Saturday, 29 December 2012

A different route...?

Bonnie from Faith Barista is blogging at incourage about a different route. Just as the wise men, still journeying on, had to go a different way, so we are called to go on a different route sometimes.
So, what is the different route God is calling me to take? Well, it's NOT a DIFFERENT route. It is just a route I don't take very often or journey down very well.  I crawl laboriously forward, often slipping off the side of the road into the mud of resentment or the ditch of bitterness.
It is the route of FORGIVENESS.
I know I need to forgive the person who has hurt me who is ALWAYS right, never wrong. The person who wounded me out of mental illness, demanding actions and attitudes which could not be met.
I know Jesus whispers to me of how he had to do this, too. To forgive, when no wrong has been acknowledged let alone forgiveness asked. To forgive, not expecting any reward or return. To forgive unconditionally.
The route of forgiveness is one I need to walk over and and over again. I need to pick up my pace, walking more surefootedly than I have done before. I need to keep on going, keeping in mind my destination of holiness rather than looking at the uneven ground of snide remarks, unkind comments or downright rudeness. I need to gaze towards my goal and not look at the barriers of rejection or hurt or anger.
I need to keep my eyes on Jesus, THE author and perfecter of MY faith.

And I need to listen to and hear God encouraging me — in that quiet voice — to take the next step to my heart’s homecoming.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


Blogging about Christmas - Christ mas - Christ celebration. Here, and at mamampira, see-sawing between the two.
The Voice features this retelling of the story: I love the newspaper collage.

David Capes blogs on The Voice site. He has a thoughtful reflection on the genealogy of Jesus: he points out that Matthew "wanted to emphasize an important truth; even within Jesus’ family there were scoundrels, adulterers, murderers, prostitutes, and other unsavory characters. Why did Matthew want to do that? To signal to his readers that Jesus would be a friend of sinners. That he would welcome sinners—not just little “s” sinners, but big “S” Sinners—into the kingdom when they turned to him to mend their broken lives. Jesus’ family tree reminds us that though our sin may be great, grace is greater. So we included bits of Tamar’s and Rahab’s stories. You can read more about them in the Old Testament, of course, but most people won’t. We also included a commentary reminding you what it means that David fathered Solomon through the wife of another man, Uriah. Matthew could have whitewashed the whole affair by saying David fathered Solomon through Bathsheba. Instead he wanted to make sure that no one missed the irony, namely, the Messiah, the Son of David, came through a line where adultery, murder, and national shame enveloped the king in one of his most tragic moments. Still God was at work. Again, though, not everyone knows that story.

Rather than seeing these generations as just a list of names, consider seeing them as an index to a great story where human triumph and tragedy are participating in a great drama of redemption. God’s plan was not stopped in its tracks when people started acting badly. God did not need his people to live perfect lives in order to make sure the Perfect One arrived one day. The Father was able to redeem even the most sordid actions taken by Jesus’ ancestors, and deliver to the world at just the right time, a Savior born in Bethlehem.

He also talks about not becoming overwhelmed by the trappings of Christmas and recommends looking at The Advent Conspiracy, which has a neat little Advent calendar to help us do just that...

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Joy in the darkness

The Advent study, after taking off with love, then climbing through hope, has reached the dizzy altitude of JOY.

1 John 1:4-7, in The Message:
"Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!
Walk in the Light
This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him.
If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth—we’re not living what we claim."

The NIV says "If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth." 

That theme has been a recurrent one for me recently, as I have been thinking about 'stumbling around in the dark'. Of how easy it is to slip into sinful, selfish habits. Of the 'dark thoughts' which are so comfortable to entertain: those thoughts which flit across my mind unnoticed, especially when I'm tired and, may I say it, grumpy at the end of a difficult and tiring term. Thoughts such as 'It's not fair.' (Certainly true, often.) 'She didn't consider anyone else when she made that decision.' (Definitely true.) 'He lied.' (Yes, he did.)

I'm not saying I should deny the truth of what happens. But I AM saying that entertaining, even for a second, accusatory thoughts like these does not bring me JOY.

Joy comes
through accepting truth and loving others.
through giving the 'benefit of the doubt'.
through choosing to try to see life through God's eyes.

So, this week especially, I'm going to try to focus on Jesus, as the wise men did. Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signalled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.”

I want to be a wise woman. As John the Baptist said: He must become greater; I must become less." 
John also reminds us that "It’s not possible for a person to succeed - I’m talking about eternal success - without heaven’s help....The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice."
FULL of joy.

Advent thoughts: Love...

While reading about how much God loves us, I've also been reading about communities who know how to love God so much that worship and thankfulness permeates every aspect of their daily lives. There is no distinction between 'human' and 'religious' activity. ‎There are 3 things for disciple makers to focus on. Knowing (head), Being (heart), and Doing (hands).
Praying that I will live more and more in the presence of God's love. 'This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...'. Let this be more than just words this Advent!
Studying 'love' in Advent with Good Morning Girls, one of the reflections reminded me that:
‎"God's love is unearned.
God's love is gracious.
God's love is unchanging."

I love these verses from Psalm 119:105 - 106:
By your words I can see where I’m going;
they throw a beam of light on my dark path.
I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back
...from living by your righteous order.

But then it carries on: "Everything’s falling apart on me, God;
put me together again with your Word."

