12 Ways To Draw Near To God

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean
from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22

The Scripture above talks of drawing near to God, but few people actually know how
to practically ‘draw near to God’. Zephaniah 3:1-2 talks of woe for those who do not obey or
accept correction; do not trust in the Lord and those who do not draw near to God.

There is no better time to draw near to God than right now!Here are some suggestions on how to draw near to our Heavenly Father:

Read at least one Psalm daily, soaking in the reality of how powerful God is, His nature and how much He loves His people. Our King rewards those who believe Him and live lives dedicated to glorifying Him.
Nurture a grateful heart and delight in the Lord. Keep a book of blessings that you fill in daily (perhaps at the breakfast table), of each wonderful blessing which God has bestowed on you, big and small.
Take 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, type it out, put your own name in place of the word ‘love’, print it and stick it on your bathroom mirror or fridge and read it once a day, while you are brushing your teeth or searching the fridge for a snack, and try to memorise it.
Memorise Philippians 4:8-9 and live it with determination. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence or anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in Me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Spend time throughout your day with God. Use available time to pray and talk to Him, or recall Scriptural promises to mind when queuing, brushing teeth, travelling, or during lunch times. Perhaps pick a section of Scripture daily and mull it over in your mind for the day, let the meaning truly sink into the depths of your soul.
Listen to good praise and worship music with meaningful words that touch the deepest chord within you. Do this in the car, when everyone is getting ready in the morning, or while you are preparing dinner. Do take time, though, to simply sit and listen to it, join in and sing along. Allow the meaning of the words to soak into your soul. Be aware of the words, enjoy the praise. There are so many styles of Christian music out there now; you will easily find something to your taste.
Remember, dabbling in sin will ruin your appetite for God – you will feel guilt and instinctively feel unacceptable to God. Get rid if the habit of sin. God’s hands are extended, waiting for us to call to Him to help in our spiritual battles.

Seek daily opportunities to do good to others. Return evil with good.

Smile! Realise that regardless of your circumstances, God is real! He is there and continually working (even if we cannot see results yet) to develop all Christians into mature, Christ-like people for His glory. God is in control and will work everything for the best (Rom 8:28).
Repeat to yourself wonderful promises given in Scripture during your times of trial. Believe that the promises are true, even if you do not have the evidence of them in your life at a specific moment. (Hebrews 11:1).
Accept that there is nothing in your life that is more important than getting to know God: no hobby, dream, nor accomplishment or even any possession you may desire. Realise that God is your designer and He knows all your hurts, needs, weaknesses, dreams and experiences intimately, and He knows how to work these things specifically for your good. Just obey, and delight in God. He will give you the strength if you truly seek to live for His glory. He blesses us with an abundant life.

Satan is the thief who comes to destroy anything good – recognise the deceiver and resist.
Stay close to God in the shadow of His wing. Put on the armour of God and stand firm.  

KIM ROBERTS is a freelance writer who also mentors and assists the wives of porn addicts. Email: deekim@telkomsa.net

Your Questions About Christmas Answered

Is there a ‘war’ against Christmas?
Many people perceive that there is a concerted effort to eliminate the word ‘Christmas’ from public discourse – sort of a ‘war’ against Christmas. Shopping centres invite and allow ‘festive displays’ from the community provided the displays have no religious connotation. It is possible to do all one’s Christmas shopping and never see or hear the word “Christmas” in the stores.
Engineering a secular culture
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with saying “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings.” But if someone says “Happy Holidays” for the sole purpose of not saying “Merry Christmas”, then we are right to question what’s going on.
“Why is the word Christmas censored?” we wonder as we wander through the malls. One reason put forward by those seeking to avoid the word Christmas is that it would offend non-Christians. The exclusion of Christmas, then, is not really a way to adapt to a more diverse culture, but a way to engineer a more secular culture.
How are we to respond?
Many times, the arguments against Christmas programmes and displays are couched in political terms, but the bias against Christmas goes much deeper than that. This is primarily a spiritual battle, not a political one. How should Christians respond to the ubiquitous use of “Seasons Greetings” and the exclusion of Christmas? Here are some suggestions:
Embracing Christmas
1. Celebrate Christmas! Let the joy of the season show in your life. Teach your family the significance of Jesus’ birth and make the Christmas traditions meaningful in your home.

2. Wish others a Merry Christmas. When confronted with a “Seasons Greetings,” get specific, and wish the greeter a “Merry Christmas!” You may be surprised at how many respond in kind. Even if you’re met with resistance, don’t let it dampen your cheer.

3. Speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). The Christmas season is a wonderful opportunity to share Christ’s love and the Gospel message. He is the reason for the season!

4. Pray for those in positions of power (1 Tim 2:1-3). Pray for wisdom. Pray for Revival so that Christmas, instead of being ‘offensive’, would be honoured by all.
Does gift-giving take away the true meaning of Christmas?
Many people take the idea of gift giving at Christmas back to the Scripture in Matthew 2:10-11 which talks about the Magi (wise men) giving gifts to Jesus at His home:
“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”
The best Gift of all
The Bible gives a wonderful story about the Gift God gave us, Jesus Christ, and we can use it as an opportunity to present the Gospel and to show love. Giving and receiving gifts can be part of fulfilling what Paul says about giving in 2 Corinthians 8:7-8, “But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.”
Consistent generosity
Paul was talking to the churches who were giving him gifts (financial) so that he could keep on in the ministry. We can apply this same lesson to our own lives by giving to others, not just at Christmas, but year round!
To give or not to give?
So, can gift giving become the focus of Christmas instead of thanking the Lord for the Gift of His Son (John 3:16)? Absolutely! Does giving gifts have to take away from the true meaning of Christmas? No, it does not. If we focus on the wonderful gift of salvation the Lord has given us (Isaiah 9:6), giving to others is a natural expression of that gratitude. The key is our focus. Is your focus on the gift, or on the ultimate gift-giver, our Heavenly Father?
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the Heavenly lights…” James 1:17.
Are Christmas trees and decorations pagan rituals?
The modern custom of a Christmas tree does not come directly or specifically from any form of paganism. There is no evidence of any pagan religion decorating a special fir tree for their mid-winter festivals, although the Romans celebrated the winter solstice with a festival called Saturnalia in honour of Saturnus, the god of agriculture.
They decorated their houses with greens and lights and exchanged gifts. Late in the Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees inside their homes or just outside their doors to show their hope in the forthcoming spring.
Tinsel and decorations
The first Christmas tree was decorated by Protestant Christians in 16th-century Germany. Our modern Christmas tree evolved from these early German traditions, and the custom most likely came to the United States with Hessian troops during the American Revolution, or with German immigrants to Pennsylvania and Ohio.
What does the Bible say?
There is nothing in the Bible that either commands or prohibits Christmas trees. It has been falsely claimed by some that Jeremiah 10:1-16 prohibits the cutting down and decorating of trees in the same manner as we do at Christmas. However, even a cursory reading of the text makes it clear that the passage is one in which Jeremiah sets forth the prohibition against idols made of wood, plated with silver and gold, and worshipped.
A similar idea appears in Isaiah 44, where Isaiah speaks of the silliness of the idol-worshippers who cut down a tree, burn part of it in the fire to warm themselves, and use the other part to fashion an idol, which they then bow down to.
What is your conviction?
So unless we bow down before our Christmas tree, carve it into an idol, and pray to it, these passages cannot be applied to Christmas trees. There is no spiritual significance to having or not having a Christmas tree. Whatever choice we make, the motive behind a believer’s decision about this, as in all matters of conscience, must be to please the Lord.
Romans 14:5-6 sets out the principle in a passage about liberty: “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord.”
Avoid spiritual pride
The Lord is grieved when Christians stir up dissent and disunity amongst one another. Often celebrating or not celebrating Christmas can be a point of division and judgement. This is spiritual pride. When we feel that somehow we have achieved a higher plain of spirituality by doing or not doing something about which the Bible is silent, we misuse our freedom in Christ, create divisions within His Body, and thereby dishonour the Lord.
 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
1 Cor 10:31.

