UNFRIENDED…on Facebook!

 

A few days ago, I was ‘unfriended’ on Face Book.

The person who unfriended me was not just a Cyber Space Face Book friend.  It was someone I have met face to face numerous times, prayed for and had coffee with.

I had tried to share something on her Facebook page which I thought she would enjoy and it was then that I discovered that she had ‘unfriended’ me.  I sent her a Whats App asking her if she had actually done so (you hear of some weird things happening in Cyber space and I was still hoping she hadn’t physically unfriended me!) and if yes, why?
“Yes, I have”
Her reason…
“We have mentioned to get together for coffee twice over the last two years and I have replied with an enthusiastic yes twice but the date was never set. I just think it best if I don’t see you on FB then I’m not reminded of my disappointment.”

How incredibly sad.  Here I was blissfully unaware that I had hurt someone to the point of them ‘unfriending’ me.

My immediate response was “why didn’t she just set a date herself to which I would have answered whether I could make it or not” and “there are other people who constantly say to each other we must get together and yet they never do (purely because of time) and yet they don’t unfriend each other”. “Why didn’t she just pick up a phone and phone me?”

And then this little voice reminded me of Mathew 7:5 “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”.

Why hadn’t I picked up a phone to talk to her instead of sending her a Whats App?
I was hurt so decided to hide behind the impersonal format of Whats App.
I was angry at her reason for ‘unfriending’ me and I didn’t want to speak to her in that moment so apologised via Whats App. I am ashamed to admit that I can be quite a hypocrite at times.

If two ‘mature’, Jesus loving grownups could behave in such a manner what hope do our children have?

Children are being bullied, hurt, made to feel ashamed, looked down upon because all communication takes place in Cyber Space and they don’t see or experience the reaction and pain that would be theirs to witness if communication took place face to face.

The effect of social media is dehumanizing.

“We’re engaging face-to-face much less.  If we don’t speak to each other, it’s harder to establish empathy”.  (S. Greenfield)

Via social media we are often unaware of what someone may be saying  about us or who might have taken offense to something we posted – if I hadn’t wanted to share something to her Face Book timeline I would never have discovered that she had ‘unfriended’ me or that I had caused someone so much hurt that they would want to ‘unfriend’ me.

“I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction.  The world will have a generation of idiots” (Albert Einstein)

This has been a wake-up call for me.

I don’t want to be an idiot or lose my empathy for others.

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ADDICTIONS…WHERE IS GOD?

“He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains.” (Psalm 107:14)

Why, if God says He has brought us out of darkness and broken our chains, do a lot of Believers still struggle with addiction?

Some addicts have spent years crying out to God and begging Him to release them and heal them from their addiction but nothing changes. They continue to live with the shame, guilt, embarrassment, hopelessness, despair and anger that addiction brings with it.

They pray and pray and yet they still drink, get drunk and have blackouts, they continue to comfort eat and then feel such disgust and dissatisfaction with their bodies they make themselves vomit, they continue to gamble and end up further and further in debt. They continue to take drugs and lose all sense of identity.

And then there are the addictions that are not so blatantly obvious.

An addiction to anger, to lying, to despair, to hopelessness, to worry, to jealousy, to being judgmental, to impatience, to pornography, to gossip…

The only way you will be set free from an addiction, other than a miraculous healing, is through confession, humility, and honesty. If you do not confess to God and another human being or beings that you have an addiction, if you do not seek help and if you are not honest, and that honesty involves extreme humility, you will continue to struggle and live a life of lies, shame, deceit and hopelessness.

It won’t matter how often or sincerely or desperately you pray – how can God (a Holy God) answer your prayers for healing and freedom from addiction, when your life is based on a lie?

In Leviticus 19:11 God clearly states “Do not lie”.

The majority of addicts are liars – we even lie to ourselves.

We lie about how much we drink, we lie about being bulimic, we lie about our gambling addiction, we lie about our addiction to pornography, we deny being a gossip or being quick to anger or being impatient…

Take worry for instance.  God clearly says “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow” (Matt 6:34).  And yet, how many of us just can’t stop worrying? Worry robs us of joy, affects our health causing ulcers, high blood pressure, loss of sleep. Worry slowly eats away at our lives.

Worry, just like any other addiction, causes a rift between us and God.

How can we trust and love God fully when our lives are overshadowed by worry?

How can we be witnesses of God’s healing and joy when we are habitually passing out drunk?

How can we reflect God’s love and peace to others when we are quick to lose our temper?

