Friday, 13 December 2013

"Madiba" - he was, but I AM

"I am the way the truth and the life"... (John 14:6)

A gentle winding road - no longer one less travelled - sways all the way down the mountain pass. On one side the rock face glistens, moist and verdant with growth. Clusters of pink pelargonium flowers tumble down with a grace similar to the bridal bouquets held by solemn faced brides of earlier days. The other side is flanked by a dense green wall, with brief glimpses of the sheer drop shielded by their protection. Dappled sunlight plays through the branches overhead, and as the road stretches out and the curves lengthen, the wonder is over all too soon. Ahead the way is wide. It opens to a distant view of  silver waterfalls, strong after the generous rain. Eyes adjust to the harsher light as the hillsides give way to clusters of village settlements. Here, the mind has to sharpen to the presence of goats, cows and bony African dogs, roaming onto the road with a casual nonchalance. Smoke billows out of the sawdust tower at the local mill, a familiar landmark and reminder of the proximity of industry and commerce, even if only on a small scale.

The road leads past the Fort Hare University campus, the alma mater of Nelson Mandela. "Madiba", the name now more on everyone's lips than ever before. So many referred to him by that name, not knowing what it meant. It is the name of the Xhosa tribe to which he belonged, and it was considered an honour to refer to someone by the name of his particular tribe or clan. The brand "Madiba" outshines "Coco-Cola" and his face is probably one of,  if not the most recognisable in our history. He was loved and honoured in life, and is revered and idolised in death. He stunned the world at large with his ability to forgive, his policy of reconciliation instead of retribution. Silenced the prophets of doom who predicted mayhem and slaughter in our country at the time of his release. He showed people another way - the way of love and forgiveness, did they follow? Will they follow now, that his mortal body is no longer with us?

Sad as it may seem, people forget. The "mists of time" obscure the most noble efforts of man to be good, to make a difference. While we remember and bring our last respects to this special man, our hearts are filled with goodwill and love. A wave of his vision floods the country, stirs us to a "higher" calling. But then a spate of crime or a painful memory of abuse emerges, and the waters become murky again.

The memory of this man - Madiba, a truly wonderful man, will become merely a memory. A story parents love telling their children.

There was another man who walked this earth. Who taught and lived forgiveness with every aspect of His life and death. His "funeral" was attended by a handful of mourners, no lengthy eulogies were heard. His name carried a curse and His followers hid in fear of being persecuted. His grave was guarded by stern-faced Roman soldiers. No-one dared utter His name - the blood-streaked cross stood as a silent reminder of the way he died. A death of murderers, traitors.

The only perfect man who ever lived - the "Son of man", as he loved to refer to himself. What was His name, and why does it to this day still cause such offence to those who do not know Him? Jesus - Yahweh - I Am. Not named after anything or anyone, just that simple statement "I am". The same "I am" who appeared to Moses in  the desert, who always was and always will be.

How could this man profess to be; not only the Son of God, but the "I am" - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? This was seen to be blasphemy and still seems such a mystery... But then Jesus says to the disciples: "I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6) and then to defeat all doubt: "From now on, you know Him (the Father) and have seen Him".(v.7)  And again: "Anyone who Has seen me, has seen the Father" (v.9). The disciples must have looked a bit incredulous, so He reiterated: "I am in the Father and the Father is in me"...(v10).

So, he was buried without a ceremony, raised without a trumpet call, appeared quietly to a few and then taken up in a cloud to be re-united (made one) with the Father. In all He did, he gave glory to God, His words were the words of the Father, his claims the everlasting Truth. He did not call people to personal greatness through self-realisation or following in the footsteps of an earthly hero. He called the "contrite"(penitent, remorseful), the "poor" and the "peacemakers" blessed. But that does not mean that we have to shrivel away in a life of guilt and shame. His grace has covered that. Instead He says: "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me, will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father"! (v.12). Not because we are great men or woman, but because He lives. And always will.

Greatness is not an attribute bestowed on a few born to it. We are all capable of greatness as much as we are all fallen into sin and subject to temptation. The "greater things" that Christ promises become a reality if we submit to the One from whom all good comes. A greater light shines when His light shines through us, not the fleeting radiance of a life that stands out above the rest. The most glowing crowns await those who live lives in humble service to His glory. Who are content with the knowledge that He is. He is the reward, the everlasting life, the all in all.

A time of uncertainty stretches before us. More prophets of doom would have us believe that the future is dark and treacherous now that Madiba's light has left us. But Jesus says: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid" (v.27). We have the light of the Comforter and Councillor with us. The great "I AM" is preparing a place beyond this all.

Show respect where respect is due, but give glory and honour to the Holy Trinity of God alone.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Being led to follow

"I know His commands lead to eternal life."  (John 12:50)

The low lands call
I am tempted to answer
They are offering me a free dwelling
Without having to conquer

The massive mountain makes its move
Beckoning me to ascend
A much more difficult path
To get up the slippery bend

I cannot choose both
I have a choice to make
I must be wise
This will determine my fate

I choose, I choose the mountain
With all its stress and strain
Because only by climbing
Can I rise above the plane

I choose the mountain
And I will never stop climbing
I choose the mountain
And I shall forever be ascending -
Howard Simon

Moun­tains loom large in our cul­tural imag­i­na­tion. They rise up and erupt in our minds as much as they do on our land­scapes. The heights are well rep­re­sented in the Bible: Moses retires to Mount Sinai, where God reveals to him the Ten Com­mand­ments; Jesus gives his ser­mon on a mount, and it is on top of a moun­tain where he is trans­fig­ured into radiant and holy light.

How full of dreams and plans were our hearts when we settled ourselves on the eastern slope of this mountain. Overlooking the three rugged ridges of the Qabimbola*, I would gaze out from the wide deck of our cabin, ready to "soar on wings like eagles". These were dreams of self-sufficiency, reaching back in time to a real and earthy way of living. It felt so right, so noble and free from the pressures and greed of the "modern" world. The pull had been strong, regardless of the trials and tests that preceded our arrival. Trials which became fiercer as we were forced to face the motives behind our dreams, as well as our human disappointments and failings. Looking back they seem so unreal, a part of someone else's life. And perhaps they were...

