Saturday, 31 December 2016

New Year Freedom Cry

As 2016 draws to a close and I reflect on the disappointments, grief, worries, joys, precious moments of 2016; my mind starts to shift to looking forward.

In 2016 I lost a dear friend who consistently encouraged me to live in freedom, in grace, to enjoy God and to enjoy being loved by God!  Every time we met we seemed to compare our journeys from the default of law into the fullness of God's grace. We often compared struggles, disappointments, joys and sorrows. He would often talk of that moment in that famous film when Mel Gibson complete with war paint would cry 'FREEDOM' - this is my cry as I enter 2017. In the past I have made new year's resolutions only to feel that I then began the year with a weight on my shoulders and anticipation of messing up! My verse for the start of 2017 has been on repeat in my head over this last week - it is Galatians 5:1 and it says this:-

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
I don't want to put myself under a yoke of expectations, goals, desires etc as I enter 2017. Of course there are things I would love to see happen but you know this year my resolution is simply three words 'Freedom in Christ' - He did it all that I may be free, that I may have life and have it to the full. All my concerns, desires, disappointments, delights, struggles, griefs, joys, sorrows and tears I simply lay at His feet at the outset of the year. For freedom Christ has set me free!

Monday, 21 November 2016

Yo-Yo days

This morning on my way to work I found myself reflecting on the last month or so.  It has been a strange season for me on so many levels. There have been highs, lows, unsettling days and days where I have felt quite stretched.  I found myself comparing the last weeks to that of a yo-yo! Days where I have felt close to God, happy, safe and secure....... Other days I have felt stretched, out on a limb, scared, concerned, low, tearful. I thought about how a yo-yo moves - sometimes being held in the hand other times close to the hand and other times at full stretch, feeling distant, at the end of the rope - quite literally! 

As I thought about this I realised something quite special. No matter where the yo-yo is - close to the hand or at full stretch it is held securely; the hand holds it, the hand can bring it close, the hand can help when it feels in a mess.  It is like this with God - whether we are at full stretch, close, down, up, feeling messed up, feeling secure or out on a limb - He won't let you go. He holds you. He has the ability to bring you close, to reassure you, so no matter where you are as you read this remember His Father's hand is strong, constant and reliable! God bless!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Mud doesn't just fall off!

This week I struggled with some stuff. It was tough. I battled. I cried. I talked to Malcolm. As we talked I was saying how I didn't quite understand why I was feeling the way I was feeling; after all I know that God lifted me from the pit and set my feet upon a rock, and gave me a new song to sing (Psalm 40).  As we talked Malcolm reminded me that the pit in Psalm 40 is a slimy pit, full of mud and mire. He went on to ask me the last time I went for a walk in a muddy area did I return home with clean boots?

It was a precious revelation to me.....yes God has lifted me, He has done wonderful things in my life but some of the things that were in the pit still affect me.  Miry means very muddy / boggy. Slimy - covered in sludge, muck, mire, a thick and slippery substance.  I may be standing on the rock but some of those things mean I am not 100% sorted; I still struggle; I still battle; life is still hard........ BUT God is with me on the rock He won't fail, He won't leave me, He won't knock me back into the pit. So even when life is hard there is no need to condemn myself for not being in a better place....... There is still work to be done in cleaning me up after that pit, it was a deep pit, it was a hard place to be, it left marks on me, it even left wounds where I tried (unsuccessfully) to get myself out of the pit. But God lifted me out - He was the one that stooped down with love and grace and picked me out of that place and then put me on the rock, the firm place. He sees the marks and He cares. He knows I need time and He understands where I am at. There is NO condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Love your spouse challenge

So earlier this week I was tagged in the 'love your spouse' challenge. This is where you are challenged to post photos of yourself and your spouse for 7 days on Facebook and to also tag a friend each day asking them to do the same thing to celebrate love and marriage.

It is mid-way through this challenge that I pause.  I have to stop and reflect - all the pictures of me with my husband are taken at special time; on holiday, celebrations, Christmas, wedding, beautiful views, happy times - there are no pictures of us weeping together, on our knees together, when life has hurt the most we haven't pulled out the camera and said 'wahoo let's take a selfie!'  Social media can be a biased commodity of showing the best of life and not always the tough stuff!  The pictures we take are amidst celebration and happiness.
But here is the thing that gets me - because we have been through painful times together, because we have wept together, been on our knees together, hurt together, grieved together; we are still together. Do you get my heart?  Celebrating love and marriage is great but relationships come at a cost.  Vulnerability, openness, sharing heartache, walking through both the highs and the lows of life together.

