Who do you call for help?

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress” Psalms 107:19

My biggest fear happened a week ago. The smoke coming from the hood of my car forced me to stop on the highway. I was preoccupied on the phone – not in conversation, but in leaving a detailed voice note on WhatsApp. That was when I saw something out of the ordinary- the hood of my car emitting a tiny puff of smoke almost invisibly. I chalked it up to believe, “that must be coming from the truck in front of me.” You see because I never had those kinds of disasters. So in the midst of my biggest fear, I had to decide what to do.

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Driving on the highway can be scary, although we often don’t think much about it- not until something happens. Since I drive on the highway for long periods of time daily, it’s hard not to miss the many accidents and the cars that break down. I glance them and without much thought continue in the safety of my own car. Being the proactive person I am, I get my car to the mechanic to have regular checkups. So since I just had one in April, I certainly did not expect to have any issues anytime soon. A year ago, I decided to get CAA membership just in case something were to happen. But, I really didn’t intend on being one of ‘those’ persons on the side of the road. Every so often though, I wonder, what would I do if that happened to me?

Pretending that it wasn’t happening was my first response. But the smoke lifting up ever so clearly, made me stop what I was doing as I looked in confusion. Was this the time to stop? I called a friend- twice! No response. I called a parent, call declined. I called another friend, voicemail. That’s when I called Jesus. “Lord, help me!” I couldn’t pull over where I was. I was merging unto another highway and there was not much curb room. “Lord, what must I do?” “Please let me drive unto the ramp and unto the next highway!” But, when the smoke was heavier now, I had to decide. “Lord, should I stop here?!” The curb space got bigger and I realized I had no other choice. There I was, broken down on the highway all alone.

Time to Leave

Thankfully, the moment I stopped, someone called me back. Turned out that my bestie was not too far from me, although it was an issue to manoeuvre to that specific area on the express highway. It just meant he had to drive further to exit to get to me. In the time, I called CAA and was waiting for my call to be answered. When my friend arrived, he checked under the car hood and rendered it, undriveable. The temperature gauge was sky-high and apparently broken leading to the smoke. I wasn’t the only car out there. Another car had flashing hazard lights up ahead. And an SUV was behind me as well. Was the day too hot for the vehicles? Well, needless to say, I was scared.

With my hazard lights already on, I moved to the comfort of my friend’s car as I waited for CAA. They would arrive in 30 minutes the caller told me. Once CAA towed away my car, we went on our way to my home. I arrived in the arms of love, comfort and support – and where dinner was being prepared for me. “They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven” Psalms 107:30

I could have never imagined that the thing I had feared would have worked out so seamlessly. Rather than fear, I cried out to God and he answered immediately. There was no delay. He sent the very same people I called to my rescue, and made me know that he was the one who saved me from my distress. I was in the arms of safety, I was surrounded by his comfort and love. And now I know that, He is a God who rescues his children from every trouble.

I know who to call first for help next time (hopefully there won’t be another car trouble though). Who will you call?

Navigating confusion in the midst of decisions

In every big decision that we make, there are little elements that causes us to pause. Most of the times we are not aware of these because of the way they present. Let’s talk about that little element of confusion. The mind has to reconcile in the midst of breakthrough moments and big decisions, is this really the right thing to do or am I crazy? I call this the element of confusion. Confusion is “the inability to think as clearly or quickly as you normally do.” It comes with a number of signs, including,”sudden changes in emotion, such as sudden agitation.

READ MORE: Bursting the myths of fear

Have you ever felt confident in a goal or desire that you are pursuing, but something or someone comes and knocks you out of your adrenaline rush? Once certain that the Lord gave you permission to take that trip, take that exciting opportunity, or refrain from doing something; but, the moment you settle into your decision something happens. You shared it with people, and now you have to reconcile their viewpoints as part of your decision making process- leaving you a little hm, confused. Did you really hear God the first time? Are you making the right decision? These questions plaque your mind leaving your brain too overwhelmed to decide on what is best for you.

