The Gospel that Kills

Audio: Shamarie Headley

We can sum the law up to two commands Jesus said. It is to love God with everything and your neighbor as yourself. The shooting on Sunday killed our neighbor. The act alone has shown us our love for our neighbor has gone quite cold. I am ashamed to say that right after I watched a video that shook the cores of my soul; the next fascinated me, telling me how much money Ronaldinho’s wife gets from him monthly. Some burden I had.  

Crime after crime, death after death, our numbness to evil deepens. We shout, we protest, we condemn, we post but it’s all just for the moment. Days after I had been intentional about trying to forget the incident all together. But why? Why does acknowledging it consistently cause such a strain? Something in me knows things are not supposed to end this way, something in me knows I am responsible. But no, individually, we could never be the problem, right?

We have made calls on the church (which we are a part of) to be more relevant. We’ve read statistics, condemned religious leaders who bring shame on the institution, judged our own leaders for lack of mobility, and yet we received the Great Commission individually too. If your home, workplace, school, or community remains Christless, you are a part of the problem. 

Never have I seen multitudes of people going to a street service for evangelism in scriptures. It was always one and two about their business, rather, the king’s business, burdened with the gospel that saves. They didn’t need an organizational effort, but their own compassion led them to share the most precious thing we can experience on earth, God. I am not against hosting street services, but it should never be a replacement of our daily neglect of souls. Evangelism is not a service, or event, it’s a lifestyle.

There is something more deadly than the bullets that killed our neighbor on Sunday. It is the gospel that is there to always fulfill my needs, first. I don’t have time; I must build a bigger barn. I don’t have the energy; I must reserve for studying. I can’t stay up to pray, I must be ready for an exam tomorrow. I don’t have the resources; I have a new event coming up. I can’t pursue that right now; it will make me uncomfortable. I can’t carry the weight of dedication; I have other interests to be the best at. The gospel that kills is a gospel that refuses to love our neighbor as ourselves, the gospel that is selfish. Paul says, “Don’t be selfish, don’t just look out for your own interest but look on another man’s interest.” (Phil. 2:3-4) How differently would our life look if we followed this? 

I was in the car with my family and a lady from my community. They were talking about the incident (the one I was trying to forget) and the lady said, “A coworker said when we were talking about the shooting, where was God?” I answered internally, in His church, restrained by His body. A body that refuses to move. What if that gunman had been ministered to and gotten saved, what if that lady had heard about baptism in Jesus’ Name and received the gift of the Holy Ghost before he killed her? The country is looking for immediate solutions, I know no other than when a man who has seen God. What if we stopped not caring about others, stop being indifferent to our heavenly calling? 

If you have been feeling the call, perhaps you don’t know what to do about it yet. You don’t need a method; it doesn’t need to make sense; you don’t need a platform, God needs a vessel. Listen when He calls. That’s it. 

Philippians 2:17 NLT. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.

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The Bridgerton Effect

Audio: Shamarie Headley

Before you think I am here to judge you if you have watched it, I have read the book and many others too from the author. Let me just say, if you love the romantic and sensual vibe of the show, the book is wayyy better. I am a reader and in my younger years; they have not always been on the spiritual side, rather, they never were. Hunger Games, Twilight, romance stories my friends wrote, and so many others I found online kept me quite occupied. I get it, romance series, movies, books, gif, memes all of them are captivating. Especially for a teenager or young adult who longs to experience it themselves, it’s tasting the rainbows without eating the skittles. So this is what I would say to my younger self before I read, “The Duke and I.”

Hello love,

No one prepared you for this, these surprising years of sexual curiosity. No one told you, your feelings were natural, that you weren’t dirty if you found boys attractive. I know you see others in relationships. They usually won’t end well. You might even feel that you are missing out, but the boys will be too immature to give you the love you desire. You are immature to fully appreciate the beauty of the dance between the sexes. You might think you get to experience love without actually having it by reading this book but as you will look back on those moments and say they didn’t satisfy, no, they awakened a greater thirst for what was natural yet wrong in the present situation. It wasn’t love that was awoken, it was lust. Untamed passions that clawed for satisfaction now.

When you grow older, these images and ideals will scar you deeper than you expected. When you learn that in the end, your heart was searching not merely for romantic love but to be found, to be seen, to be fully accepted. As you grow older, you will be fully known and loved, but the memories etched in your mind will make your heart wander over and over again. Trying to grasp that which is fleeting. Because it seems easy. Easy to hide in, easy to settle for, because it is familiar. It holds no eternal weight. You will find it empty, EVERYTIME. You will have to pray for God to fix your thoughts, to heal your perceptions and reign in your urges. You will beg Him not to want to read it anymore, to free you from your presumptuous behavior, to awaken your limping conscience.

Love between a man and a woman is beautiful. But that’s that not the only way to experience love. It’s odd in that you will find it many unexpected places. You will learn intimacy doesn’t need to come from sensual caresses. You will learn not to wait on a relationship, that joy, peace, adventure, connections, don’t need to be put on hold, but right then, as a whole person, you are free to experience it fully. I hope you learn contentment and fight these days that would rob you of freedom. Stay anchored to a godly community. Even if your time before this moment is stained, God has accounted for it in His story. You will have a beautiful life wherever He takes you.

Love,

Shanann

N.B. Error in name during recording is that of the author, not the narrator.

Would It Make A Difference?

I’d like to convince you to read your bible, but I am careful to not approach it loosely. Bible reading is a spiritual discipline. But that is who I want to appeal to in this post, your spiritual man.  Has it not been miserably unpredictable to fight without a Sword? This year has tried us and some of us found we weren’t gold but bramble. Our faith fled from beneath and left us on our faces crying, hoping we would just survive. Our faith was so fragile because our knowledge and belief was so limited. 2021 is coming and as a generation, we should learn from our mistakes, we should invest in reading our Bibles. Yet, at the heart, is it merely reading? Far from it actually, It is to have our hearts bowed, our minds engaged, our ears listening and our spiritual man feeding. Yes, we have tried Bible reading before, but what if we did that consistently? What if we mixed discipline, the Word and faith?  Would it make a difference?

