Tag Archives: sacrifice

Why I Joined The War On Terror 

  Today marks 7 days since innocent holiday makers were shot and killed as part of yet another ISIS attack.

I woke up this morning and the air was thick with distinct rage and an overwhelming sense of despair due to the blood that was spilled on a Sousse beach in Tunisia. As the injured lose the battle for their lives in Tunisian hospitals, and the briefly missing are identified, we have watched the death toll rise, and with it, our outrage at the injustice of the attack. Most of us are caught between a rock and a hard place, as we desire to do something, anything, that will ‘help’ but there doesn’t seem to be a way for our wills to become reality. There’s no collection to donate to that will bring back lost lives, no clock that can be turned back to stop this all from happening, and no consolation we can give to those who have lost their loved ones.

Today, we will have a minute’s silence for all those who fall victim to the ongoing war on terror. 

I won’t deny my dissatisfaction! Yes, I will say a prayer for all the victims’ loved ones, that regardless of their faith, the Holy Spirit will be their comforter, but I can’t shake the feeling that I am not doing enough. I have never believed in purgatory (I can’t find evidence of it in my Bible) so I have struggled to come to finally accept that there is nothing I can do for the dead. Nothing. Since hearing breaking news on Thailand, I have spent my time pondering the shocking reminder of the transient nature of life, not paying attention to the fact that all those who have left us will either be resting in perfect peace with Christ or not, and now, from Earth, there is no way to influence where there souls will spend eternity.

People die every day. That is a fact. They are snatched from us by people claiming to be fighting ‘holy wars’, ill health, old age and by a heap of natural disasters. We can spend our time focusing on the lives that have been cut short, the opportunity withdrawn for some, to marry, have kids, or even celebrate their 18th birthdays, but we are ignoring the pressing reminder that in their passing, their fate for heaven/h… not-Heaven (just typing it gives me chills), has been finalised, and no amount of praying can change that.

Today, I will do something.

There’s a chilling finality to death, but death brings whole new opportunities if we come into contact with Christ before we pass. A lot of us Christians are shocked because the increasing death toll is the alarm bell ringing we don’t have the time to be ineffectual and lukewarm in our faith. Death is snatching lives all the time; will you fight for another life getting to see God when they pass? How much do we believe that God loves all, and simultaneously God hates sin? How much do we care that judgement is inescapable. No, we cannot prevent deaths, but there is a war to be had and souls are in need of being won.

Today I am ready for battle

What stands out amidst the terror that has been painstakingly revealed as victims recant their stories, is the courage shown by some, the determination to live and to protect the lives of loved ones. Sarea Wilson told of how her husband-to-be stood between her and three bullets so she could have the chance to escape. The lengths he went to to save her life are astounding.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)

 I’m not suggesting you need to lay down your life for people to find Christ, but what are you willing to do differently? Oh, the plethora of cop-out excuses for why we can’t evangelise, which the thought of sends shudders down many a spine, but is simply sharing the  love of Christ. Evangelism has almost become a dated aspect of our faith that we’re ignoring until someone comes up with a full-proof method for minimal embarrassment, but, until then,  aren’t we just wasting time? 

When I speak to Christians about evangelism, they’re always emphasising that by living a Christlike life, they are evangelising, so they shouldn’t need to hit the streets with flyers and a soapbox. What did Jesus do? Yes, he developed relationships with people and evangelised through his lifestyle, but that didn’t stop him from speaking out in public, and gathering crowds of thousands of people to hear the good news. We use ‘actions speak louder than words’ to get out of speaking to people about Christ but our inaction of speaking up, has left the message of Christ’s love that we are trying to live out, almost inaudible.

What is stopping us from taking evangelism seriously?

If we say we love Christ, we must have a love for our others. How long will we stay mute because we don’t want to offend or because we don’t want to seem strange? If we don’t care to see the world come to Christ, or aren’t actively involved in spreading the Good News, the world can only question how great this God really is, that we claim to serve. Maybe it’s that we’ve strayed so far from God, telling someone about him is the last thing on our minds. Yes we attend church, we might even serve in a ministery, but have we lost that life-changing connection with Christ, that we once had? That connection that causes you to wake up excited to pray and makes you want to savour every second you spend in God’s presence. After all, how can you see the lack of Christ in someone’s life when you don’t notice the lack of his presence in your own? I can personally connect with that reason. Of course I’ve forgotten that the world needs Christ when I’ve forgotten that I need him too.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

 Today I will use every opportunity I can get

We become so self-centred in our Christianity, rating our growth in Christ by whether we can prophecy to our congregations and heal the sick, but the love we have for God has got to cause us to want to see the souls around us saved. Acceptance of others’ lifestyle choices has become silently watching, with the justification that everyone has their own belief, and we don’t have a right to make them feel like ours hold more truth than theirs. We cannot live this way anymore. Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the light, no-one can come to the father except through me.” You might be surrounded with really lovely and kind atheists, but let’s not belittle their need for Christ based on our judgement that they are ‘good’ people.