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“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace…”1 Corinthians 14:33. Making decisions can often cause us to pause for many reasons, but remember we have to keep moving forward, not fall prey to confusion. So how do we ensure that we don’t get stuck here…and give up forever. Let’s ask ourselves a few questions: why am I confused? What did God tell me the first time? And who am I allowing to make my decision for me?

Why?

When it comes to certain decisions, I often feel that I do not have the ability to trust myself to make this decision, especially when I’ve failed too many times. So I go seeking counsel from sources that I believe have my best interest at heart. Many times when we share our goals with too many people, what we find is that everyone has a different perspective and rather than having to wrestle with our own, we now have an overload of opinions. I have a colleague who is looking for a house. She appeared extremely anxious and overwhelmed. When I inquired, this is when I learned that she had been getting so many opinions from friends and family so she has no idea if she’ll ever get a house. The market is too crazy! Move out of town! Wait til summer, blah blah blah….That’s what happen when we rely on other people’s opinions. Why are YOU confused? Well, when we choose to surrender our decision making abilities to other people, that’s what happens. Yes, we get to take counsel from others (choose who you want counsel from), and when they give us, we can decide for ourselves how beneficial their advise is to us. In other words, do we toss it or keep some or all of it? Once we take back control over our ability to make the decision we stop being confused.

Who?

Who are you surrendering your decision making abilities to, family members, trusted church brethren, friends? I realized that I was allowing these wonderful Godly women whom I trust and whom I consider experts in the area that I am making a decision, in the relationship realm. This is not the first time I’ve done this over my life. Out of fear, I wanted to hold on to every opinion in hopes that they would stare me right. But, I felt more confused than at peace. I don’t get to share my goals and desires with everyone – because even their good intentions can be hurtful and wounding to the soul. Rather than being helpful, they are hinderances to my faith. Even though I trust that these friends have my best interests, I still don’t have to put a heavy weight on their opinions. I still get the final say!

What?

“What did God tell you the first time?” This is the question my dear sister asked me when I told her I’m becoming more confused with all the opinions I’ve been sorting through. Rather than feeling stuck, I have to come back to God. I get to tell Him in prayer, “Lord, I am stuck and confused right now and I know you are not the author of confusion, so please remove everything or everyone that is causing me to feel confused. Please remind me of what you told me the first time.” This way, we are bringing God right where He needs to be, in our hearts.

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We get the right to make decisions- this is the summation of all of our life experiences. We all want to “do the right thing” so that we don’t mess up and fail. But, honestly, it’s better to make a bad decision and fail, rather than surrendering control of our decisions to others – and then fail. When we make a “bad decision” this is an opportunity to learn and then pivot. When we make a good decision, we can celebrate our win and gain confidence to make more decisions in the future. The point is, we shouldn’t give up this amazing power, even if we are scared. I am in the midst of a life changing decision, and I for one am very scared. I seriously do not trust myself, but I have prayed. “With Christ, I can do anything” Philippians 4:13.

READ MORE: Let’s do a new thing in 2022

Let that be an encouragement to you in month 5! Don’t give up on yourselves, we can do this. Remove every confusion and keep on moving. If you are in the middle of a big mistake, pivot, but don’t stop. Trust yourself. You got this!

Bursting the Myths of Fear

Fear; an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Oxford online dictionary

This year has been interesting for me so far. Yes, like everyone else I have my desires and goals that I want to accomplish. But, while those are at the forefront of my mind, I am faced to tackle my fears. In January, I learnt that a close friend of mine died, Mr. Moss-Solomon. I could use a lengthy page to tell you about his accolades, but those were not how I knew him. He was a mentor and a friend to me. Someone who believed in me. Though we met in Jamaica, at the University, where he held the position as Executive in Residence, he continued to stay in touch when I returned home in Canada. We stayed in touch years later, even a little over a month before he died. I didn’t know that our last conversation was going to be our last, otherwise I would have stayed on the phone longer with him- it was his birthday. He died on Jan 04, 2022.

