Biblical Faith – Part Three

Biblical Faith – Part Three
Your body has five natural senses with which you contact the physical world, but faith is the sixth sense with which you contact the spiritual world.

It is with your heart that you believe
Faith is acting on what you believe
Faith is a spiritual force that comes forth from your heart and makes contact with the spiritual world.

Faith requires action
“For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Rom 10:10. You need to speak boldly that which you believe. It is one thing to believe in your heart, but it is yet another thing to speak it. Without the confession of your faith, you will see no results. Speak to the mountain and it will move!

“And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke’, we also believe and therefore speak”. 2 Cor 4:13
“For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says.” Mark 11:23
• Our words are a reflection of what is in our hearts (Josh 1:8)
• Your faith will never rise above the level of your confession
• You may not be enjoying the reality of the truth of God’s Word, because your confession has bound you.

Faith without works is dead
“So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power – inoperative, dead” James 2:17. Believing is acting; there is no believing without acting – the head reasons. The heart acts.

You may be a great Bible scholar, having all the promises, even filled with the mighty Spirit of God, but if you do not act on the Word of God, God is not being revealed in your life. Faith brings together the seen and unseen, the visible and invisible, the physical and spiritual. The Bible says that God created material things out of things that are invisible. All our blessings come from the invisible world. Your redemption is spiritual. Forgiveness is invisible.

How did you find out about that great invisible fact of forgiveness? You found out through the Word of God. It was invisible, but became visible when you accepted it. Healing and prosperity dwell in the spiritual dimension – the invisible world. When you see it in the Word of God, and your sixth sense of faith takes hold of it, then faith brings it over into the natural world.

Faith is believing His Word above your senses
Often your senses will try and contradict God’s Word. This is the battleground. But remember, the battle is won when you listen to your spirit man rejoicing over what he knows to be true, through revelation knowledge gained from the Word of God by the sixth sense of faith!

One of the common errors that many people make about God’s creative ability is to believe that God has made everything from nothing. Something cannot be made from nothing – it is made from things that are not seen.

The house that you live in is built of bricks, wood, glass, steel and other materials. That is the visible part. But what was put into it to make it reality cannot be seen. Somebody put faith, knowledge, talent and work into it. None of these can be seen visibly; only the result can be seen. So it is with your marriage, your family, your job and your service in the Kingdom of God.

God has already given you all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3). Therefore we need to be careful about what we say. Our words transform our circumstances; that is why we must speak Scripture into our situations.

Faith is not a formula. It is not like a parachute which we reach for in emergencies. Instead, faith is a lifestyle, a practical day to day living with Jesus.

Jesus is the Author and Finisher of your faith
Fellowship with Jesus daily – love Him, praise Him, adore Him, and obey Him. Let Him teach you His Word. Jesus is the source of your faith. How do we run the race set before us, looking unto Jesus the finisher of our faith?

By living in the Word
By meditating on the Word (Read Psalm 1)
By keeping God’s Word before you daily.

Don’t put your eyes on the circumstances, but on Jesus. When Jesus was walking on the water towards the disciples, Peter asked the Lord if he could come out to Him. Jesus called Peter out, and he began to walk on the water. However, the minute he took his eyes off Jesus and put them on the choppy water, he began to sink. Later Jesus rebuked him for his lack of faith.

So too, in life, Jesus expects us to walk by faith, but we cannot do that unless our eyes are fixed on Jesus.

Is Reconciliation Possible After An Extra-Marital Affair?

Is Reconciliation Possible After An Extra-Marital Affair?
Many couples are surviving an affair. 70% of all South African marriages are failing. An extra-marital affair has become a large contributing factor to the breakdown of a marriage.

What is an affair?
All affairs violate trust and involve unfaithfulness. There are two categories:

Sexual affair – Sexual contact between a married person and someone other than his/her spouse
Sexual contact violates the marriage covenant. This could be a one night stand or a long term sexual and emotional entanglement. It is still a sexual affair if there is intimate physical contact intended to stimulate and enjoy sexual arousal with someone other than one’s spouse – even if it doesn’t result in intercourse
A Physical affair is an inappropriate display of physical touch, a lingering hug, a kiss, holding hands
Emotional affair – is an emotional attachment to someone else that is normally reserved for one’s spouse. Investing emotional energy into someone that should be reserved for their mate. E.g. sending flowers, letters, cards, emails, intimate dinners alone, spending time, phoning one another, sending sms’ under the guise of friendship, mixit, visiting internet dating sites, etc.

Emotional affairs may be easier to detect because inappropriate interactions can be seen, but they are difficult to prove because hearts and motives are hidden. Some of us may question whether an emotional affair is adulterous. Jesus made it clear however that adultery is as much a betrayal of the heart as of the body.

