Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Church Definitions

What's the definition of "church"?

It was great to see Mark & Rach Farrin - very dear friends from the UK,  a few weeks ago down here after so long, and it got me thinking about the old gang. "Church" for me wasn't (and isn't) an event once a week in a set location, it's having deep fellowship with a few individuals who challenge, love and respect you enough to say to your face "You're wrong" as much as they'll say "You're right".

Sitting in a building once a week won't make e a Christian any more than sitting in a garage will make me a car. I get daily fellowship with a few people who speak into my life and I speak into theirs - it's real, and not always comfortable. That's Church to me.

Intimate. Personal. Often uncomfortable, but with an unmistakeable undercurrent of Love behind it.

I've been to big churches. Went regularly for several weeks, into months. Then I stopped without telling anyone. After a year nobody had called. My absence was unnoticed.

I've been in small churches. One week I was half an hour late and someone stepped out of the service to phone me and ask if I was ok.

The relationships were different. The small group I was in in Totnes was called TQ9, based on the area code for the town. There were about 25 - 30 in total, and we had clicques like any group. Within the group there were people I was very close to and others not so much. But we spoke into each others lives. We knew one another's stories. We could see by looking at someone if they were troubled.

That was fellowship. That was Church. We met together in each other's homes. We prayed, rejoiced, grieved, laughed and played together. Fellowship. We sharpened one another. Made each other strong.

Now I have only intermittent contact with most of them. A fleeting facebook message that tells me nothing. Once these people were my closest confidantes. They knew when I got engaged. They helped me through the break up. I walked away when my dad was dying - I didn't want their pity and my pride got in the way. I blamed them, but it was me who distanced myself. I stopped taking their calls. My fellowship crumbled because I didn't maintain it.

I went into a dark place, deep depression and 4 suicide attempts later God placed a new fellowship around me that would lift me up and set my feet back on the Rock. They dogged me and hassled me into loving them. Most of them had known me over a year before they heard me laugh or saw me smile. But they Loved me anyway.

Again, it was a faithful few who chose to love me God's way. I am alive today because of their Faithfulness. Dave, Tina, Mark, Rachel, Martin, Louise. Ok, Mark and Rach knew me, but the others just happened. And God Blessed me.

Now in a dark place again there is one person I'll not name here but she knows who she is who, more than anyone else here outside the family has become a strong member of my fellowship. Not because she had to, but because she chose to. We speak into one another's lives regularly, sharing what God is doing.

The Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our Testimony. And slowly we are both seeing the enemy beaten back in our lives by simply worshipping God by doing nothing more than sharing what His love is doing for us and our families. Giving Him the Glory that is His and being humble enough to use the gifts He gives us to speak out to one another.

My church is not where I sit on a Sunday. It's where I have fellowship and feeding. The two are not mutually exclusive, but they are not one and the same either.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

The Cross behind the Manger

It's that time of year again. Tinsel and ridiculous images everywhere portraying the most remarkable event of all time: the incarnation of God Himself.

I get angry at this time of year.

Very angry.

In South Africa we get all the signs: Eid Mubarak! Blessed Diwali! Happy Hannukah! Holiday Greetings!

Wait a minute... "Holiday Greetings!"? What about Christmas?

Shops will use any euphamism they can to avoid the word Christmas.

This year hasn't been an easy one. My friends and family that I care about most have suffered loss and heartache, which makes the Cross behind the Manger more important.

The Christmas story isn't a cute fuzzy tale to warm the heart. It's the beginning of the most violent act of Love God ever did for His children. He took on the form of the ones He came to save. He reached out to us on our level.

Hands that had created the Heavens and Earth had to be taught to feed himself. His nappy had to be changed. He became utterly human, tempted as we are tempted. He would experience stress, hunger, grief, joy. Just like us.

He was persecuted from the day of His birth. The mission starts with genocide. Joseph and his family have to flee to Egypt to escape the slaughter of children Herod orders.

The stable-cave of Bethlehem is replaced with a life on the run. By 12 he is back in Jerusalem, understanding and talking with the leaders of the synagogues and Temple. Amazing them with his insights. Sowing the seeds of Hope into their hearts only to heav Satan sow envy and hatred alongside. How many of the younger leaders He spoke to then called for His murder 20 years later?

The purpose of the manger is the Cross and the Empty Tomb.

Not presents.

Not a cute story.

Victory over Death. Salvation from Hell. Restoration of Relationship with the Creator Incarnate.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Personality vs Character

Ok it's not original, Steven Covey said it first, but we live in a world that venerates Personality over Character today.

God puts Character first though.

Character develops over time. It is forged through experience and often hard knocks. Our decisions shape our characters. Personality is like a mask. We put it on as we leave the house and take it off as we get home. My GP refers to it as "Eleanor Rigby syndrome".

There are examples of the Character vs Personality through Scripture. King Saul had Personality. David had Character. Pharaoh had Personality, Moses had Character.

Having Character doesn't mean doing everything right. It means owning our decisions and choices. Saul tried to blame everyone else. He blamed Samuel for arriving late. He blamed the people for pressuring him. He passed the buck as far as he could, and it cost him everything. He was a Personality leader. The people admired him. He was tall, well built and good looking. He went out with the Prophets and spoke out for God. He led God's people in battle.

David committed adultery with Bathsheba, then had her husband killed to hide his behaviour. Adultery. Murder. Yet God describes him as a Man after God's Heart. Why? Because when the Prophet Nathan comes to David and faces him with his sin, David acknowledges it and repents. He throws himself down before God and weeps over his actions. He owned his choices. He lived up to his Character.

Moses started with Personality. He, Like Paul later, became Character. He owned up to his past mistakes and led the Exodus, risking his own life going before Pharaoh to deliver God's message. After living as a Prince he commits murder and flees to the desert, where he allows God to shape his Character. On his return to Egypt his Personality has been rebuilt into Godly Character by spending time with God. Pharaoh on the other hand is self-obsessed and determined to be the embodiment of his petty-minded deification in Egyptian culture. Even when he summons Moses and Aaron to ask them to pray to get the frogs removed from Egypt, his pride and Personality get in the way. The land of Egypt is overrun by frogs and he summons Moses to ask God to remove them. When Moses asks him 'And Moses said to Pharaoh, “Accept the honor of saying when I shall intercede for you, for your servants, and for your people, to destroy the frogs from you and your houses, that they may remain in the river only.”' his response is driven by his personality - "So he said, “Tomorrow.” And he said, “Let it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God". (Exodus 8:9 & 10).

