How to walk in the ways of the Lord

By Dr. Christopher Peppler 

It’s the start of another year. Perhaps we should number it 2008 PC – the year two thousand and eight, Post Crash! The end of last year was a dark time for our share prices, property values, interest rates, rand value and inflation rate. When the smoke clears away from the rubble of our fallen financial edifices, we will no doubt realise that the whole towering financial system was built on flawed foundations. Kingdom of God finances stand on the principles of earning before spending and creating before consuming. However, the financial foundation of the kingdom of this world is to borrow and spend today in the hope that tomorrow we will be able to borrow and spend even more! But, Romans 13:8 reads, “Owe nothing to anyone – except for your obligation to love one another” (NLT). With hindsight, it seems like the world went down a wrong path and hit a brick wall in 2008.

His thoughts are superior
Proverbs 14:12 reads, “There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death” (NIV). It makes two points that we should ponder carefully as we go into 2009. The first is that our ways are seldom God’s ways, and the second is that we need to carefully consider the destination to which our paths lead. Isaiah 55:8 states the first point in stark terms: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, My ways, declares the Lord.” We can’t deny the evidential Truth of this. Jesus chooses two men, Paul and Barnabas, to reach the Gentile world – our way would probably be mass rallies and crusades, TV campaigns and the like. Jesus taught that to get much we need to give much – we say that to get much, borrow much!

Renew your mind
Why is it that we so often find ourselves going down our own way, rather than God’s way? I don’t think it’s because we don’t want God’s way, or that we don’t pray or read the Bible enough. I think the prime reason is that we just don’t understand God’s ways. His ways are so different to what we are accustomed, what we have been taught through the educational system and what we see modelled all around us. We need to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” Rom 12:2. But how do we do this? How do we reform our mindsets? At the risk of over simplifying, I suggest a three step process.

Step One:
Don’t live contrary to the Word
Stop thinking and doing what we already know to be contrary to God’s way. “Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the Lord your God” Jer 26:13. How can we walk down God’s way if we are consciously walking down another path?

Step Two:
Seek the Lord’s way
Seek God’s way with wholehearted attention. Obviously this entails reading the Bible, but it means more. To seek His ways means that we must diligently study, meditate on and practise the words and deeds of the Lord Jesus Christ. God walked this earth, He struck a path through time, He showed us the way and He caused this way to be recorded in Scripture for us. His way is not just a set of values or doctrines, but an ongoing and vital relationship with Himself, for Jesus said, “I am the Way…” John 14:6. Before the early disciples were called Christians, they were known as the ‘People of the Way’. That’s what we should be today; people of His Way.

Step Three:
Repent and change
Having repented of known error in our ways, and having steeped ourselves in the life of Jesus, we need to walk with wholehearted trust down God’s way in our lives. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths” Prov 3:5-6. Oh dear, I have just run out of column space – I have exceeded my allotted words and I don’t have room to deal with the second point that Proverbs 14:12 makes. Until next time, may God bless you in 2009, may He make His Way clear to us and may we walk in it.

Dr christopher peppler Lead elder of the Village Church, Lonehill, Founder and Chairman of SA Thelogical Seminary. He has authored several books, namely ‘Truth is The Word’ and ‘Revelation in the Stars’. To find out more or to order his books, please see:

Killer Culture: Who is Selling Sex and Rebellion to Your Children?

Killer Culture: Who is Selling Sex and Rebellion to Your Children?
Is it just me or do children seem to be growing up far too quickly nowadays? Is it something about the clothes they wear, the things they say, or something you can’t quite put your finger on? And it’s not just how they are growing up, but what they are growing up into. As with the Pied Piper of old, it seems so many of today’s youth are being enticed down a very dark path indeed.
No, I don’t think I’m the only one who’s concerned about the situation, but maybe too many are so busy having a good time and ‘partying it up’ that they’re not thinking about what lies at the end of the trip.

