Fighting Sin Part 1

From the time I was so little in Sunday school, I was taught to run away from sin. Back then running away from sin meant that I should resist the temptation of stealing powdered milk, peanut butter and sugar. It meant I should not say bad things to my friends, my family or anyone I met. It meant I should not skip to say good morning to my parents and every other adult in my life every morning. I was taught to run away from sin and for as long as I remember, I was trying to run away from sin by trying to do good things to cover up for the bad things I would have done.

I would be extra kind to a friend as a compensation of a sin that I would have committed to another friend. As I am growing up, the degree of sin I commit is maturing as I am maturing as well. I was taught to flee from sin, to fight sin and as much as I know from the word of God that sin separates us from God our perfect father who loves us, I still find it difficult to fight sin. I grew up thinking temptation was where sin came from, but we only get tempted by the desires of our hearts (according to the word of God), meaning the source of sin is not the temptation but our hearts from which the desires are coming from. Temptation does not exist where desire does not first exist. The bible tells us “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire”

There are so many beliefs of what to do when you want to stop doing a sin. Do you try to deprive yourself of something, keep away from tempting situations or try to destruct yourself with more innocuous activities? You have probably already learned this through practice, but none of these techniques will ever work. You cannot deprive yourself, ignore your desires or beat your will into submission. Why? Because your mind and will aren’t the centre of your decision making process, your heart is. If you don’t love something you won’t do it and if you don’t hate something you won’t leave it alone.

In the world that we are living in now, there are many different solutions of how you can stop sinning, in self-help books, from motivational speakers, religious leaders’ etc. There is always some new found wisdom of how to stop bad habits and start good habits, many of them treat sin like a diet. Starve out the bad and feed the good habits, the only problem is deprivation cannot change the heart any more than starving yourself can get rid of hunger.

Paul is going up against similar religious tactics of his time and he is trying to help his audience fight indulgences of sinful flesh. But before he tells them how to do it, he tells them how not to do it.

Colossians 2:20-23

“If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world do you submit to regulations. “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch” (referring to the things that all perish as they are used) according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body but they are of no value in stopping indulgence of the flesh.”

1 Timothy 4:7-8

“Have nothing to do with irreverent myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way as it holds promise for the present life and also the life to come.”

I thought that it all comes down to the decisions we make e.g. if you set your mind on doing good you will and if you set your mind on doing bad you will. You may be thinking like me, but Jesus teaches us that the real source of our actions lies much deeper than our minds, it’s the heart. Whatever is in your heart ends up in your life. What you treasure, value, glory in and enjoy will result in what you do. If you treasure good things in your heart, then you will do good, if you treasure evil in your heart then you will do evil.

Luke 6:45

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Only when we focus on our internal desires instead of our external temptations, will we be addressing sin at a deeper level. Only when we look at what we want and not just what we do, will we be getting nearer to where the battle of sin is truly taking place. So how exactly do we change what our hearts’ treasures? The answer in Jesus’ words is different than we might expect. We might expect a list of disciplines, habits or meditations that would change our hearts value. However the condition of our hearts are not based on what we do, but they are changed by who we are. Jesus taught that a good tree can’t bear bad fruit and a bad tree can’t bear good fruit.

What lies at the bottom of our sins? Throughout this piece, we have seen that the heart plays a central role in leading us into sin or holiness. But what exactly affects the heart to have good desires and not evil desires? How can we change our hearts? How can we fight sin according to the word of God? This will be covered in part 2 of fighting sin. Jesus has provided everything we need in the gospel so that our hearts will begin to run from sin and towards God.

Why Wait…..

If the truth be told, we all don’t want waiting. Particularly if we are waiting for something to change or something to get better. Waiting can be a very frustrating experience, but the worst kind of waiting of all, is waiting on God.

When God forces you to wait for things to get better in your life and nothing is happening.  And yet over and over and over again, we are told to wait in the Bible.

Psalms 130: 5-6  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in His word I hope, my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning.

Psalms 27: 13-14 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage, wait for the Lord.

What does it mean to wait for the Lord.

Biblically waiting for the Lord means to not go outside of the Lord to resolve your issue.

James 5: 7 Therefore be patient brethren until the divine intervention of the Lord, the farmer waits before the fresh produce of the soil, being patient about it until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient, strengthen your heart until the divine intervention is near.

