Monday, 25 June 2012

Pray for a healthy body...

So for the last few weeks we’ve looked at why we need to manage our physical lives and our bodies – so now we’re moving onto Elizabeth George’s top ten tips for doing just that! I’m going to take one each day so I hope it will be helpful!!

I love this! As I go through this journey with you one major point that I am learning is how important prayer is in every part of my life. And my physical life is no exception. In all things I must start with prayer.
I know that I can’t do anything without Him, and although I have given my battle with food over to God, I don’t think I’ve ever prayed for my body in the way Elizabeth suggests. It has always seemed strange to me to pray about something so trivial when most people seem to be praying for things like world peace, the persecuted church and real problems in their worlds. But then I read this chapter!
She challenges us to pray about everything…
·         Am I trying to lose weight? Pray that I’ll overcome the temptation of food…

·         Am I trying to start exercising? Pray that I’ll be able to get up and do it when the time comes…

·         Am I trying to make better food choices? Pray every time I go to eat something, that I will think about what I eat and glorify God with my choices…

·         Am I trying to break a bad habit? Pray every time the temptation hits or pray that God will help me to find ways to avoid it – like going to bed earlier to avoid the munchies late at night!

·         Am I battling a disease? Pray for God’s strength in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) and then pray for the right people to treat me, for the right people to comfort me and for healing – whether it be in this world or the next.

God really is interested in every part of my day and He is never too busy to listen to us – even if it’s something trivial – He is always there just waiting for us to come to Him… with everything. How amazing is that?!! Our God, Creator of the universe, actually wants me to bring Him all my puny problems, even my silly decisions, like whether lunch is a doughnut or a salad… and give them all over to Him!

On a practical level we also have to see the benefits of bringing this to God and of focusing on our physical lives as well as our spiritual ones. 3 John 2 says this

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that
you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.

Are our physical lives as strong as our spiritual lives? Do we put the same emphasis on it or do we put more time and effort into being spiritual? I have come to realise that unless I have the physical energy and put the time and effort into keeping myself healthy and fit, I can’t do all that I am made to do – from being a mum and a wife,  to serving God with all that I can be. So I pray that I will get my body to be as healthy as my spiritual life so that I can truly glorify God.

And as you travel this journey with me, I pray the same for you. What ways have you prayed for your body today?

Keep shining… J

Saturday, 23 June 2012

The bedroom...

Here Christ speaks to the single reader about premarital sex and about relationships with the opposite sex. If you are unmarried, are you keeping yourself “holy in body and spirit” (1 Corinthians 7:34)? And if you are married, are you careful in your purity with other men and your faithfulness to your mate? (Elizabeth George)

I have to admit to being a little scared to write about this. It is such a big topic that I wasn’t (and am still not!!) sure I would add anything of worth or of benefit. But I do have some great resources which I thought I’d sure with you.
The first part of this is directed towards those who aren’t married. In a world that is so focused on getting what I want when I want it and with making myself happy before everything else, sex has become something to be used to gain pleasure in the moment and something that can be given away with no very little thought of tomorrow. I don’t agree with this at all. Someone once told me that every time you have sex with someone you give a little of yourself to them that you can’t ever get back. Is it worth it – for a moment’s pleasure? I really want to encourage you to really think about this in light of eternity. God designed sex for the context of marriage – to be a beautiful thing that enhances your relationship in a way that nothing else can. And for those of you who think that you may ‘have to’ to keep your relationship or boyfriend… here’s a great wee talk from the guy who brought us the You Tube clip ‘Jesus verses religion’.

And an interview with BarlowGirl – a Christian band – about their stance on purity…

The second section is then directed towards those of us who are married. This is something which has been talked about a lot recently – and I think that the more we talk and think about it the better, especially in a world where it is so easy to contact others through facebook, twitter and all the other technology out there. Recently there has been a focus on facebook and how easily you can trace and re-connect with people from your past. In the following article The Unveiled Wife shows how detrimental that can be…
If you go down your facebook friends list – do you have any ex-boyfriends? Or do you have any guys that shouldn’t be there? I have quite a few guys on mine, mainly because my husband isn’t on facebook, and so they all add me to contact him! But he also can access my facebook account at any stage and I show him all the messages I get – total transparency is key where technology is involved.

