Seeing is believing is the age-old adage. If you can’t see it, then how can you believe it?
I agree, I firmly believe in that too. I’m just not going to take someone’s word for it, I gotta’ see the results. I need to see the proof…where is the evidence to prove success or failure?
That attitude might be all fine and dandy in the material world, how about the spiritual world?
I believed for a long time that proof of God with me was seeing results and seeing the miracles. So often we’re taught that our God is a God of miracles, healing, blessings, so naturally that was what I expected.
So, guess what happened when things would take a slightly sour turn? I began to believe firmly that God wasn’t with me and that things going wrong was either some sort of punishment or proof that I had stepped away from His ways.
The agonising part of my faith journey was that the enemy knew that as well and so each time I was hit by struggles, the attack became stronger.
I kept asking for a sign to prove that He was with me, but it never happened. In fact, the opposite seemed to happen all the time.
I began to believe more intensely that God had left me to struggle through the valleys alone, until I began to read the Bible from Genesis…slowly.
As I began to read, I saw a huge link between what I thought was the absence of God in my life to the reality. I realised that God often gives us His word and expects us to activate our faith and hold on to His word.
He did it right at the start with Adam and Eve. Genesis 3 showed us that He spoke His word and asked them to stay away from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Eve, in Gen 3:6 took her eyes off God’s word and focussed it on what she saw- she saw that the fruit was good.
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” ~Gen 3:6
Eve had forgotten God’s word because her eyes took over…what she saw in front of her marred her perspective.
It is pretty easy to blame Eve and I’m guilty of it too. I’ve blamed Adam and Eve for being the reason for the curse put on mankind, but if I’m being completely honest with myself, I wouldn’t have fared any better.
I’d like to tell myself that maybe I would have been smarter than Eve was and there’s no way that I would have been outwitted by a silly snake, but I know myself better than anyone. I would have done exactly what Eve did, and probably put humanity into the curse much sooner than she did.
Do you know how I know? I look at Scripture and I can see that often after God or Jesus has spoken, something comes up that distracts the player in the story.
Look at Peter in Matt 14. We all know the story of Peter walking on the water. The storm was still blowing, but the Bible says that when Peter looked at the storm, he began to sink.
Matthew 14:30, “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!””
I’ve been so guilty of this too, and the reason is because it’s so easy to look at circumstances or the storms around us because they are louder and more present than God’s voice or word.
It’s not the easiest thing to ignore the storms, but that’s where faith kicks in. It is a choice we must make, because God will not make that choice for us. The Bible shows us from Peter’s near drowning experience, that it is imperative that we keep our eyes on the Word and not what we can see.
The moment we take our focus off the Word, we become overwhelmed, and we lose faith. That’s why Jesus’ first question to Peter in verse 31 was, “why did you doubt?”
That’s a loaded question, because just like in our own lives, when we wonder about out own faith and doubts, I don’t any one of us can easily answer why we truly doubt.
At least in my own life, I don’t think that I doubt God because I don’t trust Him, but I sometimes doubt God because I am not sure if He’ll do the miracle for me.
I believe He is a healer, deliverer but sometimes, I do wonder if He will heal me, deliver me? It might sound un-Christian, but unless I can go to Jesus with the same attitude as the father of the demon possessed boy in Mark 9:24, and ask Jesus to help me with me unbelief, I might never find that respite.
I chose to hide my unbelief from everyone, because that’s what we’re supposed to do, right? As Christians, we aren’t supposed to wonder whether God will heal us or deliver us or even show us the right steps to take, or worse still, whether the steps we’re actually taking now are even from God.
I’ve learned that the God I serve isn’t too small or petty or emotional insecure that He can’t handle my questions. I believe that He’s looking for a real relationship, something we expect from any relationship as well.
“Faith is not the absence of doubt, it teaches you to fight it.”
I expect honesty and openness in any relationship and if a mere mortal expects that, then how much more will my heavenly Father. I believe that I am able to be honest in my moments of weakness and talk to Him about my unbelief and my struggles, like the father in Mark 9.
