Category Archives: Lifestyle

Self-help Part 2 – Determining God’s will

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In Self-help Part 1 I talked about the quote “God helps those who helps themselves”.

The main points were:

  • This quote is not from the Bible,
  • We shouldn’t and can’t really help ourselves outside of God’s plan, and
  • We shouldn’t sit back and do nothing while waiting on God to make His move.
  • Finally, the quote was updated to the more correct “God helps us to help ourselves

So the question still remains:

How do we know what God wills us to help ourselves with?

The issue of doing God’s will is a challenging one for a lot of people, myself included. I’ve been asked by at least two friends recently how we can tell what God wants us to do. I personally have never heard God explicitly say “Beloved child, do X” That would make life super-easy, but would result in no maturation on our parts! For me personally, I have a few principles I try to apply in determining what God wants me to do in a situation:

  1. If the Word explicitly says what to do, do it.

    This one is pretty easy in terms of knowing if what you are doing is right or wrong. Knowing what is right is easy, doing it is tough! Often I know what is the right thing to do but don’t feel like doing it. We should try not to live by our feelings though, but by our principles. For example: you might not feel like being nice to a person who hurt you deeply, but God’s word says to love your enemies. No matter how much this person hurt you, shower them with love (note God isn’t asking you to go out of your way to be nice to the person or to even like the person, just to love them and be a good neighbour if and when the situation arises.)

  2. Let peace decide.

    If you don’t have peace about doing something, don’t do it. I like the amplified version of Colossians 3:16

    And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually)
    in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds,
    in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live].
    And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].

    Whenever I have a tough decision to make, and I really am torn about what to do, I look for that feeling of peace. You may not like the decision but it’s the right one when God sends peace after making it. The last part of the verse is important too. Continue to be thankful no matter what situation you are in. Thank God for all the things that are right in your life instead of focussing on the difficulty of your decision.

  3. Pray for wisdom specific to the situation.

    Here’s a prayer that is guaranteed by God to be answered once we ask in faith.

    If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. – James 1:5-6

    When I have no idea what to do in a situation, when I’m unsure about something, or when I feel totally lost, I always pray for specific wisdom. For example, I’m in the process of preparing a huge document but did not know where to start. I asked God specifically for wisdom concerning where to begin and how much time to spend on each part of the project. Thankfully, my prayer was answered almost immediately. However, this verse does not say when God will send his wisdom. Sometimes you may actually need to go through a process to gain that wisdom. The process is useful because you learn and mature along the way, which is usually preparation for future promotion. Other times you miraculously just wake up with an answer. In both cases, God will grant you wisdom in perfect time once you prayed faithfully.

  4. Loving God, loving yourself and loving others.

    This one is just a bonus. Sometimes we just don’t have the answer. We have no idea what to do. In some difficult situations, I have felt like the Bible does not say something specific to my situation, no decision seems peaceful, and I’ve prayed for wisdom but have not received it yet. The situation thus becomes a waiting game and an exercise in patience. What do I do while waiting? I go back to number 1…

    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36-40

    If you are going to do what is right, it hangs on loving God and loving your neighbour. While waiting for answers from God, take your mind off the situation by going out and doing something nice for someone. Be a blessing to a person in need, or a person close to you that you might be taking for granted. In my experience the answers usually come when you’re distracted in being kind, which is a double reward.

    I hope this helps with the tough decisions coming your way!
    Angie

Self-help Part 1 – God helps those who help themselves

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“God helps those who help themselves”

I trust many of us have heard this saying, and probably use it subconsciously or deliberately as a life principle. I have been thinking about it a bit more critically as despite popular belief it is not a quote from the Bible yet  it is often thrown around in Christian forums as if it was the word of God itself!

First, the extreme interpretations:

Extreme 1:

God won’t help you if you don’t help yourself first.

I believe this is directly contradictory to Scripture, especially the gospel of grace (unmeritted favour from God). We do not have to perform tasks to earn credit in God’s bank of blessings and help.

Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation.
However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly,
their faith is credited as righteousness.- Romans 4:4-5 

Moreover, as believers, we should trust that God will help us at the times when we cannot help ourselves (which is all the time).

But he said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you, 
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”…
– 2 Corinthians 12:9

For example, when the 75 year old impotent Abram was told he would be a father of nations, his barren wife Sarai did not believe she would be the mother of these nations but she did believe God’s promise. So she set out to “help God”.

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children.
But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar;
so she said to Abram,
“The Lord has kept me from having children.
Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
– Genesis 16:1-2

In the end, many years later, Genesis chapter 21 says

 Now the Lord was GRACIOUS to Sarah as he had said,
and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised.
– Genesis 21:1 (emphasis mine).

God’s grace, not Sarah’s scheming, helped Sarah! God did not help Sarah because she “helped herself”, He helped her despite helping herself!

Lastly, we cannot really help ourselves without God enabling us. This is explicit in the gospel message from John.

“I am the vine; you are the branches.
If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; 
apart from me you can do nothing.
– John 15:5 (emphasis mine)

English: "A Helping Hand". 1881 pain...

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Extreme 2:

Helping yourself is ungodly and we should sit back and wait on God.

 I believe that this is also contradictory to the Word; Specifically, the “sitting back”, not the “waiting”. There is merit in waiting on God. There are many scriptural references to patience but the one that comes to mind is:

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
– James 1:2-4

Patience is important for our maturity. It takes a really mature and humble person to truly believe that “God’s timing is better than mine” (*my struggle*) and to wait expectantly.

On the other hand, there is no merit in doing nothing at all while waiting. Think of a good waiter in a restaurant.

