The Final Whistle..

Sadly, my time as a volunteer has come to an end. It was incredibly good fun but hard work with very early mornings and late nights. In this short time though of just 9 days, the Lord has shown me things and I have learnt more about myself than I expected. Lots of it good but some not so…I’m a work in progress still in certain areas even after all these years but God is in the business of refining me and that is part of the process. Hallelujah.

We all have strengths and weaknesses and temptations to resist. Our flesh can try and influence our behaviour especially when we are put into new situations with different people, different expectations and with a hierarchy of responsibility and a team of people, all coming together with different backgrounds and skills. It is in these times that our strengths and weaknesses become more keenly felt. I’m so grateful for the leading and conviction of the Holy Spirit which helped me so much during my time as a volunteer interacting with colleagues, athletes and spectators.

I have a lot to process over the next few days and share with you all. I’m excited to start writing again. In the meantime here are a few photos from my time at the #Commonwealth Games 2022 with some of my fellow volunteers.

My friend Liz..a great character as you can see.
Getting ready for the crowds
Our venue Swimming and Diving
A competitor on the 10m diving platform
The end….

The Invite

It’s exciting to receive an invitation especially to a celebration. I have received an invitation recently to attend a party..there is free food, drink, a great venue in Birmingham but it’s only for volunteers of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

The thing is after working 8 shifts (some very early ones), getting home late, travelling, working my day job….I’m tired. I couldn’t really be bothered and started making excuses not to go. It was easy to find the excuses..but then other people started to encourage me to attend. This was a one off event, it would be fun and I’d be with all my fellow volunteers.

Then someone said something which struck me “it’s free..why wouldn’t you go”.

This reminded me of God’s invitation to receive forgiveness and the free gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus’ His son.

It’s a free gift…an invitation ..why wouldn’t it be accepted?

The sad truth is that there are people who do not accept God’s invitation. Jesus knew that people would reject Him and His message. He told a parable about people who were invited to a wedding feast but refused to come – they made lots of different excuses. This is what Jesus says:

‘The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. ‘Then he sent some more servants and said, “Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.” ‘But they paid no attention and went off – one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, ill-treated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. ‘Then he said to his servants, “The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.” So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.” Matthew 22:2-10

People will always have the freedom of choice whether to accept God’s invitation or not – that is up to them. We cannot force people to accept Jesus, but we should not give up or be discouraged from issuing the invitation because it gets refused – Jesus isn’t.

Jesus told the disciples to shake the dust from their feet and move on when they and their message was not welcomed at places.

Perhaps we need to shake off some past disappointments and defeatist mind sets and start giving out those invitations again. I know I do.

Sadly, there will come a time when it will be too late to issue the invites – the door will be closed- but we can encourage others to “seek Him while He can be found“. Isaiah 55 v 6.

Who can we invite today to find Jesus?

Sportsmanship….#TestimonyTuesday

One of the stories from the #Commonwealth Games that caught my eye and I wanted to share with you was this one:

In an incredible act of sportsmanship, the Malaysian Badminton coach offers and gives his shoes to the opposing Jamaican Badminton player. The Jamaican’s shoes had been damaged during the match and he would not have been able to continue playing giving automatic victory to his Malaysian opponent.

The Malaysian coach, who is the opposition remember, offers him to try his shoes. They fit and the Jamaican player accepts and is able to continue the match. He eventually goes on to lose the match but keeps the shoes and even wears them in his next doubles match.

What really spoke to me about this story is how it is a testimony for us of God’s love and grace to us in action.

The coach did not have to even offer his shoes, his player would have secured an immediate victory. However, he chose to do so. He freely offered those shoes. That offer had to be accepted by the player to continue with a life line. There was humility on both parts. The coach sat with no shoes and even had to leave with no shoes. The Jamaican kept the shoes..a gift.

It reminded me of these beautiful verses from Romans;

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
Romans 5:8-11

Beautiful. Have you freely offered God’s gift of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus my friend.

Let the Games begin…

Morning all, for those who read my recent blog Look the Part…Play your Part you will know that the Commonwealth Games are taking part in Birmingham England (my home city) this week. Sports people from many different parts of the world (72 nations) have come together to take part in about 19 different sporting events from cricket, athletics, rugby, swimming, gymnastics, netball, racket sports…a huge range over 10 days.

It’s a massive thing for the city of Birmingham because although Birmingham is the second largest city in the United Kingdom, it is generally still regarded as a poor place. It’s reputation has not been great. Birmingham has together with the region where I live (called the Black Country) a long industrial past so a lot of the city centre was made up of factories around the Jewellery Quarter and then there were the coal/tin mines in the Black Country with the glass, chain, steel and other industries. In the other areas of Longbridge and Solihull were the large car manufacturing plants and not forgetting the famous Cadbury Chocolate factories and village for the workers in Bournville.

When the industries, manufacturing and mining declined, and some disappeared altogether, those buildings and areas fell into disrepair and neglect and there was a lot of poverty but over the years the city and its areas have started to be regenerated. One of the beautiful things of the games is that people get to see the “new” and “regenerated” Birmingham. The regeneration is not complete by any means but these games have brought with them the ability to push that regeneration along. The past images of Birmingham are being renewed and people can see what a great city Birmingham is.