I also believe that He is gracious enough to understand my many, many, many flaws, quirks and insecurities and I believe that He is able to give me the grace that I need to work through my unbelief.
I know that the more I talk to Him about my insecurities and doubts, the closer I draw to Him because I trust Him enough to expose my fears and doubts.
It is hard to trust and take the next step in our walk with God, but it is also important that we submit fully to Him and trust Him at His word.
He understands our doubts and fears and no, He’s never angry or upset with us because we doubt.
Even the strongest Christians doubt, even the prophets doubted, the twelve that walked with Jesus daily for three years doubted, and yet He calls us greater than them all, because we choose to believe His word.
This topic has been on my mind for several years. Those of you who know me, would know why this topic has been gnawing away at my heart.
For those of who that don’t, here’s the gist. I stayed in an extremely abusive marriage for 10 years, separated from him and 6 years have passed since then.
The problem with this is that leaving my marriage didn’t mean that my ex-husband was out of my life. I’ve had to deal with him regularly, sometimes on a daily basis because we have 2 young kids together.
Having the kids in my custody has meant that I’m again obligated to do everything he wants, and his way, because he’s the parent who is away and has the right to spend time with his children.
I thought leaving an abusive ex-husband would solve most, if not all my pain and struggles, but somehow, they’ve all morphed into a weird monster that gnaws away at me.
I’m not saying I still am where I was 5 or 6 years ago when we separated, where I could barely function. I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t talk to anyone, I was ashamed, embarrassed, and humiliated beyond words. I blamed myself for everything that went wrong. If only I had done… or if only I had said…or if only I had given… the if-onlys were endless.
I began to cut myself from everyone. I hated the sight of people. I only cared about my children and in my mind, the rest of the world could go to hell. Very un-Christian, I know!
At that point, I don’t even think I cared about God.
Before you ask, yes, I was saved and baptised and living the Christian life that I knew best how to live, and that meant I was angered beyond belief that a good God would allow me to have become yoked to a monster.
Since then, I’ve had a few interesting prophecies and words spoken over my life from 2017. I paid some attention to them, but most of them I’ve chosen to ignore because they seem too farfetched, and I had lost trust in a good God. I lost trust in my fantastic church, and I thought I was justified in my anger.
I thought I was entitled to be angry because I couldn’t lean on my church, and I couldn’t lean on Christians, and I felt that everyone had let me down.
It was all about me now. A very familiar song, me…me…me…me…!
Every time I saw my ex-husband, my anger would bubble and although I wouldn’t yell at him or say anything to him, I would feel my heart harden and in my mind, I would curse the day I ever laid eyes on him. I couldn’t bear to see him smile because I felt that he had stolen the best years of my life and left me with a horrid, bitter shell of a human being.
I felt that he had broken me and left me as someone who couldn’t trust people and couldn’t trust men, and I was angry that he was he reason that I was angry at God and the church and Christians.
Fast forward to this year and the topic of forgiveness had been weighing so heavily on me. I’ve thought about it so many times and ignored it just the same number of times.
For one, I knew that I had to forgive, but I didn’t know where to begin. I actually didn’t understand what forgiveness meant.
Was forgiveness a point in my life that could be time stamped? Could I say, on 24th October 2022 I forgave my ex-husband?
Was it a journey? Did I have to wake up every day and say that I was going to forgive? Was I supposed to forget as well?
That wasn’t going to happen any time soon.
What did Paul mean when he said in Ephesians 4:32, “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
What did Jesus mean when He taught in the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Jesus taught us how to pray, spoke about forgiveness in verses 12, and then went out of His way to add a couple more sentences about forgiveness.
So, it must be important if He repeated it and it ended up in the Bible.
Where do I begin? I began to read and research about forgiveness from the Bible and forgiveness seemed to be so easy to do. Every preacher I listened to said, “Forgive, because you must.”
“Just forgive, because you need to let go.” “Just let it go.”
I began to feel pretty stupid because I just didn’t get it. What is the formula to forgiveness?
The Bible says in 1 John 1:9 (ESV) that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So, do I wait for my ex-husband to confess before I forgive?
