HOW FALSE ARE YOU?

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If I were to answer that question I would have to say “I can be very false at times!”

It was brought back to me just how false I can be the other day whilst driving my youngest daughter to school.  My car had to go in for a service so I had borrowed one of the work’s bakkies (pickup) for the day.  The work name and telephone number are pasted all over the bakkie and I remarked to my daughter how differently I behave when driving this bakkie because I am so aware that everyone can see the work name and logo and telephone number and I don’t want to give work a bad reputation because of my driving! I let the cars slip in before me, I smile and nod my head at other drivers – I don’t mutter, complain or glare at drivers who are driving erratically or who cut me off as I usually would.

I think my daughter wishes we could drive in the work bakkie more often as it is just so much more peaceful!

What is scary is just how false I can be.  Nothing has changed – it is still the same route, the same traffic but because I am driving a vehicle that can be recognised, my personality and behaviour changes because I am no longer anonymous.  How sad is that?

It is the same for many Christians – myself included.  When we think no-one is looking we often behave and think differently as opposed to when we go to church or are amongst other Believers – we then make sure we are on our best behaviour.  Early on in our marriage if my husband and I had had a fight, we wouldn’t talk to each other on the way to church but as soon as we slammed the car doors behind us in the church parking lot we were all smiles and friendly – towards others and to each other.  We could have won an Academy Awards trophy for our acting!

There was another occasion in my life when I realised just how false some people can be and how the majority of us do ‘judge a book by its cover’.  I used to drive a little Nissan – it was in the lower range of motor vehicles.  My husband had always wanted a Land Rover and one day he bought himself a four year old, second hand Land Rover Discovery.  It is one of the older versions of Land Rovers but it is big and very impressive looking.

The first time I drove it was to pick our girls up from school.  As I parked, I noticed the other moms looking at me and then realised that the wealthier mothers who had never ever greeted me, never mind looked at me before – suddenly acknowledged me with smiles.  I was exactly the same person that they had been seeing for months driving a little white Nissan, but now, because the vehicle I was driving was more ‘upper class’ they noticed me.  It got me thinking about how often we judge others by their appearances and their material possessions.

The following is a true story about judging someone on their looks.  There is a farmer in the Northern Cape who is a multi millionaire. He, however, always wears old clothes and never wears shoes.  He drove into Cape Town one day in his farm bakkie and parked outside a Premium car dealership. As he walked into the showroom the salesman took one look at him and then ignored him.  The farmer walked towards him and asked him how much one of the vehicles would cost? The salesman barely glanced at him and basically intimated that there was no way he would be able to afford one.  The farmer walked out the door and went next door to another Premium car dealership. As he walked through the door the salesman rushed towards him, shook his hand and asked what he could do for him.  The farmer drove past the first dealership in his brand new vehicle and waved at the salesman who had just lost out on a major commission deal because he judged on outside appearances.

“Do not judge or you will be judged. For with the same judgment you pronounce, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  (Matthew 7:1,2)

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YOU’RE RIGHT ON TRACK!

Am so looking forward to seeing who God is going to introduce William too next!
Yesterday he got to meet Queen Mathilde of Belgium.

UNDER A JUNIPER TREE

Photo courtesy of William Carter Photo courtesy of William Carter

I have recently met a man who practices exactly what he preaches. A man who takes God at His word and who expects blessings to reign on his life because God said they would.

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.  And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field”.   Deuteronomy 28:1-3

This verse applies to each and every person who proclaims Jesus Christ as their Lord.  Why then do so few of us not actively claim this verse and apply it to our own…

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SOMETIMES OUR CHILDREN LIVE ON A DIFFERENT PLANET

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Saw this board whilst walking down the street a while back. It triggered a memory of an incident that occurred a few years ago with one of my children. I need to set the scene for you first though!
Ever since our oldest child started pre-school I have prayed, together with other mothers, at their respective schools. We have also always taught our children that lying and stealing is wrong and are, in fact, even mentioned in the ten commandments!
“You shall not steal”
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exodus 20) – which basically means don’t lie.

