Blasphemy in the Media

Blasphemy in the Media

Blasphemy and the debate surrounding the limitations of free speech were catapulted into the national spotlight recently following an Action Alert e-mail I sent to FPI subscribers requesting they respond to a gratuitously offensive and blasphemous article in the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) annual Sax Appeal magazine. To my surprise, the e-mail alert elicited an unprecedented response from Christians across the country, including New Zealand, the UK, the US and Uganda. Both UCT and the Rag’s main sponsor, Pick n Pay, were inundated with e-mails from Christian citizens expressing their disgust at the vile contents of the magazine. Thankfully, UCT and Pick n Pay executives responded swiftly to the deluge of complaints by immediately issuing public apologies to the South African Christian community – promising to tighten up future editorial controls of Sax Appeal. The Christian unity demonstrated during this campaign was a powerful indication of the profound impact of the Body-of-Christ on society when it operates in unity of purpose. More importantly, this rare but unified response from believers across the denominational spectrum struck fear in the hearts of the mockers and scoffers who previously had experienced very little resistance from the Church of Christ regardless of their outrageous conduct.   
Sadly, however, the apologies from UCT and Pick n Pay were maligned in the liberal media for apparently “capitulating to religious fundamentalists” and for “threatening hard won civil liberties.” Subsequently, the debate generated by this debacle centred on censorship, free speech limitations (if any) and the rights of Christian citizens. Many of the liberal secular humanist journalists and columnists held the view that religions and their deities (read Christ and Christians) deserve no protection whatsoever from blasphemous ridicule and mockery under the current provisions of the Bill of Rights. Hate speech, they argue, which leads to incitement of violence and slander are the only acceptable prohibitions to free speech. According to this warped definition, you may mock and slander God but not certain groups of people. However, my extensive interactions with the liberal media in South Africa have revealed that their level of commitment to free speech is directly proportional to the subject matter being debated.
According to cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro (Zapiro) and others, blasphemous attacks and the mockery of the person of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith helps generate much needed debate around religion. Quite how referring to Christians as “stupid c***ts and Jesus as a ‘tool’ promotes intelligent debate has never fully been explained by the liberal media’s intelligentsia. Alarmingly, research of the liberal media’s treatment of Christianity over the past decade reveals an undeniable bias and in many cases – staggering hypocrisy. There are several instances of unwarranted blasphemous references to Jesus Christ in the media which served no purpose whatsoever other than to mock and denigrate the Christian God. At one point, both E-TV and the SABC broadcast programmes that were openly hostile to Christianity, maliciously slandering the Name of Jesus Christ at every opportunity.
In 2005, The Daily Voice tabloid in Cape Town ran a story with the headline: ‘I saw Jesus in my toilet’. Further investigation revealed the story was based on a mocking report about a Cape Flats woman who allegedly claimed to see an apparition of Jesus in her bathroom window. During a meeting with the Independent Group’s editorial team to discuss this issue, the Daily Voice publisher, Rashid Seria, struggled to adequately explain the deeply offensive headline in light of the stories subject matter. In addition, The Cape Argus and its sister newspapers ran a series of news stories about a serial killer in Cape Town they dubbed the ‘Jesus killer’ allegedly because an ‘eye witness’ claimed the killer had the word Jesus tattooed on his lower lip. This claim was never substantiated by reporters but was nonetheless used repeatedly by various newspapers. When the killer was eventually apprehended, it emerged the Jesus tattoo was a complete fabrication. Predictably, the Independent Group was not convinced the Christian community deserved an apology.
The liberal media’s defence of free speech is mostly found wanting. During 2001 I confronted Sheryl Ozinsky, the then manager of Cape Town Tourism, for abusing her position by unilaterally promoting Cape Town as the ‘gay’ capital of Africa. As fellow members of the Cape Town Press Club, Sheryl and I had a fairly amicable relationship. However, I was attacked by the liberal media and kicked off the Press Club for daring to challenge a lesbian city official for using the city coffers to promote her sexual preference. Alarmingly, the Press Club and the media establishment it represents claim a long and staunch tradition of defending free speech. Tragically, however, it became patently clear that the liberal media was not prepared to tolerate a Christian citizen challenging the homosexual agenda in the city despite their commitment to the Bill of Rights. Ultimately, free speech is permissible only when it falls in line with the liberal media’s narrow definition. In other words, they claim the exclusive rights to define and determine the limitations of free speech, including what is considered sacrosanct. And according to this definition, Jesus Christ and Christianity are fair game. But homosexuality – the liberal humanist’s equivalent of blasphemy – in all its forms is strictly off limits.
A Christian leader in Cape Town who identified himself as an ‘evangelical theologian’ wrote to me recently in defence of free speech claiming that God “tolerates the blasphemous misuse of His Name”. The obvious inference of this statement is: “If God tolerates blasphemy, why do we oppose it?” In addition, I received several e-mails contending that Christians must not react to the blasphemous mockery of the Name of God but should follow Christ’s example when He was mocked and insulted on the Cross with the response: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”.
