Archive for June, 2013

June 25, 2013

Real Paranormal Activity

Godly encountersI was lying awake in bed the other night listening to John breathe, it was about 2.30 am. We had gone to bed late and my mind was still winding down from our busy and full day. I turned over to face the outer side of the bed and there were two people – a man and woman standing next to my bed. I didn’t freak out or yell out in fright because a week earlier I had experienced something similar. I had seen the shadow of a young girl about Poppy’s age beside my bed – in fact I thought it was Poppy. At that time I sat up and reached out but my hand went right through the shadow and then it disappeared. I gasped loudly and woke up John. I guess in some way that prepared me for seeing this couple standing beside my bed. I must be plain speaking here – they were very, very real. After looking at them for a moment the ‘couple’ disappeared but I prayed and asked God ‘What were they?’. I was thinking they could be angels. Suddenly the couple reappeared and as I was looking at them, the man’s jaw seemd to unlock and his teeth punched out of his mouth and came at me hissing, snarling and gnashing. Freak me out! Instantly I felt this enormous sense of fear. Not of the man himself but of going to England to start the church. Negative and fearful thoughts bombarded my mind. Thoughts that I have never experienced before or since!

As a Christian, my worldview contains a belief of not just God and the Angelic but also Satan and the Demonic. The bible says that when Satan (an angel) was kicked out of heaven (because he wanted to take over God’s job) it says he took a third of the angels with him. Over 25 years of ministry I have encountered ‘demonic angels’ regularly but I must admit in the last 5 years these kinds of experiences have occurred less and less. Why? I believe it is because I have come to know who I am. I am the daughter of the King of the Universe. He loves me, protects me and has given me His authority to tell them to rack off and I have done so. After God showed me who this ‘couple’ really were I had this outrage well up inside of me. I thought ‘How dare this demon couple come into my bedroom and scare me.’ The following evening John and I prayed over the house and our bedroom and I know that that yucky thing is now gone.

When you start recounting ‘paranormal experiences’ everybody has a story. Stories of lights flickering on and off, looking for something and finding it in a place you’ve already looked in, ghostly apparitions and noises etc. There used to be a TV show many years ago called the Twilight Zone and it would try to explain these types of experiences but sometimes they can’t just be explained away because there is really a paranormal realm that exists. In fact there are two. Two Kingdoms battling for the hearts and minds of all people. The Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness. The goal of the Kingdom of Darkness is to rob, kill and destroy. The goal of the Kingdom of Light is to bring love, freedom and eternal life.

When I have paranormal encounters from either Kingdom they have an ‘emotional feel’ that goes with them. Demonic experiences leave me feeling scared, hopeless, misunderstood, alone, rejected, confused and burdened and in contrast Godly experiences leave me feeling safe, encouraged, joyful, peaceful, protected, clear headed and light.

If you are experiencing demonic paranormal activity in and around your life – cry out to God to help you and He certainly will! The truth is the battle has been already won. Christ secured victory with His death on the cross. If you need to talk to someone most churches are equipped with people and processes to help and they are a far cry of those shown in movies like the exorcist and paranormal activity.

I am more than happy to help or guide you toward people in your area that can help you with this. Don’t hesitate to contact me via our blog email address:

blogsidebyside@gmail .com

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxox

June 25, 2013

One Husband’s need for Unconditional Respect

Respect

In almost a year and half of blogging the most popular post that I have written was my one about submission in marriage.  Here is a further post on the subject.

What the bible says about marriage is pretty simple.  It goes like this: wives, respect your husbands, husbands love your wives.  It is laid about by Paul in Ephesians 5:21-33.  Of course that one simple rule takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to put into practice.

In the Western world at present the part of that command that says, “wives respect your husband” is controversial.  But for those of us committed to living as Scripture tells us rather than how the world tells us we have to grasp with putting it into practice.  If you think that the bible shouldn’t say that wives must submit, obey and respect their husbands then your argument is with the bible authors, not me.  I’m just trying to do what is says (as is Catherine).

The problem that we come up against is that in our culture we believe that respect must be earned.  Not so with love, mind you.  Love should be unconditional.  But respect is only given when we see behaviour that we think warrants respect.  This cultural mindset makes it hard for Christians to have a biblical marriage.