Hebrews 8:12 goes one step further and says that, “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”
Ok, I need help!None of this made sense.
Is forgiveness a journey? That didn’t seem to click with me either. I could have a good day today and be forgiving, and I could have a terrible day tomorrow and not forgive and what happens then? Does that mean that I’ve not really forgiven? Will God not forgive my sins on days that I’m unforgiving and forgive me on days that I’ve been forgiving?
I spoke to a pastor at church, and he spoke about his own journey of unforgiveness and some of it began to make sense. I went back to the place where I knew all my answers lay, my Bible.
I read through the parable of the wicked servant in Matthew 18:21-35.
The story began with Peter asking Jesus how many times he should forgive someone who has caused him offence. Peter knew that the Judaism law says that forgiving someone 3 times is enough, so he pretty smugly tried to go over the double of that and asked Jesus if 7 times was sufficient.
Gosh, I love Peter. He reminds me of me.
Jesus wasn’t going to fall for Peter’s petty act of righteousness and took it even further and said seventy times seven. Now that doesn’t mean you can lop someone’s head off at the 491st time.
Jesus goes on to teach a parable about the wicked servant.
Here was a man who was forgiven 10,000 bags of gold equal to 150,000 years of wages and yet was unable to extend that same mercy to someone who owed him 100 days wages.
I’m going to be completely honest here, I read this passage and couldn’t bring myself to see myself as the wicked servant, because in my self-righteous mind, I genuinely believed that my ex-husband committed more transgressions against me than I did against Jesus.
There was the first thing that the Holy Spirit began to work in me. He knew me so well, that He turned my eyes to verse 28-30 “…and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.‘”
But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.” My eyes fell on the words choked and prison.
The Lord was leading me to see that I was choking everyone around me because either, I didn’t fully understand the forgiveness that I had received from Jesus or that I was holding past transgressions both in current relationships as well as holding my ex-husband in a prison, that I had no business doing.
I was immediately humbled, because I was ashamed that I hadn’t fully understood the forgiveness that I had received.
I was the wicked servant, and that revelation convicted me in the depths of my soul.
I had transgressed against a Holy God who was gracious enough to forgive me and yet, I a sinner “couldn’t extend that same grace.
The Holy Spirit led me, and I’m not talking about hearing an audible voice of God, but an impression in my heart that said that I had no right to seek justice.
Say what now?
As a faltering human being, when someone cuts me off in traffic, I immediately wish for them to be pulled over by a cop, because I believe that is justice served.
The Holy Spirit was asking me, how dare you seek justice?
That was my first lesson in forgiveness: Stop seeking justice.
I needed to stop wanting my ex-husband to be served justice.
I needed to stop deciding what he did or did not deserve, because Jesus did not give me what I deserved.
I realised that regardless of whatever my ex-husband received, good or bad, would make zero difference in my life. I would not grow taller, thinner, fatter, earn more or less money…literally nothing would change. So what was the point of wanting justice?
Here was my second lesson: If I can’t say the words “I forgive him” then do what Jesus did in Luke 23:34.
“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
He asked God to forgive them.
He chose to use the words, ‘they know not what they’re doing’ because although they knew exactly what they were doing in crucifying Jesus, they really did not have the revelation of the impact of their actions.
I’d like to think that Jesus’ pain and betrayal was so great that He needed His Father to help Him forgive. He truly has gone through everything that we have.
Then came the third lesson: I needed to pray blessings over my ex-husband.
Praying for someone to be blessed doesn’t automatically mean more money or a bigger house or any of the things that we consider blessings.
An amazing Bible teacher taught that God’s concept of blessing is to show that person the revelation of their mistake, because that way they can reconcile with God and there lies their blessing.
Who am I to stop someone from reconciling with God? Wasn’t that the whole purpose of Jesus and the cross?
“Forgiveness has a cost. It cost Jesus His life.”
The final lesson came from a pastor at church: To thank God for the good that came out of my ex-husband’s presence in my life.
At first, all I could think of was there was zero good from this man’s existence, but that was my anger and bitterness speaking.
That wasn’t God.
I stopped and really thought about the last 6 years since the separation.
