Friday, December 29, 2006

The Shadow of Death 2: My Brother

Precious Saints !!!!

So there I was relaxing on a Thursday evening looking forward to going on leave in a weeks time. When the death part of life suddenly happened to me. My brothers wife Libby phoned me at about 9.30pm from Johannesburg and calmly told me that my brother Clive had had a heart attack and passed away at 'bout 11am that morning, he was 54. Talk about being hit in the guts. I didn't know what to do or how to feel. While listening in disbelief, I cried, felt empty, shocked, numb, angry, dazed, confused you name it I felt it.

While listening to Libby, God's Spirit inside me just convicted me so deeply to go up to Johannesburg for the service and to spend some time with my brothers family. To be honest with you all I did not really want to go, I mean my brother and I were not even close, I don't really think anyone really expected it of me to go. It would be so much easier just to stay put here in Cape Town send my condolences along with flowers and a card. God just said to me you go, you are my mercy, you are my grace, you are my love. I still didn't really want to go it would just hurt too much.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Shadow of Death

Precious Saints !!!

Isn't it amazing that although we live with death every day of our life, we go to great lengths to avoid this fact. Mebbe we figure if we don't mention it or talk about it then it won't happen to us or to our loved ones. I mean nobody really wants to die do they? Well imagine going to a party and discussing whether you would prefer to be buried or cremated and/or sharing your self written eulogy with whoever cared to listen. Just think if you will, going around and reminding everyone that they might not see the sun coming up tomorrow. I somehow don't think you would be the life and soul of the party eh! Just think, going shopping for something to die in. Man that is just too droll and macabre to even imagine.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Street Evangelism (5)

Phew another year gone past! A friend of mine at work said the older you get the faster time flies. Sometimes it certainly feels that way.
You know when I started working in partnership with God I use to think like I was kinda doing Him some sort of favour. You know a lot of you out there kinda think this way. It took me a while to realise that God does not need me but He wants me. He wants me to be part of His great work of salvation by His grace alone and man (lets mebbe use person to be politically correct…..naw) that is pretty mind blowing!
Why He wants me is ‘cause He wants to bless me by using me to bless others and what an incredible blessing that is.
I remember one night before we started out on the street. We prayed for the evening while sitting in the car. I felt so tired, flat and frustrated. I openly asked God for forgiveness and told Him exactly how I felt but that I would try my best with His help to be true to His will. Well that night was such a wonderful blessing. When we arrived at the Goodwood police station, our last stop for the evening, we always invite the policemen and policewomen to join us in prayer. Normally we get about three or four to join us. But that night just about everyone on the shift joined us. We had about sixteen or seventeen policemen and policewomen joining us in prayer. God the father just touched my heart in such a special way that night.
There are so many memories of this past year. One of our group one night said that we could actually be bringing God’s last offer of salvation to someone. That was a pretty sobering thought.
You know God is in the detail He controls the universe and all that is in it, right down to the particles that are smaller than an atom. I like to borrow something from the mathematicians here and their chaos theory. Within their chaos theory there is something called the butterfly effect. The meaning of this is that just one flap of a butterflies wings can change the whole course of world history. Well we pray when we go out on Friday nights that just a couple of pieces of paper will open peoples’ hearts to the awesome, incredible and saving grace of God, which is found in Jesus Christ. God the Father is just waiting and wanting to adopt more children into His family.
I wrote this little piece/thing/thought below which kinda sums up a whole whack of feelings that well up within me when I work in partnership with God.

On The Road

Black tar under bright lights
Cars rushing by
People brushing past
Danger and desperation
Around ever corner
Oh when I look into your eyes
I see the brokenness of your heart
Your mouth is smiling
And you are saying ‘happy’ words
But the smile doesn’t make it to your eyes
Oh please, please just open up your heart
And let Jesus in
He will take your broken heart and make it whole
He will help you carry your heavy load
He will give you all the love you can hold
You will live with Him in eternity
All your dreams will come true
Far beyond what you can imagine
Oh please, please as I silently pray for you
Just open up your heart
And let Jesus in
As I walk away again
I feel your pain
I feel your loss
You have kept your heart closed
And not let Jesus in
Fear and pride have won again
And my heart just breaks for you
I can only walk by faith
Try my best to do my Fathers will
My desire is to see you in heaven one day
Worshipping God with me
So I pray please, please Jesus
Help me, use me to help open up their hearts
To You

LoCTY !!!!!!(=Love of Christ To You)

Friday, August 4, 2006

The Father Heart of God

Precious Saints !!!!