We certainly need God's light when it all falls apart!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Whatever you do...

A few weeks ago, Colossians 3:22 - 25 had been on my mind, as I  neared the end of the Good Morning Girls study on Colossians:  "Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favouritism."
The Message puts it like this:  "Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work."

Ultimately, whatever we do is for and in obedience to is about how we work this out!And this was my 'verse for the day', following on from Colossians 3:23: Romans 13:1 [Submission to Governing Authorities] "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." 

Ultimately, whatever we do is for and in obedience to is about how we work this out! 

I do try to do this. I do try to be 'the best I can be'.  Yet, at the end of a busy day, a busy week, I find myself wondering where God was during the day as I scurried around, trying to work cheerfully and without complaining, 'doing' and 'being' but, seldom 'praying'. And I find myself wondering how I can bring my prayer life into my working life, to find connection with Jesus in all the humdrum and crises and joyous moments....

A wedding dress tells her story...

When I was married, I wore my mother's wedding dress. I wonder, sometimes, if my daughter will wear it; or how many other brides wore THEIR mother's dresses. I wonder where the dresses which hang in charity shops have come from and what their stories are. I wonder whether the promise - and promises - of the day were fulfilled in the marriage; I wonder if any of those dresses were never worn;  I wonder who will buy them and what will happen to them then. I wonder.
So I was intrigued to see a book entitled The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck. When the central character, Charlotte, finds a wedding dress a hundred years old in a trunk she buys at auction, she doesn’t know that her life is about to change. Owner of a bridal boutique, she herself is engaged to be married after a whirlwind courtship. Discovering the dress makes her resolve to search for the bride – or brides – who had worn the dress, while also wondering who would be the next wearer.
The story weaves skilfully between Charlotte’s life and that of the previous owners’.  Rachel Hauck draws the reader into discovering Charlotte’s character and background while introducing us into very different lives.  The story is gently romantic, yet the heroines are real women struggling with issues which many today would identify with. Joy and sadness, life and death, are depicted in the way they impact on the characters’ lives and personalities.
Switching between the different eras was no problem, but towards the end of the book I found myself becoming slightly confused by the number of characters – I almost needed a family tree – before all the threads were drawn together by the end, where everything was explained neatly.
The Wedding Dress is a light-hearted read with a satisfying ending; a romance with an element of mystery.  It is most definitely a Christian book, yet manages to avoid becoming sanctimonious or ‘picture perfect’.  The author treats faith with a light, yet sensible touch: we see how Charlotte’s  faith affects her without feeling ‘preached’ at. I got this book through Booksneeze to review: having read quite a few Christian romances, this is by far the best-written and I look forward to reading more by this author. A good find.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Advent thoughts - HOPE

This first week of the Good Morning Girls Advent study is full of HOPE. Stories of people looking to the future, living in hope and expectation, living by faith.

Yet Mary SEES: Luke 1:26 – 38 is the story of how Mary conceives.
“And Mary said,
Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me just as you say.”

Would I?

The Word is LIGHT; LIGHT TO LIVE BY: John 1-1-4
“The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word.
The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.”

Yet some were BLINDED: John 1:9 – 12 "but his own did not receive him" caught my eye - having conversations with people who just don't 'get' Jesus. They are HIS but do not RECEIVE him - The Message "He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him". Praying that this Advent will be different!

Amazing to think that Jesus can be our ETERNAL LIGHT. I woke up at 1am a couple of nights ago and was astonished to see the garden looking so clear in the moonlight - such a contrast to the pitchblack darkness we often see. Imagine being able to see clearly all the time, with no darkness at all: a faint image of what it is like with Jesus, both now in our lives and then when he returns. Praying we will see things that happen clearly in HIS light, not stumbling around in the darkness by ourselves.
Isaiah 60:18-20 says: “God will be your eternal light, your God will bathe you in splendour. Your sun will never go down, your moon will never fade. I will be your eternal light. Your days of grieving are over.”

Jeremiah HOPES (33:14 - 15 “The time is coming...” true for the here and now, the before and then, the soon and later... for the God Who Is, The God Who Was, and The God About to Arrive...

Romans 15: 12-13 in the Message ' And Isaiah's word*: there's the root of our ancestor Jesse, breaking through the earth and growing tree tall, tall enough for everyone everywhere to see and take hope! Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with HOPE!' (*Isaiah 11:10)

The readings for the four weeks are here. The study guide that goes with it finishes the first week with:
Hope came into our world!
that God can still use this broken life and make something beautiful.
that we don't have to be perfect to be loved by Him.
that the best is yet to come.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Colossians 3

The Message begins this chapter with a heading: He Is Your Life.

I'm reminded of Jairus, leader of the synagogue, as portrayed in The Miracle Maker. He is shown as wrestling with whether he should ask Jesus, this new, radical rabbi, to pray for his dying daughter, in the face of opposition from the Jewish leaders.

Jairus only desires to serve God and be obedient to him, saying in frustration: "GOD is my life."
Don't you want GOD to BE YOUR life? Nothing else?

Colossians 3 says, in a nutshell (my misshapen paraphrase, more nutty perhaps than is sensible...):

So be serious about living the Christ life, the Christ-ian life. Focus on Jesus, on heaven - not on earth. Because your old life is dead and gone, your NEW life, your REAL life, is with Jesus. Being famous or important isn't what it's all about.

