The Single Season: Start Living, Start Loving

You’ve stood on the cliff of loneliness and jumped a few times.
You want to push the singleness away
and you feel like you’re best years are wasting away.

But, the single season isn’t a wasted season.
It might be hard
but It’s a blessing.
It seems like forever,
yet It’s a time to know to your Creator and cling Him.
It’s a time to see your beauty through His eyes
and realise that He loves and completes you.

His promises for you are true
and His plans for you are bigger than what you could ever imagine.

You don’t have to compare or abandoned.
The author of love, the One who created you, has you loved every passing day.
Spouse or no spouse, for now or never,
like seeds planted by the farmer,
God has put you in the right place at the right time.
So, start living and start loving;
there’s no need to wait.
Start believing and start trusting.

God is with you
for better and for worse,
for richer and for poorer,
in sickness and in health
and until He returns.

Achieving goals is in the everyday

It is too easy in a world full of distractions, addictive TV series and stressful jobs, to bury our heads in the sand and let time slip away. I heard someone say: ‘what do you want your reputation to be at the end of 2018? It doesn’t have to be the same reputation as it was at the end of 2017’. I often imagine how I want people to see me. I envision big dramatic achievements such as getting an impressive  job, running a marathon or campaigning publicly. But when you rely on fantasies, wait for motivation or life changing epiphanies, you are waiting for something rare to happen, rather than making it happen.

Motivation isn’t going to leap into your life one day. You won’t suddenly change. Wait on God, listen to him, but don’t anticipate sudden changes or inspirations. It’s the everyday, the little actions, the constant effort in pursuing a life for God and making a difference that will result in actions and results. No part of your life is unimportant!

When I first moved to Portsmouth, I planned to learn to drive and start volunteering alongside work. I spent time imagining it and waiting for the opportunity to spring upon me. Instead, the reality of my everyday was getting home from work, food shopping, cooking and going to bed. We all make time for Facebook and a TV series. It’s easy to make time for things that are easy. Although it’s tough and everyone struggles with procrastination we can, if we want, make time for serving God or serving a cause if we do something today and tomorrow!

In every situation, no matter how insignificant, what would Jesus do?  Forgiving, spontaneously buying someone flowers, sharing your lunch, giving someone a lift, texting an old friend or giving to the needy should be a way of life rather than an occasion. God values these little things as much as big jobs, achieving a degree or giving a large sum to charity. It is the  little everyday things that make you who you are. The little things determine what people think of you.

As a Christian it is the consistent little actions that project the image of God. Finally, the ultimate motivation for Christians is Jesus dying for us so that we could enter eternal paradise sin free. He died for the world but if you were the only one, he still would have died for you!

Thank you, Lord, that any burden can be lifted by you. Help us achieve our goals by guiding us through the everyday.

 

By Ella Johnson

Walking in Kindness

We all want to help the homeless, but not that addict over there.

Everyone knows that helping the homeless or the poor is a good and moral thing to do. However, people want to help those who deserve help. We envision showing kindness to a helpless person who has done nothing wrong in their life, someone cold and hungry on the street who will use your spare change responsibly.

However, when you see the person you gave a sandwich or spare change to the other day drinking or out of their head on drugs, you start to question whether they deserved your charity. I’ve heard people say, “there’s a reason they’re homeless” or “don’t give anything; they’ll just spend it on drugs” and “they’ve done it to themselves”.

People want to help an angelic perfect person, not a street beggar addicted to drugs. But I argue this. An addict, a gambler, someone with a troubled past is exactly the person who may find themselves homeless. The angelic street beggar with both impeccable manners and a perfect drug-free past simply doesn’t exist.

You may have endured hardship such as being in care or addictions and think, “well I’m not homeless or begging?” Despite this,  you are not them. Some have the view that street beggars are not helping themselves by taking drugs. Proverbs 31:7 says: “Let them drink to forget their poverty and remember their troubles no more”. This reminds us not to judge the troubled for abusing substances but to acknowledge why they are seeking comfort from such means.

