~ Bite Sized Bible~ Hope

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Hope.

A four  letter word that has a thousand letter impact!

What do you hope for?

I realised when writing cards and text messages recently that I use the word ‘Hope’ a lot. But each ti
me I’ve used it I’ve questioned myself, do I really only ‘hope’ someone has a lovely day? Or do I want them to actually have a lovely day? Do I hope my card finds them well or do I want them to be well, happy and healthy?

I’m discovering that perhaps the way we use hope has different implications and meanings. When messaging the above I realised that I’m wishing them a good day, I don’t have a certainty that the day they have will be perfect but I ‘hope’/really want it to be.
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Our trusty friend dictionary.com came up with the following definitions which supported my text messaging theory in number 1. But check out the 4th definition – ‘A person or thing in which expectations are centered.’ So the hope we have for other people in everyday life is different to the things we put our hope, and essentially trust, in?

In Hebrews the word Hope is described as an ‘anchor for the soul’. I love this so much, but it also makes me think. If what we hope for, or even what we put our hope in anchors our soul, then surely we need to be careful where we place that hope?

Hebrews 6:19 says ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.’ If we take that verse on it’s own it leaves us with the question –

What hope? where is it anchored, how is it secure?

Context:

The hope talked about in Hebrews 6 is the hope that we have and can have in God. In the chapters before we discover how we can boldly come before God as a child would a father because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Chapter 2 beautifully recounts the gift of salvation and how we are adopted into God’s family as his children.

Let’s look at it like this:

Did you ever put your hope in a situation or relationship and come out crushed and with your heart in tatters? At the beginning you were sure this was a dead cert, a forever thing and that nothing could change that but something came along, a bump in the road, a pothole or an emotional hurricane and suddenly everything crumbled to dust and you were left in the wreckage?

It’s an age old story isn’t it? But also a poignant reminder that while love and relationships are beautiful, we are all human, capable of hurting one another and letting one another down.

When we anchor our faith and hope in other people, inevitably there will come the day when they are no longer strong enough protect our hope. Because none of us are perfect.

When we anchor the things that we hope for in God He is big enough and strong enough to hold on to it and not let us down. He’s the creator after all? He knows us inside out, he doesn’t need a manual because he designed us. He created us to be anchored in Him and Him in us.

There’s no-one bigger that we could put our trust in, no one. There’s no one greater. There’s no one above God, no one more powerful, more present, more knowing, more loving than Him. So if you’re going to put your hope and trust in anyone, why would you anchor it to anyone less?

So yes have dreams, love, laugh and live – but make sure your anchor is secure in Jesus Christ. Ask God to be your anchor, ask him to be the one that holds onto your hope so that when you pursue your dreams you know that whatever the outcome, you are secure.

Who do you have your hope anchored in?

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The Mega-phone Gospel

megaphoneOver the past few weeks I’ve been feeling a bit conflicted. It all started one Friday a good few months ago. I was supporting a class when suddenly from outside we hear a young lad on a megaphone screaming at people as they passed that they would ‘Go to hell if they didn’t turn to Jesus.’

In the weeks that followed the class named him the ‘Jesus man’, and they all complained loudly when they heard him quoting Bible, shouting about Jesus and judging the passing schoolkids at deafening volume.

This week, there were two ‘Jesus men’, with matching megaphones, shouting individual messages over one another at the scores of kids as they made their way home.

I’m conflicted because I don’t really know how to react to this situation. Part of me thinks, brave lads standing on what they believe and proclaiming it loud and proud, while another part of me thinks, when has anyone come to Christ at the bellow of a megaphone? And when was the last time anyone wanted to stop and talk to someone who told them they were going to hell?

Maybe I’m wrong. Feel free to tell me I am!

Seeing street preachers has always made me cringe, I admire their bravery, but I also think, what if the only thing someone passing by hears is that they’re going a sinner and they’re going to hell? What if they walk away thinking that the judgment they are hearing somehow reflects the way Jesus thinks of them?

For me, leading people to Christ has always meant showing them how loved they are, that’s what Jesus did. He stepped into the lives of everyone who had a need. Soldiers, fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, rich and poor alike, churched and unchurched. He loved unconditionally to the point of death.

