Monday, 29 July 2013

Loving Love - Part 2

As they say the best things in life come in two’s, it takes two to tango, things are twice as nice and everyone loves a two for one deal. So I decided to make this topic a two part series, because inevitable there are two parts to life, firstly pre-love and there after true love.

There will be many loves in your life, you might think that the person you spent 5 years with was and must be the perfect one for you. He ends up breaking your heart and you simply can’t muck up the courage to move forward. I want to encourage you not to be afraid to love again. “God never works backwards, he only moves you forward” Your future will always be better than your past. Yes, great, sometimes round two does work, but then don’t go into the relationship complaining about the same things, it was your choice to go back so now you have to take it as it comes which leads me to the next subheading...

Don’t Settle

We all love to settle...We take what we can get, but why? Lack of confidence?  Loss of hope? Limited choices? Fear of rejection? I feel people tend to settle for someone they think they deserve, they aim low instead of striving high. Some tend to be with someone out of convince and commitment rather than passion and love. You may confuse attention for affection, everyone wants to be wanted, but when you knee high in a real-ationship you tend to realise that the zeal isn’t real and before you know it, you have to break the person’s heart. How do you determine if your feelings are real? Well for me personally I know that I want to see that person again as soon as they leave, hours feel like minutes and smiling becomes as normal as breathing.

God wants the very best for you, I’m not saying that the people you are choosing are not great people as we are all perfect in God’s eyes, but God wants the very best for ‘you’ in particular! He wants you to choose someone who will lift you up instead of tear you down, someone to make you flourish when the rest of the world is out to demolish and most importantly someone who is walking in the same path as you and not running in circles. There is a Mr Perfect, but with patience comes perfection.

Love to be Loved

All too often I have seen people in loveless relationships, to afraid to talk about how they truly feel. They sweep things under the rug until they choke on their own dirt. Love is a two way thing, you can’t complain about things if you not willing to work on yourself first. You go into a relationship to serve, to give and to put someone’s needs above your own.  Real love is selfless and kind, and when both people have this factor in mind, then a common denominator is found. Lack of effort and spitefulness are silent killers, as humans we always want to be put first, but when that happens it becomes all about me and less about you, and didn’t you get into that relationship, put everything on the line, just to be close to that person as much as possible? God loved us even when we didn’t love him, he loves us even though we continue to sin, he sacrificed his one and only son to save us and give us hope for better days, to give us an opportunity to be close to him. We need to love with our whole heart not just the parts we want to share otherwise you’ll be the reason for your own broken heart.

Don’t Make Someone Your Everything

As much as I just encouraged you to love with your whole heart I believe that one shouldn’t make someone your whole life. Your heart is only one part of your body, but there are many other vital organs that are needed to make your body function properly. People come and people go, love is lost, new love is found. As much as we like to hope that everything will always work out perfect in the end, sometimes it doesn’t and life throws you a curve ball. It’s your choice whether you are able to focus on the bigger picture or if you still trying to connect the dots to form the picture you have been trying to figure out for most of your life.

I wish people could understand that God isn’t a genie, we can’t just rub a lamp, make some wishes and then send Him to where he came from. We think because genies say you can’t wish for true love you kind of feel selfish when you ask God to bless you with someone perfect. I tend to dance around the subject, with the feeling that God has bigger problems to fix, I sometimes forget that He created love, He wants us to feel wanted, accepted and appreciated. He is our best friend, our wing man, our encouragement, our shoulder to cry on, the greatest listener and definitely offers the best advice.

The greatest love story ever told is the one of our saviour; it’s an epic love, an irresistible love, a love that knows no boundaries, an eternal love, a love that forgives, a love that comforts and protects, a love that offers security, assurance, understanding, peace and hope. A love that is sacrificial, effortless, and wholesome. A love that is unshakeable, unbreakable and undeniable.  His love surpasses all, even if the person you seek after is never found; find comfort in the fact that you will never truly be alone.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Loving Love: Part 1

Love, such a small word yet it has the power to move the world forward, the power to make people do the unthinkable, the power to shatter or to make everything matter. There are so many different forms of love, from the tattooed, unchangeable, everlasting love for family, to the enduring, long hours, no sleep, and focused love for your job. Then you get the crazy, deep, random, humorous love of friendship and then the status, ego and argument driven, bonding love of sports or a hobby. But the first part of my two part series, I want to focus on the heart racing, palm sweating, ever changing, intense love of romance, then justifying it with the agape love that is Jesus Christ.