What's important is not to give in to our unpleasant side: the selfishness, loose, self-indulgent living, problems of anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language caused by our tongues. We did that before we knew better: now we do.

Nor should we lie to one another: we've finished with all that. instead, we should imagine that we are dressed in all kinds of good characteristics: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline, forgiveness and, best of all, love.

We should focus on the peace which Jesus gives, thankfully, to keep us all together and keep on encouraging one another in the right way to live. Wives should be understanding and supportive of their husbands, who in their turn will be completely loving towards their wives.  Children should respect and obey their parents who will be wise in their dealings with them. And anyone in any kind of inferior position should just do their best: just as if they were working for Jesus.

My summing up sentence: I'm living for God now, not for myself. God IS my life.

Amen to that.

Reflecting on Colossians after our study with Good Morning Girls.  

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Colossians 2

We've come to an end of the Good Morning Girls study on Colossians, and now it is a week of review, a chapter a day.
So useful to get an overview.
Years ago, I was taught how to summarise at a Bible Study Fellowship seminar. (Aside: how I loved those studies! So deep, so informative, so life-changing - deeply regret leaving my notes, which weighed kilos, in Kenya when we left.) I don't remember exactly now, but I think it was a case of summarising a sentence, then another, then summarising a group of sentences, then summarising a group of a group...until the whole chapter had been squished together into a sentence or even a word.

Thought I might have a try with Colossians 2.

I began with a poem on verses 2 - 5:
your heart be encouraged
knit together in love (with like-minded others)
to reach the richness
of full understanding
and knowledge that you really do 'get' God's secret:
Jesus' gift to us all.
Jesus has all the wisdom and knowledge we could ever want -
the ultimate treasure.
What else would we need?
Don't listen to plausible arguments -
it is JESUS who matters.
Nothing else.

Here goes, a rather loose interpretation for the whole chapter:

Paul says that his aim is to encourage the Colossians so that they may be a united, loving church which understands how to live the Christ life. 
Jesus has everything we need to live, truly live. Yet we have to be careful how we do that, by keeping focused on him, always with hearts full of gratitude for what he has done. We should be on our guard against anything which is not based on him: because he IS God. He has supreme power.

We are new people because we have accepted him: we have new lives now, as if we had been brought back to life from the dead.  We have been forgiven by an amazing God who brought his son back from physical death and, in doing so, defeated everything which works against him.  (We call that evil.)

So we shouldn't let anyone try to put us down because of what we do, trying to make themselves more important by doing so or showing off about their spiritual experiences. We need to recognise that they are no longer grounded with other believers and may themselves have drifted away.

We don't need to restrict ourselves to human 'dos and don'ts'.  They look right, but they just address the externals, things which men and women have put into place.  Restrictions that are put on us by others don't have value in helping us achieve self-discipline in Jesus.


I'm not sure this is all quite accurate - still, it was fun trying!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Love - the feeling

Love - thefeeling - washes over me suddenly
taking my face by surprise
as eyes crinkle, mouth smiles,
cheeks crease
with present appreciation
and remembered laughter.
Love - thefeeling - grows warm gratitude deep within,
within my heart-and-stomach.
Love-and-gratitude for sonsanddaughters,
who live Christlives
in everyday-daily-service.
Rejoice, mysoul, rejoice, rejoice.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Lord of ALL the earth...Colossians 1:15-16

Colossians 1:15-16
The Message: We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. Reminds me of Phil Wickham's song: 
At Your name, the mountains shake and crumble
At Your name, the oceans roar and tumble
At Your name, angels will bow, the earth will rejoice
Your people cry out

Lord of all the earth
We shout Your name, shout Your name
Filling up the skies
With endless praise, endless praise
Yahweh, Yahweh
We love to shout Your name, oh Lord

At Your name, the morning breaks in glory
At Your name, creation sings Your story
At Your name, angels will bow, the earth will rejoice
Your people cry out

Lord of all the earth
We shout Your name, shout Your name
Filling up the skies
With endless praise, endless praise
Yahweh, Yahweh
We love to shout Your name, oh Lord

There is no one like our God
We will praise You, praise You
There is no one like our God
We will sing, we will sing..

Monday, 24 September 2012

To the holy and faithful...Colossians 1:1 - 14

To the holy and faithful
be grace and peace.
For the holy and faithful
we thank God.
In the holy and faithful
faith and love spring from hope.

Hope in Heaven, waiting.
Hope on earth, already heard in the word of truth.

To the holy and faithful
good news has come.
From the holy and faithful
the good news is growing.
In the holy and faithful
the good news produces good,

God's good gift
of grace understood.

And so...

we do not stop praying for you.
we keep asking God to fill you
with knowledge of His will
through spiritual wisdom
through godly understanding.

So that...

you and I may live worthy lives
you and I may live Jesus-pleasing lives.
you and I may give Him pleasure.
you and I may produce good results in everything we do.
you and I may grow in knowledge.
you and I may be strengthened with power, GOD's mighty power.
you and I may have endurance
you and I may have patience
you and I may give THANKS WITH JOY.


