26 August 2009

WISELink August 2009

The August 2009 issue of WISELink is now available

18 July 2009

No Imitations- No substitutes for the Real Thing!

The Real Thing was Coca Cola’s slogan, plastered across bill boards for many years. The meaning was clear- everyone wants the authentic article, there’s no substitute for quality (to use another slogan), don’t waste your time and money on second best. Well some of those myths have been exposed lately. So what is the real thing today?

Remember the Christian slogan presenting Jesus as the Real Thing – that may be our experience. But for many knowing Jesus as the real thing is an illusive myth.

Many people don’t believe they have a choice, settling for second best, rather than the real thing. Lack of money, the dregs all their life, hand me downs, left over or no time, poor food, little affection and attention, even betrayal and abuse.

So the hope of finding the real thing in life becomes a lifelong search, looking here, there, anywhere for something, someone to rely on, to meet the longings for relationship…

Nevertheless God has planted in every human being the need for relationship, with God and with others, the need for deep connection, belonging in community, genuine and real relationships.

Relationships with others may become the way to discovering the real Jesus. A friend described to me the support and encouragement of an elderly woman who eventually invited her to her Church. She hesitantly thought she would give it a go, and was delighted on the first Sunday being surrounded by caring elderly people who are “like grandparents”. The authentic love and care, genuine interest and support are helping her discover God’s love and care.

There are no imitations for love-it either is or isn’t. People know when it’s the real thing, genuine quality, accepting and understanding, expressing dignity and respect. Real love is God with skin on. That’s the reason Jesus came to be the real thing!

Connect with a new person in your life. You may well discover Jesus in the other person, and they may well discover Jesus in you!
Grace and peace,
Julie Simpson,
Executive Officer, CareWorks

No Imitations - RRT

With our overall theme being Diamonds and gems for 2009, this month’s theme is “No Imitations”. This started me thinking about the differences there are between real and imitation.

Take for instance a real diamond and a manufactured diamond. With advances in manufacture it is often difficult to detect them with the naked eye, but once under the microscope the flaws in the imitation are clearly seen.

Recently while listening to the radio, a gem collector spoke about the number of fake rubies that are being sold to the unwary in markets in Asia, they are being sold as being real and are almost worthless as they are merely a type of coloured glass.

For a diamond to shine it must be able to refract light through it and come out the other side, bright and clear.

Think about the difference when cooking between vanilla essence and using imitation vanilla essence. When compared with each other, the flavour is quite different.

When we take a closer look at what the Bible says we find in Ephesians the command to be imtors of Christ Himself.

It is stated many times that He came as an example and, over 30 times the New Testament uses some tense of the phrase "follow me", "follow Him" or "followers of Christ." The word "followers" can be traced back to the Greek word "mimos" which means "to imitate." From the word "mimos", we can easily see origins of the English words "mime" and "mimic."

Scripture is loaded with examples revealing how and what one must do in order to be an imitator of Christ: Love your enemies; Forgive those who have sinned against you; Heal the sick; Cast out devils; Set captives free; Make disciples; Visit the imprisoned, the infirmed and feed the hungry. All are actions that we can usually find something else to do when we are approached to help.

So do we have a conflict between our theme and what Christ calls us to be? In a world where we have imitation this and imitation that, we are called to imitate Christ only. It has been said that if someone imitates you, it should be taken as a compliment, so we need to choose carefully who we start trying to imitate.

Therefore, if we are called to be imitators of Christ and Him only, but God wants “No Imitations,” what does this mean? He wants people who are committed to walk the Christian walk and follow the example that Christ has set, being the best reproduction of Christ we can be—God helping us.

WISELink July 2009

The July 2009 issue of WISELink is now available

24 June 2009

Freedom 5:13 Back Issues - Now Available

Back copies of Freedom 5:13 are now starting to be uploaded.

Issues 5 & 6 are now available; more coming soon (see the links on the left hand side of the page for link).

15 June 2009

‘Encounter at the Well’

A Spiritual Refreshment Retreat for Women

Sevenhill, Clare Valley

September 25th – 27th, 2009
Begins 7.30pm on Friday night
(concludes approx 3.00pm on Sunday)

A women’s retreat amid the vineyards of the beautiful Clare Valley
A chance for refreshment and personal renewal

Cost $200
Accommodation and meals inclusive
Limited number of places available

Please note: this retreat includes extended times of silence and solitude
Prayer guidance with Dorne Stevens and Roz Park

Expressions of Interest
Keith Ridge
C/- State Office – 8269 7873
kridge at churchesofchrist-sa.org.au

A Ministry of the Spiritual Formation Resource Group

An Ornament - Are you hanging in or just hanging on?

