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San souci {no worries!}

Last summer we strolled around the grandeur of San Souci- in Potsdam outside Berlin. San Souci was the summer palace of Frederick the Great (King of Prussia)It’s just a short carriage ride away from his New Palace where he could showcase his wealth & power to the world.

Sans Souci is a French phrase meaning without worries or concerns. King Frederick planned to reside here carefree -leaving worries behind.

If only it was as easy as that! You & I know that worries can cling to us & fester in our minds -whether at home or on holiday.

Wherever we are, worry can overwhelm us & strangle our growth – as Jesus said in the parable of the Sower:
“The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it.”
(Mark 4:18-19 MSG)

Worry can unsettle & distress us. We can be tossed & turned by the storms of life. Jesus knows us so well & still loves us.

He gently asks,”You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:26)

When we’re stressed by worries, we can forget that the Controller of the cosmos is so close. With just a word He calmed the chaos:
“Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”
(Matthew 8:26)

The One who quietened the waves can quiet us:
‘He will quiet you with His love’
(Zeph 3:17)

‘You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.’
(Isaiah 26:3 NIV)

We can breathe deeply & declare:
‘You are with me’
(Psalm 23:4)

Trusting in Him, we can live sans souci:
‘Don’t fret or worry.
Instead of worrying, pray.
Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers,
letting God know your concerns.
Before you know it,
a sense of God’s wholeness,
everything coming together for good,
will come and settle you down.
It’s wonderful what happens
when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.’
(Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)

In contract to the smothered seed, we can be nourished & flourished:
‘But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.’
(Jeremiah 17:7-8 NLT)

So,
‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’
(1 Peter 5:7 NIV)

‘Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.’ (1Peter 5:7 MSG)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Love made me do it!

I’ve been brewing some perspective- one coffee shop at a time. A visit to Slim’s Healthy Kitchen on Belmont Road Belfast added more perspective. It’s a great place to get healthy food- like tuna steaks & quinoa with the option of finishing off with an enormous brownie (for those of us with chocoholic tendencies!)

As we waited on our food, the writing on the wall said:
‘Love made me do it’

I would have taken a photo but I would have had to stand at an awkward angle!

Love made me do it. Or to transpose it into Biblical language, ‘Christ’s love compels us’ (2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV)

Or to paraphrase:
‘Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.’
(2 Corinthians 5:14 MSG)

The Bible speaks eloquently of the ubiquitous love of God. Indeed, in 1John 4:17 it declares ‘God is love’ Love is the very essence of God.

Throughout life we waste time looking for love in the wrong places-especially when we are feeling insecure within ourselves.

‘You are uniquely loved known & called by God.This is the bedrock of your security in the world.’
(Ken J Costa)

St Therese of Liseux stated, ‘It isn’t enough to love; we must prove it’

God has proven His everlasting love for us:
‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’
(Romans 5:8 NIV)

‘God loves us as we are, not as we think we should be’
(Dr Michelle Bengston)

We are made in God’s image & He is love. Furthermore, He poured his love into our hearts (Romans 5:5 NIV)

We need to soak in this deep truth & what it means.

‘You are loved. Rest in your God-breathed worth’
(Sarah Bessey)

What a huge difference it makes when we can live like we are loved by the Most High God!

‘Live loved!’ Lysa Terkheurst wrote. Two little words with life-altering meaning.

We can never fathom the utter dimensions of God’s love. But if we grasp even a small amount of His love for us, this will make us love others.

When we ‘live loved’ we will realize that we will never lock eyes with another human who isn’t loved by God or made in his image.

Living loved leads to living a life of love:
‘Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.’
(Ephesians 5:2 NLT)

What does love look like?
‘Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

Love never gives up,
never loses faith,
is always hopeful,
and endures through every circumstance.’
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT)

The following words also challenged me when I read them in a devotional:
‘God’s love is unconditional, and He calls us to love with that same kind of love … even when it is not returned.
We cannot manufacture this kind of love. It’s a fruit of God’s Spirit. It dwells within us because God indwells us.’
(Wendy Blight- First Five)

Clearly, love is not just a feeling or airy emotion. Love is a verb!

I fall so short of what I should be, of what I’m commanded to do. I find it difficult to love many of those whose paths cross mine on this journey. At times I’m so wrapped up in my own issues that I find it difficult to love full stop.

