How To Tackle: Gleaning

If you’re nervous about reading a post on Leviticus at the start of your weekend – don’t be! Rachel brings us a really inspiring and challenging post on how God’s words in the Old Testament show us how to ‘live life best’ in the here and now. Great wisdom for a Happy Saturday! x Gleaning

…and some of the more obscure-sounding commands in the Book of Leviticus.

Reading Leviticus may feel like a daunting task. It doesn’t always get a great press! When reading through the Bible, we are often forewarned not to start with the Book of Leviticus. The going can get tough pretty quickly….

So being reminded that “all scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16) should encourage us to persevere and keep digging for treasure.

I just want to take one example from near enough the middle of the Book of Leviticus and see how we might go about this excavation work and how we can bring this part of the Bible alive:

“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.”
(Leviticus 19:9-10)

In 21st Century Britain most of us don’t live in agrarian communities any more. We buy our food ready to go and vacuum-packed! The closest we get to gleaning is picking wild blackberries in hedgerows when we’re on holiday. So what does this part of the Bible have to teach us? Why is it helpful for me to know about this command about gleaning?!

The Book of Leviticus is a continuation of the Book of Exodus and is located just after the giving of the Law at Sinai and the construction of the Tabernacle. Leviticus is concerned with what it means to be the holy people of a holy God. It gives instructions for holy living and tells of God’s gracious provision for His peoples’ failures. This includes details about priests, sacrifices, festivals and laws for holy living.

The practice of gleaning allows for God’s people to care for the poor and foreigners in their midst. God makes provision so that those who have, share with those who do not. Left over bits of the harvest would sustain those who had no land of their own because they were poor or were just passing through.

We see this beautifully enacted in the Book of Ruth where Boaz not only allows Ruth to glean in his fields, but also arranges that she gets more than just what is left over. There is room for generosity in this command. The temptation would be for the landowner to take all that they can get. Profit-margins and targets, in our culture and world, scream out to us of this to us, don’t they?

Gleaning means distinctive counter-cultural living.

It is striking that God should end this command in Leviticus with the reminder that He is the LORD your God. This is a refrain we see again and again in Leviticus and it is also a refrain that comes at the beginning of the giving of the 10 Commandments. We obey God because he is the faithful promise keeping God, worthy of our devotion and obedience. We care for our neighbour because God is the LORD and he commands us to (Leviticus 19:18).

Although we are no longer under the Law, since Jesus is the fulfilment of the Law and has taken the punishment for our failure to keep the Law, yet the Law is still instructive for us. The Law still reveals God’s character to us and shows us in essence how life works best, even if some of the details may now seem archaic and irrelevant to us.

We now have God’s Spirit living in us who gives us the power to please God and to look to the needs and interests of our neighbours.

So for instance – the home we live in, the belongings we have, the food on our tables – when we belong to Christ, all that we have belongs to Christ and so we are to be generous people. Our understanding of “gleaning” as Christ’s people, nudges us to share those things with our neighbours.

We share with others as we have opportunity, freely, sacrificially because we remember that our LORD is God and we do it for his glory.

So as we look to the New Testament perhaps we see this obscure -looking command framed like this for us:

“A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
(Galatians 6:7-10)

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Rachel

Rachel has recently joined the Christ Church Cambridge staff team after ministering to women and children on the South Coast in Hastings for 7 years. She loves having friends round, giving her the excuse to bake! Rachel has been a great supporter of the MP team and we are very grateful to her.

Truths We Love: The Bible on Beauty

I love this post from Annabel, who is beautiful on the inside as well as the out! Annabel is bringing us some great truths to start the week off with. Happy Monday, girls! Lx

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.
Matthew (7:25)

As a teenage girl I think when we see magazines, films, or adverts, we are put under pressure about how we ‘should’ look or what we ‘should wear’.

In Matthew here it is talking about how these worldly, idolised things don’t matter, what really matters is what is in our hearts, how God sees us. This does not mean that we cannot take care about what we wear and how we look but it gives us some perspective, as we shouldn’t put them above God.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
(Proverbs 31:30)

Every girl wants to be pretty. She wants to look in the mirror and see a beautiful face staring back at her. Problem is, we worry too much about what we look like. When we get older our faces will wrinkle and our bodies will look different. This doesn’t mean we are not pretty! God created us in his image, and he thinks every woman is beautiful no matter what they look like on the outside.

We need to start thinking more about how we look like on the inside. Do we have pure hearts? Nice attitudes? Kind things to say to others? These are the things that make us ‘beautiful.’ God gives us wisdom to fight off any bitterness or anger that life events may cause us to feel, and that risk robbing us of the ability to stay ‘beautiful’.

This is easier said than done, because life is tough. The best advice I’ve learned is to take the time to read and pray every day. All too often, it’s easy to make excuses in our busy world, however, taking time to be with God maintains perspective and inner beauty more than anything else!

 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
(Mark 12:29)

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Annabel

Annabel

I go to school in Cambridge and am in the first year of my GCSE’s. I enjoy being a member of Christ Church where I love meeting with Christian friends and being encouraged in my Christian life.

Janet Purvis: This Week I’m Reading…

I absolutely love this interview with Janet – one of the kindest and most lovely ladies I have ever known. Sit back and enjoy reading about her journey with Jesus, and tips for our own daily walks with the Lord! Lx

1.      What Bible passage(s) are you currently reading/have read recently and found really encouraging?

Recently, I have been reading John’s Gospel as part of a women’s bible study group at our local church. Just a few weeks ago we reached the account of the crucifixion of Jesus (John 19:17-42). It might seem weird to say that I found this passage really encouraging as it describes what might be regarded by many to be a story of defeat and a terrible miscarriage of justice. Yet, my friends and I were all truly amazed and reassured afresh by the passage.

Why?

Because this account has God’s control written all over it, literally. Not one thing, however horrific, happened then, that had not been planned from before the beginning of time.

“This happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled”. (v24)

This was how God’s rescue plan was worked out for all who believe. How wonderful!

2.      What’s been the one, key take-away message so far and how is it changing your day to day life and relationship with God?

Don’t ever fear that the world is out of control! Don’t doubt God’s power and His love for you for one minute! The news at the moment seems particularly shocking and bewildering: terrorist attacks, big political changes and economic uncertainty. Sometimes it is difficult to take in all that is happening around us.

Put yourself for a second in the place of the women, including Jesus’ mother, standing by the cross and witnessing Jesus being put to death, as described in John 19. In the space of a few days, everything seemed to have changed for the Jesus they loved and followed.

One moment He had been making a triumphant entry into Jerusalem in the company of his loyal disciples. The next He had been betrayed by one of them, deserted by the rest, handed over to the hated Romans by the Jewish leaders and was now being brutally crucified. They must have thought the world had gone mad.

And yet, as we read the passage, we learn that details of the crucifixion, like the casting of lots for Jesus’ clothing by the soldiers (v24) and the piercing of Jesus’ side (v37), had been foretold in the Old Testament, written hundreds of years earlier. There is repetition of references to Scripture being fulfilled – of everything being completed and finished (v 24, 28, 30, 36, 37).

The crucifixion was happening at the time of the annual Passover festival when the Jewish people remembered how God had rescued them from slavery in Egypt many centuries before. Specifically, they gave thanks for how God spared the firstborn son of each Jewish household, marked by the blood of a perfect, sacrificed lamb, known as the Passover Lamb. Now, well over a millennium  later, the ultimate Passover Lamb, Jesus, had come to offer rescue from sin and death through the shedding of His blood for us on the cross.

So the message for me and for us all is to be in awe of God’s love and power and to be reassured. It is truly remarkable that, even while dying on the cross, Jesus instructs one of his disciples to take care of his mother (v 26-27). In the midst of apparent chaos, Jesus reaches out and loves us. Therefore, however bad the news headlines might be, this passage is teaching me and everyone to take heart, to trust and not to be afraid.

3.      When, where and how do you read the Bible?

The ideal for me is to read it in the mornings, though it can happen at different times of day. My plan is to sit somewhere quiet and calm with my bible and notebook, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have good ‘quiet times’ just about anywhere.

I enjoyed reading about  the mother of the evangelist, John Wesley, called Susanna, who was born in 1669 and had 19 children! For obvious reasons it was difficult for her to find a quiet corner so her children knew to ‘drop the volume’ when they saw her throw her apron over her head – they understood this was her private time with the Lord. I can’t say this is a technique I’ve tried, though!

4.      What helps you keep a good routine for reading the Bible, and what helps those habits stick?

I find having some kind of structure really helps me in getting the most out of reading the Bible. Last year quite a few family members all used the same Bible in a Year app. This was really useful, not least because we could ask each other how we were getting on. I also like Joni Eareckson Tada’s ‘Pearls of Great Price: 366 Daily Devotional Readings’.

