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? 

The Good Life

Psalm 111:1-10 

Time Keller said that: We become the things we love the most.
That’s what the Bible mean when it says that ‘The fear of te Lord is the foundation of all wisdom’ ( verse 10)
Or ‘The good life begins in the fear of God ( MSG version)
We, the modern people, are interested in making money and making a good life, but we fail to see wisdom as the path to a blessed life.
That’s why the disappointment when we get money or when we taste what we see as the ‘good life’ is great.
When we fail to see God for who He is: The one who performs great works, glorious and majestic, creative and eternal righteous, gracious and compassionate, generous provider and caring, faithful and just, trustworthy and upright, redemptive and holy…we loose the awe and honour He is due.
And when we do that, our wisdom slips into folly and we waste out lives chasing after nothingness and vanities.

Dear Lord, cause my heart to fear you with honour and let your joy fill my life daily.

( See Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 15:33, Ecclesiastes 12:13)

No Sex, No Gifts…Just This One

Dear husband. When you go to a party with your wife please stop time after time your engaging conversations and go find her. Give her a smile, a kiss on the neck or even a hip rub. She needs to know right there inside that big room that you eyes are still on her. Assure her that you are very proud of her and so blessed to have her at your side.

Dear wife, yes it’s good to have friends over for a meal. The evening has been lovely but longer than you anticipated and now you are tired. You are about to snap at your husband or put him down in front of all for not thinking of helping you. Please don’t. Go and give him a waist hug and a pair of loving eyes. I can promise you that he will feel immediately like a hero. He will grab that sword, cutlery I mean and shine it to perfection.

Dear boyfriend, be more affectionate (hold her hand, hug and smile often) to your girlfriend in public than private. She needs you to let her know and declare it to the world that the quest is over. You have found the One.

Dear girlfriend, yes your buddies are still very important to you. Nonetheless, your boyfriend will soon become your best friend, so invest more into that relationship please. I assure you that that time invested will give great dividends to your couple life later.

Dear mamma. Yes, all that shouting shame, criticism and rushing around weighs heavy on your shoulders. Don’t ever give up please, don’t give up on cupping their faces (make them bend if they have passed your height) and tell them. “You’re a good kid, I am so proud of you and I love you so much!” I promise you that they will forgive you for the shouting and that loving eyes talk will become their strongest inner voice for life.

Dear daddy. As you open the door to enter the house your energy tank feels scarce. All you want doing is grabbing your plate of food and reclining watching tv. Dig deeper please. That word ‘love’ indeed is spelled ‘time’ bigger and louder at home. The big and little eyes are waiting for a kiss, a smile, some kind of understanding.

Dear friend, yes it’s tough work to split open your heart’s pain and joy to someone who might abuse and use you. Keeping a friendship strong requires us to be bravely open, to be vulnerable. So be brave, be wise and you start first. Trust me friendships are worth the price. Our deepest pain comes from relationships, and God uses relationships to mend our hearts. Don’t miss out on that! Go brave friend 

Our lives are as strong as our good relationships are

We need healthy relationships not only to enjoy life, but to be able to face life’s storms well . When Nath was almost forceful for us to have a ‘date’ each week I wondered if that was even possible. I though we will get bored by the third time and have nothing to say to each other. I was wrong. Not only that I look forward to that day but I have a deeper understanding and friendship with Nath because of it. I want to nurture that one better this year. 

Those little conversations that my kids share as we drive to their school and back have become some recently discovered gems. I want to be more present in my children’s life and not miss those rich moments when they come by. I want to stop while chopping an onion and stirring up the dinner to hear their heart pour out, that will fill their soul and mine and sustain us longer than the food can.

A few friends and I started the ‘cooking club’ last year. Basically we meet once a month and share food and time together. Their company soon has become one of the highlights of the month and I love what that converge does to me. Time with those girls has challenged me, grown me, we have laughed hard and cried painful tears too. I need that relationship, I value that time so much, yes-that is a keeper too.

As a leader I meet regularly with many women from our community. We exchange encouragements, different pieces from our life and truths from the Bible. I love giving my time and heart like that. Community has a way of refining us. By edifying others we illuminate ourselves and fulfil the belonging ache.

Then come those relationships that I like to keep at bay. I have to be more brave with them then with the one I like to nurture. I love people, don’t get me wrong, but if good relationships build us up then the negative ones really dismantle us. Relationships that are kept by manipulation, control and guilt need established boundaries time after time as people need time to change, some never do. I have tried to love people like that…….many times, and all those times I am the one left to pay the big bill of maintaining ‘peace’ – which mostly means loosing myself little by little.

