About the Church…

I may offend a few people with what I’m about to say, and I do apologise as I have no wish to upset brothers and sisters in Christ or cause an argument. I just wanted to say a few things about the established church and perhaps think about it in the context of the early church and its purpose, as described in the bible.

I’ve been saved for 25 years and have spent all of that time (until recently) in the Anglican Church, though I’m not sure why as I’ve never really been an Anglican at heart. (I think I’m too much of a rebel!)

I believe that everything we need to know about the Christian life and how to live it is in the bible!

So, NOT Easter (as such, with all its traditions – it’s pagan) but death and resurrection to new life – a statement of what it is to be a Christian if ever there was one! And the Passover has huge relevance to Christians, though this is rarely taught.

NOT all the hype surrounding Christmas, but a simple remembrance of how and why the Christ child was born – whatever time of the year that actually was!

NOT a special ceremony of “the Eucharist” for the favoured few who are both water baptised AND confirmed into the Anglican Church (Really??! Sounds more like a club membership to me!) but a power filled act of remembrance for ALL who truly believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, was fully God and fully man, who came to pay the penalty for our sin, was crucified, died and was buried, was raised to life on the third day and is now seated at the right hand of the Father where he intercedes for us!

It was his blood sacrifice that made the new covenant with God the Father, paid the penalty for our sin once for all and left the veil permanently torn so we may forever be in the presence of God; and his body was broken so ours could be healthy, for by his stripes (the brutally torn flesh on his back) we ARE (perpetually) healed (and in health)! THAT is why so many believers are sick or have “fallen asleep”, because they do not understand the power that the communion bread and wine has in the fallen-ness of this world. Jesus reversed the curse!

[ 1 Corinthians 11:29-30 NIV
For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. [30] That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.]

So… a bit before Christmas 2018, I started to feel uncomfortable and that I needed to just leave the church, though I hung on for quite some time before I had to let go because there were many people there that I loved, so it was a painful parting. But all that kept going through my mind was “Come out of her, come out of her.” I was reminded of Revelation 18.

[Revelation 18:4-5 NIV
Then I heard another voice from heaven say: ‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; [5] for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.]

When you look at the two main Christian denominations, Catholics and Anglicans (who only broke away from Catholicism so a king could get a divorce!) and think about some of the awful things that have been done in the name of the church (though not in the name of Christ!) over many centuries, and how man made traditions have been allowed to overtake the simplicity of the gospel of grace and make it a lukewarm mixture of grace AND works, you have to wonder if, in this passage, Babylon could be referring to the established church!

I do feel that the Church of England as an organisation, has lost its way, focuses too much on tradition, rules and regulations (if you know what a faculty is, you’ll get my drift!) is becoming liberal and PC in many areas and not keeping its focus on sharing the gospel message of salvation in Christ alone.

The “Church” has a simple mission – to make disciples! It does not need to be politically correct, people pleasing, bogged down in red tape or spending all its energy designing “events to serve the local community”. By making disciples, each one can then serve where the Lord puts us, ” to do the works PREPARED IN ADVANCE for us to do”. The works prepared by God, not man, because he knows where we can be put to the best use!

[Ephesians 2:10 NIV For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.]

At prayer a couple of years ago, I had a vivid picture of a large banner suspended across the front of the building. It said,

The Church is already amongst you.

And really, that’s what it’s about. It’s what it’s always been about. Not rules, not traditions of man, not pomp and circumstance, but simply believing in the Lord who sends us OUT, with his authority, to gather the harvest.

Matthew 28:18-20 NIV
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [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, [20] and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Time is short…

Ok, so I’ve been thinking about this a lot. To post, or not to post…

I’m not much of an evangelist as such, though all Christians are called to give a reason for their hope when asked. I’m certainly not ashamed of the gospel and people who know me, even a bit, soon find out I’m a straightforward, “see things in black and white” kind of a person who loves the Lord and loves to talk about him.

The people I find it hardest to talk to though, are those who are really close, know exactly what I believe, but who never ask anything or want to talk about faith issues. Because I love and respect them, I don’t push it, however I now feel such a sense of urgency that I must say something to them and to anyone else reading this!

Since I was a young teenager, not saved, but nonetheless believing in the existence of God, I had the strongest sense that “the world as we know it would end in my lifetime”. The years passed and in my 30s I became aware of the purpose of the cross. I had never quite understood how Jesus came into the “God” equation because, up to that point, no one had explained it to me!

I remember the moment I surrendered to him and totally put my trust in him and it was as though a fountain of joy had turned on in my middle and was gushing out through my face! I couldn’t stop smiling for days! I was in love!

