I am a Prisoner

When we do not work together in love of God and our neighbours, this kind of division, oppression and injustice is allowed.
Love our enemies and allow no division, no ignorance and fear of the other.
Don’t be afraid to surrender control to God and allow and encourage FREEDOM in the hearts, minds and lives of all we meet.
Pray for our family members who suffer division, persecution, and unjust hardships that they may be comforted by the God of all comfort and be strengthened and emboldened to STAND.
Thank you Sonam for sharing this powerful poem and photographs.

Silent Songs of Sonsnow

I am a Prisoner
A Prisoner of someone
So strong and powerful,
They hold back my hand
When I raise my fist for freedom,
They twist my tongue
When I tweet for Truth and Justice,

I am a Prisoner
A Prisoner of someone
So Strong and powerful
They took me far off
When I choose to write for Rights,
They tied me and trialed
When I hold to Truth too tight,

I am a prisoner
A Prisoner of someone
So strong and powerful,
They looted my home
When I own the Truth and Justice,
They put me in Prison
When the world sold them Humanity.
By Sonsnow

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Building together

Every Friday, I join an online Christian writing community, Five Minute Friday. We are given a one-word prompt and write – unscripted, unedited, pure free-write – for 5 minutes. The prompt this week is Together

Our language is full of expressions and idioms promoting the benefits of working together:

  • Two heads are better than one
  • Many hands make light work.
  • Coming together is a beginning.
  • Keeping together is progress.
  • Working together is success.
  • Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success.
  • Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.

On the other hand, we also know expressions warning of division:

  • A house divided against itself will fall
  • Divide and conquer
  • No man is an island

The conclusion is that if we work together on common goals, we can together achieve great things, or at least can make great progress towards the goal, but if we are divided, then progress is severely restricted on both sides.

Of course living together in harmony, though it sounds idyllic in theory, it is extremely difficult.

It requires enormous love to live in harmony with other human beings.

Most of us struggle to love even a few human beings well.

We are most often judgmental, critical, lazy, greedy, irritable, resentful, impatient, controlling, self-willed, ungrateful and self-centred. We are unskilled in resolving disputes and disagreements… at least I am!

But there is hope, because God created us and He loves us. In Jesus He will recreate us and teach us to live in His divine love.

He will teach and equip us to be forgiving, patient, generous, encouraging, kind, persevering, preferring others. He will teach us to go the extra mile and to love as He loves.

Without the love of God in us, true harmonious love is all-but impossible.

We love because He first loved us.

When we love each other, even our enemies, with the love of Jesus, we can transform ourselves and our communities into havens of safety, growth, healing and transformation. We can usher in the Kingdom of Heaven. And others will be attracted to our loving communities and want to come alongside us, because:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:35

For this reason Jesus builds His church, and He calls us to help Him to build. As we invite others, by our acceptance and love, to be willing to grapple with each other to build our community of those who love Jesus and love each other.

He never meant for us to be alone in the world. He puts us in families. He puts us in His family. And He wants us to encourage, support and persevere in love in our family, so

let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10: 24-25

family and friends gathering for food and fun together

Can you think of any more idioms and common expressions promoting working together and warning of division and isolation.

Book Review: THE CAPTIVE’S CROWN by Olusola Sophia Anyanwu

Eliana has lost her identity through a series of broken relationships, dreams and heart-ache and has now perfected the status of a high-class prostitute.

But things are changing in and around Jerusalem! There’s a ‘new man in town’ and he is turning over the tables. This man is a miracle-worker – he is healing people of illnesses, making the lame walk and, even more miraculously, he is giving people new hearts full of love and hope.

Many of her friends in the trade are giving up their professions, helping each other and learning ‘respectable’ trades. Not just her friends, but many other out-casts, tax-collectors and undesirables as well.

She is desirable, of course, but only in secret places; she cannot hold her head up high in public. But Miriam would not wish to give up her life, except maybe to quench the longing in her heart for love, for family…

She is curious…

Should she meet this miracle-man who fed thousands with five loaves?

This man who loves the unlovable?

What would he make of her?

Sophia Anyanwu takes the reader into Eliana’s captive life as Miriam and cleverly introduces her past story, weaving past pain and future hope into this creative tale of human betrayal, struggle, redemption and transformation.

She invites the reader into the fragrance of Jesus’ presence, through those he has already touched, and with them the reader witnesses the life-giving restoration of all who encounter him.

I cried, yearned and empathised with Miriam; I hoped tentatively and courageously with Eliana; and I rejoiced with all the relationships that flourished under the touch of the Kingdom of Heaven.

More importantly I experienced a re-awakening of hope in my own relationships, sensing again the real, life-giving possibilities under the miraculous power of radical love and of forgiveness.

