Category Archives: Encouragement

Surviving The Valley

It’s been so long since I’ve used this space I almost feel like an intruder….lol. I feel like I should give an explanation as to why I’ve been away for so long but if I begin to delve into the details; multiple deaths in my family, moving to Jamaica, starting my Masters degree, etcetera, etcetera, I might be here for an insanely long time and may never get to share what’s currently on my heart. So with that being said, I’m back. Whether for a moment or for good this time is still to be discovered, but I’m glad that I’m in a space where I can communicate openly about my life and encounters with God again!

Today, after a long period of searching and reassessing my life and my relationship with God, I was reminded of a key principle in understanding who God is and reaching out to Him. I’ll go back a little before telling you what that principle is, so you don’t feel out of the loop and I don’t seem like I’m rambling on about everything and nothing in particular.

Have you ever hit a really low place spiritually, where you feel like you’re no where close to God and you’re praying that you’d have even a slight encounter with Him again so you can keep going? Now, this feeling may not be a result of sin or wrong doing, but simply a result of feeling drained by the stresses of life and literally having to take life one day at a time and dealing with each crisis in the moment. It may resemble waking up each day and praying, all the while not being certain if God is even listening or hearing you. Maybe you’re trying to worship and you just can’t find the right words or the right song and it’s as though you’re occupying an empty space and reaching out in futility. In such a moment, have you ever asked God “Where are you?” or “Why won’t you talk to me?” or even “Why have you forsaken me?”. If you’ve been here at any point in life, welcome to the club.

That was me for the past couple months. I woke up each day and I grappled with praying and worshipping and many days I felt abandoned by God. I wanted so badly to hear His voice or feel His presence or at least get some form of confirmation that I was still within His will and plan for my life. And for months I battled, and doubted, and cried because it felt like I was grabbing at straws. I felt like at some point, God got fed up and just couldn’t be bothered to meet with me anymore. I can’t begin to tell you how empty and painful that was for me. To go from being in God’s presence daily and feeling Him close to me, to feeling like there was a wall between us and trying to figure out how to get past it. Of course during this time I kept seeing those memes online that say “the teacher is quiet during the test” and “God has promised not to leave you or forsake you”. These, while comforting momentarily, never proved to be enough to sustain me and definitely didn’t renew my peace. I needed something more, something solid, heck, I needed God!

Then today happened. Today I woke up and was reminded of John 1:1 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

I know, this is a serious “what?” moment because it’s such a simple verse to combat all the drama I was facing. But, as simple as it seems, that one verse gave me the breakthrough I was so desperately looking for. You see, I’ve been reading my bible, but only because I’ve been taught to read it. I’ve been told time and time again that reading my bible should be part of my daily routine and so in my low place, I read because of religion and not relationship. What that means is, I wasn’t reading my bible because I wanted to know more about God or because I wanted to apply it’s principles to my life, I was reading it because it became a part of my routine, a chore almost. When I felt drained I cast the bible aside and believed that its words could not offer the comfort I needed, because it wasn’t God speaking directly to me – and ultimately, that’s what I wanted.

This morning though, I was reminded that interacting with the bible is one of the most intimate ways of interacting with God. It gives us insight into the heart of God, the principles and standards He operates by, His thoughts towards us and His promises which He is faithful and true to uphold. This morning, I was reminded that when I feel like I have no emotional connection to God, I still have direct access to Him through His word.

So, what now? What happens now that I’ve rediscovered the truth and simple answer to knowing God and maintaining my relationship with Him? Well, it’s simple, now I move from living out my Christianity as a chore to truly embracing all that God has to offer me through His word. Now, I read with purpose and I live in faith understanding that when God says he’ll never leave me nor forsake me, He means it. Now, I work on my relationship with God and not my christian religion. I’m going back to basics, seeking God’s truth daily through His word and living them out as much as possible every day.

I’ll be honest, a part of me wants to say that this is basic stuff and chastise myself for forgetting it, but I’m more inclined to indulge the part of me that’s grateful for my valley experience because it reminded me that my walk with God is not an emotional one. It’s not about feeling warm and fuzzy inside and being brought to tears every time I think about God. It’s about being sober minded, and living a principled life that’s pleasing to God. My Christianity is about having faith that God is with me always and trusting Him to be my guide even when I don’t “feel” like He’s close.

