Welcome to the Patchwork Blog! I hope you enjoy reading my random thoughts about life, Jesus and the freedom he offers.

Monday, 14 December 2015

When the rubber hits the road

I have been challenged over recent months to change the way I think, especially in the area of gratitude and what I think about myself. It is so easy to say 'Trust the Lord' or 'look at God not your situation'. I often listen to the song 'Turn your eyes upon Jesus'. I particularly enjoy the Hillsongs version. But I am going to be honest with you. I am not turning my eyes upon Jesus. Not really. Not most of the time. What I am actually doing is looking at my situation and outwardly saying I trust God. I often say I am going to trust God but I am not trusting Him. I say He is the centre of my life but then fill it with other things instead. I say I am grateful for all He does for me and then never thank Him. 

I worry a lot. I have been especially anxious over recent months. There is always too much month left at the end of the money and bills seem overwhelming. But when I look back at what God has done for me before I find no basis for my worry. Jesus has never let me go without the things I need. During a time of unemployment, when I didn't have the money for my mortgage, I got a letter from my bank saying 'We mis-sold you PPI. Please fill in this form and we will repay you'. The amount I got was enough for the mortgage. I hadn't even considered applying for this as I didn't think I qualified for it. At the beginning of this year I was off sick for two and a half months following a knee replacement. Given I don't get full sick pay, and I am not eligible for mortgage relief from the government for 3 months of each claim, it was a worrying time. However, shortly after seeing my surgeon, I got a letter from the working tax credit department. They were back dating my claim and the payment was enough for 3 mortgage payments. I could go on but you will be relieved to know I will not. 

So why do I not remember these things in a time of need? Yet again, I focus on the situation and start worrying. I allow anxious thoughts to go round and round my mind. I have read the Word of God so why do I not believe it? I mean really believe it. I say the words. I mentally assent to the truth but when the rubber hits the road...I worry instead of believing. I believe the first worrying thought that pops into my mind. 

And it is not just in the area of provision. I say that as a Christian I should love everyone but then I come up against someone I find difficult to get along with for one reason or another. I find myself hating this person not loving them. I may not say this out loud but I am thinking it. This happened recently to me. I was feeling very angry and hateful towards someone with whom I am in regular contact. At first I wallowed in my negativity. I felt justified in it. This person was causing pain and upset to someone I really like and respect. But my attitude was not Christ-like. This is where the rubber hits the road as far as being a Christian goes. I speak of a God of love but can I love the unlovely as He does? I decided I needed to change my attitude. While still acknowledging that the person was in fact in the wrong in one area that was causing pain  to others, I also realised that I needed to get along with them and see them as Jesus does.

I started by giving thanks for this person. It was really hard to do. It took every once of will power to say it to God. 'Lord I thank you for X'. I asked God to help me and then just did it- as an act of my will. The more I gave thanks for this person the more I found my attitude changing.  Day by day I worked on this until I could pray for them with love. I am now able to get along with this person much more easily. I can pray that God will bring this person into His Kingdom and I mean it. But it was hard work. It was spiritual warfare. 

Paul in Philippians 2:12 says the following . 

'Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear' (NLT)
It is really hard work to change the way we think. In my experience it takes a combination of will power and the Holy Spirit.  If I tell myself 'I can't help it', 'I can't change' then I will never change. If I tell myself 'I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength' (Philippians 4:13) and repeat the truth of it to myself again and again my heart will gradually change. If I thank God for the person I find so difficult He will change me by the power of the Holy Spirit. For me it goes to the heart of my faith. If the blood of Jesus is as powerful as I believe it is then I can work with God to change my thoughts.

The Christian life is not easy. Believing God above your circumstances is not easy (no prizes for spotting the massive understatement!). But boy is it rewarding. I feel so much more peace now I have learned to love this difficult person with the love that God has given me. The hate was so much more tiring. I am now working on my anxiety and worry. And I know I will be successful. For I know in whom I have believed. He died to set me free. This is real spiritual warfare. Allowing God to change our hearts.

What one thought can you ask God to help you begin to change?

Blessings to you all.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Worshipping Father in spirit and truth

It may be a daft question but do you give God your problems? I meant do you really give them to Him? 

Or do you do what I often do...struggle with my problem alone, try to work out the solution and then ask God to do that thing for me. All the while feeling stressed and under pressure to do the right thing. 

