Helen

Helen

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Posts by Helen

Out of the blue

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I was in church the other Sunday and a friend of mine was telling her wonderful story of God’s love, support and healing in her life at this time. What a great encouragement. How great is our God. What an amazing answer to prayer. What an amazing God we serve.

 

And then I was hit, smack between the eyes, completely out of the blue, by an entirely different series of thoughts. What if all of this is totally make believe? What if there is no God? What if we are all kidding ourselves? This could all be an elaborate farce that we are all buying into. It could all be explained away by coincidences, the power of positive thinking and the reasoning of science.

 

Suddenly I felt empty. I was alone in the universe. Life seemed meaningless.

 

And I was ashamed. What if anyone here knew what I was thinking? Here I was, encouraging others to move on in their faith journey, whilst being flooded with doubts I didn’t know what to do with. I told myself not to panic, but my knees were shaking. I told myself not to let anything show, but all I wanted to do was run out of the church. I told myself it would pass as quickly as it came, but I couldn’t imagine ever being able to believe again.

 

Three things helped.

 

Firstly, we sang.

“Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known and from whom no secrets are hidden…

(that’s blown my cover, then – if He’s there, then He knows)

Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit..

(that is exactly what I need – couldn’t have put it better myself)

That we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name

(that is exactly what I yearn for – with all of my being)

Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

(so let it be – Amen)”

 

Secondly, a friend sought me out after the service to tell me what an incredible encouragement my writing had been to her. It had lifted her up in a difficult time and helped her to see God through it all. Ironically, her words did the same for me. She helped me to see God at work. Seeing God in her assured me that He is at work in all of us. That’s how we know God is real. We see the incarnation of God on earth in others. We show God’s love, we demonstrate God at work, we reflect God to the world around us.

 

Thirdly, a couple of days later, I read these words from Rob Bell –

 

“I believe that the indestructible love

of God is an unfolding, dynamic reality

and that every single one of us

is endlessly being invited

to trust, accept, believe,

embrace and experience it.”  (LOVE WINS)

 

Unfolding. Dynamic. Reality.

 

Faith is not a one off decision, a single act of conversion. It’s not as easy and straightforward (or static and ‘in the past‘) as that. Faith is an ongoing series of daily decisions to trust. More than daily, even…in every moment, whatever comes our way, we have the choice to trust God or be cynical, to accept God or to reject Him, to believe God or to doubt Him, to embrace God or to push Him away, to experience God or to ignore Him.

 

Choosing to trust God with every breath we take. Whatever the circumstances, whatever the challenge, whatever the “rational explanation”, whatever the outcome, whatever the doubt.

 

Nothing can separate me from the love of God.

Nothing can separate me from God.

It’s all about love

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Many sermons have been preached, many books have been written, many discussions have taken place about how we should live as Christians. We have agonised over making the right decisions and knowing God’s will for our lives. Some of us would have loved to be handed a book of rules – a list of guidelines on how to please God. We have obsessed about how to worship, how to evangelise, how to study the Bible, how to pray. We become with preoccupied with the minute details of what we believe, determined to prove that we are right, that we know precisely and unequivocally what it takes to be a Christian.

 

Been there. Done that. Grown out of the T shirt.

 

I guess God set the Israelites on the right track with the Ten Commandments. (or 613, if you count all of them in the Book of the Law – according to Qi!)

And then Jesus simplified these commandments, which were causing some level of confusion in the interpretation in his time, into three simpler commands –

Love God.

Love others.

Love yourself.

Just one command basically. Love.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:38-40.

It does matter what we believe as Christians. But how often has that become the be all and end all of our faith, with love nowhere to be found in our heated arguments, our judgemental opinions and our superior attitudes?

 

Maybe it is all far simpler than we have been led to believe. The writer of 1 John seems to think so.

Life, fellowship, joy, light, truth….

All wrapped up in Jesus.

All there to be discovered if we obey his command.

The one command that has underpinned every command ever written.

The command to love.