Thursday, 30 August 2012

God will make a way

Remember the song by Don Moen: God will make a way... ? The lyrics go like this:
God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me

He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way

Do I believe it? It doesn't feel like it when I'm at the end of my rope, the end of the road, staring down a dark blind alley...I know I am still on the road - I haven't wandered off into the bushes. I can look behind and see how far I have come. That is encouraging and affirming.
Yet when I try to gaze forward into the murk, my heart cries and wails like a baby that it can't SEE. My brain starts to shout like a toddler: I WANT I WANT I WANT! I WANT to know what's going to happen. I WANT to know that things will turn out well.
My DEMANDS blind me to God's purposes.
Then they blind me to God himself.
I am in grave danger. Danger of losing belief in a good God and good, great purposes.
I stand on the edge of Unbelief. Then my eyes open and I see the danger, and I am terrified.
I can't see the good that is coming but I have a horrendously clear view of the bad.
I squeeze my eyes shut. I turn to the Bible. I listen to the Spirit. I cry out to Jesus.

Deidra, blogging over at The Middle, has great insights about delays. About how setbacks are set ups for something better when it seems that life has stopped. As she says: 'That thing that’s become stale, that place with no forward movement, that dream you’ve let die because it didn’t look like anything was happening—those are the places He’s working on. He’s stopped traffic now to create safer, easier, better travel later. Don’t get all worked up and overheated. Don’t assume that because you’re still now you won’t be moving later. He is always working on our behalf—in ways we can’t see, in places we don’t understand. He hasn’t forgotten you; He knows right where you are. He has gone before you to prepare the way.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)'
  So I HAVE to believe because I cannot see. I have to have that 'teetering on the edge, heart in mouth' feeling to really believe.

I need to feel like that. I need belief, not sight. I need faith. In God's ways, not mine.

At the moment I'm in one of those places where it seems as if I'm not moving at all because the way in front is dark. It's not physically life-threatening, like cancer. It's not emotionally devastating, like a relationship break-up.
It is spiritually debilitating. I am in a dry place where there are no flowing streams or gushing springs, not even a trickle of run-off between rocks. Just a couple of muddy puddles and marshy places where the air  is stagnant. A place where I am trying to dig a well, building into lives which have not tasted living water.
It seems as if there is no one to give me a drink as I labour, growing increasingly thirsty.

Don Moen's song continues:
By a roadway in the wilderness, He'll lead me
And rivers in the desert will I see
Heaven and Earth will fade but His Word will still remain
And He will do something new today

So as I believe in Him, in His goodness, in His promises, as I trustingly put my hand in His to lead me forward, HE will lead me along the road and HE will open my eyes to the water flowing in others' lives. It is not my labour that will refresh them, it is not for me to feel the burden of well-digging or to exhaust myself in doing.

I need to remember that I am not Mrs Fix-It-All but Miss Obedient-to-God.

What does the end of your road look like? Can you take that step into the darkness? Can I?

 This is the link to Bonnie's inspirational post on this topic.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Hazardous discipleship. Risky obedience.

I don't consider myself as living dangerously. A comfortable Western life style, where the only danger in my life is whether my bicycle might come into contact with a car during the few miles of my daily (slow) commute.

So I didn't consider that even my faith might be hazardous until I read Lisa's link up post in response to Ed's new book.

Leaving her church was hazardous. Wow! Me too!

I didn't, perhaps foolishly, consider the hazards and dangers when my husband and I responded to a call to leave our (very comfortable) church home to go to help out at a tiny, traditional, Anglican church.

I am shocked to discover that it has already been three years since we did so. Even though two years ago I blogged about our struggles there, and last year had even more encouragement, this 'new' church life still seems hazardous...

I know that 'going' to church is to meet together with others to praise and worship God, and to encourage each other, as it says in Hebrews 10:25 Yet I find that, even setting my mind and heart to worship God, the music does not encourage me to do so. I can't sing very well, so struggling to sing ancient hymns with a handful of people who hear every wrong note is an ordeal. After the service ends, the majority of the congregation escape quickly from the (thousand year old) building. A few stay for coffee, and they are the 'church' we are trying to build into.

It doesn't feel particularly risky - not in an adrenaline-fuelled fear type of way. The danger is more insidious.

I risk losing my joy in worship, so much so that now, though initially I listened to modern worship songs at home, I struggle to regain my joy.

I risk losing my joy in fellowship. Interactions with others at church - many of whom seem to be more interested in the church fabric and infrastructure than in living lives as disciples of Christ - can be draining.

I'm teetering on the brink.

So this idea of 'hazardous faith' has had the effect of alarming me, opening my eyes to the dangers. I hover on the edge, gazing into a pit of Apathy and Discouragement.

Adrenaline kicks in. I open my eyes, ears and heart to worship. I look at nature, I listen to worship music, I read the Bible more, I follow Christian blogs. I gain joy from good, God-centred conversations over coffee - at church and at other times too.

So I echo the Psalmist:
But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The Lord is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Lord, do not delay.

Living the Life. Hazardously.

I shared My Hazardous Faith Story as part of a synchroblog connected with the release of Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper’s new bookHazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus.
Read others' insight into costly discipleship at In a Mirror Dimly here.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

A letter...

