Faith – Hope – Love

Faith – Hope – Love

Emma Wilson | 28 June 2020 | Sunday Celebration Testimony

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” – 2 Cor. 3:17

During this time in lockdown, I came across a song called “Be kind to yourself” by Andrew Peterson. I would really recommend listening to it if you struggle to cut yourself some slack every once in a while.
A little while ago, we heard a lot about kindness and the need to be kind to others, because we often have no idea what they are going through, what their story is. In this life we can often feel heavy and pressured, so let’s be on one another’s side, show each other kindness.
But I want to take that a step further and encourage each of us to show that kindness to ourselves, too. Often, we are our own worst critics, the least loving voice in our own minds.

But, before I go further in this train of thought, let me paint you a different picture of my mind and experience, particularly over the last few months.

As lockdown began, I felt quite shaken in many ways. A lot of uncertainties and a lack of point of reference quickly led me down a spiral of feeling pressured, incapable of balancing different things without a feeling of failing or coming short in one area or another – or all at the same time. As well as that, I felt this weight of expectation for this time of lockdown to be such a God-given gift of time for Him to speak, to reset priorities, to go deeper in my relationship with Him, to do a new work. It felt like all around me, there were people who now had this extra time on their hands to fix their house, their garden, resurrect new passions, invest in godly disciplines, and more. Having a 2-year old and being 6 months pregnant, I didn’t feel like I found myself there at all. And that was eating me from the inside. This comparison and feeling of not doing enough to see God do something in this time.

On a different page, I was being confronted with parts of my heart and mind that were not very pretty at all – parts that pointed fingers, parts that fear, hurts and insecurities, parts that were driven by performance and comparison, parts that felt so overwhelmed and anxious. Having less time to be distracted by or busy with other things left space for lies to sow seeds and my emotions to water them. In my head I was desperate to put things into place to see God do something, to do the “right things” to become closer to Jesus and more like Him in this time. There was this striving to stand pleasing before God in how well I spent my time or how much I did to pursue Him. But in that, there was no space for grace. No space for kindness towards myself. No space for love for myself.

A couple of weeks in, in various circles, we looked at the Holy Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:17 says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” I knew that was what my heart was longing for, but didn’t know how to get there (once again…). Each day, I woke up saying, “Holy Spirit, I can’t do this myself. I want more of You. I know You have more for me and for my life than this. Fill me. Help me.”

And He did. Bit by bit, I could see how these heavy weights were taken out of my backpack, as it were, and replaced with freedom:

  • Freedom to do what I can and not push myself silly; to give myself grace and time to rest.
  • Freedom in knowing that God will complete the work He has started in me – Phil. 1:6. It is His desire and His doing and He won’t let me miss out when my HEART is postured towards Him.
  • Freedom that this season is not a reflection of me as a whole person nor will it last forever.
  • Freedom in knowing that God is not finished; and He is not finished with me.

Freedom on the other side of FAITH, not works.

From different platforms, the Holy Spirit highlighted all the ways He brings freedom. He showed me the Father’s heart that cares for me, that desires to carry my burdens, that abounds in grace and kindness and LOVE. Because of what Jesus has done on the cross, I don’t have to earn my standing before Him each day; I don’t have to prove myself to anyone, including God actually. He sees my heart; He made it and knows what beats within. In Jesus, there is rest and freedom to learn from Him each day, to walk each day by His side, in His power, in His finished work.

So, in conclusion I want to encourage you:
When we look around us, it is easy to feel burdened by how we perceive others’ lives to be and how far our own is removed from that.
When we look within ourselves, we can feel the need to sort things out ourselves and make a plan to ease the feeling of guilt or fear or failing by doing “the right things”.
But when we look to God, we inherit a freedom on the other side of FAITH – faith in the work that Jesus has completed for us; faith in the Father who fully sees, fully knows and fully loves us; faith in the Spirit who searches the heart of man and desires to draw it closer to a gracious God.

My prayer for you is that you find this freedom that truly does set free from all heavy things and that brings life to the full instead.

