Wonder

I do’nt know about you but the last few weeks have placed quite a burden on my heart, I have become so much more aware of the hurt and the brokenness of the world as it occurs closer to home; with the attacks in Manchester and London as well as with our brothers and sisters facing persecution in the Middle of the East. These are hard times but times that require us to get on our knees and let our hearts break for the things that break His as we pray for restoration and healing, for the coming of His Kingdom.

However, amidst these terrors God makes us aware of His presence and the joy that comes from knowing that in the darkness His light shines even brighter and won’t be extinguished. He challenges us to look at things from a different perspective.

Recently I have been obsessed with Hillsong United’s latest song “Wonder.” This song explains the wonder we experience as we choose to share God’s way of seeing the world, and really reminded me to be joyful in times of trial, to live in constant wonder of Him despite the brokenness and suffering of the world.

The chorus declares “I see the world in light, I see the world in wonder, I see the world in life, Bursting in living colour, I see the world your way, And I’m walking in the light.” Does this mean we see through rose tinted glasses? Not at all, but rather we have a hope that although we see the reality of sin and suffering we can see the light and aim to adopt God’s perspective.

I was really struck by the lines “You’re the wonder in the wild. Turning wilderness to wonder.” Thinking about them I challenged myself to look at the personal wilderness that I sometimes walk through and reflected on how God can turn that wilderness into wonder. For instance, when I come out of a season in the wilderness I can look back in wonder at what God has delivered me from.

But not only is God’s wonder revealed when we leave our wilderness, but its right there with us in the midst of our pain. This time last week I watched Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester concert and was reduced to tears as I watched in wonder at the unity and compassion shown in the midst of so much suffering. I truly believe that in the pain of the aftermath of that horrendous attack God’s wonder was revealed, does that make it all ok? No but it instils a hope within us, it ignites a light to overcome the darkness, a wonder in what God can do in the midst of suffering.

So I’m aware that this month She Spreads Light have been focusing on the theme of Honour. This post has not specifically touched on this, but I felt that God placed this message on my heart to share with you all. I encourage you however to really think about your perspective , have you chosen to see the world through the eyes of God? It is such an HONOUR (I knew I’d get it in somewhere) that God invites us to share in His wonder, to see things the way He does, so why wouldn’t we?

Love Always. 

Rachel x

Understanding Grace

Its nearly Easter. A time when the word “Grace” gets thrown around like confetti, the intention is there as people say “God’s grace is amazing” yet the word falls lightly, having little impact. The over use of the word has robbed it of its amazing meaning. Google defines it as ” the free and unmerited favour of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.” So practically it is the undeserved goodness God shows to us. Isn’t that amazing? But sometimes I think we’ve become desensitized to the power of this word, so this week I challenge you to truly meditate over the amazing gift of grace and what the really means for us. But how can we do this?

Read Hosea

I have to admit I’ve never read this book, but I have read an adaption by Francine Rivers called “Redeeming Love.” This story for me perfectly portrays grace through the character of Hosea, who is divinely called to marry a prostitute named Gomer. Gomer goes back to another man after their marriage yet because of his love and grace Hosea takes her back despite the hurt she caused Him. How many times have we run from God? Yet every time He calls us back with His arms open wide. If you don’t fancy tackling Hosea just yet, why not read “Redeeming Love” the most moving adaptation Ive read.

Jesus Loving Barabbas

Unusual title? I thought so too when I first came across this video, however by the end I totally understood it. These 8 minutes completely changed my perspective on this part of the Easter story and made me see God’s grace in a whole new light.   Give it a watch here, you wont regret it.

https://youtu.be/RwX_EpNR4CA

Grab a notebook

As I’ve already said grace is God’s  favour towards us, who are so undeserving, so why not reflect on how God’s grace has personally touched your life. Make a list (or a spider diagram-whatever floats your boat) and write down ways in which God’s grace has manifested in your life. This is a great way to adopt a grateful heart whilst fully understanding God’s grace.

Today as you read this I pray that the words of Ephesians 2:8-9 will truly rest on your heart, ” For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” Know that it is because of God’s grace that you woke up this morning, that no matter what you do (for good or bad) you are covered by His love and grace.

 

YouTube

One of today’s biggest social media platforms (and one of my favourites) is YouTube. In fact a 2011 survey discovered

The average YouTube user visits the site 14 times per month, spending an average of 25 minutes on the site each time. This adds up to 5 hours and 50 minutes per month for the average YouTube user. Not as much as Facebook, but read on… Together, we spend 2.9 billion hours on YouTube in a month.

