The boundless love of God

Readings – Psalm 8, Eph 3:14-21

When I was a student in Dundee, I used to go for ‘stargazing stomps’ down to Magdelene Green to clear my head. On many crisp, clear nights, I would stop and gaze at God’s handiwork. It was awesome to look up and see the star-studded night sky.

The heavenly splendour that stirred the shepherd David so long ago, gripped me. Yet, looking at the vast universe made me feel incredibly small. I was just one little speck on planet earth, which itself was only part of just one solar system. As David wrote :

‘ I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, 

Your handmade sky-jewellery,

Moon and stars mounted in their settings.

Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, 

Why do you bother with us?

Why take a second look our way?’

(Psalm 8:3-4 – The Message) 

In this day and age, as we strive to feel significant in the crowd, as we struggle with feelings of low self-esteem, we too may wonder why God bothers with us.

But any thoughts of insignificance should vanish when we consider our status. For though just part of creation, we are children of the Creator! His hands that set the stars in space, that flung the planets into orbit are holding us, and moulding us and keeping us in place! Wow! We should be overwhelmed by the present reality of God!

This Creator God is our very own God. He not only bothers with us, He loves us – He really, really loves us, with a deep, unfathomable agape love. We have been ‘loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know’ as the hymn says. 

Paul wrote ‘And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God’ (Eph 3:17-19 – NIV)

David wrote ‘Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. How priceless is your unfailing love!’ (Psalm 36:5 & 7 – NIV)

God’s love is boundless. We will never fully grasp or understand it.  It goes beyond our dimensions. It just can’t be measured.

It is so wide that it encompasses the whole world.

It is so long that it can reach us just where we are, when we need to feel loved the most.

Its height is higher than our highs and its depths are deeper than our downers!

It is like a waterfall, deep and never ending from before time began to eternity!

Paul says ‘May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvellous love’ (Eph 3:17 NLT)

May we draw nourishment and energy for daily life as we meditate on the awesome love God has for us.

‘And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

‘God can do anything you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us’ (Eph 3:17- 20 – The Message)

‘How high and how wide

How deep and how long

How sweet and how strong

Is Your love

How lavish Your grace

How faithful Your ways

How great is Your love O Lord!’

Blessings,

Ruth x

 

*Edited from ‘It’s all about love’

In-between Right Now & Not Yet

Hope is my word for the year.

I’d almost forgotten all about it, but since September felt like a new beginning, hopeful thoughts were replenished.

I read about living hope:
‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’
‭‭(1 Peter‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

‘Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.’
(1 Peter 1:4&5 MSG)

We have everything to live for:
‘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)

Through Jesus we have new life that never ends:
‘And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.’
(John 17:3 ESV)

And here & now we’re trusting & believing the promise that Jesus will return. Now we’re ‘waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
‭‭(Titus‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

We have hope of eternal glory.

But not yet.

Just now, we may face

Life-altering diagnoses.

Life-shattering events.

Life-draining stresses.

But, ‘What is happening in your life just now is not going to last forever’ (Billy Graham)

‘In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.’
(1 Peter 1:6 NIV)

For a little while, we live in the space between the promise & its fulfillment.

For a little while, we live on planet earth:
‘What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.’
(James 4:14 NIV)

Just now, we wait for our living hope.

For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;”
(Hebrews 10:37 ESV)

C.S. Lewis wrote of Aslan’s return in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:
‘Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.’

‘Is everything sad going to come untrue?’ Sam asked in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

In a little while.

Not just now.

Not quite yet.

Just now, we’re in Narnia where it’s always winter & never Christmas. We long for Spring.

How long is this little while? It’s God’s perfect time & He works outside our time in eternity.

A little while is just a moment for the Ageless One to whom a thousand years are like a day.

It’ll be just the right time
‘You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.’
(Romans 5:6 NIV)

At Christmas, we celebrate ‘when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son’
(Galatians 4:4 NIV)

And in a little while, at just the right time, God the Son will return & truly be Immanuel (God with us)

‘And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
(Revelation 21:3 ESV)

Now we hold onto:

Faith
Hope
Love

Then,
All things will be made new.
Faith will turn to sight.
Hope will be fulfilled
Love will remain.

For God is love.

And God is forever.

God’s love flows from eternity past, grounded in grace.

