Archive for April, 2008

Success According to Jesus

April 1, 2008

Was Jesus successful during his time on earth? This may seem an unusual question.  It naturally depends on one’s definition of success is.  In the eyes of the world success could mean :-1.  Financial Wealth

2.  High Status and Recognition in Society

3.  Loving Marriage and children

4.  Ability to enjoy the things in life eg. relaxing holidays,  trips to exotic locations,  lovely restaurants,  sporting or artisitic pursuits.

5.  Feeling of Happiness

6.  Loving friends and family for quality fellowship and support

7.  Beauty and Good Health

There can be other elements that would include success in our modern age.  However these would probably be the main ones  people would look for to guage  if a person is a “success”  in our world today. 

By our worldly standards was Jesus a success? Let’s take a closer look:-

1.  Financial Wealth: he did not seem to possess financial wealth.  His chosen trade was a carpenter which probably would have earned him a modest living able to supply his needs.  During his three years in full time ministry, he  probably received financial support from specific followers.  He also stayed at people’s houses as he travelled and visitied different towns.

2.  High Status and Recognition: Jesus attracted many followers who were searching for spiritual truth.  However he was despised by the  leaders of the Jewish order and eventually condemned by all the governing authorities of the day.  He always seemed to face some form of persecution for his teaching.

3. Marriage and Children: Because God had a special mission for Jesus on this earth he remained single in order to devote his whole life and soul to God’s appointed task.

4. Enjoyment of Life : Since Jesus only had three years in full time ministry, it is unlikely that he took any extensive holiday time to relax.  However he did attend weddings and feasts and probably knew how to enjoy celebrations with friends and family.  John 2

5. Feeling Happy: Jesus would have always had the feeling of peace and oneness with His Heavenly Father since he was sinless and always completely obedient to His Father’s will.  However I don’t know that he was always “happy” in a worldly sense.  After all he knew that his death and crucifixion lay looming ahead of him.  Luke 22:44.  In Isaiah 53:3 it also says ” He was despised and rejected by men,  a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.  Like one from whom men hid their faces,  he was despised and we esteemed him not”.

6. Loving Friends and Family:  Jesus had a supportive family who helped to raise him in a godly household. He also became very close to the 12 disciples during his life on earth.  He ministered and discipled them so that one day they could spread the gospel message of salvation throughout the biblical world.  However he also experienced the pain of betrayal by one of his friends close to him within this inner circle, namely Judas.

7.  Beauty: In terms of beauty Isaiah 53:2 tells us ” He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,  nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”  From this passage it would suggest that Jesus may not have been an impressive handsome character by the world’s standards.

At the end of his life  the Jewish leaders of the religious order and all the governing authorities  condemned him to death by crucifixion for speaking the gospel truth.  It would seem that he was losing in the eyes of the world and could have been branded as a failure

However through heavens’ eyes he was accomplishing a magnificent and incredible victory in the spiritual realm.  Evangelical Christians all over the world celebrate the ensuing triumph that was ultimately achieved.

Jesus paid the  penalty for the sins of all mankind in the present ,  past and the future.He rose from the dead, since he was sinless and therefore death could not hold him down forever. Through this act, he enabled a full pardon and forgiveness for all our sins, fellowship with Himself , and eternal salvation for our souls .  To top it all off, it gave us  the promise of eternal life in heavenly paradise when we leave this earth. This gift is offered to all people who wish to actively accept Jesus into their hearts and follow him with their lives.  Due to Jesus selfless life and obedience, he was then elevated to the highest place in heaven to sit at the right hand of God. Romans 8:34.

Therefore we can see that although Jesus did not appear to be successful in a worldly sense, he accomplished a huge victory in the spiritual realm which is a win that will last for eternity.

It also goes to show, that sometimes,  things are not always as they seem.