Because if you go outside God to resolve your issues, you delay God in His intervention. One of the ways to know you are not waiting on God in James is that you will be spending a lot of your time complaining instead of worshipping and praising God.

Waiting on God means obeying God as you wait, based on his revealed will according to his word. You will never see what He has planned in secret unless He sees that you are obeying what He has revealed in His word. God doesn’t tell you everything that He’s going to do, but what He tells you in His word, He expects you to do until He shows you what you don’t know that you will do. So when you are tempted to cry and complain about the waiting, that is an invitation to worship. So that raises the question :

What exactly in the world is God doing while I’m waiting?

I definitely want to know what’s going on while I’m waiting. If you are a Christian,  two things are happening while you are waiting and nothing and no one illustrates this like the story of Joseph.

Psalm 105: 17& 19 He sent a man before them, even Joseph who was sold for a servant 19. Until the time that His word came: the Lord tested him

Until the time: There was a time aspect for the Lord. He sent Joseph, but how did He sent him? Guess what, his brothers got jealous of the coat of many colors that his father got for him, he was thrown into a pit, argued that he was dead, his brother sold him to the Ishmaelites as a slave, he was taken in slavery and sold in Egypt to Potiphar’s house, once in Potiphar’s house one day he was accused of rape, even though he didn’t commit rape, he was send in jail and the story goes on. This is how God sent him. He send him through things which were all wrong in his life, he send him through one negative situation after another and he’s miserable while God is sending him. He didn’t know whether he was going to live or die while God was busy doing something bigger than him.

One reason why God has you waiting, me waiting, us waiting for various things is that He is doing something bigger than you. You are the one going through a tough time yes, but He is doing something bigger than you. He sent Joseph ahead of his brothers and his father to prepare the way for the rest of the family to come in order to build a nation in the land of Egypt. So while Joseph was the one being sent, he was being sent for a bigger purpose. That’s why when Joseph finally realized what God was doing he said ” God send me here to save you all”. One of the reasons you are waiting is because God is up to something bigger than just you alone.

You know what really gets bad while you are waiting, when God gives you a little hope and the hope dies. It’s bad enough to wait, but don’t give me hope while I’m waiting and then kill the hope. When Joseph interpreted a dream in jail when 2 cell mates had dreams, he told the one that was released to remember him to Pharaoh, and the guy simply forgot. To Joseph it was a chance that he was finally getting released, but he stayed 2 more years because his cellmate forgot.

While I’m waiting, I will serve You….

The second reason why God have us waiting is in Psalms 105:19. The word of the Lord tested him.

What is a test

A test is a negative circumstance that God allows to come to your life for your spiritual development. Because God knew that He was preparing Joseph to make him the second ruler in the Kingdom of Egypt, He had to take him deeper. God tests us because of where He’s taking us and also because it’s easy to worship Him when nothing is wrong, remember Job. He wants us to worship Him not only because of what He has done or He can do for us, but also for who He is.

God is Sovereign. If you do not understand that God is Sovereign, then you will be talking of luck,  and chance and maybe and perhaps,  you will miss the God behind everything. If you understand God is Sovereign, you will thank God even when you don’t understand even with the negative because you will know nothing happens to you that hasn’t passed through God’s approval. When you follow God, obey God, praise God and love God and negative things are happening to you,  do not lose sight of the sovereignty of God,  neither did Joseph. When you understand that God oversees even the negatives while you wait, it changes your perspective as you wait.

How do you know when you are waiting on God that God is still with you?

Isaiah 40: 27-31. Why do you say O Jacob, and speak O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord and my right is disregarded by God” 28.Have you not known ? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable. 29. He gives power to the faint and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30. Even youths shall faint and be weary and young men shall fall exhausted 31. but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

You cannot figure God out, you can only see what He reveals but you cannot figure Him out. Even if you ask a million people who are also lost and waiting like you are, like I am, like we are, we wont figure Him out. He says He doesn’t get weary neither does He get tired .

So in the meantime while I’m waiting what do I do.

He gives strength to the weary, to those who lacks might He increases power. So here is how you know if God is with you while you wait, according to Isaiah. He gives you new strength in 3 ways which are in Isaiah 31.

God will always turn things around for the good of those who love Him. He will turn them around in a way that will surprise you when the His time comes. In a way that’s abundantly above all we are asking Him for.

