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A physical cure for a spiritual problem

From the very beginning, we have been trying to remedy our spiritual nakedness with physical solutions, which no matter how creative and “symbolic” – will always be inadequate.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Genesis 1:27
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Genesis 2:7

When God created Adam and Eve, He filled them with His “breath of life” (Gen 2:7), created them in His own image (Gen 1:27). So then they carried His Holy Spirit literally, and therefore did not need redemption since there was no sin on earth.

I’ve always read these early passages in Genesis with a western lens. I was thinking about Adam and Eve’s nakedness, and asking – why did they hide from God after the fall? My answer had always been, they hid because they were naked… duh!

Then I thought about the indigenous tribes still littered all around the world today. Despite all man’s “advancements”, these pockets of communities still choose to wear little or no clothing, without any shame. So in some cultures physical nakedness doesn’t necessarily equate to shame. Genesis 2:25 reads “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed”. So Adam and Eve were aware of their nakedness. But after sin, their nakedness brought them shame, before the One who created them.

Could it be that Adam and Eve’s nakedness wasn’t just physical?

Could it be, after the fall, for the first time Adam and Eve became conscious/aware of their spiritual poverty. God’s covering of holiness had been removed after they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Now they knew good, but they also knew evil.

For the first time, they were spiritually naked, exposed and confronted by their sinful humanity.

God is holy in His very nature, He embodies holiness, He is the definition of holy. His free fellowship with Adam and Eve was because they were made in His image. So they were able to communed together, in unlimited intimacy because they carried His Spirit and were sanctified by Him. (It’s the reason why today when we are born again by His Spirit, we can grow in intimacy with God).

But after eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that covering of holiness – the constant indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit departed from them, and they became spiritually naked.

Then the eyes of the two of them were opened [that is, their awareness increased], and they knew that they were naked; and they fastened fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
Genesis 3:7 (AMP)

They quickly discovered that their new state of spiritual vulnerability needed a remedy. Just like in the world today. We have journeyed through the age of enlightenment, the information age and now we are in the digital age where knowledge is at our finger tips – literally. We know so much, but to know doesn’t mean we can cure. So they sought their own inadequate “fix” of fig leaves – a physical cure for a spiritual problem, just as we still make attempts to do today. From the very beginning, we have been trying to remedy our spiritual nakedness with physical solutions, which no matter how creative and “symbolic” – will always be inadequate.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool [afternoon breeze] of the day, so the man and his wife hid and kept themselves hidden from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
But the Lord God called to Adam, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You [walking] in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”
God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten [fruit] from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
Genesis 3:8‭-‬11 (AMP)

In the old testament only the appointed High priest could enter the Holy of Holies, within the tabernacle – once a year on the day of atonement. They would have to sanctify themselves in preparation, because if the priest was not as “sanctified” as he thought, he was in no position to appear before God to make appeal on behalf of the children of Israel and he would die. The presence of God’s holiness would not condone even the High priest’s sin. See
Exodus 28:33‭-‬35

So Adam and Eve hid from God’s holy presence. Because indeed as God said, the day you eat of the tree you shall surely die (Gen 2:16-17). Man could not be in God’s presence again as in Eden. The nature of sin made it impossible for them to remain where God’s presence freely visited.

Think about a new born baby. Pure, innocent, but as he or she grows, that childlike innocence is relinquished to human lusts – and suddenly we “see”, but our seeing only condemns us the more.

But the beauty for God’s love for us is that Just as God came looking for Adam and Eve in the garden – He has never stopped pursuing that restored communion and friendship with us.

Thank God Almighty for Jesus Christ the great Redeemer, who is able to purge our sins and stand as our righteousness before God.

We all share that same spiritual nakedness with Adam and Eve, and the desire to be covered; but only God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ, can adequately clothe us again.

To quote the chorus from a song which gets me excited everytime I hear it.

“Only Christ can truly satisfy”.

Love is… NOT poetry

Roses may be red and violets blue but Love is… NOT poetry

My Dad’s wedding gift to us was a simple assignment. Read 1 Corinthians 13. Of course we were both already familiar with this passage, and studied it together during our courtship.