Dear God,
I'm trying this - writing a letter to you - because Bonnie has asked me to.  Her blog always inspires and challenges me, so I try to respond when I can.
This letter feels as if it should be a book.
It's simply this:
How do I live the life you want?
I've just re-read Ian Morgan Cron's Chasing Francis, about St Francis of Assisi.  I've been reminded of the necessity and benefits of living a simple life. Frugality, simplicity, generosity, humility, grace, freedom...
And I look at my life.
I look.
I see attempts to live simply.
I see an endeavour to be generous.
I see a gaining, sometimes, in humility.
I see a small devotion to things of you: to encouragement from others, mainly through writings; to worship music; to calls to prayer.
Most of these things exist outside of my 'church' life.
My church to which I am called meets in an ancient building once a week. It sits mostly in silence apart from prescribed responses. Words of hymns, sometimes choruses, substitute for worship.  A small part of my church meets with me after the ritualistic liturgy is completed, even, at times, over a cup of coffee.
I love the people of my church. I crave to live with them in a way which would honour you.
Yet our church life is confined to an hour on a Sunday, if that.
I long to live in and with my church, so that my world life is not separate. I long to 'be' church to others.
But how?
Answers on a postcard, please.
Love from Angie

PS Two answers come to mind:

1.  Hebrews 12:2 'Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.'
2. The prayer of St Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Probably enough.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Clearing out the junk...

Loved this post from cantcookalick - about clearing out junk: "I’m a stuffer. I don’t deal with things at the moment. I find a way to laugh when I want to cry and stuff the problem way down deep. I will deal with it later. Why waste an opportunity to laugh? So, down to the basement it goes. Until someone finds the way through the door and stands in the middle of my junk and says, “Why do you keep all this stuff?”
That happened recently.
Scared me to death. Honestly, I didn’t even know half of that junk was down there.  I braved the walk down the stairs and took a look around. What I found was not pretty. Old emotions that were yellowed and worn. Hurt that was quietly growing in the corner. A past that no longer fit the woman I am trying to be. Space that was created for more. Cluttered by the less than life.
Everything in me wanted to run away, back to the safety and laughter of today and slam the door, lock it tight. But, that’s the problem. Stuff in the basement is not out of sight out of mind. It is always looming like a tenant that shows up just when you want to be alone. The noise that interrupts your quiet. The darkness that threatens your light.
Sometimes, it takes somebody surprising you and showing up in your basement, to realize you need to tidy up a bit. The trust issues that block the door lose the fight and your junk makes it’s way to the top floor.
Some people will judge your junk. Others will pilfer through it and try to find something they can use. Most will run away and be frightened by your junk. A few may even try to bring over some of their junk.
But, God loves me and all my junk. Especially that which I’ve tried to hide in a blue Rubbermaid tote in the corner. He’s not afraid to lift the lid. Honestly, he already knows what’s in there. And, He’s willing to help me and you sort through and decide what goes and what stays.
But, you gotta open the door…"

So we're talking about REAL junk. Hurt growing in hidden corners. Boxes labelled Unforgiveness. Piles of  perfectionism. Anger gathering dust in the corners. The mouldy smell of bitterness...

A talk in church this morning centred on how many of the Pharisees and even the disciples didn't 'get' Jesus. They just didn't understand where He was coming from, what he was talking about, let alone his mission to bring the kingdom of God to his people...

I'm no different. I often don't 'get' Jesus. I don't 'get' how to walk the walk, how to live the way he showed and taught me.  But I do know that my junk clutters up any little glimmer of heart-understanding I might have. And I do know that not only do I need to clear the junk out, I need to beef up my housekeeping with regular cleaning...

Saturday, 11 August 2012

The Small Things That Keep Me Close...

Sarah Markley has just written another wonderful little bit of inspiration. Pay attention to the words she puts in bold, and especially this latter part of her post:

"When I don’t feel like reading the Bible and I go months and months without cracking its pages, I seem to fall back to prayer and meditation like they are old friends. The idea of studying a child’s laughter or why a bird builds a nest near my dining room window comes easier to me because I’ve done it before and God has spoken to me through these things. I’ve practiced it with my own hands. The years when sermons seem dry and Bible studies bore are the years I find myself picking out a single verse and meditating on it over a kitchen sink full of dishes, my arms half deep in the soap. And to be alone, to be silent in communion with God is ever preferable to me over many other things.
I’m not at all against church. I love church and I love my church very much.
But at the end of it all, it won’t matter what church we’ve gone to or how many women’s Bible studies we’ve attended.
It will matter, I believe, how we let Him infuse our days with Himself and how we allow ourselves to be taught by the little, beautiful things in life. And I think it will matter, at the end, how we choose to live with Jesus every day.
What are the small things that keep you close to or bring you back to Jesus? How have you seen God in daily life lately?"
Encouragement to keep close...

Monday, 6 August 2012

A confession...

I began to blog partly out of a need to reference inspirational articles. I needed somewhere to store them where I could retrieve them when I needed to. Often, I think I'd be best off just 're-publishing' - rather like 'retweeting' - every inspirational blog I read. Don't really need to blog myself when there is such wonderful stuff out there.
Today was one such day. A hiccupy, teary, 'whoops' day which reminded me of the need to receive encouragement, to store it on my blog as well as on my heart - because I forget too easily. A day when I needed to read this.
Several months of stress - husband ill, a  busy school year, adult children flown the nest, unkindness from a friend resulting in the loss of friendship (her choice, not mine), and struggling to serve out of my comfort zone in a small traditional church - have left me tired and surprisingly lonely. I have much to be thankful for and to take joy in - my husband's health is now under control and he is back at work, and I am enjoying the summer break from school, to mention just a couple of lesseners of stress - but I have found social interaction hard work. I've felt alone, even worthless, and my joy seems to have disappeared. For today, anyway.
So Ayla's words of encouragement were very timely. A good reminder that I cannot - must not - depend on circumstances or others for my joy.
I pray that I learn the lesson PROPERLY in my heart.
Then there was double whoops, as I was reminded to 'look to Christ and remember just how precious I am in His eyes' over at Messy Marriage...
Hmmm... lessons to learn indeed.
(I'm thinking I may still be needing to add to this post...)

