Monday, 16 September 2013

Living by faith....

A decade ago, if you had asked me what I thought when I heard stories of people "living by faith", I would have answered that I imagined them sitting hungry at a table and the doorbell ringing and a mysterious box of groceries being left on their doorstep.... You know - weird things happening that could only because they are so in tune with God that He truly provides their every need. 

Since then my husband and I left our jobs to join Campus Crusade for Christ, working in their sports ministry, Athletes in Action. All of a sudden we were "living by faith" and I was totally blown away by how wrong and yet how right my ideas had been! Let me explain. 

When you make the decision to "live by faith" you have to trust that God really is as powerful, loving and all-providing as we think He is, and that He is interested in little old me and will actually help me when I need it most. These are things we, as Christians, take for granted. I mean we just assume that God loves us, that He will supply all our needs and that He is truly interested in everything we do. But what happens when you are forced to put your beliefs into practice? 

When we first joined Cru (as its now called) we started support raising and got a wonderful team around us to support us prayerfully and financially, through monthly standing orders and one off gifts. These people felt led by God to give to us and we are so humbled and amazed when it happened. But this process, finding our team, took a while, and there were plenty of times when we actually were sitting around a table trying to figure out what was being discarded so that we could buy our groceries that week. 

Once, when we were just on the verge of panicking - I say 'we' were on the verge but my husband wasn't worried at all!!! - we went out for a meeting and when we came back there, sitting on our doorstep, was a mysterious box of groceries - with everything that we would have chosen to buy if we'd been asked for a specific shopping list!! I couldn't believe it!! 

But this wasn't the only 'mysterious' happening! We've had money dropped through the door matching the exact amount of a bill that needed paid. We've had people donate the exact money my husband needed for a flight to Africa - so many times its unreal!! We've had people give us clothes their kids have grown out of, just when some of mine have had a growth spurt and they've grown out of trousers or track bottoms. The list is endless, and not once did we say to anyone or ask a gift or anything that we got.

God really is that good, and He really is that powerful that He can talk to others on your behalf and ask them to help you. And if you listen, He really does use us to help bless others in amazing ways. He really does provide for His children and we can be witnesses to that.

But where my thinking was totally wrong was that I assumed that these Christians who were "living by faith" were provided for because they were so in tune with God and walking extra close to Him. This isn't the case. God is our Father. And while He wants us to be that close to Him that we are truly in tune with His will for our lives and our desires are His desires.... He knows we are human and sinners and that we will stray or be distracted on a regular basis. We don't need to be walking extra close and be extra holy for God to provide our needs. He does it anyway. Even when we are distracted by every day life and finding it hard to read or pray. Even when we are struggling with something in our faith and don't know where to look. God is our Father. He loves us despite our failings and when we are His children, He will provide us because He loves us. 

This doesn't dissolve us of the responsibility to live our lives for Him and to worship Him by drawing close to Him and growing more Christ-like each day, but it is wonderful to know that we have a Father who loves us so much. 

So my challenge is this - take some time to spend quality time with God and ask Him to help you to hear His still small voice as you go through each day. And when He prompts you to make someone a meal, or take them a gift, or go shopping for something.... Take heed and do it because you'll never understand how much it can not only bless a family, but be a visible reminder of God at work in their lives, just when they need it most. 

"For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ "
Matthew 25:35, 36, 40

Saturday, 14 September 2013

All you need is love...

So we're back to relationships, so it's about time I mentioned the one person who knows me better than anyone else - flaws and all!! My husband is my best friend and my soulmate and I truly love him with all my heart. Here's a wee picture from our wedding 13 years ago :)

We started dating when we were in university and we had a typical relationship - we were going out... then not... then going out... then not... You get the picture!!! :) 

But when we made the plunge and got married on 14th June 2000 it was one of the happiest days of my life. Even the hairdresser not getting my hair to stay up dampened my day!! (Seriously - she couldn't get it to stay up and had to keep going for a wee walk to calm down and focus!!) I was marrying the man I had dreamed about spending the rest of my life with. Everything was going to be perfect. 

But you know as well as I do that marriage is not perfect and it never will be. Marriage is made up of two people who at their base are sinners. Two people who have their own plans, their own personalities and their own flaws. No matter how well the yet on, their will be inevitable conflict and arguments. But that doesn't mean that it has to be bad. We need to work out how to deal with the conflict and how to work together day after day. 