Let me just make something clear before I continue, I have absolutely no experience when it comes to this topic, I’ve never been in love, but I’ve learnt loads of stuff just by watching the people I know embark on life’s only mission, to love and to be loved in return.

Forever Alone:

Many of us are still single, for some it’s the perfect season, almost like summer, they can’t imagine having to give up the outdoorsy feeling of the single life. For others they wait for winter, waiting to feel the warmth of a burning fire. Please, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you will be perfectly fine alone if Mr/Mrs Perfect never comes along, truth is no matter how old you are, you and I both know you will always be looking, waiting and hoping for love. So how can we feel fulfilment of the heart when the thought of being alone forever is only filling our brain with anxiety?

God gave Adam an Eve, he gave Abraham a Sarah, he gave Isaac a Rebecca and the list goes on, if God can do it for them he can do it for us. Dating shows don’t have anything on the creator of love, love will come at the perfect time, when you least expect it, it’s going to be epic and well worth the wait. And if you do end up never falling in love at least you have more time to love others who are in desperate need of it!

Friend Zoned:

I think that title carries more fear than the name Voldamort. From a personal point of view I am the type of girl who gets along with guys very well because of my interests, I go through phases where I am really close to someone and then boooom that dreaded word is dropped ‘Friends’ whether it be me saying it to ensure that it is purely friendship or me using the term ‘best friends’ to protect myself from getting hurt or even using it casually because I already made a preconception that my new ‘best friend’ will never be interested in me so might as well friend zone myself. And then there is the part where he drops the ‘best friend’ bomb first and I’m left thinking wait, what? Are you for real?  I have repeated this line to myself numerous times over the years ‘Always the best friend, never the girlfriend’. Maybe it’s because I’m too nice, too friendly and everyone loves a heart breaker, but then I think to myself, why should I change who I am to get someone to like me?

There are two answers to this, either speak up, or let the feelings fade! Friendship is as beautiful as any relationship; sometimes friendship lasts longer and is less complicated. Truth is your destiny is pre-planned, if God wants you to have that person, he will give him/her to you. Be patient, don’t chase it and don’t force it either.

Second Choice:

All of us want to be first, to feel like the only girl in the room, to be deeply cared for above all else. Sounds like a chick flick doesn’t it? God made me a promise long ago, in Genesis 29-30 The story of the love triangle between Jacob, Rachel and Leah is discussed. You see, Jacob fell in love with Rachel, but Laban, Rachel’s father, said that Jacob must wed Leah too if he wants to be with Rachel. Rachel was much prettier that Leah was but God never short changes anyone; he blessed Leah with the opportunity to have children where Rachel couldn’t. Leah thought that Jacob would love her more because she could offer him more than Rachel’s beauty, but no matter how hard Leah tried it was always Rachel, the first choice. My question to you is, are you willing to fight for the one you love? Or would you rather have someone who will go to battle for you? Find comfort in the fact that although you weren’t his first choice, you are His first choice and He chose you, and fell in love with you before you were even born. He will never leave you nor forsake you! He will bless you with someone who will want to show you off to the world. Don’t ever settle for second best.

There will always be someone better than you, but you have to be confident enough in yourself to believe that you are as deserving of love as the girl who sits opposite you holding hands with her boyfriend who can’t stop smiling at her. Instead of being envious celebrate it, because when you find that one of a kind love, you’ll be able to enjoy it without any guilt when you too show public displays of affection. In my next post I will stretch the topic further, covering the following factors: Don’t settle, love to be loved (trusting love) and not to make one person your everything. I will also talk about what I think God wants from us when it comes to the callous yet exhilarating word which is Love... Keep your eyes peeled, post will follow soon.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Just Keep Running

“Things fall apart for better things to come together” they say, but sometimes it’s really difficult for us to grasp this concept. After endless weeks of listening intensely to the word, and through the scripture God has been revealing to me, everything is finally coming together.

