When Life Gives You Lemons: Having The Right Attitude

It’s easy to go along with emotions, letting them control our actions and attitude. Emotions are fickle and, on many occasions, I’ve lived in my good and not-so-good feelings.

I’m learning that I can feel a certain way but choose to change my attitude. It’s tough to remain joyful when you’re going through a difficult situation relating to friends, family, work, financial crisis, sickness and so on. You’re praying and nothing changes. On the other hand, it’s easy to feel like you’re living your best life when everything goes according to plan.

James 1:2-8: “Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (ESV)

Various situations have taught me that joy is not rooted in my current circumstance. I’m not thinking about momentary happiness. I’m thinking about deep joy. To me, this is a sense of stability and trust. My joy comes from the Lord and I am discovering that I can still be content even when things go unexpectedly wrong. Knowing and believing this is a source of strength and relief.

Shifting your mindset from thinking about what hasn’t been done to what God can and will do is not always easy. I can’t imagine some of the things you may be facing right now. But, it’s a powerful action. It’s a sign of trust and complete dependence on the Lord. It’s believing that you will come out like gold in the end.

Some of us might find ourselves in a career that we feel is not part of God’s calling for our life. I’m learning that obedience and maintaining a good mindset is so important. It helps me to see the bigger picture.

In the process of writing this post, I watched a Priscilla Shirer sermon about being willing to do the assignment that God has placed in front of us. Shirer’s sermon reminded me about an important truth: sometimes, you and I search for that calling or purpose which we define as “big” or “important”. What if the job that you dislike could be the stepping stone to the next stage of your life? What if that current situation that you hate so much is the purpose that God has for you right now? I know you’re thinking about those everyday tasks (cooking, cleaning, etc) that seem mundane. You’ve been praying but God’s seems distant. What if there’s something wonderful that God wants to teach us through that task? 

I’ll leave you with this. In Philippians 4:11, Paul writes: “… have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. (EVS).” He went through hard-core stuff. He must have realised that having the right attitude is not dependent on whether he was locked in a prison cell or preaching; the Holy Spirit gave him the strength to endure with God-given joy. 

Photo by Hayley Maxwell on Unsplash

 

 

What is unconditional love?

Imagine you meet a leader who leaves his palace to walk with you.

You get to know his kindness over time. He has great responsibility at the palace but he is willing to spend as much time you as you want with him.

Although he provides you with food and friends from the palace, you sometimes forget about him. Despite forgetting him and losing your temper with him again and again, he accepts your apology each time with a smile.

He has power over his kingdom and many great kings and leaders are at his mercy.

Instead of searching for riches or worldly approval, he chooses to walk with you.

You admire him because he challenges the powerful and rich who exploit the poor and shun the marginalised.

One day, you ask him. ‘What is love?’

He gets on his knees and begins to wash your feet. You feel embarrassed. You have been wearing sandals all day in the heat. Your feet are muddy and smelly.

The days begin to darken and people are hurting.

Your friend says he can take away the pain by dying for everyone. You feel confused and upset. But one day, it all made sense.

 

Love, forgiveness and sacrifice. This is what unconditional love looks like. This is a short abstract story based on Jesus’ humble and servant-like character. He was a leader and had many followers, yet he washed his disciple’s feet, served the marginalised and died for the people. Have you ever heard of a leader like that?

John 15:13 ‘No one has a love greater than this, to lay down your life for your friends.’

By Ella Johnson

Christianity: FAQs. Short answers to questions that I get asked a lot by friends.

There are millions of Christians with many different beliefs and interpretations so I do not represent the entire faith but here’s some quick answers.

  1. Why do Christians get married so young?

Some Christians get married younger than the rest of us, some don’t.  I’ve found that every time my non Christian friends are talking about this, without a doubt, someone will make this comment with a smirk: ‘it’s just because they can’t wait to have sex’. I’m sure for some that has been a reason for the sudden engagement! However Christians have brains and often think rationally! I don’t know many Christians who would commit their entire life to someone and spend thousands on a wedding just for a shag.

Many Christians get married young because they take commitment very seriously. It is possible that many Christians don’t stay in relationships if they can’t see their partner as a spouse in the future. This perhaps means they don’t pursue as many relationships and thus get to ‘the one’ faster, maybe? Most Christians I know won’t live together unmarried. Maybe this is why they move quicker in the pursuit of marriage. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are rushing into it. Many Christians will pray a great deal before proposing marriage.

  1. Why can’t you have sex before marriage?

This is another favourite question I get! Essentially sex is part of the marriage procedure. Marriage is a holy covenant between two people and God. After a marriage ceremony in the presence of God, a man and woman physically become one flesh through the act of sex. Its purpose is to unite people in a lifelong covenant that is taken very seriously by God. That’s why Christians try to not have sex before marriage, so it can be saved for that holy day and for that one person. Then there is the whole your ‘body is a temple’ thing that you might have heard of. ‘The sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God’ – 1 Corinthians 6:18-20.

Furthermore, you can avoid using people for sex, being used for sex or ‘leading someone on’ by avoiding sex before commitment. This ties into loving your neighbour by avoiding the hurt caused by sex.

  1. How can good people go to hell?

There’s many better qualified people than me to answer this question, but you’re stuck with me. The heaven and hell thing isn’t as simple as actions that make you good or bad. “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). For this reason no one is sent to heaven or hell based on sinning or not, as everyone sins.

