Miracles and Medicine: Is it one or the other?

Miracles and Medicine: Is it one or the other?

Miracles and Medicine

Is it one or the other?
André Kruger

André Kruger

Pastor of Shofar East London

I recently spoke to a Christian man who has been visiting our church for a month or two. He told me that he was blown away by the faith he experienced with us, that we would believe God to heal people miraculously in our church services. He shared with me that he has a church background, but that he has never experienced anything like this. I was encouraged by his testimony, for Christians are also called “believers” for a reason. We should believe! It sometimes leads to a misunderstanding when people hear that we expect God to heal individuals miraculously. They sometimes think that this means we reject the medical field and the healing that can come through the help of medical professionals – which is far from the truth.

We love medical professionals. We love what they do and the sacrifices they make to help hurting people. Their careers are often a calling, something that they do at great cost to themselves. Their role will always be important, and they have been given talents and skills by God to help people. We celebrate that. The human body is an incredibly complex biological machine that was created by God with profound self-healing capabilities. Medical professionals don’t heal people, they simply assist the body’s self-healing processes, created and placed there by God, so that the body and mind of the individual can be healthy. These are natural methods which help the body heal naturally. There are limits to what can be done by physical means. When practical medical care is not available (as in many places) or is unable to help the body recover sufficiently, then supernatural means are needed. Supernatural intervention is also God’s way of revealing the love of God to someone and pointing them to Jesus. Every miracle is a sign that points to Jesus.

We are not promoting supernatural physical healing at the expense of the medical profession. We believe there is a powerful partnership between the two. The nurse who reveals the love of Christ to a sick person by being kind and caring points the patient to Jesus and brings glory to God. It’s not a second-rate healing when someone was blind, but now after surgery has their sight restored. To the patient, it is a precious gift and as good as a miracle from heaven. It’s also a great honour for the surgeon to use his natural God-given skills and the laws of biology to help the patient in such a beautiful way. God created the natural world and uses the natural processes and laws of this world to help people. God is also a supernatural being able to transcend the physical laws so that people can discover who He is and how much He loves them. Jesus died for every human being, from the least to the greatest. Every person is infinitely valuable to God and deserves the best love and care we can give them. We believe that God the Holy Spirit wants to help the medical professional through supernatural wisdom, insight and know-how, to provide the best possible medical care. We encourage every professional to ask for God’s leading, to maximise their natural skills and abilities to help hurting people. As believers, we are called to follow Jesus and to live as He lived. To serve people with practical service, as Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, and with supernatural ministry by healing the sick as His disciples did.

Whether it be by natural means or supernatural means, let’s bring glory to Jesus.

 

Taken from www.heavensflow.org

When Intimacy Hurts

When Intimacy Hurts

When Intimacy Hurts

Ross van Niekerk

Ross van Niekerk

Pastor of Shofar Durbanville

Recent studies show an alarming increase in “sexless marriages” – in fact, The Times reported that more than 21 000 people search for help on this monthly via Google, outnumbering searches such as “unhappy marriage” and “loveless marriage”. The phrase “sexless marriage” refers to couples having sex less than once a month.

But who cares?  A survey by psychotherapist Abby Rodman says 75% of those couples do! They had healthy sexual relationships, but claim that having children, stress and fatigue, health reasons, or simply time, had dried up all the romantic passion.  In fact, this matters so much that half the respondents stated they would not have married their spouses had they known their married life would be sexless (Although 75% said that they would not end the marriage because of the lack of sexual intimacy).

(Not making) love hurts

Why do they feel so strongly?  Because constant sexual rejection in a marriage hurts. A lot. Reading through articles, blogs, and recalling phrases I have listened to during counselling sessions, the following statements best capture the pain of spouses in sexless marriages:

  • I feel unloved, unwanted.
  • I feel unattractive, ugly.
  • I feel hurt. I sometimes hide in the bathroom and cry.
  • I feel so ashamed – what about me is so despicable?
  • I feel angry and cheated because I explained my desires, yet he/she ignores my pleas.
  • I feel ignored, my needs and desires are simply not important to my spouse.
  • I feel so worthless because he/she has time and energy for everything else but not me.
  • I feel so alone. I lie next to him/her in bed and yet feel so far away.

Sexual rejection by a spouse hurts so much because it denies the means and expression of intimacy reserved exclusively for each other.  Especially in relationships where there was at some point much sexual arousal, the onset of habitual sexual rejection communicates not just “I don’t want sex”, but rather, “I don’t want you.”  Simply put, long-term sexual denial feels like rejection of the person.

