More Than Her Bruises: Holly Starr

‘In a world where the truth is confusing, you are more than your scars and your bruises.’ These words reflect a lesson Holly Starr has learned the hard way, through some experiences that challenged her faith and her sense of identity. ‘Bruises’, one of our favourite tracks from last year, offers hope and perspective to anyone going through hard times.

When she caught up with Alex, Holly had been recovering from surgery on her sinuses to correct structural issues in her nose. This was her third operation, after the first two had caused so much scarring that her symptoms hadn’t improved. She’d wondered whether this was a problem she would have to live with forever. ‘I don’t even know if this is going to work,’ she thought, ‘and the recovery is miserable.’

But in her moments of doubt, she took support from her husband, and from knowing God’s people were all around her. ‘I would go on Facebook, and I’d see the comments from my fans, or my friends or family members, saying ‘Hey, I’m thinking of you’.’

‘I think in those times, when you’re questioning ‘Is this ever gonna get better God? Is this something I’ll have to live with forever’? Seeing the support of those around you who love you is helpful.’

Holly was brought up in a Christian home, but it was during her tough teenage years when her faith really became her own. She remembers a transformative retreat in high school, where she heard sermons every day. ‘My eyes were opened up to how important Scripture is,’ she said. ‘It’s God’s Word, and how it’s sharper than a double-edged sword, and it’s there for you all the time, and that’s God Himself.’

He gave us worth and value

For years, she battled with her sense of body image, and worried about what other people thought of her. ‘It kind of got to this breaking point where I had to cry out before God and say “Lord, I can’t live this way”. I was not eating food properly, and just not doing life in a healthy way.’

‘So anyway, long story short, He delivered me from that bondage of feeling trapped inside my own skin, and showed me that what He created in me is beautiful. It doesn’t matter what other people think.’

She wrote Bruises partly to remind herself that she isn’t defined by her own pain, whether it comes from the emotional scars caused by cruelty, or the literal scars that refused to heal. She was also thinking about a relative who’d suffered some traumatic experiences. ‘My heart just goes out to them in a huge way,’ she said.

Ultimately, she says the song is for all of us who’ve gone through seasons of life where something we didn’t expect and couldn’t control has turned our plans upside-down. ‘I think we have this tendency to start defining our life by those times of our life that go bad,’ she said. ‘And we start to say I’m only as good as my weakest moment, when in reality, we’re not.’

‘Jesus, when He went to the cross, He died for all of us, and He gave us worth and value. So this song reflects that. It’s just saying hey, you’re more than your bruises. You’re more than what you’ve been through. You’re not defined by your struggles or circumstances that have pulled you down in life.’

Through grace, and a lot of prayer, Holly told us her scars had healed, and she was ready for the next stage of her ministry. Late last year she dropped the deluxe edition of her new album, Human, featuring production and a couple of collabs from Vision favourite Matthew Parker. We think it’s mature, honest, and danceable. We hope you love it as much as we do.

the YES necklace

Grief might be one of the toughest struggles to deal with. Realising that has inspired Holly to start a new side-project after watching her grandmother lose her husband of 54 years. She made her a necklace with the word ‘yes’ stamped on it, which she wore until the day she died. The necklaces are designed to help people make that choice, to remind us, in hard times, to simply say ‘yes God’. ⇢ theyesnecklace.com

 

Joseph’s Three Coats: 2

‘Joseph left his coat in her hand and ran.’ Genesis 39:12 NCV

The second coat Joseph wore was the coat of temptation. After he was sold as a slave, he became part of the household of a wealthy Egyptian named Potiphar. There he caught the eye of Potiphar’s wife. The Bible says that when Joseph ‘was in the house going about his work… she came and grabbed him by the sleeve, demanding, “Sleep with me.” He tore himself away, but as he did, his jacket slipped off and she was left holding it as he fled.’ (Genesis 39:11–12 TLB)

Joseph was young, handsome, lonely, far from home, and facing repeated temptation at the hands of his boss’ wife. But he resisted her advances and said, ‘How then can I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?’ (Genesis 39:9 NIV) He wasn’t worried that he wouldn’t get away with it, but that he couldn’t live with himself if he said yes. Remembering how God had loved, preserved, and blessed him put the brakes on any impulses he may have had to give in.