Identity

Why Identity

We are living in a world where there are so many voices defining us, some from within and some from without. I personally sometimes find myself believing what people say about me or how my emotions or circumstances define me. It is not until I realize who I really am irrespective of all the voices, that I will live up to the person who my Creator says I am. This piece I’m not only writing for myself, as a quick reminder of the truth, but also for you who may find it helpful.

It doesn’t matter how everybody else calls you or defines you, it doesn’t even matter how you define yourself. The only truth about your identity is found in the word of God. Not even your circumstances, your history, your failures, your success, your struggles, your ideologies, your feelings /emotions either good or bad, have the authority to define you. You are who God says you are. You have been created in the image of God, it means your skin color, your body shape, your personality, every unique aspect of your physicality have been made in the very image of God. You personality is a unique expression of the creative genius of God. You are made and fitted with the uniqueness of your personality in the image of God. You are not introverted by mistake, neither are you extroverted by mistake. Even your weaknesses aren’t a liability, they are actually a unique fitting by God because these weaknesses just become a platform for the strength of God to be displayed through your life. So you can surrender all of who you are to God through Jesus Christ so that His glory will be shown through you.

So Who Exactly Are you

You are a child of God and the Holy Spirit lives on the inside of you. You are reconciled with God through Jesus Christ, you have been justified and you have peace through God. You have access to God’s wisdom, you are Christ’s ambassador and you have Christ’s righteousness. You are completely forgiven and you are tenderly loved and you are the temple in which God dwells. You are blameless, you are the salt of the earth and you the light of the world. You are chosen by Christ to bear fruit, you are a joint Heir with Christ and you share His inheritance with him. You are united with the Lord, you are a member of the body of Christ and you are a saint. You are chosen by God, you are a child of light and you are holy.

You share in God’s heavenly calling, you are sanctified and you are one of God’s stones being built up in Christ as a spiritual house. You are a member of a chosen race, you are a royal priesthood and you are created to sing the praises of God. You are rooted and built up in Christ, you are fearfully and wonderfully made and you are born of God. You have the mind of Christ, you can approach God with boldness freedom and confidence. You have been rescued from the devil’s domain and you have been transferred into the Kingdom of Christ. You have been made complete in Christ, you have been given the spirit of love and the power of a sound mind. All of your needs are met by God for you are royalty in God’s Kingdom.

You have been born with a price, you have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit in you and you are free from any condemning charges that are against you. Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. You have been established and anointed by God, you are a personal witness of Christ and you are a citizen of Heaven. You are God’s co-worker, you are seated with Christ in the heavenly places and you are God’s workmanship. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

It is difficult to live your life as who you truly are when you try to do it on your own. The good thing is you are not on your own, you have the Holy Spirit of God strengthening you to be who you really are. In every decision that you make in your every day to day life, allow yourself to just take a second to think if it allows you to align with who you really are, irrespective of the other voices around you.

Who Am I

By Grace Through Faith (Ephesians 2)

Many times I find myself forgetting who I am and the only truth of who I am is found in the word of God. So I’m writing this piece for myself and for someone who may need to remind themselves of who they are at a personal level.

And He made me alive, who was dead in trespasses and sin in which I once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among once also I once conducted myself in the lusts of my flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and was by nature a child of wrath, just as the others.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved me, even when I was dead in trespasses, made me alive together with Christ (By grace I have been saved), and raises me up together and made me sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward me in Christ Jesus. For by grace I have been saved through faith and that not of myself, It is the gift of God, not of works, lest I should boast. For I am His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that I should walk in them.

Now therefore, I am no longer a stranger and foreigner, but fellow citizen with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Why this question

Many at times we find our identity in the things that we do or that we own, the good, the bad and everything in between. If anyone was to ask me who I am, I’m probably going to tell them that I’m a medical doctor or the director of so and so. If that was to be truly my identity, does that mean if all that is stripped away from me I will be a lesser person or if more was to be added my identity would be inflated (I don’t think so). We may be tempted to define ourselves with our emotions, our mindsets or our actions, but the truth of who we are is in the word of God and it is more than we can imagine. It is our responsibility to ask the Holy Spirit that is within us to help review who we really are as we are living in this life.

It’s Your Birthday

Our Journey

Honestly I don’t even remember how we met nine years ago, we were not best friends when we first met but we were just friends. I used to believe in coincidences and thought that we are friends just because we happen to have the same interests and almost all the times it just so happens that when I’m feeling like doing something or eating something you feel the same way. People used to ask and some even are asking how we are always together, having a great time talking and laughing yet we stay together and almost everyday we sleep late talking and laughing.You would think common sense says ‘I need a break from you Smacky’,because you are always there, everywhere.

