Just south of ‘conqueror’? Head north!

On Wednesday night on Spirit Radio, the subject was ‘Being an overcomer – what if I don’t feel like more than a conqueror?’ – looking particularly at the verses towards the end of Romans 8. This is a subject dear to my heart, because I have a problem (which will come as no surprise to you!), and that is, I believe the Bible is true but when I look at my life, some truths are not there.

God inspired the Apostle Paul to declare that ‘in all these things we are more than conquerors’ (these things being trouble hardship, persecution, danger etc). Most of the time I don’t feel like a conqueror. ‘Overcomer’ is not a word that comes to mind when I think about my life.

So myself and Ruth Gyves thrashed it out a bit. What does it mean to overcome? What exactly IS the promise? And if I’m someone who believes in God and wants to put what He says into practise – the question is not ‘how do I become a conqueror?’, it’s ‘how do I live out what God says – that I AM already one?!”

Here’s what we came up with – with the help my hubs Richard too 🙂

  • The fact that God promises we will overcome, means that there will be stuff in life that will need conquering. It is no surprise to him and He is ready for it.
  • There are huge things in life that cause trauma and distress – sudden death, serious illness, global tragedies. But there are also less obvious, ongoing issues. Things that cause wear and tear on our hearts. Loneliness, isolation, depression. Because these things are inward, we often end up dealing with them alone; and that can be crushing to the soul.
    However, they ARE covered by that promise of victory!


So… how do we live the truth of God’s promise?

  • Well, any version of ‘conquering’ in our own strength is not going to work. This is where I think I fall down with this stuff. The verse says that, ‘in all these things [see above] we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.’ We cannot do it without God. So we need to call out to Him! Throughout the Bible we see God answering the call of people – whether they deserved it or not. In fact, the less deserving the person, the closer Jesus got to them. Compare his attitude to the woman caught in adultery (John 8) and Zaccheus (Luke 19) – to his attitude towards some of the religious leaders of the time (Matthew 23).
  • To overcome something does not necessarily mean we’ve solved it or made it go away. The promise to overcome is also about enduring to the end. There is a future hope that we cannot even imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9). Elsewhere, Paul talks about ‘light and momentary’ troubles being nothing compared to the glory to come. Not that our troubles are made smaller by God’s power – but that the things he has prepared for us are so wonderful, that in comparison, by ratio they are 1:infinity!
  • We were made for relationships and community. So we also need each other. Like I mentioned earlier, the big traumas in life are obvious to everyone. But the inner struggles, the ongoing wrestling with loneliness, sadness, exhaustion, whatever it is – they are very often unseen by people around us. So ask for help and ask for prayer. Don’t try to do it alone.
  • Spend some time reading God’s Word and praying. The truths that remind us who we really are and what God has done for us, are all there in The Bible. We need to dig in to His truth.
    And I’m talking to myself first by the way!

God is bigger than any and all of our problems and He will not leave us. After the promise that we are overcomers, Paul adds another. A promise God will always be with us.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38,39

Beat that! 🙂

photo credit: ah_blake via photopin cc

Guest Post by Ruth Gyves: the Twists & Turns of Life

A warm welcome to my guest on the blog today – Ruth Gyves 🙂 She was with me on the Wednesday Night show on Spirit Radio this week. I’ll let her tell her story…

Last Wednesday night, I made my debut on Spirit Radio. I was the guest on the lovely Annmarie Miles’ show. We spent time chatting about finding God in the twists and turns of life, in the context of some of my own life experiences. Here is a summary of our discussion.

Ruth Gyves
Ruth Gyves

I am an ordinary person living an ordinary life – my story doesn’t consist of thunderbolts and lightning! I am from Dublin, the youngest of a family of 5 and was brought up in a church going family; I had a great childhood. At the age of 11, at a camp in Greystones I responded to the verse in Revelation 3:20 that says ‘Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in’. I had just discovered it was not automatic that I would get to heaven, and the guarantee I sought was to ask Jesus into my heart. Simple? At that age it seemed so, but of course life is not that simple. The journey begun on that camp so long ago, has consisted of many twists and turns but has always brought me back to knowing that no matter what I go through, God is real; His love for me is real, his forgiveness is absolute and he gives peace, hope and security that nothing else can give.

As I reached the end of my teens, I had a ‘burning bush’ experience at another camp when I could almost hear God speaking from a bonfire. I couldn’t actually hear him speak, but the sense of his presence was so strong, I knew there was more to this Christian life than just the security of heaven.

I married in 1984, have 3 grown up children and a beautiful granddaughter, Amelia who is 5 years old. Over the years, life has thrown many surprises at me such as the breakup of my marriage, bringing up 3 children through difficult teenage years, and walking with my 18 year old daughter (and my sons) through the loss of her little baby, Ruby.

Some months before my daughter became pregnant, I didn’t know why but my heart was stirred to ask 3 people from my church to pray for my children. I can’t help but wonder how we would have got through that difficult year, if I hadn’t had that prayer cover. I don’t know why it all happened, and I might never know, but I do know that God was very real to me in the pain and sadness we experienced.

medium_534074080So many negative things happened at once; the illness and subsequent death of my dad, a wayward teenage daughter and a long drawn out divorce process. My closeness to God was not as strong as it is now but I was conscious of God walking with me and hanging on to me when my grip was slipping. Often it was hard to put on my positive face and keep going – times when getting through a whole day was difficult, so I broke my day down into slots – breakfast to lunch, lunch to dinner, dinner to bedtime! As time went on, I was able to look at whole days together and things became less difficult.

How did I find my way back? How did I find God again in the twists and turns?