 

Something’s gotta give

Marriage by definition is companionship, a means to obtain intimacy. When sexual relations within marriage are rejected over a long period, it not only impedes the relationship, but also has devastating effects on the identity and emotional health of the rejected partner. The following statements give good insight into the effects of such long-term sexual rejection:

  • I feel so disconnected from my spouse. We live like house-mates; nothing more.
  • I find myself to be very irritable; small things make me act out in anger.
  • I have lost confidence – not just at home. I am not the strong man/woman I used to be.
  • I feel resentful; my heart is really hard towards my spouse.
  • I feel attracted to the attention of others; the rejection has made me vulnerable to emotional and physical affairs.
  • I have grown tired of being rejected so I have stopped making efforts for the relationship.
  • I am very suspicious – I hate admitting this but I think my spouse is interested in or in a relationship with someone else. 
  • I am so depressed; the one person that I love does not want me.
  • I have suppressed every sexual desire, because not feeling anything is less painful than being rejected.
  • I am addicted to porn and masturbation. I know it is wrong but I can’t stop it (and I honestly don’t care anymore).
  • don’t have hope for our marriage anymore. Things will always be this cold between us.

These phrases capture much pain. Looking at the two lists of statements above I feel so much sympathy for anyone in a sexless marriage. And I understand why Paul would write so strongly about not denying your spouse sexually intimacy (1 Corinthians 7:3-7).  Yet every marriage goes through ups and downs, and therefore the challenge of married life is to continue “cleaving to your [spouse]”, to remain “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Never stop pursuing intimacy with your spouse!

 

Helpful, hurting, and hopeful

Over the years I have noticed three general responses of people suffering from long-term sexual rejection. The first group harbours anger, visible in hostility and frustration – typically accusation.  It is as though these people subconsciously want to hurt their spouses so that they share in their pain of rejection. This is not helpful. Anger and hostility hinder any form of intimacy, which requires safe space to open up. So this response pushes the couple further apart.

The second group has become passive, apathetic. Escaping the torment of perpetual rejection, they have given up on any hope for intimacy and have suffocated their own desires for intimacy. Marriage has become a cold, platonic friendship. This is indeed a very lonely place – especially within marriage. This is not necessary: there is hope!

The third group has embraced vulnerability to allow for intimacy, enduring the hurtful rejection towards the other’s heart. It simply means to forgive the other in order to not close one’s own heart.  They strive for connection beyond fear. These spouses talk about their hurts – but with open hearts – and intentionally create an environment of affection, warmth and encouragement.  They never lose hope that they will regain the romance and intimacy which they once enjoyed.  And they see the fruit.  Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).

To the rejecting spouse, I don’t think I need to write any further advice, except that you ask your partner whether he or she feels the same as any of the statements recorded above, and then strive to understand his/her needs for intimacy. Then share your feelings so as to identify the barriers to intimacy, whatever they may be, and seek help as a couple. Do it today!

My counsel to you, the rejected spouse, is take courage, and embrace vulnerability to graciously and patiently explain your feelings to your spouse. But do so in gentleness and love, not anger, and not with nagging. Express your love and attraction for him/her. Affirm your affections and approval of him/her. And with or without your spouse, seek help – your journey need not be so lonely. But never lose hope!

You alone might not be able to fix this, but nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). Ask Him to make a garden in your wilderness! (Isaiah 51:3).

Taken from www.walklikejesus.net

The Ministry vs The Workplace: Do I have to choose between a 9-to-5 job and the ministry?

The Ministry vs The Workplace: Do I have to choose between a 9-to-5 job and the ministry?

The Ministry vs The Workplace:

Do I have to choose between a 9-to-5 job and the ministry?
Ilze van der Walt

Ilze van der Walt

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “calling”? Do you also picture the missionary who sacrifices all to go and reach the unreached in the most remote parts of the world? Or maybe the pastor of a vibrant church community?

But where does it leave the rest of us? The ones with the normal 9 to 5 jobs and the families at home? Do our callings compare to those of the pastors and missionaries of whom we hear so much about? Is it possible that one’s calling from God could be to become a lawyer, accountant, or full-time mother?

I recently came across the following quote from A.W Tozer: “Let every man abide in the calling wherein he is called and his work will be as sacred as the work of the ministry. It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.” This stirred something in me as I realised that this was the answer to a question we had had in our small group a couple of weeks before. We had been talking about our callings and how they fit into our jobs, but all of us are working full time, and our different job descriptions do not include preaching or missionary work. We are a bunch of accountants, engineers, programmers, administrators, winemakers, full-time mothers, and more. So how does this calling that God placed in our hearts fit into a full-time job?