5.      What piece of advice would you give to girls who want to start reading the Bible for themselves, or get back into it?

Like others have said, I would really recommend starting reading the bible with a friend. It might not be possible always to be with each other when you do your reading, but you could plan to do the same readings over a period of time and then compare notes about how you are getting on.

I like having a notebook to record things that have really encouraged me. It can be great to share these with friends sometimes, especially on days you know they are facing a particular challenge.

I also have to hand a note of prayer requests some of my friends share on a regular basis. It is a great way of supporting one another. I also find it inspiring to follow something like freshfaith or amazinggrace on Instagram and have bible verses coming through to my phone throughout the day.

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 Janet

Janet

Janet is married to John and they have 2 grown up children. After studying languages at university, she worked as an accountant in London for many years before becoming a magistrate 11 years ago as well as being involved in the women’s work in her church. She is a great believer that God uses everything in our lives, however apparently random, good or bad, to transform us bit by bit into the people He wants us to be.

How To Tackle: Philemon

Philemon

As I write this, I’m sitting at my desk in the church office where I work. That office is in Holy Trinity Clapham, an amazing church, (ok, I’m biased, I work for it…) with a very inspiring past. Holy Trinity was home to a group of friends known to history as ‘The Clapham Sect’, amazing men and women of God who spearheaded the abolition of the slave trade.

Their most famous member was William Wilberforce who led the campaign in Parliament which would eventually get the 1807 Act to Abolish the Slave Trade passed. Slavery was an established practice in the eighteenth century and between 1450 and 1850 at least 9-12 million individuals were sold as slaves.

Wilberforce and his friends loved the Bible (they also founded what is known today as The Bible Society) and their love of God’s Word was part of what made them want to fight for justice. They were interested in what the Bible says about slavery and what God thinks about it.

Despite their amazing work, there are still 21 million slaves in our world today – 26% of those are children. So this is still an important question and one it’s worth taking some time to think about.

If you’ve ever read any of the books of the Old Testament, you’ll notice that slavery is mentioned a fair bit. God’s people, the Israelites, were slaves in Egypt, Moses led them out of slavery to freedom in the promised land.

In the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, there are lots of laws about slavery including the idea of ‘jubilee’ (Leviticus 25). In the year of jubilee anyone who was in debt to someone else (including slaves) was released from that debt and able to have a completely fresh start. And in the New Testament, there is a whole book called Philemon (it’s a small one between Titus and Hebrews) that is about the relationship between a slave, Onesimus, and his master, Philemon.

So, if the Bible includes stories about slaves and has laws about slavery, does that mean God is okay with it? To answer that question we need to think about three things – all beginning with ‘C’!

1. Context:

When we read about slavery in the Bible, we need to remember we are reading it in the context of the fall – when things fell apart in Genesis 3. After the fall, there was a broken relationship between God and us and between each of us. Broken relationships between humans means we often don’t reflect God’s love to each other and do things that hurt, break and exploit each other, this is on a personal scale (bullying someone at school) and a global scale (slavery).

2. Culture:

Due to the fall, things have happened in history that have not reflected God’s wisdom or love – they are not the best that God would choose for us but they have, and do, exist. Slavery is an example of this – it happened (and continues to) and so the Bible records it.

3. Christ:

Jesus is our jubilee! In sending Jesus, God was showing his love for the whole world and that everyone could be released from their debt of sin and have new life in him. Jesus described his mission as the one who was sent ‘to proclaim release to the captives and to set free those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18). He also said that, as his disciples, we should do what he did – and even greater things.

Therefore, when we read the Bible we see that not only is slavery not what God wants but that, like the Clapham Sect, he wants us to fight to end it!

I love the Bible for lots of different reasons but one of those is that I think it shines a light into the dark places of our world. The Bible speaks of justice and it encourages us to be those who have the same heart as the prophet Amos who cried out:

Do you know what I want? I want justice – oceans of it. I want fairness – rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want.
(Amos 5: 24, MSG)

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Vicky

Vicky lives in London and is the Operations Director at Holy Trinity Clapham. (We forget to collect her bio but know she is passionate about encouraging girls and women in their leadership and faith! Thank you for a fantastic post, Vicky!)

Truths We Love: 1 Peter 1-2

I’ve absolutely loved hearing from so many girls in this series about how God’s Word is really and truly changing their lives. I hope you enjoy Lizzy’s post this morning, and that your life would be changed too! Lx

Mon 15th Aug TWL

I love that God’s word remains as true today as it was when it was first written. In the Bible we see the greatest love story ever told, of an all-powerful and all good creator God who loves the people he created so much that even though they mess up and live like he doesn’t exist, he redeemed them so they could be in relationship with him through his son Jesus! And this is a complete game changer!

The Bible shows us how to live life to the full, the kind of life which will truly satisfy us; a life lived with our Father for his glory! Its not a life of rules or boredom but a life lived freely, a life of love!

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of the imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For ‘all people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures for ever’.”
1 Peter 1:23-25

I love these verses as I often put off reading the Bible or get side tracked into thinking scrolling through facebook would be a better use of my time but actually this reminds me human things will all pass away.

Have you ever looked through old photos and found it hilarious what you were wearing? Or read a history book or been struck by what was acceptable in society back then? These are quite trivial examples, and yet, if our culture is always changing why do we listen to it so much?

If I spend my time craving popularity or grades because that’s what society is telling me is important, I’m looking for satisfaction where I can never be satisfied; in the perishable.

But if I turn to God’s living and enduring word (!) which lives in us if we accept Jesus as our saviour (!!) I can live a life of love based on God’s word! I still mess up all the time and struggle to hand my broken life over to God, but I take heart in that that is natural for all of us to be sinners- what we need to do is to ask our supernatural God to help us live his way- supernaturally and counter culturally via his word!

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
1 Peter 2:2-3

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Lizzy

Lizzy has just finished A Levels in Cambridge and is super excited to have a gap year exploring God’s creation and learning more about Him and how to love his people more. She is forever thankful for all of God’s blessings especially her family and friends but even more so for his outpouring of grace at the cross! She has loved being challenged and encouraged by MP to dig deeper into the Bible!

Anne Beauchamp: This Week I’m Reading…

1. What Bible passage(s) are you currently reading/have read recently and found really encouraging?

In my Bible reading I have recently been doing part of Mark’s Gospel, and in my church House Group a few months ago we did Daniel, which was an amazing book to study.

In the beginning of Mark the King has come – He is the long-awaited Messiah – but He has also come to die. Chapter 1:1 begins with “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”, so we see all that Jesus is doing when He comes to live as a human being and how His life begins to change people.

Daniel is hard work but very rewarding! It is not just ‘Daniel in the lion’s den’, but very relevant for today’s world. A good book to study with friends.

2. What’s been the one, key take-away message so far and how is it changing your day to day life and relationship with God?

In Mark’s Gospel the one key message for me is that Jesus came and lived among His people and even when things get really tough and the storm comes He is there for His disciples and He’s there for us too. It makes me realise that I must trust Jesus and not be afraid – all day and every day – and that my life is in Him, and that He went to the cross for me because of His great love.

In Daniel I learnt that Daniel never gave up trusting God – he always put God first and was always faithful. That is a challenge for me!

3. When, where and how do you read the Bible?

I prefer to read the Bible first thing in the morning, but out of bed, not in it! I go downstairs for peace and quiet (apart from my dog who occasionally joins me, but I have trained her to be quiet!)

I also read the Bible in a house group with members of my church which is very helpful. The whole church do the same studies and we have a sermon preached on each passage. I find it so important to be in a church where the Bible is taught faithfully and I am so thankful that I am encouraged to grow as a Christian week by week.

4. What helps you keep a good routine for reading the Bible, and what helps those habits stick?

I use the ‘Explore’ Bible Reading Notes, as they help me to be disciplined, rather than just dipping in anywhere with no plan. The notes follow a book of the Bible, breaking it up into (usually!) manageable sections for each day. I like the routine and discipline of spending time in God’s word.

5. What piece of advice would you give to girls who want to start reading the Bible for themselves, or get back into it?

If you want to start reading the Bible for yourself – excellent, go for it! It is a ‘habit’ you will never regret. You will be building your life on Jesus, our sure foundation, and having a relationship with Him, which helps in our daily life. Use Bible Reading Notes to help you read each day, if you find that helpful.

Of course, occasionally we will miss reading a passage and we must not feel guilty about that. But if it is what we aim for, we will find we have a deep desire to know Jesus and follow Him always. So if you haven’t started yet, I encourage you to get going, and if you started once but have dropped the habit, I would urge you to get back into it.

