Goodbye Summer, Goodbye Jesus?

If I were starting school again this September, I’d definitely print this post out and stick it on my wall to remind me every day to keep prioritising the right things. A big thank you to Gabrielle for sharing such great truths with us as we ready our hearts for a new term. L x

Festivals, camping trips, Christian events, new friends… Summer is a great time to invest in your faith and grow spiritually. Over this season, so many of us end up more passionate for God than we’ve ever been! When a friend took me along to various Christian events last summer, God completely changed my perspective. I began to develop a true relationship with Him: I studied the Bible more, prayed more, and began to use my gift of music to glorify Him. My heart was on fire for God!

And yet, starting school again after exploring your faith in new ways can be difficult. Amongst classes, school work and friends, all of sudden there’s no room for Christ in your routine. Life gets a bit too much sometimes and sadly Jesus gets swept under the rug! To overcome this, it’s important that we prioritise Jesus in our lives. So…

~   6 tips for staying close to Jesus   ~

1. Pray

“Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Relationships thrive when there’s communication! Pray when you wake up, when you’re sipping your tea, on the way to class – there’s no limit to how much God wants us to speak to Him. When you don’t feel like praying, just pray! Even pray about finding the motivation to pray. It doesn’t have to be an hour long, elaborate prayer filled with spontaneous bible quotes – simply approach God with what’s truly on your heart like you would a friend.

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2. Read His word

Whether it’s one verse or one chapter, the more we read the Bible, the closer we draw to Him. God provided His word to get to know Him and His will for our lives.  Reading is one thing, but also taking notes, meditating and praying on what you have read will help the message sink in.
Daily devotionals such as Word 4 U 2Day are great at breaking down scripture, helping you understand, and encouraging further study. If you’re struggling, I recommend you invest in a devotional that works for you (and they’re usually free, yay!).

Your faith will seriously benefit from finding pockets in the day to read the Bible – I tend to read mine on the bus to school. The Bible is a beautiful book that reveals something new every time you read it, so take your time with it, and before you read, pray!

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3. Be creative

A while ago, Glasgow University CU ran a campaign with the phrase: ‘Do what you love, and take God with you.’ Love to paint? Glorify God with your art. Love to run? Play Christian podcasts while running. Love to write? Write a blog post about your spiritual journey. During the mayhem of the school term, time out with Jesus can unfortunately become another chore!

However, the possibilities are endless when it comes to worshipping Jesus. We’re all designed with different talents and it brings such fulfillment to use these gifts to draw closer to God. Rather than cancelling time for your hobby, you can let God transform your hobby to another means of worship! Do what you love, and take God with you.

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4. Spend time with like-minded people

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

It’s amazing to come across friends who share your passion for Christ! After attending Christian programmes this summer, you’ve probably made some great friends – stay close to them. If you haven’t got any Christian friends, there are plenty of youth groups where you can meet people (google: “Christian youth group” and your area!).

Christian friends encourage discussions on your faith, Bible study, and spiritual support. Recently, God’s blessed me with a beautiful group of Christian friends and they’ve played a significant role in my spiritual growth.

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5. Consider fasting

Fasting is total/partial denial of food for a certain amount of time, in which we are humbled and focus less on our physical but more on our spiritual needs. For instance, Jesus embarked on a period of fasting in spiritual preparation before being tempted by Satan, where he rejected the desires of His flesh for a greater, divine cause.

Through fasting we can gain a fresh new desire and deeper worship as there is a greater focus on your spiritual relationship with Jesus.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” (Psalm 42:1)

We are so much more than physical beings, fasting reminds us of our one true desire – Jesus Christ. If you find fasting overwhelming, speak to your family or somebody experienced from your church before deciding whether to go ahead – or do it with friends for support. Prayer + fasting = a powerful combination!

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6. Love others

“This I command you – to love one another.” (John 15:17)

The Bible speaks A LOT on loving our neighbours. As ambassadors of a loving God, it’s natural that He wants us to show the world His love. Little things – paying for someone’s lunch, helping with school work, starting a conversation – can minister God’s love to others. As we do His work here on earth, it’s pleasing to Him. Besides, faith in God without putting His word into action is dead! (James 2:14-26). Jesus speaks of how loving others reflects our love for Him (Matthew 25:31-40). So, keep an eye out for anyone in need!

All in all, don’t worry. Being a Christian is a life-long journey in which you’ll endure highs and lows (trust me). However, God will never forsake you. Remember: Jesus at the centre!

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Capture

GabrielleTwitter-Bird@gabriellechudi

While studying Music and English at college (East London Arts and Music), Gabrielle writes, produces and performs her own music. Although she writes about all aspects of her life, she is particularly passionate about worshipping Christ and is determined to use her gifts for His glory.