What about Father Christmas?
Although Santa Claus is a mythical figure, his creation is based in part on a great Christian man named Saint Nicholas of Myra, who lived in the 4th century.
Nicholas was born to Christian parents who left him an inheritance when they died, which he distributed to the poor. He became a priest at a young age and was well-known for his compassion and generosity. He had a reputation for giving gifts anonymously, and he would throw bags of money into people’s homes (and sometimes down their chimneys) under the cover of night to avoid being spotted.
A saint to the poor
Nicholas passed away on December 6th sometime around the 340s or 350s AD, and the day of his death became an annual feast in which children would put out food for Nicholas and straw for his donkey.
It was said that the saint would come down from Heaven during the night and replace the offerings with toys and treats – but only for the good boys and girls. There are many different versions of the legend of Saint Nicholas, but all are the inspiration for the jolly, red-suited gift-giver that we now know as Santa Claus or in some countries ‘Father Christmas’.
Just a story…
Many Christian parents are torn as to whether or not they should play the ‘Santa game’ with their children. On one hand, he makes Christmas fun and magical, leaving wonderful holiday memories for years to come. On the other hand, the focus of Christmas should be on Jesus Christ and how much He has already given us. So, is the story of Santa Claus an innocent addition to Christmas festivities, or is he a subject that should be avoided?
Should we include Santa?
Parents need to use their own judgement in deciding whether or not to include Santa during the holidays, but here are some things to consider:
Children who believe that the gifts they receive Christmas morning are from a magical man with unending resources are less likely to appreciate what they have been given, and the sacrifices their parents make in providing for them. Greed and materialism can overshadow the holiday season, which is meant to be about giving, loving, and worshiping God. Children whose parents are on a tight budget may feel that they have been overlooked by Santa, or even worse, deemed one of the ‘bad’ boys or girls.
Telling a white lie
An even more troubling aspect of telling our children that Santa comes down the chimney each year to leave their gifts is that it is, obviously, a lie. We live in a society that believes that lying for the ‘right’ reason is acceptable. As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, it is not a problem. This is contrary to what the Bible tells us. “For the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to live a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil, and keep your lips from telling lies.’” 1 Peter 3:10. Of course, telling children that Santa is real is not a malicious deception, but it is, nevertheless, a lie.
We should foster trust in our family
Although it is probably not common, some children honestly feel deceived and betrayed by their parents when they find out that Santa is not real. Children trust their parents to tell them the truth, and it is our responsibility not to break this trust. If we do, they will not believe more important things we tell them, such as the truth about Christ, whom they also cannot physically see.
This doesn’t mean we must leave Santa completely out of Christmas. Children can still play the ‘Santa game’ even if they know it is all pretend. They can make lists, sit on his lap at the mall, and leave out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve. This will not rob them of their joy of the season, and gives parents the opportunity to tell their children about the godly qualities of the real Saint Nicholas, who dedicated his life to serving others and made himself into a living example of Jesus Christ.
Is the word ‘Xmas’ part of the war on ‘Christmas?
There are many who view the word ‘Xmas’ as part of an overall ‘war on Christmas.’ They view it as a blatant attempt to take Christ out of Christmas. While it is undeniable that some use ‘Xmas’ in that manner, the actual origin of the word ‘Xmas’ has nothing to do with taking Christ out of Christmas.
In Greek, the original language of the New Testament, the word for “Christ” is Χριστός, which begins with the Greek letter that is essentially the same letter as the English letter X. So, originally, ‘Xmas’ was simply an abbreviation of Christmas. No grand conspiracy to take Christ out of Christmas – just an abbreviation.
Replacing annoyance with love
However – there is no denying that there is a trend to, in a sense, take Christ out of Christmas. In pursuit of tolerance, inclusiveness, and political correctness, some are attempting to obscure the Christian origins of Christmas – as if our society’s materialism has not already obscured the meaning of Christmas! Whether they refer to it as ‘Xmas’ or ‘The Holidays’ or something else, some will not be satisfied until the celebration is entirely secularised.
In response to this, rather than getting angry or complaining about the use of ‘Xmas’, we should be sharing the love of Christ through word and deed.
The true meaning of Christmas
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”  John 3:16-17.
The real Christmas story is the story of God becoming a human being in the person of Jesus Christ. Why did God do such a thing? Because He loves us! Why was His birth necessary? Because we needed a Saviour!
Christmas is about God’s love
God loved His own and provided a way for us to spend eternity with Him. He gave His only Son to take the punishment for our sins. He paid the price in full, and we are free from condemnation when we accept that free gift of love. “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8.
Why do we celebrate Christmas each year? Out of gratitude for what God did for us, we remember His birth by worshipping Him, celebrating as families and being conscious of the less fortunate.
GOT QUESTIONS seeks to glorify God by providing Biblical and applicable answers to spiritually related questions. For more info: www. gotquestions.org

God, gangs and the Gospel

Every day news bulletins blast out tragic statistics of gang violence in our country – and specifically in the Cape Flats where the gangs run amok. Incidents of rape, drug abuse and murder are rife amongst the poorest of the poor; weekly a grieving mother has to bury a son who landed on the wrong side of a turf war.
Families are desperate, the police are paralysed and the church is overwhelmed with attending to the immediate problems of the people, that they simply cannot offer a viable solution to the gang problem. For those who have “escaped” the Flats and moved on to a better life…the thought of going back is inconceivable.

