Inappropriate. Or not?

I had such a bad experience at the ATM. I was waiting in the queue for the one machine and when I got to the front, I discovered it wasn’t accepting cash today. I went to the other machine and waited in the queue. When I got to the front of the queue three people who had been inside the branch came out and pushed in front of me. I protested and they raised their voices and told me that this is the way it works because they had gone inside and come back out. I became really upset and left before I actually physically assaulted someone. Seriously, it was that bad. I had no one to defend me either. If I had been big or violent there might have been a fight, but maybe if I had been big or violent I wouldn’t have been put in that situation. Whatever happened to common courtesy or regard to fellow humans? Have the end times really arrived with all the disregard of everything that has been held sacred for centuries?

I am normally very much in control of my emotions, but I do not like injustice. Injustice to others and to myself. I don’t like it when people take advantage of others. During my whole life I haven’t lost my temper very often at all. I’ve always been very proud of myself for not getting out of hand. I am starting to change my mind about that though. I know that Jesus stopped to plait a whip when He got upset about people using the Temple as a marketplace, and I understood that it was probably a controlled whipping which took place. I think if I wouldn’t have been arrested to assault that might have been an option today. Okay I don’t think I really would have, but I also don’t think it’s a bad idea to really get in touch with my feelings instead of suppressing them when I think they’re inappropriate.

I watched a video of people throwing stones at the police in the streets of Johannesburg yesterday. As far as I can make out they were protesting because they were stopped from illegally occupying land. Seriously? People are upset because they are stopped from breaking the law? I just don’t get it. These people are over emotional about inappropriate things and I think that getting emotional about injustice is inappropriate!

2 Timothy 3:1-5, But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away.

Jude 1:18-19, how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.

That is what is happening all over the world. People believe that their own wants and needs are of prime importance. If a woman gets pregnant and it’s inconvenient for her, she is told that she has the right to have an abortion. Parents blame teachers when children get bad grades at school, instead of making sure that the children study and learn a good work ethic. Children are promoted to the next grade when they can’t even read. Because someone decided that children should be able to master work in certain time frames, it is now applied universally. Everything is not as it should be at all, but what are we supposed to be doing? I think that we need to be real. We need to be true to ourselves and what we believe. We cannot ignore what is happening around us. We cannot be like an ostrich that sticks its head in the sand and pretend there’s nothing wrong. We cannot agree with lawlessness and with anything that is contrary to Scripture, but we cannot go around assaulting people who break the law. I do believe that if things are not being done right we cannot just be apathetic because we are Christians. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we have to be quiet and sit around watching and waiting for things to get worse. We have to stand up for what we believe in. At this moment I cannot tell you what I think the best way is. I do know, however that we absolutely cannot ignore lawlessness and injustice. We are called to forgive people and not carry grudges and not seek revenge. That is not negotiable. I have to say what I keep saying and that is that our enemy is the devil and all his associates. People, however badly they behave, are not the enemy. We have to keep praying and keep resisting the devil and keep being the best versions of ourselves that we possibly can be. In the meantime please let me know what you think our strategy as Christians should be.


Toss out the junk

Confession time! I am a recovering hoarder. Allow me qualify that though, I have never been at the level where someone had to come into my house and throw out things that I couldn’t get rid of myself. I did show tendencies of not being able to get rid of useful things though. I think its a kind of culture some people grow up with. If there’s a lack you are always thinking that there might not be enough of something in days to come and you tend to hold onto it. Maybe you think you won’t have enough money to buy something so you don’t throw out things. My weakness was art supplies. Even things like egg boxes and cardboard and string. Granted, given the time I would have been able to make some nice art from those things. But I don’t have the time. And my clothes closet. I’m a really bad clothes shopper so I tend to hold onto clothes that are comfortable, or that I think I might just wear again. One day, however, I went into the house of a hoarder and I decided that I would not put my family through the pain of having to toss out my junk. I started with my clothing first. I threw out everything I didn’t wear, didn’t fit me or that I didn’t like. Then I proceeded to my art and needlework supplies. After that my books and lastly the kitchen. It took a huge weight off my shoulders. Obviously I didn’t get rid of all my art and sewing supplies. I kept the things that I really use. It took such a burden off my shoulders. I worked out a system for storing things and it simplified my life to such an extent that I can spend time on the things that really feed my soul.