Stronger As We Go (Psalm 84:7)

84:7

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

8 Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.
9 Look on our shield, O God;
look with favour on your anointed one.
(Psalm 84:5-9)

I find this verse to be so heartening and such an encouragement. This is partly because it is the exact opposite of normal life! As we travel on most journeys, we get more and more tired the further we go – that is natural. But for the pilgrims, as they journey towards Jerusalem, they go from strength to strength, or get ‘stronger as they go’ (Good News Version).

This must be because they are getting closer to their goal of fellowship with God. It’s true of us too: the closer we get to God, the stronger we will be. Hour by hour, the more I focus on God, the more I pray, the more I acknowledge his presence, the more I forget myself and see the world as His, and the stronger I will be as a result.

Feeling weak ourselves may be a very good thing if it reminds us of our need to draw our strength from God. Although we don’t like it, there is nothing like feeling helpless to turn us to God, and that learnt dependency on him is invaluable as we journey.

Our strength lies in Him: when we are weak, then we are strong because we have learnt to lean on Him, the source of all strength. This is true on a daily basis, but also when we view the whole of our lives as a journey of faith.

It would be impossible to keep going as a follower of Jesus throughout our whole lives if we had to do it on our own. But our strength for the pilgrimage does not lie in ourselves, but in God himself. Isaiah 40:29-31 reminds us that God gives strength to the weary  and increases the power of the weak:

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:29-31)

I find the joy in these verses to be completely infectious! They are realistic, acknowledging that we may sometimes feel weary and weak, but packed into these few verses are eight amazing promises:

God gives the weary strength,
God increases the power of the weak,
Our strength will be renewed,
We will soar like eagles,
We will run,
We will not grow weary,
We will walk,
We will not be faint.

We have so much to be joyful about!

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Contributor

Margaret

Margaret is the mother of our regular contributor, Emma. She lives in Cambridge and is a member of Christ Church. She teaches English in one of the Cambridge schools.

Bringing Life (Psalm 84:6)

84:5

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
8 Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.
9 Look on our shield, O God;
look with favour on your anointed one.
(Psalm 84:5-9)

I love the image presented to us in these verses of the transformational power of the pilgrims. Is it really possible that as we pass through the barren, dusty, dreary places they can become places of life and hope? That is what these verses seem to say to me!

This is only possible because of the work of the Lord: he is the bringer of life and hope, and his is the only power to bring about transformational change. But as we pass through the valleys we have the joy and privilege of making them places of prayer, and when we pray we are acknowledging the presence of God in a place and His power to bring about change.

I heard recently of a church which has on the inside of the door, for people to see as they leave the building, a sign saying: You are now entering a place of prayer. That is such a challenge, to see the world as the place of God’s power and transforming presence, accessible through the wonderful gift of prayer. Another wonderful Psalm, 145, reminds us that:

The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
(Psalm 145:18)

It wonderful to know that today, this week, this year, as I go through the places that may seem dry and dusty, I can call on the Lord, who is closer than I can imagine, and He will bring His transforming presence into that situation whatever it may be, bringing His life, love and peace.

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Contributor

Margaret

Margaret is the mother of our regular contributor, Emma. She lives in Cambridge and is a member of Christ Church. She teaches English in one of the Cambridge schools.

Faith Played Out: Body Image

Faith Played Out

My main battle as a Christian in sport has, without a doubt, been my body image.

It may sound weird that you can play sport and still worry about what you look like. Surely most people who play sport have great figures and don’t need to worry about what they look like or what they eat?

To some extent, that is true. But sometimes you are required to play in revealing clothing; to fit in, you feel like you have to be a certain weight or that your body has to be a certain shape. As a netball player I wear a netball dress that shows a lot of leg. I am often left thinking, “If only my legs were as tanned as hers, as toned as hers… If only I had a thigh gap like hers.”

I also look at the current women representing sport, such as Jessica Ennis, Maria Sharapova and Eugine Bouchard, who look beautiful on and off the field. Girls are fed unrealistic standards that they feel they have to meet. This can also be seen in the Nike adverts with girls being glamorized in their sports bras with flat, taut stomachs. This reaches even to the exercising craze and body images amongst celebrity stars such as Sam Fairs (TOWIE), and Vicky Patterson (Geordie Shore).

This pressure has made me feel that unless I looked a certain way, I would always be negatively compared to the teammates around me. Were my thighs too big? Were my leg muscles on show? What size kit was I ordering in comparison to other girls? I would get out the Women’s Fitness Magazines in our library so I could read, ‘How to lose 5lbs in a week’ and, ‘What to eat to get a flat stomach’. I thought by achieving these goals that I would be happy and that it might even improve my sport, but it just made me miserable and self-centred. I was always thinking about how I looked or what I wanted to look like and how I was going to achieve that.

The obsession with how we look can become consuming. Rather than thinking about how I could best serve my teammates, ways in which I could set myself apart by not gossiping about the other team or umpire, or how I could put God into my sport, I was thinking about myself. I lost focus of the fact that I have been blessed with these sporting abilities. I had such a narrow perspective, and needed to step back and look around and realize the wider perspective God has not only for my life but for everyone else’s too.

