“Church” is for Christians…

Sermons on climate change… hmmm… Of course, we are stewards of God’s creation, intended to appreciate and care for it as we live in it, but the highly politicised climate change agenda, the increasing focus on the Earth as a sentient being with feelings, is becoming a false god. The (established) Church is not here to preach what secular people want to hear, it is here to feed the saints and encourage and build them up so they can GO OUT. Jesus never said the Church should tailor the message to suit the audience so that non-believers don’t feel uncomfortable. If anything they SHOULD feel uncomfortable because they have a sinful nature which is revealed in the presence of the Light of the World! The original Church of new testament BELIEVERS met in their homes and broke bread and fellowshipped together. They encouraged one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. They built each other up and then WENT OUT. The harvest is outside not inside!

Churches should not regularly make their services suitable to attract non-believers, the so-called “seeker friendly” services, which can end up being weak, watered down and almost apologising for the faith we have, talking only about a generic and impersonal “God”, rather than Jesus, Father, Lord…  so as not to offend or alienate anyone.

Revivals are born out of strong, biblical preaching of the undiluted gospel, out of prayer and by the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. No revival has ever come unless the Lord is lifted up! It’s just not possible!

The more politically correct the Church becomes, the more it is weakened.

Colossians 2:6-8 NIV
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, [7] rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. [8] See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

Believers need to be fed; built up in the knowledge of the truth so that their light SHINES when they go out into the darkness.

Matthew 5:14-16 NKJV
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. [15] Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. [16] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Our “good works” are to do the things that God prepared in advance for us to do. Above all to believe on Jesus, but to care, to comfort, to speak, to feed, to teach, to encourage, to help, to be his ambassadors and go where and to whom he sends us. …To go where HE SENDS us and be like HIM wherever he puts us. He equips us at the time of need to do what he asks of us. Man does not persuade man to be saved. The Holy Spirit draws and convicts men and they are saved by FAITH in Christ alone!

Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, [9] not of works, lest anyone should boast. [10] For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

It’s not about numbers, not about “bums on seats” and being “relevant” to the masses, not about planning “seeker friendly” outreach. People are dying! There isn’t time to waste focusing on the wrong thing. God is always now, today… He is I AM. Where is our prayer? Where is our wholehearted devotion and worship? He says TODAY is the day of salvation!

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 NKJV
We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. [2] For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Jesus – and Jesus alone – is the Way,  the Truth and the Life.  There is no way to the Father but through him!

Let go and let God… Part 2

Last August, I was visiting my in-laws, about half an hour away from home and, just as I was thinking of leaving, there was a huge thunderstorm! It rained hard for about an hour then brightened up. I was debating which route to take home as it was now the rush hour. I knew one route tended to flood somewhat when water drained off the hilly field alongside, but it was a main road which would be quicker and I reasoned that as it had only rained for an hour it would be fine…

Oh, how wrong I was! As I rounded a bend, all I could see was a queue of traffic and what looked like a turbulent, dark grey river across the entire carriageway, which stretched forward for some considerable distance! We crept along, but the more shallow side favoured the oncoming traffic which, very ungraciously, refused to give way! The camber on the road is quite steep, so I knew the other side of the road (our side) would be under much more water. Every now and then a car from our direction managed to get through, but the gap between the waiting vehicles was closing, so that it became impossible to turn round and go back the way we’d come.

When an opportunity came for the car in front of me to go through, the next oncoming car sped up to block the gap. The driver was clearly not prepared to give an inch, so the car before me, and myself following close behind, had to move into the middle of the carriageway. As the car in front ploughed through to the other end of the flood, a large oncoming van then pulled out, face to face with me (already in way deeper than I wanted to be!) and was giving me no choice but to move over even further into the really deep part – just because he had a large vehicle and he could bully me to move! It was an absolute free for all!

I have driven through quite substantial floods in the past without trouble, but I was now really out of my depth (pun intended!) I prayed out loud and struggled on, but my battery light came on and my engine died…

Strangely, at this point, all my stress and anxiety just evaporated and I felt a strange sense of calmness and inevitability. A real sense of peace actually. The worst I could imagine had happened and I could do nothing to prevent it. I rang home to report my predicament and then rang the fire service for help. I sat in my car as the foot-well slowly filled with cold, dirty water and waited to be rescued. As buses and large vehicles confidently powered through the deep water, waves slapped up against the side of my car and pushed me closer to the opposite verge. It was like being helplessly adrift in a rowing boat and not a pleasant experience!

