Category Archives: Struggling With Sin

The Art Of Running From God

The ability to run without actually moving is an art few have mastered. I, my friend, are one of those few. It doesn’t happen overnight – it is a skill that you must work at but before you know it, you’ll be so good, you’ll be in my position – you know, in a place where you can teach others to do the same.

It’s crazy how much time we spend running – without actually moving, that is. I’ve done my fair share of jogging (gah, I almost vommed at the memory) and there was nothing I hated more than feeling my knees cracking as my feet hit the ground. Although I gave it up pretty soon after I began, in a sense, I’ve never stopped. At every point in my life, I’ve been on the run from something.

I’ve come to conclude that I’m not alone. The majority of us are on the run too: from ourselves, from our jobs, from our friends, families, spouses, God – I think the list goes on. Most of us running, especially those have mastered the art, have made it so that the things and people we are running from probably have no idea that we are running away. We have managed to run while being present, slowly detracting and disconnecting with each passing day.

I think running and fear are positively correlated. By this, I mean, that there is a relationship between fear and running; the more fear we feel, the more likely it is that we will run. If we are used to being alone, having complete autonomy over ourselves and our emotions, and somebody comes along and tries to be close to us: we run. If the purpose for our lives, the things we know were born to do feel too grand; beyond us and out of reach: we run. If the activity we are trying to complete feels too intense or difficult, we can find ourselves running to social media for a quick (or lengthy) escape from our current situation.

I spent last week on the run from God. I committed a heinous crime (I joke, I joke) (kinda) and I just didn’t know what to do with the guilt – I wasn’t sure where to place and yet I was unable to put it down. I told gave a friend a vague synopsis of what had happened and she said, ‘Do not run from God. He knew what you were going to do long before you did and He continued to love you.’ She spoke profound and timely words that were still incapable for stopping me from packing up my bags and running as far as possible from the one who loves me most.

Let me be clear, as I said at the very beginning, I did not actually move. No bags were packed. No doors were opened or closed. From the outside, nothing had changed. Yet, when I looked at my life, a few days ago, I realised that I was struggling to see God, struggling to feel comforted by His love because I’d had gone so many days without letting it wash over me.

My return to God has been as anti-climactic as my departure. There were no tears, no promises of ‘never doing it again’ because experience has taught me that I am fallible; sinning comes (frighteningly) naturally and running will always be easier than staying put and dealing with my fear, guilt and shame.

Instead of the theatrics, instead of making promises that I may break in a few days’ time, I just opened my heart to Him again. I sought to connect: I listened to a sermon, I read a devotional, I prayed; my actions an attempt to be consistent with Him which is, presently, my deepest hope and desire. I can’t commit to never sinning again, but I can commit to trying every single day to be closer to Him.

All my love,

Joy

Why February Is The New January

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So I was scrolling through Twitter (mindlessly feeding my addiction, gah) during the latter parts of January and I kept seeing tweets expressing that January had been a dress rehearsal of some sort, and that February would truly mark the beginning of 2016.

At first, I laughed. Of course I laughed. Twitter, my favourite app of all, is always making me chuckle because of the crazy things I see on there (if you find it boring, you’re following all the wrong people;  the key is to strike the balance between the righteous and rachet people you follow). 

As I continued to scroll, I realised that this feeling was shared by numerous people. Of course being the overthinker that I am, I began to evaluate my own experience of January. Had I been successful in accomplishing the goals I’d set for myself? Had I left behind all the things I said I would? Had I done all of the things I said I’d do?

I vowed to leave behind various things; comparing myself to people, food that would make me sick, being reduced to my mistakes, being inconsistent – the list goes on. Yet, as I sat with my thoughts, I realised that I had failed miserably.  

I once wrote a paper on why people fail to reach their goals (my degree is in Psychology) so I can pretty much sum up, with evidence, why I failed to reach my goals in the first month of 2016. Evidence aside though, it irks me – truly irks me- that I have failed so early on in the year. I have failed myself, and most importantly, I have failed God, who I am convinced looks upon my actions at times, and wants to throw a lightning bolt up my behind.

