January 4, 2014

Greiving The Christian Way

 "Cast all your cares upon Him,For He cares for you" 1 Peter 5:7

I woke up yesterday not my usual bubbly self. I felt burdened but I couldn't tell what made me feel that way. Somehow, I summoned the courage to get out of bed and exercise but even the workout didn't help my mood.

At about 10am in the morning, my dad called me and the first thing he said was 'I should hold my mind and be strong'. My adrenaline shot up and I began to panic. All kinds of things started going through my mind and then he repeated himself. This time, his voice was shaky and I could feel the tears, pain, sorrow in his voice. My dad was crying.

I immediately remembered the only time in my life I had seen my dad cry before was when my grandmother, his mother died. I knew instinctively this wasn't good. I braced myself. It took him another few seconds before he said my uncle was dead.

I had just brought my kids (the kids I nanny for) to a bookstore for story time and we were just about to alight from the car when my dad called. So I went still when he said that  and asked him which of my uncles. He replied me 'Pa Georgy' as we usually called him. My heart stopped.

He was my father's older brother. I sat there and I didn't know what to tell my dad. He was clearly distraught and I didn't know what to tell him. I asked if he was sick and dad said he wasn't. He said he actually spoke to him on new year's day and that his wife said,they found him unconscious and rushed him to the hospital only for him to be pronounced dead.

My dad said he would let me know the funeral details later. I went in to the bookstore for story time and met a bunch of nannies. Everybody was in a good mood and talking and the kids were playing. I found myself putting up a face. I didn't get a chance to sob even for a few minutes and I was on my feet all day.

But I did get a few minutes to myself here and there and I found that when I thought about my uncle, there were no tears. I felt sorry that he is dead. I felt bad about all the motions that my father must be going through because he was and is very close with all his siblings. I felt sorry for my cousins and his wife. I felt sorry for the whole family. I felt bad internally and really sad and sorrowful but I couldn't bring myself to cry.

I was wondering if that made me a bad person. I knew my uncle, he visited often as did I and my siblings to his family. We are close with our cousins, so I expected that hearing such news, I would breakdown and fall apart. But I didn't. I was confused with myself all of yesterday why that was. Per my culture, we grief very differently from others and our grief is very visible.

So I kind of felt disappointed that I tried to cry but I couldn't. I know I miss my uncle so much. I had not seen him in seven years but I remember him vividly. In my mind's eye, I could still see him cracking his very subtle jokes, making everyone laugh but himself and he had a walk that commanded respect and audience. I miss his laugh and his whole demeanor and I feel for my cousins who are now fatherless even though they are all adults.

I was still very confused as to why I didn't even shed a tear despite all of my efforts to mourn my uncle visibly and it dawned on me this morning. Every time I tried to cry, there was something that preceded that action. It was a silent prayer I made every single time. Sometimes I would whisper or say it in my heart that "God please let him rest in your bosom, or God knows best or God is in control or God please comfort my family".

I realize now that even though I was saying them very casually and not quite paying attention, God was actually listening and I know now that my uncle was indeed called by God. You see, my uncle was asthmatic and he suffered so many episodes which could have claimed his life at any one point but didn't. When he finally gave the ghost, it wasn't a struggle. He went to sleep and passed away. God didn't want him to suffer neither his family.

So I take comfort in the words of Paul to the 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 which says 'But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep,lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.' It was even more beautiful that it was my mother who brought me to this realization. For if we believe that Jesus rose again after death and that all who believed in Him before their death will rise again with him, then it is very comforting to know that my uncle is only asleep in Jesus.

Mathew 5: 4 says " Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted". God will comfort my aunt and cousins as he has and is comforting me. For any one else grieving, know that God is comforting you. You might not feel it but if you pay attention , you just might. He tells us to be of good courage and not be dismayed, for all these things will come to pass away and there shall be no more sorrow, no more pain and God Himself will wipe away all our tears. So take refuge in Him.

These other passages should help Isaiah 41:10,43:2, 49:13b and 51:11.I prayed and know God will receive him and that his soul is resting in peace already.I also know now that the lack of tears or crying on my part,didn't mean I fell short of mourning my uncle. It means for me that I put God in control and let His words comfort me because even when I wasn't paying attention to the whispers, I was talking to God and He was listening.

Rest In Peace Uncle George, in the bosom of our Lord until we meet again.I love you and we will all miss you.

June 4, 2013

Listening to God and not just Hearing Him

Have you ever been in faced with a situation where you needed to make a decision, knowing that what ever decision you took would have a ripple effect on everything else around? Have you ever been at a crossroad where everyone expected you to lead? Have you ever felt like you needed God's guidance and direction in a particular issue, called and prayed to him and yet feel that he never answered? Or better yet, have followed a certain path fully believing that God led you down that path only to be in terrible doubts down the road?Or have you sought God in issues and done things differently only to question if you did listen to God?

