We are oblivious.
Once upon a time there was no way that we could comprehend what Christ has done. Perhaps that’s you – maybe you just don’t understand who God is or why we need him as much as we do? From my experience, now that I know him, I cannot imagine what life would be like without such knowledge. That’s just it – knowledge. We all seek it yet somehow all fall short of it. I guess one could say that we are “blinded” from truth – we don’t and can’t know everything. Frustrating? Not quite…
There’s a verse in 2 Corinthians 5-12 (vs 6 to be exact) that says, “For God who said, “let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” We are completely oblivious but we have been presented with the gospel as God declares, “let there be light” over our hearts, so that we may understand more of who Jesus really is and so that the glory of God may be displayed in our lives! As we patiently step to learn more, God aids us in that, whispering encouragement and revealing new wonders each day.
We have the light of the knowledge of God’s glory within us! This not coming from ourselves but God’s mercy.
However although Jesus’ light is living within us and shining out of us to present us as holy and pleasing to God, we ourselves are still unclean. Nobody is fully good. Nobody completely understands the bible. Nobody lives in faith without a little doubt. In fact, without Christ, we are nothing – we lack the knowledge of love, acceptance, and God’s purpose here on earth. Without Christ we are full of weakness and this is to be made known more than our strength…
I can be a bit of a control freak. I’m not always happy. I sometimes get angry at my siblings. I often lack ideas. Some days I can be selfish instead of serving others. I am a normal, everyday, messy individual but I know that Christ is shining in me and presenting me as strong and holy before God. You to can have this light – it starts with yes.
It’s as if we are jars made of clay. We are completely earthy! But if we ask Jesus to fill us with the light of his knowledge, our jar fills with treasure! We are jars of clay filled with treasure – this treasure being the knowledge of who God is and all that he has done, as well as a personal relationship with the Father. This treasure doesn’t just look good either – it reminds us to trust the true spoken promises (that from experience have always been fulfilled) of God: when we feel attacked or challenged, we will never be 100% defeated for Christ’s strength empowers us; when we are confused or begin to question, Christ comforts us and listens to us; when others harm us, Christ reveals an encouraging light and whispers, “you are not alone – I will never forsake you nor harm you”; when we are exhausted or lose control, we can never fall because Christ stands tall within us!
Be real. Accept your flaws and dare to say yes! Life in faith does not mean trying to be perfect but rather allowing God to give you rest from the frustrating world that tells you that you must know and understand everything. We come because we heard but want to understand. We come because we are weak but God will make us strong. We say yes because we don’t yet believe but are curious to find something to trust in.
We are jars of clay – filled with treasure? I can assure you it’s a beautiful life with God, the creator of the world!
2017 so far has been a real challenge… I got my hopes up about an application to Cambridge university despite knowing that chances were incredibly slim. I received an interview but later was rejected. At first I kept questioning God and then once I’d got fed up of doing that, I then started to question myself with, “I could have done this better… Or maybe if I’d have said this…”
The truth is it just wasn’t God’s plan and one day I have to face up to that – I must be willing to trust his plan. In fact it’s only over the past few days as I visited the university now first in line, that I realised why God has closed such a door. Don’t get me wrong – Cambridge is a dream! However it turns out that this other university also has great career opportunities and their syllabus seems to line up will all of my architectural interests – completely! For example the course is centred on the collaboration between architecture and engineering (something I’m 100% interested in and often a controversial opinion that can be neglected). Not to mention the city looks amazing!
Now I can see that God has all my best interests in mind and I can’t wait to see where He leads me! I just have to keep going and push onward to get the grades that I need now. But I’m fully confident that if I try hard, God will work through my weaknesses and get me to the right place (hopefully the university currently in mind but if not, somewhere better)! Don’t be afraid to trust him! Try hard and God will honour that!
“See I am doing something right before your eyes that you wont believe though it’s staring you in the face” Acts 14:31
If there’s one thing that truly makes me speechless time and time again, it’s the generosity of grandparents. Have you ever just stood, embraced in their warmth as they shower selfless love upon you? No matter how many times you try to refuse, it just keeps coming..
I’m very fortunate to have two wonderful sets of grandparents both of which never cease to care for me. Whether it’s encouraging me with random, “I’m proud of you” moments, purchasing little gifts, giving up their time to do things with me or even offering to help financially, their generosity always overwhelms me. As a child, all four of my grandparents seriously influenced the person that I became. I am extremely grateful. Through each of them I’ve learned how to love and been led to know that I am precious.
Over the Christmas period I was able to spend quite a lot of time with my grandparents. However one occurrence provoked a little more within me that usual. Following some beautiful and thoughtful gifts, my Grandma kindly offered to take me on a December morning shopping trip. We got up early, chatted on the way, shopped around and enjoyed our traditional Grandma-Grandaughter sales-shopping. As she proceeded to treat me to a coffee I suddenly felt convicted – her generosity overwhelmed me. My reaction? This time, I wanted to buy the coffee. It was the best I could do in such a moment…
“No don’t be daft – I’m paying,” was the fierce response I received. Boy was that one line a pounding strike in the stomach, winding me unable to argue. In such a speechless moment I had no other option but to accept her generosity – that which quite frankly, I didn’t deserve!
