Christian growth

New year, fresh start.

This is the time of year when there is a lot of talk about fresh starts. We look forward to a new beginning, to a better year, a better me. We make resolutions to change, we make goals to grow.

I used to do the exact same thing and even now I find myself thinking about changes I want to make but I put pressure on myself and I get to February and the diet is gone the goals forgotten as life takes over, surprises happen. I feel bad and like I have failed.

The bible says:

“There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭19:21‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Making plans is not a bad thing but we must remember it is God that is in control, we must pray and involve Him in all we want to do. His desire is that we have close fellowship with Him and He cares about everything we want to do, He wants to guide our paths. I find this so humbling as I don’t need to pressure myself I just need to seek my Lord first. His burden is light, anything heavy is of our own making. Matthew 11:28-30

I have no idea what is going to happen in 2018, all I want is for my fellowship with Jesus to be the forefront of my life. I ask for Him to change me to be more like Him, for His peace to reign in all aspects of my life. I pray that He gets the glory in everything I do.

The new year may be a fresh start for many but when we know the Lord every day gets to be a fresh start.

The word saysLamentations 3:22-23

No matter what happens God’s mercy and compassion is fresh every morning, how awesome is that? I don’t need to pressure or burden myself, I can start again anytime of the year. Everyday is brand new when we know Jesus!

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christmas · Testimony

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift

1 Corinthians 2:15

When this time of year comes around I like to remind myself of all that the Lord has done for me in the past year. Around this time last year we decided to try for another baby and now not only are we celebrating Christmas with little S we have a 3 month old as well!

When I had my breakdown at the end of 2009 I had the worst Christmas of my life. I genuinely thought that things would never improve. If someone had said that I would be celebrating Christmas 7 years later with my husband and children, estranged family and wonderful friends I would not have believed it.

Christmas used to be for me a time of panic and pressure, a time when I was reminded of how lonely and isolated I was and how difficult my illness made it for my husband. He wanted so much for me to enjoy it and I felt like I just kept letting him down. I would go online and see my family enjoying Christmas and I would be bitter and angry that I was so unwell I struggled to even get out of bed.

Now I know Jesus Christmas is a time that I am reminded of my assurance of salvation in Christ. It’s a time where I feel incredibly grateful for all I have. I now feel excited when I think of my future instead of dread and fear.

I can do things, get out, go to parties. I can enjoy the company of those I love and go shopping for gifts on my own!

However that pales in comparison to how wonderful it is to be in the care of our almighty God, knowing He loves me and has forgiven me through His wonderful son and my saviour. So thanks be to God for this indescribable gift, the best, the first and the only gift that matters. This time next year most of us will have forgotten what gifts we received this Christmas but God’s gift to us is eternal and will never fade, break or rot. Have you accepted this awesome gift?

Happy Christmas!

Christian growth

Water

Woman by the well with Jesus John 4 bible verse

 

I have a confession to make, I am really bad at eating and drinking what I should. And when I feel under the weather the first thing I do is stop eating and drinking. I know, right when I need it most as well.

This week I’ve had a bit of an illness, high temp and sore throat and, true to form, I didn’t eat enough and didn’t have enough water. I woke up feeling very weak and dizzy which frightened me. I finally had a bottle of water mid morning and some lunch then realised I was feeling better. This really made me think and start investigating what happens when I don’t drink enough water.

Apparently if we don’t drink enough water we become dehydrated and just mild dehydration causes headaches, fatigue, foggy brain, dizziness, anxiety. Chronic symptoms include poor digestion, increased hunger and weight gain (as your body starts to mistake thirst for hunger). The more severe symptoms are scary and include brain swelling and seizures (source).

John 7:37-39 says this:

37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Here the Lord describes the Holy Spirit as living water and what does water do?

It refreshes, it restores, it keeps us alive, our body uses water to maintain our temperature, to keep all our organs working properly. It is very very important to keep drinking water.

