Author Archives: Simon Smith

About Simon Smith

Simon is passionate about God and seeing people come into the fullness of life that Jesus' redemption paid for. He seeks to challenge, encourage and empower men to breakdown barriers, attitudes and mindsets preventing them from living Holy God centered lives. (He's like a wrecking ball to barriers!)

Evict the freeloaders!

Today marks one month into 2018. It means that the Australian Open has been played and won, the shrimps and lamb have been consumed from the BBQ, most people would be back at work and the kids have begun school. Not to mention the progress, or lack there of for 2018 New Years Resolutions.

What are you changing or sacrificing this year?

Guilt unforgiveness or grudges don’t sacrifice or pay anything to take up residency in your life. Depression anxiety and substance abuse are also freeloaders. Its time to evict them.

In fact you are the one who is making the sacrifice. It has been said that unforigveness is like drinking poison hoping the other person would die. You could say the same about undue guilt that weighs you down or a grudge you are holding against another person for something that they did, or possibly only your perception of an event or incident from… how long ago?

Depression and anxiety are real emotions that many people experience during their lifetime. But you don’t have to set up a tent in the valley of the shadow of despair. It may take you time but its now time to use those roadblocks (boulders) to overcoming these issues as stepping stones. Its time to evict them and rise above.

Substance abuse and other addictions not only hurt you but those close to you. These may cost you financially as you part with money to feed them but the costs are much more than the financial: friendships, relationships employment housing freedoms and liberty. Not so much a freeloader as the others above but by no means without cost.

Mental health is important. Not keeping check on the causes of negative virtues or habits in your life could be contributing to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Have you already broken your new years resolutions for 2018? Maybe some of these issues identified above have contributed to you lack of staying power. Its time to evict the freeloaders in your life and rise above your accomplishments and mistakes of the past.

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I wish it could be Christmas…everyday!

Do you prefer Christmas Carols or Christmas Songs?

Firstly, let me define the difference for this discussion.  Christmas Carols are also referred to as Hymns about Christmas.  They speak of, and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah in a town in Israel just over two thousand years ago.  Christmas Songs are often about a persons experience of Christmas or basically anything else to do with Christmas.  These could include trees, snow, chestnuts, presents, and of course Santa and Rudolf.

I grew up in a Christian home where we celebrated Christmas at church and with family get togethers, giving and receiving of gifts, family lunches, and visiting relatives. I remember we would ride on the back of tray trucks (before it bacame ‘unsafe’) singing along as the brass band played the tunes.  As a teeneager and adult I would join the band playing carols in the streets, the shopping malls and nursing homes.  A result of that is not knowing most of the words, but I can whistle or hum the tunes, and even remember the numbers for some in the carol tune book.

I worked in a large retail department store for 8 Christmas’ so I have also had good exposure to the Christmas songs that have been written over the years too, and the chaotic pace of the season.  There was a music store outside our shop that played christmas music constantly, as well as our store.  There are many carol services for people to attend each year, that undoubtedly play many different types of music and have a visit from Santa before the kids fall asleep.

I am personally aware that the Christmas season can be challenging when there are loved ones and family that are estranged or deceased.  Sometimes it is necessary to change the way you celebrate without forgetting or dishonouring those who you cannot be with, and give yourself permission to enjoy the season again.

I made a conscious decision a number of years ago to start to enjoy Christmas more. Playing a digital radio station daily that only plays Christmas music has changed my attitude.  I sometimes crank up the volume for the neighbours to hear and do sing along.  It can never replace playing in Brass Bands at this time of year, but it has got me singing again.

My preference is for the Christmas Carols over Songs.  My favourite carol is “O Holy Night” because it speaks of the birth of Jesus Christ and His purpose in being born.  However I do enjoy most of the Songs.  Singing along to “Santa Clause is coming to town,” “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” “Rudolf the red nose reindeer,” “I saw mummy kissing Santa Clause”…the list goes on.

Whether its a carol or a song, I believe they are all about celebrating various aspects of life, and I enjoy both types. One particular song has caught my attention this year.  “I wish it could be Christmas everyday” is a song about snow, makng people smile, skating in the park, Santa and his sleigh.  I began to realise that we can and should celebrate life everyday. If the true, original meaning of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ as the Messiah could be celebrated everyday, then accepting that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Saviour is the start of that change of daily living and celebrating.

I wonder when I hear artists and musicians at Christmas time, whose lifestyle and belief system doesn’t reflect Christian values, what impact the meaning behind the Carols has on them. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ then I hope that His love will show through you own actions everyday of the year.  If you don’t yet follow Jesus Christ and profess Him as your personal Lord and Saviour, then I challenge you to go deeper with this season and make personal the words of the carols whose message is about the birth of your Lord and Saviour.  Consider how different your life can be and the world if you had a revelation of this.

Loving one another, breaking of chains of addiction and abuse, and the cesation of oppression is something that all peoples should have in common.  The last verse of my favourite carol goes like this…

”Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine”

What is your favourite…and why?

Is Love Love?

