Tuesday, June 21, 2011
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
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
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
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!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Our reason from moving was that we felt God prompting us to plant a church in the George area.
When doing something like this, the question arises as to whether we are equipped for such a task, will we be able to do what we feel God has called us to do?
Gideon was faced with a similar problem, he was called on by God to go and defeat the Midianites... he was not a military man, in fact his response to the request was "But Lord, " Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." (see Judges 6:15). He had good reason not to take on such a calling, he simply did not feel qualified, have you ever felt under qualified for a task you were faced with, I have.
So the logical plan of action would have been to make a fighting man out of Gideon, send him to do some basic training in weaponry, toughen him up, teach him some leadership skills (which he would need as it seemed he would be promoted from a new recruit to general in one step!).
However God does not operate within the parameters of our logic and his reply to Gideons self disqualification was "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together."
Gideon was not going to fight for the Lord but with the Lord! There is an important difference there... God would go with him. I have begun to realise that we don't work for God but with God.
Go in the strength that you have
Gideons speech of disqualification followed this instruction of the Lord... 'go in the strength that you have' (vs 14)... he was, as we gather from his reply, not feeling very strong at the time. He went on to describe just how weak and small he felt, so how could he save Israel with such credentials (not a great CV for a general)... there would be no military training, no boot camp, no fancy weaponry (a torch and and a trumpet), no great army (300 strong) all that was required of him was to go in the strength that he had because God was with him.
So often we disqualify ourselves because we look at what we don't have instead of looking at what we do have, remember Jesus telling the disciples to feed the multitude and they immediately looked at what they did not have. But when presenting Jesus with a little boy's lunch, Jesus took what they had broke it and blessed it and fed the multitude.
Again we often look at our lack of strength but fail to see the great power of God, we look at our limitations but fail to see God's limitlessness.
So the secret is we are called to use what we have and work with God, he will supply the rest.
How many opportunities have we missed in life because we concentrated on ourselves instead of on God? I think I have missed plenty. It's in obedience to God that we begin to experience the adventures of God, its in obedience to Him that we begin to experience a life we have read about in books. These adventures are not for a chosen few, they are prepared for all the children of God no matter how unqualified we feel.
Are you faced with a seemingly impossible task? I hope these thoughts I have written here will help you embark on an adventure of a lifetime! Or perhaps it will just help you get through the next step in your life, help you face tomorrow.
I know that I have to be reminded of these truths every time I am faced with a new venture, but I have been encouraged by looking at the example of Gideon, I pray the same for you.
Friday, December 11, 2009
This is after Elijah has just prayed down fire from heaven as well as rain... he has just come off a spiritual high but he hears Jezebel is after his blood and he runs for his life!
Its in this place of hiding, in the place where he had drifted from his original calling that God asks Elijah "what are you doing here?"
Elijah answers; "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."
Then comes the amazing account of the great wind, earthquake, fire and finally a gentle whisper, and Elijah experiences the presence of God, and again he is asked by God, "what are you doing here?"
After he repeats his reason for being there, the LORD gives him instruction starting with "go back the way that you came..."
God was reminding Elijah of what he had signed up for in the first place
business as usual
The end of a year is a good time for us to re-evaluate where we are with God and to remember what we signed up for.
It's also a good time to evaluate whether we have in any way drifted from what God called to... It's easy to fall into a 'business as usual' life that is safe and doesn't cause the boat to rock too much. A kind off 'flying under the radar'...with all the stresses dished out freely in today's world, we can also get to the same place Elijah was at when he sat under a broom tree and said 'I have had enough!Take my life...'
Elijah was feeling extremely sorry for himself but the response he gets from God is 'what are you doing here?' God also shows Elijah that he is not always present in ways that we expect him to be... just when we start to feel we are all alone in this Christian walk, we sense God's presence in a gentle whisper. I don't know about you but I often look for God in the dramatic, big, earth shattering stuff and as a result, can miss him in the stillness of a gentle whisper.
Just like in the case of Elijah, God doesn't want to leave us at this place. God has called us to more in his Kingdom, the christian walk is not designed to be 'safe' rather it is an adventure where obedience to God can take us into all kinds of situations where we can make a difference through the power of the Holy Spirit. God called us to more... and he promised that in all of this, He will be with us!
go back the way you came
So what do we do when we feel like running away like Elijah did? What do we do when we have drifted from what God called us to? What do we do when we choose to fly under the radar?
