Asking and Giving

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I thought I’d share my quiet time this evening.

 

I have no doubt that God has been bringing up the topic of asking, seeking and knocking lately

I first read the story of the persistent widow which was highlighted and I came across again and a day or two later it was Matthew 7

Ask, Seek, Knock

And this morning John 15; Remaining in Christ and as disciples who abide in Christ; it is expected that we should bear much fruit and that whatever we ask the father he will do.

There is that word again: Ask.

We probably ask God for many things from  a good day, to blowing all our troubles away. At some point in our lives we have asked God for things, and God wants us to ask him But I have something to admit.. for a long time I was scared of asking God for personal things that weren’t exactly a priority. Depending on how much I needed it I would only ask for it. I wouldn’t dear ask for a single desire of my heart if it had nothing to do with God’s kingdom.

I didn’t want to seem selfish or even give God the opportunity to disappoint me by asking too much. So I would shove my needs deep within and pretend like they weren’t there or I was just too selfish.  Despite the tears I would still say this thinking and believing that they were desires and needs that didn’t go into the list of things that could be cast on God. As though all of a sudden he would stop caring about me if I brought it up but how silly of me. Hasn’t God heard it all? Doesn’t he search the heart and examine the mind? I wanted to appear righteous and self-sufficient before the one who is my righteousness and provider.

 

 ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’ Jeremiah 31:3

During my quiet time in the morning the word ahava would pop into my thoughts every now and then. I knew beforehand that it meant love/beloved in hebrew but I wanted to do more research on it.  Reading Romans 8 and it is about God’s everlasting love. I found the root word for ahava is hav and hav means ‘give’ in english. A funny aspect of the root word Hav is that it sounds like the English ‘have’. It made me ponder how to truly have is to give. The King James Version of 1 Corinthians 13 calls love: Charity and Charity is the act of giving . The giving of help and an attitude of leniency or kindness. It also goes full circle in its meaning by meaning beloved.

It dawned that the reason God loves a cheerful giver is because he himself is a cheerful giver

‘he did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not with him graciously give us all things?’ Rom 8:32

For God loved the world that he gave his only son
John 3:16

We see that this is a consistent trait in God’s character that he gives because he loves and because God is love and his spirit lives within the believer, he has commanded and enabled us to love one another. I thought to myself that God wants us to see the bigger picture, that love isn’t this here today and gone tomorrow emotion, or the butterflies you feel after a worship sesh, but it is an action, the act of giving. That when he loves on us by giving us all that we need, it is to move us to give to others. To love how he has loves us.

The lives of early believers was a life marked by love for one another. Jesus said in John 13:35

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

What did the early church do?

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people.

Acts 2: 42, 44-47

The word shared pops up 4 times. They got that love wasn’t a whimsical emotion but an action, an action that is marked in giving, and giving generously and cheerfully.

While reminding me of the confidence I have to approach God with any request and to believe he will do it; I’ve learnt just as much about his grace and the same grace he shows us we must show to others if we love him

On to the question is it ok to ask God for a partner, a home, a trip abroad, material and passing things?

Yes it is

But they should never be more of a priority than seeking him and his kingdom first.

We can ask for wisdom and God will give it to us, this applies to our prayers because God will answer our prayers according to his will and what pleases him

What pleases God?

Faith

God knows everything that we need. And he says that in seeking his kingdom first everything else shall be added. To delight in him and he will give us the desires of our hearts, he knows what we need before we even ask, and he says he will answer our prayers before we even finish asking (Isaiah 65:24)

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Matt 7:11

I’m in love

I’m in love
And for the first time in a long time
I know what it is like to have butterflies Like chandeliers
Hang gliding
Off of starry skies

I don’t know in what other way to describe this feeling
Besides it being like walking pass a hedge of thorns and obscuring leaves
Not finding a way out for miles
Then there’s that opening
Revealing the tender heart of the Secret Garden

In all its mischief
And in all its glory

I see the sun’s light shining through

Approval

approval

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?

Galatians 1:10

I am not too sure when I decided to start sitting on the far side of Church, where all the other students were, but convincing myself to sit with everyone else probably went along the lines of this:

Stop being so guarded all the time. Open up a bit, be friendly and sit where they are sitting.

So that Sunday rather than take a seat on the other side of the room from everyone else; I peered around to see if there was a free seat or even a face I noticed to the right of the hall. Feeling quite alien taking steps towards the other half of the auditorium I sat down, hoping no one would notice but I was met with smiles and brief hugs. I was accepted. The weeks that followed every Sunday I felt comfortable sitting with them, I will turn up to Church or any sort of gathering knowing that they would be there.

