Faith

Articles to encourage you to keep the faith and grow in it!

 

”So, what are you afraid of?” asks your teacher, as you sit there with your mind twirling up with past horrors you’ve encountered, head in your fragile innocent hands with your legs crossed in that lotus position on the carpet … “bugs” “creepy crawlies” “spiders” and “monsters”! … sounds familiar, right? Well probably when you were a kid !

Face it. Fear has become a part of our lives since we could remember the first time we encountered a big animal or dared to go on our first overwhelming rollercoaster. It is part of our psychological makeup and allows us to develop skills of self-awareness by telling us what we know about endangering ourselves, but most of all keeping ourselves safe. But this topic of overcoming fear is one I have a passion on speaking about and over time have developed ways that I personally combat this thing that could possibly become a clasp over you, stopping you from achieving a dream, goal or vision!

Take me for instance, a student with 10% thought about social life, let’s say another 5% about food (I might be lying about that ha!) and the other 85% of my thought on exams, A-levels, deadlines, Uni, and possibly about how I’m going to be drained for the next couple of months really! I would really be laughing if I didn’t know anyone else in my position who generally doesn’t fear for their lives about this portion of their life right now. I mean who wouldn’t? But it’s dealing with the fear that is the solution to all the problems and what matters most is that in the end you are in a contended state of happiness.

Quick story – So it comes around October times when the word UCAS finally starts to echo out of the mouths of thousands of teachers at school. Yep, it was a word that was becoming very familiar for me during last year and was also possibly the thing that made my 2016 a year of absolute fear.

I was really stuck on what to pick to study at Uni. Honestly for months I pondered and I wondered desperately asking for help about what I could do at Uni as it literally defines your life from then on after you graduate. I asked person after person and so on and literally dragged my Dad to all the university open days possible, just for information to clear my head about what I could do. The decision-making really wasn’t the most deafening part for me, it was what this fear was doing to me physically. From this experience I’ve learnt that I don’t really handle worry well – at all. I’m the type of person that when I worry, I worry real hard ! I don’t eat, I fidget, I cry and don’t even mention sleep to me when I’m in a state of worry – What is that ?

It’s like I’m in a constant state of panic whilst the ticking hands of the clock keep my eyes blaring at the ceiling every night, just me constantly being in fear of making the wrong decision. It was truly horrible..

So how did I overcome this fear? Well, I saw it as a battle within myself and how I controlled my emotions. To overcome a thing means to defeat, succeed in battling against or to simply overpower in this case an unpleasant emotion that may be causing you danger or harm: Fear.

I realised that to win this battle, I had to defeat my own emotions. I literally saw it as a war against myself. I guess who really got me through was Christ. Even though I am a Christian, my mother had to actually remind me to read the Bible and seek God’s word – it’s like your so torn up with all this worry and doubt that you actually forget that you have someone to depend on besides physical beings.

Practically, in a war there is an army, right? For me, God was my army fighting this fear that was ruining my days. The verse Isaiah 41:10 tells us that God is with us in every way and that we shouldn’t be dismayed. As well as this, God strengthens us along the way. Constantly having fear allows us to worry, which damages our health and ability to carry out our daily routines. But the fact that God strengthens us throughout this fear really added positivity to my days when all I could think about was that choice I had to make. God really does fight our battles and hardships for you. I guess the hard part is putting your faith and trust in God in the midst of fear. Prayer is a massive help as God urges us to cast all our worries or anxieties on him.

 

Additional things such as speaking to close friends or family about whatever it is causing you fear. Once you have done this and it still is crippling, it is not a bad thing to seek professional help.

I specifically chose the picture above for a reason. Look at the birds in the picture, they just fly without necessarily knowing where they are going. They just spread and let the wind soar them to their next destination. Having the mindset like that would get you out of any fear such as the situation of mine.

Let go and let God!

Just simply allowing life to flow and putting your ultimate trust in the Lord will carry you through life after all you never know where you will end up.

And I end on this. Fear is just a force that stops you from taking that big jump, that big leap and that big step into what you actually want to do. It may take time to release your fear of exams or maybe fear of the future. I myself had to overcome the fear of blogging and not being successful but here I am today. I would have never been here if I didn’t overcome. Hope you were inspired!

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you

A question peer pressure makes us choose between!

