Matthew’s Vows . . .

Matthew’s Vows . . .

The title of this post is a link to a recording I found on Matt’s phone; it is him saying his wedding vows. He must have recorded it in order to help him memorise them. 

It’s really strange hearing his voice – hearing him say my name.

xx zs

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Work . . .

Work . . .

Just in case, I will leave my things packed
So I can run away

I cannot trust these voices I don’t have a line of prospects that can give some kind of peace
There is nothing left to cling to that can bring me sweet release
I have no fear of drowning
It’s the breathing that’s taking all this work

Do you know what I mean when I say, “I don’t want to be alone”?
What I mean when I say, “I don’t want to be alone”

Empty spaces with shadows hit by streetlights
Warnings signs and weight of tired conversations
In the absence of a shoulder, in the abscess of a thief
On the brink of this destruction, on the eve of bittersweet
Now all the demons look like prophets and I’m living out
Every word they speak, every word they speak

Do you know what I mean when I say, “I don’t want to be alone”?
What I mean when I say, “I don’t want to be alone”
What I mean when I say, “I don’t want to be alone”

Do you know what I mean when I say, “I don’t want to be alone”?
What I mean when I say, “I don’t want to be alone”
What I mean when I say, “I don’t want to be alone”
Alone, alone, I don’t want to be alone

I have no fear of drowning
It’s the breathing that’s taking all this work

xx zs

Grace . . .

Grace . . .

‘So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.’ (Romans 11:6)

‘Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’ (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

‘I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!’ (Galatians 2:21)

‘But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.’ (Ephesians 2:4-9)

‘But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.’ (Titus 3:5-7)

. . . . .

I have been a Christian for a number of years now, but I don’t think I have ever fully grasped the truth of grace – of God’s grace in saving me. I thought I understood it; I know that we are saved by grace not by works, I know there is nothing we can do that would deserve salvation, I know it is an undeserved and freely given gift. But I don’t think that I have been living that way.

I think that deep down I am still trying to earn my freely given salvation. I am still seeking to ‘pay God back’ for the love and forgiveness He has shown me.

I have noticed this recently as I have been receiving replies on this blog. Individuals have been lovingly reminding me that no matter what I am feeling right now, God loves me. They have been assuring me that it is okay for me to not have the words of thanks to bring to Him in prayer – He understands. As I have been reflecting on these kind words from others God has been showing me that I am still holding on to my own self-righteousness, good deeds and works. I put too much emphasis on my own seeking of God – my Bible reading, studying, listening to worship music, etc – and fail to simply rest in His presence…somewhat like a Pharisee.

So I am praying that God would be reminding me daily – no, hourly – that his grace is sufficient for me. That He loves me despite my deeds.

Praise God for His goodness!

xx zs

(oh, and the title is a link to a little video that illustrates God’s grace)

‘Theology Matters’ . . .

‘Theology Matters’ . . .

One of the obstacles that I face daily is the feeling, (I want to write ‘reality’ but I’m unsure if that is the correct word as I struggle to look at my situation objectively), that I have very little to look forward to in my future. The things that I eagerly awaited and that excited me about life have been snatched away.

Spending my entire life with my best friend.

Travelling with him.

Making a home with him.

Starting a family with him.

Growing old with him.

In reality these things have all gone. They will not be happening. As a result of this knowledge I find myself living under in a cloud of colourlessness, dreariness and a lack of excitement.

Now, I know that as a Christian my satisfaction ought to be found in Jesus and despite my circumstances I am called to faithfully honour, glorify and follow him with joy (please note that I didn’t write ‘happiness’ as that is a very different word – they are not synonyms). I know this. But if I am completely honest, when I wake up each day and realise that my plans have been thwarted and have been overridden by God’s plans, the knowledge of God’s love and salvation sometimes doesn’t cut it. It sounds terrible, but right now for me it is true. A future here on earth without Matthew seems really bleak.

I will be praying against this. I will be praying that I can be fully satisfied in Christ and that he will renew in me a passion for life and ministry.

I do have some news though: I have applied and been accepted to continue my Diploma of Theology at Sydney Missionary Bible College (SMBC) as a part-time student. So starting in about a month I will be going up to college one day a week and will begin to chip away at completing my diploma.

Am I ‘looking forward’ to it? Yes. And no. I do love studying theology and getting deeper into God’s word, but I am also quite anxious about the social side of it (I have recently been finding great amonts of comfort in my hermit-like style of life). Having to face the world is daunting, but deep down I know it will be good for me to start getting out of the house and meeting people.

