SPRING 2011 Volume 58 Number 4
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Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle ROLE MODELLING STARTS AT HOME So how do we do it effectively?
God wants women whole in every area
the lost art of journaling
• Deal or no deal? • The best advice ever given • To silence and beyond
CW contents: In this issue... 10 Having a healthy lifestyle that counts We interview author Michelle Jorna on her latest book Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle 14 Role modelling starts at home Allowing the world to decide who your daughter’s role models will be is a perilous decision. Lara Phegan shows you how you can be your daughter’s major influence.
16 How to get your man talking again Wives, here is something for you to contemplate when you are frustrated that your husbands
won’t communicate as you would wish them to... Berni Dymet 20 To silence and beyond Understanding the importance of communing with God in the stillness of the world is vital to our close relationship with him... Ruth PurdieSmith 24 Deal or no deal? Whether you find yourself at the start of your relationship or perhaps have been seeing someone for a while, at some point the question lingers—how can I be sure if he’s the one? Sandra Cavallo 26 Communicating with God A journal is a flower, a canvas, a safety deposit box and a cup of coffee with a friend. It can hold your dreams, record your life, challenge your thinking, refresh your soul and redirect your steps. Charlotte Durut 28 Hold on Sarah Perrett looks at the reality of the seasons of life, and the necessity of holding on throughout all of them.
26 4 Christian Woman Spring 2011
EDITOR’S LETTER See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come... Song of Solomon 2:10
Hi Girls, Welcome to this issue of Christian Woman magazine, available to you absolutely FREE from any Koorong store across Australia. What a fantastic opportunity to hold and read your magazine again! Whilst online is brilliant for reaching ALL women across the globe, there is nothing quite like the feeling of sitting in the warm sun with a cup of tea and your favourite magazine. In this issue of Christian Woman, we get ready for spring! We chat with author Michelle Jorna about her new book Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle and discuss her desire to write a book that acknowledged the need to look at the whole person, provide the spiritual context from a Christian point of view, and provide evidenced-based, quality health advice. A must read for all of the mother’s of daughters is Lara Phegan’s article on Role Modelling. She emplores all mothers to be the most effective role model in your young daughter’s life and offers some very practical keys to do so. For those frustrated wives out there with non-communicative husbands, rejoice! Bernie Dymet has delved into the male ‘cave’ and provided some great insight into getting your man talking again. Now that winter is over in the Southern Hemisphere its time to do that annual spring clean of the spirit. Ruth Purdie-Smith takes us on a journey into a silent retreat at a Benedictine Abbey. She reflects on the importance of being still with God. Plus, Charlotte Durut picks up her pen and dwells on the lost art of journaling and how effective that form of communication is. We also, have lots more for you to enjoy. So please, find that spot in the sun with your cup of tea or coffee and enjoy this issue of Christian Woman. With love,
Nicole Danswan 6 Christian Woman Spring 2011
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10 Christian Woman Spring 2011
Having a healthy lifestyle that counts Michelle Jorna takes us through her journey of writing a book that helps women (and men) to live life to the fullest, incorporating great health and fitness.
Why did you decide to write ‘Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle: Loving ALL of YOU? In the past I have always felt a connection between my physical, mental and spiritual health. When I was 18 I joined the Army and soon after had an accident playing rugby and injured my back. That and a car accident in the same year have caused me chronic back and neck pain. It took me a while before I made the connection that when I was feeling really stressed my back pain levels were much higher. As I look back, my whole life I have had a strong physical expression of my mental health. One of the lowest times in my life when I was so severely sleep deprived and stressed with sick kids I suffered Bell’s palsy, which took a long time to recover from. I spent some time in counseling and seeking advice and discovered that the key to managing my stress levels and coping mentally lied in spending time with God. Time in prayer and meditation, reading the Bible and just sitting in his presence helped decrease my stress levels. As my stress levels decreased so did my back pain. So the connection between my physical, mental and spiritual health is an everyday reality for me, and the inspiration behind this book.
diabetes and strength training for example. One of my pet peeves is health advice that is not scientifically backed up. Open up a women’s health magazine today and half, if not more, of the health information is absolute rubbish, not a shred of scientific evidence! So I wanted to write a book that was holistic in nature, that is, which included physical, mental and spiritual health, that had health advice which was evidence based, referenced and provided the science about how our bodies worked; why exercise and nutrition are important! How did you come up with the title? My co-author Elizabeth came up with the title. She looked at the meaning of the word ‘Embrace’ and how it means to grab a hold of something and draw it in, which is what we are hoping the reader does with the concepts in this book. It’s not a quick fix, it’s about the lifelong journey of embracing health. The Loving ALL of YOU is also essential as it refers to each aspect of your health being very important. You are worth it! You can only give to others out of your own abundance. You need to be healthy, not just physically, but mentally and spiritually.
What motivated you to write the book?
