Stop Trying to Do It Alone

“Many of us learned that keeping busy…kept us at a distance from our feelings…Some of us took the ways we busied ourselves—becoming overachievers & workaholics—as self esteem…But whenever our inner feeling did not match our outer surface, we were doing ourselves a disservice…If stopping to rest meant being barraged with this discrepancy, no wonder we were reluctant to cease our obsessive activity.” 
― Maureen Brady, Beyond Survival: A Writing Journey for Healing Childhood Sexual Abuse

Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.

“I’m self-sufficient, I don’t need anyone, and I can get things done on my own without any help.” If this sounds familiar, you’re probably jeopardizing your mental health and heading down the path to burnout.Yet if you can acknowledge that doing everything yourself is neither sustainable nor desirable, you’ll be able to make some corrections  and improve both your mental and physical health.I know it can be scary to admit you can’t do everything yourself, because I’ve been there. I remember worrying: What if no one believes me when I finally profess how hard it is to do everything myself? Maybe I’m just a complete wuss. If I come clean about how hard this is, am I negating my accomplishments? What if no one wants to help me?We also live in a society that makes one feel weak if he/she asks for help. 

But, there is strength in numbers. Deuteronomy 32:30 implicitly suggests that if God permits, then we are 10 times more likely to succeed if we go with someone else than if we were operating in isolation. Do not ignore the power of two. In Matthew 18:19 Jesus confirms the importance of two by stating “that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. It is self-explanatory; your prayers are more likely to be answered when you have someone agreeing with you. It is the clearest signal yet that we must stop trying to do it alone.

Moses never tried to do it alone; he worked with his brother Aaron. David, even though he was a great warrior, had the company of 400 men when he was in the wilderness fleeing from Saul. Paul’s ministry was aided first by Barnabas and then by Timothy. All of these biblical examples are reminders that the principle of Ecclesiastes 4:9: two are better than one holds true. Therefore, magnify your success by identifying like minded people to partner with.

Life Application: Whatever your pursuit, Identify like-minded people to partner with and agree with in prayer.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I admit that I have tried to do everything by myself for various reasons. I don’t want to be a bother and neither do I want to feel insufficient. I pray that you will help me to find the right persons who are able to assist me in the various things that I have going on in my life. Help me to let go and allow you to direct every aspect of my life. In Jesus name, amen.

Start With What You Have Now

February 11,2021

Using what we have means maintaining an inward focus on making the best use of our own time, skills, potential and attention rather than being driven by factors outside of our influence. Progress towards our goals each day, depends on how we apply our skills, time and resources, the actions we take, the decisions we make and the distractions we resist. It all comes down to us.

Bible Focus: 2 Kings 4:2 And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? Tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, thine handmaid hath not anything in the house, save a pot of oil.

In 2 Kings 4 the story was told of the woman whose husband being a prophet had died leaving significant debt behind and the creditors had come to take her sons as slaves. She cried out to Elisha for help. The first question that Elisha asked her was what do you have in your house? The principle that Elisha was teaching was to start with what you have now. Very often the mistake that we make is that of waiting until everything is perfect and the reality is that there will never be a perfect time. You can lose years waiting for the perfect time; practice starting with what you have now.

The Little that the woman had, was just what she needed to operate in abundance. She honoured the man of God first and from her obedience, the little she had became plenty. God blessed her with abundance even though she had little. All the jars she had, plus the ones she borrowed were filled with oil. What “little” do you have that you consider insignificant? Are you waiting until you have if all figured out and everything in place before you start? 

The reason it is important to start with what you have is because as explained by Sydea Wright, a very good friend of mine, “a way is not made until the first step is taken”. Starting with what you have now even though you do not yet see the way is a step of faith that moves God to create the way. That was the experience of the woman in 2 Kings 4. She started with the little oil she had in her house and borrowed the vessels that she was instructed to and the oil never stopped flowing until no more vessels were left.

Life Application: Make an inventory of the talents, gifts, relationship and resources that you have at your disposable and use what you have now to take the first step in creating the success that you desire.

Prayer: Lord, help me to start with what I have. Help me not to out my life on pause because I see what I have as insufficient. Give me your wisdom to discern when it is time to step out with the little I do have. Like the widow, pour out your blessings upon me when I have stepped out in obedience. In Jesus name..amen.

Are You With The Right Person?

7 Lessons From an Eagle(Part 2)

Finding the right partner to marry is serious business. You need to be attracted to each other (beauty is in the eye of the beholder), but who you choose to marry goes far beyond looks. It has to do with character, who they are on the inside, qualities they will still have long after beauty has faded.

Today we conclude the lessons we can learn from the Eagle. These lessons are great for persons who are dating, courting, in a relationship or married. It puts in perspective the role of each person and the importance of being with the right person. 

