A Gospel According to Moi?

Q:        What is Five Minute Friday?

A:        It is a 5min free write blog event hosted by Kate Motaung. Every Thursday Kate announces a one-word prompt at 10pm EST. The link-up is open for a full week, until the following Thursday evening. For further details on how to participate click HERE

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Five Minute Friday Prompt: ANOTHER

It took me a little while to come up with something to fit this theme – ANOTHER!

In the beginning nothing suggested itself to me. Nothing came immediately to mind. What can I write about that would be personally meaningful to me as the writer and to you, as the reader?

I looked up the Oxford dictionary meaning to see if this would give me some inspiration and do you know what? It did!

I saw that one of the meanings of this word is: something different and then Paul’s words came to mind about “another gospel”. Now I have an idea of where to take this theme!

Do I, do you, believe or live our lives according to another gospel?

A gospel not according to Christ, or even according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John but according to my, or your convenience. A gospel that fits in with our ideas of who God is and who we want him to be, not as he actually is. And a gospel that makes less demand upon us than that which the true gospel requires.

No?

You think?

Let’s see.

For instance, the gospel according to Jesus demands that we forgive. Not just once, or even three times, but 70 times 70!

END OF 5 MINS

So, if you examined your life, if you were absolutely honest with yourself (not the sanitised honesty that you present for the scrutiny of others), but the true, raw honesty of “it-is-what-it-is!” would you emerge squeaky clean?

I know when I look at my heart and assess myself in the light of God’s Word in this particular regard, the picture I see is not so pretty. It’s a picture marred by the stain of an unforgiving spirit. A picture that presents a detailed record of wrongs against others. A picture that ought to have been cleaned with the emulsion of forgiveness, mercy and compassion and should have been repainted with the brushes of obedience.

Instead it’s a picture that has built up a steady film of grime and dust. And instead of that picture being framed by the beauty of humility and mercy, it is stretched upon the canvas of a critical and judgmental spirit.

This picture is the result of a gospel according to moi… a gospel according to Carol. A gospel that is man-made and mixed, prompted by the devil’s goading input, along with my rebellious and self-righteous response to those who offend me.

Another gospel!

But as I examine my heart and life in the uncompromising light of God’s Word, as I look within my conscience at the picture of Jesus hanging upon his cross, as I regard the image of his marred face, his broken body, as I recall all that he suffered, so that I can enjoy a new destiny, a happy-ever-after scenario of complete and utter peace, yeah, everlasting joy in Heaven, I feel convicted. I feel ashamed.

How could I continue to behave like the protagonist in Christ’s parable of the ungrateful servant? How could I fail to forgive those who have trespassed against me, when God my Father, when Christ my Saviour, has forgiven and continues to forgive me of so much more?

No matter how big, how deep the wounds of those offences, what deception, what seed of arrogance could cause me to choose this other gospel—a gospel according to my sanctimonious standards, a standard which fell far, far short of God’s measure of righteousness in the first place? A standard which failed to satisfy God’s wrath, who required the shedding of innocent blood, the burden-bearing of an entire world’s sin and depravity before he could be appeased, before the atonement for Adam’s act of treason could be accepted?

Father-God forgive me (there I go again – needing forgiveness!).

Lord Jesus forgive me. Thank you for your wonderful example of forgiveness towards those who hated, humiliated and killed you.

Holy Spirit help me. Remind me to take up my cross and die daily to the ungracious demands of my flesh, to my unmerciful requirements for personal vengeance, to my unforgiving heart.

Help me to walk God’s highway of holiness with humility and help me to paint a Christ-like image over the offences of others, even if it requires me to do so, seventy times seventy each day, even each hour!

Friends and followers, have a blessed weekend and may God’s divine peace and protection rest upon you and upon your loved ones, as we negotiate the paths of these unprecedented times.

Best wishes,

Carol (aka Lady Cee)

Are you looking for a resource that will help and encourage you to develop a consistent and confident prayer life? If so, don’t hesitate to check out the links below.