I realised a while back that this is what I have a tendency to do. I don't always really give God my problems. I keep them all myself and then try to work it all out alone. If I can't work out the solution I sink into a depressed or stressed state that it takes a while to get away from again. 

Just recently, having realised this was what I was doing, I tried to consciously give God my problems. At first though, I thought, how do I do this? How do I actually give God my problems? I know He wants them but how to do I give them to Him?

Then I made a decision to start to pray as soon as I got home from work. I started going to my room, closing the door, putting on praise music and just pouring out my heart to Him about all that was worrying me. I asked Him to show me the way round my problem. I verbally dumped it all on Him, warts and all. Every thought, as it really first appeared in my mind, is what I poured out to God. 

The amazing thing was that when I did that God started to change me. He kept the troubled feelings and gave me His peace instead. I realised it was because I was truly coming to Him, as I was. I was coming to Him in truth. 

"But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way." John 4:23
In the above Scripture Jesus says Father God wants those who will worship Him in Spirit and truth. He wants us to be real, to be who we really are. It is the only way He can change us. Try it and see. 

So, ask yourself, am I being real with God. Am I bringing my real self to Him? I can trust Him with my real self. He is more loving, more compassionate and more merciful that we can ever know. Pour out your heart to Him. You can trust Him. He is indeed your refuge. 

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Remember what God has done for you

I was interviewed by Carol Graham of Never Ever Give Up Hope a few months ago. She was asking me about how Jesus never let me go despite a major crisis of faith, how He set me free from food addiction in the process. The interview went live this week. And Carol sent me the link. I listened to my interview for the first time and it almost brought me to tears. I speak about what happened to me but I don't sit and listen to myself say it. 

It was amazing to go back and hear what God has done for me. I was swept up again into the emotions of the time and was reminded of what God said and what it felt like to be there. 

Various Bible characters at times would leave an altar or a memorial of sorts in places where they had met God. It reminded them of what God had done for them. 

"But then I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago." Psalm 77:11

It is sometimes good to go back over what God has done and remember his power, his love and mercy. 

What has God done for you that you have forgotten?  Remember the deeds of the Lord that you have now forgotten. Encourage yourself in the Lord. 

If you want to hear what encouraged me so the other day then here is the link to the interview on iTunes. 

Remember what God has done. Count your blessings both past and present! 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Discovering our Father's Heart

This post first appeared as my regular contribution to the More than Writers blog of the Association of Christian Writers on Sunday 16th August 2015

One thing I have learned over the last few years, above all else, has transformed my life. It was one of the final things on my journey to freedom from food addiction and it helped me deal with the pain of unwanted long term singleness. This life changing teaching is discovering the Father Heart of God. For most of my Christian life I have identified closely with Jesus. He is my Saviour, my Friend, and my Lord. He died to save me and I am eternally grateful. However, I used to spend more time thanking Jesus for forgiving my sin than enjoying the outcome of my salvation. What do I mean by that? Is there is a difference you may ask?

When I was training with Church Army, one assignment I had was to read the whole gospel of Mark in one sitting. It was an amazing experience, which took about two hours or so. I read about a man, Jesus, who had two main passions in his life: his love for people and his love for his Father in Heaven. His greatest desire was to bring the two together. He wanted them to know each other and love each other.

I knew Jesus but I didn't really know the love of the Father. I started reading around the subject of God’s Father Heart. With each book I read the Holy Spirit spoke clearer to me that what I really needed was the love of Father God. The final book I read in this part of my search was ‘I am your Father’ by Mark Stibbe. It really spoke powerfully to me. In it Stibbe talks about some of us having an orphan heart. As I read his description of an orphan heart I knew this was the state of my own heart. This was the emptiness I had been trying to fill with food. I started to pray that God would reveal his Father love to me. It was a prayer that my Papa God answered quickly.

One thing that really helped me to discover the Father Heart of God was listening to ‘The Father’s Love Letter’. This is a letter written by Barry Adams based on truth from Scripture. Each line in this letter is taken from the Bible. I found it profoundly moving. I still do. You can read it or watch it here. It can be downloaded for free as a document, a video or audio file. A few years ago I played it frequently, sometimes on a loop for 30 minutes or more. On different days different phrases would touch me and reduce me to tears, but the truth of it began to sink into my heart.