Tell us a bit about what your book covers
My background is in health behaviour research, and part of my job is searching for scientific evidence on specific health topics, like weight loss, hypertension,
The book covers looking at health proactively; it shows you the process involved in changing your health behaviours, the mental preparation you
need to do before starting, including discovering your personal health vision and values. Physical activity and strength training recommendations are explained, along with the scientific evidence for how it benefits your body, prevents disease and promotes longevity. The practical applications are also included, where the reader is challenged to start a daily exercise plan, count steps and time spent strength training, all while journaling in the health journal. There are practical applications at the end of each chapter where you have the opportunity to put into practice the advice, and journal your progress. The Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle Loving ALL of YOU Active Journal corresponds with the book and has a spot for you to record your daily physical activity, thoughts, prayers, inspirations and for you to plan the week’s exercise. Motivation is covered, and working with your health care provider is also discussed. Do you know all the preventative health screens you need to do as a woman each year and why they are so important? Do you hope by writing the book that you’re reaching out to men or women who are having, or have had, the same experience? We know that 76% of Australian women lead sedentary lives and it’s only getting worse. We also know that: • Women are less active than men, in fact in a recent report by Australian Bureau of Statistics 76% of adult
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A God given purpose, one that we
I think we have been put on this earth for a reason. A Godgiven purpose, one that we can only truly achieve by being healthy in all areas - physically, mentally and spiritually. It was my desire to write a book that acknowledged the need to look at the whole person, provide the spiritual context from a Christian point of view, and provide evidenced-based, quality health advice. I also felt the need to raise awareness of the plight of women less fortunate than ourselves; women trying to break the poverty cycle and increase the opportunities for themselves and their families. Because of this, with every book purchased money will be loaned to women needing that opportunity, through Kiva.org. You empower a woman to help her family on the other side of the world by purchasing this book!
Can only truly achieve by being healthy in all areas - physically, mentally and spiritually women are leading sedentary lives, a higher percentage than ever before. • In women, physical inactivity is the leading contributor for overall burden of disease. They need to balance health in with work, and parenting is more of a challenge now than ever before. Every time I share my story I find someone who has struggled with chronic pain, who has issues with motivation, or is searching for spiritual fulfillment. It is my hope and prayer that this book will help those who have ever had struggles in starting and/or maintaining healthy behaviours that they would find hope and take the next small step to bridging the gap between knowing and doing. Was there a particular audience you were aiming to reach through telling your story? There are two different audiences I guess: women who know God and have a relationship with him, who are looking for an evidenced-based health book, and non-Christian women who are looking for a book that takes into account spirituality and the need to look at health from a holistic point of view. What did you set out to achieve by writing the book?
Can you tell us about your background? I have spent the last 10 years working in health behaviour research, at Deakin University and the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute. Much of what I have learnt has been about helping people move through the stages of change; from contemplating change to preparing for change, and then actually adopting and maintaining new health behaviours. The last project I worked on was called the STRONG study, where we helped older adults with type 2 diabetes start a strength training program. You are never too old to benefit from strength training! It’s one of my passions to see older adults maintain their independence and quality of life through keeping their muscles and bones strong.
I have recently had a baby and am now busy raising three boys, and recovering from a difficult pregnancy, which has given me the opportunity to take time to work on this and the next book. What’s next for you as an author? Well, Elizabeth and I have the second book coming out next year, which looks at how your body works and interacts on physical, emotional and spiritual levels to affect your health; in particular, your nutritional intake and metabolism. Guidance on how to achieve your recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals specific to your life stage and age is provided. How to boost your metabolism, exercise and eat for fat loss and long term management of a healthy body weight is explained, along with the scientific evidence providing the reason behind the advice. The emotional side to eating and positive body image is also looked at, with a focus on self-nurturing and selfcare. The aim of this book is for you to continue your journey to living life with vitality, energy and balance by focusing on what you eat and why you eat it. Are you planning on writing more? The next book I am working on is about the road ahead after having babies, recovering from pregnancy and achieving balance in life. It’s something that I feel as women we put huge pressure on ourselves to give our children the best opportunities in life, mounted with the stress of finances and health, just to name a few... CW BOOK ONE
Michelle says, “In brief, the book covers: • physical health advice, including the Australian recommendations for physical activity, what you need to do, how much to do, when to do it and why its important for your body • strength training and the evidence to support why it’s important for your muscles and bones, and how to practically start a program (includes example exercises) • primary health care information about health screening for women and working with your health care provider and symptoms not to ignore • information on mental health including warning signs for depression and stress • information on spiritual health and things you can do to improve it
Lifestyle Loving ALL of YOU
A proven BIBLICAL guide to achieving a healthy, active, lifestyle
MICHELLE JORNA with ELIZABETH
Each topic covered has a list of recommended readings for further study and each chapter includes a list of action items to do using the journal to track progress along the journey of improving your health.” 12 Christian Woman Spring 2011
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Role Modelling STARTS AT HOME Allowing the world to decide who your daughter’s role models will be is a perilous decision. LARA PHEGAN shows you how you can be your daughter’s major influence.
