Understanding Shame

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My brothers and sisters,

A new post after a long time! To be frank, I had to take a lot of time out, to refocus and ask myself some very hard questions. It has been an uncomfortable season, but it gave me time to reflect, and seek new knowledge on areas for personal growth and to share for others to learn.

Shame Defined

Shame can be defined in more than one way. Here is a list of the common definitions found on the English Oxford Dictionaries website.

A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour;

A loss of respect or esteem; dishonour;

A person, action or situation that brings a loss of respect or honour;

A regrettable or unfortunate situation or action.

The Garden

The scene is set. Adam and Eve had just eaten the fruit from the knowledge of Good and Evil. They had broken a single directive from God. They sinned against Him and themselves, the consequences we are all experiencing today.

The New Living Translation conveys the sudden shift of perspective, and the painful realisation of their actions.

Gen 3: 7 –  At that moment, their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

This is a direct contrast to the atmosphere before the fall.

Gen 2: 25: Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.

One can only imagine such an environment where one can be fully naked, literally and figurately and not have any reason to feel shame in any capacity. It is my prayer that  that as you walk and work in preparation for building a healthy relationship or marriage should you desire it, you take this important principle home:

Sin causes shame, which leads to cover-ups and the death of intimacy. 

It is human nature when facing the reality of shame, there is a rupture of something innocent or held sacred. When such happens, the first point of action, as shown by Adam and Eve is to cover it up.

It is a strong emotion, very uncomfortable and difficult to deal with when a wrong has been committed against God and your fellow man. The consequences are dire, and the intimacy established is long lost, never to be built again, or without its own difficulty.  There is an adage that trust takes time to build, but seconds to destroy.

David had caused some shame to himself, with Uriah’s wife and tried to cover his tracks. The book of Proverbs is riddled with statements and one-liners, sharing the truth of seeking wisdom and insight, making no compromises for the consequences of folly and foolishness.

We have all experienced shame in one way, shape or form. Some we can easily put at the back of our minds, and some plague us every day. But why do emotions like shame occur?

Upsetting God’s Natural Order.
Simply put, there is no excuse. Romans 1: 20 highlights that God’s invisible qualities, eternal power and divine nature have been so clearly seen and being understood. The brother who testified that after meeting Christ, he takes full responsibility and lives a lifestyle of repentance. Testimonies of others who obtained a favourable result in the midst of impossibility. We can see the Hand of God everywhere, and we acknowledge it. To go against it will bring shame to us, and we will have to take responsibility for it.

To Humble Us.
Paul in 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 (NIV) makes references to the thorn in his flesh to keep him from becoming conceited. What is alarming is that this thorn had come from a messenger of Satan to torment him. Now Paul mentions that he plead to God to remove the thorn, but God provides empowering grace (My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness), which motivates Paul to boast in his weaknesses.

This is two-fold. If the thorn had been taken out, there will be no need to operate through humility. Pride will get the better of us, and cause our own destruction. I believe that this thorn had been given to Paul, to ground him and to help him realise that God is the one who is in control and His glory is His glory alone.

The other side is that it shows that Paul is also human, prone to mistakes, imperfect and also unworthy of God. But look how God used him, not only to declare the gospel as an Apostle but to share his testimony on how he persecuted the early church and now is part of the movement of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It takes a huge level of courage to admit your wrongs.

This can also be seen as evidence of transformation, a renewed mind, for it doesn’t make sense for a person to emphatically state one thing, only for them to switch sides and declare the message that he was once campaigning against. The natural conclusion is that Paul has actually gone mad or that there was merit to what was preached and taught. His testimony about his encounter with Jesus is further evidence of the reality of God which had moved him to repentance and to accept the ministry of sharing His word to the Gentiles.

We don’t know what his thorn is, and I don’t think we will never know. But you know your own thorn, as well as I. This keeps us from being lofty, but to be humble before God and to allow His glory to be shared through us.

To Highlight Our Need for A Saviour
Mankind is inherently flawed. We always want our own way, caring little about the consequences. I’m sure you’ve heard of stories from others about how love was lost, abused, taken for granted, rejected or was favoured over someone else.
We judge on a micro level, whether it is one’s intellect, social standing, money in the bank, dress sense, mannerisms and the like. We associate with like-minded individuals and treat others differently, simply because they are different.