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing
”They want to be cool. They are impressionable and they have the cash. They are corporate America’s $150 billion dream.”
So begins TV documentary ‘The Merchants of Cool’, a head-turning exposé on the corporate world’s infiltration – and exploitation – of today’s youth market. It’s common strategy in the marketing world to use various techniques to survey and ‘plug in’ to one’s chosen market, to get a feel of what potential buyers want and are willing to pay for. Of course, many such marketing companies operate well within accepted business practice and ethical behaviour.
Sadly, however, there comes a point when marketing strategies clearly overstep ethical boundaries – and sometimes even threaten important social values. Journalist, Patricia Hersch, documented these corporate attempts to crack the youth market in her recent exposé: ‘A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence’. According to Hersch, marketers play on the deepest-felt psychological needs and vulnerabilities of youth to get the ‘low down’ on what’s happening in youth circles, the essence of ‘what’s hot and what’s not’.
The problem is, in order to get the attention of the youth element, the products being marketed – whether music, movies or accessories – have got to be ‘bigger and badder’ than that which has gone before. Some have even compared the ‘cornering of the teen market’ to the great wave of European Imperialism of the 19th Century, where every effort was made at personal financial gain – with little regard for the welfare of the inhabitants of the colonised nations.
One such marketing technique is to send spies into youth clubs and social settings to gather as much information on youth trends and the ‘youth vibe’ as possible. Another is to monitor internet chat forums – with or without the knowledge of those being monitored – something that seriously infringes our right to privacy and also threatens the emerging internet culture.
It’s easy to say that the big corporations are merely plugging into a culture that’s already there and not influencing it in any way. According to editor and author, David Kupelian, however, many of today’s marketers do not merely copy, but actually influence the movement and flow of the often impressionable youth culture. They are not simply following and observing it, but ‘they are leading – downward’.
After a while, the whole ‘chicken or the egg’ concept starts to blur, and it is not clear whether the marketers are merely copying youth culture – or if youth culture is copying what the marketers sell them. According to media critic, Douglas Rushkoff, many times it’s a bit of both: “It’s a giant feedback loop. The media watches kids and then sells them an image of themselves. The kids then act on the media image, exaggerate it in an effort to be ‘more cool’, and the result is a vicious cycle.”
We need only to think of recent Hollywood films like ‘Borat’ or ‘Clerks 2’, where the key element is to ‘dare to dare’ – which in some cases even means pushing rape or bestiality as ‘cool’ or comical concepts.
To be fair, the situation is not perfectly suited to the South African scene. For one thing, South African youth are not as far down the ‘slippery slope’ of the modern entertainment world as their overseas counterparts. And, of course, neither the local marketing scene nor local youth are nearly as affluent or pleasure-driven as in the US. However, the strong influence of Hollywood and MTV culture on SA youth – and all around the world – is undeniable.
Where Have All the Children Gone?
New York University professor, Neil Postman, was during his lifetime one of the
premiere authorities on media and entertainment trends. In 1982 he penned the brilliant ‘The Disappearance of Childhood’ regarded as a classic work on the subject. For Postman, thanks to current media and entertainment trends, children today are being literally forced into adulthood before their time.
He gives the example of the Middle Ages; a time of relative barbarism and sexual openness. Because of the prevailing culture, children were privy to acts of sex and violence, whether brutal jousting contests (not as glamorous as cinema would have us believe), or in witnessing sexual acts at home as they were all forced to share the same family bed with their parents.
For Postman, children in these times had no childhood. They saw and took in things on a daily basis that the later West would never allow. For this reason, they had little of what we would call childhood or an ‘innocence period’. This all changed in later years, however, and by 1850 – a more civilised age – the need for a proper ‘childhood’ period became evident, when children could be sheltered from the harsh realities of life until such time as they reached their teens and could be introduced to the more dubious aspects of the world in a mature way, in keeping with their development.
What Postman calls the “disappearance of childhood” began in 1950, when current trends in media and communication changed the way we see the world. Today children get all the violence and sexual content they could ‘want’ from the entertainment media, much of it through TV sets in the privacy of our own lounges. The old censorship categories are gradually being eroded, as children are allowed access to more and more programming a civilised society would have either banned or regulated a long time ago. According to Postman, then, because of current trends in media and communication, we as a civilisation are returning to a Dark Age – i.e. we are going backwards, not forwards.
True, we cannot lay all the blame for the state of the world at the feet of the media industry. We are living in an age where single-parent families are a fact of everyday life and where divorce, crime and HIV have shaken the family structure to the point where, in some cases, an older sister or brother is forced to become the new ‘head of the family’. As a result, many children do not have the opportunity to explore their childhood fully and are pushed into adulthood before their little systems are ready for it.
Add to the problem that if one has never been a child, has never allowed childhood development its natural course, one cannot properly reach emotional maturity. This means that when such children grow up, something will be lacking in their development. There will always be something missing from their adulthood.
  What this means is that you will eventually have a generation where you have, on the one hand, children acting (or trying to act) like adults and, on the other, adults who are in many respects children who have never grown up. The damage to such a society is incalculable. Perhaps we are already seeing this, what with irresponsible attitudes to marriage, marital fidelity and a bad work ethic that so permeate Western society.
Children of the Revolution
Often overlooked is that many of today’s adults emerged from the Sixties – an era characterised by rebellion, opposition to traditional morality and the family structure, and general anti-West sentiment. A lot of these ‘free and easy’ 60’s attitudes filtered down to the next generation i.e. to those who are currently leaders of the present generation. For many parents today, then, much of modern youth culture may not seem all that much out of place because “we did it too”.
But rebellion breeds rebellion and we often don’t realise how much the rebellious and morally lax ways of the Sixties – which we may carry around as baggage and not even realise it – carry across to the present generation of youth, breeding even greater rebel attitudes. So once again it is indeed the ‘children of the revolution’ who are the real victims.
It is such trends that influence our day-to-day living. Therefore, we have TV shows where overly-mature kids talk back to their parents and where kids look, talk and act like adults. And kids, influenced by what they see on TV (among the many other bad influences in our topsy-turvy society) soon learn to act like their teen icons – learning adult ways before they are ready for them. So we have kids looking, dressing and acting like adults, at times so eerily reminiscent of an adult trapped in a child’s body.
In our local SA, reports of teen troubles abound on a daily basis. Children as young as 13 or 14 engage in sex acts, sometimes with much older partners. Restaurants frequently sell alcohol to under-18’s, resulting in fights and vandalism – sometimes aimed at security guards. Some teens, ever-bored in a fast-gratification culture, are given as much as R500 by their parents and dropped off at shopping malls for the evening, with little or no supervision.

So What Do We Do About It?
Perhaps one problem is apathy, a sort of helplessness that “Everybody lets their kids do what they want, so what else can I do?” – a sort of peer pressure for parents. Or perhaps there’s even that self-conviction (and in some cases self-deception) that, “my kids would never do drugs”.
The fact is, if parents don’t take a firm stand in solving the problem, no one else is going to. This means, among other things, the strict enforcing of boundaries. A visitor from another society may, for example, find it odd that so many allow their fifteen-year-old daughters (and younger) to go into places that have to employ bouncers to ensure violence doesn’t break out. Perhaps we have been moving down this path for so many years that it is hard to see the situation objectively. Very simply, however, it is not the sign of a healthy society. If more parents took a stand – even boycotting many of the favourite ‘night spots’ – we might begin to see a resolution of the many problems of our age.
We have also got to be discerning about the sort of films and TV shows we let our children watch. In too many households TV becomes a sort of ‘substitute maid’. If left solely to the media entertainment world and its ‘gospel’, however, it is doubtful our children are going to grow up with a balanced view of morality, ethics or the world.
What it boils down to is that the family is the building block of society. Once disintegration sets into the family structure, this inevitably has a ripple-effect on society as a whole.
For nearly half a century now, Western youth have been drawn further and further away from the solid moorings of parental and Biblical teaching. We are told that the Messianic age will see a turning of “the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous” Luke 1:17 – i.e. a time of strengthening of those family bonds for so long attacked by the enemy.
In our crumbling Western society, perhaps the Pied Piper has been calling the tune for far too long. As he leads the sheep further and further away, who will go out and bring them back into the fold? We know from the Word of God that there is a solution –  “If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chron 7:14