Everything in your life makes sense, when you begin to sense God’s movement. The Holy Spirit is our sixth sense, guiding us, informing us and reminding us of God’s divine plan for our lives.

People treat life as a race to the finish, competing with others to reach first place. Rushing through seasons, trying to outsmart and outwit life in general.

 I, however, see life as a relay, let me explain:

With heads down, heart pounding in our throats, unsure of what is to come, we walk up to the starting line:

This is our season of preparation, the season where we feel nothing is going right for us, where we feel the world is against us. For some this season of preparation is short, for others it can last way longer and for most they never really leave the finish line due to the fear and anxiety that has completely consumed their being.

I feel this season of preparation allows God to separate us completely from our fleshly lives. Ask yourself this question, would you still be happy if you were to be stripped from everything and only have God in your life? No job, no friends, no family, no cities, just you on open land with God? Is He enough for you? The moment you can say yes to this and mean it, then my friend, you ready for your race.

Someone will always start ahead of you:

We all like to point at people and say they were blessed from the beginning, whether it be being born into a wealthy family, having unlimited talents, or endless opportunities. Fact remains, we all have to start somewhere. We may even begin our race at a different time in our lives than others, but we are all given an opportunity for a start and it’s our decision whether we take it or not.

The race begins:

Boom, and we are off to a start, once God catapults us forward that’s when the race beings. With our head held high we off to a blistering start, He directs our steps and allows us to swiftly move forward. All the pieces come together and before we know it we in full motion, life seems great!

A steady momentum:

This is the point in our life where we seem completely content with everything, we happy with the speed we at and sometimes our contentment becomes complacency. I, personally, would not recommend this, keep pushing forward, strive to be like those leaders ahead of you and be an encouraging leader to those who trail you.

Out of breath:

As unfit as most of us are we are bound to lose our breath, we are going to feel like giving up, people are going to overtake us in life but we need to decided whether we are going to pull out and go off track or whether we are going to push forward no matter how the pain consumes us, how unbearable or even impossible another step forward may seem.

A burst of energy:

When gravity pulls you down, when your situations leave you feeling completely out of breathe, allow the Spirit to give you a burst of energy, a gust of fresh air. Refresh yourself in the word, in the love you have for others and in that intense bond you have with Jesus Christ our Saviour. The greatest push is at the very end, when your role in the race comes to an end. We don’t know when our race will end, it could be just around the bend, we need to stay focused and be ready to hand over the baton at any time.

Baton exchange:

When our journey comes to an end, we pass on our legacy to the next, the people we have influenced, the lives we have changed and the love we have shown all influences the lives of others, we can jump start their calling, through encouragement and support. The impact we make in other people’s lives can only truly be seen once we leave earth, while we are enjoying our eternal rest.

We are not on this earth to compete; we all start stagnant and strive for the same finish line, it’s our faith that gets us on track. We may fall behind at times, but truth is we are no different to the murderer who holds a gun to our chest, no different to the father who abuses us or the mother who left us, no different to the spouse who cheated on us or even the sibling who stole from us, the best friend that betrayed us, or our role model who disappointed us. We all have an opportunity to run the same race, restoration is better than isolation, lets run this race together because celebration is better together.

“...For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners!” Matthew 9:13

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Encounter13 – Take it to the Streets

If you asking yourself what Encounter is, you missed out on one mad party. Encounter13 was a 3 day youth and young adult conference held by my church, Hillsong SA. I could do a whole write up about the physical attributes of the conference but it’s the emotional realization that truly moved and captivated every inch of my body and soul. From the herd, crowd, army of people, to the roar and cheer of hundreds during worship, words cannot explain what God is doing in South Africa. We look at our country as being hopeless but I’m telling you, our youth is warriors they are far wiser than one can ever imagine and with a force like this, South Africa will be a land that will prosper, a land that has leaders who genuinely care about the well being of their brothers and sisters, if we continue to speak greatest over our country it will happen, maybe not right now but in the generations to come.

