And Forget Not His Benefits

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. — Psalm 103 (NKJV)

There’s a Sunday School song that goes (apologies for the cheese) …

Being a Christian can be hard. It involves doing the right thing even when you don’t feel like it or when everyone else isn’t. You can wish you didn’t know any better when facing tough situations.

Galations 6 talks about “not growing weary in doing good”

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. — Galations 6:7-9 (NKJV)

Focusing on the obligations of being a Christian can distract from the amazing benefits that are yours to remember and take advantage of.

  • Forgiveness — Who forgives all your iniquities,
  • Healing — Who heals all your diseases,
  • Salvation — Who redeems your life from destruction,
  • Mercy — Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
  • Satisfaction — Who satisfies your mouth with good things,

When life starts to grind — don’t forget His benefits, remind yourself…

You are a C, you are a C-H, you are a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N
You have C-H-R-I-S-T in your H-E-A-R-T and you will L-I-V-E E-T-E-R-N-A-L-L-Y

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You may have been raised charismatic if…

Made me laugh – I could actually tick off quite a few.

  • you would say a quick prayer asking for the forgiveness of as many sins as you can remember when the traveling prophet would start walking around in the congregation.
  • you know what the initial evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit is.
  • you feel uncomfortable in churches where people don’t raise their hands.
  • you liked Hillsong before they were cool.
  • your church was worried about Y2K.
  • you’ve question the salvation of your Catholic friends.
  • you’ve ‘laid’ things at the altar, but never physically left anything there.
  • you’ve worried you’ve missed the rapture on more than one occasion when you can’t get a hold of your Christian family members.
  • your church’s altar ministry team included “catchers.”
  • your pastor would shout and sweat when he preached.
  • your church had a ‘blanket’ ministry.
  • your Christmas services were like a Broadway show.
  • you took a water bottle with you to church.
  • Kleenex boxes lined the front altar of your church.
  • the phrase “IshouldaboughtaHondabutIboughtaNissan” makes you laugh and makes you feel guilty at the same time.
  • when someone shouted “FIRE!” in your church it didn’t cause alarm.
  • you’ve been drunk…in the Spirit.
  • you would keep your eyes open during a response time to see if people were really raising their hands all across the room.

Read More — Tim Schraeder

Thomas

When I first started school my teacher introduced me to Thomas, a Year 6 kid who was going to be my buddy. Thomas showed me round the playground, he use to have lunch with me. I remember Thomas telling me how cool it was that I was missing a tooth because I could drink through a straw with my teeth clenched. Once I got hit in the head with a baseball bat, he offered a lolly and sorted me out. Thomas looked out of me all through my first year of school.

So the next year on my second first day of school, I excitedly looked around the playground for my buddy – but I couldn’t find him. Another kid let me know that Thomas had been in Year 6 and had to go to high school now (my school had only been for primary). He didn’t go to our school anymore.

I remember welling up with tears. I had no idea that I would never see my buddy again and didn’t even get to say goodbye. Who would look out for me in the playground? Thomas had left me.

The book of Joshua tells the story of the Israelites entering the Promised Land after the death of Moses. Moses had led the Israelites out of Egypt and through the wilderness but now he was gone. It’s interesting to read what God says to Joshua.

After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them-to the Israelites… No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. – Joshua 1:1-2,5 (NIV)

There are times in life when we can feel like we are on our own. Thomas left me after my first year of school, who knows where he is now? But God promises He will never leave me nor forsake me.

Camp Lessons

I recently had the opportunity to assist with holiday camps run by Wesley Mission at their Vision Valley site during the autumn school holidays. Although one of the most exhausting weeks I have ever dragged myself through – it really challenged my perspective in a lot of ways.

There’s something about being in a completely different environment, with unfamiliar people, and a new set of responsibilities that challenges who you consider yourself to be. Often I can identify myself by the things that I do, but take all that away and who are you?

The leaders (who I now have the most utmost of respect for) unwittingly set a new standard for the way I approach areas of my life.

Unity

While it appears obvious that a unified group of leaders is inherently valuable – the reality of being able to establish such a team is rarely an easy thing. Unfortunately people are flawed, value themselves by title or responsibility (including myself), but the unity demonstrated on camp throughout activities, discussions, games, etc. made me realise that I can be more concerned with a better way of doing things, then being on board with someone else.

Prayer

Perhaps number one was the result of number two but I became a Christian at an early age and have grown up with the concept of prayer. But there is “knowing that you should spend time in prayer”, and then there is “knowing the privilege and value of prayer”. In a situation where at some ridiculous hour of the night you have just managed to get campers to stay in their rooms, and delirium sets in with the leaders, prayer is not the first thing that jumps to my mind. But spending that hour with other leaders past midnight, to thank God or make requests, reminded me of the grace we’ve been given to communicate with Him, but more than that, the way God allows us to affect situations through prayer.

Loving Kids

Having grown up in youth groups, I’m not a stranger to being involved with youngsters. It’s easy to take an interest and be involved with kids who you genuinely get along with, but the ones that are challenging, don’t fit in or have special needs are where your real motivations can make their appearance. The reality of a 24 x 5 camp is that at some point, if you’re motivated by anything other than love, it’s going to become apparent. What encouraged me was the genuine love that other leaders had for those that they were looking after and made me consider if my motivations are always the same.

Being Authentic

Being who you are, in all circumstances – I guess another way of describing it is being a person of integrity. If you are a Christian then the bible is something that is important to you, not just something you know you should read from time to time because that’s the thing to do. Geoff, who spoke on the camp, was so authentic in his approach to sharing that it challenged me for my own opportunities, am I authentic in saying “this is the truth”, or do I instead say “this is what you want to hear” or “this is what I’ve been told is the truth”?

If you’ve ever considered helping out with a holiday camp, or would like to donate to Wesley Mission’s Operation Hope, check out the Vision Valley website. On top of just being a great fun time – it was a pivotal experience and encouraged me to take stock of who I am, not just what I do.

Good Intentions

“The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.” – C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

I’ve had the intention to start a blog for a while now but found myself waiting for the perfect time to begin. The problem is the perfect time never comes and a continual sense of “I really should get to that” takes it’s place. Days fly by and every morning I think of things I’d like to record or share. With each day those thoughts don’t get captured the idea of starting a blog quickly changes from something that would be useful, to an unnecessary overhead and anxiety.

Someone once told me that the best way to keep a blog is not to wait until you have time to write or something particular to say, but to incorporate the writing into your routine. Make it simply an activity that you do, like brushing your teeth.

So there we have it, a first post, and I feel better for it.