Its crazy to think that we waste that much time staring at a screen, but what if staring at that screen stopped being a meaningless act and instead helped you draw closer to God and learn more about Him. For me, YouTube has become a super helpful tool to find others who want to share their passion and heart to see Jesus’ kingdom come by sharing His message with the world through their videos. Therefore, today I wanted to share a few of these with you all.

Jefferson Bethke

This guy, is where watching YouTube in this way all began for me. If you do nothing else today watch his video “Why I hate religion but love Jesus.”  From spoken words to answering tough questions, to uploading super cute vlogs of his family. His perspective on issues is so christ-centred and he conveys this in such a gracious way.

Sadie Robertson

This 19 year old, is a fun loving girl who knows exactly what people need to hear and is a fantastic role model for teens. She lives fearlessly, never letting her youth be an issue. Her videos come straight from the heart and cover a range of topics. Some are interviews, others candid vlogs of her speaking about what God has placed on her heart. (Her instagram is also pretty cool)

Jon Jorgenson

Ever struggle to study the bible? Jon’s 10 minute “A day in the Word” videos are short bible studies which help to study the bible in an engaging way, leaving us with things we may have otherwise not noticed. He too also creates spoken words, delivering them with a contagious passion.

24-7 Prayer

This is a new discovery for me, but one which came at a perfect time. 24-7 prayer create short one minute video series for the seasons of lent and Advent, as well as some others. Currently they are doing a series called “Stories from the Wilderness” which gives those who have been delivered from tough times by the grace of God a voice. The videos only last a few minutes and are a great way to start the day in the right mindset.

Yumi

This girl chats about just about everything. She shares God’s perspective on many issues young people face today from a super honest place. On top of this she sings! I mean what more could you want.

Cambria Joy

Ive left my favourite til last. This channel not only inspired me and encouraged me in my faith, but showed me a new way to honour and worship God; through taking care of myself. Although many of her videos are based on health and fitness, they all have God’s will at the core. Also she is getting married soon- so look out for a super cute wedding video in the foreseeable future!!

I could go on all night but I’ll stop there. Maybe you find it hard to read, this is a great alternative, not only to learn more but to know that you aren’t alone in your struggles or in your joy; you are part of a family of believers who want to transform culture while seeking out his heart.

 

Who You Are

The first question in many interviews is “Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?” At this everyone freezes up a little and finally tells them the monotonous details of “who they are”; “I am 18, I go to Foyle College and I study music, english and RS.” But does that really tell you something about who I am, no, our identity is so much more than this, because it is through God that we find our identity.

Therefore, when it comes to thinking about who we truly are we have to think about who God is. When we are secure in Him we will be secure in ourselves because He is our everything.

God is Our Father

Therefore we are His beloved children who He loves more than any parent could ever love their children. Thinking of God as a father also shows the intimacy of our relationship, we do not worship a distant deity but an always present father.

God is Our Saviour

He saw us and thought we were worth dying for even “while we were still sinners.” God has saved you, you are redeemed from whatever is in your past through His grace. He turned our inadequacy into adequacy through His death.

God is Our Creator

I know it seems like an obvious one, but think about it. If God created us He made us just the way He wanted, every freckle, every hair was intricately designed. The fact that someone so special made us shows the sanctity of our life. You were created for a purpose.

God is on Our Side

You are strong because God is within you and will strengthen you. We all have those times where we feel alone, like we are fighting an uphill battle, but we mustn’t forget Romans 8:31  which says “If God is for us, who can be against us?” God is victorious, hold onto that hope that your future is secure in heaven, it will be ok.

This world constantly tells us how we should be defined; be our gender, our job, our race, our weight, our interests, our fashion taste (or lack of), our past, our mistakes, but none of these things are truly who we are. Dont look to the world to find your worth, instead look to Him who created you (I mean who could know any better than Him!) My favourite verses when looking at our identity is Ephesians 2:8-10.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

So when you feel inadequate, unloved or just a little insecure remember who you belong to, who created you.

 

All about that book

Someone once said ” In books I have travelled, not only to other worlds, but into my own.” Anyone who knows me even the slightest will know I love to read, I am one of those annoying people who will leave you with a huge pile of books to read because I just can’t help recommending every amazing book I’ve read to others. But as well books have been pivotal in my relationship with Jesus, finding a book that points me to God and His word is always a winner. Now I’m about to leave you with a few books to add to that infinite “to be read pile.”

For those exploring faith and Jesus…

Blue Like Jazz.  This book was one of the first christian books I read and follows Donald Miller’s own journey of faith in a brutally honest way. There is something so special reading such a candid account of someone’s journey with so much relatable content. This book doesn’t contain any confusing theology or religious jargon, however it does contain a
cartoon strip (you’re going to have to read it to find out more) Wherever you are in your faith, just read it.

