Remember: Satan’s Power Is Limited

Whatever happens today, remember that as strong and as ugly as the evil one appears to be, he has limited strength and ability. Jesus Christ, ruler of our universe, has all power and authority. He is on the throne and rules all nations. You can trust this powerful Saviour to be near you and to give you all you need today to follow him.

Rev 12:1-9 “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre.”  And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. “

Prayer: High King of Heaven, this strange visit fits our this world. Every news story of misery and corruption is an echo of the dragon waiting like a thief to devour all that is good and to vandalise your shalom. Thank you for the good news that evil has met its match in Jesus, and give me the patience in this day as I wait for its complete end. Amen
(Philip F. Reinders, Seeking God’s Face, p.537 – using material from Belgic Confession, Article 12)

Time Heals All Wounds …right?

You’ve probably heard it, and maybe you’ve even said it: “time heals all wounds”. Plenty of people have said it to me over the last couple of years. I guess they are saying that if you just leave something, the pain will eventually subside. Soldier on. Life goes on. People move on. Or whatever.

Maybe Lennon and McCartney were right. Sometimes, the best way to deal with a tough situation is to just let it be. Sometimes some of the hurts we carry just need to be left. It’s best for us. It’s best for others. In reality, there are some things that come our way that are not worth responding to. Laugh them off. Let ’em go through to the keeper. Forget about it.

I heard once about a conference speaker who had people throw balls to them while they were speaking. That was interesting enough. But what really caught my attention was that the speaker did nothing to catch the balls. They just bounced off, and rolled along the stage, out of sight. From from time to time, though, the speaker did catch one of the balls, and then used that occasion to speak specifically about a situation that had troubled them or hurt them. Meanwhile, other balls were thrown, and they continued to bounce off, and roll across the floor.

when things are thrown at you sometimes the best thing to do is to let it go

The speaker was making the point that she did not have to respond to everything that was thrown at her, and that she was quite intentional about what she would respond to, and when. Great lesson. And a reminder that when things are thrown at you sometimes the best thing to do is to let it go.

But there’s a part of “time heals all wounds” that bothers me, and which ultimately works against what God would have us do with our pain. While there are occasions where it’s best to let it go, there are other occasions where we should never let it go. A serious disagreement between two people? You should not let it go. A heated argument between a husband and wife? You should not just let it go. Growing resentment in a relationship? You should not just let that go.

Over the years there have been too many times when I have heard people say ‘time heals all wounds’ as an excuse not to do the very thing they needed to do. Then, ‘time heals all wounds’ was just a convenient and sometimes cowardly way to live in denial.

In a moment of anger a stressed husband makes a cutting remark to his wife, and she is hurt. The husband might think, “Well, I’ll just let it go. She’ll be OK in the morning, and she doesn’t understand the pressure I am under anyway.” The night passes, and in the morning he’s just pushing through but she’s still hurt. The wound is there, but time probably won’t heal it. If it’s left untreated, the natural reaction is resentment. To cover the hurt by not discussing work stress again. And so the dysfunction is multiplied. The wife is still hurt. The husband’s work stress remains a ‘no go’ area. In the end, it’s an area of the relationship which becomes closed. Have a few of them from time to time, and the relationship not only loses wonderful opportunities for growth, but it will start to wither in key areas.

Truth is, time only heals small wounds. Just leaving things alone, especially if they are big things, only increases the capacity for pain and dysfunction in the future. And it makes it easy to repeat the same mistakes down the track.

So, how can we tell the difference between an issue we can leave, and one which needs to be addressed? Is it possible to know which wounds time will not heal? That’s for next time…

Q: Does this resonate with you? Has the maxim ‘Time heals all wounds’ worked for you? Leave a comment to share your experience.

Familiarity and Fear

My reading this morning took me to several places: First Psalm 18 – a wonderful Psalm of God’s mighty protection, and his ability to bring victory to his people in battle. Then I read Ps 94, which spoke about the Lord’s justice to those who do evil.

I found myself wondering about our tendency to see God as a mate, to talk to him as if he is any other person in the room. As if.