I have always sought answers to rid myself of procrastination and selfish actions. Seeking also about my purpose, loving neighbor, serving my community, the ‘Christian’ stuff. But no matter the number of videos I watched, articles I read, or psychological tactics I followed, none of them worked. I was dealing with a state of rebellion and outright thirst for sin, that I couldn’t outrun even if I wanted to.

I often wonder if others aren’t extremely disturbed about the reality of evil in them. Evil that sleeps at our doors. No evil that decides it’s a permanent roommate. That in hearing the sermons and feeling the Spirit, it is not enough for the smell of stale vomit to draw us away. To find it pleasing, to pursue it, even at the expense of our conscience.

I ramble on in thought, what else do I need? What is the secret prayer or length of fasting? Maybe it is to detach from everyone, you know, no outside influences?  I dipped in the bagged candied Christian goodies and no quick fix helped. To live with a heart set on sinning and a mind that desires to please God is a torture that rips you apart from the inside. Subsequently, a friend reached out and asked that I joined them in studying a book of the Bible. This is what I found out:

  • Provides accountability
  • Awareness of Sin
  • Sharpened Sword for Battles
  • Deeper Understanding of God

Precious Thoughts’ passion is that we don’t sleep on the Word next year (Lord’s willing). We are labouring towards the freedom of youth everywhere, and we know it is by knowing truth that we experience liberty. His word is truth. We are completing next year (Lord’s willing), “90 Days New Testament Bible Challenge” that starts on January 1, 2021. Persons who sign up will receive email and WhatsApp (optional) daily reminders. They will have access to the plans (FREE), an opportunity for discussion on our social media platforms via Instagram and Facebook, community accountability and opportunity to inspire others with videos and other posts. The secret isn’t the 90 Day plan, the secret is the power of the Word hidden in a submitted heart. Our aim is not to birth a desire for scripture, that’s a spiritual endeavor, we want to strengthen that which is already present and help you get rid of distractions while we are at it. The beautiful thing is that we don’t have to wait until 2021. Our own pursuit of Christ (Truth), can start today. Choose a passage, book or theme you want from the bible, tell someone to keep you accountable and start reading!

I can make no further appeal than to those who are weary, thirsty, and heavy. To those of us who are restless of sinning and finding that you sinned for nothing. Those who experience pursuing the same old vomit, hoping it will taste good this one last time. No judgement here, I know the taste of revisited vomit too. But I don’t want that to be my bread anymore, I trust you don’t either. Click here for the sign-up form to receive plans via email. Despite how things may look, we believe in this generation!

Reconciling with the Past: Remembering

Precious Thoughts Press

We’ve been on a roll over the past years, it seems we are ‘canceling’ feelings. It’s interesting how they taught us how to tie our laces, brush our teeth, do homework, and yet no one taught us how to maneuver our emotions. Even the bible makes it a priority, it commands us to guard our hearts because it determines the course of our life. (Prov. 4:23 NLT) No matter how hard we try, we can’t outrun them, eventually they catch up. But what’s clear is whether or not feelings are immediately in our consciousness, they dictate our path. Whether that path is to run, to pause or to overcome them. We want to be a part of the ones to overcome them. To do that, we must start at our past.

Our lives are just like the universe, a preacher once said. Before God came and created it, we were without form, void, and darkness prevailed in our lives. Salvation restores our form/ foundation, fills our voids, and lets the light into our hearts. Our foundations before Christ were unstable, destructive. Our houses could have fallen at any time. Now, Christ has become the rock we are building upon. However, when saved, our past remained in our memories, forgiven and forgotten by God, yes, but not by us. The mistakes, the hurts, the pain, our offenders and the ones we offended take permanent residence in our minds, skewing our outlook and damaging our relationship to God and others. How do we get rid of them or even bound them, so they don’t always mess things up?

Christian author, Miroslav Volf, suggested a path to healing from our past, or in his words, memories. In his breakthrough book, “End of Memories”, the journey starts with remembering and not just that but remembering truthfully. Our first steps, a guardian holding us just after birth, the feeling of first touching the ground, the first time we saw a bird, or the sky, or the ocean, our first words, the first knee scrape and the first time we laughed, all important things, all things we have forgotten.  It is a fact memories fade, but some especially negative ones, we repress. I don’t blame you; I did the same thing too. Recalling negative experiences are uncomfortable, excruciating even. But avoidance has helped no one in history, not even the thinkers.

I know it’s absurd that I am asking you to do this, but friend, God can’t heal what we don’t acknowledge. It’s true He knows our hearts, but do you know yours? That’s why prayer is so important. It’s an exclusive session with the greatest counselor, comforter, and healer. I remember the first time I did this; it was sometime last year. People close to me often said I was closed off, guarded, cold, emotionless even. As a highly sensitive person, this was the farthest from the truth, I just didn’t know how to handle my emotions or express them. They made uncomfortable, made me feel weak and stupid. So, when they became overwhelming, I disappeared. I didn’t know it was okay to just feel. Apparently, I had bought into the idea that I had to always be okay. I needed to remember, to acknowledge, to name the thing or things.

The interesting part to this is not only will we sit in remembrance to God, but we will speak of it. I did not grow emotionally by myself; I had a community that was patient, loving and sober. Healing whilst more internal than any other process is never done alone. Paul didn’t just arrive after such a horrific past. He had the word, the Holy Spirit and a church family to encourage him. Remembering truthfully might seem easy especially for victims, but one needs to be careful. William James warned,

“The most frequent source of false memory is the accounts we give

to others of our experiences. Such accounts we almost always

make both more simple and more interesting than the truth. We

quote what we should have said or done rather than what we

really said or did; This is one great source of

the fallibility of testimony meant to be quite honest.”