I think it really helps me to remember that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. I wonder how it makes God feel when I say that I look ugly? Do I doubt his power? He knitted me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13) and made me in his likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). How could I offend the very person that created me this way with these unique gifts? Someone once told me, “Your life is God’s gift to you, what you do with it is your gift back to God.”

Through our sport we are capable of serving and honouring Him in active worship.

I also take comfort in the fact that God looks at the inside of my heart. He knows my worth, even if at times I am blinded by society’s values and cannot see it for myself. In 1 Peter 3:4 we are reminded that we ‘should clothe ourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.’

To God, I am worth the Cross and the death of his one and only Son. This has given me great strength to say, “Yes God, I am going to play for your glory because you created me. I am beautiful because you made me and I want to use these talents to honour you.”

I don’t want to be the girl that looks good whilst playing sport.
I want to be the girl that openly and honestly honours God through her sport.

Which do you think is more important?

Elphie

Elphie

I’m Elphie, and I have just graduated from studying Sports Sciences at Durham University. I have thoroughly enjoyed my three years at Durham getting involved in as many things as I can from sports teams to bar committee and helping out with Kings Church toddler group on a Wednesday morning. I will be extremely sad to leave this beautiful city but very excited for the plans, adventures and purposes God has lying in store for me.

 

Strength in Him (Psalm 84:5)

84:5

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
8 Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.
9 Look on our shield, O God;
look with favour on your anointed one.
(Psalm 84:5-9)

The Christian life is a pilgrimage: we are all on a journey of faith. This is so exciting! It means that each day I am moving forwards – sometimes consciously but usually not. We have a purpose and direction in life – to press on toward the goal, to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).

The first thing to acknowledge is that I cannot do this on my own and I am not meant to do this on my own. In fact it all starts to go badly wrong if I think I can!

Paul writes of how God’s power is made perfect in our weakness, and that when we are weak, then we are truly strong (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). It is such an encouragement to know that when I feel weak, vulnerable, inadequate, when I feel that we are in danger of going under, when everything seems overwhelming, and I start relying on God’s power and strength rather than my own, then I know that God’s power can be at work in me.

The tricky bit is learning to rely on him when we do feel strong, when we feel that we are coping or doing well: at those times we really need to acknowledge our own weakness and inadequacies and learn to take strength from God.

We may think we are doing well, but it is a very dangerous
place to be if we are not continually acknowledging our need of Him.

The other danger when I feel things are going well is that my heart loses its focus on the journey. I want to settle where I am; comfortable and at ease, I sit back and put my feet up, and become complacent.

But we need to have our hearts set on pilgrimage; we need to run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith… so that [we] will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12: 1-3).

We need to recapture the joy of the journey.

May this journey bring a blessing
May I rise on wings of faith
And at the end of my heart’s testing
With Your likeness let me wake
Margaret Becker

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Contributor

Margaret

Margaret is the mother of our regular contributor, Emma. She lives in Cambridge and is a member of Christ Church. She teaches English in one of the Cambridge schools.

Faith Played Out: Sport As Worship

‘Worship’ is a term that we use frequently; a term that we probably feel we understand. Often, however, we automatically think of worship as singing, playing an instrument or an activity that takes place in church. I would guess that sport is not the first thing you think of when it comes to worship. Of course the worship which we partake in during church services is amazing and essential but there is another element of worship that we so often overlook.

God has blessed each of us with gifts and abilities. Not everyone can play in a worship band or be great at public speaking. We all have different gifts and this is so exciting. If you are gifted in sport this is because God has designed you in that way. It is not an accident. This is such an exciting truth for us; God designed our talents and our passions. He loves that you love to play sport because he made you that way.

“For we are God’s masterpiece”
Ephesians 2:10

“You are fearfully and wonderfully made”
Psalm 119:14

If this is true then what does this mean for our worship? God does not simply bless us with gifts for our own enjoyment or to fill our time. He wants us to use our gifts to bring glory to Him.

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”
Romans 12:1 (MSG)

This verse absolutely thrills me; Paul tells the Christians in Rome that they can worship God through offering their ‘normal’ activities as a sacrifice to him. How often do we do this? I know that so often I go through my day bored and unfocused, just living for myself and certainly not worshipping God. If we stop, however, to consider what Jesus has done for us what can we do apart from worship him with everything we have?

Worship is in the everyday. Worship is doing the things you love for God. Worship is playing a hockey match to glorify God. Worship is running in a race to glorify God. Worship is winning or losing but playing for God. When we grasp this truth it completely changes how we live in every moment of our lives.

Finally, if our sport is worship this must change how we approach it. If we are playing in light of what Jesus has done for us this changes everything; our attitudes, our actions and how we treat our teammates or opposition. Suddenly it is not just about winning but about worshipping God. Let this change how you view your sport. If you love to play tennis do it because Jesus died for you; worship him. If you love to run then run because God made you that way; worship him.

