Wednesday 15 January 2014

Honour God



Every morning as part of my daily prayer, I ask God to help me to honour Him with the words I speak, by my deeds, with my thoughts and my attitudes.

I love my God, and appreciate everything He has done for me, and the way in which He continues to bless me and prosper me in what I do. I don’t say that arrogantly but with a humble, thankful heart. And I want to honour Him in every day life.

There was a song years ago that went:

Count your blessings name the one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God has done…”

It’s easy to let life pass by without recognising the blessings that our Heavenly Father pours out into our lives constantly. We take for granted the things that Christ has sacrificed His life for.  He went to the cross and gave all He had so that we might live. Jesus said:

I come to give you life in abundance.
John 10:10

God wants us to enjoy His generosity, His life, His gifts, this abundant life. I believe our part is to live a life of gratitude. Do you want more out of life? Get to know the life-giver. Be in relationship with Him, the One who can make a difference. And when you know him more, you will trust him more; and when you trust him more, it becomes easier to see how he moves in your life – guiding, protecting, opening doors and closing others. And why? Because you serve a Heavenly Father who is infinitely interested in who you are and everything you do.

And that brings me back to my prayer. I pray, most days, that my last waking thought for the night and my first the next morning would be of Him. It has taken me 50 years to learn just how dependent I am on Him in every part of my life. From the moment I am awake to the moment I fall asleep, I want to be conscious of Him. Not in some super-spiritual, of no practical use to this world way; but in a way that leads me to live my life in honour to Him: by my words and my deeds, with my thoughts and my attitudes. Why? Because of how he loves me, and because of how he blesses me.

When we honour God and put Him first in our lives, He honours us. He is faithful to his word, and faithful to His promise. James 4:8 says to:

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

He longs to have fellowship with his people.

I was asked the other day to describe worship. I explained it as the most intimate thing we can do with God. I went on to draw a parallel to the act of kissing. When I kiss my wife, I close my eyes and my entire being becomes focussed on my love for her. At that point I am not aware of anything else in my surroundings; my worries disappear, my fears, and the rest of my being follows into the “worship” of my wife.

God loves you so much, and the act of bringing honour to Him, is no less than an act of reciprocal love. He thinks about us all the time, and He longs for us to have the best in life. I can honour Him with my words and worship. I can honour him with my thoughts, my deeds, my attitudes, my trust.

When my father passed away wen I was in my early twenties, I remember crying out to God and asking him “Why??” His answer to me was a question: “Son, will you trust Me?”

God places no demands on us for obedience or difficult tasks to earn our salvation. He simply asks: Will you trust Me? This becomes relational. We trust what (or who) we know. And this trust will never be misplaced when we place it in Him.

Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Romans 8 is very clear on God’s commitment to us:

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one -  for God himself  has given us right standing with himself. Then who will condemn us? No one – for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honour at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Can anything every separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecute, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your own sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can every separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the Earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31-39

Isn’t that alone worthy of our honour?

Have a great week!


Tuesday 24 December 2013

In Memory of my Mother

I want to share with you something very personal.
Not that all my other articles haven't been personal, but this comes from my heart. This is about a woman who has been an integral part of my life for over 50 years, my mother. Mama passed away peacefully on the 27th of October, after a four-year battle with cancer.

In everyone's life there are people of influence. People who impact our lives to make us what we are, or rather, who influence us to make the decisions that make us who and what we are.
For me, one of those people is the person whose life I celebrate here today in this article.

Ann Buma Bruining left an amazingly rich heritage for this world; her 8 children. She was a mother who cared for her children, who loved them, who believed in them, who inspired them, and who prayed for them, every day.  Not a faultless, flawless woman who never made mistakes, but a fragile, passionate, determined woman who, with the aid of an incredible husband raised 7 amazing kids... and me.

This is my Mama's testimony.

As I said, Mama was a mother of 8. Let me introduce my family from the eldest:


Olaf: a husband, father of 6, grandfather of 7. A teacher like his own father, passionate about the things of God, and always eager to make a difference in people's lives. He has had influence in our communities not only through his profession as guidance officer and teacher, but also through Christian radio and in leadership in the church.

Cees: also husband and a father of 3. From a very early age he wanted to become a doctor of medicine so that he could use his skills in the mission fields all over the world. He has done that very successfully, having worked with YWAM, and on Mercy Ships, and more recently with Joint Therapy Outreach, he travels overseas regularly to use his doctoring skills in countries where medical services are scarce and unaffordable . Also trained in theological studies, he has and continues to make peoples' lives better; giving them hope, addressing their needs both physically as well as emotionally and spiritually.

Christina: wife, mother of 4, grandmother and major support to many mums out there who have been blessed by her skills as a Nursing Midwife. Taking hold of her own struggles in her battle with breast cancer, she has strapped on a determination to be a greater help to those who are also struggling with life threatening illness by adding to her skills counselling and Bible college training.

Karin: mother of 3, wife, and one determined lady, driven with the sole purpose of making a difference in people's lives, she is an academic who has used her skills in schools and universities.
Level headed, strong willed, her determination has raised her to excel to levels beyond where most of us could only imagine.

Ilse: mother of 3, and grandmother of 3. Despite the odds, and the many curve-balls that life has thrown her, she too makes a difference in people's lives.

Annechiena: wife, mother of 3, and carer of our mother in her final years. How can we ever thank you enough for what you have done for our mama? Juggling her care with a career in the classroom, as well as running your home and the many church activities that you have been involved with over the years. All due to a passion and a calling to make a difference and to be the answer.

And Barbara: Our other missionary sibling. Beautiful wife, Not yet a mother, and yet an adopted mother to the many children, hundreds, if not thousands whom you have made it your purpose to introduce to Jesus and a better life. Barbara and her husband Lukas spent years touring nationally and internationally doing children's out reaches and  mission work. What a calling, what a heritage.

