AFM Noordheuwel Krugersdorp

14 December

Christmas has so many aspects, some that are great, some that are not so great. Christmas has a historical side, an economic side and a cultural side.

Within all of this is the conflict, is the 25th of December the true date of Christ’s birth or is there a subtle pagan influence. The truth be known that it is quite certain that Jesus was not born on the 25th of December.

For me that does create caution around the celebration of the birth of Christ.

But after careful thought I do believe it is correct to celebrate the birth of Christ.  A time to tell his story to generations to come. In our home we are careful to include all the Christ centred values and to avoid the pagan aspects.

Christmas in its truest and purest is a season of joy, giving and remembering God’s gift to us, his Son.

From myself and my family, we would like to wish all the people at the Krugersdorp News a blessed Christmas. To the people who read this weekly article and say prayers for me, God bless you richly.

Finally, a big thank you to Jesus for being the reason for the season.

On the 25th of December we tell the story of the shepherds, angels, wise men, a star, a stable and gifts. Blessed Christmas, Krugersdorp!

7 December

A few weeks ago, on a Sunday morning, I was shocked to find that my motorcycle was stolen during the night. My mistake, it was not insured. If I knew that these people were coming, if I knew that they were planning to steal my bike, I would have done more to protect my property. In my heart I still hope and pray that the police will find my motorbike.

All of this made me think how the Bible describes the devil as a liar, a thief, a murderer. We know that he is out there ready to cause harm.  If we know that he is out and about waiting and watching for an opportunity to rob us, surely we need to take more care of God’s blessings in our lives.

As far as our earthly possessions, we can secure things with walls, fences, alarms and even guns, but the best way to protect the things money cannot buy is through our prayers.

The Bible puts it so well when it says, God puts a hedge around us.

Nothing that we can do can stop attacks, but we can make sure that we close the gate. The best way to keep the devil away is to stay close to God.

1 December

Having children is probably the most educational experience in life. Watching the progress of little bodies and minds preparing for life is amazing. As I watched my own children developing into adults, I learnt so much. In fact, I believe that the largest part of learning is probably copying or imitating. Children watch their parents and then copy their behaviour. Little girls walk, talk, dress just like mommy. Little boys pattern their behaviour on dad’s example.

If we know that we are being watched, and that our little disciples are imitating us, we need to proceed with caution.

Kids do not have the ability to distinguish between good and bad behaviour. In fact, they cannot always distinguish between right and wrong.

Both Jesus and Paul in the Bible say something worth thinking about. Paul says, “Follow my example as a follow Christ’s example.”

In fact, in 1 Corinthians Paul uses a word “imitate”.

It is the way we learn.

The warning today is for parents and politicians, millions of children are watching us.

23 November

Some people are quick to say that there is nothing in life for free. I disagree. Advice is often free. You can get free advice from almost anyone, anywhere, on any subject. People love to give advice. Often we even give advice without being asked to. The wonderful thing about advice is that you can offer it without knowing anything about the subject. Advice on matter of finance, health, relationships, even politics, is available on every street corner.

The problem with free advice is that there are consequences and even casualties.

There is no areas where free advice is more dangerous than on the subject of religion. Everybody has an opinion and everybody is an expert. But if the advice you are getting is wrong and you lose your way, the consequences could be eternal.

We are all influenced by people around us, parents, peers and public figures. Some people are so eloquent, so confident that we expose ourselves to danger. Who can you trust? Here is a little verse in the Bible that may help you. Isaiah 30:21, “…your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

The key is to listen to God’s voice, not man’s.

17 November

It would be impossible for me not to write something about the American elections. After 18 months of mudslinging and controversies, Donald Trump will be the next American president. Around the world some are disappointed and some very happy. World financial markets have been shaken and international forces are uncertain. This whole story shows us that the world is in shifting phase. The known, the historical, the predictable is now a thing of the past.

But the truth be told, the result of an election, as any other event in our lives, could be a blessing or a curse. The problem is that what looks like a curse today may be a big blessing tomorrow. And what can be interpreted as a blessing today could be a curse tomorrow.

2000 years ago the disciples of Jesus must have thought, this arrest, trial and crucifixion of our Lord is a bad thing. But with hindsight, it is easy to see that Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion has had an amazing impact on all of us.

So if your situation today looks as if all is lost, keep trusting God that in the future his will can be seen in your life.

God bless South Africa!

9 November

We all know the verse in the Bible that says, “It is better to give than to receive.”

Let’s be honest, getting a gift is always nice. The surprise, the excitement and the pleasure of getting a gift is almost indescribable.

To be recognized, to feel appreciation is so rewarding. But the joy of giving is by far a greater emotion. To this day I still remember the excitement of watching our children opening their Christmas gifts. We didn’t have a lot of money and the gifts were not very expensive. The joy of giving is a privilege. I think we have inherited this joy of giving from our heavenly Father. God loves giving. Every day of our lives he gets pleasure out of watching our lives.

A few months ago, in one of my devotions, I read the following, “How can you say thank you to God for all his gifts to you?” The answer surprised me. Being human I always want to return the favour or reciprocate with a gift from me.  But what can we give to God to show our appreciation. It is simple. Our appreciation is shown through, firstly acknowledging God as the giver. And secondly enjoying the gift. Enjoy your gifts!

27 October

The 2016 matric exams have officially started. Our children are under so much pressure to do well, and achieve good marks.

Parents and society hang a carrot in front of them. Study hard, get good marks, get an education, get a big job, then you will have lots of money and live happily ever after.

After a lifetime in this town, I have seen so many things. Some of the poorest, unhappiest people I know have lots of money. Cash, cars and comfort, they have plenty. People look at them with envy. Yet, when you look a bit deeper, all the vessels are empty.

Others that I know have very little in the way of earthly wealth, but they are truly rich. Most things in life have a price tag, cars, houses, overseas holidays, cost money.

But the richest people that I know have things money cannot buy. Things that are truly priceless. Their health, their joy, their peace and their faith. Don’t forget those famous words, “Naked you came into the world, naked you leave it.”  I have never seen a hurst with a venter trailer.

P.S. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:34. Where is your heart?

20 October

I often feel sorry for God. You cannot imagine how difficult it must be to be God. You have to try to please everybody. And if something goes wrong, you are the first one to get the blame. Then religious people often have the attitude that God owes them. I go to church, I live a good life and I give the church R100.00 every month. I am not like other people, I am a good person. So when you lose your job, your child develops an incurable illness, you are angry with God. You may stop going to church, keep your R100.00 a month gift and even stop praying.

We live in a broken world, times are difficult. God is not responsible for the war in Syria, the financial mismanagement in the U.S.A. God does not pump our food with poison, pollute our sea and air. God does not promote violence or disease. Like you, I have millions of questions and very few answers. I don’t know why bad people prosper and good people suffer. I cannot explain why little children get cancer.

Like you, I hate cheap, religious answers. But like you I have to ask God to help me not to understand but to hold his hand. Maybe all this trouble isn’t God’s doing at all.

13 October

Many years ago, as a chaplain in the Defence Force, doing my National Service, a group of soldiers asked me, “Prove to us that there is a God”. I know the Bible, and I am personally convinced that there is a God. But how do you prove the existence of God?  After a moment of panic I took off my wrist watch and placed it on a stone in front of the questioning soldiers. I proceeded to tell them that this watch was the result of the big bang thunder storm. They sat with total disbelief that lightning struck a rock and it melted and formed the watch.

Then I tried a different approach. During millions of years this watch evolved.  That didn’t work either. There was 100 % consensus the watch was created by an intelligent designer. Then I asked one of the soldiers to sit on the rock. A minute of silence was observed before I spoke. The complexity of design and function between a wrist watch and a human being cannot be compared.

Therefore I have to assume that we are created. Looking at the man sitting on the rock, I am convinced that there is a God. Next time you doubt, hold a new born baby in your arms and decide for yourself.

5 October

Dedicated to all our matrics of 2016.

If only the academics was your biggest concern. You have both peer and parent pressure. You have the pressure to achieve a certain level of marks to enter a field of study you or your parents have chosen.

If you don’t get those marks, you may feel like a failure. The key to success is simple, avoid distractions and don’t waste time.

This simple formula is important, not only for our matrics, but for every one of us.

As a Christian you have the same battle. There is a dozen distractions to keep you away from Bible reading, praying and church attendance.

A student has to have studies as a priority, especially with the final exams a few weeks away. Discipline is so important if you want to achieve your best.

As a Christian, I also have certain priorities. The discipline of reading my Bible, making time for prayer and going to church. This reminds me of a Sunday School song, “Read your Bible, pray every day and you grow, grow, grow. Neglect your Bible, forget to pray and you will shrink, shrink, shrink.”

P.S. “Seven prayerless days makes one weak”.

28 September

Someone tried to put a minister’s duties in a nutshell. Hatch, match and dispatch. Dedications of children who one day get married and finally die. To my own shame I have to admit that it is only with funerals that I can say I have never had a single comeback.

But it is with weddings where I have seen the biggest shift over the years. From time to time a bride would request the removal of the word “obey” from the vows. Yes, times have changed and it may be fitting to remove this word. But it is the second request that puzzles me. Couples, from time to time, ask if I could please remove the phrase “until death us do part”.

An H.P. is 60 months, a house loan 20 years, “until death us do part” seems almost a life sentence.  Never in history has the institution of marriage been more challenged. People choosing to live together, people getting divorced for no real reason. Unfaithfulness to a partner and a self-centred philosophy makes marriage either a no, no or a short term arrangement.

But for the many happily married couples, marriage is still the best gift God has ever given us.

If you are happily married, you are blessed. Amen

21 September

How often do you think of dying? Most of us try to avoid the topic, even making light of it in jokes. But death is with us every day.  Most of us lost a grandparent, parent, sibling, spouse or child through death. It is universal! You and I will also one day die.

I found a verse in the Bible that really made me think of my attitude to death. Ecclesiastes 7:4, “The fool thinks of happiness, a wise man thinks of death.”

Thinking about death, I drew up a tick list of things we need to do before we die.

1)    Make right with God.

2)    Make right with others.

3)    Make right with yourself.

4)    Complete the task God has given you.

5)    Make sure that your family is provided for.

6)    Every day enjoy God’s gifts to you.

Being ready to die makes us ready to live. Once you have ticked all the boxes, you can be ready to live a life of “abundance”. Death is not just for old people, it can come at any time for anyone.

Words of profound wisdom, “a wise man thinks of death”.

My mantra when it comes to death is, “Don’t be scared, be prepared”.

14 September

Proverbs 22: 1, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.”

Late for a meeting I rushed into a shop that rents out building equipment. Forms had to be filled in before I could take the equipment. Being late, I really didn’t have time for the paperwork. You can imagine my joyful surprise when the lady behind the counter said, “It is Pastor Mes, he can bring the completed form when he returns the goods.” I was being trusted because of my name. To cut a long story short, I was not late for my meeting. But for the rest of the day I thought of the value of a good name and reputation. Some of you may be thinking, “Isn’t there a hint of pride in the Pastor’s heart?” No! Realizing the love and trust people give me in this great town, didn’t make me proud, but twice as determined not to disappoint others.

