Welcome!

This is the website of Claire Musters, freelance writer and editor. Please feel free to look around – check out ‘About’ for more details of Claire’s publishing career.

Watch this space for some personal blogs from Claire on subjects ranging from juggling a writing career with young children to what life is like now her record-producing husband has become a full-time pastor!

Thanks for visiting the site – hope you enjoy it.

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Five reasons why we need to repent more

prayer-13-04-2

The words ‘sin’ and ‘repentance’ seem somewhat old-fashioned don’t they? I’m often told to change them when I’m editing Bible study notes, as people don’t relate to such terminology these days.

It is true that sin and repentance are concepts that seem to go against the grain. Our individualistic society feeds off the thought that ‘I’ should focus on myself – and that ‘truth’ is simply what I believe and how dare anyone challenge that. But that smacks of a hardness of heart – whereas we are called to be softened and malleable in God’s hands.

God has been talking to me a lot recently about how vital our need to say sorry is. I’ve come to realise that repentance actually holds the key to unlocking so much freedom within us as Christians.

We need to say sorry both to God and to others. We need to have the grace to allow others to say sorry to us and forgive when necessary.

It is true that, as Elton John says, ‘sorry seems to be the hardest word’. However, here are five compelling reasons to put in the effort.

1. It reveals a humble, honest heart.

God wants us to be humble enough to acknowledge when we are in the wrong, rather than trying to cover it up. When we come to Him with honesty it shows integrity; we aren’t trying to pretend we are better than we are. Saying sorry and asking for forgiveness demonstrates our continued need of a Saviour. We can’t do everything in our own strength – repenting when we trip up shows that we recognise this and are leaning on God.

I love spending time in the psalms – David is one of my biblical heroes. So much strength, wisdom, depth of feeling and a worshipful heart, and yet he wasn’t perfect. He stooped to an all-time low in his episode of covering up his sin with Bathsheba, but, when the prophet Nathan confronted David his immediate response was ‘I have sinned against God’, and he wrote Psalm 51 to God soon after. Here’s a snippet:

Have mercy on me, O God,

 according to your unfailing love;

according to your great compassion

 blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity

 and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,

 and my sin is always before me…

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

 wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

To read the rest of this post please click here.

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Learning to enjoy the journey

woodland pic with path

I am the type of person that wants to know what’s coming. I want to be able to plan everything ahead of time. I have been learning that this is often a characteristic of the way I deal with fresh revelation from God: He teaches me something but I immediately want to know everything to do with that and how it will pan out in my life over the coming months and years.

But often God deals with me gently by reminding me that this life is a journey – I may have just realised something new but that doesn’t mean I have it all wrapped up. He longs for me to explore, to delve deeper and just enjoy the whole experience of learning rather than having to be an instant expert.

I often have a similar experience with my writing. I have a sense of trepidation when I start tackling the planning stages of a new book or Bible study notes. I can procrastinate for a little while but then, when an idea starts to form, I can feel frustration that I don’t know how the whole concept will look like once finished.

I may get a bit of inspiration about particular chapters or days’ readings, but feel lost and impatient that there seems to be a gap in part of the overall writing scheme. I feel like I must be in control of it all, must have a plan, otherwise it won’t work.

Do you ever feel that way?

And yet…

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Understanding our authority in God

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:18-23)

Those are Paul’s words to the Ephesians – particularly poignant when reflecting on them soon after Easter. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him in heaven, above all things, is also for those of ‘us who believe’. What does that mean for us today though? When we read that we have the same power and authority of Jesus how do we work that out in our everyday lives?

I have always found the ‘name it claim it’ approach difficult – it makes me hugely uncomfortable as it seems quite self-centred rather than humble and servant-like. I’ve also seen too many hurt people after circumstances haven’t changed as they expected them to – or they’ve been told the reason things are still the same is their fault.

However, while attending a conference recently, I was faced with the question I’ve put in the title of this piece and it made me ponder: have I misunderstood, or unintentionally stopped standing in, and using, the authority that being in Christ has provided me with?

To read the rest of this post, please click here.

