Thoughts on Romans 2: 1-16

Hi Readers,

It’s been a busy few days for me at this end! Doing Supply Teaching has been a bit crazy. I never know whether I am having a day at home or a full day in the classroom. It’s proving to be pretty stressful for me as I’m the sort of person that likes to plan but it is teaching me to be a bit more spontaneous and to let go of the reins a little. Today happened to be one of those days where not even the supply company were sure if I was working! I got a text asking if I could work all day this morning, but turns out the school didn’t need me after all. It does mean that I managed to get out of bed at a sensible time this morning – so every cloud!

So I’m now sat in my new craft room/study with my Spotify playlist on ‘Jesus Makes Me Happy’. I find having a worship playlist so valuable! I think it’s important to fill it with as many different worship songs as possible so that you can just hit shuffle. I find that God has a way of speaking to me through music, so hitting that shuffle button helps me listen to songs God wants me to hear, rather than me just choosing my favourites all the time. Not an unhealthy habit, but sometimes a song will come on that really hits you that you may not have necessarily chosen to listen to at the time. Music is just one of the ways that I feel God talks to me. I tend to be someone who struggles to talk to God and struggles to listen to Him too, so music is a good stepping stone for our relationship.

‘Our God Reigns’ is currently playing as I write this and it comes as a good reminder to me. After being given those 3-4 weeks of guaranteed work and thinking that my faith was really building, God had another test for me. Those bookings all got cancelled! Not exactly the most faith building experience for me. I found myself getting angry at God. ‘How dare You build me up like that and snatch it all away from me’. It’s very easy to get angry at God when He does things differently to how you want Him to. Of course, He was just testing my faith, and seeing if it would stick if things got difficult, because it is looking like they now want to re-book me after all! It’s very tricky to see where God is going sometimes, and that can be frustrating, but I just want to encourage you that if God’s plans don’t seem to make sense, or are not what you want, he has a greater plan than we could ever imagine. It’s beyond our realm of thought. He knows what he is doing. My favourite verse in the bible is Jeremiah 29:11 ‘”For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”‘ I find this an amazing daily reminder. I must admit, that some days I forget it, but it needs to be in-bedded in our hearts. He is not going to harm us and He uses everything for good in the end. Don’t hear what I’m not saying. God never said it would be easy, just that His plans are never to harm us. It doesn’t mean there’ll be stumbling blocks, times or trials, times of disappointment and anger, but He will use it all for good, even if we don’t know what that looks like.

So, onto Romans 2:1-16. I read these verses in the bible a few days ago and was really excited and impacted by what they had to say. Verse 1 starts with ‘You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things.’ Paul, who wrote Romans as a letter to ‘all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:’, is trying to ask us why we are so quick to judge. Why is that? Why in today’s society are we so quick to judge? Lots of people say that the bible is ‘dated’ and ‘not relatable’ to life today – but we live in a society that judges each other more than ever. If we are on any any form of Social Media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram; we are making a daily judgement on other people. Even by deciding whether to ‘like’ someone’s post. We are judging whether what they have written, or the photo they have taken, is good enough for us to double tap our little screens or hit that thumbs up button. Even Facebook lets you decide on what sort of degree you want to like something now!! You can even ‘love’ someone’s post. What makes us decide whether to stop in our endless scrolling? We are judging whether it i worth our time! Even at the end of this blog post you, as a reader, will decide whether you think my words, my life, is worth a ‘follow’ or a ‘like’. Have I been good enough? Interesting enough? Funny enough? Encouraging enough? You will be judging me.

The bible teaches us that God is the only one that is worthy to pass judgement on other people. He will judge us at the end of our life. And yet, we judge people on a daily basis. It’s something that I personally struggle with. I can be walking round my local supermarket and if I see someone dressed funny, my instant reaction is for my brain to go ‘what are they wearing?!’. Or I see someone who is overweight and my brain goes ‘well they’re fat’ or someone who is underweight ‘wow, they look so skinny!’. Our brains do it without even meaning to. It’s an instant judgement of people. Why has society made us label people so quickly and instantly? I’m trying to make a conscious effort that if I find myself doing these things, labelling people, I will try to instantly apologise to God. I ask Him to teach me not to be so quick to judge people. I will also then try and pray for that person, pray they have a good day, pray that their life is full of happiness and that they might come to know God. It makes me sad that this is now the society our young people and young adults grow up in. It’s all they know. Instant judgement. But God is good! Ask Him to forgive your quick judgements. Ask Him to help you on a daily basis.

