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29.11.10

My Little Thought on Audacious Faith

I think I have audacious faith figured out. It has nothing to do with how much faith you can muster, it has more to do with how much you have the audacity to ask for!

James 4:2
...You do not have because you do not ask God.

Matthew 17:20
.... Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

You don't need much faith (a mustard seed's worth will do) but you do however need to ask.
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26.11.10

Hope's Journey - Rest

Depression is often caused by burnout. Simply put - you have overdone it! I am very prone to this as I tend to like to do a lot. Very often I only realise I have done too much when it is too late. Learning to rest has been a key for me to avoid getting depressed and burnt out.

Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Paul summed it up nicely in this verse in Philippians. You will find this is a fascinating verse if you look into what hearts and mind means in the original text.

Rest Your Mind

Heart in the original Greek text is “kardia” as mentioned in the chapter on the mind, which is the thoughts or feelings of the mind.

Mind in the original Greek text is “noe ma” which means a perception, purpose, disposition or the intellect.

Would you agree with me that ‘the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,’ sounds like a great rest for your mind? Paul suggests that we can have this simply by ‘being anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God’. Not only will this give you peace but ‘will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’  Too often I get all stressed and agitated because my ‘ thoughts and feelings’ are filled with too much worry and so is my ‘perception, purpose, disposition or the intellect’.

The reason I am writing with so many quotation mark and italics is because I don’t want to dilute what this verse is actually saying. It’s so simple and the point could easily be missed or complicated. We can rest our minds by not worrying. Um... sounds familiar? Jesus said this too several times in the Bible and clearly stated that worry can achieve absolutely nothing in our life - so why worry? 

Paul brought it up again when instructing young Timothy, saying that God didn’t make us worriers but gave us a sound mind.  'Sound mind' in the original Greek means discipline or self control, so accessing this sound mind involves our will. God has not given us a worried mind, He has given us a mind that we have the ability to control so we must choose to rest our minds from worry. If we won’t rest our minds we can’t expect to rest in any other area of our life either. 

I am not going to give you a “how to” list because most of what I have written in this book will double up as a “how to rest you mind” list too. For example, if you apply the chapter on making lists to the area of resting your mind, you will see that it would be good to make a list of things that cause you to worry and stop you from worrying. When you find yourself worrying, you can yank out your list for some ideas of what to avoid of what to do to stop worrying.  The chapter on choosing your friends can help you rest your mind too because some friends will cause you worry and other friends will bring peace into your life. Eating well, exercising and sleeping affects your ability to unwind so you could use this chapter to find ways to rest your mind. I am sure you are getting the picture now. Most chapters can be applied to the area of resting your mind.

Rest Your Body

I have heard some people tell me not to be religious about the seventh day rest as we don’t live under the law anymore. Yes that’s true but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water! I believe God gave all the instructions to the Jews for their benefit, not to catch them out with laws. If we carefully examine every single law God gave in the Old Testament we can clearly see how they were for the Jews benefit and still today those “tips” that God gave them are totally relevant to us too.  Sure you don’t have to do what the Bible says, it certainly won’t send you to hell or anything, but why would you want to blatantly disregard God’s helpful tips on how to live on planet earth? He did create earth and us after all!   If I buy an appliance, I do like to read the manufacturers guide to understand how to use my appliance. It would be kind of silly to throw the handbook away and then sit and struggle for weeks trying to figure out how the silly thing works, wouldn’t it? In my humble opinion I view the Bible in a similar way, as life’s hand book written by the manufacturer of me.
OK enough waffle, back to resting our bodies... God made it a very serious offence to neglect the Sabbath. He really wanted people to understand that their bodies needed rest, so he added a death clause to it as a consequence.

Exodus 31:14-15
You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. 

I will stop here but chapter 11 does continue, for full details about this book, Hope's Journey, please go here.       
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22.11.10

Christmas Splendour

I am completely blown away by our plans for our upcoming Christmas Ball.  It started out as a small idea.  The idea, was to make the street people of Gloucester and the teenagers from our youth feel really special this Christmas.  We have had a fantastic year at our church and have seen many lives dramatically changed. People have come in off the street for the free sandwiches and coffee that we offer every Sunday.  Some of these people only come for the free stuff but some of them have lingered for church and have met Jesus!   

