Wise Counsel

Written by Naome Seifu 

“Listen to counsel and receive instruction so that you may be wise later in life. Many plans are in a person’s heart, but the Lord’s decree will prevail.”
Proverbs 19:20-21
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About 2 years ago I realized I was in a place of stagnancy and needed to be discipled and mentored. I never realized how this journey would become the most challenging, painful and emotion-packed roller coasters I would have ever experienced. In my pursuit of seeking wise counsel, I was exposed to my sin, I was confronted with my weakness’ insecurities and brokenness.

As an adult I have always understood that taking charge of your mental health and spiritual growth is something that should be sharpened and prioritized in everyone’s lives. But I never took the time to prioritize that part of my life until I was preparing for marriage.

Every turn I took, it was defeat and strenuous heartbreak. But I knew I could not give up. The journey itself in finding someone for me to walk with in the faith was overwhelming and challenging. Every moment of every second I would ask why this was happening to me. Why was I getting overlooked? Why was I left in pain? Why could I not find someone who saw the value I knew I have? All those questions have ONE common denominator – the word “I”.

It wasn’t until now, 2 years later that i was able to discover how treacherous sin is in my life. 

The focus of “I” and not “Him” was what made this journey that much more difficult. I slowly learned that I should have let God take reign, surrendering myself to Him and letting Him bring me the person I need to grow.

I bring this experience to light now, in all transparency (as difficult and hard as it is) because there is a greater story to this. and that is, God is faithful. 

I bring this experience to light now, in all transparency (as difficult and hard as it is) because there is a greater story to this. And that is, God is faithful. A verse that has recently been heavy on my heart is this:

“The Lord is the one who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid of discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

In the profound book “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life in Christ”, author Peter Scazzero breaks down the importance of understanding and processing our emotions.

“Ignoring our emotions is turning our back on reality. Listening to our emotions ushers us into reality. And reality is where we meet God…Emotions are the language of the soul. They are the cry that gives the heart a voice.”

It was this that brought me to a place of clarity in understanding that wise counsel, discipleship, and therapy were all very important resources needed in my life. I’m grateful for the understanding of what marriage counseling opened my eyes to – mentorship. And I’m grateful for what mentorship is teaching me.

It wasn’t until I let God do the work in fully leading me to wise counsel that my life changed forever. I found a person I wasn’t dependent on – but someone who is teaching me how to depend on Jesus. I found someone who decided they would take the responsibility to walk with me and be my person in my growth. It was through prayer and God’s shepherding that brought me to someone who has given me a sense of hope and faith in myself that I can attain the goals and life that I want in the spiritual realm.

My next goal now is in developing a deeper level of wise counsel by seeking therapy. 

In the journey of seeking wise counsel, I connected with my pastor in Atlanta to lead my fiancé and me in marriage counseling. It was then, through the first session, that I realized how necessary wise counsel is in my life – it was that moment that I became aware of the accountability I needed for myself in taking charge of my emotions, spirituality and mental health.

Some important factors my fiancé and I needed in a marriage counselor was someone who was married for 20+ years with children, is in ministry, and would be someone we look up to and who’s life reflects one we admire and strive towards. Through the counseling we received thus far, we have learned about wisdom in ways we never understood.

Every day I am thankful for the moments I get to be transparent with our leader that is walking with us as we enter into one of the most important covenants we make before the Lord. 

In Timothy Keller’s, “The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God” he breaks down the substance of the gospel by saying, “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” Being introduced to that perspective of the gospel convicted me. Our sin is carried through us, but we are still loved in unimaginable ways – an unceasing type of love despite our transgressions.

So, in my testimony of the impact wise counsel has covered my life with, I have hope that the person reading this will find someone who fits them best. Who will guide them and fulfill them in ways unimaginable.

But you will find the best counsel not through your own strength or might, but through your obedience to God’s choice for you. 

Your decisions are a reflection of your relationship with Christ. Nurture that one first. He will take care of the rest.

The Guard of our Hearts

Written by Samuel Zelleke

The Guard of Our Hearts 

“Man is spirit, soul, and body.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

One thing we know about the body is that if we neglect feeding it, we will experience repercussions such as hunger-pains, weakness, fatigue etc. What some may not have noticed is that when the human spirit is neglected there are also repercussions.

The neglect of the human spirit is often manifest in the soul as anxiety, depression, irritability, and such-like.

In Philippians 4:6-7 it reads:
“Do not fret or have anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer…continue to make your requests known to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding shall guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Has there ever been a time when you felt down, or had anxiety but you had no event or unfortunate circumstance to link it to?

Many times, this can be linked to the human spirit being neglected from genuine fellowship with God. When awareness of God’s presence diminishes, negative emotional states no longer require external stimuli to be triggered. In the above scripture we see a person with fretfulness and anxiety, then they are told to pray and make their requests known to God; that’s fellowship. And the bi product of fellowship is seen in verse seven. We see the peace of God guarding our hearts and minds.

What does a guard do?