Today, I am ready to fight for someone else’s life

I hereby declare that I will wear my Christianity loud and proud, fighting the war that has been waged with love and prayer, actively seeking opportunities to tell somebody about my King, my best friend, my main squeeze, the one who has kept me sane and loved me when I didn’t love myself.

Love Dani xxxxx

The Day I Learnt To Love The People I Didn’t Like

pay-it-forward-2014-random-act-of-kindness

When was the last time you offered up your seat for an old lady? Or the last time you gave someone your last sweet? Or the last time you gave the homeless man, on the way to work, the change you’d been saving to purchase a sugary snack on your lunch break?

Disclaimer: I have no recollection of the last time I did any of the above either so this post isn’t about praising the awesome week I’ve had putting others before myself.

I would like you to think about it though. I’m not asking when was the last time you put yourself on par with someone else, but when was the last time you put someone before yourself . How many of us sit on buses or tubes in the reserved for people who actually need it best seats and have kept our eyes fixed firmly on the ground as we avoided all possible eye contact with someone more deserving of the seat. You’ve all experienced that awkward moment when you sit across from someone who is also in a reserved seat and wait to see who is going to inconvenience themselves perform an act of kindness for the pregnant lady/ man with a walking stick that has just boarded the train. Secondly, have you ever considered how funny it is that telling someone that the sweet they have just requested is in fact the last sweet in the bag is a valid reason for not sharing. The other person completely understands your unwillingness to share because they too wouldn’t deprive themselves of the taste of that last something sweet whilst watching you enjoy it. And, finally, the excuses we mull over as we walk past homeless people are really something.

‘They’re just going to use it for drugs anyway’

‘It’s my treat day, if I give away 60p I’d have to break into my fiver to buy a chocolate bar’

‘It’s my money, I earned it, they don’t deserve it.

Before you continue I’d just like to point out that there is no judgement passing from my fingertips to your retinas. I realised this week that I had my whole ethos of loving people: wrong.

It generally goes

  1. I love you God.
  2. I love myself and want to make sure everything is ok in my life.
  3. I love others and want to make sure they’re content.

Because of this our prayers follow suit. We thank God because he’s amazing, we spend hours laying out our prayer point list before God, and then before we close we remember all of our loved ones and say a quick prayer for them.

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31

A couple of week s ago I spoke about the greatest commandment on Earth, loving God with all your heart,  but have we completely ignored the second greatest? We have a command from God and I think we’ve been reading it wrong

  1. Love others after as you love yourself.

We are so driven by  wanting to make sure our lives are shaping up the way we’d like them to that we don’t cast our net to the people around us. What can we do for them that would make their day just that little bit better? What can we say to encourage them in their walks with Christ or their relationship with their mum or the job that they feel like they’re failing at? Most of us would read the above and respond with: ‘ it’s simply not our problem’ but that’s where we’re wrong. We= me and you, are family. The saying goes you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family and that applies here. You may not like your leaders in church, you may feel that the lady in the fourth pew is gossiping about you, you might not even agree with some of the doctrine that fellow followers of Christ proclaim, but whether you like it or not you’ve got to love them anyway.

I can here you now. You don’t believe me. Charity begins at home and how can you bless people if you’re still waiting for your blessing? But what if your blessing never comes? Practising love is one of those, whether you’re Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, catholic, as a Christian you can’t run away from, so where does that leave us?