I understand it as this.  We go to heaven based on repenting (asking for forgiveness) for our sins. If God is good then he is just. Therefore he holds everyone accountable for sin. This greatly ranges from ignoring your friend at school to the extreme of raping a child. Because of the severity of sins such as political corruption or paedophilia, they all need to be acknowledged. But they can all be forgiven. John 3:17 – ‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him’. Jesus dying gave everyone the opportunity to believe that sin can be removed through Jesus’ sacrifice. If you repent then you will have eternal life. Therefore, if we say sorry and mean it then we will have eternal life. That’s pretty sound, as the cool kids would say.

People find it offensive that if they don’t believe in Jesus then they will go to hell. That’s fair enough! One answer I have to that is: how can you expect to go to heaven if you don’t believe it exists? The alternative is death, – hell. Or, how can you repent of your sins if you don’t believe in the person who can remove them? According to the bible you can’t enter heaven carrying your sins.

  1. Why does God allow suffering?

At school I used to panic that I couldn’t answer this one. No one can completely understand this, it is beyond our human understanding. However I’ve got some points.

God doesn’t plan for people to sin or suffer, I think. The brokenness of the world can be argued as a result of the fall of man. This is referring to when man ate the apple – we sinned. Suffering can also be explained by the actions of one of the fallen angels – the devil.

Moreover, God doesn’t enforce a perfect world because we wouldn’t know what was good or joyful if we only knew good. Another point, suffering is caused by human free will. God allows free will so that we make our own decisions and therefore chose to love God or not. Or, perhaps, God uses suffering to teach us or to show us His glory through healing.

I hope I’ve answered some of the questions I get asked a lot by non Christians! My arguments are definitely not flawless and you can write essays and essays on these questions but I tried to make them short and comprehensible.

By Ella Johnson

Finding The Calm in Life’s Busy Moments

Life get’s so busy. From going to work, socialising and planning projects, it’s easy to get caught up in these things. Setting time aside for silence and spending quiet moments with God is nourishing. David said in Psalm 62:1, “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.” In the Bible, Jesus spends alone time with God providing a model for you and me. In Mark 1:35, “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” You can pray, play to worship music or just listen for God’s voice as a way of enjoying His presence. I’ve learnt that in the midst of hectic schedules and tiredness, God’s presence gives me perspective and it refreshes my mind.

Whatever you’re doing this week, give yourself some time to relax even if it’s for a moment. Do something that you enjoy, and sleep if that’s what you need.

I know it’s hard for some of us to find time to do all things, but your mind and your body will thank you for finding the calm in life’s busy moments.

I pray that you find rest in God’s presence. Amen.

 

 

Happy Christmas

The Christmas season is here again. It’s a season of twinkling fairylights, scrumptious meals, special gifts and family time. May your Christmas be filled be joy and memorable moments with people that you love. Our hearts and prayers go out to those facing difficult situations. You might not feel loved or wanted, but there’s a God who wants and adores you. He hears and sees you. He gave His son to the world and, this Christmas, you can experience Jesus’s love. The door to Jesus is open. For now and always.

Happy Christmas

The Single Season: Start Living, Start Loving

You’ve stood on the cliff of loneliness and jumped a few times.
You want to push the singleness away
and you feel like you’re best years are wasting away.

But, the single season isn’t a wasted season.
It might be hard
but It’s a blessing.
It seems like forever,
yet It’s a time to know to your Creator and cling Him.
It’s a time to see your beauty through His eyes
and realise that He loves and completes you.

His promises for you are true
and His plans for you are bigger than what you could ever imagine.

You don’t have to compare or abandoned.
The author of love, the One who created you, has you loved every passing day.
Spouse or no spouse, for now or never,
like seeds planted by the farmer,
God has put you in the right place at the right time.
So, start living and start loving;
there’s no need to wait.
Start believing and start trusting.

God is with you
for better and for worse,
for richer and for poorer,
in sickness and in health
and until He returns.

Achieving goals is in the everyday

It is too easy in a world full of distractions, addictive TV series and stressful jobs, to bury our heads in the sand and let time slip away. I heard someone say: ‘what do you want your reputation to be at the end of 2018? It doesn’t have to be the same reputation as it was at the end of 2017’. I often imagine how I want people to see me. I envision big dramatic achievements such as getting an impressive  job, running a marathon or campaigning publicly. But when you rely on fantasies, wait for motivation or life changing epiphanies, you are waiting for something rare to happen, rather than making it happen.

Motivation isn’t going to leap into your life one day. You won’t suddenly change. Wait on God, listen to him, but don’t anticipate sudden changes or inspirations. It’s the everyday, the little actions, the constant effort in pursuing a life for God and making a difference that will result in actions and results. No part of your life is unimportant!

When I first moved to Portsmouth, I planned to learn to drive and start volunteering alongside work. I spent time imagining it and waiting for the opportunity to spring upon me. Instead, the reality of my everyday was getting home from work, food shopping, cooking and going to bed. We all make time for Facebook and a TV series. It’s easy to make time for things that are easy. Although it’s tough and everyone struggles with procrastination we can, if we want, make time for serving God or serving a cause if we do something today and tomorrow!

In every situation, no matter how insignificant, what would Jesus do?  Forgiving, spontaneously buying someone flowers, sharing your lunch, giving someone a lift, texting an old friend or giving to the needy should be a way of life rather than an occasion. God values these little things as much as big jobs, achieving a degree or giving a large sum to charity. It is the  little everyday things that make you who you are. The little things determine what people think of you.

As a Christian it is the consistent little actions that project the image of God. Finally, the ultimate motivation for Christians is Jesus dying for us so that we could enter eternal paradise sin free. He died for the world but if you were the only one, he still would have died for you!

Thank you, Lord, that any burden can be lifted by you. Help us achieve our goals by guiding us through the everyday.

 

By Ella Johnson