Tag Archives: death

My Date With Death

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Death is inevitable. One can evade taxes, but one cannot evade death. It is the one moment, the one single event, that we all have in common. Our most important encounter with death is one we will have no recollection of, however, those that love us most that will be impacted and forever changed by this departure.

Although as we grow older our meetings with death become more frequent, I do not believe for a second that these encounters will ever lose their sting. No matter how many times we encounter death, we will always be brought to our knees by it: humbled and broken as we are once again awoken from our day-to-day fairy tale. Death humbles us because it thrusts us into reality; our encounters remind us that that we are mere mortals, we are finite, we are dust, we are millions of moments held together by blood, bones and skin, here one moment and gone the next.

Last week I attended the wake of a close friend’s father. Although there were moments of light, the atmosphere was laden with pain as those who loved him most and knew him best gathered together to remember him. As I journeyed home, I began to reach out to those I loved and even now, I’m not exactly sure why I did. Perhaps I wanted to make up for the numerous missed calls/whatsapps/texts. Perhaps I wanted them to know that they were loved…and remind myself that I, too, was loved.

Life has begun to move so quickly that I often forget to hold the people I love and the moments that have moved me with both hands. I am busy, so busy, with the things that ‘matter’ that the last few months have become a blur. My encounter with death this week caused me to pause.

What did I learn?

It’s time to be a better friend

I want to be present for those I love. It’s not enough to ‘be there when you need me’, that’s a cop out. I want to make more of an effort. I want to love more than I have in the past, not just loving when I feel sociable, but also being present on the days I want to crawl into my man-cave (my bed).

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

John 13:34-35

It’s time to be a better daughter

I spend so much time running about, dipping my fingers in about 4 projects at a time that I never spend my evenings at home. My Mum accuses me of treating the house like a Bed and Breakfast. Even though I laugh it off, a conversation with my friend Flo reminded me that my parents are the most important people in the world to me. I am so privileged to be at an age where I can know my parents as individuals and appreciate the sacrifices they have made for me. Yesterday I spent the evening in my Mum’s room. We didn’t actually speak that much but she kept saying “Odo, I can’t believe you are home – this is crazy.” I think our evening together made her happy (she will deny this, of course).

What we do here matters

My Mum once said ‘we live on through those we leave behind’. When you begin each day, remember this: what you say, what you do, how you treat people, what you create and what you contribute will live on long after you are gone.

Although what we do here is of great importance, I cannot end this post without reminding you that this isn’t the end – heaven is our destination, heaven is our home. Let us live each day with Jesus Christ at the forefront of our minds and keep His word in our hearts.

Love,

Joy xx

The Day I Got Convicted of Aiding And Abetting A Crime

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I was on holiday when  I realised I should probably stop being a faithful cheerleader of Team Sin. I say a LOT of things that I wish I hadn’t but whilst on holiday (went to the lovely land of Portugal) what came out of my mouth caused me more guilt than I’ve felt in a  long while.

I was having dinner and had just met my all-time fave waitress. She was being so friendly and we really hit it off, having a good ole chit chat about love, and life, and all things in-between. Everything was going smoothly until she told me her philosophy, which started off make a whole lot of sense, (basically treat people how they treat you) but then went on to include sleeping with other guys if your partner chose to sleep with other girls.

I never really know what to do when strangers randomly bring up sex into conversation, so I panicked. We’d really hit the ground running with our blossoming ‘friendship,’ I didn’t want to be an awkward prune and show how uncomfortable I felt. The cogs in my brain started working overtime, only for me to come out with the most ill-thought out response. There we were, a stranger laying bare what she would do in the hypothetical situation of being cheated on , and I nodded approvingly and said ‘yeah you’ve got to play them at their own game.’

What does that even mean?

Why am I condoning things I know are sinful?

For the rest of the evening I couldn’t quite believe my actions. All I could imagine was Jesus wincing, as I chose to ditch my beliefs in favour of normalcy. Here’s what I learnt from my moment of madness…

1.When Jesus say no, nobody can say yes

Disclaimer: Yes I know the song goes, ‘When Jesus say yes nobody can say no’, but I think my remix holds true. We’re so used to not imposing our beliefs on others that every so often we shift  from standing on the moral fence and end up justifying actions that we know are wrong. Wrong is wrong, it’s better to give no comment than to start leading people astray. Wanting to find common ground with someone doesn’t warrant encouraging them to sin.

