Why so much hurt Coming from the Church?

I have heard this argument from so many of you. You are right to point it out, for it’s true, many people who have claimed to be Christians, religious, or churchgoers have done things throughout history that have caused so much pain and have destroyed lives.

My heart goes out to so many of you who have sat and listen to someone proclaiming Christ, yet with the same breath behaving like the devil. It’s devastating to hear stories from people who have lived with or under the shadow of evil while going to church every Sunday. I can only say, I am so sorry, I am sorry for the pain and hurt that was done to you. 

For all of us who call ourselves Christians, Christ is our Lord. If we are to be and act like him, then abuse, misuse and violation are not part of the Christian life. Christ is meek, He is our peace, He is loving, He is compassionate, truthful, just, empathetic, protector of the weak, generous, life-giving, and wise. 

The Christian life is not about what we say, but mainly about what we do. 

LD

The way we live our lives tell of what we believe. 

If we treat people like disposable, with disrespect, and dishonour, if we are cruel, if we take advantage of the vulnerable, if we put our interest above all else, then we can profess Christianity with our lips all day long, the truth remains that we do not belong to Christ. 

For the fruit of the Spirit ( Life transformed by the Love of God through Christ) is: 

“…love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control… Galatians 5:22-23 ( Our lives should be a display of the above)

Our love for God should be paralleled with our love for one another ‘ our neighbour’  and ourselves. If we love God we will not abuse, assault or anger our neighbour. Our neighbour is anyone whom we do life with and greet starting inside our homes and continuing in our streets, work, church, park, train, community and everywhere we dwell with people. 

All of us who despise our neighbour despise their maker, our God. 

For we can’t love God and hate our neighbour, that’s not how the love of God works inside of us. So, if we say we are Christian, and we go to church but are not the church, meaning we talk the talk but we don’t walk the walk then we are only phoniness. We are what the Bible calls wolves in sheep clothing.

Wolves and sheep are two different animals with very different intentions in their mind. 

It’s true to say that all people hurt people at some point. Some of us do it unintentionally and occasionally, some in a moment of weakness or jealousy, others in a moment of need or pain. Still, the hurt we are talking about here is the damaging hurt. Hurt that is done willfully, deliberately, habitually and with full intention, those who have caused hurt like that will fully answer to God and the law of the land. People may escape justice and prison, but they will never escape the justice of God. 

God is a father to the fatherless; he gives justice to the widows, for he is holy Psalm 68:5

(If you were hurt, abused and bullied in the church I am Praying for you, know that you have God’s heart)

Stay on the Path of Hope

People have problems and problems have people.

LD


Human life has not been on the easiest path since Genesis 3 happened, but it is not left desolate. It’s is true that there is much hurt in our world, but there is hope also. In fact, unlike pain which can be limited and passing, hope is permanent, living, and forever present.
Hope gets impaired at times, but living hope is unbroken, its inseparable to the righteous path.

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.

Proverbs 4:18

The passage does not say that the path of the righteous has not got holes, or steep uphills and scary slopes, just that his/her path shines with light that gets better and better with each step. The righteous is the man and woman who have been redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. This means they are made anew. They are light and brought to light because of this new relationship with God through Christ.
The righteous may face the same, I would say at times even worse, challenging situations than other people do, still, they seem to be brighter, hopeful, encouraging, enduring and I would dare to say better by it.

I speak with tenderness from personal experience about this and I back that even strongly with stories from the Bible and friends whom I have journeyed with through the valley of pain.

The path I am talking about here is not easy, it’s not happy all the way. The path requires patience and trust. And although at times the light in the path feels more like is deeming and extinguishing rather brightening with each step, Jesus Christ has promised that the light of hope stays switched on constantly.

The last 19 months have been dark and have felt ‘hopeless’ for many. Covid 19 restrictions have numbed a part of us that will require patience, time and grace to heal. We may feel tempted to leave the path, hurry in it or exit it for a change. Still…

We can’t hurry to heal.