Addiction is ugly, dirty, shameful, guilt ridden, sorrowful, painful, heartbreaking…

The only way out is through confession, humility and honesty.  Through faith that God’s love is enough. Through believing that God is the one who kept us from the pit of utter destruction, who has forgiven our sins.

“In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.”  Isaiah 38:17

Someone who has been freed from the chains that have held them bound is brave, beautiful and strong – they have been stripped of all pretenses, their souls laid bare, they have suffered.

They have immense character.

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”  –  Khalil Gibran

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Our Father…

May each one of us be the kind of person that when our feet touch the ground in the morning, Satan says “Oh hell, they are up. Take cover!”
Prayer and faith go together. You cannot have the one without the other.

Our Father

My God, my Dad, my Lord, my Pappa, my Father

whom art in Heaven

You are high above the earth. You are all seeing. You are omniscient.  You know all about me and yet you still love me

hallowed be Thy name

You are majestic and wonderful. I praise your Holy name. Your name is powerful and mighty.

your kingdom come

Lord, please fill me with your Holy Spirit. May I be your hands and your feet here on earth.  May people see your Kingdom in me.

your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven

I pray Lord that I, together with all other Believers, will be able to love others in a way that will ensureYour will being done here on earth through us.

Give us this day our daily bread

Thank you Lord for the abundance that you shower upon me.  For the home I live in – let me not take it for granted.  Let me share my abundance with others. Make me aware of the needs of those around me.

and forgive us our trespasses

Lord, please forgive me for not living a life of love.  For wanting my own way.  For judging others.  For repeatedly doing what I know is wrong in your sight.

as we forgive those who trespass against us

I need your help to forgive those who have hurt me.  Who have made me feel that I am not worthy.  Who judge and criticize me.  Help me Lord, to be able to forgive myself for the wrong I have done.

Lead us not into temptation

Please help me to be satisfied with what I have.  To be thankful for all I have.

but deliver us from evil

Lord, please break the chains that bind me.  Break the habit of me feeling worthless, angry, inferior, proud, judgmental.  Deliver me from addictions – be it alcohol, drugs, pornography, eating disorders. 

For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever

Thank you Lord that nothing can ever befall me that you are not aware of.  That no matter what happens you have already prepared a way out – help me to trust, grant me more faith to know that you are all powerful.  I glorify your mighty name.  I praise you.

Amen

(Prayer loosely based on Dallas Willard’s prayer)

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STRUGGLING WITH GOD…

I often struggle with God.  I was reading this morning about Jacob’s struggle with God, and a feeling of immense empathy rose inside me for Jacob.  I identify fully with him.  Been there, done that and sometimes still find myself struggling with God!  Jacob’s story goes like this:

“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.  When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.  Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”  But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  The man asked him, “What is your name?”  “Jacob,” he answered.  Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”  Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”  But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?”  Then he blessed him there.

So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”  (Genesis 32:24 – 30)

There were five main things that struck me about this story.  The first was the fact that we can struggle with God but there will be consequences if we continue the struggle indefinitely and do not stop to listen to what God has to say to us.  Jacob’s hip was put out of joint.

The second was that we need to take the time to be alone with God.

The third was that even though there may be consequences for our struggles, if we cling to God, He will bless us.

J.R. Miller says it like this “Jacob won the victory and the blessing here not by wrestling but by clinging.  His hip was out of joint and he could struggle no longer, but he would not let go.  Unable to wrestle further, he locked his arms around the neck of his mysterious opponent, helplessly resting all his weight upon him, until he won at last.  We too will not win the victory in prayer (or actions) until we cease our struggling.  We must give up our own will and throw our arms around our Father’s neck in clinging faith. What wins blessings and victories is the strength of clinging faith.”

The fourth was that we often ask God who He is when we are going through a difficult time.  Why do we do that when we know that God is a God of love and has promised to be with us through all our trials and struggles. In Joshua 1: 5 God clearly states, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.

The fifth was “what if God has already given me a ‘new’ name?”

When I was born my parents named me Noelene Grace.  Quite a few years ago my husband and I were having a serious argument and during the argument he said this “I am not surprised that one of the names your parents gave you was Grace.  They obviously had insight into the fact that you would need a lot of it in your life time! You are in dire need of being able to exercise grace now!”  Loathe as I was to admit it, there was a lot of truth in what he said.

What if, when God thinks about me, He thinks of me as Grace?

Grace is the quality of being pleasing. It is speaking and behaving in a way that is intended to impress and attract people. Grace embodies favour and goodwill.  Grace is realizing that something is right and proper and willingly doing what is asked of us.

