Tag: god

Knowing God – Interview with Bex Lewis

Knowing God – Interview with Bex Lewis

1) What is your name and what does it mean? 

My name is Bex, short for Rebecca, which apparently means ‘servant of God’ in Hebrew, although a mug I have also says that it means ‘bound’, as in ‘bound to do what is right’, and an online site says it could mean any of: tying firmly; fastening; binding; noosed cord; captivating; snare; beauty that ensnares, grace that enraptures. Online you’ll typically find me @drbexl.

2) Do you think your name suits who you are and/ or what you do? 

I love my shortened version, it has a bit of ‘va va voom’, and the full name makes sense too, although aren’t all Christians ‘servants of God’. The meaning from my mug rings way too many bells, I often feel pressurised by ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ – I want to do what is right, but maybe with less mental stress! I feel like I’m a solid person to have around, rather than a captivating, enrapturing one!

3) If you were born in biblical times, when names were given as prophesies, what would your name mean? 

My name is from the Bible, so has a biblical meaning! Like Rebekah in the Bible, who left her family to marry Isaac who she had never met, I have had a habit of giving up secure work and moving around the country to do what feels right at the time.

4) Which of God’s names or attributes resonate with you the most? (give up to 3) 

Considering a list of attributes of God, the ones that resonate with me most are grace (although it can still be very easy to fall into habits of seeking faith by works!), the great ‘I AM’ – there before, with and after us, and infinite – beyond our capacity to measure and label!

5) Is there an experience/s connected with these aspects of who God is to you? If so, please share one if you feel comfortable doing so.

I have always been brought up with a strong ‘Protestant work ethic’, and therefore ‘faith by works’ is always a habit that I fall back into. On an Oak Hall ski trip many years ago, the focus of the week’s teaching was on ‘grace’, and I felt that it was finally starting to make sense – I then came back from the trip and the Sunday sermon was on …. grace! I need constant reminders of this – that there is ‘nothing I can do to make God love me any more – or less’…

6) Have the names/ attributes of God that you most relate to, changed due to life circumstances such as illness or disability? How so?

I think there are many aspects of God that have different resonances throughout our life experiences. Now living with incurable cancer, and not knowing if I have 3 months, 3 years or 30 years to live, but that living will be combined with managing side effects and lifelong treatment … the fact that God is above and beyond all this, and is alongside in our suffering (even if we can’t always feel it) helps keep me on a more even keel when life feels out of control/unmanageable. I don’t expect that this will necessarily be done through ways that are recognisably supernatural … but friends (Christian and non-Christian) and organisations can help make life survivable! God is above and beyond humanity – but works through it!

7) Are there any of God’s names that confuse you or that you struggle with? Which one/s and why?

There are times when I may wish for comforter and healer in a more ‘magical’ and ‘instant’ way, but I remain comforted by the idea that God is above and beyond human understanding, and we can’t reduce Him to our level of understanding. If I ever hear about people talking about ‘God pre-chose you’, I wonder what that means for free will, and for those who were not pre-chosen … that niggles! I am more comfortable with the idea that God is a jealous and just God (mixed with mercy), and that being a Christian doesn’t mean we are wet blankets, or there to be walked all over – we can get justifiably angry, although sometimes we have to trust God to carry out the justice.

8) Which parts of God’s character would you like to know better?

God is described as ‘self-sufficient’ – I have spent many years feeling like I should give of myself to the church in a sacrificial way – and there are times for that … but learning that God doesn’t need my input (though he loves it) is something to learn more of.

9) Which part of the Trinity do you feel closest with and why do you think that is?

As someone who lives on the earth, and as Jesus walked the earth in a physical form, this can feel the easiest to relate to. God can feel a bit ‘up above’ and the Holy Spirit can feel a bit, well, ‘ethereal’ – although it’s what been left to help us in our earthly life since Jesus left it (rather like a wi-fi signal helps us to connect to the wider internet … I had to get something digital in there somewhere).

10) How do you think that knowing and using God’s names in prayer and conversation might help us?

I don’t find prayers with an over-repetition of ‘Lord’ at every other word very helpful, and to be honest I don’t think I’ve particularly thought about the names that I’ve used (I’ve had no formal theological training, so working through these questions have introduced me to some new ideas as I’ve bobbed around the internet looking things up), and am thinking about what difference it would make now.

Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience.

She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University, with a particular interest in digital culture and the digital environment, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, includes social media and cancer.

Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research.

She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst  (Lion Hudson, 2014), of which a second edition is in preparation for 2020. Alongside academic journal articles, she has authored a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards.

She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.

