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the unfinished assignment

the unfinished assignment

by Fred May

Dear friends

I’ve not written to you in many months, which is regrettable, I know, but I’m sensing a positive urge to write, to speak to you, again. Since, in the last while, the storm has taken its toll on relationships generally, I’ve been made aware of the limitations and risks in writing, relative to the advantages of person-to-person sharing. But upon further reflection I feel strongly resolved to resume the practice – especially in the light of Biblical apostolic precedent. In a small way I seem to share a human weakness with the apostle Paul in that I, at times, express myself better in writing than I do in person. So I hope you’ll excuse the medium and accept the sincere underlying desire to stay connected. As at other times, I ask that you view this letter as a conversation starter that invites and welcomes your response.

As we come to the end of the year, we may feel obligated to do the customary stocktake of ourselves in respect of the year that’s now almost gone. For me, and many of us, this past year has been enormously challenging. At the same time I’m constantly reminded of what this statement would mean for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, West Africa and elsewhere where persecution and tribulation of the worst order have been rampant lately. Therefore, I feel it more appropriate to give thanks. I want to give thanks to the Father for remaining faithful and true. I’m thankful for the promise of His abiding love and presence that’s been so real, and for not giving up on us.

And I’m thankful for the partner in the gospel that you are. I’m blessed by how far we’ve travelled together and I’m excited for the road ahead. I’m blessed to be the recipient of all the amazing gifts of the Father, which are all good and perfect, of which you’re most certainly a special one. Thank you for standing strong and for staying faithful to His yoke and for resisting the temptations, seductions, distractions and every other source of discouragement which the storm, and life, has blown into our lives. Thank you for remaining anchored in the Word, tethered to the Spirit and yoked to the Body. I feel pleased and honoured to be partnered with you in this, the cause of Christ.

I’m grateful that the storm has passed and for the mounting evidence that confirms this truth. Recently Lucille and I were able to announce to the congregation here in Stellenbosch our resolve to embark on a process of reconciliation after having expressed our mutual, unconditional forgiveness to each other – small steps in the right direction of God’s promise of restoration. A few days later she and the leaders did the same in a reconciliation session facilitated by Chris Lodewyk.

After Dr Corné Bekker’s incisive message at Convergence on the ‘great storm, the great calm and the great fear’ from Mark 4: 35-40 (NKJV), Carlos Moses, who sat next to me, suggested that I look at the next chapter, which I did. What became quite clear was that the storm was a deliberate and effective preparation by Christ for the disciples’ next level of ministry and mission. I believe that as we, like the disciples, continue to walk by faith and not by natural perception, we’ll leave the memories of the great storm and the great calm behind and, in the ensuing great fear, enter into life ‘on the other side’:

‘Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.’ Mark 5:1-3,6,15 (NKJV) emphasis mine

The great fear of God that had taken hold of Christ’s company in the boat was now being imparted to those whom they encountered.

Our spiritual house has been severely shaken. But it’s been a very necessary storm designed to bind us more strongly to the fear of the Lord, the buttress of Christ’s proverbial ‘wise man’ whose foundations proved to be steadfast. When we worship in the fear of the Lord, I believe we too would begin to experience the Holy Spirit using that ministry as a weapon of warfare.

We’ve come to times where, after many centuries of dark, veiled secrets, a spontaneous exposing of what Isaiah calls ‘total darkness’ has begun. For those who ‘have eyes to see’ the coming to light of entrenched, systemic wickedness on the one hand and rampant moral decay on the other is deeply disquieting. In fact, Christ said that these shocking revelations would be extremely stress-inducing:

‘…men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.’ Luke 21:26, 28 (NKJV)

I love the words of comfort from Christ accompanying these terrifying predictions.

While confrontations with these harsh realities would cause some cynical hearts to harden even more, it will inevitably also cause many others to turn to Christ. These revelations are insightful as to what the metaphorical ‘Gadarenes … on the the side’ may look like. It certainly is not a place for the fainthearted.

