Scripture: Ephesians 4:31 – 32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
The moment I heard this song it immediately resonated with my spirit. It wasn’t just because I happen to love the sound of James Bay’s voice or the the catchiness of the chorus. Don’t get me wrong that helped a lot, but as I listened to it I realised that it perfectly summed up how I feel about a particular friendship.
Me and the particular individual went from being very close to one another, to barely being able to stand in each other’s presence for more than 5 minutes. There was no big bust up, neither were any foul words exchanged it just seemed that at some point an inexplicable distance formed between us and we have never been able to close it. However, rather than accept that fact for what it is, I would tell myself that that person was in the wrong, that they had not treated me fairly. I would analyse all the conversations we had over the course of our friendship and look for inconsistencies, and keep a record of all their misdemeanors in my head, just in case I should ever need to justify the coldness that had come to replace the warm friendship we once enjoyed.
I did all of that not to feel self righteous but because I couldn’t understand what had happened to our wonderful friendship and I felt hurt by what had become of us. I had prayed about forgiveness but was too busy seeking out answers to actually really let the holy spirit minister to me about how how to actually forgive. Yet as I listened to this chorus for the first time I realised that in all my prayers about forgiveness I thought I was suddenly going to feel compelled to run up to this person and give them a hug and that everything would return to how it had been. Yet that just simply is not the case. Forgiveness is about letting go. It is a conscious choice that we must make if we want to move forward. It is one that needs to be made irrespective of how disappointed we are about the way things turned out. Ephesians 4:31 tells us that we should put bitterness and malice away from us. That is, in my mind bible speak for what James Bay sings so passionately on his chorus. We need to let it go. Let’s forget the anger and frustration we feel and decide to let things go. Certain situations need to be left where they are because nothing can be done to improve them; so rather than focus on those things let us instead focus on what we are able to change.
As I am writing this I am filled with apprehension because I am going through a season where my ability to forgive is being tested on a daily basis and I am not finding it easy at all. Nevertheless, the reality is I know this to be true, I desire to move forward but I can’t progress if I keep my mind in the past.
I pray that God will help all of us to leave things in the past and focus on what is at hand. I pray in Jesus name that we will be able to erase hurts from the past from the pages of our mind and instead fill our minds with new memories. People come into our lives at different seasons, for different reasons and when their time is up I pray we would wholeheartedly thank the Lord for whatever lessons they have left in their wake.
Scripture: Ephesians 5:15 – Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise
I am particularly fond of the saying ‘If it seems too good to be true it probably is!’ I realise this is probably an indication of my cynicism but this was not always the case. The idea that things are not always as they seem has been a concept that has taken me a while to grasp and in spite of numerous lessons, I do on occasion forget what life has taught me and leave myself open to a very rude awakening.
In this world regardless of religion, belief, colour or creed the fact is that no human being takes kindly to being taken for a ride. This being the case you would think that we would take all necessary precautions to ensure that decisions that we make have been made bearing in mind all possible factors that could impact the outcome. Yet this is far from the case. We rush head first into situations because they appear convenient, or even great at the start, but our lack of foresight means that what appears to be so wonderful and inviting soon reveals the ugly truth that lies within.
Cyril Hahn’s house track ‘Perfect Form’ though an unlikely choice to feature on a christian blog, does do a fantastic job of highlighting the very careless nature described above, and in doing so highlights the reason for Paul’s warning in Ephesians chapter 5. We must be cautious in our everyday lives and consider actions and decisions carefully, for this is how we will ‘walk as wise’.
The context of the song applies to relationships and getting involved with someone because they appear ‘perfect’ and this is something that we all do. We develop affections for people and things based on the most superficial and unimportant things and later feel angry with ourselves when the reality that nothing of substance will come from the friendship/ relationship that we were so quick to form, hits us.
This post will certainly apply more to some than to others but the truth is that if the more impulsive ones amongst us (myself included) challenge themselves to put a bit more thought into actions and decisions there will be far fewer instances for regret to arise in our lives. So the next time you’re about to get tongue tied and forget your lines, why don’t you stop and rationalise. Take the challenge and ‘walk as wise’!