Eric Liddell was a missionary but also an Olympic athlete. He worshipped God all over the world including on the running track. He said Yes‘I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. When I run I feel God’s pleasure’.

Sport is not something that is separate from our Christian life. It actually couldn’t be more closely connected.

What sport is it that you love to play? Go and play it to the best of your ability and feel God’s pleasure, as you worship him through using the gifts that he has given to you.

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Jenny ~ Twitter-Bird@jennydickson1

Having grown up in Ballymena, Jenny has just graduated after spending 3 years studying History and Theology at Grey College, Durham University. A keen hockey and tennis player, she is excited to move to Cambridge this September for a PGCE.

Learning To Dwell (Psalm 84:4)

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How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.
(Psalm 84:1-4)

It is such an amazing privilege to know God. To think that we can be in personal relationship with the creator of the Universe, the inventor of the atom, the sustainer of all life, is absolutely overwhelming in itself, but even more so when we think that God wants to be in a personal, loving relationship with us. It matters to Him whether or not we love him. How amazing! And this almighty, all-knowing, all-powerful God invites us to make our home with him, to dwell with him!

I love the word ‘dwell’: it has a sense of putting down roots, of settling in, of permanence. I really want to dwell in God’s house, but if I’m honest sometimes I rush in to God’s presence and rush out again as if I am in a terrible hurry, as if everything else is more important, of greater significance to me. I’m a bit like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland rushing about purposelessly saying, ‘O dear! O dear! I shall be too late…’ I want to learn to dwell with God – rather than flit in and flit out.

Of course, in one sense, we all do dwell in his presence whether we admit it and live it or not – that is the reality of the world that we inhabit – but acknowledging that reality by praying and revelling in his loving presence, brings light and gladness to our innermost beings. No wonder that those who dwell with God praise him!

Properly dwelling in his house means spending time focussing on who he really is – and the more time we meditate on him, consciously in his presence, the more we get to know him, and the more we will want to praise him.

Dwelling in his house means seeing this world as his palace and enthroning him as its Lord; it means seeing our own lives as the place where he reigns and rules, rather than acting the king in the tiny little ‘kingdom of me’. It means joining with others who know and love him to praise him and worship him. It means living my life each day as a joyful, grateful, humble servant of a most excellent Lord.

If we dwell in God’s house we will be blessed indeed!

Lord God, help me day by day to put my roots deeper into you. Help me to live out the reality that this world is yours, your presence is everywhere, your love is unfailing, and you are King. Thank you for making it possible for us to dwell in your presence, and please help me actually to do that more and more fully every day of my life.
Amen.

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Contributor

Margaret

Margaret is the mother of our regular contributor, Emma. She lives in Cambridge and is a member of Christ Church. She teaches English in one of the Cambridge schools.

Introducing… Faith Played Out

Faith Played Out

I am so excited about the series that is about to unfold. If you had to ask me my two biggest passions, I would have to say Jesus and sport. Luckily for me, Faith Played Out combines the two!

I am and have always been a keen sportswoman. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in many different sports throughout my life, competing at most levels from school sports days through to national level events.

Sport commands a huge amount of my identity, time, interest, energy and study and yet it is only in the last few years have I felt convicted to really work out how God fits into that. Two things cannot compete to consume your entire being and as much as I love sport it’s worth remembering that before anything else, we are called to love and serve God with our whole life.

God should come first in every part of our every day and that includes our sporting life. Whether we’re training, competing, out on a social or, in my case, eating breakfast at a ridiculous hour in the morning to get to a 6am outing! With God present in every moment, our perception of sport should be changed. When we welcome new life with Jesus we welcome a new sporting life too!

God blesses us all differently, I am so thankful he has given me the gift of enjoying and being half decent at sport. A friend once told me ‘we serve God best when we use our interests for His glory.’ Equally we can invest too much in something. When you’re investing so many hours into training, making progress to that one competitive moment or when you’re just completely exhausted God can often slip out of the picture. Sport can so quickly become an idol, something that brings out the worst in us, a provoker of jealousy, anger or anxiety, an activity for our own pleasure.

Faith Played Out is a series about how sport and Jesus collide. Sporty or not, I hope that as this series unfolds you will engage with the valuable and gospel-centred posts these incredible girls share with you. There are lessons for everyone to learn about how we can continue to live a life wholeheartedly serving Jesus whilst also pursuing and enjoying the gifts that He gives us.

Our first Faith Played Out post arrives this week, so keep checking back for regular updates from the girls. If you would like to contribute with your own posts discussing faith and sport, please contact Katrina (katrina.bass@hotmail.co.uk).

Room For All (Psalm 84:3)

84:3

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.

4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.
(Psalm 84:1-4)

Sheldon Manor is the oldest continually inhabited manor house in Wiltshire. It dates back to the 13th century and has a 15th century chapel. I once visited it when it was open to the public. I remember there was a notice on the chapel door which read: Please leave the door open for the swallows.

