Category Archives: Christian

I met with my best friends yesterday. I have been unwilling to let go of resentment. As a result I have suffered spiritually. The wonderful thing about close Christian friends is that they can admonish with love. I needed that yesterday, and as they quietly challenged me about something unwise, I felt convicted. We meet in a coffee shop and then go and pray in the car. This is our pattern. As we walked to the car we were reflecting on psalm 23. Our shepherd King makes us lie down in green pastures and even uses his rod to enable us to do it. For me, this picture is so wonderful. God disciplines us. We see hurt and cruelty in it, and yet if we saw it from God’s perspective he is driving us from brown parched land, to lush green pastures, where the quiet waters are.


So as we got in the car, we all prayed that we would love those we don’t want to love, and that they would be made to lie down in green pastures. Since this prayer, my whole mindset has changed. Joy has returned to my soul. God is leading us beside the still waters and yet  for God to do it, it often causes us pain because just like stupid sheep, we don’t understand what’s good for us. 

We have such an amazing Saviour. Such a great God. The discipline we receive enables us to lie down in green pastures. I pray that when God disciplines us in the future we will have the green pastures in view, and thank God for the discipline and not rebel against it. 

There are many lenses I have viewed my husband through over the last eight months. The lens of anger and hurt, of bitterness and displacement. Even though the world would say that I have a right to all of these reactions, I am learning that we have to be very cautious about which lens we choose to view our life through. Viewing our life through a wrong lens distorts our understanding of the gospel and brings disaster into our lives. 

After many hard knocks I have come to understand that it’s only the lens of God’s word that should influence our lives. It’s the only way for true contentment and fulfilment with the one who knows us best.

When we are looking through a wrong lens, sin is crouching at our door.
 

Proverbs 17:9 says:

Love forgets mistakes; nagging about them parts the best of friends. 

God forgets our mistakes, he hurls our iniquities into the depths of the sea. If we are loving God before ourselves, then we do the same when people hurt and offend us. 

James 1:25 says:

 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it, not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it, they will be blessed in what they do.

When we experience betrayal and hurt our instinctive reaction often turns to bitterness and distance, anger and unforgiveness. Looking through the lens of God’s  word  enables us to see that God reacts to us very differently. God  reacts with kindness and forgiveness, with tenacious love and with no thought to his own feelings when we have hurt and offended him. When we are looking through the right lens we begin to view those who have offended us as loved and precious to God. When we break it down, we begin to view ourselves as no better than those who have hurt us. We are all sinners that don’t deserve the outrageous kindness of our Heavenly Father. So, if  God reacts with love, grace and forgiveness when he is hurt and offended, so must we. 

Philippians 4:11-13

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

My life has plateaued, and the adrenalin that was frantically pumping in every direction has finally halted. Being in a constant state of high alert is finally over, and I am faced with my new life which I didn’t ~choose. I have struggled to find contentment with my life as it is now.

Rick Warren says:

“Contentment means my happiness is not dependent upon circumstances. Most people get caught in “when” thinking — “When I get such and such, then I’ll be happy.” ”

This morning, driving to work I prayed for contentment. I also acknowledged that I didn’t want to pray this prayer, and I needed God to work In my life to enable me to mean the words that I was saying. This took energy and effort because I was asking God to make me content with something I was discontent with. Its hard to ask God for true contentment if we don’t feel proactive about changing our attitudes.

Paul says in Philippians 4:11 that He had to learn to be content. It wasn’t something that came to him naturally. I’m sure he didn’t want to be in dire need or in prison or shipwrecked or hungry. Yet paul experienced all these things and through it, learned contentment.

I know my heart is rebellious and I know how wrong I am. I am struggling and grappling and trying to work through finding contentment in this situation I am now in. The key is loving God more and wanting every situation we find ourselves in, good or bad to please God.

This is my prayer for today:

Lord,
I am discontent about many things in my life. There is an unwillingness to accept the here and now. I am discontent over all I have lost. Forgive me for my rebellious heart that is so slow and reluctant to ask for contentment with the life I now have.

