Some thoughts on the death of Queen Elizabeth II…

It’s been almost three years since covid struck. I know for myself and many of my friends, we have difficulty placing past events now and can’t remember if they were pre-covid or post covid! I tend to assume that if they were normal, happy events, they were probably pre-covid and try to connect them to other things that were going on so I can identify the year! It’s as though two years of our lives just disappeared into a blur…

And this year there has been talk of war, rising inflation and financial insecurity, the threat of a long cold winter with highly priced fuel and possible power cuts – not exactly business as normal! So, many of us have literally spent the last three years in fight or flight mode. Many of us have lost loved ones or suffered other losses – health, jobs, businesses, disappearing local shops and services that have been part of our communities for years.

With the sudden recent death of Queen Elizabeth II, the British people have now lost the one person who provided a sense of constancy and stability throughout that difficult period. She was in it with us – even to the point of having to sit alone at the funeral of her husband of 73 years…

The majority of people have known her as Queen for their whole lives and, as she got older, she has become like the nation’s much loved grandmother. However, this loss has opened the door to grief and people are sad and crying openly, with no one needing to ask why. Personally, I feel this can do nothing but good for the nation. The “stiff upper lip” of the British people is renowned, but it is healthy to mourn too. I’m sure that for many, it is a relief to have an outlet for ALL that has been lost or has affected us these last three years. The process of going through a period of national mourning and a state funeral will provide a focus and channel to let out much of the stress and sorrow of recent times.

The Queen’s Christian faith sustained her throughout her life and this time will also provide something of a signpost to Jesus. It’s a shame that the Church of England tends to be overly “high” and religious at times like this, but I hope that local vicars and pastors will convey the simple message of salvation to anyone who comes through their doors with questions.

I clearly remember the aftermath of 9/11 and the need for people to express their shock, sorrow and fears for the future. Many churches were open for reflection and to offer support. Though evil acts, and even death itself, are brought about by the presence of the enemy of our souls in this fallen world, the increase of darkness makes the light seem even brighter. I hope and pray that many will turn to the one true King, Jesus, at this time. He is the only one who has all the answers we seek.

He who has the Son…

I’ve just heard of the sad and unexpected death of my son’s friend’s mum from a heart attack. She was about my age and it was a shock! …And it took me back to when my husband died, and the aftermath of that, which has made me feel very emotional…

Carole was a strong Christian believer, as are her adult children who have survived her. I know their Church family will rally round and support them, comfort them, cook for them and take as much weight off their shoulders at this time as they can. Having experienced this myself I know what a blessing it is.

But two things are uppermost in my thoughts today…

1. The painful grief that follows the loss of a loved one. We may know that our person is in the presence of Jesus and rejoice that the challenges and trials of this world no longer trouble them, but we have also lost the presence of someone very dear and important to us, influencial in our day to day life and who has left an indelible imprint of love on our heart. It hurts – deeply. It knocks us for six. It saps our energy. It takes time to heal; sometimes a very long time. That journey now awaits this dear family and I’m so sorry for them, though they will also learn how much they are loved…

2. As believers, we know that one day “God will wipe away every tear from our eyes and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things [will] have passed away.”
Revelation 21:4 NKJV

This IS our comfort, our blessèd hope! All made possible by Jesus’ sacrificial death at Calvary.

I sometimes wonder how people live without Jesus, and how they can also be prepared to die without Him…

1 John 5:12 NKJV
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

This one little verse should strike fear into the hearts of everyone who has chosen to reject Jesus. If you do not have the Son, you do not have LIFE! If only they understood what that means for their eternal future!

So, be open with your unsaved friends and family about who you are in Christ. Pray for them. Everyone will be bereaved or suffer grief at some point in their lives and this is the time we get to be Jesus’ hands and feet in this world; and His voice, speaking His words of love and truth to the lost. ❤

First, the bad news… 😩

Has anybody ever told you that you need to “repent of your sins” to become a Christian? What does that mean exactly?