Yet, the Word of God says:
‘Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.’
(1 John 4:7-8 NIV)

‘Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.’
(1 Peter 4:8 NLT)

‘Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.
(1 Peter 4:8 MSG)

This brand of love comes from God alone who pours it from His heart to ours.

Only With His help can we live loved & live a life of love in return.

‘May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.’
(2 Thessalonians 2:16,17)

‘And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.’
(1 John 4:16 NIV)

Blessings,

Ruth x

One page at a time!

This is a year where I plan to do less scrolling & more reading!

Yet I’m so guilty of tsundoku – the act of buying a book & leaving it unread- often stacked with other unread books!

Although I read a lot of posts and articles on the web, I was very disappointed with myself having only completed 10 books last year( especially since there’s plenty more still on the bookstack!)

Many find time to read so much more:

Claire Diaz-Ortiz can read 100+ books a year as well as looking after 3 tiny kids!

Of the books I read in 2017:

*My favourite non-fiction was Simply Tuesday by Emily P Freeman followed by Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

*My favourite fiction was All the light we do not see– a beautifully written story of a blind girl &Nazi boy in war-torn Europe.

The most difficult (though inspirational) read was The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts ( A young mum of four diagnosed with breast cancer- now at Home)

Out of sorts – making peace with an evolving faith by Sarah Bessey struck a chord with me.(And she’s speaking at the From where I stand conference in Bangor NI next month!)

I abandoned my Little book of Hygge after I almost cried in the downpours in Copenhagen last summer! I switched to Lagom -the Swedish art of balanced living. Just the right amount of everything!

The most enlightening book was The Road back to you – a painfully accurate path to self-discovery using the ancient wisdom of the enneagram. I’m a type 1 on a good day rapidly morphing into a badly behaving type 4 on a bad day- desperately hoping to become a better version of myself in 2018!

For inspiration of what (& what not) to read this year:

10 Fantastic books – Emily P Freeman

Best books of 2017 – Michelle Cushatt

The rights of a reader– illustrated by Quinten Blake

Reading better than before – Gretchen Rubin –

10 rules to read more books this year– Joel J Miller

How (not) to read next year-Jon Bloom

‘I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading. How much sooner one tires of anything other than a book!’
(Jane Austen)

‘You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.’ (CS Lewis)

So lets read through 2018 one page at a time!

Blessings

Ruth x

PS What’s on your book stack?

Be You!

Another Royal Wedding is just around the corner. An estimated 2 billion people around the world watched the best of British pomp & ceremony when Prince William married Kate in 2011.Several commentators remarked that Prince William’s bride walked up the aisle as a ‘commoner’ -Catherine Middleton, but emerged as future Queen of England.

One thing that struck me, was the opening quote during the wedding address by the Bishop of London:
‘Be who God meant you to be & you will set the world on fire’ -St Catherine of Siena

Powerful words for anyone, on any occasion!

Powerful words because they are true, echoing several Bible verses:

‘Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t’ (Rom 12:6 MSG)

‘Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself.Don’t compare yourself with others.’ (Gal 6:4 MSG)

Yet, so often we DO compare ourselves with others- & we are so pre-occupied with trying to be like them, that we are not doing what God has designed us to do.

We are hand-made with love by God, & ‘It is in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for’ (Eph 1:11 MSG)

And when we think of who we truly are in Christ, we realise that we are no longer ‘commoners’, but children of the King of kings (Wow!)

Often I get frustrated by myself – when I look inside, I am not who I want to be & fall short of what I hope to be.

‘We are all a little broken. We don’t need more varnish. We need a carpenter’ (Bob Goff)

‘God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be.’ (Brennan Manning -Ragamuffin Gospel)

So, ‘Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion. God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth. Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life.’
(Brennan Manning)

Blessings are ours because we are His!

So,‘Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can do with your own life’ (Gal 6:5 MSG)

‘Be yourself-everyone else is taken!’ (Oscar Wilde)

‘Be you- the world will adjust!’

‘Be who you are, and not who you think you cannot be.’ (Claire Diaz-Ortiz)

Let’s be who God created us to be.

Let’s be focused on that truth rather than getting distracted by damaging comparisons to others!

Why?
Because ‘the smile of God is the goal of your life’ (Rick Warren)

‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.’
‭‭(Ephesians‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

‘How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.’
‭‭(Ephesians‬ ‭1:3-6‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Not our home!

Farang!”

I jerked out of my jet-lagged stupor

Farang!” the Thai lady repeated as she pointed to the passport queue in Bangkok airport.

