Faith
Faith, Lifestyle

Where is your security?

We recently received some income and felt like we finally had a financial buffer. Then today we were hit with a huge car repair bill that wiped out all bar a couple of hundred pounds of it. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach and I’m guessing this is how the Israelites felt in the wilderness.

In Exodus 16 we read that they had left slavery in Egypt and were finally tasting freedom when they found themselves without food in the wilderness. The Israelites grumbled and felt sorry for themselves – in Egypt at least they had all the meat and bread that they wanted!

Moses went to God and His response was to rain down manna each morning and meat by night. But there was one caveat – they weren’t to store any of the provision.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. This way I will test them to see whether or not they will follow my instructions.” Exodus 16:4

Regardless of the instructions, the Israelites were fearful and kept some behind, but the next morning the manna and meat were rotten. Regardless of God’s promises to meet their daily needs, they tried to take control.

Why would God do this? He was testing the Israelites trust in Him, that He alone would prove His love by providing for His people.

Every. Single. Day.

Each time we feel a little bit financially okay as a family something seems to go wrong. Just when I think we have a handle on things, our savings are depleted again. I confess that I went to God in floods of tears about our unexpected bill. He simply said; “the money I provided you with was to cover the repairs that you needed. I will give you what you need when you need it.

The One who breathed life into my bones brought the funds that we needed.

Talk about a reality check. The One who breathed life into my bones brought the funds that we needed. God knew we needed a safe car to transport our most precious cargo. He knew the repairs were more than we could finance so He covered it. God also knows what I need next week, and the week after that. And He gives me daily bread.

God reminded me today that if He can raise £1500 for car repairs then He can provide for my family and I. All too often I place my security in my savings, but God reminder me today that I need to place my security in my Saviour. I hope that if this message finds you in a tight spot too that you will be encouraged. God’s got this and He’s got you.

R x

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Faith

The Choice – part 2

Being on your own can be scary, and even more so in the times of Ruth in the Old Testament. However, the choices that Ruth made led to her being placed in the Royal bloodline.

Last time we looked at how Ruth chose to stay with her mother in law, Naomi. That in itself was a major step of faith – she was leaving her natural family, her culture, her past behind to embrace a brand new life in an alien environment. This week we pick up the story in chapter 2 where Ruth chooses to work in her new home town of Bethlehem.

Working as a woman was a risky business, even more so if she didn’t have a husband or father to provide for and protect her. Ruth was a moabitess; a foreigner. She was not like others and could have faced discrimination or judgement from women and unwanted attention from men. This would make her choice to work even more dangerous, yet she wasn’t willing to live on hand outs. She wanted to earn her own money, gather her own food and provide for Naomi and herself.

Ruth’s choice to work led to Boaz’s choice to provide

Ruth ended up working in the field that belonged to Boaz, a relative of Elimelech (Naomi’s deceased husband and her father in law). This was no coincidence, this was a God-incidence. As Ruth chose to work, God provided Boaz, who quickly offered the protection and provision that Ruth so desperately needed.

Boaz choice to provide and protect led to Ruth reaching out

As Ruth received from Boaz, she shared the story with Naomi, who quickly saw God’s hand at work as she realised who this man was. Boaz was a kinsman redeemer – as a relative of Elimelech, he could redeem his widow, or in this case the widow’s daughter in law, to claim the land in Elimelech’s name. Naomi urged Ruth to reach out to Boaz and make her intentions to him known. A woman couldn’t propose to a man, but she could lay at his feet to show that she would like to be placed under his covering. So Ruth did just that, finding Boaz at the threshing floor and laying down at his feet.

Ruth’s choice to reach out led to Boaz choosing to redeem

In Ruth 3, Boaz found Ruth and responded with tenderness and generosity, promising to redeem her and sending her home with provision. However, first he had to consult a relative who was a closer relative than he. This is where we learn the true heart of Boaz. As Boaz approached his relative, he asks him if he would like to gain the land, to which the relative replies yes. But when Boaz went on to explain that in order to gain the land, the man must also gain a wife and further the name of Elimelech, the man back tracked.

