Category Archives: Testimony

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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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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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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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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Favor: When God Protects Your Purpose

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Genesis 20:7  Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”

For as long as I could remember I always prayed that God’s favor would be upon me. My understanding of that prayer was having God act on my behalf once I keep my life right and do things in accordance to His will at all times. As I typed that line the realization of my misunderstanding of who God is was enlarged because I know the God I serve doesn’t require his people to work to receive His blessings. God’s blessings were upon me before I knew Him and accepted Him as Lord and Savior and it will continue to be upon me now that I have. God loves me and will bless me in spite of, even when I get it wrong along the way and because I have favor with Him He will ensure that my purpose will be fulfilled. This was exactly the case with Abraham and Sarah when they entered Gerar.

Earlier in Genesis the bible tells how God made a covenant with Abraham and promised him a lot of things as it pertained to his life and his destiny. For some reason however, whenever Abraham came to a new land he didn’t exercise faith in the covenant he had with God but acted on the fear of losing his life. On entry into Gerar Abraham asked Sarah; his wife, to tell King Abimilech that she was his sister. Abraham feared his life would be taken because of Sarah’s beauty, and also because he didn’t believe the fear of God was before the people of Gerar. When king Abimilech heard that Sarah was Abraham’s sister he, as expected took her into his home as his own. What neither parties were privy to was how this act would upset God and the way he would intervene to restore His will for Abraham and Sarah.

Abraham’s fear of death and lack of faith caused him to offer his wife to another man, forsaking the promise God gave to him that Sarah would bear him a child. This was the point where God intervened and protected the covenant made between Him and Abraham. In Verse Seven of Genesis 20 God gave a command to Abimilech the king of Gerar; “restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet” . Talk about divine intervention!

The favor which Abraham found with God was so great that even when Abraham made a bad decision God still protected the covenant. When fear influenced the decision making process and caused Abraham to forget the will of God for his life and trust in it, God intervened and set things back on course. God protected Abraham’s purpose.

Recently I had a lot of questions and anxieties regarding my purpose. I wanted so many answers and I wondered whether those things God said to me will come to pass. I felt discouraged by things happening around me and at one point  I wanted to give up on God altogether, but this morning I thank God that He is in control of my purpose. I’m thankful that He will protect my purpose in spite of what influences my decisions just as he did with Abraham. I’m thankful that although He’s made me aware of what he has in store for me, he never allowed me to take control of it.

Liken your life to a road trip where God is the driver and you’re in the passenger seat. You’ve never been on this particular trip before so everything is new. What God does, is he shows you where you’re going; he tells you the end result before hand. Then he gives you insights along the way; just like a tour guide would. These insights peak your interest and adds to your comfort in new surroundings along the way. Sometimes he tells you what’s coming up ahead to prepare you for it, so you won’t be caught off guard and he might even pick some folks up along the way to make it interesting. The remarkable thing about this journey is, while you’re given the full experience of the journey, he never lets go of the wheel. Even when you might doze off along the way, the vehicle keeps moving and He still maintains control. The funny thing is there might be times the vehicle stops to refuel or change a tyre and for routine services. Those are the times when we can become confused and panic because we want to fix things as quickly as possible to continue the journey and we may try to interfere with the down time process. In those times however is when the driver expects us to trust his judgement. He wants us to trust that when we stop it’s for a reason and once things are sorted out we’ll all get back in the car and continue along the way.

That’s what happened with Abraham. Abraham ignored the driver’s judgement and focused on the road or situation but God in His wisdom never let go of the wheel. It was because of that Abraham’s purpose was fulfilled in accordance to God’s plans.

Just as God protected Abraham’s purpose, he will protect ours. Our bad decisions along the way and abilities to falter sometimes in no way equates to loss of purpose in Christ or lack of favor from Him. The key is to continue on the journey and as much as possible trust the one who is in control. He did it before and he can do it again. Purpose isn’t lost unless God says it is!

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Lessons On Love: Patient Love Takes Practice

Love is Patient

1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is Patient…………….

Remember the last blog I posted where I decided to take up the challenge of choosing to love people in spite of? Nearing the end of that post I wrote “This is going to be one of those challenges where I’m only going to understand it entails after I’ve begun but I’m not going to let that deter me” Talk about hitting the nail on the head! I’ve learned so many lessons in love these past weeks it’s a bit mind blowing.

Reflecting on my experiences, I realize that the messages in the lessons I’ve learned aren’t entirely new to me, the actuality of living through them has given me a greater appreciation for their meanings. Having to put action to advice I’ve given to many people has proved to be a painful task but one which I embraced and appreciated.

