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: Proverbs 8:30-31 I was the architect at his side.I was his constant delight, rejoicing always in his presence.And how happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family!
Have you ever noticed how small children are able to turn practically anything into a game? I was talking to a friend who was babysitting his nieces the other day and he could not believe how contented and happy his 2 year old niece was, playing with a bed sheet. She would put it over her head and pretend she was a ghost, then she would hook the elasticated corner of the sheet over her head like a hat and pretend she was a princess with a long gown. She found all manner of things to do with that simple bed sheet that made her smile and giggle to herself. What struck me the most though, was the fact that if my friend left the room for any reason while she was playing with the sheet and she had deemed it time for a costume change, she would search for her uncle with urgency to show him the latest creation and only once she had shown it to him did she seem truly pleased with herself.
Listening to Clean Bandit’s house hit ‘Rather Be’ always conjures up images similar to my friend and his niece in my mind, only in my imagination I want to be the niece and would like the uncle role to be played by God. You see I don’t believe it was the sheet that was making this little girl happy at all, it was the fact that she was in the presence of her most beloved uncle. There she felt safe, loved and free to express herself in anyway she wished. So though a bed sheet is up there with the least exciting things of all time, she did not need a fancy doll’s house or Dora the explorer toy. Her delight was in her uncle and every time he smiled at her latest creation, well that made it all worth the while and spurred her on not to think about the toys that she had at her house but to be happy to continue playing with whatever she could find at her uncle’s house.
This is not to say that if someone walked in with her favourite toy and gave it to her she would ignore it. I am sure she would discard the sheet and find a new game to play with the toy. In the same way we should learn to be content with the situations that we are in, but prepared to take any new opportunities that come our way. The song says ‘If you gave me a chance I would take it’ and if we are truly able to make the Lord our delight and be prepared to trust him in any situation, then we, will be able to make Proverbs 8:31 true in our lives and be happy with the world; not because it is perfect but because we are sure of who is with us and when we are with him there will be no place we’d rather be!
Scripture: Ephesians 5:31 ‘For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.’
I recently had the pleasure of attending the wedding of two friends who had met at university 7 years ago, dated for 3 years and then decided to get married. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to be a part of a romance that had taken a while to come to fruition and will hopefully spend the next 60 years maturing into the vision of unity that God envisaged when he created the institution of marriage.
In this day and age, the word love is carelessly thrown around with no thought as to its actual meaning and marriage seems to be just an excuse to get dressed up and have a day where everything revolves around us. But…after the gown and the cake, the music and the dancing those two people who have made a covenant to one another (and possibly before God depending on the individuals involved) actually need to go off and start the real work.
Being a female and in my mid 20s it will come as no surprise to anyone when I say that marriage is something that occupies my thoughts. Yet what you may find surprising is that the more I think about it, the more comfortable I become with waiting for it to happen to me. This is not to say that I do not wish to get married I am one of the girliest girls there ever was in this respect. I would love nothing more than for my prince charming to come riding into my life on a white stallion, swoop me into his arms and ride off into the happily ever after with me. Oh and since we are dreaming here let’s not forget the gigantic rock that will mean I need a crane to lift my finger!
On a more serious note however, in order for a marriage to work both parties need to be prepared to give 100% all of the time without expecting anything in return. It sounds crazy, but that is the level of commitment that is required.Only this will ensure a marriage that stands the test of time, because giving 100% will mean your spouse is getting the absolute best of you with no holes barred yet it is the not expecting anything in return that is really key as this is the part that ensures that your love is genuine and will not be taken away from your partner as soon as they fall short of your expectations of them.
When I caught this revelation suddenly marriage was not so appealing because it wasn’t simply a lovey dovey celebration but a long hard slog that two people have promised to endure together, BEFORE the obstacle course of life has revealed what it will throw at them.
John Legend’s song ‘All Of Me’ captures this idea beautifully, you really need to give your all to your spouse and they need to do so also. I love the way he has phrased it because it really highlights the fact that emotions aside it does actually need to be a conscious decision because that’s the only way you can get through the challenge!
I would love to hear people’s thoughts on this post so please do comment and let’s discuss!
Scripture: Revelation 3:20 – Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in and eat with him and he with me.
If someone knocked on your door today and said “I love you, I want to give my best to you” I am sure the door would be shut in haste and words along the lines of “nutter” would escape your lips, in anger at the unnecessary disturbance to your day. If however the person persisted and you heard the rest of what they had to say, and you then noticed this individual was not in anyway mentally unhinged or deranged but was in fact completely lucid the question that would follow would be “What’s the catch?”
In a world where there is no such thing as something for nothing such a notion seems completely absurd, particularly to unbelievers…..or does it?
As foreign as the concept is in this dog eat dog world it is very interesting that people nevertheless find it a comforting idea that somebody could love them no matter what. Katy Perry’s power pop ballad ‘Unconditionally’ sings of this exact love. The sort that God shovels on us by the ton. And the good news is there is no catch! It really is a love that can never be deserved, earned or lost. As revelations 3:20 states, the Lord stands at the door knocking, so the question is, will you answer?
Katy Perry ‘Unconditionally’
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 7:9
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
If the search was on for a picture of someone who epitomised the expression “motor mouth” I am pretty sure my mugshot would stand an extremely good chance of being chosen.
I cannot count how many times I have been asked the question “Do you not think before you speak?” Though I know I should engage brain power before mouth action begins, I tend to find myself speaking the thoughts that are entering my mind before they have fully had a chance to take shape. The result, as I’m sure you can imagine, is a worsening of whatever situation has stirred up frustration within me. Yet more than that, at times, I myself am surprised by the cutting remarks that are able to push their way past all rationality and out of my mouth.
Needless to say, writing this post felt a little too close to home as I very much struggle with being slow to speak (James 1:19). Refraining from blurting out my piece of mind is something that I struggle with daily and it is probably the reason why I loved Alesha Dixon’s pop track ‘Breathe Slow’ as soon as I heard it.
It has been a few years since she released this track, right after finding out that her husband had had an affair with someone she had dared to call a friend. The lyrics are not particularly profound, with the chorus being the exact sort of thing mothers say to little girls to calm them down. However that is probably also the beauty of it.
It doesn’t just apply to females; taking that extra breath before offering a response could make all the difference between saying and / or doing something you live to regret. Dealing with a situation as a rational person who speaks not as they find but as is fitting and beneficial to the circumstance you are faced with.
I don’t know about you but I certainly have my work cut out. Here’s to many a deep breath!!!!
Click here to listen to Breathe Slow.
Other useful scriptures on this topic are:
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.