What is it that is so offensive to God?! Are you supposed to be able to remember every little thing you’ve ever said, thought or done that may have upset Him and sincerely repent of it or can you just do an en masse “I’m sorry for everything I’ve ever done!”? If you forget even one single offence, does that make you unacceptable to God?

And even if you can repent of everything and ask Jesus to save you and be Lord of your life, what if you slip up again? What if you then think or do something you shouldn’t have, in spite of your best efforts? Does that mean you are back to square one and your salvation has been lost again? It’s all a bit difficult to understand – an impossible situation to navigate! It’s just too hard! And, if it’s so hard to be saved, how could you possibly believe that God loves you unconditionally?!

What does REPENT even mean? To be on your knees, full of sorrow and bitter self loathing for how truly awful you are…??!!!

Well, just hold it right there for a moment and take a deep breath.. This is why the gospel is called the GOOD NEWS!

You CAN come to Jesus – just as you are – struggling, sinful, separated from God. He knows you better than you know yourself! Let’s face it, if you could clean yourself up by just reciting a long list of your faults and failings, you would not have need of a Saviour!

The English dictionary definition of “repent” is to feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin. (Sin means missing the mark as an archery term!)

The biblical definition of repent from Strong’s Concordance (a book which explains word meaning from the original text and language) in the new testament is:

Greek: μετανοέω
Transliteration: metanoeō
Pronunciation: met-an-o-eh’-o
Definition: From G3326 and G3539; to think differently or afterwards that is reconsider (morally to feel compunction): – repent.

And in the old testament is:

Hebrew: נחם
Transliteration: nâcham
Pronunciation: naw-kham’
Definition: A primitive root; properly to {sigh} that {is} breathe strongly; by implication to be {sorry} that {is} (in a favorable sense) to {pity} console or (reflexively) rue; or (unfavorably) to avenge (oneself): – comfort ({self}) ease [one´ s {self]} repent ({-er} {-ing} self).

And also:

Hebrew: שׁוּב
Transliteration: shûb
Pronunciation: shoob
Definition: A primitive root; to turn back ({hence} away) transitively or {intransitively} literally or figuratively (not necessarily with the idea of return to the starting point); generally to retreat;

So you can see there is a whole general sense of stopping, sighing, reconsidering, turning away from; as well as being sorry… A whole attitude change!

So, firstly, see your need! Know that humans exist in a fallen world where all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God! (See Romans 3) There is no real peace to be found in this world, no hope for the future beyond what we try to make for ourselves, and we are all destined to die… and then what?!! There is so much to question about the human condition! But at the end of the day, our biggest problem is pride, just like Lucifer… It takes humility to admit that you need someone to rescue you.

The bible says…
John 3:16-17 NKJV
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. [17] For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

That sounds promising! So for you not to be condemned, and not to perish, is why Jesus came, so that through Him the world – and YOU – might be saved!

What do you have to do to be saved then?
Know and admit you have need of a Saviour and believe that Jesus is that Saviour! He is the only one who can save you.

Believe there is a God who knows everything about you, who loves you anyway and wants to have a relationship with you. You are not beyond hope! Jesus made a new covenant, a new agreement, with Father God on our behalf. Adam broke the relationship, but Jesus came to restore it!

Because, through Adam, all of mankind now belongs to the family line that was messed up, we needed someone to stand for us who was not of that bloodline, someone who had always loved the Father and been in a perfect relationship with Him. Jesus fulfilled that quality, but needed to become like us in order to represent us – humankind – so He was born as a human.

There is nothing we need to DO or even can do, but simply believe in Him, who He is and what He has done for us by giving Himself in our place and taking the punishment that we all deserve for rejecting God. The repentance is tied in with believing, because until we have revelation of who Jesus is and become “born again” – indwelt by the Holy Spirit – we can never really turn away from our sinful nature and the path we were walking in our own strength. Repentance is a heart change.

So, if you do not know Jesus, I can assure you that HE knows YOU! He loves you, He longs for you to see Him and say, “Jesus! Save me!” Someone once told me that they would never ask Jesus to die for them and could therefore not accept His sacrifice as being made on their behalf. But if you were homeless and freezing on the roadside, would you reject the offer of a blanket and a hot drink just because you didn’t buy them yourself, or would you receive them with gratitude to the one who cared enough to stop and give them to you?

