THE CHRISTIAN WALK

Fruit & Process Ongoing


 

IMG_20151209_065050So when your mum invited you back home, you reconnected with one of your cousins who was a different because his love for God was evident and he was real???? How?

Simple! His love for God was evident …he was real.

Explain real?

He knew I was into the club scene and he knew how much I spoke out against Christianity yet he still sat with me and chatted. He never dropped hints about my life and the way I was lost. He never took sides when we argued, he never pointed fingers…he was my friend like he had always been

What did he do?

He asked questions.

Really…Asked Questions?

Yes.

What kinds of questions did he ask?

Simple ones! I would be on edge about something and he would ask how the anger I was harbouring was affecting my ability to be productive and useful to those around me. It was always a simple question.

Any examples?

How does being mad with God make your life easier? So you think all Christians are fake, aren’t you applying a blanket assessment just like you accuse them of doing to you? What is the real issue you have with Christians? If you were one would you be any different?

What?!!

IMG_20151209_065023Oh sure. So I changed tact. I begun asking him about his faith and Christian walk. Was he happy? Was it as fulfilling as he hoped? Has he seen the hand of God? How did he know he was on the right track? What would he do different? Where did he want to be in the next few years? What was he working on?

Were his answers satisfactory?

Nope!!!

Why?

He was on a totally different tangent

What do you mean?

He lived his life differently. He didn’t judge, he shared all he had and he was just real.

Did you join him overnight?

Of course not! I wanted to prove I was immune to his wiles. I didn’t want to be influenced by him.

Did it work?

Not really, I realised that it wasn’t me rather it was God at work.

So it was gradual?

Well, not really, a few weeks later I woke up one day and knew that I needed to know this God who had changed the heart of this my mad cousin so drastically.

How do you explain it?

The only thing I can think about is when the disciples or is it apostles received the power of the Holy Spirit. It was so clear to those around them that they were changed and different in an instant so the people thought they were drunk early in the morning. Now think about my cousin who was all over the place doing all sorts of mad things and then suddenly he was different.

Was the turnabout total and without challenge?

IMG_20151207_093606Not at all, it took a while to deal with the past but one day it hit me that I had to make the choice to be different and live by it

So it is a choice?

It always is…you choose to follow Christ, you accept his life and you choose to align with him.

Sounds too simple

Trust me it isn’t that simple

What do you mean?

You were raised to think for yourself and do what you know is right

Sure!

However, your frame of reference is culture

No, it is the church more often than not

Yes, but it is church culture…we don’t do this or that? we don’t go here or there. We only pray this way. This is what we do every year…it is a series of works or acts that people see

Surely that is it right?

Absolutely not!

Eish….explain!

We are raised to think a certain way but when we encounter God for real he challenges all our thought processes and asks us to live our lives by faith and in total trust to him. When you must choose to lay down your own opinions and align with his spoken and confirmed word to you is when you discover the depth of the choice you must make. The choice is to follow Christ to the end of yourself and then further so that it is indeed no longer you that lives but Christ that lives in you. Where the truth of Christ at work in you is visible by the way your life is daily transformed and nothing of the material things of this world appeals anymore.

Wow! Speechless…

THE CHRISTIAN WALK

Fruit & Process – Unveiled


So, we are still talking about fruit right?

Right!

And you said we don’t all produce the same fruit right?

Yes! We all produce fruit but it won’t be identical.

Are there any fruits that we can produce alike?

In reality, all our paths should produce love, joy, peace, grace and compassion in us, however, the depth varies based on process and person.

What do you mean by process?

IMG_20151209_064614The process is the walk each of us has with God.

So how does the process affect the fruit?

Think about it this way! The things that happen in life make up our process and will determine where we get to in life. These experiences trigger responses from us and the responses produce results. The results are the fruits of our lives.

Makes sense!

Now, say you meet me one day and I am off the rails doing all those things that we say a Christian shouldn’t do and you decide I am not worth your time and walk away. Why have you walked away?

Simple…you are doing things I cannot live with.

So, the reality is that because of how I am living, my fruit shows that I am on the wrong path.

Yes…

So you scatter and we have no contact for a while because I am ‘lost’ and will ‘contaminate’ you. A few years later you meet me and I am a different person in a different space and deeper with God. how would you respond to me?