LD

We like to think all is well now and that normality has kicked off, still, let’s continue to stay in the lighten path. The love of God heals like nothing else does. He is the way, so, we linger in that righteous path, we ask for help, we receive help and have the forbearance to heal.
As the restrictions of Covid ease off, we must stop and enjoy the smiles that have been muzzled off for longer than the mind can bear it. As we learn to take more steps to normality, let’s not run them. Our hearts need the living hope to revive us again, to breathe in us again, to rebuild us.

Be patient in the path. Stay in the path.

Get in the path.

How to get on the path?

By surrendering to Jesus, to His love to His salvation, to His Hope. He came more than two millennia ago to show the way, to be the way. He came to our world when darkness covered the earth and brought light and the only hope for humanity. Since then, no matter how dark our world gets, or how much pain knocks us down, we have hope. Jesus is our light and hope.

Let us lean on His love.

Fake it till you make it… Really?

“Vision and lies walk close with each other in Silicon Valley.”

It has been known as the place where you can ‘make it’ the place where your dreams and your wildest inventions can take shape and change the world. Young and old flock to the famous district in California carrying a brighter future on their minds and a desire to succeed in their hearts.

One of those people who wanted to make a difference and became for a while the first young female ‘billionaire’ was Elisabeth Holmes. The Stanford dropout whose fear of needles motivated her ‘invention’ to create a technology that used very little blood to perform many tests has been recently in the news. She has been called to testify among other things, of fakery. Her company was selling technology that did not do what was promised to do. She is not the only one. Apparently, it’s the culture in Silicon Valley. Inventors sell their dreams to investors as though they are in their last step ready for the market, rather than in reality being just a concept.
I can understand a little bit why the inventors do that, although I don’t agree when that involves people’s health and wellbeing. The culture of ‘fake it until you make it’ sadly has seeped its way into the church.

There is a popular culture nowadays in our churches to hear sermons from the pulpit with the idea of declaring truths from the Bible even if we don’t ‘feel’ like they are true for us.
“Fake it until you make it” might have worked in Silicon Valley many times, but if we are unsure of our faith, that fakery will not work when we walk in the ‘Death Valleys’ of life.

Believers don’t have to do that. If we are sons and daughters of God, we have been adopted in his family by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, because of that, our faith is based on truth, not fake statements.
It’s true that our feelings perhaps might not grasp this truth straight away, still, our declaration of faith is based on that truth, not fakery.
Salvation, redemption, righteousness, freedom, and right standing with God are all the work of God through the Holy Spirit by the Son, not ours. Because of his work, we don’t have to fake it.
When we understand that, we have nothing to fear or fake, we stand on a rock-solid truth that makes us fearless and assured even if our feelings might not align right away. We’re are not faking anything, we are standing on that truth.

Fakery occurs when we are unsure and doubtful, truth, on the other hand, is based on assurance and evidence.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:1 KJV

In the heavenly courts, that which will matter is the truth, only that will set us free. Fake it until you make it might work here for a while, but if it’s the truth that makes all the difference, why then, we not start and live out the truth right now?

Planning the Pudding

When I know that friends are coming over, the first thing that comes to my mind is cooking the pudding. I am a strong believer that if you make a delicious pudding, all other mistakes or shortcomings with other courses are forgiven. 

Depending on the time I have got I may choose to do a simple and easy dessert or a more impressive and ‘centre of the table‘  alike one. 

When I say simple, I never for a minute mean a compromise on the taste. I like to make a simple chocolate moose for example. Just five ingredients, but with the advantage of being made one night before and individual glass pots for each guest decorated with dark chocolate shavings and nuts make this dessert luxurious yet light. 

If it’s winter, crumbles are my easy to do and favourites to eat pudding. I can mix whatever fruit is in the market for the base and as a topping, I do a killer ‘no flour and low sugar’ crumble. I mix almond, hazelnut and coconut flour with a couple of spoonfuls of brown demerara sugar and butter or coconut oil in a food mixer and spread evenly on the fruit. The hot crumble is just heaven served with crème anglaise  ( custard ) and a good scoop of ice cream. 