Farang is the Thai word for foreigner. I’d heard it twenty years ago in a village off the beaten track near Manorom in Central Thailand. Back then cute Thai children smiled & pointed at my pale skin,freckles & curly hair & called out ‘Farang!’

In South-east Asia I was a long was from home & was definitely a foreigner!

Post-Brexit we are considering our nationality & citizenships -Northern Irish, British , European & the implications of each label.

Just after the apparent upheaval, of the Referendum, I read :
‘But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ’
(Philippians 3:20-NIV)

We as Christians need to shift our axis, for ultimately, our citizenship is in heaven.

So, let’s ‘Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.’
(Colossians 3:2 NIV)

As I followed my reading plan, I read these prophetic words:
‘They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings- and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.’
(Revelation 17:14 NIV)

Our God is still on the throne. He has always been in control. He is Lord of lords, & King of kings. He’s got the whole world in His hand- that includes you & me, our wee country , our malunited kingdom, splintered continent & the entire broken planet.

I was reminded of the Bible study of the book of 1st Peter last year. A central theme in this book is that God’s children are sojourners or temporary residents here. Aliens in a foreign land!

As Billy Graham said:
“My home is in heaven. I’m just passing through this world.”

In the Hall of Faith we read that Abraham lived as a stranger in a foreign country, ‘For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.’ (Hebrews 11:10 NIV)

Wherever we live here, whatever our country or city, we are eternal beings with body & soul:

‘I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy; the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.’
(CS Lewis)

Home is often more than bricks & mortar. It’s the place where we belong.

‘Home is a physical space; it’s also a state of mind’
(Gretchen Rubin)

I believe that home is not a place or space but a Person.

At an OMF Conference in 2013 the speaker concluded:
‘Our lives are a journey & God is our home’

He echoed these ancient words of truth:
‘Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.’
(Psalm 90:1-2 )

The Eternal God is our heart’s true home, our dwelling place, our refuge

The cross is our only way home. The only way to ‘the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time’
(Titus 1:2 NIV)

‘Though I am broken
Grace is my welcome home to You’
(Rend Collective)

‘Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”
(John 14:23 NIV)

‘Home is where Jesus is’ was the slogan written on the roof of a makeshift home in a refugee camp photographed by Open Doors

In Him we have ‘Never-ending joy, never-failing love.’
(Rend collective)

In this journey we call life,

‘Our father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns
but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.’
(CS Lewis)

For,
‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.’
(1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT)

‘We were made to run through fields of forever
Singing songs to our Savior and King
So let us remember this life we’re living
Is just the beginning of the beginning
Of this glorious unfolding

We will watch and see and we will be amazed
If we just keep on believing the story is so far from over
And hold on to every promise God has made to us
We’ll see the glorious unfolding’
(Glorious unfolding-Stephen Curtis Chapman)

Life here is as restrictive as the bud before the blossom, as limited as the cocoon before the metamorphosis into a butterfly!

This world is not our home- we’re just passing through. There will be trouble & tears, illness, disappointments, upheaval, wars & rumours of wars.

But, ‘Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.’ (Thomas Moore)

For, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’
(Revelation 21:4 ESV)

This world that we’re passing through is ultimately passing away:

‘The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace’
(Chris Tomlin -Amazing Grace)

As we journey through life:
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.’
(John 14:1-3 NIV)

‘You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.’
(Psalms 16:11-ESV)

Don’t ever forget:

*‘Our citizenship is in heaven.’ (Philippians 3:20-NIV)

*‘Our lives are a journey & God is our home’

Blessings,

Ruthx

Get a life!

-i.e. live the life you were designed to live!

Life.

Sometimes all IS calm, all IS bright.
Sometimes life is wonderfully beautiful.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel remotely wonderful or beautiful.
Sometimes I feel like life is like being a hamster on a wheel – moving frantically but getting nowhere fast.

We work harder & harder, & the wheels turn faster & faster.

This frantic existence is sustainable short term. Trying to do it all. Trying to do more . Trying to do it all better.But unexpected circumstances or pressure knocks us sideways.

Sometimes we can anticipate a trouble looming. Sometimes we feel like we’re tossed right into a storm. Sometimes an avalanche of responsibility crushes our optimism.