I remember us attempting this whlist in the first days of our newlywed high – with the best intentions, it seemed like the easiest task. Piece. Of. Cake.

But, I can safely say three years later – actually being married takes the words of 1 Cor 13 from “nice ” to NECESSARY!

When I heard this scripture at weddings it sounded “nice”, I would day dream about having this love one day. But now within a marriage I’m learning…

Love is not poetry, though it can be inspiring, beautiful and poetic

Love isn’t a fuzzy feeling

Love usually isn’t getting ‘your way’ by any means

Love doesn’t do the bear minimum

Love goes above and beyond

Love isn’t fleeting and thrill seeking

Love isn’t always social media friendly or retweetable, or likeable

Love has no filter and no hiding place

Love doesn’t play games

Love doesn’t have a plan B

You can’t “fall out of love” because you didn’t “fall” in to it

Love is a choice

Love is usually not the popular choice, but the best choice.

God is Love

God is Love, and if you truly believe this as a Christian it will transform your approach to loving your spouse, a sibling, colleague or stranger.

As I encourage you to (re)visit 1 Corinthians 13 today, I ask – can YOU love like this?

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
I Corinthians 13:1‭-‬8 NKJV

Free indeed…?

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17)

There’s this freedom in Jesus that I so long for. I’m certain it’s in Him. I see glimpses of it on people’s faces when we worship. When we are in His presence. When we stop caring and raise our hands, or sit still contemplating His Love or lie prostrate in surrender before the Almighty. when we can no longer “keep it together” and allow the Spirit of God to come into our hearts and lives. The freedom to discover and be who He has called us to be in Himself.

32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32 see end for full ref)

I long to have that freedom on a Monday morning when I step into work.

I long to have that freedom on a Monday morning when I step into work. I desire to experience that freedom on a Sunday afternoon when I’m in fellowship with my church family. I want that freedom at gatherings mixing with people from various walks of life. I yearn to walk in that freedom – even as I travel on trains and buses, making my way to some destination, having unexpected encounters with other commuters.

I think it’s a great robbery for any individual in the Church of God to imitate someone else or some idea, and forsake who God has intended for us to be in Him. To be free – that too requires faith, and could also be part of the abundant life we are promised in Jesus. At one point or another we all struggle with the question of who we are, who we aspire to be and who God is. I believe there is another level of freedom stored away in discovering answers to these questions. And John 8:32 (above) confirms this.

In the world people pursue practical, outward forms of freedom – some are justified, like freedom from discrimination or a dictatorship. But the world also campaigns for a caricature of “freedom”, a false sense of “freedom” that sends us further away from the presence of God and into further captivity. Okay so that’s in “the world”, can I suggest that in the Church some of us maybe walking around on eggshells, putting on a performance, working so hard to be who we are not called to be – whilst the person God created us to be, the purpose and desires He has for us are abandoned. Some of us have set ourselves an impossible assignment of trying to be someone else whilst the role we are called to play remains dormant and the work unfinished, until God calls someone else. Maybe this was part of the issue with Saul going above and beyond to do someone else’s job (in this case Samuel’s). Hastening to perform that which God had not instructed him to perform, and losing his God-ordained inheritance in the process.

9 So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10 Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. 11 And Samuel said, “What have you done?”

(1 Samuel 13:9-11a see end for full ref)

Lately I’ve been hearing the word “freedom” in my spirit and as I desire it more and more it causes me to delight in worshipping God, because there I can have an audience of One and be free and transparent before Him. My intention here is not to point fingers, make accusations or even any assumptions, but to cause us to ponder the question. Am I free to be my authentic self?

Am I free?

I believe God calls us to His standard of godly living and righteousness, and I believe part of that standard is the freedom to be our authentic selves in Jesus. Think about Jesus’ short time spent in Gaderenes – as soon as the man who was spiritually bound, a prisoner and social outcast encountered Jesus – he was set free. But watch the reaction of the community who had seen this man wasting away, cutting himself, living a life of oppression, a life without purpose or freedom. What did they do when Jesus set him free? They asked Jesus to leave.

They asked Jesus to leave

15 Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 16 And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. 17 Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.