That is when I came face to face with the fact that it takes a lifetime to build a good name and one split second to destroy it. I have made it my final ambition in life to one day die without bringing shame to God or my family.

A good name is of more value than apples of gold.

7 September

Every one of us has a past, a present and a future. The danger is that we, by choice, live in one of the time zones. Some people choose to live in the past. Their whole world is yesterday. They think about the past, talk about the past and allow their past to determine their tomorrow. Other people choose to live only for today. Their mantra is, ”Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may never come, so live today as if there is no tomorrow.”

The rest of us live in the future. We think that things will be better, one day. We try to forget the past, survive today, just hoping for a miracle tomorrow.

Matthew 6:34 gives some wise council, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Let us not forget the lessons learnt in the past. Let us not dream about tomorrow too much either. The challenge you and I face is to use this day, a gift from God, to its fullest.

Wise words. Use a seed from yesterday to plant today. So that you will have a harvest tomorrow.


1 September

Routine could be a key to success and even happiness.  Recently I heard someone express their frustration with trying to lose weight. The person shared this important fact, “When I get out of my routine, I gain weight.” With a strict routine of work, exercise and relaxation, room is created for a healthy eating pattern.  Every successful sports star has a strict routine. People that are successful in business often also have strict routines.

This key could be a key to spiritual wellbeing. If you are in the routine of reading your Bible every day, you will read your Bible every day. If you are in a routine that on Sunday you go to church, well, then it is easy. If you get out of your routine, you may miss a few days of reading the Bible, or a few weeks of attending church.

Yes, having a spiritual routine is important if you are to develop into a mature Christian.

“If you read your Bible and pray every day, you will grow.”

I encourage you to maintain good routines so that you will grow spiritually.

24 August

The Bible challenges us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. It is so easy to develop negative thoughts about an individual, it can become almost impossible to see anything good in that person.

Years ago a young man arrived at my office. He had issues with his father. Tempers flared and things were said that could never be withdrawn. I listened to the boy unloading his frustrations. When he ran out of steam, I asked him how well he knew his dad.  His answer was, “Very well.”  Without divulging too much, I shared a few things about the father’s childhood and personal battles. At the end I said a prayer.  You cannot imagine how surprised I was a few weeks later when I saw the boy again. He thanked me for my prayer. He told me how his dad was a changed man. I phoned his mom to confirm the miracle. To my surprise she said the father had not changed at all. The miracle was, according to her, the change was in her son. Then the penny dropped. The boy reacted differently to his dad because of the picture I painted.

How you see God will determine how you relate to him.

17 August

Mandela apparently said, “People are not born hating other races, they learn to hate.” I think we would all agree that that is true. Based on that I believe that people are not born liars, they learn to lie. Most parents are shocked and disappointed when their children lie to them. Children don’t learn to lie from peers and politicians. Often times children are taught to lie by their parents. The following story illustrates this fact. The mommy and her 6 year old were traveling on a train. The rule was 5 years and younger travel for free. Knowing the conductor would make his rounds, the mommy told her son, “If the conductor asks how old you are, say 5.” Sure enough, the conductor came around and asked the boy, “How old are you?” Just as he was told, he answered, “5, sir.”

The mommy saved a bit of money but created a problem. Lying is ok.

Later on the trip the conductor returned on his rounds and asked the boy a question, “So sonny, you are 5.” “Yes, sir,” he replied. “So when do you turn 6?” The little boy thought for a moment and answered, “Sir, as soon as I get off of this train.”

Next time you tell your child, “Say daddy is not home”, Think about the long term consequences.

And don’t be surprised if your child one day lies to you. Only the truth can set us free!

10 August

“Unintended consequences”. I wonder if you have ever had to fill in an insurance claim. If you tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, the company may not pay out your claim. If you leave out a small bit of information, and add a bit of colour, you can be sure of a pay-out. The problem is that you are a Christian. You cannot lie, you feel guilty about a half truth.

You will probably not go to hell for the omissions and additions, but there will be “unintended consequences”.

How will your wife, husband and children view your words in the future? If you lie on a claim form, you could lie about the lady at the office and why you work so much overtime. In fact, it can be said, “Can we believe anything he says?”

Another “unintended consequence” could be in the future when your child has to fill in a form.  My dad did it, maybe it is not that bad.

What started as a white lie or a half truth, could end up as society that does not know the difference between right and wrong. Telling a lie could be the start of things to come. It may end up that we don’t just tell lies but that we start to live a lie.

You and I cannot change the world but we can commit to telling the truth.

Lying is an almost acceptable part of 21st century life. But being truthful is still a Christian virtue that we need to live by.

3 August

With the elections now past, I wonder how much will really change in your life. Politicians are good at two things, making promises and attacking opponents.

I wonder what influenced your choice at the ballot box.  Maybe it was the historic value of a certain party or the hope for change. Something influenced your choice. It is not only politicians that make promises and attack the opposition.

Pastors, Reverends and Dominees often do the same. They promise you a better life, health, wealth and happiness. If you join their brand, you get, as a bonus, a home in heaven.

Just in our little town there are at least a 100 churches to choose from, not to mention different religions.  Jesus didn’t do any of this electioneering stuff. He didn't promise health, wealth and happiness. In fact, his words were not scripted by a public relations officer.

“In this world you will have trouble.” “What they did to me, they will do to you.”  He promised persecution, he spoke about rejection and betrayals.

In fact, it was Jesus who said, “You cannot be my disciple unless you take up your cross and follow me.” Did he make any promises? Yes, these two amongst the many promises, has carried me through some difficult days. 1) “I will never leave you or forsake you.” 2) I am going away but I will return to fetch you.”

P.S. When it comes to eternity be careful for false prophets and passionate electioneering.

27 July

How observant are you? Believe it or not, but spring is only a few weeks away. Every year at spring time, God’s creation introduces change. The cold is replaced by warmth, the grey with bright warm colours.

Spring is a time for new life, hope and strength. The sad part of spring is that many of us are so caught up with life that we miss the miracle. Rushing off to work, juggling all our duties, we tend to miss the blessings of spring.

This drive to be first, best and top, robs us of chances, not only to see the magic of spring, but we often miss the handy work of God in our every day. Our lives would be richer and more meaningful if we could stop and enjoy God’s gifts. The ability to see the magnificent colours of a rose and smell its rich aroma of fragrances, the sound of birds singing in the trees or the gentle rush of water in a stream.  That amazing exhilaration of tasting something that brings pleasure to you.  Then the security and warmth of a touch by someone you love. God gave us all of these senses to get us through each new day and the challenges it presents. If you are not careful, you could live in poverty while possessing unimaginable wealth.


Don’t miss out, stop, look and listen. God loves you!!


Nature is always amazing. Being in the bush refreshes the soul and cleanses the mind. Our family own a house on an eco-estate in Limpopo called Leeupoort. It is one of a few places in the world where people and animals live in harmony. Because there has been   no hunting on the estate for many years, the animals have become very at home in close encounters with humans. Recently my wife and I experienced such an encounter. Half a dozen or so arrow marked babblers joined us at the bird hide. One of them trusted me so much that he repeatedly sat close to me, even trying to pick food pieces from my hand. I weigh probably 300 times as much as this little creature. I am of a very different species, yet, the trust shown was amazing.  We sat looking at each other completely relaxed. Trust between humans is rare. Due to past experiences and hurts, we don’t easily trust friend or foe. With this close encounter with one of God’s wonderful creatures, I became aware of God’s love for all of us. The Bible says in Matt. 10:29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny, yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” There is a common bond between us and animals, the same loving God made us all.

Next time you have a close encounter with a trusting animal, remember God’s love for all of us.

P.S. I wish I could trust God as completely as our animals trust us. Amen.

14 July

Have you ever said or even thought, “I cannot do this anymore”, “I am finished”. A feeling of hopelessness is more debilitating than any physical limitation.  It seems that in the 21st century people give up too easily.

The truth is that giving up is not always a bad thing. There does come a time when giving up is the lesser of two evils. But giving up can become a lifestyle, an escape from life’s challenges.

Giving up does not build character, strength or success. Jesus faced opposition from the day he was born to the day he died. Opposition from political and religious groups. Opposition from family and friends. In the end it was Judas that, for 30 pieces of silver, betrayed Jesus with a kiss.

Jesus never exhibited any bitterness, revenge was not in his character. In fact, a few of his last words reveal a man that deserves our respect. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

I don’t know why you feel like giving up, throwing in the towel, but I know that Jesus understands your battle.

Maybe you should stop and think first, get a bit of advice. Remember, “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.” You are not alone!

7 July

Pain is universal. Without exception, every one of us has experienced pain. A head ache, back ache or broken limb, to mention a few types of pain. It is also universal that none of us like pain.

After careful thought, we have to recognize that pain is extremely important. If it wasn’t for the mechanism in each one of us to feel pain, our lives would be in danger. Not knowing that the bath water is hot, not able to react to coffee or soup that is very hot, you could expose yourself to physical harm.

Another very important God-given protection mechanism in every one of us is our conscience. Once your conscience is damaged, you are not only in danger but you become a danger to others.

That little voice God puts in you that says ‘don’t do that, it is wrong’.

Unfortunately many people today have what the Bible calls a “seared conscience”. 1 Tim. 4:2

We know, for example, that lying, stealing, rape and murder is wrong. But through time, it is possible that our value system can be broken.

Guilt is universal, guilt is not pleasant but without the ability to feel guilt, our lives could be destroyed.

A healthy conscience is a great protection.

29 June

I love my family! Family is not only precious but family is the gift we often neglect. As a father, I was shocked when I read a verse in the Bible about the influence of dads. A few times in 1Kings these words are repeated, “He followed in his father’s footsteps and did evil in God’s eyes.” Children love their parents. Little boys want to be like their dads, little girls want to be like mommy. Without us fully aware of it, our children copy our actions, reactions and even attitudes. At work and in public you and I can put our best foot forward, but our children copy the other foot.

In 2Kings there is a very different picture. “He followed in his father’s footsteps and did good in God’s eyes.”

Civil disobedience, violence, corruption and murder is not something our children learn from a textbook. Our children follow in our footsteps, learning from us. The key to South Africa is parents walking in God’s ways.

If your children follow in your footsteps, where will they end up?

15 June

Religions all around the world share a common ideology. Love! If we look at the founders of the world’s major religions, we pick up many of the same dreams and desires. Then an act of violence, as we have just witnessed in the U.S.A., makes us rethink our simplistic idea of religion.

Over the centuries, so many hate crimes have been committed by people who claim to be religious.

Now we, from all religious communities, need to go back to our roots and rediscover the basic principles of our faith.

As a Christian, I am ashamed of things that have been committed in the name of God.

On a recent Facebook entry, a biker enthusiast put the following, “Being a biker does not make you a bad person, just like going to church does not automatically make you a good person.”