Scripture: Proverbs 17:10 A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.
Have you ever had a silly thought enter your mind that you pondered just that little bit longer than you should have? Thoughts of things we ought not to do creep into our minds as stealthily as a thief in the night, at times we cannot even pinpoint the moment of their conception because that is how swiftly and and unexpectedly ideas are given birth to.
We all have varying thoughts throughout the day, some good, some bad, some cringe worthy but what all ideas have in common is that if we dwell on them long enough they begin to inform our decisions and in turn our actions. Yet at the same time we all have that voice of reason within us which advises us on whether or not acting on whatever dubious thought has found its way into our heads will be a wise move. Depending on how often we take heed of that voice’s admonitions we are more able to act upon the counsel it gives, rather than just be swept away by the current of ridiculous thoughts that flow through our minds on occasion.
Listening to Tony Blaize’s power soul track ‘These sides’ this message could not be clearer. As the chorus rings out ‘A word is enough for the wise but you keep going down these sides’ the picture painted in my mind at least, is one of someone who knows they should not be contemplating or even doing something, but keeps dwelling on the thoughts or persisting in the same course of action; knowing full well that at some point they will have to reap what they have sown.
In spite of what we like to tell ourselves we always have a choice, in every circumstance that we are faced with. It may be the case that deciding to do what your conscience deems the right thing may result in a harder time, loss of friends and several other negative outcomes but the fact is when all is said and done it is still a choice. We choose to take the easy option because we do not want to challenge ourselves, or perhaps because we don’t really believe that God’s grace is sufficient for the issues we face. We rationalise and make excuses as to why our less than righteous actions are permissible or justifiable. However, if we put just as much thought and effort into gaining understanding of the benefits of following our innate sense of right and wrong and seek to live a life of righteousness, the result would be a generation of people not making excuses and ‘living as slaves’ as Mr Blaize so poetically puts it, but living as we were made to in harmony with one another and more importantly with the will of God.
We’ve all heard the saying “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Well I would like to take alter this slightly, that is to say, “there is no such thing as an action without a consequence”. With this being the case, it is about time we weighed our actions more carefully, took heed of any rebukes given to us and thought about the bigger picture rather than our immediate want before making decisions or taking actions.
Check out up and coming music superstar Tony Blaize’s music here.
Scripture: Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
I’ve been out of action for a while now, mainly due to being busy, but somewhere in the midst of my little disappearing act I realised that there was a lot that I was not happy about in my life, and the main cause of my disenchantment with my life was my job.
It was not particularly rewarding, it was extremely stressful; and I found myself constantly complaining to anyone who would listen about how awful the job was. Then suddenly the penny dropped and I thought, my life is going to change because I am going to change it! I had been working at the same place for a year and some months and 90% or the time I was miserable.
I prayed and began searching desperately for jobs and then made the drastic decision that I would hand in my notice regardless of whether I had found another role to move into. Friends and family tried to convince me to reconsider my seemingly irrational decision but they were not with me on my frequent ‘toilet breaks’ crying out to the Lord in anguish. I refused to budge, though deep down I was terrified, however I chose to view the decision as a step of faith.
I chose 30th June as the date I would hand in the notice and began counting down to that time. During this time I created a playlist on Spotify called ‘Make that move’ and the song I listened to most from this playlist was For All Season’s ‘Give me faith’. The song became my mantra. I would just meditate on the words that I needed to have faith and trust in the Lord and I was so pleasantly surprised by the outcome I had to share this with the world!
On the 30th I told my manager I needed to have a word with him 15 minutes after arriving into work. I did not want to wait in case I chickened out. I delivered the news at 9.45 AM and felt relieved but nervous. I went about my day as normal and then checked my personal email at 2.15 PM and to my great joy, relief and surprise I had a job offer.
Relaying the story to my friend she commented. ‘This is the thing, we don’t give God the room he needs to operate’ and I can’t help but feel as though she is right. We let fear and worry get the best of us, but if we ask the Lord to give us faith and wisdom and then use that faith and wisdom to govern our next step we will be surprised by the outcome. So go ahead, add a bit of faith and a large helping of prayer to that wild dream that you have and I guarantee you, you will have a recipe for success!