Knowing God – Interview with Jemma Brown

Knowing God – Interview with Jemma Brown

  1. What is your name and what does it mean? 

    My name is Jemma Brown and it means precious gem which is very fitting as I was a long awaited baby! It took my parents 10 years to conceive me hence I’m my parents precious gem.
  2. Do you think your name suits who you are and/ or what you do? 

    I think the most truthful answer to this is that it depends what mood I’m in.
  3. If you were born in biblical times, when names were given as prophesies, what would your name mean?

    Something about being stronger than I think or stronger than others perceive. People often make assumptions about me because of my disability, seeing only the things they think I cannot do. There are some things I can’t do but I’m also really good at finding ‘work arounds’ and adapting.
  4. Which of God’s names or attributes resonate with you the most? (give up to 3)

    Elohim is definitely one that resonates with me significantly. It’s the meaning that our God is the ‘true God’ who is all powerful that we can put all our trust and hope in and that that same powerful God created everything in the earth, planets, stars and of course us. Our God is a creative God.
    Ironically for someone living with severe visual impairment, another name that resonates with me is El Roi, the God who sees. This is something I hold on to as I have faced so much discrimination and trauma as a direct result of my disabilities. God has seen all the times I have been badly treated and knows every detail of the struggles I have faced – He knows it all. Looking at this one from a different angle God also sees me in my entirety as someone living with multiple severe and enduring mental illnesses (Bipolar, complex PTSD and Borderline Personality disorder). I spend a lot of energy ‘masking’ in an attempt to fit in but I know God has seen all my pain and frustration and knows how much effort recovery has taken. He has seen me at my best and he has also seen me at my most mentally ill yet He never leaves me.
  5. Is there an experience/s connected with these aspects of who God is to you? If so, please share one if you feel comfortable doing so. 

    I think that I believe in a God that is all powerful and a God of truth which is really helpful when navigating the storms of life as I know that He is in charge of my life, not me, and He can be trusted. Most of my chronic illnesses are degenerative and will get worse over time, and my remaining vision will eventually go (I say eventually but no one really knows when) and that is a huge burden to carry. As medicine can’t ‘fix’ me, my future health is in God’s hands.
    When I am mentally unwell I find it very difficult to talk to others honestly about how I am feeling so often hide it. I take comfort in the fact that the God who sees knows all about my mental health and the ‘thorn in my mind’ (inspired by the book ‘A Thorn in My Mind: Mental Illness, Stigma and the Church’ by Cathy Wield) so I am actually never alone with the darkness as God is always there and sees it all.
  6. Have the names/ attributes of God that you most relate to, changed due to life circumstances such as illness or disability? How so?

    Yes – I think that is actually true for everyone, regardless of health or disability. As we walk through life, different names and attributes seem to have greater significance at various points.
  7. Are there any of God’s names that confuse you or that you struggle with? Which one/s and why?

    I identify a lot with the names of God and it was hard to pick out just a few to talk about so I don’t really struggle with any right now but I think it’s fairly fluid.
  8. Which parts of God’s character would you like to know better?

    All of it! Isn’t that the main part of our walk as Christians to draw close to God and to have a relationship with Him that evolves and deepens over time? I became a Christian roughly 10 years ago and since then, my desire is to know God more. Galatians 2:20 says ‘I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me’.
  9. Which part of the Trinity do you feel closest with and why do you think that is?

    I feel closest to Jesus as He knows all about my suffering, be that physical or psychological pain and trauma. Jesus was also very non-judgmental and went against the grain of the societal norms. Specifically, I’m thinking of when He healed the women with bleeding and made clean the man with leprosy. Both of these miracles were done for people who were cast out by society and considered unclean. Jesus touched them and changed their lives and that was pretty radical! I’m a bit like that. I’m wired to love people and love them deeply, not just my friends and family but the persecuted and cast out. I feel called to show the world a tiny bit of Jesus’ love (in that the love of God is infinite and whatever I do will only be a tiny part of it).
  10. How do you think that knowing and using God’s names in prayer and conversation might help us? 

    I think its important because it shows us that our God is HUGE and has so many attributes and looking into them specifically for this interview I thought of more and more ways I could see different attributes or names working together in my life and how actually, they all work together. Our God is awesome, powerful, loving, father, healer, I Am, kind, compassionate, caring, fierce, trustworthy… the anchor in the storm and so much more!

Jemma is a former journalism student who became a Christian at university during one of the darkest points of her life 10 years ago. Since dropping out of university, Jemma has volunteered her time extensively for guide dogs UK helping our with campaigns and media.

Jemma also uses her extensive experience of living with multiple disabilities in a number of advocacy roles including as a guest lecturer to nursing and medical students on topics like spirituality in medicine and PTSD. Jemma is severely visually impaired (blind) and also lives with Ehlers Danlos syndrome and SEMI (bipolar, BPD and CPTSD).