Explain…

Ok, let me use an example. You know my gal?

Sure… we met a few years ago.

IMG_20151209_064545When I met her, I was generally a good guy and she was a solid Christian girl. She didn’t give me time of day because I loved my bottle of booze and partying. Please note, I was raised in a Christian home. My family was already giving me grief about my life choices so I wasn’t shocked when she shunned me too. I loved her at first sight but I knew I wasn’t good enough for her yet I knew that she is the one for me. I also couldn’t see how it would happen unless I changed my ways.

So you changed your ways?

Of course not!

Why?

I had always said that if I changed my life it would be because I wanted to and not to make another human being happy!

But you are married to her now?

Yes…but it took time.

What do you mean took time?

Well, God had to deal with me first!

Mmmmmmmhhhhhh…why?

IMG_20151207_093606I hated everything Christian because of how the Christians around me lived their lives. I hated the way they judged me without asking why I did the things I did. I hated that they had already decided I was going to hell and nothing could help me. I hated that even my family would just send me messages that I need to come to the faith yet here was nothing attractive about their faith. I watched them live lives full of judgement and self-righteousness that I didn’t want to be party to anything they had. To me it was all rules, regulations and codes of conduct that never really changed their hearts.

Isn’t that a harsh assessment?

Well…it was true. If indeed Jesus was all they said He was and if walking with Him would transform their lives, why were they so scared to die? Why were they so scared to be without and not have a plan for tomorrow? Did they really believe that God would supply all their needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus? Why were they so concerned about the places they lived and had such high gates instead of going into the neighbourhoods and opening their doors to strangers?

Hey….wait a minute, the world isn’t as simple as it was in the days of Christ.

IMG_20151209_064536True…but why is that? Has man totally lost control? Anyway, I was so angry with Christians that I told anyone who would listen to me that there was nothing in Christianity and it was a fake religion and that they would all find themselves in hell if they weren’t careful.

No way!!!!

Oh, yes!! It got so bad that my mum banned me from family meetings and stopped discussions on all topics religion when I was around.

You mean all topics faith?

No…all topics religion!

Why?

As far as I was concerned they were all about a list of do’s and don’ts…That my friend…is religion and not faith!

Eish…explain!

How was it possible that Christ was all inclusive and the Christians were so exclusive? How was it possible that God was all love and the Christians all judgment? Why did it always have to be us and them? If they were real Christians why did they treat their workers so badly? How did they justify building big churches and houses, driving luxury cars and there were people in the locality without work, food, education etc.? How could they be Christians and they would fight in church for power to the point of factions and church splits? How could they fault, accuse and fire a pastor who chose to spend the benevolence money on the youth in the fellowship instead of the slum twenty kilometres away? I had endless reasons to discount their religion and stay away and I took each one and dug my heels in and settled for a life lived for me. After all…the Christians actually lived for themselves and their pastors and bishops but not God.

So you went on drinking and partying?

Of course!

IMG_20151208_140416In time, my mother realised that I wasn’t going to change so she allowed me back into the family fold and that is when things changed.

Why? You finally felt loved and accepted?

By them? Nope! Not a chance!

Then what?

I saw something different.

What?

I reconnected with one of my cousins and he was a different breed…a very different breed.

How?

His love for God was evident …the change in him was real. There was something about him, even before he opened his mouth that was attractive. Then after he opened his mouth…he was indeed a tool used by God.

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Is there proof of the difference in your life? Does your life truly showcase Christ?

 

THE CHRISTIAN WALK, The Simple Life

Fruit & Process


Dude…

What Daud?

You’ve been MIA John.

If you really wanted to find me you would have.

Really?

Of course!

How? You quit your job, changed your phone number, moved… Oh and did I say that you also quit social media? How could we have found you?

Did you ask my family?

Yup! Amina almost cried when she said you had gone into hiding from everyone and when I asked Baraka and he was like…who? What did you do?

I needed to get away from everyone.

Why?

They were bothering me, all were up in my business like crazy and I wanted space.

So you quit life to get away?

Sure, why not?

How is the family now?

I don’t know.

Haven’t you spoken to them?

Nope! I’m not fully back in circulation

Ok. So what’s up? Why did you call?

I have a question.

Shoot.