Jesus died to bring us to the Father, so we could experience his Father’s love for us.  The ltter ends with these words “I have always been Father, and will always be Father. My question is…Will you be my child?” He is already our Father but will we be His child?

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Wrestling with God

A version of this post first appeared in my regular slot on the blog for the Association of Christian Writers, More than Writers on 16th July 2015

My post this month is inspired by having read a post on Crosswalk.com, How Wrestling with God will change you forever by Dena Johnson,. In it Dena talks about Jacob wrestling with God. She pointed out something I hadn’t noticed before (I love it when that happens don’t you?). She showed us how Jacob changed how he referred to God after his divine wrestling match.  Before his encounter with God we read this,

 “Then Jacob prayed, O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, 'Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,' (Gen 32:9)

After his encounter with God Jacob is given the name Israel and we read that, 
 “There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel [God, the God of Israel].” Gen 33:20 .

Before his wrestling encounter Jacob describes God as the God of his father and grandfather, but afterwards he speaks of more personally by referring to the God of Israel. Wrestling with God actually brought Jacob closer to Him.  

And boy oh boy can I identify with that. Over the last 6 years I’ve struggled with God, as I went through all kinds of pain, doubt and loss. At the time I was going through it I didn’t imagine it would have the blessed outcome that it did. I felt like a failure.  I was an evangelist with no faith, a food addict and my dreams were in pieces around my feet. Like Jacob I was alone, and like Jacob I fought with God for a blessing. But like Jacob I came out of my experiences with a far strong relationship with God.

While writing my book, He Never Let Go, about my experiences I realised that prior to this a lot of my faith was actually faith in the Church with God supporting this. Now my faith is in God with the Church supporting. I didn’t realise how much I was piggy-backing on other people’s faith until I found myself wrestling with God alone.

But I am so glad God trusted me with that experience. It has ultimately brought me much blessing. I have been freed from food addiction and am gradually getting back to some kind of ministry with my writing. Knowing that what I write helps others is a huge blessing.

Sign up for Seeking the Healer
 at www.lyndaalsford.com
I recently started writing a regular email newsletter, Seeking the Healer, for those seeking freedom from addictive behaviours especially food addiction/compulsive overeating/binge eating disorder (see previous editions here). In it I share some of the things that I have learned on my journey to freedom that will encourage you on your own journey to freedom. I've already been blessed by receiving emails from readers who have been helped and are engaging more with God in their search for freedom - the ultimate blessing for me. If you would like to receive the newsletter please sign up here, or go to www.lyndaalsford.com where there is a sign up link on the home page.

If you are wrestling with God, please don’t give up. The blessing you receive is so worth sticking with your divine wrestling match. Stick with God, He will never let go of you. He loves you.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Don't give up

There are two video clips in today’s post. Do watch them as they are both so encouraging. They show different aspects about being in a race. 1 Corinthians 9:24ff and Hebrews 12:1-3 both show different aspects of running in a race, and they liken it to our journey of faith.  Read the Bible verses and watch the video. They speak for themselves really. Let God speak to you.

Hebrews 12 1-3 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! The Message (MSG)

I always imaged these verses were describing a negative crowd of people, telling me how badly I was doing and to pull my socks up and do better next time. But today at our Church the preacher was describing how they are like this crowd cheering on Matt in his race. They are encouraging us. We need each other to cheer us on our way.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27
"Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified." New Living Translation (NLT)

In this video if Heather had given up when she fell she would not have won her race. It is tempting to be really hard on ourselves when we fall and to tell ourselves that there is no point in carrying on – I might as well give up (or am I the only one who thinks this…I suspect not). But in reality the truth is that we all fall. But it is how we react to our fall that makes the difference. We can lay there and feel sorry for ourselves, or we can get back up and keep running the race, like Heather did despite falling over, and like Matt did despite his physical limitations.

Maybe those of us who can be naturally stubborn like me can have an advantage in this. My stubbornness means I will sometimes refuse to let go of something. Seeking healing from food addiction is one such time. I was determined that I would find a way to experience the freedom of Christ in this area of my life. I didn’t stop running that race until I found what I was searching for. There were times when I fell over but I got back up again. At times I didn’t have people cheering me on around me but I sought out as much help as I could. And I made it to the end of that part of the race. I have been free for 3 years now.  If Jesus freed me He will free you too. Just keep on keeping on in your race. 