While he is waiting for your order, he busies himself serving other customers (blessing others), maybe he’ll pour you a glass of water (service) or converse with you about the options (prayer) until you finally at the right time place your order (God’s order in your life). A waiter who disappears in the back for a smoke break will probably miss when you are ready to order, but a waiter who genuinely serves well and expects your order, will be ready for that order… and may even get an unexpected tip!

A Waitress taking a breakfast order at Kahala ...

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So we’ve dealt with the extremes of the quote “God helps those who help themselves”. We’ve found that we should not and cannot truly help ourselves without God; neither should we sit back and do nothing. While waiting, we should pray and serve God and others genuinely. Though it leaves to be explored how do we know what actions we should take, which I’ll discuss in Part 2!

Thinking about the extremes, though, has inspired me to modify the quote:

“God helps us TO help ourselves!”

Have a great day,

Angie

Live with a Vision!

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On the surface God’s power is not always visible, but the person of faith knows that God is there, no matter what!1

After all…

 

His glory covered the heavens,

And the earth was full of His praise.

His brightness was like the light;

He had rays flashing from His hand,

And there His power was hidden.

Before Him went pestilence,

And fever followed at His feet.  

(Habakkuk 3:4,5)

One can persevere by living with a vision1. If you had a vision of a savior that could do this: 

He looked and startled the nations.

And the everlasting mountains were scattered,

The perpetual hills bowed….

The mountains saw You and trembled;

The overflowing of the water passed by.

The deep uttered its voice,And lifted its hands on high.

The sun and moon stood still in their habitation;

At the light of Your arrows they went, At the shining of Your glittering spear.

(Habakkuk 3: 6, 10, 11)

But then, when you heard the voice of the almighty this happened:

My body trembled; My lips quivered at the voice;

Rottenness entered my bones;

And I trembled in myself,

That I might rest in the day of trouble.

(Habakkuk 3:16)

“Looking back at how God brought me through”

But I remembered how you have brought me through before so I declared: 

Though the fig tree may not blossom,

Nor fruit be on the vines;

Though the labor of the olive may fail,

And the fields yield no food;

Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,

And there be no herd in the stalls—

 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength;

He will make my feet like deer’s feet,

And He will make me walk on my high hills.

(Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen.

Love, Ms. B

1. Goldstein, C.R. Remembering God’s Fame. Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide.Pacific Press Publishing Association, Idaho. p.68.2013.

Fifty Shades of Gray

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Fifty Shades of Gray—— I think these are the hues through which women see, we blindly enter into dark, uncharacteristic, I must have lost my mind, relationships that have no future, and during the relationship (-is sinking), there is no true depth or profundity, in fact there is a complete lack of quality. The relationship constitutes and reflects an overwhelming color block exhibiting a blur of gray areas that we make excuses for. Loneliness is no excuse to drop your standards so far below the baseline that your virtue electrocardiogram blasts the familiar loud monotonous sound of  one’s values and principles flat-lining. Women  have we lost our self-worth so that we are no longer objective, logical, or sensible for that matter when choosing our mates?  Rather than allowing such a crucial and potentially life changing decision be heavily influenced by a sure, firm foundation of guiding principles, we allow something as transient and capricious as our feelings to be the strongest determining factor in choosing the one with which we would invest large amounts of our time, we instead listen to our deceitful  and untrustworthy hearts as the compass through life’s inevitable season of useless relationships? The word of God warns us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9.  

So ladies can you really trust your heart?

If we compromise our principles, values, and standards which we have held for the majority of our lives for the sake of someone who comes into our lives for a moment, a minute, a miniscule amount of time relative to how long we’ve lived with ourselves, it begs to ask the question have I really thrown  away who I am for what might be a visitor.  One can liken such behavior to breaking down your home of 10 years, even changing its foundation, to rebuild another one so as to fashion it to the standards and liking of an out of town visitor whom you have known for less time than you have had your home.  Our relationship choices do not only affect us, but it can certainly impact others of whose lives we are a part. Think about the examples we would be setting for  other young ladies and young men looking toward us for guidance? Messages that echo ‘women take what you can get while you can get it’  and “men treat us anyway you like, it won’t make a difference, we will still bow to your every whim just because we rather have a partner than our self-respect’. …well I sure hope after you ladies read this, the buck stops here, because it is a disgrace to see the acts of folly and foolishness we women are willing to tolerate today. When you find yourself altering your behavior and carrying out inconceivable actions as a result of the presence of a new mate to which your friends and family respond negatively and with deep concern, then you must take a step back and really check yourself.

Before one decides to date, they should carefully evaluate the character of the individual; ask some poignant and explicit questions that would remove the layers and reveal the true character. Inquire about his past record, observe his behavior around friends and family or if possible in the work place, observe how he treats you (of course) – does he open the door?- does he walk on the outside of you closest to the traffic?- does he speak to you with courtesy? But most importantly, does he have a relationship with God? E.G White says, “Listen not to the proposals of a man who has no realization of his responsibility to God.”   This is absolutely true, because if the person whom you choose to invite into your life is not led by God, then you just never know what you’re gonna get… “take heed, lest what you now think to be pure gold turns out to be base metal (1). Now ladies and gents that statement right there is overflowing with wisdom, no one ever wants to get a six for a nine, or cubic zirconium rather than a diamond so please avoid the shades of gray and carefully screen before you decide to date. Do not be fooled by a pretty exterior….many red apples look rosy and nice till you bite into the rotten core.