Matthew 5:43, “You have heard that it was said, love your neighbour

 and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies…”

The following words were spoken by Jesus. “He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

8 June

All over the world there is conflict. People are dying while the world watches. Then in our own little part of the world, three people are murdered. People that a few days ago walked our streets, shopped in our shops and lived in our suburbs. Fear and anger has gripped our hearts. Ink on paper feels almost futile. The grief and pain of the families of these three individuals and the many others that don’t make the headlines. My heart is broken as I think about parents that have lost a child, children that have lost a parent. Maybe a spouse that is now without their soul mate.

Prayer seems almost not enough. But it is prayer that carries us through our valleys. So often, over the years, when I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death with a grieving family, I have heard these words, “I felt like invisible arms carried me today.” Those invisible arms, I believe, are the prayers of others for us.

If you are deeply touched by these events, join me now. Take just 5 minutes to pray for the family and friends of these people who have died so tragically. Let’s carry them to God now!

P.S. A stranger is a friend you have never met.

2 June

Have you ever heard someone say, “All roads lead to Rome”? Many people use this phrase to express that all religions lead to God. If that is true, that would be great. Heaven would be a happy place filled with a variety of people from all sorts of religions.

But what if all religions don’t lead to God. What If the one that you embrace leads to a “cul-de-sac”? Even within one religion, like Christianity, you have so many paths to choose from. Even amongst Islamic people there seems to be some divides.

Religion, over the years, has divided us. In fact, religion has sown distrust, even violent hatred, towards people with different beliefs than ours.

The New Testament seldom uses the word religion in a positive light. In fact, most of Jesus’ enemies were religious people. His harshest words of condemnation was reserved for, yes, you guessed it, religious people.

But the Bible gives a clear and simple description of what God sees as pure religion.

James 1:27, “Religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is this, to look after orphans and widows in their distress…”

25 May

With so many animals in our world facing extinction, we need to focus on the value of God’s gift to us. Greed and human demands for products have led to the slaughter of so many species.

Many things we take for granted are also under threat, clean water, fresh air and something often forgotten, silence. Absolute silence, in its purest form is very rare.

From the time your bedside alarm rings until the moment, 12 hours later, when you fall asleep, it is a constant noise.

Radio, T.V., cars, planes and people’s voices drown out our much needed moments of silence.

Silence is not only golden, it is rare. I believe the constant noise is part of the devil’s tactic to stop us from thinking and listening to God’s voice.

Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Referring to God’s voice, the Bible says, don’t ignore that soft, little voice.

If you want to avoid the pain of wrong decisions, practice solitude. If you want to hear God’s voice, practice silence.

If you want to experience a miracle, stop, look and listen.

18 May

With winter finally here, life is busy changing. Fire in the fireplace, layers of clothes and winter foods.  I love a nice bowl of thick soup or a nice stew. But, by far, my favourite winter delight is a strong curry. But very few people can make curry like the Indians do. Many years ago I asked an Indian chef, what does she do to make her curry so unforgettable. Her answer became the heart of a sermon and today an article for the Krugersdorp News. Besides all the variety of secret spices, the key is to let the meat soak in the curry mix until the curry gets into the meat.  That’s when the sermon started to take shape in my mind. Many Christians are Christ coated. They never spend enough time with God, Jesus or the Bible for its flavours and strength to penetrate into their hearts. That’s why many Christians may look like Christ on the surface, taste like him, but if you cut into them, there is a very different flavour. The challenge for any Christian is to be in God long enough for God to get into us.

P.S. How deep is your Christianity?

11 May

Have you ever heard someone say, “If you believe that you can believe anything.”  I feel like that when I hear all the promises made by many of our political parties as they launch their manifestos before the elections. If you believe them, you can probably believe anything. Lots of things will be for free they say, but we know better. It is called politics.

Maybe the only promises we can believe is the ones in the Bible.

Jesus never promised a rose garden, he didn’t offer health, wealth and happiness.

He said that the road would be steep and rough, the mountains and giants plenty. One very important promise he did make was, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

It is this one promise that carries me through my valleys in life. Knowing that God is with you helps you not to give up or give in.

The difference between God’s promises and politician’s promises is track record. God’s promises to you and I are solid and completely trustworthy.

P.S. Can people trust your promises?

4 May

Every year on our church’s calendar is a date set aside for “Mother’s Day”. Strictly speaking, it is not a biblical or even a church date. It is probably purely economic and secular. A time we are encouraged to spend money on perfume, jewellery or flowers to celebrate our mothers. So why is it on the church’s calendar? A little verse in the Bible gives me reason enough, “Honour your father and mother”.

Years ago I had to find a scripture for a Mother’s Day service.  Frustrated at finding nothing that year, I used a verse that surprised most of the congregation. The story about Jesus feeding 5000 people with 5 fishes and a few loaves. Yes, I know the story is about Jesus, the disciples, 5000 people and a little boy. There is no mother in the story, but as I prayed about the sermon, I felt God saying, “Yes, there is a very important person in the story that you have missed.”

Then I saw the light. It must have been a mother that packed that boy’s lunch. The punch line of that Mother’s Day sermon was, “What have you given your child that Jesus can use to help others.”

Mother’s Day should be every day. It is our moms that sow into our lives so that we can help others. What have you given your child that Jesus can use?  Bless our mothers!!

27 Apr

The Bible is divided into books, chapters and verses. I wonder if you know which verse is the shortest verse in the Bible. John 11:35. “Jesus wept.”  This verse expresses such powerful emotion. It does not say that Jesus cried or shed a tear. The word “wept” is full of emotion that is seen if someone is sobbing uncontrollably.

These two words give us the heart of Jesus. Not a creator watching from a distance, not some impersonal force that does not feel our pain.

You and I may not understand or fully appreciate God’s involvement in our lives.

Jesus cares about every person, even you. He knows your heartache. He feels your pain, he sees your tears.

Yes, without exception, every one of us from time to time, may feel that no one cares, no one loves us. The link between God and yourself is seen most clearly in these two words, “Jesus wept.”

Imagine how different the world would be if we could feel each other’s pain to the extent where we could sob for people we don’t even know.

P.S. Religion is not defined by sympathy but by deep empathy.

20 Apr

As a father of children and a Pastor of a church, I am, at times, overwhelmed by what people have to endure. The skeletons from yester-years together with the uncertainty of tomorrow. Both of these, in the shadow of all you have survive today. I often ask myself, “How do people cope without God in their lives?”

So many Christians are confused by the gap between what the minister says on a Sunday and the reality on Monday.

We are told, don’t worry, everything will work out in the end.

The reality of being a Christian is not a promise of easy street or guaranteed success. We are directly and indirectly affected by the broken world we live in. I don’t know why so many “good” people suffer, but I know “good” people, if they hang on, will get through it. If you are just hanging on, here is a word for you. Jesus said, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” John 17:15. God loves you.

P.S. Quote from a movie, “Everything will be ok in the end, if it isn’t ok, it’s not the end.”

14 Apr

With morning and evening temperatures dropping, we know winter is on its way. With winter, we know, comes the common cold. There are two ways of avoiding the flue. Don’t shake hands with people, don’t kiss and, if at all possible, avoid any contact with people.  This is probably the best way to avoid getting sick, but it is not practical.  The second way to lessen your chances of getting sick is to build up your own immune system. Taking extra vitamin C, maybe a flue injection and eat right.

In a similar way we cannot avoid sin. It is everywhere. We live in a broken world. The best way to avoid the effects of sin is to withdraw from people and make no contact with other human beings. That’s just not practical. The Bible says, “We are in the world but not of the world”. 

The best way to avoid sin, getting a grip on your life, is to build up your spiritual immune system. How can you do that? Regular Bible reading, prayer and meditation.

“Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.”

7 Apr

Life is so unfair! For some people everything goes right all the time. Everything they touch turns to gold. Many others have a very different lot in life. It is almost as if, from the cradle to the grave, it is one long uphill struggle.

Through the years I have also fallen in the trap of believing that life is so unfair.

But, on closer inspection, I have realised that some of the people that I thought had it all, didn’t have it all. Yes, they have the cars, the houses, the extra cash. They seem to be so happy. Then I look at my circumstances. It is not that things are bad, but it could be a lot better.

Then I realised that happiness can be false and prosperity a vapour.

Happiness, built on what we have or what we have achieved, is not true happiness.

True happiness is when we have peace with God, and good relationship with our family. Money cannot buy or replace God and family.

Psalm 68:6, “God sets the lonely in families.”

If you have God and family, you are rich!

30 Mar

“Elke huis het sy kruis”, “Every house has a cross”

Every one of us, without exception, has a mountain, a giant, maybe even a demon we fight, no matter what the colour of skin is, your age, religion or gender. Even your education or bank balance does not exclude you from having a cross. During the recent Easter celebration, we remember that Jesus also had s cross to bear. An interesting thought on Jesus and his cross is that he is God. He was never a victim. He had the power to kill his enemies, avoid arrest. He could have changed his trial and the death sentence he received. But Jesus went through all of that for a reason. His power was not an escape from life’s challenges, his power was to get him through it all.

On the 3rd day the Bible says he was raised.

It is a misappropriation of power if we as Christians use God’s power to live on easy street. No, God’s power invested in you is not to escape problems but to get through them.

NB. Without a death there can be no resurrection. No matter what your cross, his power in you will get you through it. Amen.

23 Mar

Rain, rain, don’t go away. South Africa is in the grips of a terrible drought. Yes, it would be difficult to survive without electricity but we soon realize that it is impossible to live without water.

We all know how important water is but we seldom stop to think what we would do without it.

Many of us believe that there is a God. A creator, a designer that not only made us but that put a bit of himself into each one of us. Like with water, we may take God for granted. So busy in our own world that we forget to thank him for the little things he does to make each day possible. Imagine the world without God. No hope and no purpose.

Suddenly I realize that many people honestly and sincerely believe that there is no God. In my mind I start to do a few simple calculations. The things that point to a master creator on one side and the stories that promote the evolution of all things.

At the end of it all I have to admit it takes more faith to believe that there is no creator than to believe in God.

We are, I believe, more than chemical accidents.

16 Mar

Is there such a thing as “pure religion”? In a recent meeting with someone that believes in the purity of science, I started to think and ask questions about the purity of religion. My conclusions shocked even my own ideology. Strictly speaking nothing on earth can be pure. There is probably not a single drop of pure water on earth. There is not a breath of pure air on earth or an ounce of pure gold. Everything has impurities or pollutants in it. Science, religion and, yes, politics can never be pure because of the influence of impure humans. We pollute water, air and, yes, religion.

So the conclusion at a quick glans is simple, there is no pure religion, or is there?

Suddenly a single verse from a very old book comes to mind. On the subject of purity, the Bible makes one bold statement that is worth a thought. “What God the Father consider to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world.” James 1:27.

Let’s make it our ambition to be more pure.

9 Mar

Recently while meditating on prayer I stumbled onto what I believe is an unintended benefit of prayer. For many people prayer is a duty. We often use prayer to get God to do what we want. “Give me, give me”, could be a description of our prayer lives.

