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Ian Acheson
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Photo courtesy of Tara Winstead and Pexels Hello, Ian from Sydney here. As many of you might recall, I’ve been reading the Psalms most days for the last few years. I’ve now forgotten how long it’s been as I never tire of their goodness, wisdom, and passion. As you’d expect, across 150 psalms, most of which are written by only a handful of people, there would be words, phrases, and concepts repeated. Two of the words I find often repeated and sometimes together are the notions of God’s ‘steadfast love’ and ‘faithfulness’. Some Psalms even repeat them several times in the same Psalm. Psalms 31, 32 and 33 in the ESV are great for the repetition of both words. Choose to Remember Many times in our lives we find ourselves in a similar situation to one that occurred previously. For example, a friend of mine has recently retired from teaching... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2024 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of Adrian Cogua at Pexels.com Hi everyone, Ian from Sydney here. How was your Easter? We hope it was full of goodness and happiness, especially with the wonderful message of the Resurrection. Jesus is Risen! Easter has passed for another year. What happens now? Did the message of the Resurrection change anything in our lives? Is anything different in our hearts and/or lives since Maunday Thursday, less than a week ago? Maybe? Maybe not? Why not take a few moments simply to reflect on what’s going on in your heart now. Check in with yourself to see how you are? Perhaps jot a few notes in your journal or phone. Peace is Available I love the scene in John 20, the night of Jesus’ resurrection. The disciples are locked in the Upper Room terrified the Jewish leaders are going to break down the door and haul them away.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2024 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Holy Week. It’s one of my favourite weeks of the year, but also one filled with sadness. It reminds me of Lectio 365’s Lenten Evening Meditation which they title, “Bright Sadness”. I find the week is a microcosm of life with Jesus. We journey with Him, suffer death, wait for something to happen, and then there is newness in a resurrection of some sort. It’s good to walk gently through this week and linger. I was reminded of this when I read Ann Voskamp’s post this morning where she writes: “Those looking for something sacred travel slow. Those looking for the holy linger.” Linger with Jesus. However, you do this, but reading his Word is a great place to start. I enjoy reading the week’s liturgy as they walk you through Jesus’s week. We experience him entering Jerusalem on a donkey, him clearing out the temple, Mary’s wonderfully beautiful blessing... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2024 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Happy New Year, dear SUMites. We trust your Christmas went well and you’ve stepped into the New Year, yes, it’s 2024, positively. Photo courtesy of James Wheeler and pexels.com As a quick side note, the world often expects us to charge into the new year but after a usually busy December, I find it’s often good to gently step into it. Our souls need it. I’d encourage us all to set aside some time to meet with the Lord and simply rest in His presence. Take some time, if you are able, to simply be peaceful with the lover of our souls. Let Him replenish and refresh you as only he can. New Beginnings For much of December as I walked through Advent, I was reminded that when Jesus entered the world as a babe, He brought something new. Himself. And in many unexpected ways. He continues to offer us... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2024 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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As some of you may recall I’ve been observing the season of Advent now for many years. Hi, it’s Ian from warming up Sydney. Photo courtesy of Lil Artsy and Pixels.com Advent means “arrival”. Interestingly, the arrival, Jesus as a babe, occurs on the last morning of Advent, ie, Christmas morning. And then of course, the season encourages us also to reflect on the Second Coming of Christ. How do we Wait? We know waiting, don’t we SUMites? Besides the everyday matters on which we wait, we also wait for our partners to discover Jesus. To experience their own ‘advent’ of sorts. And we wait. For some of us, it’s been a long time. “Every good arrival is preceded by a waiting, a suspension, a liminal moment.”1 We place our hope in that good arrival. It’s fascinating that the Gospel of Luke starts with the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2023 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of Pexels.com and Matheus Bertelli Hello! Ian from sunny Sydney here. In the last few days, I’ve been reflecting on my observations of the group of us who joined Ann and Lynn for a few days of fellowship and attending the Bethel conference last month. One point particularly struck me: we need each other. Both within the SUMite community and wider church community in which we may participate. 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 church life. 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... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2023 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Ian from sunny Sydney here. Spring is here, Down Under and the flowers are beginning to blossom as the temperature increases. Photo courtesy of Mikhail Nilov and Pexels.com We’re a little sad in our house at present. Fiona and I were off on a holiday last week, but I injured my back, and it didn’t make sense for us to travel. Besides the pain of the travel, I would have been limited in what I could do as my back slowly heals. This isn’t a new thing for me – as I’ve gotten older, these episodes occur every couple of years. Unfortunately, this time was particularly inopportune. BTW, my back is slowly improving, and I have some plans in place to hopefully minimise future episodes. Stuff Happens We’re often disappointed, aren’t we? Things aren’t turning out the way they should be or how we hoped they would? We probably all... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2023 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of Malene Leppanen at Pexels.com Hello, dear SUMites, Ian from sunny Sydney. I trust you’re all doing well and for those of you in the northern hemisphere are managing the heatwaves that many countries have been experiencing. Ann and I thought we’d share a little on friendships based on my last post on spending time with Jesus. Ann will follow up this post about female friendships. In that previous post, I made the following comment: “For many men friendships aren’t something we prioritise. And even if we do, we might find people we are seeking to be friends with don’t prioritise it so it’s all a bit lopsided.” For years, I didn’t really enjoy my male friendships because they tended to be very transactional in nature. I also felt ‘different’ and struggled a lot with own self-image as a man. It’s only in recent years as I’ve come... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2023 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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What a great introduction we’ve had from both Lynn and Ann on this wonderful epistle of Paul’s. Ann mentioned how much I love Ephesians and one of the reasons is that Paul is prayerful throughout it. It starts with a prayer, includes a couple of great prayers (chapter 1 and 3) and then ends with prayer. And I love to pray! Now we come to Chapter 3. I want to focus on the prayer that ends this chapter because it’s one of my favourites and one I pray often. The First Half The chapter starts with Paul sharing how God told Paul to bring the gospel to everyone, and not just to the Jews. As we know this caused a dispute with the disciples and Paul (with the Spirit’s help) had to win them over. As Paul states in verse 6, the Gospel is for everyone, and is ‘welcoming to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2023 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo provided courtesy of Lisa Folios at Pexels.com Hi Ian from Down Under here. It’s getting colder here in Sydney. But our winters are typically pretty mild and often quite dry as well which makes them very pleasant so long as there’s a heater not too far away if the temperature suddenly drops. I read the above question the other day. It’s a great question as it makes you think all sorts of things, doesn’t it? Things such as: - When did I last time with Jesus? - Have I ever spent time with Jesus? - You mean, in church, right? - I’m not sure how to spend time with Jesus. - How do you answer such a question? Friendship I expect this question would be easier to answer when we think about spending time with our spouse, our children, and our friends. Whether the answer is an affirmative or... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2023 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Ann, thank you for guiding us through Holy Week. It’s such a good practice as others have mentioned in the comments to deliberately walk through each day alongside Jesus. Now it’s Wednesday. A quiet day. Well, it is in the Scriptures but there was still a lot of activity, some in public and some of it in secret. A day Jesus’ enemies plot against him. We’ll get to that in a moment. Jesus Teaches (Luke 21:37-38) As he has done each day so far Jesus leaves Bethany to travel to Jerusalem to teach in the temple. Remember, there are millions of people in Jerusalem for the Passover Festival and Jesus is taking every opportunity to teach as many people as He can. What do you think it would have been like in Jerusalem this week? I’m not good in crowds but the opportunity to hear Jesus would be something special,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2023 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of MinAn at Pexels.com Hello, Ian from sunny Sydney. Lent started last Wednesday 22 February with Ash Wednesday. It’s a season that marks the 40 days leading up to Easter, mirroring the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness. Accordingly, it’s a season when we have an opportunity to consider that we too are sent into a wilderness of sorts by the Holy Spirit so that we can draw closer to Him and deepen our faith. Repentance Often, much of this season can be spent on penitence which can be misconstrued as an emphasis on our sinfulness. As we know when Jesus stepped out of the wilderness His first words were: “The time has come; the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.” (Mark 1:15 NIVUK) This is an invitation to turn our lives around; that’s the meaning of ‘metanoia’ which is the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2023 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of Karolina Grabowska at Pexels.com Hello, everyone. Ian, from hot and humid Sydney here. One of our challenges as SUMites is the spiritual welfare of our children. I know for many of us it causes us a great deal of angst for a host of reasons but one that often raises itself in our situations is the lack of support (sometimes downright discouragement) in