Monthly Archives: October 2013

Repentance is the Cure

I was watching Embarrassing ‘Fat’ Bodies last night, and seeing all of the overweight people on TV brought back some memories of being overweight, even though most of them were much heavier than I ever was. The things that concerned me were the reasons given for being overweight. “I am pre-disposed to being overweight”, “I had a baby (a few years ago)”, “My whole family is fat, I have always been like this”. I’m sorry, maybe these have some truth in a small way, but I was overweight because I ate too much (albeit because of emotional issues) and exercised too little. No one actually said that on the show. What made it worse, was when the doctors suggested this, you could see the disappointment and disagreement in the people’s eyes.

Now let’s make something clear. I am not fat-phobic. I know that it is horribly politically incorrect to say anything negative about anyone’s weight, but I am not saying anything negative, I have overcome this and I want to help others overcome it too. Besides, this is just an illustration for a bigger problem. Why do overweight people want to lose weight? Being overweight makes you uncomfortable and unhappy not to mention open to a load of diseases, not least of all diabetes. It also prevents women from having children and generally kills. Is there any good that comes from being overweight? No.

So how do you overcome it, how did I overcome it? There comes a day when you have to accept responsibility. You need to admit that the power to change is in your hands. “I have been overeating and under-exercising. From now on I will eat appropriate portions and exercise accordingly”, and then you actually need to do it. Accept responsibility, change your mind, take action. This is the only way to get results. The only way to save your life. Blaming your genes or your parents will never help you, you have to help yourself.

Now earlier I said that this was an illustration for something bigger, here it is. You spiritual life is probably in worse shape than your body. This can cause all sorts of issues, even more deadly than being overweight. Trust me when people come for physical healing, I often find emotional or spiritual issues under the surface, often preventing the physical healing. So how do we address this? Accept responsibility, change your mind, take action. It can’t be that easy surely? We are no strangers to the word repentance, which probably conjures up all sorts of negative feelings. We think that it involves grovelling before God or performing tasks to show how ‘sorry’ we are. This is not what it means, it simply means stop what you’re doing and do something else. Accept responsibility (take ownership), change your mind (repent), take action (follow Jesus and adopt His ways).

So then why do Christians also suffer from the same issues as non-Christians? This is a whole other post, but in a nutshell, we often don’t experience abundant life because we don’t actually change. We accept Jesus, so we are saved, but we don’t really change so we don’t see the change happen. There are other things involved here but this is one main reason why we struggle. When you are on the wrong road, admit it and change to the right road, only this will see you improve your circumstances.

I hope that this gives the word repentance a much more positive meaning!

God bless,

Richard

Advertisements

The Biggest Loser.. or Winner?

My wife and I both had a bit of a weight gain when we left South Africa, probably due to the stress and insecurity of immigrating. I am rather happy to say that we both tackled the issue head on, and we are both now down to the same (if not lower) weights that we were when we got married. Since we know what that process is like, we do enjoy watching The Biggest Loser on TV, both the Aussie and American shows. I have noticed that so many values that the trainers try and install in the participants, can be used to help you in your christian walk, so I’m going to use this blog post to try and explain that.

The trainers are often telling the contestants to say that they CAN rather than they can’t, sometimes they even shout it at them! At times I would really like to shout this at christians (and myself). So often we come with an attitude of I can’t.. Pick someone else.. He/she is so much better at that than me.. Moses tried it, Jonah tried it, most of us try it.. Doesn’t the bible say that YOU can do all things through Christ who gives you strength? I am not a self help teacher, but I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to see that wallowing in your pool of self pity is not going to get the results. Yes, it is with God’s power and authority that we do what we do, but we’re still the ones who do it.. Both Moses and Jonah eventually gave in to God and did what He said they could do, in His power, with amazing results! They would not have gotten those results if they had refused to do it and stayed in their state of self pity. It takes courage to take the first step, but with God at your side, the results will be amazing!

The trainers are always trying to get into the minds of the contestants because that is where the battle is won or lost. This is exactly the case with christianity. I have done a blog post on this already, but I don’t think I did it justice. Pick up just about any Joyce Meyer book, and she will tell you in no uncertain way just how important getting your mind right is. There are christians who say that this is not that important, but there is way too much scripture for it to be irrelevant. How can you expect God to work with you if you are constantly thinking that you will fail, thinking that you are not worthy, thinking that God can’t use you. God is great, yes, and He can use people in spite of themselves (and does) but there is a problem. If God says that we can do something (with His help) and we think that we can’t, we don’t only lack faith in ourselves but more importantly God. We are in actual fact saying, no God, I am so useless that You can’t even use me. What complete rubbish!

