If, as a youngster, you were part of a religious organisation, you were taught the rules you needed to follow to ensure your continued acceptance by the organisation.

Understanding the laws and rules, while important, does not necessarily allow us to develop a close personal relationship with our God.

When you are attracted by someone and desire to have a close relationship, the last thing on your mind is how you might sit down and discuss the rules associated with relationships. Your only thought is to get to know as much about that person as you can.

As the relationship develops you may find you just want to be together, to share your stories and enjoy each other’s company. It is this way that a strong friendship often commences, love develops and long-time commitments to each other are made.

When we want to develop a close relationship with our God, we might follow a similar pattern. The first steps could be to learn as much as we can about this spiritual partner. As we come to a better understanding, we may find we have a deeper desire to want to strengthen our developing relationship.

Like any loving relationship, sometimes you can just be together where not a word is spoken and feel totally at peace and in love with each other. Similarly, being in a quiet place and knowing our God is with us can have the same affect.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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Many in our community are openly critical and even angry at some events that are happening around us. They see church leaders and employees being brought to justice for their despicable actions in the past. They see some politicians and community leaders being charged with graft and corruption offences in their individual quests for money and power. They see many individuals taking an unfair advantage over others and getting away with it.

Is it any wonder some citizens are full of anger at what they see and experience in their daily lives. Tv and radio news broadcasts seem to thrive on exposing any well-known personality, or anyone in higher office, who may be involved in a scandal. It seems this type of reporting sells lots of advertiser’s products.

While anger might be seen as an important step to grieving, it is vital for our own wellbeing that we address it, otherwise, it will permeate our thoughts and dominate our lives. Anger can seriously affect our normal loving nature and can even be the cause of sickness and severe mental problems.

So, how do we rise above, and deal with, our anger? There is no doubt it will require considerable courage and a genuine desire to overcome any feelings we might have of righteous indignation.

Jesus was forced to do it in the Garden of Gethsemane. His desperate pleas to His Father in Heaven went unheeded. His friends preferred to sleep rather than help. He was angry, frustrated and desperate, yet He accepted the challenge He knew would only lead to His suffering and death.

While we may not see our anger as having a similar outcome to what Jesus had to endure, we can seek His help in attempting to overcome our own personal situation, because He knows what we are going through.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s Faith.

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Colliding with reality

When travelling along our faith journey, we need occasionally to consider the strength of our relationship with God and how this is affecting our daily lives.

Those who might offer us assistance often refer to the importance of finding a quiet place and looking within ourselves to find and develop an on-going, close personal and spiritual relationship with God. A God who waits for our recognition and a chance to become an integral part of our daily lives.

You would think the wonderful experience of being close to our God would be one that we would never let diminish from our existence. However, the reality of it is that we are born into this world and have a purpose-filled life to lead. For most of us, our busy lives will not allow us to sit quietly in prayer and communicate all day with our God.

God created us to know and love Him and It is important we try, in whatever way possible, to include God in our day. But to be realistic and honest with ourselves, many of us get so involved in our day-to-day activities that regular communication with God might only amount to an occasional occurrence.

 Some might say this indicates a weakness in our faith. Yet, this is the life we have been given and we need to live this to the best of our ability, using the skills and gifts we possess. The exception of course, might be when we get frustrated in trying to resolve a situation and it is then we ask God for help.

We should take courage from what St Paul quoted in one of his letters to the Corinthians. He quotes Jesus Christ as saying, “My grace is enough for you: My power is at its best in weakness.”  St Paul is of the opinion that with this in mind, when we are weak, we can in fact still be strong in our faith.

We need to continually build on our relationship with God, but we can be happy in the knowledge that God’s presence is always with us, even though there will be many times when we fail to recognise this.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s Faith.

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Circle of Life

Creation theories are numerous and vary depending on who you speak with. Some, who prefer the scientific approach, believe the ‘Big Bang’ was the source of our universe commencing. Some even see certain star groups in the cosmos as the source of our creation, while Scripture tells us God created the world in six days.

All the creation theories seem to have a starting point, prior to which everything is ‘unknown’. For example, who created the stars or who instigated the ‘Big Bang’. If it was God who started creation rolling, then who created God?  Many people of different faiths throw their hands in the air and are prepared to accept that it is a big mystery that can’t be understood.