Isaiah’s prophecies concerning these perilous times are becoming an ominous reality and, at the same time, a precious source of encouragement and hope.

‘Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines over you. For look, darkness covers the earth, and total darkness the peoples; but the Lord will shine over you, and His glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your radiance. Raise your eyes and look around: they all gather and come to you; your sons will come from far away, and your daughters will be carried on the hip. Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will tremble and rejoice, because the riches of the sea will become yours and the wealth of the nations will come to you.’ Isaiah 60:1-5 (HCSB) emphasis mine

Charles Dickens’ memorable quote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” would certainly be applicable now. Both ‘total darkness’ and God’s brilliant glory are coming into their own at the same time.

In an earlier chapter, Isaiah had an intimate, visceral experience of this very paradox.

‘In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory. At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “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.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:1-8 (NIV)

This vision is an awe-inspiring illustration of the impact on the human heart of worship from the throne of God. The prophet provides a clear definition of the fear of the Lord through his experience – it’s a perpetual state of being overwhelmed by the revelation, the vision of God’s holiness and glory, of being consumed by its wonder.

This encounter was so powerful that it even transformed the life of him, the non-participant, the innocent bystander. The angels around the throne are called seraphim, literally meaning ‘the burning ones’. Their proximity to God’s holy presence had an incendiary effect on them – it set them on fire. They epitomise the impact of God’s holiness and glory on any living being who has the ‘boldness’ to come near Him. Sustained exposure to the beauty of God’s holiness prepares us to reflect His glory, it sets us on fire too.

For Isaiah, this holy fear of God brought with it a profound grasp of God’s perspective and vision of the dark world. Through the eyes of these seraphim he glimpsed a world in which God brought darkness to light by vindicating the truth, where His faithful ones are bathed in the warm glow of His luminary favour. A world in which redemption triumphs through the inexorable advance of light over darkness.

As fear is the antithesis of faith, so shame is the antithesis of glory. Exposure to God’s glory makes Isaiah come undone. He’s overcome with a personal conviction of his ‘falling short of the glory of God’. At the same time he becomes aware of the fact that his sinful yoke, or moral burden, was one that he held in common with the people with whom he shared a strong sentimental affinity, a cultural bond. His sense of shame derived from his cultural heritage. His desperate cry of contrition resulted in both his personal and cultural sanctification, paving the way for his subsequent consecration to a fresh commissioning. He received an assignment to redeem nations through the revelation and manifestation of God’s glory.

Our storm as a movement is related to our specific prophetic assignment that, as yet, is still incomplete. For many reasons Stellenbosch is not an ideal place for a transnational apostolic-base church plant. But it happens to be God’s choice for us for the fulfillment of His eternal purpose. It’s the place where apartheid had its origins both as a theology and a political ideology. Its prime architects hailed from this little town. That, of course, is why Lucille and I were called here and given the assignment to see the prevailing spiritual stronghold demolished for the sake of God’s purpose for our nation and the continent. However, our mandate as a couple has since passed onto the movement as a whole. I believe this has always been God’s intention.

subsumed sentiment

What the Holy Spirit started revealing to me from the end of 2012 onwards is the fact that, in our going and growing as a couple, we’ve never had a meaningful conversation about culture. For some it would seem either a logical necessity or otherwise inessential, depending on how one relates to the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’, namely that which at times would appear to be incompatible or even conflicting cultural perpectives, and for us in particular who hail from disparate backgrounds. For us it was more convenient to assume that conversation to be a non-issue. After all we were proving ourselves bold enough to rather ‘walk the talk.’

By logical and impartational extension, the same holds true for us as a ministry. The storm came to expose an area of spiritual-emotional vulnerability for many of us. Its pressure was designed to expose which of our relational bonds are in fact stronger, the cultural or the spiritual. So until we’ve all, just like the prophet Isaiah, experienced cultural redemption through the intentional consecration of our subconscious sentimental attachments in this area, we may remain shackled to prevailing spiritual strongholds.