Rather than the chapel door being kept closed to keep the birds out, they were welcomed into the chapel where they were building their nests. What a beautiful picture that is for us. It reminds us that the door to God’s presence is always open, and is open for all.

Jesus promises that whoever comes to him will be welcomed, and the writer to Hebrews urges us to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Swallows and sparrows are not particularly important or impressive birds; in fact they seem quite common and rather insignificant. But no-one is unimportant in God’s eyes. Jesus reminded us to look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:26)

God’s loving provision of all that we need is more than we can ask or imagine. He makes space in his house for the sparrow to have a home and the swallow to build a nest. His care for us is extraordinary – and there is room for each of us in his presence.

Thank you Lord that Jesus has made a way back to you so that we can approach you with confidence. Thank you that when we come to you, you never turn us away. Thank you that the door into your presence is always open and you meet our every need. Amen.

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Contributor

Margaret

Margaret is the mother of our regular contributor, Emma. She lives in Cambridge and is a member of Christ Church. She teaches English in one of the Cambridge schools.

How We Need Him (Psalm 84:2)

84:2

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.
(Psalm 84:1-4)

Sometimes we are so aware of how much needs to change in the world. We read the papers or watch the news, or even just have a spat within our family, and we long with a deep longing for everything to be perfect, as we know it should be and as one day it will be.

I can remember a time in my life when things got so hard around me that I felt completely at the end of my reserves. I was utterly exhausted. For months I had been battling on, lurching from one crisis to the next, and experiencing so much sadness all around me. It got to the point where I knew that I didn’t even want answers as to why things had happened as they had – there were no answers that would have helped. All I wanted was to know, really know, that God was there. That’s what I prayed for – not answers or solutions, but a real conviction of God’s presence.

Only in heaven will we completely and fully know God’s undiluted presence. Meanwhile, we need to learn of our need for him. Sometimes we only cry out to God when we feel at the end of our own reserves, but the truth is that we all need to cry out for God’s sustaining presence all the time.

We need to come to the point where we yearn for him, not just because things are hard, but because we recognise that more than anything else over and above all we need God’s presence in our lives.

Why do we need Him?

Because that’s what we were made for.

God has made us for Himself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him.

Lord, help me to understand my deep need for you.
Thank you that in the hardest times we realise more fully our need of you, but help me to yearn for you at all times, and each day to draw closer to you.
Amen.

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Contributor

Margaret

Margaret is the mother of our regular contributor, Emma. She lives in Cambridge and is a member of Christ Church. She teaches English in one of the Cambridge schools.

Trusting At The Crossroads

The summer holidays hold a certain significance, whatever stage you’re at. Whether this summer signals the arrival of GCSEs, marks the start of a new school or university, or is a time of figuring out what to do after graduation – times of transition can cause us to worry about God’s plans for us in an unknown future.

So, we’ve compiled a number of posts that speak about dealing with these times of change. We hope you’ll find something in this collection that will calm your worrying heart, and point you back to your Creator God, who goes before you and has wonderful plans for your life. Keep trusting Him. x

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1. How Can I Make A Real Difference?

“I don’t have a clear picture right now for how God will use me as a girl of influence over the course of my life. But I trust that if I keep my eyes fixed on the Father, then I need not worry about the details.” Read more…

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2. The Life Lessons of A Recent Graduate

“It’s so easy to fall in rhythm with the rest of the world who tells you that your life story is all about you. This has been the toughest and most reassuring lesson of all: it’s not about me. Any of it” Read more…
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3. Do You Trust Me?

“God has been bringing me to a place of surrender. If I haven’t been short listed for a job or if I’m given a ‘no’ after an interview I must choose to trust that this is God in his faithful character working out His best for me.” Read more…

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4. This Is Living

“We can trust in the God who lavished his love on us. He is in control and sovereign over all our problems, disappointments, anxieties, our future, our relationships – everything. We need to stop trying to control everything and instead encounter Jesus, spend time in his presence and engage our hearts with who he is.” Read more…

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5. The Art of Decision-Making

“God gives us brains. He expects us to use them. He calls us to be wise. But Jesus commands us not to worry about the details, and whether we will have what we need, because he promises to give us everything we need, to do what he has called us to do.”
Read more…

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6. A Control Freak’s Guide to Letting Go

“God’s purpose will prevail and there is nothing I can do to stop that. If God wants me to be in a certain city, you can bet I’ll somehow end up there. Whatever God desires to happen in my life, be that in relationships, work or location – nothing is going to stop God’s will.”
Read more…

Dwelling Place (Psalm 84:1)

Psalm 84:1
I love this Psalm so much that I could happily read it every day and use it for my prayers for myself, my friends and family! It’s about the journeying pilgrims longing to arrive at the temple, but it has so many lesson for us too as we make our journeys through life.

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.
(Psalm 84:1-4)

The first four verses are all about how brilliant it is to be with God. The first verse reminds me that the place where God dwells – lives, resides, makes his home, is to be found – is a place of immense beauty and wonder.

