Looking Back and Looking Forward…

So it’s almost my birthday again. How does that happen? Time really does go so fast.

And the Lord has been encouraging me of how faithful He has been through my life, and how encouraging that is for the future.

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Looking back over my life, I can see one strong, consistent, wonderful reality: a Best Friend Who has been with me and provided so very tenderly… so very faithfully… through thick and thin.

Even watching over me before I was born, alerting a seasoned midwife that I was in the wrong position in the womb and getting me safely out by emergency C-section.

And leading me to Himself. I was so blessed to go to Sunday School, where I learned that I was a sinner who faced eternal judgement and needed a Saviour- and that Jesus would save me when I came to Him and asked for His forgiveness, surrendering to follow Him as Lord. I did that, repeatedly, when I was tiny.

And I remember, one day, when He met me. He broke in with such love. I’d been at church that morning, listening to the children’s talk. Our faithful pastor was teaching us the words of a song about Jesus. That night, lying in bed, I started singing it to myself… and suddenly, I was aware of something so good; so pure: the presence of the Lord. I didn’t know what was happening. I was so young, and it had never happened before. But I know now. It was Him. That was probably when I fell in love with Jesus.

And He has been my Best Friend ever since.

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I’m trying to write a song about  it. It’s not done yet, and not all ready to share, but here are some sections:

I was just a little girl when I fell in love.

I encountered love so strong and true.

You wooed me when you came to me 

And called me to Yourself

And ever since that moment I’ve been Yours.

And through the joys and the tears of childhood,

I always knew where to go.

That the answer is always to trust in You

Cos Jesus is the Best Friend in the world.

Yes, Jesus is the Best Friend in the world.

 

And faithfully You’ve stayed with me

With love beyond my dreams.

You’re mine for now and You’re mine

Forever. I am Yours eternally.

 

And as I grew I came to find

A Rock beneath my feet.

This messy girl knew where her heart could hide.

Through every trouble, every trial, You were always there.

Lord, I found the answers in Your arms.

And through the mess and confusion of growing

There was a love that never let me go.

You loved me and counselled me. You never let me down.

Cos Jesus is the Best Friend in the world.

Yes, Jesus is the Best Friend in the world.

 

And faithfully You’ve stayed with me

With love beyond my dreams.

You’re mine for now and You’re mine

Forever. I am Yours eternally.

 

And as I walk forward through this life,

I know Your hand in mine.

You meet me. Lord, You comfort me. You care.

You open up Your loving hand. You meet my every need.

Through every tear and trial, Lord, You’re there.

And I know that the secret of living

Is to look up and live from Your arms.

Your love and provision is truly amazing

Cos Jesus is the Best Friend in the world

Yes, Jesus is the Best Friend in the Lord.

 

(And the hope of those who follow Him…)

 

And I am living for the day

When I will see Your face.

You’ll meet me and You’ll wipe my tears away.

You will be the Joy of joys. You are the Love we’ve craved.

Forever and forever, we’ll be Yours.

And the skies will split open with glory

As You reign- as You come for Your bride.

And we will be with You forever.

You will be the light of our eyes.

Jesus is the Love of our lives.

 

And faithfully You’ve stayed with me

With love beyond my dreams.

You’re mine for now and You’re mine forever.

I am Yours eternally.

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A few weeks ago, I was back in the old bedroom where I grew up, in the same spot where I encountered the Lord when I was tiny. I was feeling a bit afraid of the future. And the Lord encouraged me. He reminded me of that memory of when I encountered Him as a little girl. Haven’t I been faithful ever since you met Me? Haven’t I always been with you? Haven’t I always been all you need? Don’t you think I will be all you need for the future?

And it’s true. He has. Amazingly.

And that’s my confidence for the future.

32 years of the Lord’s faithfulness. And that’s my confidence that He will be just as faithful through the rest, so I can go forward in the same way, leaning on Him, hiding in Him, and knowing His faithfulness will never end and never, ever let me down. 🙂

‘For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.’ Psalm 139:13-16

(Come to Him. His arms are open to you, too. He’s the Rescue we need from the judgement we all face… the way to forgiveness… the way to peace… the way to eternal hope. And He really is the Best Friend in the world).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Remembering to Say ‘Thank You’

I’m learning, more and more, that it’s good to just say ‘Thank You’: to celebrate the good things God has done.

We’ve started taking a few moments to do that every day in our little GFA UK team in the office where I work. It’s helping us to notice His blessings.

I know things can be hard. There is suffering in this world.

But God is also very kind.

I saw that last week. I knew I needed to get away for a break. I was getting pretty exhausted, but I didn’t know where a proper rest could come from. When plans fell through more than once, I prayed, with faltering faith, that He would provide.

I went back to verses He’s shown me often recently.

‘The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, 31 and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ 32 Yet, for all that, you did not believe the Lord your God, 33 who went in the way before you to search out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go, in the fire by night and in the cloud by day.’ Deuteronomy 1:30-33

I am His. Forgiven through Jesus, I am a child of God. Just as He provided for His Old Testament people every step of the way, He has promised to go ahead of me and provide for me.

And He did… amazingly.

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Through a friend’s suggestion and generosity, God opened the way and provided for me to have a week in a lovely Christian B&B in Llandudno ( http://www.betheden.co.uk/ ) … complete with new friends, abundant, hot sunshine, a gentle beach with bright blue sea, beautiful scenery… Bible teaching and encouragement every evening… Even a love heart in the sky from the Red Arrow display at a military parade, which I watched from the beach!

red arrowsIt couldn’t have been easier, really. There was even a coach a friend knew about that took me quickly and smoothly there! So many details just came together. And I had a week soaked in sunshine and God’s blessing. 🙂

For all my worrying, there was His abundant, tender provision.

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He is so, so kind.

Sometimes we forget that.

He throws in blessings we don’t expect.

Don’t lose hope. Sure, there is suffering in this world. But I’m learning, again and again, that He is kind, and He loves to provide and to bless. 🙂

(What we all need, most of all, is His forgiveness. We all face eternal judgement without it. He loves us so much. That’s why He gave His Son. When we come to Him, turn from wrong, surrender to follow Him as Lord and accept the free forgiveness Jesus bought for us on the cross, we find a loving Father Who, through all the trials, meets every need abundantly and offers abundant hope for all eternity for all who follow Him).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

How Looking Back to God’s Faithfulness Can Help With Faith

Recently, something clicked in me. We listened to a message, which encouraged us to look back at the past, at what God has done, so you can have hope for the future.

And I realised that blogging to testify to God’s faithfulness is a really good idea.

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That message was a helpful reminder. Sometimes you can feel stuck in the middle of something and forget that you won’t be in it forever.

Looking back, God has done an awful lot for me. Is it ok if I share some examples with you? I pray that will encourage you in your own battles that He can do far more than you ever thought possible.

I can see a pattern in my own life… in my own story. I guess we are all different, and God knows that, but I’m beginning to see a pattern in how He works with me. God often tends to bring an issue to the surface and deal with it deeply, slowly and thoroughly for a long time, until one day I realise it’s not there anymore… and He has done it so abundantly that I know what to do if it tries to come back… and I have a bit of wisdom for someone else struggling with the same thing.

I know we don’t get free from everything in this life. Those who follow Jesus are waiting for our ultimate, eternal hope. But I’m amazed by things He has done down here, which amaze me!

Like my battles with assurance when I was younger.

I was only a very little girl, maybe 4 or 5, when I gave my heart to Jesus. I was so blessed to be taken to Sunday School, where I heard that we have all done wrong, and we face God’s judgement… forever. But Jesus died so that we can be forgiven when we come to Him, surrender, turn from wrong, ask for His forgiveness and give our lives into His hands. I did. And I can honesty say that He has been my Best Friend, and so very faithful, since then.

But it took years and years and years before I knew I really was His.

When I was a younger version of me, I struggled, over and over again, with assurance of my salvation. Looking back, I knew Jesus since I was tiny. But I wasn’t sure I was really saved. Again and again, for years, I prayed for Jesus to save me. Worried and worried about whether He really had. Lived in deep confusion about it. Read my Bible and, though it helped me deeply, at times it felt like I was reading through a fog of confusion, coming across things I didn’t understand. I kept praying He would save me… and I lived in deep fear that He had not.

Freedom came later, when I was at University. God unlocked my Bible for me. I went to a course at my wonderful church about how to understand the Bible. I learned that, if you use some key tools, like the genre and purpose of a Bible passage, and where it comes in the Bible timeline, you get some big clues to understanding what it means. My Bible came alive to me in a new way. I heard some teaching on passages like Romans 6-8 and 1 John, which talked about the changes that happen when you come to Jesus. And things began to click into place.

The Bible was opened up in a new way for me. And, in a gradual process, my battles with assurance fell away. These days, I know I am a child of God. I have done for years. And it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing! 🙂

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There was the journey to believe God loves me. I used to think I could never believe God really loved me. Others would try to encourage me in God’s love; in His grace… and it felt like they were speaking a foreign language. Years of prayer and teaching and being prayed for and hearing from others and reading books and soaking in the Father’s love… and it’s a deep, deep conviction inside me. I know I am loved by my Heavenly Father. Now, it’s a gut knowledge I love to share with others.

There was the journey into full-time ministry. Looking back on the seasons, you see them differently. Sometimes, hindsight really helps. When I graduated from University at 18, I knew I wanted to serve God. I just had a lot of confusion about how. I went through a long, hard year of seeking, doing temporary work and Bible study and struggling with different things. Looking back, it was a year in God’s presence. It was a year of a lot of time… rest… rebuilding… preparation.

During that year, I did a Bible course and I sat next to Alison. A lovely friend who was doing a job I would have loved to do, working as a student worker at her church. If I could have had any job right then, it would have been Alison’s. Time passed. That year passed too. And God surprised me near the end of it by an invitation to do Alison’s job myself! The next August, Alison’s job was mine! And I loved it.

And now, I’m thankful for that year of preparation. Along with Alison’s job came the spiritual battle of being in ministry. It was good, but it wasn’t easy. And I’m so glad now I had that preparation year. I needed some time to learn some lessons; to get alone with God. I did go into full-time ministry, and I loved it. But hindsight shows me that God was just getting me ready for the next thing. And I’m grateful for that preparation year first. And it wasn’t just preparation for Alison’s job.

During that wilderness year, I had begun attending prayer meetings at the UK office of GFA World. God had been stirring my heart for the nations for a long time… and I found myself being drawn to GFA. I was in York, and so was the UK office. I only went to learn to pray, but it linked me to a loving family who wanted to share Jesus’ love who have never heard of Him, in Asia. And those prayer meetings were a big part of a process that led to the realisation that God was leading me to work in the GFA UK office full-time, linking national workers on the field with supporters and pray-ers here ( http://www.gfauk.org ). After Alison’s job came GFA. And that was amazing, and a huge blessing … but it brought with it an intense spiritual battle. I don’t think I’d ever have made it without some preparation time first… and a whole lot of God’s faithfulness and provision since then.

And there was OCD. OCD that, in my life, manifested in different ways at different times, and came as a cloud stirred up by the enemy when I went into full-time ministry. Yep, I know OCD. OCD all tangled up with confusion and a deeply sensitive conscience. I didn’t even know what it was for a long time. It wasn’t obvious to me. I just knew clouds of darkness and confusion about little things, accompanied by a heavy sense of spiritual oppression. I remember crying desperately before God, pleading with Him to bring freedom. And He has! Through many different things, freedom came. It took a long, thorough process, and, in the middle of it, I could not see what God was doing or any way out… but it’s not there now. Hasn’t been for years. God used it to draw me closer to Himself: to show me more and His love. And He also set me free.

God took me on a thorough journey through and out of OCD, which has not only largely set me free from it but has taught me what to do on a tired day when it tries to come back. It does, occasionally, but it doesn’t really freak me out. I have learned what to do. OCD? Yes, I remember it. But it doesn’t really bully me anymore. It’s amazing. And, when I hear about someone else battling with it, I even have some hard-won wisdom I can share. And that’s a gift from God. 🙂

And there are aches, too, that have been birthed into joy.

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I’ve put a picture of a butterfly here because it’s a picture someone encouraged me with a few years ago: a butterfly coming out of a cocoon. At the time, it felt impossible. There were things I was carrying…. things I longed to do… and I just could not see how. How could I ever learn to fly? These days, aches are beginning to turn into joys.

Like songwriting. The ache to make music: to record music. The ache that was so deep it hurt. Sometimes I would listen to others singing at concerts and love it… but the longing to do the same would ache so deeply in me that I would almost despair. I remember going to a music event and leaving early to write songs, because the ache was too deep. Little did I know that, very soon, at a similar event soon after, I would be singing too. Little did I know that in a year or two I would have an album of my own. I still can’t really believe it because it feels too good to be true… but it is. 🙂

And the ache to write. Oh, the ache to write! I carried it for years, writing on the side, pouring out my heart in a journal or on a computer screen. But the idea of having a blog seemed to distant; too impossible… until, the other year, God encouraged me to start one. These days, the ache is not really an ache, but a joy. And I have confidence that other writing dreams will, at the right time, if they are from Him, come to fruition too. Why not? If it’s from Him, it will. He is faithful. 🙂

I could go on. There is more. Much more. But it’s true. Looking back at God’s faithfulness gives you hope for the future. It encourages your faith in Him.

He has been faithful. He will continue to be faithful.

You don’t always understand it in the middle of it all, but it’s true.

He does amazing things. He is doing amazing things.

And, if you belong to Jesus (and you can when you come to Him like I did when I was a very little girl), He will be faithful to you, too. 🙂

What If I Really Believed God Will Answer My Prayers?

The Lord has been speaking to me recently about hope, and faith, and His promises.

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To be honest, I can tend to be negative; pessimistic. Anxious.

I have an overactive imagination. Imagining extreme things that could happen.

Imaging the worst.

Even though I am praying about things.

Even though I am His. I am forgiven. God has forgiven my sins and made me His child. Because of Jesus Christ, I can be at peace. Trusting in Him and following Him, the sting has been taken out of fear; of death; of disaster. God is on my side.

Yet still I fret.

Even when God gives me promises that He will take care of things.

His Word is full of them. Those who follow Jesus (and God gives no promise to answer us if we are living in deliberate sin) have a lot of wonderful promises we can claim.

And sometimes you just know. You just know you have committed something to the Lord, and that His answer is on the way.

‘Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.’ Psalm 34:5

And, somehow, trusting Him; having faith in Him, is significant in it all.

I know God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we want or expect. This world is broken. Things can take time. His ways, in my experience, often seem to be on another dimension to what I expect.

But why does that need to take my hope, when His promises are bigger than the mess and the pain and the waiting and the tears, providing for all of my objections?

Through Jesus, I belong to the Father. He has promised that all things work ultimately for my good.

’28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.’ Romans 8:28

I know my prayers have weight in Heaven.

There are so many promises I can claim as my own.

And there is also provision. Every time. Abundantly.

Even for the waiting… the tears… the times when we don’t understand.

He always has a good plan in the end for those who follow Him.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11

So what about this?

What if I lived in the light of the answers to prayer that are coming?

The solutions that I don’t see yet that are on their way?

That may not look the way I think or expect, but are God’s provision?

What if I lived like God is always going to come through in the best way?

Like He is going to answer my prayers?

Like even suffering works for good for those who trust Him?

Like He hears me?

Like He promises to take care of me?

Because He does.

I look back on things He has done in the past. Abundant provision. I really didn’t need to worry! His provision was so good… so kind… so thorough, I had no reason to fear.

Trusting in His provision could change my attitude. Free me up to care more about others, because I’m less consumed with myself.

’33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.’ Matt 6:33

Because the Father’s children don’t need to be anxious; fretful; torn up inside.

Of course we suffer. It’s a broken world, and we’re on a collision course with the direction of the rest of the world, which is in rebellion against God.

But we can also know deep joy, and peace.

We can live like the Father’s listening, and He has got our backs. Because He has. 🙂

He showed me this recently:

‘I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God;’ Psalm 17:6a

What an encouragement not just to pray, but to believe that He will answer, and to stand in faith for the answers that are on the way.

To pour out my heart and actually believe He will answer. 🙂

That means I don’t need to carry the burdens anymore.

I can be at peace, trusting His Father heart.

You know, sometimes I find myself suspicious of Him. His ways are higher than mine. I can be suspicious of what I will do.

‘8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.’ Isaiah 55:8-9

But He is good.

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Actually, the verse before that gives context. He is kinder than we think He is. He is merciful.

‘Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.’ Isaiah 55:7

He is better than we think He is.

Our ideas of Him and His ways are always too small.

‘5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;’ Proverbs 3:5

He is good. He is kind. He is faithful.

So I can commit my cares to Him, trust… and rest in Him. 🙂

(We all need to have God on our side. We all need His forgiveness. Judgement is coming. That’s why Jesus came. He came to bring us back to God, when we come to Him for His forgiveness, surrender and follow Him as our Lord. There’s nothing we can do earn His favour… He calls us to receive His free gift of mercy, and find love and faithfulness we’d never dreamed possible. This world is broken, but eternity is coming. Come to Him, follow Him, surrender to Him, and you’ll find help for this life, even through the tears, and hope for all eternity).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

I Get to Live

I guess this is a continuation from my last blog post: about realising how precious right now is.

The other day, I went to the doctors, to check out something I was worried about. It was fine. I should have known, really. I worry far too much!

But that ‘all okay’ changed the day for me. Driving away from the doctors and realising I have so much.

It kept coming back to me through the day: this sense of gratitude; joy; new life.

It’s like life’s a gift again; like I get to live it again.

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I have a healthy body. I have life. I have health.

I get to live.

It’s a gift. Not everyone does.

Our team spent time that day praying for people who really are ill. I remembered the doctor’s visit again. I felt so deeply, deeply grateful.

Other things happened that day. Me coming down with a cold. It makes me feel a bit rubbish. Big deal! I’m alive. I’m healthy. I’m so, so blessed.

At lunchtime, I prayed for someone who’s suddenly been given a few weeks to live… and doesn’t know Jesus.

That made me so grateful, too. I’m forgiven. I’m a child of God. I have eternal hope. I’m His.

Then, later, I heard about people who spend big chunks of their time worrying about possible illnesses, researching on the internet just in case.

Ok, yes, I can relate a little. I worry far too much!

But not that much. And the truth is that I don’t need to.

Because I have Jesus. Because I’m forgiven. Because God works all things for my good.

Even if I was ill, even if the doctor’s visit had turned out differently, it would be okay.

I’m forgiven through Jesus. I’m in my Father’s hands, and He turns everything in  my life to good in the end, because I’m His.

It makes me think of other things, too.

God has been doing a lot in me over the past few years, doing a deep work of pouring in His love.

As part of that, He’s been teaching me about comfort: about the Father’s love. As His comfort fills up the scars of the past and He pours in His love… and it begins to overflow, I think you suddenly find yourself free to live in a new way, from His arms. With a whole lot less fear, because you are held. With a whole lot more joy.

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It’s beginning to click in me: this freedom to live, because of the overflow of His comfort and His love.

And the day of the doctor’s visit helped me to realise that joy.

I get to live. 

This life is a gift. Every moment. A gift.

I get to live it.

Because of Jesus, I get to live it in a way that matters. A way that will have impact far beyond my lifetime.

I get to know God. I get to live soaked in His love, and I get to share His love with others and help them know hope forever (and if you don’t have that hope yet, please, please seek Jesus and find it- it will change everything).

I get to live. 

Living.

Not perhaps in the way our culture thinks. Life is not satisfying our superficial desires all the time. The devil lies to us. That way of life is so empty, and it will come and bite you in the end… it’s not nice to talk about, but Judgement really is coming, anytime.

The devil lies to us.

‘He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.’ from John 8:44

Life is belonging to Jesus. Life is knowing God. Life is giving our lives away because of Him.

The devil lies to us, but Jesus gives us life that is abundant. Through pain, yes, but through pain that is more like labour, leading, for all who follow Him, to eternal life beyond our wildest dreams.

‘The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.’ John 10:10

Because of Jesus, I get to live life abundant.

Now and forever.

‘You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.’ Psalm 16:11

Wow!

I am so, so blessed.

God has given me life.

And, so, I choose to live.

 

(The way to truly live, and to be rescued from the eternal judgement we all deserve and have hope of eternal life forever, is to find forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Come to Him. Surrender your heart. Ask His forgiveness for where you have gone wrong (and we all have). His forgiveness is there for the asking, when we let go of trying to earn it ourselves and just receive. Give your life to Him as Lord. Follow Him. No, it won’t always be easy, but it’s the way to love beyond your wildest dreams, and life… and life eternal).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Why Right Now Matters

Do you ever catch yourself wondering where the time has gone?

One of my friends got my thinking recently… about time.

About how fast time goes.

About how you can’t get it back.the-eleventh-hour-disaster-alarm-clock-clock.jpg

 

His wife had to go to hospital. In the end, she was fine, but it made him think.

What if she hadn’t been fine? What if her time was up? She’s in her early thirties.

Like me.

It made think, too.

Why do I live like I will have now forever?

I won’t.

The biggest deal is where we will spend eternity (and it’s the question we all seriously need to face before it’s too late). Jesus Christ is my hope for eternity. He has forgiven me, accepted me and made me His own. Trusting in Him alone and following Him, I don’t need to fear the judgement that is coming on the world. I belong to Him (and you need to as well, before it’s too late. Come to Jesus. Receive His free forgiveness as the way back to God. Turn from wrong. Surrender your heart and your life to Him. Follow Him as your Lord. Find love… forgiveness you’d never dreamed existed… and eternal hope).

Yes, Jesus Christ has given me hope for eternity.

But, precisely because He has forgiven me, I don’t want to waste the life He has redeemed… because He is worthy of it all.

Right now, I have a body that works. Time that I can use. Freedom in my single life to choose how I will use big chunks of it.

I can take that for granted. Assume it will always be the same.

But it won’t. Our lives seasons to them… and they don’t last forever.

My Grandma is 98. By God’s grace, she’s still here. But there’s so little she can do by herself now.

In a few years, if God gives me that long (and He may not), that could be me.

It makes me think. How am I using the precious moments God has given me? The talents? The opportunities?

Am I buying them up?

Making the most of them?

Or letting them slip by; frittered away; wasted?

And I don’t think that means doing everything what I want to in this life.  Our culture tells us we need to do everything we want to do now, because life is short.

It is… but I don’t need to live for this world.

I’ll have all the time in forever, when God makes all my true dreams come true.

Those who follow Jesus have hope that is eternal.

But we have only one life in this world to use to make an eternal impact.

To help others know Christ.

To bring Him glory in this world.

It makes me ask some searching questions.

How am I using the time I have today; the opportunities I have right now?

Sometimes we can wish our time away… wish the season was different.

Wish away what God has given me right now.

Seasons do change.

But the opportunities they provide change, too.

I won’t be here forever.

And nor will the people I could impact today.

The doors won’t always be open.

How am I using what God has given me now?

Sometimes, I say to myself, “Blink and I’ll be in tomorrow… or next week…”

Of course, it’s not entirely true. Blink and I’m not in tomorrow or next week… quite. But live a few more hours and, well, I am. Suddenly, it is tomorrow. It is next week. And today’s opportunities have gone.

Lord, help me be intentional with this life You’ve given me now… to make a difference for eternity!

Here is Love

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Here is where life starts.

Here is where it all begins.

This was the moment when God gave His life

And people are born forever.

Here you kneel in your stains.

Here you learn what love really is.

Here rebels fall dressed in tatters and rags

And they rise as white as snow.

As they find…

 

This is the place of victory.

This is where chains fall.

Here, in the weakness of wood and nails,

Here is the heart of it all.

This was the moment God took the shame

As Love willingly bore the cost.

Here are the arms of your Father.

Here is love at the cross.

 

Here is where things change.

Here is where you start again.

Here you fall at the end of yourself.

He lifts you up; makes you a child of God.

As you find..

 

This is the place of victory.

This is where chains fall.

Here, in the weakness of wood and nails,

Here is the heart of it all.

This was the moment God took the shame

As Love willingly bore the cost.

Here are the arms of your Father.

Here is love at the cross.

 

 

Won’t you come and kneel?

Come bow down.

Come and surrender.

Come and adore.

Come find hope.

Come find life.

Come find forgiveness.

Come find Christ your life.

As you find…

 

This is the place of victory.

This is where chains fall.

Here, in the weakness of wood and nails,

Here is the heart of it all.

This was the moment God took the shame

As Love willingly bore the cost.

Here are the arms of your Father.

Here is love at the cross.

 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Come to Him. Turn from wrong. Give Him your heart. Let Him in. Surrender to follow Him with your life. His forgiveness is free, because He paid the price long ago on that Good Friday. He will give you a fresh start. In Him, you will find all you have longed for all along. There’s a cost to following Him, yes, but it’s worth it. He is all the Love you have ever longed to find, and He waits to give you Himself and His hope… for all eternity.

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Lyrics: ‘Here is Love’, written by Caroline Abblitt, Jennifer Casby, Wendy Green.

The Hope of Spring

How do you feel about spring?

I love it! It fills me with such joy to see the first snowdrop… the first daffodil… to hear the birds sing…

After the long, dark days of winter, though it comes gradually, spring keeps coming… and it feels like such a gift.

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Below is a poem I wrote one spring, when I’d been going through a rough time. Spring encourages me that, for those turn from wrong, follow Jesus as Lord and trust in alone Him for salvation (and we all need to), there is always hope ahead. Hard times do come to an end… and those who follow Jesus have an eternal hope awaiting them.

Spring

When hope comes sparkling, lifts cold mist

And sunshine beckons through bare trees,

And wind once silent trills with song,

The hope of spring has come.

 

When white buds peep through tired soil

And trees grow little, pregnant buds

And winter, old now, bows her throne

The hope of spring has come.

 

Then bouncing, laughing yellow life

And madly singing, thrilling world

And sunshine spilling, warming glow

The hope of spring has come.

 

The rush of colour, laugh of song.

