24 December 2017

One Door Closes...

Happy Christmas, folks. See you in the New Year.

14 December 2017

...and Make Me Listen

Oh, let me hear Thee speaking,
In accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion,
The murmurs of self-will;
Oh, speak to reassure me,
To hasten, or control;
Oh, speak, and make me listen,
Thou Guardian of my soul.
(verse 3 of 'O Jesus I Have Promised', lyrics by John Ernest Bode)

4 December 2017

How Can I Tell If You're Lying?

Would the world be a better place if people always told the truth?

I would assume so, but it would be such a different world. For example, we would be under no illusions as to what people truly thought of us. And that, I'm sure, would be very eye-opening.

So, how can you tell if someone you know is lying to you? Or even exaggerating one aspect of a situation in order to encourage you to think in a particular way? I would call that a 'half-truth' - and these are the things which make it all the more difficult to work out what is fact and what is fiction...

Reading up on the topic lately, I discover that science has presented us with a whole host of ways to tell if someone is being honest with you. A myriad number of verbal and non-verbal cues that are said to be dead giveaways, based on research and practice. Whether they work in all circumstances - or indeed at all - I'll leave up to your own studies...

Apparently, you can tell if someone is telling a lie if:
  • Their story lacks something - a fabricated story will be incomplete or merely strung together - for example, it may have 'too much middle and not enough beginning and end'... liars will also tend to use sentence fragments while speaking, while truth-tellers tend to speak in complete sentences. 
  • They make overuse of eye contact - they used to say that liars won't look you straight in the eye. They say the opposite now. According to psychologists, liars tend to maintain more deliberate eye contact than those telling the truth. They are aware of the old saying, and try to 'bluff it out'. Additionally, a recent piece of research revealed that a liar's eyes will blink more slowly when they’re telling a lie, and then the blinking speed will increase up to eight times faster than normal after the lie has been told. Not sure if that's true - you'll keep a sharp eye out for this!
  • Their body language often gives them away - someone who is lying to you may breathe more heavily as they speak. Their bodily functions are still reacting, and would affect their heart rate and blood flow. You may also need to watch their hands - a speaker may cover certain “vulnerable” body parts when they are lying. Or maybe they are just nervous...
  • You can histen for the excuse - liars tend to rely on negative outside forces as excuses ("I’m late again today because of the traffic"), whereas truth-tellers are less likely to do so. 
  • You hear the 'bells' - Follow your instincts! Have you got a little 'warning bell' going off in your head? Trust it. Often our instincts for determining whether someone is lying or telling the truth are fairly strong. God gives some of us pretty good means of picking up 'non-verbal cues' which can guide us well...
Why have I blogged about this today? I've got a couple of situations in my life at the moment where I'm increasingly convinced that the person or people concerned simply aren't telling me the full story. I'm not comfortable. The warning bells are going off - however I'm not sure if this is total 'spin' or just the embellished truth.

Lord, please give me discernment.

22 November 2017

Context Is Everything

Do you ever wonder why, sometimes, you simply don't quite 'get it'? Yep, that's been me quite a bit recently. I haven't really been feeling 100% lately, a whole host of things have happened that have knocked me back a bit. I know I have had quite a lot on my mind. I've been trying to work through the various problems however that hasn't helped how I have felt; it just left me overwhelmed and overtired and, quite frankly, 'zonked'. It's obvious to some people that I wasn't quite right, they could tell by the way I reacted. I didn't quite get the joke; I didn't seem to react to the usual 'cues', or suddenly 'over-reacted' spectacularly when something unpleasant happens.

Had a day off today - therefore I had a moment or two to take stock. I began to realise that I seem to have lost the context to my life.

I watched an episode of QI recently which neatly illustrated an aspect of this. It depicted a shark, swimming towards the camera, with the music from Jaws playing menacingly in the background, What was the scariest part of the whole clip? The close up on the shark's teeth? The anticipation of the approach of the creature? Nope, it was the music. They played the same clip with different music, and it wasn't the same...

And that's been me. The music hasn't been right. Do you know, I used to wish that I could say my life sounded like this at the moment. But it doesn't.  (and I'm not sure I could take too much of that sort of soundtrack either!)

I have been yearning and yearning to make some drastic changes in my life.

However, I now know that's not in fact what I want. What I need is to get my life back into context.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without fault and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

I've tried to lean too much on my own knowledge and understanding to deal with the issues in my life. And it didn't work. I need God's wisdom in my life. However, I also need to get God's discernment in my life, so I can tell the difference between the wisdom of God and the whispers of the enemy. Both are evident in my life at the moment. I need to tell them apart! It's so hard... I can't tell if people are trying to help me or to lead me astray...

I wrote a little while ago about Rhema, and the little light that suddenly came on in my life. To be honest, it's that little light that is the only thing keeping me going at the moment. That was God's voice, I know that for sure. Everything else is in doubt.

Dear Lord, times are really hard right now.  I really need to hear Your voice. Give me the discernment so I can hear Your voice and Your voice alone. I need Your wisdom. Speak to me in the way You know I will hear You best. Your Will be done, Lord. 

