Faith, Lifestyle

He who holds the stars

Are you a perennial planner? A self confessed striver? Busily plotting your life to the nth degree then panicking when things take a detour? Yup me too.

I like to know where I am headed, what I need to do to get there and how long it will take. But so often this doesn’t take into account God’s opinion on the matter.

Our future is something we obsess over, yet we so easily forget that the One who flung the stars into space has our life in His hands. We hope, but He HOLDS. We try but He TRIUMPHS.

We hope, but He holds. We try but He triumphs.

Funnily enough God has been whispering this into my soul over the last few weeks and months but today at church I felt like He sealed it in for good.

Our current sermon series is all about Peter, and today we looked at the last time he met Jesus after the resurrection. Jesus had told Peter that he would be the rock on which Jesus would build the church, yet Peter had denied Jesus three times. We pick up the story where Jesus is risen, but hasn’t visited the disciples in a while. Peter is sat in his fishing boat, heart heavy and head in hands after a long and unsuccessful night of fishing. He must have been thinking to himself, “What now? I thought I would be a great fisher of men, yet I can’t even catch a fish. I let Jesus down and everyone know it.”

It can be so easy to beat ourselves up when things don’t turn out as we planned. So often we get despondent and downhearted, but this isn’t what Gods wants for us.

There is no point trying to know every turn and plan every step. That is not faith.

There is nothing to gain when we do things in our strength. But God’s gets all the glory when we let Him take over.

We are called to follow Jesus, to watch where he walked and place our feet in those footprints. Why follow Jesus? Because we can trust Him. Our happiness is His priority and He will take excellent care of us.

He who holds the stars will hold our hand. He always has and always will.

So wherever this finds you today, won’t you stop and be still. Stop striving and start living, because Jesus didn’t die so you could find your future. He died so you could find freedom. And that my friend, is a gift that you can enjoy right here, right now.

R x

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Faith, Parenting

The letter I wish I had read as a new mom

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Dear beautiful,

Congratulations! You have joined the prestigious, bleary eyed, milk stained, caffeine fuelled club that is motherhood.

Firstly I want to tell you to enjoy these precious few moments as a brand new family.

Ignore the phone, wave off visitors and bed down with your baby. Cherish each gurgle, each smile, each milestone. Hold your baby. Yes, I mean ignore the do-gooders who advise you not to carry them too much in case you spoil them, there is such a thing as the fourth trimester and baby-wearing has proven benefits for both mother and baby in these first few weeks. You don’t see 14 year olds being carried by their moms. This phase will pass as your child grows too big for you to carry so jolly well make the most of it now.

Your role as a mother will not define who you are.

This is an important statement for you to hold on to when you are knee deep in nappies and can’t remember the last time you looked in a mirror, much less brushed your hair. You are more than a cook and bottle washer, more than a cleaner and laundry attendant. You are an independent woman who is strong, confident, accomplished and gifted, no matter how you may doubt and question yourself. Can I really do this? Can I ever be good enough? Am I qualified? The answer to all these questions in God is yes. If He has called you to it He will bring you through it.

Rather than breaking new ground in ministry, just getting dressed and brushing your teeth is your greatest mission right now and that is OK. Your girlfriends are your world and social media helps you stay connected to fellow moms who are going through the same stages as you. These wonderful women that you have so much in common with will be the lifeline you need to sustain you through sleepless nights and tantrum-filled days so invest in your relationships even if only through midnight whatsapp messages and mid feed tweets.

Make your motions effect your emotions.

There will be days when you want to flop in a heap and sob uncontrollably after six days straight of sleep deprivation, and this is ok, but remember this too shall pass. Allow the hormonal (and non hormonal) emotions to wash over you but don’t wade in the waters of self pity. Ride that tidal wave like a boss and get yourself to the shore asap with positive attitudes and a lot of prayer. Also don’t take things to heart when your worries or opinions are not received the way you would like. You have a tendency to wear your heart on your sleeve a little too much so why not protect it and keep some things just between you and God. He knows your heart, He knows your desire to be loved, accepted and to belong which is why He sought you out to become a daughter of the King, part of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is also the reason He gave you a great marriage, a husband who knows you intimately and loves every part of you. A strong man who will uphold you and strengthen you in every area, a man who has got your back. Open your heart to him and to God first.

