May 23rd

It has been three weeks since I came to this corner of the world. And how I have missed it. As we finish up digging deeper into what MERCY actually is and what it means for us -I want to tell you a story. A really honest story – one that really doesn’t make me seem like a good person or christ-like at all. The next hour is going to be honesty hour. From one tired and burnt out soul – to hopefully not, but probobally, another.

I’m extremely self-absorbed. Like really into myself – which is weird because honestly the world is full of so many more intresting people than myself. But even though that is true, I’m still self obsessed. If I’m honest. Which is a rule in honesty hour.

It was a Tuesday – the 23rd of May 2017. To be honest on the 23rd of May I couldn’t have told you it was actually that date. I was that far gone. I had a week full of exams and was truly feeling very sorry for myself. I had entered survival mode. Which soemtimes we can’t help but enter. But it is important to remeber survival mode isn’t what you were created for. It doesn’t exist in the kingdom of God – God created a world for us to thrive. But like many things when it comes to God I often forget and go my own way.

I was walking down the street thinking about Bali or Austria or some holiday that I was going to take really soon. With all the non-existing money I was earning from my non-existant job. I saw some rubbish on the ground. I have a rule. A rule that I don’t always stick to but still a rule. It is to pick up rubbish when I see it on the street. Yes I am that person & Yes I do care about the environment. Plus it is really good for testing how prideful you are. But that’s not the point. God said – clear as I have heard Him in a LONG time.

“Will you pick up my children who think they are trash (yes in my head God is American) and let me recycle them.”

I thought “oh that’s a nice thought, now back to my head clearing walk”. As I crossed the street, there she sat. I wish I could call her something other than she but I never got her name. She was sitting, in the cold on her coat – clutching a photograph. She was crying and blood was pouring out of her wound. Obviously at first I didn’t notice this – I was to absorbed in my head-clearing-poor-me-I-have-exams-walk.

I would love to say I stopped. That my initial thought was to help her, that I had some innate drive to sacv this woman. To atleast pray or soemthing that makes me sound like I actually want to live my life for Jesus. But I didn’t. I walked straight past her.

Afterall this night was about me. I deserved the walk – first off it was a walk, it was nothing special. I wasn’t treating to an incredible spa day. It was a walk people. Second I had worked hard all day. I justified all the reasons inside my head why I shouldn’t go check if she was ok. Afterall it was 10:30pm, I was in a dark park where people do drugs. Like real drugs, and ofcourse I know nothing of that because of my christian bubble, (but that is a post for another day). Plus she could have had a weapon, afterall leaving her there was the wise choice. Stranger danger is a real thing people.

God took control of my body in that moment and marched me – literally, to the woman. I sheepishly said are you ok.  In my head I was like she obviously isn’t shannon – wise up. But no other words would come out. I asked if there was anything I could do. I sat down. I told her I would be back in a minute. Then I got up. Fear took hold of me and I walked away. I went home. Got my mum (obviously) and then came back. There’s more to the story but that is not for today. In the end an ambulance came to take her away and heal her physical wounds.

First off I am not belittleing the fact that it is dangerous to talk to a stranger sitting alone in the park. I get that. I do. That’s why I got my mum.

However this story inheritely shows Gods heart. He asked me right before  if iI would do the very thing He knew I wouldn’t do. In that moment I felt like such a Peter. The bible is so relevant today.nThat morning I prayed the prayer, I pray every morning – “Dear Lord I thank you for this day and devote it back to you, let me not be lying when I say that I love you for today I could betray you”. (Its the shannon adaption of St Francis of Assisi’s prayer). That morning God knew that I would go a walk at 10:30pm and that I would come across a soul in need of comfort. He knew I would walk away. He knew I would be afraid.

The world that God intended us to live in may seem so far away. Huge mountains of pride, selfishness, pain, loss, busyness – stand in the way of us living life to the full. Bringing the reality of heaven on earth. All we can do is daily fall on our face, aware of the incredible things christ bought for us with His love. Know we do life with God not for God. His mercy is tangible, it is alive, it is present, it is yours – if you want it.

Becasue of His divine love and beautiful mercy he descended from a heritage of messy people to be born literally into animal mess. Why? To save the mess that is you and I. So often we make it all so complicated. Theology  can be complicated. But Jesus is perfect theology. He loved and continues to love the mess that I am. He continues to show me undeserving mercy. Even though I fail Him daily. I pay no price for this love or mercy. I simply get to live in it. And you do to. (Which is often hard to understnad). He chooses my mess and I hope that I will continue to partner with people who feel like a mess. I hope I will do it afraid but do it anyway. I hope that if I walk away 100  hundred times, I will still turn around and walk back.