Oh, and then there's me. I, too have made it my purpose to be a blessing to people that I come across, and to make a difference in people's lives. I have had the privilege of being a worship leader, musician and recording artist. More recently I am co-producer of the Worship Leaders Podcast, a weekly podcast that reaches thousands all over the world. I boast an amazing family of 4 children, 2 grand children and 2 more on the way. Wonderful, mature young people who love The Lord with a passion, and serve Him in their own churches as Worship leaders, and wherever the opportunity arises.

We all spend our lives looking for acceptance and approval; especially from our parents. And at times all in my family found it difficult to gain that approval from our Mama, and yet I know that she was immensely proud of us all. She was proud of what we have achieved in marriage, with family, our careers and our various ministries. In her eyes, we all gave her something to be proud of and to boast about.

As I was reminiscing over what write here, my thoughts took me back to memories of our childhood.

I remember the near fatal car accident that Mama and Papa had after our youngest sister Barbara was born. I remember our local neighbours coming and farming us out to various families in our local community while Mama and Papa recovered in the hospital. The accident had left our father in a coma, and Mama with serious internal injuries. It was 4 weeks or more before they were well enough to come home. Barbara was so young that they kept her in with Mama so she could feed her.

I remember trips to Haamstede, a small farming village in the south of Holland, to go camping. All of us cramped into that blue station wagon, with some of us having to take it in turn to sit right in the back of the wagon. And there was no such thing as third row seating back then. There we were, stuck in the back squashed in amongst the luggage. I also remember us fighting over whose turn it was to sit in the back, and no one wanted to do that uncomfortable trip, and one day refusing and causing such a fuss that Mama in her anger yelled and said that she would travel to Haamstede in the back of the car.  It was not long after that that Mama and Papa bought a Daf (a small Dutch built car) to alleviate the passenger congestion.

I remember some of our adventures camping. Going into the WW2 bunkers, me climbing trees and falling out and having to be carted to the hospital, Christina falling into a thicket of stinging nettles, wearing nothing but a bikini, and Mama was there for us, tending to us.

I remember building a trailer for my bicycle because I was going to ride to Albany some 400 km away, just for something to do, and Mama cleverly came up with an idea to send me to a Scripture Union canoeing camp instead (What was I thinking???).

Whenever we got into trouble, mama was there, usually with the wooden spoon. She was a great believer in that scripture in Proverbs 13:24

He who spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

I can honestly say my mother loved me very much!

I suffer from confused personality. My family constantly confuses me for someone else. Brother Cees almost only ever calls me Cameron (his son), the other day Olaf was calling me Zac (his son), and after Papa died, and Mama would come to Queensland we would go somewhere in the car I would get the sudden hand on the leg and the "Pas op Cor!" (Cor was my father's name).

I spoke earlier of our struggle to gain acceptance. One of the most memorable moments of my life was when Mama and Papa drove up to Lake Leschenaultia, north of Perth, where I was living and working after I finished high school. They sprung a surprise visit on me and brought with them my high school results. It is one of the first times I remember Mama and Papa saying they were proud of me. It was something I never forgot.

A survivor of World War II Holland, Mama lived a life full of challenges, and she was human enough and normal enough to struggle with them. Simply put, she wore her emotions on her sleeve, and everybody at some time got a taste of it. She struggled a little with the finer attributes of diplomacy and couldn't suffer fools, or for that matter anyone who she perceived was trying to have a go at her or just didn't understand her. And, rather than try to reason with someone, she simply told them what she thought of them and storm off... And later on she would regret it.

When she was just 53, she suffered the loss of the love of her life to cancer. This happening, and at such an early age, I think was one of the single most difficult traumas she had to face. It shook her world, as it did ours. He was her rock, and her balance. But, to her credit, and with the incredible help of my beautiful family over in Perth, especially Barbara who put her own life on hold to be with her, she was able  to move on with her life.

She told me that God had been good to her over the years, and she wanted to do something for Him. So she went on a number of mission trips, smuggling bibles into China, and visiting churches in Burma. I was pretty proud of my mother for undertaking such adventures at this time of her life and on her own. She too, wanted to make a difference.

Mama loved to travel. When Papa was alive, they travelled everywhere together, and in later life she undertook many trips back to Holland and other places. Sometimes on her own, many times with others in tow.

She also travelled to Queensland many times to visit us. Sometimes these were good visits, other times we were relieved to take her back to the airport. Our children though, loved their Oma, and they were always sad to see her go.. When our kids were little, whenever they saw a plane up in the sky they would stop and wave and yell at the top of their voices "Bye Oma !" They always associated aeroplanes with the comings and goings of their Oma, and I share with you the deep sadness that our 2 as yet unborn grandchildren will not get to meet the Grand Old Lady who has headed up the clan.

Mama was a fierce woman, who was not to be messed with, as we witnessed once when we were on the Gold Coast at a bird park, and when it came time to feed the birds, our kids were there ready to feed the birds when all of a sudden, out of nowhere a bus load of tourists appeared and started to crowd out our little ones. Well, Mama was having none of that, and like a sumo wrestler, she firmly planted her feet apart on the ground, behind the kids and warded off the newcomers,  elbowing them whenever they got anywhere near her grandchildren!

Mama knew what awaited her in death. She knew where she was going, and I remember after that major operation in late December 2009, we were able to go in to be with her in the ICU. We sang the Christmas hymn "O Holy Night" to her, and later when she came out of the ICU she told us that she was aware of our singing and thought she was in the presence of the angels. That's why the first words she spoke when she finally came out of her induced coma was "I am alive? Praise Jesus!"

Mama also had a great sense of humour and mischief, as we witnessed many times with the surprise visits, late-night arrivals for special occasions such as birthdays, sneaking in with the aid of my own wife and children to make it all the way across Australia just for us.