Firstly, nowhere does the Bible suggest that God tolerates sin, more especially the mockery of His Holy Name. In Exodus 20:7, the third Commandment clearly refutes this, “You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His Name in vain.” In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul issues this dire warning to both those in and outside the Church: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man (or nation) sows, that he will also reap” Gal 6:7. Consequently, promoting the erroneous theology that God ‘tolerates’ the blasphemous misuse and blatant mockery of His Name reduces the Grace of God to a common thing worthy to be trampled underfoot by men. Essentially, God’s Grace is that period of time during which His righteous judgment is withheld to allow the sinner time to acknowledge his sin and repent! Significantly, however, the sentence for blasphemy is still death. Mercifully, God’s Grace delays (never commutes) the execution of the sentence which is an active demonstration of His love, longsuffering and His desire that none should perish. But this must never be confused with the toleration of sin or the mockery of His Holy Name.  
Secondly, as for Christians responding like Christ to blasphemy – I fully agree that as Christians we must walk in forgiveness and must never react to provocation in an attitude of hate and vindictiveness. However, Jesus prayed that God would forgive those who mocked, ridiculed and crucified Him because it was His purpose at that time to die on the Cross for the sins of all mankind. However, Jesus fully fulfilled His purpose on the Cross. Hebrews 12:2 declares, “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God.” Jesus, therefore, is currently seated in the place of all power and authority and no longer hangs on the Cross (the place of mockery and ridicule). As a result of His highly exalted position over all principalities and powers and names that can be named, the blasphemous mockery of His Holy Name can serve no other purpose but to elicit God’s terrible wrath and judgment on individuals, families and nations who participate in or tolerate this abominable practice.    
But why is it necessary for Christian citizens to speak up against blasphemy? I was asked the question several times – “Do we need to defend God”? Does the third Commandment suggest some Divine insecurity or defensiveness?  A more helpful interpretation of this Commandment recognises the interconnectedness of God and humanity and also of God and morality. The Judeo-Christian worldview is that men and women are created in the image of God. Those who honour God must also show due respect to every human being, irrespective of race, gender or social status.
All are created in the image of God, so to mistreat any person is to show disrespect for God. Conversely, therefore, to show disregard for God leads to a diminished respect for our fellow human beings. The connection between God and morality is equally fundamental. The Ten Commandments present themselves as a revealed morality, not constructed by man but delivered by Divine inspiration. They provide not a set of provisional suggestions or a law code specific to a single culture and generation, but rather a framework of moral absolutes. In contemporary South African society, increasing concern is being expressed that our children are no longer able to tell right from wrong. With every new set of statistics concerning crime, violence, drug abuse, sexual immorality and anti-social behaviour among children and teens, social commentators frequently voice anxiety at a sense of imminent moral collapse.
More worrying is the growing trend in the Church of the tacit acceptance of blasphemy and the mockery of the Name of Jesus Christ in society. Some argue that blasphemy and the disrespect of the Name of Jesus is a natural consequence of a fallen society. Many argue that, as a secular state, South Africa’s secular constitution entrenches the right of all its citizens to freely oppose or criticise whomever they wish, including religion. However, a secular state does not necessarily relegate religious citizens to second class citizenship nor does it imply their rights are of lesser importance than the rights and freedoms of secular citizens. 
How many of us would adopt the same casual approach to mockery and ridicule if it were directed at our wives, husbands or even our children? When malicious attacks are unfairly directed at people we love, we tend to react with indignation and instinctively seek to right the wrong. How much more then should we seek to rectify the unwarranted and insulting denigration of the Lord of Glory in whom we live and breathe and have our being. Can you imagine a society where the Name of Jesus Christ is the object of regular scorn, mockery and disdain while false gods and idols are revered and treated with cautious respect? If the Church of Jesus Christ tacitly approves of the blasphemy and mockery of its Commander in Chief, not only will it lose its respected status and standing in society but eventually will itself become the object of derision and scorn.           
A society that repudiates the Christian God, in a rising tide of militant atheism and casual misuse of the name of Jesus Christ, will inevitably lose its moral cohesiveness.
In short, opposing the blasphemous misuse of the Name of Jesus Christ is not so much about our personal sensibilities or free speech as it is about the terrible consequences that potentially can be visited upon a nation that tolerates the willful desecration of the Name of God. There are many good prayer initiatives currently encouraging believers to intercede for the country and to call on God to heal our land. However, a fundamental question we must all answer is this – Will God bless a nation that consistently mocks and ridicules His Holy Name while His Church remains silent? It is my contention, therefore, that the collapse of morality in South Africa and the final demise of our civilisation may have imperceptibly begun with the casual and habitual cursing and careless disregard for the Name of the Judeo-Christian God.
Errol Naidoo
Family Policy Institute