As I continue to seek God and walk in His ways I’m grateful for the reminder that I have access to Him always even when I “think” He isn’t there.

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Emotional Engine Failure

Screen-Shot-2012-01-08-at-1.45.22-AMTo say that I’m an emotional person might be the understatement of the year. I love emotions and I understand my emotions and my potential behaviour when I’m at any given point on the rollercoaster on which emotions lie. Some years ago I heard the term emotional intelligence for the first time and once I understood what it was I spent some time analysing and understanding my own emotions and the emotions of others around me. In my observations I’ve noticed how easy it is for us to make decisions made solely on how we feel in the moment and then regret those decisions once our emotions tide over. I’ve found that the most irrational decisions made are those that are strongly influenced by how we feel while on an emotional high.

Emotions can often times stand in the way of us accomplishing what God has planned for us. Think about Jonah. God gave Jonah an assignment to warn the people of Nineveh. His task should have been a simple one to complete – go to Nineveh and warn the people – but his emotions caused his journey to be much more tedious than it should have been. Even after he spent three days in the stomach of a whale and finally decided to do as God instructed Jonah was so caught up in his emotions that rather than celebrate the change in people who heeded God’s warning he instead became angry that they were no longer going to be destroyed.

Jonah 4 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angrySo he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”

jonah logoIn his anger, Jonah wished for death rather than life because he felt God should not have shown mercy to the people of Nineveh. In his anger he told God that his journey to the city was senseless because he knew from the beginning that God would spare the people. Jonah could not appreciate God’s graciousness and mercy because HE FELT the people of Nineveh didn’t deserve a second chance and should have been destroyed.

There was a time I had some information about a Christian leader that made me very upset with them. I was so angry that I distanced myself from that person because I couldn’t understand how they could live a double life and profess that they loved God. While in my angry state the Holy Spirit kept impressing on my heart the need to call that leader and encourage them. Of course in my “dignified anger” I never bothered to call but instead prayed for them and tried to move on with my life. In my mind whatever they were going through they deserved it and God was simply letting them reap the fruit of the seeds they were sewing. God never let up though, he never allowed me to feel comfortable until I picked up the phone and spoke to my leader. Imagine my surprise when the person on the other end of the phone confessed to being under spiritual attack and told me how they wished I had called sooner. I felt so foolish that day. I allowed my emotions to hinder what God was trying to do through me and rather than being a vessel yielding to God I tried to be a master handing down judgement.

How many times have we failed to celebrate the goodness of God towards those deemed lost or doomed because we felt they deserved destruction rather than mercy? How many of us allow our emotions to control our reaction to people and prevent us from living the life of unconditional love God expects us to live? How many of us wish death on people who do not live by the same choices we do and are yet to accept the Jesus we have come to know and love? How many times have we failed to show compassion to persons who aren’t Christians or persons who struggle openly with different areas in their lives although they’re Christians?

As humans we are not immune to emotions and becoming a Christian doesn’t mean we’ve automatically perfected the way our emotions affect us. As Christians we can however make a greater effort to avoid making irrational decisions when our emotions are in overdrive. Jonah is just one example of how someone’s emotions affected the work they were assigned by God in the bible. I’m sure if you did some honest introspection you’ll find ways that you would have dropped the ball on your assignments in the past because of how you felt. The thing is, as God pointed out to Jonah, we serve a God of grace and mercy. Our job is to simply be obedient to his instructions and commands regardless of how we feel. Moving beyond our emotions might be the difference between someone knowing and accepting Jesus as their saviour and that person’s soul being lost to the devil. It might be the difference between a person giving up on God and Christianity and someone continuing the race and sorting out their salvation. The thing is, we do serve a merciful and gracious God who uses us to accomplish his will, but to see his perfect will fulfilled we need to be humble and obedient and not let our own desires and emotions override what He wants from us.

I’m not saying becoming an emotionally intelligent Christian is going to be easy but I am saying it will be worth it!

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Daunting Existence -More than what’s required

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I have a sordid respect for death. I’m not fond of it and I never find myself doing cartwheels when it happens, but I respect death for what it is: an inevitable life event that is expected. I pine over the unexpected loss of young people and when someone very dear to me passes, but I tend to quickly come to terms with the reality of death’s existence during those times. Death, always brings with it thoughts about life – my life in particular – and what is being done with the little time I have on this earth.

