Motivatioal Gifts: Ruling & Mercy

Motivatioal Gifts: Ruling & Mercy
The gift of ruling/administration depicts one who gives leadership by working with and through others.Unlike servers, leaders do not take joy in the task themselves. They motivate and inspire other people to a common goal. They help the body define and carry out its goals and tasks by providing leadership.Biblical examples: Nehemiah (Neh 1-7) and Joseph (Gen 37-50).

Characteristics of a ruler
•  They have an ability to see the overall picture/vision and to clarify long-range goals. They can put long-range goals into their short-range context
•  They are motivated to organise what they are responsible for. They are not pushy; they do not rush in where they are not responsible. They motivate those around them to complete the task
•  They desire to complete the task at hand as quickly as possible
•  They look for resources to complete the task
• They have an ability to know what can or cannot be delegated. They also know who will do a job well
• They have a tendency to stand on the sidelines until those in charge hand responsibility over to them
• They have a tendency to assume leadership if none exists
• They have a willingness to endure reactions from workers. Their drive is to complete the task
• They are economical
• They get fulfilment in seeing all the pieces coming together and others enjoying the finished product
• They desire to move onto a new challenge when the last one is completed
• They prefer to be under authority, and knowing the boundaries they work in, they understand authority structures
• They have zeal and enthusiasm for whatever task in which they are involved.

a)    Their ability to delegate may appear to be laziness to avoid work
b)    Their willingness to endure reaction may appear as callousness
c)    Their neglect to explain why tasks must be done may prompt workers to feel that they are being misused. Ruler-motivated people need to encourage and exhort the people with whom they are working
d)    They view people as resources – this may cause it to appear that projects are more important than people
e)    Their desire to complete a task quickly may appear insensitive to the schedule, weariness, or priorities of workers.

How their counsel will help you
Their counsel will help you by pointing out mismanagement of time, or procedure, in accomplishing goals. Good planning is something each one of us needs to do. We all need vision, purpose and goals for our lives. They help us to remain focused. They provide well organised leadership.

As servers are ‘doers’, so mercy-motivated people are ‘feelers’. They are very sensitive people. This gift encompasses compassion, pity, gentleness and forbearance. It aims at helping people by empathising with them and doing good things for them. God weeps, laughs and feels with us. Their special gift is to ‘feel’ or sense where people are and to reach out in a supportive and compassionate way. They have a gift to sense when a person has heart-ache, hurt, anguish and fear. They can identify it, and begin to minister into the situation. Like givers, mercy-motivated people are quick to detect insincerity. Their spirit is closed to the insensitive or hard-hearted. A Biblical example: Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-15)

Characteristics of a mercy motivated person
• They have ability to feel depression in an individual or group
• They are drawn to help/understand people in distress
• They want to remove hurts and bring healing to others
• They have a greater concern for mental distress than physical distress
• They are sensitive to words and actions that will hurt others
• They have an ability to discern the sincere motives in people
• They avoid firmness unless they see how it will bring benefit. They will only be firm if they really see a need for it
• They experience enjoyment and unity with those who are sensitive to people’s need. They stick together
• They close their spirit to those who are insensitive or insincere
• They look for the good in other people
• They like to help people have reconciliatory relationships
• They are trustworthy and trusting
• They will intercede for other people’s hurt and problems.

a)     Their avoidance of firmness may appear as weakness and indecisiveness
b)     Their sensitivity to the Spirit and the feelings of others makes them appear to be guided by emotion instead of logic
c)     Their attraction and understanding of those in distress may be misinterpreted by the opposite sex
d)     Their sensitivity to words and actions which cause hurts may appear to be taking up another’s offense
e)     Their ability to detect insincere motives may cause some to feel that they are hard to get to know.

How their counsel will help you
Their counsel will help you to discern areas where others may be hurting and the need for sensitivity. Those with the gift of mercy are exhorted to minister with cheerfulness. It is common for mercy motivated people to be ‘moody’. They cannot hide behind their mercy motivation with depression. People with this gift may easily repress their feelings, especially men. They may be tempted to turn inward and become depressed. Since they ‘feel’ deeply, they can also be easily hurt. Their very gift prohibits them from being ‘tough’. So if you are mercy motivated, make sure that you keep yourself in the joy of the Lord, understanding that “the joy of the Lord is your strength” Nehemiah 8:10.

See next month’s issue for the follow-up article in the Motivational Gifts series.

A Civilisation in Crisis

A Civilisation in Crisis
Our world is in the grip of a spiritual and moral crisis. Western countries have largely abandoned their Christian foundations, and the Eastern world is awash with militant Islamic fundamentalism which aims to eradicate any Biblical influence. According to Tim Goeglein, the Vice President for External Relations at Focus on the Family, this crisis is rooted in fatherlessness and immorality.

Disturbing statistics
Tim was on a speaking tour in South Africa recently and shared his thoughts on the global crises and its origins. Having served in the White House as the Deputy Director of Public Liaison for George W. Bush, Goeglein is well equipped to comment on the political and social malaise facing modern civilisation.