We need to make sure we put God first and then our husbands - and be careful of any relationships with men other than them. At home, when we have any groups in our house at all, or if my husband is going to be late home, I always make sure I have my eldest son up, until at least one other girl, or my hubby, come in. That way I am never alone with a guy - the first sign of weakness if thinking 'that would never happen to me' - so the best plan is to always take action so it never does.
There are lots of wonderful blogs on marriage and lots of wonderful You Tube clips, but I thought I'd end with this one...

Keep shining...  J

Friday, 22 June 2012

The rec room

What comprises your recreation and activities? And what do you watch and listen to? Could Christ be a part of your ‘fun’?’ (Elizabeth George)

My first reaction when I read this one was ‘huh?’!  What exactly is she asking and how can I put God into my ‘fun’? Recreation is described as being refreshment by means of some pastime, agreeable exercise or the like’. It is a pastime, a diversion from everyday life and something physical that helps us to relax. So the first question to ask yourself is what do I do for recreation.

For me this is a big question because I’m not a very sporty person and I definitely would struggle to get in the required 60 minutes of exercise if I even tried. I know that this is part of my weight management problem so I am definitely trying to get it sorted! Also being part of a sports ministry means I have tried lots of different things over the years, but nothing that I have managed to love enough to do again!! I played football for a year, played netball for a year and tried various other sporty things like archery, tennis, going to the gym and various aerobic classes. The truth of the matter is I’m a tad lazy… and when you mix that with being extremely unfit it’s not a good look!

But there is one thing which I love to do that inspired me when I thought about this ‘room’. I love to put my iPod on and walk. I could walk for an hour with musical accompaniment and I used to listen to anything and everything until I realised that this was one way I could put God into my ‘fun’. So I took my iPod and rearranged all the music on it. I took off all the secular music and added some more upbeat Christian tunes and also some podcasts of sermons I had wanted to listen to. Now when I stick my headphones on and enter my own little world, God is what I’m focused on and I either sing along to worship music (yes – I do look and sound very strange!!) or I listen to a set of very knowledgeable Bible teachers expound God’s Word.

And I know of friends who when they get on their treadmills or exercise bikes, will put on a Gospel channel or catch up on DVDs of ladies conferences. These are all practical ways in incorporate God into your workout and life. And when God is centre of all that you do you will naturally shine and people WILL notice.

Colossians 3:23 tells us
'Work willingly at whatever you do, as though
you were working for the Lord rather than for people.’

So I have been challenged to get off my bum chair (ahem!) and do my daily walk for God, using my iPod to put God into my ‘fun’. How do you do it? I’d love to hear your practical ideas so please do comment below so you can be an inspiration to the rest of us.

Here’s to all those of you sweating with God today!!
Keep shining… J

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The workroom

‘As the author has Jesus ask, “What are you producing with your life for the kingdom of God?” Toys? Gadgets? Are you whiling away the time God gives you working on hobbies? Or are you steadily going about the business of producing a masterpiece of your life for the glory of God? After all, you are his workmanship!’ (Elizbeth George)

As I was looking at this ‘room’ I was a little worried as to what more I could say. It’s pretty simple to see that we need to make sure that all we do brings glory to God and that we don’t waste the time that He has given us – but it goes deeper than that.

God gives us each day, hour, minute and second of our days as a gift. He graciously gives us the very breath that allows us to live and enjoy each moment of our life. But how does that affect how we go about living each day? Does it affect us at all?

If you were to take a day in your life and actually write down what you do and how you spend the 24 hours you’ve been given – how would it look? This is actually a fantastic exercise to do because it is fascinating to see how much time each day we manage to waste. We can spend excess time in the bathroom, in the kitchen making dinner (or spend half an hour looking in the cupboards to try to find out what you’re going to have for dinner in the first place!), watching TV, or doing all the craft or reading – whatever hobby you enjoy doing.

But God wants us to be accountable for the time that we spend each day. Of course He wants us to prioritise time spent with Him each day, but He also wants to challenge us as to what we spend time on – is it bringing Him glory or is it wasting time?