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Keeping Your Mind Healthy

Keeping Your Mind Healthy

An article by Laura Clark

“Remember kindness – Remember His promise”

Hi, I’m Laura and I work as a counsellor in two settings: firstly in a Primary School in Gillingham with children. There, I clinically supervise a group of teaching staff who take a lead in building resilience and attachment for children.
Secondly, I work in Croydon, South London, with babies and their families and I run a therapy service in Maidstone with Lara Forza working into SEN schools.

I want to share a few thoughts about mental health. This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. This year’s theme is KINDNESS.
Kindness seems like a good place to start when considering our mental health. This is not just about the kindness we show to each other, but it is the kindness we show to ourselves also. I have worked with so many people who live with a feeling of shame about who they are or what they have experienced. In this time of lockdown, and grief for some, it might have created some new or unusual responses for you. Remembering kindness to yourself is a really good place to start.

I have put together resources which you can access at the bottom of this article. These resources are for adults and for kids. There is a PDF calendar of activities for children at school and at home – if you’d like to focus on kindness this next week – as well as lots of ideas based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which is usually the recommended therapy in times of anxiety.

So how to respond in a pandemic…

There are no black and white responses to this time. For most of us, we have never experienced anything like it. I have seen people with more introverted personalities actually feel a sense of freedom in this time in not needing to be socially active. And then there are those who have found this time painfully disconnecting.

There are a few thoughts you might want to consider and I hope this might be helpful for you.

        1.      Connectedness

If you are someone who has found solace in staying home and think you might struggle with reconnecting back in, I want to say, please, let someone climb in your life now and be face to face with people on Zoom, FaceTime, whatever. I’m not talking about accountability, I’m talking about vulnerability.

        2.      Grounding

Grounding is a good technique to fend off symptoms of anxiety and stress when things feel overwhelming. Grounding involves trying to take your mind off of uncomfortable symptoms or thoughts.
You can use the following method if you’re feeling anxious:

Start by sitting in a comfortable place and taking a deep breath. Then remember 5-4-3-2-1:

  • 5 – LOOK: Look around for 5 things you can see, and say them out loud.
  • 4 – FEEL: Pay attention to your body and think of 4 things that you can feel, and say them out loud.
  • 3 – LISTEN: Listen for 3 sounds. It could be the sound of traffic outside, the sound of typing, etc. And say them out loud.
  • 2 – SMELL: Say 2 things you can smell. If you can’t smell anything or you can’t move to find smells, then name your 2 favourite smells.
  • 1 – TASTE: Say 1 thing you can taste. It may be the toothpaste from brushing your teeth or the last thing you ate, etc. If you can’t taste anything, then say your favourite thing to taste.

Lastly, I want to encourage you with this promise from Jesus:

Matthew 11:28-30 New International Version (NIV)
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 The Message (MSG)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Words of life | The Lord is not slow about His promise

Words of life | The Lord is not slow about His promise

2 Peter 3:9 (NASB)

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”


Perspective is an interesting thing. The way I interpret a situation can be totally different from how you interpret it, yet both perspectives can be correct. Sometimes however, one perspective can be correct and the other can be skewed. This verse hit me like a hammer this morning as I read it. Peter tells us, “The Lord is not slow about His promise.” Is this a gentle rebuke? Is Peter addressing something we all do? Do we try to pull God along to join us at our pace? His statement is pretty absolute, “The Lord is NOT SLOW about His promise.” It may not be a rebuke, but it may be an instruction, “Change your perspective. Don’t count according to your understanding of slowness; the Lord is not slow about His promise.”

Another change in perspective Peter is leading us to make, is who is showing patience. We often believe it is us who are being patient towards God as we wait for Him to move in our lives. Peter states plainly that God is being patient towards us. He writes, “but (the Lord) is patient toward you.”  Our Father is wonderful. He is patient towards us, He waits for us. His endless grace and mercy have been poured out in love. It is with this great love, He patiently waits for us.

Prayer outline:

Response: You wait for me. You…wait…for me. Take the time to think about this. He is patient towards you. He waits for you. You are on His mind, even with all the millions of people speaking to Him right now, He is waiting for you. 

Father, help me hold the beauty of this reality, You wait for me. Your heart is towards me. May I know Your love afresh. There is nothing more precious than knowing Your love. In this time, may I grow closer to You. Draw me into communion with You. May I know You and be known by You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Find the whole Words of Life series here