This year, more than any in recent history, we’ve been confronted by the mortality of man on a global scale. It has been emotionally exhausting at times getting daily updates of how many lives were lost the day before; and yet it has forced many of us to reflect on death and eternity. A few weeks ago the much-loved and respected apologist Ravi Zacharias passed away.
During the months leading to Ravi’s passing, a social media campaign #ThankyouRavi gained momentum, as people shared their appreciation for Ravi’s ministry, dedication to defending the Gospel and discipiling others to do the same. I could understand the sentiment, but I felt like people were already saying goodbye to Ravi (he was still with us) and it made me feel uncomfortable.
Death makes all of us feel uncomfortable. The last few months of the Covid-19 outbreak have confirmed the tragedy associated with death. There were times during these past weeks where it felt unending, but as lock down restrictions are beginning to lift, here we are coming out on the other side in Jesus name.
Whenever I read through the book of Acts and the Gospels, my heart sinks everytime I read about disciples being martyred. No matter how many times I read through the Gospels, there is always a minute part of me desperate for Pilate to reject the Jews unlawful and unjust sentencing of Jesus to death. Within myself I murmur Pilate stand your ground don’t let them do this, their making a mistake, He is the King of the Jews. But the reality is regardless of how “nice” or “noble” my internal petitions may sound, it would mean no crucifixion, no resurrection and that would mean no salvation for us today. Jesus Christ had to die.
In Sarah Davis’ tribute to her father Ravi Zacharias on the RZIM website Sarah said something that really made me stop and think.
“My father is more alive than ever before”
I had to ponder on this statement for a while. Then suddenly I started to grasp what the Apostle Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Sarah’s loving tribute to her father reminded me of the ultimate hope of every follower of Christ. As Paul rightly points out in 1 Corinthians 15:19 the Christian’s hope is not to live forever on this earth. We are not pursuing immortality in a finite world. But instead our hope is to fulfil God’s call for our lives here on earth, and ultimately inherit eternal life with Him in heaven.
Sometimes I wrestle with difficult questions when someone dies, whether they’re high-profile or not. “Why God, why did You allow this person to die? What about those left behind? Couldn’t You have spared their life?” I’ve never received a direct response to these questions. But when my grief becomes to heavy to bear , and drives me to the presence Of God – then I see Jesus and I’m comforted. I’m reminded that death is not the end, nor is it tragic for the believer. Because what awaits us is incomparable to what we see now. 1 Corinthian 13:12
I’m not trying to trivialise death. It is devastating. Death is horrible, especially if preceded by suffering, sickness or injustice. Even now there are many mourning loved ones lost during the outbreak, and they deserve to be comforted and supported through their grief. But let’s also remember that death is not the end, and for every believer in Jesus Christ – life, abundant – indescribable in comparison to the standards of this world, is only just beginning.
So here is a challenging thought, perhaps this taboo topic of death, may be a path way into a discussion about life, eternity, salvation and God’s redeeming love. This also is Good News.
Lord we bring before you every person heart broken and grieved by the loss of a loved one. We bring before you Lord every person who feels the loss is unbearable. We pray that You minister Your peace to every heart, we ask You to carry them in their weariness, and envelop them with your presence, to comfort and renew them in Jesus name amen.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 ❤
Going to university and gaining an academic award, being labelled a “highflyer” by society’s standards, moving through life at the same pace as your peers or even moving ahead of them – doesn’t mean you’re on track.
Are you on track?
It’s a difficult question to answer yes or no. For most of us this question will not fill us with many thoughts of comfort. Perhaps for some of us anxiety, feelings of insecurity and inadequacy may follow. Maybe you’re not sure you are where you’re supposed to be in life. For a few, you may be confident of our status, and feel completely secure. In that case read this post and then share it with some one who needs it more lol. In reading the first Psalm in the Bible, I came across guidelines that can help. Here are…
3 WAYS TO STAY/GET ON TRACK!
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly Psalm 1a
Counsel is important in the life of every human being. The Bible repeatedly lays emphasis on how necessary the right counsel is on our path. (prov 1:5, prov 8:14 , prov 15:22 , prov 19:20)
Someone is counselling you. Whether it’s parents, a mentor, your instagram feed or YouTube subscriptions. As much as the world wants you to believe “you are the master of your fate”, you are infact being led and influenced everyday. The sooner we realise this, the sooner we can put a check on the source of our counsel, to guide us in the right direction.
TWO. Your circle
nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful Psalm 1b
Who is in your circle? Just as it sounds, these are the people that surround you; those you spend the most time with. The Bible warns that your circle also shapes your path in life – be it close friends, colleagues at work, school mates or even your church family. Your circle influences you, consciously or unconciously. My most unstable season in life was when I had the most “friends”. I lost all sense of direction and I was being pulled, enticed and influenced from all angles – by conflicting ways of life. As the saying goes, choose your friends wisely.
