Thursday, 3 April 2014

Week 45-52- God, I WANT TO LIVE!

Since I last blogged, so many changes have taken place. The end of January was a turning point for me. I moved in with a new family, moved to a new church and I stopped working as a volunteer counsellor with the Police force and started volunteering at 2 different work places.

I worked with an organisation called;The Housing Assistance & Relief Trust (HART). This organisation provides homes for the destitute and attends to their welfare needs. I was working away from the city, which I found to be refreshing. Working there really humbled and challenged me. God showed me that there are people around me that are in great need and there is something I can do to help. In Isaiah 58:10-12 it says ‘feed the hungry and help those in trouble”. He showed me that there are things I can do like giving someone food or even sitting with a prostitute and asking them how they are doing. I am apart of the body of Christ, I am the hands and feet of Jesus.

The second place I was volunteering at was Fiji Media Watch. Working there taught me to be more discerning and alert with regards to what I see and listen to. My eyes were really opened to see how corrupt the media can be and to not be passive but to take a stand especially regarding what young children are being exposed to.

A Time To Pluck What Is Planted!

On the 19th March 2014 I left Fiji. I experienced a whole ray of emotions and feeling. Apart of me feels like I am grieving. To think I was in another country for a year and became accustomed to a new routine, lifestyle, people, food, culture. I became apart of families and gained new friends and then I got on a plane and that all disappeared. It all vanished as soon as I left Fiji! No more late night fellowship sessions and no more walks by the sea wall. All I have now are pictures and memories in my head. I miss the smell of freshly baked buns, I miss looking up at the multitude of stars at night and I miss waking up in the morning eager to see what handiwork God has created with the sky. Sometimes the sky looked pink, other times it looks purple or blue. The clouds different shapes and sizes, oh how the skies truly do proclaim the work of His hands. God is real!!! God sent me to Fiji and He revealed apart of Himself to me. I have seen the creative side of God. I have seen His tender side. I have seen His comforting side. I have seen His generous side. I have seen His merciful side. I have seen His loving side. And I have seen His chastising side. He truly is an awesome wonder.

I was a foreigner and alien in Fiji. People would always stare at me because they could see that I was a foreigner and yet Fiji has my heart. I never knew it was possible for me to feel this way about a country. There is just something about Fiji that makes me all tingly inside lol. In my heart I feel as though I shall one day return there. To think, when I was 14 years old Fiji was on my heart and that my heavenly Father sent me there is just unbelievable, yet true. He isolated me. He broke me. He stripped me.  He healed me. He renewed me. He rebuilt me. Jeremiah 31:3-4 sums up what God has done in me-“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again,
 and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt”. He had to take me away from my comfort zone in order to get my undivided attention.

For I Was Born A Sinner, Yes From The Moment My Mother Conceived Me!

Coming to Fiji has changed my whole life. I cannot fully describe in words what it has done within me but what I can say that it is has changed my reason for living, drastically! Before I came to Fiji my mindset was very different to the way it is now. My perspective, my priorities, the way I utilize my time and money has all changed. The old me was such a selfish and prideful person. Focus was on me.  It had not occurred to me that God had blessed me so that I can be a blessing to others. I was not a very good steward over what He had entrusted me with. An example of this is the way I would spend my money. I was very careless and lacked wisdom in this area. I would buy a new pair of shoes/bag even though the ones I already had were in good condition just to keep up with the latest treads. I was not content with what I had.

Also, if I did not have enough money to purchase something I would feel insecure-I allowed the world to define my worth. Now some of you may be thinking-‘ok Josie, so is it wrong to buy a new pair of jeans or shoes?” No I do not think it is at all, what I am saying is that we should exercise wisdom and examine our motives. My motives for buying something were wrong. We should not allow the world to make us greedy and materialistic. We must focus on the bigger picture-everything we see is temporary and will one day pass away (2 Corinthians 4:18).  Let us not become obsessed and fixated on storing up treasures here on earth that we forget about storing up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21).

