What Not to Say to Your Single Christian Friend

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Back in the days before I met my husband, and was wondering if any one would ever want to marry  me, I remember being told: “God will give you the desires of your heart,” and “if God gave you the desire he will fulfil it.”

After I heard that, I spent ages trying to work out if the desire for a husband was one that was from God, or not. After all, if it was actually from God then I would get it. Wouldn’t I? I guess in my mind it was almost like having a crystal ball, work out if the desire is from God or not, and you have figured out your future.

I guess the people who were saying these things were trying to be helpful. But they really weren’t that helpful to me.

Now I know that God can and will fulfil our deepest desires, (it says so in the bible, after all) but was the desire for a husband really my deepest desire, or the desire or was it the desire to be loved?

Many Christian counsellors agree that God does put in our hearts the desire to be loved, and the desire to be significant. The thing is, ultimately the only one who can fulfil those desires is him. He does give us thiste desires of our hearts, but just not always in the way we want him to.

Another well intentioned thing I was told, whilst I was single, was to seek God and then a husband would come along. What a load of poo! If this was true then how come there are holy people who never get married and awful people who manage to find a husband.

I don’t think the people who say these things realise the damage they are doing with these words. It made me question my own spirituality, as if the reason I hadn’t met someone yet was because I wasn’t holy enough yet, making me doubly insecure. I don’t think the popular quote “a woman’s heart should be so lost in God that a man has to seek God to find her.” Please be really careful about saying this one, because I know it’s one of those things that sounds really spiritual, after all, we all need to get closer to God. But please never make anyone feel like the reason they are single is because they aren’t holy enough.

Finally, this is one I had never personally heard (thankfully) but that seems to have become popular recently, I have seen it floating around the internet. And that is……….. Just Wait For Your Boaz. This is eisegesis (reading into the text something that was never there, (yes, I went to bible college and know long words!)) in the worst possible form! It makes absolutely no sense in the context of the story, to the point where I pull out my hair just wondering where this phrase could have possibly come from!

It’s taken from the book of Ruth. She is a widow, who moves with her mother in law, Naomi (also widowed) to her home country, a land Ruth has never been to before. These two women are destitute to the point where the only way they can feed themselves is by picking up grains that have been dropped by the farm workers. (Something which is outlined in books of the law.) Fortunately Naomi has a single, rich, relative named Boaz.

Now, after hearing that you might think that Boaz swept in and swept Ruth of her feet.

He didn’t. He was kind to her, but in no way did he sweep her off her feet.

Naomi had to tell her to get tarted up, put on some perfume, and then literally climb into his bed and lay at his feet, before he made the offer of marriage.

I can’t see how climbing into someones bed to seduce them could ever be described as waiting for them! How can anyone claim the phrase wait for your Boaz, like it’s a beautiful thing, when Ruth never waited for her Boaz!

She was married previous, to man we’ve no reason to believe she didn’t love, and then lived in tough conditions with her mother in law and then finally had to climb into bed with a man in order to seduce him!

This phrase is so nonsensical, but the strange thing is women even bizzarly believe it, and then take is so out of context that they seem to think it means they should just sit around waiting for a husband! Ruth didn’t sit around waiting. She was proactive.*

The truth of the matter is that not every will get married. I know that’s a really sad thing to say and hear, and one that I had to wrestle with when I was single. But unfortunately, it’s the truth.

God never promised us a spouse. But he did demonstrate his love for us in dying for us. And that is the greatest love you can ever know.

I know when everyone around you is getting married, it can seem so like a lame consolation prize. But it’s not, its the best love you can ever experience, its a love that will never let you down and a love that will last forever. Please, try and grasp hold of this whether you are single or not, and please never make someone who is single feel as if they are somehow worth less, whether intentionally or not. That just is not true.

Feel free to share your thoughts on this, or any weird things you have been told.

*Please don’t think I’m telling you to do what Ruth did, it prabably wont end well!

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6 Reasons to Share Your Story (even if it seems boring!)

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I love hearing testimonies in church. Stories of how God has completely changed a person’s life around.

These stories are such an encouragement, and they really do strengthen my faith. But sometimes it seems churches only want to share the most dramatic stories.Stories of the people who once were drug dealers or suicidal criminals who God dragged from the pits of hell, and wrapped into his arms.From darkness to light; from broken to complete.

While these stories are great sometimes it can make people like me, and I imagine many people reading this, feel as though our stories are not worth sharing.

This is not truth, it’s a lie many have come to believe, and even an excuse many have used.

But we do not need to believe this lie, our stories are worth sharing for so many reasons.

Sharing your testimony acknowledges God as Lord over your life. I would not be where I am today without Jesus. I don’t know where I would be, but I know my weaknesses, the sins I am most often drawn too, so I can sort of begin to imagine. If I do not share my testimony it would be like me saying I could have got to this point on my own. Continue reading

How NOT to Read the Bible

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Reading the bible is, in fact, really simple. But I am just so good at making it complicated! Here are just a few of the ways I have managed to do that.