It is also very very important to keep drinking of the living water as it will keep us spiritually healthy, it will also refresh and restore and fill us with the joy and peace that only comes from knowing the Lord.

All that the Lord requires of us is to be thirsty, however as we can ignore our thirst for water and start to mistake it for hunger we can do the same spiritually, ignore that thirst and don’t seek and ask for the Holy Spirit then that thirst will go or we will seek fulfillment elsewhere (which will leave us unhealthy and unfulfilled). I am so grateful that The Lord gives us as much of His living water that we ask for, we never have to go thirsty again and I pray that as I need to remember to keep drinking water I will also keep asking the Lord for His Holy Spirit and receive all the wonderful gifts that that entails. Thank you Lord

 

 

Lessons from Motherhood

Tantrum

Romans 5:8 Christ died for us

We are going through a season of tantrums. Since little A was born little S has been pushing his boundaries more and more.

Most of the time he just has a little moan but sometimes he will go off with full force on the floor screaming, arms and legs flailing oblivious to everything around him. I have tried to comfort him but that seems to make things worse.

It breaks my heart to see him like this and no amount of talking or offering comfort seems to work, all I can do is sit and wait for him to calm down and realise I’m there.

The Lord says,

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28)

But, like little S I ignored His offer of comfort and got myself into such a state that I felt there was no way out. It’s only now I understand that that would have broke His heart.

Are your circumstances overwhelming you? Has sin and guilt got you so tight you feel there is no way out? Are you desperate for comfort but all you can do is hit out at those around you?

He’s waiting for you, He knows your pain, He has the answer. You just need to go to Him, ask for forgiveness and you will be saved. Believe me there is no peace like it.

Lessons from Motherhood

Smile

Little A is now starting to smile, I can see his eyes beginning to focus in on things and when he sees me, he beams. It’s beautiful to see. He’s been looking around for weeks, following our voices and trying to see us.

One of my favourite hymns is written by Fanny Crosby, called my saviour first of all it talks about opening our eyes and seeing Jesus and knowing instantly that it’s Him.

Much like when little A’s eyes focus in on me and I almost see him realise I’m his Mum, the one who has been gently holding him and talking to him since he was conceived.

Seeing the joy in little A’s eyes reminds me of the joy to come when I open my eyes and see Jesus. Right now I see through faith, I hear His voice in His word and see His creation. But one day everything will be clear, I will have understanding, I will be held physically by Him, I will be able to put my head on His chest, like John did at the last supper.

Meanwhile I wait in anticipation while seeking Him, speaking with Him, reading His word and enjoying all the pleasures He has provided including my beautiful boys wonderful smile.

A Christians guide to the internet

Ways Christians Can Share Online

Psalm 19:7 The law of the Lord

So far most of the posts in this series have been about avoiding pitfalls on the internet and learning what it actually is. I thought I would move onto something else in this post and that is how we can use the internet as Christians to share, to learn, to connect and deepen our walk with the Lord.

This week I want to share a few ways you can share Christ and your life with Him. We have talked about practicing discernment in what to share in a previous post, so what sites are there available for us to share on?

The most well-known sites are the social networking ones, these are sites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, etc. there are many more but these are biggest and most popular right now.
Facebook and Google+ are sites where you have a profile that you can choose what to put on, you can share about yourself, where you work, your education and photos, and also you can go on there and update your profile as many times as you want with a ‘status update’ which will show up in your friends (Facebook) or circles (Google+) newsfeed. You can make your profiles private so only those you accept as friends or into your circles can see them or you can make them all public, or you can do both when you write a status or share a photo you can pick the option of who can see it.

Some ideas of what you can share on these sites are:
Events from church, or publicise anything that is happening in your area and or church. You can share your testimony, both in status updates and or in the info about you on the profiles and you can share photos or pictures. You can share the Bible and any links to other sites that share Christ or have good information on them that you feel would be useful to others. I am sure there are many other things you can share also, it all depends on you and what parts of your life you want to share. Or whether you just want to share the gospel on its own.

