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Book Recommendations

When I first came to faith, I filled bookcase upon bookcase with Christian Literature.  I just could not get enough!  I was about 38 years old and I felt as though I had 38 years of not being a Christian to make up for!!! I began reading the Good News Bible, then I read about Paul the Apostle before discovering John Stott who I found most helpful.  Below, I have made a list of books that I have rated 4 or 5 stars on Goodreads.  Some I read a long time ago, some very recently.  I have tried to divide them into different categories, however, it is sometimes the case that a book could have slid into a few categories or that a book is probably on the outer edge of that particular category but that is where I found it rested best.  For anyone living close to me, you would be so welcome to borrow any of my books, for others, you could try a local library, or there are some charity shops which stock Christian material.  Another option is looking at second-hand versions online.  Many of mine are preloved and still in great condition! Some may be reasonably priced new and others slightly more expensive. 

I pray that you uncover the same enthusiasm for Christian Literature that I did.  Please do not be put off if you read the occasional book that does not resonate with you at all or that you find to be doctrinally wrong.  This is inevitable if you are going through books like I did!  Just read carefully, always checking Scripture references and reading your Bible alongside.  If a book does not feel right, just put it down and start another one.  There is such a wealth of Christian Literature that it is inevitable some will be doctrinally unsound, so just use your God given wisdom to seek out the truth from the lies.

Happy Reading!!  

Love and Blessings

Louise x

Teaching on Doctrine

AuthorTitleStars
ATB McGowanThe New Birth: What Born Again Really Means5
J I PackerKnowing God5
 A Passion for Holiness5
Bruce MilneKnow the Truth5
C. S. LewisMere Christianity5

Teaching on History

AuthorTitleStars
Robert HuberThe One Stop Guide to the History of the Bible5
The New Lion HandbookThe History of Christianity4
Jenny RobertsonStrength of the Hills5
Bruce FiskA Hitchhikers Guide to Jesus4
Bernhard AndersonThe Living World of the Old Testament4
Terry Glaspey75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music and Film4

Understanding Scripture

AuthorTitleStars
John StottThrough the Bible Through the Year5
 Understanding the Bible5
Mark StaussFour Portraits: One Jesus: A Survey of Jesus and the Gospels5
David PawsonUnlocking the Bible5

Practical Help

AuthorTitleStars
Craig GroeschelDivine Direction: 7 Decisions that will Change your Life4
R T KendallWhen God Shows Up: Expecting the Unexpected5
Max LucadoOutlive your Life: You were Made to Make a Difference5
 In the Eye of the Storm5
 Come Thirsty: No Heart too Dry for His Touch4
John OrtbergIf you want to Walk on Water, you’ve got to get out of the Boat5
Rod ParsleyAncient Wells, Living Water: God Invites you to Come and Drink5
Nicky GumbelChallenging Lifestyle5
 A Life Worth Living5
Justin EarleyThe Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction5
Christina VinsonGod’s Peace When You Can’t Sleep5
Tony EvansDiscover Your Destiny: Let God Use You Like He Made You5
Robert J MorganReclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation: Find True Peace in Jesus4
Jennie AllenGet Out of Your Head4
Angus BuchanFaith Like Potatoes5
 A Rushing Mighty Wind5
 The Secret Place: Finding Quiet Time in the Presence of God5
 Come of Age: The Road to Spiritual Maturity5
Celia MarieGod Given Food: A Bible Study & Beyond4
Lee StrobelThe Case for Christ5
 The Case for A Creator4
 The Case for Faith4

Church and Revival

AuthorTitleStars
Richard TaylorHow to Read a Church5
Jim WilkinsonMiracle Valley: The Story of Hollybush Farm5

Missionaries

AuthorTitleStars
Paul HattawayThe Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun5
Brother AndrewGod’s Smuggler4
Max MyersEyes Turned Skywards4

Autobiographies/Biographies

AuthorTitleStars
Don Piper90 Minutes in Heaven5
Heroes of the FaithWilliam Carey5
 David Livingstone5
Oswald ChambersHis Life and Work5
Corrie Ten BoomIn My Father’s House5
 The Hiding Place5
 Tramp for the Lord4
John PollockPaul the Apostle4
Alexander WhyteApostle Paul5
John FoxeFoxe’s Christian Martyrs of the World5
Jock PurvesFair Sunshine4

Devotionals

AuthorTitleStars
Angus BuchanNow Is the Time Daily Devotional5
Alistair BeggRuth: 30 Day Devotional4
Oswald ChambersMy Utmost Devotional Bible5
 My Utmost for His Highest5
Selwyn Hughes & Trevor J PartridgeCharacter by Character, 365 Daily Readings5

Lastly, just a few extras.

Recently I have found the book of Common Order to be useful for prayers.  When you just do not know what to say, you can have a look at this book and there are prayers for morning, evening etc.

Also, an interesting way to the read Scripture is The Books of the Bible (NIV).  Here the chapters and verses have been stripped away leaving the text more like the original Scriptures.  The headings and verses were added in the 1600s so they may lead us to interpretations that are not helpful.  Here, you can read, for instance, the letters of Paul as a complete letter which would have been received by the addressee!!

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How God Answers The Racism Debate

Recently my husband and I joined a Zoom conference regarding racism.  We are to read two books and discuss them in our small groups online.  When I began reading the first book, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, I found myself at once feeling wrongly slighted.  Yet, I am willing to admit that perhaps this was the shock value I required in order to understand my blissful ignorance to my white privilege and to the size of the role my country played in the slave trade.  I always thought of these horrors as something that happened in America.  Reni astutely presents many shocking facts involving murder, racial segregation, injustice and as I read this I was deeply upset and shocked, shocked that these events occurred within the history of my own country and yet I was completely ignorant of them.  This part of British History seems to have been conveniently “lost in translation!!”  Not all of the events portrayed in this book were even historic but incidents which have occurred in my lifetime.  Reni showed me I need an education and I need it fast; the question is, how will I receive this?   

For example, the study that I am part of is made up of white men and woman and one black man.  I had hoped when I joined the study that many more people of colour would be there to contribute in order that we would have a broad demographic in order to learn and teach one another.  Despite my small groups having consisted entirely of white people like myself (therefore one would imagine that the white woman wouldn’t have to worry about unconsciously upsetting a person of colour) I do not feel able to express myself fully.  I am scared.  I am scared that what I say may come across the wrong way.  I am scared that people will think that I am racist by what I say.  I am simply scared.

I believe political correctness and negative etymology have made us, as a society, unsure which words are appropriate so we skirt around subjects or avoid them altogether so as not to upset anyone or paint ourselves in the wrong colour!!!  How can this lead to unity?  It cannot.  Of course, this is not a problem simply with regard to race, but also disability, sexuality, gender etc. etc.  If we want to unite as one, whilst appreciating and celebrating our differences,  then we must be able to discuss matters without prejudice or reprisal.  Only then is the unity required to manifest change accomplished.  Ultimately, we need action.  While Black Lives Matter has drawn attention to a long-standing issue in our society that desperately needs to be addressed it has so far failed to achieve action that will effect positive changes. 

Another factor in the need for more action, less debate is that whilst we are all focussing on the horrors of the historic slave trade, we are averting our eyes to the slave trade which is operational today.  There are sex slaves in each of our cities, there are house slaves all around the world.  If one would like to deny this is going on in the UK, please read Slave by Mende Nazer.

Let me make it clear that I am in no way minimizing the atrocity of the slave trade or in no way seeking to brush it under the carpet, in fact, I would suggest that every man, woman and child in this God’s earth makes themselves aware of the horrors of this in order that we can ensure this never happens again.  I think another important point is to recognise the effect this still has in society today, black poverty, black prospects etc. etc.  At the same time, I want to recognise that slavery is not extinct but alive today!

