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

Mercy, We need You

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”- 1 John 1:8-9

What a passage! The religiosity and moralistic part of me is called out and convicted here, because if we are truly honest a lot of the time we distract ourselves from our own sin by looking at the sin in others and seeing ourselves as clean. But realistically we too are so full of sin. I have been really challenged this week to humbly read God’s word, allowing myself to be convicted by what it says and I pray that you too will have this conviction as you read the verses above.

But on to the topic of mercy, I think these verses perfectly encapsulate just how great God’s mercy is for us. Not only does it tell us of God’s merciful character, but encourages us to confess our sinful nature knowing that with a repenting heart we will be made clean. By truly acknowledging the depth of our brokenness the fullness of God’s mercy is revealed to us.

The thing is we will never get everything right, as Paul writes we “all fall short of the glory of God”, therefore we are always in desperate need of His mercy. Despite the amount of times we run the opposite direction, when we return with a humble heart asking for forgiveness he mercifully embraces us. He never gets fed up or says “do I really have to give you more mercy”, instead in his immeasurable love and generosity he forgives us time and time again. However, this doesn’t give us permission to do whatever we want, but allows us to rest in the knowledge that no matter how many times we mess up “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:38) because of God’s mercy.

In light of this I challenge you to take some time this week to prayerfully examine your heart,and to acknowledge your brokenness. However doing so in the knowledge that if you repent on this you will be covered in His mercy.  Remember that the Father doesn’t see us as objects of condemnation, but of praise as Paul tells the Romans in chapter 2:29, ” a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.” that is the amazing, intangible, fullness of his mercy.

Mercy.

 Mercy is what we as a blog and community are exploring this month. Mercy is a confusing one, especially after just looking at grace. i am always mixing it up with grace in all honestly or just plain thinking they’re the same. 

Mercy is another word that we use all too often when we dont even know the meaning of it. We want to make this word as clear to you as possible and help you understand it as we also understand it more.
Mercy is defined as: “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within ones power to harm or punish”
So basically, that means being forgiven or shown love even when you have done the worst thing, even when you don’t deserve it, even when we deserve to be punished.
This is what God’s mercy is.

Grace and mercy have similar definitions but they’re most definitely not the same.

Grace is: ” God blessing us even when we don’t deserve it. -extending kindness to the unworthy.”

Mercy is: “God not punishing us even when we deserve to be. -deliverance from judgement.”

Mercy is when you’ve ran from god, but He still loves you and He still forgives you. Mercy is when you’ve committed the worst sin, so bad that you shouldn’t be forgiven, so horrifying that you couldn’t even imagine God loving you or forgiving you ever again, but He does.

Has a friend ever done something or said something that hurt you so much that you couldn’t bare to even think about forgiving them or even saying it’s okay. So you both just fall out of friendship instead of forgiving eachother and moving on. Or even maybe you’ve ‘forgiven’ that person and you’re still friends but you’re not as close anymore, and there’s still that bitter feeling there. That’s how humans work.
God doesnt work like that. Once you’re forgiven, you’re forgiven, once you’ve done that bad thing, He still loves you and He will still forgive you. There’s no bitterness and there’s not a thought in the back of His mind saying, but she done that or he did this, i cant forgive him or I cant love her again. He won’t fall out of love with you, He simply forgives.

He loves you and wants you to know that. He wants you to know that you’re forgiven no matter how terrible that thing is you’ve done.
Know this. Know that He forgives you, even when you deserve to be punished, even when you don’t deserve the love He gives you. 

I pray that this helped at least one of you understand this word better and understand the real, truly amazing and beautiful meaning of the word. 

Love, She Spreads Light xo 

Welcome Home

Sweet One. Stop striving. You know that feeling when you are simply so tired. When the world isn’t in colours because your brain doesn’t actually have enough energy to compute them. When you feel empty and lifeless and full of regret. When you believe you are the sum of; the words you have said and those that have been said about you. It is so easy to get bogged down in the ideas of others, the pressures of who people want you to be and what they want you to do. And you know the worst bit about it – sometimes you don’t even realise the pressure you are under and how it shapes who you are becoming.

There’s a quote that says only diamonds are created under pressure. Yes that’s true – but I don’t believe we were created to be lifeless rocks that are admired and sold for a fortune. Things crack under pressure too – they break. Most of the time when something is under too much pressure it breaks and causes a disaster. So tonight I’m not going to write about some flowery, cliché quote in the hope that you will find truth and motivation. We are going to delve into the deep grit of the bible. The ugly parts, the parts we don’t understand – the whole thing. Why? Because all scripture is fundamentally written by the hands of men but the heart of God.

That means that what is written and what the bible says – is the truth. It’s the truth. Even if we don’t understand it, even if our culture screams something else at us, even if our hearts really struggle to believe it – it is truth. God has written this beautiful book for us – for you. For you to open it and be inspired, to get creative, to be encouraged, built up, corrected – because he loves us. The depth of God could never be more beautifully expressed that the harrowing image of the cross. So for all of you tonight who feel beat up and spat out this is for you. For you – who feels like you are crumbling under the pressure. Know there is a way out and his name is Jesus. His arms are always open to welcome you home.