 

Simple, yes. But so hard to do. Maybe that’s why we try to make it more complicated than it actually is. Maybe that’s why we bury this simple command under layers of dogma, tradition, intellectual argument and perceived spirituality. Because getting down to loving is hard.

 

Loving our partner for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, is hard.

Loving our children as they make their own (misguided?) decisions is hard.

Loving our neighbour with all their annoying little demands and habits is hard.

Loving our friends when they let us down is hard.

Loving that person at church who has hurt us is hard.

Loving ourselves when we make the same mistake yet again is hard.

Loving God when things are going wrong and He doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it is hard.

Loving the noisy person in the cinema, the inefficient shop assistant, the group of loud teenagers outside the shop is hard.

 

GOD IS LOVE. We discover God waiting for us in the situations where it is hardest to love. To strengthen us, to encourage us, to fill us with His love.

GOD IS LOVE. We reveal God to others as much through how we love them as what we say to them. Maybe more so.

 

It is that simple.

 

“Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6)

 

Live simply. Simply love.

 

Living with lies

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The boy who came back from heaven - Amazon UKAnother school holiday; another book to read. This time one that I would not normally pick up. The kind of book that does not usually attract me.  But at the moment, I’m fascinated by Heaven and that’s what this book is all about.  “The boy who came back from heaven” is the story of a young boy Alex Malarkey (I know, I couldn’t believe the name either) who is in a serious car crash with his father Kevin Malarkey. Together, they retell the events after the crash and the experiences from each of their perspectives. They tell of miraculous encounters and answers to prayer in a totally down to earth way. As if they are saying “This is what happened; you decide what you make of it.

 

I don’t really know what I do make of it, but I did appreciate the honesty surrounding the Dad’s personal doubts, the strain that his marriage was under and the apparent lack of complete physical healing for Alex.  I found Alex’s section on demons particularly fascinating. (p169-172) –

“I remember the devil telling me a lie in the car accident: “Your daddy is dead, and it’s your fault!” He is the father of lies and I am so glad I know now that he is a liar.”

 

Well, I can relate to that. I have spent my whole life living with lies. I just didn’t always see them for what they were. Looking back, I can see that I was brought up in what for me was a negative environment. Some would say realistic. For fear of succumbing to pride, we were encouraged to be down on ourselves. In a desire to keep our feet on the ground, we were constantly reminded of how unworthy we were. Positive thinking was positively frowned upon. Such an approach keeps you humble. It also keeps you defeated.

 

This is how Alex describes being around a demon –

“Well, it’s evil, scary, and ugly! They accuse me of things, bring me doubt, make me feel sad, and tell me that I will never be healed and that God won’t protect me.

I know these things sound bad, but I also know something much better: “The Spirit who lives in [us] is greater than the spirit who lives in the world” (1 John 4:4). My God is true and faithful and loving.  He’s perfect!”

 

I don’t know what to think about the personification of the devil and demons but I do know this.  Just the evening before, I had been laying face down on my bed. I never wanted to get up again. I could not face going downstairs. I was drowning in a sea of lies.

“I can’t cope any more. I am not up to this. I am getting it all wrong. I am a complete failure.  I am not cut out for this.”

I lay there listening to these words repeating on a loop in my head. I believed it all. I was completely defeated.  Lies were being whispered into my mind and taking a hold.

 

And when I read Alex’s words the next day, I knew he was right. My God is true and faithful and loving. My God is greater than the lies. Listening to lies leads to defeat. Concentrating on the truth will give me the strength to lift my head from the pillow and go downstairs.

 

It’s worth a read.

 

You can buy “The  boy who came back from heaven” from Amazon UK

Experimentation and evolution

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EmergingChurch.intro book by Michael Moynagh

EmergingChurch.intro book by Michael Moynagh. Buy from Amazon Today

My family all laugh and warn each other to “Never say never” as far as I am concerned. Like this is a bad thing. OK, so I am constantly (in my husband’s opinion) moving furniture around and rearranging rooms. I am prepared to change my mind. I have grown to love football. I am adapting with age. I believe in better – the hope of improved relationships, improved behaviour in the home, improved positive effect on the world that I live in…. – and am looking for steps to take, changes to make, to bring about that evolution.