THREE. God’s Word
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. Psalm 1:2
To put it plainly, do you read your Bible? God’s Word is transformative – called the living Word because it literally manifests life in everyone who reads and receives it. God’s Word equips us specifically, for the individual journey He has designed for each of us to embark on.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
If you sometimes wonder am I where I’m suppose to be? Check these three things, is anything out of sync? This Psalm explains that those who don’t have these three things in check “are like the chaff which the wind driveth away” – life is happening to them, rather than them living and navigating intentionally through life.
For those who follow these guidelines, God’s Word promises a certain end. This individual’s life is ticking according to God’s divine clock, bringing forth fruits in season (at the right time) and prospering. Please note that God’s timing as His ways are not like our ways, nor our parents ways, or our community’s ways. The ultimate judge of whether you’re “on track” is the Living God who knows the path He has set before you.
Psalm 1:3 & 6
May God in His unfailing mercy, align and keep us planted in His divine plan in Jesus name
Peace & Love ❤
What makes you so different?
1 Peter 2:9
What makes you a Christian? According to the helpful results of a very quick Google search and I quote: “…in 2010 Christianity was by far the world’s largest religion, with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly a third (31 percent) of all 6.9 billion people on Earth.” That’s a lot of numbers. This is more a thought than a challenge, do you think our world reflects that there are 2 billion Christians – nearly 1 in every 3 people – on the face of the earth?
I remember having a conversation with a friend, about faith. I was trying to explain the difference between conveniently carrying the label of being a “Christian” and striving to live as a born again Christian. I was very impressed by my well learned “christianese” answers to her questions, but then she was also well versed on these answers too. When I was satisfied that I had repeated everything I had heard others describe the Christian walk as, she asked me “what does it mean to be born again”. I paused for a second, the conversation doesn’t usually go like this – people usually go away and think over the first set of responses. But I guess like Nicodemus when speaking to Jesus about the same subject, many of us have tried “religion” and it has failed us. No sound bites came to mind, so I would have to depend on the Holy Spirit and my own personal experience.
“Being born again means that Christ has become your source, for everything”
What followed was silence from my friend, and also silence from me, as I realised, I couldn’t put it any simpler than that. I felt challenged by the words that escaped my mouth. Undoubtedly becoming born again is both a spiritual and personal process and experience. But this transformation should also be visible in our physical lives. Being born again we no longer survive on our own competence or capabilities – our own plans, judgments and agenda. We become a blank canvas, we release every tension in our will (that tug n pull of ‘self’ that exists within all of us), so we can be shaped, moulded and transformed into His divine will and purpose. We become dependant children of God.
Sadly there is obvious contention between what God desires for us and what the world tells us to desire. Adam and Eve lived an abundant life in Eden, heaven on earth – and yet the one thing they were told was off limits overshadowed everything God had freely given them. From the beginning man has desired autonomy, but God has always called us to dependency.
Genesis 3:5 KJV
In the same way that we want our spouses, family and friends to choose to love us, not by obligation. God wanted us to choose Him, and still wants us to choose Him. As a Christian what is your greatest concern, discovering and accomplishing God’s will and plan for your life, or fulfilling your greatest desires and ambitions and thanking God when you do? Is God the reason or the enabler? I’ll say it again, is God your “reason” or your “enabler”?
As a child of God He should be both, but sometimes I realise He’s not the reason really, but a means to an end – the end being my gratification, my satisfaction. You may be on the right track in terms of your goals, but if you want them more than you want to please God then you’re still on the wrong track. The truth is that when you fulfil your desires and reach your finish line, you’ll find something else to desire and that haunting feeling of discontent will return – in truth it never left. Because like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, who believed eating from the tree of knowledge would satisfy their curious hunger;
our pursuit for human satisfaction will always lead to the greatest level of discontentment.
So what am I really saying? I’m asking us to reflect over the months of this year or the last few years – has it been “my agenda” or “God’s”? It’s sort of like when you attend a party with someone, or enter a busy environment like a market place and you have someone following behind you. Until you look back and realise they took a detour somewhere along the journey. I think it’s very easy to do, even as a born again Christian.
Finding our way back
What makes you so different? What makes us different to everyone else appearing to run the same race of life? For some of us, our dreams and aspirations don’t seem all that different to those who are not Christians. That isn’t a bad thing – but who is the source of your vision? Who is sustaining your vision? Who is sustaining you? Remember my very simple explanation to a friend …Christ has become your source, for everything.
John 6:35 KJV
It can only be through Him, by Him and because of Him. I pray that God will give us the grace to return to His will, forego our temporal “goals”, fading ambitions and vain motivations – for His ever-lasting prize of life eternal in Jesus name.
Peace and Love