In celebration of ‘wordaholics’.

This post is largely inspired by a post I read earlier today titled Confessions of a Wordaholic.

If u know me any, or have read my post on intentionality, you would have learnt that i love words, both small and big but mostly big (blush). I also love colloquialisms especially sms language and abbreviations. I cannot begin to describe the damage texting has done to my grammar, lol, so if you like words spelt out in full, please excuse my use of ‘lol’ and smileys.

What can i say but for me, words should create mental pictures. To my mind, discombobulate sounds better than confuse because it creates a visual of total chaos and ‘bombulation’*[1]. Befuddled is another beloved synonym for confuse, because i can just see the person stumbling about in a ‘fuddle’. Oscillate sounds way better than swing as i visualise the object going around in circles; and when i think of being besieged, I picture Jack Sparrow stuck at sea and surrounded by enemy pirates trying to steal his ship… Catch my drift?

I have always loved big words. Growing up, my dad make us read newspapers and books from when we could barely read; with instructions to write down words we didn’t recognise and or understand which we’d discuss subsequently. My love affair with the dictionary is chronicled in intentionality.

I remember an incident from when we were much younger, my sister and i went to the tailor and in describing my desired attire, i used the word ‘asymmetrical’. My sister did question me about this because before the recent advent of ‘fashion designers’, the typical Nigerian tailor had little or no education. So my sister asked how i thought he would understand the word, and i lied and told her it was more for her benefit (thank God for Jesus and redemption); but truth be told, i just used the word because i liked it and it expressed what i needed to say, without caring about my audience. My dad often chastised me on this issue with the words ‘the essence of communication is to communicate, so your audience must understand you’. Well he created this wordaholic monster so guess who’s to blame, lol, (if you ever read this, just kidding, love you dad.)

I love flowery words, this makes my profession(law) very fitting since it’s a profession steeped in tradition, ancient languages like Latin and lots of elegant, long, obfuscating words(oops,I did it again). I would fit right into the Shakespearean era, albeit in terms of words alone, no corsets please J. Incidentally, my favourite version of the bible is the King James Version, for the aforementioned reasons (I like that word too, blame it on law school and always citing one thing or the other). For instance ‘lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness’, sounds way better than ‘get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent’, even if you don’t know what it means, lol (that’s James 1:21,by the way)*[2]. I might be onto something though, as research shows that the KJV is the easiest version to memorize because it’s so poetic it practically ‘sings’.

Interestingly, one of my pet peeves is people using big words around me, not in general though, what particularly ticks me off are malapropisms which simply put is using  words (particularly big words in my case) wrongly. I feel like if you have to or like to use big words, the least one can do is look them up and use them in the right way; aarghh, lol.

Anyway, (one of my favourite non-big words, it serves as good introduction for a segue or change in subject).Thanks for taking the time to go on another rambling journey with me. Let us know in the comments section if you are a fellow ‘wordaholic’ or if you find the lot of us annoying and think we are just desperately trying to sound clever.:-)

Remember to do whatever u do for and to the glory of God, including being a wordaholic or not.

 Shalom fam J

 P.S

Feel free to share your favorite words and the reasons why in the comments section as well; and for my friends who kindly read my posts, please don’t text, facebook or bbm me with your comments. Please post them below for all to enjoy.


[1] No such word, I just made it up  J

[2] For this reason, I usually read lots of different bible versions / translations together, and advise people to do same. Seeing it phrased so differently often enriches the understanding of the text.

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The difference between girly girls and manly men

In a recent conversation with a friend we broached the above topic. The gist of it was that he talked to girls and boys in the same way, like there was no difference between them, and talked to me specifically like I was ‘one of the boys'(Apologies in advance, not picking on you, I just studied the subject a bit more and I thought it provided an excellent opportunity for encouragement, edification and comfort).

I have heard various times from other friends that guys don’t like girly girls, but rather prefer girls who act like one of the aforesaid ‘boys’. While I can see their point, especially in pop culture, can I say I disagree wholeheartedly? Bear with me as I make my case.