“You have heard that it was said do not commit adultery but I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matt 5:27-28

Let’s look at the sexually adulterous affair:

No words can adequately  describe the trauma a person suffers when a spouse’s affair is exposed
An affair inflicts a vicious wound to the heart of a faithful spouse
The unfaithful spouse is also forced to deal with emotions that will in many ways shape the future of their relationship.

The wounded spouse

They may look fine from the outside but inside they are haemorrhaging
They feel like they are going crazy especially during the initial state of shock.
Emotions experienced by the wounded spouse:
They feel lost
They feel, fragmented, shattered, confused and disoriented
They don’t know where they belong
Their self respect is shattered and blame themselves for not sensing that something was wrong in the relationship
They feel betrayed. They feel used, discarded and rejected – replace feelings of being chosen, special and valued
Their ability to trust is undermined – everyone becomes a suspect. Even God’s goodness and protection are questioned
They feel powerless. “No matter how hard I try I can’t fix it” indicates a loss of control
Their anger grows out of a loss of control
Obsessive thoughts and dreams of their spouse with a lover invade their days and nights
Some may compulsively drive around to see where he or she is. Some even feel the need to hire a private investigator
They lose hope – depression sets in and feelings of I want to die there’s nothing to live for
They feel ambivalent. Competing emotions all screaming for attention rips them apart.

The emotions that are present

Shame and disgust
Joy and sorrow
Hurt and vengefulness
Fear and relief
Love and hate
A wife or husband will miss his/her spouse at times but also at times be glad he/she is gone
Wanting to hug him or beat him
Wanting to forgive him or making him pay.
The unfaithful spouse
The emotional response can be varied depending on whether they feel guilty over the affair or feel justified and are upset about having been caught. If the unfaithful spouse feels guilty and is willing to give up the affair and restore the marital relationship their response will indicate brokenness and humility.

The unfaithful spouse’s emotions:

Relief – I’m tired of lying – glad it’s out!
Impatience – I said I was sorry and gave her/him up
Chronic anxiety – If I just keep busy I’ll be okay
Justified anger – I’m doing what I want to do and it feels right!
Absence of guilt – I did what I did and that’s that
Isolation – There is no one there for me
Hopelessness – There’s no way this relationship will ever work
Paralysis – I feel torn, I don’t know what to do
Self-disgust – I’m such a fool – why did I jeopardise all that I love?

The unfaithful spouse may also experience guilt over hurting the children and grief over loss of a lover. After an affair is exposed partners need to seek help. They can’t work through the issues on their own, they need help. They desperately need the emotional support and prayer from friends if they are going to rebuild the relationship.

After an affair many couples quickly try to restore the broken relationship. Many families and friends encourage them to reconcile too quickly. Time is needed for both partners to sort through issues, both may even question if reconciliation is possible, or worth it.

You need time to make a decision. Be devoted to prayer (1 Thess 5:17) and ask others to pray. Reflect on what God is doing in your own heart and be aware of where God is leading you.

Some questions to consider:
1. Can there be restoration if the affair is still going on?
Answer: No – divided loyalty is no loyalty at all.
2. How will I know if my partner is genuinely attempting to rebuild the marriage?
Answer: Nothing can give you that kind of reassurance. To rebuild the marriage is risky. The deciding factor is the unfaithful partner’s attitude. The unfaithful spouse must be willing to go the extra mile.
3. Does the Bible require the wounded spouse to take back the unfaithful spouse?
Answer: The decision to divorce or reconcile lies with the wounded spouse.
They must be held accountable in the following areas:
a. Give up the affair. Cutting off all contact and gifts/cards/letters/emails/sms messages/voice messages, etc received from the lover must be destroyed
b. Seek individual and marital counsel from someone that has experience in the field
c. Move out of the house maintaining financial responsibility if so requested by the wounded spouse
d. Be patient with the slowness of forgiveness
e. The unfaithful partner must do whatever it takes to help the wounded spouse begin to trust again
f. Be accountable to several trusted Christian couples
g. Do not pressure the wounded spouse for a quick forgiveness and restoration of the marital relationship.

Can a marriage survive an affair?
Some relationships not only survive an affair but flourish after an affair. The rebuilding of trust comes through telling the truth. Affairs thrive on secrecy. (Eph 4:5 – speaking the truth in love). These are reasonable questions that can be expected to be asked by the wounded spouse:

What happened?
When did it begin?
How long did it last?
Is it over?

Be honest and tell all – knowing the details may inflame the wound. The wounded spouse must share how the affair has affected them, how much pain it caused. Both spouses need to talk about the relationship and how they relate to each other.

In my workshops I frequently mention that the affair is not the cause of the divorce, the marriage was in trouble before the affair. The wounded spouse is not to blame for the affair, the unfaithful spouse needs to accept 100% blame for going out and having an affair and breaking the marriage covenant.

