Saturday, September 29, 2007

PLAYING GAMES

Unless you are really serious about being serious, you are only playing games... This thought came to me in reading 2 Corinthians 5:11-19. It talks about being new creatures in Christ, forgetting what has happened in the past. I can't forget the past - it is past experiences that influences my decisions, knowing what works and doesn't. At the same time I cannot live in it to the extent that it stops me from moving forward.
Before I can move forward, I have to seek forgiveness, as well as forgive those that I have wronged or felt they have wronged me. It is easier to forgive than to ask forgiveness. To ask for forgiveness and to be sincere about it, I have to admit I was wrong. Not only to admit that I was wrong, yet to admit it without self-justifying tags attached to it.
Efesians 4:31-32, Mark 11:25-26
It would be easier to walk away from the forgiveness issue. As long as I postpone it or ignore it, I will not be able to enter that area where I am relying on His strength to grow. If I want to go that road of doing only what I want to do and not what God wants me to do, then I am playing at being a Christian, playing the Christian game. Until I start applying the teachings, Christianity will only be a theory.
Anything less than practical application is only playing games, nothing less. The time is long past to stop playing games and start being serious about being serious.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

THE UNKINDEST CUT

"This was the unkindest cut." Julius Ceaser act 3. Mark Anthony says these words, he is speaking of Cassius stabbing Julius Ceaser. It was the unkindest cut because of Julius love and trust for Cassius.
Child abuse is the unkindest cut of all, because of the love and trust children place in us adults, a love they give freely, and when abused, if they survive their future ruined because of that abuse.
Recent cases comes to mind, yesterday 26th Sep: a date has been set for the trial of a man who allegedly raped and murdered 11 yr old Annastacia Wiese, he is also charged of raping a three year old girl. Last month in the first week, a man was sentenced in the Cape high court, for sodomising and murdering six year old Steven Siebert.
Other recent cases for this year :
7 yr old Sheldean Human, Pretoria, raped and murdered. February.
11yr old Annastacia Wiese, Cape Town raped and Murdered March.
8 yr old Refiane Ringane Limpopo Province murdered June.
2 yr old Sonja Brown western Cape July.
These come to mind because they had extensive media coverage. What about the ones that dont get the coverage. Those cuts are just as deep, will the wounds from these cuts ever heal in the families and loved ones.
If there is anything positive to come out of all this, it is the rallying of support for the families from the communties, from strangers regardless of race or creed, BUT WHAT A PRICE TO PAY.
Let us remember them always not just today, let us pray in sincerity not only for the victims and families but also for the solution.

Monday, September 24, 2007

PRODIGAL

I have never looked up the word "Prodigal" in the dictionary until today, I didn't have to - I knew what it meant. Everybody knows what it means, everybody who has read or heard the story of the prodigal son, knows what it means. What does it mean to you? To me it always meant simply the one who went away and came back, or went astray ... along these lines.
That was the impression that I got the first time that I heard the story, and it never changed, till today. Which means for 50 odd years I have had the wrong impression on something. In itself not important, it is after all only a word. Yet how often don't I make a snap judgement on something, only to find out later how wrong I was, and then go and eat humble pie a la mode.
There have been times when I didn't need to eat the pie, as my impressions have been private and personal. However, the revelation of the impression no less humbling personally.
Jay was a quiet unassuming guy - didn't say much, probably because of his pronounced stuttering. I met him in a church I was attending during my wonderlust years. They had a very early weekly prayer meeting I supported, a low key sedate in gradual progression from sleep into our routines.
One week, as we were winding down, almost everybody had prayed, I felt someone coming to stand next to me, my eyes were closed. As soon as the person who was praying at that time finished, a strong baritone voice next to me started singing songs of praise, then into worship, before praying with passion in full flood, carrying the whole room with him, ending the meeting with everybody fully charged.
Now, many years later, reflecting how far I have drifted, I'm still blessed in remembering Jay's real side.
Psalm 95:2: "Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; Let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise."


