Saturday, February 5, 2011

Iron Sharpens Iron.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
 (Proverbs 27:17)

Happy New Year!
I know I am so late. I was much occupied with a lot of stuff and when I eventually put all those things behind me, I wasn’t sure on what experience I wanted to share as my 1st update for the year. This is not what I planned on posting this week, but as things unfolded in my life yesterday, I knew the write-up I prepared earlier could wait till next week.

As we all know, no race is easy to run and only those who persevere are able to complete any race. This is the same for the Christian race. My walk with God had been rough for a couple of weeks. I just couldn’t bring myself to approach God’s throne. I woke up every day and instead of my usual devotion, I just said a word of prayer, which was not from my heart, but said it anyway in order not to feel guilty and then stepped out of the house to go about my duties. It was so hard for me to pray. I could feel myself drifting away from God’s presence and I couldn’t bring myself to do anything about it.

Thankfully, that changed yesterday. I felt bored at home and decided to call my best friend, who is also a Christian. Our relationship is so special, that over the years, we have been there for each other in every way, which includes encouraging each other in our Christian journey. My intention was to know how she was doing and chat for a little bit as it had been a week since we last spoke. But as God would have it, our chit-chat centered on religious stuff and since I never save face with BF I ended up pouring out my heart to her. I told her about the distance I had created between me and God for the past couple of weeks. After hearing myself talk, I realized how far I had kept God at arm’s length. BF and I decided to deal with the issue right there by praying together over the phone. We prayed, worshiped and read the bible. I gradually began to feel some unspeakable joy well up within me, my troubled soul became peaceful and right there, God restored to me the Joy of my salvation. It was right there I understood Jesus’ words in Matthew 11: 28 “Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” For the past five weeks, I had been trying to fight my battle myself, I had been trying to tackle my many situations without involving Jesus, I had been deliberately ignoring the voice of truth, and since I am powerless, all my troubles had overwhelmed me to the point of almost driving me into a state of depression.

God has not promised us an easy life as we choose to walk in his ways however, having people who have the same goals as we do, who we can call upon anytime to encourage us, is a key to making the race bearable. As we all know, no man is an island. I am thankful for my best friend because I am 100% sure that I would not be back to my normal self if we hadn’t cultivate the habit of encouraging each other and bearing each other’s burdens.

Surround yourselves with Godly people, people you can always talk to when things go shaky in your life, people who can help you back on your feet when you fall.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Looking for The Perfect Church.

Faithful church attainder..(CHECK)
Bench warmer..................(CHECK)
Active member.................(QUESTION MARK)

I really love going to church and I always feel guilty whenever I miss service for whatever reason. Two churches I love so dearly are Beacon Light Baptist Church (BLBC) and Cornerstone Church (CC). I attended BLBC when I was in school and I always looked forward to the following Sunday service. I have never been to CC physically but I have joined the church's online service a number of times. I really love the preacher, Pastor John Hagee and I always download his messages on iTunes every week. 

However, last year I moved to Canada and in all honesty, I really haven’t found a church to match BLBC and CC. Ar first, my going to church became a routine and not out of passion. During service, my mind would wander and sometimes, I would doze off during sermon. This got me concerned but I always consoled myself with the fact that “I just was not feeling the church”. 

I decided to go church hunting but the churches I visited, according to me, had question marks. Either the praise and worship was not “HOT” enough, or the service was “generally boring”. I pretty much had my reservations on the all the churches and after reviewing my reasons, I knew there was a problem somewhere. Later I realized why all the churches never met my expectations: I was comparing them to BLBC.

BLBC is one of the best churches I have attended in my life and it is a BLACK church so you can imagine the quality of the Praise and Worship. I had to talk to myself that my days in BLBC are over and I have to move on. I needed to stop comparing churches and as long as the WORD as in the real WORD is being preached in any church, then am good to go.

Searching my heart thoroughly, I knew I was just a user. I had never worked or volunteered in any church, not even in my previous church. I had made it my duty to go to church, take in the word and go home. I knew this did not glorify God because we all have been called to serve and there are so many areas one can serve in. I made up my mind to find a place where I can serve and add value to people’s lives. 

Three weeks ago, I finally began to serve in my church. I am now a leader in the youth department. I help out with the junior high students and since I started giving back to the body of Christ, I have felt more blessed. Also, my role as a leader has made me more conscious of my actions because I know people are looking at and up to me.

I honestly miss BLBC but right now, I am happy I can contribute to the lives of others. I am attentive in church and surprisingly, the preaching is not boring. The pastor preaches the WORD and that’s the main thing.

There is no perfect church and people are different including preachers, making them have unique styles of passing the message across. I know there are people who don’t go to church or people who are not getting the best from their churches because they have my previous attitude. If you will take your mind off minor things and look for what really matters in a church which I believe is in the content of the message, in addition to using your God-given talents to glorify Him, you will make your church experience better. 

Instead of us putting our focuses on happening churches, huge churches or whatever criteria we have on our check lists, let us focus on what is important and let us also look for ways we can serve instead of being bench-warmers and critiques.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Being careful of what you wish for or getting you prepared for the future?

One of the bible verses I learned at an early age was Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord..."
It was a verse I fell in love with instantly but always remembered momentarily.
However, about 3 weeks ago, I came across that verse while reading a novel in the train and I found myself thinking about it all day. When I got in bed that night, I picked up my bible and decided to read the whole chapter. I have always believed that God has good things in store for me but this particular night, this verse ministered to me in a different way.  (You know how you have always known a scripture and then one day you see it from a different and more intense angle? that was what happened to me).

