Friday, December 31, 2010

Sometimes He Needs us to be Uncomfortable...

Johannesburg, South Africa, where I stay, is prone to the most exquisite and phenomenal "highveld" storms. One can open their curtains in the morning to the beautiful African sun and by late afternoon the blue sky has transformed into a grey-black blanket of storm clouds.
Personally, I love this weather. I love the feeling of being completely out of control of earth's "rampant temper" while knowing that I'm safe beneath a strong, sturdy roof.

So often in my spiritual walk there are times that can be related to this feeling.
Every Christian goes through hard times, through "storms" in their spiritual walks and while these situations are so often devestating and painful, we sometimes forget that God serves as the strong, sturdy roof above our head that protects us from real harm.

Storms present themselves differently to people. Storms may include financial difficulty, depression, addictions or the loss of loved ones.
These situations are so hard to deal with, even as a Christian who believes that God loves us and protects us.
  Personally, there has been many situations in my life where I've found myself questioning why a God who promised to eternally love and protect me could have allowed situations that so deeply hurt me to occur. Everyone say's that He always has a plan that goes beyond our understanding but in difficult times those are words that are sometimes difficult to hear.

I have learnt, however, that even though those words are hard to swallow, they are essentially very true.
In stormy times, there is always a song that I listen to that helps me remember who is in control. It has become one of my favourite songs and I'd really like to share a snippet of it with you. The song is "Praise you in the Storm", by Casting Crowns...

"I was sure by now, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
Stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm"
The message that I'd like to share through this post is that there will always be times when you face hard situations. My pastor once said that you should be kind to strangers, as everyone you meet is facing some kind of battle.
I find it necessary in tough sitations to remind myself that God allows and uses every situation for His glory and our good.
Even if a situation feels like it's going to break you, He can use it to teach you something and more often than not you come through it as a better person. And maybe sometimes we need to go through tough times for Him to achieve something great through us. 
He never promised that the road would be easy, but He did promise that He would be with you every step of the way... 


On a different topic I'd really love to thank everyone that read and commented on my first post. I really do apreciate all the support I have recieved in my new blogging venture.
I hope you all have a very blessed New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What's Love Got to do With It??

Christmas, for me, is the most fantastic time of year. I love the music and the festive cheer but mostly just how much everyone seems to take a little time to remember each other.

I spent the past few weeks in the shops trying to find that "Perfect Prezzie" for each of my loved ones (and what with my family this proved to be quite an extraordinary feat!). As with every year I was amazed to see all the Christmas decorations that had graffiti'ed the walls and roofs of our shopping centres.

Everyone is always saying that Christmas has become so commercialised and so many cards and songs speak about remembering the true meaning of Christmas.
In my experience there seems to be very vast yet mostly true ideas as to what this "true meaning" should be. For some, Christmas is a time to remember family and friends and those dear to us, while still for others Christmas is a time to reach out and give out to those that do not have the basic needs of life (which in Sunny South Africa seems to be far too many).
For me, and Im sure for most other Christians, Christmas is a time for celebrating the love...
The love of a saviour who was prepared to give His life to give us hope and a future.

Its always been a hard concept for me to grasp...I dont always find it easy to accept love given in the human form, so naturally found love in its truest form given from a God that sees and knows everything about me a little difficult to comprehend...
So for me Christmas is a little reminder of that love...

My pastor gave a seemingly "Easter message" in our Christmas service on Saturday. For some, it seems a bit strange to talk about the death of Christ on a day when we celebrate His birth, but I suppose when considering the very purpose of that birth it becomes somewhat appropriate...
It's hard to imagine a baby being born with the sole purpose of dying a rather gruesome death, but in actual fact, that is for me what Christmas really represents..
For Jesus only came to earth to live as a human with the purpose of paying the price for our sin and making us right with God.

It didn't have to be like that. I do not believe that God, who is absolutely pure and majestic and all powerful, needed us to be saved. I do not believe that any human could add any value to the worth of God, so it raises the question of "Why?".

Why would He choose to save us? And going beyond that, why would He choose to come and live on this earth for a considerable period of time before paying the price that had to be payed?
...When I had these questions on my heart I found the answers in Max Lucado's book, "He chose the nails". (Fantastic must-read!!).
The answer (according to the answers I was given): God payed the price for you and I not because He needed us, but because He loved us so so much that He couldn't bear to spend an eternity without us. He lived on this earth so that in every experience, in every pain and in every battle, we could turn to a Father who would understand our situations not only as a God who has the answers to all things, but as a King who lived through the same battles, felt the same heartache and experienced the same temptation.

So..I ask myself "whats love got to do with Christmas?"... and the answer becomes kind of apparent...