Joy’s dance of rainbowed, flowering world.

Strong balm of beauty. Kiss of dawn.

The hope of spring has come.

 

Forget the long, dark, heavy days.

Gone are the hopeless, weary groans.

The old has gone. The new day dawns.

The hope of spring has come.

 

And oh! He calls me. Oh, He comes!

“Arise, dear one. Rise up and come!

The winter’s past. The rain has gone.”

The hope of spring has come.

 

I lift my weary, heavy head;

Look up with hope now, up to God.

I hear His voice; look up; live on.

The hope of spring has come.

 

(God is with you right now, waiting to give you hope. He gave His Son to provide a way of rescue from the judgement we all deserve. Jesus died on the cross so that we can be forgiven when we come to Him for forgiveness, turn from wrong and surrender to follow Him. It’s not always easy, but He is always there for us and it is the way to endless, eternal hope).

More Thoughts on Trust and Peace

So, more thoughts on anxiety and worry:

As the Lord has been teaching me lately about resting in Him, I thought it would be a good thing to keep writing about!

The Lord has teaching me recently about trust: about the Lord teaching us; helping us quieten down the anxious flow of thoughts and plannings in our minds- just living moment by moment, abiding in Him through Jesus.

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I was praying recently about anxiety: about the anxious thought that so often trouble my mind.

A picture came to mind: a little child tucked up in her Father’s embrace, head tucked under His arm, quiet. Just resting in His embrace.

And isn’t that the answer?

Just resting in His embrace. Not needing to understand. Not needing to know what will happen: just resting in His arms, and letting His love be enough for right now… and for the fear, too, because what drives out fear is perfect love, and tormenting fear has been broken for all who follow Jesus.

’18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.’ 1 John 4:18

If you have been forgiven through Jesus and belong to Him (and that’s the key because we face God’s judgement without that and He longs to welcome us all when we come to Him, turn from wrong, surrender our lives to Him as Lord and receive His free forgiveness because of what Jesus did on the cross), you can learn and grow in the peace of living life with your Lord in control.

Living from His arms.

Moment by moment. Just doing what the song says: ‘Trust and obey’.

‘Lord, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever.’ Ps 131

 

What can I do when something makes me anxious?

I can be that little girl again, coming back into her Father’s arms. Committing it to Him… and then nestling down, tucking my head under His arm, doing what He tells me to do and trusting Him to fight for me.

When the fear comes back, I can nestle closer; look up to Him more, and trust Him to work things out for me.

‘Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.’ Ps 37:5

Like going to sleep in His arms.

 

‘Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.’ Ps 127:1-2

It’s definitely a learning curve! Not that something that comes all at once. But it’s something I can grow in. I’ve definitely seen progress!

It reminds me of another picture that came to mind once, when I used to struggle more often with swirling thoughts.

It was a still, still lake, brilliantly blue, under a bright, bright sky.

Stillness. Perfect peace.

It was a picture of what my mind could be: of what He is doing in me.

I glimpse it sometimes. I suddenly notice that my mind is still: wonderfully, radiantly so. It’s incredible.

I can upset that peace with my worry. I often do.

But it’s growing. Sometimes I glimpse it.

Peace.

Because, really, God has me. I don’t need to know the answers. I can rest in Him.

‘You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.’ Isaiah 26:3

And, in Him, I am so very, very loved. And so many encouragements can hold me, because, through Jesus, I am His.

Those who belong to Jesus, look to Him for salvation and follow Him through our lives (as we all need to), have such confidence, and so many reasons, even when it doesn’t make sense, to be at peace.

Beloved

‘The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;”‘ Jeremiah 31:3a

You are My beloved,

Apple of My eye,

My treasured possession,

Precious in My eyes.

 

My child, My creation,

By My hand designed

For something so special

With just you in mind.

 

Fear not, you are precious,

Cherished in My sight,

Embraced in My presence,

Held fast in My might.

 

Never will I leave you,

No, never forsake.

I will be your shelter

For each hour, each day.

 

When you walk through valleys,

I will still be here

When you face deep waters,

You never need fear.

 

I’m here as your Refuge.

I’m here by your side.

Loving My beloved,

Longing for My bride.

 

I delight to use you

In ways you’d never dream.

My plan and My purpose

Are wide and vast, unseen.

 

So wide is My promise,

My purpose so great

To awake the nations

To praise My great Name.

 

So live out your calling,

Be all that I made.

I’ll not fail to use you

To honour My Name.

 

You’re loved. Everlasting,

My faithful pursuit.

My love will not fail you.

I make all things new.

 

My love is unending,

My promise to you. My Arms everlasting

Will carry you through.

 

Soon I will come back

To take you to Me.

Each tear I will comfort.

You’ll belong to Me.

 

My treasure, My darling,

Apple of My eye,

My treasured possession,

Honoured in My sight.

 

Arise, My beloved.

You’re precious to Me.

Come rest in My presence.

Come walk close to Me.

 

(To know that wonderful hope in Him, come to Him. Surrender to Him. Turn from wrong. Receive His forgiveness through Jesus. Give your life, all your days, into His hands as your Lord. It won’t always be easy, but He will be all you need and it’s entirely worth it. He will amaze you by what He does!)

How Trust Can Really Simplify Things

Do you, like me, struggle with fear and anxiety, feeling like you need to know what will happen so that you can make sure it will be okay?

Gradually, I am finding more and more peace in life, and the reason is simple: knowing I am loved, and that I have a heavenly Father Who can be trusted.

I am forgiven. Because of Jesus Christ, my slate has been washed clean. I came to God by faith in Jesus, asking Him to forgive me. I gave my life into His hands, to follow Him, not to earn anything but because I am His. I am following Him. And now I have His promise to take care of me. Not because of anything I have done, but because of Jesus. And that security is available to all who will come to Him and follow Him the same way.

And something the Lord has encouraging me in recently is this: knowing the Father’s love through Jesus can really help with anxiety.

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You know, so often I think I need to know the answers: that I need to know why or how or what… or what will happen next…

But something has been clicking recently: I don’t need to know.

I am so, so loved. I can rest in my Father’s arms, and trust His heart when I don’t have the answers; when I don’t understand.

No, I don’t know the answer to  that.

No, I don’t know why. No, I don’t know what. No, I don’t know how.

But I choose to trust my Abba Father. I choose to trust His heart.

I don’t need to know. I don’t need to understand.

All I need to do is trust.

Because some things just don’t change.

God is good.

God is trustworthy.

God has promised to provide for those who trust in Him (and He also responds to our faith: to our trust!)

Ok, so it doesn’t always look like He is control- not at a superficial glance.

Ok, so it’s not always easy. Trust, and peace, are things we grow in. It doesn’t always come all at once.

But I chose to trust my Abba Father. I choose to trust His heart.

When I look ahead to the future, it doesn’t need to be in fear. Because fear does not take into account the loving heart of my Father God, Who has promised to give me all I need.

Living in the moment, from His arms.

Choosing to rest in Him.

Choosing to know Him now, because it’s only right now that I can know Him for right now.

Choosing to rest in His love.

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;’ Prov 3:5

Now, that could really simplify life!

What has God called me to do now? Then why am I worried about tomorrow?

’33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’ Matt 6:33-34

I’m not saying I’ve got this! I haven’t! Actually, whilst writing this post, I fell far short with it again. But it’s what He’s teaching me. And I think it’s the way of very deep,  very precious peace!

I can commit my burdens to Him and He will carry them for me, and He will provide.

‘Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.’ Ps 37:5

And He will carry my burdens for me, and give my heart His rest.

’28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”’ Matt 11:28-30

(Whether you know Him or not, He is reaching out to you right now. Come to Him through Jesus, receive what Christ did on the cross, turn from sin, surrender your life, your burdens and your cares into His hands and find the way to abundant peace).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When You Think No-One Could Heal Your Heart

The other day, I was in a conversation with someone, which made me think. There’s something I want to share in response. So here goes:

Jesus can heal the broken-hearted. Nothing is too hard for Him. He knows us. He made us. He cares about every sigh; every tear. And He is able to heal our hearts, and to restore.

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No matter how intricate the problem or how deep the wounds of our hearts. No matter how confusing, or messy, or raw. He can heal, and He does.

If we come to Him on His terms. If we let Him in.

We need to surrender. We need to seek Him for His forgiveness.. turn from wrong… forgive others… let Him in… Let Him be first. We need to let Him to come in; to let Him help us. But oh, how He wants to!

He does it His own way. Sometimes He does it suddenly. Sometimes (perhaps more commonly) He takes time. Or sometimes it’s a bit of both: like waves that come gradually. It will culminate in eternity. It’s not all done here and now. 

But He can, and He does.

‘“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”‘ Isaiah 61:1

We need to do it let Him in, and surrender. He will work.

He is the tender Shepherd. He knows us intimately. And He knows each of His sheep as individuals. No matter how wounded. No matter how broken. The Good Shepherd knows how to heal.

And He knows how to care for us, too, while we are in His hospital. So very, very tenderly. He carries His little lambs close to His heart.

‘He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.’ Isaiah 40:11

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I remember being in a season when God was doing a lot of deep work in me. It was painful. I felt raw. I was afraid of things I needed to cope with through the day. I didn’t feel able to cope with much. And a picture came into my mind: a hospital, with clean white beds and a gentle breeze. It was reassuring. I was in God’s hospital. I didn’t need to over-try. He would take care of me. And He did.

He knows us each as individuals. And He knows exactly what we need. It’s not one-size-fits all. That’s why other people’s stories are not the same as yours (although He may well provide people who can help because there are deep similarities). You are unique. And He knows just what you need.

’15 I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. 16 “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.”’ Ezekiel 34:15-16

He is so very tender with His little ones. He deals with us each in just the right way. He takes us at a pace we can handle.

He knows just what we need. He knows the intricacies of our hearts. Sometimes we need to cry. His arms are a safe place. Sometimes we need Him to help us access the pain first (like having an operation). Sometimes we need to let Him take us back to the memories, so He can set us free from them as we forgive and He comes and pours in His love. Sometimes we need others to help us, so we are not alone. He can provide them if we ask Him to (and He can heal us up when they hurt us, too, if let Him… if we forgive them). Sometimes we need freedom from demons who are attacking us. He knows about that, too, and nothing is to hard for Him. No power is bigger than Jesus. Sometimes we need conviction of where we are wrong. He will show us, forgive us when we ask Him to, and work to change us from the inside out.

And He can heal, and restore, in ways we just couldn’t imagine.

There are things I used to think I’d never be free from. Now, I find it hard to remember how they used to be a problem. Because He has worked so amazingly, and so well. He is thorough, yes. But He is also very, very kind.

It can take longer than we think. His ways are often not what we expect. But they are so very, very good. Don’t ever underestimate what He can do.

Come to Him. Come to Him in faith.

Just like this lady, who had tried everything and nothing had worked:

’25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”

29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in herbody that she was healed of the affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”

31 But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’

32 And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”’ Mark 5:25-34

She reached out to Jesus, and He answered her.

In His own way, yes. But He did.

And He interacted with her, too, because healing is not an end in itself.

The end is not healing, but relationship with Him. It’s about knowing Him; loving Him; being loved. Finding the Love we have been looking for all our lives. Living this life from the Father’s arms.

Turning from the idols that let us down, and letting Him be all in all.

‘For my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water.’ Jeremiah 2:13

‘3 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.‘ John 4:13-14

He can fill the broken places in our hearts with His love; with His peace; with His joy.

This is a broken world. Our tears don’t all get fixed now. But He shares them with us, if we let Him. He is with us through them all. And He promises to wipe them all away one day, if we follow Him now.

‘3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”’ Revelation 21:3-4

And He can restore… over and above anything we ever expected Him to do.
‘7 Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.’ Isaiah 61:7

There are things I look back on now, amazed at what He has done. Hope can spring up from our deepest tears. Restoration can come in ways we never expected. We will look back one day and be amazed… if we let Him in.

There is always hope with Jesus.

Why not ask Him to come in?

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Faith That Delights God’s Heart

Something God has been teaching me about lately is faith.

I think that faith brings joy to the heart of God. Simple, childlike faith. Faith that believes God is good, trusts in Him and follows Him through Jesus, and chooses to live like He is good and run with it.

I belong to Jesus. My sins are forgiven. I am trusting in Him for salvation, by faith. And God wants me to live by faith, too.

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Trusting the Father’s loving heart.

I can find myself so negative, dreading what could go wrong; assuming the worst. Praying but not trusting the Father’s heart.

But something hit me the other day: I think God is thrilled when those who are His forgiven children through Jesus (as we all can be when we come to Him on His terms through the cross) choose to trust in His goodness: to expect Him to be good. I think that kind of faith thrills His heart, and makes Him smile. I think it’s a faith He loves to draw out; and to respond to.

I was chatting to a friend the other day. She was telling me about her little girl. Simple, childlike prayers from a little girl too young to understand all our doubts.

She was two. “Jesus, please heal Mammy’s sore throat.”

Gone. Just like that. No sore throat anymore!

Her mum was shocked. But she wasn’t. To her, it was simple. She was sure Jesus would answer. And He did.

I think that’s the kind of faith God delights in. The kind of faith that just expects Him to come through with something good.

The kind of faith that trusts in the love and goodness of the Father’s heart, and believes that He will answer in a wonderful way.

I know it’s tough. The Father doesn’t always answer the way we want Him to. This is a broken world. It’s messy down here. Sometimes there are long delays; obstacles we didn’t expect; difficulties that threaten to choke out our faith.

Pain that God longs to comfort, if we let Him, because He knows, and He cares so much.

And that’s when we get to choose. And then when our faith means the most. Will we believe that God is good then; choose to trust Him then when it doesn’t make sense what He is doing?

I think when we choose to trust then, in spite of our breaking hearts and our deep-rooted fears and all of the things that don’t fit into what we expected Him to do, it really makes Him smile.

Choosing to love God even when our hearts are breaking, because we love Him more than the things we want from Him.

Choosing to trust Him because He is good, even when it doesn’t make sense.

Like the woman in this story:

’21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”

23 But He answered her not a word.

And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”

24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”

26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.’ Matthew 15:21-28

She needed something from Jesus. She knew He could heal her demon-possessed daughter. She asked Him to.

He seemed to say no.

She asked again.

He seemed to say no.

But He did answer.

He was drawing out her faith.

And she kept on believing.

Because she knew how good He is, she banked on His goodness anyway, and pressed in in prayer because she trusted.

And He answered her.

‘“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.”’ from Matt 14:28

It means surrendering to Who He is, and His way of doing things. It means choosing to love Him first; more than what we are asking for. It means seeking His Kingdom first. It means letting Him decide how He answers, and when. But, if we are doing that and following Him through Jesus, I think we get a blank cheque and a broad, wide, wild invitation to ask… and to trust Him to answer in a way that is so good.

And to choose to trust His heart in the midst of it all.

Sometimes we are doing that, and we’re doing well! But then, like Peter, I think we can start looking at the waves instead of at the Lord:

’29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.’ Matthew 14:29-31

Peter was doing well! He didn’t need to give up! He just needed to keep his eyes on Jesus.

Keep going. Keep believing. Don’t focus on the waves. Focus on the Lord.

Keep going! Surrender your heart and your desires, yes. Surrender your ideas, yes. But keep pressing in in faith.

He does answer. I think it’s generally with something far, far better than we asked for, because He goes to the heart of our prayers and answers on another dimension.

‘“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.”’ from Matt 14:28

And He wants to help us grow in that faith, too. 🙂

You can’t expect Him to be better than He is, because He is better than our wildest dreams.

And I think it thrills Him when you trust Him. 🙂

 

(God loves to be good to us, even though none of us deserve it, because we have turned away from Him. He is so good that He gave His Son to provide a way of rescue from the eternal judgement we all face. Jesus paid the price on the cross so that you can be forgiven. Turn from wrong. Ask Him to forgive you. Choose to follow Him, with His help. Surrender your life into His hands, and His way. Let Him be in charge of your life. He will rescue you for eternity, and blow you away with His goodness).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When You Can’t Sleep

Do you ever struggle with not being able to get to sleep? I do!

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A battle I go through regularly is a battle to get to sleep. I’m so blessed not to have full insomnia, but getting enough sleep is something I struggle with often. It often comes back every few days, more depending on how much is going on around and inside me! I’m not sure how much wisdom I have on it yet, but I thought it might be a good idea to blog about it, if that’s okay. I pray it blesses you too.

So here are some of the things I think I have been learning…

Normally, I can’t sleep because I am tense: anxious about something, trying to figure things out, or else just too busy processing everything that has happened until my heart can get to a place of quiet. Good things keep me awake as well as bad ones, especially if I am processing them.

It’s generally anything that is not yet quiet in my heart and mind- and often, if it is becoming an issue, tension because I’m anxious that I’m not asleep yet! Then, of course, I get more and more tense, and I lay there for a long, long time… until eventually all goes quiet… and I’m asleep.

I think sleep comes when your mind goes quiet.

And I think a big part of the solution is to relax.

And the foundation for that is knowing that, ultimately, all will be well. That root of that is being forgiven; accepted; lovedand secure in the love of Father God (which happens when you come to Him, turn from wrong and receive His forgiveness through Jesus, following Him as your Lord).

I’m an expert at overreacting to things; assuming the worst and getting upset… when things probably aren’t that bad.

And lack of sleep probably isn’t a big a deal as I think it is when I’m lying awake.

I’ve learned by experience that I won’t die if I have a night of no sleep at all. It doesn’t happen often, but it does sometimes. It’s not great, but I’ve survived.

I’ll feel pretty rubbish the next day, but I’ll be okay. I’ve also learned by experience that the insomnia will break eventually. In a few days, if I just stay calm about it, one day soon I’ll be surprised by a good night’s sleep, and I’ll feel more strength come back again, and I’ll feel loads better. And, the more I just relax and stop stressing about it, the more quickly that will happen.

I’ve also learned that being very tired is not necessarily a bad thing. It does make me more sensitive, more easily upset and more easily stressed. It does make it hard to get through the day. But it also makes me very dependent on God because of that. I know I can’t do an exhausted day on my own: that I need God in a special way. And so I’m more intentional. I pray harder. I lean on God more. I ask others to pray for me (I’m so blessed to work in an office of believers). And I find deep peace and strength coming in. It’s more of His strength, and less of mine. It’s beautiful.

I’ve also learned that often I just expect too much of myself. I stay up late and try to do so much because I think that must be what God wants to do. A few years ago, the Lord spoke to me deeply through Ps 127:

‘Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.’ Psalm 127:1-2

It was a breakthrough realisation.

I am only called to do the things the Lord is leading me to do, and, even then, it won’t work unless His hand is on it and, if it is, He’ll be the One carrying the weight and opening up the way. I am not called to do everything. And it’s okay to take time to sleep. Sleep is a gift from God.

That means that an early night isn’t a crime. Making time to ready a book to wind down is okay. I am not called to do everything, and it really is okay to make time to rest.

I’m called to serve God for the long term. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.My salvation is dependent on what Jesus did for me, not on anything I do. And sleep is a gift from God.

But, I also think something that would be really helpful with getting to sleep is to receive the peace of God into my spirit. If I can tune into the spiritual reality of my Father’s love for me, quietening me, reassuring me, my heart will be quieter; more at peace.

I realised that the other day: I lay there, trying to get calm and go to sleep, and I sensed that Father there, loving me, wanting to pour peace into me; wanting to hold me in His arms and soothe my restless thoughts.

‘”The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”’ Zephaniah 3:17

‘Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.’ Psalm 139:7-12

‘Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.’ Psalm 139:16

Actually, I suspect maybe the Lord allows the sleeplessness to show me the tension in my heart, because He wants to comfort it. If He gave me sleep straight away, every time I asked for it, I wouldn’t learn how to receive His peace for the things that are keeping me awake. I wouldn’t discover the peace He wants to give.

Realising that my God is with me, for me and in control. Because I am a child of God through Jesus, I have no reason to live in fear anymore. Realising that the things I have not yet resolved in my mind are secure in His hands. Realising that I am loved and, in Christ, because I am forgiven through Him, everything is ultimately going to be okay.

I think the Lord has also given me a key that I’m still learning how to use: His Word. If you repeat a Bible verse to yourself, over and over again, your mind and your spirit will go quiet. It’s like a muscle; I forget to do it. I struggle to do it. Sometimes it feels like it’s not working. But there have been lots of times when it’s really helped… when I’ve woken up in the morning and I realise I had decided to think about a verse… and then I woke up, and it was morning.

My dear friend Jane recommends this verse:

‘I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.’ Psalm 4:8

It speaks peace into your spirit; as well as your mind.

And there are others, too:

‘I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.’ Psalm 3:5

‘“Listen to Me, O house of Jacob,
And all the remnant of the house of Israel,
Who have been upheld by Me from birth,
Who have been carried from the womb:
Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.“‘ Isaiah 46:3-4

‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’ Matthew 6:34

‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’ John 14:27

There will be grace for tomorrow, however tired I am. There is grace for lying awake, too. I can use the long moments of sleeplessness to pray; to receive rest into my spirit: to lift my heart and concerns up to God; to rest in His arms; to receive His love.

And, whether I sleep or not, I can rest in His arms, knowing He will give all the grace I need and fill all the exhausted gaps with His love. 🙂

 

(There is so much comfort and help we can draw from God, and He longs to give it to us. However, the first thing we all need to do is come to Him for forgiveness and rescue from the eternal judgement we all face. We need to come to Him, turn from wrong, surrender to follow Him and receive what Jesus did for sinners on the cross. That’s the way back to God: the way to His forgiveness and grace and eternal life. On sleepless nights and all the time, He is waiting for you to come to Him).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

How Knowing God’s Love Can Help With Fear of a New Year…

Do you ever feel a little bit of fear about going into a new year?

To be honest, I do.

I think one of my greatest weaknesses is fear and hesitancy. There’s generally some low-level fear going on in my heart about something or other.

image

I know Jesus. I am forgiven and accepted in Him. I have eternal hope. But, when I look at a new year, I find a little bit of fear rising in my heart, especially if there are things I’m worried about.

My sweet friend Ellen encouraged me a while ago with something like this: ‘Be strong. Don’t be afraid.’ It was wise advice. Ellen knows me well. And it’s advice I generally need- to be strong and not be afraid.

My friends prayed for me the other day about my fear of the new year. Dear Brenda encouraged me to live one moment at a time, and take one day at a time. Wise advice! We also prayed about a situation where someone needed help with a stair lift. And I realised going forward with God can be a bit like getting on a stair lift: you get on and you are carried.

And I sense my Heavenly Father encouraging me with something like this: Because I am forgiven through Jesus (as we all need to be), I have such peace and hope in Him. I am surrounded by His love. His loving arms are always round me. I am His precious, dearly loved child. His provision will always meet me (maybe in ways I don’t expect, but it will). It doesn’t mean there won’t be suffering, but it does mean I don’t need to be afraid of it. He will give me all I need, tenderly and abundantly. So long as you are trusting in and following in Jesus (and that’s the big condition), everything is ultimately going to be okay.

I hear this phrase in my head often these days: Do not be afraid. 

And it’s spot on. What reason do I have to be afraid when I have such a kind, faithful Father leading the way?

God recently encouraged me with the words He spoke to Jacob when he was about to go to Egypt.

 ‘So Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob!”

And he said, “Here I am.”

So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.”

Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives, in the carts which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.’ Genesis 46:1-60

The Lord was moving Jacob forward in His plans for Jacob’s life, but there was no reason for Jacob to hesitate or be afraid. The Lord knew why He was sending Jacob back to Egypt, and it was for a good reason. And Jacob was going to be carried all the way there, tenderly provided for in a wagon by Pharaoh himself. It was time to move forward, but it was not time to be afraid, because God was going with him, would bless him and would carry him all the way there and meet him when he got there.

I like to take time before a new year to seek Him for goals for the year. It’s a really helpful way to focus. It’s a big reason why I managed to make an album last year (I knew it was one the goals for the year that I felt God had given me). But sometimes I need to seek Him for His encouragement, too.

Do not be afraid.

Why? Because the Lord is going with me all the way, and He will abundantly be all I need.

If you trust and follow Jesus (and you need to, and can!), He will be abundantly all you need too. 🙂

God bless you in 2018! 🙂

(The way to find true peace and hope (and the rescue from judgement that we all need) is to follow Jesus: to believe He died for what you have done wrong, to turn from sin, believe in Him and surrender to follow Him all your life. It’s the way of rescue from eternal judgement and Hell we all face, and it’s the way of true peace and hope through this life… and the way to eternal joy. It’s not always an easy path, but it’s the way of true blessing as you find your true hope in God and His incredible love for you).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

What Does it Mean?

What does it mean? We take it so lightly; sing it so familiarly.

But it’s breathtaking. Astounding. Life changing.

God came down to earth as a baby.

image

What did Charles Wesley write? Our God contracted to span. Incomprehensibly made man.

He spoke the world into being. Forever, He has always been there, in an endless reality of abundant, loving life.

His voice holds all of us together.

He placed the stars in the sky; knit me together in the womb; holds all of our days in His hands.

The awesome, eternal, infinite God.

Think of space: the huge, wide, stunning expanse that goes on and on and still cannot begin to contain the God Who made it all.

Think of eternity.

Think of a Voice that spoke the universe into being.

Contracted to a span.

He grew in the womb. The cells divided. The embryo was formed. He grew there: His brain; His hands; His heart.

But He was God.

God Who was born in a mess of blood and tears as all of us were… the King Who was born into dirt and dust in a smelly stable.

But He was God.

God contracted to a span.

The words are so powerful: talking of hope for all who believe and follow Him:

“Let earth and Heaven combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine
The incarnate Deity,
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made Man.

He laid His glory by,
He wrapped Him in our clay;
Unmarked by human eye,
The latent Godhead lay;
Infant of days He here became,
And bore the mild Immanuel’s Name.

See in that Infant’s face
The depths of deity,
And labor while ye gaze
To sound the mystery
In vain; ye angels gaze no more,
But fall, and silently adore.