Genesis 1:27 records that ‘God created man in His own image; male and female He created them’. This verse brings up two clear thoughts for me; First of all man (male and female) is the only creature with the privilege of having been created in God’s image, and in that respect both genders are equal, and valuable in God’s sight. According to John Piper, if God created us in his image as male and female, that implies equality of personhood, equality of dignity, mutual respect, harmony, complementarity, and a unified destiny when we accept Him. In the same vein, Wayne Grudem, in his epic book Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood says this record at the very beginning of God’s word bears a fundamental and irrefutable witness against the evil of male superiority celebrated by culture and many religions.

Secondly, God in His infinite wisdom, made the genders different for a purpose, He thought through our creation (Psalm 139:13-15). Genesis 2:20-22 records how God had created man, and then saw that he lacked ‘a helper suitable for a specific purpose’, and then created woman. In His providence, foreknowing that gender differences would one day be blurred, God goes to great lengths to show us that there are fundamental distinctions between men and women, differences in creation, design and purpose. Galatians 3:28 does say that there is neither male nor female once in Christ, but the thrust of this is that regardless of gender or station in life, we are all equally accepted through Jesus.

All I have said is probably not news to you, one look at a man or a woman confirms the fact that we are basically different. But my position is that our differences are not merely anatomical, God made us different on and with purpose and gave us different tools to fulfil our roles. (In theological discussions, this is called complementarianism; more information below*).

One of the consequences of the fall was the curse in Genesis 3:16 to the effect that the woman’s desire will be to control her husband, but he will rule over her (NLT). Another consequence was that mankind…’Refusing to know God soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men'(Romans 1:26). We therefore established new definitions for ourselves and blurred the gender dichotomy. This has resulted in the gender conflicts that have marked history, with women wanting to be like men, usurp their functions and men wanting to dominate all women (as opposed to just their wives like scripture says; Ephesians 5:22, Genesis 3:16).Gender roles have been severely corrupted by sin, leading to rebellion against God’s design and exploitation of each other.

You might wonder how any of the above has anything to do with my subject.Although I am not trying to exegete on the origins and manifestations of gender differences, I am saying that God made us profoundly different and dictates our relations based on those differences. Romans 1:27 describes how men started to desire other men and women other women. While I am not saying that a man who prefers a non girly girl is homosexual, I think it’s the distortion caused by the  fall that causes a man to desire manly qualities in a girl, and a girl, feminine qualities in a man.

 If we were the same in all respects except anatomically, how then would we complement each other? If we could be treated the same, 1 Peter 3:7 would not instruct men to treat women differently, as weaker vessels. Jesus, our example, treated women with tenderness, He honored and accepted them, while being sensitive and affirming even where culture wasn’t . In 1 Timothy 5:2 men are instructed to treat women as sisters with gentleness and purity. Those are definitely not adjectives that feature in male relationships, men thump and slap each other on the back by way of greeting, if a guy greeted me that way, I’d be calling 911 and reporting an assault. I know that’s a bit of an extreme but I hope you catch my drift. I like a quote by Pastor Mark Driscoll which goes ‘A girl is not a guy, she does not want to be treated like a guy, spoken to like a guy, or do what guys do’.

We are different. For starters, a 50 year old woman still refers to herself as one of the girls; even 16 year old boys want to be called men. I don’t know if I’m stereotypically girly, I like frills but hate pink, i love a good rom-com but enjoy football and formula 1. I appreciate the Terminator/ Bourne movies as much as i enjoy Meg Ryan/ Jennifer Aniston soppy fare. I appreciate that we should be diverse in our tastes and interests, and be interested in what our partners are interested in, so husbands should watch rom coms with their wives, and women should go fishing or whatever it is men enjoy these days (just kidding).

I’m not drawn to a womanly or effeminate man, in the same way; I do not expect a man to seek masculine or tomboyish qualities in me. I think men should be men- strong, manly, able to pray, provide and protect but still able to cry at  human suffering and other effects of sin in this world. Contrary to what the culture calls it, this is not a man who is in touch with his ‘feminine side’. Another apt quote from Mark Driscoll is ‘men shouldn’t have a feminine side, same way dogs don’t have a cat side’ :-).  Jesus wept when a friend died, but He also endured a criminal’s death on the cross without as much as a tear, rather he asked God to forgive His accusers, if that does not define gracious masculinity, nothing else does.

 My whole point which it took 30 paragraphs to make is God made each gender fearfully and wonderfully in its uniqueness. We should therefore look to His word only to guide and govern our interactions.

