Finding Reassurance From the Faith of Others

Editor’s Note:  Please enjoy today’s guest blog post by my talented, dear friend Rachel Britton.  May this message inspire all of us, especially parents. rachel-britton-square-web-1950

A mamma is allowed to be a little apprehensive leaving her child at college in a different country, isn’t she? That’s how I felt a week or so ago when I boarded a plane back to America.

My son and I had arrived in London a few days earlier for international student enrollment. It felt a bit like cheating. After all, I am British and my husband is, too. My son, however, was born and raised in the States. He knows more about ordering Starbucks than how to make a cup of tea.

I waited in the Quad as my son stood in line to enroll. We had entered the central area of the college through an archway from the street, its large iron gates thrown wide open. Green lawns ran either side of a large paved area.

I sat on one of the benches bordering the grass. Other parents milled around me, speaking in Spanish, French, and Mandarin. Many stopped to take a photograph of their student with the main building in the background. Built in the 1800s, the white neo-Grecian structure with tall columns and a dome at the top dominated the Quad. Long vertical flags hung between the columns with the words: Welcome to University College London.

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The building reminded me of a church. Finding a church was one activity I hoped to help my son complete.

Then I noticed a cart with a sign: Free tea and coffee from the Christian Union.

Enrollment was taking some time. The CU students were packing up their cart. Although I hesitated to get involved, I couldn’t let this opportunity go by.

“I got this for you,” I said, as I handed a card saying Welcome to the CU to my son. “I hope you don’t mind,” I added. “No, that’s great,” he replied.

I spoke to Max by phone the other night. He bubbled with excitement about his new CU friends; they’d hung out all week. Many of his CU friends go to St. Helen’s Church.

“We went to St. Helen’s yesterday,” he said. “Church!” I thought, “In the middle of the week?”

St. Helen’s stands in the center of the City, the financial district of London. It’s twelfth century tower dwarfed by modern skyscrapers with unusual shapes and names, like the Gherkin. It is the largest surviving parish church in the city of London, and sometimes called Westminster Abbey of the City. William Shakespeare lived within its shadow.

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St. Helen’s has stood strong since 1210. It survived the great fire of London in 1666, and the blitz of WWII. It has been restored following damage caused by two IRA bombs that exploded nearby in 1992 and 1993. Yet, St. Helens represents more than a beautiful, solid medieval structure; it is home to a living Christian community.

The people who worship at St Helen’s today are probably far more diverse than those of the thirteenth century, yet no more significant. Men and women who do finance in the City, international workers and students who come for employment and study in London attend St. Helen’s.

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My son joins people who throughout the centuries have worshiped God in this place. These are believers who have passed on the baton of faith to people who worship there today. They stand on the shoulders of the saints who have gone before them.

Knowing this history reassures a mamma three thousand miles away from her child.

Rachel is a British-born writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping women know their true worth so they can live boldly. Raised on the east coast of England, she now lives in New England with her husband and three children. Rachel cannot live without English tea and chocolate. Connect with Rachel at rachelbritton.com, on Facebook and Twitter @racheljbritton and Instagram @rachelj.britton

Reflect:

Do you think about the history of your own church building? The people who have worshiped there in the past? Please comment.

Have you considered who will worship at your church in the future? How will you pass on the baton of faith? Please comment.

Have you left your child at college this year? How did you feel? Please comment.

Renew:

So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 (NIV)

I find it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. Jude 1:3 (NRSV)

Recharge:

We rejoice to use this glorious place to bear witness to Jesus Christ in the City of London. —http://www.st-helens.org.uk/

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Loving Deeply: Healing an Unhealable Marriage

By Guest Blogger Teresa Tarrant

Editor’s Note: Please welcome one of my precious role models, Teresa Tarrant, to “Pure Inspiration” as an encore Guest Blogger.  She is an inspiration to me and infinite others. May her story, their story, touch your heart as it did mine.

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“Love one another deeply, from the heart.” –1 Peter 1:22 NIV

Forty-four years. I have been married to the same man for 44 years. Amazing. For one thing, old people have been married 44 years…we are NOT old. For another thing, it has been a roller coaster ride, requiring both seat belt and shoulder harness!

Fortunately it has been one that GOD has patiently, lovingly and firmly kept on track. There were times I was sure we had derailed, but lo and behold, GOD’s hand guided us back to each other and to HIM.

For our 30th anniversary I decided to present my husband Guy with a video of our life together. I ruined years of carefully organized photo albums pulling visual memories of our dating, wedding (awww, such babies), first home (I still love that little house). Children (two amazing sons), pets (one dog chewed up the sprinkler system two weeks after installing….), travels, family gatherings. We cried watching it, overcome with the blessings and love…the bad times forgotten.

Just a few years earlier we were at a real crossroads in our marriage. Our older son had graduated from college and younger son was going off to college. Our glue was gone. We discussed separation. He was going to move out. My emotions vacillated between marriage and separation.

One day I woke up and found I could not stand another indecisive moment. I dropped to my knees by our bed and totally surrendered my will to God. I cried out to Him to help me know what to do. I told Him I could not live with my husband like this, and I could not imagine myself without him. I prayed for guidance and told Him I would not do one more thing unless I felt He was guiding me.

I lay on the floor weeping for quite some time until I felt a total peace come over me. It was strange. It was as if a weight had been lifted and I was not going to have to carry it any more.

