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.”

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