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Welcome to Growth and Rest

  • Ready to retreat?

    April 20, 2023 by

    Are you a church leader, part-time or full-time, paid or voluntary? Is a half-day retreat something that would interest you – the opportunity to spend time with others, in Scripture, in personal reflection and in group discussion? I have been invited to lead a retreat on Thursday 4 May in Waringstown. The two sessions are… Read more

  • Resilient Disciples

    April 25, 2022 by

    Rick Hill sets the scene by telling the stories of three friends who at one time were passionate about their faith and, at the time of writing his book, were not currently following Jesus. But his tone is never judgemental – he is trying to understand why for so many of us there can be… Read more

  • “Fearing Bravely”

    February 2, 2022 by

    Some parts of this book made me smile and some parts made me squirm. As Christians, we all know that Jesus calls us to love God and love our neighbours – but the author helped me to seriously think through the question of ‘Who is my neighbour?’.   Just when you think you’ve understood who… Read more

  • ‘The Good Life’ retreat

    October 6, 2021 by

    God is our good Father and he gives us good gifts. But what does it mean to live a good life? What is goodness anyway? The bible actually says a lot about goodness, right from the first pages about creation. In the verse quoted in our picture, God tells us that the good life is… Read more

  • What are you craving?

    August 31, 2021 by

    While some of us have thrived on so much time alone over the past 18 months, most of us have eventually begun to crave contact with friends and family. We have longed for a hug, a coffee, a chat, or a meal together with those we love. Now that schools and colleges are getting started… Read more

  • What does ‘steadfast love’ do?

    May 14, 2021 by

    ‘Hesed’ love bears witness People notice. People have obviously been talking about Ruth’s kindness to Naomi, because Boaz says this: “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to… Read more

  • What’s so special about ‘steadfast love’?

    May 12, 2021 by

    ‘Hesed’ love is committed Ruth and Orpah, Naomi’s two daughters-in-law, want to go back to Bethlehem with Naomi but she tells them to return to their own homes. Orpah turns back but Ruth refuses. ‘Hesed’ love is stubborn. Ruth has decided to pledge herself to Naomi, in spite of the cost to herself. In doing… Read more

  • Love kindness

    May 10, 2021 by

    Do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8. We have already looked at the the call to do justice, as illustrated by Esther. Now we want to look at the call to love kindness. If you have guessed the character of Ruth for this one, you have guessed right! ‘Hesed’ love… Read more

  • If I really had your heartbeat…

    May 8, 2021 by

    I want to conclude this week’s brief exploration of the theme of ‘Doing Justice’ with this beautiful poem, written by Priscilla Reid in January 2013, during a trip to Uganda with Tearfund: IF IF I really had your heartbeat, IF I saw things through your eyes, IF I truly loved my neighbour, IF a cry… Read more

  • A woman who did justice

    May 7, 2021 by

    Esther was a young Jewish girl living in Persia in the 5th century BC. Some Jews had returned from exile to Jerusalem but others, like Esther and her cousin Mordecai, were still in exile. They faced threats to their existence from those in power and this is exactly what happens in the book of Esther. … Read more

  • Do Justice

    May 5, 2021 by

    Sometimes we can struggle with the justice of God. We would rather talk about his love or his grace or even his mercy. We fear his justice. But, while the cross is evidence of God’s love, it is also evidence of God’s justice: the old hymn ‘Beneath the cross of Jesus’ talks about the cross… Read more

  • Justice, Kindness, Humility

    May 3, 2021 by

    What do justice, kindness and humility have in common? Which of them are traits which you aspire to? Which of them do you admire most in others? Which of them would you say are attributes of God? They are all found in this verse from Micah, one of the minor prophets in the Bible:     He… Read more

  • A new milestone

    January 27, 2021 by

    Yesterday, the UK reached what the BBC called ‘a grim milestone in an abnormal year’ -the number of deaths related to Covid-19 is now officially 100,000. Lord, my mind struggles to take in the depth of suffering on a global scale. I cannot imagine it. The sheer numbers overwhelm me. 100,000 in the UK alone.… Read more

  • Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning

    January 1, 2021 by

    On this first day of 2021, I’m thinking about John O’Donohue’s phrase ‘unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning’. Though your destination is not yet clear You can trust the promise of this opening; Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning That is at one with your life’s desire. What kinds of things unfurl? A… Read more

  • Four-course meal or just dessert?

    December 28, 2020 by

    Do you read your bible regularly but feel that God isn’t speaking to you? Are you looking for something fresh for the new year? Are you not sure where to start? Sometimes we just need a plan that is better adapted to our stage of life. A young mother – or anyone who has full-time… Read more

  • Can we bring good out of 2020?

    December 23, 2020 by

    If ever a word has been overused in a year, it’s been the word ‘unprecedented’ in 2020. Meaning ‘never done or known before’, it has been attached to all sorts of events and experiences this year. The exhaustion of unprecedented times As Advent draws to a close, we think of how so many events and… Read more

  • Change, change, change

    December 21, 2020 by

    Disappointed. Angry. Stoical. Relieved. Critical. Confused. Philosophical. Thankful. Our emotions have probably changed as often as the rules in the run up to Christmas. As I read social media, I see friends who are bitterly disappointed at not being able to have their loved ones round the table. I see others who are thankful they… Read more

  • The immensity of Christmas

    December 20, 2020 by

    It’s the fourth Sunday of Advent and we are preoccupied with plans which are constantly changing, based on current Covid-19 restrictions where we live. Christmas as we once knew it has been stripped away and we are left with…..what? I have added Mary to our nativity scene this morning – this year I have decorated… Read more

  • Spiritual blues?