Some people know this and some don't ....... but I am actually only alive today because of a faithful God and a faithful husband.  Malcolm's care for me through depression and some very dark days have kept me from doing something really stupid.  

So in the middle of this 'love your spouse' social media challenge where the pictures are fun and the smiles are real; just know that there is another side where tears have fallen, where days have been dark and where hand in hand we have faced the tough day.  Today I celebrate the tough days knowing that having come thus far that God will lead us onward. Together we pray, we grow, we struggle, we laugh, we weep, we praise, we are random (!), we face questions and work things through.  Behind the pictures is a deeper story where at times through our 21 years of married life the man standing next to me was the only one knowing how hard life was.  For all those currently going through life with a smiley front that all is well please make sure you share with your spouse (or if you are single share with a close friend).  I hope that my vulnerability here encourages you that you can get through whatever you face BUT remember you don't need to do it alone - I wouldn't be here without God and without Malcolm. God bless you whether your selfie today would be with smiles or tears. 

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Connected to the vine

Yesterday morning I was cutting back the vine in our garden. I was thinking about the whole passage in Scripture about He is the vine and we are the branches; I was thinking about the whole thing of abiding..... And then I noticed this....... When I cut the branches there were smaller offshoots holding on. They were tiny but the grip was so strong to separate the vine from the branch I couldn't just pull the branch away I had to cut the smaller shoots that wrapped themselves around.

So if you have been broken and you feel weak, insignificant or small then remember the phrase 'let the weak say they are strong'. When you are broken remember He still holds you. Take heart that He won't let you go! Truly blessed today as I reflected on how despite times in the past of feeling broken, weak, drifting and alone; I can look back and see that He never let me go!

God Will Make A Way

This morning on our way to Church we got talking........ We talked about how God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites, we talked about how God sent Jesus to make a way for salvation, how when Jesus died the curtain was torn in two from top to bottom so that we had a direct way into God's presence. As we talked a deep smile came from right within me and I turned to Malcolm and simply said 'Making a way is one of God's specialities' - a precious revelation today!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

A God of 180 degrees transformation

during worship this morning I was struck once again by the amazing transformation God does. The comparison of where I was and what He has done for me. Amazing God!

A God of transformation...... Life changing. God of the 180 degrees turn around. From fear to confidence. From lost to found. From trapped to freedom. From weak to strong. From anxious to having a peace-giver. From death to life. From lack to plenty. From poor to rich. From rags to splendour. From pit to mountain top. He has done it all. From destined for punishment to liberated. From deserving wrath to overwhelmed with love. From the gutter to the throne room. From orphan to adopted. From not being allowed to enter to free, unhindered access. My heart broken to restored, healed, forgiven, redeemed, saved to life; life in freedom; life in abundance; life in confidence in all that my Saviour achieved for me.
He has done it all, won it all, achieved it all, sealed it all, completed it all. Mighty mighty mighty. Holy holy holy. Worthy worthy worthy.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Bible on the Bible

At The Church we go to, Crawley Community Church, they have been doing a summer series on the Bible. I have really enjoyed the series so far and it got me thinking. What does the Bible say about the Bible, the Word of God? So I took some time looking at Scripture and this is what I came up with. It is not an exhaustive list but it really blessed me!