Then one day I no longer felt accepted, one day I no longer felt approved and shrunk back into my anonymity yet still wanting (way too much) to feel like I belonged, despite my bitter and insecure heart I continued to hang around desperate for their attention and to feel like I was part and not apart, to be with and not without.

And the question was finally asked, “Tosin, when did you stop going to Church to worship God?”

I had finally noticed it in the way I stopped singing from my heart, the way prayer barely escaped my soul. How chunks of sermons would return to me like shreds of paper that formed disjointed sentences. All the verses such as Galatians 1:10, Proverbs 29:25, John 5:44 and especially Jeremiah 17:5 that would pop up every now and then during quiet times were becoming clear. Like Jesus to the blind man, I was regaining my sight yet the people still looked like trees. My heart and mind had wondered away from my first love, and like a lighthouse in the distance his word spread throughout the darkness of my mind, ‘Come back to me’ (Joel 2:12).

I was confused and angry, angry that I wanted their approval so much, confused about what I do when I go to Church. (Yes it was that bad)

The Holy Spirit would remind me to go back to what you did at first. (Revelations 2:5)

“What did I do at first? Sit by myself again? Be the lone wolf? Oh no, Abba I can’t go back to that…” then he would remind me of what I said back when I was in first year of uni, a romantic and wishful me that said “Jesus, even if I don’t make any friends this year, I have you and that is what matters” and it would all flood back how I did absolutely nothing for people to like me and how God just brought the right people into my life and removed the wrong people. Though some days were filled with hours of a wrenching loneliness, a need to feel wanted and heard they were quickly met with joy and an invite not only to spend time with Abba but some more of his kids, who took a liking to me I do not know how. I was less stressed and didn’t care what others thought of me. I had a embarrassing zeal that shouted through opened windows and rooftops, “I belong to Jesus!”.

“But what if someone asks questions? What if they do notice that I am not hanging around them often? What if they think I am just being a hater?” I debated within myself.

“They, They, They! Isn’t it what I think about you that really matters?!” said the one who affirms me.

The following Sunday I stayed to the left of the auditorium, like a child on time-out I sat down with those who were unfamiliar and much older; often leaving for a few weeks without branching off at the end of the service towards the familiar to say hi. Something returned to me that I thought had died, though there were a whole load of other issues going on and occasionally I would return to sit with the students of the Church, it finally came back and it was zeal.

Seeking the approval of people and not of God’s I found kills your joy and zeal  but what I didn’t realise at the time was that we often seek the approval of others when we don’t believe or know what God says about us. We  look at ourselves and others in the same way that we see ourselves or look to others to find who we are and what we are worth. People become something to be feared because our hope is in them rather than in God and people make great friends, partners and colleagues but they make terrible gods.

We won’t speak up about certain issues or things that pain or bother us, maybe it is the other way around and we do outrageous things for likes and retweets, a selfie a day, titles and awards, people we met or worked with thrown about so that others may verify us, sometimes it could be dumping our baggage on others, maybe we play out stereotypes and indulge in ignorance and ‘ do as the Romans do’ just so that we don’t feel alone, just so to quiet the voices in out head that say we aren’t worth anything and cling and make gods of those who give us the slightest bit of attention, but nothing can fill that hole besides the one true God, Yahweh.

I think we can often talk about approval as though it were a Christian-Unbeliever problem but it happens even in the Church, even as a Christian to other Christians, we seek their approval so desperately because we do not believe the approval we now have through Christ Jesus. There is this damning thought that boils within a mind that has built it’s house on sand; that unless other Christians accept me, God won’t and as a result, we watch what we say, is it Christian enough? What we do or what we join and what we agree/disagree with just to get a few ratings and likes that will be here today and gone tomorrow. I can say the people no longer look like trees walking around, I can see now that the time when I was forgotten and overlooked by others was all God’s doing. He wanted me to come back, he wanted me to spend time with him again, he wanted me to cast all my cares and worries on him lest I enslave myself once more chasing after people.

It dawned on me today that the reason I didn’t believe God accepted me was because I didn’t know any verses that told me that I was. I have a saviour who says he will never cast me out (John 6:37), I have been accepted by Christ (Romans 15:17) and I was chosen before the world began, predestined to be part of God’s family and that God WANTED  and was HAPPY to choose me. (Ephesians 1:3-6) because of Jesus,  I am 100% approved! 

