THE CHRISTIAN WALK

SHALL WE DANCE?


God is our ultimate love and the greatest joy in our lives. He created us as social beings and He guides us through the people around us. God is our balance in life and this balance happens when we spend time with Him. He will speak to us, challenge us, and provide the insight needed to know who to approach and who to stay away from. He will lead us and walk with us even in the hardest places and in the nicest places. He won’t leave us alone; He will be our comfort and leader. He is consistently walking with us; the harder paths are manageable because of His grace, leading and peace. He is our ever present help! He is with us no matter whether it is sunny, smooth sailing or in the middle of the valley of the shadow of death.

I have found Him with me even in times when I don’t know how to go ahead. I have looked back and seen He was by my side when I was walking in the deepest darkness. I have known Him when I was lonely and lost. I have known Him in the times of greatest joy. I have known His hand in the middle of the storm or in the deepest fear. I have seen His provision when I didn’t know where to go. I have understood His purpose in hindsight even when the process wasn’t what I had anticipated.

When He says ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you,’ He means it in ways our human hearts cannot even begin to understand. The only way to unpack what He means is to spend time with Him; to find our individual rhythm with Him.

Finding our rhythm in God is a call to dance; a call to dance with the maker. Imagine that…Dancing with our maker! This call is out of this world. It is the call to find and live out our full potential. It is the call to live joyful and content all our days in spite of and despite whatever is going on around us. It is a call to do all the things set out for us, the way that is set out and with those we are set out to walk with. It is a call to see the world as He sees it and respond to it as He desires we do. It is a call to understand that there is no greater way to live life than to live it for Him.

This dance of life isn’t business as usual. It isn’t the thing you have always done and the way you have always lived. It is intentional living and moving according to instruction. It is finding the right path and walking in it. It is a deliberate choice to understand His heart for you and to know that you are important to Him. It is the focus to make it to the established place in His scheme of things.

As we approach this dance, we need to ask ourselves pertinent questions:

  1. Do we know what dance we are in? There are many types of dance like breakdance, hip hop, ballet, ballroom dancing, traditional dancing…the list is endless. Each type of dance demands specific skills and dedication. This begs several questions; Are we in a definite relationship with God? Have we accepted His offer of salvation? We cannot dance with Him if we haven’t made the choice to walk with Him and remain in a committed relationship with Him because we won’t be on the same page.
  2. Do we have the right shoes? Shoes are critical to dancing! One cannot tango in ballerina flats or breakdance in two-inch heels or ice skate without the right boots. The wrong shoes make dancing challenging and impossible. They also make it easy to fall and get injured. The right shoes make or break our capacity to dance just like the right attitude of the heart makes or breaks our lives. Does the desire to dance closely with our maker make us ensure our hearts are right with God? Do we have a relationship with God? Can we stand tall in faith? Are we certain that we are connected with God for life?
  3. Are we in tune with the music? A wise friend recently said that we tune to the music, the music doesn’t tune to us. This means that the music won’t change itself because we cannot keep time. The music won’t change from Lingala to the waltz just because I waltz during a Lingala song. One can’t decide to do techno moves to a Lingala song without looking totally confused. Being in tune with God is like being in tune with the music. It will enable us to receive instructions and encouragement. Being in tune with God means that we are better able to accomplish what concerns us. Are we in tune with God’s voice, heart and ways?
  4. Are we in sync with our dance partner? Dance partners must move together or do a terrible dance routine. Dance partners cannot be out of sync because it will cause all kinds of challenges. Imagine that there is a technical lift or jump and the two dancers are not moving together. The lead could spin out of line and not catch their partner leading to a fall and possibly catastrophic injury. Being in synch comes from spending time together practicing; going over the moves, repeatedly until they are second nature. How much time do we spend with our beloved so that we are in total sync? Do we understand the heart of our God? Do we know who He is and how He leads? Do we know His voice? Do we understand His heart and His passions? Do we trust Him to catch us, move in time with us, to speed us up in preparation for a special move or slow us down to heal? Are we in sync with Him?
  5. Are we looking at our partner? When dancing with a partner, it is important to keep eye contact and not look around or there will be mishaps and missteps. Are we focused on our partner or are our eyes wondering  what others have? Are we thinking about the next move or about the things we haven’t received or want and don’t know how to get? Do we trust him even in a particularly hard turn or He has to throw us in the air? Do we trust Him to catch us? Do we spot our turns with Him?
  6. Do we need to learn some new moves? Keeping on track means that we are constantly learning and changing and getting better. Are we at the very best or can we improve? Are there moves that would dramatically improve our dance abilities? Who can teach us and upgrade us? Who is the inspiration for the next level of growth? Do we listen to our partner and follow carefully?