This love makes the little while a little longer:
‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’
‭‭(2 Peter‬ ‭3:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Till then, between here & now & not yet, dare to hope, for:
‘The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.’
‭‭(Lamentations‬ ‭3:21-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

For these inbetween days, Jesus said:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 NIV)

‘Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God’
(J Oswald Sanders)

Between now & not yet,
For time & eternity
He will be our God forever
For He was before the beginning & after the ending.

And He promises:
‘Strength for today
And bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine,
With ten thousand beside
(Thomas Chisholm)

So, trust for a little while longer.

If you’re journeying through
Green pastures or dark valleys,
Still waters or stormy seas,
Hold onto Hope, for a little while longer

‘And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.’
(I Peter 5:10 NIV)

Blessings,

Ruth x

PS I’ve read the last page of The Book & it’s going to be ok:
‘He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.’
(Revelation 22:20-21 NIV)

Grace all the way from here to eternity.

Grace to carry us all the way from Just Now to Not Yet.

Amen!

Run to the Tower

We were at Glendalough today. We had some of St Kevin’s Coffee, walked past God’s Cottage to the boardwalk around the lower lake & gazed up past the tree line to the Spinc where we walked last time.

But the sight I love best at Glendalough is the Round Tower- built in the Middle Ages & still standing tall!

This tower & others like it remind me of the verse in Proverbs:

‘The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.’
(Proverbs 18:10 NIV)

He is the Tower we can run to when life hurts as these verses remind us:

*’GOD is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight. My God—the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout; My mountaintop refuge, he saves me from ruthless men.’
(2 Samuel 22:2-3 MSG)

*’For God alone my soul waits in silence; From Him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, My defense and my strong tower; I will not be shaken or disheartened.

Trust [confidently] in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us. Selah.’
(PSALM 62:1-2,8 AMP)

*’God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.’
(Psalm 46:1 NIV)

*’The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him’
(Nahum 1:7 NIV)

If you read the verse from Proverbs again, it’s the NAME of our God that is the strong Tower to run to.

‘Your Name is a strong and mighty tower
Your Name is a shelter like no other’
(Paul Baloche)

Years ago when the kids were younger, life was more balanced &amp & work was contained,friends & I gathered round the book ‘Lord I want to know you’ by Kay Arthur .It was a devotional study on the names of our God- Jehovah, Yahweh,the great unchangeable I AM. I still feel encouraged when I think back to the deep truths of God together:

Jehovah Jireh (Gen 22:8)The Lord who provides- all that we need

Jehovah Tsidkenu (Jer 23:6)-The Lord our Righteousness – who cleanses our sin- our deepest need of all

Jehovah Nissi (Ex 17:15)- The Lord is my banner- my leader & protector in battle

Jehovah Raah (Psalm 23) – The Lord is my Shepherd -who leads us through life

Jehovah Rapha (Gen 20:17)- The Lord who heals-& restores

Jehovah Shalom (Judges 6:24)-The Lord is peace -in stormy times

Jehovah Mekoddishkem (Exodus 19:6)-The Lord who sanctifies you – & cleanses our sin

Jehovah Shammah (Ezekiel 48:35)- The Lord is there – at all times

He is there. Always there when we need Him. Our invisible Tower of refuge , whether we recognise Him or not.

He is there, even when life seems too dark to see the Tower:
‘Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on their God.’
(Isaiah 50:10 NIV)

We can rely on Him for He has said:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head,
I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters,
you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end-
Because I am GOD, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. ”
(Isaiah 43:1-3 MSG)

When we are tired & weary, we must keep running toward the Tower.

We can run to the Tower, & know this truth:
‘You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my fortress.
But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.’
(Psalms 59:9, 16-17 NLT)

We can run to the Tower & cry from our heart:

‘Hear my cry, O God; Listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and weak; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I [a rock that is too high to reach without Your help]. For You have been a shelter and a refuge for me, A strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah.’
(PSALM 61:1-4 AMP)

Pray, in the words of that ancient Irish hymn:
‘Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tow’r:
Raise Thou me heav’nward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.’

Amen!

Blessings,


Ruthx

Death is dead!

Death is dead! It might initially seem like a strange statement. But on this Easter Sunday, it’s a very appropriate truth.

Today, more than any other day, we celebrate the fact that Jesus is alive!