“Gratitude begins when my entitlement ends.”
The first 2 years were horrible, and I struggled with everything, but I did manage to draw closer to God because I felt like I had nothing or no one else I could really count on.
That was completely the opposite way of how a Christian should function, I should have sought God first before running to people, but I didn’t and then I learned that people let you down.
I also learned that it was unfair on me to place this huge burden on my church and on the pastors, and my friends and family because they are people too.
So, was there anything I really can be thankful for? Grudgingly, I have to say yes.
I have to thank God that if my ex-husband hadn’t done what he had done, I would have never written a book, never read the Bible the way I’ve been reading it, never got back into church, never learned how to trust God fully, never been able to teach my children what walking with God truly looks like.
Now, I’m not saying it’s easy, because my greatest question is ‘did you have to teach me this lesson in this way? Was there no easy way?’
I can almost hear God say, ‘nope!’
“God isn’t always going to change my situation. He sometimes uses my situation to change me.”
I guess when He created me, there were some impurities that He needed to fix and although as a Christian, I love God working miracles, healings and all ‘goosebumps inducing worship’, I need to remember Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
He is constantly working in us, which means that we will be forced to change and let go of our familiar habits.
Me working on forgiving my ex-husband is more for me than him, and I finally understood that.
I finally understood what that clichéd phrase meant.
It was to allow God to do a work in me and be a better person that is purified.
I also learned that God is not insecure, and He is ok with me praying real prayers. Some of my prayers are, “I hate praying this for my ex-husband, but I am doing it in obedience to You. Help me pray this from my heart next time.”
I hope this helps you with your own forgiveness journey and this is in no means supposed to be prescriptive.
God is gracious and has more teaching that suits each one of us, so allow Him to teach you what you need to learn in this season of your life.
…word of warning, it’s never how we expect or want to learn, but it is for our good.
I learned over the last few weeks that the Christian life is a battleground. It’s something that we’ve all known and it’s something that we’ve been taught over the years. I always thought I knew this as well, until I realised what a battleground means.
A few Sundays back, I had a fabulous encounter with the Holy Spirit at church and from that I knew I had to make a decision, and I won’t go into the details, but it was a gut-wrenching decision. I also had to deal with the aftermath of that decision because I knew that it was the right decision by God, but it was not what I wanted.
As someone who already struggles with mental health issues, the aftermath of this decision became more amplified, more intense and the intensity didn’t end. I immediately felt like God had left me. I felt like I had made the wrong decision and the worst choice and that God was disappointed in me. I began to feel like my life held no purpose anymore.
What once felt like the right choice, soon started to sound like my death rattle. Each minute felt like I was being pushed towards ending it all.
I don’t know what the trigger was, or even why, but all I knew was that I was in the middle of it and couldn’t make it stop.
I fell back into familiar bad habits, not sin, but the bad habits of doubting God, doubting His Word, doubting His existence. How can a good God allow bad things? Thoughts that played in a loop over and over until it felt like I was holding on by a thread.
People around me told me to look at my children, “Oh Cheryl, don’t do it! Think about the children! They need you.”
If you’ve struggled with mental health, especially suicidal thoughts, you’ll know that at that definitive point of desperation, nothing matters, not even those closest to you because you know that you’re no good to anyone in this state. Do my children need to constantly live with a mum who struggles? Who is unstable? Who can’t get a grip? Who is weak? Who gets so numb?
I realised that I needed to hold on, partly because I couldn’t figure out the best way to end it all. Was the knife good? Were the tablets enough? Would the rope be strong enough? My worst fear was failing at suicide, because then my family would have to deal with me being on ‘suicide watch’, and that wasn’t worth it.
I thought I might as well talk to God, because I felt like there was literally no one around who understood, wanted to understand or who wanted to take the time or effort. I went back to reading Matthew 14 and began reading the passage about Jesus walking on water.
I realised that the poor disciples were meant to go to the other side, just based off Jesus’ words. They didn’t have any miracles to go off. They had to row exhaustingly in the wrong direction against the wind, and if they had turned back, the wind would have been for them.