In simple terms, find a prayer room, pour out to God then find a sober confidant, pour out to them fully and honestly. Don’t make yourself look any better or the offender any worst. Afterall, bearing false news is a sin too. Beware of assuming motives and opinions. There will be time for that later. Leave nothing for shame to have power over. You can do it the other way around if you choose too. If you killed someone say it, someone raped you? Say it. They neglected you when you were younger? Tell every detail. Perhaps you struggled with sexual immorality? Confess it. Someone broke your heart? Reveal it. The things I confessed started losing their power the moment they left my lips. Our shame feeds off the things we remain hidden. Let me just add too, it’s okay to feel ashamed too.

I journaled before speaking though; it helped me sort through my emotions to find out what was holding me back from being open and vulnerable. Then, after I sat down to write, I rose to talk to God and people.

Healing is a messy business, but staying broken and wounded is even messier. Your pain won’t just stay in a corner while you continue life, it insists on getting attention. Unhealed pain makes pebbles seem like boulders and streams like raging waters. If you received healing, you change the course of your life for the better. Let’s start with vulnerability. If you feel you can’t talk to anyone, slide into my DM on Instagram. I promise it’s a safe place. Next week we will tackle another part of the journey, condemning those wrong deeds. Remember, you are precious.

Recording: Shamoy

The Elephant in Our Prayer Rooms

I have planned my life. I know exactly the things I want to accomplish. I never realized the implications of this until I started being more consistent in prayer. There was a distance I didn’t feel before. I know the battle of wills is what prayer is about, but this was new, well new requests anyway. Things were getting a little serious in my life. And I know I shared about sometimes the fire doesn’t go out but refines instead- this one needed extinguishing immediately. I literally commanded God on what I wanted to see happen and when the lingering thought appeared, “What if this isn’t what God wants?” I would cry and end the session, God wouldn’t let me down, would He?

It took a few sermons, writers and musicians for me to understand. I was holding on to my dreams. I didn’t want God to take them from me or worst replace with ones I hated. Honestly, I would have been fine if He just answered my prayers the way I wanted, and I did my due diligence in serving Him, something resembling a business contract. But He’s the kind of God who won’t stay in a corner. I wanted rulership of my life. Remind you of anyone else? Yes love, Sister Eve. The Fall reflects the greatest temptation for man, the desire to rule our destinies, to become like gods.

But if one neglects his closet, then all evil comes of it.

Charles Spurgeon

There’s another being who wanted to rule his destiny too, Satan. It’s interesting how he used the very things God gave him to put himself up on a pedestal. Are we using the very intellect, abilities, beauty and connections God gave us to set up our little throne? Lest you think I am being dramatic, consider this. I want my life to go the way I want it. First, it’s not my life. Second, it’s already planned. But I want to change that. I want things in this life to serve me, instead of using them to serve God. I have become the object of worship; I am ultimately saying; I am in charge around here and things are going to go my way, no exceptions. Satan ended up getting kicked out of heaven. Imagine my predicament. But before you conclude God is a tyrant and takes ‘small‘ things too seriously, we need to keep His character and the Cross in view.

The little leaven breeding all of this took a while to pop up- the pride of my accomplishments. In the back of my head, I wanted people to say, “Wow, this girl is making progress, look at her family and she’s doing really well in her career.” To put it a little different, “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. (Is. 14:14 NLT)” Devilish if you ask me, because when people would see future me, my intention would not be for them to see Christ. I wanted them to see me.

So this is the elephant in my prayer room, perhaps yours too, autonomy or self-governance birthed of pride. Creatures playing dress up god. Prayer is an afterthought because we’re already leading the way. May this be a reminder it is not in man to direct his own steps (Jer. 10:23 KJV). We also make little time for it because of its humbling effect. The very act of praying declares our insufficiencies. Prayer brings us to a posture where we see ourselves as below and Him, above. Our prayer life reveals to us our understanding of God, ourselves and decisions. The one that gets first place gets the most attention.


Without a doubt, we can test our hot or coldness based on the temperature of our prayer life. When we pray, if we doubt if He can make us happy; we are too far away from Him. If we think He’s incapable of leading our lives, then we worship a God we know not.

Above all else, whilst I have made prayer about me, essentially it isn’t. It’s about the wisest, most powerful, most loving, most beautiful creator deciding to commune with me. His representation on earth. Though, I may not always walk worthy of this calling, His love and mercy persuades me to come closer for greater transformation. Really, what could be more worthwhile than that?

I am grateful, even if struggling. Prayer is doing what God instituted it for, to reveal my heart and bring it into alignment with His. It is positioning me as a child, relating to her father. So you know what I am going to do the next time I pray? I am going to be a Jacob, except daily I am going to loosen my grip so God can carry me to where He wants to. And even if months from now, I am living in unchanged circumstances, I will stay in His presence, bringing all my grief and wishes. Until I can join A. W. Tozer in proclamation.

“Sometimes I go to God and say, “God, if Thou dost never answer another prayer while I live on this earth, I will still worship Thee as long as I live and in the ages to come for what Thou hast done already. God’s already put me so far in debt that if I were to live one million millenniums I couldn’t pay Him for what He’s done for me.” 

― A.W. Tozer

Then I would have understood the cost and privileges of being a part of this great salvation. Remember, you are precious.

Recording: Abigail Barrett

Thorns of Pleasure

Connecting with someone before they get whisked into a meeting is less than ideal when they reveal something you had been blind to.  She told me she was once as into ‘it’ as I am. That my expressions were once hers. Sadness played on her smile as she continued. Something pushed her away from it, from Him. It was a guilty pleasure, she said. She spoke with a conviction even I override now and then, “Presumptuous sinning is wrong, God charges you for it more than the ignorant, I can’t be in God’s face like that.” Yet here she was, not as ‘committed’ as I am. The thing is, I felt she was talking about me.