That dawned on me a few days ago and the sad part about it is that, several times i have found myself regretting the choices i made be it with my education, my personal life, work and everything else in between.It is only after the event that i start questioning if indeed i heard God and if indeed i did listen to Him. Several times we seek God's face and guidance about issues in our lives and when he does speak to us, we take a different route instead and only regret it when things don't go as planned.

Sometimes we get so frustrated with the unexpected outcomes of our actions that we take out the frustration on God and we do not stop for one minute to think that he didn't ask us to go down that path in the first place.

God usually speaks to us in that little inner most voice in our hearts that we so often tend to ignore and follow the loud voice, not realizing that the loud voice is our own voice talking back at us.Sometimes when the voice is silent, it is asking us to be patient and wait because there might be a hurdle ahead or there is better option ahead. But always God is talking to us even in the silence, the question is how many of us are patient to wait for his voice and gentle in listening to his voice?

Mark 4:24 reads 'And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.'.  It says to pay attention to what you hear, paying attention means to listen to God fervently. It is what we hear when we listen to that voice that should be the determining factor in our actions. This verse also promises that we would be blessed even more if we listen to God and obey his voice.

Proverbs 2:1-5 reads 'My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.' Again, the word attentive has been mentioned in this verse which translates into listening with a keen ear, or better still, listening with the heart. This passage tells of the richness in God's voice, it is filled with wisdom, understanding and knowledge.

All the decisions we would ever need to make in our lives would require some knowledge, wisdom and understanding of some sort and Proverbs 2:1-5 assures us that if we receive God's words and treasure his commandments, then abundant wisdom,knowledge and understanding shall be ours but that if only we listen to his voice.

As children of God, the Holy Spirit is always with us as long as we do not depart from God. And as long as we have the Holy Spirit with us, we can talk to God and hear his voice and listen to him. John 8:47 is very clear on that as it reads 'Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”. We are all children of God and not being of God here means that we do not have that Holy Spirit in us. That would be why God talks to us and we hear something different.That Holy Spirit comes to us when we are saved and we have to keep praying to God to never depart his Holy Spirit from us because then, we would not able to hear him.

Jesus is the Shepard and we are the sheep and the sheep have to listen to the Shepard. John 10:27-28 reads 'My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.' As the Shepard,Jesus is constantly talking to us, giving us directions and guiding us in life. But are we the sheep actually listening to his voice of direction and guidance? When we listen to his voice, we are safe and we are in his hands and therefore we will be able to make wise decisions.

As children of God, we are not supposed to have any doubts in our minds when making a decision concerning any aspect of our lives because we have to seek the divine counsel of God always. It does not suffice to seek his counsel but we have to pay attention to his voice when we call on him. God is always talking to us, even in the silence he is always saying something to us. He speaks to us in our hearts, in the littlest most gentle voice which requires our undivided attention to capture what he is saying.

This is all summed up in Philippians 4:6 which says 'Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ' For if we do take everything to God in prayer with thanksgiving, we have no reason to be anxious because as he promised in his word, he always listens to his children and will never forsake us. If he is gentle, kind and patient to listen to our many supplications and prayers, and merciful to grant us solutions and answers to those prayers why then, can't we be patient in waiting to hear his voice, or why can't we attentive enough to listen to what he is saying. Take time to pray to God and when you do, take time again to listen to him because he is always near, talking to us, even in the silence.

May 8, 2013

Respectfully fighting with my parents

A few days ago, i called my father to talk about some family matters.He was excited to talk to me as always but our conversation quickly changed from a calm and peaceful tone to a noisy and yelling tone. In the course of our discussion about the particular issue that we are dealing with as a family, he got angry when i tried to give my opinion concerning the issue.

Like my father, i am strong willed and very opinionated and i do not hesitate to let my feelings out. So it is therefore never a good idea for two-like-minded individuals to get into such heated argument as each feels their reasoning is the best and their point of view should be taken.I have had disagreements with my father growing up but none was ever as heated as this recent one.

One thing i had never realized my dad disliked most until he said it last week, was being challenged and i only realized it after our conversation that,that was the common denominator in all of the fights i have had with him over the years. It is not like i enjoy challenging him but i always called him out if i didn't feel good about something he said or did.

As an African, it is rare to hear of kids challenging their parents or even getting into fights with their parents in the first place, but i guess that is why i have always been different too growing up.Though this is not only peculiar with African parents,it is a norm for  most African parents if not all to feel always that they know better than their kids.Their justification of that knowledge is stringent on their experiences as parents, raising the kids and longevity on earth which has given them wisdom as they mostly feel, to know better than the kids.