My rescuers were wonderful. They didn’t laugh at all but were sympathetic and eventually pushed me out as they couldn’t connect to the towing eye which was well underwater. I rang for a breakdown truck and waited. I was beginning to feel cold and shocked. Eventually a nice man turned up and winched my car up onto his truck, as what looked like half a lake poured out of the vehicle.

The next day my poor car was officially declared a write-off and I was devastated. That vehicle had been my private place of prayer and worship, and somewhere to be on my own and think as I drove. It was also my sole means of transport to go visit and help the people I supported, as public transport links are poor where I live.

My husband started looking for a similar car online for me. I didn’t have a lot to spend on one and had no idea how much I would get back through the insurance on my 15 year old/95,000 mile vehicle. Surprisingly, he found a car quite quickly, at a dealer less than an hour’s drive away. It was exactly the same make, year and model, but with only 32,000 miles on the clock! It was within budget – and even the first half of the number plate was the same! How ridiculously amazing was that?! I rang the garage, we went to check it out and I bought it! We agreed that God does indeed have a great sense of humour as he fathers us!

Also, the insurance payout yielded exactly twice as much as I’d figured I might get – a double portion you might say! In spite of my sudden and shocking loss, I felt very blessed, loved and provided for by Father God. And had I not had this situation happen to me, I might not have appreciated the exceptional love and care that he provides for me every day!

But why am I telling you all this…?

Because two months later, when my husband was lying unresponsive on the floor, with me desperately performing CPR and calling him to come back to me as I waited for the paramedics to arrive, a thought flashed through my mind. In an instant, I knew that he was going to die and I could do nothing to save him, but the Lord was telling me it would be ok and to let go.

As I heard the ambulance pull up and the clatter of doors, and voices outside, I laid down beside that dear man one last time and felt the warmth of his body next to mine. It was only for a handful of seconds, but in that moment I surrendered the love of my life into the Lord’s eternally loving care and let him go.

I remembered the peace I felt when my battle through the flood was over and I knew I’d lost my car. I felt that the Lord had allowed this to happen so I was prepared for this much greater loss and ready to look to him for comfort and provision, which he is always willing and able to provide in the most unexpected and miraculous ways.

I’m not going to say it’s been easy. It hasn’t, but I am blessed. And my husband was blessed to leave this world suddenly, without pain or suffering. In spite of my shock, it’s what I would have chosen for him had I been given the choice. I mourn my loss, and my sons’ loss of their dad when they are only young men themselves, but I rejoice that he is with Jesus and will know only perfect peace, perfect joy and perfect love for the rest of eternity.  ❤

If you know Jesus, you are never alone, never abandoned, always loved unconditionally and with a passion. The Lord has been, and remains, my Rock! I hope and pray that if you are going through something really difficult right now, he is your Rock too! His love never fails.

Let go and let God… Part 1

Who could have imagined, even just 2-3 years ago, how much life across the whole planet could change in such a short period of time? How fear, and compliance with the “rules” (to keep us all safe, of course!) would become part of our everyday lives so easily.

My “fear” during the first lockdown was not of catching covid, but of getting caught by the police for visiting my friend who lives just a few roads away from me, and suffers from severe anxiety and chronic pain. She was all on her own apart from a volunteer dropping a bag of essential shopping at her doorstep every week and was in severe distress. She may not have had covid, but her suffering was genuine and I felt compelled to go to see her, to comfort and reassure her.

However, I was brought up to be respectful and obedient to the laws of the land and those who uphold them, so I felt hugely stressed and guilty going to her home, sneaking in through the back garden and expecting to be hauled into a police car at any moment (which didn’t happen of course!) I do remember thinking to myself, I never thought I’d see the day where I’d be afraid of the police or feel like I’m deliberately breaking the law! It’s just not in my genes! But my heart was telling me this was more important and worth the risk, for the sake of her sanity and wellbeing.

Yet, I have seen so much contradiction coming from central government; masks don’t help, masks are essential, vaccines will stop the spread, oh wait… no they don’t, they just prevent you from getting it so severely but don’t stop you catching or spreading it, so give no protection to anyone else. Flip, flop… Who knows what is true or accurate any more? We’re just getting swept along on the tide of covid-mania!

