So my normal pattern of blogging, if I have one to be honest as it usually is quite random, has been interrupted of late. Some of you may have noticed that I have not posted for a couple of weeks. I’ve also not been able to catch up with my fellow bloggers and read much of their blogs either so I’m looking forward to a WordPress binge at some stage. I’ve missed you.
So what have you been doing all this time I hear you ask that has caused me to be a woman interrupted.
Well some of it was planned and some was very unplanned. Some of it has been joyous and some not so, but in it all – the ups and downs the Lord has been there. God is so faithful. His loving kindness and strength keeps us and sustains us.
There have been holidays, birthdays, a 4 day music festival (now that was fun), a graduation, an eldest daughter moving back home, a new job for her, exam results for the youngest…not what she expected so that has required a lot of on going parental support and Godly wisdom, illnesses, looking after elderly parents, broken bones (not mine), supporting friends, volunteer work, prayer support, lots of actual work and more work and most of all…change! and more change!
I’ve discovered in this short time that change is pretty exhausting. It takes a lot out of you mentally and physically. It requires a lot of adaptation, learning how to do things differently or learning new skills and requires perseverance when things are tough. I have felt drained and more tired than I’ve felt before during this time so I need to rest more and draw nearer to God. Relying and drawing on Him. That’s the challenge for me. Resting. Resting and also putting some things to one side. Saying No to some things or some people when I need to and not feeling guilty about it.
I’ve discovered how much I miss my WordPress friends and blogging during this time too so normal service will be resumed as soon as possible 😊 in the meantime…..
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:1-3
Today, I attended for the first time a breakfast meeting with Christians from all over our region of the Black Country in the West Midlands organised by “Love Black Country”. For those who may not be familiar with the Black Country it is an area outside of Birmingham which takes in the four boroughs of Sandwell, Dudley, Wolverhampton & Walsall. I myself live and work in the Dudley borough in the town of Stourbridge.
It is an area with a great industrial heritage, rich in coal, iron and other minerals and many specialisms developed in local industries of glass making, iron & steel works, chain making, leather working etc. A little known fact but the chain for the ship Titanic was made in the Black Country in Netherton and the first steam locomotive to run in America was built right here – it was called the “Stourbridge Lion”.
The area has, like other industrial areas, suffered over the years through various recessions and loss of manufacturing jobs etc. and areas within the boroughs have been and are still classed as deprived. However, as Christians we believe in a God who can bring about transformation. The churches in the boroughs have joined together as a network with a vision for transformation of the area through:
“Listening to God. Working Together. Pursuing Transformation.”
The Big Breakfast today was the first opportunity for, what I understand was a smaller than usual group, to meet together since the Covid restrictions were implemented and certainly for me was the largest group of people that I have met with for the last 15 months. It was a great time and I’m glad that my friend encouraged me to go – it was a very early start!! There were Christians from all denominations and sizes of churches represented. A great opportunity to meet other believers – we may have some differences in how we do things but we can still come together in unity with a common purpose to see our borough changed by the love of Jesus.
It was a time to remind ourselves how much has changed for Christian fellowships and believers during this time of Covid. A time to take stock. There has been, because of the enforced changes, great innovations and flexibility in delivering church meetings and fellowship online and the opportunities to use new technologies. We were certainly moved out of our comfort zones big time and for many it was a scary time, unsettling and difficult but there were great things achieved for God’s Kingdom. Today was a chance to hear about the experiences of others and reflect on what has happened during this period and thank God for the good things that the Churches were able to do to show God’s love and help their local communities. When people were looking for help they turned to the churches because there already existed a network of volunteers and programmes in place. Many churches were prepared and could connect with other local organisations to facilitate and provide help where it was needed. On line church services became more accessible to those who would not usually have entered a church building.
It was also a time of reflecting on the sad things which have happened – the losses, deaths, times of grief, isolation and difficulties which people have encountered. The speaker talked about us moving into a season of rebuilding and restoration but just as in the time of Nehemiah, it was important to go out and survey and ascertain the true state of the Church. Take stock of the damage. Nehemiah did exactly this. He went out before he did any rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem to inspect and review their actual condition which had been reported to him but he needed to see it for himself. He also wept over their condition. I thought that was a very wise and thought provoking statement. Before going forward it is important to look and assess our true condition and any damage or hurts sustained in this period which sometimes unless it is obvious to us can only truly be revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. The hidden cracks in the foundations. It is good to have a time of reflection and assessment of the true state of where we are in God whether that is in the corporate sense or individually.
