Love already won.

A number of years ago I came to the conclusion about all songs. Yes, all songs. I was a teenager when I made this claim so of course I knew everything there was to know about everything! (written in the most sarcastic tone possible.) I came to the conclusion that every song that was ever written has one theme…Love. Either the song is about loving something, somewhere or someone OR it is about not loving something, somewhere or someone. Go through your iTunes library and see if you agree-it may take a while to find the connection but if you look hard enough (and clutch enough straws) you’ll find it haha!

Love holds the world together.

Love has the ability to change a life. A situation. A nation.

This week everyone has been talking about love way more than usual. The world has been shouting ‘finally love has won’, twitter has had #lovewins trending worldwide and people feel like they’ve been given the freedom to live their life as a reflection of their love towards others.

This post is not written to enter into discussion about the law change in the States. I think we can all agree that the last thing the internet needs is another blog about the decision. This law impacts the lives of many people from many different backgrounds, beliefs and circumstances – as much as we would like to tar everyone with the same brush, we cannot. However there is one thing that is the same for every person on the face of the planet…

We all want to be loved.

Over the noise of the media, activists, protesters, news reports and tweets there is another voice speaking. This voice is not speaking to one particular group… He is speaking to everyone.

It’s the voice of love Himself, Jesus, saying;

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – John 15:13

You see love didn’t win a couple of days ago when this law change came. Love won 2000 years ago when Jesus died upon the cross to pay the price for our sin, a price that none of us could pay. He willfully laid down His life so that each of us may receive incredible grace, forgiveness and freedom! 

Friends, I want you to know that you are fully known…yet fully loved!

Think about that for a moment – you are fully known. God knows every little thing about you;O Lord, you have searched me and you know me…you perceive my thoughts from afar…you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.’ [Psalm 139] 

God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows me better than I know myself. It’s easy to make ourselves look good from the outside but God sees our heart.

As much as I try to hide it I know that God sees me being grumpy when things don’t go my way, he hears the thoughts I think when someone treats me unfairly, he knows the truth whenever I tell a lie, he hears the sigh whenever something or someone inconveniences me, he listens to me rant about something that has went wrong even when He was the one who told me not to do it. Nothing is hidden from Him.

Being fully known would terrify most people-we live in a society were being vulnerable is the last thing you should ever do because the moment you let your guard down someone will hurt you.

Not with God.

He does something different.

We are fully known before a Holy God yet we are fully loved. He doesn’t see our brokenness, sinfulness and filth and run away. He sees our sin yet loves us. Please don’t hear me wrong, He does not like your sin nor can He tolerate it but He chooses to love you despite your sin. His love for a sinful people is shown by sending Jesus as a way for us to be reconciled back to God. Sin has broken our relationship with God but the death of Jesus has restored it. Sin offers us no hope of eternal life in Heaven but the resurrection of Jesus confirms a secure eternal life in Heaven. Rules and religion are not birthed out of love, they serve as behavior modification without life-transforming power – but a relationship with Jesus changes our hearts and lives forever with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

God’s love for us enters into the messiness of life.

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

Look at the life of Jesus: He spent time with sinners, people who didn’t fit into the social norm, people who were hard to love, people who messed up time and time again. Yet when they spent time with Jesus things started to change. Why? Because Jesus showed them that who the world told them they were did not actually define them. He pointed to a different way a life full of true hope, joy and peace. He used them to do more than they ever dreamed possible. He personified what unconditional love is and because of that people were forever changed.

God’s love changes everything. 

How much you love God plays no role in how much He loves you.

You can cause God to love you more as much as you can cause the sun to rise.

A devotional I use writes; ‘Our need for Jesus is deep, but His love for us is deeper. His love for us is constant, whatever season and state we’re in. He redeems us and refines us because of this great love, not because of what we do.’

You are fully known yet fully loved. 

Maybe like me you sometimes like to know what this love looks like on a day to day basis. Let me tell you about a few things I’ve seen and heard of Jesus doing for people.

  • One night I was sitting at my computer when all of a sudden I felt prompted to call someone. So I did and when they answered they asked why I was calling. I didn’t really have answer but we chatted for a while and it turns out this person was about to overdose on medication but before they did, they said; “Lord, if you want me to live make someone call me.” God’s love is personal to each of us.
  • There was a season in my life were I was finding ministry really difficult and I found a passage of scripture that I held dear to my heart to get me through. This was not one of the classic Bible verses people quote to you. On a day when I was questioning what God was doing in my life a friend text me saying; ‘I hope this makes sense to you but I really felt that the Lord wanted me to text you this verse.’ and would you believe it, it was the very verse I had been clinging on to (and I hadn’t told anyone!) God’s love speaks to us at the right time, in the right way.
  • There was a girl I’d met who was travelling home from an event and she always went home a certain road but this one particular night she felt God tell her to go the longer way home. She could have ignored him and went home her usual way but she chose to listen to Him. When she got home she turned on the news to hear of an explosion that happened during her time coming home. It was on the very route she was going to travel. God’s love guides each of us.