Our life can feel satisfactory- acceptable though not outstanding. We can feel disconnected & flat. Like we’re living in black & white rather than true colour. Like we’re surviving not thriving. Coping-just about

Donald Miller wrote ‘Stop reacting to life & start living with intention’

And if we live intentionally -it often means deliberately choosing to do less-rather than more

There’s a German phrase weneger aber besser . The English translation is less but better . Quality, not quantity.

Greg McKeown wrote a book entitled Essentialism:
‘Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.’

‘Doing the right thing is far more energizing than simply doing anything and everything. We only have one life and this life is too important to waste by being busy.’ (Christine Caine)

So how can we redeem our one,solitary, precious life from the default setting of busyness?

*Recharge

When we’re feeling overworked & overwhelmed the best thing we can do is slow down & stop.

‘Just as our phones have a certain capacity, we each have a unique capacity level. Our capacity depends on our personality, our experiences, and our seasons of life. People and events are constantly draining us, and we must recharge and off-load our excess or risk shutting down altogether.'(Alli Worthington-Breaking Busy)

‘Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a while… Including you’ (Anne Lamott)

We need to unplug & unwind. To create space in our days in our minds & margin in our lives.

In our Maker’s instruction book He decreed that we should have a day of rest in every seven- not as a luxury but as a necessity for us to function. Quality downtime is not wasting time.

*Reflect

When you’re unplugged & unwound, consider these questions. Write down your answers for future reference.

(1)What has God entrusted to me?

What are the things only I can do?

I think this is a very useful question.I’m recognise that I have been entrusted with the task of nurturing my children. I also need to be the life-partner my husband needs me to be.

You may have been given a career or a role in church that you know is a God-given assignment. Not everyone has the gifts, talent, experience or qualification needed.

Though I may not have chosen to be work full-time in previous seasons, currently using my training & degree in the practice entrusted to me is something only I can do.

Writing to try to encourage others on this journey of life is also something I’m meant to do.

What are the things in your life that only you can do?

(2)What things should I stop doing?

Purposely edit your life-don’t drift along. We have the choice to say yes to the things we are assigned to do, & no to other non-essential things.

‘The decisions remake determines the schedule we live’
‘Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances’
(Lysa Terheurst-The Best Yes)

I need to stop wasting time eg limit time on social media.
I may need to say no the good things in order to have time to do better things.
I need to stop expending energy on negative relationships.

What do you need to stop today?

(3)What brings joy & encourages me to live well?

Carve out time with those you love.
Do more of what makes you happy.

That’ll look different for each of us. For me that means being in the great outdoors with my family, running, reading & writing .

How can you thrive?

*Reconnect

Reconnect with your Designer

‘Sure-the world says you are what you do. But the Word says you are Whose you are. And what we do ultimately flows out of who & Whose we are.’(Ann Voskamp)

The life we were designed to live has God at the centre. He is our source of strength, our Grand Designer & Saviour of our soul.

The way to truly get a life is to surrender it to the One who created your life & sustains it.

Let Him take control:
“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”
(Matthew 10:39 NLT)

Jesus said, ” I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
(John 10:10 MSG)

‘It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.’
(Ephesians 1:11 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.’
(Romans 12:1 MSG)

Whatever else you do, carve out time to recharge,reflect & reconnect this week

Blessings,

Ruth x

Nourish your soul

At last year’s Worldwide Convention in Bangor, Sue Trenier spoke about her work as a missionary in Papua.For 25 yrs she had worked translating the Bible for the Hupla people.She showed a video of the great celebration on the day this tribal people received the completed translation of God’s Word.

There was dancing & feasting & drums. And tears of joy. Overwhelming joy & uncontrollable delight at having God’s Word in their own heart language.

My eyes brimmed.When was the last time I had expressed uncontainable joy about God’s Word?

There were also tears as Sue recounted going into a Christian Bookshop here & seeing the Bible in so many translations while it’s estimated that 1.5 billion people are still waiting for the Bible in their own language.

The Bible is a truly precious book:
‘The words of the Bible are the very words of God our Creator speaking to us. They are completely truthful; they are pure; they are powerful; and they are wise and righteous. We should read these words with reverence and awe, and with joy and delight.Through these words God gives us eternal life, and daily nourishes our spiritual lives.
(Preface to Daily Devotional New Testament)

I needed to read that again to let the truth sink in.

I have the very Word of God in several translations in my bedroom- yet how often I do not see this as the Treasure that it is! Being honest, I often choose to read Facebook newsfeeds or emails instead.

Yet,God has given us this amazing life-changing gift for our spiritual transformation & health.

