Never Give Up The Fight

Ever feel tired of praying for someone’s salvation? That no matter what you do or say, nothing seems to change? This can happen with prayers for a friend, parent, spouse or maybe even a complete stranger. Sometimes it feels like you are running up a steep mountain, trying to push a heavy load, and never actually getting anywhere. It can be completely draining, both emotionally and physically.

Whenever you start feeling down, keep this in mind:

Someone once prayed for you and didn’t give up

No matter how hopeless it may feel, don’t give up. Whenever you feel like you’re running up that mountain, remember that God is right there pushing with you. God didn’t call us to be fishers of men all on our own; that is what the Holy Spirit is for. In fact, there are many times in the Bible where people did amazing things but knew they couldn’t say that it was by their own strength. One major example would be the walls of Jericho. Ever try simply walking around a building, hoping that the walls will come crashing down? How about shouting and blowing on a horn? This story, and many others, show that God will use us to accomplish great things, but not simply on our own strength.

Do you recall what happened to Saul? He was a very religious Jewish man, who was trying to kill all followers of Christ and eradicate the fire God had instilled in his followers (I can’t imagine praying for the salvation of someone like that!). Then one day, he experiences a complete 180 degree change, and starts preaching the beliefs of the people he had been so fiercely persecuting days before.

It wasn’t someone’s convincing words that changed his heart and it wasn’t a fancy church service. Saul accepted Christ because the Holy Spirit changed his heart and God revealed himself to him. Often people say they “found God”, but what actually happened is that God showed himself to them. While we should go out and share with everyone the great news about God, we also need to remember that our efforts alone are not what cause people to accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

Unfortunately, the values of today’s society has spilt into the Christian movement. In today’s society, we are told we can achieve anything if we work hard enough. People nowadays go out and change their hair colour, job, house, wife….. but there is something we can’t change ourselves: the hearts of others. We must realise that God is the one that changes people`s hearts and reveals to them the true power of the Gospel.

When you pray for someone to come to know Christ, make sure you ask God to have their eyes opened, their hearts softened, and that God will forever have their names written in the Book of Life.

I pray that God gives you wisdom of the Gospel to share with others, the strength to withstand persecution and ridicule, and the patience to wait for God to perform miracles in His time (not our own).

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I Care…… But Don’t Care

Have you ever met someone who kept (metaphorically) bashing into walls, and refused to take advice on how to change? I see that a lot in my life. Considering the lessons God teaches me everyday, I can sometimes see what people may be doing wrong. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but we should all help people remove the stumbling blocks in their lives when God gives us the wisdom to help. To see people constantly struggling can become very painful to watch. I’ll often get emotionally attached to those struggling, start feeling sad for them and try to figure out how I can help. After a while, it becomes very emotionally draining.

One day, I gained a new perspective. I have a professor who always talks about the terrible effects of smoking. He once spoke about how his students try to hide their smoking habits when they are around the professor. He then stated “Look….. I care, but I don’t care”. At first I thought it was a bit mean, but later started to agree with him.

I care very deeply about helping people discover the love of Jesus Christ. I had spent a part of my life running away from God, and when I started to return to God’s path, I knew I’d never want to go back to the way I was. I want to go out into the world and help people discover the love, mercy, forgiveness and everlasting provision that God provides to all who seek him. While I love talking about religion and relationships (and offering advice when I can), I realised I needed to take a step back.  I realised I was turning sharing my faith into a chore; I would often feel that I’d go out sharing my faith with others and achieve nothing; I hated that I couldn’t find the words to convince people to come to Christ, especially to those closest to me.

However, there is something at work every time we go out sharing. We are constantly planting seeds in the hearts of everyone around us, whether we chose to or not. When you tell people that you are a Christian, you suddenly become a representative of Jesus. I think we often forget this, because so many people do not want to know Jesus Christ because of how they see their Christian friends act on a daily basis. While we may never see all the fruits of our labour, we need to believe that our efforts will not go unnoticed. We must care for all of God’s creations, but must also know that we can’t do it all on our own. God will always help us, and He has called out others that will be fighting the battle right beside us.

Another thing to keep in mind:

“If not you, than someone else”

If you decide that sharing your faith with your friends and family is too scary and stressful, God will place someone else in their lives to tell them. If God wants to reveal himself to them, He won’t let anyone stand in their way; If Moses (and Aaron) had been too sacred to speak to the Pharaoh, God would have risen someone else up to free his people…… But do you want that to happen in your life? Can you imagine how Moses would have felt if he had been too afraid, and told God to use someone else? I don’t know about you, but I have been very mad at myself; Not because I missed out on the chance to be famous, but because God had given me such a privilege, and I chose to pass it on.

