Tag Archives: questions

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

My First Encounter With A Prostitute

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I’ve always been fascinated by women who use their bodies as a source of income. I think it’s more my need to understand everything than an actual interest in the industry, but even as a teenager, I always asked ‘why?’ Was it a love for sex? Was it love of quick and “easy” money? (I don’t think prostitution is easy money at all – that misconception couldn’t be further from the truth) Was it a means of survival? Vocations such as prostitution also caused me to question my ideals concerning sex and marriage; maybe the women who worked in these industries were the ones living liberated lives while the rest of the female population obsessed over the idea of the “the One” and continued to feel shamed as the number of men they have slept with increased.

I’ve had these questions in my head for years and up until last month, they remained unanswered and I was yet to have a real encounter with a prostitute. You can imagine my surprise when I met her, in my room, within the pages of my Bible. Her name was Rahab.

I’m going to give you key facts – if you want the full story, feel free to read Joshua 2:

  • Rahab was a prostitute. She lived on the edge of society and ran an inn built on the Jericho city wall.
  • Through the men she met (and slept with) Rahab came to learn about the God of Israel and the miracle of the Red Sea.
  • When the two spies sent by Joshua, seeking refuge in her inn, she knew that king of Jericho would hear of them and seek to kill them.
  • Rahab  planned the protection and escape of the two spies and when Jericho was eventually invaded by the Israelites, Joshua remembered how Rahab helped the spies and saved Rahab and her family.
  • She later gave birth to Boaz, making her the great-great-grandmother of King David, whose lineage continues on to Jesus.
  • In the New Testament, her name is placed amongst those in the Old Testament who had exemplified extraordinary faith (Hebrews 11:31).

As Christians, we love Rahab, don’t we?! She perfectly illustrates how the perfect will of God can come to pass and how he can use anyone.

But what about the people we have known who have given their bodies to men without a second thought? The people whose lifestyles we do not understand and do not agree with; do we love them too? How many prostitutes would feel accepted and loved if they visited your church?

“You sell your body?! You must be a bad person”

The above statement simply cannot be true. There is this notion that your sins have the power to decide whether you are worthy of acceptance and love, which is something my mind cannot fathom given that no man is without sin. If I am not defined by my sins, why should you be?

We have forgotten that God loves everyone and has a plan for each and every life despite the stage at which we meet each other – prostitutes included. We’ve stopped caring about the evidence at the crime scene and have become consumed with the crime itself, continuously making assumptions about a person’s faith, beliefs, worth and where they will spend eternity. In doing so, we fail to see the bigger picture and fail to view people in the love and light of Christ.

This judgment and this lack of compassion have resulted in people staying away from church because they are afraid to be judged and condemned. It has resulted in Christians coming to church, warming their seats and staying silent about the internal conflicts they face on a daily basis, afraid that the people they have come to regard as family will shun them once they find out what they’re struggling with. Some of us Christians have moved away from the Jesus that spent most of his time on the streets; he wasn’t in the synagogue playing happy families and arguing over who would lead praise and worship on a Sunday morning. In fact, Jesus continuously spoke to those who had been marginalised; the lepers, the blind, the tax collectors, and the adulterers – those were the people he spent his time with.

So what did I learn from my first encounter with a prostitute?

1)  Look at the heart

Do not judge others based on their actions alone. We are called to look a little deeper. This doesn’t mean that we should applaud and encourage sin but it does mean that we should look at the heart of another instead of looking solely at the outcome.

The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart

1 Samuel 16:7

God doesn’t disqualify people because of their current circumstances so why should we?

 

2) God isn’t waiting for perfection

I’ve met so many people who feel as though they have to change dramatically before they come to God but the beauty of God is that when we come to him, everything changes. Rahab wasn’t  living a righteous life but her willingness to serve and her understanding of God brought her closer to him. She wasn’t perfect but she was willing.

 

3) You are more than your past

If you look in the mirror daily and only call yourself by the negative names you used to be known by, you will never truly move in the love and grace available to you. The only reason we should ever look back is to appreciate how far we’ve come. A lot of us are letting our past hold us captive but Rahab proves that your beginning does not necessarily determine your future. Where do we find her at the end of Bible? In the linage of Jesus.

