》HONOUR《

In June we are exploring HONOUR. (Also- It’s June whattttt- this year is flying!!) She Spreads Light are hosting our very first event at the end of the month based on honour so we thought that this would be a great theme to be exploring and digging deeper into what honour really means to us.
In the Oxford dictionary, honour is defined as  “High respect; great esteem.”, “The quality of knowing and doing what is morally right.” Or “Something regarded as a rare opportunity and bringing pride and pleasure; a privilege.”

In the Bible, Honour is described through all of these definitions. The commandments describe honour in the terms of high respect..  E.g “honour your father and mother” – Exodus 20:1

By the definition of morals the bible says; “never tire of doing what is good” -2 Thessalonians 3:13

And finally in terms of privilege, firstly Jesus is a privilege, this world is a privilege, your life is a privilege. A verse that describes honour in terms of privilege is Ephesians 2:8-9- “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

I’m a person who likes to understand every definition of aa word and be able to relate it to something so apologies if you knew the words inside out, but it’s always nice to give your memory a refreshment!

So having all the important stuff out of the way. What does honour mean to me? I would associate honour with the first definition mostly- respect and esteem. So here I am talking about honouring your body and I’m excited for this. There’s many aspects to honouring your body. Today I’m going to be focusing a small part of the physical and mental aspect.

•physically•

As a physical approach, the body is what you see as a normal person and not a surgeon or even a radiologist. Real life isn’t Grey’s Anatomy, sadly but quite thankfully too. The bible tells us that our bodies are temples (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and we should treat them as we would a temple. We wouldn’t tell a temple it is ugly, nor damage it, and we wouldn’t leaves it to rot and wear away if it somehow gets damaged. Honouring our bodies are hard a lot of the time. It’s difficult to love yourself and it is difficult to believe that you are a masterpiece at times but it is the truth. I’m currently feeling like a massive hypocrite telling all of you to love yourselves when there are days when I don’t, and there’s days when I don’t believe that God wanted to make me this way. I know the truth but sometimes I don’t want to believe that truth. But so many of us are like this girl or boy, man or woman and quite possibly cat or dog.

When I was younger, my granny always gave my sisters and I £5 pocket money. I always would have been so excited to go to the shop after leaving to buy a new magazine. Although these magazine were aimed at pre-teens and teenagers. (think of TOTP, shout etc.). These magazines had covers and pages filled with celebrities, I remember getting a magazine and there was a poster of the High School Musical cast. I admired that poster with an admiration so deep-looking back it is so embarrassing. I remember wishing that I  could sing as good as Vanessa, I wish I had golden blonde hair like Ashley,  and I wish I was as intelligent as Monique, never mind being as pretty as them and as thin as them. Even today I still find myself looking at the magazines in a shop like cosmopolitan, vogue and glamour in which the covers are of beautiful, perfect, photogenic women, who have perfectly tanned bodies, clear skin and have no sign of fat or flaws. It’s so draining to try and love yourself in a world which doesn’t want to you love yourself, and a world which portrays women as having to be perfect and a world which poses a fake reality. I never saw any magazines which showed real women, which showed women who had problems.

As someone who has a body littered in scars like how an arena looks after a concert or how a field looks after a festival. It’s almost fake to say that your scars are beautiful. As a girl who’s scars are mostly intentional writing about honouring your body is a little bit or probably a whole lot laughable, but kind of a complete turn around and kind of humbling to know that I can still honour my body even after everything done to try and damage it and after every hateful thought towards it. Knowing that as much as I may have hated my body, it loved me back so incredibly much that it heals itself from minor bruises and cuts, it fights common infections, it keeps breathing it keeps going. Its comforting knowing that I am forgiven for ruining a masterpiece and that my apology to my body is accepted wholly. The body God made for you is a miracle in itself. Healing is another theme in itself so we’ll leave that for another post.

I am constantly amazed by the fact that god created us and handcrafted us to perfection, he even knows the number of hairs on your head. And I know you’ve probably heard this a billion times but its so incredible. I would hate to see a beautiful building falling apart, or a piece of art destroyed it would hurt my heart. So much. Even imagine your favourite, most sentimental, most beautiful thing you own getting damaged. This is what I imagine God feels when we don’t honour our own bodies and when we don’t love ourselves enough.