A hopeless community
Despite allocating a budget of R20 million toward tackling the gang problem, the City of Cape Town has been unable to curb the violence this year. Faithful and honest members of the police force find themselves outnumbered (there is only 1 policeman for every 3 239 citizens in the Cape Flats) and several have died in retaliation attacks by gang bosses. The community has lost hope.

Enough is enough!! It’s time for Peace to come to the Cape Flats. What the politicians can’t do and what the police can’t do – Jesus Christ can do. The folks living on the Cape Flats desperately want peace.  

Jesus is the only hope!
Jesus Christ is the Prince of peace! And He is the hope of glory. It’s time to set the captives free (those in bondage to intimidation and crime). For those of us fortunate to live in safe areas, where we do not lie awake listening to gunshots…we have an obligation to care for our neighbours. We cannot bury our heads in the sand.

All Christians are commissioned to bring hope, faith and courage to the lost and hurting by sharing the Gospel to those crying out for help. No one is to be forgotten. Jesus died for every single person; He redeemed mankind from the curse and bondage of evil. Everyone deserves an opportunity to hear the Gospel, which is the only lasting change-agent for peace.
So now it is time to ensure that every
citizen in the Cape Flats has this chance to hear the Good News. It is reprehensible that in a democratic country, one has to live a miserable fear-filled life with no hope.

It’s time to share the gospel
Freedom to preach the Gospel is an entrenched Constitutional right in South Africa – so come on Christians – let’s rise to this great opportunity and demonstrate love to the poor, lost, lonely and bondage bound. The Cape Flats cannot be redeemed from the rot of sin and violence unless there is a value shift, unless lives are changed by the Living God. Either we believe God can stop the decimation and transform the ganglands, or we don’t. Now is the time to act on our faith!

JOY! Magazine is committed to do whatever it can to lift this veil of despair and bring the good news of Jesus Christ – and we are calling on you, our readers, to partner with us.

Our plan of action
Firstly we are calling intercessors and Christians from all over SA to help us. We need every faith-filled Christian reading this article to pray in agreement with us that Christ will be invited to bring peace and rule over the Cape Flats. We have compiled a prayer (left) and request that you to place your hand over the map and pray this prayer in agreement with us for the entire month of December.
Once you have, please email or write to me: erin@joymag.co.za or Po Box 2990, Somerset West, 7129, as I want to record every commitment to encourage the folks in the Flats and to motivate our evangelists. I would also request that you take this article and map to your church and request they stand with us also. 
We all need to arise and stand together; this is a major battle and has been raging for years but we know the Word of God is like a double-edged sword and it will slice through strongholds and cut right to the bone. We want to pray and celebrate victory together. When we unite and pray in one accord, the Lord says He commands His blessing.

Bibles for every home
Secondly JOY! Magazine will distribute a Bible entitled “Unleashing a new weapon over the Cape Flats”. We are planning to distribute these free to every household with whom we share the Gospel. Included in this Bible will be a prayer of salvation, a list of 24 hour prayer lines in Cape Town and a list of helpful emergency numbers (drug rehabs, pregnancy crisis centres, shelters etc). We will also include a list of churches and ministries in the area that are committed to discipling the new converts and offering counselling and prayer.

Reaching every home
Thirdly, we have partnered with Christ for All Nations (Reinhard Bonnke’s ministry) who are passionate about evangelism and revival.
CFAN will be providing 50 trained Soul Winners to help with door to door witnessing and the Bible drop. These Soul Winners will be allocated streets and will go two by two, door to door. They will ensure that every single house is visited. If they are not welcome in a home, they will politely dust their feet and move on to the next one.
These Bibles will not be randomly handed out, but will only be given after the Gospel has been shared. Every household will have the opportunity to hear the GOOD NEWS and will be prayed for. We believe that as God’s Word and sincere Christian love is shared house by house, street by street, suburb by suburb, people will be saved and Jesus Christ will bring His protection and peace. 

Please pray faithfully!
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father,  the Son and of the Holy ­Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matt 28:19.

Dear Heavenly Father,
We come to you in the mighty Name of Jesus,
the Lord of lords and King of kings,
at Whose Name every knee must bow.

