You’ll understand why….later!

When God promised the Israelites the promised land, He also promised to drive their enemies from among them. However, many times as I read through the book of Joshua I noticed that the bible said the Israelites were not able to drive out all their enemies and in some cases lives among thee enemies or forced them into hard labor. Despite this fact, the book of Joshua concluded with the verse:

Not a single one of all the good promises the LORD had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true.

Joshua 21:45 NLT

Well  that sounds very contradictory! If God fulfilled every promise then why weren’t all their enemies destroyed? Well after a whole generation this made sense. In the book of Judges, we see why:

…he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience…

Judges 3:2 NIV

To the doubtful person, God had not kept his promise. However, because God has the bird’s eye view of our lives and certainly did of the Israelites. He left a few nations among them to teach warfare to generations of Israelites who would come later who had no experience in battle. God knew the Israelites would need to be prepared for battles later on in their history so He left nations in their promised land who would eventually give them this experience.

When life seems like it is not going the way you want or God’s promises seem unfulfilled, do not look to the bigness of your problem but to the bigness of your God. And know that His plans are always for your good, though you may not understand them today, he is making you battle ready for your tomorrow.

Yours Truly

When it does not seem to end…

Have you ever watched a movie where bad things continue to happen to the good guy and you just sit at the edge of your seat waiting for things to turn the corner? Or is this your lived experience where things seem to just not work out and when you think relief is around the corner, you encounter another disappointment? Well, this has been my work life lately. Just when I think it cannot get any worse, something happens to prove that it sure can!

I have fallen into a bad habit of complaining and sometimes to stress to whoever is listening how dire I think my situation is, I overemphasize portions of my ordeals or exaggerate what others did as I recount these stories. I have certainly thought of easier ways for my terrible experiences to end and some of them have not been exactly neighborly. For the past few weeks I have been praying for psychological, emotional, and physical strength just to get through my days and a few days ago it came in the form of a scripture:

The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil.

Psalm 125: 3 NIV

The reason I find solace in this scripture is that it affirms for me that God is truly interested in every detail of my life. He sees I am struggling and I know He will intervene in the nick of time so that I am not tempted to do wrong out of desperation to be rid of the negative experiences I am encountering at work. The problem will surely come to an end.

If your life is like the movie I described and is anything like mine then my prayer for you today is simple: May the Lord direct your steps and delight in every detail of your life ( psalm 37:23). May the hand of the enemy cease to rest upon whatever concerns you so out of desperation, frustration, or in your quest for solutions you are not tempted into wrongdoing. May Jesus be your living hope this week and if your foot is slipping or when your anxiety is great within you, may His consolation bring you joy and His unfailing love support you (Psalm 94:18-19). Amen

Yours Truly.

When good intentions go awry

Have you ever tried to help someone and ended up making the situation worse? Have you ever been completely genuine with your actions and had your intentions misconstrued? This year has been filled with many such events for me. In communicating with the people that report to me at work, with my friends, and even sometimes with my husband, sometimes my words and actions have been taken the wrong way leading to angst and conflict. This can be very emotionally draining and discouraging.

After having one such day this week where I thought I was encouraging a friend but sadly what he heard was discouragement, I in defeat turned to my bible and this is the prayer I found:

…we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.

2 Thessalonians 1:11 NIV

What sweet encouragement! What blessedness to read that it is God who brings to fruition our every desire for goodness! This takes the pressure off being good and having good intentions. This tells me I no longer have to worry how my “goodness” or good intentions are perceived. That is God’s job to bring it to fruition. My job is to continue to do good deeds prompted by faith and God’s job is to make sure that the intent is realized fully in those who need it. And you know the beauty of all of this? It is not so that I feel good about myself but so that Jesus is glorified!

We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:12 NIV

So today I pray for you that God will make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by your faith.

The father’s role

It has been a minute since I got into writing but that is another story for another day. In my last post a few months ago, I talked about a role model in a rather obscure character: King David’s mother. In my more recent bible readings, I came across a scripture that exemplifies the role of fathers in the lives of their children. In the past few days, a rather dear friend has been blessed with his firstborn son and so this is dedicated to him and to all the great fathers I know.