My dad was so infuriated that he said he didn't want to talk to me for a year. After talking to my mother, she asked me to call him and apologize to which i was adamant at first. I told her, i wasn't rude to him, all i did was state my opinion. She insisted that i call him and ask for forgiveness lest i incur a curse from him by mouth out of anger.

Mom has always been the voice of reason between both of us and i didn't want to disappoint her, so i went ahead and called dad and we smoothed every thing out. It wasn't until later that evening that i realized that though i was right in stating my opinion to dad, mom was equally right to suggest that  i apologize to him regardless.

Colossians 3:20 reads 'Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.'. I might have been right in stating my opinion to dad but i had to obey mom when she said for the sake of peace, i should apologize to dad. A lot of times, we get caught up with the emotions and while we may be right in our opinion and point of view, we need to realize that just contradicting our parents hurts them, especially when they feel that their years on earth have given them enough wisdom to deal with situations. It is also very helpful to have that voice of reason, in my case mom to calm every one down and bring you back to reality, to Christian values of obedience, honor and respect.

Exodus 20:12 reads  “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.". From this verse,our longevity on earth is hinged on how well we honor our parents. We should not only honor our parents when the relationship or the conversations are good. Even when fight, we should still honor our parents. We live in a very realistic world and being human, we are all bound to have disagreements with our parents every now and then,but as Christians who are filled with God's love and word, we can respectfully disagree with our parents, obeying them even as we fight.

For Proverbs 23:22 says 'Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old'.  and Proverbs 20:20 reads 'If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness'. Non-Bible believing people have said after reading the second passage that God would be a mean God if a child is killed because he cursed his parents. I disagree with that. We have already seen how God tells us to honor our parents with the promise of long days on earth and also to please him. And Bible-believing Christians know all too well of God's love for his children, therefore, how can he harm us when we fail to please him by honoring our parents. What cursing our parents will do to us is remove the divine grace,mercy and compassion of God from us and especially, his holy spirit will depart from us and that to me, is worse than death.

I could not imagine myself living without the grace,mercy and compassion of God or for his Holy spirit to leave me. I am here, i am where i am because his grace found me in my time of need,his mercy pardoned my transgressions including my irrational fights with my parents sometimes and compassion gave me another chance to make it right but mostly, His Holy spirit guided me through it all. If we understand as Christians that we would all die someday in other to be with the Father, then truly death for cursing or disrespecting our parents is nothing compared to living without all of God's divinity.

In the same vain as we obey our parents, they are equally not to provoke their children to anger for Ephesians 6:1-4 says  'Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.'. Verse 4 is a guide for parents to raise their kids up in the way of the Lord with discipline and not take advantage of the fact that they are our parents to anger us or teach us otherwise. Some kids grow up to find the way to God for themselves while other parents lead their kids to God. If any parent,Christian or not angers their kids whether intentionally or unintentionally,it is the responsibility of that child who walks in the light of God therefore to humble themselves as the younger ones because our parents gave us life and not the other way round.

As children to our parents and to God, we have to be humble always. In the argument i had with dad, my opinion concerning the issue was correct but dad didn't like it because in stating it to him, i gave him hard facts with examples that he had witnessed. I don't think he got mad at me because i stated my opinion but because he knew i told him the truth, and he didn't want to hear that hard bitter truth from me. I was his daughter,his child,he gave birth to me and i should listen to him and not the other way round. So it is understandable that he got frustrated to the point of not wanting to talk to me anymore.

But like mom told me, i had to apologize for the sake of peace. My human self was stubborn at first but when moved away from the situation, i saw reason with mom.It wasn't until later when i stumbled upon the words of 1 Peter 5:5-6 which says 'Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,'. I was the child, i was the younger one and so i had to be the one to humble myself in asking for forgiveness from my father for challenging him. And what would you know,God exalted me because my father ended up going with my approach in the issue.

We are humans and what sets us apart from the other animals of the earth is the fact that we have the ability to express ourselves and show our emotions.It will also happen very often that we get into fights with our parents be it over our future, our education,personal lives,family matters and all. But that we are Christians doesn't in no way mean we should keep our emotions bottled up for fear of cursing or disrespecting our parents.

Being Christians sets us apart from others in every aspect and that includes how we fight with our parents. We can fight with them without cursing them, we can disagree with them without disrespecting them and we can be angry too with them without disobeying them. When it gets too heated up, it is advisable to retreat for a moment and come back with a clear head to talk in a more calmed tone. Remember, as the child, we are the ones who should be humble before our parents and God always seeks a way to exalt us before them and prosper us.