I most times dunno how to convey how God 'speaks' to me. Sat on the bus next to a young guy (18) the other day and he was so excited as to how God has been speaking to him through scripture. You know I can imagine the looks and comments I will get when I tell some people that God speaks to me...."Really, have you been eating too much green cheese lately......Okay buddy who's your dealer? That must be some really serious stuff you're sniffing...... er what did you say your name was, Napoleon!"

So last night Allie went out with her sister and daughter to movies leaving me at home with Matthew. We had a blast! We watched a recording of Heartlines while we ate, this just happened to be about a father who runs away from home 'cause he lost his job and could not bear to tell his family. Then we played 'cars', car playing was interrupted from time to time by kung-poo (our version of kung-foo, which really stinks!) and telling really corny jokes. Man we were rolling on the floor doubled up in laughter. Then we went to bed (parents bed) and I read Mattie a story. When I'd read a bit to him he went to his own bed and I tucked him in and he asked me to pray for him. I prayed out loud and just thanked God for giving us our son and the time spent together and for His son Jesus who gave His life for us so that we could be with the Father and Son for eternity. Wow (heart bursting moment)talk about being in the classroom of the King.....

So yes God has been speaking to my heart (deep,deep down) and spirit about his father heart.God teaches me so much through the children (they are really His) that he has put in my life, to bless me. What have I done to deserve it, nothing really, its all His grace. Adam and Lisa are way adults now, making their own choices in life. You know when things are rocky and life just kinda is not going well you can always reach out to God and he will steady your ship and correct your course because He is your daddy.

I don't think there is a single one of us out there who have not been affected by our fathers. The good ones, the bad ones, the indifferent ones, absent ones, the ones who have died......and so many descriptions you can put in there for your fathers. One of the biggest obstacles for us humans with regards to a relationship with God is how our relationship with our father's are or have been.

I wish I could so easily say that I'm such a good father but often I'm not. I really mess up some times and I constantly need forgiveness all round.

At one stage in my life I really thought I'd blown any chance I'd have of fathering a child but God provided me with a chance. Allie so wanted us to have a child together and we were so happy when she became pregnant but then after 10 weeks she miscarried and we were devastated, we had named him(Allie was sure he was a boy) Daniel, I know now we'll meet him in heaven one day. We weren't Christians then so we did not take our grief to God, I just took my doubt and anger to Him. A couple of months later Allie became pregnant again and this time 9 months later on the exact due date Matthew was born.

There are so many nights when I'm the only one awake in our household and all I can do is look with wonder and awe at the family that God has given me. It's a good time to talk to God and just humbly thank Him, also just to ask for His grace, mercy and love for those of our family sleeping inside our house and those sleeping outside under another roof somewhere.

You know no matter what we like to say, think or do, we know that deep within us is a need to be deeply and unconditionally loved by a loving father, only God truly and fully satisfies that.

Yet some people accepted him and put their faith in him. So he gave them the right to be the children of God. They were not God's children by nature or because of any human desires. God himself was the one who made them his children. (John 1:12&13)
God's Spirit doesn't make us slaves who are afraid of him. Instead, we become his children and call him our abba (daddy) Father.God's Spirit makes us sure that we are his children. (Romans 8:15&16)

You Never Let Go (Matt Redman)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back
I know You are near
And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We’ll live to know You here on the earth


Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You

LoCTY !!!!!!

PS And now I'm just gonna go and cry somewhere.........

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Unfailing Love

Precious Saints !!!!

Yes I know it's been awhile, the world at work has been doing a Romans 12:2 on me trying to squeeze me into it's mold but God is constantly and lovingly at work.

So this weekend past I'm up for soup kitchen duty, you know, compassion ministry and all that stuff. Well I had a rather frustrating time leading up to the evening at soup kitchen and by the time I got there I felt about as compassionate as a dry twig. I was handing out some booklets to the people in the queue for soup when something inside me asked the question, "Why are you not shaking their hands tonight and asking them how they are doing?" Just then to make matters worse(for me that is) I bumped (literally) into one of the 'hard' men of the soup kitchen causing him to spill some soup.

