Fiona Monaghan

Be Ready


It is our job to make the adjustments necessary in our daily walk so we are prepared for any assignment. We don’t know what will be required in days to come, but the prepping, the studying to be ready for it, starts now. This happens in the quiet, thoughtful places. We won’t have time to pull it all together at the time of crisis. Have the “tanks filled”, all preparations made and the communication lines established, then be readyand on the alert.

This was addressed in a sermon I heard on the disciple, Peter. At the time of his denial in the courtyard, Peter had been given the opportunity to “tank up”. Peter was with Jesus in the garden and three times Jesus came to the disciples and admonished them to pray. Luke 22:46. 

In essence, things were going to get messy, they needed to “stoke the fires and get strength from the Father.” Jesus did. He was human and God but still needed that time of prayer. How much more do we, being fully human, need to pray?

“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” Mark 14:38   We will be tested and it’s through difficulty that we know what lies in our hearts and what needs to be sifted out. “The chain of command is clear. Satan can do nothing outside of God’s domain and God uses satan to advance the cause of His kingdom.” Our assignment is to be ready and primed for anything. It is not at the time of battle to get our equipment in working order, but to have it at the ready all the time.

We make it our aim… to be well pleasing to Him. 1 Corinthians 5:9

Grace...A Wonderful Word


A few years ago I was on a quest to rebuild my broken faith when I decided to read books by three particular authors. Philip Yancey, C.S. Lewis, & Brennan Manning. These three men came from different denominations, different generations even of different ages, but all came with a great understanding of the word Grace.

I love the book by Philip Yancey What’s So Amazing about Grace?”  where he examined Grace from many perspectives. I learned so much about this one word and the different forms in which it is found. We believe that God’s grace is “unmerited favor” meaning it is not something we can purchase or earn. It is usually found in places where the person who extends it does so because there is nothing else that can be done, but trusts that a good outcome will result. He goes about showing many situations where grace is lived out in real life from the story of a young girl coming back home after running away for a ‘better life’ and her family take her back with open arms. He tells of a situation where many scholars had met in Britain to discuss the different religions and what was the fundamental difference between them and Christianity? C.S Lewis walked into the room during the discussion and responded that Grace was the biggest difference. It is the only religion where God reaches down to man, whereby other religions are man trying to please or reach God by their actions.

He states that Grace is one of those words that has never lost its meaning. It has stood the test of time. Other words can change with cultures or generations and take on different meanings. For example: gay used to mean happy or bright and gentleman used to be a Title not a description. Grace is a multi-faceted word, but the meanings stay clear. Take for example grace note: extra notes in a song that add depth. Grace period: when you get time extended without penalty. Grace editions: more magazines than you paid for.

Another favorite author, Brennan Manning, wrote the fictional book “The Prodigal” where he puts into words the story Jesus told in The Lost Son in Luke, but in a modern situation. Beautifully expressed, it deals with a man’s actions alienating himself from family and church and the road back to faith, which was started by his father going to him and extending grace while he was at his lowest point. (I highly recommend this book)

Grace is a great word and a great reality.   In practicality, its offering something of ourselves to another person when they don’t deserve it. Maybe not passing a judgement on someone’s actions, but trusting that God will bring good out of it. Look beyond someone’s action to the cause and reason behind it. Being a friend in need, with no expectation of payback. As it was extended to us, let us extend it outward to others and in that we are living in that grace given to us.

Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

I saw a miracle today…

Written by Fiona Monaghan I was blessed to be invited to view the ultrasound of my grandchild and I couldn’t help but remember these verses from Psalms. ‘You made my whole being, You formed me in my mothers womb…You saw my bones being formed… my life was written before I was one day old…” Psalm 139:13-16

God knows what that small life represents even now. All the potential is there and He knows it all. From the outside world this little one has a cheering fan club looking on, praying and encouraging their growth until that day when they truly become part of our world.

How like our experience here on earth. We are growing and changing through difficulty and pressure to become people of honor and strength exhibiting the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control. We also have a cheering team looking on and encouraging us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us… Hebrews 12:1-2

There are so many things in the physical world that have a spiritual counterpart and this one spoke to me loud and clear. This baby can do nothing more to earn the love of its parents and family. Just by being - they are loved; and there is nothing we can do to make God love us more than He does already. His nature and character is love and love is to want the best for someone - no matter what. It is not an emotion - but an action, which was exhibited with Jesus providing the way for us to be reinstated back into God’s family.

