Category: Faith

Thinking Church

dami_effectThis year I have heard at least two people speak of their battle with depression and one of the individuals even spoke of  feeling suicidal.

I have noticed recently, how precious and needful peace of mind is. I’m not talking about a challenge free life with no concerns, but I’m talking about a sound mind. We all think, we all possess a mind.

Though like the soul, our minds cannot be seen, and yet, our minds can determine the way we behave,  the way we perceive and understand, and our everyday decisions. Mental health is a subject seldom discussed in the Church and yet day after day Christians young and old alike are battling with their mental health, whilst sitting quietly in the pews, wearing a smile. People’s mental health can be affected differently, what one person finds difficult, is a passing thought to someone else. For some it is as subtle as low confidence and insecurity, for others it is the overwhelming voice of another, crippling every day thoughts of lies, accusations and taunts. But for all it is intended to hinder and to prevent us from living the life God planned and predestined for us.

Mental challenges can make us feel powerless, but God is powerful, out of control but God is in control, hopeless but CHRIST is our hope.

The prophet Elijah had just experienced an all time high, defeating the prophets of Baal (1 kings 18).  Putting their demi-god’s to shame, he was feeling #awesome. But when Jezebel threatened his life, giving him 24 hours to live, fear overwhelmed him and the Bible says he literally “ran for his life”. But Elijah wasn’t just afraid, he was weary and ready to give up.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord , take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

What? The same prophet that witnessed God’s consuming fire come down from heaven? The same prophet who triumphed against Jezebel’s idolaters in 1 Kings 18:38 -39? Yes, no one is above experiencing discouragement and depression, Elijah even longed for death. At times I see the battle of our minds like the vision in Zechariah 3:1 – 2 and Joshua represents us. Constantly the enemy is opposing us,  constantly the angel of God is rebuking him on our behalf.

Elijah was overwhelmed, alone, hungry and deflated. Sometimes it isn’t our physical challenges, but the troubling of our minds that hold us back and discomfort us. As you will see, Elijah’s hunger was not at the root of his sorrow. In the same way a man can have everything he has ever desired in the physical and still fill deeply unfulfilled and burdened within. I am comforted whenever I read scripture that confirms to me that God is actively assigning His angels to lift me up.

Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.”

“The journey is too great for you”, sometimes it feels this way. It grieves my heart when I hear that people are being afflicted mentally to the point of considering suicide. Whatever your challenge or trial, remember that what you are going through doesn’t define who you are. God made no mistakes when He created you.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvellous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

How can we overcome today? I think we can follow Elijah’s example.

1. It isn’t your fault. Often times we are alone in our troubled thoughts, which makes it easy to blame ourselves.  At times what we are going through seems unfair and undeserved. Contrary to what the enemy wants you to believe, coming up against these challenges doesn’t mean you’ve offended God, or that you are being punished.

And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord  came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

2. Quiet time. Elijah went to a quiet place, often times we fear that the quiet will bring it’s own challenges, especially when it comes to the mind. But if you have a relationship with Christ or desire it, and seek His presence, then he will honour your invitation and meet you in that quiet place, where like Elijah we can be transparent before God. 

3. Prayer.

Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord .” And behold, the Lord  passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord  was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord  was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord  was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

I cannot stress this enough. It is so important to keep up all communication with God and positive people around us, books, sermons, YouTube videos; do not allow the only voice you are hearing to be the enemy’s. God is always speaking, we must quieten our fears and our complaints enough to hear Him in every situation. We must bring our anxieties and internal protests before Him and surrender them at His feet, in order to gain His help. God is ready to help you if you will let Him.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

Please remember it’s not your fault, things can and will get better, and speaking to someone trustworthy, God-fearing and accountable will help.

*disclaimer: Please note the content of this post doesn’t rule out seeking support from professionals*

Peace & Love ❤

Vulnerability in Love

 

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I had big trust issues growing up. You would think this made me guarded, secretive, defensive. No. Instead I made myself vulnerable to everyone. I decided the best way to protect myself from disappointment, was to have no expectations of anyone. I recall my explanation to a friend – since I couldn’t bring myself to trust anyone, I would make sure anything I disclosed to even my closest friends, I could disclose to a stranger, and I often did. I had no filter, I shared almost everything with anyone who had ears, and to no surprise I was taken advantage of.