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Anne

Anne lives in the beautiful seaside town of Eastbourne and is a mother to three grown-up children and a grandmother to ten grandchildren (including Lucy!). Before she retired, Anne worked as a nurse, housemistress in a school as well as a matron. Anne grew up in a Christian home, loves seeing her family and grandchildren come to know Jesus and thanks God so much for his wonderful love and kindness – all the glory goes to Him!

How To Tackle: Revelation

The book of Revelation is nothing like any other New Testament writing. It is a book so packed full of imagery and symbols to leave the mind boggling. And yet, when you persevere (preferably with a study guide at your side!), it unlocks a whole further aspect to one’s understanding of the gospel and relationship with Jesus. It is impossible in so few available words to go into detail of John’s visions and their meanings, and there are many study guides that do a far better job than I ever could. Instead I want to share some of what we can learn from Revelation, with the hope of encouraging you to read it for yourselves.

Have you ever found yourself trying to piece together what, as a Christian, you have been told to believe in terms of what happens when we die? Where is heaven? Who goes to heaven? When will Jesus return?

We are often expected to know the answers to these questions. And many people point to Revelation as the place they claim to have found these answers. But I do not think this is the purpose of Revelation. I do not believe that God’s intention is to reveal precise details of the where, when, who and how in terms of when Jesus will return, who precisely (in number or identity) will be saved and how it will happen. Revelation is essentially a recording of John’s (his identity is much debated) vision of being in the throne room of God, and of what he has seen in the throne room.

The whole book is about God re-establishing his rule on earth as revealed to John through these visions. Much of John’s visions are symbolic rather than literal. They tell of spiritual battles and of the final victory won by God.

So what can we learn from Revelation?

1. Revelation informs us of and helps us to understand the spiritual battle that is currently going on.

In chapters 4 – 14, John’s visions give us a glimpse into this spiritual battle that is happening during the now and the not yet that we find ourselves in (i.e. before Jesus returns). It shows us that though Jesus has won the victory through his death and resurrection, God has not yet brought down the final judgement onto Satan and all of evil. Throughout these visions, we see God warning people to repent and follow him.

Alongside this, there are visions of those whom have been martyred for Christ pleading with God to bring about the final judgement and end all suffering. And yet, God delays his judgement. Why? Because he is waiting.

Revelation shows us that God is playing the long game. He is waiting to give as many as possible the chance to repent and follow him.

So why does John inform us of this spiritual battle? To encourage us to pray and intercede. Much of what we read in Revelation can seem scary on first reading. But actually the imagery is powerful and shocking not to fill us with fear, but to implore us as a church to get on our knees and pray.

When John stands in the throne room, he realises that he isn’t just a spectator. He realises that he, along with all other Christians, has a role to play within this spiritual battle. And much of this role is to pray for those whom do not yet know Jesus to come to know him, and for God’s kingdom to come.

2. Revelation reminds us of our role as Christ’s followers within this spiritual battle.

John talks of the suffering Jesus’ followers. There is constant reference to the fact that it is the sacrifice of Jesus’ followers that contributes to God’s victory over evil. God has chosen to involve his church in the defeating the enemy. The challenge to us is that as Christ’s followers we should not shy away from suffering and sacrifice.

Indeed Revelation goes further than this. John suggests that sacrifice and suffering are the very weapons we have been given in order implement Christ’s victory over evil. There are plagues sent to earth to warn people to repent. Yet these plagues are not effective. It isn’t until the people of God are seen to be sacrificing even their own lives that the people begin to repent.

This is both an incredibly powerful and at the same time terrifying message. But it isn’t meant to invoke fear. In fact the challenge is there to encourage us to keep going. It reminds us that our suffering is not in vain. We are not discouraged, for we know that ultimately our sacrifice will help lead to the end of all suffering.

3. We have this book to inspire and grow our faith.

At the end of Revelation (Chapter 21) we finally see God’s glorious victory, his unending reign over the new heaven and earth established. This is, unsurprisingly, the best-known part of Revelation. Finally everything makes sense.

All of the battles prior to this chapter, all of the evil that we see in our world, are put into the context of what is waiting for us: the incredible promise that we, his bride, will one day be with our God, that there will be no more suffering, and that we will live with him in a way that is far and beyond anything we could ever imagine. There could be no greater promise and no greater encouragement as we persevere in following Christ.

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H

Henrietta

My name is Henrietta, though most people know me as H. I live in Brixton with my husband and children. I am ordained but currently spend most of my time immersed in the chaos of looking after my 3 small children and squeezing in some ministry when I can.

Truths We Love: 2 Timothy 1:7

Introducing the wonderful Emily Newman to share her wisdom with us today about why the words in the Bible are the only way we can truly find life. Lots of food for thought in this morning’s miniblog about the truths we love, and the power we have in Christ! Enjoy. L x

Mon 8th Aug TWL
I wonder how many people reading this have Pinterest? I love it, it’s a great way to wind down and relax. However when we pin a Bible verse onto a board, why do we pin it? Is it the nice font? Is the background picture pretty?

Or are the words we are reading words that we can’t live without?

Maybe there has been a time in your life when you have stopped reading your Bible, the word of God. You think you know better than the words in a book written thousands of years ago. Well let me tell you, we don’t realise how much we need the Bible until we start reading it again.

These two verses have been a great encouragement to me recently:

‘For the spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self- discipline’. (2 Timothy 1:7)

This verse shows us that the Holy Spirit is within US, he gives US power. When we are talking to our non-Christian friends about Jesus, we need not be afraid or shy but remember and know that God has given us his spirit to help us. Next time you are thinking of talking to your non-Christian friends about your faith, pray that God would help you and that God would use the Holy Spirit to share His great love.

The other weekend I was on my Duke of Edinburgh hike, chatting to my friends about my faith. They were asking some great questions but also tricky ones too! I had about 5 seconds of silence and I just prayed that God would use my words to help my friends see his great love. It was a great reminder to know that God was with me and He put me in that situation.

The second verse that has been a great reminder to me is Ephesians 2:8:

‘For it is by grace you have been saved.’

Grace is when God gives us things we don’t deserve. We don’t deserve to be saved but God has done it for us.

Verse 9 carries on by saying, ‘not by works, so that no one can boast’. We aren’t saved by doing good things. Helping someone with their shopping, having people to lunch, these are great things but they don’t get us saved. They don’t give us eternal life. We can’t boast about the things we do, we are saved by grace and grace alone.

A few weeks ago I was listening to a talk and was struck by how many things in my life are because of grace. We don’t deserve anything, we are all sinful people who have turned against God but because of his great love, in sending Jesus to die for us we can receive his grace.

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Emily

Emily lives in Cambridge and is in year 10 at school. She loves baking, watching ‘The Next Step’, Pinterest and the long summer holidays. She is part of the Christ Church Cambridge family.

Truths We Love: Ephesians 2:10

Mon 1st Aug TWL

Recently, I’ve been really encouraged by this verse in Ephesians that reminds us of our Creator and his glorious ability to plan ahead…

First of all, I couldn’t ever be a ‘Good Christian’ – even if I lived at Church, fasted from anything that wasn’t a Manna alternative, and only listened to Rend Collective. If I never messed up, got angry, felt guilty, felt compassionate (but needed compassion) I wouldn’t be human, for that is the nature of the human condition.

So if you’re often left thinking, like me, that you feel like a bit of a train-wreck so far, just remember –

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’
Ephesians 2:10

I love this verse! If you like lists – God has an amazing list of things coming up for you in your life. I wonder what that might look like?

Think of the trajectory that the Holy Spirit could have if you let Him in – if you really, truly let the Spirit take over your life and change you for the better; day by day, from the inside out. I mean, what a business plan!

Our God is one of divine simplicity and eternal and necessary existence. Let Him in.

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Rosie 

Rosie is in her first year of Hills Road in Cambridge. She loves malt loaf, laughing, God’s grace, new socks and is nearly always found dancing. She can’t wait for all God has to show her this year!

Amy Moxon: This Week I’m Reading…

We’re loving your feedback from this series so far, and are delighted to share a brand new interview with Amy Moxon. We hope her words inspire and encourage you to make the Bible central to your everyday routines! Lx

This Week I'm Reading.fw

1. What Bible passage(s) are you currently reading/have read recently and found really encouraging?

A bible passage I have been reading and thinking about lately is Hebrews 12, particularly the first part of verse 2: “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…”

2. What’s been the one, key take-away message so far and how is it changing your day to day life and relationship with God?

So often I find my eyes have strayed from Jesus. I look to other things to fulfil my purpose and desire. And of course, these things don’t fulfil me. They hurt me. My mind becomes filled with thoughts that I know aren’t from Jesus, thoughts like ‘I’m not capable’, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’m invisible’.