Last month marked the beginning of a fresh chapter in our lives, and like all new things, we loved January, embraced it and clung to it, enjoying its freshness and its clarity. But then it became dirty; we used to it and by using it, it began to lose its freshness and its shine. Soon, January spoke only of our mistakes, our failings, and our inability to execute the ideas birthed in our minds.

January was burdened, heavy with our hopes and dreams, weighted by our expectations, ones it could arguably not live up to. It struggled and eventually cracked under the pressure, and so like those on Twitter, we are looking to February, its younger, sweeter sister who has no wear and tear, no indelible  marking; she is shy, coy, new and promises to be better to us. But will she?

I think instead of placing unrealistic expectations on 29 days, or even 2016, we need look to each new day as an opportunity to begin again.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14

Yesterday, I sinned. The day before, I sinned. The day before that, I sinned. I fail every single day at being the Christian I wish I could be. Usually, I take a few days to nurse my wounds, avoid God, pretend everything is okay, and then around the 3-day-mark, I crawl back to God and apologise for the latest indiscretion.

I’m trying this new thing where instead of running from God, I run to him – as soon as possible. Instead of pretending I didn’t completely mess up, I say, 

‘Hey, God, so you know that thing I did…that I keep doing…I’m sorry. Help me to be better – because you know that’s all I’d liked to be’. 

It doesn’t rid me of the guilt but it forces me to face myself, to face the God who I love but continuously let down in one way or another. I will never be perfect but I can strive for an open relationship with the Father, one where I lay all my ishhh bare (hoping) knowing that His grace is sufficient.

I welcome February, I welcome tomorrow, I welcome every day; instead of focusing on my failures, on my inability to execute my goals as I would like, I will do my best to focus on God. At the end of the day, when the lights go down and there’s no one around, He is all I have.

I hope you have a good day,

Joy xxx

Why I Ran Away From Home

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The first time I ran away from home, I was six years old.

There is no gruesome tale that justifies this decision to move out of home – my family were, and continue to be, a lovely bunch of people. At the time, I didn’t think so. My Mum, who had always fondly referred to me as her ‘handbag’ had decided that it was time for a new purse; there was a baby on the way. Now, maybe you became an older sibling during your childhood too and you took this wonderful transition in your stride. I did not. Not at even a little bit. I still remember my Mum and Dad telling us the ‘good news’ and sitting stunned as my sisters jumped up and down.

“Maybe we’ll have a brother!” they shouted.

Did we need a brother? I was happy with the way things were. I was the obvious favourite, doted on by my Father who (always) gave me sweeties or the last sip of his drink, and I was pretty much carried everywhere by my Mother. Who was this intruder who had come to take my position? 

It was clear that my parents no longer wanted me and I wasn’t loved as much as I thought I was. The arrival of my new sibling became a national crisis: teachers at school were told about my difficulty ‘adjusting to the changes at home’ and a special eye was kept on me in case I stabbed myself in the eye with a pencil during play-time.

I’d been toying the idea of leaving home for a few months until I found the courage to execute my master plan. It was a Saturday morning. My parents were out and my sisters were lazing around the house while I packed all my favourite things in a blue carrier bag. I left the house, exhilarated, adrenalin pumping and my heart beating wildly. I was free!  They wanted a baby? Fine. But I wasn’t going to stay where I wasn’t wanted.

But as I walked up my hill I became more unsure with every step. Where was I going? Who was going to look after me? Who would feed me? Despite all my questions, one thing was certain: if I didn’t get home before my parents returned, I was due to get a sound beating. 

As I arrived at the top of the hill, I took a seat on my favourite bench and began to evaluate my options.
I could:

  1. Sleep on the bench
  2. Keep walking to an unknown destination
  3. Go home

I’m reminded of that day this morning as I write this post. This week, I ran away from home. Not my actual home (I cannot afford to pay rent in London) but from the warm, comfortable one I’ve been building up again with my Father (the one that resides in Heaven) over the past few months. I’m not sure why I’ve been walking up this hill all week, knowing all the while that I have nowhere to go to. I’m not sure why I sat on the bench evaluating the options similar to the ones available to my six-year-old self.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’

Luke 15:17-23

Similar to the prodigal son (found in Luke 15-32), I came to my senses this morning. I realised that there are no options that compare with returning to my Father’s house, being embraced by Him and being reminded of His enduring love that covers a multitude of sins. When I am away from the Father, there is a sense that something integral is missing. Life is okay (kinda) but moments are hollow, joy is fleeting, pieces of the puzzle remain hidden from my sight and I find myself going through the motions: getting up, going to work, gyming, sleeping. And it’s not enough. 

