What We Really Needed

Matthew 11:2-3
“When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?'”


No one expected a Messiah like Jesus.

In a time when the Jews were waiting for someone to sort out their political situation, Jesus was not the answer they wanted. But one of the most beautiful things about the Creator of Our Universe is that He knows exactly what we need, and solutions to political instability are not the be all and end of our lives.

The human race survives on love and compassion, if we didn’t care for each other we would be hopeless. Jesus didn’t come to sort out the little quarrels that society had caused, he came to heal his creation and give us a second chance. When this world comes to an end there won’t be any boundaries or governments or divides to worry about, the only thing to worry about will be whether we acknowledged Jesus before men.

And if we don’t know love how can we know Jesus?

1 John 4:16
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

So the longer we ignore love the longer we ignore the one thing that brings us any sort of hope.

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The Kingdom of Heaven, Human Logic, and Truth

All too often do I hear about people who try to spread the word of God through violence and aggression. It’s been happening for hundreds of years and it saddens me to think that someone’s mistakes push so many people away from coming to know Jesus every single day. No were in the Bible does it say that God believed this was right, and nothing in the Gospels tells us of Jesus doing anything but love, but it’s easier to trust in the things that we can see before our eyes. Why would someone choose to believe in a God whose followers are so violent and hateful?

After finishing Genesis last night I moved on to Matthew and today I read the Beatitudes.

Matthew 5:3-9

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
   for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
   for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
   for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
   for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
   for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
   for they will be called children of God.”

The Beatitudes used to confuse me a little. I mean, who was Jesus referring to? What was He trying to say? So I found a commentary on biblegateway and something really stood out to me. God never intended His Kingdom for the violent, for the aggressive, for the hateful.

The Kingdom of Heaven is for the poor in spirit, for the meek, for the merciful, for the pure in heart, for the peacemakers.

It’s easy to trust in what’s right in front of our eyes because it’s just that, it’s right in front of us, staring us straight in the face. It makes sense to trust in what we see.


But God doesn’t call us to do what makes sense, and that’s one of the many beautiful things about following Christ.


If our bank balance tells us we can’t pay the rent, have faith and God will provide. If we’ve lost our keys, have faith and God will open our eyes. If we’re looking for a place to stay for a night, God will find us one. If we have to travel but funds are low, God will give us what we need. If we need to eat but the cupboard’s are bare, He’ll feed us.

These are all things that have happened to me or that I have seen happen. And they’re crazy, aren’t they? All through prayer and petition, God laughs at our idea of “common sense” and does it His way.

Philippians 4:6-7
“Do not be anxious about anything, 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.”

I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve sat down, full of fear and worry, and brought it all to God, trusting Him with all of it, and by the time I’d finished praying I literally feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel lighter, more free, I can smile again, I can laugh!

Some of you will say I’m too simple, but in a world full of darkness and broken hearts and pain, the joy I experience through my Jesus is something too perfect and wonderful for words.

One of my favourite parts of the bible is 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. I would write out the whole passage for you here but I feel like you might get a little bored (If you want to read the whole thing check it out here), so here’s a little extract:

1 Corinthians 1:18-19
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate’.”

God doesn’t use human logic. A while ago I was struggling with belief and a friend told me I needed to keep pushing through the logic that was strangling me. The only times I have feared the truth of Jesus, that He loves me, that I’m forgiven, are when I’ve sat and considered it all in relation to society and the world. We need to stop doing that. We need to stop thinking we don’t deserve forgiveness or love because those things are there for us whether or not we want them. Our logic tells us it’s wrong because society doesn’t want us to know love or forgiveness until we’ve earned it, but God loved us from the dawn of time.

It’s hard to grasp, isn’t it? I still struggle with it, with accepting that my forgiveness isn’t a “get out of jail free” card, but that it’s given to me by the One who can give it to me, because He wants to, because He loves me so much. But, slowly but surely, I’m beginning to know and accept the truth more and more every day.

And this is why, to return to my first point, we shouldn’t listen to the people who aggressively shove their beliefs down our throats, because that isn’t love and that isn’t God. I encourage you to open your Bibles today and find the truth of Jesus Christ, the person who I’m constantly chasing after.

