Finding Yourself

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God has His plans and purposes set out for us. We can think we are doing one thing and actually God is up to something else. I thought I was going through a mid life thing and have had a sense of discontentment for a couple of years. Great to know He had a plan to help.

On reflection I think I got lost in becoming who people want me to be. In a way I have been rejecting myself hence the discontentment.  The most helpful thing that has happened this year is my reconnecting to a long lost friend after eighteen years.

Three months later we ere on the plane to east Africa together.. This is the place where I connected with God twenty years ago and where I am still called. The Bible speaks about where your treasure is there your heart is too I certainly have a passion and love in my heart for the people in east Africa.

By taking my friend with whom I have a shared history I realised who I was again. I noticed  that I had become lost in being who people want me to be trying to fit in and avoid rejection. This trip I have been more my real self, laughing and joking ( not taking myself seriously) I felt free to worship God,dance, pray and speak from my heart when preaching than ever before.  I think there is an unspoken pressure to perform in modern society and that behaviour is unsustainable.

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Jesus invited people to follow Him as they were. Yes, the disciples were challenged and formed by hanging out with Jesus for three years. But I don’t sense a rule book when reading the gospels but a shaping of character through relationship with God in human form. Jesus accepts people unconditionally and draws out the true self.

I am a simple person who wants to pursue God 100% because I love Him. It’s as simple as that. I was born with a personality that is fun loving, kind and considerate person. Africa and the many friendships developed over the last twenty years have formed my relationship with God.

I have loved being in Africa with my friend and being able to laugh a lot and enjoy all Gods goodness in my life. I do sense a new beginning of being real with who I am. So thank you God for setting this up and thank you my friend for coming on the journey with me. If you feel lost ask God for help and let Him bring life to the lostness.

 

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Chapters in Life – Pages in a book

 

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Around every corner is a new horizon an opportunity or a choice to move in a new direction. It strikes me that in our lifespan we can have many chapters and those chapters are written from the story of you and I. Our ups and downs, people we encounter, places we travel too, family we have, locations we live in. Each twist and turn we make expands our life story.

In the book of Psalms 139:16 it is reflected that all our days are written out in Gods book.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” 

What amazes me about this is that God has a book and our days are noted in that book – how cool is that. That’s how much we are cared and loved by Him. However if there is a book it may have chapters. Those chapters may have sub chapters with interesting avenues to walk down in the ever-expanding story of our lives.

I think our stories are meant to expand and grow. The story of God in the Bible is one of growth and development with His love being shown to many generations. So as followers of such a person with an amazing story our lives are surely not meant to be narrow but rather be a reflection.

Each week we could look at our week as a fresh page in this exciting book being written. This grants us permission to turn the page of last week or begin a new chapter and close the last one. Even if we have had successes in the last chapter we may not want to bring those into the next. Growth, impact and creativity are the kind of words that conjure up possibilities to write a fun and inspiring life story.

So full steam ahead this week fill some fresh pages or start a new chapter. Embracing a change in our world enables others to get on the journey of change and transformation. Even Jesus spoke about the opportunities of change to His followers as He prepared them for His leaving

John 16:7 “but very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

 

 

 

Shaking the Tree

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When God starts doing a deeper work on the inside it can feel like being on roller coaster ride. You are thrown around different corners of faith facing difficult situations with no answers. What we knew to be true the day before is now in question. That’s when our faith feels like it is being shaken although right now I perceive humility is growing and a deep inner work only God can line up being achieved.

Rather than trying to get off the roller coaster I am choosing to go through the process, the Bible reminded me this week we are in actually in Gods hands being transformed For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” Ephesians 2:10, we only need to go with it.

Maybe it is only when the tree get shaken that we truly die to self to become selfless servants willing to go where God leads and function in what He appoints for us then we are being followers of Christ. Humility comes when we “place ourselves under Gods mighty hand then He can lift us up when ready” 1 Peter 5:6.

Can we turn a corner in our perceptions, find our feet again and somehow find God in the hidden shadows when the tree of faith gets shaken? I feel we can if we are prepared to wrestle with the reality and pain of what shakes the tree and return to the Bible to seek the answers. Times of hardship/ struggle /wrestle can shape our future and sometimes be the catalyst to open a brand new page in the story of our life.