I am now writing a regular newsletter to encourage people to Seek the Healer for help with their broken lives. I will share insights that helped me on my journey to freedom to help you on your own journey to freedom. If you would like to receive this newsletter please subscribe here

Also there are two possibilities of meeting up in erpson. Firstly,  in an informal way, probably in London this autumn, with a group of others who want to share with each other. This will be mostly women with overeating problems but no-one will be excluded. Secondly, there is the possiblity that I will be leading a Seeking the Healer retreat in Sussex during 2016. 

Please contact me (leave a comment below) if either of these is something you wish to explore. Dates not yet confirmed but I hope to have the confirmed in the next few weeks or so. 

Friday, 26 June 2015

Seeking the Giver not the GIft

Three years ago I found freedom from food addiction. A key part of finding that freedom was learning to allow my heavenly Father to fill the emotional emptiness I had previously tried to satisfy with food. I spent ages seeking my healing, rather than seeking the healer. My focus was in the wrong place. I was trying to sort out the symptoms (overeating, being overweight) not the root cause of the problem (an emotional & spiritual emptiness). 

The food addiction was not my only problem though. I was also struggling hugely with singleness. I didn't want to be single and it caused great pain. Huge waves of pain. I always thought I would get married and have a family. I never anticipated being single and childless into my 50's. I am now much more accepting of this. For a while I have been wondering what enabled me to move past my pain. This week I realised that my seeking the Healer not the healing, seeking the Giver not the gift, also helped me to deal with my broken dreams. 

I spent years trying come to terms with being single but in actual fact I now know that my main pain was not having children. The main problem was not the absence of a husband but the absence of a baby. I couldn't admit this to myself as it would be too painful to deal with, so I focussed on the lesser pain of singleness. 

After a lot of ladies problems I ended up having a hysterectomy. Finally, I had to come to terms with not having my own children. I had to let go of that dream as it was never going to happen now. It was about this time, in the months after my surgery that I was searching to God more. I was desperately yearning for Him above all else and I now know that it was this that helped me deal with my broken dreams. 

I spent ages asking God to give me the gift of marriage and children or to give me the gift of being content with singleness and childlessness. I was focussing on the wrong thing. I was looking at the problem not the One who could solve the problem. I was looking at the gift not the Giver. My search for God's love also helped me come to terms with my singleness and childlessness. 

I urge you to throw yourself into the arms of God. Seek Him above all else. I am now writing a regular newsletter to encourage people to seek the healer for help with their broken lives. I will share insights that helped me on my journey to freedom to help you on your own journey to freedom. If you would like to receive this newsletter please subscribe here

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Why Write?

This post was first published on 16th April 2015 on the blog for the Association of Christian WritersMore than Writers, for which I am a regular contributor. 

Amy Boucher Pye's post, The Lord is my Publisher, on the More Than Writers blog of the Association of Christian Writers got me thinking. To whom am I writing? I never planned to write a book, let alone write two of them. For me starting to write my first book was very much a cathartic and spiritual experience. I have written a spiritual journal for years as a way of helping me to work through my feelings and relationship with God. So when a friend, who knew what God had done for me, said "You should write a book" I decided to do just that. 

I poured out what had happened into my computer, as a way of giving it to God and it really helped me to make sense of it all. I learned more about my healing and began to wonder how God might use me in the process. 

However, I lacked courage to approach publishers with it and decided to self-publish. I have learned a lot of about self publishing over the last few years but the best thing I have learned is what a blessing it is when sharing your story helps someone else. 

I have written and self-published two books now. The first, He Never Let Go: The true story of a prodigal evangelist, describes how I lost and regained my faith whilst still working as an Evangelist in a lively church in West London. The second, Being Known: My journey to freedom from food addiction, describes how God set me free from food addiction as a direct result of how much closer I came to Him during the events of the first book.

The first time I got an email from someone who had been greatly helped in their own journey of faith because of what I had written I sat at my computer and cried tears of joy. All the hard work was worth it if just one person had developed a deeper relationship with Father God as a result. Since then I have had more of these emails, tweets, posts and conversations. Yesterday,  I had a conversation on Facebook messenger with someone who I didn't know but who had just bought my second book.  This person told me they had a problem with food and went on to tell me that it was the first time they had told any one of this. I was so honoured that my book led me to that privileged position of witnessing that important step in that person's life. Each such communication blesses me more than I can say. I can still be moved to tears when I hear how God has used my writing to bring others to more freedom in their relationship with God. 