What if we have been looking at things wrongly all along? What if God had placed us in our jobs with more in mind than just giving us a place to work in order to get the salary we need. What if God placed us there with a plan – and I am not only talking about reaching those you work with – but what if the plan also includes being the best at your job? Being the one who stands out because of the quality of work you do and the way in which you do it?

I know, I know, God can speak to you while you are praying for someone or while you are preparing for small group or writing a sermon, but have you ever spoken to God while working and asked God about your job? I must admit, I have: While I was working on our year planning, trying to find a better way of managing our events. I have asked Him about the way we work and how to improve it. And He answered me. It is amazing when God starts working with you, or, perhaps I should say, when you realise that God is the Master in your area of work and He has the solutions you are looking for.  What if we could be like Bezalel? “The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, “ (Exodus 31:1-2). He was anointed to do a very specific job and that job was to make the furnishings, utensils, and clothes for the temple. This sounds like a rather ordinary job with an extraordinary purpose attached to it.

Looking at the lives of people like Joseph and Daniel, they also had ‘normal’ jobs, and because of the excellence with which they completed their tasks, God used them to change things. Here is what the Bible says about Daniel and his friends: “As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom” Daniel 1:17-20.  Look at Paul’s advice to the Colossians: “Servants, in everything obey those who are your masters on earth, not only with external service, as those who merely please people, but with sincerity of heart because of your fear of the Lord. Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve” Colossians 3:22-25 (AMP).

Let’s serve those above us as if we are serving Christ Himself, and let’s allow God to show us how we should be doing our jobs to the best of our abilities and with His wisdom and guidance. “Let every man abide in the calling wherein he is called and his work will be as sacred as the work of the ministry. It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.”

Beyond Babel Prioritising Community

Beyond Babel Prioritising Community

Beyond Babel

Prioritising Community
Dr. Theuns Jacobs

Dr. Theuns Jacobs

Pastor of Shofar Cape Town City

This blog was originally posted on christian-thoughtleadership.com. Theuns holds a doctorate in New Testament studies, and does research on the Gospels and contemporary social issues. He is a pastor at our Cape Town City congregation.

Our basic attitude towards community either pollutes or heals the experience of belonging within community. We can view community as an opportunity to something beyond itself, or value community for its own intrinsic value. When we approach community as a means to an end, we diminish our sense of belonging. When we approach community as a valued end within itself, we contribute to a greater sense of belonging.

Belonging as the essence of community

Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches Heaven. Let’s make ourselves famous so we won’t be scattered here and there across the Earth.” God came down to look over the city and the tower those people had built. God took one look and said, “One people, one language; why, this is only a first step. No telling what they’ll come up with next—they’ll stop at nothing! Come, we’ll go down and garble their speech so they won’t understand each other.”

Genesis 11:4–7 (MSG)

“God’s ultimate intention for creation is the establishment of community.”

Stanley Grenz

Isolation and loneliness are a scourge of modern existence. Much has been written on the detrimental impact of loneliness. Virtual communities are continuing to hamper actual connection. Mobile technology tries in vain to satisfy our relational needs. The more we seek community, the more it slips through our fingers. Community has fragmented into numerous solitary pieces. This fragmentation can be seen in how community is often reduced into something less.

Community may be reduced to silos. Various sectors in community separate and start operating independently. Businesses, schools, government and social services all run in their own lanes and develop their own goals. They avoid interaction with each other. Community becomes a loose consortium of independent entities jostling for its own place in the sun. Even churches are guilty of this problem. Some churches use community as a feature to attract and keep potential members with little to no intention of contributing to the larger community. In the long term that church just becomes another feature of an isolated landscape.

Community may be reduced to networks. Networks attempt to source and connect the right sort of people; those who might come in handy. Only the seemingly clever, strong and beautiful are admired and sought after. A moral crisis rages in diverse segments of society (like the patronage scandals of the political elite and the #metoo scandals among the entertainment elite) exactly because people are arbitrarily reduced to their talents and features. Objectifying people eventually leads to abuse.

Community may be reduced to fortresses: The wrong ‘sort’ of people must be kept out at all costs. Gated communities thrive. Social media algorithms embed the separation of people and ideas into society. Echo chambers rule the internet[i]. It is becoming increasingly hard to find common ground in even smaller communities. Fear becomes the driver of a cycle of isolation and communal distance. People may live in close proximity in urban centres, yet be worlds apart from anyone.

