Faith – Even The Intelligent Need Hope

No matter how intelligent or strong a person is, faith and hope will carry them through the lowest points in life.

maldives-850508_1280My mother grew up as a Christian attending churches in South America.  She prayed to God every morning and Every night for all of us. My father was and had always been an atheist believing that we die and that’s it, there’s no afterlife.  He was a good honest and hard working man, we didn’t pray or talk about God in the house.  I’ve heard him say religion is for who live in the dark ages and that good intelligent people don’t have a need for a God.  While mum believed that no matter how intelligent a person is that faith will carry them through their lowest points in life filling them with hope.

In Australia the only connection to Christianity my non-English speaking mother had was through a letter sent by a nun (which I interpreted) from a compulsory scripture class at my school.  That letter was an invitation to all 8 and 9 year old children to take part in their first Holy Communion which was something like a dedication of our purity to Christ.  Not wanting to be left out I agreed to go through with it. So mum put her signature on the permission slip.

Although mum wasn’t a Catholic, she thought that any connection with God was better than none.  Communion practice began and so did my interest in learning more about Christ.  Eventually I got to dress like a bride in a ceremony.   Not understanding exactly what it was all about at the time, I really enjoyed being dolled up for the occasion.

Growing Faith

Even though I believed the bible story of Jesus’ birth, life and death on the cross as an innocent holy man, I had no idea who he really was.   I had no relationship with Christ and prayed to a statue in my room that glowed in the dark of the Virgin Mary.

Years later as an adult, I learned about Grace and Holiness.

I asked God in prayer to lead me to himself.  Soon after my sister came to my door inviting me to attend a Pentecostal church with her.   Thinking that this could be an answer to my prayer or just a really weird experience I went along.  It turns out that both assumptions were correct!

The Pentecostal church was a little building tucked away in the middle of suburbia with only a small number of people in the congregation. Immediately blown away by what I didn’t see due to the absence of statues of Mary holding baby Jesus, no huge cross with a dead crucified Christ on it, no paintings on the walls or decorations to speak of as such, I thought, “what a weird church this is!”.  But I also understood that a church should be a house of prayer.  Taking my surroundings in I quickly noticed there was a room full of chairs with people sitting in them, a microphone, musical instruments, speakers and a pastor dressed in ordinary clothes holding an open bible as he read passages to the audience straight out of it.  He spoke about loving one another like brothers and sisters in the purest sense of the word.  Accustomed to rituals that I didn’t understand, this was certainly different but it all made sense.  It seemed real.

At one time the pastor read the bible quoting Jesus’ words, “I am the way, the truth and the life and nobody goes to the father except through me.”

As I looked around there were families with happy faces and arms raised offering  prayers to God.  That started me thinking about what the early church might have been like.  During the service prayers were said from the heart that weren’t scripted out of a book.  It dawned on me that we had a real God and that we needed to be real with Him.   Discovering there’s nothing I could ever hide from God and I started feeling transparent but also felt empowered.  I learnt about Salvation and who I am in Christ.  Trusting my instinct that God wanted me there, I said a prayer out loud and invited Jesus into my life and into my heart.  Immediately there was peace and joy present and a burden was lifted off my shoulders. It was tangible.

Confession was replaced by real repentance of sin.  My prayer comes right from the heart and I now believe in the liberating power of forgiveness, repentance and loving others as God loves us with the desire to do God’s will in obedience to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in my daily life.  That’s what salvation is to me and the reason Jesus died so that we can be reconciled to God through his sacrifice on the cross.

The Greatest Commandment Mark 12: 28-30
One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognising that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”

Jesus answered, “The foremost is,  Hear oh Israel! The Lord our God is the one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.   The second is this, ‘you shall love your neighbour as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.”

If you believe, Pray, acknowledge your sins and repent.  Ask him to cleanse you and forgive you. Confess to God that you believe in what Jesus did on the cross for you and ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit who will lead you into all truth.  Read your bible, get to know God and His word in order to avoid making the wrong choices for your spiritual walk with Christ.

If you’d like to know more about Jesus, watch a full movie here on the Life of Jesus from the book of John as written in the Bible.

FULL MOVIE – Gospel of John – The life of Jesus.