Verse 4 says ‘Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realising that God’s kindness leads you towards repentance?’ God. Is Enough. Let me just say that again. God. Is. Enough. He loves us. He can overcome ALL things. Not SOME things – he is all powerful and all knowing. He can overcome any mountain. And right on cue, (I told you this Spotify shuffle thing was good) ‘Waiting Here for You by Passion’ has just come on. First lyrics…..’If faith can move the mountains, let the mountains move…’ He can move mountains!! He knows how to do it. You just have to have faith that He will. Be persistent in your prayer life, ask Him for the things you want. He loves to give us things, all we have to do is ask. How amazing is that! Of course, this is great in theory, but harder in practise. It’s easy to get run down in prayer and lose faith. Why does He keep saying no? Why won’t He do this for me? Keep the faith. He promises good things for us. This is definitely something I need to practise!

Verse 5 follows on with ‘But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath.’ It may sound simple, and obvious, but it is us who suffer. For example, if someone bumps into you in the street and apologises, but you let it wind you up all day..? That person has forgotten all about it, but you have let it anger your heart. You didn’t forgive straight away. That person has just gone on with their lives. But you have let it, potentially, influence your entire day. We are the ones who suffer from an unrepentant heart.

I found myself rather angry at my old pastor for a long time. I felt like he didn’t care about myself or my husband. That the church hadn’t really looked after us, he didn’t have a relationship with us, and in my head, that was all his fault. I realise now that I let that ‘bad blood’ influence my entire church life. I started not wanting to be in church, because he was running it. I switched off during the preach, if he was talking, because my anger towards him ‘letting us down’ meant that I couldn’t engage with what he was saying to us and what he was trying to teach us. Ultimately, he was probably completely unaware, and possibly still is, that he hurt me so much by not taking an interest in me. He didn’t go to church on a Sunday thinking ‘Rebecca is really angry at me and I don’t know what to do about it.’ He went on with his normal church life. I, on the other hand, let it drive a wedge between myself and God. I didn’t engage with church, with worship, with the teaching. I was letting a stubbornness take over my church life and it ultimately drove me away from the church. We are the ones who suffer from an unrepentant heart, not the person we are angry with!

My final thought on this section of the bible comes from verse 11. ‘For God does not show favouritism.’ This one really hit me! God loves us all equally. We cannot improve our favour with Him by what we do. And this is so true. I find myself reluctant to talk to God, or worship, or pray, or even build relationship with Him, on weeks where I haven’t been to church, haven’t picked up my bible. I judge myself as unworthy to talk to God because I haven’t done anything for Him this week. Why would He help me now when I haven’t even bothered to talk to Him all week? It can end up being a bit of an endless cycle. But it’s not true. No matter how far we walk away from God, He is always waiting for us to return. He is one step behind us always.

This part always reminds me of the Return of the Prodigal Son. One of my favourite stories in the bible. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it; especially if you can feel like me, that you have to earn time with God by what you do. It’s in Luke 15:11-31. It’s not a long read and it really shows us a glimpse of how much God loves us. In short, a man has 2 sons, one of whom asks for his share in his father’s estate and he goes to a far off country and spends all of his father’s money. There is a famine in the country and he becomes in need. Meanwhile, his father at home is convinced that he is dead. When the son returned home as a servant the bible says in verse 20 ‘…But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.’ This is how God feels about us. When we make that decision to return to Him, he runs towards us! He throws His arms around us. He loves us unconditionally and this is just a glimpse at the level of compassion and love that God feels for his sons and daughters. If you ever feel lost, like you can’t be found, like it’s too late for your relationship with God, read the Parable of the Lost Son. It’s a small thing but it will help to remind you of how much God loves you and how much grace and forgiveness there is for you. He doesn’t care how long you have been away, He’s waiting for you!