Lesson #5

The Eagle tests before it trusts.When a female eagle meets a male and they want to mate,she flies down to earth and picks a twig then flies back up to the air with the male pursuing her. Once she has reached a height high enough for her she let’s the twig fall to the ground and watches it as it falls. The male chases after the twig, the faster it falls, the faster he chases it. He has to catch it before it hits the ground and bring it back to the female eagle. This goes on for hours on end with the height increasing each time until the female eagle is assured that the male eagle has mastered the art of catching the twig which shows commitment. Then and only then will she allow him to mate with her.

Wow, this is an amazing lesson especially for those who are courting or dating. Oftentimes we allow our emotions to guide our decisions as it relates to who we should marry and this sometimes leads to divorce or a life of misery. Test your partners before marriage. See how committed he or she is to you. See,  part of the test for the female eagle is to determine if the male eagle can catch their baby eagles if they should fall. This is an important thing for the female eagle because she understands that her babies won’t have the strength when they are born and oftentimes will fall from their nests. She needs to be assured that he is able to catch them when they fall, which could happen several times. Be deliberate in your choices for a partner

Lesson #6

When ready to lay eggs, the female and male eagle identify a place very high on a cliff, where no predator can reach. The male flies to earth and picks thorns and lays them on the crevice cliff then flies to earth again to collect twigs which he lays in the intended nest. He flies back to earth and picks soft grass to cover the thorns. When this first layering is complete, the male eagle flies back to pick more thorns and lay them on the nest then gets grass on top of the thorns, then plucks his feathers to complete the nest.

Both male and female eagles participate in raising the eagle family. She lays the eggs and protects them; he builds the nest and hunts. During the time of training the young ones to fly, the mother eagle throws the eaglets out of the nest. Because they are scared, they jump into the nest again. Next she throws them out and then takes off the soft layers of the nest, leaving the thorns bare. When the scared eaglets again jump into the nest, they are pricked by thorns. Shrieking and bleeding they jump out again, this time wondering why the mother and father, who love them so much, are torturing them. Next, mother eagle pushes them off the cliff into the air. As they shriek in fear, father eagle flies out and catches them up in his back before they hit the ground and brings them back to the cliff, this goes on for sometime until they start flapping their wings. They get excited at this new found knowledge that they can fly.

This lesson is multi-faceted because the roles of different members of the family are evident here. This is a perfect example of each person functioning in his or her role. This is why the female eagle had to test the male before she had its babies. She understands her role and she knows that she needs the male to be a protector and a provider. The baby eagles have to learn to fly and both mother and father are integral in this role. I know that there are single parents reading this blog and I must celebrate you for playing dual roles because it is not easy for both parents let alone one. When each person functions in his/her role then there is a harmonious relationship that exists that is beneficial for all. Do some assessment and see how your family is functioning and see if you are functioning well in your role.

Lesson  #7

When an eagle grows old, his feathers become weak and cannot take him as far as he should go. When he feels weak and about to die, he retires to a place far away in the rocks. While there, he plucks out every feather on his body until he is completely bare. He stays in this hiding place until he has grown new feathers, then he can come out.

There are some things when we have to do some shedding in order to live. Sometimes this involves pulling away from some people, things or work related things that are draining the life out of you. You have to know when to quit, when to say no and when to let go of people and things that are not good for you. I have learnt that being busy does not mean that you are progressing. We often confuse movement with progress. I can jog on the same spot for hours and I am in the same position I was when I started. Stay in your hiding place for as long as it takes and then when you reemerge you are stronger and better than before. Do not fall in the trap of wanting to be seen to determine your worth. Most of the powerful men and women in the bible gained strength when they were alone in a desert or wilderness. 

Which lesson are you not adhering to? What adjustments do you have to make?

7 Lessons From the Eagle(Part 1)

When a storm is coming, all other birds seek shelter. The eagle alone avoids the storm by flying above it. So, in the storms of life may your heart be like an eagle’s and soar above.

As we navigate this world, we will inevitably face situations that are challenging. We will face many difficult situations that will make or break us. Many of us will feel that we have to throw in the towel and give up. However, I want to draw attention to the eagle and examine several lessons that we can learn from it.

Lesson # 1. Eagles fly alone at high altitudes and not with sparrows or other small birds.No other bird can get to the height of the eagle.

There is a saying that we are the sum of the five people we hang around. They generally reflect who we are and the choices we make. There are times that we have to fly alone. Sometimes the Lord will take you through a season where it seems like no one is with you as you try to make sense of what is happening around you. It is during this season that he’s building your character and shaping you to be a better person. The truth is where you are going, not everyone can follow you on that journey.

To overcome the challenges that you face you need to fly at higher altitude; that represents attaining higher levels of knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Change is proportionate to your level of wisdom.

Lesson #2

Eagles have strong vision.They have the ability to focus on something up to five kilometres away. When an Eagle sites his prey he narrows it. No matter the obstacle, the eagle will not move his focus from the prey until he grabs it.

