Why I left Facebook, and what happened when I did.

 

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This post will be slightly different than those I have written in the past, as it relates to a personal situation that I recently went through. The general theme may be a bit cynical, but please understand I mean no disrespect to anyone who enjoys social media. This post is also a bit of a ramble….

Here goes:

So, as the title suggests, I left Facebook…or maybe it was Facebook that subtly “nudged” me out…or maybe it was the ever increasing privacy issues that made me think otherwise. Whatever it as, I am out, and I am breathing more easy.

Isn’t it odd how the world has ‘evolved’ to include things like Facebook? It has become so normal that you can hardly buy a smartphone without a Facebook ‘app’ being preloaded on the darn thing. Everywhere I go on the internet there are Facebook ‘like’ buttons with little pictures of the masses who seem to enjoy having their picture plastered all over cyberspace. And apparently, those little pictures will make you believe that ‘this’ is a good product, because so many people ‘like’ it.

I had a conversation with someone once. The details are sketchy, but I said: “Hey I like that!”, and he said: “You should go like it on Facebook”. (Insert non impressed face here) I said: “I’m not on Facebook” (Insert his mystified, perplexed and baffled face…..HERE) The rest of the conversation is a blur. His arguments about the pro’s and my counter arguments about the con’s. The end.

FB has become so ingrained in society that people think you absolutely crazy if you don’t have a Facebook account. Type facebook without a capital ‘F’ and ‘autocorrect’ prompts you to fix your rookie mistake.

FB has then also, directly and indirectly, been responsible for the growing ‘trend’ (read ‘self obsession’) of the ‘selfie’. (a word that, by the way, was recently added to the Oxford dictionary) Enter the age of the narcissist.

I digress…

So I left Facebook.

Why? Well, because it became an obsession. And because this is a Christian Blog I will add the following reason – Because it was interfering with my relationship with God and my relationship with my wife.

Here is the truth. It’s a Saturday morning and I am moving the lawn. As I do so, I accidently ‘mow’ a patch of dog poop. Instantly I am thinking of some quirky way that I can share this entire ‘episode’ with all my FB friends. So I think up a line, update my ‘status’ and post. By Monday I have 22 likes, 9 comments and 4 shares. Wow, aren’t I proud. I am positively beaming.

Here is the problem. The people that live in the same house with me, my wife and children, they don’t know about the ‘episode’. I don’t need to impress them with any funny and quirky comments about dog poop, so I don’t even mention it. This means there’s no communication with the people I spend everyday with.

Here is the reality. The people that liked and commented and shared by post don’t really care what happened to me, or for me. They are also just looking for something to share, comment on or ‘like’, because the probably don’t have anything better to do. Millions of people who use FB daily are addicted to it. Maybe not directly to the FB interface, but to the ‘feelings’ of being liked, accepted and shared by others. I know people who spend 2 – 4 hours a day on FB, and I cannot fathom how. In these people there exists no more creativity, no more passion, no more drive and no more direction. It has been sucked out of them by social media. They simply look at a computer screen and read about what is happening in other people’s lives, and they don’t live themselves.

People are saying things just for the sake of saying them. What is said is loosing its meaning, and we ‘share’ and ‘like’ electronic information. Sure FB is also used for good, I get that. But in general it has become an alternate universe, an escape, an adventure. It has become a place for people to be who they are not, and for old ‘love’ acquaintances to ‘re-connect’, even if both those acquaintances are married. Meanwhile we don’t connect with real people, the ones on the street and the ones in front of us, because everyone is looking down, and updating their FB status on a mobile device. And its become so bad that people are doing this while walking or driving.

Humans were made with a desperate need to feel accepted and loved. I believe God made us this way for a reason, so that He can fill those voids in us. FB is just another reality escape that is ‘meant’ to make us feel wanted, but leaves us feeling emptier.

What happened when I left.

In short….nothing.

No one asked , no one noticed, no one was concerned, no one called, no one sent an email, no one cared. All of my FB ‘friends’, turned out not to be friends at all.

What happened to my mind was a bit scary. Have you heard about ‘FOLO’? FOLO – FEAR OF LOSING OUT’. Yes, it is a real ‘thing’. And I had it. Whenever I would go sit outside with my coffee I would automatically pull out my mobile to ‘read’ the latest updates, or post my own: “Coffee on the porch…hmmm”. Now that I had left, I couldn’t do that. The familiar little blue icon was gone, and it left me feeling a bit lonely.

The questions started running through my mind. ‘What are people up to? What cool video’s have I missed? Who’s changed jobs? Who uploaded a nice picture, or a nice post that I was not privy to?’ – I HAD FOLO, full on. I would drive in the car, or walk in the shops and think of things to post, but then I remembered I had divorced FB. I would take a breath, and carry on. The ‘rehab’ process had begun and took about 3 weeks. It was a weird time for me. I literally had ‘status updates’ in my head all the time and was constantly looking for something to share…just to get a like. 

Today I don’t even remember FB. It’s a distant memory. Something in a past lifetime. Something that I have left behind, and not going back to. It has been almost 6 months, and I am loving it. I am loving not having to constantly be bombarded with updates, notifications and bumbling idiots on skateboards in the latest ‘fail’ video.

