Of Love & Order part 1: What Happened To Love?


Courtesy of completewellbeing.com

“When it’s gone, you’ll know what a gift love was. You’ll suffer like this. So go back and fight to keep it.” Ian McEwan Enduring Love

“I used to think that I could never lose anyone if I photographed them enough. In fact, my pictures show me how much I’ve lost.” Nan Goldin

Starting from the beginning
Things in my life are moving in a way that only God can orchestrate. From not knowing my purpose and passion, to having TV/Film skills. From only possessing video production skills to having design traits too.. From enjoying an ordinary relationship with God to an extraordinary one. From being single to being in a relationship!
Of course when I put it like this it sounds like everything is going smoothly, all according to plan. That is far from the case. I have had to learn patience, deep trust in God, and persistence especially through and in prayer in the process. The fact that I am even writing this right now is a testament to His goodness! With gloves off, hands rubbed, we are ready to get into highly likely the most exciting journey yet.

What it is about
What is love? No I am not talking about Haddaway’s song! I am sincerely bringing to mind the reality of the most impactful force ever to hit humankind. There seems to be a widespread knowledge or more accurately information, on the subject with it affecting each of us in a completely different way. If you ask one person what they believe love to be, you will get a completely different answer to what the next person will say. The question that eats me every time is if two people (man and woman) were always meant to be, how is it that there are cases where break up happens after 4 or more years? It truly is baffling to me. As I brushed up on my dating knowledge through so many various means including books, TV (talk) shows/series, movies, internet articles, music, conversations/discussions, seminars/conferences and CD’s,  I began to see a pattern between the thriving relationships and the ones that appear to be doomed for failure before they even start. No I am not claiming to be some expert or anything, there is still much for me to learn in spite of all I have already learned, I am merely putting forward my observations in the hopes that someone will have a good or better understanding of love. The point is to let the reader combine their knowledge, insight, wisdom and understanding with what they glean from here.
In case you are wondering Why “Of Love And Order?” It is simply based on this profound principle: Worthwhile relationships take work. Before diving into what I believe that entails, we will observe what I am of the opinion is the world’s standard for love.

Types of relationships
The info about to be displayed is an excerpt taken from a book by the world-renowned dating coach Nick Savoy, founder and CEO of Love Systems. In his journey to find love (married now), he came to discover 6 different kinds of relationships:

  • Traditional: One boy, one girl, no one dates anyone else.
  • Traditional Plus: Like traditional, but sometimes you involve other people in your sex life (not your emotional life). Usually this is when both you and her enjoy threesomes with other women.
  • Open: Your primary emotional commitment is to each other, but you are both free to date other people. Open relationships vary in intensity: some are much like Traditional Plus relationships while others are far more casual.
  • Multiple: You have a strong commitment to each other, but nothing theoretically limits what you can do with others.
  • Dating/Undefined: The rules of what you’re doing and where you’re going are unclear, but there is no explicit commitment. Often early in your relationship and usually the case before you sleep together.
  • Friends with Benefits: No significant emotional commitment. Relationship is primarily sexual.

You would be surprised to note that there is in fact a TV series called Friends With Benefits! Jaw-dropping I know. One can be rest assured that most people’s view of love would have been influenced by one or more of the above. What this therefore implies is that the relationship gets shaky right from the get go because it is established on an unstable foundation.

Aiming for the target
What this series hopes to zero in on is “popularizing” the notion of fighting for your relationship, first of all by learning more about why such a pure and precious thing has been tarnished not only by the world but by and with Christians as well, and coming back to what matters most, the only One qualified to define and execute exactly what love is. We have found that much of the reason for relationships going bad is because there is not much preparation made before entering into it and there are few, if any, boundaries put in place as well. This served as the introduction to the series, which could  have the subheading What happened to love? if you will. Links to stories that are moving, depressing and eye-opening, as well as stories from my own life will be covered in subsequent posts. The most important thing to realize is that outside God, there is little to none satisfaction and fulfillment in this life. No need to take my word for it, just ask Solomon (Book of Ecclesiastes)! Even he, in the fulness of the wisdom pouring forth from the wisest man who ever lived had this to say:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.


Denying God Through Self-Glorification

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For a long time I have wondered what the passage in Proverbs 6 meant. Here it is:

Proverbs 6:17

These six things the Lord hates, yea, seven are an abomination to Him. A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Self-glorification first of all is a very serious matter. With me included, many Christians have been sucked and deceived into thinking that the ultimate desire or purpose on earth is to excel above everyone else in any given field. That is what the world conforms to. We are not to do that (Romans 12:2). This world’s ways are fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs. This is the case especially with regards to ethical and moral issues which heavily impact existential and philosophical lessons passed onto younger generations. Their understanding of life, the meaning of life, finding themselves and their purpose will be heavily thwarted.

In essence being better than everyone is the final goal of every human existence as far as the worldly standard is concerned. You are born to be great in a sophisticated and praised field in the world. This is what Christians have been taught to believe as well. It is not about being the best you can be and improving on that to the point where you’re maintaining excellence, but about being the best in general and overall. What is the point of the best? It is so that not only can prominent colleges seek you out, but companies and various highly respected individuals as well which results in putting you on a pedestal. Everyone praises you. Then what happens? Your parents, perhaps teachers and friends brag about you in front of their peers, whether that’s direct or indirect.

