This Christmas, Knock!

God holds all things together.

Tonight I am incredibly humbled. God has the supremacy. He has created all things – He is king!

What other king leaves His throne? What other king leaves his glory to God?!

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There isn’t a single person on this earth who hasn’t been lost. We are all seeking something. We find ourselves distanced and alienated. We were also once alienated from Christ – unable to stand in his perfect and holy presence due to sin. But through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been presented as holy and blameless – no longer do we face accusation for the things we have done, nor are we seen to have any blemishes in our character! What kind of love is this?!

This is our God! He is a God of love and a God of truth. It is historically accepted as truth that Jesus walked this earth. We have evidence, manuscripts and documents. But the question is, who do you say He is?

I thank God for continuing to reveal himself to me – He has changed my life! A God who was once an invisible, distant power has been made known to me through Christ Jesus. As I’ve delved into his word (the bible) and opened up to others, talking and asking questions, I have been filled with knowledge of who He is. This knowledge produces faith, which produces endurance, strength and a thankful heart – all which allow me to keep going, no matter what struggles I face in this life.

He has come out to rescue us from the dominion of darkness that we are in. Don’t let yourself stand in the way of this. You to can encounter the most life-changing love! You to can learn to forgive yourself, to trust God to take care of the things that are worrying you and most importantly, have the great mystery of who God is, revealed to you!

I pray that each and every one of you this Christmas will walk through the door that is being held wide open for you. Come because you don’t know what to think/believe but you want to find out more. Come because you want to feel loved and perhaps, this might be the love you’ve always been looking for. Come because you feel like you’ve lost your worth and you want to regain an eternal, unconditional worth. Come because this world isn’t as good as it was meant to be and because in Christ, you will find rest – rest in the truth that He holds everything together. Come because you have no faith but are searching for answers.

Keep going. Take small steps.

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened will all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his Holy People in the kingdom of light!” Colossians 1:9-12

Come – Distinctivemode is an open community! Ask questions, ask for prayer, send an email if you’re looking for a chat. Do you need advice? Do you want to know a little bit more? Are you struggling with something? Do you have an objection to Christianity – why not discuss it this Christmas? I’m here to listen and to understand. I’m here to show you love, to encourage and to open a door – just knock!

Eleanor ♥

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Truly Praiseworthy | What Did We Learn This Weekend?

Last weekend, I found myself volunteering at an 8-11’s activity camp which by the way, was incredibly fun! Pitching in with all the other leaders to serve food, clean up, lead activities and go crazy with the kids was incredibly enriching. However on this particular camp, were a few children with ADHD and various other disabilities. Trying to encourage these kids and keep them under control proved difficult at times but out of it came something incredibly praise worthy…

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One girl, Peace (I have changed names for child protection reasons) often didn’t want to get involved with the other campers and this often meant that us leaders took it in turns to play with her, or sit and chat with her. At times she would become frustrated if things weren’t going the way that she wanted them to, or if one of us had to run off and finish a job in the kitchen. Sometimes she was disruptive or angry with leaders and other times just in need of some 1-1 attention and care. Needless to say, with all of our other jobs and so many other campers to care for, at times it felt like a strain to constantly provide what Peace needed…

However, we knew that this effort was important, and that we are to never grow tired or weary of doing good. When Peace became frustrated, we knew that she simply couldn’t understand. When she felt upset, we knew that it was a privilege to be able to show her the love of God. We continued to care for Peace and pray for her throughout the weekend, and our main leader Johnny began to share one morning how by agreeing to have Peace here with us, it had meant that her parents were able to have their first break in a year! Perhaps we weren’t seeing results where we were, but in the background God was doing brilliant, praiseworthy things through us.

