Category Archives: Currently Affairing

Why Instagram Is Ruining Your Life

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Before I start can we all take a look at Michelle Obama’s face?! Her face be like “I’LL DEAL WITH YOU WHEN WE GET HOME, BARACK”

Okay, let’s get started.


 

Does anyone else wake up in the morning, roll over and check their phone before their eyes have opened properly? The brightness of my phone can almost be painful but I persevere and force them to adjust.  Why? Because I need to check my phone, I NEED to see who has messaged me.

Oh you’re not in phone-first-camp? You reach for your Bible first?

Sidebar: please excuse my sarcasm, a part of me is applauding sincerely

To be honest, reaching for my bible before I reach for my phone is a daily battle – one I often lose. I so want to reach for God before I reach for people, I tell myself that I’m only going to check the time but before I know it, I’m scrolling through Instagram, updating myself on the previous 8 hours because I am so interested in how you’ve been living, eating, drinking and the sunsets you’ve seen in the time I’ve been asleep.  Our generation (you included, sorry) are obsessed with what we have missed because we fear that we are missing out.  We want to constantly be part of the party and attached to what’s ‘cool’ and ‘happening’, so much so, that even in the presence of company, we will check Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vine.. to ensure that we remain in the loop.

We see other people having fun and living out lives that seem flawless and then we take look around the room that we are sitting in and conclude that our lives do not measure up. They’re out drinking champagne; we are at home drinking hot chocolate. Their boyfriend gives them flowers and a life size teddy bear for Valentine’s day and  yet the only Valentine’s message we receive is from Dominos informing us that they have a special offer for our non-existent partners to enjoy (who else loves being single?!) We look at our phones, we look around and we become dissatisfied.

Unfortunately this obsession and comparison with what other people are doing is not limited to Instagram; we walk along the streets looking at other people’s clothes, hairstyles, cars etc and wish that we had the same things. We stare at them and then stare in the mirror and decide that we just aren’t enough. Sometimes it runs even deeper than staring at strangers and wishing for their possessions– sometimes we look at those closest to us and although we love them, we also begin to hate them because we feel that they too possess attributes that should have been bestowed upon us. If you are nodding your head or looking around guiltily as you read this…

 

Welcome.

 

You have been living in the Comparison Zone

 

Here are the rules (which I made up this morning):

Rule #1: Look around instead of looking ahead

Rule #2: Look behind only to make sure you that you are ahead of everyone else

Rule #3: What everyone else is doing is more important than what you are currently doing

Rule #4: What you have done only matters if no one else has managed to do it

Rule #5: Your worth hinges upon what you see around you, not what you know to be true about yourself


 

Once the silent competition between you and a close one begins, there’s no going back. Everything he/she does, you have to do better. You are secretly angry when they achieve greatness yet you force yourself to smile and congratulate them. Every time they win, a small part of you dies and you can’t help but think ‘why not me? Why always them?’ 

This negative comparison, jealousy and envy isn’t limited to Instagram or our generation; we see it in the Bible with Saul and David:

1 Samuel 18:6-8

When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul. They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals. This was their song:

“Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands!”

This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!”  So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.

 

Now, why would Saul keep an eye on David? Why do we keep eyes on other people?

  •  The deep-rooted fear that we are not good enough
  • The feelings of inadequacy we accumulate as we pass through life
  • *insert reason here*

Saul could have congratulated David but instead he chose to watch him and let jealousy and hatred fester within. Saul isn’t alone. I’m sure some of you have experienced the same thoughts and feelings as Saul when someone has outdone you – I know that I have.

I think once we enter the Comparison Zone, we take our eyes off Jesus and we put ourselves in a vulnerable position. We should be looking to the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) but instead we are looking to see if our friend actually gets that job  or wondering whether her new boyfriend will be better than our current boyfriend.