They protect doors from people outside that would try to come in. So, when we feed our spirits by fellowshipping with God, and depression, anxiety etc. attempt to barge into the door of our hearts and minds the peace of God dismantles them, and the waters within remain undisturbed. Today, no matter what you are experiencing, whether it is anxiety that is linked to external circumstances or not the peace of God that literally transcends all understanding has come to guard your heart and mind.

Continue to have quality fellowship with your father. 

The scripture say in Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you.”

Contentment

WRITTEN BY Victoria 

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6 

My story is this: I am a simple woman plagued with dreams, which have felt and now I know are out of my control. I’ve learned dreams can cause you to wander if not daily brought under control. Now, control does not mean death; control simply means discipline. Discipline paves a straight path for our lives. I imagine, had I followed every dream and lived my life on a whim, I’d be in some major irreversible mess right now.  As I approach my 30th year (many more months to go but ya girl is ready for a new decade!) I believe I have the hindsight to see better than ever.

Contentment is the by-product of devotion to God. 

The contentment mentioned above is not a pacifier of dream, ambition or desire. Instead, contentment produces the soundness of mind necessary to bring order, to the often untamed and chaotic parts of our lives.

Here is how another translation reads the Biblical text, “Devotion to God is, in fact, a way for people to be very rich, only if it makes them satisfied with what they have.”

You want to inventory your life in Christ? Check your contentment level. 

Our achievements, possessions and accolades do not constitute everything worth living for. It is a crooked system that would encourage devotion to God only to get what you want. True life in Christ must be accompanied with contentment. Devotion to God (godliness) leads to contentment (satisfaction & peace) which is to our gain and ultimately our success.

I have come to a point in my life where I’ve resolved to not allow past experiences, present happenings or future hopes to hinder my contentment. 

If we shift our focus away from the source of all good things, we deny ourselves the true blessing of God.

Wherever these words land, I’m praying for you reader. To know true life in Christ (godliness) manifesting contentment (satisfaction and peace) that surpasses the broken systems of our world, empowers our work and blazes a trail for our future hope.

Grace & peace,

Victoria   

The Discovery of Self Discovery

Written bY Simon Demisiew

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
– Romans 12:2

In a time where people are cyclically going through an existential crisis, we find ourselves scouring the WORLD for meaning. 

The reason why we’re on this Earth and what purpose our existence serves. I’ve met so many brilliant people filled with knowledge and assets, yet there usually seems to be a void in their lives. They face deep conviction in the existence of something bigger than them that they can neither explain nor prove. They somehow feel this, and it influences their daily decisions. It’s so easy for us to scavenge the world looking for our identity and purpose to define who we are and why we’re here. I’ve come to the understanding that by searching for my identity within this world, I am willingly empowering people to pervert, manipulate, and redefine who I am.

“I never knew that the way people described you would become a prison until they did it…” – T.D. Jakes 

I’m also learning the importance of authenticity. Continually conforming to what society saw me as prevented me from ALL that God had wanted to do in my life. By allowing these various titles to imprison us, we consequently limit the impact the Holy Spirit has on our lives.
As a mental health advocate and full-time student of life, I am often exposed to various situations in which my faith has been stirred and my understanding of the world and perception of “reality” continue to be contorted. Another reoccurring lesson that God seems to reveal to me regularly is the importance of discipline. Understanding that without discipline, we merely become a blade of grass wavering in whichever way the wind decides to push us. This is a lesson I believe should be used as one of the pillars in achieving a spiritually fulfilling life.

“A man who is not a slave to his desires is a DISCIPLINED man. A disciplined man is a dangerous man.” 

Without discipline and consistency, it becomes easy for us to be navigated by our emotions which are unstable, unreliable and at most times, selfish. I’ve noticed that the moment that I detach from my routine and discipline slowly begins to erode, I allow certain distractions to leak back into my life. This is dangerous and one of the leading culprits of lukewarm Christianity. The things you’re doing right now, your daily habits and routines, might not have any tangible benefits at the moment, but they help shape the various monuments of life. Not only is it beneficial for the desired life, but discipline is also imperative to your overall well-being.

“Love yourself, so that love won’t be a stranger when it comes.”
– Jennifer Lewis

I can’t stress enough the importance of taking the time to know and love yourself. We live in a time of self-hate and the need for instant gratification more than ever before. We can’t seem to love who we are because we’re constantly comparing to those we see in media and we want everything NOW, even love. Unfortunately, love is built, not “found.” What we fail to realize is that we can never genuinely love anyone else until we take the time to love ourselves truly. I found the true meaning of love through Christ’s grace. He continues to love us and stay faithful, regardless of our fluctuating loyalty and disobedience. His expression of unconditional love towards us is a template of how we should love ourselves and each other. Understanding that our past mistakes don’t define who we are and that we are all imperfect beings.

“Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes. Always perseveres. Love never fails.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Lifestyle of Obedience

Written by Christina Girma Hanfere

One of the greatest (and most re-occurring) lessons I have learned in my journey with the Lord is the value of obedience.

When I first rededicated my life to the Lord and began walking with Him closely, I found myself struggling with the new reality of learning to say ‘yes’ to Him.  