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

IN AN INSTANT

We live in an instant world, to the point where a click on a mouse can direct us in milliseconds to millions of choices. Old favorites will appear on our screens in an instant. Is this instannt gratification carried over into our every day and spiritual lives? Has God become a favorite that we havent used for a long time? When needed he must perform instantly, in the perception that we want a God who is all-knowing and all-powerful to Whom nothing is impossible, yet still control Him, we want to tell Him what to do, when where and how and above all it must be in an instant. There are even secret formulae and mantras, pray like this, chant it like that x times and it will happen in an instant.
A close relationship isnt built up in an instant. If you have been hurt in the past by someone, it takes time for that hurt to heal, it takes time to learn to trust again, you spend time together, doing things together because that is what it takes to build friendship and trust. Maybe you have been hurt by someone in the church, disillusioned; stopped attending, in the process stopped spending time with God, there was no longer that special time.
Getting back into a close and personal relationship with God is hampered by guilt and self condemnation, I have thrown away the formulae and mantras because I dont know what to say; I have taken the honest approach, because He already knows my innermost thoughts! I told Him I dont know what to say and waited in silence. A stillness and peace came and with the joy of the promise found in Isaiah 42 "A bruised reed He will not break, a faintly burning wick He will not quench. "

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Responsibility

I have read many times, if you save a life you are responsibile for it. What happens when my life is saved? Do I owe a responsibility to that which saved my life? After all said and done, I would not have the same life without the intervention.
Some time ago, whilst driving in the Limpopo Province returning from a private game reserve, my better half and I were discussing the changes and development in the province. The promoting of game farms, holiday resorts all highlighting the province's natrual beauty and attrations. In my normal manner I digressed from development to talk about birds. In particular the fascinating habits of weavers. More than 150 different species, three quarters of them prevalent in Africa. Needless to say my discourse was not given scientifically or in textbook style. At the end of my impromptu lesson my better-half told me I really had a gift. I assumed she meant the gift of the gab.
Several years ago, I was hitch hiking to Cape Town from Johannesburg. I was given a lift to almost halfway, in the Free State quite close to Colesburg in the Northen Cape. Sitting on my suitcase alongside the road, with cars few and far between I was reading my Bible. Though past mid-day - it was also mid-winter - the wind was chilling so I wore a polar fleece hooded top. After about forty minutes, a car stopped some way ahead and started reversing. To save time I tucked the Bible halfway into my jeans, covered by the top.
In the early hours of the morning near Cape Town the driver dropped me off where he was turning off close to the Cape Flats informal settlement. The night was freezing, I took my jacket out of my case to put it on. Within a matter of minutes three men appeared from seemingly no-where. One from behind took my jacket off me, the second one from the side took my suitcase and ran, the third was trying to rip my watch from my wrist, at the same time stabbing me in the stomach, looking directly onto the words printed on my hooded top: "Youth for Christ ".
I smiled and spoke in a voice I did'nt recognise as my own, calm and gentle: "Jesus asked me to tell you he loves you."
I could actually see the fear in his face; he turned and ran with total disregard for his safety, just missing an oncoming car.
The jacket and Bible had been gifts from a friend, the "Youth for Christ" top another gift from another friend; which brings me to responsibility. We are blessed with gifts to share. I have been blessed with the gift of life. If I did'nt have the Bible tucked in my jeans at my waist I wouldn't be alive. It has taken some time for me to accept that responsibility, and to allow my gifts to be used.
Guidance comes from Ephesians 4:22,23. "To put off your old self which belongs to your former manner of life, and is corrupt through deceitful desires and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds."
This is the journal of renewal of the spirit in my mind. It promises to be an exciting journey.
Stan

Monday, September 3, 2007

A SILENCE

A silence
like a lost soul
trapped to ideals and dreams
in search of it's whole;
with parts lost in life streams,
others shackled by chains.

Bits strewn in spindrifts
and drowned in rains
while waiting for the freeing lifts.
A silence
like a man and wife
sitting at breakfast
welded together in life,
held in a clenched fist
what they had to say,
they had said too soon.
now the empty hours lay
tightly closed in a cocoon
A silence
like a dream stillborn
a truth unspoken;
emotions fully worn
memories the only token
of times swept and spent
in the wake of yesterdays broom;
of hours that had been illspent
lay buried in a tomb.
Stan