Read More: An elegy to Jimmy Moss-Solomon.

That death has a shock to my new year. Because the thing I began to reflect on was time. No matter how much we have, it’s never enough. Kinda like money, actually. All jokes aside; there are some things in life that we all need to do, we are called to do them because of our unique skill-sets, experiences, and personality; but we keep feeling fearful. My friend used to tell me all the time that I am made to do more than I am currently doing (though he wasn’t that politically correct when he told me so). That was the rolling joke for us- he was a man that was as direct as they come. And he hated the way Canadians were always so politically correct all the time. There is a Jamaican song that not so eloquently expresses this point in patios, “..who don’t like it not….(I won’t end the lyric). Since I am Canadian-raised, I am forced to remain politically correct.

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When we allow it, fear will stop us dead in our tracks and prevent us from moving ahead. Yes, because the feeling is utterly unpleasant. It’s a moving out of our comfort zones to places we have never been before. It makes us pause, gauge our surroundings, and make a decision about taking a step forward or backward. In my last article, I shared how I stood on the ski hill for almost 10-15 minutes looking down. How would I get to the bottom without falling? Did I really want to do this? These are all legitimate questions that the brain must conceptualize. But, the final decision is always up to us. The questions that we should begin to use to rebut are: Will this hurt me or make me better? Even if it hurts, won’t I learn from my failure?

Read more: Ready, set, pause.

It’s natural that our brains aim and program is to protect us by any means necessary. Have you ever walked on a lake before? I went out walking on the lake yesterday. I did it while being afraid. My brain automatically started to process the possibility that I could fall because the ice could crumble under my feet. That even though all those other people and their dogs were out there walking, I was going to be the one to fall. I slowly started to walk. The truth was, it was hard to tell where the land ended and where the lake began because the ice was also covered with snow, everywhere. My brain reprogrammed itself because it realized things were not as it thought. Even though it was my first time, this was perfectly safe. The next time I go out there, I will gladly go walking on the lake. I was extra vigilant at first, but now that I see that there was nothing to fear, I intend to do it again. Everything that is out of our comfort zones become an imminent danger, and is to be feared…until we do it.

Overcoming fear requires that I step out of my comfort zone to do new things.
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Basically, if I was to follow my brain every time I would never do anything new.

My encouragement to you before we begin yet another month is to DO IT! Do it in the midst of feeling afraid. Ask yourself these other rebuttal questions: Will this actually hurt me? And even if it does hurt, will I learn whatever my failure has to teach me?

“…Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Experience your inheritance

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly placesEphesians 1:3

What is it like to know that we have inheritance beyond this earth? This thought must be difficult to fathom especially if we’ve always lived a life of lack. I have read Ephesians many times, but when isolated, this verse struck a cord within me. What does Paul mean by “every spiritual blessing”? What are these spiritual blessings or inheritances? Personally, I think they are vast and undefined. Inheritance could be everything and anything our mind can conceive of and even those that we haven’t yet fathom with our faculties. My other question is, what does Paul mean by “heavenly places”?

When I think of the heavenly places I think of an eagle soaring in the sky. The far out of reach heights that we cannot go by our own will, because we need the help of the Holy Spirit to take us there through prayer. Or said another way, we need faith to get to the heavenly places, because it is beyond our natural reach.

The Apostle Paul, therefore acknowledges and appreciates God, the Father because this is where our spiritual gifts come from. Do we know this truth? Perhaps if we knew, we would be on our knees even more to approach the giver of spiritual gifts…

But, what happens when we pray to the Giver and He delays his precious gifts that we asked Him for? Do we allow the wings of faith to help us soar higher? Or do we recline to disbelief? This verse makes it clear that the gifts are not in arms reach but they are in highly places. Do we ever allow the Holy Spirit to help us get to these heights?

