Tag Archives: God

Blog Bible Study

4 May

I’m back! Sorry I haven’t been posting with BBS for a few weeks but things have been hectic. I’ve been reading the chapters even though I haven’t been posting.

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Chapter 13, “A Heart That Makes A House A Home.”

I loved this week’s chapter. I’ve always loved making my home welcoming for visitors, but more recently I’ve been focussing more on making it a home for Josh and me. I especially love the idea of making the home a haven for my husband…somewhere he’ll look forward to coming home to. This chapter made me think again what that means, and reminded me that it’s not all about the house being tidy and welcoming; It’s all about me too. If he comes home and has me nagging in his ear straight away, that’s not going to make a very welcome haven is it?!

The Business of Building — To gain a better understanding of what it means to make a house a home, write out Proverbs 14:1 :

 The wise woman builds, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands

Creating the atmosphere. As we start, take the temperature of your own home. Share a few words that describe typical daily life under your roof:

Normally I’m up and out before Josh is awake as I work days and he works nights. I’ll nip back home at lunch and normally straighten out the house a little if I have time.
Josh will do the dishes in the afternoon before I get back from work. If Josh isn’t working we’ll spend the evening together. If he is working, and I haven’t got other things on, I’ll spend the evening cooking and clearing up the house.

Now look up the scriptures and check the ones that you most need to apply in order to build your home into all that you and God want it to be….

  • Proverbs 15:1 : A soft answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger
  • Proverbs 15:13:: A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken
  • Proverbs 16:24 :: Pleasant words are like honeycomb sweetness to the soul and health to the bones
  • Proverbs 31:26 :: She opens her mouth with wisdom and on her tongue is the law of kindness

These four verses stuck out at me especially. As I mentioned before I feel like I need to remind myself {daily} that to make our house a home for Josh I need to NOT be a crazy nagging housewife. It really means a lot to me that our house is tidy and in order, or I just feel a bit stressed. If I come home and the house is mess I have a tendency to snap and complain at Josh straight away. I need to stop and ask God to help me have a cheerful countenance; normally the house isn’t too bad anyway!

A Heartfelt Prayer – Lord, just for today, help me make my house a home by…..having a cheerful attitude while making my house more of a haven for my husband and for others who visit.

I have loved this chapter girls! Can’t wait to see what you thought…

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The devil makes work for busy hands

26 Apr

I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “The devil makes work for idle hands”, but just recently I have become convinced that the devil uses busyness just as much as idleness to distract us from following God with all our hearts.

Although Christians don’t like to admit it, I would guess that most of us struggle spending time with God, reading our bibles and praying. We can often feel guilty that we’re not doing it enough.
Over the last few years God has been helping me develop my quiet times…

…or in other words – I’ve actually been doing them regularly.

However, I still go through times {such as the last few weeks} when things get super busy and spending time with God seems to be put on the back-burner. This time, after a couple of hectic weeks when I was also ill I asked God to teach me how to continue to follow him faithfully even when things were super busy.

Here’s what I learnt:

1. Be disciplined

Oh yeah…you knew that one was coming right? It’s completely obvious but oh so hard!

God gave me a verse from Psalm 15 to cement this in my mind…

Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?…he who keeps his oath even when it hurts”

As one lady from church says “anyone can march for Jesus when the sun shines”, but surely the real test of our faith and commitment to God is in those times when it’s not easy. If we’re still passionately following God even when things are going wrong then that cements our relationship and makes it real.

Now, I know that everyone has ‘seasons’ in life. There’ll be times when we can dedicate real time to in-depth bible study and prayer and other times when things are done more on the run, but I think as Christians we’re very good at making excuses for not spending time with God. We need to look at our hearts and at our motives. I know in my heart that if I examined my ‘busy’ days, there are still times when I manage to snuggle down with a novel for 15 minutes – why not spend that time sharing with my best friend, saviour and God instead?

2. Know where our energy comes from

If we need to find an example of a busy person, Jesus is a good person to start with. His ministry was a constant onslaught of teaching and needy people. So how did he deal with it?  In Luke 4 and 5 we see that Jesus went to a solitary place and he prayed. He knew that his energy, strength and power came from God so he went to him to talk about his ministry.

