The Human Heart

God is for you. God isn’t against you. He grieves the things that have hurt us, the people who did despicable things to us. He fights for us so to breathe truth into our lives where others may have spoken evil things over us. There is so much suffering in this world and man in his finite mind thinks if he were God he or she could fix the world in an instant. Heal all those sick children, strike down those who murdered. Man? What would you do? Would you be as just to your relatives as you would be to a stranger who committed the same crime? If it were all in your hands, would your world be fair? Would you heal the sick child of someone who had taken the life of yours? And how would you deal with your own wickedness? Every thought you had to steal or a flash of wanting someone else’s home, possessions, spouse? Every time you’d lied or used someone’s else’s body for selfish pleasure and discarded them like rubbish or your relentless thoughts of revenge. The times you tossed a coin in a cup but didn’t bother to even look at the person holding it or like me even crossed the road to avoid them. All the times you did the very opposite of lift up and encourage friends, colleagues, strangers or loved ones. Our disputes with neighbours, keying someone’s car, wishing someone dead. So are the depths of evil in our hearts and we haven’t even got to the crimes that break earthly laws.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23

You talk of how God, in all his power would make it a perfect world. We, mankind, are so far gone, in every way. Our hearts are evil beyond repair. Even the very ‘best’ (aka sinning in ways that don’t seem as bad or obvious as others’ sin) of us fall short of a Holy standard.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9

So God looks at the world he made and the people in it, he sees the sin and darkness in our hearts and He comes, the Word made flesh. The only one, perfectly sinless, who could take the sins of the world. And this he does in his death at the cross; stripped, beaten and bloodied by men and it didn’t stop there, worse still, the unthinkable, God’s wrath against our sin violently came down on Him. Jesus is plunged into darkness, God’s love taken away from him, absolute spiritual torture and agony and all so that through him he makes the only way for us to be right with God. He lovingly gives us a choice to accept salvation, the free gift of life in him so we never have to remain in eternal darkness with God’s face turned against us. All the sins of all people, everything we ever did, thought and said and will do, think and say, all our deserved punishment came down on Jesus. Because God is a god of justice, sin is dealt with, it’s not ignored or covered up.

“But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” Acts 2:24

And God raises him because death has no power over him and only in him and through him we walk freely and free into new life with him, where our sins have been exposed by his light, the light of the world. No longer slaves to sin, no longer ruled by guilt, shackled by shame, harassed by anxious thoughts and all the ways sin permeates and wreaks havoc in our bodies, minds and spirits – ultimately ending in eternal death, both physical and spiritual, an eternity in the absence of God’s love, holiness, gentleness, truth, justice, peace, life, light, mercy, grace, hope, healing, comfort, kindness, joy.

“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

John 3:20-21

When God’s holy, wondrous light blazed over me, it was the first time I saw myself as I am. Not the good or kind person that I thought I was but his light exposed the very depths of my nature and in an instant I saw that I was the worst of the worst. I understood I was wicked to the core but also God’s perfect love was pouring over me, his amazing grace poured over a wretch like me! Sinner that I am I was loved and because of the cross nothing can ever stand in the way of his love for me. “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12 and he has made me new “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

We no longer scurry about in the darkness, oppressed and in bondage by sin but are born again. We are given new hearts, hearts that are able and desire to do the will of God, hearts that have tasted and are filled with the goodness of God and so grow day by day repulsed by doing, thinking, saying anything not of God. Jesus went through the hardest unimaginable journey so we could easily come home to him. This is the love of God, this is how much he loves every single person on this planet. This is love.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

I Love the Church – Blazing Light

The end of Summer came too soon last year and the main reason for this was the incredible beach mission we went to every day for two weeks. There were events for all the family and holiday clubs for children aged 0-18. My daughters happily skipped to their groups; sang songs, learnt dance routines, did crafts. There were parties, water fights, family fun nights, children’s choir performances and so much more. One fortnight, over ninety volunteers, a hundred and forty hours of free activities and hundreds of children attended.

At one of the afternoon events a volunteer, who had been involved with the mission for three decades, stood and spoke to all about the love of God in Jesus Christ. We were all outside and it was a beautiful summer’s afternoon. My son was running around at the back and as I was trying to keep up with him, I looked up and the big tree in the middle of the grounds was ablaze and all I could think was “this fire can be seen for miles around”, God’s love blazing in communities through the church.