‘And then on the third at break of dawn
The Son of heaven rose again
O trampled death where is your sting?
The angels roar for Christ the King’
(Hillsong-Anastasia)

The stone was rolled away.
The tomb was empty.
The angel gladly proclaimed, “He is not here He has risen!”

‘See What a morning!’ is a powerful song & its words inspired this post. The last verse triumphantly proclaims:

‘Death is dead
Love has won
Christ has conquered’
(Townend & Getty)

When Jesus cried ‘It is finished’ with His final breath, it was a declaration that He had completed His redemptive work.

He came to bring:

•Beauty instead of ashes
•Gladness instead of mourning
•Praise instead of despair
(Isaiah 61)

He arose, ascended & in now lives in resplendent glory in heaven.

‘Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.’ (Hebrews 7:25 NIV)

These are great words to ponder & cherish.

If we ask God for forgiveness, through accepting what Jesus has done, & trusting in Him, He will completely save us (The older versions say ‘save to the uttermost’) And now, Jesus ‘always lives’ to intercede for us. He is our Mediator. He liaises between us & God, acting on our behalf.

Jesus ‘always lives’:

‘Because he lives…
We can face tomorrow
Because He lives…
All fear is gone’
(Bill & Gloria Gaither)

Before He died, Jesus comforted His followers,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1)

Jesus also promised that He is preparing a place for us:
“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)

I believe He’s still preparing that place in His Father’s House, our Eternal Home even today.

As Keith Green said & sung:
‘ And if this world took six days and that home took two thousand years,
Hey man, this is like living in a garbage can compared to
What’s going up there!’

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)

Since Jesus conquered death, we can place our hope in God- not merely for this life- but for the next. Our hope transcends time into eternity. Death is not the end- it is but a shadow.

Because of Jesus’ triumph we can have a happy never-ending!

‘Everything sad is going to come untrue’
(Tolkien)

Today let’s worship the Life-Giving, Death-Defeating God who can give us the strength to keep going.Today & forever. Now & always.

Jesus said,”And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:20 NIV)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Bright beginnings

Spring has officially started- despite the rewind to the chill of winter today.

Daffodils are sprouting wildly along hedgerows & tete-a-tete in window boxes. Croci erupt across roundabouts in purple,white & orange. Lambs are bouncing in the fields- full of the joy of spring!

‘Look, the winter is past, and the rains are over and gone.
The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come’
(Song of Songs 2:11-12 NLT)

‘It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.’
(Rainer Maria Milke)

Spring is a very visual reminder of new life & bright beginnings. A whisper to our hearts that no winter lasts forever.

‘As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.’
(Genesis 8:22 NIV)

‘When spring comes it leaves no corner of the land untouched’
(CS Lewis- Miracles)

The Creator God who ushers in new seasons, who brings new life in to hardened ground in spring, can breathe new life to hardened hearts. His grace can give a bright new beginning after a winter in the soul.

If you have been weighed down by the pressures & cares of this life, God offers hope of a bright new beginning.

If you turn to God for forgiveness, He doesn’t just give a new start in life but rather a new life to start.God doesn’t just rearrange our life when we come to Him, He recreates it:

‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away;
behold, all things have become new.’
(II Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)

I was thinking of the simple but profound truths contained in a chorus we sang in Youth Fellowship :
‘I am a new creation
No more in condemnation
Here in the grace of God I stand’

‘Therefore, having been justified by faith,we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom also we have access by faith into this gracein which we stand,and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.’
(Romans 5:1-2 NKJV)

Don’t keep dwelling in the chill of winter – embrace the warmth of God’s grace this spring.

Rejoice in the hope of bright beginnings.

‘Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present.
I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out!
Don’t you see it?’
(Isaiah 43:16-21 MSG)

‘God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life’

(Psalm 51:10 MSG)

‘And now to him who can keep you on your feet,
standing tall in his bright presence, fresh and celebrating—
to our one God, our only Savior,
through Jesus Christ, our Master,
be glory, majesty, strength, and rule before all time,
and now, and to the end of all time. Yes.’
(Jude 1:24, 25 MSG)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Named not labelled

I’ve watched all the Disney princess movies- many more than once. Or twice! In our house we preferred the Disney Princesses with mischief in their eyes & sass mixed with sparkle (like Princess Merida in Brave or Rapunzel in Tangled)

We celebrated when Princess Leia became a Disney Princess.Our children were introduced to the epic adventure of Star Wars from a young age. I have cute photos of a little Luke Skywalker wielding a light saber beside our very own Princess Leia with blonde hair twisted into buns. Hours passed on the planet of make-believe.