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Why scrubbing loos is a good idea

cleaning_the_toilet_s

What is it about the human condition that makes us look around the people we come into contact with day to day and compare ourselves to them? It is something we have to work really hard not to do, which means the comparison culture inevitably infiltrates our church communities too.

I’m sure we’ve all had those moments: times when we’ve see others in a role that we wish we had and felt slightly jealous. Perhaps we even feel entitled to that role – or think in our minds that we could do a much better job than the person currently doing it.

 Or perhaps we end up in the mindset that thinks we have to contribute to the service each week – by bringing another word or reading another portion of scripture out. Why do we do that? A desperate need within us to connect with God, or a deep-seated desire to look more holy than those around us?

I think we need to ask ourselves those difficult questions regularly about our motivations for serving within our church communities. None of us is immune to selfish ambition and desires, but it is much easier to nip them in the bud early rather than letting ourselves get carried away with them.

Indeed, in Philippians 2 we are told: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (v3-4).

Jesus had some really harsh words to say about those people who put on a show of holiness in church: “Everything they do is for men to see” (Matthew 23:5) and “Woe to you … you hypocrites!”, which he repeats in verses 13, 15, 23, 25, 27 and 29. With that amount of repetition I think we can see Jesus really wanted to get his message across!

Speaking about the teachers of the law, it was the difference between their public show of purity and piety and their everyday lives that angered Jesus the most. Indeed, He instructed His disciples and the crowds “you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach” (v3).

Ouch.

Harsh words or the simple, honest truth?

To read the rest of this post, please click here – where the reason for the title will become clear ;)

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More than Writers site

I am really excited that today the first of my regular contributions to the Association of Christian Writers’ blog has gone live. The site is called More than Writers and already I have gleaned a wealth of encouragement and challenge from the bloggers this month. Please do check the site out – and comment on my post today if you want to, which is all about learning not to compare ourselves with others :)

comparison is the thief of joy

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God isn’t put off by our negative emotions

looking wistful out window

Recently I’ve been spending time reading psychology books, mainly about infant attachment and parenting styles, as research for my own book. I have been really struck about a particular aspect: how a secure self learns not to be threatened by negative feelings.

I’ve read how sensitive parenting allows a child to feel those negative emotions and also teaches him/her how to deal with them through both support (unconditional love and empathy) and challenge. The child is also reassured that the source of their security and love is not threatened by such negative emotions either.

I’ve looked at how behavioural patterns learned in childhood get transformed into our adult lives. They affect the way we respond to, and interpret, the actions and words of those around us.

I was challenged by one particular book that linked the way a child approaches negative feelings to the way we respond to God when we are experiencing negative emotions.

We are His children and yet has the parenting style we’ve experienced by our earthly parents affected the way we anticipate His responses? I’m sure it must do.

For example, if you are feeling angry, bitter or sad do you feel God will condemn you, pointing out all the reasons why you are feeling like that – and revealing that it is your fault?

To read the rest of this post please click here.

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Filed under Being a woman, Discipleship, On parenting, Worship as a lifestyle

International Women’s Day

I love marking International Women’s Day each year because I feel my life is enriched and challenged by the women I not only have around me but those that I either read or write about around the world too. This year, I’ve created an acrostic poem to highlight some of the qualities I find truly inspiring about women in the world today.

pic of women

Incredible strength of character;

Not afraid to speak their minds;

Tough on the outside, but tender-hearted too,

Enriching the lives of others by what they do.

Reality for so many is not what it should be,

Never allowed to choose – to be free.

At times I ache for women trapped in unjust lives,

Terrified for them – and feeling helpless besides.

In their response to life they inspire me:

Once more facing the day with determination;

Not allowing circumstances to dominate;

Always responding with dignity;

Loving those around them with such grace and mercy.

 

Women around the world

Overcoming hardship, injustice and prejudice daily.

My own world is cossetted by comparison – but still I face obstacles;

Endurance and education is key for us all.

Not settling but pushing ourselves to go far;

Solid faith in who we are.

 

Don’t ever stop believing in yourself,

Always aim high – you have what it takes to see it through;

Your very existence spurs me on to be the best I can be too.

women-in-india

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