28.6.12

He Restores My Soul - Creation

“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”
 - Psalm 96:11-12





 


Sitting on a bench in my garden one evening, feeling rather gloomy, I noticed some random red patches in the sky! They were very unusual and so incredibly beautiful. My gaze was transfixed. I could not take my eyes off the beautiful scene that was unfolding before my very eyes. It was as if God had decided to put on a show for me to cheer me up and what a show it was!

As I gazed up, I saw all sorts of different coloured clouds were being swept away with the strong wind, really high up in the night sky! I had never noticed coloured clouds in the night sky before. As you can see in the photo below (click for full size image), you could barely make out the clouds but I can assure you they were unusual and a deep red colour.



There it was, crystal clear, the big, bright moon, looking down at me on my bench by the pond in my garden in the middle of the night. And to think that I could have missed it all and gone to sleep still feeling as sad as I did that night. All it took was a moment of rest in His presence, a moment to enjoy His creation. I sat for ages as I watched the clouds sweep by and the moon lift higher and higher into the night sky. Every single night God puts on a show for us, every morning He rises the sun for us. Every day there is something beautiful and awesome just waiting for us to see.

Without warning, my breath was taken away by the next scene that was presented to me. Glowing brightly, the moon made its grand entrance into the night sky, from behind the clouds that I had been watching intently! It was so BEAUTIFUL.


Evening turned into late night but I could not stop staring at the moon, it was so unbelievably beautiful. I started out earlier that evening, sitting in my dark room, feeling sorry for myself and ended the evening with my soul restored - totally and utterly in awe of God's creation. All I did was look at the moon and yet the power within that simple observation was astounding! Finally, when I could stay awake no more, I walked away from one of the most beautiful scenes I had witnessed in a long time and drifted off to sleep peacefully, feeling safe, rested and very close to my Creator.




My experience that evening with the moon was not the first time I had experienced the restoration of my soul through creation. I remember when my grandfather died. At the time, I was living in South Africa and he in England. Grieving was not easy, there was no funeral to attend, no crying family to cry with and nothing that marked his death in any way. I was alone, so I went down to the beach, to a place where the waves crashed violently against the rocks causing a beautiful cascade of water. As I sat watching this scene and feeling the power of it, I cried. I must have sat for an hour or more and just cried my eyes out whilst watching the waves crashing against the rocks. I did that for three days as I remembered my granddad and thought of all the good times we had together. I cried deeply and for some reason the powerful crashing of the waves allowed me to cry intensely. After three days of crying at the rocks, I felt better. It was as if I had cried all that I had to cry out of my system and my soul was restored. I will never forget the peace that I felt after those few days by the rocks, it was quite surreal. 

On many other occasions, I have had my soul restored as I have walked in the woods, or stumbled across some deer in the field or simply sat at our pond in our garden and watched the birds bathe and the squirrels scurry by. There is something to be said about taking a moment to allow creation to minister to you. You do not need to be an outdoors person or a naturalist to have an experience with creation. No matter who you are and what your preferences, I am quite certain that as you absorb the wonderful world that God has created for you to live in, your soul will be restored. Something must grab your attention, perhaps the enormity of the Grand Canyon or the intricacies of the wings of a butterfly.

My favourite place - our garden pond

Daniel and Amy by our pond

A bug's view of our pond

This is a chapter snippet from He Restores My Soul.  Find out more about how The Sounds of Nature can restore your soul and improve your health.  Also find out The Touch of Nature and The Hygiene Hypothesis in He Restores My Soul.  

