Sunday, 13 November 2011

Anger management

Are you an angry person? 

How often do you get angry?

How do you get angry?  Do you just 'let it all out' or do you bottle it up until one day you have a massive breakdown? Or perhaps you let your anger seep out in a passive-aggressive way, making snide remarks or behaving sulkily, hoping the other person will notice?

Here's some things I've learned about anger, both from God's Word and also practical life experience. P.s. No, I am not the Hulk. 

(the emotional, impulsive, raging monstrous alter-ego of Dr. Bruce Banner in the Marvel Comics Universe. How do I know this? Let's just say that me and my friend M once made an unwise decision that led to an afternoon spent watching the Hulk in a theatre filled with 13 year old boys). There is always room for imrovement as far as managing our emotions goes, the history of humanity indicates it's an area we struggle with. Here's my top 3 tips:

1. Decrease Pressure.
At least for me, stress=getting angry/irritated more easily.  Of course, you can't eliminate all of life's stresses and annoyances and shut yourself up in a comfortable little bubble. However, (and especially if you struggle with anger), it's a good idea to really rethink your schedule, time management and priorities if you are habitually getting angry and irritated. Pray to God and ask for wisdom to cut out any unnecessary burdens/stresses from life. Sometimes we think we have no choice but we do- there is nothing we have to do (except pay taxes and die, right?).

2. Be flexible-   If things don't go your way or as you had hoped/planned. 

3. Ask yourself, "Why am I angry?"
This is a dangerous question to ask because if you start asking this, you may just learn some things about yourself that you didn't want to know (but probably need to know).  Firstly, just asking a rational question can help get you thinking at a time when angry emotions are completely clouding your logical/rational thinking. And then you can start using rational thinking to problem solve yourself out of whatever has gotten you upset. Secondly, asking yourself why you are angry is a reminder that you are responsible for your emotions, regardless of who/what triggered it. Have a look at this verse where God uses this strategy with Cain, after Cain becomes angry at God and his brother Abel:

"Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at your door and it's desire is to have you but you must rule over it."  Genesis 4:6

God said, 'your anger wants to control you but you must rule over it!' God would not tell us to do something if it wasn't possible to do it! It's a command but also a promise: "You can rule over it!"
If we are in a right relationship with God, He will help us to be in control of ourselves at all times, no matter what our circumstances are or how other people may behave towards us.

* a great online resource for Bible verses about anger and also some helpful articles.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Faith despite circumstances...

(Rembrandt's Christ in the storm on the sea of Galilee, 1632)

One of the most astonishing faith statements in the Bible:

Job says: "For I know that my Redemeer lives and He shall stand at last on the my flesh I shall see God. I shall see Him for myself- my own eyes will behold Him...oh how my heart yearns within me." Job 19:25-27.

Context/Circumstances: Job loses most of his family, his home and even his health. Everyone around him thinks that God has cursed him. Much like today, people assumed that when bad things happened, it was because God willed it, rather than taking into consideration the existence of God's enemy, Satan, and also the role of human choice. However, despite his circumstances, Job refuses to believe that God has abandoned him.

Some of us have difficult circumstances in our life whilst others of us (myself included) have not met with much suffering or hardship. One thing that is for sure in this life though is that God wants to give us the opportunity to walk through this life with peace, security, confidence and hope. He wants us to know that He is on our side: "..if God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" Romans 8: 31, 32.

What do you think about Job's attitude? What has been your experience? What would you like it to be in the future?

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Am I growing?

One of my all time favorite promises in the Bible:

"May He grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith...may you know the love of Christ which surpasses [theoretical]knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:16-21

I sometimes worry about how I represent God as someone who calls themselves a Christian. God has been so misrepresented by religious people and groups throughout history, so I want to show the fullness of His character and truth in my life. But this verse in Ephesians makes it clear that it is His love and care towards us that fills us with God's glory (i.e. His character) rather than something I have to create for myself.

Do not worry as to whether or not you are growing. Plants do not grow through any conscious effort or worry. They grow by just being in the sunlight. We need to live in the sunlight of God's presence and then we will grow. Jesus said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin...Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life.” The children of God are to cease worrying, cease looking at themselves and they are to take an earnest interest in others... (paraphrase from my devotional book).

Image: Van Gogh, Field of Flowers.