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It’s like a fisherman going out to catch fish, believing that he will. He will remain out in the seas for hours on end. Yet, if he comes home empty handed, he goes again tomorrow. Still believing he will catch some fish. When it comes to the great human needs; the deep pain and sorrow, the excessive poverty that we face, we often choose to believe this was our plight in life all a long. That, we were never meant to receive these spiritual blessings. That, indeed, they were meant for some other person. We are the unlucky ones. But these thoughts are wrapped in self-pity, doubt, and disbelief ….none of these will allow us to soar like an eagle.

…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31

So maybe the reality is, prayer is hard work. It requires perseverance, long suffering, and everlasting faith. It requires from us a sacrifice to be made within ourselves….to actually sacrifice ourselves, our will, our beliefs, our pride. When our prayer become less of a prayer and more of a conversation with the Lover of our souls, maybe that’s when we have finally arrived in the heavenly places. And at that very instant, we can ask anything in His name.

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

John 14:13

What I love about Jesus Christ dying for my sins is that, He is now my High Priest. And at this very hour, I can boldly approach God in faith and pray to Him.

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16
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Therefore we can begin that relationship with God through prayer, and boldly ask our Father for the inheritance that belongs to us. Know that prayer isn’t a quick fix to an immediate problem. Prayer is the beginning of a relationship that the Father desperately what to have with His children- you and me. I hope you will experience the spiritual blessings or your inheritance from your Father in heaven. Above all, may you experience His peace that surpasses all understanding.

Let go of the past and say hello to 2021!

Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:26

When I was a child I desired the praise of others, particularly my mother. I wanted her to see how smart I was, how fast I was, and how talented I was. My mother would come to my track and field events to watch me run. Many times, I made her sit in the living room to listen to me recite my newest poem, and I enjoyed seeing the excitement on her face. But at thirteen all this attention abruptly stopped.

Let go of the past and say hello to 2021!
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My aunt and guardian in Canada wasn’t as attentive. She never came to any of my track and field or soccer competitions during high school. She hardly knew that I was part of the announcement club, the anti-racism committee or the geography club. I was a star in high school and no one was watching, at least not the people I wanted to see me. This is what I remember most as I got older, the feeling of rejection, isolation and lack of love. All because I associate my mother’s attention to be what love was, and when I wasn’t getting that devoted parental love from my new family in Canada, I assumed they didn’t love me.

READ MORE: Take the step of faith

Could it be that we are this conceited (or desire vain-glory) because we are trapped in a moment of lack when we were a child? What I mean is, at a time in our lives when we really needed the validation from others and we didn’t get it, we started craving it more and more. And we look for it even in random strangers. I am saying, we are conceited because we lack love. The love and affection that we desperately needed from those loved ones may have provoked us and made us envious of others. It’s a vicious cycle.

Let go of the past and say hello to 2021!
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Paul says do not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Are you doing those things? Many times we exhibit behaviours that we may not be totally aware of. I encourage us to be mindful of our feelings.

I admit that for a long time I carried that need for attention, for love, and the need to belong everywhere I went. The good thing is that God finds ways to work with us. When I found a church at 14 years old and got baptized at 15, I committed myself to a new family. Even though I didn’t realize that I was throwing my need to belong on them, it was a safe place. But of course, I wasn’t at church every waking moment. When I went off to University I still carried with me those same needs. And when I became an adult, those needs were still tagging along. Until I became aware of them and addressed them…

READ MORE: Let your Father help you

My Advice for 2021 are these:

  • BE AWARE: Know yourself, your weaknesses, your strengths. What makes you anxious? What makes you frustrated? What makes you sad?
  • GIVE VOICE TO YOUR EMOTIONS: Do not suppress your emotions and ignore your bodily symptoms. Find respectful ways to express your feelings.
  • DO NOT HOLD ON TO NEGATIVE EMOTIONS: Do you feel jealous? Envious? Angry? Why? Let them go- write about it, sing about it, share it, just get rid of it and let it not consume you.
  • STOP CARRYING AROUND THE PAST: This is such a heavy burden to be walking around with every day. Learn what you need to learn and move on. Forgive who needs to be forgiven, Speak the truth to those who need to hear the truth, and forget about it.
  • LOVE BIG: Love really is the answer to everything. You love by giving, by serving, by showing up, by listening. Don’t be afraid to love people, even those who are hard to love. Love compassionately, love prayerfully, love forgivingly, just love the heck out of people- they will change.