Do not lose focus. Like the eagle be vigilant and spot what you need and pursue it. Many times we get distracted in life because of our circumstances. There are times when we forego our goals because we get distracted by unimportant things. We have to  learn how to be laser focused on what God has called us to, our goals and our purpose. The eagle is not distracted by the other birds around it as it pursues its prey.

Lesson #3

Eagles do not eat dead things.They feed only on fresh prey. Vultures eat dead animals but eagles will not. 

Be careful what you feed your mind daily. There are some things that we ought to let go of that we have held onto for years. Many of them drive our actions and our desires. They make us stagnant because we are feeding on things in the past. There are some people who cannot move on with family members and friends because they are holding on to things that happened in the past. There are some people who are afraid to make a leap of faith because of what they have heard in the past. Whatever it is, be open to newness and change instead of stagnancy.

Lesson # 4

Eagles love the storm. When clouds gather, eagles get excited. The eagle uses the storm’s wind to lift it higher. Once it finds the wind of the storm it then uses the raging storm to lift itself above the clouds. This gives the eagle an opportunity to glide and rest its wings. In the meantime, all the other birds hide in the leaves and branches of the trees.

This is quite the opposite response that we have as humans. And it is understandable because we are not built like the eagle. One thing we have learnt however is that the storms are not there to break us, but to make us stronger. See, the eagle uses the force of the raging wind to propel it higher and once it is above the cloud it can rest its wings. We fight against the storm and as a result we get burnt out and get frustrated. It is in the moment we start blaming and cursing God. But, what if we embraced the challenges of life and rode them out. I know what you are thinking, it is easier said than done. Absolutely! Many of these storms are painful and sometimes involve death and some serious emotional pain. One thing I have learnt however, is that my response to something determines how long I am in an emotional turmoil. So, let us, however difficult, see the storms of life as opportunities for growth and healing.

We will be looking at the other 3 lessons that we can learn from the Eagle in the next post.

God, Are You Okay?

God has wonderful things prepared to tell and give to all those who have truly come to know Him—things which human understanding alone will never see.

Years ago I listened to Jesse Duplantis on TBN and what he said revolutionized my life. He said one day he got up in the morning and he went into his usual time of communing with God, but something was different. He said the presence of God felt different and it prompted him to ask the Lord if he was ok. He said it was almost as if God was not in a good mood. This struck me because never in my life have I ever thought of asking God if he is doing ok. I was a teenager at the time and I was very new in my walk with God. But at that time I only heard about prayer as bringing my problems, issues and concerns to God. But what Jesse was describing here was fellowship with God and a relationship with God. One that was so intimate that he could detect when someone was different about God.

This changed how I saw my walk with God. No longer would I enter prayer just reeling off a list of things I want him to change or do for me. Prayer is dialogue with God, not a monologue or soliloquy. It is a time when we commune with God. Imagine me going to my husband and I am just reeling off things that I want him to do without giving him a chance to talk. And, after I am finished, I just say “amen” and walk away. All this time, he has so much to say to me but I didn’t even give him a chance to speak. What if this is how our entire relationship is? I would not even know who he is because I never gave him the chance to speak. Guess what? God has a lot to say. He actually speaks a lot and if we are just quiet enough, we will actually hear him. 

Jesse Duplantis went on to say that God responded to his question by saying, “Ahh Jesse, my children” and sighed. Jesse in that moment recognising that God was having some things  that bothered him, decided to spend the day with God. He said he cleared his schedule and told God that he would spend the entire day with him. This too had me in shock because I do not think I have ever thought of God having a day when he was bothered or saddened by the evil of this world. Some of you may read this and find it incredulous and even say we are humanising God and ascribing emotions to him. But, we may have been seeing him a different light all this time. God has always craved relationship and fellowship with man. He walked in the garden with Adam. His desire is to commune with us and not just for us to tell him about our problems. Can we ask God how his day was? Can we ask God about the things in us that are not pleasing to him? Can we ask God what displeases him? Of course we can, and we should. 

Seek to build a relationship with God where you seek his heart and his face. Get to know him and not just regurgitate all the adjectives we hear persons in church say all the time. Do not get me wrong, nothing is wrong with saying God is a provider, healer, protector. But, there is so much more to him and some of these things we find out through a personal relationship with him Seek to know him more. God is not emotional and he doesn’t react to things the way we do. But it does not mean that things do not bother him. Let us seek to build a stronger relationship with him through reading his word, spending time in his presence and prayer.

Let us pray: Lord we come to you through your son Jesus Christ. Lord, we pray that we will seek to know you more and the things that concern you. Help us to see you, not only as a provider, but also as a friend and a wonderful father. Help us to seek your heart and your face. Help us to have a close relationship with you where we will know you beyond a head knowledge. In Jesus’ name…amen.

Was Trump God’s Choice?