By Adelle Arwen
Gospel Singer Songwriter & Recording Artist
http://www.StrengthInYourStruggles.com/

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Being Heavenly Minded Produces More Earthly Good

April 1, 2008

I have discovered some interesting insights while reading Joni Earekson’s book about Heaven.  She talks about the fact that it is a myth that some people can be “too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good”.  She goes on to say that in actual fact the opposite is true.  For instance here are some results when a Christian begins to realise that their citizenship is in heaven:-

  • They begin acting as a responsible citizen of earth
  • They invest wisely in relationships because they know they’re eternal
  • Their conversations, goals and motives become pure and honest since they realise these will have a bearing on everlasting reward
  • They give generously of time, money and talents because they are laying up treasures for eternity
  • They spread the good news of Christ since they long to fill heaven’s ranks with their friends and neighbours.

Joni, in her book presents a short exercise which helps to illustrate these points.  It goes as follows:-

1.  List three people famous or known to you ,  who are doing good in this world

2.  List three people who appear to be doing evil

Tick the list containing the people who you believe to have the greatest regard for heaven.

Time in Heaven

In our modern age it seems that everyone leads a very busy life.  For some there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get everything done.  In business,  it is often said that “time is money” –  it cannot be replaced or retrieved so it is important not to waste it.  Since our  lives on this earth are finite,  there is also an urgency to achieve goals or succeed by a certain time  before “time runs out” .  Some activities are seen as a “race against time”.

However through reading Joni’s book on heaven,  I realised that we probably won’t have this problem in heaven, because we will have entered God’s Time Zone of “Eternal Life”.  Time will go on forever.  Our  life span will no longer be a set number of years where we feel compelled to accomplish things in a hurry before we die…. because there will be no more death.  

In Philippians 3: 20-21 it says ” we eagerly await a Savior from there (heaven),  the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body”.

It is not stated specifically what our new bodies will look like, however if it is like Jesus’ body we will still have hands arms feet and legs and have substance like Jesus’ resurrected body .  We won’t just be spirit beings floating around because Jesus is not just a spirit but has a physical body.

It could be implied then, that since we will be given the gift of eternal life and hence live forever in our new bodies….  our bodies will no longer deteriorate,  become ill or even age any more. We will be given the gift of eternal youth!   which is what many people often hanker after here on earth.  (No more anti aging creams needed in heaven). 

Because we will be living in the time zone of eternity, time will no longer be our enemy.  God may give us certain jobs or activities to do within a certain time frame but in another sense we will have all the time in the world.  This is so since there will be no more death, decay,  growing old or  death any longer.  Instead we will live with Jesus forever and possess an infinite eternity’s worth of time.  That would be certainly something to look forward to don’t you think?

By Adelle Arwen
Gospel Singer Songwriter & Recording Artist
http://www.StrengthInYourStruggles.com/

Heaven Our Real Home

April 1, 2008

 I have recently started on a Study Guide called ” Heaven Your Real Home”  by Joni Eareckson Tada.  I was given this book a a few years ago when she came to Australia to speak during the Para Olympics.  In one section of the book it discusses the bible passage about the New Jerusalem from the book of Revelation chapter 21.  It contains  one of the verses I love which describes an aspect of heaven :” And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men,  and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,  for the old order of things has passed away’ “.   Revelation 21: 3-4

I have always thought that it would be a true utopia to have a world with no more sorrow crying or pain.   Although the Bible does not specify in exact detail what heaven will be like from these verses it could strongly suggest the following :-

There would be no more sickness, cancer or terminal illnesses and the suffering that can go with these

There will be no more mourning over the death of loved ones through accidents war, sickness,

or bombs

No more murder, rape,  torture,  bloodshed,  child abuse,  work place bullying or suicides

No more divorce separation abandoned children

No more poverty or racism

No more oppression injustice or discrimination

No more struggle disappointment or depression

No more sorrow pain or tears

No more watching the 6 o’clock news and hearing all the bad news that has happened nationally or internationally

No more worrying about putting on weight and eating too much since we will have new heavenly bodies.