For all our worldly problems God has the answer.  The answer is Love…

As I looked through Scripture in order to prepare for my blog today, I was amazed at how often love is mentioned in the Bible!  Why are churches not screaming this from the rooftops?  Why have I not witnessed a sermon where the primary focus is love.  There is so much for us to learn about God’s love….    How do we love?  What is Godly love?  How does this love manifest itself?  How is this love shown to others?  Who is my neighbour that I am to love?  How do I do this?  What can I do to care for others?  The list is endless.  We, as the church of God should be ashamed of ourselves.  We must demonstrate this love more mightily.  People should see God’s love shining from our homes and our churches!!!   

We need love and we need action.  To quote Martin Luther King Junior, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

1 John 3:18 says “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

Let us look at what action we could take.  For example, I have recently been made aware that many buildings in the UK have been funded by the slave trade.  Would it be right to take these down?  I would argue that ethically that would be a solution.  That no longer would the riches derived from slavery stand tall within our cities but, this would be a huge waste of resources.  These buildings are likely to have been bought and sold many times over since they were originally erected and therefore it may be problematic changing the use of them but, where possible, could these be used for charity work, for community, for the change we want to see in our world!!  If privately owned could a plaque be erected in memorial to the many men, woman and children who were born and who died without an identity, who suffered for the financial gain of others.  

Instead of stating that 10% of employees must be black etc. why not investigate why this is not happening naturally?  Why are black children less likely to succeed at school?  Why are black people less likely to attend Oxford or Cambridge?  Why are black children more likely to live in a poor household etc. etc.  Why not make changes to our society to correct this imbalance and inequality?

What does God say:-

  1. Love your neighbour, Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” All law depends on these commandments!! If we can love God with all we have and love our neighbour as much as we love ourselves then automatically we will keep the laws. We cannot break them because to break them would be not to love God with all our heart and all our minds and all our soul and not to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. We learn from this that we must care for others as we care for ourselves. We must consider their welfare as we consider our own, value their lives as we value our own, strive for their happiness as we strive for our own, ultimately, put the needs and desires of others above our own.
  2. Forgive, Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” When we do not forgive, we hold bitterness in our hearts. How can we serve God with a bitter heart? The answer is we cannot. How can God forgive us when we are holding something far less important against someone else? He cannot.
  3. We are different because God made us so.  Genesis 11:1-9 “Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So, the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore, its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.”  Here we see that when man came together in unity, they felt empowered, so empowered that they believed they could take on God Himself and for this reason, God dispersed man.  Therefore, what is required for perfect Godly unity is humility.

Let us acknowledge that God in all His Glory chose the body of a poor Middle Eastern Man in which to dwell.  Colossians 2:9-10 “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority”.  Let us represent the Bible in truth. 

My preparation for this blog has revealed so many scriptural treasures for me that I hope to write about in the coming days as I explore God’s love, what it looks like and how it manifests itself.

Meantime, I hope that my comments are taken as intended, from the heart of a white woman who understands she is at times ignorant, but longs to learn, who understands she is so far from God yet longs to become closer to Him.  If any of my comments have been insensitive, please let me know so we can discuss this. 

In the meantime, remain in God’s love and I look forward to sharing some beautiful scripture with you soon.

I will leave you with a quote from Martin Luther King “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Love and Blessings

Louise x  

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How To Write A Prayer Journal

In an earlier blog I suggested using a prayer journal to help you if you are struggling to pray or if you want to develop your prayer life.  These are available online in journal format or there are single page designs which you can download for free from the internet.  Just type in prayer journal or prayer sheet and then click on images and you will see a large selection that you can print off.

I have designed a simple one based on the “ACTS prayer guide” I spoke about earlier:-

I have attached a PDF link for you to use should you wish to download this.

There is space for the date at the top so that you can fill this in and later go back and check what you have written.  You may wish to do this to see how your prayer life has developed over time or how your focus has changed!

The Adoration Section is where you praise God.  Write down His glorious attributes or simply how much you love Him. 

The Confession Section is where you admit where you have gone wrong.  We know that all the sin we confess will be forgiven so do not let this affect you negatively but simply admit your guilt and let God’s gracious forgiveness be upon you.

The Thanksgiving Section is where you write down all the things you are grateful for.  I find depending on my state of mind, this can be overflowing to the point I struggle to stop, or I can find it hard to think of anything.  When I am feeling negative, I have learnt to think simple, I woke up, so I am alive, I have been granted another day.  I don’t know how many of you watched I Am A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here last year, but I was really inspired by Caitlan Jenner’s attitude.  Every morning on waking she would shout to the rest of the camp “It’s Another Day to Excel!”  What a positive attitude!  I think this sort of enthusiasm is something that we all should strive for!

The Supplication Section is where you write your prayer requests.  These may be for your own needs or the needs of others.

You may need additional space for any one of these sections, so I have created Individual Prayer Sheets for each of these.

Adoration Journal

I have included lines in order to write words of praise to God and then I have left a blank space at the bottom in order that you can get creative should you wish.

Supplication Journal

I have included space for name, prayer request, date of prayer and date of answered prayer. 

Thankfulness Journal   

As with the Adoration Journal I have included lines in order to write all the things you are thankful for and a blank space in order to get creative.

Confession Journal

I have included space for your confession and a space for the date of your confession.

I have been lucky enough recently to be introduced into Creative Christianity and it has changed my life!  I do not think I can quite put it into words….  I just feel like my life with God is fuller in some way, that rather than giving things up for Christ, I have been given so much more.  My life is enhanced by my walk with God.  I would like to devote a blog entirely to this so I can hopefully inspire you to have the courage to get creative, so I will not go on too much here! I will just say that the blank spaces on your prayer sheets could be used for further writings, poetry, lettering, drawing, paints, decorating with stickers etc.  There are so many fabulous ideas in which you can creatively worship God. 

I hope this has been helpful to you. 

Happy Journaling!

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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How are we saved?

I presume if you are reading this that you are a new Christian, considering becoming one or just trying to find out a bit more about Christianity.  If you have been visiting a church or meeting Christians, you may have been asked the following questions:-

“Are you saved?”

“Are you born again?”

“Have you said the sinner’s prayer?”

“Are you baptised?”

I found these types of questions very alarming when I was first asked them.  I had absolutely no clue what they were talking about and I also had no idea whether this was something I wanted to be involved in or not!  Having grown up with the idea that one’s religion was a private matter it was uncomfortable for me to hear people speak like this! 

Now I understand these questions, I can assure you there is nothing to be scared about.  It is just part of being a believer.  Let us look at some Bible verses in order to understand what being “born again” means. 

Paul tells us in Romans 10:9 “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;”  O.K, so, here we see what we must do in order to be saved, we must confess with our mouths that “Jesus is Lord” and we must genuinely believe that Jesus came back to life and that it was God who raised Him.  Luke further emphasis the need for faith in Acts 16:31 “  “They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  The only way to be saved is through Jesus Christ, as Acts 4:12 tells us “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

You may ask “Do I need to be saved?”  The answer unquestionably is Yes!!  Romans 5:9 states “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”  1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  So, without being saved we face the wrath of God and we will perish, in other words, we will not be accepted into heaven.

You may still ask, “How does being saved work?”  When you realise how holy and perfect God is, it becomes apparent just how sinful and depraved we are and therefore how does this holy God save us?  Our holy God cannot look upon evil yet by His great grace He saves us.  Ephesians 2:8 tells us “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;”  2 Timothy 1:9 “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,”  Here we can clearly see that our being saved has nothing to do with us but God and His grace that He has extended to us.  You will see that this passage also mentions that this grace is granted us in Christ Jesus.  This refers to the crucifixion.  Only through the atonement of Jesus can God look upon us sinners and grant His grace to us in order to provide us with salvation.   

So, how does being saved happen?  Another word for being saved is salvation or being born again.  The Ordo Salutis tries to simplify all these weighty theological doctrines into a chart.  There are different forms of this chart, so I have used a simplified version.