As usual, I look forward to your comments or responses, and in this case, possible disagreements. I have included a list of helpful resources at the end. Thanks again for reading.

Shalom fam :-). 

1.       Recovering Biblical Manhood Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism book by Wayne Grudem. This and other resources available at http://www.cbmw.org/.

2.       Manhood and Womanhood Conflict and Confusion after the Fall- Sermon by John Piper, available at www.desiringgod.com and www.cbmw.org.

3.       The Council of Biblical manhood and womanhood has a myriad of useful articles and resources available on their website; http://www.cbmw.org/.

4.       * The complementarian position in summary is that men and women are equal in essence but with distinct roles. A good synopsis and comparison with the egalitarian position is called ‘Summaries of the Egalitarian and Complementarian Positions’; available at http://www.cbmw.org/Resources/Articles/Summaries-of-the-Egalitarian-and-Complementarian-Positions.

5.       Women and Femininity, Sermon by Mark Driscoll available at http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/proverbs/women-and-femininity.

6.       Jesus and Women by Doug Clark at http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200102/024_jesus_and_women.cfm

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

The title of this post is borrowed from John Piper’s classic exposition on Christian Hedonism. Since Christianity is modelled after Christ, the epitome of selflessness, and hedonism connotes the pursuit of selfish pleasure above anything else, the terms are almost antithetical. The import however is that we get the most pleasure as Christians when we pursue God exclusively.

I’m in my 20s, single, studying, and not the most financially stable but recently my most earnest and consistent prayer hasn’t been about a better job, marriage or more money, I do pray for those things but they haven’t been my most pressing. Lately,  my most ardent prayer has been from Philippians 3:7-10 -That I would know God and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings and becoming like Him in his death …. and that ultimately I would count everything else as poo ( well the bible uses ‘dung’, but in this days we just call it poo), compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Him.

This has been a surprising transition for me. It reminds me of a time long ago when I became a Christian. I was so enthralled by the love of Jesus and so cognizant of how undeserving I was (and still am) of such unconditional love and grace, that I would often pray, ‘Lord if you didn’t do one more thing for me after saving me, you have satisfied my soul’s thirst and I would love and thank you forever’. I would read 2 Corinthians 9:15 where Paul thanks God for His unspeakable gift of grace, and acknowledge that being a part of God’s family was truly the supreme gift, and that Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for me gave me all the validation and gratification I would ever need.

That feeling slowly changed as I became accustomed to being a Christian. As I occasionally displayed good works consistent with the righteousness God has imputed to me, I started to feel like God owed me compensation for my good behaviour, that for professing His name and taking his ‘side’, he was obligated to make me rich, happy and healthy. I was taught to make demands of God, to name and claim blessings, and expect that because I’m Christian, things will always happen as I want them to. Don’t get me wrong, I am not wholly refuting those assertions, there is some merit to them.One of my favourite verses, Romans 8: 32 declares that if God did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? So I do believe that our God is a gracious giver, but who determines what he gives us? Contemporary christianity introduces God as almost a religious Santa Claus, no doubt God is the giver of good and perfect gifts(James 1:17), but our definition often differs from His, because only He knows what we require for genuine satisfaction.

Matthew 6:33 says to seek the kingdom and all other things will be added to us. My flesh loved that because I assumed it meant that if I put God first He will give me all the comforts I want (emphasis on wants, as opposed to needs). But I look at scripture and I’m not sure where I got that interpretation from. A cursory read of the apostles biographies, reveals different, it actually paints a startling picture. If any group ever sought God’s kingdom, it was the disciples, their lives were characterised by outspoken desires and efforts to expand Gods kingdom, yet their lives were full of untold hardship. They all lived perilous lives and died painful deaths in martyrdom. Only the apostle John died a regular death, and that was because they tried to ‘deep fry’ him in a scorching cauldron of hot oil and he didn’t die so he got sentenced to exile on a remote island.

Yet the disciples spoke about possessing inexpressible joy, Paul even boasted in his hardships ( he draws an exhaustive list in 2 Corinthians 12). In 1 Peter 1, Peter addresses Christians exiled and ostracised for their faith, he speaks of them having suffered grief by and all kinds of trials, but shortly after, in the most startling about-face he describes them as having unspeakable and glorious joy (verses 7-9). This piqued my interest, because in my pursuit of comfort, I had experienced bouts of happiness but nothing close to ‘unspeakable and glorious joy‘.

