What if Twenty Seventeen wasn’t Your Year?

These last couple of days I have noticed a lot of my Facebook friends have been sharing all the good things that have happened for them over the last year. All the things they have achieved, all the hopes fulfilled and new adventures. The kind of posts that social media was made for. The kind of posts that make you ninety percent happy and ten percent jealous. (Or was it the other way round?)

Maybe you are of the generation that still sends and receives Christmas letters full of tales of A-grades and picture perfect children. How can their lives just keep on getting better and better every year, without even the smallest trouble?

What if your twenty seventeen was nothing like that? What if your twenty seventeen was was just average, or a whole lot worse? What if you’re leaving twenty seventeen just as confused as you entered it?

Maybe you are scared to hope that this year will even be just okay.

What I am not going to say right now is that this is a new year, and it will be better. Because it might not be.

I’m not going to tell you that if you have the right attitude, eat the right food and wake up two hours earlier you will achieve everything you wanted to. Because even if this was true, I know it won’t last beyond the first page of a new calendar.

What I am going to tell you is that I am slowly starting to realise that this life is less and less about what we do, what we believe and more and more about be still and Knowing God.

Not just knowing about God, but actually truly knowing him. Life is about running into his arms and bowing at his feet and just being in his presence. And everything else flows from that.

Being a Christian doesn’t safeguard us from trials, it actually guarantees them. But when you Know God, you can find a way through even the hardest times, without becoming hard. You can face hopeless situations with out losing hope. You can be crushed by the pressures of this world but never break. You can be persecuted and abused, but you never forsaken. You can be struck down but never destroyed.

I am sure to a lot of outsiders it looks like I am entering into 2018 in much the same way as I entered 2017. That maybe it is taking me too long to move on from a painful marriage and out of my parents home. I know that some people will be confused by the decisions that I have made, but I can honestly say, for the first time in my adult life, that I know I am right where God wants me to be. My life may not be what I imagined it would be, but that doesn’t matter.

This kind of knowledge doesn’t come from anything other than learning to slow down and dwell in God’s presence.

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A Place to Belong

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“Where are you from?” A question that should be easy to answer. But it isn’t always is it? Do you reply with the place where you live; the place you were born or the place you lived for the longest?

When I walked out of an abusive marriage, I had to move back in with my parents. To a place I had never lived and knew no one. I felt that I really didn’t belong. I had just left my marriage, the one relationship that is supposed to last a lifetime, on top of that, I had to start all over again. Yet again.

I think that many people experience this kind of confusion, whether they have lived in dozens of places, or in the same house their whole life. We are all searching for a sense of belonging, and often struggle to find it.

I think that this is a longing God has put into all of us. And when God puts a longing in our hearts; he loves to fulfil it.

For years I have known that my home is heaven. That one day I will live there, and find my home the in place where I will belong forever. This is a great hope for the future, but what about now? I have (hopefully) many years between now and the day I find myself in heaven.

The great news is, this home isn’t just a promise for the future. It is a promise for right now as well.

I love that throughout the book of Psalms, David refers to God as his home. No matter what troubles he is facing, who is hunting him down, he is able to God his refuge in time of need. He is that same thing for us. You hear soppy couple’s tell each other that their home is where ever the other one is. Well that is true of God as well, and since he is everyone, you cannot escape your home. No matter how far you travel, God is always your home.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Phillipians 3:20)

Notice that this passage doesn’t say that our citizenship will be in heaven, but that is is on heaven. Right now.

You are already a citizen of heaven. You might not live there, yet. But you already have the passport.

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We already have all the rights that come along with being a citizen of heaven, and all the protection as well. We find our identity in this citizenship. We already belong.

No matter how unsettled or lonely you feel you have a home and an identity; you belong.

How to be #Blessed


When, exactly, did the word blessed start appearing all the time? It used to be the kind of word that was the preserve of grannies and rural vicars. Now it seems to be just about everywhere. It’s as if everyone is, or wants to be #blessed. But what exactly does it mean?

As I was thinking about this the other day, I decided to have a little search on Instagram to see what it was people were hashtagging as blessed. And I have to admit, I was kind of surprised by what I found.

It seemed like that particular hashtag was most associated with women with rather large breasts. Probably not what the grannies or rural vicars were referring to. And, unfortunately, leaving me feeling resigned that I most definitely am not blessed!

Of course there were a load of selfies (including a couple of fit men) some pictures of babies and plates full of food, and a whole lot of some what inspiring quotes.

Not exactly what the word blessed brings to mind.

Not exactly what Jesus meant when he said blessed are the poor in spirit in that sermon on the mount.

How have we managed to misunderstand this word so much, that big boobs and hot bodies have become synonymous with the word blessed?

How has this holy, bible word become so distorted.

Blessed is about none of this. Not at all.

How can it be about expensive jewelery when Jesus says that we are blessed when we are poor in spirit, because this is when we realise how much we need him.

How can it be about cute kittens when Jesus says we are blessed when we grieve, because that is when we find comfort.