Oh Lord and this too....this is all I need. I was expecting him to have a thousand nasty words to say. Bite your tongue Raymond, you must forgive, forgive, forgive(70x7). He just stood and looked at me and then started crying and started asking me why does he continue to do the wrong things when God has paid such a high price for him, the blood of Christ has been shed for him. He started to tell me about the father heart of God (all in Afrikaans) and words just failed me as I humbly listened with my hand on his shoulder and felt his desperate pain. I didn't say much just asked his name(Gerhard) said a short prayer for him and encouraged him to eat his soup. Walked away just kinda stunned, was I there for him or was he there for me.......?

Then come Sunday night, Allie and myself and a handful of us go with Ronnie and Hazel to a healing evening at the Atlantis Methodist Church. We formed part of the ministry team and I'm so humbled by the people there who live in a community torn apart by poverty, crime, drugs and physical abuse. It seemed like the whole church got up when the call came for healing and all protocol and false pride fell by the way and we just ministered not in our own strength but in His. Again just feeling kinda stunned afterwards.

I'm amazed that God uses me and you(just be available,obedient, merciful and loving) to show His unfailing love. Often I think how could he want to use me to be His hands, feet, lips, ears, heart....... Does He really, really know me and all the things I hide deep down within me? The astonishing answer is yes He knows me better than I know myself and He wants to bless me(and you) by using me(and you). So I kinda got this song in my body, soul and spirit at the moment which I'll share with you.

1Corinthians 13:8 Love never fails!
Psalm 136:26 Praise God in heaven! God's love never fails

Artist: Chris Tomlin Song: Unfailing love
Album: Arriving

You have my heart
And I am Yours forever
You are my strength
God of grace and power
And everything
You hold in Your hand
Still You make time for me
I can’t understand

Praise You God of Earth and sky
How beautiful is Your unfailing love
Unfailing love
And You never change
God You remain
The Holy One and my unfailing love
Unfailing love

You are my rock
The One I hold on to
You are my song
And I sing for You
And everything You hold in Your hand
Still You make time for me I can’t understand

Praise You God of Earth and sky
How beautiful is Your unfailing love
Unfailing love
And You never change
God You remain The Holy One and my Unfailing love
Unfailing love
And everything You hold in Your hand
Still you make time for me I can’t understand

Praise You God of Earth and sky
How beautiful is Your unfailing love
Unfailing love
And You never change God You remain
The Holy One and my Unfailing love
Unfailing love
I will praise You

Praise you God of earth and sky
How beautiful is your unfailing love
Unfailing love
And You never change
God You remain The Holy One and my Unfailing love
Unfailing love
Unfailing love
Unfailing love
Unfailing love
Unfailing love

LoCTY !!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Healing Rain

Precious Saints !!!!!!

This weekend past the Goodwood Roman Catholics, Goodwood Methodists and Ravensmead Methodists shared an Alpha weekend together at the Manyano Centre in Paarl. That's the bare factual bones of the matter. What really happened on this weekend I don't think I'll ever really be able to convey fully with words but I'll give it my best shot in order to share with you and give God all the glory.

In preparation for the weekend, we prayed, we fasted, we sacrificed of ourselves, we wept for the broken hearted and we asked God by the power of His Holy Spirit to come and save, heal, restore and make His people whole. And we serve such a faithful and true God that He came and did just that which we asked of Him. Not because we deserved any of it, not because of who we are but because He loves us and has faith in us and that He works in us and through us despite who we are and what we do. The more I experience the grace of God the more I'm just totally blown away by who He is and how He works and His deep love and generosity.

There may have been two 'different' denominations on the weekend but His Holy Spirit united us as one. This weekend God told us through His Spirit that we are His adopted sons and daughters heirs to the throne of the king because we come to Him in the name of His one and only son Jesus Christ and that His one and only son bought each of us with His very own blood. We are Princes and Princesses and not even death can take that away. So we saw the truth, power and beauty of the Gospel of Salvation unfold before our very eyes this weekend and it was breathe taking.

