© Excel Church 2019. Charity Number 1172868
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Our leader’s blog is usually written by Dr Ada Adeghe, a member of our Church Council. Ada is a regular speaker at Excel Church. She is originally from Nigeria and has lived in Wolverhampton for 20 Years. She has been married to Jude for 32 years and together they have three grown up children. Ada is a Professional Educator and Mentor. Ada’s desire is to see all God’s children appropriate His promises for themselves, thereby living lives of unlimited possibilities.
A new blog is usually posted at the start of each month.
Jesus took his disciples to one side in the book of John, chapter 15, verse 5 and prepared them for his departure, saying: ‘I am the vine; and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.’ He stressed to them that apart from the vine, not only can the branches do nothing, they are nothing.
This is how ineffective our lives become when we profess to be Christians and yet try to live our lives outside of the greatest source of our strength and power – our Lord, Jesus Christ. If you are ‘doer’ like me, it takes wisdom and the grace of God to accept that at times, our human wisdom is foolishness in the sight of an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient God. God owns all, He sees all, He knows the end from the beginning. He is not just your creator but the creator of all things, known and unknown!
But guess what? He is also your Father and He desires that you stay connected to Him, so you can bear much fruit, and fruit that lasts! When we forget that, we end up trying to solve our problems our own way, with little regard for His wisdom; we try to promote ourselves through our own clever devices; we try to get even and believe it is our place to punish those who have wronged us.
But once we accept that our blessings, our power and our successes are the results of our connection to the Vine, we desire to remain even more connected, through spending time in prayer, meditating on the truth of bible and staying in close fellowship with other believers. So, be wise and remain connected!
Live in ‘day tight compartments’.
No one can give sufficient thought to what is happening around us in the world today and not cave in to worry and anxiety. Even our own little ‘worlds’ of family, work, church or neighbourhood, can become great sources of anxiety when things don’t run as smoothly as we hope.
As children of the Most High God, we need to become intentional in using the ‘weapons’ that the bible provides us to fight worry. The future is a big source of anxiety for many people. But while we may not know what the future holds for us, we must trust that we are held by the One who holds the future. His name is Jesus, and He is to be trusted. This truth is sufficient for any child of God.
The philosopher Thomas Carlyle is often quoted to say that: Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly ahead” This is no different from what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 6 verse 34: ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’
A medical student named Sir William Osler who back in 1871 was on the brink of a nervous breakdown from stress and anxiety, caused by the worry of him not passing his exams, not only conquered his anxieties but excelled beyond his own imagination by doing what he called ‘living in day tight compartments’. This means we focus mainly on what we have to do today and not waste our emotions and mental energy on worrying about the future.
Only God knows the future and because he is a loving God, we can trust our future to him. I trust you will make this a daily practice going forward, because the best way to prepare for the future is to focus all your energy doing the very best that you can today. This is one of the best cures for worry. Tomorrow will take care of itself!
Focus on the Blessings!
I made an interesting observation at the start of our last Sunday morning church service, when the Pastor asked all the children who were about to start a new year at school, to come forward to be prayed for. Having had my own (now adult) children grow up at Excel church, I know how seriously we take the practice of praying for our children’s success at school.
The Pastor then asked all those who were looking forward to starting the new school year to raise their hands. Less than one third of the children put their hands up! I thought that was interesting. The majority did not want to return to school and would prefer the summer holidays to continue. I believe a poll of teachers would have yielded a similar result. I should know. I am one!
I thought about the children again and wondered why schooling -
The truth is that the flesh rebels against discipline or ‘hardship’ of any kind.
One of the most important jobs of parents and carers of young people is to teach
them this truth, so they can begin to re-
Hebrews 12 verse 7 challenges us to: ‘Endure hardship as discipline’, because God is treating us as his children.
Later on in that passage (verse 11), we are told that: ‘No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.’
Let us determine in our hearts to support all children and young people in our care to see the blessings and opportunities, rather than the ‘pain’ and ‘hardship’ of discipline. Blessings and Discipline go together!
Keep The Weeds Out
Have you noticed that weeds don’t need much incentive to grow? If you have a nice garden, all you have to do is nothing and as surely as night follows the day, weeds will start to grow. However, beautiful flowers just don’t grow. You have to plant them on purpose and tend the garden or your lovely flowers will simply die.
It is like that with habits. Bad habits are like weeds. We quite often don’t have to work hard at them. When my kids were toddlers, I never taught them to lie. If one of them did something wrong and thought they would get into trouble, the lies just came ‘naturally’. They looked around for who wasn’t in the room at the time and blamed that person! And this child is not even three years old!!
