All posts by ThePerfectPiece

Just two twenty-somethings writing about faith and life. Check out our blog 'The Perfect Piece' and join our journey!

The One Thing I Have In Common With Janine Butcher

images

 

Alas, it hit me: I share a connection with one of Britain’s infamous murderers. Evil on the outside, tiny smidgen of niceness within, we’ve all lost count of just how many husbands Janine Butcher has pushed over the edge (quite literally).

I shall address the elephant in the room.

What exactly do I have in common with a serial killer?

For those of you who don’t watch Eastenders(the only  British soap that’s better than Coronation Street,) all you need to know is:

1. There’s no point tuning in now (they’re currently dragging out a really boring storyline that involves an old lady and her, not so dead, son)

2. Janine Butcher- fictional character, member of the Eastenders cast, and I, Daniela Caulcrick- resident of the real world and citizen accountable to the real law, have both stood up in court, plead guilty, and gotten away scot free.

Do you believe in miracles?

We live in a New Age. An age where it seems science has an answer to everything and it’s not so much that God’s answers aren’t there, but they’ve become somewhat irrelevant. All the big questions that used to preoccupy the minds of earth folk, as recent as 100 years ago, are now replaced with answers supported by bountiful evidence. Makes you question the need for faith, right?

WRONG

OH SO WRONG.

On the 30th August when I received my summons from Croydon Magistrates court to testify about a crime I had committed (using an oyster card that didn’t belong to me,) and found out that my conviction would result in a criminal record (Transport For London take no prisoners,) I knew that my faith was the only thing that was going to get me through.

 “I tell you the truth, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

Opening that court summons I felt sick. Sick because I couldn’t honestly plead NOT GUILTY, sick because I didn’t want a criminal record, sick because there didn’t seem to be a way to avoid becoming a convict.

After the sickness came decision time.

I decided to believe God for a MIRACLE. I didn’t know how He was going to do it, but I prayed that he would make it as though my run-in with the law had never happened. In September, I took the stand, plead honestly, and waited for the verdict. Anyone who believes miracles don’t exist should have been with me in court when they said they were WITHDRAWING my guilty plea and would be sending me a letter confirming they’d DROPPED the case.

Just like that.

This New Age provides answers, and without dismissing your belief in God, traps you into seeing him as little more than a supernatural energy that helps you to ‘be a better person’. However you phrase it, it comes down to: “you can serve your God as long as you don’t publicly claim to believe in all that magic hocus pocus stuff that can’t be scientifically explained. That would just make you crazy right?

(All together now)

WRONG

Believing in the IDEA of a God is NOT the same as believing in an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving being. I understand the desire to refrain from appearing as a ‘Bible bashing So And So’ but if your faith isn’t attached to any substantive beliefs, it doesn’t really amount to much. Fundamentalist has become a dirty word reserved for those deemed too far gone to be reasoned with, but being a Christian is all about believing the bible, in more than a figurative, choose the nice bits and discard the bits that are hard to stomach, kind of way.

I couldn’t tell you whether the mountain Jesus is referring to in Matthew is real rather than theoretical. What’s important is that we all have mountains in our lives, troubles that don’t seem solvable with human logic. Jesus is pointing out that with just a tiny bit of faith, they can disappear.

I’ll be forever grateful to God for coming through for me. I can only urge you to believe in the attributes of God, if you claim to serve him. Who said miracles have to be a thing of the past? You can’t please God without faith, so start speaking to the mountains in your life, and expect to see them move.

Your rationalisation of everything will get you no-where.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

Love Dani

X

Events in April

Beauty Uncovered 05/04/14 This event has passed

logoThe Inner Attitude invites you to a fashion show with a difference. Every woman is beautiful but sometimes the issues of life can cast a veil over our true beauty. Come and be a witness and discover your true beauty through fashion.

Divine Experience 07/04/14  This event has passed

1779870_491244290981148_13417677_nWoman With a Purpose invites you to their next Divine Experience evening. We know it’s not easy to bare our scars, wounds and hurts, but the reality is, they are already evident in ways that we may or may not realise; through our personality, opinion of oneself, and relationship choices. They seek to give you a safe platform to bare all and allow God to penetrate your heart and soul.