We treat others anyhow, but when the same treatment happens to us, it is always a different story. It’s called human nature/ sin nature. We laugh at others, but we don’t want to be laughed at. We want to be liked by others and will ignore those that appreciate us for those who do, only when it benefits and suits them.

We cannot change the past, and God hasn’t changed anyone’s past but has given his Son and His Word to be able to become free from it. Jesus took the ultimate shame, despising it in the process, and as a result, is now seated at the right hand of the Father (2 Hebrews 12: 2) for us, by taking our sin and offering eternal life to those who place their faith in Him.

No one can be exempt from past shame, and no one can be exempt from future shame. The reality is that we live in a fallen world, and trouble will come. The prince of the power of the air, though defeated, is still on the warpath. There is a greater need to hold onto the faith and to patiently prepare for His return.

Let us not judge one another. The same judgement we pronounce on others will be the same standard used to judge ourselves. We were all lost, once upon a time and we are now found in Him.

For those who are dealing with some level of shame and have to live in fear of open ridicule, please meditate on this scripture.

Psalm 25: 2 (NIV) – I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.

Isaiah 50: 7 (NIV) – Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.

Let us remember that one has made it yet. We need God as we continue to grow in character, wisdom, maturity, knowledge and love. Set aside the sins that can cause disgrace and live in obedience to His word. He saved us from the dark. Let us not turn back but let us choose to walk in the light. Amen.

Tunde T. Amao

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The #IAAM Commission – Raising Godly Men

To my brothers and sisters in Christ,

The past four years had forced me to reflect on my life. I was even surprised when the Lord instructed me to do this. At first, I took it on board with gladness, yet during the prep stages, I found myself looking deeper and deeper within myself, and pulled up some bad memories, experiences and the painful lessons learnt. Nevertheless, I’m doing this in faith and trusting in the Lord that this will touch the hearts of the men, young and old, who are going through challenges, difficulties and to find freedom, love and acceptance in Christ and their growth to become Godly men. Also, this serves a platform to challenge, rebuke and remind men not to forget God in their walk.

Love Jesus. Fear God.

For simplicity, I will note the issues down, for I know that for the younger men who may be going through this and the older men who have overcome and entered into new challenges and struggles.

Confidence

Dating

Emotional Management

Leadership

Manhood

Mental Health

Ministry

Money

Self Image

Self Worth

Lads: You are a crucial component in the establishment of God’s kingdom. God created Adam to be in His presence, to work, to be the recipient of His word, to teach, to cultivate and protect the Garden of Eden. This will then help with building, managing and cultivating real relationships with the right foundation. And it all starts with making a conscious decision to change, and that only comes from the desire to please God.

There will be battles to fight on the path to manhood, public and hidden. But you are not alone. You see, the path to masculinity is not one to take alone but together as brethren.

Psalm 133: 1-3: Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

Your past does not dictate your future. You are not your failures. Separate yourself and step into the calling that God has set aside for you. You may not know your specific purpose on this earth, maybe you do, but one of them is that you are destined to become a man.

And it all starts with submitting your lives to Jesus Christ and turning away from your former lives to live to honour and serve Him.

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Despite what we see in modern culture, I truly believe that the men can be found, once they know of their identity in Christ.

It’s time to raise the men.

For more info please find the socials below or send your enquiries to iaamcommission@gmail.com

Twitter: @IAAMCommission

Instagram: @TheIAAMCommission

Understanding Anxiety : Fear God, Not Man

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My brothers and sisters,

Fear is also one of those things that if left unchecked, will cause one to lead a life of mediocrity.  Fear can be beaten if we know how. These are some of the notes I’ve taken from reading a book listed below, and I encourage all to read it for themselves.

ANXIETY: POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE

There are two types of anxiety; positive and negative. A positive anxiety pushes one to be responsible (eg. repaying a mortgage on time) and a negative one leads to unnecessary worry, which leads to psychological stress. It is also said that the common mental health disorder is anxiety. However, scripture makes it clear that we are not to be anxious.

