Sunday, 30 August 2009

Oh it was just one of those mornings!!! I woke up with hair like Medusa, puffy eyes and a spot on my chin...I mean, come on! I'm 35, should my spot days not be long gone??!! So I had to get ready as I was preaching - had my outfit all picked out the night before but had to abandon it as there was no shaving gel left to shave my legs! Really you could french -plait the hairs they were so long! Every other item of clothing had a malfunction...a ripped shirt, a button off my trousers, a Tikka Masala stain that still stubbornly remained even after 50 stain devils...I think I need new clothes!!!
Ended up grabbing a favourite, old faithful shirt and trouser combo, shoved my hair into a sleek (not greasy!) ponytail and put a layer of cover-up on my chin - GOOD TO GO!

I then was approached after preaching by someone who wanted me to know how glamorous I looked...if they only knew!!!!

Saturday, 29 August 2009

So much of my life is spent 'preparing'...for teaching, preaching, guests coming, meetings - you get the idea! Now don't get me wrong, preparing is essential for me...but sometimes I get so caught up in the 'busyness' that I miss the 'purpose' of the preparation - does that make sense?

Ecclesiastes 4:6 - Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.

Wow - what about that for a challenge?! Press the pause button on life today and meditate on that.

That's all I can share this morning - I've too much preparation to do!!! hehe

By the way have you ever been this tired???

Monday, 24 August 2009

If you are a reader of this blog, you will know I'm a real daddy's girl and that my dad is a paraplegic (he has been in a wheelchair since he was 17 years old). He is 54 today! Huge accomplishment considering he was told that he wouldn't survive the week when he was admitted to hospital after being shot in the spine.

As I get older I am more aware of the sacrifices my parents made for me (more details of this in an earlier post 'The child that I am' 7th May). I'm so blessed to have a relationship with my dad where we can talk about anything. We share the same taste in music, art, comedy. He pushed me to make a difference with my life and is always encouraging me to write articles and a book (maybe one day!). He loves to hear my teaching anecdotes and have indepth, intense discussions and debates about how we can change the world. He is one of my greatest cheerleaders yet he is truthful about my weaknesses.

My dad is articulate, witty, strong, loyal, dependable...I just adore him. So I'm taking a moment to thank God for His amazing grace in this man's see him so involved in the life of my daughter is incredibly precious and something I never dreamed could be possible.
I'm celebrating today the life of a great man and cherishing every moment with him.
My mum is totally amazing as well and as I grow older, I'm in awe at the sacrifices she made for me - how incredibly blessed am I to have such brilliant parents!!!

"Parents hold their children's hands a while and their hearts forever"

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Did you know that we are in a war every day? We see the casualties everywhere — people affected by disease, broken relationships and tragedy. Looking around at all the suffering, we may think the battles in hospitals and divorce courts are being lost. But in reality, we’re losing the advanced and more important conflict — the battle in our minds.

Each day our minds are bombarded with a constant stream of nagging thoughts, suspicions, doubts and fears. While any one of these can cause defeat and devastation, we are often plagued by more than one...filling our daily lives with mental combat against an array of aggressors.

Since we fail to identify the battlefield, we also fail to correctly identify our foe. We tend to believe people, money, religion or “the system” are our problems.
A negative mind will prevent you from living a successful Christian life. Thoughts like worry, fear, despair, insecurities, sadness, anger and guilt are “Mind Monsters” – they are negative invaders of the mind.
Remember, the mind is the battlefield for these daily battles.

"Whatever you hold in your mind will tend to occur in your life. If you continue to believe as you have always believed, you will continue to act as you have always acted. If you continue to act as you have always acted, you will continue to get what you have always gotten. If you want different results in your life or your work, all you have to do is change your mind." (Unknown)

2 Corinthians 10:4-5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. In other words, we actively and aggressively guard our minds to keep our minds focused on what is true and right and pure and excellent and edifying. If our mind begins to drift off course – into paths that are false or impure or anxious or vindictive or negative or self-defeating – then we stop – “I’m not going down that path” – and we change the direction of our thoughts. That’s called repentance – changing our mind – redirecting and refocusing our thoughts on what is true and right and pure.

Don’t be passive with your thought life.
1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

The mind is like a garden, which may be cultivated or neglected. An untended garden will grow with and be invaded by unwanted grass and weeds, but if the garden is cultivated, the bad things are weeded out and the good things are nurtured. Recognise any of these weeds?...

• Nobody likes me
• God doesn’t care about me
• I’m a failure
• It’s my fault that my parents got divorced
• I have these vile thoughts because I am a vile person
• God is disgusted with me because of these vile thoughts that enter my mind
• I work so hard to serve God and provide for my family that I’m entitled to a little self -indulgence once in a while
• God doesn’t have my best interests in mind so I need to do what’s right in my own eyes
• This sexual relationship won’t harm anyone and how can it be wrong if we really love each other?
• Our marriage and family problems are all my spouse’s fault
• I cannot trust God to be there for me when I need Him the most
• God wouldn’t have allowed this to happen to me if He really loved me
• Nothing good ever happens to me
• I must get even with that person who hurt me so deeply
• I’m entitled to hold on to my anger and resentment because that person hurt me so deeply
• I’m trapped in a hopeless situation
• I would be better off dead – and so would those I love
• God could never forgive me for what I have done
• I am who I am and will never change

Lies – lies – all lies

Some practical ways forward…

1. Recognize Mind Monsters

Mind Monsters come unannounced into our minds using our reasoning and rationale as their voice. They enter through the same way as knowledge, intelligence and wisdom, but they are the destructive enemies of a healthy, blessed and prosperous life. Not all your thoughts are yours – some are lies planted by the devil. The First Step is to recognize those lies for what they are – they are not just a normal and natural part of your thinking process – they are LIES

a. Recognize the effect of our internal dialogue.
Are we confused, angry, discouraged? Are we judgmental or critical? Do we worry what others think or always assume the worst?

b. Pay attention to our moods.
Feelings come from thoughts and thoughts originate in the mind. Look out for feelings of self-pity, hopelessness, despair and sadness.

c. Pay attention to our conversations.
Mind monsters reveal themselves through our conversations. There’s an interesting characteristic of the devil described in John 8:44, “When he (the devil) lies he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” In our conversations, mind monsters are lies that hold us back, put limits on us, and keep us from living a life of faith.