It didn’t stop there, as we came to our final day and I teamed up with one of the other support team members to lead the craft activity. Peace joined us and not only stayed for the whole session but earned her first gold medal for helping us clear up afterwards and getting stuck in with all things glitter and glue! As the other campers happily made cards and other crafty things, Peace sat herself on the other side of the table, completely focused and set to making not one, but two thank you cards for our team leader, Johnny. She coated them in glitter, and wrote inside one, “Thank you Johnny you are my best friend!” In the other, she emphasised again, “Thank you, I will miss you because you are my best friend.”

Here was Peace, clearly displaying her gratitude for the care and attention she had been shown this weekend! Even when at times, it seemed like we weren’t succeeding, God was moving in Peace’s heart and allowing her to see the compassion that He has for her! It was a very humble moment!

From this I encourage you – sometimes it feels like our efforts are not producing results. But be humbled by the promises of God – He will complete what we are doing, and honour our efforts to produce something truly praiseworthy!

Eleanor ♥

Jeremiah’s Cage | Is It Really Worth It?

Have you ever read the book of Jeremiah? It tells the story of a very disobedient people – so much so that the Lord became angry. Why? Because the world he’d created to be beautiful had turned against itself and become one of division… It did not look pretty!

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In chapter 15, we see a conversation between God and Jeremiah that’s one of encouragement! Jeremiah feasted upon the word of the Lord a in a time of destruction he took delight in truth, living as an ambassador for God. His whole life was excited by God’s word…

However Jeremiah was alone. He had separated himself from the company of those who were disobedient. In other words, he made an effort to live a good and righteous life in a cultural trend of “major disobedience.” One could say that he was more that a little bit unpopular. Perhaps you can understand how this feels? I certainly do. Sometimes living for God can mean that we feel as though we are living in a cage. Sometimes when we say no to something that everybody else is saying yes to, we begin to question whether we are truly living freely at all.

Like with Jeremiah, we have been set apart and when we question, “is this really worth it?” God replies: “Repent and I will restore you. Utter words of truth – the truth that you are to take delight in rather than the lies that you’ve been letting yourself believe. You Insert Name, who takes delight in my word will be my spokesperson!”

God instructed Jeremiah, “do not turn to them, but wait for them to turn to you.” It takes patience but God promises to build a wall of people in his name! God keeps his promises. Perhaps at times, Jeremiah felt lonely and impatient, but by holding onto the word of God, being set apart in his community and praying often, he became part of a greater plan! A plan rewarded with salvation!

I love this picture of God building up a wall of people! Whenever it seems as though we are the only people living for God in our community, we can take delight in this promise! Being set apart and saying no when others are saying yes does not reduce the quality of our lives! From experience, when I have stepped out in faith, God has provided other Christians to encourage me as well as to associate and enjoy the freedom of salvation with – what a reward?!

Do you feel as though you are in Jeremiah’s cage? Take delight in the word of God – study it and feast upon it! God is calling you to set yourself apart, trust His plan and enter the freedom of salvation!

Eleanor ♥

I’m Going Home!

“This world is not what it was meant to be. All this pain, all this suffering. There’s a better place waiting for me in Heaven”

Do you believe this? Do you? It takes great faith to squint your eyes and for a split second, free yourself from the limits of our human knowledge – to take a hold of hope. It takes a much greater faith to hold onto this hope – to persevere in running the race and achieving the prize!

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But do you believe? My question to you is where are you going? I can stand and say to you, “there is a home for you in heaven – Jesus has gone there already, to prepare a place for you!” But nothing I say will ever secure you a place – it’s up to you.

There is a better place waiting for you in heaven – every tear will be wiped away and we will dance on seas of amazing grace! Life is hard and sometimes it seams like the world is destined for failure. Let me tell you that indeed, this world is corrupt – switch on the news and within five minutes you’ll have had your fill of upsetting stories, or inhuman acts. However God sent his one and only son so that whoever believes in Him, shall not die but have eternal life (John 3:16) and when we choose to have faith we enter the adoption to sonship! Yes that’s right – if we have courage to throw off everything and invite Jesus in, God marks us with a seal that reads “my beloved.”

