All Men Amen

So Lent has ended, Easter is practically here and once again I find myself a ball of emotion. You’ll probably wonder why.

Believe it or not every year I forget or denigrate the sacrifice made for us by Jesus during his Passion, until he was nailed to that cross. That cross which is the ultimate symbol of love for man. His flesh was torn away, his blood shed, all for people who didn’t even care at the time. Every year as the most sacred time for all Christians arrives, my heart breaks.

This Lent was very difficult for me this year, God knows why. To you I will say my sacrifice fluctuated in a depressing way now that I can reflect on it. Last night, Holy Thursday, I couldn’t help but feel so weak and so humbled by everything the Lord does and has done and will do. To think, in that Garden of Gethsemane (it all started in a garden and the end began in a garden) for the first and only time Jesus and God almost didn’t agree on something. From the beginning of time the Trinity were one and they made everything and they made everything good. This one time, fully aware of what was about to come, Jesus didn’t want to (“Father, if thou are willing, remove this cup from me” Luke 22:42) and yet he was willing to do it for us, because to him we are worth it (“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through him” John 3:16-17).

I ate my Easter eggs yesterday because for the rest of the weekend I don’t want to think about a fluffy bunny, or hiding eggs or chocolate or hot cross buns. This weekend I want my eyes focused on the Lord. I want to think about that cross and weep and glorify him because I am not worthy, we are not worthy, and he loves us anyway.

Dear Father

Open the eyes of our hearts Lord. May we look at your cross and feel your love. May our souls bless you. May our souls forever thirst for you. All that is within us cries Holy are You God! Holy are you Lord of Hosts! Holy is the King of Kings! You are the beginning of all things. We are not worthy of your love and sacrifice through our own humanity, but through your glory and mercy which you allow us to experience. Forgive us for the times when we forget our value to you and your value to us. Wrap us in your arms and clothe us in your light. You are all we could ever need. We bless you and we glorify you because you are the only one who deserves our love and our glory. We strive to be the children you want us to be. For the times we stumble, please pick us up. For the times we are lost, take our hand and show us the way. Guard us from evil and may all temptation flee from us. You are all we could ever need Lord. You are our beginning and end, for ever and ever.

Everybody say

AMEN

The Ten

We’re no strangers to the Ten Commandments.They are the basis of the laws given to men by God, edited by men (and taken overboard by men) which Jesus came to rectify. He gave us an even better commandment which pretty much encompasses the original unedited Ten given to us by God.

The other day I was looking at the ten commandments and I feel I had a bit of a lightbulb moment. Each of these commandments is under attack in this modern world we live in, and we are slowly becoming lulled to their significance (think Samson and Delilah; the evil one is making us numb to wrong and tiring us out until we slowly brush the truth under the carpet and blame it on someone else). Below I’ve tried to list what I observed about the world and a select few of the commandments:

Okay. Idolatry. Not so much in the tradition statue sense with a pigeon god or something but I define idolatry as putting something before God. It can be sleep (cough  cough, not pointing any fingers), it can be a tv show, it can be your job, or your family or your significant other. Each of these may deserve a measure of attention but remember God comes first and he should be at the centre of everything you do, not Walter White or your Titleist clubs.

It’s become so common for someone to use our Lord God’s name in vain. Back home in my country the cable television network actually censors the disrespectful use of the words/names God, Jesus, Jesus Christ and simply Christ. When my aunt who lived in England moved back home she exclaimed how sensitive people were for them to censor every random us of God, etc. It worried me that normal television wouldn’t honour God’s name and even now when I hear someone use his name in vain I wince internally. It just doesn’t feel right.

I don’t even understand how the world has become so lax when it comes to death and killing. My country isn’t involved in any wars at the moment but a lot of the major countries are and so many people salute soldiers who go out to war. Now I have so much respect for anyone willing to lay down their life for someone else, or just protecting their fellow man. Allow me to use the example of Osama Bin Laden. I was not a fan and I never will be, but I was so shocked when the world blew up in rapturous applause at his death. Celebrations emanated throughout the nations and it made me think “ok so there’s one less bad guy in the world (yay!) but since when is it ok to celebrate killing?” Whether its that or it’s the death sentence, I can’t support killing.