Yes, through prayer we offer God our thanksgiving and we make known our request, we should use prayer to seek forgiveness for our daily transgressions.

But an unintended benefit to regular prayer times must be better health.

Stress may not be the number one cause of death but stress may be the weakening of our immune system and the trigger of many modern day illnesses.

Simple and sincere prayer with an element of meditation definitely has health benefits.

After a few minutes of prayer stress levels automatically decrease.

Medicine may treat the symptoms of modern day ailments but prayer deals with the root cause of most 21st century illnesses, stress.

A definite benefit of prayer and meditation is better health.

3 Mar

When you hear the word “prayer”, you see pictures in your mind of kneeling, eyes closed and maybe even a church building. Nothing could be further from the truth. Prayer is not limited by posture, pose, place, or even certain people. That is what is so amazing about prayer. Anyone, anywhere, at any time, can pray. Yes, you can talk to God and he will hear you. You may say, “I am not good enough”. Then you are probably the perfect person to get your prayers heard. Throughout the Bible a clear pattern developed where God responded to humble people instead of religious people.

Prayers should be simple, natural and even short. Jesus, in a simple teaching on prayer, warns us to keep it short. Matthew 8:8, “And when you pray do not keep babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” Keep it short, simple and sincere.

23 Feb

It is more than a saying, or a simple mantra. “Your attitude will determine your altitude.” Recently I have had to apply for a new passport. You can imagine my apprehension. Home Affairs is a government department. Automatically we think inefficiency, even corruption. Negative people saying negative things make us negative before we even start.

I said to myself, relax, you have taken the day off. Just smile and be friendly. To cut a long story short, 90 minutes later I walked out of Home Affairs with a smile on my face and a skip in my step. Is Home Affairs perfect? Will everybody who goes there have a great experience? Probably not. But like in my situation, attitude is the key to positive experiences.

The world will never be perfect, but your attitude will not only make your world a better place but it can influence the world around you. I love South Africa!

P.S. With God in your heart, how can you not have a great day.

18 Feb

God loves children.

My wife has, over the past few years, really developed her painting skills. Today we have about 40 big and small paintings all over our house. I feel as if I am living in a gallery. One thing every painting has in common is that it starts off as a blank canvas. A picture in my wife’s head slowly takes shape until you have a finished product.

Last year we announced that we would have a baby dedication service, in the end, 18 babies, 36 parents, about 50 grandparents and many Godparents stood in front of the church waiting to be prayed for. As I took each of the 18 babies in my arms to pray a blessing over them, I could not help thinking of my wife’s paintings. Each child a blank sheet filled with potential.

Over time we allow God to create a masterpiece, each one unique and valuable.

Imagine how amazing the world would be if every child became what God intended him or her to be. Jesus said, “Don’t hinder the children but allow them to come to me.”

God bless our children.

10 Feb

More than 15 years ago a young detective promised a dying girl that he would catch those that hurt her. Last week, after many years, the last of the four that brutally assaulted and killed the girl, went to jail. Once again I became aware of the danger of sin. You can live your life, go on like it is all ok, but your past and mine can catch up with us without warning. A young girl or boy was sexually violated. Many years later justice can catch up with a person that destroyed an innocent person’s life.

But it was the mother of the murdered girl that brought reality into the situation. After the court closed and the man was sent to jail, she said, “I can forgive but I cannot forget.”

Many people struggle with unforgiveness. Like a cancer, it can cause pain and paralysis years after the event is over.

It is easy for the preacher to say forgive, forget, let bygones be bygones.

Healing starts when we ask God to help us to let go. Difficult as it is, we have to come to the place where we can let go.

Jesus is our ultimate role model. Hanging on a cross, punished for a crime he didn’t commit, he cried out these now famous words, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

You may not be able to forgive, but you can ask God to forgive those that hurt you. It’s a start!

3 February

Warning lights.

The dashboard of all cars have a few little lights that seldom go on but when they do it is time to take note. A significant warning light says, low fuel reserves. You can ignore the warning, look away and hope for the best. But you should actually sooner, rather than later, look for a petrol station.

Another little light says, low oil. Once again, it is just a silly light and you can choose to ignore it at your own peril.

Another serious warning light says, engine over-heating. Ignoring these warning lights can cause inconvenience or even great financial pain.

God built into every human being warning lights, over-tired, over-stressed, over-anxious.

No matter how strong you are, you have limits. You can ignore the signs and just go on, or you can pull over and attend to the problem. You may have to adjust your diet or take a break. 6 days’ work, 7th day rest may not be an old wife’s tale. It may be God’s way of avoiding inconvenience and great financial loss.

Mark 6:31, “Come with me to a quiet place and get some rest.”

28 January

Where do you live?

The question is simple but the answer may be more complex. Most people respond by giving their address. Although we sleep at home many of us spend very little time there.

I have learnt that all of us live in one of three places, the past, the present or the future.

Many people live in the past. Every time they speak it is about the bad or good in days gone bye. The Bible is clear that we should not forget the past but equally we must not live there. Past betrayals, rejections or failures can throw a shadow over your today and kill your tomorrow before it arrives.

Others live in the future. The weekend, the holiday or your retirement. If I get there or if I get that, I will be a happy person. The truth is, tomorrow may never come.

All we really have is today. It is a gift from God independent of yesterday and unaffected by tomorrow.

Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

4 Dec

Silence is golden.

Words of wisdom from one of my Sunday School teachers was, “God gave you two ears and one mouth because he intended for you to listen more and talk less.” From the Bible there does seem to be merit in her words of wisdom. The Bible in James 1:19 warns, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

Maybe a vow of silence or a definite restraint in talking would give us more opportunity to listen and to learn.

I have often caught myself working on my response to someone before I have listened to their whole story. “Silence is golden.” The Bible also gives great advice in the words, “If you keep quiet, people may think that you are clever.”

What about that amazing line in the Bible, “Be still and know that I am God.” The Bible teaches us to keep our prayers short.

Imagine a world with less talking and more listening. Imagine a world where silence is a gift. Imagine a world where the sound of wind and water enhanced with the sound of birds singing refreshes your soul. If you and I want to experience the beauty of God, we must practice the art of silence in the midst of a world filled with noise.

Don’t underestimate the power of silence.

27 Nov

Watch your weight.

Yippy, it is December! Another year is almost over and many of us are happy to see the end of the year. The biggest difference between December and January is our view of diet. In December we don’t really worry about our weight, “eat, drink and be merry”. In January all that changes and we work at losing all those extra kilos. On “Facebook” recently I read about a woman’s lifelong struggle to lose weight. In the end she actually gives up her battle with dieting. This was her plan B. “I have tried my whole life long to lose weight. I give up, from now on I am rather going to put all my effort into getting taller.”

We live in a time when people give up. In fact we may one day be known as a generation of quitters. We start with great enthusiasm and when the going gets tough, we give up.

At the start of this year we all had visions, goals and plans. With less than 30 days of the year left, don’t quit, complete what you started. 2 Cor. 8:11 paraphrase, “Now finish the work you so eagerly started, and complete the picture.”

With God’s help and a few practical tips nothing is impossible and quitting not an option.

Think before you start, make sure you have what it takes to finish the job. Budget time and resources to the vision. Don’t lose sight of the goal and don’t lose your joy. Have a party when you reach the goals you set. Pray for God to help you at the start of every day.

P.S. Don’t worry about your weight, work on getting taller?

20 November

Friday night in Paris was for many the end of a busy week and time to relax. A soccer game, a live band or just sitting at a side walk café enjoying French food. Then without warning, all hell broke out and a few hours later when the dust settled, about 130 people were dead and hundreds of others wounded. South Africans know their pain.

We understand violence because of our past and our presence. People ask me, where was God on Friday night, or the other times when things go so very wrong. Is he dead or just not interested. Maybe the pop song is right, “God is watching us, from a distance”. The sad part of the story is that some of those that died believed in God, while we are told that those that took part in the attack claim that they did it in God’s name. I ask you with tears in my eyes what type of God do you pray to. 1 Cor. 13:13 says, “And now these three remain, faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is LOVE.”

13th November

“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and then hoping the other person dies.” These words may sound like a clever mantra until you know who said these amazing words.

Yolanda Korkie’s husband, Pierre, was killed by Al-Qaeda in Yemen in 2014. Through the pain Yolanda chose to forgive. That choice was not easy but the results were profound. Pierre now has a legacy not filled with bitterness but love.

2000 years earlier Jesus hung on a cross, his body riddled with pain and he uttered these now famous words, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” As a Christian, my greatest challenge is not to preach only but to live the principles of Christ. Our personal suffering cannot be compared to Yolanda’s or Christ’s, but each one of us have suffered pain. Today you have a choice to forgive, not a statement or a mantra, but a heart choice to forgive, to let go, to release and to move on.

In Matt. 6:14 Jesus emphasizes the importance and power of forgiveness when he linked our giving and receiving the gift of forgiveness. “If you forgive people that have sinned against you, God will forgive you also.” A legacy is not built on bitterness but the peace that true forgiveness brings.

P.S. Forgiveness is not an act but an attitude. Amen

6 November 2015

I recently asked a group of Sunday School teachers what they would do if they won the Lotto, five or ten million. Their answers were similar. Settle all my debt, buy a house or car or both. But then they all had the same desire to help other people, the needy, orphans and widows. As we went around the table, each person’s eyes lit up as they dreamt out loud. Very few or any of them actually play the Lotto but they know what they would do if they won the money. I wonder what you would do if you actually won a few million.

Don’t wait, don’t hesitate, you could actually do more than you think with what you already have. You may not be able to start an orphanage but you could volunteer at an existing one. Your finances may not be sufficient to start a feeding scheme but you could volunteer to help at an existing feeding scheme.

Every one of us has something to give. Many years ago a little boy gave five small fishes and two loaves of bread to Jesus that fed over 5000 people. The key to changing the world is your willingness to give your little bit to Jesus that can multiply it to help many others.

Don’t wait for the Lotto, give what you can, money, time, skills and prayers and watch God do a miracle.

28 October 2015

I often discover, in a simple story, a big spiritual truth. An elderly woman, we are told, phoned a local shop and asked if they could please deliver a loaf of bread to her home. A young delivery boy took the bread to the old lady. She took the bread and said, “Thank you.” Surprised the boy replied that she must not thank him but the shop owner that sent him. The next day the lady went to the shop and thanked the owner for the bread. Surprised he said, “You must not thank me, but rather the baker that baked the bread.” Off she went to the baker to give her thanks for the bread. Shocked the baker told her not to thank him but to thank the farmer that produced the wheat. Once again the woman set off to find the farmer. Surprised he said to the woman that she should not thank him but to rather thank God that sent the rain.

An attitude of gratitude, saying thank you is so important. We must say thank you to all the people that have blessed us without forgetting to thank God for all he does for us every day.

Take a moment and think about the many people that have blessed you. Maybe pick up a phone, call or send a message of appreciation and thanks. Rom. 13:8, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another…”

P.S. Remember all God’s blessings in your life.

