humility, God, prayer, notsoskinnydreams.com, christianity,

Humility

I’m in a period of re-thinking how I pray to God. A sermon was on the radio the other day, where the preacher said that a lot of us go to God with a checklist of wants. Even when they are answered we come back with more and more and more. As if our  Heavenly Father, were Santa Clause, and his sole purpose was to satisfy our wants. Even Santa Clause gave coal.

It made me think how I would feel if that was happening to me. All day long, I want this, help me with that, give me this, on and on. Then barely a thank you. If there is a thank you, a 10 sec one compared to the 30 minutes to several hours of wanting this and that. I would be pretty annoyed. I probably would hit the mute button or stop picking up calls. However our God is such a gracious and merciful God that despite our selfish nature He’s there for us. Even though He is worthy of all our praise and adoration, he gets less than a tithe of that.

“You are worthy, our LORD and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being”
Revelation 4:11

There are some examples of prayer in the bible that make me feel ashamed. That they humbled themselves so much before the Lord, and revered God earnestly and dutifully knew his word. One example is Nehemiah. Such an exemplary man of God. He saw his people were in dire need and instead of praying for the need to be filled by someone else he beseeched God to help him to fill it. He fasted and prayed for days. Preparing himself for even the smallest first step of getting the king to agree to help him (Neh 1:5-10). I confess that I don’t go to God with the meekest of hearts. There are times that I’ve spoken to Him in an entitled way, as If my experiences and the “effort” I’ve put into following his doctrines entitled me to his blessings and attention. In reality, I should just be thankful that I even have His way to follow. That I can have aspirations to walk and live as Christ did, striving to be Christ-like as the name “Christian” signifies. His ways are not burdensome, but exactly the opposite.

Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5: 3

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:30

Despite knowing all of this I’m still not humble. It’s a thing of the flesh, to desire acknowledgement for what you are supposed to do anyway. It’s not surprising that one of my love languages is “words of affirmation.” Even when I’ve done a good deed that I originally meant to be anonymous, I can’t help dropping hints or at least telling one person how good of a person I am. See, see I’m so good I did it anonymously. Cant have everyone knowing how caring I am… *smirk* Another word for this is PRIDE. To be proud of your deeds, lifestyle, ambitions, status, and more is a great way to tell God ” look at all I’ve achieved, on my own… without you.” We may not think we’re telling God that, but when we’re not humble but prideful we’re doing just that. You see if you won an award but actually won it mostly through the help and grace of someone help, you would be humble about it. You wouldn’t shout to the rooftop “YES I DID IT!,” but in humility you would be thankful for the help you received that got you there. That’s how we should be with everything we’re blessed with in life, because they are all blessings from God. We didn’t get them on our own, so why should we boast as if we did. Easier said than done right?  I know my weakness in this and that’s the first step to fixing any issue. Acknowledging your weaknesses is also a form of humility. So one by one, I’m praying that God reveals all of mine to me. This way I can perfect myself for his use.

Woman with the Issue of blood, Jesus Christ, Savior, Faith, praise and worship, notsoskinnydreams

Women of Blood

A couple of days ago, I attended a service of ordination, of a fellow church member. It was held in a place very far from our own church and in a room with many people I did not know. There came a point where we, the audience, were to give our offerings. I sat with a few aunties from my own church. Upon hearing the call for offering, they smiled broadly as if they had been personally called to the front. I wondered at all the smiles and why they were bustling about as if in preparation for something. Then I saw the flags come out. Large, brightly colored and decorated flags were thrown in the air by these excited older women. Then one was thrust in my own hand. The flag trailed orange, yellow and red colors as if it would catch on fire at any moment. I hesitated at first then grasped it firmly, myself grinning from ear to ear. As the thrumming and rhythm of the choir and band’s music took up and shook the building, we shook along with it. I led the way to the front of the church waving my flame colored flag, aunties behind me jigging and singing along with the choir and waving high their flags.