You pop in a dvd and while you’re making popcorn or chatting with a friend, in the background you may not hear the reminder not to pirate media. I’m guilty. I have downloaded far too many songs because I didn’t have the money to pay for them. I know prominent church officials who will talk about a movie they downloaded or a CD they copied. We all know it’s wrong but once we start we forget that we’re actually stealing. We’re thieves. We’re as bad as the thieves on the crosses beside Jesus. We might even be like the unrepentant one if we don’t own up to what we do. But it’s so much easier to just copy something, or torrent it or…no, stop making excuses. I’m a thief and I’m embarrassed each time my mother asks me where I get all my music because I know the answer isn’t one she’d be pleased to hear.

These are a few of the ones I feel strongly about, and I’m happy if there’s anything I’ve said that’s made you think a bit. I’m not proud of myself or a lot of the things I do but I try to pray about it as often as possible. The world we live in is a comfortable place but if we become too numb to all the things going wrong, we’re putting ourselves in a dangerous situation.

Dear Father,

we thank you for this day. We thank you for your unconditional love for us. We pray for forgiveness Lord, for the times when we choose the temporary beauties of this world over the everlasting glories of your heavenly kingdom. For the times when we grow numb to our faults, may you remove the scales from our eyes and awaken our hearts, so that we remember your will Lord. As you have spoken we are in this world but we are not of this world. We ask you to please remind us of the strength we have through your Holy Spirit, for we choose you Lord, each and every day. You are our fulfillment and we give you praise. We love you.

In your blessed name we pray.

Amen

The Sacrifice!

One of my favourite seasons is coming up; Lent.

It is a time of sacrifice and solemnity and sharing in the fasting done by the Lord, Jesus Christ, in the desert for 40 days. I feel like at this time every year I am closer to God, if you know what I mean. I know he’s a part of me and he lives within me but there are times when I feel like he’s literally standing right behind me or walking beside me and constantly keeping me company and laying a hand on me and my heart.

From a young age I’ve been eager to learn more and grow in my faith and Lent is one thing that I’ve always enjoyed. Even the struggles were always a reason to smile when I knew I could exceed my own expectations of myself and make my Heavenly Father proud all at once. 

It hasn’t always been easy. I remember last year I gave up meat and I have to say that was one of the most difficult sacrifices I’ve had to make. It was such an intense challenge for me but I do feel that praying about it and remembering that Jesus did way more before me, for me, helped strengthen my resolve and even now I still love meat but I can go without it.

That’s one thing I really appreciate about Lent and any little sacrifice we make for the Lord. It helps to ground us and remind us of what’s really important. Is my love of meat my idol? The struggle says yes but combating that and succeeding tells me my love for God is way more and the strength he has given me demolishes anything that threatens my spiritual growth.

So this year Lent has crept up on me again and I have to say finding something to do is turning out to be a challenge with painful results.

I really enjoy my sleep so for this year I will be waking up every day at 0615 to pray the rosary and spend time with God. I will also be giving up secular music for only Christian Music where I am in control. I might even throw in singing a hymn every day along the way. Both of these are probably going to have me in tears by Day 3 but hey, He’s worth it.

I’m sharing this as I ask you all to pray for me, I will probably need all the prayer I can get in the beginning. My prayers are with all those partaking in Lent and all those who don’t observe Lent but make their own sacrifices for the Lord. Never forget the strength he has given you, with it you are invincible.

Dear Father

we thank you for this day and the gift of life. We thanking for sending Jesus to die for us. We thank you for the love you send us and have shown to us, love which we will never be able to comprehend but love which we cannot live without. Forgive us for the times when we forget our worth and waste the gifts you give to us. Help us to polish our armour for we are soldiers for you, ambassadors for your kingdom, we are priests speaking your truth and saints living for you. Show us how to begin and hold us by the hand as we go on. 

In your holy name we pray

Amen

Only You

(if possible, please listen to this as you read. Thank You)

“Have you come to a decision about your church situation?”

I was asked this question by a dear new friend of mine. As most of you will know I’ve been struggling with people criticising Christians and, narrowing that down, Catholics.