By becoming more aware of our own issues and pain, we get to develop compassion for others and are better able to love them. It’s hard to be conceited, provoking and envying to those you love. Love prevents us from exhibiting the acts of the flesh, but we need the Holy Spirit to transform us from the inside.

So for this year 2021, let us choose the gifts of the spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And let us abstain from the acts of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. As we journey through our lives do not carry our past pains into our future. Rather, I pray that you will learn from them so that they will transform you to become a servant for God’s purposes. I love you all.

*****

This is the end of this series of Galatians 5. I want to thank you readers for showing up to read my blog each week. I hope that you were richly blessed the way I had been as I showed up every Sunday to gain a new perspective from God. Honestly, it was a joy to show up for God this way. May God’s love envelope you this year and I wish you an extraordinary 2021 journey.

Take the step of Faith

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25

There is a voice that prompts me to do things or to abstain from things regularly. When I didn’t know better I listen to it only if it matched my feelings. So if I really wanted to go driving with a friend and that still small voice whispered something about homework or chores, that is not the voice I want to listen to. But, as I mature in my relationship with God I begin to see the importance of keeping in step with the Spirit.

take the step of faith
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To keep in step with the Holy Spirit means that I am sensitive to God’s direction in every area of my life, and not just the big things. I am in tune when the Spirit says to give something or to abstain from buying something. I’m in tune when the Spirit says to not watch a particular movie or when it’s time to read His word. Many times certain choices seem harmless when we assess with the natural eye but the impact can be grave to our spirit. It’s like you need faith to be obedient to the Spirit because we are trusting that God knows what’s best for us. There are so many times I chose not to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the outcome isn’t always favourable. Now, whenever I hear that still small voice whispering something to me I quickly take action. How do you really know?

READ MORE: Let your Father help you

Take the step of faith
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That’s the question I ask myself when I am ready to sin. How do I really know it’s the Holy Spirit? It’s when we are faced with something that is tempting when we look for a way to be disobedient – we use our wit to outsmart the common sense of the Holy Spirit. I remember when I was still in University and I was being invited to go clubbing with all my friends. I had never gone before, but my church told me it was wrong to go. Convinced about all the fun I was going to have, the music and the friends that would be there, made me ask myself, what is the harm in going anyway? With maturity though, or when we have made one too many mistakes, we will KNOW how to keep in step with the Spirit. As young christians we often feel as if we have to rely on someone else’s experience rather than our own or the Spirit’s guidance, so it gets a little difficult. There are so many voices in our heads that we never really know which is the Holy Spirit or our own. Rest assured, spending time in the word of God for ourselves and in prayer helps to decipher the noise in our heads. Because the only voice you really want to be in tune with is the one that comes from the Holy Spirit.

READ MORE: What is your favourite fruit?

To live by the spirit means that you have nothing to do with the flesh. And it is hard to do that on your own. We need God’s help to live by the spirit. It’s like you are learning how to walk. We can only do so, one step at a time. Each day we take a step in God’s direction and He will tell us what to do. Our daily prayer should be, Not my will but thy will be done.

