Empty Vessels

The potter sits at his wheel. With a firm but gentle touch, he begins to shape the clay as the wheel turns. He already knows what he’s going to make, he sees the image clearly in his mind. This wont be a water pot, an urn, a mug, a bowl, nothing for use; it will be a centre piece worthy of royalty. No flowers will be needed to enhance it’s beauty; it’s sole purpose will be to sit on a pedestal and be admired for it’s beauty.

We are vessels; but unlike this pot, our maker fashioned us for a purpose.

It is disheartening to admit however that many of us are more like this pot than we realize. We have abandoned our purpose and are now only for show. Water pots, carefully disguised in coats of ceramics paints, just sitting around waiting to be admired for doing nothing.

If you haven’t yet decipher my analogy, let me break it down for you. We Christians, and I am talking directly to Christians now, have become so caught surface things, our look, our style, ourselves, our friendships, impressing the world, that we have neglected to fill up on the inside. We focus so much effort on how people see us, that we forget that God reads the heart.

Now answer me this.

If we are empty on the inside, lacking the spirit of God in our lives, how do we praise? 

If we are empty,  then isn’t our praise the same?

I’ve been in church on so many occasions, waiting for the ministry of someone to touch my heart… and then… nothing. I’ve stood with the congregation to sing beautiful lines of hymns that should inspire such thanksgiving and praise… and then… nothing. I’ve heard  sermons, readings, scriptures that should cause the heart to burst with joy, to cause such a ring out of amens that the walls cannot sustain themselves… and then… nothing.

Yet, we own the latest and most expensive clothing, accessories and devices, which of course must be present at church. We sing and perform with such theatrics and perfectly arranged parts. We read and preach with such eloquence… Yet…

Yet, our praise reaches not even our own heart much less the courts of heaven.

We have become nothing but empty vessels. Empty vessels which need to filled. Until we have come to a realization of the state we find ourselves in, yes I’m included, we can never truly claim to be converted. And without conversion what is life but the time before death.

Each vessel the potter sculpts has a purpose. Each one is made to hold the water of life and deliver it to someone in need. The beautiful pot may lose it’s beauty with time, it may break, never doing more than catching a moments notice. But the working water pot, will quench the thirsting soul.

What kind of vessel are you?

P.S. Empty vessels make the most noise. heard

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To Know Right

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.(James 4:17 KJV)

Have you ever heard the correct version of a story but just simply didn’t feel like believing it? Or maybe you believed but just preferred the version you knew?

If you’re anything like me, you probably have. See, I like happy endings and positive views. If a story isn’t going the way I think it should, I stop listening/reading. I stick with what I know loving the bliss of ignorance.

But there comes a point in life when we all have to face reality and accept life as it exists. We must accept the facts of life. We cannot always pretend that our way is correct.

Yet, at times we do. Take for example the text above. We oft do the things we know we should not do; thinking that the faithfulness of God will forgive us. I can’t count the number of times I heard persons say… “You can repent when you’re finished.” 

We take for granted the grace bestowed upon us, choosing instead to pretend that the sins we commit, or the little slights, will be over looked. But at what cost do we pretend to live in ignorance. To him that knoweth right…

I grew up knowing right from wrong. or mostly knowing right from wrong. Since then however, a few grey areas have been become clear black or white. Yet I find that there are times when I want to forget the right I know simply because I want to be like everybody else, or because I want to do things my way. Then the thought occurs that I know better. If God were to ask why I did what I did, ignorance could not be a defense. 

We who have light must live in light lest we be held accountable for living in darkness. 

On the same point, the church I grew up in professes to have the greater light, yet I have watched as many of its members and leaders make compromises to better suit their own purposes. Again I ask… At what cost? We make silly excuses for our actions thinking instead that if others… then…

But…The judgement of those who know the truth of God’s word will be far more stringent (strict), than for those who do not have a clear understanding of the word of God. 

You must be mindful that you, we, do not adjust the laws of God for personal gain. What sorrow will be ours if we do.

P.S. Fyah deh a mus mus tail…

The Forgotten Coin

Have you ever put money away and forgot about it? I bet that when you came across it you paused to try and remember how and when you placed it there, or if you even did. It’s happened to me a few dozen times. It always shows up just when you need it though, doesn’t it?

By now you have figured out that I love writing. True, I’m not exactly ready for publication just yet with all the errors I make and my self-diagnosed dyslexia, but I love it none the less.

I’ve been writing since 3rd form, or grade 9 as some refer to it; making up poems and stories as I explored the avenues of imagination. In recent times, just prior to blogging, I began to express the inner workings of my mind through analogies and creative writing. I would sit up at past midnight in front of my computer and just let the thoughts flow out through my finger tips.