Splendour and majesty are before him;
strength and joy are in his dwelling place.

(1 Chronicles 16:27)

I imagine the courts of heaven, filled with the dazzling light and love of God, any shadow or darkness or sadness chased away as each crack and crevice and corner rings with joy and peace and laughter and love. But we don’t have to wait for heaven to encounter the dwelling place of God. Jesus gave up that wonderful place of God’s residence to bring his presence physically here to earth.

The Word became flesh and made his  dwelling among us.
(John 1:14)

How great it would have been to meet Jesus and talk with him in person, see him do miracles that showed his command over nature, his bounteous generosity, and his compassionate desire to bring healing and wholeness. Wherever he went on earth, his presence brought the loveliness of God. Because of what Jesus has done in coming to earth, dying for us and rising again, God has made it possible for us to live in relationship with him, by his Spirit. The amazing thing is that now God dwells in us!

And in him you too are being built
together to become a
dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

(Ephesians 2:22)

How amazing it is – and how challenging it is – to know that God dwells in us. Because if God is dwelling in us, then our hearts should be becoming places of loveliness, inhabited by his Spirit and being changed by his presence. God’s presence is the best possible place to be!

Lord, thank you that you dwelt on earth in order that it might be possible for you to make your home in our hearts now and one day bring us to your perfect dwelling place in heaven. Please help me to honour you as Lord and King of my heart, and please help your loveliness to grow in me and flow from me to others who I know or love or simply make contact with during my day today.
Amen.

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Contributor

Margaret

Margaret is the mother of our regular contributor, Emma. She lives in Cambridge and is a member of Christ Church. She teaches English in one of the Cambridge schools.

Found in Psalm 146: Freedom

Devotionals May

He [the Lord] is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea,
and everything in them— He remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.

Psalm 146:6-8

We looked at Psalm 146 a few weeks ago, and today we’re focusing in on these 2 verses only – because the truths here are just mind-blowing! Because of God’s immense love for us, and his faithfulness in fulfilling the promises he’s made us, we have been set free so that we can be in a relationship with him.

This makes ALL the difference in our lives. It changes everything. It’s like a blind man being given the gift of sight, like a starving person being given food and sustenance, like a prisoner being released from confinement. It is that big a deal, that great a gift, that amazing a blessing.

This freedom is liberating. It means that we don’t need to try to pretend to be someone we are not, or to try to ‘fit in’ for the sake of it. Jesus loves us exactly as we are. In him, we find true freedom.

Father God, we thank you that you remain faithful forever
and that your promises will be fulfilled.
Thank you that your love for us, as those in need of a saviour,
was so great that you sent Jesus to be our saviour.

Thank you that in Him, we have true freedom. Thank you that we need not be
afraid, or feel constrained to try to fit in, or look a certain way.
Thank you that you love us. Amen.

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Emma

Emma

Emma graduated from Cambridge 3 years ago, and now works in Finance. She said ‘I Do’ to the wonderful Luke in April and loves being part of Team Pendlebury!  Emma’s other passions include leading music at church, doing Pilates & eating salted caramel ice cream! She is so loving seeing God use More Precious to grow his kingdom.

Salt and Light: Distinctive in Exam Time

Following on in our Salt & Light series is a post on a topic some of us are all too familiar with… exams! Our new writer Florrie is exploring how we can not only ‘get through’ exam season, but also use it as an opportunity to shine, to demonstrate our faith in Jesus and allow his peace to fill our hearts and lives. So, why not start your weekend of revision by getting your priorities in place, and asking God how He might use you in this time? L x

Salt & Light

We all know that feeling. The achy-butterfly stomach mixed with clammy palms and that strange throbbing ear (random, but stay with me). It simply overwhelms you just thinking about the prospect of an exam, before you even begin considering the actual day itself; the room, the silence…the silence – why does it insist of sucking all your thoughts away at the very moment you need them? The weeks of revision and the gradual build-up of fear all riding on this one paper.

As humans, facing human challenges, with human expectations it is so easy for us to slip into a mind-set where we tell ourselves that it is ALL up to us. We rely solely on our own ability – or perhaps if we need to feel extra ‘lucky’ we will whip out a good ol’ CGP revision guide – and allow ourselves to depend on our own strength, keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the best.

However, as Christians we should seek to have a different perspective and it is important we strive to avoid this frame of mind. We know that divine ability is completely and utterly in God’s hands: He has known and loved us since before the world began and He has a plan for us, a place for us in His heavenly kingdom for eternity.

Proverbs 3:5-6 highlights this perfectly for us:

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.’

Whilst we strive to remember and apply this in our day to day life – not just in exam season – it is so important we acknowledge how we are portraying our trust in our Father to our friends. We are all aware of the frenzy that exams bring, pathetic fallacy and electronic configuration just seem to creep into conversation and before you know it you are panicking to yourself that you don’t quite know the date JFK’s cat died in relation to the Cuban Missile Crisis – ridiculous, I know – but it’s happened.