Later that day I had to go to Wal-mart for cleaning supplies or something—I don’t even remember. What I do remember is how God talked to me. Yes, He very distinctly led me to the book section and showed me two books that changed my life—The Power of a Praying Wife  and Traits of a Lasting Marriage.  When I opened up this first book, the prayer I read was:

 “Lord, I lay all my expectation at your cross. I release my husband from the burden of fulfilling me in areas where I should be looking to You. Help me to accept him the way he is and not try to change him. I realize that in some ways he may never change, but at the same time, I release him to change in ways I never thought he could. I leave any changing that needs to be done in Your hands, fully accepting that neither of us is perfect and never will be. Only you, Lord, are perfect, and I look to You to perfect us.”

The prayer followed with several Bible verses, Biblically-sound doctrine for restoring me, restoring my marriage. I felt my eyes well up with tears. Could God really be telling me I needed to change and be the person my husband needs? I always thought I was…that he just wasn’t the husband I needed.

Do you know that God can turn a heart from stone back to love in a matter of minutes? He can and He did. I left Wal-mart with a smile on my face and copies of the two books. When I got home I asked my husband if he would consider reading the book with me and trying to let God lead us back together. He agreed—another one of God’s miracles.  I am blessed to have a husband who has always been willing to take every effort to make our marriage work.  I knew we were going to finally have the marriage God intended for us—one of love, commitment, laughter, friendship, joy.

We still have our differences but they are handled with a very different approach. I first go to God and ask for His guidance in solving a problem; then I approach Guy. My “old” self rears its prideful head occasionally…ok, often. I recognize that God led us back into this marriage, and He will guide us through any rough patches.

We still cry when we watch that anniversary video from 14 years ago. I thank GOD and praise HIM for HIS unending patience, grace and love. HE was present in every single event, good and bad, in our lives…Growing us to be the people HE intended. I know HE was shaking HIS sweet head most of the time at our stubbornness but HIS mercies never fail.

We now have two beautiful grandchildren…hmmm, looks like it’s time for another video!

So, if you feel your marriage is off track, turn to GOD for guidance. Focus on the good times, positive memories and blessings Trust HIM. HE will not let you derail. GOD is faithful.

Reflect:

–How are you fighting for your marriage?  Please comment.

–What wisdom can you glean from Teresa and Guy’s testimony?  Please comment.

Renew:

–“Be completely humble and gentle. Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” –Ephesians 4:2 NIV

 –“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”           –Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Recharge:

–What three things do you admit need changing in yourself to strengthen your marriage and/or other relationships?  Please let your spouse know today. Comment here.

Resource:

Conway, Jim and Sally. 1991. Traits of a Lasting Marriage: What Strong Marriages Have in Common. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

Omartian, Stormie. 1997, 2014. Power of a Praying Wife. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishing.

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The IN-Keeper–Preparing Room

The Inn-keeper in the Bible Story of Jesus’ birth intrigues me. Not much is written about him. He leaves much to our imagination. With the census going on for the entire Roman World, you know his inn must have stayed jam-packed at 100 percent occupancy. He was truthful to Mary and Joseph.

He certainly wasn’t a mean man. In fact, I can sympathize with him. Guests checked out, then more guests with reservations checked in.  He was trying his best to be hospitable by offering a stable/cave and manger out back.

Little did he know he was too busy and lacked room in his life for the Savior of the World’s birth. Ouch. Doesn’t that hit close to home?

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” –Luke 2:7 NIV

Anything of value in our lives requires us to make room.

We make room in our time schedules, our budgets, our hearts for a new relationship we value. Even for Christmas we make room, don’t we?

To bring in our new wonderful-smelling Christmas tree, we move over our comfy chairs, reading lamp, plants–whatever it takes. Box after box of Christmas decorations require us to move our year-round décor and replace with our valued Christmas festive decor.

In the Bible Story of Jesus’ birth, the Inn-Keeper had no room for Jesus. Mary and Joseph resorted to a hay-filled stable, along with the smelly animals. Our Savior of the World Jesus was born in a tiny manger. The tiny manger was plenty of room for the King of Kings and was truly the first King-Size Bed. 

Even the favorite Christmas carol “Joy to the World” exclaims, “Let every heart prepare Him room.”

The big question is: Do I make enough room in my heart, my schedule for Jesus? He wants our whole heart, my whole heart. So many times I don’t make enough room with my hurried schedule, my shortened quiet time, quick prayers.

Jesus is our only Way “In” to eternal life. He is the Door, the Gate. “Therefore Jesus said again. ‘I tell you the truth, I am the Gate for the sheep.” –John 10:7 NIV

We who believe are all “IN-Keepers.” Jesus loves us so much and wants to reside in our hearts for eternity.

How much room am I making in my schedule, my budget, my heart for Jesus, the Savior of the World, my Savior?

Please forgive me, Lord, for being too busy. For not making room for You. Take my whole heart, Lord. Lord Jesus, move everything else out to make all the room You want and need in my heart. You are the only way IN to eternal life. I desire to be a true “IN-Keeper.” In Jesus’ name, by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“I’m prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.” –Come Thy Fount of Every Blessing

 Reflect:

–“Make room for us in your hearts.” –2 Corinthians 7:2a NIV

–“ ‘Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’” –Mark 14:14-15 NIV

Renew:

–How can I make more room in my heart, my schedule, my life for Jesus? Please comment.

Resource:

-“But this I do know. My own true love. All your life long, you wait for your own true love to come–we all do–our destiny, our joy, our heart’s desire. So how am I to say it, gentlemen? When He came, I missed Him. Pray for me, brothers and sisters. Pray for the Inn-Keeper. Pray for me, and for us all, my own true love.” –from the Inn-Keeper’s perspective, taken from Frederick Buechner’s  “The Birth.” Magnificent Defeat.

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