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 NIV

Fathers are admonished to encourage their children- to celebrate them and be their #1 fan. It is a child’s blessing to have a father that encourages him/ her to reach his/ her potential and is so proud of his child he wants to shout it off the mountain tops. Society is rife with absentee fathers- men who do not take any responsibility for the physical, psychological, spiritual, emotional and financial well being of their children. However, God admonishes fathers not to exasperate their children by the way they treat them lest they become discouraged (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21).

A father’s role is to provide comfort and be a source of comfort for his children. Fathers are pillars of safety for their children- in all spheres of life. Fathers need to create an atmosphere where their children are not afraid of them but rather respect and reverence them (Hebrews 12:9). The words that come out of a father’s mouth and the actions that he portrays should bring comfort to a child and not fear. Society deems women to be relatively more nurturing than men and with the ideology of nurturing comes comfort. However, God’s standard for fathers is that they too ought to be a source of comfort for their kids.

I spoke earlier about dads encouraging their children to reach their fullest potential and there is no greater goal on earth than the goal of living a life that is worthy of an eternal calling (Ephesians 4:1-3). A very significant role God has entrusted to fathers as the spiritual head of their households is to be examples of godly living and to chart the path for their children to follow. Fathers are to set the standards of holy living for their children and to charge their kids to live holy lives. This is the greatest reward of fatherhood: that the travails of a father results in Christ being formed in their children (Galatians 4:19).

So today I leave you with this… are you role modelling godly fatherhood? Are you a source of encouragement, comfort and a beacon of godliness for your children, biological or otherwise?

Yours Truly

The Unsung Hero

last week as I was reading the bible something caught my eye: a very rare mention of King David’s mother. We do not know a lot about her, we do not hear stories of her but over the past few weeks she has become my unsung hero. Let me introduce you to David’s mother:

Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did.

Psalm 86:16 NIV

We do not know much about David’s mother and her relationship with God but we know a whole lot about David and his relationship with God. We know that David was so close to God, he was known as a man after God’s own heart- a beloved of God. We know that David served God wholeheartedly and even when he strayed he was still connected to God. David’s life is a role model of friendship, communion and relationship with God. But this scripture tells us a little more about his relationship with God.

David credits his relationship to God to his mother. He did not get there on his own- he observed and perhaps was taught to love and serve God the way he did by his mother. And in a time of distress, he calls on God to remember him and draws on the connection his mother had to God.

Some translations say… “save the son of thy handmaiden” (in reference to is mother). Whenever, anyone is described as a handmaiden in scripture- it connotes humility and a life of surrender and servitude. However we dice this, it says a lot about David’s mother whose name is barely mentioned in scripture if even.

I have learned this week the value of my ministry to my kids- I am their role model- the person they look up to and would one day exemplify. As they observe me everyday- who do they see? what do they see? Are they one day going to be able to pray “Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did”?

Food for thought.

Yours Truly

The faces of Jesus

We are almost halfway through the year and a lot of the non-profit agencies and charities have started sending out emails to remind people on their mailing/donor lists to consider making a donation. One scripture that is a bedrock for a lot of Christian organizations is from Matthew 25.

When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’

Matthew 25:38-40 BSB

All over the world, the faces of the poor, hungry, economically and sometimes socially disadvantaged have been used on fliers and infomercials to communicate this scripture very vividly. These faces represent Jesus’ mission of social justice on earth, His heartbeat for the world. This scripture gives us a glimpse into what Jesus looks like and who He is. This week I read a scripture that made me rethink how Jesus is represented here on earth:

…and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Colossians 3: 10-11 NIV

Christ is all and in all. Wow. Sometimes it is easy to forget this, particularly in this “covid year” where the person next to you is perceived as a potential threat to your health or that of your loved ones. However, the pandemic has simply heightened and emphasized for me my deep-seated lack of connectedness to others. Although I have continued with my philanthropic work during the pandemic, God through this scripture is reminding me that His face is seen in more than hunger, poverty and homelessness which are the causes that are near and dear to my heart.