Don't only praise Him in the church, praise Him in the Streets. God's goodness has no boundaries and our love for Him should be the same!

My personal Encounter was more than just a great time, in these last 3 days I have grown so much as a person, I have received direct answers and the plan and purpose for my life was revealed as if I were reading a story book. Through the words people spoke into my life to my own personal spirit filled moments, “You may be small, but I have BIG plans for you” being repeated over and over in my head as if I were listening to a motivational podcast or something, I know that only time is keeping me from pursing God’s divine calling upon my life. Funny thing is, I’m not exactly sure what my calling is yet, where I am heading but one thing I do know is that I trust His directions, as Robert Madu calls it “GPS, God’s Positioning System”.

On Thursday evening when I got back from Encounter, my mind was racing faster than Sea Biscuit on an open field. The next morning at work I decided to write down everything the Spirit laid onto my heart, last night Ps Robert Madu answered almost EVERY question I wrote on the paper that morning, crazy how God works right?

I wrote this in my journal: “I want an effortless Holy Spirit encounter, I try so hard to get that awesome Holy Spirit filled high that it tends to be the only thing I pray about! I forget just to be present, and that from the day I was saved the Holy Spirit already resonated within me and I in Him. Life is difficult enough! Trying to encounter the “feeling” of the presence of the Spirit should be effortless. I must stop trying so hard to “impress” God with my good deeds, and I should stop trying to win Him over, through the perfect sacrifice which is Christ we have been made perfect, if our hearts are right our deeds will follow, and then I will be a God pleaser and not a people pleaser or a self deceiver!” And if any of you heard Ps Robert Madu’s message last night you would know that he answer all of this so wonderfully! One sentence in particular summed it up for me “We seek so much after God that we tend to forget that God will seek after us, God has been waiting on us!” As soon as the podcasts are up I will post a link.

My Encounter Counter:

How to be a Proud Christian without being a Christian with Pride?

I have actually asked myself that question numerous times over, because we all know that pride is a silent killer. A Christian with pride says “Look at me and my good deeds”, a proud Christian allows others to see their goodness and points to Him in humility. A Christian with pride is quick to talk about how great God has been for them but has no interest in much else. A proud Christian is slow to speak and quick to listen, and appreciates the revelation and blessings others receive. Be proud of everything God has done for you without taking pride in your own capabilities “wisdom” and talents.

Changed and Not Ashamed:

People are reluctant to change; they can’t understand the difference in you and naturally tend to reject you because of it. When you experience a conference like Encounter the devil is on a mission to kill your spirit and on Thursday he almost did just that. Someone told me about something nasty someone else said about me, and it really upset me. I know it shouldn’t but it was something quite hurtful. I read my bible Friday morning and guess which passage God presented me with? The story about Joseph who used to declare his excitement for God and the visions God had for him, but as a result his brothers who did not share the same passion as he did sold him as a slave, and through the difficult experiences Joseph endured God developed his wisdom and prepared him for his life’s call!

Be Obedient:

Ah this has be to my greatest realization over the past 3 days, I listened for the Spirit and when I followed clear instructions that is where the miracles happened. Some too personal to share but all I can say is listen to that voice and do it no matter how terrified the thought of it may make you feel, your blessing is on the other side of your obedience!

Be Thankful:

Yes as humans we tend to never be happy with things, I’ll be honest I complained about a couple of things on Thursday, like Encounter opening up the doors to everyone after I registered and paid, and the church being so full on the first night that I was cramped and had to sit on the floor, but then I thought to myself how amazing is it that a church in this modern day is filled to the brim with youth. I should be celebrating not complaining, if someone who has never been in God’s house has the opportunity to come bring them, bring them all! This is revival. I am truly thankful to Hillsong as a whole for being a strong foundation for me to stand on while continually reaching out to God! For feeding my restless soul with soul food and for pouring His living water into my life! Encounter13 must have been one of the greatest experiences of my life, it challenged my heart, it was truly a revelation!  A special thank you to all the guest speakers, our amazing leaders and to all the people I met who inspired me with their stories!