How I quit Smoking

Outside hidden from view I lit my first cigarette after stealing one from my mum’s packet. I was only 12 years old at the time.  At 18 years of age I had a job at a local supermarket and openly smoked around my parents.  My father, a reformed smoker was always telling me that my decision to take up smoking was going to be taxing on my health. 

There were times where I didn’t feel right smoking but, quickly got rid of those thoughts by telling myself that I will be fine.   I carried an attitude against anti-smoking campaigns justifying my habit so that I could carry on smoking without the guilt.   Having conflicting thoughts obviously meant that I was in denial. 

So I began a series of failed attempts. The longest I’d gone without a smoke was 12 months!  That in itself was quite an achievement.

Celebrating a year of not smoking

Ironically, after trying to quit a handful of times, success was celebrated proudly and stupidly by lighting one up.  I was hooked with the first drawback.

Lesson Learnt – There’s no such thing as ‘visiting’ an addiction or ‘entertaining’ one!  I told myself that this can’t happen again.  I felt like such a failure.

The 12 Steps to Freedom

A local church pastor announced that he’ll be running a Christian 12 step type of program for all sorts of addictions.   After many failed attempts to quit, I just thought, “Why not? It couldn’t hurt to try.” 

So there I was with many people who had various hard core addictions thinking mine wasn’t that bad in comparison.  Suddenly the realisation hit, we were all addicted to drugs and I was no different.  So I sat back in my chair listening attentively to what the pastor had to say. 

One evening, while outside on a break I noticed the pastor was standing beside me as I was lighting one up.  Contemplating about quitting this program, I defiantly talked about how enjoyable smoking was.  He stood looking at me right in the eyes and told me that I was full of sh*t.  Of course I was, otherwise what was I doing there? 

Back at home that night I realised that this pastor loved me enough to hit me with truth when I needed it.  He saw right through me.   If there was one thing that I understood it was tough love which is the kind of love that family interventions come from.  While they might seem mean and intrusive they actually work if done right.  This particular pastor and his wife had a huge heart for the hurting and the lost. 

That night while researching the internet for a quit smoking site, I made a decision that when I found one to allow the information to sink in as truth.  Reading the information purposely over and over again to become a recorded message that I wouldn’t forget, I continued with the 12 step program unto completion.   

One morning I just didn’t feel the need to have a smoke with my coffee and haven’t smoked since.  Yes cold turkey! It’s now been 14 years since I gained freedom from slavery.  I know that sounds harsh but lets face it, we are subject to our addictions.

To gain control over your life you simply have to take courage, accept harsh realities, pray and take action.  Don’t just sit there, do something!

ReGen’s 12 Step program’s similarity to Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step program.

  1. We admit our powerless over our addictions and that our lives have become unmanageable.
  2. We believe that God has the power that can restore us to sanity.
  3. We decide to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.
  4. Make a fearless, searching moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Repent of our wrong doings and tell another person.
  6. Ask God to take away our character flaws to strengthen us.
  7. Humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Make a list of everyone we’ve hurt and be willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Attempt to make direct amends with them except if it were to hurt them or anyone else.
  10. Continue to take personal inventory promptly admitting where we are wrong.
  11. Pray daily for God’s will for our lives and for the power to carry it out.
  12. Spread the message and teach others about the Hope & Freedom that God offers through the message of Salvation.

Facing the truth

My personal battle wasn’t about beating a smoking habit.  It was learning that by being totally honest with myself I was respecting myself.    Love yourself enough to be honest.  The truth only liberates us.  No matter what’s happened to you in your past.  Don’t side with the world.  God loves you so much that he thinks that you’re to die for!

Jesus said, You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

Wisdom and truth go hand in hand & lies have no part of it.

It doesn’t matter how many attempts you make at quitting.  The main thing is to keep trying till you get there! When is the best time to quit?  Mornings are easier to start off on a clean slate.

Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever.

Lance Armstrong

If you’re having problems quitting talk to your doctor about it or visit the Australian Government website: www.Quitnow.gov.au or call 137 848

When we give denial power it only serves to keep us bound in a non-rewarding cycle of self abuse. 

Image courtesy of: www.rgbstock.com /xymonau