Putting The Fun Back Into Fundraising 07/04/14 This event has passed

Put-the-fun-back-into-fundraising1Help raise precious funds for the terminally ill in South Eastern Europe with great food, drink and dance! Ayse Asim will be providing entertainment on the night with fun Latin Zumba Dances and the opportunity to participate.

 

 

 

Urban Island Kitchen 13/04/14 This event has now passed

1240420_449377685192358_2003447825_nUrban Island Kitchen is a monthly Christian Hangout with very affordable Mauritian and Antiguan food and a live Gospel DJ playing the Latest Urban Gospel music. Go and feel at home at their kitchen (you can even take off your shoes!) Don’t miss out on the opportunity to feed the soul with good food, good music and great company! See you there.

 

Gifted Expressions 19/04/14 This event has now passed

971280_10152360241496118_7888024490352885647_n (1)‘Gifted Expressions’ is specially orchestrated by the Holy Spirit, for the glorification of God above all things. The purpose of this movement is to establish a platform where individuals are able to minister to a diverse crowd using different God-inspired talents that has been placed upon their life. This event will consist of poetry/spoken word, drama, testimonies, worship and a brief word of exhortation by Apostle Elijah Israel Chanak of Qadosh Kingdom Movement to bring spiritual awareness to the body of Christ.

A Woman’s Sacred Calling 26/04/14 This event has passed

EWC 2014 - Promo Flyer (updated)Come and be blessed at the Empowered Woman Conference 2014. What are you doing about the younger generation of females rising up around you? Do you have enough in you to teach them how to live a sacred life?  Are you pouring out the nuggets that are so needed to nurture their growth and teach them how to soar like an eagle?  Are there opportunities of growth in you that should be tapped so that you can be effective for the next generation? The Empowered Woman Conference 2014 theme is a call to women to clean out, put first things first, get into God’s order so that you can grow higher and pour deeper into others who need meat and not milk.

Brain Health Conference 2014 26/04/14 This event has passed

logo

One of its kind, this conference will be addressing three major issues:

  • How to keep your mind healthy and potentially delay the onset of dementia and memory loss
  •  Is the Church equipped to manage mental health?
  •  A Christian approach to managing mental and emotional health

Come and acquire the tools to maintain optimal mental health using a Christian cognitive approach.

The Day I Lost My iPad

photo (3)

Yesterday was a weird day. Fantastic, horrible, amazing.

I was on the train, on my way home from work (which is three hours away) and I was hungry. Not your, ‘oh, I’m slightly peckish’ type of hungry, no I’m talking ‘I feel like there is hole in my stomach which will never be filled no matter what I put in my mouth’ sorta hungry. I hadn’t eaten properly all week (long story) and that was probably the root of my frustration. I was also feeling quite nothing. Have you ever felt ‘nothing’ before? I didn’t feel like nothing (we thank God for working out my confidence levels!) but I just felt as though what I had to offer, my potential and my gifts were not being utilised. This frustration coupled with the hole in my stomach led me to wanting to smash my phone against the train window and scream.

A few months ago I learnt a lesson about gratitude, which I will carry with me forever. In the moments where I feel most frustrated, overwhelmed and powerless, I start to list the things I am most grateful for. I shift my focus from my problems to my blessings. It usually helps. I also decided to quietly sing some songs of worship which caused people to look at me but I figured it was better that they looked at me because I was singing than they looked at me because I smashed my phone against the train window.

The train finally pulled into the station and by this point I was feeling quite perky. I’d switched from my gospel to a bit of Beyonce and I was feeling myself a little. I had already planned to order pizza as soon as I got home and in my head, I was already in my room, chilling, eating and watching ‘Friends’.

I walked over to where I had left my suitcase and it had gone.

What?

Yeah, it had gone.

I started to think about what I had left in it. My iPad. My beautiful iPad, April, which held the contents of every blogpost I’d ever written, moments I had shared with Jesus, scriptures I loved and lessons that I was learning. My baby was gone. I could buy another iPad but I knew I would never get those words back.

I ran down the train aisle and pushed past everyone to see if I had left my suitcase on the other side of the train. It wasn’t there.