“While Cyrus is not Jewish and does not worship the God of Israel, he is nevertheless portrayed in Isaiah as an instrument of God — an unwitting conduit through which God effects his divine plan for history. Cyrus is, therefore, the archetype of the unlikely “vessel”: someone God has chosen for an important historical purpose, despite not looking like — or having the religious character of — an obvious man of God.” Tara Burton

In 2016 I was vehemently against Donald Trump and all that he stood for. Like many persons around the world, I saw many stories about him being a misogynistic, racist, xenophobe among many colorful adjectives. I was in utter shock and dismay when he won. How could this have happened? How could America love and even elect someone who seems so clearly awful and unworthy? I remembered having a discussion in my department and a Christian colleague said the night of the election the Lord told her that Trump would win. She said she asked him if that’s what he wanted and his response was yes. Imagine my shock and awe that that could be a remote possibility. 

As the years progressed, things seemed to get progressively worst. Latent racism seemed to rare its ugly head and those who were covert racists, now seemed like overt racists. The media highlighted every possible negatives and it did matter how “severe” these actions seemed, Trump supporters never wavered in their love and devotion to him.

And so it got me thinking. Are they seeing something that we are not? Are they racists and he’s merely a reflection of their heart? It was unfathomable. But, that couldn’t be possible true, could it? I do not believe that almost 80 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump are racists or all the other colorful adjectives ascribed to him. So, what is it that they saw, that we didn’t? 

As I delved deeper, I recognized that those who are Christians were his biggest and most loyal supporters. This seemed contradictory, but I wanted to understand why. This is what I discovered. Trump had policies that were in alignment with the word of God. He pushed religious freedom. He’s against abortion and homosexuality.  According to DesmoinesRegister, an online newspaper,”Trump’s election came as religious liberty was under unprecedented attack. The Obama administration was trying to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their religious conscience and facilitate payment for abortifacient drugs and other contraceptives. During oral arguments in the Obergefell v. Hodges case, President Barack Obama’s solicitor general told the Supreme Court that churches and universities could lose their tax-exempt status if they opposed same-sex marriage.”  The article went on to state that Hillary Clinton would have advanced these Obama measures. 

It became clear that people loved Trump because some of his policies were more in line with that of God. Is he a flawed individual? Certainly. But did he have policies that are in line with Christian beliefs? Certainly. 

See many will say but he’s racist, he incited violence, he …too many things to finish. And all of that may be true, but most evangelicals were looking at the person who would promote God through policies. Many will say, it was a ploy to appease his base. But is it the case that he was being used by God? Is he the Cyrus of this generation? So love him or hate him as Christians are we promoting and celebrating those who are anti-God in their policies or those who will promote God and his word. 

My view on Trump the man has not changed, but my view on Trump the President changed. I do believe he served a purpose and God’s hand was in his ascension to the presidency.

Lessons From the Chinese Bamboo

Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times. . . . Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.
Ping Fu

The Chinese bamboo takes five years to grow. Like any plant to flourish, the Chinese Bamboo Tree requires nurturing – water, fertile soil, sunshine. In the first year, there are no visible signs of activity or development. In the second year, again, no growth above the soil. And the third and fourth, still no signs. Patience is tested and we begin tho wonder if our efforts will ever be rewarded. All we are seeing is just the soil that we are watering day in day out. Finally in the fifth year – voila! There is growth…and what growth it is! The Chinese Bamboo Tree grows 80 feet (nearly 30m) in just six weeks!

So the question is: Does the Chinese Bamboo Tree really grow 80 feet in six weeks? Did it lie dormant for four years only to grow exponentially in the fifth? Or, was the little tree growing underground, developing a root system and a stable base strong enough to support its potential for outward growth in the fifth year and beyond? 

The answer is obvious, it was growing underground all this time. 

There are things in life that you have been watering day in day out. People may have “passed you watering” your bamboo tree and because it is not visible to the naked eye, they may start laughing. They may ridicule you because it is taking so long. In fact some of them have watered their plants and reaped a harvest long before yours even start showing. Some even had multiple harvests. But do not get discouraged because just like the Chinese bamboo, what seems like an impossibility, will come to fruition and it will be visible for all to see. And what a sight it will be.

Oftentimes we get depressed because we allow society to set the timelines for our lives. Society tells us that the ideal time to get married is twenty five or twenty six years old for females and thirty for males. Society tells us that we should have children approximately two years after marriage. Society tells us that we should have a degree and a “good” job. Society tells us the ideal weight, height, social status etc. Society tells us that we must have our home and car by a certain age even if it means acquiring debt in order to achieve them. If we dare deviate from these impositions, we are seen as lacking, or unaccomplished. Many of us use these deadlines or timelines to measure our worth or success.

But, I dare you to chart your own path. Water your Chinese bamboo however long takes . Seek God for his direction for your life. Do not allow anyone to make you feel that you are too old or too young to accomplish your dreams. Dance to the beat or your drum that is divinely composed. We are divinely made and God has a plan for our us. Seek him and you will know what it is.

