Three Years On

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Although I haven’t written on this blog for well over a year, I have had his date in my mind for several months as the date I should begin to share again. Because this was the date I made the most important, difficult, journey of my life. (Not just because I had a phone call from the police, as I was going in and out of coverage across the Yorkshire countryside side on a busy train carriage, asking for details of a crime I had witnessed earlier that year, and even if I wanted to pick the suspect from a line-up.) It was the day I finally left an abusive marriage

It wasn’t the first time that I had left. And when I was leaving, I didn’t realise it would be for good.

I remember my dad picking me up from Sheffield train station, and telling me I didn’t look good: in the most loving way possible. I remember truths slipping out through tears, as I realised I could never go back. I remember switching off my phone to break all contact. I remember the confusion of making decisions of my own for the first time in years. The freedom of knowing it didn’t matter that if I got it wrong.

But the thing I remember the most was just how close God was then. I would close my eyes and he would be there right in front of me. He was big, and he loved me so much. I have never known this is such a tangible way as I did back then.

And that was the most important thing. If that is where the story ended, if God didn’t do anything else apart from love me, that would be okay. But he did so much more.

He healed me. And he provided for me. In those months and over these last three years he has done so in such detail.

Jobs, finances, friendships and even a new relationship.

Within a couple of weeks of leaving, I was provided with a job in a card shop. That would have been enough, but God had more. I had registered with an agency, to work as a teaching assistant. On the very day I bought my car, I got a phone call from them, offering work a cars journey away.

These were the big things, but God even had the smaller details sorted out as. One day I got the bus over to Doncaster to do my Christmas shopping. I knew I wanted to get something more than I usually would for my parents. As I was walking along the high street I felt drawn to go in to one of the shops. I ignored it. I was on a mission, and it was the kind of shop that looked like even more of a jumble sale than TK Maxx. But the same thing happened as I walked back up the high street. After all, that feeling was one of them God kind of ones, although I wouldn’t normally get them to go into shops. I took a deep breath and went in. Right in the entrance there was a pile of board game. Including the one that my parents had been asking for, which normally retailed at around £40 they were selling is for £7. I had to chuckle on Christmas day when my mum commented on how generous I had been.

God has kept on working out the details for me. I could go on and on. I am now blessed to be working in a church doing a job I was made for as a children and families minister, just up the road from where I grew up. Even moving here I have been provided with an amazing flat, with a balcony (something I had always dreamed of) and two bedrooms, so I have space for friends and family to stay. (hint hint)

I guess what I really want to say is this: Whatever life throws at you, whether it is your fault or not, God can redeem it, and he can use it for good and for his glory. As October is domestic abuse awareness month, I want to make it clear that leaving an abusive relationship will be one of the hardest things you ever do, but it will also be the best. There is so much life after, it does not disqualify you from serving, or new relationships.

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Missing the Point

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I am worried that I have completely missed the point.

Being more worried about how many people are following me… than the one I am called to follow.

Being more concerned with looking good… than doing good, than actually being good.

Putting more effort into the contents of my bank account… than the contents of my heart.

More interested in making people like me… than making disciples.

And, frankly, I am sick of it. I am sick of being so selfish. And what’s even more disturbing that I don’t seem to be alone. This idea of success has seeped into the whole culture of the church.

And no where is this more obvious than in the bizarre world of blogging.

A world of perfect hair and perfect teeth and selling your soul for an extra like; spending our days sat in comfortable homes writing words of “encouragement” instead of getting out there and helping the poor and needy.

Blogging is a nice thing, but maybe, for some of us, it’s the easy option. The safest option, that avoids any real connection, or any real risk.

Blogging is a good thing. It helps me organise my thoughts, and I know it helps other people on some level. But lets not let this, or anything else get in the way of the real Christian work.

The Christian life involves actually getting out there and getting your hands dirty and helping people in the worst kind of need. It involves real community and a shed load of the hard kind of love. It means you will often get hurt. It is not the easy road. But it is the road that we need to take.

When we take this steep and stony road, which probably involves a few dark valleys or, even worse, rickety rope bridges across those dark valleys; a lot of mud and dirt and hurt, but the road that has the most beautiful views. This is the place where we meet Jesus. This is the place where we find adventure.

For many people reading this there might be other good things getting in the way of great things. Maybe the pursuit of education and knowledge; a good career; the idea of the perfect family or the perfect marriage, no matter what the cost.

While, like blogging, these can all be great things, they can become a hinderance if we do not keep them in check. If we do not look beyond our own lives and towards the rugged cross. After all, Jesus didn’t die so we could have a nice comfortable life, he died so that we could have a relationship with him. He calls us to a life of risk and discomfort, but the only kind of life that is really worth living.

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)

Sounds of Freedom 8

IMG_1139Today’s Sounds of Freedom comes from another awesome blogger, Helena Davies of Grace, Lace and Polkadots.

“Thankful” on the NLC Worship CD titled Our God & Our King, describes where I was and where my heart is now. I have written the words to the song in bold throughout this post, I pray you are encouraged by them.

Though I accepted Jesus as my savior in my teens, I would be in my late forties before I realized what grace was about and who grace is! Continue reading

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

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