Let your Father help you

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24

I have always considered myself God’s child. For someone who grew up going to church all my life this was a given. I just knew. I never think much about my behaviours as a child because I didn’t think that anything I did could impact my relationship with God. Even if I didn’t have an earthly father to be there for me, I believed that my Heavenly Father was the perfect father. As a child I dreamt about my earthly father being there for me just the way God promises He would be there. But for most/all of my life my dad was physically absent (even when I could see him). Yet, I knew I belong to my earthly father. And even more, I knew I belong to my Heavenly Father. I knew before I knew anything about the consequences of sin.That’s the beauty of God. He leads us with such care and teaches us just how much we need to know.

let your father help you
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When I became an adult, I became more intimate with sin, the deceptions and the pain it leaves behind. Just the same as how God nourished a personal relationship with me as a child with a kind of conviction and confidence, it wasn’t until I really became an adult, I realize Satan was doing the same thing to me, subtly. Once I moved out from the people who kept my life in check, my family and my spiritual family, I was all alone at University in a dorm. I was certain the Lord provided this room on campus at a challenging period of my life. Blessings sometimes come wrapped in their own challenges (or growth opportunities). This was the time Satan struck out at me. I questioned my beliefs, who I was, my relationship with God, and God himself. Soon enough I believed that I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. Satan helped me believe that my freedom should not be limited by Christian beliefs. That’s how seeds of doubt and confusion were planted. The easiest way to get rid of these I have come to learn is, just go with it. Instead of using spiritual wisdom to wrestle against “flesh and blood” and the snares of the enemy, it’s easier for the flesh to just do what feels natural. The guilt that comes thereafter goes away.

READ MORE: What is your favourite fruit?

The more I found myself wrestling less and feeling guilty less, I began to take this freedom to higher and higher notches. And yea, it felt good not to always be thinking about what it right or wrong. What do people do in their 20s right? You party, you travel, and you have a lot of fun. Fun can be defined as whatever you want to do. But, my eyes began to open to Satan’s traps little by little. When I got my first scare of a STD in South Korea, my body felt so disgusting to me. I didn’t even want to touch my own body. That was my wake up call of the tricks of sin. They are dressed up so refined, and rather than leaving the fruits of the spirit, love, kindness, gentleness, etc, you get a taste of lice! I thought I had learnt my lesson but after a few years, I forget. And like a pig, I get muddy again.

let your father help you
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There comes a time when we have to stop and assess our behaviours. Become spiritually mature. Are our behaviours serving us for the better? For years, I have made the same mistakes, thinking I found love and it turned out to be a fake (or a frog). But, this I am learning, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” My passions and desires cannot direct my steps because they take me in the wrong places, and I get hurt over and over again. The only thing I ought to seek after is Christ because when I do, the Holy Spirit will take care of everything else.

READ MORE: Find fulfillment in seeking the things above

With the Holy Spirit, even our mistakes begin to serve God’s purposes. As an adult, I have come to learn that God doesn’t waste anything, not our pains, our hurts or wounds, and not our tears. They all mean something to our Heavenly Father. So, whether or not your earthly father was present for you, this is no reflect on your Heavenly Father’s promise: “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8). And while you do not see your Heavenly Father, He is present and hearing every one of our prayers. He’s no Santa Claus that shows up once a year, this God that says,”Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool” (Isaiah 66:1), is present even in the worse places of our lives. So let Him help you, because there are times you just can’t do it alone.

What is your favourite fruit?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Everyone has a favourite fruit. Mine is Mango. Naturally, I am a girl of the Caribbean and the tropical fruits are always my favourite. While on a vacation in Jamaica I purchased a bag of the juiciest East Indian Mangos from a roadside vendor. They were all yellow, very ripe and big! I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into one of them. When I returned to the Airbnb I was staying, I sunk my teeth into the mango and felt the juice running down my fingers. The taste was heavenly. It wasn’t until the next day when I was eating my third that I saw holes in the Mango, and the worms also having a feast of their own. I was horrified, sick even! I got rid of the half eaten mango, and checked out the rest of the uneaten ones. I saw holes in all them. I was too frightened to try another, so I also got rid of the entire bag, and started worrying, how much worms did I devour? I had a bad fruit and it was disgusting.

what is your favourite fruit?
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Fruits of the Spirit

On a spiritual note, when fruits are good they do not have worms. The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These good fruits don’t come naturally no matter how much of a “good person” you think you are. No, these fruits are ONLY produced when they are connected to the vine. And not just any vine, the true vine. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful (John 15: 1-2).

