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.

Convergence 2017 A picture is worth a thousand words

Convergence 2017 A picture is worth a thousand words

Convergence 2017

A picture is worth a thousand words
Ps. Heinrich Titus

Ps. Heinrich Titus

What a joyful privilege to have been able to spend three life-changing days together with family and friends from far and wide.

Each of the sessions were life-changing for me, as well as the reality of the Lord’s sweet, prevailing presence.

The truth is, of course, that a weekend like this could never be possible without the hard and selfless work of all of our staff at the Shofar Support Centre in Franschhoek, and the countless volunteers from so many congregations who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make the experience an unforgettable one for all of us. More than any of us on stage, they are the true heroes of this story and I honour God the Father for giving us people with such incredible servant hearts.

Furthermore, Convergence 2017 did not happen in isolation but instead built upon the momentum generated during previous years. For this reason, I want to thank both Pastor Fred, who originally gave birth to this vision, as well as the apostolic leaders, speakers, staff, volunteers, and pastors who have worked so tirelessly during previous conferences in stewarding this vision to see God’s people converging. We are always, each one of us, simply a link in the chain of God’s people whom He, in His wisdom, chooses to use.

I couldn’t help but feel that this was more than a conference, it was a celebration. A celebration of God’s love and faithfulness and a reuniting with family bound together with an unbreakable bond forged in the Spirit. Nikki and I were so incredibly humbled by the outpouring of the love and support from our church family and friends. Your trust is as holy ground to us and we venture upon it with reverence, deeply aware that our feet are feet of clay.

My prayer is that Convergence 2017 will represent a watershed time of transition for all of us. And as we walk together towards God’s purpose for us individually and corporately, we look back with thankfulness at the people God has used to shape and mould us. We look around us with joy at those He has given and with whom we can share the journey. But more than anything else, our gaze is upward, for our destination is not a place, but the face of Him who has promised that He will be with us to the end of the age. And in His gaze, we see and receive the love we need to give to a world waiting with bated breath for the revelation of the sons and daughters of God.

Love,
Heinrich and Nikki

A special thank you to all our photographers who dedicated their time and resources to capture the story of Convergence 2017 – #knownforlove.  Photographers: Dean Brummer, Jean Brummer, Newton Fincham, Gabriellla Elyon, Zayne Fisher, Leandri Geldenhuys, Jolene Lochner, Michaela Moodley and Michaela Schmidt.

 

*Our Shofar Convergence global conference was held from 29 September to 1 October in Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa.

 

 

 

 

The Power of Forgiveness – Sessions from Convergence 2017

The Power of Forgiveness – Sessions from Convergence 2017

The Power of Forgiveness

Watch Now from Convergence 2017
Shofar Media

Shofar Media

How do we as Christians forgive when there’s so much injustice in our country?

Watch online as our speakers who joined us at our Convergence Shofar Conference share their thoughts and insights in these powerful sessions.
 
These sessions are also available on our shofar online YouTube channel and shofaronline.tv!

What You Need to Know About Disability in the Church

What You Need to Know About Disability in the Church

What You Need to Know About Disability in the Church

Christelle Myburgh and Toni Mould

Christelle Myburgh and Toni Mould

“According to the World Health Survey around 785 million (15.6%) persons 15 years and older live with a disability, while the Global Burden of Disease estimates a figure of around 975 million (19.4%) persons. Of these, the World Health Survey estimates that 110 million people (2.2%) have very significant difficulties in functioning, while the Global Burden of Disease estimates that 190 million (3.8%) have “severe disability” – the equivalent of disability inferred for conditions such as quadriplegia, severe depression, or blindness. …. The number of people with disabilities is growing.” (World Health Organisation’s World Report on Disability 2011)

The majority of the rest of the world seems ill-equipped to successfully interact with those who are disabled. While the restricted ones may be at ease with their disability, the able-bodied amongst us often seem uncomfortable in their presence. Why is this?

We want to believe that most able-bodied people are keen to reach out and connect with the differently-abled, and are provided the opportunity to overcome fear of the unknown and lack of knowledge concerning disabilities. We are the church. We want to embrace the disabled the same way Jesus did. We want those in our communities who are physically challenged to feel welcome and understood in our midst. We want those with mental impairments to feel loved. This is a challenging yet realistic goal. To be able to reach this goal, we should allow the experts on disability, persons with disabilities themselves, to educate us.

Toni Mould has been a member of Shofar Stellenbosch for the past 13 years. For 33 years she has lived with Cerebral Palsy due to an unnecessary brain injury sustained at birth. Her intellect is not affected. But her body is significantly affected in the areas of speech, movement and balance. She accomplishes an extraordinary life for someone with her level of physical disability. She lives unaccompanied, works a half-day job, cycles for the SA para-cycling team and operates generally independently. Toni has possibly experienced every joy and each stumbling block an actively involved church member, who happens to be disabled, could experience.

