• Articles

    5 lies that keep us from spiritual growth

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    I’ve been a born-again Christian for 12 years. During this time, I’ve learnt a lot about the Lord and have been blessed by revelation of His ways, experienced His grace when l didn’t deserve it, and encountered His unconditional love.

    Attaining such knowledge hasn’t always been easy though: At times it required the Lord to test me and refine me of impurities that were hard for me to let go of. However, l am grateful for the challenges that God allowed me to endure, as it enabled me to grow spiritually.

    That being said, there have been obstacles to my spiritual growth. Some of these have occurred from trying to navigate a Christian life amidst superficial societal expectations, coupled with the pressures of living the COVID-19 life; others have originated from my own inner doubts and insecurities.

    These stumbling blocks are lies that l believed for a long time, which made me think that God wasn’t for me, and that contrary to what the Bible says, He didn’t love me, because l didn’t deserve it. Consequently, such thoughts held me captive and made me miserable.

    In the last year, God has been revealing Himself to me through numerous means – His Word, songs, as well as words of encouragement from friends and family. These revelations have helped me realize that the viewpoints l previously held are in fact not true.

    The following are 5 of the lies which had personally kept me from growing in the Lord in the past. In sharing these, l hope that my experiences will help free you of the untruths that are hindering you from maturing spiritually.

    1. I’m not a “good” Christian

    I am a perfectionist, and as part of my all-or-nothing character l want to be a “good Christian”, who reads her Bible, spends time with God in prayer, and worships Him through praise and song – daily.

    This self-expectation used to put me under a lot of pressure. Consequently, if l couldn’t keep up with my daily “God time” l would condemn myself. Additionally, l felt guilty of not being spiritual enough to approach God and felt unworthy of presenting Him with my prayer petitions.

    However, God doesn’t love us in proportion to how much time we spend with Him and His Word, how much we pray, or even how many good deeds we do. God loves us because He is love (1 John 4:8) – it is simply who He is.

    Now that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t read the Bible and spend time in prayer and praise: The more we know about God and His ways, the more revelation we will have of Him, which will lead to greater intimacy with Him and give us victory in our daily lives.

    What is important to remember is that God loves us for who we are, not what we do. For that reason, He sent His precious Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.

    2. God has favorites

    l used to look at Christian influencers on social media and see their posts about the new house they had bought, the exotic locations they visited, or the dream job they had. The carefree lifestyle they presented made me feel that God was favoring them and that they were doing something l wasn’t to deserve such great blessings.

    However, in Romans 2:11 it states that God does not show favoritism. Even David, who was “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) was not granted the task of building the Lord’s Temple; rather, God blessed his son Solomon with the honor.

    In the past year, God has been showering my husband and l with blessings: provision, job opportunities, favor, inner peace, and more. Through such acts of His grace, God has taught me two things:

    1) God gives customized blessings to meet our individual needs, in accordance to the current chapter in our lives

    2) We should always be grateful for what He gives (1 Thessalonians 5:18), regardless of our circumstances.

    God does not have favorites. If we compare our blessings with others, we risk falling into a bottomless pit of self-doubt and envy, which prevents us from growing spiritually.

    3. Other Christians don’t like me

    I get along well with the women in my church, however any attempts l make to connect with them outside of our place of worship are constantly rejected. Since church services have stopped due to lockdown, l have not heard from any of my female acquaintances, which leaves me feeling like a social outcast.

    God has been showing me through the love and encouragement of my husband and my non-Christian friends, that l am a kind person and a loyal friend. Through Christian therapy, l am learning that l’m not deficient or unworthy if others don’t desire my company: The issue lies with them, not necessarily with me.

    Additionally, God has brought two amazing women into my life through our love of writing. They live on the opposite sides of the world in Canada, but we are close to each other’s hearts.

    Most importantly, God is encouraging me to grow spiritually by forgiving those who are not for me, and to have sympathy and pray for the issues that the ladies in my church are enduring in their own lives.

    4. God doesn’t want to heal me

    The previous year has been especially difficult for my mental health. I am in recovery from burnout and chronic depression; however, the global pandemic and its consequences have negatively affected my mental state further.

    One of my biggest prayers is for healing from my mental torment. So, when God allows me to keep on suffering, and thereby miss out on the joys of life, l begin to doubt whether He will heal me at all.

    However, God is Jehovah Rapha – The God who heals. In His Word, God assures us that He hears our cries, and promises to heal us (2 Kings 20:5). God keeps His promises, because that is who He is (Numbers 23:19). When that healing will occur, we can only trust Him and leave it up to His perfect timing.

