Tag Archives: honesty

Why I Stopped Talking To God

Lonely woman

It’s not very ‘Christian’ to admit that you stopped talking to God, is it? I wonder if any of you will admit the times you’ve had to just walk away from God for a minute because you just couldn’t understand why life kept dropping bombs on you. There are situations that occur that bring our worlds to a standstill and while we’re trying to hold ourselves together, other parts of our lives begin to fall apart.

Have you ever asked God “WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?” We don’t often talk about those moments that occur during our Christian Walk, (the questions, the angst and the fear) because they’re not as attractive as the relentless faith we are supposed to exhibit and the lifting of hands in worship, but life throws too many unexpected events my way to not have asked God why he is allowing certain things to happen to me. It has be a crazy year, an expect-the-unexpected-kinda-year and I have done my best to ‘keep the faith’ and ‘pray no matter how I feel’ but I think this week it all became too much and I didn’t connect to my Source. Despite knowing that in the moments where I feel most hurt and angry, I should run back to God, not run away, this time my feet wouldn’t move, my hands refused to turn the pages of His word and my heart stopped beating for him.

 The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!”

“Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.

Judges 6:12-13

When I read the response from Gideon this morning, I thought, “finally, someone asking the questions that I’ve been asking God!” His question was respectful, genuine but completely honest– if the Lord was truly on their side, why were they oppressed, abandoned and homeless?

I’m sure some of you have been in a tough season and asked God some real questions:

 Why?

How?

Where are you?

What are you doing?

Why me?

What have I done to deserve this?

I sat with the above questions longer than I sat with God this week because I couldn’t bring myself to admit how disappointed I was in Him. I also knew in my heart I knew I had no right to be disappointed. This was the same God that had allowed me to walk through beautiful seasons that I was also undeserving of so what right did I have to be disappointed?

Although walking away was illogical, I had more questions than I had answers and I needed time. In hindsight, the distance I put between God and I was a mistake because He was the only person that could have healed me, saved me and kept my irrational thoughts at bay.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

I think I forgot that being a Christian didn’t mean that my life was going to be flowers, sunsets, giant teddy bears and ‘happily ever afters’. My belief in God did not excuse me from the pains of life. The only difference between those with faith in God and those that do not believe is that when we face our problems we have God on our side; our faith alone does not exempt us from pain and sorrow. Through the trials and tribulations that we face, we are able to experience something new of God, a side of Him that we otherwise may not have encountered. It takes being poor to see God as our provider, it takes being sick to see Him as our healer and it takes heartbreak for Him to be revealed as our comforter. It has never been said that this journey would be easy, but it does say that His grace is sufficient for me and that His power works best when I am weak (2 Corinthians 12:9). I shouldn’t be afraid when I reach the end of myself because that is where God can begin.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

I’m still here with my questions, my disappointment and my pain; faith in my strongest moments and fear in my weaker ones. But I am also here accepting that God knows what is best for me (Isaiah 55:9) and He will always bring things together for my good (Romans 8:28).

I am learning what it means to be dependent on God. He is my security, He is my everything, He is my source. There is no walking away.

I am learning what I meant when I surrendered my will and asked him to take control of my life.

Learning that just because I want something to happen doesn’t mean it will and just because I don’t want something to happen doesn’t mean it won’t.

Learning how important it is to trust God.

Learning that I need to read my bible even when I don’t want to. I need to pray even when I don’t have the words.

Learning that I can run away from my problems or run through them with God.

Learning that even though I’m not as strong as I’d like to be, I’m not as weak as I thought I was.

Learning how to speak again. To connect with Him. Apologising for my absence. Admitting how lost I am without Him. Asking for forgiveness. Learning how to pray in hope and faith once more.

I am learning.