You know when you pray and minister to someone by the power of His Holy Spirit, it is such an intimate moment, you almost feel like you are intruding and should not be there. But God wants you there and sometimes the person you are ministering to is so broken, crying, sobbing, nose running and by fleshly/human standards looks quite a mess (snot en trane) but for me I've never ever witnessed anything so beautiful as when God starts healing a person from the inside out. It's just so WOW (Walking on Water, time)

For me personally I was just feeling that God was not really gonna make much use of me this weekend. You know that kinda feeling,"Oh yeah, been there done that, seen it all before," but you see God never quite works that way, He is an eternal God who, if you make yourself available and try your best to be obedient, will use you far beyond what you can imagine or dream of. So this weekend for me was full of the presence of Him in my life, in the big things and the small things.

I'll share with you just a coupla memories from the weekend.

I almost forgot to take a mug/cup with so just before I left on Friday I quickly grabbed Matthews "Incredibles" mug. My leg was lovingly pulled the whole weekend about my "incredible" mug, however there were very few people who actually brought their own mugs so super hero mug was used quite often. Phew was it hot in Paarl, a blistering 37 degrees on Saturday, we swam in the pool and then had cold showers afterwards to cool off from swimming. We had our fair share of echo and respond snorers that really rattled the floorboards. Of course some people just never slept, like motor mouth Peter K who talked up a storm from Friday night to Saturday morning. Alistair F coming down the passage absolutely drenched in sweat after he had just played his heart out for us for a solid hour, on the drums, the worship team always bless us soooo much. Showering by candle light due to the power failures, hey watch out for the falling wax, oh ja and the Florence Nightingales who walked up and down the passages. Ernest's jokes about the Cathys. The Saturday evening Holy Spirit ministry, jokes fun and laughter on Sunday morning. Sharing on Sunday morning what God actually did for His beloved people. And of course the tears and brokenness healed by the power of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. Fred W's mind blowing vision of seeing four angels protecting Manyano Centre and Jesus coming through the wall, while we worshipped, opening His arms and saying, "I am pleased."So much more, I'm sure everyone there could write a book about their experiences. On the way home, the four of us in the car just praying for each other and our spouses and children and thanking and praising God for His love grace and mercy. The celebration service at Goodwood Meth in the evening.

While we where having tea/coffee on Sunday morning before breakfast, the rain suddenly came down and it reminded me of Michael W Smiths video for his song Healing Rain, where the healing power of God's Spirit is depicted like this special kind of rain and what you had to kinda do was step out in faith and get wet and then you would feel the healing power of God's love. We saw that healing rain first hand this past weekend.

When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures.The scroll containing the messages of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him, and he unrolled the scroll to the place where it says:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,that the blind will see,that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors,and that the time of the Lord's favour has come."
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. Everyone in the synagogue stared at him intently.Then he said, "This Scripture has come true today before your very eyes!" (Luke 4:16-21, Jesus reading from Isaiah 61:1 & 2, words written approx 700+ years before his birth on earth. )

Here is one of the songs we did on the weekend

King of Majesty Live - Hillsong & Delirious?

You know that I love you
You know that I want to
Know you so much more
More than I have before
These words are from my heart
These words are not made up
I will live for you
I am devoted to you
King of Majesty, I have one desire
Just to be with you my lord
Just to be with you my lord
Jesus you are the saviour of my soul
And forever and ever I'll give my praises to you

LoCTY !!!!

PS The Apps music duo please pass on to the rest of the Alpha worship team.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

My Father Who Was On Earth

Precious Saints !!!!!

Last week was pretty quiet at work, most of the people were away on holiday and those that had pitched seemed pretty much in a holiday mood. Our mainframe systems were down. So I'm just catching up on reading a few emails. There was this one devotion about missing loved ones over the festive season. When out of nowhere without warning there came this tremendous pain of loss for my dad. I just hurt so bad and I cried and cried and just missed him soooo much, I wished that I actually had got to know him a lot better while he was alive.

A whole stack of memories just came flooding back, some good, some bad. Sitting by the window when I was a little boy waiting for his car to come around the corner on Friday nights. He would be away from home the whole week working at such exotic places like Stompneesbaai, Piketberg, Grabouw and Bredarsdorp. Then I would run down and open the big back gate so he could pull his car in. He'd be dog tired and would pay me to "iron out" the creases on his forehead as he sat down and relaxed on the couch. The way we started having a cup of tea and biscuits together in the evenings (I was a teenager then)and he would tell me very entertaining and amusing stories about his day at work. He'd changed jobs by then so I at least got to see him a bit more. How he was always around to help out his klutzy son, who couldn't knock together two pieces of wood. That was after I got married. Fixing up and helping me buy my first car, a 1970 Mini for R700. Always being there for me but not really being able to show and tell me how much he loves me and I also did not know how to show and tell him of my love for him. His way of showing love was helping me out and doing stuff for me.