We come against every stronghold, deception, lie, falsehood, trap, incorrect thinking and behaviour pattern, keeping people in bondage. We proclaim Your Word in James 4:7 which says, “Submit yourselves, therefore, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

We pray for the people living in the Cape Flats who are oppressed by crime, poverty and the forces of evil. Lord we know that you have defeated satan and redeemed mankind from the curse. We pray that as the JOY! and CFAN soul-winners go out to witness, that many would receive the Gospel and submit to Your authority. May whole families come to salvation! 

Father protect the innocent from harm; please give courage and wisdom to the honest policemen and women working to stop crime.

In Matthew 12:29 and Mark. 3:27, Jesus called the demonic presence a “strong man.” Therefore we bind the strong man over this area, eliminating the source, root, and spirit that is causing all evil activity (strongholds).
We renounce any sin that has controlled these people and close the door in any area where the enemy has gained entry.
We pray Lord for the violence to end and for the forces of darkness to be pushed back as Christians pray and put on the armour of God (Eph 6). Lord expose the deeds of the wicked, and convict them of their sin. We pray that the gangsters would repent of their wicked ways.
We release the weapon of prayer!

Lord thank You that we can ask these things in faith, knowing that You hear us and answer our prayers according to Your will.

Jesus Loves You

A reporter once asked the famous theologian, Karl Barth, to summarise his view of Christian doctrine. Now, Barth was a respected theologian and had completed twelve thick volumes on theology, so he could have given an impressive dissertation. He didn’t. Instead, he simply replied, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
Those simple words, put to an uncomplicated melody, contain the most profound truth the world will ever hear. They come from one of the best known children’s hymns. The Bible tells us that indeed Jesus loves us and specifically the Bible shows us that Jesus loves children.

Was Jesus too busy?
Mark 10 tells us about a busy day for Christ and His disciples when people tried to bring some children to Jesus so He could bless them. The disciples had a full schedule. They didn’t have time for these bothersome little kids, and they told the parents so.
The disciples rebuked those who brought the children to Jesus! They thought that He was too important to bother with little children. To them, children were a nuisance and an unnecessary interruption. “Can’t you see that Jesus is busy with more important things than children? He’s got work to do! Leave Him alone! He’s busy teaching us. He doesn’t have time to waste on little kids!”
Mark 10:14-16 says that when Jesus saw what was happening, He was angry with His disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then He took the children in His arms and placed His hands on their heads and blessed them.
You don’t hear about Christ being angry very often, but when His disciples tried to send the children away, Jesus got angry! He didn’t consider little ones to be a waste of His precious time. Jesus valued children. And He made sure His disciples got that message loud and clear.

The greatest in the Kingdom
Can you imagine what it was like for those children to have Jesus put His hand on them and bless them? Jesus loved those little ones.
Matthew 18 records a time when Jesus’
disciples asked Him, “Who is going to be the greatest in Your Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child over. He told His followers, “unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matt 18:3. What was Jesus talking about? What do
children have that adults are lacking?
Obviously He wasn’t talking about maturity or intellect. I don’t think He was talking about innocence or obedience either; it doesn’t take long for little children to find ways and means of disobeying. When I was a little boy my teacher called me “incorrigible”. I had no idea what she was talking about and neither did the rest of the class. I had to go home and ask my dad – he didn’t know either!

Childlike faith
The quality Jesus was talking about is trust. Children by nature are very trusting. As adults we want to depend on our own achievements. And the longer we live apart from God, the harder it is to admit we need God’s grace. On the other hand, that kind of absolute trust comes naturally to little children.
Recent statistics say that over 83% of Christians make the decision to follow Christ before the age of 18. Only 17% are saved after age 18. Children and young people are a priority to Jesus, and they need to be a priority to us too!
Jesus went on to tell His disciples, “Whoever welcomes a little child like this in My Name welcomes Me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matt 18:5-6.

Take care of God’s children
Historically, the Russian Orthodox Church failed to offer education for the children and youth in the church. Their failure to teach the children left a vacuum in the minds of the youth of Russia and Communism tried to fill that void. For that reason, the church of Russia was partly to blame for seventy years of oppression under atheistic Communism.
Now, admittedly, it takes energy and patience to teach children. It takes time and money to provide for the needs of young people. But it’s worth whatever it takes!
When you see little ones running around at church, you are seeing the ones who are greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. The ministry to children is probably the most important ministry in your local church.
There are parents who don’t understand the importance of giving their children spiritual direction. They want them to wait until they are old enough to decide for themselves about spiritual things or go to church. Yet they don’t let them wait until they are old enough to decide for themselves if they should go to school, visit the dentist, or clean their room.

