Joel & Victoria Osteen: Become a Better You

Joel & Victoria Osteen: Become a Better You
God didn’t create you so that you can just be average.  He wants to do more in and through you than you could ever imagine.   Whether life is going well for you or collapsing right before your eyes, we all want to be better.  We want to be more effective in our lives.  We want to be better parents, employees, spouses and better Christians.  The question we are most often left with is – ‘How?’
Joel Osteen answers these questions in his latest book, ‘Become a better you’.  According to Osteen, it all comes down to not only praying that God comes through for you, but that you also do your part.  So if you are tired of settling for second best, if you want to advance to the next level and become a better you, begin by focusing on the following seven principles:
Keep pressing forward
Too many people are living far below their potential.  They are satisfied with their past successes and have become comfortable with their lives the way they are.  God is a progressive God and no matter where we are in life, God has more in store!  He never wants us to quit growing.  We should always be reaching for new heights in our abilities, in our spiritual walk, in our finances, careers and personal relationships. If you’re a teacher, you haven’t taught your best lesson yet.  If you’re a businessman, you haven’t negotiated your best deal yet.  Your best days are not behind you, they are in front of you.
Get rid of low expectations and don’t make little plans for your life.  Don’t have little dreams.  You are a child of the Most High God and you have everything you need to fulfil your God-given destiny.  He has already created you with the talent, creativity, discipline, wisdom and determination you need.  You are full of potential and you were created to excel.  There’s no limit to what you can accomplish if you will just learn to shake off complacency and keep stretching to the next level. “All of My days you ordained before one of them came to be.” Ps 139:16
Be positive toward yourself
It is so easy to dwell on your past mistakes and failures.  We tell ourselves things like: “I should have spent more time with my family” or we hear a voice in our head saying, “You gave, but you didn’t give enough.”  By listening to these negative thoughts we start to feel guilty, condemned and extremely discontented with ourselves.  We lose our joy and confidence and that is exactly what the enemy wants. 
Accept Grace
We need to stop putting ourselves down.  We cannot live in guilt today because of something that happened yesterday.  We cannot change the past and we need to live today in victory, not condemnation. Immediately go to God and say, “Father, I’m sorry.  I repent.  Help me to do better next time.”  Then you need to receive God’s forgiveness and mercy and move on.  You may not feel like you deserve it, and the fact is, none of us do.  But that’s what grace is all about.  We are not worthy in ourselves, but because of the sacrifice that Jesus made in our place, God’s grace is more than sufficient for any sins we may commit.  No matter how many mistakes you have made, the Father stands waiting just as in the parable of the prodigal son. He stands before you with His arms held wide open.  If you are far from where you know you ought to be, you need to know that God is waiting for you, and the moment you take one step toward Him, your Father will come running to you.
Remember, God’s mercy and grace is sufficient for you, no matter what.
Develop better relationships
If you want your life to increase, if you want your life to get better, then you need to help improve somebody else’s.  If you will help somebody else become successful, God will make sure that you are successful.  Most people will not reach their full potential without somebody else believing in them.  For this reason it is very important that we should always be encouraging people, building them up, challenging them to reach new heights.  When people are around us they should leave better off than they were previously. 
Encourage others
Take time to make a difference.  Don’t just obsess about how you can make your own life better.  Think about how you can make somebody else’s life better as well. When you encourage someone, don’t focus on who they are right now, rather focus on who they can become.  See the potential on the inside.  They may have some bad habits, or they may be doing some things that you don’t like, but don’t judge them for it.  Rather find some way to challenge them to rise higher.  As a rule, you don’t bring out the best in someone by condemning and criticising, you bring out the best by loving them.  Find something they are doing right and encourage them for that.  If you treat people the way you want them to be, they are much more likely to become that sort of person. 
The closest thing to God’s heart is helping others. 
Form better habits
Your habits, whether good or bad, will greatly determine your future.  One study says that 90 percent of our everyday behaviour is based on our habits;  how we treat people, how we spend our money, what we watch, what we listen to – 90 percent of the time we simply do what we’ve always done.  If you want to change your life you must start by consciously changing your daily habits.  You can’t keep doing the same thing you’ve been doing and expect different results.
  Are you always late getting to work?  Do you worry all the time?  Do you overeat?  Do you regularly succumb to addictions?  It can even be something as simple as an attitude.  If you don’t change your unproductive habits you can go for years wasting time and energy and that is not God’s best.
You can change!
The good news is that you can change.  You can develop better habits.  Most studies of habitual behaviour indicate that a habit can be broken in anything from 21 days to 6 weeks.  In other words, if you will discipline yourself for a month or so, and be willing to suffer through the pain of change, you can rid yourself of a negative behaviour, form a new healthy habit, and rise to a new level of personal freedom.
“All things are permissible to me, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful, but I will not be mastered by anything.”  1 Cor 6:12
Our habits become part of our character.  If you allow yourself to be disorganised or you are always running late, that becomes a part of who you are.   The first step towards changing is to identify what’s holding you back.  Identify any bad habits and then make a decision to do something about them.  It is very important that for every bad habit you want to break, find a new healthy habit to replace it.  For example, you can’t simply decide to stop worrying.  You have to replace the negative thoughts with positive faith-filled thoughts. 
Don’t put it off any longer. Today can be a new beginning!
Embrace the place where you are
You may not be in a great place in your life right now, but resisting and fighting against your current circumstances may not be the answer. If we really believe that God is in control and is directing our steps, then we must believe that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. We need to start handing our lives over to God by praying, “God, I am trusting You.  I know that You are in control of my life.  I may not understand everything that is happening, but I believe You have my best interests at heart.”
Rest in the Lord
The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.”  Ps 46:10. You need to be at peace with where you are right now.  Things may not be perfect.  You may have some areas in which you need to improve, but if you can get to a place of peace, God can fight your battles for you.  He can turn your negative situations around and use them for good.
Hebrews 4:3 says, “Those who have believed enter in to the rest of God.”  Being in God’s rest means that although you may have a problem, you trust Him to take care of it.  It means that you may have a situation that you don’t understand, but you are not constantly trying to figure it out.  It means you have a dream in your heart, but you are not in a hurry, you’re not frustrated because it hasn’t come to fruition yet.  In other words, when you are really in God’s rest, you know that God has you in the palm of His Hand.
Be obedient to God
Throughout life, God will deal with us and bring areas to light where we need to improve.  He often speaks to us through our conscience, or through a still, small voice.  He knows the things that are holding us back.  He knows our weaknesses, faults, and the inner secrets that we keep hidden.  When He brings these matters to our attention, we have to be willing to face the truth about ourselves and take the corrective measures God commands. Whenever we obey, a blessing follows. It may not happen overnight, but at some point, in some way, you will see God’s goodness in your life to a greater measure.  
Anything God asks you to do is for your benefit.  Also, anything God asks of us, He always gives the grace to do it.  If God asks you to forgive somebody, you may not think you can, but if you will take that step of faith, God’s grace will be there to help you.  You don’t get the grace unless you step out.  You have to make the first move.  Deal with the issues God brings to light and learn to obey quickly.  How high you go in life will be directly related to how obedient you are. 
“To whom much is given, much is required.” Luke 12:48
Stay passionate about life
If you want to become a better you, it is important to put the right actions along with your faith.  It’s not enough to believe.  We have to take it one step further and start expecting.  While we are expecting good things from God, we should be making plans.  We need to talk as if what we are praying about is going to happen.
Start preparing for good things. Get your faith going in the right direction.  Start making plans to live a blessed, prosperous, healthy, joy-filled, abundant, long life. “For He will do exceedingly above all you can ask or imagine.”  Eph 3:20.