 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks, or the church of God. 1 Corinthians 11:32

It’s as though we categorise sin and our attitude towards it based on what religious preferences people have. This results in us voicing our disapproval amongst like-minded Christ followers and yet sometimes  encouraging sin amongst those who don’t believe. Sin is offensive to God, period. It doesn’t matter who is committing the sin,  God would rather they weren’t. This prohibits us, as people working for God, from promoting sin as a worthwhile activity. (just thought I’d add: working for God can’t really be opted out of, you get recruited to the team when you give your life to Christ and you don’t get fired even when you’re bad at your job)

2.It doesn’t have to be dog eat dog

Most of us know that we are each judged by our own sin.

Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin. Deuteronomy 24:16.

Knowledge of this and scriptures like these has lead us to the point where its every man for himself in the struggle to; sin not, only believe. But that’s not the way it should be. I’ve spoken about our duty to help one another as brothers and sisters in Christ before, but whether people are Christian or not,  our interest in wanting to see them live right isn’t diminished. I firmly believe that soapbox evangelism might not be  a 24/7 activity, however our duty to evangelise, in general, is constant.

I remember when I first developed a passion to serve Christ. I was so consumed with the love of God and wanting others to experience that love, that I used to set myself targets of seeing people get saved that month. As I’ve matured I’ve learnt that being a fisher of men doesn’t actually come down to hard numbers, but you can see that my heart was in the right place. You are not saved so you can live a comfortable life in isolation, and everyone around you can perish. If you really believed in the Good News you claim, you’d want others to hear about it also. I don’t think it’s about finding a megaphone, God doesn’t operate on ‘who shouts the loudest must love him the most’, but it’s about finding opportunities to share what you believe.

3. Sin = death

Hold your horses before you start hyperventilating. There’s sin, and there’s sin. No there isn’t a hierarchy of sin; lying to your parents, murder, robbery, is the same in God’s eyes. However there’s sin: the things you do that are displeasing to God, and there’s sin: not accepting Christ as saviour. So you can breathe a little, we live under grace, there isn’t a gun being aimed at you every time you make a mistake: with repentance comes forgiveness etc, but that doesn’t mean we have nothing to be concerned about. I’m probably going to sound really radical in what I’m about to say so maybe you should sit down for this next bit if you aren’t already sitting.

Accepting Christ is the only ticket to heaven. It’s probably not going to spark the most friendliest of conversations at a dinner party, and it may not be the line to open with when meeting new people, but it is the truth.  The majority of you reading will live in religious pluralist societies in which, thankfully, we’ve all learnt to live together despite our differing faiths. However, being able to accommodate for someone else’s beliefs doesn’t take away the truth of the statement above. The reason that we can’t just chillax because we’ve been fortunate enough to find Christ is that a large number (billions of people in the world) haven’t yet. That doesn’t just mean they don’t get to enjoy how beautiful a life with Christ at the centre can be, it means that life after death, isn’t so rosy either. We often forget that deciding to turn from sin to Christ is a matter of life and death,  but I hope this will be the gentle reminder we all need to start taking sin seriously.

Don’t be like me, wanting to appear as ‘normal’ as possible that you encourage people in their sinful actions. Sin might be packaged in a juicy love affair or seemingly justified revenge, but it doesn’t change the facts. Sin’s may not always be criminal offences in the lands in which we all live, but they are as good as to God.

Loving ya longtime,

Dani xxxx

The Day I Accepted Death

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Given up/giving up/considering throwing the towel? I’m going to tell you about the day I gave up on life and hopefully you’ll realise that you don’t have to.

I remember this day so vividly, I’d accepted that I was going to die and I  was wholeheartedly at peace with the situation. There wasn’t a huge evaluation about  the pros and cons of my life where I’d decided that there was no point in living any longer, I just didn’t have any fight left in me and I wasn’t ashamed to hold my hands up to my fate.

