I Am Free! I Can Do Whatever I Want!

International Student Edition

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 8.09.49 PMImage: iStock

I realized this one thing when I became an international student in Canada: I.Am.Free!!! I can do whatever I want and no one is watching me! My family is far away and nobody here cares about what I do or don’t do! I can pretend to be the good daughter on the phone with my parents; I can lie however I want because they have no way to verify the information. I am free!!! I can follow the popular trends on campus, go out with friends all night, who cares? I am free!!!

I praise the Lord that this was just a realization and not my reality. These thoughts crossed my mind so many times, but I praise the Lord that I chose another path. Though I had the freedom and space to do whatever pleased my heart, I opted to discipline myself. I had a specific time to be back at the dorm on the weekends, I made sure to study the Word of God daily, I took one day a week to simply relax, I avoided university parties, and etc. At times I wondered why? Why am I disciplining myself rather than living out the vibrant university life? I remember that a few of my friends used to mock me saying that my life was nothing but boring, that I was in short ‘lifeless’. I didn’t want to do whatever, whenever, and with whoever due to my relationship with God and my determination to stay pure. My Christianity has never been for the sake of my parents or church; I believe and serve God for who He is and what He has done in me. Hence, it was and is still important for me to walk in communion with God. Even if I chose to lie to my parents about my lifestyle choices, God was there to see everything; how could I then face Him during my prayer time? I really cared about what He thinks of me, that is why by the grace of God I didn’t just do anything and everything. One of the reasons why many international students abandon the way of God in university is because their faith was never a personal affair but a familial or traditional one. Consequently, it’s easy to digress.

1 Corinthians 10:23 “ ‘Everything is permissible,’ but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible,’ but not everything is edifying.”

I was determined to stay pure as I didn’t want to be involved in destructive choices. The freedom is there on campus to do whatever, yet are all things constructive? I could have attended the weekly pub night on campus but what would I have gained in that? Time with friends coupled with exposure to alcohol, promiscuity, and the like. Being pure didn’t mean that I locked myself in the room except for class time, on the contrary, it simply meant that I carefully selected my activities to ensure no conflict with my purity goal. Purity was essential for me because I wanted to have a clean conscience both spiritually and physically; I didn’t want to be meddled with choices that would slowly lead me away from God, get me intimate with a man before marriage, or just damage my body as a whole. I just wanted to be pure.

Who was watching me anyways as an international student? No one. I could do whatever, wherever, with whoever but with the power of the Lord, I made the conscious decision not to in order to preserve my relationship with my Heavenly Father and stay pure. Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial, everything is permissible but not everything is edifying.

J.O.Y.: Just Overwhelmed by Yahweh

It was New Year’s Eve 2016, I woke up with a big smile on my face that morning. I was happy and thankful that the Lord had kept me alive through all these months. I told myself that I would not let anything sadden or stress me out because it was New Year’s Eve. Throughout the day, there were little annoying things that happened or that people did, and I kept on reminding myself: “Girl, it’s the last day of the year, you can’t let this affect you, smile and enjoy yourself.” Eventually, I spent my New Year’s Eve in beauty and peace as I chose not to be disturbed by my surrounding. This got me to think about my spiritual life; on any given day of the year, I’m willing to let my spirit be troubled by my environment, however, when it came to New Year’s Eve, it was a golden moment not to be ruined. The psalmist said the following: “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” Psalm 118:24. This means that those in Christ shouldn’t rejoice circumstantially (because even the world can do that) but instead have joy dependent on God who makes each day of the year. I was challenged! It must be a conscious decision that I need to take every day when I wake up to rejoice, rejoice, and rejoice in the Lord. Not that I have to laugh out loud daily or crack jokes around, but joy is that serene state of mind, spirit, and soul, finding peace and strength in the Bible. It may seem unattainable because this means 365 days of joy, that’s the more reason I need the Holy Spirit! I’m tired of the sadness, gloominess, anger, and etc, I just want to live differently for the glory of God and inspire/encourage someone out there. Lord, please help me!!!