Life is a Book

Life is like a book. There are good chapters, and there are bad chapters. But when you get to a bad chapter, you don’t stop reading the book! If you do… then you never get to find out what happens next!
Brian Falkner

Imagine opening a book you have never read  at chapter 10 and you start disliking the main character because of an action he or she did in that chapter. Wouldn’t it be crazy to do that? In fact, one might say that it is stupid. Right?

Can it be done? Certainly. Will you get the broader picture in terms of who the person is? Absolutely not. Atticus Finch in the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, told his daughter Scout that in order to understand people, she has to walk around in their skin. See, this goes beyond what we have heard as it relates to “walking a day in my shoes”. Walking in someone’s shoes is easier than wearing their skin. It requires a deeper level of empathy and understanding. 

Our lives are like books, and when we meet an individual, we start at a particular chapter. It is foolish to judge someone based on where we meet him/her on that journey. It is almost impossible to hate someone once you get to know them. For years, I hated my grandfather. You read that right, I hated him. We feared him as children and breathed a sigh of relief every time he left the house. Countless times he abused my grandmother and we witnessed it as children. So for years, I hated him. What was interesting though is that my grandmother never treated him the way he treated her. She showered him with love, much to my dismay. I just couldn’t understand how she could still treat him with such respect and honour. Years later, he was terminally ill with prostate cancer and he stayed with us a little. One day when we were alone, he began opening up. And for the first time in my life, I saw the previous chapters of his life and immediately understood why he was the way he was. Now, don’t get me wrong, understanding someone doesn’t excuse the bad behavior. What it does however, is allow us to walk around in their skin a little. Things started making sense. Actions by the person now have a deeper meaning than what you thought when you entered that particular chapter in his or her life. 

I cried when my grandfather died, something I thought I would never do. But, he allowed me to see him through a different lens and I was no longer angry with him. I still know he was wrong for his actions and that there was absolutely no excuse for those actions. However, I was able to SEE him for the first time and I understood why he felt he had to react that way. 

Oftentimes we write a person off because of where we start reading his/her book. The truth is, if we take the time to understand someone a little bit more we can not only love them flaws and all, but we are in a position to effect change. Do not write off anyone. Do not write off yourself. See, this is why people cannot understand how God could love the vilest of sinners. He doesn’t start in the middle of the book, he knows the beginning and the end. He knows the heart most importantly and sees things in others and in us that others can’t. 

Who have you written off ? Have you asked yourself why that person is the way he/she is? Or have you formed your perception and you are sticking to it even though you are starting the book in the middle? To truly understand someone walk around in their skin a little, or a lot for that matter. Love is not just loving those who love us and are nice to us. The true test of love is to serve those who have hurt you. Can you do it?

How are you coping during the pandemic?

“You never really know what’s coming. A small wave, or maybe a big one. All you can really do is hope that when it comes, you can surf over it, instead of drown in its monstrosity.
Alysha Spee

2020 is a heavy year and many people are praying for the year to end in hopes that 2021 will be better. But what if it is isn’t? How will we cope?

Life as we know it has turned upside down. Some of the basic human interactions are now taboo. It is not advisable to hug, stand close or shake hands. Children are pulled from school and are now staring at a screen in order to be a part of the teaching/learning experience. Our churches don’t look the same anymore as many have seen a reduction in membership, in order to facilitate social distancing. Many persons have lost their jobs and have filed for unemployment in some countries where that is allowed. Forecasters have declared that the world is now in an economic recession, which is worse than it was during the Great Depression. Millions around the world have contracted the virus, and sadly over one million people around the world died. There seems to be no end in sight and it would appear that there is no going back to any semblance of normalcy soon.

All those aforementioned are dark, gloomy and depressing. Many have even committed suicide because of the weight of it all. But, dare I say that there is some good in all of this? The Bible says, “In all things give thanks”. And I KNOW that it is one of the most difficult things to do when everything is going wrong. How do you give thanks when you don’t feel grateful? How do you give thanks in the face of death and destruction? I know it is hard. However, one of the things I have sought to do during this horrible time is to identify things in my life that I can be grateful for. I am going to encourage us all to do the same. What are some positive things that are happening in your life?

I have seen the best in humanity in this pandemic. Many companies have sought to help those who are less fortunate a lot more than they did in the past. Many innovators have created things that are assisting many in this pandemic. The earth in a lot of ways seems to be healing itself as man is not polluting it as was the norm. Many families have more interactions and are closer now than they have ever been. Persons who felt that they couldn’t learn new things, are now learning more about technology among other things. We have become more self conscious about hygiene and sanitization. We are forced to respect personal space and to allow persons breathing room. 

The point I am making is, yes horrible things are happening that we can’t ignore. However, in order to maintain our sanity and wellbeing, we have to focus on the positives happening in our lives and around us. Anything outside of that will plunge us into depression and bouts of anxiety. So, I encourage you today to write at least three positives that you have either experienced or those around you have experienced. In addition, think of ways in which you can assist those around you who may be going through a difficult time. I do believe that this pandemic requires that we take a multifaceted approach to assist not only ourselves, but others. 