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Train up a child in the way he should go...a challenge for us all.

I had had this on my mind for a long time, when my study with GoodMorningGirls on the Proverbs 31 woman took me to this verse this week: Proverbs 22:6 "Point your kids in the right direction - when they're old they won't be lost. " (The Message). Indeed.

Please don’t look at the title and think ‘This won’t apply to me, I don’t have children.’  Yes, it does. Children are our future and we can all help them grow into the people God means them to become.

I was saddened recently when, at a wonderful local church conference, there were very few children. The event was held over a whole weekend and had carefully planned, age appropriate activities. The leaders were hugely creative and energetic: the children who joined in had a wonderful time. While the Sunday morning was well attended, the Saturday was not. Even a church known for its thriving children’s ministry had only a few children attend. I wondered why.

We are fortunate to live in a place where there are wonderful opportunities for people of every age. Thriving sports clubs; an active Music Centre where talents are developed; and a huge variety of other activities, from cooking to candlemaking, are all on offer. Weekends are VERY busy. Church is fitted in on Sundays around football practice and outings with the family. There is little – or no – time for anything extra.

Yet...where do priorities lie? Do we seek to teach our children how to put God first, when we choose a rugby match over worship, swimming club over walking on water, pantomimes over prayer?  I’m not suggesting that children should not develop their talent for sport, or music, or art and craft, but I do think we need to keep alert for opportunities where our children have the chance to meet with God.

As a teacher, I know how thirsty children are to experience God. A few months ago we hosted a Prayerspace in school. Over the two day period, the children crowded in at lunchtime, forgoing the chance to play football or run around outside. They pored over the prayers put up on sticky notes, chatted about how special they were in God’s eyes and sat thoughtfully in the ‘quiet tent’. A couple of weeks later, when I referred to the Prayerspace in assembly, there was the most incredible sigh of eager expectation from the whole school – a truly holy moment which I have never, in all my years of teaching, experienced.
Children long to know and have an encounter with God.

Now, before I go any further, I am well aware that, whatever we do or don’t do, ultimately a child’s decision whether or not to follow Jesus is entirely their choice. We cannot force, cajole or manipulate them to do so – temporarily, possibly, but not in any lasting way. There are many prodigal children of godly parents and we pray for their return. Nothing we can do will make them love God any more and nothing we can do will make them love God any less.

We can, however, encourage them. To paraphrase Romans 10:1, 13 – 14 (NIV):
‘ heart’s desire and prayer to God for children is that they may be saved... for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?’ And, may I add, how can the children be told about Jesus unless they are brought to places where his life is demonstrated and taught? (Emphasis mine)

Many churches have good children’s programmes running on Sunday mornings, with classes for all ages up to the teens. Often, all may be well until the age of 11. Then children may start to complain, dragging their heels so that it becomes harder for parents to take them. Eventually, as they enter their teens, children refuse to attend church. The primary school age is of tremendous importance, the best chance to “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, NIV.)  Attending church every Sunday is a brilliant place to start, but we need to take every opportunity to encourage our children in the development of their faith.

Here are a few practical suggestions:

Put them in places where they can hear the Word  and experience the Holy Spirit. This is, obviously, Sunday school or children’s church on a Sunday morning.
Vacation Bible school – holiday clubs at half terms and during the holidays are wonderful opportunities. Many churches organise these, either themselves or booking a visiting team. If your church doesn’t have anything like this but other churches in the area do, take your children along. Or perhaps get a team of like-minded folk and organise one yourself – even two or three days long. There are numerous resources available to help you.

Age doesn’t matter: children are never too young to experience God. We need only to look at how John the Baptist ‘leapt in his mother’s womb’ when he recognized Jesus, or to Samuel when he heard God calling him in the night. I was privileged to serve on the team for 3 – 4 year olds at one of the New Wine summer conferences: we were soon reminded that God’s spirit is not confined to age, as these tiny children prayed for each other and their leaders, as a consequence of which we saw physical healing take place. Not only that: I was moved to tears as one mother related how the life of her three year old, as a result of attending the sessions for just one and a half hours a day for just five days, had completely turned around. This is not normal: this would not have happened in a day nursery: this is the Holy Spirit.

Encourage children by your example: Let them hear ‘God talk’ around meal times – don’t hide your faith from them but don’t be super spiritual either. Let them hear your prayers;  see you make your home group a priority above your own convenience; welcome friends and strangers into your home, hosting gatherings whenever you can. Inviting a missionary to a meal can have a powerful impact on your children as they listen to the discussion of the missionary’s work and calling.

Model to your children how much you value learning more about God. Apart from letting them see you study your Bible and pray, show your appreciation for their Sunday school teachers with an occasional gift, or discussing their teachers’ good qualities and hard work  over dinner.
Listen to the children when they talk to you and encourage them to ask you questions. Discussion helps develop their interest and understanding in a way that talks and sermons, however good they might be, cannot do.