When we date, risk is always involved, but it can be a wonderful process connecting with someone with whom you never knew before, developing a deep and fulfilling friendship by sharing numerous enjoyable experiences with each other, however in the midst of cloud nine, be aware, be vigilant, guard your character, and consider if this individual will allow you to preserve your individuality (1) or will he or she compromise your very character. Avoid the shades of gray because when it comes to your character and dignity there’s only black and white.

Love,

Ms. B

(1) White, E.G. The Adventist Home. Review and Herald Publishing Association. 2001

Tapestry

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Detail of Woodpecker tapestry designed by Will...

My life’s a woven tapestry, I so often fail to see,

The perfect weaving of the loom at work inside of me.

Everyday, I look unfinished, and find it hard to understand,

My tapestry’s great splendor seeking all my Lord has planned.

In times of pain and suffering when trust and pain collide,

I long to see the finished work, but only view the underside.

A tangled web of knots and threads, caught up in such a mess,

I know His works unfinished, and in His tender hands, I rest.

His needlework is perfect, in every stitch His love is told,

The crafting of His handiwork in priceless threads of gold.

I must trust the master weaver, who knows my life’s great plan.

So I’ll let Him sow his perfect will, though I may not understand.

My life’s a treasured tapestry that I shall walk in faith to see,

As I feel the nails as needles sow his tender love through me.

And when His work is finished on the topside may I see,

The perfect image of my Saviour, on my life’s great tapestry.

– Allan Mitchell

Source: Our own transformation by Donna Mitchell

Thoughts on “It isn’t good to be alone”

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I’ve been reading a lot these days and came across an interesting article called “It isn’t good to be alone”. Perhaps I should explain why I found it was interesting, besides that absolutely tantalizing title!

I’ve been single for a while and still struggling a bit with being rejected by someone I care deeply about. The whole situation led me on a very introspective journey. For a while now I have been praying for God to help me address deficiencies in my character. To be clear, I don’t mean deficiencies in any self-deprecating way. I mean that I have realized that as long as I live, there are things I can improve about myself; I’ll never be perfect but I can still aim for optimum.

A woman thinking

During my character-building journey, I realized that I had developed a subconscious idea that God would not bless me with a good man to love until enough of my deficiencies or attitudes have changed i.e. until I was “good enough”. For example, on the days I was depressed and just couldn’t pull myself together I used to tell  myself “God wouldn’t let you meet anyone if you continue with this ungrateful crying” or “No one would like you like this” or  even “You are not ready for any relationship if you can’t even be normal by yourself”. But after reading this article and some Bible scripture, my mind has drastically changed. (Thank God!)

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“Heaven knows God didn’t wait until I had it all together in my singleness to give me my husband. And I know many women experiencing infertility who struggle with the same idea. “What is the lesson I have to learn before God will give me a child?!” No, friend! Your sisters in Christ with husbands and/or children did not EARN that good gift by their obedience or faith…”

What a revelation! I was so glad to be reminded that I do not earn blessings with my works! And what a relief it was to realize that God can still bless me in my mess.

And then I remembered so many Biblical examples of how God used people who seemingly weren’t “ready” or “suitable”. Abraham and Sarah were ancient and barren when God said Abraham would be the father of many nations. Moses wasn’t a very good speaker yet God made him leader of the Israelites.David was the youngest of Jesse’s sons, with no royal blood, yet God had him anointed to be king. Peter was a fisherman, not a theologian, yet Jesus called him to be a disciple. The list goes on and on.

So I hope my little epiphany helped someone out there who needs to hear it. God loves you unconditionally, not dependent on where you are right now. I’ll continue trying to be a better person every day with God’s help and armed with the knowledge that He sees my effort and doesn’t reward me because of it but blesses me despite it.

Love,

Angie

Reining in thoughts and emotions

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I’m an emotional person. It’s always been my excuse for my mood swings and uncanny ability to summon tears at the drop of a hat. In the past, I have let my emotions get away from me… and I am not talking about happy emotions. Being moody or throwing a pity-party is no fun for us or for people around us. Sadly (or sometimes happily!) emotions are here to stay. God gave us emotions, but He also gave us some important information and advice about managing them.

English: Emotions

First, we must recognize that our emotions come from our heart and our mind, which are sometimes described as two different but very intertwined elements of our inner person. As I understand it, our heart is where spirits live; in a born again Christian, it would be where the Spirit of God lives [1]. Our minds are our thought and memory centers. [2] It would follow that in order to manage our emotions, we must manage and be responsible for the thoughts in our minds. How can we go about doing this?

Start with a promise

Earlier this year I wrote my self a contract. It simply said:

“With God’s word to teach me and His Spirit to help me,
today is the day I will begin to take responsibility for my thoughts and emotions”

I signed it, dated it and kept it close to me. That was the beginning of a conscious effort to control my thought-life. Because the contract starts with God’s Word, the next step is…

Renew your mind

Renewing your mind involves studying God’s Word [3]. It is not a one time action, but a daily renewal. The wording of my contract implied that in order to be taught by God’s word, I had to study my Bible every single day. For me it meant getting up earlier (and I disliked being up super early), for others it may mean struggling through the old style text, and still others despise reading in general. My advice is to pray for God’s grace to help you with whatever sacrifice you have to make to make this happen. With time it will become easier and a habit. (I heard it takes about 3 weeks to 2 months to form a habit, so aim for at least 3 weeks of consistent reading).