In my eyes, creation is God’s megaphone, the changing of the seasons, the falling rain, the driving snow, the scorching sunlight. Spring fresh days, flowers blooming, waves crashing, the beauty of the world all reflecting a creator.

The intricate design of humankind alone a reflection of artistry, creativity and mastery all in one.

My heart says love people, show them that they are not forgotten, that they are valued, beautifully created and are just a prayer away from a relationship with the creator of the universe. It says, choose to walk beside one another, encouraging one another, lifting each other up in prayer. Be real, in the good, the bad and the down right snotty!

For me, this life isn’t about shouting at passersby, it’s about walking alongside them and cultivating real, beautiful, friendships and relationships.

However you choose to share the message of Jesus, be blessed! Pray it out! Whether you’re called to be a megaphone bearer or coffee sharer – do it with love first.

 

 

Vulnerable and Brave

 

As she slipped out of sight the dentist suddenly reappeared with a needle so massive I even doubted it would fit in my cavern of a mouth. I squeezed my eyes shut, resisting the urge to clamp my mouth shut too! Pain was coming inevitably but ultimately it’d be for my good.

We fear things we cannot control and don’t understand, but in order to face our fears we have to be willing to look silly, react in unexpected ways and just be vulnerable.

To be brave, we have to be vulnerable.

This week at work there was an event called ‘Face your Fears’ it encouraged people to book in and face a fear of holding an animal that they were scared of. Among the animals there were snakes, lizards, a tarantula and an owl to choose from. I was amazed as students and staff came into the room afraid and uncomfortable and ended up leaving with a sense of accomplishment and in many cases without fear.

As one by one students encountered a tarantula or held a snake they all began slightly apprehensive, but as they got to hold the animal or even just touch it they realised they could do something they never thought they could. Each one however had to push themselves to the edge of their fear, they had to be brave and were vulnerable at the same time.

At Colour Conference we were encouraged to live bravely and be vulnerable. When hearing this at first I didn’t really think the two belonged together, I mean, bravery is linked with being courageous, facing your own fear or showing courage and being vulnerable is being open to be hurt, to be open to attack.

But thinking about it, to be brave, we have to be vulnerable. If there was no vulnerability there would be no such thing as bravery. If nothing was a challenge there would be no such thing as achievement, if things weren’t a little scary there would be no such thing as courage.

To live bravely means sometimes we have to risk being vulnerable, being looked at differently, and the risk that some may not understand us. When we start any new relationship it takes a mixture of bravery and the willingness to be vulnerable other wise we’d never get past saying ‘hi’ to each other.

We have to be prepared to be vulnerable, to start at the beginning, ask for help and risk looking stupid to get things right or to understand better.Vulnerability1-640x420

When we live bravely as a Christian that bravery goes hand in hand with vulnerability, we forge a relationship with God where there are no hidden spaces, we allow Him into every part of our life so that he can transform it into something better.

Being brave and vulnerable requires us to trust, we have to walk to the edge of our vulnerability and then have faith and trust the outcome, that’s what bravery is all about.be_strong_brave_fearless_bible_verse_quote_stretched_canvas_print-rc0e9292a0e5f4fd599117a672bc3e4aa_2wqe_8byvr_324

 

 

~Bite sized Bible~ The Om(nom nomni’s)

 

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The title of this post isn’t really reflective of what I’m going to write about – it’s more an excuse to use the above picture which I found a little bit amusing 🙂

Omni means ‘all’ in honesty I’m not sure where it originates, leave me a note in the comments, that’s why an omnivore is called an omnivore – because it eats EVERYTHING.

There’s some great characteristics that we recognise as God’s that begin with: Omni. They’re words that used to puzzle me until quite recently when in a study class I had to memorise them for a test! So here goes, here’s just three of God’s characteristics, I’ll call them the ‘Omni’s of God.’

God is:

Omnipotent

Omniscient

Omnipresent

Let’s debunk these posh words shall we? Here’s what they mean:

Omnipotent – All powerful, God is all powerful, there is no one more powerful in existence.

Omniscient – All knowing, there is nothing that God doesn’t know, every hair on your head is numbered, every thought of your heart heard.