We can all be children of God!

I’m going home – where the streets are golden, every chain is broken, fear is gone and I’m in His open arms,where I belong! HOME.

Lay down your burdens and your past. Run to Jesus and do not turn back – all the days of your life, run to Him so that on that day, you may stand breathless and say, “God I chased you with all of my heart! Even when I could not see, I chose to have faith – for faith is believing in what we do not see and being fully confident in what hope for.”

I’m going home! Where are you going? 

Eleanor ♥

P.S this post was inspired by Chris Tomlin’s new song HOME.

Aren’t Friendships Supposed To Last Forever?

As an early teen, I really struggled with the concept that friendships don’t always last forever. Sad it may be, that two people are both striving for growth so much that they end up drifting apart…

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First things first: neither one is to blame despite what we may think or feel at the time. I know now that trying to find an explanation or act worthy of guilt was a complete waste of my time. People change, situations evolve and unfortunately, some friendships serve only temporarily.

I spent a significant amount of time (at least a year) trying to hold onto a particular friendship back when I was 13/14 years old. With girls swapping, changing and developing, you can imagine just how fleeting school friendships would be. However when I and a long-term, close friend found that we were drifting apart and forming new friendships, my desire to hold on actually became quite a burden. By choosing to blame everything under the sun for why we no longer saw eye-to-eye, nor shared the same degree of trust, I prevented myself from seeing the good in the friendships I did have. I prevented myself from enjoying the little moments of friendship and conversation we still continued to share…

Eventually, I came to accept that people are allowed to change and that I had also changed. I came to accept that actually, neither of us had done anything wrong nor become anything other than better people. I came to accept that two girls can go from best friends to cherished acquaintances. Once I gracefully accepted this, I found such freedom in my friendships!

Ephesians 4:1-8 talks about how we are to be patient, bearing with one another in love and making every effort to live in peace. Note patience. Sometimes although we may try, mending a relationship means having the mind to step away for a little while. It means giving time to prayer and simply waiting to see how the friendship evolves once you’ve stopped trying to control or mend it yourself. For God has apportioned grace to all of us – we need not continue to carry such burdens in trying to hold onto a friendship. So start praying, having patience, and resting in the grace of God, knowing that you tried!

Wait it out, be graceful, and bring peace to the friendship.

Friends come and go – that’s life! You need not explain this, only accept it and move onward peacefully as two separate and cherished acquaintances. You wont be able to uphold every single friendship but nevertheless, the both of you are worthy, beautiful and thoughtful beings!

Eleanor ♥

Attitude Of Gratitude | Have I Gone Veggie?

What are you thankful for? Go on, what is it? Perhaps (like I) you’re frozen, and find yourself repeating the same knowledgeable answers: food, water, a home… It’s as if we know that we ought to be thankful, even when we don’t feel like it…

Having an attitude of gratitude is so important – it’s a love language to God! As we learn to appreciate and give praise to God for the small things in life, we allow ourselves to truly appreciate and cherish blessings. Rapidly, our perspective changes for the better!

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As humans, we suck at gratitude! It’s so easy to find ourselves complaining about things. We wake up, look outside, and it’s raining: How miserable! We walk downstairs and find that there’s no milk left in the fridge: why is today such a bad day? Then the car breaks down: I haven’t got the time, nor the effort to walk today! It all comes crashing down…

But what if, as Christians, we started to look with Christ’s eyes – to truly see how God sees. It’s written all over the book of Psalms: when David was experiencing his greatest times of trial, he still chose to praise God! “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again–my Savior and my God!” Psalm 43:5. 

When you wake up and it’s raining: thank you God for blessing us with water! When the milk runs out: God thank you that I am able to grab food from the fridge, and find all that I need at a local store! When the car breaks down: God I praise you for giving me legs, for I know that there are others less fortunate…

Don’t you see? Having gratitude in all situations is incredibly powerful! It completely changes the way we live – wouldn’t it be great if everybody was able to encounter God’s rich blessings in the face of trial? It all starts with gratitude!