So let me set the scene. I’m 8 and I’m on a trip with the Brownies…

(I’ll deal with your questions now)

“You gave up on life at 8?! Are you going to tell us a heart-wrenching story about an abuse-filled childhood that’s going to bring me to tears”.

No! you don’t have to brace yourselves for heartache

 “What’s the Brownies?

If you don’t know about the Brownies, I can confidently say: You missed out bro! (Bro in the generic non-gender specific sense of the word, because if you are a boy you missed out on Brownies by default.)  Brownies is this ultra-cool club, full of talented  young women with bright futures ahead of them who liase every week about how to craft their futures. Okay, that might be a slightly embellished description.  All you need to know is that Brownies was fun, we played games, sang campfire songs, and every so often went on field trips. On the day in question ( where I nearly let life slip through my fingers) we just happened to be on one of these field trips.

(I hear your sigh of relief) yes I have finally started telling the story.

So picture 8 year old Dani, just about to step off the coach and enter the Kids Dream (for parents who weren’t about to buy a ticket to Disneyland )AKA Guilford Spectrum. For those who haven’t just had a sudden influx of memories about their great times at Guilford Spectrum, I shall explain. Guilford Spectrum, is an all singing all dancing, land of fun where you can swim, bowl, and go ice-skating all under one roof. Today we were there to swim. Only problem was…  I couldn’t swim. Brown Owl (the big boss lady in Charge) was stood at the front of the coach and was asking for anybody who couldn’t swim to raise their hand. You can imagine my horror. So many things were running through my head.

Should I confess?

Why is she only asking this now?

I’m not about to be embarrassed in front of all my clique and admit I can’t stay afloat

Maybe if I confess, I won’t get to go in the pool

Ok, decision made, I’m staying silent.

We’re all faced with those crossroads in our lives where we have to make life-changing decisions. Little did I know that I had just come into contact with my first crossroad.

Can I just say now that I wasn’t a complete disgrace? I’d stand in shallow end and move my arms and legs in a swimming-esque fashion and so I at least looked like I was swimming. Everything was fine until I got brave. I think I was having such a good time I’d forgotten that I was living a lie, and this ability to swim was yet within my reach.

This is when disaster struck.

I was standing in the middle of the pool, not quite deep, but far enough away from the shallow end to be resting on the tip of my tip-toes. We were having a blast, the wave machine came on, and I had actually begun to fall in love with this swimming thing. I was just about keeping my head above water, when out of nowhere someone nudged me into the deep end. I didn’t quite know what was happening until the horror of not being able to touch the bottom of the pool with my toes set in. For a split second I thought ‘wow, maybe this is it, maybe I’m swimming,’ but when I looked up and realised the water was above my head, that’s when it hit me that this wasn’t swimming, I was drowning…

Of course I was practical at first. I allowed myself to sink all the way to the bottom so I could kick off with some momentum and hopefully reach the top. Plan settled and put into action. I was kicking with all the energy I could muster, only then I realised my feet could take me no further and the waves were still above my head. I tried not to panic. I thought second time lucky, and I’ll be ok. So again sunk and pushed off from the pool floor, battling to get to the top. Still no success. As I looked up at the ceiling of water that I couldn’t quite break through, and my lungs burned in my chest, in that very moment I gave up.

This is it.

Today you’re going to die, and that’s ok.

I was so at peace with everything. I had tried and failed, and just patiently waited for death, until I felt two arms envelope me and drag me out of the water. As I resurfaced spluttering and and gulping in the air I had been deprived, I couldn’t quite believe my luck. I was going to die that day, I was so close to it, and yet no, Brown Owl had come to my rescue, giving me the second chance I had completely given up upon.

