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Christianity faith God Jesus Love racism Religion

Church and Faith: Dead or Alive

I understand only too well what faith looks like both dead and alive as I have experienced both.  I have experienced a complete lack of trust in God, I have experienced anger with God, I have ignored God completely and rested on my own strength and I have doubted the very existence of God.  I have fooled myself by believing I was alive in faith when, in reality, my faith was dead.

Recently, thanks be to God, I have discovered what faith looks like when it is alive!!  Lockdown has literally saved my husband and I.  While, before our faith was dead, we are now truly alive in Christ!  We live for Jesus.  Previously, my husband, like many others, whiled away his days staring at his phone, now, he wakes at 5am for prayer and study before work at 9am.  He had intended to sleep until 7 or 8 at the weekend but he has been unable to, he is too excited to spend time with God!  He is reading an impossible number of books in order that he can write a book for new Christians exploring who Jesus is!  I have spent lockdown making lots of new Christian friends, I have undertaken various studies and summits which have inspired me greatly, without them I would not be writing this blog! Our plans are no longer our own and we are happier than we have ever been!  I woke this morning after a very disturbed night’s sleep and I thought I will just have a relaxing day, finish the book I am reading entitled “God’s Smuggler”, catch up on some housework and do some craft.  God had other ideas!  As I began to get ready and look forward to my lazy day, my mind became inundated with thoughts.  This has happened a lot since I became “alive” especially since I started writing my blog!  This told me that God had other plans for my day!  So here I am trying to assemble my racing thoughts into coherent English once again.  You may ask, how do you know this is of God?  The answer is simple, because despite my idea of a relaxing day being turned on its head and my plans being totally disrupted, I am happy, I am excited, I am eager.  At the drop of a hat, my plans changed, and I delighted in it.  I delight in it because I know that this is God’s will, that by writing this I please God and that by writing this I may help even one person who is struggling with their faith. 

Coming to faith or indeed recognizing your faith is dead can be torturous, it can be mentally exhausting, you can be confused about who you are!  For years I was at war with myself, I was a soldier in a silent battle between God’s will and my own.  When I was defeated and accepted God’s victory, I then became swamped with questions, far more than I could find answers to!  By my own selfishness I had kept Jesus at arm’s length and, inevitably, this is why my personal journey was so difficult.  I did not want to let go of “my life”.  I liked my life just the way it was, or at least I thought I did.  It took far too long but, finally, I realised that the very things I thought made me happy were having the opposite effect.  Life will never go the way we want it to all the time and therefore, focussing on oneself is unlikely to lead to happiness.  This is a difficult concept to understand as it contradicts our modern thinking which advises “Be who you want to be!”, “Do what makes you happy!”” etc. etc.  This may work when you are employed, healthy, in love etc.  What happens when you are sick, you lose your job, your partner leaves, how do we just make ourselves happy then?  The reality is true happiness and contentment is found only in Jesus.  The peace and happiness that rests in your heart when you finally ditch your sense of self and accept God’s will in your life is unlike anything else one can experience. 

So how can you achieve this?  Well, for me, it was learning to trust God, to completely trust that everything that is happening in my life right now is God’s will and that it is for the good.  I may not see the good in this lifetime, but I trust at some point, I will!  It is surrounding yourself with faithful believers.  Lockdown has provided so many opportunities for me to join in different church services, bible studies, summits, conferences etc. that I otherwise would have been unable to attend.  This has literally changed my life, from the Cheerfully Given Creative Christianity Summit which turned me from an adamant uncreative whose biggest artistic achievement would be the sun, grass, bird, house picture of a four year old child to a buzzing creative with her own craft trolley, who is so full of ideas that she carries a notebook around with her at all times so that her head does not explode! The Aberdeen Christian Fellowship Big Church Weekend which brought my husband and I into the community of believers in Christ who welcomed us warmly.  The Alpha Course where we met fabulous new friends who we keep in touch with regularly, we chat, we laugh, we pray for each other and, God willing, we will soon meet each other face to face for a time of fellowship.  Watching Angus Buchan’s Mighty Men’s Conferences which due to Covid are broadcast online!  Seeing the faithful heart of Angus Buchan inspires us so much to follow in his footsteps, to live our lives for Christ.  Watching an African Church Service where praise is paramount, little is spoken without “Amen” or “Halleluiah”.  This is the faith I strive for, the faith to praise Jesus without fear or embarrassment.  A “Get Out Of Your Head Bible Study” where as a group of women we come together to discuss our struggles and our faith, we pray for each other and we learn from each other and I see Jesus in each and every one of these woman.  Scripture tells us how important it is to fellowship with one another, Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

I fully understand the fears that you may have as new Christians reaching out to believers.  It can be difficult; I understand that churches can be cliquey, and some church goers may not be approachable.  I want to say to you that this is your time!!  Coronavirus may have been meant for bad, but God is using it for good.  I would not have had the confidence to attend the above in person and though I was still apprehensive, sitting in my own house, in my chilling clothes made things much easier!  I did not have to worry about my appearance, I did not have to worry about whether I could escape if I were uncomfortable and anxious because all I needed to do was press the Leave Meeting button!  Luckily, I have never felt the need to do this!  So, I urge you, give it a go!  Sign up for Alpha, watch a church service, sign up to Bible Studies or small groups.  Just have a peek and see!!    