Monday, 26 September 2011

A love that does not change...


God is often described in the Bible as the One who never forsakes us. In Jeremiah 31:37, God says that He would reject His people only "if the Heavens above could be measured." (which they cannot be). God never leaves us, He never rejects us, He is always there for us. 

 "The people of Zion said,
   "The LORD has turned away
   and forgotten us."
    The LORD answered,
   "Could a mother forget her nursing child
   and not have compassion for her own infant?
Even if a mother could forget,
  I will never forget you.
   I have engraved you on the palms of my hands,
    You are continually in my thoughts."

 Isaiah 49:14-16

Monday, 12 September 2011

Monday Manna Promises

Some of my favourite promises from the Bible (some old, some new):

"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro the whole earth to show Himself strong in the behalf of those whose hearts are loyal to Him." 2 Chronicles 16:9

"For the weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of this world but are mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds." 2 Corinthians 10:4

"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." James 1:12

"For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody." Isaiah 51:3


Thursday, 8 September 2011

the pursuit of Happiness

I have a very humble garden on my balcony. The other day I was transfixed by the beauty of this lavender flower. Despite many many blessings in my life, I often allow little things to rob me of joy and get me depressed, irritated, anxious or stressed. My friend Anna J got a phrase stuck in my mind a while ago- "Attitude of Gratitude!" and I've been repeating it to myself as a cure for whenever I feel tempted to complain. Here are my favourite happiness quotes:

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. 
-Rabindranath Tagore

Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.
 -Leo Tolstoy.

The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not.  ~George Bernard Shaw

Happiness is not having what you want. It is wanting what you have. – Unknown

"Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be made full." John 16:24

The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.  ~Mark Twain

"The joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10

Here's a photo of a little person that gives me great joy. Photo (and chook) courtesy of my sister.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Monday Manna on Money

I had buyers regret last week after buying something online. Or rather, as I read an article about the situation in Somalia, God's Spirit whispered to me, "Did you really need to buy that?" Hmm, the concept of need/necessity can be pretty subjective! Would you believe it, I struggled for a day and a half on this issue before returning the item. I could have given some other money to charity and kept my prized item of clothing but then I would just be giving out of my abundance rather than actually sacrificing for someone else. I don't think I've ever had to sacrifice for someone else! So the problem wasn't the money, it was my heart- God knew that at that moment, I cared more about that item of clothing (and how awesome I would feel wearing it) then about the kids in Somalia. God loves us too much to let us live a small, selfish life. I know that if He left me to myself, I would devote all of my time and money to making myself comfortable in this life, trying to have all the fun I can and just pursuing my own interests and goals. But God has much bigger, longer-lasting dreams for us! I guess we need an eternal perspective...

"Money has great value, because it can do great good. In the hands of God's children it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, and clothing for the naked. It is a defense for the oppressed and a means of help to the sick. But money is of no more value than sand, only as it is put to use in providing for the necessities [necessities!there's that word again!] of our life, in blessing others, and advancing the cause of Christ." -Christ's Object Lessons.

"Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. Command those who are rich in this present age not to be proud, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." 1 Timothy 6 excerpts...

P.s. How rich are you? Check out your salary compared to everyone else.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Monday Manna on a Tuesday- Faithfulness

"Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines... " Song of Solomon 2:15

"Those who neglect the little things will not be prepared to endure severe tests when they are brought to bear upon them. Remember that character building is not finished til life ends. Every day a good or a bad brick is placed in the structure."- E. White

Likewise, it is faithfulness in the little mundane things of life that can bring us great happiness. Faithfulness not just in doing the duties we have been given but also in showing kindness and compassion to whoever we interact with (particularly family). These little acts of faithfulness, "... help make up the sum of lifes happiness; and the neglect of these little things makes up the sum of lifes bitterness and sorrow."

"We cannot always do great things but we can do small things with great love." Mother Teresa.

"He who is faithful in the little things will be faithful in the big things..." Luke 16:10

Be faithful in all that God has given to you! Time, money, the people in your life, your health, your talents, your soul.

image: illustration by Jean de La Fontaine

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


Written on a billboard that I drove past last week...

"The pain of self-discipline is less than the pain of regret."