Crossing Boundaries

God and I disagree on what pleasures are acceptable, even if I don’t do the things myself. I ask things like, “What’s so wrong about having the last dumpling covered in curried chicken gravy even if I am full, or hitting the snooze button for the fourth time, or a glass of wine now and then, or masturbating, (that’s not technically fornication if it’s just one person), I add, or buying the 3rd outfit with no use for it, or binge watching a series that is ‘clean’ but says nothing about God or stalking celebrity pages that promote nothing I stand for or at worst, is fashionable pornography or watching an all-night funny cat video marathon? Come on! They are just cats!” If my conscience could be silent, I would get away without feeling guilty too. But there is something God wanted to teach me about the human desire.

“St. Thomas says [I-II, Q.34, a.4] that a man is good when his will takes joy in what is good, evil when his will takes joy in what is evil. He is virtuous when he finds happiness in a virtuous life, sinful when he takes pleasure in a sinful life. Hence the things that we love tell us what we are.”

Thomas Merton, Thoughts In Solitude, Pg. 11


Pleasure Nerves

 I find pleasure in things that have nothing to do with God because they make me happy. I would go further to say, even more than the things that honor Him. But this is something I am far from comfortable with. Authors Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey shares about a pleasure/pain experiment:

“Then, somewhat characteristically, he recruited volunteers among the female students who agreed to let him stimulate the nerves of the clitoris electrically. To his surprise, he found no nerve ending that could be designated a “pleasure nerve.” In fact, the main feature of the erogenous landscape was an abundance of the free nerve endings normally associated with pain.

Weddell concluded that sexual pleasure, too, is more perception than sensation. Sensors of touch, temperature, and pain dutifully record the mechanical aspects of one body coming into con- tact with another. But pleasure involves an interpretation of those reports, a process heavily dependent on subjective factors such as anticipation, fear, memory, guilt, and love. Physiologically, sexual intercourse between two lovers and the ordeal of rape involves the same nerve endings—but one registers as beauty, the other as horror. Pleasure, even more than pain, emerges as a by-product of cooperation among many cells, mediated and interpreted by the higher brain. ”

Pain, The Gift Nobody Wants – Pg. 59-60

So, are they saying something I find pleasurable can turn into pain if I just changed my mind about it? Trust me, I’ve tried, don’t work. Or so I thought. I needed to see the end of my pleasures. Solomon ran ahead and did that. His conclusion was it was all meaningless, like chasing the wind. (Eccl. 2)

Real Pleasure Defined

How does prayer and study become more pleasurable and not painful or just mundane? Romans 12:1 shares the renewal that takes place. But how? Colossians 3:1 states it beautifully, it’s setting my heart/eyes/mind on things above so constant renewal can take place.

How then do I define these heavenward pleasures so I can submit to this process of renewal? The late Ravi Zacharias has defined this using these three biblical points:

  1. Anything that refreshes you without distracting you from your final goal is legitimate. (What is the ultimate goal of your life?)
  2. Any pleasure that jeopardizes the sacred right of another is an illicit pleasure
  3. Any pleasure, however good, if not kept in balance will distort reality or destroy appetite

Thorns

While sinful things feel good even fantastic at the moment, it is short-lived and harmful. Jesus said it best:

18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

Mark 4:18-19 KJV

Imagine the thing that should cleanse our ways barren and dried up. The results of that are uncontrollable lusts that lead to sin and ultimately death. Perhaps we need to see ‘innocent’ pleasures as leaven.

God of the Happy

Despite what others say or our own thoughts, God is interested in our happiness, in us finding pleasure. It’s the source that has always been the problem.

“Being happy in God and living righteously tastes far better for far longer than sin does. When my hunger and thirst for joy is satisfied by Christ, sin becomes unattractive. I say no to immorality not because I hate pleasure but because I want the enduring pleasure found in Christ.”
― Randy Alcorn, Happiness

I am happiest with Jesus; I smile more; I overthink less, my fears are subdued by His grace, I find meaning for my life, motivation for purpose, I am more productive, and have peace down to the depths of my soul. Anything else and I become overwhelmed, flustered and depressed.

Heavenward Pleasures

What can we do starting today? Replace mindless scroll time to check up on a friend, or pray for them. Share meals at lunch to avoid overeating, give that money to somebody in need that you would have used to buy the extra outfit. Think about things that make you experience closeness to God. Do more of that. When you are overwhelmed and tempted to waste time on a series that adds no value to your life that you will end up regretting, find another one to watch! Just let it be God glorifying, I highly recommend The Chosen, they even have an app for better quality! And let’s not forget music, use the weapons of melody to redirect your thoughts.

Have extra time on your hands? Give yourself to volunteerism in the ministry and or shelters, hospitals, prisons, etc. It’s amazing how understanding someone else’s struggles reduces the delight in selfish pleasures. If you are tempted, at the moment, say it to a friend or leader, confession is POWERFUL. Ask them to pray for you. If you can change your environment do so. All of life’s war is choosing one thought over the other. Don’t let one sinful thought escape, they have a way of growing into monsters. Fight to the end. Remember, you are precious.

Recording: Abigail Barrett

Life Stories- When Love Lingers After It Has Ended

“You’ve been hurt, abused, mistreated, misused.

You’ve had friends all around 

But they let you down

Don’t give up now, or through in the towel

Don’t you worry, your healing starts now.”

 Trotter, Larry- ‘You can be healed

I find the words of this song by Trotter Larry very encouraging during this season. Wounds were not meant to last forever, even though the season may last longer than you have expected it to; there is a season for healing. 