    October 26, 2020 by

    ‘I had always understood lament to be primarily about sadness and tears, a kind of spiritual blues song, accompanied by tears and sung quietly in a minor key.’ Mags Duggan, in her book ‘God Among the Ruins’. I recently listened to a couple of short podcasts on the topic of lament, on the Biblical Counselling… Read more

  • What does (this) summer mean for you?

    July 24, 2020 by

    For many of us, summer used to mean a vacation in the sun. Now it means a staycation. According to the Oxford dictionary, a staycation is ‘a holiday spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions’. Some people are going for the former… Read more

  • New retreat, Grow and Thrive, has been released!

    July 7, 2020 by

    The new online retreat, called ‘Grow and Thrive’, has been released! How do we keep on growing as Christians? How do we thrive and not just survive? This retreat gives you the chance to explore: The ABC of growing in faith – John 15 How to support growth – spiritual practices How to keep thriving… Read more

  • Online retreat on YouTube

    June 3, 2020 by

    The complete online retreat ‘Come and Rest’ is now available on YouTube. Many participants followed the retreat last week. God met with us and led us from worry to worship, from being burdened to entering into his rest! If you missed the retreat, you can take it any time – and I know some participants… Read more

  • Final session of online retreat

    May 28, 2020 by

    Today is our final session of our online retreat, ‘Come and Rest’. We will look at Psalm 131 – where we see the soul as a child at rest on its mother’s lap – as a beautiful illustration of the rest which we were learning about yesterday. You can access the video here. And in… Read more

  • Online retreat session 3

    May 27, 2020 by

    It’s lovely to hear from feedback coming in that God is meeting with different people in different ways – that’s what this retreat is all about. In session 3 today, we will hear the sweet invitation of Jesus to come to him and rest and we will explore together what that rest looks like. Here… Read more

  • Online retreat session 2

    May 26, 2020 by

    We got off to a good start to our online retreat – Come and Rest – yesterday, as we looked at Philippians 4:6-8 together and thought about what the bible says about worry. Today we will look at the biblical character of Hannah and learn how she moved from worry to worship. Here is the… Read more

  • Online retreat – session 1

    May 25, 2020 by

    The online retreat ‘Come and Rest’ goes live today! You can access it on YouTube, using this link – videos will be released each day at 10am BST, Monday – Thursday. The videos will remain on YouTube after that, so you can do the retreat at your own pace, in your own time. You will… Read more

  • ‘Come and Rest’ free online retreat

    May 20, 2020 by

    Covid 19 has brought challenges to us – some specific to our own situations, some common to us all. We have been on a steep learning curve and it has taken its toll. We have suffered many losses and we are grieving. If you are craving some downtime, if you feel you could benefit from… Read more

  • Look after yourself!

    March 21, 2020 by

    Those of you who follow me on social media will know that I have been posting every day for the last 5 days on the subject of ‘How to look after yourself’, in these very uncertain days of COVID 19. I have been using the acrostic SPECS, covering the Social, Physical, Emotional, Cognitive and Spiritual… Read more

  • Overnight Retreat: Grow and Thrive

    January 23, 2020 by

    I love gardening and I get very excited when I see things growing as they were meant to grow. But I’m never very sure what to do when things look like they are dying. In our lives, most of us want to grow and thrive. It’s true in the physical realm (at least we get… Read more

  • Half-day Retreat: Come and Rest

    January 23, 2020 by

    Whatever our age, wherever we live, whatever we work at, whoever our friends are – we all know what stress is. Of course, some level of stress is good. It’s what helps us meet deadlines. But very often we are carrying too much stress in our lives – and it’s good to periodically leave it… Read more

  • Why retreat?

    January 20, 2020 by

    What is a retreat and why would I want to go on one? Put simply, a retreat is an opportunity for you to leave your normal everyday life behind – and take time out with God. But I try to do that anyway – why go away to do it? If you are anything like… Read more

  • Counselling Corner

    January 7, 2020 by

    Suicide is a difficult topic to talk about – and unfortunately it’s been in the news a lot recently. Here are some facts: Suicide is the biggest killer of under 35s in the UK In the last 15 years in Northern Ireland, the suicide rate has increased by 100% Three-quarters are male In Northern Ireland,… Read more

  • Counselling Corner

    January 6, 2020 by

    Today we are looking at Depression. According to the World Health Organisation, depression is the leading cause of disability in the world today. It affects 2-5 per 100 people in the population. But 1 in 5 to 1 in 10 of us will suffer depression at some point in our lives. It’s not for nothing… Read more

  • A darkened room or a party?

    July 17, 2022 by

    ‘I just need an evening to myself!’ ‘Let’s invite a crowd of our friends round for a barbecue!’ If you have ever expressed one of these desires and had a friend or a spouse or other family member say the other, you will understand something of the conflict between the needs of an introvert and… Read more

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