I was blessed to be taught and mentored by strong women of God and found myself moving into the areas of prophecy, prayer and worship, then latterly teaching, but I have always been drawn to eschatology – the end times. I see now that even as a teenager the Lord knew me (though I didn’t yet know him) and he knew the journey I would make through life and the person I would become!

I look at the state of the world now and I feel the end, as they say, is nigh. More than nigh, it is here, right at the door! Time is so short!

Christians talk about the rapture of the saints – the harpazo, the catching away of the church, just before the end…

1 Corinthians 15:51-53 ESV
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep (i.e. die), but we shall all be changed, [52] in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. [53] For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 ESV
For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. [16] For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. [17] Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

… and after that, there’s the tribulation! Trouble like you’ve never even imagined.

I know the rapture is steeped in controversy, however I’m not here to discuss the nitty gritty of it. My challenge to you is this… if it IS true and suddenly millions of professing Christians around the world simply disappear into thin air. Gone. And the world goes mad… destruction, fear, sorrow, anger. All the babies and young children are gone, there will be anarchy, looting, mob rule, natural distasters of epic proportions… and I knew it was coming, but I never told you, for fear of offending you. Would you not be MORE offended that I didn’t tell you?? Would you wish that I had told you how to be saved from the end of the world as we know it?

I’m telling you now, don’t wait, don’t stop to think about it… there’s no time.

A. Admit you’re a sinner in need of a saviour.

B. Believe that Jesus is Lord, was born of a virgin, the only begotten son of the Father, died on the cross to pay for all your sins and was raised to life again on the third day.

C. Call on the name of the Lord.

Romans 10:13 ESV
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

I pray that if you read this, whoever you may be, and you have not put your faith in Jesus, the ONLY one who can save you, that you do so now. I’m not much of an evangelist, as I said, but I see the storm is coming and, with all my heart, I implore you to get on the ark and be saved, while you still can.

It is written… The word gives life

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Proverbs 4:1-2

My son, pay attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not lose sight of them; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to the whole body. Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow springs of life. Proverbs 4:20-23

If we didn’t know that the word gives life, proverbs 4 makes it very clear! Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Notice that the proverb didn’t just say to guard your mind, though that is part of the outcome of guarding your “heart” (the essence of who we are as a body, with mind and spirit). If guarding our heart, guards our mind and thoughts, does it therefore also guard our body…? Something to ponder on!

The psalmist says: “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11. Sin separates man from God. If people read the bible, keep their minds free from worldly distractions and live good lives, would that bring forth springs of life? No! Only a revelation of Jesus, the word made flesh, can do that! With the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, the word takes root (see Mark 4; The parable of the sower). We cannot save ourselves through self-effort or good works! Only Jesus can give life. He saves us – by grace, through faith.

The bible, both old and new testament, is full of references to Jesus; prophecies, parallels in other bible characters’ lives, poetic and symbolic pictures. When the risen Jesus walked with two of his followers on the road to Emmaus, they did not recognise him. It was not until he had spoken of himself in the scriptures, and then broke bread with them, that they realised who he was and said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” See Luke 24

Jesus may not be present in body now, but our hearts should burn within us when he is revealed anew in the word, as we read, listen, study. He is the way, the truth and the LIFE!

As Christians, we are still human – in the world, but not of the world – so the consequences of the fall will still have their effect on us. Yet Jesus tells his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Therefore, our hope is not in humanity, in nature, in technology, in medicine, in having a good education or a well-paying job. All these things will pass away… “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35. Our hope – our ONLY hope – is in the finished work of Jesus.

John 16:33 is preceded by Jesus saying he has told his disciples what is to come so that IN HIM they may have peace! The Hebrew word shalom, which translates as simply “peace” means so much more… safety, wholeness, health, provision, prosperity, rest… In new testament context, peace (eiréné) also encompasses the reconciliation of all things to God through Jesus. “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Col 1:19-20

We know that stress is the opposite of peace. Even doctors say that stress can damage our bodies and minds. It causes dis-ease! But where stress is the cause of affliction, God’s peace is the remedy, and is found again and again in God’s word.

So… “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be apparent to all. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.”

Take time to meditate on these things… be refreshed, restored and at peace.

Thank you Father that Jesus IS the Word and that he gives me life in abundance.

It is written… Standing on the word

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.
Matthew 24:35

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

When Jesus had spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness, the devil came to him and tempted him (see Matthew 4). The devil spoke to him saying, “IF you are the son of God…” He knew very well that Jesus WAS the son of God, but his tactic was to try to cast doubt on his authority. Jesus responded by saying, “It is written…” and then rebuked him using scripture.