We all know the story after that, Jesus walked on the water- but what caught my eye was the fact that He came walking in the fourth watch (verse 25 KJV). That’s the hours between 3am and 6am, and that is usually the darkest because dawn hasn’t broken yet.
I had to relate that to my life and understand that what I was feeling was exactly that. I couldn’t recognise Jesus walking on the water towards me, and I felt that I was in the exact same storm, facing the same fear and anguish and the enemy was using every one of insecurities against me.
It was then I understood the word battleground. I realised that I had brought the misery upon myself.
I had chosen to give the storm the undue importance versus the Word of God. I had to at that point decide- to reject my familiar patterns or to glorify God and extend everything He has entrusted to me.
I could choose to remain beaten in defeat or to rise up and say that “greater is He that is in me” and continue this battle.
The word battleground became unambiguous. I realised that I am in a storm because the enemy fears me because he knows my future better than I know it myself.
I have to put on the whole armour of God (from Ephesians 6:10-18) and I have to be ready for battle all the time.
I also had to come to terms that my circumstances may get worse, but just because I lose a battle doesn’t mean that I will lose the war.
I learned that the only way I could keep the flaming arrows of the evil one away from me was by activating my faith. I must believe that Jesus is for me and with me and He guides every step I take because He gave me His word.
His Word said that He will never leave me nor forsake me, and I have to keep my faith in His word, and not look at the storms crashing and rocking my boat.
I must always activate my faith when the enemy reminds me of all my mistakes, my grief, my pain or my struggles, and I learned that none of those define me.
I am not defined by who the world says I am, but I am defined by who Jesus says I am, because only with Him can I advance against every attack.
I pray deeply that this teaches you that you are not who you think you are. You are who He says you are. The enemy isn’t going to let go that easily, but your shield of faith can extinguish every arrow the enemy throws against you.
If God is for you, who can be against you?
“God is not going to put the armour on me, I must do that myself.”
"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:11-17
Over the last few years, due to several factors, mainly me not saying no to food, has seen me gain over 60 kilos in less than 10 years.
I thought it let me off the hook if I blamed my circumstances, or my relationships or the fact that delicious food was unhealthy and what not. I hit rock bottom when I saw that I weighed 110 kilos and the shop I usually shopped at didn’t have any bigger sizes of clothing.
I was angry. I was angry at everyone and everything and I refused to acknowledge that I had a part to play in where I was at. It was easier to blame everyone around.
Then came the ulcers toward the end of 2021. The stress of life, managing a full-time job, children, finances all came to a head and saw me in hospital requiring surgery.
I couldn’t eat normally anymore. I couldn’t function as I did before, but hey, there’s always a silver lining…the weight fell off me. I saw myself lose fat by the kilos and I was pleased.
I was finally back to the slim, gorgeous figure that was accepted by society, and myself.
Lockdown brought some blessings, where I could recoup from the surgery, but that also meant that people didn’t see me for several months and when they did, they couldn’t believe how much weight I had lost.
People were taking note and the comments came. I knew that although I couldn’t eat all the so-called delicious junk food anymore for fear of triggering another episode, I was getting noticed and it felt good.
At least initially.
People, some of whom wouldn’t give me the time of day when I was a tubby fat chick, all of a sudden were making their way to me to ask me how my day has been.
“How are you doing? I haven’t spoken to you in so long!”
You actually haven’t spoken to me in….never! But go on…
“You’re looking fabulous!”
“You’re looking so amazing!”
“You must tell me what you did!”
…and so I did.
I told them about my struggles that led me to this point and I was shocked at the response. Some women, beautiful, strong women would tell me, “I wouldn’t mind getting what you have if I could look like you!”
Then it hit me. All the comments began to irritate me.
Was I not fabulous before?
Was I not beautiful before?
Was my beauty only based on my clothing size?
I was still a mum of 2 amazing kids, I still had the same job and I still dressed exactly the same- in jeans and a t-shirt, and yet somehow, I was more beautiful, gorgeous and sexy to everyone else because I was no longer a size 22, but a size 10?
It didn’t make sense.
I began to doubt my self-worth because it felt like all those years of hard work, pain, grief, tears didn’t matter because I was fat.