As we seek to follow the example and live in the image of Jesus – being the salt and the light – we should be wary to remain distinctive.

Worrying should not be on our agenda. Jesus tells us not to worry in Matthew 6, and promises that we will be so richly provided for if we seek His kingdom first, and place it at the centre of our lives. So, when we witness our friends becoming overwhelmed by quantities of work or terrified at the prospect of an exam we can demonstrate our faith in God to them by remaining calm and thankful. By behaving in this way we are acting as beacons of God’s love and eternal promise.

Reflecting your thoughts in a different light and living them out may potentially open up opportunities to share with your friends why exactly you remain calm and thankful in a time of anxiety for so many.

We can recognise that ultimately we can live lives free from fear because our lives are secure as a result of Jesus dying on the cross for us. His extreme fear in that moment means that we don’t have to face the trials of worry – whether it be a trivial fear or a vast anxiety – the outcome is, and forever shall be the same.

Our debt has been paid, our past is forgiven and our future is certain.

So why not shout about it? Why not sing his glory? What a challenge to live in a distinctive way that shows our friends where sovereignty lies. We have one hope, one deliverer who guides us through fear and joy and his cross has power over all. It is in this where we can find and show our strength and faith in Christ Jesus to those around us.

Related posts:
Countercultural Peace
Salt & Light: Being Distinctive At School

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Florrie

Florrie is currently at secondary school in London and loves all things creative. As well as being an exceptional athlete, she also provides some of the finest and wittiest captions Instagram has ever seen… Florrie’s positive and joyful outlook on life is reflected through her shining personality, and her love for Jesus is expressed through her love for other people.

NB: After some disorganisation from the MP team, Florrie’s bio was put together by us – hence being a little less modest than her own words might have been! ;-)

World-Changing Worship

What does it mean to ‘worship’ Jesus? And how can we worship in a way that changes the world around us? Emma’s talk today explores how we can be girls who worship so radically and wholeheartedly that we shine for Jesus, and point other people to him. If you think you’re too young, too busy, or that your life is too ‘ordinary’ to be used by God – then this talk is for you! Praying you would change the world with your wholehearted worship. Lx

This talk explores the story found in Luke 7:36-50, the example of a woman who worships Jesus radically and wholeheartedly. You can find it here.

1. World-changing worship is whole-hearted.

2. World-changing worship shines.

3.World-changing worship is all about Jesus.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

Found in Psalm 27: Courage

Devotionals May 2

The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.

Psalm 27:1-3

As we start a new week, it is easy to be overwhelmed by all that lies ahead. Maybe we face exams this week, or difficult situations with our friends, or our job is stressful and we feel under pressure.

These verses in Psalm 27 are amazing, because they show us that no matter what we are facing, we can be confident because God is on our side. We can step out in courage.

God is described as being our light, shining into the darkness.  He is our salvation; he saves us so that we can have a relationship with him. And, He is our stronghold; He will keep us safe, and not let us stray out of His care.

So we can be confident that whatever is going to happen this week, we can have courage because we are loved by a mighty God who saves and protects us in every situation we’ll face.

Father God, we thank you that you are our light, salvation and stronghold.
Help us to trust in this truth this week whole-heartedly,
and to be courageous and confident in you. Amen.

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Emma

Emma

Emma graduated from Cambridge 3 years ago, and now works in Finance. She said ‘I Do’ to the wonderful Luke in April and loves being part of Team Pendlebury!  Emma’s other passions include leading music at church, doing Pilates & eating salted caramel ice cream! She is so loving seeing God use More Precious to grow his kingdom.

An Antidote to Perfectionism

Introducing Emma Bentley’s talk from our Cambridge event a few weeks ago! Emma spoke about perfectionism, and how all our efforts to be successful or perfect are made invalid in light of who God is, and what Jesus did for us. This is so important to remember, especially as lots of you will be preparing for exams, thinking about your future plans, and perhaps needing to surrender some hopes and dreams into the faithful hands of God. Enjoy x

1. There is a plan for you.

Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

2. Don’t worry.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

3.  Remember the big picture.

Colossians 3:23-24 reminds us that we are “serving the Lord Christ” in everything we do.

4.  Remember the greatest commandment.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27)

Found in Psalm 23: All-Sufficient Love

Identity Pt 1 Devotionals

The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. Psalm 23:1

I absolutely love this verse (partly because it’s super easy to learn and remember!), but mainly because it is so beautifully simple and yet at the same time incredibly profound.

This verse is a huge encouragement for us. God loves and cares for us, in the same way that a shepherd cares for each and every one of his sheep.

God, the creator and King of the entire universe, is interested in you. He delights over you. He watches over your life. He is with you, in every moment of this week ahead. He promises to give us all that we need, to do all that he has called us to do.

In God we have all that we need.

This verse is also a big challenge to us. It is so easy to chase after things that I think I need, rather than whole-heartedly trusting in God and knowing that He is all that we need. I like to think that I can get things done myself, achieve things, and control things. But God calls us to trust that because we have His love, we lack nothing. We already have absolutely everything we need.

