BE PREPARED…

“God will, generally speaking, not compete for our attention. If we will not withdraw from things that obsess and exhaust us into solitude and silence, He will usually leave us to our own devices.”  Dallas Willard

One of the major stumbling blocks in the majority of our lives today is that we are all too busy and do not have time to prepare our hearts for life’s interruptions.

“But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart…” Matthew 15:18

On the 1st May 2017 I rushed my husband, Steven, to hospital and after a CT scan and a lumbar puncture were performed, the doctor came into the room and told us that they suspected that Steve had meningitis and a brain tumour. Steve turned to me and said: “That’s quite scary” (which I thought was a bit of an understatement) and yet, the first words out of my mouth were “He is a good, good God. That’s who He is. And we are loved by Him, that’s who we are”.

No-one could have been more shocked then me to hear those words come out my mouth.

I had just been told that my best friend of 26 years, my soul mate, my husband, the father of my children may have a brain tumour and all I could say was “He is a good, good God”.

The weekend prior to this my youngest daughter and I had attended the Hillsong Colour Conference.  We had spent the weekend praising God, listening to His Word being expounded on by Godly men and women and praying – the theme song on the weekend had been You’re a good good father, it’s who you are, And I’m loved by you it’s who I am. 

During the week that followed I had continued in an attitude of praise and God, unknown to me, was preparing my heart for this interruption. God’s Word had begun to take root in my life and become a reality “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:7).  I knew in that moment that my God, Steve’s God “would never leave us or forsake us”

There are numerous ways that we can prepare our hearts and minds for when life interrupts us – through tragedy, illness and even death.

Number one:  Read and study your Bible on a daily basis

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.  ( 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Number two:  Spend time in prayer and meditation – not just in the morning and evening but make it a habit to speak to God at all times.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:18)

Number three:  worship and praise God

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise;  give thanks to him and praise His name. (Psalm 100:4)

Praise and worship is an act of faith and God always honours our faith in Him.

Number four:  meet together with other Believers on a regular basis

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”  (Matthew 18:20 )

ROTOP:

Number five:  read about and study the lives of Godly men and women.

“Write down all these things I am going to do, says the Lord, and seal them up for the future. Entrust them to some godly man to pass on down to godly men of future generations.”  (Isaiah 8:16)

One of my many mentor’s is Oswald Chambers. This is a man who died in 1917 but his writing has influenced my life and my faith in a wonderful way.  There are so many wonderful Godly men and women we can learn from.

Number six:  be still

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm46:10)

Lord we pray that we will be prepared at all times for our lives to be interrupted by life, that we will consciously slowdown in order to prepare our hearts and that, during the times of interruption, we will be able to praise your name.  Amen

(Extract from a talk given at ROTOP, Cape Town, 25/04/2018)

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Friendships…

I received this photo from a friend with the following caption:

“I took this photograph in Bettys Bay.  It triggered the thought in me that…even if everything is dry and hostile, I always have you as my best friend”.

My heart broke as I thought of her experiencing a dry and hostile period in her life, and yet, I rejoice in the fact that she is my friend and that no matter what either of us are going through we both know, without a shadow of a doubt, that if one of us needs the other we would immediately stop whatever we were doing, for however long we were needed, and be there at each other’s side.

Proverbs 18:24 says “…but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Jesus is that friend.

If my earthly friend and I can feel the way we do about our friendship, how much more must Jesus feel about His friendship with us!

In John 15:15 & 16 Jesus says “…I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last”

 Jesus placed this friend in my life many years ago and the years to date have been filled with huge tragedy and heart ache, pain that no person should have to carry but it has also been filled with much laughter and joy as my friend and I have cried together, laughed together, sat in silence together – as we have learnt more and more about each other over the years and our friendship has borne much fruit – honesty, trustworthiness, loyalty, a deep abiding love.

We both know we are not perfect (far from it in fact) but that makes no difference – we have never judged each other. We sometimes differ on our belief systems but it doesn’t matter and makes for some interesting conversation! We love each other despite all the faults and differences.

Just as Jesus loves us – warts and all!

We communicate and share our philosophies with each other with no fear of being rejected or made fun of.  Our friendship has grown deeper the more we have learnt about each other.

As I reflected on our earthly friendship, I couldn’t help but think that this is the same friendship Jesus wants with us.

He wants honesty and transparency, He wants us to run to Him when we are feeling devastated or when we are feeling joy, He wants us not to live in fear of His judgement but to grow more and more into His likeness as we get to know Him deeper.

He wants us to communicate with Him on a level that goes far beyond the superficial.

He wants us to know that His heart breaks for us when we are going through ‘dry and hostile’ times.

