Unforced rhythms of grace

My favourite Bible passage is from Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 11, verses 28 to 30. Jesus gives us all a simple, sincere, significant invitation:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” (New International Version).

Those words of welcome have had a profound impact upon me throughout my life, particularly when I was going through times of distress and heartache, doubt and confusion.  Always, they drew me back to my Saviour, my Lord and my God.

Recently I read that passage in Eugene Peterson’s version of the Bible, The Message.  It was so refreshing!

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?  Come to me.  Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

I sure have been “burned out on religion”, well and truly.  But what struck me even more was the intent of God’s invitation to “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” That is such an exquisite expression of God’s love, kindness and care—the “unforced rhythms of grace”. It is as though he has all the time in the world to bathe us with his love, his grace and his mercy.

“Unforced rhythms of grace.”

May that be our reality as we nestle into the arms of our loving God and experience the joy of knowing him more fully and more deeply than we’ve ever known before.




2018 – Year of the blog

I’ve been puddling about with WordPress for years, trying to master it through a range of ways.  I’ve been to workshops about blogging and I’ve read books – WordPress for Beginners and WordPress for Dummies.  I ended up still being a beginner and still feeling like a dummy.  I set aside

my desire to have a blog and got on with life.  But the urge to write and maintain a blog has returned.

2018 will be the year of the blog!

I had thought I’d set up several blogs, each having a specific purpose and reaching a particular audience.  However, once again I’ve changed my mind.  I’ll now concentrate on this one site – Authentic Christian Living – in which I’ll share thoughts about life in general as well as addressing issues about faith in God and how to live for him.

I’m looking forward to my blogging experience.  Who knows, by the end of this New Year I may be an accomplished blogger.



About God and you

If there is one message I want to get across to those reading Authentic Christian Living it is that God loves you.

He cares for you.

He understands your heartache, your despair; your brokenness and the distress you are going through. He grieves with you and for you. And he loves you so very much.

In times of confusion and personal chaos it is normal to question the reality of God and why he allows so much pain and suffering.

Very often we do not have the answers we so desperately need. Very often those answers don’t come until way into the future.

When our world crashes around us, we need to nestle into God and allow his healing balm to calm our souls, heal our hearts and reassure us that he is with us, no matter what.

When all hell erupts around us, God is there. God’s word remains true for all of us:

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).



A personal invitation from Jesus:  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly”  (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message).

Authentic Christian Living

THE CHURCH TODAY has lost its credibility in the community. Incidents of child abuse by members of the clergy have tarnished congregations of all denominations.  Reports of domestic violence within supposedly “Christian” marriages are increasing.  And the teaching of many churches simply bolsters their particular theological brand rather than focussing on the Gospel message of God’s love, grace and mercy, and how we should live for him.

For many decades I had struggled to find a spiritual home where I could feel loved and accepted.  However, trying to find a church to belong to was a painful, futile experience that eventually came to an abrupt end when vivid memories erupted of my being sexually abused by the State leader of my particular denomination.  That betrayal affected every part of my life – body, soul and spirit. It took all my determination to process the many issues that surfaced, in particular aspects of my spirituality and my sexuality.

Although I had many questions about what had been done to me, and why, I could not turn my back on God.  I knew he would once again see me through this difficult time, just as he had with the many other challenges I had been through over the decades.

However it was obvious that there was no way I could belong to a church that had caused such offence.  The church had robbed me of my right to experience the reality of a loving, living God and had replaced that reality with their restrictive, legalistic teachings that I had soaked up for years.

As I worked through the many issues stemming from that spiritual abuse, I began to understand something of what it means to live an authentic Christian life, one that is genuine and which attracts others to the Lord Jesus Christ.   It is aspects of this journey that I want to capture in my blog Authentic Christian Living.

Many people have been wounded in churches.  Many have either lost their faith or are struggling to hold onto it.  It is for them, in particular, that I address this blog Authentic Christian Living.  I pray that it will be a source of comfort and healing for all who read it.

Many blessings,


Just write

EVER SINCE I was a kid I’ve had the urge to write, putting pen to paper to try to capture my thoughts and share them with others. When I was eight I wrote a poem about autumn leaves, though there was never an autumn in the tropics where I lived. Like many kids of my era I belonged to the Argonauts Club, a national radio program presented by the then Australian Broadcasting Commission as part of their Children’s Hour.

My prize, 1956

My prize, 1956

The Argonauts Club was open to children aged from seven to 17 and was hugely popular with a reportedly 100,000 members in 1950. Members took on the name of an Argonaut—I was Abaris 19—and sent in contributions of writing, art and music that earned points towards a book prize or advanced certificates. I still have the book I earned—Eleanor Dark’s The Timeless Land—something I treasure to this day.

