Saturday, 12 August 2017

Sin and God- The seriousness Of It All!

Sin is a concept that resides in the deep subconscious mind of believers. When we don’t hear the word in Church or come across it in our reading of the Word, we are plagued by it by our conscience. When our behavior does not harmonize with what we know as the will of God, the concept of sin re-surfaces. Not only that, but when our Spirit harmonizes with the Spirit of God, we experience joys and breakthroughs, and our conscience speaks to us yet again bringing the concept of sin to mind, this time victory over sin.

All around us we come across people who’ve been in the Christian journey for quite some time, people often well-learned in the scriptures, and are able to stand in the pulpit and preach the Gospel that converts hardened hearts, yet the concept of sin never fazing them. The knowledge of God’s irrevocable gifts to them is apparent so they tend to succeed in preaching God’s Word even though their lives are tainted by willful sin. To them God is a distant character, not one who watches over them or who lives in them for that matter. Through repeated disobedience they have numbed their conscience to the convictions of the Holy Spirit and the fruit of their lives reveal that they have no ongoing intimate relationship with God. For as J C Ryle said, “Praying and sinning will never live together in the same heart. Prayer will consume sin, or sin will choke prayer.”

The concept of sin becomes real to those whom Jesus is real to. On one side of the pole they are aware of God’s tremendous love for the sinner, and on the other, His tremendous hate of sin, hence Jesus died on the cross. When we claim to be followers of God yet our lives contradict our claims we become what 2Timothy 3:5 describes, “Having a form of godliness but denying its power” through our lifestyle. People go to Church for various reasons but one who truly fears the Lord and would do anything to obey His word- is a true follower of Christ. However, many Christians have become accustomed to diluting the principle of Godly living and reverent obedience to Him. We casually just get involved in sin; we sing songs in Church but not know whom we are singing about! We mix with the world with no distinction between us and them, yet because we have “managed” to manipulate Christianity for our own advantage we are then able to stand in the pulpit on a Sunday morning and deliver the Gospel of Christ. How could we be so deceived? E.M Bounds states that, “In its life giving forces, the sermon cannot rise above the man. Dead men preach dead sermons, and dead sermons kill. Everything depends on the spiritual character of the preacher. God does not need great talents, great learning, or great preachers, but men great in holiness, great in faith, great in love, great in fidelity, great for God. He needs men who are always preaching holy sermons in the pulpit, and living holy lives out of it. These can mold a great generation for God.”

We cannot outsmart God. Although our preaching of the Word brings effective results while we live a sinful life it’s important to note that God always confirms His Word and not man. “The important thing, as Paul said to the Philippians, “is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.” I am not trying to hammer Christians about sin because there are many reasons why we fall. Preachers are the targets of the enemy, so they will continuously be attacked in all sorts of ways by him. Young believers are also targets. In their new faith, the enemy sends someone to cause them to doubt the Gospel or to lure them into sexual sin, and he uses people in the Church very well-acquainted in scripture yet the fruit of their lives displaying the opposite. The devil does not come with horns and a fork as he is usually painted, he comes masquerading as an angel of light and he would do anything to terminate the purpose for which God called you for and entering into eternal life with Jesus, either by binding you in sin or returning you back to the life God delivered you from. Inface, the moment you start confessing Jesus Christ as your Savior the battle for your soul begins. John and Stasi Eldredge remind us, “You really won’t understand your life as a woman (and man) until you understand this: You are passionately loved by the God of the universe. You are passionately hated by His enemy.”

Our judgment of the Devil’s danger in our lives becomes clouded when we take sin casually. It shows that we do not fear God but become so entitled to His blessings! We want a wonderful marriage and home, but we are not willing to obey the Lord’s commandments. We want to take shortcuts and expect that everything should roll down on our lap. Martin Luther King said that, “The crown we wear is preceded by the cross we carry.” So although it may seem as if we are getting away with living a double standard life, eventually our fruit will show. It will show through prolonged confusion, through strife, through condemnation, fear, and through war in our souls. Outside we appear as if we have it all together but inside we experience no peace.

During my morning prayer, one day I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit to begin taking God seriously- to absolutely believe His Word and His existence. I felt the conviction to find fulfillment in the Lord and not in other things that promises fulfillment but only enslaves me. I felt the conviction to let go off anything and anyone that led me to sin. It’s either I fully believe the Lord or nothing, I cannot be lukewarm. And sometimes I find that I pursue things that cause me to overlook this precious free gift of salvation. Why? “Because I’ve been too long in it”. I have found ways to manipulate scriptures for personal motives. I think I can deceive God because I’m well acquainted with His Word. Yet in His love and grace, and for His name’s sake, He helps me lay down my cherished sins and hypocrisy. He allows me no comfort outside His will.

