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

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, Lifestyle

Consuming content or choosing content?

Staying home has meant more time on our hands. We are scrolling more, reading more and watching more. But what are you watching?

God has been really speaking to me out of Proverbs 31 and I wanted to share some thoughts from verse 27 with you.

She carefully watches over everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness ~ Proverbs 31:27 NLT

She carefully watches. She watches what is going on in her home, what her children are watching, what they are watching her watching.

Over the last two weeks I have found it so easy to mindlessly scroll, reading reports that bring fear and despair, watching programmes that make me angry or on edge. What we watch has an impact on our soul.

Jesus said “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body.” What He meant by that was that we need to be mindful of what we look at. Be careful what we watch, because we cannot unsee something we have seen. The truth is the world is a scary place right now. But rather than consume content which further heightens our anxiety, we need to choose content that fills us and builds us.

The dictionary tells us that the noun content is a thought, a subject, or subject matter. Content can be a burden; as we consume it it can sit heavily in our hearts, dominate our thoughts. Jesus doesn’t want us to hold these burdens, He wants us to exchange them for His peace. But even more than that He promises to show us how.

Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fighting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly Matthew 11:29-30.

I won’t lay anything heavy on you or ill-fitting on you.

There is a lot of heaviness in the world, but we aren’t called to hold it. There is a lot of darkness in the world but we don’t have to be a part of it. If the eye is a lamp to our body then we need to make sure that what we are watching floods our soul with light not darkness. Watching movies and scrolling Facebook isn’t the problem, but what we are looking at can be.

As Christians, we can choose to be content despite the chaos. To choose to be still when the storms rise around us. But to do that we need to be carefully watch everything in our household.

R x

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Faith, Lifestyle

Speaking from Faith or Fear?

The threat of lockdown is now a reality. The ‘what ifs?’ are ‘what nows?’, and suddenly we are faced with a endless sea of uncertainty stretched out before us.

While I was doing my house work today, I noticed areas that had been overlooked for too long; cobwebs in corners and dust gathered in dark places. As I began to clean, God spoke to me so clearly and downloaded a message in my heart. He challenged me, as I was ‘keeping house’ at home and asked me what I was doing to keep house in my heart. What areas in my soul were dusty, what habits need to be addressed and what attitudes need to be swept out?

Proverbs 31 talks about a godly woman, and God drew me to verses 25-26; She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.

I know I haven’t spoken with kindness this week. Fear and frustration have crept in and I have snapped. I have spoken harshly and made curt demands over kind instruction. It is easy to get fearful in this current climate. Coronavirus is sweeping the world and taking not just freedom, but finances, friends and family members. It threatens to devastate hundred of thousands of households physically, financially and emotionally. Yet we know that God is greater than any virus, and we know that God did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity but of power, love and self-discipline. 2 Tim 1:7

We need to dive into God’s word and spend time in His presence to be filled with faith for this season.

We need to practice being in His presence to be filled with faith

When I start to feel overwhelmed by the news reports, I need to turn to God’s report. I need to open my Bible and open my heart, and let the Holy Spirit fill me up so that I have faith to face the day. This needs to be a daily practice. Jesus knew this when He walked the earth and that’s why He modelled it for us by setting aside time to pray each day.

When we spend time in prayer and worship we are changed. We are clothed with God’s strength so we can laugh with no fear of the future. God’s love pours into us and flows through us, so we can better respond to news and better relate to others. When we are filled with faith we can better lead our families.

Take a few minutes today to consider how you are feeling, to consider what you are saying online and to those in your home. If you are overwhelmed, angry or frustrated you are likely speaking from a place of fear. Don’t worry, Jesus loves you too much to leave you that way. Hey into the word and into His presence and ask Him to fill you afresh so you can speak from faith.

R x

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Faith, Lifestyle, Music

My weapon is a melody

I was about 9 or 10 years old when my Nan bought me a guitar. I wish I could say this one pictured was my beloved original but it got left behind when I left Welwyn Garden City many moons ago.

I still remember sitting on my bed at my Nan’s house, learning chords and writing my own songs. My Nan loved country music and I think I fancied myself as a British Dolly Parton.

I lost music for a while, but in 2004 when I first stepped into church and heard worship, I fell in love with it all over again. As I sat in the rows of plastic chairs circling a school stage, I was immersed in the most beautiful sounds – melodies, harmonies, keys, strings, percussion. I was drawn in to the sound of worship and the presence of God surrounded me. It was something that I wanted more of, and when I moved to a different church two years later I joined the worship team as a singer.

Music is my me-time with Jesus


Music is so much more than just a hobby. To me it is my escape, my ‘me-time’ with Jesus. It is where I can feel close to God and truly free. I have turned to worship in celebration and in sorrow, in fear and in faith. The words I sing to lift Jesus higher would life me also.

In recent years mental health issues meant that I couldn’t sing a single note, but I could play. So I would pick up my guitar or lay my fingers on the piano keys and just let my soul pour out.