This week, God had been challenging me with gratitude. Each day I use to get to the “thank you” part of prayer, and loose focus after mumbling something about, “food, home, family…” I wasn’t actively thankful. However, I’ve been challenged to write down 3 different things to be thankful for each day, and to then pray over them at the end of the week. I’ve also been challenged to start thanking people in my life, for the small things they do – what a great way to encourage others, and praise God at the same time!

One particular change in me this week, relates to an attitude of gratitude surrounding food. I eat a lot (and I mean a lot) of food, and although I do eat healthily, planning meals, and good food have become a huge focus. So much so, that I’m constantly distracted by “what shall I eat later?” and when I do eventually sit down to eat, I eat so quickly that I forget to appreciate it. I’ve been subconsciously looking for satisfaction in food – without having gratitude.

For a while, I have been thinking about changing to a vegetarian diet for reasons including health, cooking interest, and preference. However, the fear of “missing out on the meat-meals I love the most” has been holding me back. Therefore, when I came to realise just how much I needed to refocus upon gratitude, I impulse scrawled on the shopping list: ELEANOR IS GOING VEGETARIAN!

Even now, I cringe at the though of joining some “save the animals” cult – in no way at all am I doing this for the sake of a chicken! But at day 3, I’m battling the struggle, and turning to thankfulness. When I open the fridge door, and spot the ingredients for my dad’s speciality chicken and chorizo paella (my favourite) I force out a, “Lord thank you for granting a Father who cooks so well.” I then remind myself of those in the 3rd world who perhaps, have never eaten a single piece of meat, and question: who am I to deserve such a rich diet more than they do?

I will most likely return to meat in the future, and occasionally indulge with a very thankful heart, but for the next few weeks (or months depending on how I find it), it’s time to cherish this new cooking experience! As we continue with our year of Grace Cherish Go, it’s time to put our faith into action – by stepping up to the challenge of cherishing the small, in our daily lives, for others to see.

Thank you God for vegetables!

What are you thankful for?

Eleanor ♥

P.s. Today’s photograph was taken by Anthony Melendrez – check out his photography here!

How To Stop Feeling So Empty

This summer I had some very high expectations. I wanted to accomplish 1 million things and make the most of 7 weeks free. I had lists of books to read, uni applications to sort, a desire to socialise to the max, daily workout programmes planned, recipes to try, and even new instruments to learn… yet no matter how many of these things I did and accomplished, neither how many times I made plans with friends, the summer still felt empty.

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It wasn’t until week 4 that I discovered why. I was too focused upon temporary wealth. Instead of lowering my expectations, and being thankful,  I was storing everything in a temporary accomplishment only to desire something else later. You see wealth is temporary – but “better the poor whose walk is blameless.” Instead of desiring more, it’s time to place all of our hopes and expectations in Jesus who does not change like the shifting shadows.

When we do this, and take time to read his word, pray, and listen to his answer, we learn how to cherish life. We learn how to live, how to serve, how to selflessly enrich someone else’s heart with the love of God, for the glory of God. When we do this, in these moments,  we are filled with the holy spirit, which allows us to serve more, have more patience, and mostly, have a share in the rich, everlasting, glory of Christ.

Instead of seeking more achievements, more money, or better situations this week, make a sacrifice, choose to be thankful, and be filled with love for one another! Make summer memorable by putting your faith (whether in Christianity, Humanity, or other religions) into action!

Eleanor ♥

Have a Little Patience

There’s a take that song: “have a little patience.” I think God sing-screams this to me on a daily (if not hourly) basis. Impatient may as well be a middle name. I hate waiting! I hate wasting time! If I’m passionate about something, I want to see the results straight away.

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I’d describe myself as a very active person: I study hard, socialize a lot, exercise daily, and run around like a mad woman trying to travel as much as possible in my spare time. I can withstand 2 months without having a sleep in, and even then, I’m up and ready to go by 10am!