A few days before the wedding, I spoke with a colleague at work. He had been receiving updates about the ‘big day’ during our lunch breaks, for the past few months. (He’s been married for 6 years!) He asked me “are you ready to make yourself vulnerable?”

Make myself vulnerable? His question sent thumps running to my heart straight away. I didn’t like the sound of that. Being vulnerable would mean allowing my flaws and faults to be exposed to the  one person whose opinion matters most to me! I’ve just mastered the whole ‘guarding’ myself thing, and now I’m being  asked to let down my guard? What, that can’t be right!

The beautiful thing is that like God with mankind; when we allow our imperfections to the surface, we can finally experience the fullness of love the other party is prepared to show us, flaws and all. This is also the first step to tackling those flaws.

Even just some days before our wedding day and God was still pointing out a major flaw to me, through my colleague. The scripture in 1 Corinthians 13 makes more sense now. I understood the being “patient” and not being “proud” part, however there are some things that love does in Corinthians that I didn’t understand.

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Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things.

In other words, love is vulnerable, has no secrets, is trusting, unguarded. Only then can 2 really become 1. Remember that God will invest so much in a person, with every possibility of that person rejecting His assignment and His love. Remember Eden, God crafted a perfect display of His complete love for mankind, and despite His caution, Adam and Eve still betrayed His trust. Or what about Jesus going to the cross, God made His only Son completely vulnerable and at the mercy of men set out to kill Him, why because He loves us.

You’ll never be more vulnerable to any human being than your spouse. If you’re not ready to be vulnerable with your future husband or wife, then you need to ask yourself what kind of marriage you want now or in the future. Not one based on fear, pride, lacking trust and divided – two individuals “doing life” together. I believe God has something more beautiful, sincere and more intimate in mind for marriage. It is the merging of two journeys, the binding together of two lives, the establishment of a single union before God and man. That’s why it’s so important for it to be the right person.

Marriage may not be a bed of roses, but with the right man, and the right woman you can cultivate you own unique garden that works for the two of you.

So, are you ready to make yourself vulnerable? Start first with Christ, it’s working for me…

Peace & Love

Relationship Status?


image: jewlerywise.com

image: jewlerywise.com

It isn’t my relationship that redeemed me.

Some of us have been to terrible, dark places in our lives – paths we blame ourselves for journeying; so that if any man or woman should choose to love us, deep within us we believe there lies our redemption.

“She can be loved”

His proposal tells the world “she can be loved”, and having her by his side makes him ”desirable”. Is it partly because, although we say Christ has redeemed us, we continue to hold ourselves guilty of our past? This is certain, you will never be able to pay for the life you lived, and there is nothing you can do to change your past. But His blood is more powerful, more than capable of helping you to recover from those mistakes and healing your traumas. His blood calls you a new creation. Even if you were the worst of sinners, there is no darkness, no failure, no history that the blood of Jesus cannot overcome and wash away.

“…bought at a much greater price”

Do you long desperately for ”Mister right’‘? Well contrary to the world’s fairytale there is no knight in shining armour who can save you, because the truth is – we all need saving. Maybe you’re already in a relationship? Do you love it when people talk about your relationship? Does it give you a confidence in your self-worth, which you dare not carry alone? The truth is, no  relationship status, no ring can redeem you, because you were bought at a much greater price. Are you able to love and appreciate your worth, the unique value placed in you by God? Or are you still angry and still ashamed? I find I feel more confident since getting engaged, it’s like you carry a stamp on your left hand that says “you’re worth it” (like the L’Orèal ads). But the novelty will soon wear off and then what? Will you seek for the next thing to make you feel redeemed and cleared of your past?

“Woman where are thine accusers?”

Christ is before you asking you, “Woman where are thine accusers?” Think about the woman accused of adultery, even after the accusations ceased why did she remain there, stood before Jesus? Perhaps her greatest condemnation – the one that kept her where her accusers left her, was her own. What have you done wrong? How have you messed up? Whatever it is, I have news for you, you have been redeemed. You don’t have to justify God’s love towards you or His blessings in your life. There is no need to feel ashamed anymore, when the spotlight is on you. They don’t see who you used to be, they don’t see your past sins and struggles, they see God’s glory. They see YOU, redeemed and refined by Christ – because you are. Jesus took your shame to the cross, you have been redeemed and there is no catch, but believe that your redemption is in Christ.