 

4) Your family are important

When you’re finding God for yourself, I think it is your responsibility to let your family know about the changes that are occurring within you. It’s hard being interested in God when no one around you believes or generally thinks that he is a fictional character, but if you are finding faith, share it. Rahab didn’t just save herself and never look back; she grabbed her Aunty, Uncle, dog and cat and saved them too.

 

5) Love first

I think I realised at some point that life isn’t just black or white; most of us live in the murky grey full of good intentions and questionable outcomes. Don’t get me wrong, the Bible is clear that there is a standard, make no mistake about that (1 Peter 1:16 – for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy) and sin is intolerable to God, however, judging people before loving them doesn’t work in real life contexts and often does more harm than good.

Let’s make a decision to love first because love heals, love restores, it covers all wrongs, it is kind and it is true. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

So Rahab, thank you for the lessons….now to meet a living prostitute….

 

Lots of LOVELOVELOVE,

 

J xxxxxxx

The One Thing I Have In Common With Janine Butcher

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Alas, it hit me: I share a connection with one of Britain’s infamous murderers. Evil on the outside, tiny smidgen of niceness within, we’ve all lost count of just how many husbands Janine Butcher has pushed over the edge (quite literally).

I shall address the elephant in the room.

What exactly do I have in common with a serial killer?

For those of you who don’t watch Eastenders(the only  British soap that’s better than Coronation Street,) all you need to know is:

1. There’s no point tuning in now (they’re currently dragging out a really boring storyline that involves an old lady and her, not so dead, son)

2. Janine Butcher- fictional character, member of the Eastenders cast, and I, Daniela Caulcrick- resident of the real world and citizen accountable to the real law, have both stood up in court, plead guilty, and gotten away scot free.

Do you believe in miracles?

We live in a New Age. An age where it seems science has an answer to everything and it’s not so much that God’s answers aren’t there, but they’ve become somewhat irrelevant. All the big questions that used to preoccupy the minds of earth folk, as recent as 100 years ago, are now replaced with answers supported by bountiful evidence. Makes you question the need for faith, right?

WRONG

OH SO WRONG.

On the 30th August when I received my summons from Croydon Magistrates court to testify about a crime I had committed (using an oyster card that didn’t belong to me,) and found out that my conviction would result in a criminal record (Transport For London take no prisoners,) I knew that my faith was the only thing that was going to get me through.

 “I tell you the truth, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

Opening that court summons I felt sick. Sick because I couldn’t honestly plead NOT GUILTY, sick because I didn’t want a criminal record, sick because there didn’t seem to be a way to avoid becoming a convict.

After the sickness came decision time.

I decided to believe God for a MIRACLE. I didn’t know how He was going to do it, but I prayed that he would make it as though my run-in with the law had never happened. In September, I took the stand, plead honestly, and waited for the verdict. Anyone who believes miracles don’t exist should have been with me in court when they said they were WITHDRAWING my guilty plea and would be sending me a letter confirming they’d DROPPED the case.

Just like that.

This New Age provides answers, and without dismissing your belief in God, traps you into seeing him as little more than a supernatural energy that helps you to ‘be a better person’. However you phrase it, it comes down to: “you can serve your God as long as you don’t publicly claim to believe in all that magic hocus pocus stuff that can’t be scientifically explained. That would just make you crazy right?

(All together now)

WRONG

Believing in the IDEA of a God is NOT the same as believing in an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving being. I understand the desire to refrain from appearing as a ‘Bible bashing So And So’ but if your faith isn’t attached to any substantive beliefs, it doesn’t really amount to much. Fundamentalist has become a dirty word reserved for those deemed too far gone to be reasoned with, but being a Christian is all about believing the bible, in more than a figurative, choose the nice bits and discard the bits that are hard to stomach, kind of way.

I couldn’t tell you whether the mountain Jesus is referring to in Matthew is real rather than theoretical. What’s important is that we all have mountains in our lives, troubles that don’t seem solvable with human logic. Jesus is pointing out that with just a tiny bit of faith, they can disappear.

I’ll be forever grateful to God for coming through for me. I can only urge you to believe in the attributes of God, if you claim to serve him. Who said miracles have to be a thing of the past? You can’t please God without faith, so start speaking to the mountains in your life, and expect to see them move.

Your rationalisation of everything will get you no-where.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

Love Dani

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