Fam. I was panicked. My heart was beating. A woman asked me what was wrong. I responded that my suitcase had been stolen and I didn’t know what I was going to do. It had my iPad in it. She seemed concerned and she began to ask me questions. See me, I’m not into strangers at ALL. I watch too many TV dramas about serial killers to engage with people I don’t know. Even in my anxious state, I was still aware that she was a stranger and could kill me at any moment.

I noticed that another suitcase was still there, which looked like mine but wasn’t. I realised that the person must have mistakenly taken my suitcase. I grabbed the suitcase. I still didn’t know what I was going to do. Meanwhile, the woman was still there, trying to tell the train assistants what had happened, walking with me and trying to reassure me. The assistants told me to report it to the police and walked on by. They didn’t care. I must forgive them for that.

We reached the information desk and the woman told me to open up the suitcase to see if I could glean any information about the owner of the suitcase. I opened the suitcase; I saw boxers, an asthma pump, a charger but no personal details. I zipped it back up, deflated and resigned to the fact that I would never see April again. As I picked the suitcase off the floor, I realised that there was a piece of paper in one of the pockets at the back, I pulled it out and opened it.

There it was, the name, number and address of the person that had taken my suitcase. The woman and I rejoiced for about 30 seconds. The address was in Ireland and the number was foreign. My rejoicing ceased and I began to worry again. I called the number.

“Hello?”

“HI MY NAME IS JOY AND I THINK YOU HAVE MY SUITCASE!!!”

“Sorry? Oh my gosh! Yes I do. I am so sorry! How did this happen??”

“I THINK YOU TOOK IT MISTAKENLY. WHERE ARE YOU???”

“I’m in St Pancras, I’m just about to go into my hotel”

“OH MY GOSH, I’M STIL IN THE TRAIN STATION. I’M ON THE PLATFORM”

“I’m coming back! Wow, I can’t believe this has happened. You are so smart for noticing.”

“NO YOU ARE THE GENIUS BECAUSE YOU LEFT YOUR DETAILS IN THE BACK POCKET. YOU’RE GREAT. YOU’RE THE BEST OH MY GOSH.”

“Ok, I’m on my way! I am wearing a red jacket and I have no hair.”

“I HAVE SHORT HAIR AND I LOOK WORRIED”

“Ok, see you!”

The woman and I hugged, we were so happy! We thanked God, I thanked her for staying with me and being so kind. I was a stranger but she showed me such love and kindness. As we were praising God, a bald man, in a red jacket walked towards us.

We embraced.

Yes, I hugged TWO strangers yesterday.

He apologised to me.

I thanked him. Thanked him over and over again. We exchanged suitcases and then he left.

I began to thank God. I don’t know why yesterday occurred. I do know that I was struggling to count my blessings and then God gave me something to be grateful for. He taught me how important it was to be kind to strangers and extend love to every single person I encountered. Jackie helped me so much, she was such a calming presence and I know that if she hadn’t told me to look in that suitcase I wouldn’t have done so. She gave me her time and she gave me her love. I am so grateful for her! Oh and to God, my best friend, thank you. April is safe and sound. My beautiful queen is sitting next to me as I type this. GRATEFUL!

Joy xxxxxx

Ruth 1

Before we begin, here is the book that we will be reading next month if you wish to purchase it:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Your-Beautiful-Purpose-Discovering-Enjoying/dp/0764210661/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395827381&sr=8-1&keywords=your+beautiful+purpose

Mine took AGES to come, so make sure you buy ASAP in time for us to start reading together.

ANYWAY! This month, we will be studying……

ruth 1

RUTH

Since we are different people, I knew that Dani and I would pick up on different moments in the text and those moments would impact us in different ways. For this reason, we have complied both our thoughts on Ruth 1 into one LONG post. It would definitely help if you read the chapters we reference as we went along (coz that’s the whole point but whatever lol).

Dani said:

Ruth 1:16-17

But Ruth replied, “Stop urging me to abandon you! For wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you live, I will live. Your people will become my people, and your God will become my God. Wherever you die, I will die – and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I do not keep my promise! Only death will be able to separate me from you!” 