I admire (and am confounded by) the determination of athletes, who endure pain and deprivation to reach their goal. Cadel Evans once completed a stage of the Tour de France with a broken elbow (or arm or whatever it was). I would not even dream of riding up such ridiculously steep inclines!! 

Paul says: "Everyone who competes in the games is self-disciplined in all things. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." 1 Corinthians 9:25

I'm not so good at self-discipline. However, it doesn't matter if there are certain admirable character traits that we lack (either by nature or because of our past choices) because God gives us a new character as a spiritual gift. When we allow Him to lead us by His Spirit, we receive the fruit of the Spirit also... "love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, humility, self-control and faith." (Galatians 5:22, 23).

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons and daughters of God." Romans 8:14

The gift of the Holy Spirit is a blessing that brings with it all other blessings. 


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

To Forgive

To forgive means:
to let go, 
to pass over, 
to cease to feel resentment, 
to cancel the debt that someone owes you (debt= their wrong towards you).

Jesus said that when we pray, we should ask God to  "...forgive us our wrongdoing the same way that we forgive others when they hurt us or let us down." (paraphrase from the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6).

What would it look like if God forgave me the same way that I forgive others (i.e. begrudgingly)? If you are anything like me (and most of Western society), you struggle to accept responsibility for your own wrongs, let alone forgive others when they have wronged you. It's such a struggle to 'let go' and to resist trying to prove to someone how 'wrong' they are and how 'right' you are!

How can I become more forgiving? "Forgive one another, even as God, through Christ, forgave you." Ephesians 4:32

The answer is to first experience God's forgiveness towards us. Why do we need His forgiveness? When have we wronged Him? Every time we make a bad choice, it hurts our Heavenly Father, just as it hurts us when those we love make destructive choices. And when we hurt someone else, we are primary sinning against God because He is their Creator and Saviour too.

God is much more interested in forgiving us than we are in asking Him for forgiveness. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Gleams that untravelled world...

I found it really hard to find a short blog url that a) I liked and b)wasn't already taken.

Hence my long blog name, 'Gleams that untravelled world..."

It's sort of random but it's taken from Tennyson's Ulysses. Here are some lines I particularly like:

I am a part of all that I have met; 
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro' 
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades 
For ever and for ever when I move...

How dull it is to pause, to make an end, 
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use! 
As tho' to breathe were life! 

...The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
'T is not too late to seek a newer world...

'Ulysses' by Turner, taken from this blog:

Monday, 1 August 2011

The gift of Time


One of my greatest and ongoing struggles is to make the most of the greatest gift we have been given- the gift of time! Here are some thoughts that have challenged me...oh and thanks for taking the time to read this ;)

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.-Gandhi

Lost time is never found again.- Benjamin Franklin

"Therefore be very careful how you live—not as unwise but as wise, taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15, 16.

"What is the purpose of a Christian?
Satan makes special efforts to use the pleasures and amusements of this world to distract us from the solemn realities of scenes that are not far off in the future. The pleasures of this world are infatuating but are they worth sacrificing the friendship of Heaven and the peace and joy it affords us? We are not on this earth to please ourselves but to benefit humanity and be a blessing to society." E. White

There's nothing wrong with innocent comforts and pleasures and recreation but if our own own comfort and pleasure is our main purpose in life, then, in God's eyes, we are not really 'alive' (because our days here on earth are so short from God's perspective).. "They who live for pleasure are dead even while they live." 1 Timothy 5:6

How are you using your time?

“LORD, help me to know my end,

 And what is the measure of my days..

Certainly every man at his best state is but a shadow,       
Surely they busy themselves in vain;          
He heaps up riches,         
And does not know who will gather them.          
And now, Lord, what do I wait for?         
My hope is in You."
Psalms 39

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

How the mighty have fallen...

"How the mighty have fallen..."  

This common adage is repeated when someone rich and powerful 'topples' over and our envy of their success turns into smug satisfaction at their fall.

However, this saying actually originates from a song David penned before he was a king; back when he and his rebel soldiers were hiding in the desert to avoid King Saul's attacks. Jonathan, King Saul's firstborn and the heir to the throne, had every reason to align himself with his father in seeking the death of their rival to the throne. 
However, Jonathan believed that God had chosen David to be the next King and so he put his own ambitions aside and was to David the most "faithful of friends, shielding David's life at the peril of his own." Jonathan also was "...steadfast at his father's side through the dark days of his declining power, and at his side falling at the last during the terrible battle with the Philistines at Mount Gilboa." David wrote this song in his grief when he heard the news of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan. 

