Why do we fear so Easily?

One thing that I’ve realised lately is that we really shouldn’t fear ANYTHING.

We so easily create excuses to validate our fears. Recently I had to do my first sermon and it was in the midst of the craziest few weeks with so many tests and assignments that were also due.
At first, I was really nervous and stressed about my sermon, because formal talks are a bit intimidating and I have never done an official sermon before, and I tend to be nervous in front of crowds, and what if I fail? Or what if I accidentally say something that is Biblically wrong? The list of excuses I had for my stress went on and on.

But then God asked me, “Why do you fear?” And it suddenly dawned on me as I thought about all my invalid excuses… I am living as if I don’t have a Heavenly Father who’s unchanging nature is to care for me, sustain me and compensate for all my lacks and failures.

I understand now that God’s desire to be there for us doesn’t depend on the situation we are in or on how deserving we are of His helping hand. It is always there because it’s in His nature to be there for us!
And I only had the greatest time doing my first sermon and overcame my fear op public speaking, because I realized that I have nothing to fear because God is ALWAYS with me.
Make no mistake, nerves and stomach knots do still occur, but it influences nothing. It used to influence everything! The flesh sometimes takes a while to adapt to what has happened in the spirit.
That’s why we need to persevere and claim the promises we have in Christ; even though our emotions and circumstances tell the opposite!

It takes deliberate and conscious effort to change our minds into trusting God with EVERYTHING, but we really need to trust Him!

Fear, stress, anxiety and all these things might be rational/normal responses because situations seem so “immense”. But we, honestly, just need to rest in the fact that God got this. It’s not about the rational response, it’s about what we believe to be eternally true; that God is always there for us!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.       Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Essentials to Strengthen Your Walk with God

Just a quick side note: These 5 essentials are in no way the only 5, and neither are they written in any order. These are merely 5 parts of being a Christian that, from a personal view, function as the glue in my own walk with Christ. If I ought to neglect these 5 aspects then I wouldn’t really be able to say that I am a Christian or I would be lukewarm at best. That said, let’s get right to it!

#1 Consistency and Commitment

If you want to know what goes on in your heart, look at your actions, thoughts and words. That’s why Proverbs 4:23 tells us to watch over our hearts with all diligence. Now if you want to know how committed you are to Christ look at how consistent your actions, thoughts, and words reflect the love you have for Him. Our consistency reveals our commitment. Reading the Bible is great, praying is great and going to church is great, but are you consistent in doing so? I think it’s safe to say that God allows the committed to experience more of Him because they draw near to Him every day.

This is definitely the case in my walk with Christ. I experience His presence more as I seek Him more. It’s like Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Seeking God with all your heart, for me, is seeking Him every day. A lot of times we make the error of basing our commitment on our feelings and emotions. Emotions change every day, our commitment shouldn’t. If we really want to find God, we must seek Him with all our heart; and seeking God with all our heart requires our actions, words and thoughts to consistently reflect our commitment to Him.

#2 Growth

One of the things I always say is that satan hates it when we grow in our faith, but he’ll settle with keeping us stagnant in our faith. Often times our walk with Christ consists of a few steps forward and a few steps back and we seem to never make any real progress. We need to have a desire to grow. Life often takes the form of two decisions. Either you throw away all ambition and become satisfied with where you are now, or you look reality in the eye and fight for what you know you can achieve. The same counts for our walk with Christ. We can either look at ourselves and accept where we are or we can look at God and accept that we are made for more and then in our pursuit, rely on God, to get there.

#3 Pursue God for God

If you were to be honest with yourself and ask what the main reason is why you are following Christ, what would it be? Is it maybe to go to heaven? A lot of things can take God’s place in our lives without us even realizing it. This was the case for so many years in my walk with Christ. I got so concerned with running from sin that it became one of the main reasons why I followed Christ; because only He can truly deliver us from sin. Let Jesus be your desire and your reward. Let us not pursue God for the benefits of pursuing Him, but let us pursue Him because it is our hearts’ desire to be with Him.

#4 Understand Your Faith

It is one thing to say that Jesus died for your sins and it is a totally different thing to actually understand the implications and meaning it has for you today. It is one thing to say God is a gracious God and it is a totally different thing to actually grasp the immensity of His grace. Knowledge without understanding has very little value to us. Once you have the knowledge and you are able to understand then you start to change, because you are starting to grasp the immense weight of Jesus’ mission and the divine implications the completion of that mission has for those who believe. Always seek to know more about God and ask Him to reveal more of Himself to you so that you can also understand.

#5 Trust God

Now even though this might sound obvious, it is a vital part of the foundation of our faith. Let me explain with one example: Temptations have always been a great issue for humanity. Everyone has to fight against it, but not everyone is victorious over it. A temptation is simply a false representation of satisfaction. It promises all kinds of fulfillment, but it leaves you empty and filled with shame, guilt, and disappointment (James 1:12-16 describes it perfectly). Now, as Christians, we believe that God is our provider. He is our Father and takes care of us, however, when it comes to temptations we seem to forget about this. We lose trust in His ability to give us joy, pleasure, significance, and fulfillment, and so we turn our backs on God and pursue worthless voids because we don’t trust that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Imagine we trust God through all the ups and downs; we would have such fulfilling lives and reach so many great heights.

The Christian path isn’t always the easiest path to walk on. It is often really intimidating and requires great discipline because there are so many distractions that want to deceive us. So trust God no matter what and you will start to see that the more you trust Him, the more trustworthy you find Him to be.

1 Thing I’ve Learned From 2015

2015 is done and the new year is on the verge of giving way to its first two months; and although I don’t like to dwell on past things there is something from 2015, among other things, that really stuck with me.

During one of my classes last year, a man came to speak to us about using our faith in practical ways to share the love of God. He said a lot of things and I can’t remember any of them, however, I do remember one sentence that he said which I found to be quite profound. He said,

“When God made you, He was thinking of someone else.”

Now I know this phrase can be misunderstood and it doesn’t mean that God didn’t think about us when He made us. What it means is that when God made us, He also thought about the people that He would touch through us.I love the Passion conferences. About a week ago I went to Passion in Cape Town, South Africa and it was amazing. I loved the sermon by Louie Giglio! It was such a “simple” sermon about the Gospel, the Cross, and at the same time so profound. He shared the Good News and I know lives were changed as the Holy Spirit moved throughout the stadium. Just over a month ago the annual Passion Conference took place in America and more than 40 000 students attended. I can just imagine God creating Louie and thinking of all the amazing things He is going to do through him. How He is going to use Louie to impact thousands of people all over the world to live for Him and share His love throughout the world.

I realized on that day that I wasn’t created for myself; I was created for someone else. I was created to feed the guy on the street, to love my enemy, to stretch out my hand to those in need and to shine my light for Christ wherever I am, so that others might encounter Jesus.
The question is, though what is preventing us from reaching others? If God had other people in mind when He created us, have we really made all effort to reach those people? God called me to start To be Christian a few years ago and I have seen God help so many people through me. I just wonder who would’ve helped those people, who God had predestined me to help, if I would’ve ignored them?

I’ve driven past so many homeless people and although I can’t feed all of them, I can feed some of them. Often I do feed them, but there are times when I feel convicted to go the extra mile and buy food for someone and I end up not doing so. That person had to sleep on an empty stomach that night because I wasn’t willing to live out my faith. God thought of the guy on the street when He made me and I believe that it is my responsibility to reach those people because they were placed on my path. If I ought to ignore the people who have been placed on my path, then who will help them? Who will show and tell them that there actually is a God, who really cares for them and loves them?

I believe God has created all of us with a purpose to reach others. Whether it is in the big deeds or in the small, both are significant. So let us not get distracted and focus on things that are keeping us from reaching others. God wants to shine His light on this earth and He has chosen us to be that light.

As salt enriches that which it is thrown into and light exposes the reality of that which already exists; so we are to enrich the surroundings we are placed in and expose the love of God everywhere we go. (Paraphrase of Matthew 5:13-16)

To be Christian – Giving

It’s probably a year now since God gave me a passion for giving. It’s not like I didn’t like to give before then, but since then I felt more responsible to give. I like to listen to Francis Chan’s sermons and he often preaches on how we as Christians should make giving a part of our daily lives. One of the things I absolutely love about Jesus is that He never looked down on those who are marginalized by society.

I regularly drive by homeless people and people standing at robots with posters saying “Need money, need work, homeless” or something similar to that and I think to myself, should I give them money? Should I help them? Or should I just drive by and let them be? I’ve never done the latter and felt good about it. I feel convicted to give to people who are less fortunate and it doesn’t root from guilt; I just can’t see Jesus driving by and leaving anyone in need to care for themselves.

I would ask people about this and their response would be something similar to “they can go find work” or “they will use the money for drugs” or something else that is bad for them. Although To be Christian – Giving is not about giving money to the homeless, (but rather food or something else that can help them) it is about giving even though the person on the receiving end might not use it in the best way. Think about it like this: Jesus died for every person on this earth. He gave His life for every person who will ever live so that they may find salvation in Him. He knew a lot of people will realize this gift and ignore it. He knew a lot of people will abuse this gift for personal and selfish reasons, yet He still went through the pain and suffering for us all.

To be honest it’s because of this gift, which I am not worthy of, that I have truly found Christ. I’ve abused my gift of salvation a lot of times. I’ve made grace cheap and I’ve ignored the great suffering Jesus had to endure to save me. Even though I did all of this, God never turned His back on me. He never gave up on me even though I selfishly abused all that He has done for me. At the end of the day it is because of Jesus’ never-ending pursuit that I have changed my selfish desires and chose to live for Him fully. God doesn’t look for those who are worthy and perfect, because none of us are. He’s looking for anyone who is willing to admit that they are broken and need Him.

In the same way giving shouldn’t be determined by how it might possibly be received. If your goodness towards other people is determined by their goodness towards you, then your goodness probably won’t last long. To be Christian – Giving is about one part of being a Christian and that is to give. This doesn’t refer to tithing or offerings. It refers to being blessed to be a blessing. The early church sold all their possessions and divided everything equally among them so that there wouldn’t be people who had either too much or too little. This truly reflects the heart of To be Christian – Giving.

I love coffee and often I would skip a meal and just buy a café mocha instead (I know, it’s not the healthiest thing in the world :D). My point is, I can easily buy two coffees and give one away, because I am fortunate enough to be able to do so. I want to live a life where giving and buying things for others (for no real reason other than that is what Christians do) is normal and part of my daily routine.

At times I’ve tried to convince myself that all my money will be used for urgent causes and I couldn’t really afford to give some away for no reason. I failed and I know that a lot of people, like me, are spending money unnecessarily on things they don’t really need or could’ve easily sacrificed for a better cause.

To encourage this biblical way of living I created an Instagram page called To be Christian – Giving, functioning as a branch of To be Christian, where I will post photos or videos of people who I give things to, such as food, clothes, coffee or anything for that matter. As Christians we are to show our good deeds for the world so that God can be glorified through it (Matt 5:16). So anyone can do the same by posting their photos on Instagram and just tag To be Christian – Giving in the photo or video so that I can post it on the To be Christian – Giving page and tag you in that photo or video in return.

The purpose behind this is not to give ourselves credit nor to give ourselves recognition, but to show the world that there is something different about being Christian; that we live from a position of love, compassion and caring.

If you would like to be a part of this movement, the best starting point would probably be to go to the Instagram page here and see the Scriptures that To be Christian – Giving is based on. This is something God called me to do so I am grounding it in His word. I hope we can shine the light of God through this and show the world the unconditional and undiscriminating love of God.