 

My main gripes with the Comparison Zone are as follows:

1. We started differently

Your race could have started just minutes before mine – you could have even been born during the same year, on the same day, but that still wouldn’t make our starting positions equal. I’m talking about the differences in genetics, in the opportunities given to us, the different environments we are reared in and the choices our parents made long before we were thought of. All these things impact how we run our race.

How can we race each other when we’ve all begun at different times, received different aides and have run through completely different storms?

2. No two destinies are the same

God has made us uniquely different. We have differing goals, missions and tasks that we have been chosen to complete. Now how can we compare ourselves to people who have completely different tasks? The gifts God equipped your friends with in order to complete their tasks will be different to the gifts he has given you – not better, just different. It isn’t about looking at someone else’s light and feeling inferior, it is about recognising that the source of your light is one and the same.

 

 

We will never be satisfied with our lives if we continue to be consumed with the actions of others. I may never be on TV, I may never drive an expensive car and my hair will ALWAYS shrink when water touches it but I have to trust that every single facet of my being was designed perfectly by God so that I could complete my mission here on earth (even my unruly hair).

Philippians 3:14

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

God deserves our attention and our focus because he will run beside us, give us water when we are thirsty, give us strength when our legs are weak and cheer for us as we cross the finish line.

Make a decision to leave the Comparison Zone today; you can’t run anyone else’s race as well as you can run your own and life is better when you realise you’re running this race for God.

Hey now, have an amazing weekend! All my loving,

Joyyyy xxxxxx

Are You As Loyal As Chris Brown?

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So I’ve been really thinking about what to share this week given that today is a really exciting time in the Christian community – it is Good Friday! The Easter period is one that really fills my soul up with glee because of the life I have because of the death Jesus Christ. He rose again and through his life and sacrifice, I now have life in abundance. So what does the crucifixion of Jesus Christ have to do with Chris Brown’s ‘Loyal’, one of the hottest songs at the moment?

 

Keep reading!

 

So in Chris Brown’s cool, edgy and derogatory song, he basically calls out all women and says that as soon as we find another man who has more money than the man we are currently with, we will leave because…well, we’re just not loyal. It doesn’t matter how much we love our current man – Brown fails to factor in contributing factors such as love, children and individual differences – as soon as we see a man with money and he wants us, we will drop everything we once held dear and be on our merry way towards millionairedome.

While this message is true for some women, it is obviously not true of all women and contradicts the other stereotype that women will stay and fund the lifestyle of a ‘broke man’.  But hey, whatever, stereotypes and generalisations will always exist and gone are the days where I shout about how wrong they are and attempt to right every wrong in the world.

Chris Brown’s song is one that speaks of loyalty. Loyalty is one of the most sought after traits in any person, irrespective of the nature of the relationship, our employees, spouses, friends and churches all want us to be loyal to them. Similarly, we all want to be surrounded by loyal people because with that trait also comes stability, consistency and the assurance that we will not deserted in our time of need.

Unfortunately, most of us have had a Chris Brown moment. Not the beat-up-your-girlfriend type of moment (sorry to bring that up again, Chris) but the realisation that despite loyalty being the cornerstone of any functioning relationship, there are a few humans who walk our earth that haven’t quite grasped the meaning of the word and how it should be played out in real life settings. This results in a world full of friends who spend every weekend together but speak viciously about each other, husbands who appear to be picture perfect but have spent their wives’ savings, women who are in love with multiple men, MPs who exploit the people who voted for them, *please feel free to insert any scandalous situation here*

So what do we do when we find out the person we loved and trusted ‘ain’t loyal’?

 

ENTER JESUS CHRIST.

 

I think it can be argued that Jesus suffered one of the greatest acts of disloyalty known to man. Jesus had twelve disciples who walked with him during his time on earth, learnt from him, who he nurtured and loved. One of these men, a man named Judas, betrayed him and this betrayal resulted in his death. Fortunately, we know that this death was not the end of his story but I don’t think Judas cared too much for the resurrection when he was selling out his best friend for thirty pieces of silver. Rather, Judas’ desire for money clouded his judgement and revealed who he really was – money and power have the capacity to do that. What amazed me when reading the account of the crucifixion in Matthew was Jesus’ treatment of Judas.