Take them out of their comfort zone. Nowadays, children can sometimes be over-protected. We are so aware of health and safety in all aspects, particularly ‘stranger danger’, both physically and online, that we are careful to shield our children from anything which might be at all risky for them.
Yet we as adults know that faith is often spelt R.I.S.K. We need to make sure that our children are gently challenged to grow into faith and we can do this by taking them out of their comfort zones, with our loving support. Taking my children to a huge Christian conference was challenging for all of us, not just my children: it was the first time we had experienced worshipping with thousands of others. But it was also the first time that my daughter had a powerful experience with the Holy Spirit – before, even, than I myself. It was an experience which has stayed with her many years later.

Persevere with independence. If there is a child-friendly Christian event such as a conference or holiday club, but you don’t know anyone else attending: take your child anyway. Children may be a little nervous if they don’t know anyone to go with, but in my experience children’s leaders are so welcoming that children rapidly settle in and are more enthusiastic about returning the next day than adults would be. Don’t let them miss out because of initial nervousness.

Choose to act sacrificially.
Putting your child in a place where he or she has the opportunity to come closer to God comes at a cost: time, convenience, money – even status. For example, many parents sacrifice their holiday time to take their children to a Christian conference. This doesn’t quite have the same cachet as a week in Biarritz! Your colleagues or neighbours may think this very strange.
Challenge your children. A  dear friend related how Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators (renowned for its discipleship ministry and emphasis on memorizing Scripture) was visiting her parents. He asked her which Bible verses she knew – not many! She explained that she had a poor memory and couldn’t learn Bible verses. He then started chatting to her about the latest top music hits. She replied enthusiastically, reciting several of the lyrics. When Dawson Trotman gently showed her that she knew the lyrics well simply because she had listened to them over and over again, she realized that she could apply the same principle to learning the Bible and so developed a lifelong habit of memorization.

Encourage godly friendships. Invite other families over: for coffee, to lunch after church, planned or potluck. Make arrangements to do things with other families – pick things the children will enjoy!

Finally, for parents: be careful about the choices you give your children.
There have been several times when I did not allow my children to ‘opt out’ and God blessed them in an amazing way. Another friend, when her children started to complain about having to go to church on a Sunday, took them to a church with a less child-friendly program. Within a couple of weeks they started begging to go back to ‘their’ church and never looked back in their spiritual development. We need to listen to our children while not necessarily giving them whatever they want – we know the truth of this regarding diet, sleep and exercise and this applies to spiritual growth as well.  As adults, protecting  our children can mean saying ‘no’ at times. Choose their activities carefully, as far as you can. Make quite sure that you really do want your child to be a rugby star if  a commitment to Sunday morning practices means that they will not be able to go to church. You may have the chance to attend church on a Sunday evening but, in my experience, evening services rarely cater for the under 11s.

What about older children and teens?
All is not lost! Volunteer to help and get them to come along with you. Although they won’t often admit it, teenagers love to hang around adults when they can listen to interesting conversations. They go through a ‘wallpaper’ phase – as silent as the walls but all eyes and ears. They soak up God talk without knowing it.

I feel passionately about our children’s spiritual development. My own children are now adults:  this has not diluted my eagerness that we should take every opportunity to encourage the children we know. Parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, neighbours... one of my friends became a Christian because a neighbour first took her to church when she was two.  We should not forget that children are adults in the making: that our prayer for them should be that “ our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage their hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.”  (2 Thessalonians 2:16 – 17)
Let us remember that, unlike physical growth, our children’s spiritual growth doesn’t happen automatically – God has no grandchildren. We know this deep down but culture tries to tell us otherwise, with its individualistic emphasis on choice and freedom. Let’s take every chance we can to help our children make WISE choices so that they can find true freedom – in Jesus.

So I should finish by pointing you to much wiser sources of help and information in this parenting adventure: here is a link to Women Living Well - a list of recommended reading and a blogging gateway of endless tips and encouragement!

Also linking up with: 

Life In Bloom

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


Can you describe a time when you were waiting for something to happen or someone to visit?  How did you feel?

Today we’re thinking about waiting on the Lord.  Christian-speak, even jargon, often heard.  Waiting for...what?
Something to happen. Something to change a situation, a person.
How often do we ‘wait on the Lord’ to hear Him SPEAK to us?

What should we wait FOR?

The right gift. Acts 1:4 - 5, NIV  On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command:“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

The right person. A Messiah to save us.  John 4:25-27  The Message
 25The woman said, "I don't know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we'll get the whole story."
 26"I am he," said Jesus. "You don't have to wait any longer or look any further."
We don’t need to look anywhere else when we are in trouble. Not to family, or friends, or man-made solutions. Just Jesus. And we have the gift of the person of the Holy Spirit, so...first response: prayer!

The right time. John 7 (NIV)
Jesus Goes to the Festival of Tabernacles
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want[a] to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do.No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil.You go to the festival. I am not[b] going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.”After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.
10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?”
12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.”
Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.
Jesus Teaches at the Festival
14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”
16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”

The right response:
Can you think of a time when you waited impatiently but realised afterwards that the timing, when it actually happened, was perfect? What about when a delay doesn’t seem good, even in retrospect? How do we reconcile that? Can you think of changes – perhaps in the situation, maybe even in yourself, in your attitude – which were good in spite of the delay?
James 5:7-8 The Message Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master's Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.

