Sunday, June 30, 2019

Jesus is our Guarantor

"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:13‭-‬14 NIV
In this verse from Ephesians, the Holy Spirit is described as being a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.
When we think of deposit guarantees in modern times, we think of the rental market.
"No DSS" is a common tag on rental property searches, usually hidden at the bottom of the listing, ready to disappoint the families who claim housing benefit.
In 2015, 4.8 million families were receiving housing benefit, of those 2.7 million were unemployed and in receipt of other benefits such as income support or job seekers allowance. So 2.1 million families are working and yet still need that top up to make their rent payments each month.
This isn't surprising. Minimum wage currently stands at £8.21. If someone was working full time at 30 hours they would make £1067.30 before tax deductions. The average rent on a 3 bedroom house in Liskeard is £650 per month, which is cheap for the rest of the country. In Reading, the average rent for a 3 bed house is £1300...more than the average monthly wage. Council tax is another £112 a month, utilities are another £100 on average, food shop is another £80 per's not hard to see why so many people need that bit of help towards their rent. If both parents are working, you can add childcare costs into the equation, which can cost around £200 per week. So you can see we have a problem here, think of the number of people who would need a guarantor to secure a tenancy.
Working families, families where one parent works and families where noone is employed need to claim housing benefit, which puts a hurdle in place when trying to rent a home.
For the unemployed, things are far more difficult. The amount of tenants in arrears is double the national statistic if the person is claiming the controversial Universal Credit. 2.7 million familes in 2015 (and I believe the figure is around 4 million in 2018), have the added hurdle of needing a guarantor.
I had a friend recently who needed to move due to being overcrowded in her flat. She had to pay more money as a deposit to make up for the fact that she could not get a guarantor. She was very lucky to have the landlord accept a bigger deposit in lieu of a guarantor.
Now, a guarantor is somebody with a good credit rating who is forced to pay your rent should it fall into arrears. Whether the arrears are due to illness, loss of a job or other unforeseeable circumstances, the guarantor will be liable to pay up on your behalf.
I'm not sure about you guys, but no matter how much I trusted someone, no matter how much faith I had in their character and financial stability, I would not be able to predict whether they will be made redundant, or whether they will become sick and unable to work, or whether a relationship breakdown will leave them struggling.
I couldn't afford to be lumped with the bill, which would most likely come after a couple of months of no here in Liskeard that would make me liable to pay £1950! No thanks.
Not that I would be accepted as a guarantor anyway, due to some unwise decisions as an 19 year old who had discovered the joy of online catalogues!
But in the same situation, how could I ask someone to be liable for my debt? I wouldn't want to risk it, so why should I expect a friend or family member to risk it themselves? And just to note that most people who are asked for a guarantor are either unemployed or first time renters.
The unemployed are susceptible to sanctions, to underpayements and to overpayments. So through no fault of their own, their guarantors can be billed.
It's such a shame that the people on low incomes and the people who are unemployed are penalised in this way. It is yet another example of people falling short and failing people in need. Landlords must know how hard it is to secure a guarantor. 79, 800 families were homeless or living in temporary accommodation in 2018. 320, 000 people in total are homeless (according to the charity, Shelter). Surely it is a right for every person to have a home?
Of course there are reasons behind this, we have probably all seen the stories of "tenants from hell" and seen the devastating photographs of the mess and destruction that some tenants can leave behind, on top of rent arrears. According to Property Times, "Ten per cent of all landlords had serious problems with tenant damage to the property. Landlords who let property in the North East of England reported serious problems with tenant damage most frequently (25 per cent) compared to only one per cent in the East of England or four per cent in East Midlands and South West." This means that in general, 90% of landlords have had no issues. 
It must take a person with alot of faith in the tenant to take on the role of guarantor.
I will bring this back around to what the verse meant in the times it was written in, now that we know the role and huge responsibility of a guarantor in the present day. Through Jesus, the Holy Spirit is deposited in us as a mark of Jesus' faith in us. Jesus, through our faith in him, guarantees our place in heaven, as the ultimate guarantor. He has already been lumped with the bill of our sins and he paid our debt in full.
Jesus is also helping us in a practical way today by inspiring Christians to help people in debt through Christians against Poverty, a charity aimed at providing help, support and debt counselling to anyone who is in debt. If you need help, or would like to donate to CAP, please visit There are Cap debt centres all throughout the UK and they are ready to help.
Shelter is a Christian charity set up to help people who are homeless or facing eviction and need help and support. They give advice on renting, deposits, eviction and benefits. You can find them at if you need help or would like to donate to their cause.
Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

My Baptism Anniversary!