Thank you, Sophia.

The Captive’s Crown can be bought from Amazon, or via Olusola Sophia Anyanwu’s website, where you will see all her other amazing written work.

www.olusolasophiaanyanwuauthor.com

Second Chances

Every Friday, I join an online Christian writing community, Five Minute Friday. We are given a one-word prompt and write – unscripted, unedited, pure free-write – for 5 minutes.

The prompt this week is ‘Chance’

21:44

I work in a charity shop called Second Chance. People donate their clothing, books, music, film, toys, ornaments – anything that has outlived its usefulness to the owner, but could still be useful to another.

Some of these second-hand donated items are deemed ‘not good enough’ to sell from our shelves, so these, which still deserve to be more useful than landfill, are donated on for other companies to recycle and reuse in other ways. For example, some coats we donate on to a local homeless shelter and towels and blankets go to PDSA and similar uses. Others may be sold on as rags and metal is also recycled.

We all have different ideas about what is good enough to sell, what is worth buying – and of course, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Sometimes what is old is worth more than what is new. An item’s worth is not always of monetary equivalence either – many of us have objects that are of enormous sentimental value to a family or individual, that another would consider ‘old tat’.

But for many varied reasons, our shop is blessed with a great many bags of donations every week and it is our privilege to sell these items on, to bless new homes for a fraction of their original price, and to give the items themselves a second chance to be valuable. They may go on to have a third, fourth or more chances too.

For those who know the film ‘Toy Story’, I often feel that same panic and nostalgia that Woody feels for himself and the other toys, for these donated items moving on to be loved again, rather than rotting in an attic.

front of Second Chance Charity Shop
image from inside the shop from a year ago

How much more valuable are we? Jesus told us not to worry about what to eat, drink and wear etc, because our loving Father cares for us. He said we are more valuable than the sparrows. We are also more valuable than the clothes and furniture that we care so much about. We are more valuable than money itself. How much is a life worth?

God loves us so much that He gave us His Son – surely that is the most treasured and valuable possession that He had – He gave Him up so that whoever believes in Him, and His death and resurrection – so that that little me or you – could have eternal, abundant life.

What is more valuable than life?

Abundant, eternal life.

He gave the most valuable of His own to save the most valuable of your own.

By this He forgave you, not once, but, if you are anything like me, He forgives you again and again and again. I have had multiples of second chances!

How often do I give others even one second chance?

Do I ever give another?

May He teach me to hold lightly not only to the material things around me, but to not hold on to resentments and unforgiveness at all.

Let me be one who is willing to give as many second chances to others, as God is giving to me.

Stop

Three score and ten?

FMF Writing prompt: Twenty

Every Friday, I join an online Christian writing community, Five Minute Friday. We are given a one-word prompt and write – unscripted, unedited, pure free-write – for 5 minutes. The prompt this week is ‘TWENTY’

18:01

I am of the age when most of my life has been dated 19- something, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s.

Twenty-something feels very recent!

I remember the sense of occasion vividly on the approach of the new millennium and of it becoming 2000.

Some called it the noughties. I felt quite old!

The noughties passed in a lot of personal changes, challenges, blessings and – well, LIFE, I guess.

I don’t know how it was called when we hit 2010 and that decade – was it the teenies maybe?

For me, twenty- twelve was a bit of a breakdown, leading to twenty-fifteen as the start of a proper recovery.

2015 I determined would be the best year of my life! It was!

Maybe it was/is all part of a process towards recovery, because I am so blind, deaf and stubborn in my heart! I thank God for his loving patience!

Then we got to 2020 – that excited me, because the nerdy part of me loves number patterns.

I expect I was particularly tickled to get to 20/02/2020, and even to 02/02/2020.

I remember folk posting prophetically about 20-20 vision and an air of expectation, but with the benefit of hindsight the twenty-twenties seem to have been swallowed up in a covid-19 aftermath of fear, chaos, mistrust and hardships.

But there was growth and many blessings amidst this time. There was great courage, trust, generosity and sacrifice too.

There is always hope.

God was not surprised by any of this, as we were.

It being 2022 already makes me realise that we are here for such a short time.

Even a general life-span is counted in 20s – three score years and ten, I remember often hearing. Whether I live that long or longer, God only knows, for He has numbered my days and my times are in His hands.

I will trust Him every day, with every hour and every breath.

With my ‘one-day-at-a-time’, may I honour my Father God and honour and cherish all of life that He has created, especially yours (whoever you are) and mine.

Life is a beautiful gift, however old you are.

June Gratitude

June Gratitude

I already feel my spirit rise joyfully as I begin to look back on the prayers answered and blessings received during June.