Imagine if we had the same attitude that Ruth had towards Naomi, towards Jesus. With Christ we have assurance of the good things he has in store for us, Jeremiah 29:11 says “For the plans I have for you are good and not evil, plans to bring you to a perfect end”. Imagine being in a place of destituteness and following someone that isn’t even promising that greater things will come. Naomi served the Most High God and Ruth wanted to be close to the person she knew could get her to him. We hear all the time that sometimes we have to take a leap of faith but what Ruth did was more like taking a step off of a multi-storey burning building whilst Orpah chose to wait until the fire brigade came.

In this chapter Ruth teaches us that rationality cannot be relied upon. Being educated to a higher level can result in us believing that we can reason with God in the same way that we reason with others, leading us to debate and sometimes even argue with him. However, you didn’t hear Jesus say ‘but realistically you can’t feed 5000 people with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fishes’. You didn’t hear Abraham say ‘but isn’t a bit contradictory for you to tell me to kill the very son you prophesied that I would have’. God doesn’t care about what makes sense and neither did Ruth. It doesn’t matter what is logical in a situation;it’s about what’s Jesusical. If we want to live a life that’s spirit lead, that means seeking after the things God wants for us, and following the commands he gives us, regardless of how well they fit into the plan we have for our lives.

Finally we see Ruth shows us that ‘it’s not everyday listen to your friends’. It’s not that Orpah was doing something against God’s will for her life, it’s that God was doing something different in Ruth’s life. You can spend your whole life seeking after your friend’s miracle or your friend’s blessing and completely miss out on what God had planned for you.

He chose you, and only you, to complete the specific plan he created for you. Will you reply to his calling with the words Ruth said to Naomi?

Joy said:

Ruth 1:8, 11-13

But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. But Naomi replied, “Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters! Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord himself has raised his fist against me.” 

The first person in the story that I felt was exemplary was Naomi. Are you surprised? I was. I expected Ruth to jump out at me and captivate my heart. But what about Naomi? Naomi, a woman who lost her husband and her two sons – a woman who lost it all. Being a woman in those days wasn’t easy at all, without a man to protect you, you were vulnerable and at risk. Men were the providers and owners of all property; when the men in her life passed, Naomi was left with nothing.

Despite her bitterness she began to reason with herself. As she travelled back to her place of birth, she decided that her daughter-in-laws should not have to suffer anymore than they already had. Despite her bereaved state and desolation, she put the needs of others first. Naomi could have chosen to make those young women stay with her and alter their lives to suit her needs; both Ruth and Orpah were fiercely loyal and would have stayed if she had requested. Instead she thought of their wellbeing above her own; they say ‘misery loves company’ but Naomi life shows this isn’t necessarily true for everybody.

How do you act when you are in pain? Do you shut down? Do you shout about the place and set your environment on fire with your words? Do you become selfish, only able to see the situation from your perspective? Would you have told those around you to leave you because you knew in your heart that it would benefit them? I began to ask myself how I act when I’m pain. Do I throw my weight around? YES, I do. Not intentionally, I just make those around me uncomfortable because I don’t speak.

Awkward.

Naomi showed me once again there is a better way to live and behave even when your emotions are in turmoil. Growth. We need to grow. Even if we are hurting, that shouldn’t mean that everyone else around us should have to absorb the weight of our pain. Instead we should seek to lighten the load others are carrying, even if we are carrying a greater pain.

Ruth 1:14

And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. 

When should we let go and when should we hold on?

Neither Orpah or Ruth could have known what their futures held but they were both were presented with the same choice -to stay or to go. I wrestled with this part of the text for many reasons. Orpah had NO idea what she was about to miss out on and even if she had gone with them, there was only one Boaz! She may have stayed a widow for the rest of her life – no one knows what would have happened if she went with Nai (yes I’ve given her a nickname) but God.

Instinctively, I love Orpah. Orpah followed her gut. What she did made perfect sense given the circumstances – she was a woman and she needed a husband to protect and provide for her. She had already suffered a huge loss; the best thing to do was to go home to her family and figure things out from there. 9/10 of us would have done the same. Even after reading this story, I’m sure some of us will take the path that makes sense before we walk the path that inconveniences us. We will miss out on a blessing because we cannot see the potential in an opportunity because it is dressed as a burden.

