In God Alone

By Emma Gray

I have been taking part in a Bible study looking at the life of David in the Old Testament. Part of that has involved looking into the Psalms, many of which David wrote. Two Psalms I have enjoyed recently have been Psalm 62 and Psalm 27. In Psalm 62 verse 5, David says, “Find rest, O my soul, In God alone; my hope comes from him”

I don’t know about you, but if something is going on in my life, good or bad, I like to talk about it with my family and friends and often, ashamedly, the last person I go to is God. People can give us good advice. At times, they can also give us bad advice. But for our souls to completely find REST, we have to go to GOD ALONE. That has two facets to it:

GOD ALONE – Only God can give our souls true rest.  When we are troubled, when we are weary, when our mind goes into overdrive, God alone can give us rest. He’s always there, waiting for us, delighting in us and ready to give us shelter under the shadow of his wings (Psalm 91). God alone is there for us, understanding when no one else gets what we’re going through. God alone is there for us when we don’t understand his will. God alone is there for us when we need intensive care and our pain is so great. We may seek rest for our souls in the company of friends, in a good book, in a walk along the beach, in trashy TV, in a glass of wine, but God alone is where we will truly find that soul rest.

GOD ALONE – Meeting together as church, as small group, as a prayer triplet are all good things which Jesus modelled for us. However, Jesus also modelled for us meeting with God alone – just Jesus and his father. If we want to model Jesus in our relationships, yes we should be regularly going to church, yes we should be part of a small group, yes it’s good to have the intimacy of two or three close friends who are believers, but let us not neglect meeting with God alone. A meeting just the two of you is so, so precious. It’s where God loves on you, his precious child, teaches you, changes you to be more like him. It’s where we find rest for our souls.

Psalm 27 v 8 says, ‘My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.’ I heard someone speaking on the radio yesterday about prayer. He said he prays because he knows God answers prayer. Whilst I wholeheartedly agree with the man that God does answer prayer, is that why we pray? Often our prayers can sound like shopping lists of things we want God to do for us. We have been singing the song, “One Thirst” recently which contains the words from Psalm 27. I was challenged as I read the Psalm and sang the song. When I come to spend time with God alone, is my single wish to seek his face or seek what he can do for me? Am I seeking to know God more when I spend time with him? Is it just a tick box exercise that I have had my quiet time that day, or am I truly seeking his face? I know I don’t often get the balance right, but I know one thing for sure, his word is true. When he asks us to seek his face, he means it. When he says our souls find rest in him alone, he means it.

So, how about you spend time today with God alone? Seek his face and let him provide for you what you need – a big dose of soul rest.

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Emma Gray

I am married to Fin and we have three daughters, Ella, Daisy and Phoebe. We live in the country and love having our home filled with people. At the moment I am passionate about tea, music, running and doing the laundry! We can be found in Inverurie on a Sunday.

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Breaking Down The Barriers

By Gill Elder

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent a lot of my life finding it hard to let people in past all my barriers – the ones I’ve intentionally put up and also the ones that I never meant to. It’s always been easy to let people in to a point and then something happens and my instinct tells me not to let someone in any further, to let up the prickles and hide in my tortoise shell. Over the past few years – God has softened my heart and I’ve realised that this is not how it’s meant to be….

I’m not supposed to hide who I am, God never asked me to. I don’t need to tackle life on my own, God never asked me to do that either.

Exodus 17:8-13 has to be one of my most favourite passages in the Bible and I have been thinking about it a lot recently…:

“So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but
whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew
tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.”

This is a really small verse in the Bible, but in my head, it just means so much and has been a massive part of my journey so far. It’s got nothing to do with the fight, but everything to do with the actions.

Sometimes I think when we read verses in the Bible, our reaction is a bit like “aww that’s nice” and
then we sort of move onto the next one, without even realising the impact of what is said – I think this verse is probably one of those verses.

Have you ever tried to hold both your hands up for a long period of time? After reading this passage, I gave it a go and to be honest, I didn’t manage to keep my hands up for very long – pretty soon in, I gave up the ghost and I decided that I just couldn’t do it anymore.

I don’t know exactly how long Moses held up his hands for, but what I am sure of is that it was a lot longer than I had managed to hold mine up for… and while he was holding his hands up to God and keeping his eyes on him, remembering that it is God who is in control, Joshua and the army were winning the battle. The most incredible part of this passage for me is where it says : “When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.” When Moses’ hands get tired and he just doesn’t have the strength to hold them up on his own anymore, Aaron and Hur are there to lift them for him, to keep his eyes focused on God and not only does that help Moses, but it also helps Joshua and the army to defeat the Amalekites.

Part of me wonders – does Moses let them in to the fact that he’s tired? Is there a sign or do they just know him well enough to know?

I used to think that is was a sign of weakness to ask for help, but the more I grow – the more I realise that it’s a sign of strength. God didn’t ask us to walk on our own – he gave us people to encourage us, to love us, to share with us, to challenge us.

The more I look back at things I’ve done and the choices that I’ve made, the more I realise that when I have let people in to walk with me in things that are going on, my choices have always been better and it’s been easier to keep my hands raised towards God because someone has been helping me to see him. In those moments, I have had people who have been a constant support and encouragement to me, who have helped me to keep keep my eyes fixed on what God is doing and ultimately, to keep winning the fight. They are most definitely my Aaron and my Hur… but who are yours?

Who are the people in your life, that when things get tough, will stand beside you and hold your hands up for you? Who are the people that you can tell absolutely anything to and know that they won’t judge you but they will continue to love you and to walk with you? Who are your Aaron and Hur?

But also, if you flip reverse all that. Who are you an Aaron and Hur for? Or who can you be an Aaron and Hur for?