What it means is that Christians, and Christian wives in particular, have to make a decision to not do what they would do naturally (which is give respect only when they think it warranted).  Instead they have to commit themselves to giving their husbands unconditional respect.

Just think about those 2 words sitting side by side for a moment – unconditional respect.  What a radical thought.

It’s radical because what happens in marriage is that we see the other person’s faults, weaknesses and sins far more closely than anyone else does.  If there is one person who knows your failings in the most detail it is your spouse.  As the saying goes, “behind every great man there’s a woman shaking her head”.  She’s shaking her head because she knows what he is really like at home.

Yet a Christian wife is called to respect her husband.  Not just when he is loving and Christlike, but all the time.  Men crave respect.  If you doubt this then try this experiment – tell your husband that you love him, and see what the reaction is.  The next day, in a similar context, tell him that you respect him, and see what the reaction is that time.  Men need respect from their wives more than they need love.

Now I don’t know about you, but for me there is plenty of times that Catherine has seen things in me that she could disrespect if she wanted to.  There has been no lack of selfishness and failure that she could point to if she wanted to keep a record of my shortcomings.  But she gets this, so she does her best to show unconditional respect, even when it is really hard to do it.  Thank you sweetheart!!

As for the male readers of this post, your challenge is quite simple – you are to show unconditional love to your wife, despite the fact that you may or may not receive unconditional respect from her.  People are sinful, men and women.  For all married people, God calls you to show grace and forgiveness when you are wronged.  If your spouse has failings, welcome to the club.  I’m sure your spouse is a member too.  All of us are called to show grace, mercy and forgiveness.  That is unconditional.

Unconditional love, unconditional respect.  These are the basis for Christian marriage.

John

June 11, 2013

Secret Diary of a TV Addict

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I love TV.  There’s no point trying to deny it.  When I was a kid I watched plenty of TV.  When I was a teenager I watched plenty.  Now that I’m an adult I watch plenty as well.  I like to think that I don’t, because there are not many shows that I make sure to catch every week.  But of course I do watch the news pretty frequently.  And I watch sport – lots of football of various descriptions.  There is even a soccer match on tonight (Tuesday the 11th) and this morning I have already been thinking about what I am going to have to do to be able to watch it.  And I watch the odd movie on DVD.  And those times that I just switch it on to see if there is anything good on because I have some time to watch it.  So when you add all of that up…I watch plenty of TV.

The average Australian adult watches perhaps three hours a day.  That’s a tricky thing to measure because it changes from year to year, and if you are doing a task but the TV is on in the background, does that count or not?  I found various figures suggesting how much TV people watch, and three hours a day came out about average.

The average child aged 5 and up watches perhaps a bit less, but not by much.  Our daughter, thanks to the super high quality parenting she receives watches none, ok, she watches an hour a day, ok two hours, hmmmm, alright, I confess she’s average.  She watches heaps.  In fact if the impressive DVD collection that is next to the computer that I am writing this on is any indication, if she’s not average then she’s above average in how much she watches.  And she loves it!

Before I met Catherine I was a bit of a snob when it came to reality TV.  I was too busy watching documentaries to go near all that rubbish.  However my sweet wife has changed me in that regard.  Reality TV is good stuff!  We have watched so much Survivor, The Amazing Race and various other ones together.  As for The Bachelor, I just want it on record that it was a COMPLETE COINCIDENCE that I was in the room for every single minute of seasons 1, 2 and 3.

Of course the problem is that you can spend your whole life watching TV.  We only have so much time on this planet and I intend to make as big as splash for the gospel as I can.  The bottom line is that I cannot reach my potential for Christ and watch over 3 hours of TV a day.  I will watch some – there’s nothing to be gained by a legalistic approach that says you can’t look at any.

It’s about balance.  There’s nothing new about needing balance in life.  Neither is there anything new about Christians who find entertainment options more interesting than serving God.  Back in 400 A.D. St John Chrysostom preached about the fact that too many Christians were spending time at the chariot races!