The best known verse about hoarding things must be Matthew 6:19, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” If we spend a weekend away at a self catering cottage I always marvel at how minimalist the space is and how comfortable I feel. There aren’t any unnecessary distractions. A few nice paintings or pictures on the wall. A bowl on a table. No ornaments and niknaks decorating every space. Just calm, tranquillity and peace. There’s a saying that goes, “A healthy body houses a healthy mind.” I don’t know if I necessarily agree with that. I think we need to declutter our minds in order to have them functioning at a healthy level. It’s relatively easy to get rid of the clutter in your house. There are things that will always be sentimental, and there’s nothing wrong with having special furniture, books or photos. I have a shoebox with the very first clothes both my children wore after they were born, but I didn’t keep all their baby clothes. Just like that, there are memories and incidents we can store in the shoe boxes of our brain, but we don’t have to have it so jam-packed with memories that we have to wade through all the trash to get to the important stuff.

Our minds are often so full of hurts, resentment and even hate that we can’t live a normal life. We have to keep sifting through the sands of the past and filtering out what we don’t need. Anything that causes pain should be picked up and looked at. The answer is always forgiveness. Forgive the person who caused the pain. Sometimes its even yourself you have to forgive. Remember, forgiveness isn’t a feeling, its a decision. Do the forgiving you have to and toss it out. It’s taking up space you can use for a good memory. I remember having to forgive a teacher I had in grade 2 for saying something hurtful. I was 47 at the time. It had been causing me to think that there was something wrong with me for almost 40 years! It’s totally ridiculous that we don’t get taught to deal with things like this when we are kids. Please, I beg you, if you can’t unclutter your mind of past hurts by yourself, go to a counsellor who will be able to assist you, it’s just not worth living with all that junk. Toss it out and start living.

To go to church or not to go to church?

I spent the day doing very little. I went to church, made a simple lunch and watched 2 movies on my laptop. Considering that I never watch television and hardly ever go to the actual movies, that’s something of a record. The movies I watched are God’s not dead 1 and 2. I realised how absolutely privileged I am to live in a place where there is very little official persecution. By official, I mean that people don’t get taken to court for speaking about Jesus. It’s something most of us take for granted. I remember the days when I was growing up how people who didn’t attend church were frowned upon. Things have changed a lot since then. There’s no more stigma attached to not going to church. It seems to have been watered down like a lot of other things. We have a huge traditional church right in the centre of our little town. It’s truly magnificent and has been declared a national monument. Unfortunately the attendance is very poor. The only time it is full is when there’s a funeral of someone who was well loved. A very sad state of affairs.
I also know quite a few people who don’t attend church, ever, but say that their affairs with God are in right standing. I find it hard to believe. By attending church I’m not even speaking of church in the traditional sense of the word. It can be a house church, cell group, fellowship group. I don’t think that any person all alone on their own can maintain a relationship with Jesus. No, let me rephrase that; I don’t think that any person who has a relationship with Jesus will want to be all alone on their own apart from other believers. How do I know? I tried it. I picked up some offence with the church I was attending and I stayed away for 18 months. I did not go to another church, I thought I would be fine on my own. Just me and Jesus, but I wasn’t. I didn’t stop believing and I didn’t stop reading my bible, I didn’t even stop witnessing, but I just didn’t have that same connection and joy that I normally would have had. It took another believer, who has since become a good friend, to make me see that I needed other believers in my life. And guess what? I went back to that same church where I had been offended and I went to the person who had been a problem to me and I asked for forgiveness. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done, but one of the most liberating.
Hebrews 10:23-25, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” 2 Timothy 3:1- , “For understand this in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of Godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” Verses 12-13, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
These are scary words, but they are true. Even though we are still relatively free of persecution, many people around the world are in danger of losing their lives for believing in Jesus. This is the time of choosing. Joel 3:14, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision!
Make your choice and stick by it. Matthew 10:32-33, “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Make the right choice before it is too late. God doesn’t want under cover, just me and Jesus, Christians. He wants people who are willing to stand up for what they believe in.

