Communication is key

As I continue my sojourn of churches in Barbados this year, I visited the church on the hill St. Silas. st.silas.jpgWe spent a good 15 minutes searching for this elusive place of worship. We drove on and on looking for a sign and those whom we asked told us to continue driving through g through the affluent district of Apes Hill St. James. It was through perseverance and faith that we found the Church and it was worth the search. The refreshing breeze came across the hill and cooled our fevered brows as we alighted from the car. The service was well underway at 9:15. We had called the day before to enquire about the service times and the person informed us that church began at 9:30. Imagine our surprise as we were ushered to our seats in a well packed church. Two reasons accounted for the packed congregation. First they were celebrating the Church’s festival and second one of the members of the congregation was turning 50 years old. He had invited several family members and friends, including the Barbados cricketing legend Desmond Haynes. gordon.jpg

For those readers of my blog who are not aware of Desmond Haynes, he was a talented Barbadian cricketer who was one of the opening batsmen for the West Indies cricket team. His was a golden age as the opening duo of himself and Gordon Greenidge saw the West Indies team to many victories during the 1990’s.

Yet I digress, for the theme of this issue is communication. Communication is displayed in the rambling nature and lack of road signage to mark the location of the church. Communication is experienced by the people telling us to keep driving and we will get there. It is further seen as miscommunication by the mixup in the starting times of the church service. Communication is the purpose of the many people who were worshipping. Communication is seen in celebration of the Church’s festival, the gentleman’s 50th birthday and the contribution of Desmond Haynes to West Indian cricket. All stem from the same source: communication is key. longfellow

The priest in charge Reverend Desmond Ward used the platform of the Gospel reading which was themed: Lord teach us to pray. Reverend Ward highlighted that Jesus led by example which was more effective than leading by opinion. Jesus was a man of prayer. On various occasions in the four gospels in the Bible, Jesus prays. He prays for his disciples, He prays before performing miracles and He prays in times of trouble and need. Most importantly, Jesus sets aside quiet moments for prayer. He extracts himself from the crowd and busyness of His life and strengthens His Spirit through prayer. We who call ourselves Christians must follow the example of Jesus.teach-us-to-pray

Prayer is communication between God and person. How do we pray? When should we pray? Why do we pray? These questions are pertinent to our spiritual development. We remember that God answers prayer and the hinge of that answer is according to God’s will. So as Reverend Ward implored us, I ask you to take some time out of your busy schedule and pray to God.

We must not only speak our prayer but take time to listen for God’s voice. In order for communication to be successful it must have these elements: a sender, a message and a receiver. In order for that message to be clearly received distractions need to be ignored and focus planted firmly on the sender. Prayer is a conversation between God and person. God speaks to us in a variety of ways: nature, His Word and people in our lives. The key is to listen for God knows what is best.

 

Take Everything to God

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Ever had a recurring dream? Some may go so far as to call it a nightmare. Yet this dream is a manifestation of your subconscious working out an unresolved mental challenge.  Your challenge may be based on valid or invalid anger. Whether valid or invalid, the issue haunts you even in your dreams while you sleep.

This dream becomes a vivid memory, as exact moments, colours and feelings associated with this dream can be easily recalled. Within the mental anguish, questions torment the psyche. Lord why me? Why am I unable to get over this? Where is the escape route for these overwhelming emotions? At what point in time will this situation be conquered?  There is a way to get over this. There is a means for escape from these emotions. This is a fortifying process that will lead you to your life’s ultimate purpose which has been set out for you by God.

These trials and temptations provide the opportunity to fine tune your fighting skills. Either you train your body to fight them physically or you train your psyche to fight them on a mental level. Ironically the mental training is reflected in your physical prowess. The attitude of believing in yourself serves in good stead in this mental combat. A psychological fight requires the weapons of patience and endurance. These are activated through the remembrance of God’s grace and favour. Your resolve is strengthened as the courage is built up to face this and all of life’s challenges.

What a friend we have in Jesus! God is your FFL (Friend for Life). He is by your side and He is always present. Take everything to God through the channel of prayer. Consistent prayer strengthens your connection with God. Wait quietly for God , as you put your trust and hope in Him. The Lord is intentional for the promise remains that everything works for the good of those who love Him. Your heart will grow stronger through the working of the Holy Spirit. While you wait, while you endure, stand strong. These challenges in life are the opportunities to make you stronger and draw you closer to God, for He’s intentional.