Although the wounded spouse needs to accept a negative contribution to the breakdown of the relationship e.g. not being the perfect wife or husband, being a workaholic, not spending time with spouse or not meeting one another’s needs or expectations. These things never excuse an affair.

Rebuilding trust through confession to the Lord and spouse

It’s not enough to say I am sorry
Specific behaviours, attitudes and responses that inflicted pain must be named and owned
Confession is necessary for the healing of body and soul and the relationship (James 5:16)
Confession must be mutual. Both are guilty. Not guilty of affair but guilty of past failures
Rebuilding trust through repentance (David had an adulterous affair “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” Ps 51:17).

Signs of repentance

A humble attitude that is neither demanding nor defensive when questioned
An openness that replaces deceit
The willingness to be accountable for time, money and whereabouts
Not blaming or making excuses for failures
Quietly accepting consequences.

Rebuilding through forgiveness
Forgiveness is the loving, voluntary cancellation of a debt. At times the wounded spouse may slip in and out of forgiveness. Remember that forgiveness is a process. The pain and the anger may still be there from time to time. Rebuilding can begin through re-initiating physical contact.

Go slowly – get tested for HIV
Guard your heart from bitterness
Live close to the Lord – constantly asking the Lord to help you stay focussed on forgiveness
Communicate with each other!!

A long and winding road
I have had the privilege of helping many couples through rebuilding after an affair. It has been a very difficult and painful process for couples.

From my experience I can only say that it takes commitment from both parties to go down the road of reconciliation – a commitment to the counsellor, your spouse and honesty.

Many divorced people have told me that it is easier to rather walk away and get divorced than to try and reconcile. However I have seen many couple’s marriages become stronger and both have learnt a lot from the process.

The bottom line is we need to seek the Lord and His Will in all areas, especially in a situation like this which affects more than just the individual.

The Return of the Judaizers

The Return of the Judaizers
More and more Christians are being confronted by an increasingly vocal and volatile movement which is hostile to the Christian calendar and vehemently insisting that to be a true Christian you have to adopt the Jewish culture and calendar.

Confronting controversy
One would have thought that this controversy had been settled at the first Church Conference in Jerusalem recorded in Acts 15. The Judaizers were insisting that you could not be saved without adhering to the Jewish law.

The Apostle Peter opposed the Judaizers by reporting on how God poured out His Holy Spirit on the gentiles: “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why do you test God by putting a yolk on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers, nor we, were able to bear?” Acts 15:8-10. The Apostle Paul and Barnabas testified to the miraculous works of God among the Gentiles. James pointed out how this was the fulfilment of many prophecies and he declared: “Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality and from things strangled and from blood.” Acts 15:19-20

The conclusion of the Jerusalem Conference is recorded in Acts 15:22-29. In it the Apostles, elders and brethren of the church in Jerusalem dissociated themselves from the Judaizers who were “unsettling your souls” by requiring observance to Jewish ceremonial law “to whom we gave no such commandment.”

The council decreed: “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:” to abstain from idolatry, immorality and blood. There is no mention here of the Jewish Sabbath, or any of the many distinctives being insisted on by modern Judaizers.

The Books of Galatians, Colossians and Hebrews were particularly written to oppose the false teachings and legalism of the Judaizers. “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the Grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not another, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Gal 1:6-9

A new bondage
Paul pointed out that “not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.” Gal 2:3. Paul described the Judaizers as “false brethren” opposed to “our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus that they may bring us into bondage, to whom we did not yield submission, even for an hour, that the Truth of the Gospel may continue with you.” Gal 2:4-5
Paul rebuked those who “were not straightforward about the Truth of the Gospel… knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by Faith in Jesus Christ… that we might be justified by Faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; and by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” Gal 2:14-16

“I do not set aside the Grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Gal 2:21 Those who today are seeking to reject our Christian calendar and Reformation heritage and bring us back under Jewish culture and law need to read the words of the Apostle Paul:
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of Faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” Gal 3:1-3

Christianity did not embrace Judaism. Rather the reverse
There is no need for us to insist that all Christians only refer to God by His Hebrew Names. It is God’s express Will that He be worshipped in every language and tongue (Rev 5:9-13). This has always been a Protestant distinctive, to translate the Scriptures into every language and tongue. After all, the New Testament was not written in Hebrew, but in Greek.

The Church father Ignatius wrote in AD100: “It is absurd to profess Christ Jesus and to Judaize. For Christianity did not embrace Judaism, but Judaism Christianity, that so every tongue that believeth might be gathered together to God.”