I get frustrated with myself when I forget this. I’m having a super busy day and I just end up forgetting to ask God to help me and so I do things in my own strength which makes things ten times worse. In the busy times spending time with God is probably more important – and yet so often we neglect it.

3.  Be fruitful, not busy.

The bible 100% advocates doing work for God and keeping busy, so don’t think that I’m suggesting we all sit around idle…

HOWEVER, I was reading again the story of the Vine and the Branches in John 15 the other day and it struck me…

What is the sign of God working in someone’s life?

Fruit.

Not busyness.

If you’re using your gifts to serve you likely will be very busy, but if you’re not listening to God and just getting involved in anything and everything you might not be fulfilling your God given role to the best of your ability.

We {and by this I mean ME} need to discern what God is telling us to do and be ready to say ‘no’ to people who suggest we do other things that in the end might end up making us super busy, but not super fruitful for God. We might seem like we’re indispensible and oh-so-helpful around church but if we end up sacrificing our personal relationship with God in the long run then, as Psalm 127 puts it, we’ll be “working in vain”.

Quick Questions

1. What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Anything to add?
2. Do busy times drive you closer or further away from God?
3. How good are you at saying “no” when it’s required?

Why am I discouraged?

8 Apr

Why am I discouraged? Why am I restless?
I trust you!
And I will praise you again because you help me, and you are my God.

These are the words that have been circling round my head for the last few days. They’re from Psalm 42 – did you recognise them?

This is a Psalm of a discouraged man…”My tears have been my food day and night…even my bones are in pain”.

While you might not be in fear of your life, I’m sure most of us can relate to these words sometimes. Things just get on top of you and you just want to give it all up and escape for a couple of years days.
Both Josh and I have been a bit fed up recently. I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been ill and that we’re both super busy with work. It’s been all too easy for us to moan about things…as we drag ourselves out of bed in the morning still feeling as exhausted as the night before, or as we receive another work email or phone call on our day off. Our favourite pastime has become planning our summer holiday and saying “Imagine when we can just stay in bed as long as we want!”…or “We’ll get to walk in the mountains and know that we don’t have to go to work the next day!”

However, I listened to a sermon on Psalm 42 last week and I was struck again by the words of the Psalmist as he gives himself a little pep talk:

Why am I discouraged? Why am I restless?
I trust you!
And I will praise you again because you help me, and you are my God.

I only need to look at the photos from my camera this week to know how good God is.

I have an amazing, wonderful, lovely husband who works very hard and who loves me very much.

I have the best job. I get to work with my best-friends and have a front row seat to see what God is doing in Aberystwyth every day. 95% of the time it gets me out of bed in the morning with a spring in my step.
We had our Review and Preview this week and it was SO encouraging to see how much God is blessing our church and how much he has done in the last year. (and everyone liked my burger cakes!)
I would highly recommend that you read our report here.

We have wonderful friends who feel like an extended family. This week it has struck me again how blessed we are to have a group of people around us with whom we can share so freely. With our bathroom out of action we’ve been using other people’s showers all over town, but it hasn’t felt awkward at all because we’re so used to just popping over and walking straight into their homes anyway. We know (and they know in return) that we are cared about and that we help each other out when the needs arise.

We had a really good training day with the police for NightLight. They couldn’t have been more encouraging, helpful and positive about what the churches in our town are doing through NightLight. When we see how much God has provided and grown this project we can’t help but be excited.

These are just four things, amidst many others that lift my spirit. So just like the Psalmist, this week when I am feeling down I am reminding myself of God’s goodness and rehearsing to myself the blessings which we have received.

It’s not long before we’ll be leaving Aberystwyth and St Mike’s behind us, and so instead of being downcast we need to be making the most of the opportunities and experiences still open to us here in our last few months.

Quick Questions

1. What makes you feel discouraged?
2. What encourages you when you’re feeling downcast?

Blog Bible Study #6

16 Mar

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Hi BBS girls! I can’t believe it’s Wednesday already – this week has flown!