This week, I aim to do better. I’m going to get back to my daily Bible readings, my consistent communication – all that good, good stuff.

I am going home.

If you’re on the run, evaluating your options, unsure as to what life will look like if you continue walking that hill, maybe you should return to your home too; He still loves you and is waiting for you.

Lots of love,

Joy xxx

Why We Should All Come Out of the Darkness

  

There is something quite disheartening about people not practising what they preach. They’re at the ready with advice and guidance when you share details about your life with them (and even when you don’t) but you are yet to see these pearls of wisdom make a difference in their own. The situation becomes abysmal when not practising becomes not even believing. I’m sure you’re thinking of that friend you know that fits the bill I’m describing but have you considered looking a little closer to home? We make claim to so many things when we’re at a church service or with the Christian gang, everybody’s telling there neighbour and ‘can I get an amen-ing’ in agreement with all the things we’ve learnt about our faith, but when the church bubble is popped by the real life bubble, how much of that church lingo is still standing strong in our minds?
I’ll jog your mind with a few examples:

‘We are blessed to be a blessing’

‘My God will supply all my needs’

‘In Christ I’m a new creation’

‘I cast my burdens onto God, because he cares for me’

‘I do not have the spirit of fear but the spirit of love, power and a sound mind’

‘Christ’s yoke is easy and his burden is light’

‘I’m not doubting because of what I can see, but trusting God because of what I can’t’ 

‘Who Christ sets free is free indeed’ 

We can be a pillar of faith and full of solutions when we’re ministering to our friends in need, but how often do we go home, carrying the burdens we’ve encouraged them to lift up, struggling to live a life that’s different to the one we lived pre getting saved and wondering how we’re going to make ends meet.

On Saturday our very own Joy put on her very first play in a theatre and reminded the audience that we have got to start believing the things that we roll so easily off our tongue when we’re with our Christian crew. Out of the darkness creatively explored the belief most Christians share that we are free in Christ however don’t live in freedom because we are bound by the sins we aren’t ready to forgive ourselves of. Yes we can preach that Christ saves and he forgives, we will continue to encourage friends to forgive others, but yet we live in constant unforgiveness of ourselves. 

As we explored the lives of two young adults at different places in their faith but both bound by sin, the message hit home that so many of us are not experiencing the freedom we’re supposed to have in Christ. I went to the theatre expecting to see a play about people coming to Christ as a life without him is usually described as one in darkness, but I was intrigued to discover how aptly the metaphor of darkness fits the place so many of us live in when we just can’t let go of the things we have done. We can all look at our sin and feel that we have really gone too far this time or we just keep doing the sane thing and can’t keep expecting God to forgive us, but that just isn’t true. God’s forgiveness is unconditional and ever present, he lets it go the moment we ask for forgiveness, so we have to follow suit and do the same.

Whatever you have done, you are free

No matter how you feel, you are free

If you’re worried you’re going to do ‘it’ again, you are free

When you gave your life to Christ, you walked out of the darkness into his all encompassing light. Don’t live a life bound by sin that God has long forgiven you for.
Love lots 
Dani xxxx

Where Did I Go Wrong?

                                        There’s this problem that I have been contemplating ; the feeling that I would be okay with God even though I didn’t pray or seek him.
I had this deluded mentality that if I did commit a sin, it was fine irrespective of the fact that I didn’t pray to God, didn’t read my bible and didn’t walk right with God. To me, it was okay to sin because I know he is a God of mercy, a God of everlasting love, he is a helping God, a God of compassion and salvation. I knew that once “I surrendered to Him and asked for forgiveness, he would forgive me” (Psalm 32:5).I felt, since I could still feel God’s presence around me, it was okay. I was okay. Life was okay. But was I really okay? No I wasn’t.
What I failed to realise was the sheer depth of the hole I was digging myself into. Not until one occasion; when a friend asked me a question and my tongue slipped so easily into plentiful delusional lies. As I was speaking to my friend and these lies were spiralling out of my mouth I couldn’t help but remember what James 3:6 says:

“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell”.