Then the emphysema took hold and this incredibly hard working, (I've never ever seen anybody work as hard as my dad) energetic and impatient man struggled just to dress himself and tie his shoelaces. Any visits had to be carefully planned as my mom and dad would prepare and rest before we visited. The weekend before he passed away we went to visit him and he was in bed with the flu. He asked me, "Have I been a good father?" I answered that he had been the best father that he could be. He had known for some time that he was dying and did not have much time left. I could see(and somehow feel) that he was reading his bible and really searching. I was not a Christian then and all I knew was the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Somehow I knew to leave him on his own while he searched. I could not really help him and I knew that the stuff that I knew would not help him in his search.

Then a week later on a Friday evening I got a frantic phone call from my mom. My dad had fallen off the bed and he was really struggling to breathe (he had not gotten over the flu) and she had put him on oxygen. Then came the battle to get a doctor around to them, to keep my mom calm, to organise an ambulance. By the time Allie and I got there my dad had slipped into a coma. An ambulance eventually pitched up at about 11.30pm. I got in the ambulance with my dad, he was making these horrible sounds as he struggled so desperately to breathe. All I could do was "iron out" the creases on his forehead. The ambulance took him to this run down emergency unit at Conradie hospital. Wounded criminals handcuffed to the beds, paint peeling off the ceilings, Capil asbestos heaters propped up on bricks,doctors so disinterested they hardly seemed human. There was basically nothing they could do for my dad. No matter where I walked in that emergency unit I could hear him, gasping, rasping, gulping to get air into his lungs. It was a truly haunting sound.

Saturday sometime (can't remember exactly when) I had to phone my older brother (Clive). I just remember that he had a choice of two flights from Jo'burg to Cape Town. The first one was a midnight flight and it would get him to Cape Town early hours of Sunday morning. I said he shouldn't hassle too much and take the flight that would get him to Cape Town at 10.30am(or there abouts). I was wrong! Our dad passed away at 8am that Sunday morning, he never came out of the coma. I really should have told Clive to get that earlier flight. It was really hard to tell him when we picked him up at the airport that dad had already passed away. We just went to the hospital and saw his body in the morgue. I think I ironed out his creases for the last time, can't fully remember what we did. My boet was really cut up. I'd never really seen him like that. I know we sat on the grass for a while at the hospital, can't remember what we said to each other, even if we said anything at all.

Of course there is always all the other stuff that happens when there is the death in the family and Clive was a tremendous help. Ja so dad died 11 years ago, Matthew my son is 9 years old. I know my dad would have loved him to bits. There are always those few things that I carry in relation to my dad's death. I'm getting better at letting it all go and trusting God that he is in heaven but sometimes it suddenly just all comes flooding back and then I find a place to weep in my weakness on the shoulder of Jesus Christ our Lord.

It used to be really hard for me to go to hospitals after that and its only after I became a Christian that this experience and the also the death of my mother-in-law the following year that has helped me to minister to people in hospitals, that is when (our eternal daddy)God calls me. Oh yeah that old Mazda was my dads' car, Allie named it after him; Stanley. Somebody shortly after my dads death told me that you only start growing up when your dad dies I haven't really got a comment on that one. I still just simply miss him and want to see him again, maybe have a cup of tea and chat 'bout what he's been doing.

I did not really want to put this together and send it out but somehow I've been convicted to do so. So there it is.

When this happens - when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die - then at last the scriptures will come true:

"Death is swallowed up in victory. (Isaiah 25:8)
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?" (Hosea 13:14)

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord! (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)

My Hope Is You - Third Day (Live Version)

To You, O Lord, I lift my soul
In You, O God, I place my trust
Do not let me be put to shame
Nor let my enemies triumph over me

My hope is You
Show me Your ways
Guide me in truth
In all my days
My hope is You

I am, O Lord, filled with Your love
You are, O God, my salvation
Guard my life and rescue me
My broken spirit shouts
My mended heart cries out

My hope is You.......
(Third Day 1997 taken from Psalm 25)

LoCTY !!!!!

PS Okay John I did it!

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