I am LOVING experiencing something WITH someone, and keeping it all to ourselves. I am loving not feeling compelled to take a picture and having to upload any photo’s of anything to anyone, not having to try and find approval in a hundred mouse ‘like’ clicks. I am loving not getting the latest ‘news’ of a ‘friend’s’ pet turtle that did a somersault. I am loving not being in love with FB anymore.

Whatever sets itself up in your life as a priority, and in place of Jesus, is an idol. Identify the idol and remove it! You will notice if its an idol if your heart and mind keep wanting to go back to it. Leave the social media for 5 days and see what happens. I am pretty sure you will also experience a form of FOLO, and then you can let these things go and get back the time to spend with real people and with God.

God Bless You As You Seek His Face.

WR

Signs of the times, gay rights and a world at war with itself

This will be the first post of this nature, and one that I have put off from writing for a very long time. Topics like these are contentious, and can get out of hand very quickly, especially when people read into them what they want to, instead of understanding the meaning and context.

So, that said, let me offer a disclaimer up front:

  1. This article is not written with the intention to offend anyone
  2. This article is not written to cause fear or panic
  3. This article is not intended to relate to ‘hate speech’
  4. This article is intended to bring about awareness to what is happening in the world, so that we may pray, in earnest, against it.

Right then, let me begin.

Gay Rights

A while back I read an article about a company in the US that was forced by the judicial system to provide services to a gay couple. They were forced to do this because the initially declined, due to their religious beliefs. The ‘couple’ took the matter to court and claimed that they were discriminated against. The courts then forced the company to offer the service, irrespective of their own rights, and to attend ‘diversity training’.

It seems that the entire LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community have jumped on the bandwagon and that this was just the start of an all-out assault against Christianity. In the last few weeks there have been dozens of articles about similar events and worse. Let me highlight the most prominent of these:

  1. Christian business owners, celebrities and athletes are forced by various courts in various states in the US to provide services to gay couples related to marriages (flowers, cake, marriage ceremonies etc) or face persecution. At the same time some are forced to attend ‘re-education’ to ensure they are ‘sensitive’ to gay rights.
  2. A Christian magistrate in North Carolina is forced to marry a gay couple or face losing his job.
  3. The US Judicial system imposes same-sex marriage on 5 more states
  4. 36 Methodist pastors bless gay marriages without rebuke
  5. In Houston (US) a new bill is introduced which allows for individuals who ‘identify’ as the other gender to use that gender’s restrooms. So basically, a man, who believes he is in fact a woman may use female restrooms, and vice versa.
  6. Interestingly enough, also in Houston, the new mayor is a lesbian, and has now issued a subpoena to 5 churches, forcing the pastors to hand over their sermons for inspection. The sermons to be handed over include all topics that have to do with the new mayor and homosexuality.
  7. A man and woman team of ordained ministers, who work and minister in a wedding chapel are told that they must allow and conduct same sex marriages or face jail time and fines up to $1000-00 a day
  8. A campaign on twitter, standing up for the faith, and supporting the pastors in Houston, has been silenced and blocked by twitter, within the same day of the campaign starting.
  9. A school in Sussex, England changes their restrooms to be ‘gender inclusive’. Children (aged 5 – 11) returning from school holidays suddenly have to share restrooms with other children of the opposite gender. The reasoning behind this decision is to ‘stop transgenderphobia’ (i.e – accept those that openly ‘identify’ with the other gender)
  10. A school in Lincoln, Nebraska, changes its ‘gender policy’ to no longer make distinction between ‘boys’ and ‘girls’, because it may be offensive to boys who think they are girls and girls who think they are boys. Teachers are re-educated, and given manuals to assist them in not saying ‘boys and girls’, or ‘ladies and gents’ or ‘you guys’ or ‘you girls’ or whatever.
  11. There are various articles that show that paedophiles in the US (and UK?) are actively lobbying for their ‘actions’ to be allowed and respected as a ‘lifestyle choice’ or ‘sexual orientation’ (similar to gay and lesbian groups). You can read more about this here, and here, and here, and here.
  12. An open letter is issued to all bishops of the church of England, to ‘come out’ regarding their homosexual orientation. (yes…that just happened)
  13. The U.S. president also admits that the same-sex marriage issues should be opened up and allowed.

All of this has happened and/or reported within the last 2 months. If you feel like I feel about all of this then the alarm bells are probably ringing in your head as well. It really does seem that the LGBT movement is out to destroy the very fibre of the Christian faith, literally trying to remove all forms of Christianity from all spheres of business, schooling and government.

While all of this is alarming, the most shocking to me is the open ‘acceptance’ of the gay marriage issue by various clergy from various denominations. This is so clearly against what scripture stipulates and yet there is compromise for all corners of the faith. I don’t believe that compromise is from God, and professing Christians should not give in to the pressure of the far left. There are major denomination that are openly supporting gay rights, sponsoring gay rights parades, endorsing same sex marriage and even enrolling gay clergy.

Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah on a global scale…

Isaiah 5:20 – 23 (AMP) warns:

20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and prudent and shrewd in their own sight!22 Woe to those who are mighty heroes at drinking wine and men of strength in mixing alcoholic drinks!—23 Who justify and acquit the guilty for a bribe, but take away the rights of the innocent and righteous from them!

 A world at war

There is no doubt in my mind that you are unaware of what is happening in the middle east. The group known as ‘ISIS’ are literally warring against anyone and everyone that does not conform to their ideas and doctrines. Christian men are being murdered in public, Christian woman are being kidnapped and held as (sex) slaves, children are being forced into islam or face death. Young girls are forced to marry islamic men and to renounce their Christian faith. The group are recording and posting beheadings and stonings on social media. Photos of decapitated bodies, hanged on spikes in the cities are popping up all over the internet.

In Pakistan, a lady (Asia Bibi) is awaiting execution because of ‘blasphemy’. Asia is a Christian woman, the only one in her village, and was accused of Blasphemy when she drank water from a cup belonging to a muslim woman. Asia has been in prison for three years and has recently been found guilty and sentenced to death.

Meanwhile, the war between Israel and Palestine continue. Israel has made numerous attempts to stop the killings of innocent people, yet Palestine (and its allies?) do not stop. They are relentless in their assault on Israel.

Since 2011 there has been the Libyan civil war, the Sinai insurgency, Syrian civil war, Sudan international conflict, North Kosovo crisis, war in Somalia, Iraqi insurgency, northern Mali conflict, south Sudanese civil war, the 2014 Libyan conflict, Northern Iraq offensive and of course the Israel-Gaza conflict, the afghan civil war, the Islamist insurgency in Nigeria, war in North-west Pakistan, The Egyptian crisis, war in Ukraine, Chechen-Russian conflict, Kashmir conflict, War in Darfur, Al-Qaeda insurgency in Yemen, South Thailand insurgency etc. etc. etc. the list goes on. (Wikipedia)

Then there are of course the ‘less known’ incidents around the world where people are being killed because of their beliefs, skin-colour, political affiliations, as a result of rampant crime and corruption.

Lastly, I think I should note, is the war on the family. Specifically abortions, infanticide and domestic violence. Statistics indicate that the amount of babies that are being killed a year, around the world, is estimated at 44 Million. SELAH – Pause and calmly think about that!

The world is literally at war with itself, and the amount of people dying annually from these conflicts is astounding and heartbreaking.

Signs of the times

And lastly with regards to Bible prophecy about the end times, I want to just quickly highlight one or two interesting things:

In Matthew 24 (AMP) Jesus gives us a few clues as to what the ‘end’ would look like:

“3 While He was seated on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately and said, Tell us, when will this take place, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end (the completion, the consummation) of the age? Jesus answered them, Be careful that no one misleads you [deceiving you and leading you into error]. For many will come in (on the strength of) My name [[b]appropriating the name which belongs to Me], saying, I am the Christ (the Messiah), and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in place after place; All this is but the beginning [the early pains] of the [c]birth pangs [of the [d]intolerable anguish]. Then they will hand you over to suffer affliction and tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended and repelled and will [e]begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred. 11 And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error. 12 And the love of [f]the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, 13 But he who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this good news of the kingdom (the Gospel) will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end. 15 So when you see the appalling sacrilege [the abomination that astonishes and makes desolate], spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the Holy Place—let the reader take notice and [g]ponder and consider and heed [this]—” (emphasis mine)

Please notice the items in bold print above. These things are happening more and more in every nation on earth. The very interesting thing with all of this is verse 15. There has been much talk and theory about the fact that this ‘holy place’ relates to the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. But as we know, the ‘dome on the rock’ (islam mosque) is currently standing on the very place where the temple should be built. However, there seems to be hope the temple will in fact be built. Jewish priest are already in training to work in the temple – I believe this is very significant.

Please also read this article: http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/the-flaming-herald/45801-america-is-on-fire-and-it-s-not-the-fire-of-god

In conclusion

As we draw nearer to the ‘end’ we, as believers in Jesus Christ, must stand up and endure to the end. We cannot compromise, we cannot allow and we cannot stand aside as the evil of this world rushes by and consumes everything in its path. We must stand, in prayer, in faith and boldly proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all of these things. We must stand against the movements of the enemy. We must speak against his devices, expose his deception and get people out of his clutches.

The world is yet to see what God will do with one man, fully surrendered, to Him. Let us surrender, let us boldly march forward and let us stand for what we believe in.

The time is near, even at the door. God is whispering, His spirit is moving, people are listening.

God bless you as you seek His face.

WR

A Synopsis of Romans – Part 2

This is the second part of my Synopsis of Romans. If you would like to read the first part, click here.

In this second part I will be exploring chapters 9 – 16 of the book of Romans. I need to say once again that what I write here is plainly my own interpretations and things that I find interesting.

Chapter 9 basically start off with Paul sharing the anguish in is heart for his fellow Israelites. He even wishes he could be cut off and banished from Christ for their sake. He says this because to him the Israelites are God’s consecrated people. To them was the promise and covenant given through Abraham, to them was the Law given through Moses, to them the promises (by the Prophets ?), the temple worship was revealed, and from them is the Christ. Paul shows his love for his countrymen and his desire that they will come to know Christ.