I was dumbfounded as it slowly dawned on me that I was losing my existence of who I was in Christ. It was suddenly clear how simply, not speaking to God, made me an easy target to fall into sin and temptations and become victim of the devils handiwork. I was entering the gates of darkness.
Hence the question… Where did I go wrong?
Most people do not realise that sin grows. Sin does not change however. It grows and manifests itself in different forms. As people our biggest sin; is the sin of distrusting God’s picture of us, a picture which is not pretty to make it our version of beautiful.
We are prone to think higher of ourselves than we ought to. We like to think that we are making it even though we sin, and that God’s prefect law is being met by our little effort. But these are false thoughts, delusions of grandeur that we use to disfigure our relationship with God. It is a fact that once we become stagnant and think more of ourselves than we really are. We stop living, breathing and worshipping Jesus’s gospel of grace.
Apostle Paul when speaking to the Corinthians in Romans 6:1 says “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?. 

We are fortunate to have a God that cares for us irrespective of what we do. So we shouldn’t be afraid to move closer to Him, read our bibles and pray daily.
Love Esther xxx

How I Got A Criminal Record

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I commit crimes all the time.

I have always fancied myself as a criminal. Obviously, I am not actually a criminal; the thought of spending more than two months in jail cell makes me internally freak out. Despite my fear of prison (every time I drop the soap in the shower, I shudder slightly) I’ve spent my whole life considering the different crimes I would commit if I wasn’t a Christian.. There are quite a few. Fortunately, Jesus saves and as long as I follow Him, I shouldn’t find myself on the inside any time soon.

Despite not being on the inside in reality, there are moments where I commit crimes. None of them are particularly heinous; they are mostly petty crimes, but they all look to the same to my judge. Let’s call these crimes sins. God is my judge and He can see every single thing that I do; He is privy to the good things, the bad things, and the things that I am too ashamed to tell even my closest friends. It’s quite unfortunate that the being I love most sees the worst things that I do and takes them very personally because this means that at some point in every week, I am filled with mild to intense feelings of guilt.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:8

I understand why Adam hid from God. Although Adam knew the solution to his problems resided in God, he hid anyway. It was the shame, the guilt, the knowledge that he had done the very thing he had sworn he would never do that made him hide. I understand why Adam hid because I’ve hidden too; I have experienced the Adam moment. I have experienced that moment where God expresses (through His word) that he requires me to live a certain way. I have experienced that moment where I realise that what I want to do and what God requires from me are in constant conflict. I have experienced that moment where I choose the thing God hates in order to satisfy whatever whim or desire I have. Oh, and I despise it. I hate the fact when I am given the choice between choosing God or choosing myself, 40% 60% of the time, I choose myself. It’s not just the disappointing God factor that annoys me; it’s the fact that I lose. I say I won’t do something, I declare that I am free from whatever potential crime I am being tempted by and then the next moment, I’m committing the crime, wondering if God still loves me.

I hate to lose. I am winner. I am competitive and this Christian walk often feels like a battle I can’t win. I am tired of falling at the first, second, third and fourth hurdle. Last week I decided that I wasn’t cut out for this Christian life. I told Jesus that although I loved him dearly, I was never going to be able to be who He wanted me to be, no matter how hard I tried. I said I was sorry for wasting his time but our love story was to come to an end because I was tired of always being the one in the relationship that always messed up.

Just as I was throwing in the towel, I realised:

1) God knows that I’m going to get it wrong.

This journey isn’t about being perfect, it is about striving for perfection, striding towards God and having a heart that longs to do right by Him. That guilt you feel is awful but at least you feel it, you are not so far away from God that you do not react when you fall out of line. Instead you are contrite, you are disappointed and you want to do better. This is good. It means you care; it means there is hope.

2) I cannot do this alone.