Joy x

My Dad Was A Pastor…I Was An Atheist

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My Dad was ordained as a Pastor the year I was born so my earliest memories are of him preaching to hundreds of people about the grace of God and the love of Jesus Christ. I have grown up watching him teach, preach and do his best to share the love of Jesus with everyone he comes into contact with. I could honestly write this whole post about how great my Dad is because he is my hero; he was the first person who showed me what Jesus could potentially look like and through his love and instantaneous forgiveness no matter what I did (and I’ve done some pretty bad things) I grew up having a firm understanding of the love of Jesus Christ.  Love you Dad! (He doesn’t read my blog so won’t even see this mushy introduction – awkward.)

Despite his consistency, relentless pursuit of God and being a model Christian, my questions regarding our faith in God began around the age of 13. “Daddy, how do you know Jesus is real?” “Daddy, are you sure?” were questions I would ask him regularly. I was in church every week and I was half listening to the preaching and although at times it made sense, there was one underlying obstacle that I kept encountering: How do we know that this is real? How do we know that God even exists? This could all be a lie! I would look around my church while everyone else was worshipping and often feel isolated and lost because everyone was ‘in the spirit’ but me. If I kept missing this spirit, how could it really exist?

My questions continued to grow and the fear that I was believing a really amazing fairytale became greater than my faith. I asked those around me what their thoughts were on Jesus and I got unhelpful and opaque answers:

Me: how do you know Jesus is real?

Friend: He just is!

Me: I’m sorry, what? How does that help me?

Friend: You just have to believe

Me: SORRY, CAN’T YOU HEAR ME? THAT IS THE PART I’M HAVING TROUBLE WITH

My heart grew cold, I switched off during the service and my life stopped reflecting the Christ that I once believed to be true. It was as though this belief in Christ was a club that I just couldn’t join. I wanted so desperately to believe but I couldn’t believe in something I couldn’t see so I simply stopped believing all together.

I don’t know when exactly my belief in God returned. I didn’t wake up one morning and suddenly have all the answers I had searched for during my teenage years. All I remember having were pockets of faith here and there, prayers now and again and life shaking events that brought me to my knees and caused me to run back my default setting – belief in a higher power. There was a need to believe that my pain would one day make sense and that it could not last forever; that need kept me searching. Although I actively sought all the answers to the questions I once had, one day I had to accept that I would never obtain the answers that I longed for.

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them,“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

Mark 10:15

Children aren’t cynical, they ask questions to gain knowledge and to increase their understanding, not to disprove your argument. This scripture says that we have to become like them. Children ask questions but more easily accept the response; there is no pride, just innocence and a willingness to trust that what is being said is true. When they are told that the answer may be beyond them or the answer is yet to be discovered, they accept that too. I had placed my own limitations on God – he couldn’t do the things the Bible said he had done simply because I couldn’t imagine them happening and because I could not conceive them in my own mind, they simply couldn’t be true. But to be honest there are many things I cannot imagine that happen all around the world every single day and my disbelief or ignorance doesn’t make these occurrences any less real.

The honest answer to the question “how do you know that God exists?” is that I will never truly know. I will never be 100% sure that God exists because I have never met him face-to-face in the way that I’ve met other humans. I have, however, had very real, life-changing encounters with him and I can only point you to the broken person I used to be and show you who I have become in the hope that you will see and believe in him also. People from my past don’t recognise who I am now and at times, I don’t either. I am different because of him.

To the Christian having trouble explaining to people why you believe in a God that you cannot see but can only feel, I implore you to connect people with your experiences with God, not just your faith in him. Sometimes as Christians we want to show people the finished product but we don’t want them to see  the wounds that lie underneath our clothes which speak of the battles we had to face in order to become the person the world now sees. Our scars are important and our stories make our faith make sense to someone who simply cannot fathom the depths of our belief. My story speaks of car crashes, heartbreak and hours in A&E wondering if I was going to live or die -and that’s only the last four years! You may not believe that your story is dramatic or glamorous enough, and it may not be the rags-to-riches story-stand-up-on-the pulpit-and-everyone-cries-because-you’re-such-an-overcomer type of story but it is yours. Your story is the reason you have faith so be brave enough to share it and be strong enough to keep believing despite the questions you may still have. We will always have questions but the beauty of God is that he can handle them.