Shall you dance? Will you step up to this intense love relationship that God is offering? I know I have and I will.

THE CHRISTIAN WALK

In Him


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Good morning Joan

Good morning Sue. God bless you.

Why do you always say that?

Say what?

God bless you.

Is something wrong with that?

No, it’s just odd.

What’s odd about blessing someone?

It’s just not usual.

When was I ever usual?

Well, when you put it like that…but why do you bless people?

I know that we all need as much help as we can get to make it in life so I do my best.

Does it work? Do people feel blessed?

I don’t know because I don’t have control over people’s feelings and actions after I say it.

So if you don’t know, isn’t it a waste to say things like that?

Why would it be a waste?

There are words you have just sent out that will not earn you anything.

Is life all about earning something?

I think life is all about earning something.

Why?

Why else would we be here.

Explain!

We are here to take charge and control of the world so we must earn our place in life.

Mmmhhh!

Don’t you agree?

I don’t know what you mean by take charge and control of the world.

We are the smartest animal alive…we are in control right?

Are we?

We were told in Genesis to be fruitful, multiply and have dominion over the earth. So that means we have control.

Not necessarily.

What do you think it means?

I believe it means that God has control and we must connect to what He sent us here to do and do it well.

How do we do that?

Quite simple really! Get to know God, know His voice, hear His instructions and life them out.

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That sounds too simple. Isn’t following God more complex?

Why do you think that?

There are all these rules that we are to follow and they determine how we will get to heaven or not.

What rules? Isn’t salvation a call for us to believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths then we are saved?

It is but there are rules of living given after that?

Given by whom?

The church!

Ok. I believe that following God is all about relationship and spending time with Him and the word. There are critical things He will lead us to do that will be in conformity with others and there are things he will calls us to avoid but it has to be His voice we follow and not just rules and regulations from the church.

What do you mean? Don’t the preachers all speak for God?

Do they?

I am asking you.

I believe that we all need to hear God and test every teaching we hear against the word of God.

What do you mean?

Remember when Paul spoke about the Bereans?

Yes!

In Acts 17:11 Paul said the Bereans “were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” The Bereans heard the gospel from Paul and Silas who were among the original spreaders of the gospel. Imagine that they would search the gospel to confirm the truth of what was being taught how much more should me.

Mhhhhh!

Think of Jesus who was on earth and was God, yet He spent time away in prayer and listening to His Father for instructions. Why do you think he would do that?

So that He would stay in tune with God.

If Christ Himself said, “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me,” how can we believe any different? Don’t we need to rest in the knowledge that we know nothing and daily seek God and His word? Shouldn’t we refuse to move on in our own strength and knowledge and only follow him? Shouldn’t we focus on the depth of relationship and love with Him that will transform us and produce Christ-likeness in us to such an extent that we are undoubtedly examples of God’s love to all. Shouldn’t we test everything we hear and live outstanding lives of love and compassion and grace? In all honesty, no amount of teaching from the pulpit will ever produce Christ-likeness.

What do you mean by, “No amount of teaching will produce Christ-likeness?”

It’s simple. There is nothing a fellow human being can tell you that will eternally transform your life unless God comes in, creates understanding and produces that change. The only lasting change in life comes from God.

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So why do we listen to preachers or go to church?

Well, first we are called to share in the fellowship of believers and church on Sunday isn’t the only place this happens. Second, the fellowship should speak to conversations we have been having with God on our own on a daily basis. It should enrich and answer our questions or create new deeper questions for us to ask God. Third, fellowship should provide relationships with others who hold us accountable to our walk in Christ but don’t lord their knowledge over us. Fourth, fellowship is a place for learning together and sharing our lessons. It is a place to inspire us to love God deeper and more keenly as we encourage those who are walking slower.

So you are saying church isn’t the main ingredient in faith?