For some years previously, I had received a number of words and encouragements when praying about being in a season where God was wanting us to move out of our comfort zones. I know that this resonated with a number of people that I regularly pray and fellowship with. There was a sense that as Christians we had become too comfortable whether that was in our fellowships, in our buildings, in our traditions and programmes. God wanted to shake us out of our comfort zones. Like the mother bird stirring up her nest and pushing her young out – she does it for their own good – they have to learn to fly and leave the nest. As Christians, God is encouraging us to leave our comfort zones – move out of nests- the place we may have made our security and put our trust Him. He truly knows what is best for us and what will enable us to grow and develop in Him and to reach those who need to encounter Him. Covid has brought about an enforced period of change and this is an opportunity which many people have taken hold of to do just that – they have tried new things, new experiences and taken new risks. They have moved and I believe God wants you to keep moving forward, trying new things in Him and not going back to the familiar ways of doing things. It is certainly a time of change which isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Change will bring about transformation.
Have a blessed day in the Lord. Perhaps a day to take stock and reflect.
Do you experience times when you read something in the bible and it’s like “wow, I never thought much about that before”. I had one of those moments today.
I was reading in the Old Testament about the time the Jewish Exiles were allowed to return to Jerusalem and their homes after spending 70 years in captivity in Babylon with the purpose of rebuilding God’s temple which was the fulfilment of the prophecy given by the Prophet Jeremiah.
The bible simply says “He (God) stirred the heart of Cyrus”.
“In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the Lord fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom: “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are his people may go there for this task. And may the Lord your God be with you!” 2 Chronicles 36:22-23
It was God who stirred the heart of the King, Cyrus to bring His Will to pass and for prophecy to be fulfilled. God planted the seed of the idea into Cyrus. Now Cyrus still had a choice when he felt that stirring. He could have deliberately hardened his heart against it. He could have refused to follow through with what God had planted in his heart as Pharaoh had when it was time for the Egyptians to let Gods people go. God had to show through His miraculous demonstrations of power to Pharaoh that His people were leaving and nothing was going to stop it.
God not only stirred Cyrus’ heart but He also stirred the heart of His people, the leaders and the Priests to respond and want to return to their homeland. Perhaps the people also needed God’s stirring to get them moving. Perhaps some of them had grown comfortable where they were now and accepted this was to be their way of life, their place. God had different ideas. He wanted to bring them back to their inheritance. The land He had promised to their fathers.
“Then God stirred the hearts of the priests and Levites and the leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of the Lord. And all their neighbors assisted by giving them articles of silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock. They gave them many valuable gifts in addition to all the voluntary offerings” Ezra 1:5-6
I believe God is still at work stirring hearts in those in authority over us in these day whether, Kings, Queens, Presidents, government officials, bosses or others. God is also still stirring hearts amongst His people to get us moving and serving and doing in order for His purposes and plans to be fulfilled. He uses His church to show His love, grace and mercy and declare His salvation and power.
As a bird stirs up her nest to get the chicks to leave, I believe God is stirring hearts to move out from the comfort zones and into unfamiliar territory.
Perhaps God has been stirring your heart to lead you into something new. A new journey, a new opportunity or a new mission. Perhaps, you have had prophetic words or a dream from God and God is stirring up other hearts to enable that to come to fulfilment.
Lord stir up our hearts today according to your holy purposes so that your plans may be achieved through us your holy people. Amen 🙏
My friend Mary shared a story with our prayer group the other day about being an atmosphere changer.
Mary lives at home alone and during the afternoon she had gone into her bedroom and found it was freezing, freezing cold. A really Icy cold. She couldn’t work out why as the heating was on in the rest of her house.
Mary soon discovered that the cause was her air conditioning unit which had been switched on. This really puzzled my friend because she hadn’t switched it on. No-one else had been in her bedroom so there was no reason for it to be on.
Now if you are like me then I probably would have just switched the unit off and not given this another thought, but my friend is a very wise and discerning lady. She wanted to know more so she asked the Lord if he was trying to tell her something through this.
She felt the Lord say that just as an air conditioning unit changes the atmosphere around us, Jesus wants us to be atmosphere changers wherever we are or wherever we go because we carry the Holy Spirit within us.
This is such a simple truth but really powerful when we grasp hold of it. We are already atmosphere changers because of what we already carry within us through Christ.
Have you ever noticed that there are some people who when they walk into a room everyone notices. The atmosphere changes. These people influence the behaviour of those around them. We often refer to these type of people as charismatic.
The root word of charisma in the Greek is charis which means grace, kindness, life.
We have received all of these things in Christ so we are Charismatic people. You can say that to yourself today with confidence. I am charismatic because of Christ Jesus in my life and I am an atmosphere changer. I am carrying grace, kindness and life with me today wherever I go.
With this in mind let us go out today with joy..let the mountains and the hills will break forth before us. Let’s see what atmospheres we can change today. Amen