And who can ever forget the countless poses for photos with the traditional finger up someone else's nose, or that famous photo at camp Buma when we all posed for that funny photo and Mama had taken her wig off and held it high in the air!

family photo

She loved her Husband, she loved her children, she loved her grandchildren and great grandchildren, and she loved her Saviour Jesus. I'm sorry she's gone, but I'm glad she's graduated. She didn't deserve to suffer, and fortunately she didn't suffer long. On October 27, 2013 after a 4 year battle with a rare form of cancer, Mama went home to be with Jesus.
The world may not know her, but the world is a better place because of her.

Proverbs 13:22 says

A good man ( or in this case woman) leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.

Proverbs 31:27-31

She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
"Many women have done wonderful things,
but you've outclassed them all!"
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear–of– God.
Give her everything she deserves!
Festoon her life with praises!

And right now we hear the voice of God saying "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into your rest."

There is so much more I could say; of cups of teas from porcelain cups, of puzzles on a rainy day, of adventurous picnics on hot a summer's day, of road trips to remote places.. I could go on, but time will not permit. So I will close with my children's words as she takes her final flight on the wings of the angels:
Bye Oma!



Saturday 31 August 2013

Better Husband, Better Dad..

For Peter.

I was talking with my son in law recently and the subject came up;" I don't know if I am doing everything I can to be a good dad.. "

It got me thinking about my own journey through fatherhood  I sometimes wonder: however did I make it to this place? I have 4 incredibly wonderful children who have all grown up into amazing adults who in their own rights are making a real difference in this world and in the lives of others.  I really am blessed.

Over the years, my wifeTambrey and I have on numerous occasions been complimented on our children and what a great family we are. While that is a great head-swelling statement, the reality is that we have never really known any different. What you see is who we are. We have
nothing to hide, we aren't any different at home to what you see at church or out in public. And, to us, we are far from perfect. 

We have our fights and arguments, our differences of opinion. In our eyes we are just an ordinary family. So it's kind of funny when so many people tell us we are different. This leads us as a couple to think; what could it be that makes us different to other families? How can we through our own experience of life encourage others to be different, and that what we have is not freakish or unattainable?

My heart has always been about family. In my life, family comes first and foremost. I purpose in my heart to make them the number one priority in my life. This is a decision, it is not something that
comes natural or even easy. The nature of a man is very much self-focused. I want what I want, and I know what I want, and all too often it doesn't include my wife or kids. The selfish me wants to go out and hang with my mates when it suits me. The selfish me doesn't want to be tidy, wash up the dishes because they are there to be done. The selfish me can justify coming home after a long day at work and sitting down in the lounge chair, watch the tv and  waiting for dinner while my wife is trying to keep it all together with little ones making demands of her, others wanting help with homework, still others looking for clothes to go out in, and dinner on the go all at the same time.

If I want a great family, it requires investment on my part. Just in the same way that if I want to succeed in my business I have to be prepared to put in the hard yards.

So what is it that I want to say to my sons in law and my own son about how to succeed in life and have a great family? How can I cram 30 years of experience into a short article? I probably can't, but I can share with you some keys that I  have learnt along the journey.

I took a call from an overseas friend the other day who told me he was having some challenges with his 10 year old being a bit obstinate and unreasonable. He was giving his parents a hard time and most likely
his siblings as well. I suggested to him that maybe his boy was trying to attract his attention. There may be  something going on in his world that he was having trouble coping with.

I gave him the following pointers that might help him help his son overcome the challenges that are facing him.

1) If you want to show your child you love them, love their mother
Nothing gives a child stability in life like knowing that their parents love each other. I have even found in business that the most stable bosses I have worked for are those that have a great marriage.
I have to put her first in my list of priorities. The old saying goes: Happy wife, happy  life. For me, that means that as part of the marriage relationship I have to pull my weight. In my home, I make the bed, make breakfast, empty the dishwasher, and clean up my mess in the bedroom. I learnt a long time ago that my wife is neither my slave nor my mother, and I should not expect her to clean up after me or do everything for me. 
I also help with the cooking and cleaning in the kitchen. We are a partnership and my wife does enough around the house. The least I can do is help her and be an example to my children of how to be a good husband. I tell my wife every day that I love her. I tell her often, and I tell her meaningfully. I tell her for 2 reasons: I tell her to remind her, and I tell her to remind myself. Do I have to remind myself every day? Well, I have to eat every day...
Moreover, I tell my children I love them as well, every day, or at every opportunity.

2) Be prepared to do your bit.
 I mentioned before, marriage is a partnership, and it takes both partners to work hard to make the partnership a success. I don't expect her to mow the lawn or take out the rubbish. There are things
my wife does better than me. She knows better how to do the washing and hanging out. That doesn't mean I can't do it, and it's not unusual for me to iron my clothes or hang out or bring in a load of washing.
People think that marriage is a 2 way street, a 50/50 relationship with 50% give and 50% take. That is not God's way. He is about 100% giving, expecting nothing in return. That is God's way of loving, and
when both partners in the marriage relationship adopt this motto, your marriage is headed for a lifetime of great adventure and success.

3) Be consistent.
When it comes to discipline it is important that both parents agree. My wife always made it a point to never disagree on matters of discipline or decision in front of the kids. I would hear about it in the bathroom though!  There is this saying that goes: "If mum says no, ask dad". That doesn't work in my family. If I disagree about a
decision, we will talk about it in private, and if we then agree on a common decision, we would go to the child. Also worth a mention here is: Don't say no just because you can. It is important to communicate with your child why you have made the decision you made. They may not like it or even like you, but they will know the reason why. And "because I said" is not a valid reason.

4) Princes and princesses.
I treat my wife like a princess. (Or at least I'd like to think I do). My wife is royalty, and I expect my children to treat her the same way. I have never allowed my children to get away with speaking down to my wife or treating her rudely. In telling them my expectation of having them treat her like a princess, I am teaching my daughters that their prospective husbands must also treat them like royalty. I am telling my son that the woman he marries he must treat like royalty. I like to think that I treat my daughters like royalty. The way a man treats her wife, and the way a woman treats her husband sets the framework for how their children will treat their spouse in years to come. We do not have to be the result of our upbringing, we can change
what we came out of. If my daughter marries a man from a dysfunctional background that does not mean she is doomed to a bad marriage. It is my privilege to be a positive influence on him and allow him to see
that there is a better way.