As I played I prayed. And my praise began to break through the darkness, break strongholds off my life, and break into areas of my heart that had been shut off for too long.

Praise brings breakthrough


I am living proof that praise brings healing and it brings hope. I am living proof of a loving God and over the last sixteen years worship has played an integral part in my life. Certainly at times, the lyrics ‘my weapon is a melody’ have never been more apt. Now I get to wield my weapon with a smile on my face instead of tears.

If you don’t know how to pray, or what to pray, can I encourage you to put on some worship music? YouTube, Amazon Music and Spotify are full of incredible artists including some of my favourites Kari Jobe, Natalie Grant, Lauren Daigle, Bethel, Hillsong and more. Let the music play and the let the Holy Spirit move.

R x

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Faith, Lifestyle

Christians and Climate Change

Yesterday I had the greatest privilege of attending the Live Lent launch at Lambeth Palace. I was invited by The Church of England to learn about the climate crisis and how we can step up to make a change.

As a family we actively work to reduce our waste and recycle wherever possible, but I have never thought about the importance of bringing my faith into the future of our planet.

Faith and our future

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby chaired a panel discussion with Christians who were passionate about sustainable living, serving Jesus and preserving the planet that God has given us. This Lent, he urges the wider church to step up and start fighting against climate change.

The climate crisis

I was humbled and challenged to learn that our world is heading for a three degree climate change by 2050. This rising temperature will lead to heatwave summers as standard, increased flooding due to hotter, humid conditions and catastrophic conditions for millions of people. Those in already warm climates face prolonged extreme weather, which can lead to failed crops, lack of food resources and adversely affect geopolitical systems.

This is more than just being a degree or three hotter, the climate crisis is a global emergency that we must take action on now.

Justin Welby shared how The Church of England will lead the way in the net zero campaign, to end carbon emissions, by reducing carbon emissions across their churches by 100%. He stressed the importance of climate prevention rather than church preservation, and it was encouraging to hear that The Church are tackling the climate crisis head on.

Creation and the Creator

Perhaps one of the messages that struck a chord with me was the passionate speech given by panel member Ali Angus from St Leonard’s, Streatham. She implored is to take our faith into conversation into the climate crisis because loving our neighbours looks like loving the environment they are in.

Loving our neighbour looks like loving the environment

We are made from the earth, formed by a Creator to live in and live off the land. Without the planet, we cannot survive and we need to look after the one we have been given.

After the panel discussion, we had an eventful Eucharist, which, due to a fire alarm, was finalised on the law a of Lambeth Palace. Ruth Valerio spoke warmly of her revelations when writing her book Saying Yes to Life, sharing how in scripture, God is in every single detail of nature, from the birds in the air to the deer crouching down to give birth.

We were challenged that as Christians, maybe we have separated the creation from salvation, yet the Bible is actually a huge nature book. With so many details of creation recorded in scripture, it makes sense that as His children, God would call His sons and daughters to protect it.

What can we do?

This year we will see the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) where decisions will be made for our planet’s future. What we do now as a people will determine the kind of life our children lead, and the kind of world they grow up in.

Now is the time to petition and pray for our politicians. We need ambitious and bold plans from the UK government on climate change. Current plans still lead to a 3.2 degree increase across the world. Aiming to halve this at the very least could help, but will still be disastrous for many.

The only real solution is to end carbon emissions and stop global warming.

This seems like an impossible task but we can all do something.

We can rise up as the Church, with one voice, to pray for our MP’s.

We can implore and encourage our government to bring forward policies on transport, heating, energy and diet.

We can vote with our feet by not using plastics.

We can choose zero carbon travel to reduce our footprint.

We can reduce waste and recycle wherever possible.

We can restrict consumption of animal products.

We can buy ethically sourced and fair trade items.

We can educate our children on the beauty of God’s creation and why we must do everything in our power to protect it. This Lent why not take time to prayerfully consider Gods creation and pledge to make a change? There are some incredible resources available including Live Lent 40 day challenge booklets for adults and children.

We all have different spheres of influence and can each share what we are doing to change the climate crisis. Love is the greatest commandment, so let’s love our selves and our neighbours and the environment we are in, in order to save our precious planet.

Are you in?

R

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Faith

Set your sights in 2020

Sight is a gift. (Ask anyone who doesn’t have theirs and they will tell you so). To be able to see is something that we take for granted every single day. But there is a difference between having sight and seeing.

You have no doubt heard the term 20/20 vision a few times already this year, but do you know what it actually means? It is the term used to describe the clarity or sharpness of vision at 20 feet. If you have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at 20 feet. If you have 20/40 vision then you must be at a distance of 20 feet to see what someone with normal sight can see at 40 feet.

20/20 vision doesn’t equal perfect vision

It doesn’t take into consideration your peripheral sight, depth, ability to focus etc. You can still see without 20/20 vision, but your clarity isn’t as good.

I don’t have 20/20 vision, and I wear glasses every day to improve my sight. But physics sight isn’t the only thing I need improvement on.