Indeed,we would not be here without our parents had they not chosen to give us life and our existence would be miserable if we dishonor or disobey them as God put them as the pillars in our life. So if you are not in good terms with your parents or just recently had a fight, humble yourself before said parent and do the right thing. Start the conversation all over again and ask for God's guidance that your parents may see or reason with you. No one knows tomorrow and the time you spend being mad at your  parents is the time you could have made amends and enjoyed a wonderful parent-child relationship.The time you spend begrudging your parents is the time you could be spending in bonding with them. Make use of this opportunity while you have it and remember in future times to be gentle with them. Most parents if not all, always have their kids best interest at heart and all of them want nothing but a wonderful relationship with their kids just like our Father in heaven.

I hope my little broil with my father inspires you to repair your relationship with your parents or to see a better way of disagreeing with your parents without being at each others throat. May God guide us all and make us the best kids that our parents want us to be as He destined. Have a blessed rest of the week everyone and it is great to be back yet again.

April 15, 2013

I Choose Christ.

During Palm Sunday's mass, the gospel was about the passion of Christ. In my church which i am sure was the norm in all Catholic Churches around the world on that Palm Sunday, the gospel was written as a dialogue and divided into parts. There was a part for the narrator,the words of Jesus were spoken by the priest, there was someone who did a random voice and then there was the part for the crowd, which in this case was us the parishioners.

The passion of Christ if you read the Sunday's Message page on this blog or if you have knowledge of it, is about the last hours of Jesus on earth from the last supper through to his betrayal.During the course of the reading the gospel and especially the dialogue assigned to the crowd as i was a part of, i felt tears sting my eyes by the end of the gospel.

At the beginning of the gospel, the crowd is all about Jesus, telling him they needed nothing when he sent them out to minister with nothing, asking for a sword to defend him from his betrayer.But as the gospel unfolds,the crowd calls out Simon as one who was with Jesus so he could be punished too and by the end of the gospel,the crowd is persecuting and calling for the crucifixion of Jesus.

It got me wondering what i would have done if i was alive in the times of Jesus. Whether i too like Simon would have denied Jesus, or whether like everyone else there at the time would have called for Jesus to be crucified or whether i would have believed that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. I also wondered about the time Jesus appeared to his disciples and Thomas asked for proof by touching Jesus' hand and his side.I wondered if i would have been like the other disciples and believed that it was indeed Jesus or if i would have been like Thomas instead wanting and needing proof.

These days there are all kinds of occults,deities and gods that people have turned to for hope, protection,sustenance and every thing else in between. The most glaring one that seems to be gaining grounds even among young people and is especially popular with the affluent is The Illuminati. I had been hearing a lot about it recently and never paid heed to it but when i read it on Yahoo, then i knew it was for real and it is quickly blinding people from Jesus The Truth.

Not too long ago, i was talking to my friend(yes,i know i reference him a lot but we all actually need that one friend with whom we can freely speak Jesus with anytime) who said while we were on the topic of being disciples for Christ, that disciples (Christ' followers) are not called but they call themselves to Christ. I found it a bit tricky at first but he went on to explain that, we make a conscious decision to follow Christ or be Christ-like, we are not called to be Christ-like but we decide in our hearts that we want to be.

It makes a lot of sense because if people can decide to worship another human being, or an idol,or a deity, or some god, then surely, people can make a conscious decision to worship and serve God too.It is rather unfortunate that in the times, more people are making up their minds to worship the formers instead of the latter.

I see that the quest for fast growth in terms of money is the main reason why so many choose to serve and worship other gods other than God, forgetting that our sole existence in the first place is simply because God authored it and allowed us. John 3:16 reads ''For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 

God chose us and because he loved us so dearly, gave His only son Jesus Christ to come die on the cross for our sins. We are saved and healed by his wounds as the Bible tells us that God knew us even before we were conceived. But he did not or has not imposed himself on us but has given us the free will to realize how much he loved us, the sacrifice that he gave for us and for us to choose him in return and believe in him.

For long, Christians have been taunted by non-Christians about believing and praying to a God we cannot see. Some like Thomas have asked of Christians to show them proof of the existence of our God, some out of sheer ignorance follow the bandwagon and get lost in the mix. But we have blessed assurance from Jesus for believing in him and trusting him even though we have not seen him.

Thomas had not believed his fellow disciples when they told him that Jesus came upon them but wanted to see for himself before believing, and indeed he only believed after he saw Jesus for himself. And Jesus said to him,' have you come to believe because you have seen me?Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.' Blessed are the Christians who call on God, who pray to him, trust and have faith in him without having seen him.

In the beginning of Jesus' ministry, we see that he chose his disciples,which is evident in Mathew 4:18-19 and reads ''And walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.". But Jesus unlike so many leaders today or humans, did not impose the disciples to follow him or obey him. He gave them the free will and ability to make their own  conscious choice of choosing him in return which they did.