The dangers of false teachings

By Miki Hardy

The time has come and the time is now! Today, Christians around the world are being deceived by fals teaching, with devastating results. When you are constantly hearing about what you can get from God, you don’t want to hear about what you can give. But the Christian life is one of sacrifice; a life completely surrendered to God. Anything else is compromise! Why should we be so different to the Christians of the early Church? Didn’t they prove that by freely offering their lives to Jesus Christ, accepting the suffering, trials and tests that faced them, they were able to live a righteous life of victory over sin? This is in fact the simple, clear and powerful message of the gospel. Today however, Christians have everything back to front.

Itching ears
Instead of first seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, they run after earthly treasures. The result of constant exposure to false teaching is that you develop itching ears, so that you grow to love these kinds of messages. They will excite and delight you until you have become trapped by them, and are all that you will want to hear. This is a dangerous road to take, because as soon as someone preaches a message that demands something of your life, you will struggle to accept it. Everything in you will rise up and reject that message. In fact, you might even declare that it is false doctrine!

Who’s advantage?
It was the Pharisees in the days of Jesus who so strongly opposed His message. They were so proud and self-assured that they believed they were untouchable. But when Jesus came with grace and truth and taught them a simple message that confronted their lives, they resisted Him. They even accused Him of having a demon. And from early on, they plotted to kill Jesus, such was the violence in their hearts against Him. The apostle Paul writes in Philippians 3 that many live as enemies of the cross. They pervert the gospel for their personal interests and twist Scripture to their own advantage. He says that their god is their stomach and their glory is in their shame; their mind is on earthly things. This means that they glory in what they possess and their appetite is never satisfied. The Bible is clear: their destiny is destruction. But Paul writes in Galatians 6:14, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” So the question must be asked: What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? This is what happens when Christians depart from the true gospel and turn aside to myths. The Galatian church was overjoyed when they heard the message of the cross for the first time and accepted it with great eagerness. They were prepared to identify their lives fully with Christ and suffer persecution for the sake of the gospel. But when enemies of the cross slipped in among them and began teaching that circumcision alone was sufficient for salvation, they were deceived.

The danger within
The real threat to the Church today does not come from outside, but from within. Just as it says in Galatians 4:17, many preachers today are zealous to win you over, but for no good. They want to alienate you from the true message of the gospel, so you become zealous for them. These preachers promise you many things so you will be eager to hear them again and again. But they want to win you over to have greater access to your money. However, the message we are called to preach is Jesus Christ and Him crucified, which is our identification with Him in His sufferings, His death and His resurrection. This message is not designed to excite anyone. It requires denying yourself and taking up your cross and following Jesus. But the grace, peace and joy that is the fruit of a given life will be poured out upon you abundantly.

A firm foundation
You can destroy your life with material things, but you will never destroy your life with spiritual investment. It will set your feet on a firm foundation and be a great protection for you all your life. The assurance that you have rejected false teachings and embraced the truth will be your security and your everlasting reward. It is much harder to uproot things in your heart than to plant them. But the more you hear the message of the cross in all its fullness, the more you will desire it. If you are sincere and ready to accept that there may be teachings that God wants to remove, allow Him to uproot them. Do not close your heart. Rather, let His word nourish and refresh you, bringing you healing and restoration.

Zealous for Jesus
I want to reassure you, the message of the cross is not new. It has always been there, though you might not have been able to recognise it. It is the message the first apostles lived and preached – the apostolic gospel – and it is the same message that will lead you to freedom from lies and deception. Do not listen any more to preachers who are zealous to win you over, so that you become zealous for them. If you preach the cross of Christ you have one aim; to make people zealous for Jesus. I urge you to resist false teachings and cling to the message of Christ and Him crucified, the one message that sets the captives free.