The What, How and Why of being a Christian.

Being a Christian is a really awesome thing. It is a privilege and an honor. It has changed my life to a point where I can only stand in awe and thank God for all that He has done.

I have walked this path following Christ for almost a decade now and for a great part of this decade I didn’t really know what I believe or how it impacts my life. Sure I knew the basic Christian doctrine and I knew the Bible and most of its stories, but I didn’t know what it actually means or the implications it has. Because of this I only had a partial view of what Christianity is all about. I struggled with sin and didn’t know why I still desired the things of this world. I was confused, because I knew that if I truly understood the Christian faith I would be changed. I knew that if I would truly encountered Jesus in His glorified state and not just understand a worldly description of Him, I would be changed.

And so I sought after and pursued the “real Jesus”, hoping to understand what my faith means. I got saved probably at the age of 12 years old and at the age of 19, even though I knew I was saved, I raised my hand at the altar call in church one Sunday morning, because I thought that I would experience Jesus if I did that; but life went on after a few days of feeling very motivated to make a change in my life. I got frustrated because I expected the altar call to change me. Being brought up in a church where they only baptize you when you are still a small baby, I later looked at baptism as the moment when I will experience Jesus change my life and that my heart will then pursue only Him. So I got baptized and nothing happened.

I got tired and frustrated of trying to find the “real Jesus”, but I always pursued Him. I would watch an incredible sermon online and feel so fired up to be the best Christian I can be, but then I realized that the passion within me eventually fades away and I still have a heart that desires worldly things even though I know God and believe in Him. I felt so disheartened, because no matter what I tried, nothing seemed to last. I was a Christian, but I only experienced moments where I truly loved and wanted to follow God, but then after these moments I became very lazy and undisciplined.

One of the great struggles I had was having devotions or quiet time with God. I knew God wanted me to pursue Him and as a Christian that is quite obvious. The thing is though, I knew what I was supposed to do, but I had no desire to do it. I would experience the fullness of this struggle at times when I would spend time playing PlayStation (Yes, Christians do Play PlayStation). I would sit in front of the TV, probably playing Fifa, as you do, and I would feel the Holy Spirit convict me to go to my room and spend time reading the Bible, pray and just talk to God, but I had just no desire to do so. And I would at times ask God why I am like this. Why is it so hard to just put down the controller, go to my room and read the Bible? It’s not like I had some bad experience spending time with God in the past. I always feel refreshed, filled with purpose and inspired after I spend time praying, reading His word and talking to Him about the things in my life. Yet I don’t want to exchange time playing Fifa, for time with the Creator of all things. It felt almost like I couldn’t just stand up and go to my room. It really felt so distant and I really couldn’t understand why, even though I know what I am supposed to, I still don’t do it.

My relationship with God would continue like this for years as I struggled to find the passion and will to pursue Him. I would do all the basic Christian things like go to church, live a “good” life and occasionally go on the You Version Bible app, but I had the hardest time setting time aside to purposefully pursue God as I so deeply felt God wanted me to do.

I couldn’t understand why my heart was content with other things and not God. I mean I’ve been a Christian for so many years why has my heart not changed? Why do I still prefer worldly things above God? I felt so guilty and ashamed, because I so seldom read my Bible even though I say I am a Christian.

I really wanted to change, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t change that which my heart desired. Ravi Zacharias once said, “The human heart is desperately wicked and would rationalize itself into justifying anything.” I was experiencing this! I wanted to change my heart, but I couldn’t. I know only God can change us and we find transformation in Him, but I had a problem with wanting to pursue Him so that transformation always seemed out of reach. Until one day God revealed the secret to me. I call it the WHAT, HOW and WHY of being a Christian and I pray that this makes sense to you.

The WHAT is the instruction manual to being a Christian. It is all the things a Christian should and should not do. This consists of things like going to church, reading the Bible, praying, loving your enemy, being humble etc. The list can go on forever. I think it is pretty clear what the job description of a Christian is when you read the Bible.

The second part is the WHY. This begs the question why should we follow Christ? Why should I be humble, why should I forgive, why should I die to myself, pick up my cross and follow Jesus? This is a personal journey for each one of us, whether you decide to follow Christ or not. I recently posted a photo on the To be Christian Instagram account and it said the following:

If you live without Jesus you won’t realize how great life can be with Him, but if you live with Jesus you realize how bad life would have been without him.

I follow Jesus because I believe in Him and love Him. I have tried life on my own and I have tried life with Jesus and I will always prefer doing life with Jesus. I can’t do it on my own and I don’t think anyone can. You might experience moments of temporary significance throughout your life without Jesus, but how do you deal with the meaning, origin and destiny of human life? How do you explain morality at its root? These gnawing questions lie deep within us and just often enough they present themselves in our thoughts. We can cover them up and ignore them, but I believe that the truth to these questions are only found in Christ and that real love, purpose and happiness, that goes beyond human understanding, can only be found in Him.

And now we come to the third and final part, the HOW. This is the part that I had such great difficulty dealing with. I knew WHAT I should do as a Christian and I also knew WHY I should do it, but I couldn’t get myself to do it. I didn’t know HOW to do it and yes it is obvious, as in the previous example I used, why don’t I just go to my room, pick up the Bible and start reading, but the HOW I am referring to is HOW do I get myself to want to go to my room and want to pick up the Bible and want to read?

This isn’t an easy question, because what the HOW is asking, is how do we change that which our hearts desire if it goes against our normal human tendency? How do we choose to do what we should do and not what we want to do? In some areas of our lives it might be easy, but in other areas it might be really difficult.

The answer to the HOW is quite simple and straightforward and I am so thankful that God gave me this answer. I have found that it is impossible for us as mere humans to change our hearts. Our actions confirm it every day. We all do, as Paul says in Romans 7:19, the bad which we don’t want to do, and fail to do the good which we want to do. The answer lies in admitting our inability to do what is required of us. God shows Himself strong in our weaknesses and God wants us to admit our inability and selfishness before Him. He wants us to realize that only a great God like Him can truly change our hearts. Some parts of our Christian journey might be easy and we are victorious in those areas, but other parts are empty and void and we struggle with them. God has no reason to fill the parts of our lives that are already filled. He wants to show Himself strong in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).

We need to stop exhausting ourselves by attempting to do this Christian journey on our own. We only end up more frustrated and tired at the end of the day. Let your prayer start with, “God I can’t. I want to, but I can’t.” I have seen the change in my own life. I have tried fasting so many times and have failed miserably, but when I rely on God’s strength I succeed at fasting for weeks. PlayStation no longer has a position above God, not even close. I know I am weak in that area and I daily ask God to strengthen me and He will never not strengthen us, because He desires for us to be like Him.

Think of every area in your life that you struggle with, whether it is temptations, anger, procrastination, food, lust, laziness, relationships, self-discipline or whatever it might be and take it to God in prayer and admit you need His help. God has His perfect plan and timing for every one of us so I am in no position to say that your life will dramatically change, but I have seen God do what I have struggled for years to do when I just kneel before Him and admit, with a sincere heart, that I need Him and He will help you too in accordance with His great plan and will for your life.

Dealing with Sin

I am writing this post, because I really think a lot of people have sin misunderstood. I clearly do, and part of writing this piece is me trying to figure out how to deal with sin. I have acquired great wisdom from writing as the Holy Spirit speaks to me and so I hope, you reading this, will learn something too.

When I was younger I always viewed sin as the wall that bordered God’s anger and punishment. I feared sin a lot, often times more than I feared God. I thought that God gets extremely angry when we sin and then punishes us for it. I thought sin was something that only made life more difficult as a Christian, in that we had to resist all temptation, hold all anger and frustration inside, think only pure thoughts and say only good and uplifting words. I made it my mission to run from sin that it became a higher priority for me than running to God.

On the other hand I was confused, because at times I wanted to sin. Sin often seems more attractive to us than that which God has to offer. I remember that about two years ago I told myself that I’m going to read through the Bible and make a list of all the things God doesn’t want us to do. So I started with the book of James and underlined all the parts that could be categorized under “do not do.” There is quite a lot I have to say.

The thing is I viewed the nature of God when it comes to sin completely wrong. Does God hate sin? Yes. Is there punishment for sin? Yes. God created man and woman whom He loves, but then sin, that which He hates, entered that which He loves. So God sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us. So now that which He hates inside of us, has been settled and paid for. So now God can love us without hating that which is inside of us, because as a Christian He is inside of us. Does this mean that as Christians we can do whatever we want, because the wages of our sinful actions have already been paid for? No. As Christians God truly do call us into living righteously. It’s written throughout the Bible. God wants us to live a life distinct from this world. As Christians it is our responsibility to say no to sin.

The thing is though, it is impossible for us to run from sin and actually overcome it on our own. Ravi Zacharias said the following in one of his sermons: “The heart is desperately wicked and will rationalize itself into justifying anything. The human heart is capable of the most extreme things when it is untamed and ungoverned. The problem is not merely moral, the problem is spiritual. This is the unique distinctive teaching of Christ, that your heart and mine is actually capable of limitless thoughts and acts and the Bible calls it sin, meaning very simply the violation of purpose, the violation of God’s purpose for your life and mine.”

I have failed miserably at attempting to run away from sin and it really frustrated me, because isn’t my heart supposed to be transformed as a Christian? Shouldn’t my mind be renewed? After all I have been a Christian for almost ten years. You know I realized that even though there are so many Christians all declaring the name of one God, they all have different views of who the Christian God is. It can be small differences or big differences. Christians might all agree that God wants us to be humble, but what humility is for one person might be the definition of conceited for the other.

 And so I viewed sin in a different light. I saw God as a God who is very strict, who demanded obedience from us and had no tolerance for sin. Oh I had it so wrong. It wasn’t too long ago that the Holy Spirit actually opened my eyes to the nature of God when it comes to sin and it really almost brought me to tears. God doesn’t look at us waiting to punish us when we do wrong. He doesn’t enjoy reprimanding us when we overstep the boundaries. The best way I can explain it is like this.

First of all God is a loving God, He is love and all His actions, words and guidance flows from His limitless storage of love. So when God tells us to not look lustfully at a woman or a man, to not pursue money, to not be prideful or to not let ourselves be controlled by things or substances, He does not do it out of anything but complete love towards us. God is simply saying, and here is what really got to me:

 As the One who created you, I know and have designed your entire life. I can see your future. I can see the consequences of your present actions in two weeks’ time and in two years’ time. As God, I love you so much and I only want the best for you. I have the best life for you, I have the most fulfilling and purpose-filled life for you and I really want you to have and experience this life. Is it free of pain or struggle? No, but in such a sinful world your life will be a lot more painful and sad if you attempt it without me. So I have given you these guidelines, stay with them and don’t do or indulge in the things of this world, because they seem fulfilling yet point you in a direction that leads to shame, guilt, despair, emptiness and ultimately destruction. Trust me when I say don’t do these things, because I only do it out of love. Trust me, because I am God and I know what is best for you.

When I realized that God is just trying to keep me in this amazing plan He has for my life, I understood the problem with sin. It’s not an alternative to God’s word. It’s opposite to His word and when we choose to sin, we are actually saying “God I got this, I will make my own decisions, because I know what is best.” When we see it like this we realize how stupid we are when we choose sin over trusting the guidance of God. And guess what? We don’t have to fear the wages of our sin, because Jesus died for it. And so, yes we do run from sin, but this is only initiated out of our pursuit of Christ. God’s grace has always overwhelmed our greatest acts of sinfulness. As Christians we don’t pursue righteousness because we want to be accepted and loved by God. On the contrary, we pursue righteousness because we are accepted and loved by God. And we will always be loved and accepted by Him, because His love and acceptance is not determined by what we do, rather it is determined by what Jesus did and declared finished.