God is a God of restoration and these beautiful verses in Isaiah remind us of this:

You will be a crown of splendour in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.“ Isaiah 62:3-5

The opening ceremony showed the story of Birmingham and its pioneering achievements but didn’t shy away from some of its difficult history…especially the cruel story of the women who were the “chain makers” of the area. These women worked day and night making chains for industry in terrible conditions and essentially being exploited in their labour. These brave women eventually stood up and said enough. They fought to have better pay and treatment.

There was a powerful scene in the opening ceremony when this huge (and I mean huge) mechanical bull was brought into the arena by these women in their chains. The women then were set free from their chains and released. This representation reminded me so much of Jesus who by His death and resurrection has set us, the captives free, and we are no longer enslaved to sin. We are free in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Hallelujah

There are many people praying for us whilst these Games are on that the light of Jesus will break over our city. Please pray that Jesus will be exalted in these days and the love of God made known. Join with us as we pray.

I started my first volunteer shift yesterday and for the next week will be carrying out various duties in my role and meeting lots of different people. I’ll post some (hopefully) fun stories of my experiences and what happens at the Games. Let the Games begin..

Launch Out Again

Morning friends, I want to share this encouragement again from Luke 5 because I believe there are people who may need to hear this today. Bless you.

Some people may feel like they have been toiling hard for the Kingdom of God in their ministry, especially in wanting to see people come to know Jesus, but the breakthrough has not happened yet.

You may feel weary and discouraged but the word today is:

“Launch out into the deep and let your nets down again for a catch”.

If you have put an aspect of your work or ministry for the Lord down, then perhaps the Lord is speaking to you today by His Holy Spirit, as he did to Simon Peter.

Let your nets down where the Lord shows you and directs you and in His timing. At His Word the disciples were obedient.

You may need to step out of your comfort zone as the Lord takes you into different and deeper waters.

The Lord may be leading you to a new fishing ground.

Even though we read the disciples were weary as they had fished all night, they had already cleaned their nets to be put away, Simon Peter showed faith in Jesus and obeyed. He put to sea again.

Peter is saying – despite my experience and what has happened in the past, I am going to do what you say, Jesus. He was immediately obedient.

The result was a miraculous catch of fish.

“When He (Jesus) had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.”
Luke 5:4-7

Influence

Influence…this was a word that the Lord spoke to my heart recently and I have been pondering it.

It’s very important that I recognise what it is that is influencing me. Ideas or emotions that are shaping my thinking or actions. The Lord wants me to be aware of what is influencing me.

Subtle influences conforming and trying to mould me to this world’s culture which may be more influential than I realise.

Influence….whether we admit it or not we are all influenced by something or someone. That someone can also be us….our “old” selves rather than our “new” man in Christ.

So something to consider…..our actions, thoughts, desires, decisions, plans….what is influencing them.

The decisions we make or see others make (which may or may not affect us) they are all influenced.

Some sources of influence are open and transparent but other influences are subtle, manipulative, controlling and coercive. We don’t want to get caught in a trap of those influences.

There are influences which we can discern are clearly for good and then others which would lead us into ungodly things.

It’s interesting to me that there is this social phenomenon of “Influencers”…people given this label who are “Influencers” because of the power of their social media presence and amount of followers. Advertisers flock to their sites.

As I have thought about sources of influence in my life, I have made a note of the following, you may think of others and I’d be interested to hear:

My bible/Jesus and His teachings,The Holy Spirit’s leading

Me/My emotions (good or bad), my experiences, my character

My husband/My parents/family

My friends

Work

My Pastor/His preaching

My fellowship group at church

Bloggers that I follow/connect with

Newspapers/Magazines/Books

Television/Films

Songs/music

Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagram

Alcohol (any amount will “influence” our behaviour)

I’ve written all these down as I thought about them but it may not necessarily be the case (all the time) that those at the top of the list influence me the most or those at the bottom the least.

What weight do I give to these influences in my life. How long do I spend with each one. Which are more reliable.

Test, weigh, prove. In court as a juror you have to weigh the evidence given. An eye witness account from a plausible witness corroborated by one or two others will far outweigh hearsay or second hand testimony. The evidence is tested and weighed through questioning and cross examining. The trustworthiness of the witness tested.

Are we influenced by things taken at face value without testing the source?

Through the media, it seems people can be whipped up into a frenzy of emotion and opinion very quickly and sometimes over seemingly nothing or things subsequently proven to be false or fake news.

Psalm 24 encourages us to swing wide and open the gate and let the King of Glory, Jesus, come in.  

The Gates of the City were historically important places of influence and decision making. The elders gathered at the gates of the city to discuss and make decisions.

The Gates were opened to allow access or shut to refuse entry and for protection and safety of the citizens within.

The Gates were large, strong and often barred and guarded.

We all have gateways of influence in our lives and minds. 

Every day we make decisions to permit or refuse things to operate in our lives and indwell our thoughts whether for good or bad.