2. Reject (and Rebuke)Mind Monsters

We cannot have a positive life with a negative mind. Our lives will be defined by the thoughts we accept or reject.

a. Commit to a P4-8 standard for your thoughts.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think on these things.

Just like deleting unwanted e-mails, we can choose to “delete” or not dwell on thoughts that are not noble, admirable or excellent.

b. Set up a border patrol to guard your mind.

Just as our national security protects the borders of our country because we recognize the effects of damage to our nation's security, peace and prosperity, we should protect the borders of our minds. Any old thought is just not good enough, we have to recognize and reject negativity.

3. Replace Mind Monsters

In Jesus’ most famous message ‘the sermon on the mount,’ he had six “you have heard, but I say to you,” points (Matthew 5:21-48). He was telling his listeners that he wanted them to replace the thoughts they acquired from other sources with a better way of thinking. The same is true for us. We need to replace those negative invaders of our mind with new and positive thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

God wants to help us replace an “I can’t help it” mentality with an “I can do all things through Christ” (Philippians 4:13) mentality. He wants us to replace a fearful mind with a sound mind. God wants to help us replace a confused mind with a mind of clarity. He wants us to replace an anxious mind with a mind of peace.

Our minds are like parking lots. Throughout our lifetime, opinions and perspectives have come in and parked in the parking lot of our mind. Recognizing, rejecting, and replacing means we start freeing up the space and park better thoughts in those spaces.

4. Retrain Our Minds

Once we allow our mind to think in a certain way it will automatically, habitually think that way until we retrain it. Like a horse on a racing track that goes down the same path over and over again, our thoughts can cause grooves in our minds with repetitious, instinctive thinking.

The Bible talks about newness, change, and transformation many times.

Romans 12:2
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

We can use our mouths and minds together to retrain our automated thought life. Replace anger, criticism and negativity with positive, thankful thoughts and words.

For example, …
If we keep our minds free of negative emotions like envy, worry, malice, criticism, judgment or self-doubt, we can allow our souls to prosper.

The Next Step…
As you begin to claim your mind back from the enemy (through recognise, reject, replace & retrain), he will not want to give up the place that he has had. You will have to do battle with his lies and confusion.

Your first step is to declare out loud that you will not allow any outside force to do your thinking–no man and no spirit. "If you don’t control your mind, someone else will." ~ John Allston There are spiritual laws that demons must obey. Your power is in the Name of Jesus, the Blood of Jesus, and the Word of God. Ask God to give you discernment of the lies of the devil.

Think about what you are thinking about. As you recognize a lie to your mind, always defend yourself out loud. That means speaking to Satan and the evil forces out loud, binding them in the Name of Jesus, and forbidding them to lie to you and to use your mind.

When you catch a lie to your mind, use this prescription regularly–and you will regain peace, your memory, restful nights, and the ability to concentrate and comprehend.

You are in a battle–you are not alone–for all of God’s people fight this same fight (Ephesians 6:12). Make up your mind not to give up! According to Colossians 3:2, set your mind on things above and keep it set! As you begin this battle, it will seem worse than ever. The reason is that the demonic powers are fighting to keep their place in your mind (and in your thinking).
Remember, regaining your mind is a process. Don’t give up! Continue claiming what belongs to you (your mind and your thinking belong to you), and Jesus will help you overcome.
Second Timothy 1:7 says, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind!”

“Let the mind of the master be the master of your mind.”

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Be still...

Hi Bloggerinas! How are you this fine morning? I'm getting ready to do a huge hike with the dog to clear my head, ready for a packed few days ahead. This is how I recharge and still and know that He is God.

The word translated “be still” comes from the Hebrew term raphah. This word is found in various forms in the Old Testament, with different shades of meaning. It refers to that which is slack, or to let drop, or in some instances, to be disheartened or weak. When used of a person (as opposed to some inanimate object) it often has a negative connotation.

Interestingly, “be weak” is here commanded. This command — “be still” — forces us to think on two things: that we are finite, and that God is infinite. That being the case, we need to drop our hands, go limp, relax, and "chill out" that we may enjoy a calm confidence in Him who gave us his Son.
Spiritual serenity, the psalmist admits, ought to be cultivated in spite of the shaking mountains and agitated waters. This spiritual calm, that God commands, does not come from a lack of troubles; it derives from a steady, deep reflection on the ways God has intervened in history on behalf of His people.

So as your world crumbles around you, the call from Scripture is: don’t flinch in faith in God. Stand still — not because of a self-made confidence, not because you are the most composed person in the face of disaster, not because “you’ve seen it all.” Be still because of what you know about God.

It is “God’s past” that provides calm for “our future.” Know that he is God! Know it, not merely intellectually, but practically, spiritually, and emotionally. He is your God. He is the ruler of kingdoms of this earth and the all-powerful Creator of the Universe.

If you are the last man or woman standing, be still. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth do change” (Psalm 46:1-2).

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Summer is drawing to a close and a new school year beckons. I love it! I love Autumn - the crisp air, the colours of the leaves, the new journals, school stationary, pumpkins, cosy evenings in with a bowl of stew followed by apple crumble and custard, long walks in the park, new winter coats and boots - yes I can safely say it is my favourite season. Say it with me..."autumnal"...don't you just love that word!!!

I guess on so many different levels I'm living in the rhythm of where I am and preparing for my next season. My prayer is that I will be adaptable and ready to seize opportunities when they come my way. I'm discovering more and more that self awareness and the questions you ask yourself are crucial in the process of monitoring your internal momentum - that it's important to enjoy 'now' while repositioning yourself for tomorrow.

So lots of good things ahead - Emily is going into her final year of primary education, I'm teaching P3/4 (which is a first for me as I usually have the older children), great new and fresh leadership training hitting the church, lots of events planned to invite people to, some home improvements, new series of paintings to this space! X

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

At your service!

Good morning or is it goodnight? - I'm not quite sure as I haven't yet been to sleep. As a new school year approaches and a new church season, I find my brain unwilling to switch off at the appropriate times. So what better way is there to spend some brain energy than to write a blog post!