On this journey we call life, there is a point where we may have encountered some experiences that we never imagined possible. Experiences that left us wounded deep within the heart. Precious ones, you are not alone; I’m in that boat. With that said, here’s my story about the process of my first time feeling the pain of a heartbreak. 

Considering my past, I’ve been exposed to intimate relationships from a tender age. I grew up in a broken and sheltered home. My parents really care for me and they trained me up in the right way as a parent should; But I never experienced expressing my emotions without being judged, so I seek attention from the opposite sex, pouring out my heart to them. I never knew what it was like to be single or how it feels until now. Throughout my journey, I’ve entered relationships and never understood what love is and the purpose of intimate relationships. I entered relationships with the wrong motives. I just needed the pleasure and a sense to feel complete. As a result to my lack of knowledge, and understanding; I was cheated on, abused physically and mostly verbally and I returned the same treatment to some of those individuals, except the cheating aspect (lol). But that never stopped me from pursuing because I believe that I am worthy of being loved and that there is someone out there for me. 

After I accepted the Lord Jesus as my savior, I entered a relationship. With this relationship, it was my first time sincerely seeking the Lord as it pertains to marriage. My prayer to the Lord was “Lord if he is not in your will for me, please do not allow me to be in love with someone else’s husband. If he is not in your will, please expel all the feelings I have for him because I don’t want to go contrary to your will and end up doing my will.” After a while, I genuinely find myself loving this individual. The love I experienced being poured out of me to this individual that I never encountered with anyone before. I then found out that this love could not be of myself, because I never knew what love was and I of myself is incapable of loving someone without being conditional, but with this person, this love is unconditionally, I could see all the flaws and all and still be able to love this individual and this love flowed over to me loving and embracing others. It was something I was constantly prayerful about because I wanted to please the Lord in all areas of my life. 

He expressed interest, and I did myself. We had plans of getting married and would serve the Lord together. Then it came to the breaking point where I was of no more interest to him. All the plans, all the promises and experiences got me burning with sorrow, left me angry at God for allowing or causing this. Being depressed and confused for months.  My heart was broken into fragments for the first time! Broken to the point, where I never wanted to see the light of day anymore. I never wanted to have anything to do with the Lord because I believed he was unfair to me. I returned to seeking pleasures from pornography, that I knew was wrong but I never cared, then the Lord intervened and allowed my stomach to be upset of watching pornography. I then repented, but I was still depressed. I would sleep, expecting not to see another day; preparing myself for death, but the Lord never saw it fit to take me. I was tormented during the nights had to shower late just to fall asleep or watch something that would make me laugh.

My pillows and sheets were my best friend because they held all of my tears. I felt like I was on a thin line of sanity and insanity, wondering what was happening to me. I started seeing myself as a doormat for men, because I felt used and abused emotionally and mentally. I felt like God was using this to repay me of all the evil I did within the past. I felt so far off; I was even excited for the wearing of masks because I never wanted to be questioned, I just wanted to be hidden. I became silent and lost in conversations that I once found interesting. I just wanted to pass on because I never thought there was anything good for me anymore, I wanted to forget about everything and I only saw that possible only if I died. I thought God was just playing with my feelings and he doesn’t care, but here’s what I am learning and being reminded of within this season as I am on the road of recovery, thanking God that I am still alive and well. 

Lessons I am learning in this Season.

  1. Never lower your standard for the opposite sex. Be virtuous. Maintain your purity.
  1. God has your best interest at heart. You are more of a value to him than the sparrows.
  1. Guard your heart.
  1. Never trade God for any relationship, always ensure he’s first. 
  1. Empower yourself in all areas of your life.
  1. Do not get involved in an intimate relationship if you know within yourself that you are not ready for marriage, that only puts fuel to the fire and you might get burn. 
  1. Understand your worth, your value and walk in integrity knowing who you are and to whom you belong.
  1. Be accountable, always. There must be someone you can trust. Community helps. 
  1. Not everyone will get married early, late or any at all. Know your purpose and what God calls you for.
  1. Get involved  in church, in your community.  Find something that suits you. Don’t be lazy. 
  1.  Don’t get married because you feel lonely.Ensure that your motives are right. 
  1. Ensure that you have an understanding of self first and what a Godly marriage requires because marriage is a ministry, it’s not about you but to give God glory. 
  1. Be healed first. Don’t start a relationship being  broken by your past relationship/s, you will just bring a burden into the marriage. Hurt people, hurt people. 
  1. Enjoy yourself, laugh, have fun with sober friends that have your best interest at heart. 
  1. You are only made complete in God. He satisfies you.
  1. Singleness makes you unique, separate and whole. It’s not a curse. Take advantage of that season. 
  1. If the relationship never works out, maybe it wasn’t God’s will or maybe it’s not the time yet. 
  1. Be patient with yourself. Take time to heal and learn from your past mistakes so you can be able to be better than you were moving forward.
  1. Your past doesn’t determine your future. Get up and start anew. It’s never too late to start again. 
  1. Forgive. Don’t allow what has happened to you to make you bitter, so you miss the promises of God. What God has in store for you is much better than the things we lost. There is hope, the best is yet to come.

Here are some scriptures I am delighting in, and you can do the same. 

Psalms 147:3- “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Isaiah 61:3 – “ To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”

Jeremiah 29:11- “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

2Corithians 4:8&9- “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.”

Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

Proverbs 4:3 “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”

– Anonymous

Hi Gems, I hope you are well. If you would like to ask questions from this writer or any other Precious Thoughts family member, don’t be afraid to send them to precious.thoughts.press@gmail.com. What would you like us to share on next? Remember, you are precious.

Nugget Wisdom from Megan Samuels-Webb

I am so happy to share this insightful interview with Meagan, a new momma and wife! Let’s go meet her!