“God is mighty but not despise men; He is mighty and firm in His purpose. He does not keep the wicked alive but gives the afflicted their rights. He does not take His eyes off the righteous; he enthrones them with kings, and exalts them forever. But if men are bound in chains held fast by cords of affliction, he tells them what they have done- that they have sinned arrogantly. He makes them listen to correction and commands them to repent of their evil. If they obey and serve Him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity, and their years in contentment.”- Job36:5-11

We can be so sinful- either out of rebellion or attack, but when we take God at His Word, we will bear much fruit. I believe that one day people will look at us with rejoicing and see the glory of God in our lives. The times we were faithful in private, to let go off sin and cling to God, will be public testimonies. We will spend the rest of our days in prosperity and contentment, but not when we are dabbling with what we know to be sin. God is mighty and firm in His purpose and His Word shows us what His purpose is. Sometimes we are in a sinful relationship that goes against His command to flee fornication, and we are hurt by our sin and cry out to Him, “Oh God please show me a sign!” But the sign we need is in the word of God- “Flee fornication. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body”, 1Corinthians 6:18 and many others.

Take God at His Word. Don’t think that you can fool God, a man reaps what he sows. Don’t deceive yourself! Let go off sin! His grace is sufficient for you. Set your entire mind on Him. Seek Him first. Cling to Him. Be serious about Him. Pray to Him. Live in total surrender to Him. Believe Him, trust Him. Get serious about Jesus and your destiny! And though He does not explain Himself, He will reveal Himself.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Remember Lot's Wife

“Remember Lot’s wife”. - Luke 17:32

I read this verse at the most pivotal moment of my life- a moment where I found myself gradually drifting to the past. It comes unintentionally; when life’s circumstances seem to take preeminence over one’s relationship with Christ. As a result we find ourselves stagnant in our faith journey or even worse, reverting to familiar ways. In this blog, I hope to convey the message of remaining steadfast in the Lord; growing and moving forward with Him. And as usual, I will cite God’s word to emphasize the point I seek to make and also make use of examples from personal experience.

This year I began life in the working industry and it has been an entirely new experience for me coupled with joys and sorrows. A major transformation that I encountered was how my relationship with God seemed to go downhill. I found myself being preoccupied with the demands of the working life and having to juggle the balance between work and leisure. In the midst of it all with the stage I’m currently in, I got pressure (both internal and external) to look into getting married and building a family life. I live in a decent place- a three bedroom house which always made me imagine how it would be like to have someone of the opposite sex keep me company. It just didn’t feel right at my age, assuming that I’m responsible and mature to be waiting for…what exactly?

Being hungry for love and emotional fulfillment opened the door for the Devil to return my past lovers on my path. The devil always tempts us with what we are most hungry for. He tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread (Matthew 4:3) because he knew that Jesus was hungry for food after fasting forty days and forty nights. Two exes whom I was both “crazy” about in the past contacted me at around the same time. It felt good to talk to them; I didn’t feel that I was doing anything wrong; “we’re just talking”. But the more I talked to them, the more they used language that made me desire to return to my past. I was just hungry to hear the words, “Babe, I miss you, thinking of you, I wanna marry you, I want us to make babies” and that’s exactly what I was getting. Yet at the same time I felt my integrity being compromised and that’s what I need for guidance. As proverbs 11:3a says, “The integrity of the upright guides them”. If I lose my intergrity, I minimize the chance of being guided in the right path. 

One of the exes and I were making serious plans for his visit when one day I decided to just kneel and pray about it. I remember that evening so vividly. I came to God just as I was, with my sins, my passion for the world, my desire for my ex and I said to Him, “Daddy, if he’s not the one for me remove him out of my life”. That same night when I went to bed as customary we began chatting. After stating that he might “fall for my sister” I stated my expectations; that I don’t want a man that I should share with other women. As a matter of fact here’s how the conversation transpired:

I was wasting my time, fingers, and data telling him the kind of life partner I would like to have. I had always liked him and now he was saying how he wants to marry me and give me children and stuff, so in my hunger I thought that something might work out between us. Stating my expectations made him insinuate that I’m psycho and he bid me farewell to wait for what he could not be; a faithful man. Intense pressure was released off my chest, God had answered my prayer and I never looked back!

When we continuously look back we fail to perceive the beautiful and new things God wants us to experience. Most times He’s pulling us to His level, to show us what could be…but we remain indignant because we only know what has been. We are familiar with taking short cuts and bearing painful consequences because God’s standards are difficult to implement and foreign to the world around us. When you live according to the standard of the Word you become classified as psycho, your standards are just too high. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been told that I will never find a man because of my “crazy standards”.  And when I’m alone in my empty three bed-room house it gets to me- like, what exactly am I waiting for?

This made me restless for a time until I read this verse from Galatians 5:7, “You were running a good race. Who cut on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” I felt that the Holy Spirit was personally asking me this question. I was reminded of my contentment in the Lord while still in varsity, how I used to run for Him and not really bothered by many things. What had happened? I had now taken pride in my achievements. Instead of waiting on the Lord, I waited on my next pay check. Instead of boasting in Him, I boasted in how many people were showing interest in me. Instead of looking forward, I was looking backwards. The temptation to abandon our faith and live according to the sinful nature will never cease as long as we keep entertaining the past. God is calling us to a higher life; we should understand that there is no victory in compromise. Living for the Lord is a matter of faith, of trusting in the goodness and faithfulness and trustworthiness of God to meet our every need. Psalm 145:14 says, “The eyes of all look upon Him and He gives them their food at the proper time.” We will miss our food if we keep looking back at the past.

During the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his family were commanded to “flee for their lives, and not look back, or they will be swept away” (Genesis19:17) but Lot’s wife disobeyed. She looked back and as a result became a pillar of salt! What a paradox that when we look back we lose our saltiness, our ability to reach out to our world. I saw this with me when I had lost my passion and desire to spend time with God but always anticipated other things. God in His mercy brought this verse to my attention which I still ponder and meditate upon:  “Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”(Luke17:32-33).  As we abandon our lives to the Lord, lose the worldly ideals we secretly cherish, and remain steadfast in the Lord we will become truly alive! 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Gospel that Delivers

In a previous Blog, Do Not Settle, I mentioned briefly about a guy I allowed in my life because of being physically attracted to him.  In this blog I will delve deeper into describing the type of relationship that existed between us, the lesson I learned from our encounter, and how God powerfully delivered me by His love.

This guy came into existence after I had vowed not to be sexually intimate with any man other than my husband. Not knowing then that the decisions we make will always be tested, I entertained him- his dirty jokes and strong sexual advances on me. The fact that he was physically attractive was not helping either, it seemed as if cupid had just placed the type of guy I had always envisioned to have right at my door step! He pursued me consistently and during that time it felt great! The “great” feeling however stopped as soon as we got physical.  He then started to reveal information about his girlfriend and all the other girls he’s had in his life. One moment he’d make me feel like he truly wants me the next he’d tell me that he’s getting married real soon and I should do the same. I would lie on bed after we fornicated and he would talk on the phone with his girlfriend telling her how much he loves her. He would reveal how he impregnated other girls or how he hurt this other one or even how girls would fight for him. He would tell me how he could have every girl around our student place, naming all the pretty girls one by one, and tell me that he chose me instead. This was during the time I was getting confused about the concept of Christianity. What we did felt good and he would always assure me that what we were doing was not wrong. That’s when I began to feel the overarching theme of those who’ve renounced Christ; that I had been bound from enjoying my life to the full by an imaginary Supreme Being.

Settling for such a low life was not right and I knew it but it was difficult to stop simply because psychologically this is the person I am supposed to spend the rest of my life with. I remember how at a session with a psychologist I cried, “But he’s the guy I’ve always wanted.” The psychologist’s response was, “Is he really? When he makes you feel so sad and takes you away from your purpose?” I was determined then to stop being blinded by physical appearance and good sex and finally got the courage to finally heed Jesus’ command from Mathew 7:6 that I should not give dogs what is sacred or throw my pearls to pigs. Because If I do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear me to pieces”.  When I found helpful ways to leave him he was very angry and called me foul names, saying how I can never compare to his good girlfriend! Everything just felt like drama and was beyond my comprehension! Despite that incident I still could not stop myself from going to him; I was so weak and so desperately wanted him to see that I was not that cheap woman he perceived me to be. So I went to him, made him food, baked muffins for him and his friends, offered him my expensive tea, tried being the “perfect” girl in his eyes but regardless of my deeds he could never see me in that way. I had given my pearls, God’s image in me, His purity to the pigs and as a result I was falling into pieces. I knew what the outcome would be eventually, I knew that I should not give “my pearls to the pigs”, I knew my value or worth as God’s child, but I still could not stop. Then I began being transparent with the Body of Christ about my sin and in a matter of time God powerfully delivered me. Ignoring the relentless pursuits to repent in private almost drove me into insanity but God was gracious enough to put me back again- even stronger.

Transparency is the key to deliverance. We will not enjoy the Christian life if we are holding on to the pleasures of sin. Being transparent about our short-comings demonstrates that we are crying out for help, that we don't enjoy living a double life. Hiding our sin is walking in darkness, but bringing it to the light shows that we are walking with God, because God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. The Bible says in 1 John 1 :7, "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." This is the basis of the Christian life. 

So what Gospel do we preach to the many women I represent, “who know their worth” but can’t deliver themselves from sin?  Do we condemn those whom in blindness keep running back to the same men who devalue them?  Do we misunderstand those who unconsciously believe that they are not worthy of being loved hence they settle for a low life?  What Gospel do we preach to women who “have it all together”, have a high self-esteem, excelling in worldly achievements, offering tithes and actively participating in Church activities, but with souls wearied down by fornication which takes away their image? The Gospel of compassion as demonstrated by Jesus in his interaction with the woman caught in adultery; the Gospel of forgiveness when he uttered” Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”. The Gospel of Christ in it's entirety states that we are all wretched sinners in need of a Savior, and that Savior is the Son of God who died for all our sins. His blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness and gives us a right standing with God. There is no good in us except in God. Faith in His Son Jesus Christ gives us confidence and freedom to approach Him, not our good works which are like filthy rags in His sight. The Gospel that saves is one of grace, of forgiveness of sins, of repentance, and of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Wise as Serpents, Humble as Doves

In my first few days of being newly appointed at work I met a male colleague who like everybody else in this town showed interest in me. He came across as genuine. He usually invited me to have lunch at his office and offered to drop me off at my place after work. In our conversations he always urged me to visit him at his place, so to return his kind gestures on one particular day I agreed. When we got to his place he offered me custard and food which I thankfully received. When he was done eating he closed the door, took off his shirt and trousers, and lay on his bed scrolling through the television channels. I was gob smacked by the whole scenario my heart pacing yet externally remained calm. 

After a while he came over to me attempting to kiss me but I refused, he nagged that we sit on his bed together and watch a movie but I told him that I needed to leave. It began raining heavily and I felt like I was trapped in that room! He pulled me forcefully to his bed trying to rub his hands all over me. He tried by all means to get his hands in my private area but I sternly opposed him, pushing him backwards and spitting on his face. This went on for some time until I helplessly laid there, listening to his annoying sounds, his sweat dropping on my face as he dry humped me. I had never been able to resist in such a situation so at that moment I felt like just giving it up so that he could leave me alone. That familiar emotion of the past emerged so I felt dirty, I felt like men will never see me as someone worthy of love but an object to be used, I was tempted to just give it up. Women desire love, they want to be desired too. And sometimes when they have sex with a man who sexually desires them they believe that they will retain their worth in his eyes. However, that’s hardly the case. As Helen Andelin stated, “No man appreciates sex which can be had so readily. It is simply too cheap.”

Several times in the process I felt like letting my guard off, feeling that it’s almost over let me just give him what he wants but I knew I would be left feeling undignified and unworthy.  After he got tired or climaxed- I took my bags and walked in the rain, walked right ahead to the backseat of his car without looking or talking to him. We always give such men the benefit of the doubt thinking that their good deeds are ways to seek friendship but they have ulterior motives. They equate sex to the price of custard. Martin Luther King stated that, “Jesus recognized that his disciples would face a difficult and hostile world. He knew that they would meet cold and arrogant men whose hearts had been hardened by the long winter of traditionalism. So he said to them, “Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves”. And he gave them a formula for action: “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” In the modern age I see a need for women to take heed of this command and put it to action because we will meet self-seeking, immature sexual predators whose manhood is measured by the number of women they have slept with.  He attempted to contact me several times so I prayed about it and asked God to give me wisdom on how to handle it. On the one hand I’m looking at the fact that he is a child of God who really does not know what he’s doing, and on the other I am disgusted by what he did. So I found a way to be polite while making it clear that I wanted nothing to do with him. He sent a message saying, “Ma’m I’m sorry if I did anything wrong, it’s just that I love you so much.” Love is patient and kind, it is not self-seeking yet people want to use us and claim that it’s love, what a distorted view! I replied, “I am very disappointed at what you did, from now onward I will have no contact with you, and I hope you’ll respect that.” That meant that I was losing the free ride from work every day, but it was okay, I won’t compromise myself for convenience.

The following day when I saw him at work I was frightened for some reason. He was laughing with other colleagues, talking, just being so pretentious about who he really is, or maybe that’s who he is but I chose not to see the real him. A day later he didn’t pitch for work. Days went on without me seeing him until in the staff room the principal made us aware that two of our foreign teachers (which is him and another teacher) have not been permitted to carry on working in the school by the department. I didn’t know how to feel, excited that he’s gone, or sad that my other colleague won’t have the means to survive with no work. The principal said that he would try by all means to get them back to work but eventually the department would have to decide. A couple of weeks after we’ve given up on them to come back to school I see the other teacher at work, so I asked what he was doing at school. He said that he had come back to work. “What about Mr so and so”, (asking about that colleague who tried to have sex with me) and he said he knew nothing about him. We’re already in the fourth month of the year and to this day he has never returned to work. This incident showed me that God always protects His daughters who can’t speak up for themselves, what’s even more He makes them courageous to be able to stand up for themselves! God fights for His daughters even when earthly fathers make them feel that it’s their fault that they are being abused or when they don’t even bother to take measures against perpetrators- He takes that responsibility upon Himself.

God’s love enabled me to receive a new identity. I am no longer that scared little girl (even in my mind as an adult) who seeks validation from men. I’m no longer looking to my earthly parents to protect me from harmful men because I have a heavenly Father who gladly does so but I'm required to play my role by applying wisdom. Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. The verse from Isaiah 2:22 resonate deeply with me because it says, “Stop trusting in man, who is but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” I believe that being wise as a serpent yet harmless as a dove means setting protective boundaries for yourself, removing any person in your life whose agenda is just to misuse you, and being wise about the kind of persons you allow in your life. Have mental strength and at the same time be tender-hearted. Love yourself enough to say no to the people or situations that force you to compromise your salvation.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Surrender Your Dreams

My year did not turn out as I had planned and expected it to.  As far as I am concerned I should be in University carrying on with my studies but here I am, in the workplace, and not the workplace I always envisioned myself to be in. I teach in a High school with a roll of learners double the size of a normal school because it’s the only public High School in the area. It consists of learners who come from adverse circumstances and extremely poor backgrounds. Discipline is difficult to enforce because most of the learners are much older for their grade or to still be in school for that matter. The first time I entered a classroom of 84 learners they mumbled among themselves that “they are being taught by children.”  In most cases you’ll find learners bored, chewing bubblegum with their hands on their chin looking at you as if they have no clue on what you’re on about. English is a huge challenge as most learners in the school have not been exposed to it. As an English Teacher, it creates a platform to render change, but the circumstances are extremely difficult it would need me to hold God’s hand and partner with Him.

The desire for change drives me on, but it wasn’t that way in the first few weeks. The environment was so different, and the people so bizarre from what I knew and I constantly found myself angry at how God would just allow me to be in such a place.  There is no Gym, there is no Church (CRC), it’s a one-street town…what in the world am I doing here!!? Despair brought me constantly to my knees and without realizing it, my relationship and dependence upon God was growing stronger. In the midst of everything I received phone calls and messages from friends, from people in the Church, my leaders which was of tremendous encouragement. When I told one friend of mine about my situation he encouraged me that I was at the right place. He explained how as Christians we tend to feel entitled to “great” things and it’s not wrong because we were created for greatness. However, what we deem as great might not be great in God’s eyes.  As scripture says, “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” (Luke16:15).

My friend’s encouragement allowed me to perceive my current circumstance in a different light. From waking up with a grumpy attitude believing that I was too great to be in that school, I now wake up with enthusiasm and joy and I partner with God. The circumstances in my school are too huge for me that I would have to decrease and allow God to show forth His glory, greatness, and power. All He needs is an available instrument and I’m willing. Isaiah 1:19 says, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land”. It doesn’t matter what land it is, whether small or big, because God is still God in a small place.

This brings to mind the issue of not being able to attend Church regularly. I thought my spiritual life would deteriorate with no weekly fellowship but I read of how Daniel from the Bible maintained his spiritual fervor even with odds against him. EM Bound states that “even though Daniel was away from the house of God and deprived of religious privileges, he did not forget God while he was in a foreign land. He is a striking illustration of a young man who was decidedly religious under the most unfavorable circumstances. He proved conclusively that one could definitely be a servant of God though his environment was anything but religious. He was among heathens as far as a God-fearing nation was concerned. There was no temple worship, no Sabbath day, no Word of God to be read. But he had one help that remained with him, and of which he could not be deprived. That was his secret prayers, and his assurance that God would answer him.” Daniel’s example impacted my life significantly. I might not be able to attend church every Sunday, but I have the Holy Spirit, I have the Word of God, and most importantly I have His listening ear.

Jesus has become my best friend, and I guess He’s using this season of my life to draw me closer to Him. I don’t have access to many things but I am not deprived of the things that truly matter such as love, joy, peace, and righteousness. At one time I received a phone call from a principal to go teach English at her middle class school, but I had already started working in my school. That was an opportunity for me to run to a modernized environment but when I prayed about it I felt the peace of God that I was at the right place.  So, I rejected the principal’s offer.  I am at the right place because to bring change in my school requires me to step back and allow God to shine through. Difficult circumstances bring forth God’s glory. What is a testimony without a test? I am in the right place because I’m in an impoverished area where learners are in need of a miracle, and the miracle is Jesus in me the hope of Glory. I pray continuously that God’s purposes will be fulfilled with me being here and I pray that I will leave this place empty, having used my every potential.

I am not where I dream to be but I am where God wants me to be, and that is so fulfilling! It feels like the will of God. I’m learning to abandon my dreams and walk in faith regardless of whether circumstances resemble the dream that I had for my life or not. Life is not as easy as it previously used to be back in the years but God shows His faithfulness by continuously comforting, encouraging, providing, strengthening, and revealing Himself to me. Attaining our dreams is not proof that we are in God’s will but being able to surrender them is a sure sign of spiritual maturity. “Jesus said to his disciples, if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mathew 16:24). And His words are still relevant today. 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Do Not Settle

This blog is special to me as I’ve put much thought and prayer preceding its publishing.  With an unclear picture on how to begin and how to arrange the words in a way that will help you extract meaning, I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me as I write whilst enlightening you as you read.

Continuing sharing the lessons I learned in 2016, I would like to share my experience with two guys I allowed in my life last year. One was very good with words which impressed me a lot! I was also fascinated by the fact that he came across as someone who respects women since he never made forceful sexual advances on me. I place much emphasis on this because from an early age life taught me that my body was just an object to be used so even in adulthood I had difficulties turning off relentless sexual advances. Seeing that he considered me as a life partner and not just for momentary bliss was very impressive to me.

The second guy had the physical qualities that I find attractive in a man; tall, muscular, deep voice, and to top that up studying what I consider a prestigious course. Despite all that, our communication was non-existent therefore we seldom enjoyed spending time together. His intense interest in me was overwhelming considering the attraction I had for him, and besides I never experienced persuasion from men in his caliber (you know everyone has their “type”). Not knowing how to handle the attention, I found myself blushing, giggling, and enjoying his advances.

These guys both had qualities that I like in a man. One was wise and the other one was physically attractive. However, both of them led me away from the Lord with one questioning and challenging my beliefs and the other leading me to fornication.  There was a constant battle between my flesh and my spirit which caused prolonged states of sorrow, regular visits to a psychologist, doubts about my salvation, and thoughts of ways to exit this world. All this took place because I had settled.

Many reasons come to the surface as I explore why I had settled but the core reason was the belief that I am not worthy of love. I settled because I was not accustomed to having a man relentlessly pursue me. Saying “no” would feel like betrayal, I mean, they’re showing interest in me after all. Who shows interest in me with my past always crippling me to think low of myself? When I’ve had men whom at best, tolerated me and at worst made me feel unworthy of love.  Who shows interest in someone who fears that “no man will ever love her because she is fat”? Who shows interest in someone who’s told she’s “clingy”, to “go find his father”, that “her laugh is annoying” or her “fingers are too small therefore not even marriage material”.  Who shows interest in an awkward being who feels that men are doing her a favor when they pursue her? Guilt and fear kept me in a state of always settling, until I learned to embrace my new identity which I wrote about in my previous blog.

I’m currently living in a very small town and to my shock literally everyone around me seems to be showing interest in me. Had I not gone through the experience of having those two guys in my life and the consequences thereof, the shock would have led me to settling once again. I would find myself at the end of the year disgracefully counting the number of guys I gave myself to simply because they smiled at me or called me “beautiful” or “baby”. I would be flattered by their chocolates and their balloons and their empty Shakespearean sonnets not knowing that having a life partner is based solely on purpose, vision, and spiritual agreement.

2016 taught me that people know what they want and if you are perplexed about your identity or destiny, you will become an object that they’ll trample on to get what they want. We should possess the confidence to set our standards according to God’s Word and not allow temporary loneliness or fleeting compliments cause us to settle. There are many more Christians who are waiting on God in this regard. Mere interest from the opposite sex doesn’t necessarily mean we should respond, let them all line up and wait until you are peaceful about entering a relationship.

Don’t allow anyone too close to you with a flattering tongue but their actions say something else. Avoid people who are just looking for an opportunity to fornicate with you as this will prevent you from experiencing joy, righteousness and peace in your spiritual walk. Most importantly, refrain from entertaining those who bluntly oppose the Gospel of Christ with their limited worldly wisdom which is foolishness to God, as this will place in a state of confusion. Purpose in your heart whom you will serve. I have decided to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and I will not waver from my decision regardless of what comes my way. He has graciously blessed me with the faith that one day I will meet him face to face, and this is my highest hope and joy in life. I hope I will find that I have laid treasures for myself in heaven when I hear His precious Words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”


Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Embrace A New Identity

In our newly appointed days my colleagues and I hung out one afternoon. Call me boring but I feel the need to talk only when it’s necessary. We get ourselves into unnecessary trouble sometimes by talking non-stop. So, my colleagues were chatting about their personal lives and their relationships. I just listened, gave a glance and a nod there and there until one of them asked, “What about you Tiisetso? Are you in a relationship?” I replied by saying, “No, I’m not seeing anyone at the moment.” I further explained that I believe that relationships should be taken seriously and beside the point, I am totally enjoying my singlehood and still want to make the most of it. From that day onwards I was told that one of my colleagues is offended by virtually everything I say or do, she analyses everything I say or do and finds a way to turn it into a bad thing so that everyone sees it in that way. What made me laugh and still does though, is the fact that someone formulated a story that I’m a virgin and think I’m better because of that. Like I said in my previous blog (Validation comes from God alone) I wouldn’t really know who the culprit behind all this is.

In 2016, I found myself being extremely transparent about my past in ways I had never been before. Although my motive was that people saw that Jesus really saves lives, on my own however, I usually felt that perhaps I was acting like a victim seeking sympathy. My other motive was that people understand me; that I am what I am today and behave the way I do because of the life I once lived- not knowing that this was the exact thought that kept me from embracing my God-given identity.

When I heard that my colleagues had concluded that I’m a virgin I felt the need to explain myself to them. I always refrain from trying to portray a “big” picture of myself to people and because of that I always feel the need to outline my past in order for them to not have any misconceptions about the real me. That is tantamount to false humility. If I continue bringing up my past but quote the verse from 2Corinthians 5:17, yet not believing fully what it says then I’m a hypocrite. The verse says that if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away and the new has come. Lamenting over my past mistakes and misfortunes is an indication of unbelief in God’s Word, that I don’t truly believe that He has given me a new identity.

When my colleague told me about the other colleague who got offended that “I’m a virgin and a snob” I attempted to interfere a couple of times to explain that I am not a virgin but she would not give me a chance to speak. I was able to pause and use that moment as an opportunity to embrace my God-given identity. I saw myself as a new person, unstained by immorality, sexually pure. The moment I embraced my new identity, everyone else saw me in that way.

Those in my neighbourhood, and my colleagues; though they don’t like me respect me. After almost five years of being saved I am finally able to stand up to any man in whom wrong, impure intentions lurks. I am no longer ashamed or fearful that people who know my past will capitalize on my mistakes and use me in an unfair advantage. I am no longer worried that my past still has a hold on me and from any moment now I could fall into fornication because I’ve finally embraced my new identity. Coming to think of it, I spent my entire salvation trying to be “humble” by pulling myself down and keeping myself in fear because of hanging on to the old me, well gone are those days! If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old is gone and the new has come. I’ve come to believe His Word. I do agree with my colleagues that indeed I am a virgin, pure and spotless in the precious eyes of my Saviour.
Now that you've read my story, I would like to hear yours. Have you any struggles fully believing that God has supernaturally removed your old life of sin and graciously granted you the gift of a new identity? Please share!!

Friday, 17 February 2017

Validation Comes From God Alone

Last year (2016) seemed like a tough year for me. Little did I know that it was preparing me for the new-year, and my new life in the workplace. In this blog, I will share briefly on my adjustment as a professional teacher, and the lesson (Validation comes from God alone) 2016 has taught me. 
The area and community in which I live in is totally different from the one I lived in as an undergraduate. Living with a certain type of people for a long period of time , and getting accustomed to their way of life and their character gives one expectations of what to expect as  a norm from everyone. However, it’s not so in the “real world”.

Just like in any other workplace, as a newly appointed staff, I experienced unexpected harsh behavior from one of my colleagues. Apparently she goes around demeaning my character, calling me a snob, and finding fault with everything I say or do. If she finds me talking with someone she would just interfere and call the other person “friend” in an attempt to isolate me. It is also apparent that I am always preoccupying her mind because in the middle of conversations with other colleagues my name never cease to pop out of her lips! I wouldn’t know though how true this is…perhaps the other college who always feels the need to update me about such could be the one fabricating lies. I really wouldn’t know.

That’s what’s puzzling about the whole situation. Why would people display such behavior towards someone they rarely know? The love of Jesus and His Church has filled my heart to an extent that I strive to see the best in every human being. Through His love I learned to be more loving, patient, and kind to those around me and that is what I was expecting from my colleagues. When I learned that it’s not so I was reminded of where I used to be before Christ saved me - in a position of weakness. It has always comforted me to know that no one ever brings down another person from a position of strength. I recalled that the times I gossiped about others, said or done something hurtful to them was always because I was intimidated or threatened by them. Inner turmoil, discontentment, depression, jealousy were all the result of being in a weak position mentally and spiritually. So it helps tremendously in striving to be more gracious and patient towards those who display such character.

The experiences I had in 2016 played a vital role in getting me to this point. I experienced feelings of rejection and misunderstanding in a way I never had before. I was hurt by the constructive criticism and the boundaries set by those around me, I am thankful though that it was from people in the Church because I believe that their core motive was love. Sometimes we can be so childish, so selfish, so demanding failing to truly love or respect other people’s boundaries. We tend to love them based on how they can serve us or fulfill our wishes, call them “good people” yet change our confession as soon as they begin to set protective boundaries. For a time being it was difficult to understand the constant “no’s” from those around me not knowing that those times were preparing me for life in the workplace, where everyone is looking only to their own needs.

Had I not experienced those seemingly difficult times I would be hurt by my colleagues’ behavior towards me. I would probably be running behind them trying to buy friendship! I would have not known what it means to seek validation from God alone. Those times weaned me off of people's approval. If I could not find validation from the Church then I wouldn't want to look for it in the world. The experiences I had in 2016 taught me not to place my identity on other people regardless of who they are. I learned no matter how prominent a leader, the only one to be followed is the Lord. Those experiences taught me to live peaceably with others, loving them regardless of our differences. I view my colleagues from that position and by God’s grace I can kneel and cry out to the Savior on their behalf. 

Have you ever experienced difficulties from colleagues in the workplace? How did/ do you handle it? Please share!!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Your New Identity in Christ

Being a committed follower of Christ for well over four years now has been such an enriching lifetime experience! I have learned and still learning a lot about my identity. Identity- something that has been a struggle my entire life even in my new life with Christ. When I look back at my life not to feel pity for myself but to fathom the grace of God if I can; upon a wretched sinner; I realize that nothing in my past life could have been something to boast of as an element suitable to render a stable identity. My life matches with the reality of scripture from 1 Corinthians 1: 26-29, “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things- and the things that are not- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

Paul continues to say, “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God- that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.” This verse introduces aspects of our identity in Christ. It continues to say that if we should boast, our boasting can only be in the Lord. This is seldom our reality as Christians however because we tend to boast in things other than Christ. While the world boasts on its class, its gender, its education, and its its skin color; thus promoting inhumanity such as racism, pride, and division; Christians tend to boast in the works of Christianity. Most sincere Christians find themselves falling constantly in the sin of sexual immorality and it could be the result of boasting in their sexual purity. We need to learn that although God has redeemed us from sexual sin we cannot boast in our purity because we can fall at any given time. So let him who boasts boast in the Lord.

Much confusion takes place in a Christian’s life when what gives him identity is not congruent with his hopes and aspirations. Let me give a personal example. In my new life with Christ many good things took place. I began excelling in my academics, living in chastity, eating right and giving my body the exercise it needs. I also began forming relationships with other members in the Body of Christ who gave me love and acceptance. Time and time again I find my identity resting upon the above rather than in God. If my path of chastisement is hindered by unexpected sexual sin then my foundation gets shaky. If I discover that I've put on weight, my foundation gets shaky. If I feel unloved or misunderstood by others in Church, then my foundation gets shaky. Be sure that when  Jesus is not a sure foundation of your identity you are standing on shaky ground. Listen to what these words say from Jeremiah 9:23 “This is what the Lord says: Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.”

Our identity cannot come from our past- there is nothing to boast of; it cannot come from our dreams- they are fleeting. It cannot come from people’s validation- we are imperfect. When you take time to read and study the word of God you will get a glimpse of what your identity is. Many people go to church on Sundays but there is a difference between those who know their identity in Christ and those who don't. Many are sincere in their love for Christ but they wonder why they are not progressing in their spiritual walk or why they find themselves unable to resist the Devil. The answer is in God's Word. The devil doesn't mind you being involved in much activity just as long as you don't open your Bible. He wants to deceive you and lead you in a life that is not full of victory; yet in Christ we are victorious. There is so much mind-blowing truth in the word of God which I have discovered and come to believe in these four years with Christ.

We should no longer accept the lies of the Devil. Many times I find myself living as a victim accepting the voices of negativity that still echo from the past. The lies that I will never amount to anything, I was born to struggle, I'm stupid, I was not meant to get married, I have a strong demon, the lies that I am Jezebel looking for men when I hop from one church to another, the lie that I'm passive. The lies that I was born to be obese, that I'm ugly, that I was picked from a train. The memories of my body being used as public property still linger on my mind, that I am of no worth, that it's okay to allow myself to be used by people because I don't want to hurt them. I still feel the humiliation, the neglect, the shame. I feel afraid sometimes yet God's Word reminds me that I should not fear because He is with me. The precious Word of God is the word of comfort and hope, the word of light and truth, and the word that refreshes the soul. It is the Word that is pure and perfect, that is trustworthy, right, and radiant. This word is firm, it is more precious than gold, more sweeter than honey from the honey-comb! Believing in this word gives a great reward! When I study my bible and  listen to my pastor preach I sense a new light of hope, I begin learning and accepting who I truly am: 

God’s child.
Christ’s friend.
United with the Lord and in one spirit with him.
Bought with a price, I belong to God,
A member of Christ’s body.
Redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Complete in Christ.
Free from condemnation.
Assured that all things work together for my good.
Not separated from the love of God.
Confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected.
God’s co-worker.
A temple of God.
A citizen of heaven.
Established, anointed, and sealed by God.
Hidden with Christ.

We can get rid of anxiety, fear, and worries when we begin to study the Bible which reveals our identity. Our identity is not found in our church attendance or the Church we go to. It is not found in our physical appearance, our accomplishments, our mistakes, or even the love we receive from others. My identity is not in my academics or my weight loss. It is not in people's acceptance or understanding of me. My identity is not in my writing or the many times people view my blog. My identity comes from my new life in Christ and I am thankful to the Lord for revealing this truth to me. 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Today I will

An extract taken from Marie Chapian's book- How To Be Happy In An Unhappy World. 

·         Today I will be happy. I will be happy with myself, my work, and my endeavors. I will be happy with what I have and where I am.

·         Today I will not try to change the world to fit my demands and expectations. I will be at peace with the world and the people around me.

·         Today I will bless my body by exercising, eating nutritiously, and declining the temptation to neglect my health.

·         Today I will discover something new and interesting. I will do this by studying, reading, observing, or listening. I will record on paper at least one thing that I discover today.

·         Today I will do something good for someone else. I’ll try to do it so they don’t know I was the one who did it. I will be a channel of blessing for someone today because I am a giver.

·         Today I will look as good as I can and be glad about it. I will dress thoughtfully and carry myself with dignity.

·         Today I will not find fault or criticize one person, I will not try to change anyone against their will. Today I will live this day only and not try to conquer all of life at once.

·         Today I will make a plan for myself. I will schedule my hours and not allow my enemies, rush, and indecision, to overwhelm my precious time.

·         Today I will give myself the right to make mistakes, to be imperfect and still feel good. Today I will not be led by my mis-beliefs. Today I will believe I am worthy of being loved.

·         Today I won’t put two things in the same area of space. I won’t put doubt and faith in the same heart.

·         Today I will be an example to everyone I meet. I can be happy in an unhappy world.