Faith

What does your bloodline say about you?

I love my parents. I had an unconventional, if slightly turbulent childhood at times however if it wasn’t for my Mom and Dad I would not be here today, and for that alone I am so grateful! The picture perfect family of a married couple and their 2.4 children are so rare they are practically on the endangered species list. A couple who have made it to ten years of marriage are hailed as heroes as the divorce rates rise in 21st century Britain, however it is for good reason and in extreme cases for safety that some couples choose to or are forced to separate.

Over my three decades on this earth, I have learned that there are so many men and women, boys and girls who have lived through parent relationship breakdowns, abuse, neglect and the resulting dysfunctional family unit. It is not the norm to live at home with mom and dad, much less to have a good solid relationship with either. Secrets, lies and heartache are central to more families than ever, and the cycle simply keeps repeating as hurt people hurt people and we perpetuate the past for generations to come.

If you are dealing with the secrets of your past, processing the scars of abuse that happened so many years ago or are agonising over the heartbreaking split of your parents, please know that I am not going to write and tell you to that everything is going to be OK and to move on and forget about it. Your past pain is very real and very valid. You have every right to feel sad, anxious, depressed or even angry about what has happened and I would urge you to seek professional help and counselling to process things fully in the right way.

However, I want you to know that you are not defined by your parental bloodline.

Your parents are human. Humans mess up. They have done ever since that fateful day in the Garden of Eden when Eve persuaded Adam to sample fruits that were not his to take. Please understand that I am not making excuses for those who have hurt you, whether they let you down, neglected you, hit you, abused you or did all of the above to you or the ones you love. The mistakes made by your parents are not yours. They are not your fault, nor are they your burden to carry. My friend, I want to tell you that although our lives are indeed shaped by the circumstances that surround us, they do not define us and we can choose to change our mindsets and direct our lives in a different direction.

Your biological mother may have abandoned you at birth, your earthly father may have favoured the local pub over time spent with his child but beautiful one, you have a supernatural, heavenly Father who loves you unconditionally, perfectly and completely. God created YOU in your mother’s womb, He knew every detail of you whilst you were formed and has not taken His eyes off you ever since.

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.” Jeremiah 1:5 NLT

‘You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.’ Psalm 139:13 NLT

Whether you know God or not, you have been bought by the precious blood of Jesus, who died on the cross for you. His death, His shedding of blood has given YOU a NEW BLOODLINE.

No longer are you known as the son or daughter of parents that failed you, if you accept what Jesus is offering – a relationship with God – you can have a new bloodline, a new heritage, with a perfect heavenly Father. You can be free of the guilt of your past, you can remove the shackles of shame that have bound you and kept you from experiencing a life lived to the full. Why? Because that it exactly why Jesus came to earth;

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 NIV.

I don’t want to belittle the burden you have carried during your life, I only mean to reassure you that there is a meaning and a purpose to your life regardless of the turbulent start or tumultuous journey you have faced. And the first step in discovering that purpose is surrendering your heart to Jesus Christ. I promise you, you will never regret it.

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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.

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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!

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