Our motives are so very important. Boaz wasn’t interested in the land, he wanted the lady. He saw Ruth’s heart, her loyalty, her diligence and he wanted to provide for and protect her. Gaining Elimelech’s land was simply a bonus.

We see throughout the book of Ruth how the choices the characters made led to incredible provision. When they moved, God moved. Indeed, this rural romance was not just a love story – it led to the Royal line of King David, who was an ancestor of Jesus Christ. The greatest choice ever made was that of God sending His Son Jesus to earth for us. He wanted to have a relationship with us, which is why Jesus came. Jesus then chose to die for you and me, the hardest decision He was ever faced with. His motives were the same as Boaz – Jesus wants to cover you, to provide for and protect you, so that you will never be alone again. Just like Ruth, all you have to do is sit at His feet and say I am here, and I am yours.

R x

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Faith, Lifestyle

The Choice – part 1

I am a sucker for a romantic movie, and my favourite one of all time is The Choice (closely followed by The Notebook). Both movies feature couples whose love beats all the odds and whose choices affect their entire lives.

We find a similar love story in the book of Ruth, a woman who was faced with a series of choices that would change not just her life but the lives of all mankind. But first let me give you a bit of the backstory.

The story of Ruth was written at the same time as Judges, and in this book we learn that the Israelites had no strong spiritual leadership. There had been several Judges appointed to bring law and order, but they had failed, and now ‘everyone did whatever seemed right to him.’ Judges 21:25

We all know that a lack of leadership can lead to vigilante style law. A lack of rules leads to rebellion, and this was certainly true of Israel at this time. This was not a stable economy, or safe society. A famine had broken out and the book begins with choice number one; Elimelech decides to flee his home town of Bethlehem with his wife Naomi and their two sons Mahlon and Chilion.

Elimelech chooses Moab

After leaving Bethlehem, Elimelech settles in the land of Moab, but shortly after dies. His sons remain in Moab and take Moabite wives, Ruth and Orpah, however both of Elimelech’s sons die, leaving Naomi and her daughters in law destitute. In this day and age, it was not safe for a woman to be alone. Not only could she not provide for herself, but she could not protect herself either. Despite her deep grief at losing not only her husband, but her two children also, Naomi makes a choice to trust God. She decides that she will return to her homeland of Bethlehem upon hearing that ‘the Lord had paid attention to His people’s needs by providing them food.’ Ruth 1:6

Naomi chooses God

In choosing to trust God, she chooses to return home, but the she goes on to do another very selfless act. She tells her daughters to return home to their families. After many tears, Orpah decides to leave and is never mentioned again. Ruth on the other hand chose to stay and her name is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus.

Ruth chooses Naomi

So much can hang on one decision. Ruth’s decision to stay with Naomi was not made on a whim, it was made on the basis of the faith she saw rise up in her mother in law despite such abject grief. It was made on the realisation that God could and would help her, if she followed Him. That even in her darkest days, through the hardest moments, God was still God. This challenges me so deeply. On my darkest days, can I truly say that my words and actions reflect God and who He is? Do my life choices speak of the faith that rises up in me in response to difficult circumstances?

Do others see God’s hand in our choices? Our faith in our responses?

Ruth didn’t just stay with Naomi, she left all that she knew behind. She chose to embrace a culture and a God that she had not been brought up in, she left was her family home. Ruth also went one step further in making vows to Naomi. These were a covenant promise before God. She vowed to travel with Naomi, to live with her, to make Naomi’s people her people, to worship Naomi’s God, to die where she dies and be buried where she is buried.

Those are some pretty big promises to a woman who is not a blood relative. But what happens next just blows my mind. As Ruth left her bloodline, God placed her in His royal line. Because of the choices that Ruth made, she became the great grandmother of King David, an ancestor of Jesus Christ.