It’s a bit like the “war on terror” after 9/11. I remember watching the terrible scene unfold on TV at the time and telling my young son, “Remember this day. It’s the day the world changed.” And sure enough, in came strict new laws and restrictions; the many being punished for the actions of the few. But any catastrophe, whether man made or not, that has such an acute emotional effect on humans across the globe, enables change that would not be stood for in lesser circumstances.

As Christians, there are a few things we should be bearing in mind through all this…

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Tim 1:7

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Phil 1:21

We need to keep a cool head and remember where our true future lies, and with whom. He is the one who protects us, provides for us and who will keep us, both here and in eternity.

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Rev 12:11

This verse in context may refer to the “tribulation saints” but equally applies to us. We should not love our earthly lives so much that we try to hang on to them at any cost and are afraid to let go and trust Jesus with whatever comes next. When we are here, he is with us, but if we should die, we are with him, forever.

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Is 41:10

I have committed Psalm 91 to memory and speak it out often, along with Psalm 23… His Word is in me, in my mind and in my spirit and I choose to believe it is the truth. What the enemy fears most, and what he tries his utmost to destroy, is our belief in a mighty God and in the truth of his Word; that we have a Saviour, a rescuer, who is ALREADY victorious! The enemy wants us helpless and afraid, trying to do OUR best to protect ourselves and our loved ones. God’s word says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” He is SITTING because his work is finished! It’s not about us, it’s about him!

Let the WORD of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Col 3:16

Brothers and Sisters, “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Therefore take up the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of TRUTH buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS arrayed, and with your feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of PEACE. In addition to all this, take up the shield of FAITH, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of SALVATION and the sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times, with every kind of prayer and petition. To this end, stay alert with all perseverance in your prayers for all the saints. 

Be blessed…

The blessings of God are like a waterfall. He does not hold back. Our part is to stand under it and receive them, not keep running away so we don’t get wet.

Sometimes we Christians can be so self righteous! Something good comes our way and instead of praising God and thanking him, we try to be “humble” and say, “Oh, but I’m not worthy to receive this…” and we reject it. Some people think Christians should not have money, property, a prosperous business or just good things in general – what the world would call “good fortune” – because we are meant to be like Christ, who was poor and owned nothing but the clothes he stood up in.

But Jesus came to earth as a man and became our substitute on the cross, willingly taking our punishment and death sentence, so why can we accept this but then not see what became ours in this divine exchange?
2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

The amplified Bible says it like this:

2 Corinthians 8:9
For you are becoming progressively acquainted with and recognizing more strongly and clearly the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (His kindness, His gracious generosity, His undeserved favor and spiritual blessing), [in] that though He was [so very] rich, yet for your sakes He became [so very] poor, in order that by His poverty you might become enriched (abundantly supplied).

I remember hearing a sermon years ago about God’s inexhaustible riches. No matter how much he gives, his supply is not diminished. That really struck me. I always thought that I should not expect God to bless me financially because there were others in greater need! Duh! Did I think that God would be looking at his bank account saying, “Hmm, I can only afford to give this much away today, so I’m afraid I can’t bless you!” No! Wrong belief!

God’s desire IS to bless us, to care for us, to be a good Father. He wants us to trust him with simple faith, as children.

If you were God, who would you rather entrust earthly riches to? Someone who is materialistic, selfish and worldly, or someone who will listen to the promptings of the Spirit and pass his blessing on to others? You can do a lot of good when wisely handling the riches that God has provided.

Money is not the root of all evil, but the LOVE of money for its own sake is! Seek first HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness and then all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

2 Corinthians 5:21
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Romans 8:32
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
3 John 1:2
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
Philippians 4:19
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Looking back…

2020 was a really rubbish year in so many ways… coronavirus, lockdowns, stress, people working from home, pupils suddenly unable to go to school, trying to manage the unmanageable from a distance because travel was not allowed. And not least because my dearly loved husband died.