Last night I had a beautiful meeting with one of our worship leaders and senior pastor, while hubby and friends cleaned our church in preparation for weekend events. So afterwards I rewarded my man and child (who had been living it up at the Kids Club) with a hot chocolate at our local bistro (I'm good like that!)

The service we receive at this bistro is always excellent but last night the waitress (one we hadn't met before) was noticeably fantastic. She was so friendly, attentive, warm and made us feel so important. Honestly, it really impacted me! Even Emily said, "Mummy that lady is so beautiful - inside and out!"
So as I drove home (feeling so cared for by a total stranger) it made me think of the impressions I leave with people...praying they feel cared for, loved, cherished...determined to impact the lives of others with a servant heart.

"My servant Caleb thinks differently and follows me completely" (Num 14:24)
Servanthood requires a mental shift. It's about focusing your time and attention on the needs of others. It challenges our selfish nature.
Bill Hybels said, "The toughest part about building a church that is welcoming to seekers, is getting the members to be the workers and funders for a ministry designed with somebody else in mind"

I'm passionate about loving people with demonstration, action, commitment. It's a life-long learning. Real love forgets self. It doesn't count the cost.

So I'm challenged once again this morning to leave the fingerprints of God all over the lives of others...not to appear 'nice' but be truly effective with my love walk.

That's all for now as I feel my eyelids getting heavy so I'm going to sneak back to bed for a snooze...night, night ya all!!!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

From a Greek prison cell, the apostle Paul wrote, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation" (Phil4:12) It's not what happens to you or what goes on around you that ultimately shapes your character and state of being. It's how you choose to respond to it. Things or people around you may be frustrating, but is your response to it more stressful or less stressful for you?

Here are a few of the ways we can make life more stressful for ourselves...

*Regularly complain about circumstances. Make a decision to stop complaining. Find a solution or accept the situation as is. In fact, my church is going to go through a 'Complaint-Free' programme. We see how destructive complaining is and are determined to fight the habit.

*Always expect the worst in people. Instead why don't we commit to a P4-8 standard for our thoughts.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think on these things.

*Blame others for your unhappiness. This gives us an excuse not to take responsibility for our own happiness. Don't give your power away to others.

*Feel sorry for yourself. "Why me?" The truth is, everyone has to deal with something. Ask, "What's the lesson here? How can I come out of this better?" Choose to allow circumstances to strengthen your faith rather than diminish it.

I think a major key is to respond rather than react. A reaction is automatic. It doesn't require thought and is generated by external happenings. A response is inspired - generated internally by thought, contemplation and prayer. It means that despite the external, you choose to answer button-pushing situations in a way that honours your desire for peace in your life.
Your decision to change doesn't mean that others aren't accountable for their words and actions. It simply means that your happiness and peace are not determined by what they do.

My challenge is to choose joy despite what happens around us.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Sometimes you just need to look at things from a different perspective!

Chilling out

My daughter Emily keeping me on my toes!

The boys having fun!

My sister-in-law and I (also a Nicola but without the 'h')

The dog and I enjoying a stroll

I'm just back from a few days at Benone beach with David, Emily and my sister-in-law and my nephews - and of course the dog! It was so relaxing. I got up really early this morning (after conking out at 10pm!!! I know, everyone was disgusted with me!) and took the dog onto the beach. We were the only ones there - it was beautiful! As I stood and looked out at the sea, the words of an Iona song kept playing in my head - 'Beyond These Shores' was largely based on the story of St. Brendan's voyage. Brendan and a company of monks sailed from Ireland in a leather and wood boat in the sixth century to 'the promised land' which many believed to be America. The song was also inspired by Psalm 139.

"Beyond these shores
Into the darkness
Beyond these shores
This boat may sail
And if this is the way
Then there will be
A path across this sea

And if I sail beyond
The farthest ocean
Or lose myself in depths below
Wherever I may go
Your love surrounds me
For you have been before
Beyond these shores"

Such a comfort to me. As I stood alone on that beach, I knew the depth, height and width of an incredible love surrounded me - God Himself - He is love.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Had a really fantastic day yesterday with hubby and daughter - they really know how to loosen me up and help me to chill out! At the driving range I shot a 125!!!! By sheer fluke rather than any skill!!!

So while we were out, driving up the coast, soaking up the sights, I was thinking about church. I've been chatting to God about my strengths and weaknesses as a leader and doing some inward assessing. Church growth and personal change must be intentional rather than leaving it to 'fluke'. You can't fluke good churches, you've got to build them. So I've been praying and planning how to build up our folk at church and how to reach out to our community more effectively.
While I was chatting, I realised that God hadn't got a word in edgeways...I shut up and listened...God said, "Yes that's great Nichola but can I show you something that hindering you?"
I would love to say I shouted "YES LORD SHOW ME!" but it took me a few moments while I prepared my heart..."Ok God, talk to me". God showed me how I was holding on to sentimentality. Now it took me a while to unpack this with God. Excessive or inappropriate emotion...where am I holding on to this? Ahhh, "the way things used to be" - that's where I'm holding sentimental images and ideas - "the good old days".
We have lost alot of folk from our church over the last few years (as most churches do) but without being aware of it, I was lingering after the days when we had a full leadership team, an administrator, a growing pastoral team...and now we're like a new baby church plant. We've got a great group of people who love God but it will take time to build up again. I'm so for it! And yet there was part of me comparing with how we used to do it.
"God I'm so sorry". God then said, "Let go of the relic and embrace the revelation of the NEW".

So that's where I'm at. John the Baptist's advice holds: take an axe and chop at the root of the problem first. That's sincerity, not sentiment. That's "get real," not mushy and gushy.

Time to cross over...

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Here are the 4 weapons I'm using at the moment...

1. Endurance - 'against all odds' attitude.
2. Diligence - constant and persistant effort to accomplish something.
3. Consistency - not unpredictable, constantly the same, no confusion.
4. Determination - settled firm, unflinching, firm decisions, never giving up on God, people, church, dreams, myself etc.

It's a new season, a new chapter and we need to live our lives in renewed, supernatural strength. If we look too much at the way things are, we fail to see what can be. Have you noticed that the people we admire most, those who catch our attention, are the ones who don't stay with the reality they see.