Now about the incident.
I was just walking into a prayer meeting at the Junior school, feeling quite ‘holy’ when I checked my phone messages. Please note that subsequent to this, I no longer check any messages before going into a meeting.
There was a message there from my child in Senior school. What follows is a record of messages stemming from that one:

Child: “ Hey, mom. Is it ok if I forge your signature on my History test? If it’s not signed I get detention”
Me: “What planet have you been living on for the past fifteen years?? (now you can see why the message on the board above triggered this memory!) ” From the time you were born your dad and I have taught you that lying and stealing is wrong. By forging a signature you are effectively doing both!!!!”
Child: “I thought it would be ok cos you have already seen the paper and thought my mark was pretty good”.
I walked into the prayer meeting and told the ladies present “you will not believe what my daughter has just asked me!” and proceeded to tell them with great indignation.
One of the moms present responded “I think it is amazing that she asked you whether she could forge your signature and didn’t just sign it”.
This stopped me in my tracks and I messaged the child back:
“Meet me in the reception area at your school at first break and I will sign the test for you”.

When I arrived at the school I told the receptionist (who also happens to be a good friend of mine) why I was there. I was still feeling a bit indignant.
She replied “Noel, you should be so thankful that your child asked you. A large majority of the students here would just have forged the signature and not thought twice about it”.

That evening I recounted the story to my oldest daughter via skype as she was overseas at the time.
Her response was “That is so silly. Why would she even ask you something like that?”
I was just starting to pat myself on the back and think ‘well, at least I have got it right with one child’ when she stated “I would have just signed the test if you had already seen it!”
When you have children you just can’t win.

There is a lovely Irish saying “Shame the devil and tell the truth”

“The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in men who are truthful” (Proverbs 12:22)
I have sometimes, in the past, told a ‘little white lie’ mainly when I have wanted to spare someone else’s feelings when the truth would have hurt them but a ‘little white lie’ is still a lie.
And in the long run our ‘little white lies’ add up and can be quite detrimental towards others.
If we are to teach our children honesty, we need to be honest in all things.

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COMMIT TO YOUR MARRIAGE BEFORE SAYING “I DO”

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Before you decide to get married think about getting divorced and all the ramifications that divorce brings.

Think about the enormous commitment you are making!

If you are already married and are contemplating divorce then take into consideration how God views divorce.  Don’t listen to what the ‘world’ has to say. Too many children are growing up in families that have been split in two. Too many adults are re-marrying because their first or second or third marriage didn’t ‘work’ out.

  • The world says –  Life is too short to spend it unhappily married
    God says – Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
  • The world says – Love yourself, be happy
    God says – Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  (John 13:34)
  • The world says – Divorce is not such a big issue
    God says – I hate divorce.  (Malachi 2:16)

R.C. Sproul puts it like this:

“A married person does not live in isolation. He or she has made a promise, a pledge, a vow, to another person. Until that vow is fulfilled and the promise is kept, the individual is in debt to his marriage partner. That is what he owes. “You owe it to yourself” is not a valid excuse for breaking a marriage vow but a creed of selfishness.”

Too many Christian marriages today are ending in divorce because the ‘world’ says it is acceptable.  Not only is it acceptable, it is becoming more and more the norm for Christian marriages.

My parents got divorced in 1972.  In a school of over five hundred children, only two families were getting divorced that year – our family and one other.

We have three daughters, two of whom are finished with their school careers.  None of our three children have ever been in a school class where there has not been at least one child from a divorced family and sometimes there have been up to five children in a class of 30 who came from divorced families.  Quite a few of these families have been believing, church going Christians.  How is this possible?

Is it because we, as a church, are too quick to  judge and couples are scared to admit that they have major issues in their marriage?

Or because we, as a church, are too busy with our own lives that we do not have time to spend with couples who are struggling?

Maybe it is because we as a church are not teaching God’s word and His truth about Godly marriage.

And  maybe it is because we as the church do not commit to praying/interceding for marriages.

If you and your partner are believing followers of Christ, imprint this on your hearts and your minds –once married, divorce should not be an option.

“God intends and expects marriage to be a lifetime commitment between a man and a woman, based on the principles of biblical love. The relationship between Jesus Christ and His church is the supreme example of the committed love that a husband and wife are to follow in their relationship with each other.”  ~ John C. Broger

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ADDICTIONS ARE THE PITS…

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A friend of mine has had a drinking problem for many years.  She can go for weeks without having a drink or thinking about it, and then suddenly, the desire for alcohol overrides everything else in her life and she then drinks in secret.  This behavior pattern, even though she is really good at hiding it, is destructive to herself, her husband and her children. It is also destructive to her ministry  as she carries so much guilt about this ‘hidden’ aspect of her life.  The freedom and joy of Christ which should be manifest in her life is overshadowed by unforgiveness and feelings of shame and disgust.

A few weeks ago she went out for supper with a friend and the following morning her son asked her why she had lied to him the night before.  She couldn’t even remember speaking to her son when she got back from supper much less lying to him.  He had asked her the night before whether she had been drinking and she had said no – he said it was so obvious when she came home, that she had indulged in a couple of glasses of wine as her whole personality and demeanor changed.