Fairytales aren’t always sweetness & light & ‘happily ever after’ For every damsel in distress, & prince that’s trying to save her, there are witches, dragons, wolves & allsorts of darkness lurking!

The real-life stories of princesses (& actresses) are rarely straightforward & carefree.Carrie Fisher (the actress who played Princess Leia) struggled with drug addiction & Bipolar Disorder.

Carrie Fisher wrote in the Huffington Post:
‘At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.’

Sometimes we can feel smug & sorted about what we’re dealing with. A sense of pride when we feel calm & controlled.We can be functioning well despite emotional baggage & unwelcome diagnoses.We can project the best versions of our broken selves.

At other times we can be highly functioning but a little fragile just beneath the surface . We can feel we’re just one small tug on the thread away from totally unravelling.

As we journey through life unwanted labels are stuck on that we can’t take off.

Depression.Anxiety. Stress. Burn out. Anorexia.Psychosis.Bipolar.

The labels extend beyond mental illness to physical ones & our current status in life:

Single.Divorced.Childless.Bereaved

& to our children:

Autism.ADHD

In my day job I give labels & discuss labels given by specialists. Of course diagnoses have their place to aid treatment. But some diagnoses hurt & sting. They bring tears to our eyes & put an ache in our hearts.They can be life-altering & life-limiting .Some labels we give ourselves can affect us too. Energy-sapping. Growth-stunting.

After a brief moment of self-sufficiency we realise we’re haven’t got it all together.

Whatever our story, our struggle, our label,
We’re not doing life on our own.
We’re not holding on,
We’re being held.

Jesus’ words echo deep:
‘Apart from me you can do nothing.’
(John 15:5 ESV)

Without God we are like a dead twig. Lifeless. We couldn’t breathe-let alone get through a day without Him

As Jesus-followers struggling with mental illness & emotional health, we can’t function without:
God’s grace & strength
A supportive circle of family & friends
Necessary medication
Daily doses of God-Words
Conversations over coffee (talking to the right people)
Fellowship- being the church even when we don’t feel like it
Counselling to get us on track
Whatever else it takes -running reading,writing,caffiene,chocolate(…you name it)

And I’ll write it again-above all, we can’t function without God Himself!

He is close to the broken hearted (Psalms 147:3) He knows the  name of each twinkling star in our galaxy & galaxies far,far away. (Psalm 147:4)

Even more amazingly, He knows my name- He knows your name. He calls us by our name-  not only our first name but our true name, our new name given by God:
‘And I will give to each one a white stone, & on the stone will be engraved a new name that no-one understands except the one who receives it’(Rev 2:17-NLT)

God gives us names, not nick- names or derogatory names to pull us down but rather new names to build us up:

Precious
Chosen
Sought-After
Cherished
Truly Forgiven
Deeply Loved
Never Forsaken
Forever Blessed
Mine
Daughter of the Most High God

His perfect love casts out fear (1John4:18)

‘Fear calls out our doubts; God calls out our names.’(Bob Goff)

As we respond to Abba, calling our name, we will know that He is:

Always Faithful
Always There
Always Enough
{No matter what}

Our Good,Good Father knows our name & our heart, our struggles & our failures, yet truly loves us.

‘His love never runs away or wavers. It extends into all of those places where you feel most unloveable, where you can’t imagine he would want to go. Those parts of you that cause others to run away are the very parts of you that God runs toward.’
(Tullian Tchividjian)

‘The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.’
(Psalms 147:11 ESV)

‘If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.
He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.
Whenever you want to talk, he’ll listen.
He can live anywhere in the universe, and he chose your heart.’
(Max Lucado)

Blessings,

Ruth x

PS If doubt & fear seem louder than the voice of God calling your name listen to:

You say-Lauren Daigle
I am who you say I am– Hillsong
No longer slaves-Jonathan David & Melinda Helser
Good good Father-Chris Tomlinson

Behold!