At the heart of those early dreams and ambitions, was selfish desire. A deep need to stand for something real. But, blinded to the fact that what seemed "real" at the time, was yet another tantalising mirage. There was still beauty, but it was on the surface, like a carefully made up face that hides a broken heart.

The longing inside me burned and ached and cried for something, I didn't rightly know what. Then, on a misty day, He met me. I must have passed Him by on so many forest wanderings, and so many times while I was gazing out at those mountains, He was standing right next to me. It was not a sudden revelation or a dawning of dazzling light. More like a slow awakening to something that has always been right there in the peripheral.

But, what precedes a true "awakening" is death. The death of what was before, who I was before. Giving up so much that I thought I could not possibly do without. Gently, Jesus showed me the way to relinquish the pursuit of those "things" and areas of my life, which would ultimately just lead me back to "death". They did not seem like sacrifices, more like a joyful cleaning out of a choked and dark cupboard. His Word no longer seemed like a book of rules and archaic writings - page by page it came alive under my fingers. As His Spirit flowed and shone on the words, their truth rang like poetry and His decrees became like a long sought after map.

Christ observed the commission and instructions given Him, and He steadily acted in pursuance of them: "Whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say" (John 12:50b). Christ was so intimately acquainted with God's council, and so faithful in conveying them to the children of men. As a faithful witness he delivered souls and spoke the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It is a the greatest example of obedience to us. Christ said what he was told to say, did what the Father told him to do, and so should we. (We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard. - Acts 4:20)

He obeyed the hardest command the Father gave. The command that lead Him to be betrayed by His friends to whom He so faithfully witnessed. They condemned Him to hang on a cross, to be beaten and spat on. He went down to the depth of hell itself. It is there where we remain if we do not die with Him, but it is with Him that we will rise in victory if we do. His (the Father's) commands give eternal life - is there any other choice? But the choice we make is not in fear of hell alone, but from a place of love and devotion and a longing to be part of an eternal life with our beautiful Saviour.

This was His glory, that, as a Son, he was faithful to Him who appointed Him; and, by an unfeigned belief of every word of Christ, and an entire subjection of our souls to it, we should also give Him the glory due to His name.

Our days have a new lustre to it. Like the light in my husband's eyes. The miracle of changed lives. The joy of guiding our precious boys on the way that Jesus lights before us. To follow, trust, obey and hope. The wind has blown away those early ambitions. Made them superfluous. Day by day we are made new as His mercies are new. And being confident of this, that he who began a good work in (me and) you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6).

* Xhosa name for the Hogsback

Friday, 15 November 2013

Joyful Gentiles

"Rejoice, you Gentiles, with His people." (Romans 15:10)

Delight comes in unexpected packages. Waterfalls that cascade with unrestrained tumbling in the sunlight, collecting in mossy pools and spilling over rock terraces. A day becomes a gift when the horizon is stretched wide, unhindered, clouds piled high and riding on the breeze. On any given day I can "wax lyrical" about the wonders of these mountain slopes, but never more so than on an unashamedly brilliant early summer's day. Surrounded by the scent of indigenous herbs and flowers released by the heat of the mid-day sun, topped by the earthy notes of forest undergrowth. There is always more to delight in and all the more to a discerning eye. Eyes trained to notice the dart of an unusual butterfly, a speck of colour revealing a rare wild flower, the spoor of an elusive wild animal. What often remains out of sight, can be heard, when we are willing to listen. The distinctive call of the jackal buzzard, the raucous sound of the Cape Parrot. When all this can be experienced in the company of dear friends in shared reverence for the Creator who spoke all these things into being, the joy is complete.

But delight can be found alone with Jesus in a quiet room, in a new understanding, an unexpected revelation. It can be a moment of sweetness or a turning point. While I read and re-read Romans 15 last week, a new light fell on words that never held much meaning for me before. The first place I was made to hesitate was at verse 8, where Paul writes: "For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed". In Matthew 15:24 Jesus himself says to the disciples, imploring Him to deal with a persistent Canaanite woman: "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel". So how did I end up being included into the covenant that God made with the people of Israel? Verse 9 deepens the mystery by starting in the middle of a sentence with so that...

Jesus came to minister to the Jews in obedience to God his Father and in keeping with the covenant that the Father made with his chosen people. But His own people did not accept Him as their Saviour. The ministry was extended to all nations - so that the Gentiles (us) may glorify Him (the Father) for His mercy. I love the "so thats" and the "therefore's" in Scripture. More simply - the adverbs. When my little ones bring me dandelions and periwinkle flowers from the garden it always brings a smile to my face, therefore they know that I love and appreciate the gift. They bring it to me so that I may know that they love me. God never leaves us in the dark in his Word. If we truly seek His heart, the Holy Spirit will reveal it to us, even in a book like Romans, often perceived as a legalistic treatise rather than a book of hope, truth and practical instruction.

We may glorify Him for his mercy... What did His mercy afford us, the foreign branches from a barren tree? We where picked up and gently grafted into the true vine, reaching deep, thirsting for the sap, the life. With His sacrifice, Jesus literally "purchased" us with His blood into a new covenant - bringing us in right standing with the Father. Into His Kingdom, heirs without a birthright. Adopted into a life of hope. When Jesus lifted us up to the Father as a love offering, we were made acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Why did the Father show us this mercy? Was it truly only because of his unfathomable love? Paul continues in verse 9 with: "as it is written:" and then refers to four different places in the Old Testament, revealing the same reason for our salvation. Digging a bit deeper, I paged back to one of these quotes in Deut 32:43.: "Rejoice, O nations (Gentiles) with His people (the Jews), for He will avenge the blood of His servants". Another translation says "Make His people rejoice". How on earth do we make His people rejoice? No-one needs to make us wave our arms and cheer when the Bokke claim a victory, but to convince people, (and more specifically his chosen nation) to throw their arms up and cheer (rejoice) for Jesus' victory is another story.