The endless generosity of my grandparents is a daily reminder of the cross – Christ’s agape love. Agape is undeserving, eternal and heart throbbing. We have moments when our minds recall our shame, guilt and weakness but by dying on the cross, Jesus has said, “don’t you dare pride yourself into earning this gift!”
At the cross we are left completely speechless. We cannot repay such a life-changing gift. Only can we accept such a blessing and offer ourselves in service, by showing and investing in this loving relationship.
Be grateful, open up to generosity, love your grandparents and let Christ’s love be gifted to you!
P.S. Photo credit goes to my cousin Matthew for capturing such a beautiful moment back in the Summer!
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Recently, as a response to my “This Christmas, Knock” post, one of the questions raised was, “why are Christians against gay rights?” Unfortunately, this was submitted anonymously, and no email was left so I couldn’t get back to whoever it was! However, this question challenged me and really got me thinking. I really hope that whoever asked this is currently reading – after some thought I hope I can answer this for you.
Firstly, the question is, are Christians actually against homosexuality?
As followers of Christ, the word made flesh, we live our lives to please God. Part of this, means studying the bible and applying it’s truth to our lives – not to gain righteousness, but to find out more about who God is. We follow the laws within it because we believe that God is much wiser than us and He knows what is best for us. By following, we live our life to the fullest!
The bible is split into the Old Testament and the New. The old lays out hundreds and hundreds of laws (many that will never be lived out today eg: don’t wear clothes of wool and linen woven together Deuteronomy 22:11 – there’s no way I’ll be hunting down rare 100% wool jumpers any time soon!) as well as telling us of life before Jesus. The world was a mess and still is. The old testament shows us just how far the world is from the beauty that God intended it to be.
The Old Testament shows us the need for a New Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus comes, dies and raises to life in order to overcome death and bring grace. This grace allows all who believe in Christ (even just the tiniest bit – Matthew 17:20) to be presented as holy and free from sin! Jesus cancels everything and restores the beauty within us, so that the world may one day be beautiful again!
How does this relate to such a big question in today’s society?
In the bible, we can read the metaphorical image of creation that shows us that God created the world and He intended for men and women to be together – it’s mother nature and how the life cycle works. However, as Adam and Eve ate from the fruit tree, sin entered the world and this picture was distorted. As a result, our world has now become full of sin. However this, “sin,” doesn’t just refer to wrong doing such as, murder, theft and dishonesty. Sin simply refers to anything that separates us from a relationship with God or is separate from God’s original intention for this world.
Therefore, in my opinion, being gay would not class you as a “murderer” when we evaluate the seriousness of the issue. However regardless of the seriousness, since we know that Jesus came to bring equality, we know that in reality nobody is perfect and it doesn’t matter what your “sin” is, because we can all be reconciled to God! Jesus is victorious and He reigns for eternity – we have been wiped clean.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that God loves everybody unconditionally. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in God or not, whether you’re gay or straight, whether you’ve murdered somebody or been one to stir gossip. As Christians, we believe that we are no longer slaves to laws, but slaves to love and grace! We are free to be who we are, as we walk hand in hand with God!
Therefore, although Christians at times have been presented to be against gay rights, I personally am not. I’d also point out that there are many churches that support gay people, welcome them and love them. I also know Christians who are gay – the LGBT christian community is huge! Whether Christians continue to practise homosexuality however is between them and God, for we must not judge another person’s walk with God – first remove the plank from your own eye so you may see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:5).
Christ came and died for everyone. Therefore, everyone has the same rights! It saddens me to think that being gay suddenly creates a divide between one and the church – in reality, (Romans 8:38-39) nothing can separate you from the love of God! In my personal opinion, churches that do not support gay people need to reassess their values – yes in the bible, being gay is wrong however no one is perfect and everyone needs grace in some way! We should not allow personal difference, or such an issue take our eyes off whats important: Christ on the cross!
So in answer to your question, I would say that Christians are not against gay rights. There are many things in this world that are “wrong.” But Christ has already put all of this to death on the cross. Now, we are living in Christ’s kingdom! Even if some Christians struggle with this approach, it demonstrates the need for God! Christians don’t know or understand everything – they need God as much as you do! Sometimes we just have to accept in our hearts that opinions will differ, whilst remembering that we all are equal in God’s eyes!
I hope this answers your question and you find what you are looking for. God loves you. He wants to reveal himself to you and take you on an amazing adventure! Will you let him? Run to him with this issue – have faith, and he’ll change your life!
P.S – please do not hesitate to comment below with any further questions relating to this issue, or any other burning questions you have. If wanting them to be confidential, feel free to send them via the contact page, but please leave an email so that the system can get back to you!
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?!
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!
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…
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!
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!
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!
“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!
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?
P.S this post was inspired by Chris Tomlin’s new song HOME.
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…
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!