A Life Without Limbs: NIck Vujicic

A Life Without Limbs: NIck Vujicic
James 1:2  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
To count our hurt, pain and struggle as nothing but pure joy, that’s tough! As my parents were Christians and my Dad a pastor of our church, they knew that verse very well. However, on the morning of the December 4th 1982 in Australia, the last two words on the minds of my parents were “Praise God!” Their first son had been born without limbs! There were no warnings or time to prepare themselves for it. The doctors were shocked and had no answers at all!
The whole church mourned over my birth and my parents were absolutely devastated. “If God is a God of love, then why would He let something like this happen? Especially to dedicated Christians?” My Dad thought I wouldn’t survive for very long, but tests proved that I was a healthy baby boy…just with a few limbs missing.
Bullied for being different
Understandably, my parents had strong concerns and evident fears of what kind of life I’d be able to lead. The first hurdle was for my parents to be at peace and trusting that God was in control. It took a number of months of tears, questions and grief before coming to terms within their own hearts. God provided them strength, wisdom and courage through those early years and soon I was old enough to go to school.
I liked going to school and tried to live life like everyone else, but it was in my early years of school where I encountered uncomfortable times of feeling rejected and weird. I was bullied because of my physical difference. It was very hard for me to get used to, but with the support of my parents, I started to develop attitudes and values which helped me overcome these challenging times. I knew that I was different, but on the inside I was just like everyone else. There were many times when I felt so low that I wouldn’t go to school just so I didn’t have to face all the negative attention. I was encouraged by my parents to ignore this and to try to start making friends by just talking with some kids. Soon the students realised that I was just like them and from that time God kept on blessing me with new friends.
Learning gratitude
There were times when I felt depressed and angry because I couldn’t change the way I was, or blame anyone for that matter. I went to Sunday School and learned that God loves us all and that He cares for you and for me. I understood that love in my capacity as a child, but I didn’t understand how it was possible that a God who loved me could make me limbless? Was it because I did something wrong? I thought I must have because out of all the kids at school, I was the only ‘weird’ one. I felt like I was a burden to those around me and the sooner I went, the better it would be for everyone. I wanted to end my pain and end my life at a young age, but I am thankful once again for my parents and family who were always there to comfort me and give me strength.
As I grew older, God continued to prepare my heart and teach me to seek Him. One of the first lessons that I learned was not to take things for granted. I had that wake up call around the age of twelve and realised just how much I was blessed with. How can I take my foot for granted, my family and all the blessings that God had freely given me, and still complain? I came across Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the best for those who love Him.”
Trusting God’s will
That verse spoke to my heart and convicted me to the point where I knew (and still know!) that there is no such thing as luck, chance or coincidence for the ‘bad’ things that happen in our lives. In James 1:3,4 it says: “Know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
I had complete peace knowing that God won’t let anything happen to us unless He has a good purpose for it all. I completely gave my life to Christ at the age of fifteen after reading John 9. Jesus said that the reason the man was born blind was “so that the works of God may be revealed through him.” I truly believed that God would heal me so I could be a great testimony of His awesome power. Later on I was given the wisdom to understand that if we pray for something, if it’s God’s Will, it’ll happen in His time. If it’s not God’s Will for it to happen, then I know that He has something better. I now see that glory revealed as He is using me just the way I am and in ways others can’t be used.
Taking care of myself
Due to the emotional struggles I experienced with bullying, self esteem and loneliness, God has implanted a passion to share my story and experiences to help others cope with whatever challenge they may have in their lives. I want them to let God turn that challenge into a blessing. I want to encourage and inspire others to live to their fullest potential and not let anything get in the way of accomplishing their hopes and dreams.
I am now twenty-four years old and have completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree majoring in Financial Planning and Accounting. I am also a motivational speaker and love to go out and share my story and testimony wherever opportunities become available. I have developed talks to relate to and encourage students through topics that challenge today’s teenagers. I am also a speaker in the corporate sector.
In recent years, I have learned to become independent and can now take care of all my personal needs. I can do everything from brushing my teeth, combing my hair, getting dressed, taking care of my personal hygiene and even shaving. I get around the house by jumping around and outside the house, I use an electric wheelchair. I love to swim, fish and play soccer. I have a passion for reaching out to youth and keep myself available for whatever God wants me to do. Wherever He leads…I follow.
No arms, no legs, no worries
I want to become the best witness I can be of God’s love and hope; to become an international inspirational speaker and be used as a vessel in both Christian and non-Christian areas; to become financially independent by the age of 25 through real estate investments; to modify a car for me to drive and to be interviewed and share my story on television. Writing several best-selling books has been one of my dreams and I hope to finish writing my first by the end of the year. It will be called, “No Arms, No Legs, No Worries!”
You might think these goals are too far-fetched. However, I believe that if you have the desire and passion to do something, and if it’s God’s Will, you will achieve it in good time. As humans, we continually put limits on ourselves for no reason at all! What’s worse is putting limits on God Who can do all things! We put God in a ‘box’. The awesome thing about the power of God is that if we want to do something for Him, instead of focusing on our capability we need to concentrate on our availability, for we know that it is God working through us and we can’t do anything without Him. 
The battle is the Lord’s
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13. God has a Great Purpose for your life! As far as your unanswered prayers, remember that God is faithful. What are we to do when we are seeking but not finding?  Jer 29:12 “’Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord..”
Take courage my friend for the battle is the Lord’s and I urge you to keep striving for the Truth. For it is the Truth that will set you free and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will reign in your heart. May the Lord bless you as you diligently seek Him and grant you Godly wisdom and strength through your journey.