The underlying theme of Hosea is that you are valuable. Value isn’t something that you have. It’s something that you are. God so divinely knit you together to be you. Because you have something locked inside of you that only he can unlock. Something that the whole world needs. Something beautiful. Value is part of your character – things that you touch become valuable simply because you are there. The people around you are so valuable.

Gomer was valuable, Israel was and is valuable. That’s why this book was written. To fundamentally reveal to Gods people that they’re chosen, that they’re valuable. That therefore what He has for them is greater than how they are currently living.

Gomer made huge mistakes everyday – she ran, she betrayed, she hurt others and hurt herself. Sound familiar? She got lost admits what she thought she deserved because she didn’t realise that she was made worthy of something so much more.

She didn’t realise that every dream that goes to waste finds new life before his face – he gives all you could desire and so much more. – K.DiMarco

 

In our first blog post about Gomer’s story we saw how she never believed her life could end up the way it did. God wrote this book about a whole nation not one individual – Gods power can redeem a whole a nation for he plans our rescue before we even want him. He is able to rescue you. When we let him in, we see we have value beyond anything that could compare.

So Hosea and Gomer. I hope you have enjoyed it. Words can’t express how much of a privilege it is to create something that I love for a community of people I love. Live knowing your name is value, that God doesn’t create anything to be wasted. You are always welcome home no matter how many times you wander.

Hosea 14 –
O Israel, come back! Return to your God!
You’re down but you’re not out.
Prepare your confession
and come back to God.
Pray to him, “Take away our sin,
and accept our confession.
Receive as restitution
our repentant prayers.
Assyria won’t save us;
horses won’t get us where we want to go
We’ll never again say ‘our god’
to something we’ve made or made up.
You’re our last hope. Is it not true
that in you the orphan finds mercy?”
4-8 “I will heal their waywardness.
I will love them lavishly. My anger is played out.
I will make a fresh start with Israel.
He’ll burst into bloom like a crocus in the spring.
He’ll put down deep oak tree roots,
he’ll become a forest of oaks!
He’ll become splendid—like a giant sequoia,
his fragrance like a grove of cedars!
Those who live near him will be blessed by him,
be blessed and prosper like golden grain.
Everyone will be talking about them,
spreading their fame as the vintage children of God.
Ephraim is finished with gods that are no-gods.
From now on I’m the one who answers and satisfies him.
I am like a luxuriant fruit tree.
Everything you need is to be found in me.”
9 If you want to live well,
make sure you understand all of this.
If you know what’s good for you,
you’ll learn this inside and out.
God’s paths get you where you want to go.
Right-living people walk them easily;
wrong-living people are always tripping and stumbling.

Show up.

I often hear people say “if I walked into that church, it would fall down around me.” I don’t know if anyone else really says this, but I’m going to explain what it means to me when people say it. Some of my relatives say it a lot, especially when there’s an event involving a church like a wedding, a funeral or a confirmation. It means to me that the person feels they have too bad a life to enter the church doors, they’re not pure enough, they do things that are ungodly, they’re just not a good person full stop. My heart breaks when I hear people say this, because personally I think that’s what people think of God and the church. So many people think that the church is a dictator, a judge. People think that when they sit in that church , the pastor is just sitting there judging them, judging their past, judging what they do, just judging and dictating what’s right and what’s wrong.

You do not have to have a perfect life to have a relationship with Jesus
. I find that one of the most amazing things about his grace. Knowing that when I walk into a church on a Sunday, I am loved, I am forgiven I am known and the church building most definitely will not fall down around me. I do bad things, I say bad things I act ungodly sometimes. That doesn’t change His undeniable grace over me. And it doesn’t change for you either.
Maybe you want to know God more , maybe you want to go deeper and maybe find a church to help you do that. Maybe you have already asked Jesus into your life, but you don’t go to church. Maybe you’re afraid of the judgement, maybe you’re afraid of not having anyone there with you that you know or maybe it’s just too daunting to take that step. It is scary. I know it all too well.

My friend and I recently started going to a new church. We are both the biggest introverts you could get, it’s hilarious. On Saturday night our conversation goes something like this:

“Are you going to church tomorrow?”
“I’m going if you’re going”
“Cool, see you tomorrow”

Then, we will go on a Sunday to church and after we’re too afraid to talk to anyone else, so we talk to each other complaining how stupid we look with no friends in church.
Or It will go something like this:

“I cant go to church tomorrow, I’ve got something on”
“I’m not going either then, I have no friends. I’ll be a wee spare spoon”

Yep, “wee spare spoon” were the exact words too. (that basically means loner/by myself) if one of us don’t go to church on Sunday, the other won’t because of the fear of not having anyone there with us that we know. Another thing is if someone is out the night before, they might say “I couldn’t face the church today because of what I was like last night, I just couldn’t.” The fear of being judged in our minds is greater than Jesus at these times. But let’s get one thing straight. God’s grace is so much bigger than the fears. Even if someone doesn’t go to church because they were out too late, or even if they just don’t go to church because their friends not there or maybe, they’ve turned up to church with a hangover, even if you’ve done the worst imaginable thing. The church will not fall down around you. His grace is so great, your life doesn’t have to be perfect to have the privilege of experiencing that. The church isn’t judging you and God isn’t judging you.