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Growing Up

I remember being a teenager. I remember when everything was terrifying and scary and so much bigger than me. I remember trying so insanely to fit in with people who I thought were “cool”. I remember feeling like such a nerd because I didn’t follow all the trends. I remember dreaming to be someone else, somewhere else. I remember feeling ugly, fat, unwanted, unloved. I remember telling people I loved Jesus but not at all understanding what that meant for my life. I remember being stuck, being forced to stay in one place simply because of my age.

I always wanted to fit a label, something from pop culture always had to define me. My friends and I would constantly accuse each other of “copying” each other if we enjoyed the same things. We looked for our identity in our uniqueness but never realised that to be unique all we had to do was be ourselves (but no one figures that out while they’re still in school). I remember thinking that if I had more money and more possessions that my life would be better, I would be happier.

But, I’ll be honest with you… being a teenager will always suck, no matter who you are or how much money you have. Puberty has been awkward since the dawn of time and it isn’t going to change now. Finding who you are in this crazy, busy, fast-paced world, while you’re trying to sit all the exams school can throw at you, and keep your parents happy, as well as maybe having a part-time job, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a social life… it’s just not meant to be easy. But you’re going to come out of it a far better person. Some of you will, anyway. Some of you will, sadly, never grow up. But for those who leave their childish ways behind when you receive your final exam results, know this:

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

When I was eighteen I knew that I had to dive in at the deep-end or I never would, so I moved to Scotland to study for four years. Four years that are now almost over. And the past three and a half have been nothing but life changing. If I hadn’t left home I would never have spent two summers in America, worked at a summer camp in Poland, I wouldn’t be applying for a TEFL course and I wouldn’t be looking into heading out to California for a few months this year. I wouldn’t enjoy pushing myself so much if I had never taken that first step.

I have always been a dreamer, and God doesn’t laugh at me for that, He encourages it. Because I have dreams and goals and ambitions God has allowed me to chase those things and reach my full potential. I am a far more well rounded person because I dream, and because I don’t treat them like all they are is dreams. And I refuse to let anyone belittle that.

What I’m trying to say is that just because you are young, don’t stop yourself from dreaming, don’t hide your heart from this world. Be passionate, be free! Because, no, right now you probably don’t have the funds or the time or the parental consent to travel half way across the world, but one day you just might. As the great songwriter John Mayer says, “I’m bigger than my body gives me credit for.” And you need to believe that! Because God uses the people who we think are the least likely to do His work. The example I always look to is Moses; he didn’t want to do what he was called to but God knew that he was the right one. And, through this one man who started off pretty scared, God did such amazing things.

When I look back to who I was on my first day of university I remember what is basically a child. I don’t remember the woman that I’ve grown into because I wasn’t a woman then. I was eighteen and scared and lost and unsure of everything around me and I didn’t have much direction, but that’s okay because no one really has direction when they’re eighteen. I would always get so nervous because I’d see all these really pretty girls in my classes, girls who dressed really well and had perfect make-up, while I was wearing jeans, converse and a hoodie, terrified to speak in case I gave the wrong answer. But, the truth is, those girls were as scared as me, they just hid it better. It’s nice to look back and know I’m not that scared kid any more.

God will take you to great places as long as you trust Him, so don’t fret if you’re struggling right now. Growing up is amazing and so much fun, so just be content in the moment.

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Home

Home is a strange concept, one that I have meditated upon from a very young age. I am a true believer in being proud of where you come from. If my travels have taught me anything it’s that places, like people, are a combination of flawed and beautiful, but most are worthy of one’s time, exploration, forgiveness and defence. No one place is perfect, but then again, what truly beautiful thing is?” – Andrew McMahon

I come from a town that’s home to people who pretend to love Jesus. I come from a town that broke me down and shattered my heart. I come from a town that brings on cold winds and harsh rain. I come from a town that knows the meanings of mundane and unexciting. I come from a town that holds bad memories. I come from a town full of judgement.

But, the thing is, I also come from a town where people love Jesus more sincerely than anywhere else I’ve ever been (and that’s quite a few places). I come from a town that has the ability to build me up, every time I return here. I come from a town that has some of the most beautiful coastal scenery I’ve ever known. I come from a town that doesn’t need to provide excitement in attractions and entertainment because the people are more than enough. I come from a town that encourages me to forget the past and look to the future. I come from a town that is home to some of the most loving people I’ve ever known.

Never take home for granted, friends. Start looking for the good.

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Ladies: God is not calling us all to be wilting flowers

Every woman knows a wilting flower.

You know the ones I’m talking about: the girls who only speak at the right time, who are very agreeable, who never offend anyone, and who seem to get on perfectly with every person they meet. 