If Christians were to vote on whom they will serve for the rest their lives, which stand do you anticipate will have the most votes?

Stand A: I choose to serve the Lord God Almighty in return for the amputation of my arms and legs no matter how difficult life may become.

Stand B: I choose to serve the gods of this land in return for a monthly allowance of £10m, free NHS care for my entire family, free education at university, 5 bundles of 24’’ human hair each month, video games every Christmas, the latest car and phone that is in vogue each year and a one-week return ticket to any holiday destination of my choice.

Best believe that the incentives and pleasures the world offers are well pleasing to the eyes, too captivating to neglect. It is shocking to know that a large number of Christians would opt for Stand B in their regular day to day lives due to influence from peers and circumstances.

It is quite surprising how we compromise our Christian faith for worldly pleasures that are fleeting.

1 John 2.15-17 makes it clear, “not to love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world you do not love the father. Everything that belongs to the world; what the sinful self-desires, what people see and want…none of this comes from the father; it all comes from the world. The world and everything is passing away; but those who do the will of God live for ever”.

The story of Daniel can be related to the aforementioned Bible text. To clarify, Daniel, Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego refused to adhere to the decree issued by King Nebuchadnezzar, that is, to bow down to the gods or worship the golden image (Daniel 3:16-18). Thus, this portrayed their firm, unshakeable faith in the Lord despite how perilous their decision seemed to be. Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego were unperturbed to burn in the flaming fire for God. They did all they could not to compromise their faith to worship a powerless god. How many of us would have taken that bold step to stand for our faith?

Yes, the materialistic things and activities of the world are alluring yet temporary and that is the reason why the Lord gives us an eternal promise that His word will remain forever. It is either you make a choice to be of this world or serve the Lord. Realistically, it is impossible to have your cake and eat it too. I cannot stress enough God’s disapproval of Christians living a double lifestyle as we see in Revelations 3:16. In as much as we live in this world, we are not supposed to be of this world.

Most Christians have the notion that non-believers are more likely to be the victims of peer pressure. Let us bear in mind that as followers of Christ, our faith will be tested in many ways. The story of Job in the bible, is a typical example of our faith at test. Although, Job was a faithful servant of God, the Lord granted the devil assent in testing him. As a result he encountered major calamities in his life. However, Job stood his ground and affirmed that he would trust in the Lord at all times. How many of us would have question our faith at the point, after loosing your family and business etc. Some of us question God if we miss our bus!

The Good news is, Job’s faith was anchored in the Lord ,which caused him to stand firm through the raging storm he encountered. He proved to be a faithful servant of God and did not succumb to the negative influence from those around him.

The devil knows his time is running out; so the influence from our peers and surroundings is dramatically increased! Haven’t you noticed?

Growing up in a Christian home, I was never granted the chance to experience the lifestyle of drinking, clubbing, etc. I always thought my parents were being too harsh and over-protective. Looking back now, I am grateful to the Lord for how he used my parents in raising me because it has been of much benefit ever since I moved to university.

Peer pressure is quite predominant among Christians, especially Christian students in university. Speaking from an experience, we are exposed to friends from different religious backgrounds and from all walks of life, who have an impact on our lives one way or the other.

I personally did not want people to identify me as ‘a church girl’! So, I decided that I was going to try and fit in during fresher’s week. The thought of being prisoned in my room as my mates experienced the life of being a fresher was unbearable. So I joined the crowd…

I was conscious of my promise to the Lord; not to be promiscuous when I came to Uni. However, the pressure of being accepted and trying to convince others that I could have fun in the world regardless of being a church girl was demanding. ‘God will forgive me”, that was my go-to excuse I came up with in order to supress my guilt whenever I went for a night out.

Months later, I realised the futility of living a DOUBLE LIFE. To clarify, clubbing on Saturday nights meant that you were not going to find me attending church the next day, which in the long run caused a drift in my relationship with God.

However, I soon learnt that it is rewarding to be strong in the faith. Being a Christian is traditionally believed to be ‘boring and strict’ but trust me it is exciting once your cross over from religion to relationship. This is when peer pressure begins to have less effect on you. I urge you not give room for unbelievers to lure you into having more interest for things of this world. Remember, bad company corrupts good habits! (1 Corinthians 15:33). What this world offers cannot be compared to the treasures of Heaven.