As human beings we like to think everything has a ‘beginning’ and many accept the terms ‘forever’ and ‘everlasting’. If we can readily accept these terms, then perhaps we might even look beyond the word ‘beginning’. If we were to believe in a loving God that ‘always was’ and ‘always will be’ as Scripture tells us, then this would make the acceptance of our Faith so much easier.

Some people live an exemplary life and feel that should there be a life hereafter, their good deeds will be recognised.  However, those who don’t believe in a life hereafter may question the purpose of their living?  

Because we are human. We often fall. We get ourselves up again and keep on going. I feel sure our creator doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but we can be really good triers.

For those who believe in a life hereafter, our life here on earth must be seen as a preparation for that time when death for them will become a reality.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith

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The happy Christian group were in good voice as they sang the chorus line of the hymn, ‘I have decided to follow Jesus’. I wondered if they all really fully understood what following Jesus really entails.

Actually, Jesus answered this question Himself, for in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus is quoted as saying, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me”.

To me, this seems we must take on board those nasty things that happen to us which tend to make our lives difficult at times. Things such as pain, soreness, sickness, worry and grief could well be seen as God’s will for us. For when we say The Lord’s Prayer, don’t we ask The Father that ‘His will be done on earth as it is in heaven’.

Yet in accepting difficult times, maybe Jesus is saying to us that in ‘taking up our cross’ we are remembering Him and what He has done for us. Sure, life wasn’t meant to be easy, but then Jesus also said that He ‘came that we should have life and experience it to the full’.

By experiencing the good with the bad and the difficult, we can also be very aware that at the Last Supper Jesus gave us ‘The New Covenant’. This was a promise that He would be with us for all time.

It is my belief that perhaps when the going gets rough and despair sets in, our God is suffering along with us constantly by our side. This will enable us to draw on His strength and resilience through a prayer for help and healing.

As we experience His love, it makes acceptance of the hard times so much easier to accept. It allows us to remember the hymn’s chorus line where we can once more ‘make the decision to follow Jesus’.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith

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If someone is raped or experiences a personal violation as a child or adult they are often mentally scarred for life. The heinous event can replay itself in their mind, sometimes even on a daily basis. It can affect their ability to work, sleep and live what we might consider to be a normal life.

If we know someone who has been violated in this manner we need to love them in a tender caring way. It is impossible for us to know the full effect that past experience is having on the person’s life.

Let the professionals provide all the advice they need. Our role should be purely as a friend who is there for them when needed. One who can offer unconditional love and accept their brokenness even though their anger outlet may well be directed at times towards us as their friend.

Without even being at fault, some victims can be so ashamed of what has occurred in their life that they can never bring themselves to reveal their dark secret. Others can take many years before they are ready to allow the event to surface. They have lived with a dark cloud hanging over their heart and their mind and it is hard for friends and family to understand the difficulties they undergo during this closed period of their life.

While Jesus was able to ask His father to forgive his persecutors before He died, the pain and suffering some victims continue to endure throughout their lives may well take a lifetime before forgiveness towards a perpetrator is even considered. We must accept this.

While this may not fit with our moral understanding, it is not our role to judge, for until we walk in our friend’s shoes, we will never understand the depth of the mental anguish they are going through.

In being a friend to such a person we need to show them unconditional love.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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So often we read in Scripture where the Apostles tried to shield Jesus from different types of people, as if they were unacceptable or they felt Jesus was tired and shouldn’t have to be confronted by the likes of children, tax collectors, prostitutes and recognised sinners.

Jesus however, rebuked them saying, “Let them come”.

We can learn from this that God doesn’t judge who might or might not be worthy of His friendship. He promised to always be with us and to love us unconditionally.

It seems our God wants everyone, regardless of morality, age, culture or beliefs to come and enjoy His unconditional love and creation. He obviously wants to share Himself abundantly with anyone who genuinely seeks to have Him become part of their lives.

So as ordinary, everyday people that then becomes the challenge for us to accept or reject.

Just because some people we meet might be different from us doesn’t mean that Jesus wouldn’t want to share a meal with them.

If Jesus wouldn’t reject them, why then should we?

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith

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The meaning of life

The Beatles conversed with a Guru on a mountain top in Nepal as they searched for the meaning of life. They returned still questioning in their own mind the purpose of their existence.