"The name of Jonathan is treasured in heaven, and it stands on earth a witness to the existence and the power of unselfish love."

The word 'love' is much abused in our language but in the truest sense of the word, it means to have the courage and sacrifice to do what is good for others, even at the expense of our own interests.

May God, who is the author of love, help us to be the sort of people who will love others. Whoever we are, if we love those who God has entrusted to us in our life, our name will also be treasured in the eyes of heaven.

(excerpts in speech marks are from the account of David's life in Patriarchs and Prophets).

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The narrow path

My dear friend Ivana sent me some links to her favourite Bible verses and one of those was Psalms 19. I love all of the Psalms but have a look at this excerpt and may it be a blessing:

 "The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart..
More to be desired are they than gold,
         Yea, than much fine gold;
         Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
         And in keeping them there is great reward. "

The riches of this world are deceitful...and I'm not just talking about money! The riches- the best this world has to offer- are deceiving because they promise much but in the end cannot offer an eternal reward. The pleasures, the entertainment, the honour, the admiration of this world is nothing compared to knowing God and walking in His way.  Apart from the infinite risk and sacrifice of coming to this world as a human, Jesus also never had the praise of men- He chose the praise and favour of God.  Look to God to meet your needs and look to God's will for your life. His way is the path of life even if the journey is difficult sometimes because to follow God, you have to swim against the current (i.e. your natural desires and also the influence of our society's values). But keep walking:) (or swimming or whatever). hehe:)
Blessings and a happy rest-of-the-week to everyone.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Monday Manna, hang on

As the dad was watching his three sons playing in the snow, he challenged them to a race where the winner would be not the first to cross the snowy field but rather the one who could run in the straightest line. The boys stood at one end of the field and their dad at the other end. 

The first son decided to focus on his feet to make sure he stayed in a straight line.

The second son thought that if he looked to his brothers on either side of him, he could kind of stay parallel to them and try to run better than them.

The third son fixed his gaze on his dad and decided he would keep his path straight by having a goal to run towards.

Who do you think kept his path the straightest? The third son of course! Maybe you're better drivers than I am (most probably!) but I know that if I look down at the radio or if I look at something outside the car window, I start to veer off the road, in the direction of where I am looking. Scary, I know! This is why I have to concentrate really hard when I drive:) The point is, the best way to stay on path is to be focused on a goal.

If you want to finish the race of life successfully and win eternal life, don't look to yourself like the first boy did. You might become proud and then fall ("pride comes before fall") or you might become discouraged and give up. Don't look at others like the second boy did because the Bible says it is foolish to compare ourselves to others...Do not compete with others, do not look to the praise of others to give you strength to reach your goals. Follow the example of the third son...

"Wherefore, seeing we are surrounded by a great number of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which clings to us so easily and instead run with perseverance and patience the race that is set before us... [How can we achieve this? Verse 2 tells us the answer...} by "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, thinking not of the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of God." Hebrews 12: 1 and 2.

Look to Jesus and don't let go...never give up because where would you go? 
"Lord, you have the Words of eternal life."  John 6:68

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Do you believe?

One man decided to cross the great, roaring Niagara Falls and to perform various daring feats such as riding his bicycle and once even carrying a stove and cooking an omelette on it (he ate the omelette). 

On one occasion, Charles Blondin (for that was his name) after crossing the tightrope with a wheelbarrow, asked the crowd, "Do you think I can do it again?"  "Yes, yes!", cried the excited crowd.

     "Who will then get in the wheelbarrow?", asked Blondin. 

No one did. The point of this oft-told story is that faith is shown in our actions.

  Do you believe in Jesus? Do you really believe in Him?
 When you sin, do you believe in His mercy enough to come to Him?
 When what you want clashes with God's will, where do you put your trust?
 When you are searching for happiness and fulfilment, who or what do you turn to?

 If you ever want the clouds of doubt, fear, anxiety, stress, depression and uncertainty chased away and to live with confidence, strength, courage and faith, here is the secret: "So then faith comes from hearing and hearing comes from the Word of God." Romans 10:17.