David was different. He did give in. And after his affair with Bathsheba, he wrote these words: ‘Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight.’ (Psalm 51:4 NKJV) Who are you sinning against? God.

Did God forgive David? Yes, and He will forgive you too. But David’s story shows that sometimes we have to live with the terrible consequences of our actions. They can devastate us and many others too. The apostle Paul acknowledged this truth: ‘I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.’ (1 Corinthians 9:27 NKJV)

SoulFood: Num 27–29, Mark 4:26–41, Ps 44:1–8, Pro 11:9

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2019

Today’s Readings

Numbers 27–29 ()

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27:1 Then drew near the daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, from the clans of Manasseh the son of Joseph. The names of his daughters were: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. And they stood before Moses and before Eleazar the priest and before the chiefs and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, saying, “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah, but died for his own sin. And he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father's brothers.”

Moses brought their case before the LORD. And the LORD said to Moses, “The daughters of Zelophehad are right. You shall give them possession of an inheritance among their father's brothers and transfer the inheritance of their father to them. And you shall speak to the people of Israel, saying, ‘If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter. And if he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers. 10 And if he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father's brothers. 11 And if his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to the nearest kinsman of his clan, and he shall possess it. And it shall be for the people of Israel a statute and rule, as the LORD commanded Moses.’”

12 The LORD said to Moses, “Go up into this mountain of Abarim and see the land that I have given to the people of Israel. 13 When you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, 14 because you rebelled against my word in the wilderness of Zin when the congregation quarreled, failing to uphold me as holy at the waters before their eyes.” (These are the waters of Meribah of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.) 15 Moses spoke to the LORD, saying, 16 “Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation 17 who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.” 18 So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him. 19 Make him stand before Eleazar the priest and all the congregation, and you shall commission him in their sight. 20 You shall invest him with some of your authority, that all the congregation of the people of Israel may obey. 21 And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the LORD. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he and all the people of Israel with him, the whole congregation.” 22 And Moses did as the LORD commanded him. He took Joshua and made him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole congregation, 23 and he laid his hands on him and commissioned him as the LORD directed through Moses.

28:1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Command the people of Israel and say to them, ‘My offering, my food for my food offerings, my pleasing aroma, you shall be careful to offer to me at its appointed time.’ And you shall say to them, This is the food offering that you shall offer to the LORD: two male lambs a year old without blemish, day by day, as a regular offering. The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; also a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with a quarter of a hin of beaten oil. It is a regular burnt offering, which was ordained at Mount Sinai for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the LORD. Its drink offering shall be a quarter of a hin for each lamb. In the Holy Place you shall pour out a drink offering of strong drink to the LORD. The other lamb you shall offer at twilight. Like the grain offering of the morning, and like its drink offering, you shall offer it as a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.

“On the Sabbath day, two male lambs a year old without blemish, and two tenths of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, and its drink offering: 10 this is the burnt offering of every Sabbath, besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.

11 “At the beginnings of your months, you shall offer a burnt offering to the LORD: two bulls from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish; 12 also three tenths of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, for each bull, and two tenths of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, for the one ram; 13 and a tenth of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering for every lamb; for a burnt offering with a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the LORD. 14 Their drink offerings shall be half a hin of wine for a bull, a third of a hin for a ram, and a quarter of a hin for a lamb. This is the burnt offering of each month throughout the months of the year. 15 Also one male goat for a sin offering to the LORD; it shall be offered besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.

16 “On the fourteenth day of the first month is the LORD's Passover, 17 and on the fifteenth day of this month is a feast. Seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten. 18 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, 19 but offer a food offering, a burnt offering to the LORD: two bulls from the herd, one ram, and seven male lambs a year old; see that they are without blemish; 20 also their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil; three tenths of an ephah shall you offer for a bull, and two tenths for a ram; 21 a tenth shall you offer for each of the seven lambs; 22 also one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you. 23 You shall offer these besides the burnt offering of the morning, which is for a regular burnt offering. 24 In the same way you shall offer daily, for seven days, the food of a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. It shall be offered besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. 25 And on the seventh day you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work.