I want to encourage you that it is okay to be yourself! Not partaking in a lifestyle that you do not agree with does not make you any less of a person. Remember, your approval is not from man but God. (Galatians 1:10)

Do not lose your soul for the world. Be a light and do not allow darkness to overshadow you.

Tell me about your experiences of overcoming peer pressure in the comment section below!

Thanks for reading!


I’m a firm believer that women aren’t to be objectified or dominated and are entitled to basic rights such as education, voting, equal pay and so on. However, I have come to understand that Feminists around the world have varying goals and intentions and for that reason, it is important, well at least for the Christian woman, to identify when Feminism goes too far..

feminism
fɛmɪnɪz(ə)m/
noun
the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.

 

It is said there are 3 waves of feminism;

FIRST: Overturning legal inequalities e.g. voting rights

 

SECOND: Overturning cultural inequalities e.g. women’s role in society

THIRD: Focuses more on the individual identity – it seems this wave is where women have defined feminism for themselves by incorporating their own identities into what feminism is to them. Now this is where it starts to lose sight of things in my opinion, because every woman is different, you can’t incorporate various identities into something that is supposed to promote equality…

The third wave faced backlash with people labelling themselves as ‘PostFeminists’ as many believed that Feminism had lived past its true goals and that the new generation were not actually adding anything of substance. We have all witnessed an increase of sexualised behaviour in our society. In fact, we are at the height of it! Even back then it was debated whether skimpy clothing, pole dancing, stiletto heels actually represent gender quality… Far from it in my opinion.

Feminism is a creature with many faces these days. – EverydayFeminism.com

I mean, did you know there is such a thing as a Slut Shaming?!? Like, seriously!? This is supposedly a feminist movement..

 

“Slut-shaming is the experience of being labelled a sexually out-of-control girl or woman (a “slut” or “hoe”) and then being punished socially for possessing this identity.” – Huffington Post 

While I believe that no-one should be condemned, I definitely disagree that promiscuity or being sexually provocative is something that should not be glorified in any way shape or form. Christian or not! Apparently, slut-shaming is considered sexist, because men are congratulated for slutty behaviour … SO WHAT? Just because a man can do it without being judged does not make it right.. so why are women fighting  for this please? I have even come across clothes and hats with words degrading words slapped across them and apparently this is empowerment?

We have seen people like Kim Kardashian release naked selfies to the world and defend herself to critics as being proud and comfortable in her body, liberated and empowered. But did the whole world need to see that much body to get such a message across? I honestly think it’s a tactic of the enemy to make us think we are being wronged and this is the outcome. Women are now objectifying themselves. We only need to watch a few music videos or read lyrics by some female artists to see that women are allowing them selves to be portrayed as sex objects.

Our faith promotes sexual purity. This is more than abstaining from sex but a mind-set coupled with how we carry ourselves. This goes to BOTH WOMEN AND MEN.

I think you can start to see why Feminism has gone to far..

Traditionally, some think that faith suppresses women rights. While I can’t speak for other faiths, I can say that the Christian faith does not do this.

“The traditions themselves are not oppressive. It’s the interpretations that are.”  Gina Messina-Dysert 

God created man and woman very much equal, however, what some fail to appreciate is that we are DIFFERENT from our male counterparts. This difference means that our life experiences will also be different; this does not mean women are any less important.

“The word feminism has become synonymous with man-hating when in fact it has more to do with women than men.” – Aysha Taryam

My mentor once told me that if a steering wheel of a car could speak and said that it wants to be a tyre and you made the swap, you would see how the car would fail to function as it was created to. In fact, it would be quite dangerous. Both the steering wheel and tyres are both very necessary for the function of the car but both need to play their role for the car to achieve its purpose.

We may have different functions but we are equally important. The enemy wants a disastrous car crash and so places seeds of doubt and lies into the minds of men and women who then abuse their positions. We should really be celebrating our differences.

One of the most misconceived principles of Christianity is that a wife submitting to her husband means that the woman is the weaker, inferior person in the relationship. Even I believed that it meant the wife has no say and is like a slave to the man. While this is actually reality for some, it is not how God intended it. That interpretation is oppressive and not in the nature of our God. Submission is actually voluntary and not forced. I’ll do another blog post going into much more detail about that.