The Bible, God's Word is God-breathed, useful, it thoroughly equips, it trains, we need to keep His Word. The Word of God stands forever. His Word is worthy of praise! It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  The Word is living, active, sharper than a double edge sword. His Word is a lamp to our feet, a light for our pathway - it gives guidance and clarity.  It gives strength, it is trustworthy, it is to be delighted in, it keeps us from shame, it helps us not to sin.  It is something to long for, it gives us hope, it causes hearts to tremble. His Word is fruitful, it accomplishes what God wants it to, it gives life, it has an affect on us to the point others will rejoice when they see that affect!  His Word is the sword of the Spirit, signs accompany it, His Word should be held on to, it is a pleasure to those who listen to the Lord.  It is near us - in our speech and in our hearts.  God's Word is the source of life, a source of hope.  It is a life changer! It needs to be handled correctly.  In obeying the Word God's love is truly made complete in us.  It is sent forth by God, it is to be preached, it is for correction, teaching, rebuking, encouragement, is vital to be our source of guidance.  It is to be proclaimed, the Word was from the start; from the very beginning.  As we come to worship we need to prepare our hearts to hear the Word.  Tradition can nullify God's Word in our lives - don't go on what was handed down to you - use His Word as the original source!  Worries and worldliness have a direct impact on its fruitfulness.  When the Word is in us we can't contain it - it burns in our hearts!  God's Word is not to be despised, it should not be rejected. It is fulfilled by the Lord.  The Word of God will not expire, cease or pass away - it will stand forever, it is eternal!

Wow! These are the Scriptures I consulted in this summary..... 2 Tim 3:16, 1 Kings 13:21, Luke 21:33, 1 Sam 15:26, Lam 2:17, Numb 15:31, 1 Chron 10:13, Jer 20:9, Mark 4:19, Mark 7:13, Jer 7:2,Ps 107:20, 2 Tim 4:2, 2 Tim 2:15, 1 John 2:5, James 1:18, Matt 4:4, Ps 130:5, Jer 6:10, 2 Thess 2:15, Rom 10:8, Eph 6:17, Mark 16:20, Eph 6:17, Pro 4:4, Is 55:10-11, Ps 119:6, 11, 14, 16, 28, 42, 74, 105, 114, 133, 161, Heb 4:12, Is 40;8, Ps 56:4

Sunday, 7 August 2016

God neither slumbers nor sleeps!

I had one of those nights where I kept waking up and then being awake really early. I lie in bed thinking of my need for sleep and rest and God's complete 'otherness.' He is beyond the requirement of sleep. After hours we NEED sleep - I can't continue to function, but God doesn't have that problem. No matter what time of day or night you will find Him ready to listen - check out Psalm 121:3 - He neither slumber nor sleeps!!!

God is always available! In life we have people around us that also have an element of being always available to us (limited availability though) - my husband often says if you need me in the night wake me. It was something he said to me frequently when I was going through depression and some dark seasons in my life.  But get this is you can - waking a person up in the middle of the night often disorientates them, it isn't a welcome interruption to their night. What amazes me is that when we go to God - no matter the hour, situation, context or attitude- He, Father God, is delighted to hear our voice to spend that time communing with Him. He is above willing to listen- He is thrilled to listen! He gives you His full attention! Once I woke Malcolm up and asked him to pray for me- he wasn't really awake but his prayer quickly turned to jibberish as he began praying about a quiche!!!!! I laughed but you know Jesus intercedes on our behalf - awake in the night hour or the early hours He will be there to hear you, to speak to you. He loves it! Your God neither slumbers nor sleeps!

Monday, 11 July 2016

The Unseen Battle

This post comes from something that someone said to me recently.  Being relatively new to a church, folks don't know me and are probably still trying to work us out!

But for me there is an unseen battle when it comes to praying out in gatherings of more than a small homegroup, of sharing in a meeting any bigger than a few people.  For many years my confidence was low.  To say something in public is not 'safe' - it was an area where I tried to protect myself as much as possible.  However there has been much encouragement over years from others to have confidence when God laid something on my heart to open my mouth - it's about Him and not me!  The battle prior to opening my mouth in a meeting is one of 'Is it right? Is it God? Does it fit? Does it glorify God? Is it helpful?  Is it in the flow of what the Spirit is doing right now in this meeting?' My thoughts do overtime!  Very often I will whisper to Malcolm if it is something to share and see if he nods - he is part of helping me with the summoning the confidence step to move - I trust him and know that he will tell me if something doesn't fit.

But there is another battle which usually comes after I pray or speak out - it is a harsh and personal battle - one of condemnation over some of my past journey. Voices that seem to point out everything wrong with sharing. A cloud often gathers over me after I have spoken out.  I have truly appreciated folks telling me if something I shared has encouraged, spoken to or blessed them - but simply because it helps me to know that I have heard right and that encouragement keeps me asking God what is on His heart.