Twitter is slightly different as it is basically just status updates, you only get so many characters to say what you wish to and once again you can share this with the public or just those that follow you.
It’s a good site for publicising charities and events and sharing quotes etc. I know people who use it for bible studies and sharing the gospel which is wonderful but be aware that the characters are limited and can very easily take things out of context which can cause confusion.

Instagram is a popular photo sharing site that is just on your phone. This is good for sharing photos of your life and you can write a decent amount under your photo as well, it can be a good place to share the gospel and your testimony and life with Jesus.

If this is something that interests you I would recommend praying about it first. And when thinking about which site suits you best ask yourself, how much time do you have to spend on this? What exactly do you want to share? Some people prefer to not have any information about themselves and just share the gospel, some people want to share about their relationship with Jesus which includes sharing about themselves also.

It can be tempting to jump in on them all but, over the years I have found that at least on one site you share on try to take notice of the people you share with, some of them may be real life friends and family some of them you might not know that well but it is nice to actually connect with people and show them the love and care of Jesus, don’t just share, but read what others are sharing about their lives, do they need comfort? Do they need prayer? Remember they are human and Jesus died for them also. How we treat others online is just as important how we treat them off.  Just because there will be a lot of people who aren’t authentic with what they share and say doesn’t mean we need to follow suit or avoid putting ourselves out there. People appreciate it if we let them know we have taken notice of what they have to say, even if it’s just a like.

I have made some wonderful friends online, not all Christians but all of who I care about deeply, I pray for them and I check in on them if I haven’t heard anything for a while, and they do so for me. I may never have met them but that doesn’t stop me from caring. And when I came to Jesus He gave me more love and compassion for those people and put more into my life whom I care about very much. I am someone with a long term chronic illness who has spent many years unable to get out and meet people and for people like me meeting genuine, caring people on the internet has helped me a lot.  The internet has meant I have been able to connect with family I haven’t been able to see and find out what is happening in their lives, pray for them and with them and, as I can’t get to church often the same goes for my spiritual family as well.

The Lord has put people in my life who have been a great blessing to me so don’t forget to ask Him to guide you and bring others into your life that you can connect with. If you pray this and mean it, He will bless you for it. We live in a fallen world, which is reflected online and, even if those you talk to reject the gospel outright that doesn’t mean we should stop caring about them because God never does.

I hope this series has been of some use and do feel free to share it with anyone you feel may find it useful. Also if there is anything else you would like me to talk about please do leave a comment.

A Christians guide to the internet

Practicing Discernment Whilst on the Internet

As Christians we are told in Gods word many times to practice discernment, we are to discern spirits and what is the truth as the enemy wishes to lead us astray, many times in very subtle ways so we are focusing on something other than the truth of the gospel.

Unfortunately we have a bit of a reputation in the world as being naive, and we can add to that by believing some things that simply aren’t true, the gospel is true, it is not airy fairy it is truth and it makes a lot of sense when looked at properly with a sober mind.  However we can find ourselves sometimes being lead into believing some things that may sound true but aren’t when we shine the light of Gods word on them.

So our biggest and best tool for discerning truth on the internet is the Bible. Whatever we read, it is always a good idea to go back to the word and ask, is that what it really says?  Just because someone claims to be a bible scholar and is writing things on the internet does not mean they are correct, and just because you have questioned if they are right does not mean you are calling them a liar either we are human and we all make mistakes. I encourage anyone to go back to the word after reading any of these posts to see what the Lord says as His word is final.

There are two sites that I like to use to help me, Blue Letter Bible and Bible Gateway. Both these sites have multiple translations of the bible that you can quickly reference and Blue Letter Bible has the Strongs Concordance so you can read (and hear) the original language. However if you read anything else on these sites that is written by the author of the sites or anyone else other than Our Lord’s word, then practice discernment, I have found Blue Letter bible to be pretty sound so far but I have not read all of it. On the internet you will find a lot of people sharing their lives and their stories and also what they think the Bible is saying on certain subjects, their intents may be good and they may be right but if you use it as a way to go back to Gods word and check then you will find that your relationship with Him will only improve. Plus, it will help you remember what you have read. And as always I would try to do this prayerfully asking the Holy Spirit for guidance.