Love did not receive life changing power when the law was changed this week. Love has always held life changing power because the Bible clearly tells us; there is only one definition of love, it is found in 1 John 4:16

God is love.

Love is not what God does, it is who God is.

love

Friends, today let me urge you to embrace this great love God has for you. Don’t just hear about it and walk way from it. God’s great love for you is extended through the person of the Lord Jesus. He calls you to ask for forgiveness of your sin, turn away from it and live your life for Him. It is only then that you find true freedom – the world is offering a cheap alternative to love that will fade away with everything on this earth but the truth of God’s Word and your relationship with Jesus will last for all of eternity.

#lovealreadywon

 

 

 

I like that Jesus did it but I don’t want to

He stands looking right into my eyes with a gun pointed at my head. I am frozen still with fear unable to move. He shouts at me; “If you want to live deny that Jesus is Lord!” I can barely breathe, I am shaking like a leaf but as I open my mouth to speak everything I’ve known of my Lord comes to mind, my heart is filled with peace and I reply; “Jesus Christ is Lord!” 

The rest is a blur.

pixelated_colors_by_tn2209-d566rfb 

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve thought through this scenario. In my mind it’s the ultimate sacrifice I could make for my Lord, my Jesus. The One who gave His all for me. To die for His name’s sake – what a sacrifice!

Now, at the moment in Canada I do not live in fear of that type of persecution for being a Christian. That’s not the type of sacrifice I can make for Jesus and I’m going to hazard a guess at saying that’s not the type of sacrifice you can offer Jesus either.

“Phew!” says us. That would be a pretty big price to pay and if we’re being truly honest we don’t want to give that big a sacrifice.

Over the past year or so I’ve noticed there seems to be a hierarchy in christian circles as to who Jesus calls to sacrifice for His name’s sake. Here’s  few:

  • Missionaries in far off countries… usually we use Africa as an example – Let’s face it…they’re super Christians. They go into lands where no one has heard about Jesus and risk their lives for the sake of the Gospel. They sacrifice a lot – they move countries, leave their family, learn a new language, give up a decent lifestyle, have little medical care and always have to carry around a little orphan child.
  • Pastors – God only calls those who have it all together and are as close to perfect as humanly possible to be Pastors so of course these guys are willing to sacrifice for Jesus’ sake. It’s only right that they sacrifice their family time, rest and sometimes health for the church they serve, they’re getting paid for it.
  • Bible College Students – They are the ‘extra-holy’ onesThey went to college to learn how to pray, read their Bibles and serve; not to mention meet and marry a like minded ‘extra-holy’ one. You see they should live their lives different to other pew people because they’ve got extra letters at the end of their name not to mention a fancy degree!

I hope you giggled reading that list. I legitimately have heard each of those excuses used by ‘normal’ Christians in response to being questioned about how they are living their lives for Christ.

The more I look at the lives of every disciple ever called by God (or ‘to those who became Christians’) in the Bible I see one common thing; 100% sacrifice.

Read Luke 5:1-11 when Jesus called the first disciples to follow him; “…they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”

Luke 5:27-31 Jesus calls Levi and “Levi got up, left everything and followed him.”

I love the story of Saul’s conversion in Acts 9:1-19 Jesus calls him, he has to stop what he’s doing and listen to what Jesus asks him to do. Never once after meeting with Jesus does he go back to his old life – he left his power, status and lifestyle behind in pursuit of Jesus.

Recently God’s been speaking to me about sacrifice. Not the idea of being a Martyr for Christ, however if that day comes I pray I’ll stand firm- but more of a daily sacrifice. He began speaking to me about sacrifice during my Christmas vacation. I went home to Northern Ireland for a couple of weeks after being away for nearly 9 months – for those who don’t know me I’m a real people person. I love being with people, sharing in their lives and being there for them as much as I can. As you can imagine living half way across the world from my family and friends kind of makes that a little bit difficult so catching up with everyone was bliss. But then came the dreaded goodbyes. I hate being ‘that’ girl in the security line but you can’t hold tears in… (funny story: my gate was closing and I was told to use the fast track lane but I hasn’t paid for that privilege so I chanced it and I’m pretty certain the tears stopped the guy asking questions and I got right through! lol)… in that moment when I’d said goodbye to those I love I was convinced that was the greatest sacrifice God had called me to make. How wrong was I.

You see the life of a believer is to be one of constant sacrifice. The art of saying no to self and yes to Jesus.

What did Jesus have to say about this? “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lost it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

What does that look like us for today in 2015?