From one girl living out heaven on earth afraid, to another,

Love Shannon x

 The Second Attempt

How often in your life has a victory came out of a defeat. SOOO often I tell myself I’m going to be healthy and yet 99% of the time my healthiest seasons come out of a season of a total binge. EEK.

In real life – not just the cloud in my head where I think I’m healthy, victory for me has always birthed out of defeat. After I have sat in my self pity for a while and finally decided to strip myself off the floor one lazy part of my anatomy at a time, I usually accomplish the very thing the first time around I said I couldn’t do. My new found drive leads me to pursue greater things because I realise my failure is only proof that bigger things are on the way.

Joshua and the Israelite’s took two attempts to overcome Ai. Yet in true Godly promise they did it and God was faithful to every word he said.

And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land. And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its livestock you shall take as plunder for yourselves. Lay an ambush against the city, behind it.”

Joshua 8:1‭-‬2

God is capable and often sets his people free in an instant. However sometimes overcoming life’s difficulties requires work – lots of work. This endurance and dedication refines us, it strengthens our faith and challenges our theology. Difficulties aren’t given by God. They are used by God. Word. 

Game Plan 1. Make a plan 

I never do the shopping. Why? Because when I go shopping our family ends in a large amount of debt due to my impulsiveness. Shopping by lists is the new way forward. When you have a list you are prepared, when you know the journey and the shop you are expectant for the vehicle and people traffic. When you have a plan you get things done quicker – refraining from distraction and impulsiveness. 

I’m a strong believer that victory is always possible when we combine God’s heart and word with his plan. So today if there’s something impossible you are facing align yourself with God in prayer, read the scriptures and make a plan. Relying on his voice and promise to deliver you. 

2. Game Plan point 2 

Friends, mentors, leaders. 

Get around these people. Penguins in the Antarctic make a circle. They huddle in tight to receive warmth from eachother. Each penguin alternates position so no penguin is ever left on the outside fighting the cold alone and no penguin is on the inside hogging all the heat. 

Be penguins. Huddle together. Encourage each other, ensure no one is left on the fringes. For one penguin can’t generate enough heat and neither can you. God created you to be in community so that when you couldn’t realise the truth yourself someone will come a long side you and help you figure things out. PS if we go back to the story of Joshua he had a whole army that overcame AI – it wasn’t just him on his own. 

3. Game Plan number 3 

Victory is always yours. When your in the middle of a rotten place it’s so hard to remember that God has set a plan for you in advance that tells of your victory. Sometimes it’s easier to doubt or fake it. Be real. Be authentic with God about where you are at. Be honest with him. It’s so good to always bring out best to God – but sometimes Our best is lying in a heap on the floor – in our doubt. That’s perfectly normal. However if game plan steps 1&2 have been followed then you should never stay there. God never wants you to stay there. God is constantly on the move. Sometimes it requires us to step out to simply see it. 

Lots of love SSL x

 

When I Grow Up…

For years we think about this. We dream of being the tooth fairy, a teacher, a barbie maybe even a doctor… or is that just me? We make plans. We have dreams, desires and hopes. ALL of these things are good, and God inspired – all of these things were designed for us. 

God created man (that includes women too), he dreamed them up, placed vision in their hearts and placed them on the earth. We see this in Genesis one where God gives Adam and Eve dreams. Where he gives them resources to fufill their dreams, where he himself shapes thier dreams.

What happens when we get so caught up in our dreams that we forget the vision of God? What happens when, ‘when I grow up I want to be…’ becomes more than something that makes your parents giggle when you give humorous awnsers, or when it impacts more people than just you.

The truth is dreams and desires were created for us – not to rule us. The reality is we can be bonded by our own dreams. We can forget that true freedom is found in accepting the fact that who we are can only be changed, shaped and our destiny fufilled through becoming more like christ himself.