First God must call you to Him.  You may have felt a growing or sudden desire to attend church or perhaps someone spoke to you about Jesus and you felt the need to learn more.  This is effectual calling.  God has called you and you have responded.  Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

Next you are regenerated.  You may have heard this term before on a popular science fiction series!  The difference here is that on the outside nothing has changed, you still look exactly the same but, on the inside,, you are changed, you are born again, John 3:3-8. 

Justification means that you are made right with God.  This is where the sacrifice of Jesus comes in….  Imagine you are in the dock and God is judge and jury, you are convicted of sin and sentenced to death, then Jesus, God’s only Son stands up and demands to take your place so that you may live …  This is the truth of what He has done for you.   You are now justified, and God will not hold your sins against you.  Ephesians 1:13 “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise”

God, accepting this substitution, frees you from the guilt of sin and adopts you into His Family.  You are now a Child of God.

Now the hard work starts!! It is time for you to be transformed into a likeness of Jesus.  This does not happen overnight and, indeed, it will not happen during your lifetime.  Bit by bit, month by month or year by year you will notice that you become more and more aware of your sin, that you strive that bit more to avoid the sins of this world and instead work hard as Jesus’ hands and feet on earth.      

Only at death will we be made holy so as to be acceptable to live with Jesus in heaven.  This is called glorification.

I hope I have managed to explain a little of this vast subject.  A lot of complex doctrine is involved here but the basics of what you need to know are:-

To be a Child of God you must be born again, not as in an infant birth but a birth of the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit will come to you in order that you can do the work of the Lord and understand Scripture well.  For this to happen you must genuinely believe in the resurrection of Jesus and say the words “Jesus is Lord”.  There is a Sinner’s prayer that is not found within Scripture but may be useful for you to have an idea how you can pray about this.  I have detailed a simple example below:-

All that is important to salvation is that you voice the words “Jesus Is Lord” and that you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, however, an important part of prayer is the confession of sin and the request for forgiveness so if you are comfortable praying the prayer above then Go For It!!   

I understand this is a lot to take in so if you have any questions, please get in touch with me and I would be more than happy to help you.

Do not forget to call on the Lord!  Romans 10:13 “for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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CHRISTIAN MUSIC

When you first become a believer, it can be hard to find good Christian music to listen to.  At first the only Christian Songs I knew were the old-fashioned hymns but now I have found loads of brilliant artists.  While, of course, there is nothing wrong with listening to secular music, Christian songs give us a chance to sing praise and worship God.  This may be while driving to work, cooking tea, doing the gardening, or cleaning the house! 

I have compiled a list of songs which I think suit every taste.  I have a very eclectic taste in music myself but I must admit not all these genres are to my taste, luckily, one is my husbands so he helped out with that one and the other I have just had a guess at which songs sound good!!

You will find these on the usual channels, Amazon, Google, Spotify, You Tube etc.

I really hope you find something that you like!

Happy Worshipping!

Love and Blessings

Louise x

Modern Worship Songs

City Alight

  • I Will Trust My Saviour Jesus
  • Ancient of Days
  • The Goodness of Jesus
  • Jesus Is Alive
  • God Is for Us
  • Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me
  • Blessed Assurance

UK Blessing – You Tube

Elevation Worship

  • The Blessing 

Mercy Me

  • I Can Only Imagine

I Am They

  • Scars
  • My Feet Are on The Rock

Hillsong Worship

  • What A Beautiful Name
  • Cornerstone
  • O Praise the Name
  • So Will I
  • Who You Say I Am

William Matthews

  • Deep Cries Out

Lincoln Brewster

  • Everlasting God

Rend Collective

  • Build Your Kingdom Here
  • My Lighthouse
  • Marching On (feat Hillsong Young & Free)

Chris Tomlin

  • Light of The World
  • Holy Is the Lord
  • Made to Worship

Lindsey Stirling feat Rivers Cuomo and Lecrae

  • Don’t Let This Feeling Fade

Beyoncé

  • Ava Maria

Rascal Flatts

  • God Bless the Broken Road

Keith and Kristyn Getty

  • There Is A Higher Throne

Bethel Music

  • It Is Well

Amy Grant

  • El Shaddai

Country

Elvis Presley

  • You’ll Never Walk Alone
  • He Is My Everything
  • Bosom of Abraham

Alan Jackson

  • There Is Power in The Blood
  • Are You Washed in The Blood?
  • Blessed Assurance
  • I’ll Fly Away

Carrie Underwood

  • How Great Thou Art

Johnny Cash

  • We You There When They Crucified My Lord

Randy Travis

  • Three Wooden Crosses – Randy Travis

Jerry Lambert

  • What A Day That Will Be

Dolly Parton

  • There Was Jesus

Kenny Rogers

  • Children, Go Where I Send You
  • Mary, Did You Know
  • In the Sweet By and By

Dennis Agajanian

  • Godly Man
  • Truth Is Truth
  • Seven Hillsides

Pop/Soft Rock

Newsboys

  • God’s Not Dead (Like A Lion)
  • We Believe
  • All the Way
  • Here We Stand
  • I Am Second
  • The King is Coming
  • Live with Abandon
  • Love Like I Mean It
  • Mighty to Save
  • More Than Enough
  • One Word
  • Pouring It Out for You
  • Restart
  • Revelation Song
  • Saviour of The World

Matt Redman

  • 10,000 Reasons

Ryan Stevenson

  • Eye of The Storm
  • The Gospel

Micah Tyler

  • Last

About A Mile

  • Taking Back
  • Born to Live

Hillsong Kids

  • I Give You My Hallelujah
  • This is Living
  • Voices of Freedom

Britt Nicole

  • The Lost Get Found
  • When She Cries
  • Walk on The Water

Rachael Lampa

  • Promise My Prayers
  • Lead Me (I’ll Follow)

Meredith Andrews

  • Open Up the Heavens
  • Spirit of The Living God (Radio Edit)
  • A Million Saints

Traditional Hymns

The Celebration Choir

  • A Safe Stronghold Our God Is Still

Anthem Lights

  • All Creatures of Our God and King

The Leeds Parish Church Choir

  • All Things Bright and Beautiful

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards or Bonnie Anderson

  • Amazing Grace

Salisbury Cathedral Choir

  • I Danced in The Morning

Aled Jones and Russell Watson

  • In Christ Alone
  • The Lord Is My Shepherd

London Regency Choir

  • Jerusalem

Katherine Jenkins

  • The Lord Is My Shepherd

The St Michael Singers

  • When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Keswick

  • The Power of The Cross (Instrumental)

Gospel

Etta James

  • I’ll Fly Away
  • Oh Happy Day
  • Amen, This Little Light of Mine

103rd Street Gospel Choir

  • Swing Low Sweet Chariot

The Gospel Choir

  • Shine Down

Louis Armstrong

  • Go Down Moses

Mahalia Jackson

  • I Will Move on Up A Little Higher
  • Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho
  • Just A Little While to Stay Here
  • Let the Church Roll On
  • When the Saints Go Marching In

The London Community Gospel Choir

  • What A Friend We Have in Jesus

Gregory Porter

  • Revival
  • Liquid Spirit
  • Light at The End of The Tunnel
  • Go Tell It on The Mountain/Aint No Mountain High Enough (Medley)