Verse 6 – 8 is most interesting as Paul declares that it is not everybody who is a descendant of Jacob that belongs to Israel, and not everybody who is by blood descendants of Abraham are his children. I believe this relates to Isaac and Ishmael. Isaac was born out of God’s promise that Abraham and Sarah would have a child, and Ishmael was born out of Abraham’s decision to lie with his servant – thus, rebellion to God’s promise.

Verse 9 – 18 then concludes that God’s will, shall always be done! This should be of great comfort to all who believe, knowing that our Father in Heaven has His perfect will for us and that it will always be done. What I do find interesting are the words in verses 15 & 17 – 18. God says to Moses that He will have mercy and compassion on whom he chooses and make hard the hearts of whom He chooses, so that His own purposes and power may be displayed. The specific example in verse 17 is that of Pharaoh. God says that He had hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that His (God’s) power could be shown and that His name should be proclaimed in all the world.

Verse 19 – 23 basically revolve around the fact that God is sovereign in His decisions and we who have been made by Him should understand our position under God. ‘will what has been formed say to Him that formed it, Why have you made me thus?’ – a reflection on the arrogance of man in questioning God’s purposes, and how He chooses to display His glory, power and purposes in the vessels that He created.

Verse 24 – 26 revolves around the gentiles that are now called God’s people, with specific references to Hosea’s prophecy (Hos1:10) and Isaiah’s prophecy (Is 10: 22-23) that relates to only a small remnant of Israel that will be saved.

The chapter finishes in verses 27 – 33 with Paul highlighting the issue that Gentiles have attained righteousness through Faith in Jesus Christ, whereas Israel are ever in pursuit of the law to secure their righteousness – and failing to secure it because they did not search for it through Faith, but merely as an outward act of obedience, rather than a change of heart.

Chapter 10 it seems as if Paul is once again just confirming that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ and not in anything that men can do or have done. Specific references to this are found in:

Verse 3 where Paul refers to men seeking ‘their own salvation’ but not being willing to submit themselves to God’s righteousness, and in verse 4 where Paul writes that ‘Christ is the end of the law…righteousness for all who trust in and adheres to and relies on Him!’

Verse 9 is very important in that the salvation referred to in previous chapters and verses is attained through faith. That means that if we ‘believe in our hearts and confess with our lips we are saved’ verse 10 expands further in explaining that the believing heart justifies us and that our confession with our mouths actually confirms our salvation. How amazing!! This ‘faith’ referred to in verse 9 is then further explained in verse 17 where Paul states that ‘faith comes by hearing’ (of the gospel being preached). This is why it is so important for us as believers to speak the truth of the gospel, so that others can come to faith.

Verses 18 – 21 of Chapter 10 are quite interesting. It basically revolves around the fact that Israel does not come near to God, but that the Gentiles will find God and that God Himself will actually reveal Himself to the gentiles. How interesting…! I believe that this has to do with faith that Gentile believers may have, and not the workings of the law that the Israelites were doing. Verse 21 then leads onto chapter 11.

Chapter 11: God did not reject Israel, but Israel’s path had been marked out from the beginning. Verse 8 states that God hardened the hearts of Israel, and in verse 11 Paul states that through the false steps of Israel, salvation came to the Gentiles to ‘arouse and make Israel jealous’ (of what they forfeited). So does this mean that God is using the Gentile believers to draw Israel back to Him? It certainly looks that way!

Verse 15 states that Israel’s rejection and exclusion from the benefits of salvation were ‘for the reconciliation of a world to God’ and that the Gentiles (wild olive tree) are now grafted into the olive tree and sustained by the root (Abrahamic covenant?).

Verse 20 relates to the fact that the ‘branches’ of the olive tree were broken off so that Gentiles could be grafted in. These branches (Israel?) were broken off because of unbelief, and Gentiles now should stand ‘in awe and be reverently afraid’ because of this awesome truth! BECAUSE (Verse 21)– “for if God did not spare the natural branches [because of unbelief], neither will He spare you [If you are guilty of the same offense]” – a stern warning to the Gentiles to keep the faith and (Verse 22) ‘continue in His grace and abide in His kindness, otherwise you too will be cut off’.

As a last point on chapter 10, notice verse 25 – 26 which states that a part of Israel is experiencing a hardening (of heart) until the full number of the ingathering of the Gentiles has come in. “And so all Israel will be saved” (26) – So God’s plan IS the saving of the entire nation of Israel! How dare we speak against God’s holy people!