Talk to God about God

Being a Christian for almost 10 years I have experienced times where I have been really close to God and times where I have been very distant from Him, and no matter how I try to put it, I realize that this is only due to my own negligence in pursuing Him. The distance between me and God was not created because God needed a moment away from me or because my sin intimidated Him. On the contrary, God has searched for us and longs to be with us since the beginning with Adam and Eve. God really wants to be with us and He always pursues us, and as amazing as this is to understand and live in, the Bible also tells us our part of the story. In James 4:8 we read the following:

“Come close to God and God will come close to you.”

As Christians, we have the responsibility to pursue God. When I was a young boy I always spoke about the things in my life with God. If I had problems, questions or anything I would talk to God about it, and as great as this is, I later realized that all I ever spoke about was myself. Only Michael-related issues were important enough to be spoken about and although my intentions were never to have everything revolve around me, as I grew older I kind of felt God asking me, “Can we talk about me for a bit?”

It wasn’t that God needed me to talk about Him, God isn’t insecure. He doesn’t long for a conversation about Him, but God wants me to talk about Him, because it is better for me to talk about God than to talk about myself. God wants us to talk about our emotions, struggles, victories and everything, but we also need talk about God. We need to realise that the greatest thing that has ever happened in our relationship with Jesus, is Him dying on the cross for us which enables us to actually have a relationship with Him. So we need to talk to God about God so that we can understand what the essence of the relationship is all about. Talk about the Bible and what His will and purpose is for you. It is far more beneficial and fulfilling for us to talk about these things.

When we talk about our problems with God our perspectives of our problems doesn’t necessarily change. However, I find it very unlikely that our perspectives won’t change if we speak about God in the midst of our problems. Now this is a personal statement, meaning that this is how I experience it. For example when I failed my engineering degree in 2013 (You can read about it here) I was devastated for about a month and I only felt better once I knew God was calling me to study theology. Before then, however, the reality I had to face was still pretty sad and intense. For that entire month I talked to God about failing engineering and having to deal with it and my perspective of the struggle I was going through never changed. It was only near the end of that particular month that I started to focus more on God than my own issues. Since then my perspective changed and suddenly the embarrassment and not knowing what to do with the rest of my life didn’t seem so overwhelming. I went from speaking to God about my failure, to speaking about God in the midst of my failure. It’s like making a bold statement, a declaration if you will, that even in the midst of current circumstances, God is still in control and will still have His way in this moment even if we cannot understand it.

I believe God want us to talk about ourselves with Him, because He wants to be our closest friend, but he also wants us to talk about Him simply because there is nothing better and more beneficial for us to talk about. Because God loves us so much He only wants the best for us, and He knows that the best for us is to talk about Him.

P.S. God Loves You

Being a Christian is an extraordinary privilege. It is not the result of our own doing nor is it a reward for the elite of humanity. It is merely the freely given gift of the Father to a broken creation that He loves very much. I think that if we really experience God for who He truly is, we would tell everyone about the gift that He offers. The beauty of the gift is not wealth, it’s not pleasure nor is it status or fame; it is God Himself. As a Father, God loves us so much and wants to give us only the best and the best He can give us is Himself; nothing is more than God. If God didn’t love us that much He would give us money, earthly pleasure and maybe a few thousand followers on Instagram to boost our self-esteem, but because He loves us so, so much He wants to give us that which won’t temporarily fill us and leave us empty afterwards. He loves us too much to offer us a gift that won’t sustain us and fill us with significance and purpose.

That is why the Bible tells us to not pursue sexual pleasure, or fame or money or alcohol or anything other than Jesus. It’s not to keep us from living a good life; it’s to help us realize that pursuing these things will only frustrate us, because it’s not the real deal. We get distracted and follow what seems to be fulfilling in this world, but we end up disappointed and full of shame and guilt. So many people think the Christian life is full of rules that just exhaust all the joy out of life, but I don’t think they understand. Being a Christian is a declaration that you finally realize that what God offers is better than all. It fills all the voids and gives reason for life, it fills us with purpose.

Reading the Bible is like God’s way of saying I am what you have been looking for; I am the best you can ever experience or find in your entire existence. So don’t pursue earthly things, because it‘s going to promise what only I can give you, but will never be able to deliver on that promise. It might sound arrogant, but it’s the purest form of love. It’s God looking at you and saying I love you so much, that I only want to give you the best, and since nothing can be better or more than Me, because I am God, I am offering myself to you. Pursue Me, follow Me, put your trust in Me and I won’t let go of you, I will never let you down, but you have to follow Me with your entire heart, because following Me while simultaneously following something else will only hinder your sight and you won’t realize who I truly am.

See God loves you, and I know it’s been said all over the place, everyone has probably heard or seen the words “God loves you”, but allow it to sink in, to really see the words you are looking at. Realizing that GOD… LOVES…YOU. Even though the mistakes, even though the shameful acts you never thought you’d do, even though the disappointment you might think you are, God sent His Son, Jesus, to take that all away. He only wants you to realize that He is what you have been looking for.

My prayer truly is that you understand the desire God has for you to accept the fact that He already chose you and that He wants you to choose Him in response. I am writing this not because I am victorious in all of my struggles in life and have a blueprint to successful Christianity, but because I am now able to see that it’s not because of reaching a certain level of purity that fills me and makes sense of this thing we call life, it’s only because I realized it’s only God and the pursuit of Him that can possibly add value to such a broken person and He can add value to you too.

Change of Heart

Part 1 of 3

It is very difficult today to know where Christianity is going and whether or not it is going in the direction God intended it to go. Around every corner there is a different opinion on what is true and what isn’t. A common one is the whole debate around Joel Osteen and the preaching of prosperity Gospel. Another one is Hillsong church which is often criticized to be more of a business than a church. On the other hand you have all these different church denominations, each having their own doctrine and as a Christian I am confused to why there are so many. After all God only gave us one Bible.

That said I have come to know that if you really want to, you can manipulate the Biblical message to say whatever you want it to say. As a theology student a significant part of my studies is about philosophers and theologians and their opinions on certain topics, on a lot of topics actually, and through this I have to decipher what the right or most accurate answer is. Based on the theology of ten others I have to form my own theology and then when I graduate I share my theology with others. So I understand where all these different perspectives and opinions come from. My concern though is that what if we all go out and share our own view on Christianity, but fail to share the truth.

I would want nothing more than to have you reading this blog, study the Bible and decide for yourself whether or not what you are reading is Biblical or not. Don’t just take my word for it. I honestly believe in my heart that I am writing that which God wants me to write. I started this blog because God told me to start this blog, but it would be very naive of anyone to read my blog and just declare it to be truth. I pray that you would study the Bible, pursue Jesus and decide for yourself whether or not it is beneficial for you to read this blog.

Today we become hooked on the latest update on what Christianity is and establish that to be the truth. Every opinion we hear, every article we read and every sermon we listen to form our image of Christianity, but we don’t even bother to read the Bible ourselves. For almost a decade I have been a Christian and for the majority of it I followed the latest, most persuasive view on Christianity that had fallen on my ears. So many times I felt disheartened because I did that which the church said I should do in order to be a Christian, but internally I never experienced it having a real transformation in my life. I missed the whole point of deciding to be a Christian, because I never pursued understanding Christianity for myself.

Part 2 of 3

At the age of about 10 or 11 years old I decided to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Till this day I have no idea what the date or time of that decision was, but I know I did it. Often I would get these thoughts that maybe I didn’t really commit to Jesus and that it is just a created memory. Even though I knew this were all lies I was led to think that I needed a day, a date, that I can recall on which I decided to follow Jesus. As a result of this I felt I needed to answer an altar call and physically in that manner accept Jesus. So on the evening of the 20th of October 2013, in a Hillsong Somerset West service I raised my hand and stood up at the altar call and physically proved that I accept Jesus in my life even though I was a Christian for about 8 years at that point. For the following week I felt really close to God and was determined to change my habits and prioritize my life even more around Jesus. I was motivated to study the Bible and actually live my life according to it. Unfortunately though this only lasted for about a week and then everything slowly faded back to how they were before I stood up in church. Yes I was still a Christian by faith, but just without the passion and devotion to God, saying I follow Him but not necessarily proving it with my entire life.

The following year God started to say to me that I should get baptized. I grew up in a church where you can only get baptized as a baby and even though I was baptized as a baby God would often remind me that He still wanted me to get baptized; and so in 2014, on the 16th of August I got baptized. Even though I knew that baptism doesn’t determine whether or not a person goes to heaven, I still viewed baptism as a requirement. Something God requires us to do before He enable us to live a life that pleases Him, but two days after being baptized my life was back to normal. I thought I was going to experience something amazing inside of me, something that will make me follow Jesus with a great passion for the rest of my life, but that wasn’t the case. I still had the same desires to do wrong, the same meek desire to read the Bible and to do what it says.

My Christian life was constantly up and down and I would often attend church and afterwards go home, declare to God that from now on I will seek Him above all else, but then after a day or two it would fade away. It’s like going to a Christian conference and afterwards being fired up and ready to change the world, but then after a few days the passion fades away. It is like having terrible tooth pain. When you experience the pain you tell yourself that you will brush your teeth every day, floss and do a daily mouth wash, but when the tooth pain goes away, suddenly you forget about the pain and lose your discipline to care for your teeth.

As a Christian my desire is to be fully committed to Christ. I don’t want to be a hypocrite that speaks a life different to that which I live. God says in Revelation 3:16 that He spits the lukewarm out of His mouth. I don’t want to be lukewarm and for the majority of the last 10 years that is exactly what I was. I pursued a moment where everything would instantly change. I thought I would have a burning bush moment and that everything will change forever. That I will never have bad desires or sinful thoughts ever again, but I had it so wrong. I misunderstood baptism for what it is intended for. I misunderstood what the altar call is all about.

Christianity is actually very simple and it can be described in one sentence. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). It is really all about this. God wants us to love Him with our entire being, with everything that we are. This is what Jesus wants from us, a heart that desires after Him every second of every day, but to get baptized and hope to receive such a heart is being naïve. To raise your hand at an altar call and expect to have such a change of heart is being naïve. Baptism should be a reflection of the change of heart that has occurred within you and the same with responding to an altar call. Raising your hand is a physical sign of the change of heart that has taken place inside of you. Anyone can get baptized and anyone can raise their hand in church, but not everyone has a heart that is consumed with pursuing Christ.

I have heard it been said that a lot of times people make emotional decisions in church. Some of the pastors today are amazing speakers and with the keys playing in the background you are most certainly going to feel inspired and motivated. The thing is that if you have a change of heart then these moments, whether emotional or not, can only add to your relationship with Jesus. Even though after a few days that specific inspiration may fade away it doesn’t reflect the state your heart is in. Our hearts should already be for Jesus and this will only help us to be more committed. What one shouldn’t do is to pursue a cycle of inspiring moments.