Pure Christianity

Pure Christianity.
What comes to mind when you think of pure Christianity?  For most Christians the immediate thought is a lifestyle which is high on morals and low on personal sin.  Being pure has an image of a clean or an unpolluted life, almost free of sin.  It is someone who has resisted sin and its influence over their thought-life, over their behaviour and over their actions. It is someone who is living in personal victory over sin through the power of the Holy Spirit. That is certainly one true picture of a pure Christian.   So does that mean that in order to be a pure Christian in South Africa in 2009, we need to withdraw from society and go to live in an environment where no sin even tempts us? Is this a person who lives in his or her prayer room and who hardly comes out?  While there is value in this lifestyle, it is certainly not what Jesus’ half brother, James, had in mind when he spoke about pure Christianity.  Pure and faultless Christianity, for him, is far from a withdrawn lifestyle. In fact it is almost the exact opposite – it is a Christian who is highly involved in compassionate action amongst the most needy in society. For him, a pure Christian is one who, while seeking to live as close to the Lord as possible, is also out there wherever you find the hurting and broken, the poor and needy, the orphan and the widow.  A pure and faultless Christian is one who is involved where there is tragedy, poverty and need. 
James, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, puts it this way in James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
The orphans and widows really represent the poor and needy of society.  In applying this Scripture to our lives today, it is not limited to widows and orphans only, but all who are poor, needy and vulnerable in our communities.  What James was saying was not new to Scriptural teaching. Throughout the history of Israel, God’s people struggled with Him over this issue of just going through the motions to keep God happy and to keep up an appearance of faith. In Micah we can hear God’s heart breaking over His people; as yet again they just don’t get it! He doesn’t want us to just go through the motions and the ritual; He wants our hearts, hands and feet to be involved in worshipping and serving Him. “Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:7-8
Here is real, pure and faultless Christianity. Act justly in everything, love being merciful to those who you feel don’t deserve any mercy and walk humbly and carefully in the presence of God. This is not in order to earn your way into Heaven.  You can never earn your way into Heaven by being pure and faultless. Our compassion towards others and care of the vulnerable does not add to our salvation in anyway. Our salvation is completely by God’s Grace alone. But because God has saved us through His Grace, we in turn should reach out in love to others because of our thankfulness to Him. If we truly understand what God has done for us, it will overflow into compassionate action to the poor, needy and vulnerable. Without this overflow God says our worship is empty. Empty Christianity is a ritual; but pure and faultless Christianity is love in action that extends God’s Grace and love towards those who need it most.
Pure and faultless Christianity is not identified by how regular a church attendee you are or by how precise you are about tithing or how disciplined you are about your prayer life. Pure Christianity is involved in the lives of real people with real needs. While your personal life needs to have a purity that is unpolluted by sin and duplicity, that alone is not enough to be a pure Christian.  Purity has a very practical outworking to the needy. 
Our faith must not only have our hands raised in prayer, praise and worship to God, but hands that are caring and calloused from serving the poor and the needy. It is this mix that makes for real Christianity. Loving and caring for the vulnerable is not an optional extra, or a job allocated to specialists within the church whom we pay to care on our behalf.  It is the only brand of Christianity the Bible knows.  Most of us, unfortunately, suffer from a form of Christianity which has a significant disconnect with Biblical lifestyle.
If you are ignoring the poor and the needy around you, then your Christian walk is in trouble.  Don’t talk about being madly in love with Jesus, unless you are living that out in a great relationship in looking after the poor, the needy and the vulnerable. You have to get real and practical in your Christian life and live out the command from God to be a genuine carer of those in real need anywhere in society, not just those who are family or friends. We must look after people in distress whatever their needs.  There is no way around it.
A private Christianity that apparently has a deep devotional private relationship with Jesus is not what the Bible calls a pure Christian.  The Bible says a pure and faultless Christian is someone who cares for the needy in their distress and who seeks to live a holy life for God.  How are you doing as a pure and faultless Christian? 
How are you doing in your Christian walk? Are you so focused on keeping yourself and your personal walk with God in check that you have neglected to love and care for those around you? Perhaps you are scared to get involved as the work of caring and loving broken people is not easy and is often messy? God was not slow to get involved when He sent Jesus to rescue us from our sin. The Psalmist paints a descriptive picture of our rescue: “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” Ps 40:2.  It is in God’s nature to get involved, to intervene. He expects us to be like Him.

Is Post-modernism uprootingthe Church?

By Phillip Rosenthal

Post-modernism is not a faraway threat. It has already deeply infiltrated the Evangelical Church, influenced the way we ‘do church’ amongst the youth and especially in the American Church. Since the American Church is often a centre of influence for the rest of the world (through publishing and high profile speakers) many in South Africa are following the trend. The ‘Emergent Church’ is the formal expression of these beliefs. Informally, millions of Christians who don’t identify themselves as ‘Emergent Church’ already believe the same things.

Post-modernism is changing the Church
Firstly, it has changed the way most Christian youth view the meaning and purpose of the Gospel – our core message. The traditional evangelistic message is that we have all sinned against God and are thus under His wrath and hence deserve eternal punishment. But the Good News is that Jesus is Lord of all and He has died and suffered in our place. If we believe this, repent of our sins and confess Him as Lord, then He will save us from the wrath of God, reconcile us to God as part of His family, make us whole again and resurrect us as a new creation with eternal life in His Kingdom. There have always been a variety of alternative gospels. But now, with Postmodernism, those gospels which present Christianity as a user-friendly ‘alternative lifestyle’ which helps us live more happily, form community and address social concerns, become more popular. What is marginalised? The Cross, sin, hell, repentance and eternal life. Sin, if mentioned at all, is seen in terms of the harm it does to people, rather than the offence against God. Needless to say, if Christians are missing out the ‘politically incorrect’ parts in their presentation of the Gospel, they are not presenting the true Gospel; and this is unlikely to result in many true conversions.

Post-modernism is affecting evangelism
Secondly, Post-modernism has shifted the approach to evangelism and missions. The traditional approach to evangelism used to be a confrontation with absolute Truth and a demand to repent of sin against God (Acts 2). Before Post-modernism arrived, the seekersensitive church movement began looking for ways of attracting people to come to church without offending them. This is legitimate approach to evangelism and has resulted in some salvations. Nevertheless, there are problems. If this is used as the only approach to evangelism, then a lot of people who are not interested in church are never going to hear the Gospel. Secondly, if the Gospel message itself is softened to avoid offending non-Christians, then the problems mentioned previously arise. But now Post-modernism and the Emergent Church have taken another step away from traditional evangelism. They advocate instead ‘conversation and dialogue’. In other words, they talk to people to try to find common points of agreement and understanding and hopefully some might convert. Christianity is presented as an alternative lifestyle – another ‘choice’. Thus the presentation of the Gospel is progressively weakened by the approach used. Traditional Christianity presents Jesus as ‘The Way’, ‘The Truth’ and ‘The Life’. Post-modernism presents Jesus as ‘A Way’, ‘A Truth, and ‘A Life’. The difference is major! No more demand for repentance from the sin of rebellion against God; just a conversation about personal religious beliefs.