Chapter 6: A heart that follows

This is just one of those chapters that you know is going to challenge you before you even begin reading it. Submission definitely doesn’t come easy!
However, I did have a little bit of an issue with this chapter. I agreed with what she said, but I thought she was treading a fine line of getting the word ‘submit’ and ‘obey’ mixed up in her final point about responding to your husband’s words and actions positively.  I understand (and agree personally) that as women we often have a tendency to say “no” to our husbands too much, but for her to be encouraging us to always say “sure!”  to our husbands requests almost takes away the wife’s ability to think. Submission doesn’t mean that we follow our husbands on auto-pilot, as I mentioned in last chapter’s study; it’s all about team work. I realise that maybe she didn’t have time to go into all of this, but I think the woman does have an important role in advising her husband in a godly way, and the way she worded it made it sound like we just have to say yes to our husbands whatever he asks (as long as it’s not unbiblical). Maybe I’m being too harsh and nit-picking…what did you girls think?

Anyway…what does the bible say about submission?

Ephesians 5:22-24
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Colossians 3:18
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Titus 2:5
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

1 Peter 3:1
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives.

Choose a positive word of response – Ok! Despite my earlier point I actually I think I say no to Josh way too much. Sometimes I don’t even have a good reason to say no, but it just comes out without much thought.

Ask of each word, act, and attitude, “Am I bending or bucking?” I am a massive control freak and I’ve recently realised that I don’t really trust Josh to do things, even though he’s perfectly capable and often better than me anyway!
I really need to trust in him more in the things he does and the decisions he makes for our lives. I think that I need to think more before I answer Josh too. My immediate reaction is to buck against his suggestions, but if I train myself to keep silent and pray for God’s guidance I know that I would realise that most of the time it’s not worth kicking up a fuss!

Make a commitment to revere and respect your husband. Ask of your attitude, “Am I demonstrating respect for my husband?”
I would hope that people seeing me would think that I respect my husband, but I know I could do a lot better. I think it’s important for wives to curb their tongues because it’s very easy to nag and embarrass their husbands in public.
I also want to make more of a commitment to put Josh first and listen to him when he’s excited or upset about something rather than getting distracted by the busyness of life.

I do not give Josh enough credit for how amazing he is. He deserved my respect!

Hearing from God about anxiety

12 Mar

I wonder whether you ever feel anxious? Have you felt fearful as you have watched the footage of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan? Do you ever worry about your job, or your relationships or what you will do with your life?

You may remember that I wrote a post about fear back in January. Although it’s something that I’m dealing with I feel like anxiety might be a temptation that I’m battling against for the rest of my life. However, God really gave me some encouragement on this subject last week and I want to record it for myself to remember as much as to encourage you too.

I’ll start from the beginning…

In my mentoring sessions we’re going through the book ‘The me I want to be’ by John Ortberg. One of the exercises from our last session was to take note at several times in the day how you were feeling emotionally and spiritually. It came to my attention that I often felt anxious or nervous.
I couldn’t even put my finger on why. It was if my head knew that there was nothing to be concerned about but my body felt like I was anxious [tense muscles, nervous feeling in the stomach etc.]

Anyway, last week I woke up with a start because I’d just dreamt that I turned round in my office chair and our resident homeless man was in the office looking at me. It was a very short dream and he didn’t do anything but I knew he was there with a bad intent. I proceeded to lie in bed half-asleep thinking about all the things that could happen to me when I’m in church on my own.

Suddenly, as if a bucket of water had been thrown over me I snapped awake and heard the Lord say ‘why do you think you feel anxious when this is what you fill your mind with.’

The next day I was at work and decided to listen to a sermon on anxiety from Philippians 4. I didn’t know what the verse was but several things jumped out at me immediately.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

I know both of these verses but I never actually realised that they were written together. It was God again reminding me of the point he had made to me the night before. When I feel anxious I need to be giving everything to God and trusting that he will sort out the situation for his good.
But more than that… I need to be constantly filling my mind with what is pure, lovely, praiseworthy, excellent and admirable, not dwelling on the things that scare and worry me. I think in theory I was trusting God, but I was still keeping a little bit of the stress on myself so I could prepare myself for worst-case scenarios. However, I can never truly have the peace of God if that’s what I’m filling my mind with.

I’m still processing all this but I am so glad for this prompting, correcting and encouragement from God and I’m hoping I can continue to work on this temptation to be anxious along with him.