I so clearly remember when I first slipped into the seat of my "new" and long sought after set of wheels. I turned the key and marveled at the familiar purr of the old VW Beetle engine. I could not wait to drive it out the gate, waving at neighbours, seeking out friends. Making them envious of my new-found freedom.

If we, as Gentiles, glorify the Father in the sense that we shower Him with adoring praise, honour, recognition and worshipful thanksgiving for His mercy, it could serve the purpose of provoking His chosen people, who have not acknowledged the new covenant of freedom, to envy. Not only did Christ confirm the promises made to the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), but His blood brought in a new covenant. It confirms and sets free, with such amazing grace, it remains "unreal" to many.

(I was also reminded that we need to honour the fact that the Jews are God's chosen people and be obedient to the purpose set before us, for "He will avenge the blood of His servants".)

The mystery is not that the Gentiles were saved. This was also prophesied in Isaiah. The true mystery is that we have become fellow heirs with Jewish believers, fellow members of the body of Christ and fellow partakers of the covenant promises to Israel! We now share in the spiritual riches God gave His chosen people because of His covenant with Abraham. We are now part of the one body of Christ, each individual member with its own unique purpose, sharing in the ministry ("...we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love" Eph 4:15-16).

There are four great unconditional covenants of promise to Israel, including the future restoration of Israel during the millennium, and although they were specifically given to Israel (Romans 9:1-6), the church does and will still benefit from them since they are in union with Christ, who is the ruler of Israel.

I must admit, this is still often too "huge" to truly make my own. How did I end up worthy of a crown when I have no royal bloodline? How did I end up being part of the true and living Vine, when my branch was withered and worthless? How did I end up with a room in the eternal mansion for which I paid no deposit, laid down no payment? Through God's great mercy and the loving obedience of his Son. What is simple enough to grasp is that I have been saved to bring Him glory, to rejoice, to sing praises. Right now that seems like the most natural thing to do - don't you think?

"The root of Jesse will spring up, One who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in Him. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom 15:12-13)

Friday, 1 November 2013

Hope floats

"But hope that is seen is not hope at all." (Romans 8:24)

From our "nest" the sky seems swollen, grey and without cheer. Dawn without the sun slips in quietly, unassuming, like a stage-hand behind the heavy curtains. No bright robin's song or glowing rays to touch the treetops. I rise reluctantly, starting the day cold and sluggish until the fire glows in the hearth, giving some compensation for the sunless skies. To most, indoor days hold images of slow indulgence, but when you share your "indoors" with two lively boys, it takes on a different hue. The floor creaks under their buoyant bodies, the elderly cat flattens her ears and finds safety behind the wood-stove. My own challenges often seem so real. And at times rather overwhelming, if not put into perspective, and weighed against the blessings. On a scale which has eternity as the balance.

I have thought much on "hope" lately - this being the topic of our current bible study. At first I thought; this could be a worthwhile journey, learning about how "Wisdom is sweet to your soul - If you find it, there is future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off" (Prov 24:14). Confirming that faith and hope is not about what you will receive, it is about what you believe. Making it a way of thinking, a way of living.

Up to this point, my perception of this "future hope" was very limited to surrendering my tomorrows and those of my family, to the hope I have in a sovereign God. But when that shaky selfish hope comes tumbling down in a crisis, we again turn to God, clinging to Him with a desperate need for Him to fix and restore. And often He will and He does - but what if our hope is not His will, and in a time of tragedy it all lies in a tangled mess at your feet? I can transfer the mess to the foot of the cross, but "If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied" (1 Cor 15:19). We can and should build our hope on God's sovereignty rather on what he can do for us.

The words of this verse is what really stopped me short: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you". (1 Pet 1:3-4).

Why are we to be pitied if we have hope in this life only? It can be compared to when someone gives you a gift, and you hold onto the parcel, thrilled by the magic of receiving it, but just wanting to keep it wrapped up, feeling loved and cared for in the moment of being remembered. But the content is uncertain, and in not opening it and accepting it, the "value" of the gift cannot be appreciated. In God's mercy he gave us the gift of a new birth into a living hope. In this life we can never fully comprehend the full extent of this gift. But if we limit our hope to this existence, only a fraction of His glory is revealed.

We cling to the cross and the knowledge that we have been saved, but it is through His resurrection that we received the inheritance into an eternal life with our Saviour. Without that, Christ would have been just another martyr, a great prophet who died for a people with their eyes locked on the gift rather than the great reality at the heart of it.

I felt a despair growing in my belly - there is so much I hold incredibly dear in this life - do I really value this gift - look forward with an "inexpressible" joy to the day that I will leave this broken world behind to go to my real home? My hope is an apprehensive, tentative looking forward, rather than a sweet longing. "In this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is not hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not have, we wait for it patiently."(Romans 8:24-25)

I realised that I do not have a problem with placing my hope in God through trials. I wouldn't know what else to place it in, that has not disappointed me already. But the living hope that goes beyond trusting that God will bring me through trials and tests is vague. The kind of hope that will give you the desire to praise Him through the hard times. I have a "cognitive" realisation that my home is in heaven, but my heart keeps on digging its roots in the infertile soil at my feet. In this all, the enemy questioned my dedication to God, but: God never questioned it.

In His wonderful omnipotence He knows the struggle in my heart. He also knows that I can have victory over it. I learned that "although I may lay victim to my circumstances, God never looses hope in me". As long as I long for the things that will bring Him glory, I know that He will be faithful in growing the hope in my heart.