There is a slogan that has been getting a lot of media attention in Australia in recent times.  It is usually accompanied by rainbow coloured flags and claims that “Love is Love.”  So how can you best describe love?

The limitations of the English language, compared with others such as Hebrew and Greek means we only have one word for love.  That is love.  It is used widely to refer to people, objects and activities.  When I say I love my AFL team; fresh brewed coffee; steak (medium rare thanks!); reading; my wife and family, the english word for each is the same, LOVE.  However, the depth of meaning for each time it is used is vastly different.  I get alot of pleasure from the success of my AFL team in recent years, my son responds with excitment and high fives when he sees my excitment and happiness.  I greatly enjoy a fresh brewed coffee, and not much beats a juicy steak.  But does the love I have for those tangible items and activites realy match the love that I have for my wife and family?

In the ancient texts, known as the Bible, there is at least nine different Hebrew words and at least six Greek words for LOVE.  Here’s a few with a brief English translation.

Hebrew

aheb – to be attracted (like a nail to magnets) or attached to (as in parent and child).

hasad – an expression of emotional or economic loyalty amongst relatives, neighbours and friends.

raham – a one way love such as with a caregiver to the receiver.

ahava – to have affection or to be intimate with another person.

dode – a love by implication, most commonly refering to a relative.

Greek

eros –  a love for the body, shown through physical passion and desire.

agape – a selfless love with no limitations on whom it is shown to.

phileo – rich in emotion and feeling, relates to the love of the soul, often associated with a parents love for their child(ren).

philautia – a love for self often associated with narcissism.

pragma – long standing love, often making compromises to help develop the depth and longevity of a relationship.

Some quick research will uncover other non-English words for love.  Why not do your own research and you will discover that loving your spouse the same way as your favourite sportsteam might not be very romantic or provide a good foundation for longevity!  Here’s just a few.

FrenchAmour sans fin: endess love.

GermanIch liebe dich: a deep affection for another person.

Italianamore: affectionate love.

So why the rainbow?

As a follower of Jesus Christ and beliver in the Holy Bible, I am convinced that the rainbow was created by God.  It was done so as a symbol of His commitment (such as the Greek word listed above – agape) never to destroy human kind again as was done in the time of Noah and the great flood.

In Genesis chapter 9, verses 12 and 13, it reads that God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”

This was, and will always be a sign of God’s covenant, not a flippant suggestion or for the sake of brightening up the sky when its couldy, but His covenant.  As a covenant is usually a formal agreement between two parties to do a specific thing, this is also a reminder back to God of His part of the agreement.  So if you think that God doesn’t or cannot love you, or wonder how He can exist with the turmoil in the world, then remember this: each time you see a rianbow in the sky, while it can be a sign to you of the God who loves you and will never destroy you, it is also His reminder to Himself that He desires a relaitonship with you and has already made the ultimate sacrifice for that relationship to be possible.

What do you think of when you see a rainbow?

What do you seek?

Seeking after the things of God, not this world reflects your priorities in life. There is nothing wrong with pursuing a career or interests outside a faith setting. It is when your pursuits in life give no regard to God, you may find trouble beckoning.  The hurts you experience along the way may begin to spiral out of control when you are unable to, or unaware of how to view them as opportunities.

Getting God’s perspective on the tension between joy and tribulation can provide you with the greatest lessons in life.

God has a goal for each and every one of our lives. It isn’t just to make us happy, but to model for us how to be Holy – by being more like Him.  Jesus knew and endured pain, ridicule and shame.  He was disowned, ignored, physically beaten.

The writer of the Bible book of Hebrews says that it was through the pain and suffering that Jesus Christ endured on our behalf taught Him obedience.  (Hebrews 5:8). Through these times it was who He put His faith and trust in that Jesus got through – He learned to depend on God, and God alone.

It is when we can see God’s providential care and involvement in the good and bad times; in the valleys and on top of the mountains; in the dark times and bright, then we can build the resilience that comes from depending on God. 

Not much in this world comes without risk. The saying goes “the greater the risk, the greater the reward.”  Allowing yourself to become vulnerable and opening your heart to God is the first key in allowing the hurt you have endured to be used for good, for those set backs to become set ups! 

It is said of Saint Basil (303 – 379 AD) that his faith was ambidextrous because “he welcomed pleasure with his right hand and afflictions with the left, convinced both would serve God’s design for him.”  Seeking God in all seasons of your life, trusting God in the joys and tribulations of life is where ‘ambidextrous faith’ is beneficial.

When we look around with our eyes open, we can be distracted by the issues and struggles of life.  When you close your eyes, these distractions and biases become less influential. Determine to close you eyes to your hurts and ask God to reveal to you how He is able to turn these around into greater possibilities.

 

Where’s the hope?

Life’s challenges can leave even the strongest of people replacing hope with doubt and fear. Several times throughout the Bible, God reminds His people to “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid…for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV)

Having listened to the negative voices in the past you may be carrying hurt deep with in your heart that needs to be exposed to be healed. There may be such hurt and pain, or unforgiveness so repressed that you don’t remember what actually happened. I’ve heard it said of generational family feuds and long running marriage problems, that no one involved can clearly articulate what started the dispute. What a waste of opportunity for living in hope when you can’t remember what started an argument. 