Honour�s Reward

By John Bevereve
Honour – a rare virtue that holds the power to move us and yet it’s one many of us seldom experience. We see it in movies and are inspired by the characters’ courage and self-sacrifice. We read about it in the Bible and we sometimes catch glimpses of it in people we may know, or even ourselves. Yet it seems foreign that honour can be lived in our every day, ordinary lives. Honour needs to be restored in our lives because it is the essential key to receiving from God. It is for this reason that the enemy of our souls has all but eliminated the true power of this virtue. Honour carries with it great rewards; rewards God desires you to have. Honour has the power to greatly enhance your life and you have the opportunity to learn lessons that many only stumble upon later in life. This is why John urgently said: “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.” 2 John 8

Honour from the heart
To fully understand what honour is, it is useful to look at some definitions. The Greek word for honour is time (pronounced tee-mee) which literally means ’a valuing’. When you speak of the word time to a Greek man he thinks of something valuable, precious and weighty. Other definitions of honour include appreciation, esteem, favourable regard and respect. The opposite of honouring something or someone is to treat them as common, ordinary and menial. The strongest form of dishonour is to be treated shamefully and to be humiliated. Honour can be displayed in action, word and even thought; but all true honour originates from the heart. This is why God says: “In as much as these people draw near with their mouths and honour Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.” Isa 29:13. True honour is an outflow from a heart that fears God.

The Honour Principle
Throughout Scripture there are examples of those who honoured God and those who dishonoured Him. Those who honoured the Lord always received a just reward. As He says in 1 Sam 2:30: “Those who honour Me I will honour, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.” This can be called ‘The Honour Principle’ – those who honour God will be honoured. This is clearly demonstrated by the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with an expensive bottle of perfume. It was equivalent to a year’s wages for the average working man, and she honoured Jesus by lavishly anointing Him. Many were appalled by her behaviour, but Jesus answered: “Let her alone; why are you troubling her? She has done a good and beautiful thing to Me…and surely I tell you, wherever the Good News is proclaimed in the entire world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Mark 14:6-9. Many did great things in the days of Jesus, but none were honoured in this manner or to this degree. Her desire was to honour Jesus, but this outpouring of anointing also positioned her to be honoured by Him.

Honouring God
The only way to walk in true honour is to first and foremost always honour God. Enduring honour is found only in valuing Him above anything or anyone else. We are to esteem, respect and reverence Him as the Great King in our lives. To God alone does our honour transcend to worship. He is worthy of all of our praise and honour to the highest degree.