Ephesians 2:4-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works…”. This shows us that we don’t deserve grace, but it is a gift. In the same way, we shouldn’t give to the needy based on whether we think they deserve it or not. Give as God gave us grace – unconditionally and from love. We can’t know or judge whether beggars deserve charity, we don’t know what they’ve been through and we have no right to judge them for their situation. James 4:12: “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbour?”

Lord, I pray that we would see opportunities around us to bless and help people in need. Teach us to think less about ourselves and more about others. Amen.

By Ella Johnson

My Source of Peace. My Source of Joy

Everyone wants joy and peace of mind, right? Sometimes we seek after material things or cling onto people hoping that they will provide these things.

I love reading books and listening to music. During Christmas, I received good books and music. Naturally, I was elated. These gifts gave me temporary happiness. I enjoy spending quality time with friends, and my family bring so much light into my life. However, they are human and need just as much joy and peace as I do.

John 15:5 (NIV)

‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’

Deep down we long for infinite joy and boundless inner- calm. I could turn to many things to achieve this state of being. But none of these compare to knowing Jesus. He is the ‘vine’, an endless supply of joy, peace and strength. My branches would whiter without him. No doubt.

When we give our life to Jesus, salvation and freedom is ours. We can boldly approach his throne. When we communicate with him, he listens and guides ours step when we commit our ways to him.

As we enter his presence and seek him continuously, anxiety shrivels and hope rises. Despairs begins to fade and our hearts are fill with bliss. Terrible days or trial don’t stand a chance in God’s presence because he is the kind whisper that eases the mind and brings deep laughter.

God’s presence never runs out and we can enter it anytime.

God is a living God and in him there is love and hope. In him there is strength. Because God is all these, because these qualities are inherent, somewhere along your journey with Christ his joy and peace becomes your joy and peace. It’s an inner stillness that chooses faith over fear and trust over doubt. It keeps you going through the day and it’s the ultimate source, your life-machine and the sigh of relief that says, ‘I’m not okay but everything will be okay because of his everlasting pleasure and love.’

So maybe you feel spent and deflated. Go back to the source, which is Jesus.

I pray that God refreshes you, both emotionally and physically. I pray for joy in the good and bad times. Amen.

 

The Evidence for Jesus Christ

Some people become a christian through a spiritual feeling or an overwhelming sense of God’s love . Others are drawn to the faith by dramatic experiences or dreams. Many Christians read the Bible as children at home or in church. But there is usually a defining moment when a person chooses to follow Christianity for themselves. Although most Christians that I know have come to faith because of feelings and experiences, some found find faith because of studying the evidence.

Friends often say to me ‘people believed until science disproved it’ or ‘there’s no evidence for Christianity’. I will argue that Jesus’ death and resurrection cannot be disproved and that there is evidence. I know people who were curious and studied the evidence until they concluded that Jesus was real and did rise from the dead.

These are my main points:

  1. Jesus’ body was absent from the guarded tomb. The Jews would not remove it as they opposed Christianity, and this would make it look as if Jesus was really the son of God. The disciples would surely not remove it and engage in a lie.
  2. Hundreds of people saw Jesus die on a cross and 500 people saw him speak days later.
  3. Jesus was a real historical figure and therefore he was either the son of God, or he was delusional.

The historical information concerning Jesus always includes the fact that Jesus’ body was absent from the tomb that he was buried in following his resurrection. D.H. Van Daalen said, “It is extremely difficult to object to the empty tomb on historical grounds; those who deny it do so on the basis of theological or philosophical assumptions”. It has been recorded that the Jewish leaders admitted that the tomb was found empty, despite it being enclosed with a stone too heavy to move alone and accompanied by a guard. The Jewish leaders condemned Jesus to death because he threatened their power and religious views. Therefore, it is unlikely that they would lie about this, as this fact is critical to proving that Jesus escaped death.

Furthermore, the only other motive to remove the body would be to make it look as if Jesus had escaped death. This points to the disciples. If they had to remove the body to make it look as if Jesus was the son of God because it was a lie, why would they allow themselves and their families to be beaten and murdered for something they knew was a lie?

