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Nairobi Attack: Pray with us for Kenya

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News feeds around the world today are filled with stories about Tuesday’s attack in Nairobi, Kenya.

As you have probably heard, a hotel in the Westlands district of the Kenyan capital was attacked by multiple gunmen on Tuesday. According to the BBC, renewed gunfire and explosions were heard early on Wednesday, and a security operation seems to be ongoing.

At this stage, it is hard to determine the official number of casualties, but authorities say as many as 15 people may have been killed. 

What we do know is that this is a sensitive and significant time in Kenya. Regardless of what is happening or who is instigating the action, the ultimate authority still belongs to God – and that is why we can come to him in prayer at this moment!

Philippians 4:7 talks about “…the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,” guarding our hearts. And this is what we’re praying for while this tragic situation is still being resolved:

  • That God’s peace will reign above all!
  • That those who have been affected by loss will find solace in the arms of Jesus.
  • That those who perpetrated this act – even if their hearts are filled with evil and malice – will turn to God!  

Today we pray for God’s peace to reign in Kenya. We pray that God’s will would be done. We pray that what the enemy planned for harm, would be the starting point of a new move of God in the heart of Kenyans! Pray with us, and leave your comment of support on this post…

We also know that peace isn’t just the absence of uncertainty or tension – true peace is found in knowing Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, and being sure of your future because of your relationship with Him (if you’d like to talk about that, feel free to message our team!).

Christmas is… about God with us

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Christmas means many different things to lots of different people.  Some like to focus on the gifts, others on spending time with loved ones.  For some it means a time to reflect on the year that was or to remember the things that are really important.  Christmas means putting aside differences and living in peace. It’s about being generous, spreading joy, a time to celebrate and at times to over indulge.  But ultimately, before all of these other things, Christmas really means ‘God is with us’.

Making it personal

It’s one thing to know about someone, to have an awareness that they exist and even know something about them but it’s another thing completely to interact with an individual, to see them up close and experience them in the flesh.  Until the birth of Jesus, people were able to believe in God, to revere and worship Him, but through Jesus we are now able to have a personal relationship with the Creator of all things.

All in it together

The story of Christmas is well-known.  The angel messenger, the virgin birth, the stable, shepherds and wise men, but strip all of these things away and you’re left with Jesus, God’s Son, being born as a baby.  In this person we see God, in every way divine, but we also see man, human and frail. Christmas means God with us because with Jesus, becoming a man, he experienced everything that constitutes the human experience.  He felt the pain of loss and rejection, the fear of being vulnerable, the joys and the sorrows we all go through.  We are no longer alone in our suffering because Jesus has also been there.

Time to choose

This Christmas season, while you enjoy the festivities and celebrations, just take a moment to appreciate the fact that God moved heaven and earth to make a way for us to have a relationship with Him.  He left His own sphere and wrote Himself into the narrative of our existence.  God gave us a version of Himself so that we could grasp and understand who He really is.

His message to you this year is that He is with you and wants to be included in your life.  The next move is yours.

 

All you need is love

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For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13: 12-13

All you need …..is LOVE!

Paul hits the nail right on its head when he says; “Love never fails” and the reason why this is true is to be found in ‘the who’ and not just ‘the how’ that makes LOVE so powerful.

So many people assume that love is just an emotion, but that is not what the Bible teaches.  The romantic notion that makes us all victims of little ‘love arrows’ fired at someone by a fictitious Cupid, (against which there is neither a defence, nor do we have any part to play in the act of loving), is false.  Sorry Hollywood or even you writers of best-selling romantic novels; I for one don’t subscribe to your false image of what true love is.  Love is not a feeling, sickness or the like.

The greatest example of what ‘True Love’ is, is shown by the one who is both the architect and giver of unconditional and eternal love.  God is Love and He demonstrated what love really looks like in flesh and blood by giving us His Son.

Jesus

Jesus was pure love wrapped in humanity, walking amongst the unloved and the hateful with arms opened so wide in welcome that anyone, the greatest and the least, who seeking to discover how great God’s love really is, would see it displayed by simply looking at Jesus!

Ultimately that invitation would be nailed to a cross, a forever statement that Love is forever.  Love will never cease and never fail.

John, the disciple of Jesus, later goes on to say that Love is from God and everyone that Loves does so because of what God has set or planted in us when he created us in His image.  Love is a reflection of the character of the Creator in our lives. We were born to love and be loved.  None of us was born to hate!