I found it interesting that Jesus in choosing his disciples, chose even the one that would eventually betray him Judas Iscariot.This is/was to show us that the same grace that was offered to Judas for a chance at salvation is being offered to each and every one of us at different points in our lives. Some of the people antagonizing Christians might have not yet received this grace and so are yet to be saved, while others are too stubborn to accept the grace of God or even identify it, and while others are just plainly ignorant to that grace lurking around them the whole time.

For those doubting the existence of God, i urge you to just for a moment take a look around you and behold the beauty of your environment.The birds flying freely in the sky, the wonderful nature around you, the earth beneath your feet, the waters surrounding you and especially the air that you breath, all that and more is proof of God's wonderful existence.

Jesus is calling us every day to come into his presence and be partakers of this wonderful glory and belong in his eternal kingdom through salvation. He is extending a hand to you and me and every body else everyday. You are alive because he knew you even before you were conceived in the womb, you are alive because he chose you. Isn't it time you and i chose him too in return like Joshua.

In Joshua 24, Joshua gathered all the Israelites and showed them proof of God by reminding them of the promises he made to Abraham and how he fulfilled it. He also reminds them of how God delivered them from the Egyptians and the many blessings he gave them in form of food,fruits,plants from land where they did not toil nor harvest. 

For Joshua, it is overwhelming proof of the goodness and kindness of God and he was taken aback that despite all that, the Israelites still wanted to go worship deities and their ancestors. And that is when he said the verse that would change the Israelites minds, Joshua 24:15 which reads
''But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” They changed their minds after seeing that indeed from what Joshua said, God was indeed a God of signs and wonders and if they survived all that they had been through, it was only because God chose them and they chose him in return.

So let us not get caught up with  the many arguments that abound in every gathering these days that threaten the core of our belief system,or the negative news coming out from every angle, or the difficult situations we may be faced with that is making us question our faith. Just like he delivered the Israelites out of bondage and suffering, so will he deliver you. And the reason he delivered them was because they were a chosen people,chosen by him and so are you and i. 

So listen to that inner voice talking to you,God is calling you today and he is choosing you. Will you choose him in return? I hope you do, because then you will be releasing a flood of blessing on your life. Have a blessed and happy week and it is good to be back.

March 15, 2013

Halfway Through Lent!!!

I wrote on Ash Wednesday to tell you of the beginning of Lent and to remind those who had forgotten,that Lent was here.I shared with you the message from mass that Wednesday and the poignant assignment we had during this season , which was to be Ambassadors Of Christ every day of our lives but especially during Lent. I wrote of the importance of honoring God this season, on experiencing Christ's pain on the cross by fasting,giving up bad habits,volunteering and so much more. For those who missed that post, find it here.http://vikkyscreed.blogspot.com/2013/02/ash-wednesday-be-ambassador-for-christ.html?showComment=1363353268480#c8147652278124820038

We are more than halfway through with the Lent season and I thought it would be important for us to analyze how the first half has been so far. I had hoped to chronicle every day here but i thought to wait it out and write midway.

I had planned on giving up so many things during this period, dedicate more time to God, help more and mostly, pray often and spend more time with God. While I am not making excuses, life gets in the way sometimes and it did get in my way.

I had planned to give up chocolate and anything that wasn't good for my body like fries, ice cream, cakes and all the fatty food you can think of, as a way to cleanse my system for Lent. The first week i was able to pull it off and after that, I would forget sometimes and eat them, realize only after i had taken a bite or even finished eating that i wasn't supposed to be eating that.

I had also planned to give away some of my clothes and shoes to the needy and volunteer more time at one of the many community outreach at church. The clothes and shoes i did give away and i was proud of myself because these clothes and shoes, i still had enough wear in them and i loved most of them but i gave them away with so much ease.But i hadn't been able to volunteer my time to help in the community until this weekend and i am so looking forward to it.

Another thing i had planned to do was fasting and it was easy to follow up with this because I had just recently incorporated it in my life. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of fasting and the feeling that comes with it. It is liberating and the joy that comes during and after the fast when you are breaking it with songs of praise and worship is astounding. It is truly something to experience.

And the last things I had planned to do, was not to get angry with people or not to take things too seriously or personally, to be more forgiving and tolerant of people, to show more compassion towards people as Christ shows to me, to love all, to not be judgemental and most of all to love God more by calling and praying to him often.

 I cannot tell you in all honesty that I did all the things listed above as i had hoped to, or that the season hasn't been riddled with its own temptations. I failed several times on the plan of cleansing my body as i indulged, sometimes greedily on satiating my sweet tooth. I got overwhelmed and busy I forgot to volunteer my time to help a just cause.I let people get to me sometimes and lashed out at them only to regret it moments later, wishing i had thought before acting. I wasn't easily forgiving when i got hurt and i occasionally judged people when it was not my place to do so.