So many of us can use my swimming experience as a metaphor for our lives . Let’s imagine the coach trip part symbolises the time just after we gave our lives to Christ, or even just a time where our relationships with Jesus felt amazing. Everyday feels like an opportunity to basque in his presence and the devil gets so sick of watching us enjoy, he decides to dangle a decision in our faces. I knew I couldn’t swim, I knew I had no place being in a pool but I wanted to have fun so badly, I let that cloud my better judgement. So back to us, temptation has just been dangled in our faces, but we’ve convinced ourselves that somehow we won’t be affected by the environment we’re allowing ourselves to enter. I don’t know what your vices were when you got saved but let’s imagine its getting drunk. For you, jumping in the pool would be the first time you step into a bar after you’ve made the decision that you’re not going to fall off the wave again (fall of the wave= get drunk and have to repent.) At first I was having a whale of a time, everything was going smoothly, and so are you; everyone is drinking around you, and you still have your wits about you as you’re sipping on your second drink. It wasn’t until I got nudged that my world came crashing down. For you, I guess this would be that one drink too many that sucks you from the land of sober and you arrive in the land of drunk. You might not be falling over, but you know that you have completely lost control and your heart sinks as you realised you’ve failed.

Too many of us are happily living in the moment where I settled as I patiently waited for death. You’ve tried to stop sinning, you feel like you’ve made every effort and yet you just can’t seem to break through into living righteously, so you assume God is done with you, and wait for death.  To everyone that is drowning, hear me out; it’s not over. Your purpose doesn’t end when you make a mistake, or even continue making them. The day sin stops ruling your life is the day you accept that you can’t live right without God. It’s only by his grace that righteous living becomes our day-to-day. You’re so used to living below the bar God has set for us that you’re at peace with it, but God is just waiting for you to change the attitude in your heart so he can envelope you in his love and drag you out of where you are, into where he’s called you to be.

No matter how bleak it is, until you breathe your last: it’s not over

I believe Brown Owl dragged me out because my purpose on this Earth hadn’t yet been fulfilled. Even if you feel like you’ll never be able to come out of the sins you’ve been committing, you must not give up. As long as you have a purpose, you have a reason to fight for the life God wants you to have.

Your God is faithful (1Thessalonians 5:24) and it’s not over.

Love ya

Dani xxxx

Ruth 4: Is ‘Happily Ever After’ Possible?

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Dani said

First of all we can see that Boaz is honouring his word. He told Ruth that he would ask the other relative if he wanted to redeem what belonged to Elimelech, and that’s exactly what he did. Some people go as far to say that your word is everything you have but what the Bible says is that life and death is in the power of the tongue. Words are so powerful and we can all follow in Boaz’s example and commit to being accountable to the words that come out of our mouths.

Mathew 5:37

But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’

The second thing I learnt was that just because things seem like they’re going wrong, doesn’t mean it’s not going to be a happy ending. God works all things out for the good of those that love him (Romans 8:28). When the relative Boaz asked said ‘YES’, my reaction was ‘WHAT?!?! What do you mean yes??? This isn’t how the story is meant to go!’ It’s crazy when you know how something ends but you still get worried at the bumps in the road and twists and turns of the plot.

News flash: God said he was going to give you everlasting life. You already know how your life ends up, so why are you getting scared by the things that don’t go as planned?

Finally, I learnt not to dismiss the things that others label irrelevant. In verse 15, Naomi was told by the village women that Ruth was better for her than 6 sons. For the comment to be made just goes to show that women were dismissed in terms of their ability to provide. The fact that God uses Naomi is testament to the fact that dismissal is unwise. God can use anyone and anything to bring about your breakthrough. Stop dismissing the answer to your prayers because it’s not packaged the way you thought it would be.

 Joy said

Ruth 4: 3-6

And Boaz said to the family redeemer, “You know Naomi, who came back from Moab. She is selling the land that belonged to our relative Elimelech.  I thought I should speak to you about it so that you can redeem it if you wish. If you want the land, then buy it here in the presence of these witnesses. But if you don’t want it, let me know right away, because I am next in line to redeem it after you.”

The man replied, “All right, I’ll redeem it.”

Then Boaz told him, “Of course, your purchase of the land from Naomi also requires that you marry Ruth, the Moabite widow. That way she can have children who will carry on her husband’s name and keep the land in the family.”

“Then I can’t redeem it,” the family redeemer replied, “because this might endanger my own estate. You redeem the land; I cannot do it.”

