Confessions of a Shopaholic

I don’t think I have ever come across one person who has not suffered with some form of inclination to idolatry, yes, even amongst Christians!  Idolatry, does not have to be overt worship of images but things that we turn to when the going gets tough in order to escape our everyday cares, or those things which we can’t live without or must do in order to make it through the day or feel better about ourselves.  I see  a propensity for false-worship in myself in the need to find comfort in various things instead of turning to God for comfort, whether it’s TV addiction, losing myself in a ‘good read‘ or comfort-eating whenever I turn to these things over going to God for help I have created an idol for myself.

woman holding shopping bags

It is this truth that first made me think about what I shall write below, even though shopping is not my particular achilles heel, I know that many, many people comfort-shop but is it more than an idle past-time?  I have tried to capture what I think goes through the mind of someone who shops compulsively, but I think this can be applied to anything that we do that we are drawn uncontrollably to.  As I wrote this I thought of my own struggles and temptations and those of someone I know personally who experiences this particular struggle on a day-to-day basis.

God Bless

Continue reading Confessions of a Shopaholic

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Prayer Request

This post is a bit unusual for me in that it takes the form of a prayer request and a post (I guess) all in one.  Please read through and if you would join me please pray regarding this issue with me whenever you feel moved to this week.

Beautiful Giftings

Why is it that more often than not it is those who have the most beautiful gifting to minister to others that are held most securely in chains of bondage?

This thought has been on my mind since Sunday because I have a very dear friend who is in such a situation.  My friend who I will call LN, was baptised nearly two years ago and prior to that she had been ministering through her local church choir; her gifting is such that anyone who hears her ministering is moved to tears.  Now, as far as I am aware she no longer attends church and she no longer ministers but she is still singing but this time not for God.  She has been here before and it worries me because I saw how much it changed her behaviour and her attitude towards herself the first time around and hear echoes of it rebounding once more.  My friend has not had an easy life, she has many wounds which I can see are holding her bound.  She needs love and is being held back by fear.

I saw my friend this weekend and heard her sing, she has such a beautiful voice, I am so proud whenever I hear her.  I know that she also has a kind heart and excellent intentions underneath everything, and knowing this I was especially saddened because I know regardless of how beautiful the gifting and how excellent the intention it is not enough to enable us to stand in God’s eyes.

Why do we have to experience so much pain in this life?  Why do we have to carry around so much baggage and damage inside of us?  Why do we have to become lost before we can be found?  Why can’t this life just bruise and hurt us less?

When I think about the human condition I feel so sad, we are all so desperate in our needs and frailties.  We need to be loved and chase after love in all the wrong places.  We need to feel esteemed and look for status in the world.  We need to feel necessary in such an immense creation that we happily live a life bound in chains in order to fulfill this goal.  We all do.  Why?  Why do we try to achieve all of this through our own might and in our own way when all it does is push us further away from the one who can still all our fears and heal all of our wounds?

What God wants from us, what we need for ourselves seems to go against human instinct and understanding.  Our need for self-preservation, love and esteem drives us onwards when God is saying to us, “Stop!”

“Stop striving, stop trying, stop reaching and just let it go.  Give it all over to Me, trust in Me to heal you, to comfort you, to esteem you, to love you; believe that I know best and follow Me.”

So simple yet so hard.

This is a painful love that comes with giving your heart over to God, the type of love that is bittersweet.  Bitter in that it requires change and sacrifice that we may feel too stretched to give, overwhelmed because we may experience more pain than that which we knew whilst we were in the world but…

sweet too.  Sweet because overshadowing all of the above is a love so real and pure that to taste it is to feel your heart-break and heal again in an instant.  An acceptance so complete that you know that you have found your home.  A fullness so heavy that it can only be the weight of God’s glory living and growing within you day-by-day.  This is what I want for my friend, this is what I want for all of us.

Yes, the world may seem like an easier road to walk when we compare it to the sacrifices that God will ask of us to make.  But this world has no meaning and definitely no love except through Him.  I see more clearly my life when I look at my friend, that our fears and our desire to be loved so wholly, intensely and unconditionally is cruelly used by the deceiver to keep us bound in chains.  Today, this week I want to pray against this in my friend’s life, in my life, in your life; join me and pray.

I have written a short prayer and attached a reflective song which follows but please feel free to add your own words, reflections and even any initials you want prayed for.  Please also forward this post to others who may wish to join hands in this.  I would also invite you to read a similar post by my good friend Amy called Love from a Higher Perspective, her post really did speak to me particularly in this situation.

Many Blessings

Achama

Prayer

Dear Father,

Please have mercy on LN and all others joined in this prayer in one accord. Please show us that You are God and that before You there is no other.  Lord God, let us see that You are the Way, the Truth and the Life and that without You all routes lead to death and destruction.

Lord, let us know that You are the Eternal Comforter and Lover of our soul.  That there is no love greater or stronger than the love that You have for Your children.  Lord, I pray that You will fill us up with hope, eternal hope in You which will bring about fruitfulness.

Lord, I pray that You will bear us up in the midst of the storms that we face, so that when all is said and done, we may live and stand to glorify You.

Lord, may it please You to answer this prayer and bring life where there is death.

In Yeshua’s Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Song

Living for Your Glory by Tim Hughes

This week I am linking up with Soli Deo Gloria and Grace Cafe.

Follow Me (A meditative reflection)

I sit here and think about my life, my condition, my health.
I am talking to You now and know that a change is needed.
You have taught me many things here where I sit,
I see that I need to exert myself more in order to overcome, but what You are asking of me seems like such hard work.

