Friday, November 13, 2015

Courageous, Unschooled, Ordinary men

Acts 4:13New International Version (NIV)

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
How are you feeling about yourself as we approach the end of one year and look forward to the start of a new one? What are your plans for the new year? Do you feel up to the task?

Peter and John were seen as unschooled, ordinary men however their actions showed that there was more about them than met the eye. They may have been ordinary men but they had hung out with someone who was extraordinary, and it showed!

The question was, if these men are unschooled and ordinary, where did they get their courage from? Why weren't they afraid of the rulers, elders and teachers of the law? Verse 8 says they were 'full of the Holy Spirit' and it was noted that they had been with Jesus.

As a believer you can face the future with confidence, no matter how people may have labelled you in your life (or how you might have labelled yourself) God is bigger than anything you will face... the Holy Spirit in you will help you rise above any labels and like Peter and John you will have courage and those around you will recognise something different in you... that you have been with Jesus.

Lets face the future with Courage...

I hope this short post has been encouraging for you.

Blessings, Derek

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Nearly 2014

It has been a while since I posted something new on my blog but am hoping to post more frequently in the new year.
As 2013 draws to a close I am reminded of the times it felt like I was living in the land of giants, but my overall feeling when I think of 2013 is one of absolute gratitude! Firstly I am grateful to God for the amount of times He answered my prayers, even the ones that were not very faith filled. I am also grateful for family and friends... we were not designed to go through life alone, we were designed for community, the Bible says that God takes the lonely and puts them into families (Ps 68:6)... that's a great promise!
God is bigger than the giants we face, but it's my experience that we so easily forget how God has been there for us in the most trying of times and we tend to panic all over again when we face the next giant... when David slew Goliath he said "Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God." (1 Sam17:36)
David did not forget the times God delivered him from danger and in fact it built his faith to face Goliath.

May we not forget all God has done for us in 2013 as we enter into 2014... may all he has done for us spur us on in faith to face all that 2014 has in store for us. May we be filled with a sense of gratitude and take great risks for the Kingdom of God! It's the small ways that we live out this attitude of gratitude that makes all the difference to the world we live in.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”


― Mother Teresa

 May Eph 3:14-21 be your experience in the new year

Have a blessed and exciting 2014!

Blessings! Derek

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Life Lived in Fear...

Wow! It's been ages since I have posted something on by Blog... A while back I watched the movie "Australia", I cant remember much of the movie but what I do remember is the motto of the film company that produced the movie, it was “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.” It made quite an impact on me...

There is a lot of truth in that quote, many things hold us back from realising our dreams in life such as finances, the season of life you are in, practical limitations, etc. But I feel that one of the 'biggies' that holds us back is fear. It seems it doesn't take much for people to live in fear these days. The media thrives on bad news that breeds fear in people... increasing levels of crime, unemployment and so much more adds to the dilemma.

 Coming back to the motto; “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived”, fear will get in the way and stop us pursuing new ventures in our lives. Take for example the spies that had to check out the promised land (Numbers 13 & 14) they came back saying "no can do!", they saw all that God promised would be there but they allowed their fear to give them a whole bunch of reasons why they could not take the land as God promised they could. Only Joshua and Caleb stayed positive... they saw everything the others saw, the fortified cities and the 'giants' however they did not feel like 'grasshoppers' like the others did and their response in Numbers 14:5 was “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”

 If we allow fear to rule our lives we will live only half a life, we will miss out on many opportunities God has in store for us. How do we deal with the fears we have? I don't want to give some quick answers here but one way of dealing with them is to write them down, then speak with someone you feel safe with and together work out what of the fears are rational fears and which are irrational... the irrational ones are easier to deal with once they are out in the open because they look a lot smaller once we expose them than they do in our minds. The rational fears can be worked on by working out what triggers them and why they seem to block our progress in life (example: fearing the future; look back over your life and see how God brought you through difficult times when at the time you thought there would be no tomorrow).

I have learnt (I have faced many fears in my life), and continue to learn, the only way to tackle your fears is to face them head-on. It's not always easy but the alternative is worse. Thanks for reading my ramblings on this, if anything, I hope it inspires you to draw a line in the sand, face your fears and live more than just half a life.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Leaving the Cave