Your redemption is not pegged on your relationship status. When it comes to the matters of your inner-self, your relationship status is irrelevant. Start addressing those memories that try to convince you that you haven’t changed. Read about Paul, he could have carried the shame and guilt of a notorious past, persecuting the church. He would have been justified to seek the approval of the people he was sent to share the Gospel with, but instead he allowed his identity and call in Christ to be the driving force of his life. You can too.

It isn’t my relationship that redeemed me. I was a wreck, and Christ saw me, broken, desperate and tired, and He carried me. Long before my Fiancé noticed me or even knew who I was, long before there was any proposal in sight, Christ began a work of redemption in me. So I encourage you today, to forgive yourself and forgive your past, and begin to learn about your redemption that is everlasting in Christ. As my Pastor often says – “your past is past”, and no man can, no man has redeemed you and no man will, but the living God.

May God help us to believe His unconditional love towards us, may He teach us step out of the shadows of our past and hand over every negative memory and guilt to Him, and may God teach us to truly love ourselves, in Jesus name amen.

Peace & Love

Is anything too hard for the Lord?

image: v1ctor

image: v1ctor

It could be through a dream, conviction of the heart, a revelation.

When God speaks, something new is born – a vision, an assignment, a calling, an ambition. It changes the way we see all that is around us. Our priorities are often rearranged, we sing a new chorus in our hearts, and our minds are filled and fuelled by it.

God said” starts more and more of our conversations, especially the ones we have within ourselves; as we try to defend the promise God has entrusted to us.
What should we do when God said, and nothing has happened… yet?

God said to Abraham, “Get out of thy country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing

God said to Moses, “Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel out of Egypt.

The angel of the Lord said to Abraham and Sarah “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, “shall I surely bare a child, since I am old?” Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”

It had been twenty-five years since the promise was first mentioned in the Bible; imagine how long Sarah had already been waiting before we hear of this promise. She had waited so long for this promise, that when she was told specific details of how long it would be, before she would have a child – her longing and her desire had overwhelmed her faith. Anticipation became anxiety, and waiting turned into worrying. Perhaps secretly within her, Sarah had loosen her grip and let go of the promise. Because having the type of faith that has no bearings by the world’s standards, the type of faith that exceeds mere “optimism” or “positivity”, may have been too difficult for her.

If you could utter words of encouragement to Sarah, in the midst of her waiting, knowing what you know about Isaac and Israel, what would you say?

I would tell her that the possibility of her not having a son was impossible. I would make her aware that a lineage specially chosen by God, was dependant on her having her son. I would assure her that God had plans, hundreds of years in the future, that rested upon her receiving her promise.

So, what has God said concerning you? What has been revealed to you? Is it in line with the character and nature of God? If God has confirmed it as His Word, then it must come to pass. Don’t let go of it, prepare yourself – it will come.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

May God pour out over us the grace to trust in Him and wait upon Him in Jesus name amen

Peace & Love

Sunday isn’t enough

image: flickr - Jason White

image: Jason White (flickr)

Even as a Christian, don’t make the mistake of believing that your acknowledgment of God is the end of the journey.

The journey has only just begun.

You are no longer the same, in fact you will spend the rest of your life being changed forever.
You are created with such intricacy, such specific detail – nothing in this world can ever fill the void – this world alone is insufficient for you.

There are things hidden within you that only God knows about.
There are joys and rays of peace you strive for, and God has kept them in a secret and lovely place.

There is no one person without a destiny in Christ; as wretched as you may think you are, or think the next person is. God carefully designed this unique vessel, this God-inspired creation, for His own joy of loving us and the incomparable, indescribable joy of being loved by the Father.

So I encourage you today, to return to that secret place, the place that God called Jacob back to, so many times. The place where God first met with you.

 

Don’t ever be too busy for God, He is your sustenance – without Him, you will run out of steam. Sunday isn’t enough, everyday you must desire to rekindle that special love between you and the Father – spending time with Him in your own special way.

And if you don’t know Him, He has been waiting to know you all of your life.