In the years to come you will face trials and tribulations but you will never be alone. God is with you, He is for you and He has gone ahead of you. You will overcome redundancies, health scares and depression. You will rise above doubts and dilemmas, bad decisions and bad behaviour. You will learn the difference between being a friend and being faithful and your personal faith will reach levels you never dreamed of.

Take courage and stand tall, the future is bright, you just need to believe it and grab it with both hands.

R

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Faith, Parenting

Mental health matters

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If I had a pound for every time someone said to me ‘I’m fine, don’t worry about me, don’t make a fuss or I don’t want to be a burden’ I would be a rich woman. In our modern day society that screams ‘I can do it all, all alone’, it is deemed weak or bothersome to require help, support or assistance. We are all supposed to be able to live blissful independent lives, juggle the demands of work/family/life, breeze through deadlines and ill-health and laugh in the face of adversity. Why? Because isn’t that what everybody else does?

Mental health affects one in three people in the UK each and every year, and perhaps because it is an ‘unseen’ affliction that is rarely talked about, it can cause the sufferer to feel even more isolated and misunderstood. To avoid being judged (or avoided) individuals often learn pretty quickly to stand on their own two feet, smiling wide in a defiant display of positivity and independence that belies the turmoil rising underneath their cool calm exterior.

I have always been fiercely independent, to a fault at times, and the first time that I truly realised I could not cope without help was after the birth of my second son. I am not talking about practical help, although this is beyond valuable to new parents who are wading through sleepless nights, sore nipples and soiled nappies, I am talking about mental, emotional support from others. Five weeks in to motherhood for the second time and I found myself sitting on my bed at my mother in laws sobbing as I stared at my new baby. I knew within a matter of days after having him that something wasn’t quite right with me, but I simply kept putting it down to long days with two boys and even longer nights with a newborn.

On the outside I was my normal, bubbly self. I got up, got dressed, put on my make up and went out to face the world with a smile on your face. But on the inside I was dying, confused that I wasn’t enjoying these precious first weeks and terrified as to why. I kept going to toddler groups with my then 3 and a half year old son, nodding and smiling in all the right places as friends cooed over my newborn, when all I wanted to do was to grab someone – anyone – by the shoulders and say can you help me? can you take my boys for an hour so I can get some sleep? can you explain why I just want to run away?

It wasn’t until five months in that I was diagnosed with post natal depression. The overwhelming relief I felt at the doctors words were overshadowed by the shame and stigma that I felt at being labelled as having a mental health issue. I mean, how would I tell other people? What would my family and friends think of me, bubbly, outgoing Rachel who had been going about her normal life without so much as a word of the struggles she was facing, suddenly announcing a mental health condition? So all of a sudden I had gone from capable mom to mentally ill mess that needed medication and support? Moreover, what did I say about my faith in Jesus Christ, that I could have my world rocked so completely whilst claiming to be clinging to the rock of my salvation?

Some of these days were my darkest, yet God never left my side once. As soon as I had been diagnosed He gave me peace about taking medication to rebalance my topsy turvy hormone levels, He showed me that my mastitis and subsequent failure to produce breast milk was necessary in order for me to take the medication that would help me rekindle that spark in my soul again. And rekindle it did. But God needed something else from me, He needed me to share my struggle. He told me right from the start that I need to tell everyone who would listen about my PND, in order to raise the awareness of depression and lift the taboo of talking about it.

Over 2 years on, I am completely depression free and passionate about talking about mental health issues, especially PND. I will happily recount my tales to new and expectant moms, not to frighten them but simply to help them know that PND is not a weakness, it does not make you a bad mom, it is no respecter of age or circumstance, and it can affect ANYONE. My boys were both planned and wanted, born into a loving family with everything they could ever need. I was a positive, outgoing Christian woman, supported by an amazing husband, my family and a network of beautiful friends at my church Renewal, yet I still suffered with it.

Why would God make me go through this you may ask? I have pondered the same thing over the last two years, and then I started to notice that God was bringing many people into my life who had suffered with or were still battling a mental disorder of their own. I don’t write this to glorify me in any way, or suggest that I had any expertise in the diagnosis or treatment of mental health, but what I did have to offer those who crossed my path was empathy. What I could do was understand to some small degree how hard and how lonely it can be fighting a battle in your mind, how embarrassed and ashamed you can feel when labelled with a mental illness and how draining it can be to endure the rollercoaster ride of emotions and feelings each and every day.