5) Quality Time.
I have a wife,  3 daughters, 1 son. Each of them have different likes, needs, desires and dreams. I found especially when the kids were younger every now and then it was important to take them out on a date. The girls loved the Papa dates. We would go somewhere to eat, buy some clothes, and hang together. As they got older my wife would take them for coffee on a Saturday morning, somewhere nice. Recognising their individuality and acknowledging it is very important to a person. My son and I love doing life together. When he was about 14 he came to me and asked me if I could teach him how to be a man. We do man stuff together, and I can honestly say that I couldn't be more proud of how he has turned out. Quality time is when we can be driving 1000km to somewhere and spending time talking, sharing, laughing together with the opportunity to speak into his life. I love those times. And, by the way, I love doing the same with my sons-in-law, who I refer to as my boys.

My beautiful wife also needs quality time. Infact this is her number one love language. There is nothing she loves better than just being together, whether it is in front of the tv, holding hands, cuddling or going on a road trip together to anywhere. For her it's not about how much money I can spend on her, it's about how much time we can have together.

I am blessed. I started out with 3 daughters and one son. I now have 3 daughters, 3 sons, and 2 grand children. God is good!

6) Words of affirmation and celebrate success.
Everyone wants and needs to be acknowledged for a job well done. I love being paid for the work I do, but I glow when the boss says "Well done!"

Peter and Lachlan are my amazing sons in law. When Peter got his first appointment after finishing his Uni degree, I piled my wife and daughter and son in the car after work and drove one and a half hours to the town they are living and took the whole family out for dinner to celebrate. Then we drove home again. Some months later when Lachlan got his job after finishing his degree we did the same thing again.

They were both stoked that we would go to such an extent to help them celebrate their achievement. To me, I was stoked at what they achieved and wanted them to know how proud I am of them. I often tell my wife and kids I'm proud of them. I want them to know that I value the effort they put into life. The result? It builds
them, and encourages them to do even better.

7) Be honest.
It's important to be honest with other, to have an open book policy in the home. In our family we really don't have any secrets from each other. Not the important stuff, anyway. If my children got into trouble at school, (on the rare occasion ) they would usually blurt it out to their mother as soon as they opened the door. My kids have always shared every thing with us, but we also have been honest with them it has saved us from a lot of heart ache and trouble. My wife is always an especially good listener, and very slow to judge. The result
was that the kids had not trouble in sharing their feelings or problems because they knew they would find the support they needed to get them through the crisis, whatever it was.

I titled this article better husband, better dad. I want to be both, and I want every husband and father to aspire to both. A past Australian Prime minister once said "Life wasn't meant to be easy". He may have been right, but life was meant to be lived and enjoyed. Jesus said:" I have come to give you life and life to the full."
God wants us to enjoy the fullness of what we have been given. If you want to be a better Husband and a better Father, love, be consistent, be prepared to share the load; Treat your family like royalty, and expect nothing less from them;  spend quality time with your loved ones and give praise when it is due, celebrating every success. Most of all, be honest with each other.

I guess when it's all said and done, the key to being a better husband and a better dad lies in the relationship to have with your loved ones. It's not about a formula or technique, it's about unconditional love and trust.
Do I have all the answers? No! But I do have a relationship with the One who does, and I am constantly in communication with Him, and I am always open to learning how to be a better husband and a better dad.

Have a great week!
Oh, and Happy Father's Day.


Wednesday 14 August 2013

Why do bad things happen to good people?

I often hear the question asked: "Why do bad things happen to good people? "
And for Christians that seems like a fair question. After all, once we are saved, aren't things supposed to go all our way? Shouldn't we be without sickness, prospering financially, never having to worry about another thing?  Unfortunately, even though this is sometimes taught in some churches, this is not scriptural or correct. The fact is; bad things do happen to good people!


My father passed away when I was 24 years old. He had battled cancer for about 4 years when he died. We (my family and many Christians around the world) had prayed and believed for his healing, however it didn't come, at least not in the way we expected it.

I have seen people live through, and die as a result of tragedy, heartache, poverty and sickness and wondered that very question: Why? There are plenty of examples both in scripture and in church history of people who weathered the storms of life. Some never made it out the other side. One great example is the prophet Elisha, who, even though he had a double portion of the anointing of his predecessor Elijah, was not taken up in a horse drawn chariot into heaven. Instead he became ill in his old age and died. (See 2 Kings 13:14).

You only need to think of the faithful thousands who lived (and died) in the many Wars we have witnessed in our history. Many of them innocent civilians who had no choice and no option in the decision or consequences of war.

Every day we are confronted with tragedy, heart ache and disappointment. I have witnessed Godly people taken from this earth or permanently adversely affected as a result of car accidents, plane crashes, cultural violence, religious zeal, the list goes on. And still we ask: Why? Why do bad things happen to good people?

This is not a sign of the times. We live in a broken world. The Bible says death is the result of sin; Sickness and disease from our disobedience to God. This is what we are born into...
The apostle Paul, one of God's greatest advocates responsible for 2/3 of the New Testament suffered much at the hands of man and nature. Listen to his sufferings:

Corinthians 11:24-27
"From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness"

And yet his concern was not for himself, but for seeing the good news of the Gospel made available for all people.Did bad things happen to him?

What about Job? His wife told him (Job 2:9-10)

"“Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips."

Note Job's response? In all this he did not sin with his lips. Did bad happen to Job?

Death, sadness, sickness, tragedy, all these are a part of living in this broken world. I really think to a large extent Christians are not going to be exempt from this. However, there is one major difference between those who walk with The Lord and those who don't.
Paul in his letter to the Philippians gives instructions on how to overcome these trials that come our way:

Philippians 4:4-8
" Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."

