To Mask or Not to Mask.

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956.

Nothing has caused more division as far as I know, than the age of Covid19. The debate goes beyond the left/right dichotomy, aligning people from all walks of life who otherwise would have nothing in common. The point of difference and unity is the mask, a literal representation of all that is wrong with today. It seems a tiny thing in light of the bigger issues, though unfortunately, it holds deeper implications and as such, has arguably become 21st century’s most divisive issue, even causing rifts in the Christian community.

Fall outs, arguments, and literal fights are breaking out everywhere, on the ground and on-line. The problem is, deep down we know it’s all one big fat lie, whichever camp you find yourself, whether Christian or not, we all know we are being lied to. Some of us either haven’t accepted it yet, or have much to gain from the lies. These are confusing and scary times, but take heart and remember, God’s word hosts a wealth of wisdom and has proven to be a source of strength.

‬‬We can hardly blame those who fell for the narrative, after all, mainstream media and the corporate oligarchs can sound quite convincing blasting repeatedly from zombie boxes. This is otherwise known as a type of brainwashing. God’s word says, they shall be sent a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie (2 Thess‬ ‭2:11-12‬ ‭KJV). It beggars belief that anyone would intentionally support an obvious lie, yet here we are with so many masking up complicit in that lie, so convinced that a mask will save them from dying.

Death is a part of life and living means eventually dying. Human beings are a resilient folk, having survived multiple plagues throughout history. We are still here. Let the evolutionary process do its job, stop partaking in the lie and pacifying people’s fears by wearing a mask. Embrace faith over fear. If we, being children of the Most High are the light of the world, perhaps it is time to lose the masks, proclaim the freedom we have in Christ, and encourage others not to live in fear, “for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Eph‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭KJV).

Whilst masking off is not the same as proselytising in the frontline on the Gaza strip, it can be almost as scary. People actually pray before going out mask off.‬‬ Sure it might take time for others to draw those conclusions but allow God to work through you. Let His word go out freely, in love, boldly, let your countenance shine as the light in this dark and fearful world. God says to fear not, ‘”peace I leave you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27, KJV). The world can promise you peace if you do everything their way, but it is not God’s peace that surpasses all understanding.

For those who mask off daily enduring the bitter looks, the grumbling behind masks, the verbal abuse and the passive aggressive stalking, and intimidation tactics, continue smiling. We know death comes to us all and it may not come through the virus, but we also know masks will not protect us when our time is up. Those who don that mask daily do not know better, let’s show them there is nothing to fear by smiling at death. And if they happen to ask you where your mask is, maybe tell them where your faith is instead.

“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?””
‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭15:55‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Are you found in Christ?

Besides being locked up in Communist State Victoriastan, we have also recently endured extremely low temperatures, severe biting winds and falling debris everywhere. The state is a literal, spiritual, and economic mess!

So this morning when I received a text re: a power outage at the kids’ school, deeply suppressed feelings of fear and panic floated to the surface. My mind leapt forward to apocalyptic end time movies wherein people are storming their local grocery stores, raiding them for supplies, and I saw myself without power, heat or any form of communication, looking very small, and feeling truly vulnerable.

In that same moment, a text came in from my pastor re: tonight’s Bible Study. Naturally, I shared my fears and proceeded to interrogate him as to whether the Church had a plan for a time where there will be fuel shortages and power outages, making it impossible for us to fellowship. I don’t know any people of faith neighboring me, my church is all over the world. I suggested it might be worth investing in bikes as another means of travel for when that time ever arrived. “We need a plan!” I messaged desperately.

This was sent in response.
1 John 5:4 “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith.” Amazing how God’s word is always a calming voice, alleviating all fears.

At the end of everything, all we have is our Faith and Jesus or faith in Christ. Are you in the faith?
Praise and worship in times of angst and fear, allow God to take you to that higher place and FEAR NOT.

He is coming soon. Maranatha.

Our Story.

“…..Preach good tidings to the poor;
to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lordthat He may be glorified.”
And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.” (Isa 61:2-4)
Formerly a home-schooling family of nine, on a single income and a tight budget, we learned to value everything, rarely threw anything out, and always tried to look for creative ways to recycle. We would practice textiles and design using old clothes, moderately worn out linen or marked down fabric purchased from op-shops.
Building on the philosophy which underpinned the quilting industry, our family business was born. Beauty for Ashes has been 20 years in the making but we now intentionally rescue, restore, and re-purpose fabric into reversible, washable, funky bags.
Having recently survived a critical life event, our desire is to pay forward our blessings to others who may be or are going through similar situations. As with our philosophy on unwanted fabric, we believe there is no life too far gone or beyond reach. Every life is valuable and with the right tools and support, restoration and transformation is possible.
When you purchase the Beauty for Ashes bags, you are in the business of restoring, empowering and re-purposing lives. No two bags are alike and are as unique as each individual’s fingerprint. Made at home, with love, by a loving Australian family.

This Momentary Marriage. A Parable of Permanence. By John Piper.

This Momentary Marriage. A parable of permanence.