The causes of the reduction of community are numerous, but two are worth mentioning. On a cultural level, the current mantra of individualism and consumerism is devastating. Consumerism has reduced people to the exhausting pursuit of self-improvement and selfish material excess. This chase after the pot of gold mostly ends in isolation. Francis Schaeffer observed that the meaning of life in Western cultures has been reduced to the twin creeds of “Give me stuff” and “Leave me alone”. This inevitably leads to a tragic existence. On a political level, the devastation of socio-political engineering can scarcely be comprehended. In South Africa, spatial and socio-economic apartheid (which is the very essence of fractured community) continues.

In the wake of the fragmentation of community, developing an intuitive grasp of what community is, is becoming more and more important. Peter Block hits the nail on the head when he observes that community is not primarily about geography, proximity or ideology, but “about the experience of belonging. We are in community each time we find a place where we belong”. If the fragmented nature of communities is to be solved, then the experience of belonging becomes paramount. Community is where I feel like I have found my place. I am part of a larger community. It is where my neighbours become friends even though we are different and distinct. It is where the Good Samaritan is the norm and not the exception. Belonging is not finding the right sort of people in the right sort of place, but the experience of being home where I am.

Community and friendship

Before we proceed further, a word or two on the differences between friendship and community is necessary. Both friendship and community are equally important for the human experience, but friendship and community are becoming noticeably conflated. Often circles of friends label their friendship as community. My suspicion is that this is happening because we are giving up on the more difficult task of building the broader community. It is easier to see a group of agreeable and like-minded friends as my community than building common ground with neighbours who are very different from me.

The difference between (and the importance of) friendship and communities lies in two areas: Friendship is built around relational intimacy, and community is built around relational dignity. Friends know one another intimately; they share their lives. In a community, it is not possible (or even wise) to share such a level of relational knowledge with everyone. But community offers another powerful ingredient to the human experience. In a community, I belong because I am part of it. There is dignity in my existence because I am wanted and I am part of the community — even though not everyone may become my friend in the community. Furthermore, good community serves as a foundational matrix from which friendship develops. Good community is filled with the potential for making friends exactly because I am seen as part and because I want to belong.

When community falters the potential for new friendships falters with it. We become frozen in our existing friendship circles, and struggle to feel part of a community. Equally, when friendship is confused for community, we escalate the existing problem of community as silos and networks. A circle of friends becomes sharply marked and isolated from the rest of the community. Often such a circle ends in the worst possible position, as they adopt apathy toward the larger community, or even a sense of antagonism (an us-vs-them approach).

Community as a platform for gain

The story of Babel offers interesting observations of the nature and importance of community. Westermann comments that the Biblical narrative of Genesis 1–11 “always aims at explaining something that is a part of human existence, something that is always related to human existence as created existence”. The story of Babel (Gen 11:1–9) illustrates how community becomes a pragmatic tool to further a goal beyond itself. The narrative intimates that the Shinar community had great qualities of unity. Despite a strong quality of unity (they had the “same words” and possessed the potential to achieve whatever they wished), their community merely existed for selfish achievement and ambition. Community became an instrument to “make a name for themselves”.

Bonhoeffer gives an ominous warning about community and ambition. His words ring as true as they did in the previous century, when they were first penned:

He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial. God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself.

His words are startling – and somewhat strange to us. To be fair, his comments are in connection with church community, but it has wider implications. We have grown accustomed to thinking of a thriving community as a place where stuff gets done and dreams are shaped. We wish to replicate the American Dream everywhere (even though the Dream is starting to become jaded). But the Biblical injunction is that community does not exist primarily as a platform for a group (or person) to achieve their ambitions.

Make no mistake, creating and maintaining sufficient opportunities for everyone in a community to be productive in work and relationship is crucial for human flourishing. But therein lies the rub. Why is it that inevitably only some get the opportunities and others not at all? I would argue because opportunities, though important, are secondary to the intrinsic value of community itself. When community becomes merely an economic tool for personal opportunities it dehumanises us. It reduces people to handy objects to be used and discarded. It opens us up for manipulation and inequality. Goals are elevated above the well-being of people. All kinds of wrong are justified in the name of personal achievement. Community turns into empire and, in the end, empire is always evil. Even the confusion of Babel is preferable to unsmiling progress of empire.

Community as human necessity

Rather, community exists because communal relationship is more important than any notion of success and achievement. The argument for this is simple: To be human is to have community. To debase community into a utilitarian tool is to debase ourselves. From a Christian perspective, this is supported with the notion that the ultimate reality is community. Within the Trinitarian nature of God, God is in community. Community is therefore prior to creation itself. But community is also the ultimate destination of creation. The eschatological visions of the finality of God are always communal in nature (cf. Rev 4, 7, 21).

Bonhoeffer takes it one step closer, from God to us: Not only is community part of the ultimate reality of things, but it is essential to being human.