This is a challenge to me. I’ve already confessed my love of reading, but I also love to do crafts – cross stitching and card-making my favourites – and I can spend hours on them without a single thought. Is that time spent gloryfing God or is it time wasted? I do believe that if God has given you a talent – whether it be in music, crafts or sport – He expects you to use it for His glory. For instance -  if you have a gift of music and decide to only play it in your bedroom and never in church, or if you are a fantastic hockey player but don’t go out to play for a team – is that talent wasted? Is it not better to use your talent for God’s glory – giving Him the opportunity to use you for His purpose and for His good works.

This may be off on a tangent but over the past 10 years I have had the privilege of working with hockey players and other sports women who have used their gifts in an amazing way – enabling God to use them to be His witness in the team in which they play, by their attitudes, language and by direct witnessing to their team-mates. God wants us to use our talents for Him, no matter what that talent is. Don’t hide it – why not use it to let God shine through you.

Gilbert Lennox (from Glenabbey Church)  reminded me in his sermon the other week that God will judge. This can be perceived as a negative teaching. It is becoming less and less popular to see God as judge as the world around us becomes more secular and as people lose the consciousness of the reality of God in their everyday life. But Gilbert encourages you to look at it as a positive thing for those of us who know Christ as Saviour. In 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 (in the NLT) we read this:

‘For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.’

Judgment will be positive – all the bad will be burnt away – all my bad moods, bad attitudes and bad deeds… but the question then remains – will you have anything left to stand? Will you have something that truly glorifies God that you have spent your time on? Or will everything you have spent your life on perish in the fire leaving you with nothing?

We are to be part of something bigger – part of God’s grand plan – using our time to glorify Him and do what He has set out for us. In Ephesians 2:10 we read

‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’

I pray that you all will be challenged by this, but that you will not be discouraged – God is right here waiting for you to decide to put Him first and spend your time glorifying Him rather than wasting it on things that will be burnt away. If you have anything you want to share, whether it’s something you discovered when you charted your time, or how you plan to spend your time this week, then please do leave us a comment.
And above all - keep shining… J

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Study

‘Are there any reading materials in your library that Christ’s eyes are too pure to look upon? Why not replace them with the books of the Bible? Pack your bookshelves full of the Word of God and full of books about the Word of God.’  (Elizabeth George)

This is a good one to start with especially in the light of the posts last week! As I told you before I love to read. I have been challenged several times about my reading materials and I have to admit to having two different reading collections! I was introduced to Mills and Boon in my sixth lower year and that started a love-affair with romance novels. Don’t get me wrong – there are bits in every book that I hate – and I usually skim four or five pages at a go when I get to that section – but I love the story of girl-meets-boy, they fall in love and end up together no matter what.

Unfortunately because of my skim-reading ability and my love of books I can get obsessed with reading one after another – I think my record was reading 100 books in a month. I’m not proud of it and it was before I was married – but it is definitely an issue with me. And as I have already mentioned I am very influenced by what I read. I can read M&B and be fine but read a Christian romance and become unsettled. Or I can read an online story and be fine but read an M&B and think ‘I want that’.

I have found that if I stick to Christian romances that are set around military or detective murders (I do love a good murder – and it doesn’t make me want to go out and kill someone which is great!!) then I don’t get dissatisfied at all. And I have made a commitment to not stick my nose in a book when I can be spending time with my hubby and the boys, or when I have a to-do list that will take me a life time to complete!!

I also love these verses – my husband taught our boys these verses when the eldest was going through a stage of being told various bad words and bad things by a boy in his class. But now they know them and will always have them to reflect on and remember when they need them most.

 ‘Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble,
whatever things are just, whatever things are pure,
whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report,
if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.’

Philippians 4:8

So my challenge to you today is to look honestly about your reading material – both in real book form or on your Kindle or computer – and think about what changes you need to make. I’d love to hear from you so please do feel free to comment below and let us know what changes you need to make, or have made.
Keep Shining...J

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Living Room

‘According to this delightful story, the living room is where we are meant to meet morning by morning for quiet times filled with fellowship with Christ. Are you neglecting to enter this room as often as you should?’  (Elizabeth George)
Oooh… another big one!! And I thought this week of challenges would be easy!! This is such an important part of life. And yet this is an area of life that can fall by the wayside very easily. It’s easy to start the day with the best of intentions of visiting this room and spending some quality time in God’s presence… only to reach the end of the day and find that you’ve missed it completely.