If you’re new to regular Bible reading, a good place to start is the gospel of John. You could also start with the “story books” like Ruth or Esther, or if you like bite-size nuggets of faith, try Proverbs. Alternatively, you can do a search for verses that speak to what you have particular difficulty with e.g. Google “Bible verses peace” if you want to know what God says about peace. The point is just to start somewhere and let God guide you. It may be a good idea to have a close friend keep you accountable as well by offering to read with them daily, but make sure they are as committed as you are to this lifestyle change.

Use the knowledge and be on your way

When we’ve been reading the Word for a significant period of time, we build up a knowledge and memory of what the Word says. However, we need to actually do what the Word says [4].

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me,
or seen in me— put it into practice…

Philippians 4:9

One morning I woke up and immediately started to cry because my uncontrolled thoughts immediately went to a situation I was facing. I opened my Bible to 1 Samuel 16. Lo and behold God spoke immediately in verse 1.

The Lord said to Samuel,
“How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel?
Fill your horn with oil and be on your way;
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem.
I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
1 Samuel 16:1

I was convinced that God was saying to me to take action and STOP my incessant crying because he had something more suitable in store for me than what I thought I had lost and I should “be on my way” and MOVE ON. I have to admit that I felt embarrassed and since then I decided to purposefully try my best to BE joyful and not just read about being joyful or know I should be joyful in all things.

Keep your peace

For me this is by far the most challenging part of controlling thoughts and emotions. Peace is a huge topic that I’d like to write about if God lets me. As Christians we can have peace whenever we want because when Jesus left, he left His peace [5]. Though the peace is a free gift, we are encouraged to actively pursue it [6]. When are we most at peace?

  • When we do not have conflicting beliefs or thoughts, or a nagging conscience

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. – James 1:8

  • When we trust God because we know that He is all-knowing, can handle all our problems and will protect us from harm

Be still, and know that I am God… – Psalm 46:10

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. – Psalm 4:8

  • When we are doing what God has asked us to do

The priest answered them, “Go in peace. Your journey has the Lord’s approval.” – Judges 18:6

Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. – Psalm 119:165

  • When we make wise decisions (God-wise not world-wise)

Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. – Proverbs 3:17

  • When we are grateful for God’s blessings and mercy

…with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body you were called to peace.
And be thankful. – Colossians 3:15

My favourite reference to peace is this:

You will keep in perfect peace those whose
minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. – Isaiah 26:3

It pointedly tells us to keep our minds steadfast, firm and unwavering. The only thoughts that can be perfectly unwavering are true thoughts. The only thoughts that I know that are ALWAYS true are  God’s thoughts, so we feel at peace when we align our thoughts with the Word.

Focus! Focus! Focus!

Finally, do not lose focus. We need to consciously avoid the triggers of our unpleasant emotions by “Girding up the loins of our minds” [7]. Anything that distracts us from God’s Word and truth, makes us disobey God, or makes us lose our peace needs to be avoided as much as possible. If  it can’t be avoided, remember that God said that you can do all things in Christ no matter what your situation is [8]. He can help you to focus in the midst of storms [9].

I hope these strategies help if, like me, you battle with fluctuating emotions. Remember God wants us to be stable, so we need to trust and hope in Him and banish any thoughts that make us do otherwise.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8.

 

Keep smiling, Angie

[1] See Romans 8:272 Cor 1:22, and Galatians 4:6. We should note however, that our mind is not always in communication with our heart/spirit (See 1 Cor 14:14).
[2] See Ezekiel 38:10 and Jeremiah 3:16.
[3] See Romans 12:2.
[4] See James 2:17.
[5] See John 14:27.
[
6] See 1 Peter 3:11.
[7] See 1 Peter 1:13.
[8] See Philippians 4:12-13.
[9] See Psalm 50:15.

Eat less sugar… you’re sweet enough already

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Hey everyone!

So I haven’t written much on health and fitness for a L–O–N–G while! The truth is I’ve been trying something new. Remember when I said I hated fad diets? Well, I’ve thrown in the towel. After working out for years and being slim but not toned I went on a low sugar diet. I continued my usual workout and continued taking multivitamins but here’s how my food intake went:

Mon to Fri… I ate every 3 hours as normal but low sugar and limited dairy. This includes no fruit, juice, soda, soy milk, cookies or my favourite TWIX 😦

The North American Twix wrapper as of 2010.

Breakfast was invariably 1 cup of cream of wheat or oats in water with a half scoop of vanilla casein because it’s easy and delicious. I had well balanced lunches, for example brown rice, baked chicken and a mixture of uncooked corn, sweet peppers and carrots (or whatever fresh veggies I had around). I had a pre-workout drink before I hit the gym and dinner was usually a turkey/chicken/cottage cheese multigrain sandwich with veggies or something simple like that. I snacked on bran flakes, nuts, plain greek yogurt with a little stevia, sugar-free gelatine or homemade sugar-free cookies if I felt hungry, because starving myself is NOT a good idea.

On the weekends I ate whatever I wanted IN MODERATION! No bingeing was allowed!

Scenography for the movie Greed. 1926.

The first week was the hardest but honestly by week two I didn’t have cravings anymore. Twix bars did not have that same addictive hold on me. My taste buds definitely adapted.

So how did my body respond? Well I definitely was never hungry (unless I missed my 3 hour mark… which is my own fault!) I began to see more definition in my body. My skin was cleaner (re: adult acne) and in the first couple of weeks I lost 3 lbs. I felt really energized rather than tired and I continued this diet for about a month until Christmas. But right before Christmas, I saw abs! For the first time in my life!

Praise Jesus, abs are possible for regular people like you and me!

Abs of Stone

So if you are struggling with that last few pounds off your goal weight, or just want to tone up for a big event, try cutting those extra sugar sources out of your diet. I’m not a medical doctor so if you want professional help, see a nutritionist or dietician. I’m just a regular person trying to take care of the only body I have. You should know what works for you.