IMG_20151209_065050I remember you have always talked about submitting our will to God and allowing him to lead us and guide us in all our ways.

That’s Prov 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

I see you still spurt scripture? Anyway, I’m just wondering what trusting God looks like?

What do you mean?

How do you identify someone who fully trusts God? The bible talks about knowing them by their fruits…sssshhhh…don’t tell me the scripture for that one…but what fruit does someone who trusts God bear?

For the record that is Matt 7:16. Our fruit is the visible part of our lives, the outcome and outworking of our faith that is seen as proof that we are walking in God.

All that I know but how do we know the fruit?

The fruit of our walk with God is that we become more like Him.

How we become like him? Are we able to be Christ-like in everything we do? The whole do go to others, be kind…all that

Contrary to the Sunday stories and lots of the current preaching, Christ wasn’t docile when He was here and God isn’t only love.

Now you’ve lost me

Remember how we were taught in Sunday school that God is love and that is the only part we talk about? He gives us, protects us, heals us, enriches us and all the list all because He loves us.

Sure. Isn’t it true?

Well, there were other instances where Christ showed a side that didn’t seem so loving.

When?

IMG_20151208_063311He threw the traders out of the temple with a whip. He called the Pharisees a brood of vipers. He spoke harshly to the men who questioned Mary Magdalene when she washed His feet with perfume. He spoke harshly to Peter and even said get the behind me Satan as He addressed Him. God repeatedly allowed the children of Israel to be sent into captivity and be mistreated but He always sent help and salvation when they repented. Yet even as he did or allowed all this, there was nothing but love flowing out of him.

How is that possible?

When you think about these things He seems to have a split personality. Yet there’s another perspective. Does a parent or guardian allow the children to do whatever they want with no boundaries?

No!

Do the same boundaries work for each child?

Hahahaaa…no

Why are you laughing?

I’m thinking about my mother and how she tried to use the same boundaries for my sister and I. the worked for my sister but made me more rebellious.

The same is true with God. He deals with each of us in justice not judgement. He has some things that are universal but the situations in your life and mine will be different because each of us is headed down a different path based on how He created us and who He desires we become.

Mmhhhh!

The fruit we each need to produce for His honour and glory, as well as the markings we need leave behind, will determine the path we walk. Knowing this, I confidently say that trusting God is an interesting place and discussion because it is not the same for everyone. However, it is a process that comes together over time and is a big part of our growth and hence fruit.

Are you saying we don’t produce the same fruit?

Nope! Similar fruit yes but not identical. Whereas all our paths produce grace and compassion in us, the depth varies based on process and person.

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Do you know your path? Are you in a process? The fruit of your life is eagerly awaited.

THE CHRISTIAN WALK

Looking Deeper


Hi, Jean.

Hi Pat, how are you?

Amazing…you?

Outstanding!

Are you trying to out do me?

Nope! I’m just really, really good = outstanding.

How come?

Remember we were talking about how God may need to explain some things to me?

Hahaha and I told you God isn’t accountable to you!

Yes that is what you said.

Well?

This week something came to light

What?

Remember how we said we always felt that God needed to explain it all then we can conform?

Yes

Well, He explained that He doesn’t.

Ok……

Look at it this way, He created us with free will and we have the choice to align with Him or not. We can choose to respond to all the teachings we hear around us without reference to Him or we can hear and go back to Him and the word and really hear from Him all He needs from us.

Wow. How did you understand this?

I was sitting with a friend and her sharing was profound

What happened?

Well she had a breakdown and her journey to healing let her back to the foot of the cross but in a very different way from how we would have figured in the past.

What do you mean?

Well, she lost it with everyone, lost her job, family and life. She ended up in a recovery facility for almost two years to date but she is an amazing example of the faith journey.

Really?

Sure. Imagine that you have to leave your family because you realise that you are the problem. You are largely the reason things are going off track because you sabotage all the good things going around. Imagine the weight of your grief when you realise that you are where you are because of the choices you have made.

Ouch…

Yes…ouch. We all make choices daily to do or not to do things that affect our lives.

Wow.

So she had made a series of bad choices because of how she was raised but she needed to take responsibility and get her act together.

Wow! But when you say to hear and come back to God what is that?