The universal person of God does not think of people as isolated individual beings, but in a natural state of communication with other human beings… God created man and woman directed to one another. God does not desire a history of individual human beings, but the history of the human community. However, God does not want a community that absorbs the individual into itself, but a community of human beings. In God’s eyes, community and individual exist in the same moment and rest in one another.

For Bonhoeffer the basic features of personhood (which he qualifies as self-consciousness and the expression of will) are only possible when a person (the ‘I’) expresses self-consciousness and will to another person (the ‘Other’). Without the ‘Other’, the ‘I’ cannot express unique self-consciousness and will. The ‘I’ can never be received. Can self-consciousness and will exist in such a state? Can we be fully person in such a state?

This sounds extremely philosophical and abstract until we realise how often this exactly plays out in our daily lives. We long to hear the ‘Other’ and to be heard by the ‘Other’. We can’t wait to express ourselves in a myriad ways and to receive expression. We call, we do instant messaging, we post on social media, we create. We are getting more desperate for the message of ‘I’ out there. This is why the experience of loneliness is so shattering. And this is why community as a tool for ambition and opportunities is so dangerous. Community itself is prior to these things. We should start valuing it as such. To demolish community is to destroy parts of our own humanity. To demolish the selfish ambitions of Babel is to restore community.

[i] “In news media, the term echo chamber is analogous to an acoustic echo chamber where sounds reverberate in a hollow enclosure. An echo chamber is a metaphorical description of a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a defined system. Inside a figurative echo chamber, official sources often go unquestioned and different or competing views are censored, disallowed, or otherwise underrepresented. The echo chamber effect reinforces a person’s own present world view, making it seem more correct and more universally accepted than it really is.” – Wikipedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echo_chamber_(media)

Sources

Block, P 2008. Community: The Structure of Belonging. San Francisco: BK.

Bonhoeffer, D 1930. Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church. Minneapolis: Fortress.

Bonhoeffer, D 1954. Life Together. London: SCM.

Grenz, S 1994. Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Schaeffer, F 1977. How now shall we live? (DVD). Gospel Films Production.

Westermann, C 1994. A Continental Commentary: Genesis 1–1. Minneapolis: Fortress.

 

 

A Wife’s Secret Ingredient – Extending the grace we have for ourselves to our husbands

A Wife’s Secret Ingredient – Extending the grace we have for ourselves to our husbands

A Wife’s Secret Ingredient

Extending the grace we have for ourselves to our husbands
Gianina van Reenen

Gianina van Reenen

We all know what social media is like. A few weeks ago, as I was scrolling through my news feed on Facebook, some posts made me laugh and others made me cringe.

The one specific post I cringed at was a meme. It read, “A real man never hurts a woman. Be very careful when you make a woman cry, because God counts her tears. The woman came out of a man’s rib, not from his feet to be walked on, and not from his head to be superior, but from his side to be equal. Under the arm to be protected, and next to the heart to be loved.”

It is not so much the meme that upset me, but the thinking behind it. Let me explain.

I became a wife two and a half years ago, and in this relatively short time I have learnt many things about my husband, but even more so about myself.

Just like any other woman, I can identify with this meme. I want my husband to make me feel loved, cherished and protected. I want him to invest his time and love into our relationship. I also want my husband to notice the long hours that I put into preparing our daily meals, decorating the house so that it feels warm and cosy, and I want him to appreciate the fact that the washing is done, and his clothes are ironed (I am grateful that my husband helps with the chores in our household, so I cannot claim to do everything here). I know that some of these needs may seem shallow, or even ridiculous, but ever since we got married I’ve become aware of my deep need to matter to him and to be affirmed by him.

I remember when my husband and I were still dating. We both had the best intentions towards each other. And since the relationship was still new, we were both sensitive towards each other’s feelings. Since there was a lot at stake, compromising was easy.

During the six months of our engagement, however, this started to change. We not only communicated our needs, but we were eager to see them met – me more so than him. And, oh boy, when we got married, we both realised how selfish we actually are.

Sometimes, I ‘walked over’ my husband, because I was too selfish and broken to communicate to him what I was feeling; I wasn’t even always sure what my feelings were or even what had caused them. At other times, I would ‘act superior’, manipulating him into doing what I wanted, or how I wanted something done – only to realise afterward what my schemes actually were. Because of my brokenness, I was unable to always be what my husband had needed me to be. In many ways, I fell short. You see, even I couldn’t uphold the standards of this meme.

I realised that I am in fact fallible: I am not always strong, not always selfless or loving or even at times easy to live with. Nevertheless, neither is my husband, and expecting him to be would be foolish.