“Love is not an affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” C.S. Lewis

I don’t know what the future holds for this little one, but My Father does, so I think I will just trust Him with it.

Thank you Father for the blessing of being a part of my grandchildren’s cheering section. To encourage, love and pray for them. Keep me mindful of the responsibility I bear them and their parents as I support them and bring them to You in prayer.



Photo Credit

Give me patience and I want it now!


Patience_JoyceMeyerWritten by Fiona Monaghan But the fruit the Holy Spirit produces is love, joy and peace. It is being patient, kind and good. It is being faithful 23 and gentle and having control of oneself. There is no law against things of that kind. Galatians 5:22-23

Patience…the next fruit of the spirit on our list. This is one trait that is much like that of silver, needing extreme heat to purify it. Or that of carbon needing extreme pressure to form diamonds; patience grows under duress and in the learning to hold steady.

“A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen 

Foghorn LeghornThere are many quotes, poems and jokes about patience; but we all know is that it is not easily acquired. This is another fruit that is an outcome of an action that we have to exercise…that being TRUST. If we can be trusting God for the outcome in the difficulties in life, then what we do while we wait will produce either anxiety or patience. It is all in the process making…it is learning that something of value is never quickly acquired.

A visual that comes to my mind is that of a pearl being formed. Pearls start out as a speck of sand or grit that gets into an oyster and the irritation causes a liquid to be excreted to cover the offending irritant. Over time this form into a pearl - something of value. Bless me with patienceSo when life brings irritations to us, when we encounter those people who make us count to 10…imagine something precious being formed … something of value which will become part of our character and reputation. As stated in Proverbs 22:1 “Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.”

Photo credit: Quote, e-card, Fog Leghorn

Joy comes from within


Written by Fiona Monaghan But the fruit the Holy Spirit produces is love, joy and peace. It is being patient, kind and good. It is being faithful and gentle and having control of oneself. There is no law against things of that kind. Galatians 5:22-23

Karl_BarthMany think of joy as a happy emotion. An emotion one feels when something really, really good happens. When in all actuality, it is a deep sense of well-being and contentment no matter what the circumstances are around you.

James uses joy in this verse … Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4

Joy is something that comes from within, not subject to circumstances being all lined up in your favor and looking good on the outside.

Joy is distinctly a Christian word and a Christian thing. It is the reverse of happiness. Happiness is the result of what happens of an agreeable sort. Joy has its springs deep down inside. And that spring never runs dry, no matter what happens. Only Jesus gives that joy. He had joy, singing its music within, even under the shadow of the cross.   - S.D. Gordon

As I came to understand what joy is and what it is not, it became much clearer to me that it isn’t a character trait we can formulate. It seems to flow out of other things. Gratitude (as mentioned above); gratefulness, knowing that this life as we know it is not all there is; that there is something better coming. It is putting our faith and trust in God no matter what may be happening in our lives whether good or bad. Knowing He is still in control and it will work out in the end, even if not how we expected it. Then, from that choice of behavior joy flows.

This week’s challenge: Do your own word study on JOY. See how many quotes and verses you can come up with and see if your understanding of the word will change.

What are you growing in your spiritual garden?


Written by Fiona Monaghan This weekend I was working in my garden planting vegetables. While I was working, a talk I had heard came to mind. In the talk, the teacher painted a picture with words that have stuck with me throughout the year and I wanted to share with you.

A gardener is planting his seeds into the soil and then attaches a picture of what that plant will look like when it comes to maturity; usually the package that the seeds came is attached to a stick at the end of the row.

Imagine the seed is in the ground and wonders what it will look like when it matures. He pokes his head out every once in awhile to look at the picture of the mature plant. “Oh yes! That is what I will look like when I am done growing!”

Even though just a tiny seed with little evidence showing of what he will become, it doesn’t have to do much more than just wait, be patient and become like that picture.

This is much like Jesus’ encouragement to us to abide in the vine making sure we stay attached and in time we shall become mature branches and produce fruit. He used gardening metaphor because he was speaking to agrarian culture where they knew planting, reaping, and harvesting terms. We are encouraged to produce Fruit of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control.

This fruit or character traits don’t come easy to us. We experience a tug of war from all the opposite traits. But, the promises are there for us -“Christ in you, the hope of Glory”Abide in me and I will abide in you …” “ Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives… We are asked to join God in the work that he is already accomplishing all around us, and how best to be of help but to exhibit the fruit we are asked to exhibit.

