Sunday, 29 May 2011

God Is The Keystone

A couple of weeks ago my husband bumped into an old 'school friend'.  This guy had always been pretty much known as trouble.  He was asking my husband how things were going, and knowing he was a Christian started asking questions about God. 
My husband came away from the conversation knowing that he had to understand there were reasons behind people's behaviours.  This guy opened up to him a little and shared some quite terrible things he experienced as a child, he was really feeling now an emptiness in his life, which he thought may mean he needed God.
Around the same time I met a lady who decided to come and find out what was going on at Church and came to our ladies that lunch meeting.  I recognised her as being local and it was nice to get to know her, I was impressed by the courage shown to just arrive on your own, without being dragged along by a friend.
A few days later whilst in prayer for these two people, God showed me a picture of a bridge starting at one side of a stream.  It was incomplete, piece by piece it was reaching across to the other side.  I think I take it to  mean we can reach out and pray for our unsaved friends and family on the other side of the stream, but we cannot complete the spiritual journey for them.  We cannot build it all the way across or it would not be strong enough.  It would collapse.
They also have to build their side of the bridge and come towards, what we through the Holy Spirit, are praying for them and teaching them.  As we pray and they come, we reach the centre where God becomes the most important central piece, the 'keystone'.
We can pray all we like for the unsaved and it is a good thing to do, and they can reach out towards what they feel is missing from their lives, but without God as the central point our bridge will collapse, we will not save them and they will not find piece.
So, keep building your bridges towards the unsaved, but don't take it as a personal failure or rejection if they don't respond and build their side back towards you and find God.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Weekly Song Round Up

Well if you didn't expect to still be here because of the Rapture, none intended, but more fool you! I do believe the Rapture will happen;

Matthew 24: 30-31 "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other".

But it can never be predicted by the likes of any false prophet;

Matthew 24: 36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father".

With this in mind my first song has to be There Is A Day .

We don't tend to argue a lot, or get caught up in conflict.  Some people have suggested to us, this may not have been helpful in our marriage, because things get buried or left unsaid.  On the occasions though when there is conflict, it's usually a biggy!  Life's too short to be moaning about who didn't unload the dishwasher (probably me anyway!) When Love And Hate Collide.

Money's Too Tight To Mention One of the main sources of disagreement in a marriage is money.  We're both definately on the same page there - we know we have none!  It is becoming a bit serious now and there are undercurrents of worry, but we are both trying to be really faithful and trust that God will pull us through.

Big family life change yesterday.  Our eldest daughter finished school, she only has to go in for the next few weeks to do the odd exam!  Who knows how we are going to adjust to this change as a family, she herself gets very stressed over changes - even going on holiday stresses her out, so the thought of her now having to look for a job and go out to work is going to be.........interesting! Slipping Through My Fingers blub, blub.

Now I don't want to trivialise things, but, as a Brit, I do have to start the day with a cup of tea, which obviously I have with marmalade on toast.  Imagine my panic and horror when I discover we have run out of teabags.......the toast is in........what am I going to do.........I can't have marmalade on toast  No, too radical.  I had to search the cupboard and find the last scrapeing of Strawberry jam.  (It was in a jar by the way, I didn't just scrape the residue of the cupboard shelf.)  This made me feel extremely proud - very unchristian I know, but hey it was a new breakfast experience and I'm not ashamed to say I liked it!

The other thing I did this week that really did make me feel uber proud - with lyrics! was drive on the motorway, I know, I know, I'm rushing things, first a breakfast change then driving with really fast cars, where will it stop?  I am hoping that this new found confidence will give me a new lease of life and independance, I don't want to be the child anymore,  I want to take control of my own life and make my own decisions and be a GROWN UP. Woohoo!

Enjoy your weekend people! x

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Resolving Conflict

Week Three

Bangers, Mash, Peas & Gravy followed by Trifle.........did not see that coming.

Must admit, I found it hard to keep focused last night, despite having had a two hour nap in the afternoon, I still felt exhausted and my mind was elsewhere.  Will share a few gems with you though.