This week my family was faced with the daunting reality of losing two persons. My aunt who was 61 died suddenly from a flesh eating bacteria last Saturday and my 19 year-old cousin (not her daughter) was shot and killed by a stray bullet on Monday night. Three days, two deaths and here I am thinking about life and how I wish never to exist.

Existence to me is dwelling in a space where my life revolves around my family, my home, my job, school at times and paying bills. Existing is working continuously while counting down for the weekend and doing only what is necessary to ensure I’m comfortable. Existing is being caught in a monotonous cycle of doing the same things on different days without realising that my life has no real impact on issues and people outside of my immediate circle. To me, existing means never stepping outside of my comfort zone or becoming involved in projects that would benefit others more than it benefits me. To exist is to live a selfish life only considering one’s own realities and never embracing the possibility of being more than what is required.

That’s not what I want for my life. I wish never to be caught in a daunting cycle of existence, instead my life should be lived. I should travel and gain many experiences away from home. I should do volunteer work and be motivated by factors other than wealth. I should give freely of the knowledge I have and seek to help people become better than I am and achieve more than I have. My life should involve encouraging others and loving people genuinely no matter the cost. My life should be lived!

Every time I think about Christ and the way He lived I marvel at the example He set by moving beyond existing and embracing a life well lived despite the consequences. I love how Jesus developed relationships and cared deeply for people even though he knew His time on earth was limited. I love how He gave all that He had to people whom he knew would turn against Him. It’s fascinating when Lazarus died he was able to connect to those who mourned and cry with them (John 11:1-16and when an adulterous woman was brought before Him how rather than condemning her, he defended her although he knew it would make her accusers angry (John 8:1-11). Or when the little children came to see Him and his disciples were about to turn them away how He made time for them (Matthew 19:13-15) and my favourite of all, how he gave people more than they expected when He was in their presence, as in the case of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10).

It’s not enough to simply exist and do only what is necessary for our existence. We should live and be impactful. Our lives should represent more than a mundane list of necessities where we never give more of our selves than required. We should use some of our free time to mentor and encourage younger people or to sit with the elderly. We should volunteer for community projects and give of our resources to those less fortunate. We should speak up for the oppressed and take time out to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. When we die we should have had a positive impact on the world surrounding us. We all have the potential to do more than what is required, we can each be selfless with our time, and love, and most importantly, our God. Christ’s example was to do more than necessary to positively affect those who came into contact with Him; we should follow His lead. I respect death and when it is time for me to face it I pray that I would not have simply existed but I would have lived and made a positive impact on the world around me.

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Repentance: A Little Man’s Perspective

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I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Zacchaeus. I’m amazed that so many lessons can be learned from 10 bible verses which tell the story of an inquisitive man’s encounter with Christ.

Today I’d like to discuss Zacchaeus’ response to Christ, how his encounter caused a change in his character and God’s ability to exceed our expectations of Him.

The first thing to note in this story is that Zacchaeus had no intention of MEETING Jesus when he climbed in that tree. In verse 3 of Luke 19 it says that

“he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature.”

Put frankly Zacchaeus simply wanted to put a face to the name of a man everyone was talking about, but because he was short and the crowd was thick he had to take what could be deemed as extreme measures to accomplish his goal. When he climbed into that tree on the day that  Jesus was passing he was not expecting to have an encounter with God. He really just thought he had figured out a way to overcome the problem he faced: being too short to see.

That day however, Zacchaeus got more than he bargained for and his encounter with Christ made Him a better man. In the account of this story, the bible tells us that Jesus stood under the tree and acknowledged Zacchaeus by name and then proceeded to go to his home to share a meal with him. Can you imagine Zacchaeus’ surprise when Christ decided to meet with him, a dishonest man, who was hated by many?

The exhilarating part of this story for me is how Zacchaeus responded to being in Christ’s presence. Verse 8 of Luke chapter 19 says

Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”

What we see is that while in God’s presence Zacchaeus not only acknowledged his wrong doings but he also made decisions to do what was necessary to reimburse those persons whom he stole from. Zacchaeus’ response to Christ has within it a clear model of what repentance looks like. Repentance is the acknowledgement of your sin and a decision to no longer do that thing which displeases God. It requires us to confess to God that we were wrong and sometimes it means doing what is necessary to undo some of the hurt we caused through our ungodly actions. Zacchaeus also teaches us that Godly encounters – through prayer, worship, the word of God, prophesies, dreams, visions, etc. – help us to change those things which are displeasing to God while building our character.