This doesn't mean we don't acknowledge the bad things when they come to us, but don't stay there... Don't dwell on these things. Often when people are confronted with a terrible tragedy, they can't get over it. They find it difficult to move on. I have seen people become so absorbed in their pain, that they have been incapacitated by it, totally unable to get on with their life, and missing out on the best life has to offer. Their suffering has become the focus of their life. But remember Philippians 4 say?

Joni Eareckson Tada writes in "365 days of Hope":

"My wheelchair is a suffering that came from the sovereign purpose of God. And since that time more than three decades ago, I've also suffered things that have come upon me as a result of being in the kingdom. I have chosen to flee temptation, to drag my body from church to hospital, to endure the scorn of those who don't know God. And I have suffered as a result. Such is the will of God for my life.
The result? The common suffering he comforts. The godly suffering he rewards. And I wouldn't want to exchange either for anything."

At the beginning of this article I talked about the death of my father. As I watched his lifeless body lying there in that casket, I called out to God :"Why? Why did you let him die in this way? Surely he was a good man who loved you, whose children all love you, who didn't do bad things to anyone?"
And as clear as the day came the response from my Heavenly Father: " Son, will you trust Me?"

Finally I leave you with the words of the hymn written by Horatio Spafford, who literally lost everything, finance, business, his home and later his daughters in a terrible shipping accident, and was still able to pen these beautiful words:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Have a great week!

Thursday 8 August 2013

Praying Together


One of my favourite times if the day is breakfast. Not because of the food (although lately I have been enjoying various arrangements of bacon and eggs...)  No, because in my family breakfast time is family time. This is the time when we are all together at the same time in the same place.



We began the family routine thing many years ago when our eldest daughter Zoey started going to school.  We found out the hard way that waking her up half an hour before catching the bus was no way to to get any of us off to a good start of the day.  I was taught at a young age the importance of starting the day with God, and I knew I needed to instil this same value in my children, so I began the routine of getting our children up earlier each day so that they could be ready and awake enough in plenty of time for their body to receive food; both physical and spiritual. We would all come together at a set time in the morning and enjoy that half hour together over breakfast.
The breakfast table was where a lot of our family fellowship occurred. This is where we not only ate, but we talked. In our family we don't need much encouragement to talk, conversation flows freely, and especially at the meal table. Challenges are addressed, problems solved, victories celebrated and instructions given.

We would end the meal with a devotion, normally picked by my wife, Tambrey; something suitable for the kids to take with them into the day, and then we would pray together. Prayer is something we encouraged our children to participate in, at mornings together at the table as a family, and evenings, one on one with just parents and individually.

The interesting this I have found about praying together is that everyone has a different view of life, and therefore sees and prays from a different perspective. As such, I don't think there is such a thing as a bad prayer, especially when it comes to young ones. Sometimes we need to guide their thoughts and emotions so that they can learn to pray in accordance to the requirements as laid out in scripture. Obviously if my little son or daughter prays that the bully will shrivel up and die, God is not going to grant that prayer, but at that point we can take the time to not only teach them what to pray, but also talk about why the bully is a bully, and maybe address the issues that are going on in his life.

Our children are no longer children. All are adults, some have married and left home, I'm now a grandfather of 2, and the 2 remaining young adults in our home live very different time tables according to study, social and church commitments. But one thing we all still have in common, is that time around the table. We all pray. And when the occasion requires it, we pray together.

Tambrey and I pray pray together every day still. It has been our routine since before we were married nearly 30 years ago. What I love particularly about when she prays is how incredibly specific she is in her prayer. She details people, situations and circumstances and prays them through. I sit with her, we hold hands and agree in prayer, together. We have witnessed many prayers answered over the years and give God the glory for each one.  And we are greatly encouraged to see that the habit of corporate prayer has been taken into our young people's families and they too are making it a daily practice.

The bible says in Psalms 133:

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—
Life forevermore."

And in 2 Chronicles 7:14

"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

And in: Matthew 18:18-20

“ Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
“ Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Shall we pray? Together?
Have a great week!

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Love Is.

1 Corinthians 13 is known as the love chapter. Every wedding I have ever been to has used this chapter either in full or in part to give a more or less poetic guide to the upcoming commitment to the marriage.

One of the most contentious words on the planet is the word LOVE.  It's the most used, abused, misused and misunderstood words in the English language. Books are written about it, songs are sung about it, wars have been fought in the name of it.

In the English language the word LOVE covers a multitude of meanings: I love peanut butter, I love my car, I love that movie, I love my dog, I love my brother, sister, uncle, aunt. I love you! I love that song! I love, I love.... What is true love?

All of these are correct in a way.
God so loved that He gave. Love is giving.
Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for his friend. Love is ultimate sacrifice.
“God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16).
When Jesus said to Peter: Do you love me? And three times Peter replied "Yes"; what was the question and what really was the answer?

Love is affection. Love is emotion. Love is romance.
Are we moved by love? Are we motivated by it?
One is a response, the other is a preempt.
The world is full of confusion between love and lust. Lust wants to have, love longs to give.
Love is a decision. Love is a choice, it is a commitment to a person no matter what the time, circumstance, situation; no matter how I feel...

Love is what I choose to do, more so than what I feel like. The Bible uses the word Agape to describe God's love for us. This is a love that goes beyond feeling and emotion to decision and commitment. It talks of love "out of a sense of duty" not out of reciprocating deserved-ness...
The only reason we can love is because He first loved us. That whole "Greater love hath no man" thing wasn't because he was in a good and generouse gushy feeling kind of mood that day, it took every bit of courage, commitment and guts that Jesus had to go to the cross.
When a soldier goes to war to defend his country, his family, his way of life, his freedom, and dies, that to me is love.