Believe me, I do like material comforts, I don’t like being broke, I am by no means extravagant but I like to be able to afford the necessities and the occasional luxuries. However, I have found that as soon as I satisfy one need another comes up, after I go on one trip, I immediately get ideas for another; right after I purchase a pair of shoes, I think I need a pair in red. Is it just me or do all human accomplishments not always lead to bigger goals? This is not bad in itself, after all like Paul said we are encouraged to forget what is behind and strive for what is ahead (Philippians 3:13).But this vicious cycle certainly didn’t fill me with joy unspeakable so I sought to know what the apostles knew that made them feel that way in spite of  hard circumstances.

The result has been a shift in my theological paradigm, I have learnt that the beauty of Christianity is not that I get a provider in God, but infinitely greater than that, I GET GOD!!! That in the new birth God becomes our Father and we who were far away and alienated from God are befriended by and brought near to God, we who were once not  ‘a people’ are now His people and that we who were once objects of wrath, become recipients of God’s mercy( Ephesians 2 :12-13, 1 Peter 2:10).

According to Peter, the reason why the exiles referred to in 1 Peter 1 had unspeakable and glorious joy, was because they got this, in verse 8 he says, ‘Though you have not seen him, you love and believe in him and as a result, you are filled with joy’. So my current quest is the prayer in Ephesians 1:18, as I ask God to open the eyes of my understanding to see the beauty that is in Him, that I would have such an understanding of Him that everything else pales in comparison with knowing and being known by Him. Like Paul, I want to get to the place where I count everything I once saw as important and impressive, as loss (the aforementioned poo description is Paul’s, he counts his lofty credentials and achievements as just that compared to the EXCELLENCE of knowing Christ.(Philippians 3:8).

  

I am in no way negativing worldly efforts or accomplishments, working hard, being industrious and making money. God is not averse to us being wealthy, on the contrary he gives us the power to make wealth, but the underlying reason has to be centred on him, and his reason is that we may establish His covenant in the earth and expand His kingdom.(Deuteronomy 8:18). He has to be the reason behind all our efforts,the great end-result we are after. In 1 Timothy 4:10, Paul writes to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God.

  

I want to get to the point where I truly believe that to live is Christ and to die is Christ (In Philippians 1:21, Paul does say ‘…to die is gain’, but the gain is because He goes to be with Christ). Where I recognise that my life is no longer about me, but about Christ who lives in me, that he died for me so that I will live for no other purpose than for Him who loved me and emptied Himself of all rights for me (Galatians 2:20, Philippians 2:6).

 

My most ardent prayer now is that I learn to love and delight in God, for who He is, not what I can get from Him. I pray that just as I prayed when I was first exposed to His all surpassing greatness, that I remain true to him even if He doesn’t grant another request. My prayer is that just like Jesus resolved after asking God twice to take the cup of the cross away, that I settle in my mind that He is my father, who withholds no good gift from His children, and that those gifts are not always material. That I would realise that most of all, he is THE prize,the supreme value in the universe who counted the joy and cost of my redemption so high, he gave his very life and he invites me to reciprocate for my joy and His glory( Hebrews 12). I hope this challenges you to a life of christian hedonism and that your quest for satisfaction leads you to God and God alone.

Shalom fam 🙂

P.S

Please share your thoughts in the comments section. I will be doing follow-up posts on this subject. If you are looking for related resources,  I have found the following very instructive:

Righteousness? By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone

Even if a Christian never does another good deed in life, he or she is never unrighteous in God’s sight….Pretty radical statement yeah? Soak it in; if you never did another good thing, once you are declared righteous by God, He doesn’t renege on that declaration. Intrigued? Read on….

 

One of the biggest lies of the devil is that Christian righteousness is attained (earned) rather than obtained (received). That we have to work to ‘qualify’; that our good deeds impress God and increase our value in His eyes. That if we do good deeds, obey all the commandments and are good citizens, we win God‘s approval.