I recently got into a relationship ~ yay me 🙂 ~and as expected I was completely lost in the feeling of loving and falling in love. You know what I’m talking about right? That feeling you feel at the beginning of a new relationship, where everything (even the mini fights) make you smile and everything is somehow cute, gorgeous or awesome? Well that’s where I was; I was enjoying the start of my new relationship (enjoying it even now) and not taking note of any tell tale signs along the way which should have indicated that I was getting into some trouble.

Let me add a bit of background here so I don’t confuse you later down in this post.

When I gave my life to Christ one of first and hardest decisions I had to make was to leave a relationship I was in for three years. I was madly in love with my boyfriend at the time and we had plans to get married, have kids and do all the wonderful things married couples do. The problem I faced at that time was being in a relationship which was extremely intimate was getting in the way of my life of worship unto God. My boyfriend and I tried to continue our relationship without having sex but that was impossible, especially because I was a Christian and he was an Atheist (yes I fell in love with an atheist). He couldn’t comprehend my love for God and desire to please Him and I couldn’t come to terms with his inability to believe in God. Our breakup was such that we both agreed to go our separate ways, remain friends while understanding the love we had for each other but respecting the boundaries set. When I left that relationship I left all things sexual behind me. I took a radical stance to keep my temple holy and acceptable before God and I never looked back.

Now that we have the history of my celibacy down I can continue with the point I was making.

Before I got into the relationship I’m currently in it was very easy for me to honor the decision I made to keep my temple pure, holy and acceptable before God. I had my blinders on for about a year or so and I wasn’t allowing anyone into my space. I’ll admit, I did entertain some random conversations during that time but there wasn’t any serious interactions or commitment to be had. During that period I managed to convince myself that I had overcome having sexual desires outside of marriage and I would never struggle in that area ever again. Boy was I wrong! The wave of emotions I felt once I started spending more time with my boyfriend was enough to cause a catastrophic turn of events in my life if not for God’s grace.

Imagine me; a woman who turned her back on all things sexual for the love of her God having to face the reality that her body knew what sex was and having to make a conscious decision on a regular basis not to give in to temptation; mental or otherwise. When the realization hit me I immediately went into panic mode. I bought a promise ring, I gave him “the speech”, I started researching ways to maintain my purity while in a relationship as well as other crazy things. I did everything possible except talk to God. For some reason I didn’t take the emotions that were overwhelming me at the time to the God that I love and trust. Isn’t it amazing how the first step we should take in any situation is somehow the last one taken after we’ve tried everything else that fails? For some reason that escapes me I thought I needed to deal with this on my own. I thought I had to figure out a way to fight my emotions and somehow get rid of them, when all the while what I really needed to do was lay my cares upon God and let Him be my guide. Thankfully in my foolishness God still kept me and I didn’t succumb to temptation ( and I really do me THANK GOD, because he knows it was a hard fight).

Reflecting on my experiences I know that I would not have had to battle so terribly from the beginning if I had asked God to take control. You see, when I realized I was sinking and it was becoming harder to overcome the tide of emotions within me, it was only then that I went to my Father and asked Him for His wisdom to continue pleasing Him especially in my relationship. Only then was I able to listen to his voice as he reminded me of the patience of love.

Patient love; as it relates to intimacy in relationships, isn’t about waiting on the other person to be ready for the next move, it’s about loving each other enough to wait until marriage to enjoy each other intimately. Being in a Christian relationship isn’t supposed to void you of being sexually attracted to your partner, it’s supposed to strengthen your relationship with God and teach you self control, self respect and the meaning of true love. Loving someone enough to wait until marriage, especially when you already know what sex feels like, is a true test of patience. Wanting to share passionate kisses and tight hugs with your intended husband or wife but choosing not to, because of the relationship you have with God is a choice you have to make. Making that choice isn’t always going to be easy but at the end of it all you have to decide if one moment of lustful pleasure is worth disappointing your heavenly Father and forsaking the blessings he has in store for you.For every time I’ve had to deny flesh and not give in to sensual feelings I felt a slight pain but I rejoice a little more with each right decision made because continual denial gets me closer to God and a blessing is added to my relationship.

I can’t say that it’s always going to be smooth sailing, but I can declare that I will not give in! If I truly love this man as much as I think and if he truly loves me as much as he says, we won’t lead each other to sin. Along with our desire to kill flesh and the various decisions we’ve made such as “not liming in the car alone, not hanging out in lonely areas, choosing to socialize in places where there are lots of people and as much as possible go out in groups” we have decided to put the patience of love into practice.