 

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Tomorrow Never Comes!

The above CC0 Image comes courtesy of Gerd Altmann at Pixabay.com

 

Q: What is Five Minute Friday?

A: It is a 5min free write blog event hosted by Kate Motaung. Every Thursday Kate announces a one-word prompt on her blog at 10pm EST. The link-up is open for a full week, until the following Thursday evening. For further details on how to participate please visit her blog at: Heading Home.

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FIVE-MINUTE FRIDAY: Word prompt – TOMORROW

My immediate thought when I saw this prompt was of a title: Tomorrow Never Comes. I thought it was a book I’d once read by Sidney Sheldon, but a quick check shows me I am wrong.

My mind then turned to Pharaoh in the book of Exodus, who had suffered a plague of frogs, yet when Moses asked him when he’d like this plague to stop, he answered: “Tomorrow”.

Can you believe it?

Why would anyone who had suffered a nasty plague not want it to stop immediately? What on earth was he thinking?

Which then led me to think about procrastination and my problem with it. I’ve tried to break free. I think I have improved. But it is still an issue.

Take this Covid-19 virus that has descended upon and changed our lives. There were things I’d wanted to do and could very well have done, before this plague came on the scene.

Now that it’s here, I cannot do these things. Not without incurring risk. Because it involves going out and mixing with people in close proximity. I cannot, and do not wish to take this chance. Besides, measures are now in place which restrict the movements of UK citizens, so I couldn’t, even if I wanted to.

So now I’ll have to settle for second best. I’ll have to figure out a way to proceed, without doing what I should have (and could have) done earlier.

Procrastination costs. And the time and opportunity that has been lost, cannot be redeemed.

(End of 5 Mins)

Procrastination has been my unfortunate song for as long as I can remember. But I so hate those lyrics. I absolutely despise the melody. I no longer want procrastination to be the rhythm of my life. In fact, you can read my post here where I made public my decision to break with this tiresome habit.

God says we are to redeem the time. I often believe for, and ask the Holy Spirit to help me redeem (make effective) whatever time I may have left. And when I ask this, I mean in terms of how long I have left to live in this world. I mean in terms of available time left, to work on my writing projects. I mean in terms of the time I have left, to network with others, to sow seeds of loving kindness, mercy and forgiveness, or to serve his purposes.

I feel the need to do this, because I often take time for granted, along with the opportunity it affords. I’m prone to forget that any presumed window of opportunity is not guaranteed to remain open, just to fit into my schedule. A schedule of “tomorrow”, which never comes!

As we have seen with the Corona-virus, nobody knows what’s around the corner, which could completely scupper our prior plans.

People die, or leave your life for various reasons. Situations change. Things you can be depending upon, may suddenly be taken out of the equation. And then the opportunity to do that which you wanted to do, or which God had asked you to do, disappears. Puff!

This happened to me recently.

I waited to do something good for someone. I delayed because of a mixture of procrastination and hard-heartedness. I’d failed to act because I allowed offence to lodge within my heart and dictate my inclinations.

And now, the opportunity to show God that my love for him, exceeds my desire to satisfy capricious whims, has gone. Puff! Because the person in question has now departed from this world.

So, now I have to deal with the fact that I allowed stubbornness to stop me from reaching out, offering an olive branch, renewing acquaintances.

I acted no differently to Pharaoh. Instead of grabbing the opportunity to be rid of the emotional frog in my life, and be free from accusatory thoughts and wrong attitudes that plagued me, I procrastinated. I held onto them until “tomorrow”.

In my heart, I was resisting God’s Word and clear requirement. With that resistance, my mind whispered “tomorrow” whilst my stubbornness decided “Not yet!”

God warns us about rebellion. He says that those who are often reproved but harden their hearts, will be cut off without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).

Of course, I don’t want this to be my lot. I don’t want the story of my life to be written with the quill and ink of selfish and disobedient conduct.