I said to You, “I wish I could be normal, why do I have to be like You?”
And You replied “everyone who loves Me follows Me.”

disciples following Jesus
Everyone who loves Me follows Me


I sigh.

I sigh because I know what I have to do, I know that I want to do it but I am scared also.
Scared to pick it up, scared to step out, afraid that I will drop it.
Then You remind me that you were afraid too, and that you dropped Your own several times but…
You gained so much love, support, strength and courage from those who loved you, who helped you stand back up and continue on.

Jesus being helped to carry His cross
Not alone


My Father, on that day, what didn’t You do for me?
So what can’t I do for You?

The Passion of the Christ

I see You now standing and talking with the rich man,
He asks You “What can I do?”
You answer Him and say “Follow Me.”
But he is also afraid, too afraid in so many ways to step out and leave what he has known behind.
I don’t want to be like him, knowing what I should do but being unable to step out.

You are teaching me a new lesson here, that to love is to obey and to learn is to apply.
What use are knowledge, wisdom, revelation and understanding if it remains cloaked in silent darkness?
What You have taught me I have to apply,
What you say I must do.
Teach me to apply Your Word Oh Yah,
Show me how to apply Your Word.

Maybe, this is a new adventure, a new step, a new degree of glory but I am afraid,
I cannot explain why.
Maybe I’m afraid of the struggle I will face.
Is this Your passion here?

Jesus in Gethsemane

Teach me to be strong,
To find the courage to step out somehow,
To find the strength to continue and make my way to…
I don’t know where.

But please, but please, but please, but please, but please be near me… be with me.
I pray.

Amen.

This week I’m linking up with …

Learning to submit to change

Butterfly
Licensed to use under CC - Image by TanWei

Like the gradual and highly taxing transformation of a caterpillar to a chrysalis and then to butterfly, change, godly change is hard work.   There are so many characteristics which make it so, not least its unpredictable nature and the onwards momentum which makes control a thing of the past; once change is embarked upon we can only ever be swept along by its tide or struggle in futility against its current.  Although both methods are strenuous and even torturous in their way, only one can ever be productive in securing our growth and development.  For godly change to take place in us we need to be submissive to the workings of God’s Spirit, but how do we submit to something which causes us so much pain?

This morning as I struggled to get up from bed (as I have been dealing with some health issues of late) I couldn’t help but meditate on two scriptures; the first scripture is 2 Corinthians 3: 18 (KJV):

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

This speaks of gradual transformation into the image of God, what a beautiful depiction of change, by simply keeping our eyes focussed on the LORD and beholding His beauty and glory we are transformed degree by degree from fleshly to spiritual creatures and from the worldly to the divine.  But what trials and tribulations must we have to encounter along the way to such a butterfly moment?  What are the strains that will try to hold us down and the worries which will overwhelm us?  What are the bonds that will need to be broken along the way?  And surely, if such things exist then we must realise that our transformation will not be an easy one.  Paul knows this already and encourages us with these words (Romans 8: 18 KJV):

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Amen!  Isn’t this a thought for me to hold on to in my times of distress, that no matter what I go through or how I may feel today that the pain of it can never compare to the joy I will experience and what I will gain at this journey’s end!

But oh…!  How do I make it through each day at a time without losing sight of His beautiful visage?  Every day is a prayer of courage and strength that I need soooo much on this road to victory.  Please pray with me.

The second scripture is taken from 1 Corinthians 3: 13-15 (AMP), it says:

The work of each [one] will become [plainly, openly] known (shown for what it is); for the day [of Christ] will disclose and declare it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done.

    If the work which any person has built on this Foundation [any product of his efforts whatever] survives [this test], he will get his reward.

    But if any person’s work is burned up [under the test], he will suffer the loss [of it all, losing his reward], though he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has passed] through fire.

I have to admit that this scripture confused me a bit particularly the ending, but after some reflection I believe that this scripture speaks of refinement.  God has already laid the foundation for us and in us, that foundation is Jesus.  Our job is to build upon the foundation with materials that can withstand the fiery refinement process (Silver, gold and precious stones) and those that will be consumed by it (wood, hay and stubble).  Building is hard work without having to be subjected to rigorous testing procedures but imagine, if after spending your life building how you will feel if all that is left before you in the wake of this fire is a pile of rubble and ash.  I do not imagine that we will build with only good or bad materials, I am sure that at times we will build wisely and at times unwisely but I believe the degree of wisdom will be a consequence of our ability to submit to what we go through here and now.

God is so kind, that He is already teaching us how to make wise decisions through the trials and tribulations we face in this life.  Even now we are undergoing the cleansing and refining fire so that we will only know how to build with materials that last.  And it makes me ask myself this question, would I rather be changed slowly here and now, by facing trials sent to test me and cleanse me so that I can overcome at last or would I rather fight against what I can’t control and be stubborn, bathing in my pain until the day when I stand before God and everything around me that I have built up is consumed but yet by His grace I remain standing?  Would I temporarily experience challenge and discomfort here now in order to gain a much greater reward later or, live in ease and comfort just to narrowly escape fiery wrath at a later date?  Is this a difficult question for me to answer? 

No.  It is such reflections as this that gives me the necessary strength and courage to continue on with this journey one day at a time.

I hope that these reflections will also encourage you to believe, hope and walk in strength and courage in your own trials and tribulations.

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