In the past two years I’ve experienced a divine work of deeply invasive cleansing in this area. So much that has hitherto defined and influenced me as a person was what I’d received by natural default. But many of those influences impinged on the freedom of the Holy Spirit to manifest Christ in and through me more fully. I had to yield to His demand for compete trust at a deeper level in this acutely personal dimension. I’ve had to believe that when I yielded these intimate areas of my person to Him, He would redeem (that is, restore and fortify) those aspects of my cultural heritage that were of merit, while relieving me of what was undesirable. While our cultural proclivities represent the embodiment of all that’s good about this uniquely human feature of sentimental affinity and attachment, it unfortunately has a dark side too. And since God so loves the world, and all its diverse cultures, He longs to see each one of these redeemed and restored back to Himself.

Until we, as a movement and as individuals within it in particular, invite the Holy Spirit to engage us in this conversation it could, in fact, mean that we remain vulnerable to the insidious influence and/or control of an exclusionary, haughty culture, one to which we’ve been called to be ‘salt and light’, that is, the harbingers and catalysts of change – and not its unwitting recipients and servants. I believe that Daniel’s experience with the battle between the Prince of Persia and God’s mighty angels is telling in this regard. There are ruling spirits of darkness and light assigned to every culture. Our commitment to God’s work of redemption in this area allows Him to reassign our personal submission and allegiance culturally to the prevailing spirits of light.

What made this massive growth step extremely challenging for me personally was the fact that I felt entirely satisfied that this happened to be the one area in my life that had in fact been redeemed and submitted to Christ’s lordship. And in that respect I was absolutely right but, woefully, only so on a superficial level. I believe the same holds true for many of us. It’s a conversation Christ would repeatedly return to, to delve more deeply into His unfinished design in this area. Until we yield our instinctual defensiveness and denial to this work of unveiling and exposing, we may remain in this frustrating place of harbouring a noble, yet frustrated apostolic aspiration owing to the fact that we’re still unable to transition from being Abram, the ‘exalted father’, to being Abraham, the ‘father of many nations’. Generally our relative inability to engage those ‘on the other side’ deeply, with empathic and attractional resonance, is disguised only by superficially contrasting perceptions that may fool ‘us’, but certainly not ‘them.’

When Isaiah encountered the holy wonder of God he was spontaneously compelled to recognise and renounce not only his own unredeemed state, but also that of his culture. The glory confronting him exposed the void in his own life and in that of his culture, of which he at that point was merely a product. That void, universally, is one filled by shame – the antithesis of glory, as fear is to faith.

Every culture develops its unique spiritual, social and psycho-emotional mechanisms to compensate for its shame memes. A meme is a pervasive thought or thought pattern that replicates itself across a particular culture; a parasitic code, a virus of the mind. It could also be thought of as genetic or ‘heart memories’; subconsciously embedded notions that have their origins in the experiences of collective trauma suffered in the distant, mostly forgotten, past.

God’s people, the Jewish cultural community, are typically representative of this phenomenon. Up to this day they still wrestle with the shame of their humble origins in the labour ghettos of Egypt during their four centuries of slavery and suffering and the subsequent cyclic litany. Its divine design was to establish in them the heart of the servant, as exemplified by Christ, but in reaction they chose instead to aspire to be king. Thence their rejection of Him, our servant King. The same holds true for the peoples of Africa for that matter. While God exalts only those who’d serve, aspirant kings exalt themselves and seek to be served – at any cost.

South Africa with all its apparently rich cultural diversity is, tragically, united by a common thread of shame. The divergent cultures distinguish themselves mainly by how they react to this burden of shame, so deeply entrenched in their distinct historical narratives.