Thinking I need all the right equipment. Bible journaling seems to be the real in thing at the moment. All the cool kids on Instagram are doing it. (If you don’t know what it is search bible journaling on Pinterest, it’s definitely worth a look) Of course I you can’t possibly do this until you have the perfect new bible with the extra wide margins; a full range of colouring pencils and sharpies; some of that ridiculously overpriced patterned sello-tape and maybe some stickers, glitter and a set of stamps.

Now I really think this is a great idea, one that I want to try my very un-artistic hand at, and one that I believe really will help people engage in reading the bible. But do we really need all that stuff to be able to read the bible. Can’t we just pick it up and read? After all, to read the bible, all we really need is the bible!

Sticking with a bible reading plan or devotional book, just because I feel bad for quitting. How many times have I done this one! And then just end up getting bored and wanting to give up. News flash! Reading the bible should be fun! Do it how you want to do it. One reading plan or devo might work for a while. But then it just becomes samey. Don’t be afraid to try something new, or even do something different each day of the week. Maybe one day use a devotional, one day go back over a favourite bible verse and the next write out a passage. Just make sure you choose to do it in a way that you find interesting.

Leaving reading the bible until last thing at night. (And then just reading a Psalm so I can tick it of my list.) Oh this is a bad idea, a bad, bad idea. But this is probably the one I am the most guilty of. somehow reading the bible gets pushed to the last thing at night, when I’m too tired to even watch telly. I know I can’t get much out of reading it at that time of day, when I am at my least productive, but yet I still do it!

Why don’t I realise that forcing myself to read the bible when my eyes are shutting just makes it more difficult? I don’t think I’m ever going to be someone who can get up and do it first thing in the morning. But I really do need to find a better time to do it, give it the attention that it deserves. to give God the attention he deserves.

At the end of the day, we just need to be reading the bible, lets not over complicate something so simple. Lets not make something that should be fun into a chore. And lets not be made to feel guilty if our way is different to any one else’s.

 

 

Living with Uncertainty

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Although I have barely any understanding of politics, I think it’s fairly safe to say that the last month or so has been a pretty uncertain time. Britain left the EU and the whole countries leadership has completely changed.

Now my generation are more worried than ever about holding onto a job and ever being able to afford to buy a house. This is probably a period of history our grandkids will be learning about for their GCSE’s!

The last month or so has been pretty uncertain for Joe and I as well. We have had to leave our flat, and live with various members of our families. Because of this I have had to leave my job, and I haven’t been able to find a new one yet! I have no idea where we will be living or what I will be doing a couple of months from now, let alone a whole year from now.

We are pretty unsure what the future will hold for us. But despite, at times over the last month or so, not knowing where we will be sleeping that night, I have seen God’s provision.

It’s so easy for me to forget all that he has provided for me in the past. How he has always provided me with a job when I have needed it, friends, and a place to live.

Deep down, despite my little worries, despite the tears I have cried and the anger I have felt I know that he will keep on providing for us. I know that he has a plan for our lives.

It’s so easy for us to worry about our futures, especially when we hear words like recession and university fees and house prices being repeated all the time. It’s easy to forget that God is in control. It’s easy to forget how much he has blessed us and how much he is still blessing us and how well off we truly are.

Despite all the changes that are going on around us there is one thing we know for certain. That God is with us and he loves us and that he will never change.

What Christians can Learn from Muslims during Ramadan

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In case you hadn’t noticed, we are now in the Muslim month of Ramadan.A fact which is hard for me to miss, living in East London, in one of the most diverse boroughs in the country. All over the world Muslims are currently fasting. From sunrise to sunset. Everyday.

And they take it seriously. I remember, when I was in secondary school, after having to run cross country in PE, one of my friends momentarily forgot that she was fasting and gulped down some water from the fountain. She had to repeat her fast later on in the year.

Even kids are excited to be involved in it. The school where I currently work actually had to send out letters saying that children, other than the ones in year six, are not allowed to fast in school, due to health and safety.

And I think there is a lot, as Christians, we can learn from Muslims during this month. After all if they can fast for their God during the hours of daylight (which by the way, at the moment, is between 4:45 am and 9:15 pm) then why can’t we do this for our God? If we truly believe he is the one true God, why wouldn’t we want to do this for him?. Why does it look like we don’t take our faith as seriously as they do?

In the bible fasting isn’t an option, it’s an expectation. Matthew 6:16 states:

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full

Notice, Jesus doesn’t say if you fast but when you fast. It is something he has always expected us to do.

So why do so many Christians not fast. Why don’t I fast?

I know that I should. I know that it will draw me closer to God, I know that it is an important spiritual discipline. But yet, I don’t take it as seriously as prayer, or bible reading, or going to church.

And that plain and simple isn’t right. It’s something I need to address. Who cares if my stomach rumbles and embarrasses me, fasting is something that is expected. After all if Muslims can do it, why can’t we?

Don’t get me wrong, I am so, so, unbelievably thankful that we live under grace and not law. I am thankful that the bible doesn’t tell me when or how, precisely, we should fast. (Although sometimes I think that would make doing it easier!) I am thankful that if I attempt to fast and mess it up I won’t have to repeat it like my thirteen year old friend did. And most of all, I am thankful that I don’t have to fast to earn my salvation.