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A Possible Second Battle

In the Bible there is only one thing that serves as the number one contender against God: Mammon. It is wealth regarded as an evil influence or false object of worship and devotion. It is the only other thing that Jesus acknowledged as master in this world besides God. Hence why He said:

No one can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24

Now self-glorification is probably another master that the world gets mastered by. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be the best. One need not aim to excel above everyone else, but only to excel above one’s own capacity to succeed. If in the process that allows you to rise above everyone else, great, as long as it is not the motive. There are a number of problems that come with self-glorification:

  1. You do not seek to glorify God first.
  2. It can possibly create an identity crisis. You do not know who you are in Christ (and maybe not fully, if you do) and therefore seek validation of yourself from others.
  3. It creates narcissism. Self-obsession can be really bad.


This all started in the Garden of Eden. After God created everything and pronounced it good, that included Adam and Eve. Now the Perfect World in which they lived was one that ensured that everything they did was good because it was the only thing they knew. When Eve was deceived self-glorification was born because she was led to believe that not only was she deprived of high status (because she was to be like God) but now good was not the only thing she knew anymore. This time being good came at the struggle of not allowing evil to creep in. In another case, listen to what God told the Israelites:

Deut 8:12-14, 17

Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses and live in them,

13 And when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all you have is multiplied,

14 Then your [minds and] hearts be lifted up and you forget the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage,

 17 And beware lest you say in your [mind and] heart, My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.

Hezekiah, who wrote Proverbs 25-30, talked about the importance of having just enough which is the sufficient amount of all necessities. Nothing more and nothing less.

Proverbs 30:7-9

Two things have I asked of You [O Lord]; deny them not to me before I die:

Remove far from me falsehood and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me,

Lest I be full and deny You and say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor and steal, and so profane the name of my God.

One of the key things a commentary said about Agur is that he so wisely prayed for a middle state, that he might be kept at a distance from temptations.

Jesus rebuked a man who trusted his security in his riches and predicted a life of luxury (only) for himself:

Luke 12:19-21

And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many good things laid up, [enough] for many years. Take your ease; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself merrily.

20 But God said to him, You fool! This very night they [the messengers of God] will demand your soul of you; and all the things that you have prepared, whose will they be?

21 So it is with the one who continues to lay up and hoard possessions for himself and is not rich [in his relation] to God [this is how he fares].

I put a lot of thought into this. It reminds me of what Solomon said concerning the pointlessness of working so hard to build your empire, only to find that one with less wisdom than you would take over and not properly manage all that you have worked so hard to build (Ecc 2:18-21)

What about Cain?

God wanted Cain to be successful just as much as Abel. He did not ask if Cain was to be more successful than his brother, He only asked that if he did well then he was to be accepted:

Gen 4:6-7

And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why do you look sad and depressed and dejected?

7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.

I believe God would love for us to be good husbands/wives and parents to our children. Excelling above someone else is not really, at the end of the day, a goal worthy of pursuing. Rather being the best person you were created to be and can be (and if that in turn allows you to be much better than someone else-well done) so that His glory may manifest in all that you do, along with benefiting and improving other people’s lives.


Heaping Coals Of Fire

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I recently read this passage on how to make amends with your enemy and thought it was quite interesting. It actually has a lot to do with the counterintuitive aspects of life. I will talk more about that in a later post. I believe this scripture is so easy to misunderstand because of taking it literally as it is. Let’s check it out:

Proverbs 25:21-22
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;

For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord will reward you.

Paul referenced this passage when encouraging the Romans to live a life that exemplifies peace and godliness. Starting from verse 17 we read:

Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone.

18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord.

20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his headRomans 12:17-20

Breaking Down Verse 20
God wanted His saints’ minds to be so far from revengeful thinking that He lays down one prior condition: Vengeance is Mine. This means that at the actual moment we harbour the thought of paying back the enemy for what they have done, we are first of all to remember that revenge is not our place. Revenge implies that we think of ourselves as more important than our enemies, I would go as far as including those who hurt us but are not necessarily (regarded by us as) our enemies. This is because the principle applies in that situation as well. The reason I say that revenge suggests we think of ourselves as more valuable is because we believe in that moment that being right (meaning justified) is more significant than maintaining our relationship, but Paul said, “I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance].” Romans 12:3

Chapter 12 of Romans begins with Paul asking us to give our bodies to the Lord as a living (and holy) sacrifice, and then goes on to discourage us from patterning ourselves after the ways of the world; an attitude that begins in and with the mind. Therefore in order to preserve the holiness of our bodies we are not to entertain any thoughts that desecrate that holiness, particularly to the extent of multiplying the damage dealt to us. That is what revenge is all about. You slap me, and I will crush you with a bat.

This word of encouragement from Paul, as well as Hezekiah (he wrote chapters 25 through 30 of Proverbs), may be difficult to apply but bears enormous importance. It is almost as if everything that happens to us and “our enemy” hinges on that split-second choice on whether or not to deal eye-for-an-eye, which has huge ramifications.