The trainers need to deal with the issues that got the contestants overweight in the first place. We as christians need to understand that we have issues. Yes, what Christ did on the cross gives us the freedom to get rid of those issues, but we still have to get rid of them. There are loads of christians who have accepted Jesus, yet still have emotional and physical issues that they have not dealt with. Bringing these issues up can be very painful, but you know what, you need to do that in order to heal. I use this analogy – You can’t put a plaster on a bullet wound. You have to remove the bullet so that you can heal, Jesus’ death on the cross means that we can do this. I have seen people get miraculously healed from emotional issues the second they were saved, but others not. I’m not going to get into a discussion about what we have and what we have to work for, that is for another time, but the bottom line is that we need to deal with these issues otherwise they will hold us back.

The trainers push the contestants to do the work to make them fit. We as christians often think that once we are saved, that is it, by grace not by works. Salvation is by grace yes, it is not by works.. But I’m afraid that living the christian life involves works. Not by God, by us (in Christ). We look at people like Chris Tomlin, Joyce Meyer and Andrew Wommack, and think wow, I wish I could have a ministry like they do.. Well, they were also just sitting on their couch and God came and dropped it into their lap, so you’re on the right track. Please tell me that you realised that the previous sentence was in fact sarcastic. Enough said.

Thanks for reading, I hope that this post doesn’t sting too much and that it inspires you to take that first step. God is with you, so walk with confidence!

Until next time.

Richard

Gifts Are For Using

Hello everyone and welcome to Friday.. It is at least a Friday when I am writing this. Spiritually, this week has been pretty rough, so I have decided to fight back and give it a bit of a run for its money, and this is how I tend to do it.

I have the gift of prophesy as I have mentioned before, but of late, I have been rather lazy and I haven’t been using it much. This has lead me to decide to use it this weekend, see if there are any people in need of hearing a word from God, or seeing if God has a word for anyone specific. I have also decided to try something new, as if you don’t try anything new, you’ll never learn anything new. I have given loads of prophetic words, but I have never given them to complete strangers over the internet. With the attitude of doing something new, I would really like to stretch myself and do this. So, here is the plan.

If you are reading this, specifically today (Friday 25 October 2013) and would like to hear a word from God, kindly contact me with your name and let me know that you would like one. I guess to do this there are two options: 1. Comment on this post here on the blog, that should give me your email address to reply. Or 2. Comment on the facebook post about this article (there is a link to like the facebook page on the right of this blog) and then I can reply to you on facebook.

All I need to know is your name, how to get hold of you, and that you want a word. Please don’t tell me anything else, especially if you want a word for something specific, the less I know about it the better. This means that anything that I hear from God is not ‘tainted’ by my own thoughts about the situation.

Once I have all the requests, I’ll get words for people this weekend, and let you know what I have heard. You can take these words, pray about them, and see what God tells you about it. If you have any further questions after this, please contact me (on facebook) and I’ll help in any way I can.

I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to establish what their gifting is, and then use it! I have been lazy and not used it as much as I could have, I can safely say that I regret it, that is why I am doing something about it.

If I get too many requests it may take longer, but I’ll try and get the words back by the end of this weekend. If you happen to be reading this in the future and have missed the boat, please don’t despair. Send me a message asking me for a word and I’ll try and get one for you, I’m sure I won’t lose the gift after the weekend ;-).

Have a good weekend everyone!

Richard

Twist and Shout.. Well Whisper..

We’ve all heard that the devil and his followers are trying to lead us astray. Some of us write it off as nonsense, and some of us think that it is a serious threat. I would like to bring some things into the open here, so that we know what we are up against.

The devil can only be in one place at a time so he probably isn’t hassling you, he has bigger fish to fry, but there may well be demons after you. They work the same way that the devil does, so lets take a look at how he works. Read Genesis 3:1-6 and Matthew 4:1-11 and you’ll get an idea of how he works.

Let me highlight a few things. The devil and demons use the truth, but manipulate it slightly to take on another meaning. They also question it. “Are you sure that God said that?” Is a common question that they pose to christians. The difference between how Eve dealt with it to how Jesus dealt with it were worlds apart. Eve was confused, either because she wasn’t sure what God had said, or she was influenced by what the devil said, either way, she was swayed. Jesus, on the other hand, knew what scripture said and He knew the truth, so when the devil twisted it, He put it right and threw it back at the devil. Another interesting thing is that Jesus told the devil to leave, and he did, Eve didn’t do that, she seemed ‘happy’ to talk with him. James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil (amongst other things) and he will flee, other verses talk about rebuking demons, they are both relevant in a personal setting.