He had tried the same tactic with Eve… ‘Did God REALLY say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ Of course, the answer was no, they could eat from every tree, except one; but even though she answered him correctly, Satan still caused her to lose sight of the truth of God’s goodness by implying that he was withholding something from her. His objective is to cause US to lose sight of the truth too – even though we have everything we need in Christ. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence… 2 Peter 1:3.

We live in a fallen world, we face the consequences of that daily, however we have spiritual armour to protect us. Every piece of the armour is also an aspect of Jesus which saves us. (See Eph 6) The helmet – salvation; the breastplate – righteousness; the belt – truth; the shoes – peace; the shield – faith. The sword, however, is offensive and we use it to fight and defend ourselves. It is the word of God! We are also told to pray in the spirit and be alert!

Another reference to being alert is this: “Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in your faith…” 1 Pet 5:8-9. Jesus is the Lion of Judah. As we’ve seen, the devil knows how to deceive and twist the truth. He will roar like a lion, but he’s a counterfeit. Do not listen to him and you will not be devoured!

When we know the truth, it WILL set us free! How do we fight against the schemes of the enemy? By knowing the word of God. Paul says, “…I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” (2 Cor 2:10-11) One of his schemes is to convince you that an offence against you is unforgiveable. Unforgiveness is like rust – it takes away our shine and eventually eats away at our very core. In the Lord’s prayer, we ask Father God to forgive our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Since all our sins are already forgiven in Christ, why do we ask God to forgive our sins again? I believe it’s to remind us of the magnitude of what we have been forgiven so we have the will to forgive others. (He who is forgiven much, loves much. See Luke 7) Unforgiveness allows a root of bitterness to take hold in our lives and places an obstacle between us and God’s grace.

When something or someone comes against you, the way to respond is to pray using scripture. Remind the enemy of who you are and what you have in Christ. It is written: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the LORD. Is 54:17

Take time to meditate on Psalm 23 and appreciate all that the Lord is, and gives, to us. Know it by heart, meditate on it whenever the enemy tells you that you are not worthy, not loved, or that no one is going to save you from your plight! God’s word is truth – stand on it!

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Father I thank you that your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I will not stumble or fall when your word illuminates my way.

It is written… being washed with water through the word

What we think and believe dictates what we do, what we say, how we behave. What we feed our minds with is important!

Ephesians 5 says,” …Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word…” To be holy is to be set apart. When we were saved, we were set apart from the world and our minds were washed by the word that was preached to us – the truth on which we believed. But “washing” is an ongoing process – we don’t only wash once in our lives! If we do not wash, we do not remain clean, so washing our minds is an ongoing process that must be done regularly and often, or we will easily succumb to deception and lies.

When was the last time you really reminded yourself who you are in Christ, according to the word? The last thing the enemy wants is for you to stand confident and unafraid! So, what does scripture say about who you are in Jesus?

I am saved by grace, through faith… Ephesians 2:8
I am a new creation in Christ… 2 Corinthians 5:17
I am the righteousness of God in Christ… 2 Corinthians 5:21
I am God’s handiwork… Ephesians 2:10
I am an heir of eternal life… 1 John 5:11
I am Jesus’ friend… John 15:15
I am redeemed from the curse… Galatians 3:13
I am more than a conqueror… Romans 8:37
I am blessed with every spiritual blessing… Ephesians 1:3
I am a saint and a member of God’s household… Ephesians 2:19
I am a loved child… 1 John 3:1

Ephesians 1:3-14 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.

With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment – to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.”

Take time to meditate on these truths… a few words at a time.

Praise the Lord, who has restored us to the place of sonship (yes, even the ladies – for the son was the one who inherited!) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs…” Romans 8:14-17

Be washed with water through the word and have CONFIDENCE in all that has been bought for you at the cross!

Father, I believe your word is truth and it washes me clean. I KNOW who I am in Christ Jesus!

Do not be afraid…

If you’re familiar with either The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or Dad’s Army, you’ll know that the most famous quote from both is, “Don’t panic!!” But what happens to you when something alarming and unexpected happens? Do your stress levels rise as your mind works overtime exploring all the possible (and worst) scenarios? Do you have that horrible feeling of tightness in your gut that makes you feel sick and anxious and desperate? And, if you do, what can you do about it?

I remember when I was a new Christian, our cell group leader’s teenage son had not yet come home from an after-school sports event. Our group was arriving at their house and it was 8pm – they were becoming concerned! My first reaction was let’s go look for him. His parents’ reaction was let’s pray together and put the situation in God’s hands, THEN go look for him. I was concerned about wasting time and eager to go, but their experience told them that God is faithful and they could trust him to keep their son safe and guide us, since David could be anywhere between school and home, a distance of about 4 miles, or somewhere else entirely! No cell phones in those days!