And evolution is good. Experimentation is good. According to Michael Moynagh in the book emergingchurch.intro that I have just read and enjoyed –

“For God has chosen experiments to propel creation. What is evolution if it is not a history of experimentation? One species flourishes, another doesn’t, a third mutates. It is as if each is asking “What will work in this context?” The natural world is a living laboratory, constantly learning.” (p40-41)

 

And the same is true of human history – the advances of civilisation, industrialisation, technology. Some things have worked. Some things have not. Some things have been pure genius. Some things have been plain ridiculous. Sometimes we have said “This used to work but it doesn’t any more. What will work better?

 

And so the same is true of church. In many cases, church is not working. Phrases like “We’ve always done it this way” “We don’t do things like that here.“ “That wouldn’t work here” are stifling the adventure that is the journey of faith of the Body of Christ. Is it time to embrace experimentation? (if this interests you, then that book is a good start).

 

And what about us as individuals?

In a recent interview I heard, Rob Bell was asked to comment on the fact that he had changed quite considerably in the last ten years. (the implication was that this was a bad thing). In true Rob Bell fashion, he turned it around “Have you changed in the last ten years? Haven’t we all changed in the last ten years?”  How sad would it be if we looked back and felt that we had not changed at all? If we had learnt nothing from all our experiences, our relationships, our study? If God had not  revealed more to us and we had not grown in Him? What a waste that would be. How futile those ten years would have been.

 

A friend of mine who had never opened a Bible two months ago and is experimenting with attending church posted this comment on Facebook yesterday –

“XX is working towards a pure heart J”

Isn’t that what sanctification is all about? In practice. On Facebook.

 

Change is so exciting. Experimentation is risky and scary, but can lead to great places. Evolution opens up a world of possibilities.

Never say never.

 

Why Fools4Christ is our manifesto for life

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One of my earliest memories of my husband from when we were students is seeing him on the stage at Warwick University delivering an impassioned talk on the Upsidedown Kingdom. I was so proud, so inspired – and so unaware of where living with him in that “upside down” kingdom would take me!

 

We have lived as fools for Christ.

 

As a young couple with a new baby, we set up and ran a fair trade shop – in our spare time. My husband gave up a well paid job as a computer journalist in London to move to the North East to work for Traidcraft. I gave up work so we could foster – and then go on to adopt three extra children on top of the two birth children we already had. We moved from an up and coming area to be in the parish and community of the church we were attending. After leaving that church in painful circumstances, we returned to it three years ago to rebuild bridges and experience reconciliation. I have never returned to work outside the home to give me more time for my family, my friends and my writing.

 

We spend more on fair trade and organic products because we believe in ethical issues.

We fiddled on with recycling and composting long before it became trendy.

We take risks and get our fingers burnt.

We ask difficult questions of ourselves and others.

We are honest about our struggles and failures.

We value friendship over a perfect home.

 

Fools for Christ most of the time anyway, I hope. Sometimes maybe merely fools.

 

I use to think that getting older meant by default, getting wiser, but like so many others, the older I get, the more I realise how little I actually know. Maybe that’s what true wisdom is though – being realistic about what we do not know and seeking God’s wisdom instead.

 

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom” (1Corinthians 1:25) – which is a relief because to be honest, the wisdom of this world sucks and simply does not work

 

And a bit further on, Paul writes –

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

– which takes us full circle, all the way back to the upsidedown kingdom.

 

Hence fools4christ. Let us know about your “foolishness” for God too.

Nothing New Under the Sun

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How easy it is to find ourselves living in a world like this. Where there is nothing new under the sun. Where everyday life becomes a monotony. Where the washing basket is always full and the dishwasher always needs emptying. We travel to the same places day after day; we follow the same old routines; we meet the same people. Life is predictable, mundane – and boring.

 

And in our relationships, we play out the scenes from tales as old as time. The age old themes resurface again and again and again. It’s all been said before, felt before, done before.