22 October 2015

One of the most frustrating things about getting older isn’t fading eyesight or dwindling strength. In fact, it is not even the aches and pains.

For me, the worst side of growing older is, you know too much. Life has taken you down so many roads. You have seen so much that you know too much for your own good. So often when people tell me that so and so has changed I have to bite my tongue.

From years of life I have learnt that people don’t change. Yes, people can change their own behaviour, but they are still the same. Most of us slow down when we see a traffic official. Why? Have you changed? No, but the pain of paying a fine makes you change your behaviour and you slow down.

People change when the pain is too much or the prize is big enough.

Sounds so negative when a Pastor confesses that he does not believe that people can change. No! That is your assumption. I don’t believe that we can change ourselves but I know that God can change people. God does not focus on changing our behaviour, he works on changing our hearts and minds, once that happens our behaviour will follow suit.

Next time someone claims to have changed, remember that actions speak louder than words.

P.S. Time will tell. Amen

7th October

Have you ever felt used? People were nice to you because they needed you or because they wanted something from you? That terrible feeling of being discarded after you have been squeezed dry. It is a universal feeling that we have experienced multiple times in our lives. That horrible realization that “I have been used”. I wonder if God sometimes feels like that, used? People use him to get something, but when things go well they forget about him. So much of our modern day Christianity is about us, our health, wealth and happiness. God tends to become a magic genie we call on, fetch, fix and feather our nests. People come to him for his miracles, his ability to multiply the fish and bread. When we read the Bible it is to find formulas to get what we want. When we pray it is all about ourselves. It was Jesus that showed the world true faith when he prayed, “Thy will be done”. Maybe 21st century Christianity has moved from theology to me-ology.

P.S. Who or what is in centre of your world?

29th September

I wonder if you have ever said, “Why did that happen to me?” You may reason, “I go to church, read my Bible and pray every day.” “Why me?” We like to label things. Winning the Lotto gets the label, “good thing”. Losing my job, “bad thing”. As a keen rugby nation losing against Japan was a “bad thing”. In reality it may have been a good thing. Losing that game led us to relook at our team composition and our game plan. The next Saturday was a different ball game. In life we all experience defeats, set- backs, “bad things”. This may be a perfect opportunity to refocus our lives. God is a God of second chances, new beginnings and fresh starts. As I look back over my life I appreciate the many things that I thought were bad actually turned out to be good. If South Africa win the 2015 Rugby World Cup, we may have to thank Japan.

P.S. Rom. 8:28. “We know that in all things God works for the good of those that love him.” (All things).

22 September

Living in Mogale has just become amazing. The discovery of some of our ancestors has placed us in the world’s spotlight. One of the unique aspects of this discovery is that these ancient relatives cared for their dead. Signs of one of our unique characteristics that make us different. 2000 years ago Jesus met two blind men that shouted for his attention. “Son of David have mercy on us!” In Matt. 20:34 one word caught my attention, “compassion”. Jesus had compassion on them. There are a few clear characteristics that differentiate you from animals. Your ability to make and use tools, the concept of time and probably the ability to have compassion. To feel someone else’s pain. Some people know a lot, others can do a lot but the people that have touched my life the most are people who feel a lot. They feel other people’s pain as if it was their own. Is it possible that through time we have lost the ability to care? Jesus had compassion on two blind people, he felt their pain and gave them their sight. We so quickly turn our heads away from beggars and suffering people around us. Poverty and unemployment are not our problem. The Bible uses another great word to describe our sad state. Our hearts have become “callous”. If we lose our ability to have compassion, we don’t lose a bit of our own humanity, we really lose a bit of God in us.

P.S. Can you feel the pain of others?

11th September

Going to movies is a very South African experience. Popcorn and cold drinks are just part of the deal. Recently my wife and I enjoyed a date night at the movies. The movie we chose was “The sugar film”. Half story, half documentary on the dangers and affects of sugar on our health. One line stuck in my mind. Sugar dulls the mind and if you don’t know how a clear mind feels, you won’t notice the affects of sugar.

I thought about religion. Going to church, doing the rituals could also give a false sense of well being. Sugar and religion can probably both give a feeling of well being. In fact both may have elements of addictive behaviour.

Now for the punch line, Jesus wasn’t born and didn’t die to make us religious, no he was born and died to free us from religion. Religion tends to cloud people’s thoughts and actions. True religion is simple, “Love God with your whole being and love your neighbour as yourself.”

P.S. Jesus was never comfortable with religious people.

3rd September

Where do you live? I don’t mean physically but in your mind, where do you spend most of your time. Every one of us is drawn into one of three time zones. Some of us choose to live in the past, while others live in the future. A few of us choose to live in the moment, in the present. Now, think about the question, “Where do you live?” Many people who I have spoken to live in the past. Some event, usually a very traumatic situation keeps them tied up in the past. A situation of sexual abuse, fear, rejection or even the loss of a loved one is always with you. Some people choose to live in the future. I will be happy when I reach that point or achieve this goal. Their whole lives are waiting for something that will hopefully bring peace or happiness. Both of these options can rob you of the joy of the present. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come so I hold on to today. The Bible encourages us to do what our hand finds to do. Use this day to please God and to touch someone’s life. Even in the Lord’s Prayer we are taught, “Give us today our daily bread.” Don’t waist today, it is all you have.

20th August

I wonder when last you attended a funeral, a bitter-sweet time when we mourn the loss of a loved one and create an opportunity to see family and friends. The grief in the service is followed by the visit around tables laden with snacks. Standing in the hatch in our church where we serve coffee, I often watch the interaction. It is on such a sad occasion when family and friends carry us through our darkest moments. Recently I read a strange verse in the Bible, Eccl. 7:1, “A good reputation is better than expensive perfume, and the day you die is better than the day you were born.” What a strange thing to say. Better the day you die than the day you were born. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. When you are born you start a journey full of pain, but when you die you rest. Listen to this quote, “When you were born, you cried and the world laughed, live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cries and you laugh.” Death, if you are prepared, is not the end, only the beginning. Are you ready?

15th August

“Once bitten, twice shy.” Most of us have trust issues. Broken promises, deep disappointments and personal betrayals cause us to have real trust issues. The truth is that no one can blame you for not trusting because your hurts were worse than death. A close friend, a business partner or a spouse that has disappointed you has left scars that not even time can heal. Although you cannot undo the past, you need to learn to trust again. As a Pastor I have experienced many disappointments. Some hurt so deep that I thought I would die. But by God’s grace I learnt to trust again. This learning process starts with forgiveness. You and I must forgive those who have sinned against us. Secondly, we need to take responsibility for the hurts we have caused others. Yes, none of us are completely innocent. Forgive and ask for forgiveness. Finally, take small steps in trusting again. As you proceed, your trust will grow. Start by trusting God. He has kept all his promises. Trust his word, it is full of hope. The key to victory over your past disappointments is to learn to trust yourself again. If anyone had legitimate reason not to trust, it was Jesus. His family didn’t believe him, his friend deserted him, one of his closest betrayed him with a kiss. He even felt that God had forsaken him. If Jesus can trust us, surely we can learn to trust in each other. P.S. If you can trust no one, you cannot trust yourself.

8th August

Are you ready for your own funeral service? You prepare for illness by having a medical aid, for holidays by making bookings and retirement by saving and investments. So why are you surprised about my opening question? Most of us try not to think about death, but in reality it is the only certainty in life. How do you prepare for your own funeral? For a starter, make right with your creator. Dying is not such an issue if you and God are in a close relationship. Then make right with family and friends. These are the people who will gather on your special day. What will they remember about you and what will they say? What legacy will you leave behind for your family and friends to think about? I have done hundreds of funerals over the years and each time I think about my own one. P.S. Psalm 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”

1st August

Is there really a God? Many people over the years have asked this same question. If there is not a God and we are the product of time, matter and space, well, than nothing really matters. Right and wrong, good and evil are not important. If there is a God, who is he, why did he make us and what does he expect from us? At a youth group years ago I faced this question from the kids, “Is there a God?” I chose a simple but effective response. I took off my wrist watch and placed it on a rock between the kids. As they looked at the watch, I said to them that I was out during an electric storm. A bolt of lightning struck the rock, melting it and forming the watch. None of them believed my story. Their unanimous opinion was, “That’s impossible.” Then I took a small rock and placed it on the big rock next to the watch. I explained that over hundreds of millions of years of weathering that the stone became a watch. Again their response was, “Impossible”. Then I put one child on the rock next to the watch. I didn’t have to say a word. They knew that it is impossible, there has to be a creator.

31 July

Do you feel like giving up, throwing in the towel, quitting. It is just all a bit too much and you cannot see the way forward.

A few weeks ago, at the start of our Sunday morning service, I really felt that God wanted me to say, “Don’t give up, give over.” I knew in my heart that it was a message for someone special and in a way it was a message for us all.

At the end of the service a young lady asked if she could say something. She briefly told of her husband’s battle with his company. That very morning, before church, he sat at home considering to close the company and retrench the staff. It was pay day and the bank balance was too low to pay salaries. You can imagine the surprise when they sat in church and the Pastor said, “Don’t give up, give over to God.” At that very moment this young couple did exactly that.

I got a phone call on Monday morning. God did a miracle, during the night the cash flow changed and there was enough to pay the salaries. God is amazing. Don’t give up, give over today.

23 July

Going to church is part of our culture. From a young age, many of us went to church and we have lots of memories of church, Sunday School and “bazaars”.

Going to church when I was young was serious stuff, dressed up and solemnly serious. Yes, there was no place for a smile or laughter. Looking around at the fashionable hats worn by the ladies had to be done discreetly.

The minister would tell us that Jesus wept, but we were made to believe that he never laughed.

Church was, for this young boy, a sad and solemn occasion.  The Good News translation of the Bible is amazing. Proverbs 17:22, “Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is a slow death to be gloomy all the time." Another translation puts it like this, “Laughter is good medicine.”

Sad is not automatically spiritual and happy is definitely not unspiritual.

I am so pleased that my children grew up in a time when going to church was a happy occasion. How do you feel when you walk out of church?

26 June

I wonder if you have ever thought to yourself, “Why do I even pray about things, God does exactly what he wants to do anyway.” As a pastoral couple, my wife and I pray for people all the time. Cancer, retrenchment, divorce are just a few things that keep us on our knees. So you can imagine my shock when my wife asked this question, “Why do we pray, God does what he feels best anyway.” This honest and sincere question has led me to do some soul searching.

We are emotionally involved in the situation and we only see a part of the picture. Our focus is on healing, a new job or a family reunited. But God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us.

This brings us to probably one of the wisest prayers possible. It is a prayer Jesus prayed in Matt. 6:10, “Your will be done.” Allowing God to do what is best for us. But there is an essential part 2 to this prayer, “Lord, give me the strength to trust you and to turn this battle into a victory.”

Remember, if God has brought you to this problem, he can get you through the problem.

Your giant may be big, your mountain huge in front of you today, but look behind you. On your side is a God that loves you. Trust him, follow his instructions and he will show you the complete picture.