“Knowing God is more than knowing about Him; it is a matter of dealing with Him as He opens up to you and being dealt with by Him as He takes knowledge of you”.  J.I. Packer

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13

Jesus laid down His life for us.

Photo Credit:  A precious friend

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God’s Silence…

One of the most profound relationships I have ever had, lasted one year, and I only spoke to the person once.  I was 20 and he must have been about 25 years old. I had moved into a flat a few blocks away from my work offices which meant I could walk to work.

I ‘met’ him on that first morning walk.  As I rounded a corner I saw this man striding towards me.  We nodded our heads as we passed.  For a year, almost every day, during the week, we passed each other on the same stretch of pavement. We went from nodding our heads, to smiling, to eventually having our faces light up with joy when we saw each other. We never verbally greeted each other. Words were not necessary.

I came to love this man. The joy in his eyes when he caught sight of me, his spontaneous smile and the fact that I knew that he looked forward to these morning encounters just as much as I did. The sight of him filled my heart with joy.

This carried on for a year and then one day he stopped me, took both my hands in his and said “I have been transferred and I couldn’t leave you – not knowing what had happened to me”.

We stood on the pavement, our arms wrapped around each, sobbing – and then we walked away.

I recently told my daughter about my ‘pavement’ man and she responded:

“That reminds me of our relationship with God.  He is silent but we know that He is there”.

It is often in times of silence that our love for God grows deeper.

Even though there are so many unknown factors about Him and we have so many questions that are left unanswered, He looks at us with joy when we turn our faces to Him.

Just as I came to love my ‘pavement’ man without knowing anything about him – we can come to love God far more deeply. And even though my ‘pavement’ man never spoke I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that he had come to love me too.  That he looked forward in anticipation to the moment when he would see me and joy would fill his heart.

I know that is how God feels about us  – He looks at us with joy, anticipation, love.

And even though my ‘pavement’ man left me, he did not leave me without any warning, without crying with me and without comforting me.

God will never allow anything to happen to us and then desert us with no comfort as we grieve.  Even in death we grieve with hope because we will see our loved ones again.

O God, grant us, in times of your silence the grace to hold onto your words and not to allow our feelings to cause us to doubt. Bring to our minds your words ‘never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’. And grant us we pray the sure knowledge that you look at us with joy and compassion.  Amen

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I WILL GIVE YOU SOMETHING

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In almost every major city in South Africa you will find beggars and people selling goods, gathered at the main traffic lights of the city, ready to approach you as soon as the traffic lights turn red.
On a recent trip to Bloemfontein, we stopped at a red traffic light and immediately somebody tried to sell my husband Steve something.
Firstly, it was a car cell phone charger – Steve showed the man he already had one.
Secondly, it was a sunscreen for the windshield – Steve had one.
Thirdly, it was a peak cap and Steve had one of those too!

And then Steve did something that left our oldest daughter Sarah and I, for want of a better word, totally gobsmacked!

He put his arm out of the window, placed his hand on the man’s shoulder and said:

“I WILL GIVE YOU SOMETHING. I will pray for you and ask God to bless you. I will ask God that you will find favour with those you meet and that He will bless your business”.

The man immediately closed his eyes and Steve prayed. As Steve said ‘Amen’ the man was pushed out of the way and there stood a beggar. He grabbed Steve’s hand, placed it on his own shoulder and said “I want it. I also want the blessing. Pray for me, pray for me!”

And Steve prayed for him.

The traffic lights turned green and as Steve drove off Sarah said “Wow dad, that was amazing!”
I said “I can’t believe you did that! It was incredible”.
Sarah’s friend said “You mean, he doesn’t do that all the time? It looked like he always does that!”

Steve, Sarah and I assured her that this was the first time Steve had ever done something like that and the friend responded “I also want to be able to do that!”
Steve responded “That was not me, that was the work of the Holy Spirit!”

Steve and I pray for these two men on an almost daily basis. I believe that some time later those two men sought out a church that welcomed them in, and from those road side prayers, an incredible street ministry has begun! God says “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:14) and we are asking for a street ministry to begin in Bloemfontein!!

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth…” (Acts 3:6)
I ask that God will bless you
I ask that God will heal you
I ask that God will provide for all your needs

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JUDGE DISMISSES COURT CASE CITING LACK OF FAITH OF CHRISTIANS

A timely reminder for me…

UNDER A JUNIPER TREE

DSCN2371One of the most heartbreaking things, for me, about being a Christian is the fact that we don’t take God at His word.

God says “I tell you, do notworry” (Matthew 6:25) and what do we do?  We lie awake at night worrying about the state of our finances, our children’s well being, our jobs … the list is endless.