I have learned that love in those cases has to be more from afar till the right moment comes when our hearts are safe to build trust. Relationships are hard work, that’s why I want the main focus to be on them. Relationships are amazing, that’s why I want to be investing more and more of me in them.

Happy New Year Brave One! May we grow couragious with our relationships.  

Dear Body

You are wonderful…

Like building bricks, 30 to 40 trillion cells form you. My little yet strong fist-size heart will pump around 182 million litres of blood during my lifetime. My fingers prints, eye print and my toe prints are unique to me. 

I am truly one in billions!

My mouth has around 2,000 taste buds to taste and enjoy food. My eyes can distinguish 10 million different colours. My bones are about 5 times stronger than steel is. The acid inside my stomach has the ability and might to dissolve zinc yet never destroys its walls because the stomach’s cells regenerate quicker than they are destroyed. 

If I laid all of my blood vessels end to end they would stretch 60,000 miles, or go around the world nearly two and a half times! You help me think, create, comfort, invent and be able to love. Because of you, I can enjoy music, see great paintings, soak up breathtaking views. You give me the gift of knowing when I am comforted by the embrace of a friend. Because of you, I feel the kisses of my children and husband, I can gaze the pride in my father’s eyes, the happiness in my mother’s face. Oh, body, you are truly amazing. 

My body, you are fearful too.

A little virus invisible to the eye can kill you. A tiny insect carrying a deadly disease can break and threaten your existence. A little paper cut can cause more pain and discomfort than a broken bone. You can be addictive to drugs, food and drinks and slave after them. You have in you the ability to accumulate dangerous anger that threatens to cripple all your relationships. You feel the pain that no doctor can see or heal. You are easily envious, jealous, bitter and offended. You use manipulation, control and force to get what you want. You exploit your fellow-man, look down on the less fortunate and favour the powerful for your interest. 

So, when I look at you, where shall I focus on, dear body? The wonderful or the fearful part? 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 NIV 

For, If I stop at just your wonderful side, I might be thankful for you and perhaps even prideful. If I looked at the fearful side I might be paranoid and scared to live my life. So, I choose to look through you and not at you only. 

Through you will help me pass seeing just the physical, not that the physical is bad, in contrary it is beautiful, but let us not stop there. My body is more than the cells that make or those that break it. 

It’s formed for a purpose, yes whether in the splendour of its beauty or in the destruction that sickness, you, my body have a purpose. 

So, I am learning to take both arms of my body, the wonderful one and the fearful one and let them embrace me fully. Both sides must come as a whole otherwise I tend to pull one side or the other and that always divides and disconnect the body and mind. Our human nature tends to separate how it looks to the body, we separated it into the parts we like or hate, we dice it, we take sides and stop to look beyond what the mirror shows us. But the psalmist echoes a truth that has survived millenniums. The truth that our bodies are wonderful and fearfully made. That our bodies have a purpose beyond the physical one. That more happens in our bodies in the unseen that what we see. We can start to learn to see through it and enjoy to live in that wonder.

These days I am learning to look through my body more than I am tempted to look at my body. What about you? 

Love Lea xx 

How To Shut Down Those  Annoying Voices  

I went to the dentist today. Don’t worry I will not share any horrifying story here because there isn’t any, but I learned something as I sat down on that white chair that is worth sharing. As the bright light beamed through my orange protector glasses I wonder how is it for a dentist to face every day working with a persistent drilling noise? I have sat there for a hour only and the noise of the drill was driving me crazy.

So, with my mouth numb and wide opened I asked him. How do you do well your job working in the company of this annoying, loud, uncomfortable (I was generous with the choice of my adjectives) noise?

His answer surprised me. “I don’t hear it!” He calmly said. ‘How come?’ I asked, now very short of adjectives.

“I am so focused on doing a good job and having a satisfied client that the noise of the drill, the bright lights, the music on the radio ……all of them, I don’t hear!”

What? You don’t hear the screeching noise of the drill? His answer was the same again. Simply-No

So, focus is the secret of quietening all those annoying other noises that distract us – I thought.

If I am well focused on eaten healthy for example my eyes will be on the good result that that process will bring and not on the cake and cheese around me? If my focus is arrowlike on having good relationships I will see for ways how to improve and invest on those relationships rather than hearing all the negative, complains and judgement noises around me. If I want to be successful at a certain filed my focus needs to be there, totally, wholeheartedly, almost forcefully because all the around noises are going to be present, there annoyingly looking for my attention, districting my focus, pulling me away from the most important things.

Where we focus on there we are heading to!