A couple months ago, I had the opportunity to preach up in Aberdeen with a team from bethel who were out for a mission trip. It was the first time I had preached since losing our son last year. I wanted to share with you what I spoke about that night…
Recently I have been enjoying spending time with God whilst cooking dinner, and so as I was cooking and asking God what to talk about, I heard two words from Him- Go Again.
These words were actually words we said to one another after Elias died. We can’t stay here in this pit of despair, we have to keep moving. As the Psalm states, we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we don’t sit down and make camp. Sure, we get knocked down and taken out, but we need to get back up, to move forward, to go again.
Romans 8 is one of the most encouraging chapters in the bible, and it’s what I focused on in my sermons a couple months back.
We were saved by hope, but hope that is looked at is not hope – for who hopes for what they look at? But since we hope for what we do not look at, then we look forward to it with endurance. Romans 8:24-25
The word Hope Paul uses in the Greek language is Elpis, which means “joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation!” Though we may go through struggles and trials, we live with the hope of what we cannot yet see, this eternal salvation. That’s Gods promise to all who come to Him. It’s what has kept me going these last few months, the confident knowledge that, one day, I will be reunited with Elias, in eternity. What we see here is only temporary. The pain and grief of loss is not permanent. As Abraham said once, we are merely aliens passing through this land, we don’t belong here. And yet, we experience pain, loss, uncertainty, but with the promise that all will be restored to us.
The word Paul uses for endurance in this passage translates to mean “in the face of aggression”. Regardless of what we face, we hold on to this Elpis hope, this confidence that one day every tear shall be wiped away as we enter into enteral salvation, through Jesus.
In the same way also, the Spirit takes hold together with us in our weaknesses – we don’t know how we are to pray so that our prayers will correspond to the need, but the Spirit intercedes with deeply emotional heartfelt groanings.
Ever felt like you don’t have the words to pray? Here Paul tells us that even in that moment, we have the Holy Spirit interceding for us when our words fail us. God wants so much for us to succeed that He instructs Holy Spirit to pray with us and for us when we don’t have the words. The word for groanings there is a violent ailing and loud noise, it’s not a passive prayer.
If God is for us, who can be against us? … he will also give us all things as a favour, as well as giving his own son!
Guess what? God is for you! He is so for you He sent His son to die in your place so that you would not die but have eternal salvation. Whatever you’ve been through or are going through, have confidence that God is for you and with you and has good things for you!
I know what it’s like to go through stuff, trust me, these last few months have been horrendous, but we have determined to hold on to the truth from Romans 8, God is faithful, and He is calling us to get up, to move forward, to go again.
Last week I entered myself into my first ever 10k running event. The last, and only, run I entered was in Colorado when I lived there about 8 years ago. That time, it was a 5k race, and my plan was to simply walk it with some friends of mine. As I stood at the starting line, coffee in hand, my plan was to just run the first part to get through the crowds as we began. But it didn’t take long for my competitive spirit to take hold of me, and I soon found myself racing round the course, once I had disposed of my coffee of course. Needless to say, my time that day wasn’t the best, neither was my overall fitness. A large coffee is not the best pre race drink after all.
Anyway, this time round, I am determined to run the race well, and have already begun my training with a couple runs this week under my belt, and a big blister on my foot. Maybe time for some new shoes. I’m raising money for a charity called SANDS.
This charity provided us with counselling during the months following the death of our son, Elias, last September. Even writing that sentence causes me such pain. I want to be able to do something to help this charity continue with their work of supporting people who go through such horrific loss.
The weight of grief over the loss is at times unbearable, or at least it would be if it weren’t for God. I’m not sure how people without faith get through something like this. Not once have we ever blamed God for what happened, instead we have felt and seen Him at work in our lives. He is shielding us from the worst of it, I know that. God is still God. God is still Good.
I was reading 2 Corinthians this morning before work, here’s what I read…
We do not keep our eyes on the things that are seen, but we keep our eyes on the things that are not seen – for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are not seen are eternal. (4:18)
How much time do we spend worrying or busying ourselves with what we see around us, that we lose sight of the real prize? Jesus said countless times, “those who have eyes, let them see” – do we have eyes to see that which is eternal around us? I’m so thankful for the eternity we are promised with, it’s what carries me through during my times of deepest despair. My separation with my son is not eternal, thanks to Jesus. I can rest and find peace in that assurance. Paul said the things we see are transient – passing through, temporary.
Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus, on eternity, on the prize.
If you would like to support me in this endeavour, you can do so by following this link
It’s been a while since my last post on this, and to say that a lot has happened since then would be the greatest understatement of all time. Perhaps, in a later post, I will try and unpack it all, but for now it’s all a little too fresh.
Today I want to write about living from Gods peace. In John 15:27, Jesus says this;
“I am leaving you peace- I am giving you peace – I am certainly giving it to you but not in the same way that the world gives it. Don’t let your hearts be disturbed, and don’t be cowardly.” (Source translation)
This word for peace here, the root meaning of it is Eiro, which means to join. Jesus is offering a peace that it to join with us, not something that gets taken away or that is finite, but something that will remain with us through whatever situation we face.
Jesus then tells us not to let our hearts be disturbed. The peace we join with will overcome the anxiety we face. Peace is internal while anxiety is based on what our eyes perceive about a situation. It’s our choice whether to remain at Peace, or to allow anxiety to imbed itself in our hearts. And this is what Jesus is warning us about here. You have the power to choose what your hearts feasts off – peace or anxiety. The anxiety we have towards something will always grow the more we feed it. But the same is true about peace. The more we seek peace the more we have of it to get through the stuff life throws at us.
Jesus’ final instruction here is to not be cowardly. These words are the same as the parting advice Moses gave to Joshua at the beginning of the book of Joshua, right before he led the Israelites into the promised land. We have not, as Paul reminds Timothy, been given a spirit of cowardice, but one of power.
So, choose to grow in peace today over your situation, live from that place and guard your heart against any anxiety. Move forward with the courage and confidence that God is for you, that Jesus’ words here are true.
Well, quite the week we have had in the UK. First, the result of the vote, a self imposed exiting of the preverbial building and into a season of unknowns… and then England getting knocked out of Europe for a second time in a week by being beaten by Iceland!
Whatever way you voted last week, the result stands and there is now going back. We have a choice of what to do when faced with the facts of a rapidly de-valuing currency, with the potential of being hit by another recession. Do we succumb to fear? play the blame game? Or do we instead look to God and trust in Him during this time?
It can be easy to very quickly blame others for our predicament, or to join in on the scare mongering, but, if we are to be true representations of Christ here on earth, how is that any different from the worlds response? It’s sad to see on certain social media outlets church and ministry leaders using this time as an opportunity to share their political views and how, by signing petitions, we can bring about change. The biggest change we can bring about is through our actions during this time. We, as Christians, need to be beacons of hope and vision for the future, not to be swayed this way or that. If we give in to that then we are no different. Let’s not view this as a disaster, but an opportunity to partner with God in moving forward. What will it look like? I don’t know. Will it be easy? Possibly not. Jesus never said it would. But He did say we would never be in lack. He did encourage us not to be anxious but to keep our eyes fixed on things above.
Whatever you voted last week, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus, become distributors of hope and get excited, because God is about to move in a way we have never before seen. We are in days of uncertainty, that’s for sure, but what is certain and true is that God is for you, He’s not sitting in heaven concerned about how we’re going to get through this, He is sitting waiting to give us wisdom, strength and vision for moving forward.
I love how God doesn’t waste a thing. He literally makes all things work together for our good, so, as I heard Kris Vallotton once say, if it’s not good right now, then God is not finished with what He is doing in your situation. He is always shaping us, always preparing us for the next season.
I spent six years living in America, where I felt God was preparing me and shaping me, breaking off old habits, mind sets and hurts, and bringing me into a place where I could receive from Him, and where I could have an impact on others around me.
Something God has been teaching me a lot recently is that once we have been in a season of preparation, we are then equipped with all we need to thrive through the next season we are coming in to. Whatever comes our way, God has given us the answer, the tools needed to succeeded through the situation. Sometimes we spend so much time looking at our problem and asking God to help us, when God has already helped us in the previous season, and has given us what we need to work through whatever has come our way.