Quick questions

1. Are you still reading?! Phew, this has been a long post
2. What do you tend to feel anxious about?
3. Has God ever told you something so clearly you just can’t miss it?!

Dreaming of the city?!

11 Mar

Now, I know that normally at this time of week you’re probably waiting for me to post some nice photos of open countryside from our day off but I’m afraid this week you’ll have to be disappointed.

In a break from tradition, this week we visited the CITY!

Horrific, I know.

Actually it wasn’t that horrific. We went to visit some of good friends down in Cardiff and it was a really lovely time catching up with them.

I can’t really remember how much I’ve mentioned our move in the summer. I think I probably got over enthusiastic about the fact I’M GOING TO BE A VICARS WIFE and forgot to tell you about any of the details.

Well, here is one big fat annoying detail:
We’re going to have to live in the city for three years.

How will I surrrrrrviiivvvvvvve?!?!

Josh will be attending a college in Cardiff in South Wales. On our visit yesterday our friends were able to show us round the area in which we’ll be living.

Histrionics aside, it actually seems like a nice city to life in. We’ll be in the ‘posh’ part and it actually had a pretty nice village feel.

 

(source)

If you can ignore the main roads that is.

Basically it’s all just a means to an end and I know I have to just suck it up and get on with it. Three years isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things (not sure I really believe that!) and then hopefully we’ll be able to move somewhere more rural. I’m just not sure whether it will send me slightly insane. I’ve only ever lived in towns where you can walk and be in open countryside within 15 minutes maximum. I’ve lived by the sea for 12 years and I HATE DRIVING.

(source)
Okay – before I start hyperventilating lets look at some of the positives:

1) It’s nearer my family and I’ll be able to hang out with them much more often
2) We’ll be able to go bowling, the theatre, go to a cinema with more than one screen and do lots more ‘cultural’ stuff.
3) We’ll hopefully be living in a house or a flat with more than one bedroom which means we can have visitors! (very exciting!)
4) There will be public transport that doesn’t take at least 3 hours to even get out of Wales.
5) ummmm
6) Can anyone help me out here?

I’ve been reading through Numbers over the last month. One thing that struck me was the Israelites’ grumbling in the desert. Even though God provided for them nothing was good enough and they grumbled continually and as a result God was not happy with them.
I need to remind myself that we’re the same. The whole reason we’re moving to the city is because God has provided for us and he has enabled us to go to this college and then hopefully we’ll be able to do rural ministry for the rest of our lives. I need to make sure I’m not grumbling about God’s provision for us.

That aside…I won’t be changing the name of the blog anytime soon.

Blog Bible Study #5

9 Mar

Even if you’re not taking part in the Blog Bible Study and you normally skip over the ‘God stuff’ on my blog please read this post! I want to know what you think!

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Recently, lots of people have been asking me what I want to do with my future. Quite a lot of those people have looked at me a little strangely when I have replied ‘I want to be a vicar’s wife’.

This chapter (for those that haven’t been joining in) is all about how we can be servant hearted – specifically towards our husbands.

I know so many women, and a few men actually, who have huge problems with women being described as a man’s ‘helpers’ in the bible. They see that as sexist, chauvinistic and that it demeans a woman’s role in society.

I don’t know if you noticed that yesterday was International Women’s Day. Josh mentioned to me an interview he heard with a woman who was bemoaning the fact that women often have to stay home and look after children and that it was harming the advancement of women in society.

Now, I don’ t know if it’s my upbringing, my character or the fact that I’m not career driven but I can’t understand that point of view  at all. I have no problem in seeing myself as a helper to my husband. I would challenge anyone who thinks that the bible doesn’t describe the roles of men and women being equal, because it definitely does! (ask me about it in the comments if you disagree).

Anyway, sorry for the rant – but I feel quite passionately about this. I’m not a model wife by any stretch of the imagination but I do truly desire to support my husband in what he does and that’s why I describe myself as wanting to be a vicar’s wife.
You often hear horror stories about how stressful being a pastor is and how it can break apart families and marriages. I don’t want that to happen to us. I don’t want Josh to be burnt out. I want to be a support to him and create a home which he can come back to and feel loved, cherished and refreshed.