I began to doubt myself and my resilience and strength. Was none of what I had gone through, struggled with, overcome worth nothing because I looked like a beached whale? Was none of it to be acknowledged because I was fat? Was my muffin top and my double or quadruple chins the definition of my worth?
People all around were suddenly going out of their way to converse with me about how strong I was in raising such great kids and the more they spoke about it, the more angry I became.
Somehow they seemed to believe that my current appearance meant I was stronger and more capable of doing everything that I was already doing as a fat person.
I couldn’t, and still don’t see myself as gorgeous or beautiful or anything, because the fat girl with insecurities still lives inside me. I see myself, size 10 or 20, as the girl who struggles with depression, struggles with anger, struggles with a raft of issues, but suddenly I was more attractive to the world because I didn’t have thunder thighs?
I had to go back to what was my familiar place, the Scriptures.
1 Samuel 16:7, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
It was a confronting verse, because despite my dress size, God still had so much work to do on my spirit person.
While people told me that I was almost like a supermodel now, I still felt broken and weak, and God was reminding me that I had a long journey ahead of me to become the woman that He intended me to become.
While people were telling me that they wanted to go through what I did to look like me, I thought of those nights, regardless of my dress size, where I struggled with depression, OCD, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, and I wish I could explain to them that I don’t see myself as they do and that I’m not the person that my outward appearance seems to portray to them.
I see myself as a shattered pot that only God can put together and how I look is irrelevant in the grand plan that God has.
I still see myself as the insecure fat girl who struggles sometimes to get by, and each day is a struggle, but I know that just because I’m skinny now isn’t going to fix anything.
“Skinny doesn’t mean it’s better. Skinny doesn’t change the broken. Skinny doesn’t mean it’s all good.”
Remember the 1990s when we all wore the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets? They were all the rage and it was unanimous with a ‘saved’ Christian.
Let me explain that a bit more…reflecting on my own life. I was saved when I was 16, just out of school and had started attending this fantastic church. I had started making ‘Christian’ friends and I could not have been happier. Enter these WWJD bracelets- every young person had one, or several to show that they were truly being led by God.
These bracelets were designed to lead young people to make the right decisions by simply looking at the bracelet. How does this work you ask? Let me illustrate- if my friend was to call me to a party that had alcohol, I would look at my bracelet and think ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ and tell my friend that I would not come along to a party because that’s not what Jesus would do.
As a young person, my life’s decisions were led by the bracelet. Fast forward several years and several life experiences and I hear Christians going around telling others whom they consider of a ‘lesser’ faith how to live their lives and how these non-Christians are not living their lives how Jesus would.
Christians who believe that they have been chosen by God have all too often gone around telling non-Christians that God hates the way they live and they’re not going to heaven- to the extent where they believe that non-Christians must live like those who have been saved.
Here’s a different perspective. Let’s look at What Jesus Would Actually Do.
Too often getting saved seems to give us airs and graces and we forget that we were saved by His grace- not by our actions. We end up being like the unmerciful servant in Mathew 18:21-35.
We’ve forgotten that our behaviour is not what Jesus would ever do. He has never once condemned anyone for their sin.
He never had any airs or graces about His status and never judged anyone for their sexual orientation or their lifestyle. He knew who He was and didn’t waver from it- but that didn’t mean He condemned anyone either…well, apart from the religious sorts.
He never actually mentioned anyone’s sin either- He just says “go, sin no more.” this tells me that God doesn’t have categories for sin. Sin is sin according to Him.
Unless we look at the Word in the true intent it was written, we are going to fail as Christians in our purpose. Any wonder why the world loathes Christians? We have fallen short of our purpose and failed miserably in our only job- to go be witnesses unto the ends of the earth. We have instead gone as judges- forgetting that it’s not our place to judge.
Who am I to judge anyone who is not living a lifestyle that doesn’t please me? I only have to take a page from the book of Jude. No one had more right to curse the devil than Michael the archangel, and yet, “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Jude 1:9
How am I living in accordance to the Word if I don’t let it guide my every action?