Let’s say for example that your tooth hurts every Tuesday. So every Tuesday you feel pain and are determined to from now on brush your teeth every day, but by Friday you’re not motivated anymore so you stop brushing your teeth as often as you said you would. What this only indicates is that you aren’t really committed to having healthy teeth. The same goes for our Christian life. If we get inspired to live a Christian life every time we hear a good sermon, after a few days our inspiration will fade and then what? But if our hearts are already for Christ then the sermons we hear can only give us a greater love for Him. It’s like already brushing your teeth every day and then when Tuesday comes you realize you need to brush it even more. By Friday you won’t stop brushing your teeth, because you already have a desire to brush it. So the tooth pain on Tuesday functions as an extra inspiration to help you excel in that which you are already doing.

It is a frustrating thing though if we expect that a moment will give us a change of heart, a complete devotion to following Jesus. Of course there are moments in our lives that change us, for example I think about Paul on the road to Damascus. When he encountered and spoke with Jesus it all changed for him, it was a moment that determined his entire life forward. Was it an inspiring moment? Certainly, he spoke with Jesus after all, but Paul didn’t lose interest in Jesus after a few days when he got his sight back. What happened on that road was a change occurred in Paul’s heart. He wasn’t the same person anymore. Sure he looked the same, but internally he was a different person. Did Paul get baptized shortly after he got his sight back? Yes, but his baptism was a declaration of what had already occurred inside of him.

What I for almost a decade pursued was a moment like this, a moment where everything would automatically just change, but I now realize that what I needed to pursue was a change of heart. I realize now that this is how Christianity works, well for me anyway. To say that all Christians have and need the same process to get to Jesus is totally wrong.

Part 3 of 3

Now what I want to talk about is that change of heart. What is it really and how does one have one’s heart changed? In Matthew 16:24 and Luke 9:23 we read about how Jesus said to His disciples that if any of them wants to be His follower, he must turn from his selfish ways, take up his cross and follow Him. The part that we often don’t realize is that this actually includes carrying our cross as we follow Him. Jesus isn’t describing a dead lift here. Jesus didn’t say pick up your cross, then put it down again, and now follow me. It is one action, one movement. On a different occasion Jesus spoke to a large crowd that followed Him, and told them that if they wanted to be His disciples, they should first calculate if they have what it takes. He used a story of a builder among others and said the following in Luke 14:28-29:

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.”

Jesus said that in the same way you would calculate what it costs to build a house before you build it, you should think and calculate whether or not you are truly committed to see your walk with Him through till the end. Now what does this have to do with a change of heart? Well actually everything. See no one builds a house before drawing up some plans and checking their balance to see if they have enough money for the project. Now Jesus only addressed this part, the planning and calculating part, but what good is it to have the plan, to have the finance, to have the equipment, but not have the house? My point is that even though Jesus said we must calculate, I believe He also wants us to think further, He wants us to go and actually build that house.

See having a change of heart is calculating and deciding that you are willing and committed to following Jesus as He says we should in His word, but proving the change of heart is in the life that follows after that calculation. You calculate and then you build the house until it is finished. That is how you know you actually have what it takes. Anyone can say that they have enough to build a house, but not all of them can actually prove it. In the same manner we calculate, declare and go out and prove it. We love, we forgive, we help, we inspire, we encourage and we share the Gospel. After we commit to Jesus we prove our commitment by pursuing Him, we read His word, we pray and we stay obedient to His voice. We feed the poor, we love our enemies and we love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We study His word and live it out even though we don’t want to, even though we don’t feel like it and even though it doesn’t seem to change anything.

Being a Christian takes great dedication and endurance. There is a ridiculous amount of distractions and attractive things in this world that greatly want to stop us from proving we have a change of heart. Building that house to prove you have enough isn’t easy, but only with God’s help and grace is it possible. And as we prove that we have what it takes, as we endure and persevere we claim our change of heart. We don’t have a change of heart and then go out and live according to it. We declare that we have a change of heart that desires Jesus above anything else and then we pursue it with whatever we have and we prove that we actually do have a change of heart.

My prayer is that as Christians we shouldn’t depend and hang on to moments of inspiration, but that we will claim our change of heart. My prayer is that we kneel before Jesus with a realization of how much He loves us and say to Him that our hearts are for Him; and then with faith in Him and dependence on Him we live our lives proving it and seeing it to be true.

Paul said it himself at the end of his life in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me–the crown of righteousness.” Paul declared that he had a change of heart on the road to Damascus and lived a life that proved it. He had enough to build his house and his house is pleasing to God.

So the question is… do you have a change of heart?

Why I believe in God

As a young boy I grew up knowing Jesus. I was brought up in a Christian home and going to church, reading the Bible and praying were things I experienced as normal. I gave my heart to Jesus when I was very young, probably at the age of 10 or 11 and I have walked the Christian path ever since. I never doubted the existence of God, I never needed to. There were obviously times when things were tough, I mean life happens. I often ran to God for comfort, guidance and security, but it wasn’t to such an extent that I started to doubt whether this God I’m running to actually did exist. And I always did find comfort, guidance and security in Him.

Christianity was never something I questioned. I wasn’t interested in what the scientists had to say about creation or how humans evolved from the ape. I was content with the bible and the Christian beliefs. Just over a year ago I started to mentor a young person who at that time considered himself to be an atheist. For the first time I encountered someone who didn’t believe in Jesus and had no problem confirming it. I was offered Christianity on a plate by my parents and I decided to accept it and make it my life. He on the other hand didn’t receive the same offer. Growing up with an alcoholic father and having to see his parents separate because of it was definitely not my life. I realized then that what I believe in and see as the only and obvious path to take, others simply don’t. Where is God in divorce? In an alcoholic parent? I never had to weigh my faith up against such painful realities of life. How can I tell an atheist that Jesus is real and that He makes all things well? I don’t have any scientific knowledge that could prove what I believe and even if I did would it be enough? There is no experiment for proving God exists.

Even though I was raised to believe in God, that is not why I believe. I have had too many moments where I have seen God in my life, both in the little things, but also in the big, life-changing things.

In 2012 I finished high school and went off to Stellenbosch University to study mechatronic engineering. I was excited and thought I was going to be able to maintain my high school marks throughout my further studies. At that point I have never failed or even came close to failing a test or module so I probably had reason to feel confident. First semester came and gone. We had 5 modules from which I passed 4 and failed 1, but that’s not too bad right. Second semester came and gone. Again we had 5 modules, but this time I failed 4 and passed 1. I never expected to get these results. I studied hard, I wrote the exams okay, but I still failed by quite a margin. Being certain that engineering was the career for me I was devastated when this happened. I failed to such an extent that I couldn’t continue to study engineering and switching universities wasn’t an offer on the table. I was broken. The only other study directions I could pursue were basic economics, education and a few other degrees I also weren’t interested in. I really disliked them all and definitely wouldn’t study any one of them. I was sold out for engineering and having received a 4-year free bursary I thought that it was definitely a sign that God wanted me to study it, but then this happened.

For about 30 days after I received my results back I was lost. I isolated myself from friends and spent hours in my room every day asking God what I should do. I wasn’t good company, I was embarrassed, confused and sad. I cried. I got angry at myself for not having studied harder and all I could think about was “what am I going to study?”, “Am I going to study?” Above all I didn’t just want to study anything, I wanted to do what God wanted me to do, otherwise I will just end up here again. So for 30 days every day I prayed, felt discouraged, didn’t smile a lot and kept on waiting for God to show me an answer. I asked God for clarity and to show me what He wanted me to do, but in return all I got was silence.

Time was running out and soon I had to return to the university to let them know what degree I wanted to change to. I later realized I had the option to study forestry for a year, which had almost identical first year modules as engineering, and then afterwards just continue with my engineering degree, but I knew God didn’t want me studying engineering. As the days remaining got less I started to hear God’s voice. It wasn’t an audible voice, but I started to think of studying theology. Even though I was a Christian almost my entire life I have never thought of studying theology and being someone preaching the message of Jesus like that. I didn’t think I could, I was terrified of speaking in front of people, but the desire started to grow in me to study theology and to confirm that it was truly God’s will and not just my own feelings, God gave me three signs.

  1. In the first few months of studying engineering God told me to start a Facebook page through which He can use me to share His word and help others on their Christian journey. One evening I made a post on purpose and felt unsure about how to spell the word ‘purpose’. So that evening, while waiting in KFC for my order, I Googled ‘purpose’ and after seeing the correct spelling I thought why not scroll down. I came across an article written by Melissa Evans that talked about soul purpose and how we should follow our hearts in our decisions and not just take the option that best accommodates our friends and family. When I read this I felt a sensation rush through me and I knew it was God telling me to study theology.
  1. The second sign I got was also near the end of that 30 day period when I felt so lost and discouraged. While lying on my bed, and not knowing what to think I felt something tell me to read a book, which is definitely not normal. So I got up, went to my bookshelf and took a book I had bought over a year ago and probably read over 8 months ago at that time. It was the book “Life Without Limits” by Nick Vujicic. Amazingly enough the page I had stopped at all those months ago started with Nick Vujicic writing about how he had to decide between either pursuing accounting, because he is good in numbers, or pursuing a life of public speaking and sharing the love of God through that. Accounting would have been the safe, logical option and it would’ve best satisfied his parents also. But Nick decided to pursue Jesus full time instead and be a beacon of hope for this world by traveling and encouraging people through his story all over the world. When I read about how he chose Jesus, I realized again that Jesus was telling me to pursue Him by studying theology.

 Nick Vujicic

  1. The last sign I got was a photo I saw on Facebook. Now usually I see a lot of photos and just scroll by, but when I saw this particular photo I immediately stopped. It described my situation so well, because for a long time I was actually contemplating theology, but only as a thought and I always ignored it, because I felt the possibility of it happening was just nonexistent.


On the 30th December 2013, 01:51 to be exact, I thought about all these signs and how everything has worked out and so I prayed to God and made the decision to study theology and pursue not my own will but that of God’s. To be honest, I wasn’t 100% sure if I was making the right decision. I knew what I felt in those three moments and I could see looking back over the past few years that God had caused everything to work out for the best, but there was still doubt in me. Shouldn’t I rather study forestry for a year and then just continue with engineering? But I chose to ignore the doubt and uncertainty, and trust what God had shown me. I decided to lean not on my own understanding, but to place my life in God’s hands and just trust Him and that has been the greatest decision I have ever made. This has led me to start this blog, to mentor 15 people, to be a youth leader and to speak confidently in front of people. God has used me to help my once atheist friend become a Christian. I am in awe of what has happened only from that one decision. I shudder to think at where I would’ve been if I hadn’t made that decision and even more so, if I hadn’t been a Christian. Definitely not writing this post and maybe studying basic economics and hating what I do.

If it hadn’t been for God’s grace and direction I don’t know what I would’ve done. He has shown me so many times that He is real. I cannot doubt anymore. Sometimes God is silent, but He is there and He will never leave us. He has given us His spirit, we are never alone.

Like saying I am in love, I cannot prove it. I may buy flowers and chocolates for that special person as a sign of my love, but it’s not proof that I am in love. Having affection and caring for someone are signs of love, but it’s not proof of love. I can say the sweetest words and show the greatest attention to the small things, but it’s not proof of love. It can easily be false, pretended and insincere. Only I will truly know if I am in love or not and I will never be able to prove it, but I know what I feel and I know it is true. In the same way I cannot prove that God is real, but I know what I feel and I know what I have seen and I know it is true. I know how God has worked and helped me in my life and I cannot imagine how lost I would’ve been without Him, and if you ask Him, He will show you He is real too.

Love is Real. God is Love. God is Real.