I was right when I said to God I couldn’t do it. I can’t.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

Matthew 19:26

His power is made perfect in my weakness and when I am at the end of myself, that is when God can truly begin. I am not alone in this, Jesus is praying for me (John 17:9) and standing in the gaps, interceding for me (Hebrews 7:25).

3) God does not dwell my past crimes.

I–yes, I alone–will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again

Isaiah 43:25

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:12

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.

Isaiah 44:22

No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.

Jeremiah 31:34

I don’t usually include this many verses but I really want to reinforce and evidence my final point. I don’t have a criminal record because of the grace of God and because of the greatest act of love known to man: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. After you’ve apologised, let that thing go; it is in the past. Don’t dwell on it, don’t ruminate and don’t let it stop you from getting back again and running with Jesus.

All my love beautiful people,

Joy xxxxxxxxxx

The Day I Became A Fugitive

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I am on the run. It’s been about 10 hours since I decided I had to leave and 10 minutes of thinking I should head back. I haven’t done anything worth a lengthy sentence but coming out of hiding would involve a lot of explaining and providing answers to the questions I’d rather avoid.

This post is for all the serial sinners.

It’s weird running away from something and spending the whole journey wanting to turn back in the other direction. You know there’s little consequences for your actions apart from having to go through the genuinely sorry, forgive me Lord, deciding not to do it again, but even that doesn’t seem doable.

Yes, you’re sorry…

Of course you want God’s forgiveness…

But can you honestly say you’ve decided not to do it again?

That’s where the going gets tough.

So you remain on the run. You’ve covered enough distance to continue acting in sin but you haven’t reached the point where you stop caring to surrender. It’s weird because we know that God won’t put us in prison, withholding his love and ending the relationship, but it’s like we would rather he did so we opt for the virtual prison sentence of not feeling free in Christ or bound in sin.

If you’ve ever been caught up in a cycle of the same sin you’ve been there: The uncomfortable middle. You know God, you want his love, but you feel like you can’t serve him so you reject it. Whereas opening your Bible or telling God about your day used to come naturally, now you’re just attending church weekly so everyone else won’t know you’ve gone missing.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (‭Genesis‬ ‭3‬:‭8‬ NKJV)

I remember reading Genesis and laughing at the thought that Adam thought he could ever hide from God, but now I get it. You know you’ve upset the great God you serve and preach about, you just don’t know if you can come into the light, fall slowly to your knees and put your hands above your head in surrender. Not again. Not when you promised to be better the last time and the time before that and even the time before that.

I have one word of advice.

Give up and go back home.

As unfair and unjust as it seems, the prodigal son is a parable for a reason.

There isn’t anything too big to forgive and there isn’t a limit on how many times you can ask. Choose God because no matter how far you run, Gods awesomeness will locate you and you’ll be back on your knees once again.

Take it from someone who knows.

Dani-Ella xxx

The Day I Became Immune To Snake Bites

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There’s something about board games that makes them uber fun whether you’re five or fifty five. Just me? I think it’s that thrill of getting so close to beating someone but knowing you can’t get too cocky before your luck changes and the tables turn, and it’s you hanging onto the game with the skin of your teeth. I think it’s clear that I love a good board game, but my reflection time this week revealed the extent to which I connected with them. Mulling over the lessons life taught me this week it dawned on me that I had been treating life like one long board game. More specifically, a game of Snakes and Ladders.

Random. I know. But true nonetheless. As I reminisced on a week spent battling with my sins I discovered the root cause of my attitude towards sin and the aftermath that followed every sin I committed. For me, every time I learnt a lesson from God, obeyed his direction, was enjoying regular quiet time with him, I felt like I was playing the Christianity game the way it should be played. I was going up all the ladders and edging closer to fulfilling all God had for me. Meanwhile every sin was the equivalent of stepping on a snake, taking me a hundred steps back and making it seem impossible that I would ever live out my purpose. Sinning made me distraught and conflicted about how to act next. If I repented it would mean acknowledging that I had done wrong and accepting that I was back at square one. I questioned how far I had really come if I was willing to throw it all away so quickly at the lure of temptation.