God says “Do not beanxiousabout anything” (Philippians 4:6) and what do we do?  We wake up in the morning filled with anxiety about what the day will bring.

God says “Do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9) and what do we do?  As soon as something goes wrong – health wise, financially, relationship wise – we promptly forget that God is with us and become discouraged and depressed.

“If you remain in me and my words remain…

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EDIT YOUR MARRIAGE FREQUENTLY!

 Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly.  It’s your masterpiece after all.  
(Nathan W. Morris)

 A masterpiece is something incredibly good.  The best example of something.

That is what marriage should be – an incredible example of something good.

Marriage is like a book.  It has many different pages.  You start writing the book together as soon as the marriage vows are spoken. One bad chapter in the marriage doesn’t mean it’s the end.  There are still many blank pages that you can write on.

Even if pages are ripped out of the book, the book itself remains and can still be written in.

It is the same with marriage.  Even though there may be some painful and horrific times in your relationship with your spouse you can still change the end of the book for good.

We hopefully are only going to have one marriage in our lives.  Why not make that marriage  a masterpiece through frequent editing and revaluing?  Below is my personalised version of what the Oxford Dictionary defines EDIT as:

EDIT

  1. to prepare your marriage for publication by checking and improving the accuracy and clarity of how you are living.
  2. to be in charge of your marriage
  3. to prepare your marriage by rearranging, selecting, or rejecting previous ways of living
  4. to modify your marriage by, for example, deleting, inserting or moving certain aspects of your marriage, or by copying the behaviour of people who are in marriages that you admire
  5. to remove incorrect or unwanted behaviour or matter from your marriage

…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

 Edit your life marriage frequently!

 Mother Theresa once said:

“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world”

 Imagine that you are a love letter from God to your spouse.

Every night before going to sleep take a journal and a pen and edit your marriage  in the light of God’s Word.  And every morning on waking take a few minutes to remind yourself that you are a love letter from God to your spouse.  Think about what you want to write and during the day, stop and do a few edits to what you have ‘written’ so far in the letter.

Always remember, you are a precious child of God and you can call on Him at any time – day or night – to ask for His help in editing your letter to your spouse.

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WHAT DO YOU FEAR?

Often our fears are based on feelings of unworthiness which takes the form of that little voice in our heads that the majority of us hear quite often: “Who do you think you are? You aren’t capable of doing that. You are so conceited, there are people far more qualified who can do that”

Self-rejection is also a form of fear – fear of accepting ourselves for who we are. We often don’t attempt something because of fear of failure.

A vast majority of us are not living the lives that God ordained for us because of fear.  Fear of failure and fear that if we do take God at His word and trust Him to fulfill our heart’s desires, He will fail us.

In His word, God repeatedly tells us:

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

God has given us the most amazing weapons to combat the fears we have – the Bible, prayer and each other!

One of my biggest fears is public speaking.  I have subsequently learnt that this fear is known as Glossophobia and that, according to the Wall Street Journal, public speaking is the number one fear in America.  Believe it or not, the fear of death is ranked as number two!

Many years ago, it was prophesied over my life that God would use me as a public speaker.   You have no idea what dread struck my heart when I received that prophesy! I actually checked behind me to see if the person wasn’t speaking to someone else.

I have subsequently come to realise that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  I also trust that when I mess up He will be able to fix it.

God will never allow you to embarrass yourself or be humiliated when you are doing what He has called you to do.

I am living proof that if we submit ourselves to God, He is quite capable of equipping us and using us wherever He places us.

I overcame my fear of public speaking by spending time in prayer and meditating on His word. I researched my topic well and wrote down what I was going to speak on. I then spent hours in front of the mirror practicing my talk. My family had to repeatedly hear my talk as well, and if a member of the family wasn’t around, our poor dog had to listen to it!

In fact, before one of my talks, one of our daughters very dryly commented: “You don’t have to worry if you get run over on the way to the venue because any one of us will be able to give the talk for you!”  She had had to listen to it so many times she knew it off by heart!

I also send a SOS prayer request out to a group of prayer ‘warriors’ asking them to keep me in their prayers.

It is through God’s grace that I can stand before an audience and speak, and if He can use me to speak in public, He can use anyone to do so much more. He does not call the qualified, but He definitely qualifies and equips the called!

My prayer for each one of us is that we will recognize and face our fears, and start to live the lives God has created us to live.

When you find yourself overwhelmed by fear, repeat these words to yourself:

“Despite what I may feel, I have God’s anointing on my life.  His grace covers my inadequacies. I am God’s workmanship and He will equip me to do the work He has planned in advance for me to do”.

So, go out boldly and conquer your fears!

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