People are scared to ‘offend’
Thirdly, Post-modernists don’t see an automatic right and duty to preach the Gospel to all creation (Matt 28). Rather, they believe one has to ‘earn’ the right to present the Gospel to someone without offending them by first doing good works and building relationships to present a good image of Christianity and avoid offending them. There is nothing wrong with doing good and building relationships to help win people, but if we have to first ‘earn’ our credibility in these ways, then will we ever have done enough to earn the right to speak? The result is that Christians are timid and afraid to present the Gospel because, like trying to earn God’s approval, we are always insecure. No! We tell people the Gospel for their good because the Lord commanded us to. He has given us authority to do so – we do not need to earn it or get anyone else’s permission.

The Emerging Church is misguided
Fourthly, Post-modernism is affecting Christians’ attitudes towards other Christians being persecuted for preaching the Gospel. Since they are themselves unwilling to suffer for their faith or even present the Gospel to their close friends, they find it hard to understand why Christians are willing to endure jail and torture in closed countries for breaking the law to preach the Gospel. Fifthly, Post-modernism has changed the way that unconverted people interpret the Gospel in Post-modern countries such as North America, Europe and South Africa. When Modernism was popular, people generally derided the Gospel as ‘unscientific’ or ‘backward’ and did not want to hear it. With Post-modernism, they are quite happy to listen, but re-interpret the Gospel through a post-modern lens. They view the presentation of the Gospel as just an account of someone’s personal preference and experiences – not a challenge to repent of sin against a Holy God. Therefore, we have to emphasise and repeat those aspects of the Gospel which are politically incorrect – that it is the absolute and the only Truth. Sadly, I believe that much media presentation of the Gospel is wrongly interpreted by readers.

A dangerous ideology to be refuted
As with any culture, there are ways we can adapt to reach post-modern youth, without compromising the Gospel. We can use people’s testimonies, emphasise relationships, feelings, community and social concern, and cautiously experiment with new service formats. But the core Gospel must not be modified or marginalised. Modernist liberalism, which emphasised rational thought and anti-supernaturalism, gutted the missions efforts of the mainline Protestant churches in the 1920’s and 30’s. Postmodernism and the Emergent Church threaten to do the same to modern missions. Therefore, as part of the task of world evangelism and missions, the ideology of Postmodernism and the Emergent Church must be fought and defeated at home.

Philip Rosenthal is the director of ChristianView Network, an organisation promoting Christian values in society. For more information see: or email:

The will of God

By  Peter Hammond

Most people, when they think of the Will of God, are thinking in terms of ‘who is the best person for me to marry?’, ‘what is the best career for me to go into?’ and ‘where should I move to?’ However, the Will of God is concerned with far more than marriage and career guidance. God gives the very best to those who leave the choice to Him. Vocation and location become clear when we are studying God’s Word and following His instructions. The Will of God will never lead us where the Grace the God cannot keep us. Where God guides, He provides.

Knowing God’s Word
“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Ps 119:105. God guides us first and foremost through His Word. The best way to know the Will of God is to study the Word of God. The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing. And the main thing is to know God and to make Him known. His Great Commission must be your supreme ambition (Matt 6:33). When we get our priorities straight, first things first, everything tends to follow from that. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:16-17 It is our priority to ensure that we are not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds, then we will be able to prove the perfect Will of God (Rom 12:2).“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall…the Lord upholds him with His hand.” Ps 27:23-24

Following God’s ways
To be guided by the Lord, we need to be following Him. Have you turned away from this world in order to follow Christ? Have you repented of your sins, taken up your cross and embarked upon this adventure of discipleship, following the teachings and examples of Christ alone? “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example…”1 Pet 2:21 When we are taught, rebuked, corrected and trained in righteousness through the Word of God, we become thoroughly equipped for every good work. Then we are able to test and discern God’s Will. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and in spiritual songs, singing with Grace in your hearts to the Lord…Col 3:16-17 The Will of God is no mystery for us to discover. He has made His Will abundantly clear in the Bible. “For this is the Will of God, your sanctification; that you should abstain from sexual immorality…for God did not call us to uncleanness, but in Holiness.” 1 Thess 4:3,7

Christ-centred, Spirit-led
Those people who say they want to know what God’s Will is, this is God’s Will: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is the Will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thess 5:16-18. It is God’s Will that you be joyful, prayerful and thankful. And it is God’s Will that you be wholehearted (Col 3:23). “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” Ps 37:4- 5. When we are Bible-based and Christcentred, we will find that we are Spirit-led (John 16:13). “I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them and not forsake them.” Isa 42:16 “Whenever you turn to the right hand or whether you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’” Isa 30:21

The fear of the Lord
We need the wisdom of God. The Bible is clear that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 1:7). The Scripture tells us that if any of us lacks wisdom, we should ask God who gives generously to all (James 1:5). No one should expect to gain an understanding of the Will of God if they spurn the Word of God. “Then they will call on Me, but I will not answer; they will seek Me diligently, but they will not find Me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord. They would have none of My counsel and despised My every rebuke. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way and be filled to the full with their own fancies…but whoever listens to Me will dwell safely and will be secure without fear of evil.” Prov 1:28-33 Before we should even begin considering guidance questions of vocation, location and a marriage partner, we should ensure that we are right with God. Jesus taught: “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching…” John 14:23

Making right with others
Carefully read the Ten Commandments. “The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” Ps 19:7. Is there restitution that you need to do? Have you ever stolen anything, or borrowed something and failed to return it? If you have not yet done restitution for that, make that an urgent priority. Restore that property to its rightful owner. Have you been responsible for damaging someone else’s property? Have you repaired or replaced the item? Have you been guilty of speaking behind someone’s back? Have you repented of this and made right with that individual? If you are concerned to do God’s Will, ensure that you apologise to everyone to whom you owe an apology; that you forgive those who have despitefully used you; that you leave your gift at the altar and go and be reconciled to your brother before you come to worship God.