I went silent on my blog while I was back home with my family. It was fulfilling, enriching and reminded me of everything I love about the church I was born into. I have tried the others and I’ve enjoyed myself dearly. Everywhere I went I saw and met people who had dedicated their lives to Jesus. Some made me feel so at home, as though I were someone they’d all grown up with. Others never really made me feel like I’d ever fit in and when I bump into them now they act as though they’ve never met me. Maybe they feel like I abandoned them, or I’m a traitor or just another one who will be thrown in the fires of hell.

I’m back in a place where I’m being judged and occasionally I feel attacked. Even though I’m not brave enough to go door knocking or evangelising in the streets I’ve grown enough to even seriously mention Jesus in a group of people whose spiritual affiliation is completely unknown to me. I felt terrified that I’d be ridiculed to put my relation to Jesus out there and the great thing is nothing happened to me. I didn’t feel attacked and I relaxed a bit more on my heart and the tiny cross inside I grip to so tightly.

I know that as a Christian part of who I am is meant to be someone who goes out and calls people to God and I’d love to do that but, with Jesus as the roots to my tree, I need to grow and branch out a bit more. I don’t want to hide my faith under a blanket or only whisper my prayers in public. I want to be loud and proud about what I believe in. Now, this has nothing to do with my church back home. Everyone back home is so focused and ready to praise God at the slightest suggestion, and they do it in a way you can really feel.

The thing I love is how all the people I’ve encountered over the past year, with flitting through group after group, just adore God and everything about him.

So the next time my friend asks me that question I’m going to give her this answer;

My time at home reminded me of everything I love about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as well as my family, friends and myself, and yes, especially everything I love about the Catholic church, and all the Christians in it and those in other churches too. It will be a sad day when I put what church someone belongs to before Jesus and my relationship with him. He will always come first and I’ll leave judgements like that to Him. When I was growing up, up until I left for university and even when I go home, my friends and I were able to praise and worship and pray together. We are Catholic and Methodist and Pentecostal and Anglican and who knows what else. We all love God and we love Jesus and we put him first. As long as that’s the foundation to their faith, then we’re all in this together.

Dear Father,

Thank you for loving us. Thank you for love and your light and for family and friends. Please be our guide in all our struggles and may we remember to put you ahead of everything because only you can save us. Only you can heal us. Only you can fix us. You and only you.

Amen

By Our Love…?

“It’s no longer a question of ‘if but a question of when”

This was spoken by a popular YouTube channel which deals with news and current events. The speaker was describing how the world has changed its attitude towards homosexuality and how, inevitably, marriage equality will be allowed in all 50 of the US states.

Am I intolerant and hateful if I agree with equal rights but not equal marriage?

I’m not one who supports the Westboro Baptist Church or murderous anti-gay cries but I am a Chrisitian and I know where I stand on this all important issue.

I have a few disadvantages in the way I was born; I’m a woman, I’m black, I’m from Africa and I’m stubborn, amongst other things. While someone on the outside looking in may wonder how any of that matters in this ‘free world’ of ours, unfortunately it does. I am at a disadvantage in certain ways. While I understand how my role and personality fits into my identity culturally, in the rest of the world I am less likely to find a job as easily as others may.

Even my personality can be abrasive at times, unless you give me a chance and get to know me. It is because of the steps I’ve taken to reach full satisfaction in who I am that I feel everyone deserves love. Everyone regardless of who they are or where they come from deserves love. Where then do homosexuals and homosexuality and especially gay marriage fit in?

I was raised in a country where homosexuality is illegal so when I came out into the Western world and I found myself surrounded, I genuinely felt like I was under attack. Since then I have calmed and I’ve resumed my ‘Love the World’ mentality.

We see marriage and consummation of love for the first time in the book of Genesis with Adam and Eve. A man and a woman from whom the world emerged. Many people will say the bible contradicts itself when it comes to so many laws and beliefs. Two things Christians know for certain 1) homosexuality is wrong (love the sinner hate the sin) and 2) we will be known by our love for everyone. Where then does our love for our homosexual family go?