In addition to Zacchaeus’ response in this story I can’t help but admire and appreciate God’s ability to meet us at the point of our needs – even when we don’t realise how badly we need Him – and to exceed every possible expectation we have of Him at the same time.

I remember once I prayed and asked God for a new job because I felt stagnant in the one I had at the moment. Mere weeks after talking to God about it I got an answer to my prayer in the most unexpected way. God did not give me a new job. Instead, he allowed the managing director of the company I worked for to see my potential for a position I was not qualified for and because of that, I was transferred to another department and promoted. The ironic thing is, I wasn’t only unqualified but I was the youngest and most recent addition to the staff. Most of my colleagues could not understand the decision made by my manager but I knew it was God’s way of exceeding my expectations of him. Needless to say I went on to be very successful at that job and before I resigned I was responsible for spearheading major developmental projects for the company.

I guess what I’m getting at ideally, is the fact that it is possible to encounter God and see a change in our lives and circumstances because of that encounter. It is possible to experience the power of God to influence change in us and to see ourselves move from a place of sin to a place of repentance and restoration in Christ. Like Zacchaeus, we may not be expecting a life changing encounter with God but once we have a desire or an expectation of Him, He can meet and exceed all that we desire.

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Guard Your Heart!

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Keep your heart with all diligence!

From the moment I got saved I’ve been obsessed with the heart. I continuously think about what it means to have a clean and pure heart and I’m always trying to find ways to ensure that my heart is protected from festering filth. My understanding that God searches the heart of men has increased my awareness of my own heart and instilled in me a genuine desire to keep the source of my actions as pure as possible.

With that being said, you’d understand why I appreciate the advise given in Proverbs 4:23

 Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

I have not begun to unravel the depths and mysteries of this verse but I suspect God will continue to reveal it’s true meaning to me over time. For now though, I’d like to share some ways I’ve learned to keep my heart guarded when dealing with painful or disappointing situations.

The more I interact with people who disappoint me is the more I realise that their actions not only affect my mood and my view of them, but it affects my heart. The more upset I become when I’m hurt by the words or actions of others is the easier it is to infect my heart. In fact if I were to be blatantly honest with myself, I’d admit that when I’m not careful, I allow things to fester unnecessarily, causing an ugly bitterness to develop that wasn’t there before and then I have to take deliberate measures to get back to a place where I can genuinely love that person again.

The danger I’ve found in my own behaviour is my ability to tell myself that I’ve let things go and believe those words without truly examining the truth of my statement. In the past I’d simply say to myself that I’m fine and never go through the process of feeling hurt and angry and then finding practical ways to forgive and move on. Recently though, I’ve found that praying for people whom I feel have wronged me and blessing God for creating them has helped me to keep my heart pure. When I acknowledge that the person who’s done me wrong is also a child of God, whom he loves and cares for then my perspective shifts. I begin to honour God for who they are to Him, and for what He is doing in their lives and so I shift my thinking. That prayer impacts my heart and helps me to forgive and love people in spite of our misunderstandings and disagreements.

Another way I’ve learned to keep my heart is by being deliberate in having meaningful conversation with them even while I’m hurting. This one is a bit tough to do at first but once I let go of my ego and start speaking I find it becomes easier to carry the conversation forward. The key, I believe, to being successful in this, is to remember that our lives should please God. That having this conversation is not about me feeling good or better, but it’s about honouring God and being a good example so His name would be glorified. Most times I find that having a lighter conversation that isn’t directly related to the problem I’m facing with the person helps with my frame of mind and makes it easier to raise the issue I’m having in a way that facilitates healing conversations. This also helps in changing my perception of people in my mind. Once my mind is changed, then my actions change and my heart is void of all malice against that person.

Photo Credit: http://www.essentialparenting.com/2014/12/10/3-ways-the-heart-becomes-hardened/

Sometimes though, in spite of having these methods I still find myself holding on to negative words and situations much longer than I intend to.  I sometimes refuse to forgive others because I feel a justified sense of satisfaction when I can look at them and say they’ve done me wrong and highlight the flaws of their character. Sometimes when I think about some people I still only see the wrong they did to me, I still get annoyed or hurt when I think of words they said or things they did to me and I’m still not open to genuinely connecting with those people  on any level – all because I choose not to be honest about the negative feelings I’m harbouring against them in my heart.