Point them to Jesus Christ
A preacher wanted to show off his garden to a man who wouldn’t let his children attend church. He wanted them to wait until they were old enough to decide for themselves. When they walked into the garden, it was full of weeds, which were choking out his squash, beans and tomatoes. The man said, “This is a pitiful excuse for a garden!” To which the preacher replied: “I just wanted to wait until the vegetables had a chance to decide for themselves what they wanted to do!”
The children were brought to Jesus. That’s what Jesus wants you to do. He wants you to bring them to Him. If you don’t bring them, they might never come. 

Nico Bougas is the International Coordinator of  Hellenic  Ministries. For more information email: 
nico@bougas.info or  www.hellenicministries.com

Depression, A Pit Of Despair

Have you ever felt like you are in a pit, that it is dark, miserable and that you are stuck and you feel like there is no way out of your problem? As Christians today we have a belief system which says, that fundamentally, everything should go well for us as children of God with very few troubles along the way, and the Christian life is one of constant blessing. We mostly believe that one shouldn’t have any trouble, pain, tragedy, sorrow, divorce, brokenness, scars from child abuse, depression, anxiety, stress, loss or failure as all of these things don’t happen to ‘spiritual’ people. Isn’t that how you feel? 
Understanding your depression and learning how to manage it
There will be times when you feel like giving up on life, maybe even give suicide a thought and sadly there will be times when for some, their chemistry is so out of balance, that suicide becomes a reality even though they sincerely love the Lord.
We live in a belief system which says “bad stuff shouldn’t happen to a Christian” and if it does there is something wrong with your faith in God. The Bible teaches us that some of the greatest Biblical characters had huge ‘pit’ experiences.
You’re not the only one
David, the Psalmist, spoke a lot about being in a pit. Psalm 69:13-17 says: “But I pray to You, O Lord, in the time of Your favour; in Your great love, O God, answer me with Your sure Salvation. Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters.”
“Do not let the floodwaters engulf me or the depths swallow me up or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. Do not hide Your face from Your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.”
Be honest about your problem
I have been a pastor for 32 years and have walked many challenging roads in my life but have never faced, in any significant way, the on-going pain of a significant illness which brought with it depression, anxiety and even the occasional thought of suicide. I couldn’t believe that I was even facing these emotional experiences and so want to be transparent about them and seek to provide some answers as to how we integrate our spiritual and emotional lives, when troubles like this come.
A trigger for depression
Let me tell you some of my recent personal story. I have had three unsuccessful operations to my oesophagus and stomach. In May this year the doctors decided to do a fourth operation which would be major in itself and in recovery.
The surgeon certainly wasn’t lying when he said, “This op is one of the most complicated in terms of post-operative complications”. I have endured these complications for four months which produced enormous, continual pain, a swing of wild emotions, spiritual doubts and on-going physical consequences.
Counting my blessings
Some of my pain could be rated at 11/10 and I still live with constant post-surgical pain. This pain, together with a slow recovery left me, at times, feeling as though I was sinking into a deep pit from a physical, emotional and spiritual point of view.
Nothing seemed to be following the ‘constant blessing’ route or the ‘reward’ route for faithful service. I have many wonderful blessings, Avril is an amazing faithful, hardworking and loyal wife, I have four wonderful children and three fabulous grandchildren, and I serve in an amazing church. God, in His grace and mercy, has poured out on me times of incredible blessing and times of experiential powerful moments of His presence, but despite all of that, at times I felt so low and confused.
Drowning in despair
I was just making progress from the operation and getting back to preaching, but I knew that something was still wrong. I ended up back in hospital with terrible fevers. They tested me for all sorts of things and on the fifth day I returned to that dreaded pit of despair.
After a terrible night, the specialist walked in and said to me that apart from tick-bite fever results, there was possibly a diagnosis of a cancer in the blood and they were ordering Gallium (a radioactive substance) which would be injected into my blood and show them exactly where the cancer is. He walked out of the ward and I instantly felt like the floodwaters had engulfed me. I sunk down into a pit; I felt like I was drowning in despair.
Cling to Jesus
The next hour probably rates as an all-time low in my life when I was trying to process the after-effects of massive surgery and a slow recovery and then to apparently have a cancer in the blood. I felt like I had had enough. In that single hour I felt that God had left me, I was in trouble and God was in hiding. I felt confused, sad, despairing, hopeless, miserable, depressed and at the same time really sick.
At 4:30pm, the doctor walked in and said, “You have tick-bite fever”. In that moment I felt God lifted me from the pit of despair. It wasn’t cancer, but something easily treatable. Life is not without pit experiences. In fact Jesus said in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.”
Don’t wear a mask
Broken people are everywhere in the Christ-ian community. Unfortunately Believers wear masks and pretend that they don’t have problems. Many Christians play the “I am happy” game really well.
Let me be transparent with you and not deceive you by saying that life has been okay while recovering from surgery. It has been jolly tough, filled with a bunch of thoughts that I didn’t think I would ever have. It has been physically, emotionally and spiritually challenging. Most of the time it has felt like God dumped me in a pit and went into hiding.
God is in control, find refuge in Him
If you find yourself in a situation where everything is going wrong and you are struggling physically, emotionally or spiritually, then maybe you are in, what I am calling, a ‘pit experience’. Let me share with you a rock solid truth: God is in absolute control at every single point of your life, whether you have deliberately taken yourself into a stupid situation, or whether you have had something happen that is totally and completely beyond your control. You have to get your picture of the Lord right. He knows the trouble you are facing. Our Father will lift you out of this pit experience in His time and place you on a firm rock. You will be able to look back on this time and say, “God has rescued and restored me”.  
The road to depression recovery
1. Cultivate supportive relationships
Share what you’re going through with the people you love and trust. You may have retreated from your most
treasured relationships, but they can
get you through this tough time.

