars in God’s heavenly kingdom.

31 Jesus-Benefits: That Same Power

“And you will know that God’s power is very great for us who believe. That power is the same as the great strength God used to raise Christ from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19-20).

Day 22 and there are some Jesus-benefits I can’t quite wrap my head around. This is one of them:

God’s mighty power working in me.

Those verses above – did you take them in? God’s power for us who believe is the same power that raised Christ from the dead! Christ who lay, lifeless and motionless, in a borrowed tomb. The power of God came when His Holy Spirit breathed life into Jesus’ already-deadness, and it was an angel of the LORD who rolled away the stone too large for a human being to move. That same power is at work in us! Amazing!

“With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

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The Blessing of Easter

I was inspired by this week’s Tuesday at Ten prompt: BLESSED.

Bereft, He prayed at Gethsemane – His soul overwhelmed with sorrow. “If it’s possible, take this from Me!” but the choice had already been made; He knew it would happen when the time came.

Lamb-like, He was led away – His friends deserting Him. From the house of the high priest, He looked straight at the one who denied all knowledge of Him.

Ethereal, He confessed to being the Son of Man who would sit at the right hand of God. Robes were torn and His death decreed.

Suffering, He was spat upon. Cruelly they blindfolded Him and asked who struck the blow. They bloodied His head with a crown of thorns.

Selfless, He thought of others in His darkest hours – telling the women to weep for themselves; entrusting His mother to John’s care; forgiving a common criminal.

Easter and the sun was rising. An angel rolled away the stone. There lay the tomb, open for all to see, but He was not there; He had risen!

Deliverer, He went to His disciples. Gave the oil of gladness instead of a spirit of despair. Suddenly they weren’t locked away in fear; there was hope and newness. “My Lord and my God!” one cried, as Jesus stood before His eyes, and the one who denied – he dived from the boat and swam to shore. He was completely known, and completely restored.

This Jesus – do you love Him? Then follow Him.

Tuesday at Ten: Create

I saw Karen’s prompt this week on Facebook, so here’s something I haven’t done for a while – joined in with Tuesday at Ten:

Thank You that You create something out of nothing, You whose Spirit hovered over the waters, who saw a beginning when there was nothing to see.

You brought land and life, the routine of day and night, and even before it all, You chose me.

You sent Your Son to die on a cross, so many years before I was born, years before I wanted to be Yours.

And even as I live my life, You look down in love and You guide my steps, knowing what I think and feel.

You see the closed doors and the questioning, and You say: “I will make the valley of trouble a door of hope” (Hosea 2:15).

Creator-God, You’ve never stopped creating. Your hope is always there in our trouble, so make us more aware; more thankful; more loving towards the One who offers us so much.

5-Minute Friday: Fill

Kate Motaung has taken over the reins of FMF this week. She explains on her blog how it works, and did you know Five Minute Friday has a Facebook page? I’ve really enjoyed writing for 5 minutes on this week’s prompt: Fill.
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It’s hard – the empty. You look in the inbox to discover an E-mail that closes a door ... and then another. It’s ok to hurt or to grieve, but the Bible tells us not to grieve like those who have no hope. Because yes, the empty is hard, but I’m blessed to know the One who fills – the One who says ‘Open your mouth and I will fill it’.

Even when the employment door’s stayed closed, He’s been there, filling my life with different ways I can use my time – perhaps not as much as I would like, but always the knowledge that He’s prepared good works for me to do. Always the reminder not to become weary of doing good, for at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up.

Do you know the One who wants to fill your empty? Who wants to come into the gaps and fill them with His peace? His love? Inviting Jesus into your life is something very special, and ultimately, life-changing. Life-changing because from that day forward, you’ll always have Him there with you to help you cope with whatever life may throw at you.

We Live … He Gives

“The Lord does not let good people go hungry, but He keeps evil people from getting what they want” (Proverbs 10:3).

 

“Good people will be remembered as a blessing, but evil people will soon be forgotten” (Proverbs 10:7).

 

“Good people are rewarded with life, but evil people are paid with punishment” (Proverbs 10:16).

 

“Evil people will get what they fear most, but good people will get what they want most” (Proverbs 10:24).

 

There’s a common theme here:  How we live affects what He gives.  We can’t be complacent and say that just because once twenty, forty, eighty years ago we put our faith in Jesus, we’ll be ok.  We have to walk out that faith; choose good over evil; live for Him every day.  Are you ready to be a Christian – a genuine follower of Christ?

31 Days of Song: “You are Good”

I’m in a happy mood because it’s been a good day here.  I didn’t have any meetings or school assemblies to do today, so I went round the shops instead and came back with some nice things, but however your day has been, there are some things that are unchangeable.

 

When I first moved to my flat, I really liked its location, but certain people weren’t sure about me moving to another part of town.  The previous tenants hadn’t lived here long and didn’t seem to have heated the place, so it felt much colder than I was used to.  On one of those days when the sceptics could have said I-told-you-so, I was sitting in the lounge feeling miserable – my feet absolutely freezing, when I heard this song for the first time:

“In the heat of the day …

“Before each kiss goodnight”?  Both those seemed so far removed from where I was that I felt even more sorry for myself and kind of switched off to it, but I took notice again when it came to the last verse:

“When it’s dark and it’s cold and I can’t feel my soul, You are so good;

“When the world has gone grey and the rain’s here to stay, You are still good.”  It was one of those songs that made me stop and think.  How can we but thank God that wherever we are in life, His love is always the same … and He’s always good.

A-Z: Zest for Life

There’s an Amy Grant song I absolutely hate.  Lyric-wise it’s probably one of the worst Christian songs I’ve heard.  The honest cries of breaking hearts are better than a hallelujah sometimes?  She’s basically saying God loves our honesty and brokenness more than our praise, but I don’t think that’s right.  Because I think us honestly telling God how we feel should complement our hallelujahs, but never replace them.  I remember hearing a friend say that when he felt down he would find things to praise God for, like a table or a chair or the roof over his head, and I think that’s what God loves – authentic praise; when things are going well, and in the midst of heartache.

When you reflect on someone’s limited time on this earth, you’re reminded of how important it is to take an extra-deep breath of fresh air and make the most of the time you’ve got.  I was originally going to put this quote from Pope John Paul II under H for hallelujah, but it fits in well with ‘Zest for life’.  “Do not abandon yourselves to despair.  We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”