This is what I have done (many times through the years);
The first thing that brought a change of direction, a restoring of what I signed up for, was to honestly answer the question 'what am I doing here?'
To own the decisions I made that caused me to fear, to drift and to hide. When I have been owned these things I stop being the victim and can begin to recognise again that God is with me and that in fact he has never left me.
The next step is 'to go back the way you came'. I have had to face my fears, face the things that brought me to the place of hiding. It is in facing the giants I encountered on the journey, the ones that caused me to 'run for my life' that I have experienced the power of God's presence again, it is in doing this that our character is developed and that we are strengthened.
I found that in 'going back the way I came', I had my passion for the things of God restored, I got a taste for the 'hill country where the giants live' again and I have once again been able to face life with confidence
Are you at a place where you have lost the edge to your calling? Have you drifted away from the adventure of following God off the map? Have you, like Elijah, 'had enough?'
Then I would encourage you to take some time out and to answer the question 'what are you doing here [insert your name here]?'
I pray you will once again experience God's awesome presence, I pray that the adventure of living a life of obedience to God will be yours again, I pray that you will fearlessly follow God wherever he takes you. I would love to hear about your experiences
God bless you, have a great Christmas and may 2010 be a year of Kingdom adventure for you and your family.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Loneliness is an emotional state in which a person experiences a powerful feeling of emptiness and isolation, of being cut off, disconnected from, and alienated towards other people. The lonely person may find it difficult or even impossible to have any form of meaningful human contact. The first recorded use of the word "lonely" was in William Shakespeare's Coriolanus.
There are many lonely people on this earth, people that fit the definition above... I've been there and its not a good place to be... I worked with lots of people, had friends and yet still felt incredibly alone. It had more to do with what was happening on the inside of me rather than on the circumstances around me.
In the grip of loneliness I even began to think that I did not have a need for others in my life because they wouldn't understand anyway, and even if they did they would not be able to help anyway. These kind of thoughts would lead to inner turmoil and anger and caused me to become even more alienated from others in my life. This often led to self-pity and so the hole got deeper and deeper. The deeper the hole got the less 'light' I saw and even the promises of God in the scriptures began to seem vague.
I couldn't stay there though and so began a journey (sometimes a very slow one) of getting out of the hole. It is not a '3-step to freedom' or 'pull yourself up by your boot laces' approach but rather a journey of firstly being renewed in my relationship with God, I needed to know he was there, I knew he was there for others but did not always believe it for myself. In that renewed and being renewed relationship I began to see the value again of people and their role in my life... in a sense I came to a place in my healing where I realised again 'I need people in my life' I could not do this journey alone. One of the symptoms of my loneliness was the thinking that I did not need anyone else I could do it alone!
So I needed God and I needed others! I suppose I was a bit like the lost son who comes to his senses and remembers what home was like.
Psalm 68:4-6 Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds -- his name is the LORD-- and rejoice before him. (5) A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. (6) God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. [NIV]
These verses show God is on our side, he sets the lonely into families... he is in the 'setting the prisoner free' business. I could not do it alone, I had to take the risk and tell someone what I was going through, the risk of being known, as I did that each step got easier.
I don't say that I have arrived in this area, it is still a journey and there are times I need to fight off the feelings of loneliness but I am beginning to realise (sometimes ever so slowly) that God is bigger than my situation and that he cares. I also then began to realised that there are other human beings on this earth that care as well.
'God sets the lonely in families', we need each other... we need to appreciate those God has brought across our path... we need to make right with those we are at war with while we can... we need to thank God for family... we need to not give up on the lonely.
Take some time out to thank God for others he has added to your life, and take the step of trusting that God is big enough to help you climb out of the hole of loneliness... Are you in that place right now? Tell someone.
I hope these ramblings on loneliness bring some light to those who are feeling alone... don't give up, I have come close to that in my life at times, I know the temptation is there... but God is more in pursuit of you than you are of him, take the first step.
God bless you in your journey... the Bible is full of others that have walked the same road and the common theme is 'there is hope'.