Tuesday, 25 June 2013

These Are My Obsessions

Well it’s safe to say I never had a slight bit of rest last night, my brain decided to write this post just as I got into bed, opening my eyes every minute to write down something the Holy Spirit stirred within my soul. I would just like to apologise in advance for the length of this blog post, but I really feel that all of you should take a minute to read it!

I decided to write something with regards to what I have been praying about over the last couple of months, although I didn’t know what I was praying for, I had, sort of a revelation and with this I unknowingly freed myself from the clink of...wait for it... my obsessions.

The word obsession has such a negative connotation, so most of us will never admit to having any form of obsession, but I want you to take a step back today... look at your life and pin point the things you have become so absorbed with that it’s become part of your regular routine.

There are a couple of obsessions people become completely infatuated with; these are a couple to name a few:

Obsession #1: FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

I think this obsession is driven by jealousy. You become fixated on the fact that if you are not part of an experience then you have lost a bit of life you will never regain again. And when people talk about what they have experienced together and you weren’t a part of it, it may feel like a little knife has been twisted in your heart. You want to experience everything to the fullest full. I am or at least used to be the person who partied till the sun rose, just to make sure I didn’t miss out on anything amazing. But that’s where I draw the line, others become so fanatical about having ‘a good time’ that they start seeking fulfilment in the things they shouldn’t be doing or going to places they shouldn’t be going to just to say ‘I had the best time ever!’
Why do we do this? To show others that we have the best life, possibly even better than theirs or to make sure you never feel left out, there are so many reasons! I use to have a serious case of FOMO but now I have found a place that will never make me feel like I’ve been left out, I found a home where I am always welcome and I tend not to miss out now but for all the right reasons.

Obsession #2: Social Media/iPhone

Okay, things just got real, this has been something I’ve been praying about endlessly, and even tried to fast numerous times over, without any luck might I add. I know most of you might think I’m rather weird right now but I tend to write statuses in my head all the time, I check Instagram, Facebook and Twitter simultaneously on regular intervals and don’t understand why some of my posts only get 1 like? I mean... come on; I’m not that boring am I, haha! Okay, I’m pushing the envelope there, but being on social media, or living in the cyber world may be preventing us from growing in the real world. Stopping us from looking up from our phones and experiencing life first hand without the need of having to document everything we do.

Obsession #3: Success/Work

This obsession is linked to greed, and what a terrible thing that is. Driven to succeed is awesome and everyone should be driven but it becomes an obsession when you sacrifice your happiness as well as the happiness of others just to get ahead! You are never satisfied with what you have so you fill your mind with the desire to want more and more and more until your mindset becomes so cluttered that there isn't any room for God's blessings! God will bless you with so much goodness, grace and peace that you won't have room enough to store it. You can't put a price on happiness! Work hard at everything you do but don't let your work control your everything!

Obsession#4: Love and Companionship

This is an obsession that I have steered clear from. I have been so blessed to have control over this in my life but unfortunately most girls struggle with this. They become so focused on having someone or being with someone that it becomes their only goal, the only reason why they wake up in the morning! One shouldn't make another person’s life your life, especially when that person bares no interest in you. Infatuation drives obsession! Instead of praying for a particular person to want you pray to be set free from your 'obsession' because God will bless you with someone better. His plans for you are far greater than you can ever imagine!

Okay let's get to the bottom of this; obsession is a direct result of attention! We do things to seek attention, we constantly want things that we don't have, we are never satisfied, and we are so obsessed with generating our own happiness that we tend to forget that happiness is generated naturally.