A couple that had been married for 50 years had not let a day go by without having an argument.  On their anniversary their children were struggling to think what to buy them, in the end they settled on paying for them to see a marriage psychiatrist. 

The couple reluctantly turned up to the first appointment, the psychatrist asked them one question which immediately set them off arguing and they continued to argue for 30 mins.

Then the psychatrist told them, "I'm going to do something now, I've never done before".  He got up from his chair and walked around the desk to the couple, stood up in front of the woman and proceeded to kiss her directly on the lips for a very......long........time.

He turned to the husband and said "that's what your wife needs, 3 times a week"

The husband replied "OK Dr, I see, I'll bring her in on Monday's, Wednesday's and Friday's"

In our marriage we both agree we don't really argue and there aren't really any conflict issues, we generally just get on well.  What I am finding difficult with doing this course is I don't really feel we fit the mould. 

We're both skirting around the issue that nearly split us up last year, because that has been dealt with in a different way, but when you're told to tell each other what they do that upsets, hurts or frustrates you, I can only seem to come back to the thing we've dealt with, which may mean it hasn't been dealt with. 

I want to be strong enough to complete the course, the truth is we both think our marriage is in a completely different place now, dare I say it, a better place.  God has been a true restorer, there is a lot of work to do, which my counsellor is helping with, but we are definately moving forwards.

Oh, and I am a Rhino and hubby is a Hedgehog, and if you want to know what that means, you'll have to persuade your Church to run the course!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Don't F.L.I.P. out!

A few months ago I came up with the acronym f.l.i.p. as a way to help me with my daily life as a Christian.  It stands for f = follow, l = love, i = investigate, p = pray.  Not necessarily in that order, but the word p.l.i.f. didn't really work.

Those were the acts I felt as a Christian would be important to remember, Follow where I feel the Holy Spirit is leading me, show Love to all I come into contact with, Investigate God's word by reading my Bible or religious based web/podcasts & by no means least, Pray.

Talking of acts,I have never done an Alpha course, but I have heard that some courses teach the acronym a.c.t.s as a way of structuring your prayer life - I do not believe this is a very good one, because I have heard it a couple of times and can never remember the words, I only remember a = adoration! (if any one's memory is better than mine, or you know of any you want to share, please post it in the comments!)

Another one someone told me they got from Alpha was teaspoon, my mind immediately went crazy trying to think of what on earth the words would be, to which I was told quite simply, 'thanks, sorry, please' oh, right, the abbreviation for teaspoon t.s.p.

So when you pray you can stay focused by remembering to give thanks to God first, followed by sorry and asking for your forgiveness and lastly tell God what your needs are.

So your prayer could go something like: "Thank you for abbreviations, sorry that I can't remember what a.c.t.s stands for, and please don't let anyone come up with an acronym for s.u.p.e.r.c.a.l.i.f.r.a.g.i.l.i.s.t.i.c.e.x.p.e.a.l.i.d.o.c.i.o.u.s."

Friday, 20 May 2011

Weekly Song Round Up

Music is a huge part of my life, there is always an ipod or a radio playing somewhere, and I have been known to attempt to play the guitar - I need a lot of practice with that.

Anyway, I thought it might be a fun idea to round up the end of each week with a song selection, because I will usually start singing any random song to accompany my daily activities or emotions.

Hope the links work!

A favourite worship song we sing at our Church This Is Our God  The thing I love about the Church we attend now is the worship is incredible, it is clearly directed towards God with happy and hungry hearts.  Unlike the Church I grew up in which used to sing 'Happy Day' without so much as cracking a smile.

Friends Will Be Friends I posted about friendship earlier in the week and they were really there for me yesterday, they gave me the space I needed, but kept checking in with me to make sure I was alright.

Hmm, marriage course communication She Said, She Said I'm thinking sometimes I think I prefer When You Say Nothing At All

Gotta love a bit of mid-week zumba Evacuate The Dance Floor I hasten to add this is not a clip from the group I attend........Our routine is much better!

