Volume 6. Issue 1. 2016
FAITH IS TAKING THE FIRST STEP EVEN WHEN YOU DON'T SEE THE WHOLE STAIRCASE MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR .
IN THIS ISSUE
2016 A Restorative year
A Logical Life
The Gift of Presence
Amritha Perera - United Arab Emirates
The Velveteen Rabbit
Donâ€™t give up
Candy Daniels - Director
Danolene Johanessen - South Africa Jodie Chambers - Australia
Karen Bekker - Australia Trudy Buchanan - Australia
together making a difference
to Impart HOPE Ignite PASSION Inspire LIFE
Cover Photo - LIFE Images
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Victoria, Australia 2
WELCOMEâ€Ś. The LIFE newsletter is produced quarterly. Our hope is to bring you stories and articles that will encourage and equip you as you pursue to live life to the fullest. lifeâ€™s journey. We know that life is a journey with many twists and turns. It is not always how we start that matters in the end but how we choose to live everyday with the options that are before us. We would love to hear your stories and how you are overcoming challenges to follow your purpose, Feel free to share your stories with us. All personal details will be kept confidential. Today choose to live and love, your life!
United Arab Emirate
Towards the end of each year I begin to pray and seek God for a word that I can take hold of as a promise into the new year. The word that I felt in my spirit towards the end of last year was RESTORE. I grabbed it and stored it in my heart. I am looking forward with great anticipation and expectation of seeing and hearing stories of restoration. We often misplace our dreams and passions and lose sight of the things we wish to pursue at the start of the year. We get distracted with the challenges of everyday life. We lose focus and get disappointed. Often times we even blame God that He has left us and is not keeping to His promises. Would you like to look back on 2016 and see it as a restorative year. Then partner with God and pursue the desires of your heart as you seek God and put Him first in your life!
Candy Daniels 3
Welcome to 2016! For some of us we will read ‘welcome to 2016’ and we will think yeah!! Another year, lots to look forward to, good things happening. The thought of a new year brings positive thoughts and emotions. For some ‘welcome to 2016’ may not seem so welcoming. Actually you might rather not think about it. There may be some ongoing challenges or problems that will need to be faced or not so good situations that you are living in now. Maybe sickness, financial problems, family issues, loss, the list can go on. Maybe you are stuck in a cycle that seems negative and hopeless and year after year nothing seems to change. So I would like to share a small part of my story. In 2006 there was a family tragedy, a situation that was out of our control. This led to a chain of negative events. Not long after the initial loss I had an accident which took me out of action. Finances were hit hard, our family suffered as our whole way of life was shaken. It seemed whatever way we turned something would go wrong. During this hard time which seemed to last for years, as a family we did our best to stay positive, to stay hopeful, to focus on God and His promises, because in the natural our world was seemingly falling apart. There were times when the thought of a new year was exciting but during this time, I must confess, there were times that I would think ‘here we go again, what else can possibly go wrong. Luckily, for me those thoughts were challenged and I would once again turn to the Word of God and His promises and find strength, renewed hope and a change of perspective. What I learned was that we can’t always change the physical situation we are in but we can change our attitude, our perspective towards it. The dictionary meaning of Perspective is: a particular attitude towards or way of regarding something: a point of view. Your PERSPECTIVE is the way you SEE something.