Such a world is worth waiting to see and experience don’t you think?

Here are a few more points I have discovered in my Quiet Time readings about what Heaven will be like .   Jesus followers will have:-

New Bodies :  Philippians 3: 20-21  

New Minds:  1 John 3:2  and

New Hearts:  In other words ,  if we have chosen Jesus on this earth, we will be totally renewed in body mind and spirit.  We will be purified and perfected and  also realise our true identity even more so, just as God intended for  us  in the beginning.

Also in Isaiah 65:17 it states that the site and presence of our Lord Jesus in our new heavenly home will be so glorious and brilliant, that there will be no need to recall the former life with it’s positive or negative elements. 

“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered,  nor will they come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create.  Isaiah 65:17.  See also 1 Corinthians 15: 50-58 which describes how through Jesus, his followers, in a flash, will change from being mortal to immortal.

It is good to be thankful for all the blessings God has given to us on this earth ,  including the gift of His Son Jesus to be the Saviour of our souls.  In his love and generosity He also offers us a life of eternal joy with Himself in Heaven, where the best is still yet to come.  This is also a great cause for celebration .

Will you be there to share this with us? ………………. I hope so.  

By Adelle Arwen
Gospel Singer Songwriter & Recording Artist
http://www.strengthinyourstruggles.com/

Bosses and Trade Unions Unite in Peace

April 1, 2008

North & South DVD Review Starring Daniela Denby-Ashe,  Richard Armitage,  Sinead Cusack  and Leslie Manville.  3 Stars

I watched an interesting DVD over the past week called “North & South”. This was formerly a 4 part TV series produced by the BBC. I’m not sure if it is available in the USA.

The story is about a woman called Margaret who is the daughter of an English Pastor. She comes from a fairly middle class traditional upbringing. Suddenly her whole family is uprooted to a more dire part of England in the town of Milton. Milton is the home of working class people who labour in a cotton mill. This occurs during the midst of the industrial revolution.

I found this drama interesting in that it explored in more detail, the relationship between the workers of the mill and their “master” or owner of the mill. At the beginning of the story it depicts the relationship as one of great animosity and distrust, even to the point of violence. This results in an attempt to form a trade union. It is led by one of the more outspoken workers in order to create a united force to barrack for fair wages.

When Margaret’s family appear on the scene, they form relationships with both opposing parties ie the workers and the factory owner. Margaret’s father for instance, begins to tutor John Thornton – the factory owner, in subjects of interest. In so doing, Margaret and her father gradually become acquainted with both sides of the worker/boss relationship.

It was interesting for me, since it helped me to see & even empathize a little more with the business operations from the view of the owner of the factory and see the challenges they face. For instance, the fact that they hold a great deal of responsibility for the livelihoods of so many of their employees, as well as the enormous risks and difficult decisions they must face.  Also it made me realize that if a company does not turn out the same amount of income each year it can become much more difficult  to keep paying workers the same or higher wages or keep the same number of workers employed. 

Even so, it is only through the influence and intervention of this strong woman Margaret, who promotes greater compassion , civil dialogue and personal interest between each of these factions that an atmosphere of peace and co-operation is eventually achieved.

I’m not sure if this story is actually true, however the film maker does try to show how understanding, compassion and a genuine interest in the other party, in the workplace, can possibly be resolved through mediators who try to promote peace instead of hatred and violence.

The film may show an idealistic situation, but I believe there are elements that viewers can indeed learn from and even perhaps apply in everyday life – like trying to see things from another perspective and exercise forgiveness and compassion.

