Sunday, 13 November 2011

If the world hates you....

John 15:18-19 - “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
Over the past two months a situation has unfolded in my life, and I have become the focal point of a few people's anger, and hatred. The main reason being my faith in Jesus Christ. I was faced with the decision of 'taking a stand for my faith' or 'keeping the peace'. I found it really hard to know what to do as the bible mentions both as being positive things to do. So I had to ask myself a question Paul asks in Galatians 6:10 - Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. It made me realize that in this case, keeping the peace would be simply to please those around me, and it would be at the expense of being silent about my faith...which is one thing I swore I would never do - so I took a stand. All of a sudden, I was hated, by someone I had stepped out for, and reached out to...I always wondered how I would react in this kind of situation, and I really liked to think that I would react in love, courage and strength! But I disappointed myself when I only responded in hurt, and anger. I kept asking 'Lord, what have I done wrong? I have shown love, I have tried to do right, I am not lashing out - what more can I do?' - And the first thing that sprung to mind was the verse at the top of this post. John 15:18 - Its one I memorized 2 years ago, and I dont often think about it if I am honest. But all of a sudden, its become my constant comfort throughout this situation. The 'world' hates me.... but it hated Jesus first. My Jesus, my perfect saviour, the man who laid down His life for me. Perfect in kindness, perfect in humility, perfect in love - this wonderful man was HATED. And yet, I seem surprised when I am?? Me, this imperfect, selfish, impatient human being! How much easier is it to hate me...than Jesus. When I think about the pain and hurt I have felt in this situation (not only for myself, but also for another person it has affected) - all I can think about is how much pain and anguish my Jesus must have felt as he lay nailed to that cross for me, all the while knowing that I would reject Him time and time again. Knowing that I would hurt Him and turn away from Him several times before I began to understand what He had done for me. My hurt, my pain - its nothing in comparison. He knew the pain He was going to experience, He knew I would reject Him, but he still walked into that pain for me! And for that very reason, I should be willing to walk into pain for Him. Not fearing the consequence, rejection, pain and hurt that lies ahead of me...but instead, focussing on the joy that awaits me when I know I took a stand for the one thing I hold dearest - My faith!

I was determined to hold firm to this decision, and it is becoming increasingly difficult, as the things being said about me come back to me, as I learn that as I try to show love it is being returned by lies being said about my faith...and the more my words are twisted. It is such a frustrating situation to be in, why is it the nicer I attempt to be the harder this situation becomes? Then another verse came to mind - Proverbs 25:21-22 - If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you. Makes perfect sense! I was encouraged to be reminded that sometimes having the right attitude will not fix someone elses attitude, as a matter of fact..sometimes it will make others angrier! As of today, the lies and malicious talk continue to fly around...and the situation is ongoing. I am praying for a fresh dose of humility daily...praying that I will continue to hold my tongue, and take this for my faith. I pray daily that God will help me know how to respond to the lies and hurtful comments - and as always, God is faithful...I smiled when I read today's verses in my daily reading:

Matt 5:11-12 - Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

1 Peter 2:15-16 - For it is Gods will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover up for evil, live as Gods slaves.

Anyhow, I just wanted to encourage you all - that when you are being targeted because of your faith, even in a small way - to keep running to God to restore your strength, and to daily try and focus on him, and not get carried away with the pettiness and malicious talk. I want to encourage you to set yourself apart from  the world and never compromise your faith. It will hurt, but its nothing in comparison to the hurt God felt for us. I also want you to praise God when you are persecuted in small ways, praise Him and thank Him that you are not in a situation of persecution as dangerous as alot of christians around the world. Also, amidst your hurtful situation, maybe you are losing friendships, or family relationships over your faith, or your name is being dragged through the ground, just remember in prayer, those whose lives are at risk for the same faith. Pray for their they watch each other be killed, or tortured. A little perspective has helped me in my situation so much! 

Much love, 

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

We're Engaged!

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. 