I don’t pretend to have any answers. I don’t claim to have the solution to your specific problems, but what I can offer is a welcoming embrace and a friendly face. Seeking professional help is essential, but I would also urge you to seek God. He created you. He knows your innermost being and this situation you find yourself in is no surprise to Him. Just as you would consult the Haynes manual for your car, we need to consult the human handbook, the Bible. You can find peace in God’s promises in the Bible. This book has the power to transform your life and is truly the Haynes manual for every human on the planet.

You are unique, exquisite and valuable. God has a purpose and a plan for your life and He can and will work any circumstance out for good. He can make beauty out of ashes, He can give you peace in your prison and He can give you freedom in your frustration.

For I have not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV

The battle for your mind is a real one, and so we need to make sure that we fill it with God’s word, His truth and His promises.  Paul said in Philippians;

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philippians 4:8-9 The Message

If you are battling depression or any mental illness, or know someone who is, then fear not my friend. God is with you, He has gone before you and He will bring you out of whatever situation you are facing today. Get into His word today and allow Him to shape your tomorrow.

R

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Faith

Strengthen your core

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Running is hands down (or perhaps feet down!) one of my favourite ‘me moments’. It is when I get to pull on my trainers, put in my headphones and tune out the rest of the world for 40 minutes or so, a time when I am no longer wife, mom, leader, writer but just me. In the past year I have taken steps to improve my health and fitness more seriously through running and I have come to love these moments of solitude, not least because in the absence of other distractions this is often the time where God meets me to drop some little pearls of wisdom into my journey.

Today was no exception.

As I ran up the hill alongside some shop fronts, I caught sight of my reflection in the window panes on my left and my reflection surprised me. I had not long started out on my run, and although heading uphill, I felt I was running strong, head up, arms and legs pumping but my reflection suggested otherwise. As I glanced across I saw that shoulders were sloped, my back rounded and my feet were far from flying high above the ground as I had imagined. I instantly pulled myself up, drawing my tummy in to my spine, rolling back my shoulders and lifting my knees higher to resume the running style I had mistakenly believed I was running all along, and guess what? It was much harder work!

You can run as many miles as you want, but unless your core is strong you are not using your muscles correctly to maximise your workout, God whispered into my spirit.

As this revelation dropped into my heart, I was quite stunned by the simplicity of God’s message yet its sheer importance in our lives. Sure you can run 10k, that’s great, but if you don’t engage your core muscles correctly then you will not engage the rest of your musculo-skeletal system, and will therefore not achieve the maximum fat burn and muscle growth you hoped for. In fact, not only will your fitness improvement plan take longer, but you can actually hamper it by running with incorrect form and posture as this puts additional strain on your body and can result in long-term injury.

That’s how it is with us in our spiritual lives. We can attend church, sing praises to God every Sunday and we can hang on the preacher’s every word during the sermon, amen-ing in all the right places, but unless we have a personal core faith in Jesus, strengthening us daily, we will not be running right. After the Sunday service, our posture will be gradually slipping a little more each day, those slumped shoulders struggling under the weight of our circumstances, those feet flailing as we try to find secure footing on uncertain paths, or the stitch of grief, depression or financial difficulties crippling us as we reach for the next milestone in our journey.

Faith in Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to our Father God in heaven. But it is not just enough to believe in Him, we need to know Him, walk with Him, talk with Him and read God’s word. God wants us to have a relationship with Him but He knew we could never live a perfect life, and this is why He sent His only Son, Jesus, to earth to die for us so that we could be made right with God and come to Him as His forgiven sons and daughters.

But there is someone else fighting for your attention. Someone else who wants you distracted, depressed, demoted during your time on this earth. Whether you like it or not, the devil is real, he is an enemy and he will spin you every line in the book in order to avert your eyes from the one who made you. God knows that we are weak, however He promises that in our weaknesses He is strong. Jesus himself was tempted by the devil and so He knows the power and pain of the enemies lies. But Jesus also knows the awesome power and sovereignty of His Father in heaven, and so He overcame the devil.

And Jesus knew He could rely on this power and authority in heaven because His core was strong.

From an early age Jesus devoured the scriptures until they were written on His heart, He talked with His heavenly father day after day and He was obedient and faithful so that He would always be strong. And we can do the same. We need to get fit and strong, both physically and spiritually to endure the twists and turns of life and not crumble every time a curve ball gets thrown at us.