The thing about this diet is that it doesn’t have to be a fad. You aren’t totally cutting out those bad foods you love, just saving them for special occasions. It makes you appreciate them so much more or realizee you didn’t like them that much anyway.

Keep healthy,

Angie

3 things someone needs to read right now

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Sure sign of Spring - Robin - Bird

Good morning everyone!

I woke up and after praying I felt compelled to write this very short post.

3 Things to Remember

  1. God is with you. He will not and cannot leave you. You are not alone.

  2. A new thing is being created in and for you. God will not create this new thing in an old you or an unprepared you. A broken or depressed you is not a ready you.

  3. God has good plans for you. You don’t need to know what they are unless the Spirit of truth decides it’s time to reveal them to you. Be discerning and keep faith and hope while you wait on God.

I hope this helps someone out there.

Angie

Psalm 151

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Open Bible

If I could write a Psalm, it would go something like this…

I thank You Lord for the breath of life. I pray for your peace in my waking hours, and your comfort as I sleep; for my rest is in the Lord. 3 You are my light, my joy and my strength. Your Word is truth; You will not forsake me. Though I am raked through this trial, You will not let go of my hand. 6 You will pull me through with abundant blessings. Lord, help me to rejoice in suffering, knowing it is for my benefit, and to fulfill Your good and perfect plan. Help me to surrender my anxiety and fear and acknowledge Your presence. For You are a merciful God, and Your timing is perfect; You have divinely designed this season. 10 Grant me the patience to endure, and the wisdom to accept Your gift of growth. 11 Expand my faith Lord, so I will not lose sight of You. 12 Let me not be deceived by my emotions, for they do not determine the truth. 13 For you will never separate youself from your servant. 14 Your love is everlasting; Your peace is perfect; Your wisdom is truth. 15 Stay close to me Lord; Fill me with Your Word; Help me to believe and obey. 16 You are worthy of praise.
 
 
Angie

A prayer for a crisis of faith

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English: David's Joy Over Forgiveness; as in P...

Have you ever been at the depths of despair and everyone offers pacifying statements like It will be okay or Don’t worry? Well, I usually feel better at that moment, but then later when I’m alone and start thinking again about what’s upsetting me, the peace I felt earlier dissipates.

Today, I decided to write a Bible-based prayer and meditate on it every time I felt an inkling of sadness. So when my mind drifted back to my problems, I whipped it out of my pocket and read it through once. So far today I’ve probably read it about 7 times. However, today was THE BEST I have felt for an entire month.

The epiphany I received today was that the hurt I was feeling for the past few weeks was based on doubt! I doubted that God could possibly turn so much pain into a positive. I let Satan plant a seed of depression in my heart instead of letting God plant joy and peace. I am so happy that I realized this before I caused irreversible damage to my relationships or became dysfunctional. So without further ado, here is my prayer:

Dear Lord

May your unfailing love be my comfort (Psalm 119:76)

Help me to hide your word in my heart so that I will not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11)

Help me to abandon this path of depression, vengeance and fear, and turn my steps to your statutes..(Psalm 119: 58-60)

For you have asked me simply to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer, and I have failed on all three accounts. (Romans 12:12)

Help me to meditate on your word and not on the things of the world. (Psalm 119:78)

Help me not to be anxious, and to remain prayerful and thankful as I wait on you. (Philippians 4:6)

Lord, help me not to try to reason or overthink this situation and to just trust you. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Help me to remember to stay strong, courageous and fearless because you will never forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Help me not to worry about tomorrow. (Matthew 6:34)

Help me to continue to love as you intended, with patience, without jealousy, without anger, and with trust. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Help me to never stop thanking you for your love that endures forever. (Psalm 107:1, 136:26)

Help me to love you back by obeying your words and believing your words. (John 14:21-24)

Help me to remember that I can never be separated from your steadfast love. (Romans 8:37-39)

And that all your plans are good and beneficial. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I pray all these things in Jesus’ name

Amen

Waiting on God

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shadows and reflections

There always comes a time in life where you have to wait on God. Whether it’s waiting for a result, waiting for a directive or waiting through a season. Waiting on God is not easy. It’s hard to let go of the reins, it’s hard to wait for a long time for a sign and it’s hard to resist the temptation to just do it your own way. Here are a few of the thoughts I had about waiting on God.

  1. Joy, patience and prayer I’ve been waiting (very reluctantly I might add) through a challenging season. I was talking to my mum yesterday and she said to me “If you say you are trusting God, then you are flying in his face when you walk around moping. So look on the bright side. Even though the message may hurt sometimes, God is in it and he is allowing it for a reason”. And it’s true. I am not really trusting God if I continue to worry and cry and be miserable just because God wants to teach me something through a painful situation.

    Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12It’s no coincidence that while I was at church, praying or reading my Bible, I always felt better. I was only using one of the three elements of the above verse. Despite remaining prayerful, I was letting my self be unjoyful and impatient with God. I thank God that my faithless attitude was not making my prayers ineffective, but I’m sure if I continue with this negative mindset my prayers would have become faithless and go unanswered.

  2. Relinquish control In the early days, when Abram was over 75 years old (Gen 12:4), God promised him he would have an heir (Gen 15:4). Years had passed and Abram’s wife Sarai remained barren so she suggested that he sleep with her maidservant Hagar. I believe that Sarai did not doubt God’s promise to Abram, but she didn’t believe she was the one to fulfil it and therefore tried to fulfil God’s plans her own way. Confusion is what came out of this situation: Hagar despised Sarai (v.4), Sarai mistreated Hagar (v.6), Hagar and her son Ishmael were sent away (Gen 21: 8-11) and the whole matter distressed Abra(ha)m. All this could have been avoided if they had just let God work His plan. God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor 14:33) and would therefore be clear in what part he requires you to play if any.
  3. God’s time is not your time Still on the above example, Abraham and Sarah were over 100 and 90 years old when the true heir Isaac was born (Gen 17:1, Gen 17:17, Gen 21). This is after almost two decades since that promise was made! God may promise you something now and he is faithful, but he will only fulfill the promise when He knows you are ready for it. God also reminds us not to be anxious while we wait, and again to pray and give thanks during our season.

    Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

So these were just a few of the things I want to keep in mind this week and I hope these reminders have helped you out as well. No matter what you are going through trust God, and don’t just have faith, be faithful!

God bless,

Angie

Related articles
Let go and let God – a survivor who found a blessing in cancer
Five Things I Have Learned Waiting on God (reflectionsofgracehome.wordpress.com)
When God Says, “Wait” (theinnersoulofme.wordpress.com)
How to Cope When the Will of God is Hard (ptl2010.com)

Learning to be lonely

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Lonely tree

I’m at that age where practically everyone seems to be in a relationship, getting married or having babies. It’s hard not to lose sight of the season I’m in. I’m in grad school, I’m female, and I have postponed my life in the quest for a Ph.D. at the end of the day.  From the outside it’s easy to say “Make the sacrifices now, later you can do everything you want” or “Focus on your work, relationships can come after”.

But honestly after 4 years in a pseudo relationship (read: Waiting on someone, in my case someone in a whole different country) I am fed up. Honestly, waiting only works if in the mean time both parties make an effort to keep in contact, to share joys and sorrows and laughs and tears; in my case that scenario was far from the truth. Now that I’m done waiting, I’ve realized there was someone right in front of me that I fell in love with. Unfortunately, that realization came too late, for they have someone else.

Now I’m in a position where I am truly single, something that I have not been for over a decade really. And I am severely out of practice because I’ve realized I don’t know how to keep my own company. I tried to embrace my new-found single-dom by pursuing artsy-fartsy projects. It’s a temporary distraction. And that’s where I am now. I know it’s sad, but I’d appreciate suggestions on how to enjoy my own company.

On another note, I can say I’ve learnt some things from this situation:

  1. Never make your love interest your best friend/confidante. I’m not saying don’t share things with them, but if you break up or are not speaking to each other, then who do you talk to when you need someone?
  2. If you’re unsure of a choice you need to make, flip a coin. While it’s in the air you’ll probably realize where you want it to land.
  3. Ambition is good, but if it costs everything including relationships with people, it will leave you successful but lonely.
  4. Working long hours can easily cut you off from family and friends; make an effort to keep in touch.
  5. If you are heartbroken to the point where you cannot function at work/school, seek professional help ASAP. It is the beginnings of deteriorating mental health (and nothing to be ashamed about).

I know this isn’t my typical type of post. I just had to get things off my chest…

Angie

Update: Check this out… someone who indeed managed to be alone!

Jars of clay

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English: pots made of clay.

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you would have noticed that I’ve been writing a lot this past few weeks. The truth is I’ve been going through a very difficult situation with a close friend of mine. It has been a really low point in my life and only by God’s grace can I wake up everyday and still function.

So when I can’t sleep, or am tired of crying, I research and I write. Based on some of the responses I’ve got, people have been blessed by what I have to say, and I thank God for that despite the pain I myself am going through.

Today at church, the speaker discussed 2 Corinthians ch. 4. What particularly touched me was verse 7.

 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Cor 4:7.

The treasure Paul was referring to was God’s word. What he was saying was that his ministry wasn’t about him but was about God. Paul considered himself just a jar of clay, a servant, carrying the gospel to the world. The symbolism was fantastic. Think of a clay jar: functional yet fragile, possibly cracked, not necessarily a work of art.

I was so attracted to this message from God. These past few weeks I have felt so broken. If I was not working, exercising or praying, I was crying …. or writing. But like a clay jar, through my cracks, the light of God was able to shine to bless others. It’s amazing that God can still use me despite my flaws and despite my constant struggle with keeping faith that my situation will work out in time. I am not a special person, I am a regular person just like you. I have done things I am ashamed of but God’s forgiveness is real and He can use me and you even at the lowest points in our lives…

Keep your head up,

Angie

Losing weight is expensive

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Money

Good food is expensive

Gym memberships are expensive

New sneakers are expensive

Multivitamins are expensive

New clothes are expensive

But that feeling when

your jeans fit a little better

your shirts fit a little looser

your head is held a little higher….

is priceless!

So keep going!

~Angie~

Waiting to die

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a hospital room (Denmark, 2005)

He’s so happy. Why is he so happy. He’s about to die.

This was the third time this week that I came to see him. He asked me to bring his assignments from class. It wouldn’t matter anyway. He would be due before they were. But he insisted, so I obliged. You would do anything for a dying man.

“What’s up buddy?” I drop the handouts on his hospital bed.
“Hey man, I had the best day! Remember that hot nurse, Mindy? She fluffed my pillows.” He smiled mischievously and continued. “And we got strawberry jello today. It’s about time. It’s been two weeks of lime… Ha ha I rhymed!”

How could he keep his stupid sense of humor at a time like this. Can’t he see he’s dying?