God’s Gift

When I think about the cross and the death of Jesus I am silenced, in awe, grateful, but also bewildered. I read through the Gospels and I see how Jesus suffered persecution and ultimately died on the cross in the most horrific way. It’s the greatest love story ever; God the Father sending His Son to take away the sin of the world. Today we celebrate this and give praise to God for what He had done, for what Jesus had done and for the Holy Spirit who lives within us and helps us realize what this actually means for those who believe.

Because of the cross and Jesus’ resurrection we can smile. We can live with this freedom and authority over sin. We know that eternity now has a home and we can spend it in the presence of God. Even though we often struggle with sin and turn from God we know that it’s not about our good deeds or the lack thereof, but about what Christ had already done and declared finished. I love the initial words of John the Baptist when he saw Jesus, saying “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” It’s amazing the impact of Jesus’ life. We find purpose and joy in Him. We get to laugh with Him and cry with Him. We can place our hope in Him and know that He won’t disappoint us, but best of all we get to experience the unconditional love of God that just breaks our mental capacity to understand.

Everything is so good for us, we receive the benefits of an act we didn’t do, couldn’t do and don’t deserve. In the Bible we read that Jesus prayed, asking His Father if there isn’t any possibility that His suffering might be different, asking if there isn’t any other way, yet still He wants His Father’s will to be done and not His own. Jesus said that His soul was crushed with grief to the point of death. He was in such agony that His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Isaiah 53 says that Jesus’ face was tortured and disfigured to such an extent that He didn’t seem human. From His appearance one couldn’t really see that He was a man. Apart from Jesus’ physical suffering, His greatest suffering was spiritually; for He had the entire world’s sin on His shoulders. 1 Peter 2:24 says that He carried our sins in His body on the cross.

This is for me just incredible and it adds to why I am bewildered when I think of the cross. I can’t fathom why Jesus endured such pain and agony just to save me and you. We will never be able to say that Jesus’s death made sense, because we are remarkable human beings, because we are not. Even though God made us in a remarkable way, we sin every day. Our lives aren’t remarkable and we fall so far short of God’s standard. We are not to die for, yet for us Jesus did die for. It just shows that the love God has for us is too great for us to understand. It requires no standard, it demands no return and it gives with no intention to receive.

Even though in this piece I ponder on the question why Jesus died for us, I think that we shouldn’t be on a mission to understand God’s love, because we won’t. Rather we should embrace it, experience it and let it change us, but most importantly we must love with it and share Jesus’ story to the whole world for everyone must know that they are loved more than they could ever understand.

“…And then there is the love for the enemy–love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured’s love for the torturer. This is God’s love. It conquers the world.”  ~ Frederick Buechner


Real Christianity isn’t easy

As a Christian it is a special thing to see someone give their heart to Jesus. Experiencing the moment when they decide to follow God and believe in all that He has done. It is the ultimate reward. For we were told by Jesus to go out and make disciples of all nations. It is the best decision anyone can make. It doesn’t necessarily change your life instantaneously, but your whole life now has a different route it follows. A route of hope, love, purpose and joy. A route where Jesus walks with you and will never abandon you.

Although the Bible says that every time a person decides to repent and follow Jesus that Heaven rejoices, it also says that the path suddenly became a lot narrower. Suddenly we have to say no to things we used to gladly say yes to; and we have to say yes to certain things we used to say no to. When I recall some of the Scriptures I have read I think of how in Hebrews 12:1 the author says that we must run with endurance the race God has set before us. Why would he put the word endurance in there? Because as a Christian that is what you need in order to survive. Without endurance we won’t be able to resist temptations. We will continually be dragged into sinful things if we don’t have the endurance to go against our own desires and stand on the word of God.

In Ephesians 6 from verse 10 we read about the armor of God. Nothing easy requires an armor. Especially not one with 6 individual parts each serving a significant purpose, but Paul recommends that we put it on so that we can stand firm against the devil’s strategies. That moment when we decide to follow Christ, we enter into a spiritual war and we need this armor or else we stand little chance of winning. It describes how we are fighting not against humans, but against evil authorities in the heavenly realms. 1 Peter 5:8 describes the devil as a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. John 10:10 says that the devil comes only to steal, kill and destroy. It is very clear that as Christians we certainly have opposition.

I like the way the Message translation puts it:

And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. (Ephesians 6:10-12 MSG)

For me the greatest indication that the Christian life is a struggle is the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:24.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”

Being a Christian is essentially a two-movement process. We have to run from certain things, but at the same time we run towards certain things. Most of the time the things we must run from are things our bodies desire. Whether it’s lust, jealousy, anger, forgiveness, pride or any other thing we need to decide that we are not going to be acquainted with these things, but that we will pursue righteousness. 1 Timothy 6:11 and 2 Timothy 2:22 speak about this pursuit of righteousness. Note that righteous living is not a destination. It is something you strive towards and run after every day in every decision you make.

To get back to Matthew 16:24, I want you to picture Jesus picking up His cross and carrying it. The Bible tells us that Jesus was too weak to carry it beyond the city walls and so Simon of Cyrene carried it to the place of His crucifixion on Golgotha (Latin equivalent is Calvary). I can’t see this cross to be anything light weight, nor do I imagine Jesus carrying it over tough terrain with little effort. Now Jesus says that if we decide to follow Him we must take up our own cross, and follow Him. This isn’t an easy carry your backpack moment. This is difficult and tiring and sometimes you’ll fall and sometimes you’ll carry it with great passion, but to assume that it is going to be an easy, blessing filled, prosperous journey from start to finish is just being naive.

Galatians 5 speaks about the fruits of the Spirit and also the fruits of the flesh. As human beings we are merely soul, spirit and flesh, to be very basic now. The Holy Spirit living within us, as Christians, produces good fruits in us such as love, joy, peace etc, but our flesh produces evil fruits in us such as jealousy, envy, sexual immorality etc. As Christians we have the responsibility to choose which fruits will form part of our identity. We will have to resist the flesh’s fruits and accommodate the fruits of the Spirit.

I believe that there is wisdom in knowing the tough terrain ahead and preparing yourself so that you can still be standing when the terrain evens out. Jesus even said it Himself, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27 NIV). Further on in Luke 14 Jesus speaks about how we must calculate the cost required to be a Christian before we claim to be one and then live a life that contradicts it.

My purpose with this piece is neither to instigate fear into people nor to make Christianity look intimidating for non-Christians. My purpose is to stir up a fight in God’s people that causes them to deny themselves and seek the will of God. Being a Christian for almost a decade now, for the vast majority of this decade I thought that I was going to have a burning bush moment and then everything will change. I thought I was going to watch the best sermon on YouTube or attend a Passion conference and then everything will just be easy and smooth sailing. No more temptations, no more struggles. Just beautiful conflict-free days leading one after the other, but that’s not how it works. Although conferences and sermons guide you and feed you spiritually (and I love both of them), God has still given us the freedom to choose. Either we choose to please ourselves, which leads to nothing, or we choose to please God and gain everything.

The Christian path isn’t always the easiest journey, but it is the best journey you can ever go on. It fills you with significance, purpose, joy, love and being able to have a relationship with Jesus is just amazing beyond comprehension. The Christian life might not always be easy, but it’s definitely worth it.

Real Christianity changes lives

While I grew up I saw all these different perspectives and definitions of what Christianity is. I saw people declaring with their words that Jesus is their savior, but then turned around and lived these lives that went against it on so many levels. I went to churches that stood more for their doctrine and tradition than for the life of Jesus and what it means for those who believe in Him.

When I started my theology studies in 2014, during the first week everyone had to stand up and share something about themselves and say from which denomination they were. I honestly never knew there were so many denominations. I didn’t even know what the denomination of the church I went to was. I didn’t even know what this word “denomination” meant, but who I did know was Jesus and I thought that was all that mattered. I believe that Christianity is not defined by what church you attend, but by the life of Jesus Christ that changes lives.

I’ve approached people on the street sharing the Gospel with them, but afterwards I felt in my heart that I would’ve been more effective if I just showed interest in their lives, asking them how they were and actually meaning it, and telling them how much God loves them. I have realized that the reality of heaven and hell isn’t enough to make people follow Christ. Knowing that hell awaits us if we don’t believe in Jesus is not enough to make us believe in Jesus. I have chosen to sin so many times with the thought of Jesus on the cross in my head and I felt so bad about it afterwards, but as humans we make really stupid decisions sometimes.  The real part of Christianity that I believe actually causes people to turn from their ways is not knowing that if you don’t believe in Christ you will go to hell, but rather that even if you never choose to follow Christ, His love for you will never change, even if you consciously sin, even if your past is full of shame and even if you can’t guarantee a pure future. His love for you is constant and unconditional.

I don’t ever think we’ll be able to really understand this love of God for us, but I am sure that if we seek Him we will start to get just a glimpse of the big picture and we will have no choice than to throw down all our stuff, all our excuses and all our reasons why He could never love us and just accept the fact that He actually accepts us just as we are and follow Him. For love covers a multitude of sins.

If I could isolate one aspect of Jesus’ life that I really love, except everything else, it would be the way in which He ignored all social, cultural, religious, racial and gender barriers. He disregarded all norms of society just to talk to the outcast. Just to influence their hearts and to show them that He cares about them. Even though Jesus knew how perfect He was, without a hint of sin, He still went out to those living in shame. Sometimes we feel so righteous that we cannot seem to see the need in others. All we see are the mistakes people have made. Real Christianity breaks every barrier just to touch the heart of another, just to show interest in someone else for who they are and not the choices they have made. I think that nothing gives us a greater heart to help others than having a good understanding of the scandalous grace of God for us.

We will never be able to show people the love of God if we highlight their mistakes, even if it’s just as a thought in our heads. One thing we can be certain of is that everyone has sin, everyone makes mistakes and everyone has fallen short of God’s standard. So why do we feel better than other people just because they sin differently than us? But everyone is offered the love of God, His forgiveness and His grace. The same price paid to save me was paid to save someone else. We are all equally bad and so we must go out and focus on how equally loved we are by the Father and not how different our sins are through the eyes of the world.

For real Christianity focuses on loving others, and when they don’t love back, even if they will never love back, we keep on loving others. For that is what Christ did for us. Real Christianity changes lives, just like Jesus changed ours.

Seeking Jesus with the purpose of finding Jesus.

Are you following Jesus for Jesus… Or are you following Him for the benefits of following Him?

While sitting with a few of my friends in a group we were asked this question when we attended a small Christian event at our high school. At the time I probably didn’t think too much of it, but it stuck with me till this day, and I have to say, I cannot honestly say that I truly seek Jesus solely for Jesus. If all I get was Jesus would I really be content and satisfied with Him? Or is my heart’s desire for something else?

It might be easy to say that we desire Jesus more than money or fame, but do we seek Him more than we run from other things? You might struggle with an addiction and thus seek Jesus because you heard He breaks internal bondage and chains. Maybe you want to achieve a self-righteous life and you seek Jesus in the hopes of attaining that. Or you believe that only Jesus can make you the person your soul mate requires you to be and thus seeks Him with an ulterior motive. Imagine you were offered all the dreams and desires of your heart on the one hand and on the other Jesus stood there with a smile waiting on you to follow Him. Which option would you choose? Now look at your life and think about what decision your life truly reflect? Do you really live a life that reflects a person with a heart fully satisfied with Jesus and who He is?

Personally I am often guilty of this. I have experienced in my life that if I don’t on a constant basis seek Jesus, whether it is through prayer, studying the Bible, going to church or just having a normal daily conversation with Him, then I feel tempted and more vulnerable to seek for purpose in worldly things. If I had to stop praying, stop attending church and stop reading the Bible for a month  I would be in such a bad place and so off track. My personality would not resemble that of Christ and the fruits I would bear would be tasteless. Sometimes the fear of ending up like that is the main motivation why I go to church or pray or read my Bible. So how can I say that I truly seek Jesus for Jesus when I’m seeking Him only to obtain a socially more acceptable life as a Christian?