To counteract these thoughts, I love to pray ‘I fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith’. The Bible says that the word of God is ‘sharper than a double-edged sword’ (Hebrews 4:12)), so I use these words to combat the words that the World and the Enemy want me to hear, focusing my eyes and my heart once again on Jesus.

This verse draws me back to what truly fulfils me, and more importantly: to Who fulfils me.

3. When, where and how do you read the Bible?

As a mother of a little baby, I find reading the Bible a difficult habit to incorporate in to my daily life (although actually I’ve always found this long before Sophie came along!). Sometimes I seem to manage to read and even study(!) the Bible daily, and then I can go weeks without even opening my bible. Thankfully, God doesn’t demand that we wake at 6am each day to read our bibles for at least half an hour.

Yet, when I do neglect to read my Bible, I notice it. I notice it in thoughts that aren’t from God creeping in to my mind. I notice it in the negative emotions I feel. I notice it in my over-reactions to the tiniest things.

4. What helps you keep a good routine for reading the Bible, and what helps those habits stick?

I believe that as we read the Bible, we ground ourselves in God’s truth. And when we neglect to do this, we allow the world and the enemy to have a say, displacing God’s truth in our thoughts. As we come back to God’s word following an absence, we realign ourselves with who God says we are, with the truth of God’s word.

One of the ways that I have found to help me remain grounded in God’s truth is to write out short verses or snippets of verses, and place them around my flat, in the places that I look often (my bedroom mirror, the front of my fridge, on light switches). I end up reading these words multiple times a week, even a day, so that even on days when I don’t manage to sit down and open my bible, I am still surrounded by God’s truth.

5. What piece of advice would you give to girls who want to start reading the bible for themselves, or get back into it?

My advice for those wanting to start reading the bible, or wanting to get back in to it: find scripture that counteracts these lies. God’s word is ‘Alive and active, sharper than a double-edged sword.’ (Hebrews 4:12). Use it as it was intended and see it come to life and have meaning for your life.

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Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 19.21.43Amy
Amy

My name is Amy. I live in South West London with my husband and our 1 year old daughter. I spend my days singing nursery rhymes for a group of toddlers at our weekly playgroup, helping to lead a bible study for mums of little ones and chasing my little girl at the park!

How To Tackle: The Tabernacle

If you’re like me, there are certain parts of the Bible you’re a little bit hazy on… the bits you’d feel nervous explaining to a friend. I used to feel like that about today’s section in Exodus: it’s complex, dense, and talks a lot about this thing called the Tabernacle.

But – I have come to absolutely LOVE this bit of the Bible, and I hope my thoughts this morning might give you an insight into why God included it (because He did, deliberately). Here’s to instilling a life-long appreciation of the Tabernacle in y’all! L x

Tabernacle

We’re diving in at the end of Exodus, where God is making a Covenant agreement (an eternal promise) with the Israelites. I want to make sure we’re clear of the big picture before we jump in, so let’s get a bit of background:

  1. The Israelites were created as God’s chosen people, to exist in relationship with Him.
  2. Because of God’s holiness, the Israelites had to make sure everything was absolutely perfect and immaculate before they could meet with Him – both physically and morally.
  3. The Israelites failed on both accounts, and so God requires an offering from them.

So here we are, in Chapter 25:2-8, and God is describing the offering He requires:

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering […] Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.”

It sounds simple. The instructions are laid out – and all the Israelites have to do is get cracking. Unfortunately, the brief is a long one. So long in fact, that it takes up the next 6 chapters! The detail gets down to the priests’ outfit choices and the poses of the decorative cherubs. Imagine being the Chief Architect – what a nightmare!

But why is this bit of the Bible important for us today?

The reason the instructions are so complex is because the tabernacle is to be a place for God to dwell (Chapter 25:8). It’s a sanctuary, a place where God can be accessed by His people.

This is God’s space, His home. God has a great purpose for the Tabernacle: to show us that we are saved to know that He is our God – and that He is holy, glorious and ‘other’:

“For the generations to come, […] there I will meet you and speak to you; there also I will meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated by my glory. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God.

They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.”
(Chapter 29:42-46)

 

Now let’s zoom out again to the message of the Old Testament, and the message of the Bible as a whole. One common theme throughout is the message this:

God promises to be with us.

This is interesting: in a world where we crave so deeply to be connected all the time (can we wait alone for even 30 seconds without automatically pulling our phone out?) – God promises to fill that gap, to always be with us.

God says to us: I will be WITH you. Do not fear – I will be with you. When we crave that connection – He will be with us. We see this message all through Deuteronomy, Joshua, Isaiah and more – it’s sprinkled across the Bible as a sign of God’s faithfulness and His commitment to us as His people:

“I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.” (Leviticus 26:12)

“So you will be my people, and I will be your God.” Jeremiah 30:23

God gives us permanent access.

And this is where we find ourselves in this passage: God is dwelling with the Israelites, having carried them out of slavery and walked with them, guiding them.

And guess what – this message becomes even richer when we look to God’s Big Plan for saving the world through Jesus. Remember, the Tabernacle is a symbol of God giving us permanent access to Himself?

This becomes amazingly clear when we see the arrival of Jesus as a baby – the Word becoming flesh, expanding the tabernacle and DWELLING amongst people! (John 1:14). And remember the name Jesus is given – Emmanuel: meaning God with us! Isn’t the Bible incredible?! Mind. Blown.

And finally, when Jesus returns to Heaven, we are given the ultimate access to God – the Holy Spirit dwelling IN us. No longer do we have to try hard like the Israelites to reach perfection: God has come to US. He has made a way to give us access.

No longer do we need the tabernacle and the temple, because Jesus made a way for us. And now, “we are the temple of the living God.” (2 Corinthians 6:16).

And so we have it – the Tabernacle. The measurements are still daunting. The detail is still meticulous. But remember the reason behind it: the holiness of our God and the greatness of His desire to dwell with His people, despite our imperfections.

I hope the symbolism of the Tabernacle will always give you hope and assurance in a God who longs to dwell with you every day of your life.

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Lucy

Lucy

Lucy graduated from Durham (the best) in June 2015, and got married to James (also the best) in June 2016. Having grown up in Cambridge, she is now adjusting to life in the Big City of London and works in Marketing, while overseeing the day-to-day running of More Precious!

Truths We Love: Isaiah 55:1

Good morning girls! I’m delighted to have my sister Mia sharing her wisdom with us this morning on the amazing power of God’s Word. Here’s to a happy and courageous Monday! Lx

Monday 25th TWL

What do we do if our friends upload a fun photo, or share a sad post? We might ‘like’ it, or send the appropriate emoji. This lets our friends know that we have noticed what they have shared, but is it really doing as the Bible says ‘ Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn’ or does it still remain a fairly superficial exchange?

As one of my previous posts mentions, I take pleasure in the ancient art of letter-writing, (along with many other girls at my church!). When I sit down and write a letter, I put a lot more time and care into thinking about the particular person, the situation they might be in, and how I can write in a way that engages with them and encourages them. Equally, I enjoy reading back through old letters I have received because it reminds me of the care that and love that the writer has also taken to communicate effectively with me.

The other day, as I was sifting through my box of letters (having recently reached over 100!), I was struck that almost every letter included at least one bible verse.

And it got me thinking of Hebrews 4:12:

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

I want to share this verse with you because it is a reminder of the power of God’s word. So, when we write to each other, or pray with each other and use God’s word, we can trust that it will be working in the hearts of others.

In Isaiah 55:1, God says:

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

When we use God’s words, they will always have an impact on someone, God’s word will never fail to achieve his purposes.

So here’s a challenge to us all: next time we find ourselves noticing that our friends are rejoicing or mourning, how about responding with a verse of scripture, trusting that God’s word can achieve far more than a thumbs up or smiley face!

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Mia

Mia is at school in Cambridge, and goes to Christ Church Cambridge. She enjoys rowing, art and spending time with her lovely family and friends. She loves More Precious!

How To Tackle: Job

Good morning girls! We’re stuck into our summer series and have a great post for you about how to tackle the difficult book of Job. Maybe put aside some time this morning to get your Bible out and take a look through this part of the Bible, and see what God might be teaching you through it. Wishing you all happy weekends! L x

Job

I wonder whether you have ever found the story in the book of Job puzzling? He is a wealthy and upright man who loves God. God permits Satan to systematically destroy Job’s flocks, possessions and children – and his health. Do we want to say “Is this fair, God?”

It’s tempting isn’t it?

As the story continues, Job’s friends come to ‘comfort’ him, much of which is unhelpful. He goes on to struggle with his situation, his friends and anguish until Chapter 19, where he makes a statement of faith in spite of all that he has suffered:

“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.”
Job 19:25

Finally, in Chapter 40, God answers Job and reveals his power as the Creator God.