As Christians, we are expected to bear good fruits, both in season and out of season. I never understood that bible verse until now. Mangos don’t grow year round, not even in Jamaica. When it’s mango season, the fruit is in abundance everywhere, and they are juicy and delicious. Not like the mangos you get year round at the Canadian grocery stores. On the contrary, the spiritual fruits bear all year, in every terrain and temperature of our lives. In other words, the fruits don’t bear just when lives’ challenges/difficulties are at their minimum.

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The Fig Tree

Do you remember when Jesus was walking with his disciples and he tried to look for a fig to eat because he was hungry? The fig tree was in the right season and still it did not have one fruit on it. Jesus took a drastic approach to the fact that the tree was barren. He cursed it. And the next day the tree shrivelled (Mark 11:12–20). This is a spiritual analogy to all of us. There are times, we are so focussed on going to church, reading our bible, memorizing and quoting scriptures, but when the time comes for someone to eat from us, we have nothing to offer. That is, we can’t show love, we are not gentle, we are not kind. And so , the ones who came expecting something from us only receive the bitter fruit or worse, are eating “worms”.

The Apostle Paul is telling us what fruits we ought to be bearing, if these fruits are not visible we should check to see how well we are in fact connected to the true vine. The fruits of the spirit doesn’t come from our flesh it is internally connected to the Holy Spirit.

My Favourite Fruit is Love

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Finally, Paul says the fruits of the spirit doesn’t have a law. While there is a law against the acts of the flesh, when it comes to the fruits of the spirit, there needs to be no law. In other words, we can show as much love to our neighbours and we need not worry that there is a consequence. We can exhibit a 1000 acts of kindness each day, and no one will ever come to enforce a limit. So, while we have to be fearful when we are busy committing acts of the flesh, we do not need to worry about containing ourselves (or limiting ourselves) when we are sharing the fruits of the spirit with others.

Therefore, seek to be connected to the true vine and it will be evident when others are noticing how much good fruits you are bearing. People will come to you to eat of your fruits because your fruits will bear all year, both in season and out of season, in endless supply. Remember John 15:4, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

Find fulfillment by seeking the things above

I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:21

The truth is, many of us hardly know or care to know about what the Kingdom of God is. Why would that be relevant as we live our lives, as we strive for earthly successes: the white picket fence, the Mercedes Benz, the booming career, and the walk to the altar. It appears as if these things are the pinnacles of success. Yet, as Christians our definition of success cannot be the same as the way the world defines it. The Kingdom of God is the very thing that should reign in our hearts, that should give our lives direction; and in actuality should be the very definition of success. You see, when we alter our definition to include the Kingdom of God, our life will become one with integrity, purpose, and fulfillment. So much that, even when the earthly successes land in our laps, our hearts are not transfigured by it.

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So, what exactly is the Kingdom of God? According to John 3:3, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” I believe Jesus is expressing that there is a process to enter the Kingdom while we live on Earth. And this process begins with baptism. Baptism is a symbolism of the transformation we undergo in the Spirit, signifying the death of the body (the sinful part of us) and the beginning of a new life in the Spirit.

According to Romans 6:4, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” At the completion of this process, we exchange our earthly citizenship to a heavenly one (even though we are still present on this earth). And even though we are still on earth, we are primed to inherit the kingdom of God because the process has already started in our hearts.

READ MORE: Your body is not the boss of you

According to Galatians 5:21, those who live committing acts of the flesh are not going to inherit the Kingdom of God. These acts of the flesh: “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies…, have nothing to do with God’s Kingdom. In fact they are the very identifiers as to who are not part of the Kingdom of God. The good news is that the door is open to whosoever will. “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9).