If I am honest I have moments (sometimes long ones) when I start looking for worldly approval for my writing instead of being content to look to God and trust in His purposes for my writing. But then another person gives me feedback about how God has used my writing to bless them and once again I look to God and thank Him for the blessing of being able to bless others. 

I recently heard that Ellel Glyndley Manor in Sussex has put my second book, Being Known, on the list of recommended reading for their 'Steps to freedom from addiction' course. I was so blessed by this. Seeing others blessed by my story helps me to make sense of what I went through. I have been able to give God my pain and see Him bring new life out of the darkness. 

Amy is right. The Lord is my publisher. And this is why I continue to write. I want to help others come closer to Jesus. I want to share what I've learned about God’s Father love and compassion. I am blessed indeed that He has chosen to use me. All glory to Him. 

What's your motivation for the things you do?

Lynda Alsford currently works a GP receptionist and writes in her spare time. She has self-published two books. He Never Let Go describes her journey through a major crisis of faith whilst working as an evangelist at a lively Church in Chiswick, West London. Being Known describes how God set her free from food addiction. Both books are available in paperback and on kindle on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com

Lynda loves living near the sea in Sussex, UK and can't stop taking photos of the sun setting into the sea. Find out more about her at www.lyndaalsford.com or at www.patch-work-blog.blogspot.co.uk

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Pour out your heart to God

I was not supposed to be here today. At least not here in my flat and certainly not writing a blog post. I was supposed to be in hospital, having a total knee replacement. 

I was all ready. I had had the necessary blood test and I had begun to drink the unpleasant pre-op drinks. I woke up on Monday ready to fast and go to hospital. Then at 8.10a.m. came the call from the surgeon's secretary. He was unwell and off sick, so my operation was cancelled. I was devastated because I have been in increasing amounts of pain. 

I couldn't wait to get a new knee and to be able to walk again for more than 20 minutes at the most. I have been gradually, and slowly losing weight and I wanted this to continue. The weight loss has come to a standstill virtually without being able to do exercise. 

My first reaction to this bad news, having put the phone down, was to burst into tears. I then I called friends and family, talking through what I felt.  I rang work to say I would now not be off sick but coming in as usual. 

Then I got into the shower and while there I began to pray to my Father God in Heaven. I poured out my heart to Him. I told Him how I felt and asked Him to help me. 

By the time I got to work I was calmer and by the end of the day I was fine again. I had another date for my operation and had worked through all the upset. 

So why am I telling you this? It is because it took me until Tuesday to realise that I had not once thought about bingeing as a way to deal with those pesky upsetting emotions. I had worked through them all in a normal way without even a temptation to overeat. Four years ago my reaction would have been to binge before calling anyone, before praying and before being able to think through what I should do next. Food was my refuge. 

I am once more so grateful to my Father in Heaven for setting me free from food addiction. I praise His name. He is indeed my refuge. 

If He can set me free He can set anyone free. Trust Him, get to know Him and pour out your heart to Him. He is a much better way of dealing with difficult feelings than bingeing. I know for certain this is true. 

He is our refuge. 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Counting my blessings

Over the last few months I have been trying to count my blessings more. I  have been trying to thank God for what He does for me more. I still have a long way to go but I am beginning to see the fruit of praising Him. The more I look to Him and praise Him for His work in my life the more I see it happening. 

God has been greatly blessing me recently. I started to get more pain in my knee than normal last autumn after increasing my level of exercise (from nonexistent to a little!). In the end I went to see my doctor and he refered me to the hospital. Within three and a half months I find myself on the eve of having a total knee replacement. My operation is at 12.30 tomorrow. I praise God for the speed with which it has happened and for helping me get a cancellation appointment for the surgery. I praise Him for giving me good friends and family to care for me afterwards. I praise Him for work letting me have the surgery at short notice. I managed to get a cancellation so it is extremely short notice for work. I praise Him for my friend Jackie, with whom I am staying  after my surgery. 

I have found that my level of trust is increasing as I take notice of all that God does for me. Taking note of all the good He does for me really does help me find more peace and trust.  It gives me hope for the future. If He has done this for me today, He will keep looking after me in the future. King David writes about this in Psalm 103, the first few verses of which are here. 

Psalm 103

A psalm of David.

Let all that I am praise the Lord;
    with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
    may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins
    and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
    and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
    My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

I recommend learning to count my blessings.  It really does make a difference. 