And I think it’s also an area that we find hard to be honest about. IF we talk about our quiet times when we aren’t actually doing them we tend to refer back to the last passage we read or something God taught us last week or last year, rather than be honest and say ‘It’s not going so well right now’.
We need to start being honest with each other. We are all part of the one body of Christ and if we start to lie to each other so the other person doesn’t find out what’s really going on in my life, we not only hurt ourselves but we hurt Christ. They are the very people who can help you, encourage you and maybe even hold you accountable for a while so that you can get back to spending time daily with God daily.

A group that really helps with this is Good Morning Girls. I’ve mentioned them before because I’m part of their accountability programme. It really does make a difference if, like me, you find it hard to actually sit down and do it. You join a group of like-minded women and each morning you do the reading (set out to go through a book of the Bible usually) and then email / facebook the rest of your group with your thoughts on the verses. They in turn do the same and so, not only are you delving into the Word of God, thinking about it and applying it to your life BUT you are also getting other people’s view on it all at the same time. It is well worth thinking about if you do struggle to stay accountable in this area. They are in the middle of a programme at the moment but will be starting a new one in the autumn.
In my dream morning, I would love to be able to get up at 6ish and spend some good time in God’s presence, reading and praying, before my boys get up at 7am. Unfortunately the reality of having two wee ones who don’t quite ‘get’ the ‘no coming downstairs before 7am’ rule interrupts, so I may get up but am joined within 2 minutes by one or both of them! I do have to be honest and say that I do sometimes just use this as an excuse and sit and mindlessly watch TV with them instead of going into the other room and continuing with my plan… but I’m working on it! As with all the other areas we’ve covered – I’m a work in progress and thankfully God hasn’t finished with me yet!

So onto today’s question for you – how are your ‘quiet times’ going? Do you visit this room as often as you should? And have you been there today? Or are you planning to but never actually get there?

Psalm 5:3 says
‘Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord.
Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.’

What more can I say? Abraham, David and Jesus all spent time with God every morning and it gave them the strength they needed to get through the day. We definitely need to do the same. How are you really doing? Let me know below so that we can pray with you and help you to get into the Word each and every day.

Keep shining…J

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Dining Room...

‘This, explains Munger, is the room of appetites and desires. Are you feeding on fare fit for a child of the King? Food that feeds your soul and satisfies your spiritual hunger? What provisions are there that shouldn’t be… and what nourishment needs to be there that isn’t?’  (Elizabeth George)

This is another big one for me. As I have already shared with you all, I am overweight and not through any medical condition – through years of overeating and eating the wrong things. In fact as I read these questions I definitely cringed. I have not been eating the fare fit for a daughter of the King and I definitely have too much that shouldn’t be anywhere near my mouth!

My husband summed it up when we were having a very frank discussion about this the other day. He told me that he could tell when I was binging because I would hide the chocolate I had bought and that it was the one time he knew I wouldn’t share any of it – even if it happened to be a box of Thornton’s. It made me think about how much I eat in secret, so that no-one will tell me to stop but mostly so I won’t have to give any of it away. That’s how greedy and selfish I get.

It is astonishing how easily I can dive into these moods where I just stuff chocolate, crisps and buns into me like there is no tomorrow. But I am actively trying to work on it. As I mentioned the other day, I am committing my journey to God and also working my way through Lysa Terkeurst’s book ‘Made to Crave’ – focusing on craving God rather than food and making sure that my spiritual hunger isn’t being fed by food instead of the Word.

As 1 John 2:15-16 says

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.’

And I love this verse in 1 Corinthians 10:23 – a definite one to memorise…

‘You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you.
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.’

So my question for you for today is this -  how are your eating habits? Are you eating food fit for your position as a daughter of the King? Or are you binging in secret and letting food control you? Are you eating to live or are you living to eat?

I’d love to hear from you on this one – we are all in this together.
Keep shining…J

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Challenge time :)

We’ve got a bit of fun this week. Robert Munger is the man who came up with the ‘My Heart, Christ’s Home’ theory – that we can go through every ‘room’ in our hearts and clean it up so that we can truly shine for God in everything. So this week we will have a look through some of the ‘rooms’ and see how we can make them better… with a little challenge each day too!!