God’s Word also warns that “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2 KJV). There is a finite window of opportunity for you and me to walk in God’s ways… to be obedient to his will. Nobody knows when that window will close. So, waiting until tomorrow, a tomorrow that may never come, could work to our detriment.

If you are procrastinating about something you know you should do, or something God has instructed you to do, please pay heed dear reader, and learn a valuable lesson from me.

I pray for myself and for anyone else who struggles with similar issues. I pray that God will work within our hearts… that he will change us and bring us to that place where we both desire to obey His will, and actually do so, without delay.

Wishing you a peace-filled and victorious week.

With love,

Carol (aka Lady Cee)

Author of: Petitions From My Heart

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Not on our terms!

FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY

Q: What is Five Minute Friday?

A: It is a 5min free write blog event hosted by Kate Motaung. Every Thursday Kate announces a one-word prompt on her blog at 10pm EST. The link-up is open for a full week, until the following Thursday evening. For further details on how to participate visit her blog at: Heading Home.

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday Prompt: SHOULD

John the Baptist languishes in prison.

He sends some of his followers to Jesus with a question. Are you the coming one, or do we look for another?

Why did John the Baptist ask this question? After all he had baptised Jesus. He had witnessed the Holy Spirit in the shape of a dove hovering over his cousin. He had heard the voice of God saying: this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. He had even testified that this same Jesus would baptise with fire and that he (John) was unworthy of even loosening the latch on Christ’s shoes.

So what happened?

Adversity happened. Disappointment and disillusionment happened.

John was of the impression that this Jesus, the one whom he’d faithfully served, testified about and prepared the way of his coming, the one whom he’d confirmed was the Son of God, should have been doing something about his situation. He felt Jesus should have been making moves to rescue him from prison.

[End of 5mins]

After all Jesus must have heard about what had happened to him. After all, this is why Jesus had come to the earth wasn’t it? To deliver the captives. To set them free. So why hasn’t he? Why didn’t he muster his power and spirit him away, out of jail? Or why didn’t he come before Herod, overwhelm him with shame and conviction regarding his sin, use his powers of persuasion and demand his release? Why? Did he not love him? Did he not care?

And so as he sits in the darkness of his dungeon, John begins to entertain doubts. John listens to the taunts and lies of the Enemy. John begins to hold a pity-party. And as a result, he sends his followers off to ask a question, which barely veils an accusation.

Should we look for another Messiah? Should we look for another Saviour? Should we look for another Deliverer?

The question implies that Jesus had been weighed in the balance of John’s expectations and found wanting. The question implies that if Jesus is who he says he is, if Jesus is who John had believed him to be, then here was an opportunity to demonstrate his authority and power, here was an opportunity to show his compassion and mercy. So why hadn’t he?

And isn’t that how we are, as children of God, as followers of Christ? Full of faith, solid in conviction—until adversity strikes! Then come the doubts, the questions, the crisis of faith. We sit within the prison of our circumstances, within the confinement of our fears and wonder why God doesn’t rescue us, why Jesus doesn’t zap the situation with his power and make the injustice, the intolerable pain, the ugliness go away.

How did Jesus answer?

“Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:

The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them…” (Matthew 11:4-5)

 

John’s direct question was answered. Jesus provides incontrovertible evidence that he is the one, the expected Messiah. However, Jesus also answered John’s indirect query or accusation. His response delivers a sting in the tail. And blessed is he who is not offended because of me! (exclamation mine).

What can you and I learn from this?

  1. Don’t doubt in the darkness of trial, what you once believed in the light of revelation truth and experience
  2. Our relationship with God does not preclude us from injustice or tribulation and Christ does not answer to our every beck and call.
  3. We should not allow offence to develop in our heart when our expectations of God are disappointed.

In the face of bewilderment, discouragement or fear, how should we behave? With confidence that God is with us, despite what the devil implies, or our circumstances suggest!

We are told:

Fear not, for I am with you;

Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you,

Yes, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

 

And so we have a choice – trust and believe, or question and accuse.