What do you thank Him for today? 

Monday, 6 April 2015

Finding Peace Within Your Heart

Sunset at Telscombe Cliffs, Peacehaven
I used to work with a Baptist minister called David, who used to be a pig farmer before he went into the ministry. He told me he used to find peace most easily by standing at the farmyard gate. When he found himself ministering in south west London he learned to find the farmyard gate within his heart.  I knew when he told me this that I had not found this kind of peace. 

The truth is I had not found my equivalent of the farm yard gate externally so it made it more hard to find it within me. I have now though. Since moving to Peacehaven in Sussex, I have found that standing on the cliff top looking out to sea brings me to a place of peace. It is my version of the farmyard gate. 

Now I have found that peace in an external place, I find I am learning to find it in my heart too. For years, I used to long for my own home and am blessed by living in my own flat now. But the longer I am there the more I realise that I experience peace more when I learn to look within, to the presence of God, bringing His peace with Him. 

What brings me most peace is looking to Father God. It is putting my relationship with Him first, making it a priority in my life. He is the author of peace. He is the Prince of Peace. It is a long journey to learn to look to Him, to His presence within me instead of turning to external things.

Sunny day in Peacehaven
We turn to places, people, things, drugs, food and drink to bring us the internal peace we long for but the presence of the Prince of Peace is what we really need. I wish it had not taken me so long to learn this.I had to learn to trust God with that deepest part of my heart. I had to learn to trust Him to be the peace I needed. As an act of my will I had to choose to seek God above other things. It is what helped me find the freedom of Christ in my food addiction. I learned to seek Him to deal with difficult emotions instead of overeating. 

It was a series of small steps. I had to learn to toddle before I could walk properly, let along before I could run. But now I am trying to make the most of what I have learned and seeking to spend time with Jesus. I am learning to just be with Him, no agenda, to simply enjoy His presence. It is what feeds my heart. I am learning to find the cliff top in my heart. 

What is your cliff top? What one small step can you take today to deepen your relationship with Jesus and bring that place within your heart? 

Friday, 20 March 2015

Trusting God is an act of my will

This post was first published on Monday 16th March 2015 on the blog for the Association of Christian Writers, More than Writers, for which I am a regular contributor. 

Trying to stop feeling fear

What does trusting God feel like? I used to think I wasn't trusting Him because I felt fearful in the face of difficulties. I thought I was a failure. I would read the Bible and pray, waiting for the fear to go and for the trust to arrive. I tried to metaphorically grit my teeth and work up a feeling of faith. But that never really worked. It simply left me feeling even worse, more of a failure and wondering what I had done wrong. 

This week I read Psalm 55. I have read it before but this time it hit me right between the eyes. Especially verses 4 and 5 - "My heart pounds in my chest...fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can't stop shaking". King David, Israel's greatest King, the man after God's own heart was shaking with fear due to the situation in which he found himself. He wanted to fly away from the situation. He wanted to run away. 

Trust is a choice

It was a revelation to me. I knew the psalms were full of emotion but somehow the day I read this psalm that truth fell the 12 inches from my head into my heart. I read on to see what David would say next. Verses 16 -18, 22  contain these words, 
But I will call on God,

and the Lord will rescue me.

Morning, noon, and night

I cry out in my distress,

and the Lord hears my voice.

Give your burdens to the Lord,

and he will take care of you
If you had asked me before this week, I would have told you that trusting God is an act of our will but somehow this week that truth dropped down into my heart. My eyes were opened. I'm not letting God down by feeling fearful at first sight of any difficulties. He is waiting to see what I will do despite my fear. He is waiting for me to chose faith, to choose trust. 

And the amazing thing is that once I have chosen to trust Him the fearful feelings often go, or at least they lessen. The mistake I made before was trying to stop the fear first and then to trust. It doesn't work that way. I know now I need to trust God as an act of my will whilst feeling scared. Then the fear often does go. Like the priests of Israel carrying the arc of the covenant across the River Jordan into the Promised Land. The river did not part until they had stepped into the water. 

Are you facing a difficult situation? Do as a shaking, fearful David did. Chose to trust God as an act of your will, to give Him your situation whilst still feeling afraid and wait to see what God will do for you. 