Trust And Obey worship songs aren't just for Sunday you know!  My sister posted this on her facebook, with the reminder we sang the original hymn version at her baptism.  I am getting baptised in July, so need to start thinking of a couple of songs.

A difficult day yesterday, lots of tears Stop Your Sobbing feeling a lot better today!

Now a favourite to lead us into the weekend.  I have been listening all week to a podcast on Song Of Songs it has been incredible, and really revealed to me not only, the love that Christ has for us his Church, but also, the love God intended us to show to each other as husband and wife.  With that in mind there can only be one song really.....................Feel Like Making Love!

Have a good weekend everybody, and if Harold Camping is right.........hallelujah, I think.

There really only could

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Art of Communication

Week Two

Chill Con Carne and Raspberry Cheesecake.

There is a re-occuring mince theme here.....will let you know if it's Shepherd's Pie or Spag Bol next week.

You know what I'm talking about, The Marriage Course

Now before last night we both felt communication was actually our strong point, we both love to talk, my husband definately more so than me.  We have never experienced an awkward silence.

And I love long distance conversations, you know the one's where you shout down to hubby in the garage, while you're in the bathroom?  Come on, that's not just me?

It would appear we have been doing it all wrong.  Apparently, you are meant to listen the whole time until they have finished speaking.  I agree with this in principle because interuption is one of my pet hates, but I have a husband and a daughter who will use a hundred words when twenty will do.

You have to put yourself in their shoes and try to appreciate the way they are telling you they feel.

Once you have listened for what may seem like a paint-dryingly long time, you have to summarise back to acknowledge you have understood what they said.

Then ask what is the most important part of what they said.

Finally, what do they want to come of the conversation you have just had?

Now, I don't want to dis the course.  If my husband and I had done this about three years ago, it may have done more harm to our marriage than good, because their were so many hidden depths and problems that we hadn't begun to even realise.  Having said that, maybe if we had done the course years ago, we may not have had to have gone through the most difficult times over the last couple of years, who can say.

I think we are fortunate in that we are naturally moving towards a better place anyway.  Of course I accept fully the importance of communication, and if this is an area where you feel you or your partner really struggle, then the above points aren't a bad starting place.

For me though, I think my way works.  Oh, just remembered as I type this from the dining room, there was something I wanted to talk to hubby about, now where is he?  Oh yes, garage..............

If you're still at this blogpost, I am feeling really encouraged and valued that you have read this far.  Please acknowledge you have understood what I said and leave me a comment.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Friends Will Be Friends

Faces have been removed to protect the innocent!

Once a week me & my friends meet up usually for breakfast.  We are not your ladies what lunch on rivita and cream cheese, we like a good cooked breakfast and coffee and cakes!

We happen to be members of the same church, which does make our relationships and time together special.  We love a good gossip, ahem, I mean sharing prayerful concerns! 

Aside from my family these are the most treasured people in my life, they have laughed with me, cried with me and prayed with me.  Without a special couple of them I honestly dread to think of what today would be like.......if I was still here.

Although we all attend church and are Christians, there is no exclusivity and it is especially nice when we are joined by a non-Christian friend, as well as the opportunity to meet more people, it is great to show ourselves as perfectly normal ladies, who love a laugh and can enjoy the odd naughty conversation along with the best of them!

Sometimes to ask a friend along to Church can seem almost impossible, but to ask them to join you in a social setting is far more natural and our lives become our testimony.

I can remember a very lonely time in my life, when I was so consumed with a young family but I desparately wanted friends, friends who I would still have long after the kids had left home, friends who I could tell my deepest fears and shames to and know I wouldn't be judged.

I prayed and asked God for that, and boy did he deliver!  It might have taken quite a few years for these friendships to form and then a few years after that for me to fully accept that they also valued my friendship, but I think I am there now.

If you are a friend that is being leaned on, you are worth more than you will ever know.  And if you are leaning on a friend at the moment remember to thank God for their special role in your life.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Building Strong Foundations

Week One

Lasagne and salad, followed by Apple pie and Cream.