There is a war waging in this world, and a war in my own heart because I want to love everyone and give them human rights but marriage is a spiritual right, a heavenly blessing from which love culminates and life emerges. No every marriage doesn’t end in children or even a stable family but that’s how it’s meant to be.

A man and a woman are like a lock and a key; differently made but together we fit to open a door to heaven. It can’t work with two locks or two keys.

This won’t be the last time I address this topic, it’s a difficult one which haunts and challenges me daily, but I guess for now I concentrate on love.

Love one another as our Lord Jesus Christ has loved us. However, even when Jesus was being struck and torn, and betrayed and beaten and bled, He never lost his course. He never forgot what he came for. He never lost who he was.

In this world it’s so easy to give up and go with the flow of the world. In my dorm room of 10 people there’s possibly only 3 of us who are still virgins. I don’t know about the other 2 but for me it’s because I am keeping my body for my husband or for the Lord if I never wed. It’s hard sometimes and I want to give it all away and get drunk and be wild but that’s not who I am. That’s not how I was made or who I was made for. We each have a cross to bear so don’t be weary and place it down,  carry it with pride and when it stings and cuts at your sides, or when the masses spit at you and mock you, don’t forget, you’re not alone.

We all fight this battle together,and it will be a battle where we pray for our oppressors and those who persecute us, and  we will fight for the glory of God and love will be our sword.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God. 

John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 17:14-15
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 

My Interview with Audrey Assad on Female Porn Addiction

Originally posted on matt fradd:

AudreyAssad-6659

Audrey contributed her story to my new book, Delivered, of having once been hooked on porn as a young woman and then, later, by God’s grace, finding hope and healing.

We recently shot some emails back and forth on the topic of female porn addiction.

Oh, and for those of you who have not yet heard of Audrey Assad . . . Buckle up!

View original 551 more words

Who do you choose?

I think, when it comes to sin, there’s that one that we all struggle with. It’s different for all and each of us but everyone struggles with something; whether it be lying, stealing, lust, envy, sexual immorality, whatever.

I know that I struggle a lot. I pray and I try and I’ve been given signs that God is answering my prayer for distraction and strength, but more often than I’d like I choose my own sinful nature over God’s glory and grace. It hurts knowing that I’ve hurt not only my Father and my friend but the one who knows me and loves me more than I will ever know. I return his love by turning my back for something that will only last in the physical world, leaving me feeling disgusting and guilty afterwards. I’m fairly good at showing love to my neighbour but when it comes to that one sin (and I pray that I’m not the only one) I don’t always love the Lord Our God.

Yesterday I fell and I was feeling that disgust and disappointment in myself and just before I fell asleep I was apologizing profusely to Jesus. I could tell that I was being torn, my great desire to be the child of God I know I am or to say a ‘sorry’ go to sleep and maybe try again later.

I had a dream. In that dream I was at a university with a friend. A lecturer/tutor was handing out assignments and the assignment was to either write a letter to Jesus or to the devil. I chose Jesus (praise God!) and so did my friend. In my letter I apologized for what I did and I hoped that He could forgive me and help me be clean and come closer to Him. As my friend and I walked we saw that others had chosen differently and even those who had chosen Jesus weren’t being kind to Him. Some of them took the opportunity to mock Him and someone asked me why I’d chosen Jesus and I think I answered because He is the one I want (It should’ve been the one I need). I was then asked what I would’ve said if I’d chosen to write the letter to the devil and without much thought I spoke out of character and I said “F-you”. I never swear but if I was going to swear at someone it would be the one who causes such filth in the world.

I woke up later than usual and I’m still contemplating the meaning behind this dream but I’m glad that I chose Jesus. It got me thinking about the people who chose Jesus but were practically spitting in His face. Choosing the light or the dark is an easy move to make but what do we do once we’ve made the decision? Do we try to conform darkness within the light or do we pick dark because it’s easier with less pressure? I know I’m not perfect and I stumble and fall all the time but I think this has made me want to preserve the light a lot more. The dark will always be there but I’ll have to do like Paul says and run in the other direction when it confronts me.

So which will you choose?

I pray that you don’t simply pick an answer but you find your answer.