(Mark 5:15-17 see end for full ref)

How do I discover my ‘authentic” self – what does that even mean, especially in a “social media society” obsessed with outward appearances and false impressions. I go back to the One who made me, my Father in heaven to discover my identity and gain my freedom.

15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.

(Psalm 139:15-16 see end for full ref)

Worship is so important

Which brings me back to the initial thoughts behind this post. Worship is so important. As I pour out and empty myself with a lifestyle of worship and surrendrance to God, my hope and prayer is that God sets me free from every facade preventing me from being who He has created me to be.

Have you had an experience which freed you from living a lie, where you felt loosed if you like, liberated?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this – we’re here to learn!

Passages to read and reflect on:

John 8:31-36

1 Samuel 13:1-14

Luke 13:10-17

Mark 5:1-20

Psalm 139

Are you having a pity party?

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So… I’ve been feeling sorry for myself lately.

During my primary school years – around age 9 or 10, one of the most anticipated events at the end of the school day was the ice cream man. As my mind shifted from the joy of not being the last one to be let out of the classroom (everything was a competition when I was younger lol), I could hear the chugging ice cream van parked on the other side of the leafy school fence. Most of the time I would have already spent my pocket money for that day on sweets, which I bought whilst making my way to school in the morning – golf ball chewing gums, jaw breaker fire balls, strawberry pencils – the list was endless. On those days I had no choice but to reluctantly walk past the ice cream van, envying the reception kids, who were not old enough to appreciate the flake vanilla ice cream they were allowing to melt all over the sleeves of their school uniform.

Other days I resisted the morning sweet binge in order to buy my double cone, three scoop ice cream with nuts, sprinkles and strawberry sauce on top. I had a very sweet tooth growing up. But on most days, I had done the former and therefore missed out on ice cream after school, so I felt sorry for myself. It’s not fair, if only I was like the kids whose parents picked them up from school, surely I would also enjoy this privilege. The truth is I needed to practice self discipline, sometimes it’s better we don’t get everything we want, when we want – everyday could not be “ice cream man day” because that would be bad for my health and I would also probably take it for granted – it took me a while to learn this.

Some 16 years later, as I analyse my current place in life, I still find myself grumbling “it’s not fair”. Perhaps there are aspects of your life that cause you to do the same. Why isn’t my reality like so and so’s? Why can’t everything be perfect all the time? It got to the point where I started to question God: why did You allow things to be this way? I was throwing the biggest pity party. Then I started thinking about Job and how unfair his whole experience was. Here was a guy who was so “faithful” to God, even offering sacrifices for the potential sins of his children and yet God still allowed the devil to take everything away from him! Surely he didn’t deserve that,

why would our loving, good God do such a thing?

The Holy Spirit led me to the book of Job and directed me to read the last 5 chapters and they completely shut down my pity party. If you are feeling discontent or frustrated with where you are in life or a particular ongoing situation like Job, I would encourage you to read just these five chapters – Job 38 to 42.

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The truth is our understanding of “morality”, “justice”, “good” is so warped by our sinful nature that we can never ever rightly question God. Yes you can take your questions to God like I did, but accusing God’s nature and character because you’re uncomfortable with where you are in life right now, only shows how wavering and fickle our faith in Him really is.

My mind went to sessions of praise and worship were I had heartily bellowed the song lyrics of the band Housefires’  “good good Father”. I thought to myself, am I not the same person that passionately sang these words to this same God? Why was I struggling to grasp His goodness now? The truth is God is constantly molding and shaping our faith, so that it is steady, firm and sure.

Romans 5:3-4
And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation].

Our faith in God should not be based solely on how comfortable He has made us, or the fact that we prayed and got what we prayed for, or the latest “good thing” that has happened in our lives. God is calling us to a faith that is based on our reverence and understanding of who He is first and foremost.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

It isn’t logical, it isn’t transactional, it’s supernatural – it requires the inner work of the Holy Spirit to sustain this kind of faith, but it is possible to believe God simply because He is God – even when you’re in the storm. You’ve heard of child like faith – it’s very simple – young children believe even before they’ve seen the evidence. So things might be really challenging and discouraging for you at the moment, be encouraged things will get better. My prayer is that the Lord will enable us to wait upon Him, our hope will not be disappointed!