No! The main ingredient in the Christian faith should be our personal relationship with God. Everything else we do supplements that faith.

What does this relationship look like?

It is a love relationship.

Meaning?

Remember how when you fell in love and all you could focus on was your beloved? You thought about him all the time, you called and talked often, when something great happened you reached out, when something ‘bad’ happened you reached out, you sent cards, bought gifts, shared everything and so on?

Yes! It was a great time.

Do you still keep things like that?

Of course! How else would we be able to still be in love all these years later?

Now, think about God!

Ok!

He is our ultimate love and the greatest joy in our lives. How much more and how much deeper do we need to connect with Him? He should be our first point of call when things happen. He should be the one we tell everything and ask everything. He should be our guide and our most beloved. He should be our all.

If God is all that, why do we need people around us? Can’t we just live in isolation and listen to Him only?

He created us as social beings and He guides us through the people around us. How often have you been in the middle of something and God brings someone to mine and when you reach out that person has part of or the whole answer you need? Or you are in the middle of something and someone calls you with just the right word or question that will trigger you finding the solution?

Very often!

Then why would we want to remain outside community?

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Ok, so where is the balance in all this?

God is the balance!

How?

It all happens when we spend time with Him. He will speak to us and challenge us on things; He will provide the insight needed to know who to approach and who to stay away from. He will lead us and walk with us even in the hardest places and in the nicest places. He won’t leave us alone; He will be our comfort and leader. We will find balance and rest.

Does that mean life will be smooth sailing?

Not necessarily, but because He is walking with us, the harder paths will be manageable because of His grace, leading and peace that is ever with us.

Ever present help in time of need?

I like to say ever present help! He is with me no matter whether it is sunny and smooth sailing or if I am in the middle of the valley of the shadow of death.

Wow! Are you serious?

Absolutely! I have found Him with me even in times when I don’t know how to go ahead. I have looked back and seen Him by my side when I was walking in the deepest darkness. I have known Him when I was lonely and lost. I have known Him in the times of greatest joy. When He says ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you,’ He means it in ways our human hearts cannot even begin to understand. The only way to unpack this is to spend time with Him.

So what is the way to spend time with Him?

We are all different so you need to find your rhythm.

THE CHRISTIAN WALK

A work in progress


 

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Image Courtesy of Wilson Mrema Kyalo

Hi Joan.

 

Hi Jean. God bless you.

God bless you too

I have just had the funniest conversation with your dad.

Really? About what?

He said you told him that your sisters only call you when allowed by God and they have something useful to say.

I did. Do you know what he asked me?

What?

And I quote, ‘Does that mean that God can block your conversations?’

What did you say?

‘Yes! but that is a discussion for another day.’

What? You told him that?

Sure.

Why?

I didn’t want to go into it that day.

Why?

I was still thinking about the reality that God can restrain me from talking to someone I really want to talk to.

Has it happened?

Happened? It happens all the time.

Who is it related to?

Everyone.

What do you mean everyone?

I don’t know about you, but as I have been looking back at my life, I have noticed a pattern.

Ok…

If it is not time for me to speak to someone, I will be unable to find them and they me.

Explain.

Remember last week when we kept trying to call each other?

Of course! It was so frustrating because I would call and miss you or you call and I couldn’t pick.

Did you think it was odd?

Not really! I just thought we were busy.

Ok, think carefully, were you too engaged not to hear or see the call?

Actually no! I could have picked it if I was more attentive or I could have called you back later; kept trying to reach you.

After a couple of times, I stopped and asked God what was going on.

And?

It came back to why I was calling you.

Why were you calling me?

To rant, rave and whine.

Hahahahaa…seriously?

Yup!

What about?

Now it is nothing serious but I had just had a run-in with someone and I wanted to get it off my chest and be proven right.

Were you proved right?

Well, I came to understand that in my perspective I was indeed right about the situation but dead wrong about the reason for what had happened.

What do you mean?

Like I said, I had a run in with someone and I wanted to validate my response and that is what I was focusing on. However, God was more interested in why my response was so intense and what was making me so angry. At the time I didn’t realise that I was that angry; I thought I was just mildly upset. Later that day, the same person reached out to me and I exploded.

Why?

There were underlying issues I wasn’t dealing with that severely limited my perspective.