"Some men see things as they are and say why - I dream things that never were and say why not." (George Bernard Shaw)

(Martin Luther King "I have a dream...")

Monday, 3 August 2009

Who Are You Listening To?

Whose voice are you listening to about who you really are? Life is loud. We are constantly challenged to defend and define who we are as we are overloaded with voices that can be competing and confusing.
So I'm listening to God at the moment. I'm listening for His tone, passion, emphasis. Also there's nothing like 'hearing' yourself speaking to yourself (hope that makes know what I mean). Don't always rely on others to have the right word for you...speak life-giving, powerful words to your own soul. It's hard...especially when you want to have a pity party. It takes guts to live free.

"Keep a cool head. stay alert. The devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping" (1Pet5:8 Msg)

Isn't it amazing that we assess ourselves by our intentions but we assess others by their behaviour? In other words we look at ourselves through rose-coloured glasses and examine others with a magnifying glass.

I've alot on my mind at the moment...I've been meditating on this "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength" (Is30:15)

There's a lot I want to shout about at the moment...injustice, deception, manipulation...I'm seeing lives destroyed and crushed by half-truths, destinies aborted for the easy way out, dreams and visions abandoned in search of a more comfortable 'way'. Like I said, I want to shout...but I'm listening to God. I'm taking my cue from Him...I wanna be like Jesus and do what I see the Father doing, regardless of how I 'feel'.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Fight the stigma

Had a really productive day clearing out my was in desperate need of a good sorting. It was becoming like the story of the loaves and fish, the contents seemed to multiply supernaturally!!

Now here's the thing...I have put this chore off for ages. There are clothes in my wardrobe that have strong memories attached to them - my 'skinny' clothes (that my 10 year old daughter can fit into) when I lost lots of weight in the grip of an eating disorder and then there was the host of 'black' clothes that I wore during my depression. I knew that facing them and getting rid of them was another step in my journey of healing...but it was difficult. The memories of depression were especially hard.

As I talk to people who are currently swamped in the black cloud, I sense their embarrassment and shame when they are sharing with me...I pick up on it because that was how I felt. I felt like such a failure...why couldn't I cope with life like everyone else? Why couldn't I just shake it off, pull myself up by my bootlaces and get over it? These weren't just my thoughts, some of my 'friends' voiced these statements to me, reinforcing the belief that I was useless, weak, worthless.

I have to admit...this makes me mad. The truth is depression affects all kinds of people, regardless of race, culture, sex, religion, etc. It knows no boundaries and we are all susceptible to it. It does not matter if one has a strong faith, or a weak faith, depression can strike at anytime. It doesn’t matter if you pray everyday, or pray every once in a while, depression can strike anytime. It doesn’t matter if you go to church, memorize the Bible and do door to door evangelism…yes, depression can strike anytime.

Let me share this quote with you...
"Depression should be treated and can be put into remission through a course of psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy and/or antidepressant medication, supplemented by healthy doses of prayer within a loving Christian community. It is nonsensical to tell a depressed person that if he only read his Bible more or had better quiet times, his depression would surely be lifted. That would be like telling a diabetic that faith alone will regulate her insulin levels. Faith alone gives eternal salvation, but in the meantime, God has given us resources by which to make our temporal existences more palatable. Depression is certainly healed by the grace of God, sometimes directly and miraculously, but more often through the tools of His servants, like pharmacists, therapists, pastors and friends."

I took medication for my depression (under the strict supervision of a wonderful GP) and have come up against criticism for this. It was the 'God' thing for me to do. I believe God has given scientists/doctors/researchers amazing minds to create some medications that can help.
As my dad says, “If someone is diabetic, they are going to take insulin…aren’t they?”
Or, “If you have a heart condition, you are going to the cardiologist, right?”

I'll finish with this quote...“you may have questions about whether Christians should take this or that. You get in that state, I assure you, you will take rat dung.” Pastor Tommy Nelson on his depression

P.S. I do feel so much 'lighter' after getting rid of all that 'stuff'! Time to move on...!!!!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

I just wanted to share this amazing quote that reminds us not to hold on tight to 'our' ideas, insights, discoveries, creativity...There is nothing new under the sun. We all come from the same creative God.

One of my favourite authors is John Eldredge - I have all his books - if you ever need to borrow one.
This is an excerpt from 'The Sacred Romance'...

“There comes a place on our spiritual journey where renewed religious activity is of no use whatsoever. It is the place where God holds out his hand and asks us to give up our lovers* (*mine would be structured timetables, control, discipline, worry etc.) and come and live with him in a much more personal way. We are both drawn to it and fear it. Part of us would rather return to Scripture memorization or Bible study or service - anything that would save us from the unknowns of walking with God.
But if we listen to our heart again, perhaps for the first time in a while, it tells us how weary it is of the familiar and the indulgent.” - The Sacred Romance

One of my favourite songs is "Come Away With Me" by the beautiful Norah Jones - the lyrics speak to me of the heart of God who is fiercely in love with us - who wants us run away with Him ('to' Him and not'from' Him)

"And I want to walk with you
On a cloudy day
In fields where the yellow grass grows knee-high
So won't you try to come?

Come away with me and we'll kiss
On a mountaintop
Come away with me
And I'll never stop loving you"

As you read this post, wherever you are, whoever you are... listen to the invitation to lay down everything that weighs heavy on your shoulders - to let go of disappointments, hurts, confusion, and run free into the strong arms of your rescuer. Look deeply into His sparkling eyes that burn with intense desire for YOU...and just BE with Him today...enjoy His company and listen carefully to His whispers of reassurance and guidance for the future.

Enjoy your creator and let me know how you get just may blow your expectations out of the water!

Love ya XX

Friday, 31 July 2009

My gran

I couldn't blog yesterday due to a number of of them being that it was the 5 year anniversary of my gran's death.

I still miss her so much and was a bit out of sorts about it. She was a huge influence in my life especially when it came to God (she introduced me to Him at an early age with loads of bible stories and prayers). As my dad has been so ill over the years (need to read previous posts for the details) my gran looked after me quite a bit. I had lots of sleepovers at her house, we watched old black & white films while eating enormous slabs of her homemade fruit cake (the best btw, it was like Christmas on a plate!), she loved showing me her old photos and making sure I knew who all my distant relatives were, she was a pillar of the community and was loved by everyone (we couldn't go shopping without scores of people stopping us to speak to her), she totally adored CSI and quite fancied Grissom (pity she didn't see many episodes), she loved God with a passion that left an imprint on my heart, she smelt like roses and her skin was as soft as tissue paper...I really miss her.