 

 

We totally underestimate the beauty of everyone playing their part and how it would actually benefit both parties.

“It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals. We should stop defining what we are not and start defining ourselves by who we are.” – Emma Watson

What are your thoughts on Feminism? Tell is in the comments section below!

Mary xo

‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth’

Genesis 1:1

Isn’t it beautiful that the Holy Bible begins with us reverencing God as creator? He could have been revered as Abba, Deliverer and many other great names however instead He choose creator. Why? Why would such a great and unexplainable God desire to be known as creator to His people, His children first?

Creativity first hand reflects His glory, His effortless ways of painting the world in beauty. Think about it. The beautiful array of stars you see as you gaze upon the nights’ sky, the way the sun kisses the ocean during its stormiest of waves. God himself is a creative and pours himself out through creativity.

‘The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiworks’

Psalm 19:1

Though God is a creator we also know Him as King, or what people commonly express ‘the King of Kings’. Every King demands their honour but only ONE is deserving of that honour and that is King Jesus. Honour is regarding something or someone in high respect or to physically show your value for something or someone through your actions.

In all things, the Lord requires us to honour Him and submit to Him as described in Colossians 3:17. We are to do all whether in action or in deed in glory of God. Therefore, everything we do is for the glory of God. To bury a gift that the Lord has given you rather than using it to glorify Him is wickedness (Matthew 25:14-30).

So now when it comes to honouring God, Business is an amazing stream for us to do this as it allows us to physically give back unto God by sowing into His Kingdom. Though businesses can be for either profit or non-profit our motives behind these businesses are what remains important.

God is the HEAD of your business

God is not only the master of all creativity but He is also a God of wisdom that understands the dynamics of business. This means that it is an obligation of yours to honour Him through the streams of creativity he has blessed you with. When you begin to see the Lord as the CEO of your business as Tiphany Montgomery would say, He will begin to teach you on how to use your creativity effectively for His glory.

Cultivate your gifts

To cultivate is to nurture and perfect the gifts that He has given unto you. Your creativity is a gift that God has given you and with each gift comes a responsibility to use it for His glory. It is one thing to be a creative and it is another to master your craft. In business cultivating your creative gifts not only give your business an edge but it allows the Lord to freely manifest Himself through your business. It’s important to keep presenting your gift to God and making Him the centre of your business and watch Him multiply your creative streak! Remember He is a God of excellence, He desires for us to reflect his excellence in all things. He requires for us to perfect our craft or our skills in Him.

Honour is important to God because his son died for it. The bible speaks about Jesus dying but as he rose again he gave gifts onto men. For someone to choose not to cultivate their gift and not invest in it to produce something for the glory of God is indeed dishonour and rebellion. A talent that is buried is useless but a skill that is utilized displays the glory of God who gives to all those special abilities, talents and creative skills.

1 Timothy 4:14-15 tells us that a gift can be neglected if not immersed into it completely. What use is a gift if it cannot testify to others about the glory of God?

Ecclesiastes 9:10-11 explains that whatever we find our hands to do we should do well.

Using your creativity within your business is to express yourself or express the message of the gospel through the stream that God has appointed you. If at least one person’s life is changed or heart is touched through your business then your profit is made! As Jesus said the harvest is ready but the labourers are few which is why I choose to be a labourer of love for his kingdom through using something so universal as creativity to honour God. That does not mean that your business has no be non-profit because we all know that we do need money in the kingdom. The difference with our businesses is that our drive and our goal is not money but the work of God through us to transform the lives of other people. Money is a resource.

Here are 9 ways to PRACTICALLY honour God in your business;

  1. Change your perspective! Desire to see all things through the lens of Jesus Christ.
  2. Connect with those that share your vision and can therefore push it to where God intends it to be with you.
  3. Write down the goals for your business!
  4. Have regular ‘business meetings’ with God in his presence. Many times what we think is a ‘God idea’ is just a ‘good idea’ not that there is anything wrong with the idea but allow the Holy Spirit to examine it.
  5. Be Holy. Be the example you want to see. I’m sure your business is there to either impact or change the world in a sense. Be the standard that Christ desires to see through your business!
  6. Watch your mouth. Your mouth has power. Do not allow your mouth to be a hindrance to where God wants to take your business.
  7. Do not be afraid of change but follow the Holy Spirit as He leads you.
  8. Have FAITH! I’m 100% certain that this vision is way bigger than you but nothing in this world can ever be as BIG as GOD.
  9. REST! Allow God to do what He wants to do with you not getting in the way.