21.6.12

Nature's Way - Deodorant

Parabens are used as a preservative in most beauty products these days.  The scientists have only just  started  looking into the dangers of parabens and there is emerging data linking parabens and cancer - especially breast cancer. One of the recent shocking discoveries is that deodorant his high in parabens and aluminium which could be one of the most significant causes of breast cancer.  Chemicals can seep through your skin and get into the immediate and nearby underlying soft tissue.
     Aluminium is a neurotoxin which means that it causes damage to nerves or nerve tissue.  Studies have linked Aluminium as a neurotoxin to Alzheimer and other neurological diseases.  As stated by the FDA: “Antiperspirants have an aluminium-based compound as their main, active ingredient, which can be any number of compounds within an established concentration and dosage form.”   Using aluminium on your skin is risky as it is quickly absorbed into your system and into your brain.
     Even men are at risk.  Many people don’t realise that men can get breast cancer because you wouldn’t really say that men have ‘breasts’.  But men do have a small amount of breast tissue behind their nipples and this is where breast cancer can develop.  I have also discovered in my research that deodorants can even cause prostate cancer.
     Antiperspirants are even worse – double trouble - as they stop you from sweating!  Sweating is one of the ways the body cleanses itself of toxins.  Antiperspirants cause the toxins in your sweat to become trapped and breast tissue is especially efficient at storing these poisons.  We need to sweat; it is natural and necessary to sweat.

Nature’s Way Alternatives

I used Bicarbonate of Soda as a deodorant.  Simply use it as you would a talcum powder but of course talcum powder is a big ‘no no’.  It’s simply and highly effective.  Armpit odour is caused by bacteria present on the skin’s surface.  Bicarbonate of Soda has strong antibacterial properties and so is the simplest alternative for chemical deodorants.

Results:
  • No harmful chemicals
  • Clean bacteria free armpits
  • No cancer risks
  • Save money
  • Natural toxin excretion

Cautions:
  • Slight burning or a rash might occur at first as your underarms detox but this does pass. 

NATURE’S WAY DEODORANT

Ingredients:        Bicarbonate of soda

Method:    Apply under your arms with a powder puff or a Kabuki brush.  You can also add some corn flour to your Bicarbonate of Soda to make it a little gentler to apply.

More deodorant recipes:
There are many recipes available for homemade deodorants using natural ingredients, here are some:

Essential Oil and Bicarbonate of Soda 
  • 1/4 cup Corn Flour
  • 1/4 cup Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 10 drops of Essential Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Shea Butter

Mix all ingredients together very well and either rub into your armpits with your fingers or use an old, empty deodorant stick.

Lemon
Rub half a lemon under your arms once or twice a day to kill bacteria and give you a nice fresh smelling arm pit. 

Now it's your turn.
If you have any deodorant tips that work well, please share them with us.  Find out more about Nature's Way here.

19.6.12

The Tale of a Church Planter Interview

Here it is!  My MissioNexus interview 

Listen to the interview here
Read their thoughts on my book below
More info on the book here
Buy it on Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com







 The Tale of a Church Planter
The ups, downs, frustrations, joys and everything in-between on the roller coaster ride of church planting.


Summary
The author is a married woman church planter. She and her husband recently started and developed a church together in England. Therefore, the value of this book is that it is written from a woman's point of view. Like many wives of church planters, she did not have the title of pastor, yet she functioned as one as she devoted just as much time and energy to the church start and development as her husband.

Angela approaches the subject candidly, with humour and depth of understanding of what it takes to plant a church. She faces the good times joyfully and the difficult times (and there are many!) with determination and wisdom, giving invaluable insights. If you have ever experienced the kind of problems she has, you will relate to what Angela has to offer. The book is easy reading but this does not take away from her profound and helpful insights.



Best Chapter
One of the most transparent chapters is chapter 14: "When Passion Fades." Angela candidly states, "Leading a church is easy when you are excited, full of energy, and like King David, you are consumed with zeal for the House of God" (Kindle location 1254).

If a church planter has lost this passion, Angela suggests asking the following questions:

1. Was I still passionate about Jesus?
2. Did I still believe in God?
3. Was I still willing to live and die for the cause of Christ?
4. Did I still see the vision God had given us for the Church?
5. Did I still love the people?
6. What would life look like if I stopped doing church?
7. Did I really want a life without leading a church?

When passion for ministry has been lost, Angela also answers the question of how to revive passion with four practical "passion builders."