So, biblically, 3 types of love.
Eros, totally motivated by the senses. Physical. Sensual, sexual.
Phileo, the love and dedication I have for my friends, family, children, spouse.
Agape, the unconditional uncompromising unrepentant love of God.
What do you think, about love?

Thursday 4 July 2013

Just Come




I was in church last Sunday, and the prayer went up:" Lord, we just come to you..."
Immediately it started me thinking, how many people here have "just come". People's reasons for coming to church are many and varied.


How many times have we gone to church and it was as if we only just made it there? There are extenuating circumstances in our lives that would "justify"us actually not being there,but we have mustered up every bit of energy and courage we could find to just come...

How many times have we gone to church and we have just come, as if only our attendance was all that was required and sufficed to get us through? Going to church is something we do, whether out of habit or tradition, or because the occasion demands it (like a baptism or Christmas ) so we just come. To fill in the day, to fulfil the religious obligation, or because there is nothing better to do, we just come...

How many times have we heard the voice of Jesus calling: " will you just come, surrender and let Me do what I long to do in you?" God is asking us to come...just come. He has so much more for us than what we could ever ask, think or imagine.

Jeremiah 29:11 says:"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."

Matthew 6:8 says: "...For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him."

And the words of Jesus are these: Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”


Jesus wants us to just come; as we are, where we are at, just come and surrender to Him.
When I think about the word surrender, I picture the soldiers of an army, laying down all weapons, the only means of attack or defence, walking out in plain view of the capturing forces with hands raised, totally at their mercy.

But when we do that to God, he takes us, washes us, clothes us, feeds us, shelters us and comforts us.

Are you ready to surrender?

Just come!

Just as I am without one plea
But that thy blood was shed for me
And that thou bidst me come to thee
Oh lamb of God I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
sight, riches, he
aling of the mind,
yea, all I need in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, thy love unknown
hath broken every barrier down;
now, to be thine, yea thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Hymn by Char­lotte El­li­ott, 1835

Have an overcoming week!

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

1Kings 19


Elisha was a farmer. By all accounts, he was just an ordinary man. He may well have been from a wealthy farming family, but still he worked the field.  When Elijah threw his mantle (cloak) on him, he anointed him into his calling as a prophet. An extraordinary calling on an ordinary farm boy.

Little did he know what lay ahead of him, however God had already given Elijah the heads up on what was to become of this young man. He would be instrumental in bringing Israel back to God!
Elijah was getting tired of being on the run, always the bearer of bad news to a disobedient generation. He had become so discouraged that told God he wanted to die. Simply, he'd had enough! (1Kings 19:1-8)  But God wasn't finished with him yet. He still had more for Elijah to do before he was ready to take this faithful servant home. Elijah was to find, anoint and train up his successor.

When I read the chapter of 1Kings 19, I am reminded that God is faithful to His own. He sees our needs, He feels our pains, and he sends angels to minister to us in our times of distress . I am also
reminded that God's plan is on-going. It doesn't finish with the end of my ministry, but He continues the work He has begun through me to the next generation. I am convinced that when Elijah laid down under the juniper tree; waiting and praying for death, that neither he nor Elisha had an inkling  of an idea that Elisha would be Elijah's successor. But God sent His angels to minister to Elijah in his distress. When he awoke, there was food (fresh baked bread) and water waiting for him. The Angel touched him and said :"Arise and eat". This wasn't a last meal, this was sustenance for the journey ahead. But Elijah wasn't ready, and God wasn't pushing him. As Elijah slept, God
sent along another serving of food. More bread and water. But look at the miracle here: not only was Elijah encouraged enough to take up the journey God called him to, but the food he ate and the water he drank was enough to sustain him for a 40 day journey:

1 Kings 19:8 "So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and nights to Horeb, the mount of God."

ELIJAH WALKED 200 MILES ON 2 LOAVES OF BREAD AND 2 JUGS OF WATER! And still God wasn't finished with him. The next story is the account of the gentle presence of a loving God in the whisper of a breeze. And here He instructs the faithful servant of The Lord to go and anoint a
farm boy to take over where he would leave off.

You know, sometimes when we are faithfully following the call of God on our lives, it can be a real struggle. Elijah was running for his life from a queen who was hell-bent on killing him. And he took his eye off the answer and saw only the problem. You and I are not alone in our struggle to remain faithful to our call in the face of adversity. Sometimes it's difficult to see God's plan when we are on
the run from people with a mind set on our destruction. But God isn't finished, and as he ministers to us in our hour of need, He reveals Himself to us once again, and sends the right people at the right time.

Are you in need of a simple farm boy?

When I look at what occurs next again I am reminded of the  "Godness" of God. Only He could see far enough ahead to know that what Elijah needed most was not a top-of-the-class graduate from Prophet school, but a young man, a fit and a hard worker who was willing to leave behind the life that he knew for the adventure that lay ahead of him. 

As Elijah stands at the front of the cave on the mountain in the presence of God, he receives 3 instructions and a word of comfort: Go back and anoint a new king over Syria; anoint a new king over Israel; and anoint your successor. And: You are not alone, I have preserved 7000 faithful servants who are going to help you clean up this nation and bring them back to me!

You are not alone! How comforting is it that just when you think that you are the last man standing for the cause, God  reminds you that you are not alone. Over the years I have found it particularly comforting, that just when I have felt that there don't seem to be so many believers out there,  God brings me to a church, or a meeting or a great Christian Festival like the great Australian Easterfest, where all of a sudden I am in a throng of sometimes thousands of people who live and love and believe in exactly the same things I do!  These events are great encouragers to both me and my family, and many of the young people we have taken with us over the years. You are not alone!

And that brings us back to the young Farm boy. I say boy, but I actually have no idea how old he actually was when Elijah went to him as he was ploughing the field with his yoke of oxen, and threw his cloak around him as a symbol of God's call to the ministry.  I imagine he was quite young because he was not married, and he was still living with his mother and Father. His response tells me a few things: He asked permission to return to his parents to kiss them goodbye.  He had to finish up this chapter in his life. As Elisha turned to say his goodbyes, Elijah charged him not to forget his calling.