Today we have nations led by Presidents and Prime Ministers who are elected on massive majorities, but their behaviour is less than admirable. They are modern Pharaohs. When faced with their crimes they try to hide by distraction. Then they use what has become known as "spin" to cover up and misrepresent the facts to distract the population from . Sex is redefined by Bill Clinton. Marriage by Jacob Zuma. The concept of Character was eclipsed by Personality. Robert Mugabe started with noble principles. His personality got him support initially, but after so long in power his Character has come through and he turned one of the wealthiest nations in Africa into one of the poorest. It remains to be seen what will happen in Egypt.

Leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Desmond Tutu all displayed Character in their leadership. They led by example and acknowledged their mistakes. They lived their character day in and day out (and still do in some cases).

Personality is selfish, Character is selfless. A Character leader seeks to serve, a Personality leader promotes himself.

Jesus and the disciples lived by Character. Paul started as a Personality, then God knocked him off his donkey and opened his eyes to the importance of Character. He humbled himself and although a leader in the Jews he went and sat to let God build his Character.

He still wants to do the same for us.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

AAAAGH! A Wealthy Christian!

There's a lot of negative stuff been bandied about regarding Christians and money. More experienced people than me have argued this subject and been put down for it. Less experienced have as well.

Young ministers are gently told by their listeners that they will learn the facts with experience. Older teachers are accused of being led astray by pride or greed or envy.

But scripture tells us there is a purpose to prosperity.

A purpose devised by God himself - to establish His Covenant with His People. "Establish" may be better interpreted as "prove". Proof to the people who didn't know Him. Proof to the Faithful of his goodness and provision.

"But you shall [earnestly] remember the Lord your God, for it is He Who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day" Deuteronomy 8:18 (Amplified)

Given this statement, what makes us think financial prosperity is bad? Yes, there are many corrupt people who are wealthy, but wealth and prosperity are not the same thing. Wealthy men can be owned completely by a spirit of Poverty. They are so money-focussed that they will do anything and everything to hold onto that money. Their drive is to preserve and gather for themselves.

A Prosperous man, conversely, gives. As a result, God places wealth into his hands for redistribution. He becomes a reservoir into which God pours a harvest of resources; financial, physical, whatever the area in which he is blessed. Sometimes it's time. Sometimes it's money. It may even be compassion. He prospers in all areas as a means of confirming the presence of God in his life.

Abraham knew God. Joseph knew God. David knew God. Their prosperity was in multiple areas. They walked with God. They used their relationship with God to draw others to God. Abraham became an entire nation. Joseph saved the greatest civilisation of the day. David gave the largest individual share to build the Temple completed by Solomon. Their prosperity, whilst ultimately financial in manifestation, was an expression of God's presence and Covenant with them in their lives.

Somehow having money has become synonomous with being Godless. Whilst worshipping finances and seeking them for their own sake is clearly opposed to everything the Bible teaches, having financial wealth in and of itself is no more inherently evil than having nothing. Both cause issues for a believer's life. Excess is not what God wants for us, but neither is lack.

Each believer must walk his path with God. We need finances to share the Gospel, and we need clothes and food to live. God knows this, and His prosperity manifests in our lives how we need it in order to demonstrate His covenant with us. He gives us power to create wealth, and allows us to ask so we may receive, but the asking must not be from selfish intentions, but simply and in faith - inspired by Him to do His work.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

No Mystery in Unity

I had the priviledge of being at a wedding yesterday. My wife's cousin married his fiancee and they have begun a journey that will change their lives forever.

It put me in mind of the changes that I've seen in the last ten years I've been with my wife, courting for a year, and married for a little over nine now.

I wouldn't change my decision to ask her for anything. It's not been the easiest option, but I'd not want to be anywhere else.

Together we've walked this amazing journey that has seen us encounter joy and pain, loss and heartache, happiness and tragedy. Most of all, however, we've lived with Hope, Love and Faith as our companions.

We've walked through fire - life-threatening illness for both of us - still an ongoing battle - financial prosperity and crushing loss from medical bills. Through it all, Jesus has supported us. The support has come in many forms from many places externally, but through it all there has been a constant theme within the relationship.

Not once have we both hit bottom at the same time. God has aways given one of us the strength to lift the other - even when we couldn't see it until later.

It's 18 months since our lives really changed forever in a way I won't go into now, but in that time He's brought new friends into our life together who have themselves experienced hardships. We've been able to live as a true fellowship.

There's a unity between us. We are united not by our troubles, but by our Hope. Not by the hardships, but by Faith. Not by the bitterness of the past, but by Love carrying us forwards.

The writer to the Hebrews says not to abandon the gathering of the believers. More and more recently I've realised that isn't necessarily a denominational church as such, but rather getting together and sharing our lives on an intimate level with a few close friends.

I've not been a regular attendee of a denominational church since I left Torquay in 2003. I've not given up meeting with believers though. Family and friends who are born-again who we share our Faith with, teaching one another and sharing testimony.

I went to a few denominational churches over the last few years. Even a few house groups. Good people in them, but I felt superfluous. I wasn't necessary to the life of the organisation. It seems to me that the church isn't meant to be an organisation as much as it is an organism. An organisation will continue if parts are missing without change or noticing. Cut a piece off an organism and it stops functioning the way it was designed to.

My fellowship is small right now, but I know the people in it intimately and I trust them enough to let them know me. There's a unity between us. It defines us. There's no mystery in it.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Bucket List

An acquaintance of mine recently published on his facebook status that he was one step closer to fulfilling his Bucket List.

There's nothing wrong with that in principle, except it was the subject of his comment that made me start to think about it.

His Bucket List item was to see a rock group play live.

I thought about this for the last couple of days. It bothered me.

I have a bucket list. I didn't think of it it those terms when I was younger, but it's what it is. Places I want to go, things I want to do during my life. It never occurred to me to put a concert on the list.

My list includes seeing Everest with my own eyes, swimming on the Great Barrier Reef and exploring the Pyramids in Giza. I want to get a pilot's license. I already saw Lions, Elephants & Rhino in their natural habitat, which was on the list.

The top of my list is simple. I want to raise a family, be a good father and loving husband to my wife and children.

My highest aspiration is to walk a closer walk with Christ. Daily.

To be so drawn into Him and His presence that I see through His eyes, feel with His heart, and do what He would do in my place. Heal the sick. Cast out Demons. Raise the dead.

I want to do what He did. To live my life wholeheartedly for God.