We used to have dreams since high school of which most of them came to pass with the grace of the Lord and He continues to guide us through. Like I said before, everything that we lived from 9 years ago, I thought we got what we got because we were working hard, I thought we are staying together and are friends because we just happen to be in the same place at a particular time wanting the same thing. It is only recently when I realised that in my life there’s really nothing that is a coincidence, everything I’m living is predestined because of God’s Sovereign nature.

I learnt a lot of things from you Smacky and the biggest among all is your unconditional love and I still am learning. I wonder how much I would have learnt If i made this realization 3 or 5 years ago. You never know, maybe I met you so that I learn and know what I know now that I didn’t know before . Maybe if I have learnt that 5 years ago we wouldn’t be where we are today, the point is I’m grateful we are were we are now and I’m so grateful. If you were a humble friend I was going to list all the things I learnt from you but NO THANKS, I will tell you in August. Just know that you were a very huge blessing in my life and I pray and hope that whoever you are going to meet from now on see the blessing that you are, continue shining your light to everyone.

This is probably the last birthday that we will spend together like this, I don’t know what the future holds for both of us, but what I know is God has something great reserved for you. I wish you love, joy, happiness and peace all the time like before. There is something that I don’t know if I should be happy or sad you taught me slowly but surely, to be a food lover. Now people don’t believe me when I tell them that I used to be a very light eater and not to be a fan of ‘red blood cells’.

You are going to run away from me soon, yah you are right, this is me trying to make you feel bad. I wish you meet other great friends and probably this time around try to screen your friends and get one who will give you a better birthday present than a piece of writing. Being worried about physical presents is for children, you are a grown up I’m not expecting that from you.

HAVE A GREAT YEAR

LOTS OF LOVE

Your one and only

Being A Child Is So Exhilarating…

When I was below ten years of age, life was so beautiful and fulfilling but that is the time that I didn’t work so hard to achieve anything. Every day was a totally new day disconnected to the previous or the future day. I would wake up with so much energy to play and every time I was awake it was play, play, play. At the moment that’s all I could think about, so even when my mother would call me home to bath or eat, I would feel disturbed because to me the day was so short, I couldn’t get enough play in one.

That’s my 14 year old little brother having a moment….

I had friends from different social classes in the growth point, we would all be playing together. During that time, we all had fantasies about how our future lives would be like especially during the time when we would be playing house. The beauty of a fantasy that I know even now is that it doesn’t have any limits. I could describe my future career or family the way I was imagining it and we had no limitations to that. No one among the group would stop at imagining what they wanted because someone else have imagined it. Now that I’m thinking deeply about it, I think as children we knew for sure that our successes in life are individualized and so everyone was creating their own reality without focusing much on what someone else is creating.

During the times when we had fights during playing, the approach to solving it was always like a GPS. You know what GPS does when it tells you to take the next right but you don’t, it redirects you from where you are at that particular moment. It never says you should now stop and let’s discuss why you didn’t follow instructions. There was no moment when we would seat down to explain how everything went wrong and who should have done what better, so that the outcome would have been different. We would just look at the current problem and address it from there, we didn’t care much of the details of how it happened.

If someone was to be angry, bully or selfish, we would tell them how we no longer want to play with them forever, but forgiveness would come within minutes and we would reunite. Every day was new to an extent that if we went to sleep, we would wake up and not pay attention to the activities of the previous day, all we knew was playing should be fun. The so called realities of life were introduced to us slowly with the adults we lived with or met from around 6 years. They would tell you how you should never play with such and such a friend, they would remind you that if you give someone your toy again today he/she will do what he/she did yesterday, they would ask for the specific details of what went wrong when you were playing, they will tell you reasons why your fantasy will remain a fantasy.

Of course they didn’t mean any harm, but I’m just thinking what if they left us in that world. What if what we call reality today became reality because we have fantasized it for long enough without realizing? What if the way we lived as children is the purest form of living? If people left children in their fantasy lands and their forgiving selves, does that mean we can create a generation with abundance of love, kindness, forgiveness, sharing and joy by supporting the realities of our children? What somebody did yesterday is considered today’s reality, what we do today is considered tomorrow’s reality. How much of what we are doing today is subconsciously considered reality for tomorrow?