If I have time and if I feel patient, then a layered cake might be in place. Perhaps a big tiramisu in a trifle glass dish might help the guests forget of any disasters with the main dish. I like to do baklava sometimes, this tooth aching sweet dessert will linger in all your friends’ mouths and minds well after the meal has finished. 

These desserts are perfect as a crowd pleaser and you can get enough pieces for seconds or even third helpings.  

When your visiting guests are close friends then the knowledge of their favourite pudding is an advantage of making the evening even more special. Preparing their favourite pie definitely enlarges their love tank. The saying that ‘ the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach is not true only for your better half, your friends appreciate and flourish through your kitchen also.  

This idea of planning an event with the end result in mind is something I do generally in life. Everyday choices and decisions and actions are usually driven by ‘how the end will look.’ 

I would lie to you if I did not mention here that although we are talking about food, faith in Jesus helps make this a close reality. 

Jesus taught that food is important for the body but more important than that it is the soul. Our bodies eventually get old (no matter how well we feed them) and perish, but the soul lives forever. If we live our lives and think about that truth, if we rest that issue of the soul in peace, then whatever life dishes to us in the middle,  the ‘glorious gâteau’ will be all we remember and joy in. 

What are you holding on to?

The sun is ascending the stairs of the sky heralding the beginning of a new day. I don’t know about you but however hard the night might have been, bad dreams, bad thoughts, bad foreboding, and dreading the day,  the sunrise brings new hopes to me. 

I am a big fan of the movie ‘The devil wears Prada’ there is a moment in the movie after Andy fails to get Miranda a flight home, and she says to her : 

“Do you know why I hired you? I always hire the same girl: stylish, slender (of course), worships the magazine. But so often they turn out to be… I don’t know, disappointing, and… stupid. So, you with that impressive resume, and your big speech about your so-called work ethic — I thought you would be different. I said to myself, “Go ahead! Take a chance! Hire the smart fat girl!” I had hope. My God, I live on it. Anyway, you ended up disappointing me more than any of the other silly girls.

We are not different from Miranda when it comes to what we try to live in our lives, we all depend on that word knowing or unknowingly 

  • hope – 

The interesting thing about hope is that it is not put on someone who can handle and carry the full weight of it, it tends to always bring disappointing results. 

Like Miranda we too put hope in people, that’s not wrong, but we are people ourselves and we know that we can’t deliver always. 

Our spouse

Our friends 

Our children 

Our job 

Our health 

Our security and safety resources….. all the above can give us a sense of hope for tomorrow and the future, but if we want unshakable hope, hope that is constant, hope that doesn’t depend on moods and circumstances then we must look somewhere else. 

We must look at someone who is unchanging, powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving to us whatever the circumstances and our moods. 

For me, that one is found in my faith in Jesus, my savior who is the source of all hope. 

I wonder where/ who is the place you put your hope in? 

Hope, like the anchor of a ship, needs to be put somewhere so that we can stand the storms of life and enjoy when the sea is quiet. 

So, where are you anchored today? 

Praise all the Way

Psalm 134:1-3 ( last song of Ascent)

God’s blessing is in our daily lives. As the pilgrims get up early to leave the city of Jerusalem after much celebration and joy, they are encouraged to praise God all the way. Nobody likes to leave the party, but God’s presence is with us. God is in our coming and going. God is in our dawns and dusks. God is in the sunshine and in the darkest valley. Praise Him all the way. This living and breathing God are how we should live. We tend to leave worship for Sundays or when we need a soothing background in prayer times, but worship, praise is all the way, all the day, forever.

Together with Fanny Crosby we can say

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood
Chorus:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

( See Hebrews 13:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Colossians 2:6-7)

Unity is God’s Heart

Psalm 133:1-3

Unity is rare and precious. Unity is difficult.
Unity, brotherly and sisterly love is like the dew, makes life spring, refreshes, revives, strengthens and helps us grow.

