When i head to the shops it can be quite easy to spend money on some things yet when it comes to other items or possible purchases i tend to be very careful with my funds.  A while back i began realising that i sometimes go shopping, buy something, then stop afterwards and think, “Did i really need that?”.  As a result i have taken to praying before i go shopping to make sure i don’t purchase unnecessary items.

Although slightly weak when it comes to shopping for non-necessities, i feel strongly about not getting into debt so have made a number decisions in my life to prevent myself entering into the world of borrowing and owing. 

Not being in a position to purchase a house yet i have been reflecting on our world where mortgages are almost a necessity to exist.  I am wary about MORT-GAGEs because the words from which Mortgage stems mean DEATH GRIP! I suppose this form of debt is almost inevitable, but can we avoid this grip of death?  Should Christians avoid this form of debt?  Is that unrealistic?

In the area of finances i need balance.  I can easily go out and spend £20 on a meal, but will i then put £20 or more in the collection at church on Sunday to further the Kingdom of God?  It’s about balance.  My money is a gift from God for me to be a good steward of – how will i use it today?

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Rainbow after the storm

October 30, 2006

Whatever you are going through right now God can turn the situation around.  Hebrews chapter 11 recounts just some of the Biblical characters who through faith had the impossible happen in their lives.

Don’t give up and think there’s no way out of whatever you are experiencing in your life at this present time, whether it’s problems with your finances, your relationship with someone, an issue at work, a struggle with habitual sin etc.  This is not the end of the road.  Satan tries to convince us that the pain and struggle we experience can’t be transformed, and in a way he’s telling the truth – in human strength things can’t be transformed!  However in God’s power and strength He can shine light into your dark situation.  What you’re experiencing now is not the best you can expect… THERE IS MORE!

There’s a rainbow after the storm!

I don’t like conflict, therefore i seek to do all i can to eliminate or prevent it.  The downside to my peace making is a tendency to try and please people, but as we all know it’s not possible to please everyone!

One of the amazing things about having a belief in God and a relationship with Jesus is that i have focus, something to be the motivation for all i do.  Ultimately everything i do should be what i think or know God would have me do.  Therefore, rather than pleasing people i need to please God.

Pleasing people is for a quiet life, for lack of hassle, but being a Christian is about hassle.  If i don’t get hassle for my faith then i’m probably not living it out fully.  We will come up against resistance and difficulty as we seek to go against what alot of people expect.  That can be hard, especially if it’s with close friends or family.

Our hope needs to be our eternal reward of life with LOVE itself, rather than the place void of love.

“Take up your cross and follow me!”

Squeaky tyres

October 28, 2006

Where’s the pit stop to sort out my tyres? I know i have failed to assign a day of rest this weekend and although i will carve out time to be with God and pray, i won’t have any official ‘rest’ time.

So many times i go through a week of work only to fall out the other side of the weekend into another week!

As i type i am in the middle of a hectic weekend.  It is a conference weekend.  You know the ones… Early starts to set up the sound system, registering participants and dishing out badges, long days and lots of service ‘in love’!

Some advice often dished out prior to a conference is the priorities one:

J -esus  O -thers  Y-ourself

If we get our priorities right, by ensuring we pray, serve others, then allowing God to work in us, we should have a perfect formula for JOY all round!

Sundays are supposed to be a ‘day of rest’ but for Christians are often manically crazy!  If you’re not helping with the music at church, then maybe you are helping with Children’s ministry or just sorting your own family and making them be quiet during a sermon, maybe you are preaching or thinking about dishing up a roast meal for some relatives.

Where is the rest i require, the pit stop to change the tyres, or even the space to realise the tyres need changing?  Perhaps we would do well to block out a day a month in our diaries for quiet, for rest, relaxation, no phones ringing, no blogging even (!), and so have no disturbances from this ‘i-can-be-conacted-24hrs-a-day’ culture.

Jump off the planet?

October 27, 2006

Being in the world but not of it, that’s something i was pondering yesterday. 