That's the whole point, after all. To live - really live - we need to be one with Christ. Man fully alive and united with God through Christ more each day.

So every day I get closer to completing the only thing on my bucket list that really matters.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Illogical Disbelief

Over the last few years I have seen many of my friends and people I care about fall away from their beliefs in Christ. Almost without exception this has been when a storm has come into their life, and the scream goes out "how can God be real if this can happen to me?"

It amazes me that people can have this attitude.

If I take some time here I can list some, not all - that would take too much space, of the storms I have had to endure: my brother's death, watching several members of my family succomb to assorted types of cancer, close friends dying in accidents, chronic illness, my own wife being seriously ill for over 2 years and almost dying 3 times as a direct result.

Psychologists produced a list many years ago of the most traumatic events a person can endure, and gave a corresponding figure to each one, the concept being that if you look at the table and add up the numbers of the events that it would give a total which would indicate the likelihood of depression and mental illness through stress if your total was above a certain number in the preceding 12 months. With a psychologist I went through this list and we stopped counting when my total was 3 times the figure for "highly probable" of a serious stress-induced mental disorder.

Clouds gathered over me, and I was buffetted by the storms in my life, but it never occurred to me that God may not exist.

The Bible clearly says we will experience problems in this world. Jesus says so in John's Gospel. He spends 3 entire chapters talking about it, and how to deal with it (John 14, 15 and 16).

Yet so many professing to be Christians fall apart when adversity comes.

In the parable we generally call the parable of the sower, Jesus talks about the way people receive the seed. It would be more accurate to call it the parable of the soils, because the sower doesn't change, neither does the seed.

The sower sows the seed, but the nature of the soil determines how it grows. Specifically, Jesus warns of people who hear the message, but although it grows in them, other issues either choke it or they never let it take a deep root so when troubles come they have no place to draw strength.

Over the course of my Christian life I've had some friends who have fallen at slight adversity, and some who make my life experiences look like a day at the beach with a picnic and yet have held fast, unwavering in their conviction.

There is a huge difference between going through adversity and choosing to stay there. I know victims of rape and child abuse who have gone both ways, drawing closer to God and running away from Him. Financial struggles have dogged some friends with the same effect.

This life is a fire. It melts us. As we move through, God turns up the heat to mould us to His shape, like a master sword-smith melting and welding to produce a blade that will be useful, enough spring to withstand battle but hard enough to hold a sharpened edge. The Japanese sword makers, the masters of their trade, only make a few swords each year so they can be certain the blades are perfect. They must have the correct blend of steel and the impurities need to be removed by fire.

God refines us the same way. We go through the fire and are melted. He removes things from us as the fire intensifies, and like a sword-smith adds carbon to strengthen the steel, he pours Himself into us to give us strength for the battle.

Life is a fire, and it will melt you. But to say because of adversity that God does not exist is like questioning the existence of the sun because of heavy cloud cover. Nobody in their right mind would do that, yet so many question God's existence when faced with a Spiritual cloud.

There's just no logic in that!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Love (September 2012)

The last few weeks have been difficult, but I've seen love demonstrated in some amazing ways through them.

It's hard to write about specifics, as the people involved are people I care about a great deal and I don't want to break confidences.

I'll start with a simple one.

My wife and I reached our ninth wedding anniversary this week. Over the nine years we've been married, and a little over ten we've known one another, we have been through some hard times. Sickness, brokenness, pain and loss have dogged us physically. We've had problems in these areas both pyhsically and mentally. We've both had to spend time in hospital where we nearly died. We separated briefly due to emotional brokenness, physical and mental pain has been a constant for us both and we have had loss, financial and personal.

Yet through this there's always been something stronger. Love has carried us. Something beyond Human love had kept us together. God's love has been demonstrated to us through our family and friends in spite of the circumstances we've faced. We've had love shown to us in ways beyond the wildest imaginings of our hopes. God's love has been shown to us through incredible generosity. Support has been given us without holding back from places we've never imagined it would come from. Places we expected to find support it didn't come. That's not how God works. The unexpected is where God works. Walking on water, calming storms, feeding multitudes with a lunchbox. That's what He offered us. That's what we received.

I love my wife, she loves me, and we both love Christ more.

Two people I care about, probably more than they know, were assaulted in the last month. I wasn't there. I heard about one through an email, and the other through prayer.

God told me how much He loves one friend, and reminded me how much I can love at the same time. I pray for my friends. In a little under 9 years I've not really had any revelations for any of them. This was different. God took me to a specific scripture not once, but 3 times as I prayed for this friend. He spelt out to me what had happened and how He wanted me to use the gift He gave me to help bring healing.

It takes courage to speak out sometimes. I was scared to, but when I did it was incredible. The friendship has been deepened, ties strengthened, and a deeper and more substantial love has been shown in all directions. My wife and I have been Blessed by this friendship more than can be written here. We've been given the opportunity to love and be loved in return. Love speaks in spite of fear. It works in spite of circumstance. It heals in spite of pain.

There are many ways I can speak of how God's love has been shown to me, but it's recently that I remembered, or more accurately was reminded, that He wants to show it through me as well.

I speak my mind. Sometimes to the point of being blunt. I have no time for petty office politics where senior managers seek to cover their own backs when things get a little uncomfortable. It probably hampers my professional growth in my current position. I'm not happy where I am, and I make no effort to hide it. I don't care what other people think, which is a somewhat dangerous place to be, as it means I say things unexpected. I place a higher value on openness and honesty than promotion and job security. I will support my family and friends as needed because I know God will support me. I look to Him for guidance and wisdom. I seek out His people, but still the only living person whose opinion of me matters to me is my wife.

I'll speak the truth as I understand it. Without apology, and as far as possible without exception. Life's too short for anything else.

One final example of love for tonight.

I own my own business, and my wife works for me. We run it together, and the business is medical. She's a doctor and I'm a businessman.

On Thursday, our anniversary, she tried to help a dog that was knocked down outside our home. In it's pain it attacked her, biting her hands badly. Instead of a quiet evening together in front of the fire, she spent the day at hospital, having her hands treated and I had to leave my "other" job early to make sure she was ok. On Friday she saw a hand-surgeon to make sure there was no permanent damage because of the amount of pain she was in. I took her to the hospital, where she had to have rabies treatment injected into the wound-sites. Her hands were in agony.