Over the years I dabbled with my writing co-authoring several autobiographies then gaining my Bachelor of Arts with majors in Journalism and Studies in Religion before taking up the role of Communications Officer with the Baptist Union of Queensland and being Editor of their monthly publication, The Queensland Baptist. In that role I encouraged readers to get off the pews and be Christ in the community. Sensing that God wanted me to do the same, I gave up my writing and went back to university and studied social work.

In my early years as a social worker I struggled with the traumatic consequences of an extremely abusive childhood.  My world centred on admissions to a private psychiatric hospital and all the hell that went with that. It took years of extensive psychotherapy before I regained my sanity and peace replaced my inner turmoil. During my first attempt at retirement, in 2009, I self-published my autobiography, Peace and Freedom are My Names, a story described as ‘riveting reading’, and one of hope, healing and wholeness—the ongoing theme of my life.

Now once again retired after a three-year sojourn back in my social work career, my love of writing is bursting out of me. This has not been easy. Thoughts of unworthiness and lack of confidence, not to mention awful memories stemming from childhood and writing for different churches, have stymied my every attempt at writing.  But the urge to write wouldn’t go away.  Just as I was wondering what to do about this blockade a friend directed me to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative living beyond fear. This book has been extremely liberating and has enabled me to challenge the myths that have prevented me from enjoying my true vocation.  In a nutshell Gilbert says, ‘Just write! For goodness sake, Irene, just write!’

And my response? ‘Yep, I’ll do that. I will just write.’  And I plan to keep on writing as often as I like and as much as I want to.  After all, that is what I’m meant to be doing in this latter part of my life: Just write!

Christmas gifts

CHRISTMAS is a demonstration of the love of God for all people. It embraces not just the birth of Christ, but His life, death and resurrection. Many visitors to Israel experience something of that amazing love in personally enriching ways, and I too had that privilege.

Visiting Bethlehem where Jesus was born, and standing in the Shepherds’ Field where angels proclaimed the arrival of the Christ-child, brought a fresh awareness of the Christmas story. I understood anew the reality of the meaning of His name, Immanuel, God with us.

As I sat in the magnificent church on the Mount of Beatitudes, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, the words of one of the Beatitudes captured my heart: Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Many people find Christmas particularly difficult; the grief of their lives intensifies in the  heightened air of excitement and anticipation. There are those who are mourning – those who are bereaved, those with broken relationships, the loss of hopes and dreams. To each one, Jesus brings His gift of comfort. He gently says, ‘Blessed are you who mourn, for you shall be comforted.’

As I walked the streets of Jerusalem where Jesus once walked I was reminded of how He reached out to the poor and needy, those who lived on the edge of their communities. Jesus reached out to all in need – and He does that for all of us today. At Christmas time there are those who feel alone and lonely. To each one Jesus brings His gifts of love and acceptance.

As I talked with Jesus in the serenity of the Garden of Gethsemane, the words of an old hymn came to mind:

I come to the Garden alone,

While the dew is still on the roses

And He walks with me, 

And He talks with me

And He tells me I am His own.

The words of the contemporary Christian song, Servant King, also capture the pathos of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane as He awaited His arrest and coming crucifixion. It speaks of the garden of tears where Christ chose to bear our heavy load, where His heart was torn with sorrow, but in obedience to His Father, He declared: ‘Not my will, but Yours be done.’

In what is meant to be a festive occasion there are those who are carrying heavy loads. To all, Jesus offers His gifts of empathy, kindness, care and compassion. He invites everyone to give Him that heavy load, and receive from Him His love, joy and peace.

Christmas is a time to reflect upon the love of God, demonstrated to us through the birth of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ – our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – the One who knows us intimately, loves us deeply, and who offers us Life with a capital ‘L’.

This Christmas may each one of us accept His gifts and embrace them in all their fullness. The love of God, His peace, joy and hope – wonderful gifts that are His personal gifts to each one of us.

Sharing my story

I HAVE HAD the opportunity over the past weeks to share my story with social work students, some undergraduates and others completing their masters in social work. It’s not easy telling my story, which has been rather harrowing and very turbulent, but I share it according to the audience. With the masters students it was a small group of mature people, all of whom had been working as social workers for some time. In the smaller group there were many opportunities to talk informally about my experiences and to respond to questions. With the undergraduates – a much larger group of younger people, I’m assuming, I’m telling my story a little differently, brushing over some of the rougher points and omitting others… I don’t want to scare them off working in mental health services!

Why tell my story? There are many reasons, but above all I want to testify to God’s goodness for all He has done over the decades to bring me through to the place of peace and contentment I now enjoy. I do not know why life was so tough for me, but I do know that without God I would never have made it.

Life hasn’t turned out the way I wanted it, and I have had to grieve for lost hopes and dreams. However, life is a whole lot better now than what it had been for so long. For those who would like a glimpse of my journey as I see it, check out Psalm 40; Isaiah 61:1-3; and 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. These help me focus on the reality that God maps out our lives, and He is working out His purposes for us all.

Have a great day!