Mary Mary

  • Shackles (Praise You )
  • Joy

Brother John Sellers

  • Wade in The Water
  • He Came All the Way Down

Metal

Argyll Park

  • Headscrew

Celldweller

  • Switchback

Seventh Angel

  • 1 of the Needle
  • Lament for The Weary

Demonhunter

  • Snap your finger, break your neck
  • I Will Fail You

Fight the Fury

  • My Demons

Love and Death

  • The Abandoning

P.O.D

  • Alive
  • Satellite

Tourniquet

  • Ark of Suffering
  • Psycho Surgery

Becoming the Archetype

  • Into Oblivion

Crucified

  • Pillars of Humanity

Gary Lenaire

  • Stop the Bleeding

Theocracy

  • Ghost Ship

Narnia

  • You Are the Air That I Breathe

Divinefire

  • Time for Salvation

Golden Resurrection

  • Identity in Christ

Rock

Bride

  • Everybody Knows My Name
  • Dust Going Through A Fan

Guardian

  • Sweet Mystery
  • Miracle Mile

Holy Soldier

  • Cry Out for Love
  • Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

Ledger

  • Not Dead Yet

Leviticus

  • Over the Hills

Sacred Warrior

  • Sweet Memories
  • Blood River

Skillet

  • Feel Invincible
  • We Are Lions

Stryper

  • To Hell with The Devil
  • In God We Trust
  • Blood from Above

Ted Kirkpatrick

  • Gethsemane

Disturbed

  • Sound of Silence

Eraserhead

  • Entertaining Angels

Galactic Cowboys

  • Why Can’t You Believe in Me?
  • Space in your Face

X Sinner

  • Holy Ghost and Fire

Whitecross

  • Dancin In Heaven

Rap/Hip Hop

Kanye West

  • Every Hour (feat Sunday Service Choir)
  • Follow God
  • Everything We Need
  • Jesus Is Lord

Stormzy

  • Blinded by Your Grace

Lecrae

  • I’ll Find You
  • All I Need Is You
  • Tell the World
  • Always Knew
  • Divine Intervention
  • Blessings
  • Messengers

Faith Child

  • Our Father
  • Going Home
  • Unstoppable

B.B. Jay

  • His Love
  • One Way (The Real)

Guvna B

  • King of My Heart
  • Bittersweet
  • With Me All Along
  • These Are the Days
  • New Jerusalem
  • Pray for Me

Half Mile Home

  • Leave Me Alone
  • Do It Again
  • Blessing Me

Sherwin Gardner

  • Praise the King
  • Santo
  • Fall on Me
  • Praises Go Up

The Common Kings

  • No Other Love
  • Pray

Dance

Hillsong Young and Free

  • This is Living (fear Lecrae)
  • Let Go
  • Real Love
  • Wake
  • Love Won’t Let Me Down
  • Just Jesus
  • More of You

Capital Kings

  • Believer
  • Fireblazin

 Todd Edwards

  • Dancing for Heaven
  • Getting There from Here
  • Love Inside

Roman Kouder

  • Revival (Gregory Porter) Remix

Anita Wilson

  • Here’s to Life (Remix)
  • So, Gone (Remix)
  • I’ve Seen Him Work

Shuree

  • Undeniable feat Doug Weier (Manifesto Remix)
  • Where I Am
  • Come, O Come Emmanuel (feat Tall Animals)
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Am I Good Enough? Cont..

Yesterday I asked the question Am I Good Enough?  We looked at Moses and how he did not feel “good enough” for the job that God had assigned to him. 

I was going to look at a few different characters today, however, I would really like to devote today’s blog to Paul The Apostle.  I do not think there is anyone in the whole Bible who seems less equipped for the job of apostle than Saul of Tarsus!! 

Saul of Tarsus was a zealous Jew who hunted down believers of The Way (which Christians were called at this stage) in order to persecute them.  Saul stood by and watched as Stephen; the first Christian martyr was stoned to death.  Following this we see him plan his journey to Damascus. “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priestand asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.” Acts 9:1-2.

It was during this journey that Jesus presented himself to Saul.  Let us think about that for a moment, Saul is on his way to persecute, imprison and put to death the very family of Jesus and this is when Christ appears to him.  One might think that Christ has come to strike him down in revenge for the death of his faithful disciple Stephen and the many others who have been persecuted yet no, Christ comes to adopt Paul into his family and employ him in the work of the gospel on earth.  Why would He do this?  For God’s Glory of course!

When I first came to Christ, I read many books on Paul and his story really spoke to me, I still love him greatly and thoroughly enjoy reading his letters.  This was a man that truly despised Christ and His followers, a man who would go to any lengths in order to persecute believers and hamper the work of Christ yet in the blink of an eye Saul becomes Paul The Apostle, who in my mind is the most inspirational witness to faith in the whole of Scripture.  

My favourite poem is one by Rudyard Kipling entitled “If” which he wrote for his son.  While reading this beautiful poem let us think about Paul.  I have attached an image of the poem and later intertwined this poem with Bible verses in order to show that Paul meets this criterion and more!     

  • If you can keep your head when all about you
  • Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

1 Corinthians 4:12 “and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure”

  • If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
  • But make allowance for their doubting too;

Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

  • If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
  • Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Philippians 1:22-26 “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.”

  • Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
  • And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

  • If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
  • If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

1 Cor 6:19  “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.”

  • If you can meet with triumph and disaster
  • And treat those two impostors just the same;

Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

  • If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
  • Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
  • Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
  • And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
  • If you can make one heap of all your winnings
  • And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
  • And lose, and start again at your beginnings
  • And never breathe a word about your loss;

Philippians 3:8 “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

  • If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
  • To serve your turn long after they are gone,
  • And so hold on when there is nothing in you;

2 Cor 4:8-9  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;”

  • If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
  • Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
  • If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
  • If all men count with you, but none too much;
  • If you can fill the unforgiving minute
  • With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—

Acts 28.30-31 “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.  He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance.”

  • Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
  • And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Paul would undoubtedly qualify as a man by Rudyard Kipling’s standards, yet he is so much more than that, Paul is the personification of the Man of God.

As Paul sat in prison, likely aware the day was drawing near that he would be put to death he writes to Timothy “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

Paul could look back and see just how ill equipped he had been for the work of the Lord, yet he did not allow this to hinder him going forward.  Instead Paul used this as a testimony for God’s glory.  Putting aside all the shame that he must have felt, he boldly admitted his atrocious acts.  Acts 22:4“I worked hard and killed men and women who believed as I believe today. I put them in chains and sent them to prison.  The head religious leader and the leaders of the people can tell you this is true. I got letters from them to take to our Jewish brothers in the city of Damascus. I was going there to put the Christians in chains and bring them to Jerusalem where they would be beaten.”  God sees the bigger picture. Paul would be the last person we would have thought of to write the majority of the New Testament, yet God knew what a righteous soldier of Christ Paul would be!

God will give you the ability if you give Him obedience and when you don’t feel “good enough” just think about this:-

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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Am I Still A Christian When I Have Doubt?

Doubt is something that will creep into the hearts of each and every Christian at some point in their journey with God.  I would imagine that this has become a factor more and more as we have progressed in science and technology and come to rest on our own abilities more and more.  Thousands of years ago, things were different.  Around the world men had their own gods and they rested in the power of these gods for everything, rain, provision, fertility.  Nowadays we feel we can provide everything for ourselves, we turn on our taps and we have a never-ending supply of water, quenching our thirst and that of any crops we may grow in our gardens.  With an egg and sperm, we can create a human being from a petri dish and we even have the capability of manipulating species to create an entirely new one … just look at all the designer dogs out there!!  Less and less we look to God to provide for us and more and more we stand on our own abilities.  Thousands of years ago and, indeed, in many faiths and cultures today people see their gods work in everything.  They pray for rain and when it rains, they thank their gods, they have a baby and they thank their god for their fertility.  They thank their god for the gift and guidance of their elders etc. etc. etc.  How often do we as Christians look to God this way?  We may say grace and we may show our gratitude to God but moment by moment do we genuinely believe and recognise God’s work in our lives?  Meditating on this can be a helpful tool in times of doubt. 

If you are in a period of drought and your faith is wavering remember this, you are still a Christian, you are not alone in how you are feeling and you are still a Child of God.  I used to allow thoughts of doubt to take hold and go to war in my head.  Before long I was back to my old ways and not really feeling like a child of God at all.  I neglected to go to church, I neglected to read the Bible and before long my faith had withered away and, in my head, I was no longer a Christian.  How wrong I was! How many mistakes I made!  Ever since I accepted Jesus into my heart, I have been a Child of God and for eternity this is what I will remain!   Accepting this reality is so helpful in our walk and is the one focus we need to cling to no matter whether we are standing on a majestic mountain top or curled up in a putrid pit.