There is nothing more surreal, than having the man you love asking you to spend the rest of your life with him. Its a combination of shock, joy, fear, elation & hope. The shock is from pure disbelief that I am loved enough by this incredible person for him to actually want to marry me. The joy of knowing that I get to spend the rest of my life getting to know him, enjoying his company & growing in our friendship. The fear of failing him...which is inevitable. And the hope that this moment is as special for him, as it is for me. God has given me many, many wonderful gifts. God has provided me with so much. But aside from my salvation, never, have I felt as overwhelmed with gratitude to God as I did the moment Jonny proposed to me. I was humbled to know that despite my inadequacies, despite my selfishness and shortfalls - despite all the ugliness in my heart, that God still loves me enough to bless me with this wonderful gift of a man, and Jonny still loves me enough to want to love me more, and for longer! With every new stage of life, comes the question 'surely I am not ready for this??'- I asked this question when I left school, left home, left my country, began working in ministry, and when I became engaged. When I think about it I realize I was not ready for any of those things. We never are really. Deep down I still feel like a 12 year old girl who has no idea what she is doing. But God gives me what I need to handle each new day, He equips me for each journey. He gives me more than I could ever hope for. Strength, patience, courage, love....he is a generous God.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Humility - True Greatness!

Humility... I am so desperately seeking it. Seeking daily to throw off my pride. So many situations this week could have done with me responding in humility, rather than the pride I chose instead. No matter how injust, or unfair a situation is, I know that as christians, we are called to always respond in humility. And I am so humbled (excuse the pun) by this, because I fall so so short. There are three reasons, well, three main reasons that I seek humility... Firstly, I want to be like my Jesus, and He, despite being God, humbled Himself to becoming a servant. Secondly - The bible tells us to be humble - both these points are made clear by this passage: Phil 2:3 - Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:Who being in very nature God, did not consider equatlity with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, and being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! The third reason I seek humility is because of a verse in Isaiah. A verse that just amazes me, because, it shows that humility draws the gaze of God. It draws the gaze of our sovereign God! Isaiah 66:2 says - This is the one to whom I will look: He who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word! So, to be clear, I seek humility because 1)God asks me to be humble. 2)Jesus was humble, and I want to be like Him. 3)Humility draws the gaze of God! When I see someone behaving like they are above the rules, or who have no respect for authority, I just want to give them a mouthful. Pride. When I have to be made to feel that my part in my job is not as important as the next persons, I want to tell them to stop being so prideful...but wait...thats pride. pride pride pride. I dont want to be that person that speaks her mind, says what she thinks, lets you know when she doesnt like something. (Although there is a place for gentle rebuke!)  I want to be content in my silence. Content to be hard done by as our Lord was, with the results of being a witness of what a wonderful God I serve. I want to be humble, I want to be able to swallow my pride all the time. I want to be able to swallow my hurt sometimes, instead of feeling the need to bite back all the time. I wish I could call pride a thing of the past...but unfortunately, its is one of those sinful things, that we can never ever say we have overcome, because as soon as we say that, its back again.  I am praying for a humility which realizes its ignorance, admits its mistakes, recognizes its needs, welcomes advice, accepts rebuke. I pray that I can have humility enough to praise instead of criticize, sympathize rather than discourage, build rather than destroy, and to think of people at their best, rather than their worst. If God has taught me anything about humility this week, it is that the only way we can ever be humble is by considering two things, First, Considering God, in His greatness, Glory, holiness and sovereignty - and Secondly, Considering ourselves, in our mean, abject and sinful condition. Only when we truly consider those two things will we ever experience true humility. I continue to fail at humility, but I continue to seek it, and my desire only intensifies. Pray for me as I seek to be humble. Pray for me as I fail to be humble, and choose pride instead. Pray for me as I seek to grow, and pray for me as God throws so many opportunities my way, where I could choose humility...pray that I do!! Pray for me as I pray this prayer daily - and perhaps, you pray it too! :

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed and loved, Deliver me, From the desire of being extolled and honored, Deliver me,From the desire of being praised, Deliver me,  From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, From the desire of being consulted, approved, Deliver me, From the fear of being humiliated, and despised, From the fear of suffering rebukes, From the fear of being calumniated, of being forgotten, Deliver me, From the fear of being ridiculed, and wronged, Deliver me, From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, O Jesus.That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be praised and I go unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Step out, feel the wind!