‘Let the wonder never cease’

Behold: gaze on a remarkable thing

Wonder:a feeling of amazement & admiration, surprising curiosity

‘For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.’
(Isaiah 9:6 NIV)

‘His name is God With Us and we believe He is.’
(Emily P Freeman)

‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory,
the glory of the one and only Son,
who came from the Father,
full of grace and truth.’
(John 1:14 NIV)

‘He was created of a mother whom he created.
He was carried by hands that he formed.
He cried in the manger in wordless infancy,
he the Word,
without whom all human eloquence is mute.’
(Augustine)

‘God is in the manger’
(Bonhoeffer)

‘In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.
(CS Lewis -Chronicles of Narnia)

‘He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.’
(Colossians 1:17 NIV)

‘But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move’
(Andrew Peterson)

‘As he sleeps upon the hay he holds the moon and stars in place
Though born an infant, he remains the sovereign God of endless days’
(Bob Kauflin)

‘Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am’
(Buddy Greene / Mark Lowry)

‘Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the son of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King”
(Mendelssohn )

‘The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.’
(C.S.Lewis-Mere Christianity)

‘Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.’
(Isaiah 25:9 NIV)

‘Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!’
(2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV)

Come,let us adore Him!

Blessings,

Ruth x

The colour of Easter

We made an Easter tree & hung pastel coloured eggs on its branches -& Caris added a gingham bird cut from a Cath Kidston template & hand-sewn with love!

Last week, I stopped to look at some Easter cards en route to do some grocery shopping. Fluffy chicks & bunnies, cuddly bears with rabbit ears- on pastel green & pale yellow cards, with warm & cosy sentiments written on them.

I smiled at the cute pictures, then stopped & stepped back to do a quick reality check. These are not the real colours of Easter!

In the Wordless Book that we shared at Whizz Kidz, the colour of Easter is red.

Deep red. Crimson red- the colour of blood.
For, the real Easter is not fluffy & cute.
It’s torture. Brutal. Real.
Nails hammered deep.
Love deeper still,
Keeping Him on the cross.
Creator tortured by His creatures,
That he might bridge the chasm made by sin.
The Light of the World, totally eclipsed by darkness,
as the midday sun fell from its orb.

‘Hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered’(Graham Kendrick)

The Good Shepherd became the Lamb:
‘But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all’
(Isaiah 53:5&6-MSG)

On Good Friday, consider the only One good enough to pay the price for our sins.

He was punished that we may go free.
He died that we may truly live.
He took our sin,that we might gain His righteousness.
He took our shame, that we might know the hope of glory.

On this day, remember, because of Jesus, because of the cross:
‘He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west’ (Psalm 103:12-MSG)

And as the Casting Crowns lyrics say:
‘Tell me just how far the East is from the West –
one scarred hand to the other’

Blessings,
Ruth x

Glimpses of God

It’s felt like a long winter. But now, there’s daffodils in the vase, tete a tete on the doorstep & crocuses creating colour on local roundabouts. It’s that time of year when new life bursts from the dark ground & seemingly lifeless twigs.

In spring,more so than during other seasons, creation tells our Father’s story. For,

‘Our Lord has written resurrection not in books alone—but in every leaf in springtime.’
(Martin Luther)

The Greatest Artist’s brush strokes are majestically displayed at sunrise & sunset- from dawn to dusk.

In our simple daily life, God is closer than we think. Closer than we realise. As close as we want Him to be.

One night last year, sleep had eluded me. I was trying not to be anxious-especially as the preacher had proclaimed that worrying is a sin. Yet, as is often the case, God met me in my weakness, & gave me grace for that moment.

I looked up above through the velux window. The clear night sky was scattered with stars- the Milky Way twinkled right above our house!

I stargazed for a moment, & recalled a quote:
‘Don’t wish up on a star- pray to the One who made them!’

I smiled, grateful for the reminder.
‘He counts the stars and calls them all by name.’
(Psalms 147:4 NLT)

He also knows our names, our story, our joys & our troubles.

We have glimpses of God when we need strength, when we calm our troubled souls enough to see.