A significant key to hope is to apprehend what God says about you and surrender all your hurt to Him.  Healing so deep can be painful. It is also the place of new beginnings.  Birthing a new life is painful, ask any mother.  

Some of the things that the Bible records of God saying about you includes how you are His beloved, His pearl of great price, you are more than a conqueror. 

The Bible also says that God has given you a spirit of power, love and self-control, not one of fear. That He has placed within you the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. The ability to be strong and very courageous in all circumstances is repeated several times under different circumstances. 

God also says He will provide a place of rest from the battles within and without. When you have Him as Lord of all of your life, you are not immune from life’s challenges, but He gives you the ability to overcome any test or temptation that comes your way. He also promises to never leave you, or forsake you.  
The mess, test or pain you are or have experienced could be the very thing that God is waiting to show you just how much He loves and cares for you.  Your breakthrough, and witness of it could be the very thing that helps someone else regain hope. Every human being past, present and future, has been created in God’s own image. It stands to reason then, that His desire for your life is not to set up residence in the darkness but continue to walk through all of life’s experiences. If you don’t turn towards the light, you may never see how bright your future can really be. 

If there is so much positivity that God has spoken over your life, don’t you think that it is worth placing all you hope in what He says about you and not the negative influences of this world?

Responding versus Reacting

The world will tell you that mediocrity is acceptable. God’s word tell us that “in all things we are more than conquerer’s through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)”

We all go through pain in our lives. Whether it be that initial slap on the buttocks at birth, relationship breakdowns or a financial meltdown, what we do with it shapes its influence on our remaining years. We can choose to either react (to act in opposition to a former condition or act), or respond (to react to a stimulus or to a treatment, especially in a favourable way).

  • The baby’s reaction is to cry, responding with opening its lungs for more breath; 
  • Relationship breakdowns may cause a reaction that is self destructive, where as a favourable response might include self reflection to understand how our own patterns of behaviour may have influenced the breakdown;
  • Financial meltdown reactions could include self harm or seeking out vices to find that illusive quick fix, whereas a favourable response might include adequate planning or change of habits.

The saying goes “God can turn your mess into a message, your test into a testimony, or your pain into gain.”  Learning how to respond rather than react to life’s situations can have a favourable outcome for your life, and for those around you.  It can be difficult seeing through the fog of challenges to see the future promises.  Remaining positive and pushing through can reduce the severity and frequency of the times you need to pick yourself up and keep moving forward.   

Two keys to achieving this are calling on God’s voice that can silence the negative voices.  Then once you learn how to use this key, you can begin to apprehend what God says about you, not the opinions of the naysayers. 

Determine within yourself today, that you will not let the barriers, attitudes and mindsets that have been negative influences on your past decisions to have a place of residence in your future.

No Condemnation

SCRIPTURE:  Romans 8:1 “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (NKJV)

OBSERVATION:  Under Old Testament law, a sacrifice had to be made for the cleansing of all sins.  Since Christ’s death and ressurection was a once and for all sacrifice for the sins of all peoples, throughout all of histroy, Pauls states that we are no longer condemned to death as a result of our sinful natures but through Jesus’ sacrificial death, we can now be freed from condemnation into the fullness of a life restored to our creator God.

APPLICATION:  When our past is brought up, it can stir up emotions within us that either cause us to react or respond. When the enemy of our souls tries to remind us of our past, we are most likely to feel the emotion of condemnation. That is to feel that the forgiveness that Christs death and resurrection brought for us was not sufficient to cleanse that sin from our lives. Sometimes in the heat of an argument, or passionate discussion with a spouse, a friend or family member, we or they may react in a way that brings about condemnation in the atmosphere.  This can demonstrate to us that we have not forgiven a past issue or released someone of a hurt that is in the past. It may even be telling us that there is something we haven’t forgiven ourselves over.

Contrary, sometimes something from our past is brought up and the emotion of condemnation is absent, but we feel compelled to respond. This could be that there is still a lesson to be learnt, or some further equipping that is required. We may feel a prompting from the Holy Spirit about a lesson that God wanted us to learn from to help us on our journey to our destiny. It is also possible that we haven’t truly repented for a past sin and subsequently released someone from that bondage of unforgiveness.

I heard a saying that ‘unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.’  Is there a past issue surfacing in your life that needs to be dealt with? To have the Blood of Jesus applied to it?  Which of the above is it?  If you are feeling condemned then don’t let it become a root of bitterness, but release the person (including yourself if approriate) and seek to be reconciled with them. If there is no condemnation then ask God what lesson still needs to be learnt so you can continue towards your destiny.  Maybe there is an attitude or mindset within you that needs adjusting.

PRAYER:  Lord God, guide me I pray to know when I need to forgive and to be forgiven so that no unforgiveness can take root in my life. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN