Sunday, 29 October 2017

Abiding in The Love of Christ

Two girls possessed a letter which one of my colleagues got a hold of. He brought the letter to our office, read it aloud to us as we all laughed in mockery. In the letter, the girls friend, fourteen years old, apologized to a boy for not being worthy enough for him. She was sorry that she doesn’t wear makeup and that she’s not perfect, yet the overarching theme was the yearning of being loved by the boy. She’s only 14! She reminded me of my childhood years when all I knew was to run behind boys and beg for their love. She reminded me also, of my late teens and early twenties when I sought the love of men through indecent behavior. Feeling void of love can cause us to do crazy things, for not only is this girl and I seeking love but the masses out there. I’m certain it would come as a shock to many that God is also seeking love, our love.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”- Mark 12:30

The Bible states that men and women have been created in God’s image. John and Stasi Eldredge describe this phenomenon in an interesting way in one of their books, CAPTIVITING. They stated that being created in the image of God, both male and female reveal the mystery of God’s image. Since the men are bigger built, they portray the strength, power, and protectiveness of God. In contrast women portray the vulnerability of God in seeking love; in being warm and inviting, in being care takers, and in showing wrath and jealousy over their lover. It is stated in Exodus 20:3-5 that God said to His people that “They should have no other gods before him. They should not make for themselves idols in the form of anything. They should not bow down to them or worship them, because He is a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers of those who hate Him, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.”
Wouldn’t you agree that the same aspect described above reveals aspects of the female character? Women tend to get jealous when they feel that their partners are giving someone priority over them. Some reveal fury and wrath when they become second best to their lover. However, when most women are loved accordingly they cultivate the love. They extend mercy and grace towards their imperfect lover. They go all out and invest much in the love they’re in.

When I was in a relationship earlier this year, most of the time I was not receiving the love and affirmation I needed from a lover. The time I was supposed to feel more loved was the time I felt more alone, insecure, and unhappy. Fortunately, by the help of the Holy Spirit I learned to seek the love I so desired in spending time with God. In those early mornings, I began to experience contentment, validation, and strength from the Lord even when I wasn’t getting it elsewhere. I also learned that He delighted in hearing me express my love for Him. The same love I needed was the same love He wanted from me. In abiding in pure, reciprocal love, the early mornings in prayer which I continue to this day became a symphony.

The love that fourteen-year old girl is seeking can only be founding in abiding in the love of Christ. Only His love can fill the void of insecurity, invalidation, and discontentment we experience. He desires to lavish love into our weary and broken hearts but we don’t care to make time for Him. We are busy scrolling through our television channels all day; busy scrolling through our phones…we place other things and people (gods) as a priority to Him. We make time to seek love by writing letters, offering our bodies, and sacrificing our time and energy in people or things that mock our need for love.

The result of abiding in Christ’s love is phenomenal! It is seen in the character of an individual. The shame and weaknesses have been removed and is now clothed in strength and dignity. In His love our foolishness is being covered by an outpouring of heavenly wisdom. Oh, let’s talk of that remarkable beauty!? The stench of sin is removed by His love as He rubs of His remarkable beauty on us. Nothing could ever replace the value of abiding in the love of Christ!

Abiding in the love of Christ enables us to have a place in society. We are not cast off. We are not damned. We are given another chance, we are strengthened. We discover that some of our acts of rebellion and disobedience to God’s word stem from the throbbing need for intimacy. And the Spirit of God teaches us that intimacy can be found in the indescribable and unending love of Jesus. We learn that we don’t need to beg for affection when we can freely attain it in His presence. He teaches us true love. Love for self and love for Him. He allows us to experience something great- that only he alone satisfies, and “in ALL things we become more than conquerors through Christ who loves us!”(Romans8:37)

One thing that the enemy of our souls tries to disconnect s from is the love of God. We can get caught up in many things but when we miss Gods love we miss the essentials of the Christian life. When we experience His love we know how to respect and honor Him, we learn how to value ourselves and the gift of salvation HE has given us. We learn not to just give into the desires of the flesh. We learn that not abiding in His love will cost us our peace and contentment. The love of Christ changes and makes a great difference in us, it completes us, so it is essential that we never cease from abiding in it. Instead of begging people to love us, to see our worth, and to validate us, let us pursue Him. 

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Just For Today by Dale Carnegie

1.       Just for today I will be happy. This assumes that what Abraham Lincoln said is true, that most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. Happiness is from within; it is not a matter of externals.

2.       Just for today I will try to adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business, and my luck as they come and fit myself to them.

3.       Just for today I will take care of my body. I will exercise it, care for it, nourish it, not abuse it, or neglect it, so that it will be a perfect machine for my bidding.

4.       Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought, and concentration.

5.       Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways; I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do, as William James suggests, just for exercise.

6.       Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress as becomingly as possible, talk low, act courteously, be liberal with praise, criticize not at all, nor find fault with anything and not try to regulate nor improve anyone.

7.       Just for today I will try to live through this day only, not to tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do things for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to keep them up for a lifetime.

8.       Just for today I will have a program. I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests, hurrying and indecision.

9.       Just for today I will have a quiet half-hour all by myself and relax. In this half-hour sometimes I will think of God, so as to get a little more perspective into my life.

10.   Just for today I will be unafraid, especially I will not be afraid to be happy, to enjoy what is beautiful, to love, and to believe that those I love, love me.

Monday, 25 September 2017

The Toxic Nature of Counterfeit Love (PART 6)

It was so difficult. He wanted me, I wanted him but it could not work because the trust between us was broken. He was afraid that I would put him on an emotional roller coaster by constantly dumping him and I was afraid that he would not love me the way I needed to be loved. I was skeptical of the fruit of our relationship. This brings me to the last nature of toxic people; they’re not bad people but they’re hurt. There was a time when he introduced me to someone as his “police friend” (although it was something we schemed together) only later to discover that his ex who had a child with someone else is a police woman. I felt that he was carrying the hurt he experienced through their relationship into all his relationships and he was just looking for something or someone to replace his ex. And in the process, he was hurting people. Toxic people are hurt, and hurt people hurt people. They’re not willing to deal with the painful experiences they endured, like take maybe a year’s off from dating, but would rather jump from one person to another and in most cases the infatuation of counterfeit love quickly fades. Toxic people can be healed and it does not mean that they are evil. It just means that they need to pour out their hurt at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to fix them. These kinds of people will leave an imprint in your heart that leaves you searching for answers, and the reality is, you’ll never get the answers because they also don’t know why they do what they do. You’ll just have to be patient enough to wait on God to reveal why you had to go through what you did in due time.

How do I know this? Because I once was toxic. I was broken and hurt by all the evil experiences I had gone through by the cruelty of other people’s choices. I went on social media and picked people to give me affirmation and validation. If I got tired of this one, I would move on to the next. I would be so careless in my sexuality all at the expense of counterfeit love. I would confuse people in my conversations and not really connect with them because I had a distorted view of reality. Everything was all about me. I went to church and sat in the front seat praying the loudest in tongues but on weekends I was getting drunk, smoking weed, and willfully fornicating. I was okay with a double standard life. Until I came to the feet of Jesus on 15 April 2012 and I surrendered all my hurt to Him. He gave me a new nature, and now though I fall, I can never be comfortable with sin.

When I go through such experiences I have fear: am I cut out for true intimacy or do I just want too much for someone with a past like mine. I am caught in between the experiences of my past influencing me not to aim too high, and the calling of God to come up to a higher level. I’m like, how long will I continue to fall? Why do I feel so strong one moment and the next deep in the miry clay of sexual sin? But Jesus continues to call me to a story greater than what I could have written for myself. I feel so empty and broken but I’ve recommitted myself to trying again.

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope- the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”- Titus2:11-14 

This is the hope of the Gospel.

The Toxic Nature of Counterfeit Love (PART 5)

Later during the same day (Sunday after church) I was bored at home and missed him so I asked him if I could visit him and just chill. He said that he would love that! When I got to his place he had a glass of alcohol on the table and was drinking. I decided to keep quiet about it. I found him lying on the couch watching a movie so I joined in. He was so enthusiastic about the movie and I asked questions because I saw it interested him just so it could at least feel like we were communicating. 

After the movie he changed the channel to watch wrestling! I went on my phone and came across an article on how you’ll know that you were meant to be with someone. Tears were rolling down my face as I read. I was feeling so starved of love and affection, I was with him but feeling very lonely more than I had been when he was not in my life. I couldn’t bottle it up anymore so I stood up and asked him if he really does want to be with me. He sighed again in disappointment that I was starting again with my nagging. He wanted to find out why I had asked that. I told him because we don’t talk, that he was busy watching TV while I’m right there. He said, "Okay, what do you want to talk about?" I said, "I don't know...".  "You want to talk but you don't have anything to talk about?", he asked laughing. Toxic relationships make you feel like you are crazy, like you just don't know what you want. Why couldn’t we just communicate and be a normal couple?  I started crying, I could not help it as I expressed myself. “When I was single I was so happy, and I asked God for a partner.” I prayed about it, why was I not experiencing what I had prayed for? Had God forgotten me? Was this all a lie? Is this the testimony of grace that I would tell people for waiting on God for pure intimacy? I remembered his message at Church earlier about asking God for His kingdom to come on earth when we were facing challenges. So I got down on my knees and began praying about our relationship and for him- asking God for His kingdom to come in our relationship as it is in heaven. One thing I learned from the relationship is that being Christian does not mean we are going to have an easy life. After leaving my ex’s I was expecting God to give me a perfect partner. I thought that’s how it goes when you’re in the will of God; everything becomes so smooth since you had been waiting on Him. It’s the influence of social media…people mean good to share their stories and how God came through for them and we covet their experiences.

We fought so much about what seemed like the little things, but everything stemmed from the fact that he came to me with a bible but during the course of time his fruit revealed something else. I felt deceived and hurt. I dumped him all the time and he would come asking me back. He would tell me how I’m his life but would not treat me as such! He would fail to keep his promises, he would take long to respond to my messages and that gave me so much insecurity. On one evening we were supposed to have our bible study on video calling but he remained quiet. He had been with his friends that day so I assumed that he was still with his friends when I went to bed tired. The next day I asked him what had happened and he told me that he was extremely drunk that he didn’t even know how he got home. I laughed about it at least grateful that he had been honest with me. I asked him though why he was behaving like a teenager and he shut me off completely by saying that i was now insulting him! It happened again one evening that he didn’t keep his word on us having bible study. I sent him a whats-app text and realized that it got delivered but wasn’t read. During the course of the night the message was read and only the following day at around 8:30-09:00 a.m he responded saying that he fell asleep on the couch. That led me to dump him again because I was afraid to be led by someone who won’t keep his commitment to me on such seemingly small matters. I imagined him drunk or having another girlfriend from his church, fornicating, hence he could not even keep his word. I imagined a future with him as his wife constantly dissapointed that he didn't make it to important family matters because he had been drunk.

That was the final goodbye.

The Toxic Nature of Counterfeit Love (PART4)

One Sunday I asked to go to his Church with him, he was preaching there. It was a cold morning and I wore a dress and a winter cardigan (sort of a blanket). When I got in the car I felt like he was embarrassed by what I was wearing or something it was just in the way he looked at me. He even asked if it was that cold. I said, “Okay let me go change”. I got in the house took off the cardigan and wore something lighter. I could be reading much into this but he had a way of making me feel ugly, so low, unloved, and unappreciated. I just wanted him to see me, love me, and delight in me just like I did in him with his bright orange shirts.

We got at church and had to wait a while for the doors to be opened. While we waited in his car there was a bitter silence, he closed his eyes and leaned backwards on his seat. I could never penetrate through him; there was just no conversation whatsoever. The gestures of me holding his hands were met with no reciprocity. I thought maybe he’s not the type to show affection, but at least try to communicate about it?

As we entered the church after the long wait he said to me that he does not know where I’ll sit because he usually sits in the front. It felt like I was being rejected. Fortunately life had prepared me for such situations. He went to the front row and I sat behind him. As his woman, or even simpler, someone he invited to Church, I expected him invite me to sit with him. I tried to compose myself during the service reminding myself that I am here primarily to worship God. It was not easy though. Next to me was a lady sitting right behind him and they talked briefly and smiled and laughed with each other, it felt like I was not there, that I was not seen. As he preached I was so proud of him! His message was so humorous and powerful! He really seemed like the perfect pastor any girl would want to have! After the service, the congregation got into a line to hug him and the senior pastor of the Church, I guess it’s one of the rules of the Church. I followed them and he hugged me like I was just an ordinary person. I did not know what to make of this. He took me to his car and got back to the church as he had been called for a brief meeting. I felt that as my future husband he could have at least allowed me to be there if introducing me was a challenge.

As we drove back there were so many things I wanted to tell him but I just composed myself because I didn’t want to seem nagging. I complimented him on his message and how fortunate I am that I get to listen to him personally. He smiled and showed appreciation. I realized that I had developed a fear to express my true feelings, there was this environment created that I am just too much or I want too much. I was afraid of expressing my feelings because I felt that I was always nagging and expecting much from him while he was doing his best. Everybody was appreciating him for his sermon and here I come wanting to complain and cramp his style. We drove across a group of drunken people on the way and he slightly bumped into one with the side rear view mirror of his car. I felt the veins in my head constricting by the sound of it and expected him to stop and ask if the guy was okay. But all he said was, “Drunken idiot” and drove off. His behavior made it hard for me to believe that he had ever experienced the love of Jesus. There was so much fear and uncertainty in me.

He dropped me off.

The Toxic Nature of Counterfeit Love (PART 3)

He came to me one Friday and the initial agreement was that we were going to spend the weekend together, but he said it would depend because he wanted to go to Church that Sunday. I asked him what we were going to do all weekend and he said we can go to the mall on Saturday. He arrived at my place Friday evening and he found me reading my Bible excited that he was here and that we were going to do bible study together in real life since we got into the habit of doing it every morning on video calling. To my alarm my boyfriend was staggering from drunkenness. Not only did he come with alcohol to my place, he had been drinking on the way as he drove! Where is the responsibility in that? I tried to be the good girlfriend and put some food for us which he brought for him to eat and after he was done eating he dozed off on the couch! I thought he was joking or something but in a few minutes he was snoring. I continued reading my Bible and literally feeling the prompting of the Holy Spirit as I read! Yet on the other hand I was craving for intimacy, not sexual but verbal intimacy. I wanted us to talk, to communicate, to laugh, hold hands, and experience his love for me, but he was asleep. How confusing!

It was still early, around 8:30 pm when I asked him to go sleep on the bed. I went in first, fully dressed, naively thinking that nothing will happen and he came in after. He put his arm around me and I held on to it, breathing slightly heavier. His hand began to move around me and I allowed him to. I was craving intimacy and all he gave me was sex. He was no different from any other guy and from that moment on I knew that we weren’t going to end up far. It’s just hard for me to respect any guy I fornicate with. I don’t trust that they’re able to lead with dignity, strength, integrity, and self-control. Another nature of toxic people is that they pride in their ability to render good sex, and the size of their penises. They believe that with those two they can get any girl hooked for good, but if you think the only way to keep a woman is the one beneath your belt you are too limited! Toxic people also don’t consider much the dangers associated with unprotected sex with strangers; they’re just seeking something even at the cost of compromising their safety. They’re like the adulterer described in Proverbs5:6, “She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.”

This incident showed me how easy it is to fall off from the grace God gives due to the choices we make. Just earlier I was feeling the Spirit of God ministering to me as I read the word and now I was overshadowed by guilt. How will I live the life God called me to live if I compromise and flirt around with temptation? How will I achieve God’s dream for my life if I allow such people in my bed? Great relationships are built on good decisions and not strong emotions. I may shout in the streets and confess my love for Jesus, yes- and even feel it strongly in my heart, but without holiness, as Hebrews 12:14 says, “I will not see the Lord.”

In the morning I didn’t really know what the way forward was. I think I expected us to talk about what had happened since we never got a chance to actually talk. But nothing. Our conversation was so superficial. I would try to actually verbalize my fears or disappointment but I felt so stupid for doing so. He made me feel that this is how relationships should be, what am I talking about when I say waiting for marriage? Everyone in relationships have sex especially when they are working and are able to support themselves financially. I can forget about this blog I am writing and my pursuit of sexual purity and actually fornicate in peace, have my child even if it’s out of wedlock- I mean, it’s the age we live in now? We actually came to a point where we even discussed family planning. We talked but not about the things that matter. We talked about how I should be more spontaneous when it comes to sex; but how can I be when I know it is wrong? How could he be so free that he now started using the “F” word and said he does not consider it a swear word but just an expression…One other thing about toxic people is that they never really connect with people. They leave you starving for communication, connection, and answers but you’ll never get them. They hardly have meaningful conversations but would rather discuss TV characters, or the weather, or things that really don’t pertain to them opening up.

He decided to leave on Saturday. I felt so used because he said spending the weekend with me would depend if he’d leave on Saturday or Sunday. I took that it depended on whether he got sex or not. I really wish I was stronger to resist the temptation and refused to allow him to touch me, but I was starving and I made the wrong choice. So I don’t downgrade my contribution in this situation, I’m not the victim we had both failed God and each other by not being obedient to the Lord’s command but putting our flesh first.

Things were no longer the same afterwards, I wanted him but I could not perceive him as a suitable life partner. I doubted the love he claimed to have for me because he reminded me of all the guys who ever came to me life with selfish motives. I trusted him because he has a title of a pastor and he could really preach God’s word but his fruit failed me. He was taking me back to where God had delivered me, I just couldn’t understand. So I learned the hard way that not everyone who claims to be Christian, who goes to church or even preaches the word, is truly a servant of God. It explains Jesus’ words in Mathew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” 

There is much difference between Christianity by name and Christianity in experience, it is possible to hear the Word, read the Word, even teach the Word and still remain unchanged and unaffected by its transforming power.

The Toxic Nature of Counterfeit Love (PART 2)

Everything accelerated really fast. After meeting that day it didn’t take long for us to profess our undying love for each other. As much as I wanted to be “hard to get” we are older now and we know what we want, and if you’ve got it you feel that there’s no time to play games.  But there’s a thin line between really loving a person and being intoxicated by counterfeit love. This guy had really good intentions for us- to build us a house, to marry me, and to raise children. Here’s another nature of a toxic relationship- everything happens really fast! He wanted us to get married this December even though we didn’t really know each other, and his reason was getting to know someone is a lifelong learning process and you can never get to know a person in a few months or a year. Which is true- but you can look at their habits and fruit in those few months and decide whether you want to spend the rest of your life with their character.

The guy really did good gestures for me like picking me up when I went home for the weekend, taking me to his friends, calling all the time to tell me how he wants to marry me and how he wants me to be the first person he sees every morning and evening. There was no denying of how we felt for each other but it was short lived. Another nature of toxicity in relationships is that the attention and compliments you receive initially fade away really quick. A person strives to get you but fails to employ the same methods to keep you. Once they get you they have a potential (knowingly or unknowingly), of making you feel really worthless and unattractive. Most people stay in such relationships because they are still glued to the compliments they received when they were being pursued hoping the person would change. They fall in love with potential and not proof whilst continuously feeling disappointed by what they’re getting from the relationship.

I honestly believed that this guy was the one I wanted to be with not only because he had convinced me the first time when he came to me that I am his wife, but because he had the attributes that I like in a guy. In matters of sexual purity I expected him as a mature pastor, to take the lead and protect my purity. I expected him to understand where I come from and lead me to where I desire to be (A strong and powerful relationship with God unhindered by sexual immorality). But already I was seeing red-flags when I’d tell him that I’m in bed and he’d say that he wishes he could sneak in. He invited me to sleep over at his place as we spoke over the phone, and that person who came to me with a bible was turning out to be someone different. The flirting sounded good from a boyfriend but that’s not what I needed! So being clouded by emotions and infatuation, I sought counsel from my Godly friends. One told me that the fact that he’s a pastor and asking me to sleep over shows exactly what his intentions are, and I should run! “Which dumb pastor would ask his girlfriend to sleep over?,” he asked. I didn’t really take my friend’s advice, but I laid some ground rules which I sent the guy of what I expected from our relationship like not sleeping over at each other’s places and kissing before marriage, and being alone in a room for long periods of time.

“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffers the consequences”- Proverbs22:3.

A toxic person does not really have your best interest at heart, everything is about them. They don’t take your wishes and concerns seriously. They pretend that they understand but deep- down they are driven by a need to gratify themselves. What they want is not primarily for you, but for them. They want marriage and children for them, so that they can look good in people’s eyes. They want marriage to please themselves and have a trophy wife but not willing to meet the demands of scripture to “love their wives as Christ loves the Church”. Christ strives for the purity of His Church, Christ desires that His Church abides in Truth; Christ listens to His Church when it cries out to Him. From a pastor, that is what I was expecting. 

The Toxic Nature of Counterfeit Love (PART 1)

I watched a movie (romantic drama/comedy) with my best friend a while ago and at the end of the movie we were just appalled at how movies display such happy endings regarding love without showing the waiting process in-between. I hope to contribute a real story of the waiting process so let me use the platform (blogging) that I have to reach people going through the same process. Unlike in movies, where at one moment a person experiences hurt and then the next experiences deep love from their “soul mate”, real life is far different. The reality for single Christians is self-denial of emergent natural feelings of their sexuality in the pursuit of lasting intimacy. The process involves anxiety, worry, fear, doubts, shortcomings, discouragement and despair of one ever finding true love. Don’t get me wrong, living life as a single Christian is the best ever but the emotions described above do exist, and as we get older the waiting process seems really long and ridiculous so instead of really surrendering this area of our lives to God, we tend to take matters in our own hands. Love between a man and a woman is very beautiful and pure; desired to be experienced by all, hence many fall for its counterfeit.

I fell for it too, many times. But none had such an imprinted impact on me as the one I recently experienced. In 2014 I met a guy whom as it usually start I was attracted to. I was doing my practical teaching and he worked there. We were not in close contact at any time but he had a way of looking at me that always kept him at the back of my mind. We somehow ended up being friends on Facebook but never took it far than that. Well, I gave him my number which he never really did use. He’d just call and not really say anything…on one or two occasions he made plans to come see me but didn’t follow up. So, I made a decision based on those incidents that although I felt that he was attractive to me I would not entertain him any longer. We never spoke much since then until late last year and this year (2017). What a co-incidence that he came at a time when I had just waved goodbye to my ex’s and really embracing the new person who’d come into my life. In my head automatically that person would be sent by God and everything would be perfect for me since I did a very hard thing of letting go of all the ex’s of the past. He also came at a time when I felt alone most of the time, and the desire for intimacy and love was at its greatest peak. When he came it felt good because I learned that he’s a pastor so I reckoned that his character and fruit would closely resemble that of Jesus Christ.

Everything was initiated through text messaging, which brings me to my first point of the nature of toxic people. They initiate romantic relationships a lot on social media. It’s as if they go through one profile after the next being tantalized by all the pictures and lifestyles portrayed there with the aim of choosing whoever would be suitable for them. I am not saying that this one did this, but I’m just describing from observation and experience the nature of toxic people. Social media has made it easy for people to be deceived by counterfeit love because on the other side of the screen a person chooses to become whatever is appealing to his target.

As everything was initiated on social media, he sent me video clips of him preaching which really made me open up to the idea of us being close friends.  One Sunday he came to see me all the way from Mafikeng, with his bible on the dashboard of his car, preached the word to me, and left the same day. I was on cloud 9! From everything he had said to me and had done that day, I had concluded that he was different from the other guys I had been with. I asked him why back in 2014 he always called and never said anything, he said it was because during that time he was very serious about his relationship with God (Fasting/ all night prayers etc.) so he didn’t want to waste my time without being sure that I was the woman for him, but now he was certain. I felt a sense of security that this 36 year old man knows really what he wants and to top that up he’s Christian, a pastor!! 

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!