  • Are we willing to sacrifice those extra minutes in bed in order to spend time seeking God at the start of the day?
  • Are we willing to sacrifice our popularity (even among Christian friends) by taking a stand against something that goes against God’s word?
  • Are we willing to sacrifice that job, relationship or circumstance in order to go where God has called us to or to serve in a ministry he’s called us to?
  • Are we willing to sacrifice that TV show, social media or activity that eats our time away so that we can spend time reading our bibles and praying ?
  • Are we willing to sacrifice that money we would spend of coffee or clothes to give to something God wants us to give to?
  • Are we willing to sacrifice anything hinders our walk with Jesus no matter what the cost?

At the end of our lives we’re going to have to stand before Jesus, the one who died so that we might live – we will have to give an account for our lives; the places we went, words we said or didn’t say, time we wasted, things we watched, listened to or were involved in. I don’t say this to scare you – I say it to encourage you (and me) that we have one life to live for the sake of Jesus.

We are given one life to make a difference for the Kingdom of God – Jesus gave His whole life for us… what are we willing to give Him?!

 

A Christmas Gift Like No Other

[This is a short devotional I shared at our ladies ministry Christmas night last week.]

Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.For no word from God will ever fail.”

 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

gift

Would you willingly receive a gift that brought with it shame, people talking about you behind your back, it had the possibility of shattering all your dreams, your life plans oh, and, legally this gift could have you killed?

I’ve received some pretty horrible Christmas presents but it’s safe to say that’s not the type of Christmas gift any of us would like to receive.

Through human eyes God was offering Mary a gift like this. Mary wasn’t married therefore she should not have been pregnant, if she accepted this gift she was putting everything on the line. She would face people talking about her behind her back, she would bring shame upon Joseph and although the law doesn’t state what should happen if the woman you’re pledge to marry conceives of the Holy Spirit and is pregnant with the Son of God, it does however state that any woman who is found not to be a virgin whilst pledged to marry or after marrying should be stoned to death (Deut 22:20). Looking at the cold hard facts it would seem that if Mary said Yes to this gift she would be giving up everything – her reputation, her relationship, her life.

Yet God’s plan cannot be seen through human eyes. It has to be seen through the eyes of faith. To everyone in that culture Mary would seem unusable, it would appear that God could not use her for any great task. Why? because she was young, poor and the worst of it all she was…female.  But God knew Mary’s heart, he knew she was the girl for the task. He knew she’d be obedient.

I just love Mary’s response to this incredible gift God was giving her; “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.”

Mary was a ‘Yes’ girl.

She was willing to do whatever God asked of her no matter the cost.

She carried that gift of hers for 9 months. Her pregnant tummy was a public symbol of her obedience to God. Some people may have looked at her and thought Joseph was crazy to believe what she told him about the angel etc. Some people may have watched from afar really pondering what Mary had claimed about this baby and others may have believed with all their heart that Mary was carrying the promised Messiah. But the most important thing was that Mary knew she had heard from God and that she was obeying him – no matter what others thought.

What about you? Are you a yes girl? Are you obedient to the tasks God gives you no matter what the cost?

When Jesus was born something incredible happened; the gift that had been given to Mary, the one that she had carried all by herself suddenly became a universal gift. Jesus had been given to us all. Emmanuel means “God with us” not “God is just with Mary”. Unfortunately people think God chose Mary to be Jesus’ mom because she was without sin, she was perfect, she was God-like but the Bible says otherwise; “All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of the Lord” – Romans 3:23 . God chose to use her despite her imperfection.

John 1:14 really captures the moment Jesus was born. The moment Mary’s personal gift became universal; “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen the glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The Message version puts it like this; The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.

Jesus came as a gift to the world with one purpose- to save us! Jesus didn’t stay a little baby, he grew and became a man. You see he had a gift he had to give the world but like all gifts it had to be paid for. Money couldn’t buy this gift, fancy words wouldn’t flatter to avoid payment and this is one gift you couldn’t persuade your other half or family to pay for. It’s only a gift that God can give so it’s only a gift God can pay for. Most gifts are given out of love but this gift is given by love Himself.

Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross and rose from the dead 3 days later showing us that we can have the free gift of salvation. ‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’ – 2 Cor 5:21

That’s the gift Jesus offers you this Christmas – forgiven sin, new life on earth and eternal life in Heaven.

Mary was obedient to God and said ‘Yes’ to carrying the gift he asked her to.

Jesus now offers you a free gift. The question is… will you say ‘yes’ to receiving it?

The Bible even tells us how to receive it: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9

The gift of salvation is not to be kept hidden away and never shown to anyone. In fact, it’s the gift that keeps on giving – you have to share it with others. It’s almost impossible not to.