What if ‘when I grow up’ has impact and matters? What happens when your God given dreams of healing the sick and the great comission becomes part of your bucket list of things to do ‘when you grow up’? What if your profession over rides your mission? God created doctors,fishermen,teachers and academics we only have to look to the disciples – but the one foundational diffrence in their lives and ours might be that we moulded the great commision around our dreams. Around aspirations that maybe don’t honour God or fufill your God given potential? These may not be bad aspirations or sinful in the ‘generic’ way – good dreams can also lead to veering of the path.

As I come to a time when I need to decide a serious awnser to what I want to be when I grow up, I am blown away by the amount of things I still want to do. I am blown away by the length and breath of choice and have the upmost desire to do the very will of God. I am blown away by still how confused I am but I believe fufilling his will can be achieved if we stay obedient to the great comission. If we mould our lives, every waking sleeping minute around creating a culture and character within ourselves that simply means we walk in what God has designed us to do.

To fufill the great comission, to heal the sick, to free the bonded, but above all to give glory to the only one that is capable of such things through us.

You won’t miss out. You might take the wrong path, it might take you longer – there may be more bumps and bruises but what God has set out for you is yours for the taking – don’t be afraid of the work, don’t feel like you are overcome. That’s a lie. Gods got you. He always has and always will.

God Bless. xo

Fighting the Giant

“David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies–the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” – 1 Samuel 17v45

Sent to bring cheese and bread, arrived and slayed a giant. David knew peace. He knew that in any time of trouble, testing or fighting – God was with him. How do we chose peace in our everyday lives? How do we live fufilling God’s story for us when it comes to peace?

  1. Know his character

David knew who God was. He spent time in his presence just like we talked about last week – not only reading the word but spending time intimaely with God. Asking him questions, being confident in his converstions, crying out when he had nothing left. David knew he needed the presence of God to know the character of God. We do too.

2. Know peace is a choice

Peace is not decided by whats going on around you but by who is inside you. Through anything you have a choice to choose peace, or lack of. Peace is not something reserved for people who have it all together, or those yoda like friends – peace is for you and me alike not depending on our character but on our choices.

3. Know peace is worth the fight

David fought for peace. We see countless times David questioning God and crying out to him – I don’t know if you believe that you can question God but countless times in the bible, characters question and God reminds them of his faithfullness. He does the same for you too. Ask and you will recieve. Fighting for peace isn’t easy. It means stopping in a busy world and deciding that peace is more worthy of the time and fight. But when peace is present, Fear can’t be. When peace is present you will feel encouraged into everything God has for you. Peace is a rock on which wise, faithful, obedient steps are made. Peace changes everything. I pray you ask God to for peace and too help you always choose peace.

 

Though the mountains be shaken
    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you

-Isaiah 54 v 10

WORD.

Samuel was a prophet he relied on the voice of God as well as the word of God. David was a man who leaned heavily on the voice of God – he himself a man after God’s own heart. Last week I lost my bible. It was a total drama. Like old school. There were no tears, but trust me I was close. It made me really think about the reality that so often I idolise my bible. That I put it above an actual encounter with the living, breathing, very much a live God.

This is so wrong, and I whole heartedly believe Idolising our Bible is something lots of christians fall into the trap of. The bible was created for us to grow in connection with God. The bible is a good thing and loving your bible is so very important yet when we use it simply to form an argument or to learn head knoweledge, we completely miss the entire point of what the bible is – a sign that posts to Jesus himself.

 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome. – 1 John 5 v 3

Jesus became the word. The word isn’t Jesus. The commandment is to have ‘no other Gods’. To put him first, to bring glory to him and to seek him above all else. That is what his word is for – to bring glory to he who created it not to bring glory to oursleves. We have to stop manipulating the word to fit our ideal of how things should be. Are you encountering God when you read your bible? Are you applying it to your life? Or are you storing up brownie points in your head trying to convince yourself that just reading with no encounter is what God actual longs for?

Relationship starts with redemption. Idols are Idols. Lay them down, check your heart. The commandments say ‘I am the Lord your God’, not I am the Bible your God. God’s commandments are only to find true freedom. Never to burden.My prayer is that you would learn to love his word, hungering after it daily. But that you would truly know that a relationship is not a reading list. That, relationship is what he truly desires.

 

grace trumps all. 

I don’t understand judgement. This is a problem for me as, you see when you choose to love someone or something you chose to love it when you’re tired, afraid, sick if putting in the hard work. You choose to love all of them not just the bits you understand and the parts of their character that makes you feel all squishy inside. I apply this to God. I pray that I continue to understand his character better. This means – with his help working to understand the bits I just can’t get my head around. 

