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JUST AN OLD STOVE. Raylene Pearce, guest writer

 

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Once I thought I was an old stove.

You know the kind you see on the back veranda of old houses.  There they stand, gathering cobwebs, rust and the neighbour’s displeasure.

I remember just such a stove at a house on the main road into Coromandel Valley.  As I drove past, I would quickly look to the left, and there it was for all to see – an old stove, plunked beside an old sofa with the stuffing falling out.

I used to think, ‘Yes, there you are, just like me. I bet there’s a new model where you once were. A shiny, clean, sparkling stove, probably fan-forced and…self-cleaning!’

This happened twenty-six years ago, at the time I was traded in for a new model wife.  I truly thought I was like that old stove.

But I want to bear testimony to the One who is my Redeemer – Jesus.  He rescues and reconditions old stoves.  Not only that, but he restores them so completely that the inside is as sparkling clean as a brand-new model straight from the warehouse.

All he wants from us is a repentant heart and a willingness to be changed into something new, something the Father can use for his glory. God never wastes anything.  Nothing from the past is beyond restoration.

God cannot change the past, but he can change the way we respond to the past – now!  We are not victims!  We are Overcomers! How are we Overcomers?  How do we overcome those things that torment us, that rise up and make us remember the dark things?

Three thousand years ago a young man called David sang a song and it’s recorded in Samuel 2 and I want to look at the opening verses.  ‘The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer.’ I’d like to replace the four-letter word ‘rock’ with another four-letter word – ‘love’. ‘The Lord is my love, my place of safety and restoration.’  Because God is love, he brings us into his embrace and restores all the old stoves and all the young stoves whose shiny surfaces can be so easily scratched.

And who is this God of love, this loving ‘Rock’?

THE GOD WHO IS LOVE. GOD DOES NOT HAVE LOVE, OR MAKE LOVE, OR DO LOVE LIKE A HOBBY – HE IS LOVE AND ACTS OUT HIS LOVE WITHIN HIS VERY BEING – BEING GOD.

I want to paint you a picture of perfect love. There never was a time when the Father was not the Father and there never was a time that the Son was not the Son. There was never a time when the Father did not love the Son and there was never a time when the Son did not love the Father. The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is equally placed in that love relationship of the three in One: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all in the community of love. There is a continual dance of love between them. The whole reason for their being is to love.

What is absolutely wonderful about all this is that the Triune God – that is, the Holy Trinity – has chosen to include us all in this wonderful overflowing love relationship. So as we believe in Him we are taken up into this embrace.

That’s what being a Christian means, being in relationship with God the Father, with Christ the Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Perfect love.

Raylene Pearce is a woman with a thousand stories.  This story is just one of those many stories that she loves to share.

Before the world came to be, the God of love had already set up the plan, the great rescue plan that would include every person.

Two thousand years ago on a rock outside the city of Jerusalem, in the rubbish dump, no less, a young man of thirty-three years hung on a cross and took into himself all that separates us from God and separates us from living a totally fulfilling life in Jesus – now!

What happened on the cross, releases us from being tied to the dreadfulness of past things.

Jesus has taken into himself all the sin and suffering; all the abuse and loneliness, all the grief and sorrow.  All that has hurt each one of us, all that has broken us and our families, all that continues to hurt us and keeps us from living the abundant life. All this Jesus has taken away.

Like a sponge he soaked up all the sin for all time, for all people, and declared it defeated, ‘It is finished,’ the young man cried out in triumph.  He had completed the work he had been sent to do: to defeat the works of the evil one, who tries to have control of our lives. His completed work releases us all from the tyranny of the past, the present and the future.

Something else he does, once we have committed to his loving hand, He remodels us.

It means that all old stoves can be restored and remodelled and that all young stoves can find the only safe place to grow in.

PRAYER

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Let me close with the prayer of St Paul to the Ephesians: 3:20 … ‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’

Raylene Pearce, Coromandel Valley, S.A.

 

 

 

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AN ALCOHOLIC DAZE By Dave Oakley. Guest Writer

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SO MUCH FUN

It is fun to experiment when we are young. We feel adult, in control of our life. We feel we can take on the world, life seems so exciting.

The taste of alcohol and the euphoria it brings is very fun and pleasurable and so we indulge and an addiction is born. The addiction grows until we are its servant, trapped, our life is down the gurgler.

The same goes for addiction to drugs.  First the experiment, then enjoyment, then continuing the enjoyment, then the trap is sprung and addiction has us in its grip.

How to break the power of addiction?

David Oakley found the way.  The way is Jesus, Jesus is the addiction defeater.

ADDICTION

‘You’re a drunk, mate, an alcoholic, ‘Kevin said, one of two guys in Perth, with whom I shared a room. He was right, of course. My life was out of control with drinking, I was living to drink and drinking to live.  Alcohol told me where to go, what to do and who to mix with. Initially promising heaven drink had instead led me to the gates of a living hell.

Kevin’s voice and words held no weight nor had the power to break through the alcoholic daze I found myself in.  God’s voice and words could and did.

OLD HABITS DIE HARD
It was a year later. I’d just spent three weeks in a Mental Health Facility in Melbourne after hallucinating on a Pioneer Coach coming south from Brisbane. I now felt good.  Three weeks dry, full of good food and counsel.  I felt like things were looking up for the first time in years.

I decided to carry on to Adelaide and control the drinking.  Maybe even look up my first wife who had left me three years earlier after just nine months of marriage.  I found a room in Kent Town and a job in a foundry and started afresh. Old habits die hard.