I love the feeling of the wind, especially on days like today, when the wind is so strong you feel like its going to push you over. I love to close my eyes and feel the wind sweep over my face. I love how a strong wind roars so loudly that it drowns out all other sounds. The wind, just like God, is invisible. We cant see it, but we know its there. We can see the effects of it. Feel its touch. Experience its power. When we are in a gust of wind...we cant hear anything but the wind. Just like that, when we are spending time in God, the sound of the world is silenced..we are better able to hear God, and better able to ignore the beckoning of the things of this world. When in the wind..we dont doubt its there. We feel the chill on our skin, we feel the wind flow through our hair - we cannot deny its presence. In the same way, when we are spending time in God, we cannot doubt He is there. We feel His love for us, we know of His protection over us, and we feel the security of His presence. We feel Him in the small things...Hugs from loved ones and friends, the fellowship He blesses us with, the support He provides for us, the strength He gives us. When watching the wind, we see its power, it bends the tallest and strongest of trees, makes them bow down with ease. And like that, we can see God at work, if only we stop and look. We can see Him at work in our lives, in the lives of those around us. But when I step inside my house from being out in the wind, I am immediately cut off from the wind. I cannot hear it anymore. Or feel it. I cannot sense it. The wind is still there...and when I look out my window, I can see it swaying the trees, but from in here, it does not affect me at all. And we so often do the same in our relationship with God. How often do we step away, step away from Gods presence, step away from a place of being focused on Him. We often do it. We watch Him at work from the windows of our lives. We acknowledge Him from a distance. We delight in His power from the safety of our walls, and we miss out on the effects of His power simply because we dont step into His presence. Sometimes we just need to step that we can fully experience His power and love, and be in His presence. Step out today, feel the wind!

Jeremiah 10:12-14 - But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Out of my mind! But at least I am out of my mind for God!

2 Cor 5:13-17 - If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation:The old has The old has gone, the new is here!

I absolutely love this passage, as he basically states that some may say that we as christians are 'out of our minds'...and he doesn't deny it, but basically says, ' if we are gonna be out if our minds, it best be for God!' But in order for us to be recognized as out of our minds for God, we have to be standing out from the crowd. Noone can know a man is crazy, if he is just sitting only know it when he opens his mouth and starts just the same way, noone will know that we are crazy for God, if we don't speak up, noone can know we are a new creation, if we don't live it and talk it!
We are a new creation! A NEW CREATION! Non believers may not be able to get their heads around it, hence they think we are out of our minds...but that is the perfect opportunity to say 'yeah, I'm crazy, but at least I am crazy for God!' How many times do you meet a new person, have a chat, then come away without them even knowing youre a.Christian? How many opportunities have you missed?
Don't be afraid to let people see that youre out of your mind for Him, show them what you are living for, tell them of all the amazing things He has done for may be your last chance to share that joy, it may be their last chance to hear it!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Seek the things that are above!

Colossians 3 - If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
What do I spend my days thinking about? What million-and-one things rush through my mind? How much of what I think on has anything to do with God? How about you? We are told - "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4:8 

How much of what goes through my head is TRUE?? Not much, most of it is lies of the enemy, lies that contradict the truth about how God loves me, how he formed me, cares about me - most the things that run through my head (without even trying) are things that put myself down, condemn myself and blame myself for ridiculous things. Sure, the occasional truth runs through my head - but nothing compared to the lies! Ok, so we gather I am thinking about things that are not always true! How about you?