From the very beginning, even when recruiting Judas into his posse, Jesus knew that Judas would be the one to betray him yet he did not treat Judas differently to the others disciples. Jesus still washed Judas’ feet. Jesus let him sit at the table of his last supper. And even as Judas approached Jesus, kissing him in order to identify Jesus to captors, Jesus still called him ‘friend’. I was blown away by these acts of love because I know what it feels like to be betrayed. While some acts have been insignificant and were easily forgotten, other acts of betrayal cut right to my core and still continue to heal. Unfortunately, when I was betrayed, I didn’t treat those that betrayed me the way that Jesus treated Judas.

When people hurt us, we have to somehow make sense of what happened. We try and piece together the shock, the anger and the hurt we feel and in doing so we create a narrative that is quickly shared with those around us. We think on it, let the betrayal fester within us and we seek to pinpoint the moment we should have known that the said person was not who they had claimed to be. I think in these moments we have the capacity to become our worst selves as we paint our Judas in the worst possible light and speak only negatively about a person who once held a piece of our heart.

We must accept that people are going to hurt us because as Chris Brown so profoundly put it, ‘these h*es ain’t loyal’. Hurt, pain and betrayal are a part of life but if we are to live liberated lives, we cannot shield our hearts from this reality. Instead we have to continue give our hearts to people, love without restraints and in doing so, give people the opportunity to hurt us all over again. Although some of them will, we have a choice in that moment of profound hurt. How we deal with the betrayal will shape and change the way we view the act in the years that lie ahead of us. If we can rise above the act, love first and then forgive as soon as we can, I truly believe that when we look back on the betrayal, we won’t be filled with rage, hurt and bitterness. I truly believe that an act of love has the capacity to bring light and life to every broken moment we will ever experience.

On this day, I am reminded of a love that covers my shame, my brokenness and that fixed the parts of my being that I did not believe could be salvaged. A love that transformed my being, my heart, my mind and my life. I want to love like that; I want to love like Jesus did. I want to be able to love those who hurt me in the way that Jesus loved Judas. I want to be able to love people who aren’t loyal just as much as I love those that are. It’s not easy, but it is possible.

Although this day is about death, it is also about love and loyalty. Jesus could have decided not to die for us, but he did. He kept his promise just as any loyal friend would and died just so that we could live. Today I am thanking him for his loyalty and his love, because even though some people aren’t loyal, he always is.

Lots of my love on this beautiful day,

Joy

Oscar Pistorious: Affluent. Role Model. Murderer?

Oscar-Pistorius

As far as athletes go Oscar Pistorious is pretty famous. Before February 2013 we all knew him as the man who became a double amputee aged 11 months, successful Paralympian, who won his fight to compete against able bodied athletes in the 2012 Olympics. Pretty revolutionary if you ask me. Whether or not earning £320,000 yearly makes him affluent or not is up for debate (it’s not quite successful rapper money, but it is more money that half the world’s population will ever see) as an example of someone who made lemonade, lemon pie, and lemon meringue out of life’s lemons, he’s an outstanding candidate for being your not so average role model. Now he’s on trial for murder.

We all wait with baited breath when celebrities are on trial because we want to see just how much leverage being a celeb gets you in court. I mention Oscar because in most of our minds he’s guilty of murder. His recount of the shooting, though very imaginative, seems rather far-fetched, and we’re all eagerly waiting for him to get off so that we can say justice can be purchased- an extremely problematic conclusion, shifting the Criminal Justice System  into camp corruption. Whether you’re being tried in a court in America, Britain, or Timbuktu we all share in the belief ‘ain’t nobody care if you’re a rich role model, the law is the law.’

Funny how we all subscribe to a measure that God doesn’t even take into consideration.