As I reflected on this, I wondered how God felt toward Ruth, and why she was chosen for such a great honour. In the movie The Choice, local ladies man Travis meets his neighbour Gabby and is totally captivated by her. She gets under his skin in a way that no one else ever has, and he has a phrase he uses with her; ‘You bother me, baby.’ I believe that Ruth bothered God. I believe that she was so loved by God, that He could see her beautiful heart and He wanted to honour the choices she made.

This is just the same for us today. YOU bother God. You bother Him so much that He wrote the greatest love story in the world; He sent His Son to die for you. God sees your heart and He wants to use you to show His love and mercy the world over. He wants to place you in locations and situations that you could barely imagine just so He can pour His grace and favour into your life. You bother God, and maybe, just maybe this is the time you need to choose Him to be at the centre of your life. 

R x

 

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Faith, Lifestyle

Hope with Habakkuk

We could all do with a little bit of hope right now. The world is unsettled and uncertain, nothing is sure and things feel a little bit hopeless. This is just how Habakkuk felt.

600BC Israel was being invaded, the fig trees did not bloom, the fruit did not grow, the crops failed, the flocks disappeared. Sound familiar? Right now we are being invaded by a virus, lives have been taken, jobs have been lost, income has stopped, food is scarce, the future uncertain.

Habakkuk had gone to God with his requests. He had watched to see what God would do, he had worked on his faith as he waited to see what God would say, and now he was faced with an answer that he hadn’t expected.

So what did Habakkuk do next? He worshipped.

His response astounds me, and challenges me. It is not easy to thank God when your prayers are unanswered. It is not easy to praise Him when your problems remains, yet this is exactly what Habakkuk did.

Yet I will celebrate in the Lord – I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! The Lord my God is my strength; He makes my feet like that of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights. Habakkuk 3:18

The key to Habakkuk’s response is in the first line of this scripture; I will celebrate IN the Lord. Not when He has fixed my problems, not if He provides the miracle, not once He has removed me from the place of danger. Habakkuk celebrated IN the Lord, right where he was, with unanswered prayers and an uncertain future. Why? Because he knew God and he knew Him to be good. He knew that God had his best interests at heart.

Even though Habakkuk did not understand what God was doing,
he understood who God was.

Do we praise God even when our problems remain? Do we sing of His goodness even when we are still surrounded on all sides? Do we raise our hands even when the rain is still falling down?

God doesn’t always remove us from the mountains that we face, but in verse 19 we see that He gives us HIS strength and makes our feet surefooted like a deer and ENABLES us to walk on mountains. Have you ever seen deer on a mountain side? They look so precarious on craggy cliff edges, just a step away from a fatal fall, but they are surefooted. Why? Because they were designed to navigate this terrain and because they know the terrain.

The mountain you face right now may seem unpassable to you, but know that the God of the heavens and the earth knows every inch of this terrain. He will give you strength, He will lead you forwards and He will show you where to place your feet.

Habakkuk had confidence in God because he knew Him. Even though, still God.

The book of Habakkuk is a story of waiting and it reminds us that we are not required to be motionless while we wait. Habakkuk encourages us that we need to go to God with our prayers then do three simple things;

WATCH + WAIT  |  WORK + WAIT  |  WORSHIP + WAIT

Watch and see what God is doing, how He is weaving this into His bigger story.

Work on your faith, deepen your relationship with God and download His peace.

Worship God for He is good, and He works all things together for our good.

I don’t know where this finds you today, but I pray that you would be encouraged and equipped to keep pressing in in prayer, keep pushing forward in faith and keep praising Him in everything.

R x

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Faith, Lifestyle

HIIT with Habakkuk

Do you love HIIT? I do because I don’t have time for hour long workouts and need something that is going to give me the most impact. I have discovered that approaching my Bible as a HIIT workout right now is super helpful too. Let me explain why.