I want this to be true for my walk with God to – I want to pursue an active faith! Since an early teen, I’ve been passionate about serving God, using my gifts, and speaking out to others. If there’s anyone around to hear, I’ll open my mouth and speak. Yet this desire, to proclaim God’s name leads to a certain impatience…

With 6 months to go until my 18th birthday, I’m at a cross road in my life. I’ve felt called to serve as a youth leader at events and local groups for about 4 years now, but I’m still not quite old enough! I’m itching to serve, and in the meantime, my impatience is driving a sense of worthlessness. The thing is, no matter how much I try to do in the small, everyday, friendship world where I am, I can’t help but criticize myself for not doing enough! I just want to do more, to see results, and to let my faith shine – I desperately pray for more opportunities… time and time again…

Already, I can hear God’s small, still voice prompting me, “slow down.” His loving whispers that remind me, “You are my precious daughter – your passion will be honored, but first, learn to rest in my unconditional love!” It makes me laugh sometimes… How we easily forget the basis of our faith – Christ’s sacrifice. A compassion that only requires our acceptance! We cannot earnt it.

However, this doesn’t seem to dampen the flame in our hearts, that seeks to stand, speak, and proclaim Christ. We love God, and want to share Him with the world – right? I have plans to attend camps, youth events, and even gap year programs! Yet again, I’m impatiently waiting, for God to fulfill the plans that He has already revealed to me…

Impatience is something I need to rid of. How is it bad? Because it causes us to degrade our value, forget the blessings of today, and fall into the temptation of not trusting. My desire to see results, can get the better of me – daily, I tear myself down over my blog, simply because after almost 3 years, there aren’t as many readers as I would have liked. Nowhere near the world’s success level.

My impatience clouds me from appreciating what God has already begun.

The thing is, if God were to answer my prayers immediately, and grant me the opportunities I dream of, I would miss out on the small home-town moments that He has prepared for me. If I refuse to trust in God’s timing, then how can I be a leader to someone who is still waiting for God to come into their lives? If I don’t first learn to put aside impatient, self-criticism, how can I expect to grow spiritually, and withstand all the trials that come with ministry?

Mostly, if I fail to love the slow-pace everyday world, how can I ever be enlightened with godly wisdom? For our God can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine – in fact, if we were as wise as God (which we will never be) then we probably wouldn’t pray for most of the things that we are currently praying for.

Impatience only brings frustration. But if we learn to sit tight, rest in God’s unconditional love, and trust that serving opportunities will come in perfect portions, at just the right time, then how much more rewarding will these heavenly moments be?

I know and trust that God will use me, and strengthen me. I know that He will guide me, to become more patient. And as I sit tonight, having felt incapable, useless, and at limbo, I’m reminded of how much God has done for me, how much he has instore, and more importantly, how many perfectly timed opportunities there are to come.

To practice patience is to live an active faith.

What can you learn with a little bit of patience?

The Prayer Guide

Prayer is a word we often come across – but what significance does it have? We find ourselves looking at an almost non-existent boundary between the idea of prayer, and the idea of God. What do I mean by this? I guess many times, one could be presented with a situation, responding with “it’s in my prayers,” without actually being religious….

But what does prayer mean within a Christian community? Is there a certain way we should pray? Did Jesus pray?

Welcome to the prayer guide!

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Luke 22:39-46

Is there a specific place to pray?

The truth is, Jesus did pray, and he prayed regularly. Jesus often went up to the Mount of Olives, this being somewhere quiet, focused and dedicated to God. In this passage particularly, we can see that Jesus didn’t just pray randomly, in somewhere brief or convenient, but He made an effort to go up onto the mountain. As He went, the walk most probably cleared his mind, allowed him to consider what to pray for, and then once at the top, He was able to pray alone, with no distractions.