Taking this word of exhortation literally, means as you do good to those who do bad to you, the idea in that case is to shame and embarrass your enemy. I know some people think that when God says, “Vengeance is Mine, ” He is to bring His wrath all the more fiercely on your enemy so as to justify you (especially if that is the whole purpose behind you acting kindly towards him in the first place). That could not be further from the truth! Here is one extremely substantial reason why:

Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them. Proverbs 24:17-18

That is a consequence you do not want befalling you. The idea behind doing good to your enemy, even in a literal sense, giving him food when he’s hungry and drink when he’s thirsty (including any other necessity), is so that he feels so ashamed for what he has done that it leads him to repentance, loves the person he once hated and is careful not to both repeat the wrong he has done, and also not do any further wrong in the future.
Think about this statement:

“When he remembers the food and drink thou hast given him, thou shall burn him, as if thou puttest coals upon his head to burn him, and “he will take care of doing thee any ill. This matter will be hard unto him, as if thou heapest coals on his head to burn him, because of the greatness of his shame”, on account of the good that he shall receive from thee, for the evil which he hath rendered to thee.”

How amazing would life be on earth if we understood that so far should the saints be from meditating revenge upon their enemies, that they should do good unto them, as Christ directs, (Matthew 5:44 ) , by feeding them when hungry, and giving drink unto them when thirsty.

NB: The results from such an act of faith can possibly take a long time flourish. Patience is vital before, throughout and after the action has been implemented. It is the consequential process, one that tests the heart to see if diligence in seeking to please God, is the order of the day. Hebrews 11:6

Time & Its Expressions

The Time Difference 

First there are 2 Greek words for time, Chronos and Kairos. Chronos is the sequential or chronological time. The clock that passes as the earth continues to spin on its axis. Then Kairos is more a time lapse, a moment of indeterminate time where everything happens. It’s like an opportune time, seasonal, in the sense that events occur in your life in different patterns and moments.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven.

 A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted,

A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up,

A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

 A time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away,

A time to rend and a time to sew, a time to keep silence and a time to speak,

A time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

All this is the kairos time because it speaks of moments in time. In other words a moment to be born and a moment to die. Those moments will transpire as chronos, the chronological time, takes place. As you begin to think about events you plan and attend, also think about how each small moment in your life affects you as it leads up to that event.  One more thing before I discuss some expressions.

Ecclesiastes 9:11

I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, neither is bread to the wise nor riches to men of intelligence and understanding nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.

Another version says, “By being at the right place at the right time.”

Expressions about time

Money expressions.
“Buy me some time” This one is often used in movies in situations where the enemy may need to be distracted so that the hero and his team can infiltrate the premises and achieve the main goal, or at least the means to the main goal. People use it today as if it’s a commodity or product. Can anyone sell time?

The thing I don’t get is, people some times or often waste time because they don’t take time to carefully think about and plan how they are going to spend their time. This means they don’t invest time in the small things so that they won’t have to worry about losing time through being unable to control their emotions, which puts them in a position where they may not be able to get that time back, especially when it matters most.

The other thing is people spend too much time doing trivial things that they think are important; are unable to make time  (or make up for it) for the really important things (friends and family); burn themselves out and end up having no time for the especially important things (meetings, talent shows, time out with friends and the intimate relationships and so on).

My favourite one, “I don’t have the time,” or “When I have the time.” Some of these expressions really are funny. It is not as if there is ever going to be a moment where time will not exist for anyone. The people who use those particularly phrases correctly say, “I don’t have time for that.” Of course some would go on to add, “Right now.” I must confess, I very often have the habit of saying that I don’t have time for that, this would usually be because I refuse to do something or prefer not to do it.

Now the show that popularised the phrase, “Ain’t nobody got time for that,” Sweet Brown, really got my friend saying that a lot. Anyone who has seen that will react that way the very second I mention that I don’t have time for that. That is the key point to mention, “Time for something.” It is completely different to simply stating that you don’t have time.

This next one is so true in the TV And Film industry, “Time is money.” When we say that we mean it in a very literal sense. The more time you waste the more money you waste, because it means whatever could not be done has to be either be redone, or the particular items, props, vehicles and so on used, need to be purchased again. Not to mention the production costs for rehiring the room, the length of the scene and so on.
People use it (the expression) nowadays either to make a point (such as a lecture against asking for money to argue for working for it) or to hurry someone up.

Uncomfortable terms
Here’s one, “I need to kill time.” Now that I think about it, it is actually quite funny if you look at it from literal perspective. Doing things that will help you pass the time should be useful for a time. Now there is one thing I do not really agree with that much:

Time heals all wounds
That simply is not true, at least, I do not think so. Some relationship break ups can be very hard, and it can definitely take some years to get over someone or recover from the break up. Those who have been verbally and sexually abused-whether as children or adults-have a really difficult time dealing with both the thought and reality of the experience. The only kind of wounds time can heal are physical ones.

Some awkward ones
I’m running short on time. Time to confess. How often have you said this?

Living on borrowed time. Meaning to live beyond your life expectancy. How many times have you heard this being said? How many people do you know can relate to this?
Anyone who has been in a situation where they survived when they otherwise would not have, had it not been for the miracle of God, can relate to this.

I’m pressed for time. I used to say this a lot. More often than not it was to make myself appear busy so that the task that someone wanted me to do, that I did not want to do, would be less important simply because I would not have time for it. There were more times where that was genuine than those that were not.

Let’s split the time. I said this a lot when it came to group activities where some individuals had more time to do a certain activity than others.

Find the time. Something quite a big majority of people have a hard time doing. All they have to do is look for it in their schedule or sacrifice time from something else. I know it is not easy, but it can be done. Interesting enough, though, you can’t find what you already have.