I pray that God will help Christians gain courage to go out and fulfil the Great Commission;

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

 

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By Force or By Choice

Ever feel like the bible was shoved down your throat? Unfortunately, a lot of us have felt that way at times. Growing up, I was always told to go to church; whether I wanted to be there or not. While I whole heartedly believe we need to go to church (and take our families and friends with us!), it seems like people do it for the wrong reasons.

Many simply go because of the influence of other people, and not to seek a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Some, like the Pharisees in the Bible, would go simply to show off to everyone else how “spiritual” they are; they would dress up in their finest clothes and make sure everyone knew they were there. They loved praying in the synagogues and even on the street corners, where everyone could see them. Others go because it’s convenient for them; whenever the weather is good, but not too good. Or when there is nothing interesting on TV. And some go because they feel they have to; usually by parents, but others may guilt people into coming to church by saying they’ll burn in Hell forever if they don’t. It’s been my experience that none of these reasons create ever lasting effects on a person’s heart.

Nowadays, we dress up in our “Sunday best” (sometimes wearing the only fancy outfit we own), paint a smile on our faces and act like we are free from every imaginable struggle. We no longer tell others about our struggles, and assume that everyone else has life all figured out. We start to feel like we are the only ones who have been “beaten, broken and bruised”. People may even start to resent going to church because they get tired of putting on an act and never receiving the help or healing that is preached about so often.

Going to church should be an amazing experience, not a dreaded one; the broken come to get healed, the hungry come to get feed, the dying come to gain a new life in Christ. We should be able to come together and share our prayers and praises. People need a place where they can speak to other Christ followers, share their struggles and receive love, understanding, hope and healing. In the New Testament, people thought of church gatherings as a wonderful event. They would look forward to joining their fellow man in praise and worship. Back then, they were often completely open about their problems, whether it was spiritual, physical, financial, emotional….. People were able to go to church and receive supernatural healing in a community that was so closely connected to God. However,This didn’t happen because the church building was somehow different than any other building (often, Christians would have to meet up in hidden, warn down buildings due to persecution). It was because of the people within it, who were seeking God with all their hearts as a collective group.

I don’t know who you are or what you’ve been through, but I do know that God wants you to seek him, and live among a community that will help you along a path towards eternal life with him. So many people intentionally don’t go to church because of how broken they are; because they know that many churches will shun them if they don’t act, dress or think “the right way”. I pray that you find a community where you can feel safe to share both your joys and struggles that you experience through your daily walk with God.

Look onto the horizon, not the floor

Ever feel angry that God isn’t blessing you the way you wanted or expected? Sometimes we fixate our eyes and thoughts on something we want so badly. This may even be something good, like starting a church or being healed from an illness or financial troubles. However, Just like when walking on a tightrope, you should always be looking far off into the distance, and not focusing on the few moments ahead of you.

At times, we are the like the blind man in Mark 8:22-26. This man was completely blind and he begged Jesus to cure him and give him sight. Jesus spit on his hands and placed them over the man’s eyes and asked what the man saw; “I see people; they look like trees walking around”. The man didn’t see the world as it truly appears. Then, Jesus does it again and the man is completely healed. Later on in the chapter, Peter is asked who he thinks Jesus is. Peter, at this point, thinks of Jesus as the Messiah; as a ruler who shall free the Jews from the Romans. However, Jesus tells him and the other disciples that He is here to suffer, be rejected, be killed and ultimately resurrected.

I recently heard a sermon about the blind man and it’s connection to the following passage about Peter. At first, we are completely blind to God’s plan for our lives. We get so wrapped up in our own lives and agendas that we completely forget to consider what God wants in our lives. We beg and cry out to God for Him to help us, and we don’t realise that it’s our own thoughts that are limiting God’s potential and blessings in our lives.

Then, just like the blind man, we gain a bit of insight. This can be very dangerous if we don’t recognize that we only see a part of his plan. Here’s an example: you’ve been praying God to bless you financially because you are struggling to make ends meet. Then, you end up losing your job. You may be so certain that God will give you that job back (with a raise) that you  don’t even try to search somewhere else, where God may be waiting to bless you with a job that you would have never considered otherwise. The blind man could have simply thought that humans actually did look like trees, accepted it and walked away thinking he was completely healed.