When we are unsure, we must look to God before we look within ourselves for answers. Isaiah 30:21 says “whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” We need to follow the voice of God before we follow our intuition. You see, the answers that lie within us may cause us to make the wrong choices. Although in that moment the choice could have made perfect sense, our legacy will only reflect a lack of foresight to those that walk after us.

Ruth didn’t know what lay ahead – there’s no way she could have known the blessings that would be heaped on her as a result of her decision to stay with Nai. All she knew was the love that she had for her mother-in-law and that was enough. One decision changed her life forever.

What did I learn from Naomi?

  • Regardless of how I feel, I need to always consider the feelings of others. Even if I am at my lowest point, I can’t act selfishly as this impacts those around me.
  • If someone decides to leave me, God will bring someone who will stay and carry me through the storm.
  • Continue to serve God regardless of how unbearable the situation may be.

What did I learn from Ruth?

  •  I will always have a choice; God will never force my hand.
  • Sometimes opportunities will be dressed as burdens; do not be hasty when making decisions.
  • Look ahead. Current circumstances always give way to future blessings. What I feel is my end may one day be recognised as my beginning.

What did I learn from Orpah?

  • There is a time to walk away.
  • No one knows what the future holds, be patient and prayerful.
  •  When walking away, try not to walk backwards. Move forward into a better beginning.
  • Pray before you stay, pray before you walk – pray before everything.

How To Find Your Way To The Promised Land Of Peace

shutterstock_116347546-375x250

Psalm 29:11

The Lord gives strength to his people and blesses his people with peace. 

Psalm 34:14

Turn from evil and do good seek peace and pursue it

Psalm 37:37

Consider the blameless, observe the upright, a future awaits those who seek peace 

Sometimes we look at life and all we can see is all types of crazy. You know when you feel like you’re rushing around but nothing seems to get done, and you’re telling God to order your steps but you’ve been walking around for ages and now you can’t even tell if you’ve been moving forward. It’s not always as bad as one step forward, two steps back, but sometimes it’s one step, for..or was it back.. no maybe it was sideways, that gets you feeling dizzy. Things need to happen but you don’t know ‘what first?’ And even if you figure that out, you’re then met with ‘what next?’

So you can picture it, you’re stressed and to make matters worse all your friends keep telling you is; ‘take deep breaths,’ or, ‘sleep on it,’ or, ‘tomorrow will be better than today.’ And you nod and you smile all the while thinking: why? Why will it be better? What’s going to make tomorrow glorious when today has just been abysmal?!

We serve a God who calls himself the Prince of Peace. Now if you’re #Team-Jesus that makes you his child, so you may not be a prince or princess of peace but you’re at least in the royal lineage of the peace family. Psalm 29:11 says that The Lord gives strength to his people and blesses them with peace. Simple addition tells us that you’re not only in the royal peace family, but God has given his word that you’re blessed with peace. At this point you’ve really got to take two seconds out to think…all this peace related ish, and yet all I can feel is the stress of the storm. Where is my peace at?!?!

We easily get caught up in all the good things God is saying he’s going to do for us and forget what part we’re supposed to be playing. Both Psalm 34 and Psalm 37 tell us to seek peace. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news for all my fellow #Team-wishing-we-weren’t-so-lazy, but receiving this peace really requires an action. It’s no mistake that both versus say we should do good and not evil and consider the upright (those living the right way), before telling us to seek peace.

How can we calm down the crazy?…by acting sane. And not in that earthly ‘seems like the right thing to do,’ way. Act in a way that shows you have some God-sanity. Cut out the sin.You claim to be insane about Christ but your actions would give all the angels an excuse to give you side-eye and say ‘you know [insert name] be acting cray these days.’

The good thing about sanity is that it’s simple. It makes sense to revise before you take an exam. It makes sense to pray before you start your day. Sometimes the whole ‘what would Jesus do?’ sounds a bit daunting, but how about, what would you do if you could see Jesus watching out of the corner of your eye. I don’t need to break it to you that God watches your every move, not because he’s bored of preeing the rest of the population but because it’s part of the package of him dwelling on the inside of you.