What do I need to trust God with, this week?

Father God, thank you that you love us and care for us so much more than
we can even imagine. Thank you that you give us all that we need. Thank
you that because of your love, we lack nothing. Please help us to trust in
this truth, and know it in our hearts as we start this new week. Amen.

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Emma

Emma

Emma graduated from Cambridge 3 years ago, and now works in Finance. She said ‘I Do’ to the wonderful Luke in April and loves being part of Team Pendlebury!  Emma’s other passions include leading music at church, doing Pilates & eating salted caramel ice cream! She is so loving seeing God use More Precious to grow his kingdom.

Salt & Light: How We Look

Jesus calls us to be the salt and the light of the world, but ‘shining our light for all to see’ feels extremely daunting, and especially difficult at school. This Salt & Light series is created to inspire you to be the salt and light wherever you are placed. Today Katie is writing for us on image, and how we can find our identity in something bigger than the things we wear or the way we look. This is the first post to have ever mentioned Non Uniform day – and I think it is long overdue! Enjoy, and learn lots. L x

Salt & Light

One of the ways our school raises money for charity is Non Uniform days: this is when you pay a pound to wear your own clothes to school. This sounds like a great idea – however at my school (and I’m guessing at yours too), it’s turned into a judgement day.

As you walk into school each girl will give you a look up and down to see if they approve of what you are wearing, silently judging you and comparing you to themselves. I know that I also do this without thinking, making a mental note in my head of whether I look better of worse than somebody else in what I am wearing.

So often I end up wishing I was wearing something different or looking like someone else because they have a nicer figure than me. Have you ever felt like this?

Whether you are happy with the way you look or not every single one of us was “knitted together in our mother’s womb” by the Creator of the universe, our Heavenly Father. And He did so with love and care because each one of us is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:13-14). Therefore each one of us is beautiful, there is no one else you looks exactly like you, there never has been and never will be, you are unique and so so special. Because of this we shouldn’t compare ourselves to other people because we have been made the way God want us to be and by wanting to change the way we look is forgetting about our creator.

Accepting the way we look can be very hard for many of us, me included. Very often I’ll pick out all the different parts of my body I don’t like and wish that I could change them but this gets me nowhere and instead makes me feel even more rubbish about myself.

We need to remember that we were created by our Father who loves us dearly and we should also love the way we look – even though this can be hard. When you accept Jesus as your Saviour, you are accepting him to be the King who rules over you. His opinion of you is the only one that matters; not that of a boy or the girls at school. In the Bible it says:

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes.
Rather it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentile and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

1 Peter 3:3-4

Therefore we shouldn’t look for our identity in our looks, but rather in God and what He thinks of us. If we have accepted the fact that Jesus died on the cross for us and have asked for forgiveness then this is much more important than what we look like. When Jesus comes back we will all be judged and if we have put our trust in God then we can spend eternity with Him. This is the judgment day that really matters – far much more than Non Uniform day or any other day.

Practically trying to make our hearts beautiful can be hard, but if we ask for God’s help then we can do our best. Why don’t you try reading your Bible before school? This doesn’t have to be a whole chapter, just a verse that will help you remember that God’s opinion of you is the only one that matters rather than everyone else at school.

Or, maybe try and spend less time filling your head with Instagram posts or tweets that make you feel like you need to be like the people in them. Instead, spend time talking to God or exploring the Bible.

And remember – you are beautiful!

Related articles:

Salt & Light: Being Distinctive At School
Salt & Light: Distinctive Conversation
Living For Something More

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Katie

Katie

Katie

Katie is in her last year of secondary school and lives in a town called Leyland in the North West of England. She loves baking, spending time with friends and most importantly Jesus! Katie is so excited about More Precious and how it is encouraging girls to keep on living for Jesus.

Leading Into The Light

We hosted an incredible evening of talks, worship, and music at our most recent event in Cambridge, and today’s post is one of the talks from this evening. Hannie spoke for us on leadership, and how we can lead in the way that God calls us to – no matter how old we are or how confident we feel. God calls us to be obedient, loving and faithful – will you be?

1. Leaders who love extravagantly

Ruth is our example here – take a look at her words here in Ruth 1:16, this is an absolute example to us as we strive to be girls and leaders who are radically loving and loyal.

2. Leaders who are boldly obedient

Luke 1:36-38 is a snapshot of absolute obedience from Mary, mother of Jesus. Are we willing to be leaders who are as obedient and willing as Mary? Let’s learn from her response – and remember that we are never too young to be boldly and willingly used by God.

3.  Leaders who have faith in the unknown

Rahab wasn’t an Israelite, so she had no reason to trust in a God that she did not know. But yet, she trusts in God’s goodness and has a bold and incredible faith (see: Joshua 2:9-13).

P.S. Check out the 3 special women that end up in Jesus’s family tree…our God is radical!

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