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Christianity

2019 In Review

Just like that, we’re at the tail end of another year. As is custom here, this will be the last post of the year as we go on break this month.

This year has had its fair share of ups and downs. It wouldn’t be life in the true sense if it didn’t have its mix of the sweet and the bitter. But God really does have a way of making all things beautiful in His time.

These are some of the gems I’m taking with me into 2020:

Don’t let what-ifs keep you from what-could-bes. It’s easy to get paralyzed into inaction by going down the what-if road. What if it doesn’t work? What if they don’t like it? What if they don’t like me? What if I fail? What if you don’t? The very thing you’re longing for could be on the other side of the fence on the what-could be road. Any time you find yourself trudging down the negative what-if road, hop over the fence and take a walk on what-could-be.

Not every lemon thrown your way is yours to bite on. Spiritual warfare is a reality for every believer even though a good number of us would rather bury our heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist. When you’re in the heat of battle taking blows, it’s easy to forget that fights are won not just by dishing out hits, but by deflecting blows. Some of the worst discouragement you’ll ever deal with will often come just before or right after the breakthrough you’ve been contending for. Because if the enemy can’t keep you from victory, he’ll try and steal your joy of it. Don’t let him.

Little ordinary things are the building blocks of the extraordinary. Any masterpiece is the sum total of small, repetitive brush strokes. Any champion is the product of daily, regimented training. When you understand this, you’ll no longer need to chase the high of achieving the extraordinary. You’ll find joy just in doing the little ordinary things because you know that over time, something extraordinary will come from them.

Stand your ground. Boundaries of any kind always get tested.

The Church is a treasure. She truly is. Just because she’s sometimes covered in a bit of dirt, doesn’t make her any less so. I’ve been immensely blessed by individuals I know personally and those I only know of from a distance who are simply pursuing Christ the best way they know how. They encourage and inspire me to keep running my race. For that, I’m thankful.

Until next year.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

Be blessed.

Categories
Christianity

A Question Of Identity

Figuring out who we are and who we’re called to be is a lifelong endeavour. The paths we take on this journey are often determined by factors that we’re not always conscious of.

Some of these factors are pain, doubt and fear.

As Christians, it goes without saying that the source of our identity is God. He should be the One guiding us through our journey of life.

But what version of God have we embraced and how does it affect how we see ourselves?

Is our God the sum of what we know to be true about Him and the work He continually does in us and through us?

Or is He the sum of what our pain, doubts and fears have made Him out to be?

We can all point to fundamental moments or seasons of our lives that shaped the course of our trajectory from that moment on. But it’s one thing to acknowledge the role that a significant experience (whether positive, negative, or both) has played in shaping your life. It’s entirely another to build your life on the foundation of that experience.

It’s the difference between setting up camp on the way to your destination long before you arrive, and proceeding on to your destination until you get there.

We can allow our experiences to be tools in the hands of our Maker that He works for our good. Or we can take them into our own hands and use them to define ourselves.

So much of the latter is happening. Perhaps because life has a way of undressing us…leaving us naked and vulnerable for the world to see. In our mad rush to make sense of things and restore some sense of dignity to ourselves, we end up clothing ourselves with the very thing that undressed us in the first place.

All around I see individuals, movements, ministries, etc whose very existence is driven by pain, anger and tragedy.

It sounds like it could be a redemptive thing except lemons will never bear apples. Seeds of pain can never birth fruits of peace. Seeds of disappointment and sorrow can never birth fruits of contentment and joy. Seeds of anger can never birth the fruit of peace. At best, they can serve as catalysts to get us on the right path. At worst, they only result in a multiplication of themselves under the guise of being a testament of survival.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

    the days that were formed for me,

    when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:16 ESV

Every day – every single day – of our life on earth has been intentionally mapped out by God. We were always meant to be more than one experience, one high, one low, one phenomenal success, one devastating tragedy.

Our lives are meant to be centred on our Creator; not merely our experiences as created beings. Only divine healing can birth testimonies centred on the Healer and not the disease and the diseased.

God cannot use us to redeem that which we have yet to overcome. If Christ is not at the centre of all we are and all we do, there are plenty of idols waiting to take His place. Our experiences – good and bad – are some of the most underestimated idols we worship…and in the process, lead others to the very same idolatry.  

While we may be able to work people up to a frenzy with these idols, and build a name for ourselves in the process, all we will have done is build a house on sinking sand. It’s only a matter of time before just the right wind of life brings it all crashing to the ground.

We need to think long and hard about what we’re consuming as Christians even from fellow Christians and the Christian world. I always say the simplest test to whether something is good for you is this – is it bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?

Or does it just tickle your flesh and make you feel justified about holding onto the fruit of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like?

For the record, orgies don’t have to be about sex. There are plenty of orgies of jealousy, hatred, anger, selfishness, etc happening online each day that we partake of without second thought.

We need to think long and hard about what houses we’re building as Christians. Are they monuments to our survival from what we (secretly) think God should have saved us from? Are they Christian-shaped idols that point people to us and our ability to overcome relegating God to be the sidekick to our stories?

Or are we in service to THE house of the living God? The One who takes every dart the enemy meant for our downfall and uses it to propel us to our destinies. The One who gives every triumph and every tragedy the right perspective and position in our lives.

Our experiences devoid of God’s mark reduce us to gods who can only give the illusion of salvation. But when we place our very existence in the hands of our Maker, there’s no limit to redemption His presence and power in our lives can bring about.

May everything we are, and everything we do, point the world to Jesus. Because it is Him, and only Him, who is THE way, THE truth, and THE life that the world desperately needs.