Holiday Blues

The holiday season is a time of rejoicing and celebrating, many students are excited about going back home, being off from school, getting together with family and friends, etc. Nonetheless, there are also others who are going through pain due to the loss of a loved one, loneliness, or perhaps a sickness. Continue reading “Holiday Blues”

Doubting God

doubting-god
Image: Nomoretaboo.org, Single Sisters in University

“Are you really aware of what’s going on?”
“Should I handle this problem my own way?”
“Why are you being so silent if You’re Almighty? For goodness’ sake, please do something!”  Continue reading “Doubting God”

The Art of Waiting…

Abraham waited 25 years for Isaac (Gen12:4,21:5), Joseph waited 13 years before becoming elevated above his brothers (Gen37:2,41:46), the Hebrews waited 38 years in the desert before entering the promised land (Deut2:14), and I have been waiting 14 years and counting for God’s intervention. “Waiting” is definitely a common theme for those who want to follow Christ, I have realized this over the years of being a born-again Christian. I completely understand the many who become impatient on God or due to intense pressure resort to their own means. As human beings, we always want to do things ‘now, now’, however when we come to Christ this changes, it’s no longer about our agenda but His

“The best thing a man can be is to be what God wants him to be, the other alternative is not the best”-Unknown saying

It is frustrating to wait upon the Lord, it doesn’t make sense at times; the ridicule and shame it brings can definitely create tension in our relationship with the Father. Nonetheless, I have come to realize that indeed “the best thing a man can be is to be what God wants him to be, the other alternative is not the best.” Why, because Proverbs 14:12 says “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Show me a man who was impatient on the Lord, did it ‘his’ own way, and it went well with him. I don’t even have proof of that in the Bible. What I read instead is Ishmael, the product of Abraham’s impatience and the problems generated (Gen16:4-6,21:9-21). The Israelites badly needed a king that they got Saul, who later became demon-possessed (1Sam16:14). The devil offers things quickly which later turn to ruin and destruction. How many women rushed in relationships or marriage without the approval of God and today are still regretting that decision? Comprehending these realities has been helping me accept God’s ways.

tumblr_ngxz5iccvd1thdgh1o1_1280Image: Restore Culture

Why wait anyways???

Delicious and healthy meals need to be cooked from scratch, consequently, they take time. One of the reasons, the Father makes us wait is to mold and shape us into better and more victorious people. He’s more interested in our holiness than happiness. I’ll repeat that again “He’s more interested in our holiness than happiness.” The Lord Jesus didn’t come to save us from sorrows but sins “and she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” Matthew 1:21. “By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” 2 Peter 1:3. “[Jesus] who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” Galatians 1:4.

At times, our own mistakes and resistance to change prolongate the designated waiting time. In the case of the Hebrews, they were planned to enter the promised land two years after exiting Egypt, however, their rebellion against God caused them to wait longer (Numb14:21-24). Our Father desires to humble us (so we can learn to submit to His Word) during the waiting period and when we don’t want to be broken, things get delayed.

How to wait?

People usually say “I need grace to wait on God” or “please pray for God to give me grace to wait on Him.” Grace actually comes AFTER we decide to humble ourselves before the Father . “Be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’ “(1 Peter 5:5). In order for the Holy Spirit to give us strength to wait on the Father’s promises, we must humble ourselves, i.e. submit to the Word of God. Additionally, it’s always important be watchful in prayer and fasting, as the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 26:41 “watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Finally, one other thing that’s helped me in this waiting period is to get busy as an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. I’ve been busy in ministry, sewing, writing scripts, and helping others in need. In this way, my mind focuses on other things than the issue at hand.

We will never be able to understand the Father’s ways but we can be sure that “the blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it” Proverbs 10:22, contrary to the path that the devil proposes. I need humility, prayer, fasting, and a little busyness to let God transform me into His Son’s image while I continue to wait.  