Jemma is a passionate reader of both fiction and non fiction and also loves social media. 

Knowing God – Interview with Emily Owen

Knowing God – Interview with Emily Owen

  1. What is your name and what does it mean?

    My name is Emily which, according to Google, means ‘industrious’ or ‘rival’. My middle name is Louise which, so Google informs me, means ‘famous warrior.’
  2. Do you think your name suits who you are and/ or what you do?

    Perhaps, inasmuch as I do sometimes see my illness/disability almost as an enemy I need to work hard to rival and (hopefully) conquer.
  3. If you were born in biblical times, when names were given as prophesies, what would your name mean?

    My friends jokingly – I think (!) – call me ‘Planning Queen’, so perhaps my name would be to do with liking to know the plan.  More seriously, perhaps ‘writer’ or ‘speaker’.
  4. Which of God’s names or attributes resonate with you the most? (give up to 3)

    That’s hard! I want to say them all! Today, I pick:
    Jehovah Nissi – The Lord my Banner
    Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is Here
    El Roi – The God who Sees
  5. Is there an experience/s connected with these aspects of who God is to you? If so, please share one if you feel comfortable doing so.

    As a teenager, my life underwent a huge change, as I suddenly went from being a fairly high achieving allrounder, to a person experiencing hospitals, operations and disability. In this whirlwind, I felt more and more defined by my symptoms, and less and less defined as me. During that time, during many times since, God did – and does – remind me that He sees me. He sees past all the damage illness has caused, damage I see every time I look in the mirror, and He sees me. That brings me great comfort.
  6. Have the names/attributes of God that you most relate to, changed due to life circumstances such as illness or disability? How so?

    I don’t think they’ve changed as such, all of God’s names are meaningful to me, but I’ve come to appreciate ‘El Roi’ more, as I mention above; to increasingly value being seen by God. To be honest, I probably took being seen by God a bit for granted: it never really occurred to me, until my life turned upside-down, and I didn’t want anyone – including myself – to see me. I didn’t think anyone would want to. And, as I said above, God showed me I was wrong! And I learned – and am learning – to actively live in the immense privilege of being seen by God.
  7. Are there any of God’s names that confuse you or that you struggle with? Which one/s and why?

    I suppose an obvious one for me to pick might be Jehovah Rapha: The Lord Who Heals. Despite specific prayer for physical healing, I’ve not been physically healed. Yet, as I live in this broken body of mine, each day I learn more of the meaning of 2 Corinthians 4:16: ‘Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day’. I am outwardly wasting away and, at the same time, I am being inwardly renewed – even healed – day by day.
  8. Which parts of God’s character would you like to know better

    Maybe Adonai: Lord. Hudson Taylor is quoted as saying, “Christ is either Lord of all, or is not Lord at all”. To truly have Him as Lord in charge of every part of my life, to know Him as Lord in practice as well as theory, is a challenge and a goal.
  9. Which part of the Trinity do you feel closest with and why do you think that is?

    Probably partly because of my upbringing, in which I was encouraged to know and relate to God, I’d say God. As an adult, whilst I would still say God, I do find I feel closer to Jesus, too.
  10. How do you think that knowing and using God’s names in prayer and conversation might help us?

    I think that they help us pray to more of Him. If I were to only talk to my sister about clothes (perhaps a bad example, I’m definitely not a clothes person!), I would miss out on so much of who she is. She is more than a stylish dresser. What about her job, her humour, her interests and hobbies, etc? If I only knew she likes clothes, how would I know about our shared love of chocolate?! The more we know of God, and Who He is, the richer our relationship with Him will be. And that can’t be a bad thing, can it….

Emily Owen is an author and public speaker. She began writing following a medical diagnosis which turned her life plans upside-down and, among other things, left her deaf. 

After publishing her first devotional books, in the 30 Days series, Emily published her memoir, Still Emily. Her speaking, and more recent writings, combine her personal experiences with biblical teaching and reflections.

Emily is surprised to describe herself as a writer and speaker, but she has no hesitation in calling herself a fan of flowers, candles, purple, stars, and making her nieces and nephews giggle.

Jesus rises from the dead

Jesus rises from the dead

Luke 24:1-12

I’m so happy to say that the last blog post was not the LAST blog post. Luke doesn’t leave Jesus dead and in the grave – He has risen!

The stress, busy-ness and pressure has been gradually building in my household over the last month or two as work tasks have increased, hospital appointments have built up, ongoing jobs from the past year need tying up and we prepare for Christmas and the new year. There have been blood, sweat and tears physically and metaphorically! But those things are coming to end, nothing more can be done, and it’s time to stop and relax and ‘let the good times roll’!