Always remember to check yourself before you wreck yourself, believe to receive, a Bentley can still leave you feeling empty, love like it’s not enough, be happy even when times are crappy, be proud even though you might have to face a crowd, serve before you hit a curve, rejoice so that others will join the noise, trust when your own decisions are a bust, be obedient so that God will be lenient, listen and your heart will glisten! (wow I was on a roll there, I’m sure if I carried on Timberland might have thrown a recording contract at me...Ha!) Until next time Encounter, I’ll step it up and take God’s goodness to the streets!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Preconceptions, Our Greatest Misconceptions

What a busy week it’s been, haven’t even had time to share my thoughts with you, but after Sundays I tend to be so fired up that the only thing I can think about is writing. Firstly I would like to say count your blessings every week, I am so truly thankful for the blessings I received last week. Quick highlight roll, my blog reached 1000+ views, had a successful week at work, and had a wonderful evening at creative night, although that night ended differently to what I imagined! The shop my dad manages had an armed robbery and my dad was held to gun point, with the robbers constantly shouting “I’m going to shoot you”. Our God was his shield, He gave him peace in the midst of the situation and my dad said he felt at ease. So thankful that God intervened and gave my dad a second chance at life, I could’ve been sitting here right now typing a memorial post about my father but instead this is an opportunity for me to express how short life truly is, be thankful, and celebrate each day, time is a gift be grateful when you live to see another.

Okay let me get down to it, my post today is about preconceptions; making up your mind about something or someone before taking the time to experience things first hand resulting in your own opinions which are influenced by the opinions of others. (Wow that was a mouthful).

I want you to realise that preconceptions are our greatest misconceptions. We don’t know or understand everything but we like to think we do. We look at a situation or at people from the outside (judging a book buy its cover), we stand there tapping our foot and rubbing our chin formulating ideas, and then coming up with our own conclusion.

As humans we tend to like our comfort zone and we become complacent, we become picky about the people who form part of our inner circle and if they don’t really fit in then we become cold or stand offish. We form preconceptions about people because of what others have told us and what we think we know about their history and lifestyle. We think we know why others do the things they do and why they have made the decisions they have made. We chose to believe what we want to believe and like the people we want to like, we want others to fit in the mould we have already carved out for them. But I want to pose this question to you today, who are we to judge one another and think we are any better than the strangers we pass in the street! Who are we to choose who is good enough for us to hang out with, who we want to be seen with and who we want to invest our time in, there is no ranking system the only thing that separates us is difference. Imagine if Jesus were picky, choosing only the perfect, none of us would have a fighting chance. He loves all of us no matter how different we are, no matter how sinful we are, his grace allows for us to be close with him to have a relationship with him even after rejecting him at times, so shouldn't we extend the same grace to others?

Of late I have been accused of being the stalker friend, yes you accusers know who you are, haha but fact is if I ask God to surround me with more friends and he does I am not one to be picky, sitting here and selecting who I want to be friends with, people cross my path for a reason and I want to celebrate that, sorry but a hi and bye friend is just not good enough for me. I want to get to know everyone and ANYONE because I find the differences in people absolutely fascinating. My proposal to you is to get to know someone in spite of who you may think they are. When we dismiss people it may turn out to be a blessing missed.

The same goes with situations, we make up our minds about things instead of experiencing things first hand. We need to trust the fact that things will always turn out for the better. Your greatest endeavours are birthed out of your nevers. As a young successful male singer once said, “Never say Never!” We tell ourselves oh I will never leave my job and travel, I will never go to a happy clappy church, I will never go to a gathering alone, I will never pray in front of people, I will never stand a chance because .... (insert own preconceived idea here). Preconceptions are flat out excuses, excuses formulated by fear, fear of change, fear of uncertainty and fear of failure. Climbing into situations which scare you, and doing the things you would never for a minute think of doing could change the course of your life. We all think we have it figured out, our perfect 5 year plan to achieve success, truth be told you may run into dead ends or detours which may cause you to follow a different route or plan which could result in you ending up at a place far better than your original plans, far greater than the destination you planned for yourself. If you stop and take time to get to know someone and their story, if you care and love others regardless of their choices and who you think they are and see the goodness in them you will give them hope for better days! We are all equally important there is no corporate ladder for life.

Your journey is only at the beginning, take the road less traveled it’s filled with adventure and beauty far greater than the concrete highway you have taken a liking too. YOLO for God (You only live once for God, on earth that is) but if you chose the highway (no pun intended) YOLO could end up being YOUR LOW! Glorify His name in everything that you do, make decisions based on the things that will draw you nearer to Him and surround yourself with people who speak highly of Him. He loves all, encourages all and provides opportunities for all. It’s your choice whether you dive in with full trust or whether you wait at the shore holding everyone’s glasses, flip-flops and hats watching others having fun and experiencing the life you want to have! Go for it, the future is yours!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Be Expectant

“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” Revelations 12:11

It is so important to share the big things that happen in your life no matter how small they seem to others, because when you have fallen and Jesus lifts you up your testimony allows you to stand against evil and ignorance and rise up as a beacon of hope for those who may feel defeated and out of luck.

One of the most important things as a Christian is to be expectant, expectant of the supernatural, miracles and breakthrough. We live through the eyes of hope; we see the future as a better and brighter place because if we lose hope we lose life. I want to tell you about something amazing that happened over the weekend, and I want you to take it as opportunity to see and feel without truly seeing and believing. You will understand what I mean after this story.

On Saturday evening after my dad got home from work, we got to talking; firstly discussing the Joel Osteen book my dad told me to read entitled Your Best Life Now, then onto the topic of having a relationship with and strong faith in Jesus. Before I continue let me tell you a little bit about my dad, he is a funny, caring, warm hearted individual who shows a passion and heart for the things my sister and I love, and he is our number one supporter in everything we do. He has always been fascinated with the unknown, sci-fi movies, magic and all of that. As our conversation continued he was telling me that he needs to sort his mindset out because he becomes so fixated on the fact as to why things happen, he said he always wants to see the end result and it’s very difficult for him to understand Christianity because he can’t see any facts, and there is so many other things in this world that causes him to be curious. Where my response to this was that he needed to go to church the next day being expectant, expectant that God will deliver the right answers, expectant that peace will fill his heart and that the Holy Spirit will guide him in the right direction!

Here is where the miracle happened, if any of you attended Hillsong Canal Walk yesterday you would know that Ps Ron Martin delivered a great word about becoming a doer of the word, reading the bible and claiming victory as your own. Doing the unexpected to receive blessings and not to persuade yourself out of the blessings God wants to give you (podcast here). Just before Ps Ron’s big finish, I looked at my Dad and he looked back at me, smiled and nodded in agreement. I smiled back, with tears in my eyes, thanking God for continually pouring his love and encouragement over my family members and for constantly providing me with answered prayers.

I’ve been reading Genesis and the story of Abraham’s servant’s first encounter with Rebekah who later wed Abraham’s son Isaac (read story here)  made we think about going into a situation expectant, he traveled across the country to find a wife for Isaac being obedient to God and to his master Abraham, he prayed and asked God to bless him with a woman who is fitting for Isaac, expecting a miracle to take place, and the Lord God delivered and when he delivered he delivered his best, as Rebekah was described as “beautiful”. When he saw the miracle within reach he already thanked God before Rebekah even agreed to return with him to marry Isaac.

26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the Lord, 27 saying, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.” Genesis 24: 26-27

He claimed the situation and believed that he would end up victorious, and he did! God says: "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

If you go into a situation with expectation you will come out victorious! If you are seeking answers and direction open your bible and declare the words on the page as if it were written especially for you! Go to church services, conferences, listen to podcasts and read blogs expecting to be moved, expecting to be changed and expecting a supernatural miracle. When you pray believe with your heart that your desire will be met and go into everyday expecting that miracle to come to pass!

Expect your life to change at any moment, and when that change comes about, it will be perfectly timed and it will take your breath away! See your life being transformed for the better over and over again  in your head, see your victory before it has even happened, and once you receive your miracle drop your head and say thank you in the midst of your situation. A lifetime of happiness can start at any moment, God wants us to be happy but we must want happiness for ourselves first. If you desire favour claim it, it is yours for the taking!