Mark 16:15 says: “Go into all the world and preach the good news.”  In other words – share your gift! Tell people about the Lord Jesus.

This Christmas God has given you a special gift to carry and share with everyone you meet. Your task may not be as dramatic as Mary’s…in fact I know it won’t be BUT God is still desiring for you to be a ‘Yes’ girl. What is God asking you to do this Christmas? Who is he calling you to speak to? Give your time to? Help? Pray for? Share the love of Jesus with?

Jesus name is Emmanuel “God with us” … Are you ready to share the gift you have been given?

May we all be able to answer like Mary did; “I am the Lord’s servant.”

“Mum, Is Santa Real?”

This post is inspired by my youngest niece and for kids like her who have just learned the ‘truth’ about Christmas.

I remember that awful day. I was walking home from school trying to muster up the courage to ask my mum the question. I really didn’t want to know the answer but knew I needed to find out once and for all. So I came in, sat on the sofa with her and said; “Mum, tell me the truth is Santa real?”  As much as she wanted to carry on the pretense she knew it was game over, she’d been cornered by a 10 year old who wanted the truth. As she told me about who Santa really was, the flying reindeer…or lack of and why my stocking was always filled with very things I needed I realized Christmas would never be the same for me again. It had lost it’s magic. Everything I loved about Christmas was gone. The twinkly lights didn’t hold the same excitement, I no longer had a need to stick a sign in the front garden to remind Santa to stop by my house and I stopped getting those Christmas Eve butterflies. This lasted for years until suddenly Christmas got real.

I thought it’d be fun to write a letter to my 10 year old self to offer some comfort in light of the heartbreaking news I’d just received. 

pen

Dear Laura,

Today’s been a rough day. It feels like a cruel day were you have had to grown-up too soon. I mean, couldn’t they have prolonged it a few more years? Couldn’t they have suggested you heard the kids wrong in the playground? Why did they have to explain everything you thought was magical and special? Don’t blame your parents, they are as saddened as you are that this day has come. The day were all your sense of wonder, excitement and awe ended for Christmas.

You’re now left wondering what Christmas is really all about. You loved writing your letter to Santa weeks in advance. You loved reading ‘It was the night before Christmas’ with your dad on Christmas Eve and then listening for reindeer on the roof. You loved waking up on December 25th to be showered with presents and spend the day playing with every single one. But now. Well, now, none of that excites you because it isn’t real.

I have to write you to tell you about the realness of Christmas. You don’t realize this now but in 5 years time your life is going to change forever! It’s going to so dramatically change that you will not be the same person you are in this moment. You are going to experience what Christmas is really about and trust me, it’s way better than any of the junk that’s breaking your heart right now. You know the way you love to sing Christmas Carols in school and how you get really emotional when you hear the line ‘Oh come let us adore Him’ in one of the songs and you don’t know why?

Laura, you soon meet the One they’re singing about. You meet Jesus Christ, love Himself. You realize His great love for you, the price he paid on the cross for your sin so that you can have a brand new life on earth and a home in heaven. You give your life to Him and in an instant you understand the true meaning behind Christmas. You realize that Christmas is not about buying gifts, eating food or believing in fairy tales. You realize that Christmas is about the greatest invasion of love the world has ever seen. You stop pining after the ‘good old days’ when you believed in Santa and sought out all the things you could get given.

The sense of excitement, awe and wonder that you feel you’ve lost today is restored in all it’s fullness. You now know that no amount of twinkly lights could ever give the peace and comfort that comes from spending time with the God of the universe each day in prayer. You recognize that even if you were to read ‘The night before Christmas’ 2000 times it would never create the same excitement, hope and challenge that God’s Word brings to you every time you read it. And amazingly you realize that you could be surrounded by all the possessions in the world but not one of them would be able to satisfy your soul like being loved by Jesus and belonging to the family of God does.

When you take down your decorations (even at 23 you need to learn there’s a thin line between epic and tacky), stop singing Christmas carols (which you still love to do by the way – you also have a new favorite ‘Oh Holy Night’. It gives you goosebumps every time) and whenever you say your goodbyes to family and friends (surprise! You will live in Canada!) Your faith in Jesus Christ won’t just be a warm feeling that stays for December and leaves after the holidays, He will be a constant, steadfast and real presence in your everyday life 365 days a year. Trust me you will question on a regular basis how you lived your life without Him.

You will make it your life ambition to share the Gospel with anyone who will listen to you. Things will change. You will change. There will be good times and bad times but there is only one thing I need you to know right now. God is so faithful. He will never leave you or disappoint you.

I know you are tempted to cry yourself to sleep tonight because you feel Christmas has lost it’s sparkle. But listen up little one, you are loved. Your journey is just about to begin. Who needs a sparkle when you can have the light of the world living inside of you.

Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

Lots of love,

You in 13 years

p.s. Keep reading those joke books. That knowledge will come in very handy.

oh holy

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel” (which means “God with us”). – Matthew 1:23

This Christmas may we take time to look beyond the tinsel and see the true heart behind Christmas, may we turn off our holiday playlist long enough to hear the voice of God whispering hope and love to a lost and broken world and may use this Christmas as a God given opportunity to make Him known.

The Art of Availability

clock

How many times a day do you look at the clock?

How many times a week do you check your schedule?

How many times a month do you have a slight breakdown with having so much to do and so little time to do it?

This is the 2014 we’ve created. This is the lifestyle we find acceptable to live. This is the culture we’ve designed… busyness, scheduling  and constant trying to finish something so we can start something else.

“It’s so liberating and freeing.” – said no one ever.

This week I’ve been pondering the art of availability. The art of being there for people at any time. The art of saying no to self and our plans and being present in the moment.

I’ve been reflecting on the life of Jesus and how he mixed with people, communicated with them and loved them. I struggle to find a passage in scripture were it says: “Jesus arranged to meet the leper at 11.30am to heal him.” Or “Jesus knew the woman needed to hear words of hope and healing but he was rushing to do something else so scheduled in a time to speak to her when it suited him better.”

Jesus was available. He had time for people. People saw him as approachable.

One of my favorite stories is Mark 10:46-52; Blind Bartimaeus. If you read this passage you’ll see that Jesus, his disciples and a large crowd were all leaving the city. I don’t know if Jesus had somewhere to be but the scripture makes it clear he was leaving Jericho. But something or should I say someone stopped him from leaving so quickly. Bartimaeus was someone who everyone else saw as an inconvenience, not important and not deserving of Jesus’ time. So when he tried to get Jesus attention people told him to be quiet! They were probably thinking who does this guy think he is? Jesus won’t stoop so low as to talk to a blind guy, a beggar, an outcast – He’s hanging out with us today! But Bartimaeus didn’t give up – he shouted even louder! Now remember Jesus was leaving the city- he was with his friends, he had a huge following, he was a busy guy, he had a calling on his life, a job he had to do but check out verse 49 ‘Jesus stopped…’ Jesus had a choice. He could have ignored this guy who was causing a whole scene, he could have carried on chatting with his friends and teaching the crowd or he could speak to Bartimaeus and disrupt the plans of the day. Jesus knew what he was to do. He spent time with him. In that moment of availability Jesus changed Bartimaeus’ life forever. Bartimaeus gains his sight and becomes a follower of Jesus.

As I write this post I wonder how many ‘moments of availability’ God has placed before me and I have ignored because I was too controlled by my timetable, my plans and my selfishness. I wonder how many you have missed?

When people looked at Jesus they saw someone who was willing to enter into their pain, difficulties, struggles. They saw someone who was willing to celebrate with them, journey with them and share his life with them.

Friends, what do people see when they see us? Can they rely on our availability? Can they share their heart with us and they know we will give them our full attention? In a moment of crisis do they feel like they can call us and we will be there? If God tells us to speak to someone, do something or go somewhere that is contradictory to our own plans are we willing to be obedient?

There is no such thing as wasted time when God is involved. Being obedient to God will never cause us to think ‘Oh that time could have been much better spent doing such and such…’ Let’s shake up the culture we’re living in by actually living in the moment.

One moment of availability could change someone’s life forever. 

Lord, as we go about our day help us be available to the people you have placed in our lives. May we never ignore a moment you have given us to point someone to you, to build someone up or to be used in any way you desire. Make us question our commitments in light of the call you have placed on our lives. In Jesus name we pray, amen. 

We were made to be creative.

In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth… Genesis 1:1 

We worship a creative God. One who knows how to take nothing and turn it into something beautiful. Don’t believe me? Have a wee look at some of these photos I’ve taken recently…

lake 2 lake leaf

We are made in the image and likeness of God. So if He’s creative…guess what? That means we’re creative.

Psalm 139:13-14 says; ‘For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.’

God has made you to be you. Don’t hide your creativity… use it to bring glory and honor to the Lord.

If you sing, sing loudly.

If you can draw, draw your heart felt response to God.

If you can dance, dance to the glory of God.

If you can write, start typing… or handwriting (do people still do that?! :P)

If you can bake, rejoice in the Lord as you create tastiness.

If you can build, build in response to who God is.

If you sow, knit or cross-stitch, do it with a happy heart.

If you make music, use it to point others to Jesus.

If you are sporty, play hard and play fair.

If you take photos, use it as a way to explore God’s creativity.

If you do something I haven’t listed, good for you! Get creative, use it as praise and help show the world who the Creator is.

YouTube Preview Image

This world would be boring if we were all the same. God is not a boring God. His creativity knows no end. Pursue Him through your own creativity.