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. Numbers 6:24-26

Do You Find it Easy to Forgive?

But if you forgive someone for something they did to you, it doesn’t mean you agree with what they did or believe it was right. Forgiving that person means you have chosen not to dwell on the matter anymore; you have moved on with your life.

Lessons from my grandma.

My grandmother’s birthday is September 9 and she passed away a few years back. Her death was one of the most painful experiences of my life. One thing I did in order to deal with the grief I was experiencing, was to focus on the lessons she left for me throughout her life. This is one of those lessons. 

Recently I heard someone saying, “Whatever anyone has done or will ever do to hurt me in any way, I have already made the decision to forgive them.” 

When I first heard that statement, I immediately thought it was just one of those theoretical babbles that we spew that is impossible to live by. As I reflected today on the life of my grandma I realized that even though she never uttered these words, she actually lived these words. My grandma is one of the easiest persons to please, just show her ONE act of kindness and she’s indebted to you forever. She forgives in a heartbeat. If she’s upset with us and we rub her neck or knees( she’s afraid of both) she starts laughing and  that’s the end of the dispute. 

She had an elephant brain, she remembered everything, (in fact anything we wanted to remember we asked her about it) and what was always amazing is when I mentioned things that I said or done to her that were not some of my proudest memories, she said  she can’t recall me doing anything of the sort. It is like I never did it because they were erased from her memory. In fact, she always said, “I’m going to use the good to cover the bad”when someone did  anything to hurt her. And so instead of remembering them based on the “bad” she would speak consistently about the good they have done. 

She has been hurt in some of the worst ways imaginable and her interaction with those who have hurt her belie the depths of the hurt. She always told us, if you can’t forgive others, then God can’t forgive you. She always said, “I understand, but for peace sake let it go”. Her life was an example for many and I pray that I will also live her example throughout my life.

Ephesians 4:31-32 – Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Mark 11:25 – And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Colossians 3:13 – Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Is God really good??

The thing I can’t walk away from is that the Bible doesn’t just say that God does good things. It says that God IS good. It’s not just what he does; it’s who he is — and who he is never changes.

One of the things I had to learn early in my walk with Jesus is, being a Christian doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen to you. Many persons get angry with God because they have the view that once they are Christians, nothing bad should happen. There are persons who have walked away from the Lord because bad things were happening in their lives. Many persons cannot reconcile the phrase, “God is good” with negative things affecting them.

But let us examine it a bit. Most of the persons in the Bible experienced challenges that many of us could not endure. Yet, they praised God anyway. I have struggled with this for years, because I could not reconcile God being good with “bad” things happening. Somehow, I confused him being good with the actions of others or things happening in my life. Years ago in my teenage years I was almost raped and it left me traumatized. It was not a stranger, it was a trusted family friend. The irony is that I was home alone and my mom was concerned,  because she was asked to work overtime and she did not want me to be alone. So she asked him to come over to keep me “safe”. When he came by she felt like a weight was lifted off her because she knew her daughter was safe. Crazy right?? The fact is, he stayed with me many times and never tried anything remotely close to what he tried that dreadful day. So, when he came I was actually happy. I didn’t want to be alone knowing how bad some people were and they may try to hurt me. 

Neither my mom nor I could have envisioned what would have happened next. Whilst my mom was breathing a sigh of relief that I was “safe”, I was fighting for my purity. I was so confused in that moment, that even now it seems like a blur. He did not fit the profile of those I was told to be scared of. Afterall, he’s not the “bad stranger” I was told never to speak to. This was someone who was older and someone I trusted. How could this be happening? 

Suffice it to say, I was one of the lucky few who was escaped rape in that frightening moment. I fought, I threw things at him, I screamed, I bit his fingers and screamed  at the top of my lungs until he ran out of the house. I sat there in a  daze, too shocked to move. I shook like a leaf and for about an hour, I could not move. There were so many questions in my 14 year old mind. One of which was, “How could God allow this  to happen to me?”

It haunted me for years and affected many relationships. It made me guarded and it is extremely difficult to open up to others. Others have said, “Thank God it didn’t happen” and I would say, “Why did he allow it to almost happen in the first place?” Years later in my twenties, I broke down one day in my room and told God that I couldn’t carry this pain anymore and I felt for the first time a peace I never experienced before. I confronted God about what I considered was “his part” in all of it. 

There are a number of things I learnt through this experience. 

  1. The presence of sin in this world will cause bad things to happen. 
  2. God allows some things to happen even when it is bad for various reasons 
  3. There are some things we will never get the answer for. 
  4. My definition of good, is not necessarily God’s definition of good. 

