Use your influence!

Posted in Human trafficking with tags , , on April 12, 2012 by Charl

I have been thinking about what I could do in terms of making a difference on the theme of Human Trafficking. I came across this clip about Lewis Hine, the iconic photographer who is best known for the photograph of workers taking a lunch break on scaffolding with the New York skyline as a backdrop.
What I didn’t know was how he used his talent as a podium to make America aware of the plight of children being exploited as cheap labour.

What is your thing?

I enjoy movies. I thought it may be a good idea to approach a cinema and ask them to host a film festival showing films that hilight aspects of human trafficking. If they would donate the use of a cinema theatre, one could sell tickets and use the proceeds to support charities working in that field. So I want to invite everyone who reads this blog to propose a movie and if possible, a short description of why it should be included. Then, let’s see who we can get interested to host and who woul by a ticket to the movies proposed. Lastly, let’s have some proposals for which charities could be supported.

How could you become an influencer?

This is just one way to try and raise awareness.

Human Trafficking

Posted in Human trafficking, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 6, 2012 by Charl

I watched the movie Whistleblower last night with my teenage children. I knew the movie was about human trafficking after the conflict in Serbia, and I have always wanted my girls to be aware of sex traffickers and how this heinous crime is still, if not more so, widely occurring. I used the opportunity offered by the movie Taken, starring Liam Neeson to appeal to my teens to make it easy for me and Anina (my wife) to protect them. I purposefully try to find opportunities to remind them of this in order to encourage them to be mindful of what they do when they use social media, as so many predators actively use these media to locate potential victims.

But this movie has moved me more deeply from a position of trying to prevent it happening to my teenagers, to thinking and praying about what we can do to combat this plague on humanity more actively. I will try to share what I find as I go on, but aside from praying for the victims and perpetrators to be found and saved, physically and spiritually, I believe we need to actively be working to make society aware of the issues.

Start by watching this movie which is not entertaining, but thoroughly shocking and deeply moving. I would urge Christians to guard against cocooning ourselves from the horrors of this world in the name of holiness. ;I would warn you not to go there if you have issues with abuse. ;I would urgently request that if you indulge in pornography, that you consider that your interest creates the environment for this crime to prosper. ;I would urge you to view this movie and consider the question, “Have I supported sex traffickers?” even unknowingly.

May God help us all to be part of the solution, not part of this problem.

Message me directly on Facebook if you need prayer or advice, and I promise I’ll tr to help you as best I can.

Parable of the Princess and the Toad

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 27, 2010 by Charl

There was once a lonely princess. She knew she was a princess because – well, she just knew she was. She was lonely, sooo lonely. There was a time when she was certain a brave knight would come in shining armour on a white steed, to whisk her away to his kingdom. Over the years, she had seen quite a few knights, but they never seemed to quite fit in with that picture she had in her mind of how it ought to be. Soon, the shining armour was dropped as requirement, armour would do. After some more time passed, the steed was sacrificed for just a horse, any horse. Well, who needs a horse anyway if someone would just save her from her lonely existence.

Then one day, she heard of this princess who had found her prince who was in the guise of a frog – just needed a kiss to unmask the prince in the frog! Made perfect sense, so she started hanging out down by the pond and riverbanks, trying to unmask her prince when she was sure no-one was looking. First time was really hard as the hapless frog gazed back at her quizzically. Still, she was not to be put off, and frogs weren’t too warty at all, if you closed your eyes when you puckered your lips you could almost picture the prince. Well, after some time the frogs all knew to hop into the water when she came unless you wanted to be planted one on the face.

Eventually a toad happened along as the marsh he lived in had been laid dry by a drainage scheme for property development. The princesses’ matted hair nearly kept her from seeing him, but he was given away by the slurp of his tongue fetching in a large bluebottle fly. Her posture nearly matched his as she had learned to stoop low to find that elusive prince and her eyes had a permanent bulge from peering over the grass and reeds to see if anyone was coming. She had developed a few warts too from the close contact with amphibians, but she figured the prince wouldn’t mind, given his personal acquaintance with wartiness. She pounced on the Toad and before he knew what was happening, he was tall and handsome and kissing a toady looking girl that might have had a chance, had he still been one.

After they got over their initial shock, he went on to marry a princess he met at a charity dinner for a species of endangered frogs that the erstwhile frog princess had established after becoming an respected authority on frogs. They all lived happily ever after in the marshiest part of the kingdom.

