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Ian Acheson
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Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Hello SUMite friends, Ian from Down Under here. I keep bumping into a recurring theme of how to do this Christian life well. I’ve probably made reference to it in previous posts. It has two elements to it, and different people use different terms to describe these elements. A nun I listened to a few years back described a typical day as consisting of time for ‘contemplation’ and then time for ‘action’ ending the day with more of the former. Interestingly, if you studied a typical day Jesus lived we would probably find that’s how His day would be broken into. What’s critical is that a good life includes both elements. Recently I came across an alternative description: ‘abiding’ and ‘abounding’ which are taken from two key New Testament verses: John 15:4 (NRSV) – Jesus says, “Abide in me as I abide in... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo credit: Austin Neill Hi everyone, Ian from Sydney here. For most of my SUM married life I thought I was okay doing the Christian life on my own. I’m an introvert by nature and enjoy my own company and for a number of years struggled with being in crowded situations. I still do and will usually choose to sit on the end of rows in any theatre or auditorium. This is purely a relief mechanism so that I know I can ‘get out’ quickly if I need to. As we’ve talked about many times over the years, it’s often easier for us Christians to maintain peace in our households by not engaging too much in church activities and such like. I’ve actually been very blessed by my wife who has always actively encouraged me to attend church: she knows it’s good for me. However, I resisted for years getting... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hello, Ian here once again. As you probably have noticed in many of my posts in the last few years I’ve sought to desire more of God, to experience that oneness with the Father that Jesus prays for us about in John 17. Hey, and isn’t it fabulous that Jesus, Himself, actively helps us in the process? Everyday. As He continually intercedes in prayer for us. This desire for more brought me, firstly, to writing a new non-fiction book, and then when I discovered I didn’t have sufficient material, secondly, to take up study again in participating in a Spiritual Formation course. To date I marvel at what I’m both learning and experiencing. The Heart It’s a journey of the heart as the prophet Jeremiah declared: “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hello, Ian from Sydney here. “Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.” (Luke 5: 3-6 ESV) The disciples were experienced fishermen. They knew the lake of Gennesaret intimately having fished it for years. We’re told they fished all night and caught nothing. And this relative newcomer whom they knew to NOT be a fisherman tells them to cast their nets out again. What would... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of wallpaperlistings.com Happy 4thof July to all my American friends. Ian from Down Under here. For many years I’ve struggled with anxiety. It’s played an even more prominent role in my life the last 15 years that happened to coincide with my stepping away from the Corporate world into working for myself. What I’ve discovered those of us who struggle with anxiety is we all have our individual pressure points which can exacerbate or set-off moments of extreme stress. Interestingly, my big two have been associated with either public transport (planes, trains, buses) or people living in my house. Disconnect with Faith The latter pressure point always bothered me because we’re called to be hospitable. And I want to be welcoming of people sharing our home. But my desire for control and ‘home being my safe place’ has often overridden the want to be hospitable. No, I don’t... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of Dreamstop.com One of the key points I make to people who ask me for some advice on writing is the importance of turning up each day. Don’t wait for inspiration to come before you start writing, it only comes when you start. It’s surprisingly magical and wonderful what words, phrases, character traits, etc etc you never expected to write suddenly appear on the page in front of you. The same applies to our spiritual walks. Pentecost Sunday This is a subject that’s been on my heart and mind for a couple of weeks. It started after Pentecost Sunday (50 days after Easter Sunday) and we had a special time in church, one I even experienced watching online. My Pastor decided to have a second Pentecost Sunday the following weekend and once again, the Spirit turned up in a special way. If we look back at the first... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of Fairfax County website Ian here. As I walked one of our dogs this morning I asked the Lord what was on His heart for this community. He responded almost immediately with: “My heart.” I enquired further and He wanted us to know how much He loves us and how much His heart is for us. My sense is that there are some of us (perhaps only one) who is struggling a little at the moment to know, not just in their head, but in their heart, how much our Father loves them. False Narratives I’ve shared a number of times how for much of the early years of my marriage I believed that it wouldn’t be blessed nor could I have a ministry because I was unequally yoked. In meeting Dineen in 2012 I came to realize this to be a false narrative. For much of my... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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mage courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Ian here again. Firstly, thank you for your engagement in the first of this occasional series of posts. I loved seeing the discussion and responding to the comments that were made. I hadn’t planned on writing another such post so soon but the universe conspired (ie the power of 3 made me sit up and take notice) to bring some thoughts to bear that I thought might serve as a useful discussion. Firstly, I was chatting with a couple of wise men last week and we were particularly discussing how men communicate. Secondly, we’re all aware of the #metoo dialogue that has had significant airplay over the past few months. I recently read a fascinating article written by a bloke who explored how this predatory side of men had evolved and finally, one of my favourite authors, Tim Winton (an Aussie National... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo credit: Herald Sun By Ian Acheson The passing of Billy Graham two weeks ago brought back a flood of memories for many people. No doubt you’ve seen the many tributes for Mr Graham over these past couple of weeks. And I wanted to take a moment to express my own small tribute to him. The Year 1979 The photo at left was taken in 1979 at one of Mr. Graham’s crusade meetings held at Sydney’s largest racecourse. 