I wish she could see Emily growing up and how much she reminds me of her. I wish she was there for me to call and chat to about all the mundane details of my life (she had a gift of reassuring you that God makes everything work together for our good). She was the best cook and baker and her cakes were simply amazing. I wish I had spent more time in her kitchen learning from her.

I'm so glad she is with her Beloved experiencing unspeakable joy!

It's weird but when I saw my mum yesterday, neither of us allowed ourselves to give a voice to our memories of her. I was too choked up and was afraid that once I 'started' I wouldn't be able to stop. I think it's still too painful for my mum. Hopefully we get to a place where we can share our stories of this wonderful woman without fear of going to pieces.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Such a cliché!

My dog is such a cliché! She buries her bones and chases her tail! She doesn't chase cats though - when they wonder in from next door, she licks them. Anyway on the topic of clichés...

A cliché is a "trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse." Clichés are those words and phrases that we say without thinking. As I seek to communicate the reality of God to others I have to be so careful that I don't spew out religious jargon or Christian clichés. I want to connect with people on their level and that means ditching the script and stepping into their story (and pain). I don't want my mouth to be filled with stock phrases. So I urge all Christians everywhere, let's think about what we say to people - some christianese phrases may be so embedded in us that we don't even notice how odd they sound.

Remember that clichéd bedtime prayer you were forced to say as a child? Watch the clip below and see if this rings true with you...

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Today has not been one of my best...for those of you logged on to Facebook, you will already know my embarrassing moment when I was in Tesco after having my mouth numbed at the dentist. I bumped into an old friend and not only did I feel wick at having to speak with a tongue so swollen and fat that it kept flopping out of my mouth, but when I got back to my car, I realised I had drooled down my chin (because I had absolutely no feeling in my chin and right cheek, I didn't notice the river running from my mouth!!!) CRINGE!!!!

These kind of moments seem to pepper my life...I'm a fall artist and have fallen down in the most inappropriate places (middle of a bus, at a funeral, off the platform while preaching at church, in front of my class many, many times - in fact they don't even ask me if I'm ok anymore, it's such a common occurrence!), I'm the one with spinach in my teeth when speaking to someone I want to impress, I have clothing tucked into places it shouldn't be after visiting the bathroom before speaking at a conference...oh my the list could go on and on! (my face is red just remembering!)

Anyway, one good thing today was that when I went into Tesco, the shelves were filled with my very favourite things ever!!!!! Back to school supplies!!!!! I love them all!!!! Not so keen on actually getting back to school but I adore all the products that promote it! Funky notebooks, fruity smelling erasers, multi-coloured paper-clips, fluffy pencil cases, cool lunchboxes....oh I love it! I end up buying loads of stuff for Emily (aka ME!)

I intend to enjoy the last leg of my holidays (especially as David gets off work for 2 weeks on Friday! Yey!) but I might have to nip into a few shops to purchase a stapler or a novelty sharpener....

Monday, 27 July 2009

Hot Gossip

How do you feel about gossip? Harmless fun? Juicy details? Sensational news?

Maybe you don't ever gossip...Let’s begin by defining gossip. What is gossip? Here are a few definitions that I found: (1) Rumour or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature and (2) idle talk, usually about other people's private lives, especially of a disapproving or malicious nature.
Gossip isn’t defined very nicely, is it? It is destructive. Sometimes it is very subtle and hard to recognise.

So, what does God’s word have to say about gossip? The book of Proverbs has some pretty specific things to say about gossip.
Proverbs 11:13 says: “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.”
Proverbs 16:28 says: “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”
Proverbs 20:19 says: “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.”
Proverbs 26:20 says: “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.”
Two different Hebrew words are used in these verses BUT they both mean the same thing – tale tellers. People who specialize in talking about other people’s lives.

The book of Psalms has a lot to say about the tongue as well. The language in the book of Psalms is really interesting - it uses language that typifies a violent scenario. It uses words like daggers, and swords, and poisonous tips, arrows, and death, and destruction, and things like that to describe the tongue. If you get a chance and you have a concordance take the time to look up how the word tongue is used in the book of Psalms – it is very eye opening. The tongue has the power to destroy lives.

As I was thinking about all the various ways that the tongue is described in the bible I began to wonder: “What kind of language would God use today to really explain the destruction that the tongue can bring?” Maybe He would say something like: “The tongue is like a suicide bomber walking into a shopping centre full of thousands of people and innocent children.” We all know the images of destruction that brings. Or maybe, “The tongue can be like a sniper who puts on a silencer and hides himself a safe distance away and then kills from long distance so that their victim never knows what hit them.” The reason that God uses such vivid description in imagery is because, rarely do we think about the destructive path that our tongue leaves behind.

Have people been hurt by your words – by your gossip? Maybe you are the one who’s been charred by someone else’s words, and I want you to know that God loves you so much. He knows how fragile your heart is and He cares about you.

The question we need to ask is: How do we move on from here? We know that the tongue can leave a path of destruction. We know that gossip hurts and maims. How do we change things? How do we raise the bar spiritually? How do we say, “Okay, I am not going to live my life like that anymore,” and, “I want to move forward and I want to change the way I live life.” How do you begin to do that? How do we overcome gossip? Maybe it's as simple as: Stop talking ABOUT people and start talking TO people.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Don’t let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.” I love the last part of that verse. It says, “Building others up according to their needs.” We need to ask the question, “What are this person’s needs?” What is it that is going on in their life right now? What is the hurt? What’s the pain? What’s the joy? What’s the passion? What happened this morning at work before they even got here? What is it that’s going on in their life? And what we need to begin to do is to start asking these questions. And once we know and understand that, then we can intentionally begin to craft our words to speak into their life words that will build them up and not tear them down. Let’s stop talking about people and let’s start talking to people. That is one of the things we can do to start to move forward and say, “I’m going to live my life differently. I’m going to do things different.”