P.S. God is not here to remove stumbling blocks but to pack them into stepping stones.

19 June

Be afraid, very afraid, your sins will find you out. Over and over again we hear about stories of people who have committed crimes years ago but things have finally caught up with them.

During the early years of South Africa’s history, a family settled on a piece of land and started to build a home. A young brother and sister had a terrible argument which led to revenge. The little boy stole his sister’s favourite doll. He took it outside to the back of the home and buried it in the ground. Many tears were shed but the doll was gone and nobody knew its whereabouts. That is until the rainy season. Suddenly, in the middle of nowhere, there sprouted maize shoots. Suspicious, the father dug the maize out of the ground. When the mommy made the little doll for her daughter she used maize pips to fill the doll. After the rain, the seeds germinated and the story came out.

You and I can carefully conceal our sins, but one day all will be revealed.

So often when I do a funeral I wonder what secrets is today going into the ground.

Sin is a terrible thing, it always comes up when you can least afford it.

3 June

It has been years since one sentence has haunted me like this one. I walked up to a young man and asked a simple question, “How are you?” Maybe the surprise of my presence startled him, but it was his reply that shook me. Without missing a beat, he said, “You know how it is, you must fake it until you make it.” The words burnt into my mind, “Fake it until you make it.” In my mind a fake is a fraud and a fraud is a lie. For three weeks I have struggled with this reality. We may be living in a world of frauds, people just faking it. Are people that are nice faking it? People that show concern, is it true concern or are they faking it? You and I cannot change the world, but we must make sure that we are not fake. As I drive my car, as I walk through the malls and as I lay quiet on my bed at night, I whisper this prayer, “God help me not to be a fake.” I don’t want to be a fake towards my wife, my precious children or to my church. As I smile and chat to the man at the petrol station or the lady at the till, I don’t want to be a fraud. In a world of fakes you and I can make a difference just by being who God made us. This is who I am, not perfect, but I am real. The world will be a better place if all of us were real. P.S. The problem with faking it until we make it is, once we make it, we cannot stop faking it.

27 May

It is true that every one of us has a past. How we deal with the past is as individual as our fingerprints, one size does not fit all and one solution is not for everyone. Without exception, each one of us has experienced pain in our lives. Some of us choose to live in denial, others may use their past as an excuse for failure today. The truth is that everything in our lives has contributed to us being who we are. In fact, some of the most painful experiences in our lives can become the roots for our very existence. The Bible is full of stories that illustrate how God used people who had experienced pain to bring hope and relief to others. Empathy and sympathy are born out of our own pain that helps us to identify with the pain of others. The apostle Paul, who himself faced so many challenges, learnt the secret to success. 2 Cor. 12:10, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Don’t allow your past to destroy your future, but ask God to help you to use your past to change the future of others. My pain is bearable if it has a purpose in bringing pain relief to others.

20 May

Nobody looks at tragedy or disaster as a blessing. We don’t like it when things go wrong in our lives. Over many years as a Pastor I have often seen how tragedy and disasters have opened the door to new things, better things and great achievements. Acting like wake up calls or move on moments these disasters can be breakthrough opportunities. Losing a job forces you to start your own business.  Even the loss of a loved one can be the start of an amazing spiritual awakening.Many people sitting in churches on Sundays are people who don’t need a crutch but a purpose.Religious people are not weak people but individuals who sense there must be more to life.Tragedies and disasters can make us bitter or better. You cannot change the cards life gives you, but you can play your cards with God’s help and turn disasters into blessings.

P.S. Failing can be the beginning of success.

13 May

Monty Roberts was one of a number of siblings in a family that was both extremely poor and restless. Their father, a farm worker, moved from one farm to another. The children changed schools a few times a year as the family kept moving. To make things worse, Monty was a below average student. At a new school, the English teacher asked the class to write in an essay their life’s dream. The essays were returned, Monty was shocked to see a large, red “F” on his essay. When he asked the teacher why she gave him an “F”, she replied, “Monty, you come from a very poor family with no education and you are not very smart. This dream is impossible, go and rewrite the essay and I will give a new mark.” Monty thought about it and after he spoke to his dad, made an amazing decision. He gave in the exact same essay and said the following to his teacher, “Madam, you keep your “F” and I will keep my dream.” Today that essay, neatly framed, hangs in Monty’s own 4000 sq foot house on his 200 hectares farm. Mark 9:23, “Yes,” said Jesus, “if you yourself can! Everything is possible for the person who has faith.” If you have a dream, don’t let anyone steal it from you.

6 May

I realize that I have been a Pastor for too long now, when even a simple cartoon story can give birth to a sermon. I recently heard the story of Snoopy sitting on his kennel, eating a bone, that got my mind going. Snoopy feels dejected as he watches Charlie Brown sitting around a table with his family, enjoying a turkey for thanksgiving. At first Snoopy thinks how unfair life is. Just because he is a dog, he must be satisfied with a bone. Then Snoopy thinks to himself, “It could have been worse, I could have been a turkey.” Wow, the lights went on in my head. All the times I have compared myself with people that have everything. Thoughts cross my mind of how unfair things are. I question God about his apparent favouritism. Look at those people’s homes, cars, holidays and here I am just surviving. All at once, my mind’s focus changed to count my own blessings, my health, my family, daily bread and shelter. Things that most people don’t have and I have it all. Since the light went on through the wisdom of a cartoon dog, every time I see someone that has more than I have, I quote Snoopy. Looking at my car, my house and my little blessings, I say, “Could have been worse, I could have been a turkey.” Stop competing and comparing with people that have it all and enjoy all you have. You could have been a turkey!

29 April

People in general love easy solutions and quick fixes. Almost like fast food, we want what we want and we want it now. This quick fix mentality has now made it into our churches and, yes, you guessed it, into our pulpits. It is very popular to preach sermons about prosperity and success. If you do this, you will get that, if you give an amount of money, you will get your miracle. Reality has painted a very different picture for me. I have watched so many people who do all the right things and very little goes right for them. I have seen people give so much and get back so little. You may ask, but why do we do the right things and give so much if we may get nothing in return. It is not that simple. If we do things and give things to receive the reward of an easy life, we are mistaken. God sees all we do and give and his promise is not that we won’t have trouble, but that he will go through the trouble with us. Fact! The more we are attacked, the stronger we become. Amen!

21 April

Xenophobic attacks have brought fear into millions of people’s lives in our country. Fear is not something that affects only foreigners in South Africa. Every one of us face fear regularly. Some people fear the dark while others fear uncertainty. Many people, from past experiences, fear rejection and betrayal. Fear can result in illness or addictive behaviour. Psalm 23:4 gives us hope. “I will fear no evil.” 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” David, who wrote much of the book of Psalms, gives us his own experience. Psalm 34: 4. “I sought the Lord, and he answered me, he delivered me from all my fears.” There is no magic formula to escape fear. Being human, we will have challenges, we will face giants. Being human, we will have fear. If your heart is gripped with fear today, don’t allow it to drag you down, walk closer to God. I have learnt that I have less fear if I know God is close to me. It is my prayer that South Africa will walk closer to God so that young and old can live in peace, not fear.

9th April

As if the world is not divided enough! The tragic news this week of 140 or more Kenyan Christians murdered. Their only crime was following Jesus. This senseless act of hatred only again shows the hypocrisy of our world. Just more than a dozen French lives lost and the world comes to a standstill. Almost ten times that amount of African lives lost and nothing happens. To make it even worse, the massacre is promoted as religious violence. The truth, in my opinion, is that it was a political act, not a religious one. Yes, the use of religious propaganda was drawn into it, but the truth is that no one can love God and commit such crimes. In God’s eyes every life is precious. In Matthew 10: 28-31 is an amazing piece to read and reread. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both the soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? Yet, not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; You are worth more than many sparrows.” As a nation we must pray for all the people in the world that commit crimes against humanity in the name of a God. Jesus once said, “Pray for your enemies.” Can you do that?

19th March

Feeling bad about something can be a vital sign of a healthy conscience. A few days ago I had to drop off documents at our local Home Affairs. The place was full of queues. Just my lucky day, there was no one in the office I needed to go to. After I was served, I walked out of the office to be greeted by glares. Surprised I asked, “Is this queue for this office?” The reply was an angry “yes”. I had pushed in. I apologized and dashed for the exit. I felt sick in my stomach, all my sermons, all my articles, all my reputation was dashed. I felt physically sick. Later, as I came to term with what happened, I realized the importance of the ability of feeling guilty. Many people in our society have lost the ability to feel guilty about things. People lie and don’t experience guilt, people cheat on their partners and have no remorse, people steal and don’t feel guilt. Suddenly I realize that if you do wrong things often enough, you lose the ability of experiencing guilt. The Bible speaks about “a seared conscience”. So if you still experience guilt, it means you are healthy. If you don’t feel guilt, you must be worried.

5th March 2015

All day, every day we are bombarded by words. Your bedside alarm radio starts it. Then the snippet of T.V. before you leave home, conversations with family and friends. The songs you listen to and all the adverts along the road are words that influence your mindset. Wouldn’t it be nice to experience a few minutes of absolute silence. It is a mother and a housewife’s dream, silence. Jesus knew the importance and power of solitude. The Bible speaks about a habit Jesus had of getting up early in the morning and going to a quiet place, a place to relax, a place to meditate, a place to wait on a word from God. Many times we do not hear God speaking to us because there is just too much noise. Eccl. 3:7 says there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. If you feel God is far away, maybe even disinterested, then it is time to be silent. I remind you of that verse in the Bible that says, “Be still and know that I am God.” The four “s” we must remember, simplicity, silence, solitude and surrender. Opportunities for silence never arrive at your door. Silence and solitude is part of a discipline we all need to cultivate. If Jesus needed it, you and I can also gain by it. “Silence is golden”.

26th February 2015

One of the sayings we were raised with is today, with hindsight, totally wrong. Listen to this line and see if you agree with me, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words cannot hurt me.”Words have amazing power to build or break us. Some of us recall a careless comment made many years ago, words that wounded and even killed something in you, a comment by a parent, a teacher or even a total stranger. Words either written or spoken, have the power to change people’s lives. You are stupid or you are lazy are words that can stay with us. I spent some time digging through my own past, recalling things that people have said to me and the influence those words have had on my life. But then reality set in and I started to think about things I have said to people that may have caused pain. Careless and prayer less words from my unguarded lips, words that I cannot be withdrawn and damage I can never fix. This frightening thought has made me doubly careful of every word I will speak today. Just imagine the regret if words out of my mouth or yours would cause just one person to go into eternity without God. Matt. 12: 36-37, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgement for every careless word they have spoken….” May God forgive us for the hurt each one of us has caused with our lips. May God also help us to forgive those that have hurt us with careless words.