Love God; love people
This is the Will of God that you love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and that you love your neighbour as yourself. It is God’s Will that you do unto others what you would want them to do unto you. If we are not right with God, it doesn’t matter where we are, or what we are doing or who we are married to, we will take our problems with us.

Leaving the choice to God
However, if we have come to the foot of the Cross, surrendered to Christ and forsaken our sin, are diligently studying God’s Word daily, are delighting ourselves in the Lord and seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness, we will be a blessing, wherever we are. We will also be more responsive and open to understanding God’s Will and recognising His guidance in our lives. When we are humble, teachable, prayerful, joyful and thankful, wholeheartedly following in the teachings and example of Christ, then we will find the reality of Psalm 32:8: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will guide you with My eye.”

Dr. Peter Hamm ond is a pioneer missionary of Frontline Fellowship. See or call 021 689 4481

Infertility: A Journey of Heartache, Hope and Faith

Infertility: A Journey of Heartache, Hope and Faith
I have always longed to be a mother and envisioned having my own family, a loving husband and two or three children. As a little girl I daydreamed of my future family and at the age of 19, I met my (soon to be) husband.
I could finally pursue my dream of having my perfect family. Everything just seemed right. We got married, were planning to start a family and then the reality hit – we had an infertility problem!  Both of us were affected by this news and had to guard against blaming one another (as is the temptation for many couples).
Facing my worst fears
I can still remember my first consultation at the infertility hospital. I didn’t know anything about the procedures and it was a new, strange world I was entering into. After the information session I was very upset, especially when the sister explained that I had to have hormone injections every morning for more than a week. I hate injections, so that terrified me.
The hormones stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs and I had to have injections and drink certain formulas. The medication had many side effects; I endured hot flushes and intermittent bouts of nausea. The one thing that kept me going was to think it would all be worth it when we stared at our little baby for the first time.
We started with ICSI – an advanced form of infertility treatment which (without going into detail) is highly invasive. During the course of the long procedure I produced more than 16 eggs ready to be fertilised. Once this was done it became a waiting game, with my husband and I praying for success. After fertilisation doctors placed the eggs in an incubator and, soon after, our professor informed us that one embryo had  formed. Sadly, within 24 hours we heard the devastating news that the embryo had ceased to grow.
Our dreams were crushed and it broke our hearts to leave our embryo at the clinic. It felt as though we were leaving part of us behind and I was very emotional at the failure. Had I not had the comfort of  my Lord and Saviour, I don’t know how I would have coped with all the sorrow and disappointment. Jesus began healing my wounds and the Scripture in 1 Peter 2:24 – “…by His wounds you have been healed”- became a reality for me. My advice is give yourself time to mourn and grieve and go through all the stages of grieving. I started reading the Bible often and listened to sermons by Joyce Meyer. Eventually I went for counselling and prayer.
After a year, I was ready for the second ICSI. I was much more relaxed than the previous one and everything went as planned. The professor harvested 13 eggs. The fertilisation took place and, to my amazement, I was called for my first transfer of two embryos that had divided to a compact of cells. I was over the moon; so excited and so grateful to have a chance to become a mother.
We went for the transfer and then on a relaxing holiday to George. I was very positive and hoped for the best. Two weeks later, before I had a routine blood test, I had cramping in my abdomen. I was frightened and a day later I began bleeding.
Upset and alone, I opened the Bible and God gave me a Scripture saying, “I will dry your tears.” I also clung to Isaiah 61:2, 3 –  “…God will comfort those who mourn.”  I needed that encouragement because I was really in mourning and my dream to be a mother seemed hopeless. I went through different emotions – numbness, denial, extreme sadness, anger and later acceptance. As they say, life goes on…
I was on my road to recovery and later that year went for another insemination. It went so smoothly and I had three embryos growing inside me. My husband and I were thrilled. As I was lying on the theatre bed with my husband holding my hand, I  prayed and thanked God for that moment. I saw the laboratory technologist coming in with our microscopic-size embryos in a small tube. The professor transferred them into my uterus in the wall of the endometrium.
For a week after the transfer I rested and used the time at home to draw closer to God. I pondered the Word, listened to praise and worship songs and read several books by Joyce Meyer. Looking back, I believe the Lord was building me up and making me stronger by encouraging me with His Word and presence.
A day before I was due for my blood test, I began to bleed again. Another cycle was unsuccessful. I was again very sad and disappointed, but the Lord lifted me up and reminded me that He would give me a garment of praise instead of mourning.
I still believe for my miracle. I am proclaiming and speaking God’s Word daily over my life. I am reading God’s Word and worshipping Him. The only way through infertility is knowing the One who knows everything. “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God” Mark 10:27. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind” 2 Tim 1:7.
This journey has drawn me closer to Him. I can use my own trials to be a witness for Him and I believe He will extend our family. If you are battling with infertility, all I can say is stay strong in the Lord, love your spouse and encourage one another.
He wants us to enjoy our lives now. The joy of the Lord is my strength. The Lord must first do a work in you, before He can do a work through you.

Beth Moore – Breaking Free!