Christian liberty
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage … and I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from Grace.” Gal 5:1-4

The Sabbath
Modern Judaizers claim that we are not observing the true Sabbath unless we are observing it on Saturday. Instead of being concerned about the why of the Lord’s Day, they are more obsessed with the when. Some even claim that the Emperor Constantine is the one who changed the Sabbath from Saturday and the reason we observe it now on Sunday is because this Caesar of Rome established the tradition in AD325.

The Lord’s Day
Actually, the institution of the Sabbath was changed to the Lord’s Day on the first day of the week by Christ and His Apostles. Jesus referred to Himself in the Gospels as “The Lord of the Sabbath.” Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week (Matt 20:1-3). The Holy Spirit was poured out on the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost, on the first day of the week.

We read that the Disciples gathered to celebrate the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). The Apostle Paul told the Christians to set aside their tithes and offerings on the first day of the week (1 Cor 16:2). The Apostle John received his Revelation from Christ while worshipping on the first day of the week – which he described as “the Lord’s Day” Rev 1:10.

Celebrating Christ’s Resurrection
Whereas, in the Old Testament, the Jewish believers observed the last day of the week as the Sabbath in commemoration of the Lord’s work of Creation, Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead and His work of re-creation, looking forward to the New Heaven and the new earth – the everlasting Kingdom of God brought about by Christ’s victory over death, hell and the grave – in His Resurrection.

The Church fathers
The early Church fathers, long before Constantine, taught that Christians should set aside the first day of the week as the Lord’s Day. These included Barnabas and Polycarp. Justin Martyr in AD150 wrote: “Sunday is the day on which we all hold our communion assembly, because Jesus Christ, our Saviour, on the same day, arose from the dead.”

Clement of Alexandria, in AD194 wrote that: “Believers (in fulfilment of the precepts according to the Gospels), keep the Lord’s Day.” Tertullian, in the second century, wrote that on the first day of the week, “on the Lord’s Day, Christians, should, in honour of the Resurrection of the Lord, defer all worldly business.”

“Now on the first day of the week, when the Disciples came together to break bread …” Acts 20:7. The Scriptures further teach: “Let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon, or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”  Col 2:16-17

How Can a Loving God Send Anyone To Hell?

How Can a Loving God Send Anyone To Hell?
One of the common objections thrown at Christians can be summarised in these words: How can a loving God send anyone to hell? What about the Eskimos and Pygmies and other primitive, remote tribes who have never heard the Gospel? Would God condemn them just because they haven’t believed in someone they have not yet heard of?

The short answer to that last emotionally laden question is: No! Of course nobody is going to be condemned for not believing in whom they have never heard. We are all judged according to the light that we have received.

General Revelation
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

For since the Creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His Eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God; they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened…” Rom 1:16-21

Everyone has the benefit of General Revelation in nature. We can see something of the Creator in His Creation. “The Heavens declare the Glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork…” The existence of God is revealed and clearly perceived through the things that He has made. The invisible qualities of God can be understood by looking at the visible things of Creation.

In the light of this General Revelation, the whole world is without excuse if they reject God. No one can claim ignorance of God as an excuse for refusing to honour Him, or to be grateful to Him. That is the main emphasis of Romans Chapter One. We all have the light of Creation and the light of our conscience.

Eternity in their hearts
Don Richardson documents in ‘Eternity in their Hearts’ how even the most primitive tribes, in the most remote regions of the world, have basic understandings of the Creator, Creation, right and wrong and the need for Redemption.

Dreams, visions and encounters
In ‘More Than Dreams’ DVD we hear of Muslims who had no access to missionaries or formal evangelistic work. However, (no doubt in answer to the prayers of God’s people) they came to great conviction of sin, and were confronted by the reality of Jesus Christ in vivid dreams. Their visions of the man with nail pierced hands and feet, with the spear thrust in His side, led them to seek Christian missionaries and the Scriptures and they came to full salvation. Even though all people have access to the light of Creation and conscience, the vast majority still live in rebellion to Almighty God.

People are rebellious
When we have been engaged in personal evangelism in the streets and in the market places, we sometimes come across those who say that they do not believe in the Bible, or in the Law of God, or in the Lord Jesus Christ. At this point, I normally ask them by what standard they live. Generally these people will present some high standards of ideal conduct, often a variation on the Golden Rule of Christ found in the Sermon on the Mount.

Then when I ask them if they have always lived up to these standards, they invariably answer: No! On no occasion have I ever found someone who dared to claim that they had never violated their own standards! So, while all people have the light of Creation and conscience, no one ever lives up to this light. We need Special Revelation in Holy Scripture. The Bible is the Book of God’s Words, just as Creation is the Book of God’s Works. General Revelation leaves all men without excuse. We are guilty Law breakers.