“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Ephesians 3:10-11

Wake up Singing

Jesus wakes me up singing and one of the songs last week was Underneath My Feet (Red Rocks Worship). As I sang this song I remembered there was a time in my life when I would wake up crying, such was the angst in my heart. A time when I used to cower to darkness. A time when I had no control over my natural desire for anything and everything that raged against God. A time when the effects of traumas had such a grip around my heart that, unknowingly to me, they wreaked havoc on every aspect of my life. A time when I couldn’t sleep for night terrors, fear by night and fear by day, fear even over imagined things. Relentless. And the war is still on but now I have Jesus. At one word it all flees.

When flashbacks terrify, when panic grips, fear freezes, terrors haunt, there is only one name, one name that heals, one name that floods with peace, one name that rains joy, one name that has all power over darkness. Jesus.

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD” Psalm 40:2-3

30.10.19

‘Stained Glass’ Cards

A4 card (250gsm)

Craft knife

Metal ruler

Acetate

Glue gun and glue

Pencil

Tracing paper

Permanent marker pens

Cut card in half

Centre score each piece

Fold to make x2 A6 cards

Open card face up

Mark rectangle – 2cm in from border

Cut tracing paper and trace/freehand

Cut out acetate 13.5x9cm

Tape acetate over the tracing

Colour with markers then outline in black

Open card and secure with glue gun

John 3:16

I first heard the good news watching Jesus of Nazareth on an old VHS tape that a family friend had left at our home. I was 4 or 5 years old and at the crucifixion tears began rolling down my cheeks. Deeper than the horror of the scene, there was something about what this mysterious man did that moved me deep in my soul. It wasn’t until my mid twenties I crashed to my knees alone in my bedroom, the without-reason-hollowness in my soul so suffocating that all I had left was to cry out to the Lord. He came for me. I’ve heard the good news written on an advertising lorry parked on the side of a motorway, I’ve heard it on toilet cubicle door graffiti, on a comedians audio cd, on the underside of Forever 21’s bags and during times when people make fun of the cross. I sit and watch in quiet amazement how my children eagerly request “the one where Jesus dies” in the storybook bible. I watched how a son delighted in sharing the good news at his dad’s funeral. As a bishop spoke at the royal wedding at the weekend, millions of people heard the good news.

GOD LOVES YOU. The source of love, love himself. Loves YOU. Love so big that no earthly words could ever describe. He is the one you are searching for. He is the missing piece. The refreshing breath. And the best surprise of all is that all along we think we’ve been the ones searching but all along it’s been God pursuing us with powerful galaxy shattering relentless furiosity.

Whether you hear the good news and shuffle uncomfortably in your seats, laugh at the absurdness, roll your eyes, raise your eyebrows, whether you are religious or not religious, on a spiritual journey, whether you have mocked or mock Jesus, whether you are a good upstanding member of society, whether you’ve never done a single thing right in your life. Whether you mumble through the Lord’s prayer on autopilot or have never heard of it. Whether you’ve never set foot in a church or when you do you just want to bash your head against the pew in front because. this. endless. droning. from. the. vicar. is. really. never. going. to. end. Whether you’ve been forced into a religion, escaped one or weren’t brought up in one. Whether you’ve been jaded by oppressive religious authorities or told God doesn’t love you because [insert any number of reasons a human can hatefully control another human]. If God has not measured up to your expectations, if he’s never answered you or you want nothing to do with him. If you’ve openly or secretly hated all the god bothering and bible bashing nonsense you come across. If you don’t know the commandments or if you’ve done or not done some or all of them. If you don’t understand how God let those people get away with the things they did to you or someone else. If you are angry, hurt or strong. The homeless, the hungry, the accomplished, the terminally ill. If you just feel nothing. If you feel it’s too late. If you are filled with lead-heavy guilt and shame. If you are entangled in a web of deceit right now. Whether you are caught up in the occult or dabbled with the demonic. If you are harassed and held hostage by fear, if you can’t find the way out. If you are just plain tired. The adulterers, the losers, the Mr and Ms perfects, the rich, the lost, the lonely, the religious scholars, the confused, the broken, the charitable, the imprisoned, the good souls, the addicted, the famous, the forgotten and ignored. Who ever you are, where ever you are, what ever you are doing right now, whatever you have done or not done YOU ARE LOVED and this is for you, his love can not be earned but it is a free gift to receive.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

Light in the Darkness

My daughter needed a Halloween themed costume for her ballet class, she described what I should make and said she wanted it to be really, really scary. Her costume was at an early stage where it could have gone two ways – light or darkness. She was adamant on darkness as it was more scary.