The Bible says that God never puts us in a situation we cant get out of. If we believe that as truth, then that means whatever we are faced with, God has a strategy for us to get through. What keeps us from moving forward can be a mixture of fear, doubt, lack of trust or lack of fully understanding who we are in Christ. If we become focused on our lack, we will never move forward. If we instead focus on what is already in our hands, then nothing can hold us back. It’s like when a you are teaching a kid to ride a bike. For a time they require stabilizers and guidance to be able to ride the bike without falling over and hurting themselves. Once they have mastered that, its then time for the stabilizers to come off. There can then be a moment of doubt before they head off, but if they learn to put into practice what they have just learnt, they will soon be riding their bike. Yeah, they may fall once or twice, but the key is to get back on and get moving again.
Too often we put ourselves in a self imposed wilderness season, because we wait for the Lord to do something in our life, when He has already given us what we need to walk over into the “Promised Land”. We wonder where God is, when He is wondering what we’re doing hanging out in the desert! Let’s not be like the Israelites and spend more time then we need to out in the desert. God has a Promised Land ready for you, all you need to do is move forward. God wants to give us the wisdom we need to thrive through our circumstance, rather than us sitting back expecting Him to provide for us. Of course, God can and does bring in provision when we need it, but He also invites us to partner with Him to bring about the solution.
Happy New Year! Thought it would be a good idea to get 2016 off and running finally with my first blog of the year. How is this year going to be different from the last one? It seems like every January, we all set the same goals, most of them unrealistic, and by February we are feeling bad while tucking in to a pie or bar of chocolate that we had vowed to give up at least until Easter. Last year, we got one day into our fast when our year got lives got flipped on its head with Emma having her first of two back surgeries a year ago yesterday. A lot can happen in a year.
So far, this year is different in that we have had to make zero hospital visits, and long may that continue. For me, I have begun this year with one simple goal: To give God my best. I don’t want to be giving Him my second thoughts, or rushing to read a verse before going to bed at night, but I choose this year to give God my best. I felt like God was challenging me on this about a month ago, and so this is my response to that challenge: to begin each day with devoted time to Him, on my own but also with Emma. I am choosing this year to, if need be, get up earlier just so I can have time with God. Sounds simple, but life can get crazy busy some times, and if we don’t set standards within our lives from the outset, then we will simply meander through life without much direction and without much connection with God.
So, may 2016 be the year for you, the year where long awaited hopes and dreams become fulfilled, where relationships are renewed and where you enter into a more full and real relationship with God. When we put down our busyness and make time to give God our best, everything else will come into alignment. God is speaking to us, always, but it’s up to us to make the time to listen out for His voice.
Each day we have a choice for what we are going to partner with. Several times over the last few weeks, I have caught myself having anxious thoughts, and in that moment, my choice is whether or not to continue with these thoughts of anxiety. I was listening to a sermon by Shawn Bolz, and something he mentioned really stuck out to me. He was reading from Philippians chapter 4, which gives insight into how to remove any anxiety from our minds before it has the chance to take hold of our lives.
Do not be preoccupied about anything, but let the things you ask for be pointed out to God by means of prayer and earnest requests with gratitude. And the peace of God, which conquers all processes of thinking, will keep watch over your minds and what you think about by means of the Anointed One Jesus.” Philippians 4:6 (The Source Translation)
There’s a couple things I love from this passage. Firstly is Paul’s encouragement to not become preoccupied or filled with anxiety over what is or isn’t happening. Instead, we should point our requests out to God through prayer and thanksgiving. Thanksgiving releases us from anxiety. Feeling anxious over your week? Begin to give God thanks for what is about to happen. Press in to God for more.
Second thing I love from the passage is that the peace of God will actually watch over our minds, even as we work through our situation, waiting for the breakthrough we have been pressing in to. Peace that transcends all knowledge and understanding is available to us in place of anxiety.
So next time anxiety comes your way, flip it on its head by giving God thanks, by allowing yourself and your mind to be filled with His peace that will more than sustain you through any situation you may find yourself in.