Until then I just keep on unwrapping this gift. At each layer my desire grows, and a small quickening stirs in my heart. Right now I place my hope in the knowledge that through God's mercy it will expand until it bursts the banks and overflows with a joy that will not only be inexpressible, but will join the stream of living water from the throne. Pray with me that your hope will join this joyous stream, bringing life to parched souls and thirsty hearts. And glory to God the Father and Christ his living Son.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Humble stars

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, 

so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." (Phil 2:14-15)

Last night I drifted off with the sound of frogs singing in the soft rain. A peace settles over your soul when those little amphibians voice their contentment. Like the sound of cicada's in the sun, a robin at dawn, ibises at dusk. I would list children's laughter amongst these, but at the moment mine are creating such a din, that it would not seem sincere... After a rich time with family, we returned home feeling strangely lost, but also with a new appreciation for the beauty of the land and the authenticity of a simple lifestyle. It was easy to be content when wrapped in family love, lavished on and surrounded by constant entertainment and distractions. Faced with the daily routine of a mother and housewife, irritation started tugging at the edges, regardless of the fabulous view and gentle mountain breezes.

Last night my small son pointed out the evening star to me, and I was suddenly made aware of it's lustre. Regardless of the fact that this is all it gets to do. Shine. It was placed in the dome of our night-sky along with millions of other stars, just doing what they were made to do. Shine. So how about you and me?

We, who have the privilege of being saved in Christ, have the same purpose - to shine. When I came across Paul's words to the Philippians, I noticed that he does not say - in which you should or can shine like stars in the universe. It just says: "In which you shine".

I must admit, I don't always feel that "shiny". At times it seems like the dust of a desert blizzard has settled and I need a good soak and peaceful time of silence and reflection with Jesus before I am ready to shine for Him again. But the previous verse proves me wrong. It merely says: "Do everything without complaining or arguing... so that you may become blameless and pure children of God....... in which you shine like stars in the universe.

Often, God's way seems so upside down. In a performance based society, we have come to expect and believe that nothing comes from nothing. But this is the "scandal of grace". If we truly believe that Christ has done it all at the cross, there is nothing we can bring to the table that will add to who we are or ultimately to who He is. At the true realisation of the enormity of this gift, lives are changed, hearts are altered and we become blameless and pure, regardless of the state of sin in the world.

But, we do not become perfect, that is why Paul says: "Do everything without complaining or arguing" - knowing full well how easy we can be deceived to expect that as Christians we should be given a free ticket to a life of blessings and "prosperity". Especially so, if we do a certain amount of "good deeds" each day. What if I could succeed, with Christ to "do everything without complaining or arguing", even when the going gets tough, or the tasks seem mundane and without reward? Not as a suffering martyr, but as a joyful child of God - would this not speak louder than all my attempts to do good and to "shine"?

Even the most noble cause is of no use to the Kingdom of God if the attention is drawn to the earthly benefactor rather than the Giver of life and grace itself. I take heart from the knowledge that in a back to front society, there is One who searches the hearts of man, and honours the gentle labour of love for Him in silence. The noisy gongs or clanging cymbals of those who serve without love for Him, do not honour or fool the Maker of the Universe.

So then, we sweep the floor, serve the next grumpy client, change the next smelly nappy, face the next day of uncertainty or hardship - without complaining or arguing. This, as children of the living God, redeemed by the living Christ, is how we become blameless and pure in a wicked and depraved generation. See the light reflected through your eyes when you look in the mirror. No evening star or galaxy of heavenly bodies can surpass that. YOU have the source of that light living within you. Surrender to It and SHINE!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Comfortably numb

"I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of my mouth!" (Rev 3: 15-16)

A dragon tail of mist gently pushes up from the valley. It lends a freshness to the morning, a sense of lightness that is all at once new and wonderfully familiar. The sun warms but does not sting, the breeze refreshes, but does not chill. "Breathe deep, moments like these are treasures to keep. Listen close, look along, breathe deep"...

I take another deep breath. This time it is held a bit longer. The scripture verse before me is not sweet, it does not hold a gentle, comforting or reassuring message. But I believe it can bring renewal, so lets go out on that limb and see what the Holy Spirit wants us to see...

A letter to a church, an unsaved church. A proud church. Christ himself the correspondent ("The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God, says this:" v 14). And this is a good way to begin the letter, because it affirms to the people in Laodicea that He knows what He's talking about. That whatever assessment He gives of the church is absolutely accurate, whatever promise He offers, was and is confirmed in His perfect work. When He talks about their unredeemed condition, He is a faithful and true witness to that condition. When He offers them the promise of fellowship in verse 20, which is a promise of salvation, He can offer that, because He is the Amen who has sealed the covenant of God, the promise of God.

Laodicea was an important city, situated on a trade route. A rich city. The Jews in this city lived in the midst of a pagan culture. They probably went there because they were entrepreneurs and wanted to start their businesses. They found themselves in the midst of pagan culture and morality and they became mixed with it. Here they lived a life of ease and indifference. There would have been a synagogue there for sure, and since there were a lot of Jews, it would probably have been a very large one.

What fascinated me when I read about this city was it's water supply at that time. There were some streams in the area, but as the population grew, the supply was not sufficient and even dried up in the winter times. But being an entrepreneurial people, they built an aqueduct that brought in water underground. Very impressive, but this left them weakened in other ways. The enemy could come along and conquer them by just cutting off the water supply, finding where the aqueduct was, identifying it, sealing it off and then just waiting until the siege of the city was accomplished, as the people had no water. On the surface the city was fortified, seemed strong and secure, but a lack of water would leave them helpless....

Another interesting discovery was that it was evident, at least, that the water that reached the city was not all that wonderful, for thick deposits of  impurities can still be seen almost choking the surviving section of the pipes. So whatever water finally got to the city was dirty and impure. Tepid and lacking freshness. The kind of stuff we would spit out, should we be given a drink of it...

It was also a banking centre... It became so wealthy that they even rejected an offer of help from Rome to rebuild their city after an earthquake, claiming they had plenty of their own, thank you very much. They also had a strong wool industry with a sought after glossy black wool which was made into luxurious items of clothing. To top it all, they were famous for their medical school with well-known teachers and researchers. Here they manufactured an ointment that could cure almost any eye ailment. (Remember all this when you read the last extract from Revelations after the conclusion...)