Some years ago the Beatles sang, “All you need is Love!”.  How true that is, but also, how important to discover what that really means.  To know that we are truly, unconditionally and eternally loved is to live without fear and to be free from the striving to find what novelists cannot describe and the greatest poets cannot capture. To love is the greatest gift you and I can give another person. When God set out to show the world what that meant it changed the course of human history forever.  Knowing that at a personal level is the most liberating discovery any of us will ever make.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your love for me.  I want to reflect what that means by living the way you created me to be. I repent of the fact that so often I fall short of that standard. Please help me. I receive the gift of your love that changes me from the selfishness of being unloving, to live even as Jesus did by the enabling of your Spirit.

Looking for love that lasts

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In the Bible, the first book of Corinthians, chapter 13 verse 8 says:

‘Love never fails’.

It sounds good, doesn’t it? Great for weddings and greeting cards, and I’m sure most of us would like to find a love that lasts forever, but is it true? Doesn’t love fail sometimes?

Yes, I think in a human context love fails… often.

Failing love

I’m a parent and I love my kids but, even though I would rather die than let anything terrible happen to them, I know my love is flawed. I make mistakes (frequently), I hurt their feelings when I get angry and I’m sure there are times they feel disappointed that I haven’t given them the attention they want from me. My love has great intentions but the delivery, at times, falls short of the mark. In short, it fails.

But maybe we’re looking at the word ‘fails’ wrong. What if you were to interchange ‘fails’ with ‘ends’, in other words ‘love never ends’? Again, in human experience it does, and sadly, all too frequently. How many times have a man and woman stood before their nearest and dearest, promising to love till death and yet somehow the love they have doesn’t quite last? It’s sad but it happens. Life can get hard and sometimes love just doesn’t quite make it through difficult bits.

It’s a bleak picture of so-called ‘unfailing love’ isn’t it? Yet love is a sought after, and seemingly integral, part of life despite its track record. It gives people purpose almost as though through love (in all its forms) we find a reason to be. Maybe then we could say that without love, everything else fails?

Is the Bible wrong?

So is the Bible wrong? Is there ever an instance where ‘love never fails’? For that I think we have to go back to the source. The Bible says in 1 John chapter 4 and verse 8:

God is love’. 

Simple enough!

So if God is love, you could conceivably read ‘Love never fails’ as ‘God never fails.’ The Bible also tells us that God is constant, never-changing, never gone and never-failing. So no, it’s not wrong at all when looking at love from a God’s-eye view. Where human experience can hurt and disappoint us, the love of God has no such failings. His love paid the ultimate price, through His son Jesus, so that we may know real love and see how unfailing it is.

If you would like to know more about God’s love and how you can experience it for yourself, please click the link and find out more.

What to do when you love someone who doesn’t love you back

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” – Nature Boy – Nat King Cole

It’s a fairly universal desire to be loved and show love to another. We see it in the movies and on television. We read about it in books and express it in songs. The joy of being in love is something that many people dream about and search for, but for some the quest for love is not all plain sailing. The pain of unrequited or unreturned love is an experience many of us encounter at some stage before eventually finding that perfect fit. In fact, social physiologist Roy Braumeiter records that 98% of us experience this kind of heart-break at sometime. Teenagers seem to be especially susceptible to developing feelings for those who are either unobtainable or uninterested but in truth the agony of one-sided affection is something that can appear at any age.

The good news is that just because the object of your affection (or obsession) doesn’t feel the same way as you do, doesn’t mean you need to be trapped in your heartache. There are a number of things that you can do to cope with, and even get over, unrequited love:

Accept the truth of the situation

Sadly, just because you have feelings for someone doesn’t automatically mean they will be on the same page as you. If you’ve found that your feelings aren’t returned the most helpful and mature thing that you can do is accept the reality of your circumstances. Continuing to believe that they may change how they feel or holding onto hope that isn’t based in reality will only cause you more hurt and stop you from moving past your disappointment.

Take a step (or ten) back

Creating a bit of distance between yourself and the focus of your feelings may feel like you’re depriving yourself of oxygen but it’s more than just a good idea. It’s easy to become addicted to being around the person you’ve fallen for, even if they don’t notice that you exist, but that only feeds the problem. Following your crush’s every move on Facebook, Instagram and all the other social media platforms won’t help you heal and you’re more likely to become something of a stalker. Keeping a bit of distance between yourself and the other person will help you find other things to occupy your thoughts and time.