People tend to characterize Christianity as a crazed obsession but God has an answer for this as he always does. Yesterday I listened to a podcast by PS Judah Smith he spoke about the Samaritan woman who encountered Jesus. (podcast here)

John 4: 7-26

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” 19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

.....  39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

Ps Judah Smith spoke from the vantage point of having grace like Jesus does but I want to approach this from the vantage point of the Samaritan woman! She had an obsession with men, an obsession to be wanted and desired! But what I gathered from this was the following: We live in flesh so we are covered by layers of sin and fear, an obsession of life itself! Being consumed with the ways of the flesh leaves you with an unquenchable thirst and eventually the well runs dry! Your happiness runs dry until you become completely suffocated with a desire that never gets fulfilled! But Jesus said to this woman “...but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst!” When you become consumed with the Spirit it will set you free, free from your endless desires. (Read Romans 8: 1-10)

Jesus offers you a happiness that needs no effort, a happiness that hugs your heart when everything else wants to rip it open! He makes you content with everything because His good is good enough! Be fixated on eternity and not on your eternal desires! If you are going to crave something crave Canaan because the land of milk and honey is far sweeter than anything this world can offer! God will set you free; all you need to do is ask!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Sticks and Stones

The power of a word, statement, phrase, whatever you like to call it can carry way more meaning than we think. Words have the power to make or break you and it’s often the incredible or downright nasty statements we tend to remember. Ever tried to shake off a terrible nickname? Try having a couple of them to keep you company... although you laugh and smile through it, being called things like a rat isn’t as amusing as it sounds, although the nickname died off as high school came to an end, up until this very day every time I catch a glimpse of my profile in the mirror I always think to myself “Oh... that’s why they called me a rat”.... So why am I sharing this with you? Not to look for pity but rather to think about the impact that words have.

Even though my life has been the butt of many jokes, literally, (one of my other nicknames in Anus... oh the joy of that one) I’ve always laughed through it. Listen, I love sarcasm, but it’s become very easy for me to distinguish between a lighthearted joke and a joke with a bit of venom. I really don’t understand the point of belittling people’s characters... yes sometimes people look weird, do weird things, or even wear weird things but why point it out in front of a group of friends just to be funny? Sometimes it’s better if its just said behind your back; at least you won’t look like a complete idiot in front of people with nothing to say.

Okay I know it may seem like I’m letting off a bit of steam but something happened the other day where I got to observe someone mock something my mom just bought. My mom never buys herself anything so she was very proud of her new purchase but for someone to take a jab at it, although it was a joke, I could see how it hurt my mom and it really hurt me to. This has really opened my eyes to the fact that, yes we are all uniquely different, and before passing comments about someone else think about how much that person might love the thing you mocking, it’s hurtful and will probably make them very insecure about it in the future.

So why do people belittle others? To make themselves look good? Because of jealousy? To break someone’s happiness? I truly have no idea, I for one will never belittle someone, although sometimes I think of something funny or nasty I will never ever say it at the expense of someone else's happiness, I receive no pleasure out of it! Exchange belittlement for encouragement, don’t use torment for amusement, because in the end you are going to be the only one laughing when you look around and wonder where all your friends have disappeared to.

God specifically warns us against the negative power of words “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13: 3 “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” Proverbs 21:23

If you are someone who gets brought down by words that aren't always pleasant, let me tell you this: Jesus Christ is your greatest role model! Tons of people mocked and tormented him all the days of His earthly life. Maybe out of jealousy, or his “weird” ways of doing things completely different to others or maybe even just out of shear disbelief. But it didn't sway him from his mission, his vision or even his genuine love for the people around him (even sinners)! Jesus gave up his life for our life and even to save the people who mocked him. So I looked at it like this, let people bring me down, let them slap me in the face with words, it won’t shake me, or break me, I know who I am and words don’t define me!

Just as bad as words may be they too can bring life, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21. The Bible is the word of life. Although God only spoke words to a specific nation of chosen people His words carried such power that it has influenced the entire world for years upon end. Let our words bring joy and hope. Let’s think twice about the impact our words have on others. Words of encouragement, wisdom, guidance, compassion and love can change a person’s universe. Words spread like wildfire so let your flames burn with wholesome talk.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

I Can See Clearly Now

As with most of the tumbleweed thoughts that roll around in my head, so were my thoughts when it came to knowledge and understanding. It has carried a lot of meaning for me over the last couple of days particularly because I've been reading the book of Genesis. Too much earthly knowledge causes us to trust in ourselves rather than trust in God. I have been so focused on trying to know everything and learn everything that I often miss the mark. To have a clear understanding of things we are required to simply slow down...