Another sleepless night

Another night of not being able to sleep. You toss and turn but no matter how fast the motion you can’t turn quick enough to make the thoughts fly out of your mind. They’re still there. Each thought, memory and picture becoming more and more vivid. You don’t want to remember anymore, you don’t want to think about the choices you have made, you can’t handle another night closing your eyes only to be reminded of what you so desperately want to forget or escape. You ask yourself; “Why won’t this pain stop? Haven’t I cried enough tears? Am I still not over this?”

The night seems long and lonely, in fact you’ve grown to fear having to go to sleep because it’s not restful and relaxing, it’s painful and difficult. It feels like you’re the only person awake. There is no one to talk to. No where to turn.

Yet if you stop and pause for a moment you will hear the night owls going about their business, if you look up at the sky you will see the moon shining to give light to the world with his little stars as helpers and if you step outside your front door you will feel a gentle breeze causing the trees to bend and move in all directions. Oh precious one, you are not alone. The same God who causes the owls to cry out praise to Him, and tells the moon when to rise and set, the same God who has the power to speak to the wind and it obeys; He is near. He is near to you. 

You are never unnoticed. You are never overlooked. You are constantly being loved by the God who sent His one and only Son to come and die in your place. Those questions you’re fighting, those thoughts that are consuming you, that situation that is engulfing you is nothing in comparison to the love God has for you.

Jesus is calling you today; “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 28:11) Don’t you want that rest?

You haven’t strayed too far from Him to not be welcomed back. He is waiting for you with outstretched arms.

Your sin isn’t so bad that you can never be forgiven. Jesus has paid the price. He wants to forgive you and set you free.

You don’t need to ‘get yourself together’ or ‘fix your brokenness’ before you start speaking to God again. He specializes in transforming broken lives into people who are made in the likeness of the wonderful Lord Jesus.

Friend, won’t you come to Him and find everything you’ve been looking for and more? Won’t you have your sins forgiven and experience true peace and joy? Won’t you trust in a love that will never fail? Won’t you give your life to the One who gave His all for you? 

God is near. He is calling you. This is what you’ve been longing for.

“Lord, now is not convenient…”

The sound of my alarm goes off sounding like an old school air raid. It can’t be morning already, can it?  It feels like it was only 20 minutes ago since I thanked the Lord for my day and closed my eyes to sleep. If only I could get 5 more minutes sleep then I would be ready to face the world… Who am I trying to kid? This is summer, there is no time for an extra 5 minutes in bed. So I jump up, get ready and check the clock. I really should be downstairs eating breakfast right now and in about 5 minutes I should be in the car travelling to vacation bible school. Instead I drop to my knees beside my bed, open my Bible and begin to read; the words grip my heart, they seem to hug my very soul and lovingly whisper the words of hope I need to hear; “You’re not doing this alone.” . I close my eyes and focus my heart Heavenward, I begin speaking to my Father; “God I come before You this morning with nothing left to give. I come knowing that Your strength is made perfect in my weakness. Fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit and use me today to bring glory to Your name. Lord, do the work that only You can do. Thank you, in Jesus’ name.” I arose knowing that no matter what came my way that day I was not alone. I knew God was with me. I started that day with expectancy. I started it with my heart focused Heavenward and a willingness to do whatever God asked me to do.

As week 8 of summer work starts tomorrow I look back on the many, many mornings (and evenings) that I laid everything down and surrendered my weakness to God. I can say with all my heart that God gives His strength and grace  for every moment. I rejoice in seeing how God has moved this summer, not because of who I am but because of who He is.

“All life-changing love is inconvenient” – Tim Keller

I came across this quote the other day and it stopped me in my tracks. All life changing love is inconvenient. It’s not easy. It’s not without sacrifice. It rarely suits your timetable. But it is life changing! There is no other life-changing love but the person of Jesus Christ so let’s not read that previous quote as; “All types of doing good is inconvenient.” We are talking straight up, using our words, sharing the Gospel of Jesus type of love!

When was the last time you were inconvenienced because you were sharing the Gospel of Jesus?  So often in our lives we set apart time to share the Gospel with people e.g. church outreach events, one night a week evangelism in our town, organised church programs or short term mission trips. These things are great, please don’t hear me wrong but I often wonder if by solely classing that as our ‘evangelism’ time do we hinder our ability to obey the Lord’s leading in our day to day lives?

God has taught me a lot this summer about being completely surrendered to Him, to His leading and guiding. How has He done this? Inconveniently. God has called me to share the Gospel with people or counsel them when I feel like I have nothing left to give. When I’m tired, busy, hungry or feeling unwell. In fact I don’t recall a time at all where He called me to share Jesus with someone when I felt prepared. He calls us in those moments to lean on Him, trust Him and listen to Him because after all he says; “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

In those moments God has broken in, revealed Himself to individuals and they’ve given their lives over to Him. Not because of who I am but because of who He is.