THE TWO ELEMENTS OF FEAR

The source of fear (the fear object) will have two elements; presence and power. Both will need to be present in order to give strength to the fear, invoking a negative reaction. Over time, if the fear object is reinforced over time, this can lead one down to overthinking, faulty thinking, predictive thinking, day-dreaming resulting into a self-limiting, self-defeating lifestyle driven by fear or worse, cause one to withdraw into the realm of fantasy. What affects the mind, will ultimately affect the body.

THE SNAKE ANALOGY

If you were in your bedroom and were told that the most poisonous snake in the world was in the same room as you. One would understandably feel fearful. Both fear elements of presence (in the same room) and power (most poisonous) are present.

Let’s suggest that the same poisonous snake is not in your bedroom, but was locked in a cage in Australia. Though snake is still potent, its presence is far removed. There is no impending danger in proximity, and one can sigh in relief.

Imagine the same scenario but the snake is not poisonous. If you are afraid of snakes, one would still feel in danger. If not, then the snake can be quickly disposed of. Though its presence is noted, the snake is without power. The position would be the same if you discovered that the snake was actually dead.

To beat fear, either the power and/or the presence must be identified and removed or put in the correct context.

SCARED OF SATAN?

It is important to understand that as we are on this earth, so is Satan.

The bad news is until he is thrown in the lake of fire set aside for him and his angels (see Matt 25:41)  he will use his worldly powers to distract Christians into his submission.

The good news is that he has already been defeated and it is only a matter of time until this is done. For us, we need to know this truth in order to walk victoriously in our lives.

So, should Christians fear Satan? Of course not! Going back to the components of fear, yes, he is present, but he is not powerful. This is why he schemes, through the lens of the world, to get others to believe that he is powerful. Satan is not powerful and he never will be, unless you’re not alert to resist him.*

James 4:7 (ESV)
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

*For an in-depth Bible study on this topic, please find the following links below:

You vs The World – Part 1
You vs The World – Part 2

THE FEAR OF MAN VS THE FEAR OF GOD

 Should we fear man? Scripture reveals that the fear of man is a snare/trap (Proverbs 29: 25) and if we lived to please man, we would not be deemed servants of God (Galatians 1: 10). This begs the question why we should fear God and what does it look like to fear Him?  Simply put it means a reverent fear, similar to a fear when a child finds out his parents are nowhere to be found. Another aspect is fear in the sense of being scared of the being in question in a healthy way, a call to be responsible.

It can be understood why a fear of man exists; they could harm you physically (presence) or, emotionally, psychology thought an attack on reputation, sharing intimate information, or even blackmail (power). All these horrible experiences can be caused by man.

But what about God? Why should we fear Him compared to Man?

Matthew 10: 28 (ESV) (Emphasis added) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Man has the ability to destroy the body, but God, who is Omnipotent and Omnipresent (ALL powerful, and ALL present) can destroy the body and the soul.
Know that your soul has eternal value, and mustn’t be lost or given away cheaply. The world didn’t give you our happiness, and it has no right to take it away.

For those who are not Christians, this may seem a bit harsh and cutthroat, but allow me to share the good news; salvation is available to all those who believe in Jesus Christ! Click here to find out how! The Gospel: An Illustration

 HOW TO BEAT FEAR

Here are some helpful tips to help beat fear. I’ve broken it down into two categories; for we cannot ignore sin, and the harmful effects it can have in the future. Unfortunately, there are some consequences we are going to have to live with due to disobedience to God’s word. Nevertheless, God is a forgiving God and will provide grace to empower you to move forward towards freedom, which is found at the end of a disciplined life.

For an in-depth Bible study on this topic relating to the Holy Spirit, please find the link below:
Power, Love, and a Sound Mind

You cannot change your past, but God can allow you to become free from it –  Dr Neil T. Anderson.

Irrational fears:
Identify both fear elements;
Put them before God in prayer and meditate on scriptures, e.g.  Isaiah 41:10 (NIV);
Ask yourself factual questions surrounding both elements and remove one, or both elements;
Reinforce your mind with the truth as revealed in scripture;
Live in freedom and walk in victory.