As developing humans we tend to try and equip ourselves with as much knowledge as possible. We often see and experience things that get locked away in our memory bank forever. But what is the point of a memory bank if we don’t draw anything out of it in order to invest into our future? Understanding extends beyond just the fact of knowing, it’s a feeling that moves and stirs us, and it allows us to be wise instead of just insightful.

  • Knowledge informs us that God has given us willpower, understanding allows for us to decide whether to use our willpower for our own man power or for His divine power.
  • Knowledge tells us to be good and do good, understanding allows us to reflect goodness because of the impact it will have within ourselves and others.
  • Knowledge instructs us to read endless scripture allowing us to quote verses and know every single story in the bible, understanding allows us to be captivated by a single line of scripture that becomes so embedded in our soul like a stain that is impossible to remove. It turns a piece of scripture into peace for the soul.
  • Knowledge causes clutter, understanding allows for clarity. Knowing countless facts doesn’t make you smart, if you focus your time and energy on one thing you will be able to peel off the layers of unending mystery.
  • Understanding feeds passion and love, where knowledge fuels pride. We love being “know-it-all’s” and correcting other people’s mistakes but when you have understanding, you use it to inspire and encourage others to share the same understanding or revelation that you have had.
  • Knowledge tells us to find God because we want to go to Heaven; understanding is living through God as if we were already in heaven. Knowledge is religion, understanding is a relationship. Knowledge makes you look good where understanding makes God look good.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to dumb down, continue to seek knowledge; it’s awesome to have a file of facts and to equip yourself with “how to’s” in order to fight the battle. But is the knowledge of surface ideas really good enough? I would like to encourage each and every one of you to take time when learning new things, once your soul is captivated with the thought move on to the next challenge. There are so many things to learn during our visit here on earth that we tend to sprint through our days, we don’t let the small things move us the way that it should.

I can honestly find splendour and peace in a flock of birds who circle the same spot in the sky day in and day out, my understanding is that they cling to comfort and to each other. When you start to unlock mysteries this world becomes a joyous place to live in and your relationship with people and with God become more meaningful and powerful.

Don’t focus too much on summer you might miss the beauty of spring... 

Monday, 10 June 2013

God Confidence

Ever heard of the statement Confidence is key? I’m sure you have... well confidence has been a dominant word, a recurring theme, since my coffee date last week with the friend I mentioned in my previous post. We were talking about having confidence through the fact that God has already pre-planned our future, she calls it “God Confidence” such a powerful way to put it.

After hearing Ps Gary preach about confidence when it came to your purpose in life I knew I had to unlock this word and how it affects us or could potentially affect us in the future.

I have only ever had confidence in the things I know I am able to do, but it’s that type of confidence that can easily be broken by a little bit of criticism. So my question is what is the point of outward confidence if you have no self confidence?

Self confidence is something all of us should have; we are all uniquely different and should be confident that we were chosen by God to succeed in life. Truth is there is always going to be someone better than you, but it’s your confidence that sells you no matter how awesome the next person may be. I can stand here honestly and say I have little to no self confidence, if I’m thrown into a losing battle; I tend to withdraw and run into the opposite direction, although the best way to overcome a storm is to hit it head on. With people who are way more creative than I am, girls who are prettier, more subtle and lady like than me and even friends who are more outgoing and easier to get along with, no wonder self confidence in my life is as mythical as flying pigs.

When I look around and see people who have confidence that illuminates like a spotlight they are usually the ones who walk around with their heads held high knowing that the world is theirs, I sort of envy them, envy their courage to say I am here, I have talents, and I am damn good at what I do. That might come off as pride but when someone is proud of their God given talents and uses their talents to hold his name high then is there anything wrong with it?  God even tells us that through Him all things are possible! We should replace any self doubt with God confidence!