One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible is Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” 

At times I feel that I seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness only to get to the “all things shall be added unto you” part. But it doesn’t make sense. It’s like marrying someone only to inherit their possessions when they eventually pass away, and then realizing that the person self was better than anything he or she could possibly have to offer. My point being that Jesus is the great treasure, not the blessings He can give you.

Jesus said it Himself in John 4:13-14, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” 

Jesus has always been the answer. We should learn how to focus only on Him. Not to seek Him so that we can obtain the perfect life only He can give us. The Bible says that the plans God has for us are more than what the human mind can comprehend (Isaiah 55:8-9). Sometimes this looks so attractive that we forget to add up, realizing that if the plans God has for us are so great, then how much greater mustn’t God be, the source of all these amazing plans!

Having a perfect job, perfect family and perfect life is great, but is that our goal? We are created to make a big deal of Jesus and His glory. And we should be content with that, for it’s only when we find rest, joy and purpose in Jesus for who He is, that we are able to fully enjoy the amazing plans and blessings that will follow. Seeking a righteous life by using Jesus as means to get there is almost impossible, but seeking Jesus only to find Him, will surely give you a righteous life.

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” (‭John‬ ‭6‬:‭35-40‬ NLT)

God is not mad at you

I think that if we could just for a second understand the pure love God has for us we would be changed forever. Growing up I got the idea that if Christianity was a company the words “God loves you” would probably be the slogan. Then again the Bible does say on a couple of occasions that God is love, so it probably wouldn’t be a bad fit. Strangely enough I separated God from His love when I would think about how He operates. Of course I know God is big, but His love couldn’t be that big also, could it?

I gave my heart to Jesus at quite a young age, I think I was 12 years old or something, but for the vast majority of my life as a Christian my idea of God was that He is looking down at me watching my every move and if I slip up I would make Him angry and disappointed. I thought I existed to make God happy and that I should try my very best to not sin and that if I do sin I should ask at least 3 times for Him to forgive me otherwise my prayers just weren’t sincere enough. I believed I needed to pursue and beg for His forgiveness.

I thought the relationship God wants with us is like that between a master and his slave, which never seems to be good enough. Whenever I sinned I felt so guilty and that I needed to give God a day or two to deal with my sin and if I did something really bad He got fed up with me and left me to fend for myself. Like if I did something wrong just before a soccer match or an exam for example, I believed that I wouldn’t do well as a sign of His anger at me.

But then God slowly showed me His love and how unconditional it is. Picture Jesus carrying His cross up Golgotha, He was actually thinking of each one of us as He headed to the place of His death. He thought about every sin you will every commit, the small, the big, the sin you consciously commit and the sin you unconsciously commit. The sin you never thought you would ever commit because you’re not “that sinful” right. He thought about it all yet still went to the cross and said Father let your will be done. God the Father sent Jesus to earth with the purpose of becoming our sin and paying the price for us.

Not just that, God took all the anger and disappointment and sadness that all our sin could ever cause Him and took it out on His own Son, Jesus. Jesus didn’t just take away our sin, He took away the wrath of God that was meant for us.

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭53‬:‭4-7‬ NLT)

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5‬:‭21‬ NLT)

God doesn’t have any anger left to feel towards you. He already dealt with sin 2000 years ago, we should stop making such a big deal about something God declared outdated 20 centuries ago. Sin has been overcome. What did you think Jesus meant when He uttered the words “it is finished?” The negative impact sin would’ve had, God equals with His grace. We have been set free of sin.

If you only swear once a day, God loves you. And if you swear 200 times a day, and you consider it a good day, then God still loves you and equally at that! I have found that sin have become a greater issue than what Jesus is recognized to be the solution. If our goal is to get as far away from sin, rather than as close as possible to God then we won’t be very successful. It’s in realizing that all we need is Jesus that we find the strength and desire to move away from our sin.

Knowing God is actually smiling at me every second of every day and telling me He loves me took me quite a while to believe. I’m still sometimes in awe about it, because I’m so unworthy of His love. But lets embrace it and live it out. Lets accept God’s mind-blowing love for us and love others with the same love that He has placed inside of us. Don’t look at the other person’s sin. Jesus also took their sin away, our job is to love. Love God and love others. No matter what work you do. No matter what race they are. No matter if they are gay or has tattoos or smokes or don’t go to church or don’t believe in Jesus.

God never said love if… He just said love.

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. (‭1 John‬ ‭4‬:‭16‬ NLT)

To be Christian: the Post

Growing up I used to believe that I was a Christian. I would declare with my mouth that I am a Christian and there would be no hesitation within me to say that I am a Christian if someone would ask me. Complementing this I was seen as a Christian by all my peers. I was quiet and wouldn’t necessarily hang with my peers who would drink or smoke. I had a reputation of being a good kid, doing fairly well in school. I had good manners and people often said I smiled a lot. Not speaking much and just taking in what I saw others do I wasn’t aware of the Christian light that I was shining to those who knew me.

See back then I was proud of the moral standard I was adhering to. The moral Christian standard. I wasn’t known for doing worldly things and this made me more of a Christian then actually following Christ everyday. At that age I wasn’t aware of Christian doctrine and what it truly meant to be a Christian even though this was what I was unconsciously declaring by the way I live. I didn’t swear, drink or smoke and this made everyone think that I was a Christian. Even though everyone knew that I was a Christian, it wasn’t because I believed or had a relationship with Jesus, it was based solely on me living a good moral life where worldly things wasn’t very easy to see.

Forwarding about 5 to 10 years, writing this piece now I can’t help but think that the idea of what a Christian is, is so blurred and conflicted in contemporary life.

When I read the Bible I get a very clear description of what a Christian is. More so the type of person he or she should be. How their whole personality should be love-based and they should have this joy unspeakable living inside of them and should have nothing to do with sexual immorality, hate, jealousy, pride and idolatry to name a few. That said, what I also see in Scripture is that living like this is not the reason why people are called Christians. This is just the result or consequence of something that happened before.

You see what took me years to understand and what I’m even still seeking to fully grasp is that no one, not me, not you, not the pastor you YouTube and not even the disciples could’ve lived in a pure and holy enough way that would earn them the title “Christian.” The only reason anyone can call themselves a Christian is if they believe in Jesus Christ and what He did that enables us to have a way to God the Father. What makes us Christians is that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot earn salvation, it is a free gift from God that He offers to us through Jesus and we have the choice to either accept or reject it. Accepting this gift is what enables us to say with confidence that we are Christians. It’s all about what Jesus did on the cross for us and not what we do today that might seem “good” by this world’s standards.

Living with an overflow of love in your heart comes from having a healthy understanding of what Jesus did for you out of a love that is humanly incomprehensible. To know that Jesus died for me in spite of all my sins! Willingly taking the nails through His body on that cross even though He knows that I might refuse to accept and believe what He had done for me. It blows my mind and I just have to love others in return, but not out of obligation but through joy and love.

So don’t feel like less of a Christian if you sinned more that usual, because it doesn’t and will never change what Jesus already did for you. Place all your focus on Him and through this He will make you a new creation. God doesn’t want a better, cleansed up version of you, He just wants you as you are with or without sin, it doesn’t intimidate Him, He only wants you to enter into a relationship with Him. He loves you in spite of your sin and your issues and your problems. He loves you more than you could imagine and you just have accept Him.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (‭Revelation‬ ‭3‬:‭20‬ NLT)

I’ll end with one of my favorite Scriptures and I really hope that reading this leads you to understand that Jesus>Religion (in the words of Jefferson Bethke lol) and that you see that He loves you so so much! 🙂

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (‭Ephesians‬ ‭2‬:‭8-10‬ NLT)

His Love and Grace are Real

For me one of the greatest proof that God’s love and grace is real is the fact that I am still on earth. If I were God I would’ve given up on me years ago. The amount of times that I have consciously disobeyed God is so many and I know more than anyone that God has a specific plan for my life on earth and He has a purpose with my existence just as He has with everyone. So often I have experienced the joy and absolute peace and happiness of following His plan for me, but then at times I would choose to ignore God and place spending time with Him way at the bottom of my list; the part which I often don’t get to. I’ll create such a distance between me and God even though I know the Holy Spirit is pulling me with great strength back to God.

Selfish in my ignorance at times I just looked the Holy Spirit in the eye and then continued to walk away from God. Like the prodigal son I cared about present pleasures and momentary significance. But even on the course to destruction and heading for the wages of sin which I am consciously aware of there is this constant and undeniable resistance to my waywardness.

As I fall in disobedience and seek after the things of this world I can still feel His love calling me back to follow Him. I sincerely don’t know why though. God sent Jesus to earth to die for us, but why? Why would he send His only Son? Because He loves us yes, but why does He love us? It’s not like we are these impressive, special edition beings and should be honored and valued. On the contrary, we are frail and fragile. Having the potential to sin at any moment and so often we do. So why does God love us so much then? It’s not that He can benefit from it. God is not going to add to Himself by loving us, He is complete and lacking nothing. So the question still is, that if God is not going to gain anything from loving us, why does He love us then?

I honestly believe that He wants to love us. I believe that God is obsessed about us and He so badly wants to have a relationship with us. No structured religion where rituals and traditions are the outline of the day. No cleaning yourself and getting everything in order to be acceptable in His eyes, but just coming to Him as you are. I believe He loves us, because He is love and loving us is who He is. Even writing this it is still hard to fathom and grasp His love. His love is so difficult for us to understand, because it doesn’t demand or require a standard. He doesn’t love us if… He loves us period. It is freely offered to all and everyone can experience His love. It is created for all. God doesn’t need us, yet wants us. He cannot gain anything from loving us, yet still loves us. I don’t think I’ll ever understand His love, but it has changed my life forever and especially because He loves me even though I am so unworthy of His love, that I live to follow Him and the journey is amazing and following Him is my purpose in this world.

“There is a moral law in life that men are left to the consequences of their own freely chosen course of action, and unless this tendency is reversed by divine grace, their situation will go from bad to worse.”

It’s just amazing to me, how we follow things in our ignorance seeking temporary pleasures, yet still there is this amazing grace of God that is so patient with us and never runs dry. As we travel the road most traveled to indulge in worldly things which is heading to destruction, the grace of God pulls us back to Him, but also is patient enough to wait until we realize that we need to turn back.

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. (‭1 John‬ ‭4‬:‭16‬ NLT)

Dare to Care

Growing up I used to think that it is healthy for someone to not get overly invested in others’ problems. I thought that by thinking a few thoughts of how others will help them; or how things will eventually get better for them, that this was a good way of “caring” for others. Accompanied by feeling a little compassion towards them I felt I was doing my fair share in helping humanity, seeing how those in need of help is a bit “out of my reach.”

I honestly thought that by not getting too involved in others’ struggles I am keeping myself afloat and that if I get too invested I might get depressed or something. Grateful for how God has changed my life I can now look back at a not too distant past and just thank God for not letting me grow with that mindset.

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 NIV)

I thought I was protecting myself by not caring too much for others. I actually found comfort in this. I often told myself that everyone has problems and I obviously can’t tend to everyone. This is definitely true, but if the fear of not being able to help everyone stops you from helping someone then that is such a shame.