 

Yours sincerely

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List

You know I wrote a list for you
I said things like
He’s admirable and kind
Kinda goofy but cool
Foolish but never rude
Like max I liked that
You knew I wrote a list for you
Speaking out every misconception
Like inception
My dreams went crazy for you

I said stuff like respectful
And with tears in my eyes
I said stuff like respectful
And I can’t read the rest
Because I am reading torn pieces

For every time I gave up on you
That list turned into 2
But I still didn’t have the guts
To throw it all into the sea of waste

So with every bitter thought
That list will part into 4
Until I was looking at shredded hands

That had no meaning

I can sometimes make up a stand, a think and a film
But as meaningful as vanities get
such as this feeling of regret

There is one thing I left out from the time of heated anger

‘Even though he may be known to not be all of these things. God still loves him.’

Going to the gym: Lust

If you are a Christian you have probably heard the term.

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling

Philippians 2:12

This verse has often puzzled many Christians including myself. If my salvation was a matter of grace through faith and if sanctification (the process of being made holy) is all God’s doing what is there to work out and why should we fear and tremble if he ‘Has not given [us] a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind’ 2 Timothy 1:7

Jon Bloom of Desiring God draws on the comparison of election and evidence of election.

God gives those he chooses to the son (election) and those he chooses, follow him (evidence of election) and ‘Those who have been born into God’s family (election) do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. (Evidence of election)’ 1 John 3:9

Just as James tells us faith without works is dead. (James 2:14-26) It is the same as having a salvation with no fruit being dead.

(Remember we do not earn our salvation, this is given freely by God but rather our changed hearts lead to good works that become evidence that we have been saved.)

In this post today I am going to be as blunt as blunt can be.

I am going to talk about Lust and not the irrational desire for something that isn’t yours (covetousness) but as John Piper writes in his ANTHEM article, “the realm of thought, imagination, and desire that leads to sexual misconduct.”

Continue reading

When I am afraid…

We often choose sin because we believe that God can’t please us, we believe that those couple of seconds giving over to worry, pride, lust, greed and unrighteous anger would help us rather than God and in a way it is us saying to God I don’t really trust you

When I am afraid, I will trust in you
psalm 56:3

There is no mystery behind this verse. David conquers his fear of man, fear of the future, all his fears by choosing to trust in God instead.

Trusting God can also be repentance. It is also a turning away from sin, our broken cisterns, our idols (games, friends, careers, family, partners, ambitions, shows, sports, food and even other God’s) and this turning should turn us towards him as the one who will start and complete our faith.

Will we trip up sometimes?
Of course! as long as we are in these bodies, but once the Holy Spirit is in you and with you everyday he is working in you to want to do God’s will and this can’t be obtained through our own strength because the salvation God offers was never a matter of something we earn, you can’t read your bible into salvation, go to church so much into salvation because he gives it to us freely all we do is repent ( so turn from sin, broken cisterns and idols and turn back to God) and believe in the one he sent. And who is the one he sent?

It is is Jesus Christ, the precious lamb of God!

God says about him, that he has picked no one else, whose name that men can call on and be saved.

God reassures us time and time again that if we believe in his son, if we really believe, he offers us eternal life, he offers a crown to those who endure and remain faithful to him, he offers treasures that never spoil or fade.

God through Christ Jesus offers a greater joy than what family, spouses, friends and self could ever give. He offers a hope that exceeds all hopes and dreams, he offers a romance that no man and woman can measure up to.

So today I encourage you to ask yourselves as I am asking myself

Do I really believe with all my heart, soul and strength?

Do I believe that God is who he says he is?

Today will I pick God and his promises that are unending and offer me joys forevermore or will I go for the un-satisfying mud pie that is sin?

Nothing is impossible for him and he is always showing us which way to turn to even when things get confusing because he is faithful even when we are faithless.

Make sure to speak to God today guys and this isn’t a ‘thank you God for my family or make things better, amen’

but really speak to him as you would a best friend nothing is hidden from him and he wants to come into our lives and make things better but only if we are willing to have him come and listen to him when he does speak to us. I will be praying we have blessed and anointed day today filled with the power and glory of God