People always say that True Love Waits. I’m testing that theory and I look forward to writing a blog the night before my wedding testifying of the truth of that statement in my life. Keep me in your prayers and where ever possible remember to put into practice the principles of love as outlined in 1 Corinthians 13:4

 

 

 

 

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Praying Amiss; When you don’t realize God’s already answered you

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Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Can you imagine receiving a brand new Ferrari as a gift, driving that new Ferrari and enjoying the perks of it without knowing that you are in fact driving a Ferrari? Furthermore imagine constantly begging the person who got you the Ferrari to upgrade you to a Ferrari although they’ve given it to you already?

That sounds preposterous and farfetched right?

For me the idea is not as farfetched as it seems. Recently I found myself in the position of the Ferrari driver with God being the bearer of my gift. All because I kept asking God for something without taking the time to find out what it was.

I was recently crying out to God for the gift of discernment. Diligently seeking His face and crying before His throne day and night “Oh God increase in me your spirit of discernment.” After praying that prayer for quite some time and not getting the response I desired, I decided to fast about it. I figured it was time to kill flesh and strengthen my spirit man as an act of sacrifice and surrender to turn God’s heart and ear toward me. I fasted for two days and still didn’t receive the answer I wanted from God.

I was heart-broken.

Why wasn’t God answering me? What had I done to deserve this silence from Him? Am I no longer in His presence? These were some of the questions plaguing my mind as I tried to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t hearing from God regarding this new desire on my heart.

As God would ordain it, a few days after my fast I sat with a friend and I began to share with Him my desire to see God increase His gifting in me and my desire for the gift of discernment. As we chatted my friend went into details of what the gift of discernment is and how it works. As I sat drinking in this new information, I was guilt ridden and ashamed when I realized how foolish I had been. It took everything in me to prevent my jaw from dropping when I realized I was asking God for a gift he already gave me and I already used.

I was in awe. In my quest for righteousness I didn’t take the time to research God’s word and understand what I was asking God for. I listened to ministers and other believers speak about the importance of the gift of discernment. I took their brief insight of the gift and presented it to God and waited on an answer.

I took the lazy way out and suffered tremendously for it. Instead of thanking God for what He was doing in my life and learning to appreciate, use and develop my gift I was before the throne of grace petitioning God for something I already had.

As I reflect on this experience I can’t help but wonder how many other things I prayed for or about and got an answer from God without realizing it.

2 Timothy 2:15 instructs us to study to show ourselves approved…… an area I can now admit to falling short in. Thankfully God uses our mistakes and missteps as an instructive tool in correcting our ways and drawing us closer to Him. I’m thankful that I was able to see the foolishness of my ways because it’s taught me a valuable lesson in knowing and understanding what I’m praying for so that my prayers won’t be amiss.

 

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Can we really trust God?

cake

Romans 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

A daughter was telling her mother how everything was going wrong. “I am failing Algebra. My boyfriend just broke up with me, and my best friend is moving away,” she wailed. Her mom listened patiently, and then asked, “I made a cake for dinner. Would you like a snack?” The girl grinned and said, “Sure, Mom. I love your cake.” The mom smiled and asked, “How about some cooking oil?” The daughter looked surprised at the offer and responded with a loud “Yuk!” The mom tried again, “How about a couple of raw eggs?” With a look of confusion, the daughter said, “Gross, Mom!” With a smile, the mother offered, “Would you like some flour or maybe a cup of baking soda?” The daughter responded, “Mom, all of those things are gross!” The mother cut a piece of cake and placed it on a plate with a fork. As she handed the delicious snack to her daughter, she explained, “Honey, all of those things seem bad when you think about eating them alone, but when they are put together in the right way, they make a delicious cake.”

God often works the same way. We sometimes wonder why He allows us to go through such difficult times, but when God puts those hard times together as only He can, they work out for our good. We just have to trust Him to do so.

I will never forget the day I learned how God really can turn tragedy into triumph.

I was sitting at my desk, working on an assignment from the counselor I had been seeing. For months, I had been wrestling with my past – slowly, methodically working through painful issues and buried memories that seemed to be feeding the clinical depression I was battling. As page after page filled with harsh realities, a memory slammed into my heart and mind.

The pain was overwhelming as a vile scene from my childhood slowly took shape. I could hardly breathe as I frantically tried to escape the certainty that I had been molested. The perpetrator had been our family doctor and a trusted friend. He had even provided free medical treatment when we couldn’t pay for it. I trusted him, counted on him. As a nurse, my mother worked beside this man every day and often babysat his children to earn extra money.