Let me finish by sharing this poem I found on gossip...
My name is Gossip.
I have no respect for justice.
I maim without killing.
I break hearts and ruin lives.
I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.
The more I am quoted the more I am believed.
My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face.
To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become.
I am nobody’s friend.
Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.
I topple governments and wreck marriages.
I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartaches and indigestion. I make innocent people cry in their pillows.
Even my name hisses. I am called Gossip.
I make headlines and headaches.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

I don't beeeelieve it!!! (said in my best Victor Meldrew voice!) My tooth - you know the one that I broke and had terrible trouble with - has now crumbled even further! The temporary filling has given way and the pain is back with a vengeance! So instead of being at my lovely church, I slept the sleep of the dead due to the painkillers I had to take. Thankfully John the dentist is on hand and can fix me sometime soon.

I HATE missing church! Can't wait until David fills me in on all that happened. C.S. Lewis wrote, "Christ works on us in all sorts of ways, but above all, He works on us through each other." We need each other in the body of Christ for our walk. It's in the context of the church that our lives are supposed to be getting prepared for heaven, prepared for eternity. So as I think about the church, I'm thinking about the fact that we cannot function alone without the body of Christ. You are not complete without the other members. You need the spiritual gifts that God has given to others that you don't have. You need the Spiritual nourishment and encouragement and accountability and counsel and insight and practical help and comfort in your life that the rest of the members of the body can supply.

Dwight L. Moody was visiting with a prominent Chicago citizen one cold winter night when the subject of church membership and involvement came up. This man said to Moody, "I think I can be just as good of a Christian outside the church as I can be inside it." The story is told that without saying anything, Moody walked over to the fireplace, and he removed one burning piece of wood and just placed it on the hearth all by itself. Then the two men sat together and watched as the fire went out on that piece of wood; the embers died out.
The fact is you cannot survive. You cannot keep a hot heart and a fervent passion all by yourself.

I need you and you need me X

Saturday, 25 July 2009

No Line On The Horizon

Well I'm back from a few days in Dublin - David and I went to see U2 in concert at Croke Park. Every muscle in my body hurts at the moment due to excessive jumping, head banging, arm waving, shouting, singing, screaming(!) and generally rocking like there was no tomorrow! It was so amazing. Fortunately we got really close to the stage (about 10 rows from the front) and I promise you, at one point Bono looked right into my eyes and winked!!!
They sang all their classics and some new ones - the sound of 80,000 people singing along was incredible.

However, I was unprepared for what a spiritual experience it turned out to be - that was quite unexpected. Sorry I need to give you a little bit of history...David and I have had our hearts trampled over by a number of people (as does happen in life) - people who say one thing and yet do another...I won't say any more, I just wanted you to know that David and I still have some raw, wounded areas in our hearts. Well, we didn't focus on that this weekend (because it was all about U2 and Us - did ya like what I did there???) but obviously God knew we still needed some healing.

It didn't come through one of U2's big hits...Bono and The Edge started an acoustic version of 'Stuck In A Moment' and 80,000 people faded away as the lyrics made a bee-line for my heart. The peace and assurance of God wrapped itself round me like liquid love...

"And if the night runs over
And if the day won't last
And if your way should falter
Along this stony pass

It's just a moment
This time will pass"

I looked at David and he had tears streaming down his face - God had been touching him deeply as well. We wept in the middle of that concert as Bono sang healing words and heaven witnessed another part of our hearts recovered and restored.

So sometimes my past catches up with me like a punch in the gut, nearly winding me...BUT GOD is so for me and my church that He will even use Bono to communicate it...just how awesome is that?!!!!!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Create in me a clean heart

Just a quick blog today as I'm sooo busy - organising my sermon for Sunday morning, cleaning, washing, ironing, packing for child and dog to go to their nanny's for a few days, packing for me and hubby to go to Dublin to see U2, food shopping, picking up poos from the garden (the joys of being a dog lover) AND trying to work in some romantic time for my lovely hubby.
I've been a bit snappy with him lately (sorry that's a huge understatement! I've been impatient, frustrated, naggy) and had to take some time with God this morning to do some inward examining and repenting. Once again God has to remind me that MY way is NOT the ONLY way!!! Sometimes when David and I talk, it gets lost in translation - marriage takes alot of work, but it's so worth it.

So I've been having alot of inner cleansing this morning - it's hard to face up to the ugliness of selfishness - but I want to grow and change, so as much as it's painful, I embrace the light that God is illuminating on those areas of my heart.

Ps 51 is a very passionate Psalm… one where David acknowledges his sin, AND takes full responsibility for his actions. His heart cries out to the tender mercy and loving-kindness of God, as David offers a broken spirit as a sacrifice for his sin. A God honouring life is one of dependence, not one of independence… DEPENDENCE on God is how we were designed to function. Confess any known sin to God daily (1John 1:7-9). The sacrifice you can read here that is desired by God, is that of a clean heart – one that is broken by sin, humbled by His presence, and willing to obey his will.
Whether or not you decide to repent, you simply CANNOT hide sin from God… or simply dismiss it in your life as insignificant. Sin left in the dark will eventually bring rot to your life one way of another… to your bones, to your heart, or to those you love.

Learn from David, how to deal with your own failure, how to go to God… how to deal with those things that the Holy Spirit brings to your attention… (and He will!!!), how to confess, how not to blame others… and how then to walk in the power of forgiveness…free from guilt and shame.

So I'm off Blogger friends, to get stuck in to my 'to do' list. Have a wonderful day X

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

WHAT I’M READING: Blogs, emails, the Bible, Facebook comments, Eyes Wide Open by Jud Wilhite, a CSI style novel.

WHAT I’M WATCHING: The sky...seems I've a better chance of predicting the weather than the forecasters, Prison Break, Lost, Bear Grylls repeats (love that guy!!)

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO: Rain on conservatory roof, washing machine, David snoring, God's whispers, Mia Fieldes, Kim Walker, David Ostby, U2 (only 3 more sleeps until I see them live!!!)

WHAT I’M WEARING: Jammies whenever possible - if I could preach in them I would!

WHAT I’M EATING: Lots of BBQ food when weather is good enough, fresh salads (fruit and veg), cereal (could live on it!), adult ice-cream.