“I am one, but I am only one. I cannot do everything , but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

I believe that God has given each of us the responsibility to care for one another. Caring for each other is in fact what Christians do. By putting yourself in other people’s shoes and by really feeling empathy towards them we add value to our own lives. As we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and feel sad for others and imagine the hurt they must be experiencing our perspective on life automatically changes. The simple things we take for granted becomes the things that add value to our everyday routine.

I challenge you to really care for someone with no strings attached, no hidden agendas and no ulterior motives. It will change your life. But care for them for them, and not for yourself. Care for others even if you don’t have someone who cares for you.

If you being good to others depends on them being good to you, then your goodness won’t last long.

As we allow ourselves to really be there for others we reflect a greater light of God into the lives of others and through this they see the love of God in us.

“I know the One who knows the further… And that makes it all better.”

It seems strange how the present can seem so intimidating to us. We, more often than not, find ourselves feeling scared, frightened, worried, even anxious about what our actions could possibly result to. It’s funny though because when I look at scripture God insists that we shouldn’t worry. On the contrary He demands us to always rejoice (Phil 4:4). I don’t see worry and rejoicing going together at all.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”(‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭25-27‬ NIV)

I think what Jesus actually means here, is exactly what He says. I often read scripture and then my initial thought is to find the meaning behind the words and not take the words literally. In many cases it is necessary for us to research the context of Scripture, but for me this is very clear. The people to whom Jesus spoke had lives with responsibilities and family and a lot of other parts of life that we can relate to and are similar to what we experience every day. Jesus told them to not worry. Period. We fill our minds with all these “what if” and “worst case scenario” thoughts and it influences our trust in Jesus’ words. Jesus never said, “do not worry, but when things really get though, it’s ok to doubt my words”.

What Jesus is saying is that Christians don’t worry.

Look at Matthew 6:33-34
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

I like the first part that says in the passive that EVERYTHING will be given to us, if we live righteously and seek, above all else, the Kingdom of God. And just to clear any uncertainty, living righteous and seeking the Kingdom of God, above all else, is what Christians do.

We actually have no excuse to worry, that is if we seek God above all else and live righteously of course. If we don’t, then we have to pray and ask God to help us live according to His word. But we live in a culture today where we expect to receive all the blessings in Scripture, but aren’t willing to be obedient to the commands in Scripture. The Bible says in John 14:15 that if you truly love God, you will obey His commands. And I know that God’s grace irons out our lazy attempts, but if we really have a desire within our hearts to fully see a manifestation of God’s word in our lives then I believe our efforts will be a lot more sincere and authentic.

“In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge.” (‭2 Peter‬ ‭1‬:‭5‬ NLT)

We must make every effort to respond to God’s promises, to God’s word. And if we do so, we can truly say that “we know the One who knows the further… and that makes it all better.” If God is our first love and we seek to grow closer to Him everyday, not out of obligation, but out of love. Then we can live a life where worry and fear for the worst is not part of our expectation, but we can walk with confidence, knowing that “He will give us everything we need”.

We weren’t created for boundaries.

Think it was a years or so ago when I watched a sermon of T.D Jakes where he described the reaction quite a few people have when they realize other people start to change their lives or even just a part of it. To jump to the end of the sermon, he made a profound statement which at the time I wasn’t able to really appreciate its meaning. He said, and I’m paraphrasing now, that people don’t want us to change, because they want to be able to label us and place us in categories they feel fit us best. Any attempt we make to change who we are will cause confusion on their side and they now have to find a new category to fit us in. People especially don’t like it when we improve ourselves, because it might lead to them having to place us into a category that is more superior to where they feel they fit in.

I have found it quite strange how we compare ourselves with others, preferably people who don’t intimidate our ego, to make us feel better about ourselves, but when we feel others are progressing in life we almost feel threatened or intimidated by them.

Whenever people tend to step outside the boundaries we consciously or unconsciously place around them, we tend to either judge or mock that person to hopefully, in our own minds, place them back into a category we feel suits them.

If everyone would discontinue this category-based judgement system and allow people to be brave in their own context and encourage them in their bravery imagine the heights we will see people reach. We should embrace the efforts people make to move forward and we should motivate them, support them and encourage them to see their efforts through. Living a life which encourages people to move forward in life even if it means that they might just move past us and reach heights we will never reach.

The reality is that the truth is only found in God’s Word, not in what we feel it should be. So even though we don’t always feel comfortable with the progression other people make, it doesn’t really matter. The plans God has for us is constant and He keeps His word.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29‬:‭11‬ NLT)

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? (‭Numbers‬ ‭23‬:‭19‬ NLT)

So let us find comfort in God and what His word says about us and not the insignificant words of others.

There is a “Q” in chosen

Touched by the heart of a new friend sitting across the table
Accepted Jesus only the previous dawn
She now has a new heavenly home

She spoke with such hope
Smiled with no worry
Believed with great sacrifice

Persecution couldn’t resist her faith
Rejected but inspired by those close to her
All for the sight of His face

She chose Christ with the knowing
Calculated the cost of the building and had enough to start the build
Sacrifice she agreed and accepted
For she knows Christ is worth it

She knows the source of her strength
She gathers courage for the day
The race is not yet finished, but she wants to run

Inspiration she is, for she gave it all
She gave her life
But became a follower of Christ.

Understanding the Armor of God

The Armor of God is a common part of scripture among Christians. Many Christians are acquainted with it and can probably recall the six pieces of armor, spoken about in Ephesians 6:10-18, with little effort. Although it is good to be aware of the Armor of God, just knowing it will not be enough to see its full effect and purpose in your life.

The Armor of God is obviously not a physical armor which you put on nor was it created to protect you against physical attacks. The Armor of God was created to protect you spiritually. Each individual parts of the Armor has a specific purpose and protects certain parts of your being. If you look at the six pieces of armor i.e. the Girdle of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Shoes of the Gospel, the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation and the Sword of the Spirit. Each are very fundamental to the life of a Christian and Paul compares it to the dress code of the Roman soldiers during the time of the early church. As each part of the physical armor protects certain parts of the physical body of a soldier, so does each part of the Armor of God, which is spiritual, protect certain parts of your spirituality.

The Armor of God is related to the Good Fight of Faith. God gives us His Armor not to look good spiritually, but because we are fighting against spiritual enemies and because we need to win this fight and be prosperous Christians. There is no use in fighting the good fight of faith if you’re not planning on winning it. Why would you fight against the sin in your life if you’re not planning on getting rid of it? We are fighting the good fight of faith, because we want to win the good fight of faith. Simply put, the good fight of faith is what you do to be a Christian. Meaning that as a Christian we need to fight against all the sinful desires within us and all the sinful things we encounter everyday in this world so that we can live a righteous sanctified life, not just hanging on to the grace of God but also wanting to be a spotless bride. This is the fight every Christian partakes in and according to the Bible, this fight ends the day you leave this earth. Look at the following scripture:

James 1:13-15 NLT

And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

As long as you are in a physical body, you will always have desires that tempt you to sin. The Bible says that we are not tempted by God, but by our own sinful desires. We don’t only have desires within us that wants us to sin, but the world around us and the people we encounter very often influences us to sin or even to want to sin and we, as Christians, need to fight against these influences and desires not physically, but spiritually and this is the good fight of faith.

We must understand the manner in which Paul writes about the Armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18. Before he describes the pieces of God’s Armor he first addresses fundamental elements to understand about the spiritual warfare we participate in as Christians and how we should use the Armor of God.

Ephesians 6:10 NLT

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

Paul starts this part of Ephesians 6, dealing with the Armor of God, with this verse. It is fundamental to understand that the Armor of God is God’s Armor. We didn’t create or form it. It’s not our Armor. The reason why I’m writing this is because you need to understand that first of all it is God’s Armor, and God’s Armor together with your strength is worth nothing and will not win you the good fight of faith. You need to find your strength in God. Seek Him and don’t try to stand strong on your own feet for it won’t last long. God’s Armor was created to be used with God’s strength. Only when this happens the Armor can serve its full purpose.

Ephesians 6:11 NLT

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

As a Christian you need to know that you are visible on satan’s radar. Non-Christians aren’t a threat for satan, but Christians who strive to do the work of God makes satan feel very uncomfortable. He is always trying to find ways to tempt you in your weakness and trying to get you to focus on the pleasures of this world rather than the eternal treasure we have in Christ.

1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

Ephesians 6:11 tells us that we need the Armor of God in order to stand strong against satan’s attacks on us and be assured there will surely be attacks on you. We need the Armor of God not to seek a life where attacks no longer come our way, but where these inevitable attacks don’t knock us off course, but we stand strong in the midst of these attacks.

Ephesians 6:12 NLT

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Like I wrote before, the Armor of God is not created to help us against physical opposition, but rather against spiritual opposition. Verse twelve indicates to us who our opposition is and who we have to fight against as Christians. Note that Paul describes these powers of the dark world as mighty. This is also why Paul uses words like “resist”, “be alert”, “stand firm” and “be prepared” throughout this particular text. We shouldn’t expect to have an easy fight or to easily be all that God has called us to be, because our opposition is mighty. Not mightier than God who lives within us, but we’ll need to give everything we are in order to walk worthy of the call that God has placed within us.

Ephesians 6:13 NLT

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

Moving on to verse thirteen, the last verse of this post, we need to grasp the detail hidden within the sentence. Paul says we must put on EVERY piece of God’s Armor. Not just those pieces that we might desperately need or those that we have already mastered. It’s important to put on every piece. If you don’t put on certain pieces than those areas of your spirituality that is left exposed will be targeted by satan. You might think you’ll be fine without the Helmet of Salvation, but satan will be aware that you’re not covering your head and will find ways to corrupt your thoughts and mindset. We shouldn’t be naive and think that we are strong enough to defeat satan with our own strength, because satan will knock us out. He will tempt you in areas which he knows you struggle with and it will discourage you immensely if you think that you can defeat satan, because you will fail almost every time. This is why satan don’t want us to grow closer to God or to have a more intimate relationship with God, because as we grow closer to God we draw strength from Him and so we become victorious in our battles against satan.

God has given us authority over evil i.e. authority over satan and sin, but we have this authority in Jesus through our faith in Him. Satan is not intimidated by your self-made methods to live pure, because most of our methods don’t last long nor does it really cleanse us from sin. But he is so terrified of what God can do through us that he has committed his entire existence, after being thrown out of heaven, to stop us from following God.

Sometimes we realize how anointed we are not necessarily by the heights we have conquered but by the resistance we have to endure to reach those heights.

In verse thirteen, Paul also says that you will have to face a time of evil. You are going to have to war against yourself and against these evil spirits in high places to be a self-controlled Christians. Paul insinuates here that we will have opposition, but also that we need the Armor of God to be victorious over this opposition and still be close to God. “Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”

This is what we need to understand if we want to get the fullness out of the Armor of God and be victorious in our good fight of faith.

A description of each piece of the Armor of God is still to be posted individually in the category titled: The Armor of God

Compare yourself to God’s standard.

We are Christians because of our faith in Christ, yet we have this amazing responsibility to act like Christians also.
God has chosen us and as His chosen followers we have to live a life that is visibly different from those not living for God. A sincere good life.
But what is this definition of good?

God’s standard is good, pure and holy. We have to compare ourselves with God’s standard. The Bible is where God describes how a real Christian should live. Just read the book James. It describes great values and characteristics of a real Christian.

We often create our own standard by looking at other people.
The Bible says that comparing yourself with others is not wise.

