A personal psalm

I am currently undertaking a two year theology course run by the Diocese of Chelmsford, called Course in Christian Studies (CCS). We have been challenged to write our own psalm. I’ve really found the psalms a great source of comfort over the past couple of months. Prayers of praise, worship and lament written thousands of years ago are as relevant today as they were then.

But, in these times of lockdown, finding a quiet space to focus on God isn’t always easy. This morning I woke at 6:30am with the inspiration of the Spirit on my heart (and a sleepy household). God has a way of nudging us in the right direction!

This is my personal psalm:

Child of God

My Lord and my God, 
I praise you, creator of heaven and earth.
My Lord and my God,
I worship you, giver of life.
My Lord and my God,
I bow down before you, judge and defender.

And yet, you know my inmost being.
You know my heart and my joy,
my anxieties and my sorrow.
When I am low you lift me up,
you comfort and sustain me.
When I am on the mountain top
you are the guide who led me there.

You love me despite my failings.
You love me despite my flaws.
You love me despite my insecurities.

When I wander from your presence,
you never give up on me.
Your open arms welcome me home
with unconditional love.

You lavish me with grace,
again and again.
Like never-ending waves on the shore,
washing over me.

I am a Child of God.

100 days

101 days ago I returned from our annual visit to the New Wine summer conference in Somerset. Full of enthusiasm and feeling filled afresh with the Spirit, the next day I felt inspired to start a new reading plan. And so I embarked upon Bible in One Year.

Today I completed Day 100. I must admit, I wasn’t sure if I’d stick it out, as I’ve tried reading plans before and drifted off. But this time felt different. And it really has made a difference to my relationship with God. Every day he speaks to me through his Word in fresh, exciting and relevant ways. Verses leap out at me that seem hand picked for my circumstance.

If you’re not currently reading the bible daily, here’s a few tips get the ball rolling and keeping on track:

  1. Pick a reading plan. There are lots of plans available (check out You Version Bible app), and each reading comes with a devotional or commentary to help you delve deeper beyond the words on the page.
  2. Make yourself accountable. Why not get a friend to follow the same plan at the same time so you can discuss what you’ve read.
  3. Find a quiet place to read, without distractions.
  4. Make time every morning for your reading. It should be your first priority. It’s the best way to start the day. How can you put Gods word into practice if you’re about to go to bed?
  5. Pray before you read. Ask God to speak to you in new ways through his Word.
  6. Pray after you read. Ask God to help you put his Word into practice in the day ahead.

I found within a few weeks that my daily bible readings have become embedded in my routine. The Old Testament has been put into context in a way that I didn’t understand before. Psalms and Proverbs are offering daily encouragement and praise. Familiar New Testament parables and details of Jesus life, death and resurrection have new meaning and connection. 

I’m already wondering what I’ll do once I reach Day 366…

Bible in One Year

One of the things I have taken away from New Wine United this year is that I’m coming up very short when it comes to reading the bible. Although I’ve done many short bible study plans, I’ve never managed to read it all the way through. I’ve had a couple of attempts, but the busyness of life seems to get in the way. My initial enthusiasm wanes, I lose momentum, fall behind and ultimately give up.

But this time feels different.

Commit your actions to the Lord and your plans will succeed.
Proverbs 16:3 (NLT)

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Forgiveness is a life sentence

Listening to RT Kendall speak this morning on the subject of forgiveness has given me a lot of food for thought. I realise that my perception of what it means to truly forgive is considerably short of Gods expectation of us. I have some work to do, but today I stood up and made the commitment to forgive in a way that I haven’t in the past.

Joseph (Genesis 45) has shown us what it means to forgive, by graciously forgiving his brothers. There are many lessons to be learned on how he dealt with his brothers after the ordeal that they put him through several years earlier.

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9 Things I didn’t know about being a Christian

I became a Christian in 2009 after doing the Alpha Course with my husband at our local church. There were a whole series of events which lead us to that church and consequently doing the course, which I’ll write about later. But as I’ve been reflecting on my journey of faith over the past 10 years, it occurs to me that what I know now is vastly different to what I knew then. There were a lot of assumptions and misconceptions that I had. I occurs to me it might be helpful to my friends both in and outside of the church to share my observations. So grab yourself a cuppa, this post is a bit longer than usual.

They are completely my own views, and I’m sure some with have had similar experiences, and others not.

Before becoming a Christian I didn’t know that:

1. I wasn’t a Christian. 

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Fitness, faith and freedom

I can’t really remember what the catalyst was, but I had an underlying sense that I wasn’t getting any younger, and my fitness would only get worse if I didn’t actively do something about it. So in October I started running. I downloaded Runkeeper app on my phone to get me started and dug out my trainers (which hadn’t really seen the light of day since I had a gym membership in the run up to my wedding).

The app is very helpful. It gives you a summary of your run, where you’ve been, how fast you were, the distance you covered and even your elevation and heart rate. Over time I could see how my speed and stamina was improving. It gives you a little nudge when you haven’t been out for a while, and words of encouragement when you do.

But there was something thing that I hadn’t expected from my new found exercise routine. Faith and freedom. My life is full of routine; each week roughly the same with the daily commute, kids activities, church. But when I run I can go anywhere, wherever my feet take me. The options are endless and no two runs were the same. I love the spontaneity.

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Beaches and back seat drivers

We spent Saturday in Kent, skimming stones and paddling our feet in Whitstable Bay with the children and my lovely in-laws. I love the simplicity of the beach. Memories made with endless hours of fun. Sea, sky and pebbles as far as the eye can see. A time to be reflective away from the day-to-day routines and busyness.

Spending time on the coast always puts my life into perspective, and reminds me of the simple things. I find myself re-focusing on my priorities; precious time with my family and my relationship with Jesus. Like the stones on the beach, despite being so small and among so many others, I am comforted and reassured in the knowledge that God knows me intimately.

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Worship in the Spirit and in truth

They come along every now again – the crazy weeks where everything collides. You realise you’re out virtually every evening: Evening worship, Church AGM,  planning meetings. And then it dawned on me, not only was it home group on Thursday, but I’d offered to lead the session.

After work I hastily went through my iTunes worship collection and selected a contemplative favourite from Rend Collective, Simplicity, for us to open in worship with. We’d been looking at ‘thirst’ during our Sunday evening service, so thought I’d take the easy option and follow that theme.  I looked up a passage from John 4, ‘Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman’.  To be fair, I would have liked to have put a bit more thought into it, but time wasn’t on my side.

God doesn’t do coincidences.

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From the beginning… Fearfully and wonderfully made

Today is beginning of my endeavour to spend more time with God. To sort out my daily priorities and get them back in order. I’m full of enthusiasm right now, but I’m not naive. Life gets busy. And these posts may be more sporadic than I’d like, than He deserves.

God has placed Psalm 139:14 on my heart this weekend.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

How often do we praise God for creating us? We are not here by chance. God hand picked, crafted and formed each and every one of us. He knows are inner thoughts, our joy and sorrow, our fears and failings. I am in awe of this, and also slightly afraid of this notion! And yet he allows us to make our own choices and gracious scoops us up and attends to us when we fall.

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