So we set a date, booked the venue, announced the party and started inviting these precious people.  I asked all of my professional musician friends to join us by providing live music for the event but no one was able to.  I had this nagging voice  in my mind (as you do) to ask one of UK's most amazing bands, [dweeb], to come and do the entertainment for the evening.  To my surprise and delight they agreed! I was amazed and thrilled and I knew that the teenagers would be too.
Since everything was coming together so nicely I thought I would invite the city mayor and the leader of the council.  We have been developing a lovely relationship with them and thought it would be appropriate.  Well what happened next blew my mind. We now have confirmation that the Right Worshipful The Mayor of Gloucester (Councillor Jan Lugg) and her Consort (Mr. Steve Lugg) will be joining us along with the Leader of the Council (Paul James) and his Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing and Health (Andrew Gravells). Talk about a guest list!

It wasn't long before I started panicking about this, the event is beginning to get huge and out of control.  It was then that I realised that God has set this whole thing up - I could not have brought this together even if I tried!  So I have invited one of the street people and one of the teenagers to share their testimony at the ball.  It will be a magnificent night with lovely food, formal dresses and tuxedos worn by street people and city leaders alike, great music with some carols by D7 Band too.  I am so excited and really looking forward to our Christmas Splendour.  There are a few tickets left, if you live nearby come and join us.
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19.11.10

Hope's Journey - Highs and Lows

What goes up must come down! I learned this the hard way by crashing badly. This left me extremely frustrated as I felt that I was never allowed to experience joy or happiness. Many times Eric would warm me, saying, “Be careful! You are getting too high now”. He always knew that he would be the one suffering the next moment when I came crashing down from my high. Often I would be very annoyed by his comment, thinking that I wasn't allowed to be happy or excited EVER! This really bothered me and I asked God to help me with this. I have now learned to love the moments of perfect balance in my life. They are rare and they don't last for more than a few hours at a time and on a rare occasion I can enjoy it for a whole day, but I would have to be totally alone for that to happen. Yes, I know, this is one of those times when you probably think I am very strange indeed! I have learned though, even in the times of perfect balance, to watch that it doesn't cause me do spiral down. I have to channel myself into something positive during the contentment in order to keep some form of balance. With God's help and mercy, ha ha, I have learned to "watch" myself and if I see myself getting over excited about something, I force myself to think about something else. This stops me from getting too high and come crashing down. 

Lingering in Lows

Avoiding lows is just as important. I can spend time meditating on sad things or even imagine an entire sad scenario and end up crying about something that isn't even real! So I avoid that sort of silliness. If I notice my mind wondering off down an unnecessary path I quickly pull it back by getting busy with something or intentionally thinking of something else. Often hurt can take me to a low place and I really struggle with getting myself back on track when I am hurting. This is the one thing that can cause me to go really low and I am easily hurt by the people I love - I am getting better at this though!

Silly Sin!

Recently I have observed something very interesting! Many times when I lose my contentment or balance it is because I have allowed a bad attitude of some sort to creep in. At first it is very subtle and goes unnoticed but since I have become aware of this, I can quickly get back on track. It’s so frustrating to see how easily I can lose my peace and joy! With some effort I know I will get to a beautiful place of enjoying peace, contentment and joy as a norm and not only as the exception.

Let me give you some examples of what I mean. At the moment we are doing a couples evening based on the book The Love Dare at our Church. One of the evenings involved a discussion on being irritable. I was so uncomfortable when I realised that each and every word spoken was describing me. I heard how a loving wife is not sensitive or cranky but exercises self-control and how love is not irritable. When you are irritable, the heart of the problem is primarily a problem of the heart.

Matthew 12:34
Out of the abundance of the hearth the mouth speaks.