Four key practical things that got me through, and continue to strengthen me on my journey are these:

I pray about everything, all the time! I used to give God a list of issues and how I thought he should ‘solve’ them. God often has different ideas and I have learned that praying for God’s solution is better. I was unemployed during 2009 and through that year I saw God’s provision for me in a very real way. One month when money was very short, an anonymous bank draft for exactly the amount I needed came in the post. I believe that God’s way of answering my cry was to prompt someone who knew my plight to respond through generosity.

The Bible
The book of Psalms is a great place to start. I have found endless strength and encouragement in reading the writings of David and others, in all sorts of situations. Psalms like 46 ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble’ or 62 ‘My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.’ It’s through reading the bible that I have learned so much about the God in whom I trust and rely on. If I want to know about someone famous, I’ll read about them – if I want to know about God, then reading Scripture is exactly where I’ll find him.

Writing has been a great way to make sense of it all. I write anything – prayers, thoughts, rants, poetry. It has been a huge encouragement to me to look back over the many many notebooks I have written in and see how God has led me and ‘worked it all out’. Just like the children of Israel – it was when they looked back, they could see all God had done for them. I write about hopes and dreams, reviews at the end of the year – anything and everything. One day I’ll write a book…

This may be the most important. I am blessed with people in my life who have supported and challenged me. I have also found it essential to be part of a church family where I can learn and grow with other people who love God and are willing to walk with me on my journey. We were not made to be alone – finding someone to walk with me, cry with me, laugh with me, bless me and encourage me has been vital in finding my way through the storm.

There is so much more that I could have shared on the show if time had allowed – and so much more I could share here. Perhaps this might not be the last you’ll hear of me!!
Ruth 🙂

photo credits:
Ruth supplied her own photo
Mary Anne Thygesen via photopin cc


On Wednesday night on Spirit Radio we were talking about encouragement; how important it is and different ways we can encourage each others.

small__8065467654Our prime example in the Bible is Barnabas. His name means Son of Encouragement – and he really lived up to it. He was not just a chuck-on-the-shoulder kinda guy. He was practically (Acts 4:35-37) and spiritually (Acts 11:21-23) encouraging – he also was into giving a second chance to people who had messed up (Acts 15:36-40).

He was right hand man to Paul for a time. He wasn’t the dynamic up front leader that Paul was; but he had great wisdom and discernment. Made me wonder if that goes hand in hand with being an encourager. We can plamaus people til the cows come home. Praise people when they don’t deserve it, because we don’t know what to say. But I reckon it takes great wisdom to honestly encourage someone even if they have failed. Encouragement is probably more important and valuable in times of failure than in times of success.

So how can we be encouragers?
On a practical note, babysit for parents who need a night out. Maybe we can’t afford to pay for groceries for someone, but we could go get them. Some cleaning maybe? Or collecting kids from school.

Spiritually we can pray with or for people. We can share some Scripture verses, or maybe an encouragement we ourselves have received from a sermon or a chat with a friend.

The other thing I love about Barnabas’ example is how he insisted on giving John Mark a second chance. I think giving a second chance is one of the most powerful things we can do for someone. It’s what God has done for us – it might be the best form of encouragement we can give.

A few other points that came up…
Encouragement stops hardship from being meaningless
Encouragement makes it easier to live in a fallen world
Encouragement makes it easier to love
Encouragement gives hope
Encouragement nutures patience and kindness

And if you’re in need of encouragement…

God is in control
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Rom 8:28
When trials come that are out of our control, we can rest on this promise that if we are saved and love God, He will work all these things together for our good. It is just like a piece of embroidery which looks a mess on the back, but when you turn it over it is a beautiful work of art.

Don’t worry, pray
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6,7 We are commanded not to be anxious. To help us not to worry we should pray specifically about our problem with thanksgiving, and God will give us peace.

Don’t say “I can’t”
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13
How often do we say, “I can’t cope” or when faced with something God wants us to, “I can’t”? In Christ, we can because He strengthens us, but we need to depend on Him and pray for His strength.

Don’t give up
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Gal 6:9
We should keep persevering at doing the right thing, because even if it seems like we’re not getting anywhere, in time we will bear fruit.

What to think about
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Phil 4:8
When we struggle bad thoughts, we need to figure out good things to meditate on instead.

A lost thought… we need to make sure that we’re not trite or smug – even if we don’t mean to be. If we’re on a hilltop, let’s make sure we do more than just describe the view. Let’s lift others up so they can see it for themselves 🙂

photo credit: Key Foster via photopin cc
sources: 20 Key Bible verses for everyday problems and GotQuestions.org

Making Changes

spirit_logo_120HighLast Wednesday on Spirit Radio I was talking to our regular guest Sharon who’ll be leaving Ireland for Spain soon. We talked about making big changes to our lives and I mentioned that if we’re not ready to head off to foreign climes – maybe there are some small changes we can make to our lives…

  • Join something new – if you’re feeling your church life is a bit stale, it may not be time to move – just time to get involved in something different. Put your name down for the coffee rota, or youth group.
  • If there isn’t a fellowship group then start one. A pizza and a movie or a game of bowling is all it takes to get some folk together to have a laugh.
  • Try to think about positive things – counting your blessings might seem like an ‘old concept’ but if you write down a list of some of the things you have, you’ll be encouraged
  • Nurture the relationships you have – Sharon said last week, ‘Give flowers to people while they’re alive.” Let’s not wait to say or do nie things now. Rather than waiting to write a nice ‘goodbye’ message on a card – say all those nice things to the people around you now…

I’ll be back on Spirit Radio tomorrow night after 10pm (GMT) with more positive and I hope, inspirational chat 🙂

A x