My husband and I have rows, conflict and good old fashioned fights!! But I love him and respect him as the leader of our house and God has truly blessed us together. We have learned how to deal with any disagreements or conflict that arises and end up more in love than ever! Apart from our four wonderful boys, God has blessed us with a job that allows us to work together and to share our ministry with the children. 

My husband is not perfect but he is the perfect man for me. He puts up with my lack of organisation and time management and eats everything I set down in front of him, edible or not! He never complains about me when we are in public, even though there is plenty he could say. And he even treats me like a princess - with treats like a lovely bubble bath run for me when I came in from a Bible study or putting a cover out in front of an open fire and then taking the boys out for the afternoon so I can read :) 

He is also a wonderful man of God and the way he leads our family in God's Word is so special. And of course he is a wonderful father and the boys adore him!! I'm not going to pretend that its all fun and games all the time, but we are committed to each other before God and we intend, with His strength, to make it last 'til death do us part'.

I am so blessed to have my husband, and I know I take him for granted far too much. So my challenge to myself and you is this - take some time to really show and tell your other half how much you love them. Find out their love language - it's worth it - and then fill them up the way THEY need it - not the way you think they need it - trust me there is usually a difference!! And if you aren't married, then take time to celebrate those special people - friends and family - who are in your life. They all have love languages too!! 

Friday, 13 September 2013

Food glorious food!!!

Today I want to talk about food!!! :) I love food - as evidenced by my need to go on a drastic diet!!! - but much than I love eating, I love making food for others. I mentioned before about my love of having people round for meals and supper and being able to welcome them into my home, but we also love being able to bless people with a meal ministry. 

This is a photo from Comfy in the Kitchen 

But what exactly is a meal ministry? I hadn't really heard of it before - as a ministry - until I read a wonderful blog by Janelle - Comfy in the Kitchen - and she opened my eyes to the possibilities!! A meal ministry is something every single woman can do - making a little extra when you cook or bake and blessing another person or family with it. Simple!!

What makes it a brilliant ministry to do, especially if you are in a stage of life when you think 'I'm not doing anything for God', is that if you can put together any type of food, you can do this. All it takes is for you to double your ingredients when you cook your dinner, and either give the second meal away or put it in your freezer for when you need it. 

Excellent examples of when this comes in handy include new mamas and their babies, if anyone is sick, if anyone has been recently bereaved, or if a family is struggling financially. The article here tells you all about Janelle's top tips for meal ministry and her website gives you plenty of ideas on meals you can make. It really does make a difference. And do have a good read at the website - it explains everything so much better than I can! 

So far this year I have made meals for a couple of ladies going through surgeries, a couple of new mamas and a friend who went through a loss. But we have not only been blessed to take part in a meal ministry, we have been totally blessed by receiving meal ministry! We have had lots of meals arrive at our door at such perfect timing it had to be God's hand and every time it has been something that our whole family would love. 

So my challenge today is a pretty obvious one!! Take some time to pray and ask God if there is anyone that you could bless with a meal ministry. Trust me when I tell you that you will get as much out of it as you give :) 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Religious freedom...

Religious freedom.... What exactly do you think about when you hear that phrase? And how often do you actually thank God for it? That's our topic today. 

I must warn you that I am not doing today's post from a religious and very theological point of view, but from a "stay-at-home-mum" point of view.

Wikipedia - that font of knowledge where maybe every other word might be true - defines freedom of religion as "is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance". For me it's the freedom to worship my God in any way I chose, without the state or government interfering. 

But how often do we actually thank God that we can play worship music in our homes, meet together each Sunday as a body of believers - for the most part in a public building - and hear God's Word preached, meet other believers in a public restaurant and bow our heads to say grace before we eat, or talk openly about our faith to anyone we meet? 

There are so many people that don't have that freedom. We constantly hear about Christians being persecuted for their faith. In countries like China, North Korea, Burma and Sudan it is dangerous to even mention God. They have to use secret signals to alert others if they think they are being followed, or meet in secret places, turning music up full volume if then want to pray together. My husband has travelled a lot and some of these situations have actually happened to him. It is horrible to think that what we take for granted is something amazing and special to others. One country he worked in allowed foreign nationals to have a church but local people were forbidden from attending. It is truly shocking.