Let us look at some Bible characters and see that they were no strangers to doubt themselves!

  • Adam and Eve doubted God when they ate of the forbidden fruit, Genesis 3:1-6.
  • Abraham did not believe God when he insisted Sarah will bear a child for him, Genesis 17:17-19.
  • Sarah did not believe God when he insisted, she will bear a child, Genesis 18:12-14.
  • Israel, despite having seen signs of God still refused to believe in Him, Numbers 14:11.  This carried on for generations, 2 Kings 17:14.
  • Gideon doubted God and asked for proof not just once but twice, Judges 6:36-40
  • John the Baptist despite being the chosen one to proclaim the coming of Jesus The Messiah doubted this was the real Jesus, Matt 11:2-3.
  • Thomas doubted that Jesus had resurrected insisting he would believe it when he saw it, John 20:24-29.

Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1937) – “Faith which does not doubt is dead faith”

Alfred Tennyson, English poet (1809-1892) – “There lives more faith in honest doubt, Believe me, than in half the creeds.”

These examples above are such an encouragement for our times of doubt.  Sometimes we doubt because we are humble enough to ask why me? To awe that there could be such an amazing being such that God is!  Of course, other times, we are just being human and resting on our own mind.  It is during these desolate times of our lives that we often emerge stronger in faith.  This is summed up so well in the quote below:-

Lesslie Newbigin, British United Reformed Church theologian – “The life of faith is a continually renewed victory over doubt, a continually renewed grasp of meaning in the midst of meaningless.”

I am going to leave you with a quote by an English hymn writer called Charlotte Elliot which puts so beautifully our walk-through faith and doubt.

Meantime, have a look at the Bible passages above and be reassured that God is not expecting you to be perfect, no one on this earth is and perhaps many who present themselves righteous in faith, in reality suffer from doubt just as you do but are to proud to admit it!

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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How Do I Become A Child Of God?

I felt this was such an important subject to discuss early on in my blog as this is where your journey begins and, unfortunately, many will not be instructed in this.  For the majority of my life I believed that being a good person was enough to get me into heaven.  This is not what the Bible says.  A favourite saying of Angus Buchan, the wonderful South African preacher is “good people don’t get to heaven, believers do!”  You will have heard it said, “God is good so he would not send a good person to hell.”  This is true, he would not.  Ultimately, a non-believer sends themself to hell.  God makes himself available to us throughout our entire lives in order that we will repent of our sin and come to him.  If we choose to ignore him and refuse his offer to adopt us then we are not part of his family and therefore, we will not go to heaven and the only alternative is hell.  Imagine that you are holding a special family reunion.  After decades apart your extended family arrive at your home from all over the world, you gather around the table to share a great feast together that you have spent weeks creating.  You hear a knock at the door, you answer only to be met with complete strangers who insist they are entitled to join your feast.  How would you respond?  I would expect you would turn them away because you do not know them, and this is a precious time for your family to share together.  This is exactly how Jesus will respond to those who have not acknowledged him.  Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

Now, I used to fool myself by believing that I could take bits and pieces from the Bible that suited my lifestyle and those that did not I could just leave out.  I would use excuses such as “this passage only relates to that time and culture; it is not relevant now!”  How wrong I was!  We cannot read the Bible and pick what we choose to believe and leave the rest out, because then we believe nothing!  The Bible is not a pick and mix, you must believe all or you must believe nothing.  I love history and I love watching historical movies, however, only those that are historically accurate!  When fictitious scenes are added I will not enjoy the movie because it makes me question the rest of film’s accuracy.  In this way we need to trust the whole Bible not just the pieces that suit us and are soothing to our ears.  Make no mistake, Christianity is not for the faint hearted, it is not all plain sailing, however, there is nothing on this earth that can bring such peace to our aching hearts as Jesus.  Whatever you go through, when you have Jesus, you have comfort. 

The Bible tells us in Romans 10:9-10 “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.” 

When you first come to Christianity it is a very exciting time, you have been born again, your old sinful self has been washed clean and you have a new self that is born in Jesus.  You will likely be filled with excitement for the future but like anything new this may become normality and the excitement may fade.  In reality you are likely to have many of these up and down moments throughout your life.  I certainly have and the only advice I have is stay close to God, don’t slip away from him, as the further you slide and the more you rest upon your own strength, the more difficult your life will be.  

Rest in the promise in Romans 10:13 “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”.  Never forget you are saved, and you are a child of God.     

As you read this, do you believe that Jesus Christ died for you?  Do you believe that he would have died for you alone were you the only person that required to be cleansed of sin?  Do you believe that Jesus was both man and God and that he dwelt among us on this earth and died a human death in order to cleanse the world of the sin brought upon us by Adam?  If you have answered yes but have not confessed this, please join me in reciting this prayer:-

Feel free to get in touch with any questions you have or if you have a specific topic that you would like me to cover.  I believe that God has called me to help new Christians in their journey so please do not feel anxious or ashamed to come to me for any advice.  

If you prayed this prayer today, CONGRATULATIONS, and Welcome to the Family of God my Brothers and Sisters.    

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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How Do I Pray – Part 3

Psalm 42:9 “I say to God, my rock, “why have you forgotten me?  Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?” 

Psalm 43:2 “For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you cast me off?”

The Book of Psalms is a fantastic book to look through when you really do not know what to pray.  Perhaps you are tired, perhaps you are suffering from depression or anxiety or you are angry with God.  It can be helpful to know that you are not alone!  King David, the author of many of the psalms faced these very same struggles and he has written about them in beautiful poetic language that we can use in our prayers.  One of the most wonderful things about Scripture is that the characters within its pages are just like you and me!  King David committed adultery, the lady became pregnant, he tried to cover his sin by bringing her husband back from the army that he may sleep with her and think that the baby was his.  They did not sleep together so David had him killed!  All of this began because David caught sight of this woman bathing!  The sin of lust became adultery and murder!

1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  The wonderful aspect of Christianity is that all sin is wiped clean!  Acts 3:19 “Repent then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”  There is no one on this earth that is too evil for God to forgive!  God loves every single person he has created and is waiting for them to turn to him.  It does not matter what you have done, God knows, and God is ready to forgive.  Do not be too ashamed to bring your sin to God, instead, with a humble heard confess all, receive God’s forgiveness and try again! You will undoubtedly fail again, and again, and again because we are all sinners, but you will be forgiven again, and again, and again because of God’s infinite grace!

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  God wants us to go to him whatever our situation, in the happiest of moments and the most tragic of moments.  There are times in our life when we cannot bear the weight of despair upon us, but God can, and He is willing to take it from us so go to Him.  I can say from personal experience that God shoulders our burdens and allows us to continue day to day.  I am not saying the pain is no longer present, but it certainly becomes bearable.

I know there are times when you try to pray, and you have no words, or you cannot even contemplate prayer, but I have recently found a solution!  Creative Time with Jesus!  Now until a few weeks ago I considered myself appalling at anything remotely arty and I shied away from doing anything creative!  However, I attended an online Cheerfully Given Creativity Christianity Summit and it literally changed my life!  I now write this blog, do lettering, designs on paper and pc, I draw, I paint, I upcycle objects and I am willing to give anything a try!  God is wonderful at putting things into your life at just the right time!!  It is worth giving these things a go if you are struggling with prayer time.  Take a section of Scripture, grab a piece of paper and some pencils or pens, and just write and draw what is in your heart.  By doing this you are spending time with Jesus and you are learning Scripture also!  Of course, if this is not your “thing” there are loads of alternatives, do some knitting, make clay models, paint, write poems, the world is your oyster.  There are no boundaries to creativity!  

Another piece of advice I would love to pass on to you is using a Daily Devotional.  I find this a wonderful aid to my prayer time.  Find one that suits you, they come in lots of forms, books, booklets, apps etc.  The one I use has a written piece by the author and Old and New Testament Scripture, a Psalm, and a Proverb and by reading this, I will read the Bible in one year.  From these readings I write in my prayer journal whatever has touched my heart and use this to guide my prayers.