Recently though, I’ve started examining my flaws and I’ve begun to truly appreciate that we all have things in us that God is working on. I’m not perfect by any stretch and if God can forgive me for the many times I’ve messed up and the many times I’m going to mess up, then I can forgive people that have done wrong against me. Holding a grudge feeds a desire to be right and righteous, but the bible uses the analogy that our righteousness are like filthy rags before God.

I’ve come to realise that one of the main keys to keeping my heart in diligence is to always aim to please God. Not just in my ways but in my thoughts as well. A heart that is set on pleasing God will remain guarded and will not be easily affected by the poison of this world. I know that there is a lot more to be understood and applied from Proverbs 4:23 but this is what I have to offer on the subject for now.

What other insights did you get from this verse?

 

 

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Faith: Believing God Despite The Odds

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If God says something will happen, our faith is not in waiting to see if that thing happens, but in believing it will happen despite our circumstances.

I’ve been musing over Romans 4 and it’s account of how Abraham’s belief in what God told him was accounted to him for righteousness. I know, that’s a lot of Biblical Jargon there but what it simply means is that Abraham wasn’t considered a righteous man because he did what God instructed him to do, neither was it because of the end result of his interactions with God. He was considered a righteous man because he believed God.

Romans 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

When God told Abraham that he and his wife would have a son and from that son Abraham would become the father of many nations he didn’t question the logistics behind that promise. Let’s be real, here’s God telling a 75 year old man that he and his 90 year-old wife would have a child. And if that wasn’t enough the child didn’t come immediately but instead he waited a further 25 years before he saw the fulfilment of that promise.

There are a lot of lessons which can be learned when you study the book of Genesis and Abraham’s interaction with God while he waited for God’s word to be fulfilled. However, I’d like to focus on the fact that God is true to His word. When he makes a promise to us he is faithful to keep it. What I find interesting though is how easy it is to disregard or question God’s promises when they don’t happen in the way or the time frame within which we desire.

As I evaluate my own life I see areas where I would have doubted God and the promises He’s made to me. So many times – especially when I felt down – I questioned whether the things God has spoken to me and has prophesied over my life were ever going to happen. I thought about the many promises in the bible that I once held dear to my heart but chose to stop hoping in because I didn’t see the evidence of them in my life presently.

Today, as I mediated on Romans 4 I felt a renewal of hope in the reminder that our faith is simply believing that God will do what he said he would do. Faith is believing that Christ will finish the work He’s started in me despite my current situation. Faith is believing the I am more than a conquerer in Christ on even on my worst days. Faith is believing that God will provide my every need once I seek Him first even when the bills are piling up and my bank account is running low.

The reality is that faith and righteousness go hand-in-hand. Whatever God has said He will do in your life believe that He will do it. Don’t let your circumstances influence your faith. If God can fulfil his promise of a child to a 100 year-old man and his 115 year-old wife, he is more than capable of doing what he said he would in your life.

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Encouragement From The Cross

John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Today I was reminded of the foundation on which my Christianity is formed. I am saved because God loved me enough to send the only son he has into the world to die on a cross and shed His blood for me. The thing is, He sent His son knowing that I would not accept Him right away and I would reject this perfect gift he was offering me. I believe in the story of the cross and in the saving blood of Jesus Christ, and that, is the foundation of my faith.

I think saying that I forgot the principle of the cross would be a bit draconian, but I can say that I needed a reminder of it today. When I first understood the love God showed me it changed my life. Everything I thought was important went out the door; career, marriage, friends, everything paled in comparison to my new desire for more of this amazing being.

As my desire grew and my passion became stronger, the enemy of my soul stepped in and life became a battle. The war between my flesh and my spirit was all too real and the weight of that battle took it’s toll on me. I started losing things, and I was stripped of every right I thought I had and for someone as liberal as me, that change was hard.

The darts came hard and fast and the closer I get to my purpose being fulfilled the harder this Christian walk seemed to get. Then, just as I was at breaking point, God reminded me of His love for me. He reminded me that I’m reconciled to Him and I’m His child. I was reminded that He loved me before I loved Him and gave up his most prized possession to secure a place in eternity for me.