Work, life, balance

By Annelie Kanis
I am privileged to belong to a Bible study group where members have become close friends and share intimate issues. Over the years many issues have arisen and found satisfactory closure, but one issue keeps surfacing – how to live a balanced life. Often most of us feel run over, exhausted and disorientated by trying to juggle ever increasing work responsibilities, parenthood, marital life, friendships, exercise and spending time with the Lord. For many of us, our work has become the core of our identities. It consumes all our time; it has become us.

A perfect balance between work and life is an illusion…
While counselling many burnt-out individuals in my practice, I have come to realise that a perfect balance between work and life does not exist. I counsel many people exhausting themselves trying to chase an illusion of a perfect work/life balance. They are looking for a recipe with explicit steps to accomplish this perfect balance, to no avail. The truth is that each and every person is unique. We all differ with regards to personality, the amount and type of stress we can handle, our work realities, personal circumstances, support networks and the life phase we are currently in. Before being able to achieve any kind of balance in our own lives, we firstly need to gain awareness of our own processes and, secondly, accept ourselves. One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to compare ourselves to others and think: “Well, if she can work twelve hours a day, and cope with it, so must I.”

Biblica l principles for gaining balance in life
At this point I am reminded of the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42. Like Martha, we all sometimes plan, work extremely hard and want everything perfect. In the process of pushing ourselves to the limits, we forget to sit at the Lord’s feet to hear His purpose for our lives and to receive
nurturing. What a vicious, sad cycle! As Christians it is so important for us to do all the things that Christ has called us to do. But how will we know what His purposes for our lives are if we do not make time to sit at His feet and listen? A central Biblical principle in finding a balanced life is to seek God first (Matt 6:33). This is also the example Jesus sets for us in the Bible – to pull away when tired and stressed, to pray and seek God. Another Biblical principle related to work-life balance is that of Sabbath rest. Sabbath rest is a rhythm set by God in creation with the discontinuation of work
as a central theme (Exod 20:8-11). The Sabbath represents one day in our week to become quiet and gain perspective on what is really important. Dorothy Bass believes that the Sabbath is a way of drawing boundaries around work and all powers threatening our lives with disintegration such as worry and anxiety. Are we, as Christians, living by this principle or does our Sabbath show no difference to the rest of our week?

Practica l Tips for a happy life
1. Establish clearly what really matters in your life. Knowing what is important will help you to set priorities and draw boundaries when unrealistic demands are being made by others.
2. In the same way as you set goals at work, also set goals for other areas in your life. For example: building a relationship with your teenage daughter.
3. Learn to say ‘no’. It is easy to fall into a habit of wanting to please everyone around you. There is a difference between going the extra mile, being kind, being a good Christian and allowing yourself to be exploited. Before allowing yourself to immediately say ‘yes’ to a request, take a few seconds to think what the implications will be if you agree. For example will it mean you have to take work home and miss out on family time?
4. Do not overbook your diary. Rather schedule some time to manage crises every day. Research shows that in most situations we only achieve 50% of what we set out to achieve each day.
5. Protect your private time. If you have set aside time for hobbies, family, Bible study or just time alone, protect it and don’t feel guilty doing it.
6. Schedule time for fun in your diary, as well as all other nonwork related activities. We are living such busy lives that in many instances we do not think ahead, especially concerning fun in our lives.
7. If you have experienced a stressful time or traumatic event, such as a pregnancy, divorce or robbery, be patient with yourself and don’t feel guilty to take time out to work through your emotions. Remember, you are not a light switch than can be turned on and off instantly. If you experience difficulty in any of the above areas, it may help to talk to a Christian counsellor.