What does ‘waiting on the Lord’ look like? How do we do it?

As I was preparing this, an email from Ed, a Christian writer whose blog I follow, dropped into my inbox with an attention-grabbing ‘ping’.
Do you ever find yourself hoping for an email or a text from a friend or family member? You wait and wait, but nothing happens?  Perhaps you have asked a question, or, after a long message, are hoping for a response, an acknowledgement even, something which communicates that the other person has been glad to hear from you?  I’d like God to ‘ping’ me an email or a text, a quick response to a request or an out of the blue message which connects my emotions to him.
If I’m not waiting at the computer, or near my phone, I won’t hear that alluring ‘ping’.
What does that look like in my life with God?
“I lug a copy of the Divine Hours around the house all day in an attempt to remember to pray a few times throughout the day.
I jot down notes during the sermon.
I sing the same slow song each week at church as a confession of my sins.
I crunch on a juice-stained wafer for communion.
I read a bit of the Bible each morning while eating breakfast.
This is not exciting stuff by any measure. I often have to force myself to open my prayer book in the middle of a busy day or to put aside an amusing book at bed time in order to focus on the Compline. Watching a hockey game, even a Bluejackets game, strikes me as a bit more exciting than prayer or sitting around at church.....
I need to do these “boring” things because they reorient me. Oftentimes I don’t even perceive the ways I’ve been drifting away from God and from others before it’s too late. Lots of times sin works like that: we drift away little by little until temptation pounces on us when we’re far away from God and our defenses are down.
There is something effective and necessary about the daily gentle prods of prayer, scripture reading, and worshipping in community. They aren’t magical remedies for sinful ailments, but they can provide the timely pushes, the sustaining words, and the stories we need to stay on track, to draw near to Jesus, and to stay there.”
So ‘waiting on God’ means drawing near to him with conscious choices to pray, to read, to listen to others speak His truth...
Galatians 5:4-5 The Message When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit.
This is why we would do all these things – to deepen our relationship with God through the Holy Spirit.

Above all, we wait with eagerness and expectation, LOOKING FORWARD to what is coming.
Romans 5:3-6 There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
 6-8Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway.

Romans 8:18-25  The Message
 18-21That's why I don't think there's any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what's coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.
 22-25All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

So waiting is for now, and for the life to come. This is the verse which most helps me wait:
Hebrews 12:2  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

In The Message: Discipline in a Long-Distance Race
 1-3Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
I’m there, way back from the starting line of the Marathon, walking slowly forwards. Right at the back, but I’ll get there.  

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


Yes, happily married for nearly 28 years...why on earth would I be posting on courtship?
Just  because I have read a couple of good posts from stayathomedaughter - also now about to be happily married - and, as I can't pin them, I need to save them here for future reference. Someone might ask me for advice one day - you never know.
Okay? So...
5 stages of courtship...
Our courtship story...meeting Mr Right - and the fiance's version, too - both a bit 'over the top' but good, cautious advice for those who don't get  bowled over by instant revelation.
Worth a read, a think, and a pick-out-what-is-useful.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Thoughts on strength...and Proverbs 31

In our study of the Proverbs 31 good woman with Good Morning Girls, we were reminded that:  the joy of the Lord is our strength; that we should do whatever our hands find to do with all our might; and that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

We are to be strong physically, mentally and emotionally, and spiritually.

Yes but how?

We need to remember that strength comes from God: it sounds obvious, but how often do we remember this?  I know I don’t – usually muddle along a best I can without particularly relying on God. In the day to day, I become complacent.
If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 4:11

Colossians 1:11 says that we are ... strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that (we) may have great endurance and patience...and  Philippians 4:13 that  we  can do everything through him who gives (us) strength.

Some key verses to keep us going and give us strength: TRUST


Psalm 20:6-8  Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed)
    he answers him from his holy heaven
    with the saving power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

They are brought to their knees and fall,
    but we rise up and stand firm.


Isaiah 12:2 says: Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD.

 In the great list of heroes, the writer of Hebrews talks of how God gave the prophets strength (Chapter 11 v 34) and Paul (2 Corinthians 12:9) said:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

GO IN THE STRENGTH YOU HAVE  – as Gideon did. Things were bad, and Gideon questioned God as to why they were, but God didn’t explain – just told him how things were going to get better.
But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders(A) that our fathers told(B) us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned(C) us and put us into the hand of Midian.”
14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have(D) and save(E) Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”   Judges 6:13-15


We do not necessarily associate the strength of God with joy, yet David, in his great psalm of thanks after bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem says:
Splendour and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place. 1 Chronicles 16:27

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Zephaniah 3:17

The Lord your God is with you,
    he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
    he will quiet you with his love,
    he will rejoice over you with singing.”

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully

To finish, let us echo the words of David in his Psalm of thanks:
Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.
Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced.
...Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength, ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name...Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16,
vv 11 – 12, 28 – 29

GoodMorningGirls suggests: follow Phil 4.8 … and think upon things that are good, right, noble …. even in the midst of pain and hardship. We need to flee to the basics of the Christian faith, and set our minds on “the things above,” on Christ himself. God is always good, he is always kind, he is never cruel, he has a perfect plan, he is with us always.