The following day, I called my beloved uncleT and as usual, we talked about new developments in our lives and then as always, before hanging up, he asked about my spiritual life. I remember telling him of how Jeremiah 29:11 ministered to me in a different way the previous day. In fact I remember myself being so pumped up that I referred to an important exam I had written 3weeks earlier. I told uncleT that even if I did not perform well enough in the exam, I would not feel bad because I believe God has a plan for my life and no matter the situation, nothing would stop it from materializing. I felt in pain in my tummy after letting out those words and the thought of not excelling in the exam made my heart skip a beat.

Fast forward 3 days later. I check my result and BOOM. BOMBSHELL..!!.. ok, so I did not do horrible, in fact I scored well above average, but it was not what I wanted, the score was not enough to make me a competitive applicant. And to think I had confidently put all my application together, I was in total shock. I did not even know how to react and the last thing on my mind was to cry. Anger started building up within me and before I knew it, sadness settled over my face. I was devastated!! I wanted to talk to someone but I could not. I was over at a friend's for a birthday and the last thing I wanted was to be a wet blanket. As I fought to contain myself, I remembered the conversation I had with uncleT.

I was stunned I did not know what to make of it. Part of me felt it was the statement I said to uncleT that made my result not too rosy, that if I had just shut up my mouth maybe God would not have tested me with this. The other part of me felt that God actually prepared that verse for me and the new revelation in order for me to be able to handle what was already planned out to happen. As I tried to make sense of it, I realized God did not change his mind about my result the very last minute; He already had everything planned out, even before I was born. He definitely prepared me all week in order to handle the situation.

At this time, I forced a smile on my face as I softly recited Jeremiah 29:11 and kept orienting my mind into the fact that God has GOOD plans for me and this is one of the GOOD plans. I shut my eyes and I said a couple of words of prayer. I thanked God for the result, I thank God for preparing me for the news and I thanked God for the good plans he has in store for me.

I felt very happy afterward and was able to get dressed for my friend's birthday dinner and stay happy throughout my stay, and presently am still a happy person.

Still, I have no idea why all the efforts and late nights I kept in order to study for my exam did not materialize. I don't understand how I did so well in the practice tests and did not measure up in the exam.
But I know and I understand one thing:
THAT GOD has GOOD plans for me, plans to PROSPER me and NOT to harm me, plans to give me a HOPE and a FUTURE.
And as God said concerning his children in 1 Corinthians 2:8
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him."
And no matter what kind of failure you have to deal with right now, remember JEREMIAH 29:11, also keep in mind that "ALL things [absolutely everything] work together for the GOOD of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose".

Monday, November 8, 2010

Second-hand Faith Versus First-hand Faith

Firstly I must let you all know I am brand-new to the blogger-world..... and I am very excited about it.  I had been postponing my starting a blog site for the past 3 months because I was not sure on what I wanted to blog about. My aim is to focus on JUST ONE THING as I am a strong believer in “don’t be jacks of all trades, master of none”. After so many weeks, I have finally decided to share with my readers about MY WALK WITH GOD, meaning my focus would be on my Christian life!!

Although I have always been a christian, I began developing my walk with God four years ago. Growing up,I had no choice but to follow my parents to church, I also went to a christian school where we pretty much prayed about 5times everyday and were forced to go to church on Sundays(trust me there were some Sundays I rather would have stayed in bed than go to church for 6 hours). So in my early years, I had no understanding of the word of God, I did all I did, because I was required to.

My parents did a decent job in bringing me up in the word of God. My mum led a “Kids’ Bible Club” which took place every Friday evening where she taught all the kids in attendance bible stories and memory verses. Then, I had no choice as to whether I wanted to serve God or not, it was my environment and parents that determined how I was brought up spiritually. My faith was a second hand faith.
However, when I grew up, I had the option to CHOOSE,...:) at this stage, parents barely had any say in whether I remained a TRUE believer or not since I was sooo sooo far away from home and they could only believe what I told them over the phone..(Thank God for a HUGE WORLD). I really was not sure of what I was doing but I was determined to continue in my faith and build on my foundation. I started developing my personal walk with God in my 1st year in university.

Sometimes I was totally oblivious about what I read in the bible but I never gave up. My goal was to keep the fire burning and although it took a while, I began to have a better insight. Presently, not everything works out the way I want them to but I have reached a stage in my life where I can boldly say, just like Job said in Job 19:23 “I know my redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand upon the earth and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh, I will see God”.

Job knew God so well that even when he lost EVERYTHING, and despite what his wife and friends said to him, he was able to ignore them and let them know that whatever he was going through, “[HIS] REDEEMER LIVES”.

At this stage, I must be honest with you, I didn’t come up with the title of this my first write up. It was part of a sentence I heard in church this past Sunday and totally fell in love with it. The sentence reminded me of the people I know and stories I have heard about those who have “LOST” their faith because of different circumstances. It is sad that they have decided to shut God out of their lives but after thinking about it and remembering the study I did on the life of Job earlier this year, I immediately knew that whatever their faith was based on was faulty and that is why they were able to toss it away when things changed.

Second hand faith is not totally wrong in fact it is sometimes a building block for First-hand faith (like in my case) but dwelling on second hand faith has its effects. A true test of faith is our ability to hold on to what we profess when situations in our lives become unpleasant and it seems everything has failed us. Having a solid relationship with God gives birth to First-hand faith. This is the desired type of faith because we realize that when things in this world go wrong, we have a GOD that NEVER EVER fails. Whatever the building block of our faith is, it is best we continue to build on it so that, in a world where things are uncertain, whatever may come our way (Bad stuff of course) we can still STAND.