So there are my thoughts on part of Romans 2. I will make sure I look at the rest of the chapter soon. I pray that this has helped you in some way or encouraged you!

Speak to you all soon xx

A Story of Faith in God

Hiya Readers!

Sorry it’s been so long. I’d like to say there is a very good excuse for it but quite frankly, there isn’t! I’m the sort of girl that loves a ‘to do’ list and ‘write blog’ has been on that list every day. Unfortunately, it seems to be the one thing that I keep missing off! So I have half an hour before I go to teach dance where I thought I would sit down and actually write something. Turns out I’m going to be writing AND scoffing my face with leftover prawn and corn chowder so that I can actually get everything done in time.

I just wanted to share a recent story with you, that happened today, which has actually made me sit down and grab my keyboard again. This has been a hard month for us in terms of money. We have had to pay for my husband’s car to be fixed; £750 later (on Dad’s mates rates) and we are officially poor! Combine that with our first Christmas as a married couple, oh!, and me quitting my job – then this has been a bit of a stretched month. So you can imagine my delight when the postman delivers 2 lovely envelopes that contain £900 worth of vet fees. Turns out my darling cat has managed to use the maximum amount of fees that the insurers are prepared to pay, and nobody thought to tell us. So we’ve been getting him lots of treatment and tests (and we still don’t know what’s wrong by the way) without realising that we would be footing the bill this time.

The first blessing is that I have wonderful parents, who have agreed to loan us the money so that we can pay off those vet fees. I am so grateful that God blessed me with such generous and caring parents. I’m 26 and the fact that they are still prepared to financially support my is incredible. My parents are not Christians, despite the fact that myself and my little brother are, but they still demonstrate such a blinding faith in their own children that they are a daily reminder of God’s unconditional love for His children.

Now the second blessing is going to take slightly more explaining. I quit my job in retail back in December, just before Christmas, because I couldn’t cope with the hours and the travelling every day. So in January, I decided to become a Primary Supply Teacher. I’d been a Primary School Teacher for 4 years before I made the difficult decision to leave the profession. Getting back into teaching has been really rewarding. I’ve only done the odd day and afternoon here and there, but being back in the classroom has definitely confirmed God’s calling for me. So having only done 2 days worth of cover, money is still pretty tight. I get £60 for an afternoon of cover and £120 for a full day. Which is a great rate, but not when you’ve only done 2 days!

On the same day as these two ‘lovely’ letters landed on my doormat and I’ve spent most of the day panicking about money and finances, I receive a call from my teaching Supply agency. I’ve been offered 3 weeks worth of full day cover in the Early Years setting at a local school! Giving me £130 a day for those 3 weeks starting on Friday. I can’t believe how gracious God is. It’s like He said to me today ‘Rebecca, I need you to trust me, and to teach you that lesson, I’m going to give you a tone of bills, and then show you that I can handle them!’ I don’t even remember particularly praying to God today – I think I was just casually speaking to Him in my head with my main message being ‘help’ and ‘what am I going to do?!’ But luckily, I have been reminded that God never gives us more than we can handle. He knew that I would totally panic when I got those £900 worth of bills. But he also knew that He was going to hand me the perfect job, at the perfect time, with more than enough to cover the bills and have a bit left over for living. What a blessing! God really does work in mysterious ways and teaches us lessons on a daily basis. I’ve never really worried about finances but God needed me to start trusting Him with my life plan, and finances were the perfect way to do that this month.

Thank you God for the hard lessons you teach us. Thank you that you never give us more than we are capable of handling and thank you that, ultimately, You are bigger than all of our problems!!

This little story reminded me of this song!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kBQnWM_OLPs

Have a listen if you get a chance, and think of all the things that God is greater than! The list is endless if you really start thinking about it. Sorry I haven’t written much over the last few weeks. I’m human. I’m not perfect. But I know I can always try and be better.

Talk to you all soon (and I mean it this time)

Laters xx

Day Three – The Church Conundrum

Hiya Readers!