 

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Let’s focus on the instruction not to harden our hearts in this chapter.

Context

Hebrews 3:7-11 is a quote from Psalm 95:8-11. It was directed to the Israelites who were being led by Moses through the wildness to the promise land after being saved from Egypt. While in the wilderness they were beginning to harden their hearts towards God as the journey became tough, unbelief grew and they wanted to go back to Egypt.

The Israelites represent me and you. Egypt symbolises the world we have been saved from. The wilderness is the journey to wholeness. There will be tests & trials and times where it feels like God isn’t in control anymore but He is. This is where it becomes easy to harden our hearts and start to doubt Him and His promise to us.

What exactly does it mean to harden your heart?

When your heart is hard it means it is resistant, impenetrable, unyielding and unmalleable.

If our hearts are resistant how can we obey what God is telling us to do. God is always laying things on our hearts. He may be tugging on your heart as a warning to get out of a situation or lay on your heart an instruction to pray for someone. If our hearts are hardened we will resist these things that God wants us to do. A hardened heart will not yield to the Holy Spirit. Remember the bible says that those who are sons of God are LED by the Spirit, so can a heart heart really be led? If left long enough, we would have resisted the voice of the Spirit for so long that we can’t even hear Him anymore which is a scary place to be because we would begin to lack conviction for our wrongdoing which means we would feel no need to repent!

If our hearts are impenetrable how can God dwell there? We wouldn’t let Him in !!! This is where God wants to be, in your heart, right at the centre of all that you do. Here is a questions for you, do you really believe that without God, we are nothing? We NEED Him in our hearts to guide and direct us. Also, if nothing can get in, nothing can probably get out. All the hurt and pain we might have in our hearts stays locked in there. When we build walls, the only person we imprison is ourselves! The bible says the heart is the wellspring of life, so break down those walls, let all the hurt out and allow God to penetrate your heart with love and life.

If our hearts are unmalleable, they are difficult to mould and change. God has started a work in us and He has promised to complete and perfect it. But He won’t if you do not allow Him. If we remained the same people we were before salvation, then what was the point. What was we saved from and what happened to the work God started? We need to allow him to mould us into the people he planned for us to be. His plan is so much greater than our own because He can see the bigger picture of our lives. He knows what is best for us. This reminds me of a skit called “Gods Chisel”. Please please please watch it (link below) because it explains this point so perfectly and is quite interesting.

Change is hard because we so badly want to hold on to what we know (i.e going back to Egypt). It can also hurt because it forces us to deal with sensitive areas. But it is necessary. It might feel like an attack and you might think you will be broken. Broken. That is where He wants us, so He can build us back up into what He intended before the fall of man. We all become new creatures in Christ. There is nothing too bad or too big for God.

So as you can see having a hardened heart is dangerous ! It is something that can take us right out of the will of God for our life.

How can we soften our hearts?

  • Think about what caused you to harden your heart. Did someone hurt you? Are you going through a tough time? Are you scared? Be honest with yourself and deal with that root. You might need to forgive someone or exercise patience or remind yourself that God loves you and has a plan and future for you. Whatever it is, cut that root and fix your eyes on Jesus.
  • Pray. Ask God to swap your heart of stone for a heart of flesh. Not flesh in the carnal manner of course, but flesh so that you can feel and be sensitive to the Spirit again. Ask for that union between you and God to be restored, invite Him back into your heart.
  • Study the word. The word is a double edged sword cutting between soul and spirit and able to discern the thoughts and intents of our hearts. Hebrews 4 tells us this. The word is like a mirror, it tells us what we should actually look like and we realise that we don’t match up. It helps us to discern between godly and ungodly. Be obedient to the word. You will find it hard to hold on to a hardened heart.
  • Like we saw in Gods Chisel, don’t stop God from working you. You are His masterpiece, allow Him to complete the work. As He searches you and begins to dig things out, let Him. If it is not from Him, it should not be in you.
    “Search me O God, and know my heart…see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23)

Thanks for reading!

Mary xo

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