Hundreds of people saw Jesus being crucified. Fact. Jesus was a real historical figure. There is as much evidence for the realness of Jesus as there is for the realness of Caesar. It is a historical account that Jesus was crucified until death. Again, it is a historical fact that he appeared days later alive to ‘more than five hundred brethren at one time’ (Perman, 2007).  In addition, Christianity blossomed into a dominant religion. Many people argue that others claimed to be the Messiah, the living son of God as prophesied in the Old Testament, and therefore the disciples could have re-enacted and copied those attempts. Perman (2007) answers this: ‘In reality, serious scholars have almost universally rejected this theory since WWII, for several reasons. First, it has been shown that these mystery religious had no major influence in Palestine in the 1st century’. Thus, Jesus must have been pretty convincing to have started such a popular religion, adding truthfulness and reliability to these documents.

Every writer of the four gospels is resolute that Jesus died and rose again. This belief was not a figment of their imagination. They either wrote from first-hand information or eyewitness accounts (see Luke 1:1-3, John 19:35). If you’ve ever played Chinese whispers, you’ll remember that the real word of the game is distorted as it moves from player to player. According to William Foxwell Albright, one of the world’s leading biblical archaeologists, ‘ there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today’. Scholarly research suggests that the New Testament was written within the lifetime of those who witnessed the life and death of Jesus.

Finally, I would like to be make the point that if Jesus was a real historical figure then he was either the son of God or he was delusional. If you knew that you were not really the son of God, surely you would give it up when you were threatened with crucifixion, whipping, public humiliation and the torture and killing of your friends? Most people would not lie for this. They would have had to be delusional to truly believe that they were the son of God and allow such things to happen to themselves and their loved ones. However, if Jesus was mad, it is very impressive and surprising that a lunatic could gather so many follows and influence so many people.

Jesus, thankyou for dying on the cross. I pray that people experience your life-changing love this Easter and beyond. Amen.

By Ella Johnson

Happy Mother’s Day

Thankyou to all the mothers and mother figures who have shown nothing but love and kindness; and shown us what strength, courage and loyalty looks like. Thankyou for your prayers, words of wisdom and correction. Thankyou for speaking words of truth and light into our lives. Thankyou for bringing out our beauty and handsomeness, and for teaching us right from wrong. Thankyou for being an anchor; and for the joy and laughter you bring. We love and appreciate you. Happy Mother’s Day.

Praise Through The Pain

Whenever I read the Psalms, I’m surprised at how often David praised God. As a great king and warrior, he had many reasons to feel joyful. However, through his own wrong-doings and outside threats, David had every reason to feel sorrowful and anxious.

Instead of turning away from God, David poured our his heart to Him in the Psalms. He is transparent and vulnerable before God; his status as a king doesn’t alter his perception of God. David’s attitude of praise, even though times of pain, is inspiring and enlightening. Even when he afraid, doubtful and depressed, David fixed his eyes on God. He conversed with God. God knows everything about David and us, so it seems pointless to open our heart to him. The thing is, a relationship works best when communication comes from both sides. He knew this and throughout the Psalms, he spoke words of truth into existence. David worshiped God as the true King over everything on this earth (Psalm 22:28). He rejoiced because of God’s faithful love (Psalm 13:5); and he found pleasure and joy in God’s presence (Psalm 16:11). David didn’t praise for the sake of praising or compose beautiful music for fun. By glorying God and proclaiming all that He is, He submitted his situation to God. He chose to focus on God’s unwavering nature, and he committed himself to a lifestyle of praise.  David’s act of worship and careful choice of words was medicine for the soul, and most fundamentally, an expression of his faith and trust in God.

I’ve realised that my choice of words, especially during a tough time, are crucial. Words have significant power, and I want the things I say to change the atmosphere around me. I’m learning that when I go through a challenging situation, sharing it with God is the second step. The first step is about praising and thanking Him. Sometimes, when things fall apart around us, it’s easy to believe we have nothing worth giving thanks or praise for. This isn’t true. I know when life is painful, I can still give thanks, and I can still give praise, because I have a creator who loves me deeply; I have a God who sacrificed His life for me, and I believe in a God who knows my future. Through seasons of pain and darkness, I know that God has me in the palms of His hands, and I’ll praise Him because I know He is with me.

As you praise God with a thankful heart, I pray that you overflow with so much joy. Amen.