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

Jesus gave us the BEST example of showing love to one another and we don’t seriously pay it much thought when thinking about where going the extra mile for someone should stop. Are you willing to die for me? Probably not, and we could all say, ‘we aren’t Jesus’ , ‘death is a pretty big deal’, and that may be the truth, but we can’t de-scale Jesus’ example  all the way to not even being able to share our last crisp with our fellows. We are so me me me minded that we forget that everything Jesus did was for us. His actions were for the benefit of you and me. I’m not asking you to be selfless, I just think that we could think about ourselves less. Christianity is about the other. Your relationship with God aside, how are you showing love to those around you?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4

I decided to change my attitude this week. We could look at old ladies stepping onto packed buses or the pang of guilt we feel in our hearts caused by people begging for change on our paths to work, as an inconvenience, or we could decide that it’s a great opportunity to provide convenience for someone else. What can we do, if we don’t have the finances to bless the homeless man or the physical strength to rise for the old lady? (No, being tired from standing on your feet all day after a long retail shift doesn’t count.) How about changing your prayer…

God help me them

God provide for me them

God bless use me

I’m not asking you to wash people’s feet, but could you? Would you be willing to lower yourself in order for someone else to feel loved? God doesn’t do one thing for us and we’ve concluded that he doesn’t love us but when did we last do something for someone else. People have the worst things to say about Christians. It usually goes ‘hypocrite this’ hypocrite that’ but condemnation aside can we see the truth. Are we loving others when it suits us or because Jesus set a high standard and we’re following suit? You might not have a relationship with the people around you and you may not even like them, but you can love them.

Let’s change our ethos.

Once we love God it must go God, others: ourselves. God loves people whether we think they deserve it or not and we serve God by loving others.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

Big love xxxxxx

Dani

For Those Who Don’t Do Love

no love

When I was 12 I decided that I didn’t ‘do’ love. I hadn’t even had my heart broken yet, but the idea that there was this feeling that came over you that meant you were completely infatuated with another person, and wanted to do everything in your power to make them happy, seemed a little far-fetched to me. You may have a more valid reason for opting out. Anyone who has had their heartbroken or has had to listen to the tale of some poor lad/lass that has, and can see the pain heartbreak causes, is faced with the dilemma of whether they want to avoid that squishy, warm, passionate feeling A.K.A being in love with someone, or still buy in to the Hollywood fairytale that awaits us all. It goes  like this:

Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy proposes, girl says yes, they ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.

Those of us who aren’t living in a Disney Daydream will know that life just isn’t  that simple. The real life story has so many speed bumps and 3 point turns on the journey to perfect family life, many lose interest in the appeal that love once had. We allow the speed bumps to bring us to a complete halt and decide that we don’t DO love. I know it’s ungrammatical and sounds a lot like ‘I’m a woman scorned, all guys are the problem’ but opting out of the hope to fall in love is a decision many have made as a protection mechanism.

It becomes a bit problematic when you accept Christ. Now your whole life is love centred (God is love and our lives revolve around him, kind of like the planets-sun relationship in the solar system) and you’re supposed  to walk in love. The problem is that we’ve let Hollywood give us a definition of what it means to ‘be in love’ and show love to others. I have a secret for you: What we ascribe ‘being in love’ to be, doesn’t actually have any real importance when we’re thinking about the love of Christ that we’re supposed to be showing others. Love is a noun and a verb but I think the doing word aspect of love has become side-lined by the attention that simply being in love on this island called love, is getting.

If you love me, keep my commands. John 14:15

Here Jesus is telling us the duty we have when we claim to love him. There is action involved in love. Lots of us ‘fall in love’ with Jesus and then spend all our time after that point deciding if we fancy obeying God in the various aspects of our lives. This island of love idea that we’ve created, where everyone who ‘loves’ God arrives and just stays there is based on the fact that we feel that being love is a state of mind, a feeling that has the words warm and fuzzy attached to it, but this isn’t  what God has depicted love to be.  Other translations of John 14:15 say, ‘If you love me, you WILL obey my commands. There’s just no way to avoid the doing aspect attached to love. It’s nice to fantasize about what it will be like to BE in love but being in love is expressed through what you DO. There is little point in the feeling of love without acting upon it. Imagine if John 3:16 said, ‘For God so loved the world that whenever he thought about the people on Earth his heart filled with warmth towards them and he gave them loving looks from heaven whilst watching them all die on Earth and perish in hell. I know you’re thinking ‘hey now Dani, that’s a bit harsh’, but that is how ridiculous it is to diminish love to being this ‘nice’ feeling in our hearts that causes us to look fondly towards people.

For God so loved that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Our whole lives, and the promise of heaven that awaits us after death is based on the fact that God wasn’t merely IN love, he DID love. What would it look like to follow his example of doing love?

Last week I was convicted of my lack of love for God. Telling God I loved him had become some kind of cover up for the fact that my actions weren’t a reflection of the love that was supposed to be in my heart. Maybe you can relate, I’ve listed a few warning signs below.