There were times during that challenging period that the pain was too great, sadness too overwhelming, that my perspective was one of hopelessness. I struggled to see the positive. Even though I knew the promises of God, it wasn’t always easy because I was viewing life though the wrong perspective. Have you ever tried on someone else’s prescription glasses? I have and everything went out of focus, blurry, it was hard to see and I started to get a headache. I realised I was looking at life through the wrong lens. God wants us to view life through His perspective, His lens. This is something we need to learn. It doesn’t always seem to come naturally. We need to choose to be deliberate. Deliberate means: to do something consciously and intentionally, careful and unhurried. For me it took a conscious act of prayer: being honest with God about how I felt and asking for His help to change my perspective. It’s important to learn what His perspective is by reading His Word. Write it down, memorise it, say it daily. Ask others for prayer, seek help, spend time with someone who can look at your situation with a different perspective, can be really encouraging. Here are some of the promises of God that helped me to alter my perspective:Psalms 23:6 Certainly goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life, and I will remain in the Lord’s house forever. Read Psalm 23 Jeremiah 29:11 I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God – those whom He has called according to His plan. Romans 8:37 The one who loves us gives an overwhelming victory in all these difficulties. I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord show us. My prayer in 2016 is that we will all learn to see life through Gods perspective and I know that no matter what may come we will all have a happier new year. - Karen Bekker -
A few days ago I was talking with a friend about church life when they made the comment that "I was logical". They weren't having a go at me, they were just stating what I already knew about myself, that I am logical in my thinking, and in they way I view life. I do suffer from skin cancers and over the years I have had a number of operations to have them removed and so far all has been well. A few weeks ago I was facing yet another operation and was asked "How do I cope"? My logical mind says that if only I had worn sunscreen and a hat I might not be in this position today. I am middle aged (give or take) and that's the way it was back then, and so today I am reaping the rewards of that life-style. I don't blame my parents, God, or anyone else for that matter; it's just the way it was. Logical! My Christian walk has been taken with the same view and so my answer to the question 'How do I cope? is simply this, Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. If one of these cancers turns ugly and is the reason for taking me out it is irrelevant because it is God who numbers my days no one or nothing else. Life is good and is worth living, there are countless people who are far worse off than me, Gregory M Losig-Nont put it this way, "Today when I awoke I suddenly realised that this was going to be the best day of my life ever. There were times when I wondered if I would make it today, but I did. And because I did, I'm going to celebrate. Today I'm going to celebrate what an unbelievable life I've had so far. The accomplishments, the many blessings and yes, even the hardships, because they have served to make me stronger. I will go through this day with my head held high and a happy heart. I will marvel at God's seemingly simply gifts, the morning dew, the sun, the clouds, the trees, the flowers, the birds. Today I will 6
share my excitement for life with other people. I will make someone smile. I will go out of my way to perform an unexpected act of kindness for someone who seems down. Today is the day that I'll quit worrying about what I don't have and start being grateful for all the wonderful things that God has already given to me. I'll remember that to worry is just a waste of time because my faith in God and His divine plan ensures everything will be just right. And then tonight before I go to bed, I'll go outside and raise my eyes to the heavens. I'll stand in awe at the beauty of the stars and the moon and I will praise God for these magnificent treasures. As the day ends I will lay my head down on my pillow. I will thank the Almighty, the Lord Jesus Christ, for the best day of my life and I will sleep the sleep of a contented child, excited with expectation because I know tomorrow is going to be the best day of my life ever".
- Logical -
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We had the
privilege of spending Christmas in one of the most magnificent places in the world, Queenstown. Our hotel overlooked the beautiful Lake Wakatipu and the majestic Remarkables. During my daily walk around the lake and cruising around this incredible place, full of so much beauty and wonder of God’s creation, I reflected back to when I lived in New Zealand and this was my home turf - how much I took this for granted and didn’t really consider how special it was. and amazing it was! When I think back over life, the art of being present and enjoying the moment has often evaded me. I’ve had a purpose, a mission and job to complete but have often missed and not been grateful for what was right in front of me. Perhaps that conversation or that scenery was my purpose for that moment. I used to think I was the queen of multitasking but have since discovered that, in fact, we are not wired or designed to multitask. Multitasking often makes tasks harder as ‘recall’ does not function as well; life is less enjoyable as we miss so much of the quality that is embedded in our relationships, daily habits and what is revealed around us. Some simple steps (which for some of us take a lot of practice!): Do one thing at a time Breathe deeply Do things slowly with more intentionality Do less Allow for space between tasks or appointments Learn to do nothing for short periods Be present for friends/family Eat slowly and enjoy flavours Be self-aware about what is driving you to be so busy Meditate of meaningful modalities ie walking, scripture, art etc Experience and consider your surroundings The present of presence can lead us to being more peaceful, self/other-aware, creative, productive, grateful and sensate. Trudy Buchannan 8