 

Labels: Why?

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From the inception of the human race, the Biblical story of creation paints the image of God giving the man the task of giving names to everything. Labelling is in our DNA for we need to label to create awareness and achieve understanding. Labels provide definition and meaning and purpose is the central crave of the human race. Everything in life was made for a purpose. We spend our whole lives searching and fulfilling our purpose that it encompasses our daily activities.

Therefore the aim of this final part of the labelling series is to tie up any loose ends, by using the main points expressed in the previous articles. The labelling of women and children is a primary focus in many academic studies. That is not to neglect the matter of the labelling of men. For men endure many stereotypes, through the medium of labelling. Women have been labelled from the inception of time as man noted that she was from him. Woman was created from man initially as God performed the first surgery. God was the anaesthesiologist as He put the man to sleep during this procedure. Man was created from the dust and woman was created from the rib of the man. In fact the origins of the word woman gives the impression of a man with a womb. The initial saying could have been “womb-man” which converted to “woman” over time.

Fast track to the present day, where the female stereotype permeates all media sources. Women are expected to live up to that ideal. A decision which they choose to wrestle with in their lives. Children are related to woman. It is through woman that children are formed, birthed and nurtured. Children are labelled from the knowledge of their existence. At each stage of a child’s life he or she is categorised according to gender, health and possibilities. Again there is a wealth of literature on the labelling of children as these different labels create awareness of learning and developmental irregularities.

Yet the question remains: to what extent should we let labels define us? If we do not meet those ideals imposed on us through these labels does it make us any less of a person. An old adage says: “To thine own self be true.” Labels should create an awareness yet it should not be a complete definition. As we embrace the ingrained feature of labelling, there should be a balance as we use those labels in a positive way. If the case is extreme and this label causes great consternation do away with it. Yet we must strive to learn about this circumstance surrounding that label in a quest to be honest and true to ourselves. For once we do that we can be a great influence to ourselves and others. Through this influence we can magnify the glory of God and truly achieve our unique purpose in this lifetime.

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Psalm Challenge Pt 4

As  I come to the end of this challenge, I would like to express a few thoughts. This is the end result of that soul searching talk with my mother. Each day I would search the Internet for the corresponding Scriptures. It felt as if I drew closer to God as he guided me along this journey. The collaborative relationship between God and I revealed so much about my personality. I wonder with hope as I look forward to future challenges in life with God by my side.

So the below slideshow comprises of the first verses of the final 30 Psalms in the Bible; Psalm 121 to 150. These petitions to God are the blue prints which reveal how to live in the ups and downs of life. These first verses to God are excellent prayer starters which can be used at anytime. Whether you are having a mountain top experience or a down in the valley experience, life goes on. Tenacity is revealed through your responses to life’s circumstances.

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Psalm Challenge Pt 3

Did you know that the Psalms reflect the themes of the first five books of the Bible?

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This journey culminates in the final part where we compile all of the experiences related to this challenge and look to the future with hope.

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Psalm Challenge Pt 2

This challenge is proving to be even more adventurous.

In this journey of discovery, these first verses of the Psalms have peaked my interest. So I find myself asking questions. Questions like why is the psalmist writing in this mood? What could have triggered this emotion in his life? How is he using his relationship with God to become even more mature in his faith?

The main writer of the Psalms is King David and he was known as a man after God’s own heart. David messed up spectacularly at times. Yet every time he fell down, he used that opportunity to pray to God and in that position he rose even more spectacularly than his fall. Through his setbacks, his dependence on God increased and his love for God endured through the generations.

We can learn from the main writer and emulate his attitude in our lives. These Psalms teach us that no matter how awful the circumstance may seem, we must rest on God’s love. Why? Because God is love.

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Speak the truth in love

There is a four letter word which some of us use every day.

When we are challenged with difficult situations in life, we sometimes use this word in our everyday dealings. Yet this word is not popular in our vernacular. When asked about the meaning of this word persons look back with a quizzical gaze as their response. This word is tact. To seek a further resolution to that quizzical gaze, the definition of tact is a keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or avoid offense. You tell the truth kindly.  Tact can additionally defined through the following acrostic:

T – Thoughtful

A – Appropriate

C – Considerate

T – Tasteful

Tact is conveyed in the Bible through the following verses. Proverbs 15: 1 is the seminal verse on tact, where we are encouraged to respond with gentleness. Similarly in the book of Proverbs, chapter 25, verse 15 exemplifies tact as it relates to those in authority.

In order to successfully exercise tact one must adopt the attitude  described in 1 Corinthians 9:19. This more referred to in this verse,  is gained may not be only by material gains but also lasting relationships which are worth more than tangible entities. Ephesians 4:15 reveals a supplementary understanding of the rewards of tact. By using tact we will become more mature and grow well into personal and spiritual development.

Our society teaches us to respond insult for insult. Our society teaches us that we do not have to stand for unfair treatment. Responding to insults by giving a blessing in return is perceived as a strange response by the world. Nonetheless this is a reflection of a mature and spiritually stable person. For much more is achieved through tact. One does not have to, forgive the cliché, act like a bull in a China shop, in order to acquire what is considered to be fair treatment. Yet through the art of gentle persuasion and listening, our energies will be transformed from the never ending debate of who is at fault and to the quest for a necessary remedy. For tact is about addressing the issue, while still maintaining good relations to channel kindness, gentleness, peace and overall love.

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Psalm Challenge Pt 1

My mother and I have long soul-searching talks. She said what if we knew each Psalm’s first verse. Those verses are the attention grabbers in the Psalms. The Psalms are a collection of songs in the Bible. Most of them were written by King David. Famous Psalms include Psalm 23: The Lord is My Shepherd and Psalm 121: I will lift up my eyes unto the hills. So this challenge will be done in four parts. Since there are 150 Psalms the first three parts will be done in 40 psalms at a time and the final part will be 30. I hope that this challenge inspires you and that you can think up a challenge of your own that will enrich this life we have here on earth. Live it to the fullest and in abundance.

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Who is God to you?

My quest for a deeper understanding of a Higher Power is taking me on adventures I never thought possible. I continued my sojourn of visiting different churches featured on the Anglican Barbados Diocesan Calendar. This month I went to the St Leonard’s Anglican Church. Also I continued to wrestle with the identity of God when a good friend of mine encouraged me to read a book called The Shack by Paul Young. This book was so riveting, for at times I was unwilling to read the next page as my preconceptions of religion and faith were challenged. Finally on this journey, I realised that when God is all you have, you have all you need.

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First off, my visit to the St. Leonard’s Anglican Church. This building has an interesting history. Here was once a church ravaged by a fire, and the people rebuilt it. The traditional Anglican churches in Barbados look like a cross from a bird’s eye view. This church was made to look like a circle, symbolizing a continuum, no end no beginning just perpetual being. My connection to this church is through my father. In the beginning of his priestly ministry, St. Leonard’s was one of the churches at which he served. It was like a home coming as I remembered the church as a little girl playing with the other priest’s daughters while our fathers had meetings in the church hall and as a teenager when our Youth Group visited churches at festival Youth nights. This time around, the connection perpetuated as one of my father’s protégés, recently became the priest in charge of the St. Leonard’s Church. She moved back to Barbados after serving at the Holy Trinity Church in St. Lucia. Coincidentally the service we went to visit was celebrating Trinity Sunday, where the focus was upon God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

 

When Rev. Dr. Sonia Hinds delivered her sermon, the central theme was: Who is God to you? Our way of perceiving who God is, reflects our perceptions which are influenced by our thoughts and value systems. Everyone perceives God in their unique manner. For instance some perceive God as male, father and provider. Whereas for others, based on their life experiences may have difficulty experiencing that if their situation with father, male and provider was not a positive one. This is true for the protagonist of The Shack, Mackenzie Allen Philips whose father was overtly religious and abusive. Yet through his journey of life “Mack” as he is affectionately called in the book, perceives the Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a very unique way which challenges the readers of this publication about their own perception of God, religion and faith.