 

The bible reveals different, it teaches us that all our very best intentions and deeds are at best filthy rags compared to God’s righteousness (Isaiah 64:6). His standards are so much higher than anything we could attain (Isaiah 55:9). Discouraging huh? Wait for the good part…

 

The bible describes the righteousness of God as beginning and ending with faith and acquired through faith for all who believe in Jesus (Romans 1:17, Romans 3:22). In Galatians 2, Paul corrects the notion that we are made right with God by anything we do. His argument culminates in verse 21 where he asserts that if righteousness God could come by anything we do then Christ died unnecessarily. Imagine that, he says that to claim righteousness as earned by works is to defeat the very purpose of God’s grace and Christ’s death.

 

 

This part of the argument is probably familiar to you if you are a Christian. Back to my introductory ‘punchline’, the more astounding part is that the bible also assures that once you become a Christian, even if you never do another good deed in your life, you never lose God’s approval, you are never declared unrighteous by God. I can hear the defences rising but gimme a minute to make my case.

 
For starters, God assures us that his gifts and calling are irrevocable (Romans 11:29); He never takes back what he gives us. Secondly, since we do not become righteous on the basis of our works, but receive it as a gift based on Jesus’ death and resurrection, how can we then think our actions affect it?. Paul attacks the notion ferociously in Galatians 3:3, and describes as foolish the tendency to begin in faith and seek to continue by works.

 

My point is not that we need not be good, upstanding citizens, the bible tells us we were created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  We are instructed to live such good lives that people, particularly unbelievers see our good deeds and glorify God (1 Peter 2:12) so our works do count as a testimony and a witness.

 

What the bible emphasises however is that works are secondary and simply a response to God’s righteousness which He bequeathed to us. According to Romans 4:4, the worker’s wages are his due and not a gift, but since this is a gift, the extent of our participation is to simply receive it. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that without our involvement, and prior to our existence, God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin, for our sake, so that through Him, we would become the righteousness of God.

 
I hope this excites you as much as it does me. I pray that the Holy Spirit illumines your mind to this truth. What this releases us from is the tendency to either condemnation or self righteousness. Condemnation, when we do not do what we should and self congratulation when we do good works, as though we did it in our strength. It has been most freeing to realise that my works don’t commend or make me acceptable or unacceptable to God (1 Corinthians 8:8- this refers to eating but the same inference can be drawn).

 

As Pastor Tullian* says, God’s free unconditional grace irritates us because it takes the focus off us and our hard work, and puts it on Jesus and His generosity. It is so extremely liberating to know that God approves of me because and only because of the work of Jesus, irrespective and independent of anything I ever did, do or would do. Once I have made Jesus my Lord and Saviour, God sees me as absolutely righteous, as righteous as Jesus, as righteous as God, WOW!!! Talk about looking through rose coloured lenses, these are more like diamond encrusted lenses.

 
As liberating as this is, the beauty and counter-intuitiveness of grace is that, a true understanding of God’s gift doesn’t make you want to take advantage of and abuse it but to rejoice in and respond to it in reckless abandon (Romans 6). Like Jesus says, he who is forgiven much ends up loving much (Luke 7:47).  Knowing we are righteous before God, no matter what is not an invitation to sin;  what it does is reassure us that rather than lower his standards because we could never measure up , he empowers us by His Spirit to desire and to work what pleases him (Philippians 2:13). Knowing that God approves of me irrespective of my works, makes me want to just reciprocate His love that I am so unworthy of and respond in obedience to His oh so gracious gift.

 
I hope this brings some clarity and hope to you. If you consider yourself a moralistic and good person in and by yourself, I hope you realise that God is not impressed by anything we do, and accept His gift of righteousness. If on the other hand, you have done abominable or bad things, know that all you need to receive this gift is to accept Jesus’ sacrifice on your behalf. He promises that even where your sins are figuratively blood-red, your slate will be wiped so clean, that By Jesus’ atoning work, God makes you snow-white.( Isaiah 1:18).

 

Shalom fam 🙂

 

*One of the most doctrinally sound and revolutionary blogs (in my opinion), is Pastor Tullian’s, you can read that on http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/ .

Royal wedding or Real wedding?

Just last weekend, the event the world had been waiting for -I know I overstate it some but indulge me :-), the royal wedding and the surrounding fever (whether for or against it), finally happened. I’m not big on weddings generally but I’m a self professed sucker for a good love story (whatever that means ) so I watched it. I was enthralled by the fairytale elements; the real life Cinderella story  it depicted, the romance, the pomp and pageantry et al. It also got me thinking about marriage and the criteria for selecting ‘the one’ (besides the one in a million chance of him being heir to a multi million pound dynasty).