Don’t give the devil airing time

The past 6 days have been a time of devastating sadness and grief in our community. Also criminal activities have escalated. There are very few people who haven’t been affected. In a small community one person’s trouble becomes everyone’s. I was really tempted to write about forgiveness and about God turning curses into blessings when the Holy Spirit stopped me and told me not to give the enemy any airtime. I don’t read newspapers because I don’t think I ought to focus on negative things. The same with watching TV, but here I was wanting to tell the whole world what was going on. I realized that what I was doing was no better than spreading sensation. And at the end of the day people are going to remember the description of the negative and not the lesson that was learned. Its easy to avoid speaking about negative things when its someone else’s news but when it touches you personally it’s a total different story. When its your trouble its like, ‘have you heard what happened?” or even worse, “Have you heard what happened to so-and-so?” Now there is a time and place to tell about things that have happened, but to broadcast them is not the way.

Isaiah 59:14 – Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands far away; For truth has stumbled in the street, And uprightness cannot enter.

I Thessalonians 5:22 – Reject every kind of evil.

Now you may say that telling your friend about what happened isn’t evil. You’re right, it isn’t, but dwelling on it and speculating about it and sharing it on social media can cause it to become evil. Instead of thinking and speaking about the bad things that have happened we should be doing what  Ephesians 5:15 – 21 – Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to god the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting one to another out of reverence for Christ.

We should be encouraging each other and focusing on positive things instead of focusing on the negative and on the past. Not one of us knows what the future holds, no matter how much we think we do, we don’t have a clue. It also says giving thanks always and for everything. ALWAYS , not just when things are going well, always. I love the bit that says, “making melody in your heart”. We have to stir up the joy in our hearts. Singing praise songs has that effect. The when we have sung the song and feel better we must make sure that praise melody is still in our hearts and travels with us all day long. You can’t think and speak about negative things when you have that praise playing in your head and your heart. I challenge you to try to.

Why do we as humans always want to focus on negative things, sensational things, things that cause our hearts to feint. Why don’t we get so passionate about a soul that’s been saved instead? Speaking about a soul that’s been saved – have you been around people when they speak about a bad boy that found Jesus? They never believe that it’s possible. They speculate about how it’s highly unlikely and probably won’t last. The newly converted is watched and every action is put under a microscope. But just tell something bad, negative or sensational and everyone believes it immediately. They don’t just believe it but spread the rumor. It is so sad that we humans are so under the influence of the prince of darkness instead of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 5:1-2 – Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Jesus gave Himself up for us, and every time we walk in love and do what God wants us to do instead of doing what our flesh wants to do we become that fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. To follow our flesh is easy. To do what we instinctively do is no effort at all. To be aware of what God wants us to do and to actually do it, that is the hard part. That is the time when your mind is calling out one thing and your heart is calling out something else and it feels like you are literally torn apart. When you give in to the flesh you know immediately that you did the wrong thing but it’s too late. The deed is done, the words are out. You can’t change it. What’s done is done. What now? Are you a failure? Is God going to kick you out of his Kingdom and erase your name from the Book of Life? Micah 7:18 says, “Who is a god like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain His anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.”

So we all have to try to focus our minds on the positive. Focus on getting that melody in our hearts and being the fragrant offering our Father is longing for.

Forgive them Father

We wove the crown of thorns
That our precious Savior wore

We weilded the whip
That tore into His flesh

We drove the nails
That held Him to the cross

We lifted the spear
That pierced his side.

They are Your precious sons and daughters
Who will take up Your sword
And fight the enemy

They are Your precious sons and daughters
Who will go into the world
And open the eyes of the blind

They are Your precious sons and daughters
Who will overcome evil
And receive the victor’s crown

They are Your precious sons and daughters
And it is for them
That all this pain I bear.