How many times do we put God on hold in order to finish something we have started, and get totally side tracked, forgetting about what God has called us to in the first place? Elisha not only kissed his parents goodbye, he also cut himself off from his past, so that he could not come home when things got tough. The Bible says he took his yoke of oxen, slaughtered them and in a final act of generosity he chopped up his equipment, made a bonfire and had a big BBQ farewell dinner for all the folk in his
neighbourhood. He then went with Elijah and started his apprenticeship.

It's important to remember that when God calls you to ministry, you often have to go through a period of training. Elisha's training under Elijah lasted a number of years before he actually took over from the great prophet.

Ordinary people...
You know, God prides himself in using ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things.
Gideon was a farm boy who led a nation to victory against the Philistines.
Moses, the son of a slave woman became the Pharaohs right hand man and later led a nation to freedom from bondage.
Jesus called 12 ordinary people, fishermen mainly to build His church.
You, too are called to great things in Christ!
Are you listening? Are you ready?
Have a great week!

Monday 15 April 2013

Excellence vs Professionalism and Perfection


In all aspects of the ministry of leading worship God wants us to give our best. But what exactly does that mean?  Is giving our best about being the perfectly polished professional who never makes a mistake, who knows all the songs off by heart and can do any tune in any key? Or is it about having a perfected heart? Perfected by love, forgiveness, and God's amazing grace?



Over the years I have been to many churches in many countries. I have visited numerous denominations and experienced worship in all kinds of circumstances. From small home cells to large congregations of tens of thousands. And the one thing that stands out in great worship is excellence of spirit and humbleness of attitude

Personally, I am not about show. Not when it comes to worship. Concerts have an audience, worship is corporate (all together) with a congregation. Worship is where we reach the intimate place of God's heart, and it's difficult (though not impossible) to reach that place when it's surrounded by flashing lights and smoke machines. (Ok, so I exaggerate a little).  When it comes to great worship in a church, I think we need to be careful to differentiate between WHAT we do and HOW we do it. Churches too often get caught up in trying to create a "well polished presentation" at the expense of reaching the heart of worship.

Now before you shout me down, I want to be absolutely clear on one thing: The Bible teaches that in the ministry of music; in the church and unto the Lord, we should be skilled in our craft and well practised. There is plenty of room to improve our abilities and stretch our capabilities. I believe that worship leaders and music directors everywhere are guilty of trying to create "better worship" by focussing on certain 'things' or formula that may lead to a better stage presentation but not necessarily excellent worship.  Here are a few:

* Music stands vs no music stands.

I have come across music directors who think it is "unprofessional" to have music stands and sheet music on the stage. Personally I would rather a musician have music to refer back to so as not to make a mistake, than trying to remember a piece of music, especially if it is a recent addition. I was in a church recently where a new song was introduced, and because this church had a "No Music Stand" policy, people had the sheet music on the floor and some were desperately peering down trying to focus on the music. So much so it was obvious and they were not aware of the congregation or the leading of the worship leader.  When I see the Symphony Orchestra perform I am looking at full time professional paid musicians with music sheets on music stands.  Listen, it is NOT unprofessional to have music on the stage. Professionals do it all the time. I would rather get it right than fumble my way through a song. Remember, most of your musicians are part time volunteers who have a life and a job and are passionate about giving God their best. Let them have their music!

* Dress standards: Colour vs plain

A lot has been made over the years about dress standard and dress code on stage for the worship team. Let me again point to the purpose for us being on the stage in the first place. It is to bring God's people on a journey to the heart of worship. Provided we are dressed modestly, I don't think there needs to be any hard and fast rules about what you should and shouldn't wear. I heard once of a beautiful young lady who, when told she had pretty shoes, refused to wear them on stage any longer because she worried that they were causing a distraction. The last time I saw her on stage, she wore all black, hair up and no makeup...
Praise is a joyful thing. To me it is full of colour. Colour in music, colour in exaltation, colour in outward expression, including in what we wear. In our uniqueness we can praise and worship a mighty God in all of His Glory and in the colour He deserves.
Remember, I said dress modestly, but don't feel you need to regulate the dress code to a uniform unless its for a special occasion or if the culture demands it. There are magnificent church choirs around where all the singers wear amazingly coloured robes. They bring quite a presence on the stage, and I love it!

*Fold Back: Speakers vs In-ear

On- stage fold back, if you are in a band situation is absolutely vital. However it can be so badly done and mixed that sometimes it creates more problems than benefits. In an ideal situation it's great to have a multi-channel fold back mixer, where you can filter out some of the less required instruments /voices for certain instruments or vocal groups. If you only have a two-channel fold back, you still have the ability to filter out fold back specific for say the bass and drums in one channel and guitars, keys and vocals in the other. If all you have in your PA is a stereo mixer with a left and right side split to front of house, I suggest that you assign one channel to the front of house, run the speakers in series and the other channel to the foldback.  All on stage should be able to easily hear the lead vocalist and the lead instrument (be it guitar or keys). All vocalists should be able to hear themselves in context with all other vocals.
As far as in-ear fold back goes, it's really important to remember that in corporate worship we are about the congregation. If you have 2 ear plugs it may be useful to leave one out so you can gauge the congregation or you could run the risk of leaving them behind. If you are running with fold back speakers, remember that they are there only for the benefit of those on stage, and the people sitting in the front row should not be able to hear them. Keep the volume down so that the sound-man can regulate the front of house levels.

Religion vs Reality

I want people to experience real worship, not something whipped up, and definitely not a show. I really believe there are many people in our churches who have not yet or not often experienced true intimacy in worship through the song service. It's easy to select some songs from a book or list and present some nice songs. It's a little more challenging to spend time seeking out the heart of God and getting the "right songs for that congregation for that day". We look to change people's lives and impact their worship experience. Remember we are in a priestly role and ushering the people into the presence of God. I don't look for a religious experience, I want people to experience the reality of the presence of God through the songs I bring. And all members of the worship team have an important role to play in this.

