The first time God used the word Be was in the creation story. “Let there BE light and there was light”. Be is an instructive word that calls into immediate or instant existence something that wasn’t. Be is a current state of existence. Be is real and solid. Be is now, not in future. All that God called to Be forever exists. The world may rotate and darkness may exist in places but the sun is forever shining. God calls us to BE.
In Psalms 31:24, we are again told to Be…”Be of good courage”. Does this mean there is bad courage? Courage is boldness. Courage is strength of conviction. Courage moves forward even when darkness and uncertainty or threats abound. Courage is fundamental to faith. There can be no faith without courage. Without faith it is impossible to please God; courage is required to please God…to move forward despire darkness.
But what is bad courage? Perhaps, courage… (continue reading)
Perhaps the first thing to think about is: what is a lamp and when do we need one?
A lamp in those days is probably synonymous to what we call a lantern or torchlight today. They’re used amidst darkness to give a little light. Better said, the light from a lamp is sufficient enough to help us take the next step but never enough to completely clear out the darkness. In the dark, you must rely on the lamp to know the right step to take i.e. any step you take without it would likely be the wrong one.
Another analogy to use in thinking about this is the lights of a car. They illumine the path ahead of us but only enough for us to have the confidence to keep driving but never bright enough to illumine the entire way up to our destination.
So, the word of God being a lamp suggests a principle in how God works or guides His children. He may tell us His plans for us many years out but how we get there we only figure out one step at a time, like the peeling of a boiled egg. Get the gist?
Now, three Bible stories that explain this… (continue reading)
Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve been praying to God for something, it looks as if it’s all coming together but then you end up with nothing? Sometimes it takes the form of there being a lot of activity which looks as if God is finally moving but in the end you still end up disappointed?
Ezekiel’s vision in the valley of dry bones has some lessons for us on this.
Here we come with a recipe of soft and perfect eggless banana cake.
The ingredients are:
4 ripe bananas
1 cup water
2 tbsp chia
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown or demerara sugar
1 tbsp grounded cinnamon
1 tbsp baking powder[video width="480" height="608" mp4="https://secureservercdn.net/126.96.36.199/63f.628.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/WhatsApp-Video-2020-05-08-at-12.16.50.mp4"][/video]
God wants to “give us a future and a hope (i.e. an expected end – KJV)”. Trying to make sense of this I noticed that NKJV/NLT equate KJV’s “expected end” with “a future and a hope”. But why, what could these mean?
There is surely an end i.e. a future that God has planned for us, but God gives it to us through hope. The future and hope come hand in hand, like the fist to a glove. It is an end that we actively expect, a future that we hope towards. God gives this hope to us. He puts visions of the future He desires for us into our heart and wants us to hope, long and work towards it. This is corroborated in Phillipians 2:13, which tells us that when we walk with God, the desires of our heart and our resulting actions are of Him. Faith’s definition in itself is substantiated in hope (Heb 11:1).
Basically, hoping is a real life and heart activity that God desires of His children. It shows… (continue reading)
If you have access to the internet, you have probably come across various lists about how to stay both physically and mentally well during this time of global crisis. I will share lists of my own in this piece, but more than that, I want to share some psychological ideas about compassion, and more specifically, the compassionate mind approach to trauma.
But first, let’s do 2 things:
First let’s acknowledge, as Dr Bessel van der Kolk did, that we are collectively surviving a crisis that is characterised by a number of preconditions for trauma. These preconditions include lack of predictability, immobility, powerlessness, loss of connection, numbing or spacing out, loss of sense of time, loss of safety and loss of sense of purpose.
And what is trauma?. Deborah Lee describes it as “the emotional shock we feel following an extremely stressful event”. Traumatic events “threaten our survival, well-being, sense of self and our sense of future”. They cause overwhelming emotions of intense fear, hopelessness and horror.
Could we consider Covid-19 a traumatic event. Potentially. Many of those preconditions apply and many of us may be experiencing very difficult emotions as a result. In highlighting this, my purpose isn’t to catastrophise what we may experience. Instead, I’d like to hopefully offer a point reference and a way of speaking openly about the things we are or might experience – because the conditions are ripe. If we have the words to speak about a thing, we’ll then be able to have the kinds of conversations that allow compassion and useful change.