Best Quotes
"It never occurred to me that I could never tell people about what Jesus did on the cross without being totally bowled over by it myself each and every time I spoke. It never occurred to me that it was possible to have a good 'sales pitch' for God but not be living what I was 'selling'." (Kindle location 339)

"Prioritise (sic) intimacy with God; don't let church work get in the way of knowing God. Grow in love with Him, stay intimate with Him, keep close to Him and see how your church will flourish and bear much fruit as a result!" (Kindle location 358)

"If we could successfully build a flourishing church on our own then it is quite likely that we would become proud and even arrogant. God made us relational and dependant on each other in order to do His will." (Kindle location 638)

"One key we have found with people in general in our church is 'use them or lose them'. If people are ready to serve and they don't get used then they will find another places to get busy. Either it will be another church or they will find their way back to their sin." (Kindle location 702)

"It's simple! It's not about you. It never was and it never will be. It's not your church, it's His church and it's not your will, it's His will. He had the blueprint and He will build the church according to His plans and purposes. There is very little that you can actually do that will make it work or that can make it grow unless He is building it. You can work your fingers to the bone, you can love all the people in your world, you can do whatever you think is possible, but if He is not building it then it is all in vain." (Kindle location 858)

"Tiredness does come and passion does fade into indifference. Where Sunday was once the highlight of your week, it slowly becomes the dreaded day of the week. It might take months or even years, but a season without passion will come, it has to come so that you can choose to go on not based on what you feel but on who God is." (Kindle location 1271)

"The biggest mistake we can make as church leaders is to think that things will fall apart without us. It won't, we are not indispensable at all. In fact, for many of the balls that I 'dropped', two more people rose up to catch them. It is entirely possible that leaders who won't let go of things hinder others from rising up." (Kindle location 1526)

"Being content in whatever state you are in is an essential key to enjoying the ride. Getting stressed out when money is low can drive you insane and feeling the hurt every time one of your precious sheep leaves the sheepfold can hurt badly. Equally, getting caught up in pride and thinking that any success is yours can cripple you and so can other such sin. Balance is essential to enjoying the ride." (Kindle location 1608)

Best Illustration
"You can build a church without an intimate relationship with God but why would you want to? It's like saying you can build a marriage without an intimate relationship with your spouse, but why would you want to? It's the intimacy that makes the relationship, it's the intimacy that is most fun and it is the intimacy that bears fruit!" (Kindle location 355) 

Best Idea
"Before even thinking about planting a church, I would highly recommend building a team that will work with you and support you no matter what! It's not about quantity but about quality. A small team with the right heart will do so much more than a large team with a bad attitude." (Kindle location 641) 

Best Take Away
Quoting her husband and fellow church planter: "This journey has challenged me to the core; it has been a total paradigm shift in my concept of what church really is, my kingdom perspectives, loving people and servant hood. I am not the same man I once was. My mindsets have been shattered. I am more mature, I have done things that I never thought I would be able to do. Now I know that only God can build His church, we are merely instruments. I have learnt total dependence on Him. It has been challenging, thrilling and most of all I have been having the time of my life!" - Eric De Souza, Senior Pastor (Kindle location 1593) 

Our Recommendation
This practical, experiential book on church planting from a woman's perspective would be especially helpful to ladies (single or married) who are involved in a church plant. But it would also be helpful to a husband's understanding what their wife faces in a church plant too.

17.6.12

Nature's Way - Skin Cleansers

Modern chemical filled cosmetics cause our skin to lose its natural oils and nutrients which leads to unhealthy skin and premature ageing.  Not only do these chemicals affect our beauty but they are also absorbed into the blood stream and can cause all sorts of ill health.  

Many every day, common ingredients from your kitchen cupboards or fruit bowl can offer simple ways to achieve healthy and beautiful skin. 

Cleanser
Most women are oblivious to how bad facial cleansers are for them, some are even worse than soap.  Chemical facial cleansers strip the skin's lipids, essential oils and anti-oxidant properties which make the face more prone to cell damage and wrinkles.  The best way forward is to use natural ingredients that stimulate the skin to produce more collagen and elastin.