Once I grasped this, it was one of the first times Christianity did not appear as a fairytale to me. This experience allowed me to see that God being good doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen to us. God being good is who he is.  It allowed me to see the good in bad situations. This experience has shaped who I am in a lot of good ways. This experience actually pushed me into teaching(as a profession) and to pursue a masters in Counselling Psychology. Every institution I have taught, there are students who I was sent to minister to specifically who have and are dealing with a similar situation, or have been raped. 

The Bible NEVER said bad things wouldn’t happen to us, it has said however that he will never leave us nor forsake us. I know many of us cannot accept that or grasp that “bad” things will happen but we have to understand that man was given free will. And part of that is that there are those who choose to do bad things and unfortunately, it will affect others. It doesn’t mean that God is not good, nor does it mean that he doesn’t care about what happens to us. 

Ever heard someone who missed an accident saying, “God is good”? Or someone who should have been on a plane that crashed? Or someone who survived a pandemic that killed millions? God is indeed good. But, what about those who died? Should they say God is not good? This is why our view of God’s goodness cannot be myopic. I cannot be according to our subjective definition of “good”. God is good even when bad things happen because that’s just who he is. His goodness is not transient, it does not change. 

Isaiah 43:2 ESV 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

Are You Settling?

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

Are you settling for less than you are capable of? There are many reasons why we find ourselves doing this. Two of these reasons are: One, we believe we do not have much to offer. And the other reason is that we believe if we settle then things may eventually change over time.

The thing about settling for less is that it never challenges you. It limits your growth and it is like poison. Settling for less suffocates you to the highest level. What we don’t comprehend is that the human mind and body was made to outgrow its environment.

We are made to be constantly developing and advancing. Our age increases every year, we gain or lose weight over time, our knowledge and skills develop over time.. Our experiences shape us. So you see we were made to always outgrow ourselves and potentials.

The sky is limited to what we can see, but there is a sky beyond the sky. Settling for less have you functioning at your minimum.Maximizing your self, positions you for growth. Sometimes we don’t have much to offer because we put a cap on what we can or can not do.

We don’t test the water to see if we can develop a love for this thing over time. 

We are quick to shoot down our own ideas, instead of finding out how we can start with what we have. Sometimes we have to do something and allow the beautiful and generosity of life to chauffeur us into greatness. You should have an idea about where you want to go, but you should not limit yourself to that idea. Sometimes you have to have an expectation that says, “this will blow my mind”. 

The sad reality about settling is that you find yourself settling in a relationship that is going nowhere. You find yourself settling in a job with all your business ideas (Saying one day I will start my own business), but you find yourself unable to start because you became comfortable in your discomfort. And you spend the next twenty years complaining about a job that you don’t like simply because you are afraid of the unknown. You know you are called to do more, but you settle for less. 

Setting for less causes so many things to never manifest because it stifles growth , it buries potentials and it prevents you from living your authentic life and functioning in your purpose. 

I have had my fair share of settling for less because I thought  I had nothing much to offer. Also, I settled because the bigger picture I had was not big enough. 

Potentials begin with small steps and we fail to get that.

Sometimes you have to go in the  depths of nothingness to dig up innovations and life changing ideas, and make them emerge. 

Somethings in life you are born qualified for and you have to be confident in that which has been deposited in you. The more confident you become about your abilities, innovations , self, ideas etc is the more those things grow and blossom into something explosive.

You don’t need to always believe you are the best at what you do. But you can believe I have qualities and value to offer too..

The world needs what I have, I don’t want to be a thief by robbing others of what I am supposed to give to them through my talents, gifts, business and inventions.

Do not settle for less, you are more than what you think of yourself and you were made to outgrow limitations and blossom.

Philippians 4:13

New King James Version

13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

This shows us that we have no limits in God. 

Ephesians 3:20

New King James Version

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.

God wants to blow your mind.

This blog was contributed by Latoya Reid.

Can You Trust Your Heart?

Recently the Lord has been searching my heart and revealing aspects of it that are not in alignment with his will and way. This is shocking me a bit because I had what I thought was a good idea of who I am. What the Lord was revealing about my motives and thought pattern stumped me. But what it has done is to show me the truth of the scripture in Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” This scripture highlights the deceptive nature of our hearts. It is desperately wicked and deceptive. Thank God for salvation because we can not trust our heart, and without Jesus, our propensity to do evil is great. 

This scripture also allows me to see David through the lens of God. We all know about David. He committed adultery with a man’s wife. He tried to deceive the man by bringing him home from war to sleep with his wife. When Uriah didn’t do as was expected, David asked that he be placed at the front of the battle which is the most vulnerable part of the battle. This resulted in the death of Uriah. In this situation, David committed adultery and murder. It always boggled my mind that God referred to David as a man after his heart. You see, as humans we would judge David and call him murderer and adulterer for the rest of his life. God however saw his heart. David repented after Nathan the prophet highlighted his sin. His response to this is found in Psalm 51, a scripture many of us quote from time to time. This in no way means that God turned a blind eye to his sin. In fact David paid for that sin because the baby that was conceived through this act of adultery, died. What is interesting to note however, is that God knew who David was and his heart towards him. This is why he said David was a man after his heart. Can God say the same about us?

