Consistency

Consistency is hard. That’s because it requires character, not just feelings or a big moment. It’s easy for me to write about praying daily; it’s another thing to live it. I pray that I live it! It is not something that can be done in a human’s strength but only comes from the power of God himself. I pray for more character. I pray for more prayer.

Consistency changes you over time. You would prefer that every problem be solved immediately if possible. However, that’s not how character is built. Paul had a “thorn in his flesh” that caused him considerable trouble, yet God was quite okay with letting it stay. Do you have a thorn in your flesh? Perhaps it isn’t all bad. It could be more of an opportunity to grow in character rather than a punishment. You may well have done nothing to deserve it. Don’t worry; keep praying. God wants to change you from the inside out and wants those changes to remain. He isn’t interested in quick results, but “fruit that will last.”

Stay consistent and run to win. Run and don’t stop. Stopping is losing, running is winning. Even if you tire, don’t stop; keep moving, no matter how slow. If you get tired of praying for hours, that’s okay, just keep praying a little. Whatever you do, don’t stop altogether. Your Father can still help you if you stop, but that isn’t a close relationship anymore. Do everything you can to stay in a healthy relationship with him.

Trusting in God (like your life depends on it)

It was just a few days into the new year that I received the phone call. Unsuspecting, I picked up my phone and answered. From the other end I heard a weak voice say “aunty (blank) has passed this afternoon”. I didn’t know how to respond. She had a severe cancer so I was expecting the news, yet hoping against it somehow. I was unsure of how to feel.

To give some backstory, I moved to the city of Adelaide, Australia back in early 2018. I felt God lead me to move, but before I had made plans for a place to live, I was at a Christmas family gathering just weeks before I needed to move. Out of no where, an aunt of mine approached me and asked what I was doing early next year. She then explained that she and her husband, (my uncle), were going overseas for a month and needed someone to look after the house. The timing was perfect from me needing to move to Adelaide matching when they were leaving.

Wait, what???

Oh yeah… she wanted to PAY ME to stay there too.

Needless to say I promptly accepted the generous offer. I ended up staying on after this lovely couple returned from their trip. Altogether I was there for around 18 months. We got a lot closer and became good friends.

Now all of that was gone. She was gone.

In the midst of this happening, I felt misunderstood by some friends and experienced a breakup.

My emotions were in utter turmoil. Most days became a blur of strong sad emotions. I didn’t know how to handle so much loss at the same time, so I started praying like my life depended on it.

Through prayer, I was drawn into God’s presence in a way I have NEVER experienced before! In this terrible mess of a season in my life, God was with me. He brought deep comfort to me.

I am reminded of Psalm 23 which says

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever. – NLT

Verse 4 stands out to me the most – Even when I walk through the darkest valley … you comfort me.

I know this to be true; when I trusted God and let him be my shepherd, these things followed. It’s all good and well to speak these verses into your life and believe for them, but I really believe that it is when you actively put your trust in God and allow him to lead you that these verses become a part of your life.

I had to trust that God loved me and still had a plan for my life.

I’m going to be honest. It was FRIGGIN’ HARD! (Mind the Christian swear word) Yet God was there the whole time. I had to trust him above my feelings.

To really trust God and let him lead me, I had to put aside every plan I made and give it to him in prayer. I recognized some goals I had in life that probably (definitely) weren’t aligned with God’s.

Sad face.

I had to let go of them. MANNN that was hard. It’s one thing to let go of an idea that just popped into your head, it’s a whole different thing letting go of hopes and dreams that you have poured blood, sweat and tears into.

As I gave each hope, dream, and plan for my future to God, he started showing me his hopes, dreams, and plans for my life. Now that was cool! I found out that God had called me to so many different things I never saw when I was too busy pursuing my own selfish plans! The shock to me was that God’s plans were actually bigger than I dared dream myself!

This part blew my mind. God trusted me more than I trusted myself!

What do I mean? God’s plans for my life are beyond what I consider myself capable of. He puts more faith in me than I put in myself. I do not mean that my human ability is able to do this, but that with God, I can do more than I dared even think possible. It turns out that trusting in God unlocks a whole other world!

I really believe that because I started learning to trust in God, my relationship with him grew more in the last two months than the last two years. I do not say this lightly. One month truly trusting in God saw more growth than a year of being a good Christian guy.

What are your experiences of trusting in God? How did you trust in God? How did God respond to you?

The Deal with Pride

Today I was reading from Jeremiah 50. After reading the chapter, (a prophesy of judgement for the nation of Babylon), I noticed a few things.

