Thursday, 31 July 2014

Beware of the Calm AFTER the Storm!

Here are the thoughts of someone, let's call her Margaret. :)  Does this sound familiar to any of you who have been through trials?
"Over the last half a year/year I have really struggled spiritually. The Lord's just bringing me out of it all now, and helping me to see why my relationship with Him was not as it should be. It's not that I wasn't praying or reading my Bible etc. but my enthusiasm for the Lord, my love of Him and desire to serve Him with all of my heart and life sort of felt zapped and gone. It was the worst feeling ever. Church stopped being the best part of my week and started being something I felt I did out of obligation and I hadn't felt like that since before I got saved. :( Usually it's the highlight of my week.

From Pinterest
It is when you are most passionate about serving Christ that the devil most wants to drag you down. And I don't say that to exaggerate but it's seriously what I think has been going on. I came out of trials having grown so much in my faith and so wanting to share what I was learning with others. In fact, the trials had refined me so much that I was completely different. :D Before I might have wanted to hide my light to some extent but after all that I just wanted to always be showing how the Lord had worked in my life. But then suddenly I just completley lost all that passion for serving the Lord, and felt completely distanced from Him. :( I now look back and I am sure that it was partly me struggling with new sin issues but also I think it was a spiritual attack as well. I'm so glad He's helping me get back on track again!  :D

It's so good that salvation is not reliant upon ourselves! If anything, I've learned now that a relationship with the Lord, or any relationship with anyone for that matter - friends or family - must not be dependent on emotions but rather founded upon what God says in His word. I was way too reliant on whether I "felt" like the Lord was with me rather than simply trusting that He was! And of course He has been with me all along... It was me who wasn't trusting Him. As in, I was a believer (no doubt about that!) but when you go through trials, you are made to have a complete and utter reliance upon the Lord that draws you to Him in a really close and intimate way, so that when the trials stop and life returns to normal, your relationship with Him can start to feel hum-drum too, and you have to deal with your own subtle sins that have crept in in the meantime."
 It is so true that when we come out of a trial or trials, we have to be especially on our guard as the devil wants nothing more than to stop us witnessing about God's faithfulness towards us even in the darkest periods of our lives. As it says in 1 Peter 5:6-10: 
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."
This is as true as much towards the end of trials as it is during them. At the end of a trial, God has often shaped us and taught us a lot that we wouldn't have learned as quickly any other way (one of many reasons why He may allow trials in our lives!). When we come out of the trial, it is all to easy to let down our guard with the thought that "Phewf, the worst is over now!" Instead, we can end up disregarding the exhortation in Ephesians 4:27 and allow the devil to get a foothold in our lives. Don't be like this, dear readers! Keep trusting Him in the bad times AND the good! 

The calm after a storm can be deceptive: we still need to be proactive in serving God, no matter the circumstances. Furthermore, as said in Margaret's narration above, there is a very real danger that we can become far too reliant on "feelings" and whether or not we "feel" God's presence with us. God can use trials to draw us nearer to Him in a very special way, and to foster an intimate relationship with Him. Personally, I've found that the Lord feels very close to me during the hardest days where life seems to be falling apart and I am made to rely wholly upon Him. But when we are not in the midst of a trial and all is well with the world, it is far too easy to slip into feeling despondent and like God is far from us, and even easier to neglect spending adequate time with Him. Reader, if you are saved by the grace of God and feel this way or like Margaret, PAY NO HEED TO THOSE FEELINGS. Our feelings may wax and wane, but God's love towards you never does: indeed, He sent His very Son to die in your place so how much more would He continue to watch over you? Just check out Romans 5! How can you doubt Him when He has just proved Himself faithful through the most trying of circumstances? If you are not saved, why not begin reading God's word. Having Him as your heavenly Father is the best possible relationship you could ever have!

God bless! Hopefully this challenges and encourages you all! You are all in my prayers! <3

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Book Review: Joni & Ken: An Untold Love Story

Joni & Ken: An Untold Love StoryJoni & Ken: An Untold Love Story by Ken Tada
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:

This is the true love story of Joni and her husband of 30 years, Ken Tada. A love story showing what it truly means for a man and a woman to live in love ... in sickness and in health. Even the honeymoon wasn't easy. Did Ken realize what he was getting into when he proposed to Joni, a quadriplegic woman? As their marriage years moved on, Ken became increasingly overwhelmed by the never-ceasing demands of caring for Joni, who begins to experience chronic, extreme, nightmarish pain. Ken sinks into depression, and the couple finds themselves on parallel tracks in life, married and living under the same roof but drifting apart emotionally. But as they fight for their marriage and find their way through the mazes of depression and pain, they wrap their two lives around their rock---Jesus. During Ken's denial of Joni's diagnosis, and Joni's thoughts of how wonderful a quick exit to heaven would be, they experience a personal visitation with the savior you will never forget.

My Review:

This book was a really good reminder to trust in the Lord through all the trials that come in a marriage relationship: in both the big and the small things. It was a very convicting read and showed the importance of allowing the Lord to change our attitudes in our relationships with other people. While not my favourite book about/by Joni (this one was co-authored by her husband, Ken) as I found the third-person narration, while necessary due to the two-person authorship, not as readable. Still, this book is more than worth a read! :)

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Elisabeth Elliot on Loneliness

Some good and godly wisdom from Elisabeth Elliot's book Passion and Purity on how to respond to loneliness. Loneliness is something that the Lord calls many of us to go through at some stage in our lives, and my prayer is that if anyone out there is suffering from loneliness, this would help you look to the Lord. :)
"Be still and know that He is God. When you are lonely, too much stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying waste to your soul. Use that stillness to quiet your heart before God. Get to know Him. If He is God, He is still in charge.

Remember that you are not alone. 'The Lord, He it is that doth go with thee. He will not fail thee neither forsake thee. Bestrong and of good courage.' (Deut. 31:8) Jesus promised His disciples, 'Lo, I am with you always.' (Matt. 28:20) Never mind if you cannot feel His presence. He is there, never for one moment forgetting you.

Give thanks. In times of my greatest loneliness I have been lifted up by the promise of 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18, 'For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal wait of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.' This is something to thank God for. This loneliness itself, which seems a weight, will be far outweighed by glory.

Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.

Accept your loneliness. It is one stage, and only one stage, on a journey that brings you to God. It will not always last. 

Offer up your loneliness to God, as the little boy offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes. God can transform it for the good of others.

Do something for somebody else. No matter who or where you are, there is something you can do, somebody who needs you. Pray that you may be an instrument of God's peace, that where there is loneliness you may bring joy."
God bless!