Responding to Perfectionism

Wow, it’s a long time since I’ve blogged! Life’s been busy. God surprised me, and I started recording some more songs.

But God’s been encouraging me, and this is a great place to share. So can I share with you about one of those lessons?

Do you ever live drained by the weight of trying to do everything perfectly? Trying to keep up? Trying to hold it all together?

Me, I’m a perfectionist.

It’s a battle I fight constantly. And I decided it might be helpful to write it out. Maybe it could even help someone else.

It’s something I become aware of sometimes.

When Saturdays feel like chasing an impossible to-do list, trying to ‘catch up’.

When my list of jobs to do at my desk haunts me, because it’s too long and I immediately assume I’m going to fail, and carry the weight of the ‘to do’s with me all day.

I often catch myself living with a weight of ‘ought’ and ‘should’ and impossible expectations on these frail shoulders. Trying to over-achieve at everything, all of the time.

It wears you out!

And I’m beginning to realise it’s not what the Father means for me.

I think He means for life to be lighter than that.

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Ok, yes, God is a righteous God and His standard is perfection. He is perfectly holy and His perfect judgement is coming (and that’s a very big problem if we stay as we are). That’s why we need a Saviour. He does want us to be perfect… and we’ve all messed up. Big time. That’s why Jesus came. He’s the solution to that problem, for anyone who receives Him.

I belong to Jesus Christ. My sins are forgiven (and yours can be, too, if you come to Him on His terms). I turned to Him for His forgiveness and received Christ’s righteousness instead of mine. I am a child of God, accepted by the Father. It’s not up to me and my performance.

And I don’t think He means me to live weighed down.

Well, of course God wants His forgiven children to live pure and holy lives, and to give our best in all we do. It’s great to serve with all your heart, giving your best for Him.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.’ Colossians 3:23-24

But I’m not sure that’s the same as perfectionism.

Actually, perfectionism probably has a lot to do with pride.

And here are a couple of thoughts that have helped me:

Jesus did it all for me already. He lived a perfect life in my place. He paid for every single failure of mine. My righteousness is based on Christ’s performance. It’s not up to me.

God knows my limitations. The Lord knows I am only human.

‘For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.’ Psalm 103:14

Yes, serve Him with all my heart, but that doesn’t mean He expects me to do it all.

Recently, I came across this verse, and it really helped:

‘For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.’ 2 Corinthians 8:12

It’s a verse about financial giving, and I’m probably taking it a bit out of context. But I think there’s a principle there.

If you have a willing mind, I think the Lord receives what you can do, instead of the impossible perfect you think you ought to, but actually can’t.

As a friend pointed out to me, what did Jesus say to the woman who anointed Jesus with her expensive oil?

‘She has done what she could.’ Mark 14:18a

He knows how many hours I have in one day.

He knows I need to sleep and eat and rest.

He knows I can’t do everything I’d like to do.

He knows, far more than I do, that the super-high standards that haunt me just aren’t possible this side of Heaven.

Does that apply to me and my work? My use of time?

The Lord sees my willing heart. He also sees my limitations of time and energy. He knows my willing heart and what I can do, and doesn’t expect me to do what I can’t.

Actually, He sees Christ’s performance in my place.

He looks at me through Jesus. 🙂

Sometimes I get burdened down at my desk, thinking about how impossible it is to get everything done. But what if, instead, I focus on getting done what I can? What if I look at it positively instead of negatively?

So I’m adopting a new motto. Do what you can.

Instead of thinking negatively, thinking positively.

I can’t do all of that, but I can do something. Let’s see what I can do in the time I have!

It could even be a game: trying to get done what I can in the time I have, instead of focusing on the impossible can’t.

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How much can I achieve in this little window of five minutes? 

What unrealistic expectations can I cross off my ‘to do’ list so I can be more realistic, and achieve something?

It’s so freeing. It really helps. We’re short-staffed in our office. We can only do so much. But focusing on what I can do instead of what I can’t is really helping me. And I’m even surprised by how much I can done!

And it can bring freedom, and joy.

Like with blogging. I don’t have time to write a perfect post, but maybe I can write a little something that can encourage someone.

I can’t keep my house perfect, but a little bit of housework makes a big difference.

I can’t help everyone, but maybe I can help someone.

I can give Jesus the little I can do, and ask Him to use it. 🙂

Lord, thank You that my acceptance with You is based on Jesus, not me. And thank You that I don’t have to live weighed down by impossible expectations. Thank You that You can use the little I can do. 🙂

(He offers His righteousness in your place, too, when you come to Him, turn from wrong, receive His forgiveness and surrender to follow Him as Lord of your life. It’s the way to have your slate wiped clean, and a perfect righteousness given to you freely by God, so that you can be truly, freely accepted by Him, and given rescue and hope forever).

 

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

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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 amazes me

And Jesus is the Best Friend in the world

Yes, Jesus is the Best Friend in the world.

 

(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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).