Monday – The study

Tuesday – The dining room

Wednesday – The living room

Thursday – The workroom

Friday – The rec room

Saturday – The bedroom

Sunday – The hall closet

I’m looking forward to seeing how God will challenge each area of our lives through this so I’ll see you all tomorrow for the first one!!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Guarding ourselves...

As we go further into the topic of managing our bodies, we need to have a quick look at how else we can truly manage ourselves on all levels. In her book ('Life Management for Busy Women' for anyone who missed that!!) Elizabeth George looks at four other things that we need to manage and look after.

The first is based on Proverbs 4:23-27. This passage gives us great advice on what we need to guard – and rather than take away from the words, I’m just going to let the Word speak for itself.

‘Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.
Avoid all perverse talk;
stay away from corrupt speech.
Look straight ahead,
and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
Mark out a straight path for your feet;
stay on the safe path.
Don’t get sidetracked;
keep your feet from following evil.’

You can’t say better than that! It’s amazing what you can find in the Word of God when you actually look for it! We really need to take this and apply it to our lives.

The second area she looked at was that we need to walk in righteousness. Proverbs 4:14-15 tells us that we need to make sure that we avoid evil at all costs. We need to purposely set our feet on the path that God chooses for us and stay away from any other path. Sounds so easy, yet we all know how hard it actually is. But God is always there with us to guide us and keep us on the straight and narrow way.

Avoiding sexual sin is the next area we need to look at. I read a very interesting article recently which really spoke to me. There is a lot of chat about the problem that men face with lust and how easy is can be for them to be tempted by all the pornography that is so readily available on the internet. But we as women face something that is even more addictive. And it comes in the innocent wrapping of a paperback novel.

I love reading – now when I say that I truly mean that I LOVE READING! It is a passion of mine and I especially have a weakness for a good old romance novel. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with reading a lovely love story and it tugging at your heart strings, but this can be a minefield. You see when I am in a reading frenzy I can read 3 or 4 books in one day! And the more romance novels I read – EVEN IF THEY ARE CHRISTIAN ROMANCES – the more dissatisfied I get with my life, my marriage and my husband. I begin to think ‘Why hasn’t he done that for me?’ or ‘If only he was like such-and-such’ when in fact I love my husband to bits and I know that he is the man God made him. I don’t need him to be anything except what he is – but these romantic novels make me think things that aren’t healthy for my marriage. And that doesn’t even touch on scenes that aren’t necessarily appropriate in books! My eyes were truly opened when I realised that even reading Christian novels made me feel unhappy and dissatisfied. Not a nice feeling. So now I monitor very carefully what I read and read much less!! But it is something we really need to think about.

The last thing that we want to focus on is filling ourselves with light and life. We need to focus on putting good and godly things into our hearts and minds – things that will help us to grow in the Lord and help us to live life to glorify and honour Him alone. 

And when we put all this together with the fact that our bodies don’t belong to us – that they are God’s and bought at a price – the blood of Christ shed for us at Calvary – then we realise how important it is for us to focus on this and get it right.

Elizabeth George says this in her book:

‘It’s sobering to realise these few truths about the physical area of life – that our bodies are  not our own but have been bought at a price, and that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit and can (and should) be used in a way that glorifies God.’

I have been really challenged so I hope you have gotten something out of it too. And remember in everything we do we want to…

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Anniversary fun...

Today is my wedding anniversary. Exactly 12 years ago my husband and I stood before our family, friends and God to make a commitment to each other and to promise God that we would do everything we could to stay together and live for Him. I am very glad to say that we have made it for 12 years so far... and I am looking forward to the next 12!

Thats not to say that it has always been easy or that we haven't had our own troubles along the way. We have and at some times it's been harder than at others, but we made that commitment, and since we both love each other more than ever, I think that we're doing ok!! The one big thing that we have is God at the centre of our marriage and house. And that makes the world of difference.
As I sat earlier and looked at all the old photos and laughed at how young we look, it got me thinking about how much we have changed. Obviously we aren't the same people who stood in the Baptist Church in Bangor, but my mind has been thinking more about our physical bodies so I wanted to address that.
My body has changed drastically since that day 12 years ago... and although I would love to blame it on 12 years and 4 children all born by C-section - I know taht I can't. I just haven't looked after my body at all and I am ashamed to say taht I have not got to the stage where I have to do something about it or face being ill. My breathing has already been a lot more laboured due to allergies and the doctor did mention that if I was carrying a little less weight it would be easier on my lungs. Not easy to hear, but definitely necessary.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says this:

'Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,
who is in you, whom you have received from God?
You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
Therefore honour God with your body.'