The depravity of man
 “As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside…there is none who does good, no not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practised deceit…whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Rom 3:10-18

This is reality. The presupposition underlying the question of “How can a loving God send anyone to hell?” is a misunderstanding about the nature of God and man. It portrays a lack of understanding of the Holiness and justice of God and the sinfulness and depravity of man.

The Holiness of God
Unfortunately, many Christian ministers have presented such a consistently unbalanced portrayal of the attributes of God that most people only think of God as merciful and loving. However, the angels in Heaven are singing: “Holy! Holy! Holy!” The Holiness and the Justice of God demands that unrepentant murderers, blasphemers, rapists, thieves and liars be dealt with.

Perhaps we should turn the tables and ask our enquirer: What do you think God should do about unrepentant murderers? Persecutors of the Church? Marxist mass murderers? Terrorists? Wife beaters? Poachers? Rapists? Hate mongerers? Deceivers?

The wrath of God
How can a Holy and loving God not punish evil? God is a God of love and light. He is a God of mercy and a God of justice. God is Gracious, but He is also a God of wrath. “…For great is the wrath of the Lord that has been aroused against us…” 2 Kings 22:13

 “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36
“… but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the Truth, but obey unrighteousness – indignation and wrath.” Rom 2:8

But doesn’t God love everyone equally?
Not only do most who question how God can send anyone to hell presuppose the goodness of man and fail to understand the Holiness and justice of God, but most tend to presuppose the egalitarian heresy expressed in these words: But doesn’t God love everyone, equally?

The answer is clearly, No! The Bible is quite clear that there are actually many whom God hates. “These six things the Lord hates, yes seven are an abomination to Him; a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” Prov 6:16-19

The proud, liars, murderers, the wicked, those who rush to do evil, false witnesses and those who sow discord among brethren are among those who God declares that He hates.

Understanding the love of God
“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.” Prov 8:13

Of course: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Common Grace
God does love the world in the sense that He sends Common Grace. He makes the sun shine on the righteous and on the unrighteous. He causes the rain to fall on the fields of the wicked and of the just. He loves the world so much that He came in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ and whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Everyone has benefited because of the coming of Christ and all the tremendous blessings that have come from the Word of God and the work of God’s Holy Spirit. Hospitals, schools, the abolition of slavery, the rule of law, Christian charity, missions and so much more have immeasurably improved the life of everyone on earth.

Egalitarianism is unbiblical
However, Common Grace does not mean that God loves everybody equally. Nothing in all of creation is equal. Pigeons are not equal to eagles and zebras are not equal to lions. No one is equal. Not in opportunity, nor in skills, nor in talents, nor in gifts. People are not equal in their abilities, in their energy, or in their motivation. Some people work hard and sacrifice much. Others squander their resources and energy in gambling and vices.
Secular humanist philosophers may wish that everyone be forced to be equal, but it has proven to be unworkable. As Winston Churchill declared: “Socialism could only work in Heaven, where it is not needed, or in hell, where they already have it.”

Those who work hard are rewarded. Those who are unprofitable servants are cast into outer darkness. In the parable of the talents (Luke 19:12-27), our Lord taught that He would generously reward those who were faithful and wise in serving Him, but the unproductive, He condemned. “For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” Luke 19: 26

Freedom to fail or succeed
There is nothing egalitarian about the Bible. Equality before the Law is commanded (Num15:15-16). However no one can enforce equality of effort, nor equality of results.

In the Scriptures we read that Enoch walked with God and that Abraham was chosen to be the Father of God’s people. Abraham is described as the friend of God. Moses spoke to God face to face. David was described as “a man after God’s own heart”. John, the Apostle, is described as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. The Lord made it clear that there would be different degrees of judgement. He warned that it would be better for the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah than for Capernaum on the Day of Judgement. How could that be? Because, evil as Sodom and Gomorrah were, they never had a Bible. Nor did the Messiah walk their streets. However, Capernaum had the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles working miracles in their streets and yet they rejected His Grace and mercy.

The Day of Judgement
We will be judged according to the light that we have received. To whom much is given, much is required. To whom much more is given, much more is required. The Scriptures also make clear that there will be different degrees of rewards in Heaven.

“Each one’s work will become clear for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” 1 Cor 3:13-15

What about the Eskimos and Pygmies?
So, back to the question of what about the Eskimos and Pygmies and other primitive, remote tribes that have never heard the Gospel? Actually there are many Pygmies in the Congo who have come to Christ. We’ve even had one at one of our Biblical Worldview Summits in Cape Town.

There are many millions of Christians in the Congo. There are, in fact, many hundreds of times more Evangelical, Bible-believing Christians in the Congo than there are in Belgium, which once ruled this territory. If any one doubts the depravity of man they need to read David Livingstone’s accounts of what central Africa was like prior to the advent of the Gospel, as well as Henry Morton Stanley’s writings: ‘Through the Dark Continent’ (1878) and ‘In Darkest Africa’ (1890).