Unsearchable the love
That hath the Savior brought;
The grace is far above
Of men or angels’ thought:
Suffice for us that God, we know,
Our God, is manifest below.

He deigns in flesh t’appear,
Widest extremes to join;
To bring our vileness near,
And make us all divine:
And we the life of God shall know,
For God is manifest below.

Made perfect first in love,
And sanctified by grace,
We shall from earth remove,
And see His glorious face:
His love shall then be fully showed,
And man shall all be lost in God.”

Charles Wesley, ‘Let Earth and Heaven Combine’, public domain

God Who is not just infinite and vast and eternal (though He is).

God Who was willing to be made small.

God Who cares so very tenderly.

God Who is love.

So when I feel the pain of this world’s sting, so has He.

So when I feel alone and misunderstood, so has He.

So when I think no-one understands, He does.

He is God.

But He came close; was made small.

There He lay in the manger, with tiny lungs; tiny hands. Tiny cries of a newborn child.

God reaching out to us.

Coming so small; so vulnerable. Placing Himself at the mercy of this cruel, heartless world. Reaching out in a way that you and I could never have imagined.

‘6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.’ Philippians 2:6-7

The Son of God became one of us, because He loves us that much.

Take time. Make time. Kneel at the manger.

Gaze at Him; think of Him; love Him.

Baby Jesus lying in the manger. Your God, Who loves you that much.

Who gave Himself to make a way for you to come back to Him.

The God Who is with us now.

No matter your circumstances, may you meet with Him this Christmas and ever afterwards… and find all your heart has ever truly craved in Him.

Happy Christmas and God bless you!

 

(He gave Himself in the manger, and then on the cross, that you might know Him. When you come to Him, turn from wrong and receive the free forgiveness He offers, surrendering your life to follow Him, you will find the hope, forgiveness and eternal life He offers. He is reaching out to you now).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

The True Source of Joy This Christmas

Where do you try to find joy at Christmas? In family? In friends? In parties? In gifts?

The Lord has been reminding me of something so very precious: the greatest Gift of all is God.

In the presence of God, we find all our hearts are truly craving for.

And Christmas is an amazing reminder of something truly, astoundingly incredible: God gave Himself to all who will accept Him. In such an intimate, vulnerable, beautiful way. God Who reigns on high. God Who spoke the universe into being. God Who rules in glory. As a baby. A baby. Because He is that kind; that loving; that good.

image

Yesterday, the Lord really encouraged my heart. I was sitting at my desk, listening to teaching while I was working.

And the Lord encouraged my heart, deeply, that we can have joy at Christmas no matter what, because joy truly comes from knowing Him.

The true source of joy is in knowing God. And that joy of the presence of God, with us, is available to all who accept it, no matter what our circumstances are this Christmas.

Because the source of true joy is not in stuff or circumstances, but in knowing God.

Then I came across this beautiful video, reminding my heart that all I truly need is Him, and that what our hearts are craving for is the presence of God.

 

Published on Dec 25, 2015

~from Ann Voskamp’s book, The Greatest Gift, Unwrapping the Fully Love Story of Christmas: bit.ly/GreatestGiftforyou
http://www.annvoskamp.com

 

It’s such a wonderful reminder: the best Gift of all is the presence of God, with us.

I realised God was speaking to me- an incredible, astoundingly amazing message. Sitting at my desk, listening to teaching as I worked, I was suddenly close to tears… heart bursting with joy… at the wonder of it all.

God has given me many precious gifts in this life. This week, I finally got to hold in my hands the CD album that I’ve been yearning to make since I was a little girl (I’m planning to post a link soon). It was a dream come true… and yet it didn’t satisfy my heart completely. Nothing in this world ever does… but He does.

My heart is satisfied, because of Him.

It’s been a journey: a journey of walking with Him. A journey of discovering more and more of my beautiful, incredible, amazing God. He hasn’t always felt close, but He always has been, whether I’ve known it or not.

And, oh, He satisfies my heart!

He is there, loving us, reaching out to us.

And Christmas reminds us. God is a manger. God in a manger! God giving Himself to all who will receive Him on His terms.

The true source of joy is God Himself, and God has given Himself to me!

He is with me now!

He is with me!

He is with us.

’23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”’ Matt 1:23

The only One Who truly satisfies our desperately thirsty souls.

And He is available to us all.

God is available to us all.

He has given Himself to us all, if we will only receive Him.

The greatest gift is God with us.

And He is with you now.

’63 O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.’ Psalm 63:1-5

 

(The Father gave His Son as a baby to grow up and die on a cross so that all who come to Him, turn from wrong, receive His free forgiveness and choose to follow Him as Lord can be forgiven and know Him forever. It’s the way of rescue from eternal Hell and the way to eternal life… and it’s the way to the greatest, most satisfying, most wonderful Gift of all: the gift of God Himself with you… close to you… forever. He is with you now, reaching out to you in love).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

When God Makes a Dream Come True

Do you ever find yourself assuming that ‘God would never make that dream come true?’, or, ‘That’s just impossible?’, or, ‘It’s too late?’

I want to give testimony to the faithfulness of God.

Sometimes, you’ve carried a burden: an ache for something, for so long, and you almost don’t dare believe it could ever come true because it hurts to touch it.

The longing to make an album has been like that for me.

image

I’ve always loved music. When I was a little girl, some songs would touch me so deeply that it almost hurt. They still do, but I’m used to it now.

I wasn’t very old when I starting writing songs. I came to know Jesus when I was tiny, and songs were growing inside me from when I was very small. They weren’t very good, but I’m learning they were probably precious to the Lord anyway! I was blessed with piano lessons, which gave me a way of growing in music. And the urge to write music kept growing.

I almost took GCSE Drama instead of Music. I signed up for GCSE Drama, and was all set to go. That summer, I lost my peace about it. I found myself composing music in my head, as I had done before, but more and more. I was young and inexperienced, but somehow it felt as though God’s hand was stirring up this music in me: that this was something I needed to pursue. So I switched to GCSE Music. I learned about composing and making music. I loved it… so much that I took A- level Music, too. But I knew I wanted to do more. I just didn’t know how… and I didn’t think it could ever happen.

I got older and went to University. Life was busy with other good things. Time passed and God called me into full-time ministry. Music is not the only thing I am called to do. But the songs kept coming, too: me on my little keyboard, trying to finds words and notes to express the things God was teaching me in my walk with Him.

The ache to make an album stayed with me. But I was busy in the ministry God has called me to. I learned about surrender, and how we need to lay our longings down and put Him first. Laying down the dream of recording songs hurt a lot. But surrender is so key to walking with Jesus. And it’s the only way to peace. We must never love anything, even gifts He gives us, too much. It’s a really important lesson, and one we always need to remember. I’m glad He asked me to lay music down first.

But He kept bringing it back. Songs came through the seasons, and the ache to record them never left.

The longing to record music was something I thought could never happen, because it seemed impossible. It was an ache that just hurt. I couldn’t quite give it up because it felt more like a call, and I prayed about it and tried to learn more about making music, but I didn’t really know what to do. It just seemed impossible, and my negativity said it would never happen.

I went for prayer about it at a conference. A lady prayed with me and she encouraged me. She said she sensed that I would see God opening up the way, providing, showing the way through. To be honest, I didn’t really believe her! But it happened.

After that, I went home and began to stumble upon resources that would help: books and online courses. I started to learn more, and I kept praying.

Last year, I was reading a book about goals. It contained stories of how God has been at work in different people’s lives, bringing to birth things they’d never felt was possible. As I was reading it, I found myself asking the Lord, “Oh, Lord, could I make an album?” I waited, and suddenly felt a deep sense of peace and excitement. It felt like a ‘yes’. I couldn’t quite stand on it, but I was pretty sure. I was amazed!

Then I carried on reading the book. The very next story (I am not kidding) was about a lady who had made an album in her 30s!! She shared how, though she had never thought it was possible, and though she thought it was too late, she and suddenly found herself meeting someone who offered to help her! And she made an album!!

Gerth, H. (2013). You’re Made For A God-Sized Dream. ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Revell. (‘God-Sized Dream Stories’, ‘It’s Not Too Late: Mela Kamin’)

It really seemed that God was confirming the ‘yes’ when I read that! And I was excited. I wrote it down. I was pretty sure God had just told me that I, too, would make an album in my 30s… when it felt impossible and too late.

heaven-blog-post

But I didn’t know what to do next. Life was busy with other things, and I didn’t know how. So I prayed about it… and a friend mentioned someone who helped Christians make albums… and I began to explore possibilities… and then God began to confirm the call.

I was in a meeting a few months afterwards when the speaker encouraged us all to take a few moments of quiet to ask the Lord, “What’s the next thing You are asking me to do?”

It wasn’t audible, but I knew what He was asking me to do. To make an album.

The ache was no longer just a longing. It was now about obedience. And He kept confirming that, giving stronger and stronger confirmation, leading me to people who could advise me… opening doors… I heard about Andy and Wendy Green (Cornerstone Productions), who live pretty close to me, who love Jesus and are very gifted at helping with recording music…

I had the chance to sing at an open mic night (another dream come true). The night before, I was praying about it, and I really sensed Him encouraging me that He is the One Who put music inside of me, and He was going to open up the way. I also sensed something else: anointing is far more important than being good at making music. What matters is that what you do comes out of relationship with God. That makes it powerful, even if the music isn’t perfect (and I know mine isn’t!). I gave it to Him again.

The next night, I sang at the open mic. Afterwards, my sweet friend Lucy encouraged me with pretty much exactly what I’d sensed from the Lord the night before: God’s hand is on me to do this, and it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. But it’s something He is asking me to do. And God was asking me to make an album.

So I booked my first day in a recording studio, with Andy and Wendy Green (their site is below), who love Jesus and know how to make beautiful music. 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/awcornerhouseproductions/

The first day in the studio was like a dream. Amazing. Real, tangible reality after years of believing it could never happen. And Andy was such a gift- he knew just what to do to make the music come together in an amazing way. God’s provision is so abundant!

And now my album is almost finished, and in a few days, Lord willing, I’ll be holding it in my hands, probably half incredulous that God has really done it. I’ll be able to post it online very soon, and, though I don’t really believe deep down that it could bless anyone else, I think He’s telling me that it will… and that just blows me away.

The ache I carried was so painful that I thought it could never happen.

But God has made it possible. He has blown me away with His faithfulness.

Yes, following Jesus means we need to surrender our dreams. The Lord wants our hearts, after all, because He is worthy and He is to be our First Love. Yes, we need to do things His way. Yes, we need to put Him first. But don’t ever underestimate what God can do. Yes, in Heaven for those who love Jesus, but also sometimes down here, He really does make dreams come true. 🙂

“20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20

 

(More than any dream come true, more than anything, we all need the best gift God offers us: the gift of forgiveness for our sins, rescue from Judgement and eternal life knowing Him (the best of all dreams come true). That’s why He gave His Son. He offers salvation freely to all who turn from their sins, receive His forgiveness through Christ alone and surrender their lives to follow Him as Lord of their lives. It can be hard, but it’s an incredible journey of knowing Him, and it ends, for those who follow Jesus, in every dream coming true in Heaven).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

A Moment of Peace in a Crazy World

Do you ever get stressed out by life in this crazy world? I sure do!

I thought I’d share another poem I wrote about peace. Sometimes, in all the craziness  of life, you catch a moment where you can breathe; when you can glimpse beauty; where you can find deep, wholesome rest in the knowledge that God is God.

If you belong to Jesus and follow Him (and that’s the thing- we all need to), however crazy life may be, behind it all, you can know that God is God and, ultimately, eternally, all will be well.

I had a day like that the other year on a trip to America, a couple of years ago now, and I tried to put it into words. I thought I’d share it.

Well

Light sparkles on the shimmering glass,
Silver beneath a gleaming sky,
And sunshine breaks through gentle splash,
And catches rainbows in the light.

The brightness spreads all high and wide,
Just touched with gentle wreaths of cloud
And blue, blue lifts the world to heights-
Awakening you now.

And plash, plash- ripples, soft then still.
A thousand mirrors play with light
And move so gentle: soothing thrill
Of sunlight, wild and bright.

You breathe a moment, taste the scent
Of beauty’s glimpse at Heaven’s peace
And almost catch the hope unsaid:
An echo of His whispered kiss.

You look up, catch, unclench, arrest
And, with a sudden, unseen thrill,
Your soul hears truth your heart needs yet:
That God is God. All will be well.

 

(God offers the peace of knowing that, ultimately, all will be well… when you turn back to Him and receive His forgiveness. Yes, judgement is coming to this world, but there is hope for all who turn from their sin, receive God’s forgiveness because of Jesus’ death on the cross and turn to follow Jesus as Lord. He is coming one day soon (maybe even today) to put everything right, and all who follow Him have every reason to hope. Though life may be tough sometimes, following Jesus is the way to eternal hope and peace).

The Power of Hope

Recently, I’ve been reading the book of Ruth. And I have been seeing in it the theme of hope.

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In the book of Ruth, God shows us a contrast: two ways of responding to life’s hard knocks. Two women in deep grief, who respond differently. Naomi gives way to bitterness, whereas Ruth chooses faith.

Both Naomi and Ruth have lost loved ones. Both of them have been deeply hit by grief. But they respond differently.

Naomi has been battered by life, and it has made her bitter. She has almost given up hope that God could ever be good to her, even though she is His. She chooses to follow God, but she lives in fear, holding out only very little hope that God’s mercy will break in. She says it herself: bitterness has taken hold of her heart. It has become part of her.

’20 But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”’ Ruth 1:20-21

That’s what can happen when life knocks you down again and again. Bitterness takes root deep in your heart. You begin to see life coloured by the darkness. You can’t believe that God could ever be good to you again.

You look at the future with pessimism, anticipating the worst. Naomi’s bitterness causes her to discourage her daughters-in-law from following God. She cannot see any hope in their future either… or only a small glimpse of hope far, far into the future that could never really work very well.

Naomi has allowed bitterness and grief to take root so deeply that it has become how she sees her whole identity.

Ruth, too, has been knocked by life. Deeply. She has lost her husband. She has no child. She is largely alone and destitute in a very sad world.

And she does not know God very well: she has only glimpsed Him through her broken-hearted mother-in-law’s fading faith.

But Ruth chooses to bank everything on the faithfulness of a God she has heard of, and is beginning to hope in, in spite of what she sees around her.

Ruth lives with hope in a God she does not know. She chooses to follow Him, believing that somehow He will provide. She lives with hope; expectancy. She chooses to follow Him down the road of sacrificial faith, choosing to sacrificially serve another and trusting He will provide. She lives like God will be good to her.

And He is. God already has His provision prepared. It is just waiting for Naomi and Ruth to step out in faith, for Him to bless them.

Actually, God is good to both of them. Extravagantly, abundantly good. He is writing a story that is stunning in its mercy and kindness and extravagant grace. He is preparing the way for the Messiah, Jesus, to come into this broken world.

But it takes Naomi a while to hope in God’s goodness, and it is only when she begins to see God at work that she starts to believe His kindness has not forsaken her after all.

’20 Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Blessed be he of the Lord, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!”’ Ruth 2:21

Hope is dawning. Naomi is beginning to hope in the goodness of God.

And God’s goodness is going to blow her away. Although, of course, Naomi has no idea that Ruth’s son will be in the family tree of the Messiah, Jesus, Who will be the salvation of them both (and us, if we follow Him).

Eternity alone will reveal the incredible things He was doing in and through their story.

I think we can learn from Ruth and Naomi. I think God wants those who trust in Jesus and follow Him (which we can all do) to hope in His mercy; to live like He will be good to us; to live putting His kingdom first, because we believe He will be good to those who follow Him.

‘Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,’ Ps 33:18

Hoping in His mercy. That’s not a glib, superficial thing. It can be through deep tears; deep pain. It can mean a long road. It can be choosing to trust Him when trust is excruciating hard (and He shares in that pain with us, in this broken world). It means letting Him comfort us; hold us in our tears, in His Everlasting Arms.

But it is trust in a God Who is deeply, deeply good.

And that hope in His mercy brings Him pleasure.

’11 The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him,
In those who hope in His mercy.’ Psalm 147:11

A God Who gave His own beloved Son for all who will choose to follow Him. A God Who loves us that much.

’32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ Romans 8:32

If you are trapped in the bitterness of the past, you are not ready for the new things God wants to do for you. Your faith is not engaged because you have given up hope. But God acts for those who wait expectantly for Him.

‘For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.’ Isaiah 64:4

God responds to faith, which is closely wrapped up with hope. And bitterness quenches faith. It snuffs it out.

Sure, God doesn’t always do what we expect. Ruth and Naomi didn’t expect Him to answer the way He did (it was bigger than they could conceive). And yes, it can be a broken road, with tears along the way (it certainly was for them). But He was good to them. Extravagantly, abundantly good.

And He will be to all who choose to follow Him.

 

(God gave His Son to give us all a way back to Him; a way to discover His mercy. We have all rebelled against Him and gone our own way. But God in His incredible mercy gave His Son to die in our place so that we can be forgiven. When you come to Him through Jesus, confessing your sin, trusting in Jesus alone to save you and surrendering your life to follow Him, He will forgive and accept you, too. It won’t always be easy, but He offers you eternal hope that ends only in good).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Problem of Pessimism

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Something I’ve been thinking through lately is this: negativity, pessimism and gloom can be tools for Satan to use in my life.

They can feed doubt; fear; unbelief. They can be a breeding ground for worry. They can stifle my faith, and the power of my prayers.

Like worry, pessimism can feel innocent.

But pessimism, like worry, is not innocent because, like worry, it can stifle faith in God through Jesus.

If life has hurt you before, you don’t want to be hurt again. Understandably. But there is a danger of becoming negative and pessimistic, filling your heart with negativity and stifling out the truth of the promises that God has given Christians through Jesus.

Things in our hearts from the past, or fears of bad things that could happen, can cause us to always accept the most negative conclusion.

It can cause a negative, fear-filled way of seeing the world, which always expects the worst and anticipates it, long before it has actually happened.

It can be a way you learn to handle the world, for a variety of reasons.

Pessimism can squeeze out our faith in the promises of God, because we simply don’t dare to believe they are true.

So when God promises something good to those who follow Jesus, we are very resistant to believing Him.

Lots of things can take our faith in God. But this is one of them. Always expecting the worst makes it very difficult to hear God when He speaks encouraging promises to the hearts of His children.

We can be too afraid to receive them; to believe them.

And that’s a bad thing, because faith is very important in the Christian life.

Yes, the Christian life is costly. Yes, there is suffering. Jesus promised that (along with great rewards). But dwelling on the suffering, and anticipating it, or being stuck in the suffering of the past, can take our faith and hope for the future, and stifle out the power of faith in our lives. And faith in very important.

‘But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.’ Hebrews 11:6

I’m learning I need to bring blockages to my faith to the Lord, so that He can take care of them… so that they don’t hold me back.

He cares so deeply for us in our suffering. This world is broken, and He knows that. He yearns over us. He longs to comfort us. He can minister into the wounds of the past. He can comfort like no-one else can. He can counsel us. He can share our deepest tears (and there is abundant space for them in His arms). He can heal our hearts up in amazing ways when we let Him in on His terms. He wants to!

And He wants us to hope in His goodness.

And I’m learning that it’s not helpful to be negative and pessimistic. I have an overactive imagination. I been a worrier for many years. I imagine the bad things that could happen long before they happen… and, most of the time, they don’t.

The life of faith is not a life based on seeing, but on trusting what God has said.

Pessimism is not more powerful than the promises of God.

God calls us to live by faith. The life of faith does involve suffering. It does involve pain this side of Heaven. But that does not need to include the anticipated pain that may well never actually happen, and will only haunt us when we don’t need it to.

The Christian life of faith down here on earth can be painful, but it can be positive, too.

God may answer prayer in ways and at times we don’t expect. It can be a journey we don’t expect. Our boxes are way too small for Him to fit into, after all. But I’m beginning to learn that that’s because His ways are bigger and better, not because they are bad.

God is always good, and He is always doing something amazing in answer to the prayer of faith through Jesus.

Because God always keeps His promises.

And prayer and faith are a powerful, powerful combination, which pessimism has no right to stifle out.

 

(There is a way to have hope, for this life and for eternity. It’s found in new life through Jesus Christ. Yes, we have all messed up, and all face God’s judgement. But God gave His Son to give us a way out: a way of hope forever. Jesus died so that we can be forgiven. When we come to Him as Saviour, confessing our sins and accepting His death in our place, surrendering our lives to follow Him as Lord of our lives, we are forgiven and given His Spirit to live within us, giving us strength and help for this life… and hope of new life with Him for all eternity).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

A Very Powerful Force That is Available to Us All…

Something I’ve been learning about recently is prayer.

I’m learning that prayer is a powerful, powerful thing. Because God is all powerful and and prayer is God acting in answer to the words of feeble men and women.
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Those who come to God through Jesus (which we all can do if we come on His terms) have at their disposable an indescribably powerful weapon: the power of prayer.

I remember a quote I read from Charles Spurgeon, about prayer being like lightening, cutting through things with power.

“I do believe there is as much reality in a Christian’s prayer as in a lightning flash; and the utility and excellency of the prayer of a Christian may be just as sensibly known as the power of the lightning flash when it strikes the tree, breaks off its branches, and splits it to the very root.”

Spurgeon, C. (1993). The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life. ed. Lynwood, Washington: Emerald Books, p.69

And I believe that the power of prayer is greatly increased when you start to believe it really works, and you start making use of it in faith… and expecting God to answer.

 

I’ve heard a preacher say that Mary Queen of Scots was more afraid of John Knox’s prayers than the armies of her enemies.

And she was right.

Because prayer is more powerful than any army.

It’s like in 2 Kings 6:

’16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, “Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.” And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

19 Now Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, nor is this the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” But he led them to Samaria.’  2 Kings 6:14-19

The enemies could not touch the people of Israel, because they were depending on their God for help. God’s people were surrounded by the army of Heaven: far more powerful than the forces of their enemies. And God defeated their enemies in a way that was amazing!

And, if we are following Jesus, we too have incredible protection on our side.

If only we could see.

There are some powerful, powerful promises about prayer in the Bible.

And we can so easily water them down; reason them away.

But they are ours, not to be watered down, but to taken and used and claimed.

Sure, our hearts need to be in line with God’s will.

Sure, He gets the final say on how He acts.

Sure, we need to be surrendered to God’s plan and way of doing things.

But let’s not lose the power of the blank cheque we have been given.

Let’s think about some examples we have been given about what happened in answer to prayer.

God stopped the sun.

God stood up the sea.

God defeated huge armies.

God intervened in incredible, astounding ways.

Spurgeon also said this to believers in Jesus who pray with faith:

“You have power in prayer, and you stand today among the most potent ministers in the universe that God has made. You have power over angels, they will fly at your command. You have power over fire, and water, and the elements of the earth. You have power to make your voice heard beyond the stars; where the thunders die out in silence, your voice will wake the echoes of eternity. The ear of God himself will listen and the hand of God himself will yield to your will. He commands you pray, “Your will be done,” and your will, will be done. When you can plead his promise then your will is his will.”

Spurgeon, C. (1993). The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life. ed. Lynwood, Washington: Emerald Books, p.67

I found myself thinking last night what my life would be like if I could not pray; did not know how. I couldn’t imagine it. It would be too awful for words! Not to have the joy; the freedom; the relief of being able to lift my burdens up to my Father, and know He will act on my behalf. Life would be so very, very different.

It made me long for others to know this reality, too: the joy of bringing our hearts and burdens to God.

Maybe you already know Him too. Let’s make more use of this unlimited gift He has given us! I know I need to!

Maybe you have never prayed before. Oh, dear friend, you are missing out! God is waiting right where you are, waiting to hear you speak to Him… in your own words… from your own heart… because He wants to meet with you, and to answer.

This same God, Who did incredible things in the past, is waiting to do incredible things for us today.

Okay, so we need to do things His way. We all mess up. That’s why we need the blood of Jesus for forgiveness. That’s why we need to turn from the things that offend Him and follow Him His way. Sin blocks things up and gets in the way of what God wants to do for us.

But God is calling us  to speak to Him: the One Who did incredible things in the past, Who does not change, and ask Him for whatever we want, so long as our hearts are surrendered to Him. Whatever we want.

‘The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.’ James 5:16b-19

So why do we limit God?

Why do we hold back from asking?

Sometimes I sense Him asking me, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

Well, I think He’s always asking it. But, sometimes, I’m more aware of it.

I guess He’s asking me right now.

I guess He’s asking you right now, too.

What do you want Him to do for you? For those you love? For the nations? In your wildest dreams?

Yes, we need to surrender to Him and His ways. Yes, we need to align our hearts with His. Yes, we need to allow Him to be God in the way and the timing He answers. But let’s not lose the power of this very, very powerful and effective blank cheque that God is holding out to us.

What do you want Him to do for you?

‘Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.’ Psalm 37:4

Without reasoning it away, holding back or limiting what He can do.

What would I like Him to? What would you like Him to do?

Why not ask Him now?

He’s waiting for you. 😉

 

(The most important prayer we all need to pray is the one that opens the door to knowing God as our loving Heavenly Father: when we surrender to Jesus as our Saviour and Lord. Although we have all rebelled against Him, He loves us and longs to restore that relationship with Him. He gave His Son so that we can be forgiven from the judgement we all deserve and have the hope of living forever in His Heaven, when we come to Him, receive His forgiveness and surrender our lives to follow Him. He longs to meet with us, hear us and answer our prayers. He longs to give Himself to us).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Why Worry is Not As Innocent As it Seems…

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So, again, I think the subject for this post is worry… and trust. It’s the subject I feel God wants me to write about again, and it’s definitely one I need to grow in!

Do you ever catch yourself fretting about something you’re already committed to God through Jesus?

Over and over again?

And do you ever think that worry isn’t that big a deal, really?