No, I haven't taken part in Come Dine With Me, although I absolutely would love to do that, but I'm not a great cook, and my home is usually very unpresentable, so the bit where they rummage through your drawers could be my downfall!

This was the meal that started off our evening at The Marriage Course.  Which I have to say was a valuable experience, of course, it is only week one.  'Good Sex' comes in week 6 - we're all looking forward to that!

You basically watch a DVD, and are given your own individual private manuals.  After the first clip you have 40 mins by yourselves to answer a list of statments in the manual about yourself and your partner, when you've finished you compare with each other, which opens up a dialogue about how completely different your answers are, and shows you up as being completely incompatible.........or the other way round and you realise actually you're not so bad together after all!

It wasn't as patronising as I feared it would be, and so far I would recommend it!

We do have to, at some point this week, find a two hour child free slot in order to do the 'homework' excercises from the manual.

It must have inspired something in my husband, because when we walked home he took a detour, which took us past the tree where we had our first kiss.........awwwww!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The Marriage Course

Tonight our church starts a seven week marriage course.

I have no idea what to expect apart from a meal and a DVD........sounds alright so far.

We have been married for 18 years, and this course probably couldn't have come at a better time for us!

I have been reliably informed it is not heavy and you don't have to share with anyone other than your partner.  There is homework though............

Anyone ever been on one ran by their Church?  How did you find it?

I will let you know!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Speaking Volumes

Before Christmas I decided it was time to stop accepting everything I had been told was right and start investigating my beliefs for myself.

I wanted to read more, not just as a study excercise, but also autobiographies of people's faith journey's.  It was one of the reasons I started blogging, that, and I'm insanely nosey. 

I mean, who wouldn't want to read about the poor Mormon women who was 1 of 9 wives, and bore 12 of her husband's 57 children - and I thought Brethren was difficult.  My memoirs coming soon by the way!

This was when I discovered that our local library had very little to offer in Christian literature, and I found, tucked away in my brain, a memory of a website my Dad had told me about yonks before. 

Check out , I showed this site to a couple of our Church leaders who agreed it was a brilliant way to outreach very locally to the community, and I am pleased to say that we were able to donate over 100 Christian based books to our local library!

You have to understand I am not a leader, or someone who acts on idea's, I have low self confidence and opinion of myself, so for me to initiate this idea through our Church took a lot of courage, which came only through prayer, every step of the way.

I am learning and changing all the time, God has taught me to be confident, yet discreet.  My goal is for Him to have the final Glory, which at the same time has blessed me.

Do something for your community, do it quietly, and with God at the forefront of your thoughts.  There are about 400 in our Church, and about 5 of us know it was our Church that donated the books to the library.

Matthew 6:1 “Be 1 careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven. 2 Thus whenever you do charitable giving, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in synagogues and on streets so that people will praise them. I tell you the truth,  they have their reward. 3 But when you do your giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your gift may be in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Love Wins.........of course it does.......

God Is Still Holy and What You Learned in Sunday School Is Still True: A Review of “Love Wins”

For a full and intellectual review, read the above.

For a short and simple review, read the following.

Firstly I believe when I die I will go to Heaven, because I have accepted that Jesus died and rose again, and I now live on a daily basis with the Holy Spirit. So not only will I have eternal life in Heaven when I die, but I have got Heaven, here, on Earth now, just as Rob suggests. Because I am attempting to live my life in the way Jesus taught. This hasn't fully excluded the odd Hellish day though!

If I didn't take any note of the fact Jesus bore my sins on the cross, I believe, if I died, I would spend eternity in Hell.

But for me, the book takes a lot of the Bible verses without looking at their full text, which makes them read out of context.

Page 11 "all we have to do is accept, confess and believe, aren't those verbs? And aren't verbs actions?"

Further down the page "Isn't that what Christians have always claimed set their religion apart - that it wasn't, in the end, a religion at all - that you don't have to do anything, because God has already done it through Jesus?"

Yes Rob, and once you have the faith that God did do all those things through Jesus, you feel led by his spirit to accept, confess and believe.