These verses have an extra special meaning to me while I travelled through the daze that is post-natal depression, but I'll leave those stories for another time! I think that so often we let our bodies go and don't look after ourselves as life presses in on us or gets too busy for us to handle. Motherhood, busy businesses, church activities and life in general can take its toll on us and our bodies. Yet we have the Holy Spirit - one part of the Trinity - living in us - and we need to start to really think about what that means.

I know all the verses that talk about the Holy Spirit - telling us all the things He is and all the things He does - but it has never hit me until now that this is God living in me. I know - sometimes I amaze myself with the silly questions I have!! What does this mean for me? What can I do to make it better? What do I do now?

I have eaten myself into a position where I am 6 stone (80 pounds) overweight, and I am so ashamed of that. I look at myself in the mirror and I could cry. But I don't - mostly I look at myself, tell myself that I'm stupid and ugly and then go eat another biscuit (or ten) to make me feel better. But thats a cycle that I have to break if i am ever going to be able to glorify and honour God with my body.

God wants me to be the best I can be - because thats when I can actually do things for Him and bring Him all the honour. I know that God bring strength to my weakness, but I need to get up and take responsibility for my body before He can fill in the missing pieces. I want my body to truly be a temple. I want it to be somewhere that the Holy Spirit can breathe and work without being sufficated by fat, excess pounds and an unhealthy lifestyle. And I have come to realise that only God is going to be able to help me do something about it.

It is my prayer that I will truly surrender this to God and that I will make my temple a fitting place for Him to reside. As I start this journey I hope you will join me and know that even if it takes a year or two, it will be worth it in the end when we can give Him the glory.

A wee song to inspire you along the way!! A wonderful singer sang this at our Focus Fest weekend, but I could only find this version on You Tube - so I hope you enjoy it. The words are amazing :)

And no matter what you're doing... remember to

Monday, 11 June 2012

Focus Fest, weight loss and surrendering to God.

Over the weekend I was privileged to spend time at Focus Fest – an annual conference for Christian women that takes place in Belfast. This year’s speaker was Valerie Murphy, the leader of Precept Ministries in Northern Ireland. In fact for the first time in a long time, almost everyone who took part in FF2012 was from here! And in my personal opinion it was one of the best conferences I’ve been at. The teaching was based around the theme  Born for such a time as this’ and the sessions focused on what we can learn from Esther, Mary and how having eternity in our hearts affects everything in our lives.

It was a very challenging weekend. Not only where we challenged about truly surrendering our lives to God, but also about finding God in every circumstance and trusting that our lives aren’t just a small puzzle piece on its own, but part of the big picture – and as such we are all born in the right time and at the right place to do exactly what God intended for us to do. It is so exciting to think that even though we may be experiencing pain or heart-ache, trials and troubles, good times or bad – that God really does have us in His hands, to do a job that He has set aside for us to do and at the most perfect of times so that the glory will ultimately be His alone.