Exhausted, we went home and tried to rest. At 11:30pm we got a call from a family concerned about the mother as she was having chest pain. Despite her own injuries, my wife got up and we went to the family's home. She fought to save the lady's life for half an hour, doing CPR with no regard to the aggravation to her own injuries. When it became apparent that her efforts were unsuccessful and the lady had passed away the most important thing became the lady's dignity. Together we moved her from the floor back into her bed, made sure she was covered and looked as peaceful as possible, then called in the family and told them as gently as possible that the lady had passed away.

Love in action - concern for the family's memory of their mother, ensuring her dignity to the last. Little gestures like covering her with a blanket and washing her face so her family would see her at peace and remember that, not the horror of watching CPR being performed.

My wife demonstrated God's love to the family by ensuring they would have as little trauma as possible at that time. We couldn't save the lady, but we could show love to the family, and respect to her.

Love is patient, kind, and does not seek to puff itself up. It's hard being in a position where you have to love someone sacrificially. It's harder not to boast about it.

God gave me opportunities to love and be loved in the last few weeks. He gave opportunities to all of us. Some we take, others we leave. Something He has shown me very clearly is that to receive Love as He would have us receive it, we need to give it as He would give it to us. Freely, honestly and generously.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Hope Retained

I have been thinking a lot about the three things Paul focusses on at the end of 1 Corinthians 13 recently, namely Faith, Hope and Love.

I looked at Faith a few months ago, and then again more recently in Faith Revisited. Hope is something I also wrote about previously, and recently I've had cause to examine the concept again.

Faith is the substance of what we hope for.


We have dreams and desires. The enemy of our souls seeks to rip those from us. He seeks to destroy hope. He prowls around like a hungry lion looking for it's prey as Peter writes.

Our lives are full of hopes. We can only hold onto them if we choose to. God gives them to us and we can choose to keep them or leave them as life goes on.

My life has been complicated since I gave my life to Christ. God gave me visions and dreams which grew into hopes. From the day I began to hope in God's way, the enemy has been trying to steal that hope.

Everyone goes through something like that as they get closer to God. I've been a Christian sine 1985. Hopes have come and grown, and the attacks trying to break them down have been relentless. I've seen it in my friends and loved ones too. They get a dream that becomes a hope, and before faith can manifest it into a reality the enemy deals a swift blow to tear it apart.

In my life I've had friends who have been through traumatic events whenever hope has come along. Sickness, assault and death have dogged their every step as they seek to move towards the hope set before them. Loss and pain have been fired at them, and me, in an attempt by the enemy to drive us away from God and the future and the hope He gives us.

And that's the key.

God places the dreams into us. He causes the hope to grow, and gives us the faith to see it manifest. But the only way to overcome the attacks the enemy throws at us is to stand. Paul writes that we should stand wearing God's armour - righteousness, faith, truth, salvation and the readiness to share the hope that is the Gospel.

In this world we will have troubles, but Jesus has overcome the world, and we can too if we lean on Him.

My future changed today. I go to bed a different man than when I woke up. My path is different than it was 12 hours ago, even 6 hours ago. We must be like the great ships of old in our life, constantly keeping our eyes fixed on the prize, and adjusting our course to stay on target.

Your future changed today, but your hope didn't. It's the Hope of Christ, built by the Faith of God for the future He calls you to.

And nothing the enemy throws at you can take it unless you choose to drop it.

By the standards I normally hold myself to, this entry is a ramble. Disjointed and almost discordant.  A very dear friend went through hell recently in their life. Another shared a part of mine and strengthened me. Opportunities came and went, but the end is still the same, and ten thousand years from now as we live with Christ - the ultimate Hope - nothing that happened today will really matter.

Maintaining hope require maintaining perspective. Good and bad happens in this world. But we are world overcomers by Christ.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Faith Revisited

Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthian Christians that 3 things are eternal. Faith, Hope and Love, Love being the greatest.

Faith is a concept we don't hear about in the correct context often. Organisations with the word in their title exploit people's needs and desires on a daily basis. So-called "faith" healers abound in a climate where desperation is a central part of daily life.

Not far from my home in Cape Town are numerous sub-economic areas. In these areas, the people are surrounded by others who are affluent. The sub-economic areas are surrounded by and border on not just affluent areas, but in some cases obscenely wealthy areas. The people living in them work in these areas, cleaning the houses, tending the gardens and washing the cars they can't afford.

There is also a lot of crime. One area has recently had it postulated that the army should be used to police the area because the gangster activity is resulting in it being overrun by drugs and violence.

In these areas there is despair.

There is a "church" on every corner, usually boasting "faith" in it's title.

The name of Faith is abused daily. Many, not all, but many of these organisations prey on the desperation of the areas. They promise health and prosperity financially if their particular organisation is supported.

Romans 10:17 says "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God". These orgaisations, and I have heard more than one personally, spend a great deal of time prior to the offering plate being passed round. Their modus operandi is that of trying to convince the listeners to trust them by bombarding them with scripture about giving, tithing and that God will reimburse with added interest. Phrases such as 'give and it will be given to you' and 'hundred-fold increase' are bandied about just before inspirational music is played and the emotions are tugged on. The result is obvious. Poor people part with money, unscrupulous businessmen - I will not call them pastors - get wealthy, then one day the organisation is gone, and the people move on to the next organisation.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Repeatedly. Hearing and hearing.

And hearing.

But the Word needs to be given accurately. Completely. Faith is not some abstract concept. It is a real and tangible thing. It is the substance of that we hope for, and the evidence of what we have not yet seen, according to Hebrews 11.

Faith is substance. It creates substance, translates it from the Spiritual world into the physical world.

God created everything we see in the physical world by speaking Faith-filled words. The Word. Even Jesus was spoken into existence - the "Word became flesh" as John puts it. All the Messianic prophecies spoken by the Old Testament prophets literally spoke Jesus into existence in this world. The spoken Word become Jesus's physical flesh.

Our faith is a gift from God, a piece of Himself. He places it into us when we accept Him so we are able to accept Him. Our relationship with Him is based on Faith. His Faith. It makes us come alive. It gives us our hopes and dreams, our desires. The Faith we experience in our relationship with Christ gives us the dreams we need to live a Godly life. To trust Him. He gives us the desires of our hearts - not earthly wants, but His own desires for our lives. He allows us to dream His dreams, to see with His vision.

It all starts with Faith. And it ends with Faith. Faith endures as long as we hold on to it. We can choose to hold onto God's Faith despite our circumstances, despite what is happening at this moment. We can choose to live with an Eternal Perspective as Paul did, not holding to this light affliction, lasting but a moment in the light of eternity. 