ne of the most effective things you can do to help your daughters become strong, passionate, confident women is to work on developing those things in yourself. The way you live your life will have a profound impact on your girls. It’s not only who you are as a mother that sets an example, but who you are as a woman. The way you approach your own life and the choices you make are sending strong messages to your girls. You can talk to them and teach them things but ultimately your daughters will learn what it means to be a woman of faith by watching and observing you as you live your life. Learning how to parent more effectively is important and worthwhile. But so is learning to live more effectively. You can teach your daughters important skills for life by putting them into practice in your own life. Give your girls the gift of a powerful, self-loving, passionate female role-model – you! Be a positive, powerful, female role-model. Own your strengths. Do you know what you’re good at? Can you name your gifts? Many of us learned as young girls that it’s not safe to shine. We grew up hearing comments like: ‘You’re getting too big for your boots’; ‘You need to be brought down a peg or two’; ‘Your head won’t fit through the door’; ‘Don’t get any fancy ideas’; and ‘Just who do you think you are’? Comments like these taught us that it’s not okay to be too clever or too talented. As a result many of us learned
14 Christian Woman Spring 2011
parenting. to down-play our strengths. We learned to minimize our achievements and brush off even the most well-deserved praise. The interesting thing is that most of us are not in danger of becoming ‘too big for our boots’. The bigger issue for many women is not an over-inflated ego, but a lack of genuine self-worth. It’s time to question the beliefs that keep us small and cause us to downplay our talents. We have all been given gifts. And when we develop our God-given gifts we shine. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating that. Talking about your strengths doesn’t make you big-headed; it’s how you talk about them that reveals whether you have a hungry ego that needs feeding or a healthy confidence in your abilities. Using your gifts doesn’t make you a ‘show off’; it’s how you use your gifts that reveals whether you have a craving for attention or a desire to serve and contribute what you love. Give yourself permission to name, own and use your gifts. Be fabulous at what you do. Let your girls see your joy, your pride and the self-respect you feel when you’re doing something you’re good at - something you love to do. Something God made you to do. Show them that it’s a blessing to have strengths and that it’s how you use your gifts that matters. Be the heroine of your life. Whether you like fairytales or not, the idea some day in the future that we’re going to live ‘happily ever after’ is all around us. Movies, books and TV shows reinforce the idea that one day, if we’re lucky, our lives will be perfectly wonderful. And while our lives can be wonderful, they’ll never be perfect. Or free of pain. Or without heartache. And there will be plenty of disappointments along the way too. While it may seem depressing to face this reality, it’s actually liberating. Once you get that this life was never going to be perfect in the first place (and never will be) you can get on with enjoying the blessings you do have and do whatever it is you need to do to face your current
challenges. you want them to. Know Letting your girls see that life is a what you want and ask for it. journey of ups and downs won’t destroy them; it will prepare them to face the Be more than beautiful challenges that will undoubtedly come We all know there is more to a their way. By acknowledging that life person than external appearance, b u t is made up of seasons that involve both our society places so much emphasis on good and difficult times, they’ll see that external beauty and body size that many the aim of this life is not perfection, but young girls are extremely concerned participation. with how they look. Be the one to show them that It’s important to provide some although ‘happily ever after’ doesn’t This life may not be perfect or happy exist, it is possible to be the heroine of all the time, but it is worth living – teach your own life; to face life’s challenges your girls to welcome the quest. with courage and strength, to follow your passion, to stay open to love and to balance and show your girls that there stand for what you believe in. is more to being a woman than being This life may not be perfect or happy beautiful. This is not about ignoring all the time, but it is worth living – teach the physical part of being a woman; your girls to welcome the quest. it’s not about denying sensual selves or our physical beauty, but about taking a Ask for what you want more holistic view of what it means to be Many of us learned that it’s rude or wrong women and feel great about ourselves. to ask for what we want. As a result, One way to bring some balance is lots of women wait for other people to to point out and admire non-physical guess, pick up on hints, or simply know qualities as well as physical ones. Make what it is they want. Everyone spends a a conscious effort to acknowledge great deal of time mind-reading, second and celebrate the inner qualities, guessing and trying to figure out what achievements and personal strengths might be appropriate. No wonder people of yourself, your daughters and other end up hurt, frustrated and disappointed women – not because beauty or the with each other! pursuit of it is bad, but because despite Show your daughters that you don’t what we’ve been lead to believe, it’s not have to buy into the belief that ‘good everything. girls don’t ask’. Choose to take full As they go through life, your girls responsibility for getting your needs met will be influenced by many different and be willing to ask for what you want. people and many different things. What If you want your partner to take you out do you want them to learn from you? for dinner, ask. If you want your visitors It’s so important that we encourage to leave by 10pm, ask. If you want some our girls to be as confident, authentic, time to go away with a friend, ask. If wonderful and strong as they can be. you want to spend some of your joint But it’s even more important that we savings, ask. If you want your mother show them how. to baby sit, ask. If you want to know Be the one to light the way for your what you need to do to be considered for daughter. CW promotion, ask. Don’t give your power away by Lara Phegan is a writer and teacher leaving it up to other people to guess in the field of personal and spiritual what you want. Stop waiting around development. hoping that things will turn out how
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a different perspective.
Wives, here is something for you to contemplate when you are frustrated that your husbands won’t communicate as you would wish them to... Berni Dymet should know. He is a husband!
any women feel that their husbands have become virtual recluses. In fact, here’s a common scenario that plays itself out night after night in many households. The wife comes home after a long and stressful day and what she wants to do, is to share her day with her husband. This makes enormous sense to her, because as she shares those things with him (things that to him often seem like irrelevant minutia in far too much detail) … the stress of her day begins to evaporate. By the end of the conversation, she’s feeling much happier about herself, her relationships and life in general. It was just the tonic she needed. And of course, by now – she’s waiting on him to do the same. He’s just experienced the privilege of sharing in her deepest thoughts and emotions and needs – something she wouldn’t do with anyone else. And now it’s time for him to share the detail of his day with her. It makes absolute sense… to her. But by now he’s retreated into his shell ... yet again. Because 16 Christian Woman Spring 2011
for years he’s tried to help her with her problems. “Man – she goes on with the same things every day. She needs to get over some of this stuff.” So he’d come up with this suggestion or that idea. A solution for a conflict at the office – or another way of looking at things. But every time he did that, he’d get his head bitten off, because (whilst it never really made sense to him) she didn’t want him to solve any of the problems. She just wanted him to listen to her, to understand and to empathise. That’s all she ever needed. So, after years of conflict, he’s learned to tune out (much to her disappointment and pain – I just can’t talk to you about anything anymore!) and go into his nightly relaxation zone in front of the TV. “So darling – how was your day?” she finally asks him, in a vain attempt to get the conversation rolling. “Humph. Alright I guess. Had a couple of meetings. Fred played up a bit – difficult character. And that Cheryl woman… anyhow it’s all under control now,” he muses as he’s channel surfing with the remote control. “That’s it? That’s all that happened?” “Pretty much,” he says as he settles down to a re-run of M*A*S*H that he’s seen at least twenty-seven times before.