After 40mins of chatting to a Christian lady who is an actress/singer in West End Muscials in London i got thinking about being a light in the world.  It was amazing to hear how God had opened up the doors for her to be able to witness in an environment of musical theatres where people from Broadway and all over the world come to visit…

At the moment she’s playing the role of a Christian in Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess, and being open about her faith with fellow stars in her workplace has enabled others to ‘come out the woodwork’ and admit to having a faith themselves. She encourages the other believers in the cast not to be ashamed of the Gospel or fearful in this age where we are being encouraged to keep our faith at home & not take it to work. 

Wherever you are today, don’t be ashamed of your identity in Christ – if you don’t laugh at a crude joke made in the office, don’t be ashamed; if you stand up against some gossip, don’t be ashamed; if you don’t want to drink too much when out with friends, don’t be ashamed… be proud of who you are in Christ.  May God give you the courage to go against the flow and be a light wherever He has planted you.

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 1:16)

While skipping in the playground at school aged 8 i was accused of copying some other students who were also skipping with a rope.  I got pushed over, chipped my front tooth in half leaving a perfect upside down moon shape.  

I too have suffered from spates of jealously myself and if i wasn’t careful could let it slowly kill me!  I am competitive and ambitious by nature meaning i like to outdo others.  At school if someone copied my artwork or took my idea i would get annoyed (although i never sought revenge and broke anyone’s teeth!!). 

When i failed to succeed at something others were doing well in i would give up… so upon reaching adult hood i realised i needed to go back to the root of my competitive nature and sort myself out.

Ambition can be both a positive and negative trait – if used for God it can be powerful.  Through reflecting on this God given characteristic i realised that at the core of my childhood behaviour was a desire to be appreciated and admired, essentially to be given attention because that was where i found love – through worldy success.

Having given this whole thing back to God i am now able to accept other people having more ‘successful’ blogs than mine, or other people copying my posts.  I now know that all i do is because of God working in me.

Letting go has been freeing.  Handing over the reigns to God, crushing my pride and seeing myself as equal to others has been amazing.

When things aren’t going well DON’T GIVE UP… some of the greatest people on earth were told they would never make it.  With God all things are possible… even overcoming having your tooth chipped!

(Phil 4:13) “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Break the chains

October 25, 2006

If i hadn’t been forgiven for my wrongdoings i would be in a pit, equally if i fail to forgive those who wrong me then i will be held under the power of that and not be fully free to be me.  Bearing a grudge or storing up a hurt from a past event prevents me from being fully alive, even if it is a justified anguish. 

Ask the Holy Spirit who you need to forgive today.  It’s a choice and can be a very hard one, and even though you may not ‘feel’ liking forgiving, simply pray, ‘Lord, i forgive x for doing y and i pray you release them from punishment for it and release me from the hurt of the situation.  I ask your blessing to come upon x and for Your will to be done in their life. Amen.’ 

You may not feel any differently towards them, but your words will have broken the chains you were being held in by the situation.  It’s a choice, and will start the cycle of journeying to freedom and returning the injustice in this world with love.  For love ‘bears no grudges, and keeps no record of wrong’.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b)

p.s. Up tomorrow – what my broken tooth has to do with jealousy

One of those days

October 24, 2006

I woke to discover i had forgotten to set my alarm.  Consequently I was running 20 mins late.  Zooming to the station in my car was probably not the safest of plans but i did it anyway.  The coins i put in the ticket machine spat back at me, so i quickly scrawled a note to explain that i had tried to pay my car park fee & stuck the message to my windscreen. 

Running from my car to the platform i was stopped in my tracks by a loud siren noise which i soon discovered upon spinning round was the beeping of my car alarm.  Puffing from my manic half hour i ran back to the car to close the door which i had left slightly ajar before embarking on the jog back up the hill again to the platform.  Jumping on the train i wondered what the rest of the day would hold…

Do you ever have ‘one of those days’?  You know, the ones where everything you touch seems to be tough?  One in particular sticks in my mind.  I’d risen before 5am, had a hard day at work, had struggles with a good friend, walked miles to visit a sick relative in ICU, then got back late only to find the garden flooding…

In these situations i have two options – 1.) to despair (cry; get angry) or 2.) to turn to praise.  Essentially i get to choose death or life.  As i cleared away the water from my flooding garden the rain fell down heavily and i chose to sing praises to God out loud even though it would’ve been easy to cry.  Praise in affliction and difficulty confuses the Devil and raises our souls to heaven, releasing a profound and mystical JOY!

