For as far back as I can remember I always enjoyed drawing and “colouring”; I loved to sit at my little desk at home and pretend I was a teacher, or an artist or some such profession. In primary school one of my favourite lessons was painting, I loved messing about with all the colours! I was never really encouraged to “create” it was just another lesson on the curriculum.
At secondary school the “Art Lesson” was much more structured and, can I say, serious. It was here that those with any kind of talent were sifted out from the bunch and encouraged on to greater things……which didn’t include me, in fact I was “told” I couldn’t draw. At the time it didn’t really bother me that much, I still carried on with my scribbles at home. I still enjoyed colouring and also drawing Disney characters from books.
As an adult I let it all go, I guess I just didn’t really have time or even the thought of drawing and painting. When my children arrived I did all the things you do with kids with paints and crayons and scissors and glue. I really loved that!
In my older years I started to ignite the creativity within me again; I started photography first, I particularly enjoy outdoor nature photography. My husband bought me some really good camera equipment and off I went! I am still very amateur but I enjoy it immensely and that’s all I’m bothered about. I’m not out to “rock the world”!
I have a few friends who are very good at art, drawing painting and such. One of them started a Facebook page called Luton Christian Arts Community; that first month she set a challenge of drawing something different every day, the subject matter was always given. I thought “why not!?” My pencils and paints were taken out of hiding and I started to “dabble” again. I was enjoying it so much I can tell you! I know I’m not great, but the more I tried the more improvement I saw.
You see it doesn’t matter what age you are, I’m sixty now, you can rekindle or even start completely afresh on something. You’re never too old to learn new things and it’s never too late. It’s taken me about forty years to get going again, don’t wait like I did.
As I write this I have to admit that I haven’t done any work in the past few months because life has just taken over. But today I was talking to my friends about it again and I feel ready to pick up the pencils and get going. Perhaps the longer daylight hours are nudging me!
Easter weekend holds so much special meaning to me as a Christian; without Easter I wouldn’t have the new life I found over 30 years ago! Easter is a time for both remembrance and celebration. On Good Friday we remembered the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus. The Son of God was the only person who could make such a sacrifice, who could go through a most awful death, to have crude, rough nails hammered into His hands and feet, a spear plunged into His side, a crown of long, sharp thorns pressed heavily into His skull. He was tortured and ridiculed….FOR US.
Then Easter Sunday morning we celebrated! Jesus, risen from the dead, living! The one act that separates Jesus from all other “gods” is that HE IS ALIVE! His grave is empty. Because of Him I too can live a resurrection life. My old life has been completely washed away….completely rubbed out…GONE! Of course I remember it…but when God looks at me He only sees me through Jesus. He doesn’t see all the awful things I did and said. I have no righteousness of my own, I’m wearing “the coat of righteousness” only Jesus can give. I’m completely forgiven! I still mess up , I still say the wrong stuff sometimes, I still do the wrong things sometimes, I still have some really bad thoughts sometimes…and I still get angry sometimes…….don’t we all?
On Good Friday evening I was feeling pretty rubbish, on the Thursday before, my husband suffered six epileptic fits in one day. It was very scary and upsetting and on top of that I wasn’t feeling well either. I had a sore throat, and chesty cough and felt rough because of the Fibromyalgia I suffer with.
Something happened when I arrived at church that upset me a lot. I felt crushed, frustrated, angry….I had to get away to cry. I guess, for me, it was the last straw! I over-reacted concerning the matter……..I realised later.
I sat through the service, I signed for the deaf. I had a bright spotlight in my eyes the whole time which had now given me a migraine on top of everything else!
At some point I decided I should apologise to the person concerned. After the service I sought the person out to say sorry, that I’d over reacted. I wanted to explain why but this person really didn’t want to hear it. I needed some grace and forgiveness….and a listening ear. Instead it was a lot of tears and backlash, I was made to feel it was all my fault. I knew I was wrong but there are always two sides to everything.
I couldn’t help thinking about what had just been preached…”Jesus didn’t come to rub it in, He came to rub it out!” Surely we should do the same when someone wrongs us and then apologizes, shouldn’t we be gracious enough to accept it and move on….not go on and on about it to really punish the offender, not keep rubbing it in?
We got over the incident, (I think), and hopefully it’s behind us now.
The bottom line is……..I really learnt something AGAIN that night. WE ARE HUMAN! We will say and do things that will upset and offend, but when we receive an apology let’s also be gracious enough to accept it, to put things right. Let’s not RUB IT IN!!!!
1How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! 2It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. 3It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
This is just a short piece of writing, but it reflects how I feel. We make so many unimportant things “important” in our lives that we miss the really important stuff!
