Tag Archives: grace

The Day I Got Burgled In My Sleep

  
Waking up, still half asleep I was 50% sure I’d heard a sound and 50% too tired to worry. Some time passed it could have been a minute, it could have been 20 (you know how sleep works) and whilst being too timid to investigate, I was 100% on the verge of wetting the bed so I dragged myself up and headed to the bathroom, only to be stopped in my tracks by a definite sound…one not being made by an inanimate object or being made by the only two other people that should have been in the apartment as they were fast asleep. Looking through the bedroom door that was ajar I could see the front door to the apartment that we had locked before bed was also ajar. That was probably one of the most scary moments I’ve ever been faced with. I woke up my friends and headed to the bathroom, with the single thought that if I was going to be killed it would be with the dignity that didn’t involve wee running down my legs. 

After my friends went to check the coast was clear we discovered whoever had entered had thankfully left, leaving the backdoor wide open. Hours later we realised we were an iPad and all of my holiday money down. All the plans I had for that money stolen and replaced with the prospect of spending more money than I’d budgeted on the break that, up until this point, had been amazing. I will backtrack a little so you can have a better picture of the events.

My last holiday was full of the unexpected, in every single sense, with a mix of good and bad surprises. I booked a flight to see my maid of honour who decided to exchange the gloomy grey of London for the concrete jungle that is New York for the year, and prepared myself for 5 days of sleeping, a spot of sightseeing and some regular exercising. What I received was a surprise that my other best friend had also arrived in New York and news that we were headed to Miami for part 1 of 3 of my hen do. Yes I have the best friends ever and yes I’m on the edge of my seat for parts 2 and 3. We had three days of sun, never-ending portions of seafood and celeb spotting as we found ourselves in VIP lounges. The flight to Miami I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be going to Miami with everything organised behind my back and the flight to New York was spent not believing I had been robbed right under my nose, but apart from cash loss had left unscathed. Getting over the anger of being robbed, the gratitude that I still had all 10 fingers and toes and hadn’t had the near death experience that are known to come with break-ins. 

Imagine I’d awoken whilst the intruder had been in the bedroom and they’d decided killing me would stop them getting caught

Imagine they were after more than just monetary goods and had decided to take us hostage with hope of a ransom fee

Imagine they didn’t want to steal at all but commit a heinous sex attack

In that moment I praised God that I had been robbed, alive to tell the tale, and not too traumatised by the events. 

Is anyone a fan of the comedian Eddie Izzard? I personally don’t really tune in to his comedy, but he said something recently at the Apollo that had me squirming in the inside, cracking my brain as to how to change his opinion that undoubtedly many people all over the world share.

In the words of a true sceptic he asked the audience ‘when has God ever done anything to interfere with all the natural disasters and crappy things this world has suffered?’ (I’m paraphrasing here) but you get the gist. If you studied Religious Studies at school you’ll recognise this as as the anti-God triangle argument against Christ, which basically says the existence of evil and suffering in the world isn’t compatible with the existing of a God that is all-knowing, all-powerful and ever-present. After hearing Eddie I had the same thoughts and feelings I’d had sitting in my RS lesson wondering what I was going to have for dinner.

Just because you don’t know the things God has done, don’t assume he hasn’t done anything at all

This very morning a man gave up his seat before an elderly lady got on the bus. She offered no thank you because she didn’t know that he was standing just so she could have seat, and the man felt no need to tell her, simply happy that he had done something nice for her. If mere mortals can offer altruism with no desire for gratitude how much more can God happily stand in the gap for us, happy to know that we are better off than we could have been without writing in the clouds to say all the near misses with misfortune we had that day.

I thank God for the things I know he’s done and the things that I’m completely unaware of.

To my God who watches out for me, regardless of my gratitude, I love you!
Love Dani
X

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 Racked Up A Million Pound Debt

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I have never really fully understood the concept of credit cards. I think it’s a bit strange that we live in a society that pretty much depends on credit and as citizens we are even encouraged to avoid purchasing items with our hard earned cash and pushed towards spending with the bank hand outs if we ever want to have a good enough credit rating to buy life’s necessities like a house. Strange. The amount of people I know that have to put all their monthly outgoings on their credit cards just to pay it all back at the end of the month makes me question the long winded way of spending that we’ve become accustomed to just because everyone else is doing it.

I’m not too sure if it’s the possibility of spending money that you don’t have that grinds my gears or the fact that now you owe someone something, but the concept of owning my own credit card has always left a funny taste in my mouth. I’m a big believer in living according to your means and not having to ask for outside help in order to support a level of extravagance that you don’t need. Every time I slip into overdraft I can’t shake the ‘I’m living in debt feeling’ which rests on the annoyance I feel for not being able to make it through the whole month on my own wage.

Maybe it’s the inability to be self reliant that underpins it all. I rarely include people in my plan for doing something and generally will only ask for help once I’ve exhausted all the options where I can complete the task myself. It’s probably driven by a smidgen of pride and a double dosage of lack of trust for people but the thought of having to rely on someone for something I need doing doesn’t fill me with faith that I want will come to pass.

Every year when good Friday comes around however, my sentiments to living a life on credit slip away as I realise how indebted I am to my Lord Jesus Christ. We literally lived a sin filled life before we came to acknowledge that so many years ago Christ came to take all that on the cross with him, crucified for the sins he hadn’t committed. With the penalty of sin being death and the fact that we wake up every day living by the grace of God, every day breathing is living on borrowed time.