So.. is “Is This Fair?” a question we sometimes have when difficulties, losses and disappointments come into our lives? Do we really grasp the truth that God is our Creator God and Heavenly Father, to whom we belong and who brought us into being (Psalm 139)?

We can be aware of God’s grace as He sustains and walks with us each day. In His grace he gives us wonderful blessings and experiences, but there are times when we need to understand that His grace is also in the darker times we experience.

This is because God is in the business of our personal transformation. He longs to draw us ever closer to Himself, to grow us in faith and trust and help us to become more in love with Him and His purposes for us, in every circumstance.

Paul Tripp says in one of his devotionals:

“There is so much we don’t understand; so rest is found in trusting the Father. […]  He is worthy of your trust and he loves you dearly. Today your Heavenly Father reaches down and says “I know you don’t understand all that you face but remember, I love you!

‘I love you, with an everlasting love’.
(Jeremiah 31:3)

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Vicki

Vicki

Vicki lives in lovely Ely. Family is her joy, she enjoys river walks and watching rugby. She longs to see folk come to know Jesus. (Vicki is also Granny to our very own Katrina!)

Truths We Love: Psalm 62

Welcome to Week 2 of Truths We Love! We’re delighted to be hearing from Tabby for a second time on MP, and really love her inspiring reflections from the Psalms. What amazing truths lie in the passages below! Have a great Monday, resting in God! L x

Monday 18th TWL

“Truly my soul finds rest in God;
My salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I shall never be shaken”.  
(Psalm 60:1-2)

“Trust in him at all times you people;
Pour out your hearts to him,
For God is our refuge”
(Psalm 62:8)

Right now, as I’m writing this in exam season, life is hectic. Everyone is strained, busy and anything but rested! But I love these verses, which remind us that we can find rest in God. We can trust on God as our fortress and “never be shaken”.

While writing this psalm, David faced more suffering than you or I will hopefully ever have to face, but we can see that even in these difficult times, he was still completely dependent on God, who he describes as his “rock” and “salvation”.

I find this so encouraging, because it reminds me of how even when we are shaken, perhaps in our lives or our faith, we can still give it over to God, by prayer (“pour your hearts to him”).

God loves us individually as his children, and we can find rest in God through knowing that He cares for us so much that He has sent his son to die for us – our “salvation comes from Him”.

Therefore, we can depend fully on God, and find rest in the fact that he watches over us and loves us unconditionally. So, when we face trials or periods of weakness, we can remind ourselves of the amazing fact that God is our rock, salvation and fortress, and pray on these verses to feel at peace, and comforted knowing that God is with us all the time.

This passage encourages me to stop trying to only trust myself when dealing with stress, anxiety or doubt, but to cling to God instead. For example, it is way too easy for me to be really worried about something, but then forget to talk to God about it… but these verses challenge us to “trust in him at all times”, and pour out our hearts to Him.

This is an incredible privilege, not only to just talk to the Creator of the universe through prayer, but to have His Holy Spirit live inside us, guiding us, and helping us to walk by faith, too!

And so I would encourage you to rest your soul, by trusting in God at all times, as our refuge.

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Tabby

Hi! I’m Tabby. I’m in year 11 at a London school, and I am taking my GCSEs this year. My passions include being a member of an amazing church, eating pizza, and playing the flute. I love reading More Precious, and I find it a big encouragement in my faith.

Emily Charkham: This Week I’m Reading…

Happy weekend! With the bliss of a Saturday morning comes the third series in our ‘Love The Bible’ summer initiative. This is an interview series with girls just like you and me, all about how they make time to invest in reading God’s Word. We hope you enjoy wisdom from the lovely Emily today! x

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1. What Bible passage(s) are you currently reading/have read recently and found really encouraging?

Jesus walking on Water (Matthew 14:22-33). It’s one of those stories that I read when I was little and didn’t notice anything beyond the fact that Peter walks on water then messes up by taking his eyes off Jesus, and if you were me you were left thinking ‘stupid Peter’.

Then I read it again recently and realized that it’s pretty awesome; and at least Peter gets out the boat!

2. What’s been the one, key take-away message so far and how is it changing your day to day life and relationship with God?

Am I limited to one?! God sometimes sends us into storms- Jesus makes the disciples get into the boat (v.22) even though it was getting late and conditions on the lake weren’t good (v.24) : Just because life seems hard doesn’t mean we aren’t in where God wants us.

Jesus sends us to tough places for two reasons:

Firstly to draw us into greater intimacy with Him; He is there in the struggle and as soon as Peter is struggling (“Immediately”) Jesus “reached out a hand and caught Him” (v.31). Then they climb into the boat together (v32), so presumably Jesus and Peter walk back to the boat together, maybe hand in hand-now that’s pretty cool! Jesus sometimes leaves it to what feels like beyond the last minute, but He does not let us sink.

Secondly, He sends us into tough times for us to have a greater revelation of who He is; when He returns to the boat, the storm dies down and the disciples state “Truly you are the Son of God” (v33) and worship Him. If there is no storm, there could be no Divine Intervention and we would not get to see how powerful God is.

The message is that I should trust that God is working in the tough times and stick in there – but it’s definitely a lesson I’m learning rather than lesson learnt!

3. When, where and how do you read the Bible?

I read it in the mornings if I can, but that’s a personal preference thing, I’m hopeless in the evenings! If I don’t fit it in then I will take my Bible and notebook with me for the day and cram it into a tube journey (one way to stop people sitting next to me!) or lunch hour or anytime I can.

I’m reading the Bible in the Year (it’s a reading plan on http://www.bible.com and also available as an app). I generally read it in my bedroom with a notebook in which to scribble anything that jumps out at me, this may be a general message or few words or whole paragraphs. I would love to have more verses to hand to share with others and encourage myself and this is part of my trying to remember them!

4. What helps you keep a good routine for reading the Bible, and what helps those habits stick?

I have to prioritise reading the Bible: I set my alarm earlier in the morning if I know I might not have time that day. I also find it helpful having friends who ask what I have read and share their encouragements and confusion. We all go through dry patches when it doesn’t seem like God’s Word is saying much so it’s important to draw on others have to say.

I find it helpful knowing that, while reading the Bible is crucial and keeps us grounded and rooted in God’s love (read Lucy’s piece on Peace in the Eye of the Hurricane), God’s grace is huge and if we fail to read it one day we can always pick it up the next! Don’t be put off by one day’s failure.

5. What piece of advice would you give to girls who want to start reading the Bible for themselves, or get back into it?

I would suggest getting a friend to read with you, and maybe start with a devotional that takes a small part of the Bible and offers thoughts or questions about it. When I go through a rough patch I often turn to Just like Jesus Devotional by Max Lucado: it’s 30 days long and takes a snippet from the Bible, expands on what is shown about Jesus then applies it to your life, including a few questions and thoughts. I’ve found it an easy way to get back into meeting with God and seeing how applicable His word is!

We need to open the Bible with expectation so pray before you read, ask God to point out whatever is relevant to you. In the Lord’s prayer we are told to ask ‘Give us today our daily bread’; and this can also be applied to reading the Bible, we need Him to give us what we need for that day.

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Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 07.31.05Emily

Emily grew up in three great cities (Oxford, Salisbury, and Cambridge) before graduating from Edinburgh University in 2013 and raining as an accountant in London. After a lot of soul searching she realised that this was not for her and is currently trying to work out where God is leading at the same time as au pairing for a family of seven (including 4 kids under 10 and a guinea pig) in Clapham, London.

She is passionate about seeing others fulfil the potential and unique calling God has given them- and thinks that if we can do this then we can change the world!!

How To Tackle: Lamentations

Good afternoon girls! We’re delighted to be introducing the second series in our Summer 2016 initiative: Love The BibleIn these Wednesday afternoon slots, we’ll be exploring the more challenging parts of the Bible: the tricky books, gruesome stories, and confusing lists.

Our vision for this series is to equip you to understand these ‘difficult’ sections of the Bible better, and to engage with God’s message within them.

We’re off to a cracking start, as the incredible Nell Goddard is with us this afternoon kicking off the series and taking us through Lamentations. Maybe print this post out, or get a notebook and pen out to really engage with it. We’re praying this is a valuable series for you all! Lucy x

Lamentations

Let’s get started…

Situated between Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Lamentations is an oft forgotten part of the Old Testament, swallowed up by the better known books of the major prophets on either side. In addition, as suggested by its name, it’s not known for being the cheeriest of books – it is made up of songs of lament, with only a few glimmers of hope as the book progresses.

That being said, however, it is one of my favourite books of the Bible, and one which has encouraged and blessed me through a lot of my life. Just five chapters in total, it’s a friendly length, and I have often found it deeply comforting to know that there are books of the Bible which weep with me as I weep, and which acknowledge suffering and pain in a very human way.