“How was chem today? That’s one thing I don’t miss… the droning about orbitals and nodes”. We had stopped talking about orbitals more than a month ago, but I let him go on. “Without the labs, I think I’m gonna fail that course. Chem is so pointless…”

I couldn’t take it anymore. Weeks of pent up emotions flew out of me.

“Dammit man! This is pointless! You’re gonna die!”

I felt a tightness in my throat and a stinging in my eyes. He was unmoved, and calm. It made me even more irritated. Slow seconds passed until he responded.

“Yes. I am gonna die…. But then I’m gonna live.” He paused. “I wasn’t kidding bout that Jesus stuff. He’s the way man. He’s my Peace. He’s my Saviour. This isn’t the end… ”

His voice got quiet. I could see a flicker of pain before he smiled.

“I don’t want to be sick, but I am. I don’t know why God gave me this lot, but He did. He also gave me a family that loves me, a roof over my head, friends I would die for… if I wasn’t going to die.” He smiled a bit then.
“If my sickness is a way for you to accept Christ, I’ll take it… ’cause I love you man… no homo.”

I genuinely laughed, then sighed.

“So this Jesus guy is for real, huh?”

“That’s what I’m saying man… Let me tell you a story…”

Hey guys, so this is my second try at fiction. I hope you liked it! If you missed my first story “The Invitation”, you can find it here. Other posts that may interest you are Who is God?, Dealing with death and YOLO – You only live once.

God bless,

Angie

… “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me. ~ John 14:6

Why God, why?

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Last week one of my co-workers asked me how my parents were taking the death of my sibling. I told her that they are coping well and their faith in God has really helped deal with the tragedy. She then said to me “But you have to ask, why would God take someone so young?”. My response was a simple smile and a pointed “I do not question God”. She looked at me as if I was foolish and moved along. It probably would sound like foolishness to many people, this “blind faith” that even the death of a loved one is part of God’s master plan. In fact, a defense for unbelief in God is often “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

A Silhouette of Sadness

Humility

When everything is going perfectly in your life, it is tempting to forget those blessings are only by God’s grace. Often we have the best intentions: we work hard and are rewarded with success and we believe it is by our own enterprising that this success is manifest. We forget that the ability to work hard in the first place is facilitated by God. We become blinded by pride in our own efforts.

God’s chosen people  were allowed to wander in the desert for 40 years because God needed them to be humble when they received their blessing. He did not do this out of spite:

17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. Deut 8:17-18

The Apostle Paul also spoke of the thorn given to him to keep him humble. Paul was a well-educated man, his ministry was very successful, and he had many supporters:

Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Cor 12:6-9

Tests and rewards

Sometimes God chooses to test our faith. Take the story of Job. Job was “blameless and upright” (Job 1:1). He was also blessed with many possessions and a large family. Job had nothing to be upset at God for and every reason to praise him. God allowed Satan to test Job, to see if he was just a fair-weather believer.

10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” Job 1:10

After losing his 10 children and all his livestock and receiving sores all over his body, Job says to his wife. “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10). This attitude is one we must strive to keep in the bad times. Job kept his faith through his suffering and God rewarded him:

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part… Job 42:12

We must take the good with the bad, and know that God will not forsake us in the end.

There are no good people

Many references in God’s word confirm that there is no such thing as “good” people.

… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… Romans 3:23

We must never think of ourselves as “good” and therefore undeserving of hardships or trials. In fact, since we are not good we should rightly ask God why he allows good things to happen to bad people like us!

Self-inflicted

Now that we’ve established that there are no “good” people, it’s simpler to see that sometimes bad things are a judgement for sin. Take the story of Ananias and Sapphira. They knowlingly tried to steal from God and lied about it when questioned. As a result, they were struck down dead for their sin.

Often our bad decisions (i.e. disobedience to God) gets us in places of suffering. We need to be honest with ourselves sometimes about why we are going through some rough times. Is it God’s trial or our consequences?

Display God’s power

It’s not always the case that one suffers because of some sin. For example, take the occasion of the man blind from birth that Jesus healed:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3

This was truly a miracle, for the man never saw anything in his life, so it was not a simple reversal of some sickness but an entire new creation of sight in the man. God could be using your hardship as a testimony of his love.

In conclusion, it is unthinkable that God could do wrong; And we could never know all of God’s ways and intentions unless he specifically reveals them to us. It’s therefore left for us to trust God, and have unwavering faith in times of depravity and suffering.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6.

Finally, Christians must remember that faith in Jesus Christ may not guarantee a “good life” and definitely does not guarantee a life with no suffering. However, we are certain in the hope of a perfect eternity.

God bless,

Angie

More on this: Questioning God

A place to worship

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A Different Church Building

When I was 12 my granny died. Before that I attended her church as well as my parents’ church. After that I only attended my parents’ church… and very reluctantly. I was forced to go every Sunday. Some of the reasons I didn’t like it were:

  1. No one came to Church with a Bible.
  2. The priest was uninspiring and babbled frequently.
  3. My Sunday School teacher encouraged me to tell my parents to let me “play mas”. (Playing mas meant participating in the annual two-day Carnival street parade, typically characterized by skimpy costumes, loud sensual music, and for adults, copious amounts of alcohol consumption.)

    Carnival Masqueraders in Trinidad and Tobago

     

  4. The choir was like out of a horror movie.

Truly, I could have lived with point 4 (LOL). But the other three were warning signs that I wasn’t receiving Christian food for my Spirit. I knew that there was no such thing as a perfect church, but I felt that we could do better. But circumstances meant that I stayed at that church up until I left home. Unfortunately when I did leave home, I went to the other extreme. I didn’t attend any church. I would occasionally watch sermons on the tv or the internet to “get by”. And truthfully I learned a lot in those few years of pseudo-attendance. This year, however, it just wasn’t enough. The Bible says For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matt 18:20). I yearned for some fellowship with real people and not behind a screen in my pyjamas.