How much of what goes through my head is NOBLE?? (noble covers the last two adjectives in that verse too 'excellent & praiseworthy') The word "noble" is a translation of one of the loveliest words in the Greek language, the adjective kalos. As one of the words used by the Greeks for "good," kalos meant good in the sense of fine or beautiful - that which is morally honorable or praiseworthy. If my thoughts were to be laid out on the table in front of me right now, and I had a panel of friends gathered around it...I can guarantee that they would only be able to pick out a few 'praisworthy' thoughts, in amongst all the shameful ones! I certainly think they would struggle to find any honorable ones! Ok, so we also know that I am definitely thinking on things that are disgraceful most the time! How about you?

How many of my thoughts are RIGHT?? Well, selfishness, pride and arrogance put a stop on that one right away! Most of my thinking is right wrong, because I put me first! When last did I think on things that were PURE? Pure =clean, spotless, unsullied, untainted, innocent. Almost every good thought has a partner bad thought that goes alongside it...making it very hard to find a lone, pure thought in my mind...but the pure thoughts I know I have had, have only been pure because I was thinking on God, and focused on Him - So basically, when I am not God focused, I know my thoughts are not pure - So the question is - am I staying focused on Him in thought - NO! Not nearly as much as I should! So we know from this that most my thoughts are impure! How about you?

How often do I think on LOVELY and ADMIRABLE things!? If I took a good hard look at my thoughts, would I honestly be able to call any of them lovely? When my thoughts are about others, are they lovely, are they admirable? When my thoughts are about me, are they lovely/admirable? When my thoughts are about situations, finances, government, family - are they lovely? Challenging!! I of course have very unlovely thoughts! I very obviously have alot to work on in my thinking - I fall short most of the above, and I feel so challenged, because thoughts cannot be seen, no one can really hold you accountable for your thinking, because they have no idea whats truly going on in our minds! Its something that we as Christians have to keep a watch on constantly - guarding our hearts and our minds is so important! And we are commanded to think on things pure, noble, admirable, lovely and all those great things - we are commanded to be in control of our thoughts - and there is a reason, that being that out of control thoughts will reflect in our actions - so impure thoughts can turn into impure actions, which then become even harder to control!

Most importantly though, we cannot do this on our own strength - but only with the help of God! So - with prayer, and focusing on God and things of above, lets take our thoughts captive - If we are doing this - it WILL show in our actions - Jesus will shine through us - all glory to Him!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Citizens of heaven and a new perspective on pain!

Yesterday I had a phone call from my parents in Zimbabwe, its always a joy to hear from them and to know that they are well! This time they told me some news which tugged at my heart strings and made me hurt so much for the people I love who are still in a country which is run and controlled by greed, hate, hunger, poverty and racism. Sometimes it feels so surreal to be away from that, safe from the intimidation, violence and safe from the fear that it all places in the hearts of those it surrounds! So a family member was attacked and robbed by six men who beat him up quite severely at a lay by on a journey..he ended up in hospital - and I am praising God so much that he is ok, and I am thinking of what a heart wrenching experience this must have been for his wife and kids when they heard what had happened to him. But earlier on the same day that I had received this news, I also heard in church that someone had become a Christian. The joy of that news,about someone I barely knew very much overshadowed the horrible news of  the crime and pain caused against a family member, whom I grew up knowing. And although I am hurting for the people affected, I am  also buzzing with excitement about the new member of our christian family! Thats because as a christian I think there is nothing more comforting than  knowing that we do not belong on this earth, this is not our final destination! We will one day be in glory, and I want as many people as possible to know that comfort, that security, that joy!! It reminded me of this passage:  Phil 3:17-21 - Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
I long for the day when we are all spared this kind of pain, when everything will be new and there will be no more suffering, no more hunger and sadness! I long for heaven, the perfect kingdom we are promised! BUT the more I long for it, the more I appreciate these days of pain and suffering...because the longer I spend on this earth, amidst the hatred, greed and pain - the more opportunity it gives me to tell people the truth, and by Gods grace, that would mean that more and more people will become citizens of heaven! So I find myself not wishing the pain and suffering of life would end, but that God would give me, and other christians, the strength to go on, the will to keep shining and the words needed in every situation, in order that we can clearly communicate the gospel and Gods love in a time when people are becoming more and more aware of their need for 'something more'! What an awesome opportunity God has given us, He has given us the incredibly precious gift of time...and we should choose not to see it as a burden, but rather as a blessing. Every day we come into contact with people who need to know the love of God and be encouraged. 
So while I am hurting, and others are hurting, and while the world is an awful wicked place... I am praising God for putting me here, and praising him for the gift of time, time to share his truth with as many people as possible before its too late! I just pray that He would give me the drive, strength and perseverance to do so even when my flesh wants to give up and give in! 
I pray to for you all - that when you experience pain and suffering in your life, it would make you all the more eager to tell others of Him and what He has done for you! 