For the church, this is the time to rise to the challenge.  Statistics show a huge rise in church attendance during this pandemic, people are interested, people want to know more, people need Jesus.  Acts 2:46-47 “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” 1 Corinthians 3:9 “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

Like Martin Luther King Jr I too have a dream and mine is this … that we will see the Church of God come alive.  That the church will unite throughout the world focussing on union and not division.  That this church will exist for the glory of God and that the living Word of God will be preached with joy and love and without errancy.  That this church will welcome each and every soul as their brother or sister, that they will be welcomed with open arms and encouraged each step of their journey and that those who arrive as strangers, leave as family.  I dream that this church will heal the sick and save the lost.  That testimonies will be shared with joy and fervour.  That the praise will be resounding and powerful that those outside of the building may know that God is alive.  That the walls of this church will tremble from the vociferous preaching held in its midst and that this good news will flow to the ends of the earth and not be silenced.  That no brother or sister is left in any need, but is provided for financially, practically, and emotionally and that this church stands together, shoulder to shoulder with each other living out the graceful love of God.

Ephesians 2:19-20 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” 

Romans 12:4-5 “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

1 Corinthians 12:13 “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”

Let this season of tragedy emerge a season of triumph!  Let the people come!!

Love and Blessings

Louise xx

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Christianity faith God Jesus Love racism Religion

What Is Love?

This is the age-old question….  What is true love?  Many of us believe we are in love when we start to miss a person when they are not around, perhaps we have an experience and think “I wish this person was here to share this.”  Maybe when we put their needs above our own i.e. you watch a movie of their choice rather than the one you have been desperately waiting to see.  Godly love surpasses what we, as man are capable of, yet as Christians it must be our goal.  We may believe that we are experiencing godly love when we feel we would lay down our life for another person, John 15:13  “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”.  Yet, how many of us would lay down our lives for a stranger, or still yet, an enemy, Jesus did, Romans 5:8 “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Love forms the basis of the two most important commandments which are present in all four Gospels, Matthew 22:35-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28 and John 13:34.

So, what does Godly love look like?

  • Godly love shows honour, Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.”  More than this it humbles us to the point that we care more for the one we love than we do our own selves.  We put the needs of others above the needs of ourselves, we will go hungry in order that another can be fed.   
  • Godly love is everything, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing”.  1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”.  Paul explains to us in these passages that love is everything, nothing compares with love, without love, one has nothing.  It is the essence of God and without this essence we are dead.   
  • Godly love involves action, 1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  Love is not something that we merely say to each other but something visible, love is alive, love is action in our day to day lives.  
  • Godly love is familial, Hebrews 13:1-2 “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.”  Love is not casual.  It is not a complacent “Love Ya” that is so common on today’s society but the type of love that one has for his own flesh and blood, for we are all made in the image of God and within the church we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are an eternal family. 
  • Godly love covers sin, 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.”  We see this in our day to day lives, how often have our children misbehaved and treated us badly but we smile and forgive them because we love them.  We argue with our spouses then laugh it off because we love one another, were this an argument with a stranger we would surely not be so quick to forgive.
  • Godly love provides for others, 1 John 3:17 “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”  John is not just suggesting that we help each other out but insisting that if we do not do this and we do not have empathy for others that we do not have God within us at all!  Paul also calls us to help each other, Galatians 6:2, Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”
  • Godly love rejoices in the truth, 1 Corinthians 13:6 “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  Lies have no place in Godly love.  Lies are not of God.  Whenever we lie, we lie to God Himself, Acts, 5:1-4 “Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge, he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
  • Godly love is our goal and our aim as Christians, Paul, in praying for the Thessalonians, asks for an increase in love, 1 Thessalonians 3:12 “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.”
  • Godly love is part of the fruit of the spirit Galatians 5:22,23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,  kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,  self-control;  against such things there is no law.”  The fruit of the spirit is all goodness.  There is no law against these because in these there can be no evil.
  • Godly love is patient and kind, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”  Because we are so egocentric being patient can be exceedingly difficult for us, but we must strive for this virtue as this is part of Godly love.   
  • Godly love glorifies God, John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples if you love one another.”  When we radiate love, we radiate Jesus.  Others can see Jesus in us.  If, while we claim to be Christians, we mistreat others, are self-centred, angry, etc etc. others will not see Jesus in a good light, they will not think that this is a God they want to follow.  However, when they see kindness in the face of hostility, love in the face of hate, forgiveness in the face of bitterness, then they see our God for who He is, our loving God.
  • Godly love even loves enemies, Lev 19:34 “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”  Matt 5:43-48, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”  Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.  We see in the Old Testament as well as the New this commandment to love one’s enemies.  This is important in order to separate God’s people from the rest of the nations.  When we think of the most evil people that we can imagine in history, these people still loved their families very much, therefore, it is having the capacity to love those who would harm you that shows the power and glory of God, our Father.  Jesus taught us this beautiful in the Parable of the Good Samaritan:-   

Luke 10:25-37  “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”  He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself”.  “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”  But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”  In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’  “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

  • Godly love is the Law and the Prophets, Matt 22:37-40 Jesus replied: “‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”.  Gal 5:14, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”  Romans 13:8-10 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore, love is the fulfilment of the law”.  When one is truly filled with Godly love, it is physically impossible to break the Law, if one has the love of God, one cannot steal from another, or murder, or blaspheme, the evil is not present because the love is too great!

God has demonstrated this love for us, 1 John 4:9 “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.”  God bore the pain of parting with His Son for us, the very people, who turned away from God, who would rise up against Him…  God, our mighty Father humbled Himself, taking the form of man for us, for those who would blaspheme against Him. 

God, in His very being is love.  He does not just love as an emotion.  His very person is love itself.  1 John 4:8 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

We cannot be separated from this love, Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I hope to come back to this again and cover this in more detail especially looking at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 so please check back soon!

Meantime, please meditate on the many Bible verses I have shared with you, pray about them and let us all try and live them out more and more in our day to day lives for God’s Glory and the advancement of His Kingdom.

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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Christianity faith Religion

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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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?

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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OK I Want To Read The Bible But Which One?

So, you have decided to read the Bible, you go to the bookstore or visit Amazon and you are faced with a menagerie of choices!  Which one is for you?

What does the Bible consist of?

The Bible comprises of the Old and New Testaments.  The Old Testament, comprising 39 books, details the beginning of man and tells the story of the Israelites from their formation until approximately 500 years before the birth of Jesus.  This was originally written in the Hebrew language.  The New Testament, comprising of 27 books continues the story of God’s plan and in many ways fulfils the promises of the Old Testament.  These books introduce us to Jesus, his life, death and resurrection, and the work of his disciples.  This was originally written in Ancient Greek.   

How was the Bible was formed?

The New Testament was written over approximately 40-50 years by various people in various places and therefore it took years to be bound together into one unit.  During this time there were many false witnesses to the Word of God, those that would assume the name of a disciple or prophet.  Councils were therefore set up to protect the Scripture and to discern the true from the false.  Three characteristics were deemed necessary in order for a piece of writing to be declared part of the Holy Bible, these were: They must belong to a prophet, an apostle or one who had a special relationship to such, the witness of the Spirit must be clear in the writing and there must be an acceptance of the people of God i.e. those of Jesus’ disciples who were blessed with the Holy Spirit must accept them, for example, Jesus’ disciple Peter accepted the writings of Paul, 2 Peter 3:15,16.  By 400AD the canon we know as the New Testament was confirmed.  

Which translation should I choose?

For a first-time reader of the Bible some translations can seem intimidating such as the King James Version which was published in the 17th century and hence the wording can be a little tricky to understand.  For a first timer I would suggest the Good News Bible.  It is written in a format which is very readable.  There are also versions of the Bible which are written without chapters and headings and this can also be a good choice to begin with.  In fact, this is more relatable to the original texts as the chapters and verses were only added in the 16th century!  The New International Version is widely used amongst churches and universities. 

Which Type of Bible should I choose?

You will also find various types of translations such as Study Bibles, Reference Bibles, Journaling Bibles and Audio Bibles.  Perhaps while travelling to work pop on a CD and learn Scripture on your way to the office!  There is an extremely popular audio Bible which is read by David Suchet.  Study and Reference Bibles include a description of the text i.e. it may explain the original meaning of the words as in the ancient Greek and Hebrew languages one word could take on a variety of meanings so in our translation we can sometimes miss the full effect of the writings.  These Bibles may be a little distracting for a first time read but if you are desperate to really get to grips with Scripture then why not give it a try!  For the creatives out there and those who find the written word hard to understand or get to grips with I would strongly suggest a journaling Bible.  These have lines or a blank section to the side of the page which can be used for notes or pictures/paintings etc.  Why not read a few verses of Scripture and get to work with a design that encapsulates what you have learnt, this can be a fantastic way to spent time getting to know God and really getting to grips with His word.

Lastly, as many people of you would rather use technology to read, you will find the same choice of Bibles for kindle or another fantastic way of reading the Bible is through the various apps you will find.  I would suggest Bible in One Year by Alpha Int.  However, You Version is another fantastic resource with lots of different study guides and advice for newbie children of God. 

Just have a look what is out there, find the best fit for you and enjoy getting to know Jesus!  

Happy Reading and please get in touch for any further advice. 

Love and Blessings

Louise x