Isn’t Grace what we are all called to be as Believers.  Romans 8:29 states “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, Jesus”.  Jesus embodies the word Grace.

Grace is the free and unmerited gift and favour of God shown towards man.

“Blessings come not by wrestling but by clinging to Him in faith” –  J.R. Miller

 

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WHEN YOUR LIFE SKIDS TO A HALT WITH NO WARNING…

I FOLLOWED THIS CAR INTO THE HOSPITAL PARKING LOT ONE MORNING!

Twenty-three days ago, our lives came to an abrupt stop. Figuratively speaking, we skidded to a halt with burn marks on the tarmac!

We had been camping in Elands Bay at the Vensterklip Caravan Park along the West Coast of South Africa approximately 220kms from our home town, Cape Town. A truly beautiful place. My husband had complained of a headache for a couple of days prior to this and on the 1st May he woke up vomiting, with a high temperature and suffering from an excruciating headache.
Our daughters and I broke camp, hooked up the caravan and drove back to Cape Town. It was a public holiday and no clinics or doctor’s rooms were open locally.

We arrived in Cape Town three hours later and I took Steve to the Emergency Room at our local hospital.
We waited eight minutes and then he was taken into an examination room. As he lay down on the bed he had a violent seizure – broke his watch, bit his lip open and almost gave the doctor a black eye. They put a drip up which he promptly ripped out and I sat and held his hands for the next hour to prevent him ripping the second drip out and taking off the oxygen mask. An hour later they did a CT scan and a lumbar puncture.
The doctor came into the room we were in and told us that the CT scan showed Steve may have a brain tumour and they suspected he also had meningitis. He then left the room!

Steve turned to me and said, “That’s quite scary” and 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”

It was in that moment that Philippians 1:6 became a reality in my life “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
My faith and belief in Jesus Christ was no longer based on feelings but on the Word of God.
God’s Word was finally beginning 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” (Hebrews 13:5)

We decided not to mention the possibility of a tumour until the diagnosis was confirmed, and our daughters and family informed, but I immediately sent out prayer requests worldwide for healing for Steve for meningitis.

Later that day, Steve was admitted into a hospital ward where he would spend the next 13 days. The following day he had a MRI scan and on Wednesday we were given the news that Steve did not have a tumour or meningitis but was in fact suffering from a viral form of encephalitis – the right temporal part of his brain was totally inflamed. This resulted in him being confused and forgetful those first few days. The neurologist later informed us that even with all our modern medicine there is still a 20% mortality rate for people suffering from encephalitis.

A week after being admitted into hospital a second MRI scan was performed and this showed that the brain had increased in swelling despite the intravenous antivirals he had been on. His hands and arms were bruised and swollen because every two days they had to move the drip because the medication caused his tissues to swell. He also received a daily injection in the stomach to prevent blood clots forming and was on intravenous pain medication.

As a result of the second MRI, Steve was given a daily dose of intravenous cortisone (along with the antivirals) for three days. His response to the cortisone was miraculous. Almost overnight his memory stabilized and he knew what had happened to him and where he was.
He was discharged after 13 days. His recovery will be long – he is weak and tired and will be off work for a month and then will only be able to go back on a part time basis initially. He isn’t allowed to drive for a month and will remain on anti-seizure tablets for six months. He has lost 10 kilos in three weeks because of a drug induced hepatitis which is affecting his liver which in turn leaves him with no appetite.

His staff have been amazing and they have continued to run the business, with no input from him, and are doing a wonderful job. A lot of the staff are praying people and we thank God for them.

My heart is overwhelmed with thankfulness.

I thank God that when Steve had his seizure, he was in hospital surrounded by medical staff.
I praise God for the couple who came and prayed with us whilst we were still in the emergency room and who visited faithfully every day whilst Steve was in hospital.
I am thankful for the men of God who anointed Steve with oil and prayed for him.
I am thankful for all the meals and lifts provided and the gifts given.
I praise God for a picture I will always carry in my mind of three of Steve’s staff members surrounding his hospital bed, two holding his hands and one putting his hands-on Steve’s head and praying God’s healing and restoration into his mind and body. What a precious memory.
I thank God for the wisdom, empathy, and wonderful sense of humour both his physician and neurologist blessed us with.
I thank God for the men at ROTOP who have encouraged us with their prayers and messages.
I thank God that He heard and honoured the prayers of His people who were praying, interceding, and standing in the gap for us.
I also thank God for our family and especially our three daughters – their love, support and humour are such a blessing.
My thankfulness knows no bounds that Steve’s mind has been restored fully and he will suffer no long-term consequences.