Its been a while since I have posted something to my blog, my apologies. I have recently been reflecting on David in the cave of Adullam (see 1Sam 22). David escaped to the cave and was joined by family members and those who were in distress, in debt or discontented, not a group you would expect to get much encouragement from. In fact David himself was in distress (see Ps.142)and needing to hear "what God is going to do for me" (1Sam 22:3). For defense he had the sword of Goliath and a motley bunch of followers. They chose David as their leader in spite of the fact that he himself was down and not feeling too strong at the time ("my spirit grows faint within me" - Ps. 142:3 "I am in desperate need" - vs 6) but someone once said "you can trust a leader that walks with a limp". David could identify with those that gathered in the cave with him.
The Cave was their safe place, a place of refuge, a place of preparation. But in order for David to fulfill the purposes of God in his generation (Acts 13:36) he had to leave the cave. In order for some of the distressed around him to become the 'mighty men of David', they had to leave the cave. The cave was not their destination but rather a stop over on the way.
As I reflected on this, I realized how often I have wanted the safety of the cave to be the destination, I wanted the time of 'licking my wounds' in a safe place to not end... leaving the cave means facing your fears, leaving the cave means being vulnerable again, the very things that drove David and those with him to the cave could happen again... BUT they could not stay in the cave forever, in order for David to become king (fully) he had to get out and take risks again, he had to get out and face his fears, face opposition and live out the purpose God had for his life.
Living out Gods purpose for our lives is not a safe thing, it is a life of risk taking, of stepping out and 'taking a hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken a hold of me' (Phil 3:12).
As David stepped out, previously distressed, in debt, discontented people found purpose. Although you cant have one without the other, we must not confuse preparation with purpose... sometimes as believers we want to stay in preparation our whole lives, never feeling confident to step out, going from conference to conference and seminar to seminar without actually putting any of what we are prepared for into practice.
My encouragement to you is to leave the cave and like the mighty men of David, grow in your God given purpose.
God bless you in this adventure called life

Friday, January 7, 2011

today

I don't know about you but my life is marked by many missed opportunities. I dont beat myself up about them but I do try to learn by them.
My Mother moved to Cape Town which at the time was 800km away from where we lived, she bought a sleeper couch so that we could be comforatble when visiting her over the Christamas and New Year period. I phoned her a week before to say we did not have the petrol money to visit but would visit over easter the next year. Two weeks later we found ourselves rushing to Cape Town after receiving a message that my mother was in hospital and not expected to live much longer... on the way to Cape Town we got the news that she had passed away.
Now we had legitimate reasons for not visiting earlier but we had to find the money to go to my moms funeral and we did. It saddens me that I missed the opportunity to enjoy some time with her for the last time before she passed away, I suppose one thinks our loved ones will always be there and we cant on the other hand live in a fear of them dying BUT we can show we love and appreciate them today, while we can.

When I look back on missed opportunities its often insignificant, short term activities that have robbed me (in hindsight) of meaninful opportunities to build lasting relationships and memories, its also that meaniful opportuities often take effort and money to accomplish and so get overlooked.
I am going through my present day relationships with family and friends and I am asking God to give me a fresh appreciaition for all the loving relayionships he has surrounded me with.
Last night I wanted to go down to the beach (5km away) to watch the sunset, instead I worked on getting my PC to work properly... stupid!
I suppose there are some opportunities in life we will miss for very legitimate reasons but I want to make an effort to show my family and friends I appreciate them while I can. The Bible says we must encourage each other while today is still called today, in other words we must not procrastinate (I constantly have to work on this).

I love the idea of a living will, you dont leave a bunch of stuff for your family to fight over one day when you die, you enjoy what you have with them while you live. My kids will not inherit a bunch of money someday but they do have memories of travelling all over the world. Those trips were done on a shoestring budget but they have created in my family memories that no one can take away, a living will and testament of time spent on adventures with Mom and Dad.

Not sure if this post is at all usefull or inspiring, it may just be me airing my thoughts but let me leave you with one last question: is there someone you care for that you have not seen or corresponded with in a long time? Why not make a decision to contact them right now while today is still called today...

Monday, November 29, 2010

thankfulness

Herewith some of my thoughts on being thankful...
Americans have just celebrated 'Thanksgiving', as believers we need to be celebrating 'thanksgiving' continually. Eph 5:20 says; "always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
When we think about it, we have so much to be grateful for, so much to thank God for.

I used to love throwing 'pity parties' but they are not the best parties especially for those who have to live with you or work with you. At a pity party you dont hear the words thank you or I'm grateful, you dont hear any laughter and the from the centre of the party the future always looks bleak.
Once the pity party was over and I was through feeling sorry for myself, I realised that with all the energy I expended in the 'woe is me' mode, it did not move me foward one inch!
So what am I trying to say? I have realised lately that I have a lot to be thankful for, that when I expend my energy on developing an 'attitude of grattitude' I move forward in life, the more I give thanks to God, the more I see to be thankful for!
I am faced with some big challenges in the new year, but I am surrounded by a loving family, great friends and a God who says he would never leave me, I am grateful for these things! I am grateful that God has spared me and given me the life to face another day.
I don't want to wait till I am old to live my life to the full, I want to make the most of every opportunity today and in that to be thankful.
I have met some people through the course of my life that had so little but were so thankful, it never used to make sense to me but I have begun to realise that the people with thankful hearts are also the people with the most joyful hearts...
I learnt from those people that we did not have to have a lot to be thankful, we just have to be thankful for what we have.
"Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ"... let that be our motto for the new year, let's develop an attitude of grattitude and let's not give an ear to those who would invite you to a pity party, stay where the laughter is, stay where the words thank you are heard, stay where the future is in God's hands.
May God give you eyes to see what you can be thankful for in this life and may you cultivate a thankful heart on a daily basis that will become contageous and have a postive affect on those around you!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