The reality of heathenism before the advent of the Gospel and civilisation is clearly portrayed in the works by these pioneer explorers. Treachery, cannibalism and slavery were rife. In village after village down the original heart of darkness, the Congo River, Stanley and his companions saw villages decorated with the skulls and bones of tens of thousands of victims of cannibalism.

All people know there is a God and that we are accountable to Him
There are no sincere, good people, earnestly seeking God, who will be condemned just because they haven’t heard the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has plainly manifested His eternal power and being and character to every human being on the planet. Through General Revelation in Creation, and through their conscience, every human being knows that there is a God and that he is accountable to God. Yet every human being disobeys God. Jesus Christ came into a world that was already condemned, lost, on its way to hell. Christ came to redeem a world that was already guilty of rejecting the Creator and of violating His Holy Laws.

Study to show yourself approved
Karl Marx declared: “The first battlefield is the re-writing of history.” Secular humanist textbooks and Hollywood films are trying to rearrange reality and discredit our Christian ancestors. We need to know the Word of God and we need to know the Works of God in history. Study to show yourself approved unto God and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15).

Bringing Up Girls

Bringing Up Girls
by Dr James Dobson

Little girls want to know: “Am I lovely?”  The twirling skirts, the dress up, the longing to be pretty and to be seen – that is what that’s all about. Some of you may ask, what can we parents do about this ‘unanswered question’ within our daughters. How can we raise them to be confident women? Is there a way to preserve their softness and femininity while strengthening their sense of personhood? I believe there are many approaches to instilling healthy self-worth in girls, but it begins with security of a loving family. Specifically, it depends on a caring and affirming father. Moms are vital in countless ways too, but self-worth for girls hangs precariously on their relationship with their dads. When you teach her, she learns more rapidly. When you guide her, she gains confidence. If you fully understood just how much you would be terrified, overwhelmed, or both.

The dad’s influence
Many fathers (particularly of teen girls) assume they have little influence over their daughters – certainly less influence than their daughters’ peers or pop culture. Even though she may not participate in ugly stuff, it’s all around her: sexual promiscuity, alcohol abuse, foul language, illegal drugs, and predatory boys and men who want to take something from her. I urge all parents to work at building your daughter’s self-concept throughout her childhood. Tell her she is pretty every chance you get. Hug her. Compliment her admirable traits. Build her confidence by giving her your time and attention. Defend her when she is struggling. And let her know that she has a place in your heart that is reserved only for her.

The value of the family unit
Mom, it is your job to bring out the best in your little girl’s nature. To both mothers and fathers, let me share a suggestion that you may not want to hear: good parenting almost always requires sacrifice. Let me acknowledge that successful family life is difficult to achieve. You may be a single parent with very limited financial resources. Perhaps you suffer from illness, disability, or addiction.

Or maybe you have strong-willed kids who are tough to handle. The last thing I want to do is add to your pressures or sense of frustration. Nevertheless, if there is any way you can give priority to your children amid those limitations, you will not regret giving it to them.
This might mean staying married when your impulse is to divorce. It could cause you to make choices that will handicap you professionally. It might mean financial hardship for the family because Mom is staying at home with her children. What I’m saying is that from where I sit today, children are worth everything they cost. You need to know what your children are thinking, and they need the pleasure of telling you about it. Even though some loquacious kids will “talk the horns off a billy goat” and you come home too tired to listen, it is imperative that you tune in – especially to your girls.

Communication is key
There will come a time when they will be talking primarily to their peers, and the missed opportunities for understanding and intimacy today will be costly down the road. This is why we should engage our kids in activities that encourage conversation, including eating together as a family, playing table games, inviting friends with kids to dinner, cooking together, building things, adopting a lovable dog or cat, cultivating mutual interests, or learning a sport such as skiing or tennis as a family. Your girl’s successes or failures in many of life’s endeavours will depend on the quality of the relationships you share during their childhood years.

Don’t stop hugging your girls!
One of the cornerstones of human relationships is embodied in a single word: conversation. Girls and women connect emotionally through spoken words. Touch is another point of connection that is essential to girls. Just like their mothers, our daughters need to be hugged regularly, perhaps every day. Hugging is easy to do when girls are young. However, with the arrival of puberty and evidences of sexual maturation, fathers often feel uneasy and tend to avoid physical contact.

Girls can read that discomfort with the accuracy of a laser. Here’s a suggestion, another simple one that is still effective: Dads who want to connect with their little girls, and even those who are not so little, need to spend one-on-one time with them. Take your daughter somewhere she will like, such as out to breakfast or dinner. Put these activities on the calendar, and do not let the dates get cancelled or postponed. Never leave kids wondering why you didn’t show up and didn’t even call. That can be more painful to a girl than not promising in the first place.