Annelie Kanis is a counselling psychologist and a lecturer at the ICP. She is passionate about working with children and teenagers, as well as stress management and relationships. For more information on Christian Psychology, or for professional advice, call: 011 827 7611 / 0209 or

Shocking Revelation for Western Cape Schools

Shocking Revelation for Western Cape Schools
Recently this devastating report (below) appeared in Die Burger newspaper tucked away in its inside pages. I sincerely feel that such an important issue should have received front-page exposure. The implications of this report have huge consequences for South African society. What a sad day for South Africa and its citizens when provincial government accepts foreign monies to fund a project like this.
One just has to observe the values of the youth in the Netherlands to witness the destruction such atheistic teaching produces. Now, shockingly they have been given license, by investing large amounts of money into our education system to corrupt our children. A snap survey of a few parents indicated total ignorance of this investment and the proposed introduction of evolutionary teaching into the schools. Most were astounded when I pointed this out. Have you been informed?
We believe a matter of such importance needs the full support of the parents of the children who will be exposed to such teaching. After all parents are responsible for their children – not the state. The consequences of children believing they came from nothing, are nothing and are going nowhere, has a severe impact on society, especially in the area of accountability to the law and to ones fellowman. If there is no respect for God and His Laws, the Ten Commandments, then there will definitely be no respect for the law of the land. Evidence of this is already glaringly obvious amongst non God-fearing political leaders and business leaders in South Africa today. The Western Cape Consultation of Christian churches have been made aware of this report and have subsequently sent off a letter to the Dutch Embassy.
They have requested an urgent meeting to discuss the concerns, specifically that the plurality of our community is being undermined, in that the views, beliefs and values of a large segment of the population in our schools are being overridden and disregarded.
All the major religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, by definition reject evolution. The implication that a foreign government has made this investment into our education system to foster the teaching of any particular ideological paradigm does not create a healthy precedent.  We will keep you informed of the progress and outcome of these meetings. In the meantime we encourage every parent to call their school principals and request a parent information meeting in order to become informed of exactly what is being taught and what is going to be taught and what the consequences will be for both them and their children.
Parents have rights and will be accountable to God one day for the way in which they have brought up their children. We also call on all the intercessors in the land to pray against the forces of evil trying to erode our society. Childrens’ values and their beliefs should be taught and entrenched by parents and not by schools, or state education departments. 
This project, as indicated, will stretch throughout all the provinces soon, so it is not just a Western Cape problem.
We encourage parents not become intimidated by teachers and principals who support this introduction of the THEORY OF EVOLOUTION. Many un-Godly academics like to use fancy scientific grammar and terminology to influence and intimidate parents. Always identify the spiritual understanding of the teacher or principal before one discusses this matter. Christians do not, and cannot, support evolution. It is an unproven theory and no palaeontologist, scientist or physicist has come up with proven evidence.

Women in Ministry

Women in Ministry
Confusion, not Confucius, says, “He who handles hot potatoes seeks burnt fingers or mash!” I seek to produce some nutritious mashed potatoes, but I am bound to get my fingers burnt. The sub-title of this article should be: “A position on women in ministry in 728 words… and other miracles!” I can’t do justice in such a short article to this important topic, and I can’t even attempt to discuss the matter. What I can do though, is make some statements and hope that they stimulate a healthy appetite for the subject.
When dealing with a topic like this we, as Christians, can come at it from one of two directions. We can start with modern culture and then seek Biblical support and justification, or we can seek to understand what the Bible teaches and then try to apply this to our time and culture. This second way is my convicted choice.
First off, let me state my firm belief that women and men are equal. In Christ, men and women are equally children of God. Role distinctions do not imply inequality in human society any more than they do within the divine society of the Godhead.
There are, however, differences between role/office and function/ministry. Roles within the family, and offices within the church, are specific positions of responsibility. Functions within the family, and ministries within the church, are non gender specific areas of service.
I believe that a woman should function in any capacity within the family. Income production, financial management and so on, are not exclusively male domains. Child care, cooking, and so on, are not exclusively female functions. However, I believe that the man should assume the headship role in the normal two-parent home. “Now I want you to realise that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of woman is man…”
1 Cor 11:3.
I believe that a woman should minister anywhere within the church body. Teaching, preaching and leading are not exclusively male ministries. Elders lead but not all leaders are Elders. Preaching and teaching are to be under the oversight and direction of Elders, but this applies equally to men and women. Sunday school, caring and dance are not exclusively female ministries. However, I believe that only men should hold the office of Elders in the Church. (Titus 1:6-9; 1 Tim 3:1-7)
The way I understand it is that headship is God’s wise provision for order and health within both family and church. He has ordained that husbands should be the head of their homes under His mandate as prescribed in Scripture. He has also ordained that in the extended family of the church … Christ should be head. “For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is head of the Church…” Eph 5:23.   In the family wives have authority under mandate from their husbands as prescribed in Scripture. In the church a group of male Elders have authority under mandate from Christ Jesus as prescribed in Scripture. So Elders stand in the same relationship to the church as wives do to the family – Elders are wives and mothers, not husbands and fathers. Jesus is the head and husband of the Church and God the Father is… well, the father.
But what is headship?  As I see it, a head is one who is given authority, within a specific mandate, to be the final arbiter. A Managing Director is head of a company under mandate from the board of directors. A President is head of a country under mandate from its citizens through constitution and vote.  Husbands are heads of their families and Elders have delegated and derived headship of the church.
I mentioned earlier my belief that women can and should preach and teach within the church. I understand ‘teaching’, in the sense that Paul views it in 1 Timothy 2:12, to be linked to authority. Only the Elders have authority to establish doctrine and practises within the local church. Having done this, then I cannot see why a woman, equipped and gifted for this ministry, should not preach or teach within the mandate of established doctrine and under the oversight of the Elders.
So there you have it – mashed potatoes without, I sincerely hope, too many of my sensitive little fingers being burnt.

