20 August 2017

T is for Trust

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3 5-6

See, God has come to save me.
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
The Lord God is my strength and my song;
he has given me victory.
Isaiah 12:2

19 August 2017

S is for Sabbath

God doesn't get tired, but even He rested on the seventh day after creating the universe.

The Sabbath was made for us to rest. Our bodies and minds need rest. All around us, people are struggling with fatigue and one of the reasons is a lack of rest.

As we rest from our labours, we not only renew our body, but our spirit as well.

“Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.'”
Mark 2:27-28

18 August 2017

R is for Regeneration

We hardly ever hear the term "regeneration" in our churches nowadays. You are more likely to hear it on Doctor Who!

Another way of talking about regeneration is talking about being "born again." Here's a more familiar term to our modern ears. A work of the Holy Spirit, the term speaks of a spiritual transformation where the believer is radically changed, becoming someone new. Without that spark of the divine, a person is spiritually dead, but God steps in and makes that person spiritually alive.

He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.
Ezekiel 37:3-5

17 August 2017

Q is for Quitting

I'm not immune from all this. When things get tough, I have often felt that I have wanted to quit. Walk away, try and find something a bit easier to do.

God knows this. And assures me of His love.

Difficult times like these are opportunities to build your prayer life. To get closer to the Lord and draw upon His grace.

Don't give up! Jesus doesn't give up on you ... or me!

“Those times when you feel like quitting can be times of great opportunity, for God uses your troubles to help you grow.”
Warren Wiersbe

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

16 August 2017

P is for Perfection

Why can't I get it right?

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5:48

But even I get it wrong. I've just discovered that I've made a couple of errors this week in this very blog, and have just spent a couple of minutes kicking myself about it. Argh!

And that's the whole point of today's entry.

I regularly fall far short of God’s glory. I always aim to hit the target and constantly miss the mark.

It is only through Christ that we might have even a chance of reaching His own righteousness. Only in the context of our relationship with Jesus does God see us as perfect.

I'm informed that the Greek word for “perfect” here is telios. It means “fully grown, completed, or perfect.” So, to be “perfect” in this sense is actually to be spiritually mature, and completed in Christ.

That is our true aim. To grow more and more like Him.

15 August 2017

O is for Getting Older

I'm reliably informed that Old Age is a blessing from the Lord. We are called to give respect to all people, but there is a certain type of respect that we give to those who are our elders.

This is particularly poignant now that my own hair is starting to turn white. Yes, my body is now aging, and I am acutely aware of the things that I used to do so easily - things that now take me a while to do. It doesn't stop me doing these things, just slows me down a little.

And yet, I am assured that an elderly Christian never truly gets old. You only get old when you stop working for others in Christ and instead turn to watching television all day. There's still plenty to do!

Even to your old age and grey hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Isaiah 46:4 (NIV)



14 August 2017

N is for Neighbours

There are many verses in the Bible that speak about our neighbours. We should love our neighbours, we should treat our neighbours as we would want to be treated. So, who then is my neighbour? The man who lives next door, who I only see every so often.

Nope. It's more than that.

Everyone. All of those other people that we come across every day. The man in the queue ahead of you in the supermarket; the lady on the train; the youths on the street corner. All of 'em.

One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: “Which is most important of all the commandments?”
Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”

Mark 12: 28-31 (MSG)

13 August 2017

M is for Mercy

Mercy is God not giving us the punishment that we deserve for our sins.

"Justice is for those who deserve it; mercy is for those who don’t."
Woodrow Kroll

The LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not abandon you, destroy you, or forget the promise to your ancestors that he swore he would keep.
Deuteronomy 4:31

12 August 2017

L is for Laughter

Laughter is quite an amazing gift from God. When things aren't going quite the way I'd planned, a laugh or two can lift me out of some of my lowest points of my day, and can help me feel so much better.

God wants us to be happy. Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and what better way is there to express joy than through laughter?

"He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy."
Job 8:21 (NIV)

11 August 2017

K is for Kindness

It's not enough just to say kind words. You've got to mean what you say, actually live it out! Stop pretending to be someone you are not... you'll be found out!

Your enemy shakes hands and greets you like an old friend,
all the while conniving against you.
When he speaks warmly to you, don’t believe him for a minute;
he’s just waiting for the chance to rip you off.
No matter how cunningly he conceals his malice,
eventually his evil will be exposed in public.
Proverbs 26: 24-26 (MSG)

10 August 2017

J is for Justice

I don't need to add any observations. :)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8 (NIV)

9 August 2017

I is for Integrity

Integrity is defined as: "the quality or state of having strong moral principles; showing honesty and sincerity".

Doing the right thing. Each and every day. Because you want to, not because you want to be seen doing it...

For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.
Proverbs 2:6-8


8 August 2017

H is for Hypocrisy

Several of my work colleagues tell me that I should "Fake it till you make it." It's all about having confidence. If you don't feel confident, you should pretend you are until you gain the experience or tools necessary to real.