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Strength Of My Heart...

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you, My flesh and heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from you will perish, you have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good, I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works. Psalm 73:25-28

This Psalmist has spoken straight to me through this Psalm. I Posted this on my facebook this morning after reading it...It has struck me so deeply, in so many ways. It is both challenging and comforting! And it has been on my mind all day. It says 'earth has nothing I desire besides you' - all I want is God, all I desire is God, in all of the earth and this life, all I long for is God! When I read this line, I made myself think of all the things I have been desiring recently, the things I view as important...there were many things...but I desire none of them as much as I desire God...actually, the more I thought about it..the more I desired Him..and the less I desired the other things.. I know how deep my desire for God is, and it frustrates me that I let day to day busyness and distractions steal my attention from that desire. 'My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever' - This verse is profound in my opinion... My flesh and heart DO fail, DAILY! But what an amazing comfort to know, that God is the strength of my heart, and He is my portion, not just today, or tomorrow, but FOREVER! He is all I will EVER need. I forget this often, but I know it always, at the bottom of my heart and the back of my mind is always the knowledge that God is everything I need, He is ALL I need, He satisfies, only He can satisfy. When I experience loss, or failure, the immediate pain and grief tend to make me forget that...and I guess thats human, but God has a way of reminding me that He is everything...and He brings me back to Him time and time again. What makes my desire for God even stronger is the next line in the passage... 'For, behold those who are far from you will perish.' - The reason this increases my desire for God is that, I remember a time when I did not know God, when I had no desire to know Him, when I had no relationship with him. I was FAR from Him, and I WAS perishing! When I think of that time, and how empty my life was, and I compare it to the life I have now, with God in it - there is no comparison really, and I just desire more and more of this life, with God in it..and I never want to lose that desire, because I know what life is like without Him! 'But as for me, the nearness of God is my good, I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.' - Oh how sweet it is to be near to God, and as the verse says, it IS indeed my good. To desire him, to be close to him, to have him be the strength of my heart and my refuge... this is all sweet... How privileged are we as Christians, to have been extended such grace and mercy, that as sinful as we are, we are still able to have such a close intimate relationship with our God and King. Does this not make you want to scream? I cannot begin to describe what my heart feels when I read this passage... But I love how it ends with 'that I may tell of your works'... because basically, this closeness, nearness, desire, strength, love...its not meant to be kept quiet... I dont make God my refuge, and keep quiet about it...I make God my refuge and tell the world of all He has done for me... I dont get near to the king of kings and keep it on the down low, I want the world to know that my best friend, closest the relationship I have with God almighty.