Isaiah 24 is all about judgement on the whole earth. The whole earth. This means me. And you too. Open it up now. Let’s read this together! Itll be an adventure. So track with me to verse two. It calls everyone to be equal. It says “as with the slave so with his master”. We look at the world today and justice seems so far away. The slave and master are most certainly not equal. They don’t experience the highs and the lows together. And thats not ok. 

Over the last while I have been journeying the names of God. Like Jehovah-elohim The lord is God, Jehovah-Nissi  and The lord is conqueror and Jehovah – Repheka The Lord is Healer. I believe his name’s are the easiest way to reinforce his character. when understanding judgement this has helped me greatly. 

You see the lord gives us choices. He always has and always will. He petitions with is to make the right choices to stay close to his word and because of this to choose the right path. But so often we don’t. And that has consequences. 
So when it comes to justice and judgement know that the “lord of hosts reigns” v23. And that he will always reign. Now and forever and forever more.  

So often we look around us and are so confused by the world and all that is happening. We don’t understand and maybe we never will untill we meet Jesus face to face. But know that a good God only wants good things for his children. So often we go into autopilot. We forget we have choices and end up in a mess we are never intended to be in. 

As little as I understand judgement I understand his love and grace even less still. “Though we know little about him we know this:in the end all of our bad choices are redeemed by a solitary good choice of his.” -word for today

Jesus chose to take all of our bad choices and exchange them for all of his goodness. There is no sin, no shame, no pain that runs deeper than the blood of Christ. Nothing and no one could ever come close. When you choose to follow Jesus. When you choose to follow even though you maybe don’t understand ; your life is wholly exchanged. And I hope and pray that for you that will never loose its wonder. 

What areas of your life have you gone into pilot? What areas do you need to choose the right path to choose the right thing? Find the name of God that matches this. Know he is sufficient. Know he is always enough. I pray for integrity beyond belief and determination for you as you start in this new path. All of our love. X

Value. 

It was cold. I was on top of a fort in Ireland underneath the stars – and a revelation flew past my head. One of those things you don’t really get untill you catch it and think about it much later.

God whispered in my ear  “I have made everything beautiful you know even if man doesn’t see it”

 

I want to track value with you. Especially our value. That means yours too. For this I need to take you back. Way back. To the beginning. 

In  the beginning “man was created in his own image. In the image of God he created them” (Gen 1v27). It was Gods desire that we would be in perfect connection with him and indeed with each other. It was his plan that we would know his truths and fully trust in him and indeed ourselvesves.

You see value is a lot less about how valuable you are in others eyes and more about how valuable you are in the eyes that created you. Value is deeper than putting a photo on Instagram and not counting the likes. It’s deeper than feeling ‘hot’ in that one dress that squeezes you in all the right places. It’s more deeply rooted in you than the darkest secret you think about yourself. 

Valuable is something you are not something you obtain. 

Loneliness, pain, hurt, bad grades, a breakup, feeling isolated, angry, and done with life are all things that can affect our feeling of value. But get this your feeling of value. Not the value you have.

For we have a father who is”true and teaches the way of God truthfully, and who does not care about anyone’s opinion, for he is not swayed by appearances” (Matt 22:16)

You can dye your hair any colour, you can spend waaay to much on those new shoes you can even work really hard and get to the highest position in the greatest career but in Gods eyes that adds no value to you. You are valuable because of who you belong to. 

If tomorrow I bought a piece of paper and signed it and placed it on eBay for the world to buy it would be deemed worthless. If Taylor swift did the same thing it would be worth so much. Not because of what it is (a piece of paper with a pen scribble) but because of who it belonged to. You are precious because of who you belong to. Not what you are. 

Feeling valued is greater than likes on a picture. I really want us to get this. People cannot dictate your value. Once you get this you realise; We are called to be restored and restorers of people’s value through christ. Restoration is calling out the beauty that has since been forgotten. Restoration is what we are called to do. Restoration is why Jesus was sent – so that we could be restored to right relationship with God through Christ. We are called to restore what’s already been placed on people and to call out the gold from within them. 

Know dear one you are valued beyond belief. That you are precious and that nothing – no sin, shame, loss ,loliness or pain could ever change that. No good grade makes you more important than anyone else. Let yourself off the hook today. Know who you are because of who he is. Let God restore your view of himself and of you today. Know you are precious.