 

I have had my fair share of relationships, not too many, honest :-).  My primary criteria were love and romance; the butterflies in my tummy, the ‘can’t wait for him to call’, and ‘don’t wanna hang up the phone when we talked’, stuff like that. There was the important but ancillary stuff like we had to get along, have similar interests; he had to be cute, smart, have a job, not a criminal (lol), and other such peripheral yardsticks, but that was as far as it went. If there was a form, they would have had to tick the Christian box but I wasn’t really investigating their commitment to Christ and I was willing to forgive them for some shortcomings if I got the aforesaid butterflies.

 

But years, tears (from the joys, drama and heartache of relationships) and countless boundless podcasts later (curious? see postscript); I start to ponder the reasons for dating and marriage. I write from the perspective of a single female, but I hope my ramblings are relatable and helpful to both genders.

 

 

My perspective on dating and relationships was mainly garnered through movies and music.Hollywood got me bad; I was a clichéd ‘hopeless romantic’. With the benefit of biblical knowledge, I now take exception to that phrase because I am by no means and in no way hopeless, as a Christian I have a ‘living hope’ in Christ, my hope of glory (1 Peter 1:3, Colossians 1:27).

 

I thought the point of marriage was to be happy, to find my soul mate, one who completes me. I thought I’d recognize my spouse when on the first date when he’d complete my sentences, know my thoughts and needs before I voiced them and generally read my mind, lol(tall order yeah?). I realize that was wishful, unrealistic thinking; but a lot of us think about marriage in similar terms by way of finding ‘the one’, riding off into the sunset and living happily forever after without considering the perspective of the Author of marriage. On a side note, I once heard a preacher joke that If there was any one person who could complete another, God would do His best to keep them apart as He only wants us to find completion in Him 🙂 (Colossians 2:10).

 

I’m learning that since the primary purpose of man is to serve and enjoy God, all the facets of human life must reflect this over arching purpose. A popular saying about marriage from the biblical viewpoint is that God’s primary purpose with it, is not to make us happy, but holy. This is not to suggest that God doesn’t want us happy, Jesus in declaring His mission statement said He came that we would have and enjoy life (John 10:10). However the primary way for a believer to live to the fullest is by doing God’s will and seeking first His kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Also, since without holiness no one will see God,(Hebrews 12:14) and our lives span 150 years at the most, it is only fitting that life and marriage prepare us for spending infinite eternity with God (I use the tautology deliberately, to emphasise the length of eternity).

 

My thinking is evolving and now I see that through marriage, we are mandated to establish God’s purposes on the earth and expand His kingdom (not just by pro creating, but by preaching the gospel, see the great commission in Mark 16:15). After God performed the first marriage ceremony in history, He pronounced a blessing on Adam and Eve and commanded them to ‘be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it [using all its vast resources in the service of God and man]; and have dominion over every living creature that moves upon the earth (Genesis 1:28 Amp.).

 

In that scripture, it was like God gave them a vision and told them how to execute it. All of nature and creation has been groaning in birth pains and waiting with eager longing for the sons of God to be revealed (Romans 8:19-22), so just like Adam and Eve, through marriage we can redeem, and exercise dominion over creation.

 

The knowledge of God’s plan and desire is refining my thoughts of what marriage should be and what to look for in a mate. I’m learning that rather than seeking out a hunk who’s only value might be as eye candy, I should be looking for someone with a heart for God and His kingdom, a mate who loves me not just for anything physical like looks or chemistry (though they are important) but most importantly to have a connection predicated on our desire to honour God and be used by Him to affect the lost and dying world.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I am still very romantic, albeit hopefully now , and pray for a happy marriage with a fantastic, articulate dude who is crazier about Jesus than he is about me! That’s because it’s that love for Jesus that will teach and equip him to love me as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25-28). Only Jesus can ask a man to love his wife to the point of dying for her, and equip him so to do (Philippians 2:13). As Lecrae raps in ‘Wait’ a man can’t love u like he should if he’s not engaged to Christ; he continues ‘…real leaders follow God, and if the man isn’t following Christ, trust me, he can’t lead u.(more info in the postscript).