Looking at yourself in a different perspective can help you honour your body. For example, when your dress shopping for a big event, find the things that you like about your body in the dress. Or when you think things like I wish I was as thin as them or I wish my nose wasn’t like this. Tell yourself things like I love my eyes or I like that I’m short. Lets get one thing straight but. Beauty is not outward appearance.

Honour your body by doing the right things, like exercising, feeding it right and caring for it when it’s hurt. Rachel’s category, Take Care of Yourself is a really good read to dig deeper into the physical perspectives of honouring your body in a fitness aspect that I would honestly have no idea what to write about.

mentally

The first time I asked for prayer for my mental health I was 15, I was trembling , sweating and my voice was shaky. So shaky that I’m surprised that the girl could understand what I was saying. I was honestly expecting her to look at me and say “you look put together and happy, plus you’re too young to experience mental health issues; wise up. Is there something else you want prayer for?” but she didn’t; she went on and prayed, so deeply with so much love and so much passion. After she was finished we talked for a really short time and she was so supportive and really lovely about it. I’m honoured that prayer happened that night and massively proud that I plucked the courage in my introverted, shy, anxious being to get up, because it was a night which changed my perspectives on how the church really does view mental health and issues surrounding it.

Mental health is something not widely talked about in the church, but I think that’s it’s not that the church doesn’t want to support , more so the fact that it’s still a taboo and there’s still a stigma attached.

A word I remember so clearly from that prayer is joy. She prayed that I would find true joy in Him. True joy is unexplainable. It’s kind of like being with your best friend, at your favourite place, eating your favourite thing, listening to your favourite music and wearing your favourite thing- when nothing goes wrong and there’s no deep sadness that overrides that joy- but so much better. It like the adrenaline pumping through your body at a concert before the main act comes out- then they come out- then there’s screams- then they begin singing- then pure silence- pure peace. Joy is beautiful and divine.  Impossible to describe accurately. Joy is that peace that god provides. I don’t know about you but I don’t think I experienced true joy for a long time before I loved Jesus. See that concert and the favourite things those aren’t everlasting, they’re not going to be there forever after a few hours the adrenaline gone and the lights are back on and the arena is left littered and empty. Sure, there are a few dark days in-between the  joyous days, but He is ways there no matter how dark it is.  The joy He provides is permanent and eternal. A friend of mine explained Joy much better in a beautiful and honest post last night have a read to explore it more.

Peace is found in Him. Find Him and you will find peace. It’s so important to take care of your mental health. Honouring your physical body enables you to also honour your body’s mentality. Speaking love to yourself and speaking hope and speaking peace. Allowing gods voice to overrule the negative thoughts and allowing the worship to take over. Practicing self care is so good. Self care is as little as brushing your teeth in the morning to going for a run. My go thing for self care is pulling out my bible and flicking through the pages I’ve wrote in sand drawn on and also pulling out a box which holds all my letters, notes and just things I want to keep and reading them- some I read more than once or twice. Here’s a huge list of self-care.

This month I pray that God would break your heart for what breaks His, especially in how you see yourself and how you respect yourself as a person and body crafted by the one who loves you with all of His heart. I pray that you would honour yourself with such a deep love and respect that you would believe you are beautiful and that you are worthy and that you are a masterpiece. I pray that you find peace on god and allow him to overrule the negative and the things holding you back from living the life of love and the things holding you back from living for him.

We love you all so much and we are so excited for the rest of this theme to unfold into the incredible Honour event.

Lots of love, SSL. xo

Let The Light In

“Rise up and shine, for your light has come. The shining-greatness of the Lord has risen upon you. 2 For see, darkness will cover the earth. Much darkness will cover the people. But the Lord will rise upon you, and His shining-greatness will be seen upon you. 3 Nations will come to your light. And kings will see the shining-greatness of the Lord on you. – Isaiah 60 v 1- 3

As I sat down to write this morning, my pen took a little bit of scribbling before it fluidly came out of the nib. So often that is us. We take a little bit of mess before we become flexible to what God has for us. The art of taking pen to paper proves to us that everything beautiful, can be transformed and changed under some pressure. What I like to call this in the kingdom of God is – heavy rain. God teaches us that just like the pressure on the nib of the pen, rain may be painful – but rain cleanses, refreshes, and creates a clearer perspective. For fog, sunshine and wind are fleeting but in Northern Ireland rain is steadfast – just like pain may be. Rain reveals strength, it reveals a deep, stomach twisting hunger within you. It reveals what you are willing to fight for. It reveals what you say you believe because you know it’s the Christian way and what you truly believe. God wants us to be honest, vulnerable, broken and empty all at the time. Not because he wants to leave us there but simple because he wants to adorn worth over you and fill you with himself.