In all the accounts of Jesus’ life, I don’t think there has ever been another example of Jesus asking a person He had just healed how they are feeling afterwards. The sermon I heard suggested that Jesus asked this question to show Peter’s partial blindness to Jesus’ life purpose; Peter thought Jesus come to earth to save the Jews from the Romans. I doubt he even considered that Jesus was here, not only to save the Jews, but to save the lives of everyone who believes in him. Sometimes (although not always) God will eventually reveal to us his entire plan for certain part of our lives. God may reveal to you that He wants you to spend your life preaching to muslim people or caring for abused children. We must be careful to never focus on the fleeting moments ahead of us, but focus on God’s plans for our entire lives. This is something that I worry about quite often. I worry that I develop “tunnel vision” in my prayers; only praying for one specific type of blessing, and completely closing my mind off to other possibilities.

I pray that God opens our minds and hearts to his plan. That He helps us give up control and hand our lives completely over to Him.

Beware: Distractions Ahead!

Have you ever wanted something and prayed for God’s help because you wanted it so badly? If you are praying for something that will weaken Satan’s control, power and influence in your life (or the life of others), you can be sure that Satan will try to stop you.

A couple of nights ago, I was praying for my friend to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I had heard a sermon about how Satan will always try to stop your perseverance in prayer. Knowing this, I also prayed for God’s help in overcoming any of Satan’s devices that would try and stop me.

Like clockwork, I got a text from someone the next day that really upset me. As the conversation progressed, I felt myself getting angrier and angrier. Then, I recalled another sermon where the pastor warned the congregation about how Satan would make them angry over the simplest things. Sound familiar? Looking back, I realized I completely overreacted and we later came to a compromise to our problem. Even though we had come to a compromise, I was still a bit angry at her. When we planned on meeting up, I wanted to tell her how angry I was about what she had said. When I later saw this person, I noticed I was no longer angry. I realised the argument wasn’t as bad as I had thought.

After everything that happened, I now feel even more motivated to keep praying. It was interesting that God reminded me to “keep calm and carry on”. As someone who has anger/ control issues, I can see how much God has helped me gain patience, understanding, and forgiveness.

Make sure you don’t get distracted away from what God truly wants you to be focusing on. Remember that everyone needs to be living a God – filled life, and we shouldn’t just be going to God when we feel we are in trouble. Just like Job from the BIble, stay strong in faith no matter what life throws at you.

Sharing is Caring

Have you ever shared an item with someone, and felt happy about it afterwards?

Often, we feel like sharing an item is something we do to be nice, but don’t actually want to (especially when it comes to university students and their food). We often get so focused on our own lives and our own needs that we forget to look around and see what the needs of others are. Something that I do (which I learned about via Power to Change/ Campus for Christ) is to go throughout my university campus and go sharing; but not the typical kind of sharing. Basically, I go and share the message of Jesus Christ. And it’s not as terrifying as it sounds. You just have to be able to have a servant’s heart and a desire to help people. You don’t have to be an expert on the bible; just go out and be honest about your experiences with Jesus. God shall do the rest.

Something that is also really important is the ability to be a good listener. I try and listen to other people’s views on spiritual matters. Sometimes, all they really need is for someone to listen to them and help them feel wanted and cared for. The funny thing is that I usually feel better after sharing with someone. Sometimes I don’t actually get the opportunity to share the gospel with them, but when I do, something weird happens. It’s almost like I get spiritually recharged. While I often feel like I barely know anything about Christianity (hence my blog title), when I get the chance to share the gospel with someone, it feels like God uses every resource I’ve ever come across to share God’s love with them. Sharing the gospel is one of the few times where you actually get way more by sharing than what you originally started with. 

I still consider sharing as the way I came to know Christ. I befriended someone who did not believe in the messages of Jesus Christ, and in my sharing with him, I grew to learn about and to love God for everything that he is. Yes, it takes courage. Yes, people may find you strange. And yes, you will get better over time. I believe that God is constantly pushing each of us out of our comfort zones and helping us take leaps of faith. If someone like me can do this, trust me, anyone can. I am still extremely shy around people and tend to feel out of place in most social situation. Before I go out and try and talk to someone, I try and pray for God to give me courage and wisdom so that I can at least plant a seed in that person’s heart and I believe God will do the rest. 

I pray that God gives you the courage and wisdom to go and spread seeds in the hearts of the people around you, strangers and friends alike.