 

Yet within our familiar surroundings, God is waiting to surprise us.

 

A daffodil can lift our spirits.

A stretching cat can bring a smile to our face.

The intricate detail of a butterfly’s wings can fill us with wonder.

 

Our children never cease to amaze us.

Our friends have the capacity to surprise us, when we least expect it.

And how little we actually we know ourselves!

Let’s marvel as we travel deeper into the adventure that is self awareness.

 

A flash of insight can bring a different perspective.

An exciting revelation can invigorate the most monotonous of tasks.

An unexpected discovery can feel like a glimpse of eternity.

Right here. Right now.

 

I’ve come to the conclusion that boredom is a state of mind.

An adult state of mind.

Blue Bells in Long Acre woods

We took our children for a walk in a nearby wood the other evening. They were dragging their feet, grumbling that they would rather be at home in front of the television. Until we turned a corner and there was the most amazing sight. A carpet of bluebells amongst the trees. Suddenly all the moaning and cares were forgotten. The children were scampering around excitedly like little puppies. This vibrant scene bursting with life had filled them to overflowing with joy.

 

I want to recapture that sense of abandonment. I want to be lost in wonder, awe and praise. I want to be like a child, walking around with my eyes wide open, waiting to be surprised. I want to see with the eyes of a toddler, stopping at every interesting leaf along the path. I want to look for God and find Him in the most unexpected of places.

 

I want to live life in colour, not in black and white.

 

New school assembly on SEAL Theme 5: Good to be me

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Unique You is a school assembly suitable for Key Stage 1 children. The assembly aims to remind the children of how special they are because they are unique and to challenge them to make someone else feel special today (SEAL theme 5: Good to be me).

View UNIQUE YOU on the Assemblies website »

View all assemblies »

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1 million in grants to local charities

The Orlando Magic Youth Foundation handed out $1 million in grants to local charities Wednesday money that will help tens of thousands of kids and teens facing everything from illiteracy to diabetes to domestic violence.

The Magic broke the news in an NBA draft style event at the Amway Center. David Steele, the team’s TV play by play announcer, called representatives from each nonprofit recipient up to the front, where they were given basketball trophies, framed jerseys and fat checks.

“This is huge,” said Sister Ann Kendrick, a co founder of the Hope CommUnity Center in Apopka, which received a $100,000 grant for its tutoring, mentoring and leadership development program for middle and high school students.

“We don’t have a big budget,” Kendrick said. “We’re like a little fish, but today we’re swimming with the big fish.”

She and her colleagues cheered, hugged and cried as their organization and the size of its grant were announced. It was the first time the foundation has given out checks of $100,000 apiece an amount that went to five of the 19 charities funded.

The other four were the Howard Phillips Center for Children and Families, Florida Hospital for Children, the Valencia Community College Foundation and Harbor House, Orange County’s domestic violence and prevention center.

“It’s just incredibly exciting,” said Harbor House CEO Carol Wick. The nonprofit will use its grant money for a domestic violence prevention program mandated by the 2010 Legislature to run in all public schools.

“To be able to have this funding will affect the lives of so many kids and so many communities, and we’re just thrilled that the Magic are working hand in hand with us,” Wick said.

It was one of the largest private grants Harbor House has ever received.

At the Howard Phillips Center, the new grant will help fund a program that provides free medical and mental health care to low income teens across Orange County, largely via a mobile medical unit.wholesale nfl jerseys from china Marie Martinez, operations manager for the nonprofit, said the money will cover follow up efforts for kids who are found to have more serious medical issues, such as asthma, diabetes and obesity related high blood pressure.

The $1 million giveaway was the team’s biggest charitable distribution since 2002. In past years, the Magic have simply presented the checks during halftime on game nights. This year, Magic President Alex Martins said, they wanted to give the nonprofit leaders some time to celebrate together.

“This makes it particularly fun and exciting because they don’t necessarily know they have been selected for a grant, and they certainly don’t know what amount they’re receiving,” Martins said before the event. “It’s one of my favorite days of the year.”