Yes believe or not, it is not Christmas yet, I know the year has been flying but yes it is only June and Yes! The theme is “Ornaments—made to hang around.”
What do you picture in your mind when the word ornament is mentioned or read? Something shiny, bright, glittery, and decorative.
In looking at this theme I have had some differing thoughts. Hmmm … ornaments -useless things that I have to dust but then on reflection, ornaments … beautiful decorative additions that give sparkle to the area around them.
"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
In 1st Samuel it is talking about how we judge the outward appearance but pay no attention to the condition of the heart. Here we are being warned not to worry about how we/others look on the outside, but to be more careful about our “heart condition”.
Outward appearance wasn't the issue here. It was how we adorn our hearts. Don't be so concerned about the external, because our family, friends, and the people we meet will be looking at our hearts - how we act, live, and behave. That is the adornment they see. Everything we say and do comes from our heart.
Just like a Christmas ornament hanging on a tree, our lives are dangling out there for others to see. How well do we embellish, adorn, and serve the body of Christ?
There are many types of ornaments we can be.
A Brittle Ornament—Like one of those Ornaments that appear beautiful, but when touched, the paint and glitter comes off on the hand. Are you like that? Have you been rubbed up the wrong way, or someone’s said something that’s upset you and you’ve haven’t forgiven them?
A Broken Ornaments. How do you cope with your problems—are they your “badge of honor” and need to be shared with all so others can never see the beauty of Jesus in You? All of us go thru trials but it is how we use them to make us grow that gives us the victory. We can be broken and brittle but we need to allow God to be the glue that holds us together.
A Forgotten Ornament—Are you one of those that doesn’t look as good as it used to. Got a chip here or there? Your Christian walk is not on track as it used to be—stopped reading your Bible, praying, not going to church as often, you consider yourself a Christian but that’s not what your heart is reflecting? All of us come up against all manner of situations that cause us not to be the person that God wants of us.
A Christ-like Ornament—One who radiates the beauty of Christ in everything we do and say?
May we each be “An ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price".
We can choose how we make the body of Christ more beautiful by how we act as a reflection of what's in our hearts. As Christians, we are each some kind of ornament, whether it be broken, forgotten, brittle or beautiful.
How are you hanging?
Adapted from thoughts by J Beftencourt

WISELink June 2009

The June 2009 issue of WISELink is now available

8 June 2009

Memories to Cherish - RRT

Everyday we are in the process of making memories and hopefully most of them are memorable. How do we make memories?
  • By storytelling – this allows us to relive the moment and think about the emotions that went along with the memory. Ever sat there telling your intended “in law” stories about what their fiancee did as a small child? Or heard stories in a eulogy about the loved one just departed? Written a journal of happenings on a trip or just life in general so you can remember? Whilst in hospital one time the patient in the other bed had been involved in an accident and had been unconscious for over 3 months. Every day her mother would visit and read from her journal of a trip she had had overseas so she might remember it when she regained consciousness. I learned a lot at that time about her travels also I cherish the memory of a loving mother reading to her daughter. 
  • Through looking at photographs and videos of events. These capture the moments and we can re‐live them as we either view the video of look through our albums. Sometimes there is written journaling in the albums or commentary on the video that helps us remember.
This year for Mothers Day at church are using the reading of 2 Timothy where Paul writes about the faith of Lois and Eunice and how they passed it on to Timothy by the example that they had lived and been to him.
As I looked at it in preparation for our service, I suddenly saw the Bible in a new light. It is a collection of journals, prepared for us to relive the happenings in people’s lives to learn, cherish and reminisce over, and realize anew our heritage in Christ. What example will we pass on to our families?
We must cherish the moments we have now. We cannot get back a moment wasted, or a hash word said. We live in the Now but we can look back and remember the past, and things said and done in the heat of the moment cannot be taken back but can be etched in memories forever. We need to be mindful of how and what we say to one another always. 
When looking at Mother’s Day is can be quite painful. The memories can be happy but can be bittersweet— Relinquishing mothers, grandparents separated from their grandchildren due to marriage breakup, mothers of stillborn children, women who have never married and/or women have never been a mother, those with communication breakdown between themselves and their mother. Consequently for them it is painful and lonely.
We not only have memories to cherish but memories to pass on. 2Timothy 1:8 calls us to tell and live out our story regarding what Christ has done for us. Remember the only Bible some people will read is us, so our life needs to be lived with that in mind.
Page 2 of WISELink May 2009 

The Middle Wife

I've been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second grade classroom a few years back.
When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell. So I always have a few sessions with my students. It helps them get over shyness and usually, show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that. And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it in to school and talk about it, they're welcome.
Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater.
She holds up a snapshot of an infant. 'This is Luke, my baby brother, and I'm going to tell you about his birthday.'
'First, Mom and Dad made him as a symbol of their love, and then Dad put a seed in my Mom's stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for nine months through an umbrella cord.'
She's standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I'm trying not to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching her in amazement.
'Then, about two Saturdays ago, my Mom starts saying and going, 'Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!' Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. 'She walked around the house for, like an hour, 'Oh, oh, oh!' (Now this kid is doing a hysterical duck walk and groaning.)
'My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn't have a sign on the car like the Domino's man. They got my Mom to lie down in bed like this.' (Then Erica lies down with her back against the wall.)
'And then, pop! My Mom had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like psshhheew!' (This kid has her legs spread with her little hands miming water flowing away. It was too much!)
'Then the middle wife starts saying 'push, push,' and 'breathe, breathe. They started counting, but never even got past ten. Then,
all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff that they all said it was from Mom's play-center, (placenta) so
there must be a lot of toys inside there. When he got out, the middle wife spanked him for crawling up in there.'
Then Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat. I'm sure I applauded the loudest. Ever since then, when it's show-and-tell day, I bring my camcorder, just in case another 'Middle Wife' comes along.
This was sent to me on email and can be found on the internet via Google. I trust you have had a laugh as you have imagined the antics of Erica.
From page 8 of WISELink May 2009