So it had a church - a church founded at the same time as the others in Paul's ministry in Ephesus. But this church got "infected" with a deadly virus: heresy. Misrepresenting the deity of Christ. They had allowed themselves to be corrupted to the point that they were only a church by name, it's heart lost and unsaved. Lukewarm, like the water my mom used to give me to drink to make me vomit. Not a pleasant image.

"I know all the things you do" - we are known by our deeds. In Romans 2 verses 6 to 8, Paul makes it as clear as anywhere in the Bible, "God will judge you on the basis of your deeds." "God will render to every man according to His deeds." "To those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality, He'll give eternal life. To those who are selfishly ambitious and don't obey the truth but obey unrighteousness, He'll bring wrath and indignation".

And then we think - hey, but we were saved by grace and faith and all of those good things. This is true, but whether we are saved or not shows up to the world by what we do (or don't do). This does not mean we have to make a "list" of good things to do each day, that would actually defy the purpose of the cross. A heart conscious of the cost of it's salvation and quickened by a true love for it's Saviour, overflows with an abundance of sweet fruit.

He says I know your deeds and therefore I know your heart. I can see by what you do, what you are. A person who is saved shows it. What do I want to show the world? What do I want to show the One who offered His life and blood, so that all this sickness and dirt could be removed from my soul and that I, without anything to bring to the cross, could stand before Him without a single blemish or stain?

Some churches made the Lord weep, some made Him angry. This one made Him sick. He would rather have people be cold - reject Him outright, than to misrepresent Him to the world. To be hot, means to be on fire, zealous, spiritually alive, eager, bubbling over. Yes, to some we will "feel" uncomfortable to be near to, but to those hungering and cold, the heat will be inviting, glowing, irresistible.

This is a church of "professing" Christians... go to church, claim to know the Lord, but aren't saved and do not follow him. Content with self-righteous religion. Hypocrites playing games. To Christians like these Jesus says in Matthew 7:  "Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, and I will say to them: Depart from Me, I never knew you. You may have done many works in My name and prophesied and cast out demons, but I don't know you."

We do not need to accept a "form" of godliness without power. Or be like the Jews in Romans 10, who have a zeal for God, but not according to a true knowledge. Be touched by Christianity but not belong to Christ.

The sad, sad truth is that Jesus says to us, there is more hope for those who are "cold". Who have not been touched by the gospel at all. This is a excerpt from a commentary that made me stop in my tracks:  "There is more hope for those who make no pretence of knowing Him, than there is for the one who makes the pretence, but his life illustrates that he does not really honour Christ at all. In fact, I would say there's no one farther from the truth in Christ than the one who makes an idle profession without real faith. He is really in Satan's hands. They had bought a satanic lie about Christ. They were in religion up to their necks. They called it Christianity. They said they were a church. Satan was in control."

It carries on to say: "Perhaps none of the seven letters is more appropriate to the twentieth century church than this. It describes vividly the respectable, sentimental, nominal, skin-deep religiosity which is so wide spread among us today. Our Christianity is flabby and anaemic, we appear to have taken a lukewarm bath."

What is our hope then - how should we live? I wish I had an answer for everyone who struggles with this as much as I do at times. But the answer lies in Christ and Christ alone. He is the way, the truth and the life. The source of the healing stream, the fire that will ignite a heart ready to be revived. He does not want a single soul to be lost. He is saying: You are poor, you are blind, you are naked. Let me fix that.

"I advise you to buy gold from me -- gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. And also buy white garments so you will not be shamed by your nakedness. And buy ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I am the one who corrects and disciplines everyone I love. Be diligent and turn from your indifference. "Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends. 

I will invite everyone who is victorious to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne." (Rev 3:18-21)

Thursday, 19 September 2013

In Gratitude or Ingratitude?

"He fell face down on the ground at Jesus' feet, thanking Him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan." (Luke 17:16 - NLT)

Waking up slowly. I hear a robin's song, geese chattering and the distant crowing of a rooster. The curtains start glowing and two small warm bodies wedge their way between us. Soft breathing slips into chuckles and dawn breaks in all its glory over the mountains. The scent of summer is in the air, warm earth thirsts and roots reach deep for moisture. A feeling of contentment settles in the room and my heart grows large with gratitude. If I could only lock it in there and take it with me into the day... Live a life of being thankful. For each small moment, but most of all for what was accomplished on Golgotha, in order that I may be free. And have eternal life.

There is the gift of giving, the gift of receiving and then there is the wonder of giving thanks. Jesus meets ten lepers along the border between Samaria and Galilee. They call out to him from a distance: "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” The story continues with the words that Jesus used to heal them: "Go, show yourselves to the priests. And as they went, they were cleansed." One of them, heart racing with anticipation; looks down at his hands. He runs them languidly over the once suppurating flesh, now smooth and whole... The other nine break into a run, eager to show their new health to the priest. The Jewish priests were the only ones who had the authority to declare someone either clean or unclean in society. But he hesitates, looks back over his shoulder, a call from deep down urging him back.

He does not merely say thank you. This man falls face down into the dirt at Jesus feet, weeping with joy and crying out his thanks. The Samaritan. Not only did he used to be a leper, outcast, untouchable. He is part of a despised race. 

The Samaritans were an ethnic group that grew out of the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim (Joseph's sons) after their deportation in 722 BC into Assyria. The Jews at the time of Christ viewed the Samaritans as idol worshipping apostates (ones who abandoned their religious faith) to be shunned, and who had intermarried with the Gentiles. Jesus however, unlike his fellow Jews, did not shun them, view them unworthy of His grace.

The story continues when Jesus calls out over the form of the man at his feet: "Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine - where are they? "Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?" (Luke 17:11-18) He is not praising the man at His feet for returning, but rebuking those beyond for their "ingratitude"... To the man at His feet he says: "Rise and go; your faith has made you well" I was thrilled to find a footnote in the NLT which says: or "Your faith has saved you" The "foreigner" did not only receive physical healing. The realisation of what was done for Him compelled him to turn around. Not for a polite thank you, but to fall down at the feet of the Son of God to give praise and thanks. To acknowledge that even if he was broken, the "man" before him had made him whole.For his faith, his gratitude and for giving glory to God - he received not only physical healing, but restoration for his soul, worth so much more than a "clean" body.