The Only Thing Serious Is Sin

End Times Special Edition

“The only thing serious is sin.” I heard this phrase few months ago during one of Zac Poonen’s sermons; it has since revolutionized my life. Oftentimes, we get frustrated, angry, and argue over things like:

  • “The neighbor didn’t respond to my greeting”
  • “She didn’t even say sorry for hurting my feelings”
  • “Food was not ready when I got home”
  • “Liquid was poured on my keyboard”
  • “I wasn’t invited to that party”

And the list goes on and on. The above examples are surely important but when compared to eternity, they don’t hold much value. Sin separates us from our Heavenly Father and sends us to hell but not a wet keyboard. I wasn’t invited to that party, yet God’s love for me is greater than my friends’, and that’s more significant. Therefore, the only thing serious is sin. Personally, I have grown tired of going through different moods during the day just because I was provoked by someone or a bad event. I don’t want to keep on grieving and quenching the Spirit due to my attitude affected by things other than sin.

When we see the Lord Jesus’ life, the only times He got angry were when dealing with sin.

And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other—Marc 3:5

Here, Jesus was angered by the Pharisees’ wickedness to deny a sick man’s healing on the Sabbath day. Other examples of Jesus being disturbed by sin are in John 2:14-15 and Matthew 16:22-23. On the other hand, when it came to people or circumstances hurting Christ, He was never affected but kept His peace.

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in His steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when He was insulted, nor threaten revenge when He suffered. He left His case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly—1 Peter 2:21-23

The devil only uses people or circumstances to distract us from our real calling to honor and glorify the Father. When I realized this truth, I resolved to surrender myself to my Father God instead of my emotions. The Holy Spirit is disciplining me to be shaken by nothing but sin; I can honestly say that as a result, I have become more peaceful, joyful, and patient than before. The more I learn to submit to the Holy Spirit, the more He directs my path and uses me effectively. I remember some days ago getting into the kitchen only to find it super messy because a family member didn’t feel like cleaning it. I felt so tempted to complain and get annoyed but the Spirit reminded me again that ‘the only thing serious is sin’.

Many such events and even worse will happen in life, however, it’s up to me to decide whether to forgo of my peace due to non-heavenly matters or not. My ego, belongings, and desires may seem important but not as much as the kingdom of God is; so I would rather be concerned about following Christ’s example because the only thing serious is sin.

 

Homemaker-In-Training

Preparing For Marriage Special Edition

Growing up in Congo,  I was told at a very tender age that my duty as a future wife and mother  is to be a homemaker. I didn’t know the reason why, it’s just something that I had to accept.

When I moved to the States, I got exposed to a completely different culture where a wife is not expected to do much at home. The American woman is independent, she is not told to prioritize her home duties over her job, contrary to the African woman. Even the churches I attended  did not encourage women to put their household duties first. This  confused me as I was perplexed about the two cultures I was exposed to. I then decided to do some research and see if there was anything in the Bible that talked about a woman being a homemaker.

In Titus 2:4-5, Paul calls older women to train young women to love their husbands and their children and be good homemakers. And in 1 Timothy 5:14, Paul instructs women to take care of their homes. As a result, I came to understand that as a future Christian wife, my duty is to stay at home taking care of the household and children, but that does not mean I can’t have a side business. To be the woman God wants me to be, I have to be obedient and submissive to the Word of God just like the church is submissive to Jesus. As a Christian wife, my first priority is my family. I have to be devoted to home duties and preoccupied with domestic affairs. Why? In order to turn a house into a home as it is my ministry .

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image: happyhomemaker.blogspot.com

I’ve learnt that being a homemaker requires preparation and training  as well as commitment and dedication. The portrait of the godly woman in Proverbs 31 was such a good example that helped me understand more about my duty. As I read the passage, I realized that there’s no mention of rights or pursuit of self-serving interests; neither is the husband assigned to domestic pursuits.

The Proverbs 31 woman taught me that:

  • I have to take delight, enjoy and have fun in working, “she seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands” (v.13).
  • I have to be a good shopper, “she is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar” (v.14). As a homemaker, I should shop around for reasonable prices, be it online or  in stores.
  • I have to get things done well and on time, “she also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household”(v.15).
  • I have to plan ahead and prepare, “she is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet. She makes tapestry for herself” (v.21-22). The Proverbs 31 woman knew winter was coming and had warm clothing for her family and blankets for their beds. I shouldn’t let the obvious catch me off guard. I should always be ready and prepared at all time
  • I have to stay busy without overworking myself, “she watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness” (v.27).