The other day, I was spending time with the Lord, seeking Him about some things I was, yes, worried about. And He encouraged and comforted me. I could sense Him so gently encouraging me. It was so tender: as if He was saying, “Let go of your fear, Caroline. You can let go of your fear.” … and I kept fretting.

And then I felt Him, very gently and tenderly, encouraging me. It was so encouraging that it wasn’t really a rebuke… but I knew it was what I needed to hear. The sense of it was something like this: “Stop fretting, Caroline! You have given it to Me… over and over again. I know about it and I’m taking care of it! Just relax! You will see My answer soon!”

It was bang on. It was right. I had given my worries to Him. Now all I needed to do was stop fretting, and trust (and even praise Him for the answers that are on their way!).

And I, as I prayed into it, I felt Him showing me how often I fret about things. I allow anxious thoughts into my mind, and I play with them and try to solve them, when I’ve already given them to the Lord, and He’s already encouraged me that He’s taking care of them. And I felt Him encouraging me that this way of thinking needs to change. Yes, He is gracious. Yes, He still loves me when I worry! But I can change, and I need to if I want to achieve all the things God wants to do through my life and ministry. Worry will hamper my ministry and steal my faith in the Lord. Because God responds and does amazing things in answer to faith.

And fear chokes out faith.

Worry will hold back things that God wants to do in answer to faith in Him through Jesus, because it will choke out the faith. If I let Him change me, faith will rise up in new, wonderful ways, and He will do much more than I ever thought possible in answer to the faith that is left after the worry has begun to fall away.

Worry is not an innocent, harmless habit. Not only does it weaken us (and could even make us ill), but it chokes out the faith that God wants to use to do amazing things in and through our lives, when we come to Him through Jesus.

God led me recently to a sermon about how Satan wants to use fear and anxiety in our lives. It was a powerful message. I knew it would be- my computer kept refusing to play it, and so did my phone! So I guessed the enemy didn’t want me to listen to it! And I was right about that, I think. It was really helpful. Satan will try to get into our lives and hold us back in various ways. And one of those is worry and fear. It’s pretty subtle, too- worry doesn’t even feel like sin, and it seems so innocent! But the enemy can really use it to hold us back and keep us down, holding us back from what God wants to do in and through our lives. You can hear the message here:

https://www.preachtheword.com/sermon/life06.shtml

Because what children of God through Jesus really need to do is to stand in faith on God’s promises: to commit our worries to God, and believe that He will act in the best way and at the best time- as we trust in Him.

‘Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.’ Psalm 37:5

But how can we stand in faith on God’s promises if we are letting anxiety take our faith?

The battle with worry is really a battle for faith in God.

And we are called to fight that battle in our minds.

‘casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,’ 2 Corinthians 10:5

It won’t feel good to break the thought patterns. I guess it will be a healing process, over time. But I think the Lord is encouraging me that the process will be beautiful: like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. As less fear is there, in the silence that remains in my mind, faith will rise up. And He will answer that faith in very beautiful, powerful ways.

My friend was wearing a t-shirt the other day: “Dream Big!” You know, if we’re following Jesus, there’s no reason not to dream big! There is no limit to what God can do in answer to the prayer of faith! All things are possible with Him! Sure, it may not look like what we expect. It means surrendering to His way. It may take a while. It may be unexpected. But that will be because He’s doing more, not less. If we let go of our fears and trust Him, I think He will amaze us by what He does!

As He says,

‘”Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”‘ Psalm 81:10b

And worry will only limit that faith; limit the beautiful, amazing things God wants to do through our faith.

So, yes, it’s time to let go of the worries… Over and over again, if necessary!

Because we really can cast our cares on Him.

“casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

It’s as if He is reassuring me, “You can let go, Caroline. You can let go. I’ve got you safe.”

If you’re following Jesus, He’s got you safe, too. And you can let go too!

(When you know Jesus as Saviour and are following Him as Lord, there really is nothing to worry about because you are His. But that pre-condition is really important, because we all have a big problem: our sin and the coming judgement. That’s why Jesus came, died on the cross and rose again. And He offers forgiveness and new life to all who will receive His forgiveness, turn from wrong and surrender to Him as Lord of their lives. When you have done that and are following Him, you can know that He will take care of you… now and forever.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

A Moment of Deep Peace…

The other week, I was blessed by a few days staying with a dear friend. My friend has a beautiful garden. One afternoon, I was sitting in it, reading and enjoying the sunshine.

In the peace and beauty of that moment, I could feel the sweetness of resting in God; of basking in His love; of knowing all is well for me, His child through Jesus, whatever may come. Yes, I get anxious, and yes, there are trials, but His reassurance is so real. For I belong to Jesus. I am forgiven. I am His. I am following Jesus. My future is in His hands. The One Who made the garden beautiful is the One who is doing beautiful things in my life, too, even when I don’t see the whole picture yet; even when it’s hard. I can trust in Him.

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I took up a pen and tried to put it into words.

In the Garden

Richness in a garden basked

In life and colour, warmth and light;

A breeze that ripples, silky; bright

Beneath a vast expanse- wide sky.

To rest within a Father’s arms,

To sit and smile; to know His care;

To hear; believe that all is well;

His love surrounding; everywhere.

 

I feel the kiss of shivered breeze.

The shadows dance; light moves; I hear

The rustle of the vital world.

I sit in beauty’s gentle bower.

To know the One Who made all this;

So loved; surrounded; endless care.

Soul happy in the loving gaze

Of Him who smiles and soothes each fear.

 

Fat flowers bob; their purple balls

Rise, dancing in this joyous light.

The wealth of rippling shapes and forms

That grow within this place of life.

Though I know not the way He leads,

His tender whispers quiet fear.

I soften as a weaned child

And smile; He holds me gently here.

 

All around, the things that grow

Sprout and bud their wholesomeness

And burst with all this rising life

And richly flower their ripening feast.

I know the One Who makes them grow.

Live in the care behind. Deeply.

He feeds each tree; each flower; each seed.

Yes, my Lord holds the world, and me.

 

My Lord tends to the tiny flower,

All pink and lovely, softly sweet;

So frailly flitting; tender; kept.

Her fragile beauty delicate.

I feel my smallness; know His care.

His touch so very gentle here.

And know that, as the smallest flower,

I am so safely kept; no fear.

 

In the garden, I can taste

The beauty of His offered grace.

The Hand that holds the world around;

The care that breathed it all awake

And know, behind the awesome power,

The tender love that gives me rest

And sit and still and breathe awhile

And know, soul deep, that God knows best.

 

(That peace of resting in God’s love can be yours, too, when you know Jesus as your Saviour. He offers each of us forgiveness from our guilt when we turn from our sin, trust in what He did for us on the cross, and choose to follow Him as Lord of our lives. It’s the way of knowing the peace of a Father’s care through all the trials of this broken world, and the way to life forever in His Heaven).

 

Do You Ever Put God in a Box?

Do you ever underestimate God?

Expect Him to act in a certain way? Limit what you think He can or will do?

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I remember a friend at University, who used to talk about ‘putting God in a box’.

Yup, I do that.

And then He bursts the boxes apart by doing far more than we could even ask, dream or imagine… usually on another dimension, with lots of extra thrown in!

I think I often underestimate my Heavenly Father.

Well, that’s an understatement!

Not just in what He can do.

But His kindness. His gentleness. His tenderness. His care.

He much He loves.

How deeply He knows me, in a way that no-one else does. How deeply I understands what I need.

How much He cares.

You see, He cares so very, very much more than we realise. He loves so much deeper than we could ever dream of.

Sometimes I think of Him in a certain way… and then He does something that blows my mind… and I realise… He is so, so much bigger and better and more wonderful than I could ever think of in my wildest dreams! He is real and He is there and He really answers and He really acts… wisely and wonderfully and powerfully, but also tenderly for His people, too.

In big ways, and in little ones. To be honest, it’s often the little ones that get me the most: things that only He could do; things only He could know about. Answering prayers I haven’t even realised I’ve prayed. Doing things I’ve forgotten to even ask for.

And He delights to do so!

He blows my mind, again and again and again.

And I find myself encountering the One Who is so much bigger; so much better than my wildest dreams.

But it’s not just in the big answers. It’s in encountering Him in and through it all.

He cares so much more than we realise when we are hurting. We forget; we go on our way; trying to keep strong; thinking He must want us just to push through. And, all the time, He is there, waiting for us to come to Him; because He wants to comfort us; because He wants to hold us close.

 ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,’ 1 Cor 1:3

He will fix the problems one day- ultimately, in eternity. Those who follow Jesus down the narrow road (and we all need to) have every reason to hope. But He also wants to pour His love in now. He wants us to find Him in it all.

He knows this is a broken world. He never meant for it to be like that. We are the ones who broke it, and He is the One Who is going to put it right when Jesus comes back to judge the world and collect His people: His bride. But even now, in the middle of all the mess, the Father longs to hold us; to pour in His love; to comfort us through it all.

To minister to us in ways we’d never even dream of. To counsel us. To protect us. To give us peace.

To answer our prayers. But, more than that, to give us what we never even realised we longed for: God.

Yes, He loves to amaze us by what He does. But He loves to amaze us in the process, too: by showing up; by pouring in His love; by giving us Himself.

It may be a painful process to do things His way (like labour). But He’ll burst our boxes apart in the process if we let Him in… as we find Him… and discover that He is really all we are looking for, anyway.

I’m learning that it means letting go of our ideas about how we think He should answer… and our timetables, too.

It means letting Him do things His way.

But it’s not because He’s cruel, and it’s not because He’s going to let us down. No way.

He is Love. Pure love.

It’s because our boxes aren’t big enough to hold what He wants to do.

‘”Then you will know that I am the Lord,
For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.”’ Isaiah 49:23c

And, when He bursts our boxes apart, we find Him waiting there… real, wonderful and beyond our wildest dreams.

Love.

God.

The One we have been looking for all along.

The One Who is waiting for us with open arms. 🙂

’20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.’ Eph 3:20-21

 

(He is the One Who cares so much that He gave His one and only Son to bring us into His family. Jesus died in our place, so that we can be forgiven… the slate washed clean… when we come to Him and receive His forgiveness, turn from our wrong ways and surrender to follow Him and do things His way. He is better than your wildest dreams, and He longs to receive you with open arms when you come to Him in faith. He is waiting to rescue you for all eternity: to give you an astounding, eternal hope. He is waiting for you now).

(To receive free encouraging emails, click ‘follow’. I’d love to keep encouraging you!) 🙂

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Love That Can Truly Set You Free…

Lately, God has been teaching me a lot about His love for me as Father, and what that means. It’s so precious; so beautiful; so healing; so freeing. And I want to share more with you, if that’s ok. Because I think it’s crucially important in setting us free in all kinds of ways.

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You see, all of us are searching. We are searching for peace; for security; for significance. We have caught glimpses of these things sometimes; in our families; in good things; in things that make us, for a few moments, feel secure; feel loved. We spend our whole lives searching for more, in all kinds of places, good and bad. But it never truly lasts, does it?

What we are all truly longing for, deep down, is our heavenly Father.

And the truly amazing thing is that He is longing for us, too! He made us for Himself, and He longs to fill the holes in our hearts with His love. He has infinite, amazing, incredible, endless love, offered to each of us without limit or measure.

He waits for us to come to Him; to let go of the other things we look to, to surrender our hearts to Him, so that He can fill us up with Himself.

He longs to comfort our tears.

He longs to take away our guilt and fill us up with His peace; hold us in His eternal embrace.

He longs to fill the aches with something deeper; something better; something sweeter than the things we think we long for.

He loves to pour in love, and more love, and more love, until we are so full with Him that it overflows out of us to a hurting, broken world.

If we seek Him on His terms; if we let go of other things; if we wait for Him, He will meet with us.

‘And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.’ Jeremiah 29:13

His dreams for us are far bigger and more wonderful than our dreams for ourselves. And the best dream of all is knowing this Love that has been reaching out to us all along; the Love that we were made for. He longs to fill us up. He longs to give us joy. He longs to set us free to be ourselves in Him.

And this beautiful journey has all kinds of beautiful implications. As we come to Him on His terms and surrender and let Him pour His love in, we will begin to be truly more ourselves. We will begin to find freedom from hurts we have carried maybe all our lives. Fear and comparison will begin to fall away. Our lives will have meaning in ways we never could have imagined. We will become vessels who can impart life and love to others.

It’s not a once-for-all thing. It may take time. It’s a journey of knowing Him; surrendering to Him; letting Him be God; letting Him in. In my experience, He often doesn’t do what I think He will- it’s better, and deeper, and harder, and more beautiful, and more wonderful and more healing and more worth it than that.

And it does mean doing things His way. It does mean surrendering our hearts. It does mean doing what He tells us to do in His word: things like turning from our sins, and forgiving others, and following Jesus down the narrow road; and surrendering to let Him do things His way.

But it’s worth it. It’s good, not bad. It’s amazing!

It’s the way to life that is truly life… forever.

And, yes, it may involve a process of suffering. This is a broken world after all. It’s not the way it was meant to be, and it’s not the final word. Eternity will change everything, when He comes to judge the world and put everything right (which is why we need a Saviour). For those who follow Jesus, the future is ultimately only full of hope.

But knowing His love changes things here, too. He brings comfort. He brings peace. He brings deep heart healing. He brings hope. He brings joy. When will let Him in on His terms, there’s no limit to what He can do in our hearts and lives.

‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,’ 2 Corinthians 1:3

He is always there, waiting for us, longing for us, yearning for us to come to Him.

And He can bring transformation and beauty in incredible, life- changing ways. The verses below talk about the ministry of Jesus:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3

Whether you’ve known God for a long time or this is the very first time you let Him in, He is right there with you right now, waiting for you to come to Him and surrender; waiting to pour His love into your heart.

‘Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
Blessed are all those who wait for Him.’ Isaiah 30:18

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When you Want the Very Best Gift of all…

What do you see as the best gift you could ever have in life? The thing you long for most of all?

Something has been clicking in me recently, and I want to share it with you, because it’s life-changing.

It’s something I should have realised a long time ago, and maybe I did, but the Lord has been showing me again.

The greatest gift God can ever give us is Himself.

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Knowing God. Knowing His love. Knowing Him as Father.

There are many good gifts in this world, and they all come from God.

‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.’ James 1:17

But none of them can ever truly satisfy the deep longings of our hearts. Only God can do that.

‘O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.’ Psalm 63:1-8

 

Only He can heal the deep wounds of our hearts.

Only He can truly meet our longings for love; for peace; for significance.

Only He can truly satisfy our souls.

We all have empty, thirsting hearts. We live in a broken world. We are broken too. Our sins have broken us, and the wounds of this life have knocked us down. Some of us are very broken. And we all search desperately for something to fill the ache. We all look in different places, but there are some common ones we look in- like other people, relationships, approval, money, pleasure, quick fixes…

And yet, none of these truly, deeply fill the ache.

‘“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”‘ Jeremiah 2:13

What we are really looking for is God Himself.

The Father we have been looking for all our lives.

The only One Who can truly satisfy our souls and make us whole.

Sometimes, God breaks in and gives us good gifts; things we have longed for for a long time.

But they are not the best gift (and seeing them as best will actually hurt us; not help us).

The very best gift God can ever give is Himself.

That dawned on me recently. God has been taking me on such a beautiful journey, revealing more of His love for me as my Father; pouring His love into broken places in my heart. But still I look for other things. But I realised this the other day: knowing Him and His love is the best thing He could ever give me.

This journey of discovering the love of my Heavenly Father is the best gift of all.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be other blessings. But none of them could be better than knowing Him; than delighting in how good He is; than discovering His love; than the outpouring of love into my heart from His Father heart.

It’s even worth going through tough seasons, when the tough seasons draw you into His arms, where He pours out His love.

There is peace in that. The more you know His love, the more you can stop striving; stop searching. Sure, good things will come in this life. Bad things will come too, until we (those who follow Jesus) make it to Heaven. But they never need to touch the deepest thing: I am loved by my Heavenly Father. He can satisfy every longing. He can quench every  thirst. He can fill every ache with Himself.

Whatever life brings, I already have the best gift of all, because I have Him. Drinking from Him, I am full to overflowing… and more and more as I discover more of His love.

Because He is the One we have all been searching for all along.

And He is reaching out to you with His love, too. He gave His Son so you can be forgiven and accepted as His dearly loved child. He longs to sweep you up in His love… whether for the first time, as you surrender to Jesus as Lord and Saviour, turning from your sin and receiving forgiveness through Jesus as you surrender to follow Him, or again and again as you get to know God more and seek Him to let Him fill and heal up your heart.

God is the One we need, and knowing Him is the best gift of all.

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Why Life Doesn’t Have to be So Heavy

Do you know what it is to live often tense; often anxious? I sure do!

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The Lord has been showing me recently (again) that, the more I know I am loved, the more anxiety can fall away.

I so often worry: living tense; inwardly fretful; hyper-vigilant.

But I am His child. I am forgiven; accepted; secure in the Father’s love (and you can be too when you come to Jesus, trust in Him as your Saviour for His forgiveness, turn from your sin and follow Him as your Lord. It’s way of eternal rescue from the coming Judgement… and the way to know the love of the Father Who is reaching out to us all).

In the Father’s love, there is peace. There is security. There is provision for our every need. There is hope for the future. There is the promise that ultimately, when we belong to Jesus and follow Him, all will be well.

It doesn’t mean there will be never be trials, but it does mean that every trial is tenderly measured out; and accompanied by abundant provision, which we generally cannot see in advance.

Being so very, very loved by a heavenly Father is the grounds for being less anxious about life (actually, He tells us not to be anxious at all!), because He really has got it all in hand, and He really is so very kind, loving and wise.

‘As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.’ Psalm 103:13-14

The more I soak in His love, the more I will began to grasp how loved I am; and the more I will begin to be more relaxed; less tense; more at peace. Secure in the love of the Father. Because His strong arms are around me and His provision is assured, I really don’t need to be afraid.

‘Of Benjamin he said:

“The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him,
Who shelters him all the day long;
And he shall dwell between His shoulders.”’ Deuteronomy 33:12

And I will have a happier heart in God.

‘A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance’. Proverbs 15:13

That doesn’t mean there won’t be trials. This is a broken world. God uses trials to grow us while we are down here. And He does give His people work to do for His Kingdom (not to earn anything, but as a response of love). But He promised to provide abundantly. Each trial is measured tenderly, with abundant provision. And He wants me to rest in His love to send the provision right when I need it; instead of fretting about what if.

Because He is the One Who wants to carry me.

‘“Listen to Me, O house of Jacob,
And all the remnant of the house of Israel,
Who have been upheld by Me from birth,
Who have been carried from the womb:
Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.“‘ Isaiah 46:3-4

And, actually, God is such a gracious God that He delights to come through for those who lean on Him. He is glorified when we trust Him; when we live like He really is good. He delights to come crashing through with provision when we trust in Him alone.

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;’ Proverbs 3:5

‘In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Then the earth shook and trembled;
The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken,
Because He was angry.
Smoke went up from His nostrils,
And devouring fire from His mouth;
Coals were kindled by it.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down
With darkness under His feet.
10 And He rode upon a cherub, and flew;
He flew upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness His secret place;
His canopy around Him was dark waters
And thick clouds of the skies.
12 From the brightness before Him,
His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire.

13 The Lord thundered from heaven,
And the Most High uttered His voice,
Hailstones and coals of fire.
14 He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe,
Lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
The foundations of the world were uncovered
At Your rebuke, O Lord,
At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.

16 He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.’ Psalm 18:6-16

 

And it’s the way to a more peaceful, more joy-filled life- joyful in God.

‘”Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”’ Nehemiah 8:10c

I know I won’t get this all at once, but sometimes it sinks in… and it will, progressively, all the way to Glory. And He wants bless you with it, too. He is reaching out to all of us, first to draw us to receive His forgiveness and rescue from judgement through Jesus when we come to Him truly sorry, and then to pour His love upon us as we walk with Him… and His love increasingly sets us free to live more at peace, with joy, even in this broken world, because we know that we are loved.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

It’s Not Over Yet

Below are some words I wrote to encourage Christians who are going through hard times.

When you are trusting Jesus as your Saviour and following Him as your Lord, though life can be very tough at times, there is always a reason to keep going, because God always has a good plan in the end.

Eternal blessing is coming for those who follow Jesus. It’s always worth holding on.

(And, if you’re not a follower of Jesus yet, He longs to receive you, forgive you, give you a fresh start and give you this hope too).

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‘Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.’ Psalm 30:5b

I hope these words encourage you, too.

It’s Not Over Yet

It’s not over yet.

You can’t see the end:

What God is doing in love.

So don’t forget:

Lift up your head.

God will work all things for good.

 

All is not done,

Though you just can’t see

How your God moves; how He’ll come.

Faith will win out.

Time will tell yet

Why you were right to hold on.

 

You have a part.

You have a goal.

You still have something to do.

Keep pressing on.

Fulfil your call.

Sow through the tears. He’ll bless you.

 

Be still and know

That He is God.

Your God is still good; in control.

Weeping will turn

Into deep joy.

God has a plan all along.

 

It’s all in hand.

He thinks thoughts for you

Filled not with evil but good.

The end will be bright.

From tears will spring joy.

Be still and know He is God.

 

Fight through the night.

Hold onto what’s right.

God’s promises never can fail.

When Morning comes,

He will amaze.

You will be happy and whole.

 

And, after all,

God is your God.

He is the joy of your soul.

He will provide.

He satisfies.

He is your heart’s All in All.

 

(The Father is reaching out to all of us in such love. Though our rebellion has broken our relationship with Him and we all face His judgement, He gave His only Son to put that right. When you come to Jesus, turning from your sin and putting your trust in what He did on the cross, surrendering your life to follow Him as your Lord and Master, you receive complete forgiveness, eternal hope… and the encouragement that all things will ultimately work out for your good. He is reaching out to you today).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Is There a Safe Place in this Crazy World?

Is there a safe place in this crazy world?

Do you ever feel frightened by the vulnerability; unpredictability of this crazy life? I do.

And sometimes things happen that shock you, and could paralyse you with fear.

Like what happened this week in Manchester.

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Manchester. The place I have learned to call home.

I took a tram through Victoria station the other day, right near where the attack happened.

And then this.

It’s shocking. Sickening. Heartbreaking. Terrifying.

But the horrible thing is that it’s real.

A group of us went to a peace vigil the night after the attack at a local church. Actually, the church had planned to hold an election hustings. But then things changed. Bigger things because more important. So the election candidates can along, and we had a peace vigil instead at the local church. It was precious; beautiful. All were welcome, and many came, including some who had probably never before set foot in a church. A group of people joined together by a common humanity. Normal people like me. Politicians. The old and young alike. We sat silent in God’s presence… While they read prayers… While our local election candidates read well- known, well-loved passages of Scripture about the Lord being our Shepherd; about the One Who knows us intimately; about God Who is our fortress; about casting every care upon Him. It was a precious time of peace in a crazy world.

And I was asking God a question: how can I ever feel safe in this unsafe world? How do I know there won’t be another attack right where I am? How can I not be paralysed by fear?

Is there a safe place in this crazy world?

The passages they were reading answered my question.

‘The Lord of hosts is with us;

The God of Jacob is our refuge.’ Psalm 46:7

Yes, there is a fortress. His Name is the LORD. He is the only truly safe place in this crazy world.

You get into the fortress by putting your trust in Jesus as your Saviour, turning from your sin and following Him as Lord of your life. And you really do need to be in the fortress. Not just because this world is crazy now, but because it will only get crazier. We don’t like to think about it, but God makes it clear in His Word. Judgement is coming… anytime. That’s why we need a place of refuge.

And there is one. As you come to Jesus as your Saviour, turning from wrong and trusting in what He did on the cross, placing your life in His hands as your Lord, you are forgiven… accepted… welcomed… no matter what you have done.

And you are in the fortress. The place of safety. The place of security. The place of peace.

God doesn’t promise we will never go through suffering, but He does promise that, when we trust in Jesus and follow Him, He will always hold us tenderly, abundantly in His hands and provide for every single one of our needs. As we abide in Him, placing our lives in His hands, our hearts will find a safe place.

(The Lord led me to a helpful sermon about this yesterday- I recommend checking it out!   https://www.preachtheword.com/sermon/safe01.shtml  )

And something else clicked in me as I sat in that silent church, looking round at all of the people who had gathered. Other people need what I have. They need to know the peace; the hope; the security of what I have in Christ. And, because I have Him as my safe place, I am free to reach out to them in love.

When you know that you are held safe by God, you are suddenly free to reach out to others, because your heart is secure and because other people need what you have in Him. They too need the peace; the comfort; the eternal security that can only be found in Christ. I need to know that I am secure within the fortress of God, so that I can lean hard on Him… and reach out to others. Even if it puts me in harm’s way. Because God’s hand is on me, and He is holding me safe.

Other people need to know that He is God; that He can be their (your) fortress, too.

I think it is a journey to feel secure in this. It takes time. It takes leaning on the Lord. It takes soaking in His Word. It takes prayer. Maybe sometimes courage is deciding to act even though you still feel afraid. But it is true, however we feel.

There is a safe place in this crazy world. And He is available to all who will take refuge in Him.

‘God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.’ Psalm 46

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

A Place to Rest and Remember He is God

This is another full week when I’m busy preparing for a session in a recording studio. There isn’t a lot of time for blogging. So I thought I’d share a poem I wrote a while ago.

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I wrote it at a time when I was pretty anxious and fretful, and on holiday. In the midst of that time, God provided a beautiful day in a hotel spa relaxation space- a gift from a friend.

It was so quiet there, and peaceful, in a little haven deep below the rushing world. The light was muted and beautiful; water so blue and sparkling softly; everything gentle, soothing and calm. I sat there resting- and I had to get my pen and paper and put the peace into words. This is my attempt.

At the end of the day, God is God. If we belong to Him through Jesus (and that’s the issue that determines whether all is really well with us or not) and are following Him, ultimately, all is well. We sometimes fret and worry, but, honestly, we can receive His peace. All is well. We are loved. Our hearts can rest in Him.