Having said that, being selfless and supporting in this way isn’t easy, and that’s where we come back to the root of this chapter.

Service

1) Make a commitment to help your husband. As I’ve already said I want to commit to serving my husband and supporting him in his role as a (trainee to be!) vicar. We’re a team and I truly believe that God has called us into this together. It may seem completely un-PC to want to be a woman who creates a home and a lifestyle which is a haven for my family and for others that are in need rather than to pursue a career, but that’s what I want to do!

2) Focus on your husband. But in reality how can I really fulfil that commitment? It’s going to be hard because it means putting Josh before myself and that just doesn’t come naturally! I guess it becomes easier when you realise each other’s gifts and see yourself as a team working towards a common goal. I would be rubbish at getting up and preaching and having to be with people all day long, and Josh’s gifts don’t lie in admin cooking and homemaking but if we work together we make up for what the other lacks.

3) Ask of your actions: Will this help or hinder my husband? I really liked this section and thought it applied to every relationship. Will what I say build up or break this person emotionally? There’s so many times that I choose to say or do something that is selfish and it isn’t helpful to Josh. I especially think it’s easy for me to nag him. Sometimes it’s okay to ask him to do something and to push him for his best – but nagging never gets anywhere.

At the end of the day if any relationship is working at its best it’s a give-give situation. Although it’s not the reason we should serve, if the relationship is working correctly both parties will be serving equally. It’s not as if the husband is constantly taking, sitting around with his feet up while his poor harassed wife runs everything. He will be loving and serving his wife to the same degree as she is helping and serving him. Like I say, it’s all about teamwork!

Even if you’re not taking part in this BBS I would love to hear your views on the role of women. Please let me know if you disagree with what I have said, I am genuinely interested in what people think!

Blog Bible Study #4

2 Mar

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In this section titled “Two Kinds of Hearts,” we contrasted the disobedience of King Saul with the obedience of David.  Make notes on these instances of Saul’s disregard of God’s commands through His prophet Samuel. 

In 1 Samuel we read the story of Saul becoming King. Several times God gives Saul direct instructions, and several times Saul disobeys God. In 1 Samuel 13 we see that Saul disobeys out of fear. He thought his and his men’s life was in danger and assumed that he knew best; even though God had already given him clear instructions through Samuel.

As a result of this (and other) disobedience God rejected Saul as king.

The fact that you are reading this book and doing this study indicates your desire for a heart that obeys.  So…it’s time for some honest personal application and heart searching!  Can you think of any situations in your life when you are making excuses about your disobedience?  Or blaming someone else for your disobedience?  Or obeying God only halfway? 

I often justify my actions in light of how other people act. For example, if my husband is being really grumpy and frustrating I’ll consider it okay to be un-loving back! One really important thing that I have realised is that concentrating on a personal relationship with God is key. If I am taking notice of how I act in situations, aim to be Godly at all time and leave the other people up to God I automatically become less judgemental, less controlling, I take things less personally and I’m less likely to treat others badly. 

Read 1 Peter 2:1 and begin a list of heart attitudes and behaviours that hinder growing a heart of obedience.  Which, if any, are hindering the growth of your heart?
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind.

Hmmm…probably hypocrisy. I often get frustrated with people for doing things, make judgements and or say harsh things when actually I make mistakes too (shocking I know!). Just because that person has done something wrong doesn’t give me an excuse to hold a grudge. For example, my husband is amazing. He helps me round the house loads and he’s really romantic. But sometimes I just snap at him because I’ve had a busy day and I think that he should have had time to do some chore or another. However, I need to keep it in perspective. He’s had a busy day too…and everyone sometimes has quiet days where the chores don’t get done.

Read 1 Peter 2:2, Ephesians 4:15-32, and Colossians 3:1-17, for heart attitudes and behaviours that enrich your life as a Christian.  What one or two areas would you like to cultivate?

Therefore,as God’s chosen people clothe yourself  with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
That sounds like the woman I would like to be!

This week has been crazy for me, so I’m sorry I haven’t done all the questions today but I have really liked this chapter. I’ve been especially challenged about not sinning even when other people provoke me. It’s not an excuse.