He is the strength of my only desire.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Anxiety, Condemnation & Letting go

I am one of those painful types of people, you know the kind I am talking about. The ones who hope to keep everyone in their lives happy, the 'people pleaser' type! The type that when anyone is unhappy, its their fault... The type that when something goes wrong..they want to fix it straight away, because they cant bear to have any one they love harbouring any unspoken feelings. Yes...I am that type...I am annoying in that way. But when I love..I love with my whole heart..and I always have time for those I love. Over the last month or so, I have been suffering with anxiety attacks. I never experienced these before and they are so debilitating and consuming. Ashamedly, when I heard before of people suffering with anxiety attacks I thought they were overreacting or being hypercondriacts, I couldnt relate to them at all. But in the midst of experiencing them, I can easily say its one of the worst afflictions I have ever experienced, because it feels like there is no way out. You can limp off a sore ankle, rest a pulled muscle...but anxiety attacks, there is no escape from them. My first instinct is to hide what I am feeling - but I am a firm believer in "There is a reason for everything"..and so I want to share what I have learnt through this, and how I am getting over it - in the hopes that it can serve as an encouragement to others who are suffering in the same way. With my anxiety attacks come the physical struggles of chest tightness, heart palpitations, a feeling of suffocation, chest pains, insomnia and constant discomfort, but what I find worse are the emotional struggles, firstly, I cannot think of anything BUT the anxiety, it consumes my mind, it steals my focus. Secondly, the anxiety takes away all drive and desire to do anything, which sends me into a depression, it then brings about paranoia and because it feels never ending, it starts to make me think of easy ways out...the selfish ways...YES, suicidal thoughts.But - there is hope..and this too shall pass! My first reaction to all this was self blame, self condemnation and self hatred. After a while...I tried to actively seek the real reason and cause...I rang my doctor..who send me to the hospital to rule blood clot on the lungs out. But after ruling that out, it was clear it was anxiety. I thought and prayed much about it and realised when it all started and what the cause was - I thought that if I fixed the cause then the anxiety would stop. But after "fixing" the cause several times, I am still suffering the anxiety. I realise this is because I was just smoothing over the surface of the issue - and deep down the cause was still there, and all the while telling myself I was still accused, condemned and at fault, because of mind tells me that if I cannot keep everyone happy, then I am failing. So today was the last straw - I was fed up with this anxiety, so first I rang a friend who is a GP, and a christian, she was an absolute God send and gave me great reassuring advice, after that, I went to talk to the wife of a colleague - per advice of the GP. I told her what I had been experiencing, and that I could not deal with it on my own anymore. She hit the nail on the head when she pointed out that I blame myself for everything, that I would sooner blame myself before thinking badly of others. Tears flowed as I thought of all the condemnation and blame I had put on myself - every single thing that had gone wrong in the last month I had somehow managed to make it my fault, and as such - I feel the need to put it right. It is no wonder I feel anxious, trying to rebuild a mansion when I dont know what made it crumble or what it looked like before...its an impossible task. Its not my job, not my responsibily...but I put that on myself. 
At the end of the day, I examined my conscience - 'Was I aware of anything I did wrongfully and sinfully?' - NO, "Had I sought forgiveness for past sins?" YES - So what in the name of pete am I blaming and condemning myself for? Why am I anxious about fixing something that is not my responsibility to fix? Why do I worry what is thought of me when I know that God knows my heart and motives? Why do I care if it all falls apart when I am not the one in control? God tells us - 'Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERYTHING, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus' - What an awesome truth! He also says 'Cast all your anxieties on Him, for he cares for you' 1 Peter 5:7. If I have dealt with my sin, if I have tried in love to do what is right, if I have searched myself..then I need to not hang on to it! I need to drop it, at the feet of Jesus. I need to hold fast to the truth, which tells us "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" Romans 8:1 and I need to stop believing the lies of the enemy. I am loved by God as much as the next person. I am as sinful as the next person. Just because I cant fix everything does not make me more of a sinner than others - and to be honest, that is how I have felt..I have felt like a lowly, not-worth-as-much-as-the-next-person christian, all because I blame myself for others unhappiness. It stops here. 
God has been so good in this process - he not only has taught me that I cannot make everything better, that its ok to not have any control over the happiness of others, that I need not condemn myself for things that I am not to blame for...but on top of that...He provided me with a housemate, actually two housemates who have experienced and suffered anxiety too, and have been through the same struggles..and what an encouragement they have been to me! God is good, he is the giver of all good and perfect gifts - and I am so grateful for the gift of friendship, and how supportive people have been - clare taking me to hospital and sitting and praying with me while we waited 6 long hours...hannah and jo for their wisdom and advice and prayer, alley for her compassion, understanding and prayers, nadine for her unconditional strong and pure love and constant prayer..mez for her amazing ability to help me think rationally..I could go on.. Life is a journey, and I am so glad God provides us with travelling companions! :D I am willing to bet that most people who have suffered anxiety attacks are people that put alot of blame on theirselves, and are people pleasers. I urge you to remember your value in Gods eyes, remember that no matter what others think of you - You are precious in His sight. I urge you to let go of trying to 'fix' things, but never to let go of loving. I am in no way cured or sorted. Pray for me as I also seek to let go, and to see myself through the eyes of a God who loves me.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Sin, Selfishness & Sacrifice