Being easily angered is an indicator that a hidden area of selfishness or insecurity is present where love is supposed to rule.

Well this totally caught me out and my selfishness was completely exposed as I often get irritable, cranky and sensitive with Eric. I felt so overwhelmed with my own selfishness and asked God to forgive me and help me not be that way.  Realising this helped me also realise that usually it is selfishness that causes me to lose my peace or contentment which can send me on a downward spiral. I can usually trace the cause of my downward spiral back to becoming irritable or to insecurity or a fear. Seeing this has greatly helped me hold onto my contentment for longer. Now when I start to feel myself slipping I try and trace all the way back to the cause. I could be sitting in the sunshine feeling nice and peaceful just pondering life, when slowly my mind might wonder and end up thinking about someone that has been annoying me lately. Gradually my thoughts turn to this person and the things that annoy me and begin to feel the negative, annoying feelings again. Before you know it I have either had an imaginary conversation with this person or gone off on some sort of journey in my mind and my contentment is gone. I can get up from my seat in the sunshine and get on with my day but the contentment is gone. Later on that day of perhaps even the next day I feel a bit down all because I allowed myself to get annoyed FOR NO REASON AT ALL! How absolutely ridiculous is this? Understanding how this all works has helped me either quickly catch this sort of thing before it robs me or if I have not caught it in time, I can quickly trace my steps back to the root cause of downward spiral. To get back on track I repent for thinking those thoughts about someone or I pray for that person. The Bible is crystal clear about what we should do when faced with difficult people.

Luke 6:27-28
"But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 

I will stop here but chapter 10 does continue, for full details about this book, Hope's Journey, please go here.      
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18.11.10

A Great Question

If life is a motorway, which lane are you in today?
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16.11.10

Hope's Journey Launch & Signing


I am so excited I could pop! On 11th December I will be doing an official launch of Hope's Journey and a book signing at Living Oasis Bookshop in Cheltenham. I would love you to join me if you live locally. xxx
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12.11.10

Home For The Holidays


As you know, I am a huge supported of the A21 Campaign.  Here is a great idea that they have running at the moment for Christmas.

The A21 Shelter is a safe place in Greece where many survivors of human trafficking will be calling "home" this holiday season, and we want to ensure that we help make this truly a time of love, joy and peace.
So, we came up with this idea...

Let's ALL help make this holiday unforgettable for the girls! Here's the plan:

1. Send a Christmas card to the shelter!
Hand-written letters have become a novelty these days. Because they take a bit more time and effort, they are not only special, they are personal, (nothing says love like taking the time to write something other than your signature). Please send your card or letter directly to Greece at:
PO Box 10218
TK 54110
Thessaloniki
Greece
(*Please only send cards and letters.)

2. Make Change with Pocket Change!
This is something easy that you can do right NOW! We have asked the girls what they would like for Christmas this year. The most common request has been for a new outfit, so let's pool our resources and get them some of the finest shoes, coats, scarves, jeans etc! Let's all give $12 – (about the price of one movie). Consider missing a movie this Christmas to make a BIG difference! Click here if you would like to donate now and help us put something special under the tree.

As you're starting to make your Christmas list this year, why not consider this something you can cross off right now? Together, our small acts of kindness and generosity can make a BIG difference.
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9.11.10

Hope's Journey on my Bookshelf!

Click on image for full size
I know - ridiculous - but I have to! Take a look at my bookshelf... what do you see :)  I got the paperback version of my book this morning and I actually cried when I opened it.  It was as if I had given birth to a baby and was holding it for the first time.  I am so very excited and have had such lovely feedback already.  Sadly a lot of the feedback has been from people who are still struggling and need help.  Please pray that this book really does help people find hope and freedom from depression and suicide. 
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7.11.10

Lorah's Blog


My wonderful daughter Lorah, has been putting loads of effort into her own blog lately!  I thought I would take a moment to share it with you as it is well worth subscribing to.  Lorah is the Creative Pastor at our church and is doing incredibly well with all that God has given her to do.  She is faithfully sharing the journey that she is on through her blog, take a look here.  This Sunday Samuel & Lorah preached for the first time and I am so proud of them, have a listen to their message here.   
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6.11.10

Hope's Journey Paperback Release

I am thrilled to bits to announce that Hope's Journey has been published and is now available on Amazon both in paperback and ebook.  I would be extremely grateful for your comments both on Amazon and on this blog.
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5.11.10

King's Square Songbook

Smile was played for the first time on BBC Radio last Saturday.  This is very exciting for our band and we are thrilled to bits to be getting Christian music onto the radio.