God’s grace is freely given to us in the name of Jesus. Don’t let pride or misunderstanding get in the way of your eternal future!

No king but Caesar…?

John 19:15-16 NKJV
But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!” Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away.

This is what the world is doing right now. It rejects Jesus as King and willingly and, in vehement opposition, eagerly agrees to submit to the enemy. Only those whose eyes have been opened by the Holy Spirit can see who Jesus really is.

Compare this spiritual blindness to the physical blindness of the man whom Jesus healed…

John 9:1-5 NKJV
Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

And He told his followers…

Matthew 5:14-16 NKJV
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

When Jesus raptures his Bride, the light will be gone. While we still have a window of opportunity, pray for those you know who aren’t yet saved! Share Jesus where you can and tell people what He has done for YOU! Do not hide your light under a basket! Your testimony is powerful and time is short..!

There is no fence…

Many years ago I was roundly criticised by a fellow Christian for wondering whether Princess Diana was in heaven. “Of course she is!” I was scolded. “She was such a wonderful person and did so much good!”

Now, whilst it’s not for me to say whether her name is written in the Book of Life – only God knows that – being good, doing good works, being popular, kind, beautiful, generous .. NONE of these things makes us righteous in God’s eyes. Only believing in the risen Christ Jesus and His finished work on the cross can gain us entry into heaven.  We must have faith!

Romans 3:10,23 NKJV
As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; [23] for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

John 3:16 NKJV
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:18 NKJV
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Romans 10:4 NKJV
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

John 14:6 NKJV
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

I very much hope that Diana is in heaven, but what I do know is that there is no fence to sit on, no grey areas in the gospel. It is abundantly clear; you’re either saved or unsaved. The ONLY way to the Father is through Jesus. He came to save us! That was His mission! If there was another way, would he have come to Earth just to die in agony?!! No! There is nothing we can do, not one single thing we can say, that will put us in right standing with the Father. Without Jesus we remain separated from God for all eternity.

Like Princess Diana, we cannot know when some unexpected event may end our Earthly existence in an instant, no more time to decide… which is why it is imperative that you believe in Jesus right now! No special prayer is needed, just tell Him from your heart that you believe He is who He said He was and you want Him to save you! He knows if you mean it; if you truly want Him. You don’t need to use special words – or indeed any spoken words at all! What if you were physically unable to speak? Would that mean you couldn’t be saved? Of course not!

1 Samuel 16:7b NKJV
…for the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

No one is guaranteed tomorrow. I beg you, please don’t wait one minute longer! Choose Jesus now, before it’s too late!

Trusting the process…

I’m a bit of an impatient person and when I have a firm idea or a picture cemented in my mind about something, I almost can’t wait for it to materialise. We’re just having some building work done to give us more space in our small, nearly 100 year old house and also taking care of much needed maintenance.

It was horrendous at first. Mud. Just a huge amount of mud everywhere! The dog was having his legs washed in the bath three times a day as he was getting plastered just by stepping outside the front door! It was slippery and I stayed indoors a lot as I was scared to go out in case I took a tumble! Gradually, the weather improved and the ground dried, grass started growing in the back garden again and the extension took shape really quickly. It was all very exciting!

Then we had a few hold-ups. Things not arriving on time, tradesmen letting us down. And here we are, three months in and so close… but just not quite close enough! Doors haven’t arrived so we’re not fully secure or watertight yet, and remain boarded up, living in the cramped front part of the house! Every day I just long for something to make a significant change to this situation! The plasterers are finishing off today, the electricians are here again at the end of the week. The kitchen is arriving soon but many other things need to happen first! It’s enough to give you a nervous breakdown…!

I have a brilliant builder (a family friend!) who has project managed, walked the dog and put up with my constant crying and many, many questions – on top of doing a huge amount of physical work! He really is a godsend. The thing is though, that I must be patient. I have no choice but to wait till everything is completed. I am relying on human frailties and somewhat broken supply chains to provide everything needed to get the job done.