19 February 2015

I wonder if you have ever thought to yourself, is it worth praying. God seems to do what he feels best anyway. Recently, when this exact thought crossed my mind, I experienced a moment of enlightenment. Most of our prayers are focused on trying to convince God to do something that we think is a good idea. Surely faith is just the opposite. True faith in God allows me to pray as Jesus prayed. “Thy will be done.” The more I thought about it, the more I realized how arrogant and foolish we are. Through prayer and references from the Bible we want to twist God’s arm to do what we think is best. As a young child, sitting on the back seat of our family car, I played, never concerned about our destination or my safety. My dad was in control of the car and I didn’t have a worry in the world. Imagine how much less stress you would have if you could allow God to do what he knows to be best. If only we could trust our heavenly father as much as we trusted our earthly fathers. Maybe a wise prayer would be, “God, have your will and teach me to trust you in choosing for me.” If God loves you so much that he sent his Son for you, should you not trust him with the rest. P.S. God’s plans for you are better than your own plans. Amen.

12th February 2015

Things are not always what they appear to be. As ordinary individuals we can look at the pictures in a woman’s magazine, perfect bodies, amazing hair and air brushed make up. Behind the perfect image may lurk insecurities, fears and endless pain. Men may watch other men with all the trimmings, fast cars, big homes and a lavish life style. But this apparent success may only be smoke and mirrors, a mirage that looks good but has no real substance. Our book shops are full of books about success, winning , cashing in and flying high. But these books seldom reveal the cost of success. As I look around, I am more dissolutioned than ever. People who sacrifice everything to achieve this thing called success. Years ago I asked Dr. Izak Burger, the President of the Apostolic Faith Mission, a prolific author and a sought after public speaker, if he has any goals still to reach. His answer has become one of my personal mantras. He said this, “My final ambition in life is to lay my head down in death without bringing shame to the name of Jesus.” Don’t chase things that cost more than they are worth. The Bible teaches us to be content with what we have.

4th February 2015

Have you ever been in a situation where people tried to help you and they just made it worse? In fact, their advice was the last thing you needed. Family and friends love us and they want to make things better, they want to fix your problem. Their intentions are pure. From years of experience and lots of mistakes I have learnt a few precious lessons. If people want my advice they will ask for it. Through years of experience I have finally learnt that people don’t need my advice, they need my love. Secondly, people need to feel secure in my friendship. It is very difficult if people perceive that our friendship is conditional. If you do what I tell you, we can be friends. Finally, people need to be allowed to fail. Failure is often the beginning of success. Our role model for friendship must be Jesus. He went the second mile, forgiveness and love always in his heart. There is not a sinner so bad that he cannot be forgiven. A woman caught in the act of adultery, a thief, and a murderer received love. It is here where one of the most well known verses in the Bible shines a bright light. John 3: 16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoso ever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Imagine if Christians were like this. Imagine if our churches were like this. Imagine if our world was exposed to this unlimited, unconditional love. It is this friendship that changed my life and I know it can change the world. The world does not need our advice only our love.

29th January 2015

Many people believe that two of the pillars of their Christian faith are the Bible and prayer. Together these two give us not only a solid foundation but also a great compass for life. Prayer, as simple as it is, can be a real challenge. Time to pray is difficult, what to pray for isn’t easy either. But once someone explains that prayer is talking to God, it becomes easier. Reading the Bible is very different. It is a very long book and it contains many very confusing stories. For me personally three key words open the Bible, 1) observe, 2) interpret, 3) apply. Look at a chapter in the Bible, for example Mark chapter 1. Observe, look at the main stories, John the Baptist, Jesus’ baptism, calling 4 disciples, healing people and Jesus’ times of solitude. Step 2, interpret, look at the details of each story, historic and cultural setting. Now you are a student. Finally, apply the lessons of the stories to your own life. Knowing your Bible has two main advantages. Firstly, people cannot lie to you. You know the truth. Secondly, you make better choices in your own life. If the Bible is a pillar of Christianity, you need to know it.

22nd January 2015

We live in a society that demands fast food and quick fixes. We want what we want and we want it now. We are impatient in traffic and we hate being put on hold when we use a telephone. At church we want it short and sweet. It must suit our pallet and we want to walk out of church feeling good about ourselves. If the minister fails at this, we won’t come back. Many things in life are the result of a process that requires patience. God is not so popular today because he does not provide fast spiritual food or quick fixes. In fact, quite the opposite is true with God. Slow down, wait and meditate. Don’t rush God, he is busy with an important process. In your winter he is busy with preparation for your spring. Isaiah 40 v 31 is the key, “Those that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.” Like many of you, I am an impatient creature. But with age comes a bit of wisdom. I now know that God is busy on the inside even while it seems as if nothing is happening on the outside. We often miss out on God’s blessings because we don’t wait long enough. Just like it is not wise to rush a surgeon during a delicate operation, so it is not wise to rush God while he is busy with your heart. P.S. Eternal issues cannot be rushed. “Wait upon the Lord!”

15th January 2015

Religion is probably one of the most divisive topics on earth. For some strange reason most all religions have similar ideals but they are bitter enemies. Even within one section of religious belief there can be terrible conflict. Northern Ireland’s battle between Protestants and Catholics is one such sad situation. With the horrific events in France recently, religion is back on all the front covers of news papers, television news programs. Religion, many believe, is to blame for these acts of terror. Please allow me to remind you that all the religions have been at the heart of some forms of violence in the past. Even in our beloved South Africa religion was used on all sides of the conflicts we fought. The truth is that religion is not responsible for many of the crimes committed in the name of God. The terrorist may claim an alliance with a certain religion. Some religious leaders may have been involved in the radicalization of the individuals. But the truth is that we cannot blame the religion or the billions of people who believe in God for things done by a few people. My first reaction is not to condemn people but to check my own backyard. How pure is my religious life? How close do I walk to the teachings of my Lord. What would Jesus do is my constant test. May I, through my example and my teaching, make the world a better place. P.S. True religion is to take care of widows and orphans the Bible teaches.

13th January 2015

Childhood memories are often our clearest memories. The lessons and values our parents imprinted in our minds. I am sure that you have memories from your childhood. One of the things my mom repeatedly taught me was to say please and thank you. Many years later and these two words form a part of who I am. It is so important to say please. In public it can be the key to good service. At home it is a sign of respect and appreciation. Please is one of the words that should regularly be on your lips. Then the magic word that can melt an iceberg, thank you. These two words are so powerful that you could unlock a mine of goodwill. These two words should also form part of every prayer that you pray. When you speak to God about your pain, always say please. You and I may have rights and privileges but we say please. People are quick to forget. God answers our prayers and we rush off on our next adventure without saying thank you. If you would like to have a more effective prayer life, add these words to your daily prayers. Please and thank you in a prayer is the key to God’s favour. What if God does not answer my prayers you may ask. Well, it is a good idea to say thank you anyway. God knows best and its wise counsel to trust him. Thank you mommy for imprinting these words on my life.

12th December

Have you ever made a mountain out of a mole hill? I think all of us have, at some point in our lives, made a situation bigger than it really was. Majoring on the minors is an art that I have perfected. But because I realize just how debilitating it is to face something that feels bigger than I am or at least seems bigger, I have a strategy. I think about the past and how God has helped me through impossible situations. I draw courage from past victories. When I see how small I look next to my mountain, I choose to see my mountain next to God. Quickly my personal mountain looks like a mole hill. I quote verses like mantras. “Greater is he that is in me.....” “All things are possible to them that believe.” God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Then I think back to my sports days at KHS. Feeling like quitting I push on because there is such a nice feeling finishing, winning, completing the challenge, a reward I don’t want to miss. To this day, the two things that inspire me most is God, and people who, against all odds, never give up. If you feel like giving up right now, don’t. See your mountain next to God. The greater the challenge, the sweeter the victory. P.S. If you quit, you will never know what you could have had.

4 December 2014

Religious people love to argue. Each one is convinced that he or she is right and everyone else is wrong. Between religious groups there is mistrust, even hatred. Just a few days ago a bus was attacked in Kenya, and all the occupants of the bus that did not belong to a certain religious group were killed. Your religion would not do that, you say. Not true. It may be in your religions past similar atrocities took place. It always surprises me how followers of one religion will go to great lengths to convert people from another religion while their own children don’t believe in God. Surely we should convert our own families first. So many of us love to argue religion. If you win the argument, you get a convert. But that convert is only a convert until he meets someone with a better argument. Just last Sunday morning a beautiful little girl about 7 years old asked me how she must share her beliefs with a boy at her school that comes from a home that believes in another religion. Looking into her eyes I realized that she sincerely wants to share her faith. I could arm her with good arguments based on the strengths of her religion and expose the weaknesses of the little boy’s religion. But arguments don’t prove anything. I gave her the following simple advice. Love the little boy and don’t judge him. Look at Jesus, not at Christians and live like he lived. I truly believe that more people would be Christians if Christians were more like Jesus. P.S. Don’t try to convert people from another religion while your own house is not in order. “For God so loved the world....” That includes everybody. Amen

6 November 2014

Do you hear voices in your head? Most of us would be too afraid to admit that sometimes we hear a voice in our heads telling us to do something. Years ago, on my way back from Roodepoort towards Krugersdorp, I felt that a voice was telling me to turn off the main road and drive a different route. I obeyed, and a few minutes later I passed a car parked by the side of the road. I recognized the occupant of the car to be a young girl from our church. Suspicious I reversed and asked, “Are you ok?” Almost in tears, the young lady told me that her car had broken down. I am not a mechanic but I got out of my car, opened the bonnet of her car only to be greeted by a strong petrol smell. I quickly concluded that the car was flooded. Getting behind the steering wheel, I turned the key without stepping on the accelerator. 60 seconds later the car roared into life. The young lady was so impressed with her Pastor’s skills and quickly drove off to work. A little voice, God’s voice I believed, led me to use an alternative route so that I could help a damsel in distress. Next time you hear a small voice in your head, don’t just ignore it, it could be God speaking. Many people I have spoken to have had similar experiences.

30 October 2014

Why do we love superhero movies, Superman, Spiderman and 007 James Bond? We know people cannot fly, drive at super speeds, and produce spider webs. Nobody can fight 10 men and his hair is still perfectly combed. But we love superheroes. Why? Because inside of every one of us is a superhero, born to be more than ordinary. As a young Pastor on the West Rand, more than 30 years ago, I dreamed about changing the world. I followed in the footsteps of my chosen superheroes. Now, years later, after coming to terms with the fact that I will never change the world. I have a choice, I can become negative, bitter and resentful, or I can accept the fact that I wasn’t sent to change the world. Yes, I go on because I believe that God can use people like you and I to change someone’s world. Superheroes are not actors on a big screen doing impossible things. No, true superheroes are ordinary people like you and I that God empowers to do extra ordinary things, helping drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes and pimps to start a new life, soup kitchens, feeding schemes and youth groups. A true hero is an ordinary person that, with God, helps achieve extra ordinary things. You were born for more. P.S. I still wish I could fly, but until then I will keep walking for Jesus.