Paul summarises this brilliantly in 1 Corinthians 9;

“So I run with purpose in every step, I am not just shadow boxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.” 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 NLT

Each of us has a God-given purpose and destiny on this earth. We are not here just to enjoy the ride of life, we have a job to do during the race of life. If we want our physical bodies to be strong we need to train hard, bear weight and keep correct form and the same is true of our spirit. We cannot build muscle without putting pressure and strain on our muscles, and so to improve our core faith and relationship with Jesus we will have to endure hard times that force us to rely upon Him even more. In order to run the race of life strong, resisting temptation, overcoming hurdles and achieving all that God has set out for us then we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and keep His word fixed in our hearts.

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired and young men will find exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31 NLT

Do you feel like you are struggling on your journey? Feel that the load is just too much to bear? Don’t panic and don’t give up. This is your core strengthening exercises and your mind, body, soul and spirit WILL come out of this stronger, fitter and closer to God than ever before.

Let’s start that core work and get ready.

R

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Faith

Happy Dependence Day

a-declaration-of-dependence[1]Yes you read right, the title is not a typo on my part!

Across the pond, our fellow American friends (and many others scattered around the globe) are celebrating Independence Day, to commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on 4th July 1776.

The 4th July is a date very dear to my heart but for an entirely different reason. You see on the 4th July I publicly renounced my independence and ran headlong in to the arms of my Father in heaven.

I was baptised on the 4th July 2004 after finding Jesus in the May of that year. I was a broken young woman, fresh out of a long term relationship break up, suffering with low self-esteem and such doubts about who I was and what I was doing that shook me to my very core. I was miles away from home (The Midlands) living in St. Neots, Cambridgeshire, unable to drive and much less able to afford rail fares to visit family.

It was in my loneliness and desperation that my loving God met me. He saw a fragile heart that couldn’t bear to be handled any more, and He picked it up with such tenderness and held it close. He saw the tears streaming down my cheeks and wiped them away with His gentle hands and He carried me in His arms until I felt able to stand on my own two feet again.

Miss Independent was something of a motto for me back then as I had always felt that I need to prove myself, to be fiercely independent, reliant upon no body and no thing, for fear of being hurt, betrayed, let down or disappointed. I put on the persona that I needed no one and wasn’t afraid to let the whole world know it, but in reality I was desperate for love, for affection, for relationship.

I first experienced God through the love of a dear friend and colleague, Beckie Gilbert, who saw in me what I could not. As we got to know each other better, I found out she was a Christian and held a weekly bible study group called a ‘Cell Group’ in her home. Being curious (read nosey) about such a young, cool chick who was so passionate about church, I wanted to see what the group was all about and I eventually asked to attend her Cell groups and my first experience has stayed with me for life.

The members of the group were a mixed bunch of singles, divorcees, couples and parents that you would probably never put together, but they had one thing in common; this tangible faith that I could almost see shining out of them. Even as they talked, and made tea, and passed biscuits around, there was just something different about them. They just had ‘something’. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was, but it was attractive and I wanted it. We met each week and sang some worship songs (that felt weird initially!), then shared the highs and lows of our week, discussed the word and prayed together. I was encouraged to participate whenever I wanted to or simply sit and observe the meeting, and I felt so very welcomed into this group that I quickly opened up to them. I have never felt so completely and utterly loved, accepted and embraced just as I am by any other group of people in my whole life.

After a few weeks of going along to the Cell group I figured I had better go along to church to hear the message first hand as that is what we were discussing each week, and so I first stepped over the threshold of Open Door Church in St Neots and was overwhelmed by the presence of God. There was a lot I did not understand, and some things that I found pretty unnerving, such as the gifts of the Spirit, but what I did know was that this was a place of love, a place of goodness, a place of healing and restoration and ultimately a place for family. Open Door was part of New Frontiers, and I went on to attend the Start course, which is very similar to Alpha, for new Christians or people exploring the faith. Four weeks in to the eight week course and I just felt the proverbial penny ‘drop’. I got it. I believed that this Jesus was real, that He loved me and that He died for me, and I wanted to know more. I prayed the prayer of salvation with three beautiful friends and leaders in the church on the lawns outside the school building where we met each Sunday, and as we prayed the clouds broke and the sun shone down in the most glorious moment. I was saved!

Shortly after the course finished, the church was scheduling a water baptism Sunday and I was all in. To some, this may have been to fast, but I knew that this was the right thing for me and that I needed to do it there and then. I felt so peaceful about it, so ready and most importantly so excited! From first experiencing the love of Jesus through a cell group in March, to completing my Start course and surrendering my life to Jesus in May, I then sealed the deal with a publication declaration to the world that I belonged to God, that I was saved through the blood of Jesus in the July.