The Shack examined  relationships as humans experience them and hold them up to the relationship experienced among the Trinity: God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We should strive to model our daily relationships with our children, our parents, our spouses and our friends in this manner. In order to honour our relationships, we need to limit ourselves. By doing so, there is the element of freedom which can only be achieved through trust and obedience to one another, especially to God who exists in each and every one of our relationships. When we trust God enough and believe in the surety of His goodness, then we will be protected because we are loved by God. Submission is the key characteristic of real relationships, even when the choices made by either party are not healthy or assisting their personal development. Submission becomes second nature as God becomes central in your relationships. Women and men need to turn to God and do away with the ideals of control. Women are wired to believe that a man can give them identity and demand that he meets all of their needs and that is far from the truth. Men are wired to believe that the works of their hands give them power over all. Yet these ideals obscure the real core of relationships. We are worthy of God’s love at all costs.

Let the power of forgiveness work its healing within relationships. Ask for forgiveness and risk it all on the path of honesty. Whenever you mess up in relationships, and believe me it is bound to happen, ask for forgiveness again. God has a way of making even those mistakes turn  out to be good and phenomenal for the final outcome. God is always there even though your heart breaks and the pieces of your life seem painful to pick up and reassemble. Remember that true love does not fear and it never forces. So enjoy the beauty around you: the beauty of creation, culture, nature, art, love, music and laughter.

I know how I see God. As a constant companion for me in this journey of life, He is all I have and He is all I need and that’s all that matters. So the question remains: Who is God to you?

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True Love

I am grateful to wake up this morning.

Have you ever had a moment in life when you needed to tell the truth at the expense of losing someone’s trust? Should you keep it quiet in your perception to protect that person? Or is it really an effort to protect yourself? But what would happen if they found out from another person about what you did? What if they already knew what you did and were testing your integrity? They might take even longer to forgive you and the pillars of honesty and trust which formed the foundation of your friendship crumble from the undermining result of this moral dilemma.

The revelation of this secret will show how much you care and love the person involved. The action was not exactly the most trustworthy or loyal. In a point of weakness in an area of the friendship, a feeling of loneliness, a misunderstanding based on a lack of communication reveal chinks in the armour of protection. Maybe that armour was not as strong. Maybe you took off that armour while committing that act which you are considering to keep a secret from your dear friend.

Yet if that person is a better friend than you they may eventually forgive you. They may remember that you are infallible. They may hold you in their arms and sync their heartbeat with yours to remind you that no matter what you will never feel lonely again. Or the opposite reaction is that this person may walk away. That trust which you took so long to build will be shattered to pieces that may be too painful to pick up and put together again. Yet when that person lets go and when you let go of that person there is a sense of loss coupled with a sense of calm and life continues. You eventually forgive and live at peace as the positive things in life shift your perspective and you live a life of forgiveness, hope, compassion and gratitude.

My knowledge is incomparable to God’s omniscience.

I trust God to guide my steps in life. Although too often, I run ahead of God because I thought I knew what was best for me. I confess at times I have turned my back on God but I am confident that He has never and will never turn His back on me. And through the silences of life I know He is working all things out for good because He loves me and I love Him. His overarching love surpasses my comprehension. God is teaching me to reject the desires of the flesh and walk in the spirit. Letting God is a constant decision. One I must make every moment of my life.

Be grateful and know your worth. Stir up the gift of God which is in you. Some people come into your life to teach you how to let go of things over which you have no control. Sometimes you have to forget what you want, to remember what you deserve. Don’t overthink just let it go. The spirit is life because of righteousness so choose life. Be strong enough to let go and wise enough to be patient and wait for what you deserve. One of the most courageous decisions you can make in your life is to finally let go of what is hurting your heart and soul.

The secret to having it all is knowing that you already do. God is faithful and he will continue to provide, protect and guide you. He gave us the gift of life and it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living life well. Live one day at a time without anxiety and stress and with optimism and commitment to have greater blessings. God who is the creator of all things holy will put you together – spirit, soul and body. Look back in forgiveness, forward in hope, down in compassion and up in gratitude. Point out the positive and keep the peace. Continue to praise God and forgive others as God has forgiven you. Encourage each other for God is with you, delighting over you, quieting you with His love and rejoicing over you with singing.