The Bible says man looks at the outward appearance, but God examines the heart 1st Samuel 16:7. God has a vantage point that man does not have, he is able to see motives and the heart of man. So when we ask God to search our hearts, he’s able to reveal things that we are sometimes ignorant of about ourselves. But, this searching is necessary. It allows us to be in the right standing with God and man. So go ahead and ask him to search your heart and know your thoughts and see if there are any wicked ways in you.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

Relationship over Religion

Such is my relationship with God: on my gigantic canvass of life, I am the one throwing all of the brightly-colored paints, creating genuine splatters, authentic whirlpools of color, beautiful patterns, wonderful streaks and stains and wild accents; God is the one with the paintbrush who stands beside my canvass filling all the intricate and amazing details in between the whirlpools and the streaks! We’re happy together! C. Joybell.C

I got baptized at the age of 14. It was an exciting time for me, but it was also a confusing time. Within a few days, several persons from different denominations came to my house to minister the gospel. These were persons who walked the streets and stopped at various houses to evangelize the gospel. 

What I found strange in a number of these cases was, when I told them I was a Christian, they still sought to “win” me over. The Pentecostals told me that I had to be re baptized because I was not baptized in Jesus’ name. The Adventists told me I am not saved because I was worshiping on the wrong day. The Mormons told me that Joseph Smith ought to be a central figure for me. Suffice it to say, I was confused. So, I did only what I knew to do then…I sought the Lord for clarity. I spent the next few weeks reading the scriptures and praying. 

In those moments with God, he illuminated his word to me like never before. If I even had a question in my mind, The Spirit of God directed me to a particular scripture that answered that question. The Spirit of God and my spirit were in sync and I got to know him more than ever before. My relationship with him blossomed. We spoke daily and he told me things to do and there were days we just had conversations about random things. It was in these moments I realized that ,of a truth, God’s desire is to fellowship with man. He’s not far removed that we can’t have a relationship with him. He enjoys when we are in his presence. 

A few months after my encounters with God, I began telling my friends about him. These were all teenagers who were caught up with so many trends and happenings at the time. But what I found amazing was that they would run for lunch and returned to hear me sharing about God. I did not present a day of worship to them. I did not present any dogmas. I simply shared Jesus. I did not know the effect that this sharing was having until one day a friend of mine said to me, “ Stacy, I want what you have with Jesus”. She said I made Jesus seem so real and personable. I told her that he is and he desires the same relationship with her. She was transformed that day. You see the truth is God still desires that same relationship with us like he had with Adam(it was a part of his original plan). He still wants to come down in the cool of the day and fellowship with us. He’s not a figure in the sky. He’s not an elusive deity that we have no access to. He still talks and wants to talk to us. He craves fellowship with man. A lot of people feel empty because based on our very design, man must fellowship with God. This emptiness can not be filled with anything but him. 

I implore you therefore to get to know him. Commune with him. He wants to talk with you. He wants to fellowship with you. He wants you to see his face and his heart. He absolutely adores you and wants to have a relationship with you.

Who Are You?

Who you are is not determined by what you wear, the money in your wallet, nor how you look. Who you are is simply determined by who or what you follow. Mary Kate

My first son is the splitting image of my husband. He not only looks exactly like him, but their mannerisms are similar. Everywhere we go, people mention how similar they look. They have the same size beauty spot in the same position on their bodies. It is scary to me sometimes how similar they are. But, he is his father’s son.

Imagine, walking around and people exclaiming how similar we are to Jesus. What would that look like? How does the Bible describe us? 

1. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139:14

2. I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. Psalm 82:6

3. And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them: Deut 28:13

These are just three of the MANY descriptions of who we are, according to the word of God. But, do we walk around like we believe these things God has said about us? Let us even examine our thoughts and how we see ourselves. The Bible says we are gods, because we are the sons of God. This is in no way saying persons should worship us, or that we ought to be puffed up with pride. It simply means that we are made in the image and likeness of God. We are like God, we have his DNA imprinted in us. Imagine being born into a Royal family, how would you act? What would your life be like? Well guess what, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” 1st Peter 2:9. Therefore if we are like God, we have the power and authority that he has given Jesus. We can declare a thing and it is established, just as he spoke the world into being. We can lay hands on the sick and they recover, just like Jesus did while on earth. I hope you are getting where I am going.

We operate how we see ourselves and how we see God. God has given us dominion and authority and oftentimes we operate as if we are bastards, instead of sons. We do not walk in dominion. We are not ordinary because the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, lives within us. Change how you see yourself? See yourself as a son and a daughter. The moment you KNOW who you are, you will operate differently. 

Examine yourself today. How do you see yourself? Your actions will tell you exactly how you see yourself and how you see God. 

Who are you?

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