Homemaking can be a tedious job but I have come to understand that it’s very important to make it fun. One of the things I do is play a comic TV show or music while I work to make my tasks more relaxing. I additionally pray before embarking on any chore in order to commit it unto the Lord and do it for His glory.

Our Heavenly Father has called us, future wives, to value and prioritize homemaking. Let’s bathe these tasks with prayer and catch a vision of the divine challenge in making and nurturing a home. Think  about the relationship between Christ and the church. Christ is the Head of the church and the church is delighted to serve Him (Ephesians 5:23, Philippians 3:7-8). Christ finds joy in the church, and the church finds in Christ an inexplicable love. This should also apply to our desire to serve our future family through the ministry of homemaking.

 

Taming the Tongue

Preparing For Marriage Special Edition

By the grace of God, I’m an easygoing person who likes to crack jokes and enjoy discussing about various topics. The one problem with these traits of mine is what Solomon describes in Proverbs 10:19 “in the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” At times, I get so carried away that I can end up hurting someone’s feelings through my jokes or a slip of the tongue. I may not always say the proper words at the proper time and that’s not wisdom. Recently, the Holy Spirit led me to a known passage in James 1:26 which I read in a different light this time: “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” I thank the Father that He blessed me with a sociable spirit, however, I realize that if my tongue can’t be controlled or used to the glory of God at times, then indeed my religion is worthless. And when talking in terms of marriage preparation, this tongue can either make or break me. Of course, as human beings, we will make mistakes but I want to ensure that my tongue is directed by the Holy Spirit 24/7 and if I happen to speak inappropriately it’s due to unknownness of the sin rather than carelessness. I have seen a lot of wives who impaired their marriages because they constantly nagged, shouted, mocked, discouraged, or tore down their husbands with their words.

A wife of valor is the crown of her husband,
But she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones
-Proverbs 12:4

I desire to be a wife of valor who submits to her husband with a quiet and gentle spirit as 1 Peter 3:4 says. This does not mean to be a woman of few words but instead be rich in grace and kindness. I have learnt over the past few weeks that it all begins by being filled with the Holy Spirit. Everything in the world can be tamed except for the tongue according to James 3:8. No wonder on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit rested in the shape of tongues of fire on the disciples, perhaps to signify that He will now have have dominion over this untamable organ. I make it a daily prayer that the Father should fill me with His Spirit, because apart from Him I can do nothing. Additionally, I’m learning to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). The reason at times I get carried away in my talks is because I want to share my thoughts and opinions at all costs without pausing…Ultimately, I cannot go on ignoring Matthew 12:34 “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” For my tongue to be tamed, it has to first start with my heart submitting to the Word of God (Psalm 119:11). Hence, when the heart is pure, the tongue is pure.

The Holy Spirit has already started working in me and I look forward to seeing this tongue being used to the glory of my Heavenly Father and later on to the blessing of my future marriage.

10 Victorious Tips for a Christian International Student

International Student Edition

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ”–2 Corinthians 2:14. Our Heavenly Father calls us to a daily life of victory in Jesus; this is impossible by our own strength but doable by the power of the Holy Spirit. And for Christian international students, this means being an overcomer instead of struggling to survive, being depressed, or compromising our faith. Here I share 10 of many victorious tips that helped me make it as a Christian international student amidst the perverse generation of my university.