It doesn't matter what our story has been so far because "...The end of a thing is better than its beginning" (Ecclesiastes 7:8). So keep fighting the good fight of faith.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Monday Manna: Perfect Peace

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose mind is fixed on you, because they trust in you." Isaiah 26:3

"There are many whose hearts are aching under a load of care because they seek to reach the world's standards. God bids us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and His promise is that all things needful to them for this life shall be added. Worry is blind and cannot discern the future but Jesus sees the end from the beginning. In every difficulty He has His way prepared to bring relief. Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us, of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honour of God supreme will find a plain path before their feet...

True happiness is found in learning of Christ. Those who take Christ at His Word and surrender their souls to His keeping, their lives to His ordering, will find peace. Nothing of the world can make them sad when Jesus makes them glad by His presence.

It is the love of self that brings unrest to our soul." -excerpts from my daily devotional by e.white

May God help us to keep the great law of His universe- love God with all your heart and your neighbour as yourself. Yes it's natural for us to put ourselves first but when we do, we are going against the way God created us to be. The path to happiness is in keeping God's law. Though we cannot manufacture this love in our own hearts, by spending time with God, love will spring up in our hearts.

"We love Him because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19

"Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and the patience of Christ." 2 Thess. 3:5

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Monday Manna: What to do with guilt

"Love forgives all wrongs." Proverbs 10:12

Who likes being wrong? Not I! Depending on the size of the misdeed, you either feel slightly foolish or deeply ashamed.

All throughout our day, God sends us impressions to do good through His Holy Spirit. How loudly or softly we hear His voice depends on how much we value His will for our lives.

When we resist impressions from God, we feel bad. No one likes feeling bad/wrong, so what to do? We were not created to bear a burden of guilt in our minds! Humans cannot bear this for long so we end up doing one of two things:

1. Give our guilt to God: confess/admit we've done wrong (1 John 1:9) and allow God to forgive our wrongs and to give us the strength and freedom to move on from those mistakes and learn a better way!


2. Put the guilt somewhere else: we rationalise and justify our mistakes away and play the blame game. If we keep doing this, we will become blind to our own faults and weaknesses. We will end up always minimising our own faults and responsibilities and our own contribution to our problems and we will maximise the faults and wrongs of others.  This distorted way of thinking is what causes conflicts in our relationships. 

If we will just come to Jesus, we can claim this promise: "He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way." Psalms 25:9.

If we want to have wonderful relationships, be that in the workplace or at home or wherever we are, we need to humble ourselves and come to God for freedom, forgiveness, peace and joy and only then will we be able to be the sort of people who love others in a truly selfless way. The great God who created the entire universe stands ready always to help us.  

Monday, 13 June 2011

Monday Manna on a Tuesday- Our worst enemy

I first read the diary of Anne Frank (well-known Holocaust victim) when I was 13 years old, the same age that Anne was when she started writing. I recently reread her diary and was moved so much by her story.

There are many other nameless people who have also suffered great injustice in their lives, not just during the Holocaust but throughout the entire history of the human race. The Roman philosopher Cicero said, "Man is his own worst enemy."  The sins and mistakes of those around us wound us but often we also sabotage ourselves. A small example is when we try to convince someone of our point of view (we want them to understand our hurt feelings or to better understand our needs and rights) but the more we try, the further we alienate that person. Perhaps it is because they are also busy trying to make us understand them. 

Anne Frank's last entry in her diary before she was found by the Nazi's has something very profound written in it...Consider that Anne was stuck in a tiny attic with 7 other people for 2 whole years! Hunger and also the tension created by their fear of discovery meant that the relationships grew strained. Anne writes, 

"I am trying very hard to change myself but I'm always up against a more powerful enemy... 

Keep trying to find a way to become what I'd like to be and what I could be if...if only there were no other people in the world."  (diary ends here).

In each of us is the potential to reflect God's character. However, in each of us is also a natural selfishness which makes it hard sometimes to relate to others. How can we win against our 'strong enemy'? I believe the only way is to turn to God for help. We need someone stronger than ourselves! Only by having a relationship with Him who is loving, patient, understanding, forgiving strong, courageous and kind can we also have those character traits in us as we relate to others.

 "Hear my cry, O God;
   listen to my prayer.
 From the ends of the earth will I call to you,
   When my heart is overwhelmed,
   lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
   a strong tower from the enemy."  

      Psalms 61.