I wonder how many of us girls think of ourselves as a “warrior”. Probably not many, but we are; everyday we find ourselves in battles – whether it’s with our kids, our husband, our work colleagues, our school mates or maybe it’s our health or our finances, or perhaps it just feels like life in general is one long battle at the moment – that makes you a warrior; and the easiest thing sometimes is just to say, “I give up, I’ve had enough!” But real warriors don’t do that; where would we be if Jesus, the greatest warrior ever, had given up and said “I’m back off to heaven they can sort out their own sins and problems”. Thankfully He didn’t do that, He went through the biggest, most difficult and most painful battle of all, something far worse than we will ever have to face. But He trusted His Father to take Him through it and that’s what we can do. Jesus said, “Not My will but Yours be done”.
I would like to talk a little about the Armour of God – the essential equipment God has given us to get through our battles; let’s read Ephesians 6:10-18.
When Paul wrote to the Ephesians, he had to describe spiritual warfare in terms that the people could understand. In that day Ephesus was under the rule of the Roman Empire, and soldiers weren’t separated from the public like today – they didn’t have army bases, the soldiers were housed in and around cities, towns and villages. It was normal to see soldiers marching through the middle of town every day. They were dressed the same as when they went out to battle, in full armour. They were a fully prepared fighting force ready to act on a moment’s notice; and because they were such a familiar site, Paul could use their image for what he was trying to get across to the Christians at Ephesus.
Paul describes each element of the armour as a piece of equipment that we as Christians need to live our daily lives – our “spiritual” armour. So I would like to try and explain this armour using things that we women can, I hope, relate to. Starting from the top of the body and going down to the feet.
The helmet that was popular in the Roman Army was made not only to protect the skull, but also had a sloping edge down the back to protect the neck and two flaps that draped down between the ears and the eyes. The protection for the back of the neck was because they used swords, and one of the best ways to overcome an enemy was to approach from the back to cut the head off, because headless soldiers aren’t very good fighters. The flaps of metal between the eyes and the ears were to protect from sword blows from the side.
If a person isn’t, what the bible calls “Born Again” in Jesus then he or she isn’t saved by God’s grace and has no salvation. Our new life, our salvation is the foundation that the rest of our spiritual life stands on. The salvation given to us was paid for by the precious blood of Jesus when He died on the cross, which makes us clean and brings us into the Kingdom of God. So putting on the Helmet of Salvation is really recognising each and every second of every day that we belong to God.
Also, our minds are sometimes the first place for battles to begin. Sometimes we are more a “worrier” than a warrior. Our minds are bombarded every day with so much stuff – some good, some bad. Once these things are processed by the brain, the information goes to the heart, where if it is something good it brings us joy. But if it’s bad or against what God wants for our lives, and it is not dealt with while in the brain, it will also find it’s way to the heart and grow there and will eventually affect our whole being. So dealing with stuff immediately is important. That is why Paul says in Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
We need to protect our minds, be careful what we read, watch on TV, what jokes we join in with, what places we go to. We need to have our helmet of salvation on at all times to protect us.
The Breastplate of Righteousness (A Bra)
A person who accepts Jesus and becomes a new person, is righteous in God’s eyes. They become righteous because they trust in Jesus – we are clothed in His righteousness. We have no righteousness in ourselves – the bible says in Isaiah 64:6 that “our righteousness is as filthy rags”.
But it doesn’t end there, we have a part to play; we should always aim to live righteous lives. A Warrior is strong, but that means more than being able to lift a 200lb weight or being able to break a brick!! It means being willing to endure, to do the right thing, over and over again, no matter how hard, or how boring it gets; to live the life God wants us to live, to make those right choices and so protect our hearts. And besides you never know who is watching!
The Belt of Truth (A Belt)
The soldier’s belt was used to support the armour and keep it in place, and to take some of the weight of the armour off of the shoulders. It also had a piece that hung from the belt down in front of the soldier to protect vulnerable areas from injury.
The belt in our Armour is the truth that Jesus walks into battle with us every day. Jesus is the truth of God, sent to us in human form:
Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”
Just as the belt held the armour in order, so Jesus in our lives keeps us in order and holds us together. He is the binding force that keeps our lives from falling apart. Truth holds things in place for us! Also, it’s important that we are truthful and trustworthy.
We need to remember the truth of who we are in Jesus Christ every day. We are God’s children. We are loved by Him. You are the daughter of an awesome King – a princess!! He died for us. When we are in a battle it’s the first thing to remember; nothing, absolutely nothing can touch us that doesn’t first pass through the hands of our loving and powerful Heavenly Father.
The Shield of Faith (A Handbag)
The Roman shield was rectangular and was about as tall as the soldier himself. He could use it while using his sword or he could crouch behind it to protect himself from arrows and spears. The Roman soldiers also did something else; before battle, they would soak their shields in water until they became saturated. It made them heavy, but it also made the flaming arrows that the enemy would shoot at them fizzle out.
We are told to take up our shield of faith, pick it up, get hold of it, it’s the knowledge that our God has our lives in his full view and that He is in control of every situation or circumstance that comes against us. Faith does not only believe that Jesus is our Saviour and Lord, it believes Jesus for his promises, His love, and His grace. Faith can’t just be proclaimed, it has to be a way of life.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
And we can soak our shields of faith in “Living Water” – the Holy Spirit – In John 7:37 Jesus says “Whoever believes in Me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” Our faith is strengthened by the Holy Spirit that lives within us and we need to be soaked in it every day.