Prayer Journals are a fabulous way to guide your prayer.  There is usually a space to write the Scripture you are reading, how you will apply this to your life, prayers for others, things you are thankful for etc.  You will find many of these sheets online which are available as a free download or you can purchase a book or design your own one!

I really hope you have found this to be useful and please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need any advice or prayer. 

I want to finish my blog with a simple prayer.  Just as we struggle with prayer sometimes so did the disciples, so they asked Jesus to teach them to pray and Jesus answered them:-

“When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed by your name. 

Your kingdom come. 

Give us each day our daily bread. 

And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. 

And do not bring us to the time of trial.” Luke 11:2-4

When prayer is hard, this is all you need to say.  Give it a try today!

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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How Do I Pray – Part 2

In my last blog I introduced you to the acronym, ACTS:-

Let us look at this in a bit more detail.  At the end of each paragraph I have added some Bible verses which will help relate these passages to Scripture:-

Adoration – How does it make you feel when someone you care for tells you they love you and that you make their world a better place.  It makes you feel a glow in your heart doesn’t it!  Well God likes it too!  It is so important that we take time out to let God know we love him.  God designed man in order that he could fellowship amongst us.  God wants companionship.  God, in his very essence being love wants to see this love in others and this love returned to him.  Start with a simple “I love you God” and then tell him why “because you are always there for me”, “because you have taken my into your family”.  If you are going through a time of struggle and perhaps you are not able to feel love for anyone ask God to help you by pouring His love out to you.”  Deuteronomy 6:5, Psalm 99:5, 116:1, John 15:9, Romans 5:5, 1 Corinthians 8:3.

Confession – How do you feel when someone has done something wrong to you and will not acknowledge it or apologise?  You likely feel anger towards them.  Perhaps you want to cast them out from your friendship group or your marriage, family etc!  God, in his very being is goodness.  Goodness is not just a characteristic of God but his very being and, for that reason, he cannot look upon evil, he abhors evil and this is why it is so important to confess your sins to him.  Of course, he already knows what you have done wrong, even evils you are not even aware of! However, he wants you to acknowledge your sin, he wants you to confess it and ask for his forgiveness and only in this way can the relationship between you and God remain unimpeded.  Acts 3:19, Romans 10:9, 1 John 1:9

Thanksgiving – Imagine that you spend a whole afternoon traipsing around the shops looking for that perfect birthday gift for someone or over the course of a month you knit several beautiful baby outfits for a new mum and now imagine when you hand over the gift that you receive no acknowledgement whatsoever.  Although you have not given the gift in order to receive anything you are still likely to feel a little upset.  Jesus suffered the most horrific death for you!  Jesus hung for 3 hours on the cross, struggling for every breath, the pain would have been agonizing in his hands and feet, but nothing compared to the pain in his chest as the weight of his body bore down upon his organs before, eventually, his lungs could breathe no more and he did this for you! The night before his crucifixion, Jesus sweated blood (a medically understood phenomenon occurring when the body is under great stress).  He sweated blood from fear and anxiety as he cried to his Father to remove this fate from him.  Yet this fate was not taken from him and the next day he faced the dreaded cross for you! If you were the only sinner on this world, Jesus still would have faced this for you!  I think that is worth thanking him for regularly!  I have faced times of heartache and there have been times that I could not think of anything good in my life, my soul was in such torment, however, this is the time you need to get back to basics.  You lie down in a soft bed, thank God, you wake in the morning, thank God because he is giving you a new day and maybe today you will see the light at the end of the tunnel, you can lock your door and be safe inside your house, thank God, you have food to eat, thank God.  Once you get started you are sure to find many blessings to thank God for and this really helps your mental health as bit by bit you find reasons to be of cheer!  2 Corinthians 4:15, Ephesians 5:19-20, Colossians 3:17, James 1:2-4.

Supplication – What would happen if you had a friend that only contacted you to request something, sometimes money, often your time etc.  Do you think you would be in fellowship long with this friend?  Definitely not!  This is completely one sided.  In many ways so is our relationship with God, however, God’s grace far outweighs ours!  God does not ask anything from us but our acceptance of his son Jesus and his work on the cross and if God wishes us to have our requests then He will grant them to us.  Matthew 7:7-11, 21:22, Philippians 4:6, James 1:5.

To Be Continued ….

Meanwhile, have a look at the verses, pick a quiet spot and have a chat with your heavenly Father.

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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How Do I Pray?

It can feel strange at first when you start praying.  If you are like me the word itself can make you uncomfortable to begin with.  We can be so used to thinking negatively about prayer.  We may have heard comments such as “Like that is going to work!”, “Do they really think someone is listening” or “Look at the weirdo speaking to himself!”  Yet when man finds himself in a pit of despair and tragedy strikes who do they so often turn to, whether Christian or otherwise?  They turn to the one that deep down they know is the only answer to their problem, the one they have supressed in their lives believing they have the strength themselves to get through life but now they discover they are weak and they need the one who has infinite strength, Jesus.

You may have heard other people pray and it may sound complex or emotions may be displayed that are foreign to you.  Please do not let this dampen your spirit for prayer.  Prayer is different for everyone.  Put simply, prayer is a conversation, a chat between you and your saviour and you can speak to him as you would your father, your friends, or your spouse.  God has no expectations of you.  He just wants you to come to him.  He can see into your heart so before you utter a word, he already knows what you are going to say so think on this and just let your heart empty before him.  If you need help to pray, ask him, if you do not know what to pray, ask him.  A helpful acronym I have learnt to guide prayer is:-

Begin by finding a time where the house is quiet, and you can be alone and uninterrupted … if this is possible!  Then with eyes closed or open, hands open or closed in prayer position, lying down, standing up, in the shower, hanging out washing just begin to talk to God.  You can talk out loud or in your head, God will hear either way.  Imagine that Jesus is sitting with you.  He is looking into your eyes and he just wants you to accept him, he wants you to acknowledge what he did for you and love him for it, he wants you to recognise what gifts he has bestowed upon you, to confess your sins to him so that he can forgive you and help you to become more like him and he wants you to tell him your desires. 

As I write this, I am very conscious of the problems I have with prayer myself.  Suffering from a continually active mind which from time to time represents itself as anxiety I find it difficult to focus.  My husband gave me a great tip …  Pray little and often throughout the day!  Perhaps you are having a lovely walk with your dogs, just say a quick thank you to God for the blessing of these puppies and the health you have to be able to walk with them.  Perhaps you are doing gardening in the sun, tell God how wonderful a creator he is that he has created such beautiful flowers!  If you are stung by a bee and a less than desirable word flows from your mouth, confess your sin to God and ask for his healing hands to rest upon the sting and take the pain from you. 

Another confusing thing can be who to pray to!  I have heard many people pray to Jesus and I have heard people pray to God.  I have also heard people pray to the Spirit.  These are all perfectly acceptable as God is both one and all of these persons.  If you feel comfortable chatting to Jesus and imagine him sitting with you then pray to Jesus, if you have more of an idea of God on his heavenly throne then chat to him and if you want the Spirit to come into your life more abundantly then pray to him. 

I am beginning to realise that this is a huge topic, so I am going to unpack this further tomorrow but meantime, happy praying and enjoy your special time with your father.

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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Is It Important That I Pray?

Prayer is the most important aspect of being a Christian.  This is the medium through which we can connect with our Father.  Prior to the resurrection of Jesus there was no access to the Father but, through the sacrifice of Jesus and the help of the Holy Spirit, we can speak with God, anywhere, anytime!