June has ushered in a series of events that have challenged me greatly.

I thought of the word ‘challenge’ and smiled to see the word ‘change’, with just 3 extra letters in the middle.

The letters l-l-e.

Little Life Events.

(I resist change, though I know it is a gradual constant in all of life and is necessary – and to be welcomed and embraced – for growth.)

But from time to time there are these ‘little life events’ that interrupt our equilibrium and cause us cha-lle-nges.

I have been experiencing a few of these throughout June and they will continue to take some outworking over the Summer at least.

Truly a grateful heart counting blessings is medicine to an anxious mind.

So I think of all that Father God has done in my life already and how much he has blessed me with answered prayer and extra blessings throughout June.

I publicly want to give Him thanks and glory for:

A great ACW weekend of inspiration, support and fellowship.

Full recovery from my accident and picnic on the park to celebrate with the grand-kids.

For the ‘Bow Down’ event in the Nottingham Market Square and glory to You in this city.

For bringing S safely back to Switzerland and for organising the next season of her journey.

For the Queen and her 70 years service to this country and to You.

For Holy Spirit to guide, protect, empower, remind, renew, comfort, convict, refresh, warn, enliven, embolden, encourage… (fill in the rest yourself)

For a new phone on the day it was needed.

For friendships, re-connections, spontaneous fellowship and seeds sown.

For C’s new official role at church and for her energy, vision and heart.

For Your gift of kindness in others and in me, and the power of it.

For a superb, transformational second weekend at the EH course; for breaking the old lies over me, and for enabling me to minister to others.

For blessing me with S and for giving me patience with him.

For sustaining me through the weeks of trial and teaching me to trust only You and not to lean on my own understanding.

For teaching me, loving me, forgiving and healing me, patiently, one day at a time.

For teaching C the importance of budgeting.

For support and advice from generous Christian professionals and for A’s kindness, active listening, practical and holistic wisdom.

For a card from a friend which says that ‘mightier than the waves is His love.’ Amen.

Whenever I have felt overwhelmed and tempted to panic, I have remembered Peter’s words: Lord, to whom shall we go, You have the words of eternal life.’

I have searched my heart and counseled myself, saying, ‘Dawn, if you trust God with your health, your life, your eternal life, your children, your family and your loved ones, can you not trust God with this?’

Today I read a story (in the UCB Word for Today) of a man who sees a boy being beat up by thugs. The man goes in and rescues the boy, takes him to hospital, pays the money and cares for him and, learning that he is an orphan, he adopts him, gives him his own name and welcomes him into his home and family. One night he hears the boy sobbing and goes in to comfort him and ask the matter. The boy tells his new ‘Daddy’ that he is worried about where he will find food, drink and clothes tomorrow and where he will sleep. Understandably his Daddy rightfully troubled that, after all he has done for him, that the boy he loves as his own son still doubts him.

My Father God knows that I am anxious about many things at the moment and he told me this story to let me see how sill my worry is!

I can trust him 200%!!

Thank you that Your faithfulness is my shield, hope and dwelling place.

psalm 93:4

Do I trust Him? Can He trust me?

This week’s FMF writing prompt is: TRUST

16:12

Words that occur to me in response to that loaded, elephant in the room five-letter word:

Trust = falling, insanity, sacrifice, disappointment, let-me-down…

Trust is almost a dirty word and terrifying, to me, yet simultaneously one of the sweetest and most precious of dreams.

It is currently being held right up there in my face, questioning, showing me how little of it I have, testing me now it is actually needed.

Now I need to walk the talk!

I see that it is the only thing left, if I am to obey the voice of God.

But all of me rebels, kicks and screams and asks for an easier way, a way I can control myself, a path I can see the outcome of and one which looks safe and ordinary…

(Of course my own way, the broad road, is never at all better, or smooth, or safer, or anything else I deceive myself with in my denial and resistance.)

How does one surrender, submit, let-go and let God?

How does one learn to trust? Except by doing it?

My only response, to self, is that if I am to trust that God loves me, as He says; to trust that God has forgiven me my sins, that He hears my prayers, that Jesus has purchased for me eternal life with Him, then I am going to have to prove to myself that I will trust and obey Him with this seemingly crazy, but relatively trivial, step right now.

Stop

I was looking for an image of that trust game we used to do at school where one fell back, hopefully to be caught be the ‘friend’ behind you… So grateful to have a real trustworthy friend in Jesus. Can He trust me?

FMF: Aware – Self-aware?

Go:

To be aware seems to me to imply being conscious or mindful of something, as against a strong and secure knowledge of a fact. It feels like a tenuous ‘holding’ – in the mind of the heart – of a concept, sensation, or even a theory, or possible truth, or untruth.