The big problem amongst christians is that the devil twists scripture ever so slightly, so that it takes away from what God has said. The demons won’t necessarily come and say to you that Jesus wasn’t the Son of God, they may just say things like, “Are you sure that God promised you that?” This way they don’t oppose scripture but rather question bits of it. We as christians often don’t know what the bible says, or we have read a verse and it seems to contradict with others. We don’t know the original Greek or Hebrew and the different translations of the bible seem to say different things, so we are confused. Please allow me to give you three tips to help you combat this. These three tips exclude the fact that you need to read the bible, that is a given (although we neglect that too).

Firstly, please realise that there is a HUGE difference between the old covenant (before Jesus died) and the new covenant (after Jesus rose from the dead). Be very careful applying scripture from before Jesus’ death to how we live today. Yes it is relevant otherwise it wouldn’t be there, but Jesus fulfilled the law, so we are now under grace and not the law which makes a big difference. So in simple English, if you want to get an idea of the covenant of where we are today, read from Acts onwards. Jesus shows us what to do in the Gospels, but the books that follow show others going through what we are going through and people like Paul explain how to do it, which should help us. Secondly, read whole chapters. A common problem is when people quote a single verse to justify what they think. With all of the translation ‘issues’ taking just one verse could be a problem. If the whole chapter is saying one thing, and one verse seems to contradict, ask questions. You may have misunderstood or there may be some translation misunderstanding. Let’s be honest, you can back up just about any comment with some verse somewhere, but does it fit in with the ‘general trend’ of what the bible is saying? Thirdly, don’t be scared to listen to other points of view, but question them. I used to think that preachers like Andrew Wommack were heretics, Now I consider him one of my favourite speakers! If someone says something, go and read the scriptures, check what they are saying. If they are speaking against what the bible says then walk away, but if what they say is biblical, take it on board. Note, I said, “..what the bible says..”, and not, “.. what you interpret the bible to be saying..”.

I have had certain views in the past, which seemed scriptural, however now my views are different. Now when I read the bible it makes so much more sense, and less verses need to be ‘explained away’ because they don’t make sense. Why? Because I listened to people, weighed up what they said against scripture, and took the good stuff on board even though it contradicted with what I had been taught. I resist demons and rebuke them, and continue to learn God’s word.

I won’t wish you luck because I don’t believe in it, but I will tell you that you have God’s favour!

Richard

Actions Speak Louder Than Words?

Today I would like to wrap up the last two posts (Think About It & Mind Your Tongue) as well as a bit extra in this one. This post will show that taking your thoughts and words and combining them with actions, will lead to amazing results!

Take a look at 1 Timothy 4 verses 6-16, If you explain these things to the brothers and sisters, Timothy, you will be a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is nourished by the message of faith and the good teaching you have followed.Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. ”This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people and particularly of all believers.

Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.

Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress. Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.

I hope that this encourages you to think about what you think about, and speak what is Godly, and then put this all into practice with what you do. Although all of the authority that we have comes from God, it is still in our hands to a certain extent. What we think, say and do will have huge consequences both now when we die. If you are a christian, please remember that the bible says that we can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength.

Here is a statement to think about.. Think about what you are thinking about as your thoughts will become your words, which as well as being powerful will lead to actions, which in turn will define your faith, with which you could move mountains!

Keep the faith!

Richard

Mind Your Tongue

They say that on average people speak between 7 000 and 20 000 words a day. Men usually at the lower end of that, and woman at the higher. Before I start a gender war, that is not from me, that is merely the results of a Google search!

My concern with all of those words spoken are the words themselves. What words are we speaking? Does it matter? Read Proverbs 12 verses 6-24 and you’ll find at least 5 verses that speak about the words that you speak. Proverbs 18 verse 21 says The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. Proverbs 21 verse 23 says Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble. This shows us that speaking words without thinking of them first, can (and probably will) get us into trouble.

Does this mean that we should never speak? Obviously not, in fact, there are times that speaking is Godly. Mark 11 verses 22-24 says Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. This shows us that we need to speak the word of God, believing it is not always good enough, we need to speak it too. It also shows us in Romans 10 verses 9-10 that speaking, along with believing is secures us our salvation.