Honouring those in Authority
Just as we need to honour God, we also need to honour those who have been placed by Him in authority over us. Rom13:1-2 says: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God.” The authorities in our lives include our parents, church leaders, bosses, government leaders and teachers. By honouring those God has placed in leadership over us, the Honour Principle applies and we will be rewarded according to the degree we value the authority. This is particularly important in the tumultuous times we are living in politically. We need to remember that no-one gets appointed as President without God knowing about it. They may not be godly, but they have been allowed by God. Instead of being critical of our leaders we should start to pray for them and thank God for them. Paul said: “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving thanks be made for… all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” 1Tim 2:1-2

Attitudes and actions
This may seem unfair if you are often mistreated or hurt by your leaders, be it your boss, husband or even your pastor. However, if your heart is pure, there will be a just reward. 1 Pet 2:20-21 says: “But if you are treated badly for good behaviour and continue in spite of it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God. This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived.” When we are mistreated and continue to be a good worker, student, civilian or church member we are showing honour at its highest level. It takes the fear of God in our hearts to continue to treat as valuable those who have mistreated us. Paul states: “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” Heb 13:17. Notice that he says we need to both obey and submit to those in authority. Obedience deals with our actions and submission with our attitude. We need to remember that if we don’t honour those over us it is unprofitable for us, not the leader. We lose our reward.

Refuse to sin
However, if we are mistreated and we still honour our leaders we will be rewarded. Once we see beyond the circumstances and focus on this spiritual principle we will never be disappointed. Once you get the Honour Principle deep within your heart, what can anyone do to you? 1 Pet 3:13 says: “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?” Any mistreatment, especially by those in authority over you, is just setting you up for a promotion or a reward if you handle the mistreatment correctly. It is important to note that the Bible teaches unconditional submission to authority, meaning our attitudes always need to be honourable. However, it does not teach unconditional obedience (actions). There is one time where the Bible tells us not to obey an authority, and that is when authority tells us to sin (do something contrary to the Word of God).

Ministers of the Gospel
“Let the elders who rule be counted worthy of double honour, especially those who labour in the Word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain’, and ‘The labourer is worthy of his wages.’” 1 Tim 5:17-18 This is the only place in all of Scripture where you will find “double honour” in regard to authority. We’re to give ministers of the Gospel twice as much honour as we would to other leaders. Practically speaking, how is this done? Our behaviour and speech toward Christian leaders should be with the utmost respect. We should listen attentively when the Word of God is preached. We should look for ways to serve our leaders even when we are not asked. We should strive for excellence in all we do in representing them. Another way to honour our church leaders is with our finances.

Honouring our spouses
1 Pet 3:1: “Wives, be submissive to your husbands so that if any of them do not believe the Word they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives…Husbands, in the same way, be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” It is impossible to have true peace in a home where a wife leads or dominates or where the husband is not respected as the head. The opposite is also true – in homes where the wife submits to her husband and honours his role in the home then the entire family is blessed. Men should treat their wives as ladies. This can be as simple as opening doors for her, protecting her from rude people or deciding on her choice of holiday destination above their own. To lead in the Kingdom is to serve, not to dominate. As a husband, the only time your decisions should override your wife’s desire is when you’re certain it’s the best option for her, the family or the Kingdom of God. This is one reason you are made leader over her, to lay down your life for her. This is honouring your wife and you will be blessed and rewarded, and your prayers will not be hindered.

Living honourable lives
All true honour comes from the heart. One of the most effective ways our hearts are changed is through genuine prayer. Pray daily for God’s love, Holy fear and honour to abound in your hearts for it will continue to bear fruit in your life. When you walk in obedience to the Word of God and live honourably, you will be amazed as you are transformed into being a greater ambassador for the Kingdom of God. Your reward will be great and you will experience joy beyond what you have experienced before. We don’t honour just to get a reward, we honour because it is the heart of God and it is our delight. However, the reward is surer than the seed bringing forth its own fruit. Rewards always follow all true honour.

Honouring one another
Honour gives preference to others because it values and esteems them. Paul said: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honour giving preference to one another.” Rom 12:10. By loving others and treating them as we would like to be treated ourselves is a demonstration of honour and respect. Living out the love of the Lord in our hearts is the greatest testimony we can give. Matt 25:40: “Assuredly I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Once you’ve asked God to put honour in your heart for all people, your whole life will change. You’ll treat the waiter differently, the petrol attendant, your colleagues, your friends and your family. It will become a way of life.

Honouring our children
Our children also need to be honoured. Parents dishonour their children not only by harsh or negative words they speak, but also by neglecting to communicate praise or acceptance at the appropriate time. Children require frequent encouragement, direction and affirmation. They need to be told, as well as shown, that they are loved and valued. It is also dishonourable to withhold discipline. It is imperative to correct our children when they do wrong so that they too may learn how to live honourably. God bestows a valuable reward through our children and we need to prove faithful by honouring them. Ps 127:3 says: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.”

Honourable finances
We are told to honour God with our finances in Prov 3:9: “Honour the Lord with your possessions and with the first fruits of all your increase.” One way we can honour God is by giving Him our money. The question is, how do we do that? And the answer is simple: By giving it to the one He sends you. Tithes and offerings are there not only to bless others, but to bless us as well. When we withhold our tithes or offerings we only harm ourselves because we are dishonouring God. He clearly says so in Mal 3:8: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.” He continues to say: “’Bring all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this’, says the Lord of Hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’” This is just another way to honour our Christian leaders, and in doing so, reaping rewards in our own lives too.

Extracted from John Bevere’s latest book, ‘Honour’s Reward’ . Used with permission.