So the 4th July was, and still is, a big deal for me. It is the day that I said to the world, I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to walk with Him, to rely on Him, to trust in Him and to serve Him with all that I am. I am no longer trying to do it all my way, but rather yahweh, I don’t want to be Miss Independent, but instead am proud to be dependent on the one who made me. 11 years on I am still learning, but wow, how Jesus has transformed my life!!

If you haven’t met Jesus yet, I encourage you to attend an Alpha course at your local church. Meet Christians, ask questions and most importantly ask God! Pray to him, you don’t need a theology degree to open you heart and your mouth and ask Him “God are you there? Are you listening? Do you care about me?” I guarantee He will answer you, He will speak to you through His word, through a song on the radio, through whispers in to your spirit. All you have to do is ask.

R

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Faith

Bindweed and the Bible

The devil loves nothing more than to see lukewarm Christians bimble through life.

He loves it when he see’s God’s very own children pay no regard to the power and authority that is in them through Christ Jesus. The devil needs to do very little to keep the Kingdom from growing, other than to distract us from the truth of our true calling and bombard us with lies, lusts and to do lists, because as long as you and I are busy doing the demands of life then we can’t be busy being in the presence of God.

God reminded me of this today, as I was pottering around tidying up my garden. After a spot of lawn mowing and fence painting I went to empty the grass cuttings at the back of the garden when I discovered my son’s tricycle completely smothered in bindweed.

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The tricycle couldn’t have been there for more than two or three weeks and I was quite taken aback by the rate at which this plant had taken over the whole frame, winding several of its vines tightly around each handlebar, each pedal, each wheel. As I tugged at the tricycle in order for my son to have a ride, the vines held firm and that’s when God spoke to me.

“The tricycle represents your freedom Rachel, this is the vehicle given to you through faith in Jesus that enables you to move forward, to travel further than you could imagine to experience more of your God-given life and destiny. The bindweed snaking its way around every part of the tricycle represents the things of this world that distract you from Me and My Word. These things stop you from reading the Bible and exercising your faith by keeping you busy doing other things or causing you to doubt your freedom in Christ.”

In the Bible, Jesus himself said; “If the Son sets you free then you are free indeed” John 8:36 NIV. 

Freedom in Christ means that you are no longer bound by circumstances or bad habits, you are no longer trapped in sin or repetitive patterns of destructive behaviour, and you are not deceived by the lies of the enemy. He no longer has the power to twist his vines of self loathing, self-pity, selfishness or sinfulness around the handlebars of our lives because “Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

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Interestingly, most of the things that limit us from discovering and exercising our true potential in Christ are everyday habits, thought patterns or recurring sins that we deem harmless or think we have under control. I knew that the bindweed was there, yet I didn’t expect it to take over the tricycle quite so fast nor so completely. The Bible warns us that out of that the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45 NIV and so we need to be so very aware of what we watch, read, and fill our minds with as before we know it, it can invade every area of our thinking, attitudes and actions.

The Bible says that the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, (John 10:10 NIV) but he often creeps up oh so quietly, and wearing such a clever disguise that we never even see him coming. He will use that obsession over the latest celebrity news, or that desperation to fit in one more episode of Eastenders before you go to bed. He will delight in those hours you spend poring over Pinterest and Facebook, he will relish the extra 10 minutes snooze in bed, because as long as your focus is on these things it is not on the Word of God. Please don’t misinterpret me, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with these things I just mentioned, however when they start to take precedence over your time with God and reading His word, then you could have a potential problem.

The Bible is frequently described as a mighty double-edged sword and whether you realise it or not, the devil knows that God’s Word is powerful. He also knows that as a Christian, who has invited Christ in to your own heart, you have the authority in Him to wield this sword for yourself and do lasting damage to the devil’s schemes as you speak truth in to situations in your world. With a Bible in your hand, and God’s promises in your heart, you have the power to change the world, one person at a time, and the first person to change is you. Let God’s Word penetrate your heart, ask Him for a passion to read the Bible so that it would become the first thing you read and the last thing you think about each and every day. Allow His words to wash over you like a soothing balm, to correct you when you need discipline, to guide you when you feel lost and to restore your faith when you feel out of control. But most importantly, allow it to give you true freedom, so that you move forward into your God-breathed destiny.

