Day 15… Life Groups

You have heard it before and you will hear it again, Life groups are incredible! While Sunday Church Services and one on one mentoring are brilliant for growth, teaching and encountering God, a life group encourages you to get to the nitty gritty of  your faith, ask questions, love people, reach people and be held accountable all while encountering God with a lot of fun.

Today’s Prayer Focus for our month of Prayer and Fasting is Life Groups. We are praying and believing that God will double the number of Life Groups in 2012. If it were up to me, once you are born each and every person would be in a life group until their last breath on this earth, because they are just that good! Life Groups are “turning a love concept into a reality…”

What is different about Living Temple Life Groups?

Its not just a bible study. Studying the bible is fantastic, but unless you are understanding, believing and applying it, you are really wasting your time. Life Groups has the facilitation factor where we learn, share and challenge together, and then keep each other accountable for what we have learned.

Its an encounter. While its good to challenge each other about our faith, and encourage each other in life, if we dont encounter God then the rest is out of perspective and eventually will disappoint. There are many ways to encounter God and meet Him in worship, and while singing and such is great, life groups allow other expressions of worship to God.

Its not just a social group. While there is so much fun and raw honesty emotions and love to be experienced in a life group, it is a group with a purpose… we are growing together, and we are reaching out to help others do the same.

Its not exclusive. Its an arkward moment when you spend time with a group, clearly not ‘part of the group.’ And those experiences should not happen in Living Temple Life Groups because of the Reaching Out factor. If someone else gets to be a part of the love, and joy you experience in your group, you celebrate! And Living Temple Crew are the best Ive ever met at celebrating the growth, success and joy of others!

There is so much God will do when we allow Him, so as we lift up our groups, their leaders, their members and their loved ones in prayer, be blessed by what God can do in your life today.

Fathers Day

As I determine to raise my children in the “ways of the Lord,” I often seek out advice from wonderful parents about lessons they have learned (so I can do it the easy way). I also like to ask kids about their upbringing too, to see what impacts them the most as they are affected by the choices of their parents. I have been blessed to have been raised in a Christian home, and as Father’s Day approaches I remember some valuable lessons my parents lived out that changed my life for the better…

  1. God comes first always, for everyone. I saw a faith in God each and every day in the lives of my parents. A bible was always on the kitchen table and my parents were both actively involved in the church. This faith in Jesus was a reliable solid foundation to our family which gave me a lot of stability going into life.
  2. Love was not performance based. I was told constantly that no matter how I performed that it was more important that I tried wholeheartedly, and enjoyed it. This helped give me freedom to try and fail or try without fear and succeed.
  3. Dad provided so mum could minister at home. My dad pulled some long hard hours over the years and that was so that we could have a mum around. Unlike many other kids we had a Mum would welcome us home from school, teach us to bake, who could come to our sports days, drive us to after-school activities and be in our lives. We weren’t always financially flourishing, but the price was worth it. Mum was not idle with her time at home either, from being on the PTA to teaching Religion, helping at Sunday school, to helping kids read, I don’t know how she had the energy with 4 kids (and kept a clean house!)
  4. For quite a while we had a weekly “memory verse” which we got a bag of lollies for memorising. (As we rarely got junk food this was a real treat). It was fun for us to learn the verses and know whole sections of the bible, but then to also get rewarded for it was awesome. It helped develop in me a real love for the word of God.
  5. My parents were always really honest with how they were feeling and what they believed, and it wasn’t used to manipulate or be harsh, but to teach and guide. I remember mum asking me one day with genuine love and concern “when you die one day and get to the gates of heaven and someone asks you why you should enter, please know and say that it is only by Jesus dying on the cross.”  It hit me, and God really impressed it on my heart. Another time we had to draw a picture for school about what Easter means to you and I drew chocolate galore. After seeing it mum sat me down and with concern (but without condemnation) asked why I hadn’t drawn Jesus. This question plagued me and helped me receive teaching from the Holy Spirit to understand how Easter is all about Jesus, how everything is all about Him and nothing can come before Him. On a non-spiritual level my parents would not burden us with financial worries but would let us know that we need to be good stewards with our money, because “it doesn’t grow on trees” after all.
  6. We were healthy. Healthy meals, active lifestyle. I didn’t always appreciate my steak and veg but taking whole days to ride to the Library (which was ages away) or go swimming at a creek are memories that stick with me. I don’t know if it was just because we had one car, but we seemed to walk, run or ride everywhere and we played sport at home and in clubs every afternoon and weekend. It’s not very spiritual but our TV time was limited (and we had awful internet access) which meant we developed as people- we read, we played games, we went out and about and lived- I appreciate this decision by my parents as it meant we weren’t as influenced by media as other kids, and we grew healthy and with strong imaginations.
  7. Education was important. The only computer games we played were educational, our punishment was writing out sheets of words, if our teachers weren’t thorough enough mum didn’t complain, she taught us herself. It was only just recently I learned that my mum actually doesn’t really enjoy reading herself, but she gave us every opportunity to learn to love reading anyway, which has been a real blessing in my life.
  8. Church was something that was non-negotiable but was flexible. If there was an important swimming meet I would go to that, but with less important ones I would miss Sunday morning because going to church was priority. Mum told me the story once of an elite athlete who wouldn’t compete on Sundays and God prospered Him for it and it helped me put sport in perspective. As I was older and rebelled against going to church with my parents, they allowed me to go to another church of my choice which I loved.
  9. My parents were both Sunday school teachers at different stages and did a great job at bringing the word of God to life and getting us involved. I loved getting involved in helping teach classes (especially when it meant I could be dressed up as a beaten Samaritan or dead Lazarus coming to life!).
  10. My Parents were not afraid to say no. Although sometimes it may have been better had they said yes, there was a lot of good to come from their ability to stand up for what was right- even if it meant that we would be broken hearted and angry.