If you want peace you’re going up have to go looking. Insane for God=acting with God-sanity. Just living right can cause your stresses to melt away. You know the good thing about God…ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and ye shall find. Amen.

Love Dani xxx

Events in March

UPRISE 5’th BIRTHDAY BASH 16/03/14 This event has passed

uprise

Join UPRISE MUSIC TV and celebrate 5 fantastic years of the best of urban gospel music! Hosted by SIMPLY ANDY and with music from DJ Danny Yega, the night will be a high-energy party with guest appearances from an array of familiar faces in the UK gospel scene, and top performances from your favourite gospel music stars. Enjoy exclusive performances from famous names such as DWAYNE TRYUMF, COMMISSION, RACHEL KERR, LYRICAL SOLDIER, DEBORAH, VICTIZZLE, JAY ESS, US gospel icon Da’T.R.U.T.H and Norwegian EDM group JESUS LOVES ELECTRO!

Candyshop conference 2014 22/03/14  This event has passed candy shop

A day conference designed to empower this generation to live pure under ever increasing cultural pressures. With a dynamic mix of talks, worship and interactive sessions, it will leave you challenged and renewed. Speakers include Beth Stout, CEO of Golddigger Trust, Rachel Gardner, co-founder and director of Romance Academy and MOBO winning artist, Jahaziel who is considered one of the most talented and innovative Hip Hop artists in the UK and internationally.

Exalted live EP launch 23/03/14 This event has passed DivineImpact_EPLaunch_Insta-300x300

Witness the launch of Divine Impact’s EP. Divine Impact is a body of believers passionate about drawing people to the heart of worship and lifting up the name of Jesus Christ. Their vision is to see more and more people draw closer to God through the power of the Holy Spirit. They’ve had the privilege of ministering at various events across the country, and have even opened up for the likes of Ron Kenoly!

Broken 27/03/14-28/03/14   This event has passed

brokenJoin KCLGMS on the 27th and 28th March as they follow one man on his journey to brokenness in their annual production. ‘Broken’ promises to be a show to remember. Featuring drama, thought-provoking poetry, dance, live band, KCLGMS’ very own Gospel Choir and this year’s special guests Jahaziel, Faithchild, and more surprising acts.

Forgive and forget? 28/03/14 This event has passed BjBm9DpIQAAL-py

“Forgiving others sets you free” ‘Forgive & Forget?’ the open discussion and debate is taking place at Trinity Baptist Church. Join TBC Young Professionals for an intense but interesting session with Deacon Alex Twumasi. Questions on the night include: Could you forgive an absent parent? Is it right or wrong for someone who has been offended by the church to then leave the church? And much more… Come and learn, discuss and grow.

Break These Chains 30/03/14 This event has passed

break these chains Fancy a night of straight-forward worshipping Jesus with other people who are passionate and on fire about him? Want to press in and get deeper with God? Want to be stirred up to have more impact and bring about change???Then see you at the London location of the iEC band UK tour! iEC is a band & movement developed to inspire and empower young Christians to be about the business of change in their local communities and nation. It is made up of a collective of worship leaders and musicians from fantastic churches around London, UK.

Unsigned live 30/03/14  This event has passed download (2)

Premier Christian Media is proud to present Unsigned Live with Loretta Andrews! Come and join them at The Bedford pub in Balham every other month for an evening of live music from up-and-coming Christian artists.

Praying To Persevere

perseverance

James 1:12

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that The Lord has promised to those who love him.

So it’s the day of rest and we’re all living off that weekend buzz, with a whole week yet to be conquered. Everything is possible and everything can be achieved. We all love a new beginning, a fresh start, and an opportunity to do something great. That’s how I feel every Monday. I know for most people it’s the dreaded, go back to work, go back to school day, but for me, Monday is joyous and I spend it hyped about the week that lies ahead. Monday follows Sunday, and Sunday is a good day for me. It’s reconnect with Jesus day, go to church and leave all the troubles at the altar day. No matter what’s happened earlier in the week, on Sunday the slate gets wiped clean and I’m back to where I want to be with Jesus. Hence Monday is fab. I can still remember the message that was preached from the day before and I can still feel the Holy Spirit walking close by. Needless to say, Mondays are great.

