Behind the Mask

IMG-20200613-WA0020Photo: Getty Images

 

Honestly, there is a part of me which likes being behind the masks we have to wear these days – unfortunately due to COVID-19. I honestly feel incognito.

In fact, one day, I had on my mask, shades and a wig (the latter because my natural hair is a mess!). I rarely use the shades, but the mask helps to shield my identity – to some extent. Between that wig with bangs over my forehead AND a mask, I go about often without revealing who I am.

Yesterday, I thought of how spiritually, many people are hiding behind masks. Their true identities are not known. A person can be in the choir, an usher, a deacon, pastor, the praying old lady who sits in the same spot every week, a stalwart member of the church or a babe in Christ who sits in the back pew – it does not matter. God has called us to be honest people. We shouldn’t be “holy-art-thou” when we walk into the church building with the loudest praise and the scripture-laced prayers, but cheating on our spouses, lying to a Customs Officer when it’s time to declare what we are bringing into the country or calling in sick when we are not.

IMG-20200613-WA0021Photo: World Vision

 

“For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. ” ~ Ecclesiastes 12:14.

God is not impressed with the outward appearance. We can only hide or fake our ways through for so long. He looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). We are expected to be the same person outside the church service or prayer meeting as we are when we go to those walls. After all, the church is not the building – it’s the people. Our lives are sermons everyday.

“…walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” ~ Ephesians 4:1

Growing in Christ,                                   

Hadassah

Give God What’s Right – Not Left!

I remember when I was studying online for my Master’s degree with Kent State University. It was two years of financial sacrifice, but also sacrifice of my time. I worked all day, then went home to conduct research, write papers, do homework and respond to classmates. Weekends, nights, early mornings, holidays, were not mine. So perhaps you would understand why I felt compelled to tour the campus, participate in graduation activities for international students, meet my favourite professor and walk across that stage!

But what I really wish to get across is the fact that I had to make major adjustments early into that Master’s program. I found that I would go home, eat and then head straight to a book or my computer. I then noticed I would finish LATE at night or sometimes not really be finished, but just decided because I was soooooo mentally and physically drained, I needed to shut down the computer or close the book.

I also noticed that when it was time to pray, it was quick, just to acknowledge God at the end of the day and I wasn’t spending as much time in His Word. Note, I was doing something positive – studying for a degree. This would result in advancement in life, but while studying for higher attainment of something natural, my spiritual life was being sapped.

As a Christian, you know when you’re not spending quality time with God. You feel it. Just think about how many of us can spend over an hour at dinner with a friend or loved one, chatting about the latest happenings in our lives. It’s like nothing to watch a movie that is over an hour. And we have no problem spending hours – literally hours – at theme parks. After all, we have to get our money’s worth – right?! I sure do!

But what about spending time with God?

What woke me up besides the emptiness I was feeling, was also passing a church sign that said, ‘Don’t give God what’s left. Give Him what’s right!’ That immediately resonated with me and even to this day, though I’ve previously and since passed many church signs, that is the one which stands out to me. It is the one I remember and have shared with others.

I have found that it is easy to be busy doing good! There is nothing wrong with volunteering for charity, mentoring youth, studying towards a degree etc., but that quiet, personal time in prayer, study of God’s Word and meditation – more importantly application of that Word – are extremely important for spiritual sustenance and growth.

The Word of God is bread. It is water. Just as the body needs food and water to survive, so our spiritual bodies need food and water for sustenance.

I encourage you to be intentional about your time with God. We give the world and family LOTS of our time. What about God, who gives us life, health and strength to do the things we do?

As Paul admonishes in 1 Timothy 4:13, “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.’ The Word of God is God’s blueprint for living a godly life right here on earth.

Growing in Christ,

Hadassah

What are You Eating?

I have put on a few pounds in the past year – more than I wish the scale would record. I confess that it all has to do with what I have been eating and the fact that I’ve been living a sedentary lifestyle. I can’t recall the last time I went for a walk in the form of exercise.

In the past year, I’ve gotten into eating bread and rice again. I’ve also been eating way more snacks than I should, whether chips, chocolate, cupcakes etc. The reality is, I’m sweet mouth – BAD (like my mom)! I also LOVE a good baked bread. I recently went to a function where only two of us were at a table of 10 and I GLADLY ate lots of the bread in the basket. I was secretly happy the table wasn’t full. I didn’t have to share that good-tasting, fresh bread.

I honestly ate quite a number of these!

Essentially, I’ve been putting junk in my body. Lots!

That’s from a natural standpoint. I often look at natural things and make spiritual connections and the question is, ‘What am I eating spiritually?’ What is taking up most of my time? What am I filling up on? What about you? Is it WhatsApp? Facebook? Is it Meghan and Harry? Is it The Today Show? Is it CNN? National Geographic, sports or Greenleaf (I watched it one Sunday at a gathering and HATE the way the church is represented)?

In and of themselves, some of these things might seem innocent, but are you consumed with anything? Be real. Do you reach for the remote control quicker than the Bible? And even if you are turning to a Christian station, are you watching the pastors on TBN, 3ABN, The Word Network or on YouTube more than you are picking up the word itself? Don’t get me wrong – we learn from others, but even those should never take precedence over our own personal connection with God through His Word and prayer.

Today, I focus on the Word and remind you of what Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:13, “Give attendance to reading…” and in 2 Timothy 2:15, where we are admonished to “Study to show ourselves approved…rightly dividing the Word of truth.” Further, the only way we can be, “…doers of the word, and not hearers only…” is if we actually feed ourselves the Word and obey it.  

So have you thought recently about what sinfully delicious, caramelized, mountain of sugary goodness you’ve been filling up on? Are they empty calories or healthy for your spiritual life – helping you to sustain that relationship with the Father?

For me, it’s definitely been social media, inclusive of WhatsApp. And although I do not post foolishness or trivial things, I have sometimes allowed social media to be a distraction and eaten a gluttonous plate of it. Social media has its positives, but sometimes we spend too much time on it. It could very well become a distraction from getting into the Word itself. We must be careful of the wiles of the enemy; he is crafty. Today, I am reminded of a prayer session I had with one of my brothers on the 23rd May, 2018. It stood out to me to the point that I typed it in the Notes section of my phone afterwards: “May she not get distracted with the cares of this life and focus on Jesus.”

My questions to you: What are you eating? What are you filling up on?

Growing in Christ,

Hadassah