At this stage we as a ministry to some degree represent an extension of this grim reality, instead of being God’s redemptive solution and servant. The Holy Spirit is quenched by this state of affairs in that cultural veils are powerful tools used by the enemy to blind us to critical, strategic prophetic revelation pertaining to the advancement of His Kingdom. This veil refers to a perceptual blindspot. This same constraint left God with no choice but to unleash a storm of persecution upon the revived church in Jerusalem after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in order to effect the diaspora, the spreading of the seed. Despite their thorough preparation by Christ in this area, the disciples and apostles were quite content to remain myopic, limiting the reach of their ministry vision to their Jewish cultural domain. Their cultural veils blinded them to the explicit implications and demands of the Great Commission.

Our storm has much the same purpose. After Isaiah had cried out for and experienced sanctification through both personal and cultural redemption, God could ordain him with a fresh commission to pursue and manifest God’s vision of glory over all the earth. Similarly, we’re being prepared for a fresh commission to be harbingers and catalysts of glory throughout the earth. But like many of us may be feeling at present, the disciples too, after Christ’s crucifixion, had a hard time reconnecting emotionally with the purpose of that storm, namely his promise made to Moses and repeated later:

‘For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.’ Habakkuk 2:14 (NKJV)

bunch of keys. no silver bullet

Out of the experiences gained over the last while I’ve managed to realise that when Christ offered Peter the ‘keys of the kingdom’ in Matthew 16:19, it was His way of preparing us for the reality of the workings of redemption. We’ve been taught that ‘Jesus is the answer’ to every problem and crisis, personal or global. And that is most certainly so, but not in an overly simplistic manner.

Subconsciously we’ve come to view God’s transcendent interventions as being akin to the mythical silver bullet or the fairy’s magic wand. But on the contrary, Christ works His redemption by leading us to the ultimate point of resolution, one door at a time. Our duty is to furnish the ones we minister to with these same keys, so that they can unlock just that one door at which Christ may come to knock for a specific redemptive conversation at any given time (Revelation 3:20). These doors are located in various dimensions. The door of redemption being knocked on at this time is the one of cultural affinity which happens to lie in the subconscious recesses of the inner world, but which manifests relationally, socially, politically, emotionally etc.

One such door would typically represent an entire house with multiple doors. This house is known as a stronghold. There are strongholds in need of total destruction, but others, like this one, namely culture, require only redemption and restoration through consecration and sanctification, one room, one door at a time. At the end of this process we would have received mind renewal to an altered or replaced worldview, another self-image, and presuppositions comprising perceptions, sensitivities and persuasions that are mostly radically amended. Our social and spiritual sensibilities are transformed through a deep work of healing, deliverance and restoration by the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives.

I’m eternally grateful for God’s faithfulness to deliver me from a defining legacy of shame inherited at conception and reinforced during childhood. We may remain in denial when Christ knocks at this door, or we may, like the apostle Paul, allow Christ to redeem it and to have the freedom to declare himself to be a Christian believer first, before being an elitist Jewish person. At the end of this conversation with Christ about the merits of his Jewish cultural heritage Paul could say:

‘But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.’ Philippians 3:7-9 (NIV)

‘I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.’ Philippians 3:13-14 (AMP)

He had received a revelation that his redeeming merits, or ‘righteousness’ had absolutely no reference to, or origin in, his culture. His salvation in Christ had become his only reference for any human worth or merit. After submitting it all to the fire of God’s holiness and glory, what remained of his Jewish heritage were only the powerful vestiges of divine intent, embedded there at the time of creation and subsequently refined in Paul’s life by the fire of God’s holiness. This work of grace strengthened and refined his essential self-knowledge. The entire Body of Christ has to answer to the truth at this time that our ‘…our God is a consuming fire’ (Hebrews 12:29 KJV).

On one level the diverse expression of our unredeemed cultures are a manifestation of the world system known as Babylon, of which the urgent cry rings out at this time:

‘…Come out of her, My people, so that you will not share in her sins or receive any of her plagues.’ Revelation 18:1,4 (HCSB)

For the purpose of this discussion, culture would refer to that ‘no-place-like-home’ proverbial comfort zone that gets evoked by a whole range of social and circumstantial encounters that have an intimately familiar feel on a very deep level. God wants us to discover a sense of greater intimacy among the worshipping family around His throne than we do in that familiar place. This is especially true for many of us who, for instance, may still experience and express a much greater liberty and spontaneity at a sporting or social encounter than in the fellowship of the worshipping redeemed.