I have been studying the book of Habakkuk in the Bible and learned so many lessons about life in lockdown. Habakkuk had to wait. A LOT. Much like us right now.

Here is a recap; In chapter 1, Habakkuk complained to God about the Assyrian takeover that was causing chaos all around him. He waited for God to respond but God’s reply was to send an even crueller race – the Babylonians – to sort the men from the boys. Habakkuk was horrified, and complained a second time, before watching and waiting to see what God will do. In Chapter 2, God responds to Habakkuk and says that the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God. Another way of saying this would be that those who remain faithful while they wait, who don’t give up or give in, will survive this season. Why is this important? Because being faithful requires hard work.

Being faithful requires hard work.

I don’t need to tell you about hard work. You are already doing it. From navigating social distancing in supermarkets to teaching kids a curriculum, while managing businesses, keeping in touch with relatives, and trying to hold it altogether, you are already doing a lot of hard work. But I believe that above all this, God needs us to keep our eyes fixed on Him while we wait this out.

Right now, we are under pressure. We are facing a global pandemic, a crisis like the world have never seen before. People are losing their lives, their loved ones, their jobs, their homes. There is utter chaos all around us as everything that we took for granted now slides into uncertainty. While under pressure, it can be so easy to cut corners, to compromise, to let standards slip.  But God tells us that the righteous live by faith, so we need to exercise our faith while we wait for God to move.

We need to exercise our faith while we wait for God to move.

The best way I know to get to know God, and find out what He wants us to do is to spend time reading His Word. Time is precious right now, especially if you have a tribe of toddlers or teens in tow, and this is where HIIT comes in.

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training which shocks your mind and body into action. HIIT workouts increase your metabolism and your energy levels, while strengthening your muscles and cardiovascular system. Each workout typically takes 15-30 minutes max and are designed to repeated daily.

I believe that God wants you to approach your Bible like a HIIT workout, getting the maximum impact each time. He wants His word to shock your mind and body into action in order to strengthen your spiritual muscles. How can we do this? Here are some tips:

Be Intentional. Create a welcoming space somewhere in your home, with a candle burning, essential oils diffusing, coffee brewing, music playing; whatever works for you. Grab your Bible, a notepad and pen then set a timer for 20 minutes.

Bring Intensity. Pick a book and begin to work through it one verse at at time. Don’t just snack on the Bible or skim read through passages. Take your time and use different bible translations or commentaries online to help you draw the most out of each verse in a chapter. If you don’t know where to start the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are a great place!

Show Integrity. Make a commitment and stick to it! By choosing to show up with God each and every day you will discover the transforming power of God’s word for yourself. Because when we do the hard work, He does the heart work.

When we do the hard work, God does the heart work.

I believe that by bringing our intentions, our intensity and our integrity, each day, even if only for 15-30 minutes, God will reveal Himself to us. As we stretch ourselves He will strengthen our hearts. As we get into the Word, God will give us insight in to His plans and this will get us through the next few weeks of waiting.

It’s time to dig deep into the Bible so we can start flexing those muscles of faith.

R x

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Faith

Hold on with Habakkuk

The UK has been in lockdown for three weeks and we have just been told that this will be extended by at least another three weeks. Halfway can seem like such a hopeless place. Not at the beginning, no where near the end, and it can leave us asking where is God in all of this?

The good news is that we are not alone in thinking this. Habakkuk had a pretty hard time understanding God’s plans back in 7th Century BC. The Assyrians had overpowered the Israelites and corrupted the Holy City. The prophet, Habakkuk, was distraught and couldn’t understand why God hadn’t intervened.

There are a couple of things that you need to know about Habakkuk. Firstly, his name meant ‘someone who embraces’ or in more informal terms a ‘clinger’. Habakkuk was clingy, and he chose to cling to God. This is important, because you don’t cling to just anyone. (If you do, the chances are you will be thrown right off). To cling to someone, you must know them really well, know them intimately, therefore the fact that Habakkuk clings to God shows that he knew God.