Yes i faltered and i take full responsibility for not being a good ambassador of Christ. But i am happy for my little victories too. The times when i craved a chocolate bar and saw it right in front of me but passed it up,the times when someone hurt me and i didn't let them get to me, the joy i felt when i went through my closet picking out clothes and shoes to give away, the times i fasted and the wonderful experience that it was, the times when i was understanding, tolerant towards people and mostly, the times i spent in God's presence.

I analyzed my first half of Lent and it hadn't quite gone the way i had planned to, so i hit the reset button a few days ago and that is why i wrote this morning. To tell you that, you too can hit the reset button. Have you analyzed your first half and you too like me weren't very proud of yourself?  Is there more you know you can do and wish to do? Do you want to correct yourself in the little time we have left?

Good news. You can correct yourself.There are so many things that God has promised us and reassured us of, and one of those things is His forgiveness. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 says 'All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.". In this verse, we see that God already forgave us our sins even before we wronged him when he gave Jesus Christ on the cross for us.Christ coming was to reconcile us back to God and because he loves us so much, he doesn't keep scores of our wrongs.

We have guaranteed grace from God but we must always seek for that grace first.We must always come to God with contrite and genuine hearts for 1 John 1:9 says 'If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.'  and Acts 3:19 reads 'Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord'. For us to move forward and start all over on a clean slate, we need to ask first for forgiveness for the past wrongs and repent from them,and as we have been assured,God is just waiting for us to ask and it is done.

Starting over not only means asking God for forgiveness but forgiving those people whose hurt in our hearts may be holding us back form our salvation. Mathew 6:14-15 says 'For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.'  and Mark 11:25 says 'And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. ". It is not enough to ask God for forgiveness because we know it is already granted but we have to forgive others. Unforgiveness holds our blessings back from God and it keeps us prisoners of our own emotions and lives, while the person we are angry with goes about their life and we are filled with so much bitterness. Whatever it is, we need to let go and release God's blessings and forgiveness to us.

Some of us might be so disappointed with ourselves that we feel discouraged to start over but God's arms are always open to receive His children. So many times we have read in the Bible of how the Israelites wronged God and how God accepted them into his presence. God has promised to never forsake those who call on his name and if you think you will not be able to do it, just call on him . Isaiah 41:10 says ' fear not, for I am with you;  be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand'. and Exodus 15:2 says 'The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.'.God is your strength and your courage and he is willing and ready to walk this journey with you.

1 Corinthians 10:13 'No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.' It doesn't matter what may be ahead of you or what you think you are afraid of. God already knows the temptations will abound. They will come in all forms, friends, trouble at work, dysfunction in the family and more and even battle in the spiritual realm that you can't see. But as Paul told the people of Corinthians, he is saying it to you me. No temptation will befall you that man has not seen, but through it all, God will be faithful. He will not let it happen and even if it did, God will make a way through for you.

So braze yourselves up, dust yourselves up and get back on the wagon. For we are not only ambassadors of Christ especially during the Lent season, but every day of our lives and we need both God's forgiveness to start over and his courage and strength to keep going forward. Our journey as Christ's ambassadors, as Christ's feet and hands on earth is never ending. But we need to know that whenever we falter or fall short of doing that, He is always ready to lift us up again with his love,his grace,his mercy,compassion and kindness.

For those who have done good so far, keep it up and expect your reward only in God and for those like me who failed in some areas, here is a second chance to do it all over.It is never late with God because all he cares about is our hearts and its genuineness in serving him and doing his works.So go ahead and make those plans again, this time knowing that God has forgiven the past,is glad you are back and is ready to walk with you through the whole journey.

I leave you with one of the powerful verses in the Bible from Philippians 4:13' I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.' Have that at the back of your mind always and with Christ, indeed all things are possible. Wishing you the best as you go through the last days of Lent,may you find strength in Christ and may he guide your ways always.

Happy and blessed weekend.

March 8, 2013

Why Do We Limit God?

A few days ago, a friend of mine told me about something that he really wanted to see happen in his life, something he wanted to achieve and that he hoped he would. He went on to say he has prayed about the issue several times and hopes that God answers His prayers. And just a few seconds after saying that, he started second-guessing himself. He started wondering if really he would get what he wanted, and started piling the odds that were against him to achieve that particular goal. He started doubting his abilities and told himself that, it would be difficult for him to make it.

In that instant I found inspiration to talk him out of that mindset, out of the negativity, the self doubt and to give him confidence. But after talking to him, I realized that I too have been guilty of that same behavior at some point in my life.

There have been times when I needed something so very much and after praying and committing it to God, I would find myself asking all kinds of questions. Questions like what qualifies me to have that and not the next person, if I was good enough for what I wanted, if I was really ever going to get it and/or how would I overcome all the hurdles to get it?.