But the amazing thing is that some of the people that we have met, who have to endure these circumstances, are some of the most godly people we know. They know sections of the Bible in a way I never will. They pray more than I ever could. They rely so much more on God than I ever have. They are simply amazing. A child-like faith that means more than all the fancy talking theology you'll ever hear. 

So my challenge today is two part. Firstly take some time to truly thank God that we live in a country that allows us religious freedom and allows us to worship God freely. And secondly, take some time to read up about some of the amazing people who don't have this freedom. There are lots of ways to help, support and pray for them, and as it says in Hebrews 13:3 -

"Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies."

and Romans 15:30 says

"Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love
given to you by the Holy Spirit."

A couple of links are below but this is by no means all there is. So please take some time and actually think about our brothers and sisters in Christ from all over the world. And if you need a reminder, why not take a leaf out of this family's book - read there story here!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Vroom vroom...

Another very practical gift today and one that our family couldn't do without!! Imagine this scene...

My story begins with a family of five who had a lovely Seat Leon which was a dream to drive and was a lovely gleaming black. Then we cut to the woman looking at a home pregnancy test as her husband looks on and realises they are going to have to invest in a bigger car!! 

Well that's what happened to us! I always had wanted four children - there were 6 boys in my husband's family and 4 girls in mine so a big family was always on the cards - but I was happy with my three boys and was quite content to stop if the doctors advised me to. They didn't, so it was only a year after number 3 was born that I realised I was pregnant again. (On a side note - yes I know what does it and yes I have invested in a tv so we're done now!!)

We were delighted to find out there was another one on the way, but then realised all the things that change when you move from 3 to 4 kids - you need more room, you need a bigger car and we needed another cot because number 3 was still using his!! Lots of fun!! We started looking for a car  and went to a company we'd used before to have a look at what they had to offer. They said they'd have a look for us... and that is where the story gets interesting!!

They came back to us with the perfect car. A silver seven seater with everything we needed. The only problem was it was WAY out of our price range. We explained to our friend, the car dealer, that we couldn't afford it and could they look for something else for us. We weren't terribly hopeful that they'd find anything as 'perfect' for our needs, but we left it God's hands and knew we'd get something. 

Thiis is where I struggle. When I want something, I want a certain specific something and most of all I want it right NOW.... I have always struggled with leaving God to work out the details and to work miracles when He needs to, even though He has provided for our needs time after time. And when He does supply what we need, while most of the time it exceeds our expectations, sometimes it's just what we need - mainly because it maybe wasn't exactly what we needed to ask for in the first place - and I totally struggle with being content with what we get. So this is where I was...

I knew that we'd get some sort of bigger car, and I knew that God would provide it, but I worried about what it was going to look like and how I would react. It's an awful flaw and I am working on it, but in this instance God  made the words of Ephesians 3:20 very real to me.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine 
or guess or request in your wildest dreams! 
Ephesians 3:20 MSG

The car dealer went back to the man selling the silver car and after a conversation with him, asked him if he was 'good living'. (For those of you not from our part of the world, he basically asked if the man was a Christian!!) The owner replied that he was and asked why it mattered. Our friend then explained to him our circumstances - that we are missionaries working for God in the world of sports and that we live by faith - and told him that we had loved his car but that it was out of our price range. 

And this was when the miracle took place. The man listened to our friend and immediately dropped his price to the something that WAS in our price range.... and the rest is history! I couldn't believe it when we got the phone call telling us that we had got the car! It truly was a case of God knowing my heart, my struggles with my flaws and the reality of our need, and exceeding our expectations beyond our wildest dreams!! 

So today I am thankful not only for the gift that is our car, but also to the wonderful man of God who listened to the still small voice telling him that we were the people he was to sell his car to, and for him dropping his price accordingly!! 

My challenge for you is this - take some time to think about the big decisions you make in your life. Do you ever think about how they can have an influence on those around you? His decision had an immense impact on our lives, and 5 years later we still love our silver seven seater! 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The pitter patter of tiny - and not so tiny - feet!!

Sorry for the delay in the next post - unfortunately life got in my way... although I've had a lovely couple of days with my boys so I'm not complaining!! 