Faith is Eternal, everlasting. It always was and always will be there for us. We can pick it up and move with it any time. All we need to do is to look to Jesus. 

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)

Thursday, 5 July 2012


The last few days have been interesting.

I work for Discovery Health at the moment. Generally I get one or two calls in a day where I can actually make a significant difference to their lives. Sometimes I even have a caller who says something that impacts mine.

On Monday this week (July 2nd) I was transferred to a new team in the call centre. My new Team Leader is a young woman who has been transferred in from Durban. It's a smaller team, and there's an intimacy that comes with that. Monday went well. Had a long talk with her and we hit it off well.

Tuesday was good too. I am feeling positive about the new team, and although I'd still like to move departments as I originally wanted, It'd be ok to stay where I am for now as well.

Yesterday was a bit different though. I set off for what I expected to be a normal day at the office and didn't make it. As I was taking a corner near work, I hit first a painted arrow on the road, then a patch of oil, and finally a rumble strip designed to remind car drivers to slow down. Unfortunately, on a bike what happens is you begin to lose traction on damp road paint, it gets worse, and when you then hit the rumble strip, you lose all grip entirely.

So shortly after this I found myself lying face-down on tarmac, and counting my bones to make sure nothing was broken. Shoulder pain, rib pain, hip joint, split lip and seriously looking at my life from a somewhat different angle than normal.

I got up from the road and apologised to the nice man who I'd shouted at when he tried to take my helmet off. Six hours later I'd been x-rayed, ultrasounded and generally poked and prodded to find out what the problem was.

Apparently the problem was I had attacked a planet by throwing my body against it.

The planet won.

I've ridden motorbikes for some time now. I like the freedom of the wind on my face, so as I ride up this road I normally open my visor. This time I didn't. No particular reason, I just didn't. I always carry my cell phone in my left breast pocket in my leathers. Yesterday I didn't. I put it in my jeans. I've been riding with my chin-strap loose for a while. Yesterday I just had a feeling I should tighten it properly.

Little nudges. Little hints.

I had a strange feeling in myself on the approach. As I got to the previous turn-off I felt like I should take it.

A nudge. A hint.


So now, my bike is stuck awaiting repairs. Arm in a sling, likely for about 6 weeks barring a miracle (which I actually do expect), and the rest of this week off work in more pain than I'd like, but already less than I expected.

I didn't listen to all the nudges God sent me, but thankfully I heard enough of them. My helmet saved my life. Leaving the visor down saved my face. Protection.

God's hints literally saved my life. Had I listened more carefully I'd have saved the bike as well.

He wants the best for His children. God is for us. On our side. guiding if we will only listen.

Andrew Wommack says you only run into the devil ad his work when you are moving against him.

God only gives us what we can handle. What we do with it is up to us. I expect to heal quickly - faster than the doctors predict. Meanwhile I'll be reminded by the pain to listen.

God didn't cause the accident. My own mistakes did that. God didn't tear the tendons in my shoulder. Yesterday's scans showed tears in two tendons. Today's showed less damage to one and none to the other.

He gives us protection. What we need to do is listen.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

A Mighty Power

I got a reminder this week. I was reminded of just how powerful I am in Christ.

I didn't see the dead raised, or the blind see, or the lame walk.

Those are mighty works, but they are sirens to announce the real power.


It's a small word, and not popular. People have a misconception of it's meaning. We assume it means there are no longer consequences for those actions we've committed.

The real power in forgiveness is freedom. Not for the forgiven, but for the forgiver.

I'd forgotten long ago about some of the freedom I've received from forgiving in my heart the people over the years who have hurt me, either through ignorance, malice, youthful exuberence or unknowingly. The reminder came in the form of an unexpected contact from an individual I'd not heard from or given any thought to in over 20 years.

My brother was killed in an accident when I was young, and this boy reminded me of him. As a result, I took out my hurt and anger at the loss on him, attacking every time. I was a bully, just like some of the people who attacked me.

The contact was initiated by him, because he didn't clearly remember who I was until we reconnected. Once he did, he immedtately recoiled away as the memory of the hurt I'd caused hit him like a slap across the face.

I don't blame him.

I did, however, persue him - not because I felt I wanted his forgiveness for myself, but rather because of the obvious pain the memory caused him, I presume due to unforgiveness towards me.

This is an assumption based from my own experience. I carried a great deal of hurt with me for many years because the people I refused to forgive were, in my opinion, undeserving of forgiveness.

God gets to me sometimes. In my head the conversation will start with Him chatting to me like any friend. Then comes the kicker.

"Do you remember that time when this happened to you and your response was to hold on?"
"What's your point?"
"Let go."
"Huh?" (I can be pretty dumb sometimes)
"Let go."
"Like, forget about it?"
"No, let go."
"I can't heal that part of you while you're holding on to the unforgiveness towards the person who hurt you. Let go."
"You mean, forgive then?"
Silence. (God lets me think about my latest dumb question.)

This goes on for a while, then I agree and make the decision to forgive.

That's right, the decision.

Forgiveness, like true Love, is not an emotion primarily. It is a choice. We choose to forgive. After the passion of the endorphine rush of emotional love we choose true Love to make a relationship last.

We have to choose to forgive, even when we don't feel like forgiving. The first time we forgive we usually don't have a rush of warm feelings. The memory still burns in us, and we have to often re-visit the choice and make it again. And again.

And again.

Some of the people I disliked most in my youth I now correspond with regularly, and value their input in my life. Others are a work in progress. A few are labelled for review at a later time.

The point is, whenever I have reached the point of forgiveness it has left me feeling stronger and more complete. Closer to God even. Another brick in my defences is removed and replace with strength instead of imperviousness.

After corresponding for some time, there is now communication open between me and my victim - and I do not use the word lightly. My actions towards him were abhorrent to me as I am today. I asked his forgiveness, and apologised for the pain I caused him.

Why am I writing this? It's not for self-promotion, certainly. Although I can see why some people whould assume it might be. I genuinely don't care what most people think of me or what assumptions may be drawn regarding my motives.

I was humbled by the reaction to my apology. People have done less to me than I did to this person, and I have rejected their olive-branches. I am not a great man, but I have been forgiven by God through Christ.

His opinion of me and what I should do is what drives me now, sometimes through gritted teeth, to offer forgiveness as I can. Sometimes He asks and I say no. I carry the pain for longer than I need to because I refuse to just let go.