God is to be feared, deeply respected, bowed before and submitted to. We don’t like this language – we think we’re better than that. Truth is, we aren’t. We are deeply flawed and woefully fallen people in need of repentance.

This creates a tension in our hearts that we would rather avoid and neglect.

My final reading took me to Heb 10:19-25. And this reading reminded me that the tension above is real: there is a yawning gulf between how God wants us to be and how we actually are.

Even so, the Cross of Jesus is also real. Because of Jesus we can

1) now enter the most holy place through his blood
2) we can draw near to God with full assurance because our hearts are cleansed, our guilt is removed, and our bodies are washed
3) encourage others to find their hope for forgiveness and in our living for his new world

God is awesome, and fearful, but Christ’s perfect love drives us out of fear and into the glorious saving presence of the living God.

How do you tend to see God – as one to be feared, or on the same level as anyone else in the room?

The Interference of Self

Read: Heb 13:1-6

Sometimes when I am met by a need or a context where I know I should move forward and respond, I push back and either procrastinate or simply turn away.

Why do I do that? Is it fear that my incompetence might be exposed Is it a sense that I might not be safe? Or is it prejudice? Or some combination of a whole raft of reasons? This passage speaks of ministering to prisoners (v.3) – do I fear their violence, and back off? We also read of strangers (v.2) – can they be trusted? Sometimes I am so prejudiced and governed by insecurity with moves me toward self protection and avoidance. Too easily, my fears blind me to what I really need to see. This is the interference of self.

Quite often the truth we need to hear is uncomfortable

Quite often, the truth we need to hear is uncomfortable. It interferes with the ‘realities’ we construct to protect ourselves from inconvenience. If one of these uncomfortable truths threatens my material wealth, my financial independence, or my leisure, I often try to push it away. Sometimes, I don’t even think I realise what I am doing. Yet through defensiveness or dismissal, or something as harmless as well directed humour, I persist in my denial. I would rather that people affirm me, and confirm the sometimes lesser story I have chosen to live at that time.

Well, there is only one affirmation that really matters. One reality worth living for. On Kingdom deserving the focus of my life, one relationship that brings love, peace, life and hope. And it is God (v.6). I don’t have to worry about what others may think, because living with God, or rather Him with me, I have all I need to survive the day.

Q: Does relationship with God really make that much difference to you? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.

One small step for Mum & Dad, one huge step for love

Mum normally does not get going until about 8 or 8:30. Today, she was up well before that. Probably around 6:30am. When i asked why she was up so early, she said it was because something big was going to happen that day. And again I am reminded that Mum is fully aware of what this day will bring.


Mum & Dad, walking into Lovely Banks in Cobden

We’ve talked about that, my sisters and I. We’ve often wondered whether Mum really has a complete understanding of what is happening. I mean, how do you just move away from your husband of 57 years? How do you leave your family home? How do you just walk into a place like Lovely Banks, knowing it will be your last move before you die? How do you do any of that without breaking down, or worse, throwing a tantrum and digging your heels in?


Mum & Dad, December 19, 1953 married at the Leigh Memorial Church, Lithgow, NSW

I can think of two reasons. The first is that even though Mum is suffering her delusional fantasies, and she sometimes has trouble interpreting reality, she has enough of a handle on what’s going on to know that she needs this level of care. The second is that she knows Dad can’t be here carer anymore. Dad has chronic back pain, and so the lifting, the care, the pure and simple everyday being there was just getting the better of him. It was nothing for him to be up two or sometimes three times a night helping the disoriented love of his life to the toilet and back to bed again.


Settling in. The wonderful staff take Mum and Dad through some basics.

Dad told me tonight that this afternoon he has asked Mum, “You know why this was necessary, don’t you?” and Mum had said “Yes, because we couldn’t go on doing what we were doing anymore.” Some nights, Dad only had three hours of sleep. If even young guys have trouble coping with that, we can understand a 78 year old will never be able to manage it..

I think this says a lot about the love that Mum & Dad have for each other. Love is not doing what you want. If it was, Mum would still be home, irrespective of what harm it brought her and Dad. But that is not what love is. Love is a decision. Often and joyous one, but sometimes a painful one: to deny yourself, your wants, your comforts, and to consciously and selflessly do what the other person needs. So, as hard as it is, Mum decided that she had to make the move. That level of maturity, and that depth of love, is inspirational.