Nature’s Way Alternatives

I have struggled with acne since my late teens and have been on various treatments, including the Dianette pill as well as Roacutane and have used the most expensive skin care products – all to no avail. 

Since using Nature’s Way products on my skin I have noticed a significant change.  This change was what I have desired most of my life but never managed to achieve with chemical products. You will be very surprised to hear that my skin care routine consists of lemon juice as a cleanser, olive oil as a moisturiser and occasional exfoliating with bicarbonate of soda.  For a treat I used a yogurt and egg mask.  It really is that simple!

Lemon juice does wonders for all skin types as well as for acne.  It will kill bacteria on the surface of your skin and can cause stinging if you do have acne, but only for the first two weeks or so.  In some cases it could lighten your skin and is very good for reducing acne scarring. 

Lemons contain potassium and vitamin C giving your immune system a boost. They also contain Alpha Hydroxy Acids that is a vital property for combating the causes of acne.  Drinking lemon juice mixed with water is also very good for your skin.

Results:
•    Healthy skin
•    Save lots of money
•    No harmful chemicals

Cautions:
•    Take care not to get lemon in your eyes, it will sting a little.

NATURE’S WAY CLEANSER


Ingredients:        Lemon Juice

Method:    Squeeze a few drops of juice from a lemon and wash your face.  Rinse with warm water followed by a cold water splash for best results.  It will sting on open wound but this is not harmful.

More cleanser recipes:
There are many other simple ways to keep your skin clean using natural ingredients, here are some examples:

Olive Oil
Oil dissolves oil.  Using olive oil not only cleanses but also nourishes your skin at the same time.  Use olive oil to cleanse as follows:

  • Rub a small amount of olive oil into your skin
  • Begin massaging the oil into your face. This will remove all dirt and impurities.  There is no need to remove makeup or wash your face beforehand.
  • Remove olive oil either by washing away with a warm, wet face cloth or wipe away the oil with cotton wool.
  • If you use the facecloth method, hold it onto your face until it cool then gently wipe your face.  If you do this two or three times you will feel your pores releasing all the impurities leaving your skin clean and glowing.

Grapes
Grapes are great source of OPCs which promote collagen and elastin.  They are also full of natural compounds that contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which help promote blood vessel resilience for skin health. Use grapes to cleanse as follows:

  • Cut a few grapes in half and gently rub them across your face for several minutes.
  • Rinse with cool water

Now it's your turn.
If you have any skin cleanser tips that work well, please share them with us.  Find out more about Nature's Way here.

14.6.12

He Restores My Soul - Give Thanks

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Here follows two stories of two lives. Take some time to compare the two and decide for yourself, which is a better life.

Life One
She has a teenage daughter who hates her at the moment and is not ashamed to show it!  Each day is filled with the painful reminder that her daughter is no longer a little girl but a woman who is finding her own feet in this nasty world.  At times it causes quite a strain on her marriage and most days she feels helpless and lost in the battle.  She cries out regularly to God that her daughter will come back home to Him so that the family can be at peace again.  

Life in general is quite challenging as money is tight most of the time as she chose to stay home and raise the children and not go out to work.  Her husband battles between running his own business and serving as a pastor at church.  She doesn't really know how he copes with working amidst a buzzing home life.  Each day they do their best to make something of their life and hope that one day God will do something big, something that will bring breakthrough into all the areas that they struggle with.

Her clothes are mostly hand-me-downs, second hand items that she has been given and she lives in a home in an area that is considered by some as quite rough.  There was a time, many years ago, when the street that she lived in was considered so dangerous that parents would not allow their children to walk down it.  Although the houses were quite large they were also very old as they were built during the war time in the 40's which meant that there were many repairs to be carried out on a constant basis.

Days seem so long and so busy, often leaving them tired at the end of the day.  Holidays are few and far between and hard work is a constant part of their reality.  They strive and struggle and fight through most days only to wake up and do it all over again.  Seldom do they experience great miraculous breakthroughs for all their hard work.
It seems that life can be hard, one long struggle.