Awareness for me is the first stage of wisdom.

Unless I first become aware of something, I cannot even begin to acknowledge, explore, or know it.

This is particularly true in terms of self-knowledge and healing.

In my own therapeutic journey, I have been most conscious of those moments when I first become aware of something – either a memory, an emotion, a reaction, a trigger, or a response. When it is in my awareness, I can then examine it, test it, question it and try it out from different angles, to see what possible truth I can learn from it.

If what I recognise is a repeated negative pattern in the present, I know I have found another key to healing.

Then I can acknowledge what is true in the present and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can find the root cause of it (usually buried somewhere in early childhood) and then confess and repent of judgments, lies and sinful responses (to early hurts and disappointments) that have resulted in strongholds in my life.

Oh to be aware!

Oh merciful and patient Father, who seeks our healing and freedom more than we do!

Thank you Holy Spirit, communicator of wisdom and truth.

Stop.

The ‘four colours of Dawn, trapped in a cage, unable to fly or to sing’ – this was a sensation I was aware of this morning, so put onto paper.

Are you aware of something you feel nudged to deal with?

FMF: Guess

Please forgive me for a not-so-edifying ramble.

When I first read Kate’s post for this week’s prompt, ‘Guess’, I fully identified with her reflection on asking the Lord for direction and not being able to see His answers. Her comparison with that discerning to feel a bit like guess-work. I thought that her blog was enough said on the matter, because personally I was right in that ‘no-man’s land’ of not seeing the direction at all, for certain issues.

And I am still there, still feeling like I am having to guess what God’s will for me is.

People say that I must listen for His still, small voice;

that I will find answers in the Scriptures;

that God’s perfect peace will be my guide;

that if I fast and pray…

And I have probably said the same thing!

But, if I am stuck now, do I conclude that I am doing it wrong? That my heart is wrong? That this sheep does not know her Shepherd’s voice? That sin has blocked me from hearing His voice?

Does God want me to ‘follow the mind of my heart’? Or to take advice from Christian people? Does He want me to be patient and spend more time seeking the answer?

I know that he who seeks finds.

Or has He told me clearly already and I don’t like the answer?

Does God’s answer take me where I have no intention of going, nor desire to go?

I do not trust my own heart, it is deceitful above all things.

And I have asked advice from spirit-filled friends and their opinions and advice has been varied and contradictory, though I now have even more options in what feels like a multiple choice exam! And I have never been good at multiple-choice. I have painful memories of French and German listening comprehension exams, where in each choice of four options I consistently guessed wrong. The odds of that were even remarkable!

Maybe I am impatient to know the answers, when it is not time for me to know.

Maybe I am trying so hard to listen, that I have become blind and deaf.

Does the Lord really want me to guess His will?

Does He trust me to guess?

Does He know that I already know His Will and know that in time I will say ‘yes’ to Him and do that ridiculous sounding thing!

I am sharing this only because some of you may relate to these feelings. It does not feel like an encouraging or edifying post, but it is an expression of the mess some of us might sometimes grapple with. This someone does, anyway.

I imagine in a few months, or days, or years (God only knows), I will look back on this and see God’s path and wisdom as clear as the moon on a cloudless night, as so often happens.

There is always such profound insight in hindsight.

Meanwhile we grapple.

Oh me of little faith!

FMF: writing prompt: Stir

This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one-word prompt. The prompt for today is “stir.”

Go.

stirring a Béchamel sauce

Thinking of ‘stir’, all I could think of was making my thick soups (sloups), custard and Béchamel sauce – stuff that if you stir it well, becomes smooth and creamy, but if you don’t, it becomes lumpy, stuck, burnt and in some way spoiled.

This showed me something, because it always seems such an effort, such a faff to stand stirring ALL the time. I am often tempted to just stir every now and then, when I think it necessary, or to wait until it is thoroughly hot before stirring, convinced that, because I want it to work out well, it will.

But, you know, it doesn’t!

I am lazy making soups and sauces and I am lazy in many other areas of my life.

Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

It takes effort to stir myself up and more so to stir up one another.

It takes sacrifice to encourage and to turn up and be willing to listen generously in order to build others up.

But if I don’t stir myself to love and good works, I become lumpy, burnt, stuck and less than my best.

If I am too lazy to make an effort to love other sinners like myself, the church becomes lumpy, sick and spoiled in some way.

If I focus on what I feel like doing, rather than on what love calls my renewed mind to do, then God’s will is not done through me today.

If I do not stir and build, eventually those around me, and myself, begin to starve.

Let us commit to focusing not on just being fed and stirred by others, but to be grown up, mature followers of Christ, who are willing to work together to prepare for the banquet of the Lord.

end