    5. Satan rules the world

    With 2020 exposing the injustice, discord, and tragedies of the world through the COVID-19 pandemic, racism, political deceit, as well as natural and personal disasters, is it consequential to say that the world is ruled by the orchestrator of darkness – Satan?

    And if so, why does God allow this?

    First of all, we need to remember that we live in a broken world. Self-interest, greed, and the pursuit of materialistic gain have resulted in the world suffering at the hands of man’s poor stewardship of the earth’s resources and lack of love for his fellow brother.

    However, regardless of what we as mankind do to the world and to each other, God has the final say over the events and outcomes of this earthly plain. In Isaiah 40:21-26, the prophet describes how God is the One who created the earth, including the heavens and the stars. He raises rulers and He can also bring them down again, for no one is His equal. He rules the world!

    Indeed it is true, that Satan is an enemy to man, whose goal is to “kill, lie, and destroy” (John 10:10). However, he is no match for God!

    If this is the case then, why is there so much evil on earth?

    Jesus warned us in the Book of John that our lives would not be free of trouble of adversity. However, He also said that He has conquered the world (John 16:33). Similarly, God promises in Romans 8:28 that He makes all things work out for good.

    Therefore, whatever trials and tribulations you personally face or witness happening around the world, know that God sees what is meant for evil and is turning it around for our good!

    When a broken world threatens to compromise our faith, and our own mind becomes a battlefield that feeds us lies and nurtures self-doubt, God’s Word is the truth that sets us free (John 8:32).

    How good then, that we serve a God who is not only our Father, but our Teacher, Friend, and Comforter, who love us and guides us from faith to faith and from glory to glory, in His name!

    About the author:

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog and Faith Love Life Designs. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband, Solomon.

    Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.

  • Devotionals

    Who are „Corona People“ anyway?

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.

    No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 

    In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

    Matthew 5:14-16 (NRSV)

    Thought of the Day:

    During these unprecedented pandemic times, the love of God that resides in us needs to shine like a beacon through the darkness of fear and doubt, and offer encouragement and hope to others.

    My husband Solomon and l have been collectively living in Germany for over 20 years. I am British and Solomon is Nigerian. Despite our acclimatization to the German culture and language, we enjoy connecting with our cultural and linguistic roots when the opportunity arises. 

    A few months ago, in the period between the first and second national lockdown, Solomon ran into an old friend from Nigeria in the nearby city of Essen. The friend declared that he was now a pastor of a church for African ex-pats, and consequently invited my husband to attend their upcoming church service that Sunday.

    Solomon’s happy anticipation of home-grown worship and fellowship was very much realized that Sunday. After the church service, Solomon walked to the main train station with a couple of African men from the church. They maintained social distancing and had their masks on their persons.

    As they were chattering and exchanging pleasantries, a lady walked past them and yelled, “Hey, Corona people!”

    The group was struck dumb by this unprovoked verbal attack. One young man in particular was very upset.

    “Why are we being randomly targeted as harbingers of the COVID-19 virus?” he asked the others dumbfounded. “Why be unnecessary cruel during such unprecedented times, when we all are suffering? And, who are “Corona people” anyway?”

    Instead of expressing their own hurt, Solomon and the others comforted the young man. They assured him that the lady was probably feeling the stress of the Corona pandemic and was thereby projecting her fears and anxieties on them. They reminded each other that as believers of Christ they should forgive this lady, just as Christ forgave them their transgressions.

    The fellowship of these men, at first carefree, had turned earnest, and they were grateful for the spiritual support they could provide each other under both happy and serious circumstances.

    As they parted ways, the group expressed a wish that the lady would be able to experience the same peace and freedom that they did, by putting their faith in the Lord.

    Prayer:

    Almighty Father, we do not know why mankind has been struck down with the COVID-19 virus, but we do know that You make all things good with Your perfect timing.

    Until then, we will be comforted in the knowledge that Your grace goes before us, and we will shine with Your love, so that we may be a light to others and encourage our fellow brethren in this dark world.

    In Jesus’ name,

    Amen.

    Delve Deeper:

    This entire experience was a reminder for Solomon of how imperative it is that we as Christians continue to be a light for others during these unprecedented times.

    Where fear and anxiety reign in people’s hearts, where prejudice and postulation override common sense and sympathy, God’s love needs to be a beacon that cuts through the darkness to offer revelation and encouragement – not only to those who do not know God, but also to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.