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Am I Good Enough?

Something that I have really wrestled with since coming to Christ is accepting that I am good enough to be a part of God’s family.  At times I have felt so out of touch with other believers and that I was very much the odd one out.  There was one occasion I left church swallowing hard to choke back my tears.  I felt like such a sinful person compared to everyone else and I told my husband that I would not be returning to church.  Luckily, he replied “you will be going again next week even if I have to fireman carry you there!”  I remained adamant for the next few days but then the feeling began to clear especially when my father in law put his arm around me and told me “Dear, none of us are good enough!”  Of course, he is right, there is not one person in the Holy Bible that is good enough apart from God Himself.  God does not want people that are righteous in and of themselves, who are able bodied for the task.  He wants people like you and me, people incapable of the job.  Why?  Because this is the way that He is Glorified.  

Moses didn’t feel good enough as we see in Exodus 3:11 “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and I that I should bring the children out of Egypt.”  And again in Exodus 4:10 “Then Moses said to the Lord “O My Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since you have spoken to your servant but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”  Yes this is the man God chose to speak to from the burning bush, calling him by his name and this is the man who God chose to lead approximately two and a half million people out of Egypt and guide them through a 40 year journey in the wilderness!!

I have found a lovely passage in a book by Angus Buchan entitled “Come of Age”

 “The question is not whether you are able, the question is: Are you available?  I have come to realise that God always honours faith.  God always uses faithful men and women to do His work, not men and women of great learning or great natural ability but men and women who are prepared to believe Him and do whatever He says no matter how ridiculous it might seem at the time.”

We must remember that we do not do anything in our own strength and thus our human, physical capabilities are irrelevant to God, the only thing that matters is our attitude.  We just need to listen to what God wants of us and have the courage to do it.  I can tell you sometimes it is not easy.  When I started this blog a few weeks ago, I was nervous, and the following fears went round and round in my mind:-

What if I make a mistake?

What if people don’t like it?

What if people think I am crazy?

What if it is not God’s will and I just think it is?

What if people defriend me because I am too Christian for them?

What if people are talking about me behind my back because of my views?

What if I plagiarise someone and I get sued?

What if my relationships with others are affected because they are not Christians?

What if people think I am annoying because I am being evangelical?

Despite all these misgivings I had to trust God.  At the end of the day, God is all we truly have.  All else can be taken away from us, our loved ones, our money, our possessions but God is with us forever.  Before the world was, He was and after the world is no more, He will still be.  God is infinite and omnipresent.  God is everywhere, there is nowhere we can go, and God will not be there, He is at once transcendent and imminent.  I could not allow these thoughts to gather pace in my mind.

I have been doing two Bible studies recently on mind management and checking our thoughts and have learnt much from these which I hope to share with you in another blog.  The main focus is on this scripture passage in 2 Corinthians 10:5 “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”.  We need to be aware of our spiralling thoughts which are not of God, take them captive and allow the thoughts which are of God to rule our heads!  

Don’t get me wrong, at times I am still scared but I do not let the thoughts take hold.  I have chosen to trust God with this.  My goal as a believer is to trust God in everything and I will continue to strive for this, but, as regards my blog, I have decided to trust God that this is what He wants from me and I have received some lovely messages from people saying how much a blog has helped them and this reassures me that my blog is of God.  The most wonderful achievement for me personally from this is that in trusting God and in doing His will I have found growth in my faith.  I have found happiness in something other than pleasing myself.  I find happiness in pleasing God!  It is likely some of my fears have come true, but it is irrelevant.  My heart is happy because I have aligned myself with God’s will and this is such a blessing to experience.  

There are many more biblical characters that seem “not good enough” who are such an inspiration to us, so I am going to continue with this theme in Part 2.  

Meantime, when you feel God telling you to do something (and bear in mind this may not be audible but rather your own voice in your head or perhaps the same topic cropping up continually in your readings) you may be scared, you may question God, you may be ashamed to do what He has asked of you but “Just Do It”.  There is no greater feeling of peace than knowing your actions are pleasing to God and that your relationship with Him is growing and developing.   

I leave you with this Scripture which is a favourite to many Christians, and you will see why!

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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What Is A Christian?

If you were to ask people this question, what do you think would be the reply?  I expect they would answer “a person that believes in God” and they would be correct, but we must be more specific.  There are many other religions of this world who believe in a god so we must make clear who the God is that we serve.  A Christian believes in the God of the Holy Bible who is at once one, God and three, Father, Son and Spirit, otherwise known as the Trinity.  A Christian believes in the Word of God.  A Christian does not treat the Bible like a pick and mix, he does not pick the aspects that suit his lifestyle and leave those that are troublesome for him.  Of course, there are those that claim to be Christians and do this very thing.  This is not what God has asked of us. 

I have found on my journey there are two types of Christian, the Sunday Christian, and the Believing Christian.  The Sunday Christian devotes the hours of 10-11 on a Sunday morning to worship God or at least appears to worship God and on exiting the church he leaves God behind.

God demands that we identify as Christian above all else, before identifying as wife, father, nurse, teacher, female, dog lover, body builder, artist, etc. etc. we are to be Christian.  God comes first and we are to love God above all else.  John Baillie, the Scottish Theologian sums this up well “A true Christian is a man who never for a moment forgets what God has done for him in Christ, and whose whole comportment and whole activity have their root in the sentiment of gratitude.”

I love this quote by Billy Graham, the North American Evangelist “The real Christian is a person who can give his pet parrot to the town gossip.”  At first glance you may think, ok so a real Christian is so free of sin that he is happy for his pet parrot to share all the goings on of his household to the whole town.  But is there in fact more to it?  Is it that no man is without sin, but the real Christian humbles himself to admit where he goes wrong?  He does not pretend to be perfect, puffing out his chest as though he were as holy as Jesus but rather, humbly shares his imperfectness with other imperfect people in the hope that together they will gravitate towards Christlikeness.

I used to feel that “Christians” were people who thought they were perfect and sinless, a people who felt superior to others and looked down upon them.  I am sure on some occasions I was right.  There are certainly some tv evangelists who would definitely fall into this category.  But when one is a true child of God, this is not how your mind works, in fact, it is the opposite.  Christians, getting to knowing God and His Word, become more aware of their sin.

When you become a Christian, you become a representative of Christ, the hands, and feet of Jesus on earth.  Therefore, one of faith must demonstrate this by his actions.  This is a mighty task, the most important task a Christian is assigned.  Note Well … You will fail.  Of that there is no doubt.  We will still sin.  Do not let this impede your walk with God, simply ask for forgiveness, apologise to anyone that you have sinned against and start again.  Every time you fall, just get back up.  There are many characters in the Bible who have fallen many times, yet they got back up.  Let us think of Peter, a disciple of Jesus.  While Jesus was being interrogated Peter denied even knowing him, not just once but three times yet it is Peter that Jesus built the Church upon, it was to Peter that Jesus handed the keys to heaven.

The true church of God consists of all Christians throughout the world joining as one family in Christ.

When joining a church, it is important to look for the good fruits of which Matthew speaks, but also look for unity and welcome, above all, look for Jesus.  If you find these, you have found a believing church!

I pray that you are thriving in a believing church or that you soon find one in order that your faith may grow in the fellowship of your brothers and sisters.

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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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