Looking back at the chapter in Luke, Jesus has been in the grave, blood, sweat and tears have been present in an even bigger way than in my household, and now, it is time for Him to come alive again and bring smiles back to the faces of His loved ones. The stress, concern, sadness and disappointment was over. Their friend, son, brother and Saviour was back and all was well again!

I am sure I am not alone in letting the tasks that need to be done, and the stress they bring, overwhelm me. If you can relate, please take this as post as your sign to stop. Jesus is born and He has risen again to be your God and Redeemer. Nothing else matters now. Have fun, share the love of God with those around you and relax.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Jesus is crucified

Jesus is crucified

Luke 23:26-43

There have been a few posts recently that have been a bit sad rather than happy and joyful as you would expect and hope at this time of year. I’m afraid we are about to get stuck into just about the saddest passage in Luke now, just before Christmas – Jesus’ crucifiction. There is a reason we are reading this passage today though, and hopefully you will understand why by the end of the blog post…

It is important for us to remember that although we celebrate Jesus coming down to Earth as a baby at this time of year, He didn’t stay a baby. He grew up to become a teacher, friend, neighbour, prophet, brother, healer, carer and more, and ultimately, He became our rescuer, redeemer, forgiver and Messiah when He died on a cross, taking away our sins.

It isn’t nice to read about Jesus suffering and dying in pain and alone, especially at Christmas, but it is important to remember who Jesus was and what He was sent down to Earth for. He knew His purpose so well, and loved so strongly, that even on the cross, when the pain in His arms and feet was unbearable and His breathing difficult, He focused on the sinner beside Him. This man had done wrong in a big way, and did not deserve anything, instead of using His God given power to free Himself.

The next time you see a nativity scene, acknowledge the baby in the manger, but then look closer. Imagine the baby as a man. God sent to Earth in human form to teach the teachers, heal the sick and broken, change theology, share the good news of God, awaken the dead, calm the seas, feed the hungry, release demons and finally, die on the cross for us. He didn’t have to do it, He didn’t deserve it, but He chose to do it for us, because He loves us.

Peter says he doesn’t know Jesus

Peter says he doesn’t know Jesus

Luke 22:54-62

I am sure you will know this passage already so I am just going to give a quick summary before getting into the questions for today:

Jesus is arrested, Peter follows, people around question Peter about his connection with Jesus, he denies knowing Jesus, once, twice, three times, then the roaster crows and Peter remembers that he told Jesus he would never deny him but Jesus told him he would do so three times before the roaster crowed….. and breathe!

  1. Why is Jesus taken straight to the high priest after being arrested?
  2. Why does Peter deny knowing Jesus?
  3. Why does Peter cry when he denies Jesus for the third time? What is he remembering?
  4. Previously, Jesus used the Greek word agape for love the first two times, while Peter used a different word, phileoAgape carries the meaning of intense, complete, devoted, sacrificial love, while phileo refers to love as in friendship. Why do you think they used different words?
  5. What can we learn from this and apply to our lives today?
Don’t lose your faith!

Don’t lose your faith!

Luke 22:31-34

I have heard stories of people whose faith was so strong that they were able to do incredible things and even believed enough that they were willing to become martyrs, losing their lives for God. One of these people that always inspired me is Mother Teresa who just upped and left the comfort of home for the dirty, dangerous streets of Calcutta because she believed so strongly in the vision she had been given.

I have recently found out that although her faith was strong at the start, Mother Teresa experienced many years of doubting despite the work she was doing and her strong faith initially.

I can honestly say that I have always had some faith from as long as I can remember but there are definitely moments I can recall when I have struggled and doubted. Just like Mother Teresa, I didn’t tell many people at all, and most people I know will know nothing about those times. This is mostly because I felt ashamed to say that my faith lacked when I was in a role of responsibility or authority and known to others as ‘the Christian girl’, but also because I didn’t want non-Christians to believe that we struggled because I thought it would make them think I wasn’t a good Christian.

In Luke 22:31-34, we find Peter promising Jesus he will always be with Him, even in death but Jesus tells him that isn’t true and that within the day, he will be denying he knows Jesus more than once.

Faith is hard. It isn’t easy to have it all the time at a great level and God knows that isn’t how it works because we will face questions and challenges that force us to consider what we believe, why we believe it and how it impacts us day to day. Without doing this, our faith would be weak because at the smallest hurdle, we will fall and our faith will be gone.

Although Peter fell at this hurdle, Peter instantly realised what he had done and would have regretted it greatly, and when Jesus rose from the dead, Peter was there by His side and was a key figure in the creation of the Church and spreading the message all over.

A lack of faith does not mean your relationship with God is over. It may just be a blip or a learning curve. if you stick with Jesus,continue talking with Him, thanking and praising Him and reading your bible, He will come back to life in your life again and your faith will grow!