One of the biggest things in my life that I have been unable to surrender totally to God is my battle with my weight. I am about 6 stone overweight (about 80 pounds for our American friends!) and I have struggled with this issue and my dependence with food since university. I have lost a stone a couple of times, only to put it back on with interest. And I have been a member of two gyms, Weight Watchers and Slimming World, but nothing has worked so far. During the weekend, while I enjoyed the teaching, loved the fact that it was so biblically based and got a lot out of the worship and the seminars, I really didn’t feel as if I had anything I needed to surrender or that I had anything that I was holding on to and not giving to God… until I woke up this morning to face the truth. I have been so focused on trying to lose weight, on trying and failing every week to eat healthily and not binge on chocolate, and on writing out exercise plans – and more exercise plans – while never actually starting any of them, that I had totally taken God out of the equation.
Don’t get me wrong – I am well aware that God is interested in every part of me and in every part of my life, and that He wants to help me in this struggle; and I have read some amazing books on the subject – including Lysa Terkeurst’s ‘Made to Crave’ – but I haven’t engaged fully with them and definitely hadn’t given it to God. Well now I have. As I sit here, I have committed myself to stop focusing on numbers (although I will be weighing in each week just to check I haven’t been fooling myself into believing I’m doing something I’m not – you may laugh but I am VERY good at fooling myself!!), not counting calories or trying to stick to ridiculous diets, but that I am giving my life and my eating habits over to God and that I will pray constantly as I begin the journey to a healthier me.
As we continue our way through Elizabeth George’s book, we have reached the third section – which is all about managing your physical life and your body!! God’s timing is always perfect and totally hilarious!! J Over the next three weeks we will be looking at why it’s important to look after our bodies, and going through her top ten disciplines that will help us to be in the best shape that we can be. I will also be linking you into several wonderful sites that have really helped me over the last few weeks and months as I have started my journey.

I hope this won’t be too hard on you – it’s always going to be a difficult subject as it affects so many of us – whether like me you have a problem with over-eating or binge-eating in private, or you suffer from an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, or you just need to lose a few vanity pounds, I pray that you will see that God really is interested in everything about you – including this. And He is there for us, to help us and to guide us through this minefield of food.

Friday, 8 June 2012

On our knees...

If you would like me to join you in praying for your five in focus, please leave a comment below. The comments may take a while to come up on the blog but don't give up!! Please just put initials or first names as this is a public blog and I don't want people to be embarrassed at any point - and after all God knows exactly who they are without me knowing their full name.
Thanks!! Now  let's get on our knees!!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Five in Focus

Agape UK - part of Campus Crusade for Christ International - have some amazing resources on their website. The one that I'd like to highlight today is a bookmark which helps us to focus on praying for our 'Five in Focus'.

'I am praying regularly that the following people from my neighbourhood, leisure activities, family, work or studies will come to consider seriously what it means to know Jesus personally.'
The aim is to think about your life - think about your family, your neighbours, your work, your hobbies, any sports you do - all the different aspects of your life - and come up with 5 names. These are people who haven't yet accepted Christ as Saviour but people you are committing to pray for on a daily basis, praying that God will work in their hearts and lives and that they will come to truly know Him.

'First of all, I ask you to pray for everyone.
God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth, which is,
‘There is only one God and Christ Jesus
is the only one who can bring us to God.’”
1 Timothy 2:1,4,5

The bookmark helps us to focus in our prayers for our friends, but they also help to challenge us. We can't just sit back and pray that 'someone' reaches them with the Gospel - we need to pray that WE will also find and recognise opportunities to share with them or to help them understand the amazing gift God gave us. As 1 Corinthians 9:22,23 says

“I do everything I can to win everyone I possibly can. 
I do all this for the good news, because I want to share in its blessings."

You can buy sets of the bookmark from the Agape website or you can download a copy onto your computer - here. Hope this helps you to think about evangelism on a more personal level and helps to focus your prayers. And in every situation and every conversation remember to

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


One of the best ways I found to organise my prayers was to use the ACTS acrostic. I don't use it all the time and I don't always stick to it religiously - because our faith is much more than religious mumblings or sticking to one thing or another - but it is a good way to get started. let me explain the way I was taught it.

A - adoration - this is special as, with the Lord's Prayer, we start with God. We start by turning our attention, praise, worship and thoughts to our God and King. Its only fitting that everything we do should start with Him - after all WE start with Him!
'“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honoured by every nation.
I will be honoured throughout the world.”
Psalm 46:10

C - confession - we need to remember that our God is a holy God and that we are sinners. The only reason we can come before Him and enter His presence is because of the amazing work of Christ on the cross. God cannot bear to look upon sin, and as we are sinners we need to make sure we keep short accounts with God. In 1 John 1:9 we read
"But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness."

If we confess our sins regularly then its a lot easier to remember what we have done wrong, and its a lot easier for the Holy Spirit to be heard in your life. Think about it - you do something wrong on day one (like a chocolate binge... ahem!) and you don't bother to confess it because it's not that big. Then on day two you may have another one... and it doesn't annoy you quite as much... and so on until day seven you hardly even notice that you are eating chocolate at all, never mind eating 5 bars at once. We need to keep short accounts so that we can truly let God be head over all of our lives - and if you can't think of anything you've done wrong, then Psalm 139:23-24 has the words for you!
"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life."