God, I haven’t read your word and meditated on it day and night but I love you.

Lord, I don’t even think about praying for someone other than myself but I love you.

 Father, I just can’t be bothered to re-arrange my plans so that I have time to invest into the lives of others but I love you.

Jesus, I don’t care if other people come to know you before they die but I love you.

What kind of love is that?

Just because we feel strong positive feelings towards God, doesn’t mean that we love him. You don’t arrive at a place called ‘loving God’ and hang out there long enough so when you need to ask him for something you don’t feel like you’re using God. We mustn’t forget that loving God is a doing thing.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since  the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.  Matthew 25:34-36

Jesus is telling the disciples about what will happen when he comes back again. If we’re including ourselves as part of the group of people that are inheriting the kingdom of God, then we should also be the people that are feeding those who don’t have any food and helping those in need. All of these things are simply what Christ expects of us. People criticise sermons that are about ‘how we can show love’ for not being ‘deep’ enough but whilst everyone is finding intricate new ways to chase after their blessings, who is carrying the shopping bags of the elderly and driving people home that are too unwell for public transport? We can’t be preaching about a God who loves the world, meanwhile our actions only reflect the love we have for ourselves.

This week I was thinking about what it means to love God with all my heart, all my mind, and all my soul and was left pondering the last time I’d actively shown someone love. As Christians there’s no opting out of doing love. There’s no denying that we have been blessed with the love of God, it’s worth thinking about what we can do to bless others with love. We can do better than lip service, let’s love God with our actions from here on out.

Love you all,

Dani xxxxxxxxx

The Day I Abandoned My Baby

altar abandon

‘God said’ has got to be the most weighty way to open a sentence, and yet it’s thrown about willy nilly by Christians everywhere. The problem is the fakes  that abuse those words to guilt trip church-goers into putting an extra in the offering plate only so they can turn up next week in a shiny lambo. Needless to say, the words ‘God said’  have received some bad press. It’s not that we don’t believe God speaks anymore, it’s just that we feel that we have to be extra cautious when accepting someone’s Word from the Lord as an actual message from God. Things get tricky when people say that God has spoken to them concerning you. Nobody can claim infallibility (even the Pope, but we’ll have that discussion another day) and coupled with the fact that humans generally can’t be trusted, it becomes very difficult to decipher whether God has actually spoken to individual, whether they ‘heard’ the wrong thing or if they have an ulterior motive. When someone gives you a Word from God here’s the dilemma: how much can we believe what they say to be true. However, a whole new dilemma comes about when God speaks to you directly. The question stops being, how do I know it was God to ‘do I want to listen to what God has to say.’ When God told me to metaphorically speaking, ‘pick up my bed and walk’ I wasn’t expecting to have to leave my baby behind.

You don’t have to turn too many pages of your Bible to see that God says some seemingly outrageous things. Telling Abraham to offer Isaac his son as a sacrifice to him, can definitely be included amongst God’s most eyebrow raising utterances. I won’t lie, I thought all those seemingly outrageous commands were an Old Testament phenomenon. Little did I know that God was still in the ‘completely baffling you and forcing you to really question how much you are committed to him’ mood. Last year January, I asked God to have his way in my life, and he told me to abandon the very thing that fed my soul, warmed my heart and caused my eyes to overspill with tears of joy: my budding acting career.

No, I am not a celebrity before you start googling my name, but I did have big dreams of living The Dream; a life on the stage, screen, and the occasional red carpet appearance in between. For the longest time I have loved acting, and from the age 14 I have dedicated the my time to learning and crafting the kind of actor I wanted to be. I’m the sort of person who sets sights on a goal and works tirelessly until I see the vision fulfilled, and that was exactly the motivation in which I pursued becoming a successful actress. Training, agent searching, open auditioning, until hey presto! I found my agent and people started offering me money for doing the thing I loved most. I couldn’t wait to finish University so I could commit to pursuing the dream full time, until it dawned on me that becoming an actress had at no point been attached to the words: God said. You can’t get through a church service without someone mentioning that we live to fulfil what God has called us to do; one day I realised that I had no clue whether acting was what God wanted me to pursue as my day job.

I took to my knees to pray. I remember vividly saying ‘Lord if acting isn’t what you want me to do, then I don’t want to do it’,  ‘What would you like me to do with my time?’

What did I hear?

Nothing.