I realized after talking to my friend and examining myself that, so many of us are guilty of this. We want something and we go down on our knees to ask God in prayers as He asked us to. For some of us, we are praying for a new job, some are praying for a baby, some are praying for a job promotion, some for success in exams and so on. And after we make the prayer, we get on our feet and start wondering if that prayer will be answered or if it will come to pass. We start looking for answers or excuses why the prayer will not be answered,we start listing our shortcomings and sometimes even use the past to justify why that prayer will not come true.

Well, fellow Christians, if you have done this in the past or are doing it right now, then what you are actually doing is limiting God.Anytime we go to God in prayer and come back to doubt ourselves and our abilities, we are not only doubting ourselves but we are doubting that God will come through for us.We are doubting His power, His love,His grace,His kindness and His mercy.

When we doubt ourselves, we are saying that we are unworthy of Christ's love and His blessings. We are saying that we don't really believe in Him as we claim to,we are saying that there is only so much that He can do and we are trying to be god of our own lives by answering  all those questions and putting in all those limitations.

Psalm 55:22 says 'Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you;He will never let the righteous fall'. Didn't this singular verse just ask us to cast all our cares and burdens onto God for He will sustain us? Casting our cares means taking our problems, desires and wants to God in prayer and sustaining us means He will see us through and grant us that which we have asked for. When we take a burden or concern to God in prayer, we should really free ourselves from it after prayer and let God do His work.

Mark 11:22-24 reads 'So Jesus answered and said to them,"have faith in God.For assuredly,I say to you,whoever says to this mountain,"Be removed and be cast into the sea",and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you,whatever things you ask when you pray,believe that you receive them,and you will have them'. Questioning ourselves after a prayer says very little of our faith and yet Jesus urges us to have faith in God in this passage. It doesn't matter what we are praying to God for or what miracle we  are asking Him for. What matters is that we we have faith in God, believe in Him and have absolutely no doubt in our hearts and whatever it is that we are seeking for will be granted.

Let not the unanswered prayers of the past be a measuring rod for why God can't do in your life what you ask of Him, for surely there had to be a reason why that past prayer went unanswered(topic for another day) and only God actually knows why. Live in the present and believe in God's abilities and promises for that present situation or prayer.

God assures us several times in the Bible that He listens to us and will answer our prayers when we pray. Passages like John 14:13-14 which reads 'Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it' and Mathew 7:7 says ”Ask, and it will be given to you seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.'

As children of  God and as Christians, we came to know of the love of God from the Bible.It is the only proof of His existence coupled with the miracles in our lives, when we know we couldn't have gotten out of a particular situation on our own. As Christians, we made a conscious decision to have faith in God,we chose to believe and that is what sets us apart from non-believers.

We are not ordinary people but extraordinary people bathed in the love of God and basking in His glory filled with promises.And though we live with unbelievers and pray for the same things as unbelievers, our attitudes and mindsets should set us apart from them. For while they sit and questions their abilities, doubt themselves, reminisce on the past and dwell on their failings,we on the other hand have to rejoice. For we serve a living God, a God who keeps His promises, who answers His children, who knows their minds and thoughts even before they come to Him in prayer and who would not forsake them or allow them to be shamed.

So go ahead.Go on your knees and make that fervent prayer to God about that new job you applied for, that baby you desire so much, that promotion you are longing for at work, that exam you are about to write, that new business you are about to launch and so much more.Make that prayer with all your heart and faith,get on your feet and forget about it because God is now in control of everything.Working behind the scenes,putting the right people in your path, leading you to the right door and direction, opening new opportunities for your, emboldening you even without your knowledge, building you up and strengthening you,connecting all the dots and voila,your prayer is answered.

And for Him to do all of that, we have to let God be God in our lives and stop trying to answer our own prayers. For if we could actually do it ourselves, then  we would have no reason praying to Him but since we can't , we have to let Him do His work after we pray. 1 John 5:14-15 says 'And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.'

I would leave you with one of my favorite Bible verses, the first part of Psalm 46:10 which says 'Be still and know that I am God' . I just found out that still comes from a Hebrew word meaning to 'let go' or 'release' and it just gave a whole new meaning to this verse and makes it all the more powerful. Whatever you ask God for in prayers or whatever miracle you are believing Him for, let it go and release it to Him, because He is still on the Throne and has sovereign control over every thing. And that second part, know that I am God means let God be God of your life and see how beautiful He makes everything in and around your life.

Have a blessed weekend .

February 16, 2013

Misplaced Hope? Find It In Christ.

If you have been following the news, then you are definitely aware of the situation surrounding Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius. The news of him shooting his girlfriend took the world by surprise and i am almost certain that some like myself,have not only been disappointed to see such a young man with so much potential go to possible waste, but have been asking so many questions in our minds. Questions that we might never get answers to.