If you’ve read my other posts, you’ll know that 2019 is the year I have decided I need to make more of an effort with God. Well I’m afraid to say I MAY have had a minor oops today!

Today was the day we had decided to start going to church on a more regular basis to help us become closer to God. What actually happened, is we stayed home, spent time with each other, had a shower, tidied the house and just generally had a bit of a lazy day. However…….. not church! And I think that may have been down to one vital error on our part as man and wife. We hadn’t actually decided which church we were going to and found ourselves at a bit of a crossroads.

As I’ve said in a previous post, I’ve been a part of Open Door Church for many, many years. I’ve been going since I became a Christian through the youth work and it’s all I’ve ever really known in terms of church. But I’ve recently been struggling with a number of things at the church. I don’t want to go into too much detail but the talks are very long and I struggle to pay attention, I have a little to poor relationship with the church leader and I don’t feel like the church has helped me to grow as a Christian for a long time. Of course, part of that is what I put into it as well, I’m well aware of that, but several things in our lives have been handled poorly by the church and that’s hard to get over.

However, it’s not that simple. The majority of our church family and people we care about all belong to Open Door. We’ve spent years building up relationships through Youth Team, Small Groups, social time. Admittedly those friendships would survive without us being involved in the church, but I don’t think it’s enough for friendships to survive. We have a host of friends all going through tough times and they need family and true friends around them. We love to host people at our home, cook them dinner, play games together and just spend time together. Not being part of the church and not attending Small Group would take a huge dent of that time out.

A few months ago, we started attending Woodside Church in Bedford. It’s a bit more of a drive for us to get to but the church as a whole was very welcoming. The pastor used to run Open Door and so we already have a good relationship with him. The talks are short and engaging, the worship doesn’t sing the same song for too long, the kids work is exciting for my step-daughter and everyone is really friendly. In terms of what we would be looking for in a church, it has everything we would need to help us grow closer to God. So why am I still reluctant to take the plunge away from Open Door? The idea of starting years worth of friendships again, from scratch, with a whole new range of people is scary!! To be honest, it scares the crap out of me…..

So here’s our crossroad. Do we make more of an effort to engage with what Open Door is doing so that we can love, care for and support the people in our lives who are basically family? Or do we risk starting again so that we can grow ourselves and try to actively more closer to God? Can we still move closer to God by staying at Open Door? Can we build life long friendships in a new place? I don’t actually know……

I feel as though there is a slightly more serious tone to this post but I feel better for having written it! If you’re visiting as someone who prays, please keep us in your thoughts as we try to find where God wants us and what His plan for us is.

Hopefully we’ll figure it out by next Sunday so we can actually go to church!!

Speak to you soon xxx

Day Two (that should have been Day One)

Hey Readers!

So this was meant to be my ‘Day One’ post and it has now ended up being my Day Two post because, well, life happens!

As part of my journey to building a closer relationship with God, I’ve decided to start reading through Romans in the New Testament. I put on my Spotify Worship playlist (on shuffle because God will put on what He wants me to hear right….?) and started reading Chapter 1. I then challenged my husband (after about 5 minutes through) to read through Chapter 1 too and then we could chat about it at the end. Go me!!

I wanted to share some of my thoughts about what I read in Romans 1 and things that stood out to me. The first thing that grabbed the attention of my purple ballpoint pen (yes – I love to write all over my bible!) was from verse 5 ‘…we received grace and apostleship to call people…….to the obedience that comes from faith.’ We are called to belong! It really excited me that God called us to belong to something. He chose us. He wanted us! My life, my mistakes, my choices, they didn’t just happen. It’s part of my story and God called me to belong to Him through my experiences. All that and I’d only read 5 verses at this stage!!

Skip ahead a little bit to verse 12 ‘...be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.’ I felt like God was directly talking to me about our church life (or lack of). We’ve become very lax in the amount we’ve been attending church. Life has taken over. I mean….we’re not doing bad things….just not attending church like we should be. We get offers of seeing family, spending time with friends, going on exciting days out….and they all seem to trump ‘going to church’. Combined with only having my gorgeous step-daughter on weekends, it’s easy to want to do other things. But this pat of the bible reminds me spending time as a church family is vitally important. We should be encouraged by one another. I love it when people tell encouraging stories about their life in church. It really helps me to see the movement of God in other people’s lives and how He could be moving in my life and I might not even know it or have noticed it!