Life Two
She has four gorgeous children who are growing up in a Christian home and she counts it a real privilege to coach them in the things of God.  Each child has something special inside of them and each day offers an opportunity to get to know who God made them to be.  Parenting is like building a beautiful jigsaw puzzle, each day finding a new piece that fits nicely into place.  

Life is an adventure, with each and every day offering opportunities to see God's grace and provision.  He is so wonderful and provides so perfectly each and every day.  Her husband is in the fortunate position of working from home which means he can spend extra time with the children, a privilege that many fathers do not have.  Together they embrace the adventures of their life and give thanks to God for all the amazing opportunities He has given them.  Each day they tackle the challenges of life with confidence that each small step forward counts towards the big dream that they carry in their hearts.

Expensive clothes are not a priority to her but somehow she has ended up with a really lovely wardrobe with many designer labels made of wools, cottons, leathers and other such gorgeous fabrics.  God has truly blessed her with friends who have kindly shared their blessings with her and given her such lovely items.  There is of course also TK Maxs which helped her wardrobe along nicely too!  For someone with so little income she is certainly blessed with such lovely things.  Not only are her clothes lovely but so is her home and landscaped garden. Together they loved spending their free time restoring their beautiful old home, bringing hidden wooden floors to life and uncovering original wood burning fireplaces.  Their home was warm, beautiful and very comfortable for their family of six with gorgeous views of the surrounding Cotswold Hills.

Days are always full and satisfying and often they fall asleep thanking God for all the amazing people in their lives.  They love to work hard and live for a purpose.  Something extraordinary.  Something bigger than themselves.  Something that will leave a legacy for their children.  Each day they aggressively take one more step forward towards building this 'something' that is larger than life. It seems she has all that a girl could wish for.

Which of the above two lives would you chose, which one sounds best to you?  Would you prefer to live, Life One or Life Two?  Which family life sounds better to you?  Which woman seems happier?  Answer honestly before reading on.  

Now let me tell you a little secret! Both lives are one and the same.  Each detail is one hundred percent accurate and truthful.  Both stories contain facts but each story is written from a different perspective.  Story one focuses on the hardships and the struggles, story two focuses on the positives.  Every single one of us has a story to tell and each of us has a long list of both positives and negatives.

Perspective Is Everything
Your perspective will determine how much you enjoy your life and your enjoyment will determine whether you end every day satisfied or exhausted.  You can do everything in this book, executed perfectly, and still end up drained and tired!  There is one final key that will set you free and that is to give thanks in everything.  Read the two stories again and see how each area could be either a positive or a negative. 
For example, she could see her clothes either as second hand or as designer clothes that she was able to wear and could never afford to buy new.  The second hand clothes could be seen as a negative or as a real blessing – the power was in her choice.  The fact is that they are second hand but her decision to give thanks rather than complain about them was her choice entirely.  I am sure she would rather wear quality second hand clothes than super cheap clothes that did not fit well, had a poor cut and wore out within a couple of months.  

Another example could be the tiredness.  The fact is that most days she went to bed exhausted but what you can’t tell from the two stories was that whilst she did in fact often fall asleep from exhaustion.  It was with a huge smile on her face as she was exhausted from having a full day of good things.  She did not fall asleep complaining about her tiredness but rather she fell asleep thanking God for all the things that she got to do each day.  How do you fall asleep, do you complain about a sore back from all the hard work or do you thank God for all the hard work that you had the privilege of doing?  

The power is in your choice, you will always lean towards one or the other, towards complaining or giving thanks.  You are either a glass half empty or a glass half full person, there is no in between ever.   Restoring your soul can be achieved very simply by giving thanks in all things.  Complaining is draining but gratitude is the best attitude. No matter what happens each day, there is always a good angle to it and a bad angle.  No matter what your life looks like there is always someone worse off than you and someone better off.  If the grass looks greener on the other side, turn on the hosepipe and water your own lawn!