The hilarious Monty Python team, in attempting to fathom the problem in their film, did so by exploring the various stages of life starting at birth and finishing with a visit by the grim reaper. Sadly, while there was much to enjoy watching the movie, there was no definitive answer to the film’s title.

Throughout history the search for life’s meaning has occupied the minds of many people from different walks of life and different cultures. We have been given a wide variety of answers based on scientific, theological and philosophical speculation which leaves one wondering.

For those who believe in the God of our creation, they look for the answer through their personal understanding of God, the use of their free will and their belief in the afterlife. They look inwards to the existence of a soul and their interpretation of the difference between good and evil.

The scientific theories would probably be based more on facts about our survival within our universe, whereas many people would just see the need for happiness as their response to the question.

Whatever we conclude as our own understanding of the meaning of life, we should always remember when something is created it is always done so for a purpose. So maybe the simplistic answer as to why we are here and what is the meaning of our life lies in what the creator had in mind for us at the time of our creation.

The answer could be as simple as just trying to be the person our creator wanted us to be in this life. The emphasis here is on the word ‘trying’, for we all know no one is perfect. How this can be achieved is perhaps seeing our God as a God of goodness and love and then trying to emulate these qualities.

So, let’s be good, do good and love good.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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Take it easy

I find that sometimes our God can talk to us using the lyrics from well-known songs. Maybe we should listen more closely to the words of a song and not just enjoy the melody. It is possible there might be a personal message in the song which particularly resonates for us beyond what the lyricist intended.

Take for instance the great Eagles song, ‘Take it Easy’. The lyrics tell us of the singer’s quest to find true love in his life that has so far been unsuccessful. It seems, it isn’t the casual affairs but true love which he desires more than anything else.

He tells himself that in his search he should “take it easy” by approaching the situation with a cool head and not to ‘let the sound of his own wheels drive him crazy!’

It is a bit like our search for our God throughout our life. We generally recognise God, or some higher being exists, but our busy life doesn’t always allow us the time or the inclination to really get to fathom out what this relationship is all about. The song tells us to ‘lighten up while you still can.’

While the lyrics refer to ‘a girl my Lord in a flatbed’ ute, they also raise the unanswered question of the Lord that says, ‘I gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me’. It is recognised that in our life, ’we may lose and we may win’, but that ‘we will never be here again’. And as part of our search for true love ‘I may be ‘running down the road trying to loosen my load’. However, I find ‘I’ve got a world of trouble on my mind’.

While we may only find the peace we seek during our stay on this earth in our God who truly loves us, many of us can be very conscious of our shortcomings and our worthiness, so we tend to go ‘lookin’ for a lover who won’t blow our cover’. We know ‘we got it easy’ but the question in the song to our God repeats itself again, ‘I gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me’.

As if in response to our request, Jesus reaches out and tells us to come to Him all who labour and He will give us rest. He will help us find true love. He will be the one to give us the freedom we need to ‘Take it Easy’.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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Fair dinkum

We all need to be able to help our mates especially when it is obvious to us they are going through a hard time.

A concern about a particular mate’s situation might cause us to feel we may be able to help him in some way. By just being there for him is sometimes all that might be required.  However, should he wish to discuss his situation with you, it is important we listen carefully without wanting to interrupt or offer helpful suggestions unless we are asked for them.

Sometimes, just giving a person the opportunity to open up and share his problem is sufficient in itself to enable your mate to resolve the problem himself.

Other times, if you are required to offer a response, we need to be conscious of our own knowledge and ability and determine whether we might not be qualified to offer effective advice. In which case, our suggestion would be that he might seek professional help.

It is important we find a way of not only empathising with our friend but praying for him as well. Perhaps we might feel our mate would be embarrassed by openly praying with him on the spot. So, we can keep our prayer for him between ourselves and God.

Scripture tells us it’s the Holy Spirit within us whose job it is to help us with our prayer life. Hence, we should ask the Holy Spirit to help us pray for our mate that he will be assisted in becoming the person God wants him to be, rather than the person we think he should be.

Relying on the Holy Spirit to take our requests and needs to The Father does make praying so much easier, giving us more time to praise and thank our God for his goodness.

This way we can then confidently sit back and watch how God is answering our prayer.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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