1. Where are you from? How long have you been saved and describe yourself in three words?

I’m from Westmoreland where I attend Bethel House of Prayer but I’m residing in St Ann and attend a Pentecostal church whilst here. I’ve been saved since around age 11. I’m still trying to figure things out about myself as we are always evolving , learning and changing for the better at times but I’d say I’m an individual who is honest, compassionate but also cautious .

2. How did you know your husband was the ‘one’ ? 

There is no one way of knowing your partner is the one. I didn’t go down in prayer and fasting for signs to prove he was the one. I prayed for him, his soul, our relationship and all, but not for the sign/s. What I used to confirm that he’s the one for me was the fact that one he is nothing like the man I always imagined would be my husband-perhaps because I was being too shallow about certain details. Two, I know that even if I strayed from God, He still speaks through our leaders and when I took him to my home church and introductions made, there was no disapproval. In fact, they all loved him. 

3. How has the transition of single-hood to partnership been? 

There is not much difference for me. The wifely duties of course, but apart from that spiritually there’s not much difference for me. I tend to have some same struggles with praying and fasting, but I have a husband is of the same faith who renders needed support. There might be times when I’d want to fast but have to reconsider based on certain matters that would take place on that day. For instance, if I’m to be traveling then I know I won’t be focused enough, so I’d be harming my body in the name of Christ. 

 4. Tell us about your newborn. What are you learning from this experience?

I will share his initial, AHW. He’s 10 months old since his birth, literally the day he was born I had a better understanding of how much Christ can love us. I was never the one who couldn’t wait for babies, in fact, I  was often indifferent about having any. But becoming a spouse and a parent you are constantly practicing putting your wants and needs aside for the ones you love. You learn to be more patient-not perfectly patient, just more patient than I was. The experience is bittersweet at times, especially living in these times. I worry whether I’ll be able to equip him with the tools to stand against the influences of this world. 


5. What aspects of the experiences was unexpected whether married or motherhood and how did you handle it?

I don’t think there was anything that happened that was unexpected. I had a pretty broad knowledge of both realms prior to my personal experience, so nothing was necessarily unexpected. 


6. What would be your encouragement to singles considering a partner? 

My encouragement is to first have a good grasp of who you are so you won’t be easily influenced by the actions or words of the intended partner. Make sure your relationship with Christ is a priority. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a wife or a husband otherwise the Lord wouldn’t design us this way with these hormones and desires etc. However, do not be so focused on getting into a relationship that you neglect the one you have with God. Make sure your partner loves God just as much or more than you. That way, you’ll both have the support needed when struggles arise. Be transparent about intentions with each other so if anything you’ll know whether to walk away. Pray, seek God in all you do. And most importantly, don’t rush into anything. 

I am definitely transferring those ‘don’t rush’ words to my journal. Let me know who would like to be featured next! Remember, you are precious.

Friendship Lessons from Sarcastic Job, Peas and a Donkey

Jesus was a selective person. He loved the multitude, chose twelve disciples, then three more for his inner circle and the disciple that spent a lot of time on his bosom. I was not sure how that worked, my need for space restricted my imagination in it being a pleasant experience. But the scholars explain that it’s not literally, but a place of nearest to the host at a table or how Joshua was a right-hand man to Abraham and Joseph to Potiphar.

So, with my WWJD metric, I gotzz a right to choose my friends, not with an elite mindset, but choosing people who will best help me on my journey and me helping with theirs. It is a lot like inter-cropping. Peas and corns are besties in the farming world, peas convert the atmospheric nitrogen with their nodules, so the soil becomes richer, and corn loves this. The corn shelters peas and assists with the wind breaking. Perhaps we shouldn’t look for our friendships to be two peas in a pod, but corn and pea duos. 

Windbreakers

I admire this trait in my friends more than anything else. If you haven’t realized by now, I have issues lol. However, sadness doesn’t make me uncomfortable, it helps to be more, what’s the word? Grounded. When I read Solomon’s reflections, “Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us,” (Eccl. 7:3 NLT) my heart sighed. Melancholy is petrifying. When I don’t see an immediate cause, I tear apart every fabric of my life, examining every thread to find the one is out of place. My weaknesses love this part, they unravel themselves one after the other, barely leaving me with anything to cover my shivering heart. When my friends see me shaking in the wind, they don’t withdraw to expose me more, instead they draw closer, closer in prayer, in word, in deed and literally just laying right beside me without a word. I don’t remember ever feeling so heard, yet we spoke no words.

Job’s friends were the opposite. Their silence didn’t cover, they looked on pitifully, worsening the situation for seven days! (Job 2:13) When a friend is struggling, hurting, sick, broke, pity should never be the response. Jesus offers us the answer, compassion. Pity stays at a feeling, compassion leads to actions. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Listening is one of those actions too. If Jesus didn’t listen, we wouldn’t have known most back stories. I think about blind Bartimaeus, Jesus already knew what he wanted, but he said it. The woman with the issue of blood could have been just given a knowing nod, but Jesus asked who touched him. Jesus is a good listener, I mean we pray, sometimes all at once. There’s healing when we talk, too. Real friends listen, not distracted, daydreaming, bored but compassionate, active listening.

Nutrient Converters

Imagine the peas saying to the corn, “You should have learnt to convert atmospheric nitrogen to make nutrients by now. Something must be wrong with your roots.” Our friends are different people. They have preferences, arrive at decisions and perceptions that vary from our way. Most of our impatience and quick judgement stem from these innate differences. Job’s friends took the worst route possible, they judged first and not once asked a question to understand Job’s suffering. (Job 4:8) By a long shot they weren’t wrong in their theology, God punished the wicked, but their understanding was incomplete. God allows suffering that works a far greater glory in us.