I'm not convinced. I struggle so often in this area, trying to be the best that I can be but constantly failing to hit the mark. In fact, it only reinforces to me the fact that I need to be more understanding when I come across others who don't get it right either. Lord, help me to understand, to be more honest and to be myself rather than someone I am not. I also need to be more forgiving!

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Matthew 7:1-5 (NIV)

7 August 2017

G is for Gossip

We might think we're just passing on the news from the local 'grapevine'. Are you sure about that? Often it is just gossip. Plain and simple. Unsubstantiated and often derogatory in nature, it can be so destructive.

There's plenty of verses about gossip in the Bible. Stuff about learning to tame your tongue. Here's another good one... can you be really sure that it's the whole truth? You could be someone else's lies with every word...

“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness."
Exodus 23:1 (ESV)

Plus of course, it's often seen merely as a way to waste a bit of time and have some fun into the bargain. Except of course, for the nice bit of vicious character assassination that you are engaging in...

Yet we hear that some of you are living in laziness, refusing to work, and wasting your time in gossiping. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we appeal to such people—we command them—to quiet down, get to work, and earn their own living.
2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 (TLB)

6 August 2017

F is for Forgiveness

Yes, I kind of get the idea of forgiveness. It's tough, but I can forgive other people...

Forgiving myself? That can be an awful lot tougher...

God reminds me that forgiving yourself is not about forgetting. It is all about not dwelling on that stupid thing you did for hours on end.

If God has moved on, has declared that He 'chooses not to remember', shouldn't we do the same?

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NIV)

5 August 2017

E is for Encouragement

It costs you nothing to take the time to build up others around you. You're not that busy. Try it today!

Worry weighs us down; a cheerful word picks us up.
Proverbs 12:25 (The Message)

4 August 2017

D is for Darkness

How dark is it when you live without hope, without justice, without freedom? There is a light, though. Can you see it?

The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
John 1:4-5

3 August 2017

C is for Charity

I am often reminded by those who don't want to help other people that "charity begins at home". Perhaps, but does that mean it should end there? How can I show them a better way?

Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
Isaiah 58:10

2 August 2017

B is for Bitterness

Holding on to bitterness can mean big trouble. I know this from my own experience. That's when we need to support one another...

Look after each other so that not one of you will fail to find God's best blessings. Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.
Hebrews 12:15, TLB.

1 August 2017

A is for Anxiety

Worry doesn't solve anything. Instead, I need to replace it with something much better.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4: 6-7

31 July 2017

A-Z: Bible Topics

It's coming up to the month of August once again, and that's a time when I set myself the challenge to blog my way through the alphabet on one particular theme. This year I'm choosing a list of different topics that have affected me personally over the last few years, together with a bible verse to read alongside each.

It seems a little strange to me that this year's August challenge will possibly be the most that I have blogged this year... oh well, how things change.

Have a good August, catch you on the other side.

30 June 2017

Hang In There!

Yeah, I know I haven't posted in a while.

Life's been busy. Have needed to pay attention to my family and friends.

I'll try and get back to some regular posts in the next few weeks.

Hang in there!

24 April 2017

Extra Grace Required

The email in my inbox was a direct challenge to me. I knew it as soon as I read it. It virtually leapt off the screen at me!

You see, it was talking about all those people who persistently wind you up. They seem to be there solely to try your patience. Some people talk about people who continually exhibit Challenging Behaviour. Others use more colourful metaphors...

In the email I mentioned above, Rick Warren called them EGRs, which stands for 'Extra Grace Required'. And I don't have any trouble in thinking of an example or two under that category.

These are the sort of people that threaten to drive you crazy.

But they need you. And they need God.

So, He sends me to them. 

And my challenge? Not to get out of their way as quickly as possible. Oh no...

No, it is to try and understand. To look past their behaviour and try to help.  Because they may not even know that their behaviour is challenging!

And I need to learn to continually respond with patience. With love.

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 
(Colossians 3:13, NLT).

4 April 2017

Where's Your Head At?

Where's your head at?
(Y'all know how it be)
Where's your head at?
Where's your head at?
(You don't make it easy on yourself)
Where's your head at?
(What you give is what you get...
Is what you get... what you get...) 

(Song by Basement Jaxx. Lyrics: Simon Ratcliffe, Gary Anthony James Webb, Felix Major Buxton )

My head is all over the place at the moment. And not in a good way.

But I'm hanging in there. 

Please be patient.

Normal service will be resumed, shortly.

“We are now cruising at a level of two to the power of twenty-five thousand to one against and falling, and we will be restoring normality just as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway.”

― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


28 March 2017

Peace, Love, and Understanding

"As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin' for light in the darkness of insanity.
I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
There's one thing I wanna know:
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding..."