At the end of the day life is short:
James 4:14

 Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]

Psalm 103:15-16

As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
For the wind passes over it and it is gone, and its place shall know it no more

Though we may not be able to make up for lost time, we can make the most of the time that we have now.

For it is up to us to decide what to do with the time that is given to us, Gandalf the Grey: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

As every second passes we grow to realize that we will never get it back and I believe it starts with our words because it all comes from the heart. If we can guard our heart with all vigilance, above all that we guard, for out of it springs the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23), then I believe we have lived the life, that at the foundation and heart of every human’s existence, that is the life meant to be lived.
We grow in time, we learn in time, we flow with time and wait in time. When time is lost for one thing, we find it in another. Time is often traded for an experience. Which would you choose: A walk in the park with your beautiful/handsome friend or a free whole day pass in a theme park where you can have the time of your life?

Most things, if not everything, in time happen for a reason. Now that reason may not be easily understood at the current moment in time, however, there are some things that are meant to be known and revealed in due time. Therefore it is important to know the contrary effect of time. Where there is light, there are always shadows. Where there is victor, the defeated also exist. A desire for peace (in one area) can give rise to war (in another). Hatred (towards something) is born in order to protect love (for something else).  Time unveils these things as it goes by, and so all we can do is be prepared for them when they come. Of course our choices affect how these things come to be. All time does is give us the result of the choices we make. If we are disappointed with the outcome of what has taken place, we have to look back and locate the source of the choice made.

These are things that are in our control. The other things such as natural disasters, are beyond our control. All the crime in the world, the riots, the decisions politicians make at the expense of the citizens they lead, are all things that time allows us to understand when the right one comes. Our responsibility-in order to change that which we do not like-is to take the time to understand why the events have taken place the way they have up to a point where we can agree that there is nothing more that can be understood, then,  use our own personal time to the best of our abilities to improve ourselves so that we can lead a life that improves others. I am certain that the meaning of life lies in those two things.

Time is the best teacher

Time is the school in which we learn, time is the fire in which we burn.
Delmore Schwartz

Use your time wisely

This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Check your priorities

If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.
Lee Iacocca

Small things matter

You’re writing the story of your life one moment at a time.
Doc Childre and Howard Martin

Do only a few things

One cannot manage too many affairs: like pumpkins in the water, one pops up while you try to hold down the other.
Chinese Proverb

Focus on the present

It’s how we spend our time here and now, that really matters. If you are fed up with the way you have come to interact with time, change it.
Marcia Wieder

Lost time gone forever

One thing you can’t recycle is wasted time.
Author Unknown

The importance of time

Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.
M. Scott Peck

Don’t procrastinate

A wise person does at once, what a fool does at last. Both do the same thing; only at different times.
Baltasar Gracian

Don’t excuse, you are in control

In truth, people can generally make time for what they choose to do; it is not really the time but the will that is lacking.
Sir John Lubbock

The great dividing line between success and failure can be expressed in five words: “I did not have time.”
Franklin Field


6 Reasons Why The Mind Is Hard To Clean

Disclaimer: This post contains some images that are bit graphic but not the point of vileness. The content contains slightly more explicit material than I would normally put together. It is generally a PG13 kind of post. Now because of the world we live in, I state things just as it is. Some of it maybe offensive but that is to illustrate what the world thinks of and is doing to Christians. I do this in order to drive the point home effectively. Being euphemistic dilutes the impact that the content is supposed to give. How else can you be real in a world like this?

Various suggestions
Now I am not saying that these are the actual reasons, but rather some possibilities as to why it is that out of all things in this world to clean, the mind is the most difficult.

I remember in my film shoot last year (during Nov-Dec 2013) our main character, who was a female lead together with our male lead because she played the wife, often wore short dresses and skirts. It was set in the ’70s through to the early 2000s. The thing that I found interesting about that was the fact that I knew that our actress was not the kind of person who normally wore such clothes. In fact I would go on further to say that if she never could, she never would!

I mentioned my observation to our supporting character who played the daughter in the story. This was on a day when she was not on set. When I said, “I like how she is putting on mostly dresses and skirts because I know she would not normally have them on. She looks great in them,” she replies, “Because their short!”
I knew that she was thinking what she thought I was thinking, but it was far from it. If anything she is the one who put the unnecessary thought in my head. I responded by saying, “The mind is the hardest thing to clean.”

Some observations based on possible conclusions people may come up with

I have not actually done a survey but this what I believe people would think.
1) Some blame it on sinGen 6:5

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually

True that we are generally born into sinful nature and therefore because of our fallen state we would naturally be drawn towards fleshly thoughts and desires. However, even without the forgiveness of sin, moral and ethical living can still be taught to an individual, most of which will be principles from the Bible except those pertaining to self-development and improvement. Through that, one can, as much as possible, control unclean thoughts and develop the habit of right thinking.

2) Some blame it on the corrupt world1 John 2:16

For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]

Now I do agree that most things, if not everything the world offers is instantaneously gratifying and self-fulfilling. Furthermore it is about taking control of one’s own destiny the idea that the most important thing above all is to do whatever you like. It is sad that most wars arise as a result of this unquenchable thirst and desire for more accompanied by a territorial mindset. In other words, “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.”
To remedy this one’s mind must be filled with life lessons on being interdependent and good morals (lessons about good behaviour) and ethics (the good behaviour being practiced).