I do, however, often find it particularly difficult to come at an Old Testament book with absolutely no idea of its context, history, or actual content. In order to make Lamentations a little less daunting, then, I’ve done a bit of research around these three areas, which will hopefully give you more of an idea of what you’re reading as you sit down to tackle it.

1. Context

The writing of the book of Lamentations is traditionally ascribed to the prophet Jeremiah (for which read: most people think Jeremiah wrote Lamentations, but it’s still a matter of theological debate). Lamentations tends to make a bit more sense if you know something of Jeremiah’s story, and the warnings he gave the Kingdoms of Judah and Jerusalem about their imminent destruction, should they continue to disobey God’s word. We see towards the end of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 39-52) the fall of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah, and Lamentations immediately follows this downfall, and the people being taken into exile. It is commonly believed, therefore, that this book is expressing Jeremiah’s sorrow at this event. The Hebrew title for the book, ‘Ekah, means ‘how’, ‘alas’ or ‘oh’, and was often used for funeral dirges in Ancient Israel.

2. History

It’s generally pretty tricky to accurately place the writing of an Old Testament book at a particular time in history, but the general consensus across commentaries I’ve browsed seems to be that Lamentations is composed upon the fall of the city of Jerusalem, which is estimated to have taken place around 587/586 B.C.

Interestingly, if you turn to Jeremiah 39:1-18, you can read about the fall of Jerusalem, and God’s promises throughout its exile. It’s pretty moving stuff! If you’re particularly interested in this historical context, you can also read about the fall of Jerusalem in 2 Kings 24-25, and 2 Chronicles 36.

3. Content

It is difficult to accurately convey the beauty of the language and the emotional depth of Lamentations without just quoting bits at you, so I would very much encourage you to read it to find out for yourself what it has to offer. In terms of a loose idea, however, each of the five chapters is an acrostic poem in the Hebrew, with a varying structure. The chapters are all 22 verses long except for chapter 3, which is 66 verses in total. If you’re really interested, a number of online or paper commentaries will give a more detailed outline of the nature of each chapter as an acrostic poem, and how it correlates to the Hebrew alphabet.

4. Why does it matter?

Throughout its pages, Lamentations upholds God’s justice and his righteous punishment of sin (after many, many warnings: see the 52 chapters of Jeremiah to understand just how many!), whilst also grieving for all that has been lost, and holding fast to God’s promise of redemption, his faithfulness and his mercy.

This can be seen particularly clearly in Lamentations 3 – arguably my favourite chapter in the whole Bible! – but must be understood and read within the context of the rest of the book. We see more clearly than ever in Lamentations that it is only when we recognise our utter brokenness and hopelessness without God, and the depth of our sin, that we can truly understand the powerful redemption that His grace offers.

Lamentations is not an easy book to read. It describes some horrible things, and depicts the true depths of human despair. On its own and without context, it could be seen to present God as overreacting to Jerusalem’s sin, and bringing unfair punishment on those who do not deserve it. Within the context of God’s self-definition and declaration of his character in Exodus 34:6-7 and alongside his warnings against Jerusalem’s sin through the prophet Jeremiah, however, Lamentations makes more emotional and spiritual sense.

And finally…

If you can, read Lamentations alongside, or just after, reading Jeremiah. I would heartily recommend praying before delving into this book, and be ready for some seriously emotional stuff. If you personally are struggling with grief, loss, or feeling like God has forgotten you, this is a book which will remind you that you are not alone, and that even in the darkness and the despair, there is hope in a knowledge of God’s faithfulness.

Don’t leave Lamentations without spending some serious time in chapter 3, and I pray that as you read this whole book, you would learn afresh something of God’s righteous justice, and his gracious mercy to you, and to all those he loves.

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Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 22.20.13Nell

Nell

Nell is a 22 year old theology graduate from Durham university. She’s an introvert who likes to talk, she’s passionate about friendship and justice, and she really, really likes dogs. You’ll find her blogging over at Musings Of A Clergy Child about being the daughter of two vicars, an introvert and a Christian. Her book, Musings of a Clergy Child: Growing into a faith of my own is being published September 2017.

Truths We Love: Isaiah 40:31

I’m DELIGHTED to be introducing our brand new Summer 2016 initiative: Love The Bible. We want to fill your summer with engaging, relevant and inspiring content that will help you learn to love the Bible – whether you’ve been reading it as long as you can remember, or have never opened its pages before.

The first series we’re launching is called ‘Truths We Love’ – it’s pretty self explanatory! We’re delighted to have our funky fun friend Florrie kick this off for us. Enjoy! Lucy x

Monday 11th TWL

I love the Bible.

These aren’t quite words you hear every day are they? Many people’s sentiments would demonstrate directly opposing views but as Christians we can rejoice and revel in the words of love, hope, joy and sacrifice.

You’re probably thinking yeah yeah, whilst this will always be great stuff it’s also old news, get on with it now. Fair, I’m waffling but trust me, I have a point. I am certainly guilty of turning to the bible and thinking ‘okay, theoretically this is the best thing ever and I’m literally reading God’s very word right now but God couldn’t feel any less tangible. I mean…its actually just paper, am I missing something?’

It’s at times like these when I turn to a single verse in which, whatever my mood may be, I can focus solely on the Lord and can recognise his strength in us and how truly amazing it is. (I’m actually lying a bit, the Bible is littered with verses like these but for the drama and literary effect I’ll focus on one).

Shown to me by a dear friend in an ‘oh-my-goodness-I’m-so-stressed-out-why-me’ moment Isaiah 40:31 has lifted my spirits in times of sadness and distance from God to encouraging me in moments of elation, rejoicing in faith in him. The words follow:

But 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 40:31)

Wicked right? (the good wicked). These lines are so important to me primarily as they remind us of the divine strength that hope in the Lord holds. This is a truth that is so easy to ignore or to forget in our day to day lives, particularly as we wake to such a sinful and broken world.

For me, temptation and the fear of sticking out in a crowd is profound, which I believe can be said for many Christians of all ages. It has been such an encouragement and so helpful to constantly remind myself of these words when feelings such as these arise, as my confidence in my unfaltering strength through our Father’s strength in us is restored and I can recognise that in Him, I can soar, despite the destruction of the world around me.

The words of Romans 8:38-39 further show this might, that cannot be beaten nor lead us to be separated from God and that although the barriers between us will never fade, the strength in our hope will renew and equip us in all that we do and importantly, in how we share Jesus’ sacrifice and love in a way that is truly unstoppable, mirroring our saviour.

If that isn’t reason alone to adore the Bible, I don’t know what is. For with our father, we are invincible. Woohoo x100!

_______________________________________________Florrie

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Florrie
Florrie

Hey! I’m Florrie and I’m at school in the big city of London. Born and raised a city girl with a country heart so am usually found outdoors, dancing, painting, eating bananas and when I can, pretending I’m a cool dude and going surfing. I’m so excited to be part of a CU team at school and even more excited that we can chat about God’s word!

A Glorious Future

Last month we held an event in Cambridge titled ‘Making The Ordinary Extraordinary’. This is Emma’s talk from that evening on how to keep a heavenly perspective, even as we struggle through our everyday trials and challenges.

Join Emma midway through her opening story of learning to walk in high heels… she is a gifted speaker and it’s a hugely inspiring message from the Bible – so I hope you enjoy it! L x

Here’s To Growing Up

Back in May we held an event in Cambridge titled ‘Making The Ordinary Extraordinary’. This is Lucy’s talk from that evening on the passage included below – we hope you enjoy it! x

Place Your Life Before God (Romans 12:1-2, MSG)

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.

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognise what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.

Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

What Do We Hope For?

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Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23

I love starting a new week with this verse, as it reminds us of one of the many amazing gifts that God gives us: hope.

What is hope? Hope is a feeling of expectation, and a desire that something will happen. Hope is a sense of anticipation and excitement, and a positive aspiration for things to come. We will all have many different hopes for the week ahead. We may hope to cross things off the to-do list, hope we’ll get work done in time to catch up with our friends, hope our exams go well, hope to perform well in sports matches, or even just hope for good weather at the weekend (we’re all praying for it!).

When the Bible talks about hope, it talks about a far more amazing type of hope – the certain hope that we have in Jesus. The incredible promise we see in this verse is that he – God – who promised is faithful.

God’s promises have never failed yet and they’re not going to start failing now.

This means that the hope we have in Jesus is certain: he promises that he will always be with us, and that He lavishes grace on us and saves us. He isn’t going to abandon us, and in fact gives us far more than we could ever dream to deserve or imagine. We have the most incredible, amazing gift of hope because God who makes these promises to us, is faithful.

So what difference does this hope make for us this week? When challenges come our way, when we are fearful or uncertain of the future, when we are weighed down by anxiety, or even when we are celebrating joys and the good things in life, Paul encourages us to hold on to the certain hope we have in Jesus. This verse encourages us to hold ‘unswervingly’ to the hope we have.