Chapter 12 – 13 seem to be basic instruction for living a Christian life. Paul encourages the church to operate as one body with the redemptive gifts and to live holy lives worthy of God’s grace and mercy. Among others things that Paul states in these chapters, the following are important to note:

  • Do not be conformed to the world but by the renewal of the mind (Ch12, V2)
  • The various members in the body of Christ all have different uses (gifts) (Ch12, V4) according to the grace given us (V6)
  • Hold fast to the faith, love what is good and hate what is evil (Ch12, V9)
  • Rejoice and exult in hope, patient in suffering and constant in prayer (Ch12, V12)
  • Bless those who persecute you (Ch12, V14)
  • Repay no one evil for evil (Ch12, V17)
  • Overcome evil with good (Ch12, V21)
  • Submit to authorities that have been appointed over you (Ch13, V1)
  • Pay your taxes (Ch13, V7) and keep out of debt (Ch13, V8)
  • Love meets all of the requirements of the law (Ch13, V10)
  • THE END IS NEAR (Ch13, V11 – 14) Start living a Holy life, pleasing onto God

Chapter 14 states that we should not judge those of weaker faith in their (eating, drinking, observing days etc) because only God can judge and we will all be judged. We should also be carefull that in our liberty (through our faith) that we do not put a stumbling block in a brothers way (verse 13).Verse 14 mentions that nothing is unclean in intself(relating to food and drink), but it is unclear to those ‘who think it is unclean’. Everything is clear, but we should not let others fall by what we eat (verse 20) and that we should consider our brothers before doing something (verse 21), keeping our personal convictions to ourselves. Verse 23
then is again most interesting. It relates to the fact that if you have doubts about something and still do it, then to you, it is sin. What does not come from faith is sin. This I think is a key verse in spiritual maturity.

(Verse 17 states that God’s kingdom is not about food and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.)

Lastly, chapter 15 – 16 Paul uses for greetings, well wishes and final instructions to the church in Rome.

I hope you found some joy in this synopsis of Romans.

God Bless You As You Seek His Face.

WR

The Biblical Insight of a 9 year old.

Matthew 21: 16 ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF’?”

Most Christians know the parable of the sower and the seeds as described in Mark 4. The one where Jesus tell His disciples about the seeds falling in the fertile soil, some among thorns, some among rocks and so on.

To recap, here it is:

Mark 4: 1 – 8 (AMP)

“Again Jesus began to teach beside the lake. And a very great crowd gathered about Him, so that He got into a ship in order to sit in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was at the lakeside on the shore. And He taught them many things in parables (illustrations or comparisons put beside truths to explain them), and in His teaching He said to them: Give attention to this! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he was sowing, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed [of the same kind] fell on ground full of rocks, where it had not much soil; and at once it sprang up, because it had no depth of soil; And when the sun came up, it was scorched, and because it had not taken root, it withered away. Other seed [of the same kind] fell among thorn plants, and the thistles grew and pressed together and utterly choked and suffocated it, and it yielded no grain. And other seed [of the same kind] fell into good (well-adapted) soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing, and yielded up to thirty times as much, and sixty times as much, and even a hundred times as much as had been sown.”

From verse 14 Jesus then outlines the meaning of the parable. He says:

“The sower sows the Word. The ones along the path are those who have the Word sown [in their hearts], but when they hear, Satan comes at once and [by force] takes away the message which is sown in them. And in the same way the ones sown upon stony ground are those who, when they hear the Word, at once receive and accept and welcome it with joy; And they have no real root in themselves, and so they endure for a little while; then when trouble or persecution arises on account of the Word, they immediately are offended (become displeased, indignant, resentful) and they stumble and fall away. And the ones sown among the thorns are others who hear the Word; Then the cares and anxieties of the world and distractions of the age, and the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, and the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless. And those sown on the good (well-adapted) soil are the ones who hear the Word and receive and accept and welcome it and bear fruit—some thirty times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much, and some [even] a hundred times as much”

THE INSIGHT OF A 9 YEAR OLD

My wife was reading this parable to our two boys. As they usually do, they discuss the scripture and talk about its everyday application. During this discussion my 9 year old boy came up with the following interpretation of what the ‘fertile’ soil is.

He said: “The fertile soil is God’s word and we have to plant ourselves into God’s word so that the seeds can grow in us”

THIS, I believe is revelation!

The focus is not on the fact that the hearers of the word accept, receive and welcome the word, but that we are to plant ourselves into the word. I find it to be a complete mystery that my 9 year old just taught me what it means to grow with God. I was dumbfounded when my wife told this to me. It shows me that the Holy Spirit is impartial when it comes to revelation of scripture. I have never heard an interpretation like this from any preacher, teacher, pastor or pulpit, and the impact that this had on me is tremendous. What a fantastic insight! I thank God for the fact that my boys have their ears in tune with His movements.

I don’t have much more to say about this, but simply to encourage you to go and plant yourself in the Word of God. Find your roots firmly in His truth and you will find yourself growing rapidly, bearing fruit thirty, sixty and a hundred times as much as what was sown.

God Bless You As You Seek His Face

WR

 

 

 

Taking Offense – A Christian Perspective and Response

Dear Reader

This is the second article I am writing on the issue of taking offense. With the first article receiving almost 1000 views, I feel it necessary to re-visit the subject, and maybe offer some more insight into what seems to be quite an unclear topic. There are so many searches about ‘what does the bible say about offense’ that I feel compelled to revisit the topic.