Habakkuk clung to God because he knew God.

Because he knew God, he could get close to God, and bring complaints before Him in confidence. My kids don’t whine at their aunts, uncles or adults in the shops or at church about what isn’t fair. They whine to me (unfortunately!). Why? Because we are close, we have relationship, they know me and they trust me. My children can be real, honest and authentic with me, bringing me their deepest concerns because they know I can handle it, and I will love them regardless of what they say or do.

God is big enough to handle your complaint. Furthermore, He wants you to bring them to Him, because He is your heavenly Father. He wants you to take your problems to Him so He can fix it, because thats what Dad’s do.

God wants to take on your problems, because that’s what Dad’s do.

So Habakkuk brought his problems to God, and God said “Don’t worry, I am sending the Babylonians in to take care of it”.

This horrified Habakkuk even more! The Babylonians were know for their idolatrous ways, their injustice and their inhuman treatment of others. If the Assyrians had overpowered the Israelites, then the Babylonians would straight up obliterate them.

It is not always easy to see God’s hand at work. Right now we are int the middle of a global pandemic, a crisis such as the world has never seen. We have endured lockdown, but things aren’t getting any better. We have isolated from our loved ones and practiced social distancing but still jobs and lives are being lost.

Where is God? Habakkuk asked the same thing. But he didn’t do it from a place of fear and frustration. He put his problems before God, then he climbed into his watchtower and waited.

We need to watch and wait to see God move.

While the storm is raging, it is not clear how God is going to use or control this situation. But just like Habakkuk, we need to put our problems before God, climb into our spiritual watch tower and wait for the dust to settle. God wasn’t finished then, and He isn’t finished now. There is an unseen battle happening all around us, God is at work even when we can’t see how, or don’t understand why.

It is in the stillness that God speaks. It is when we come before him in quiet confidence, clinging to our Father that He whispers into our situation. We have access to God through Jesus Christ, we are His kids, and He wants us to climb into His lap and hold on to Him.

What are you holding on to? The news bulletins? The bank balance? The Doctors report? Whatever you are facing right now, at this halfway point, I pray that you would take a leaf out of Habakkuk’s book and choose to hold on to God and hang on His word.

 

R x

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Faith, Homeschool, Parenting

The Home School Diaries #3

I got it wrong today. Okay not just today, but spectacularly so on this occasion. This time it was with my middle child, my easiest by far and my least demanding. He is so often overshadowed by his more vocal siblings or overlooked as he is generally happy to go with the flow.

We were doing our daily devotions (yes I know, the irony is not lost on me) and I was asking him to read aloud from his Bible, like I do every morning. He was dragging his feet, messing about and flicking through the pages at a snails pace. My impatience boiled over, my little boy crumpled, his tears tumbled and my heart broke.

I drew him into my arms and said I was sorry. He said he didn’t understand how to find what I had asked him to read and I realised he needed me to explain it better. All too often I expect so much of him as I am busy dealing with his two year old sister (I had already dealt with two potty incidents before I finished reading my devotional page aloud).

I lifted my son onto my lap and I asked if he wanted me to sit with him and talk it through with him. He looked up at me with tearstained cheeks and nodded. We then spent a happy half hour together, my boy snuggled on my lap while I spoke softly and encouraged him. I showed him the different parts of the Bible, how it is made up of the Old and New Testament, and contains 66 books. We looked at the content page and we found today’s scripture together. He read it beautifully and we finished our devotional with smiles on our faces and love in our hearts.

Being a mom of three, I feel constantly pulled in every direction, and never more so than when it comes to teaching my children. They all need different approaches, different atmospheres, different content. But one thing that they all need is love.