We don’t need to look left or right and search for this hope in other places. We just need to fix our eyes on Jesus, and pray that He would help us to do that.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.’

Hebrews 6:19

Let hope in God be your anchor this week. Pray that He would help you to walk each day secure, with him as your protector, sustainer and deliverer.


Emma P

Emma

Emma had the huge privilege of growing up in Bath, officially the most beautiful city in the West Country. After moving to Cambridge for secondary school, she wasn’t able to tear herself away so stayed on to study law at university. After graduating, Emma has spent the last three years working in finance. Excitingly, Emma said ‘I do’ to the wonderful Luke in April 2014 and is loving the adventure of being married and being part of Team Pendlebury.

Why Vote?

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Increasing numbers of people feel misled, disillusioned, or apathetic about politics. Others argue that faith and politics should not mix, which leaves us questioning what our position on voting and public life should be.

But faith can’t just be a private endeavour; Jesus urged His disciples to “let [their] light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”. And it’s hard to argue that good deeds can’t be done in politics.

Despite this, the record of Christian engagement in public and political life is not an unblemished one. But just like my all-too- often messy kitchen, if I just stand outside complaining about it, it will never get clean – I have to roll up my sleeves and get stuck in. After all, Jesus’ brother James wrote that “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”.  So what on earth are we to do?

Here are three things I’d start with.

1. Vote

My Grandfather has been sending me newspaper cuttings since I was a teenager as a way of encouraging me to take an active interest in the world around me, and refuse ambivalence or apathy. A couple of weeks’ ago, I asked him why he votes in elections. He used one word: freedom. He explained that he believes that he has been set free through Jesus and called to use his freedom to serve others (Galatians 5). He pointed out that hundreds of thousands of people in the world still don’t have the right to vote, so he sees it as a privilege not to be taken for granted.

Furthermore, by voting we publicly recognise that we submit to the authority of the political system in our nation as established by God (Romans 13:1-17). Voting also has biblical precedence; Acts 14:23 describes how the early Church elected elders by voting. Plus, it’s one way that we can obey God’s command to seek the good of those around us and our nation as a whole (Jeremiah 29:5-6).

Yet, voting is the very least we can do – we can seek God’s reign on earth every day, not just one day every five years.

2. Pray

One way of doing this is to pray for our leaders on a regular basis. Paul encouraged Timothy “that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

The Bible is full of accounts of “those in authority”; from Kings, to Judges, to religious leaders. The accompanying stories describe the reasons why they all needed prayerful support from those around them. Being a leader in any context is hard work.

So how should we pray for our leaders? Whether or not they are Christians, we should pray that God will guide them as they guide us, and pray for wisdom, discernment and protection. Plus, we should extend the notion of “those in authority” beyond politics to other leaders in the Church, voluntary sector, public service, and business. There are an overwhelming number of leaders in society, so choose two or three individuals or groups to pray for, and uphold them regularly.

3. Make your voice heard

Thirdly and finally, if you want to go one step further and become an influencer yourself, you can make your voice heard on the issues that matter to God and to you.  Patrick Regan, founder and CEO of youth work charity XLP argues that social transformation is possible because God is working restoration and redemption in communities. But it also requires us to put our feet on the ground.

Proverbs exhorts us to give voice to the voiceless, Paul implores to help those in need (Ephesians 4:28), and to act because of the hope that we have in Jesus (Romans 8:18-30).

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So how can you be a voice for the voiceless?

1. Build relationships with local politicians; write to them about causes that matter to you and invite them to speak or debate at events. You don’t need to be an expert, you just need to care.

2. Sign petitions on those causes.

3. Get your feet on the ground, get local and start working for transformation by volunteering for a local charity or your church.  Whatever you decide to do with your vote, prayers and time; God has given us a world to engage with so that we might become servants of society who reflect God’s grace and mercy.

 

For more information and resources, visit the websites below or talk to your church/charity about engaging in public life.

http://www.christiansinpolitics.org.uk/

http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/

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Lucy Parker

Lucy

 

Lucy

Lucy lives in North London, goes to St Luke’s in Kentish Town, and works as a Civil Servant in central government. When she isn’t working, Lucy can be found running on Hampstead Heath, escaping to Norfolk to visit her family, helping to organise a big summer Christian youth festival, and practicing making a wedding cake for one of her housemates!

Praise Him in the Hallway

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These five words have been walking their way around my mind over the last few weeks. I’ve had a door shut on me, and the words have been said to me by a close friend. Okay God, I get it!

I’m in a ‘hallway’ in my life at the moment for two main reasons. I’m in the hallway between single life and married-arghabouttobeaproperadult- life and I am in the career hallway. I bet you can guess which hallway I’m more excited about hey!?

While I am here, chilling in these hallways, I know that I have to be praising God.

But the hallway is so boring compared to the living room, compared to the bedroom, compared to the kitchen! True, but the hallway also leads the way, in most cases, to these other rooms. This is true in our lives too. We have to go through times of being in the hallway to prepare our hearts and our minds for the rooms that God has so perfectly prepared us for. Maybe we’re not quite ready for those rooms.

Maybe the room we think we’re going in isn’t the room God wants for us and He has to do a quick decoration job. God can work 60 minute makeovers or He can take years. Praise Him in the hallway. Trust that God’s timing is perfect and that time you are waiting outside the door is the exact amount of time you need to be ready for that room, for that challenge, for that change in your life.

But their hallway seems so much more exciting than mine! Why am I having to wait so long in this career hallway!? They didn’t get the same qualifications as me and they are loving life in the living room, in the bedroom, in the kitchen.

John 13:7 tells us: “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” God’s ways are above and beyond our own.

PRAISE HIM IN THE HALLWAY, GIRL!

Don’t covet. Don’t envy. If it’s a room without God, who’d want to be there anyway!? If it’s a room with God then trust that the same God will too give you your dream room.

You’re learning to trust Him. You’re learning your heart. You’re learning the things God needs to change about you. God shuts doors. God opens the doors. God knows the time to give you the key, but before He gives it you He wants your eyes to be fixed on Him. He wants you to reach out your hand to grab His and when your heart is ready, He’ll give you the key and walk into the room with you, every step of the way.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11

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KateKate

Kate

I’m Kate. I’m a Black Country wench. I graduated from Wolverhampton University in 2014 and currently work as a BSL interpreter. I got engaged to Joey last October and am excitedly planning our wedding for Summer 2017 wedding. I love Jesus and have a passion for worship :-)

Rags to Riches: Hands Wide Open

It’s been a pleasure and privilege to journey through this series with you, to see how Jesus makes a difference in our lives. The last post in the series encourages us to dig deep into His sacrifice made on the Cross, and in doing so swap our rags for His riches. May this bless you in some way! Nadia x

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‘Rags to Riches’ – is there a better way to describe the story God longs to author in each of our lives? He takes away the rags that we once clung so tight to, the rags that used to cover up our insecurities, fears, sins, and brokenness. Into our newly-emptied hands he places riches: riches that don’t merely cover up our brokenness but completely heal it, making us whole and new and beautiful.

It’s so incredibly good, and it fills me with so much joy to be able to say that I have a Father who has done this for me, who has exchanged my rags for the ‘incomparable riches of his grace’, (Ephesians 2:7) a Father who is even now growing me more into the person he made me to be. It’s such a great adventure.

The first time I remember God whispering this love into my life was on camp, when I was ten or maybe eleven. One of our leaders was giving us some space to think through what we had been hearing about while on camp. After a few moments of quiet she read Psalm 121 to us. These words have always stuck with me:

‘Look up to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber…’ (Psalm 121) 

Although I’d heard this before, that God holds the whole world – including me – in his hands, this was the first time that I heard it, the first time I really knew that God was actually there and caring about me.

But this did not mean that life was perfect from there on out. Secondary school started and I thought I was doing okay. Through all of this busyness I was trying to work out who I really was: was I defined by the things that I did, by the people I knew, by the appearances I kept up?

For a while, the answer to this question was yes. I think it’s true for many of us: we define ourselves by the performances we give. Even though my help comes from God, I surely have to do something to make it up to him, right? Something to keep in his good books?

Whilst living like this, I found that I no longer felt at home so much. I found myself getting more exhausted, worried, and stressed out. It was soul-destroying, this act of keeping up appearances in order to feel valued by God and by those around me. Outside, I may have looked fine, but inside, I felt like I was scrambling to stay standing on ever-shakier ground.

I kept turning to God in the Bible and in prayer for help, scrawling out words from the heart in the hope that he would hear and fix it all for me.