So as Fathers Day approaches I thank God for my parents, and the gift they are to me. I pray for my own family as we navigate the parenthood path, and I pray for families who are missing a Father, either physically or spiritually. I pray that they will receive what they need from God Himself this Sunday- He is a perfect Father, praise Him! J

My Diabetic Blessing

post-diabetic-blessing

One of the biggest blessings in my life was being diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Although I would never chose it or wish it upon anyone it was one of the biggest learning curves of my life.  I wouldn’t have claimed to be an athlete or a poster-girl of a picture of health, but I had in my mind that I ate what was reasonable, and I didn’t sit on my rear end all day, so must be relatively ok health wise. Yet when I had to describe to the dietician my daily food consumption and also admit I did no exercise outside of playing with my son, it started to become embarrassing.

As bad as that was however it was worse when my diet education began… did I know that most cereals are more like confectionary than food? No. Did I know that white bread is jam packed with sugars and preservatives? No. Did I realise that the whopper meal I ate on my way to the endocrinologist was not good for my system… well, yes I had a pretty good idea on that one, (but went for it anyway). The biggest shock was not that I was eating unhealthy food (of which I had plenty), but much of the food I thought was good for me, was actually not.

Due to our sinful nature and sinful surroundings we are so often unaware of what is good for us and what is bad, both physically but also spiritually. How often we think we are making the right decision, and then later realise it was actually the wrong one and harmful to our health. Thanks to God that he has provided us with truth in His word (the bible) that it may guide our understanding.  2 Timothy 3:16 says “all scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so we may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” By reading God’s word we can see areas in our lives which are unhealthy, and we can make decisions based on the truth, so the importance of reading and applying this word regularly cannot be overstated.

Having the extra motivation of being pregnant I was bent on following every ‘diabetes rule’ to the maximum, and the difference was everything. I changed my diet and exercised and I felt INCREDIBLE. I slept better, I thought clearer, I had more energy, I was happier and I had no extra weight to lose once I gave birth. I was so grateful for God allowing me to experience this ailment to guide me to put some wrongs right for the good of my future, and the good of my family’s health. I want to have the same attitude going into my spiritual life- I want read the word and find out where I have been led down the garden path, and I want to make it right. I want to be taught, rebuked, corrected and I want to train in righteousness so I can not only stand in the health of that righteousness, but run, jump and flourish in it to the glory of God.  Reading the word of God is so much more than just entertaining, it is life-changing truth, opening the door to a fulfilling life.

When was the last time you read your bible and allowed it to confront you with its truth?

My dirty flyscreens

“That’s so disgusting!” I couldn’t believe my eyes as I wiped the black soot off the flyscreens over my windows. It was no wonder I had been coughing and sneezing so badly lately- all that dust was flying into my house (and lungs)! Usually a reasonably clean person, I was surprised at how this problem had crept up on me to the point it was causing problems to my health.

Perhaps you have heard it before “when did I put on all this weight?” “I am really overdue for a haircut” “How can that be due already” “I cant believe I’ve been on the computer so long!” You may not have been doing something wrong, but the failure to do something right has caused you problems. I didn’t put dust on my flyscreens, but my failure to clean them regularly meant that I was getting sick.

The same is true of our spiritual life, it’s not always the astounding sins that do us the most harm, it can sometimes be the failure to practice spiritual disciplines that clean our hearts on a daily basis. Disciplines such as quality time with God in prayer and worship, reading the bible, meeting with other believers, and serving others in love draw us closer to God and reveal to us the “dust” we need to clean out before it collects and does us harm.

What “good” are you neglecting that could be causing you harm today?

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” Galatians 6:9

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