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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Youth regained

The old man was prepared to accept that this was it.  This was the end.  He had been laid to rest after years of living in the garden. He didn’t mind really.  He had enjoyed his life, even though he had been battered around by the storms, survived the heat, the drought, the floods and kids climbing all around him.

As he aged, he had folded his bark coat more thickly around himself.  This gave his aging limbs protection from the elements and attacks from marauding insects. Although, at the time, he wept a little, he was proud of the heart the lovers had carved in his coat.  He had offered them protection from the onlooker’s gaze as they swapped their innermost secrets and committed themselves to each other.

As he lay within the slabs cut from his generous girth, he allowed the breezes to filter between the thick slices of his manhood.  He whiled the days away thinking of the good times in the past.  He was a daydreaming old man.

Time passed.  The timber cutter returned to survey the slabs he had cut some time ago.  As they sat on their thin wooden interlays they had dried and some of the bark had started to peel from the outer skin.  He scratched his head.  The time had come.

The old man shivered as he was gently transported from his place of rest to a place of work.  The timber cutter ran his hand over the stained and moldy slabs.  He scratched at the surface as if it was Aladdin’s lamp.  And yes! The ‘Genie’ was still inside.

The old man was born again.  His beauty was revealed to the world, as his outer coat was removed and the dirt and grime of his years sanded away.  He became a seat of rest in the park where he was surrounded by flowers and other trees. Once again, the children play around him and lovers whisper sweet nothings to each other when they sit and hold hands.  His gnarled old twisted frame has been transformed.  His inner beauty revealed.  His life has not been wasted.  He is happy again.

And so it is with us as we age. We can always be of value to society, as long as we keep the ‘Genie’ available inside us.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s life.

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Who am I

  ‘I’m searching for my true self’ is a phrase often heard by those wondering about themselves and who they really are.

   You hear of people journeying to other countries in order to find themselves on the slopes of the Himalayas or among the gurus of India.  Most times they return, supposedly better for the experience, probably somewhat poorer financially, but still asking themselves the same questions.

   Our life’s experiences are like a collection of poetry.  Some flow along in a simple rhyming format with a regular pattern like the wheels of a train rolling over the joins in a railway line.  While we all know that verse doesn’t have to have a regular rhyming pattern to still be classified as poetry, then so it often is with our life’s experiences.

During our life we have experienced highs and lows.  We have achieved and we have failed.  Throughout it all we have gained knowledge, understanding and wisdom. 

So the canvas of our life contains our own poetry collection of experiences, both good and bad, both positive and negative, our achievements and our failures.  After examining this collection, we could say we are more aware of ‘What we are.’

If we can find a quiet spot on our own, we can consider how we have reacted to various activities in this collection in the past and how in some situations we might react differently today. The answers we come up with will help us go a long way to being able to understand ‘Who we are.’

By concentrating more on our positive reactions we can really get to like and better understand the image we see in the mirror.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s life.

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What the sign says

There is an advertisement on commercial television that questions why we drink beer. It seems because it is summer, we should all drink beer. This assumption comes into question when one brave person whispers to his mate that he doesn’t like beer anymore.

It seems the whisper is heard by all the drinkers and a hush falls over the crowd because the sign on the wall tells us it is summer and we all should drink beer. One larger than life character stands up and proclaims, “Who made beer the boss of summer?”

The commercial pans to a bar and a promotion for a whisky based alcoholic drink offered as an alternative to beer.

I can’t help but re-enact this scenario when I consider how we go through life blindly following whatever those in charge of us tell us.

If I was to whisper to you that I don’t want to follow a particular political party anymore, I can’t imagine this would this send shock waves through our community?

Our maker decided to give us all ‘free will’. We have a conscience and generally are quite capable of making choices that affect our lives. Many of these choices will be influenced by our conscience and what we see to be right for us at the time.

So, how then does our conscience determine what is right for us and/or what might do us harm. Our conscience is constantly being manipulated by those around us, by our living and working environment and by what we have already experienced about life.

Sometimes as we watch our parents, those in government or those in authority, including leaders in our churches, we might see a contradiction in what they say as against what they do. Unfortunately, this can be most confusing and can often be the catalyst that affects our actions.

Let us be prepared to decide for ourselves what is right for us rather than just doing what the sign says.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s life.

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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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