Did blowing up help?

Yes, it provided momentary relief but in the long run it potentially irreversibly escalated things and I was shocked that I could behave like that.

Why?

I suddenly realised that the reason for being angry was off course.

How?

I was more upset with my reaction to the situation than I was with the person. I was angry because I couldn’t find someone to vent with. I was angry that God would not allow me to speak to the people I wanted me to speak. Yet I had forgotten one key thing…

What is that?

My first point of call should always be God.

What do you mean?

When anything happens, I need to reach out to God first and clear things up with Him before I call others or explode. You know how we are told to breathe before we respond to anything? My breathe should be a look at God and listen to what He has to say.

Why should that be?

In His scheme of things, everything has a reason and time under the sun, nothing happens by mistake or without His knowledge. Seeing that He is all knowing and all wise, why should I seek others input before I seek His?

Wow! I’d never thought about it that way.

Well! Neither had I. I had always thought that when I have the mind of Christ then my responses would always be the right responses. I realise that I am still working to the place of perfection in Him and when perfection fully comes He will exit me into His presence. Since I am still here, I need to learn to clear things with Him first before seeking the opinions and thoughts of others.

Are you saying it is bad to talk things over with people?

No! I am saying I need to talk to God first about all things, understand the lesson and reason for the situation, understand what kind of response is needed and then He will direct me to the right person to talk things over with if need be.

So there are times He will restrain you from speaking to someone?

Absolutely! Last week was a case in point.

So you are saying I am a bad influence?

Nope! From how I know you, our responses would have been quite similar and I would have felt justified by my actions yet God wanted this run in to show me a side of me that still needed work.

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Image Courtesy of Wilson Mrema Kyalo

So the restraint is all about you?

Yes! The restraint is all for my good and growth.

You know you sound odd right?

I know that for sure! It sounded odd to me the first time till I really sat with God and unpacked it.

Sounds like you had a great conversation over a cup of coffee.

Something like that…He talked while I drank the coffee.

Hahahaaha!

Anyway, seriously…I would have taken longer to get to this place of understanding me if I had found you or any of the girls at that moment.

Are you glad He restrained you?

Right now absolutely.

No regrets?

Nope! Pure joy!

I still don’t get why God would block conversation when we need to release the steam. Does he expect us to keep it in?

God know that releasing steam is important; He just wants us to release it in the right way and in the right place.

Ok…so there is a wrong and right way to releasing steam now?

Yes!

What is the rule?

God deals with us as He created us. For the one He created silent there is a right way that doesn’t involve recoiling as usual. For the vocal one, there is a right that may not involve speaking it out on the spot. Each of us has to temper our lives according to how he created us. The one thing I have come to understand is that I must take it to Him first and then He will direct how else I deal with it.

How did He direct this last time?

I needed to apologise.

Wait! Earlier you said the reason you were angry was justified right?

Yes.

Now you are saying you needed to apologise?

Yes.

Whatever for?

I needed to apologise for how I responded.

Why?

It was the right thing to do.

Explain.

How do people know we are true believers?

By our love for God and the world around us.

So how can they know by our love when we are spewing anger at them and others?

But the person deserved it from what you have said.

Never the less, how much is achieved with angry words?

Not much I guess.

Wasn’t there another way I could have said the same thing without exploding?

Probably!

So, if I called you and told you what had happened would you have encouraged me to apologise or said it is the fault of the other person?

I would never have encouraged you to apologise for sure.

So you see how I really didn’t need to talk to you at that moment?

Wow! I do!

Would I have realised I needed to apologise if I just talked to you? Most probably not; I would have been convinced my response was right. In all truth, what that guy did wasn’t right but I didn’t have to behave as I did and nothing would ever justify that behaviour.

So God stopped us from speaking and kept you in a corner till you stopped, heard and obeyed?

Something like, and it wasn’t just with you.

What do you mean it wasn’t just with me?

Well, each time I tried to share the situation with someone they would be too distracted to listen or they didn’t see the big deal. Finally, I spoke to Suzanne and she asked me so many questions I realised I needed to square this with God first so that is where I went. I soon saw myself as He saw me and I realised that I needed to realign and so the work began.

Is the work done?

Not by a long shot, but I am a work in progress.