The one thing that my children need most is my love

I need to teach them from a place of love, of patience and of acceptance. I am their mom first, educator second. My job is to love the bones off those kids so that they feel safe and cherished, which will empower them to learn. I need to not bark out instructions but learn alongside them.

That is just the way that God works too. He is a loving Father who wants to love the bones off us, if only we will let Him. He doesn’t want us to flail around or panic because we don’t know what to do. He wants us to come to Him and say Papa I don’t understand. Then He can swoop down and scoop us into His arms and talk us through it.

When I experience the love of God it makes it far easier to love in all circumstances.

As they say, every day is a school day, and this new homeschool mama is on a learning journey too.

R x

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Faith

Just do it

Just do it.

That wonderful strapline, coined by Nike, that reminds me of my tendency to procrastinate at any given moment in order to avoid the inevitable. Why is it that when deadlines are looming I find an insuppressible urge to clean my house, when I should be dealing with an issue head on I prefer to chat it over with several girlfriends first, and when I need to kick a habit I find a valid reason to put if off for another week or two.

The reason? Because we all like to fight the system. We all want to throw caution to the wind and find our own path, this trait is inbuilt into the human race. We all think we know best and sometimes go to lengths to prove it, sometimes we straight up can’t be bothered to deal with what is in front of us.

Just do it.

Impulsiveness can be a blessing and a curse, for those who don’t think things through, they will know only too well how it feels to come out the other side more than a little bruised after jumping in with both feet. Our gut isn’t always as reliable as we like to think it is. But our God is.

In Deuteronomy 1:6-7 we read about the Israelites who are circling a mountain. This mountain, Mount Sinai, was a barrier to the Promised Land that God has given them. He has already led them out of Egypt with miracle after miracle, He has literally held their hands and gone ahead of them as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He has talked directly to the Israelites through Moses, providing guidance, wisdom, food and water. Yet here they are again, facing a mountain and needing a miracle. They did not know how to confront it or overcome it, and rather than turning to God they turn to each other doubting, complaining and second guessing the One who brought them here.

I can relate to this. The Israelite people were tired. They had just escaped slavery, they had been travelling a long time, they had lost many of their own, and they were probably just about ready to collapse. Sure, they wanted the promises of God, but they weren’t ready physically or emotionally to proclaim His goodness and faithfulness. Despite the tangible presence of the Lord and the miracles they had witnessed with their own eyes, the final leg of the journey to the Promised Land seemed impossible, and the Israelites faltered. Mistake number 1.

To appease them Moses sent scouts ahead to scope out the land. The scouts came back, arms brimming with produce they had found, and eyes wide from all they had seen, yet the people didn’t see the produce or remember the promise. They heard the details of giants living in the land and fear struck their hearts. The Israelites doubted that God could both provide and protect His people and they immediately started complaining.
Mistake number 2.

God was angry with the Israelites and what should have been an 11 day journey turned out to be a 40 day wander in the wilderness.

Procrastinating got the Israelites nowhere fast, literally. They faced more battles, mores losses, more pain, more fears and more tears the long way round, whereas if they had just trusted God they could have hopped up and over that mountain and stepped into the promises that God had already orchestrated for them.

Half of our battle today is that we cannot see what is over the horizon, we only focus on the craggy peaks in front of us. Yes, there are mountains that we must climb, yes there will be slips and stumbles along the way, but if you God says just do it,

Just do it.

We need to be confident that the God who has His eye on the sparrow has His eye on us. He won’t let a single small bird fall to the ground, and He won’t let you fall either. He wants to spare you the wilderness walk and instead He wants to take your hand on lead you over the threshold. And the beauty of trusting God is that with when you reach with your hands He will reveal the next hand hold, when you push up off your feet He will reveal the next foot hold.

One step at a time.

If you are currently camped out at the foot of your mountain, it is time to pack up, move out and move on. Stop staring at the problem and start stepping in to your promise, and if you cannot see the promise for yourself, trust that God has already set it up and He is waiting for you to step up.

R

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