  1. Pray, pray, pray: I can’t emphasize enough how prayer helped me sail through my journey as an international student. Whenever I was afraid, I prayed; whenever I was going through a struggle, I prayed; whenever I needed money, I prayed, etc. I like a passage in Matthew 26:41 which says “watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Ask the Father daily to fill you with the Holy Spirit, there’s no way you can make it without Him. Pray, pray, pray, let God be your first resort to all challenges.
  2. Read, study, and apply the Bible: There’s a scary passage in Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” I call it ‘scary’ because it shows us that lack of love and knowledge of the Word of God destroy us! If Jesus used Bible verses to oppose the devil during His 40-day fasting in the desert, what makes us think that we can be victorious without the Bible? I understand that university life is extremely busy and exhausting, however, if you recognize the importance of knowing the Word of God, you will make adjustment to your saturated schedule.
  3. Fast: Fasting is a spiritual discipline that works! When you decide to set aside food to concentrate on the Lord, it builds you up and gives you power to overcome the desires of the flesh. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come”-1 Timothy 4:8.
  4. Listen to praise music: When I listened to praise music in my dorms, it uplifted my spirit. Especially when I used to listen to songs from back home, it brought such a comfort. Listening and singing to praise music relieved me when I was sad, afraid, or anxious. If possible, find a way to play praise music 24/7 in your room, you will be blessed.
  5. Be open to new types of friends: One of the ways to enrich your international experience is to be open to new types of friends. Don’t just limit yourself to the people of the same community as you. Be willing to interact with people of different nationalities, religions, social statuses, races, or cultures; you can learn a lot from them.
  6. Learn to be responsible:  Learn how to cook healthy meals, clean your place (without grumbling), pay bills on time, submit school assignments on time, repair things on your own as much as possible (e.g. troubleshoot PC, sew a shirt button), spend money wisely, and so on. 
  7. Look for a job or volunteer position: This will help in taking your mind away from homesickness while increasing your skills and building up your résumé. Depending on the position you find, it can open an opportunity to assist those in need and erase your self-centeredness.
  8. Be careful who you associate with: Whether it be friends or church members, be sober and vigilant in all things. Don’t get carried away by the behaviors of unspiritual friends. You can interact with them but don’t familiarize yourself with their lifestyle. Churches of nowadays are not led by the Holy Spirit, so be careful not to associate with vision killers or the devil’s agents. “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits”-1 Corinthians 15:33.
  9. Be a good testimony of Christ: The world is used to see Christians disgracing their God through shameful acts, now this is the opportunity to show them another picture. A favorite verse of mine is 1 Peter 2:12 “be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.” When we submit to the Word of God, it provides us with wisdom (Prov1:7) to make great decisions. And just imagine the difference it will make for your friends/classmates to experience the presence of Christ through you; living a godly life will speak louder than any words.
  10. Your grades may not be good at first, but press on: This is an issue I encountered during my first semesters in university: My grades were not good. I was trying to adjust to everything while studying as a maniac that my grades got affected along the way. I was used to getting great grades in high school that these results came as a shock.The Lord taught me to press on, do my best and leave the rest to Him. And this is what I will advise you too. Don’t make school your god, don’t let your studies consume you, rather honor the Heavenly Father and it will go well with you.

Holy Life (365 Days A Year)

For the first time in my life I heard a preacher affirm that it is possible for a Christian to live a holy life 365 days of the year! I won’t say that I was shocked (because Jesus did it) but I never believed a person could live a holy life even for a day! It’s just IMPOSSIBLE. I mean we are born in sin and live in a fallen world; how can we possibly live a pure life?

The same Spirit who inspired Peter to write these words “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15) can also do this work in us today. I believe I can live a holy life by making small steps, one hour at a time turns to one day at a time. As they say ‘sow an act and you reap a habit.’ Therefore, I need to be intentional about everything I say and do. In Acts 24:16, the apostle Paul says “I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man. In his walk with God, Paul made it his aim to live a pure and holy life, ensuring he was blameless before God and man. He never wanted to offend God… And this also has become my goal lately.

I am now spending  regular times in the Word to saturate my mind with the truth of God so as to discern right from wrong (Psalm 119:11). Before the Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I’m learning to stay away from complaints, worries, and be vigilant about what I watch and listen to. When dealing with men, it’s about controlling my tongue and exercising patience. The above attitudes are obviously not easy to maintain so when I know I have said or done something I wasn’t supposed to, I confess it to the Lord and/or to men right away. I don’t wait for my night prayer to confess that sin. I don’t want Satan to have reason to accuse me before my Father. I’ve wasted too much time doing the things of the world and being defeated by sin that I’ve resolved to obey God’s instruction to be holy. I love the Lord because He died to take away the sins that were weighing down on me.

1 John 3:5-6 “You know that He appeared in order to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him.”