WHAT I’M ENJOYING: Having time to work at church and be there for people - praying for 'strangers' who just walk in (amazing!), making new friends on fb, reading, camping, preparing for sermons, playing with my dog, sending Emily to summer scheme (for her sake of course!)

WHAT I’M SNIFFING: Dog!!!! new bath oil (quite expensive but so worth it!), burnt toast (I always forget about it), David's socks, Roy's dinner for Keith and Linda (that I must be invited to!!!)

Monday, 20 July 2009

100th post!

Yey!!! Imagine that...this is my 100th post! Go me! Apparently it's traditional in Bloggerland to write 100 facts about yourself when you reach your 100th here goes...

ONLY JOKING!!! I don't think I could think of 10 never mind 100 - and who would read that anyway?!!!

So what shall I write on my 100th post? I could tell you all my hopes and dreams?, I did that already. I could give you some background information on my life?...nope, covered that as well. Write about my amazing family and church?...nah, said all that too. My job as a teacher?...check. Being an assistant pastor?...yep done that.

Oh what to write, what to write?...

Well that's easy...the One who takes centre-stage in my life is Jesus. it's so easy to write about Him and how madly in love I am with Him.
My prayer is that I will always attract others to Him...He has the spotlight in my life and I'm His greatest fan. Everyday I take time to remind myself how amazing and powerful His love is. I'm in awe of how He loves me and cares for me. I'm stunned that He welcomes me back with open arms whenever I stray. I'm moved to the core with the love song that He sings over me. He is beautiful. He has captivated my heart and turned my world upside down. He rescued me from myself.

I could go on...but I'm kind of speechless now. The more I look, the bigger He gets. The more I search, the endless the treasure I discover. The deeper I go, deep still calls out to me. What a love affair!!!

If you have the pleasure of knowing Jesus - love Him with everything you are and have, and lead people to Him.

If you are reading this and don't know how incredible Jesus is, He's using this post to show you how much He loves you...will you step out and get to know Him better?...allow Him into the deepest part of your heart and let Him fill every empty space? It will be the best decision you will ever make and I will be your greatest cheerleader!

To those of you who read this blog...Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I never expected it to impact anyone (truthfully, I didn't think anyone would read it!) and I've made amazing new friends through it, and it's strengthened longstanding friendships. Love you X

Friday, 17 July 2009

Would you like a little update on the saga of the broken tooth? Sounds like a good title for a book doesn't it?... tooth seeks healing and restoration but can't seem to help itself from going to those dark, dangerous, sugary dens....sorry, I get a little carried away...must be only-child syndrome. Anywho...the tooth (the easily-laid and naive star of this plot) had to have it's nerve removed (I know, you feel my pain!) and after 4 injections, my jaw is throbbing like a beacon to the world. Hence the reason why I'm in my house on a Friday night while everyone, including my hubby and Em are living it up. But don't worry I'm enjoying the quiet (those of you who know David will get this!) and I've connected with loads of new, wonderful people around the planet via facebook. It certainly opens your eyes to know that there's a big, wide world out there full of God-loving people!

Our church is going through a metamorphosis at the moment - slowly emerging from our hidden state, stretching our wings and learning how to fly. A lot of great events planned for Saturday Nite Live and teaching & training packages are being put in place for September.

Read a great quote recently, from George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), an Anglo-Irish playwright and critic:
"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy."

I love this quote because it reflects our human heart’s longing to be a part of something mighty. This is hard-wired into us, an eternal echo that only feels right when we’re doing what we are created for.
For me, as a Christ-follower, I am participating with a force greater than myself, wrapping myself whole-heartedly into His story of redemption. Plunging into my destiny that was prepared in advance for me to do.
And when I am “thoroughly worn out and… on the scrap heap” (you know what I mean) I want to say, with the apostle Paul that I’ve run a good race. I’ve fought the good fight.

How about you? What is the mighty purpose that you’ve given yourself to?

(P.S. hubby has just arrived home and taken off his I want to throw him in the scrap heap! The aroma is truly out of this world!!!)

Mother Teresa said, “Let’s do something beautiful for God”, and that is really the calling that’s placed on our lives – to learn what’s on the King’s heart and carry out His desires. The risk factor is real and it means facing up to the fears of being rejected, isolated and laughed at when we take a stand for our beliefs. In essence we have to let go of self-preservation - fear of failure, getting it wrong and messing it up. We need to demystify failure – it’s part of our learning process.

What God has got going on in our lives right now is beyond what we have even understood. It’s bigger than we’ve seen, about more people than we’ve known, about places we’ve never been to yet, conversations we’ve never had yet – what God is doing in our lives is far greater in it’s consequence, outcome, result than we’ve ever dreamed of. He’s working in the shadows, behind the scenes preparing, placing and positioning you – you’re empowered to do something you wouldn’t have even thought of.

So often we feel that we can’t do everything and therefore we don’t do anything. The people that God has put into your life are there for a purpose (our significant others) We can press the pause button on our busy lives and intentionally get our minds off ourselves and instead be mindful to be a blessing. What does it mean to be mindful? It means to have your mind full of ways that you can be a blessing – and do it on purpose. There are so many ways we can be good and show kindness to people – a simple phone call, a note written to someone, taking time to listen to someone and showing an interest, a financial blessing, praying with someone, a lift home – one man’s good deed is another man’s miracle. It doesn’t have to take a lot of money, just some creativity and thought. People are starving for somebody, anybody to show them the love of God. You’ll be amazed at how your life will change by simply getting your mind off yourself, your problem, your wants, your needs. Leave your list of ‘I wants’ in God’s hands. Instead, concentrate on being a blessing wherever you go. You’ll be surprised at how many of the ‘I wants’ on your list will be taken care of while you are caring for others. It will help us to not be tight-fisted with our lives but to be open handed “The world of the generous gets larger and larger, the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller” Be generous with your life and your world will open up for you.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

This post is a little heavier than the previous one - it's thought-provoking - so if you're up for that, read on....