 

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The Caged Bird’s Song

 

FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY

Q: What is Five Minute Friday?

A: It is a 5min free write blog event hosted by Kate Motaung. Every Thursday Kate announces a one-word prompt on her blog at 10pm EST. The link-up is open for a full week, until the following Thursday evening. For further details on how to participate visit her blog at: Heading Home.

Dear readers before I continue, I have to make a confession. Although this post began life as a 5min exercise, it has since been amended and refined!

 

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CC0 Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

Five Minute Friday Prompt: SING

 I don’t know why but Maya Angelou’s book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, came to mind, as soon as I saw this week’s prompt.

In the context of this blog’s purpose (which is to encourage women and to motivate us to walk as victorious overcomers), I see Christian woman who are habitually defeated or depressed, as akin to caged birds.

Most birds have the potential to sing joyously with abandon, to soar, to explore and enjoy their freedom but caged birds, in effect, have had their wings clipped.

Continuing with the above analogy, the cage (representing limiting beliefs, negative behaviour and Satan’s lies), both confines and defines.

Now of course the caged bird can sing but is its song true? Does it sing with the same harmony and sweetness as its counterparts that enjoy liberty?

Women of God, it is our choice whether any negative circumstance in which we may find ourselves, serves to imprison us. It is our responsibility to ensure that our Bible-based confession, or our testimony of faith becomes the spiritual song God hears, thus enabling him to liberate us.

Let us follow the example of the following writers, who confidently declared:

 

Behold God is my salvation,

I will trust and not be afraid;

For YAH, the Lord, is my

Strength and song;

He also has become my salvation.

(Isaiah 12:2 NKJV)

 

You are my hiding place;

You shall preserve me from trouble;

You shall surround me with

Songs of deliverance.

(Psalm 32:7 NKJV)

 

So, let me ask you dear Women of Warfare, how do you sing? As a caged bird, or as a potential bird of paradise… a beautiful bird of liberty?

 

 

That Deadly Desire to Control

Five Minute Friday

Q: What is Five Minute Friday?

A: It is a 5min free write blog event hosted by Kate Motaung. Every Thursday Kate announces a one word prompt on her blog at 10pm EST. The link-up is open for a full week, until the following Thursday evening. For further details on how to participate visit her blog at: Heading Home.

 

policeman-pixabay23796_960_720

 

Five Minute Friday Prompt: CONTROL

It’s sad really. Diabolical in fact!

The way some people want to control you. Control your behaviour. Control your clothing and the way you dress. Control how you treat others. Control your destiny.

And do they want to control you for your own good? No siree! They want to control you for their ulterior motives. Are they seeking to control you because they love you and have your best interests at heart? No way! They care only about themselves.

Habitual manipulators seek to control you for many reasons. Because they want you to fear them. Because they wish to alienate you. Because they secretly, or openly despise you. Because they seek to hurt you. Because they have such a low self-esteem that the only way they can feel good about themselves, or assert themselves, is to undermine you, to control you.

And so they do, or think they do. But they have left one important factor out of the equation. One very BIG factor. God. God Almighty! The one who created heaven and earth. The one who crafted mankind and breathed life into their souls. They have forgotten that it is God’s breath in their nostrils. God, who upholds this world with the word of his power. This God, this God of gods, is the one in ultimate control.

END OF 5MINS

Now, isn’t it ironic that the one who actually has supreme power, control of all that happens both in heaven and on earth, is not so precious about it? Isn’t it staggering to realise that Jesus, equal member of the triune Godhead, decided he was not going to cling to control, to the authority, majesty and power he once held in heaven, in order that he might come down to earth, identify with the sin and frailties of humankind and lay down his glorious, sinless life, so that whosoever wills, may grasp the opportunity to become born-again in a new kingdom, with a new status, subject to new rules?

How many despots do you know or have heard of, who willingly relinquish power? How many dictators do you know, who graciously abdicate their place on the coveted seat of authority and power?