Events in our lives have the ability to shape us not just in a spiritual way but also in most areas of our lives. A few years ago in 2006, doctors told me after having 3 miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy, ‘sorry Mrs. Johanessen but it doesn’t look like you will be able to conceive a child. It took us awhile to make peace with it, but somehow in the back of our minds we had this undeniable fact and truth that God has the last say. During that time God took me and my husband Tony back to the day we got married. God had forewarned us of what was to come. The minister at our wedding, spoke on Isaac and Rebekah and how they couldn’t conceive a baby, but God instructed Isaac to lay his hands on Rebekah’s womb and petition God. Out of this they had twins. We started to really take God at His Word. We received a promise from God that we will have a daughter and her name must be Hannah. We started as a couple to speak Hannah through the Word of God alive inside of me. It was powerful, as it created an expectation in the inside of us. After spending a year in consistent everyday strategic proclamations and prayer, we saw the hand of God in action. When we found out in September 2007 that we were 6 weeks pregnant, it was as if we could taste the presence and power of God in a real way. We almost lost Hannah so many times; the doctors said they couldn't find her heart beat or my hormone levels had dropped or I started bleeding and the doctors gave up hope. Each time we would go back to God and remind Him of His Word and the mandate that is on Hannah’s life. Hannah was born with the cord around her neck and at 2 hours old the doctors wanted to declare Hannah brain dead but again we had to see beyond the facts and the negatives and see the truth of God’s Word in the matter. We declared the Word of God over her and we saw the miraculous power of God in action. Today, Hannah is almost 8 years old and doing exceptionally well at school as well as truly walking with God at such a young age. 9
Two years after Hannah’s birth the Lord spoke prophetically to us saying that we will have another daughter. In 2009 I fell pregnant with Jemma and gave birth to her at 30 weeks. Jemma was in neonatal ICU for two and a half months and weighed just over 1kg. She was so small and her skin so thin that the doctors had to cling wrap her in plastic to keep her skin moisturised and give her a chance to mature. What a testing time it was, even though the promises and reality of them was awesome, the reality in the natural was more overwhelming than ever. We were tested on all levels, especially financially and emotionally. There were days when I couldn’t cope anymore, when my faith was low and wavering, where I felt I was failing and not standing. In those times, I couldn’t pray or speak the Word of God into being. I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide there till it was all over. In those times the power of who the Holy Spirit is was very comforting and powerful. I had to rely on the Holy Spirit being our comforter, guide and strength. The power of godly and spirit filled friends was a true source of strength. I had to believe that God knows what He is doing and that He is in the process of building character and patience inside of Tony and myself. I choose to believe that God is developing a story and testimony inside of us to be able to share with others who are going through similar trials. Looking back over the past 10 years, I wouldn’t want to change any event that we went through because it has truly shaped us into who we are today and it has made us sharper in the Spirit. When Jemma was 3 years old the Lord spoke to us saying that I will be pregnant again and we will have a son and that he will be powerful in the hand of God. I wasn’t interested in having another baby, I couldn’t see my self going through the trauma and pain of carrying another full term. Yet, here I am 2 years later pregnant. Yet again it is not an easy ride. I fell into depression as I couldn’t believe I was pregnant, my biggest question was how are we going to make it. It is such a overwhelming feeling, I could only see the negative and the things we don’t have. One would think that by now I had learned that God is a God of His Word and Tony and I had choices that we could have made. God in His almighty power has it all worked out, He knows the end from the beginning and He will work everything out for our good, 10
because He loves us. Yet, it doesn’t make it easy. So I keep reminding myself of what God has done in the past and the fact that we partnered with God. I am 35 weeks pregnant with our promised son; we have named him Caleb. Over the last 35 weeks, God really had to build patience and endurance in me. I got discouraged along the way, frustrated most of the time because just like the other two pregnancies it has been difficult to carry him. I spend most or a lot of time in the hospital with various challenges. God is still faithful and amazing! A few days ago when I was in hospital, I reflected on the year and what God has done for us. I couldn’t but think of the power of prayer, and how at times we have to PUSH things through in prayer waiting, for the manifestation of that which is promised by God for us. We have to Push Until Success Happens, just like a woman in labour has to push until the promise/baby is born. So we have to push, it might seem long to us but God’s timing is perfect. I realised that what we think is long is actually short in God’s eyes. He values time differently to the way we do. It is most of the time up to us to work with God to see the manifestations rather than work against Him. I trust that my story will encourage you to keep on keeping on - pushing through in prayer and speaking the truth of Gods Word over your circumstances and live to see the power of Gods hand upon your lives. Danolene Johanessen
The Velveteen Rabbit is a children’s book written in 1922 by Margery Williams. It tells the story of a toy rabbit that is loved into being a real rabbit. The rabbit is a new toy to the nursery and gets advice on becoming real from the nursery rocking horse. “What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day,……..”Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become REAL.” …..”It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.” Real or genuine qualities in people are sort after by many of us in a relationship, yet they can be hard to find. Finding these qualities in others is a journey that needs to start with yourself. First you have to be a genuine and real person. This may mean people will try to break you; you may need to look at your own sharp edges and check your own sensitivities and prejudices. Being real means being able to understand yourself as being worse than you thought, and better than you think. Sitting between these two extremes can be difficult. To feel better and avoid our breaking points and sharp edges, we look to others to validate our position. We may say things like “I’m not as bad as them,” or “I wish I was like them.” We start to believe that being real means trying to imitate others. The Bible tells us that Jesus wants us to come to Him, as we are. Jesus also says He will meet us where we are. Being real requires us to follow Him as our example. He is the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb13:8). Jesus doesn’t need others to make Him feel good. He doesn’t have breaking points or sharp edges and isn’t too sensitive or prejudiced. He is real… all the time. Being real starts with believing you are fully accepted by Jesus and belong to God as his precious child, allowing Jesus to validate you. 12