When Jesus hung on the cross, several things took place which fulfilled prophecy, before he finally bowed his head, declared, “IT IS FINISHED!” and gave up his spirit. In the most hopeless and helpless situation (or so it seemed to those watching) he was not murdered by the Romans – or the pharisees. His life was not taken from him. He gave it! He was in full control of events and there was a plan!

John 19:28-30 NKJV
After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” [29] Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. [30] So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

I know there is a plan for my house. I know that certain things need to happen before it will be finished, but it will be finished at some point and I’ll enjoy being here. I am learning patience and more reliance on the Lord along the way, which is no bad thing!

But Jesus’ work was finished long before I was even born! I, along with every other person on the planet, have a cast iron guarantee, written in blood, that everything that needs to be done has ALREADY been done! The way to the Father has been restored and we are forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness (the sin of being separated from God) by simply believing and trusting in who Jesus is and what he has done! He made a new covenant, a new agreement, with God wherein it states that whoever believes in HIM will not perish but have everlasting life. It’s a case of trusting the process! But not everyone knows it and not everyone will believe it. They will keep waiting for an answer that has already been given.

John 3:16 NKJV
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Can you imagine, if the doors and windows had been fitted, the kitchen was installed and everything was brand new and shiny, ready to step into and use and enjoy, but we decided to leave the doorway into the kitchen boarded up and never go in?! If we just carried on living in the old part of the house and feeling sad and frustrated because we wanted so much more…

Imagine no one ever told you the kitchen was FINISHED! Get my drift…?

Bluebell Wood

Walking through the wooded glade

A wondrous scene before me laid;

The beauty of the bells so blue

A dusky carpet through and through.

 

 The canopy above allows

The coolness of the shady boughs

To bring relief from sun and heat

And dapples underneath my feet.

 

What bliss, and privilege, to be

On God’s green Earth,  alive and free.

To see the beauty he has made

Whilst walking through this wooded glade.

 

 

No more normal…

I feel as though I am sitting in a little rowing boat called Grief, with no oars, bobbing about on the ocean. 

Sometimes the weather is good and I drift and feel calm in the sun, other times it’s stormy and I get thrown about, feeling scared and lonely, and I cry a lot then. But I just have to hang on and stay in the boat and go where the waves take me, because I’m on a journey. I know that eventually I will see land and when I finally step out of the boat, I will feel stable and grounded. Even though I’ll remember the trials of the journey, they will not have a hold over me but just be a part of who I am.

No one can accompany me on my journey in this boat, but there are people I can see in other boats, called Encouragement, Comfort and Support, just a little way off.  They have to keep a distance, but knowing they’re out there does help. I have to be careful not to take on worry or upset or too much responsibility, and resist allowing it to sit there with me – or yes, my boat will surely sink. There is no capacity for anything else – especially things that weigh heavy.

I appreciate the friends and dear ones who let me make this painful journey without judging me. People have a tendency to say (either with their mouths or their eyes…) “Oh, are you STILL drifting aimlessly in that old boat? You need to stop that, it’s not healthy. Why don’t you flag down a bigger boat and get a tow, or jump in and just start swimming to shore? You need to get back to normal…”

Don’t they know I’m too tired and too scared and frozen in my thoughts and memories to do anything except just sit and hang on? I have no energy. I can’t think clearly. Every day I just look at the boat and the water… it’s where I am – until it’s not! But there is no normal anymore. If I’ve learned nothing else, I’ve learned that! But a new chapter in my story awaits once I’ve completed this particular journey. I can’t hurry it, and I think it’s best not to try. All wounds heal at different rates – and this is a big wound! It’ll take time. How much time, only the Lord knows… 

I thought I was ok, but now I know I’m not and I have to give myself permission to be where I am for as long as is needed. It’s not where I thought I was or, indeed, expected I would ever be. I’m used to carrying on, being strong for others who need me. It is humbling, that’s for sure, but I’m convinced that something good will come of this one day. Whether it’s allowing others the opportunity to step up, knocking down my pride, letting me empathise with others who feel this way through bereavement or some other kind of loss… In God’s economy, nothing is wasted. ❤