God spoke to the people of Israel a long time ago when their tree had been shaken He said “you will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart, I will be found by you then I will bring restoration” Jeremiah 29:13 -14.

As we keep humility in focus and walk that path seeking God knowing we find him during the shaking of the tree of faith. Gods transforming work in us is for his handiwork to be seen by all. Then God is glorified and not us; humility at its best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s New

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What’s going to be new for you this coming year? I have a few loose ideas bubbling away but I wouldn’t call them resolutions. I do know what I don’t want to do anymore so you could say I am working to bring change in that way. A different life is often the focus of a New Year approaching. Many wish upon a star for something to change but by the time we get to the end of that year we look back and find we have lived life on repeat.

I am not so sure that New Years resolutions work unless you are a very strong goal orientated person; then you may be able to stick to it. Once you have achieved your new goal you will find you are still the same person – you have not changed at all. Trust me I was that person for many years. I did read a great quote this week that I loved and thought yes I can get my head around that “Be thankful for the gift of another year” by @womaninlondon.

I am currently trying to reframe my own perspective on situations I may find myself in. We normally desire change when we are not happy or think that happiness is something we have a right to everyday. The reality is maybe that we are not too sure what happiness is or what we even desire. We only know that what we have at the moment is not working for us hence we desire change and believe that a New Year has the power to bring that change about. Rather strange.

Rather than always be waiting for the future it maybe helpful to reframe the life we are living now. My faith is based in following the teachings of the Bible facilitates the concept of change as transformation of the person through a relationship with Christ. As a person is transformed fresh perspectives come into sight and we see situations change, fresh opportunities open up and so on held in the framework of eternal security through the relationship.

Primarily we change on the inside through the creative power of the Holy Spirit Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

I have come to the conclusion that life is not so much a box of chocolates but a jigsaw puzzle with many pieces full characters we encounter, places we will travel, situations we will face all of which make an interesting jigsaw picture of our life. Only when the final piece is fitted into place can you see the richness of your personal jigsaw.

Jesus beckoned men and women to follow him and so he could teach them his ways and thinking. He reframed their world and he is still beckoning people to himself today through His Holy Sprit wanting to enable people to live courageously. I would encourage you to let Him bring transformation to you though a powerful relationship rather than a powerless New Year. Don’t walk alone through life walk with God.

The cycle of mission and evangelism

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I never dreamed that God would take my life and use it do something incredibly good. However, as I read the Bible, I realised that God takes the most unexpected people and does amazing exploits. You don’t have to be the loudest one in the room to be an evangelist or preacher; you just need to see God’s lead and follow it.

I’m often asked, ‘How do we keep going in mission and evangelism?’ I have been-full on in frontline ministry for the last twelve years. There are amazing days and not-so-great days, as I’m sure everyone experiences. It’s really good and helpful, though, that we have a clear foundation for why we do what we do—especially on the less remarkable days.

There are seasons when we hear God’s calling coming to us. I was first awakened to this when I was eight years old, reading comics about missionaries preaching the gospel in distant countries. I remember thinking, ‘That’s what I want to do’. At 18, I was interviewed at a Bible college and was excited to start—but they said, ‘No’! You are not called, nor are you clever enough’.

The shock was immense, and I turned away from God and the church. I was angry and confused for ten years, as I was sure I’d heard God calling me. Ten years later, I recognized Him calling me again. I met a man who took me with a team to Africa and felt like I’d come home. In fact, on that trip, I preached for the first time and remembered those pictures from my comic. I’d started walking in my calling. I loved it. From this experience, I learned that when man shouts ‘no’, God maybe saying ‘yes’.

I eventually found a college that would accept me. Not that everyone needs to go, but I always felt led to study and participate in the community. During that time, I again felt God impress the nations on my heart.

The foundation that keeps me going in mission and evangelism every week is the ‘Go’.  Two scriptures keep me focused on what to do and what to avoid:

Matthew 28:19 – ‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’.

Acts 26:18 – ‘…to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me’.

God’s word enables me to keep going on the challenging days. I’m reminded that I have a vision and purpose in this world and to stay on track. This is why I was born.

Your calling may be different than mine, but the principle is the same: hear God and explore what he says through scripture. Then do it. Callings rise up and come out as passion toward people and nations. If you sense God’s passion stirring, why not explore it? Hang out with the group you’re passionate about, visit the people you’re drawn toward, do some evangelism and see what God says while you’re there. Don’t sit on opportunities; be active, and watch things open up.