Saturday, 28 February 2015


Don't Fall

It is so easy to forget that we depend on Jesus, and the power of his Holy Spirit living within us to overcome the sin in our lives. Sometimes we start to be full of pride. We think we can do it on our own. Or worse we think we overcame the sin all by ourselves in the first place.

This last two weeks I have come as close to bingeing again as I have in the last two years - since God set me free from food addiction. Fortunately for me, I remembered the warning of St Paul from 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 about temptation and to be careful if we think we are strong - we could be headed for a fall. I realised where I was headed and sought the Lord again. I told Him straight what I was feeling. I told him exactly what I was thinking. I asked Him to help me. And He did. 

And I didn't have to screw up my eyes and work up the strength not to binge again. The strength came when I looked to Father God and was totally honest with Him about what was going on. I came to Him as I was. 

Lying to God

Sometimes it is not just ourselves we are lying to by saying we are strong when really it is God who is strong within us. It is God. We may not even know we are not being honest with God. We believe our own propaganda. We act in front of God as we wish we were rather than what we really are. We 'pretend' in the sight of God that we are strong and not tempted to sin again. But Father God is not fooled. He knows we are weak with human frailty "For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust." Psalm 103:14. Don't lie to God. He knows what is really going on deep down in our hearts. 

Openness with God

I have found that my greatest freedom comes when I come to God as I am, acknowledging all that is wrong with me. I come open handed and say I have nothing and need Him. I look to Him and allow Him to love me. It is all too easy to come to Him, tell Him we are sorry and then continue to try to break the sin in our own strength. For me the freedom comes when I surrender and yield myself to God - to allow His love to change me. His love changes us if we but allow Him to love us as we are. I spent many years trying to make myself worthy of His love. It doesn't work. You can not make yourself worthy of His love. You can only receive it. And it is in the receiving of His love that we are changed. 

Psalm 103 is a good Psalm to read - read it and come close to the God who loves you all the way to the cross of calvary.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Without Vision...

What is Vision? 
Keep your eyes on God, like a child
looking up at the heavens in wonder. 
I've been thinking about vision recently. What does it mean to have vision? How does having vision affect my life?  

According to Dictionary.com Vision is "the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be".

One of the questions I have had since Jesus freed me from food addiction is 'Why me?' Why did I find freedom? I am not more worthy than anyone else who would seek it. I am loved by my  heavenly Father but not more than anyone else than anyone else is loved by Him.

I think vision may be one reason. From early on in my search I could envisage a future where I was free one day.  I read the Scriptures and in particular the Gospels and I saw in them the descriptions of how Jesus set people free when he was on earth. I kept telling myself that if he could do it then he could do it now. After all are we not told by the writer of the letter to the Hebrews (Chap13 v8) 

"Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. "

There was a part of me that did not want to let go of the vision of Jesus being a healer. My dad often told me I was bloody-minded and stubborn when I refused to change my ideas and views. Maybe it is this quality that kept me seeking the freedom of God. If he healed then he could heal now. If Jesus really was God incarnate then setting me free of food addiction was well within his capabilities!  I didn't know how to find the freedom but I believed it was possible. I stubbornly kept on looking. I wasn't going to give up. 

I had vision. I could see that Jesus would do it one day and that made me keep on keeping on with my search when I was tempted to give up. I kept looking up to Jesus. I kept my eyes on Father God and who He is. 

Keeping on despite failure
Well, most of the time I did. I fell frequently and would start to look down at my own abilities and that was when I would fall over and fail. At one point I stopped looking at God completely. I stopped believing in Him for over a year. There were many reasons why that happened but once I came back to God I searched for Him. I put aside all else until I found Him. I was not prepared to let go of what I could see in my mind - that I would be free one day from the food addiction that had enslaved me. In the end freedom came when I searched for God, and God alone. My vision was for HIm alone and not what He could do for me. 

Habakkuk had vision. 
The verses in the picture at the top of the page from chapter 2 of Habakkuk  tell of him watching and waiting for God to fulfil the vision. He kept waiting and watching. And like Habakkuk I kept watching and waiting (in between my many falls) for God to act. 

Free at last
God did set me free. One day I finally trusted God enough to surrender the food addiction to Him. I trusted Him enough to be the comfort to me that food had been previously. 

I urge you to keep your eyes on God, on His Word. Keep your focus on Him and His relentless love. He loves you beyond what you can imagine. Keep looking up to Him. Keep seeking Him. Keep the vision alive in your mind and  heart. 

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" Matthew 6:33