 

Only one who has learnt from Christ’s commitment to love to the fullest and to the end, will love when times are tough, when the honeymoon is over and passion wanes, when the ‘7 year itch’ presents itself, when it feels he loves you but is no longer ‘in love’ with you (another Hollywood invention, I think), knowing that marriage is about covenant, not just feelings (John 13:1, Hebrews 7:25).

 

 

I’ve written this from a female perspective but I hope that any readers, male and female alike, are encouraged by it. To my fellow ‘singletons’, I pray for God’s grace for us all, to wait for God’s best and do marriage right; not to hook up with the wrong people as though God who created and foreknew us didn’t have plans for us. He made us for good works which He had prepared in advance and that includes marriage (Ephesians 2:10).

 

 If you are married, I pray for God’s continued grace and blessing on your marriage, and encourage you that even if you did not start right, our God is in the habit of turning our messes into messages, so it’s never too late.

 

 The mandates here are not limited to marriage, a single person can be just as effective or even more so, great examples are our Lord and Saviour Jesus, and the great apostle and writer of over half of the new testament, Paul. Let this be an encouragement for you if you are called to be single or find yourself in that season. I do not wish to diminish it in any way, it can be one of joyous freedom and unclutteredness, Paul actually wished everyone would be single like him, because of the opportunity to be wholly committed to expanding Gods kingdom. ( I Corinthians 7:7).I write this as someone who is enjoying and trying to make the most of my singleness, who desires marriage in the fullness of God’s time, and who most importantly wants to honour, serve and enjoy God in every facet of life including marriage.

 

 

Shalom fam 🙂

 

Postscript

The Boundless show is a website of focus of the family targeted at singles, and related issues, they have a plethora of great resources and a podcast. For more information, go to http://www.boundlessline.org.

 

I wholly recommend listening to Lecrae’s ‘wait’. It’s like a mini sermon on marriage and delves into a lot of the common excuses or misconceptions. I have attached a link to the song and lyrics on YouTube. Pay particular attention to the lyrics even if you don’t like the song, I think the message is sound and biblical. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kI1lrmMWwq0

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T.G.I.F Redefined

People get excited at Fridays for a variety of reasons. For some its the prospect of a restful weekend,others like the free time to catch up with friends, family, chores etc. This euphoria at the impending weekend is so pervasive, it has inspired a popular saying ‘Thank God Its Friday’ more commonly known as TGIF.

TGIF has inspired many elements of pop culture including songs, clubs and even a chain of restaurants. I’m seeking to put a new spin on TGIF through the lens of an event more extraordinary than having 2 free days to catch up on laundry or our favorite tv shows.On a friday centuries ago, represented symbolically today(April 22nd 2011), Jesus died on the cross to bridge the gap between God and mankind, buy us back from the enemy, to bring many sons to glory and offer us the opportunity and privilege to be just like Him (Hebrews 2:10).

The course of history and mankind have been so radically altered by the friday on which Jesus died, so much so that time is measured with reference to His birth and time on earth( Before Christ – BC and Anno Domini( in the year of our Lord); and so TGIF becomes more than just the promise of 2 days of rest, it offers the chance of eternal rest, new life, forgiveness of sins and friendship with God.

On Good friday, Jesus offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, battled the forces of darkness for our sakes,  declared that all that was required for our salvation was finished, and then sat down(symbolizing rest and completion) at the right hand of God inviting whoever wills to come be a part of God’s family(Hebrews 10:12,Revelation 22:17, John 19:30).

I’m infinitely grateful for the privilege to be Gods’ adopted,I’m ineffably thankful that Jesus in obedience to the Father gave His life as the ultimate sacrifice, and eternally glad that the Holy spirit dwells in me assuring me that I belong to God.

So I thank God its good friday, and not just because Jesus died, but because 2 days later He arose in the most triumphant display of victory over the enemy – for if they had known Good Friday would lead to Resurrection Sunday, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8).

Happy good friday fam., I hope you have a great weekend and that those who dont know Jesus, get to meet and experience Him as Lord and Saviour and they can join us to truly TGFGF (Thank God For Good Friday).