And why is it that if you do not agree with said dictator’s views then bombs, or the threat of decapitation, or torture, is their only response? Terrorism, not love, is their byword, their fear-inducing catchphrase.

Every day we hear, read about and see, heart-breaking scenarios of man’s beastly attempt to control others, almost as a matter of course. It is not uncommon to discover living amongst us in our nation, within our neighbourhoods, or even in our own families, a victim of a wife/husband beater, a survivor of human rights atrocities, or a reviled asylum seeker. These people are subject to perpetual ill-treatment, to constant violation. Many are helpless prey, caught in the snare of Satan’s demonic control.

I’m positive that practically every single one of us reading this post would strenuously condemn the attitudes and actions of abusers, bigots, despots or terrorists. And yet….

Yet, I wonder whether we are sometimes guilty of similar sins (albeit on a lower level). Do we use our influence in a way that seeks to control or marginalise others—at work, at church, at home? Do we boycott those we don’t like or disagree with? Do we draw others into our circles of reproach? Do we woo family and friends to critique parties and gossip sessions and send folks to Coventry, in order to hammer home our message?—obey, or you’ll pay!

If I’m honest, it’s easy to nit-pick, or magnify the faults and failings of others, particularly those who have offended me, or blackballed me in some way, or who don’t live according to my standards—and not realise that whilst condemning, criticising or judging others, those same imperfections which I self-righteously seek to highlight, exist in some measure in my own life.

As Jesus so humorously put it, dare we pass judgment on, or seek to address the misdeeds of others when there is a massive log in our eye, blinding us to our own faults?

And as Paul shrewdly observes:

Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. (Romans 2:1 NKJV)

Does that mean we should never speak out against wrong-doing, or seek to encourage or correct others? No! That’s not what I’m saying. But, as followers of Christ, and as Christian bloggers seeking to influence others, we should take note of Paul’s following query:

You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? (Romans 2:21 NKJV).

 His question certainly provides food for thought—and perhaps occasion for examining our own lives—don’t you think?

Women of Warfare followers and visitors, in our bid to influence, let us be wary of creating cliques and clubs, rather than communities. Let’s be careful not to marginalise or control others. And above all, let’s share what we have to say, or feel we need to say, in a spirit of true humility.

Have a blessed and victorious week!

 

PS: The linkup for this prompt has now closed.

 

And the winner is . . .

FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY!

Q: What is Five Minute Friday?

A: It is a 5min free write blog event hosted by Kate Motaung. Every Thursday Kate announces a one-word prompt on her blog at 10pm EST. The link-up is open for a full week, until the following Thursday evening. For further details on how to participate visit her blog at: Heading Home.

 

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 Five Minute Friday Prompt: MIDDLE

 Jesus. Me. Satan.

I’m in the middle!

Three distinct personalities. Three different beings.

To my right is Jesus—Lord of lords, Kings of kings, Prince of Peace.

In the middle is me—redeemed child of God.

And to the left, is him—accuser of the brethren. Deceiver. Thief. Father of Lies. The Evil One.

Either side of me, each personality vies for my attention. Each being seeks to influence my thoughts, govern my actions. One lovingly seeks to do so for my ultimate benefit and welfare. The other maliciously intends to steal my confidence, to kill my dreams, to destroy me.

Who wins? The one to whom I accede control. The one to whom I submit.

I’d like to think it is always Jesus. I’d like to say: ‘Jesus, of course!

But unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the unvarnished truth. I have to admit that there are times, when I want to govern.

STOP [end of 5mins]

There are times when I question the Word and therefore I am questioning Jesus, since he is the Word made flesh. And there are times when what I want is more appealing to my ego, or my sense of comfort, or my understanding, than what Christ demands.

And so there is a tussle. There’s a spiritual wrestling between my soul (mind, will, emotions) and spirit, between my intellect or sense-knowledge, and the logic-busting, God-type of faith.