He is all and is in all. This includes that weed- smoking neighbour whom I have gone out of my way to avoid; that employee who has made it a point to be a thorn in my flesh; that Facebook friend whose social media posts I find slightly irritating; and even my kiddos who sometimes test the limit of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in me- Jesus is represented in all and is in all. So how is God calling me to respond to this? Well the answer is found in the rest of that scripture:

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with hearts of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with one another and forgive any complaint you may have against someone else. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which is the bond of perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, for to this you were called as members of one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Colossians 3: 12-17 NIV

‘Nuff said.

Yours Truly

Leading People

Leading people is hard whether it’s in the secular world or in ministry- it is a work of heart. If done right, it is one of the highest acts of service and if done right, it can be the one of the most emotionally tasking endeavors. Over the past weeks I have had many opportunities to reflect on the teams I lead as well as what I bring to bear in my leadership journey. Through all the triumphs and conflicts my leadership role bring, I have discovered one of the blueprints for how to be an effective leader.

And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.

Psalm78:82 NIV

For the past two weeks I have been meditating on this scripture and how I can lead with integrity and skill. So lets talk about those:

What does it mean to lead with integrity of heart? Integrity appears 22 times in scripture and a read of those scriptures reveal some characteristics of having integrity: speaking the truth, being upright and righteous. Having integrity of heart as a leader means that when I deal with my reports and those I am in authority over, I do so in fairness and with truth and grace- not being swayed by who they are. I wish them no ill and seek out the best outcomes for them in every situation. This definition reminds me of the lyrics in a song we sing at church:

Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly…. in all things… in all ways

The second point from the scripture has to do with leading skillfully. I once read an article that alluded to the fact that no one is born with leadership skills. It is not an innate quality. And I agree… to some extent, I believe that although some people have a propensity and affinity for leadership, effective leaders must cultivate the skill of leadership like a craftsman hones his/her craft. Leading with a skilled hand means that I do not only rely on my past experiences or propensities but I work towards mastery daily. Advancing from novice to expert in any competency involves having the right conditions and opportunities to practice and truly develop that skill.

David developed the skills to lead people effectively through the challenges that came from leading livestock: spending long hours tending to them, leading the sheep to pasture in green and luscious vegetation, dealing with threats and of course, steering the wayward ones back into the fold. Similarly, the challenges of leadership create an environment that can be conducive to honing the skill of leading. Every awkward conversation builds the confidence and competence for the next awkward conversation- as someone recently said to me “the more I know, the more I realize I do not know” (Thanks T.). This paradox is what I describe as growth. The beauty of developing a skill is that it can also be learned through knowledge external to personal experiences- so take a course, read inspirational books, listen to the wisdom of other great leaders, get a mentor- the goal is diligently working towards becoming a skilled leader.

Do you see a man skillful and experienced in his work? He will stand [in honor] before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.

Prov 22:29 AMP

I hope you are as encouraged as I am because leading people is not for the faint of heart but for those with integrity of heart and who have skillful hands.

Yours Truly

The Enemy in Me

For the past few weeks my bible readings have been focused in the Psalms and if you have read the Psalms, you will notice that in a lot of the verses, David expresses his anguish and laments about his enemies. He calls out to God many times to decimate his enemies and to give him relieve from their evil ploys and accusations. Every time I read such verses, I subconsciously try to connect to the psalm by reflecting on the people in my life who might fit the criteria of an “enemy.” I start to think about the oppositions I face in my life from people and situations and consciously or subconsciously, position those as the enemies as I convert these Psalms to personal and sometimes fervent prayers.

In the last little while, my pastor has been teaching us to try a reflective prayer where we ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us areas in our life where God wants to breathe new life. He simplifies the process as giving God the remote control to your day and asking God to replay your day to you and pin point those areas in your day. I decided to try this while reading Psalm 68 and the result was really enlightening.