Heaven Now 2

Posted in Uncategorized on May 30, 2010 by Charl

Last week we looked at revelations of heaven, what heaven is and how we may have access to heaven.  We looked at Jesus’ prayer to the Father on behalf of his disciples, and we revisit that today.  Jesus prayed this prayer before he went to the Garden to pray, the Thursday evening before his crucifixion the following day.

John 17:24-26 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Jesus says he wants his followers to be where he is, not will be.  Notice that even one of Jesus’ prayers is not immediately answered. They will all in fact go on to deny him in the next 24 hours, let alone even pray with him through the night!  Jesus has a perspective of things on Earth that is shaded by the eternal, heavenly reality!  This is our example too, that we may speak the things that are not as though they are!

Paul prayed similarly for the Ephesians:

Ephesians 1

18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Paul asks that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened to know God’s resurrection power toward us who believe.  It is this resurrection that Jesus was alluding to.  The problem in our experience of this power is not in the nature of the power, but the nature of our eyes!  As John Piper says, “You only appreciate the life saving medication when you know the severity of the disease it cures you from. “  When we deny the depths of our depravity, we deny the power of Jesus’ salvation wrought on the Cross.  Thank God that we aren’t even aware of the spiritual onslaught from the demonic powers Paul refers to in this passage!  They passionately, deeply and completely hate us. 1 Peter 5:8 NIV Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Yet we see that there are tests and trials that come against us.  The only explanation is that these are those that the Father allows.  And he promises that we will not be tested above our ability to withstand.  His grace truly is sufficient for us, and all thing are ultimately to the glory of his grace: Ephesians 2:6NIV And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

In that age to come, we will be marvelling at the incomparable riches of his grace while we marvel at his holiness!

1 Peter 5:10 NIV And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Application:

  • Before today,  how aware were you of God’s power working for you who believe?
  • If you don’t believe, how helpful/unhelpful has this message been in understanding the resurrection of Jesus?
  • How will you apply today’s message to your FaithWorks and the rest of your Christian walk?

Posted in Uncategorized on May 8, 2010 by Charl

Purpose of these messages, is to instil in Believers a sense of Heaven so that we may desire to bring the lost into God’s presence through our serving them.

Take a moment to consider these two questions:

  • What do you think Heaven will be like?
  • How would experiencing Heaven affect your life?

I will adress the following in this post:

  • What is Heaven?
  • How can we have access?

What is Heaven?

I used to think that heaven would be really boring, as clouds make a pretty monotonous landscape to look at for eternity, I don’t particularly like harp music and none of the stuff I liked was going to be on offer.  Yet, I had a vivid mental picture of Hell’s fires and the horror of the demons and Devil, so if I could choose, heaven would do.  But this picture also made me want to put off any firm decisions about faith for as long as possible, so that I could enjoy what was on offer in the meantime.

This is of course far from what those who have seen it describe, as does the Bible.  Look up Ian McCormack’s after death experience on YouTube as an example.

As we read Isaiah 6 we will also get a

glimpse of the throne.

It is important to realise that even in the Bible one has to discern what is being spoken about when the word heaven is mentioned.  There is the expanse or firmament between the waters as spoken of in the Creation account of Genesis 1, the description of the creation of Earth’s atmosphere.  This is the part birds and clouds occur in, then there is the cosmos defined by space and time, and finally the realm where God and the angels are found, outside of time. It is this eternal heaven we are interested in.

Isaiah 6 NIV

I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

This is how the prophet Isaiah described it.  Bearing in mind he didn’t have any CGI or other special effects experience to relate the grandeur he saw to, his brief description is still amazing and weird at the same time.   This vision is confirmed by John in the book of Revelation hundreds of years later.  I am persuaded that as these creatures sorround the throne of God, they are seeing God’s perfection and wisdom and have been doing so for ever.  The word “holy” is derived from Old English hālig; akin to Old English hāl whole, according to Merriam-Webster.  So this wholeness implies, “nothing lacking”.  This is inconceivable to us, but the glory of such perfection must be inexhaustible, so that from one instant to another a new aspect of God’s perfection is displayed for eternity, so that the only words appropriate to describe the spectacle are “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty…”

How can we have Access?

Isaiah new that no matter how good a person is, it is incomparable to the holiness of God.  That is why he was persuaded that he was ruined.  The only solution to be able to access His presence is if God reaches to us, not we to him. His response is love and compassion when he sees our condition. John 3:16 NIV “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

It is accepting God’s provision in Jesus, that allows us to become citizens of heaven!  Rejecting God the Father’s provision leaves us under sin, and God’s just nature requires sin to be punished. John 3:36 NIV Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” It is a decision made in this life!

What’s more, not only do we get to be citizens of heaven, but Jesus has more in mind.  Listen to him talking to the Father about us: John 17:24-26 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

We do not just have a God who could just have watched us from a distance, but who indentifies with us as human beings, to the point of wanting to live intimately with us!  What will our response be to God and to our fellow man?

Listening & Doing 2

Posted in Uncategorized on April 28, 2010 by Charl

We are doing the second of two parts, last week Listening and today the Doing.

I am going to briefly touch on a precedent that we looked at last week, as it is key understanding the impact of today’s section.  The precedent is that we act as incubators or wombs (yes, wombs!) for ideas or thoughts or temptation that, when they combine with desire in us bring forth sin or at best, self righteousness.  God’s righteousness results if we accept the truth of the Word in humility.

We ended last week on the thought, “ humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” It does not say it will, but it can.  Why? 

James 1: 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.

There is type of listening that is not really listening at all.  It is more like hearing.  I have often used the analogy of a boxer who is fighting and has his coach standing next to the ring shouting instructions at him.  He may hear, but in the heat of the fight find it hard to apply the instructions.  But when the round ends and the stool is kicked in under him as he falls into his corner the coach is speaking to him all the time while mopping his face and applying petroleum jelly.  It is more likely that he will act on those instructions, as they have an immediate application to his circumstances and he is able to give more consideration to them.

Many people know a lot about the Word of God as it is contained in the Bible.  But this knowledge that is only head or heard is not life changing.  The truth does not set one free! Nor does knowing it!

John 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

It is in giving expression to what we believe that we are made free.  In acting and doing according to the truth we are set free from the lie. This is what holding to Jesus’ teaching means.

But let’s return to the analogy of the Word as seed. It will bring forth according to its nature, the nature of Jesus, God.  Remember in John 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. It says in essence that Jesus is the embodiment of the Word.

So looking at the word as a mirror means to see ourselves as God is making us.  This will be completed and perfected at Christ’s return when we see face to face and are completely changed in the twinkling of an eye.  This is the freedom that is referred to in verse 25, the freedom from sin and the freedom to be who the Father intends for us to be!

Now James expands on what the freedom looks like:

26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Application:

We have drawn up FaithWorks Revolution Report Cards.  Get hold of one, look up the references for the different FaithWorks and pray that God will help you to choose at least one to do for the next week.  Please give feedback and we are going to give opportunities to share what happened!

Listening & Doing 1

Posted in Uncategorized on April 28, 2010 by Charl

We are going to do the next section in two parts, today Listening now and next week more of the doing.

James 1: 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but Slow to listen, quick to speak leads to escalation!. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

James in writing this passage is establishing a principle:  that we as humans are like incubators that incubate whatever is placed in it.  The principle is described in verse 14-15.  There is an egg, it is fertilized with seed and we incubate it until it is birthed.

We are told not to deceive ourselves, why? Because the seed determines the fruit.  Where there is bad fruit, it is because of bad seed.  We cannot and should not blame God for our sin, because he is unchangeing, so is his word.  We are born again by the seed of his word  which will always bring forth the nature of Christ in us.

So now looking at Listening and Doing:

19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

We don’t listen because we want to be heard more than we want to understand. As people try all the harder to be understood while not understanding, we get frustrated by others’ apparent unwillingness to listen and we get angry and will use it to force home our point of view, by which time sin is about to mature into death!

While anger in itself is not sin, because Jesus was angry at times yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15), anger does not in itself bring forth the righteous life that God desires.  Anger is an emotional state that can be entirely appropriate at times and entirely unhelpful at others.  In fact we often use anger to put a point of view across more forcefully!

So what’s with “all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent”?  Well, it can be like seed, and if it connects with our desires, it will bring forth sin in our lives. Paul has established that there are 2 aspects to temptation, our own fleshly/carnal desires that we respond to as well as the enticement of the world.  In this case, the carnal desire is pride.  The world is a system that functions differently and has different values.  The worldly system respects might and favours the forceful.  It is a natural progression of survival of the fittest!

When selfish pride and forcefulness combine in the shape of not listening, it brings forth anger and  it hatches self righteousness, contrary to God’s righteousness.  Know any unteachable people?

So what is the solution?

“Humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

We need humility in our hearts, added to which the implanted seed of the word of God through willingness to listen and to learn,  brings forth the ever increasing righteousness of God that saves us from sin.  Remember that humility is not thinking less of our self, but of our selves less.  It implies a readiness to listen, and to be taught.

Lastly, notice that is says it can save you, not that it will automatically do so.  Come back for more on that next week!

Application:

Which do you do more of, listen or speak?

How teachable are you?

What is the one thing that needs to change?

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