“Slow Down.”

On my way to work one morning I was caught in traffic, which seemed to have appeared out of thin air. One minute I’m cruising down my usual route and the next minute, without warning, I’m in the middle of an endless stream of vehicles. As every car slowly plodded along, a few decided to make a U-turn to find an alternate way around our sorry predicament. Their decision to turn back seemed very strange to me because a different way would actually take longer to get to their destination. As painful as it was to sit through that traffic I knew it was my only bet to get to work in time.

A thought clearly crossed my mind in that moment about our predicament as human beings. Are we willing sometimes to wait for the right moment before we make a decision or want something? Do we make impulsive decisions that only take us back to where we started thinking we are actually moving forward?

Considering how bad the traffic was that first few minutes we inched our way forward and shortly thereafter everything went back to normal. Whatever was causing the traffic jam wasn’t that serious at all!

When you find yourself at a crossroads don’t be quick to make a U-turn. There are benefits in the waiting and not every pause in your life is bad or negative. The “slow down” moment doesn’t mean you are not working hard enough or things aren’t going your way. It might mean just that…slow down.

THE HEAVENS AND EARTH

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Earth is a representation of something grander and greater. Something so beyond our imagination that I believe we live only a small piece of it. Our lives on earth are a mirror image of what happens in the spiritual realm and teach us about our RELATIONSHIP with God.

Like every parent, I’ve witnessed my ups and downs and I try to look at my failures as teaching moments not just for my daughter but for me as well. The bible says that we should see our challenges more like spiritual battles because it focuses our energy on the enemy satan rather than the person. But boy is it hard sometimes!!

2 Corinthians 10:4

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds”

I had a situation with my daughter that really disappointed me. I let her know that I loved her regardless and the grace I extended to her made me realize how much God loves us even though we make serious mistakes. I still needed to challenge the real enemy who was coming in to destroy my bond with my daughter. I caught a glimpse of the picture of God’s love.  I knew it was always there but this experience made me see it in a different light. I was reminded how God feels when the devil messes with his children (us). God is fiercely protective and I was in a similar situation.

The devil hates God and will do all that he can do to get at him by coming at us, knowing that it will upset God. But hold fast. God will never give up on us if we have faith in him. He has given us victory through his son, Jesus so that when we fight for our loved ones we fight from a place of victory.

Rachel Ochieng.

 

GOLD BENEATH THE SURFACE

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Tonight we read a few parables that Jesus told his disciples and my husband asked our daughter whether she understood the one about Jesus telling the people to remove the plank out of their own eye before worrying about the speck in another’s eye. My daughter couldn’t have explained it better. She said “It’s about people minding their own business.”

The Bible calls for deeper thinking, deeper understanding and more importantly an open heart for the Holy Spirit to reveal the things that are hidden.

The Holy Spirit’s invitation for me is to draw deeper into the knowledge of God. 
It is God’s invitation for me to come away from shallow thinking and rise as He desires to take me deeper, to show me more of His plans for my life.
Dear heavenly Father, I ask this day for the grace to answer to this call to go deeper with you, to come away from shallow thinking and dig for the truth.. For there is more in going deeper. Amen 

Rachel Ochieng

SPIRITUAL MATURITY

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It’s a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in Hackettstown. Dare I say, spring has finally sprung and it’s about time too. Then summer will be here in a few weeks and I will complain about how hot it is. Human nature! How fickle we are not to appreciate the simple things in life. Anyway, before I go on and on about the intricacies of the seasons, I’d like to talk about spiritual maturity.

Salvation is a very rewarding experience and the moment I made my decision to dedicate my life to Christ, I realized God really had been looking out for me my whole life especially in the moments I rejected him. It’s one of the more ironic things in Christianity because it implies that you can mess up as many times as you want and God will be there to save you anyway. That is simply not true! Yes, God has given us the power of free will but with that comes great responsibility once you realize HIS gift. Scripture says in

Galatians 5:1

“For FREEDOM Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

The explanation is that once you gain this gift of Salvation you have a CHOICE not to go back to the things that held you back. Value your slavation like the most precious thing you own. You could be struggling with something as big as addiction or as common as procrastination. Whatever it is, you have to realize that you are not battling those things alone in your mind, but you have Christ to guide you along the way. What is the point of going back to things that have no long term benefit to your health or life? Like the verse says, STAND FAST and be BRAVE because you are not a slave to those things anymore.