rebuilding what the enemy has torn down

I realise that there are many people that are taking strain at this time, many feel that all they have to work with in their lives is rubble and because of that they are not inspired to take stock of their lives and begin to re-build what has been torn down.
For many its not a case of everything falling down around them in one go but its rather a case of waking one morning to the realisation that life as they have known it is no longer there and in its place there is a pile of rubble that one has to plough through month after month, year after year.
I know this sounds very sombre yet it is the reality for many, Christians and non- Christians alike.

So whats the answer? I don't believe there is a 'one answer fits all' and that there are '3 easy steps to rebuilding' although I do believe that every rebuild should start with a plan regardless of how simple that plan is to begin with. Hope returns when we put one planned footstep in front of another rather than giving up and having 'life happen to you'.

I am at a place of 'taking stock' of my life and have drawn some inspiration from the life of Nehemiah and will share it with you in the hope that it at least gives you a starting point to rebuilding, a point where you say 'so far and no further!' It is time for change - the official slogan for the FIFA 2010 world cup was 'Ke Nako. Celebrate Africa's Humanity'... Ke Nako is Sotho for 'It's time', well I believe that it is time and time to get to that place again where we can take stock, have a plan and rebuild so that we can celebrate life again.

Inspiration from Nehemiah:

To save space I will just quote the verses and you can go look them up...

In the book of James ( 5:13) it says; 'Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.' (Italics mine).

In the book of Nehemiah we see that Nehemiah did exactly that after receiving news that the walls of Jerusalem were down and the gates were burnt, that all that remained to build with was rubble (Neh 1:3).
He sat down and wept and then it goes on to say 'For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.'
It's okay to mourn over what life used to be like but we cant stay there... are you in trouble? Pray. Nehemiah's first response was to approach God.

The next thing Nehemiah did was to approach the King for help and even in asking for help he continued to pray that what he would ask for was in line with God's plan for the task at hand (2:4-5).

He then went on to take stock of the situation so that he knew exactly what he was dealing with (2:13). It is at this point where many give up, in fact many never even get to this point because our human nature does not enjoy facing reality when that reality means difficult hard work ahead. I know that I have often procrastinated at this point hoping that everything will just come right by itself or that I would wake one morning to find that God has sorted everything out for me. This approach breeds denial and denial is an enemy to rebuilding.

Once Nehemiah had brought his situation before God, approached the king for leave to go to the ruins and face reality and had taken stock of the situation, the rebuilding began. I think that what he told those that were going to help build are words we need to hear today: "You see the trouble we are in: "Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace" (2:17).
Feelings of shame and disgrace are often a deterrent to facing reality and starting to rebuild. We feel ashamed for allowing our lives to get to the point of rubble even if much of it did not have to do with our own actions (eg. losing your employment, the economy, etc.). We need to counteract that with rebuilding in spite of what brought us to a place of rubble.

It's important to note that no rebuilding plan comes without difficulties or opposition. Not everyone will be happy for you when you tackle the process, Nehemiah faced opposition (4:10-15) many times and each time came up with a plan that would fill the gaps where the enemy had found access. He also continued to pray to God and encourage the people. He also continued to take stock of the situation as the rebuilding developed (4:14).
The enemy tried to put fear into the people at a point where the people were tired but Nehemiah's response was "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes" (4:14b).
He encouraged them to not forget that God was with them and that they were not just doing this for themselves but for their families and their homes... good reason to stand up and fight!

In chapter 5 we see that in the midst of the rebuilding Nehemiah encouraged generosity and help for the poor. When we are in the process of rebuilding, even when there still seems to be a lot of rubble still around us, we must not forget to be generous, not forget that there are others that are in a worse place than we are (even though it may not feel like that at the time).

The wall was rebuilt (Neh. 6:15) and their enemies became afraid and lost their self-confidence "because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God."

So let's draw inspiration from Nehemiah and begin rebuilding... no pile of rubble is too big for God, no life to far gone for his hope to penetrate.

Ke Nako - it is time!

PS: As I enter a rebuilding process, I would love to hear from you with regards to your rebuilding process so that we can share our experiences and encourage one another and pray for each other. Let's take the first step today and pray!