Do we somehow think that we have actually led people to Christ or salvation when we tell people they are sinners because they identify as LGBTQ+ or drug addicts or prostitutes?
How did we give ourselves a title to judge because the Bible says that even Jesus didn’t judge. He came down to earth to display unconditional love and acceptance.
While He hung around with tax collectors and prostitutes, He never let go of His faith and through love He brought them to the knowledge of God- if you ask me- that’s what Jesus would do.
I was reading the news and found an article about the inappropriate text messages sent by a person working at a Christian ministry. This person had targeted young girls and now the girls were speaking out about this. It was appalling to read, but sadly it is a very familiar story of our days. I spoke to a few friends who said that as parents they’re struggling to explain the reality to their teenagers and pre-teens.
It is a hard conversation to have, particularly when you don’t want to seem like you’re bashing Christians. As Christians we’ve been taught that we must not talk ill of the anointed of God and this makes it extremely difficult for us to talk about what is going on- for fear of repercussion, both supernaturally as well as earthly.
I think there’s been a fundamental shift of the perception of God men due to the nature of these horrendous allegations, sadly more are true than not.
The questions that mostly get asked are, “how can a ‘man of God’ do that?” “How could he sin like that?”
We need to explore the answers to these questions from the Bible. We all know the verse in Romans 3:23, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. I think we need to delve a little deeper into that chapter. It goes on to say that people are made right in God through Jesus (v25-26) and that God judges people fairly.
I found verse 27 onwards to be the most intriguing. It translates that ‘being a person of faith is no reason to boast’ which indirectly means that we as Christians have no reason to uphold a so-called ‘man of faith’ in any greater position to ourselves. Verse 31 says that by our faith we actually uphold the laws of the land- which means that by no means is a Christian pastor or preacher or someone who ‘speaks to God’ or ‘prophesies’ above the laws in force by our governments.
Too often Christian leaders accused of horrendous atrocities believe that they have power over the common man because they in close communion with God. This is again contradictory to the Word of God. 1 John 1:8 says that if anyone believes that they are without sin then the truth is not in them. If we flip that around it means that if we believe any man is sinless, we are deceiving ourselves.
We, as believers need to find the truth in God’s word. We need to as parents also be able to have honest discussions with our children about the risks that come with trusting people. We need to allow our children to come tell us when they have experienced something that they feel is inappropriate.
I have experienced and witnessed parents who diminish the impact of what has happened to their children and make excuses for the actions of the ‘man of God.’
Let’s take the very same example that prompted me to write this blog. If a teenage girl tells her parents that she has received inappropriate texts from her local youth pastor, her parents might have one of two reactions.
One- they tell their child that the pastor didn’t mean anything by it and that he or she was trying to talk or behave like the ‘youngsters’ of this generation or two, the parents would yell at the child and either blame them for instigating the text message exchange or say that God will punish them for falsely blaming a ‘man of God.’
Do you see how neither response is helpful?
How can you blame your child who has mustered up so much courage to tell you that they don’t feel safe? Your children know how you would react and yet choose to tell you something that is deeply embarrassing and hurtful, and if we don’t trust or acknowledge their pain, then you have lost their trust forever.
If this was any other person not using the church or God as their shield and had sent inappropriate texts, then would we have immediately reacted differently. Why?
Is it because we allow these ‘men of God’ to have that power over our children?
We cannot expect man to leave the sin that he is born with because temptation surrounds all of us in some shape or form.
We must teach our children these fundamental Christian values. Even the man after God’s own heart fell to carnal sin, so how can we behave as if this sin doesn’t exist in so called ‘holy’ men.
Our children must surround themselves with Christian company to increase their faith, but that alone will do nothing for their faith. They must surround themselves with the Word of God- because nothing else can set them free (John 8:32).
It has been a challenging post to write, but we must allow our children to come talk to us freely without the fear of condemnation, because as parents we are put on earth to protect them and be their defence in this world.
Our foundation as Christians must lie in Romans 3:10 “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one…”
1 Samuel 2:2 “There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.”
It amazes me about how strong we actually are. God did not create a weak creature, He created man in His likeness and as much as I hate to say it, it takes a real rough patch before we can see that strength in ourselves.