Wise words of advice
Girls whose fathers provide warmth and control achieve great academic success.

Girls who are close to their fathers exhibit less anxiety and withdrawal. Parental connectedness is the number one factor in preventing girls from engaging in premarital sex and indulging in drugs and alcohol. Girls with good fathers are less likely to seek male attention by flaunting themselves
Never ever make fun of her
Be home for dinner on time
Ask her about her day, every day
Keep her secrets
Let her teach you. About what she learned in school today. About the pilgrims, or multiplication, or manatees
Never argue with her mom in front of her
Never permit her to talk back rudely – to you or her mother. Or anybody else, for that matter
Encourage her to be kind. Even to the girl nobody likes
Drive the car pool. You’ll learn firsthand what she’s doing each day
If you don’t approve of the way she looks before she goes out, send her back to her room to start over. Be gentle but firm
Drag her to church…every week. She may not share your enthusiasm, but after 18 years, the message will sink in
Teach her to pray for her enemies. This could possibly include a rotating cast of classmates and ex-boyfriends
Teach her how to look a boy in the eye and say “No”
Wait up for her. Knowing Dad will be greeting her at the door has a very positive effect on her decision-making process.

Ten practical steps every parent should take
Given the media’s tremendous power to teach and influence thoughts and behaviours, how can you train up your daughter to plot a safe course through today’s entertainment and technological land mines?
I have put together some ideas:

Make media decisions based on God’s view of entertainment. It’s not about what people think. It’s about what God thinks
Teach the ‘What Would Jesus Do’ principle
Instill media-related Biblical principles. Though the Bible seems largely silent about entertainment, it does offer sound principles such as Prov 4:23 and Col 2:8, Psalm 101:3. Find appropriate Scriptures and teach them to your children
Model it. Nothing undermines your teaching about righteousness more than when your daughter observes you not applying the same principles
Get your youth pastor on board. Encourage your youth pastor to have a parent/teen night and encourage discussion about hot topics
Develop a written family media covenant
Encourage positive alternatives
Consider ‘movie nights’ with your family, showing wholesome films
Encourage your daughter to develop a buddy system for media accountability
Teach divine hatred (of what is evil). Teach the fear of the Lord.

Dr James Dobson, is a leading author and expert on raising children. This article is extracted from his book, ‘Raising Girls’ published by Tyndale House, available through CUM book stores.

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Ricardo Kaka: Belongs To Jesus

Ricardo Kaká: Belongs To Jesus
Despite his team bowing out of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, Ricardo Kaká will always remain a hero of JOY! Magazine. Not only is this talented player a shining example for Christ on and off the field, but he has literally put his money where his mouth is by sponsoring the production of thousands of evangelistic DVD’s documenting his testimony. And though the soccer will come and go, the bold stand that Kaká is making for Jesus continues to be a hallmark of this exciting striker’s career.

A little boy with a dream
Born in Brazil, Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite was known as Ricardinho (which means little Richard) for the earliest years of his life. But when his youngest brother could not pronounce this and ended up calling him Kaká, the nickname stuck. The son of a civil engineer and a teacher, Kaká grew up in a happy, faith-filled home. (Both his parents are Evangelical Christians).

With an aptitude for both academics and sport, Kaká started his schooling career at a Baptist primary and though a shy child, held the hopes of becoming a professional tennis player (though his teachers figured he would make a good doctor).

Soccer, school and self-discipline
Spotted at age eight by a P.E. teacher who suggested his father enrol him in a soccer academy, Kaká demonstrated excellent ball skills and a desire to play professional sport.  Almost every young boy in Brazil dreams of becoming a soccer player one day and many fathers give footballs to their sons whilst still in their baby cribs! Children are often seen playing soccer in the streets and on the beaches, and Kaká was no different.

It was at age 12 though, that Kaká had a profound experience that would pave the way for his future in Christ and his career in soccer. It was at this tender age that Kaká (who had been following the Christian faith from a young age) decided to be baptised and publicly commit his life to Jesus. Though most Brazilians are Catholic, Kaká and his family attended a Protestant church and still do to this day.

Fully committed to Christ
“When I was baptised in 1994, something supernatural happened to me. I cannot explain it, but after that experience I grew closer to God and began to know Him in a more in-depth way. My life changed and was never the same again.”

Kaká also became serious about his football…but his small size kept him from standing out. He lagged behind his contemporaries in growth, but was determined to try harder. Kaká had to work twice as hard and was often on the bench, but he doesn’t regret those early years: “It was hard, but I learnt to fight for what I wanted.”