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these women, I’m friends with quite a few people like this and I love them to bits. But don’t ever think that, if you don’t fit into this category, that you’re not being the woman God needs you to be. All this talk of Proverbs 31 frustrates me because I’m just not that woman and I think we need to stop striving to be her. I don’t think that was the point in these verses. I think what we need to do is strive to be Christ-like, and all the things that He needs us to be will follow after this.

I’m certainly not a wilting flower. I’m opinionated, I don’t agree with everything I’m told, I offend people (not in a nasty intentional way), I’m not everyone’s best friend, I drink beer (don’t worry, not excessively), I can be pretty loud, I listen to rap and metalcore…

So if God calls us all to be lovely, quiet little things, then I don’t want to follow Christ.

But the beauty of being a Christian is that we’re all called to be different.

I find sometimes that when I write these posts it’s not only to benefit others but also myself. I have to write these things down to know that they’re true. I read it in the Bible all the time but I still fear, when I spend time with my nice, quiet friends, that I’m doing something wrong. Am I too opinionated? Am I too loud? Should I stop drinking beer? Should I try to be friends with everyone?

1 Corinthians 12:12
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.”
(NIV)

God wants me to be outspoken and opinionated and loud because, if I’m not, who will speak for all the quiet women? Who will speak for the oppressed and the broken? Who will stand up to the lions of injustice in countries where women are told to be seen and not heard?

Do you want to know the funny part? This doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a wife or a mum. I love to cook and bake and look after people, I want to be something for my man, when I eventually find him, I want to be his helper. I want to have babies that I can laugh with.

Women in the 21st Century have a really exciting role. We have so many opportunities and options, we’re no longer held back by biology. We can travel around the world and bake a cake the day after we get home. We can pull on the hiking boots and a 75 Litre backpack and still be beautiful and captivating. The world, my beautiful friends, is our oyster, and we better not take that for granted. So don’t be afraid if you’re surrounded by friends who are getting engaged and married and having babies, because the single life is beautiful, and before we know it we won’t have it any longer.

The beautiful thing about 2012 right now, for me, is that I have a whole 12 months ahead of me and nothing holding me back. Ladies, we grow up so fast, so stop wishing for things that can wait and chase after what is right in front of you.

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Childlike Faith and Being Certain

Recently I have started to fall in love with the Lord more than ever before. I remember the days when I was never content with Him, when all I wanted to do was chase after all my own dreams and depend on my own ideas and not give Him a second thought. But at the minute I’m reading my Bible every day; and not just a few verses at a time. I’m reading multiple chapters, one after the other, in complete awe of what God is telling me. I’m amazed by Genesis, of how faithful God was even in the days before Jesus, before God truly knew what it was like to be human. And, when I open the New Testament, I find great encouragement and inspiration in the words of Paul the Apostle. I’m seeing so much of myself in the likes of Sarah and Abraham, Rebekah, Esau and Jacob. I’m learning that God uses the weak to do great things and that He doesn’t need me to be anyone but myself to do the work He’s calling me to do.

This is what happens when we trust God with our lives, when we stop trying to control things, when we decide to focus on Him. It isn’t easy, it never has been, and Jesus doesn’t expect me to think it is. But when we praise God He blesses us and it is so beautiful. I always wonder, when I reach this place, why I ever decide to run from Him, why I ever want anything else… and all I can think of is that good things don’t tempt us, but bad things do. We always want the things that hurt us the most because that’s just how we’re wired. But I fully intend for this year, 2012, to be incredibly different from the past 21 that I’ve lived. This is the year that I finish university, the year when I won’t have the same support network, the same group of Bible study friends and Christian Union buddies. I need to focus on God even more than ever before. And because, right now, I don’t know what I’m doing after university, but I am certain He has plans for me. And, while I wait, all I want to do, all I need to do, is praise Him.
You see, just because we don’t know where we’re going does not mean we’re lost. In fact, I think I know where I am now better than I have for my whole life. Maybe it seems childish to have so much hope in something that I cannot see, but that’s the whole point isn’t it? To have a childlike faith, to have confidence in what we hope for, to be certain of what we can’t see. So if you think I’m childish for wanting to dance with my Jesus and sing to my Lord then that’s fine, because I couldn’t be more content. For the first time in months I don’t need alcohol or men or parties or anything of this world. I just need my Jesus.
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