I was forced out of a 10 year marriage, and I’ve never experienced the emotional highs and lows like I did when my marriage failed. I always considered myself as a reasonably successful person, and I thought I was a good Christian who kept my focus on God. It took an extremely uncomfortable and unsettling phase of my life for me to realise that I hadn’t really kept my focus on God. I was doing all the right things, taking care of the kids, house, family and career etc etc, but the very blessings that God gave had taken His place on the throne.
I understood His heart as I too lay at the foot of the broom tree (1 Kings 19:5). It took a season of utter despair to see that my focus had completely slipped from what I was called to do. I knew my talents, I knew my calling and I thought I was doing the right thing by putting my family first.
God unfortunately doesn’t see it like that. He knows the blessings He’s given us, our responsibilities and what our priorities are, and yet He gives us the strength to focus on our greater calling, because our sole focus in life should be to make disciples (Matt. 28:16-20). Yes, taking care of the family and career is important. The mortgage isn’t going to pay itself, I get all that…but His calling on our life is greater and my life is a simple example of the strength He gives us to handle ALL OF IT!
I had a talent and I had buried it in the ground (Matt. 25:14-30) and God wasn’t having any of it. Let’s get this clear, I am in no way happy with my failed marriage but feeding on God’s word revealed something pretty clearly. If the devil did it, God had to have allowed it and if God allowed it, He’s got me covered…so either way, I have nothing to worry about. God knew the strength He created me with, and probably each of you reading this as well. The manufacturer knows His creations. He needed me to go through the season that I still am in, for me to see what His calling actually looked like and the greater impact my life could have.
He knows exactly what you’re capable of, and all He wants is a willing heart to accept the challenge.
Life was never designed to be easy… my destiny was designed in heaven and it’s all to easy to forget that we’re up against a spiritual enemy who we’re no match for without God.
Look at it like this, I’ve got a challenge against a defeated enemy with the Most High in my corner and victory is a guarantee…but I have to agree to be in this battle.
He leaves that choice to you…are you up to the challenge?
“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength…” — 2 Tim. 4:17
What you see is not what it is. There are so many layers to your life. People will look at where you are now and make decisions and have opinions on everything you’re going through. “You didn’t pray enough. You harboured un-forgiveness. You need Jesus. Have you backslidden?”
It’s absolutely enthralling how the human mind works. I probably heard it all. Here’s some priceless samples, I was alone because I had sinned. I was a false Christian who probably didn’t do what the Bible said. I was depressed because I was not really saved. The best one yet was, I was alone because I was a Christian who was saved.I’m in no way trying to diminish the pain you feel through words, and nothing compares to the pain that your own mind adds. The reason this tickles me now is because I always think back to what if people who had an opinion about everything were to see Joseph in the pit? or in prison? Or Elijah weeping under the broom tree? Or David in the cave of Adullam? Can you imagine what these mighty men of faith would have been subjected to? I’m sure David would have been told that he needed to get his life together and set himself right with God, because why else would he be suffering? I can’t even begin to imagine what Joseph would have heard.
I believe we as Christians who are probably not in the best place right now, need to understand that what people see now is not the whole story. It is important that we refuse to let the opinions of people determine our emotional state. Let’s face it, people are unreliable. Remember at Jesus’ crucifixion, it was Hosanna one day, crucify Him the next. The key to moving on and pressing forward is understanding who and where we stand before the Most Holy. We are accepted. We are loved. We are chosen.
Joseph need the pit to get to the throne. If we stop and think, the same people if they didn’t see Joseph in the pit or prison but second to the throne in Egypt, would have had very different things to say about Joseph’s walk with God. I strongly believe that this life was never designed to be easy because God never said it was going to be a breeze. He did say that He was going to make us stronger and refine us like gold…which needs fire. We need to take courage and encourage those among us who are not in the best place and assure them that there’s a higher calling. How could Jesus defeat the gates of hell if He never died? How could I be confident in Heaven if He didn’t die? Our pain makes us stronger and remember….God’s got you!