Beth Moore – Breaking Free!
Beth Moore founded Living Proof Ministries, a biblically-based organization for women, in 1994. It is based in Houston, Texas, and it primarily focuses on aiding women who desire to model their lives on evangelical Christian principles. (4) Women from around the world sit under Moore’s teaching at Living Proof Live conferences, sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources. (3) Moore also teaches through her radio show, Living Proof with Beth Moore, and appears as a regular on the television program LIFE Today, where she hosts Wednesdays with Beth. In 2007 and 2008, Moore, along with Kay Arthur and Priscilla Shirer, founded Deeper Still: The Event, a LifeWay weekend conference featuring the three women.
Moore writes books based on the regular Bible studies that she conducts at the Living Proof Live conferences and at her local church, First Baptist Church, Houston, Texas. Moore’s books include Breaking Free, Believing God, and When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. Through her books, the Internet, DVD, video, and audiotape, women from every denomination around the world have participated in her Bible studies, while many others have listened to her on the radio or heard her speak in person.
Through the years American missionaries and expatriates have taken the Bible studies overseas, resulting in Beth Moore Bible study groups popping up all over the world. Moore’s Living Proof Live conferences have taken her to thirty-nine states since 1994 and have been attended by more than 421,000 women. She has also taught conferences for women in numerous countries, including Ireland, England, Singapore, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and India.
In the early 1980s, while she was still trying to discern how God wanted to use her in full-time ministry, Moore helped take care of kids at her church during the week so that other moms could take a midday break. She led an aerobics class that often ended with a short devotion. She invited groups of women into her home for Bible study and led a monthly prayer breakfast.
These activities don’t sound nearly as exciting as the life Moore leads today—dashing around the U. S. and across the world as one of the most respected and sought-after Bible teachers.
It was volunteering to teach Sunday school more than a decade ago at First Baptist that helped Moore realize she didn’t know Scripture the way she desired. To strengthen her knowledge of the Bible, she enrolled in a doctrine class at church that she secretly feared would be boring. But as she watched the teacher lovingly pore over Scripture, Moore realized something was missing in her life.
“I began to pray two things,” she remembers. “I prayed to love God more than I love any other thing in all of life. And then I prayed to love his Word. And all I can tell you is when I began to pray that, he started to do it.”
Moore’s deep yearning to know Scripture led her to write a number of studies based on the lives of biblical figures like David, Paul, and even Jesus. Perhaps her most popular study, called Breaking Free, drew from Moore’s personal experiences to show believers how they can be released from the trappings of sin or pain and experience joy and freedom in Christ.
“She’s had private Greek lessons,” Bisagno says of Moore’s devotion to biblical scholarship. “But Beth’s secret is not that. It’s in her commitment to the Word and applying it. She just sparkles. Beth’s got the whole package.”
Moore wanted to make sure she knew her stuff, and Bisagno played a big role in her development. Their relationship stands out as unique in a denomination where leaders assert that women should not be pastors or hold prominent positions of leadership over men in a church.
Bisagno, however, said Moore never went against Southern Baptist beliefs. “Beth would be strong to tell you that she doesn’t think a woman should be a preacher,” he says.
Moore admits she steers clear of denominational issues. “My thing is discipleship,” she says. “That’s what I love and feel most called to. My part is very undenominational. I’m not really into the [Southern Baptist] political scene.”
Abused by someone outside of her immediate family as a child, Moore’s scars ran deep and followed her into adulthood. In the preface to her Breaking Free workbook, she shares how she felt so violated and ashamed that she didn’t even want to wear white on her wedding day. “I did not feel pure,” she writes. “[There were] scars from being a childhood victim of someone else’s problem.”
It’s a feeling that unfortunately many women can relate to, Moore says. But that doesn’t mean she’s felt compelled to share all the details of the horrible ordeal.
“I never share the details of my childhood victimization for two reasons,” Moore says in Breaking Free. “First, I want the Healer glorified, not the hurt; and second, a greater number of people can relate to more general terms.
This wasn’t the last time she would turn to God for healing. Later in life, after the birth of her two daughters, Moore and her husband, Keith, adopted a 4-year-old boy who was the son of a close family member. For seven years, Moore raised Michael like he was her own.
Then one day the birth mother decided she wanted her son back. The anguish that this caused Moore and her family, as she recounts in her 2000 autobiographical book, Feathers from My Nest, once again left Moore crying out to God.
Moore’s willingness to talk about this and other personal trials—like when she lost her mother to cancer or watched her daughter struggle through an eating disorder—has helped many women face similar challenges.
“She’s very real and open with her own struggles,” Hedin says. “She doesn’t set herself up as a woman who knows it all. She’s had some tough things happen in her life. She doesn’t go into detail, but she lays them out and says, ‘I’ve been there.'”
The fact that other women are being set free from sin and bondage by studying Moore’s materials is proof that God is alive and at work in Moore’s life, said First Baptist of Orlando’s Holder.
There’s no doubt about it: Beth Moore live is fiery and funny. She may don her husband Keith’s hunting camouflage to hit home a point, or unroll a literal laundry list of family dysfunctions that extends down the stage into the audience (“That’s why,” she cracks, “we’re the ‘Moores’—more of this problem, more of that … “). But fun isn’t her main agenda; it’s to communicate the transforming power of Jesus and his Word to the women worldwide for whom she says God’s given her a supernatural love. She’s passionate about this message because Jesus transformed her from what she calls her “miserable past.”
Born in a small Arkansas town, Beth was raised by loving Christian parents. But early abuse occurred at the hands of someone she declines to name. As a result, Beth, a shy, troubled girl, grew into an insecure woman who made many wrong choices. “I’ve been in the pit, but I also know the One who pulled me from the pit,” she says.