The vicious cycle of health, outlook and happiness…

Health impacts mood, mood impacts outlook and outlook impacts health.

Have you ever noticed that when you are not feeling well your friends and relatives seem to talk to you with caution .If they were laughing about something, suddenly they lower their voices. I don’t know if that’s supposed to make the patient feel better in any way, but I can’t help but realise when it comes to health issues, people are not as happy.

The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.”

Sir William Osler

If you come to the hospital, most of the times we want to make sure we relieve you of the symptoms of the condition you are presenting with. We ask you if the symptoms are getting better or worse, we ask any other associated symptoms-you know the usual doctor stuff. We do all this so that we know how to manage you appropriately so that you feel better. It was taught to me very clearly in medical school that I should have a holistic approach when treating patients and in my mind its exactly what I should be doing for every patient.

But in contrast, as a doctor in practice, I will be more focused on the physical aspects of the disease, to the extent that if a patient reports that their symptoms are better than the previous day I feel happy that I would have done a good job. It is on very few occasions that I inquire about the emotional status of the patient. Not because I’m a very bad Doctor (or maybe I am), but in most cases I will be having a long queue of patients waiting to be assisted and typically patients will rather freely report their physical ailments- having been programmed accordingly or perhaps and even sadly not wanting to burden us with the emotional qualities of their illnesses.

Being on the other side of the table when a patient is sick had subconsciously made me someone who sees a patient with the eyes of the doctor. Forgetting that if a patient is being followed up for conditions like hypertension, Diabetes, HIV or even an acute condition like typhoid, they still have to tolerate their medication every day, they still have to deal with the effects of the disease and medication in their daily lives. Their feelings are the stories and impact behind their conditions.

Their pain might be improving, they maybe tolerating their medication but perhaps they are afraid, frustrated, nervous, angry, hopeless, depressed or upset. And if so, does it matter? Does it impact their disease state? Should we care? If time is a limiting factor for healthcare professionals , whose responsibility is it to make sure that being a patient doesn’t mean misery? I truly believe that someone can actually be a happy patient. I don’t presume that these challenges are facile to solve, but I know that a patient’s happiness matters as much as their cholesterol.

Opportunities – Do we all get them?

Growing up as a girl child in Zimbabwe, I really wasn’t sure if any opportunities would come my way for me to achieve what I imagined I would achieve. In my early years of high school, I would go to school and do the business of the day and that was it. All I knew was that I one day want to be successful but I didn’t know how. I learnt at Gwindingwi High School, which was not among the best schools in the area. There was no career guidance to talk about, all I had was hope. I hoped that one day I will know what I wanted to be in the future, and its interesting that I was very comfortable and was not worried about it for a single day. If I can say, this is the time that I really lived one day at a time, without thinking about tomorrow.

Years went by, I wrote my O Levels, got 5 As and 5Bs then I transferred to a boarding school Silveira High School where my brother was doing his A Levels. My brother was and is still among the smartest and intelligent people I know and he somehow determined the  subjects that were given to me at this new school, not directly though but rather without him knowing. When the senior master who was allocating the new students their classes saw my surname, he imposed that I do Maths , Physics and Chemistry for my A levels because he thought I was as intelligent as my brother. This was the first opportunity that rang a bell inside me, I didn’t think I was good enough to do such a combination of subjects.

All those smiles for the life changing opportunity we all got……

Time went by, ups and downs I went through my A level and I managed to get 18 points after adding Accounts to my combination. Again I was inspired to add the fourth subject by my brother who did five subjects and got 23 points. I then applied for the Joshua Nkomo Scholarship Fund (a scholarship for academic excellence offered by the Higherlife Foundation). I got the scholarship for my University education, this again was a life changing opportunity for me. I applied for Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery Degrees at the University Of Zimbabwe which I got, another life changing opportunity.

Time and again, I meet new people who offer life changing opportunities in the most unimaginable ways, but opportunities keep coming and I’m so grateful. There is a question that keeps coming to my mind every time I get even the smallest of opportunities in my day to day life. Is everyone else getting opportunities to lead them where they want to be? Is a girl who is in her early high school years at Gwindingwi at this moment getting opportunities as well? What about a girl who didn’t get an opportunity to go to school to start with, how will they be able to reach their goals if they miss such a life changing opportunity?