So God is great, I’m great, and I’m ready to face what lies ahead. My outlook changes when the trials and tribulations of the week commence. I’ve stayed up too late to wake up early enough to spend time with God before I start my day. I quickly read my bible app on my travels but the scripture doesn’t hit home, and by Thursday not only have I forgotten Sunday’s message, I’ve forgotten the strength I’d set out with at the beginning of the week. By Friday I don’t want to read my bible and by Saturday I’m ready to take the day off from ‘being a Christian.’ Cycle sound familiar?

We need to have an action plan in place for when the ‘new beginning’ feeling wears off and the ‘hard work’ feeling sets in. I can literally vouch for Nehemiah 8:10 that says, ‘The joy of The Lord is your strength’. There is no other way to persevere than with joy, because seriously how long can you grit your teeth and bear the pain, and quite frankly, why should you have to? Matthew 11:30, Christ says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Really, in essence, it’s not supposed to feel hard. ‘BUT HOW?’ I hear you say. How can it not feel hard when you’re going through trials?… The joy of The Lord is your strength, and in the presence of The Lord there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11.)

Word of advice, and only giving it because I’ve learnt the hard way: stick with it.

Trials will come and that Monday feeling will wear off. If you want to feel like a Sunday Christian (close to God and excited about his presence) even when it reaches Thursday, you’re going to have to stick with it. Read your bible. Don’t let the sun go down and you haven’t spent time with God. It’s literally the only way to get through the week. You won’t have to pray for perseverance when you’re constantly praying.

It’s the gaps in our worship and the breaks we take from dwelling in His presence that lead us astray. Don’t allow yourself to feel distant when the storm hits. Easier to not drown when you’re already sitting in the boat than when you have to swim to reach it.

God bless.

Dani xxx

Along Came 2014

2014

During the latter parts of December, everyone becomes excited about the New Year. Usually, I’m the same! I promise! Despite my naturally moody disposition, I love what a new year represents; an opportunity to begin again, to live differently and to do things I was scared to do the previous year. It is as though we are reborn; we have a clean sheet, a fresh start.

It’s cliché, I know.

I am also aware that most people don’t actually utilise the year we are gifted with; people fall into old patterns– they binge eat instead attending the gym, chain smoke instead of wearing nicotine patches and sleep in on Sundays instead of making it to the 10am service. I’d say the ‘change!’ train probably dies around January 18th. My gut tells me that December 31st 2014 will roll around and people will write the same resolutions in different ways, hoping to do things differently but will still be unwilling to do what is necessary to create the change they wish to see.

Alas, despite both my sentimental and cynical nature, I used to love a New Year. But you know what, last year was different. I was apprehensive.

Wait.

I’m lying.

Let me be honest.  I was scared.

During my holiday to Cyprus, I looked back on 2013. I knew 2013 was going to be a madness, I could literally feel it within me on January 1st, but I was in no way prepared for what lay ahead of little old me. On my darkest days, I was on the battlefield fighting for my life, my health and my sanity, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel – on some days, there was no light.

As I looked back, it became clear that the days of light far outnumbered the days of darkness but that only became known to me through the gift of hindsight. There were many times last year where I could only see darkness and feel pain. I know I’m not the only one; 2013 wasn’t easy for a lot of us. Despite our planning and our pronouncement that it was ‘our year’, life inevitably got in the way. We experienced problems, depression, bereavement; bouts of anxiety, abandonment and the kind of fear that stopped us from achieving the things our hearts cried for us to do. As a result, some of us are moving through 2014 scared, fearful and apprehensive, unwilling to take meaningful steps, terrified that we may fall and have to spend the better part of 2014 learning how to walk again.

The reality is that we have no idea what lies ahead; we can recount the past and observe the present but no one, with complete certainty, can predict what the future will bring. So I’ll leave with you the scriptures that help me to walk through 2014.

Do not be afraid; just believe (Mark 5: 36)

We walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty (Zechariah 4:6)

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16)

Remember there is no battle you have to fight alone now that you have Jesus in your life. Whatever life throws at you, he can handle it.

So glad you’re here and reading this!

Joy xxxxx

Why Lie?

dont-lie-300x300

James 1:22

But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves.