The submerged, subconscious notions and seemingly disconnected expressions of collective merit or shame and disgrace manifest in a plethora of reactions – a sense of inferiority or superiority, inhibition, phobia, courage, deviance and the like. All are simply carnal, human responses to the real shackles placed upon our forebears through abominations either committed by them, to them, or both. It’s clear that the time has now come for the ‘bride to make herself ready’ by leaving the house of her (fore)fathers and be united to Christ who ‘…also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy with his own blood. So now, let’s go to him outside the camp, bearing his shame’ (Hebrews 13:12-13 CEB).

Christ’s shame is our glory. When we’re called to count the cost of discipleship, this debt of ours paid by Christ is the highest because it speaks to the deepest inner fear, namely that of running the risk of being shamed – which primarily happens through the rejection or ostracism by those who traditionally exercise defining power over us and who, although unwilling, must yield that power over us to the Spirit of the Lord. It’s God’s express desire to establish each one of us in our preordained cultural identity, but only after that sentimental affinity has become subsumed to our love and loyalty to Christ and His people.

the virtue of honour

We’re living in exciting times of prophetic fulfillment. One of the most evident signs of the times is where Christ predicted that people will become unusually offense-prone: ‘And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another’ (Matthew 24:10 NKJV). Unfortunately, strong sentimental attachment and affinity bring with it an unhealthy sense of entitlement along with false or unrealistic expectations. This is the perfect formula for getting entrapped by offense. The current shaking of God’s house is a global phenomenon designed to authenticate or obliterate. Christ’s parable in this regard warned that the specific aim of the storm was to drive a clear distinction between that part of the Body of Christ embracing Godly, as opposed to worldly, wisdom. The latter, as we all know, is rooted in the worship of self and, by extension, the fear of man, or the approval of others, while the former stems from a pursuit of the fear of the LORD.

For several years God’s been speaking to me about the need to ‘run a tight ship’ – in other words demanding of me to ensure that all the fundamental biblical values and principles embedded in our ethos and vision as a movement are adhered to and built upon, by all involved, without exception. One of those fundamental principles pertaining to our leadership model in particular is that of building and maintaining a cohesive team spirit – as established by Christ in preparing and training the apostles to lead the early Church.

In his epistles Paul underlined the virtue and implications of a code of honour which is meant to define our subculture clearly and strongly. This virtue is rooted in an uncompromising loyalty that manifests in a strict code of reciprocal honouring. This code of honour finds expression through mutual respect, mutual accountability and mutual submission.

‘Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus…’ Philippians 2:3-5 (HCSB)

‘Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.’ Ephesians 5:21 (NIV)

According to the apostle James this practice of brotherly love is not simply an arbitrary, or a ‘nice-to-have’ feature of ministry, but rather a matter of extreme importance since it serves to safeguard the Body of Christ against demonic attack and infiltration.

‘But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.’ James 3:14,15 (NASB)

Therefore anyone who chooses the worldly ‘wisdom’ of self-preservation and self-interest, otherwise also known as ‘scheming’ within a fellowship or ministry context, runs the potential risk of becoming an agent of a demonic agenda to harm and destroy. Violating the team principle therefore constitutes a grave sin against Christ’s Body. It marks the distinction between the house of the wise and that of the foolish. For this reason I’ve endeavored to make it customary for us to operate in a spirit – and practice – of mutual submission and honouring. Traditions and practices borne out of this desire to confer honour and convey gratitude neutralise the power of shame. Christ demonstrated this liberating truth powerfully.