Two years ago I attended the Kingdom Women Conference at Willowfield Parish. Sunlight cascaded through the stain glass window as we began to praise. Powerful words that were new to me retold the familiar story & I caught a powerful glimpse of the God of Easter:

‘I cast my mind to Calvary
Where Jesus bled and died for me.
I see His wounds,His hands, His feet.
My Saviour on that cursed tree

His body bound and drenched in tears
They laid Him down in Joseph’s tomb.
The entrance sealed by heavy stone
Messiah still and all alone

O praise the name of the Lord our God
O praise His name forever more
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord, oh Lord our God

And then on the third at break of dawn,
The Son of heaven rose again.
O trampled death where is your sting?
The angels roar for Christ the King

O praise the name of the Lord our God
O praise His name forever more
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord, oh Lord our God

He shall return in robes of white,
The blazing Son shall pierce the night.
And I will rise among the saints,
My gaze transfixed on Jesus’ face’

{O Praise The Name (Anástasis)-by Hillsong}

Anastasis is the Greek word for resurrection – the audacious truth that Jesus died, trampled death, rose to life & will return one day soon.

Our God is God of life & death, Creator of resurrection & rebirth, Giver of Truest life- turning even the darkest winter of the soul to spring eternal

When we catch a glimpse of God, when we gaze into the truth of His Word, we find hope when things seem hopeless. We can grasp God’s unending love, no matter what:

‘And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—
not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
No power in the sky above or in the earth below—
indeed, nothing in all creation
will ever be able to separate us from the love of God
that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
(Romans 8:38-39 NLT)

Blessings,

Ruthx

Be a good one!

As you may recall from my post ‘Be all there’ I collect quotes. Another of my favourite quotes is:
‘Whatever you are be a good one’
(William Makepeace Thackeray)

Note the words read ‘Whatever you are‘ – not whatever you do.

So,what are you?

At a fundamental level:

‘You are more than dust & bones
You are spirit & power & image of God
(Shauna Niequist)

We are designed by God & carry His imprint in our daily lives.

We are His workmanship:
‘For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship),
recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew]
that we may do those good works
which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us
[taking paths which He prepared ahead of time],
that we should walk in them
[living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].
(Ephesians 2:10 AMPLIFIED)

Being good at what we are does include our occupation- those jobs that take up the bulk of our time & use most of our energy.

In our employment we are to have a good attitude that is counter-cultural:
‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord’
(Colossians 3:23 NIV)

‘The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.’
(Martin Luther)

To be good at our our vocations, we need to focus on our audience of One.
‘Integrity is doing the right thing when no-one else is watching’
(CS Lewis)

We will also have a lofty aim:
‘The smile of God is the goal of your life’
(Rick Warren)

But being a good one goes beyond our formal employment to reach into our multi-faceted lives, including our relationships. We are to be good wives, mothers, friends,encouragers,writers & members.

And especially today on UK Mothering Sunday, we need this reminder:
‘There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.’
(Jill Churchill)

I’ll admit there are many days when I don’t feel good at anything at all- & on those days I feel blessed to remember that I am not trying to earn God’s forgiveness by being good. Rather I am trying to walk worthy of my calling, in a life of gratitude for the forgiveness He has already given.

With God’s help we can be the best version of our imperfect selves- becoming all that He created us to be.

These words encourage me:
‘You can be much more for God than ever you know by just being yourself & relying on Him
Keep praying & playing & being yourself’
(Oswald Chambers)

Be yourself! Be the best you that you can be (with Your Designer’s help!) We don’t have to contrast our efforts to other’s attempts at being good ones (though comparison is our default setting)

‘We do not and will not all look alike. There is no cookie cutter mould for how we as women will serve our God. We each have our own story from where we came, where we are today and where we are going tomorrow.We are journeying together in this thing we call life.’
(Courtney Joseph)

We cannot be good at everything & we are not expected to do everything. We are called to do our best & be good at those things God has gifted us to do & planned for us.

Although we are different, we all have this in common:
‘We all have 168 hours in a week and one life to live.’
(Jessica Turner)

One life to live.

‘You don’t have a public life and a private life, you have one life, and it’s to be found in Christ’
(Christine Caine)

There’s no split between sacred & secular. In God’s eyes our life is undivided & unbroken. There is no segregation. He has given us the gift of one life, & the opportunity to live it well.

As we live to be good at what God created us to be, contemplate the words of A Worker’s Prayer:

‘Before You we kneel, our Master and Maker;
Establish the work of our hands.
And order our steps to seek first Your kingdom
In every small and great task.
May we live the gospel of Your grace,
Serve Your purpose in our fleeting days,
Then our lives will bring eternal praise
And all glory to Your great name.’

(Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, Jeff Taylor, and Stuart Townend; © 2012)

Blessings,

Ruth x