Faith, Lifestyle, Parenting

You are not alone

“Are you scared Mommy?” My wide eyed ten year old looked up at me from the sofa, where he has been watching the latest news unfold. I thought for a moment and took a deep breath before I answered him. I am a firm believer in telling our kids the truth, where appropriate, and I wanted to honour that while protecting my 6 and 3 year old who were also listening in.

Here is what I know; Covid-19 is gathering pace. The global pandemic is far from contained, and there is no telling what the true fall out will be in months and years from now. People are dying, grieving families are unable to mourn properly, and the elderly, infants, pregnant women and the infirm are facing months of solitary confinement. Right now we are facing some of the most challenging times in world history, with the government response being likened to a country at war. Only we are fighting an unseen enemy. The truth is, we have been fighting an unseen enemy since the beginning of time.

We have been fighting an unseen enemy since the beginning of time.

When the Devil was cast down from heaven, he made it his life’s mission to take us all down with him. He has been fighting tooth and nail, summoning all the powers and principalities to wage war against God and His children.

That means you.

You were created by God, for relationship with God and He loves you with every fibre of His being. Whether you believe in God is irrelevant, but you better believe that Satan believes in Him. The Devil is busy whipping up a perfect storm right now; stealing people’s joy, dripping doubts and fear into their every day and distracting them from God.

So what can we do? We need to be on our guard and we need to know what God says about adversity. Get in to your Bible, because lets face it the early Christians had their fair share of persecution, plagues and pestilence. We need to keep pressing in to Jesus, asking for guidance, praying for protection and resting in His peace.

Knowing Jesus isn’t going to guarantee you an easy ride. But when the storms come, it is far easier to keep putting one foot in front of the other when you fix your eyes on Him.

Peter and the disciples were facing the perfect storm; the waves rising, the boat capsizing. At first glance it looked like Jesus was doing nothing – He was asleep in the back of the boat! But when the disciples turned to Him and woke Him, He stood up and spoke to the storm. (Mark 4:35-41)

Jesus is in your boat, you just beed to ask Him to speak to the storm.

You may feel surrounded on all sides, you may see the water pooling at your feet, you may even feel the waves pulling you under. But look up, fix your eyes on Jesus and ask Him to speak.

Why did He let the storm happen? I believe that Jesus was giving the disciples a wake up call. He needed them to be shaken up to get their attention, and when they finally turned their attention to Him, His power could be revealed.

When our lives are shaken, our focus shifts.

Friends, Coronavirus is here and I believe that God wants to get our attention. The whole world is being shaken and we need to turn our attention to HIM. Am I scared? No, but we are facing scary times. We are fighting an unseen enemy, but please know that we are not fighting alone.

“The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Exodus 14:14

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Faith

Raised to life

Have you ever felt that your dreams have died? That your ideals have become nothing more than ideas? Have you ever felt so utterly forgotten and forsaken, and wondering what happened and where on earth you went wrong?

Mary and Martha must have felt the very same way when their brother Lazarus died. The three were dear friends to Jesus, and when Lazarus became sick, his faithful sisters Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus, knowing that He could heal him. But rather than come immediately, Jesus chose to stay where he was for a further two days and Lazarus died.

Mary and Martha must have been devastated and dumbfounded. Where was Jesus? Why had He left them? Why had He failed them?

When Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been in the grace for four days. He was already starting to decay. The sisters were speechless at Jesus apparent lack of concern and lack of action, yet they were about to witness His greatest miracle.

Jesus raised Lazarus to life.

He woke his friend from his sleep and returned him to his amazed and overjoyed family. Sure, healing Lazarus would have been a marvellous miracle in its own right, but raising him from the dead was a straight up supernatural event. Seeing the hopes and dreams of a life with Lazarus die before their eyes, only to watch Jesus breathe life back into their brother must have been the most life-changing, faith-affirming moment of their entire lives.

Last Sunday was my first day back on the worship team in 8 months. A lot can happen in 8 months. We sang a song called Raised to Life by Elevation Worship and as I reflected on the words, tears sprang to my eyes.

What does it mean to be raised to life? We might think of the literal translation of being raised from the dead like Lazarus, but as I pondered this phrase my spirit stirred. In order to be raised, something has to die. I am not talking about a physical death, but more the death of a dream, of an ideal.

You may have started 2018 too scared to dream at all. You may have arrived with dashed hopes, plans in tatters and a battered, bruised heart. I want to encourage you that if your dreams seemed to have died, if your ideals are seemingly impossible, just wait on the Lord. If they are the dreams and plans He has for you, He will give you a peace about your situation and lead you to something new. But maybe, just maybe, He is waiting in the wings, biding His time.

Because only when a dream is dead, can it be raised to life.

“Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” ~ Jesus
John 11:40 NLT

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Faith

Standing in the Son

There is nothing quite like feeling the sun on your face. It’s warmth radiating through your skin and across your body as you bask in the glorious rays peeking through the clouds.

Granted we don’t always see a great deal of it here in the UK, but when the sun does grace us with its welcome presence, Brits know to make the most of it. Suddenly there is a flurry of activity, picnics are packed, sun hats and swim suits are put on and people everywhere flock to their nearest park/open air pool/beach to soak up the sun.

I have to admire Brits for their tenacity. The sheer determination to capitalise on every last little bit of the warm weather, and their sheer grit to remain outdoors when the weather turns. But I can’t help wondering, if we are so captivated by the seasonal glow from the sun, how much more should we be captivated by the ever-present and eternal warmth from the Son?

Jesus came so that we could have life and live it to the full (John 10:10). We as humans were designed by God to have relationship with Him, to bask in His glory, not sit shivering on a beach in a t-shirt and shorts, towel wrapped around us, desperate to look like we are having the time of our lives whilst being in denial that we are experiencing a ‘proper’ summer.

Jesus didn’t just come to bring warmth, hope, love, forgiveness and freedom. He came so that we could feel His warmth, His love, His forgiveness personally, so that we could extend it to others. He came so that we could experience the joys of summer in our lives, in our hearts and in our relationships.

And the true beauty of the Son is He shines all year round.

The sun is an integral part of life on earth, without it we would cease to exist. Plants need the sun to grow, and guess what? So do we. When we are in the presence of the one true Son, Jesus Christ we will be refreshed, restored and renewed. We will find strength to face the day, stretch and grow our muscles of faith to climb that mountain and find renewed hope that with God anything really is possible. Jesus loves us and He is waiting for us to look up to Him, and feel His warmth on our face each and every day of our lives.

If you have found yourself in the middle of a storm lately, feeling downtrodden or downcast, look up for the Son and you will find that little ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds.

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