‘If I then, your Lord and Teacher (Master), have washed your feet, you ought [it is your duty, you are under obligation, you owe it] to wash one another’s feet.’ John 13:14 (AMP)

our daily bread

I trust that you’d bear with me as I seek to make sense of God’s dealings with us at this time. I have come into the habit of praying through the Lord’s Prayer daily. And I’m finally getting to understand something of what was meant when He taught us to ask for our ‘daily bread’. Within the context of where we start the prayer, viewing ‘our Father’ through the eyes of the seraphim, like Isaiah, we see the Kingdom come like they did where the ‘whole earth is full of His glory’.

Therefore the issue of ‘my’ daily bread or personal needs are to be subsumed by the historical reference in this regard, namely, that of Joshua and Caleb when they found themselves morally constrained to oppose and contradict their naysaying unbelieving reconnaissance partners.

‘But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: ‘The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them.’ Numbers 14:6-9 (NKJV) emphasis mine

It’s interesting to note that after this incident God expressed deep disappointment with the nation for opting to choose the fearful report, but relented in response to Moses’ intercession for them.

‘And the Lord said, “I have pardoned according to thy word: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” Numbers 14:20-21 (KJV) emphasis mine

I’ve since been compiling a list of a range of the diverse Canaanite-type cultural ‘nations’ for myself as a prayer time aid, to petition God for their salvation. They comprise several powerful prevailing ‘-isms’, all characterised by their formidable powers of intimidation. I believe that as we forsake the worldly ‘rebellion’ of a self-seeking anxiety which causes us to fret over our own needs, we’ll find God avidly attentive to our personal petitions as affirmed by Christ.

‘So don’t worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’ Matthew 6:31-34 (HCSB)

God wants us to be released to pursue the daily bread of our inheritance of the nations in prayer with a Holy Spirit inspired passion and urgency. Making this passion personal is the key to intimacy with the Father.

What started as an assignment for Lucille and I has since become an integral part of our apostolic mandate as a movement. The powers of darkness have gone to bizarre extremes to deflect us from our course and to demoralise us in our task, but I believe that their efforts have only served God’s purpose to see us galvanised, refined and refocused.

I now ask that we stand together in uncompromising faith and agreement to bring to completion our initial assignment. It’s now time for us in prayer to decree the destruction of the ancient spiritual stronghold of racial and cultural bigotry and hegemony over our nation; to decree the ‘Kingdom come.’ And let us ask Him for our daily bread with a renewed urgency – even while we prepare to wind down and to recover our strength and inner resources at this time. Paul said it so well.

‘But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus.’ Acts of the Apostles 20:24 (NLT)

My prayer for you is that you would see God reward and prosper you beyond your wildest expectations as you take the time to reconnect with family and friends at this time of deserved rest and relaxation. After all, Christ did commit to restore these precious relationships to us many times over once we’ve shown Him sufficient trust to redeem these.

‘Peter replied, “Remember, we have left everything to be your followers! What will we get?” All who have given up home or brothers and sisters or father and mother or children or land for me will be given 100 times as much. They will also have eternal life.’ Matthew 19:27,29 (CEV)

May you know God’s choicest blessings and palpable presence and peace at this time, a hundred times over, for all the sacrifices you’ve had to make and the hardship you’ve endured in the past year especially. I’m inclined to believe we’re doing the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ proud.

Faith, hope and love,

Fred

11 Comments

  1. Joe

    It’s amazing, I don’t think you rezliae how empty your life is before Christ, but you sense there’s something more! I think I would have a lot less friends if it weren’t for my walk…relationships take work AND forgiveness too…still working on that process!

    Reply
  2. Stanley Chauke

    Thanks Pastor Fred: the assignment is unfinished indeed. Reflecting on Africa and other continents: reached and unreached nations and tribes: the harvest remain more and more with few workers in the harvest field: the biggest hindrance remain to be : persecution, tribulation, natural disasters and evil laws that are against the very Word of God to reach afar: nonetheless in the same way the whole gospel is reaching as far as the Himalayas: this remain a testimony that even heavenly angels before the throne of Christ: be it cherubim nor seraphim or even the arch – angels: Michael or Gabriel – bow and worship Christ continually. I am confident that one day the : “assignment will be finished” when “this gospel is preached to all people of all tribe, language and race.” And Christ will take us to Himself where we will be forever be with Him: in those time after time: in eternity: the storm won’t be there, the tears won’t be there.