It’s a divine decision. It’s the sort of decision Jesus made, when he turned his back on his glory and made himself nothing for us. He denied his own wants and comforts, and instead he consciously and selflessly did what others needed.


Mum’s new room on Day 1

So we lie down in our beds tonight. Dad is alone in his room. Mum is alone in hers. And there is love. And there is peace. And we are thankful that God has led us through this day.

Have a read of Psalm 91. It’s brilliant!

Q: What do you think about love being defined as self denial and a decision to serve the other? is this actually doable? Leave a comment…

Grace and peace: Dave

Moving Mum

Want to know what it’s like to check your Mum into full care? I don’t know either, but one thing’s for sure: I am about to find out…

I am on a flight from Brisbane to Melbourne. This will be followed by a two and half hour drive to Victoria’s western district. Tonight I will stay at my parents’ home. It will be the last night Mum and Dad will spend together in their family home. I don’t think the momentous nature of this change has settled on us just yet.


Mum, March 2010

So, it all started about three months ago. I was visiting Mum and Dad on one of my ‘flying visits’: quick mid week jaunts where I would stay over with them for two nights and then return home. Mum, Dad and I were to go next door to have tea with my sister Jo and her husband Fred. Jo was picking up some tea on the way home from work. So here we are, waiting in my parent’s lounge room, and Mum simply said “Do you think Jo will have enough food for all these people?” The phrase “all these people” took me by surprise: there were only the three of us in the room, and with Jo and Fred, that still only came to five.

“What do you mean, ‘all these people, Mum?’ There are only three of us, and then Jo and Fred” I said.

Mum gave me a bit of an odd look. Like she knew I was right, but also that there was some other reality invading hers…

I don’t think the momentous nature of this change has settled on us just yet.

Chatting with Jo later that night I learned that these ‘visions’ had been happening from time to time.

Then, two weeks later, I called Mum to see how she and Dad were going. Mum asked me whether I had heard what had happened earlier that morning. I hadn’t. So she told me: mum explained how that morning she had fainted, and she thought she had died, and that some people revived her, but now everything was OK. Or so her story went.

Since that time there have been a good number of other stories, all with a similar cast of other people. For some reason, they all seem to be dressed in black. We have come to call these people ‘the men in black’. These apparently benign and everpresent figures are very real to Mum. The problem is they are not real to anyone else who might be present at the time…

At this point, we have learned not to challenge the existence of the Men in Black, or anything else that Mum may “see”. Instead, we have decided to explore Mum’s experiences with her. We ask her what the Men in Black are doing, or what they are saying. I think this has helped ‘normalise’ Mum’s experiences for her, and I’m sure that if we challenged her every time she mentioned them, she would only become distressed. So our goal has been to keep things as normal as we can for Mum. It seems, at this point, to have been a successful strategy.

In the last three months Mum’s delusional ‘realities’ have made their presence felt in our lives. While we are still waiting for an official diagnosis, it seems that Mum is being drawn into the world of some sort of Alzheimer’s or dementia. In way, the diagnosis is kind of academic. Whatever it turns out to be, the ACAT clinician says Mum should go into full care, and hence this plane trip. And this blog post. And the ones that will follow.

In the next few posts I want to explore this time of transition for our family, in the hope that it may be helpful for others in the same position. And, of course, I’ll keep you up to date with how it all goes.

Q: Have you ever had to check a parent or loved one into full care? How did it go? Feel free to share your experiences by posting a comment.

Grace and peace: Dave

The View

There’s a story that at the start of WWII, Australian military strategists were worried about the rapid advance of the Japanese Army. The Clarence River Wilderness Lodge’s Camp Kitchen has a photograph of some concrete tank traps that at one time were arranged across the Clarence River at Paddy’s Flat. The idea was that these concrete structures would halt the advance of the Japanese invaders. The story is that the Australian Forces believed the northern part of the continent was impossible to defend. So the claim was that the ‘Brisbane Line’ had been drawn from north of Brisbane, with the idea that everything above that line could be sacrificed to protect the south eastern population areas. Now I am not sure about the historicity of all that, but we wanted to see the tank traps, and we were told on good authority that they were still there.