I would like to start with the dictionary definition of Offense:

Annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself

And the dictionary synonyms:

“Annoyance, anger, resentment, indignation, irritation, exasperation, wrath, displeasure, disapproval, dislike, hard/bad/ill feelings, disgruntlement, animosity, pique, vexation, umbrage, antipathy, aversion, opposition, enmity(I will refer to ‘synonym’ words whenever I mean any of these words)

Well with that said I could end the article, as I am sure that most Christians would move away from these types of feelings toward another person. However, we are made of flesh and bone after all, and if it was simply a matter of denying our own feelings then the previous article would not have received as many views as it did. So here goes…

When looking at the dictionary definition I find it interesting that the word ‘perceived’ is in there. And this is what I would like to focus on right now. You see, this is exactly what ‘taking’ offense is all about. Well, a lot of times anyway. We think that somebody said something to deliberately insult us (or maybe they did it intentionally), and our minds start thinking of ways to respond. We could either ‘hurt’ the person back by saying something ‘meaner’ or ‘cleverer’, or we retaliate with a thorough explanation on why the person is wrong in what they are implying, or we simply keep quiet and keep all of those feelings inside us.

When we get home we tell our wife’s or husbands, or friends about what ‘that’ person said. But we usually don’t say it like they said it. We put our own little spin on it, with our own tone of voice and our own interpretation, so that it sounds real and convincing, and all the while we are increasing those ‘synonym’ feelings inside of us. We become annoyed, angry, irritated, displeased, vexed etc. This then causes feelings of resentment, wrath, disapproval, dislike, disgruntlement and hostility toward the other person. And basically, what has happened is a loss of relationship and a loss of love. This then ‘usually’ is followed by gossip and slander which leads to even more hurt and offense and the cycle continues.

Paul writes “You did not so learn Christ!”. (Eph 4:20) (He meant it in a completely different context, but I think it is relevant here) He continues:

Ephesians 4: 21 – 29:” Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away falsehood, let everyone speak the truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.”

So why do people take offense?

I think that we take offense because we do not know who we are in Christ. We may still seek the approval of peers, friends and colleagues, even our spouse. And because of this we are insecure. These insecurities tend to manifest whenever we feel embarrassed or if we feel someone is attacking us. When WE are not sure of a situation or an implied word we take offense. There is a saying: ‘Offense is not given, it is taken’. See that? We
take offense. The other person may have meant what they said in the best way possible, but our own interpretation of what they were saying leads to offense. And we take it gladly. Our human natures are much more at ease with fighting and insults then it is with showing love. This is why Jesus said that the whole of the law and all the prophets can be summed up in the commandments to love God and love your neighbour as yourself.

Oh how easy it is to be angry…but oh how difficult to overlook an offense.

So then what are we supposed to do?

Consider the following scenario:

Gregg and Josh had a disagreement about something. As a result they haven’t been talking or seeing each other for a while. They used to be ‘house friends’. One day both are at school watching their children practice sport. Gregg greets Josh politely. Josh greets back and they both have a seat, quite close to each other. 5 minutes later Josh picks up his cell phone and phones Eddy, the barber, to make an appointment for getting his hair cut. Gregg, who is also a barber, used to help Josh with those sorts of things. Gregg is upset.

This could go one of two ways.

Gregg takes the offense, ‘knowing’ that Josh did what he did on purpose simply to make a point. Gregg ‘storms’ out of there, heads back to his barber shop and vents his ‘synonym word‘ with his fellow staff members and some customers. As a result, everyone in town thinks that Josh is childish and crude. Very soon Josh’s name in the community is smeared and people start avoiding him.

OR

Gregg shrugs off what Josh has just done. He goes back to his barber shop and continues with his day normally. Later that afternoon he phones Josh and invites him over for a coffee. The end.

I believe the answer lies in love. That, and ensuring that your mind does not run away with you. We must ensure that we really know what a person meant before jumping to conclusions. The bible says: “Love covers a multitude of sins(1 Peter 4:8 ) AND Proverbs 17:9 “He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends”

Dear Reader, don’t allow the enemy of your soul to put a wall between you and another. Jesus Christ came so that you may have life and that in abundance. (John 10:10) Do not let the words of another steal your peace, but rather respond with love. Your own heart will love him/her even more. And forgive. The single biggest issues we see with people coming for ministry is un-forgiveness. Un-forgiveness leads to bitterness, which is ‘spiritual poison’, and bitterness destroys the work of the Holy Spirit.

Bear one another in love, and by doing so fulfil the law of Christ. (Eph 4:2, Gal 6:2)

I sincerely hope that this article has given some light to your questions.

Feel free to leave a comment

God Bless You As You Seek His Face.

WR

 

A Synopsis of Romans – Part 1

A while ago I decided to make a ‘study’ of the book of Romans. Actually of the entire New Testament. Not for any educational purposes, but to simply find answers to some of the questions that I had. I decided to read each book, each chapter and each verse with the single idea of understanding. Not just reading, but looking for context, reason and understanding of the scripture.

This is the fruit of my labour.