    Reply
  3. Francisco Lakay

    Hi Fred!

    Very informative read. We can learn and grow so much from humble leaders like yourself.

    I believe these straining relationships in church will lighten when we stop judging ‘books by their covers’, rather than focusing on our heavenly focus. We all have a part to play in the great commission.

    Reply
  4. Rani

    “God prunes the branches of His vine so that it may bear fruit in His season and glorify Him”

    How we long for You, our souls are parched and our lips are trembling; longing to worship You God, God of the ages, God everlasting, Yaweh the fullness of our faith, the One who fills all in all, the author of our peace.

    We have been wandering in this desert, the dry land has become our home. We see the son of Your creation but only feel it burning; taking away what’s left of us and giving nothing in return.

    The sun rises and the sun sets and all that is left is a piece of me and All of You, standing in the desert. God, my God, You are ever constant, never changing amidst the turmoils of my life. You are all I know, ever will know to be true.

    Our hearts are heavy with tears; You are the only One who hears them falling..how deep these rivers go. We are bruised reeds nearly broken; wash us clean and bind us up according to Your Word which You have spoken.

    Reply
  5. Maria

    Liewe Fred, dankie vir jou mooi lang brief.haha Ek wil ook vir jou en Lucille n wonderlike pad van heling toewens. Mag jul weet ek bid ook vir n nuwe verliefheid,liefde,seen,geluk,vrede,verdraagsaamheid en die vreugde om saam met ons Hemelse Vader vir die duisternis te kan se God het gewen so wheeeeee.

    Reply
  6. Riaan Fick

    Baie dankie Fred vir die bemoedigende boodskap wat dinge in my hart kom oopkrap het wat al die afgelope tyd begin ‘surface’ het. Veral oor die ‘dieper intimacy’ saam met ‘fellow believers’ in aanbidding van God.

    Ek weet die dinge in ons kultuur wat onbewustelik in ons aksies te voorskyn kom en ons regverdig dit ook. Ek is regtig nou geinspireer om dit neer te le en myself te verloen hierin,my kruis op te tel en Hom te volg in hierdie kultuur ‘identiteit’ wat ek so dikwels bewustelik en onbewustelik aanhang.

    Dankie dat jy ook die storm in perspektief kom plaas het,dit maak net soveel meer sin.

    liefde in Christus,

    riaan

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  7. Chris

    Dankie Fred. Mag jy en Lucille die pragtigste Kersfees ooit beleef en mag SY liefde en genade julle oordek en SY daaglikse brood julle versterk dag na dag. Chris

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  8. Edward Schoor

    Dear Pastor Fred

    Thank you for a very insightful, and what I believe is an in-season word from God.

    Like every individual in this world I have been born within a certain socio-cultural historical context, which entrenched patterns of thought and behaviour and determined my human experience on various levels. Over and above this, God’s Spirit, which transcends the confines of human expression crystalised in the diverse, and ever-changing cultural configuartions we observe throughout time, works to deposit in us His eternal and unchanging truth to, as you so correctly state, restore our cultural houses, as apposed to destroying it. It is from this Spirit that I, like every true child of God was born, out of spiritual blindness and into the realisation that I am called into a mission to subdue and restore, as part of the redeemed body of saints, the world back to God from its fallen state.

    However ‘opening the matrix’, does not mean we are immediately set free from our cultural constraints ourselves, rather it means that the power of sin working through the bad elements of our culture has been broken and therefore we walk in the favour of God if we choose to remain in His love through obedience. Only then, through the continual redemptive and sanctifying work of the Spirit by grace will we progressively fulfill the great commision.