If you are feeling trapped by the bindweed of sin or unhelpful habits in your life, use the Bible to cut it down. Cut back the vines of obsession, coveting, jealousy and distraction, pull up the roots of bitterness and unforgiveness that are holding you back, and cling to the promises of God

“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 

Clearing the vines away from your life to free your heart and mobilise your faith is not always easy, but a problem shared is a problem halved, so talk to someone and ask them to pray with you. When Jesus said that the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, He also added the following beautiful statement:

But I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10 NIV)

If you don’t know Jesus yet and you would like to know more about having life and living it to the full, then please know that He is just a prayer away. Contact your local church for more information and if you prayed that prayer for the first time today please comment so I can congratulate you, welcome you to the family of Christ and most importantly pray for you!

R

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Faith

No man is an island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.

~ John Dunne

It always amuses me that God likes to speak to me on my morning run. It makes perfect sense when I think about it, as this is probably one of the few times in the day that I am not running around after little people or being distracted by a mountain of housework.

Island NestWhilst I was running I spotted this lovely little moorhen sitting on her nest, right smack bang in the middle of the canal. I was struck by the thought that she obviously thought that this was the safest place for her brood as it was nowhere near the canal walls where predators might sneak up on her, however her location left her terribly exposed and isolated.

That’s exactly what people do every day, God whispered into my heart. My children bear terrible trials, pain, loss and heartache through life, being hurt by others around them, or from predatory people who want to bring them down or abuse them. So, war-torn, and battle-scarred by their previous experiences, my beautiful sons and daughters choose to exclude themselves from everyone, including me, they put barriers around their hearts and moats around their lives so that no one can get in. However, when they do falter, when they are lonely and when they do need help, they are so far removed that no one can or will reach out to them.

My heart pounding, I wondered what on earth I could do to help those who have become an island, who have shut out the world, who have rejected love in favour of battening down the hatches to prevent further heartache. God simply said; Love them.

This extract from the poem by John Dunne beautifully illustrates the words of Jesus, who said that we are the body of Christ and we each have a role and a function to play in the kingdom of God. We were created to be in relationship with one another, to be in a community that shares life events and every day moments, not live out solitary lives.

As Christians we are called to live such a life, and to attract and invite others to be a part of it. The best way to show others that we are followers of Jesus? Put on love. Love others, forgive others and speak well of others. By loving the unlovely, the unloved, the unlovable, we will start to break down barriers and build bridges that will lead them to the one who IS love, God in heaven. He will protect and uphold them like no one else can.

Remember, no man is an island:

“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.

And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough!

Two in a bed warm each other.
Alone, you shiver all night.

By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

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Faith

Don’t be deceived

This was my run buddy on the canal this morning. A familiar site on my route that got me thinking as God whispered into my heart today.Heron

The heron stands so still that you would be forgiven for mistaking it for a statue, so majestic you would think it was a peaceful non threatening bird, however when the time is right he strikes. That magnificent beak becomes a terrifying sword piercing the unsuspecting fish below, his slim smooth body unfurls to reveal a vast wingspan that can outrun and overwhelm its prey.

The devil can be heron like in our lives. He stands very still watching and waiting while we rush by getting on with every day life. If we aren’t vigilant the devil will sneak in and stand on the sidelines of our life, ready to pounce when we least expect it or when we are at our weakest. Perfectly camouflaged, he will tempt us away from the narrow path of following Jesus with sin and deceive us with distractions. You may think you are ‘doing good things’, busy doing every day life however your busyness is taking your focus off the one who made you, and if there is one thing that the devil delights in it is distracting Christians’ attention away from Christ.

How do we keep from becoming his next target? Keep our eyes open and get into a connect group, home group or life group where others can watch your back. The Bible states:

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. (‭Philippians‬ ‭2‬:‭4‬ NLT)

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

We will all trip up, wander off the path slightly during our walk with God, which is why God designed humans to be in relationship with one another. Jesus said we as the church are the body of Christ, all with different roles that must operate in unity to function properly, and if this is the case then we need to be concerned if the hands or feet or mouth start heading in the wrong direction.

Watch out for your friends and examine your own walk with God. Don’t let sin slip in unnoticed in your life, what may seem harmless can become an obsession or an addiction that draws you away from Jesus, not closer to him. Don’t allow the devil to distract you with worldly attitudes or attributes that take your focus away from Jesus. Get connected with a group of like minded believers who will have your back and help keep you on the straight and narrow.

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