I have often joked with Malcolm that it is a lose / lose situation for me - if I don't open my mouth then I feel condemnation that God gave me something and I didn't act on bringing it and if I do open my mouth there is a heaviness that it wasn't right or condemnation!

For me I know when it isn't me - my heart will beat in my head before I speak - something I really can't manufacture.  It is a real sense of 'this isn't me' but I still have to rally the courage and open my mouth or move from my seat.  Immediately after I will be quite shakey and have to take a moment to calm myself and breathe.  Often Malcolm will whisper something like 'that was spot on' or 'you are ok' just words of encouragement.  Folks don't see and don't know this personal battle - it is unseen often unspoken except between me and my husband.

Today I wonder what others see - an emotional woman praying or speaking out - not realising the nerves, fear, anxiety and courage that are all mixed underneath as I open my mouth!?  Part of my learning and walk with God is having a soft heart to listen and then obey........... but what happens when someone speaks something that causes you to think that you should not contribute?  What about those days when you hear many encouragements and then one discouragement whose voice is louder than all the positive comments.  I have thought about this a lot in the last day - hearing what someone thinks personally and at the same time as taking on board their comments remembering that if God lays something on my heart then I have a responsibility to speak that out.  May we continually seek God before we open our mouths in meetings, before we pray or share.  Let's be in step with Him - walk / run at His pace!

I wonder if others have the same sort of battle and if it too is unseen..................

Monday, 6 June 2016

Constant Refuge Area

On Saturday Malcolm and I were on the motorway and we drove past a sign that said 'Emergency Refuge Area.'  We got talking about the verse in Psalm 46:1 'God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.'  We smiled as we thought about how God is a constant refuge - whether we are in a state of emergency or not.  We chatted about how He doesn't just act as somewhere to shelter, to phone for help, to pull aside from the flow of life and traffic but that He is more than just a constant hard shoulder on the motorway but that He is like having a full time pit crew, service station, every facility, every need you may have can be met - His resources are limitless and they are all just there.  There is no queuing, there is no wondering, He is a CONSTANT and totally 100% able and reliable refuge!

Our conversation moved on to the words in that verse which has been so precious to us across many years - the words refuge, strength and help and how the verse would sound if we emphasised the full meaning of those words.  This is what we came up with:-

God is our refuge, hideaway, place of safety, safe haven, shelter, protection, security, retreat, hiding place, place of safe keeping, place of peace, our place where we are free from danger and our strength, stability, power, our source, our constant robust God, solid ground, our might, our energy; an ever-present help, aid, assistance, the leg up we need, our rescuer, our Saviour, our solution, comfort, support, advisor, encouragement and guidance in trouble.

Be encouraged today that your God is an ever-present totally constant, consistent, always there kind of a God - He is there in emergencies but He is also there for the every day!!!! Hallelujah!

Monday, 18 April 2016

Look Up!

Last week my computer at work wouldn't work.  I switched off to reboot it - I am one of those people that always turns off something and restarts it if it doesn't work properly the first time!  As I waited for my computer to close down and restart I looked out of my window.  This is what I was looking at:

I began to feel that God was speaking to me as this was the bigger picture that morning:

I felt like God was telling me to shift my focus; to look up, to look at His beauty.  My focus shifted, my view shifted and this became my view from my office window!

I went from feeling down to worshiping Him because He is altogether glorious!
Sometimes in life our focus is occupied with the tough situations, perhaps the mundane, the list of things to do, the cares and worries of our daily lives but if we just looked up all those things would become smaller in the light of our glorious God!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

When you can't see ahead

This morning I walked through the park to work.  It was a foggy morning and as I walked through the park I began to reflect that sometimes life is like this - we can only see so far and not beyond.  It struck me at times like that my confidence is not in the pathway, not in the fogbank but in the God that does not shift, change or alter.

I have often quoted the verse Psalm 119 verse 105 which says 'Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.'  Sometimes when I read God's Word it is a light to my pathway and I can see someway along the pathway; other times it is more that lamp unto my feet when I can literally just see the next step.

Through life Malcolm and I have seen times when God has lighted a pathway and other times when we have just literally seen the very next step.  Today as I walked through the park I was reminded that even when the future doesn't look altogether clear God remains faithful and He will guide even if it is just one step at a time!