Highly recommended viewing for those who are interested in achieving greater social justice through peaceful and humane means

By Adelle Arwen
Gospel Singer Songwriter & Recording Artist
http://www.strengthinyourstruggles.com/

How to Manage and Prevent Loneliness

April 1, 2008

1. Do not become a passive victim – if you are unhappy do something about it . See each difficult situation as a time of learning and growth.   Read how others have gone through difficult times and learn from them eg. David Helfgott, Corrie Ten Boom, Stephen Hawking – he was totally paralysed and could only move his mouth, Ben Weir – Hostage in -Hostage out.Be thankful you have the use of your mind and body and can take action for yourself

2.      Develop Your Self Esteem: learn to feel comfortable and to like who you are

3.      Develop a few nourishing relationships – where you can be yourself.   Not just one person can meet all your needs. 

4.      Keep Busy with a Life Enhancing Activity – use your talents and potential . Be creative. Be a tourist in your own town.

5.      Music & Poetry – Try listening to Beethoven or other classical composers or read poetry to expand your thinking. Create images of inspiration, expansion , how we see God. Don’t put life or God in a box. Don’t feel locked into your life situation. Be expansive into how you look at life.  

6.      Use Spirituality to Console You – eg. Develop your faith in God

7.      Don’t Allow Loneliness to Paralyse You – plan and create activities to get you out of it. Don’t let it prevent you from doing what you want to do.

8.      You need a Community : of people around you to alleviate your loneliness, not just one sustained relationship. Worship with God’s people.

9.      Refine what you want and don’t want in life : learn from life’s experiences

10. Have a Sure Sense of Self – because when we get lonely it is tempting to look for other people for our identity

11. Accept Yourself – for who you are for all your beauty and quirks. There can be positive voices that we hear in solitude but they can grow faint when entering the real world.   Eg. Book called “The Boy & His Horse”   – it was only when the boy became alone that he met Aslan – the Christ-like figure who had been waiting for him.

12. Help Others Who are Less Fortunate – in some way

13. Learn Contentment – Philippians 4: 10-13. Ask God to help you depend on Him each day.

By Adelle Arwen
Gospel Singer Songwriter & Recording Artist
http://www.strengthinyourstruggles.com/

How to Fill Your Spiritual Void

April 1, 2008

Most of us like to enjoy the things of this earth like having stylish clothes,  a comfortable spacious home,  nice car,  great wealth,  supportive friends ,loving relationships ,  exciting travel experiences,  or a promising career path.  These are some of the goals that most people may  aim for in their lives.  There is nothing wrong with these things.

As we strive to achieve these goals, we may believe that once we have acquired them, we will be ultimately satisfied in the long term. However many individuals discover when they finally realise these goals that their  still is a feeling of emptiness in the core of their being.

In a short documentary about a famous band, the lead singer (who shall remain nameless), expressed the fact that when he finally achieved success in terms of millions of records sold world wide and ultimate fame,  there was still an emptiness inside him.  This forced him to ask himself  – “why do I still not feel happy even at this high point in my career? What am I missing in my life ?  What is it that I still need”.

I had a friend (who has now passed away) who once shared with me some experiences in her younger years.  She had been a highly attractive woman who was like the “rose” of high society.  Sought after by many suitors she admitted that she had never had her heart broken but fortunately always had the upper hand when it came to men.  Naturally she would be invited to all the grand parties and played hostess to many of her own.   However when these were all over and everyone went home, she admitted to a feeling of  emptiness in her soul and thought to  herself   “is this all there is to life?  Surely there is something more?”

In one of my songs called “It’s Christmas” there is a line which says ….”there’s a void we all have in our souls that only one can fill”.  I would like to suggest that this feeling of emptiness that these two people felt, is the longing for spiritual fulfilment which is present in every human being .  We all long for something deeper than just surface satisfaction provided by the material things of this world.  Our longing is to be re-united with our Creator – to restore our relationship with God so we can experience the innocence of the Garden of Eden .  This can only be achieved through Jesus Christ and his saving work of the cross.   Through his death on the cross He is able to forgive and wipe away our sins so that we can have a direct relationship with our Maker once again.   What we must do, is to ask God for the faith to believe, ask Jesus’ Holy Spirit to fill  the empty place in our souls, and from then on, commit our lives to following Him.  It is only though this commitment that we can experience the peace,  cleansing and innocence once again for the rest of our lives. 