Now she’s learned something too. For years she badgered him. “You just don’t listen… tell me more about your day. What happened at the meeting? Why was Fred being difficult? How did you feel about that? Is it really resolved? And who’s Cheryl – you’ve never mentioned her before today?!” But he’s not interested. Because the way he deals with stress is to take his mind off the causes by watching the news, or the M*A*S*H rerun, or something else. The last thing he wants to do is to regurgitate his day blow by blow, because all that will do is bring back the things that cause him stress. No! What he instinctively knows about himself is that after just a half hour in front of the TV, he’ll feel much better. Left to himself, he’s ready to communicate naturally, after the stress of the day has evaporated for him too. But the more she badgers him, the more he closes down and retreats, and the less he talks and the further they drift apart and the worse she feels. This is how marriages fall apart. It happens over and over and over again. Is There Something She Can Do? Question is – if you’re a wife with this problem – what can you do about it? Is
The last thing he wants to do is to regurgitate his day blow by blow, because all that will do is bring back the things that cause him stress.
there a solution? Well, that’s precisely why I sat down and wrote this article: to help any wife who is struggling with this problem in her marriage. That’s not to say that men don’t have to learn something about communication as well. Clearly we do. But this article is here specifically for wives this time – with some insights and solutions that are going to help you unlock your husband’s emotions again and get him communicating. And here’s my iron-clad guarantee:
if you manage to get your husband to read this article, and he doesn’t cry out – “YES!! That’s it, that’s exactly it!” then I’ll take off my shoe and eat it. (Not really, but it sounds pretty impressive!) The point is, the solution is very straightforward. It may take a little time, a little patience and a little faith – but the solution is within your grasp. And as a typical, straight-out-of-central-casting male, let me share it with you. It comes in two parts.
Why Nagging Never Works The first part is removing one of the key causes of the problem. If you’re a wife, then my suggestion to you is that you read this next paragraph, re-read it, let it sink in and never forget it: Trying to get your husband to open up and communicate by badgering and nagging him, will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever work. Got it? Never. And the reason for that is actually in the Bible. It’s because… A quarrelsome wife is like a constant
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a different perspective.
“wives – listen to this very carefully – the majority of wives simply have no idea of the awesome power that their beauty has over their husbands”
dripping on a rainy day (Proverbs 27:15) Thank you Solomon; spoken like a true male. In fact, the Hebrew word translated here in the NIV as quarrelsome means to be contentious, nagging and brawling. In other words, to her husband, the wife’s nagging is like water torture – drip, drip, drip. And before long it drives him absolutely crazy – to the point where he just can’t take it anymore. And, being a man, the way you deal with that (after discovering that your own angry outbursts don’t work either) is that you switch off – because you’re a man and you can. So the more she nags, the tighter his emotions roll up into a ball. It’s that simple! Picture an armadillo (the South American Tolypeutes species to be specific) rolling up into a tight ball to defend itself with its armour on the outside and its soft face and underbelly on the inside. That’s what’s happening to the husband’s emotions. The more she nags him, the more he responds by rolling up into a tight ball… to defend himself. So, not only does nagging not work, but it actually makes things much, much worse! A nagging wife will cause her husband to withdraw and to become distant and aloof – even when she’s right! The rights and wrongs of the argument are completely irrelevant. It’s about protection. By and large, this is the only way he knows how to deal with his stress. The reason he switches off from work, is to alleviate the impact of the stress. And if his wife’s nagging is causing him stress (which it undoubtedly is) he’ll switch off from her too for exactly the same reason: to protect himself.
