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.

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Before I Go Home, I’m Going to Give Him Everything

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I am excited to share this guest post from my sister-in-law Cassie Stanford with you all today.

Before I go home, I’m going to give Him everything.

I find that when I’m going to talk about a topic, I try to give an analogy. For some people, this analogy may bore them senseless, but please bear with me.

I run for fun. I also run because it is challenging, it pushes me physically and mentally. It is suggested that you find some sort of phrase, or saying to get you through those tough, gruelling miles, where it seems like you just can’t go on. My phrase is: Before I go home, I’m going to give Him everything.

I realised during one of my runs, that my phrase could also be applied to every day life. Before I go home, I’m going to give Him everything. Home being heaven. Before I stand face to face with God, I want to give him everything.

Sounds easy in words. Difficult in practice. Let me reassure you that it can be done.

We have a God that is so loving and forgiving, A God that gives us a gift of a fresh new day. He knows our days before we wake, and he knows our hearts before we pray. He knows our struggles.

Within the book of Hebrews it says “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith”. Just prior to this verse we have the cloud of witnesses, those who had hardships but still put their faith in God, they have run their own races.

Maybe you are in a position where you have started your day so badly. Everything is going wrong and you are down about things. God accepts the negative things, and the hard things too. You can start to give him anything from any point in the day and he will be grateful to you.

Maybe you are in so much pain and bed ridden, you won’t be doing much at all in your day, but you can still give what little you have to Him, and He will be grateful.

Maybe your day is going great and you are over flowing with blessings and happiness, He will be grateful for everything you give Him in your good days too.

I try to remind myself to give God everything every single day even when things are hard and I feel like tearing my hair out. I stop. Breathe. And say: Before I go home, I am going to give Him everything.


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Cassie Stanford lives in Worksop with her husband Ed and son Isaac. She likes to run, Mostly after Isaac.

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.

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.

One Step at a Time, at Just the Right Time

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This is my testimony of God’s provision over the last year. I haven’t shared much detail of this with many people apart from close friends and family, but I feel that now is the right time to start to share my story.

Almost a year ago ten months ago I walked out of a marriage which was both controlling and verbally and physically abusive. I spent a lot of time feeling lonely and afraid in those years.

Of course, I felt a great relief walking away from all of that pain. But part of me felt a deep shame. I was the good Christian girl, the one who always went to youth group and read her bible every single night. I had gone to bible college and even worked for a church for a good number of years. I should not be the kind of person to find herself in this kind of situation. Broken, sitting in a solicitors office, trying to work out how exactly to get a divorce, whilst still in her twenties.

How could I possibly bounce back from that one?

But somehow God has bought me through. Through many, many boxes of tissues, he has blessed me abundantly, and continued to surprise me with his provision.

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One step at a time… At just the right time.

When I first left my marriage I felt God telling me that

A few weeks after moving in with my parents I got offered a temporary part time position working for Card Factory. I got a phone call from them, before I even reached home after handing in an application, and less than an hour later I was offered a job. To start a week and a half later, which conveniently gave me enough time to go and visit some friends and family down south. The only problem was that it was as many hours as I would have hoped for.

I needn’t have worried about that though, as one of the other temporary staff never showed up, which meant I got a lot of her hours. That combined with a lot of other unreliable staff, meant I was working full time.

After Christmas I put a down payment on a car. That very afternoon I got a phone call from an agency I had registered with, telling me there was a job working as a teaching assistant in Doncaster… if I had the transport to get there. Of course this was just a temporary role, but it was followed up by many more temporary roles. One step at a time at just the right time, of course.

 

All of these roles gave me all the work I needed, and enough time off to visit friends and family all over the country, and even in Germany. And to do something I had wanted to do for many years, take a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course.

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I could go on to tell you about the time a couple of months ago, when I was tidying up, and found an tax letter. (A P-whatever-it-is, the one you get at the end of the tax year.) Only to discover I had paid several hundred pounds too much tax, two years ago.

I could tell you about taking a care work job, to keep me going over the summer holidays. This was a job I enjoyed, but the company was so disorganised I felt I had no other choice but to quit. The next day I stumbled upon an opportunity to teach English to international volunteers. Something I really felt God wanted me to persue. Two days later I was in Essex, teaching English to the best group of volunteers. Something I would never have imagined happening ten months ago.

This whole journey has been one step at a time, at just the right time. In a lot of ways it has been terrifying, but God has taught me to rely on him whole heartedly, and he has blessed me so much through all of this. Even though ten months ago I felt so unworthy of his love, he has proven that it is so much bigger than I could have imagined.

Even though you, like me, may only have vague ideas about the future, God has great plans for you, if you trust him, one step at a time, at just the right time.

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