Once, I spoke to a group of youths and I was told them that if you believe something then you should act in accordance with that belief. If I believed I had a million dollars in the bank then I’d go shopping and start swiping my debit card, expecting the machine to say “accepted” every time. In the same way, if I truly believe in God and the love He has for me then I’ll live my life following His word and expecting to have victory over the enemy time and time again.

I don’t believe that things will get easier. I believe that Satan will continue to fight me, that my flesh will continue to war against my spirit and the challenges will get bigger as I grow stronger in Christ. I also believe that the God I serve is greater than any challenge I will face in life. I believe that through Christ I can do ALL things and I hold firm to God’s promise that I will never be given more than I can bear. I believe and hold strongly to Mark 16:16-19

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

All of these promises are available, not only to me, but to anyone who believes in Jesus Christ; that he came to earth in the form of a man, died on the cross for our sins and rose again on the third day. I am who I am and I am where I’m at today only because Christ died on a cross to save me. That salvation is available to you too and whether you’re only now finding out about the cross or you’ve known about it for a long time, I think it’s good to have a reminder that someone loved you enough to die on a cross so you can have a wonderful eternity wrapped in God’s arms.

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Great Expectations

SunriseThis morning I was reminded that there are great expectations from those who called to carry out the great commission, as I sat enjoying a warm cup of tea as I prepared myself mentally for the day ahead. While I sipped, I pondered on my rebelliousness toward God’s direction for a spirit led life over the last week or so and couldn’t help but frown at the foolishness of my ways.

Let me back up a bit so I don’t leave you lost in the transition of my mind’s rambling without adequate content and context with which you can refer to. Last week I decided that people expect too much from me. I’ve never hidden my Christianity nor have I tried to hide my passion for God and the things of God. In fact I’ve done quite the opposite; I’ve taken every chance I got to let people around me know that I serve Jesus and how much I’m in love with Him. I invite others to share in this wonderful experience of salvation and encourage them to look to Jesus as the author and finisher of their faith. This wasn’t a problem until I came to the realization that I’ve put myself in the spotlight and there’s a target aimed directly at my head. You see, in a world where religion and God has somehow become the oppressive enemy of the human race when you decide to openly express your belief in God and practice the teachings of His doctrine people tend to look at you.

If everyone who looked on had good intentions or did so with the understanding that you’d slip up sometimes that would be great or at least considered fair. If somehow people could see that amid all the passion and excitement, you; just like anyone else, was figuring this whole “God thing” out and don’t quite have all the answers or solutions to every situation you encounter, then maybe your walk with Christ might feel a lot less burdensome at times. This however isn’t always the case. It seems that the greater your passion and excitement for God, the more likely you are to draw attention to yourself. What that attention does is cause people to assume you’re always going to have a firm grip on things or cause to wait with bated breath for the moment you slip up.

For me I can’t say that I know of anyone who is waiting for me to slip up but people around me tend to think that I’m supposed to somehow have the right answers and make the right decisions all the time. I’m constantly reminded that I’m a role model and others are looking at me. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not upset or bothered that I’m considered a role model; on the contrary, I think it’s a fantastic thing that my passion fuels others to draw closer to God, but last week the expectations of others felt like such a burden that I decided to change the rules a bit. I deliberately made bad decisions. I found myself in situations where I sat down and thought through the possible choices I could make and how they would affect my relationship with God and I chose to do the wrong thing. It wasn’t an accident or a spur of the moment thing.

I CONSCIOUSLY MADE BAD CHOICES!

In hindsight, I feel so ashamed and broken that I spent time with the Savior, got to know Him intimately and then dipped my hand in the bread basket at the same time he did, only to betray him later on with a metaphorical kiss of death. Like Judas I chose to go against the God that loved me and have been so gracious and loving to me. I willingly persecuted Him to avoid living up to the reality that as a child of God who is called to the great commission I was expected to live a righteous and holy life unto my King.

So that’s where I was a couple weeks ago. I was dipping my toes at the edge of sin’s ocean, all the while wondering how deep I could go before I would begin to drown. Thankfully I serve a God who’s ways are not like mine and who loves me much more than I could ever love Him. Just as I began to think about moving past my toes and actually getting my feet wet, his guiding arms skillfully wrapped themselves around my torso and carried me to safety. My rebelliousness lasted all of two days before I started getting “the messages”. We’ve all experienced “the messages”. It’s when God gets your attention by sending you the same message everywhere you turn; facebook, twitter, the radio, conversations at work, etc. You know what I mean right?