1979! Oh what a year. I think back on it with great fondness. I was in Year 10 at school and I particularly loved that school year. I even did well at Science that was a first for me. It gave me a boost especially as I wanted to follow in my Dad’s footsteps and study medicine. When it came to selecting my subjects for the final two years of school, I... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net For a while now some of us have thought it might be useful to have a chat about blokes and some things that perhaps are not well understood or create confusion. As you can see I’ve added a “Part 1” to this post hoping that this may be the first in a series of occasional posts and not necessarily all written by me. I hope this first post may perhaps create some conversation. I’d prefer to respond to specific questions that may be on a few of our minds rather than run off on a tangent that may not be very relevant. So this post will be a little general in nature to get us started. Perhaps to start let me introduce myself for some of you who may be newish to SUM and don’t really know me so that you have a good... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of samarttiw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net So here we all are. The week before Christmas with still lots to do. Work to finish off, shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, travelling and hosting just to name a few things. It’s exhausting just reading that list. Besides all of this we may have the added stress of having family staying with us (we do) and/or going to stay with family. A quick tip, delegate things. Don’t try to do it all. Engage everyone in the doing. Yes, this can be a struggle and frankly I’m preaching this as much to myself as anyone. Because sometimes people don’t follow instructions well or try to take over. Breathe, Ian, breathe. Abundant Life “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJV) We all know this verse. At Christmas both parts... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2017 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net I sat chatting with my publisher. We’d only just met face to face for the first time and here we sat, an Englishman and an Aussie, having a cup of tea (as in hot) in a café in a Nashville hotel. We were attending a Christian Writers Conference, he prospecting for new content and I hoping he’d give me an update on my manuscript that I’d sent through to his employer three months previous. Unfortunately, Tony knew nothing about my manuscript. He was now a contractor to the business and so wasn’t involved in the day-to-day. I thought we’d end up having a nice chat about nothing in particular until he quickly changed the subject with the question: “Have you thought of writing non-fiction?” (for those of you who don’t know I write fiction). My heart jumped a little. I’d come to the conference... Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2017 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of 9comeback at FreeDigitalPhotos.net One Bible story that I keep coming back to each Advent season is the one that features Zechariah and Elizabeth. I hadn’t spent a lot of time reflecting upon it until a few years ago when I began to observe Advent. Most of you will know their story is briefly told in Luke 1 before Mary’s story. I’d encourage you to read it again (v5-25) and as we’ve done in the past read it meditatively. Perhaps listen to it and put yourself into the story. Imagine you are Zechariah or Elizabeth or one of the crowd and see what the Spirit reveals to you. Longing This couple was probably in their late 50’s or early 60’s. He was a respected Jewish priest and would have been highly thought of within society. However, even though holding an elevated position in society they were probably looked... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2017 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net We got the call that our son and his wife had left for the hospital. Our excitement increased thinking the next time we hear from them they will share the wonderful news of becoming parents for the first time. And we’d be grandparents. Yay! We went to bed believing we’d wake to receive the news. Morning came. Still in labour. Lunchtime. Still going. Staying focused on anything else was pretty difficult. The anticipation was thrilling. Words of encouragement for our son as he worried for the love of his life as she so bravely persevered. Evening came. All was quiet. We hoped and prayed for news and that they wouldn’t enter into a second night of labour. Just after dinner, the text arrived. How our hearts jumped into our throats. A son. A healthy boy. And mom is doing well after such a long... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2017 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of alex_ugalek at FreeDigitalPhotos.net It’s fast approaching the Christmas season when life can get especially busy. In addition, for we in mismatched marriages can have extra challenges as a result of a desire to intentionally reflect on the reason for the season. Jesus. Whether it’s attending gatherings with the church girls (or blokes), the various services our Church’s hold or even decorating our houses with symbols of our faith, we can all get a little self-conscious of doing things that our partners may not enjoy. And not to mention that we may be away from the house more often which can cause stress. Often due to our busyness our time spent with the Lord may wane. There are only so many hours in the day, right? The Secret Place “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2017 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of Foto76/FreeDigitalPhotos.net I was in the office early. First to arrive, every morning. I was the one who turned the lights on (and often the one who turned them off each night). Large triple shot coffee in my hand as I scanned overnight emails and my always too large work-in-progress folder. Another restructure was in the wings and I knew with a new MD having recently arrived putting the heat on the sales team, of which, I was one of its leaders, we were to come under close scrutiny. Changes were inevitable and I knew my role, the jack-of-all-trades role that it was, would be closely scrutinised. I wasn’t too concerned. In fact, I was ready for a change. But to what? I’d never aspired to be a CEO, unlike my twin brother, but from early in my corporate career I had expected I would end up in... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2017 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of 9comeback/FreeDigitalPhotos.net Hope. In Lynn’s last couple of posts she has shared what the Lord has been saying to her about hope. As I meditated with the Lord on what to write about He gave me a similar instruction: HOPE. I’ve previously shared on my three-strikes rule: if I read/hear a topic 3 times in a very short space of time I realise the Lord is wanting me to pay particular attention. This happened last week and the topic was, you guessed it, Hope. These are crazy times indeed. Both at the global level: Nth Korea, Harvey, Trump, Charlottesville, Middle East, terrorism, etc and at the individual level: depression, suicide, divorce, job loss, and so on. Yes, these are crazy times. But. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2017 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of Supertrooper at FreeDigitalPhotos.net I’m fascinated by how often we allow sweeping generalizations to satisfy us. One area we often use them is in comparing the sexes. How often do we hear the statements of the ilk, “Women are more relational,” and “Men need time in their caves”? I know I’ve been guilty of believing and saying the first one. I heard the second one in a sermon yesterday; however, I’m not a great believer in it as I think the cave notion for men is often a form of escape. Positive, yes. But not always. A Relational God The more I read the Word and especially spend time in Genesis understanding the ramifications of the Fall I’m amazed how relational God is. The mystery of the trinity in its most basic form is relational: 3-in-1. And how God walked in the garden communing with Adam and Eve... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2017 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of Phil_Bird at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Mid-year is a big time for our church as we have a celebration dinner where all our campuses around the city come together and break bread together. It’s a night where we reflect on the good things the body has contributed across various activities both locally and overseas. Plus we look forward to the next year and share a vision for how and where the church can contribute. It’s called our Vision Builders dinner. During the course of the week leading up to the event, I had been reading Exodus 33 where Moses on being commanded to leave Sinai demanded of God that he wouldn’t go anywhere without His presence. Let’s have a look at the passage: “Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2017 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net We hit winter last week. Here in Australia, winter officially starts 1 June. We've had a mild autumn (or 'fall' for you North American folks) and it's only in the last two weeks when the temperature at night has fallen below ten degrees celsius. I typically enjoy winter as here in Sydney it's mostly mild and relatively dry. As I’ve grown older I’ve come to appreciate our lives, like the weather, can be full of different seasons. Typically, a new season starts when there’s a change in our circumstances. Generally, the new season comes about through some major change. What I find interesting about such new seasons is the impact they can have on our conversations and areas of interest. For the first time in our almost 25 years together, both my wife and I are not working in the Corporate world. We... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2017 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of namakuki at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Being a SUMITE is full of interesting conundrums that can at times lead to much discouragement. One of these conundrums is our commitment to various Christian communities. I use the plural here to reflect both the church we attend plus other relationships (one-on-one and group) that we may partake in. As we’ve discussed before, sometimes our commitments can have a significant impact on our partners. Frustration, discouragement, isolation and sheer anger are some of the feelings our partners experience. These emotions naturally flow into our marriages and can cause our partners and us much stress. Lack of Interest A common refrain we often hear from our partners is a lack of interest in our faith journey. So our church attendance, content shared at meetings, etc just aren’t of interest. There’s a chunk of our lives that is pivotal to us that our partners are... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2017 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of ikpro and FreeDigitalPhotos.net Aren’t you loving Lynn’s Holy Week reflections? I feel a little like an interloper with my post this week but as I sought the Lord on what to post I kept coming back to: HOPE. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” (John 11:25) Death is not the end. The story is not over on Good Friday. Jesus defeats death and is resurrected on Easter Sunday and in so doing gives us the opportunity to have relationship with the Father. Not just now but forever. We have an eternal hope. Desire for Connection I’d never really considered the significant number of intimate moments that occur during this week that is often called “Passion Week”. I was drawn to them by a couple of posts I read. Let’s look at some of them:... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2017 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Lynn and Dineen are supplying such wonderful teaching and inspiration that I sensed the Lord simply wanted to encourage us today. We can get caught up striving during Lent. Have you felt that pull? To be working harder at getting something more out of this season as we approach Holy Week and Easter. To feel closer to the Lord, to be different. Yes? I hear little whispers suggesting there should be something more. Heart Preparation Giving up things and applying greater focus to spiritual disciplines is a good thing. “Disciplines are not the answer; they only lead us to the Answer.” (Richard Foster) They’re helping open our heart, a spring clean if you will, so that we can experience more of Him. Meditation Today may I suggest you spend less time focusing on the process of Lent, the giving up and doing stuff,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2017 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of gubgib/FreeDigitalPhotos.net As I’ve grown older I’ve come far more accepting of my mess. Not the physical one (I’m actually quite a tidy person) but the one in my heart and mind. We’ve all got some of it. One of the joys of Lent is intentionally spending time doing a spring-clean, self-examination in the presence of the Lord to identify areas of our life where sin and/or negative habits have taken up residence. Sin clings "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2017 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of James Barker/Free DigitalPhotos.net We’re all familiar with the often-repeated comment that Jesus didn’t give the disciples a lesson on anything but how to pray. And this lesson came in amongst His great message: the Sermon on the Mount – “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”(Matthew 6:5-6 NIV) This gave us the notion of the secret place. The place we go to meet with Jesus. For many of us we have a regular habit of going into a room (I do,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2017 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage