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bible art Book Review Christian Books Christianity faith God Goodreads Jesus Religion

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!!

Categories
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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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

Categories
christian music Christianity faith Religion Uncategorized

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)
Categories
Uncategorized

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

Categories
Christianity faith Religion

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 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 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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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 

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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??