Get a reality check

It’s extremely easy to fall in love with the idea of someone, as opposed to who they really are. It’s entirely possible that the person you have fallen for is not the real them but a version that you have created in your own mind. No one is perfect and the object of your affections has their own flaws and problems just as you do. Make sure that you haven’t elevated them to a level of perfection that no one else will ever live up to.

Keep going

Rejection hurts. Feeling like you’ve been passed over is never an easy thing to accept. Sometimes all you want to do is curl up in a corner and escape from the world but the best thing you can do in those situations, is keep going.   Go out with friends, embrace distractions, surround yourself with people who care about you and remember that life goes on. One person not returning the feelings you have for them will sting for a while but they are only one person. You don’t want to miss out on all the other wonderful things in life just because they couldn’t return your love.

What becomes of the broken-hearted

Feeling like your heart is broken can be a very lonely place to be. It’s easy to wonder if anyone knows what you’re going through or even cares about your pain. The Bible tells us that God see us when we are hurting. When we have a broken heart, God is right there. He is more than just a shoulder to cry on. He is there to heal the hurt and put the broken pieces back together, if we let Him. By opening our broken hearts to Jesus we can find healing and love like we’ve never imagined.  All we need to do is ask.

Learning to love yourself

Learning to love yourself may seem simple. Self-love appears to be everywhere. A brief visit to Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook will prove this quickly enough. If public figures come across as arrogant or insensitive, they are more than likely labeled narcissists by the media. Society in general is so caught up in what is best for ‘me’ that we tend to forget that there are other people in the world who all deserve a little consideration from time to time.

As much as this obsession with self has seen a marked increase in recent years, it’s true to say that not everyone is as taken with themselves as it may at first appear. So what do you do in a world where everyone else thinks they’re the bee’s knees and you don’t even like yourself?

Different sides of the same coin

Low self-esteem can take many forms. On one hand the person who doesn’t place any value on them self, withdraws from others, and is openly negative about who they are, could be suffering from self-loathing. Conversely, low self-esteem could be what fuels someone to obsess about the way they look, spend money they don’t have and to make sure that they are never left alone to endure their own company.

Whatever it looks like, when you don’t love who you are, you make it very difficult for those around you to love you, no matter how much they want to. Finding a way to accept the person God made you to be, and learning to love who you are, is a vital part of being the best possible you there is. The Bible talks about the fact that Jesus came so that we can have an abundant, full, and flourishing life, but you can’t ever experience that if you are at odds with the person you are, inside and out!

A God’s eye view

You may think you’re unlovable, worthless, and hopelessly flawed. God, however, has a different point of view. The Bible talks about the fact that we are, all of us

“fearfully and wonderfully made”

You may argue that you are far from being perfect. Your nose may be too big. You may be too pale. Too tall. You may have a bad temper or have a less than genius level intelligence, but guess what, God didn’t say you were perfect. He said you were wonderful!

The truth is that everyone has aspects of them self that is less lovely or in need of change. Just because you’re not what you want to be, doesn’t mean you’re not worthy of love. The Bible tells us that God loves us with an everlasting love.  He formed us and created us in the womb. If God feels that way about you how can you not see the value in yourself?

Masterpiece in the making

Learning to love who God made you to be may not be easy for everyone. For some people, appreciating and being grateful for the attributes and characteristics God blessed them with may take time. It’s a journey towards accepting the wonder that God sees in you but the Bible tells us that everything becomes beautiful in its own time and it’s just a matter of reminding yourself that you were made by God and He doesn’t make mistakes.

The best news of all is that even though we are loved by God just the way we are, when we give our lives over to Him, He begins a work in us to bring out all of the most precious and beautiful aspects. The Bible says that our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful the longer we know God and we become like Him. However, the only way to experience the transformation that the love of God brings, is by accepting the gift of His son Jesus.  Only through Jesus can we know God and live in a place of real love and acceptance.

When love doesn’t play it safe

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Often times we think of God as safe and responsible. But did you know that His love is reckless, it’s crazy, it’s risky? In 1997, as I was preparing for my Grade 12 final exams, we received unthinkable news. My father was having an affair and he was leaving us. Now I grew up in church and my parents served in church. As you can imagine, I was devastated. I got so angry at God that I turned my back on Him completely and lived opposite to how I knew He wanted me to. But then early one morning, the unbelievable happened. Surrounded by hung over people, I heard a voice say to me, “What are you doing? I have a plan for your life. Get up, get your stuff and get out.”