Our CD, King's Square, has been doing so well so I thought it would be good to produce a song book too.  It has been released today on Amazon and is also available at our church info table.  It's very exciting to be able to share our music with other people and other churches.  Enjoy!
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2.11.10

Bad News

I am sitting at my computer hitting the refresh button over and over again at a local news report.  A woman has just jumped from the top story of a car park and I am watching the news and the comments that the readers are leaving.  My heart is grieved wondering who the woman is, do I know her, what drove her to jump?  Earlier this morning Eric walked into our church office (our living room with some desks in the corner) and I was sat at the phone crying.  I had just had a conversation with a woman who was going through a divorce.  This was her second divorce and she was not in a good place at all.  I was crying because I felt so helpless and was praying to God about what to do.  Now I am sitting here feeling very nauseous reading comments on the news website, wondering how to reach these precious people. Daily I am faced with bad news, should I stop crying and toughen up?  That is only the bad news from before 11am this morning.  Do I remind myself that this is just how the world is these days?  I can't bring myself to do that. I have to cry and feel the pain so that I remain in touch with God's heart.  The pain I feel drives me to find a solution.  Too many people have switched off the pain and stopped crying, they turn a blind eye because they feel helpless and they have resolved to do nothing.

I pray,  "What do you want me to do God?".  

"Tell them about Jesus Angela!"  is what I feel He is saying

I respond, "But God I can't.  They won't listen. They are hard. They think they don't need you!  I don't know HOW to tell them anymore.  It's not that I am not willing, I am so very willing but how.  God please show me how to show your love to the lost and dying world that I am living in.  Please teach me to tell people about you in a way that will reach their hearts."     

It's just not the same as it used to be.  I tell people about Jesus weekly and am always shocked when people don't want Him. If only they knew how real He is and how much He loves them.  If only they knew how amazing life could be if they just let Him into theirs.  What do you think King's Daughters?  How can we tell people that Jesus really loves them and cares about their hurting hearts?
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Hope's Journey - Understand Hormones

I have had many horrible days or weeks which often leave me feeling like a ‘bad’ person. I have learned to understand these times as hormonal times! Before I understood this, I struggled really badly. Hurting someone could have been a real possibility! I screamed at the children and I drove my husband crazy. Not nice at all. Depression also hit me badly some of these times, and as a result of the hormonal depression, I got even more depressed. Condemnation was a huge factor for how I had behaved, which caused me to sink even deeper into depression. This nasty cycle left me completely exhausted.

When I was in my twenties I cried out to God as I didn’t understanding why I was so up and down. Why some days I was this evil woman that was out of control. I clearly remember crying my eyes out as a new Christians feeling so guilty for being so bad. At the time I was doing a lot of reading and came across a book where they author mentioned her struggle too. This really encouraged me as I realised that I wasn’t bad at all I was merely struggling with the effect of premenstrual hormones racing around my body. Sadly she didn’t offer any miracle solution. Her solution was to pray and ask God for help and to keep trying to work on self control. Although I was relieved to hear I was normal and wasn’t some evil person, I was discourage as there was no quick fix solution, and I could see the long journey ahead in trying to deal with this. 

Over the years I have found a few keys that you might also find helpful, but honestly if you suffer severely I would recommend seeing a doctor. You might need to do something like change your birth control or alter your diet. 

I will stop here but chapter 9 does continue with a whole bunch of tips in beating hormonal depression, for full details about this book please go here.     
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