2. Challenge negative thinking
Take your thoughts captive (Phil 4:8).

3. Take care of yourself
Get regular exercise and sleep. Eating healthy food can boost your mood.

4. Know when to get additional help
If you find your depression getting worse and worse, seek professional help. Needing additional care doesn’t mean you’re weak. Don’t be resistant to
medication that can help you heal.

5. Pray and keep trusting in God!

Note from JOY! Magazine
If you are depressed and need someone to talk to, or some advice, please email mag@joymag.co.za and we will send you a helpful booklet and contact numbers. 

The JOY Trip To Israel and Jordan

There is something utterly captivating about the Middle East. In fact, the minute your feet touch the ground in Israel, you feel the clash of cultures and  the rich depth of history that traces its roots back to Biblical times.
For the 28 people on our 11 day tour, the Holy Land will forever hold a significant place in their hearts. Not only was it a privilege to follow the paths of Jesus, but also to worship together with fellow Christians from all backgrounds.

Stepping back in time
After a comfortable flight to Jordan on our modern Etihad plane, the  tour began immediately, where we met our ­gentle and very handsome guide, George! We proceeded to Jerash, a site of impressive ruins from an Ancient Roman city, and upon arrival were intrigued to hear the triumphant sounds of bagpipes emanating from the amphitheatre. A closer inspection revealed three Jordanian Army bagpipers revelling in their national pageantry.

After some Scottish dancing, the group moved on to our hotel for dinner.
Very early the next morning we crossed the border into Israel where we met our local tour guide Johnny and Bassam, our friendly bus driver. Immediately we were whisked off to Nazareth Village – a recreation of an old village from the time of Jesus. There we met Daniel, a Messianic Jew, whose love for ­Jesus radiated from the (grass) roof tops!

Seeing the Bible come to life
The next day after looking over the beautiful region of Tiberius from our hotel balconies, we boarded an old wooden boat and worshipped God on the Sea of Galilee.

We proceeded to the Mount of Beatitudes and then spent the afternoon at the Jordan River, where several members of our group were baptised, a truly life-changing experience! After a delicious dinner feasting on healthy and tasty local dishes, we went to bed and arose early for our morning visit to Mount Carmel – the site where Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal, and interestingly, the area where the Battle of Armageddon will take place. That afternoon we dipped our feet in the Mediterranean Sea at Caesarea, the site where Paul was

Later that day as we drove to Ein Bokek, we found ourselves stuck in the middle of a ­funeral procession for the beloved Chief Rabbi who had passed away earlier that morning. ­Sitting in traffic, we watched as thousands of Orthodox Jews abandoned their cars and literally begin running toward Jerusalem to make it in time.

Dates, donkeys and the Dead Sea!
That evening were all glad to reach the Dead Sea and check into our five star hotel for some much needed rest and relaxation. Floating in the salty, silky waters was a treat – especially for some of the group who had never swum before!