I look around me at the, what seems like, sudden influx of people defining themselves as Christians and my heart is genuinely warmed. Heaven rejoices each time just one gives their life to Christ, and all of you that are bold in your faith and following of Jesus Christ really do encourage me to pursue my own walk with our saviour.

What we all must remember is that church attendance, re-tweeting a bible verse and liking a scriptural meme is not the be all and end all our faith. There are several things that come with a pursuit of Jesus Christ, and merely proclaiming Jesus from time to time, will not suffice. We have received a God who IS love into our lives to be our Lord and saviour. Being a Christian is about being an extension of that love in the world.

Christ tells the story of what will happen when he returns to the Earth in Mathew 25:31-46. I don’t know about you but I intend on being in the group of the righteous. Imagine thinking you’ve lived a Christian life, retweeting at every opportunity and not letting a Sunday go past where the congregation don’t see your face and Christ comes and makes v41-43 your reality. God forbid. Christianity is more than doing a good deed for the day, not breaking the law, and only mumbling the insults you think under your breath instead of saying them at an audible decibel.

God wants you to treat all those in need (that includes strangers) with the same love he showed you when he died on the cross for your sins. Love is about action. Don’t let the words of Sunday become so ineffectual that they merely become catchy phrases or beautiful literature.

Live out the message. The devil is the biggest deceiver, no need to deceive yourself.

Love,

Dani xx

Drop The Weight

fatty

2 Corinthians 5:17

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

I wish the transformation process were as simple and clear-cut as the scripture above. You decide to give your life to Christ and now there is a light that dwells within you; your old life has gone! Boom, bang, bang!

Well, not really.

On day one, you probably still have most of the issues that you had before you gave your life back to God and you don’t really know what it means to walk with him. I believe unless we work hard (daily!) to move away from the old lives we used to lead, we will inevitably fall back into our old routines. Instead of a new book for our new lives, we will find ourselves rereading our old books, hoping that the words will suddenly change.

I think it is so easy to bring old habits into our new lives and I think this explains why we live in a world with insecure Christians, mean Christians, Christians with anger problems, Christians who look down on other people – the list goes on. I don’t believe some of these traits can co-exist with the Jesus that wants to dwell in our hearts. Please feel free to correct me, I’m no theologian, I’m just trying to go somewhere with this.

Example: you sing on Sunday morning about how much God loves you and you nod along as the Pastor tells the congregation that they are all fearfully and wonderfully made. That VERY evening, you look in the mirror and tell yourself how ugly you are. You tell yourself that you’ll never find anyone to love you and that you aren’t worth anything. I know many people who sing about God’s love for them in one moment but use the same mouth to speak hatefully about themselves in the next. They’re not alone; I’ve been there too and I literally have to work daily to make sure I don’t fall back into that old, vicious cycle.

Sidebar: I have this new rule: If I wouldn’t say it to another person, I cannot say it to myself. It’s easy to be mean to yourself. You do something wrong, you hit your head and say ‘YOU’RE SO DUMB’. What? Sorry? No. You’re not dumb. You are an intelligent individual who made small error. Be kinder to yourself!

Look at all the baggage you’re carrying. Certain habits can’t come on this walk, you know! You gotta drop the negativity out because it’s weighty and it will eventually overshadow the hope, love and compassion God has for you; you’ll simply stop believing all the good that he sees in you.

Have you ever seen ‘The Biggest Loser?’ The contestants are forced to do crazy exercise tasks and they’re struggling because of the weight they’ve acquired over time. That is exactly what you’re doing; you’re struggling, out of breath and overwhelmed by the task. You’ve got to get rid of the weight. I don’t mean a diet until next month with a few biscuits here and there; no, I’m talking for the rest of your life, no more carbs, (OBVIOUSLY THIS IS AN ANALOGY WE LOVE CARBS) and never returning to the things that made it difficult for you to run through life unafraid and unashamed.  No, we leave those things behind and eventually we stop running and we start soaring.

Your new life has begun. You are different. You are new. You are no longer the person you were before you encountered Christ. You don’t have to keep reading the chapters of pain and brokenness, make a daily decision to leave those moments behind and drop the weight.

Joyyyyy xxx