Let us guard the gates of influence in our lives.

I want the gates of influence in my life to be opened wide for Jesus Christ’s influence.  Not just a little bit open for Jesus but flung wide open.

Come Lord Jesus come.

To Know Him

The most beautiful moment of my life was accepting Jesus as my Saviour and surrendering my life to Him. Since then discipleship has been a journey of discovery to know Jesus better and more deeply. Jesus came to show us the Father and through faith in Jesus, to enable us to have a relationship with God. It is in that relationship that we become more Christ like as we live out our Christian faith through obedience to God’s Word and Jesus’ teachings.

Accepting Christ is the start of an amazing journey of faith and not the end in itself.

The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth has come and dwells in us, to lead us and help us in our discipleship journey. The Spirit convicts us of sin and leads in righteousness and truth, to glorify the Son.

We sometimes think as Christians our goal is to evangelise and once someone has made a commitment to Jesus, it’s job done. But that’s just the start.

Jesus asks us to make disciples and not just converts. We are His witnesses of a new life born again into God’s kingdom. Discipleship is to journey with people and requires love and commitment so that we become rooted and grounded in the truth of the gospel. It’s like bringing people into a family. You wouldn’t invite someone to be part of a family and then just ignore them and leave them to it. You show them how to live life as part of the family. What’s expected of each other. Sharing knowledge, wisdom, gifting, there through the highs and lows, joys, sorrows, successes and failures. Encouraging and supportive. Discipline and love. Forgiveness and grace.

We can journey with many different people as believers in Christ. Some journeys are for different seasons. I’ve been discipled by some incredible people and even now the Lord brings people alongside me who help me grow in faith and develop – sometimes in challenging ways. We have to learn sometimes to let some relationships and people go and move on so they can also grow and develop as the Lord leads. Sometimes we have to move on ourselves. We are a body of believers, members of one another. United in Christ.

I love these bible verses:

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:15-23

Amen 🙏

A celebration…

Hello blogging friends. I’ve been away for a few days celebrating my 30th wedding anniversary. After a few hints, my husband agreed with me that this was an occasion to be celebrated and so a mini-break was booked to Porto, Portugal.

It was a double celebration as my husband was also celebrating his birthday. He’s caught up with me..I am a month older.

What a beautiful city Porto was. It had a lovely relaxed feel about it and after just one day, we felt relaxed and comfortable wandering around the streets and sitting with a drink at one of the river cafes.

We arrived in the middle of extreme heat warnings for the country but amazingly, the temperature in Porto didn’t go into the red zone. I was very grateful as I’m not used to such heat. Since coming home though the UK is in the middle of an extreme heatwave. We’re just not used to the heat here and to say the country has literally gone into meltdown in more ways than one is very apt.

I thought you might enjoy a few photos from my recent trip before normal blogging resumes..the cork is one that we made in the museum of cork as a momento of our trip.

View from the gardens of the River Douro
The metro looking back to the monastery
View back to Porto from the gardens
Cloisters at the Monastery
This bridge is also by Eiffel who built the famous tower
One of the famous Port Houses Taylor’s
No trip to Porto would be complete without a Port tasting,
Loved the tram rides
The end

Lifeline..

On Wednesday at our church prayer meeting, this was the word I heard in my spirit from the Lord – Lifeline.

At the same time I saw us all in a boat that was being tossed about in large waves but in the water were people desperate for help. That is when I hear that word “Lifeline”. I then saw the people in the boats throwing out lifelines to those in the water.

There are many people who need a lifeline. Brothers and sisters in Christ- who can we be that lifeline for today, tomorrow, next week.

I then read Andy B’s testimony of being prompted by the Holy Spirit to buy a packet of biscuits for a lady. It turned out to be the lifeline that woman needed. You can read that testimony here Kindness doesn’t need to be costly

We can throw a lifeline to someone today..reaching out as the Holy Spirit prompts us whether in little acts of kindness or into the deeper things as the Spirit leads for the Lord knows and hears the cries of a wounded heart.

Definitions of a lifeline:

A way of getting help on which you depend:

A rope or line used for life-saving, typically one thrown to rescue someone in difficulties in water or one used by sailors to secure themselves to a boat.

Provide (someone) with a means of escaping from a difficult situation.

A lifeline is a safety feature on a boat, a rope that either protects you from falling off or you throw to someone in difficulty.

A lifeline also protects those on the boat from falling off. This is also important I believe in this season. The boat I saw was not on calm waters but was being tossed around. That may be you today. You are going through a really difficult season. Buffeted from all directions. The Lord’s lifeline is there for you. He is your rock..when you pass through the waters He will be with you.

Lord hear our prayer today. Show us those around us who need a lifeline. Be the lifeline that we throw to help and anchor them securely to you. For those Lord whose faith is wavering and who need a lifeline to protect them in this season from falling off the boat, then let us be those who notice and help them to be rooted in you and not to lose hope or faith. Lord we are so grateful that you are not only in the boat with us but you are the boat Lord. Help us to remain not only attached to you and to each other, but to abide in you always. Amen