Jesus is our model. He is the picture on the seed packet. He lived the character we are asked to exhibit. Not only that, he promises to empower us with his Spirit, to become all that we can be.

Take a moment and write a down a couple verses of Jesus’ words (ex: “If God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you?” Matthew 6:30; “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes my Father who sent me” Mark 9:37;“I say, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you” Luke 6:27-28). Spend a week looking at them, soaking them in, activity applying them to your life. Jesus challenges us to grow and by continually looking to him and his lessons we will keep our eyes focused on him.

"Who do you say I am?"

Written by Fiona Monaghan Is the image that you have of God, through Christ, your own or has it come from other people?

I had for many years, an impression built from many other sources. After hours of quiet time, reflection, prayer, poetry and pain, a new image of God through Christ, has become more real to me at this time of my life, than at any other.

PastConfLogoThe authoritarian image of God I had has been tempered with a love-embracing "sold out" God who wants, more than anything else, to redeem as many of us as will allow Him. To reclaim His children from the misery we create for ourselves. He went to the lengths of self-sacrifice to prepare the way, paid the price and then gave us the means to claim it. We see it lived out in our favorite movies: the hero battling all evil to save a loved one, and yet we don’t appropriate the gift for ourselves from the Author of the Story...

Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Take some time and examine how you would answer this question: Has your view of God been influenced by opinion polls, other people, social media or past experiences?

This question will be asked of us many times over our lifetime. Sometimes, by a child or friends who are seeking answers when life comes crashing down. Let's answer with the same enthusiasm and conviction as Peter did in Matthew. He is our Messiah, the Son of the Living God! By seeing God in this light daily we will be blessed and strengthened. By living our lives based on this truth we will live daringly and outside of the constraints of our fear and insecurities - filled with joy and grace. Just imagine!

Live now with this in the forefront of our daily lives and respond to everything from that question, “Who do you say that I am?”

I guarantee you will view your world very differently.

Photo Credit

How to pray and be still


Written by Fiona Monaghan

“Prayer: Is the act of seeing reality from God’s point of view” – Philip Yancey

Tomorrow is the National Day of Prayer and I wanted to share my experience at a Prayer Workshop led by Pastor Tim earlier this year.

Beginning the day with a simple exercise, we pick a verse that is important to us or stood out to us and meditated on it. After soaking in God’s word in, surrounded by peace, we came back together and shared it with the group.

What was amazing to see was the variety of verses that all had a common thread and that was ‘be still.’ Pastor Tim pointed out that we all have a way of giving 'hugs' our own personal touch. It might be a phrase we use, a type of hug, rubbing the back, kissing the cheek. Cultures have different ways of expressing hugs and God has a way to give each of us a ‘hug’ and it’s with the phrase “Be Still”. It will come through in a verse or sometimes a thought flitting through your mind.

As you get ready to pray be still and fully immerse yourself in God's presence.

PrayerNow that you have prepared your heart and mind for prayer beginning with thanksgiving. Actively look for those things in your life you are thankful. Then go deeper and examine the why and wherefores of that thankfulness. If you are thankful for your family, what about your family are you thankful for? Why are you thankful for that? Take the time to really examine and you will find more attributes coming to the surface. Be intentional at the beginning and ending of your day to examine the reasons to be thankful for that day.

Adoration and confession: a time to examine your motives and inward thoughts. Bring them to the forefront for confession in relation to who God is. For example, if fear is present look to where God is addressed as our Fortress in times of trouble. If you are battling something, then to look to where He is addressed as our Shield and Buckler protecting us in times of battle. Needing comfort, what about The Shepherd who guards and takes care of his sheep? Focus on the all names of God and understanding His nature and His glory.

Petition is when we are asking for specific things. We name and present our requests to God. This would be as it relates to us individually. For direction in life, decisions needing to be made, wisdom for a specific item. It is good and right for us to pray for this kind of thing.

God is our Father and He wants to give to His children. We are told that we have not because we don’t ask. It is a time also to be aware that God is all knowing and what we are asking for He will answer from that place of knowing all. He always answers prayer in some way. It may not be in the way we want or thought, but He will answer.

“If our all prayers were answered right now, how would the world change?” Pastor Tim

Intercession is when we are praying for others. I really liked Pastor Tim’s question he asked us, “If our all prayers were answered right now, how would the world change?” Pray for the seemingly impossible. Pray internationally. Pray for your neighbors. Pray for the government. Pray for all the conflicts you hear about in the news.