Obviously when looking on the internet we might be looking at other subjects as well, such as science or current events etc. No matter what we are looking at its is always best to question whether it is right. If you go onto Facebook for example you will discover lots of stories and statuses being shared and sometimes we find ourselves going to share it without thinking, it is true? A lot of these things are started by people who wish to deceive and gain likes and clicks in order to boost their own ego or make money. This is called spam, sometimes it is obvious or downright offensive sometimes it is subtle such as a news story or charity that makes you believe that you are doing well to share. I have seen many stories shared by Christians on these sites that are just not true, so how do we know?
When looking at these stories or any site on the web ask yourself some questions:

When was it written? – if its a news site this is easy to find out, sometimes people share very old stories that are no longer relevant and so we find ourselves becoming angry at something that was resolved many years ago. However if you are on a website and are questioning this, go up to the tools section in your menu at the top of your browser and click on page info (for firefox). That will tell you the last date a website was modified, depending on the subject you might find that the content is no longer relevant for what you are looking at.

Why was it written? is it something that will just spread anger? Then make sure it is true, Google it or look for it on a sites such as snopes.com and hoax-slayer.com who debunk these stories when they are discovered as myths.

Who wrote it? Once again if it is a news site then this is easy, is it a reputable news site? Can you trust it? Does it have a governing body to answer to if it spreads lies? Do they share who they are and their intent, or are they hiding themselves and why? (sometimes people need to hide if they live in a country where they would be persecuted.) If it is a site you do not know and its in the UK you can go to this site:  http://www.nominet.org.uk/uk-domain-names and look it up to find out who owns it. (You can also get advice here on reporting a site that is doing criminal activity and get advice on how to complain about a site, if you wish to)

If it is a Christian site, then look around, what kind of things do they talk about? Do they display the fruits the of the spirit (which we are told helps us to discern a Christian from someone who isn’t one) do they share what they believe in a statement of faith? If not why not? And if they do, do they believe anything that isn’t right, once again go back to the beginning and see what Gods word says. I have actually come across sites that people have believed, that have turned out to be satire written by some unbelievers to try to show how gullible they believe Christians to be.

This may all sound like a lot of work but as you get into the habit you will find that you automatically will discern, as you become in tune with Gods will and hear the Holy Spirit, you might find that something doesn’t seem right and so you avoid it then afterwards learn why. It is like a muscle, keep using it and it will get stronger and you will become closer to our Lord. But please do not worry if you do share something, this is just a guide and God does understand that we can and do error. A lot of the time he uses our mistakes to teach us. Also we will find we also learn to discern when it is really important that the truth is told or if its just something is not worth it and we move on.

Once again, this is not about judging, or being paranoid, as we have the Lord on our side. This about making sure what you share and learn is correct, the internet is full of false information and when I was learning how to research on the internet I was taught how to discern a good site site and information from bad. By doing this you are helping make the internet a better and more useful place to be. And, more importantly helping keep the truth in your heart and your armor firmly on. Doing this can really help you in your studies too and to walk closer with our Lord as we learn to keep His truth in our mind and hearts always.

I just wish to make one last point, sometimes we will be following someone and they might err slightly or say something that we do not think is quite right, this doesn’t mean that they have come away from our Lord, and in these cases it is best to pray for them and let Jesus take them in hand as He sees fit. Some errors are more dangerous than others and as we learn to discern and ask for more discernment we will learn what the difference is. It isn’t always best to say something to them, especially on a public forum.

Next time I will share about how we can use social media effectively and why it is important that we watch what we say on there (this will also demonstrate another reason why we need to be careful what we share)