How can it be abouut posed and edited photos when Jesus says blessed are the humble. He even says that the whole earth will be theirs.

How can it be about plates full of food when Jesus says we are blessed when we hunger and thirst for justice, when we want to do the right thing for people. That is when we will be satisfied.

How can it be about pictures of our latest purchases when Jesus says we are blessed when we are kind, when we show mercy to others, because he will show mercy to us.

How can it be about half-naked bodies when Jesus says we are blessed when we think pure thoughts, because that s when we will see him.

How can it be about clothes which have been made in sweatshops when Jesus says we are blessed when we seek peace, because then we will be called his children.

How can it be about semi-inspirational quotes when Jesus says we are blessed are those who are persecuted for doing the right thing, he even says that the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

How can it be about seeking likes when Jesus says that people will insult us, that they will say evil and hurtful things about us, but even then we are blessed. We can even rejoice in this pain, because the rewards will be waiting for us in heaven.

Being blessed, and getting blessed, has nothing to do with stuff, or hot bodies. In fact, what Jesus tell us is the exact opposite. He tells us we are blessed through what many would consider hardship, because that’s what brings us closer to him.

None of these #blessings are true Blessings, they do not bring us closer to God, they actually turn our eyes away from him they are like a barrier between us and him.

Today I am thankful that I am not #blessed, with a fit body; that would only distract me from what God has planned for me, but that I am truly Blessed by my heavenly father.

 

He Didn’t Have to But He Did

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He didn’t have to wake you up this morning. But he did.

He didn’t have to give you breath. But he did.

He didn’t have to die for you. But he did.

Some times we take these things in life for granted. As if God owes us life. As if he owes us forgiveness.

As. If. He. Owes. Us. Anything.

How self-absorbed? What kind of distorted thinking must we have to think that the God of the universe, the creator of everything, who holds it all in the palm of his hand, actually owes us a single thing.

And yet we go through everyday, acting as if we deserve life, as if we derve forgivenss, as if we deserve any kind of blessing.

How dare we. How can we forget the chasm that exists between us and God. The cost of death that was required to bridge that gap between us and him.

We should be living every single second of every single day filled with wonder that God would even bother to remember our names. Let alone love us. Let alone send his Son to die for us. Because of us.

How dare we forget to scream to the whole world about what God has done for us. When we really didn’t deserve any of it. When a girl will shout about a boy buying her a few cheap flowers that will die in a couple of days. Why are we silent about the God who did so much more for us?

How can we possibly be so preoccupied by the pointless inane things of this world instead of getting down on our knees and worshipping him.

God didn’t have to save you. He doesn’t have to keep on blessing you. But he does. Because of who he is.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

 

 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

4 Reasons Why We Don’t Obey God

 

IMG_1134This morning, as I was waking up, I felt God ask me a question: “If I asked you to build an ark, would you?” If God asked me to do something completely ridiculous would I dare to do it. In that moment, I honestly said… no.

And that one sentence has been bothering me all day.

Although I know that God cares about me, that his plans for me are the best, even though I know that he wouldn’t ask me to do something crazy without a great reason, my first instinct was still to say no. Continue reading

Christian, You are allowed to feel sad

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No matter how often we read the bible, we cannot immunize ourselves against pain and suffering.

It gives us hope, yes. But that hope doesn’t mean that we will never feel sad, it means that we will have the strength to carry on, even when times become hard.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of people paining the Christian life as something which is easy.

It’s not always going to be. There will be times when all you want to do is break down and cry.

When prayers seem to remain unanswered. When those around us are suffering, when we face hardship in our lives.

And do you know what, when these things happen it is okay to break down and cry.

You do not need to put on a brave face. To fake it until you make it. Because God’s heart breaks for all these things as well.

You have permission to feel sad. I am so sorry if you have ever been made to feel as if you are not able If you have ever been made to feel as if you are less of a Christian. That you are only sad because you are not praying hard enough or reading the bible long enough.

Yes we can find hope in knowing that Jesus is near, and that he does hear. But that doesn’t mean that the pain will go away immediately. Yes we do have hope, but that doesn’t mean the pain will go away immediately. Sometimes that can be a really hard thing to cling on to.

Because although you may not be able to find any joy in today , you can hold on tight in the knowledge that this sorrow will one day pass.

So if you need to, let those tears fall. Let them fall for the brokenness around you and for the impossibility of the situations that you face.

Because you cannot do this on your own, the only way that you can get through this is by crying out to Jesus.. He will hold you in his arms. There is no one better to have by your side.

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance. (Ecclesiates 3: 1-4)

The Purpose of Freedom

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The purpose of freedom is to create it for others.

This is the statement that appeared on a sign, just around the corner from where I live, about a week ago.

Hmm, I thought to myself, like any good theology graduate, the first time I read it, I’m not sure how that lines up with what I read in the bible. Then I promptly forgot all about it, until that Sunday evening at church, when we read this verse. Continue reading