Discipline – The key to living life at another level

How many of you wake up wanting to be ordinary? Average? Same old, same old? No! We all wake up wanting a happy, healthy and successful life. It is the way God destined us to be and we can attain that if we embrace His Biblical principles. As Christians we are not exempt from hardship and tests, but we can live above our circumstances like the apostle Paul did (Phil 4:12) by embracing the Biblical principle of self discipline. (1 Tim 3) Delayed gratification is almost a foreign concept in today’s world. We want everything now and we aren’t prepared to wait. In 1960, Walter Mischel conducted a famous test amongst 4 year olds called the ‘marshmallow experiment’. Several children were given a marshmallow and were told they could eat it now or wait for 15 minutes, and if they did that, they would receive 3 more. The researchers then tracked the children into adulthood seeing how the ones who waited fared compared to the kids who sacrificed 3 extra sweets in favour of immediate gratification. Not surprisingly, the children with the self discipline to wait were far more successful than those who could not wait.  

Pay now, play later
Success in life doesn’t come easily. The key ingredient for success in our nation, the Body of Christ, our families and our careers, is self-discipline. Rules and order are part of self-discipline. John Maxwell once said: “You can pay now and play later, or play now and pay later.” If you mess around in your life now, you will pay the price later when you are retired and have to live on dogfood! But if you discipline yourself and your finances and if you plan and prepare for your future, you will reap the due rewards.  

Mastering yourself
Listen to a few quotes on discipline. In his book, ‘When the buck stops with you’, Former US President Harry S. Truman said: “When reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves; self-discipline with all of them came first.” George Washington, a great founding father of America, noted: “Nothing is more harmful to the service (army) than the neglect of discipline. For that discipline (more than numbers) gives superiority over another.” Self discipline is the making of character, and a lack of it, the unmaking of character. It is defined as orderliness, self-restraint (being able to say no) and self control. To discipline is to check, regulate and train…it is the root word from which we get disciple. Have you ever noticed in life that we look up to those people who have discipline? Talented athletes, commited academics, successful businessmen and great leaders all possess the discipline to be the best they can be. As humans, we tend to look down on people who are slovenly, lazy and always in trouble. Christians are meant to be looked up to. We are the ‘salt and light’ in society and we can only have that influence in other’s lives, when we ourselves have been influenced by God’s principles. You need self discipline over your mind, thinking, attitude, emotions and behaviour if you are ever truly going to achieve what God has for you. The younger you start, the better. Parents, it is your duty to instill discipline into your children – it will save them much heartache and destruction later on in life. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Prov 22:6  

Check, regulate, train
When built into your life at a young age, self discipline brings benefits later on. My mother was determined to teach me manners and excellence. I didn’t have a father, but she invested self-discipline in my life. Don’t let your kids do what they want…teach them what they should do.  

External vs Internal Discipline
When dealing with children (and adults!) there are two types of discipline we must be aware of. Self-discipline is internal whereas external discipline is necessary for instructing your children. If you train your children correctly it will give them internal discipline. They will empty the bin and polish their shoes themselves. When you get saved, the same thing applies – you are a child of God and the church’s responsibility is to discipline you. Guard your heart against rebellion because if you embrace discipline, it will become part of your value system and you will live at another level and see the blessing of God in your life. Jesus was a role model and we are to imitate Him. Don’t ignore training just because you are in the church. If you don’t discipline yourself, the world will discipline you. If you don’t curb your desires, you will end up fired, in prison, in trouble and in a mess. External discipline is for immature people; internal discipline is for mature people. Immature people require threat, punishment and rules for results. Mature people have it come from within. It gives you internal motivation. Responsibility actually gives you freedom. Isn’t it funny how people are so anxious to improve their circumstances, but not themselves. 

5 Pillars of Self-discipline
These are not difficult, are easily accessible to all and will work if you just do it! They are a whip, but a whip for your own good.  Acceptance – knowing who you are. Knowing what God has done for you. Do you accept who you are, your weaknesses and your strengths? Don’t lie to yourself – know your tendencies and then you will know how to deal with them.  Willpower – a decision with a plan. Every day I determine what I will eat for the day, otherwise I might sit in my study with my stomach ruling over me! If I follow what it says I will go down a road of bad health. You need to have a measure and by making a decision to be disciplined, you are already half way there. But don’t get legalistic either. God has come to set us free!  Hard work – life is not easy.  Industry – a term for using your time wisely. It is not difficult to have self-discipline if you are wise with your time and talents. When you have free time, read a book, develop yourself, build relationships, improve yourself, read the Word of God…and don’t just slump in front of the TV with a bag of chips. Sin creeps in where lack of self-discipline exists. Jesus said in Matt 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”  Perseverance – Press on! (1 Cor 9:24 – 27). We are all in the same race together. Practise self discipline to win the eternal prize which is to fulfill the plans God has for you. 