Priscilla Shirer: Motherhood, Marriage & Ministry

Priscilla Shirer: Motherhood, Marriage & Ministry
Fact File

Married to Jerry for 8 years. He was an Executive with Hilton Hotels, but several years ago decided to go full time into managing the business aspects of Going Beyond Ministries
They have 3 young boys
In her early days she hosted a local TV show
Ann Graham Lotz (daughter of Billy Graham) is her ministry mentor

Priscilla Shirer is undoubtedly one of the most humble, professional, Spirit-filled and friendliest Christian speakers I have ever met. She has visited South Africa several times and considering her ‘fame’ and prominence within international Christian circles, Priscilla is a wonderful example of a Proverbs 31 woman. (Though she will be the first to admit she isn’t perfect and doesn’t have it ‘all together.’)
She is a brilliant speaker, profound author, loving wife and dedicated mom. Together with her husband Jerry (who is a model example of a supportive Godly man), they run Going Beyond Ministries.
Like her Biblical namesake, Priscilla (who was one of the first Christian missionaries with her husband Aquila) is reaching the nations with her Bible-based, life-changing books and teachings. In time for mother’s day, JOY! Magazine caught up with her to find out more about how she copes with Motherhood, marriage and ministry.
Some people would call you a superwoman! When did you get into ministry?
I would say it’s in my blood! My father is Tony Evans (well known Bible teacher, preacher and father of the faith in America) and as the daughter of a pastor, I was involved in a ministry environment from an early age.
When I was in college, I interned at a Christian radio station and from brief on air exposure, I was asked to speak at women’s bible studies and other events. After graduating, I began my masters degree at Dallas Theological Seminary and in 1997 was asked to lead a weekly bible study at the Zig Ziglar corporation. I later came on board as one of the company’s motivational speakers and corporate trainers, and though I loved my job, my heart’s desire was to teach the Word of God to women. In xx Jerry and I started Going beyond Ministries and have never looked back!
How do you balance ministry, motherhood, and marriage?
I have the same concerns as most working moms about balancing life. I remember walking through my neighborhood one morning about eight weeks before my second son was born. I prayed, “Lord, how do I balance being a wife, mother, and a woman in ministry? If You do not supernaturally balance all of this, then I don’t know what I will do!” I will never forget His answer to me…I watched as the sun rose in the sky, the birds began to sing and the world came to life that morning. He whispered, “If I can balance all of this, I can balance your life!” I have trusted Him ever since to help me, day-by- day, to figure out how this should all work.
I cannot begin to tell you how difficult this balancing act is physically and emotionally.  Jerry and I firmly believe that God has given us clear direction that this ministry is what He wants us to do (at least for now), so we assume that He will provide the means for us to do it and He has. My husband and I are in ministry together. We are team, and it is this unfailing support that we give eachother that provides the basis of what we do.
Jerry and I both work from home all week long. This means that we get to spend a lot of time with the boys throughout the entire week before we go to a women’s conference on a Friday and Saturday.  The Lord has also provided me with a mother-in-law that is a professional grandmother!  She doesn’t want to do anything other than be with our children and she often looks after them when we travel. Our trips are normally 1-2 nights, so that we are not away from our little ones for long.  Any trip longer than 2 nights (which is rare) means they come with us. If I didn’t have a husband who worked with me, and a mother-in-law to help me with my children, then I don’t know that I could do this. But God has constructed our circumstances to support the calling that He has on our lives.
Still, I do worry like all mothers about whether or not I am balancing everything well, and I am sure that I will never be perfect at it! There are many nights that my dinner dishes don’t get washed, my laundry takes a couple days to complete, and toys are scattered on my living room floor. Things around here are far from perfect, but I believe that as long as I am taking care of God’s business by keeping my family as a priority and then focusing on the women to whom I am to minister, He will make up the slack.
I must admit that I have little time for other things. I often have to say, “No” to invitations for lunch and get-togethers.  That is the sacrifice that I am making for this season of life.  A friend and mentor recently encouraged me by saying, “Priscilla, you can do this (ministry, wifehood, and motherhood), but you cannot do anything else!”
If you are a mother and are also considering serving the Lord in a full-time ministry capacity, ask the Lord for clarity on how you should proceed and when you should proceed. He will clearly tell you whether now is the appropriate time for you to move forward or whether you should wait until you are in a different season of your life. If He calls you to do something, He will equip you with the necessary tools to do it while at the same time allowing you to keep your priorities straight. It is and will always be a prayerful, day-by-day process of relying solely on Him to keep everything balanced and orderly.
What is your secret to keeping a marriage safe from the pressures of life?
I am certainly no expert on marriage! I’ve only been married for 8 very wonderful years. However, having shared these years with Jerry I’ve seen that there are several factors that are necessary for a blessed marriage.
Women (and men for that matter) should go into marriage knowing that service to others is the heart of the marital relationship. If you are getting into the relationship looking to be served, then you will be shockingly surprised at all that is required of you, and your spouse will soon be burnt out on all his attempts to keep you happy.
The most successful and loving marriages I have encountered are those in which both parties are fully engaged in the task of serving the other.When both husband and wife go into marriage with this mentality, then both are happy and content, because the other is continually meeting their needs. So, right now, take a personal inventory. Are you a servant? How can you begin to develop that characteristic in your life?
Women need to prepare themselves to follow the leadership of your husband. So often women take the reins of the relationship after they say, “I DO.”  If your husband planned dates and took initiative in certain areas of your life together before marriage, then allow him the same courtesy after marriage. Let him lead.
If you become the leader in your relationship at some point, then he will stop fighting for his role and let you have it. Only then will you realize the huge mistake you have made.  You will wake up one day and wonder what happened to the strong man you married.  Allow him control situations, even if it means he makes decisions that you don’t particularly care for. Trust God to speak to your husband, and support your husband in prayer; even if his decision is the wrong one, submit to him and trust in the Lord. He will bless your marriage if you do this. Follow your husband graciously even as he learns from his own mistakes. Because of this, you will be rewarded with a husband who is secure in his leadership, and as a result wants to romance you, love you, serve you, and value your ideas and opinions in your life and marriage.
A final word of advice to our readers?
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matt 22:37 if you do this, He will make your path straight.
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Church Wake Up!!

Church Wake Up!
Are you sleep-walking through life? Are you going through life on auto pilot, hardly aware of what is happening around you? This lack of consciousness to the needs around us is something that Jesus does not want for His Church. In the book of Revelation, Jesus speaks to the church in Sardis and says:

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of Him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.  Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” Rev 3:1- 3
Jesus twice says to the church in Sardis, ‘Church – wake up’ and it is clearly linked to our deeds. Twice in this passage, Jesus speaks about the church’s deeds. To the outsider, our churches may look awake – full of activities and programmes with plenty of people on a Sunday morning. But in reality most of us are sleeping-walking in our walk with God. A sleeping church, according to Jesus, is one which has not got doing deeds right. How do you tell if someone is sleep-walking? They look like they are awake but they don’t engage with what is going on around them, they don’t get involved – they are in a dream world of their own, not involved in reality.  God is shaking the Church in South Africa awake and saying to us that we must wake-up out of our nice Sunday church and repent from our lack of doing deeds.  We have to engage in doing our Christian Faith, as an outworking of the gift of salvation that has come through God’s Grace.
Christians are often guilty of ignoring what goes on around us in our sleep-walking daze. Jesus says,’ Church – wake up to what is going on around you and walk the talk of compassionate caring.’  In the last issue of JOY! Magazine, we looked at two of the conditions we need to fulfil to see an amazing revival which is described in Isaiah 58.  Those conditions related to the need for us to engage in advocacy work on behalf of the poor and needy.   However, the prophet Isaiah goes on and shakes us awake as he says we need to engage in compassionate action deeds as well, before God in His Sovereignty will send us this wonderful revival.
In order for us to have this ‘goose bumps’ revival, Isaiah 58:6,7 says there must be: 
·                loosening the chains of injustice,
·                setting the oppressed free,
·                sharing your food with the hungry,
·                providing the poor wanderer with shelter and
·                clothing the naked
The issues of feeding the hungry, providing shelter and housing and clothing the naked are what I call – compassionate action.  We have divorced the Gospel from compassionate action.  The missionaries of 100 years ago and more, really got it right.  They brought the Gospel to those who were needy with hospitals, food and education.  Somehow, since then, the Church has been lulled into a deep sleep and forgotten to do these deeds.   Jesus responded to the needs of the whole man and so must we.  We cannot allow this separation between faith and action to continue any longer.

Where did you often find Jesus in the New Testament?  He was with the poor, the hungry, the sick, the down-trodden, the oppressed, the broken and the sinners. Christians today don’t like hanging around the poor, instead we try and avoid the beggar and ignore the broken shacks all around us.  For many Christians, the only level of compassionate action which they do, is to give away their old and often dirty, tatty clothes.
Jesus begins His public preaching ministry in Luke 4:17 by quoting Isaiah 61;1, 2. He says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.  He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.” Very significant that in the first sermon Jesus preached, He said that He had been anointed to preach good news to the poor.  It is also very significant to see what Jesus’ last sermon was to the general public. In Matthew 25, He preached His last sermon and it had the same theme with which He opened His ministry. The last sermon Jesus preached related to the poor and needy.  Also significant that somewhere in the middle of Jesus’ ministry, when John the Baptist was in prison he sent a message to Jesus questioning whether He was the Messiah. “Jesus replied, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see:  The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.’” Matt 11:4, 5
Look at Jesus’ final sermon to the crowds a day or two before He was crucified. It was a look into future reality, called the Day of Judgment
 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Matt 25: 34-40
Jesus final sermon to the Church of His time was all about the poor and needy and practically caring for them.   In Matthew 25:35 Jesus deals with six issues that all Christians must wake up and do. 
·    For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,  (food)
·    I was a stranger and you invited me in,  (housing)
·   I needed clothes and you clothed me,    (clothing)
·    I was sick and you looked after me,        (compassionate action)
·    I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Remember what Isaiah says for a great revival to come there must be:
·                loosening the chains of injustice,
·                setting the oppressed free,
·                sharing your food with the hungry,    (food)
·                providing the poor wanderer with shelter  (housing)
·                clothing the naked  (clothing)
Jesus adds two more responsibilities to Isaiah’s list of ‘must do’s’.  He adds visiting those in prison and looking after the sick.
So, Christian, wake up, step up and do it.  The Church has the moral and Biblical responsibility and the practical ability to bring about change.  Jesus trafficked amongst the lepers of his day.  Church, this could be our finest hour.  Let’s break the separation between what we believe and what we do. 
I deeply regret that during the first 20 years of my serving the Lord in full time Christian ministry, I was asleep to the Word of God and the opportunities around me in terms of the poor and needy. I did not understand what is God’s heart for the poor and needy and I am amazed by my blindness and sleepiness in not understanding God’s purposes for the Church to be involved with the poor and needy, the alien, the homeless, the hungry and the oppressed. God gives the Church the mandate of the poor. God has no other system to change poverty other than the Church. You cannot be neutral about God’s purposes for the Church to be welded to the poor and the needy as we preach the Gospel in all its fullness. My longing is that you will serve the purposes of God as you understand God’s Word for us at this time. 
Imagine God’s Church moving out all over suburbs, stimulating the economy and bringing hope to the hopeless and bringing us to repentance and faith in Christ, having built a relationship of compassionate care.  It’s no good doing medical work only.  We need to do more.  It’s no good doing social work only.  We are not called to do good works but God’s works. We know what His Will is.  It is clear on the issue of the poor and needy.   Church …wake-up…fulfil God’s plan.  Church, wake up and make your dream of a mighty revival come true by doing deeds of compassionate action.

The Value of a Christian Education

The Value of a Christian Education
Cheryl Douglas (a teacher at Bishops) and reportedly one of the managers of this Atheistic project says certain myths about evolution and natural selection as well as “proof” of such processes will be taught. Apparently teachers will be taught strategies to teach evolution effectively. Douglas further claims the reason why the broader public remains skeptical about evolution is because of the lack of necessary information.
This report is saddening when one looks at Bishops‘ spirituality statement. Hereunder a few extractions from their website:
“Ideals towards which we strive:
•      Our pupils will know, worship and love God who is the foundation of our lives.
•      Cherish God’s creation, seeing it as an integrated and indivisible whole…
•      As an Anglican Church School we follow the Christian way, aiming to live/learn the values of Jesus Christ, and to bear the fruit of the Spirit.
•      Believe and trust in God the Father who made the world.
•      God the Creator of the world calls us to treat His creation with reverence and to be good stewards of this world and its precious resources.”
At the heart of Diocesan College, physically and spiritually, is the Church. The School was founded by Robert Gray – the first Anglican Bishop of Cape Town in 1849 who provided Christian education to boys in the fast-expanding Cape Colony.
Gray’s vision of Bishops being “a great engine for the extension of the Pure faith of Christ” is under threat! JOY! requested an urgent interview either face to face or via email with the outgoing headmaster, Grant Nupen, to discuss this matter. He declined, stating that three full days was not sufficient time for him or Cheryl Douglas to answer the questions. I quote Mr Nupen:
“Bishops is aware of the difficulties involved in the theory of evolution into the curriculum. Mrs Douglas is a highly skilled and experienced teacher of Biology who will carefully train teachers to be sensitive to such difficulties. Good education is needed in these matters and students must be given a balanced introduction to enable them to understand the issues and thereby make an informed personal opinion.” The following questions are what I posed to Mr Nupen and Mrs Douglas.
•      Are you a practicing Biblical Christian?
•      What are your personal views on Creation and a Creator?
•      What are your personal views on Evolution?
•      It is stated that you are concerned that certain myths about evolution and natural selection need to be cleared up and taught accurately. Are you aware that Evolution is an unproven theory?
•      It is stated that you claim that the reason why the broader public remains skeptical about evolution is because they lack necessary information. Are you implying that  every Christian Academic, Scientist, Minister and Teacher are ill-informed or lacking adequate academic teaching?
•      Will Evolution be taught as a science or as an Atheistic Religion?
•      Into which subjects and grades has it been introduced?
•      Are parents aware of what is being taught to their children?
•      Were parents consulted about their opinion in this regard?
•      Will you be paid to manage this project?
•      Is Bishops’ Governing Body in agreement with the teaching of Evolution at the school?
•      Is the Anglican Church still the Spiritual oversight at Bishops?
•      Have they given their approval and endorsement to this project being taught at Bishops?
Unfortunately Bishops is one of the many hundreds of schools implementing this programme. We urge Christian parents to voice their concerns and to pray. 

Dedicating your children to God

By Dennis Loots

One of life’s most precious joys is the gift of a child. When a husband and wife are blessed with children there comes with that blessing great joy and awesome responsibilities. Christian parents acknowledge that their child belongs to God first and then to them. They are, in fact, raising God’s children. This means that their primary responsibility is to teach, model and instruct the child in the Christian faith, praying that at the right time they will make their own decision to follow Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Sunday Schools and other church programmes have a role to play but they do not, and cannot, take the place of the parents.

Parental responsibility
In the Old Testament the responsibility for raising children God’s way rests squarely on the parents. In Deuteronomy 6 we read: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  Deut 6:6,7
The picture presented is of parents loving and obeying God and, as a result, making the things of God a normal and everyday part of their interaction as a family. In our driven and busy world this is a great challenge. When God’s people see their children as a gift and recognise the high calling of parenthood, dedicating themselves and their children to God becomes a very meaningful experience.
This dedication begins in the hearts of the parents and works itself out in the way they conduct their lives and their homes. But it also finds expression in the Church when parents bring themselves and their children before their church family to publicly declare their dependence on God for this great task. Faith in Christ is personal but not private. Parents need the love, support and prayers of a church family as they seek to raise children God’s way. “And she said to him, ‘As surely as you live my Lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life will be given over to the Lord.’ And he worshipped the Lord there.” 1 Sam 1:26-28
Parents follow in Hannah’s footsteps as they give back to God what God has given to them. Dedicating children is both a personal act and a public ceremony. Through this act of dedication Christian parents make a commitment before God and the church, to dedicate themselves and their children to God’s Will, to raise their family according to God’s Word and to conduct their homes in a way that honours God.
They are asking God to strengthen them and to help them in this task. Some families ask a good friend or family member to be godparents to their children. For many this is simply a traditional arrangement in case something should happen to the parents. But when it is seen in the context of Christian commitment, it is an opportunity for those godparents to develop a relationship with that child, to support the parents and to pray regularly for the family, continually asking for God’s blessing and protection.
The dedication of a child is not a substitute for the child himself making a personal commitment to Christ. It is in fact an undertaking to give the child every opportunity to understand that responsibility and to make that commitment. In the act of dedication, parents are expressing joy and gratefulness to God for the amazing gift of a child. They are making a personal and public commitment “to train up the child in the way he should go.” What a joy it is for Christian parents to bring their children before the God of love, to dedicate them to the Saviour and to ask that His Grace, blessing and love would be evident in their lives.

Dennis Loots is the senior pastor of Somerset West Baptist Church. Call 021 852 1810 or see for more.