The money is especially precious in what for many has been an era of unprecedented demand and funding cutbacks.

“These days, the need for direct financial assistance from our program has increased close to 30 percent since just a few years ago,” said Karen Broussard, director of program development at Jewish Family Services of Metro Orlando. The nonprofit won a $50,000 grant for its family stabilization effort, which helps those tumbling toward foreclosure and bankruptcy.

“This helps us stabilize the immediate needs of the family so that they can go through the program and really learn how to deal with their situations,” Broussard said.

The Magic’s foundation has given out grant money each of the 21 years since its creation, but this is only the sixth time the total has topped the $1 million mark. Hundreds of agencies apply for the funds, which are raised through the Magic’s annual Black Tie Tennies Gala as well as an annual golf tournament, auctions of autographed sports memorabilia and fines against players for breaking team rules, such as being late to practice.

“It is part of our mission to be world champions both on and off the court,” Martins said. “It is so rewarding to us to be able to go to these children’s organizations and see the need and ultimately be able to make a contribution to the work they’re doing.”

sac bb lancelRF2w

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A côté de certaines Minx, les Spice Girls, c’est sur Sourire. Et le style de vie des Minx est à l’avenant. Là où les petites filles jouaient à “Barbie fait du Poney”, ici c’est “Ma Minx fait du binge drinking” ou pire encore, “Ma Minx prend la pilule du lendemain” (le site met à disposition des joueuses des pilules contraceptives et préservatifs virtuels)..

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13e édition du Safer Internet Day 2016 : agir pour un meilleur InternetRendez vous incontournable en matière d’éducation au numérique et d’e sécurité, célébré dans plus de 110 pays dans le monde entier,sac bb lancel le Safer Internet Day est un événement mondial organisé tous les ans par le réseau européen Insafe / Inhope pour la Commission européenne, afin de promouvoir un meilleur Internet pour les jeunes. En France, le Safer Internet Day est organisé par Internet Sans Crainte, le programme national de sensibilisation aux usages responsables du numérique opéré par Tralalere.Le Safer Internet Day sera l’occasion de lancer 2 applications pour les 9 14 ans, développées par Tralalere : DataDecode, une application d’initiation au code et à la citoyenneté numérique de la collection code decode pour mener des ateliers de création littéraire abordant toutes sortes de questions relatives aux données et GameCode pour organiser des ateliers de programmation de jeux vidéo et aider les jeunes à développer des usages plus responsables et riches en matière de jeux vidéo.Plus d’informations sur l’édition 2016Dossier de présentation (PDF)Le big data et les traces involontairesChacun d’entre nous est concerné par sa présence sur internet. Nous y laissons des traces volontaires ou non de nos usages numériques (un j’aime sur un statut ou un commentaire, une recherche sur les moteurs, une inscription ou des renseignements complétés lors d’achats en ligne ou le simple fait de se connecter).

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“Un entraîneur, c’est plus que ça, c’est un leader”, a déclaré Enrique lors de sa présentation officielle. “Il ne s’occupe pas simplement du côté tactique, mais il gère aussi les personnalités et le vestiaire. J’espère apporter mes qualités de leader tout en restant fidèle à mes principes. sac bb lancel

Si l’on veut un acteur de cette maladie, explique le Dr Robert Sebbag, vice pr du g de la pharmacie, il faut ajuster le prix la r et aux ressources de ces populations. Autre approche, mais m mobilisation pour PlaNet Finance. Fond par Jacques Attali, l’organisation de solidarit internationale a mis en place un programme d’information sur la maladie pour les b des microcr qu’elle accorde.

Facebook a constaté que l’optionQui peut trouver mon Journal avec mon nométait très peu utilisée par les utilisateurs, et qu’elle ne répondait pas à leurs attentes. Malgré l’activation de cette fonction, un utilisateur pouvait tout de même être retrouvé sur Facebook via des photos, des commentaires, ou des J’aime sur le profil de ses amis. L annoncé étant que chacun puisse mieux maîtriser ses informations..

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