My expectations had to be managed…

The reason why this meme upset me is because it states that, “God counts her tears”. The thinking behind this meme is admirable, but it is flawed. I am sure that whoever wrote it meant to say that men should take care of women, love them and protect them, and avoid anything that remotely resembles the opposite. Instead, it conveys this idea that real men should never hurt women. But what about us, women?

Now you need to hear me clearly. I am not saying that it is okay for someone to hurt or treat their wives (or husbands for that matter) as they see fit – the Bible is full of admonishment as to how husbands and wives should treat each other and how God will hold each of us accountable to our actions.

What I am saying is that we all are growing and being transformed into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18). But, this process is difficult and we need to allow for it in our husband’s lives as we so graciously allow for it in ours. We need to be generous in extending the grace we so easily have for ourselves to our husbands.

Being married made me realise that, even though I intend not to, I sometimes hurt my husband. So why, then, would I as someone who falls short, expect my husband to do everything I know I cannot do myself? In other words, why would I expect him to be perfect when I know I am not?

You see, my husband has the exact same needs as I do, some just look different. In the past few years, God has revealed to me what my husband’s needs are. Just like me, he desires to be loved, cherished and protected. As his wife, I get to thank him for the long hours that he works to support our family financially. He deserves to feel like the king of our house, so I do things that will make him feel special (Ephesians 5:25). When he goes through a tough season, he deserves unconditional love and support. I am the one who gets to protect his heart, no matter what.

Just like me, he goes through different seasons and experiences heartache. Just like me, he falls short.

It occurred to me that many times, we (the wives of our dear husbands) have idealistic expectations. We, indirectly, place pressure on our husbands that they cannot live up to. We will always be disappointed. They will always be discouraged. Worse still, we cannot survive this pressure either. So why do we hold this before our husbands, even though this is something that we know they can never attain to – even if it is only on a subconscious level?

God counts his tears too. And He will hold us accountable for how we care for and love our husbands.

What the past few years have taught me is that we ALL are human, and we ALL fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We all make mistakes. Everything isn’t always ‘sunshine and roses’; the Bible makes this clear too. But, having grace with each other, and allowing for these mistakes to occur and figuring out how both of us can learn from them, makes this journey worthwhile.

My husband and I are painfully aware of our shortcomings. On the other hand we are just as aware of the love that we have for each other despite our ups and downs.

We do not zoom in on one another’s shortcomings. Instead, we pray, we encourage, we love and have grace with each other. (Since I am the one writing here, I can only speak for myself, but I know the same holds true for both of us.)

Contrary to popular culture, I pray for him as often as I can. I try to pay attention when we are together, so that I can learn to love him the way that he needs to be loved; not the way I want to love him. I pray that God will teach me how to love him, and honour him as the king of our household. I try to encourage, support, and continually tell him that I believe in him. Even when circumstances look dire.

I do not partner with the Accuser, who accuses him before God, day and night (Revelation 12:10). I try to focus on building him up and reminding him of God’s truth. Because of the blood of Christ, he is worthy and deserves to be loved (although I’m fully aware that I will never be able to out-love God, who surely loves my husband more than I ever can).

This is how God wants to renew our minds (Romans 12:2). We need to actively resist the tide of popular culture, and be living examples of God’s love in the home, first. We need to have a reservoir of grace for each other instead of unrealistic expectations. Yes, by the grace of God we will grow. But we don’t need to make this process more difficult than it already is. We must be willing to be realistic, honest and vulnerable before each other.

The secret ingredient is grace.

Dagstuk deur Heinrich Titus

Dagstuk deur Heinrich Titus

Dagstuk

deur Heinrich Titus
Ps. Heinrich Titus

Ps. Heinrich Titus

Liewe vriende,

Ons kom aan die einde van nog ’n jaar wat verbygesnel het teen ’n verbysterende spoed. Ek wil vir ieder en elk dankie sê vir jul onvermoeide toewyding om vir ons as kerkfamilie te bid tydens hierdie oorgangsjaar.

Laat my toe om ’n stukkie van my pad met jou te deel.

Aan die begin van die jaar het ek ’n voetbesering opgedoen terwyl ek gedraf het, waarnaas ek gedoen het wat ek geweet reg is – ek het my voet laat rus. Teen hierdie tyd het ek geleer dat dit nie ’n slim idee is om net deur die pyn te hardloop nie, want deur die pyn te ignoreer vir ’n tyd, betaal mens later ’n groter prys. Dus het ek my voet laat rus vir ’n week. Die week het ’n maand geword, en ’n maand het nege maande geword sonder dat die pyn weggegaan het. Dit blyk toe dat ek die omvang van die besering onderskat het, en behalwe dat as ek iets verander, gaan ek geen vordering maak nie.