P1140511-001.JPG I was soon drinking more and more, before work, during work, straight to the pub after work, Saturdays and Sundays.  The inevitable happened. A Saturday, Sunday session flowed through to Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  I came to myself looking into the mirror behind the front bar of the Botanic Hotel, here in Adelaide. I think it was a Thursday.

I was a mess, my hair was dirty and uncombed, my eyes were wild, staring and bloodshot, my skin was a pasty colour with large red blotches where my blood pressure level was through the roof.  My clothes were stained and smelling. I was shaking uncontrollably internally and externally. Unable to hold the drink in front of me, I had to lap it like a dog.  I felt totally lost and alone, no hope and nowhere to turn.

THE VOICE
It was quiet in the bar, no barmen and no customers, then I heard a voice, I believed then and now it was the voice of God.

‘Dave, if you don’t stop drinking you will be dead within the year and in hell.’

That freaked me out, I left the drink, left the bar and went back to my room.  Locked the door and lay on the bed, fearful and exhausted.  One hour, two hours, I don’t know, but I began to see monstrous bats flying through the door, the walls, the windows, coming for me.  I was terrified to my core and screamed out, ‘God help me.’ I found the strength and courage to get off the bed and out of the room and ran terrified through the streets of Kent Town.

I ended up in St Anthony’s Hospital in St Peters suburb. Three weeks later into the program I was given a day pass, I was sober, felt good and confident to control the drinking.

I had dismissed the voice I heard as another figment of my drunken imagination and set out to prove it. I went back to the Botanic, sat at the bar and ordered a drink.  I thought as I took the first sip, this is good, another drink won’t hurt, no one at the Hospital will know. Maybe a third, I’m in control.  Alcohol was refastening it grip upon me once again.

Once more, it was quiet in the bar and I was on my own, when I heard ‘that voice’. The voice spoke with authority and certainly, ‘Dave, you have been warned, if you don’t stop drinking you will be dead within the year and then in hell.’
This time, I put the drink down and walked out of the bar.  By the grace of God I have not had another drink.

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NEW THINGS HAVE COME
About this time, I met my now wife.  Doreen took me to Bethesda, a church on Marion Road. The message was based on 2 Corinthians 5: 17, ‘Therefore if any man is in Christ he is a new creature. The old things passed away behold new things have come.’

That was what I wanted, what I needed I responded to the altar call the preacher made.  Led by the Spirit of God, I walked away from the sin, the guilt, the shame my drinking had led me to and  away from the gates of hell and through the gate that leads to heaven and Eternal Life – the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are reading this and find yourself bound, shackled and held  captive by addiction my prayer for you is that you would be set free by the power of God and the Name of Jesus.

 

 

 

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FIVE MEMORIES

 

P1260442.JPGOh, look! Here is a wedding invitation from Michael and Peggy.  I remember when Michael was a teenager and came to work on the fruit block during the summer holidays. To fund his goal to be a doctor he had to work during holidays and any spare time. There was only Michael, his brother and mother. I wonder if he reached his dream.

Michael and his mate, Lou, would have pitched buckets of rotten fruit at my husband Bruce, in after work fruit fights. Our children became very upset at Dad being picked on by these two boys. In fact, Bruce would have teased the boys, and they were only retaliating.

We have never heard of Mick again.  Lou married and became a father and Pastor. I sigh, so long ago, like ships passing in the night. Their lives crossed ours just for a moment in time.
POTENTIAL
Wow! My old diary.  Wonder what I wrote back then. Fancy that! It says we went to a combined Schools’ Concert in Whyalla and granddaughter Jessica was in the choir – 250 strong. Also, she was flautist in an ensemble of 12.  Jessica had so much potential, like a plant about to bloom.  Jessica is wife and mum to a daughter and son.

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GOLDEN WEDDING
Ah, here’s our golden wedding cards.  Who sent us these beautiful cards? Wayne and Mandy, my grandson and his wife.  His story is a miracle. He was only nineteen when he was diagnosed with leukemia.  Stem cell technology gave him a chance of living.  He is a father of twins now.  So many of his fellow sufferers have died.  He is a lone survivor.  His mother is too. She waged a successful war against breast cancer.

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MORE PRECIOUS THAN DIAMONDS
Oh and look! A card from the great grandchildren.  There are bits of paper stuck all over it and a note from their mother, ‘Happy Birthday, Nana.’ The card is not pretty or expensive, but it is prized above diamonds or pearls. The card was made by their little hands with much excited talk and glue everywhere to do something special for Nana.

In my memory box, there are stored hundreds of memories, good ones, bad ones. I’ve remembered only a few of what is stored in the box.

P1330784.JPGGOD’S MEMORY BOX

The great thing about God is that his memory box is empty. We are reminded in the book of Psalms that God cast our sin as far from him as the east is from the west and remembers them no more.’  God only records that Christ made us a new person when we invited him into our inner being person. New desires, actions, lifestyles were born in us then; this is the record that God keeps.

We keep our mental memory box full with the hurts and grudges against those who did us wrong. Years later, we are still carrying them.  God’s memory box is empty of our misdeeds because his only son Jesus took our place of condemnation.  When we believe and accept Jesus as our scapegoat, we are cleansed.  Our past is rubbed out. God forgives and forgets.

My memory box is full of cards, newspaper cuttings, photos and junk, I’m going to keep my memory box because I like to remember those who have drifted in and out of our life and what my children have achieved. However, I’m working on emptying my mental memory box. If God can forgive me totally, then I need to empty my memory and be the new person, he made me at the cross.

God sees me and you through Christ and what Christ has made us. God has chosen me and you above all else to be his beloved children, free from the clutter of sin. Let’s embrace that new life, unreservedly and live our full potential.