Legitimate fears:
Identify both fear elements;
Put them before God in prayer;
Ask yourself factual questions;
Seek God’s for forgiveness;
Accept his forgiveness and Repent; Take responsibility for your action and mitigate by seeking help, guidance, accountability and work to on challenge until it is solved;
Produce fruit by keeping with repentance;
Reinforce your identity with the truth as revealed in scripture;
Live in freedom and walk in victory.

Book Recommendation

I recommend this book entitled Freedom From Fear: Overcoming Worry and Anxiety by Dr Neil T. Anderson and Rich Miller. I was quite sceptical at first, (total freedom from fear? Really?) but I was blown away at the wisdom shared. It is definitely worth the investment and would go on my personal list as a must read.

Thank you for reading and may God bless you on your journey of spiritual growth.

Tunde T. Amao

Black Men and Mental Health

In light of Mental Health Awareness week, I would like to share a featured post, more for the brothers and for the sisters who wish to understand.

Check it out here!

 

EVENT – OFNC LONDON Presents: Me and U: A Conversation

My brothers and sisters,

I am happy to announce that I will be amongst a team of panellists discussing all things relationships at the Overseas Fellowship of Nigerian Christians, London Branch!

The talk will feature a panel discussion that addresses topics such as:

Relationship ‘goals’

Love vs Respect

Sexuality and Christianity

Masculinity and Femininity

And many others!

 It is a free event, and you can obtain your tickets now! Donations are also welcome as stated on the Eventbrite link here!

Date: Sunday 18th February 2018

Location: 17 St Mary’s Church, Peckham, SE15 2EA!

Time: 3pm!

See you there!

Men, Women and Relationship Dynamics: A Godly Woman’s Concern

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This post is for the men, who know that there is something wrong and cannot place their finger on it. You want to love a woman, but there are challenges and struggles that you do not know about and you are often left heartbroken. Or you feel idle, and you KNOW that there is something more out there. You see others do it, but you don’t have that spark to push you forward. Or you’ve come to an awareness that something is not right at all.

Not only this is the case, but in the general viewpoint, there are huge concerns about the mental states, attitudes and behaviours of men whether they believe in Christ or not. And this has been picked up by the women in their discussions and expressions of frustration on social media.

I believe there is a landscape picture, one which displays the beauty when things are in the right places, but what I can see and have personally experienced once upon a time, is that there is an incomplete picture with missing jigsaw puzzles.

I’m on a personal quest to help men find the missing pieces so they can complete their pictures.

I was fortunate enough to have a question-answer discussion with a woman of God, a fellow award-winning writer and a person I have the pleasure to call my friend, who has seen the issues surrounding the men and has shared her personal view and also spoke on general viewpoints held by women which will help aid you grow into the man needed in today’s society, wherever you are.

Her name is Elizabeth T Peters, principle blogger of http://www.ElizabethTPeters.com! The discussion is below!

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TTA: I honestly believe that in terms of relationship dynamics, something is amiss, and looking the missing pieces to help complete the picture between men and women.

What are the general female expectations a man must meet before entering a relationship and what are the common issues that women would like to avoid in their relationship with a guy?

ETP: The characteristics of a leader in every sphere, strong sense of self, ambitious with a clear sense of direction towards said ambitions. The issues are not fulfilling any of the above, having not achieved self-actualization and displaying signs of indecisiveness.

I know a lot of young men don’t have it altogether but it’s part of the expectations to have made a great effort towards having it together and that starts from knowing what it means to have it altogether and how to get there.

Too many guys focus on just looking like they have it altogether and up being a mess inside. They run after financial stability, which of course is important, without stabilizing their soul and spirit. Personally, I’ve met guys with everything in place literally everything but still suffer from self-esteem issues and it was painful to see.

So yes self-actualization in every realm is vital. Men are leaders and no matter how accomplished the woman is she expects a leader in her man. The more accomplished she is, the more she’ll expect.

TTA: I like this.  I like to question expectations, so allow me to be a bit extra here. To grab deeper insight: are Men are leaders because of inherent design, as in designed to lead as men or because women expect men to be leaders?

ETP: Designed to lead! Adam as exhibit A.