Have a beautiful weekend,

Joy xxxxx

Why Instagram Is Ruining Your Life

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

Okay, let’s get started.


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Welcome.

 

You have been living in the Comparison Zone

 

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

Rule #1: Look around instead of looking ahead

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

1 Samuel 18:6-8

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

My main gripes with the Comparison Zone are as follows:

1. We started differently

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

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

2. No two destinies are the same

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

 

 

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

Philippians 3:14

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

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

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

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

Joyyyy xxxxxx

How To Stop Feeling Lonely

loneliness

 

The saying “no man is an island” is a phrase I’ve often heard and one that is usually used to evidence our need for human interaction. As a society, we have accepted that to be alone is to be lonely, making it taboo to go the cinema alone or eat alone in a restaurant. For some, the very thought of engaging in social activities alone is enough to make them sweat, while others do it as an act of defiance, determined to prove that they cannot be moulded by society.  If you’re one of those “I can eat alone, don’t need nobody” types, that’s cool – more power to you. But if you go to a restaurant alone and speak to your friends on Whatsapp while you eat and tweet about amazing your dining experience as it is happening then….

The truth is, we like to have people around us, physically, or more recently via mediums such as BBM, Whatsapp and Twitter, which can give the illusion of company if even we are alone. We speak on the phone during short walks from the station; our eyes are glued to our iPhone screens as we cross busy roads, and we engage in frivolous conversation without realising how much time we are actually expending. It is as though our generation are unable to enjoy a moment without feeling the need to share it with people who aren’t there. Unfortunately, we spend more time trying to capture moments than we do experiencing them.

I think the problem with being constantly connected is that when there is no one around, we begin to feel lonely. Not the cute lonely like “aw, I wish Jeff was here” (there is no Jeff, just a random name I thought of lol) but a nagging, irritating, almost painful lonely which makes us uncomfortable and causes us to reach out to people unnecessarily so that they can protect us from the loneliness that we feel. As a result, we are never forced to address the underlying cause of our loneliness.

Loneliness is such a hard feeling to face. I quite like my own company, hate Whatsapp and tend to spend a lot of time alone. Usually it’s fine. Other days, the feeling of loneliness can creep in which makes me question myself. Why are moments of solitude so uncomfortable? Why aren’t they met with jubilation? Why don’t I use those moments to wrestle with the parts of my being that I know need to be fixed instead of reaching out for people who will only move my attention away from the internal work that needs to be done?

I once read that the feeling of loneliness is God trying to remind us that he’s still around; that feeling is God beckoning us to his side. That hollow feeling? That need for company? Apparently, that’s him knocking. Do I believe this to be true? To be quite honest, it sounds nice but I’m not convinced  – if it’s not literally written in scripture and is being inferred, I’m always tentative in taking it as truth. However, I do know that God is always close to us.

Acts 17: 27

God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

God wants us to speak to him, he wants to be close to us and he is a jealous God (Exodus 20:4-5) –  he wants to be first in our lives ALL the time. He wants to be the one we run to when we feel overwhelmed or unsafe as he longs to be the one that saves us. As Christians, we shouldn’t ever feel lonely because we have unlimited access to an unlimited God who always wants to sit with us and talk through whatever! I talk to God about my insatiable need for chicken, boy drama, whether squats will actually work (THEY DO!!), whether the dreams he has laid on my heart will ever come to pass…the list goes on because there is just SO much to say. The best part is I don’t have to hold back, I can be myself because he already knows everything about me. There is no pride, no discretion and no need to appear as though I have everything figured out.

The next time you feel lonely, maybe reach for the Bible (app) before you reach for Whatsapp. If you don’t feel like reading the bible but you want to have a conversation with someone, just speak to him; he’s always listening.

Love and all that other mushy stuff,

Joy xxx

Why Lie?

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James 1:22

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Dani xx