We can never be sure that our friends are not a present-day Job. They don’t need arrogant friends who talk down to them, but to convert the truth of the gospel to comfort in those moments.  If they struggle with condemnation, knowing that what they are doing is a sin, becomes redundant, it’s clear to them. What they need is encouragement, embellished with grace that leads them to Christ, who is the one to give them a heart of repentance and security in the price paid. If they are reluctant to acknowledge what they do as being wrong, we lovingly but directly point them to a verse or principle in the Word. Here, silence would be to their destruction. 

Shelters

We all have that one friend whose facial expressions are to die for. And their words? A fresh baptism for their lips, please. But what I can agree with is that they usually say what we think- Job is that friend. His sarcasm rang throughout most of the book. Job 12:1-2 is my favorite. But in chapter 6, here was a man wanting to die and all his friends could consider was the exegesis of his statements.


Don’t I have a right to complain?
    Don’t wild donkeys bray when they find no grass,
    and oxen bellow when they have no food?


I wish he would crush me.
    I wish he would reach out his hand and kill me.


11 But I don’t have the strength to endure.
    I have nothing to live for.

14 One should be kind to a fainting friend,
    but you accuse me without any fear of the Almighty.[b]


15 My brothers, you have proved as unreliable as a seasonal brook
    that overflows its banks in the spring.


17 But when the hot weather arrives, the water disappears.
    The brook vanishes in the heat.


25 Honest words can be painful,
    but what do your criticisms amount to?


26 Do you think your words are convincing
    when you disregard my cry of desperation?


27 You would even send an orphan into slavery[c]
    or sell a friend.

Job 6 (NLT)

Now tell me if Job isn’t the best! He nailed most of our feelings in suffering. Attempting counsel or comfort becomes meaningless if we ignore one part of the man, the emotions. Job was not right to contest God, he had to repent of that after his request for an audience with The King finally came through (Job 42), but insensitivity will push our friends further into misery. I would caution that focusing only on feelings is dangerous too. Notice God’s response in Job 38-41, did God say the worms are still eating away at your flesh, would you like to share about that? No, he spoke of His majesty, how intentionally he designed creation and how He still rules powerfully over them. But that’s God, what can we do? 

We don’t want to make the same mistakes as Job’s friend, playing the role of God. So, here’s our resolve, we love. Love covers a multitude of sin. Dare I add pain, distress and weaknesses. Love shelters. Love too speaks the truth. Love is present. Love doesn’t forsake. Love is patient. Love sees past the arrogance to a hurting heart. Love forgives 490 times in a day. Love texts first. Love is genuine. Love sacrifices. Love seeks reconciliation. Love forgets the past and moves on. Love stands firm. Love isn’t insecure. Loves always points our friends to God, who is their true everlasting shelter. Jesus says the greatest love is when a man gives his life for his friend. Seemingly too much for us? Perhaps we aren’t ready for friendships, just as marriages. J. C. Ryle sums it up beautifully, 

This world is full of sorrow because it is full of sin. It is a dark place. It is a lonely place. It is a disappointing place. The brightest sunbeam in it is a friend. Friendship halves our sorrows and doubles our joys.

J. C. Ryle 


May our friendships shout the love of Christ like a man lost in a forest. Two, we will find, is better than one.  Remember, you are precious.

Why Am I Single?

It’s strange how I purposely refrained myself from sharing about this. If you heard from me before now on this, I would have had a very critical tone, I once had a post draft I titled, “The Love Conspiracy”. It blasted Hollywood for having robbed of us the oh so perfect love that’s not made of candlelight dinners, or immediate connections always or even the most intimate sex. Perhaps I’d have chosen that approach because it would cover up my own longings and insecurities. But hiding reeks of shame and I am not ashamed of the lessons I’ve learnt.

Why Am I Single?

I assume you are at the age when everyone else is getting married. Those cute wedding photos make you both happy and sad, mostly sad. You wonder when your time will come, if any at all. Or you really just desire companionship. Then the daunting thought comes, “Why am I single? There must be something wrong with me.” Some look within, it must be because I am ugly, boring, underachieved, not in their league, too tall, too short, too fat, too slim, dare I say, not spiritual enough.

Others look without, he/she just couldn’t see what a good choice I am, nobody has come close to what I have envisioned for a partner (settling is out of the question but maybe nobody will, ideals aren’t reality), she wasn’t attractive enough; he was too short; I didn’t like the way he laughed; he didn’t pursue me intentionally enough; she sent mixed signals, he/she was interested in too many people, I trust you see I could go on. Then last, some look up, the most used one in the church, it wasn’t the will of God. Whichever the category we find ourselves, the reality is, we precious, are single.

I Want to Get Married, Just Not Yet

I’ve never been one to like something because somebody else does. But with marriage it’s different. My parents got married before I was born. I’ve seen how ‘Topsy turby’ things can get and how fulfilling and beautiful too. If you are like me, you’ve either quickly dismissed the thought of not getting married or almost wept. I admit, I don’t want to get married right away, but the possibility of not being able to frighten me. We will talk about that soon. But what about now? Good morning texts would be lovely, petty arguments, him noticing details others miss and random adventures would be nice. At least until we are ready to get serious, right?

I wish I knew before that ‘innocently’ getting to know someone just for the sake of it is one of the most unwise things we can do. It’s interesting how many persons broke my heart who never committed to it – Or how many emotional attachments I formed that only left me feeling used. Who do I blame for these? At first, God. But He didn’t text the guy or shared personal stuff or spent hours daydreaming about him, did He? I think not.

If you’ve searched your heart, took an inventory of your soul and mind, and you realize you aren’t ready for marriage, it’s best we refrain from being intentional about one person. Why? Life happens, our desires change, our feelings and our maturity. If you think I mean that you behave like a robot with the opposite sex from now on, then I apologize for misleading you. Honey, be yourself. Laugh, worship, talk (preferably in a group) just ensure you aren’t interested in that relationship above all else.