God has really put some things on my heart and mind this week, about living sacrificially for him, even though we struggle day to day with countless sins, being that we are such sinful creatures, who are utterly selfish to the core. Our sin and selfishness often get in the way of our serving God wholly, and living lives that are sacrificial to Him. I think all to often, we get overwhelmed about living every area of our lives in a way that is God honouring, the reason being of course, that it's challenging! Our sin gets in the way of that.

In the past few months, God has really been pointing out areas of my character that are, might I say...'not quite' what they should be. God knows it. Others around me know it. I now know it.

 I want to live for Christ, as He’s called me to live, but I can’t do it without working on these areas of weakness in my character.

I am grateful for my circle of accountability, my christian family. I am grateful for their honesty, their challenge, their belief that God has something more for me. It’s through their careful rebuke and correction, that I have been walking through this process of building a stronger character that is pleasing to the Lord.
I want to live a life of sacrifice, a life that is “sacrificial” for God, but there have been flaws in my character that have prevented me from being the “sacrifice” I desire. But with my focus on God, the support of my family, the guidance of truth/the word, I know that God is 100% behind me in my quest to be more like Christ every day, my quest to be living every second of every day for Him.

When I was a little girl, I had this habit (which I am sure many of you did) - when I had been naughty, or caused my parents grief, or had been mean.. I would feel awful, and I would go to bed promising myself that I would do everything perfect the next day, I prayed that I would do nothing wrong and everything right...and the next day, I would put a huge effort into being a perfect of course, that resolution would wear off by lunch time, and I would forget about that promise I made because of all the excitements of the day...but that never stopped me from making the same promises the next night and trying again the next day.

Now, my theory was wrong, but my attitude was right.... I could never be perfect, because we are just not perfect... but focussing on perfection every morning, and being determined to achieve it was right, but at that stage, I was relying on myself, when really, I needed to rely on God. And you all understand... that what I was aiming for in childhood (perfection), I now see as holiness. We are called to be holy, 'But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:13-16)

Now, who are we kidding right? its impossible to achieve perfect holiness (Thats what Jesus has achieved for us already) .... But the point is, we need to aim for holiness in all that we do. Every morning we need to focus ourselves on living for God, in every possible way...and asking him to give us the strength. The sacrifice that was made on our behalf, is what has made it possible for us to live daily lives of sacrifice...and in light of that sacrifice, we should be giving every area of our lives over to God.

One of the most challenging books I have read is 'True Discipleship' By William McDonald, and he puts it like this... 'Nothing less than unconditional surrender could ever be a fitting response to His sacrifice at Calvary. Love so amazing, so divine, could never be satisfied with less than our souls, our lives our all.' 

Galatians 2:20 says, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." God is calling you to a life of sacrifice and a willingness to go wherever He takes you, to minister to whomever He brings you, and to go whenever He asks you. Are you sold out to Jesus or are you still straddling the fence between serving God and following the world?

What sinful & selfish behaviour is keeping you from living each day for God? What idols are you putting before him?