I have been thinking about gratitude lately. I’ve been thinking about people who have given me gifts in the past to whom I have expressed thanks. I’ve been thinking about people who, recently, have thanked me.

And I've been thinking about people I need to thank. Of so, so many things that I am deeply thankful for. But what about the man from Galilee who hung on the cross, despised and beaten? Who was willing to become covered with the leprosy of my sins, so that I may stand before Him, the High Priest at the right hand of God, clean and free. He above all deserves my thank you - through a life lived in gratitude overflowing in praise.

"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thes 5:18)

Friday, 6 September 2013

Forever and ever...

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart, yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The moon rises in a halo of light over the faint rugged outline of the second Hog's back. The circle is small. One little hand rests in the strong calloused hand of their father. Another, dimpled and warm is slipped into mine. Our heads are bowed, and in this moment there is wholeness. There are moments of pure joy, love, even holiness that cause you to hold your breath and want to hold onto it forever...

I remember a time many years ago, attending a science exhibition in the CSIR gardens. I became mesmerised by a pendulum under a glass dome, which was swinging without any human intervention. It needed no gas, no electricity, no push. It was put in motion by the rotation of the earth, and it would keep swinging . . . forever. It was wonderful and frightening. Eternity was, no doubt, embedded in my heart.

Or perhaps just the opposite was true? That early event, and a number of them since, has shown me that I am in fact completely incapable of grasping the eternal. Perhaps the ability to be intrigued by the eternal is in my heart, but I certainly don’t have the ability to comprehend it. Though everything is beautiful in its time, yet till they are revealed and all viewed together; they will not be perfectly understood, or the beauty of them seen. For God has put something "hidden", or "sealed up", in the midst of them, so that it cannot be perfectly known. What I do know is that God has also "placed" the Spirit of Christ in my heart, and His salvation into eternity is mine to have and to hold through repentance, grace and more grace.

For this reason the veil or ignorance can bring rest. While we don’t feel the need to explain the death of a ninety-five-year-old saint, we often feel compelled to understand why someone dies “before their time.” Or take an even more difficult event – the suicide of a loved one. This certainly begs for an explanation and families can spend the rest of the lives trying to understand what they did to cause the suicide and why God allowed it.

This passage allows us to rest even before our quest for answers begins. Whatever explanations we invent will, no doubt, be wrong or hopelessly incomplete, so we might as well start immediately with trusting God.
The veil is reason for thanks. Do I really want to know what is going to happen to my children? If I had such knowledge I would live in fear.

To have my life "hidden in Christ" gives me reason to surrender my fears. To live in the knowledge that all things were created through Him, for Him and by Him, and that includes me. The eternity set in my heart is the knowledge that I will spend eternity with my Saviour. How or when or why is not for me to discern. "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1).

The veil teaches me to live as a child before the Father. As a child, I don’t need or want to know the details of how my father is going to get us to the beach. It is more than enough to know that he is going to get us there.

"My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore." (Psalm 131)

The veil teaches us to live by faith. How unimaginable – how inhuman – it would be to rely on what we know. To trust our God, King and Father is the most satisfyingly human thing that we can do...

Main Source and credit to: Eternity in Our Hearts? ...Ecclesiastes 3:11 Revisited, By: Ed Welch.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Occupation: Mother

"As apostles of Christ, we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children." (1 Thes 2:6-7)

My fingers hover over the keyboard. A flotsam of words drifts in and out of my thoughts, none lingering long enough to form a sentence. The wind has been put to rest and a merciful hush settles in the morning sun. The boys are exploring in the woods and all is peaceful on Inesi... A small alarm tugs somewhere at the back of my brain. I ignore it and close my eyes, listening for the words to come. Then I hear it again, this time clear, yet far. I am being summoned from the depth of the forest, and I frown, feeling irritated and disturbed. But something quickens my heartbeat, and I know - this is no fickle demand, it is an urgent cry for help.

I fly out the door, tripping over my feet as I rush down the slippery path to the dark mouth of the wattle forest. I distinguish two voices, a strong determined cry for help and a softer whimper, gasping and distressed. Bramble thorns grab and hook at my clothes, my hair, my hands. The path seems endless and the voices seem so near, but still I see no sign of those two beloved blonde heads. Finally the eldest breaks through the branches, out of breath, announcing that his brother is stuck in a tree and hurt. My heart sinks. "Please give me strength Jesus", I pray - "I'm not good at this". I wish for my strong and sure-footed husband to be near, knowing he would have it all under control in a minute, without a bead of sweat. But this is up to me, so I slide and tug, crawl and reassure my way into the depth of a thicket. The little one is dangling at a precarious angle from a branch, his feet shod in red gumboots, suspended in mid-air. Small white fingers are clenched tightly around the limb of a fallen tree, and I gently try to pry them loose. He shrieks and then I notice his track-suit pants hooked firmly on a small stump digging into his groin. I hear myself soothing in a low, soft voice and I marvel at how the voice makes me feel calm and strong also... 

Finally the tightly stretched fabric becomes unhooked, and I lower his limp and shaky body into my arms. He clings to my neck and we sit for a long time, just holding onto each other until the shaking stops. I feel his limbs over to see if all is as it should be and then, relieved and thankful, I start sliding out of the thicket with the "injured" one clinging to my front like a little koala bear. We stumble and fumble our way back to the sunlight and then sprawl out on the warm grass, praising and thanking and soaking up the warmth. The shudders cease and I look down, inhaling the spice and earth scent from the top of his head. Wet eye lashes lay gently on his flushed cheeks and I recognise the sweet sound of a sleeping child.