Rest

Soft and shining, water plays,

Blue- a thousand depths of blue-

Smoothing, gleaming, ripples glaze

Still, yet ever shifting new.

Soft, a thousand voices fall

Silent in this melting peace.

Deep, this gentle quieting

To feel the troubled echoes cease.

 

Sapphire, sparkling all around,

Glistening in the muted light:

Calm- so calm and glowing down,

Whispering in softest flight.

Sleep, my troubled murmurs, sleep.

Find peace in the quietness.

Listen in this glowing light.

Echoes of Eden bring you peace.

 

Plunge, my weary worries. Bathe

Within this balm of gentleness.

Wait, my anxious plannings, find

Deeply now this place of rest.

Thunders roar and earth may quake.

Winds can blow around you yet

But now- still to hear His voice:

A gentle haven, where you rest.

 

(All is truly well with us when we know that we are forgiven, and secure in God’s love. He offers us His forgiveness and eternal salvation when we turn from our sins, trust in Jesus as Saviour and follow Him as Lord. That’s the way to true, lasting peace… now and forever).

You’re Surrounded by Far More Love Than You Realise

One thing I have been learning recently, more and more, is about living in the Father’s presence, aware of His love.

Whether or not we realise it, the Father is always there with us; surrounding us; reaching out to us in love.

He gave His Son so that we can turn back to Him, be forgiven and receive the love that has always been reaching out to us…is reaching out to us now.

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Sometimes I am more aware of it than others. Sometimes He gives us a special sense of His presence to help us through a hard time (and we can ask Him for that- and for every other time, too!).

But, whether or not we realise it, He is always there with us, waiting for us, loving us.

He wants us to reach out to Him. He is always there, waiting for us; reaching out to us; offering us His love.

He wants to take our cares from us and give us His peace.

He wants to comfort us; sweeter than any false comfort we try to turn to for relief from life’s hurts.

He is there to forgive us when we go astray.

He is there to hold us while we hurt; and while we heal.

It can be a journey of beginning to believe it. It has been for me. The moment I gave my heart to Jesus as a very little girl, my relationship with the Father, which had been broken by my sin, was restored, but it has taken years for me to come to a place of deep peace in the Father’s love (and it will probably ebb and flow while I am on this earth). I used to think it wasn’t possible; that I would never believe He truly loves me; truly delights in me.

I asked Him to help me believe it, and He has done a deep work in me. I believe it now, at least a lot of the time. But, in Jesus, it was true all along, whether I knew it or not.

And it’s still true now, on days when I feel like it and days when I don’t.

Because my identity is in Christ. I am forgiven. I am accepted. I am so very, very loved. My Father sings over me; holds me in His grace.

I am His because of Jesus.

And I am not the only one! If you belong to Jesus, it’s true of you, too.

And, if you do not belong to Jesus yet, you can! He is there, waiting for you, offering His loving and gracious forgiveness when you come to Him, turning from wrong and believing that Jesus died in your place. It’s the way of following Him as Lord of our lives, and it’s not always easy, but it’s the way to know the love of the Father we all long to know… and it’s the way to an eternal Home with Him… the way to the love that has been surrounding you all along.

You are surrounded by far, far more love than you realise.

And He is waiting for you… loving you… right now.

‘Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.’ Psalm 103:1-14

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Have you ever longed for a friend who will never let you down?

Have you ever longed for someone who would always be there for you? Who would listen to you and never say the wrong thing? Who would love you no matter what you had done? Who would help you perfectly through every season and never, ever let you down?

When I was a young girl at primary school, one of my school friends asked me who my best friend was. She tried to guess, and couldn’t. When she found out my best friend was God, she laughed. She couldn’t believe it. Really? Yes.

Years later, it is still true. He is the most faithful, faithful Friend you could ever dream of. And He constantly amazes me with how amazing He is.

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The Lord has stayed with me through thick and thin. He has held me through tears. He has forgiven me for so many things. He has comforted me through fear. He has answered my prayers about things big and small in astounding, incredible ways.

He has led me and carried me with a faithfulness I could not have imagined if it wasn’t real.

And He continues to amaze.

There is a verse in Proverbs that says this:

‘But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.’ Proverbs 18:24b

I could say that of the Lord. Maybe you could too.

He is there, with me, through it all. Sometimes it’s more apparent than others. The times I have known it the most have been the hardest times. But it’s been always true, whether I have been aware of it or not.

One thing that has amazed me about Him recently is how He counsels. He really is the Wonderful Counsellor. He is not just wise; His tone is perfect, too. I am very sensitive; easily hurt. I hear the tone something is said in sometimes louder than what is said. And what amazes me about the Lord is how gentle He is with me. He doesn’t just give His counsel; He gives it so tenderly, so lovingly, especially when I feel fragile. He is just so, so kind.

Like with Elijah in 1 Kings 19. Elijah was exhausted; so worn down that he wanted to die. He walked miles because he needed to meet with God. And God did speak to him. But, first, God took care of him in a very tender way, and He also established the tone of the conversation by emphasising how gentle He can be. It was not a strong wind. It was not an earthquake. It was not a fire. It was quiet; gentle; tender, for Elijah’s worn down spirit.

’11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.’ 1 Kings 19:11-12

I want to encourage you to come to Him; to meet with Him; to cast your cares on Him. He loves. He forgives. He comforts. He consoles. He is just incredible. And Hereally is there for you.

Are you troubled? Take it to Him. Are you burdened? Take it to Him. Are you troubled by guilt? Take it to Him. Are you lonely? Heartbroken? Desperate? Take it to Him.

He is the Best Friend you could ever find, and it is amazing what He can do.

There is a song that has been well-loved in my family; an old, familiar hymn that you probably know. It’s stood me in good stead… even before that day when I told my friend my best friend was God. He still is. And He wants to be your Best Friend, too, through thick and thin.

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Saviour, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

Joseph M. Scriven, ‘What a Friend in Jesus’, 1855 (Public Domain)

(If you don’t know Jesus yet as Saviour and Lord, He is waiting for you to come to Him. We all need His free forgiveness from the judgement that is coming. We all need to turn from the wrong in our lives; the things that hurt Him, ourselves and others. We all need to surrender our lives into His hands; to choose to believe in His grace; to follow Him. It’s the way to eternal life, and it’s also the way to the best Friend you could ever, ever find. He longs to be your Best Friend, too).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Remembering to Taste the Joy…

Do you ever forget to smile? To taste the joy? To be thankful for the little gifts right now?  Do you ever look back and wonder why you lived that season so miserably, fretting and complaining, instead of appreciating what was good about it?

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This is me processing something I think the Lord has been reminding me of lately.

The Christian life doesn’t have to be so miserable! There is a whole lot of joy available when we love Jesus first, follow Him and trust in Him.

I know this is a broken world. Tears are real. Some seasons are so painful. And God doesn’t ever take that lightly. He really feels our grief and walks with us.

And there really is a cost to following Jesus. I believe in reaching the lost at any cost. I believe in doing whatever it takes to reach people for Him. And that generally involves paying a price of some kind, especially when it involves people who have never heard of Him before.

But there can also be a lot of joy along the way… even and especially in pouring your life out for His Kingdom.

‘”Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”’ Nehemiah 8:10c

Most of all, that joy is in knowing God. Sometimes, I think He protects us from too much of a good thing in this world, so that we can learn to find our joy in Him first. And joy in Him is just the best! Knowing God is always better. The more we focus on Him, spend time worshipping Him, lift up our eyes to Him, and deliberately delight in Him, the more joy we will find. Because He truly satisfies our thirsty hearts, first and foremost with Himself. Everything else is ultimately empty in comparison.

‘“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”‘ Jeremiah 2:13

Joy also comes from gratitude for the gifts He gives us. Gratitude from living in the moment with a childlike heart, thanking Him for the gifts right in front of us: the gifts we could so easily miss. That laughing moment with a friend. That happy song that makes you smile. That sweeping sunset. Take a moment to whisper, ‘Thank You’, and to realise Who it came from. Even in the midst of a trying time, it’s still a gift from Him.

It reminds me of a gift this week: singing in our prayer meeting with my friend’s little two-year-old Anna joining in: very loud, out of tune and with the wrong words!! I, as usual, was fighting my giggles! But I know the joy of that moment was a gift from the Father Who treasures little Anna’s efforts at worship- and shares them with us to make us smile, too!

Joy from expecting God to come through. Instead of the gloom of anticipating the worst, choosing to believe that His provision will come- because it always does, every time! Often in ways we don’t expect… but that could kind of make the anticipation and expectancy more fun! Worry really is unnecessary when we have a Father Who cares and always, always provides.

Joy from reaching out to others. There really is more blessing in giving than in receiving. Joy in choosing to forget ourselves for a moment and give something away to someone else: maybe something simple they need; or maybe truth; a word of encouragement; a prayer. I remember days when I was struggling, and I went to go shopping. It would have been so easy to ignore the person at the checkout. But I knew it would help me to reach out; to ask how their day was going. And, the times I did so, it did! There is actually joy in reaching out to others… and especially in sharing with them the Good News of Jesus that can change their lives.

Joy from the right perspective. The glass is always either half empty or half full. I often catch myself seeing it as half empty. But if I stop myself and ask, ‘What can I be thankful for right now?’, there is generally something so good right in front of me, if only I take a moment to notice it.

Joy from looking to the future; to eternity. For the person who is following Jesus, the future is full of such hope.

’16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.’ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Joy in trusting, instead of worrying. So much of the weight in my life is from looking ahead, and worrying how I will cope if such and such should happen, or with this or that… And it’s pointless because, firstly, it doesn’t make a difference and, secondly, God’s already got it covered anyway!

’33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’ Matt 6:33-34

It reminds me of the time when a stranger came up to me with a strong sense that God wanted her to share a word with me: Lighter!! This life doesn’t have to be so heavy! And, yes, the word absolutely fits. It did then and it still does, years later.

My shoulders are often weighed down with things I just really don’t need to carry- because they’re His problems, not mine! When you are trusting Him, life can be lighter!

‘”Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”’ Matt 11:28-29

No, the Christian life really doesn’t have to be so heavy. The more we live soaked in His love and surrendered to Him, the more we will find peace, joy and freedom growing… gradually, maybe, but it will come. And it will grow as we live resting in His incredible love for us.

’12 Of Benjamin he said:

“The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him,
Who shelters him all the day long;
And he shall dwell between His shoulders.”’ Deut 33:12

I think I’ll take a while to learn this. But I’m growing in it, slowly. And it makes life a lot happier… and lighter, too!

Want to join me? 😉

(To begin this joyful journey for yourself, come to Jesus for salvation from the judgement we all deserve, and face. Turn to Him and accept the free gift of forgiveness and new life He so freely offers, turning from wrong and surrendering your life into His hands. It will not always be easy to follow Him, but is so incredible and so worth it… and leads to an astounding, amazing, joy-filled eternal life. You will be amazed by what He will do!)

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Help and Hope for the Journey…

A passage that the Lord has been speaking to me through a lot lately is Psalm 23, so I thought I would share some thoughts about it.

river

To be honest, life isn’t always easy, is it? Belonging to Jesus as Saviour and Lord is incredible. But it isn’t always easy. And, in my experience, serving in full-time ministry doesn’t exactly make it easier! Especially when it’s full-time ministry for unreached people groups. And, whether you’re in ministry or not, to be honest, the promise for God’s children who belong to Jesus in this crazy world is, well, suffering. So this has been my question: What help is there for those of who believe in Jesus and follow Him, not just for eternity but for the journey until we get to Glory?

God showed me Psalm 23. And it’s so, so encouraging!

‘The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.’ Ps 23

It’s a psalm about provision; about bounty; about God helping His children through Jesus as their Shepherd through every single season of life; about His tender care over us; His constant presence; His watchful provision. It’s not just a promise about the final destination; it’s provision for the journey of life.

The Lord is my Shepherd. He takes care of me as His sheep. Sheep are vulnerable; fragile;   often silly. They don’t often make the best decisions! But they are watched over so wisely; so tenderly; so carefully by their faithful, constant shepherd.

‘I shall not want.’ (Ps 23:1b) Now that’s a promise! I will always, always have what I need. Ok, so not always what I would like. But I’ll always have enough. And I see it, looking back. Not just enough, actually, but an abundance. Not just of food, clothing etc, but of the things I didn’t even know I needed: wise counsel when I was confused… friends to help me out… the perfect book or sermon for the issue I was struggling with… the right place to live in… people to speak things into my life that I’d never have seen myself… and so, so much more. An abundance.

And He provides for the journey. Seasons. Green pastures. Still waters. Restoration of my soul. Rest. The Christian life is a journey, and it involves seasons. Rebuilding times. Refreshment. Happy times as well as hard ones. Strengthening times when we are exhausted. I look back and see that, too. And I see a pattern: times when God stretched me; when He was doing deep, painful things. And times when He gave me rest, to rebuild me. Or times when I was being stretched on one level and resting on another. And blessing. Happy holidays with friends. Times when He ministered deeply to my hurting heart. Restoration and rest. And in ways that only He would have even known I needed. Like once when I was pretty low, and exhausted, and a friend suddenly gave me a ticket to Spain for a week! Abundant provision from an abundant God. Provision for the journey. 

‘He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.’ (Ps 23:3b) Leading. Guidance. A promise that, if we will look to Him, He will lead us in the best way; in His plan; in the way He would have us go; in the way of ultimate blessing and victory and eternal fruit.

And He is with me in the valley. Close. Tender. Present.  Comforting. There is no fear when He is that close. I have known it. Maybe you have, too. It’s such compensation for the pain when you feel Him that close. It’s worth everything. It makes the hard times somehow sweeter than the easier ones… because of Him.

A table in the presence of my enemies. Abundant provision. And, yes, I have enemies. Not so much human ones as spiritual ones. They warned me when I joined Gospel for Asia: you’ll have a target on your back for spiritual attack. And, over seven years later, I have felt again and again that I do! All of our team do. All believers face spiritual attack, actually. But this is true, too: in the presence of my enemies, there is a table of abundant provision. I have seen it again and again. And it’s not just a half-hearted table. It’s abundant. Incredible, amazing things He loves to do for us. Wonderful times with friends. Soaking times in His presence when He comes so close. Healing up of our hearts. Teaching that is so alive it seems to be directly from His heart to us. Provision of things we’d never dream of ourselves (and, yes, I really have been given, among other things, a piano, a car and more than one phone in answer to prayer!).

‘You anoint my head with oil’. (Ps 23:5b) He pours out oil over my head. That makes me think of the oil of His Spirit; His presence. And there is nothing better; nothing more wonderful than knowing Him; than encountering the Spirit of the Lord. And it’s not just His presence; His Spirit gives us power for the journey; strength for the journey; anointing for the journey, to be powerfully used by Him.

‘My cup runs over.’ It’s a powerful picture; an overflowing cup. Not just enough, but abundance. Abundance for our thirst. When the missionary Hudson Taylor lost his wife, he came to realise that the Lord will always satisfy our thirsty hearts if we drink from Him. He said it like this:

‘Then it was I understood why the Lord had made that passage so real to me, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” Twenty times a day, perhaps, as I felt the heart-thirst coming back, I cried to Him,

“Lord, you promised! You promised me that I should never thirst.”

And whether I called by day or night, how quickly He came and satisfied my sorrowing heart!’

Howard Taylor, Dr and Mrs. (1989, 20009 edition). Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. ed. Chicago: Moody Classics, Chicago. p. 179-180.

We never need to be thirsty. If we keep drinking from Jesus, our cup will be running over; our thirst will be satisfied from the Fountain of living waters.

‘Surely and goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life’. (Ps 23:6a) That’s hope. Hope when I look into the future, knowing that there will be trials, uncertain of what life will bring. What will follow me down the road? Goodness and mercy. The goodness and mercy of the Lord. I don’t know what will happen, but I can be sure of that.

And at the end? ‘I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’ (Ps 23:6b) Now that’s Hope. With the Lord forever, in His house of abundance and peace and joy… and love. 

‘He brought me to the banqueting house,
And his banner over me was love.’ Song of Songs 2:4

Yes, the Christian life is hard. Maybe it will get harder as times get crazier in our crazy world. But that doesn’t change this: there is abundant provision for the journey from our abundant Shepherd. 

And that’s an abundant reason for hope… and even to relax in His faithful promises!

If you’re in a tough time right now, look for His provision. If you can’t see it, ask Him. It will be there… and will continue to be there as you follow Him, all the way to His (and our, if we belong to Him) eternal Home.

(To know this hope and abundant provision for yourself, come to Jesus. Receive His free and loving forgiveness for all you have done wrong. Turn from your sin. Surrender to Him as your Lord. Follow Him on the pathway and you will know the most tender, abundant, wonderful Shepherd as yours, too… forever).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Day That Changed History Forever…

What does Good Friday mean to you?

To me?

How easily it can become routine: to remember the cross where He died. How easily it can become normal to take bread and wine; taking it lightly that He gave His life. But it isn’t light. It’s earth- shattering. It’s shocking. It’s life-changing. It’s real.

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He did it for me… For all of us who will receive it. His wounds should have been my wounds. His death should have been my death. His tears should have been my tears. He was taking my place.
The death I should have died, He died. The blood I should have shed, He shed. The pain I should have known, He knew.
He took my sins. He bore my shame. He paid it all.
Now He clothes me with His stunning righteousness; receives me with His grace.
Why did He die? For me.
Not just for me. For all who will receive Him; for all who will turn from their sins and receive His salvation.
‘It was for Caroline.’
It was so she could know Me. It was so I could have her with Me forever. It was because I love her.
It should have been me, but it was Him. It was Him taking my shame.
I can’t change it. I can’t add to it. I can’t do anything… Only receive it. That’s all.

‘He said, “It is finished!”’ John 19:30b

There’s nothing else to done. The price has been paid. God’s love is poured out on all who receive the shed blood of His Son in their place.
All we can do is surrender… turn from our sin… receive… Receive being forgiven. Receive being free. Receive being loved.
Peace. Joy. Hope. Life.
Forever.
Because He has done it all.

But I can’t help living differently because of it. Because it’s earth-shattering. Because it’s life-changing.
Because His blood changes absolutely everything.
Everything.
Nothing can be the same again.
I am forgiven. I am free. I am whole.
I am His.
I am covered by His blood, and I am so, so very loved.
And I can never be the same again.
Bought with a price… Such a price.
The price of His broken body… His given life.

‘Love so amazing, so Divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.’ (Isaac Watts, ‘When I Survey’, public domain).

I found this beautiful old hymn a few years ago:

O Love divine, what hast thou done!
The immortal God hath died for me!
The Father’s co-eternal Son
Bore all my sins upon the tree.
Th’immortal God for me hath died:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

Is crucified for me and you,
To bring us rebels back to God.
Believe, believe the record true,
Ye all are bought with Jesus’ blood.
Pardon for all flows from His side:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

Behold and love, ye that pass by,
The bleeding Prince of life and peace!
Come, sinners, see your Savior die,
And say, “Was ever grief like His?”
Come, feel with me His blood applied:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

Then let us sit beneath His cross,
And gladly catch the healing stream:
All things for Him account but loss,
And give up all our hearts to Him:
Of nothing think or speak beside,
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

Charles Wesley, 1742, public domain

The other year, I wrote a poem that borrows the last line, thinking through what it means that He died for me… that He is mine.

Crucified

My soul has found her All in All,
Resting in love immeasurable,
Passionately by grace pursued;
Intimately by mercy wooed;
With tears of blood, cost of His life,
My Lord, my Love is crucified.

My heart is singing, tears of joy:
Deeply secure, my soul is full.
Despair to hope, with pledge of blood,
Tears become peace, promise of God,
Laid down His life to draw me nigh,
My Lord, my Love is crucified.

Why all these doubts? He paid in blood.
Why these quick fears? My debt secured.
My soul can sing, for I am free.
It is now finished. All is peace.
He pledged His love. He gave His life.
My Lord, my Love is crucified.

New hope of life with Him to share.
His blood the pledge of future care.
Passionately by grace enclosed,
Intimately by mercy known,
Promised in blood. Forever mine.
My Lord, my Love is crucified.

(To receive this incredible love and forgiveness for yourself, come to Jesus. We all need Him to rescue us from the judgement that is coming… that’s why He died. Turn from your sin. Receive His forgiveness. Give yourself to Him. Surrender your life and your future into His hands. He longs to pour His love into your life and set you free…. forever).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

How the Father’s Love Can Help With Fear…

You know I struggle with fear and worry. I blog about it often, because I battle with it often!

Here is me processing more, in the light of what God has been showing me about His love as Father, and how His love can help to cast out fear.

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’18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.’ 1 John 4:18

Do you live in a cage of fear, afraid? Those who believe in Jesus as Saviour and are following Him as their Lord can know a love that can set us free from fear. When you remember the love in your Father’s eyes, love deeper and stronger and wiser and more tender than you could ever begin to conceive, the fear will begin to fall away. As you learn to trust His heart, the fear will lose its power over you.

The safest place in the world is being held by your Heavenly Father.

The reason that believers in Jesus don’t need to be anxious about the future is that our Heavenly Father loves us. Really loves us. He cares so much. No detail is too small for His tender concern. No situation is unknown to Him. He loves and He cares, and that is why we can be sure that we have nothing to be afraid of. He has promised never to fail us, and He never will. He will never break His promises to us. He is God, and He never breaks His word. And… He loves us!

God’s children through Jesus are secure, because He holds us in His arms.

’12 Of Benjamin he said:

“The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him,
Who shelters him all the day long;
And he shall dwell between His shoulders.”’ Deuteronomy 33:12

Oh, and by the way, He knows just how to take care of even the most fragile and vulnerable, and just what pace to take them forward.

’13 But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are weak, and the flocks and herds which are nursing are with me. And if the men should drive them hard one day, all the flock will die. 14 Please let my lord go on ahead before his servant. I will lead on slowly at a pace which the livestock that go before me, and the children, are able to endure, until I come to my lord in Seir.”’ Genesis 33:13

Your anxiety about the future falls away when you feel the strong arms of your Father around you, holding you secure. You no longer need to be afraid when you realise that your Father is strong and able and will always protect you and provide for you. You’re not alone anymore, and there is Someone so strong and faithful, so tender and yet so powerful, Who has promised to protect, cherish and provide for you. The present is no longer threatening, because you know you are safe and secure. And the future begins to lose its fear, because you know you are not alone, because you are His. Again and again, the Lord tells His people in His Word not to be afraid. Why? The world is big and scary and anything could happen. But, He is with us. When we realise Who He is, that is all the comfort we need! Your Father’s tender, yearning, oh-so-strong love is the certain assurance that He will always give you what you need. It is your Father’s job to provide for you, and He delights to do so! So you have no need to be anxious!

‘”‘Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”‘ Isaiah 41:10

‘”The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He will thrust out the enemy from before you,
And will say, ‘Destroy!’”‘ Deut 33:27

‘“Listen to Me, O house of Jacob,
And all the remnant of the house of Israel,
Who have been upheld by Me from birth,
Who have been carried from the womb:
Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.”‘ Isaiah 46:3-4

God’s children are carried.

He longs for us to know His peace; His presence; the tender, sweet release of simply being still and knowing that He is God.

Something God has been ministering into my fear has been this: no matter what happens, I am held. Whenever I become conscious of fear, I can remember that my Heavenly Father is right there with me, holding me. And I can look for His provision, for it will always, always be there.

When I become aware of my fear, I can take it to Him. I can bring it into His presence, and rest in His arms. I can be held, and let Him minister to my fear with His love.

‘Lord, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever.’

Psalm 131

I am always safe, because I am always held in His loving arms. Sure, I may come under attack, but I am held within a strong and mighty fortress.

‘He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord“He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lordwho is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”’ Psalm 91

Help will always come to God’s children. Provision will always come. Strength will always come. He will give His children through Jesus all we need, because He is our Father and He loves us.

Now that’s security! 🙂

(To know this security for yourself, come to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Turn from your sin and believe Jesus died to buy your forgiveness. Surrender to Him as your Lord. Place your life in His hands and follow Him. You can know the security of the incredible, unending love of the Father for yourself… forever).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

A Love that can Change your Life…

Something God has been ministering to me deeply is His love as Father.

It’s the most astounding, healing, freeing, wonderful truth… And it’s everything our souls truly crave and long for. I’d like to blog about it because it’s so wonderful, and so, so transforming and healing and good!
heaven-blog-post

Knowing that you are loved by God as your Heavenly Father is so, so healing. It’s not something to know on the surface: it’s something to soak in; to drink in; to bathe in; to live in. It’s soaking in His presence, drinking in His love, listening to His tender, gentle voice. Because His love is real, and solid, and powerful, and unimaginable, and unending, and so, so, so very good.

Knowing God as Father is the answer for everything; everything. It’s forgiveness through Jesus when we mess up. It’s strength when we are weak. It’s arms of comfort when our hearts are racked with pain. It’s strong arms of security when we are afraid. It’s peace when we are anxious and confused and anxious. It’s assurance that we are loved when we worry what people will think. It’s hope for the future and deep, pure, wise strength for today. It’s everything we need for the journey.

No matter what the problem is, the solution is always coming to our Heavenly Father, and letting Him be all we need. He has comfort for our sorrows; joy for our tears. He holds us in strong arms. He surrounds us with a fierce, powerful love. He is fiercely tender and wonderfully protective. When we look to Him through Jesus, He will meet each one of us with whatever we need each day.

It starts the way of the cross; turning from our wrong ways and receiving the gift of forgiveness through His Son Jesus, because He loves us so much that He gave His own Son to make a way for us to come back into His Arms. It starts with surrendering our lives to His powerful, wonderful love- to do things His way, because He knows best. That’s the beginning of the relationship, and the way of rescue from the judgement we all deserve and knowing eternally the love that He longs to shower on each one of us.