Over the next few days or weeks I will write a summary of the most prominent points that stood out for me. I trust that this will also bless you as it has blessed me! I will not go into detail about why the books have been written or who it is addressed to, I believe that every believer should go and look at those things themselves. The book of Romans: Chapter 1 – 8 Paul starts the letter by acknowledging the Divine Nature of Jesus in verse 4 of chapter 1, and that we have received grace from Jesus(5). Verse 6 relates to the fact that all are invited, as we are, to belong to Him. In verse 16 Paul relates how he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, because it is ‘God’s power working unto salvation to EVERYONE who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance”. He goes on to say that the belief in this gospel of Jesus Christ springs from faith and it leads to more faith. The main messages (to me) in the first 8 chapters are the fact that God’s wrath is real and against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. The reason being that since the beginning of creation God revealed His invisible nature and attributes, His eternal power and divinity have been made intelligible and clearly discernable in and through creation. So man is without excuse or justification. Because (verse 21 – 32) they did not honour Him as God and glorify Him. They lived in their own claims of wisdom and worshiped images resembling man and birds and beasts and reptiles. And so, God gave them up to their own lusts and depravity’s, a condemned mind until they were filled with every kind of “unrighteousness, iniquity, grasping and covetous greed, and malice. [They were] full of envy and jealousy, murder, strife, deceit and treachery, ill will and cruel ways. [They were] secret backbiters and gossipers, Slanderers, hateful to and hating God, full of insolence, arrogance, [and] boasting; inventors of new forms of evil, disobedient and undutiful to parents.” AND “Though they are fully aware of God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them themselves but approve and applaud others who practice them”. This seems a bitter pill to swallow that God would do such a thing to man. You see in those days man had the law. And what it did was bring a consciousness of sin. All of man’s efforts were simply an outward act and had nothing to do with the heart. We know that God is interested in our hearts, and so Paul continues in Chapter 2 about how the law kills. Man could never keep the requirements of the Law, it was, some would say, ‘flawed’. And God knew this, which is why He sent Jesus. The law kills, but Jesus is our righteousness. If we have faith and belief in Him then we are justified and accepted as righteous through Him.

Chapters 3 – 4 outline how Jesus came to replace the law, and how the law is now written on our hearts. Faith is now credited to us as righteousness, just like Abraham. (read chapter 4 verse 18 – 24).

Chapter 5 relates to the fact that we now have our entrance into God’s grace, through our faith in Jesus Christ, and that we should rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God. ‘Such a hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us’

We are now ‘daily delivered’ from Sin’s dominion through Christ’s resurrection life. Thank God for that!

The law came in to expand and increase the trespass (Sin), but where Sin increased and abounded, God’s grace has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded. Just as Jesus was crucified we have also been nailed to the cross so that our bodies may no longer be slaves to sin. We should now present our bodies to God as an implement of righteousness to be used for His Glory. We are now servants of Righteousness. (chapter 6 V 6 – 13) Sin, then, SHALL NO LONGER have dominion over us, since we are no longer under the law, but under Grace (subjected to God’s favour and mercy) All of this excites me! We were so completely lost without God, continually doing our own things, leading our own lives and falling evermore from Grace, but God’s mercy and love and favour are now ours through Jesus Christ. NOTHING THAT WE DID, but everything that Jesus did.

Chapter 7 is most interesting to me… A few ideas to get us going:

Verse 5 – when we were living in the flesh, the sinful passions that were awakened and aroused up by the law (by what the law makes sin) were CONSTANTLY operating in our natural powers (our bodies, our members) so that we bore fruit for death (sin)

Verse 8 – Sin, finding opportunity in the commandment to express itself (the law) got a hold of Paul and aroused and stimulated all kinds of forbidden desires. Without the law, sin is dead. (there is no consciousness of sin, of what is right or wrong)

Verse 10 – the very law that was supposed to bring life, brought death – it created a desire to ‘trespass’.

Verse 14 – the law is spiritual, but we are creatures of the flesh.

Verse 17 – it is no longer ‘we’ who sin, but the sin (principle) which is at home in us and has possession of us.

Verse 20 – if we then do what we don’t like doing (sinning), it is no longer us doing it, but the sin (principle) which dwells within us. (operating in the soul)

VERSE 21 – 23 Paul then says: “I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands. I delight myself in the Law of God, but I discern in my bodily members a different law at war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs”

Verse 24 – 25 Paul asks – who will release and deliver us from this body of death? THANK GOD! He will, through Jesus Christ. “So then indeed I, of myself with the mind and heart serve the Law of God (serve Christ) but with the flesh the law of sin.

SELAH (pause and calmly think of that)

Incredible isn’t it! The sin within us is actually working against our hearts and minds. It is a spiritual law that our members are constantly trying to satisfy themselves. (lust, greed, envy, jealousy, strife etc) and that when we do sin that it is not us but the sin within us. Our hearts and minds are with Christ but our bodies are very busy trying to satisfy themselves. (this is of course no excuse to go on and sin and blame it on our bodies)

CHAPTER 8 THEREFORE! There is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Who live and walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the spirit. Christ Jesus has freed us from the law of sin and death. Hallelujah! We now need to set our minds on the things that gratify the Holy Spirit and not our flesh. Through our Faith in Christ Jesus we received the Holy Spirit and if anyone does not have the Holy Spirit he does not belong to Christ and is not a child of God. The spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead will also restore life to our mortal bodies through His spirit who dwells within us.