As much as I thought I was a loving and selfless person who loved God-I was not. God has shown me who I really am. I am human. I am imperfect. I am a sinner. I am unrighteous. I am nothing without HIM.  By no means have I ‘arrived’, He is still perfecting me. I am still in the process. I still need to work on the prideful side of me; I know that I could be more humble. I could love more. I need God’s help in making me more patient and gracious towards others. Those of you who know me know that I can be rather direct at times and that my tongue needs to be tamed more. I think the difference between who I was then and who I am now is that I am becoming more receptive to change and accept that I need help. There is no good within me and I want to be a new creation. I want to have the mind of Christ. I want to be more like Christ because the Josie without Christ is ugly.

I have learnt about what it means to lay my life down and die to self. This in essence is what it means to be a disciple and follower of Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24 “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me”. You do not have to travel to the other side of the world to lay down your life; everyone’s journey is different. It does however come down to us making a choice-will we follow God or not. The definition of follow is to go after. It involves us waking up every morning and intentionally making the decision to seek after God. I realized that until I fully committed myself to pursuing God I remained double minded. And because I was double minded I was not moving forward. I was stagnant.

Renewed Mindset!

Before I came to Fiji, my plans were as followed-get a full time job, a mortgage, get married, have children. The end. Looking back I realize that I was conforming to the patterns of the world. Now I am not saying that it is wrong to get a mortgage or get married no no no. It is my desire to get married and have children, loads of children in fact lol. What I am saying is that I was not dreaming BIG. I was settling and going with the flow because it is what everyone else around me was doing. I was not asking God to lead me or give me visions and dreams or even expecting greater things like I am now. I realize that my way of thinking was based on the ‘norm’ in society. I was going with the flow without even realizing it. I was not thinking outside of the box. I was not asking God to take me from glory to glory because I was content with the norm. I was content in my comfort zone.

But when I decided to break out of the norm, take the step of faith and leave my job, my family, my friends and my comfort zone I realized that there is so much more to life. Greater things await me and I want to go and grab it. I want to go on adventures, create an impact and help change the world. I want to see God’s kingdom grow. I want to experience life in its fullness. I want to live the abundant life that Jesus was talking about in John 10:10. I want every day of my life to be different and purposeful. Yes that is what I want. I want to live a life with purpose. I want to exercise my faith daily, I want to see mountains move and miracles take place. I want to see change. I do not want to go through the motions and live a mediocre and mundane life. I WANT TO LIVE.

The Old Things Have Passed Away, Behold, New Things Have Come! 

I have been back in London now for nearly two weeks and I am still adjusting. It has been hard, real hard yet I feel such peace because I am confident that the God who helped me in Fiji will help me here. I feel like a solider that has gone to battle and has returned home. Some of you may be wondering why it is so hard for me to come back considering the fact that I have lived here for 21 years. I mean, yes even though I am back in my hometown, I feel like a stranger and foreigner here too. Apart of me feels a bit overwhelmed by the change in environment. I am experiencing culture shock.

I have gone away for a year and have returned to a place where my friends and family have got on with life-apart of me feels like the place I had in their lives has gone. It feels like I am stepping into their lives for the very first time and starting new relationships even though we communicated whilst I was in Fiji. I am still adjusting to the change in sleeping pattern, the food and the fast pace in London. It feels like I am stepping into England for the very first time because I am a different person. Being away in another country for such a long time, changes you as a person. I feel as though I have lost something. No wait, I have lost everything. I have lost everything I thought of as normal and Christ has given me something greater! Matthew 16:25 says “whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it"

So what’s next for Miss Josie Jo? Sleep. Hehe after travelling for 2 days I am still experiencing jet lag. On a serious note, I am still trying to find my feet again. I am taking things one day at a time and am catching up with friends and family.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.



Monday, 27 January 2014

Week 37-44-Seasons Change!

Why hello there, it has been a while since I last blogged, forgive me. I’m feeling so much stronger spiritually, physically and mentally in comparison to when I last blogged. Blugh I was in such a low place. I cried out to God and He heard me.   
My Bridegroom came and rescued me. He brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, set my feet upon a rock and established my steps (Psalm 40:2). God has really been rebuilding me and refining me. I feel refreshed and renewed. Here is a quick update of what I have been experiencing and learning lately.