To know contemtement in every situation pleases you. You know best, and whatever happens in our lives, help me to trust you and understand that you are working out everything for my ultimate good. Help me to know that contentment can only come from you. It has to be learned and applied as we look to you for help.Thank you for your willingness to forgive again and again. Thank you for Jesus who gladly gave up everything, and yet was content to submit to your will. Help me to do the same.

Amen.

My life right now is inconsistent.I am having ups and downs. Good days and bad days. Times of joy and times of melancholy. Feelings of hope and feelings of overwhelming despondency.

Acceptance is a big thing, and it’s so easy to look back and wish for what has gone. Even in the light of mighty forgiveness and overwhelming grace, I am bearing the right consequences for my husband’s sin. It could be no other way, because our Heavenly Father is a good parent, and there are always consequences for wrong actions. King David was forgiven, but he and Bathsheba always had the grief and sorrow of a son who died. Sin matters.

My prayer is that the experiences that I’ve gone through won’t be wasted. That all this hurt and pain will be used to help and support others. That many will be encouraged to understand that it’s possible to feel all of these overwhelming and debilitating emotions, and yet know God in such a wonderful and intimate way. It’s such a paradox. Grief and sorrow and hurt, yet at the very same time knowing joy and hope and such a knowledge of our saviour.

Eventually, this roller coaster ride with its ups and downs, twists and turns making me feel sick and disorientated will level out. But I will look back and I will be able to say:

Every miracle started with a problem. 

I have a screen saver on my phone which says “every miracle in the bible first started with a problem.” So countless times every day this is what I read. As I look back in the gospels and see all the miracles that Jesus performed, this statement is indeed correct. Jesus’ miracles are all about people in dire need and overwhelming despair.

They are about the dead raised to life, the blind seeing, and lives that are completely smashed and ruined by demon possession. We also see people who are treated badly and counted as nothing because of their physical disabilities, and the dreaded leprosy which separates loved ones. In all of these huge problems we see the power of Jesus smashing through it all. He loved, and had compassion on all people, and sorted the problem when humanly speaking there was no solution.

As I look at phone and reminded that every miracle started as a problem, I know that God is the same God and can smash through our problems when we see no way forward.

This weekend is a painful one as churches are meeting together where we live. We have not yet met people face to face after my husband’s fall from grace and I have hunkered down, got out of bed late, talked to a wise friend and my husband went to church with a heavy heart. Shame is an awful thing. We know that there is forgiveness at the cross, but facing people know us feels too much.

I felt for my husband and texted him, asking him if he was ok. His response was: “the sermon is on psalm 32!”

This is what it says:

1 Psalm 32:1-11 Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven,whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. You are my hiding-place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

We were wonderfully reminded once again that God loves the contrite, and we felt his kindness to us in orchestrating this passage on this particular weekend. We often feel that we need to continue to be punished for something that God has forgiven. We often find it hard to accept the outrageous kindness and grace of God, in delighting to show forgiveness. Praying that God’s miracle of grace smashes through our problem and all its consequences, so that people will be amazed at God’s power and grace, and believe. What a wonderful saviour we have.

When we are overwhelmed 

“But my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is is made perfect in weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”

(2 Corinthians 12:9)

There are many situations that I feel overwhelmed by. Sometimes it’s just getting up in the morning. Sometimes it’s the thought of having to find work after the trauma of the last months. I feel overwhelmed in the night when I wake up because I have a knot in my stomach and can’t remember why. I have been overwhelmed living in a new place. I’ve struggled in a new church and I am finding it hard to connect with strangers when I feel disconnected and grief stricken.

My heart hurts as my children go on this excruciating journey of working things through, and I have felt pained, and been in agony for them.

I am totally overwhelmed.

If my faith is real, God will eventually see me through. I may feel that my situation won’t right itself, but I know that God is using it to teach and to grow me.

So, I don’t need to fear, but I do need to trust in the one who knows it all. All I can do is take one day at a time and rest in the knowledge that I will get through this because his grace is sufficient and his power is perfect in my weakness.

Pray without ceasing.

My life as I now know it has overwhelmed me. It has devastated me on every level and without God, I don’t know what I would have done.