Leonie, Erin, James and I hopped into the Subaru, with first stop in Urbenville (50 mins away), where Erin hoped to get some phone reception. By tethering my phone to my Vaio notebook, we would have internet on the road. Alas, Urbenville’s phone reception turned out to be pretty poor. Poorer than we needed it to be. So we thought the best idea was to drive along, while Leonie watched the phone’s reception indicator. The moment we would get three bars, we’d stop, connect the phone to the computer, and Erin could enrol in her Uni classes. We drove into a small place called Mulli Mulli, a small settlement of indigenous people, and all of a sudden we had five bars! We drove into a side street and pulled over. What was really interesting was that my PC found someone’s wireless service, and connected – so there we were thanking the people of Mulli Mulli for their hospitality!

Back in Urbenville, we visited Glad’s shop again to find out about the condition of some local roads. The shop assistant told us how you could get a great view of the surrounding area from a fire tower, about 15km down the road. So we drive the 7 km to North Yabbra Road, and another 7km to the track to the Fire Tower. The walk to the top was a steep and strenuous 20min climb. A steady and persistent pace seemed to be the trick. It occurred to me that the ascent to the fire tower stretched my cardio vascular system better than the stress test I had undertaken a few weeks before. I have never had any heart problems, and have never felt any reason for concern. Even when recently I found out that my heartbeat was a little irregular, I was relaxed about it, and subsequent tests showed there were no issues. As we walked up the mountain, with my heart rate at around 190, I started to wonder what would happen if I started having serious chest pain. There was no anxiety, or fear. Just a thought. It’s funny how in an instant, your thoughts can take you to the deep recesses of your soul. The thought pressed deeper: “Well, what would happen? What would you do?” It caught me off guard a little. So I let it play out. I imagined having to sit down, with Leonie, Erin and James gathering round. Someone would have run to the top of the hill with my phone, and call for an ambulance. The thought dug in deeper, and I reminded myself that whether the phone works or not, or whether the ambulance arrives on time are not the really big questions. I went deeper, and said, simply, “Dave, you are mortal. One day you are going to die.” Whether it was this day or another day, it was OK, because the life God has given me in Jesus is life that cannot be taken away. I was comforted to feel real peace about that. I was just happy to live the life God has given me in the here and now. And with this I pushed on.

How long did it take to think all that through? It is amazing how quickly it can happen. It might have been ten seconds, not much longer. Even so, a deep sense of peace and a more textured life perspective has come out of it. I think it has helped me feel more resolute, more settled, and more confident of God’s assurance of life. It has deepened and renewed my commitment to live heaven’s life in the here and now. To see and seek God’s goodness more in the land of the living.

Arriving at the top was glorious (see pic, with Dome Mountain in the foreground, looking north toward Brisbane Ranges National Park), and all the more for the hard work of the walk. Climbing to the first level of the fire tower, we had a near 360° view across volcanic plugs like Dome Mountain and Edinburgh Castle, beyond Urbenville and Woodenbong, and to the southwest down along the valley toward Upper Tooloom.

Descending down the track to the car, we deflated the tyres to 24psi for a softer ride on the unsealed roads, and headed for Old Bonalbo, and 12km further, Bonalbo. I am not sure why one of these settlements is ‘old’ and one is not, but as you would expect, while Bonalbo was a larger town than its ‘older’ counterpart, it was still very small.

Bonalbo offered the best promise of a counter meal. We found the Dog ‘n’ Bull, and we were keenly aware that they had found us. The locals picked our car as being from out of town – the Qld licence plates a giveaway. It felt like all eyes we on us, and they probably were. This happens in country towns, but perhaps not to the same degree as it did in Bonalbo. We wondered about why this would be so. In the end we put it down to the Kingdom Hall a block away from the pub: perhaps people thought we were new JWs. We were quite sure all concerns evaporated when we entered the Dog ‘n’ Bull. We were pretty sure no Jehovah’s Witnesses would ever do that…

[more next time…]