So what exactly is God Confidence?
  1. In the past I couldn’t go into a room without feeling out, or like I don’t belong, I would never ever have walked up to a person that I have never met before or even people that I know but don’t reeeeally know and just start talking to them (unless I’ve had a bit to drink, people seemed to like me better then). But now I have God confidence I know who I am and what I am about, I know that if I want to talk to someone I can, without preplanning strings of conversation in my head. I’m more at peace with myself and genuine people enjoy my company without the company of alcohol. (I’m not saying that I don’t like to still have a drink every now and then... but when I do drink it’s not for the wrong reasons anymore.)
  2. Recently I was tested when it came to my confidence in my design capabilities, I lost my passion for it because I was criticised and I deceived myself into believing that maybe design was not for me, but the moment I changed my perspective and looked at all my accomplishments in the field I couldn’t help but feel a surge of happiness, a surge of confidence in knowing that I am good. One opinion couldn’t hold me back from doing something I love.
  3. Confidence in my ability to get a guy, boy or man whatever you like to call it. This is where my confidence was and sometimes still is at an all time low. But my God confidence is in other things, I’m confident in what I am deserving of. There is no point in me settling for someone just to have someone. I’m confident enough to say if you don’t like me as a person, without all the extra add-on’s you know where the door is. Self integrity allows for self confidence. I would rather be single and confident in who I am and what I stand for than be with someone who makes me doubt myself and every move I make, who makes me feel like I am not good enough and that I have to fight for his affection. I am confident that I will find someone who will respect me and honour my role in his life.
This can all be summed up into following “With Him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” 2 Chronicles 32:8. If the Lord is with us then who can be against us? Go into problems and situations with the mindset that you’ve already succeeded and you will win. Be confident in who you are because you are perfectly made and our creator makes no mistakes!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Phil-osophical Friendship

Yesterday I had the opportunity to reconnect with a friend that I haven’t see in ages and this got me thinking, thinking about how important friends are. With the busy, fast pace life we all live sometimes friends can fall on the wayside. We were talking about how important it is to be a friend that invests time into each others’ lives. Ps Phil Dooley summed this up into one powerful sentence in his first message about trusting and doing something about it, he said, “Become the friend you want to have!” This is true on so many levels, if you are not going to give genuine interest, love and time to the friends you have then don’t expect them to return the favour!

Okay, okay before I get all deep and Phil-osophical (excuse the pun) I want to tell you about my rollercoaster friendships. I’ve been blessed with some unbelievable friends, friends that I’ve had since first grade. Some closer that others yet equally as important and as the years progress my friends tally has grown as I’m sure most of yours has too. I wrote about friendship briefly in my "Acceptance Like It Or Not " blog post but I’ve decided to dig a little deeper. I use to be really shy but somehow I always managed to make groups of friends that I always feel comfortable with and friends that I can act myself around, sadly I’ve lost contact with some of them, they've turned from everyday friends to every now and again acquaintances but when you see these friends again and have a mini catch up (where you cram years of your life into a 15min conversation) it feels like no time has passed at all. London forced me to make friends on the spot, with the job I had it was vital to have good conversation skills. The friendships I made there are ones I will keep with me forever, they were all so different but each made me wiser in their own unique way. Since London I’ve had this hunger to become friends with absolutely everyone.

But on the other hand isn’t it better to have a handful of genuine friends rather than bundles of friends who simply don’t care whether you have a smile on your face or not? (They shouldn’t even have the right to be called a friend then) You see we like having numbers, more is better in our eyes, we think the more friends we have the less lonely we will feel! Wrong! Isn’t it better to have 1 true friend than 1000 fake facebook friends? Surface friendship is good for the good times, but who’s there for the bad times? Who’s there to encourage you for even better times and to congratulate you on your best times? What about those friends you have who put you down in front of others to make themselves look good? Although you laugh it off it leaves a bruise every time. What about those friends who say, “Hey, how you?” but don’t really take an interest in your reply?  

Well it’s very easy for me to sit here and point fingers but as the Bible says “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7: 3-5. Here is where the reality comes, take a look at how you treat your friends, dig deep into your heart, look into your past and draw out the friends you have neglected to contact, the ones you need to thank again for their support and wisdom during your time of need when no one else offered up time to listen. Reconnect with the friends who moulded you into the person you are today and give loads of hugs to the close friends you have now because you never know what tomorrow holds.

Although God warns us against false friends who only want to see us fail he also encourages us to seek genuine friendship, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17. This verse has governed my thoughts on what friend I ought to be and I hope it makes you think about your friendship with others too.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

But I don’t feel like it...

I decided to write this post about something I personally struggle with, it’s something that has kept me back from accomplishing the things I know I am able to do, but just procrastinate until its become somewhat of an idea I once had or a dream that was stupid and silly, yup you know what I’m talking about, our little friend called laziness. You see, laziness is like the magnet it holds us back and reflects a direct opposite to success. I know that if I was completely set free from laziness I would probably be a teenage billionaire by now, really... no. But I would probably have a degree in more than one field, have my driver’s licence (yes I don’t have it yet, I’m allowed to be honest... it’s my blog okay), be a Master Chef, help my mom around the house all the time, come around to actually starting side projects I know will be successful if I put any effort into it, let me not even get started about gym and spending more time praying and reading the word. From a young age our teachers and parents have tried to put our laziness to rest by giving us chores or awards for “Extra Effort” or “Going Above and Beyond”. No matter how hard they try, laziness will always be a human condition, an incurable disease!

Fact is, with so many distractions in life, procrastination becomes easy, especially during the winter. All those series and movies you have waiting for you on your hard drive, social media and constant instant messaging allow for a great distractions for the things you meant to be doing. I mean, lying in your bed or sitting on your couch staring at a screen requires little to no attention, it’s the things we meant to be doing that requires the most effort and we often put it off because.... we just don’t feel like doing it! We love our comfort zone, we love doing nothing and we don’t want to use our energy on things that aren't of urgency. If you miss out on opportunities in life, don’t blame life for the cards you've been dealt because you are the one that didn't play the right cards at the right time. God presents you with opportunities everyday, you know how often I pray against my laziness, to be set free from it? I've become better... but there is still such a long way to go, so many ideas I have and things to do that I don’t even know where to start, there just aren't enough hours in the day, suffocating right?

Here is a little guide I came up with to try and deal with my everyday laziness:

Draw up a list:

Set out a list of all the things you want to accomplish in a certain period of time, let’s say weekly, and then another list on monthly or yearly intervals for the ‘bigger projects’ you want to accomplish. It will help you keep track of the things you need to do so that you can’t leave it for the next day or the next or the next otherwise you going to fall behind.

Turn your wants to dos:

I want to serve, I want to start exercise again, I want to help the homeless people out this winter, I want to be amazing at my job or talent... yada yada, stop wanting to do things and just start doing it! The only thing stopping you is yourself!

Don’t think about how much and just START:

The best way to start is to do one thing at a time, my first step was starting a new blog, and to keep my blog going putting effort in to inspire others and to encourage them to deal with issues like laziness and lack of commitment because chances are if it’s bothering me it’s bothering you. We all may look different but our core human problems and characteristics are so similar!

Always Help:

If someone asks you for help or you see an opportunity to help someone, don’t think about the time you don’t have think about the time you do have to potentially be a part of someone’s future success. We all have different talents, if we were to put them all together, so many stagnant issues in the world could be resolved!

Don’t quit half way through:

See things through to the end, yes well done you've started..... (imagine I stopped my post there with no conclusion, it may just be as annoying as a book or movie with a “to be continued” feeling to it and no sequel ever gets made or published) You are always going to wonder how things would have turned out, how successful that idea or relationship would have been had you put any effort into it!

Pray, pray and pray some more:

It’s the only thing that is going to keep your spirit up. Once you have played your part, pray for success, pray for favour, and pray for endurance to keep you going. No matter how many things you have going on in your life always devote time to God for He is the one who will inspire and guide you! He should be the start to your morning, the end of your evening and everything in-between  Don’t be lazy in seeking and knowing all of His glory.

Reflect on your achievements:

It will encourage you to set out on your new task or venture without hesitation if you can do it once you can do it again and again.

Assign rest to yourself:

Whether it is a solid week of recollecting your thoughts and staring at a square or rectangle screen then do it, but remember to pick up the slack in the weeks to come.

Don’t let laziness be the result of you missing out, always remember “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” Hebrew 6: 10-12