Lying, slothfulness, procrastination, gossip, gluttony, drunkenness, spending valuable time on social media, all those things do not take a lot of effort. We just ‘slide’ into them and if we are not careful, they become entrenched habits and our habits become who we are. The bible warns against ‘the little foxes that ruin the vineyards’ (Song of Songs, chapter 2, verse 15).
Good habits on the other hand, quite often demand discipline and commitment. Good habits are not always ‘pleasurable’ in the short term. But as the saying goes: You either suffer the pain of discipline or you end up with the pain of regret. Discipline weighs an ounce but regret weighs a ton.
It takes discipline to:
Shut up when you are tempted to slander someone who has hurt you.
Get out from under your duvet on a cold morning and exercise when all you want to do is snuggle under for another 40 minutes.
Do your homework instead of watching another rubbish programme on television.
Have a good attitude and be patient with your kids when all you want to do is scream at them.
Walk past that lovely handbag because you have committed to save money for the future (Hurts me to write this one!)
Commit dedicated time to study the word of God so you can grow in spiritual wisdom.
The list is endless, but the apostle Paul said in I Corinthians chapter 10, verse 23:
‘Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial; Everything is permissible but not everything is constructive’.
When we allow the weeds of bad habits grow in our lives, regret is inevitable. However, when we work hard to do those things that are beneficial and constructive, we never have to suffer the pain of regret. Remember, it weighs a ton!
Stay in Unity
At this start of this month, we had our annual weekend away as a Church. It was an opportunity to strengthen our faith and just spend time having fun together. It is always great to spend time in fellowship with brothers and sisters in a way you never get a chance to do on a normal Sunday church service.
As Christians, It is vitally important that we work very hard to maintain a strong and personal relationship with God through our own personal prayer times, individual worship and study of the word of God. Indeed, God is a ‘Personal’ God. But there is also a strong place for the church spending time together as one united body for Christ. The bible stresses the importance of this in many ways. Here are just three of them:
1. Psalm 133 verse 1 says: ‘How good and pleasant it is when brothers (and sisters) live together in unity.’ Verse 3 tells us that God bestows His blessing when this happens. Note that the bible does not say, ‘a blessing’. It says ‘His blessing’. If you want some blessing, best to go for one that God gives, because He only gives the best!
2. Ecclesiastes chapter 4 verse 12 says: ‘Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken’. This verse speaks of the strength and power that comes when we maintain a united front against the challenges that come against us as individuals, as families and as a church. The enemy is bound for defeat against a formidable and united front. If a cord of three stands is not easily broken, think of the strength of a cord of multiple strands!
3. Deuteronomy chapter 32, verse 30 says: ‘How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the Lord had given them up?’ The mathematics does not add up, does it? If one chases one thousand, surely, two will chase two thousand. That is human wisdom and logic. But the power of God surpasses that of any mathematical genius. He is a supernatural God, not bound by time, space or natural logic. And he has handed that power over to us who believe. How exciting is that?? You may be mighty in prayer alone, but you can be mightier when others join you.
See you at the next church prayer meeting!
Our God never changes
Every year the Sunday Times magazine produces an annual guide to wealth in the United Kingdom – The Rich List. It is interesting to see how the wealth of rich British citizens fluctuate from one year to the other. Having plenty of money today does not guarantee you will be in the same position this time next year. It becomes clear immediately why the bible tells us not to set our eyes on riches because riches can be uncertain (I Timothy, 6:17). One of the Christian’s greatest source of stability in an uncertain world however is that we serve a God whose nature is not volatile like the financial markets. Our God never changes. This must be of great comfort to us all. Times change, people change, circumstances change, but our God is utterly dependable and stable. We can always rely on His love and faithfulness to us at all times. Our God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He speaks of His unchanging nature when he says ‘I am the Lord, I changeth not’ (Malachi 3 v 6). Psalm 102 v 27 also tells us: ‘But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.’
I leave you with the words of St Teresa of Avila, strong words of wisdom that we must all heed on a daily basis:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
Gratitude breeds Holiness
The week before Easter is most definitely a sacred time of the year as Christians all over the world commemorate and remember the last week of Jesus' life on this earth. We reflect on the transforming truth of Calvary and the magnitude of what Christ did for us by dying on the cross.