But that’s only the beginning. The beginning of a life surrounded by His love, whether we are aware of it or not. There is nothing like being held in the Father’s arms and being loved. Sometimes life hits so hard and hurts so much. Sometimes pain is so deep that it feels like no person can come close enough to truly help. Sometimes no person is gentle or patient enough to speak into a place that is raw inside you. But the Father always, always understands. He is always, always there for us. He can minister to our hearts with love in a way that is soothing and healing and deep and true. There is no gentleness; no kindness; no peace like His. Come into His presence, and soak your heart in His love.

And, no, sometimes He doesn’t feel close. I’ve known seasons like that. Sometimes He is growing our faith based on truth, and not on feelings. I remember begging Him with tears to come close, because He felt so far away. But that didn’t change the reality. He is there, and He loves us,  just the same.

And there are so many implications of being loved like this. One that God is encouraging my heart with at the moment is this: it takes away the need for worry, because it means that you are safe, protected and provided for. I am such a worrier- have been as long as I can remember. But God has been encouraging me to rest in His love for me. If I truly believe that I am loved, I won’t be striving to always have all the bases covered. I won’t be looking ahead in fear, trying to provide for every eventuality. I won’t be living today burdened with fear of what might happen tomorrow. I’ll be secure; at peace; able to live and laugh and love and rejoice because I know deep down that He already has tomorrow covered. When I get there, I will find the provision He has had planned all along… because He is a good Father and He actually, truly cares. 

Here are some verses that have been encouraging my heart about my wonderful Heavenly Father, to help you process how good He is:

 

‘The Lord is merciful and gracious,

Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

9 He will not always strive with us,

Nor will He keep His anger forever.

10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,

Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,

So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

12 As far as the east is from the west,

So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father pities his children,

So the Lord pities those who fear Him.

14 For He knows our frame;

He remembers that we are dust.’ Ps 103:8-14

‘He heals the brokenhearted

And binds up their wounds.’ Ps 147:3

‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,’ 2 Cor 1:3

‘He will feed His flock like a shepherd;

He will gather the lambs with His arm,

And carry them in His bosom,

And gently lead those who are with young.’ Isaiah 40:11

‘7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.’ 1 Peter 5:7

I’m writing a song at the moment. It’s not finished yet and it may change, but here are the rough words so far. It’s about being held by my Father through every need, and every season of life.

 

Father Me

Being held by you is my refuge;

Being held within Your mighty wings;

Safe within Your fortress;

Comfort in Your peace;

You are all I need.

You are enough for every sorrow.

You are enough for every fear.

 

Father me, Father me.

Hold me, Lord, tenderly

Father me, Father me.

Hold me in Your peace

As You’re singing over me.

Throughout all my journey,

Through all the joy and tears,

As a Gentle Father,

Father me.

 

You can heal my broken heart; my sorrow.

You forgive my sins and wipe my tears.

I meet You in the valleys.

You comfort all my fears.

You are all I need.

You are enough for every sorrow.

You are enough for every fear.

 

Bridge

Soothe me with your songs;

Held beneath Your wings;

Wipe away my tears;

Hold me through the years.

 

You are enough for every sorrow.

You are enough for every fear.

You are enough for every circumstance.

You are enough for everything.

Why not come into His presence right now, and ask Him to meet you and minister to you with His powerful love?:-)

(If you don’t know this love yet, He is waiting for you with open arms. He cares so much that He gave His beloved Son to pay the price so that you can be forgiven and rescued for all eternity. Turn from your sin. Receive His forgiveness. Surrender your life into His hands. Ask Him to forgive you because of Jesus, and to change your heart. You will find the love you have been looking for all your life).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Where We Can Find Everything We Need…

Ok, so this is a bit of a crazy week- another day in a recording studio is coming up, Lord willing! There hasn’t been much time for blogging.
So I thought I would share another poem with you: a poem I wrote for my parents about our shared faith. I hope it is an encouragement!
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Everything We Need
Through the joys and struggles
Of life’s winding way,
We have found the Answer:
Peace in Jesus’ Name.
Yes, in Jesus only
Is our only plea.
We find in our Saviour
Everything we need.
At the cross of Calvary,
Forgiveness is free.
Mercy found in Jesus
Meets our every need.
What a Friend in Jesus
Through each joy and care,
Coming to the Saviour,
We find comfort there.
Just looking to Jesus,
Just letting Him be
Every needed Answer:
All the peace we seek.
Though our sins and failures
Bring us to our knees,
Still we find in Jesus
Grace. Abundantly.
Though it may be costly
To take up His cross,
There is Life abundant,
Joy in every loss.
Though the road may wander,
Though there may be tears,
Still looking to Jesus,
Faithful through the years.
Onward down the pathway,
Forward to Glory’s shore,
Waiting for the Morning
When the wait is over.
Then- to wake with Jesus,
Safe on Mercy’s shore.
There to find together
Joy forevermore.
He will be our anthem
Through eternity.
Yes! We find in Jesus
Everything we need.
Hope it’s an encouragement! God bless you!
(If you don’t know Jesus as Lord and Saviour yet, He waits for you with open arms! Turn from your sin, receive His wonderful forgiveness, accept Him as Lord of your life… follow Him and you, too, will find Him as everything you need… for this life and for eternity).

Fighting the Bully of Fear

Something I have been thinking through lately is how to fight fear. Because it’s something the enemy tries to get me me with… often. And, to be honest, I think it’s been a stronghold in me. So this is me thinking out some thoughts on how to fight!

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I know my sins are forgiven. I know I belong to God through Jesus. But, oh, how the enemy loves to use fear in my life!

Fear can seem so innocent, but it become crippling. The enemy can use it to do so much damage in our lives: to stop us from doing what God has called us to do.

I was convicted by this quote:

“Fear is the enemy of everything God wants  to bring forth from your life. Fear will stop a woman dead in her tracks and keep her there for years- even decades. Fear will keep you from your God-given dreams and ambition. Fear will make you deny your gifts and turn a deaf ear to your calling. If you are going to move forward, if you are going to participate in the life God imagined when He thought of you, if you are going to drink deeply from the well of passion and grace, you must run with everything you have into the strong arms of God and let His perfect love drive out every fear.”

Thomas, A. (2003). Do You Think I’m Beautiful? ed. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers. (p.170)

But how do believers, as children of God through Jesus, fight fear?

Well, we have weapons. And one of those is the Word of God.

This is a verse that the Lord used to help me recently:

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” Isaiah 41:13

It suddenly hit me as I looked at that verse. God is the One Who will help me. Often, God’s help comes through people; through people who step in and provide practical help. It hit me one night when I was struggling and I needed a lift and friends from church gave me one: I am not supposed to do this alone. God has provided people who are there to help me. But He also showed me something else: the help really comes from Him. It’s not dependent on a particular person or circumstance. It comes from Him, and it will come in different ways at different times, and maybe not always as I expect. But that doesn’t matter! It can be fun journey of watching out for how the Lord will provide: and realising that He always will.

Like once when I bumped into a friend who asked how I was doing. I admitted that I was feeling the battle, and he asked how he could pray. I asked him to pray for God’s peace, and he promised he would. And then suddenly, he spied a little rabbit and pointed it out! It was just a fun moment, spying an unexpected rabbit in a car park. And he, laughing said, “It’s a rabbit of peace!” It made me laugh, and kept me laughing when I would have been battling the fear. And I knew the laughter was God’s gift in that moment, to give me victory over the fear. It encouraged me so much: the help that will come from Him every time as we look to Him to provide it.

He promises that He will hold my hand. He will help me. And He promises that He will strengthen me, too.

I love these words:

“But you, Israel, are My servant,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
The descendants of Abraham My friend.
You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
And called from its farthest regions,
And said to you,
‘You are My servant,
I have chosen you and have not cast you away:
10 Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” Isaiah 41:8-10

And this:

“Behold, all those who were incensed against you
Shall be ashamed and disgraced;
They shall be as nothing,
And those who strive with you shall perish.
12 You shall seek them and not find them—
Those who contended with you.
Those who war against you
Shall be as nothing,
As a nonexistent thing.” Isaiah 41:11-12

My enemies (including fear) have no chance against the God of the universe! They will disappear into nothing!

And I have another weapon: prayer! And the prayers of others!

Working in full-time ministry, I have found that the spiritual battle can be fierce. Sometimes, there is a heavy sense that I am being attacked, and it just feels like it won’t lift. And I have learned something: a very wise thing to do when things feel like that is to send out a prayer letter to my supporters. Without fail, I have found that it works! Within a day or two, the weight has lifted. Something feels different. I feel upheld. I feel the strength of prayer behind me. And you don’t have to have a team of prayer supporters behind you to ask some friends to pray. Sometimes, it’s hard to do. I know that. It makes me feel vulnerable, and sometimes I just don’t like showing I am that vulnerable. But it’s worth it, because prayer works!

Worship, too, is such a powerful weapon when we know the enemy is at our back. I remember hearing a speaker talk about how, in spiritual warfare, the enemy hates to hear about the blood of Jesus. So he learned to sing about the blood of Jesus when he was struggling! I find it really helpful, too!

Ok, I’ll be honest here. Probably the place where I struggle most with fear is in my car. Driving and I have a love/hate relationship, with a history of struggles. There’s something about going 70mph (or even less) down the motorway that I have really, really hated- and still do sometimes! It can come back when I’m tired or stressed. God showed me that the way to tackle it was to gradually face the fear and build up my driving, leaning on Him, and He has helped me so much. But the fear comes back sometimes. And I need to fight it!

There’s no reason why my car can’t be a place of worship: a place where I can put on a worship CD and praise my God as loudly as I like, especially when driving feels tough!

And, you know, I think sometimes the fear is from the enemy, and I can speak out loud and tell it to leave in Jesus’ Name, bringing the blood of Jesus against it. Maybe that’s a new concept for you but, honestly, I have learned that sometimes it just needs to be done. I wouldn’t advise doing it if you’re not in a right relationship with God but, if you are, it can really help. It’s in Jesus’ Name, and never in our own. But sometimes it just really, really helps to tell the fear to LEAVE in Jesus’ Name! After all, He has the victory!

Those are some things I’ve been thinking through recently. It’s not complete thoughts- just me processing. I so don’t have this sorted! But I’m learning. And, if it’s a blessing to you, too, I’m glad.

We never have to give in to fear. If we belong to Jesus (and that’s available to all of us), we have victory in His Name, and He will always send us the help we need when we look to Him.

And, actually, in His Arms, the children of God through Jesus are so safe, no matter how fragile we feel. I’ve shared this poem on here before, but I want to share it again:

The Swallow’s Nest

‘Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.’ Psalm 84:3

Where swallows lay their babies,

My heart finds her rest

In refuge strong, Almighty,

By tender, loving Breast.

When tears and tearings bleed deep,

I can come away.

This bruised reed finds her comfort

Where nestlings sleep, all safe.

 

If lambs lie in His bosom,

And chicks beneath His wings,

Then I can still be broken

And healing find in Him.

For though He rules the thunder,

He holds the little lambs

And fragile ones find refuge

Close to the great I Am.

 

The winds may roar around me

Wild waves toss round my way,

Or cruel tongues mock and taunt me

Or darkness dim my day.

Where swallows lay their babies,

My heart find her rest.

How lovely are Thine altars

Beside the swallow’s nest!

(If you don’t know that security of God’s love through Jesus yet, you can! He waits for you with open arms. Come to Him and turn from your sins, receiving His free and gracious forgiveness because of what Jesus did on the cross. Surrender your life to Him and let Him lead as your Lord. It may not always be easy but it’s the best decision you could ever make, for now and for eternity… and you will know the security of being held in God’s loving arms… forever. He loves you and longs for you).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Because You Are So Loved

If it’s ok with you, I want to use this post to explore something God has been encouraging me with, because I think it’s something He wants me to share.

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(Image: Bible: (ESVUK))
I am so, so loved. Really. So, so loved.
I am delighted in by my God. He cherishes me. He sings over me. In Christ, He looks upon me with joy.
That doesn’t mean He loves my sin. He doesn’t! I fail all the time. But my sin is forgiven. My identity is secure in Christ. I wear Christ’s righteousness- and it’s a beautiful robe that covers me.
‘I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.’ Isaiah 61:10
He crowns me with His love and forgiveness.
‘Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies’ Psalm 103:4b
And that can free me from an awful lot of stuff.
Other people’s reactions to me never need to move me. They do not define me. I am His, and what He says goes.
‘”I, even I, am He who comforts you.
Who are you that you should be afraid
Of a man who will die,
And of the son of a man who will be made like grass?” Isaiah 51:12
I don’t need any person to validate who I am. I am His… And so very delighted in.
My story and my past do not define me. He will use it all for good. But it does not define who I am. I am His. And so very delighted in. He can redeem and restore and bring beauty in an incredible way.
‘”The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”’ Isaiah 61:1-3
But it’s separate from who I am. I am His. And the identity of God’s people, Christ’s bride, is stunning.
‘You shall also be a crown of glory
In the hand of the Lord,
And a royal diadem
In the hand of your God.’ Isaiah 62:3
Because I am His, I am free to offer, already secure. I am reach out and express what He has given me to share, knowing that I am already loved, and it doesn’t matter how things go. I don’t need to hide away. He has given me much to offer, and other people need it, even when I feel inadequate.
Because I am so loved, I don’t need to be afraid of the future. I battle with this a lot, but the truth is that I am entirely secure, because I will never be alone. Trusting Him, I will never be abandoned. He will always be there, loving me, giving me what I need.
He is always, always there, loving me.
It means all that, and so much more.
And it’s true.
If you are following Jesus as your Saviour and Lord, that is your position, too. And, if you are not yet, He is there, waiting, loving you, longing to pour out all this on you, too.
Because He is that good. He is love. 🙂
The words below are a poem I wrote to encourage a friend. It applies to all who follow Jesus- not as a token thought but in reality, believing in what He has done for us on the cross for salvation, trusting in His blood for forgiveness and living with Him as Lord of our lives, not to earn anything but because we are His. As His, forgiven and accepted, being loved is our security and everlasting hope. I pray these words are an encouragement to you.
Loved

Loved with everlasting love

Which never ends, never gives up;

Enfolding you, around, above;

You are so loved.

 

Woven, knitted, planned above,

Dear design all known, God-touched;

Held, hemmed in, by Heaven cupped:

Forever loved.

 

Enwrapped, enclosed on every side,

Invisible and undefiled,

So vast, so high, so deep, so wide-

This all-embracing love!

 

Hands stretched out, brow ripped with thorns,

Love spilled out, heart broken, torn;

Bled ’til death, spilled out and mourned.

He gave His love.

 

Bursting through the gates of death,

Victory’s healing; bright, immense;

Hope all open, fear falls, dead.

Life swells; sheer love.

 

Resting like a weaned child

Who knows her Father charts the miles.

She has peace, for all is held.

You are so loved.

 

Loved with everlasting love;

Brings a peace this world can’t touch;

That will hold til Home above;

You will be loved.

 

Live pursued by Heaven’s arms;

Can’t escape from mercy’s charms;

Held, all tender; safe from harm.

You are so loved.

 

And though this life may knock you down,

Though the way may twist and turn,

Whate’er the future holds til Dawn,

You will be loved.

 

(The words above can be yours, too. He is waiting with open arms to forgive you, rescue you and give you eternal hope. Surrender your heart and life to Him. Receive His forgiveness. Be washed in His incredible love, and the power of His blood. Surrender your life and decisions and choose to follow Him, and be part of the incredible story He is writing, all the way into a stunningly amazing eternity. He longs to meet with you now… and He longs to meet with all of us).
To receive free emails from this blog, click ‘follow’ and enter your email address. I’d love to keep encouraging you!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When You’re Wondering Whether You Should Just Give Up…

Have you ever thought about giving on what God has called you to do; on trusting Him?

I’ll be honest here. I have.

Sometimes, the road is just too hard. The setbacks are just too many. You wonder how you can ever keep going.

The Christian life can be HARD. Serving Jesus can be HARD.

And Satan tells us, loudly, to just give up.

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Maybe you don’t know Jesus yet. Maybe this doesn’t make sense to you. But maybe life just feels too hard. You need to know that Jesus is the One Who can give you all the help you need; can give you hope; can give you love.

You need to know that Jesus is right here, reaching out to you, offering you forgiveness, love beyond your wildest dreams, a fresh start and new hope… forever. Come to Him, and find new life. Come and find forgiveness. Come and find peace with God. Come and find hope for eternity. Come and turn from the sins that chain you. Come and receive His forgiveness. Come surrender your life and heart to Him as Lord of your life, and receive the forgiveness, love and hope He loves to give you as your Saviour and Lord. Following Him won’t always be easy, but it’s what you’re searching for. He is the One you are searching for. He is the hope you need.

You are loved.

And that’s what we need to do every time, no matter how long we have known Him. Come to Jesus.

Those who follow Jesus as Saviour and Lord are on the right path, but sometimes it is just hard. Sometimes it feels like it would be far easier to just give up.

But giving up on what God has called us to do, or on trusting Him, is never, ever the right option.

Why? Because He is good. Because He is faithful. Because holding onto Him is always, always worth it… and because He always, always keeps His promises.

It doesn’t always look like we think it will… but, then, it is always ultimately better. He is far, far more generous; more kind; more wise; more faithful than we could ever dream.

I have noticed that God often answers my prayers on another dimension, which I’d never even thought of!

But it’s always too soon to quit.

I remember sensing the Lord showing me something like, “If you give up now, you won’t see the blessing I have been preparing for you.”

Sometimes, blessings are on their way to us that we could not begin to imagine… If only we wait for them… if we don’t give up.

There are always unimaginable blessings coming to those who follow Jesus… If only we hold out for them. Whether in this life or the next, we couldn’t begin to imagine the good things He has planned for us. Sure, this life is hard. But God is also very, very kind, and very, very faithful.

What if it means an awful lot; that decision not to quit; that decision to take one more step forward? That one decision to live as though God will be faithful… and to do the next thing? What if all of Heaven is cheering for us? What if our perseverance is doing far more than we could ever imagine?

What if it’s not as far as we think it is? What if it really is going to be okay… if only we trust Him and hold on?

‘The blessing of the Lord makes one rich,
And He adds no sorrow with it.’ Prov 10:22

Some things are just Rock. Solid. True.

‘”Then you will know that I am the Lord,
For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.”’ Isaiah 49:23b

‘5Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
6 He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.’ Ps 126:5-6

‘Cast your bread upon the waters,
For you will find it after many days.’ Ecclesiastes 11:1

‘Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
Blessed are all those who wait for Him.’ Isaiah 30:18

‘For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.’ Isaiah 64:4

We don’t have to know how God’s promises will come true… Or even when. But you can be certain, and utterly confident in hope, that, for the child of God through Jesus, they will.

Sometimes it helps to think back when I was a little curly-headed girl in Sunday School, and things were simple. Just trust Jesus. He will take care of me.

‘The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.’ Ps 23:1

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;’ Prov 3:5

Hope is On the Way

Things look dark now but don’t give in.

Hope is on the way.

Tears sow streams for growing seeds

That will bud one day.

Keep your head up. He will come.

He is on His way.

Light will break through deepest night.

Keep trusting today.

Things look bleak now. You can’t see

Sun behind the storm.

Rainbows birth from cloudy skies

If you wait for morn.

Healing comes from honest prayers.

Hope springs from despair.

The righteous path is like the dawn,

Bright, brighter every hour.

Things look down but don’t let go.

He will lift you up.

He is tender with bruised reeds.

He will heal with love.

He is working through this pain;

His plan never fails.

Harvests bathed in faithful tears

Reap rewards one Day.

Things look bleak but stand in faith.

Let Him hear your songs.

Let Him see your loving trust.

Let Him hold you close.

Nothing done for love of Him

Ever is a waste.

Love Him hard through this deep dark

And He will amaze!

Some day soon, He will reward

All your tears have sown.

Live to hear His tender voice:

‘Well done, faithful one.”

Brightness bursts through streaming Dawn;

You will see His face.

Morning breaks on Heaven’s shore.

Night has turned to Day.

You don’t need to have strength right now for all of days ahead. You only need to lean hard on the LORD. You only need to take the next step. As you do, help will come. You can be sure of it.

The words below are part of an anonymous poem that has blessed me at various times. It’s called ‘Do the Next Thing’. I thought you might enjoy them.

“Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows, Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus. DO THE NEXT THING.

Do it immediately; do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command,
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all resultings. DO THE NEXT THING.”

(source unknown)

Sometimes it’s just leaning hard into Him, and then making the decision to wash the dishes. To sweep the floor. To go to work. Trusting that, as you take a step forward, He will meet you with all you need. And, when you look back, you will be amazed at how He came through.

And I have learned that the best thing to do when you don’t know what to do or you don’t know how you will keep going is to get alone with Jesus, and seek Him until He gives you what you need. In His presence, we find the missing pieces. We find His love. We find what we need to keep going. Often, it’s just peace and His presence… which is really all we need. Sometimes His answers aren’t what we expect. Sometimes He doesn’t feel close. But He will always be faithful to answer our cries.

‘My God of mercy[a] shall come to meet me;
God shall let me see my desire on my enemies.’ Ps 59:10

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When you Long to Feel Secure…

I recently felt prompted to share a poem that I recently wrote for a friend. I wrote it to encourage her in the love of our Heavenly Father, and how secure she is in Him.

Those who are trusting in Jesus for salvation and following Him are so very, very loved, and so very, very secure in His love.

Just to clarity, that security never a licence to grow complacent and play with sin- and doing so may even be a warning light that we do not really believe in the way we think we do. Maybe part of the proof that we believe is that we keep believing; keep following Jesus all the way. But, yet, there is deep, sweet security in the Father’s love, and resting in His gracious, tender wisdom and plan for our lives. No matter what life throws at us, believers in Jesus are surrounded, secure and enfolded in the love of a Father, Who loves us so very, very dearly, and holds us so very tenderly in His hands.

After all,

‘The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;’ Deut 33:27a.

(And, if you don’t know that yet, you can- it’s what Jesus longs to give you!).

I hope the words below bless and encourage you. They are not Scripture, but my attempt to encapsulate comfort and encouragement in following the Lord. I hope they are a blessing to you. 🙂

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In My Love

‘The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.’ Jer 31:3

In My love you are surrounded.

In My peace, you’re reconciled.

In My plan, you’re safe, enfolded,

Treasured as your Father’s child.

 

Trusting in your Saviour’s promise,

Follow Him along the way.

He will lead you as, surrendered,

You walk, believing in His grace.

 

Treasured in the love that keeps you,

Held fast in the love of God;

Everlasting Arms beneath you;

Cherished, kept, in My strong hold.

 

Trust in Me for each new moment.

Rest in Me. I’ll keep you safe.

I will shield you as you trust Me.

I will carry all the way.

 

For the future, grace is promised.

For the present, I Am here.

For the past, all is forgiven.

In My love, you are secure.

 

Follow Me through every valley.

Every step, look up to Me.

Live surrendered, looking upwards.

I will give you all you need.

 

‘Til forever, safe in Heaven,

You’ll reach your eternal shore.

I will meet you. I will comfort.

You’ll be with Me evermore.

 

Treasured, held, enfolded, promised,

Loved and lifted all the way.

You can rejoice. You can trust Me.

In My love, I’ll keep you safe.

 

(To experience this for yourself, come to Jesus as your Saviour, confessing your sin and receiving His full and free forgiveness for the things you have done against Him, and surrendering your life to Him as your Lord. He is waiting to meet with you, set you free and give you eternal, abundant hope. Don’t wait- seek Him today. He longs to meet with you and wrap you up in the security of His love).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Final Memories from Manila… and how Manila Changed Me

As my days in the Philippines began to come to an end, there wasn’t much time to write prayer letters. But I still have memories: memories that have impacted me deeply.

There are so many memories; far more than I could write down here. Each of the people I met was so precious. And so much happened in five weeks.

But I will capture just a few:

I remember the day I went to the opening of the new home for street people. As part of the opening ceremony, a group of street people sang a song about the Good News of Jesus, and how He can rescue and redeem forever. I remember the tears standing in my eyes, watching them and knowing that He really can… and He is doing.

I remember the team there giving me a present: a simple little bracelet. They told me to keep it always, to remember. I still have it now… and I still remember.

I remember little Ronalyn (with the red t-shirt below), and how she was learning English at school. I remember the day she came up to me, shyly, and said, “How…. are…. you?” I remember how it melted my heart.

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I remember editing report after report of the children’s stories… so many stories of abuse and neglect and trauma. I am so thankful to think that God can heal broken hearts.

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I remember the Saturday morning we got up so early, climbed into the van and set off for the market: some house mothers, some girls and I. It was crazy and unforgettable: the big shed full of Asian faces and Asian foods and so many things I’d never seen before: men carrying whole pig carcasses on their shoulders; people selling all of the parts on stalls; fish still jumping on the counter; me with one of the only white faces in the market, sticking out like a sore thumb and feeling like I was at the other end of the world… It was another experience I would never forget.

I remember being so humbled by the gifts I was given by the dear sisters I had found in the Lord.

I remember the gift Ate Reah gave me: a gift I still treasure. It is a simple bracelet, made of simple plastic threads. It’s bracelet she wore to remind her to pray for Edward, one of the street people, who had tuberculosis. I remember feeling so humbled that she would give it to me. It reminds me of all I learned while I was with her.

I remember my last evening in the Philippines; when something happened that impacted me very deeply.