Weeks snowballed into months of waiting on the Lord but my prayer remained persistent. Two things  on waiting on The Lord while we’re here:

1) It’s not necessarily going to be a short wait so keep yourself entertained by  worshipping  God just because he’s great and don’t allow yourself to be consumed by the answer you’re longing for.

2) You might not like what’s on the other end of the phone.

 

What I didn’t realise when I was asking God to direct my life and declaring ‘if you can use anything Lord, you can use me,’ is that God was taking me seriously and that God’s plan wasn’t going to be a bigger version of the plan I had concocted for myself. I remember I was at church when I heard God loud and clear:

Business.

At first I was confused. Me? Business? When had I ever indicated to God that I wanted to do business? In fact it sounded like the complete opposite of what I wanted to do. I like routine and certainty and business has always involved a high element of risk.  I carried on praying, maybe half expecting God to change his mind, but mostly because business wasn’t enough to run with. So after momentary breakthrough I was back to my knees waiting on the Lord with ears open wide. This time I only had to wait weeks before God responded that I should read up on the financial market. Ok, I could run with that: Business and Finance. I was so glad to have found direction I almost didn’t realise that this meant no more acting. I had asked God what he wanted me to do and nowhere had he mentioned taking on a new persona as a day to day activity.

This week I was watching Orange is the New Black ( if you aren’t already hooked there’s no time like the present to start watching) and was reminded of all the dreams I had previously had that weren’t going to be realised.  I remembered how I had called my agent and told him that the the game was up and that there was a high chance I would never perform in front of people again. I wept all over again.

It’s been over a year and the pain that came with closing the door that would have allowed me an easy  return to the dream I had birthed,  still chokes my throat with tears and has me sometimes wondering, what if?

What if I hadn’t heard right?

Reading the Abraham story does more than enough to emphasise the importance of consistrntly seeking God  so that you’re always up to date on God’s will on a matter. For those who don’t know how the story goes : Abraham had been praying for a child for a very long time, after his wife goes past the age where she’s able to conceive God blesses them with Isaac, God tells Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to him and then just at the point where we could call it quits for Isaac, God provides a ram and tells Abraham to sacrifice that instead. It doesn’t bear thinking about what would have happened if Abraham didn’t hear God when he exchanged Isaac’s fate with the Ram’s. Imagine if Abraham had killed the son God had promised him. It would completely ruin God’s plan to make him a father of many nations. See I’m not deluded. I know that getting told you have to kill your son isn’t quite the same as having to bury your dream, but it’s the only thing I can equate how I felt/still feel to. It’s funny because we pray and fast to hear from God and don’t ever consider that we won’t actually want to hear what God has to say. Once we know it’s God speaking (being sure of his voice comes with practicing hearing him) then we’re faced with whether or not we want to obey.

What if hadn’t succumbed?

Life would be so different if I hadn’t followed God’s Business and Finance direction. I wouldn’t be about to begin a Business Services Graduate scheme in a bank in September; I’d probably be spending my whole summer auditioning and praying I booked myself a role on a Drama that would take me to the big-time. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful, just scared and overwhelmed all at the same time as I remember that I no longer have my whole life planned out, and that I’m going to have to seek God for the next steps of my journey. Sometimes, when we receive instructions that we don’t like, we stop being willing servants of the Lord and start wishing we’d never asked, all the while taking for granted that Christ actually wanted to give his life for us on the cross. The thing about Christianity is that nothing Christ asks you to do will ever compare to what he’s already done for you, and if you think it was easy for him to succumb to the will of The Father, you’ve forgotten the bit of the story where Jesus begged for the cup to pass him by. When God refused, Jesus didn’t have a sulk and start weighing up the pros and cons of obeying, He answered ‘ Lord not my will, but yours be done.’

To everyone praying those ‘have your way, you can use me Lord,’ I hope you’re ready for what is to come. To those that aren’t, God will still ask you to sacrifice the things that you never thought you’d have to let go of. Whilst you’re feeling hard done by and regretting ever including God in your life decisions, remember, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice and anything you do in response to that sacrifice is an honour.

For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

Living for Christ is the meaning of life and dying and getting to be with him is the only thing better than getting to live for him. You aren’t doing God a favour by serving him because getting to live for Christ is the best thing that ever happened to you. Stop letting pride stop you from choosing God’s will over your own, and start feeling privileged that you get to.

 

God bless and mucho loveio

 

Dani xxxxxxxxxxx

Oscar Pistorious: Affluent. Role Model. Murderer?

Oscar-Pistorius

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