Scripture: Psalm 34:1 – “I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continuously be in my mouth.”
The story behind this blog post’s song is so sad and yet from it has come a song of such beauty that epitomises the very meaning of Psalm 34:1. The notion of blessing the Lord at all times is one that seems doable when things are going well and to an extent when things are not ideal; but the real challenge is our reaction when faced with crisis. The Grover’s, whose story inspired JJ Heller to write this stunning song, were faced with one of the most heart wrenching situations a couple could ever be forced to deal with. 23 weeks into their pregnancy which had up until that point seemed normal, it was discovered that their daughter had a congenital defect which meant that survival outside of the womb would be nearly impossible.
Amber Grover and her husband opted to view Olivianna’s life as a means by which God’s love and glory was being demonstrated to them. As they prayed for healing, and learnt to submit to God’s will even in the most trying of times they were able to give thanks to Jesus for holding them together in the midst of calamity. Amber started a blog to share her thoughts and frustrations with the world. Through this blog people Olivianna’s very short life on this earth has touched lives the world over, proving that just as the song’s lyrics state, ‘life is short, but it is wide’ and that if we truly bless the Lord at all times beauty will be found in every situation however ugly its beginning may have been.
I have posted the link to Amber Grover’s blog below should you wish to read more about Olivianna’s story and her journey.
Scripture: Jeremiah 30:17 – For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, [saying], This [is] Zion, whom no man seeketh after.
Sometimes in life it can seem as though everything is the absolute absolute opposite of what it should be. When even the things that should be absolute basics are not at all as they should be we start to wonder if there is something wrong with us; or indeed if there is anything that can be done to bring a slight semblance of normality to the situation.
In no circumstance are such feelings more common than in a family life that is not conventional. Pride has us put on a front, when deep down our hearts are in turmoil and though it is not the intention of christian circles, at times the desire to appear righteous and put together can stop such issues being discussed amongst believers.
This is why it was love at first listen when I heard Corey Porter’s track Broken. The subtle hip hop beat coupled with the smooth hooky chorus and his hard hitting lyrics in the verses describe the feelings that people struggle with on a daily basis with such accuracy. The issues he chose to speak on are quite extreme but not uncommon. They are issues that get brushed under the rug so it was refreshing to hear him do them justice. His honest interpretation of the emotions that are felt in such situations demonstrates his ability to put himself in the other people’s shoes and feel compassion for them. A trait which we should all cultivate within ourselves to ensure that we don’t judge people in any circumstance but rather pray either for or with them, that they might see the change that they so desperately desire in their situation.
A plea is made to the Lord to help put the family back together in the chorus and this is the most effective thing that we can do in these circumstances. We as humans can do our bit to try and mend broken relationships but the other parties involved need to be receptive to our efforts. This can only happen once wounds have been healed and peace restored. In Jeremiah 30:17 our gracious and loving father promises to bring restoration to his people and this is a promise that anyone can tap into. So if your heart is wounded in anyway, speak to the Lord for he has the remedy, he’s just waiting for you to ask!
Scripture: Deuteronomy 3:16 – “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them. For the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
On a daily basis doubts, fears and worries creep into our minds. We wonder will I be able to do what I need to? Will they like me? What if this project turns out to be a disaster? The list, I am sure you will agree, goes on.
To ask such questions is human and is in a way a good thing since we are acknowledging our own weakness rather than being filled with pride and confidence in our own ability. However we must never forget the Lord’s promise never to leave or forsake us. Our confidence should come from the fact that the almighty Lord our God is always with us. Loud harp’s atmospheric worship song ‘Always with you’ does a great job of reminding us of God’s promise to us.
Starting off quietly and almost as though unsure, the same simple lyrics are repeated over and over, while different musical elements are added in with every repetition. As the song builds up you get the feeling that each time Asher Seevink and Dave Walton who make up Loud Harp sing of God’s promise they grow in their ability to overcome any nagging doubts. This simple worship song is beautiful and a wonderful tool to use to meditate on God’s promise never to leave nor forsake us.
Remember He is with us ALWAYS!