Think about it this way, Joshua 1:8 (KJV) says “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” The premise for success in God’s scheme of things is based on our ability to remain in the word. The word of God what we hear directly from His word and Voice and not just what is spoken by the ministers on the pulpit.

You mean we need to spend time in the word for ourselves?

Of course! We grow in our faith by the daily, moment by moment connection we have with God.

That is a lot of work you know

Of course, but it is worth all the effort when you know for sure that you hear God and walk in His ways.

 

THE CHRISTIAN WALK

I learnt….


Sue, what do you me when you say that?

Say what?

You said and I quote, “I had to make a choice, remain and go mad and possibly die or leave, find myself in God then figure how to rebuild my family.”

I had to make the choice.

Why?

If I stayed I would hate myself more and more or I could leave and find healing then hopefully come back and help them

Where did you go?

I called an old friend who I hadn’t talked to for more than ten years

And she helped you out?

Not she…he

You called a male friend?

Sure

Why?

I had alienated the ladies I was certain no one would help me

Then?

Well, he listened to me for about five minutes and knew that I needed more help than he could give so asked me to wait a bit. He called me back half an hour later, gave me the name of a cab guy who would pick me up and take me to a place I could get help.

Where was that?

It was like a halfway home for recovering addicts

What?

Sure…why the shock Carol?

Well, you weren’t an addict

Well, not in the conventional sense but I was addicted to blaming people and I was severely depressed so I needed help

How long were you there?

Oh, I still live there…eighteen months later

Really

Yup!

Why?

Why not?

I don’t have anywhere to go and I still need a lot of help

How do you pay for the care and accommodation they have given you?

It is actually a free facility

How is it free?

Well, there are anonymous donors who keep the place running and I know the owner is always looking for funding to keep it open

What happened there?

I was able to sit first with a Psychiatrist who assured me that I wasn’t any more mad than the next person and all we needed to do was work through some issues. He only gave me mild muscle relaxants to rest and sleep the referred me to the counsellor

Did that help?

Oh, that is where healing started. She asked very hard questions and at the start I would throw tantrums and even throw things around the room just to get my way but she never gave it to me. I stomped my feet, cried, threatened to run away and she told me I could leave because after all I had come in voluntarily. It only made me mad. However, after about two months I suddenly realised that I was slowly changing and growing and becoming more settled in my mind and heart. I really had time to look at myself and I didn’t like what I saw at all. So I began to beg and bargain with God to change me and I would do this or that for him

Did that work?

Of course not! Don’t you know God? He doesn’t bargain with people.

So what happened?

Gradually, I learnt that God is supreme and I had to get on board and understand His love and plan for me then work with Him. I was shocked to find the transformational power of God’s love.

What do you mean?

When I begun to understand that God loves me just because…I realised just how lost I had been before.

Why?

I was raised believing that God would bless me if I did certain things and avoided other things. I believed that as long as behaved well God would bless me and the blessings would be visible and tangible. It would be in material things that everyone around me would see. It would be so evident that others would draw to be like me and follow in my steps. I never realised that I was setting myself up for failure all the time

Why?

I was basing my faith more on works than anything else. I based my depth with God on going to church, not drinking alcohol, clubbing and other similar things. I decided that I could share people’s stories as prayer items and I wouldn’t be gossip. I could talk about things with a sense of superiority and it was ok because those who know God are better than those who don’t. I defended my behaviour believing that I was right because we were many of us on the same road.

So you are saying that God doesn’t bless us for what we do?

Nope! He blesses us because he chooses to. I came across Deuteronomy 7:7-9 one day 7 “The Lord did not love you and choose you because you were greater in number than any of the other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed (bought) you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Therefore know [without any doubt]and understand that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who is keeping His covenant and His [steadfast] lovingkindness to a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

Meaning?

God loves and chooses us because He promised our father Abraham that he would. His love for us is eternal and unchanging but we have to choose to walk with Him, live in daily communion with Him and follow in His way. We must listen to His servants speak but like the Bereans of old, check everything that is taught against scripture. That way we will move in the right direction

So that is what has helped you get well?

Yes. I finally looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. I had also come to understand all I needed to do was truly trust God and allow Him to change my life. So I asked God to come into my heart and change it and make me different and the journey began.

Is it over yet?

Nope! It is a daily walk getting deeper and deeper every day.

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