Part of your responsibility is not just to yourself but to others as well. If you are saved, are you living by example for others to see Christ working through you?

Galatians 5:13

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be SERVANTS of one another.”

If the point of salvation was to shut myself up in a room somewhere and sing “Kum ba ya” all day then I’d be missing the point. This thing called life forces us to be around people. Some of whom we might not like but once you see them through the eyes of God, it makes their faults a lot easier to bear. It does not mean you have to be a punching bag but it means you now have the self control to see beyond what people do to you.

Ultimately you are answerable to God. One of the most misquoted scriptures of my generation is “Only God can judge me.” True. But that does not mean he is exactly happy with what you are doing. Some people misunderstand JUDGMENT with CORRECTION. When my mother told me not to stick a metal knife into a socket she was simply warning me. I refused to listen, waited for her to leave the room, did it anyway and got electrocuted. Lessson learned! All that could have been avoided because there was that voice in my head saying , “Mom, stop judging me. It’s my choice to stick the knife in.” Yes, it was my choice but maybe if I listened to her WISDOM and not my own feelings I would have avoided a more serious outcome.

Scripture says in

Galatians 6:7-8

“Do not be deceived; God is NOT MOCKED, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 Sow to the flesh and reap corruption. Sow to the spirit and reap eternal life.”

So are you measuring your righteousness in the eyes of men or God? Promote love, peace, unity. Extend your grace and forgivness to people who may not even deserve it and that’s how to slowly gain spiritual maturity. Let Christ work through you and let your actions speak for themselves.

Steve.

Paintings by Aisosa.

PARENTING STYLES

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Most people know the definition of the word authoritative as being commanding, assertive or assured and it often has a negative connotation. However, the other definition means reliable, dependable, trustworthy and I would like to talk specifically about the authoritative parenting style.

In the late 60s, a psychologist called Diana Baumrind introduced the authoritative parenting style which is widely seen as the most effective style of parenting. An authoritative parent listens to their children, encourages their independence, makes them understand the consequences of their behavior and expects them to learn from their mistakes. They express warmth and nurturance, allow them to express their opinions, encourage them to discuss options, and they administer fair and consistent discipline.

In other words as a parent you have to be well balanced in how you treat your children. You do not want to punish them to the point that they can’t approach you when they need advice and neither can you back off to the point you become negligent and they run wild.

This is what I learned from a biblical point of view.

1 John 5:14
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”

As an authoritative parent God hears us, He is attentive to our every need, regardless of how small they are. He pays attention to everything about us, and to every word that comes out of our mouth. Therefore, as his children we must be brave enough to ask Him for what we need.

John 15:5
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

As children of God we are very special in His eyes. We have not only been called to Him but chosen by Him and He encourages us to be dependent on the Holy Spirit and not dependent on man. God’s expectation of us is to trust and believe in him. He expects that if we trust in him then we will be successful in every venture we undertake. The same way a parent extends forgiveness, God does the same, as long as you are truly repentant.

Isaiah 1:18
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

God extends an invitation to us to come and express our opinion and discuss options with him. He wants us to draw near to him with everything that we’ve got and let him work in and through us. God is a loving and nurturing parent. He wants to express his love for us in lots of ways. He wants us to come and rest in his presence, basking in his unfailing love.

My mother died when I was too young to get to know her and because I had to go to school far away I didn’t live with my father for a very long period of time so was raised by my sister. My father was one of the kindest men I ever knew and even though I did not live in the traditional two parent home, God gave me comfort during difficult moments and courage in times I felt afraid.

Therfore, if you are one of those people who feel “left out” because you did not have a parent or guardian to raise you then give God a chance because He knows what is best for you.

Sosasmama

Reference

Review of authoritative parenting style was retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-authoritative-parenting-2794956