I have found that my only comfort has been talking to God. He has been my only constant and my only foundation. I have found myself talking to him continually.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul tells us to pray without ceasing. I have been unable to do anything else. I have muttered everywhere I’ve gone. When I have stopped talking to God, I have begun to sink into melancholy and despair. I have felt like a small child never taking its eyes off its mother, just in case all is lost.

At my lowest, all I have managed to mutter is “God, help me!” I have been unable to say anything more than that. It’s been so hard at times, I began to wonder if I would be able to stand under the weight of it. The feelings of isolation and bereavement have sometimes been so acute, that I have wondered if I will cope.

But, in all of this, I have found treasures that are precious. Even in the devastation of my life, I have known God to be faithful and kind all of the time. By leaning completely on God, my faith has been rooted in him and no other, which has been a help and a comfort. We are reading daily devotions on the psalms by Tim Keller. Today we read psalm 55 v 8, about David’s temptation to flee. Tim Keller says:

“But there is no shelter apart from God. We must continue to trust in him, because all other “shelters” will prove to be places of greater danger. There is no other place to go. He has the words of eternal life ( John 6:66 – 69)

When my life fell apart many friends failed, but God has stayed by my side. There is no situation too ugly for him to intervene. He is a precious and faithful God, full of mercy and abounding in love. He will never fail.

I know I can move forward with the confidence that only God can give. If God is with me, I need not fear. This is not the journey I would ever choose, but it’s the one that has been to given me, and my Heavenly Father knows best. I pray that I won’t waste this situation, but God would shape and mould me so that I become more like him.

Back to the cross I go.

Yesterday was an atrocious day. I felt bitterness in my heart from early on, and it went unchecked all day. It almost felt like I was feeling the full force of hurt and betrayal for the very first time. At 2:31 am, I had not slept a wink. The full force of bitterness was marching over my heart and taking up residence. Bitterness was occupying my heart like the enemy in war time.

In the small hours, I opened a book of daily readings at April 16. The book is called “a year’s journey with God” by Jennifer Rees Larcombe.

The verse was:

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the well spring of life.”

She says:

” as Christians we feel we shouldn’t let things wind us up so we ignore the internal grazes and bruises and even pretend to ourselves that our hearts are not crushed by disapproval or unkindness or ripped open by betrayal. When Jesus said he had come to “mend the broken- hearted”, surely He was promising to heal these wounds, but I honestly think He can’t do that without our willingness to forgive the person who has hurt us.”

I have a close friend who often says to me, ” back to the cross you go then!” I have had to come to this place over and over again. When we let bitterness reign we allow Satan to take up residence in our hearts and minds and it produces nothing good and opposes all that Jesus says is right.

The longer I leave bitterness, the harder it seems to hand ownership back to God. This causes strife and bitterness. I was robbed of joy yesterday, and in the early hours of this morning, and I found myself wondering if I had a relationship with God at all. I felt blackness and despair which was too awful to describe.

To react well when we are feeling hurt is nigh on impossible. Reacting with ill grace is our natural bent. Sin from the beginning of time has manifested itself in blame and sulking. Adam blames Eve, and Eve blames the serpent.

Sadly, very early on, we are often aware that we are going down a wrong path. We know how outrageous our behaviour is, and how unkind we are being, but getting off that road hurts our pride too much, so we doggedly stay on it. The results are never good and never worth it.

So the advice from my friend is key : ” back to the cross we go!”

Paul says in Romans 7:19

“For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.”

I am finding this process exhausting and overwhelming, but thankfully the cross is never barred and God’s mercy is ever present to draw upon in our time of need.

Letting go of the past and accepting the now.

I have found it very difficult accepting that my past life has now gone.

After many years in one place, friendships are formed and cemented. To be able to walk in the community where you live, and meet people that you’ve known over many years is wonderful – but I took it for granted. I love the familiar and I hate change.

My closest friends were those I studied the bible with. I have found that my friendships have been the very best that they can be, when they have been fused around the word of God. But it takes years to cultivate friendships where honesty, accountability and transparency reign. I think that growing together around God’s word fosters love and friendship like nothing else can. These people become forever friends.