18 Christian Woman Spring 2011
Something that does Work The second part of the solution is replacing the thing that didn’t work, with something that does work. And surprising as it may be to some - this too can be found in the Bible. It may on the surface, not appear particularly politically correct; it may not feel right or fair to you, if you’re a wife whose heart has been bruised by an uncommunicative husband; it may take courage to accept… but it does work: Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1 Peter 3:1-4) Again according to Peter, step 1 is to stop nagging him. The best way to win him over is without words. And whilst nagging makes him roll up into a tight little ball, when the nagging stops, he has no reason to protect himself anymore and so his emotions will start to open up again, as certainly as night follows day. Deep down, he wants to be close to his wife; in most cases – desperately so! And when he doesn’t have to protect himself from stress anymore, he’ll become accessible to her again. It might take a week or two or three of no nagging, but if you’re a wife, you might be surprised at how quickly he can bounce back. And step 2, wives, is to win him over with your inner beauty. Now as a man and, for the record, I do not recommend that you use Peter’s words here as an
excuse to let yourself go. But what Peter is saying, is that not only is a gentle and quiet spirit of great worth in God’s sight, but also in your husband’s sight. In fact my hunch is that the majority of wives – listen to this very carefully – the majority of wives simply have no idea of the awesome power that their beauty has over their husbands. I mean that in every sense of a woman’s beauty – emotional and physical. It’s a power that God put there by design. It’s a power for good – that’s part of the chemistry that binds husband and wife together – so that the two become one. Let me say it again: most women completely underestimate the magnetic quality of their inner beauty to their husbands. And this beauty is ever at your disposal wives (once the nagging has stopped and his emotions are opening up again) as a strategic weapon in your armory to bring about godly healing in your marriage. You have something that works! Wives, if you doubt me about the power of your beauty to open your husband’s heart – then shove this article under his nose and ask him to tell you whether or not I’m right. His answer is likely to sweep you off your feet! When you stop contending with him and nagging him, and instead start to lavish your beauty on him, my hunch is that you’ll be amazed at how quickly things start to turn around. Because now, instead of having to protect himself, he can do what he really wants to do, what he was made to do, which is to draw close to you. All of a sudden, he’ll be open and be ready to understand your needs and even... to share a little more of his day with you. CW Berni Dymet www.christianityworks.com
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To silence and beyond 20 Christian Woman Spring 2011
n his book, Opening to God, David Benner says the following, â€œThink of how much your experience of yourself, others and the world would change if you were continuously attuned to the loving presence of God and allowed the life of God to flow into and through you with each breath.â€? Pause and consider how your life would change if you lived moment by moment in continuous openness to God. My journey into moment by moment living began earlier this year. I went on a silent retreat to a Benedictine Abbey. It lasted only 48 hours but irrevocably impacted my life. Prior to this I had begun Christian meditation at a local church. Several members of the group went to the retreat as an extension of our discipline of meditation. The Abbey is about two hours drive from Sydney and is nestled on a mountaintop with sweeping views of lush paddocks and the NSW south coast. The Benedictine nuns are not a silent order; their mission is to pray for the world and to offer their hospitality to those who seek it. Being served by this company of women was humbling and their serenity inspiring. With quiet dignity they lived out their calling and were on hand to offer guidance. Entering into this setting and settling into the simple timber cottage, I was enveloped in a sense of peace. Deciding to leave the cottage I edged towards the rainforest walk, deeming this a suitable starting point for an encounter with God. I was not sure how or when I would hear from him. Walking along the path, overhung with foliage and glistening with damp from earlier rain, I brushed away a cobweb which blocked my
Understanding the importance of communing with God in the stillness of the world is vital to our close relationship with him...Ruth Purdie-Smith way. Instantly I felt an inner voice say, “This is a path no one else has walked on.” The words of Hebrews came to mind, “ … run with perseverance the path marked out for us.’’ (Heb 12:1) As I mulled over these words, I had a clear sense that the Lord had spoken. Later, as I read a book prior to going to sleep, I was struck by the heading on the fourth page. It was the same verse (Heb 12:1-2). I now felt sure that God was speaking and my ears were open. The day at the Abbey starts at 4:30am with worship. I was not aware of any of our group who made it! At 8:00am we joined the next service and were invited to share in communion. It was moving to partake of the bread and wine beneath the cross in the chapel. We sat in silence afterwards and as tears flowed, I let God have his way. Following the service I met with one of the nuns. She listened graciously to my questions and sympathised with my humanity as I spoke of my struggles to be still and commune with God. She made helpful suggestions such as: • Read small passages of Scripture take it slowly and do not try to do too much • Pray as you can - there are no formulas, no rules • God always hears us and always answers us • Set aside a time and place for regular prayer and meditation. We came together as a group for teaching on Lectio Divina, which means divine reading. The session was opened with these words, “Nothing I can say to you will change you, the only thing that will do this is the Word of God.” Lectio Divina is an approach to Scripture which seeks to open up our hearts and lives to the living Word of God. We let go of our agenda and approach the Word of God to hear what he is saying, take it in and allow it to
transform us. If the transformation is real, it should be evident in our daily lives. It helps to be immersed in the scenes of Scripture, trying to get a feel, as it were, of being there. Consider the following: • Set the scene in your mind, picture the people, places and colours. • What would it be like to be that person? • How would I react? • If reading a parable that Jesus is telling, imagine sitting at his feet listening. In the 12th century, a Carthusian monk called Guido described the four stages essential to Lectio Divina. They can be referred to as the four R’s of reading Scripture: • Read slowly - notice where the Word of God is impressed upon you. Notice the senses that are engaged as you read it. • Receive – ponder on what you are hearing in your head and your heart. What is resonating in your soul as you re-read the passage? • Respond – allow yourself to leave thoughts aside and simply let your heart respond to God. This may also include confession or an application in your life. It is acceptable if offered in openness to God • Rest – Sit in silence and let God’s Word do what he wants it to do. Perhaps nothing specific will speak to you. If so, just believe that God will use it later or it may be that it is a word for someone else. He will decide and as he says, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.’’ (Isa 55:11) At the heart of meditation is stillness. Whenever we are still and just “be’’, when chatter ceases and all our senses are
