Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The Perfect Gift


Has Christmas got the better of you this year? I honestly feel that for me, it has. I've stressed over making memories. I've worried about what everyone else is doing and what perhaps I should be baking/making/buying.  I've got angry with courier companies who have not delivered presents when they promised to. 

I've overlooked the real meaning of Christmas.

Christmas was never about presents. Well not ones bought from John Lewis and wrapped in beautiful brown paper with hand-made gift tags (just to clarify, mine don't look like that!). It was never about a lavish meal, with turkey and all the trimmings. It wasn't about making sure that everyone had enough to drink and the little star on top of the tree was perfectly symmetrical.

Christmas was about THE perfect gift - Jesus - sent to this earth as a rescue plan. If it weren't for that little baby in a manger, the one that we sing about on Christmas Eve, our lives would not look like the ones we enjoy today. We would not be living in the light of salvation, freedom, the best gift anyone could ever wish for.

But it's not too late. Today is Christmas Eve and I'm going to spend some time with Jesus. As we watch the last number on our advent candle slowly melt away, I am going to thank Him for obeying His Father. Thank Him for living a perfect life on earth and for dying so that we might have life.  Life in all its wonderful glory. 

Jesus IS the reason for the season. 




Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Taking Risks


Are you a risk-taker? This question takes no amount of deliberation for me - I am not a risk-taker in any shape or form. I married one and that's about as close as I am every going to get! 

Last week, I had the pleasure of spending some time with a family from within our church community. For me, Sam and Hannah Fairs-Billam are the ultimate risk-takers - moving out to Zambia with their two young girls, in response to a dream that they believe God placed on their hearts two years ago - to be change-makers and bring hope to a broken part of the world. 

Listening to their story, I was completely blown away by their faith. They are living and working in the black African community in Zambia. As you can imagine, they face daily challenges, but one of the biggest is waiting on God to provide enough money for the following month. For them, every day is about leaning on God and His provision for them as a family, both practically and spiritually.

These people are true risk-takers. But instead of just 'winging' it and doing it for the thrills, they are content in the knowledge that God is their provider. They trust Him 100% (with the odd human wobble every now and again!). 

So here's the challenge......are the rest of us prepared to do this? God might not be calling you or me to move our family out to another part of the world but He definitely has a purpose for each one of us. One that we cannot fulfil if we aren't prepared to take risks. It takes bravery to step out and offer to pray for someone, to follow a prompting and take on a new area of ministry at church, hand in your notice at work because you feel God is calling you somewhere else but the path doesn't look clear yet. 

Unless we are prepared to live life on the edge just a little, then we will never know what it means to completely be at God's mercy in the way that Sam and Hannah are. I was so challenged when at the end of our conversation, Hannah said to me: "Life isn't easy, but I've never felt more fulfilled in my life. There's a satisfaction in knowing that we are in God's will, His plan for us"

Do you want that? Are you prepared to step out in faith and take risks? 
I think it's time the rest of us started.


Friday, 18 April 2014

A Simple Story




Do you know the real meaning of Easter? Not the bank holidays, the cute little chicks or the giant bunny (what exactly is that all about anyway?!) who delivers our chocolate.  But the message of new life and hope, that comes as a free gift?

Do you know why Jesus, the son of God came to this earth? 


Jesus didn't come in order to remain a tiny baby, born in a stable for us all to cherish and coo over. Although I'm sure he was cute, babies don't exactly do a lot do they?! No, Jesus came to earth so that he could become a man, one who was later despised, tortured and eventually left on a cross to die. 

That was just the beginning of this incredible but true story. It ends with a beautiful message of hope and restoration, as God fulfills His promise of providing new life for us all, an eternity with Him, through Jesus' resurrection.

You are chosen, unique and blemish free;
I have a purpose, one that you have yet to see.

You are restored, redeemed and justified; 
Stop being controlled by the hurt of satan's lies.

You  are perfect, a cherished child of God;
Come to me and I will reveal the power of my blood.

Open up your eyes to see my promises are true;
This gift is for the taking, that's all I ask of you.

It's a simple story of love. Will you accept the gift this Easter? 


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 v 9

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Playing God

Bruce Almighty is given the power to answer prayers.

I am a fixer. Tell me a problem and I will always try to find a solution. I know it's supposed to be a male trait (a rather irritating one at that!) but somehow I ended up with it too.