Anger unlike any I had ever known fueled violent thoughts of revenge and retaliation. I was angry with this man – and angry with God. How could He have let this happen? Where was the light in this dark place?

For months, I worked through painful memories and raging emotions until I saw the first glimmer of light. It was wrapped in chosen forgiveness. I began to see that if I had never been wounded so badly, I would never have been able to forgive so freely – and in doing so, discover a depth of healing and freedom only the greatest pain can produce. Today, I can honestly thank God for all He has accomplished in me through the sin of that man.

There are no accidents with God, nor is He surprised by anything or anyone in the life of His child. God uses even the most horrendous circumstances for our good. Every circumstance comes to us for a purpose, bound by God’s love and plan, and faithfully delivered with His permission. While we cannot go back and change our past, we can change the way we respond to our past, and determine how much power it has in our lives today.

Only God can take the broken pieces of your life and make something beautiful out of each one. He is waiting for you to let go of your pain and trust Him. And you really can. No one loves you like He does. You may not always understand or even like His process, but you can always trust His heart of love for you.

* Written by Mary Southerland – www.girlfriendsingod.com

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Self Inflicted Torment

forgive__and_forget

Matthew 18:23-35

Did you know that you can bring torment upon yourself?

Examine the scripture above giving close consideration to the last verse. Christ said “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have said “I forgive” not realizing that the words were empty because I didn’t release the person in my heart. Christ doesn’t simply give the instruction for us to forgive our brothers, but he makes reference of where that forgiveness must come from: the heart.

I recently came to the realization of my shortcoming when I tried to rekindle a friendship that went sour, due to past disagreements. No matter how hard I tried and willed myself to rebuild my friendship I always managed to run into the proverbial brick wall that brought an overwhelming amount of hurt and resentment to the forefront of my emotions.

When I first started going to the church I currently attend, I was befriended by a young woman who could have well been my friend from childhood. We hit it off instantly! We both have fun, bubbly personalities, we have many similarities in different areas, we’re both in ministry together and our love for God is second to none. I was happy. Unfortunately as time went on we had some disagreements. Of course, being the good “Christians” that we were, we sat down, had a short talk about the issues and “forgave” each other, promising to work on re-establishing our friendship.

Looking back now, I realize what I did was portray an attitude of forgiveness through my words and actions but I never released my friend from my heart. I don’t have to tell you that our friendship didn’t survive much longer. Communication between us broke down, I stopped visiting her home, we never went anywhere together anymore and having to say hello at church became a task I dreaded. I remember looking at my friend and feeling miserable at times because I wanted our friendship to return to the way it was but I couldn’t fathom a way to change the situation between us.

Thankfully God was looking at the situation and saw our hearts. Through Godly counsel and guidance my friend and I decided to give the friendship another whirl and see how things would work out. During that time the revelation of the scripture above came to life for me and God began to show me what I was doing wrong.

Although I SAID to my friend “I forgive you”, I didn’t forget or let go of what she did to hurt me. In my heart I held on to everything that caused me pain and I would reference those things and use them as a red flag to stop me from getting close to her. In Verse 27 of the above scripture we see that the King forgave the servant his debt. This meant the servant would no longer have to pay what was owed. Not because the king “forgot” about the debt in a literal sense, but because he was no longer going to make reference to or remind the servant of what was borrowed and once owed.

Eureka! I needed to let go of my hurt to the point that I could stop making reference to it; in order to free my heart from the burden of it was carrying.

As you read through the scripture above that the servant whom the king pardoned brought torment upon his self when he refused to forgive someone who owed him a debt. Although the first servant was forgiven initially, his unwillingness to forgive his servant caused him to be released unto His tormenters until his former debt was completely repaid.

This is where you and I come in; in the final verse of Matthew 18 Christ said

“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, FROM HIS HEART, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

That, my friend, is a sobering statement! If you and I don’t learn to forgive those who have wronged us from our hearts we will inflict torment upon ourselves.

God doesn’t require lip service from us; he looks at our hearts to know our true intentions. He knows that we are capable of “acting right” with impurity in our hearts and that is why He examines our hearts and not our actions.

For our own sakes I suggest that we take the time, ever so often and examine the condition of our hearts. Our next breakthrough could be dependent on how quickly we are willing to truly forgive that person or those persons who would have hurt or wronged us. With all the challenges we already face in our daily lives does it make sense adding more turmoil to the mix because of a disagreement or misunderstanding?

I think not.

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