Speaking to YPO leaders and businessmen, Tim noted the following: “40% of all marriages end in divorce. 75% of all second marriages end in divorce. 41% of Americans are born out of wedlock. These are dire stats. In 1965 Daniel Patrick Moynihan (who worked for President Johnson) looked at divorce and out of wedlock birthrates during WWI and the Great Depression and found that despite economic pressure and hardships, divorce and wedlock rates remained exactly the same. It was counter intuitive as people assumed that during tough, stressful times, one would see more divorces etc. Interestingly, not only did the rates stay the same in US, but all over the world.

Reason for concern
Fast forward to 1965, the first time in history that out of wedlock rate attained 25% (1 in 4), which according to Moynihan constitute a crisis. Not only a social and moral crisis, but also an economic crisis, as with a decline of the family, the fiscal obligations of government increase drastically.

The root cause of the problem
By 2011, 40% of all Americans are born out of wedlock. Domestic violence, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, are some of the pressing problems, but the primary cause of these evils is fatherlessness – a lack of fathering and absent parental influence – of epidemic proportions. It is not limited to the US though – studies show the rates are the same in other Westernised countries, including SA. As of today, not a single European country has fertility rates at replacement level. The whole concept of the nuclear family is under siege. If we continue on this trajectory, your children and grandchildren will understand a profoundly different concept of family and marriage.

The foundation of society
The foundations of liberty are virtue – moral excellence – that stems from the Judeo-Christian Faith. But if you destroy these pillars, you are curtailing your own liberty. You will eventually live in a civilisation hostile to liberty itself.  The great Irish parliamentarian and philosopher Edmund Burke rightly said a country, culture, and civilization cannot have order in the commonwealth if it does not first have order in the individual soul.   This is an expression of applied Christianity. The order in the individual’s soul can only come from a root of peace – that comes from Christ.

The Millennial Generation (18-29 years old) albeit a remarkable generation, are by their own admission often a culturally, historically and spiritually illiterate. Many of the pathologies we see today – teen pregnancy, high drop-out rates from school, and directionlessness – is an outgrowth of a profound  spiritual crisis. Why? Because you have weak families. Money and teachers won’t improve the graduation levels – stronger families will improve it. Our grandparents would be shocked at the social composition of our society today.

As the family goes, so goes
What is the genesis of this soulless epidemic? Simply put, your children have been culturised by a school system, Hollywood and the publishing industry to such an entrenched extent, that even if they are raised in a Christian home, they will disagree with you on the fundamentals of what constitutes a family, a home, parenting, etc. The media and spiritual quotient has changed. If you want to know the future of a country, show me the health of the family of that country; as the family goes, so goes the nation.

The solution to the problem
Politics is downstream from culture; you can’t save South Africa through politics. The government is not the solution to the problem. A restoration of the family (based on Biblical principles) is the hope of the nation. The principle difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals believe you must change politics to change culture. Conservatives say you must change culture to affect politics.

We have ceded authority and given license to alternatives that seek to influence and infiltrate society. You can’t impact culture if you are not in contact with it. Are we in touch with the youth and the social climate of today? Who is impacting your culture? Considering this analysis, you may see a bleak picture of a civilisation in despair, but we have hope, Jesus is the solution.“
“He will not falter or be discouraged till He establishes justice on earth. In His Law the islands will put their hope.” Isa  42: 4

Drawing from his extensive political experience and knowledge, we sat down with Tim to ask a few pertinent questions about the crises we see around us.

Looking at global events in Egypt and Libya and considering the sovereignty nations possess, what role should external bodies play?

I do not believe that every country only has interests and not allies. We are living in extraordinary times, and any politician who misreads the times we are living in, does so to their own detriment. In a centralised world of twitter and facebook, there are no longer one or two leaders leading revolution. When liberty is being violated, we have a responsibility to speak out. Nations have a moral obligation to work together when human life is at stake.

Looking at new superpowers like China, what is your snapshot of the political landscape?
No country is ever truly a superpower unless it articulates sanctity of life, liberty and family. No nation can be considered great until it codifies those principles. China may be an economic superpower, they may have remarkable military power and geographical influence, but unless the rule of law is a defining characteristic of China, until they allow liberty to flourish, until families are given the autonomy they deserve, then China is one other powerful nation, but not a superpower.

How would you sum up the Bush administration? And that of Obama?
My view is this: journalists (media) are often the first historians, but by the long lights of history, we will evaluate presidents and prime ministers and leaders in government not by what seems most immediately apparent, but by the dictates of history, and the results their policies actually achieved. I feel confident on the core issues, that George W. Bush will be seen as a successful president. I believe because of his policies, the US has been a counterweight to the rise of China. He kept us safe on our domestic soil; it is nothing short of miraculous that we did not have another terrorist attack on our country. History is a very tough judge and any great president must learn that it is a bad thing to be on the wrong side of history and that it is a great thing to be on the right side of history.

I believe that on big questions like human liberty, the sanctity of every life, the preservation of the family, George Bush will be aligned on the right side. The jury is still out on Barack Obama, as he is still in office. That said, domestically, Obama has made many policy choices that are in opposition to the family, marriage and in opposition to healthy parenting…with dire consequences.