I am not sure why I do it, I've examined myself over the years and still haven't come up with a conclusion. Partly, I think, it's because I don't like to see people unhappy - who does? If I think I might be able to come up with a way to put a smile back on their face, then I will try with all my might to engineer it. The problem with this, is that it doesn't always end well. Mainly because I am not God.

Have you ever tried to play God?  

He doesn't seem to be performing the miracles as quickly as I would like, so perhaps I'll have a shot. In a sense, it's just another way of undermining God's timing and trying to take life into our own hands. Yes the motive is a good one - wanting to help others - but it's unlikely to end well because essentially we could be mucking up the perfectly orchestrated plan that God already has in place. Stepping in could actually mess things up!

I'm not saying that we should quit trying to help people, that would definitely not be a successful alternative but as I pondered on my over-zealous desire to fix things for others, I realised that I very rarely offer the number one solution: God. 

God is the ultimate answer to every problem - right? Not that He will necessarily fix things in a 'magic wand' kind of way but He will provide the person in need with the tools required to cope with their present circumstance: strength, comfort, hope, everlasting love, wisdom, peace. None of these are things I can provide. What I can do however, is point them towards God, then let Him do the rest, in His perfectly planned way.

  And my God will meet all your needs, according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4 v 19

Friday, 21 February 2014

Striving




Earlier this week, we sat down as a family to pray. Our church has committed to praying 24/7 for the month of February and I thought it would be good for us to go as a family.  The idea was met with some protest but not downright refusal, so that was a bonus!

I decided to take a large piece of flip chart paper along and a couple of marker pens, to aid us (or at least pass some of the 60 minutes, which suddenly seemed like an awful long time with a 9 and 12 year old!). We began by writing some of the things we were thankful for....our home, money, job, school, friends, holidays. Quite easy really, we are very blessed.

Then we turned the paper over and decided to write some 'asks'. We took it in turns to pick up the pen and as time went on, we got a little more personal in our requests. My daughter prompted this by writing things she would like to change about her behaviour. As she wrote, she said: "I guess in a way, this is down to me, not God but I'll write it anyway".

Do you ever feel as though you're striving? To be fitter, to be more patient, to stop swearing, to be a better spouse, to be kinder to others? I know that I do and I often attempt at doing this in my own strength, instead of turning to God who is more than able.

I honestly think that God honours the recognition of failure on our part; when we admit that actually we are not doing a great job of being a decent human being and need help. Isn't this what the Holy Spirit is for? I reminded my daughter that the bible promises that if we ask for it, we will be given the fruits of His spirit:

Peace, Joy, Love, Patience, Self-Control, Faithfulness, Goodness, Kindness, Gentleness.(Galations 5 v 22)

All the ingredients needed for a perfect human being. Of course we will always fall short of Jesus' perfection but if we would only ask for it, He will help us. And that's what I told my daughter: that Jesus longs for us to ask for His help in the everyday and that little by little, if we admit defeat, He will change us from the inside out.  A great reminder for us all, I think.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 
1 Corinthians 12 v 9.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Living Life to the Full




Being the first Sunday of a new year, our church meeting this morning was highly charged with expectation and excitement for what God has in store for the next 365 days. As I stood in worship, the words 'live life to the full' came to mind.  Probably obvious words for someone who embraces the challenge of a new year and making resolutions. Very quickly however, I connected them with the above verse found in John's gospel:

"....I have come that they might have life and have it to the full"

I don't know about you but when I think of 'living life to the full', I imagine laughter, spontaneity, carefree, fun times. But the reality is that these feelings are often short-lived and the happiness is pretty superficial, not deep in our soul. Only a relationship with a living God can do that. His plan for our lives is one of peace, joy, hope and purpose. What a promise! 

It wasn't until I looked up this verse, that I was reminded of the preceding words: 

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy...

Even after 35 years of trying to avoid Satan's crafty plans, he still manages to find a way in to my life at times and all too often, I allow him the room.  But Jesus promises to lead us into a life that is 'full'. We should be grabbing it with both hands! Will you join me in sticking close to God this year? In choosing His path and the one that promises fulfilment? Let's be wise to Satan's tricks and not give him any room to steal our joy.  

May 2014 be a year which you look back on as a turning point in your relationship with Him.