I find it interesting the amount of people who ask “So when you finish your diploma, what do you get? What does it give you? What sort of job do you get from it?” For me it’s not about getting a piece of paper or a job…it’s about getting to know God better. It’s about growing in my love and understanding of Him. It’s about learning to better understand the Bible and how to apply it to my daily life. It’s about so much more than a mark. (Surely our relationship with God is the most profitable thing to invest in!)

If you have a couple of minutes check out the video that I linked to the title of this post. I often watched this video when I started my studies a couple of years ago, and I sometimes even watch it before Bible study.

xx zs

 

‘Identity’ – Lecrae (feat. Da Truth, Jr)

‘Identity’ – Lecrae (feat. Da Truth, Jr)

Many weeks ago my Soul Sister gifted me with an itunes gift card, so today I had both the pleasure and excitement of purchasing my very first album on itunes. Yes I know; I am far, far behind the times, especially for a lover of music like myself. Anyway, I decided to buy Lecrae’s album ‘Rebel’ and have been pumping it through my oversized headphones for the last couple of hours. It’s not only great to listen to, but it also motivated me to do some housework and washing…for the win!

As I was hanging my clothes on the line the song ‘Identity’ came on and it really struck a cord in me. I’ve linked the title of this post to a YouTube version of the song so you can have a listen, but if you haven’t heard any of Lecrae’s music I’ll just let you know that he is a rapper (for those anti-rap readers out there).

I think that it is very well-know among Christians that we are called to find our identity in Christ, and in Christ alone. I also think that if you were to ask the people who belong to our churches they would say that yes, they place their trust in and find their identity in who they are in Christ. I think if you asked me this question, I would also answer the same.

But do I really? Do you really? Can you honestly say that you don’t conform to the patterns of this world in order to ‘fit in’, or be accepted by your peers? This song has definitely made me re-think my identity and my value.

He’s Christian, he gave his life

But he still ain’t satisfied in the savior Christ

Still finds his identity in looks and cars

If he only knew that he ain’t have to look so hard

If he looked in God

It may seem odd

But he be so satisfied, he can leave it all

I feel like this very much describes me. I have given my life to Christ, but I don’t think I have been fully satisfied by him. If I lost all my possessions; this house, my toys, my books, my technology, my car, etc., would I be satisfied with knowing Christ? Would you? I think I have had a little bit of insight into this in loosing Matt. If there was one thing that stood dangerously close to God’s place in my life, it was my husband. Matt’s awful death has reassured me in my faith and has showed me that I do in fact have God as number one in my life – because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to cope with this pain and loss. And if I can think of anything good to come out of this mess for me, that is it.

Having said that though, I am also very aware that I still worry too much about appearance and acceptance. And I know that this is a huge problem in our churches too, and especially in our youth groups. It is so hard for our youth (especially girls, but also boys as well) to dress modestly, because the cultural norm is for them to wear skimpy shorts, skirts and dresses, and low-cut tops. I personally know of girls who agree that modesty in important, but are unable to stand up under the pressure of feeling like they need to ‘fit in’. That is where this verse comes in;

Got her hair done, toes, nails

Is that Her, well it’s hard to tell

Cause she’s so caked up in all that make up

It’s like she tryna make up for what she ain’t but,

She’s a saint, but so confused

Cause she’s been rejected by all these dudes

That tell her on a scale of 10 she’s a two

But that ain’t true

If she only knew

In Christ she is loved, she secure and accepted

Never be rejected by God whose elected her

Her beauty is her Godliness

And she ain’t gotta flaunt it cause it’s obvious

Identity is found in the God we trust

And any other identity will self destruct

Identity is found in the God we trust

And any other identity will self destruct

I am personally thankful that I am not a youth today because I think they they have it really tough! I don’t know what the immediate answer is, but I think that overall our youth – and ourselves – need to be exposed daily to the Gospel; to the truth of Jesus. We need to be reminded daily that God loves us no matter how much stuff we own or how much beauty we possess. The rates of depression, anxiety, self harm and eating disorders are growing fairly rapidly, and I believe that some of (not all of) the statistics can be attributed to a lack of the Gospel playing out in our lives. And that is another reason why I believe that youth ministry is so important.

Anyway, I’m really enjoying Lecrae’s music at the moment, as well as other Christian rappers and spoken word artists, so don’t be surprised if there are future posts containing some lyrics and links!

xx zs