One moment that stands out was when I was on a residential weekend for a leadership course. As we arrived on the Friday night, we had some time just for worship and prayer. The leader, Cath, stood at the front, held out her hands in front of her, clenched, palms down. She said, ‘All of you, close your eyes and hold your hands out like mine. Imagine you’re holding shopping bags full of all the things you’ve done or thought of said this week, all of the things occupying your mind…open up your hands and let them go. Place them in front of God as you come to Him this evening. Now turn your hands over, hold your open palms up to God.’

This very simple symbol just kind of undid something in me. I felt the weight lift from my shoulders: I was allowed, invited, to give all this stuff I’d been carrying to God. He wanted to have my ‘shopping bags’ full of craziness and hurt? He desired to give me something of him to hold instead?

It didn’t mean holding up rags to hide my failings and keep up ‘perfect’ appearances.
It meant giving up my failures and my strivings, and letting God transform me with his riches.

I found and I still find now, as God reminds me of my identity in him, that the abundant life He gives us cannot be earned. It can only be received, hands wide open, and face tipped upwards towards the light.

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Hannah

Hannah

Faith Worked Out: Rachel Stonehouse

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 It’s SUCH a privilege to share this interview with Rachel Stonehouse, as she talks about her work with Luminary Bakery. This will be particularly helpful for girls leaving sixth-form, especially those who aren’t heading off to university. We’ve absolutely loved reading this and know you will too. Lucy x

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Fun Five

Book on my bedside table:‘A Meal with Jesus’ by Tim Chester. I had a ‘wow’ moment when I found this in a bookshop. Jesus. And food. Sounded like a book I needed to read!

Dream holiday destination:New Zealand.

My kitchen cupboards always contain:Dark chocolate digestives, vanilla extract and fresh spinach.

Song I listen to on repeat: Give me anything on the new Oh Wonder album and I’m happy.

Most underrated virtue: Discernment

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What is the story behind Luminary and how did you come to work with them?

Luminary is a wholesale social enterprise bakery in East London designed to offer opportunities to women from vulnerable backgrounds to build a future for themselves and their families. We use baking as a tool to take women on a journey to employability and entrepreneurship, equipping them with practical and transferable skills for the working world through training courses, work experience, apprenticeships, and paid employment within our bakery, whilst also providing community and holistic support.

I became involved whilst looking for a way to combine my baking with my faith on a gap year after A-levels. I noticed a lot of my peers serving God through doing something they love in their gap year, whether playing football with street children, working on a drama project in schools or doing youth work. However, as I trawled the Internet and stands at festivals it felt like there was a project for everything other than what I felt called to do: bake.

Just when I’d given up, a friend told me about this bakery one of their friends was setting up. I couldn’t get to London quick enough! God provided the financial support through many faithful friends and organisations and before I knew it I was interning in a very small bakery and teaching groups of women how to bake. Feeling strongly that I’d found my ‘thing’ and had a job so perfectly fitting to what I loved and was good at I decided to give up my place at university and stay on with Luminary as a paid baker and trainer.

What does a typical week look like for you?

Mondays/Tuesdays/Fridays – I bake a range of products from 6am – 2pm for cafes, mentor one of our bakery interns and help train apprentices. A meeting about new products/customers or team training might be slotted in and I order all our bulk ingredients. I also plan and prepare for Thursdays.
Wednesdays – I train to be a pastry chef at a London college
Thursdays – 10:00-6:00 I teach the baking section of our employability course. This is my favourite day.

What do you love most about what you do?

The moment the trainees take what they’ve baked out of the oven on a Thursday – the pride they have and the effect that has on their self-confidence week-to-week is so special!

Is it easy to take Jesus into your workplace?

No. Wherever you work I don’t think it is. Aside from my bed, I spend the majority of my time in the bakery; the ladies I work alongside are the ones I literally do day-to-day life with. So the question really is, is it easy to make Jesus the center of my day-to-day life? The reality is, I think there’s always a struggle to make Jesus the center of your life, wherever that is, whether at school, uni, your home – there’s an inward (and sometimes outward) battle to really make Him the focus, serve Him alone and give Him the glory.

My pride holds me back. My selfishness does too. Impatience, believing I can do it all on my own, and the biggest killer – busyness. All these self-afflicted barriers get in the way. But you know what? He shows up anyway. And that blows my mind. That though we mess up a ‘God-conversation opportunity’ whilst rolling cookies, a trainee asks if she can come to church. That when we break 3 quiche and feel the pressure to get a delivery out on time, we find someone made exactly 3 spare by accident. That after getting impatient to move into our new premises, we realize moving in then would’ve been disastrous and that God’s timing is always better.

I’ve learnt as much as you ‘try’, God’s really the one that’s going to bring my co-workers, women I teach and friends into a relationship with Him. My job is to ask Him to reveal to me what He’s doing, be open and flexible to how he wants to use me and trust that His way of doing things is best.

When you’re busy how do you try and keep God at the center?

If I’m honest I find it really difficult and in no way have worked it out yet – I’ll let you know if I ever get there! As a bakery team we now do a morning reflection at the start of each day. I try to use this time to give the day over to God, whatever shape it may take, and to acknowledge I need His presence and wisdom. I think starting your day in a mindset that you’re working for God (Colossians 3:23) really helps. Busy moments are one of the hardest times to keep God at the center because my mind is so full of the job in hand.

If I’m finding something difficult or challenging, rather than focusing on the problem or situation, I’ve started asking God what He’s doing in it – what is He teaching me? What’s He doing in other people that I can’t see? Why am I responding in the way I am? How does He view it? It has taken a bit of practice to make this a habit but it always puts my focus back on God and gives me perspective. This song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcORoyyjqjw) has almost been like a theme tune to busy days.

What advice would you give to girls who want to do something different after school to find another way to serve God with their life?

Look at your passions and offer them to God: What are you good at? What do you get excited about? What makes you angry? Where do you see need? The way God created you and how life experiences have shaped you reflect the way He wants to use you.

‘God calls people in many different ways, to all sorts of vocations. He longs to harness the gifts He’s given us to be used in His service… we all have unique blend of character strengths and weaknesses. We can never be prescriptive about how God calls… The crucial factor is simply to recognise that He calls all of us to surrender.’ – More Than Conquerors, Simon Guillebaud.

  • Ask advice from those who know you well, love Jesus and you trust. Be prepared for a variety of responses, some encouraging, others telling you ‘you will fail at life if you don’t go to University.’ Value their insight, but take some with a pinch of salt.
  • Pray about it. All of it. For what you should do, advice you’ve been given from others, the fears you have, the technicalities, for what you need… stay close to God through the whole process. And ask other people to pray for you too. ‘Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.’ (Proverbs 16:3)
  • Find your ‘cheerleaders’! Going against the norm can be hard, find a few people who will pray for you, remind you why you’re doing what you are and support you when it gets hard.

What are the biggest things God has taught you throughout the last 2 years?

1. That God cares more about people than efficiency (usually the opposite to the approach of humanity). His way of doing things may not be the quickest or neatest but it will value the people involved, empower and shape them.

2. That where God calls, He also provides what you need.  Whether that’s a place to live, friends, money, food… He IS faithful and He DOES provide.

3. We are designed to be dependent on His provision and a community of other people.

 

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What an amazing insight into Rachel’s life, her work, and her passion for community – and of course, for baking! Do drop by Luminary Bakery if you are ever in London.

Explore the Luminary vision: http://www.luminarybakery.com/
Support their work: http://www.luminarybakery.com/donate/

The MP Exams Rescue Pack

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It’s exam season. The libraries are full, conversations are tense… and amidst the rising stress (and caffeine) levels, it’s easy to forget that we have a God who promises peace.

We’ve gathered a few of our past posts to help you through revision and exams, by pointing you back to God’s peace and His perfect plans. Enjoy!

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 1. Countercultural Peace

PeaceI’ve realised that something about my rushed work schedule and panicky conversations doesn’t fully reflect the sovereignty of God in my life. I’m quick to start relying on my own efforts: how many hours of work can I fit in today? Am I doing as much as everyone else? How would I cope with the embarrassment of failure?

These thought patterns come when I focus on myself and forget that I have a Father who is mighty and gives rest. I’d love this to change. I think there’s something so powerful about demonstrating to the world that there is something bigger to live for than what we can achieve on our own, especially in times of stress and worry, not just in spite of.

Read more on demonstrating a peace that’s countercultural…

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2. An Antidote to Perfectionism

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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)

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

Watch Emma’s talk on replacing perfectionism with grace…

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3. Found In Psalm 27: Courage

Devotionals May 2
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.

Read Emma’s devotional on finding courage…

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4. Salt & Light: Being Distinctive in Exam Time 

Salt & Light
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.

Read the rest of Florrie’s advice on exam-time faith…

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Wishing you peace during this exam season, and praying that you would keep your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, the perfecter of our faith!

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