“I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” (Deuteronomy 30:15 & 17-19)

In Mr Sheep’s Clothing

October 23, 2006

You are unique and there is no-one else in the world like you.  No-one has the exact experiences and combination of skills you have.  Therefore i can conclude that you are incredibly precious and special, no matter what anyone else may say.

In the world often certain ideals and expectations are held up, and even in the Christian world.  In a church setting a ‘perfect’ person can be portrayed as someone who does certain things in their week or has certain character traits, which can result in congregations seeking to fit into the same mould. 

It’s not bad aspiring to be like good and holy people, but there are too many Oak trees trying to be Beech trees, or Sycamores trying to be Elms.  Every person will live out their faith in a different way so we can’t legitimately expect everyone to be the same.  If most of the women in your church are fantastic on the sewing machine making their own clothes then please don’t feel inadequate if that’s not your thing because God made us all different!

It’s ok to be different… in fact it’s healthy!  I often say that if everyone wanted to preach or everyone wanted to lead worship we’d be in trouble.  We need those women who can sew as much as the women who want to intercede or lead Bible study (the same applies for men, it’s just i’m a woman!). 

I think that if you look to what ‘gives you life’ then you’ll find what God created you for.  God plants desires in our hearts to act as signposts to His will.  If you thrive on talking to people about God, then that’s perhaps an area you can focus on and develop; if you get life from helping others, then look for opportunities to serve.

Just because you’re not like the family who sit in the row in front of you at church don’t think you’re lesser than them, you’re just created differently. 

Try writing down the things that make you excited, the things you’re passionate about, the things you were created to give the world… DON’T LET AGE PREVENT YOU FROM DREAMING!  You’re never too young to dream (countless people mentioned in the Bible were young in years – think of David facing Goliath) and equally you’re never too old (God moved and brought about new things in those in their later years – Abraham!).  Seize the moment now and discover what a gift you are to the world. 

There are things only YOU can bring to this world which no one else ever has been able to or ever will be able to, all due to your unique combination of life experiences, gifts and skills.

Be proud of who you are – unique and special! 

Flush Your Mind

October 22, 2006

In my life there are a number of things i’d like God to show me what to do about right now – basically i want clarity.  If my hotline to God is uncluttered then i can expect a good recption when i put a call in to Him, but if certain things are blocking the line i should anticipate some crackles on the phone.  One area i realised some time ago was having an effect on my prayer life was any time i spent watching TV (this can also be extended to listening to music or anything we read e.g. Newspapers). 

It was foggy and dark the other morning, so I was reminded that when i’m out in those conditions spiritually the only method of finding my way is to rely on my instinct or on lights (a torch or streetlamp). In life God acts as our light to show us the way, but it’s not always easy to see where His light is shining if we have other things in our lives obscuring it.

When i allow myself into the presence of certain things, i believe my instinct system, my listening ability, becomes tainted and less efficient.  I am not saying i have to step out of the world entirely, but rather be on guard.  I need to carefully guard what i fill my mind with so i may hear God more clearly and be more God-like (pure). 

As something becomes acceptable in society i can become numb to it and almost think it o.k., even bad things.  In films (movies) unGodly ways of living can be portrayed, and although there may be nothing intrinsically wrong with watching some of this, i need to protect myself from allowing it to soak into my skin before i’ve allowed God and His Word to also sink into my skin, just so that i am allowing The Truth to be my guide first.

In order to clear out the channel to God i am proposing a ‘time out’ from anything i usually fill my mind with which is not scripture or Christian music – a flushing out of my mind, like when people go on detox.  If i find it hard to give something up it’ll be a good test to see if i am addicted to it and therefore if it is an unhelpful thing in my life.
Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”