So, I encourage you to aspire to Excellence in your worship, no matter what member of the team you are, and see the Holy Spirit move in your service. If you are looking for more tools and resources to improve and hone your worship leading skills, check out our websites and podcasts available and and available free via download from iTunes.

Have a great week.

Thursday 28 February 2013

Thoughts on Faith

Recently in my daily devotional I came across the title of this article. In it, the writer made an interesting statement that caused me to think about my own faith, the faith of the members of my family,and the faith of those I fellowship with:
"Many people think faith may be a helpful protection in case they need it—like a spare tire for their car. Many turn to faith when facing struggles, but then turn back to something more “reliable” when a crisis passes."

The bible talks about faith a lot.  In fact the New King James Version mentions the word 252 times. For me one the most  important instructions on faith is found in Hebrews 11:6
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."
Here is faith in a nutshell.  How can you ask anything of a God you don't believe in? And if you do believe in Him, to what extent? Does He just exist - out there somewhere, scarcely interested in us mere humans? Or will He turn His attention to us,just and only when it suits Him? And what makes us think that He would even consider  us anyway?

But Jesus lays the cards out on the table for all to see.
"I and the Father are one," He declares,"Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest". And: "Believe in Me and you will never die..."
And in Matthew 10:30,31 " But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows
All this certainly gives us a clear indication of how God feels about us and the fact that he really does think of us...all of us...individually! And what's more, he wants to have relationship with
us; Not like a man with an aquarium whose fish only come to the face of the tank when they think they are going to get fed.

I had a bit of a think about the different types of faith we 'mere humans' tend to operate in:

Just-in-case faith

This is the type of faith we tuck away for a rainy day. We believe in God- a God; an "up there somewhere-" God who may or may not care or even know I exist. But just in case He really does exist, I'll say I'm a Christian and that way I'll be safe. I'll even have the kids "done" (christened) just in case something goes wrong.  Just incase Faith says: "I'm ok. I'm a good person and I do alright. I don't hurt anyone or steal or cheat and I pay my taxes and donate to charity. If there is a God and a heaven, I'll probably go there when I die.”

Crisis Faith

This is the faith that we call on when things are going pear shaped. Job lost, illness in the family, mounting debt, or even a natural disaster or accident..."God if you are up there, please help me. I
can't do this on my own, I need You."  I have seen leaders of nations get up and call people to prayer; to end droughts, to prevent floods, to help people through earthquakes, fires...
Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with praying for God to intervene, to stretch out His mighty hand and to deal with a difficult situation. In fact I wish it happened more often. What I am talking
about here is the people who turn to God only when these sorts of situations arise.  It's almost like a 'last resort' faith.  I am reminded of a story about a sailor who got washed overboard in a
terrible storm with no chance of getting back on the boat. He called out to God: "Lord, if You're out there, save me and I will dedicate the rest of my life to serving You". Just then a wave picked him up and threw him back on the deck of the boat. He stood up and declared, "Never mind God, it's ok, I'm back on the boat!" Crisis faith is the kind that calls out to God but when answered by Him, it often isn't recognised as being answered by Him.

Mustard seed Faith

This is the kind of Faith Jesus talked about. He calls it mountain moving faith. Mustard seed faith is not about size, but about the potential that comes from it. A small mustard seed has within it all
the DNA to become a tree of significance when planted, cultivated, nurtured, watered, and shielded in its infancy from destruction, the elements and the trampling foot.
I see faith as a resoluteness and a determination to allow God to be God and to have His way in any given situation. I see this faith as the kind of faith that ultimately trusts God in His wisdom to answer my petition in such a way that brings maximum benefit to me. I wrote a song once and a line of it goes like this:
"And when I ask for a blessing that you know will hurt me, then you keep me from it so that I won't fall..."
That is faith. Faith not only says God can, but God will, and God will for me because He loves me.
And when He doesn't, it's not because He isn't listening, but rather because He loves me enough to keep me from myself.

Faith and religiosity

There is a difference between faith and religiosity.
When I look at other religions, I see people motivated mainly by fear. Incense is burned, mantras are repeated countless times, offerings are made, people bow to statues and images of "celestial beings"... Even we westerners do things out of a religious compulsion rather than a
relational faith. People try to earn their salvation by their religious deeds; rosaries, oft repeated mindless prayers, even dietary changes at certain times of the year. We do 'stuff' because we think
it makes us look good, and people will respect us for our religious fervour. People might, but I'm not sure that God does. Romans 12:3 says
"Serve God with Spiritual Gifts, For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith."

Turning to faith

I mentioned before about the mustard seed and its potential. The Bible teaches us that we have all been given a measure of faith.  I see this in the same sense as the mustard seed. What will strengthen that faith and make it grow ultimately depends on what we do with it. Nurturing
and exercising our faith will build it.  Jude exhorts us in Jude 1:20-21:
"But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life."
Notice the instruction is to build yourself? Nobody else can do that for you. The faith bank.
The instructions in Jude are quite plain: pray in the Holy Spirit,keep yourself in God's love. Building ourselves up is putting the deposits in our Faith Bank. Other forms of deposit are:

Building the faith bank is like building a love relationship; The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. The more I nurture my marriage, the more successful our marriage becomes. The more I love my wife, the more she reciprocates that love. It's the same with Faith. The more I get to know God by building my faith bank, the closer and more intimate I become with Him. 
One of my favourite faith building instructions is found in Psalm 1:
"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.  He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,that brings forth its fruit in its season,whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish."
We all believe in something. Where is your faith at? Are you praying in faith or are you praying in vain? Is your faith religious or is it relational? Do you have the Mustard seed DNA that will bring you to great faith?
Jesus said "With God all things are possible"
Have a great week.