We can be given a desire to pray and maybe even the wisdom and understanding of what to pray for, but only God can work in a person’s life to make change. We should never take advantage of knowledge about another person except to pray for them, it’s a solemn responsibility.

We are encouraged in two way prayer to pause and listen for God’s response; to have a two way communication and to expect direction. We have been given access to Him and He wants to have that with us.

God uses many avenues to accomplish this. Maybe a thought in your mind, a scripture that you read that just illuminates what you are praying about or something someone says. For myself, I have found that journaling my prayer is an excellent way to stay focused and also receive direction. For example, when writing my frustration and praying for guidance on a particular thing and as I put words to my feelings I felt myself calming and the words became more productive and by the end of twenty minutes of writing I had my answer on what to do next. I truly believe God worked in that scenario for that end.

In the book Crossroads by William Paul Young references prayer by writing “Prayer is a conversation inside a relationship.” That is it in a nutshell. When we care about someone, we share our thoughts, fears and ambitions with them. This communication called prayer is that very thing with our Heavenly Father. Jesus took much time to communicate with His Father when he lived on this earth and we have been given that very right and responsibility to aid us in our lives on this earth.

Nehemiah - the Prayer Warrior

Written by Fiona Monaghan One of the things that we are encouraged to do when there seems to be nothing else to do is pray. It sounds like a less than auspicious thing to do. We say, so glibly, “I will pray for you.” However, if we could catch the power and authority behind it; if we could really see what happens in the heavens when we pray I think we would be amazed the power it holds.

NehemiahWe find Nehemiah in exile from his homeland, Judah (possibly being of the tribe of Judah,) and working for the Persian king, Artaxerxes. His served the king as a cupbearer which would have been quite a high position allowing him access to communicate directly with the king.

Nehemiah’s brother comes to him and tells him of the suffering of those living in Jerusalem under foreign rule. The city itself is in ruins and provides no protection for the people. Nehemiah decides it’s time to re-establish Jerusalem back to the great city it had been. Rebuild the walls that had been brought down. Re-construct the gates had been burned. Return the people back to worshipping their One True God-Jehovah. No small task.

He must have made a good impression on King Artaxerxes because when he asked the king if he could be allowed to return and rebuild the walls he was given permission. Not only that, he made Nehemiah provincial governor and gave him letters for safe passage. He even provided the means to procure timber for the rebuilding.

However, before he was given all these amazing provisions, Nehemiah did one thing. He prayed. He wept, mourned and fasted before God. In his prayer he brought up all the things he and the people had done wrong before God. He accounted the many times God had intervened on their behalf and then how the people would return to their old ways. He held nothing back.

Nehemiah 1:5-11

5I said, ‘O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments; 6let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for your servants the people of Israel, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Both I and my family have sinned. 7We have offended you deeply, failing to keep the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances that you commanded your servant Moses. 8Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples; 9but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are under the farthest skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place at which I have chosen to establish my name.” 10They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great power and your strong hand. 11O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man!’

God is all powerful, He can do anything he wants. He is the Supreme Ruler and Creator. This world does not exist without his permission. So I think what happens when we pray is that we get aligned with God’s purpose and plan. We are willing to lay everything out before him, we hold nothing back. We recognize He is Number One. We confess anything that gets between us and His plan for us. Clear the decks. For His part, He is able to move and shift circumstances when we are willing to be part of his plan.

Nehemiah had a heart for Jerusalem and really, really, really, wanted to rebuild it and restore the Israelites. I think he had connected to God’s heart in this too. He had time and time again rescued the Israelites from their oppressors and hardships. Despite their wandering attention and seemingly fickle love, He loved them and did not want them to suffer.

So prayer is seeking God’s heart and perspective in the situation we are praying about and then coming alongside Him to make it happen. Sometimes it will be in physical work like rebuilding walls, sometimes it will be emotional work like rebuilding trust and relationships. Remember, God is all about rebuilding. It is on every page of the Bible - Reconciliation and Rebuilding. Clear out all the old stuff, confess any sin and shortcoming. Make a fresh start in your heart and mind and move on from there.

Are there areas in your life that need rebuilding: a relationship that is in need of attention? Finances needed to pay off debt, healing for a sick body? Align your desires with God’s will so that you are in agreement. Ask for clarity of mind to see what needs to be done. Like Nehemiah, the way will open up and the means will be provided.