En so maak die maanstewel (moonboot) en krukke toe hulle verskyning (wat ek eintlik veronderstel was om te dra tydens Convergence en ons jaarlikse pastore konferensie) en my hele lewe verander. Nie in ’n groot mate nie, maar bietjie-vir-bietjie. Ek het toe mense nodig om my te help om deure oop te maak by restaurante en winkels, ek moes twee maal dink voordat ek enigsins êrens gaan, en moes selfs die idee om op te staan vir ’n koppie tee heroorweeg (om nie eens te praat van die gevolglike uitstappie na die toilet na die tyd nie).

Na baie gebed en selfs mense wat vir my hande opgelê het, moes ek berus by die feit dat God my voet via die stadige roete wou genees, en het ek die les en seisoen wat vervat was binne-in dit, verwelkom.

Eerstens, ek moes besef dat ek dinge moes stadiger vat – om agter elke afspraak en elke bedieningsgeleentheid aan te hardloop sou my nie noodwendig meer effektief maak nie, nog minder sou dit volhoubaar wees op die lange duur. Tweedens, ek het tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat ek nie altyd in die beste posisie is om die toestand van my lewe akkuraat te bepaal nie. Ek het ander mense nodig om my te help hiermee, en ek het ander mense nodig om my te help loop in die regte rigting op die regte manier. Verder het ek tot die besef gekom dat om slegs ’n breek te neem, alhoewel dit goed is, dit nie altyd goed genoeg is nie. Soms het mens spesifieke, gefokusde intervensie en rehabilitasie nodig om jou te help om die manier hoe mens dinge doen, te verander. Anders, afgesien van goeie bedoelinge, sal mens die heeltyd dieselfde resultate kry.

Meer as enige iets anders, het my ervaringswêreld oopgegaan vir mense met gebreke (of ongeskikthede) in ’n diepgaande manier (alhoewel ek nie eens kan begin dink dat ek heeltemal verstaan wat meeste van hulle moet deurgaan nie). Ek het begin besef hoe ons as beweging in die algemeen, meer ingestel is om saam met die sterkes en vinniges te hardloop – dié wat geleerd genoeg is, gemotiveerd genoeg is, begaafd genoeg is, charismaties genoeg is, en dié wie die regte leierseienskappe toon – en dat ons ons gereeld, maar meestal nie met opset, die res wat nie kan byhou, agterlaat.

My hartsoortuiging bly dat die Here Jesus Christus aanbidders voorberei wat die Vader in Gees en in waarheid sal aanbid. Ek word weer herinner aan die woorde van John Andrews tydens Convergence: God kan nie die persoon verander wat ek voorgee om te wees nie; slegs die persoon wat ek is.

Deel van die roeping vir dié wat vashou aan God en sy beloftes, is om die weg voor te berei vir die Koning van alle konings. En die Koning kom om ’n eerlike gesprek met ons te hê. Ek glo dat as ons dit dié maal met ope arms aanpak, ons nie net met sy liefde sal in kontak kom nie, maar ook Sy begrip van ons menslikheid. Christus as die Hoë Priester treë tans in vir ons, en kan dit doen, want Hy verstaan ons – Hy het selfs in ons skoene geloop.

Want ons het nie ’n hoëpriester wat nie met ons swakhede medelye kan hê nie, maar een wat in alle opsigte versoek is net soos ons, maar sonder sonde. Laat ons dan met vrymoedigheid na die troon van die genade gaan, sodat ons barmhartigheid kan verkry en genade vind om op die regte tyd gehelp te word. Hebreërs 4:15-16 OV

Wie is dit wat veroordeel? Christus is dit wat gesterf het, ja, meer nog, wat ook opgewek is, wat ook aan die regterhand van God is, wat ook vir ons intree. Romeine 8:34 OV

’n Pad van selfontdekking, alhoewel dit soms pynlik is, is nooit verniet indien dit gedoen word onder die liefdevolle en nie-veroordelende leiding van die Vader nie.