I believe however that this attitude of sober reflection should not be confined to just one week of the Christian calendar, nor should it be confined to the traditional 40 day Lenten period for that matter. Gratitude for what Christ did for us on the cross, should be an everyday attitude, one that is ingrained in every Christian. How can we not feel truly blessed and grateful when we reflect on the magnitude of being delivered from the grave consequences of our sinful nature? 2 Corinthians 5:21 says ‘God has made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’ Rather than face judgement, He declared us innocent and forgiven! And better news! Jesus will rise again. There will be a second coming, the bedrock of our blessed hope (Titus 2:13)
Additionally, it is great comfort to know that the same Christ who did not hesitate to die for us, will also not hesitate to meet the deepest yearnings of our individual hearts. After all, what can be a greater sacrifice than giving your life for another? Romans 9:32 puts it so profoundly:
‘He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?’
This too calls for an attitude of endless gratitude for the Cross. One ‘Holy week’ is not enough. Gratitude and appreciation of Jesus’ sacrifice for us must cause holiness to flow out from us daily as a way of life. With God’s help, we can live this way. Be blessed this Easter season
Saving the Best for Last
The book of John chapter 2 starts with the story of the wedding which took place
at Cana in Galilee. Jesus and his disciples were also invited, as was Jesus’ mother
who subsequently asked Him to step in when the host ran out of wine. In verses 7-
This should be of great comfort to us when it looks like we continue to experience delay in one form or the other. Maybe, just maybe, Jesus is saving the best for last in your life and when the time is right your miracle will show up. Whatever takes time to appear, quite often appears well!
James Chapter 1, verse 4 says: ‘Let patience complete its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’ Remember the woman with the issue of blood? She was desperate, having suffered terribly for 12 long years without respite. But when Jesus showed up, the time was ripe and her faith birthed her miracle in an instant!
The restoration of Ruth and Naomi (Book of Ruth) came late, but they too got the best. Jesus Christ came through that lineage. You don’t get better restoration than that!
Take heart if you are experiencing delay today. Remember, he/she who laughs last often laughs the best! Be blessed.
Delays are not Denials
Have you ever had to wait for the outcome of something you desire very much, like the outcome of a job interview? A good report from your doctor? The restoration of a much loved, but now damaged, relationship? An opportunity that you believe will change your life for the better? Many of us have had to endure seasons of delays, not knowing what the outcome of something we long for will be. We are tempted to feel frustrated and anxious because we have no control over the outcome of events.
A season like this got me thinking about the passage in Isaiah 40:31 that says: "But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."
I always saw this passage only in the context of prayer or ‘waiting on the Lord’. But this time, I saw the verse in the context of waiting patiently for the Lord to bring a much desired promise to pass in my life. We are told that hope deferred, makes the heart sick (Proverbs, 13:12), but when our hope is in the Lord, our hearts are not sick, but strengthened through our faith in His goodness and love for us. We learn how to wait well because we know that God’s thoughts towards us are good and that He sees the end from the beginning.
So, have you been waiting for a promise to come to pass in your life? Is the long delay causing you to worry and fret? Wait patiently for the lord. Be still and do not give in to anxious thoughts. God is not deaf to your prayers. In due season, you will receive an answer from Him because He is never too early, neither is He ever too late. God is always right on time. Be still.
Lord, Open My Eyes!
One message we received at Excel Church at the start of this year, 2019, was based
on the book of Numbers, Chapter 22, verses 21 -
‘Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn.’
I began to reflect on the times when I have made costly mistakes in my own life.
Quite often these have been times when I failed to seek the heart of God on the matter.
Yes, I consulted people – friends, family, colleagues -
I am not suggesting that we must never seek the counsel of others when we are faced with a dilemma, but know that the wisdom of God is unsurpassable. God is omnipotent, He is omnipresent; He is omniscient. He is sees the end from the beginning. He needs to be our first ‘Consultant’ when we face life’s challenges or when we need to make major decisions. We must ask God to ‘open our eyes’ so we can see the consequences of the decisions we make. This is not always logic or ‘head’ knowledge, as God is not man. It is an inner ‘knowing’ and the evidence that we are on the right path is often the deep peace and serenity we feel in our hearts.
There are always blessings when we follow the leading of God, so this year let your prayer be: ‘Lord, open my eyes that I may see.’
Happy New Year all!
Stay Joyful, your answer is on its way!
I had a tooth extraction recently, after many months of agony and discomfort. This was not my first extraction, so I knew something not quite right about this last one, because the pain remained unrelenting even after one week and I continued to take some pain killers. Having returned back to the dentist, he confirmed what I had suspected. The extraction site was infected and he prescribed me some antibiotics. Suddenly I didn’t feel the need to take any more painkillers, because I knew that come 24 hours, the pain will begin to subside, because the appropriate treatment had been applied to my gums. And sure enough, the pain disappeared within a couple of days of taking the antibiotics.