What I came to terms with was how wrong my attitude towards sin was. There can be awful consequences of sin, I don’t need to remind you about Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt, Moses not being able to enter the promise land, the destroying of Sodom and Gomorrah and the ending of all life outside the ark. These are all valid examples of the seriousness that committing sin behold but they are not proof that every sin brings us back to the drawing board with God. The reason sin and more importantly the fear of sin had such a big impact on my life is because I has genuinely started to believe that my actions made me righteous.

And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:28-30

We get into the mindset that our actions make us righteous so we get so disappointed in ourselves because we’ve sinned so we’re ‘no longer’ righteous but we were never made righteous because of our actions. God makes us righteous and he’s the same person whose blood washes us white as snow. We can live according to the ways of God, only through the grace of God.

Here’s a word of advice for everyone whose struggling with living with themselves after they sin.

When you sin, you must repent, and then you must move on.

Two things that set me free:

1) Guilt is not of God.
By all means feel convicted of the sins you commit, but once you’ve repented, God had forgiven you, so you’ve got to follow suit and forgive yourself. We’ve got a bit of cheek haven’t we, having the audacity to punish ourselves for things that God has forgotten all about. It may not seem fair that you can commit 100 sins a day and with one prayer of repentance God wipes your slate clean, but that is just the way it is. Simples.

2) You are what you eat.
A lot of the time we feel so bad about a particular sin we’ve committed/ keep committing that we put safeguards in place to prevent ourselves from committing the sin ever again, which is good, and can even be great when it stops us from giving in to ourselves, but are we really solving the issue? You can put safeguards in place but don’t be surprised if they don’t work when you haven’t stopped to pray about the issue and to meditate on God’s word. Our actions generally reflect what’s going on in our hearts and when we’re acting in a way that’s contradictory to what God tells us to do we have to look back at what we’ve allowed to enter our hearts and minds.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

If you have a problem with gambling it doesn’t make sense to stay up late every night and watch online gambling shows for ‘entertainment’. You’re going to end up desiring what you surround yourself with so let’s make life easier for ourselves and surround ourselves with the things of God.

Instead of living in constant guilt as I struggle to win the battle against sin, this week I will feast on the word of God and allow that to change my thinking.

Love you

Dani xxxx

The Day I Stopped Being A Law-abiding Citizen

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As a Christian that’s been brought up in the church things can get tricky when it comes to deciding what’s wrong. Lots of people will hold beliefs based on their perceptions of God or what they feel convicted of and you aren’t always sure whether going against their 11th commandment is sinful or just choosing to live life differently.

The usual culprits that cause confusion:

“That’s an ungodly hour to be on the phone”

“Christians shouldn’t drink alcohol”

“Parties aren’t events you should be attending now you’re saved”

“Don’t be alone with a person of the opposite sex after 6pm”

The list goes on, and suddenly you’re not sure where Christianity ends and option and culture begins. I remember when I was having an argument about one of my piercings and had to highlight that the other person not liking something didn’t automatically mean there must be a deeper sin behind it.

Therefore we must not pass judgment on one another, but rather determine never to place an obstacle or a trap before a brother or sister. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean in itself; still, it is unclean to the one who considers it unclean. Romans 14:13-14

I think being reminded not to judge is a key part of this scripture. As we’re pointing the finger at our fellow Christians for choosing to talk on the phone late at night or for not having their ears pierced, we have to remember that each of us have our own convictions that should guide how we live. We don’t know the journey that God is taking someone on, so how dare we try and force them to become a changed individual overnight and not allow God to lead the process of transformation. Similarly when people abide by rules that we consider irrelevant, who are we to tell them they’re wrong for doing so?

I stopped feeling condemned of the rules that I couldn’t find in my bible when I realised that I didn’t have to walk through my faith, looking like the image of a Christian imprinted in the minds of others. With the bible in one hand and the Holy Spirit in my heart I could live according to the word of God and the convictions I felt in my heart.

For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17

The little rules that we argue over are somewhat irrelevant in the grand context of accepting Christ’s love and showing it to others. Let’s not have others say that Christianity is about ad-libbed rules and regulations. In my experience of God, there’s more to life than not getting tattoos or deciding to have adventurous piercings.