When you hear God calling you, explore what that looks like and how it will emerge. That’s the mission and evangelism cycle.

 

Transformation

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Every day we have the opportunity to change. Changing our mindsets and attitudes eventually changes the state of our hearts and leads to transformation. Many of us like the idea of change but can’t seem to pull it off. I have worked alongside men and women seeking change for ten years and indeed have had my own battles with wanting transformation of the heart; it is not an easy quest.

This is where embracing Jesus Christ as a person and his way can lead us onto the path of transformation. Jesus walked the path of right living and so he knows how to do it therefore having an active relationship with him can direct us as we seek change.

Transformational change is a process and not a quick fix miracle cure. We often want the quick fix but we would miss the lessons on the way. The disciples who lived with Jesus went through a three year challenged to change process. Daily Jesus challenged them on attitudes and mindsets by modelling a different way to think and live. Working to renew our mind means working to a daily recovery action plan. This helps to set us free from old habits, attitudes and mindsets that are infiltrating our hearts and prayer is the icing on the cake.

By now you maybe asking where do I begin with designing a daily recovery plan. A great place is to become aware of what areas you would like to be changed. This can be done through prayerfully asking Jesus. Over the years I have asked Jesus to pin point areas where I need to soften in my heart to be more like him in my ways. If we notice what we dislike in others then realise we are probably acting the same. Then we have an area that could be transformed.

inspiration-again-1383695Daily taking one day at a time begin to practice living from a different platform. The teachings of Jesus and the New Testament form foundation for that platform. So get digging to see how Jesus dealt with life and do that. Ask questions of the Bible looking for the how to do mindset / attitude as you head out on the process.

Lasting transformation of the heart comes through Gods divine ability working on the inside and our engagement with that process in a practical way. Lets hot up our personal prayer life and watch our transformation begin.

Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

ImageCorrie Ten Boom during her years of ministry wrote and spoke about forgiveness. If you listen to some of her sermons she is all about intimacy with God and forgiveness demonstrating that the two go together. Whilst reading one of her books “He Sets the Captives Free” I noticed she refers to visiting an African prisoner who was struggling to forgive. Her advice was to “forgive people otherwise we won’t be forgiven”, a difficult phrase to say and receive but one that Jesus taught.

Matthew 6:14For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

Maybe the largest challenge we face as we go through our lifespan is to forgive ourselves when we mess up either in thoughts, words or actions. We will mess up most days if we are honest with ourselves but don’t despair as the prognosis for us is good!

Thanks to Jesus we have access to the love of God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. If we hold onto sadness over our failings we are heading into self-resentment, bitterness and landing up on the step of self-hatred that can cause all sorts of issues. The Bible requires us to ” love others as we love ourselves” found in Matthew 12:30-31   if we do not consider this truth we will find it impossible to love others as we can only give what we have received. We are often happy to hear Gods kindness towards us but then beat ourselves up every day therefore failing to act out the truth.

Now love is an action and an attitude so we may need to renew our minds regarding self-image, thereby beginning to honor or respect the temple (oneself) where the Spirit of God lives. Loving oneself is a requirement as our bodies, mind and soul are the temple where the Holy Spirit lives. Therefore we should not despise the place where God dwells through the Holy Spirit as we have mercy toward others we must also allow Gods mercy to touch oneself.

To function in extending forgiveness toward self we must first get rid of any illusion in our minds that anyone of us is perfect, news flash there is no such person apart from Jesus who was or is perfect and sinless. So we must stop striving for that false goal and stop trying to fix ourselves, it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives who transforms us so we need more intimacy with God through prayer and stillness not false unachievable goals in our lives.

The prayer that is below is the prayer that Corrie Ten Boom prayed with the African man that you may want to say and reflect on towards yourself.

” Thank you Jesus, that you have brought into my heart Gods love through the Holy Spirit. Thank you, Father, that your love in me is stronger than my hatred.'”

Corrie Ten Boom 

By praying and reflecting on those words myself I realised I have the ability and desire to forgive others and myself as its Gods work in my heart and His love is a gift given to me by God Himself. Therefore I must forgive myself as I forgive others, that’s mercy in action.