By John Piper.

Jesus draws three conclusions in Mark 10:8–9. He says (1) in verse 8, “So they are no longer two but one flesh.” In other words, since God said in Genesis 2:24, “They shall become one flesh,” therefore Jesus concludes for his day and ours: “So they are [now] no longer two but one flesh.” Marriage is that kind of union—very profound, just as Christ and the church are one body (Rom. 12:5).

Then (2) the second conclusion Jesus draws is that this union of one flesh is the creation—the work—of God, not man. He says in verse 9, “What therefore God has joined together . . .” So even though two humans decide to get married, and a human pastor or priest or justice of the peace or some other person solemnizes and legalizes the union, all of that is secondary to the main actor, namely, God. “What God has joined together . . .” God is the main actor in the event of marriage.

Then (3) Jesus draws the conclusion at the end of verse 9: “Let not man separate.” The word translated “man” here (“Let not man separate”) is not the word for male over against female, but the word for human over against divine. The contrast is: “If God joined the man and woman in marriage, then mere humans have no right to separate what he joined.” That’s Jesus’ third conclusion from Genesis 1–2. Since God created this sacred union with this sacred purpose to display the unbreakable firmness of his covenant love for his people, it simply does not lie within man’s rights to destroy what God created.

Jesus did not come simply to affirm the Mosaic law. He came to fulfill it in his own consuming, forgiving, justifying obedience and death, and then to take his ransomed and forgiven and justified followers into the higher standards that were really intended when all of Moses is properly understood.

Empty promises.

In the silence of harsh words unspoken
The air grows thick with empty noise,
Frozen smiles tell a lie, as little ones giggle on cue,

A house full of stuff that will never make a home,
Collecting dust and resentment.

A melancholic kind of joy breaks my heart, while it aches for a time gone by and one that may still be,

Caught between the past and the future, there’s no time for the present,

Meanwhile, the play goes on.

A pound of flesh.

A pound of flesh.

The pound of flesh, which I demand of him,
Is dearly bought; ’tis mine, and I will have it:
If you deny me, fie upon your law!
There is no force in the decrees of Venice:
I stand for judgment: answer, shall I have it? (Act 4, Scene 1. Merchant of Venice)

The courtroom scene in The Merchant of Venice gives a compelling account of the human condition as it highlights the hypocrisies of religion and the law. Although Shylock seems to be getting a fair trial, he’s already condemned, as the court makes a mockery of words like mercy and justice. Shakespeare’s courtroom scene vividly paints a picture of man’s pride, life’s injustices and the consequences of being unable to forgive.

Obviously, Shylock endured much persecution, pain and degradation at the hands of Antonio and the Christian Venetians and undoubtedly, we are able to empathise with his hurt and desire for justice and revenge. We see in Shylock a picture of a man who has been hard done by for much of his life. Despised by men and even by his own daughter, he’s marred with bitterness, pride and vengeance. Justifiable though he may be, he’s not entirely innocent.

As much as it’s possible to understand Shylock, we are torn between seeing him get his pound of flesh and waiting with bated breath for him to show some semblance of mercy. We want him to rise above his circumstances, forgive the Venetians and accept the offer from Antonio. We plead for him to prove himself better before the court and the audience, to extend the virtues of forgiveness, humility, kindness and mercy.

We often see this scene played out daily in our own lives. We’ve all seen people unable to forgive, hardened by anger and vengeance. Bitterness, pride and hatred are like scars on their faces. I’ve seen it in my children when they fight, in my family and amongst friends. We all want our day in court, revenge…. a pound of flesh. Alas! The reality is, life simply is not fair. The courts get it wrong many times; people make mistakes and accidents happen. I almost killed a boy today, or at least very nearly seriously injured him. Thank God, I was driving less than the speed required. Had I been going just 5km faster, instead of him bumping me, it could’ve been me running him down and over. I couldn’t even imagine what it would feel like to live with the guilt of taking someone’s life, let alone a child’s life. How could his family ever forgive me? How would I forgive myself? There are people who live with that kind of guilt for much of their lives. Forgiveness frees us of such unproductive and destructive emotions.

We have all been hurt and we have all at some point, caused pain in others. The fact is, no one is better than the other, there is no one innocent before God. Just like the Venetians who backed Shylock into a corner and Shylock who lashed out from his corner wielding a knife. We are all just a bunch of filthy, rotten sinners in need of a Savior. A Savior who will whisper, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” “Love your enemies and pray for those who use you and persecute you.” Liberating advice, loving advice, gracious, humble, life-giving advice.

Eventually, we see Shylock’s relentless pursuit of justice and revenge come to a bitter end. He is brought to an excruciatingly painful low, forced into submission and humiliated in the presence of his enemies. We walk away from this scene with genuine sorrow in our hearts for the man. But we walk away knowing that the day will soon come when we all shall see justice. A day when we all stand before the true judge to give an account for every word spoken and every dirty deed done in darkness. Until that day comes, do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Matthew 5:44 (NKJV)
Luke 23:34 (NKJV)