The Skin Horse says that you can only become real after being really loved for a long time. God has loved us from before we were born. (Psa 139:13). He really loved us from the beginning and He knows who we really are. It doesn’t take a long time to become real with Christ, it takes belief and faith to be who you were created to be. What do you want to do with your life? What gets you excited and out of bed in the morning? If you don’t know the answer to these questions then you need to spend more time with God and find out. If you do know the answer to these questions then what is stopping you from being real? You were created to be better than you think, so start living the life you were given. Jodie Chambers
I find that most often people are either talking about the unpredictability of the weather, health challenges or fear associated with world events. Everything around us these days from the news to conversations are either based on fear or creating doubt. When our mentality is focused on the negatives, life will mostly appear to be filled with doom & gloom. With a negative mentality about : Weather - you can expect that there will never be an ideal condition that suits everyone Wellbeing - you can expect weakened health (physically, mentally, spiritually) unless your taking steps needed to maintain your wellbeing World - you can expect that media reports are going to feed your fear more than offer hope We can choose to enjoy living despite the weather conditions, we can also choose what and who we listen to; be it with friends, colleagues or the media reports. It is not about being ignorant about what is going on around us; rather it is about taking control over what we let influence us. Now about our wellbeing, I believe it starts with having a healthy mentality. 13
Physical - exercise, eat healthy & get rest. We are responsible for how well we choose to look after our bodies. Stop being paranoid that you are going to catch everything from a cold to cancer. The more the focus on the impending gloom the more the possibility you will weaken your immunity through worry. I am starting to think that the reason we have more chronic conditions is due to poor or lack of self care & self awareness. We are all different; what is good for one is not always good for another. Mental - exercise, eat healthy & get rest. Mental exercise is doing things that are challenging that makes the brain think outside of your box. The brain is geared to work and it is a machine that doesn’t stop working. When we are sleeping the brain utilises the time to consolidate memories, build immunity, calm emotions…. Food is known to help either stimulate, relax or send brain activity into overdrive. Be mindful of what you feed your brain be it in the form of food/nutrition as well as what you let in through your senses. Our senses feed the brain as well. Take time out to relax & have fun, this can be very calming and aids brain function and better management of emotional responses. Social - exercise, eat healthy & get rest. Social exercise is based on those who you socialise with. Do you leave people’s company feeling good about your self or deflated. You may need to review your relationships. Also, keep in mind that if you are a social butterfly then you are going to require more catch ups with people. On the other hand if you are more of an introvert ensure you have lone time, otherwise you will start to feel overwhelmed being around people all the time. Keep in mind that even social butterflies need ‘me’ time; just not as often as a person who is a introvert. Spiritual - exercise, eat healthy & get rest. Spiritual exercise is taking time to pray, praise & worship. Believe it or not it actually aids a person’s ability to be at rest and at peace with self. Eating healthy is about what you do to keep your spirit alive and thriving; it is helpful to read or study the Bible as well as other material that stimulates you to grow in your faith. In order to maintain our wellbeing we need to look after our entire being. Each part is important and required for optimal living. I don’t believe that life is merely for survival but for intentional living. Some of the happiest people are not those who have everything money can buy; rather it is those who make the most of the simple pleasures in life despite the challenges that come their way. They make time to play, rest and eat; they find time to balance the necessities to enjoy the life they are blessed with. Candy Daniels 14
The Lord Jesus told us many parables to help us understand heavenly truths. One of them is on prayer found in Luke 18:1-8
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.” Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” In this parable the widow doesn’t give up. Though the judge is a wicked man, she doesn’t stop coming to him. Each time, to return she would have had to be humble, and she would have treated the judge with respect. If not she would not have got pass the gate. There are many lessons to learn from this widow. Do we give up when our prayers are not answered? Do we blame God and get angry with Him? Do we become bitter and resentful? Do we pray few times and then when there are no results, do we lose faith? Jesus says ‘Don’t give up’ don’t lose heart, keep going to the Heavenly Father. If that unjust Judge answered the widow because she didn’t give up, how much more the heavenly father will answer you and me, if we don’t give up! Finally, remember that your heavenly Father has your best interest at heart. If what you asked was good for you, He will gladly give it to you, for He will not withhold any good gift, not even His only son! Romans 8:32 “ He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, will he not much more with Him freely give us all things?”
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale “When you are in an upsetting situation, pray for everyone involved. Pray hard and be open to the power of God." Prayer is a gift that blesses you and those for whom you pray and it is something that can be done at any time, in any place, whenever you have a moment to give. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Amritha Perera 15
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