Christelle Myburgh is an able-bodied employee at Shofar Church and is a close friend to Toni. Being Toni’s friend, she often also serves as Toni’s assistant. During the past four years she has gained some firsthand experience as to the greatest difficulties that Toni faces as a disabled, active church member.

Together, they have compiled the following helpful guidelines to becoming a church in which the disabled will feel welcome and better understood.

People who are physically disabled are not necessarily mentally disabled

Do not assume that someone with a speech impediment or disabled body is mentally disabled. Assumption can lead to great error! Take time to determine whether the person is mentally cognitive. It is trying and painful for an intelligent person to be treated as if they are ignorant. Toni obtained a BA Degree in Social Work at the University of Stellenbosch. She received the Rectors Award for Succeeding Against the Odds, co-founded (together with her colleague, Candace Vermaak) an NPO called Bridging Abilities, and manages it with Candace. She is also developing as an author. Even though Toni is exceptionally bright, she is often treated as if she has no understanding at all.

Slow down, be patient!


Disabled people will naturally maintain a slower pace, since speech and/or movement is restricted. We owe it to them to slow down. Their contribution is as valuable as anybody else’s, if not of more value since most life-lessons are learned through suffering. They often possess experience in a field of expertise, or a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to be shared. To hurry on impatiently will be your own loss entirely. Do not finish their sentences for them; allow them to communicate in their own way and listen well. Plan more time for events and outings in order for the disabled person to come along and share in the joy.

Relax and learn

Step out of your comfort zone, approach disabled people, and relax around them. Allow your children to ask them about their disability (with their permission). If you do not understand their dialogue, ask them to repeat themselves. If you still do not understand, apologise politely and ask if there is a possible interpreter, or even to send you a WhatsApp/email if you really can’t understand (But then do reply to show that you have received or now understand!). Remain friendly and do not avoid them. Be real and honest. They’d rather have you figure out how to interact with them than avoiding (rejecting) them on account of your own discomfort. Like all of us they have a great need to engage and belong.

Helping without hurting

It happens from time to time that Toni falls. Well-meaning people then hastily and haphazardly pull her up by the arms, sometimes two or three people simultaneously. Toni obtains worse injuries from the “rescue operation” than the fall in the first place. There are specific ways in which one should assist people with disabilities when they fall or need assistance. Stay calm and ask the person, or the person’s friend or assistant, how to help. If this is not a possibility, then ask a nurse/occupational therapist/knowledgeable person who might be nearby. If all else fails, work calmly and carefully to avoid further injury. Avoid touching or playing with assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches or guide dogs. They are there to help the person, not objects of amusement.

Be careful what you pray for

Never assume that people with disabilities inevitably desire prayer for “healing”. They are not “sick”, they are disabled or differently-abled. Like the rest of us they are on a unique and personal journey with God. Like the rest of us, the choice to respond to an altar call or come out for prayer is theirs completely. Unless there is a very real prompting from the Holy Spirit to pray (with utter humility) for such a person’s area of disability, it is respectful to allow them to feel safe in our midst, just as they are. Jesus did not always assume, He asked about the needs of those who approached Him (Mark 10:51).

People with disabilities are not objects of shame/pity or ‘heroes’

Previously, people with disabilities were seen as people to be pitied or shamed. Many people have said ‘Ag shame’ in response to seeing or interacting with a person with a disability. But the reverse has also been true: when a person with a disability has been exemplified in the role of ‘an inspiration’ or ‘hero’. While the former disarms and further disables the person, the latter puts further pressure and responsibility on a life that is already difficult. Unless you have a personal relationship, or know the person or his/her life, refrain from using the person as an example in a speech or sermon.

Allow people with disabilities to serve in the church

Just like anyone else, the person with a disability has strengths and talents. Give everyone, including people with disabilities, a chance to serve in the house of God. It aids in their sense of belonging and allows everyone to feel part of the family. It may require a discussion with the person with a disability as to what they are able to do or want to get involved in, but don’t assume or prescribe to them what they may or may not be able to do. Have that talk and allow everyone to bring their service to God.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul speaks about different spiritual gifts and different parts of the body fulfilling different roles, but each one needing the other for the body to be whole. So it is with us in the body of Christ. Let’s take the time to acknowledge one another – our gifts, our abilities, and our limitations – and together fulfill the call of Christ.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

1 Corinthians 12:21-26

Where is the love?

Where is the love?

Where is the love?

This year Convergence 2017 starts with one crucial question.
Convergence Team

Convergence Team

This year our journey starts with one crucial question.
It’s a question that resonates in the hearts of so many of us.

 

It’s a question that resonates in the hearts of so many of us. Throughout the ages, as we’re constantly confronted with false images of love that have been watered down, rendered powerless and corrupted, defining love has proved to be one of man’s most iconic searches.

Today, we are faced with so much confusion as the world fights to establish a status quo far removed from God’s intended plan for humanity. The weighty challenge we as Christians are faced with is to bring peace, hope, wisdom and answers to a disruptive landscape. So we endeavor, we pursue, we wrestle, we teach, we guide, we build, we gather, trying to understand love and making every effort to be what we imagine the “good Christian” to be.