Live out your faith according to the way you feel led by the word of God.

Love and hugs and kisses

Dani xxx

Why I Came Out Of The Closet

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It’s 10:12pm and I have no idea why I’ve left writing this post to the last minute. I have work in the morning so I can’t even write it at 8am tomorrow (like I’ve been doing of late lol.) I’ve been tossing up potential posts in my head and none of them seem quite right. You see, this writing thing doesn’t come easily to me because I’m not actually a Writer – I am a lot of things but a Writer ….woah, easy there! Although I sometimes write plays, I never saw myself as someone who would write a blog post every week and I definitely didn’t think I would ever be writing about JESUS. It’s one thing to go to church on a Sunday morning but it is something entirely different to flood your social network site newsfeed with your blog, which tells everyone that you believe in someone you’ve never seen and can only feel, have never met but experience every single day.

How do you go about that without seeming crazy?

You don’t.

If you read my post about my atheist/agnostic phase and/or follow the blog, you will know that faith isn’t something that comes easily to me. Despite growing up in a Christian home, I only really found God during my first experience of heartbreak a couple of years ago. I have to thank God for that dark time in my life because without it, there would be no blog. During that time full of bitterness, hurt, rage and all the usual emotions one feels after their heart has been broken to pieces (lol, dramatic) I had to cling to God because I had no one else to cling to. My relationship had become my god; it was where I had invested all my time, my emotions, my energy, my heart – when it evaporated, my world stopped. I have to give God all the glory (that means ‘credit’ in Christian speak) because without Him, I’m not entirely sure what or where I would be. He literally picked me off the floor, picked up the pieces of my broken heart and pulled me back together again. The process was both painful and beautiful because I didn’t think those pieces would ever fit together again but somehow they did.

Despite this amazing victory, I didn’t really tell people about my experience, what had happened and how God had helped me overcome that period of my life. Back then I wasn’t confident in my faith and speaking candidly about this God I had only begun to experience felt a bit wild.

You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Matthew 5: 14-16

Fast forward two years and I now have this blog, which forces me to shine my light every single week. It has forced me out of the closet – I can’t hide this aspect of my life anymore because you only have to stalk my Facebook to see that I am a devout Christian (still feels weird to place myself in that category lol). I think as a Christian it is easy to pretend as though we are ‘normal’ because our faith is not often demonstrated by something that can be seen, and there isn’t anything that outwardly distinguishes us from the rest of the world. Some of us use that to our advantage and seek to remain hidden. We don’t express our faith unless we are asked direct questions about where we keep going on a Sunday morning and we often conveniently forget that our faith is to pervade all areas of our lives. We do our best to stay on the fence about issues that the Bible speaks out against because we don’t want to seem to judgmental and we try and go to all the places our friends are going to because we don’t want to seem as though we are boring. I guess in some ways, this post is for those that are struggling to admit that they’re different and are still trying to find a way to fit into this world. Your faith isn’t weird, it’s a personal relationship with your Saviour which a beautiful thing – don’t be ashamed to share that aspect of your life, it is probably the most special.

This blog has forced me to come tumbling out the closet and now I can’t go back inside. Everyone knows my secret now, everyone knows I am a die hard Christian (which still makes me chuckle a little coz I definitely don’t ‘look’ like a Christian). That pressure can be tough – it means that when the odd swear word comes tumbling out of my mouth in the presence of others, I wonder if they question my whole life/blog. It means that I can’t be the raver I once was because I don’t want to be seen as a hypocrite. It means that I find myself wondering whether the crop tops I love so much contradict the Jesus I love so much more. It means that there is now a standard that I proclaim which I now need to live by no matter how difficult I find it.

This post is also for the person who is struggling under the pressure that comes with ‘coming out’. Everyone knows you’re a Christian now and the weight of that expectation has become burdensome. Remember, even on your best day, you will still fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) whether people see you fall or not. You won’t always get it right, but God sees your heart and really does love you. God isn’t calling you to look at those around you; He is calling you to look at Him. All we can do is keep striving and try to be more than what we were yesterday.

Lots of love,

J xxxx