Emotional strain can result in the best or worst work, dependent on the purpose of a piece. Never become emotionally involved in academic or journalist writing. However, poetry, persuasion, narratives and creative pieces build off the writers emotion which can result in something beautiful. Those long nights of writing or seldom days spent in thought-expression have turn out to now be a blessing to me.

Often I take up a piece I forgot I had written, or whose content I had forgotten and I find myself thinking, “Did I really write that?” You must be wondering what of the contents usually surprise me. Well, the pieces oft appear just when I need those words of inspiration of that reminder. I then think, “God, did you make me write that so I could find it now?”

Just like a lost coin or bill, it appears just the time I need it most. This past Christmas, I was flipping though a notebook I had written a sermon in a few years back. At the time I was a little depressed because I didn’t feel very loved. In that old book I found a strange abbreviation that I couldn’t recall the significance of.There in the sermon appeal, in every  line were the letters BILY. Inspecting the sermon more closely I soon realized that the letters represented the title of the sermon which I couldn’t be bothered to write over and over again. BILY- But I Love You. That all it meant. Four little words written years ago by me forgotten until the moment I might I needed them most. Just like a “lost” coin.

God often gives us lessons today that he wants us have when we need them most. Every wonder why the AY law says to “Keep the Morning Watch” and :”Keep a song in my heart”? You are storing up coins for a later date, coins you may forget until you need them most. It’s OK to lose a dollar in your house/wallet/bag; maybe you’ll find it just when you need it most.

P.S. BILY-Alana

Substance

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11: 1 KJV

A few months ago, I wrote a programme titled “By Faith…”. I had come across a song on Youtube by the same name and was determined to use it in a programme. Having just become a part of a team of diverse ministers, I compiled a list of songs and got to work on a play to highlight the power of faith.

Little did I know that with each twist and turn that I added to the plot, Satan placed another obstacle in our path. It got to the point where almost every member of the group had to overcome a trial just so we could take part in the programme. I started to think that maybe it wasn’t meant to be; that I, per usual, was just, in Jamaican parlance, being too nuff for my own good. I had involved my friends in something that was making them a target to Satan. I was riddled with guilt. I kept thinking that if I hadn’t had this marvelous idea, all this could have been avoid.

So much for faith huh? The girl who had sat down for 3 months to write a 7 scene play about faith in God, was giving up just like that. I was ready to tell my friends thanks but nevermind and cancel the programme. That would surely have made things better right?

So consumed by worry and disappointment, it took my friends to remind me in only 2 words that trials pass. “By Faith…”; the song that had echoed in my mind for months, mingled with the words of Hebrews 11 vs 1 and the content of my script, caused me to remember that faith is substance.

How is faith substance? I mean, you can’t hold it, touch it, smell it, see it, or taste it. You might hear it in someone’s tone, but that’s about it. Yet, Paul says faith is substance ( the the in this case is irrelevant). How can that be explained? Say, for example, a big wall needs to be destroyed, but you see no bulldozer there. If you had seen a bulldozer you’d be confident in the destruction of the wall. Further more, you see no explosives or battering rams or any such thing. What then will destroy the wall? Faith; the belief that it will come down.

I don’t mean faith is going to walk up to the wall and hit it down, but the belief that it will come down will lead to its ultimate destruction. Keep mind though that faith without works is dead. So what do you do, you pick up a phone maybe and start calling. you check everywhere that might help you take the wall down. Maybe you end up with a bulldozer from a construction company, some dynamite from a fireworks company or an army of workers from your community. Who knows, maybe you get on your knees and pray to the God of the faithful, who brings the wall down with a massive earthquake.

Faith is substance because it makes things happen (according to the will of God of course). We can’t just sit back with our arms folded, refusing to believe in anything. We have to move out in faith, because faith bring results.

P.S. We walk by faith and not by sight.

Voooossshhhh!!!

Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.Matthew 16:24

As a child I wished for telekinetic powers, just like Jean Grey in X-men. Yes, I wanted to fly, move things with my mind and have the power of telepathy ( that means communicating through thoughts). Who wouldn’t want those awesome powers.

Of late however, I find myself wishing for just one superpower. The ability to just disappear at will. Just like magic. I find myself thinking “If I could just get away, everything would be better.” I wouldn’t have to feel like an outsider at home ( not my actual family home), I wouldn’t have to be the weirdo among my friends, I wouldn’t have to be wondering all the time if people liked me for me. I’d be somewhere where I could hide from the world for awhile, just me and God, doing the things I love.

I’ve thought about it so often. Some days it’s the only escape from my reality. Then I realized(and yes I realize alot of things,I have lots of free time to think), that running or disappear, while they might seem like the best solution, are not the answers to my problem.

I oft think of Jesus, and how strange he might felt among his own people. How often he felt like a stranger at home. He was mocked and jeered and taunted. There might have been days he wanted to disappear too. Yet, for me and you he stuck it out, to save a people who didn’t deserve it. To be a friend to persons who would betray him. To help persons who just wanted the benefits of knowing him. He actually had the power to disappear, but he didn’t.