There are countless reasons for prayer.  I have detailed some below:-

  • To confess our sin, 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  Our sin has been forgiven through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, however, it is still necessary to confess our sin daily and ask for forgiveness in order that we can be right with God because  sin raises a barrier between man and God.
  • To thank God and show gratitude, Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”  It can be easy to pray when we need something or when we are in a desperate situation and see no way out.  We are all guilty of this and surprisingly even those who would not class themselves as Christian frequently turn to prayer in times of tragedy!  While there is nothing wrong with this per se it is important that we thank God through the good times and bad.  Even when we cannot see beyond the fog it is highly likely there are still blessings in your life, Having a roof over your head! Having food to eat! Being of reasonable health! Having family around you! Having God to speak to!  The more you do this, the more you will see what God has done in your life!  If times are hard right now and nothing seems to be going right, just thank God for waking you up that morning and for causing the sun to rise another day bringing hope for a brighter future!
  • To get healing, James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  It is important to note that it is not always God’s will to heal.  If someone is not healed this not necessarily because of sin or ineffective prayer, but that God, sees the bigger picture.  We will never understand this as we view things from such a small perspective.  It can seem cruel and unfair in our finite mind, but we must trust that God’s plans are much better than any that we could imagine!
  • To ask for wisdom, James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  When we first start to read the Bible, it can be very confusing because we don’t know the characters, we don’t know the history and the narrative can be very different to the type we are used to.  There is a simple answer to this … pray.  Ask for the wisdom to discern the text and it will be given unto you.  
  • To get help with anxiety and worry, Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  It can be very easy to let our human worries overwhelm us and our loads can be very heavy but Jesus asks us to take our load off and hand it to him and he will bear it for us!  I know that this is not an easy prayer … it is something I struggle with myself.  However, it is important because when we hold onto the anxieties and worries, we are sabotaging our work for God and our relationship with him. 
  • To be close to God, Psalms 145:18 “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”  If we were to ignore our friends, never text, never call, never go round to see them, it is unlikely they will be your friend for much longer.  Although God promises to never leave us or forsake us, he is waiting for us to come and speak with him, he is our heavenly father and we need to draw close to him.
  • To get help for unbelief, Mark 9:24 “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  Another problem that I have experienced frequently is lack of faith …  Sometimes this can be something Christians are embarrassed to admit but it is likely we all suffer from it from time to time.  How can we speak to someone that we cannot see!  Usually when we do this, we are accused of being insane!! However, there is someone there and just because we cannot see something does not mean it does not exist!  I cannot see the oxygen I breathe but I know it is there because I am still alive!!  It is clear in this bible passage and many others that it is perfectly acceptable to ask God for help with unbelief.  Remember God sees your heart and so he knows of your unbelief before you ask him.  He will be pleased that you seek help!  
  • To humble oneself before God and submit to God’s will, James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  Matthew 26:42 “He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”  It is necessary that we give credit to God.  It is never in our own strength that we achieve but through him who created us.  How annoyed are we when our work is plagiarised?  Then think of our father in heaven when we puff ourselves up with our achievements!  We must be humble before our father.  Only by humble submission will we achieve the will of God in our lives.  Even Jesus himself, God incarnate submitted to the Father’s will so how much more should we!
  • To get help withstanding temptation, Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Temptation is all around us and the only one who can save us from this is our Father.
  • To ask for something, 1 John 5:14 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”, James 4:3 “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”  There is nothing wrong with coming before our Father to ask for something, however, this must be of his will.  It is unlikely if you present yourself before the father asking him to make you rich so that you can buy a fancy car and a wardrobe full of designer clothes that he will grant this because it is unlikely to be his will unless through this somehow his name will be glorified!  Be careful what you wish for that it is in line with the spirit of Jesus!
  • To sing praise, James 5:13 “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.”  Prayer need not always be a solemn devotion to God.  There are many tales of exuberant praise in the Bible, so it is just as important to recite praise to God or perhaps put on a worship song and sing to him or play your instrument to the father.

You may wonder why I have so many Bible references throughout my writing?  The reason is that I desire my blog to be of God and not of man and therefore it is especially important that everything that I write has its foundation in the Word of God. 

It is important that you look at these verses and learn from them.  Some are from the Old Testament and some from the New.  The chapter numbers are the large numbers beside headings (it is important to note that these headings were not in the original text but were added much later).  The verse numbers are small and are placed throughout the text.  At the top of each page you will see where the page begins i.e. Mark 1:28 and on the opposite page where it ends i.e. Mark 3:12. 

I have provided quite a lot of information in this blog, so I think it best I leave it at this for today and continue tomorrow with more information on prayer!

Meantime, enjoy the scripture readings and if you have a Bible have a look at them in there, you may want to read a little extra from before and after the above texts to familiarise yourself with the setting,  If you are yet to purchase a Bible check in the app stores as there is a wide choice of Bible software to choose from and you will have access to this immediately. 

Please remember that I am here for any advice that you may need so do not hesitate to get in touch.

Lastly, “Pray always. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”” Romans 12:12.

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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ΟΚ I Know What To Expect From A Church Service But Which One Should I Go To?

During my life I have visited many churches and received a different experience in each.  It is not my mission to criticise or show favouritism towards any one denomination but rather highlight these experiences in order that you may be helped to identify a church type that would best suit you.  I am aware of the type of church that is more suited to me at this point in my life, but this is not a one size fits all situation.  Taking the above into account, let us look at the different styles.      

There are so many different churches out there that it can be difficult to know which is the right fit for you.  I think I would be accurate to say that the majority of Christians are not perfect and only when we ascend to heaven will we find the one true church of God.

As I only have an understanding of churches in the UK, this is all I can advise on.  Different cultures of course make for different styles of worship.  In the UK, the majority of Christian churches would fall under Church of Scotland, Church of England, Free Church, Baptist, Independent and Catholic. 

Catholic services can be conservative, with traditional hymns and sermon etc.  It is important to note that Catholic doctrine differs from that of the rest of the churches above quite significantly.  This is something I can go into more detail about in another blog.  Cathedrals are often incredibly beautiful buildings which are often open throughout the day for private worship, confession etc.   

The closest service to that of the Catholic service would be the Church of England or Episcopalian Service.  The Church of England was formed when Henry VIII broke away from the catholic church and so many of the features still exist.  The service is again very traditional though it is important to note that styles will differ depending on the minister as some may be more flamboyant and extravert than others!  Again, these churches are often open for private worship.  There is no confession within the Church of England.    

The Church of Scotland again tends to be very conservative, the congregations belonging to the churches I have visited were generally of an older demographic.  The hymns are usually of the traditional variety accompanied by an organ although there may be some variations at times. 

The Church of Scotland and England are held accountable to a national assembly which is positive in that there is a body of accountability in order to protect the Word of God.  If a minister is seen to misrepresent Scripture or abuse his position, he is likely to face the assembly.    

In recent years there has been a huge rise in independent churches.  These may be called Community Churches, Fellowships, Vineyard etc.  These are usually found within halls, schools etc although there are purpose built, modern buildings, housing these churches also.  Here you will tend to find modern worship which may be accompanied by guitar, drums etc.  The congregation will tend to be more visibly involved in praise which to an outsider can seem a little strange until you get used to it and realise that this is likely how worship was undertaken in Biblical times – with hands raised up to God and eyes closed in adoration!  It was within these churches that I first discovered the role of the Holy Spirit.  Again, this is completely Scriptural given that God is both one and three, Father, Son and Spirit (I will leave the Trinity explanation for another blog!).  In my experience the brothers and sisters that belong to this church tend to be more involved with one another, they are commonly divided into small groups who fellowship together and are there to support one another.  They also have frequent events and get togethers.   

I have tried not to sway readers in any direction but instead give a testimony of my experiences so what I would say is read the passages about the church in the New Testament and come to your own conclusion of which church meets these expectations.  There are also other factors to consider.  If you have young children, for example, it is especially important that there is a good Sunday School for the children to grow up in the Lord.  It is important that you connect with people of your own age so that you can support one another through life’s ups and downs.  Worship is a valuable time to connect with your brothers and sisters and if you do not connect with old fashioned hymns or modern worship is too loud for you then this time will be wasted and ineffective.  If you have an insular nature, then perhaps the exuberant and heavily involved modern church may be too much for you and you may be more suited to a quieter church with a more traditional feel. 