In Jesus Name, I pray. 

20 November 2017

A Light Switched On

I read something today that really changed my outlook on my week. And I'm glad it did.

It's not been a great week for me, to be honest with you. Challenge after challenge, one problem after another. I've carried on regardless, but eventually this rubbish week took its toll on me. I've ended up feeling frustrated, and even bitter about what had happened (and I thought I had dealt with you, Bitterness, my old adversary). I was about as low as I could get. I wasn't exactly thrust into darkness, but life was pretty gloomy...

I sought refuge in prayer, desperately holding one to at least one aspect of my relationship with my Father in Heaven.

And today, it was like a light had switched on.

I was reading a passage about how prayer works, which explained that God speaks to His people in many ways (of course - He's God, and infinitely creative - He can use any of a hundred thousand ways to speak to His people).

Through the Bible, God speaks generally — the Word of God to everyone — and that is what scholars call logos.

He also speaks personally to individuals through His Word, and that’s rhema. God can choose to illuminate certain passages, to show how it can apply to us, or to teach us something new. Point us in the right direction.

And that's when the light switched on. (Click)

Suddenly, all the things I had been listening to today in church started to fit into place, started to make sense to me. I began to come alive again. The light level in the room went up three notches.

Thanks, Lord!

"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth."
John 16:13a (NIVUK)

14 November 2017

Take It Slow

All my friends are heathens, take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don't make any sudden moves
You don't know the half of the abuse...


Why'd you come? You knew you should have stayed
I tried to warn you just to stay away
And now they're outside ready to bust
It looks like you might be one of us...

(from "Heathens" by Twenty One Pilots - written by Tyler Joseph)

7 November 2017

Running With Perseverance

It's hard to simply keep going.

Keep going - when things aren't easy, when for days on end everything seems to be constantly "uphill and against the wind".

I persevere, but I'm afraid it doesn't get any easier. The longer I go, the harder it seems to get! Understandably - because I need to put some effort into it if my life is to be faithful, to be worthwhile. I understand that what I am undertaking is a marathon rather than a sprint. I need to run with endurance, as well as perseverance.

I've tried to rid myself of all of the things that hinder... have I forgotten to ditch something?

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hmmm. "Grow weary and lose heart". Yes, that's the problem. It's too easy for me to lose heart if I lose my focus on the reason why I am running. I need to fix my eyes, not on what I am doing, but who I am doing it for....

I must also run "the race marked out" for me. Not the race I want to run. But the one I'm instructed to run.

3 November 2017

Not Forgotten

Ever had one of those days?

Your prayers seem to go unanswered?
Bad things happen, unexpectedly?
Things just don't happen the way you want it to?
And you feel helpless. Isolated, alone, on your own, adrift in a sea of troubles.

Yeah, been there. Even today...

Nevertheless, the truth is:

God has not forgotten you.

He’s right alongside you. He’s with you every step of the way.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

He's right there. Call on Him. Talk to Him about how you feel.

You aren't on your own. You're not forgotten.

15 October 2017

Nothing is impossible with God...

With God there is always hope, no matter how bad things look. You've heard it before - nothing is impossible with God.

It might defy logic, but there are so many around who have proven it to be true. Whatever struggles you or I are facing at the moment, however difficult life looks, however impossible the situation seems, God loves us to bits - and wants to help.

Matthew 19:25-26 (MSG)
The disciples were staggered. “Then who has any chance at all?”
Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”

7 October 2017

Vulcan Hello, Irish Goodbye

This week has been a week of learning new ways of saying 'hello' and 'goodbye'...

It started last weekend with a binge watching session to catch up with the latest Star Trek series, Discovery, which is now available to watch on Netflix in the UK. And, I have found it to be pretty good so far! Well worth a watch, and definitely full of nice little plot points and pieces of character development to please a long time Trek fan such as myself. And it has also introduced me to the concept of the Vulcan Hello.... (the title of the first episode) ... I won't give any surprises away - however, I'm sure that the reasoning behind such a greeting is logical... or will be by the end of the series ...

And later on that week, thanks to a podcast, I have been taught a whole new way to say goodbye. Ever think of what is worse than going to a party that you didn't really want to be at? It is trying to find the right time to get up and leave that party... remembering to politely say your goodbyes. I think we've all been there. Ugh

I was intrigued this week to hear about something called the Irish Goodbye... referring to leaving a social gathering without saying your farewells. Just slipping out the back way, as you won't be noticed in the crowd... Apparently, the phrase stems from the Irish predilection for extreme hospitality (oh go on, go on, go on... Father Ted reference) and the resultant, tremendous difficulty in getting away from an Irish get-togethers. It's far, far easier to slip away unnoticed...

Yes, I know what you're thinking. How rude to leave without saying goodbye! And there's the problem. Many of us are far too polite to simply walk out without saying thank you. Even if you said thank you when accepting the invite, and once again, when coming in the door in the first place, you have to say it again on the way out... Probably why an Irish Goodbye is so frowned upon. And yet, the practice is now so popular, there's even a term for it. And it's not as if you didn't bother turning up at all, is it...