    We who call ourselves children of God must unite in this common purpose to bring the ‘glory’ of the nations into the Kingdom of God, and celebrate the diverse riches God has deposited into every redeemed saint from every cullture. We can only achieve this if we truly challenge ourselves to move beyond our own comfortable constraints in an effort to see each each other from God’s perspective first before we decide how and in what ways we need to change. This requires a real and significant effort to transcend barriers, whether they be social, political or cultural. Once we do this we may come to see it is us often instead of the other that needs to change our perceptions and attitudes. The encounter Jesus had with the Canaanite woman illustrates this (Mat 15: 22-28). Here Christ sets for us an example of what our own mindset should be, that is one of openess to experience and transformation, all under direction of the Spirit of God and in accordance with His word.

    Blessings to you and your family. May the God of peace lead out of the storm and into His rest.

    Edward

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  9. Gerardus

    Thank-you Fred for your message. I’m realising more and more how important listening, honouring, empathy and making a relational connections are when ministering to the poor and destitute. The bread, blankets and education will help them to survive, but that which costs no money is needed for them to really live. Blessings, G

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  10. Aharon Levarko

    Shalom Fred,

    You have been very much on my heart. I miss our fellowship and connection.
    I/we are fighting the fight of faith. Times are tough and I see very dark storm clouds on the horizon. Everything in my life is being shaken,I mean everything. I have been to hell and back many times but the Lord promised that he would not leave our soul in hell Ps 16. Yeshua being the prime example of someone who committed his soul into the fathers hands, and instead of being lead into glory he was lead to hell but then after he was raised up.
    Love and blessings to you .

    Aharon.

    Reply
  11. Heidi Grobler

    Hallo Fred

    Ek het so pas jou brief aan ons klaar gelees en alhoewel ek nie alles verstaan wat jy se nie, ek wel , as een van Shofar se lidmate wat tot nou toe so bietjie in die agtergrond beweeg het, vir jou as ons geestelike vader wil se, Fred, ek is so verkriklik bevoorreg om deel van Shofar en daarom ook deel van alles wat hier gebeur te wees,

    Ek het so 6 jr gelede n lidmaat van Shofar Stellenbosch geword nadat ek ek en my dogter in 2006 vanaf Ermelo hierheen getrek het om n nuwe lewe hier in Stellenbosch te begin nadat ek en my man daardie tyd van mekaar af weg is. Ons het eers by Stellenbosch gemeente by Theo Geyser ingeskakel vir n jaar of wat voordat ons ons self kom tuis maak het by Shofar christen gemeente.

    Op daardie stadium was ek n enkel ouer wat met alles wat in my was probeer het om met wat ek tot my beskikking gehad het en met Ons Vader se genade en Sy voorsiening . n bestaan te probeer maak en my voete re probeer vind sodat ek vir myself sowel as vir my dogte n nuwe lewe te kon skep hier in Stellenbosch. My dogter het op daardie stadium net klaar gemaak het met laerskool wat sy in Eikestad laerskool voltooi het en net begin het met haar hoerskool loopbaan in Bloemhof hoer meisieskool. Ons het altwee die voorreg gehad om elkeen by sy eie selgroepie in te skakel net na ons by Shofar ingeskakel het, Sy het juis op daardie stadium net terug gekom van n Indie trippie waar sy die voorreg gehad het om saam met n CSV groep ‘The Royal kids’ te gaan besoek . Met haar terugkoms van Indie het ek reeds al die besluit gemaak en glo ek dat die Here my gelei het om Shofar te besoek en hier in te skakel

    Van toe af tot nou toe het daar al n groot stuk groei plaas gevind wat my eie aanpassing en emosies betref, Ek en my man is eers na 6 jr amptelik geskei nadat ons hierheen gekom het alhoewel daar nooit sprake was van herstel van die huwelik nie aangesien hy reeds nog voor ons vervreemding van mekaar reeds besluit het om iemand anders in sy lewe toe te laat. Hy is ook intussentyd

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