I question at times what possible lesson could God be teaching me this time. I ask myself if it is really worth it all. Being a Christian, worse a Christian like me( having the beliefs I do), then throw in my unusual personality, makes being accepted in many circles very difficult. But, seeing as Christ’s life was an example to us all, I have a job to do. I have to shake off the negative, accept the complexity of my chosen path and live a life that bares witness of my dear Saviour.

The Christian journey is not an easy one and sometimes even fellow Christians make it harder. But, God promises to be with us each step of the way. So though road gets rough, and you seem to stand alone, Christ is there with you. Don’t try to disappear just yet. The faithful make it to the end.

P.S. No magic tricks today

The Frosted Glass

Have you ever tried looking through a frosted glass? You don’t see much but if you’re like me, you refuse to admit it and choose instead to make sense out of the blurred shapes you see. Then the image clears and you realize all that you missed.

Happy New Year everyone! I know it’s mid-January, but I put off writing over the past few weeks for fear my emotions might have exploded all over my blog. Truth is, the last few weeks have been tough. My eyes were opened to things I never wish to see. My glass was defrosted, and to honest a part of me wishes it would fog back up and I could return to my state of ignorance. The old cliche is most correct indeed. Ignorance is bliss.

I’ve been so focused on what was revealed beyond the glass that I lost sight of everything else.  These revelations and new knowledge consumed my every waking moment and even some of my dreams. I felt so betrayed by lack of the beauty I was expecting, that cynicism, pessimism and hatred began to form plague deposits on my heart. Knowing right and doing right became the hardest task. I got caught up in my bitterness, blaming the world for the pain I felt and hiding myself away to lick my wounds.

Over the last few days I’ve had a chance to reflect on my actions and reactions. I didn’t like the girl I saw. I didn’t like the hopelessness I felt. I realized that Satan must be having quite a field day at my reaction to what was beyond the glass. he had me caught. Instead of using my new insight as a good lesson I allowed depression and self-pity to take control. While I was focusing on what was behind one glass, he was frosting another, blocking the rays of hope from my life.

It is rather funny how instead of leaning on the hope God gives us in word,we often focus so much on our problems that we let Satan win. I’ve done it so many times that it’s probably reflex, but as mush as I am hurting still, I beginning to see the light rays that have begun to defrost my glass of depression and self-pity.

I take with me the promises offered in the words of God. ” For I know the thoughts that I think towards you…” Jer. 11: 29. “Hold on my child, Joy comes in the morning.” “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart”…Prov.3:6. And a song that has become a favourite of mine.

Maybe you have days like mine, or weeks , even months, maybe it’s been a few years. But though it’s hard I have faith that we can see passed the frosted glass. Whatever glass is in your life will be defrosted. Instead of being disappointed by what you see, look for the rays of sunshine that will clear your dark clouds away

P.S. Just one more valley, one more hill.

Alana Ali

The Burden Bearer

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11: 28- 30 KJV)

At the end of 2015, I promised myself that this would be at better year. And in some ways it has. This year however I’ve had to sit back and watch Satan walk through the lives of my friends and family, destroying as he sees fits. I’ve found myself at a lost for words more often than not this year as I watch depression set in and hope fly away.

I’ve asked myself a million times how can I make it better? How I can help ease there pain? So many times the only answer was to offer my prayers and stand as support until the pain flowed away. It crushed my heart knowing there was nothing more I could or can do.

I’m still waiting for the pain to roll away, but I have learnt something. Some of the very persons I worry about remind me that no matter how hard the devil pushes, God offers us strength to push back and to win. Trials are a part of the Christian journey and they often appear in the things we cherish the most; our families, our friends, our churches, our christian lives and our personal goals. It is true that the tests this year seem more and harder then ever before but God has never failed us.

That song the church choir at home use to sing reminds us of where our hope lies. Co-ooooo-me unto me, I-I-I will give you rest. Taaa-ake my yoke upon you, h-e-ear me and be blest. For I am meek and lo-oo-ow-ly, come and trust my mind, Fo-o-or my yoke is easy and my burden light. God offers to take our cares and burdens away. It’s true that we can’t always see the solution and also true that the solution at times seems to take forever to arrive. But God knows exactly what he is doing. all you have to do is trust that he’ll work it out for you.

Someone somewhere is praying for you when you think you don’t have the strength to pray. Someone sees your pain and has talked to God on your behalf. And just like the stories you read in the mission report, your miracle is coming, your peace of mind is on the way.

Christ is waiting patiently to be your problem solver. I can not, as much as I would like to, take pain away, but He can. I’ll be a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen and a prayer offerer. I’ll be a friend. But God fixes problem like no one else can. Wont you let him take control?

P.S. I will talk to my father for you.