And what of the other side—Mr Diablo, Mr Evil personified? How does he fit into this scenario?

Well Satan, the devil, my enemy and God’s arch-enemy, hates me. So he seeks to muddy the waters. He schemes to undermine my faith. He challenges and sabotages my beliefs, which were based upon the unchanging promises of God’s Word.

His subtle questioning (Did God say. . . ?), his sowing of sneering doubts, (Well, God may produce miracles for Bible saints, or significant men of faith but what makes you think He’ll do it for you?), assault my mind daily, hourly, even at times moment by moment, until I begin to waver, until I, at times, agree with him and re-examine my thinking, my hopes, my expectations.

Who wins?

Dear reader, after years of suffering from this spiritual tug of war, I reluctantly report that sometimes it is Jesus and sometimes it is Satan.

But what about you? (I hear you ask). What about me? (I playfully respond).

Dear reader, I may well be caught in the middle but the truth is, there are only two master influences, two spiritual forces, at work in this world. The first and foremost is Jesus: the Son of God, the Living Word, the one who “upholds all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).

The second (a significantly inferior power), is Satan: the one whom Jesus saw fall from heaven, the one whom Jesus conquered, the one whom Jesus disarmed when he arose from the dead in resurrection triumph and, stripping Mr Diablo and his evil principalities of their powers, made a public spectacle of them all! (See Colossians 2:15).

Even should I be deceived into thinking that I’m exercising my own will, governing my own life, the fact of the matter is, that in reality I am not! Either Jesus is, or Satan is (there is no middle ground)—and that goes for every single being upon this planet.

When I submit my thoughts, attitudes and actions in obedience to God’s Word then Jesus reigns. He is Lord of my life. But when I agree with the lies and suggestions of the enemy, which are contrary to the Truth, when I selfishly decide I want to do my own thing, then guess what? I come into agreement with the devil and I’m allowing him to manipulate my life, whether I’m aware of this or not, whether you believe it or not.

And if you don’t believe dear reader – think Adam and Eve. Think serpent. Think subtle deception. Think satanic manipulation, provoking self-willed disobedience. Think transfer of allegiance. Think paradise lost!

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CREDIT: CC0 Image – courtesy of Steen Møller Laursen at Pixabay.com

An Olympic Godhead

FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY!

 

Q: What is Five Minute Friday?

A: It is a 5min free write blog event hosted by Kate Motaung. Every Thursday Kate announces a one-word prompt on her blog at 10pm EST. The link-up is open for a full week, until the following Thursday evening. For further details on how to participate visit her blog at: Heading Home.

(Although I’ve missed the link-up for this prompt I’ve decided to post anyway).

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

Five Minute Friday Prompt: TEAM

 

Team.

A word that conjures a picture of unity and togetherness. Everyone on the same side pulling together! That’s the ideal.

I’ve been part of a team – such as a netball team, such as an editorial team. These teams more or less lived up to that ideal. We all worked together for a common goal—whether that was to beat the opposing side, or to produce a great magazine issue.

I’ve also been part of a team that did not live up to this ideal. Where members back-stabbed and undermined and sought glory for themselves in order to shine, in order to get on and move up. Unpleasant!

What (I wonder), would it be like to work in a team such as the one the Holy Trinity are part of (Father, Son and Holy Ghost)? Each member celebrating the other, co-operating with each other, consulting and agreeing with one another on momentous decisions: “Let us make man in our own image”.

What would it be like to be equal in power, in ability and authority, and yet submit graciously to the other team members? What must it feel like to allow the separate members to shine… to do what they are tasked with—without getting in the way, without questioning, without plotting to grab the glory? Oh the unimaginable bliss of complete and utter unity!

Holy Godhead, how I envy you! How marvellous it must be to work in such an atmosphere of total unity and respect.

Father God, sweet Jesus, divine Holy Spirit – you are the true Olympians!

 

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Question:  Do you have any memorable team experiences you would like to share (good or bad)?