That was a sad last day: a day of goodbyes and gifts that humbled me and precious people I did not want to leave. During the day, I went to the office. Usually, when it was time to go home, I would be with one of the CCM team, who would go with me on a Jeepney. That night, there was no one available, so they left me with Emy, a dear girl of around 16. What none of us had bargained for, though, was rush hour.
Emy and I waited on the street, confidently expecting a Jeepney to approach. One did. We waved, asking the driver to stop. He did not. Too full. We waited. Another Jeepney came along. We waved. No answer. Too full. One by one, the Jeepneys went past. It was rush hour, and no-one had any room. So we began to look for taxis or FX’s, too. Again, we waved. None stopped. No-one had any room. I was beginning to get a bit anxious. ‘Lord,’ I was praying, ‘I’m on my own in Manila with a sixteen year old girl and my flight goes tomorrow! Please help me get back!’
‘Let’s walk,’ Emy said. Figuring that she knew the city better than I did, I agreed. We began to walk along the street, waving at the Jeepneys, and taxis. None stopped. We kept walking. I kept praying. No success.
Time passed. We were walking on and on through the streets of Manila, Emy and I, I getting more and more anxious, and Emy probably a bit like that, too!
Suddenly, I recognised where we were. We had reached the street where the church was… Where the street people lived, whom I had got to know. ‘Ate Caroline! Ate Caroline!’ They were calling. They were street people and I was a white girl with so much more than they would ever have, but we were friends. 
Animatedly, Emy explained our problem. We stood talking to our friends. It gave me a few more precious minutes with them, including some of the street children. I wrote in my journal of  “The little clutch of Princess and her sister as their dear, dirty little hands encircled mine, and they watched me with childlike love and trust. My heart ached over them. I was wearing Ate Reah’s bracelet- may it always, always remind me.”
But my friends were now planning a solution to my problem. In shock, I realised what was happening: they were going to help! Springing into action, my new friends from the streets began to gather their other friends. Running down the street, dodging the traffic, they hurried, in and out of the cars, trying to track down a Jeepney or a taxi: anything that would stop. Still amazed, and terrified that they would get hurt on my behalf, I followed helplessly with Emy.
It was surreal. It was crazy. It was so humbling. Street people risking their lives through traffic to get a lift for me? I was too shocked to say how grateful I was.
Before long, they had succeeded in getting me a lift, and were beckoning me to hurry and get into it. I wanted to tell them… To thank them… But there was no time. We had to hustle on board… And get back… To the home and my aeroplane and the rich life I had back in England.
As I sat there in the FX, I processed what had happened. God had answered in a crazy, out-of-the-box way… and with a lesson I would never forget. They were so poor. They had so little. I had so much. Why would they go out of their way to help me? They probably couldn’t afford a taxi or a Jeepney for themselves! But I knew something as I sat there. I would never forget what they had done.
I remember the last moments at the Girls’ Home: the realisation that I had to go to catch my aeroplane, and some of the children were still asleep, and I would have to leave without hugging them goodbye. I went into the rooms and looked at their sleeping faces, wondering if I should wake them up. I still wish I had; that I had woken them and hugged them and told them how much they mean to me. Maybe they don’t remember now, but I do. They’ll be young women now, going out into the world. I received a photo of some of them recently: lovely young women in beautiful dresses. And I thought of the little girls I had grown to love.

If any of them ever read this, I would want them to know how precious they are; how special they are to God. How much He longs to work in and through their lives in stunningly beautiful ways. How much He longs to forgive their sins, heal up their hearts and set them free to know Him and His incredible, healing, freeing, restoring love. And I would want them to know that I have not forgotten them… that they will always be very precious to me.

I remember the gruff, urgent way Monica clung to me and looked up at me as we said goodbye, and said, ‘Don’t ever forget’. Dear Monica who was rescued as a baby from the Mumbai streets. And I wanted to convince her; to make her believe I never could… but I was too overcome with emotion. I still want to tell her it now. I never have forgotten, and I never could. I could never forget what I saw; what I experienced. God has used it to change me forever.

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I remember sitting in the aeroplane, looking out of the window; thinking of the precious people I was leaving behind. I knew that I would probably never see them again this earth, and my heart was bursting.

But my heart was bursting with more than that. My heart was bursting with a call; with a decision.I would never forget. I was going back for people like them. I was going back because God was calling me to serve Him; to live my life so that others like them could know His love; could live forever. I looked out of the window as the plane lifted; as I began the long trip back to England. And I knew that my life had been marked.

I remember that it was strange to be back. I remember walking around a shopping centre, feeling so angry with the lavish expense and waste. I remember thinking of Manila, and how much we could help if we would only share.

I remember looking at statistics: about over 2 billion people who have still never heard the Name of Jesus even once. About 80,000 people dying every single day without a chance even to experience His love. And I remember thinking that they could no longer be statistics any more; not after Manila. Each statistic is a precious person with an eternal soul.

In time, things became clear. God was calling me; not to the Philippines (though I will always love my dear friends there) but to people who have even less access to what I have than they do: to help the billions in the 10/40 Window with no chance whatsoever to experience the love of Christ. Now I work for Gospel for Asia (www.gfauk.org ). But I will never, ever forget what happened to me in Manila.

What I found out afterwards… 

Years afterwards, I saw a Facebook post: a page about Noelyn. I remember Noelyn: how could I ever forget her? The sweet, affectionate girl of 14 who had lived as a scavenger on the streets, trying desperately to survive; the dear, warm Noelyn who had clung to my hand and chatted to me, and won a place in my heart as each of the children did.

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I had written in my journal about  “Dear little Noelyn’s sad, sad eyes as she hugged me so tightly and said, ‘I miss you’ as I said goodbye to her. I think she had been waiting for me. Oh, Lord, would You  go to her?”

What I came to realise through that Facebook post is Jesus did go to Noelyn… and He took her to Himself, too. I found out that dear, sweet Noelyn has gone ahead of me: she is with Jesus now. Health problems took her away suddenly, at only 20 years old.

This is from the report about her death:

“Noelyn left behind a diary and a half finished testimony. She had been hoping to apply for church membership. The last diary entry spoke of her health: “I know God is testing my trust in Him. But I will not give up, I will prove to Him that He is my only Saviour and Keeper and that I want to be His servant and child until the last breath of my life”. Staff had spoken with her during recent months about salvation and believe that she is one of God’s children. 

Written on a piece of paper taped to her mirror the morning she died was the reference John 3:16. Her room mates said she must have written it the night before as it wasn’t there before that.”

You can find the whole story here:

http://www.ccmmanila.org/news/noelynstatement

That brought me to tears. Little Noelyn, who held my hand. Little Noelyn, who had lived as a scavenger on the streets until CCM took her in. Little Noelyn, who is now at peace, with Jesus.

It touches me so deeply to think of that: to think of how much it means that Noelyn is with Jesus now. And it makes it all so real; so important. What matters is sharing Christ’s love with those who so badly need it.

May it wake us up. May it help us realise that, if Jesus Christ really is the only way to Heaven (and He is), then this is worth giving our lives for, no matter what the cost. It is worth doing whatever it takes to share His love.

’18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.[d]’ Matt 28:18-20

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Memories from the Philippines, Part 4

August 2007, Manila, Philippines

On Thursday evening, CRBC hosted their Drop-In again. It wasn’t as packed as last week (they had a lot of people last week, praise the Lord), but still busy. I went with Ate Virgie to help with the kids’ club. She was teaching the kids about Abraham, and how God can do the impossible. It was so, so good to see those precious, neglected children being fed the most precious thing: the Word of life. It is far better to be a street child who hears the truth than a rich one who never does. I wasn’t there for the main talk to the adults, but apparently the adults listened very attentively. Please pray for their salvation. Two have made a profession of faith, praise God!! He WILL build His church!! The Word is powerful, and, blessed by the Spirit, it does its own work!! 🙂

Friday morning was a good reminder of the urgency and the need to share the Good News of Jesus. We went to the hospital to visit a dear CCM client who has just ben re-diagnosed with cancer. This hospital was very, very different to the hospital I visited before. It is one of the best hospitals in the world. It was set up by a church, and provides some free care for poor people. It’s a pretty impressive place- marble floors and lovely lifts and clean, pleasantly curtained cubicles, even for the poorest people. Praise the Lord for it. Seeing this dear lady, though, was a good (and needed) reminder of the uncertainty of life. As we sat talking to her, she said that the lady in the next-door bed had just been told that her cancer was terminal. She only had days left. I closed my eyes as the realisation hit me. Every day, thousands more fall into the abyss, starving for the Gospel of life. I left the lady with a tract- please pray that she would not die without His forgiveness. So, so many people think that they are Christians when Jesus makes no difference to their lives and they do not really have a living relationship with Him at all. The visit was a good reminder- oh, that God would impress these things onto our hearts, so that we see how urgent this message is and how much people need to hear it before it is too late!

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Friday afternoon was touching, and inspiring. We went to visit Danika, a girl who is being sponsored by Becky’s church. She is fifteen, and in High School. Through the Educational Assistance Program, CCM helps to pay for her education, which, if she completes her studies, will provide her with a chance to get a good job. The whole visit was so lovely. Danika and her mother were so, so welcoming. They showed us to their tiny shack and Danika’s mother had even invested in some cake and lemonade for us. Money must be so tight for them. It so humbling, and precious, to eat cake and drink lemonade they had provided when they must have so little. For a start, Danika was very shy, and embarrassed about the size of their miniscule shack. Gradually, though, she opened up, and both she and her mother were so obviously grateful to Becky and the church. They had kept the photos and letters that the church had sent them, and clearly treasured them. Danika kept saying how happy she was to see Becky. They both escorted us out, and were reluctant to say goodbye. The Lord was so, so right when He said, ‘”It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35c). To see Danika so happy, in her school uniform, is priceless. Most of all, I long for her to know Him.

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On Friday evening, I attended the GMA (Grace Ministerial Academy- training men from all over the Philippines to be pastors) Bible class- the Friday evening class is open to everyone. It was so, so good to be at Bible School for an evening! We went through the doctrine of justification by faith, which was very helpful. It is just incredible that this is reality: that our God cared so much that He gave His Son so that wicked sinners like me could be forgiven. To think of where we would be without justification is unthinkable. If this message is true (and it is), then it puts everything else in perspective.

On Saturday, a group of us went on a trip to Tagaytay, which is just outside of Manila, to see the Taal volcano. We took two of the girls (little Jena, who is nine, and Maricar, who is in her late teens) with us. The day was a blessing from Him. To get to the volcano, we went on a boat to a little island very near the mainland. I was sitting on the boat looking around and it was just so exciting to think that this is Asia- on the other side of the world! I found a blow-up globe in the CCM library the other day. Home looked very, very far away! I can’t believe I’m actually here, in the Philippines!! The boat ride was lots of fun- we got very wet because the ride was bumpy! We climbed up to the crater, which is full of water- a mini-lake. Apparently, it smokes sometimes, although the volcano is now inactive. After the volcano, we went up to a viewing point and looked over Tagaytay- blue mountains etched in the distance; rolling green fields; the curving twist of a road… His creation is stunning. The water, the trees, the fields, the mountains… it was breathtaking. And every atom was fashioned by the One Who now lives inside of every true believer, closer than our skin and more intimate than breathing… all because Jesus went through separation from the Father so that wicked rebels could live! What a message! If that isn’t worth shouting from the rooftops, I don’t know what is! It was also good to spend some time with Jena, although she speaks very little English. She climbed up to the top with me, with both of us talking to each other in our own language, bemused that we didn’t understand each other, and yet content. The best way of communicating with the little ones is to point at things and get them to teach me the names, which works both ways because they’re also trying to learn English. It’s a challenge, but a lot of fun, and the little ones make me laugh- they’re all so individual; so perfectly made by a God of variety and creativity and beauty… He is truly amazing. 🙂

Sunday was spent back at CRBC, which was so good. Church families are precious beyond measure. It’s so good to go to CRBC now and begin to feel like I belong. More and more faces are familiar, and I’m learning more and more names. The girls are also becoming more and more comfortable with me. One of them, little Noelyn, is so keen to make friends. Her story is heartbreaking. After her mother had died of tuberculosis, Noelyn lived as a scavenger for two years, desperately trying to find food for herself and her brothers. She is now fourteen, but she looks like a small child because she was so malnourished. Yet she is one of the most sweet, affectionate children I have ever met. She holds my hand and walks round with me, and my heart just melts! Oh, that she would come to know Him Who can heal our wounds as no-one else can! In the evening, we had After-Church Fellowship and some of the church members shared their testimonies. As we were sitting there, God really reminded me of the need for action. So many of the people gathered round were CCM teenagers- young, beautiful Filipino girls, with the rest of their lives ahead of them, hearing the precious Word of Life. Please do pray that He will work in their hearts and save them to lives of devotion and usefulness to Him, and also that my time with them would not be wasted, despite the English/Tagalog barrier.

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Today (Monday), I went with Ate Nida to lead a Bible Study for three local women, all mothers of young children. They live in very basic little shacks, and it was such a privilege to be welcomed to spend time with them. How I long for them to know His love!

Ok, I think that’s enough for now!!!!!!! I think I’ve written a mini book!!! Sending greetings across the ocean. 

Hopefully more to come another time…

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Memories from the Philippines, Part 3

Emmaus Home, Masinag, Quezon City, Philippines                                                                                                         

13th August ‘07

Kumusta? (How are you?)

Mabuti! (I am fine!)

I think it’s helpful having coming here for a while. I feel more and more settled every day, which directly affects the ministry- once situations start to make sense, it’s a lot easier to use them for the Lord, because you know how they work, what to do and how. Pieces are gradually fitting into place and I’m beginning to see how the world works out here. God has also been providing much more alone time with Him, which is everything. Praise the Lord, I’m even beginning to get a grasp of some very, very basic Tagalog, which is very gradually opening up a whole new world of understanding! Once you realise that the incomprehensible communication is actually the same as what it would be in English, the world suddenly feels a whole lot more familiar! Praise the Lord for all that He is teaching me. 🙂

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On Sunday, Ate Nida took Becky and I to visit her family, who live in Velenzuela, which is on the other side of Manila. We went to the Velenzuela Reformed Baptist Church, which is where Aries and Jodith Libero (GBM missionaries) are working. I hadn’t expected to have a chance to meet them, and it was so good to see the work that they are doing. Their church has around 20-something members. They meet in a building right in the middle of the squatter areas, which is a problem because the building often floods during the rainy season (which we are right in the middle of at the moment). The service was encouraging, though. Matt Gamston preached in Tagalog. The service was followed by Adult Sunday School- a seriously good idea! It’s basically an adult Bible class, tackling things like doctrinal teachings or Bible history or Bible-handling or topics… I seriously recommend it! After the service, we had lunch with Aries and Jodith, as well as their little son. It was lovely to spend a little time with them.

I spent Tuesday afternoon and evening at the new CCM Boys’ Home, which began only a few months ago. Kuya Scott and Ate Emilyn have just moved over here from America to act as the houseparents, along with Ate Virginia, and they now have about 10 boys in the home. I realised when I visited that the boys are a whole lot crazier than the girls! If you left the girls alone in a room, they would probably do naughty (masama in Filipino) things, but they would be calm naughty things! If you left the boys alone, they’d run around and play-fight and go crazy! They were so funny- using their orange peel to make ears and false teeth, and doing this funny dance they’ve made up to an exercise video! It was lovely to spend time with them, although particularly difficult because most of the boys are very young, which means that they hardly know any English at all. It’s so strange to spend time with kids when you can’t talk to them or give them instructions or even tell them off! I had a go at teaching them to read in English. It was good, but slow progress. Quite a few of the boys are seriously behind in their studies. I think as many as four of them are in Grade 1 (Reception or Year 1 in our system, I think), even though they are as old as nine or ten. The boys have such sad, sad stories. When I was in the office last week, I made profiles for them. Their stories are heartbreaking. Some were abandoned, passed from person to person without a place to call home, some are orphans and all, I think, have seen horrible things that will (apart from the Lord’s healing) leave scars for life. One was sold by his mother. It’s so, so sad, and yet, in a way, they have been given the best thing they could ever have, which is a Christian upbringing. So few kids are brought up on the Word of Life, and the knowledge of the way of salvation is priceless. Yet, still, these kids have huge scars. Please pray that they would be led to the One Who comforts as no-one else can comfort.

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On Thursday morning, I went with Ate Reah to visit some of the street people. It was shocking, and yet also amazing. God has given people an incredible ability to survive in the most challenging conditions. It is normal for these people to live on the streets and they get on with it, day by day. Scaffolding becomes a washing line; carrier bags are stashed in doorways; children take naps on the pavement. The street people always have access to a very basic income because the Jeepney drivers (the Jeepneys are the public transport here- loud, brightly-coloured jeeps with thumping music and rainbow-coloured slogans, many of which are superficially Christian, like “God bless our trip”) pay them to call out for passengers. But life is so tough. Families have lots of children and there are many teenage pregnancies. Life is so hard on the streets, and there are so many challenges. The constant need is very real. And what about their eternal needs? What will all of this be when dawn breaks and eternity comes? It was so good to meet the street people. As ever, I can’t say much to them because of the language barrier, but I had been given a stash of Tagalog tracts, so I could share Christ with them (assuming they can read)- please pray for God’s blessing on the people (including two precious, precious prostitutes- oh, the need of this generation!) who received tracts.

Thursday afternoon was a good reminder about why this is all worth it- why every single sacrifice made for the Gospel is worth everything. We went to visit another couple of “communities” (slum areas). One of them was particularly horrible. It had been raining (there was a typhoon further north, although the rain has gone now). This slum is built right on a river- if you can call it a river. The water is absolutely filthy, and it smells. The shacks are located either side of the water, with some of them hanging precariously over it. Whenever it rains too hard, the lower shacks flood.

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We went inside to visit some of the CCM clients. To get to the shacks, you walk down dark, dank tunnels, some of them wet with filthy water. You have to have directions or a guide, or you’ll get lost in the maze of shacks. The shacks are stacked one on top of the other in a big, corrugated structure. To get to the higher ones, you climb up shaky wooden ladders and negotiate your way from one level to the next. Some families live in than one level, joined by precarious stepladders. Yet these are homes, too. Families have made them livable with their bright pictures and taped flooring and electrical appliances, although you can still see glimpses of corrugated metal and graffiti and dirty wood. I wasn’t too fazed by it all until someone mentioned the rats, which freaked me out a bit- rats scare me!!! I was just beginning to get a bit scared, even starting to grumble mentally, when God reminded me of why this is all worth it. We went into the shack of one lady, and Ate Lorna (the social worker) informed us that this lady had become a Christian directly through the ministry of CCM. She is now a member of CRBC (Cubao Reformed Baptist Church). I felt the tears sting in my eyes. This is why Gospel work is worth it! Yes, this lady lives in a tiny shack, in poverty and hardship. But now she has an eternal hope. I will spend eternity together with her in Heaven. And what are her sufferings in comparison to the Glory that awaits her now, all because someone made a few sacrifices so that she could hear the Word of Life? When the CCM social workers get to Glory, they will see her face there: the face of someone they witnessed to here on earth… along with His, of course, Whom to know is life itself. And that makes everything worth it, no matter what.

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More to come…

 

 

Thoughts On Stepping Out

Has God ever asked you to step out? To do something that scares you a little?

This is the week of stepping out: of doing something that has been on my heart for a long time, and God has increasingly been encouraging me to do. I’ve been a songwriter (of a sort) since I was tiny, but this is the week when God is asking me to start the process of recording and sharing some songs. Saturday, Lord willing, will be a whole new experience in a recording studio. I hope to share some on here sometime soon, God willing. But I thought it might be good to use this space as a place to process right now, while I’m messy and in process, and hopefully encourage you, too.

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I feel hesitant; inadequate. How could I think I have something to share; something that matters? And yet, He has been impressing upon my heart that I do. It’s not really about me; it’s about gifts He has entrusted me with; gifts that were meant to be a blessing to others. How could I withhold them if somehow I have something that someone else needs?

Faith is always about walking, one step at a time, in the light that we have, following the One Who leads us.

Sometimes, it’s easier to hold back; to stay hidden away. But how can I, when He is leading me forward? Only, in moving forward, I want to try to do things the right way. Not perfectly: none of us can ever achieve that on this earth. That’s why Jesus died. He died to cover our mess, and, if we come to Him in repentance and faith, trusting and following Him as Saviour and Lord, He covers it forever… and continually. But He is giving me some insight about how to do things in a way that will last. Not that I have this sorted- I don’t! This is just me writing them out. But here they are:

A conviction is growing in me about creativity for the Lord. I love being creative. It’s a big part of why I blog… why I write songs. But, more and more, I’m coming to believe something. What matters is not so much how good something is, or how talented you are, but how anointed it is by the Lord (if that’s the right word). How much God’s hand is on it. How much it has come from the secret place, with Him in prayer. How much it has been birthed in His presence, under His leading.

Of course, it is good to strive for excellence. But it is far better to commit what you do to the Lord, and to do it in His way. That;s the way your plans will bear fruit.

‘3 Commit your works to the Lord,
And your thoughts will be established.’ Proverbs 16:3

Only, success may look more like fruit than fame, if you do things His way. It may look like someone coming to know Him, instead of people knowing who you are. But isn’t that far, far better? Because it’s eternally, wonderfully good.

We can succeed greatly in the world’s eyes, only to find out one day that it was all only ‘wood, hay, straw’ (from 1 Cor 3:12). Or we can fix our eyes on Him and seek to do it His way… which may not look so flashy, or appealing. But it carries more lasting power.

’12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.’ 1 Corinthians 3:12-13

And behind it all, what you need to know when you step out is that you are loved, no matter what happens.

Peace comes from knowing that you are deeply, deeply loved. That it doesn’t matter how things go. That it doesn’t matter whether you succeed or fail in the world’s eyes. What matters is being faithful with what He has given you. Following His lead. Because that really is success. And knowing that, however things go, He loves you. And He sees all you do for Him.

To the woman whose offering was rejected and misunderstood, He said,

‘6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me.’ Mark 14:6 (some versions say it was beautiful to Him).

And so I’m stepping out. Not that confidently, but confident that He is leading me. Believing that, while preparation is important, prayer matters far more. Believing that, no matter how things go, I am loved, and secure in His grace.

If you would like to pray for me this Saturday, please pray that I will do this His way, with His help. Lord, help me be faithful and fruitful for You!

I hope I have a recording to share sometime. But, far more, I guess we all need to remember what really matters in the end: hearing His voice say,

‘”Well done, good and faithful servant”‘ (from Matt 25:23).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

(If you don’t know Him yet as Saviour and Lord, you can! You can know complete forgiveness, breathtaking love, incredible acceptance and astounding eternal life. Turn from your rebellion, come to Him and receive His full and free forgiveness through Jesus. Surrender to Him, confess Him as your Lord and give your life to Him. He longs to meet you and transform you forever).

Remembering How God Worked in me in the Philippines…

More from the Philippines, Summer 2007, Part 2

Well, another week in Manila and, as ever, I am a living testimony to His faithfulness. Still trying to learn what it means to relax in His loving Hands because, honestly, if we are His through Jesus, we are so, so safe and we don’t have to be afraid of mosquitos and crazy driving and rabid animals (things I am currently scared of!). In His Hands, I am safe: It’s like a security bubble all around me: Nothing can touch us without His permission! He doesn’t promise His children long lives or that we will never suffer, but He does promise that He is in control of everything that happens to us.

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A Refreshing Break

Last weekend, seven of us went on a mini-trip to Bagiuo, which is a city in the mountains in the north of the Philippines. There were four of us British visitors, escorted by Kuya (the word of respect for a man) Amor, Ate Cathy and Ate Reah. It was really helpful to get away, actually- to have a chance to breathe and relax and get to know some people.  One precious element of the trip was Christian fellowship: the church family in Tomay (near Bagiuo) were so hospitable. They fed us and let us stay in an old house that one of the families owns and were so warm and welcoming… It’s beautiful to see the character of Jesus in people you have never even met before.

On the Saturday, we had a fun, touristy day. Went to look at an amazing view of the mountains (Our Creator God is mind-blowing amazing!), visited some botanical gardens, and then went shopping in a huge mall. We had lunch in the mall. It was a flashy new food hall with lots of takeaways dotted around the edge and chairs in the middle. I was just buying my lunch when it suddenly hit me that… I AM IN ASIA!!! I looked around the mall and all of the faces were Asian… I’m on the other side of the world! It wasn’t at all threatening- just so exciting! I’m learning that God is so amazing and you just never know what is around the corner when you belong to Him!

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We went shopping- good but also challenging- I guess shopping always is. So tempting to buy and buy and buy, especially here because everything is dirt cheap by UK standards. I was beginning to be sucked in by the greed, until God gently rebuked me on the taxi ride home, through someone who humbly said, “It’s so easy to get greedy”. Yes. It is. The thing is that, if the pound can buy so much in poor countries, just think of how much good it can do! It can even help people (many people) have the chance to know Him.

The Little Girl at the Market

We went to the market, and the Lord really dealt with me there through the precious street children. We were wondering through the market, looking at the trinkets and things, when some small boys and girls came up to us, trying to sell carrier bags for us to carry our shopping in. Of course, I did as I had been advised: a firm “No”, not matter how much they persisted. But then the Lord began to work in my heart. One of them, a little girl, was trying to sell us carrier bags (small blue-striped carrier bags- a pitiable attempt at trying to earn money). Suddenly, God broke my heart for her. There she was, dirty and poor, trying to sell me carrier bags so that she could eat… and God helped me to see how precious she is. She is not just some little nuisance who was trying to take our money. She is a child with an eternal soul: a child who laughs and cries and struggles and could have been me. It’s not really about her, either: it’s about all of them: all of the precious little children who are falling off the cliff into eternity, crying out for food and love and with no idea that they are in so much greater need of the only message that can save their souls…

Finding Far Away Family

On the Sunday, we split into two groups to support two churches in the localty- the two English guys who were with us (currently doing church apprenticeships) were both preaching. I went to a tiny little fellowship that meets in a hotel room in Bagiuo City. The maximum amount of people they get on a Sunday morning is about sixteen. It was lovely to meet with them, and the sermon was so helpful; living by faith in His Word- it’s all about seeing the unseen, and yet the unseen is so, so real! After the service, we went to join another church for lunch, and we managed to catch the end of the service, which was lovely- they were looking at the hope of Heaven. We stayed for lunch and it was lovely to meet the church family there. How precious to have brothers and sisters with the same Saviour, yet on the other side of the world!  Eating the food was also an experience. I tried seaweed salad, which tastes a bit like pasta!! The whole trip was a great blessing from Him and it was so helpful to have a chance to get to know Ate Cathy and Ate Reah better. I’m beginning to feel a bit more at home amongst everyone now.