3) Some blame it on themselvesJeremiah 17:9-10

The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]?

I the Lord search the mind, I try the heart, even to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings

This one is very closely linked to the first one. It is arguable that your background and “mentors” so-to-speak have a huge effect on your worldview and life in general. One may justify your actions by saying that you don’t know any better. However that does not make it excusable, you still have to face the consequences of your choice. Now there is one thing even in situations like that, I believe serve as saving aid for the individual: The Conscience. Deep down inside, because everyone gets taught good principles of earthly living at some point early on in their life, though they may be deceived by some people, feeling bad about certain actions taken at first is a starting point for a turn-around and acceptance for proper living. One needs not blame their status, background, sphere of influence (people around you that impact you and you impact), or anything else for the choices they make.

4) Some blame it on others- Matther 7:3-5 

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye

Yes some would love the comfort of knowing that the choice they made was highly influenced by someone else and therefore the responsibility rests on someone else’s shoulders instead of their own. The teacher, the friends, girl/boyfriends, wives/husbands, boss, coworker, siblings and worst of all the parents. I have noticed especially from a lot of movies (meet the parents, meet the fockers, little fockers, definitely-maybe, cheaper by the dozen among others) and songs and/or music videos (Cleaning out my Closet-Eminem, Words are weapons D-12, If You Seek Amy-Britney Spears) that if not directly then indirectly or subliminally cause youth mostly to eventually rebel against their parents. Perhaps peer-pressure, wanting to fit in, dangerous board games or innocent card games with twisted rules that may have a truth or dare feel to it, heavily influence young minds. The emotive feel of music and movies is not be underestimated. I stress parents because of the greatest commandment relating to humankind:

Regard (treat with honor, due obedience, and courtesy) your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land the Lord your God gives you. Exodus 20:12

5) Some blame it on circumstances- Not just the ones relating to background or the past but even the current ones and the future. How do you think pessimists become that way? Life does not treat everyone fairly and neither does everyone have the privilege of being taught how to overcome tough situations with a clear mind, focusing on the main goal and not the immediate obstacle. Being shaped by negative content and material plays a huge role in an individual’s life, as does being shaped by people.

6) Some blame it on work, politics and schools- those three make up the core aspects of any nation: business, government and education. It’s always the system’s fault! The truth is we cannot do anything about the things that happen to us, but we do have a say and choice on how it affects us. Now that is the key. Working with or for companies that do not have just dealings or being ruled by unfair politicians and national leaders, or being mistreated, cheated, or deceived by either the school or friends or anyone in any a learning environment, is in an unfortunate situation. Are such experiences (meant) to change your worldview? Are they to affect how you see and do life? Do they impact who you are and who you want to be?
These are things worth thinking about.

Let’s look at Mark 7:21-23

For from within, [that is] out of the hearts of men, come base and wicked thoughts, sexual immorality, stealing, murder, adultery,

 Coveting (a greedy desire to have more wealth), dangerous and destructive wickedness, deceit; unrestrained (indecent) conduct; an evil eye (envy), slander (evil speaking, malicious misrepresentation, abusiveness), pride the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man), foolishness (folly, lack of sense, recklessness, thoughtlessness).

All these evil [purposes and desires] come from within, and they make the man unclean and render him unhallowed.

The solution to it all
Now that we know or at least have any idea where the unclean mind comes from, the most important thing to do would be to:

Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23

When we do this it becomes easier when we are told:

Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect Romans 12:2

Something interesting to think about
I have observed that self-control is the most important thing that humankind has to deal with. The greatest thing given to all mankind was the freedom of choice. Second to that is the easiest and hardest way to live life: self-control.
I am convinced that if humankind has self-control in these three areas of life then they cannot be tempted at all.

1) Self-control with words. Proverbs 18:21
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life]

James 3:2
For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things. And if anyone does not offend in speech [never says the wrong things], he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature.

2) Self-control with food.
Proverbs 23:21
For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty, and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags

1 Corinthians 6:13
 Food [is intended] for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will finally end [the functions of] both and bring them to nothing. The body is not intended for sexual immorality, but [is intended] for the Lord, and the Lord [is intended] for the body [to save, sanctify, and raise it again].

3) Self-control with sex. Now because the Bible deals specifically with one aspect of sex, we should look deeper into that and learn more about what it truly entails: Sexual Immorality.

What is sexual immorality?
The definition of immoral is deliberately
violating accepted principles of right and wrong.

The sexually immoral includes:  prostitution,
pornography, having sex outside of marriage,
homosexuality, and adultery.

It seems as though sexual immorality comes in different ways. We will take a look at each of these:

Adultery: voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not their spouse.

You shall not commit adultery. Exodus 20:14

If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. Leviticus 20:10

Fornication: sexual intercourse between people not married to each other.
Pop culture: freedom to have sexual intercourse with anyone not married regardless of number, gender and age in order to gain and maintain a high social status.

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Hebrews 13:4

According to the cited biblical verse, those who commit adultery defile through this their future marriage and the marriage bed, that is their sexual relation. No one will be able to rejoice of a defiled sexual relation, but it will transform his/her future wife or husband in an unguilty victim.