Gone are the days of sheep killing and sacrifices every  time you want to get back into God’s good books. We’re living in the new covenant of declaring with our mouths and believing in our hearts to qualify for salvation.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

On this basis, we can easily say ‘fairness’ has been chucked out with curtains (bit of biblical irony for you-if you know you know 😉 considering that the penalty of sin is supposed to be death. Justice would have been for us to die (sentenced to hell) and here we are being offered life (never-ending party in heaven). So where does that leave us in God’s courtroom? We see God as this all-powerful, infallible judge but we don’t realise that God is everybody in that room, lawyer, jury, best friend and all.

The most important thing I’ll say today (quite hard for me to say considering I’m one of those people who believes everything they say is important, or at least worth listening to) is that: God doesn’t want to see you fail.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  John 15:13.

I’d like you to do something for me. I know it’s early on in our relationship and it’s a bit soon to be asking for favours but I’m going to ask anyway. Don’t feel pressured to do anything you’re uncomfortable with, don’t need to appear in court for cyber-peer pressure (if that’s even a thing).

Ok I’m just going to come out and say it…

For a few seconds I need you to go on a short journey in your brain and don’t stop till you reach the door labelled ‘Your imagination’. Ok are you in? Going to have to assume you’re here. For the latecomers, when you arrive I need to you to imagine you’re in God’s courtroom.

Ok, so we’re in God’s courtroom, let’s start with God the Judge. Even people who aren’t Christian imagine God as this being (usually made of clouds that resembles an old man- similar to the guy on the KFC bucket) who sits on a throne deciding if people have been ‘good’ enough to go to heaven. My own name means God is my judge, and we all know at least one person who has ‘only God can judge me’ stamped on their arms. Needless to say we’re all on board with the idea of God as this powerful judge who holds the people’s fates in his hands. I think now is a good point to mention that the verdict is already in and God declares you righteous. Whether you helped the old lady with her shopping or called in sick to work because you ran out of your holiday allowance, the minute you gave your life to Christ, God declared you righteous. Simples.

Maybe God the lawyer will be a bit harder to imagine. I used to see God as the prosecution, gathering evidence of my sins, so he could judge me guilty. Never really considered that God was my defence. Revelation 12:10: Satan is the accuser of your faith. Satan is the one who calls you by your sin and gets you to buy into the idea that your sin is your defining characteristic. God is in your corner, wiping the sweat off your brow as you prepare to re-engage in the good fight of faith. It’s by God’s grace that we can live a life without sin, and where there is sin, his grace abounds even more (Romans 5:20). He didn’t just do you the ultimate favour by dying on the cross for your sins, he’s cheering you on every step of the way.

We can easily imagine God as the jury, deliberating our fate, judging by the inner workings of our hearts instead of our actions, but he’s also the best friend who turns up every day in court to see if we’re ok. Serving God can feel like an uphill struggle when you’re trying to go it alone. Working in all those group projects at school that made you want plan the extinction of every member of your group, cemented the ‘trust no man, if you want something done do it yourself mentality.’ However, repeatedly repenting for the same sins week in week out woke me up to the fact that I couldn’t be independent in my walk with God. Serving God takes complete dependence on that very same God. FYI- if you’re part of team Independent, you may as well give up now:

Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6

God is that friend that doesn’t ever stop wanting to be in your company. You don’t have to go it alone (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Ok imagination time over. Thank you for your co-operation. That’s God’s courtroom from my eyes. God plays all the roles and fights for your innocence because he doesn’t actually want to judge you guilty. When you think of God as this guy who’s eagerly waiting to throw the book at you and sentence you to hell remember that he loves you. Everyday can feel like a trial, but you’ve missed sight of the point if you think it’s all about rules and regulations. Everything God does is because he loves you (John 3:16)

In your striving to please God remember that love is what it’s all about

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself. Galatians 5:14

As you keep up with Oscar’s trial, count your blessings that God doesn’t judge you in the way that the Earth judges. Oscar’s fate will be (mostly) determined by justice. Be glad that you live by grace.

Godbless, Dani xxxxxx

The One Thing I Have In Common With Janine Butcher

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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

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