We might come from different cultures, countries and costumes but God unites us. There He pronounces His blessing.

LD


The opposite to unity is division. Many of us are deeply divided. So we are tired, we are not growing, we are depressed, dull, discouraged and bored.
We pray for unity, but we live division. How?
We don’t land a helping hand to a brother who is different from us in doctrine, we don’t give the opportunity to share with a sister that looks strange to us. We don’t extend our hand and prayers to a suffering pastor and his family. We are not willing to let the ‘oil drip’ to the end of the garment, we are stingy, we are proud.
The love of God compiles us to ‘love one another’ but do we? In words and deeds? How can we love our enemies if we are not willing to cross the road to see our friends?

Dear Lord, help me to see what you see in people and love them in Spirit and truth.

(See 1 Corinthians 1:10. John 17:23, Philippians 2:3)

God Chose You

Psalm 132:1-18

God is here right now and He has blessed you with Jesus. Most of us think that God is distant and only present for some special religious people, but the truth is different.

God has chosen you and wants to be with you.

LD


(see verse 13). Now, when we speak of ‘God’s chosen’ we tend to think of arrogant people who think they are privileged and can use this position for their gain, but God has chosen us in grace. What that means is that we were not deserving of His choice, we were not special so to speak, but we are made special by Him choosing us. We were not more wise, good-looking or hugely different than others, but God has offered us grace and that makes all the difference. Understanding this will only lead to humility and not superiority.
We are chosen to be holy, meaning distinct and different. If the world communities are built in self-promotion, God’s chosen people build communities on self-sacrifice. All aspects of life, self, marriage, work, friendships, sex, money power, the poor, justice, operate completely different in a society that believes and lives like people chosen by God’s grace.

Dear Lord, let us remember who you are and who we are because of you and live humble and bold lives.

( See Deuteronomy 7:6, John 15:17, Acts 13:48)

Upside-down Kingdom

Psalm 131:1-3

Fostering an attitude of trusting hope is our life as believers. This idea of ‘trust’ before ‘have’ can be unusual to many, but it’s not for the kingdom of God. Jesus is the pioneer when it comes to calling his followers to do the opposite of what the world would do.


His well-known sayings include –


Give to get joy
Forgive to be forgiven
Rejoice in persecution
Die to live

The psalmist David voiced the same idea when he uttered ‘I have calmed and quieted myself like a weaned child …’
We are to become like a child, humble, sincere, needy, trustworthy , but not childish- proud, folly, impatient, interest seekers.
We enjoy and fully rest in God when we come with a content heart, rather than a contempt one.

Dear Lord let my cravings and desires be satisfied in you so that I can enjoy your love and presence.

(See Acts 20:35, Matthew 6:14, Matthew 5:11-12, John 12:24)

Wait and Watch for God

Psalm 130:1-8

There are depths of anguish and sorrows that touch our hearts that self-help or man-help can not bring comfort. Prayer helps, but what helps, even more, is the prayer that waits and watches for God to aid. Only like that revelation like ‘forgiveness is with you’ (see verse 4) will give wings to our sinking hearts.

Our God is a forgiving God.

LD

We may withhold forgiveness, our friends, spouse, children, co-workers and family members may do the same, but not our God. When we belong to Him, nothing can revoke his forgiveness. There is nothing like God’s forgiveness, for it’s the only true agent of change. Forgiveness softens the heart and strengthens the mind. Yes, we can go astray, yes we can be haunted by the devil for sins committed, we can be sad and downcast, but there is forgiveness with Him.

The word rendered ‘forgiveness’ is a late form, being found only in two other late passages. [Nehemiah 9:17; Daniel 9:9] It literally means cutting off, and so suggests the merciful surgery by which the cancerous tumour is taken out of the soul.” (Maclaren)

( See Ephesians 1:7, Isaiah 1:18, Colossians 1:13-14)