For so long in the media we have witnessed Instagram posts, bios and Pinterest snaps saying ‘define yourself’ – well I put it to you today that defining yourself is actually the worst thing you could ever do. For being defined by God is so much greater. Without God it’s all worthless. Have you ever really thought about it? Why in the grand scheme of things does it matter that you have value? God called you to have value out of love for every bone, muscle and fibrous tissue inside your body. He called you to have value because he created you. Because he took you out of himself. Because he looked at the world and seen the very thing he created in his likeness lonely – so he dreamed you up. He knew the world needed one of you. He created you in his likeness. He created you with passion, creativity, full of love and a wonder at his hand. He created woman out of man in order to co-reign the earth. This means you have worth because God loves you, because he called you to reign and because you are created in his likeness.

My heart for you today is that you understand your worth because when you do – life for you ultimately changes. When you understand – down to your core, that God has created you, to live differently. You walk knowing you are crowned, you live knowing that what he has for you is greater than the world could offer. You live knowing that your body isn’t something to be speculated at, you realise that you aren’t a fast food restaurant where people come to get what they need and leave you feeling empty. You realise that because you have worth you deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and most of all love. When you understand this, then you treat others the way they were intended to be treated. This changes the world. The world needs more people who understand their value so they can understand the value of others. You are valuable because of who lives inside of you. You are valuable because he came to earth and died for you. You are valuable because he speaks and it is so. Never forget it, please – when you are found without, he is found within. Rise up, the world needs a generation who understand their value in a self-obsessed world. Your identity in him speaks louder than your identify in anything else.

SSL Team x

The Broken Become The Healers 

You’ve trusted the same leader for decades (for most of us, our whole lifetime), he was the one that led you to freedom – out of slavery and directly to God. He sat with you in the darkest times and lived through the joyous times. He was a great leader in whom you trusted. Our text is Joshua 10 (and I believe given by God) tere are three main points he wants to draw out today… let the points begin! 

1. The Israelites trusted Gods ability through their leaders, over who their leader actually was.

The Israelites knew that Moses had been anointed to lead them out of Egypt. They trusted his leadership, witnessed him do miracles and knew that he was the very leader God called him to be. Moses dies. Joshua rocks up. The Israelites had watched Joshua grow up. They knew every tiny detail about him. They knew from a young age if he showed leadership abilities or not – I’m sure often people doubted his ability. However the Israelites put there trust in God through Joshua. For us this means that in times of transition and change we need to vulnerably trust God over the changing waves. That Our eyes once fixed on him and hearts fully abandoned to him –  will lead us to green pastures even through uncertainty.  

2. The names of the 5 kings in the passage, give us an insight into the heart of God for the Israelites and indeed us. I love exploring names in the Bible – I love how this highlights God’s creativity and inate ability to care about every detail. The 5 kings: An orator will  enlighten the woe to them and the justice of the lord. Even in the destruction the justice of the lord is highlighted. The very names of the kings demonstrated to Joshua that God’s justice is greater than any earthly possession or position of power. 

“God in his divine grace and goodness has the capacity to orchestrate scars into beautiful works of art that he can use for his glory” 

3. Joshua 10 shows us how someone who realises being broken isn’t the vision can become a healer for a nation. The Israelites felt inadequate, forgotten (after all they still hadn’t made it to the promise land) and confused. However God taught them that even in these times of utter mess that they are conquerors through him. 

And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you.”

Joshua 10:8 ESV

So today know brokenness isn’t the vision. Know you are called to use your past brokenness and align it with God to help others. Understand the importance of names and finally always know no matter if you feel it or not you are a conqueror through Christ.  