26 “On the day of the firstfruits, when you offer a grain offering of new grain to the LORD at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, 27 but offer a burnt offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD: two bulls from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old; 28 also their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for each bull, two tenths for one ram, 29 a tenth for each of the seven lambs; 30 with one male goat, to make atonement for you. 31 Besides the regular burnt offering and its grain offering, you shall offer them and their drink offering. See that they are without blemish.

29:1 “On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a day for you to blow the trumpets, and you shall offer a burnt offering, for a pleasing aroma to the LORD: one bull from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish; also their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for the bull, two tenths for the ram, and one tenth for each of the seven lambs; with one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you; besides the burnt offering of the new moon, and its grain offering, and the regular burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink offering, according to the rule for them, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the LORD.

“On the tenth day of this seventh month you shall have a holy convocation and afflict yourselves. You shall do no work, but you shall offer a burnt offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma: one bull from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old: see that they are without blemish. And their grain offering shall be of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for the bull, two tenths for the one ram, 10 a tenth for each of the seven lambs: 11 also one male goat for a sin offering, besides the sin offering of atonement, and the regular burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink offerings.

12 “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall keep a feast to the LORD seven days. 13 And you shall offer a burnt offering, a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD, thirteen bulls from the herd, two rams, fourteen male lambs a year old; they shall be without blemish; 14 and their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for each of the thirteen bulls, two tenths for each of the two rams, 15 and a tenth for each of the fourteen lambs; 16 also one male goat for a sin offering, besides the regular burnt offering, its grain offering and its drink offering.

17 “On the second day twelve bulls from the herd, two rams, fourteen male lambs a year old without blemish, 18 with the grain offering and the drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, in the prescribed quantities; 19 also one male goat for a sin offering, besides the regular burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink offerings.

20 “On the third day eleven bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs a year old without blemish, 21 with the grain offering and the drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, in the prescribed quantities; 22 also one male goat for a sin offering, besides the regular burnt offering and its grain offering and its drink offering.

23 “On the fourth day ten bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs a year old without blemish, 24 with the grain offering and the drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, in the prescribed quantities; 25 also one male goat for a sin offering, besides the regular burnt offering, its grain offering and its drink offering.

26 “On the fifth day nine bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs a year old without blemish, 27 with the grain offering and the drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, in the prescribed quantities; 28 also one male goat for a sin offering; besides the regular burnt offering and its grain offering and its drink offering.

29 “On the sixth day eight bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs a year old without blemish, 30 with the grain offering and the drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, in the prescribed quantities; 31 also one male goat for a sin offering; besides the regular burnt offering, its grain offering, and its drink offerings.

32 “On the seventh day seven bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs a year old without blemish, 33 with the grain offering and the drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, in the prescribed quantities; 34 also one male goat for a sin offering; besides the regular burnt offering, its grain offering, and its drink offering.

35 “On the eighth day you shall have a solemn assembly. You shall not do any ordinary work, 36 but you shall offer a burnt offering, a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD: one bull, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish, 37 and the grain offering and the drink offerings for the bull, for the ram, and for the lambs, in the prescribed quantities; 38 also one male goat for a sin offering; besides the regular burnt offering and its grain offering and its drink offering.

39 “These you shall offer to the LORD at your appointed feasts, in addition to your vow offerings and your freewill offerings, for your burnt offerings, and for your grain offerings, and for your drink offerings, and for your peace offerings.”

40  So Moses told the people of Israel everything just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

Mark 4:26–41 ()

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26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. 34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Psalm 44:1–8 ()

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To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.

44:1   O God, we have heard with our ears,
    our fathers have told us,
  what deeds you performed in their days,
    in the days of old:
  you with your own hand drove out the nations,
    but them you planted;
  you afflicted the peoples,
    but them you set free;
  for not by their own sword did they win the land,
    nor did their own arm save them,
  but your right hand and your arm,
    and the light of your face,
    for you delighted in them.
  You are my King, O God;
    ordain salvation for Jacob!
  Through you we push down our foes;
    through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.
  For not in my bow do I trust,
    nor can my sword save me.
  But you have saved us from our foes
    and have put to shame those who hate us.
  In God we have boasted continually,
    and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah

Proverbs 11:9 ()

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  With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor,
    but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.

Sat 04 May, 2019


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