The thing is, when we set our hearts on higher and more eternal things, like the kingdom of God, the less important it is to achieve earthly successes. And when we do achieve them, we are able to separate our hearts from the temporal things and keep our focus on the eternal ones. What I have noticed is that we become less anxious, less worried, less fearful, less bitter, less jealous, and so on. In other words, we get to live out our lives on earth from a new place of power, confidence, and a certainty that our lives are in God’s hands. The things we do not know right now doesn’t matter. What I am saying is that, there is a peace that comes when we inherit the Kingdom of God. We get to make a choice whether we want to be part of this Kingdom. The door is always open whenever we are ready. Although one day it will be closed (Matthew 25:10). So, rather than striving to achieve earthly successes, let’s strive to inherit the Kingdom of God. That way, our lives will become one of integrity, purpose, and fulfillment.

Your body is not the boss of you

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. [Galatians 5: 19-21]

The moment we come out of our mother’s womb we have a propensity to sin. It comes so natural to us that we hardly think it’s wrong. Yet, deep down in our spirit we know it is. It’s crazy how the flesh can rule our bodies and our minds making us think we have no control. The still small voice that we grew accustomed to listening to is the one that demands that we gratify it, day after day. As living beings, these impulses mature over time and become the ones that Paul talks about thats wrong. But, sometimes these impulses are pre-mature because we may have experienced or seen them as children. It’s no wonder our world is so messed up. How do we know to do better unless the Holy Spirit teaches us?

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As a child, I recall indecent things I have done not fully mature enough to know that I shouldn’t because I was more consumed with the way it felt. Can you relate? Have you ever watched Jumanji? I am pretty sure that it’s witchcraft. But it’s a game kids play. When you watch the movie it seems more like an adventure. You see, it’s hard to tell that something is bad because most of the time as children we are so curious. I know I was. Have you played spin the bottle? Maybe that’s not a game these days, but when I was 10 years old I played it. How do children truly know that it’s actually bad to do something without someone telling them? And yet, this is how all the inclinations to sin begin. After a while, the things we did as children become habits. And you know what they say about habits when they are formed…they are hard to change.

READ MORE: Do you want to live happy and free from the law?

Have you had a drunk for a father? or a smoker or drug addicted mother? How does a child undo those experiences from their minds? It takes a strong child to see cigarettes lying around a house and not touch it. And when you see your parents having fits of rage towards each other, don’t you grow up thinking that’s how you speak to your spouse? The way we change is when we learn to become better. When we read, when we see other people’s parents acting civil, maybe even going to see a therapist will show us alternative behaviours. But before then, we are like a body of past experiences acting out in our present. As much as we have this powerful ability to think, we aren’t always using it. We prefer to rely on what we have seen- our experiences.

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I am saying that our human nature easily gravitates to the things that aren’t always good for us. And our culture doesn’t help, in fact it encourages such behaviours. When I went to college, I decided that this is when I was supposed to have sex and get drunk. As a seventeen year old leaving home for the first time (especially one that felt that I missed out in high school), I had my mind set on these things and it didn’t matter what order they came in. I wasn’t looking for a long term relationship, I was looking to check the boxes of life experiences. Get drunk at 19 years old- check, go clubbing in university – check. Over the years, I had to learn from the experiences, especially when they left a negative impact.

Paul just wants us to know that the things we think are okay and we have no control over them, they are hurting us deeply. Our sins do not have control over us.  According to Romans 6:12-13, “Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

Have you ever suffered a broken heart and you thought this was never going to go away? But, one day, it does. Or, have you ever been hungry and you weren’t able to eat for a long time, but you realize it wasn’t going to kill you? That’s how sin feels. It is so powerful that you think you have no other choice but to give in- one more drink, indulge in the witchcraft one last time, one more cigarette, buy that gorgeous sports car instead of paying child support… the list goes on. You can change. And you can do it right now.

READ MORE: Do you ever feel powerless?

Finally, “don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living” (Romans 6:16). I say, take control of your own mind and body, and do not let it control you.