Day six saw us trekking up the mountain of Massada (thankfully by cable car!) where we learnt of Jewish heroism. After a delicious lunch of falafels and shawarmas, we drove North through the Negev Desert toward the much
anticipated Holy City of Jerusalem.

On the way up we had a fascinating stop in Jericho, where we viewed the Mount of Temptation and tasted sumptuous dates and fruits from the local market. Some of the ladies even indulged in a camel ride – amidst shrieks of delight and terror..

From Jerusalem to Bethlehem
That next morning we were off to walk the ­ Temple Mount, pray at the Wailing Wall and walk the Via Dolorosa (the Way of Sorrow). Just before lunch we bade Johnny farewell and proceeded on to Bethlehem to see where the Lord was born. After lunch we welcomed Iyad, our kind and knowledgeable tour guide.
After seeing where Jesus was born, and singing in the Shepherd’s Fields, we drove back to our hotel for dinner, and later bundled into the bus to explore the Western Wall Tunnels.

Exploring the Old City
The next day, we put on our walking shoes and trekked through the underground water tunnels built by King Hezekiah’s men. The group was very adventurous and simply loved the experience. We then walked to the Mount of Olives, and had a special prayer and healing service in the Garden of Gethsemane – a truly memorable experience for all.
Afterwards, we were led into the intricate corridors of the Old City, where we had time to explore the market place and shop to our heart’s content. Later that evening we watched a spectacular Sound and Light show within the walls of Solomon’s court.

Walking in the footsteps of Christ
The next day we visited the Upper Room, where the disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirt, and were blessed to have the place all to ourselves – a real privilege as this never happens in Israel! The tour finished with communion and worship at the Garden Tomb, which is always one of my personal highlights.

The following morning we left for Jordan, and drove straight to Mount Nebo – the site where Moses viewed the Promised Land. After taking in the spectacular views, we departed for the airport, blessed to have met new friends, made very special memories and see the Bible in colour! My thanks to Jannie of Sure Makro Travel and Olga of Nawas Tours and their teams for their hard work.
By: Jackie Georgiou



Dear friend,

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” – John 4 v 10

The verse above carries within it significant truths. Jesus is speaking about the gift of eternal life, the priceless present of salvation. We can learn several things from His statement.

Firstly, “if you knew the gift,” He says. Clearly, knowledge of the gift needs to be communicated. This, dear friend, is the responsibility of each and every believer. On our shoulders is placed the weight of this grand privilege. The Holy Spirit labours together with us, transforming simple words of witness into fiery arrows of salvation. He provides the power, we provide the mouthpiece.

Secondly, Jesus introduces salvation not as “a gift” but “the gift”. Certainly, redemption is the most glorious thing that God could ever transfer into our possession. Freely given, nothing is required in return, and no amount of worldly wealth, promotion or award can match it. Should He never do anything else for His children, us spending eternity with Him should secure our adoration from everlasting to everlasting.

Lastly, Jesus encouraged the woman to ask. “You would have asked Him,” He says. This is a pivotal point. While nothing is required to receive the gift, something is needed to activate the giving process. What is needed? We must ask! Our choice is the catalyst of salvation, it kicks redemption into high gear.

And so, dear friend, where are you today in your relationship with Jesus? If you know Him already as Saviour, are you allowing Him to share the Good News through your words and actions? If you do not know Him yet, know that while the gift of salvation is exceedingly precious, such is freely given to all who ask for it. Ask today, and you will receive! In the testimony below, this is exactly what Frans did. Not only in the recommitment of his life to Jesus, but also in the healing of his body, he asked – and received!

Yours in His service,

Tamryn Klintworth


Frans Mahlo (47) from BURGERSFORT, Limpopo, came to the crusade grounds bubbling with expectation. Having heard from his mother about the Gospel Crusade, he could not stay away. Frans had suffered from lung ailments and crippling arthritis for over a decade, and was confident that Jesus was both able and willing to work a mighty miracle in his life. “It was very tough for me. I nearly died,” he commented. “I could feel the Holy Spirit touching my life and felt relieved from all my pain when the evangelist prayed for me. I can feel that I am healed!” Bending and flexing his joints, Frans rejoices in doing things he could not do before. That evening, this precious man also recommitted his life to Jesus, making his crusade experience even more unforgettable. “I hope to live for Jesus from now on!” he voiced, with eager enthusiasm.
Tamryn is the founder of In His Name Ministries, an evangelistic organisation dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout Africa and the world. Find her on Facebook under Tamryn Klintworth or visit the ministry website at: www.inhisname.org.za