I started to reflect on how it is when we bring our needs to God in prayer. We need to be confident in our faith that He hears us and that He is on our case. It might look like nothing is happening, you can’t see any change, but God is not man and His ways are not our ways. He says he has good thoughts towards you, so keep your hope alive. The God kind of hope is a living hope, one that will never disappoint. Hebrews chapter 6, verse 19 says: ‘We have this hope as an anchor for our soul, firm and secure.’
I heard a sermon recently about God always being on time. His timing is always perfect because He is God. He created the times and seasons. Psalm 31, verse 15 says ‘My times are in your hands.’ So, you may be feeling frustrated and impatient today because of some delay in answered prayers, but be still and know that God is working behind the scenes and at the right time, he will show up for you. Remain in peace, stay joyful in your praise and remain in His word. Your answer is on its way!
A different kind of Power
Few things must grieve our heavenly father more than when we, His children, fail
to appreciate the power he has bestowed upon us. The book of Ephesians (Chapter
1, verses18 -
We can start to act with boldness, because know now that our human limitations cannot stop us, since it is God’s mighty power that will work in us to accomplish whatever it is that he has called us to do. Proverbs chapter 28, verse 1 tells us that the righteous are bold as lions.
We know also that once we step out in faith, God will step in to enable us succeed. Many times we are waiting on God, whereas, He is waiting on us to step out.
More than likely, there will be challenges and obstacles on the journey towards
achieving our God-
I don’t know what dream you may have given up on. I don’t know what challenges you may be facing, but one thing I know is that, Faith is a fight. Don’t throw in the towel. Instead, throw your hat back in the ring and trust God to be your cheer leader. His mighty power will show up just when you need it. That’s His promise!
Run to the God of Comfort
It has been a very difficult couple of weeks for my family, with the unexpected and untimely death of my dearly beloved brother. My brother loved and served the Lord most diligently, so quite naturally, in the immediate aftermath of this awesome tragedy, my first question was ‘Why Lord, why?’
But there were no answers except the sad realisation that serving God does not absolve us from trials and tribulations. John chapter 16, verses 33 says: ‘I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ This should provide those who mourn with some comfort. We grieve, but not in the same way as those who have no hope (I Thessalonians, chapter 14 verse 3).
As Christians, when we believe in the death conquering resurrection of Jesus, our
dread of death is minimised, because our belief and hope in Jesus guarantees us eternal
life! See John chapter 11, verses 25-
We will still feel deep sorrow and grief at the death of a loved one and that sorrow is normal. We must never feel guilty about grieving for one we will never see again on this earth. But how we feel does not change the word of God. One day we will we will be reunited with our loved ones.
If you are going through a period of mourning today, take heart and humbly submit
to the sovereignty of God even when you don’t understand why he has taken your loved
one. That trust is fundamental to our Christian faith. His ways are not our ways
(Isaiah chapter 55, verses 8-
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted’ (Matthew 5:4).
Take Time to Enter His Rest.
It is the school holiday season when teachers, parents and learners of all ages believe they deserve a break. Taking time out of our busy routines whatever they may be, to rest, is of one of God’s greatest gifts to his people. Rest is synonymous with peace and calm. We take time to ‘recharge’ our bodies, our physical ‘batteries’ so when the summer break is over, we feel refreshed and energised to engage with regular activities again, be it work or school life.
There is also a spiritual angle to God’s rest, one that is deeply satisfying, meaningful and profound. This supersedes simply resting from our normal activities and lounging in our living rooms or sunbathing in exotic holiday locations. Entering this deeper level of rest means we cease from fretting and worrying about things and issues we have little control over and instead learn to be at peace, knowing that God never loses control of our lives. It also means taking to heart God’s assurances that He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah, chapter 31 verse 3) and that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy, chapter 31, verse 6).
When we truly grasp God’s love for us, we learn to live in total dependence on Him
and cease to rely solely on our own human intellect, wisdom and manipulation of events
in our lives. Proverbs chapter 3, verse 5-
Have a restful and refreshing time this summer break by truly entering into God’s own rest as He meant it to be. Remain blessed.
The Match is fixed in your favour!
It has been World Cup fever over the past couple of weeks and it is set to continue for another fortnight or so. While I am not a football fanatic or even fan for that matter, you can’t help but be drawn into the excitement and tension of it all. I am even starting to understand some of the rules of football!