Today I was planning to talk about my husband, but I think after the great weekend I've had I should introduce you to my kids instead!! I have been blessed to give birth to four wonderful sons. When I say 'give birth to' and my husband laughs at me because I ended up having four Caesarian Sections, but you know what I mean!!! Men!!! :)

My boys are 11, 9, 7 and 5. They all look totally different - they have four different hair shades (strawberry blonde, red, brown and blonde-blonde!!), have different physiques and totally different quirks, but I love each one the same. I have to admit to not believing people when they said that in the past - I mean there must be something that you like in one more than the others, right?? - but I just found that having more children increased my ability to love ten-hundred-fold and I love each of them for their own wonderful wee personalities, and even more so because they are my sons. 

On our holidays :)

We just had a great weekend together. We laughed together as the daily grace saying turned into an echo because they were too hungry to think of anything else to say other than 'Thank you Lord for the food, amen'!! We cried together as we watched something very sad in a film, even though their tears were probably more from mummy shouting 'Be quiet - this is the emotional bit' all through the movie! :) We played at the play park, while we practiced hockey and football skills. We sat down at every meal together and talked about our days - especially enjoying my lovely Sunday roast!!

But most importantly we worshipped God together and we prayed together as a family. At the end of most evening meals we take some time to sit and read the Bible together. I'm not suggesting we do this every day of life - we'd love to but sometimes we forget or we're in a rush.... And we're definitely not the picture-perfect family you might think when you read this, but we do try to focus our children's minds on our Saviour and make sure they learn about Him from us as we'll as church. It's a very special time and we get them to pray for people we know as well as their friends. It's especially nice when you are praying for babies to be born when friends are getting near their due dates - there's something beautiful about their wee voices being lifted up to Him. 

At the end of prayer time, ready to get into the snacks!! 

So I am so very blessed and so very thankful for the gift of my children. I know that it's not always the case, and I know of several wonderful ladies who can't have kids, and if you are in that category then my heart goes out to you so much. I pray that you will know God drawing near to you if you are dealing with that situation.

But as we draw to a close and I slip into my boys bedrooms to tuck them in yet again - they can't seem to keep covers on them, even in the cold!! - my challenge is to take some time to really thank God for your family - be it kids, nephews, nieces, parents, grand-parents - whoever God has blessed you with, thanking our Saviour that He not only has our lives in His hands, but all of theirs as well.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

The gift of hospitality

Today we're back to looking at one of the spiritual gifts God blesses us with. This one is very close to my heart - the gift of hospitality. I can't begin to tell you how any times we have been blessed or have been able to bless others this way! And it is a gift I was shown from an early age - my mum has to be one of the best at opening her house and inviting people in! 

As a family of 6 with four boys who could eat me out of a week's food in one hour, we don't often get invited out for a meal. We do get asked, but I can usually turn it around to invite the person to our house - not because I don't want to go to visit them, but I feel that we are putting them out a lot, or that the extra people in our family make it harder for them to have us. But we do have a couple of wonderful families who insist on having for dinner. These wonderfully godly people have bigger families and know that, when my hubby is away on a ministry trip, it is lovely to get invited for tea and spoilt a little. It has been an incredible blessing to me at times when it can get hard to focus or figure out what to cook again when I don't feel like eating! We also have some wonderful couples who insist on having my husband and I for dinner - a rare treat but such a special one. We get to to out with these dear friends and enjoy being adults once again.... And the fact that it is with such godly company only makes it sweeter! 

But the real joy of this is when we get to invite people into our house. I love the feeling of having people come to see us so we can bless them and spoil them. They get to come and relax and we get to serve them and encourage them. This is one of the important parts of our ministry - partly because it is a great way to involve our children in our ministry, but also because people always talk more openly over food! We have had some amazingly open and frank conversations over dinner, Sunday lunch or supper, and we have been blessed to be able to share the Gospel with many couples over our wee dining room table. It is my favourite place in my house, and I love sharing it. There is something very special about people trusting you enough to cook for them, and relaxing in your space. 

So my challenge for you all is this - take some time this week to plan a get together with someone you can bless. This isn't about you - it doesn't have to be perfect. You just have to willing to open up your house and invite God to join you as you invite people to come in. There have been many times when I fret about having someone I don't know in my house, as happens a lot when we invite some of the players my husband works with, with their families, but when you invite God in it always makes for an amazing evening! Invite someone and use your house & welcoming attitude to bless them. It might be just what they need!!! 

"Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another."
1 Peter 4:9, 10

Thursday, 5 September 2013

The gift of music....