In a speech a few years ago, Elie Wiesel observed, "What is indifference? Etymologically, the word means "no difference." A strange and unnatural state in which the lines blur between light and darkness, dusk and dawn, crime and punishment, cruelty and compassion, good and evil. What are its courses and inescapable consequences? Is it a philosophy? Is there a philosophy of indifference conceivable? Can one possibly view indifference as a virtue? Is it necessary at times to practice it simply to keep one's sanity, live normally, enjoy a fine meal and a glass of wine, as the world around us experiences harrowing upheavals? Here's what he says...

"Of course, indifference can be tempting — more than that, seductive. It is so much easier to look away from victims. It is so much easier to avoid such rude interruptions to our work, our dreams, our hopes. It is, after all, awkward, troublesome, to be involved in another person's pain and despair. Yet, for the person who is indifferent, his or her neighbor are of no consequence. And, therefore, their lives are meaningless. Their hidden or even visible anguish is of no interest. Indifference reduces the Other to an abstraction . . .
"Indifference . . . is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Anger can at times be creative. One writes a great poem, a great symphony. One does something special for the sake of humanity because one is angry at the injustice that one witnesses. But indifference is never creative. Even hatred at times may elicit a response. You fight it. You denounce it. You disarm it.
"Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response. Indifference is not a beginning; it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor — never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten. The political prisoner in his cell, the hungry children, the homeless refugees — not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity, we betray our own.
"Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment."

Ponder on these words...what do you think?
Remember, your toughest management challenge is always yourself.
Love you guys X

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

I wanna be a rock star!

"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand--shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16 MSG)

"They drank from the Rock, God's fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ." (1 Cor 10:4 MSG)

Reflect the light of Christ - be a Rock star!

Here's a bit of wisdom for ya - "A man without a smiling face must not open a shop" -Chinese Proverb

Just a light blog for you today - had some dental work and now my tongue is too big for my mouth - hmmmmm, I wonder what God's saying?! ;)

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Less is more

What has happened to me? I'm a city girl and I make no apologies for that. I love my squidgy pillows, my ghds, my laptop, getting dressed up, hot bubble baths...and yet I'm just back from camping, having left all of that behind, and I LOVED it!!! My hubby and daughter want to nominate me for the 'most changed person in the shortest period of time ever' award! They too are stunned at my hippy attitude.

Once I accepted that I was going, I embraced camping with an enthusiasm that would have put Bear Grylls to shame! (who I adore btw!) We had heavy rain for some of the time - and even that didn't dampen my spirits. It's so relaxing being all warm and cosy in your tent with a cappuccino, listening to the sound of the rain.

Here's something I discovered - Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful. Beauty is the essence of God. The whole world is full of his glory (Is 6:3), in the form of beauty. This means that beauty is essential to life. It is essential to the Christian life. Your life must have beauty in it, lots of it.
Drink it in this summer – soak in it, let it heal you, comfort you, draw you to God.

As I sat outside in the evenings and just listened and took it all in, my heart began to quiet and peace settled in my soul. May summer nourish you, free your heart a bit, bring you hope.

P.S. A few other observations...
*Baby wipes cleanse a multitude of sins.
*Even though the minibeasts look like they're on steroids, they won't bother you unless you're running around, screaming like a headless chicken.
*A dog passing wind in a small tent is not pleasant.
*When going into a maze, leave a trail of pebbles.
*Don't forget a pump for your air mattress.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Wild at heart

"Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. Count on it: Everyone who had it in for you will end up out in the cold – real losers. Those who worked against you will end up empty-handed – nothing to show for their lives." (Isaiah 41: 11-12)

Isn't that an incredible promise? I read that this morning and could literally feel God's liquid love pouring all over me.

I'm still pondering on the subject of opening our hearts and homes to others. I remembered a poem I'd read a while ago and thought it would be good to revisit it...

Prayer of Sir Francis Drake

Disturb us, Lord, when We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Challenging isn't it? It hit me right up the side of the head. We tend to want to live in our safe, comfortable boxes - where everything is neat and orderly. Sometimes I live my life like it's a list, ticking off achievements as they happen. It can be clinical at times and it can shut God out. I'm learning to surrender my structures to embrace the wildness of God - where I don't have or need all the answers, where life is risky, unpredictable, exciting. Remember the quote about Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia - "He's not a tame lion but he is good".

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Entertaining Angels

Well guys and gals it looks like Jesus loves me more than anyone else in the whole, wide world! Camping may have to be cancelled due to the heavy rain travelling our way from the Atlantic. We have booked a week of camping in August so I'm doing it anyway - I'm just thankful that I may miss our practice run!

Life in the McClenaghan household has been busy, busy of late. There's loads of exciting happenings going on at church. The youth (Emerge) are growing and invading our hearts with their energy and enthusiasm. Alpha has yielded salvation - so loads of people to reach out to and care for. David and I have always desired that our home would be a refuge for others - we have an open door policy and love it when people call by unexpectedly (sometimes I get caught in my jammies so I have to be dressed very early!!!)

Hospitality is a big deal to God. "Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." (1 Peter 4:9-10) Practicing hospitality isn’t about glittering, glamorous table settings or platters of picture-perfect food; it’s about practicing servanthood right in the middle of your practical Christianity. More important, it’s about loving others through Christ and making people feel special. Romans 12:13 encourages us all to practice hospitality, whether it is our spiritual gift or not. In fact, the Greek word philozenia is actually a combination of two words – philos, meaning “affection” and zenos, meaning “stranger.” While usually translated to mean hospitality, philozenia signifies affection toward strangers. In The Message Bible translation, 1 Peter 4:8-10 says, “Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless – cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you.”

Sometimes we can choose to focus on what we don’t have instead of focusing on sharing the blessings of God. So give it a try. Somewhere along the way, you’ll realize that people are not in your home for the unlimited entertaining budget. Rather, they sense loving kindness and genuine concern. That’s the moment when your home becomes a sanctuary for those God sends your way.

The bottom line is that God can use people like you and me to touch lives. It doesn’t matter if we rent or own a house or an apartment; our homes are an extension of ourselves. When we practice hospitality, we have the opportunity to touch lives in an intimate, personal way. Be bold: God has not only given you the roof over your head, but also will give you the love and wisdom needed to open your home to others.

With a little planning and preparation – and a good measure of prayer – you can be prepared to share your home with friends, neighbours, and even the strangers God may send your way.