The Sword of the Spirit (A Bible)
The Roman sword was short; it was double edged, very sharp and made of very strong metals. The Romans spared no expense where their soldiers were concerned. They knew that the soldiers were all that stood between the barbarians and their lifestyle.
The reason why it was such an effective weapon to the Romans was not the weapon itself, but the skill of the soldier. The Romans were the best swordsman in the world. They were put through rigorous training, both hand to hand and sword to sword. Their skill with the sword made their enemies tremble in fear. The Romans used the sword both as an offensive weapon to strike blows and a defensive weapon to fend off the strikes of their enemies.
Likewise, the Word of God, the Bible, should be the Christian’s best offensive and defensive weapon; and we need to be skilled in using it. Hebrews 4:12 tells us…
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
When we quote scripture in times of spiritual battle, it is really Jesus saying those things to the enemy. In effect, you are quoting not only Jesus’ words, but are presenting Jesus as the commander of the battle and it causes the enemy to shudder and run.
Jesus was led into the wilderness for 40 days and while there He was tempted by Satan. Jesus could have said anything to get rid of Satan. But He chose every time to use the Sword of The Spirit; the Word of God. He said, “It is written…” We should be imitators of Christ Jesus. So if Jesus used scripture to rebuke Satan, it should be the same for us too.
The Footwear – “with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace (A Pair of Shoes)
Footwear was essential for Roman soldier. In the heat of battle a lot of fancy footwork was needed to insure that you didn’t get killed. Mostly, the soldier’s battle was hand to hand with the enemy within five feet. Enemies could approach from all sides and they needed to move around a lot to stay in control of their situation.
Their shoes were thickly studded with sharp nails to help them grip the ground. History tells us that the successes of both Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar were due to their shoes. So our spiritual shoes need to be right.
We should be ready to go out at any time to present the Gospel of Peace, to tell people about Jesus.
1 Peter 3:15 says “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
The shoes also mean we have a sure foundation or base. It means that we have already been reconciled to God through the Gospel of Peace, giving us a firm foothold in our battle.
We have peace with God and peace in troubled times.
So we see that the Armour of God is very important and we need to clothe ourselves with it every day. It starts out with the knowledge of our salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus. With salvation comes righteousness through faith. Righteousness is given by God, but also must be maintained through acts of faith. When we are saved and righteous we wear the belt of truth and become truthful people in a world of lies and deception. We also become truthful by our daily walk with the Master of Truth, Jesus, and by reading His book of truth. With the Gospel Shoes on our feet we stand on the truth of God’s word and it keeps us on a firm footing, allowing us to fight our enemy. With our shield of faith, dipped in the spring of living water, the Holy Spirit, we are able to hide from the flaming arrows of Satan and have those arrows quenched. And we have the sword of His word to fight with.
Lastly, Paul talks about prayer, we can ask for help in our fight. We are also told to pray for each other, for each others battles. No army is made up of only one individual because that would be suicidal. So, as the Army of The Living God, we must fight together to win for Jesus. We need to be prepared.
In the Message translation of the Bible it says in Ephesians 6:12-13,
“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.”
Are you ready?
I don’t know your battles, but I know mine and I know that I need to be clothed with God’s armour if I’m going to win. I hope tomorrow morning when you are in your bedroom getting dressed you’ll remember to put your armour on too. Every day we just get dressed without particularly thinking about it, it’s natural. Let’s make it the same for our spiritual armour. And our clothing doesn’t just jump out of the wardrobe and get on our body we have to put it on, it’s the same with our armour, it’s a conscious decision.
Maybe you need to take the first step, by putting on the helmet of salvation – asking Jesus to come into your life and forgiving all your wrong doings – what the Bible calls sin, and allowing Him to become the most important person in your life. You can do that right now.
Maybe you’re already a Christian and you haven’t been wearing your armour and you realise you need to start doing that. Battles in your life are overwhelming you. I’m not saying all your problems will disappear like magic – God never said life would be easy – in fact He said in John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
He promises to walk through your battles with you, no matter what they are. God’s not afraid of the mess that surrounds you! Hebrews 13:5 says, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you”
No matter what you are going through, pray about it. I cannot encourage you enough. Pray for peace. Pray for wisdom. Pray for understanding. Whatever you feel you need to get through your situation, pray about it.
‘Pray without ceasing’ 1 Thessalonians 5:17
I quite literally pray about everything, from finding car spaces to making life decisions. Yes, the former may sound a little silly, but when you’re a single girl, out and about at night, believe me, you want a car space that’s close to the entrance! And He comes through . . . every time.
I remember being at the city train station with a friend. It was getting dark. We were only seventeen and had missed our train. Lingering around the train stop was a group of drunk rowdy guys. The situation made me uneasy to say the least. I wasn’t prone to using public transport, I had…
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