(Lyrics: Nick Lowe)

It's interesting to see how often this world seems to shy away from loving other people - and yet our society's popular songs mention it regularly.

I read today about a man called Chad Swiatowicz who did the study about love songs for his master's thesis in sociology at the University of Florida. He analyzed the lyrics of the year's 10 most popular songs listed in Billboard's online archives for two eras, 2002-2005 and 1968-1971.

He found that 24 of the 40 songs in the modern era (60%) and half the songs of the classic era were devoted to the subject of love and relationships.

I find that - interesting. 

14 March 2017

Getting Up, Fighting Back

I woke up feeling really low.

I wasn't operating at full strength, as I was recovering from the after effects of a cold. I still felt the stress of the previous day....

Yesterday was an absurdly busy time at work, made even more difficult due to tech problems on the computer network. I had persevered, worked through it, ploughed through a pile of work in the afternoon. This was followed by a busy evening of voluntary work, which I found challenging - I was aware of so much that was happening that I found it tough to cope with it all. I carried on, anyway... And I paid the price, later! I had tremendous difficulty in unwinding when I eventually got in, well into the evening. Sleep was elusive. I did manage to get a few hours, but I slept fitfully, with my night full of dreams that threatened to pull me back down. I was tired, and my joints ached as I got up this morning to face the day...

I am told that such negativity is made so much worse if you let it overwhelm you. So, today, I made a choice. I fought back.
  • I prayed.
  • I bent my Father's ear about how I felt about the last 24 hours, and then I put the previous day aside. Enough!
  • I chose to start the next portion of the current day in a positive way. Out with the negativity!
  • I took pains to find all the positives in my work, ditching my usual routine and in one case going the extra mile to contact a colleague to help them. And I received a real blessing in return!
  • I posted a great bible quote that really helped me today on my Facebook wall. And started to spread some positivity...the 'likes' made me feel so much better as each rolled in...
Have you ever struggled in this way with negativity? Fight back!

23 February 2017

Dealing with Negativity

I didn't much care for the constant stream of negativity that was coming down the phone at me. Was that all my fault? I very much doubt it. Was it therefore a chance for the person to offload the frustration of the day at an anonymous voice on the phone? Yeah, more than likely.

But it still made me feel bad...

I did my best to help them, then went off to lick my wounds, recentre myself on my Lord. It took me a while.

Why are people so nasty to other people nowadays? Whatever happened to common decency? To giving people the benefit of the doubt?

(sigh)

I guess this is something I need to get used to. I'm particularly sensitive to this.

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22
Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.

Lord, you know how thin skinned I can be. I can get terribly hurt by the careless remarks of others. Yet, I know that I can - and have - hurt others with my own careless remarks. Forgive me.  Help me to learn from this, to somehow use this to help others. Help me to serve you, and in doing so, to bless others. Amen.

14 January 2017

Oh So Quiet

It's oh so quiet
Shh shh
It's oh so still
Shh shh
You're all alone
Shh shh
And so peaceful until....
(Lyrics from "It's Oh So Quiet" by Hans Lang and Bert Reisfeld. Shared during a wonderful hour during the night, whilst helping at the Winter Night Shelter. Bliss!)

...enjoy it while it lasts!

10 January 2017

Coping With Chaos

Yesterday evening was, quite honestly, chaotic. It was physically and emotionally draining. I had trouble recovering from it long after it was over. This was after a weekend when my plans were changed hourly (which I coped with). It was the sheer total craziness of yesterday that topped it all. And threatened to pull me over...

And yet, the people who we were trying to help yesterday were the ones who brought the chaos. They were looking for help from us. I was regularly reminded that these people live chaotic lives, so we must try and adapt.

So, I have to learn to cope with the chaos. Even if things go wrong. Even if the day has been a complete nightmare. Even if you can't turn off the feeling that you have to run away. Because you can't - if you want to help...

God is our constant here. He is not affected by circumstances or by moods.

"Father God, help me to find you in the midst of the chaos. Help me to see You, hear You, talk to You, and give thanks to You. Grant me true peace amidst the noise and the hubbub. In Jesus' name. Amen."

4 January 2017

Being Sensitive

I used to think that being sensitive meant that I was somehow weak, or broken.  Because, that's what I was told a while ago.

But I'm not.

It just means that I process things a little differently. Give me a snippet of information, and my mind and emotions go to town on that information,  sometimes producing unexpectedly inspired results. It’s how I work. And it works for me.

But it can be overwhelming. I need to take a "time out" every so often, if things get to be a little too much. Take five minutes, recentre myself, calm down, and come back fighting...

Yes, I have tried to numb it.  To tune it out.  It made me ill. And there's little point in yelling at me to "toughen up!”. (You know who you are). I've tried. It doesn't work.

Because I am sensitive. That's the way God made me. I can't change... Why would I want to?

Perhaps you should learn to deal with it?