Wanting to know God, is enough to begin the journey.

Pray this prayer with me: Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I’m a sinner. And I ask for your forgiveness. I believe your son, Jesus, died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins. I repent of my sins. I invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Saviour. In Jesus’ name, amen.

I choose joy

i_choose_joy_mainFor the joy of the LORD is your strength
Nehemiah 8:10

“I choose Joy”

Joy
How easy is it to hold on to joy, when a wave of sadness floods your mind?

A misplaced item, the wrong choice of words, a scornful look, the playing out of injustice, a subtle descending of sadness – covering the heart. But the day is not spent.
See, the Son still shines, even in the thickest night, look up and see, the Son still shines.
His smile radiates over us. Beloved of Christ, hear the voice of the Living God, serenading your soul. His love for you, colours each day. Even in the silence, listen, for your inhale and exhale are only echoes of His profession of love to you.

If ever again you notice that wave beginning to descend, or you feel the heaviness of it covering your heart, remember that you are the apple of God’s eye. He sustains the universe for your benefit. In jealousy Satan endeavors to steal a joy he has lost forever. He recognises the strength of a joyful Spirit and the might of a heart filled with gladness. A heart better able to love, to trust, and to forbear. But have you noticed how difficult it is to love yourself, to love your neighbour, when you are sorrowful? I am learning that deep sadness is like a filtered lense. When you put it on, it takes the colour, the beauty away from everything, and since only we are seeing the things around us through this filter, it makes us feel alone.

So I challenge you today to take off the shades, lift the blanket, shake off the waves and choose joy, because

the joy of the Lord is your strength

We can, to a very great extent control even our own emotions; but then, besides, we can do more than that. It may be quite true, that you cannot help feeling sorrowful in the presence of sorrowful thoughts, and glad in the presence of thoughts that naturally kindle gladness. But I will tell you what you can do or refrain from doing-you can either go and stand in the light, or you can go and stand in the shadow. You can either fix your attention upon, and make the predominant subject of your religious contemplations, a truth which shall make you glad and strong, or a half-truth, which shall make you sorrowful, and therefore weak. Your meditations may either centre mainly upon your own selves, your faults and failings, and the like; or they may centre mainly upon God and His love, Christ and His grace, the Holy Spirit and His communion.
You may either fill your soul with joyful thoughts, or though a true Christian, a real, devout, God-accepted believer, you may be so misapprehending the nature of the Gospel, and your relation to it, its promises and precepts, its duties and predictions, as that the prevalent tinge and cast of your religion shall be solemn and almost gloomy, and not lighted up and irradiated with the felt sense of God’s presence-with the strong, healthy consciousness that you are a forgiven and justified man, and that you are going to be a glorified one.

-Alexander MacLaren

 

Today, you will be confronted with many choices, many opportunities to make decisions.
There is one decision that you can make, that will enable you to see, taste, hear and feel the goodness of God which already surrounds you. Choose Joy today.

Peace & Love

While I Wait

[Image: Martin Cathrae]

[Image: Martin Cathrae]

 

One thing I think a lot of Christians struggle with is waiting…

 

For some people working in faith, serving in faith, sowing in faith, even being persecuted and still having faith, is not as much of a challenge for them as waiting in faith.

We become uncomfortable, we pray and we don’t hear anything, we fast, we seek counsel, and that feeling of waiting grates on us. We read over the scriptures that are supposed to encourage us, but we use them to fuel our anxiety. If God said I should ask, and I have asked, and He promised I will receive – why am I not receiving?

But a persevering faith is precious and it will only reap reward from Heaven.

When I feel like doubting God, trying to find a compromise to what I am waiting on God for, I hear the Holy Spirit cheering me on, encouraging me. Telling me to keep on waiting, not to relent in waiting, to be hopeful in the character of the Almighty God and confident in His love for me. Don’t stop looking unto God for this, He will do it.

If we are able to persevere in trusting God, even when everything and everyone else is counting the seconds, minutes, hours, days, years. We show God that our faith in Him goes beyond us getting things from Him. Instead we put our faith in God because we believe He is the only Way worth pursuing, the only Truth worth knowing, and the only Life worth living.

 Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

God’s grace is sufficient for us.

Have a wonderful day.

Peace & Love