And make sure to speak out loud that psalm over yourselves today

‘WHEN I AM AFRAID, I WILL TRUST IN HIM! ‘

Passion and Purpose: Becoming Beautiful Part 2

20140518-225941-82781328.jpg A year after Becoming Beautiful Part 1, finally here is part 2! It is quite interesting how there is quite a gap between this post and the last. So what have I learnt since then? That some days I love everything about me, from my dark skin, this coiled hair and this height. Even the things I don’t love so much about me like my thighs, lips, nose and overall quirkiness. And other days I really dislike these things about myself.. Especially the things deep down inside like my heart and mind. Do I still struggle with not comparing myself to others? I guess the answer for me right now is simple… I do and I still believe the lie that if only I dressed better, looked prettier then maybe I would be noticed, maybe I won’t feel overlooked and insecure yet other days I am so content in God and who he has made me to be, I forget everything else. God has really been teaching me something about time and beauty, through spring this year. Everything really does have its time and place to shine and then eventually it fades. (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Early spring quite a lot of trees had white blossoms, now in May they have all faded away and have become hard to find. But all the trees that hadn’t blossomed earlier in the season on are now the best of all. However, having said that soon autumn will come and their leaves will fall and this cycle repeats over and over again every year without fail. Why as women are we so caught up on beauty? and is there a beauty that never fades and I look back to the story of Esther.

esther-view-iiQueen Esther

Even though God blessed her with physical beauty, without a doubt she probably had her ugly duckling moments growing up. I could imagine she had a time where she hadn’t quite blossomed yet in terms of beauty and character, and it would have been all part of God’s plan, to bloom at such a time as that all in order to get her in position to save a nation. For those not familiar with the story of Esther, long story short God uses Esther to save the Jews from a mass genocide ordered by Haman, the king’s wicked advisor. One thing that stood out to me in the book of Esther was that when the king was looking for a new wife, all the women chosen had to go through a year of beautifying. Esther probably didn’t just work on her outside appearance but as one of God’s chosen people, she clothed herself with compassion, sprayed herself with kindness, for shoes wore humility, as jewellery, gentleness and for her make up? Patience. (Colossians 3:12) Esther wins the favour of everyone at the palace because of her kindness and her willingness to listen to others and the very obvious fact that when God needs to get you somewhere, he will open those doors! All you have to be is willing and obedient to him. So when it is finally her turn to be with the king, she takes nothing with her except what the Eunuch who was overseeing her suggests. Esther eventually gains the king’s favour, so much so that he makes her queen out of every other woman, with a good chance that these other women could have quite possibly been more physically attractive than her. When you walk humbly with God, you will even find the favour of kings and queens. As it says in Proverbs 3: 3-4:

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!

Tie them around your neck as a reminder.

Write them deep within your heart.

Then you will find favor with both God and people,

and you will earn a good reputation.

Esther had a good reputation not because of how beautiful she was but it was because her character was that thing that made her different to every other woman the king had ever been with: especially his ex, Vashti! There was something about Esther and it was that she was a light in the palace, so everyone around her noticed her because of it. When you belong to God, when you stick by him and the more you grow in christ-likeness; ladies you will exhibit a light, there will be such a glow to you that let’s people know that you aren’t like everyone else, you give off a sweet smelling fragrance to God and those who are being saved (2 Corinthians 2:15).

People are drawn to you and they want to know why?! but you know deep down it has always been because of God’s glory around you (Zechariah 2:5).

But when you don’t know who you are in Christ, when you don’t believe fully that he has approved and accepted you; you’ll spend so much time being someone God never made you to be. Going back and forth from insecurity to insecurity, because your security isn’t found in him but in your own achievements rather than what God achieved through Jesus on the cross. So it eventually becomes more about what you have materially and how much of it do you have to fill this void and answer  the questions that have been bothering you. You take your eyes of Christ and all you see is yourself, your shortcomings and your problems rather than to God, his victories in your life and his promises. Deep down inside you feel miserable and you don’t love yourself and you aren’t too sure about who you are, but since everyone else is doing it and it seems to be working for them you continue to find your identity in things that never satisfy and will fade away.

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The Proverbs 31 Woman

‘Charm is deceptive and beauty does not last, but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.’ Proverbs 31:30

Being the most charming and most beautiful woman won’t do anything for my character and my heart as I explained in the previous post, just like a flower, physical appearance will sooner or later wither away but one thing that won’t change, that will continue to stay constant is the word of God, this spring of water that wells up from within giving eternal life, the sweet smelling aroma of one who belongs to Christ. What is important is the beauty that never fades, and it is the beauty of a ‘gentle and quiet spirit’ (1 Peter 3:4). God values this and God says this is what works, this is what matters contrary to what society shows us through billboards, adverts and shows. In this stage of my life, there is still a lot of pruning going on and a lot of things being worked out and I am slowly but surely learning that as young women belonging to Christ, how good we look or what we wear isn’t the be all and end all, God has so much to offer us, there is a joy to truly live out a life of christ-likeness. There is a beauty that we can look to now and can be confident in. When your eyes are finally off self and onto him the giver of our lives, you will recognise these bodies will soon go away with all its glory, that it isn’t our bodies or our beauty or even charm that gets us places but it is all God’s favour. What is on the inside will show on the outside. So for beautiful eyes look to Christ the author and finisher of your faith and bask at his beauty, be in awe of his glory. For beautiful lips, let your lips overflow with praise, for beautiful hands be kind, serve others. For a beautiful mind, fear Yahweh because it is the beginning of wisdom, learn more about him because it is understanding and finally for a beautiful heart love God with all your heart, mind and strength and Love your neighbour as yourself, trust him and Christ will make his home in your heart.