Masturbation: stimulate one’s genitals with one’s hand for sexual pleasure.
2) stimulate the genitals of (someone) to give them sexual pleasure.
Mutual masturbation: is a sexual act where two or more people stimulate themselves or one another sexually, usually with the hands.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 1 Peter 2:11

Prostitution: the practice or occupation of engaging in sexual activity with someone for payment.

None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute. You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog into the house of the Lord your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 23:17-18

Pornography: printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement.

There are two kinds of pornography:

Softcore pornography: generally contains nudity or partial nudity in sexually suggestive situations, but not explicit sexual activity, sexual penetration or “extreme” fetishism (sexual arousal a person receives from a physical object, or from a specific situation).

Hardcore pornography: Hardcore pornography contains graphic sexual activity and visible penetration.

I would like to think it counts as well when visible penetration is obvious even when the genitals are not in the frame.

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body 1 Corinthians 6:18

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality. Galatians 5:19

Sexual Perversions

This practice is an aberrant (departing from an accepted standard) sexual practice.

This world becomes more and more evil and it becomes harder to believe that things will get any better. The world makes the things of great disgust seem normal and even calls it, “untraditional sexual orientation,” but God calls it, “an abomination,” and “defiled.”

None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness; I am the LORD. Leviticus 18:6  

In continuation, the text defines clearly who are considered blood relatives, with which the marriage is banned. These are the parents, the step parents, the sister, the brother, the nephew, the niece, the aunt, the sister of the brother, the aunt from the uncle, the daughter-in-law, etc. All these sexual relations are incest. After that, the list continues with other things that are defined as perversions:

You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. Leveticus 18:22–24

The sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine. 1 Timothy 1:10

Immorality of the mind

What does immorality of the mind mean? Lord Jesus defines it in this way:

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  Matthew 5:28

Self-control in these three areas, even in a corrupt world like this one, will help humankind get closer to freedom from mind abuse. I leave you with this:

For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained.” William Blake


14 Things I learned At My Film Shoot

The Experience
I learned a huge deal about the shoot. I was on a shoot called, “Born to Win.” You should check out the Facebook page. It was so thrilling.  Here are a number of things I picked up during the entire journey.

Proverbs 18:15
The mind of the prudent is ever getting knowledge, and the ear of the wise is ever seeking (inquiring for and craving) knowledge.

Proverbs 13:18
Poverty and shame come to him who refuses instruction and correction, but he who heeds reproof is honored

1) Know that you don’t know. Nobody likes know-it-alls. I enjoyed the character of one of our Art Department crew members. He was well versed in the industry, extremely hands-on, swift, creative and a quick-thinker. He never boasted about his experiences but was always willing to learn and help whenever and wherever possible.

2) Be willing to do more. Everyone loves hard workers, they can always do with an extra hand.

3) Have a tough and thick skin. There is almost always pressure to get something done in time. More often than not you will be screamed at more than once, it will be for nothing more than getting the job done as soon as possible, not because of a personal vendetta.

4) Step up and take the blame. Especially when it is not your fault. There is far too little time to search for culprits. Taking responsibility on the spot and immediately strategize preventive and precautionary measures increases your value in the team.

5) Solve disputes in secret. The industry is rough. The pressure to be recognized and come out on top is high, but there is nothing worse than discrediting someone because that devalues them, and in everyone else’s eyes, impedes their ability to perform. Bringing someone down so you can rise is dishonouring and comes back to haunt you big time. Resolve it amongst yourselves and move on.

6) Make a plan. When something is needed and you don’t have it, do something. Ask around. There is always someone with something you need or knows how to deal with what you need, whether that’s making it or somehow creating it.

7) Always have fun. You owe it yourself to enjoy the day. The moment. The laughter. The tears. There is too much work for you to feel stressed and dwell on that. Think positive and say nice things both to and about people.

8) Learn from as many people as you can. Write down what they say.

9) Keep your prayer, worship and word life maintained. I do not say that lightly. It is hard but necessary. Often times at the end of the day, all I wanted to do was get as much sleep as possible to be rested well enough for call time the next day. I sacrificed some of it to stay prayed up.

10) Complement as many people as you can. While you are at it congratulate their efforts no matter how small. Everyone’s role makes a big difference.

11) Plan and prepare well. For every single day. Know what is happening as often as you can if not all times.

12) Love what you do. Not everyone will have the glamorous jobs but what good will it do you if you have a negative attitude about your tasks. Love it to the best of your best of your abilities.

13) Work for the Lord. That was my thought pattern throughout.  Colossians 3:22-24

Servants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not only when their eyes are on you as pleasers of men, but in simplicity of purpose [with all your heart] because of your reverence for the Lord and as a sincere expression of your devotion to Him.

Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men,

Knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [real] reward. [The One Whom] you are actually serving [is] the Lord Christ (the Messiah).

14) Honour your superiors. That goes a long way. I often asked my Production Designer if she required coffee or tea at any moment. She often responded with, “Well done,” and “10 points.” Honouring those in authority whether they treat you bad or not, opens doors for you.

Galatians 6:9
And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.

2014: The Year of Declaration & Revelation

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you. Philippians 1:6

Perfection and Completion
There is so much more to the year than just it being revelation and declaration. The number 14 is very significant. Chances are I may be saying that about all numbers as each year passes, however, that is especially true for this year. 14 represents a double anointing.