It’s time to desire being inconvenienced. It’s time we lived our lives with expectancy that the Lord will use us. Yes, even in our brokenness. There is always someone waiting to hear about Jesus. There is always an opportunity for you to tell them.

Are we ready to lay down our wants, feelings or fear for the cost of someone else’s soul? 

In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have… 1 Peter 3:15

 

“Yea, yea I’ve heard the Gospel.”

I write this post from a deeply troubled heart. I write this from spending time with people who would call themselves Christians. I write this from an experience this weekend that caused me to really question where my generation is at with their dedication and love of Jesus. I write this knowing my own flaws and failures.

Have we graduated from the Gospel? Does the message of Jesus no longer move our very soul to long for Him more and serve Him with all that we have?

This weekend I attended my favorite church near where my brother lives; the reason I enjoy it so much is not because they have an awesome worship band (which they do) or because it’s got all the newest technology and sound systems going (which it does), it’s because the Pastor preaches with such a heart for the Lord and heart for His people. His devotion to God is evident, it’s infectious, it’s Holy Spirit filled.

The sermon was on Isaiah 53 [I know when I’m reading blogs I usually skim over the scripture but please take time to read this and meditate upon it.]

Isaiah 53

53 Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

This is our Jesus. This is what he came to do. This is the price he paid for us. This is the Gospel. This is the reason we as Christians have life.

The sermon went on to describe in detail the things Jesus went through in our place, the rejection he received, the pain he suffered and the death he endured so that we wouldn’t have to. Why? Because God loves us!

Some sort of light caught my eye during the climax of the sermon, it was the girl next to me (mid-twenties)…sitting on her phone checking Facebook. I was dumbfounded. Tempted to think a cynical thought I ended up opting for “Oh, she’s probably not a Christian and is not enjoying this.” In that moment, I seemed to justify her actions. But then we shared communion and it was made clear from the front that only if you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior were you to take communion. She took communion. So for arguments sake, I believe she was saved.

I don’t share this story to condemn that girl, to say she’s an awful Christian or to puff up my feathers because ‘I’m such a good Christian I didn’t check my phone during the sermon’ (But I did look at it during the worship…) I share this story because I believe God used it to show me where the majority of my generation is at with him.

Friends, have we heard the Gospel so many times that it now means nothing to us? Have we reached a stage in our Christian journey where we’ve moved on to deeper, more theological and mind boggling things to meditate, discuss and be interested in? Does the death of Jesus mean nothing to us?

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I’m going to be bold and share something I’ve seen in my generation… oh, can I take a moment to note why I keep talking about my generation; we are the one’s who will be leading, serving and worshiping in churches in 50-60 years from now. I know from spending time with the older generation that the decisions they made, life they lived and opportunities they pursued as 20-something year old Christians molded them into who they are today. You know the people I’m talking about; the pensioners who pray 5-6 hours a day, the older men and women who use their retirement to invest into Kingdom work they were unable to do before, the people who mentor, adopt and love us ‘young ones’ and share their lives so freely with us and dare I say it, the ones who pretty much keep a church/mission running.

So yes, in my generation, our generation I’ve seen one major stronghold on us all. I believe it is the root cause for most of the sins we wrestle with… complacency. We are content to live a boring, mediocre, ‘say a wee prayer every once in a while’ type of life. We live life in such a way that people struggle to see how we’re different apart from the fact we maybe go to church on a Sunday. Our lives aren’t lived for the Glory of God but for the Glory of Self. We say no to God and yes to us. But if anyone asks if we are a Christian we say “Yes, I love Jesus.” Really? Do we really love Jesus?

There are so many gods fighting for our worship and for the most part, winning: technology, social media, career, status, sports, music, films, fashion, money, health, relationships, family. Like all things these can be used and channeled for the Glory of God but they can so easily become idols. They take the place of the One, True, Living God in our lives. We run to them for comfort, peace, rest, hope, love.

When we look at the cross we see the ultimate sacrifice for those whom God loves. Why then are we disobedient when God asks us to sacrifice something for Him? Why do we consider our time better spent watching sport, sitting on Facebook or being with friends instead of reading God’s word, seeking him in prayer and allowing Him to do a deep work in our hearts? Why, as I’m typing and you are reading this are we feeling defensive about how we spend our time or how we best connect with God?

The Answer: We need a fresh revelation of the Gospel, not just today but EVERYDAY!

Jesus says to us; “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

We’re not perfect but by God’s grace we can overcome, persevere and be molded into the likeness of Jesus.