Ephesians 1 verses 19-21 says I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honour at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. This shows that we have authority in Christ, and this combined with what we have learned about the words that we speak, shows us that we actually have authority in what we speak. Parents, what you say to and over your children has consequences, husbands and wives, what you speak over your spouse have huge implications.. Please make sure that your words (like your thoughts) have been through the ‘scriptural filter’. It is also important to think about what you speak over yourself. We often write this off as ‘self-help’ but it is scriptural, so make sure that what you speak over yourself is what God would have spoken over you.

Now I realise that we have daily responsibilities and we have to speak, and it can’t always be straight from scripture, but we have the ability to speak what we want to. My wife and I have started to watch what we say, and we have stopped saying negative things that we do not need to speak. We can’t stop speaking, but we can replace a few negative things with a few positive things, and when you see the difference, it will encourage you to do it more and more. Baby steps. Just think about it for a second before the words leave your mouth.

I leave you with Matthew 12 verses 36-37. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgement day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.”

Richard

Think about it..

Simple thought. No that is it, just a simple thought.. Or is it? Every day, thousands of thought enter our mind, mill around for a bit, and then most of them leave.. As you get older, more and more seem to leave, just ask my dad. Anyhow, I have heard it said that what you think doesn’t matter, as long as you don’t act on it. What does the bible say? Colossians 3 verse 2 says, And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. 2 Corinthians 10 verse 5 says, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

You see, the devil and his helpers are always ready to whisper something in your ear, something to confuse you or try and twist what God has said in His word, something to lead you astray. He did it to Eve in the Garden, he tried it with Jesus, and he now tries it with us. Just to clarify that we probably aren’t important enough to have the devil after us, but he has loads of little helpers who have nothing better to do than try and trip us up. This is why the bible talks about the armour of God, we need to be protected from evil.

Do we need to fear these things? No, but we do need to think about what we are thinking about, as even with all of the armour on, and with the best intentions, our minds always seem to be open to attack. Would you have a computer without security? No. So where is the security for your mind? 2 Corinthians 10 verse 5 is pretty much telling us to get hold of every thought of ours and run it through a ‘scriptural filter’. Does it tie in with what God has told us? No. Throw it out!

One thing I would like to mention is that with Eve and Jesus, the devil didn’t lie outright, he merely slightly altered scripture (or what God had said) to suit his agenda. Let this be a lesson to all of us. Make sure you know what the bible says. Study it, understand it, so when you are given a slight variation, you notice it and throw it out.

I think that it is about time that we all install anti-virus software in our minds.. Here is some scripture to think about.. Philippians 4 verse 8. For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honourable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].

Richard

Gospel in 3 Chapters

A few months ago, we were discussing the gospel in home group, and we stated that there is no sin that God can overlook. We all fall short of God’s glory, and none of us make it into heaven on our own merit. However, Christ came and he was perfect and He died for us, so believing in Him and accepting Him as our Lord and Saviour will allow God to see us in His light. Once we do this, there is no sin that God can’t and won’t forgive!

This made me consider making a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet (yes, that is what I do) stating a list of sins, with boxes along side which you can tick if you have committed those sins. Regardless of the boxes you tick, the result will still display ‘sorry, you don’t make it’, until the last block.. The last item would ask whether you accepted Jesus as your personal saviour or not.. If you select yes, you would get a congratulations, you made it into heaven. If no, sorry, you don’t make it.

You see some people will get upset by this and say that we are being exclusive, or we think that we are better than everyone else, or that we think that we are the only ones with the answer. That is not true, well maybe we do think we’re the only ones with the answer, but the other two aren’t true. We are not better than everyone else, ALL fall short.. You and I do too, but fortunately God so loved the WHOLE WORLD, that He sent His son.. We all have the opportunity to be saved, it doesn’t matter what you have done!

Just in case you think I’m making this up, or if you wonder why this is entitled ‘Gospel in 3 Chapters’, go and read Romans Chapter 1 – 3. This lays it out in no uncertain terms. The first 2 chapters leave you feeling quite uneasy, laying out the consequences of sin, then in chapter 3 we slowly start to see some hope.. In chapter 3 v 21 the good (well best) news is shared, it shows us how we are now free by accepting what Jesus has done for us!

Now, here is the take home bit.. For those who read this and say, “Yes, I know that”, here is the question.. Is this the gospel you are preaching, or are you still trying to stop people non believers from sinning? As for non believers, we as christians should not be here to tell you that what you are doing is wrong, but rather to tell you that there is a way, and only one way to God, and that is through accepting Jesus.. That is all that can save you, and God will forgive everything that you may have done, as He has forgiven me. Once you have chosen to follow Him, He will help you to change and He’ll take you on a journey that will amaze you, just make the decision to follow Him!