Ek het onlangs met sommige van ons leiers gedeel dat ek ervaar die Heilige Gees roep ons om onsself te posisioneer op dieselfde wyse wat Habakuk gedoen het, en ek bid dat, maak nie saak waar ons onsself bevind hierdie tyd van die jaar nie, ons sal tyd maak om dieselfde te doen:

Ek wil op my uitkyktoring gaan staan, my plek op die vestingmuur gaan inneem, ek wil wag om te verneem wat die Here vir my sal sê en wat ek moet antwoord wanneer mense my verwyt. Habakuk 2:1 NV

God het vroeër vanjaar met ons as kerkfamilie gesels en vir ons opdrag gee om oor te gaan na “die ander kant”; om die bekende oewers van dit waaraan ons gewoond is agter te laat, en om Hom te vertrou om ons te lei. Ek wil vir elkeen wat die stap van geloof geneem het om saam met ons op hierdie reis te vertrek, bedank. Dit het ons uitgedaag op maniere wat geen persoon ooit kon dink moontlik is nie, en het van ons geverg om in Hom te vertrou soos nog nooit van te vore (Markus 4 en Markus 5).

Ek is oortuig daarvan dat God het net soveel belangstelling in dit wat in ons harte aan die gebeur is tydens die reis, as net ons wat oorbeweeg na “die ander kant”. Ek wil elkeen van ons bemoedig om hierdie tyd van die jaar te gebruik om na te dink (te “reflekteer”) oor dit wat uit ons harte gekom het tydens hierdie reis vanaf die begin van die jaar tot en met waar ons onsself nou bevind. Daar is ’n paar vrae wat ek myself gereeld afvra, en ek het in my hart onderneem om myself te posisioneer teen die muur van gebedsoorweging sodat die Heilige Gees met my kan gesels en my kan reghelp waar dit nodig is. Jy mag dalk jou eie vrae hê, maar hier deel ek myne met jou (net die vrae; die antwoorde is tussen my en God, vir nou), in die hoop dat dit jou sal stimuleer om ook jou pas te verminder en om met die Een om te gaan wat ons beter ken as onsself:

  1. Waar is ek verhouding gewys in terme van God? Het my vertroue in hom gegroei, of is daar teleurstelling wat nog rond draal wat die potensiaal het om my geloof in God te potjie? Het my aanbidding meer opreg (outentiek) geword as dieselfde tyd verlede jaar, of gaan ek maar net deur die normale bewegings terwyl ek “by kerk” is op Sondae?
  2. Waar is ek verhouding gewys in terme van die mense naaste aan my? Het ek nader gegroei aan die mees belangrike mense in my lewe, of is daar gedeeltes waar ek teleurstelling, pyn, onvergifnis, bitterheid of ongevoeligheid toegelaat het om afstand tussen ons te skep? Wanneer ek sê dat ek my vrou en kinders lief het meer as enige iets anders, sal hulle hul ervaring van dit kan bevestig?
  3. Waar is ek in terme van my roeping om meer soos Christus te word? Dink, klink en doen ek ’n klein bietjie meer soos Christus as toe ek dit begin doen het vroeër vanjaar? Breek my hart vir die dinge wat die Here se hart breek, of gaan ek net deur die normale dinge? Het ek my kruis opgeneem en gesterf tot die goed wat kosbaar is vir my, of poog ek daarin om myself te verdedig, te baklei vir dit wat myne is, en te bly in my gemaksone?
  4. Wat sien ek werklik? Het ek hoop in die feit dat God getrou is om my, my familie, ons kerk en ons nasie se Herder te wees, en te lei in Sy doelwitte vir ons, of het ek sinies geword?
  5. Wat kom uit my mond? Die woorde van my mond reflekteer die toestand van my hart. Wat ek oor praat (of wat ek sê) terwyl niemand anders in die rondte is om te hoor nie, sê meer van my as die woorde wat ek spreek vanaf die kansel.

My voet is nogsteeds nie heeltemal gesond nie, en ek vermoed dieselfde kan gesê word van dele van my geestelike lewe. Wat ek nou meer as ooit van te vore begin verstaan het, is dat dit aanvaarbaar is om hier te wees. Dit maak nie God minder God nie, en dit maak my nie minder Sy seun nie. Ek het begin verstaan dat Sy genade is werklik meer as genoeg vir die wat weet hulle het genesing nodig, dat Sy krag oorneem wanneer ons eie krag onsself in die steek laat, dat Sy liefde vloei wanneer ons harte seerkry, dat Sy stem praat wanneer die klank van ons eie redenering ophou, dat Sy bemoediging vermenigvuldig waar dit wat ons glo plek maak vir deernis, dat Sy mag bevry waar die vlees niks het in om trots in te wees nie, en dat Sy teenwoordigheid neerreën op die wat dors is.

My gebed is dat jy jou plek op die muur sal vind as ’n tyd van verkwikking, opwakkering van vreugde en nederigheid, alhoewel oortuigende herposisionering, soos wat jy na die Een kyk wat alleen getrou en waardig is van ons volslae vertroue.

Weet dat jy geliefd is,
Heinrich en Nikki

Translate »
Accessibility