My current male friends are at an association level. I don’t imagine sharing my deepest longings, plans, hopes and dreams are beneficial to either of us at this point. They know what anyone else can know. Then, if I want them to know more, something’s up, lol, and I analyze why I feel the need to. We are responsible not only to protect our hearts but also our brothers and sisters’.

What If You Think You Are Ready but Aren’t Married?

That, I don’t have an answer to. I don’t know if the person you are interested in is your partner. I don’t know if he/she who doesn’t like you back will eventually turn around and love you. I don’t know if someone will finally look in your direction. I don’t know if you will get married. Does it make you sad like it does to me? Does it even make you angry? Do you feel that God is savage for not giving you a ‘good’ thing? If so, admit it to Him, the last thing He desires are lips that praise but hearts that refrain. C. S. Lewis says we ought to lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us. What’s in you? Take a moment right here and just say it. He knows it, but mere knowledge of your heart isn’t enough, but He wants access. To do what? Comfort, perhaps even an answer. If your heart refuses to be comforted, Marshal Seagal shares:

“Discontentment and disappointment rise in the not-yet-married life when we start pursuing that love, joy, and significance in a person and not in God. We become miserable not because we’re not married, but because many of us think marriage might finally make us happy.

The problem is not that we are hungry, but that we’re hunting in the wrong pantry. The cravings deep inside us are a mercy from God meant to lead us to God. God is trying to give us unconditional love, indescribable joy, and unparalleled purpose, but many of us are just trying to get married.”

Not Yet Married- Marshall Seagal

The Promiser

I love reading, it settles me. I find my struggles or questions aren’t original which is a bummer if you look at it from another perspective. But, it helps me finds answers, answers not spoken in everyday conversation. I have been eyeing Abraham for some time now, I almost despised him, he made it bad for us with his ‘father of faith’ thing. Listen, nobody could have gotten me to sacrifice a pet much less a child and yet there he was being all obedient and full of faith. I felt inferior, like I could never measure up to that but I wanted to, I really did. I need faith to please God right? So, I started looking, Moses opened my eyes to Abraham’s struggles and failures, and I exhaled, so he is normal, I can get there too then. Another author outlined the real reason he had courage for that trip to the mountains:

 Abraham’s faith wasn’t in the promise alone. His faith was rooted in the Promiser. Because his faith was not in what God would do for him, but in God himself, Abraham was willing to risk. He could do whatever God asked. He wasn’t holding on to a particular outcome. He was holding on to God. Abraham’s waiting strengthened his faith. Taught him God’s ways. Showed him God’s faithfulness. Abraham knew that God would provide everything he needed.

– Vaneetha Rendall Risner, The Scars that have Shaped Me (Chapter: The Agony of Waiting) (Emphasis Mine)

We have promises of unspeakable joy, abundant life, rest, peace, quenched thirsts. Can we trust him to fulfill them whichever way He chooses? What are you holding onto? God or His gifts? It is idolatry if we desire His gifts more than Him.

I am not dismissing your emotions or desires as illegitimate. They are real and sometimes overwhelming, I would know. Feelings respect nobody. That’s why Margaret’s words comforted me;

My whole being cries out continually for something I may not have. My whole life must be lived in the context of this never–ceasing tension. My professional life, my social life, my personal life, my Christian life — all are subject to its constant and powerful pull. As a Christian I have no choice but to obey God, cost what it may. I must trust him to make it possible for me to honor him in my singleness.

That this is possible, a mighty cloud of witnesses will join me to attest. Multitudes of single Christians in every age and circumstance have proved God’s sufficiency in this matter. He has promised to meet our needs and he honors his word. If we seek fulfillment in him, we shall find it. It may not be easy, but whoever said that Christian life was easy? The badge of Christ’s discipleship was a cross.

Margaret Clarkson

Let’s not forget we are in the middle of our stories. Our inability to trust that God has everything under control is dangerous. The enemy may whisper that your singleness is punishment or that He isn’t for your joy or happiness. That’s what caught Eve’s attention in the first place, the serpent said, “God knows this is will drastically improve your life, satisfy those longings, even make you more like him and yet, he withholds it.” He has a way too of allowing you to feel alone in your battles, but whilst you long for a partner, others long for a child, a job, healing, deliverance, the Holy Ghost, money, an emotionally peaceful home etc. Don’t let him isolate you, we belong together, we struggle together, we experience victory together. When people experience a loss or have the same interest, they find a support group. Why should we not? Don’t just look for people who will understand only, but people who will call you out when you wander.

Perhaps we need to be reminded who our God is too. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son (John 3:16), While we were yet sinners Christ died for us ( Rom. 5:8), I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3), For my God shall supply your need according to his riches in glory (Phil. 4:19), I have called you by name, you are mine (Isaiah 43:1) He makes everything beautiful in his time (Eccl.3:11) and No good thing will he withhold (Ps. 84:11).

What to do now?

We do what we are born for. Worship. He made us for a purpose. What is God calling you to now? The beauty of singleness is undivided attention towards God. Don’t stay hung up on what’s missing, what should have been and start living. Or were you waiting on marriage to do that? Worrying about the future won’t change it, we are not asked but commanded not to. Do what will last, serve God wholeheartedly, make memories, be happy. Marriage isn’t a reward for faithfulness either, you serve because you love the God not what He can give. And if no ring reaches unto our left hands, I pray we realize we weren’t given the short stick; we will join Ann in saying:

Jesus, if this is Your will,
then YES to being single.
In my deepest heart, I want to marry,
to belong to a great man; to know that I am linked to his life . . .
and he to mine . . .
following Christ and our dreams together . . .
but You know what I need.
if I never marry, it is YES to You.

Ann Kiemel Anderson

Talk soon, remember, you are precious.

Additional Resources

E-Books
Articles

Singleness is not a problem to be solved

Singleness Was A Curse