So what better time than the start of a new school year. This September, I picked myself up and walked into a chapel. (Honestly, I totally did a Google search on these people first and prayed about whether this was the right decision! I had to make sure it wasn’t some weird cult!) Two months later and I’m still attending. What I liked about the place was:

  1. They were genuinely happy to have a visitor, probably because…
  2. … there were only about 15 people. It was cosy and intimate.
  3. Though I didn’t wear the (somewhat mandatory) head covering, they never gave me the disapproving eye.
  4. The speaker for the morning was educated (a retired professor) who obviously had his sermon thought out before opening his mouth. And there is a different speaker every week.
  5. Everyone had their Bibles!

So needless to say I felt welcomed, the people are super sweet and behave in a Christian-like manner (and are willing to acknowledge when they are not), and I can definitely say I feel my Spirit being fed every time I attend.

Anyway, I hope my story inspired you to find a place to worship if you are unsatisfied with yours, or haven’t found a place yet. Do not be afraid to walk in off the street – the worst that could happen is that you don’t like it; the best that could happen is that you find a new home!

God bless,

Angie

Surviving hurt in relationships

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A friend of mine recently found out her fiancé had an affair and decided to call off the wedding. One thing I admired was how strong and faithful she remained. I remember, when one of my exes cheated on me, how much I blamed myself. Ugly thoughts inundated my mind. She’s so slim and beautiful and fun. You’re so blah – boring, unattractive and fat. No wonder he wanted to be with her… Honestly, there were times I wanted to go further than emotional self-hurt. I wanted to physically hurt myself. It was a low point in my life and out of shame, I did not talk to anyone for a long time. Eventually, after many nights of secret tears, I turned to the Word. I wanted the reassurance that no (hu)man should make me feel this way when my perfect God has my back.

Human: “God please protect me”
*Stone hits him*
Human: “Why God, why?”
*Turns around to see Jesus protecting him from a storm of stones*
Jesus: “I’m sorry, did I miss one? Are you alright?”

You are not worthless

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Cor 16:19-20

I had to remind myself that thought I didn’t deserve it, God allowed the death of His Son so that I could have eternal life. No one is worthless to God because this gift is for everyone who will receive it.

God cares for you, the individual you

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. Matt 10:29

There are countless sparrows on the Earth yet God has ensured us that every single one of them is cared for. We are more than sparrows. Not one of us will fall without God knowing. He knows your hurt. He knows your entire history. Sometimes it’s tempting to think God isn”t compassionate about our human problems:

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

You may not know the answer, but God does.

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ Isaiah 46:10

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

We are not  privy to the knowledge of our future or how the situation will turn out. We don’t know what worse hurt God is saving us when we do hurt. But God assures us that he already knows and he has promised us that his plans are not for us to eternally suffer. This does not mean Christians are promised lives with no suffering. Even the Apostle Paul suffered so that he will not become self-sufficient and forget that God is the source of his strength and wisdom.

… in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 2 Cor 12:7

Sometimes these trials are necessary for the growth of our character. How do we learn if we are never tested. How do we remind ourselves of God’s Word if we are never asked to use it.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Do not be foolish

A deeper meaning to the following verse was revealed to me:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”… Psalm 53:1

I always thought this was directed at atheists/agnostics. But this message is for Christians too. When you disobey God, doubt God, curse God, you are essentially proclaiming in your heart that there is no God. Though in your mind you know God exists, you do not proclaim this in your actions when you say or do things that are outside God’s message about us.

Anyway, these are just a sampling of the messages from God helping us to realize that these times will pass, we will heal, we must keep the faith when the going gets rough!

God bless,

Angie

P.S. I’ve touched on different aspects of this topic in God’s trial or my trial? and Confessions Part II

YOLO – You only live once

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When I was 12, I remember learning the song “Seize the day” from the broadway Newsies. I suppose it was our teacher’s way of subtly indoctrinating us on carpe diem since we were about to enter high school the following year. It was her way of saying to go out into the world and live life to the fullest.

This brings me to YOLO. More than a decade later, rapper Drake popularizes the YOLO line in his single The mottoYou only live once – sounds pretty harmless. Isn’t it the same thing as “carpe diem” and “seize the day”? Not the way it has been interpreted by the vast majority. Carpe diem is often associated with noble intentions while YOLO is often the closing punctuation for the description of some thoughtless, reckless, irresponsible or stupid behaviour. For example:

Just volunteered at the animal shelter and took one of the wards home  – carpe diem!

v.s.

Just slapped my neighbours pit bull in the face – YOLO!

jesse at 482

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Well, what does the Bible say about YOLO?

The Bible speaks about living with love, humility, selflessnesses and obedience to God. Further, the connotations of YOLO will never give us peace, but depending on what you’re YOLOing about, may give you a life of regrets.

… And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4.

Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you,
so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.
Deuteronomy 5:33.

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.
And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.
So don’t be troubled or afraid.
John 14:27.

MC Jin released a response to Drake’s motto, YOGO = You obey God only. He raps:

You only live once?
Had to ignore the trend.
I died to the world
But now i’m born again

In other words, if you only live on Earth once, live with obedience to God.

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God bless,

Angie

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Check out:

Community Bible Church’s article YOLO

MC Jin’s full track YOGO MC Jin – YOGO (You obey God only)