So we prayed, then set off, all taking different routes to the school. His mum and I drove together, scanning pavements and side roads and, as we approached the school gates, suddenly we saw him standing at the bus stop outside! He’d been waiting for over two hours but the bus never arrived! When we said, “It’s getting dark, weren’t you scared?” he said, “No, because I knew you’d come.” That was a big lesson to me, both in the power of prayer and faith!

Do we know with certainty that someone will come and rescue us when we’re alone and the darkness is closing round us? David had complete faith in his parents, but they had put their faith in God, rather than their own strength, to keep their firstborn safe from harm. The Lord never leaves us nor forsakes us. There is no “might or maybe” about it – He WILL be with us! Always.

Do you recall a time when you were overwhelmed by fear? Sudden bad news, a loss, a poor diagnosis, a financial disaster, a crisis in your marriage or family…? Are you facing something now?

Do you know that the Lord is your strength, your shield, your defender, your strong tower, your fortress and refuge in times of trouble? He stands with us and for us.

Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you. Deut 3:22
Do not be afraid of them because the Lord your God…will be with you. Deut 20:1
Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. Deut 20:3
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut 31:6
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deut 31:8
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Josh 1:9

These are just a very few of the encouragements that God gives in his Word. Even as he was talking then to Moses or Joshua, in the old testament, his Word speaks to US today because he is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Do not be afraid, put your trust in the God who delivers you.

Are you lost at sea?

Picture this…

You are floundering in the ocean. You have no boat, no point of reference. You have no idea how you ended up there or how deep the water is, but you’re way out of your depth, overwhelmed by fear, and you’re drowning.

Suddenly, you catch a glimpse of someone – a rescuer! You try to grab hold but he’s just out of reach. You start to panic and thrash about, but instead of coming to get you, he waits. Your strength is all but gone… you cry out! Then, as the water is about to close over your head and you are lost forever, strong arms take hold of you and a voice whispers in your ear, “Be still. I will save you.”

In your exhaustion, all you can do is let go and stop struggling. You tried everything, but you couldn’t save yourself.

And now you’re moving through the water, but you can’t see where you’re headed. All you can do is be at rest and feel the arms supporting you and know that as long as you remain still and trust your rescuer, he will take you through this “sea of troubles” to safety. He said he would. It’s what he does…

How many times do we try to save ourselves from all sorts of situations and feel overwhelmed with fear, as if we are about to drown..? Jesus is the only one who can save us, who never lets us sink, who moves at just the right time when we’ve exhausted our own efforts and finally look at him. He is right there, so close, waiting for us to let him BE our Saviour. It’s not just what he does – it’s who he is…

The Light of the World v. the light IN the world…

Does anyone else find the LED headlights of some newer cars absolutely blinding and downright offensive?!! The other night I was driving on a country lane and literally had to stop and put my hands over my eyes as I was so dazzled! I’d flashed my headlights briefly, in case their main beam was on accidentally, but no – the blinding searchlight continued to approach. Just as well there was nothing behind me but, nonetheless, that’s a dangerous situation to be in.

As I drove home, I reflected on how God’s Word (Jesus) is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. He walks beside us and illuminates our way, keeping us safe on the narrow path. The world wants to stop us in our tracks, dazzle us so we can’t see where we’re going and then leave us lost in the darkness!

All you need is love…

I like getting bargains in our local charity shop and had a look round recently as they had put a lot of Christmas stuff out. One of the items I bought was a little bag containing four wooden letters which stand up individually to spell the word LOVE. Or so I thought!

At home, I got the letters out and put up the L and the O. As I looked at the two remaining letters, I couldn’t work out why I had N and E left and no V! I thought, how silly, did they not realise it had the wrong letter in it? I can’t put these letters up spelling “LONE”!! It must have taken me a full minute to realise they were supposed to spell NOEL!

I did have a chuckle at myself but it got me thinking. I had made an assumption about what was in the bag. I then assumed it was someone else’s fault that my expectations were not met. But however you look at it, it was all in MY mind and nothing to do with anyone else!

We often think we know what’s going on, what people are thinking, why they behave a certain way or say what they do and that nothing is ever our fault or responsibility. But it’s our PRIDE that puts us and our feelings at the top of all other considerations and makes us assume we must always be right. We need to change our way of thinking – then we might be more often patient, kind and loving and less often cross, upset or disappointed!

Romans 12:2-3 NIV
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.