Mothers are seen to be gentle, selfless, soft, caring, patient and ever-loving. Ask any mother if that is a description of her, twenty four-seven, and if she is honest, her answer would be "No way!" A mother's love can be fierce, her temper a formidable torrent, her patience stretched to the point where it snaps like a whiplash. In ourselves we are not able to be the serene madonna with the benign smile, an infant at her breast, while the other(s) is/are bringing down the house. Why then does the word "mother" lie so soft on your tongue, sound so reassuring to your ears?

In the bible the word "mother" is used 152 times in the Old Testament and 85 times in the New. (NIV). A mother is the Bible's most honoured woman, and great stress is laid upon the influence of mothers. The love of children was deep in the hearts of the Hebrew women, and the mother was regarded with the deepest reverence. I think of Sarah, the beloved wife of Abraham, who was to be the Mother of Nations - ultimately ordained to lead to Christ, our Saviour. Her son Isaac, was born in her old age, against all odds. The Bible's first story of a miracle conception. Sarah's life was one of continuous trial, but through it she emerged as a woman of power, not in the worldly sense, yet one who was a dutiful and beloved wife and who finally became a favoured and venerated mother.

Mary, the most hailed and honoured mother of them all, was an uncertain teenager, chosen by God, not because she fitted the perfect description of a mother in His eyes. But because she was willing to let His will be done through her. Among Jesus' last words was to ask the disciple whom he loved (John) to take care of his mother. The son of God making sure that His earthly mother is taken care of by a man who never stopped believing in Him.

There is much to be said and written about mothers in the bible, and much to be learnt from them, but who do we draw our strength from each day when the challenges and demands come quick and fast and there is no time to draw aside to look for guidance. I have seen and known mothers who seem to embody all that we perceive to be a selfless, patient nurturer. Who pace the floor in the dark of night, gently cooing and graciously mopping and entertaining throughout the day. I'm not one of them. I have learnt how selfish I can be when the demands don't stop. How frustrated I become when things don't go my way and how unwilling I am to admit - I am not the "natural mother" I had dreamed of being. But since I really became a full-time mother, I have found a "Partner" who can be all of that for me and more.

There have been moments of rebellion, times of undue outbursts of anger and bouts of self-pity. Slowly but surely I'm learning to embrace what it truly means to be a mother. Paul says: "As apostles of Christ, we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her children". The most important part for me, is not being like a mother caring for her children, but being an "apostle" of Christ. Then the burden of trying to be perfect is lifted, for He has already been and done that for us. In serving Him, we follow His commands, reflect His perfect love and humbly walk in His will. My children have got used to me suddenly clasping my hands over my eyes (or ears) and praying out loud for His help. (And for binding my hands when I feel like sending them flying out the window). The oldest now just says: "It's okay Danu, she's just talking to Jesus". There have been times where he senses that the situation is getting a bit out of control and then reminds me with a frown: "Mom, I think it is time to pray".

These two precious beings have taught me so much. I marvel at the gift of being a parent. The reward of carrying them under my heart and knowing who really placed them there. The reward of knowing that I may guide them on the way the Spirit of Christ in them already knows, and the joy of seeing them respond to it in such a pure and beautiful way. Reward and acknowledgement is something we are taught to expect from small. A mother does not receive a bonus at the end of another life-year of her children. My reward is a life hidden in Christ and sharing that every day with them is a joy unsurpassed. Teaching them the alphabet, how to brush teeth, good manners etc. can be tedious and draining. 

But sharing with them the truth that shines back through their eyes, seeing them discover the world that "God made", is an unending pleasure. It fills me with an effervescent joy that bubbles over until I join in the uninhibited dance of being a child again. A greatly blessed, highly favoured, imperfect but forgiven child of God!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Masterpiece in your Mirror

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."(Psalm 139:14)

After a cold gray day, the sun breaks through, reflecting brilliantly off every surface. The marvel of a new day, a new symphony to the Creator, surpassing every man-made sound ever conceived. Someone once said: "We stand in awe of a majestic mountain, marvel at the scent of a forest, delight at a cascade of rushing water, yet we pass by ourselves each day..." Ever stood in front of the mirror thinking "Wow, what a masterpiece"? Which is exactly what you are! The only part of creation made in the image of its Creator. We may be like grains of sand, minute in comparison to the vastness of the universe out there, but we each carry the imprint of God in our DNA. His Spirit in every fibre, tendon and vessel that throbs and surges with life. Not an elite group of individuals who fit a certain criteria or meet a specific standard, every man and woman who ever breathed. Each fearfully and wonderfully made...

Which is why, when I read about a project in progress in PE called the Matthew lunch, it rang true in my heart.

In a nutshell, the intention is to seek out the lost and the homeless, the destitute and the lonely, and for one day, treat them like the kings and queens that they are in the eyes of the Lord. They will be collected from wherever they are living, and taken to the Fountain Vineyard church who are hosting this event. There they will be able to shower and put on fresh clothing (which is currently being collected). The women can have their hair done, and be refreshingly made up. The men can have a haircut. They will each receive a brand new bible, into which their names will be written while a pastor, elder or deacon of a participating church prays with them. It was revealed to the man behind this project in an epiphany he had in his flat, that at that very moment that the guest's name is written into his or her brand new bible, (if they choose to commit their lives to the Lord) so the same angel that revealed this to him, would enter that person's name into the Book of Life!

There will be live music in the form of praise and worship musicians and singers. There will be a three-course lunch, during which time there will be several testimonies shared from people who have been down in the gutters and been picked up by God and put in a place to serve these unfortunates right here right now. There will be a testimony from a former millionaire who was humbled by the Lord and allowed to keep only R2000 of his wealth. Today God has built this man up again and his life is so much richer than it ever was before - because Jesus is his business partner. An amazing woman by the name of Tanya Cochrane will be flying down from Johannesburg (see her testimony on the website), to speak about her addiction to drugs and how the amazing love and power of God set her completely free! 

Graham, the man behind the project will testify about having been destitute and homeless himself. Each guest will receive a month's free food in the form of amazing soya meals that have become available in South Africa. Their details will be taken for the creation of CV's which will be put up on a website for free download and contact by anyone who might be able to offer them a job. After the lunch is over they will be returned to their places of abode, hopefully encouraged and filled with hope for a brighter future, having encountered the love of people saved by Christ, which comes directly from our precious Father God Himself.