In that moment, despite the rebellion in my heart, I knew that God was speaking to me and I had to listen. I got my stuff and ran out of that house. I spent the next few months drawing close to God and allowing His love to heal me and restore me and put my broken life back together again. You see God was not repulsed by my sin as I thought He would be. I turned my back on Him, when I knew better. He could’ve just left me to my own devices. But He didn’t. He came for me, He chased me and fought through my hard heart, and He rescued me.

I love what it says in Romans 8:38-39 (NIV),

 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Nothing, not even our sin and rebellion can separate us from God’s love.

Here are a few things that I have discovered about God’s love towards us.

God’s love runs after you

He runs after us when we don’t return the feelings, when we reject Him, when we cheat on Him by allowing other things to capture the affection of our heart.

God’s love fights for you

God’s love is not passive. Definition: accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.

God’s love will search for you and fight until you are found.

God’s love pays for you

God’s love has paid for everything! He paid for our freedom, our forgiveness and our healing. He came to pay a debt He did not owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.

So how can knowing all this about God’s love make a difference in our life?

Well, you need to accept it. God’s love for you is not dependant on what you’ve done. It’s in spite of what you’ve done. Next, you need to respond to it – God’s love demands a response. The only question you will have to answer when you stand before God is, “What did you with my Son Jesus?” What did you do about the sacrifice He made for you?

If you would like to know more about this great love or if you are ready to respond to it, click on the link below or on the pop up.

The Search For New

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There’s nothing like unboxing a new device. I love the drama of receiving new things. I’m bit of a geek, so I also can’t resist the theatrics around the unveiling of new gadgets. I can’t resist events where tech companies introduce new products. It’s fascinating how some of the things we imagined are becoming reality today. New things give us a glimpse into the future. Intimidating and exciting, at same time. Somehow, this also translates to our lives

Help! My life is going nowhere!

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Let’s be honest: This is not what you were expecting from life.

By this time, you were supposed to be flying high: raking in the big bucks; making your dreams come true; maybe even getting married to a hottie.

But so far… nothing. You’re stuck in a dead-end, low-wage job that you hate (maybe you don’t even have one). Your love life is, well, not quite alive. Sure you had dreams once – but that was long ago. Nothing’s left of all that. You feel empty – and with good reason. Because you’ve tried and you’ve tried and you’ve tried, but you’re stuck – going in circles.

Sound familiar?

Of course it does.

So what do you do when you wake up one morning and realise you’ve somehow drifted into a place you never intended to go? How do you get out of the funk and up to speed? How do you break out and get to a breakthrough?

I have good news for you: Now is the time for new beginnings. But if you’re going to begin to see real change in your life, you’ll need to figure out the answer to two very basic but important questions first:

  1. Where are you coming from?
  2. Where are you going?

Let’s flip it around and think about the second question first:

Where are you going?

This is the fun part: If you’re serious about making a new beginning, it’s time to come up with a compelling picture of exactly where you’re headed. What’s your vision? What is it that you want to achieve? What is it that you’re chasing after?

It all sounds really obvious, but the best way to bring about meaningful change is to come up with a really vivid picture of where you’re going. Nothing will drive you more than a clearly defined outline of a goal worth pursuing.

There are many ways to do so: You could, for example, write out a really clear vision statement for your life, describing in detail the awesome future you have in mind. Stick it up on your bathroom mirror. Journal about it. Dream about it. Perhaps you could create a vision board with pictures or descriptions of the exact goals you’ve set yourself. Keep it somewhere you’ll see it and be reminded of it constantly.

Whatever you do, keep it top of mind. Think it over until it becomes so clear you can almost reach out and touch it. Goals that aren’t clear and specific are nothing more than daydreams.

What’s your starting point?

Now, for the most important question – the question that ultimately sets you up for a win or a fail. It’s the question everything else hinges on.

What’s your starting point? In other words: Where is all this coming from? What is it that moved you to take action in the first place? What is it that motivates you? Wy are you chasing after the things you’re chasing after?

People answer that question in one of two ways:

For some, it’s all about the self: Selfish ambition. Or self-gratification. Or self-fulfilment. Or self-interest.

Let’s face it: Often, when we make our plans and dream our dreams, it all starts with a desire to simply make a better life for ourselves. We’re convinced that if we chase after stuff, or achievements, or things that stroke our egos… we’ll be happy. We’ll finally fill the ever-present void that’s been nagging at us for as long as we can remember.