Omnipresent – Everywhere, there’s no place on earth or in the heavens that God isn’t. He never leaves us, he walks with us, looks out for us and guides us. He is everywhere.

There’s a beautiful psalm that captures these characteristics of God – David, a king and a poet wrote a lot of the Psalms in the Bible, many were set to music and one of my favourites is Psalm 139 and it starts out like this:

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David describes God as all knowing – omniscient, knowing when we sit down and when we get up, knowing our inmost thoughts and what we’re doing throughout the day. Even down to before we speak, God knows exactly what we’re going to say.

 

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Here he moves onto God the omnipresent, God who is everywhere. There’s no place we can go that’s away from God. From the remotest parts of the world to the busiest city centre God is there, guiding us and leading the way.

 

 

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And finally God the omnipotent – the all powerful!

God the creator, who breathed life into us, who knew us even before we were designed. No one else on earth can create life, that’s God. He is all powerful.

 

 

Read the whole Psalm here. I love this psalm, it’s a perfect example of the magnificent power, presence and knowledge of God. It reminds us that we are never alone, there is nothing in our lives that God is not interested in and that we are a pure miracle, made by the most powerful being. God, such a small word for such an incredible life giver.

And here’s my favourite verse (although all of the psalm is incredible) this verse has been a constant reminder that wherever I go, whatever situation I’m in, whoever I encounter, God is forever with me, walking with me, he loves me and has a plan for me.

The NIV puts it like this: ‘If I rise on the wings of the dawn, If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.’ But this version is equally beautiful:7a2a28f92ce169ad5cce6c98a085c75c

The day He called me Beautiful

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I’ve had some pretty unique moments on buses. They’ve been a source of amusement and encouragement at times. There’s beauty in overheard conversations, moments when social convention is thrown out of the window and times when God just shows up.

Having a car means that i’m not often found on buses anymore but it just so happens that my last bus trip was pretty incredible.

Girls, you are all beautiful. I’ve said it before, I’ve blogged it before and I definitely believed it, for you all. I just never believed it for myself, not truly, not deep down and I know I’m not the only one who thinks of themselves this way.

I went to Colour Conference this last weekend, it was incredible.  11,000 women packed out the Wembley Arena to meet with God, hear from him and be inspired by some incredible women of God.

I couldn’t keep up with my note writing as Christine Caine brought the house down, praying passionately and declaring transformation over our lives. To be fair she speaks so fast that I don’t even think the fastest shorthand-er in the WORLD could get it all down but here’s what I did write:

Don’t treat Jesus like he’s a visitor that you see just on Sunday’s:

John 1:14 says: ‘The word (Jesus) became flesh and moved into the neighborhood.’

Let him move into the neighborhood of your life. Let him sit with his arms around your soul. Open the gates of your heart, let the walls you put up fall and reveal the chaos – let him create the order. Let him into the mess, come as you are, all of you, let him see beyond the guestroom to the backstage of your life, give him the VIP all access pass. Backstage, front stage, depths, dark and light. Jesus doesn’t deal in condemnation, he deals in salvation and transformation!

So with those words ringing in my heart and a time of worship where He (God) spoke into it we left for the evening to catch the bus back to the hotel, we were ahead of the crowds and managed to get a seat.

About halfway back to the hotel a lady got up and came and stood next to me and said something that would have been weird in any other situation – ‘I saw you, in worship,’ I smiled, there were many of us there but yep that was definitely a possibility.

‘I had my eyes closed and I saw you, your face was right there, in front of me. I didn’t know why.’ I continued to smile, apprehensive of what was coming next. This woman did not know me and I didn’t know her but in that moment we were connected.

‘I’m sorry for my English I’m from Sweden,’ she said. ‘I don’t have the words but when I saw you here on the bus I asked God what he wanted me to say.’

‘He told me that you’re beautiful.’

All I could say was thank you and hug her as I tried not to break down! ‘You are precious and beautiful,’ she repeated as we hugged.

What she did not know was that evening in the ministry time I decided that I was making true on the notes I had written, no more ridiculous attempts to ‘hide away’ the things I didn’t want seen. I asked the Holy Spirit to take over all the spaces that i’d locked away – to unlock all those little cupboards and drawers that contained all my deepest, darkest secrets and to deal with them. (I know it’s a little ridiculous that I thought I could hide what was in plain sight to God – but I’ve a feeling we all try and do that at times and there’s a liberation, a freedom, that comes from laying everything before Him.