During the day, the various testimonies that are given will be recorded, along with some of the praise and worship music, mixed and burned to CD's which will be given to each and every person that helped and those guests that leave contact details with them. It is their hope that these CD's will be played and will in turn sow seeds to bring in the lost and hopeless

These lunches will in turn pave the way to something called The Paul Project, so named in honour of the Apostle Paul. This project will seek to join the various ministries of the many churches of Port Elizabeth together, in order to increase each others resources so that they effectively have one Body of Christ. This can begin to pave the way for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and hopefully usher in the revival that is the hope of our country.

A beautiful vision? - I thought so. Through Christ, we are all heirs to the great Kingdom of God. Each one of us can be used to make a difference and bring this Kingdom nearer, right here, right now.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

True Reconciliation

"We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God." (2 Cor 5:20)

Deserted Xhosa hut

Bare branches bend before a restless wind. The roof creaks in the early morning sun, like the joints of an aged man. A dog howls in the distance. Nearby, a gong resounds, calling labourers to a coffee-break before the day's work continues. We often see them as they strain up the hill, with misty breaths and laughter blown far on the chill wind. Some have their homes among us on the mountain, but often their daily journey starts all the way from the valley below, long before first light. The reality of their lives is to a large extent a mystery to us. We live and work in relative harmony, but with so little knowledge or understanding of who they truly are, what they feel, what their home circumstances are etc. The Xhosas are a private and independent people, and a great part of their history has much blood on its pages.

The Xhosa Wars, also known as the Cape Frontier Wars, were a series of nine wars between the Xhosa people and European settlers, from 1779 to 1879, in what is now the Eastern Cape in South Africa. They are also known as "Africa's 100 Years War"; with the different conflicts seen as a series of flare-ups in one long war of attrition - the longest in the history of colonialism in Africa.

 In more recent history the Eastern Cape continued to be the scene of much conflict, forced removals, the artificial independence of two Bantu states, the Ciskei and the Transkei, source of cheap migrant labour for the mines further north and with it the havoc it played on family life over many years. A state of emergency was even declared on the 2nd of February 1990. It culminated into the fateful day of the Bisho massacre of the 7th of September 1992.

Much more can be said and written about this sad history, and the atrocities performed on both sides of the colour divide, here and elsewhere in our land. With so much blood spilt on our soil, is true reconciliation possible? Many have dedicated their lives to this cause, and much concerted effort has been put into bringing this about. Why is there then still so much animosity in our land?

My answer to this question came from Scripture. 2 Corinthians 5:20 reads: "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God" 

Man can only truly be reconciled to man, once man has been reconciled to God.

Reconciliation involves a changed relationship, because our trespasses are no longer counted against us. We were reconciled to the Father through Christ and were given the ministry of reconciliation. This basically means that we are now to announce to others the message of God’s grace.

We find the absolute heart of the gospel in the next verse: The sinless Saviour took our sins that we might become God's righteousness! This is mind-blowing... Righteousness is not a sweet-sounding word. It calls us away from the image of our Heavenly Father as a benign old man with a long beard and a serene smile. It calls us back to the Almighty God the Father, just, righteous and omnipotent. Calling us through Jesus to become His righteousness - we let this sink in a bit and we will stand in awe and "fear" before His throne.

Part of our spiritual armour is the breastplate of righteousness. This is a metal plate that covers the chest and ultimately the heart of the soldier. When we have received the righteousness of God through the sacrifice of Jesus, we also receive the "right" to put on his armour each day.

To have/become God's righteousness does not only involve a changed relationship, it also needs to lead to changed behaviour. As we face a broken world with God's righteousness what would we see?

Just that: brokenness. Brought about by surrender to evil rather than righteousness. And ultimately with spiritual eyes, we realise our own broken state. But; "The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18) When my own heart breaks and my spirit is crushed at the full realisation of my own sin and what it brought about, it leads me to a place where there has to be repentance. Another word that we don't like hearing. But there is no reconciliation without repentance. "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." (2 Cor 7:10).

When we face the final judgement, we will only be called to answer for our own actions. 

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. Hate the sin, but love the sinner. I do not always have the grace and ability to love and forgive unconditionally, but I know that God does. With Jesus before me each day, one small step at a time, it is possible to love and forgive. Not to condone the wrong, but to know that surrender in prayer is powerful, but carrying bitterness in my heart is debilitating.

A small, seemingly insignificant example from my own life was a recent theft from our home that left me seething. The culprit was not a masked and armed villain in the dark, but a young girl, brought to help her aunt clean our home. Essentially still a child, the temptation of the shiny rings on my dressing table was too much to resist. First to disappear was a ring adorned with an amber stone set in a simple setting, a gift from my husband. Then my garnet engagement ring went "missing". Neither was very valuable, but they were personal treasures, with beautiful memories and meaning attached.

After the truth was discovered, I could not look at this girl without a feeling of resentment. She had given the rings to a school friend and the friend had "lost" them, so I gave up the hope of retrieving my treasures. Later I learnt that the father had beaten the little girl severely when confronted with the theft and the mother, being an alcoholic, did not care much to defend or teach her child right from wrong. I prayed to be given a Christ-like heart for this girl. Since, I have started seeing less defiance in her haughty stares, but glimpsed the pain she carries as a result of being rejected and assaulted at such a tender age. I am also starting to feel something akin to compassion for her, and I trust that with grace I may come to see her as Jesus does. A child the Father longs to hold to his heart, to give the love her earthly parents have failed to give. After that I will be hopefully be able to begin working on forgiving the parents...

No commission, authority or court of justice can undo the past, help people to heal the wounds that our tainted history, crime, racial intolerance, injustice etc. has caused. But if we are reconciled to God - would not this ministry slowly but surely seep balm into those painful places? I believe it would. A good place to start from is my own knees. Will you join me?

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4).