Of all the things I ever expected to deal with, that was not one of them. He was only 56. Active, pretty healthy on the whole, so I thought. Little did I know. Gone in an instant with a heart attack. The post mortem showed damage to his heart from hypertension. He had high blood pressure for many years, medicated, but unstable. His younger sister had become severely disabled four years earlier following a massive stroke and suddenly we had to take responsibility for managing her life as she was unable to do it for herself. It was a lot to take on and caused him a great deal of emotional stress. He felt the weight of responsibility plus immense sorrow for all that she (and he!) had lost. I think this took its toll on him. He also had chronic pain from a longstanding back condition, though he pushed through it a lot of the time. The long and the short of it though, was that he found it hard to let go, rest and find peace, in spite of his faith. Eventually, he had no choice in the matter, and I know that he finally does have everlasting peace and joy in the presence of the Lord. That gives me comfort though I miss him terribly, as do my sons.

I’ve been writing journal entries sporadically, for my own benefit really, to help me process what has happened. I’ve thought about posting them on here but most, especially the early ones, are just too raw and intensely personal to inflict on others. But then I’m guessing that a lot of people are also grieving loss though, if not the death of a loved one, at least of the forced absence of the people most loved and cherished and the loss of freedoms we have valued. Loneliness, boredom, anger, frustration, no hope on the horizon that things will ever go back to normal… It’s hard to bear.

Even when we have a relationship with Jesus and try to ignore the ensuing madness and keep our eyes on him, the weight of all the others in the “emotional boat” with us (family, friends, neighbours etc) makes it hard to keep going at times. We just want to give up, lie down and let the sea wash over us and take us where it will…

The following is one piece I wrote the day after an especially difficult day of tears and sobbing for the pain of my broken heart, the enormity of my loss and the feeling of unbearable emptiness that I could not shake off.
Today feels like the calm after the storm. When you open the door and look at the wreckage… That tree you thought was indestructible has been blown down and it lies on the ground, looking strange and unnatural, with its roots laid bare, leaves scattered all around and a big hole in the ground where it once stood. However will you move it, clear the debris and fill in such a massive crater? Will the ground ever be as firm and sturdy where it once stood?
You step outside and look at the paleness of the morning sky, feel the cool stillness of the air. It’s hard to believe that just yesterday this was a maelstrom, a place of swirling turbulence and turmoil. Now it’s calm and quiet, but you still have the memory and feel the emotions from that stormy day.
This must be a little bit how Jesus’ followers felt after the crucifixion as they surveyed the wreckage of their lives and wondered how such devastation could be followed by such calm. The event has passed. Things might appear to be back to normal, but actually something so significant has happened, that things will never be the same again…

And yet… look what happened. He died, his followers grieved – they were lost. What should they do now? They had relied on his strength and guidance those past three years. He had loved them, trusted them and made them believe they were more than they’d ever thought possible. The incredible things they’d seen and done…! Finished. It really was all finished. Jesus said so.

If only they’d realised the goodness of God. The ultimate, amazing, incredible, sacrificial love of God, the plan for redemption and restoration, they would not have mourned. They would have rejoiced there and then.

As for me, I do rejoice that my dearest, lovely husband is in the best place it is possible to be and I will see him again one day. My joy is for him, my tears are for me because I’m still here, and I miss him.

Watch “Jesus and The Passover” on YouTube

Matthew 26:26-29 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

As Jesus shared the Passover seder with his disciples, he held up the matzah and said,  “This is my body…”  As they looked upon the unleavened bread, striped with scorch marks from being cooked in haste, and pierced with holes, they must have wondered what he was talking about, for he had not yet been arrested, tortured and crucified.

The wine represented his own blood, which he would shed to make a new covenant with his father. This covenant superseded the “old” covenant between God and man and was based not on man’s righteousness but on Jesus’s.

Please watch this excellent video on Jesus and the Passover, by Amir Tsarfati of Behold Israel Ministries, to understand how the seder meal and Passover celebrations actually tell not just of the Jews being rescued from slavery in Egypt, but of Jesus, who came to rescue mankind.

As the 10th and final plague was being sent upon the land, God gave Moses some very specific instructions…

Exodus 12:21-23 ..Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.

The thing about the blood though, is that you have to apply it. The destroyer was not allowed to enter where the Lord God SAW the blood on the lintel and doorposts.

If you do not know Jesus today, and have not applied his blood to your life by believing who he is and what he’s done, and confessing what you believe, please do not wait any longer. See who he really is and understand how it actually all ties together and makes perfect sense! One day, maybe soon, it will be too late.

Romans 10:5-10 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.