Luke 3: 16 "John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
I am coming up to the 1st anniversary of my baptism and I wanted to share with you all some reflections of how my life has changed in the last year. It has been quite a journey from that cold plunge in the sea on a packed Looe beach!
Before I carry on, I just want to say a massive thank you to my best friend who gave me that first seed of curiosity. She is so inspiring and so humble, she would never admit that she was so instrumental in bringing me to Jesus, and I am certain that she has brought so many others to Him. I also want to thank my Church family and our Vicar for being so welcoming, encouraging  and supportive to me and my family, you guys are literally the best people and we feel so blessed by your friendship, love and fellowship.
During this year I have developed a servant's heart. I have a passion for helping people and I find it a real joy to help people in the name of Jesus!
Since my baptism last summer I have felt compelled to always "do more". I feel a constant prod from God to "do more".  In this last year I have organised an event to raise money for Breast Cancer Care, organised an event to "Fill our Foodbank", signed up to help with Sunday School and the youth club, helped out in the Church office, became a member of the PCC, helped to run an Alpha Course, started this blog, signed up to a Leadership Course, taken on the Church's Social Media accounts, served coffee, scrubbed the toilets in the Church halls...pretty much when any opportunity pops up to help, "Here I am!".
Here's a fun fact, my name is Tiffany, which comes from the word Epiphany. Epiphany translates as "manifestation of God". Manifestation translates to "dancing hand". So my name means "dancing hand of God"...I feel like I'm living up to that right now! Haha! 
Two years ago I was shy and self-conscious. Definitely too anxious to put myself forward for anything that put me in a spotlight. I suffered with depression and anxiety for a couple of years before moving to Liskeard and never thought I would be where I am today. God plucked me from such a dark place and dropped me straight into His light.
I am having the best time!  My family are also growing in Christ and it's just so amazing to witness!
My children attend the Church youth club, the Christian after-school club and Sunday School. My husband is currently on an Alpha course, which is so exciting for us all! My eldest daughter was also baptised last year and she is having a great time getting involved in the youth activities. She is also part of the Junior Worship Team at her school. She asked us for a Bible for her birthday and my heart melted!
Please don't confuse this post as boastful. This is me saying that I have a fire sparked in my soul and I have let it fully consume me. We all have that spark as Christians. That spark comes straight from God Himself, just as Jesus promised in John 14: 15-17  “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."
 It is His spirit burning in our hearts and we can and do sometimes choose to extinguish it when it feels a bit "too hot". When we don't want to risk being burned. We pat at it and blow it out. But God will always reignite that spark, like a pilot light in a boiler.
Just imagine what could happen if we all let God's spirit burn through us, lighting us up so that we shine openly and brazenly for all to see! How many other people's lives could we illuminate? Fire catches and spreads so easily and quickly...
In saying that, sometimes life itself can extinguish that fire. Evil whisperings of doubt in our ears can make that flame flicker, our own stubbornness and selfishness can snuff it out in an instant. We can become discouraged and our spiritual thermostat winds right down.
We need to feed that fire with the fuel that is God's word. With prayer and with fellowship that brings encouragement and stokes the embers of our souls.
I once asked my friend "How can some people have such complete faith and KNOW that God is real, yet loose their faith and their belief?" For all that I have witnessed and experienced, I could never imagine losing a faith that is so set in concrete. But it happens, doesn't it?
My friend replied with "bottle that feeling, because you might need it later".
I remember once singing in church during one of the Worship services, and I looked around at everyone singing; some dancing, some with their hands in the air....and I thought for a split second "what if it's not real?". Then my mind was flooded with memories of physically feeling God's spirit, of answered prayers, of the exact verse that I needed to hear popping up all over the place at that time, of the time that I dreamt of our Church leaders wearing "St Martin's" Tshirts before being told they were already being ordered...too many "coincidences"....and the thought of "is this real?" was replaced with peace and conviction as I carried on singing.
So where will I be next year? Only God knows, and I'm so excited to see what He has planned for me next! 
I pray that I will continue to let that fire burn with a white-hot fury for all to see... and people do see it...4 of my friends are on the Alpha Course with my Husband! 
I pray that God continues to work in me, through me and for me.
I also pray that if you are reading this and you feel as though your fire isn't burning as brightly as it once was, that you will feel encouraged to add fuel to your fire, un-bottle that first love you felt for our God and we can shine brightly together with the love and light of our Lord Jesus. Amen!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Share in His Sufferings

"Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8:17 NIV.
I am currently taking part in a Leadership course at my Church, and though I find it really is terrifying too!
Leadership isn't necessarily standing in the Pulpit and delivering a sermon to a crowded Church, but sometimes God will call you to do just that...and the closer you get to following God's plans for you, the more you will become attacked. You will doubt yourself, you will feel inadequate and you will feel like giving up.
I have found myself in more and more situations where I have to talk in front of groups of people, and it is getting easier over time but it's something that I still struggle with.
I have always had an issue with public speaking, I get nervous, stumble over my words...I forget to breathe!
Isn't it funny that when I'm sat here with a coffee in hand and typing on my laptop I can freely say everything that I want to, but once I have more than one pair of eyes on me I become an incoherent mess.
Yesterday was Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, and during our celebrations God revealed something to me that changed everything for me...and I want to share it with you guys so that it might help you too!
Our speaker for the day read the above Bible verse and my ears pricked up at that last line "if indeed we share in his sufferings...".
I might suffer while trying to speak to people, but I don't suffer anywhere near as bad as Jesus suffered for us all on that cross! He did that for me, so I can do this for him. We too can suffer for His cause. We can try to share in his sufferings and hopefully be worthy to share in His glory!
The next verse that stood out to me yesterday was this: "Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did."Psalm 86:16 NIV.
"Show your strength in behalf of your servant". This verse stood out because of the odd wording, it made me re-read the line and take notice of it's message. "In behalf", not "on behalf". Show your strength THROUGH me, not instead of me, especially when I am speaking out to serve Him.
When I ran all of this past my friend she said "Well of course! Peter could walk on water when he kept his eyes on Jesus! He began to sink when he looked away".
God was telling me to keep my eyes on Jesus and embrace my suffering and He will strengthen me.
How amazing that through those 2 verses and through my friend, God reached out to me and told me exactly what I needed to hear. Through 2 verses that were completely I heard in the service in Church, and the other in a Children's activity in the Church Hall, but both on the anniversary of the day that God's spirit came upon the disciples and strengthened THEM ready for their ministry.
I pray that anyone else who is feeling called to ministry but has this same issue... this anxiety that stops you from doing what you feel you need to do, reads this post and discovers God speaking to them and strengthening them too.