I said to God ‘The ugly duckling is gone, we’re starting again,’ and that moment on the bus, where a complete stranger was brave enough to share what He had told her, was all the confirmation I needed to start believing:

I am Beautiful.

He said so.

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~Bite sized Bible~ Abba

Chiquitita don’t worry, you’re not lost. This isn’t a post about the flare wearing Swedish pop group, it’s about someone much greater. Someone we can call Abba.

Did you know Abba is from the Greek language? It actually means, my father or daddy. It’s an intimate expression a child would use when calling their father.

I was reminded today that in the Bible Jesus refers to his Father God as Abba. When we are welcomed into the family of God and give our heart to Jesus we are invited to become a child of God. We are a son or daughter, we belong to the perfect father, someone we can intimately call daddy.abba-father

I don’t know about you but sometimes I get so focused on the three in the trinity that I forget that God is one in the same no matter which side we look at. I’ve been guilty of thinking that the Father God in the old testament is the stern one, the one that gets displeased easily, one to be more fearful of. This is such a lie!

It’s easy to fall into the comparison of thinking of God like our earthly father too, for those who haven’t had the greatest experience of what an earthly father is this can dramatically change how we view our heavenly one.

God is not the same as your earthly father, neither is he angry at you, judging you, or looking at you disapprovingly. Fact.

The bible says if we want to know what God is like, look at Jesus, they are one in the same. When we see the way Jesus was when He was here with us on Earth we see a direct picture of the love of God, the way Jesus loved is the way God loves. Because they are one in the same.

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Get into the habit of remembering that you are loved! That you can come to God with absolutely anything and He loves you! That you can call Him Abba, Daddy, Father God.
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~Bite sized Bible~ The Trinity

Tricycle41zCUeo8qNL._SY300_, Triangle, Triceratops…. things that have three’s.

Tricycle has three wheels

Triangle three corners

Triceratops – literally means three horned face!

So it only makes sense that the trinity has something to do with three. Trinity literally means ‘the state of being three’ so what’s the trinity got to do with Christianity?

Actually the word trinity never appears in the bible, not once, the word was coined by believers after the bible was written to refer to God who is three persons or beings that make up one God.

We believe that God is made up of three – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each equal in power, each fully God – together making one God. Yes it’s mind blowing that three equal parts make God.

Basic maths suggests that 1+1+1=3

but in this case

1 Father + 1 Son + 1 Holy Spirit = God.

So if the word trinity isn’t mentioned in the bible how do we know that God is three in one? Because they appear together constantly. John 1 begins with this:

john1_1This verse is saying that right at the beginning of creation, there was God and the word was with God. So did God have his Bible with him in book form right at the beginning? Let’s think about it, would the creator of the universe really be reliant on a book to remind him of his own story? Nah! So what’s this word all about.

Let’s look further:

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Here’s another clue further in John – ‘The Word became flesh’. Who became flesh and came to earth to display the glory of God and to save us? JESUS!

So that verse in John 1:1 is saying, ‘In the beginning was Jesus and He was with God, and he was God.’ So now Jesus and God are together before the beginning of creation. Awesome right?

Wait, there’s more, I said that God was 3 in 1 and right there that’s only two right? Well check out Genesis 1:1-2101003-ot-vistas-01-in-the-beginning-genesis-1-4-728

Right there is the Holy Spirit! Do you see him? ‘and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.’ So Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all together at the beginning.

 

Let’s look at another time that they all appear together as God.

At the baptism of Jesus.

Check this out, Jesus is standing in the river with John the Baptist at his side ready to dunk him. He goes down under the water and as he rises this happens:flat,1000x1000,075,f.u1The voice from heaven = The Father

Jesus in the river = The Son

The spirit descending on him like a dove = The Holy Spirit

Three beings all together at the same time displaying the Trinity.

Also, did you know, whenever God was referred to in the original text of the Bible He was always referred to in the plural form – back in Genesis when God is creating us we see this:when-our-view-of-god-is-too-small-16-638

So in short, the Trinity. Three beings equal, making up one God.

Just. Wow.