23 October 2014

Finally, after months, the Oscar trial has come to an end. Sitting at my desk watching my Dstv Walka, I could sense the tension in the court room. My heart was broken for all the people involved in the historic trial. As the judge concluded with a sentence of 5 years in prison, a climax to the trial almost felt like an anti-climax. We can try to put ourselves in the shoes of the Pistorius family or the Steenkamp family, guilt, grief and anger and all the emotions experienced by the families. But what lessons can we take from this tragic situation. Think before you act. Actions have consequences. Some things in life can never be fixed. You and I may not like it, but the Bible says that one day we will all face a judgement. Our lives will be played out in front of us, to the extent that every word spoken will be recalled. The judge will not turn a blind eye to our sins but he will act with grace and mercy. The advantage we have over the proceedings at the Oscar trial is that we can ask for forgiveness. But there are conditions to forgiveness. Recognize your guilt, regret and remorse. One little verse puts it all into perspective. Matt. 6:12, Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those that have sinned against us.” The key to God’s forgiveness is the word “as”. If you want God to forgive your sins, start today by forgiving everybody that has sinned against you. P.S. Please remember the Pistorius and Steenkamps in your prayer. “He that is without sin let him cast the first stone.

17Th October 2014

Envy is a small word but it can describe a big part of our lives. We look at people and we want what they have. We think, “Those lucky people.” People with nice cars, expensive homes, lots of money, make us envious. Amazing talents, good looks and success can make us jealous. It is possible to have a flashing thought, “Those people are so lucky, if I had what they have, I would be happy.” If we are really honest, the people we envy are often not happy at all. True happiness is not a feeling we get from outside sources, it is the satisfaction of sharing our little with someone that has less than we have. Jesus was not rich, but he made people feel rich. He gave things that money could not buy, hope, love, joy and peace. Matthew 19:24, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for someone who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” Rich has nothing to do with possessions.

3rd October 2014

Preparing to do a funeral for a grieving family is never easy. But it becomes even more challenging when, just as you are about to start the funeral, one of the guests pulls the carpet out from under you. Recently, as I was about to do a funeral, a total stranger made his point clear. He told me that he is an atheist. Religion, in his opinion, is a money making thing. It is false and the preachers are all corrupt. His attack lasted 2 or 3 minutes. Religion is at the heart of most wars, even today in Syria and Iraq. This may shock you, but I, in my heart, agreed with most of his points. Shaken, I did my duty and completed the funeral service, but the man’s words kept ringing in my ears. As I thought through the encounter, reality and sense prevailed. People have used religion to control the masses. But in my short life, I have met many sincere Christians. Then, when I look at Jesus’ life and teachings, I see purity. The world would be a better place if Christians were more like Christ. Does your life reflect his teachings?

25th September 2014

The Church tragedy in Nigeria has not only shaken many people’s lives but it has divided Christians. Some who have absolute faith in the prophet and others that have seized an opportunity to attack him. Who is to blame? Was it an act of God, the devil or just physics, too much weight, too little support. The answer to this question may never be found. As I watched the news I could not help wondering how one person in one room died and 3 meters away another lived. Does God love some people more than others? Did the ones that died conceal some hidden sin? I cannot believe that. A hundred came back to South Africa with a testimony of God saving their lives. 80 people were not that blessed. Then I faced my greatest dilemma, maybe the ones that died were more blessed, at the pinnacle of their relationship with God, full of faith and joy, then gone. Now in heaven while the 100 still face temptation, trials and tribulations. Listen to this profound Bible verse, Psalm 116 v 15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants”. Makes you think.

18th September, 2014

What a royal blessing. On Sunday morning the Monnas choir attended our church service and spoilt us with an amazing performance, about 70 boys and girls, a lady on the keyboard and a choir director. The quality of the performance was great but what really caught my attention was the team work, each individual with a unique ability contributing to the overall sound. The choir’s success was due to God given talents, lots of practice and their focus on the choir master’s eyes, face and hand gestures. The concentration was impressive. The success of the choir’s performance is this constant contact, watching every gesture of the leader. As I watched, I became jealous of this unity I saw before me. Then I wondered how much more powerful a church would be if we, each one without exception, kept our eyes on Jesus, not distracted by the group or the movements around us, following the guidance of God as he unites us to be beautiful music. Out of tune, out of place and not in harmony results in noise without a purpose. Harmony is the key to peace in your home, work and our country. My prayer after the service was, “God, tune me and allow me to bring harmony in my circle of influence.

10th September, 2014

Years ago I met a family with a haunting story. They were very wealthy and enjoyed the good things in life. Over time they had developed a close friendship with their minister. In fact, they were house friends. Hard times arrived and the wealthy family lost everything. The haunting part of the story is that the friend, the minister, made no phone calls, no simple SMS or even a food parcel. Every one of us has experienced the feeling of being used and abandoned. It is life. Recently, when I thought of this story and many just like it, my mind asked an even more haunting question, “Is it possible that God may feel used?” People love him, are devoted to him as long as he takes care of them. If God keeps you healthy, supplies a nice home and special car, he is great. But if you lose everything, maybe even on account of some bad decisions you have made, you cry out, “Where is God”, “How can you allow this?” Many people stop going to church, refuse to read the Bible and pray. As if God owes you something. God was with you when your world collapsed and he promised never to leave you or forsake you. One of the most powerful words in the Bible came from a man that lost everything except his faith. Job said, “Even though he slay me, yet, will I love him.” How deep is your love for God?

3rd September, 2014

An act of kindness can sometimes be more powerful than a hundred sermons. A few days ago a young lady put petrol in her car only to find out that her card used for payment was faulty. Scared and stressed, the young lady tried to make promises that she would come back and pay. From previous experiences the petrol attendant refused her offer. The stale mate was solved when a total stranger paid the account in full. As he walked off, he said, “Jesus loves you.” He left no name and required no thanks. For the young lady he could have been an angel or a saint on assignment. For some time to come she will continue to tell this story, bringing hope and encouragement to other people. Christianity is most clearly appreciated when it moves from talk to action. Many church attending, sincere Christians, walk past opportunities to show seeds of kindness that will bear fruit far and wide. The world would be a better place if every one of us went through each day looking for opportunities to do random acts of kindness. Matthew 10: 42, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”

PS. A stranger is a friend you still have to meet.

13th August, 2014

I read a really great thing on my Facebook page last week. Someone wrote, “This person is so poor, all they have is money.” Suddenly I realised just how easily we are fooled into thinking that money is the key to happiness. On a flight back from Cape Town a few months ago I read a line that I will never forget. “Money by itself does not fill a vacuum, instead money often creates a vacuum.” The Bible says that “the love of money is the root of all evil”. So true, we see it every day. If you are healthy, food in your stomach, a roof over your head and peace in your heart, you are wealthy. A few years ago I risked my life to drive my car to the bottom end of Munsiville, where the poorest of the poor live. My heart was broken to see how people live. But then, like a ray of sunshine, as I looked into the beautiful eyes of a young child as he accepted a blanket, the smile was bigger than any that I have seen in our affluent areas. I drove away wondering what I had lost through my personal pursuit of more. What is wealth really?

8th August, 2014

Everybody says, get your priorities right. Easier said than done. What are your priorities and which ones are the most important? You have to eat, you have to sleep, you have to work. You don’t have a choice. Above or at least with these priorities you must make time for family, friends, repairs around the house and then those disruptive emergencies. Many books have been written about priorities, time management and setting targets. All the above plus what God requires, more demands that lead to mountains of guilt. But does the Bible speak about priorities? Yes, Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” God does not require hours of every day. He does not ask you to choose between your family and himself, your work and himself. All God wants from you is to give a bit of your day to him. That will make you a better father, mother, child, employee, employer. If God comes first in your life, the other things will automatically improve. Jesus is our role model, he gave God a bit of the start of his everyday life. “Seek ye first......”

1st August, 2014

I wonder how many lonely people live in Krugersdorp? It may surprise you, but loneliness is on the increase all over the world. In the UK studies have shown that people who experience loneliness has doubled in the last 25 years. 250 000 elderly people in Britain said Christmas Day is the loneliest day of all. People either stop going out or they wonder alone through malls just to avoid the stigma of loneliness. People stop hobbies, exercise and social interaction. T.V. and radio are their only company. These people stop making meals for themselves and their health starts to suffer. 75% of doctors that took part in a survey said that on average 5 people each day that visit their rooms do so because of issues relating to loneliness. Another study said that loneliness is the cause of more deaths than obesity. Yes, I know you are thinking of the elderly. School kids, university students also confess to feeling lonely at times. Successful people, beautiful people admit to feeling deep loneliness. The Bible puts it so well, Psalm 68:6, “God puts the lonely in families” You may not be lonely but don’t forget those that are lonely close to you.

25th July, 2014

There is a knock at the door. You open and a perfect stranger says, “Good morning”. He then asks you a slightly awkward question, “Do you go to church?” You answer, “Yes”, to which he responds, “That’s great, God bless you,” and he walks to the next house. Some years ago a young man, Rick Warren, went door to door asking people if they go to church. If someone said they didn’t go to church, he asked one simple question, “Why not?” Two answers were often repeated. I was shocked, I wonder if these people’s reply will surprise you. 1) We don’t go to church because all the church wants is our money. 2) The sermons have nothing to do with the world we live in. I would love to walk the streets of our town and knock on every door. As a Pastor I just want to tell people that it is not about money. I prayed to God that every article I write, every sermon I preach will be real and will help people in the world they live in. Everywhere we go, people want our money. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one place where people were more concerned about us than our money. P.S. God is not for sale.

18th July, 2014

Our society has indoctrinated us to believe that I am no. 1, must be first, best and most important. Nobody wants to be the second fiddle. We love being served. It is all a lie, I promise you. A few months ago I purchased an electric pressure cooker for myself. This is a big mind shift for Gerrit Mes. I was raised to believe that men fix things and women cook. I made it clear to my wife that the pressure cooker is mine. I read the instructions and made my first meal in my pressure cooker, oxtail! It was amazing. My wife was very impressed. Since then to last night when my wife arrived at home I had cooked a meal, set the table and had a fire in the fire place. I am not a hero, I am just a man that has discovered how special it is to serve. Jesus was the ultimate example of a servant. Not only at home and with your family, but the world will be a better place if we all serve instead of wanting to be served.

P.S. My wife appreciates me!!

11th July, 2014

Do you hear voices in your head? I am not referring to voices after a few glasses of wine or a strange, disturbing experience. Do you ever hear a little voice whispering in your ear? You may think I have lost the plot, but I really believe that many of us hear such a little voice. It could just be God trying to tell you something. I recently heard of a man that lost his precious wife of 43 through a heart attack. Two young children and lots of dreams still to share, she was taken away. During the night I could not sleep and I kept thinking of this lady, Leanne, her husband, Duncan, and their children. I believe that a response to that quiet voice gave me a tribute for the family. I called it a “Tribute to Leanne in L”. I sent the message via e-mail to Duncan and got such a lovely reply. A total stranger’s poem meant so much to this family. We are no longer strangers, only friends that have never met. 1 Kings 19:12 mentions a “still, quiet voice”. Don’t ignore it. Don’t move on, stay right there. “Here I am, Lord, speak to me. With hindsight I am so glad that I responded to that still, quiet voice and that maybe God could use me to give strength to a family in need.