aware, then we are in a place where his voice can be heard. Oswald Chambers writes, “Do I seek signs of the kingdom, or do I perceive God’s rule? The new birth gives a new power of vision whereby I begin to discern God’s rule. His rule is there all the time, but true to his nature; now that I have received his nature I can see his rule.’’ Paul also says in Romans, “Since what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.’’ (Rom 1:19) We can live unaware of his imprint on creation and his individual hand on our daily lives. Thus we fail to acknowledge him, to give thanks to him and to commune with him in continuous prayer. We can become so caught up in good works for him, in serving, and in church going, but just how important he is can be gauged by the time spent alone with him. Is it about him or us? The noise in our world is endless and the routine of survival is unrelenting. Communion with God needs the inner chatter to stop. In the chamber of a quiet heart is where we can be in his presence. In a busy schedule it is even more important to live moment by moment. By so doing, our awareness of him increases and we come to recognise when he touches our lives. God is only limited by the expectations we put on him. It can be our own wants and desires that cause us to miss his answers and blind us to what he is doing. He will always give us what we need, not what we think we need. There are no formulas for prayer - no set rules that will manipulate him into giving us the outcome we want. I have been guilty of praying and expecting him to answer me according to my will, not his. As we delight in him, our trust in him is deepened. As we commune more and more with him, moment by moment, and learn to recognise him in our daily lives, we are assured of his faithfulness. Then
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meditation. we grow as a result of that trust. In her book, Centering Prayer Cynthia Bourgeault says, “What goes on in those silent depths during times of centering prayer is no one’s business, not even your own; it is between your innermost being and God.’’ Centering prayer is abandonment of self to him. It is total openness to God the giving of our authority to him to have his way in us. Encountering God may be obvious, but then again perhaps the silence is itself a deep encounter. Although only at the beginning of this new journey, I have found that the four prayer paths described below are the cornerstones of moment by moment living. These are summed up by David Benner in his book: • Prayer as attending – listening, watching or waiting to discern the presence of God. The whisper, shout, touch or sense of his call • Prayer as being – abiding with God. A wordless openness to him who is I AM. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you …’’ (Joh 15:4)
22 Christian Woman Spring 2011
• Prayer as pondering She listened graciously to my – time for reflection on our experiences. Our hearts and questions and sympathised with minds brought before him and all my humanity as I spoke of my tested through the Word of God and struggles to be still and commune the understanding of our faith with God • Prayer as responding – we these transformational possibilities. open ourselves to the present and offer all that we do Notice again your longing for God. unto him. “So whether you eat or Don’t lose sight of this. It is the leash drink or whatever you do, do it all for by which God draws you towards the openness and transformation you seek.’’ CW the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31) It is not about the experience Ruth Purdie-Smith but rather about knowing God. Any Ruth Purdie-Smith lives at Bungan encounter should result in both inner Beach Sydney and is a graduate of the and outer transformation and the quality Sydney Writers’ Centre. She intends to of our lives should reflect this. He will convert her love of travel, writing and decide the agenda; our part is to be ready Christian meditation as an excuse to and open. visit monasteries in many parts of the As I return to David Benner’s book, world. Opening to God, I find encouragement in these words, “Take a moment to ponder
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www.arkhousepress.com www.christianwoman.co.nz | www.christianwoman.com.au 23
Deal or no deal?
Whether you find yourself at the start of your relationship, or perhaps have been seeing someone for a while, at some point the question lingers— how can I be sure if he’s the one? SANDRA CAVALLO discusses…
n my years of pastoring singles and couples in their late 20s and 30s, I have seen many relationships flourish and become rock solid and others, sadly, have retreated into a living hell. No person is perfect, but with divorce statistics in the church matching those in world, choosing wisely is paramount. Choosing a marriage partner I believe is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life, after salvation. It is a decision that has eternal and generational consequences. Using wisdom, not just feelings, is so important. Can I say from the outset, don’t be so starved for love that you would go and settle for anything. Intimacy is a basic human need and singles can still access this in various ways. This is a separate topic and what I really want to focus on is the tips that can help to know if this person you have found is the one God has chosen for you. While marriage is a decision that ultimately two people make, God doesn’t make you go through the process on your own. Seeking confirmation Arranged marriages may not be the trend of our culture, but in biblical times, family members were intimately involved in marriage unions. I believe this should still be the case. Proverbs 23:12 advises, “Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” God has placed people in your life who will speak wisdom you need to hear, particularly when you’re high on being in love. God knows how potent falling in love is; he created it. He knows all those amazing feelings you’re experiencing and how incredible your
24 Christian Woman Spring 2011
relationships. man looks right now. For this reason God will always confirm his Word by surrounding you with spiritual leaders, parents and close friends. The difference I have noted regarding relationships that have worked and those that haven’t, is this principle. The relationships that were open from the outset to hearing instruction either flourished into beautiful marriages or a great deal of heartache was avoided. Both cases were successful. If you’re dating, provide an opportunity for those you love and respect to speak into your life... Be open and ask questions, give them permission to speak. If you’re engaged, don’t let the wedding locomotive take over; still be open to hear from people you respect. For singles, I highly recommend from the start of dating to submit your relationship to God and to people you trust.