What exactly did obedience to God look like? Why was it always so emphasized and so NECESSARY? 

It wasn’t too long before I began realizing the value and reward in saying ‘yes’ to God. Many times we make the mistake of assuming that obedience to God is limited to the ten commandments. We treat God’s Word as a check list that we have to complete; and if we do well, than God shouldn’t expect anymore from us. We somehow manage to find ways around His standard of obedience so that it doesn’t inconvenience our preference, plans, or choice of lifestyle.

OBedience to God is not a biblical checklist to complete.  

It’s a lifestyle that comes from complete surrender and submission to His Lordship over your life.  Yes, the Scripture gives us clear instructions on how to live a life that brings glory and delight to God. However, saying ‘yes’ to God goes beyond just abiding by those instructions. It’s about developing such a deep intimacy with God that His desires become your desire. What He cries out for, you begin to cry out for. What He sees, you begin to see. What He feels you begin to feel. It’s intimacy that brings you to a complete oneness with Him.

In John 14:15 jesus says, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” he makes it quite Simple. The basis of an obedient life is intimacy. 

Because we often fail to build a strongly anchored, vibrant, secret life with God, it becomes challenging to live our lives from a place of absolute obedience. It becomes challenging to fully yield our lives to Him. Our intimacy with Him is the fuel, and if that is always running low, then we are constantly running a higher risk of failing repeatedly.  

However, when our times of prayer increases; when our conversations with Him increases; when our times of submerging ourselves in the Word of God increases, then we become further empowered and enabled to live a life of obedience. 

Some years back I attended a conference in Michigan and was completely awakened to a new reality by something the speaker said:

“99.9% obedience is still 100% disobedience to god.”  

Those words were a major wake up call. It doesn’t matter how much we do “right”. Is our obedience to God fueled by our time of deep intimacy with Him? Is He truly the Lord of our lives in every aspect? Does He reign in our relationships, career, time, finances, education, etc.? Does He take center stage in our lives? If so, then obedience is no longer a burdensome task that we meet only 99% of our time. Rather, a lifestyle that we maintain at all times.

In learning the value of obedience I discovered something else that was extremely important. Saying ‘yes’ to God will be the doorway to the best blessings of your life.

There is absolutely nothing you lose, and everything you gain in living a life of obedience before Him. 

In fact, your obedience to God is the only key to seeing His purpose over your life reaching fulfillment.

I personally have come to realize that some of the greatest blessings of my life were as a result of me saying ‘yes’ to Him even when it was difficult.

Sometimes that ‘yes’ required letting go of certain habits. Other times it required letting go of certain people, and certain lifestyle choices. It’s easy to obey God when it fits in our plans. It’s easy to obey God when it doesn’t require us to step out of our comfort zone. It’s easy to obey God when it doesn’t cost us anything, or when it doesn’t require us to give up anything. But it’s also the most rewarding to say ‘yes’ to Him in those circumstances.  The ministry I have today; the doors God has opened up in different areas of my life; my wonderful husband that God has blessed me with, and so much more could all be traced back to vivid moments of when I said ‘yes’ to Him.

Pursue Him. Seek His face. 

The more you do, the more of Himself He begins to reveal. In Jeremiah 29:13 He gives you that promise by saying, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” And when He does reveal Himself to you, the deeper and deeper you fall in love with Him. That is the secret to an obedient life. That is what changes obedience from a task, to a lifestyle.

Make sure to follow Christina Girma Hanfere’s platform, Inspired By Him, where she discusses lifestyle, relationships and encouragement. 

Living Life & Living Well

Written by Naome Seifu

“Love yourself, be aware of what is stimulating your senses, and above all allow God to fully enter your life. We can’t expect to be successful if we are constantly closing the door on God to satisfy these desires. If we can be disciplined in every aspect of our lives, then and only then will we achieve the desired success we all long for.” 

What a word. A friend of mine, Simon Demisiew, is on his journey of self discovery. He reveals the importance of discipline and how obedience leads to in the Kingdom.

The Bible says in Matthew 16:26
“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world
but lost your own soul?” 

What worth does the world have for us if gaining the unknown leads to losing your soul?

I’m learning that the gifts that God gives are the most valuable ones you can ever grasp. Some of these gifts can never be tangible. It’s the act of faith in believing that He provides and knows what belongs to us and is meant for us.

Ask yourself, what are the things distracting you from fulfilling the promise of God. God has a great plan for everyone. It’s all about the Kingdom. When you run the race – you’re not running alone.

Speak the word of God over your circumstances – day and night. You honor God when you live your life the way He has destined for you. Remain focused on Him and stay true to His honor.

The greatest rule is the rule of love. If you love one another, others will then know you are one of his disciples.

So let’s exude love, obedience, honor and faith this new year. I too aim to be a better woman, disciple and child of God. In the midst of this life He has so wonderfully given me, I will always remember take honor in living life and living well.

Make sure to follow Simon Demisiew’s amazing journey of self-discovery on his site called When I Woke Up.