But ultimately, we all need to reach a point of strength where the only opinion that matters is His, and forgiveness comes easily from the heart, not because the offender deserves forgiving, but because the only person who actually gets hurt when we don't is ourself.

Forgive. Love. It's powerful, revolutionary and healing.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Alone Time

My wife and I recently managed to snatch a few days away. It was a much needed break for both of us. I managed to book a few nights at the cottage we spent our honeymoon in in 2003. It was an amazing experience for me.

The last year's events have been draining for both of us. Her illness and my having to deal with the changes in our lives have had an exhausting effect on us, and we needed to recharge. I managed to book the time off, and was able to contact the owners of Boggomsrus, the cottage in Boggoms Bay we honeymooned at.

I love little wooden cottages by the ocean. They give me a sense of God's presence in a way that only that environment or being alone in the mountains does. We visit a small private nature reserve called Jongensgat, just outside Stillbaai when we can. At that cottage there is no cell-phone reception or TV. Boggomsrus is a bit different in that there is a TV, but the village was almost totally deserted - we saw precisely 1 other person there the whole week.

After we got home, my wife went up to Namibia without me to visit her grandmother. I spent the week she was away caught up in my own thoughts. I don't generally do well alone these days. My sleep pattern went to pieces and didn't manage to get back on track until she came back a week later.

The time alone gave me a chance to sit and listen to God in a way I don't get to do very often. I realised how important it is to really take time to stop and listen. It started while we were away. One afternoon while she was sleeping I sat out on the deck, watching the sun set and listening to the ocean quietly breaking on the beach below us. It was quite cathartic. After the sun set, the stars began to come out. In the evening the sky was totally clear and the entire Milky Way was visible in a way I never saw in the Northern Hemisphere. It was incredible - like all creation was singing praises to it's creator. I could understand why the ancient people were drawn into worshipping the creation, but more importantly I felt like I had an insight into Jesus's motives for seeking solitude when He went to pray.

The Chinese say the sound of the wind in bamboo is like the whisper of God's voice. I get the concept. I could feel His presence and join in the praises being sung by creation. The sound of the ocean, the sparkle of the galaxy. I understand what Jesus said when He told the Pharisees that if the people stopped worshipping the rocks would worship. It makes sense. Alone we get to experience the wonder of God's own creation singing to Him. We can quiet our heart and listen to Him sing back.

Alone time is an essential tool. We have the opportunity when we're alone to wait on Him in a way we can't during the bustle of normal life. Jesus withdrew from the crowds to spend time alone with His Father. If He needed to, then we need to as well.

Sunday, 1 April 2012



I love Clint Eastwood's movies. Especially the westerns. The image of the unstoppable lone gunman fighting for justice - even vengeance - is ingrained in my memory as a young man.

Eastwood's heroes,  or more correctly protagonists, are tough men. They are resourceful and ingenious in their dealings. I admire that.

One protagonist in particular sticks with me. It's the character of William Munney, the central character in the movie "Unforgiven". He's left the world of gunfighting behind, raising pigs with his children since his wife died, and all the time carrying the weight of his former life. He comes face to face with it when a youngster comes to ask for his help as a hired gun to exact vengeance - paid, naturally - for an attack on a town prostitute.

He brings his old partner along, but his heart is obviously heavy. They ride to the town, and before they can carry out the shooting the youngster riles him and his old partner is killed - his body put on display.

In typical Eastwood fashion, he exacts revenge for the killing, violently and swiftly, killing the corrupt town sheriff and what seems to be all the available deputies. He growls at the town to give his friend a decent burial and leaves breathing fury and cursing them, goes back to his children and as the film ends we see the caption saying his late wife's mother came to find her, but found only her grave, the family have gone.

The gunman is shown as innately human. He is haunted by his past, and although his wife forgave it and loved him for who he could be, he clearly never forgave himself. He never truly found peace, and never escaped the guilt he carried.

I find of all the heroes, anti-heroes and protagonists in the movies I've seen in my 40 years, I identify with this character most. I want to be Gibson's William Wallace from "Braveheart", or Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, or Maximus in "Gladiator", but I struggle. My past weighs on me like a millstone I carry.

Jesus said something of this. He invited us to share His yoke instead of our own. To place our burdens, our past, on His shoulders. We were never designed to carry these burdens.

He offers forgiveness to us. Freely. All we need do is accept His sacrifice. But then I look at the way He teaches the disciples to pray. That famous "Lord's Prayer". He tells us to ask God to forgive us as we forgive others. Seems innocuous, but think about it for a moment. As we forgive those who sin against us. That means forgive me the way I forgive them. Use my measure of forgiveness back at me.

Scary stuff.

I still have anger towards some people from my youth who bullied me. I wrestle every day with some of it. Have I forgiven them? Frankly, no! Some of those wounds went so deep I have spent 20 years avoiding school reunions so I don't run into them. I moved away from my home town to avoid them, and while moving to a different country wasn't to get away from them, the knowledge it was so unlikely I'd bump into them at the local store on holiday was a happy thought.

I have friends whose marriages have been damaged by affairs. Some forgave, saw there was fault on both sides and moved on together. Those marriages survived and have thrived since, both partners forgiving and loving one another, putting it behind them and moving on together.

Some have had one partner who refused to forgive the "cheating" partner. They throw away the marriage through unforgiveness and out of spite. Often, these unforgiving partners spend years angry and resentful, holding on to unforgiveness of the other party. The person they won't forgive usually moves on and finds happiness again, and the unforgiven has peace, whilst the unforgiving is twisted by what went before.

Repentance and acceptance of God's forgiveness of us is the key. Eastwood's gunman never embraces it. How many of us walk through life the same way, burdened with guilt or anger over the past, refusing either to forgive or accept forgiveness?

It's a hard way to live. I know this, yet I struggle daily with it. I want to know the freedom of Christ's yoke. I need to know it. But my "old man", as Paul puts it, wants them to suffer.

In the end, the only person unforgiveness hurts is the person who won't forgive.

We should remember that.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

The Insidious Nature of the World

I've been having a lot of thoughts recently about sex. Not in the World's way, but from how the World's thinking has permeated the mainstream Christian life.

Over the last few years I have actually heard leaders in local churches state that there are worse things you can do than sleep with your girlfriend. And they said this in youth services, youth groups and I've heard it from individual counselling sessions too.

Comparing this attitude to Paul's letter to the church in Corinth there is a massive difference.

"Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s." (1 Corinthians 6:15-20)

We get this teaching that our bodies are the Temple of the Spirit, but we skip the part often about how to keep it clean. Everywhere we turn today there are images of a sexual nature around us. Walking through the local stores almost every magazine that is not about country life or re-decorationg carries a picture of a girl, usually in little or no clothing, and boasting how to improve sex, increase endurance or prolong orgasm. Even Christian magazines are not always immune from the pictures, although the articles, usually, are less explicit.

The attitude of the World is clear. Sex is normal in any encounter - and the answer to infections is not abstinence but condoms. If you don't experiment sexually then you get branded as wierd. A colleague from my work who is married recently showed me a photo she'd found online and asked me if I'd "tap" the girl in the picture. She was horrified when I said I wouldn't consider looking because I was married.

Now I'll admit I'm not perfect, and as most men are visually visually wired - and I'm no exception - I have to work at not seeing things sometimes. Summer is often a difficult time for me as the outfits women are coerced into wearing by fashion designers are smaller each year, and the women as a result show more and more of themselves. It is put forward as their "right" to wear what they want. There is no understanding that there are consequences for exercising those rights. Men have a responsibility to themselves to behave appropriately under all circumstances, but the World will tell us that it's impossible to do other than your hormone's drive.

The concept of self-regulation when it comes to our sex lives has been laughed at. Young men seem to believe that because they spent money on dinner they are entitled to sex in return. 

The World's views are insipid. They act inside like a cancer, eating away at the fabric of our self until they leave us hollow shells of what God intended us to be. We can treat the cancer by using the Word to overcome it. Our lives can be transformed, or they can be conformed to the World.

Personally, I want to make a difference.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Walking through the Wasteland and fighting Giants

If you didn't know from the titles recently, I'm a big fan of Bruce Wilkinson. I've been reading some of his books over the last few months, and recognising the Truths in them.

In particular, I've been reading 2 of the "dream-giver" series. The original, and also the one for couples.

My experiences in the last 10 years have many of the aspect of Ordinary's life. I left my familiar country, travelled to a new place, enduring trials, experiencing victories and hardships and trying to grow closer to God through all of it.

Recently, well about a year ago actually, I'd started to feel a tug to move on again. My writing was a bit stalled, so I started this blog, and I'd finally completed the degree I'd grown comfortable studying for.

My wife and I started planning the year, what we wanted to do and where we wanted to be, and we pushed off. Immediately, we hit Wasteland. Problems and little issues started cropping up, and then we hit the Giants. To be more accurate, Giant.

We'd been planning many things for 2011, and what we ended up with has pushed it all backwards. I'm not going to go into all the details now, but the highlights have been losing health and financial security. It's been nearly a year, and we're still fighting them both.

But God has been good.

But God has been Faithful.

"But God"

Those 2 words have sustained me over the last year.

Joseph said them to his brothers. The sentiment is echoed through the sufferings in the entire scripture, Old and New Testament. "But God".

The disciples were bailing water from the boat, But Jesus slept in peace. The friends berated Job, But God restored him. Saul persecuted the Disciples, BUT GOD broke through religious mindset.

Giants spring up everywhere. The spies went into the Promised Land and reported they were there. Joshua and Caleb waited 40 years to say "BUT GOD" and claim their inheritance, the only ones who saw slavery and fullness of deliverance.

Peter points out that "your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5,8). He's a giant in many ways, but the authority he has is limited to what we give him. We can fight this giant by simply submitting to God and setting ourselves against him. He's a toothless old cat, and we have to climb into his mouth and allow him to chew us.

It's a hard reality, but our authority to overcome the giants really is as simple as that. In his books, Bruce Wilkinson has Ordinary slay the giants with nothing but a feather. Jesus said we just need faith as a mustard seed to prevail.

I'm still fighting giants, but I'm learning all the time. We all need to.

Friday, 10 February 2012

What are we waiting for?

I realised recently I've been stuck.

I get caught up in a concept, or a paradigm of thought.

In 2 Kings 7, there is the most amazing illustration of God Blessing a paradigm shift. Picture the scene: the city has been under seige so long the people have resorted to cannibalism. They are completely surrounded by perhaps the most powerful army in the world. At the city gate sit 4 men. Rejected by society, bodies being eaten away by an incurable disease, these men sit and wait for death.

Then one of them shifts the paradigm.

"Now four men who were lepers were at the entrance of the city's gate; and they said to one another, Why do we sit here until we die?" (2 Kings 7:3)

They get up and go out to the Syrian army. Their reason? We're dead anyway, what more can the enemy do to us?

The last few days I've been mulling this thought over and over. "Why not try?"

The lepers tried, and they brought news back to the city of its salvation by God. Peter tried, and walked on the water to Jesus. The shift in paradigm can change our lives.

Short tonight, maybe. Hopefully a dynamite package.

Why not try? The worst that can happen is you end up where you started.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Lions, Tigers, Rats and Mice

Just recently I've been thinking a lot about what really draws me away from God. I realised something in my musings. The big stuff generally pushes me to Him. When I see a lion I know I'm in danger, so I turn to the One who can shield me from it.

Not so with the little things.

I try to sort out the little things myself. It rarely turns out well.

Jesus said much the same. He looked at the priests and leaders of the people weighing them down with unmanageable burdens. Spiritually they gave a thousand pebbles to every person and told them to start juggling. If one pebble dropped, then go to Hell, directly to Hell, do not pass 'Go', do not collect 200 talents.

Jesus cut through that, and completed it. Not only by not dropping the pebbles they allocated Him, but by collecting ours as well.

I was reading one of my favourite books last night. "Six Hours One Friday" by Max Lucado. I have such respect for this man. His writing has inspired me for 20 years. I'm on my third copy of this book, having read the first two so many times they fell apart. His writings tug my heart 20 years after I first came across them. I heard Mike Yaconelli read a part of this very book at Greenbelt in 1991. The illustration of Jesus arranging to have his hands nailed open to prove he would always accept us haunts me and inspires me.

Re-reading it, I was struck by what draws me away. The little things. Rats and mice. Non-essentials. Wind and waves.

I remember seeing a painting of Jesus walking on the water when I was young. Just taking a stroll across the Sea of Galilee. It only hit me recently that the painting was wrong. In the painting the sea was a flat calm. Jesus walked through the storm to the sinking boat. Peter got out and walked through the storm until he realised what he was doing. But he couldn't walk on a flat, calm sea. The wind and waves were incedental.