I recently felt like I had a word from God about running the race: I saw a race happening before my eyes and people were at the starting line cheering on the runners and then I saw people at the end waiting to cheer the runners over the finishing line, but nobody had managed to get to the end. I felt like God said that it’s not enough just to cheer people on at the start and then wait for them to get to the end. It’s about cheering them on up every hill, every valley, every moment when things feel like they’re going okay and every moment when they’re not… but for people to keep cheering us on, we need to be real with them about where we are in the race.

The comforting thing is that we weren’t created to walk this journey alone, we’re not meant to just ‘cope’ by ourselves. We’re supposed to let people in through the barriers and help us to navigate through the things that we struggle with… and when we become Aarons and Hurs for others and allow them to do the same for us, then we can all hold each other’s hands up and win.

 

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Gill is married to Ali and together they lead our Stonehaven site. They have a 5 month old little boy called Levi who is super cute! She’s desperate to see the love of God known in her community and to see people experiencing His grace and presence for the first time. She loves all things admin, reading and going for long walks as well as spending time with friends and family. She enjoys playing board and card games and is surprisingly good at them despite not always knowing what she’s doing – ligretto is hands down the firm fave!

From Darkness to Pure Joy!

CHAPTER 1

Sigh.. another day of “same old, same old”, no idea what’s going on, how do I cope with the nonsense, topped with an attitude of “fine, whatever” towards the caring souls who I’m glad to say have stuck around! This was how my life used to be. I am delighted to say this is no more, but let’s step back in time, and I’ll share with you how AMAZING God has been in completely transforming my life.

I came to City Church around 6 years ago, looking for another home, and was greeted at the turny-roundy-bit by no other than Jude McBean (God has an ace sense of humour, I’ll explain later). I loved it so I kept coming. As so many do, I came with heaps of heavy baggage, not really any idea who I was, or what I was for, even though I was a Christian. I had been in and out of spirals of self harm, drinking and depression for years. I’d ‘get better’ then fall back in it again and again.

One day, I felt this need within me to talk to a good friend specifically about this. I felt so low, I really didn’t want to be here anymore. But hang on – I don’t talk about my feelings, I do destructive things instead, because that’s all I know! It turns out talking was the first step of the rest of my life. Of course, life didn’t change overnight, much to my disgust. It meant eventually doing some counselling (more talking about feelings? Oh no, thank you, I’m fine!) and doing some prayer ministry, which I loved and hated at the same time. Being vulnerable is not on the top of my to-do list!

It’s hard to explain how horrible I had been feeling – darkness over me all the time, a heavy weight around my head, negative thoughts – these are all normal, right? Well, apparently not! One verse that was prayed over me and has stuck with me is this:

‘Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’. Romans 12:2

This ‘transforming of my mind’ took some time, and it also meant taking time out from serving in Stonehaven to find who I was and what I was for. I hated being on the sidelines! I was very grumpy at this decision, but I see now it was the best thing to do.

When the darkness lifted, I found JOY for the first time in my life, it was incredible. I felt as if my head had finally lifted, all around me was daylight and not darkness! This was really weird! I found myself almost looking around wondering “where has this heavy darkness gone”?! I was almost missing it, because it had been all I knew.  

‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’ Nehemiah 8v10

I had found joy! With that, I now had a freedom to go and be who God had called me to be. Which takes us to the next chapter…

 

CHAPTER 2

Over time, I got back into serving, being part of the worship team, and also found myself wanting to join the M.A.D. Minis team. What?! I had done kids work before in a previous church, but it wasn’t a particularly positive experience. I said God has a sense of humour right? When the Stonehaven site launched (when I wasn’t in a great place), Jude McBean came and did training with us about kids work.  To be honest, I’ve no idea what it was about really – I wasn’t interested and wasn’t listening (sorry!). Jude has said to me since then that she felt there was something for me in the M.A.D ministry. My response was “nope, that’s way off, Jude”.  WELL, fast forward some years…. I enquired about “maybe, just maybe” coming on a Minis team  Turns out I LOVED being on Minis! I had an awesome time, and it was so valuable. God reignited a passion in me that I lost years ago, and over time I became a team leader for Minis.

In Summer 2016, I felt God speak to me about becoming Site Kids Leader (SKL). “That is insane, Lord, don’t be daft, that isn’t you speaking … is it?” It was also a bit awkward – no one had said anything to me about this role, I certainly hadn’t been offered a position, so I had to be the one to broach the subject – cringe! Turns out I didn’t need to worry – the conversation went much better than I thought it would. We both had the same feeling that it was meant to be me. Phew! And Rock on!

Being SKL is amazing, I love what we do, how we do it and the privilege it is to tell these kids about Jesus, it rocks! I am on a M.A.D. team now which came with some doubts in itself, but man, I love it. How could I doubt, when God had all this in hand? In recent months I have become more passionate about this ministry, and hungry to see God at work in the lives of our kids.

I’m not the most patient but I have learnt that God has a plan, and looking back, I know God’s timing is always perfect.

‘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’ Jer 29:11

Amen to that! Is life perfect? Not at all. I had a recent blip, but with some help and prayer ministry I’m doing better again. Hard times come, but great times come too! I also now know that talking about ‘my stuff’ isn’t so bad (once I get started) and that people have my back, and that God is right there. All the time. He will never leave me nor forsake me.

Ange Oyejide
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ABOUT ME: You can find me at the Stonehaven site, making a lot of noise either in Mad, or in the worship team, drumming away. Love. It. I’ve been married to Ola since 2015, you’ll find us walking around Stoney getting our steps done for the day [#obsessed] or feet up watching a movie or football. I love rock music, great coffee and spending time with the special people in my life.