I spent my first Christmas and New Years away from my family and friends. It was hard. Different environment. Different culture. Different routine. I wasn’t my happiest as the days led up to Christmas. I kept saying, “It does not feel like Christmas”.  I shared this with a friend who challenged me and this caused me to reflect. To me it did not ‘feel’ like Christmas because I was not with my family. It did not ‘feel’ like Christmas because it was hot and I was used to the cold and frosty weather. It did not ‘feel’ like Christmas because pig was served instead of turkey.

Holy Spirit convicted me and opened my eyes to see I was focusing on the wrong thing. I had to repent and ask God to forgive me for making Christmas all about me. I mean who do I think I am? How selfish of me! It’s all about Christ! Spending Christmas away from everything I am so used to make me see that Christmas is not about the presents or the food or the decorations, to see that it is so easy to associate Christmas with ‘things’. It’s all about Christ and Christ alone. If He did not come there would be no hope, no joy, no salvation…NO salvation!!! He came to save the lost and that includes you and me.

I spent my first New Years away from home, which was exciting as I entered into 2014 before most parts of the world. My friend, Lisa invited me to her church and then I spent the early hours of 2014 fellowshipping with her family. Being there, felt like that was exactly where I was supposed to be. I felt peace and felt accepted and loved.

This year, my first goal and priority for 2014 is to spiritually mature. I gave my life to Christ in 2009. In my eyes I simply converted. I had not begun the process of transformation until November 2011. That’s when I actually made the decision in my heart to turn away from the world and live a consecrated life for God.

Whilst speaking to Lisa’s aunt, she said something to me that has stuck with me ever since. Being born again and having a relationship with God is a commitment. It is something that I must be committed to. I have come to fathom that I need to become more committed to God. As believers we must desire to eat solid foods. Hebrews 5:13-14 NLT says, “for someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong”. I read a blog on spiritual growth that said, If you are rather shallow in your knowledge of the Scriptures, then you are just as shallow about applying the Scriptures to your own life. You can't possibly be obeying the Bible if you aren't faithfully reading it. This makes you a spiritual baby. God wants you to GROW UP to be a good soldier for Christ”.
I want to exhort and encourage you all to continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). God reminded me that I am not saved- by that I mean I have not yet received the crown for winning the race. Matthew 24:13 says, “but he who endures to the end shall be saved”. It is so easy for us to become complacent, comfortable and drift through life presuming we’re ok. I have been there, I know the feeling and it’s a very dangerous place to be.

What else has been going on? Well I have been learning about the different ministries (Ephesians 4:11-12) and also my calling. I have already discovered that I am an apostle, which literally means ‘a sent one’; sent from A-B to do something. I have noticed that me knowing my calling makes it so much easier for me to make decisions. Paul encourages us to not neglect the gift that is within us (1 Timothy 4:14) and also to stir up the gifts that are within us (2 Timothy 1:6). We are responsible for discovering, developing and using our gifts for God’s service.

Since entering into 2014 a few changes have taken place, I have moved house and also been blessed with a new job. I am learning that in life, we cannot predict how the choices we make will turn out. All we can do is trust God and believe that all things will work out for our good. God- willing I will be returning to England in 2 months. I actually cannot believe a year has almost flown by. As I reflect on the process I have been through and the decision I made to step out-I'm shocked. I cannot believe I took such a risk and stepped outside of the ‘norm’.

What does the future hold for me? Truthfully, I do not know. Apart of me discerns that my future involves more studying, which I am not looking forward to at the moment but if it is God’s will I have to submit to Him because He knows best. Overall one thing is for sure; God is good. God is always good. God is NEVER the ‘bad guy’. He is always faithful. Always true to His word. He never changes. It is never His aim or motive to harm us. His actions are ALWAYS driven by love. That’s the God I serve. Oh How He loves us :)

Selah :)

Miss Josie Jo