Rats and mice scavenge. At first you don't notice the nibbles, then one day you realise how much has gone. In one of the "Death Wish" movies from the 1980's, Charles Bronson's character likens the local villains to cockroaches, pointing out that once you start, you need to wipe them out completely or they come back. Jesus said the same of demons. They are insidious. Apparently in a major city you will never be more than 2 meters (6 feet) horizontally from a rat or mouse, yet we rarely see them.

I became aware I had a mouse in my study a few years ago when I heard it's rustling behind my bookshelf. The alarming thing was less the presence of the rodent, and more the fact that it had built an entire nest there, using my own books and papers as nesting material. Insidious. Naturally, I took the necessary measures to dispose of it. I let Sam, my insane 3-legged dog, into the room. 10 minutes later, no more mouse and one very proud dog!

In this instance, Sam represents Jesus to me. I couldn't find the mouse. It was destroying my things a little at a time, and I let it happen. Sam hunted it out once I invited him to, and that mouse will never be back. Jesus has done that for us. He presents himself to us and awaits our permission to take care of the situation. We tend to let Him deal with the big issues, or we pretend to. Trust is built on foundations. To really fight the lions, tigers, bears and Goliaths in our lives on a spiritual level we must start by battling mice. Before Cancer hits, we should trust implicitly for acne. Before acne, trust for something smaller. Once the foundation is strong, the trust comes naturally.

My resolve continues. I still face battles, but one at a time, and my heart is fixed. No matter what, I will serve Jesus with all I am, and all I have.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

New Year, Old tactics, Leaving the Land of Familiar

So 2012 is finally with us. After the attacks of 2011 my family has endured I welcomed the new year with open arms.

As I think I've mentioned in previous posts here, whilst I absolutely believe Healing is part of the atonement Christ bought for us, and it' not an optional extra, it's an absolute Right, it's also something that takes time to walk in fully sometimes. To that end, I still battle some chronic issues, which I make no bones about. Once I began to appropriate the Truth of walking in Divine Health things began to change. I had to get glasses every year because my eyesight was deteriorating. In the last 5 years it has not changed at all - at a time in my life when things normally start getting worse. I battle type 2 diabetes. My sugar control is far from what it should be, but there has been no damage to my eyes or kidneys as a result of the illness. God has been amazing in His Faithfulness to me.

Last year's attacks came insidiously through attacks on my wife's health. Diagnosis followed diagnosis, each worse than the last. This year has started differently.

Despite no change in my general health, my doctor added a new medication to my collection. For the first six weeks it was great. No side-effects, lower blood sugar levels and generally improved health on paper. Suddenly two days ago, my left foot swelled up and my leg up to the knee. No pain, just this swelling. It seems this one is a side-effect of the new medication. It comes and goes, subsides and fluctuates. No problems regarding medical tests, just this ludicrous swelling in my legs.

It started to come out just after I made the decision I mentioned in my last post. My decision to draw closer to God. My attitude to change my attitude and all the decisions I've made. The point is, it feels like a direct assault. My heart is set, and my mind is fixed. I still don't know how things will change, but I am set in my resolve that I will draw closer to Jesus from this point on, and that I will do everything in my power to prevent myself from limiting Him in my life.

I have decided to cut myself off from the past. To burn the bridges that would allow me to retreat to a "safer" place, which is actually just a place of familiarity where I was being dominated by the Enemy so subtly I didn't see it. Bruce Wilkinson wrote a wonderful series of books about the Dream Giver. They are parables of a man named Ordinary who lives in the Land of Familiar who is given a dream. They spoke to me in a new way, and I re-read them regularly. I don't ever want to go back to the land of Familiar. The journey Ordinary goes through is hard and he is tempted to turn back, but every time he has the temptation, the Dream Giver himself sends someone to help him.

Familiar is not safe. It is a place that drains life from us, but the people around us will try to hold us there. To leave is truly terrifying, and the battle for the movement is hard, but set your face like flint, turn away from familiar, and let God Dream through you.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Out with the Old...

So 2011 has finally come to an end. I can't say I'm sorry to see the end of it from a Human perspective. This year has been an incredibly challenging one. My wife's illness, the loss of our business as a result, moving jobs 3 times in 2 months. All this takes a heavy toll on the spirit.

But at the same time, there has been amazing Blessing through the assault.

Objectively, I have seen God come through in many ways for us. My wife's initial diagnosis and consequent immediate prognosis was an immense body-blow. The doctors basically telling us if the treatment failed she had at most six months. The treatment would not show a significant change - according to them - for a minimum of 3 to 4 months. The turnaround was nothing short of miraculous. Whilst a full healing has not yet happened, the original prognosis was totally overturned in less than 2 months. Now, physically anyway, she has a good prognosis. We are still learning to live with the issues that have arisen, but it's not immediately life-threatening now.

Our finances have been decimated by the illness. We lost our business and there have been some massive financial expenses incurred, but we have seen incredible provision. As our situation became more and more dire, we found ourselves needing legal counsel. God opened the door for us to have advice from one of the top lawyers in the country working our case and refusing to take payment from us. He provided jobs for me where I didn't think of looking initially, and then opened the door for me to find a job in one of the top companies in South Africa as a mono-lingual, white, male, foreigner. On paper it looked like I would not be able to be considered for a post, but God can make a way where there is none visible.

Through this, my own health suffered a little to start with, but as I was forced to lean more on God, He has sustained me. I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1999, yet despite poor control of my blood-sugar levels I have not had any of the problems medicine says I should have had. Recently, my blood-pressure has become better controlled and my sugar levels have improved despite no change in my habits. God has and is protecting me and healing me at the pace I allow him to.

That's the key. It's the pace we allow Him to work. Ephesians 3:20 & 21 says "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (NKJV) He works at the pace we allow Him to. Our actions and inactions can limit how God is able to move and work in us. The Israelites limited God. In Psalm 78, it is recorded "How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, And grieved Him in the desert! Yes, again and again they tempted God, And limited the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power: The day when He redeemed them from the enemy". By not keeping what God had done in their lives at the forefront of their minds, they got distracted by the surrounding problems and limited God's ability to help them. Jesus was limited in His home town by the people's lack of faith. Peter took his attention from Jesus and began to sink as he walked on the water.

Unbelief will sink us. we need to focus on Him and let Him guide us through the next 12 months. Yes, 2011 was a tough year. 2012 can be, and I believe will be, a year when we see things turn around in a huge way. I am committed to changing how I think and to stop limiting God so much in my life. It won't be easy, but with His guidance it will happen.

God Bless, dear readers. And a Happy and Blessed New Year!