Can you hear the change in tone too?

At first, our dear, old, nameless friend is more than happy to redeem the land and enlarge his estate, but once it becomes clear that it will endanger his own inheritance, he backs away so quickly, he might as well have disappeared off the page. Although that was meant to be a joke (I’m pretty sure none of you laughed) I would like to highlight that this man was not named in the text; he was merely the hurdle that Boaz had to jump over to get to Ruth. This man almost falls through the cracks of history, his role becoming insignificant and in many ways, forgotten by many.

Similar to (I’ve even forgotten her name..) P…P…(I’m going to have to google her name – oh the IRONY!) Orpah… (That’s her name -woops) who we explored in Ruth 1, they both had an opportunity to become an integral part of biblical history and but they both failed to take hold of the blessing with both hands because they couldn’t see it – they lacked foresight. Had this man known how God’s hand was upon Ruth, working things out for her good and ordering her steps, he would have surely looked upon his inheritance and realised that it paled in comparison to the blessings of God. This is a lesson to us all. Let us not become obsessed with what was is currently in our hands because God always has more for his people. We never know how one choice will change the course of our lives so we must make decisions in light of the God that we serve, his desire to bless us and the way he uses the most unlikely situations to do so.

Ruth: the love story

The story of Ruth is beautiful love story. Although it doesn’t have the singing in the rain, the candles, the bed of roses and the great declaration of love Disney films have taught us to long for, this story speaks of true love, a love that transcends time and gender. May God bless us with people like Ruth who will be willing to walk with us when life backs us into a corner and threatens to take the very things we have held closest to our hearts.

Life will not be easy – there are still moments of pain and joy (awkward pun) that we are yet to experience and these moments cannot be avoided. My prayer is that I will be like Ruth and stick around when things are going badly for those around me. I will not leave; instead, I will carry those that I love until they are in a place where their hearts are once again filled with love and laughter. My prayer is that we will also find our Boaz, not just in love, but also in ministry, in our workplaces, in our friendships. Not everyone will see and appreciate who we are and what we can offer but our Boaz will see past the physical and look at our hearts; they will see our intentions and seek to protect us.

It took me a long time to grasp the overwhelming and unfailing love of God because it goes beyond everything I know to be true of the concept of love. For the most part, love exists upon conditions and requirements – once we fail to meet those requirements, the love is snatched away or given in lesser proportions. The love of God does not exist in this way; it is unconditional, unchanged by my actions. There is nothing I can do to make God love me any more and there is nothing I can do to make God love me any less. This love manifests itself in many ways and here I believe we see a perfect example of God’s perfect love. When we met Ruth, all that surrounded her was death, poverty and long-suffering and yet by of chapter 4, Ruth is married with a child and Naomi is a grandmother, something she initially thought was impossible.

I believe that love has the power to bring life to seemingly dead situations and this is exactly what we witness here. Where there was once death, there is only life and Ruth’s love for Naomi carries them to the end of their story together.

Thank you so much for reading with us, we hope you learnt as much as we did!

All our love,

Dani & Joy xxxx

 

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

Ruth 3: The Art Of Marriage Requests

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Dani said

Some background info for y’all:

Boaz was Ruth’s guardian redeemer. That meant that it was his responsibility to protect the interests of needy family members, redeem land that poor relatives had sold, and amongst other duties, the closest male relative was supposed to marry the widow. What stands out here is that Ruth asks for more than she (by law) deserves. When Ruth requests marriage by carrying out the instructions as given by Naomi, Ruth asks Boaz for more than he is obligated to do. We learn this when Boaz says v12-13 that there is another more closely related to her than he is and that he will first ask him first if he wants to carry out his guardian-redeemer duties.

This chapter is really all about entitlement and we can learn a lot from Ruth.

1. If you don’t know what you’re entitled to, you won’t be able to request it. V9 she says: ‘Spread the corner of your garment over me since you are a guardian redeemer of our family.’