As shocked as i still am about the whole situation, i couldn't help but think about the thousands of people that Oscar must have disappointed, the thousands of people whose dreams have died with his ordeal and the thousands of people whose hopes have been crashed in all the chaos.

In the last few days following the incident, so many articles have been published about Oscar Pistorius. Some detailing his life, how he was born without fibula and became a double amputee,his life's journey of how he came to be an athlete, how he became the first double amputee to compete in a major event such as the Olympics and how he became a source of inspiration and hope to so many. Yahoo News reports that he came to have a cult following and became a major celebrity after achieving this feat.http://sports.yahoo.com/news/olympics--distraught-oscar-pistorius-could-face-charge-of--pre-meditated-murder--111548119.html.

This got me thinking about all those people who had come to admire him, to look up to him, to be inspired by him, who dreamt and hoped to one day be like him especially with the handicapped population. Some of these people's dreams and hopes, together with O.P's career died the instant they heard about O.P's ordeal and that, is the problem with our world today.

It is understandable that as humans, we need some sort of motivation to keep us going on our various causes but that is as far as it should go-motivation. Nobody could have predicted this in O.P's future and neither did he plan to hurt the thousands of people that looked up to him with this unfortunate act. Some of his loyal fans might even be too distraught to want to continue living, forgetting that O.P is just a mere mortal like them and they should have never placed their hope or belief in him in the first place.

Our hope for everything in life and salvation should be deeply rooted in Jesus Christ and not man. Numbers 23; 19 says ' God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?'.Every thing and every one in our lives will fail and disappoint us at one time or another whether they want to or not. But there is only one person in the world who has given us His word that He will never forsake or abandon us because we are His children and He never has. That person is Jesus Christ and that is whom we should be putting our hope and trust in, because what He says He will do, that He does and He always has the final say as long as we talk to Him, believe and hope in Him only.

 Romans 8:24-25 says 'For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.' Why do we humans always put our hope in mere mortals like us? It is clearly stated in this verse that hope that is seen is not hope.All those who had their hopes in O.P were somehow setting themselves up for failure, for no body knows what the next minute holds. If O.P knew that this awaited him in his future, he would have done everything in his capacity to stop it i am sure but since God holds our destinies in His hands, even he didn't see this one coming.

Faith and hope are two words that are in someway intertwined because you cannot hope without having faith in the first place, and hoping in something or someone means you are believing and trusting in them or putting your faith in them. The Bible in many instances warns us against trusting or putting our faith in humans. Passages like Psalms 118:8 which says ' It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” and Micah 7:5 which says 'Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your arms' state it very plainly for understanding.

How many times have loved ones failed us,close friends betrayed us or parents disappointed us? But we have many Bible guarantees that when we put our faith and hope in God, He will never fail us. Passages like Proverbs 3:5 says '“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”, Psalm 9:10 says 'And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” and Psalm 37:5 says 'Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” .Every time we choose to believe in God,rely, depend and hope in Him, He will never fail us, betray us or disappoint us because He is a God who keeps His promises.

For all those people who had built their faith and hope in O.P, together with O.P himself, it is not late to reroute their attention and focus in the right direction. This is a period of trial and tribulation for both O.P and his loyal fans but they can delight in the fact that God will be there every step of the way to give them strength to carry on, support them when they feel alone,give them courage when they feel weak and work things out for their own good. Romans 5:2-5 says 'Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.'.But they can only tap into all of those blessings when they put their faith in God which Romans tells us, has been made freely accessible to us through His grace and love.

For O.P, his fans and anybody who is faced with a difficult situation and is in need of hope, let Job in the Old Testament be your inspiration, your motivation and a Biblical story you can use to draw strength from. For despite all the trials and temptations that he went through at the hands of the devil,he remained adamant to all the talks trying to convince him to give up on God. Instead, he remained strong in his faith and continued to hope in a God who eventually vindicated him before all his enemies. Job 13:15 reads 'Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.'

I hope the message of this piece is not lost in translation because i am in no way judging O.P. It is very unfortunate what has happened to him and i sympathize with him and his family and that of the deceased. God alone knows the full story and i can only offer up prayers for him, his family, the deceased family, and those heartbroken by these events.I pray they all remain strong and put their faith in God, for He alone knows best why things happen the way they do. Find hope in the words of Romans 12:12 which says 'Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.'

I just simply got inspired to use this as a wake up call to all of us. So many of us have misplaced our hope and faith.There are those who put their faith in fake gods,those who have false belief systems and then there are those who put their hope and faith in their fellow man.For all these people, betrayals,failures and disappointments are just moments away.

But there is only one True God who when we believe and hope in, we are certain that He will keep His promise of never failing us and make us the envy of those who do not know Him yet.For all those who had misplaced their hope, it is time you found it and put it in Christ Jesus.

Romans 15:13.'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.'