Have a good weekend!

Richard

Judgement Day of Golf

Here is a story for all people out there who consider themselves to be Christians.

Seeing as I’m trying my hand at parables, how about this one. Lets say that you’re a golfer, not a pro but keen, always looking to improve. It’s a lovely Saturday morning and your spouse suggests that you go and play some golf with your friend (not because they are trying to get rid of you but because they are a loving ‘other half’.. honestly). On about the third hole, you realise that your friend is beating you, even though you have putting down to a fine art and they don’t, their driving is so much better than yours because they have a better swing. You shrug it off. Next hole they realise that your swing could improve, so he/she says to you, “Would you like me to show you how to improve your swing?” You fly off the handle, “Who do you think you are judging me? How dare you, walk a mile in my shoes then you can tell me what do do, besides my putting is better than yours and you don’t see me rubbing it in your face!” Let’s stop there. Would you do that? Your friend is trying to help you be a better golfer, which is what you want. Would you tell them off like that or would you listen to what they have to say? If you would tell them off, then you seriously have to ask yourself whether or not you actually take your golf game seriously.

Now, for anyone who says that they would accept the help, why is it different when people come to you in love, and try and help you with your walk with God? Why do people jump down your throat when you try and help them? None of us are perfect. There is room for improvement in all of us, so we really should accept help from people who are not struggling in that area, and then help them in an area that we are strong in and they are not. This way we can all learn, improve and serve God better. Not even to mention how it will help us in our day to day lives. Why do we get so upset about ‘judgement’?

Just in case you think I’m making this up, 1 Corinthians 5:12 is pretty clear, amongst others. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 also makes it difficult to ignore, and then if you combine that with James 4:17, it starts to put you in the wrong for not confronting people. In fact, these scriptures talk about throwing people out of the church! I am merely talking about a little correction.

Let me make a few things clear. This needs to be done in love. We are trying to help people, not humiliate them. It is only for Christians, we are not here to judge non-Christians, we are here to lead them to Christ.

So to wrap it up, when you do ‘judge’ someone in order to help them improve, please do it in love and with respect. In the same regard, when someone approaches you in love and with respect, to help you, please take it as such and learn from it. This will make us all better people, and help us all to grow closer to God.

Keep running the race!

Richard

Parable of the Corner Kick

ImageWhen Jesus was here on earth, He often spoke in parables, in order for people to understand what He was talking about. With that in mind, I have written this one to try and explain what I think may be what the bible means by ‘walking by faith and not by sight’, and why we don’t often experience the fullness of what God has to offer. Take a read through it, this is just an idea of mine, as usual I am open to comments and alternative ideas, just have a look and see what you think.

Picture yourself as a striker for Real Madrid. 85 000 people watching you apply your trade, surrounded by quite a collection of professional footballers (soccer players for those in the States :-)). You are standing on the edge of the box, as Cristiano Ronaldo stands at the corner flag with the ball at his feet. He signals to you that he will float the ball over the penalty spot, and then proceeds with his short run up. As he floats the ball over, you start to move toward the spot, shake off the defender, jump in the air find the ball with your head sending it rocketing into the back of the net passed the outstretched keeper! GOAL! 80 000 fans screaming in delight, what a night, what a game, what a goal!

Could this be similar to how it works spiritually? God is at the corner flag, sending blessings (not necessarily money, but not excluding it either) into the box. You’re on the edge of the box, so you seem to be missing out on what God has got in store for you. The walking by faith not by sight statement is there to encourage us to walk by faith, something we trust and believe in, but have not yet seen.. Ronaldo told you where the ball was going to be, you moved into position. Running towards the corner flag (by sight) or staying where we are, would be useless. If we listen to where God is calling us, and move accordingly, will we not meet up with what He has planned for us? The beauty of following Christ is that it is not only us that are blessed when we walk by faith, the ‘corner taker’ is blessed as well as the thousands of fans watching. The same is true with following God. We are blessed by being obedient, as are others who benefit from us being servants of God, and God ultimately gets the glory.. Win, win, win situation.

I would like to encourage you to listen to what God is calling you to do, and do it. Try and forget what is going on around you, and listen for His voice. I know this is difficult. Trust me. I am trying to ‘practice what I preach’ and it is not easy, but it is rewarding. Remember, earlier you had to beat the defender and the keeper, and in life there are obstacles too, but beating them just makes it all the more rewarding!

Following Him one step at a time.

Richard