In a sense, life is like a football match. As you watch the players battling it out on the field, you experience with them moments of sheer ecstasy and elation when their team scores a goal and conversely, extreme frustration and desperation when things are going badly for them on the field.
This is similar to the peaks and troughs we experience in life. Happy moments like getting married, the joy of a new birth, passing an examination, gaining a promotion at work, buying your first car, are all too soon tinged with the death of a loved one, sickness, losing a job, divorce, failing an examination, betrayal etc. It is the nature of life. We are told we will have many troubles in life (John, chapter 26, verse 33).
For those who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ however, there is hope, even in times of sadness, so much so that we can boldly declare that the game of life has been fixed in our favour! One verse of scripture captures this truth:
‘But thanks be to God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ…’ (2 Corinthians, chapter 2 verse 14)
This means that as we go through the match of life, just like our football players, there will be plenty highs and lows but in Christ, we always win!
Be a Light Bearer
Matthew Chapter 5 verse 16 says: ‘Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’
The power of dominion in our Christian lives, I believe, is in direct proportion to the extent to which our lights shine. Also, since what shines out on the outside is deeply connected to what we have on the inside of us, our lights will only shine brightly when the word of God is deeply embedded in our hearts. Colossians chapter 3 verse 16 encourages us through this: ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….’ This means, the greater the light within us, the greater the dominion over sin, our human failings and wider challenges of life. So often, the word of God within us is so limited and scant that when pressure comes, we destroy our Christian testimonies by acting worse than those who do not profess to believe in Christ. As Matthew chapter 6 verse 23 says: ‘If the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!’
We are children of the most-
May God our father give us all the grace and wisdom to live not by our own rules and selfish ambitions, but by His word because ‘Forever O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven!’(Psalm 119, verse 89). Be blessed.
Walk with God
One reason I love the summer months is because the brightness is great for early
morning walks. I also get the opportunity to commune with God, enjoying quiet moments
with Him before my daily commitments begin. Psalm 92, verses 1-
This is exactly what I caught myself doing recently – undertaking a ‘worry walk’ instead of a ‘prayer walk.’ Often we believe we are fully reliant on God and trust him implicitly until we face a challenge that seems insurmountable to us. But isn’t this exactly why we need God? When we can see a way out of our challenges, we don’t need His supernatural intervention! We need him when we cannot see a way out. Remember the song: ‘God will make a way where there seems to be no way.’
Our wisdom and knowledge as human beings will always be partial and incomplete (Corinthians
chapter 13, verse 9). But God knows all. His knowledge is complete and nothing
can take him by surprise. He is omniscient, meaning He is ‘all-
I am feeling very encouraged at the moment to know that if God knows everything, I don’t have to know everything! I just need to strengthen my intimacy with him, walk with him daily, slipping my hands into his and trusting him to guide me to my desired haven. This gives me so much comfort and I hope it does the same for you too. Blessings.
Don’t Let Worries Cloud Your Vision
I just returned from a family wedding in a town called Lokoja, a river port in south-
This made me really sad and caused me to reflect on how often we miss the beauty
of God’s presence and the peace only He can give us, because our minds are cluttered
with fears and anxieties, many of them, self-
We cannot worry and trust at the same time. We must recognise too that all worry is a waste of our precious time. We cannot change anything by worrying. In fact, worry hampers our ability to be creative in seeking solutions to our problems, real or imagined. Luke chapter 12 verse 25 asks us: ‘Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?’ Instead, we must be willing to cast all our burdens and fears upon God because he cares for us (1 Peter, chapter 5, verse 7). Next time you are tempted to worry, just remember that.
What do you believe?
I always found the story of the Woman with Issue of Blood fascinating (Mark, chapter
5 verses 24 -
Often, we feel we can only receive our miracle if a ‘man or woman of God’, or someone
‘spiritual’ prays for us. But not so in this story. The example of this woman shows
us that only our faith has the power to bring our miracle to pass! God is pleased
when we put our faith in him and He never lets us down (‘Without faith it is impossible
to please God’ -
What we say and believe about ourselves and our situation has far greater impact on the outcome than what others say about us and our circumstances. You can bring your miracle to pass. You and God alone. He is for you. Only believe! This must be a great source of comfort for the believer. When we align our thoughts and beliefs with what God says about us as his children, we are well on our way to living our best lives ever. This is transformational thinking, much aligned to the exhortation we are given in Romans, chapter 12, verse 2 – ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ My encouragement to you this month is simply this: Only believe, because ‘With God all things are possible!’ (Matthew chapter 19, verse 26).