If more of us knew what God had already promised us, we wouldn’t be comfortable accepting the hardships and ‘realities’ of life. I’m not saying that being a child of God will mean a life without suffering, I am saying that when there’s no food left in the fridge and the cupboards are looking bare, it’s time to remind God that his name is Jehovah Jireh and therefore is your provider. Life and death is in the power of the tongue, so we have to start speaking life into all our seemingly dead situations. Even something as frequent as the common cold, at the first sign of a blocked nose I’m there confessing scriptures and demanding my healing-ain’t nobody got time to be sick! He said his grace is sufficient to supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19), so stop accepting the situation and start claiming what you deserve. If you can’t ask for what you’re entitled to, how will you have the courage to believe for your heart’s desires?

2. Don’t be ashamed to ask for more.

Watching Oliver Twist puts most children off of being cheeky and encourages us to just accept what we’ve been given.(I think I was part of the minority because I have memories of a LOT of second helpings as a child #ChubbyCheeksDontMakeThemselve.) For all those who are part of the majority; NEWSFLASH: you serve a God who says he will do exceedingly above all that you could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). If that’s not encouragement to ask for the outlandish then I don’t know what is. Those who don’t ask don’t get, and miracles don’t just fall into people’s laps. Before Christ healed people he asked them what it was they actually wanted. The woman with the issue of blood actively reached out to touch the hem of Christ’s garment. You can be sweet and polite and manage what you have or you can be bold and call forth the things that be not as though they were (Romans 4:17). If you want it, go get it.

 3. Fake it till you make it.

When Naomi was telling Ruth to dress up and smell good v3, it wasn’t to make Boaz lust after her, but because that’s the preparation that brides underwent. Ruth was seeking after marriage so she prepared herself as a bride. I think a lot of us are just waiting to receive what we’re praying for. Try something new and act like you already have it. If you want a job, stop leaving the house dressed like you’re unemployed and hopeless. You may not ‘feel’ like it but when did going with our feelings ever seem like the best motto to live by. God knows I rarely ‘feel’ like going to Uni, but missing all my lectures and classes does seem like a sure path to failure, if not a waste of £3.5 thousand a year.

So, in a nutshell Ruth shows us to; know what you’re allowed, ask for what you want, and act like you’ve already got it.

Joy said

Ruth 3:1 One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for.

Naomi did not take what Ruth has done for granted. Ruth stayed with her, and worked to provide for the both of them. Others may have kept Ruth a prisoner and exploited her loyalty and kindness, however Nai wishes to find Ruth a home so that she will be provided for. I guess this taught me that there is a way to treat those that have been merciful to you. Do not forget who carried you through your storm and do your best to bless them when the opportunity arises.

Ruth 3:5 “I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied.

Don’t get me wrong, this is great response. Ruth is a listener and she trusts Naomi to the point that she takes whatever Naomi says and does it with her whole heart. This works out for her in the end and God blesses Ruth abundantly.

 HOWEVER.

Should you do everything an elder tells you to do? Imagine if Naomi had said “go and sleep with Boaz tonight and secure your man properly”, I’m pretty sure Ruth would have said “sure thing Mama Nai Nai, your wish is my command”. Not in those words, of course, but you get my drift (well I hope you do). It is so important to seek the counsel of women and men of God who are rich in experience because they can inform and better the choices that we make. However, in this modern age, we have access to God through prayer. We don’t have to make elaborate sacrifices and kill a goat, cow or young dove before we approach him with our thoughts, concerns and questions; that time has passed. We don’t have to rely on the Christian elder for everything because we have access!

I’m not saying every little thing you must get on your knees and consult God about i.e. your mum says go and shower and you decide to seek God first about it. No, that’s a little extreme and my belief is that God wants us to think for ourselves otherwise he would have made us robots without the ability to make choices. But I do believe that God wants us to seek his face, his will and his counsel before we seek advise from those around us. If someone tells us to go lay at a man’s feet or I guess now it would be “go and tell Barry that you two are destined to be together” it is your job to seek your Father in heaven first before you act. Obeying every elderly person you trust can be a dangerous path to walk because while their intentions may be pure and their experience priceless, they won’t always know what is best for you. The Bible says “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” and I honestly think that is the best thing to do – always.

Piece xx

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.