Firstly, Babylon had been used by God to bring His judgement to nations that disobeyed Him. Babylon didn’t deserve God’s blessing or attention, yet He chose to use them to fulfill His purpose. By carrying out His work, the nation became very wealthy. (Lots of plunder from sacking many a city)

Secondly, Babylon didn’t acknowledge God and His blessing, but instead put themselves as the reason for success and praised their idols. They were so prideful that they couldn’t see past themselves and their own abilities. They put their full trust in themselves. Further to this, they decided that some man-made idols should be praised and worshipped. (uh-oh… I can take a guess where this is headed)

Thirdly, God didn’t take kindly to their pride. (Surprised? Me neither) God saw their arrogance and commanded a judgement on them that was, (get this), worse than every other judgement the other nations suffered. The worst part? There was no chance for repentance. The judgement on Babylon was to be final, and no one would ever live there again. Never ever is a very long time, so you know God was serious. In fact, God says “desert creatures and hyenas will live there” (v29), meaning God basically made the land haunted. All because some people trusted their own strength rather than the all powerful God of heaven. God doesn’t mess around, and I believe He wanted to make a point about pride and humility for people living after (aka you and me!). Those who call out to God will be saved, while those who trust in themselves will be brought low. James 4:6 says it well:

And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

All throughout the old testament you can read of God bringing judgement on Israel for disobeying Him, yet they always turn and repent. God loves a humble heart, and gives grace when He sees it. Therefore, the lesson for you and I is simply this: Pride is a big no-no. You and I can start practicing more humility. And if you already are? Great! Keep going.

Rethinking my Obedience to God

For the past few weeks I have been reading a book written by Pastor John Bevere, called Killing Kryptonite. The book focuses on a common sin many Christians in Australia deal with; idolatry – which is generally putting anything above God or before God. The deadliest part about this sin is how it goes unnoticed by anyone committing it. The result of this sin is a church and body of Christ without power and authority.

I could talk about many different lessons learned, but one that stood out to me was my attitude when reading the bible. For a couple of years I have been fairly consistent in reading devotions, attending church, and thinking I’m a good Christian, but after reading this book, I realised I had lost humility and always assumed I was doing the right thing.

Let me give an example. Matthew 7 verses 1-3“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?’

When reading this passage, I have always assumed I follow this commandment by Jesus. However, after driving for about 2.7 seconds in Adelaide traffic, I get cut off and immediately feel anger and judgement toward the person. ARGHHH I HATE TRAFFIC! Never mind that I just cut someone off myself! I have been judging people A LOT without realising how much I do it.

I’m especially good at judging people and being a hypocrite on a day I do a double-devotion.

Yup. That’s bad. And very true.

Here’s the thing… I never realised my sin until I started reading the Bible honestly. Instead of assuming I’m already doing it right, I have adopted the attitude of assuming I’m doing it wrong, then examining my actions over the past couple of days/weeks to honestly assess how I am doing.

Okay, that’s a nice lesson Caleb, but what does it have to do with idolatry? Well, after reading this book I realised the biggest idol in my life was…. drum roll..

me.

Now I don’t know who you are or where you’re at or what you’ve done, yada yada yada… But I do know that I thought I was a healthy Christian while frequently sinning. And I ONLY realised I was in trouble when I stopped idolising myself and thinking so highly of myself. If you think you’re pretty well on track with your relationship with God, I suggest you stop right now and have a good, long think about that. No judgement here from me! You may be perfectly in God’s will, …buuuuuuut chances are that if you believe you’re not sinning, you are.

All the best.

No More Addiction

I haven’t written for some time. After changing my degree at uni, my job, moving house and having a girlfriend I haven’t found a lot of time… Now that my life has settled down again I want to write more often. Having said this, I’m coming back strong – I want to give an update on my post from the 7th March which talked about my past addiction to porn.

If you haven’t read the post, take a look at it here. In the post, I share my feelings on porn and how difficult it is to quit. Reading it now reminded me of how bleak it seemed at the time. However, I haven’t watched porn from the 1st of April! (Take that, devil!) Anyway… There were a few things that helped me go from minimising the addiction to completely quitting:

  1. Accountability – I was accountable to a friend who was also struggling. I started to be accountable to another man who had already dealt with porn and overcome it.
  2. Keeping busy having fun – Always having something to do helped me to entirely forget about porn. I stopped thinking about it, so I stopped watching it.
  3. Blocking my main means of accessing porn – I would almost always watch porn on my phone. I asked a friend to put a password on my phone to block all porn material. If I wanted to watch it, I would have to go to my computer, which was unlikely.

Of course, there are many more things that helped me, but I’m not writing War and Peace… This is simply to encourage you if you’re struggling. Try these three things – they helped me and might help you too.

I want to share a Bible verse to encourage you. 1 Corinthians 10:13 ‘No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

God IS faithful and He WILL provide the way of escape.