To lose this without having any sort of forewarning or preparation devastated and traumatised me.

5 months on I am still struggling to accept loss of all. I feel like I’ve gone through the stages of bereavement, but I’m still stuck at no 2 at times, and have not yet come to terms with no 5.

  1. Denial and isolation
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Being torn from all I loved has been the most traumatic thing I have ever experienced. I have felt completely overwhelmed and disconnected. It has been very challenging working through how I should react to all of this. I have not yet arrived and I am struggling to accept the new life that has been given me.

A verse that was very precious to me is found in Jeremiah 29 v 11

” I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
This was a tricky verse for me to grasp. I asked the Lord that we would be above reproach, and he gave me shame.

I have been torn away from my life and everything I know and love. And yet this verse has got to be true if we are in God’s kingdom. I don’t understand God’s plans, but I know that in this severe and overwhelming trial that has felt cruel and unpleasant, God has been at work in my life and he has taught me through it.

These are the things that I am learning ;

  1. That God is good all the time.
  2. That God never forsakes us, even though we may feel like we are in a psalm 46 situation, and that the mountains have fallen into the heart of the sea.
  3. That through severe trials God is revealing my sinful reactions and actions and humbles me.
  4. That Im not in control and I can’t fix it.
  5. That Satan is far more subtle and devious than we can ever imagine and I need to pray constantly and suit up in God’s armour.
  6. I need to hand control over to God and leave it there without clawing it back.
  7. That I can choose how I react – I can choose joy over anxiety and calm over panic.
  8. That I can leave the ones I love to God and entrust them to him, and not fret over their welfare or spiritual growth.
  9. That forgiveness is a very hard thing, and this shows us the huge forgiveness God has shown us in Jesus.
  10. That marriage isn’t about fulfilling our hopes and dreams , but sanctifies us by showing us our selfishness and pride and prepares us for heaven.
  11. Understanding the importance of cultivating our relationship with the only person who ultimately matters. God is the only person who truly satisfies.

So I need to accept that even though I don’t understand any of this, God does, and rather than looking back longingly at what I’ve lost, I need to look forward and accept what God has given me now. I know this in theory, but as yet, I have not worked it through in practice.

Paul says in Philippians 4:12

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength”

Dear Lord,

Thank you that you know all things. Help me to trust you when the path I am on is dark and unfamiliar. Help me to understand that although this has taken me by surprise, nothing comes as a surprise to you. Help me to accept and know contentment with what I now have, and not look back longingly to what has been taken away. Use me in the new life you have now given me for your glory.

Amen

The importance of right identity

“What do people think about us now?” Is a thought that I often obsess over..

This is a very dangerous path to go on, especially if you have a sensitive disposition as I have. The right question to ask is this: “Does my identity lie in the opinion of others or is my identity in Christ?

And if like me, the opinion of others has mattered too much, we are left completely overwhelmed when our circumstances spiral downwards.

If my worth is measured by our achievements, or our popularity, what happens when failure looms large?

I now find myself in a situation where everything has been stripped from us and I am floundering. God is humbling me and what a hard lesson this is to learn… To fall from grace has hit me hard and has made me think about where my identity truly lies.

And yes, without really thinking about it my identity has been anchored elsewhere and not completely on christ. And now I feel like I’m drowning.

God is kind in all he allows, every trial is for our ultimate good no matter how harsh it appears. I’ve been stripped bare and have nothing left apart from christ. Losing our reputation has made me feel like an outcast, a second class citizen, but that’s my perception and not the truth.

God has taught me much about myself through this trial. I value the opinions of others far too much which is why I feel so crushed and overwhelmed.

The truth of God’s word is clear, we have no goodness, no attributes that we can call our own…. Anything good can only come from christ, and the wonderful news is that even though there has been spectacular failure, we are forgiven and restored in christ. Others may look down on us for many years to come, but we will look up and find our worth in him, having that confidence to know that all is well because christ has taken our shame. We are just as loved and accepted no matter how spectacularly we’ve messed up.

Where else do I want my identity to lie? It’s madness to put it anywhere other than Jesus.