It’s time to shake of complacency, it’s time to study God’s Word daily, it’s time to pray from your heart, it’s time to obey the call God has placed on your life. It may not be ‘Christian Ministry’ but your life as a Christian is a ministry so go be a light!!!!

life

I often ask myself this one question: “Am I living a life worthy of Christ’s death?”

Are you living a life worthy of Christ’s death? 

Do you love him?

The smell of hot chocolate filled the room, the cheesy movie was playing the background, our giggles were keeping everyone else in the house awake but we didn’t care because we were thirteen and this was our sleepover. My mum had this random rule for sleepovers; if someone came to stay over I had to give them my bed and I had to sleep on the floor – looking back it was a pretty cool way to give honour to the person who came to stay. Anyway, I’m getting off track so there we were, me and my friend; buzzing because of all the sugar we’d had and it was around 12ish which when you’re thirteen is pretty late (can you tell I lived a hardcore life?) so naturally all the stories and questions came to light. My friend asked me about this boy I was ‘dating’ and by dating I mean he would cycle me home from school everyday (not on his bike…he would walk me home with his bike and then cycle off once I got to my front door, how sweet!) which back in the day meant you were pretty serious about someone.

She then asked me the ultimate question; “So… do you love him?” which was followed by lots and lots of giggles. I told her I did love him and she began to giggle even more. “No you don’t, are you kidding me? Do you actually love him?” This went on for a wee while until I got pretty upset. Now I don’t know if it’s because we’d just watched Grease or I had been indoctrinated by Disney but I buried my head in the pillow and started to cry (and you thought I was dramatic these days! haha). Why didn’t she believe that I loved him? Did she think I was silly for loving him? 

After some more tears and then some giggles she finally relented and said; “Fine, if you say you him, then you love him!”

This story has been playing a lot on my mind recently. Firstly, it made me laugh at how much I thought I knew about love at thirteen (but in the moment I thought that was love). Secondly, it brought back all the emotions I felt that night when my love for someone was being questioned- boy, does it hurt! But more importantly, thirdly, it made me think about my relationship with Jesus, my love for Him.

Have you ever spent time with someone who is in love? Maybe it’s the teenager who finally has been noticed by the guy she’s liked for months, or the couple who are at the “we’ve finally said ‘I love you’ to each other” stage, or the engaged couple who are counting down the days to their wedding or the married couple who are super excited to announce they’re having a baby. How do you know they are in love?  They talk about the other person, honour them in the choices and decisions they make and they light up when they’re in the presence of that person.

How would you feel if someone questioned your deep genuine love for someone? What if they said your words and actions don’t match? What if they giggled and remarked that the other person doesn’t seem to mean as much to you as you keep on telling people?

What if someone spent time with you, sharing life with you and at the end of it genuinely asked; “Do you love Jesus?” I know my heart would be broken; how can I claim to be a follower of Jesus yet live my life in a way that does not reflect my love for Him?

We are called to be the salt and light of the earth, in other words; we are called to signpost people to Jesus. I’ve been pondering this week how our lives would look if our genuine love for Jesus led us in all things. If we surrendered every aspect of our lives to Him. If we lived to glorify Him and not ourselves.

  • What would our days look like?
  • What would they be filled with?
  • How would we use our free time?
  • What words would we speak?
  • How would we spend our money?
  • What would our relationships look like?
  • What conversations would we have with our friends? family? strangers?
  • What would our social media trail look like?
  • How would we dress?
  • What music would we listen to?
  • What TV shows or movies would we watch?
  • How would we view the Bible?
  • How would we avail of prayer?
  • How would we see people who are lost without Jesus?

Maybe like me, you are looking at this list and feel convicted; “Wow, my love for Jesus is so strong but my love to do things my way sometimes proves even stronger.” Let’s not look at this list as a stick to beat ourselves with but let the Holy Spirit use it to speak deep into our hearts; to remind us of how broken we are, how in need of a Saviour we are and how Jesus enables us to overcome the world through trusting in Him.

Love is to be built upon, nurtured and sought after. It is not a one time, got it all type of thing. It is a continual way of life that causes us to seek after God. How do you get to know a person you love? You spend time with them and in doing so you realise you love them even more.

Friends, the cross was ultimate act of love; Jesus died in your place. The empty tomb was the realisation that nothing is stronger than God’s love. And the forgiven heart is God’s way of enabling us to receive more of his love than we ever deemed possible.

You cannot experience God’s love and walk away unchanged. Church, events and conferences may reveal and enable you to experience God’s love afresh but do not settle there- seek Him daily; chat to Him, listen to Him, read His word, follow His leading, live life out of His love and empowerment.

My desire for us all is that when we meet someone for the first time or when people look at our lives they don’t need to ask the question “Do they love Jesus?” but they begin to question; “How can I love Jesus like this person does?” 

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:16-19