“You know….” I said “you know what is more terrifying than anything?”

“What?”

“Light shining in the darkness”

“Why?”

“Because when light shines in the darkness it exposes EVERYTHING and THAT is terrifying”

This simple conversation made it hit home to me the power and freedom we have been given in Christ; the incredible gift we have received that saves us from stumbling around in the bondage of utter darkness to walk free and fearless in everlasting light.

We are all born separated from God; spiritually dead. We live in total darkness, deafness and blindness. We go from having an inkling that something isn’t right within us to total brokenness and questioning about who we are. We wrestle with confusion, fear, guilt, shame. No coincidence that all these feelings are rooted in and only produced by lies. I’ve heard people talk of living with some or all of these crushing burdens and in some cases don’t even know why.

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” John 3:19-21

It’s no good measuring ourselves against people who have done worse in our eyes and concluding “well I’m a good person” because when we truly see ourselves in the full light of perfection Himself, God who is pure holiness, we ALL fall short. (Romans 3:23)

“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5

I spent a lot of my teenage years and twenties out clubbing. We’d spend ages listening to music and getting ready and drinking, making sure we didn’t cross that fine line that would result in a bouncer not allowing us in. Once inside, thumping deafening music would leave ears ringing for days and the only communication possible would be a signal to your friends that you were going to the bar. More drinks led to more loss in vision but then from across the room you see him. ‘Wow’ you think ‘who is this guy and why didn’t I notice him before!’

You stumble through the dry ice and blackness and shout into each others ears. Quickly breaking the pact you made with your friends, only an hour before about sticking with the girls, you spend the rest of the night dancing as if you and this man have suddenly been superglued together. Then the dj announces the last song of the night and as you admire the hottest human being you’ve ever seen standing in front of you, the lights come on. Now you see the truth and so does he!

Jesus didn’t come to condemn us but to free us, to rescue us from everlasting darkness and take us into everlasting light, bringing us from death to life. To free us from the bondage and punishment under the power of sin to having freedom and power over sin.

When we come to light himself, all our deeds are exposed, we see clearly who we are, who we have been, where we have been, who we were made for and where we are going. The truth shines so bright that all the lies are exposed. And because of what Jesus did for every single one of us at the cross we are not left terrified but met with loving open arms filled with grace. Amazing grace! And through the resurrection we are given new life, born again, not of flesh but of spirit. When we choose to receive this gift we are instantly sealed with the Holy Spirit, we have God Himself dwelling in us.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of Godchildren born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” John 1: 9-13

God always gives us the freedom to choose, love always does and God is love. We can go on in futile attempts to cover our sin ourselves, working to be a good person or we can receive God’s incredible gift to us and rest in full confidence, covered permanently by Jesus taking it all for us at the cross. Do we go on in darkness or do we turn to him?

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Make a Windmill

A few mornings ago my daughter came rushing upstairs with two icecream sticks and a piece of paper saying that she wanted to make a windmill. 

We sat together coming up with ideas and different designs and this is the result. Really simple and quick to make. It has now become the centre point to build further constructions around with building brick toys and has been named “The Windy Willow Windmill” 

You will need –

  • 1 small paper fastener (width – 2mm)
  • 100 craft lolly sticks (11cm x 1cm)
  • 2 icecream sticks (length – 9.5cm)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
  • Drill (with 3mm wood bit)


1. Start with 4 lolly sticks and build a square base using the glue gun to secure the corners



2. Build up to 11cm high, occasionally glueing a row upright instead of flat. Leave to set.


3. Take 10 lolly sticks and glue them side by side as shown above. Make 4 sets of these panels.

4. Once glue is set, take 2 panels and glue onto the tower to form two sides of the triangular roof. 


5. With the remaining two panels, use the glued roof sides as a guide and mark where to cut to make the panels for the front and back of the roof. 

6. Cut x2 triangles with scissors and glue one panel to the back side of the roof. 

7. Take the two icecream sticks and position them as windmill blades, mark the centre point and drill through. Glue together making sure to avoid the drilled hole.


8. Cut two 2cm pieces of lolly stick and take the remaining roof side and glue them in place; central and halfway down  (as shown above). 

9. Take the blades and attach between the 2cm pieces with the paper fastener leaving it loose enough to spin. Secure the fastener at the back with the glue gun.

10. Glue the front of the roof in place.