I Peter 5:10
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

May God enable us to be steadfast in our faith and confidence in Him, so that even in the valleys, the fiery furnace, the oppositions our hope will be firmly planted in Him until He comes to our aid in Jesus name amen.

Peace & Love ❤

Calling envy out

From the moment we are born, we are nurtured and shaped into an overly competitive and selfcentred, “survival of the fittest” mentality – if not by our immediate families, then the societies we grow up in. We are told that weakness is not an option and second place is not good enough. We develop personal agendas to be “the leader” and “the best” in every context of life – to be “top dog”. I say nurtured and shaped because when God created man, His plan was not to throw us in a spherical cage and watch us tear each other apart like a dog fight. If you’re a sibling or the last born in your family like me, as you grow up you will discover the bittersweetness of sibling rivalry; the amount of times I’ve been compared to my sister and vice versa. What about extended families, relatives and even amidst so-called “friends”? Behind closed doors this cousin is being compared with that cousin, this aunty with that aunty, and the success of that family or friend is being weighed against the other.

It was never His plan in Eden to pit us against each other. Contrary to what we are taught within society and even our education system, “survival of the fittest” isn’t innate to man, God did not place it in us from the beginning as is often suggested today. Sin is responsible for this attitude and approach to life. Cain murdered his own brother, simply because God accepted Abel’s offering and rejected his. I can’t imagine what possessed Cain to decide his brother needed to go. God rejecting Cain’s offering had nothing to do with Abel’s offering, it was never a competition! But Cain saw otherwise. Other examples of this competitive attitude include Jacob and Esau, Saul and David, even the Apostle Paul and Apollos who early Christians tried to compare against each other:

1 Corinthians 3:3-8

For you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

We are created to succeed. If you look at God’s command and unction to Adam and Eve before the fall, and Noah after the fall – it doesn’t change.

Genesis 1:28

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Genesis 9:1

And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

The splendor on earth is already ours, the earth was created for us all to cohabit, survive and thrive. We can all be fruitful and mutliply, and replenish the earth. But what a “survival of the fittest”, competitive attitude teaches us is that some how there isn’t enough oxygen or provision for us all, so secretly we are threatened by our counterparts’ success and insecurity festers in our hearts. This frame of mind leads to envy. At times not so secretly, we compete unnecessary with others in our work place, family, industry and even ministry; anyone doing “better” than us or simply doing well is a threat.

There’s a Gospel singer that I admire so much, her music always ministers to me! For the longest time I’ve been waiting for her to release new music – it’s been years -and I used to think, Gospel music really needs her input! So you can imagine, I was beyond excited when I saw an Instagram post of her announcing the upcoming release of her brand new album. After it sunk in that I would have amazing new worship music on my playlist, I thought about another female Gospel artist already doing very well – and within me I created a competition between the two of them.

Even in the Church, and by Church I mean the body of Christ we have believed the enemies lie “survival of the fittest”. Well of course there can’t be two gifted and anointed female Gospel worship leaders releasing edifiying music and impacting lives at the same time because…? There is no because. God convicted me in the middle of my thoughts. If you struggle with envy and I know I do at times, then what God showed me will definitely bless you.

He took my mind back to this scripture Matthew 9:36-38

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Christ is The Messiah and even He saw the need for more labourers! The truth is if your goal is to fulfil your God-given purpose and destiny then that means being a witness for Christ irrespective of your sphere and winning souls for the Kingdom of God – fulling The Great Commission. So then our prayer should be for more God-fearing anointed ministers, prophets, preachers, worship leaders, actors, film makers, business men and women etc. to join in the work. When someone comes on the scene that is like you in your work place and people perhaps make the comparison, don’t be threatened by them, they can’t “take your place”, instead praise God and encourage that individual so that God might use them also as He is using you. Because in truth, the harvest is plenteous, but the labourers are few.

My prayer is that God in His mercy would work on our hearts and undo the poisonous mindset we may have developed, so that instead of competing with one another, we will encourage one another in doing the will of God and fulfilling His divine purpose for our lives, to the glory of God Almighty in Jesus name amen.

Peace and Love ❤