When I got back to Manila, Becky had arrived. She’s another English visitor who will be staying in Masinag (where I am) now that Ate Mary has gone back to Scotland. She’s a speech therapist from Lancaster. It’s lovely to have another English friend, and she’s also an inspiration- she came here three years ago, and she knows quite a bit of Tagalog, and she’s been so quick to practice it, learn it, use it as much as she can… Obviously you can only learn a little amount, but even a little makes such a difference with the people and the children. I feel His challenge- I’ll try harder now!

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Tales of Heartbreak

This week has been based around editing reports in the two offices (at the home or in the city), but there have been plenty of experiences alongside reports, and it’s good to be useful. I’m glad that being English makes me useful here, because the CCM Social Workers have so many reports to write (to send back to people who sponsor the children), and it makes such a difference to have native English speakers to check their English. It’s also so helpful for me to read the reports and learn the backgrounds of the girls. On Tuesday, I helped to make some profiles of some of the children who are now in the homes here. It was so heartbreaking. Tales of failed relationships, tangled families, unwanted and abandoned children, sexual abuse…Some of the children don’t even have birth certificates. We have no right to think that these children aren’t so, so precious.

Life is So Short

On Tuesday night, I went with some of the teenage girls to a traditional Filipino wake- their schoolteacher’s father had died. It was a really good chance to get to know some of the girls a bit better, and to begin to build relationships with them. I think the lesson of the evening was that it’s not supposed to be about me or my strength: just coming in helplessness to Him and letting Him use me. On the way, I was feeling pretty useless at communicating with the teenagers- although they speak some English, some of them don’t speak much, and you can literally only say “Hello. How are you?”, and then you’ve run out of words! But I gave it to Him anyway, and, as ever, He answered- I ended up having a great chat with one of them. Her story is what this is all about. It was so encouraging to talk to her and to see, again, the hope and transformation that the Lord can bring.

The wake in itself was an experience. It was more like a celebration. They were a Christian family (the man who had died was a Christian), and what happens is that they have the body in the coffin in a room and people come and go, looking at the body in the coffin and then chatting to the family and eating food. Looking at the body was, once again, His reminder: the body was so lifeless; so cold. A few days before, that was a person. Now, he has gone. He knew Jesus, but many do not. Another day, and 80,000 have perished without ever hearing the Name of the Lord. The urgency does not diminish.

Placing Hope in Their Hands

On Wednesday night, after the prayer meeting, a group of us went and handed out tracts in the streets. It was sheer joy to place the message of life into the hands of tricycle drivers and street vendors and people living on the streets… In only a few moments, you can give a person the message that could save them from an eternal Hell. For a long time last year, I resisted God’s call to tract… Now (only by His grace), to do so is a joy most of the time… oh, the hope of giving someone the Word of Life! What a privilege to hand out the cure to the world’s deadly cancer on a piece of paper! What a privilege… what potential… and what a responsibility, with all the knowledge that we have!

On Wednesday, Ate Nida took me with me to visit some of her friends who live nearby- my first experience of visiting people in poverty, I guess. We went to a few houses, visiting people she has been studying the Bible with. They live in very, very small, basic houses, and, as you progress through the community, they get closer and closer together, and there is a lot of disease. I felt pretty inadequate again- how can you communicate when you don’t speak the language? And I’m very conscious of being white… and rich. But it was so good to see the people, even if all I could do was smile. Ate Nida asked me to pray a couple of times, and she said the people would have understood my prayers, which was encouraging. She also said it encourages them to have a white person visit. I keep forgetting I’m white, because obviously I don’t see it, but I’m beginning to realise that I stick out… a lot! When we walk down the streets, a lot of people stare or say things to me. It’s bizarre to be the outsider, and yet such a privilege to be here, too!

Hope in a Slum

One of the most amazing experiences this week was joining a Bible Study in a slum area. Ate Cathy took me with her to join the Bible Study, and it was so amazing to go. The people live in tiny, one-room shacks made of corrugated sheets, cardboard and other makeshift materials, all joined together in one big structure with one room on top of the other. They’re all so close together, and it’s pretty dirty. There are quite a few animals walking round, and they suspect that a lot of the people have TB, although some of them are too scared to check whether they have or not. CCM are trying to organise a mass check-up. The people rent the shacks, struggling to make enough to do so, so that they don’t end up on the streets. The Bible Study was in a tiny room rented out by a family of seven- I think that they might have more than one room, but there certainly wasn’t much space! They had made the room really nice with decorations etc, but it was still so small and it’s hardly safe for a family to live there with so many germs floating around… When it started raining, they put cloths across the makeshift windows. 

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There were about 6-8 mums at the Bible Study, I think, plus one man and a few children, who were a bit of distraction for their mums. It was such an experience to sit there, in the slum, seeing the precious people hear the Word of God. Last summer, I went to Madeira on holiday with my family and God was breaking my heart for the people but I couldn’t (or didn’t) respond. To see how response is not only possible but can happen is beyond amazing. Oh, the joy of responding to the deep, urgent and real need!

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A huge encouragement followed: We went to see Rubie Joy (the girl who had Dengue Fever last week), who is now out of hospital and basically well again! Thank you for praying. I’m beginning to learn that prayer works and it is such a resource and so I should use it for all it’s worth, because it’s a resource from God and it does change things, by His grace!

The Drop-In

On Thursday night, I went to the Drop- In run by the church. The idea is that they serve a meal for people who live on the streets, and also share a Gospel message at the same time. Ate Virgie has also just started taking the children out to do a mini kids’ club at the same time- I love the way she is just grabbing the opportunity and using it to do a makeshift Sunday School right where the children are! The whole experience of being at the Drop-In was amazing. So, so many people came- the room (the church hall) was packed with people. The kitchen was crazy- lots of willing volunteers from the church were working so hard to make the food, put it on plates, send it out, clear up…  I went out into the hall for a bit and tried to chat to the people. It was a little daunting because there were so many and I don’t speak much Tagalog, but also so necessary- I came here to be as challenged as possible! I spoke to people a little, and then spent a bit of time with the children, some of whom were very intrigued by a white person! It was humbling and challenging to be with them. One of them, a little toddler, was really dirty and his teeth were black- some had already fallen out. He’s just a little toddler! And he is as precious as the children we treasure in our own families. How the Lord must care for these forgotten little ones. Some of the little ones kept holding out their arms to me, to be picked up. They were dirty, but the Lord helped me to see that they are so precious, so I picked them up, one at a time… putting one down so that the next could be picked up afterwards! It was an unforgettable moment.

Peeza!

Last night, I led a Bible Study for a group of teenagers from Faith House and Hope House- the homes where the older teenagers go after CCM or when they are taken off the streets. I had dinner with Pastor Ellis and Ate Necy beforehand. On Wednesday night, Pastor Ellis had told me that he would get takeaway pizza for me, but I didn’t understand what he meant- I thought he said “peas” or something, and that it was some Filipino food, because he said “peeza”, not “pizza”! I found it so funny when I found out he had meant pizza all along!

There were about twelve girls at the Bible Study. Pastor Ellis translated as I spoke. I hope God used me. The girls are so precious! What a blessing it would be to see a generation of seriously godly women raised up out of CCM! God can do it, and He tells us to pray!! 

Celebrating With Family

This afternoon (Saturday), Cubao Reformed Baptist Church had their 28th Anniversary, and they had such a lovely service- lots and lots of the church family came, plus unsaved visitors who know the church through CCM, and we had a very encouraging message on the need to endure in the light of the Glory that awaits- so, so helpful. It’s a little strange to hear the message on headphones through a little FM radio, translated by someone out the back, but so, so good- it’s such a blessing to be fed from the teaching, and so kind of CRBC to translate the message for us. I’m really learning how crucial it is to feed on the Word, and to pray! After the service, we had dinner together- they had put it all in polystyrene boxes- rice and meat and this stuff like pasta- I haven’t learned the name yet. So good to eat together as a huge family in the Lord, celebrating His utter faithfulness over so many years. Praise the Lord for what He has done and IS doing here in Manila!

Thank you for reading! Hope it encouraged you!  Hopefully more to come another time. 🙂

(To receive free emails whenever I post, click ‘Follow’ and type in your email address. I’d love to keep encouraging you!)

(To find out more about Christian Compassion Ministries and Cubao Reformed Baptist Church, use the links below).

http://www.ccmmanila.org/

http://www.crbc-ph.org/

Memories from the Philippines…

If it’s ok with you, I want to experiment a bit on the blog. I’ve been toying with an idea, and I think the Lord has been encouraging me to go with it.

Almost ten years ago now, I went to Manila in the Philippines on a mission trip for around five weeks. While I was there, I wrote journal entries and letters home about the things that happened, and I have recently felt prompted to share some of my writing and memories here. I’ll see how it goes, but I want to have a go and see what happens!

I’ve done a bit of editing- I wrote with a lot of exclamation marks back then! But they’re basically the same- stories of my experiences there.

To give you a bit of background, I went to Manila for five weeks just after I graduated from Uni, to help with Christian Compassion Ministries. While I was there, I stayed in a girls’ home and also helped with various things, including helping to edit reports, visiting the slums and seeing different aspects of the work, trying to help out where I could. You can find out about Christian Compassion Ministries here: http://www.ccmmanila.org/

Manila is a needy place, with lots of poverty. The blessing there is that there are some Christians there reaching out with the love of Jesus, but many people don’t truly understand their need of Him, and there is much poverty and oppression. Things have moved on in ten years, I think, but much is essentially very similar. I hope these words give you a feel for what it’s like.

Here goes:

July 2007, Manila

Well, here I am in Manila, and I am, as ever, a living testimony to the Lord’s faithfulness. He has been so good and, as ever, all my fears (about long-haul flights, changing flights in Hong Kong in only two hours, not coping with the heat, not coping with the food, insects and plenty of other things!) have been answered by His faithfulness. What does He tell us? 

‘6 Be anxious for nothing’ (Philippians 4:6a)

 The sooner I learn to implement that, the better!
 
The flight over here was so exciting. I couldn’t believe I was on my way to Asia! I guess I was pretty much dreading the long-haul flight, but it was absolutely fine. It was overnight, but I didn’t actually sleep that much- I kept watching the map on the screen! I couldn’t believe that I was actually flying over all of those places! We flew over so many places: Europe and then the Middle East, and then Russia… China… so many Asian countries…. And then landed in Hong Kong, which was just so amazing… whenever my friend Nora has talked about Hong Kong, it has always seemed like another world… and I was actually there for two hours! Watching the map on the screen was also deeply challenging… I’ve been learning recently just HOW MANY PLACES IN THE WORLD are unreached… It took us literally hours to fly over country after country with names I’ve never heard of, all full of thousands and thousands of people starving for the message of eternal salvation that we hold in our hands, falling like lemmings off a cliff, and not even knowing the danger they are in.

’14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?’ Romans 10:14

The statistics say that 80,000 people die per day without ever having heard the Name of Jesus. And I was flying over those precious, precious people… The need is unbelievable… and the potential of the Gospel is amazing, because Jesus does save!
 
When my friend Sarah (travelling with me on route to a slightly different destination) and I arrived in Manila Airport, I was pretty overwhelmed, but took it to the Lord and He, as ever, strengthened me. Outside the airport, I was met by Ate (the word of respect used for all older women, so I’m Ate Caroline to the girls) Mailyn, Ate Nida and Ate Annie, two of the house mothers at the children’s home. They led me to the CCM (Christian Compassion Ministries) van, where Ate Mailyn introduced me to “her girls”: teenagers who have all been rescued from horrible situations. Four or five of the older girls were in the van, and I talked to them as we drove back. I was amazed by how perfect all of this is: I love ministering to girls, and so God sent me to a home for… girls! This whole trip was such a miracle… I literally booked it at the last minute, and I seriously didn’t have much time to plan or even consider the fact that I should work in a home for girls. Yet… He had arranged it all, just like He has planned every other step of the way. Just see His Hand in every little detail of our lives!

It was pretty late (Filipino time), so Ate Mailyn and Ate Nida showed me my room. As we walked to my room, I had my first glimpse of the little ones: we peeked into one of the girls’ room (4 girls per room) and there was one of the little ones, curled up on the rug in the middle of the floor. She hadn’t even made it to bed!
 
And so… sleep, and my first experience of Manila: The cockroach!! It was a little scary… But very funny now that I look back on it! I got to my room by 12.00 Filipino time, but that’s only 4pm UK time. Even though I was pretty tired, I couldn’t really sleep, and so I decided to unpack a little. I turned on the light, all ready to unpack, and saw… a very big insect on the floor! In shock, I watched it scuttle very quickly across the floor and into the bathroom. I guessed that it was a cockroach but I couldn’t remember if they were dangerous or not, and I was already pretty traumatised by fear of mosquitos! Frozen in fear, I thought for a long time about what the best plan of action would be… and eventually decided to trap it into the en suite bathroom! So I shut the door, stuffed my towel under the door, wedged the door as tight as I could with my suitcase and finally stuffed every single crack I could find with carrier bags! Then I prayed that it wouldn’t get me, checked my bed a LOT for insects and tried to sleep! In the morning, I went sheepishly out of my room and said to Ate Mailyn, “I have a question: There’s an insect in my room.” She laughed when she saw how I had trapped it in the bedroom… and soon killed it with some spray!! I’m not scared of those insects anymore, which is good because apparently the children will put them under visitors’ doors in the middle of the night!

My first day was Sunday, which is always the best way to begin things… with the Lord and His people. The day at Cubao Reformed Baptist Church was lovely: everyone was so warm and welcoming and friendly (of course- they have same Lord!). Before the service, they had a session about “Fear of Man”, which was pretty appropriate for me at the moment- it’s something God’s showing me that I really need to conquer. The main service was in Tagalog, which will take a bit of getting used to (not understanding what’s going on is a little bewildering at first!), but they have a translation system for English speakers- you wear a radio headset tuned into a channel with translation. And the teaching was great. It was also so, so special to look around and see a congregation of almost wholly Filipino people… SEE what the Lord is doing in saving people from every corner of the Globe! They sang in Tagalog and Ate Mary (a Scottish lady who is staying at Emmaus House with me at the moment) and I joined in in English. How wonderful to praise Him in different tongues!!! One of the songs was “How firm a foundation”: a good reminder.
 
Fear not, I am with thee.
Oh, be not dismayed.
I, I am thy God, and I’ll still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent Hand.

(From ‘How Firm a Foundation’, author unknown, public domain).
 
I’m staying in a home for twelve girls, in one of the four houses in Masinag. Each has around 12 girls, as well as their housemothers and social workers (all of whom are so lovely and real examples of non-complaining love for the lost and service to Christ). The girls are just so lovely! On Monday night, I came home (Ate Mailyn and Ate Fay took Ate Mary and I out for the day) and the children were all there. They were chasing round in the garden, running round everywhere with plenty of energy as ever… One of them, called Roselle, wanted me to sit with her, and she read me a poster of “Philippine National Symbols”. She showed me all the symbols and the Tagalog words. It was so precious to chat to her. We then played “Hide and Seek”: children everywhere, of all ages! Such a precious treat…

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Monica is around ten years old. She rescued as a baby from the streets. After dinner on Monday, Monica was reading to me from her Bible, in Tagalog and then in English. It was just amazing to see her flick to Genesis and then Psalm 23 and then the Ten Commandments, reading and quoting and translating and engaging… darling little Monica who would have been in some horrible situation on the streets had God not sent CCM to give her EVERY hope in the Gospel of Christ… along with a home, mothers, sisters, food, schooling… Yes, yes, yes, there is need. Oh, there is NEED! But THIS is what faith acting in love can do!

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I watched the Emmaus family devotions. They were in Tagalog, so I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but, oh, it was so beautiful to see them sitting round with their two mothers, engaging animatedly with Proverbs 6, the words flying from girl to girl, teenagers and little ones alike. They were a family, and you could see the love on Ate Nida and Ate Mailyn’s faces as they taught them. They then had a family fun night, as Ate Mailyn explained afterwards (I was a bit confused about what was going on- it’s bizarre when you don’t understand the words!). The banter was literally flying from girl to girl, as the whole family joined in… Little April sang a song, which was apparently about eating vegetables, and they were all very, very amused by it… But for the grace of God, where would these girls be? On the streets somewhere? Probably hopeless and broken. And here they are now: a family… hearing the Word of God.

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I’ve been spending quite a bit of time getting used to my surroundings… and the crying need there is here. You walk through the streets, and poverty greets you in many ways. Yet there is, at the same time, great wealth: The new “Gateway” mall is huge, spotless and extravagant. The prices are ridiculous in comparison to the UK. I bought a children’s book for 70p. Eating out is less than a pound. Riding a Jeepney (the public transport, which is pretty hair-raising!) costs 20p. What we have in the West is unbelievable.

I can’t call this a wake-up call, because God had already shown me this stuff through books before I came. Yet it is HERE: this IS what the world is like, outside our comfortable, extravagant, easy waste and luxury in the Western world.

On Tuesday, I visited the public hospital with Ate Cathy and Ate Reah. It was pretty overwhelming. We visited a girl, from the slums, I think, called Rubie Joy, who has Dengue fever. She was in the children’s ward. It was heartbreaking. I walked in with Ate Reah and Ate Cathy, and there were simple metal beds everywhere, each with two or three children lying in them or sitting next to them (taking turns in the bed). Parents sat next to their children, fanning them. Rubie Joy was with her mother, and she looked up at me with these sad, pleading eyes. It was overwhelming. This is the reality outside our comfortable English lives… And the world is fast headed into eternity, far, far from ready to meet its Judge… Who died so that they could have a chance to live forever. Yet they perish fast, and so few know the way of salvation… Standing there looking around, I began to feel faint and totally out of my depth, but I cried to the Lord and He strengthened me. As Ate Cathy talked to Rubie Joy’s mum, Ate Reah told me that, because there isn’t enough money, the children share beds. The hospital was a public hospital.  You have to pay to go there, although you can apply for financial help, which is generally given. People are turned away because there aren’t enough beds. There aren’t enough nurses. They are all leaving to go abroad, where you get paid more. Doctors will visit patients a maximum of once a day… They’re overworked. And THIS is our world.

I’ve also been helping out in the CCM office, editing reports and checking the English. It’s great fun, because I love working with words! It’s also heartbreaking to read the reports. CCM runs programmes to help street people, and the reports are updates sent to the children’s sponsors. Some of the families are in such a mess… They survive day to day by the skin of their teeth. And they’re NOT just irrelevant statistics… They’re NOT! The many, many little ones running around in the streets in bare feet are just like the little ones in the CCM home- precious like Monica and April who were once in very similar situations, and are now the little darlings who run up to greet me when I come in, and fill this home with their laughter and energy and fun… These little ones are lost and abused on the streets of Manila… and what happens at CCM (rescue, love and HOPE) is what the love of Christ can do. 

This weekend, the other English visitors (there are four of us) and I are going away on a mini-trip to Bagio. It will be a mini-break, and hopefully a chance to breathe a little and get my head round all this stuff! But I don’t want this trip to be luxury… Just look at the crying need! It was only grace that let me be born in England and not the streets of Manila. It was only GRACE that gave me a childhood in Sunday School and faith in Christ, rather than being brought up somewhere where I would NEVER have heard, and would have fallen off the vast, vast cliff into eternity. I am praying that He will show me what He wants me to do in response.

(Continued after the trip)

I’ll be in the office this afternoon, editing more reports for Ate Analyn. Ate Mary has a birthday party this evening- all the children will join in, and I can’t wait to see them all again- I realised yesterday that I miss them when I haven’t seem them for a while. Scott (an American who has just moved out here with his wife Emily to run the new Boys’ Home) said he came to Manila and “fell in love”… with the kids. I think that’s happening to me, too!

Ok, I think I’d better end the mammoth letter there! We just had Ate Mary’s birthday party, which was so special. The children were crazily running round putting chocolate cake on each other’s faces! What was far more precious was to see them listen as Ate Mary taught them from the Bible. This is what the Lord is doing: He has taken the hopelessness of children suffering in the streets, and has turned them into a family… with hope… and the wonderful, wonderful message of eternal life! And this is what He is like. 🙂

Thanks for reading! Hopefully more to come another time… 🙂

(To get free emails from me, click ‘Follow’ and type in your email address. I’d love to keep encouraging you!).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Do you Ever Struggle to Trust God?

Do you ever struggle to trust God? Do you ever wonder whether He is really kind? Do you struggle with doubts that maybe He hyasn’t seen… Or He doesn’t care… Or He isn’t as good as you’re supposed to believe He is? I sure do!

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Over the past few days, the Lord has been helping me to see something: it actually grieves Him when I don’t trust Him; when I live in fear because I think He won’t be kind… or I think He does not care enough. It hurts His heart when I live in fear that He will be cruel, or indifferent, or remiss.

I belong to God through Jesus. My sins have been forgiven because I have turned from my sin and believed in Christ. Yes, before I was forgiven, there was reason to fear the wrath of a holy God- not because He is cruel but because He is wonderfully, gloriously pure and good. But He is so kind; so gracious… that He gave His own Son to buy the forgiveness I don’t deserve. I am forgiven now. He is for me, and He wants to do me good!

‘What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?’ Romans 8:31

The other night, He tenderly showed me that it hurts Him when I don’t trust Him. It was so gentle: not so much like a rebuke as like a hug! It grieves Him when I don’t trust Him… because I really can trust Him, and He wants me to know that, and to rest in His awesome, tender, incredible, life-changing love!

He helped me to look back to the past; times of such tender protection and provision… Times of impeccable timing… That could only come from such tender, caring, unbelievably wonderful love.

Like…

  • When I was so sad, and only God knew, and suddenly a friend engulfed me in a surprise hug.
  • When some news was coming that I wasn’t expecting and I didn’t want… and everyone else knew but me… and, by chance, though I was around everyone, I didn’t find out until days later, when I was ready to take it.
  • When He led my friends and I to the perfect house to rent, complete with all sorts of little blessings and details that only He could engineer.

And a thousand other examples.

The other night, I picked up a book: ‘Communion with God’, by John Owen (Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1991). I used to love it years ago, and it’s been sitting on my shelf. I began to read, and it was such a tender confirmation of the same lesson. I’ll share some quotes with you, because they’re just so wonderful!

“Many dark and disturbing thoughts arise to hinder our walk with God. Few can rise to the height of the Father’s love by faith, so as to rest their souls in his love. They live far below it in the troublesome region of hopes and fears, storms and clouds. Abiding in the Father’s love, all is peace and quiet. But how to rise up to the height of the Father’s love they do not know. It is God’s will that he should always be seen as gentle, kind, tender, loving and unchangeable. It his will that we see him as the Father, and the great fountain and reservoir of all grace and love.”

Owen, J. (1991).Communion with God. ed: Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, p.16-17

“Why, then, this foolishness? Why are we afraid to have good thoughts of God? Is it too hard to think of God as good, gracious, tender, loving and kind?” p32, ibid

Actually, it’s our enemy who wants us to think hard thoughts of God.

God longs to bless His people… abundantly.

(Actually, He longs to bless everyone, but only those who come to Him through Jesus place themselves under that ultimate blessing).

“It is a love which fills God with desires to do good and great things to and for us.” p 21, ibid

“He that loves desires only to do good to the object of his love.” p22, ibid

As Scripture says,

’17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.’ James 1:17

Those who know Him; who live close to Him; can live in peace and joy, surrounded by His love.

“The saints… are sweetly wrapped up in the love of their Father.” p36, ibid

‘8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy
9 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.’ Psalm 103:8-14

And He is so very, very kind. He loves to provide for His children… abundantly.

I was talking to Him the other day about what difference it would make if I trusted Him more. And suddenly I realised something: I would relax! I would stop fretting so much! I would enjoy the blessings of today more without worrying about the potential problems of tomorrow!

I would relax.

I would still work hard. I would still throw myself into the duties of today; into loving others; into seeking His Kingdom first. But I would do it with a lot less angst- because it is so unnecessary!

One day, I was fretting about something. I was talking to God about it, but I was still pretty knotted up. And then I found a packet of Love Hearts in my bag, which I had been given. I opened the package and took out the first one. It said, ‘Relax’. And I knew it was from God, encouraging me not to worry so much!

I remember when I began reading one of my favourite children’s books, Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter.

I opened to the part where a pastor is deeply troubled by  a perplexing problem. He is going over it, over and over again, trying to solve it… but he can’t.

In walks little Pollyanna, and she knows something is wrong. She doesn’t know the answer, but she shares something with him: something her pastor father taught her to do: Rejoice!! There are so many exhortations in the Bible to do so!

So he does. He doesn’t know the answer yet, but he is beginning to have a joyful change of perspective.

Soon afterwards, he works out what to do.

Porter, E. (1994). Pollyanna. ed. Ware: Wordsworth Editions Ltd. (p181-190)

What a lesson: even before the problem is solved, remember Who your Father is! He’s got it covered! You can relax… and you can even rejoice! Yes, there may be tears this side of Heaven. But He is good. We can trust His heart, and His ultimate desire to do His children good.

And why?

What is behind all this?

His heart of love. His heart of kindness and mercy. His heart of love, that I can actually, truly trust… Because He really is trustworthy. Because He really is kind. Because He does over and above all that I could ask or imagine, over and over and over again.

Because that’s just what He is like.

Because He really, truly is love. 🙂

(He longs to pour His love upon you, too, in forgiveness and mercy through Jesus. If you never have before, come to Him and tell Him you’re sorry for things that hurt Him. Receive the forgiveness that is freely available through Jesus. Give your life back to Him as your loving Lord and King. He longs to receive you in His wonderful, tender, eternal love).

(To receive free emails, click ‘Follow’ and type in your email address- I’d love to keep encouraging you!).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.