“20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

-Matt 18:20

Show up.  no matter how big the fear is. Your fear may be big, but your God is bigger!

Filling the void

20170418_182214Most of us have a period of time when we’re journeying through life with Jesus, that we feel distant and feel unloved. No matter how much faith I have and no matter how much love I have for  Jesus, there is always that one patch, that week or month or however long, where you still love Jesus and you still have so much faith, but there’s something wrong, there’s something that is stopping the love of Jesus from filling you up and you start to feel unloved and abandoned. I remember when I first became a Christian, I loved it, I was so filled with joy and felt so incredibly loved, but not so long after, it disappeared, it was almost like Jesus just left me in the middle of the night with a note to say He doesn’t love me anymore.

I found things to fill the void that I thought Jesus had left. Going back to things that were so evident that I wasn’t okay and I wasn’t happy. Some days are harder than others and that’s okay, making mistakes are okay because his grace is so good and He has an undeniable mercy for each and every one of us. But that doesn’t mean that we should go and do these things out of anger or hatred or because we’re feeling unloved, and we shouldn’t keep going back to these things because they might fill the void, but they won’t give you the joy that Jesus gave you before.

***

Dear Hosea,

I’ve left.

Don’t come looking for me. I don’t love you anymore. I’m exhausted with you, I’m sick and tired of the kids and changing nappies and cleaning up puke in the middle of the night. I’m sick of you loving your God more than me, and giving him more attention than you ever gave me. I’ve left the children with the neighbours and left.

Bye.

-Gomer”

That’s the letter I left to Hosea. My husband, the man I thought loved me.  I mean he did love me, I think he did. He saved me from the utter mess of my life, he said the vows “till death do us apart.” I don’t really know what love is, but it felt like love, until recently. I didn’t feel loved. I was completely exhausted and tired of him, his preaching, how could I be a preacher’s wife if I didn’t even know God if I don’t love him and he didn’t love me? Hosea loved to preach and loved to give his audience more attention than me and his kids. I don’t understand how he could name his children “unloved” and “not my people”, how heartless could you be? Yeah, maybe I did cheat, maybe I was unfaithful to him but I don’t understand how he could know that, so surely it wasn’t that.

Hosea left for work one evening. I got the chance, and I took it. I left the kids next door, wrote a note and left. I went back to my old life. I couldn’t wait. I couldn’t wait to see everyone again and be welcomed with open arms and smiles. I thought I was the easy way out. I thought this would be the way it would be. I thought the paths would be straight and flat, with no obstacles in the way, but they weren’t, not like usual. The paths I knew so well became paths that felt like I never traveled before. I was completely and totally lost. I didn’t know where to go. I couldn’t go back to Hosea. He would never forgive me. So I was homeless. Left completely alone on the streets. No shelter, no clean clothes, no money. Nothing.

“Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
7 She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.’”

Hosea 2:6-7

Then something amazing and unbelievable happened…

~Gomer.

***

You see, we are more like Gomer than you would ever believe. If we said that Gomer was us and Hosea was God, would you relate? Definitely. Gomer felt distant, she felt unloved, she felt exhausted. Gomer Felt these things. She wasn’t these things.

These things she felt made her feel somewhat empty, so there she went and found something to fill that void. She left her world behind. Her husband, her children, her home, her new life. And she went back to her old life. The miserable, homeless, poor life where she spent her nights sleeping around just to get by and buy a meal. She filled the void by sleeping around and getting just enough money to eat.

Hosea loved Gomer incredibly and abundantly, just like God loves us undeniably. We often find things to fill the void whether it be alcohol, relationships, sex or drugs when we feel distant from God and when we feel he isn’t with us. It’s so important to know that when we feel like this, He is still with us and He does still love us and He wants you to be happy. We know that He will never leave us, so why do we allow the devil to make us believe it? He is always there and He will always love you. Stop looking for something to fill the void and start looking for Jesus. I Promise it will be completely fine!!

SSL. x

*It was an absolute privilege to carry on in Shannon’s Legacy for part 3 of the last 2 parts. I pray that I didn’t take anything away from her beautiful adaptation of the story, or indeed the Original story and I hope you enjoy part 3 as much as I enjoyed writing it and as much as you enjoyed Shannon’s posts.

– Katelyn.

 

 

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.