T - thanksgiving - we need to give all the glory and thanks back to God for everything that goes right and in fact for anything that goes wrong too. As they say in 'Facing the Giants'  - we need to praise Him when we win and praise Him when we lose. Saying thank you can be hard sometimes - especially in today's culture of selfishness and self-centredness. So we need to make a special effort to make sure that we spend time thanking God for everything that He has done for us. Psalm 100:4 reads

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name."

Yesterday was a perfect example of that. My family and I were going on a trip to Tayto Park in Meath, just outside Dublin, today. It is a trip that has been planned for months and the boys were all very excited. The problem was the weather. I have taken a very bad allergic reaction to stepping outside my front door in the current spell of heat and sun, and within 5 minutes I am covered in hives and unable to breathe properly. I got up yesterday, dosed myself in an antihistamine and we set off. When we got there it was raining - and we ended up keeping our coats on the whole day long as it rained on and off throughout the 5 hours we spent at the park. BUT the damp kept my symptoms at bay and as everything was open and hardly any people had braved the rain, we got to do everything we had planned - and my boys being boys loved the rain and puddles as well!!  So while most families could very well have complained and grumbled about the weather on their way home, we were thankful that God gave us the perfect day to enable me to enjoy the park with the boys. We would have been thankful for getting to go anyway, but we were even more thankful that He gave us rain instead of heat!

S - supplication - this is where we bring our requests to God. I would always bring other people to God first - praying for others is such a joy and a privilege. We are told to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ and we're told to pray for those who don't know him yet. We will look at this a little better tomorrow when we look at the concept of having a '5 in focus' list. This is also the section where we bring our own requests before God. Philippians 4:19 says:

"And this same God who takes care of me
will supply all your needs from his glorious riches,
which have been given to us in Christ Jesus."

God really does supply all that we need - in His time and in His way. The wonderful thing about prayer is that we can be totally honest with Him and He will always answer us. Sometimes that answer will be yes. Sometimes it will be no. And sometimes it will be to just be still and wait. It can be confusing but the more time you spend quietly in prayer and fellowship with our Lord, the easier it becomes to hear His still small voice and to actually be able to discover His will for your life.

A couple of last wee tips that i have been told over the years.
  •  Pray Scripture back to God - He wrote it and as the powerful weapon that it is it is even more powerful when prayed back to God. Find a few key verses that relate to your problems or that relate to the character of God that you want to praise. Not only will you be praying Scripture back to Him, but you will be reading more, learning more and hiding more and more Scripture in your heart for the Holy Spirit to bring to mind just when you need it most!
  • Keep a prayer journal. Even if you hate the thought of keeping a diary, this can be a wonderful exercise. Simply write our your prayers with a date that you prayed them, and then every 6-8 months read the book back and mark off any prayers that have been answered. It is truly amazing when you look back and see how God has been faithful and answered your prayers throughout the year.
  • Pray with a friend. The prayers of 2-3 together in one accord are powerful and it can definitely help you to stay on focus when you pray with someone else.
  • Pray with a clear heart and pray without ceasing - don't give up when you think God isn't listening or isn't answering your prayers quick enough. Eg. sometimes people get discouraged when they are praying for healing for a loved one, and God takes that person home. But you have to remember that if they were a believer and God took them home, that is the ultimate in healing. Our prayers need to be unselfish - we can't pray for someone to be healed just so that we feel better because they are still with us, After all, if God took you home how much happier and more amazing would heaven be than here on earth? Don't want to get into a discussion on healing - just using it as an example of how sometimes God answers in a different way but it is still an answer and it is ultimately better for the person who gets to be in God's presence.

Hope you have gotten something useful out of this. It has definitely been a challenge to my prayer life writing it and I hope that it will help to bring us all into a deeper prayer life with God. Please do comment below if you have anything you want to add or say - I'd love to hear from you and it's a little more private here than on facebook!!

Tomorrow I want to challenge you when we meet the concept of '5 in focus' so until then remember to