The benefits of discipline
1. When you are self-disciplined, it enables you to take the right action regardless of how you feel. Feelings are the greatest challenge to self-discipline. Self-disciplined people don’t let their emotions decide how hard they work, how committed they are to their marriages, or if they go to church. This is not only by will power – we have the Holy Spirit and the Grace of God.
2. As self-discipline increases, so the challenges decrease. The more disciplined we become, the easier life gets. You can lose a loved one, be retrenched from your job, be tired, get betrayed by someone at church – but you can cope with all of it because you have self-discipline and the Holy Spirit. Self-discipline builds your capacity for more…
3. It is the key ingredient to success. No matter if you have talent, passion or academic qualifications, you can not move ahead without self-discipline. Mastering yourself is the key. Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.
4. It is the only way to harness your potential. Notice the word harness. Roy Smith says: “Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.” People just want the classy lunches, fancy gifts, wining and dining. No horse gets anywhere unless he is harnessed. Heb 12: 7 – 12 “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true  sons. Moreover, we have all had humanfathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!Our fathers disciplined us for a little while
as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at
the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” 

Evaluate yourself!
Emotions: Can you control them? Do you get depressed and sulk when things don’t go your way? Do you freak out and punch people?
Finances – Do you just spend, spend, spend? Do you live in bondage to debt and your credit card?
Passion & Appetites – drinking, drugs, sex…Are you feeding your spirit or your flesh?
Relationships – “I speak my mind”; “People must take me or leave me.” These attitudes are not examples of selfdiscipline. We need to be approachable and display the fruits of the Spirit . Gal 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Attitudes – Are you in control of your attitude? It is a choice…I will rejoice in the Lord. I will sing on a Sunday morning. A good attitude is a selfdiscipline.
Time – time is like money. Do you use it wisely? Each one of us will give an account for our time, our talents and our words.
Your thoughts – Romans 12:2
Your tongue – James 3

André Olivier, Senior Pastor of Rivers Church, Sandton and one of the team of national leaders of the Assemblies of God Group South Africa. Andre is married to Wilma and they have three children,

The Fire of God

The Fire of God
There are so many Scriptures that reveal God as Fire. John the Baptist foretold of our Great Saviour to come…“I indeed baptise you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I’m not worthy to carry.  He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  Matt 3:11-12.  When the Lord made His Covenant with Abraham He revealed Himself as a burning torch. He also revealed Himself to Moses through the burning bush. The children of Israel were led through the wilderness by the presence of God manifested by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 
When King David and King Solomon built an altar to the Lord and offered sacrifices, calling on the Lord, God answered him from Heaven by sending fire on the altar (1 Chron 21:26).“When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from Heaven and consumed the burnt offering on the sacrifices: and the Glory of the Lord filled the temple.” 2 Chron 7:1
The Prophet Elijah challenged the false prophets of Baal to a contest on Mount Carmel.  They would each build an altar and lay on it wood and a sacrifice, “And the god who answers by fire, He is God.”  1 Kings 18:24. Do you have a vision of the Holiness of God?  Do you have an understanding of the depravity of man?  Do you repent of your own sinfulness?  Have you experienced the fire of God purging your sin?  When the Lord commissioned His followers to be His Witness “to the ends of the earth” He promised: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” Acts 1:8
The Church was born in the fires of Pentecost. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind and it filled the whole house.  Then there appeared to them divided tongues as of fire and one sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”  Acts 2:1-3. When the Sanhedrin threatened the disciples severely “that from now on they speak to no man in this Name”,  Peter and John answered: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.  For we cannot but speak of the things which we have seen and heard.”  Acts 4:17-20
Brings boldness
The disciples united in prayer: “‘Now, look on their threats, and grant Your servants that with all boldness they may speak your Word…’ and when they had prayed the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:29-31
Saul, the persecutor of the Church, encountered the Lord Jesus in a blinding flash of light which shone around him from Heaven. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Acts 9:3-5
Saul the persecutor became Paul the Apostle and missionary of Christ.  Later, the Apostle Paul would warn: “Do not put out the Holy Spirit’s fire.” I Thess 5:19
While in exile on the Mediterranean island of Patmos, the Apostle John had a vision of the Lord Jesus standing in the midst of the seven lampstands; “His eyes were a flame of fire: His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace and His voice as the sound of many waters. He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.  And when I saw Him I fell at His feet as dead.” Rev 1:13-18
Creates unity
Have you experienced the baptism of fire? Have you seen a vision of the Holiness of God?  Do you know what it is to be led by the Lord?  Have you experienced His anointing?  Have you been purged and purified by the fire of God? 
Oswald Chambers in ‘My Utmost For His Highest’ wrote: “The Holy Spirit must anoint for the work…nothing but the fire of the most Holy Spirit of God can make my offering Holy and unblameable and acceptable.”
Andrew Murray taught: “The one thing needful for the Church, and the one thing, which above all others, men ought everywhere to seek for with one accord and with their whole heart, is to be filled with the Spirit of God.”
Charles Spurgeon, wrote: “Oh God, send us the Holy Spirit! Give us both the breath of spiritual life and the fire of unconquerable zeal.  You are our God.  Answer us by fire, we pray to You! Answer us both by wind and fire, and then they will see You to be God indeed.  The Kingdom comes not, and the work is flagging.  Oh, that You would send the wind and the fire! And You will do this when we are all of one accord, all believing, all expecting, all prepared by prayer.”
Refines the heart
John Calvin described the Church as “the fellowship of the flaming heart.”  His personal emblem was a heart aflame in the Hand of God. Are you on fire for Christ? We need doctrinal steel in our backbones and Holy Spirit fire in our bellies. 
“‘Is not My Word like a fire?’ Says the Lord, ‘and like a hammer that breaks the rocks in pieces?’” Jer 23:29. Ezekiel saw the fire of God.  Daniel described God’s eyes like fire. Hosea described God’s coming inferno. Joel wrote of God’s fiery presence. Obadiah saw the fire of God in the middle of His people. Micah saw the mountains melt like wax before the fire of God.  Nahum foresaw the Day of God’s fiery Judgment.  Zephaniah saw the fire of God’s Holy jealousy.  Zechariah saw God’s burning presence like a blazing wall, with His Glory revealed within.  Malachi spoke of God’s refining fire to purge, purify and strengthen His people.
After they met with the Lord, the disciples on the road to Emmaus declared: “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us.” Luke 24:32
Provides power
Have you heard the Word of God? Has your heart burned within you? The Lord God required that in the Tabernacle “a fire shall always be burning on the altar: it shall never go out.” Lev 6:13. This perpetual flame was to communicate God’s purifying, penetrating, powerful Presence with His people.
Jesus taught His followers: “You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and that gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Matt 5:14-16
On the Day of Pentecost, the fire of God, the wind of the Holy Spirit, and the living waters of Jesus Christ moved in great power and the Church was born. Do you know what it is have the fire of God’s Word burn within you?  Do you know what it is to have the wind of the Holy Spirit lead and guide you?  “Our God is a consuming fire.”


Often, when we are suffering illness, injustice, unfair treatment, frustrations and traumatic situations, we cry out ‘Why’? Why do bad things happen to good people? For what reason am I suffering? Perhaps we should ask ourselves why Christ suffered. He was the only truly good, perfect and completely unselfish person who has ever walked this earth. Yet Christ suffered. Jesus was misunderstood, slandered, falsely accused and lied about. People accused Him of being insane. He was accused of being demon possessed! Some accused Him of a being a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and outcasts. He was accused of teaching people not to pay their taxes, and of inciting riots The religious leaders made plans to kill Jesus. One of His handpicked disciples, Judas, betrayed Him. Jesus was forsaken by His friends and followers. Many of His disciples turned back and would not follow Him any more. When Jesus was arrested all of His disciples left Him and ran away.

Christ’s Example
Jesus was unjustly arrested, illegally tried and wrongly condemned. Our Lord Jesus Christ was mocked, insulted, slapped, beaten, whipped and crucified. Christ Himself suffered for us and left us an example to follow in His steps. Many people may consider teaching on suffering to be negative. It is not negative to teach on the reality of everyday life. To recognise that suffering is inevitable is not discouraging at all. The Lord does not keep us from suffering, He keeps us in suffering. And the Lord has never expected us to do anything for Him that He has not already willingly done for us. Our Lord and Saviour has led from the front, by example.

Apostles Example
The Apostles taught: “We must through many tribulations enter the Kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22. In this way Paul and Barnabas strengthened the followers of Christ and encouraged them to continue in the Faith. It is always a privilege to suffer for our Lord Jesus Christ. The suffering is temporary, but the glory is eternal. We should note the example of the Apostles, who, rather than claim comfort, safety and luxury at home, chose rather to suffer for Christ while obeying the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. After a lifetime of church planting, the Apostle Peter was crucified upside down in Rome. After fearless preaching, James the elder was beheaded by Herod in Palestine. Whilst preaching the Gospel in Greece, Andrew was crucified. After preaching to the Gauls, Phillip died as a martyr in Asia minor. Nathanial preached the Gospel in India and Armenia before being flayed alive and beheaded. Thomas established churches throughout Babylon and India before being axed to death. Matthew was burned to death for preaching the Gospel in Abyssinia. James the younger was crucified while evangelising in Egypt. Jude preached the Gospel throughout Syria and Persia before being martyred. Simon the Zealot preached the Word throughout Syria and Mesopotamia and was sawn in half in Persia. Matthias was crucified on a missionary outreach in the Crimea (present day Ukraine). John was banished in exile to Patmos. (He was the only one of the Apostles who was not martyred.)

All will Suffer
“Yes, and all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2 Tim 3:12. Not some. Not many. Not even most. All. And not may suffer persecution, but will.

Genuine Faith
So what then is the purpose of suffering in the Christian life? The Apostle Peter wrote: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuiness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, that is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” 1 Pet 1:6-7 The Apostle James encourages us: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience….Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:2,3,12

Pursuing Purity
Suffering purifies us and prepares us for special service. All of God’s great men knew great suffering while God purged and prepared them for His service. Joseph experienced twelve years in slavery and prison before being raised up to be governor of Egypt. Moses spent forty years in the desert before becoming the deliverer of Israel. David was an outlaw and a fugitive for years before becoming the King of Israel. The Bible is full of examples of great men of Faith, enduring sufferings for the Lord. There is no shortcut to maturity. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Rom 8:28.

Dr Peter Hamm ond is the author of The Power of Prayer Handbook .

Forgiveness after adultery?

By Dr. Harold J. Sala 

Her husband had betrayed his vows. He had had a fling with a woman he worked with, and now he realised what he must do. To confess his wrong doing to his wife whom he really loved was the hardest thing he had ever done. He knew what he had done was stupid and selfish. And now he had to face the music. Would she forgive him? He wasn’t sure. Of course, she was shocked. She knew that this happened to other women, but she never thought that her husband was capable of doing this to her. Besides, there were four children – two boys and two girls. Something inside kept saying, “Throw the bum out. He violated a sacred trust. He betrayed you. How can you ever be sure that he won’t do it again?” This wife, heartbroken, turned to an older woman, a trusted friend – “What should I do?” For years Margaret had counselled and worked with women. She had seen the effects of broken homes, the bitterness of vengeance and the loneliness of estrangement. She had also seen restoration and healing which can come when someone seeks forgiveness, both from God and from a mate. Margaret tried to help her see the implications of either choice. “Honey,” she said. “You have four children to think of as well–not just yourself. If I were you, I would forgive him.” It was a decision which was not easy. Of course it took time for the relationship to mend and heal. Bones can be set in a matter of a few minutes but the pain slowly subsides. And the therapy which follows gradually strengthens the hurting limb. So it is with the process of forgiveness. Saying, “I forgive you” doesn’t automatically take away the momentary feeling of panic when your husband isn’t home on time, or the phone rings and you hear a woman’s voice which you do not recognise asking if your husband is at home. The wife who faced the dilemma is now a grandmother and her children have married and have children of their own. She doesn’t traipse from seminar to seminar telling how she learned to forgive. No. Four people will carry that dark thought to their graves with them, but not any of their children. The incident was dealt with and gradually the grace of God brought restoration and healing. God not only demonstrated forgiveness in sending His Son, but He also commanded us to forgive just as He forgave our sins. Is forgiveness good medicine for the hurts of the world? There is none better. When we have been hurt, it is hard to think of the implications – the manner in which others are affected – because our pain becomes paramount. The reality is that when children grow up in a home without two parents, the chances of their marriages coming apart is statistically greater than when we learn to forgive and to move on. 

Forgive as Christ forgave us
Only a fool would suggest that forgiveness is an easy matter. It isn’t. But neither is the feel of a scalpel without anesthesia, or the sharp wrench of a broken bone as the doctor sets the fracture so healing can take place. Separation from the one who has hurt you may make you feel vindicated, but it leaves an emptiness and an anger which doesn’t go away. A final thought: When you are uncertain about forgiving someone, may I suggest that you do what the woman I described did? Go to a mature, godly person who will help you see the whole picture. If you look long enough, you’ll find someone who will tell you exactly what you want to hear. But wise counsel is a gift from God. It rarely is what you want to hear, but a generation later, you’ll be very, very glad you took the path less travelled. Of that, I am certain. For further reading: Ephesians 4.

Dr. Harold J. Sala , Married to Darlene. Founder and President of Guidelines International. Internationally respected speaker, author and Bible teacher. Reprinted with permission, Assist News

Two Toned Twins

Two Toned Twins
Believe it or not, these two beautiful little girls are twins. Born in April 2005 in Nottingham, UK, blue – eyed Remee (on the left in main photo) would be called ‘white’, while many would label her brown – eyed sister, Kian as ‘black’.
The twins soon became the focus of much media attention. News reports described how both of their parents, Kylie Hodgson and Remi Horder, have white mothers and black fathers. These two little girls help answer one of the questions that has troubled many people about the Bible. If there was just one man and one woman at the beginning then where did all the ‘races’ come from, with their different skin colours? Remee and Kian prove that it is simply a matter of genetics – with the right genes, all the different complexions can appear in one generation. So if Adam and Eve had a middle-brown complexion due to a mixture of ‘light’ and ‘dark’ genetic information, similar to Remee and Kian’s parents, all shades from the darkest through to the lightest could be accounted for in their children and future generations.
Kian and Remee also illustrate the Biblical truth that we are all related – we all belong to the same family through Adam and Eve, and through Noah and his family too, just as the Bible says.
Reference and notes

Laing, L.,Twins in a million, The Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 12 March 2006, p.3.
ABC News, One twin’s white, the other’s black –  twins parents both have white mothers, black fathers, , 19 September 2006.
The pigment responsible for skin ‘colour’ is melanin. If we have a lot of this pigment we are very dark (‘black’). If we don’t have much of this pigment our complexion will be fair (‘white’). See the creation Answers Book, chapter 18: ‘How did the different ‘races’ arise?’ Creation Ministries International, Brisbane, Australia, 2006 (available via addresses p.2)

Establishing a little individuality is a challenge faced by most twins. But nature has already given Alicia and Jasmin Singerl a helping hand. Many do a double take when they realise Alicia is black while Jasmin is white and they are sisters.  Experts say the chance of twins being born with such different physical characteristics is about a million to one.  The Australian sisters, who were conceived naturally,  live with their parents in Burpengary, north of Brisbane.
Their mother, Natasha Knight, 35, is of mixed-race Jamaican-English heritage, while their father Michael Singerl, 34, is a white German.   “When they were born you could see there was a colour difference straight away. We couldn’t believe it.  Alicia’s eyes were brown and her hair was dark. Jasmin’s eyes were blue and her hair was white – you could hardly see her hair or her eyebrows.  Someone even asked me if I was sure there wasn’t a mix-up at the hospital. But there was no mix-up – they are my girls and they are both so beautiful.”
“When we go out people stop and ask if they are twins. Other people will look but not say anything. Maybe they think I am babysitting one of them. It will be interesting when they go to school and they will probably wonder why they look so different from each other. I guess the easiest way to explain it will be to say one took after Mum, one took after Dad.”
Genetics experts say that in most cases a mixed-race woman’s eggs will be a mixture of genes for both black and white skin.  However, more rarely, the eggs may contain genes for predominantly one skin colour.
In this case, there were two such eggs, one with dark pigmentation genes and one fair.  Clinical geneticist Dr Stephen Withers said the likelihood of a mixed-race woman having eggs that were predominantly for one skin colour was rare enough, let alone producing two of them, resulting in twins.
“It’s probably a million to one,” he said. “It’s a terrifically rare phenomenon.”