This is a chapter snippet from He Restores My Soul.  Find out more about giving thanks in He Restores My Soul.  

11.6.12

Moses' But

A few weeks ago a preached a message at D7 Church called Moses But!  It is all about how to unleash your potential and how to avoid giving the same excuses that Moses did.  Listen to it here.

8.6.12

Confession of a Pastor

Dear Church,

My heart is breaking because I am hearing regular reports of how much you Christians dislike church.  Did you know that Jesus died for His church.  Jesus' love for the church is made abundantly clear in Ephesians 5:25-32.  You cannot love Jesus and not love His church - to love Jesus is to love His church.  Jesus is the head of the church and we are the body of the church.  To not love the body is like saying to me that you only love my face and not the rest of me.  It's totally ridiculous, my face is me and my body is me, it is all me.

A common debate that I hear is that the church is not the gathering of believers but it is simply individuals that love Jesus.  People say that they can serve God at home on their own and don't need to meet with other believers.  Once again I cannot stress how ridiculous this theory is.  Is my physical body merely the individual pieces of my body or is it the individual pieces of my body living together and depending upon each other to keep me alive?  I can assure you that if you dismembered me I would no longer be me, I would be dead.   It is my observation that sadly the church is also dead due to dismemberment.  

Thankfully, Jesus can raise the dead and I believe that it is His desire to bring together His beautiful bride, the church.  I cannot and will not go into a deep theological debate about these things, you simply must ask God for your own revelation of the truth and stop making excuses not to go to church.  The word "church" comes from the Greek "ekklesia" which means "gathering" or "assembly." Therefore, the church is the gathering of the believers who come together to participate in fellowship with one another as they worship God and hear from His Word, the Bible.

My husband, Eric, and I lead a small church in Gloucestershire, UK.  We are struggling, it is hard ground to break, hearts are hard, money is short.  Almost each week I meet new and wonderful people only to learn that they are Christians who don't go to church any more.  They were hurt by the pastor or disagreed with something that was going on in the church.  I have been hurt by pastors and leaders too.  I have hurt people in my congregation and will still do so in the years ahead.  I don't do it intentionally and really wish I could avoid ever hurting another precious person.  But, I am just a girl on a journey trying her best to do what God has called her to do.  I make mistakes.  I have to deal with my sinful nature.  I still have much to learn.  I am selfish at heart just like you.  For all pastors out there, church please cut them some slack, it is one of the most difficult jobs imaginable.  I wish I could undo all the mistakes I made as a church leader, I wish I could win back everyone I have lost but I can't.  What we can do is move on, learn from our mistakes and try to love again even though we know it will hurt. 

I once overheard a woman say that she sees committing to a church like a marriage.  I chuckled inside as I disagreed with her 'silly' idea.  I have repented several times over since then as I think her views are pure and beautiful and if more people took their relationship with their church seriously then the church wouldn't be as sick and dead as it is today.  I say sick and dead because some parts are just sick while other parts have already died.  I wholeheartedly agree with this woman's sweet sentiment.  If more people would commit to their church 'for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part' then I think we could finally start building this thing called the kingdom.  If more people would take the time to speak to their leaders and work our problems then we might get somewhere.  If people understood the concept of submission to husbands, leaders and government then we could finally get on with reaching out to the lost.

My heart breaks for you church and if I, a sinful human, feels this way then I cannot imagine the pain in Jesus heart.  Please can we stop our childish bickering and begin to work together for a greater good.  Let all of us come together and truly love each other, accepting that we are all hopelessly flawed and saved by grace.  Let us, the glorious bride of Christ start acting our part so that we can finally be in a healthy position to reach out to those that don't yet know Jesus.

Come to church this Sunday, let's forgive each other and start over.  Let's show the world that we are His disciples by our love for one another.  On behalf of all church leaders, please forgive us for hurting you, you didn't deserve that.  Please understand that we are only human.  Come to church this Sunday, let's work it out.

Love

Angela
A hopelessly flawed, saved by grace, still on a journey, pastor.

xxx