Since becoming a Christian, I have wrestled so often with not knowing what’s ahead. As a believer I have given my heart to Jesus but my giving my head is not so easy. I want to trust Him while having complete control over the curveballs heading my way so that I can intercept them and manage them. I want to know where I am headed, so I can find the quickest, most direct route to get there.

But God isn’t in the habit of letting us see the full picture all in one go.

2 Corinthians 5:7 says that we should walk by faith and not by sight.

This has always been real hard for me. I like to be in control, but that is not my job it is God’s. It is therefore unsurprising to me that in my experience, that God has used the unexpected, the unknowns and the uncertainties to draw me closer to Him. More often than I care to admit, I have had to rely on the Holy Spirit showing me what is right and wrong. I have had to talk to Jesus and delve deeper into God’s word than ever before to find insight for the situation ahead.

Do you know that God doesn’t want you to have control?

Yep. That’s right. He doesn’t want you in control of your life anymore than you want your toddler in control of your car. In the wrong hands, a vehicle meant for driving can lead to our death.

God knows the plans He has for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future ~ Jeremiah 29:11

So does all this mean are we supposed to walk blindly? No. We are meant to walk with Jesus. He knows the Father’s heart, and He also knows the trials we face on this earth. Jesus wants to walk with us, to strengthen us and to equip us. He is not just a character in a book; He is the living breathing Son of God, who died for you and me and rose again from the dead.

We are not meant to walk blindly, we are meant to walk with Jesus

I am a recovering control freak. I like to know what’s ahead. I want to see what’s around the corner, but without spiritual insight I may as well be walking around with a blindfold on. Jesus is teaching me to trust Him, to take His hand and let His word illuminate the path. He didn’t say He would give me the road map, but He did promise to shine enough light for me to take the next step.

New Year is the perfect opportunity to change. But in order to see change you need to see things differently. It’s time to set our sights.

Can I encourage you today to get a spiritual sight test. Take off the tinted glasses that the world would give you. See things through the lens of the Holy Spirit and let Jesus be your guide.

R x

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Faith, Parenting

Learning lessons

At first glance this looks like a father and son moment; a lesson in handling a saw and managing a garden. The truth is it is a lesson in handling consequences and managing poor decisions.

Look closer at the picture, do you see the tree on the right? It has a huge branch torn off the trunk because my son swung on it and it ripped the tree.

That wasn’t just a tree, and the damage isn’t just a broken branch. That was my favourite tree, adorned with lanterns and bird feeders. It was special to me because it helped me manage my discontent in living in the city, it brought me such joy to seeing the wild birds hopping around in its branches and it provided shelter as we played in the garden

As a new homeschooler I am trying so hard to cultivate an environment of love and joy both in my garden and in my home, but I rarely seem to succeed of late. We have strong willed children who challenge us often and at the end of the a tough week this broken branch spoke of my broken my heart.

I knew parenting wouldn’t be easier but I never dreamed it would be so hard. I didn’t know how much it could hurt when your flesh and blood acts out. I want to fight for my children, not against them. I often wish I could ‘fix’ them, but perhaps this has more to do with my own iniquities rather than theirs.

I am not just a mom, I am a daughter of the King. And when I feel like I can’t, He can.

God created me to be a mama and He gave me these children to raise. I am going to need to learn some lessons of my own in raising my wildlings.

So today as I gather the remains of my beloved boughs, I gather my thoughts and give them to God. Time to go back to the Source to find our Selah. 

R x

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Faith, Lifestyle

When the waves rise

The skies are clear but my eyes are clouded. A storm rages in my soul. I feel torn in a million different directions, my heart beats I am staring at the waves rising around me and I want to run for high ground.

They say knowledge is power but the more I learn the more I wish I didn’t know. My head is filled with questions and my heart reels.

We are en route to the coast and these few days away with my tribe couldn’t be more timely. I feel like we need time to ponder and pray; to recharge and refocus. At home I am so busy looking at the waves that I forget to look at the One who walks upon them.

When the waves rise, look at the One who walks upon them

Family is everything to me. They are truth, consistency and unconditional love. They are ‘home’. I have craved unity and togetherness my entire life, searched for a place to belong. But the generation that was supposed to nurture and build up chose to tear down and destroy. Those we were supposed to follow didn’t speak love or truth and our hearts were left wanting with unanswered questions.

When it feels like your life is flooded with doubts and disappointment, where does that leave you? With empty hands and a broken heart.

Jesus loves making something out of nothing.

When we have nothing to give Jesus pours in love and peace. When we are hurting He brings healing. He gave the blind sight and He raised the dead to life.

In the beginning the Spirit hovered above the waters waiting to make his move, ready to command the waves to surge and recede.

If, like me, you have unanswered questions, if you feel the storm surrounding you and the waves surging, simply whisper “Spirit lead me”.

Just as the Holy Spirit waited with anticipation when God spoke the world into motion, he is ready and waiting to move today. Let Him still the storm and hold your hand, as you walk on the waters together.

R x

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