Yet, amidst the strokes of this overwhelmingly big picture, if we choose to listen closely to the words of Christ, we hear Him calling us to live as He did. We know Christ is love, the fulfillment of the law. But where are we in relation to Him? And the world around us?

We are sojourners in this world; in it but not of it. And we know that, in the light of what God has done for us, we are supposed to love one another. But we also know it’s not as easy as it sounds. So we find ourselves asking questions like:

What does the Bible really say about love?
Where does love flow in our communities?
How do we show our families that we love them?
How do we love people we have nothing in common with?

Love is not afraid to be honest. Love is not afraid to ask the tough questions. It is time to break through religious jargon and isolated spirituality. It is time to approach the demands, passions, priorities and joys of love with humility and courage.

So we journey together to answer this crucial question,

WHERE IS THE LOVE?

Join us for our global conference Convergence from 29 September to 1 October at Paarl Gimnasium, Paarl in Western Cape.

For more info visit www.shofaronline.org/convergence.

 

Namibia Must Worship: Why did 41 churches get together to worship?

Namibia Must Worship: Why did 41 churches get together to worship?

Namibia Must Worship

Why did 41 churches get together to worship?
Richard Wade

Richard Wade

Shofar Apostolic Team member, ShofarBand worship leader

Namibia Must Worship took place on 1 April 2017. No, really – it did! On 1 April 2017, just under 500 Namibians became “fools for Jesus” and set a day aside to learn more about what it means to worship the Father in Spirit and truth.

Worshippers came from all corners of Namibia, representing 41 different churches – including Shofar, Catholic, Methodist, 7th Day Adventist, Dutch Reformed churches, Assemblies of God, AGS and CRC – to name but a few.

On the day, Retief Burger and ShofarBand led the worship and teachings, where insightful and fresh ideas were shared and practical workshops presented. The gathering then culminated in a worship evening open to the public where a celebration service took place and prophetic prayers were prayed over the nation of Namibia.

We realised from the start that, in order to pull off an event such as Namibia Must Worship, we needed to take hands with partners on the ground. We were privileged to connect with two amazing host churches, namely, Christian Family Centre (CFC) and Agapé – both local churches in Windhoek. Organisations such as the African Leadership Institute (ALI), Kanaal 7, the Today group and Printworx, were instrumental in making this discipleship event happen.

Check out more photo’s from Namibia Must Worship on our Facebook page.

But why Namibia Must Worship?

Namibia Must Worship, “that’s a rather prescriptive title for an event”, some said. “Will that title not offend people?” others asked. “Clearly you are declaring spiritual warfare” some mused.

So, why did we call our gathering Namibia Must Worship? For two reasons, really:

Firstly, on a personal note, I clearly remember my moment of “ministry calling” in 1999. I had just started leading worship in Shofar. I was preparing for my first time of leading worship in the Stellenbosch congregation. Then, we were still meeting in the Sanlam Hall in Die Neelsie. I was worshipping on my own to an old Delirious song called “Did you feel the mountains tremble”. As I was worshipping, I had what I regard as my most profound personal “God encounter”. I heard these four words audibly: “the nations must worship”.

In short, it was a rather intense experience, given the context – I was trusting to lead 300 people in worship for the first time and here I had a word about the nations that must worship. I received two other strong confirmations in the days following that. That, in a sense, became my “life’s calling” and has influenced my secular career/ministry decisions ever since.

I did not share this with anyone for many years until I met like-minded friends and colleagues such as James Pringle, who had the same calling, desire and passion. Together with him and a great team, we then put together the spirit|truth School of Worship. We have been privileged to present this throughout South Africa, as well as in Utrecht, London and Namibia, to more than 700 participants in the past two years.

The second reason for the naming of Namibia Must Worship is that of Christ’s teaching on worship in John chapter 4. Jesus clearly gives us a New Testament blueprint for the “how of worship” when talking to the Samaritan woman at the well. He says, God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth. I have read this passage many times over but in recent years the word must has made a strong impression on me. Christ is rather clear around the guidelines, parameters and boundaries for acceptable worship.

That is why I believe Namibia must worship, and for that matter, South Africa, the Netherlands, UK, Canada. All nations must worship. And for the nations to worship, the nations need to be saved, come alive to God and be discipled. We truly have our work cut out for us.

So, where to next? There are so many nations that still need to be reached in the specific endeavor of worship discipleship. Having said that, we are acutely aware of the many wonderful contributions other churches and ministries are making. We believe that God has given us a drop-in-the-bucket contribution to what He is doing all around the earth – but we are passionate about that drop!

In closing, I believe that we as Shofar Christian Church have a role to play in worship discipleship. This naturally fits into our vision statement of reaching nations through disciple-making. May the nations worship. May we worship in Spirit and truth. God is seeking such people.

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