worship

Lately I’ve been learning about worship. How it’s more than just singing songs on Sunday mornings, more than praying at night. More than thankfulness, more than raised hands, more than lifted voices. Worship is a way of thinking and way of living day-to-day life. Romans 12 taught me this – it transformed the way I say what worship truly is.

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Worship is a way of living – it is the surrender of your life to be a life that pleases God. People think that sacrifice and surrender only result in losses and difficulty, but Jesus assures us that whatever we give out or surrender, we will gain abundantly more than what we have given up and lost (the parable of the servants and the coins). Our “true and proper worship” is something that isn’t momentary – it isn’t limited to a time of the day, or an amount of time set aside to worship – it is a continual way of living. It is rooted in us being different and set apart – not “conforming” to the world. Not only are we called to not conform but we are called to be “transformed” – we are called to replace the lies of the world with the truth of the Gospel, and to replace the actions of the world with actions of love. Our minds will be transformed when we read God’s Word and align our minds with His. We will be more filled with the fruit of the spirit: joy, love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. We will see ourselves and those around us with new eyes, and that will translate into more loving, kind, peaceful… actions. This means that non-conformance is not just a passive thing. It is not just saying “no” to things – it is an active thing: intentional and something that we pursue. Then, as a result of living a life of intentional worship, we “will be able to test and approve what God’s will is” – we will begin to know what God’s plan for our lives as we take active steps to pursue a holy life! And that leads to such amazing results! Because God’s plan is the best plan for us! He created us and knows exactly what will excite us and fulfill us, and has a unique adventure in store for us! His plan promises “life in all its fullness” (John 10:10) for each of us. So, we can trust that it will be the best decision of our lives to pursue a life of worship that leads to God’s perfect plan!

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where I am in my faith

I have built my life on something strong,

Something that grounds me to the depths of the earth

But also suspends me into the air in freedom and expectation.

Security as I am grounded in the earth mingled with the hope of the air –

The potential of immeasurable and abundant growth.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers – Langston Hughes’ words only take me so far.

I need more:

My soul has grown deeper than the rivers.

My soul has grown with the rivers – by the waters of the rivers –

But my soul stretches deeper into the earth

than the rivers’ deepest etches in the earth.

Out of my heart flows rivers, propelling me forward into the future –

The current moves freely, I don’t need to swim or struggle,

I flow – my future is brought into now.

I am a tree planted by streams of living water,

my roots spread wide under the riverbed.

I am a seed planted in good soil – deep-rooted and secure in my growth

And potential for growth.

I feel how my roots have reached deeper than ever before

How they are stronger than ever before. I trust myself where I am planted

And where I will grow.

film photos

There’s something so exciting and special about getting film developed. Not knowing what the photos will look like until you open up the little envelope; having each moment printed off to hold in your hands… It’s sentimental and nostalgic. So here are some photos from my recent roll of film. Enjoy:

wildflowers

Something that’s been on my mind. Lately I’ve been scrutinising every part of myself every time I look in the mirror, and all I’ve been seeing have been the parts of me that I’ve wanted to change. But this truth has been starting to take root: I’m wholly beautiful. Not just the good parts of me – all of me. And some day I’ll look in the mirror and not see the parts that I want to change; I’ll see something created, growing, blooming & wholly beautiful — unique and incomparable like the flowers.

happy accident

this photo was taken during heavy snow one morning. I was so excited, I wanted to get a good picture of the snow falling and the whiteness everywhere. This was my film camera so each picture counted. It was on automatic flash so it flashed when I took a picture since it was still a bit dark — I was devastated. I was sure that the flash would have ruined the photo. So I took another one without the flash. But when I got the photos back, it wasn’t the one without flash that was memorable – it was the accidental flash one that looked the coolest. I don’t exactly know what this post is about but I just wanted to share that happy accidents do happen and that you can get some pretty pictures even when you don’t get to control what the camera does.

screen-shot-2018-04-09-at-1-56-34-pm.png

this was what the snow looked like without flash – the camera didn’t pick up the snowflakes without flash!

the whole story

On Sunday, I was baptised. And those of you who were there will have heard me speak a little bit about how I became a Christian and the difference having Jesus in my life makes  – but that is not all. There was so much more that I wanted to say, there is so much that God has done in my life (more than I could even fit in this blog post, but I’ll try and say a few!), and so many reasons why I decided to get baptised. So now I can say it here.

This is why I decided to be baptised:

So, you’ll know from previous blog posts I went to Swaziland in October, and was totally moved by the life-changing power of God’s presence, and of the hope Jesus provides to seemingly hopeless situations. So, I came home from this trip totally inspired and pumped for God. I was excited by what he was doing and wanted to do what we were doing over in Swaziland all day every day. So it was actually quite hard coming home to the UK, reverting back to normal life, going back to school. Coming home transformed from a trip and finding home unchanged was hard – I felt like my values had completely changed and yet everyone else around me still cared about school and other things, when all I cared about was what I cared about in Swaziland – mission. But eventually I learnt that God places me where he wants me to be, and that I can still be used by him to spread his good news back home – in fact, there is a need here at home as much as in Swaziland! So, the period when I came home from Swaziland was certainly challenging but it was the most I have ever clung to God in every second of every day, it was the most I had ever consistently heard his voice and guidance over my situation  – every day he was telling me things I needed to hear. But I still wanted a certain and definite change within me after Swaziland. I didn’t want to live any life other than the one God planned for me. So that was the first reason why I wanted to get baptised — I wanted to be permanently and undoubtedly marked by God’s Spirit, I wanted to be permanently changed, living my life for Jesus for certain. I wanted the purpose and passion I had in Christ to fill me up every day.

My second reason was similar, to do with the timing. Currently I’m in my last year of high school, so my future is unknown and uncertain. I wanted to make this declaration of my faith in baptism so that I can go into the future with the secure rock of my faith throughout all uncertainties and changes as I move on into my future, knowing that God is with me and guiding me through it. I also wanted to make sure that the future I am moving into is the one that God is planning me to live, knowing that he has great plans in store! I wanted it to be no longer me planning my life, but Christ who lives in me!

And finally, it was a question of joy. Those of you who know me, know that joy and hope and light are things that are immeasurably valuable to me. I realised, a while ago, that the purest, most authentic and fulfilling joy I have felt were at times when I’ve found purpose in Jesus, when I’ve been guided and filled with the Holy Spirit, when I’ve felt God’s love and peace. I became disillusioned with the fleeting joy of academic success, likes on instagram, validation from other people… because — in truth — when those become your main source of joy, they only end up stealing your joy. Because you become reliant on upholding this standard in order to gain the joy from those sources – it becomes a pressure, not a joy. I realised one day in my bedroom how empty that joy was, how fleeting and unreliable it was because it was based on things that were not grounded, that were not secure. But there was HOPE!! Because Jesus promises us abundant joy – he promises “life in all its fullness” (John 10:10) and he promises that nothing and no one will take our joy away from us (John 16:22)! This is REVOLUTIONARY TRUTH — we have access to a joy that is unconditional and unwavering. A joy that gives us a full life! A joy that satisfies and empowers and encourages! And this joy comes with a FREEDOM! A freedom from the need to perform a certain way in order to get self-worth or happiness, a freedom from constantly striving for something that keeps eluding us.

I have found purpose, peace, hope, freedom and joy because of my faith, and so, I decided to solidify and affirm that faith by being baptised on Sunday. It was the best decision I have ever made.

 

☀️