In the not so distant past I would have been too embarrassed to join in. I would’ve smiled demurely at the expectant aunties and shook my ahead, staying firmly rooted to my seat. That was before I realized what God had taken me through. You know when you die to your flesh because God demands it of you to be all His. That moment when I gave up what I’d thought the world could offer me and gave myself to Jesus Christ, because I had nothing else to live for but him. Instead of living because life was worth living, I lived because he was worth living for. It took an extremely tough time in my life that broke me, to decide between life and death. I chose death, death to the world so I could have ever lasting life through Jesus Christ. I’d seen what the world was capable off and it was Ugly. God saw my brokenness and made a new shell for me to fill.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

What I understood that day as I waved my flag high, as high as my arm could reach, was that, that death and resurrection connected me to these women. My church aunties who danced and sang, praising the lord, as if nothing else mattered. In their movements you could see a similar pattern of old pain healed and joy in a savior that had heard their cry. We were women like Hagar who at one point were struggling on our own, crying to ourselves, and seeking help or death when He heard us, saw us (Gen 16: 7-14). Or like the woman with issue of blood who had nothing else to lose but to believe that one touch from Him, even just his garment would give us a new life (Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48). That shared knowledge that Jesus Christ was the only reason we were alive today, made us the same despite our differences in age, tribe, and character. As our motley crew swayed, stomped and waved our flags around the room, we gave no care to the room full of gawkers we did not know, nor to how we must seem. All we knew was our audience was not in the rows of strangers, but in a higher seat we could not see with our eyes.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18

grief, early stages, notsoskinnydreams, christianity, dealing with grief

Grief

My friend died yesterday.

This is the first time someone this close to me has passed. I discovered that doubts, worries, and fear are not the only things that can mess up your frequency with the Holy Spirit. Grief will as well. Its like having cotton balls stuffed in every orifice so you feel suffocated by grief. Even your eyes become sore and tired. You go to sleep (if you can sleep) to grief and wake-up to it waiting there to remind you. She’s dead.

I googled “handling grief.” Google highlighted:

  1. Face your feelings. …
  2. Express your feelings in a tangible or creative way. …
  3. Look after your physical health. …
  4. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. …
  5. Plan ahead for grief “triggers.”

Number one has been especially difficult. Number two is what I am doing right now. The rest… I will figure out. I almost did not make a post today. However I know once you get off the wagon it’s hard to get back on. Writing is therapeutic for me. So bear with me if this post is not that clear nor insightful.

Of all the things that can block you from God, grief feels like the most powerful. Its not a feeling of losing faith. Its more like when you get physically hurt and the pain overshadows everything else. I tried to pray yesterday and my prayers stuck in my throat. I couldn’t even think what to say. I just wanted to wallow and praying required being hopeful. Maybe that’s not the right way to say it. It required more energy than I had or was able to direct mentally. Yes, shame on me. After failing, I got up and went to where my family was praying so I could be enveloped by prayers, even as a third party.

This morning did not bring new energy or self-motivation. However God is ever faithful. Today’s verse of the day on my bible app, I felt was especially for me.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 (NLT)

The first time I read it, I was on auto pilot and didn’t really let it sink in. However, I would come back to it through-out the day. By the third time of reading it, I could finally smile a little. I closed my eyes and said, inside me, God I just need a little time. A little time to be selfish and wallow, to grieve and not think everything is sunshine, just a little time to dig out of what I was feeling. I gave myself a day to be internal. I didn’t make it therapeutic. I didn’t focus on how I felt nor did I try to dig up memories. That is going to be a longer process that wont just be “a little time.” However I was able to shut out most of the outside noise. Now the day is almost up and there is no extension. It’s for the best. Tomorrow morning, I lead bible study. A God-send really. You cant be in a position like that and wallow, nor be selfish. It requires you opening up to God in a selfless way to be used and to minister his word. As you minister you cannot help but be healed and touched as well. Thats a wonderful benefit of being involved in ministry/the church it makes it really difficult to avoid God. Your involvement will have you touched by Him on a regular basis. During this time, I need that more than ever.

Blocked

Today I felt blocked. Instead of working, I distracted myself with temporal things to keep my mind off focusing on anything serious. When I feel blocked, whether it’s spiritually, creatively, or any other way, I tend to lack focus. What I’ve been doing lately to help when this happens is that I do mini fasts. Short fasts that start in the morning and last till whenever my spirit feels ready to commune with God. Today I was ready by noon and I felt drawn to Isaiah 6:3-8.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
The whole earth is filled with his glory!”

Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke. Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
Isaiah 6:3-8

I’m in a season of preparing my vessel for God’s purpose. Seeing this passage on my iPad, without me seeking for it, was a message for me. I decided to pray for God to cleanse me. To touch my lips with the burning coal that all my guilt should be gone and sins forgiven. A vessel must be cleansed before use. When I have these blockages I know that I need to seek His face so he can melt them away. In the process of seeking Him I gain clarity and peace. I also realized that like Daniel, that the enemy can delay our answers/blessings (Dan 10:13). As I spoke to God about how I was feeling and that I wanted him to guide me and use me completely, It came to my heart to also pray against the enemy blocking my path. The enemy is all around us, It is only by God’s might that we are able to defeat all principalities. However, to be strong in the spiritual gifts that are able to fight off the enemy we must be spiritually and physically prepared. So today I shout out like Isaiah did:

“It’s all over without you God, I am a sinful woman. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I KNOW you the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies and I seek your face wholeheartedly that I may find you. Here I am! Use me!”

In the Potter's Hands at notsoskinnydreams.com for spiritual guidance

In the Potter’s Hands

My previous post “Just Do It” sparked some interesting conversations between my pastors and myself. I received so much more insight as a result. The first part of the insight was FEAR. How debilitating it can be to our faith and to fulfilling the will of God in our lives. I was given yesterday’s daily bread to peruse over ( link)

My favorite line was:

In the light of God’s love and grace and truth, we can find courage, help, and strength to live for Him.

He gave us the Light of the World in Jesus Christ that dispels all darkness. For I equate my doubts and fears with that darkness. When I feel reassured by God’s promises and His word, they are dispelled. How does this tie in with “Just Do It”? Well To fulfill #1 and go in faith as Abraham did to follow the will of God we must defeat fear. How do we defeat it? By holding on to the promises God has given us. Holding steadfast to the knowledge that he is our ultimate provider and would not send us out on a task without preparing the way.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)

Another insight I received was IMPATIENCE. That in seeking how to answer God’s call we can get off track by trying to do things our way. Instead of checking with him to show us the way to go to Madagascar, we plot our own way to fulfill his call to go. A good example that was given to me was of King David. He had good intent in taking the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem but his first attempt resulted in disaster (2 Sam 6:1-10). What King David had failed to do was to seek God in how to do what needed to be done. If he had he would’ve quickly discovered that God had already stated how the ark of the covenant was supposed to be carried (Exodus 25:12-14; Numbers 4:15; Numbers 7:9). His impatience and lack of seeking God’s guidance in fulfilling this task resulted in a death. If you want to read more about this, here’s a nice article to get you started: ecclesia.org.

What I took from all of this was that even when we know without a doubt that God gave us a command, hearing from him does not end there. The process in accomplishing his command still requires hearing from him every step of the way. Even if it seems tedious waiting to hear what we should do next, it can be disastrous if we don’t. Something that should have been done in one go now takes years because of our haste and our lack of insight. Another thing we must ask is when. God may give you a command today that is supposed to be enacted weeks, months, or even years later. Being sensitive to His will is the only way we can discern the right timing.

A third insight I received was that in the pursuit of fulfilling God’s command / will in our lives we can fall prey to many set-backs. Or at least what seems like set-backs to us. However these can actually be molding experiences preparing us for the task ahead. A popular phrase is “in the potter’s hands” where we the children of God are equated with clay that God can mold into any shape necessary for his glory. My pastor gave me this link to help me understand the whole process better. My favorite part of the article is:

God has to take us into the valley and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the point where He can trust us with the reality of the vision. Ever since God gave us the vision, He has been at work. He is getting us into the shape of the goal He has for us, and yet over and over again we try to escape from the Sculptor’s hand in an effort to batter ourselves into the shape of our own goal.

I completely relate to what this says. In my own effort to fulfill God’s calling I have tried so many ways that weren’t his ways. Every attempt I made resulted in what I considered huge set-backs. After years of trying I felt really battered. I’d actually given up trying several times. The last time just passed recently. However, His call is persistent. Even when we want to put it down He wont allow us. Even when people think we are crazy.

But don’t lose heart in the process. If you have ever had a vision from God, you may try as you will to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never allow it.
(utmost.org)

I thank God for the counselors he has put in my life. They have really given me a better perspective on my journey to be obedient to God in fulfilling His command to me. Now I know that as battered as I may feel about trying again, that all of it was for my good. I KNOW I am a better person today than I was in the past. I am stronger, more patient, more receptive, more loving, closer to God, and just so much more than I was. My potter is still molding me and I am allowing him to spin me freely in to the shape he desires.

(another resource that helped me was this video by Heather Lindsey)