So, God got my attention and he began to show me my heart. I cried bitterly when the reality of my thoughts and actions were revealed to me. When I realized how subtly I began my descent from Christianity into things worldly. Who would have thought that me; a passionate woman of God with a call upon her life who have experienced the awesomeness of God’s power time and time again, could be so easily fooled by the enemy? And just like that, I snapped back to reality, climbed off of the pedestal I’d mounted and decided to start over, recommitting my life and surrendering all over  again to  the one who shed His blood for my salvation.

So that’s where I was this morning; taking part in an ongoing pity party, when God reminded me:

” to whom much is given, much is expected”

You see, when we come to Christ we get to take advantage of all the wonderful things He has for us. We are recipients of Grace, Love, Peace, Joy, Strength, Comfort, Various Gifts and so much more. If we are to be partakers of all this then we must embrace God’s command that we live holy and acceptable lives unto Him. It’s not right to abuse grace or consciously go against God’s word because we have mercy and forgiveness available to us. In as much as we expect God to honor His word and promises to us, so to we must live out His commandments and be the difference in the world today, so that His name would be glorified.

I know that no one is perfect. That we all make mistakes and slip up sometimes but in as much as we can, I believe we should always choose to please God. We should let nothing get in the way of our relationship with Him and more than ever we should let our light shine before men so that His name would be glorified in heaven. We are the salt of the earth and to lose our flavor means to lose our effectiveness. I can’t say it would be easy (actually I can guarantee you that it will get hard sometimes) but I can assure you it will be worth it. Keep the faith, fight the good fight and at the end of the race I pray that we all hear

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant”

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Divine Appointments

Read Matthew 5:4

Jesus tells his disciples that those who mourn will be comforted.

There is something good waiting beyond disappointment for each of us. There are appointments that God has destined. There are good works for each of us to do. And isn’t it interesting that the word appointment comes from within the word disappointment?

I’ve often marveled at that because I’ve seen again and again how disappointments take something from us: a dream, a piece of our hearts—maybe whole chucks of it. But disappointment leaves something too: a gift, an opportunity, the possibility of creating change. This means we can move from the valley of the shadow of death to new horizons and bring others with us on that road.

The enemy would like us to feel such a depth of disappointment that we never find our way back to the plan God has for us. If he can convince us to stay stuck in our disappointment, we’ll miss many of our future God appointments. I realize that some disappointments seem so big that we can’t imagine ever being able to move beyond them. We ask deep questions and they go unanswered. For example, when someone dear to us dies, no explanation will satisfy the questions crying out inside. But even for these tragedies, God has made a way.

When a precious couple named Maria and Dimitri lost their fourteen-year-old-son, Peter, they had many unanswered questions. They struggled mightily but they didn’t try to answer them. Instead, they determined to walk down that road of disappointment and heartbreak with Jesus. On the day of Peter’s funeral, still burdened with pain, sorrow, and grief, their family made a decision. Even though they did not understand why this tragedy had occurred, they would continue to trust God. They would keep on believing his promises.

They proclaimed at the funeral: Today is a sad day, but it is not a bad day. The devil thinks he has the victory because our son has died. But our son is alive with his Jesus, and is partying in heaven. The devil has not won. We are not burying our child today, but we are sowing him as seed into the soil of this nation. We believe in a mighty harvest of young people to spring forth. Out of one death, there shall arise new life.

Their words said, this family bruised by grief but beautiful with belief stood silently. There is a road through disappointment. Disappointment is not an end but an opportunity for a divine appointment.

Point to Ponder

One disappointment, or even more than one, does not mean that all the good works God ordained for you long before you were born are now impossible. There are still many ahead of you, beyond the disappointment. You can choose to allow God to propel you into the next chapter of good works God has destined for you.

Source: Devotions by Christine Caine via BibleGateway

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You Said What?!

This tongue of mine seems to be the hardest thing to tame. Not for lack of trying though. I must admit that I’ve seen some improvement in the tongue-taming department but I realize there’s still some work to be done.

I’ve been wondering about words used via instant messaging (IM) and social media (SM). Is it that you blame the tongue for words sent these medium? Continue reading

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