A teenager with stars in his eyes
At the football academy Kaká balanced his school work and soccer and was very self-disciplined in managing the expectations. He was involved in a Bible Study and Athletes for Christ and a bold witness to his friends and family. He gained a love for the Word at a young age and earned the respect of his teammates for standing firm to his beliefs.

Still a ‘young’ boy, Kaká often played soccer on playstation and dreamed of representing A.C. Milan one day (which he later did). He signed his first professional contract at age 15 and was immediately put on an eating plan to bulk up – as Kaká was still smaller and skinnier than the other boys his age. He also reverted to wearing contact lenses as his myopia worsened, and later had lasik eye surgery to correct his near-sightedness.

A devestating accident
Things weren’t all smooth sailing though and at 18, Kaká’s career almost ended when he snapped his neck. It was while messing around on a waterslide that he slipped and fell headfirst into the pool, hitting his head and damaging his sixth vertebrae. He was rushed to hospital immediately and doctor’s were amazed that the soccer prodigy could still walk – as he should have been paralysed. The family were grateful to God for sparing their son’s life, but knew that healing still had to take place in order for him to ever play soccer again.

Friends and family were urged to pray for his complete healing and though Kaká had to wear a neck brace and lie in bed for two months, he walked away from the experience completely healed and closer to Jesus.

God’s purposes and plans
He says: “I knew His hand had saved me and that God was in control of my life”. The accident was a dramatic pause in Kaká’s life and once again he saw how “God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” Rom 8:28.

Spiritually it confirmed Kaká’s faith and caused him to pray more and trust God.  Kaká asserts that despite what some may call a negative circumstance, “I believe God had a purpose in that accident”. The recovery also gave him time to think and set goals for his soccer career.

Soon things changed for the better and Kaká became the superstar of his local professional football club. The media took note of the young star, and even in those early stages he gave all glory to God. It was in a hotly contested tournament in 2001 between Rio and São Paulo (in front of 71 000 fans) that Kaká gained  instant nationwide fame. In the last two minutes of the game Kaká scored two goals, clinching the trophy for his team (who had never won before). Just after his dramatic winning goal, Kaká (18 at the time) raised his hands Heavenward and praised God for the victory.

Instant fame for a young man
Overnight everyone knew who Kaká was and he couldn’t go anywhere unnoticed. The humble star was taken by surprise with the media frenzy – within a few months of rising to fame, Kaká appeared on magazine covers, received bags of fan mail and had hordes of screaming girls following his every move. Whereas previously he had asked the media to spell his name correctly (they spelt it Cacá), he now had no problems being respected and seeing his name rightfully lettered as it adorned newspaper headlines and fan’s merchandise.

A platform for the Gospel
Kaká believes the fame is a platform to share God and has never allowed himself to become arrogant (which is quite a feat considering that soccer is almost like a religion in Brazil and its players are hero-worshipped).

Following his superstardom, Kaká was soon compared to legendary Brazillian players such as Pelé and had women clamouring for his attention. Yet, he remained focussed on the game and refused to get involved in a relationship until it was God’s timing. In 2002 he was elected to play for the Brazil national team in the FIFA World Cup. Though he was not a huge feature on the team, the event was a defining moment for Kaká as Brazil went on to win the trophy that year.

Meeting his future wife
The team, made up of many Christians all stripped to their under- shirts after the final whistle blew, to reveal slogans like: ”I belong to Jesus” and “God is faithful”. Kaká was branded for Christ on an international stage and became known to fans around the world as an outspoken, even tempered, smiling and calm Christian. 2002 was not only his year of national glory, as Kaká met his future wife, Caroline Celico through family firends.  They exchanged numbers and though she was 15 and was 19, the two fell in love. Kaká took Caroline to church and shared his faith with her. It was only after she gave her life to Christ that Kaká seriously considered a marriage (which later took place in 2005 after Kakáproposed to her in Venice). The two have been happily married for five years and have a boy, Luca. Caroline is a Gospel singer and happily acknowledges that her husband belongs to Jesus first and foremost.  The young couple are celebrities in their native country – not only for their good deeds and gorgeous looks – but also because they married as virgins.

Faith, family, football – in that order!
Kaká has received high accolades from football experts and has even been credited as a FIFA Football Player of the Year in 2007. Yet his heart is not for fame and fortune (he famously turned down exhorbitant club offers in Europe to stay with A.C. Milan, his resident team, though he now plays for Real Madrid). Instead his heart is to see the masses saved and to alleviate poverty and hunger. (Kaká works with the U.N. and donates much of his earnings to his church). And after he retires from football? Well Kaká intends studying theology and becoming a pastor. Regardless of where his career takes him, Kaká’s character and personal life set him apart as a true champion. The 28 year old has consistently kept his priorities in check – faith, family, football – and he continues to shine for Jesus.