How Is Your Faith Walk?
Sometime ago, we were discussing the concept of faith in our house group, different people offering their own definitions of what faith meant to them. I remembered being taught as a young 8 year old that ‘Faith is the supernatural gift of God which enables us to believe, without doubting, whatever God has revealed.’ That definition of faith has stuck with me all these years. It is rather similar to that in Hebrews chapter 11, verse 1 which says: ‘Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.’
Not long after our house group meeting, I shared a difficult situation with my sister and she encouraged me to have faith in God to work things out for me, adding: ‘Act like God is telling you the truth.’ I really liked that!
Now, whenever I face challenges of any kind and I am tempted to be doubtful, I just
bring those words back to mind: ‘Act like God is telling you the truth.’ That is
faith in action. I choose to believe and act on God’s word, rather than react with
worry to the circumstances or challenges facing me. God’s word is truth and the bible,
citing the example of Abraham, shows us that our faith is only made complete by our
actions (Read James chapter 2, verses 14-
If you are going through any difficulty today, no matter how long it takes, keep
praying and believing and standing on God’s word! Some answers come quickly, others
come slowly, but keep your heart steadfast and fixed on God’s promises. He will surely
come through for you. Faith is not a one-
Begin With the End in Mind
The start of a new year often spells new life, new beginnings. Still, it is good at the start of the year to reflect on how we would like to be remembered when we come to the end of our days. Steven Covey in his bestselling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, urges his readers to first and foremost, ‘Begin with the end in mind’. This is a sober thought which struck me even more a couple of days ago when I attended the funeral of my 91 year old neighbour, Eileen Clark.
Eileen was a wise and remarkable woman, with a very sharp wit and fun to be around,
even to the very end. Just one hour with her in the nursing home where she spent
the last few years of her life meant my week was bound to be full of wise choices
and decisions because she demanded that I appreciate life and my relative youth.
In her own inimitable way, she taught me how to be thankful for little mercies. Eileen
is gone, but she left me something remarkable – the need to be thankful in all circumstances
After the funeral service, I walked soberly back to my car parked next to the cemetery, feeling a bit sad. But everywhere was calm, truly beautiful and serene, not what I expected. I could hear the still voice of God comforting me saying, you have nothing to fear about death; death is not ugly, it can be beautiful for a life lived well, especially when that life was spent serving others. I remember asking myself these two questions, I am asking you now:
1. What are you going to leave behind?
2. How are you going to live the rest of your days, starting from this New Year?
Above all, I found great comfort in the following verse from Romans, chapter 8 verses
‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
Happy new year all!
You are made in God’s Perfect Image
Get ready! The season of good cheer and endless partying is about to begin. It is also the season when everyone goes extra crazy on social media, posting photos of their perfect faces, perfect bodies, perfect gifts, not to mention perfect family lives. This can be difficult when the majority of people feel anything but ‘perfect.’
But before you drown in dissatisfaction, remember that the ‘out-
One of our church leaders said recently: ‘The greatest gift you can give yourself this Christmas season is fully accepting the love of Christ.’
Do this and watch your confidence and self-
Keep the thief out!
The bible describes the devil as a thief whose main agenda is to kill, to steal and to destroy (John 10:10).
How do you prevent a thief from breaking into your property? You lock all doors securely. You may even secure all accessible windows as a thief is always lurking about, searching for that opportunity or ‘open door.’ A thief rarely looks like one. That is often the secret to their success and that is why so often we fall victims.
This also applies to the ‘open doors’ in our lives. Quite often, they appear very harmless, but beware. What is that open door in your life that allows the devil to break in? Is it anger? Laziness? Pride? Procrastination? Gossip? Greed? These do not seem like grievous sins, but they do not have to be to destroy lives. It is the little foxes that ruin the vine (Song of Solomon 2:15). Seemingly insignificant or ‘harmless’ actions or habits can cause great damage. One little folly can permanently ruin a good reputation. One misguided action can wipe out an entire life’s savings! The devil loves the ‘little foxes’ that act as open doors for him to come into our lives to kill, steal and destroy us and all those things that are so precious to us. He is the biggest thief, so beware. Work hard to keep that thief out!
Ordering your priorities
Sometime ago, a female motorist in the USA was charged with child neglect and abuse. Failing to stop at a red light, the police had pulled her over, only to discover that not only was she drunk, she also had her 16 month old daughter in the back seat of her car, without a seat belt. The story got even more horrifying as the police noticed that the drunken woman had strapped 24 cans of lager securely to the front passenger seat with the seat belt. So, alcohol strapped securely with a seat belt, but 16 month old child left unstrapped in back seat. Beggars belief, but this is a true story. It would seem that this woman valued her alcohol supply more than she did her vulnerable toddler. Clearly, this is a woman with a problem. Still, what an ordering of priorities!