Roads to travel Dating is a time to discover each other and whether you will be suitable for a marriage partnership. Be prepared for God to reveal each other’s quirks, passions, interests and life calling. While God’s showing you this, ask yourself— are you travelling on similar roads? This does not mean if he is into worship and you’re into prayer that you’re not travelling on similar roads. But marriage is about being yoked together and you want to know you’re pulling in the same direction, not going off on separate paths. If he is called to Africa and you know you’re not, then you may want to ask yourself some questions. Second Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” This passage is really talking about spiritual compatibility and it’s even an issue for two professing Christians. I have seen dating couples where one person goes to church and the other doesn’t and down the track it affected
their marriage greatly. There are some great books available regarding this topic such as Bill Hybels’ Fit To Be Tied1. This book provides food for thought on compatibility and how to build towards a healthy start in marriage. Trust in God Finally there has to be an understanding from the start that God is good and he desires to give us our heart’s desires. Those desires were placed there by him. God never intends to give you a snake of a man (Mt 7:9-11). He desires to give you the best. That’s the beautiful Father heart of God. God’s best might take some waiting. Just as taking a cake out of the oven too early is never good, don’t rush this process to fit into your timelines. God’s timing is perfect and when he is behind a union there’s absolutely nothing better. CW 1 Fit to be Tied; Bill Hybels, Zondervan, 1994
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journal is a flower, a canvas, a safety deposit box and a cup of coffee with a friend. It can hold your dreams, record your life, challenge your thinking, refresh your soul and redirect your steps. I’ve always loved the soothing practice of writing out my feelings, thoughts, dreams, hopes and experiences. I often come to my journal with my favourite pen and scribble out my anger or hurt, and as a result, the most raw and bitter parts of my pain disappear. Perhaps this is a miracle, or perhaps the answer lies in the combination of writing out my emotions and speaking through these written words to God. Either way, journaling is a great practice that never fails to help me. In the past, however, I haven’t dealt so well with this form of emotionally based writing, and for many years I deliberately stayed away from journaling because of this.
Exploring God and life with your written word (ALL QUOTES SOURCED FROM FRESH-BREWED LIFE BY NICOLE JOHNSON)
Praying, singing, reading the Bible—Christians absorb themselves in these activities. They calm, encourage and uplift us in good times and bad. Yet journaling can often be left out of the equation. ‘I’m not a writer,’ ‘I haven’t got time,’ and ‘what is the point?’ are some of the reasons why Christians don’t journal. But taking time out to pick up a pen and correspond with the Lord through the written word can be just as worthwhile as prayer or worship. Charlotte Durut talks of her personal experiences with this beautiful form of godly communication . . . 26 Christian Woman Spring 2011
Cremating emotions Our lives have so much to teach us, and journaling gives us the opportunity to learn. I can be quite an intense person at times, and my teenage years in particular were more than usually angst-ridden. My answer to the drama of this period was to fill copious amounts of diaries with my emotions. In the end, a pile of more than a dozen bulging diaries dominated my cupboard. Clearly, something had to be done with them. Finally, in a moment of exciting liberation, I hauled the diaries out and burnt every one of them. This may seem extreme but to this day, I have no regrets about doing it. Looking back, I realise my diaries were filled only by the over-dramatic outpourings of a teenager with few problems except the ones she created for herself. Diaries versus journals Journaling isn’t just the . . . recording of our activities. It can also be the handwriting of God, if we will allow him the freedom to write into our lives. It’s only been in recent years that I have learnt to embrace journaling and to realise how important this form of godly communication is. My most important lesson on this journey was learning the great difference which exists between keeping a diary and journaling. A diary is a place to pour out your soul. A journal is a place to pour out your soul to God,
A journal is a
letter to God, with an answer full of love and hope guaranteed
and to listen to his thoughts and hopes for your life as you write. A diary is a letter to yourself, with no answer. A journal is a letter to God, with an answer full of love and hope guaranteed. In opening to God and his words of wisdom in this way, I believe journaling is essentially another form of submission to him, and another beautiful form of prayer and worship. Past knowledge, future experience Our journals (are) holy means to express our lives as we reveal our sins, our hopes, our longings, our shortcomings, and our triumphs. The other major difference I discovered between keeping a diary and journaling was that the former never really helped me deal with my emotions. I tended to bury myself in diarising to the exclusion of everything and everyone else around me. As a result, those close to me never knew my deepest feelings and fears—and in turn, could never help me with them. Journaling, on the other hand, frees my thoughts and
unter your journal’ Tips on how to ‘enco son Life by Nicole John from Fresh-brewed n with the al sense of connectio 1. An inviting journ right for you. Feel a is way… t me tha al so rn in jou u) a (yo Search for ok will change bo a ch su in g itin pages… feel that wr life. uld) change (your) feel as though it (co
experiences as only godly communication can. While journals should always be a private source, we’re not hiding our words away per se—instead, we’re sharing them with God and allowing him into our soul. Yet journals are and always should be wonderful places to write down everything about our lives. They are a unique place to scrawl your pain across a page, write a poem about your perfect moments, and include quotes and Scripture verses on anything that affects you. As I reflect on my past and look forward to my future, not only have I learnt from my experiences as I look back through my journal but I’ve also talked to God again about them—and discovered even more about myself and my life. I’m glad that God has given me a joy for communicating with him in this way. This special time I share with God is my own form of worship, and my journal—messy, careworn and underlined—is my own special Book of Life given freely into his hands. CW Biblical quotes to use: “Speak, for your servant is listening.”1 Samuel 3:10 “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.” Jeremiah 31:33 “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:3
a pen that is fun to 2. An exclusive pen a must. Search for is al rn your jou ur yo for th your journal, so A favourite pen le. Always keep it wi tab or mf co ls n. fee pe d a write with an u before you find tion won’t leave yo great idea or revela ’ and realise 3. A window of time ‘productivity mode off h itc Sw al. nti esse ur life through words Time to journal is eking to savour yo Se h. wt gro ur yo you’re investing in use of your time. is never a frivolous to ul feels relaxed. Try 4. A comfy place ment where your so on at vir en gre a an is ate ere cre ph ecial atmos Always seek to of distraction. A sp e fre ly ve ati rel it’s make sure for your writing. way to set the mood r your writing or 5. Complete candou you that critiques ide ins tic cri the ence and feelings down Write honestly. Sil to get honest words is job ur Yo tiful. . gs lin ke sure they’re beau shuts down your fee explain them, or ma m, the tify jus to t on paper, no d, you e for others to rea 6. Personal privacy that are appropriat s ng place thi n g de itin hid wr fe, ly all need a sa If you are on God deeply enough. We to g m tlin es the wr ing n’t br are we probably gs. How can tlin es wr d an rs fea to reveal our doubts, otherwise? ect n es the Lord will dir 7. Spiritual directio u journal. Sometim yo ile wh by . ar nd ne po Have your Bible ly. Hear him and res speak to you deep you to a passage or www.christianwoman.co.nz | www.christianwoman.com.au 27
Hold On SARAH PERRETT looks
But then I realised, you know what? That’s
That’s the key, isn’t it?