Lots of love SSL x

Grow or Wilt 

For a long time I didn’t know what true friendship really looked like. Friends are important. Friends help you on your way battling yhrough life – so it’s important we make wise choices. So often we listen to the advice of our friends, that isn’t wrong yet watch who you are journeying life with. Watch what culture, dreams and ambitions you have and see if the people around you enable you to fufill them. Friendship is a two way street so think about the same for your friend. How can you support them in who they are and more importantly who you know they will become?

Your friendships can dictate your convictions. In Jeremiah 12, Jeremiah cries out to the lord about the wicked, he asks “why do all who are treachurous thrive?”. You see Jermeiah was concerned about Idols and a broken covenant with the lord. The people he was running with weren’t running where he wanted to go. So he cried out to God he sought wisdom in every corner of his life because he know the righteous God would awnser him. God is our greatest friend and the deepest foundation. 

If you are in a friendship right now that doesn’t add value to your life then think about cutting it. Or cutting time you send on it. I know it may seem harsh, but your influences shape who you become. If you feel a deep conviction about something your friend does speak to her/him, don’t let unity and good friendship go to waste. Your convictions are Gods direction. Be obedient even if it means some hard conversations.

Learn the diffrence between aquaintance and friendship. This can be a tricky one. If you are starting up a business you ask a businessman how to do it. If you are baking a cake you ask someone who can bake a cake. Friendship is so much like this – yes you journey things together and get things wrong but if the baker sought out a bricklayer to help him bake a cake they would have very diffrent ideas about how to get there and do it. Yes difference is so important and it adds so much value to our life. But the end goal is giving people the opportunity to believe in God. 

The bricklayer, baker can be so much like christian and non-christian relationships. I have so many incredible non-christian friends, who I trust with everything that comes my way but sometimes its not appropriate for them to give me advice and vice-versa siply because we are going in diffrent directions- for the mean time.
As we bid 2016 goodbye and say hello to 2017 take time to realise what you can bring to a friendship and what your friends bring to you. Maybe part of the reason your in a rut is the friends you are running with. Make tough but wise decisions. Don’t let indecision keep you from taking the next steps on the dream.

You are a witness. And being a light to non Christian friends is so Important my friend Matthew once said- ‘don’t trick yourself into thinking you are being a good witness when you are doing the very thing your friends are doing’ 

God is good and he displayed this truth so well. Ultimately Jesus is the one we go to for advice, intimately he is king and our greatest representative of what friendship looks like. He chose 12 but had an even smaller circle if deep dreamers. However in the Garden when he was just about to die- he went off. He knew the foundation of life with God was consoling in him, trusting in him and seeking him above any other friendship. 

Don’t know what to do? Pray. Yet there is also practical advice out there – My friend Noelle talks about friendship amazingly on her podcast – friendingpod. Check it out!

Love xo

Perspectives: Christmas

Christmas is coming! A time of great joy where we remember the birth of a baby born to die so that we could have life. We celebrate with carols, presents and of course lots of food! For so many Christmas is the most anticipated time of the year and brings them so much joy. However for others this is not a case.

Christmas is a time when pain can be heightened, grief stings a little more, and anxiety is increased with business of the season. I don’t want to glorify these parts of Christmas, but simply address them.

For those of you who experience these things at Christmas, I pray that you will know God’s peace which surpasses all understanding. In Isaiah 54:10 it says” 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.”

Maybe you have lost someone dear to you and Christmas without them seems and is a very hard prospect, or maybe the thought of socialising with lots of people and an endless shopping list enhances your anxiety, whatever it is, know that you are strong. I am in no way saying that there is a quick fix, because there isn’t, but lean on Christ, He is with you ready to bring comfort to your weary heart.

I encourage you to join me in praying for people who find Christmas hard. For those who; will have an empty chair round their table, are celebrating in a foreign land because they’re home has been obliterated by war, are fighting a battle with physical or mental health.

I realise this blog may have left you with a burdened heart, and this is a hard topic, but one which I think is so important to address. Prayer is so powerful and I really encourage all who read this to pray with me, because it makes a difference. Also, remember that among the pain and brokenness there is a light which the darkness can never extinguish. Ultimately this is what we celebrate at Christmas, the light that came into the world and became human so that darkness, grief, pain, anxiety, fear, depression etc. will NEVER win.

I hope you all have a blessed Christmas celebrating Jesus and all that He has done for us.

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.