Fortunately for my friend she eventually found Jesus later in her life to fill the empty void within her soul. Jesus is like the missing link in our lives that we are searching for.  Some may think that relationships,  wealth or earthly pleasures will ultimately satisfy us.  However the truth is, that only a knowledge and relationship with  Jesus can give us lasting inner spiritual peace and fulfilment that we need.  Through Jesus we can also become part of the family of God which includes all of his true followers here on earth.  We are like another pearl added to a beautiful pearl necklace, where Jesus is the strong clasp that holds us together to renders us wearable to fulfil it’s purpose .

Finding Jesus  is also like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  The ironic thing is that when we experience the unconditional love and saving work of Jesus in a real way,  the blessings on this earth become more enjoyable.  The reason for this, is that we now realise who is responsible for giving us all good gifts on this earth, whether they  be material possessions or the beauty of nature , and therefore can now marvel  rejoice and praise God for  His creation and the different ways he provides for us.

Knowing Jesus can enrich our lives in a greater way.  Have you found your missing link yet?

By Adelle Arwen
Gospel Singer Songwriter & Recording Artist
http://www.strengthinyourstruggles.com/

How to Show Love More Effectively

April 1, 2008

If you would like to find out how to be more loving to the other people in your life, try reading the book “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman.  It explains how each person feels loved in different ways.  For instance individuals may receive and feel love more in the form :-

1.  Words of Affirmation – specific words of praise and appreciation.

2.  Quality Time – spending quality time with the person

3.  Giving of Gifts  – like giving flowers for no reason

4.  Acts of Service –  like washing the dishes or mowing the lawn for someone   or

5.  Physical Touch  –  like hugs and kisses.

It can also be a combination of a few of these items. 

Which love language do you prefer?

NB.  This book is available at most Christian bookstores

        

By Adelle Arwen
Gospel Singer Songwriter & Recording Artist
http://www.strengthinyourstruggles.com/

How Gideon Overcame His Fear and Inadequacy

April 1, 2008

A few weeks ago I was very encouraged to read the story about Gideon in the Bible from the book of Judges 6:1-32.  At the beginning of the story , Gideon had such a low opinion of himself that when God first called him to help defeat the Midianites,  he didn’t really believe it was really God speaking to him .  Hence he felt compelled to lay out a fleece to see if it would become wet while the surrounding ground would remain dry.  Even when God made this happen as a sign for Gideon ,  he was still not fully convinced that it was God speaking .  Hence Gideon felt the need to lay the fleece out a second time just to be sure.When Gideon obeyed God’s first instruction to tear down the altar to Baal and replace it with a proper altar to The Lord, he was still filled with fear.  This was shown when Gideon chose to fulfill God’s instruction at night, so no one would see him.   However as Gideon took action and obeyed God step by step,   God gradually changed him to become a confident and courageous leader filled with His strength.  This is evident in 7: 17 – 18 where Gideon commands his small army ” Watch me… Follow my lead.  When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout ‘For the Lord and for Gideon “. 

The result was that Gideon and his army experienced an amazing supernatural victory. When the Midianites suddenly heard the loud crashing of pots and glass by the Israelite troops, God’s spirit caused them to turn against each other.  As a result Gideon’s army didn’t even have to fight the enemy in the usual way.

Hence Gideon was commended for his obedience and faith in the Lord, and is later mentioned in the ” Hall of Faith”  in the book of Hebrews 11:32 from the New Testament.   This account can be a great encouragement to us,  especially when we may feel fearful and inadequate for the task God calls us to do.  If we choose to trust and obey Him,  he will fill us with his strength and power to experience His victory.


By Adelle Arwen
Gospel Singer Songwriter & Recording Artist
http://www.strengthinyourstruggles.com/