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Ian Acheson
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Photo courtesy of Abel Tan Jun Yang at Pexels.com Hello dear friends. Ian, from a chilly Sydney here. First day of winter and the southern part of Australia has got caught in a cold snap that’s come up from Antarctica. Brrr … This is the final part in my little series on shifting our focus away from ourselves and setting it on Jesus. We’ve often talked about the challenges in our situations of being active participants in a Christian community. For many years, in fact too many, I chose to minimise my engagement in Christian community. As a result, I didn’t develop any meaningful relationships with other believers. I was doing life with Jesus alone. And it was hard work. God’s a Community God is communal in His very nature- three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And we are formed in His image. We were made to be communal.... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2022 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photos courtesy of Pexels.com/ron-lach Over the past couple of months I’ve been sharing some thoughts on how we shift our focus away from our busyness and ourselves to refocus on Jesus. In my first post, we shared about meditating on Scripture and the second one in Holy Week was about the power and wonder of Stillness. This time around I wanted to share about a practice that I’ve taken on more conscientiously this year … Sabbath rest. “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life” (Dallas Willard) I’ve read that quote from Dallas Willard, one of my favourite teachers, many times. Willard believed that hurry was “the great enemy of the spiritual life.” I think we can all testify to how challenging busyness is and how it can limit our time with God, and Christian friends. How frequently do you respond when someone asks ‘how are you’ with something along the lines... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2022 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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This is one of my favourite weeks of the year. Walking with Jesus to Easter, to be reminded once again of His sacrifice for us and the hope His life, death and resurrection give us. Daily Events Years ago, I read the four Gospels to follow along with the 8 days of Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday, and culminating in Easter Sunday, the Resurrection. It was a fun experience as I was able to read the different passages each Gospel writer used to describe the various events. On Easter Monday, Jesus leaves Bethany, the house of his great friends: Martha, Mary and Lazarus, to go back to Jerusalem. It’s the day he walks past a fig tree that has no fruit and also the day He cleared the temple. Focus on Jesus I don’t want to reflect on those events even though both have significant meaning but rather to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2022 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo by Italo Melo from Pexels A month ago, I wrote this post about shifting focus onto Jesus. Why do we want to focus more on Jesus? Because in discovering how to continually draw close to God, we learn how to let go of control which helps us to worry less and to love more. And now I start fulfilling my commitment to you on how to do it. Well, on some ways I've found to do it. :) Lent starts Today! It’s significant that this post lands on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Perhaps you don’t pay much attention to Lent. And that’s okay. Lent marks the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness and perhaps more significantly, as we journey through this season, we begin to appreciate with greater understanding the gift of Jesus' death. I love Lent as it helps me shift my focus.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2022 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo by Ethan Sees from Pexels Happy New Year, my friends. I know it’s now February. Wow, where did January go? But this is my first post of 2022. I’m so looking forward to this year. Where is our Focus? A new year often brings new beginnings, new hopes, new challenges. Often it simply brings more of the same just in a new year. We can get caught up in channelling our focus and our thoughts on newness or on the existing. For those of us who can grapple with anxiety or worry, we can continue to allow ourselves to focus on the worries or the fears or the things that are making us anxious. For many of us SUMites, the mismatched nature of our marriage will often feature prominently in our thoughts. Will 2022 be the year we see breakthrough? Will our partner find the Lord? And what if... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2022 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net I’ve always loved December. Living in Australia, it’s summer, the end of the school year so we always had our long summer break over December/January. It’s also my birthday month and … it’s Christmas. I still recall those days approaching Christmas when the presents used to begin to pile up under the tree. Most of them were for dad, he’s a doctor and all his patients bought him presents. Every year. But my sister and two brothers were more excited by what Santa would put in the pillow slips that sat at the end of our beds. We’d struggle to sleep we were that excited. But mom always warned us that Santa wouldn’t arrive until we were fast asleep. And then when we woke, far too early for mom and dad, we’d have to wait until they arose before we could open all the goodies in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2021 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of Phil_Bird at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Hi all, Ian from Sydney, Australia here once again. I’m coming off a hectic month of caring for my parents. Both have been in hospital and as lockdown restrictions eased, we’ve been able to have minimal visitation access which has been great so one or two of us can get to see them. This has also involved constant updates with doctors, social workers and keeping the rest of the family informed. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a season I treasure but it can be tiring work, simply because of its 24X7 nature. During this period, for example, I’ve received phone calls at 6am, 10.15pm and at Sunday lunch with friends. In addition, we made the decision with Mom to move her into a nursing home, the same as Dad’s. We all agreed it’s just time. Even though Mom doesn’t want to relinquish her independence,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2021 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Ann’s most recent post has lingered in my mind for a few days and I thought I’d reflect a little more on it. If that’s okay? Ian here from a sunny Sydney. We have those between a rock and a hard place moments don’t we? As I think I’ve shared a few times before, one of Fiona’s biggest fears is that she’ll become a ‘church widow’. There was a time a few years back when I attended a couple of prayer meetings a week on top of my Sunday commitments and whenever you have some form of leadership responsibility, pastoring and caring for those you lead takes added time. Crunch Time Like Ann mentioned, our partner reaches a point when it’s all too much. And I especially feel for you ladies because as I’ve said a few times over the years, for many... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2021 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of tiverylucky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Hello dear friends, Ian from sunny locked down Sydney. If you’ve followed my recent posts at the beginning of each month there’s been this consistent theme of connecting with God in the ordinariness of our day. For years, I think I often sought God in the big moments, hoping to receive some huge revelation or witness some ecstatic event in a church service. I do believe such moments occur but increasingly, I’ve found that living in the moment, irrespective of what I’m doing, is where I sense God’s presence. Pleasant Surprises A couple of weeks ago, I took Dad to an appointment with a new specialist whose clinic we hadn’t visited before. Both of us were a little anxious because of not knowing what was in store. As we walked into the waiting room, I said quietly, ‘Lord, you are here.’ Immediately, I relaxed... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2021 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Hello, everyone. Ian from Sydney here. Last month I wrote a post on the seeking to live in the unforced rhythms of grace by taking on the Lord’s easy yoke. Increasingly, I’m discovering how important it is especially amongst the everyday stresses and strains that we all experience. Accordingly, I wanted to reflect a little more on living such a life. Beholding “We become what we behold” – William Blake My word of the year is ‘Behold” and it doesn’t take long to understand the truth in it. The more time we spend thinking about something, focusing on something, the more entrenched it becomes in our minds. It’s now commonly acknowledged in science that the more beholding we do the more it will affect our thought patterns, our feelings and behaviours. Addiction behaviour is often a reflection simply of beholding something too frequently... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2021 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of hin255 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Hello, dear friends. Ian from a very chilly Sydney. I’m hoping those of you in the northern hemisphere are having lovely vacation time in warmer climes. We just finished a marvellous series from Ann on slaying giants. I was particularly grabbed by Ann’s idea of taking hold of 5 stones (like teenage David) as a weapon against our giants. In my comment to that post I mentioned my 5 stones. I wanted to explore one of them a little further in this post. Stress and anxiety For several years now I’ve been a significant carer for my elderly parents. They’ve both recently spent some time in hospital and delightfully were housed a few rooms away from each other. Mom is now home, and Dad is being discharged as you read this post. I’m continually surprised how draining it is. Managing the hospital staff, my... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2021 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of SawBear at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Hi! Ian from wintry Down Under. Love! It tends to be something we compartmentalize, don’t we? It’s how we feel about our spouse and children, our parents and there’s this industry around romance, the books and movies. Strangely, or perhaps not so, it’s actually not talked about a lot. When asked what I’m writing about, people often give me strange looks when I mention it’s a book about love. “It’s unusual for a man to talk and write about love,” said a lady I met picking my mom up from a dental appointment when I happened to mention what I’m writing about. I will often squirm when I’m sharing it with a new group of people especially one only of men. I get these strange looks and the subject quickly changes because it’s an uncomfortable subject. Why is it something we find uncomfortable discussing... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2021 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Happy 15 years dear SUMites. Ian here from Sydney, Australia. I thought I’d share how I found this community that is very dear to me. Some of you may be familiar with my story but for all of you newbies you might find it interesting how a man from Down Under stumbled across this safe place. It was September 2012. I had always wanted to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference and having a publisher for Angelguard I thought it a useful way of building some momentum for its release a few months later. My wife and I combined it with a holiday to the US with the plan to attend the conference in DFW on our final leg before heading home. The conference had started, and I was having a ball meeting lots of fascinating authors including some of my heroes plus gaining a lot of useful... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2021 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of FAVPNG and workablequantit26 Hi Sumites, Ian here. Another Easter has passed. Ann led us through Holy Week and I thought I’d share some thoughts on one of the stories we read post Jesus’ resurrection. Thomas and his doubts When Jesus first appeared to the group of disciples in the Upper Room on Sunday night, Thomas was missing. Why? The Biblical accounts don’t tell us. In the days following, Thomas catches up with his friends, only to be informed that he missed the return of Jesus. Incredibly, he doesn’t believe them. Why would his friends mislead him? Why doesn’t Thomas trust their words? Thomas responds with his well-known statement: ““Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:24 NIV) Soon after, the disciples are all assembled in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2021 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of Janpen04081986 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Hello, dear SUMites, Ian from sunny Sydney. The world was turned on its head this time last year when the first people outside of China began to be diagnosed with this new virus strain which the medical community named COVID-19. The virus soon spread exponentially (a term that became part of our daily lexicon) throughout every land, borders in many countries were quickly shut and panic set in. A year later, some countries are still in the thick of it. Vaccines are being rolled out to the masses and everyone’s hoping and praying that by the end of 2021 the world might go back to normal. Lament The loss of life, both in terms of deaths but also change in daily routines, access to family and friends, loss of employment, and so on has been immense. The world has been crying out, ‘how long... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2021 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of blackzheep at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Hello, my SUMite friends. Ian, from Down Under here. I trust everyone is holding up okay under the continued stress of the global pandemic. It has sure been an unsettling time for all of us and finding ‘peace’ can be especially difficult. One of the blessings of the Beatitudes refers to being peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9). However, to be a peacemaker we first need to be able to receive peace. I know I often struggle to engage the peace that is already present inside us through Christ. If I’m grappling with some internal struggle or feelings of anger, fear, bitterness or lust I may hide these away instead of drawing closer to Jesus and engaging the peace that resides in me. Jesus Walking in the Room I love the scene in John 20, the day after Jesus’ resurrection, when the disciples are locked in the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2021 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of KAZITAFAHNIZEER at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Happy New Year, dear friends. Wow, 2021 has come upon us and for many of us it hasn’t been a great start with lockdowns, restrictions and political chaos. I’ve been thinking about this post for a few weeks now. In the past few years, I’ve shared my ‘word for the year’ in this first post. And guess what I’ll be doing that again. Interestingly, it also links in well with Ann’s previous post . I hadn’t given it much thought until I happened to reflect on some of the verses I’d been reading in my Advent readings. Two in particular caught my attention: The first is from Isaiah 11: “His delight is in the fear of the Lord.” (v3a). The ‘he’ the prophet is referring to is Jesus. The second is in Mary’s Magnificat in Luke 1. I’d encourage you to read Mary’s song.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2021 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
I’ve always loved December. Living in Australia, it’s summer, the end of the school year so we always had our long summer break over December/January. It’s also my birthday month and … it’s Christmas. I still recall those days approaching Christmas when the presents used to begin to pile up under the tree. Most of them were for dad, he’s a doctor and all his patients bought him presents. Every year. But my sister and two brothers were more excited by what Santa would put in the pillow slips that sat at the end of our beds. We’d struggle to sleep we were that excited. But mom always warned us that Santa wouldn’t arrive until we were fast asleep. And then when we woke, far too early for mom and dad, we’d have to wait until they arose before we could open all the goodies in those magical pillowslips. We... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2020 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles and FreeDigitalPhotos.net Hello, dear friends. Ian from sunny Sydney here. It’s a big few days in America with the election and we all around the world watch on eagerly with prayerful hearts. Recently, I came across a little-known Saint, Alphonsus Rodriguez, who lived in Spain in the 1500s. Rodriguez was in his 40s, a widower, with no children and a bankrupt, who on seeking to join a Jesuit monastery was told he was too old and too uneducated to become a priest. He was sent to a Jesuit College on the island of Majorca where he served as a porter and doorkeeper. He turned door-keeping into a sacramental duty. Every time the doorbell rang, he would say, “I’m coming, Lord!” and would then welcome the visitor as Christ himself. Many brilliant young priests passed through the college. Alphonsus welcomed each one lavishly and many of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2020 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of Multipedia and FreeDigitalPhotos.net Hello, Ian from Down Under here. I was fascinated to read Ann's Monday post about the history of SUM. And it brought back so many memories for me that I thought I'd go back in time and share my SUM beginnings. It was September 2012. I had always wanted to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference and having a publisher for Angelguard I thought it a useful way of building some momentum for its release a few months later. My wife and I combined it with a holiday to the US with the plan to attend the conference in DFW on our final leg before heading home. The conference had started and I was having a ball meeting lots of fascinating authors including some of my heroes plus gaining a lot of useful information. There was one particular workshop titled “How to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2020 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of Dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Hiya! Ian from Springtime Sydney. Yes, we in the Southern Hemisphere are beginning to experience the blooming of flowers, the tweeting of baby birds (and unwanted attacks while walking by overzealous magpies) and longer days. I was excited to know that Ann is to be leading us over the next month on a series on the great love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13. Hands up, how many of us had this read at our weddings? Mine is up. Interestingly, my wife, though not a believer and hence not a reader of the Bible, thought this chapter to be such a wonderful explanation of ultimate love and therefore, was very happy to have it read at our nuptials. To be honest, by that time I was a little over 1 Corinthians 13 having read it and heard it so many times over the years. My... Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2020 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
Hello, dear Sumites. Ian from Down Under here. In this challenging year, it’s very easy to hop on the blame bandwagon and start griping about everything and anything. Life as we know it has been turned upside down and really the ‘new normal’ is still so uncertain. What will life be like in 2021, which is less than 6 months away now? But the world has been here before. Sure, not in of our lifetimes, but in 1917-18 the Spanish flu pandemic was similarly crazy and in some places in the world, churches were shut for over a year. But they didn’t have such a thing as online church that allows us to worship at the top of our voices in our homes. Who we are God is love. That is His very essence. Love. Everything God creates is out of love. And His great mission is one of love.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2020 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of Rob D and FreeDigitalPhotos.net Dear SUMite friends, Ian from wintry Sydney here. It's just turned July 1 here and it's incredible that half the year has already passed. Who could have anticipated what would go down this year? As I've mentioned previously, the Lord put on my heart the word, 'Awakening', in January but I had absolutely no sense of what that meant. Much has occurred for me personally, but it pales compared to all the global events. Awakening There is an awakening happening across the globe and it's important for us to hold on to the belief that God is in charge. And good has come out of these difficult times and will continue to I expect for years to come. Life for all of us is going to look different for a while, isn't it. Everything we're used to (outside of our homes) is having... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2020 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net What a year 2020 has been so far! Ian from wintry Sydney here. Be assured that those of us who don’t live in America are weeping for the people of that great nation and we continue to cry out to God believing for a wave of peace to sweep across that great land. As Ann shared on Monday, it was Pentecost Sunday this past weekend. For a few months now many millions from all around the globe have been believing for a shaking, a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit and increased boldness amongst believers to share the good news of Jesus. What we do know is that more people have been praying, more people have been attending online church services and more people have been declaring Jesus as their Savior. Hallelujah. Hope in the Waiting “The LORD is good to those who wait... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2020 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of Suriya Kankliang and FreeDigitalPhotos.net Hello, dear friends. Ian from Down Under, here. Another month passes, another month where the majority of us are still in some form of lockdown due to COVID-19. It’s fascinating that we are all in this experience together and that God created us for this season. This is our moment. God made each one of us and our particular gifts and callings for this moment in time. As challenging as this season is, I get excited when I reflect on this season through this fresh lens. He has our Attention I saw a fabulous Instagram post a few weeks from a famous retired wrestler, Hulk Hogan. It said something along the lines of: every idol we worship (athletes, music, actors, money, business, church) has been shut down and all we’re left with is the ONLY thing that matters: Jesus, so focus on Him.... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2020 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage