Discovering the joy of submission

by Audrey Hardy
As the Lord’s return draws closer, I am confident that God has great things in store for women – thus the need to take our place and understand our role in these times.
Having travelled extensively with my husband over the past 15 years, visiting churches and staying with church leaders in their homes, I have encountered deep needs among women everywhere, and witnessed many extremes… from women running churches and competing with men for positions of authority, to women being treated as second class citizens, blindly submitting to their husbands in obedience to Ephesians 5: “Wives submit to your husbands…”
Sadly, many women today do so begrudgingly and not in freedom – often harbouring anger, bitterness and resentment in their hearts. As a pastor’s wife, I too have experienced difficult times in my marriage and in my service for the Lord, but it was the other extreme. I have known what it is to compete with my husband, and the elders of our church, trying to hold on to a position I was convinced was rightfully mine. It led me to exercise an authority in the flesh, and this resulted in problems within the church and our family – I even contemplated divorce! Yet, all along, I genuinely wanted to serve the Lord, but didn’t realise that my service to Him was not worth much with my life in that state. I praise God for my husband, Miki, who, when we needed it the most, decided to take the road of the cross and was willing to pay the price, to humble himself, and to die to self, for me – just as Jesus gave His life for the Church. It saved our marriage!
Looking back, I realise that my heart had become hard. God had to break me so I could accept Miki as he was and submit to him, instead of forever trying to change him into the person I wanted him to be! As I started to feel his heart for me, I dropped my defences and began to discover the security and rest found in true submission – not out of law or principle – but from the heart.
To take my place alongside Miki, and be a support to him, became my priority – I had nothing to lose or fear. The call of God on my life was still going to be fulfilled, but with the right heart!
Today, I can happily say that Miki and I have become best friends – something I never thought possible. I realise that his responsibility as a servant of God is far greater than mine and for nothing in the world would I want to be in his shoes… I have so much respect and admiration for him, for the way he has given his life and serves the church. I now can understand the respect Sarah had for Abraham!
My relationship with the pastors of the church has never been better. I have found my place and rejoice in serving the Lord, my family, the church, and those in need with the gifts He has given me, but in rest and not under pressure as I had done in the past.
Thank God for the revelation of the Gospel of the Cross, and the message of grace. It has changed my life as a Christian and brought peace to our home and in the church!
To my dear brothers, I can only say: if you truly want your home to glorify God and your wife to become a support to you – take up your cross! Allow the Lord to work in your heart and change you. Let your precious wife feel your heart for her; not by buying her flowers, but by being willing to die for her, to humble yourself… and watch the Lord work the greatest miracle in your marriage!   
AUDREY HARDY, is married to Michel (Miki) Hardy and together they lead Church Team Ministries International. For more information please see OF theJOY Sadly, many women today do so begrudgingly and not in freedom – often harbouring anger, bitterness and resentment in their hearts. discovering

Love and sex – Knowing the difference, makes the difference

Sexual dissatisfaction is one of the fastest growing concerns among married people today. Despite all their dreams of great sex during their married years, many couples consider their sex lives to be a major let-down. Some blame it on poor technique, physical inadequacy or a lack of interest. But for most of these couples, their sexual disappointment can be traced back to a basic misunderstanding of the relationship between love and sex.
Increasingly today, love and sex are portrayed synonymously. If you’re in love, the world suggests, you should also be in bed. In an effort to experience love, many people destroy the thing that was meant to communicate it at the deepest level. If we truly understood the difference between love and sex, it would change our whole perspective on dating and marriage.
Let’s explore together the differences between love and sex. I’m sure you’ll agree our source of information needs to be somewhat wiser than another confused human being. The One who created love, sex and you and me has to be the best guide for understanding what we find confusing.

Walk in Love, Don’t Fall in Love
Our problem, however, is that loving isn’t easy. You and I simply don’t have the power to always forgive or be consistently kind. Our love, strength, will and understanding don’t stretch that far. We don’t have the power to love this way unless we are so filled with God’s love that we recognise that our deepest needs have already been met and we’re no longer expecting another human being to complete us.
It boils down to this: We will not be able to imitate God in our love for others unless we know that we are blessed, valuable and significant – that we are loved. The God who made us and loves us tells us to live and love like He sees us and like He loves us. This is why the idea that having a great relationship is all about finding the right person is a lie. The key to developing a great relationship is becoming the right person.
Walking in love means something much deeper than taking long strolls on the beach or wandering hand-in-hand through the mall. In fact, walking in love means that we love each other in “exactly the same way that Christ loved us” Eph 5:1-2. How did Christ love us? He gave Himself up for you. So, here’s the deeper application: Walking in love is about sacrificial commitment. It means giving the other person what he or she needs the most when it is least deserved, because that’s exactly how God has treated you.

Let me summarise God’s prescription for lasting relationships in four steps.
Step 1 – Instead of looking for the right person, become the right person.
Step 2 – Instead of falling in love, walk in love.
Step 3 –Instead of fixing your hopes and dreams on another person, fix your hope on God and seek to please Him through this relationship.
Step 4 –If failure occurs, repeat steps 1, 2 and 3.

What did Paul say about sex?
In Ephesians 5:3 – 4 the apostle Paul gives us a picture of the negative results that occur when we fail to walk in love or to understand the difference between love and sex. We have got to remember that sex is not wrong and God is not a prude. Sex is not a sin to be avoided but a gift to be cherished.
You and I want genuine intimacy. We want to have relationships that matter. We long for someone to feel deeply loved because of us. We also want to be loved and cherished and cared for by someone else. However, Paul says certain things will squelch and destroy love and break relationships. These are crucial warnings. If we are going to love somebody, we will not take, exploit, or cheapen him or her. We will not engage in sexual activity to create pseudo intimacy that’s false because we don’t really care and we’re not really committed. We won’t substitute sex for authentic intimacy.

Why giving thanks is so important
The verses above tell us that each of the speaking modes (filthiness, silly talk and course jesting) is to be replaced by giving of thanks. So how does gratefulness provide an adequate substitute for the way we typically speak and act? First, thankfulness has an objective – we’re thankful to someone. Second, we’re thankful for something. If we develop a deep gratefulness to God for all He’s done for us and given to us, we also will develop a deep respect for the way we treat what we have.           
Knowing that we have been made in the image of God, who loves us, how could we not be overwhelmed by the privilege of getting to know and cherish another person equally made in God’s image? When I am grateful for the relationship I have, I find it very hard to be interested in someone else. And the same is true for you, whether single or married. The act of perpetual giving thanks for what God has given you and what He has in store for you is the greatest antidote against the onslaught of mental pollution that bombards all of us daily concerning this beautiful gift of sex.

So, what’s the difference between love and sex?
Sex is one of the servants of love. They are different in that love is much greater than sex, but love and sex are designed to function in harmony. When love becomes the servant of sex, chaos results. Our culture has become confused about the difference between love and sex in two ways: (1) We have tried to separate love and sex, describing sex as a harmless and meaningless form of casual entertainment between people who have no lasting commitment
(2) We have tried to make sex and love almost synonymous, so that great love means great sex and great sex means great love.

There’s a direct connection between your current sexual lifestyle and the sex life you will enjoy in the future. Whether you’re single or married, the decisions you make today will have a direct impact on the quality of your sexual experiences in the months and years to come. Some people will bear consequences for their choices and others will receive dividends.

Chip Ingram is the president of Walk Thru the Bible, an international resource and training organisation. He is married to Theresa and they have four children and two grandchildren. For more information contact Walk Thru the Bible on (011) 782 4222 or

Tony Dungy – God’s Superbowl Hero

Tony Dungy – God’s Superbowl Hero
Recently I was watching the 41st American Football Superbowl on TV when the Indianapolis Colts played the Chicago Bears. As a South African born and bred on rugby, I have found an increasing enjoyment of the American watered down version. This year I was routing for the Indy Colts to win and after four quarters of tough American football in the rain my preferred team won! But, it wasn’t the game that really got me excited – it’s what happened at the handing over of the Vince Lombardi Trophy that really spoke to me.
As I watched the presentation of the trophy to the winners my interest was pricked when the owner of the Indianapolis Colts franchise thanked God for their victory, and for forging them into a team, and that he wanted all the glory to go to God. He then handed the trophy to the head coach Tony Dungy who also thanked the Lord for the victory and for helping them successfully negotiate the season.
When Tony was asked what he felt about being the first African American head coach to win the Superbowl, he replied that although he was extremely proud of representing the African American coaches and excited to be the first, he was more proud of the fact that he and fellow coach Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears were able to show the world that being a Christian coach and doing it the Lord’s way doesn’t mean you can’t succeed at the highest level. I sat up when I heard that and listened with great interest what the news and sports commentators where going to say of Tony and his comments. Every year the Superbowl is watched by over a billion viewers and is the biggest sporting event in America. I was curious to see if the commentators were going to take offence to Tony’s open testimony of the God he serves.
As I watched the comments being made on Prime Time and SportCenter after the game it became abundantly clear that Tony was a true ambassador for Christ and that his faith and integrity are admired and respected by most. At one point I wondered if I was watching a church service because one by one each commentator praised Tony’s ethics, his way of dealing with his players and his faith that clearly is witnessed and respected by the players. The men acknowledged that all these elements, together with his uncompromising family life and work ethic, led the team to success.
It was starting to sound like the kind of comments you hear at a funeral where people say what they admired in the deceased but this time it was the world admiring a Christian’s lifestyle and commenting on how refreshing it is! I hope people all over can learn from this kind of example. After reading up about Tony and being reminded of Paul the Apostle’s words were he said “follow me as I follow Christ” I truly believe that Tony Dungy can use those words in the area of sports. We have seen so many bad examples of Christian testimony in the sporting arena and then we have seen the real disciples of Christ living out their faith in their work place, which is the sporting world.
I believe there are some lessons that athletes and sports professionals can learn from Tony Dungy in fact, lessons that all of us should learn. Tony’s testimony was really powerful because:
He is humble
As Tony spoke and commentated he acknowledged all who went before, his peers and his team but also he did not diminish his own contribution. I believe many Christians find themselves on one of two extremes either they focus on how great they are or how awesome God is and how totally insignificant they are almost bordering on false humility. God has done what he has done through you, you are his vessel and He values you, so value yourself but acknowledge your total dependence on God. “…All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5
He perseveres
Tony has been to the playoffs with his team numerous times over the last couple of years never being able to take them that one step further. But this year his perseverance paid off and they went all the way. People respect those who push through and fight adversity, we often don’t want to be those people but we admire and appreciate those who are. It sends a message that it is possible and that certainly, as Christians, should be our testimony. For sports and in life we have to know how to lose and learn from loss and get stronger, smarter and quicker. Romans 5:3-5 says “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
He prioritizes
Tony never wavered from his faith in God, his faith in his family and his belief in what he was doing. Those were the comments of sports presenters as they commented on this achievement. This is something that we need to learn. So many people prioritise work over their family and family over their relationship with God. In life it should never be an either or if we fail to find the Godly balance between God, family and work we will lose out in one area and will have no testimony at all. We need to remain deeply committed to God, we need to love and spend time with our families and we need to work hard as unto the Lord. In Ecclesiastes 3:1, the Bible tells us that “there is a time for everything under the sun.” That means we need to prioritise the things we believe in and hold dear to them because there is time for them to come to pass. As we sow these seeds and trust God in faith, He will bless them.
He lives by his beliefs
Tony is an example of someone living out what he says he believes. In an interview, Tony said the following:  “Football is a profession that is judged by performance and results. However, those things come and go so quickly that as a coach, I have to base my career on something more. The inspiration for my coaching model comes from Jesus. He has taught me that my job is more than just showing my guys how to block and tackle. It’s also about influence. I want to show both players and fans that being a Christian and being successful are not mutually exclusive. We tend to think head coaches have to be cutthroat, squeezing everything possible out of their players. I disagree. Players want to win. If I provide them with a good environment, show them how it’s done, and encourage them, we’re going to have a team – and a record – that we can be proud of.”
2 John 1:6  “…And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”
One of the main reasons why people don’t accept Jesus as there Saviour is because they say that Christians are hypocrites. Whilst Christians aren’t perfect and this kind of comment is often a smoke screen, it is vital that we live out our faith in a real, genuine and authentic way on the sports field, in the work place and every other area where we live out our lives. The testimony of Tony as observed by others is that he is consistent and lives out his beliefs in every area. Thank you Tony for your example. Thank you for showing us a God honouring testimony and I know that many people all around the world would have been spoken to by your character and godliness. I know I was.   
Using your influence for Christ
Looking at the Superbowl achievement and seeing Tony Dungy’s testimony shining through, that achievement, has left me wondering how many Christians have the opportunity to make a difference for Jesus but don’t.
In Galatians 6:10 it says “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…” The point is we all have the opportunity to influence others and make a stand for the Kingdom of God, although we have opportunity, too many of us fail to take them. I was chatting to a friend who was telling me why she recommitted her life to Jesus, she said that she was at a weekend retreat when a friend who knew her quite well was amazed to find out that she is a Christian. Her friend told her she would never have known.
My friend told me that as she heard those words she was reminded of Jesus words which say “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:26 She recommitted her life to the Lord and made a decision to use whatever opportunity she had to using her influence in life to make a difference in this world for Jesus Christ. We all have influence and it’s crucial that we use it for God, we need to move away from a “Sunday only” Christian mentality.
In the book of Esther we read about Queen Esther who was placed in an influential position to effectively save the Jewish nation from an evil man Haman who was bent on trying to wipe out the Jews. She had the opportunity to use her position of influence. Before she took the step of faith, which was accompanied by great risk, the words of Mordecai galvanized her resolve. Est 4:14
“If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
Who knows if you are in your job for such a time as this, who knows if you are in your family for such a time as this. Use your position of influence and make a difference for Jesus in your world. God is wanting to set up ‘Superbowl moments’ so have faith for that and be determined to be a part of the team that makes it happen.
A.W. Tozer said “God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible – what a pity that we plan only the things we can do by ourselves.” Here are some practical pointers that will help you to use your influence for God:

Keep Jesus as your motivation. 2 Cor 4:5 “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”  Do what you do because of your love for Jesus. He sees.
Look for the right moment – not the “perfect” moment. There will never be a perfect moment. Gal 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Refuse to listen to your fears. We’re afraid of making someone mad or hurting someone’s feelings. And that’s where faith comes in. Faith says, “I’m going to believe God that the truth, spoken in love, is always going to be the best way for me to handle any situation.” Just make sure that what you speak is the truth and not just your opinion. Ps 34:4 “I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”
Be patient for a response. When we present the good news to people, they too will be forced to choose between opposing voices in their lives. It won’t be easy. Rom 8:25 “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
Trust God for results. God can change seemingly unchangeable people and situations. No one is beyond His reach, and nothing is impossible for Him. Heb 6:15 “And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.”

As Christians if we use our influence in this way we will definitely score a God given touchdown!!

The Responsibility of Branding Yourself

The Responsibility of Branding Yourself
In a world dominated by brands, many Christians have taken to wearing the popular What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) bangles and other attractive Christian accessories such as cell phone pouches, keyrings and bumper stickers.
The idea behind these Christian emblems, and in particular the WWJD bangles, is to identify oneself as a Christian, who is committed to living and behaving the way Jesus would. WWJD asks a question, it confronts one with a choice of how to act in a Godly way in any given situation. The armbands were designed to firstly challenge the Christian to behave uprightly, and to act as a mark for unbelievers to see Christian’s living the example of Christ.
In theory, these emblems are excellent markers and tools for Christians to reflect the Gospel in their daily activities. The problem creeps in when the bracelets function as ‘fashion’ items and lose their purpose.
The choice hovers between our natural response or Jesus’ response. For example; I’m driving my car and some guy pulls right in front of me and slows down. I’m about to lose my rag when I’m aware of WWJD on my armband so my temperature drops and I calmly proceed, with a smile, till I can drive past – because this is what Jesus would do if He were in this situation. My two passengers, one a Christian and the other not, are very impressed with my reaction and I feel like I’ve achieved something. I have displayed, in a practical way, what Jesus would do.
“What would Jesus do?” It’s more than a question.
The WWJD phenomenon is a wonderful, Holy Ghost inspired idea. It has borne immense righteous fruit to the good of the Kingdom. Many have testified of the challenge that has come to their lives through WWJD, serving to bring our Heavenly Father honour. The emergence of the WWJD culture has taken the Christian world by storm. Every Christian knows what it’s all about. While you’re reading this, you’re either wearing WWJD or you know someone who does. In all probability, you will see it displayed somewhere within the next 24 hours.  
WWJD is not hidden. In other words, it’s not a subliminal message or disguised.  It is emblazoned where everyone can see it. A stark declaration of our intent and allegiance. We who wear it want people to see it. It is our flag. It distinguishes us as one who follows the Way. We are Christians and proudly ask “What would Jesus do?” It stands out like one of those lit–up crosses you’ve seen on a hilltop at night as you pass through a town in the dark.
This very boldness of WWJD issues a challenge. Are we happy to challenge ourselves? Oh yes, we are brave enough to confront our own choices in our own circumstances and answer to ourselves too, mostly under our own terms and conditions. However, this is the easy part. The difficulty is not found in the challenge WWJD poses to us but rather in the challenge others pose to us because of WWJD. The greater challenge is not the question we ask of ourselves because of WWJD but rather the question we are asked of others because of WWJD?   
The question isn’t simply, “What do I think Jesus would do”, but it is “What Would Jesus do?” The world out there says, “You, Christian, must show me. I look to the Christian to show me what Jesus would do.” The very foundations of the WWJD culture are based on directing others to Christ through our behaviour so that Christians’ lives would be a better testimony for Jesus in the face of a critical and unforgiving world. In truth, the world out there isn’t actually so concerned about what Jesus would do. The world out there is more concerned about what you do. Unsaved people read us as their Bible.
Accountability is the key
It is admirable that Christian people are prepared to bring themselves to accountability with such a compelling question. As I’ve explained, this is by no means a private affair. We ask the question before the whole world so we must answer it before the whole world. The world is not ignorant and the world is not inhabited by idiots who cannot see when they’re being patronised. They know as well as you and I what Jesus would do.  They care more about what you do. The world hates hypocrites.
As Christians, we have to be critically aware that we bare overwhelming testimony to our faith in Jesus Christ. We can also just as quickly destroy someone’s positive perception of our Lord and be a bad testimony. The very credibility of the Gospel is at stake if we abuse our witness and get drunk, treat others badly, steal, lie and succumb to road rage. It is a stark reality that for all the good fruit that WWJD has produced, in the wrong hands, it can be a real tool of the enemy of the Gospel if abused by irresponsible believers. 
When a believer slips on the WWJD armband, he’s shouting out his commitment. He’s saying, “What Would Jesus Do? Watch me. I will show you.!” By publicly displaying WWJD, he is announcing his intent. He’s stating his acceptance of accountability and openness to scrutiny regarding his character, behaviour, integrity and his decisions. He’s saying I will ask the question before I act and when I act, watch me, you’ll see what Jesus would do right now if He were here in the flesh.
Does he then really have the right to present anything less through his lifestyle choices? I understand that none of us can claim perfection but that’s the whole point! It’s our very fallibility and humanness that gave birth to WWJD in the first place. This is not an excuse for behaving badly. God teaches us to count the cost and we must proceed seriously and cautiously before we pursue any Christian endeavour.
Don’t become a fashion victim! Lead the way.
Often the one to pay the price for our shortcomings is someone else. In the case of a believer not doing what Jesus would do, despite his public announcement to the contrary, the Kingdom of God pays the price. The testimony of the whole Church is mocked and degraded when WWJD becomes a mere fashion item or identity badge.
The enemy can’t take WWJD away but he can neutralise it by turning it into some meaningless jargon, lost among so many other weak, garbled voices. We must not let that happen. We must protect the validity and the authority of the Christian witness through the statement of WWJD. We must watch ourselves and each other. It must be an honour to wear it. It must work for the Kingdom. We’re ambassadors for Jesus Christ.
The only way we can truly be representatives of God, and know what He would do in a situation, is to know Him and His Word. Start today, and find out from the Scriptures, what Jesus would do and say!

Teenagers – Why do they do it?

Almost every day the newspapers report yet more tragedies that teenagers have inflicted upon themselves or upon other people. For many of us these are not just abstract stories in the press. We see similar disasters just waiting to happen in the lives of our own children or those of friends, or those who we teach. Every time we hear of a young person who has started taking drugs, or taken to the streets, or become anorexic, many of us ask the same question: Why do they do that?
Why do they criticise everything? Why do they take drugs? Why don’t they respect authority? Why do they develop eating disorders? Why are they obsessed with fitting an image? Why are they so sexually promiscuous? Why don’t they see the value of old people? Why don’t they get up and do something useful? Why? Why? Why?
For many of us, teenagers can be a real mystery. It’s as if they have come from another planet. Parents, in particular, can find it very hard to understand them, let alone be held responsible for their actions. We may be tempted to take the advice of Mark Twain, who, it is said, recommended that when a boy gets to thirteen years old he should be sealed in a barrel with just a small hole for air. And then, when he gets to fifteen years old, the hole should be bunged up.
Through my work with teenagers over the past eighteen years, I have met many parents who feel that they have failed. They have often come to me in tears asking, “What have I done wrong?” They describe the behaviour of their son or daughter, and then say, “It must be our fault.”
There are things that parents can do to relate better to their teenage children and to help them more effectively but before we can consider how we might respond to any particular teenage behaviour in any particular situation, we must obtain a general understanding of why it is that so many teenagers behave in the way they do. We can’t think about particular solutions until we have understood the underlying causes.
Many of the root causes of teenage behaviour lie not so much in the home, or in the parents, but rather in the massive shifts that have taken place in Western culture in recent years.

Things aren’t what they used to be
The term ‘teenager’ was coined in 1942 by market researchers who were looking for a new category of young people to whom they could target their goods. Since then a lot has changed. At that time, if you asked a teenage boy what he most wanted, he would probably tell you that most of all he wanted a “suit just like my dads”. Today, that’s the very last thing he wants!
Research tells us the top seven discipline problems in schools in 1940 were: talking in class, chewing gum, getting out of line, running in halls, making a noise, wearing improper clothes and not putting rubbish in the bin. However now, the top seven problems are: drug abuse, alcohol abuse, pregnancy, rape, suicide, robbery and assault.

There is no doubt that teenagers are very different today. And so is the world in which they live. Our culture has gone through massive changes in the last few decades – at a depth, scale and pace that have never before been known in the history of civilisation. Unless we are aware of these changes and have thought through their implications, we will not be able to understand the teenagers who are growing up among them. Nor will we ever begin to have any answer to that constant question: Why do they do that?

Douglas Rushkoff, the American journalist and social commentator, has observed, “Our world is changing so rapidly that we can hardly track the differences, much less cope with them. Whether it’s call-waiting, MTV, digital cash, or fuzzy logic, we are bombarded every day with an increasing number of words, devices, ideas and events that we do not understand. On a large-scale the cultural institutions on which we have grown dependent – organised religion, our leaders and heroes, the medical establishment, corporate employers and the family itself – appear to have crumbled under their own weight, and all within the same few decades. Without having migrated an inch we have nonetheless travelled further than any generation in history.”

We must wake up to the fact that we are in uncharted waters. Never before, in the history of civilisation, has a generation grown up amongst such extensive cultural change. During the last few decades almost all of Western culture’s underlying beliefs and values have been turned upside down. Philosophically, we have shifted from modernism to post-modernism. Educationally we have moved from a didactic to a critical teaching model. Sociologically, many of our communities and families have disintegrated. Psychologically, new ways of viewing brain function have destroyed the previously foundational concepts of our individual identity. Politically, the fall of communism has rewritten the world map. Economically, the triumph of individual consumerism over socialism has changed the way in which we determine value. Medically, previously impossible treatments have become commonplace and expected. Technologically, computers and the internet have offered us instant access to information throughout the world. And so the list goes on.

Wherever we look in Western culture there have been massive changes during the last few decades. Should we be surprised then, when those of us who grew up before those changes took hold find it hard to understand those who are growing up knowing only a world full of such changes? Clearly it is inevitable that we should be puzzled by teenage behaviour. They are so different to the way we were at their age, because the world in which they are growing up is so different from the world we knew, even as little as twenty or thirty years ago.

And yet this is the world that we all know today. There are certain aspects of teenage culture which are unique to teenagers, but much of teenage culture is shared with the wider culture in which we all live.   We find it hard to understand teenagers because we don’t understand the world in which they are growing up – and yet that world is the same world in which we find ourselves right now. It is not the world in which we grew up. It is not the world that shaped us through our formative teenage years. But it is the world in which we live today. So why, then, don’t we understand it?

Perhaps the answer to that paradox lies in an old Chinese proverb which says, “If you want to know what water is like, don’t ask a fish.” The more we are surrounded by something, the less we are aware of it. We can become so familiar with things around us that we don’t really think about them at all. When I travel in America people sometimes say to me, “Gee, I love your accent.” That always takes me by surprise, because I don’t think I have an accent. They are the ones with the accent. I just talk normally! But of course, I do have an accent, only I am so used to it that I am not even aware of it.
In the same way, although we live in this world, many of us do not have clear insight into it. In any case, most of us are so busy surviving that we don’t have the time to reflect upon the underlying nature of our culture. But we must do so. We must become aware of our social and philosophical accents, because it is only when we understand our world at this deeper level that we will be able to respond to the issues we face on the surface.

I hope that as you read this, you will be able to take time to think about the world in which we live, in particular to consider the effect that the massive cultural changes of the last few decades have had upon today’s teenagers. 
 Only when we understand why teenagers behave in the way they do, will we be able to think clearly about how things might be different.  Although we may not be individually responsible for the shifts that have taken place in our world, perhaps together we can do something about them.  If our changed culture is having such a devastating effect upon today’s teenagers, then, for the sake of  tomorrow’s teenagers, we must see our culture change again – not necessarily back to how it was, but perhaps  onwards to something far better. 
Some of the underlying concepts examined in this book will take some effort to understand.  They are not all easy, but they are all vital.  It is always less difficult to look at just the surface of things, but that is not usually where the real answers are to be found.
Indeed, simple, superficial answers can mislead us terribly.
The writer and commentator, Os Guinness, used to tell a story about a security guard at a Russian factory.  One day this guard stopped a worker, who was walking out of the factory gate, pushing a wheelbarrow with a suspicious-looking package in it.  The guard opened up the package to find that it contained nothing but some old bits of rubbish, sawdust and sweepings from the floor.  The next day he stopped the same worker, who was again pushing a wheelbarrow containing a suspicious looking package.  Once more it contained nothing of value.  After the same thing had happened many days in succession the guard finally said to the worker, ‘”Okay, I give up.  I know you must be up to something, but I don’t know what it is.  I promise I won’t arrest you.  But please put me out of my misery.  Tell me what you are stealing.”  The worker looked at the guard and smiled as he replied, “Wheelbarrows, my friend.  I am stealing wheelbarrows”. 
Rather like that guard, we can spend our time looking at the surface of things and miss the real answers that might be found if only we would look and think deeply enough.  So let’s try to get below the surface.  Let’s probe into our culture and try to analyse it.  Let’s be prepared to look back in history.  Let’s be willing to think about underlying philosophies.  Let’s do whatever it takes, in order to answer the question: Why do they do that?

TEENAGERS – WHY DO THEY DO THAT by Nick Pollard, a specialist in teenage spiritual and moral education. 
He provides us with invaluable insights to enable us to open doors of communication with our teenagers and begin to influence them for good.  We encourage you to purchase a copy of his book and refer to it regularly.  We are called to be the salt in this world. 
Please visit: for more information.
Locally avaliable: Tel no’s 021 6746931 or
031 701-1662. email

The value of memorising Scripture

This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth. That is where you need it! How does it get into your mouth? By memorisation.” (Dallas Willard, professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California)

Why should we memorise Scripture?
According to respected Christian author, Chuck Swindoll:
• Your prayer life will be strengthened.
• Your witnessing will be sharper and more effective
• Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change.
• Your faith will be solidified

One of the main reasons Martin Luther came to his great discovery in the Bible of justification by faith alone (ie: you can’t earn your salvation – only faith in Jesus saves) was because in his early years as a Professor of Holy Scripture at Wittenberg University, he came to love God’s Word. Memorising Scripture should not be seen as a duty, but rather as a critical building block to our faith. Here are a few more reasons why it is essential:

Conformity to Christ
Bible memorisation has the effect of making our gaze on Jesus steadier and clearer. Paul wrote that “we all…beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” 2 Cor 3:18
If we would be changed into Christ-likeness we must steadily see Him. This happens in the Word. “The Lord revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the Word of the Lord.” 1 Sam 3:21

Daily Triumph over Sin
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word…I have stored up Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Ps 119:9

Daily Triumph over Satan
When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness He recited Scripture from memory and put Satan to flight. Matt 4:1-11

Comfort and Counsel for People You Love
The times when people need you to give them counsel is usually not when you have a Bible handy! Not only that, the very Word of God spoken spontaneously from your heart has unusual power. Prov 25:11 says “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

Communicating the Gospel to Unbelievers
Opportunities to share the Gospel come when we do not have the Bible in hand. We should all be able to sum up the Gospel like this:

•    God’s holiness/Law/glory
•    Man’s sin/rebellion/disobedience
•    Christ’s death for sinners
•    The free gift of life by faith.

Learn a verse or two relating to each of these, and be ready in season and out of season to share them.

Communion with God in the Enjoyment of His Person and Ways
The way we commune with (that is, fellowship with) God is by meditating on His attributes and expressing to Him our thanks, admiration and love, and seeking His help to live a life that reflects these attributes. Storing texts in our minds about God helps us to relate to Him as He really is.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him…” Ps 103: 8-14

Most of us are emotionally crippled. We do not experience God in the fullness of our emotional potential. How will that change? One way is to memorise the emotional expressions of the Bible and speak them to the Lord and to each other until they become part of who we are.

Dr John Piper is the Senior Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in America. He is a prolific author, guest speaker and an authority in the Christian community.

Copyright 2007 John Piper. Used by permission

Failing to do good – Sins of omission

Failing to do good – Sins of omission

“I’m a good person.  I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs.  I don’t steal, or swear. I’m not a homosexual – I’m a good person!” 
Often, when one engages in street evangelism, door-to-door, or other forms of personal evangelism, you come across these kinds of reactions.  Most people are quite convinced that they are good people.  Yet, the Bible does not teach the innate goodness of man.  “As it is written:  there is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.  There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  Rom 3:10-18
The Lord Jesus Christ describes the Day of Judgment not so much in terms of the bad things we have done, but the good things we failed to do:  “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty, and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.”  Matt 25:41-43
Sin is not only the bad things we do, but the good things we fail to do.  “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”  James 4:17 If I were to ask you what the greatest sin is for man to commit, what would you answer? Would you say?  Murder?  Idolatry?  Adultery?  Perversion?  Hatred?  Or blasphemy?
When the Lord Jesus asked what was the greatest commandment, He replied:  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength…you shall love your neighbour as yourself.”  Mark 12:30-31 It follows then that the greatest sin would be to fail to love God with all our heart.  Failure to love God is the root sin that leads to all others.  You cannot love your neighbour unless you first love God.  God deserves our wholehearted love – not with some of, or most of, our heart, but with all of our heart.  Nothing less than everything we have, and the best that we have, is worthy enough for our Sovereign Lord, our Creator, Redeemer and Eternal Judge.  “Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and blessing!”  Rev 5:12 
The Scripture teaches us that our love should not be just words and talk, it must be true love, which shows itself in action (1 John 3:18).  Jesus showed us by His great example that true love is measured by sacrifice.  Some of the most revealing indicators of our love for God are the sacrifices which we make for Him.  Love gives and does not count the cost.  Love rejoices in giving and wants to give – not out of duty, but out of a glad and willing heart. 
Love entails intense enthusiasm, a longing to be near and a desire to serve.  Does that describe your love for the Lord? 
Do you know your Bible?  Are you applying it to every area of life?  Do you know what God wants you to do?  Are you doing it wholeheartedly? 
A blacksmith keeps his iron in the fire long enough for the fire to be in the iron.  Are you so immersed in God’s Word and His presence that His fire burns in your heart?  Love is like a fire, it spreads easily, but it constantly needs more fuel to keep it raging.  Our love for God feeds by faith in His Word, in worship, in prayer, in praise and adoration.  Love is like life – it grows if fed and dies if starved.  “Let me seek You in longing and long for You in seeking, let me find You in love and love You in finding.”
The Ten Commandments are not only a list of prohibitions.  Each of the Ten Commandments includes an implicit call to action:  To worship God alone.  To resist idolatry.  To speak respectfully of God and His Word.  To work six days and to rest on the Lord’s Sabbath.  To honour our father and our mother.  To respect life.  To protect the sanctity of marriage.  To respect private ownership of property.  To be people of integrity.  To maintain a clear conscience before God and man. 
The Ten Commandments teach us respect for God, respect for people and respect for property. 
Praying the Lord’s Prayer demands action: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…”  Matthew 6:10.  Jesus taught that:  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven.”  Matt 7:21
“Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!”  Luke 11:28. We are commanded to “be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22.  The Church today suffers from an abundance of Christians who know volumes more than they practise.  We deceive ourselves if we believe that true Christianity involves merely going to church and avoiding cigarettes, drunkenness, drugs, swearing and other visible and audible examples of sin.  We are saved to serve.  At creation the Lord issued The Cultural Mandate to be fruitful, to multiply and to fill the earth, caring for His creation, Gen 1:28.  We are commanded to raise our children in the love and the fear of the Lord, Deut 6:2-9. According to The Golden Rule of Christ:  “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them…”  Matthew 7:12
The Scripture teaches us far more than merely to avoid doing evil.  “Let him who stole, steal no longer, but rather let him labour, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.”  Eph 4:28.  As Christians we are commanded to learn to devote ourselves “to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.”  Titus 3:14.  The Lord rebukes the idle:  “Why have you been standing here idle all day?”  Matt 20:6
The Lord wants eager volunteers:  “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”  Isa 6:8
The last command of our Lord Jesus Christ ought to be our first concern.  His Great Commission must be our supreme ambition – to make disciples, to teach obedience to all things that the Lord has commanded us, Matt 28:18-20. As Christians we have to recognise that passivity, neutrality and inactivity are sinful disobedience.
When God speaks and we don’t listen. 
What the Bible teaches, we don’t apply.
What Jesus commands, we don’t obey.
Where the Lord sends, we don’t go. 
We stay seated when we should stand up.
We keep silent when we should speak out.
We stand back when we should step out in faith.
We remain at home when we should be going out into the highways and byways.
We are Christians, we are people with a message of life and death.  Let us wake up to the urgency of a lost world in rebellion to God rushing on its way to an eternity in hell.  Lives are at stake.  The truth is under attack.  God’s Name is being blasphemed and He is not being given the honour He deserves. 
One of the very best sermon illustrations is the daily testimony of a Christian doing his work with integrity and diligence.  The quality of our daily work should witness to our faith in Christ.  “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed.”  2 Tim 2:15. “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
This is God’s will, that we be joyful, prayerful and thankful, that we care for His creation, that we be thoughtful and considerate, that we do to others as we would have them do to us, that we love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength, and our neighbours as ourselves.  That we be applying the Lordship of Christ to all areas of life, making disciples, teaching obedience to all things that the Lord has commanded.  True Christianity is seen, not just in what we say, but in what we do. 
It is spiritually refreshing to step out in faith and obey God.  Let us put feet to our faith. Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey it.

Dressing like a believer

Dressing like a believer
We often associate modesty with old grannies wearing their old-fashioned frocks, stockings and health shoes. But that isn’t what modesty really is. Modesty is a character trait that is demonstrated through our behaviour and dress. Modesty does not mean that Christian women (in particular) have to be unfashionable or frumpy. Standing out, by choosing not to conform to the world’s standards of immoral and overly sexual dress, gives Christian women the chance to shine and be different.
Although I am not an expert on fashion and style, I have compiled a few guidelines for young Christian girls to use. I believe these tips help me to set a modest and pure example in a world that is marked by short skirts, low cut tops and inappropriate clothing.
Approach fashion differently
I love layers. They are versatile, practical and trendy. Layering can be used either with tights (under shorter skirts and cropped shorts) or with tops (for example, a white T-shirt underneath a low cut coloured top). Layering allows girls to remain trendy, but also to cover up in the right places. At times we may see the perfect dress, but feel it is too short to be modest. This can be fixed if we wear pretty tights underneath the dress.
Find your personal style
I once read that a good way to be unique with your fashion style is to identify key elements that represent you. For example; a favourite colour (a few girls I know wear pink all the time!) or an emblem, like a cute cow. I love cows and I collect socks, shirts and prints that have cows on them. People tend to notice when I wear them, and associate it as my ‘style’. The benefit to having signature style, is that you can stand out in a crowd, without having to wear immodest, low cut, tight or see-through clothing. I want to honour God’s commands to dress modestly and to be wholesome, but that doesn’t mean I must be boring!
I know for a fact that guys prefer girls who dress modestly. Sure, they enjoy the view they get of the girls who show off their bodies, but they definitely do not respect them and wouldn’t consider a long-term relationship with that girl because they just aren’t the quality they’re looking for. I think they subconsciously realise that good looks never last. So while you may be jealously eyeing that model’s toned stomach and perfect legs, your guy loves you for your modesty, intelligence and great sense of humour! I’ve asked my male friends whether they prefer girls in skirts or jeans. Almost unanimously they all say girls look far better in skirts because it makes them look more feminine. I think women look their best when they embrace their femininity and beauty.
We can look at the trends and what’s in style, and pick out certain elements. Christians don’t need to be nerds. Not at all! But we do need to be classy, dignified and above reproach. Wear clothing that flatters you. It doesn’t have to be a shapeless sack, but barely-there t-shirts and really low-cut jeans with underwear flashing is really not attractive! Dressing in a tarty way, with too much make-up and too tight clothing, does not enhance our beauty. Instead, mini skirts and low cut tops demoralise us and make us vulnerable to abuse and misuse. Is that honestly what each of us want?
Allure and Mystery through Modesty
I read a book sometime ago called Secret Keeper by Dannah Gresh. The main thing I learnt from her was that we, as females, have a secret power. And that secret power or allure, is modesty. She says, “Modesty is the source of this delicate yet formidable power, making it a power in and of itself. It’s delicate because it can be so innocently given away without your even knowing it. It’s a formidable power, because once you have mastered modesty, no man will be given access to the full secrets behind your allure until you so desire.” Isn’t that amazing? The more we cover, the more enticing we are!
“In Genesis 2, God surveys His fine creation and finds everything just right. He uses the word ‘good’. The Gestalt theory teaches a graphic designer to control a viewer’s time by forcing the person to mentally complete a visual image. Because completing the incomplete intrigues the brain, it will always pause to finish an unfinished picture. What does a guy see when a girl walks by him wearing a long, tight skirt with a slit all the way up the sides? He sees past the fabric, because the slit invites him to finish the picture. This is simple visual science.”
Dannah continues, “How do you think this theory works when a girl wearing a tight T-shirt with her belly bared walks down the road past a guy? Yikes! Because he sees an incomplete picture of her body, he is compelled to complete it. The thrill not of what is seen, but is yet to be seen, is what actually tempts him. His imagination kicks in. It’s just how the brain works, especially for guys.”
Do not lead others into tempation
Fact: It is much more tempting for a guy to see a girl dressed in today’s skimpy fashion than it would be to see her naked. Does that astound you? It’s true. A Christian couple I know recently went to France for vacation. At one point this pair unwittingly stayed in a hotel next to the nude beach. The woman was concerned it would be tempting for her husband. It wasn’t. In fact, he was rather grossed out. There was nothing left to the imagination, which is the most tempting part of immodesty.
As Christian men and women, we have been called to a different standard to that of the world’s. God does not want us to lead others into temptation through our dress, speech or mannerisms. Although every woman (and girl) longs for attention and flattery, we need to set our focus on Christ. Only He will fulfil our emotional needs and make us feel truly beautiful and secure. Learn to embrace the biblical standards for modesty and appreciate that you can be attractive and sexy for your husband one day.
As Christian sisters, we must be mindful of our conduct. In church, be careful that your top is not see-through (eg: wearing a black bra under a white shirt) or that your pants are too low
(eg: your lacy underwear is peeping out while the boy behind you is trying to worship God). Ask your fellow girlfriends, disciplers and even your parents for guidance with your conduct. We can be friendly, without being flirtatious; pretty without being provocative; modest without being boring!