TTA: In regards to what you mentioned, I guess this is a principle of life, not having everything together should drive a man to work to have it all together; before having a serious relationship with any lady.

From your perspective, what do you think is cause for males having low self-esteem?

ETP: I think it’s the same for any human, comparisons being a killer reason from what I’ve seen but others might have grown up in homes where derogatory terms were used loosely, past failures or any unreconciled internal turmoil.

TTA: And I’m safe to say that when it comes to platonic friendships, women don’t expect anything from a male friend and women would be uncomfortable if a male platonic friend is attempting to lead?

ETP: Yeah, there aren’t expectations from a male friend that would be any different from a female friend except of course knowledge/advice from a male perspective. Leading for example, in saying where they were going for lunch next is no biggie but I guess like in her life it’s an overstep because a woman only wants a leader when joined to the person. If she’s not with the person then that role is to be kept vacant.

TTA: I’m asking this because I personally think that some males can overstep friendship boundaries to do what wasn’t agreed or authorised.

ETP: Yes and this is where lines blur and expectations that weren’t agreed upon fall short.

TTA: Powerful. Again, many ladies are now voicing their concerns about the state of men, mindset, masculinity, love and purposeful relationships.

ETP: My brother and I are pretty close, plus I tend to keep close male friends, so we’re frank with each other about these things. Plus, I love psychology lol.

TTA: And what advice would you give a guy who was struggling with all the issues mentioned and doesn’t know how to move forward?

ETP: Pray, Get mentors, he may not be able to see all the characteristics sought in one so have more than one mentor. They don’t have to be direct either, could be a public speaker, blogger/vlogger. The truth is, we mould what we want from what we’re exposed to.

TTA:  Thank you so much, Elizabeth!

ETP: Always welcome!

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You can check out her award-winning blog here on www.ElizabethTPeters.com!

Something Men (And Women) Should Know

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Hello, my brothers and sisters.

In the month of September, I had attended my first #Pentalk Event for the first time and I was utterly amazed at what I heard. It was an extremely refreshing discussion and of course, I took a lot of notes!

I shared my notes on my Instagram story and thought I’d share them here for all, especially for my brothers out there!

I want to share something with my brothers in Christ and my brothers of mankind.
Despite what you think, the women are WELL aware of some of the issues of masculinity and with the difficulty of us men sharing our emotions.
Our inability to share our emotions can cause stress on the ladies. They worry and are concerned about whether you are emotionally available or not.
Now, guys, I get it. We do process emotions differently but don’t overgeneralise it. Some men are not quite emotional, some men are.

The issues why we don’t wanna share is because of:

The “man-up” stereotype;

 You are worried about how unmanly or soft she may perceive you to be if you did share;

A lack of trust.

One gentleman at the event shared that emotions are meant to be expressed, more for yourself than for your relationship. You must feel comfortable with expressing them to the woman you are with. If you cannot do this, then why are you with her?

Flipside: IF you are with someone who considers you unmanly and soft for expressing your emotions and is generally uninterested about your own issues and you find yourself playing an act or restricting yourself for the purposes of your relationship, then that’s not the lady you should be with.

Flipflipside: It is not your place to determine what your special lady can or can’t handle. This cannot be a reason why you cannot express yourself. Let her know and let her deal with it. She’s not a baby.

Both parties need to come together with a heart of understanding, not expectation.

It is very refreshing to see that women are aware and expressing their concerns regarding male emotions. All they want to see is a physical manifestation of how you are dealing with any difficult circumstances, EXCLUDING VIOLENCE. Simply stating how you feel gives her an idea of how you are.

She is not a mind reader and you are not a Stone Cold Rock (WWE fans will understand). You are a human being and entitled to express yourself without unjust judgment, fear or having your masculinity questioned. Beware of those looking for the benefits of a relationship without having to deal with the difficult aspects of it. Relationships will ALWAYS require work.

Finally and most importantly, a message from myself: Jesus died for you gents. That means you have value, but it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to manifest and increase in value (challenge yourself, set goals and work to achieve them, read, take courses, take a new degree, masters or different line of work, develop yourself, build a network, go elsewhere; do something!) because the truth is, no one else will do it for you. 

And you can do it, when you believe you can.

Tunde T. Amao