Today I want to look at a different type of gift - a gift that God gives us that helps us to worship Him. I am talking about a creative gift - and don't ever think you aren't creative because there are so many different types of creativity it's unreal!!  And to start us off this morning I want to look at the gift of music. 

I am very slightly musical. I say very slightly because I USED to be able sing (in the choir at school), and I USED to be able to play the guitar and the piano - both very slightly and both a long long time ago!!! I dont honestly know if I would be able to play anything now, or if you   would run away screaming at the sound of my voice... But the one thing I do know for definite is that I love music. 

Music is in my blood and my soul - I lived in the music department at my secondary school during my last 4 years there because I just loved the people and the feeling I got when I helped make some of the most beautiful sounds around. 

And music is a gift that I know helps me to worship my King. I love being able to free my mind from worry, doubt or anger by just starting to sing one of my favourite worship songs no matter where I am. I love how I can use CDs by those who God has blessed with amazing voices, to focus my thoughts on Him and worship Him more completely. I love being able to lose myself in the words of a great hymn and truly give my soul up to worship. 

But I also love how we can all get together at a church service, worship practice or a conference, and raise God's praises through the roof to lift His name higher than any other, and truly unite in Him. Music touches lives and stirs the soul like nothing else. 

And sometimes, in the midst of sadness or heartache, it can get through our pain when nothing else can. It is so lovely to be able to send someone a song link, just when they need it most - and find that its been perfect for them! I am so thankful that God has blessed me with the ears to hear, and others with the gift to play.  A perfect combination!

And so my challenge to you is this - take some time today to stick on your ipod or CD player, and really listen to some worship songs. If you can play an instrument do - even if you haven't played in years - or if you can just sing along then do - even if it only shower worthy!! God loves to hear us lift His praises and there is nothing better to keep our minds focused on Him. What are your favourite songs? 

Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; celebrate his lovely name with music. 
Psalms 135:3

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

A practical gift....

God doesn't just give us gifts in relationships or super spiritual ways. He sometimes gives us exactly what we want or need in the most practical of ways - by giving us things!!!

One of the things I love most about living where I live is the house I live in! That may sound strange, but the house we currently own is a dream come true for me. When we first got married 13 years ago we bought a small bungalow, which although I loved it, it wasn't what I wanted. 

I had seen a new development of houses being built a few years before, and I fell in love with them! They were cottage style, in a lovely shade of brick and just perfect for the young family.... But it was WAY too expensive and we couldn't even justify looking at them :(

I was gutted. But we found a wee bungalow to love and we were very happy there... until we changed our jobs to work from home and had our first child! Our lovely wee bungalow all of a sudden turned into a cramped home/office... We needed to move! 

We put our house on the market, sold it very quickly and then realised that we probably should take a look at what was available for us to move to!! We made some appointments and ended up viewing 10 houses in one day. Only one was in the same town as we lived. And you guessed it - it was my dream house!!!

We left it to the end because I didn't want it to influence my views of the others, but it was by far the best. But it was still too dear. We prayed about it for a long time. But couldn't see how we could afford it. 

Until a very special person gave us a gift to enable us to put down an offer on it and buy our dream house. 

A gift that went beyond just money. It went beyond just buying me what I wanted. It went beyond natural to the supernatural. It was answered prayer. It was God-glorifying in the midst of indecision. It was amazing!!!

I have lived in my 'dream house' for over 10 years now and I will never forget the gift that it is. god truly gave my the desires of my heart, and although I know that He does it when it's the best for us and not because its what we necessarily want, I will always remember it! 

Of course now that I have four kids my 'dream house' looks a little different, but we're still praying about that one!! :) 

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!  
Ephesians 3:20

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A gift.... of love

I love the fact that when I look around my life I can see where God has introduced certain people into my path that have been such a blessing and encouragement to me. Two of these people are the subject of my first 'relationship gift' post. I'd like you to meet...

... my mum and dad!!!

I didn't grow up in a typical Christian home although I was sent out to a local church to attend GB and Sunday School each week. Neither of my parents were believers until I was 10 years old and my Mum was introduced to Jesus. 