The main part that really speaks to me in this chapter is verse 21. ‘For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.’ Knowing who God is not enough!! (Cue Rebecca* squirming in bed as she reads this uncomfortable verse). We have to have a relationship with Him too. This is the part that scares me the most because a relationship means, I’ve got to work at it! I can’t just keep cruising along and not actively seeking God into my day to day life. I feel like I’m making steps in the right direction. I’m now reading Romans and I’ve started my blog. But outside of those things….I’m still not really thinking about God. I don’t pray very often and if I do it is never out loud!! That is far to scary right now. But it’s a journey. A journey that I want to continue down. I can’t expect to do it all in the same day. It’s a mindset that I am trying to change. That doesn’t mean I want to force myself into a relationship (that does not sound great!) but I want it to become a natural and exciting part of my life.

So there you go. My thoughts on Romans 1. And it’s a day later than I intended but it’s all down in words. I hope you enjoy and that it gives you some thoughts on Romans. Feel free to start reading along with me 🙂

Speak to you all soon xx

*Yes – I’m one of those people who refers to myself in the third person!

Day One

So here it is……my first blog post!! *squeals excitedly*

I’ve made an active decision this year that I am going to try and build a better relationship with God! It’s been a very hectic few years for me and God has been one of those things that has just taken a ‘backseat’ in my life. So how did I come to this decision and where am I starting from…?

As I’ve said in my intro, I’ve been going to church for around 13 years now and I have found that my faith has become a bit stale. I came to church through our local youth group. My wonderful next door neighbour, and childhood best friend, invited me along one night and that was the start of my journey to finding God.

I came to a church in St. Neots called Open Door Church and continued to go to the youth group. I became closer and closer to God through my teenage years and even became a part of our Youth Team and started to guide young people through their own journey with God.

I started to distance myself from church, as so many young people do, when I left to go to university. I went to the University of Northampton for three years to study Primary Education. I got sucked into the ‘lifestyle’ that goes with university. I drunk a lot, had my share of ‘nights I’d rather forget’ and probably didn’t work half as hard as I could have done. I never found a church that I really wanted to go to and I only tried the Christian Union a handful of times. When I went home to my church in St. Neots, I felt very much ‘out of the loop’ and almost felt too ashamed of all the things I had done at university. I felt as though I didn’t deserve to be there.

After a few rocky relationships and finishing university, I decided to get back into church. Unfortunately, I never really threw myself into my faith again because I had this overwhelming feeling of guilt about my behaviour at university. I would go to church, every Sunday, but just being in church isn’t enough. It needs to be about engaging with the worship, listening to the talks and being present. It’s also not just about a Sunday morning, and as far as I was concerned, I didn’t really let God into my life on every other day of the week.

So this is where I met my husband to be; or should I say, started to see him in a different way. We’d known each other from being on the youth team for several years and had been good acquaintances but never really friends. I was finally happy being by myself and trying to trust God with my future, and that’s when He brought Jeremy back into my life. Jez was very similar to me in his walk with God. We both went to church, we were both Christians, we both attended our weekly Small Group session, but apart from that, we didn’t really talk about God, pray together or worship together. We were part time Christians.

And that brings us up to date! Sorry for the massive back story; apparently I can waffle rather a lot (another skill I learnt at university). So I’ve decided that 2019 is going to be the year that I play an active part in my relationship with God. It can’t all be one sided. If I constantly talked to Jez, made jokes with him, went on walks with him, listened to him and he did NONE of those things for me, we wouldn’t have a relationship! I’ve realised that it’s the same with God. He needs a bit of give and take. I mean – He loves us unconditionally, that’s the wonderful thing about God, but I can’t expect this empowering and life changing relationship if I don’t give anything back.

I hope that you enjoy my waffle and thoughts from my brain. I just want to write to process my thoughts and hopefully help some people on their own walks with God.

Speak to you all soon xx