Verse 15 – for this spirit is not a spirit of slavery to put us once more in bondage to fear, but we have received the spirit of ADOPTION, producing SONSHIP, whereby we cry – ABBA FATHER!! The Holy Spirit now is our helper, coming to our aid and bears us up in our weaknesses. When we do not know what to pray the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf! The Holy Spirit intercedes and pleads in behalf of all believers ACCORDING TO AND IN HARMONY WITH GOD’S WILL! NOTHING will now ever separate us from Christ’s Love. No suffering, affliction, tribulation, calamity, distress, persecution, hunger, destitution or peril or sword.

AMEN

Oh how amazing the riches of God. That He would choose us. That He would love us, and that through His son, Jesus Christ that He would save us.

In the subsequent posts I will take each chapter separately (chapter 9 – 16) and expound on them, with a slight focus on everyday application.

A pray that you have been blessed by this. The truth of God’s word NEVER comes back without having fulfilled its purposes.

God bless you as you seek His face.

WR

Right Believing

2 Corinthians10: 3 – 5 (AMP)

For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One),

I don’t know why, but for some reason I keep on coming back to this verse. In the ministry that we are involved in we often have to caution and encourage the ministry receiver the ‘walk out’ his/her healing. This refers to a matter of the head and heart, changing both to be in line with the word of God.

In his teachings, Joseph Prince regularly talks about ‘right believing’. In other words, getting your head right and knowing what you believe. When looking at the words of Paul, written to the church in Corinth, it is interesting to note what he says about our knowledge of God.

The NIV puts in like this: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God”

When we expand on this verse we see that we first have to destroy arguments and pretenses and theories and reasonings and proud and lofty ‘things’ that set themselves up against the knowledge of God. In my opinion this is very much applicable in the days that we live in. Everyone has an opinion, an interpretation, a new ‘revelation’ that they want to share, often at great cost to the ‘hearer’ who may misinterpret the message altogether. This leads to great delusion within the body of Christ and ultimately ensures that Christians do not walk in power or victory.

So, to understand the verse, I suppose we have to first understand who God is? In my attempt to understand who God is, I came up with the following:

God is:

  1. ADONAI: “Lord”
  2. EL, ELOAH: God “mighty, strong, prominent”
  3. ELOHIM: God “Creator, Mighty and Strong”
  4. EL SHADDAI: “God Almighty,” “The Mighty One of Jacob”
  5. YHWH / YAHWEH / JEHOVAH: “LORD”
  6. YAHWEH-JIREH: “The Lord Will Provide”
  7. YAHWEH-RAPHA: “The Lord Who Heals”
  8. YAHWEH-NISSI: “The Lord Our Banner”
  9. YAHWEH-M’KADDESH: “The Lord Who Sanctifies, Makes Holy”
  10. YAHWEH-SHALOM: “The Lord Our Peace”
  11. YAHWEH-ELOHIM: “LORD God”
  12. YAHWEH-TSIDKENU: “The Lord Our Righteousness”
  13. YAHWEH-ROHI: “The Lord Our Shepherd”
  14. YAHWEH-SHAMMAH: “The Lord Is There”
  15. YAHWEH-SABAOTH: “The Lord of Hosts”
  16. EL ELYON: “Most High”
  17. EL ROI: “God of Seeing”
  18. EL-OLAM: “Everlasting God”
  19. EL-GIBHOR: “Mighty God
  20. LOVE.

The names of God are a multitude and each describes an attribute of His personality, His Character and His actions.

When looking at these names, this (in my opinion) gives us the ‘knowledge of God’ the scriptures talk about, and as such, every argument, pretension, reasoning, teaching, theory and proud and lofty thing that teaches us differently, we are told, should be demolished and cast down, thereby taking every thought captive unto obedience to Christ.

There is a whirlwind of false doctrines out there, and in these last days these doctrines will be all the more available and believable. As the body of Christ we are called to discernment in these days, because if we do not discern what is truth then we will be deceived. The Bible guarantees this. Therefore, if what someone tells you is not in line with the word of God then we should not accept what that person is saying, and earnestly ask God for His truth to be manifest.

Joseph Prince in his teaching on ‘God’s protection plan against the four horseman of the apocalypse’ likens the white horse of Revelation 6:2 to the false teachings that are so prevalent in our world today. This horse carries a rider who carries a bow and has a crown on his head is given power to conquer. Jesus will also come on a white horse so it is quite easy to see how this ‘other’ rider on a white horse pretends to be Jesus. Revelation (and Daniel, and Ezekiel etc) warn about this end time delusion.

Therefore, think about what you are thinking about. Listen to what people and teachers are teaching and measure every word they speak against the Word of Truth which God had spoken millennia ago. The word that is sure to stand in the end of days.

Demolish the arguments that come from vain human interpretations and make sure you are rooted in the truth of the word of God, His Character, His promises and His Love.

God bless you as you seek His face.

WR