14 is two sets of 7 and since 7 is the number of perfection and completion, 14 will thus represent a double perfection and double completion! We will need to do our best to literally work twice as hard at our jobs, family building and sustenance, networking, friendships, intimate relationships and definitely financial discipline  this year for a double reward!

The key thing is to also maintain and increase our prayer, word and worship life. Quiet times will need to be more than half an hour. If you follow the daily bread devotionals and any other similar kinds, try getting commentaries on the passages that are talked about that day and see how they line up with the lesson for the day. Alternatively you can include sometime in prayer followed by some time in worship. This year is about going much deeper with God. Isaiah 33:6

And there shall be stability in your times, an abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the reverent fear and worship of the Lord is your treasure and His

Matthew 1:1-17 is very interesting to look at. It talks about the generations that were born in Jesus’ bloodline. The key thing to take note of is verse 17:

 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen, from David to the Babylonian exile (deportation) fourteen generations, from the Babylonian exile to the Christ fourteen generations. 

There were 3 sets of 14 generations from Abraham to Jesus! That meant that the One Who was to come and save all mankind had to be a seed of complete perfection at its very best! You can’t beat that quality.

Double Deliverance and Salvation

The number 14 also represents deliverance and salvation. One book in the Bible to study quite a lot this year is Proverbs. The one thing that appears 14 times in that book is, “The fear of the Lord.” It comes out in these chapters:
1:7, 29, 2:5, 8:13, 9:10, 10:27, 14:26, 27, 15:16, 33, 16:6, 19:23, 22:4, 23:17.

The number 14 is used 22 times in the Bible and the word “14th” or “fourteenth” is used 24 times. In a previous post I went deep into the connection with numbers 12 and 12. That’s not there by chance.

The fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover, when God delivered the firstborn of Israel from death. Some 430 years earlier, on the night of the 14th day of the first month, God made two covenant promises to Abraham — one of the physical seed, Isaac, and his descendants, and one of the spiritual seed, Jesus Christ, and the sons of God who would come through Him, who would shine like the stars of heaven (Matthew 13:43). On the day portion of the 14th, God confirmed the promises with a special covenant sacrifice.

“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’ But Abram said, ‘Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ . . .

“And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.’ Then He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’

“Then He said to him, ‘I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.’ And he said, ‘Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it?’ So He said to him, ‘Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. . . . ‘ ” (Genesis 15:1-2, 4-5, 7-9, NKJV)

On the 14th day of the first month in 30 A.D. Jesus Christ, God manifested in the flesh, was offered up and sacrificed as the Passover Lamb, died and rose again, and thus completing and doing away with animal sacrifices.

Now because of that, if a lot of lives were lost, businesses shut down, jobs hard to get, employees being cheated of promotions, bonuses, wages and salaries; if any have been bedridden even to this point of the year; if there have been near-breakthroughs where delay has taken place, especially in relationships, there will be double deliverance this year. The source of all that is usually demonic attack commonly-but not limited to-dreams. Often times problems that occur in the natural result from attacks in dreams, not only nightmares. Even dreams that are very unusual can be in fact a serious attack by means of witchcraft. However like I mentioned earlier there will be deliverance from all that along with some awesome stuff about dreams this year. I will dive deeper into that soon.

There will be a multiplication of salvation this year, which is just magnificent. Plenty upon plenty will give their lives to Christ. Lots and lost of prayers for salvation of family-immediate and extended- and friends should be made and those who have been praying up until now should keep doing so but with a jubilant spirit and heart knowing that beyond shadow of doubt, their prayers will be answered.

Courtesy of doblelol.com

Dealing with Insecurity

One of the biggest challenges this year from enemy camp is anger management. Self-control in this area will be of enormous importance. It is the source of insecurity. Anger leads to resentment, which leads to bitterness, which leads to insecurity. The problem with fear is that it can make itself prevalent in any one of those stages. Insecurity is fed by:

a) Gossip. The spiritual term for this is satanic broadcasting station. Celebrating someone else’s shortcomings, backstabbing, double-crossing and talking behind someone’s back negatively makes you a candidate for gossip, which implies insecurity on your part because the purpose would be to bring someone down to your level.

b) Comparison. I hate this with a passion. “Why can’t you be like…?” “You should act more like…?” Or it can be self-inflicting as well, “I wish I was like.” The difference with this is that it focuses the attention on the individual’s inability to do either a specific thing or a number of things. It may not necessarily have to do with talent in a certain area but also skills needed for a job or simply popularity. Its roots are in the need to be recognized. It is perfectly alright to create or visualize a future for oneself based on the achievements of someone else as a motivation, but it must in no way reflect on one’s ability to do something great.

c) Jealousy. It is not about being different. It is about being unique. We are all so special in our own way that there is no ways on earth anyone else can be like us. True some people skilled with imitating personalities, voice tones and other things, but the way you make someone else feel, how you express yourself in art, writing, music, business, whatever it may be, is something no one can ever imitate.  Looking for and drawing out the uniqueness in you as you embrace everything you are and have is a priceless thing.

d) Fear. I stated before that fear can be in all these stages. Insecurity feeds on it. That is a very serious thing. All one has to do is to put on Christ (Romans 13:14; Gal 3:27) and realize that their lives are hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3). Affirming themselves and declaring life into every area of their lives is what will maintain faith and confidence in who they are in Christ.

The only thing that can have control over you in your life, is the thing that is out of control.