Much love…Shalom fam. 🙂

 

God’s Redeeming power

In the promotional blitz for her biographical movie, Soul Surfer, I watched a Beth Hamilton interview where she recounted how a few months into 2003, she and her mum were praying for Gods direction for her life, and to be used by Him, not too long after, on an otherwise typical day in the life of the 13 year old surfer, a shark bites off her arm-How s that for answered prayers for direction!

In the wake of the accident, it looked like her passion for life and her main passion in life-surfing were over. Having listened to her testimony, I try to imagine how I would have reacted, I would probably have thought that my life was over, my soul would probably have felt as deformed as her missing arm, as Jesus cried on the cross, I would have gone – My Father, My Father, why hast thou forsaken men ( I would have said it that way, in ‘King James’ english, as if to get through to God faster). I would have come round eventually and declared Romans 8:28, and concluded that God meant it for good but I am pretty sure I would have seriously questioned what good could come out from that.
So I am  inspired by Bethany, who when she was asked 5 years later if she would trade the attack, to have her life and arm back, said no. She said, if she had 2 arms she probably would have turned away from God, and been living a life that was not worth living (i.e. without Christ).

Her testimony reminds me that sometimes God let’s things happen to us (not in a sadistic or vindictive because God is love-1 John 4:8); to help us keep our perspectives right. God does not cause our pain, according to the bible ‘God doesn’t tempt anyone, He is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way, the temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us through the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lusts; and lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin!’ (James 1:13-15 the MSG).
Biblically, the word lust didn’t always have negative connotations, it could mean a strong desire or a craving; sometimes the desires are not wrong, for instance Beth desire to surf was by no means evil but because we live in a fallen world, bad things do happen, some people get into car crashes on the way from bible study, missionaries get killed in the course of preaching God’s word. Bad things happen and we ask why we suffer and feel pain even while doing God’s will, and  I am reminded of Jesus, d ultimate implementer of God’s will who also suffered immeasurably to accomplish that.

Our greatest assurance through all suffering is that God loves us beyond measure, so much so that He knows and numbered each strand of our hair (Matt 10:30), that nothing catches Him by surprise, and that He does in ALL things work for our good,   according to the bible  ‘He knows us far better than we know ourselves… That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good’ (Romans 8:27-28, the MSG).

We shouldn’t always run away from pain, I like the saying that God speaks loudest in our pain, it’s not always the most comfortable place but pain can really be God’s gramophone. Sometimes like Joseph, the pain is the pathway to the podium(I use that figuratively); sometimes the most important lesson we learn in our pain is that we cannot do life by ourselves, that we were created to give God glory, and we learn to give Him credit for our deliverance and success. In the aftermath of pain, we can realize that God saved us for a reason and are more eager to work with Him to bring that to fruition. Lecrae puts it aptly (as usual:-) in the song, Background, where he prays that he won’t succeed by himself and learn to trust in himself rather than in God, because the path of self help ultimately leads to despondence.
Beth realizes that without the shark attack, she probably would be just another surfer, but the accident has given her a platform like none other, because of the accident and more importantly her unceasing faith, God has opened doors for her, made her a global witness for Him. She has inspired countless others so much so that Hollywood came calling and ultimately did a biopic of her and she’s only 21 years old.

The greatest example of God’s redeeming love surely is Jesus, in one of my favourite and oft quoted verses of scripture we are encouraged to keep our eyes on Jesus who endured the cross, scorning its shame, and  as a result of that is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God ( Hebrews 12:2). Philippians 2 records of Jesus that although He had equal status with God He didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave; an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion and because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honoured him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honour of God the Father. (Verses 5-11 paraphrased, MSG).

 I pray that you are encouraged to trust in Gods redeeming power, that we learn to lean on Him when the difficult times come, hear the message in our messes and that after the pain, once dawn breaks, and we are in the delight-some place(I love that phrase from Malachi 3:12) we rely even more on Him and recognize that every good, desirable and perfect gift comes from Him and Him alone (James 1:18), that He is the owner and author of all that is good in us and that He gifts us so we can do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he makes—taking us  from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. (1 peter 2:9-10, The MSG).
Shalom fam

 Postscript

I hope you go see the soul surfer when it’s showing in your area; No, I am not getting paid to market the movie but I think it has a positive and uplifting message, that will inspire you to look beyond your present pain and trust in God’s redeeming power.

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