For putting feet to your faith…

Love Does. Have you ever thought about God’s love as a verb? This is exactly what Bob Goff explores in this book, writing stories of himself and others about how they have answered the call to share God’s love everywhere they go through their actions. This book is literally a written pep-talk and a easy, but enlightening read.

Praying Bolder Prayers…

Red Moon Rising. This book follows the 24-7 prayer movement and Pete Greig writes of how God has moved in big ways through something as simple as prayer. Reading this I was drawn to be more expectant and found a new appreciation for the gift of prayer. To be able to be in conversation with the creator of the universe in such an intimate way is something that constantly baffles me. (PS-if you’ve read this already Greig’s new book Dirty Glory is also a fab shout!)

I could write on and on about even more amazing books, but for now I will leave you with these three. As I’ve already said these are books that have been pivotal in my journey with God, but we must not forget the ultimate, life-changing, life-breathing book, God’s word itself-The Bible. Although it is amazing to read the interpretations and experiences of some truly gifted people it is important that we always put the Bible first.

In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Paul writes “ All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

Never lose wonder at God’s amazing book, continue to pursue knowledge in order to know Him better through both The Bible and other books inspired by His word.

 

 

Eternal Perspective

Look around you, look out at the world and what do you see? A broken world, laughter, tears, pain, beauty, grief, joy…the list goes on and on. We are constantly making observations and processing new information but its what we do with these observations that’s important.

Sometimes I watch the news and I am overwhelmed by the suffering in this world, but I have a hope that this won’t last forever that God will heal this land.

I recently read that ” a godly leader has an eternal perspective.” Living with this eternal perspective gives us hope and reminds us to constantly live our life pointing to Christ. I continually go back to Hebrews 12:1-2 which says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

Jesus is the perfect example of how we should live and His eternal perspective gave Him the perseverance and bravery to die a criminal’s death in order to fulfil God’s will and bring joy. Living our lives with this outlook will help us to live a purposeful life constantly in relationship with Jesus.

We know there will be trials but we have the hop of the joy ahead in heaven. We are aware of the leaps of faith we have to make, but we can trust our great God. This world is full of temporal, fragile things but we have a God who is steadfast and everlasting. We may not be able to see our future, but we trust God who wrote the blue prints of our life and gave us a plan in which we will prosper.

As we begin this journey of exploring perspectives we will always rest in our eternal perspective. Through everything we want to point to Christ and fix our eyes on Him.

Perspectives:New Year’s Resolutions

It’s here the moment we’ve been anticipating… 2017 has arrived! A new year, a fresh start and time to get those resolutions into action. When the new year rolls in each of us are more aware of the opportunity to reflect and change. I love taking time to reflect on the past year and if you haven’t already I encourage you to do so (check out Shannon’s last post for some practical tips on this)

I love setting goals and constantly striving to live life to the full, but we have to be careful. Don’t get me wrong I love New Year’s resolutions but I think we can all admit that sometimes they are great until they go out the window in February. Sometimes this leads to guilt when we reflect, we think we aren’t capable of the changes we want to make, but sometimes we just have to try again.

Recently I read Psalm 147 and was reading about the structure of it. From verses 2-6 the Psalmist writes of how God forgives when we repent and true repentance starts with true humility by being “broken-hearted” and vulnerable. However, the Psalm doesn’t end here, after instructing us to look back with repentance he writes “Sing to the Lord with grateful praise” portraying that we should look forward and rejoice. I think the outline of this Psalm is a perfect way to think as we enter a new year. However, I think we can look back with both repentance and praise. Take some time over the next few days to reflect on how God has been working in your life throughout the last year as well as looking for those areas were change is needed.

Now on to the resolutions. Of course, everyone has their own personal resolutions that they make but I thought I would share just a few ideas. Before I do I want to encourage you not only to use these ideas but also to pray and press into God’s will for you for the coming year.

1- Start with Him

We all do it, we wake up and reach for are phones to scroll through newsfeed after newsfeed. But this year I encourage you to think about what you do with those precious moments when you first wake up. How about instead of replying to a snapchat with a grumpy morning selfie (I’m super guilty of this!) we wake by talking to God and reading His word. This way we start as we mean to go on with our hearts and eyes fixed on Him.

2-Be Vulnerable

How are you? How many times have you answered this question with that word which means a million things, “fine”. Ok so I’m not saying that we should pour our hearts out to every passer-by but having those meaningful conversations are key. One thing I think a lot us struggle with is gossip, what if instead of going to talk about someone else we open up and talk about how we really are with each other.

3-Have more faith than fear

Make the big decisions. Live your life on the line for Him. Isaiah 49:23 “Those who trust in [God] will never be put to shame.”

 

Finally- Happy New Year!!! I hope it’s a great one.