And I thank God for this “gift of time” this “enforced rest” – this time to re-evaluate our lives and spend time in Him.

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

I believe, in time, we will be thanking God for this interruption!

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FOR THOSE WHO ARE DISCOURAGED…dreams do come true, miracles still happen

One of the main desires of my heart is to write.

I completed my first book when I was 43 years old. I believed with all my heart the promise God made us in Psalm 37, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will do this”.

A few years prior to me writing the book I had been given a prophecy that God would indeed give me the desire of my heart to write and this was confirmed in Jeremiah 30:2 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says:  ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you’”.

 I had covered all the bases – I had prayed about the book, someone had confirmed it with a prophesy which was then followed up by a scripture verse and the book itself is very scriptural.  In fact, a friend of mine who read the manuscript before I submitted it for publication had this to say “Noel, it would be a very good book if only it didn’t have so many scripture verses in it!” The title of the book was even based on Scripture – God’s Promise for Families.

 I truly believed and had absolute faith that the book would be accepted for publication.  I posted it off to three publishers – two of them never bothered to reply and the third one sent me a politely worded rejection letter.  To say I was devastated is an understatement.
I was totally shattered and my faith and trust in God’s faithfulness was shaken.  I spent days crying and weeks asking God why?

After a period of mourning and crying, I started working on the manuscript again.  I rewrote quite a few things and added some other things.  I spent a lot of time in prayer and reading the Gospel.
Six years later I submitted the book to a partner publisher in America and they accepted it.
In hindsight, if my book had been accepted the first time I submitted it, it would have been disastrous for myself and my family.
I would have taken all the credit and been insufferably proud.  I would never have coped at that time with the public speaking that goes hand in hand with advertising a book.
A lot of healing still had to be done in my life and issues from my past dealt with before my story was made public.

I needed those six years to grow in Him, to learn to rely solely on Him and to trust Him in all things. I have come to accept that God’s timing is always perfect and He will not give us our heart’s desires until we are equipped to deal with them.

In Psalm 107 the psalmist writes that the Lord “satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things”. He does not simply fill us, He fills us with good things.

In 2015 my second book All God’s Stones was published.

Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have believed that my books would be on the same bookshelf in book stores as Stormie Omartian, Angus Buchanan, Gary Chapman and one shelf below Joel Osteen and Karen Kingsbury OR placed next a book by Richard Bonhoeffer.  Authors whose books I have been reading for years.

When your dreams are not coming true and your heart’s desires are not being met reflect on these words by Oswald Chambers;

“If you have only come as far as asking God for things, you have never come to the point of understanding the least bit of what surrender really means…”

When your situation is not changing – your relationships are in turmoil, your children are hurting, there are no finances, you are not being healed…steep yourself in the study of God’s Word, meditate on it and pray until the vision of healing, restoration and promise are fulfilled.

“For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3 NASB)
“But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, stedily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” (Habakkuk 2:3 LAB)

Click on http://godspromise.co.za/books.html to buy the books

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IS GOD SPITEFUL?

There is a story in the Bible about Jesus and a fig tree.

His unfairness towards this fig tree has always troubled me.

I don’t want to serve a God who makes fig trees die out of spite just because they don’t have fruit on them when He wants fruit.

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.….In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.  Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look!  The fig-tree you cursed has withered! “Have faith in God” Jesus answered” (Mark 11)

Working on the premise that God is a God of love and does not do things out of spite, I finally researched this portion of Scripture.

I, discovered that God often does or allows things that make no sense to us BUT there is always a purpose, based in love, for what happens to those of us who put our trust in Him.

Fig trees are a source of food in Israel and it takes three years from the time they are planted to when they bear fruit. The figs are harvested twice a year – in late Spring and early Autumn. It was early Spring when Jesus walked past this fruit tree and the leaves should only have been beginning to bud.  This tree, however, was full of leaves. Figs grow as the leaves grow and as there was no fruit it meant that the tree would not produce any fruit that year.

If we are not living in the fullness of God we are like that fig tree.  We are called to bear much fruit If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit” (John 15:5).

If we are not bearing fruit we are spiritually barren and we will wither and die.God warns us about this in Revelations 3:16:

“So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

 This tree symbolises God’s immense love for us, His desire that we live our lives to the fullest in Him.  It is a reminder that if we are not producing fruit we are dying.

So, the next time something happens that makes me doubt God’s love, I will reflect on the fig tree.  Either I am not bearing fruit or He has a wonderful plan that I am not privy to at this moment so I will just continue to do what Jesus said and “have faith in God”.

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