being able to have our kids attend church/Sunday school. I’m not wanting to focus on the attendance matter in this post, rather, what we, as parents can always being doing irrespective of whether our kids attend any structured Christian activity. Pray! Praying Mom (and Dad!) When we were young, Mom asked the four of us to attend Sunday School at a nearby church. Mom always asked us to give new things a go. Try them for 6 months and if you don’t like it,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2023 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Happy New Year, dear SUMites. I do hope you all had a blessed time with loved ones over the Christmas/New Year period. And now we Fast. It’s become the traditional way we SUMites start our years. It’s a great way as individuals to draw closer to God and doing it together can deepen that experience and strengthen our bonds as a group. Transition Seasons “We become what we behold” – William Blake I think I shared this Blake quote in a previous post as it’s become one of my favourites over the years. During Advent, I was drawn to the notion of how we spend our time while we wait; Advent, of course being a season of waiting. I mentioned last time in my Advent post that I’m presently in a season of transition. Looking forward to what the next season in my life holds having spent much of the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2023 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of lil artsy from Pexels.com Hello, Ian here from sunny Sydney. It’s summertime here and we’ve had a lovely few weeks of great sunny weather. It’s incredible how quickly the year has passed as we’re now only 2.5 weeks away from Christmas. For many of us 2022 has been a tough year, perhaps another year in a long season of tough years. As a result, many of us may be simply pushing through to Christmas with gritted teeth, avoiding the shops by making their purchases online, and hanging out for the beginning of a new year wishing for a brighter new start in 2023. It may be a real struggle to experience any real joy at present. If this is you, may I encourage you to take some time out. Close the door behind you or go out for a walk, sit on a rock looking at something... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2022 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hello, everyone and welcome to this short series on reading the Bible. I’m excited to learn as much as I can and have the honour of kicking us off with my own Bible-reading habits. I would suggest my Bible reading is a little eclectic. I read passages from the Bible every day in some form or other. These days, I rarely read a book of the Bible from start to finish (with one exception) tending to focus on specific topics or passages that my other reading has led me to. The Psalms The one exception is the Book of Psalms which I tend to continuously read from start to finish using some form of ‘guide’ to prompt my reading. At present, I’m working through a book called “Openings” which each day introduces the reader to a saint or sage and works through the 150 Psalms over the course of a... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2022 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of Cottonbro and Pexels.com Having just read Ann’s Monday post on guilt I thought I’d share a post I’ve shared a couple of times over the last 10 years. As this month, it’s my 10-year anniversary of finding this community. 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 workshop titled “How to Market Your Fiction Like a non-Fiction... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2022 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of Pexels.com and Anderson Guerra Hello, Ian here. Fiona and I planted a lemon tree two or three years ago. And this year, we discovered we had some fruit, tiny green lemons. The yellow comes later. Gradually they grew a bit more each day, week and month. And then the colour began to change from green to yellow. That took months too. Recently we picked them. Almost fully yellow lemons. We juiced the first one and it was nice and tart as a good lemon should be. Productivity and Fruitfulness We live in a world where achievement is highly recognised and rewarded. From an early age we are encouraged to be better, do better and achieve much in whatever field we choose to follow. It’s very hard for us to get away from wanting to keep up with the joneses. Even in things like our marriages and our... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2022 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Photo courtesy of Pexels.com and Scott Webb Ian from wintry Sydney here. Happy 4th of July for all my American friends. Fiona and I were reflecting the other night how ‘play’ has changed so much for our children and grandchildren. Being born in the 1960s and growing up in the 1970s, we’d spend hours and hours a day playing. Swimming in the pool, riding our bikes with our friends, exploring the wonders and joys of the bushland, or simply using our imaginations to make up games and stories using basic objects like clothes pegs, shoe boxes and so on. What fun! Life growing up was pretty simple. We didn’t need much money or things, just an active imagination and a willingness to experiment. We entertained ourselves. The all-pervasive nature of electronic entertainment is so addictive for us all and our children. We have a plethora of screens to choose from... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2022 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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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