With her background, Beth admits she never imagined she’d one day have an international teaching ministry. But when her hunger for God’s Word exploded a couple decades ago, Beth began writing Bible studies and teaching them to an ever-expanding group of women. Requests for Beth’s material became so numerous that she formed Living Proof Ministries in 1995. Today women of every denomination around the world participate in her Bible studies series through the Internet, DVD, video, or audiotape. Countless others listen to her on radio, attend her Living Proof … Live! events, or read one of her books, including Breaking Free, A Heart Like His, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, Feathers from My Nest (all Broadman & Holman), and Voices of the Faithful (Integrity).
Despite her high profile, Beth, “48 and holding,” is a private woman whose home is her refuge from the pressure cooker of ministry. Married for 27 years to Keith Moore, she’s the mother of two daughters, Amanda, 26, and Melissa, 23. At Living Proof’s Houston headquarters, photos of her family and her beloved dogs, Sunny and Beanie, sit everywhere.
Beth Moore is petite, but her body language is larger than life. She paces the stage dramatically, gesturing wildly with her hands and arms. Her attractive eyes bulge with intensity as she speaks. Her voice, with its mild Texas accent, rises and falls like a dazzling violin solo. Moore’s charisma is contagious. Give her five minutes and she can have an arena full of women bursting at the seams with laughter and feeling like they’ve known the spirited Bible teacher for their entire life.
Her secret? This wife and mother of two grown daughters knows how to relate to today’s overextended Christian women because she’s been there.
“We all know who this one is,” she once told members of her Bible study class at First Baptist Church of Houston, Texas, as she held up a Superwoman costume. “This is the woman who is busy, busy, busy. She is happiest not only controlling her life, but also the lives of those around her. This is the woman with the bumper sticker that says, ‘God could not be everywhere, so he created me.'”
The audience of 2,000 roared in approval of Moore’s bull’s-eye observation of the life that many women lead. But once Moore had the women’s attention, her tone became more serious and reflective. Moore had a message from God that she needed to deliver. While the topics of her Bible-study classes or weekend conferences may vary, a few key principles are always present.
“She uses the phrase, ‘The ground is level at the foot of the cross,'” says Libby Holder, a Florida woman who has attended two of Moore’s weekend conferences. “Beth teaches us that it doesn’t matter where you come from, because we all come to Christ the same way. I came away with the idea that God just takes ordinary people and uses them in extraordinary ways.”
That last statement is actually an accurate description of Moore’s own rise to the rank of one of America’s top Bible teachers. It also explains how a stay-at-home mom with no formal theological training became a Bible teacher whose study materials have surpassed Henry Blackaby’s wildly popular Experiencing God series in sales.
Experiencing God sold more than 2 million copies. It is estimated that Moore’s seven Bible-study workbooks have sold more than 4 million copies since the first one, A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place, was published in 1995. And that’s a conservative estimate. Some industry sources put Moore’s sales more in the 7-million range.
Not bad for someone who doesn’t promise a bunch of spiritual quick fixes. Moore sells the Bible, plain and simple. Her frank yet engaging style of communication, however, has affected women —and men—across the country to their innermost core.
“We had her at our church several years ago,” says Holder, 60, a member of the large First Baptist Church of Orlando. “I sat there with my mouth hanging open. It took me two weeks to process everything.”
That’s because Moore, who is 45, doesn’t hold back when it comes to sharing what God has taught her. “She just has to teach it,” says Carolyn O’Neal, director of women’s ministries at Moore’s home congregation of First Baptist-Houston, and a longtime friend of Moore’s. “She says it’s just got to come out.”
What comes out is Moore’s passion that other women get to know Jesus in an intimate way. “You know that she knows her [heavenly] Father and that it’s not fake,” Holder adds. “She shares some of her hurts and some of the things she’s been through and how God still chose to use her. There’s such freedom at her conferences. She says that God has a plan and purpose for each one of us, and that no matter who we are or where we have been, God wants us to live in total freedom.”
Moore’s conferences begin on a Friday evening and conclude on Saturday. Her girl-next-door persona (friends say she can down a bowl of chili cheese dip and chips in no time flat) draws as many as 10,000 women to the weekend venues. What keeps them coming back, though, is Moore’s compelling message that abundant life awaits those who will hungrily devour Scripture.
At the start of a typical conference, Moore can be found on her knees in front of the women who have come to hear her speak. After opening with prayer, Moore always appeals to women to devote their everyday affairs to God and kneel before the Scriptures. Her mission is to promote biblical literacy. Her approach is clearly working.
“People are wanting to know that the Word of God is not just a book of doctrinal dos and don’ts—that it’s a book of relationship,” Moore says. “I think people struggle to believe in the absolute unfailing love of God; to know the romance of Christ. To let him get much further than skin deep.”
Moore says her mission is to show Christians that the Bible “still speaks, still transforms, that it has the power to change lives.”
“I am one of those lives,” she says.
In this exclusive TCW interview, Beth talks not only about her past but also about her passion for God’s Word and why she’s compelled to teach other women how to develop that passion.
To learn more about Beth and Living Proof Ministries, check out her website at
Beth Moore’s newest Bible study is Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman. Esther may have been a queen, but her life was no fairy tale. An outsider, a foreigner, and an orphan, she found herself facing an evil plan to destroy her people. And you thought your life was hard! The Old Testament story of Esther is a profile in courage and contains many modern parallels for today’s overloaded and stressed woman. You can share Esther’s destiny—even if your glass slipper no longer seems to fit.
Join Beth in an in-depth and very personal examination of this great story of threat and deliverance. She peels back the layers of history and shows how very contemporary and applicable the story of Esther is to our lives. If you’ve ever felt inadequate, threatened, or pushed into situations that seemed overpowering, this is the study for you. Just as it was tough being a woman in Esther’s day, it’s tough today. This portion of God’s Word contains treasures to aid us in our hurried, harried, and pressured lives.