But really, if we love God, we should want to do this for him. We should want to deny ourself earthly things so we can better understand heavenly things. We should want to know what hunger is so we can more deeply hunger for God, and understand the hunger that thousands around the world face.

We should be as excited about fasting as the seven year olds in my class are, because a lot of them cant wait to be old enough to join their parents in this.

If you are interested in reading more about the Christian view on fasting, I highly recommend reading Richard Foster’s book A Celebration of Discipline.

5 Reasons not to Pray

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I feel like a bit of a hypocrite sharing this post.

I am no prayer expert: I’m usually the one that says the least in prayer meetings and struggles with it in my personal life. There are so many excuses I come up with for not praying, but for all these excuses there is rebuke that I know deep inside my heart, even if I do often ignore it. Maybe sharing this post will hold me accountable for spending more consistent time in prayer.

What’s the point, God doesn’t listen anyway. I get that, I so do. I know it can feel like you are just talking into the air sometimes. Its hard to talk when you cant see the one you are talking to, I even find it hard to speak to someone in sunglasses – it’s so frustrating not to see their reaction to what I am saying!

The thing is, prayer is not just talking into the air: It’s a two way conversation. God does respond to our prayers: sometimes he gently shifts our thoughts to things we know we could never have thought of on our own; sometimes it will be through words we read in the bible and sometimes it will be a deep knowledge within our hearts. He does listen, he does respond, and he does answer our prayers

I’ve seen this in my own life, and in the lives of others, multiple times. Like when I was in Christian Union at school, and we prayed for new memebers, right after we finsished the prayer, a boy from the year below knocked on the door and started coming to Christian Union.

I don’t know how to. Don’t worry about doing it wrong. When you’re talking with a friend do you worry about doing it wrong? Or do you just focus on having a good time and getting to know your friend better? This is essentially what prayer is about. Spending time with God and getting to know him better. Really, when you think about it like that it doesn’t seem to hard.

If you are still struggling, then look to the Lords prayer. The prayer Jesus taught us. This wll guide you through worshipping God, seeking forgiveness, and lifting up the needs of the world.

I don’t know what to pray about. In the world there are approximately 9 billion people, if about a third of them are Christians that still leaves 6 billion who don’t even know Christ yet. And then there’s all the people who do already know Christ but are suffering in some way, and then there is my self, my own needs. Sometimes I find myself not praying because it’s just so overwhelming that I don’t know where to start, and when I do start I feel bad about all the things that I don’t get around to praying for!

The thing is prayer isn’t just about me. Prayer is all about God. We start by worshipping him, and then pray about the things he lays on our hearts. That may be during the times we have set aside for prayer, or that may be when he suddenly wakes us up at three o clock in the morning.

I’m too busy. If you are genuinely too busy God understands. There will be times in your life when you cant spent large, or even small, chunks of time devoted to prayer, but make sure you are genuinely connecting with God throughout the day: Send up little prayers and talk with him about everything that is going on. Pray to him about situations that come to your attention throughout the day.

If this is more of an excuse than a genuine reason, then maybe its more because prayer seems boring to you. Maybe that’s the problem you should be tackling first, I know this one is definitely true of me.

Praying is boring, I can’t concentrate on it. Well I guess if you just sat in one place listing of a load of needs then it would probably become boring, and probably a little depressing. But when you treat prayer as spending time with your best friend then it does become easier.

Prayer isn’t just something you do for a set amount of time each day. It’s something you should aim to be doing consistently, throughout the day. Focusing on God and talking to him in every situation.

Remember prayer doesn’t have to always be done the same way, go for a walk; draw a picture, write in a journal, whatever, it really doesn’t matter. Prayer is about spending time with your creator.

One thing that I know for sure is that the days I begin on my knees always go better than the days that I don’t.

 

How to be a positively good friend

 

Until recently I hadn’t given much thought to how much I moaned about things. After all, we all  do love a good moan, don’t we? It often seems to be something that connects us. A little moan about your boss with a colleague, and suddenly you’ve found a friend, or have you really?

A couple of weeks ago I decided to consciously think about what I was talking about, whether it was negative or positive. What I found out was a complete shock.  The amount of time I spent moaning was ridiculous. I moan literally all the time, the weather, the long quee in the supermarket, the traffic, how expensive absolutely everything is. (The first draft of this blog even had a huge moan about people who moan!) I must  be a right bore to be around.

But really, moaning and negativity can’t bring anything good in the long run. Since when has moaning ever made your boss nicer, or the weather brighter.

The thing is moaning doesn’t really do anyone any good, we jut think it does. It actually makes us feel more miserable. And everyone around us.

Instead, as Christians, we should be seeking to bring light into people’s lives. Instead of thinking about the negative things, think about all the ways he has blessed us, then bring those into conversations.

Because the truth is, if we are talking negative things, we must be thinking negative things.

Think about the amazing thinkgs that God has done for you. Praise him for having a job a family and friends, instead of just moaning about them.

After all, with all that he has done for me, it shouldn’t be too hard. Should it?