Tag Archives: Religion

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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Seeking The Lost – Christine Caine

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Ezekiel 34:16  “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.”

It is so natural, after being rescued, to simply go back to your life, to business-as-usual. After a harrowing experience, you’re yearning for normalcy. You want to—and sometimes do—forget that hopeless, horrifying moment of being forgotten in darkness. Going back there to warn others is hard work—and trying to rescue others in those perilous places sounds risky. It’s true—many of us fear the lost, and because of that, we’re reluctant to go out into the world to seek them.

Why would we fear the lost? Maybe because, often, they’re so needy and desperate. We’re afraid that they will attach themselves to us, leech-like, and beg for one thing after another: our time, our money, our emotional support, a place in our homes (“just until I get back on my feet”), a ride to work—and on and on.

Or we might fear them because they are so “other” than us. A different lifestyle and different life choices. They may have different language and clothing styles, different food and music preferences, and a different sense of humor. Will they accept us? Will they laugh at us behind our backs? Will they despise us even as we sacrifice for them? Are they, perhaps, even a danger to us? Might they be willing to take by force those things we don’t offer freely? Will we feel uncomfortable, uneasy, in their midst?

When Jesus urged Peter to feed his sheep, he didn’t offer a list of excuses he would accept. “Feed my sheep—unless it becomes inconvenient or the sheep become too demanding. Feed my sheep—unless you’re afraid of the big ram who protects the flock. Feed my sheep—unless you’re afraid they’ll charge you, snatch the food out of your hand, and trample you.” He just asked Peter to feed his sheep.

For the desperate, the hungry, the oppressed, for those in pain, no rescue can come soon enough. And when the lost call to us for rescue, God doesn’t command us to be supermen. He commands us to be willing. He’ll do the rest.

There are so many who have no way out, unless we rescue them. The words of the prophets take on new meaning. Isaiah 6:8 records a vow that comes from the place of knowing what it means to be rescued: “Here I am, Lord. Send me!

Point to Ponder

Are you willing to say to God, “I remember what it is like to be lost, and I’m ready to be sent out to rescue others?” It’s a commitment born of thankfulness.

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Pornographic Breakthrough

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1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Everyone faces temptation in their life, both believers and unbelievers. As believers in Christ Jesus we have an understanding that it is common for us to face temptation and we also have a peace in the promise of God to never let us be tempted beyond our ability. We also have the reassurance through his word that he will always provide a way of escape so we may be able to endure our temptations.

Below is a powerful testimony by a young man who battled with pornography for years. I hope his testimony will bless  and encourage you in the same way it did me. You can read more about Ashton’s journey by clicking on the link below.

Ashton’s Testimony

I can’t remember the exact date, but about 6 years ago, I already knew the Lord, but far from intimately. So when I stumbled upon porn, it didn’t take much to sway me. The attractive and addictive nature of it all was greater than my love for Christ. So fast forward through some time, one thing leads to the next. Magazines turn into an online addiction. I am now captive to sin, captive to porn. I remember the delight I would find when Tuesday came, the day in the week where I had the entire afternoon and evening to myself. On top of this, every evening I could stay up late and did, to view porn, but Tuesday was my special day, as I didn’t have to keep a constant watch for if someone would come home or pop into the study and catch me.

So I was still attending church all this time, feeling guilty but unable to stop as much as I tried. Eventually the guilt started to ware off; my excuse, that God would rescue me if He really wanted me to stop (He has rescued me and He really did want me free, as does he want anyone captive to sin to be free.) So unfortunately this is the point where I have lost some of my story, not because it doesn’t exist, but because all memories were replaced by 100′s of thousands of images of porn. Porn literally cemented itself in my brain.

So we are now about 4 years down the line from the start of it all, still addicted to porn, a lot had happened, of which I cannot express here, due to the sensitivity of it all, in which I need to protect those close to me, whilst now actively trying to break the addiction through all sorts of methods. Methods such as wearing an elastic band around my wrist to pull on and hurt myself every time I thought of something lustful, to reading the bible when lust came up. You name it, I tried it. Nothing worked, I was still struggling to break the addiction to porn in my life, as I was still relying on my strength. Then, a trigger in a message at church got me thinking, and I went back to the words my pastor had said. “A father will never deny his son help,” God my heavenly Father would never deny me the help I asked of Him.

This was the start of something and I prayed and somehow managed to get free for a period of 6 months, (I would set calendar dates for when I would ‘break free’ only to reset them to other dates when I failed, another method of encouragement to break free that I tried.) The thing is though, I had not dealt with the issue, I had not dealt with what porn meant to me. Porn was my escape, my joy.

So when things got tough, I was back at it again. So now I was an addict, again, and I can’t deny it. YET God still loved me.

I then came across a Christian website after searching ways to break a porn addiction. I tried the course on the website, and it is brilliant, I have to say. The lessons I learned there eventually helped me to be the free man I am today. Unfortunately I did not manage to complete the entire course, as I missed one of the key lessons in the beginning that God would have me learn.

The lesson I still had to learn was to find my joy in the Lord and not elsewhere. I managed to move from seeking joy in porn, to finding it in my girlfriend, places where I shouldn’t have been finding it. It is only once my girlfriend broke up with me that I realized my desire and want to be wanted. I will forever be thankful to her for her obedience to Christ in breaking up with me, else I would not have learned this lesson.

Just over a year down the line, I can truly say God has taught me many a more lessons, of which, I think I will share in future posts. Lessons about Him, and lessons of how to break free from addictions, all of which I have had to learn.

Over the past year, I have grown spiritually like never before, all because I surrender myself to Christ. If I had to show you the person I was behind hidden doors a year ago, to the person I am now, even I would still be and am in awe of the greatness of our Savior. He works miracles like no other.

Every time I hear the statistics, that one in every 2 men and one in every 3 women in the church today are addicted to porn my heart sinks in sorrow. My heart sinks at the thought and knowledge of the pain they are going through. All I want to do is rescue them all, but I cannot do this, for it is only Christ who can truly rescue them. I can but only lead them to Christ.

A note for everyone out there, from someone who was an addict, every addict out there is a person, everyone needs to be loved by someone, don’t judge them, just love them, this is one of the lessons the Lord showed me. People fail, but our God loves them still, and we too are called to love everyone from where they are, leading them to Christ. I don’t condone porn, but I love those who view it no less than I love my family. I just pray that through this whole experience that people will be set free, not judged, but helped as they come to know the Lord.

Do you have a testimony of how God helped you break an addiction?  Please share it with us at – testifywithme@gmail.com or on Testimonies of his Goodness on facebook

 

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