The problem is that a new beginning that starts with self always ends in tears. It ends in burn-out. It ends in self-hate. It ends in broken relationships and broken people. It ends in shattered dreams; in loneliness. It ends in the realisation (almost always too late), that no goal or dream – no matter how compelling – will ever really fill the void that made you want to pursue it in the first place.

There Is another way to answer that question, though. It begins by recognising that we weren’t created to live life for ourselves in the first place. It begins with the realisation that God made us to – first and foremost – live in relationship with Him. He loves us, and gave us life so we could live for Him.

When that becomes your starting point, it changes not only what goals you pursue, but how you pursue them. If the purpose for you existence is bigger than yourself, your goals become bigger than your limited world, too. They become more expansive, and less self-centered. The way you pursue them also changes: rather than burning out in a quest to, say, achieve some selfish ambition, you may find yourself energised by working towards a dream that touches many lives and brings you closer to your real purpose – to live in relationship with your Creator.

So yes: get out there. Do your thing. Make that new beginning happen. Pursue those dreams. Create a compelling picture of what you’re chasing after. But more importantly, think about your starting point. Are you setting yourself up for failure by chasing after selfish ambitions that will only hurt you in the end? Or are you pursuing something much, much bigger that’s rooted in a sense that your Creator has called you to an expansive life of relationship with Him?

Maybe, just maybe, your new beginning should begin with a new beginning with God.

 

New Beginnings

If you can imagine what it is like to be an unborn baby that is growing within its mother’s womb. It’s warm and secure, being fed and nurtured by its mother.  Everything that it needs to grow and mature is available on demand, or so it appears.  Life is really easy.  It doesn’t have to think when it’s time to eat or time to sleep because it’s just naturally provided for.  Even down to listening to its mother’s heartbeat to lull it to sleep.  It’s perfection!

Happy birthday!

However, after 40 weeks of growing the time come when it has to be born.  I know from experience that this is not an easy process for the mother and I also believe that for the baby who has been so protected also experiences the trauma of new birth.

Life outside of the womb must be difficult initially.  The baby breathes air for the first time, sees things around them, feels warmth or cold, new tastes to experience and a few years down the road, running and jumping and loving life. The list is endless but without the painful and possibly shocking moment of birth it would never have experienced ‘life’ in their new world.

Time to break free

For many of us a new year is a bit like this.  Somehow there is comfort in knowing that where you are right now is adequate and it feels at times as if this is the best that it can ever be.  But is it?  A new year brings horizons that you maybe apprehensive about. Perhaps it’s beginning a new school or college, or it could be a new job, starting a career for the first time, in fact, just about everything involves change.  Living life is going to stretch your boundaries, it will not be comfortable but it’s worth it. Sadly to most people change is a challenge they are not prepared to embrace.

Let’s face it relinquishing the past is sometimes painful and feels inconvenient, yet without that step you will never get to enjoy the new experiences that tomorrow holds, where a bigger world awaits.

Following in others footsteps

If you feel that a new year is too uncertain, think about others whose example lights the way for our future. The Bible talks about Abraham, who left his father’s home and the place he knew but pursued a dream, a vision, a purpose that would change the world. His ability to face the challenge opened the door for others to live in a greater or a better future.  Think about the children of Israel, who were called to follow a fugitive leader, Moses, through a desert. Experiencing hardships, getting to know about a miraculous God who was leading them to a land flowing with milk and honey.

Think about Jesus who left the throne room of heaven, for the joy of seeing us, who would put our faith in Him, changed to become sons of the Living God.  He despised the inconvenience, the shame, the hardship to become the Saviour of us all.

Make a change

As we face this new year, what are you prepared to leave behind or change so that you can experience something new and live for a vision bigger than you have ever lived for before?  Maybe it’s a good time to re-evaluate your life and give up something which is keeping you captive.  It could be an addiction, it could be an unhealthy relationship, in fact it could be a number of things, even just being comfortable, but today is a new day!

God offers us another opportunity but it involves being willing to change. Moving from death to life by receiving Christ as your Saviour.  Stepping from doubt to faith by believing the promise of God.  Transitioning from living just to please yourself to having a purpose that goes beyond anything you have ever known because you are willing to obey God and follow Him wherever He leads you.

You just need to ask Him to reveal to you what you need in your life. He will do it for you and you will face the coming year knowing God in a way you have perhaps never known Him.

 

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