If you are a slave to etiquette, you simply have to say something. The Emily Post Institute (which advises readers of its website about the correct way to do things) advises that party guests should... "make sure to say goodbye and thank you to each of your hosts... If they're not by the door, seek them out and thank them personally before you go."

I wonder if I could get away with an Irish Goodbye more often...

25 September 2017

So, What Happens Now?

So what happens now?
(Another suitcase in another hall)
So what happens now?
(Take your picture off another wall)
Where am I going to?
(You'll get by, you always have before)
Where am I going to?
(lyrics from "Another Suitcase In Another Hall", written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber)

This track from the classic musical Evita features a character who wonders about her uncertain future, eventually convincing herself - or at least telling herself - that she will be fine. The song was first released as a single by Barbara Dickson, a singer who is a particular favourite of mine.

I think that we all go through times of uncertainty, don't we? Times when we sit down and wonder, "so, what happens now?" More often than not, we don't get a suitable answer... only loads more questions...

All we can do is live one day at a time.

I can try and plan for tomorrow, however I can't actually live it out until that day arrives. No one can, I remember that John Lennon once wrote, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
Matthew 6:34 (MSG).

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

17 September 2017

Got Any Rivers?

Got any rivers
You think are uncrossable?
Got any mountains
You can't tunnel through?
God specialises in
Things thought impossible
And He does the things
That others cannot do.
(lyrics: Oscar C. Eliason)

15 September 2017

Nothing Can Get Between Us And God’s Love

Romans 8:31-39 (The Message)
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

8 September 2017

Doing good or doing well...

"You finished second grade
I hope you can tell
If you're doing good or doing well..."
(lyrics from 'Word Crimes' by Weird Al Yankovic)

Inspiration for this post started from a discussion that I had with my daughter the other night, whilst I was driving her down to the shops. We're both Weird Al fans, and when I mentioned about ensuring her motives were right as she starts out to secure employment, the above lyrics popped into my head... we chuckled together as we chatted about this!

And that started me off thinking about my own motives, as well as hers. It was such a good topic that it ended up as part of this post!

Am I doing good ... performing good deeds, helping others, striving to make this world a better place...

Or doing well ... in good health, meeting my personal goals, prospering?

I'd like to think I'm trying for both. And I want to encourage my family to do the same.

Do good, and do well!

"So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith."
Galatians 6:9-10 - The Message

29 August 2017

Do I Believe In Prayer?

I was introduced to the ministry of George Müller yesterday. His life story really challenged me.

Here was a man whose faith in God and absolute belief in the power of prayer literally changed the lives of thousands of people.

Attached is a link to a Wikipedia page about the man, right here. Read about the details of his life. There's plenty of other websites about his work, if what you read interests you. I think it will!

"If you believe indeed in the Lord Jesus for the salvation of your soul, if you walk uprightly and do not regard iniquity in your heart, if you continue to wait patiently, and believingly upon God; then answers will surely be given to your prayers." - George Müller

26 August 2017

Z is for Zodiac

The stars are awesome things - they tell us so much about God’s power and His infinite abilities. However, can we divine the future from the movement of these stars? Those people who studied the skies many years ago certainly thought so, and that's how astronomy and astrology developed.

No, I don't believe in astrology, in what people can see in the Zodiac. I do believe in the stars. We can and do use these stars to keep track of time and place. They constantly remind us of God, the Creator of these heavens.

I am assured that our wisdom comes from God, not from the stars (James 1:5).

Daniel answered the king and said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these...
Daniel 2 27-28 (ESV)

25 August 2017

Y is for Yes

In whatever situation we find ourselves, God expects His children to be straight-forward with their words or actions. We aren't supposed to be 'grey', 'wishy-washy' or 'lukewarm' in what we do or say.

We are supposed to be people who speak plainly and truthfully, a straight-forward answer to a straight-forward question. And we are supposed to act in the same way.

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
Matthew 5:37 (ESV)

24 August 2017

X is for Excuses

“Don’t give in to excuses that can keep you from really living the best life God has for you.”
Joyce Meyer

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, ‘Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.’
Jesus replied: ‘A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, “Come, for everything is now ready.”
But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, “I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.”
Another said, “I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.”
Still another said, “I have just got married, so I can’t come.”
Luke 14:15-20

23 August 2017

W is for Walking (with God)

When you walk with someone, obviously you're not going in the opposite direction.

So, when you walk with your Lord, your will is going to align with His will.

"Those who walk with God, always reach their destination."
Henry Ford

Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him.
Deuteronomy 8:6 (NIV)

22 August 2017

V is for Victory

For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.
Deuteronomy 20:4 (NIV)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (NIV)

21 August 2017

U is for Ungrateful

Why are some people so discontent nowadays?

They seem to relish complaining about things. If they get something, it's rarely exactly what they want and they moan about it. They don't seem to see that there are others around us who have nothing.... there's simply no sense of gratitude for anything they possess. Whether this came from man or God...

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3 1-5

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?


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."