Generosity: Consistent Giving

Growing up in a low-income family taught me to be careful with money. I had a lot of respect for money because it was so difficult to get. When I was ten years old, I was earning $2 for each hour of work. It was a struggle to save money because I could only do chores around the house to make money, and the rate was meagre. However, I managed to save several hundred dollars, which I used to buy large Lego sets!

As I grew older, I continued to focus on myself. I carefully saved money again, but by the time I turned nineteen, I lost all my savings. It was when I had no money and rent to pay that I hit rock bottom. I had been relying on my strength to provide up until this point. I was nineteen with nothing to my name and in a bad financial state. I had to change my mindset.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 says ‘As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

I was ‘setting my hope on the uncertainty of riches’, which didn’t pay off. It is in generosity that treasure is stored up in heaven and a future secured. Thankfully, the story gets better. I learned to start being generous in small ways. With time I got better and faithful to His word, God provided a fantastic job and working arrangement, which paid more than double what I was earning beforehand! A life of generosity is the best life to live.

Passion For God

Acts 21:1-4, 7-8 tells the story of Paul travelling through various places and encouraging Christians as he went. Just focusing on the travel, it says ‘After saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and then went to Patara. There we boarded a ship sailing for Phoenicia. We …landed at the harbour of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship was to unload its cargo. We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week…‘ (Skip verses 5 and 6) ‘The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed for one day. The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food.

This story illustrates the passion Paul had for God and the Church. He travelled the world teaching and encouraging believers wherever he went.

The passion Paul had for God and the Church inspires me. However, when it comes to my life, I can so effortlessly get busy with unimportant tasks. I never intend to put God below other things, but it is so easy to find fun and exciting things to fill my day.

Does your life reflect the passion Paul had? Travelling the world is obviously not required to pursue God passionately. Loving God looks different for everyone, but is there an opportunity to bring your passion to a higher level? Do you find yourself ‘too busy’ to spend a meaningful time alone with God each day?

Does This Verse Change Generosity?!

I was reading the bible in Proverbs when I came across an unusual verse. The verse made me rethink how I view giving and generosity. I was convicted and challenged when I understood another aspect of how giving works. The Bible text said (Proverbs 19:17) ‘Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.‘ Wow! I didn’t know God took generosity so seriously! The fact that he takes personal ownership of our kindness to the poor, turning it into a loan He will repay shows His heart for the poor.

What makes this verse even more interesting is how He chooses to be in our debt. As far as I am aware, this is the only time God is in our debt! God is very generous to us already, extending His grace every day. We are almost always on the receiving end when it comes to our relationship. After all, He is the one who saved us, and He is the one who gave His love without expectation of return. However, here He is giving us the opportunity to give back beyond His expectations. The act of giving to the poor reverses the roles of giving and receiving. God becomes the receiver, but true to His generous character, he will not accept the gift without promising another gift in return!

Worship

Worshipping God is powerful. When I open my heart and worship, every little thing fades into nothing. My perspective changes as I focus all my attention and energy. I can feel every part of me worshipping. As I sing, my words become a prayer. I experience a powerful sensation shoot through my body, often leading to tears falling down my face. This real and raw submission to God gives me more peace than I can describe, more love than I can understand, and the strength to face any situation.

I love worshipping! I have to set a timer on my phone or risk spending hours alone, inevitably making me late for something. The act of worship puts me into a timeless state. I lose all other senses.

John 4:23-24 says ‘But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

As this verse shows, when we worship, we are connecting directly to God. God is seeking worshippers, but unfortunately, in this age, there are so many distractions that take our attention; Worshipping God changes that attention to God and aligns us with Him. If you aren’t feeling connected with God or haven’t experienced this, set aside 2 hours with no distractions, play worship music and listen to the words, making them your prayer. You will not feel the same after! (Ideally, 20+ minutes of daily worship will become a part of every morning.)

God Does it Better

The past few days I have been pushed to my limit. Waking up each morning to a work emergency that required my immediate attention is not what I would consider a good start to my day. These days didn’t allow me to spend the usual time alone with God each morning. This lack of connection has affected me. I have been leaning on my strength, and unlike earlier, the stress of living without God has built up.

Today I read from Job 40. The whole chapter God speaks to Job and his friends, reminding them of their power compared to His. These verses convicted me because I have been leaning on my strength rather than His.

If you were to look at yourself, do you find stress, worry or anxiety? Set aside an hour to reconnect with God. It will reset your heart and mind, removing those stresses and replacing them with love, joy and peace.

Isaiah 40:28 says ‘Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.‘ It is no wonder life is so much easier when I trust in Him! I want God to lead me and guide me!