Of course,  by necessity I have generalised somewhat, but I hope that I have given an example of what is out there, what to expect and what is important when choosing a church.  The most important aspect is that the Word of God is preached. I would suggest taking your Bible along with you to church and you can always have a look and check the accuracy of the sermon or better still take some notes during the sermon, go home and read along with the passages referred to. 

Every word of Scripture is important and should not be overlooked or added to, 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

If you feel daunted by walking into a church I would suggest you try and get someone to go with you, if this is not possible then why not message the church before you plan to go and I am sure they will get someone to look out for you at the door and show you the ropes.  Another idea is to let the people at the door know that this is your first time and they should make you feel comfortable.     

Finding the right church for you is so important as your place of worship has the capacity to fuel your faith or ultimately extinguish it!  I have experienced both. The profoundly important aspect is your relationship with God so please let this be your true guide.  Happy Worshipping!

Love and Blessings

Louise x       

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What Happens At A Church Service

Going to church for the first time can be a very daunting experience.  You have no idea what will go on there, if people will accept you, if you will do something wrong.  Even moving from one church to another can fill many with fear.  Sadly, this is not what Jesus intended, indeed, it is something that he fought against during his time on earth.  Like a lighthouse bringing her boats into safety, so the church should be a beaming light in the darkness, where anyone can seek refuge.   

Let us have a look at what the Bible tells us about church.  Firstly, who does the Bible say is welcome? The answer is Everyone!

1 Corinthians 12:13 “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free ….”

Jesus tells his disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations …..”, Matthew 28:19 and this sentiment is reiterated in John 10:16 when he says “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.  So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”  Up until this point, God’s sheep were the nation of Israel, here Jesus speaks of the gentiles coming to join Israel as people of God.

These passages make it clear that all are welcome within the church, whatever one’s ethnicity, financial situation, race, sexuality, gender, etc.  No one should be excluded from the house of God.  There are certain exceptions if a person continues in sin and is causing disruption etc. but this would be a blog unto itself!  It is important to understand that every single person in that church building is a sinner, including the preacher, minister or elder.   

When you walk into a church building you should be made to feel welcome.  You should feel comfortable enough to approach anyone and ask any questions you have about the service or the Scriptures.  If you are not received warmly please do not think negatively at all about yourself, I assure you this is a problem with the particular church and not you.  It is quite normal to try out a few churches sometimes even more before you find the one that fits you best so do not be at all discouraged.  Instead just check out some other ones online and try a new one the next week!!  

What should happen at a church service?

1 Corinthians 14:26 is a great description of a church service “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

James 5:14  Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.”

The above passages show us that a service should include musical praise which need not necessarily be old fashioned songs.  God wishes his children to worship him and he would be just as happy with praise in any form however modern or noisy!  If one looks at the Old Testament you will find the worship of God was often a noisy affair!  The service should also include teaching and instruction in the Lord and the person undertaking such work must be qualified not necessarily by degree etc. but he must be intimately familiar with the Scriptures.

However, the service is undertaken whether the praise is led by organ or drums, the instruction given by minister, pastor or elder, prayers spoken on bended knee, sitting, or standing, all must be done for the glory of God.  A teacher of the law asked Jesus what the most important commandment was, and Jesus answered “‘…. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31. 

This blog may have confused many of you rather than made things clearer!  You may be wondering why, when the Bible so clearly details what a church service should look like why there are so many differences?  It confuses me too! My next blog will continue this theme and try to help you find a church that is a good fit for you, however, in the meantime, just focus on the important factors above and remember you always have the truth in the palm of your hand when you hold your Bible!!

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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Do I Need To Go To Church?

There are countless people today identifying as Christian, who read their Bible and pray daily yet never visit a church and there are those who never miss a Sunday service, yet Monday through Saturday their eyes will not as much as glimpse at the Bible and the name of the Lord will not leave their lips.

Neither of the above lifestyles fit with the biblical description of what a Christian should look like.  Luke 6:6 and Mark 1:21  show that Jesus regularly went to church.  Even when only 12 years old he remained in the temple while his parents left to journey home believing he was within their midst.  Later, when they found him, “He said to them, “Why were you searching for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s House?” Luke 2:41-52.    

Being a Christian on your own can be incredibly challenging.  I have experience of this myself.  The world is not always accepting of the faith and it can be extremely hard being singled out and labelled.  For many years I have not been quite sure where I fit in.  I have been at times very much part of the world and far from God and the next longing to be close to him and doing my best to imitate Christ.  Lately, this has changed for me.  I used to think committing myself fully to God would mean having less friends because as far I was concerned there were not many Christians of my age group around me, however, recently, I have discovered the opposite.  I have made many new friends and my walk with the Lord has turned into more of a hop, skip and jump!  I feel at home now.  I occasionally have a wobble, but I have learned this is normal.  Having people around me going through the same journey I can be encouraged at these times and be reassured.  Now I know this feeling will not last because I am firmly rooted in God’s love and I am going to meet more brothers and sisters in Christ as I journey on.  I now have the confidence not to worry what others may think about my decision to accept Christ, I know I am part of something wonderful.

In Colossians 3:16 we see what a church service should look like “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts, sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God.”  It is so important to teach one another in the Scriptures, to hold each other firm when one slips away from the Lord, with gentle admonishment guide each other back and worship the Lord with instruments and voice.  This gives us the opportunity to come together as children of God in worship to him.  We are all given a different gift to be used in service to the Lord, 1 Corinthians 14:26 “What should be done then, my friends?  When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation.  Let all things be done for building up.”  To neglect to go to church is like living as a hand or an eye without the rest of your body, of course, impossible, and thus neither is it possible to serve God on one’s own, 1 Corinthians 12:17 “If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?  If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?  Paul teaches us here that we all have something to share and give to the service of God and therefore it is necessary to find a church that one can serve in by whatever gift has been bestowed upon you.

James tells us, 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.  The power of the righteous is powerful and effective.”  James recognises the importance of supporting each other.  We need each other’s prayers through our struggles with sin or our difficult seasons.

Pop back to see my next post on finding the right church for you but in the meantime, have courage my brothers and sisters, reach out and get that powerful family of God network around you.  If you are let down, do not be disheartened, a true brother or sister will come alongside you, so just keep your arms open.

Love and Blessings

Louise x  

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Is It Important That I Read The Bible?

Yes! Yes! Yes! Though Paul The Apostle makes it clear in his letter to the Romans, (1:20) that everyone knows of God by the world around us it is important that we get to know him better. Would you describe a relationship you have with a “friend of a friend” who you only hear about second hand as a loving relationship? Certainly not. There are elements of God’s character that we can find out about by looking at the beauty around us just as there are elements you would discover from your friend about her friend. We understand that God is loving to provide such a special place for us to live. We can tell he is creative by just how impressive the world is. We do not, however, form a relationship with him through this “General Revelation”. We need to read his story, get to know him, understand his plans for us and his will for our lives. Whatever your literary genre of choice you will find it in the Holy Bible. There are action stories of war and suffering, both defeats and great victories for the Israelites, there is romance, dare I say on the side of erotic romance in the Songs of Solomon. Horror abounds as we read of demon possession, you will read of crime and punishment galore in the form of murder, assault, adultery and more… Throughout the Old and New Testament we journey with the characters as they travel throughout the Middle East and as far as Rome. Within these pages are little biographies of hundreds of historical figures that we can resonate with and discover how people lived over 2000 years ago. The Gospels combine political intrigue with a biography of Jesus including his sometimes comedic similes, Matt 15:14 “And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit”. Matthew 23:24 “You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! If you are a fan of self help books, you will find the ultimate guide in Scripture, from Proverbs which teaches wisdom and discernment to the Epistles of Paul which explains what Christian life should like, there is no aspect of your life that you will not find guidance for within these most sacred of pages.   Happy Reading and please pop back tomorrow to see my next blog entitled, OK I need to read the Bible, but which one??