Yours

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#CanIBragOnMyKIng

For the past 3 months I was going around acting all bitter with God because everything was happening for everybody but it seemed like nothing was going right for me, life seemed stagnant and joyless and I was like God has forgotten about me, he doesn’t care but all the while he did remember me, he never forgot and if anything during my lowest he was loving on me even more

Last year summer God opened up a crazy amount of doors I am only seeing the fruit of now. I kept on praying for God to give me an internship and by his spirit he kept on reminding me that he has already provided it and last month I had the opportunity to intern and work for some people I never imagined I would work for and even some big brands I’ve only ever jokingly said with friends I’d like to work for but never thought it would actually happen but it has and he did and it is crazy how God works!

Most of all be available to him and to others. This opportunity came about all because God encouraged me to just go up and make friends with someone, there is a lot of opportunities in just being sincere and friendly with people not as a way to get what you want but because you take a genuine interest in people!

So this is just a little morning encouragement guys to always persist in prayer. Believe that whatever you have been asking God for has already been done (Isaiah 65:24), he has no problem in meeting your needs, he wants to and he will!

And I will say it again…
God has NOT forgotten about you!

He hears and he sees you and he is at work at this very moment working out everything for the good of those who love him, those who have been called according to his purpose! (Romans 8:28)

He won’t leave you alone

God is crazy faithful and absolutely good! He loves and cares about you! So don’t stop praising him for all that he has done and all that he will do! Keep on soaking up his word and continue to go before him with everything!

I will write at some point more about the internship and what God had done but this has been a brag post by yours truly about him faithfully!

Tosin

Quest For Love

You know when something is on your heart.

That we as people are so fragile and so lonely

but we communicate to one another in grunts and moans that keep hidden our insecurities

 

I’m fine

I’m good

but what we really mean is

 

will he ever notice me?

will she ever care for me?

 

looking hard for Love’s beat

under broken shells of fantasy

 

So we do weird things like carrying ourselves

from one room to another

one bed into the other

like Goldilocks

finding the one that is

just right

and it is this insistence

to want to be wanted

that we rush to take our time

So before we make it to the door

we are mauled

by the claws

of broken-heartedness

keeping hidden in dreams

that manifest into self-centerdness

 

How desires can quickly turn into idols

pouring our hearts into men

who drain us of worth

 

that to casually suggest

‘I am worthless’

is commonplace in the mouths of young adults

 

 

When you find it

and once you have it

you realise that they don’t make you as happy as you thought

so we practise the speech

‘I’m sorry, it’s you not me…

oh sorry I meant it’s me not you.’

 

is that the way it is supposed to be

How we rehearsed from TV

 

and the quest begins

slipping into delicate things

displaying precious things

for all eyes to see

 

Putting ourselves out there like bait

early bird catches the worm

they say

but have we ever thought that maybe

it was flappy bird crashing

 

because oh

I was so lonely

and he was there

and even though there is nothing long term

he is  Mr.Right…. for now

 

scratching each other’s feet

in lust’s play of games

cause no one really showed us

what it meant to play love’s game

if she did ever play games

 

but we knew once as children

I think

if you were one of the lucky one’s

who didn’t fall too early

under lust’s deceit

by curious hands

that were never taught

that to play with fire

should come with the expectation of being burned

 

So we go through the nights

out and about

using one another to

prove something

that was proven 2,000 years ago

 

3 nails and a cross

a resurrection

and an ascension

 

proved

how desired

how wanted

how precious we are

 

to the very Darling of Heaven

 

I am desired

I am wanted

I am precious

 

to the very Darling of Heaven

 

but why do I struggle to believe this ?

and what is it, that is within me

that will make my feet wander

to broken cisterns

 

and I sometimes think

that it might be the appeal of remaining in a town with every kind of meat

that makes me forget the run down well with no water in the town centre

than wandering the desert and having only manna

 

but what joylessness

what wretched sorrow for those who remain

today I choose to embark on this quest for love

and I hope you will join me too

but even if I should go it alone

his grace is sufficient

his power is best displayed in my weakness