Most of us would be utterly incensed by this degree of irresponsibility, wouldn’t
we? However, when we put lascivious living before the things of God, we may well
be acting like that irresponsible woman. How often for instance do we spend hours
taking care of our physical bodies, but think nothing of neglecting our spiritual
lives? What is the ratio of time we spend feeding our minds tabloid or social media
junk, versus time invested in studying the word of God? Also, how often do we put
work before our families or having a ‘good’ time before studying for an important
assignment or examination? We may not get arrested by the police like the woman
in this story. After all, we are not criminals (I hope!). However, the bible tells
us to mind how we live. ‘Not as unwise, but wise’ (Ephesians 5: 15-
Be like your Father….
I was standing in the queue at a supermarket recently when the lady in front of me presented a voucher to the shop assistant, expecting some discount off her purchase. The assistant kindly pointed out that the voucher had long expired. It seemed pretty obvious that the lady shopper knew the voucher had expired but was trying it on. After paying for her goods however, she struck up a conversation with another woman who clearly was an acquaintance or friend. They were talking about church and there was a good deal of ‘Bless the Lord’, ‘Praise the Lord’ and ‘God is good.’ I did find it odd that someone who just tried to pull a fast one on the shop assistant was praising the Lord so profusely. What about some Godly honesty and truthfulness? I know you may be thinking: come on, that’s being judgemental. After all, the Bible says: ‘Judge not that ye be not judged’ (Matthew 7:1). I agree, my thoughts could be construed as judgemental, but you will also agree that right is right and wrong is wrong. As professed Christians, we ought to be good witnesses and that means being people of integrity.
I think back to my own childhood. I was a rather strong-
PS: Some 40 odd years on, I am better behaved now, I think……
Who sets your Standards?
I was intrigued by this headline in a daily tabloid last week:
‘Seven priests walk into a bar….and get kicked out by staff who think they’re on a stag do!’
Before I proceed to make my point, please note that this piece is not a condemnation of those who go to bars or those who like to have the odd pint of beer, glass of wine or whatever liquor takes their fancy. My point transcends the issue of whether or not it is right that Christians or religious leaders of any denomination should drink alcohol.
But let us examine this one story that has made headlines this week closely, because the reaction of the bar staff says something about the standards to which other people hold us once we openly profess to be Christians. What is clear is that they did not expect that ‘real’ or ‘genuine’ priests visit bars. If they did, they would not have immediately concluded that these bona fide priests were fakes, i.e. young men on a stag night.
It is very interesting the assumptions people who have little interest in religion
and who probably do not believe in the existence of God make about Christians. As
far as the bar staff were concerned, Christians, God-
There is a negative side to this. It means that other people often hold Christians up to an incredibly high standard, one that may be unrealistic to meet. As individual Christians, we know ourselves only too well, warts and all, so expecting us to be ‘perfect’ can be daunting, because we know we are not. On the other hand, there is a very positive message informing this view of us as Christians. People hold us up to high standards because they believe that our values, which are based on our relationship with Jesus, will cause us to rise up to the high standards of behaviour and living expected of us. I think that is worth celebrating because I would rather people expect much of me than little. Christ has given us so much, so ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’ (Luke chapter 12, verse 48).
Also, when people hold us up to high standards, the human nature is such that we try to live up to them. That is why affirming others in positive ways is very important. The bible is the Christian’s manual for living an exemplary life. It sets out the standards by which we should live. My question for you is, how well do you know your manual?
He orders your Steps and Mis-
I suffered a bitter disappointment recently. An opportunity was on the horizon and I believed God was going to open the door for me. I prayed, fasted for accelerated breakthrough and even ‘sowed a seed’! I was confident the door would swing wide open. Guess what? It slammed in my face. I was distraught and fired the questions at God. Why, God, Why? He owed me that opportunity, I felt. I had prayed fervently, starved myself, bound all my enemies, both real and imagined, bribed God with money, what else did he want? I promptly asked Him for a refund! But God remained silent.
You see, it is difficult for the Holy Spirit to get through to us when our minds are full of worry, turmoil and anxiety. Sometimes we need to be still and listen to his voice. As I sat in Church a week later, Psalm 37:23 came to my mind. ‘The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and he delighteth in his way’. The lost opportunity was not an accident. God was ordering my steps.