The reason that I know that I often get the balance wrong is because when I don’t watch TV I am simply so productive.  I get stuff done.  I read.  I call people.  I go out.  I meet with people.  I learn.  It’s great.  It feels so much better.  I could have that feeling every night if I wanted it.  So why don’t I?  Because it is so easy to switch the TV on!  The remote is right there, the couch is right there – what could be more enticing, especially at the end of the day?

Of course it’s a matter of rising above the temptation to crash on the couch and stay there once “the Eagle has landed”.

If you agree that you could indeed be more of the person that God wants you to be with the TV off, then don’t go cold turkey and make radical changes like some sort of fad dieter.  Just make gradual, sustainable decisions to watch less, and be with people more.  After all, who ever died wishing that they watched more TV?

John

June 4, 2013

Keep Calm and Carry On – Now Panic and Freak Out!

Keep CalmIn May 2012 I was having my morning prayer time with God. This day seemed like any other day except that God decided to speak clearly and at length to me about building a Ministry Centre in Moldova. Its primary purpose would be to house, counsel, train, educate, support and offer spiritual guidance to woman who had escaped a life of sex trafficking or were potential victims of it. It was an enormous project. I shared this all with John and he started to pray into it. In June of 2012 God spoke clearly to John and said ‘Go to England, plant a church and that church will be the base for the missions work into Moldova’. When John shared that with me, my first response was ‘I could work with that’. Together we said to God – we believe you have spoken to us so we are going to start to take steps toward what you have said to us about this.

Meanwhile life went on as normal, I got a job and after being long time congregation members of Yarra Plenty Church we felt God clearly tell us to leave and go to Manningham Christian Centre. We carried the vision for planting a church in England in our hearts but it all seemed a bit of a pie in the sky.  On the surface we had so much to lose. The move to the UK would involve both of us quitting jobs we enjoyed, selling most of our possessions and moving to a place we had never been. Foolish as that may seem our hearts were on fire and we prayed and prayed that it would happen.

The steps we started to take involved everything from getting Poppy a passport to buying boxes to ship some of our stuff over to the UK. The two most expensive steps were buying the plane tickets ($4,000) and applying for the Ancestral Visa’s – a five-year working permit for both of us.($1300). The application is tedious and complex and as we read through the documentation we realised that they required a copy of your travel itinerary  to be sent with your application and they also didn’t want your application till you were 3 months out from the date of travel. This meant we had to pay for the plane tickets before knowing if we had the visas to work and live in the UK.

We worked on the visa applications for months. It was a long and arduous process. We argued about the ambiguous questions and shelled out the $12 fee to speak with a UK consulate officer 3-4 times who were surprisingly helpful. The application included 5 birth certificates, 3 marriage Certificates and 5 passports. There were 17 pieces of supporting documentation and a stamped confirmation that our biometrics had been completed. That is fingerprints and facial recognition. On May 10th we sent the whole lot to Sydney whereby it was sent to the UK processing centre in Manilla, Philippines. We were told it would at least three weeks. Eighteen days later we received notification that we had been successful in our application.

Since that moment I have been on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s real. We are going. The only step left is to get on the plane. Recently it was my mum’s birthday and as I wrote in her card I got all choked up and bawled my eyes out. This is possibly the last birthday I will celebrate with her in person. I love my mum. Now when I see friends I wonder – is this the last time?  If that is the low point in the emotional rollercoaster the high point is best summed up by a scene from The Hobbit. If you haven’t seen it picture this – the movie opens in the idyllic Shire inside a young Bilbo Baggins House. Gandalf and a large bunch of boorish Elves come uninvited for a meal and discuss a dangerous quest they feel called to go on. Bilbo is invited by Gandalf to join the group. He doesn’t really even consider the request seriously but when he wakes the next morning to a quiet house he has this enormous realisation that he is missing out on something very important – an adventure of a lifetime! And with that he grabs his Hobbit back pack and runs after the others. This is the high part of the emotional rollercoaster for me – the adventure, the call – not wanting to miss God’s plan and purpose for my life. That is awesome, that is what dreams are made of. That is really grabbing life by the throat and living!!

And then I cry because I am going to miss my friends, my life, my church and my family. I’m sure it’s just another season in the process of moving to the UK but for me right now the journey is bittersweet.

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxo

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