Isn’t it time that we follow Jesus’ example? We are to dedicate a regular time and place to prayer. It’s vital – whether a chair, a room, a walking route, or somewhere else, meeting God in a dedicated place regularly allows us to truly come before God. Make it daily, and start by trying different places, that are available to you. Of course, pray between each time (for we are to pray continually in all walks of life) but make this one spot a place where you may come, prepare yourself, and pray sincerely for the day.

What are we supposed to pray for?

We are to pray for whatever is on our hearts – for God knows our hearts anyway, and wants us to open up to Him. Whether thankfulness, forgiveness, requests, and also just chatting… God is our friend.

However, in this passage Jesus also advises us to “pray that we don’t fall into temptation.” Until now, I’ve never really considered this, but I can only imagine how much of a difference it must make! 1. If I pray this before I even start to pray, then my prayer time will be much more effective – the Holy Spirit will guide me in how to pray, and most importantly, help me to ignore distractions. I can really, earnestly listen to God. 2. If I pray this at the end of my prayer time, and at the beginning of the day, then how much more will I accomplish in the strength of Christ? If I ask God to bless me with his Spirit, it will be granted and I can hopefully say yes to Jesus (and no to sin) more often!

Jesus also teaches us to pray “not my will but yours. ” This doesn’t ignore our feelings, but rather acknowledges them, grants grace and gives us the hope of a greater plan. Jesus also prayed more earnestly when He was in anguish. When situations don’t go our way, or prayers aren’t answered, we are to kneel before God, seek his guidance, and ask his peace to change our hearts towards His greater plan! For God answers every prayer – when there’s no yes, it’s because there is something else! Jeremiah 29:11 “”for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.””

Is prayer just something to coach us from the sidelines?

Finally, Jesus tells his disciples to stop sleeping, and start praying. Sometimes, we may find that life is a little bit boring, tiring, basic, or still… Whether we are content, facing troubles, or just going about our ordinary day, God doesn’t want us to just sit in it, or “sleep.” He wants us to include him! Our prayer life should be active, and our relationship personal! We are to pray always, and walk hand in hand with God.

Prayer is powerful, and Christ led such a great example. May you continue to walk in faith, live in prayer, and come to know our great and compassionate Father!

Do you have a place dedicated to prayer? Is there somewhere you would like to start dedicating for this purpose?

Eleanor ♥

Uninvited Honesty

We can really fail at honesty, can’t we? Perhaps we don’t lie too often, however, we can find ourselves avoiding controversial topics, or situations that should be addressed…

Honesty doesn’t just speak of truthful answers, but also the courage that comes with voice. Sometimes honesty calls us to be open – even when no one is calling. It calls us to be truthful, and participate in honesty…

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2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

In relation to family, I’ve always been one to breeze past certain situations, and avoid bringing them into conversation – I feel awkward and uncomfortable, and I also fear the outcome. This discomfort is particularly present whenever decisions are dependent.

Until recently, I’ve always kept a lot to myself – but God began to change my heart. When faced with a tough decision, that could have potentially caused a few friendship issues, I was reluctant to get honest. The more I prayed, the more that God humbled me to speak out. He called me to ask my Mum for advice, and enlighten her… I feared what she would say and I felt incredibly awkward…

I’d much rather have fended for myself.

However, once I left my comfort zone and embraced the truth, I found myself falling into freedom. I gained advice, deepened my relationship with my Mum, and no longer feared the outcome of either decision. In that precious moment, the truth and love of Christ came and rested upon me.

Getting honest when uninvited is uncomfortable – but God’s shown me that it’s important. It’s freeing. It allows me to speak against fear. Honesty isn’t just about saving ourselves when questions are thrown, but also, having enough courage and grace to share experiences, feelings, and thoughts without a second motive.

When we grow in truth, we also grow in the love of Christ, and the knowledge of His grace.

Start speaking out, get honest, and don’t just wait to be invited!

Eleanor ♥

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