I had just come off a very trying day at work and I was reading Psalm 68 where David is jubilant about the victories God brings over his enemies. As I was connecting with that scripture and silently praying with David “Summon your power , God and show us your strength our God as you have done before (verse 28)”, I started to ask myself if perhaps there are other people out there who are reading the same Psalm with me in mind as they pray to God to show his power? Are there people out there who are also reading some of these Psalms and subconsciously thinking of me as the enemy? I believe this was the Holy Spirit telling me in His own way that sometimes I am not the wronged in those “oppressive situations”. This is why this verse had so much meaning for me:

Rebuke the beast in the reeds, the herd of bulls among the calves of the nations, until it submits, bringing bars of silver. Scatter the nations who delight in war.

Psalm 68:30 BSB

Sometimes, I have to rebuke or ask God to rebuke the beast in me. The behaviours that are not usually characteristics of me but show up on occasion and are offensive to others- “the herd of bulls among the calves” need to come under the authority of Christ. This “beast” must be humbled to the point where it is submitted to God’s will- where I am submitted to God’s will.

So folks, next time you read the Psalm and come across scriptures like “Let God arise and his enemies be scattered (Psalm 68:1)”, before you think about that person or situation as the enemy you are at war with, look inward. Is there anything in your life that is characteristic of the enemy you are fighting? If so, ask God to rebuke that beast so that you do not become collateral damage when God arises.

Yours Truly.

All because we do not carry…

The past few weeks have been fraught with worrying for me and when I worry, I pace and talk to myself. I imagine at length the situations that are stressing me out or have the potential to stress me out and talk myself through them. This has been one on my coping mechanisms for many years.

This weekend, I found myself in one such spot. I had confined myself to my room and paced about talking to myself for almost an hour non-stop. After a while, I paused to freshen up and my daughter came to me and said “Mummy, are you done praying?” I remained silent for awhile unsure of how to respond. I had spent almost an hour talking through my worry and stress and I had not once in that time invited God into that conversation. In that moment, I was overcome with many emotions but prominent among them was gratitude that my kiddo knows that we have such a privilege to talk to God about anything and a little shame that I had not done that. The words of Joseph M. Scriven from the hymn “what a friend we have in Jesus” flooded my mind:

Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

I don’t know what you are going through right now. But if I have learned anything today, it is that I can trust God with my worry and stresses, He is waiting to be invited into those conversations.

Yours Truly.

The Greatest Triumph

As we approach Holy Week, church activities, sermons, and social media will be inundated with messages about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A couple days ago, I was thinking of what my Easter post would be and realized very quickly I did not want to tell same “old” story. So I asked myself “what makes the death and resurrection of Jesus so unique that it is worth commemorating?” The answer came from an unexpected scripture in the book of Psalm:

No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them— the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—so that they should live on forever and not see decay… But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself.

Psalm 49:8-9, 15 NIV

Wow! When I read this a few days ago, it was like a light bulb went on! This scripture not only emphasizes the fickleness of life but speaks volumes about the work of Jesus. This is why his death is so important. Because no one can redeem the life of another, God had to redeem us Himself. He did so by coming down to earth to be a ransom for our lives. This is Jesus’ greatest triumph. The sermon this sunday made this point even more real for me. Whenever we talk about triumph it suggests a victor. The binary of a victor usually connotes the fact that there is a vanquished or a loser. Human victories are usually at the expense of others but what makes Jesus’ ransom and victory so unique is that it was at his own expense!

His death and resurrection was sign to the whole world that the ransom had been paid. He made a payment that was enough to ensure that we could live forever and not see decay. We know this because God raised Jesus from he dead so that he himself would not see decay (Acts 13: 34-35) and made him the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18). Jesus became the poster child of a costly ransom paid. And for all of us who believe in Him and accept his redeeming work on the cross, Psalm 49 reads that “the payment is enough and we too will live on forever and not see decay”. We know with confidence that God HAS redeemed us from the realm of the dead and has already taken us to Himself. He did this victoriously when he exchanged His life for ours… He does this victoriously everyday in our lives with the work of His Holy Spirit drawing us in relationship with Him and He will do this victoriously when we close our eyes in death to this world and open them again in eternity in His presence.

This is why Jesus’ death is so important. This is why His resurrection is significant. In His death and resurrection lies our greatest triumph and victory : Eternal life.

God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.

John 3:16 CEV

Yours Truly.