In my New Year mindset I’m determined to get healthier & run more. My ASICS trainers are already pounding pavements & trails.

The brand ASICS is an acronym for the phrase ‘anima sana in corpore sano’ It means a ‘healthy soul in a healthy body’

That sounds like idyllic perfection! But it’s not a new concept. In the New Testament John wrote:
‘I pray that you may prosper in every way and that your body may keep well, even as I know your soul keeps well and prospers’ (3 John 3-AMP)

CS Lewis said,‘You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body’

Our bodies are our outer wrapping- our souls are the very essence of our being.

Just as we look after our bodies, we need to feed our souls.

How do we nourish our souls?

Psalm 1 mentions those ‘whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night’ (v2)

‘That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.’(v3)

What a lovely picture of vitality!

If we nourish our souls, our whole lives will flourish from the core of who we are, from who we were created to be!

We need to ‘delight’ in God’s Word- to soak in His truth & replenish our spiritual energy.

Jesus said in John 15, “Remain in Me” or “Abide in me” –like the vine & its branches. Staying close to God is the key to a healthy soul.

Close to Him, our soul flourishes & we are vibrant & fruitful.
Apart from Him, we can do nothing- like a dry twig- separate from the main plant.

We can make our own individual choices for a healthy body, but a healthy soul comes from abiding in Him & finding true rest there.

‘Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.’
‭‭(1 Peter‬ ‭2:2-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

How often I’m content with ‘junk food’ (eg reading Christian books or blogposts)rather than ‘pure milk’ of God’s Word itself. I am distracted.

‘We can become so unfocused in life that we get lost in the unforgiving wheel of daily tasks & fail to listen to the voice of Christ. We fail to pray/fail to see him as intently listening & drawing near to us. God feels distant because we are distracted. Yet he seeks us’ (Reinke)

God wants to meet with us & shape us .

He wants us to truly be there {undistracted} when we read & enjoy spending time with the Author

Whatever plan or devotional we’re using this year, God wants us to slow down enough to hear Him speak into our lives,to allow Him to minister to our soul.

Spending time with God & His Word can have eternal impact on our daily lives.

‘By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by your righteous order. Everything’s falling apart on me, GOD; put me together again with your Word.’
‭‭(Psalm‬ ‭119:105-106 MSG‬‬)

‘Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.’
‭‭(2 Timothy‬ ‭3:14-17‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

Blessings,

Ruth x

PS

I found these posts helpful {though I know there’s no substitute for just reading the Word!}

What God can do in our daily devotions

Deep Bible Reading Strategies for the tired & busy

Why I stopped reading the Bible alone

Why you need a ‘ Plan Be’ for your Bible reading this year

Twinkle

I’ve been thinking about this verse recently:

‘For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’ (2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV)

Let the amazing truth of this verse sink in:

God the Creator of light,
the Father of lights ( James1:17)
who spoke light into being
has sent His Son to be the Light of the world (John 8:12)
But also, He has shone His light into our hearts
that we might reflect Him.

The light-creating power of God is within us!

The God who created light, the sun, the moon & the stars has shone His light into us! The God who created the stars wants us to shine like them!

‘Shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life’
(Phil 2:15,16 NIV)

I asked Google, ‘What makes stars shine?’ The astro-physics baffled me, but basically it’s enormous energy from within!

So, if we are shining like the stars, it’s the light creating power of God is within us! It’s not really us that shines-it’s Him through us!

A few verses later Paul writes:
‘But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.’ ( 2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV)

It’s the powerful Light of the world in us that makes us shine! We can’t all be supernovas or shooting stars, lighting up the entire night sky in a blaze of glory! But we are to twinkle where we are at.

The old hymn simply states:

‘Jesus bids us shine…
You in your small corner
And I in mine’

It doesn’t matter much where your small corner to shine is located- whether it’s in an office, a hospital, a classroom, a shopping centre, a youth centre, or even & especially at home.

Jesus bids us shine.

We don’t need to compare ourselves to the superstar next door. We don’t need to wish (upon a star!) that we were in a different part of the sky-maybe closer to the Plough, or the North Star-where our twinkling might be admired by many more. For the God who determines the number of stars & calls them by name (Psalm 147:4, Isa 40:26), sees us shining where we are at. We always have the audience of One-the only One whose opinion matters

You are where you are at, not by mistake, or mishap-but by design, the ultimate Grand Design. Just as the stars shine in specific places in the night sky to form constellations, God has specifically placed us where He has chosen in time & space:

‘From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; & He determined the times set for them & the exact places they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him & perhaps reach out for Him & find Him, though He is not far from each one of us’ (Acts 17:26,27)

God has placed you where you are at, at this moment, for such a time as this, to shine. Your location & position in life is unique.