A few pages on Rob is still asking what saves us (which as a man who says he is a Christian, baffles me). He skirts over John 3 in which Jesus tells Nicodemus if he wants to see the "Kingdom of God" he must be "born again".

He could have completed the book there and then by referencing John 3: 1-18. Simples.

Some parts of the book I really identified with e.g page 152
"Imagine a high-school student whose family is part of a Christian church. She belongs to a Christian youth group, has only Christian friends, reads only Christian books and has to attend Christian chapel services, because it's mandatory at the Christian high-school she attends.

That student can potentially become so anesthetized to Jesus that she is unable to see Jesus as the stunning, dangerous, compelling, subversive, dynamic reality that he is . She has simply sung so many songs about Jesus that the name has lost it's power to provoke and inspire.

Her "nearness" can actually produce distance."

I was brought up with the 'wrath of Hell, save yourself today, before it's too late Gospel'

I do regret this approach, as I feel I have wasted a lot of years in fear, rather than in love.

What bothered me most was that the book really only concentrated on our choices and life here on Earth, where the real questions surely lie in the afterlife, whether you're a believer or not.

Rob makes out that God wants us all to be with him, so obviously it will work out that way because he's God. Why would God turn a perfectly good, but dis-believing human being away?

The answer surely is that God will not turn anyone away, there is no limit to who can have eternal life with him in Heaven, he sent his son to die for every single person on the planet.  It's not about an elite of who's out and who's in. Absolutely everyone who believes in Jesus Christ taking their sins on the cross for them personally, will spend eternity in Heaven.

God does not and can not turn away from us. But we absolutely can and do turn away from our peril.

Another review that might interest you over at discomfort foods.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Ever Faithful Seasons

I am lucky enough (or considering the destination is my counsellor, unlucky enough!)to do an hours drive every couple of weeks through the most beautiful countryside.

I have always loved the outdoors and if I could somehow mould myself into it I would.

Back in the winter my friend was driving me and the scenery in the frost was simply incredible, I did not want to take my eyes off it, and I didn't have too.

Today, I was driving myself, and as I passed field after field of rapeseed oil flowers I thought of how much this excites me year after year. 

I took this picture last year on a day at a zoo farm while on the tractor ride.  That day we had seen Zebra's, Giraffe's, Lion's, Tiger's............but what excited me the most was being on the back of a trailer driving through the middle of the rapeseed oil field!  I loved it! Being in the middle of the colour and the smell was just so incredible for me!

And every year as this season approaches, wherever we are driving out and about, it's almost as if I see the yellow fields for the first time every year, every sense is stimulated.

It is beyond imaginable how God came up with such a landscape from nothing, and no words seem complete enough to tell him how I feel about it.

I JUST LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

You can't 'save' your kids

My 15 year old daughter doesn't come to church with us very often, having grown up myself without the option of saying "actually, I don't want to wear a hat and a skirt and come to the meeting this week" it was a firm vow of mine that if my kids were old enough to stay home then that was their choice.

However, of course it always thrills me when she does come, but I have to make sure I contain it a little so she still feels in control!

This evening when I was with her and her younger sisters 10 & 7 (knew I should have given them names - not numbers!) we were all talking generally about church this morning and I was explaining the differences in the 'church' I grew up in.  My 15 year old was asking questions and saying how she believes in God and Jesus, but she can't stand how all 'religions' differ and everyone thinks they're right.  I told her to make her own mind up about what was right for herself by reading her Bible or other books or asking us questions.

I realised if I had questioned that when I was younger I feel I would have just been told, "we're right and if you don't accept it right now, it may be too late, you must come to Jesus today, right now or you might die or Jesus might return and........oh it just doesn't bear thinking about"  My response to that as a child was scared confusion and as a result I was baptised when I was 12 without having a true relationship with Jesus.

Of course I want all my children to accept God's love and have a personal relationship with Jesus, but there's the clue in the word 'personal' we can't give our children that relationship, we can only show them it in our lives and tell them about it, it will only happen for them on the occasion that they chose they are ready to accept it.