I understand now that God does not work to my schedule. He is also more interested
in my character than my comfort. I can’t twist his arm, bribe or threaten him in
a bid to receive what he never planned for me to have in the first place. Yes, I
am still disappointed the door of opportunity did not open and you too may be in
a place of disappointment today. But take comfort and remember that our God is wiser
than we are and His plans for us are always good. Jeremiah 29:11 says: ‘For I know
the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm
you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ So, be encouraged. God orders your steps
Take time out to rest.
Like many who just finished their half-
Taking time out from our daily grind to rest is an obligation we owe ourselves. It
is vital for our physical, mental and spiritual health and well-
Isaiah 30 verse 15 tells us that we can gain strength through quietness and rest. This means that ironically, rest can be a time of great renewal and productivity. The relaxed mind is a creative mind. A lot of the time we are so busy rushing around like headless chickens that we have little or no time to reflect on the logic or rationale behind our activities. We must remember too that activity does not equate to productivity. Reflection and ‘thinking time’ are vital if we are to live productive and most of all, meaningful lives. The author, Stephen Covey once said ‘Be sure that, as you scramble up the ladder of success, it is leaning against the right building.’
Taking time out to rest and reflect gives us all great opportunities to check that our lives and values are built on solid Christian foundations. Be sure to do this often because ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’, according to Socrates, one of the world’s greatest thinkers. Remain blessed.
Embrace the Stretching life brings
The 12th of April will always be a memorable day for me. I attended my graduation
ceremony flanked by my husband, children, daughter-
Starting anything worthwhile is easy. Finishing strong is a whole lot tougher! But success has its own recipe and stretching is a key ingredient. Ecclesiastes Chapter 7, verse 8 says: ‘The end of a matter is better than its beginning.’
I often think that as parents we work very hard to give our children what we never had. What we often fail to give them is what we do have, which are: the ability to persevere under pressure, resistance, dogged determination and the will to follow through in life.
Jesus is a prime example of pure grace under pressure. Hebrews chapter 12, verse 2 says:
‘Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’
Just think where we would all be if Jesus had given up half way through his trial, because he could no longer endure the pain and humiliation of the cross? None of us will ever come close to carrying a burden of such magnitude. Yet, see what joy salvation has brought to all who believe – the unmerited favour of eternal life.
So, what challenge are you facing today? Focus on the reward rather than the pain and never resist the stretching that life sometimes brings, because the joys often outweigh the pain.
The day after I was awarded my Doctorate, I received a note from my supervisor. It simply said: ‘Ada, you wake up every day from now on and you are still a Doctor…’
I couldn’t stop smiling. Every single ‘stretch’ over the 8 year period of study was worth the joy that short note brought to my heart.
Have an attitude of gratitude
An attitude of gratitude does not always come naturally to us. Sadly in this day and age, an attitude of entitlement means we have lost our sense of gratitude and take our many blessings for granted. But we are urged in I Thessalonians, chapter 5 verse 18, to give thanks in everything because it is the will of God. Note the verse does not say ‘some things’, but ‘everything’! Similarly, Ephesians, chapter 5 verse 20 says: ‘Always give thanks to God the father for everything in the name of the Lord Jesus’. This means that having a grateful heart is very important to God.
The gospel of Luke (Luke chapter 17, verses 11-
Jesus’ response to this one man implies that having a heart of gratitude is like having the right soil for your faith to grow and manifest. This means, gratitude will attract even more blessings, whereas ingratitude may well stem the flow of further blessings into our lives. Reflect on this for a moment: Would you continue giving good things to an ungrateful person, one who never stops to say, ‘thank you?’ Not likely!
So, do as you would like done to you. Always seek for things to be grateful for. Take time show gratitude to people who have made a difference to your life. Thank God always for his manifold blessings and goodness to you. If nothing comes to mind, just thank him for the gift of life. But never cease to keep an attitude of gratitude.
Let God direct you
Proverbs 3:5 encourages us to ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths.’
We all struggle with the challenge of sorting out our own ideas from those of God because as human beings, our understanding is limited. But we must be comforted by God’s word which promises us that: ‘Even to your old age and grey hairs, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you.’ (Isaiah 46:4). These are very encouraging words because the bible does not always give us clear directions about day to day decisions that impact on our lives; for example, when it is time to move house; or change jobs, or get married and have children. We are only instructed to commit all that we do to the lord, and he will bring our plans to pass (Proverbs 16:3).
When we trust our lives to a God who is omnipotent (all-