2 Corinthians 10:12 NIV
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

We go out and criticize other Christians so that they look bad compared to us. We do this so that we look good in our own eyes and we comfort ourselves through this. We begin to think that our sin isn’t that bad, because we highlight the failures in other Christians and suddenly we are living a good and pure life compared to them.

We have created this standard where being less hypocritical than hypocritical Christians are seen as being “pure and holy.” Even though we also live worldly and sinful lives, just because when we compare ourselves with others we seem to be “not as bad as they are” and then we consciously or unconsciously think that we live pure lives and they impure lives.

In our eyes we live a “good” life because we live a less bad life than those who say they are Christians but don’t live like it, so consequently we feel we are doing okay as Christians.

The question is, would you really feel okay with your Christian life if you stopped comparing yourself with others and started comparing yourself with the Bible?

We need to face reality and confess that hey, we are not that great of a Christian. In fact if it wasn’t for what Jesus Christ did we wouldn’t be worthy of being called a Christian. Our deeds aren’t good enough to entitle us as Christians. But Christ did die for us and He did overcome the grave, so we are Christians. Thus we must learn how to live like Christians and daily compare ourselves with His standard. And remember, this is who you were made to be. You’re not striving to live like someone you’re not, this is who you are. Christians live a Christian life!

So let’s start to be who we are in Christ even in such a broken world. Let’s stop searching for the two people in our lives that’s worse than what we are, comparing ourselves to them and coming to a conclusion that we are worthy Christians based on our lives.

Jesus’ Authority and Triumph

It’s really so overwhelming being a Christian. There is so much that I believe that really just goes straight against rationality and logic. The thought of John 3:16 where the apostle John writes about why God sent His only beloved Son, Jesus, to die for us, sinners, is not possible for me to fathom. How can God love me so much? I am insignificant and so small yet God still sees the value in me. It’s just amazing! Absolutely mind boggling the love God has for us.

Another amazing truth that I’ll never understand is the absolute immense grace of God. How He continues to forgive and choose to forget our sin is incomprehensible (Hebrews 8:12). I often reach the point where I feel as if my sin has shocked or astounded God, as if He never knew I was going to do it. No wonder Romans 2:4 says that God is so kind, tolerant and patient with us, that it leads us to repent i.e to turn from our sin. His grace is so sufficient and in overflow that it causes you to seek His holiness. His grace is so good, it doesn’t only forgive you, it also leads you to repentance.

Romans 5:20 says that where our sin increases, God’s grace towards us increases even more.

For me God’s grace and love are more believed than understood. I truly believe that God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for us, but do I understand such incredible love, not really no. All I can do is imagine and try to make sense of why such an almighty God would love me so much, because I know I am not worthy of Him. Do I believe that God’s grace is far more than my sin and covers it completely, yes, but I don’t understand the magnitude of my own sin, nor the immense grace of God that is needed to save me.

Something that is just as hard to understand, but it’s believed is the authority and triumph of Jesus over evil. I believe that Jesus overcame satan and his kingdom when He died without sin , but rationally how does one fully understand what that authority and triumph mean and how it impacts our lives?

I am righteous because I believe in Christ.

In Galatians 2:20-21 Paul makes a profound statement when he says that he is crucified with Christ, nevertheless he lives. And that the life he now lives is through Jesus Christ. Paul was not there when Jesus died on the cross, yet he makes this statement that he is crucified with Christ. This crucifixion of Paul is not physical, but through faith. Through his faith in Jesus Christ and what Jesus did, he is made one with Christ. He receives the benefits of an act he didn’t do. We are now righteous, not because we live righteous lives, because we can’t, but because we believe in someone who did live righteous and never sinned. Yet Jesus died a sinner’s death on a cross for the sin of all humanity and because we believe in Him we receive an invoice with the cost of all our sin, but it’s stamped “PAID IN FULL” with the blood of Jesus.

Colossians 2:13-15 NIV When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

So we now understand that through our faith in Jesus Christ we are righteous. This mean that we don’t have to deal with all the guilt and shame of sin, but can ask for God’s forgiveness and through His amazing grace we are forgiven and can then strive to know Him more intimately.

The reality of life and even more of a Christian is that there will be obstacles in life and satan will most certainly tempt you and try to persuade you to sin, but this leads to understanding one of the most mind blowing benefits of believing in Christ! We have authority over everything evil. That means that if it leads you to sin, causes you to sin, motivates you to sin, sin itself, impure passions, desires and instincts all of them. We can overrule these things and say no to all of them all the time. When you’re tempted to look with lust, speak with impure words or do sinful things, you can say  no to it and not let it influence you.

Luke 10:19-20 NLT Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.  But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.

Jesus actually gave us authority over satan and all evil. We can walk in Jesus’ authority and triumph over satan and live pure. When you’re tempted you no longer have to wonder if you’ll have enough willpower to say no and be strong in a weak moment. You are always strong, because God has given us His authority and triumph and we can say to all things evil that we choose God and won’t follow sin. Sin no longer has control over us. All chains are broken. We are free not by what we do, but by what Jesus has already done for us.

The question now, is why is it so extremely difficult to say no. See the thing is, as Christians, we fight this good fight of faith from a position of victory and triumph. We can say no to everything that tempts us to sin, but we often choose to not use that authority and triumph and choose to ignore it and experience the temporary pleasure of this world that leads to death.

It’s not saying no that’s difficult, it’s choosing to say no.

Yet Jesus says that whoever wants to be His disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross (Matt 16:24). Jesus also says that we cannot be His disciple unless we hate our own lives and the lives of others (Luke 14:26). Meaning that we live to please God, to be approved by Him and to follow His will, not the will of others nor our own will. God must be first and everything else comes after Him.

So what’s up to us, is to choose whether or not we’re going to use Jesus’ authority and triumph and do whatever it takes to choose to say no to this world and yes to God.  For as Paul says in Ephesians 6:12 we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, the powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world, so let us put on the full Armour of God and Fight the Good Fight of Faith.

The Light of God’s Love Will Pierce Even the Darkest Night

It’s strange how life can from time to time knock us below ground level. How we can get speechless because of the harsh reality we have to face. Having to take a moment to gather what is left from what used to be normal…

Times will come when chaos erupts in our lives and we have to deal with it, trying to keep our composure as the waves rise one after the other and we get swept under… Where is God in the midst of all this confusion? Why do we have to go through these things?

I have experienced that when darkness rises from all around youit’s then when we see God’s light the clearest.

It’s then when we see His helping hands work in the most miraculous ways. In the midst of all the chaos God is our stability. I encourage you, have faith in the times when it seem as though it won’t change anything.

Only faith in God can keep you afloat in the middle of the ocean; for even though the waters rise, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, walks on water! He is our only refuge and our security. In Him we place our hope.

Exchanging $100 for $10

Temptations make up such a big part of our reality in contemporary life. No one has a passive personality that never changes. We experience excitement, happiness, joy, love, but then also sadness, despair, loneliness, pain, anger etc. This is all part of life. Things happen and it influences the manner in which we react and express ourselves.

Imagine we had like a standard 5 minutes after every occurrence that took place in our life to deal with the impact of it and think of how to respond in a Christian-like manner. That would be so awesome, but not always possible. I have had times when I said things I regretted afterwards, because I didn’t think of what I’m actually saying. I have done certain things I am not proud of, because I didn’t think of the implications it would have. I am sure you stand alongside me in this boat, because we have all had times where there simply was no time to think of what we should do next that would be the best response in the situation; or we consciously chose to express our emotions without any thought or care for what the implications might be.

My point is that we get tempted to say, think and do certain things based on the influence of different things we encounter. This can obviously be in a positive or a negative way, but our issue is with the negative part. The temptation part…

The decisions we make during temptations are all made in our minds and during this “tempt-phase” we add up the pro’s and con’s of saying yes to this temptation leading us to sin. The thing is we are not stable in this phase. I have given in to temptations and afterwards thought to myself what an absolute stupid decision, you just said yes to something so worthless and temporary, useless and worst of all in my spirit I feel pulled away from God. This is what you call exchanging $100 for $10.

Temptations are these moments where we are offered something very small that can give us temporary pleasure, but we perceive it as something so great and worthy that we give up our greatest dreams, values, morals, relationships, opportunities, the $100, all to experience the small thing offered, the $10. People throw their dignity and character away for a moment of pleasure that is nothing compared to the thing sacrificed. We throw away such great things all because of how we perceive that which is offered to us when we are tempted and it is NEVER EVER worth it.

Satan offered Jesus 3 very attractive “deals” after Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and tempted Him to take it. I believe Jesus saw the worthless in what satan claimed and argued to be so valuable. Jesus was focused on His mission, and that is to please His Father and finish what He was sent to finish and He never gave in to any temptations.

My prayer is that we look at temptations with the same eyes as Jesus and that we will see the worthless in what satan claims to be valuable.

God will give you the many when you learn to manage the little

We often wish God will expand, multiply, increase and bless the things that form part of our lives. Think of all the things you are involved in, maybe your work, ministry, relationships etc. and look at the current state of these things. Don’t you wish they were more prosperous? Don’t you want them to give you greater joy and have more significance and value?

I really believe that God is waiting to bless us, waiting to take us to the next level and ready to show us more of what He has in store for us, but we need to realise that we need to discipline ourselves and commit ourselves to the opportunities God has given us, because with opportunity comes responsibility.

A father won’t give a his child $100 pocket money if he couldn’t manage $10; because the $100 might cause the child to do foolish things and waste it. The father waits until his child manages to discipline himself with the $10, learning to spend it wisely and from there on he increases it as the child learns to manage it accordingly.

God is waiting on you to manage the opportunities He has given you, by realising the important responsibility that comes with it and committing yourself to make the best out of what God has given you.

He wants to bless you, He wants your business to get more clients, he wants the things in your life to grow and become greater, but not if it means that you get crushed under the weight. If a larger business will lead you to neglect your family or if a personal relationship would lead to you failing at managing time in your life and ruining other dreams, because you’re not managing things as it is now then you need to manage your current state to make room for greater things.

Your blessings are waiting for you, commit and discipline yourself to the present, but let God help you with this and then you’ll see an increase in your life, because God has greater things planed for you.

God will give you the many if you learn to manage the little.

All I am, I am by the grace of God

Had just the greatest time yesterday exchanging stories with a friend about what God has done for us and encouraging one another in the faith. I just can’t seem to stop be amazed about how God’s favor truly rests on His children.

It just seems strange though, how even though our words really impacted one another and are obviously important, it is the life behind the words that really add value to them. Yet the life behind my words are only what others assume my life is, based on what they see; and even though I fight the good fight of faith daily I can’t help but feel hypocritical when I share stories of what God has done in my life.

In the song All The Same by Tenth Avenue North they sing about how we as Christians seem to forget what we know. For me it just hits the nail right on the head, because we know we struggle with different things as we strive to be like Jesus, yet when we teach, it is as if the knowledge of our struggles disappear. Or even as we look at others we seem to want to throw stones when those exact stones actually seem more meant for us.

The conclusion I can draw from this really makes me smile, because it is the grace of God that enables us to teach His message even though our lives doesn’t always represent it. It doesn’t mean we don’t strive to be like Jesus, it just means that we are human. Just because we teach it doesn’t mean we haven’t struggled with it or aren’t still struggling with it or maybe even will struggle with it.

Yet the grace of God enables us to stand up and encourage one another as we run this race.

Hebrew 12:1
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

… not that we don’t fall or have weight that slows us down, but hey, we’ll never stop running with everything we are to be like Him more and more each day.