Revelation and Declaration
The fear of the Lord is the one thing to live in everyday. It is the beginning of wisdom and wisdom is the place of revelation. Staying in His presence (Psalm 100:4; 34:1; 16:11) is what will help gain and maintain the fear of the Lord so as to walk in wisdom. This year a few things that will bring revelation:

a) Spirit of fathering. Malachi 4:6 

And he shall turn and reconcile the hearts of the [estranged] fathers to the [ungodly] children, and the hearts of the [rebellious] children to [the piety of] their fathers [a reconciliation produced by repentance of the ungodly], lest I come and smite the land with a curse and a ban of utter destruction.

Ephesians 6:4
Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord.

Exodus 20:12
Regard (treat with honor, due obedience, and courtesy) your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land the Lord your God gives you

That means that both the children and the parents have to play their part in order  to bring harmony in the family. Fathers and single mothers are to take great care in nurturing and loving their children regardless of age. Continual affirmation of life, prosperity, insight, knowledge, understanding and wisdom and prayers for the fulfilment of these, will be the principal act throughout this year and the rest.

b) Divine order– leaders in any and every sphere, both small and great will need to seek out, declare and reveal what God wants for them. Whether in business, family, church, medical field, volunteering, government, education, sport, media, no matter what, revelation will come through and with the wisdom from above.

c) Respect– genuine honour for the one in authority, whether they were put there by chance or unjust means and methods, they are still to be honoured. Romans 13:7

Render to all men their dues. [Pay] taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, and honor to whom honor is due

d) Increase of gifts in the Holy Spirit– these 9 gifts will bring revelation in our lives especially when we declare them to ourselves, family, coworkers and bosses, friends and possibly unlikely strangers and acquaintances: Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness,

Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].

Rewards for walking with the Lord this and what to expect

It will be a year of great revival a year of many questions and answers
A year of  deliverance great afflictions and bondages (a year of freedom )
A year of uncommon salvation from sin many people surprisingly would give their lives to Jesus
A year of new born babies, many barren would smile with testimony of fruitfulness. Its a year of wonders and.mysteries..
A year of very intensive angelic traffic and visitations.
A year for prophetic dreamers. There are 14 major dreamers in the bible so pay close attention to your dreams and many will be saved through angelic encounters in dreams.
A year where God will raise women with prophetic voices for nations.
Its a year of awesome restorations.
A year of both positive and negative things depending on which side of God you stand.
For the righteous, the mad opposition against you shall become powerless
A year of deliverance from violent storms both spiritual financial and physical realm
A year of uncommon healing
A year of total freedom from sorrow for those who cry unto God.
A year when caging powers shall lose their detention powers.

Alright so those are the good things that are happening. Now for all the bad stuff. God will come against the enemy as well, it’s just a matter of knowing how.

Negative sides of this year
A year of conflict of altars there are 14 altar builders in the bible..
A year of escalation of many conflicts
A year of scary wars
Its a year of Monumental failure for those who trust in occutlic fetish or magical powers.
A year when strong prayers would be needed to destroy many strange powers at the entry points of Nations
A year when strong prayers would be needed to keep a lot of companies from going bankrupt
A year when prayer would be needed against earthquakes and famine
A year when so many people would be positioned for great achievements
A year of marine madness (from marine spirits which are mermaid type spirits) that is greater than last year
A year where kidnappers and occultic and magical merchants shall fail.
This year shall be a very tough year for many political leaders who don’t stand strong with God
A year when traders shall be chased out of the temple of God.
A year where all first borns must have a rugged determination to be spiritually serious in order to avoid being wasted.
A year in which strange hands will compete for many national flags and sabotage them

Brief elaboration on some points
a) A word to employers

Now concerning the point I highlighted in bold it is a very serious thing. People will need to stop trusting in riches and boast in the name of the Lord their God (Psalm 20:7). It does not mean that bad things will happen to the rich but it is about not trusting in them. Use your knowledge, understanding and wisdom to acquire great riches but in and through that, seek the Lord with all your heart. The major aspect of the financial side of things goes to the business owners and employers. Anyone in charge of people who work for them in any field are also included. The key role they play is in being honest and faithful with paying the wages and salaries on time. If that cannot be done then a discussion for possible solution should absolutely take place.

Employees love employers who are faithful in everything and so companies can and will prosper as long as that is all set.

b) A word about altars

If you count all the altars that were built in the Bible by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Pharoah, Moses, David and others that do not come to mind right now, you will see that it totals 14. What will happen this year is that the enemy will cause confusion with the use of altars. This may be done through false teachings and practices. Worship altars and altars for sacrificial giving (symbolic through money) may be dishonoured. Ignorance and silence in these matters and any other ones will give the devil free reign to do harm to the Body of Christ.

c) A word to all believers
This year will amazingly awesome and catastrophically devastating for you depending on which side you choose. Are you for God or not? No matter what you see, hear and read on the news, as long as you are faithful in keeping God’s commands, laws, statutes and precepts, you will experience double favor, grace, protection and all the other good stuff. Be very aware of His presence everywhere you are, at every moment.

Anything you do not understand especially the bad stuff I mentioned, research more on it then pray a lot about it, especially if you believe it refers to your nation and its leader, or if you know who it might be referring to as well. God always has good intentions for yo, even in moments when He seems distant or silent. Remember what He told Cain:

Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 3:6-7

Enjoy a fabulous new year everyone!