a great pep talk.
What do we hold onto?
What do you hold onto? What do I hold
Just hang on.
onto? Money? Other people? Hobbies?
at the reality of the
How many times, in life, do we despair
Ourselves? Are we holding onto anything?
because all we can see is the moment that
Or are we just sticking our heads in the
seasons of life, and the
we’re in. Because we’re so focused on
sand and waiting for things to go away?
necessity of holding on
what’s happening now that we forget that
Are we trying to deal with things on our
things come in seasons. This won’t last.
throughout all of them.
If we’re honest, what are the answers
Things aren’t always going to be the
was talking to my sister recently, and said, “I need a pep talk.” To which she replied,
“Hang on, hang on.” The way that someone does when they’re busy. At first, I thought, what a poor pep talk. In fact, I even told her that.
to those questions?
way that they are. They will end. They
And do any of those things work?
will change. They will get better. The
I have to admit that I’m pretty good at
Bible tells us that there are seasons in life
sticking my head in the sand; in immersing
(Ecclesiastes 3). Whatever you’re going
myself in hobbies so that I don’t have to
through – it’s a season. It might be a short
think about things.
season. It might be a long season. But it is a season. It will end.
But that’s not the best way to deal with things. It’s not the way that God wants us
You just have to hold on.
to deal with things. Which is something
But what do you hold on to?
that He’s been teaching me lately.
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28 Christian Woman Spring 2011
To hold onto Him. Not myself. Not things. Not hobbies. Just Him. When things are difficult. When things are painful. When things don’t go the way that I want them to. Even when things are good. To hold onto God. So what does holding onto God look like? How do we actually do that? For me, holding onto God means taking things to Him. When things go wrong. When I’m upset or scared or worried. To take those things to God and give them to Him. Sometimes it helps to visualise giving them over, or to actually pray them over – that is, to pray to God, telling Him that I’m releasing them to Him. Holding onto God means grasping
hold of His promises, and speaking them of what I believe in, and why I believe in over my life. What does the Bible say it. Reminding myself of who God is, and about God? What promises has God made what that means for me. that apply in my situation? Is God good? I don’t have to feel the When things are difficult. When things promises, just are painful. When things don’t go the saying them over my life, way that I want them to. Even when and choosing things are good. To hold onto God. to trust in them, to affirm them in my mind – that’s what holding on looks Does He want what’s best for my life? like. Did He make me? Does He know Holding on is refusing to give up or what’s best for me? give in. Holding on means trusting, even Hold onto the answers to those when I can’t understand why things are questions. Hold onto God’s promises. happening, or feel that they aren’t fair. Hold on to your faith and trust in Him. Holding on means reminding myself And remember, it’s just a season. CW
A warm spring evening... a rash decision...
For Heidi Jordan, young and lovely, life is neatly mapped out and right on target. Her university grades are high, her future in the medical field all but guaranteed and her only dark secret is well kept. Until the first of October, that is, when Heidi discovers that reckless choices can have desperate consequences, and pain and anguish cannot be outrun. For Annaliese Miller and her handsome fiancé Ben, the party on the evening of October the first was just the beginning of their brand new life together. But by midnight, Annaliese is lying on the cold flagstones in a pool of blood, her devastated husband-to-be kneeling in horror beside her. Will Heidi return and face those she has shattered? Can healing happen when dreams and relationships have been crushed and ripped apart? Or are some things just too big to forgive?
Available in all good Christian bookstores or visit www.arkhousepress.com www.christianwoman.co.nz | www.christianwoman.com.au 29
“Every once in a while a worship album comes through that just ends up on repeat in your CD player because of the peace that it brings to your home. ‘At Your Feet’ is one of these records.”
Artist: Greg Attwells Title: At Your Feet Genre: Indie Worship Availability: Koorong stores nationally Every once in a while a worship album comes through that just ends up on repeat in your CD player because of the peace that it brings to your home. ‘At Your Feet’ is one of these records. It’s not your typically congregational worship album although there are songs that will definitely work in churches. Musically it’s got a laid back acoustic vibe, closer to Pete Murray than Hillsong. Spiritually it is very much in the vein of the new movement of worship sweeping the globe spearheaded by Jesus Culture, primarily about simplicity in devotion to God and surrender to His will. On his website Greg writes : “My heart & passion is to lead others to the feet of Jesus. To see their hearts awakened as they return to their first love. To see mission birthed out of worship. That we may love Christ above all else.” It is clear that Greg Attwells is the real deal and that what he writes is true. For those who love great worship this is an excellent record, for those who love ‘soaking music’ this may one of the best albums to ever come out of Australia.
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