The second thing we need to do is go over the B.A.C.E.S of promoting mental health. By ensuring our well-being, we’ll increase our capacity to face this crisis with greater resilience.
[video width="1080" height="1080" mp4="https://secureservercdn.net/188.8.131.52/63f.628.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/BACES.mp4"][/video]
So what is compassion? Compassion is about being open to our suffering (and that of others) and committing to that suffering’s alleviation.
Compassion-focused therapy (CFT) says that we have parts of our brains that are primed for survival. Sometimes those parts of our brains conflict with the other parts that are designed to reason, plan and imagine. For example, some parts of our brain can stimulate incredible fear, even while other parts tell us our fears are irrational. Being human, with human emotions, can be overwhelming, confusing and even frustrating. But a common idea in CFT is that, “it’s ok” and “it’s not all our fault”. However, it is something that we can better manage. We can begin by understanding how our different emotional regulation systems work.
The theory goes that we have a drive-focused system, threat-focused system and a soothing system. According to Lee, each “orchestrates a mentality by triggering specific types of emotions that focus our attention and cause us to act in a corresponding a manner”. Put another way, “driving” emotions like excitement can make us focused on reward or resources. Threat-based emotions of anxiety or anger can make us focused on danger and survival, while emotions of contentment and connectedness can make us focused on affiliation and kindness.
It is so easy to get trapped in the threat-focused mindset where we are in survival mode. Right now it’s completely understandable. However, you may already know that our “survival mode solutions” can often make our problems worse. Being trapped in the threat-focused system can make the soothing system’s ability to balance and regulate our emotions very difficult.
However! Self-compassion is a way to activate the sometimes elusive powers of the soothing system. Deborah Lee describes it as an antidote to a threat-focused mindset. “The kinder we are (to ourselves and to others), the easier it is to tone down threats and to bring us back to a sense of well-being”.
is a list of ways to engage your compassionate mind and activate your soothing system.
Look for opportunities to relieve suffering, and to support well-being (yours and others)
Focus on helpful and supportive memories with a positive focus
Be mindful, be present and be patient with yourself.
Think of kind and encouraging images, rather than frightening and self-critical ones. Imagine a “safe place” or a “compassionate image”
Do what works and fits with your values. Deal with what frightens you or seems difficult. Take one step at a time. Nurture yourself in practical ways and do what calms you down
Accept negative emotions as messengers and “ride the wave” of those emotions. They will ebb. Instead focus on doing things that make you feel warm, connected and supported.
Remember to just breathe
One of my favourite ways of engaging my compassionate mind is to imagine Jesus as my “compassionate image/perfect nurturer”. This is a figure that is committed to me, wants to help me and takes joy in my happiness. They are not overwhelmed by distress but can abide with me. They are wise and understand me intimately. Jesus does all of these. Vividly imagining a perfect nurturer like Jesus creates a sense of safety and activates my soothing system. I like to imagine Jesus sitting right next to me and knowing exactly what I would need to hear. In this particular moment, I imagine him saying:
I have loved you […]with an everlasting love. With unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself. I will rebuild you […]. You will again be happy and dance merrily with tambourines. (Jer. 31: 3-4 NLT)
Try it for yourself and be encouraged.
D. N. Buhle
Have you ever sometimes felt like asking God for just a little so that you don’t get disappointed? Ever felt like you shouldn’t be asking God for much so you’re not seen as greedy? This is unfortunately the case with many Christians. It’s usually easy to say “believe God for the impossible” but because we can’t see God physically and can’t bear the thought of dealing with seeming uncertainty, we often remain at our level and keep asking for just enough to get by.
This “poverty mentality” with God…(continue reading)
One of the questions we often ask as we go through life is what should I be doing right now? For example we could be believing God for something and we have such tremendous faith that we see the vision so clearly. The question then becomes what should we be doing in the interim? Pray, fast and watch?
Looking at a series of examples in the Bible, what is clear is that God often comes to people when they’re in an active state. In other words, they’re not simply lying idle and… (continue reading)