She spent that morning in prayer, reading the Bible and just meditating.  As she prayed she had a picture of a long road.  The road of life that she was on.  There was a see through wall going from the ground up to heaven, separating the road in one place, and Jesus’s feet rested on the top of the wall.  The frame of the wall was made from steel, painted red, and the wall itself was made from bullet proof, shatter proof clear glass.  She could look back through the wall, even hammer on the wall but there was no way that she was going to be able to go through the wall and nothing on the other side of the wall could get through to her. The road itself was above the earth so she couldn’t walk around the wall either!  Her past and her future were solidly divided.

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God said to her:  “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”  (Isaiah 43:25)

She said to Him “yes Lord, but I am constantly seeking forgiveness for the same thing over and over again and there is just no healing or freedom from this addiction.  He replied “I have not given you a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7). “I also want you to know that you do not need to be afraid; you will not suffer shame.  Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.  You will forget the shame of your youth”. (Isaiah 54:4)

As she reflected on God’s words and the picture she had been given she realized that she had to start trusting God, had to take Him at His word and He would enable her to break the chains of addiction that she was imprisoned in.  That “once we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).

There is no way we can go back and undo what we have done but there is also no way that we can carry our pasts of shame and failure into our futures once God has forgiven us.  It is gone.  And, if there are consequences for what we have done, God will equip us to deal with them.  She said there was an incredible feeling of relief and her horror and shame about drinking and lying to her son became something she thanked God for. She was so thankful that her son had confronted her because it was the final nail in her coffin of lies and shame.  She has started to share her story of alcoholism with a few trusted people, is reading God’s word with a fresh understanding that she is a ‘new creation in God’, and her ministry has far more depth and thoughtfulness to it, she has become less judgmental of others and has gained a deeper understanding and empathy for  herself and others suffering from addictions.

She is learning to be compassionate and kind towards herself, to live every single moment to the fullest and to exercise an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness towards herself, God and those around her.  She is learning to look back through the glass wall without anger and shame and because of the blood shed on the cross for her, because Jesus was prepared to die for her, because she is a new creation she is positive about her today.

 “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  (Ephesians 2:10)

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DAILY MIRACLES…

WOW! God is so good!

A year ago to the day I wrote the post below.  We have just had to put in an order for another 200 ‘All God’s Stones’ books to be printed.

“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.…”
Psalm 37:4,5

Ten years ago my sister gave me the book The Serenity Prayer by Trevor Hudson for my birthday:
The following was inscribed inside:

DEAR NOEL, HAPPY 41ST BIRTHDAY. WRITE YOUR BOOK! LOTSA LUV M.A. THIS IS A BOOK FOR THOSE MOMENTS

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I never dreamt that ten years after receiving this book, my second book All God’s Stones would be published and that Trevor Hudson would write the foreword for it!!

Trevor Hudson has written many books. I have read the majority of them and have quite a few filed on my book shelves. The Serenity Prayer, however, stays on my desk within easy reach because I refer to it often. This book has brought a far greater understanding of God’s love and His power to restore broken lives, into my life. In the book Trevor Hudson states:

Each one of us has been created with and given certain gifts. These have been placed in us by our Creator God and they represent our unrepeatable uniqueness. God’s general will for our lives is intimately linked with this giftedness.
As a poster once proclaimed: “Who we are is God’s gift to us, who we become is our gift to God”

I was honored and humbled when Trevor Hudson agreed to read my book and to write a foreword. It was such an amazing gift from God (and Trevor) to me. In Isaiah 43:4 God says “…you are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you…”

In Isaiah 30:18 it says “the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”

I am such a blessed child of God and my prayer is that I, in turn will be a blessing to others and to God. That God will use my books as he has used Trevor’s books to bring comfort and understanding into lives that long to be touched by HIM.

I am a child of God’s.
I am also a writer.
Mother Teresa once said “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world”.
My objective is to be one of God’s love letters to the world. I can only achieve this through His grace at work in my life.

Through His grace, God will help us to become the person He created us to be.
http://www.godspromise.co.za/

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Soaring

“Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in”. – S.L. Alder

I rejoice in the fact that the more I grow in my relationship with Christ the bars to my cage are no longer holding me captive, and in time, I will fly free – eventually soaring as I discover more of who I am in Christ and continue to embrace the good and the bad inside me, always developing the good and neglecting the bad.

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“but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  (Isaiah 40:31)
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