It’s astounding when you think about it. Just how great God is and just many I owe you ones we’d have to write for what Christ did for us. Words can’t really express how grateful I am for the love of God and the expression of it that gives us a yearly Good Friday.

My father, I thank you.

Your loving daughter,

Daniela x

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

What I Learnt: Hallowed Be Thy Names

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Why I chose this book

I was quite excited to read this book because I hoped that it would positively impact my prayer life. There are times where I just want to praise God for who he is and remind him of all his amazing attributes and…well, I can’t, simply because I don’t know enough of them. Does anyone else ever run out of things to say?

I also think it is important to remind God of who he is (not because he forgets) but because it increases our faith and belief, especially in times of great difficulty.

5 things I learnt 

1. Know God

We can know someone’s name and have very little knowledge about who they are. Some of us claim to be Christians but know God on a very basic level and are yet to explore what the Bible says about his nature, his characteristics and his personality. I think a lack of understanding concerning the character of God can have harmful consequences such as stunted growth and limited expectations of him.

If we do not know that God is Jehovah Jireh, our provider, what will we do when we are in times of financial difficulty? Will we call upon God and remind of who he is or will we crumble under the financial weight? If we do not know that God is El Shaddai (all-sufficient), how we will ever shift our focus from our own weakness, powerlessness and failures, to his ability to keep us, teach us and make a way for us in the wilderness?

I think this book once again highlighted the necessity of reading the Bible every single day and being in relentless pursuit of God. At the beginning of my relationship with God, a prayer a day was absolutely fine but that is no longer sufficient given the time that has passed. If you are still where you were when you first started your journey with God, I think it is perhaps time to reflect on what you actually desire from your relationship with him and what he desires from you. Every day is an opportunity for growth and we shouldn’t let these opportunities pass us by.

2. Problems can be good for you

It is only in the past year that I have come to appreciate the problems and trials that I face. Being a Christian doesn’t excuse me from life’s pains but it does give me access to an amazing pain-reliever. When we look back on our lives in years to come, our most remembered moments will be the ones of pain, the moments where we felt like we had nothing more to give but managed to somehow survive. Hallowed Be Thy Names continuously reminds the reader that it is in the most difficult and trying times of our lives that God gives us a revelation about who he is and a fresh view of his character and power towards us. In order to overcome the challenges we face in our lives, we have to have a deep-rooted belief that our steps are ordered, leaving no room for accidents, good/bad luck and coincidences; everything happens for a reason and ultimately for our good.

3. Are you angry with God?

Some of you are angry with God in this very moment and this anger is linked to moment in your past where you feel God failed you.

God, you said you were going to help me but all I felt was loneliness

God, you said you keep my loved ones safe, but the person I loved the most died

God, you said no weapon formed against me would prosper and yet every single day I wake up sick

You wanted God to come through for you but he didn’t. He let those bad things happen to you and knowledge of this constantly overrides your love for him and your desire to seek him. Whenever you begin to get comfortable with God you remind yourself of that intense pain he failed to shield you from, retract and question his existence all over again. All you can think is “well you let THIS happen” and “where were YOU when I felt like this”.

It wasn’t until I read this that I realised that I also had some issues with God. I had to admit those issues God and ask him where he had been during some of the hardest times in my life. I can’t tell you where He was during your storm but as I looked back on those hard and dark years, I realised that God was there. Even though I felt isolated and alone during those years, the fact that I am still standing today, free from the issues that once held me captive, is evidence of God’s love and presence. He didn’t leave then and come back a few years later; he was always there.

4. It is not enough to just acknowledge your sins

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

Romans 3:23

I sin. You sin. We sin.

But are we still moved by our sins? Have we become desensitised to the magnitude of our actions? Yes, we cry out to God and repent but the very next day, we are back to the very thing we asked God to save us from. How genuine is our cry of repentance if we return to the sin? The more we engage with the sin, the less convicted we will feel and eventually it will feel as though the sin isn’t even ‘that bad’. If we hold onto our sin we will eventually forsake God and be given over to our lusts. God will send warnings but eventually we will move so far away that we will no longer be able to hear his voice. We need to daily cut sin away from our lives and fight the desire to do that which we know is wrong.

5. Grace over wrath

The wrath of God isn’t as fun to talk about as the love of God, is it? As Christians, when we fail to speak about the wrath of God, it’s like giving the listener the best ice cream in the world but not warning them about brain freeze. We want to sell them his love but not warn them of his wrath; in doing so we fail to fully encapsulate the nature of God.

God is merciful, kind, patient, compassionate, full of love and grace

BUT

God is also holy, just, pure, severe, unchangeable, a despiser of sin and no respecter of persons.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them

Romans 1:18-19

 

Would I read the book again?

To be honest, I wouldn’t. I do love how much I am learning as Dani and I go through books and write about them and I am finding that each book has something to offer. This book I felt had too much opinion and I found the author quite conservative.  Despite this, it increased my desire to learn more about the nature of God and I will be reading more about this subject in the weeks ahead.

Lots of loving,

J xxxx

 

Oscar Pistorious: Affluent. Role Model. Murderer?

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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