‘You are where you are for such a time as this- not to make an impression but to make a difference’ (Ann Voskamp)

What difference can we make?

The difference between darkness & light, night & day- all the difference in this world, & the next!

‘Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night’ Philippians 2:14-16 (MSG)

Jesus said: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
(Matthew‬ ‭5:14-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

‘You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world’ (Matt 5:14 MSG)

We are to be a rainbow of multicolour against the blackness of our sin-ravaged world.

So, ‘Don’t shine so others can see you. Shine so that through you others can see Him’ (C S Lewis)

Blessings,

Ruthx

Be!

Rather than New Year Resolutions, I like to assign a word for the year.

Last year my word was Run, & I wrote Run your race

This year my word is ‘Be’:

Be yourself

‘Be who you were created to be’

‘Be who your family needs you to be’

Be the change

Be brave

Be real

Be authentic

Be present

Be a blessing

Be the gift

Be the light

I want ponder on these truths & more in 2018 & beyond!

I love this quote:

‘You can be much more for God than you ever know, by just being yourself & relying on Him. Keep praying & playing & being yourself’
(O Chambers)

What’s your word for the year? Get some inspiration from Oneword365

Blessings,

Ruth x

Run YOUR race

Originally posted July 2017

This year my word for the year is Run – literally & metaphorically!

In the past week, despite the craziness of work I’ve ran 3 firsts:

Last Saturday I ran Ireland’s flattest half marathon at Clontarf for the first time. It was flat but the vital detail of 4 miles running on beach was omitted ! I didn’t get a PB but almost (Those who know me best will know I am disappointed with 2:02) Maybe next time!

It’s the first HM that I’ve been given doughnuts after – & they measured the distance in km rather than miles just to confuse me!

On 4th July I ran my first virtual race- 7km at 7 am for Tribe #run for love for human trafficking. I know I am truly an upholder as per Gretchen Rubin’ s four tendencies. I completed it in pouring rain through huge puddles with soaking feet ( & absolutely no one was watching-thankfully!)

On Friday I ran the Round the Springs 10k at Greyabbey. It cleared my head for sure – & there’s a vey unflattering photo of me on their Facebook page to prove I did it!

I’m not going to break any records or reach the podium!

I run so I can keep calm & carry on

I run so I can eat more chocolate!

I’m not expecting to run an ultra run or 100m sprint anytime soon.

But I run my race

As I’ve been pounding the pavements, I’ve been thinking about ‘Run your race’

With emphasis on your:

Run YOUR race

I first read this phrase on Claire Ortiz-Diaz’s blog

The phrase appears in the New Testament:

‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners run [their very best to win], but only one receives the prize? Run [your race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours!’
(‭‭1 Corinthians 9:24‬ ‭AMP‬‬)

We need to run our race not others. We can’t compare our race to others & we don’t have to run like them- we just need to run the best we can with the ability we’ve been given

We need to focus on where we are at, our stage & season of life, and :

‘Run the mile you are in’
(David Willey)

‘Run your race. Do your work, not someone else’s. Don’t allow envy, spite, ego, or greed to derail you.’
(Todd Henry – Accidental Creative)

We need to get rid of any thing that hinders our race, holds us back or distracts us.

‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.’
(‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1&2 NIV‬‬)

‘You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience?’
(‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:7MSG‬‬)

We need to focus on Jesus who began & finished our race. He is like a pacer guiding us through the race:

‘To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.’
(‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:21‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

During races, runners are aiming for Personal Bests – the best time that they have ran for that distance. In this ultra race of life we need to do our creative best:

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”
(‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:4-5‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

As we run, we need a positive mental attitude:

‘Clear your mind of can’t.’
(Samuel Johnson)

‘You must do the thing you think you cannot do.’
( Eleanor Roosevelt)

Or as the Bible says:

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
(‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

“I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose–I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]”
(‭Philippians‬ ‭4:13‬ ‭AMP‬‬)

‘We were made to run’
(Jen Hatmaker)

‘So I run with purpose in every step.’
(‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭9:26‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Blessings,

Ruthx