I had been born in Enniskillen - a lovely town you might be familiar with since it recently hosted the G8 meetings - before moving up nearer to Belfast when I was 7. When we moved up to Co. Down we moved up to live on a farm, which was amazing! My Dad was a teacher so he didn't 'work' the farm, but we did have dogs, goats and horses, which I loved. I had just about the happiest childhood you could ask for, with my three wonderful sisters, getting on as only sisters can!! Yet as soon as Mum came to know Christ as her Saviour, we were all aware that something was missing from our lives. We started to attend a children's meeting, and very soon each of us girls had given our lives over to God. 

My Dad took a little longer... I remember the day well - I was up at university (in Belfast) and was getting ready to go to class (yep, I did go sometimes!!) when I got a phone call from him telling me he had finally made the decision and given control of his life over to God. I could hardly breathe - only that morning a group of us had held an early morning prayer meeting and prayed for him (and some others)!! 

I am so thankful that God chose to give me these two as parents. They are such a wonderful example of godliness in action - and even now I can sit quite happily at Mum's kitchen table and discuss different Bible passages and ask for pray without a thought. It is a very special thing when you have Christian parents and I know how amazingly blessed I am to have them both living practically on my doorstep. 

My challenge today is this - you may not have Christian parents, but there will have been someone in your life who took on the role of being a spiritual mother or father to you. Think about who that is, and not only take time to thank God for them, but take the time to let them know how special they are in your life. And if it does happen to be your mum and dad, then it's extra cause for thanks!! 

Monday, 2 September 2013

The gift of salvation....

The gifts we receive from our Heavenly Father take many forms. We have spiritual gifts, relationships, physical gifts and those life giving and life completing gifts that we take for granted every single day. I want to look at all of these as so often we just focus on one section - so you'll get a real mixture of pictures this month - some which may appear very 'spiritual' and some that will just be 'pretty'!!  :)

But today - day 2 of our series - I'm going to start with the one spiritual gift that He gave us which changed everything - salvation and eternal life through the gift of His Son. I still can't get my head around how much God loves me - even though I am a parent and I understand how much I love my sons, I couldn't imagine ever having to make kind of sacrifice for them. 

But He did. He gave us Jesus through the amazing virgin birth. He let Him grow up to truly understand every emotion we go through and every feeling we have. He let Him experience temptation, happiness, sadness, joy... He let Him experience pain, betrayal, all that life had to offer.... Until He also experienced death. 

But even more than all of that - He let His own and only Son experience what it felt like to be punished for every bad thought and action I have ever done and ever will do in my whole entire life.... He let Jesus take my punishment. When there was no need for Him to experience any of that. He was perfect. He is perfect. But He bled and died for me. 

It is so humbling that my God loves me that much that His Son was willing to die for me. And yet even after all of that I still fail Him and still sin. 

But that's not the end of the story and I thank God that despite dying for me and being buried, my Saviour rose again victorious and lives forever with His Father... With my Father... With my God. I can't wait to get to heaven and experience being in their presence knowing how much was done for me. 

The greatest gift I was ever given was the gift of an eternity to be spent on the presence of my Lord. Not because I did anything to deserve it - because trust me I never will - but because He loves me so much that He gave me the one thing He had to give - His Son.

WOW - what amazing grace!! And now we have to take it and pass it on - tell everyone we know - not just because if they don't accept Christ's sacrifice they will end up somewhere terrible, but because God loves them just as much as He loves me! It's an amazing gift - and He is offering it freely to everyone. Why do we keep it ourselves?? 

My challenge today - for myself and for you - is to really pray about sharing this amazing gift with someone. We have been given the best gift ever - and we need to pass it on. Who will you tell today? 

"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it."
(Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT)

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Amazing grace....

Welcome back to Shine!!!! This month we will be looking at grace - and being thankful for the amazing grace that we find in our lives every day. But what is grace?

Grace has been defined as "the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it". It is understood to be a spontaneous gift from God to man - "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved". 

Now we all know about the grace that God gave us when He sent Jesus to die for our sins - the gift of eternal life and sins forgiven not because of anything we did but because of His great love for us. But how good are we at noticing the everyday gifts of grace that God bestows on us as we go through our busy lives?

This month I want to challenge us to be thankful and notice those things we take for granted and those gifts we are given even though we've done nothing to deserve them. I hope to post a series of pictures as I work at being much more thankful for some of the things I take for granted but which I know God has given us, and I hope it will inspire you to take a look at your life and do the same. 

The more we notice God's grace and His abundant gifts to us and are truly thankful for them, the more we will shine for Him and show His love to those around us. So remember to keep shining....