What pressures do politicians face that the public is unaware of?
Having worked for one US Senator and a US President, I can say that the public pressures are so strong, that if the office holder is not systematic about it, it will impact their family. Whether you work in the Oval office or at the local store, you have the same responsibility – to ensure your family has a sacred and protected space; that your marriage is healthy. These relationships help one weather the stressors of public life.

Julian Assange (of Wiki-Leaks) is seen by some as the Robin Hood of politics…
I believe very firmly that for diplomats to do their jobs most effectively, they need to have a strong level of trust and confidentiality. For effective diplomacy that advances liberty for as many people as possible, the diplomat has to have trust; once that confidentiality is violated, it is a total violation – like the ones we have seen with WikiLeaks. These can have real ramifications for people in countries led by totalitarian regimes.

When they as opposition figures are able to speak with trust and confidence to liberty loving nations, if they feel that confidence, they can advance liberty.

WikiLeaks has exposed innocent people who have shown remarkable moral courage as opposition figures in their very difficult countries. It has potentially put their lives at risk. In my opinion there is no part of Robin Hood in that.

The War for the Millennial Generation

The War for the Millennial Generation
It wasn’t easy for a guy to find pornography when I was a teenager. I remember giving into the temptation to buy a ‘Hustler’ magazine when I was in high school. Inside the store I paced back and forth near the magazine rack for at least half an hour. My palms were sweaty, my heart was racing. I finally walked to the front of the store, put the magazine face down on the counter and avoided eye contact with the cashier as I forked over the cash.

I grew bolder in my sin when I turned 18, and visited an ‘adult bookstore’ (a strange label, really, since the men who frequented these seedy establishments did not act like mature adults). In 1976, anyone who wanted to see hard-core porn had to visit these awful places with garish signs and painted-over windows. As I pulled into the tiny parking lot, the heart palpitations returned.

Feeling convicted of sin
I rushed inside the shop with my head down so no one would see me on the street. Then, when I saw the graphic images on the magazines that lined the wall, I almost fainted from a combination of adrenaline, fear, nausea and guilt. I bought a thin magazine that didn’t cost much and literally ran out of that place.

As I was leaving I caught a glimpse of a bumper sticker I had put on my car a few months earlier, in response to some decisions I had made in a Baptist youth meeting. It said: ‘The difference in me is Jesus’. Suddenly I felt even sicker to my stomach. I was already convicted of my sexual sin; now I realised I was a hypocrite. All I wanted to do was get out of there. Before the night was over, the magazine I bought was in the trash and I felt miserable.

A few days later, while I was mowing my lawn on a hot day, I began to think about a Bible verse I had heard in church many times. I didn’t know the reference, but I was able to paraphrase it in my mind. It said: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matt 7:13-14.

The broad or the narrow way
I had never experienced a vision before, but at that moment I could see a fork in the road in front of me. I knew I was approaching a crossroads. I could either be a committed Christian, or I could choose a life of compromise. God was showing me that I needed to choose the narrow way before I took any more steps in the wrong direction. I was hit by a terrifying sense of the fear of God, but I also recognised this as His protective love. Within a few days I had surrendered my life to the Lordship of Christ.

I shared this embarrassing story recently when I spoke to a group of students at a Christian college. I knew many of them were at a spiritual crossroads. I also knew that in today’s cybersex world, they don’t have to go to adult bookstores to see porn. The voice that lured me to downtown Atlanta in 1976 has become more brazen and aggressive today, making porn available 24/7 – on the Web, TV and even cellphones.

Pray for the Millennial generation
Young people today [11-29] – the so-called Millennial Generation* – are continually assaulted by temptations that kids didn’t face in the 1970s. The war for a generation is on – and it is intense. Families are in shambles. Many kids are fatherless. Media has entirely rewritten our moral values in a few short years. Casual sex is considered a ‘normal’ pastime for 14 year olds. And many teenagers today haven’t been exposed to the Gospel, so chances are slim that they might remember a Bible verse from childhood or feel the sting of guilt like I did years ago.

That’s why I’m devoting my time to pray for a spiritual awakening to touch the younger generation. The devil has claimed today’s youth, but the same God who averted disaster in my life can do it in theirs.

The Bondage Breaker

It was 1970, I was a struggling young missionary in Lesotho. Some times only five people would show up to hear me preach. Rather than labour in an empty room, I went where the people were. In the capital city of Maseru, where I lived, I would preach four times a day in the markets, at bus stops and in schools. This story took place during my early ministry years…

A bright young man
Dolphin Monese was a bright young student. He had a big smile and flashing brown eyes. Dolphin studied the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He liked the way they undermined the Christian Church. The Church in the Kingdom of Lesotho had become weak and ineffective; rather than follow a dead religion, Dolphin attacked it. In Maseru, he had become a Jehovah’s Witness champion. Each day he walked to school with his friends and they would discuss the great issues of life.
One day as they walked along, they saw a blind man at a bus stop playing a piano-accordion for money. They wanted to take a closer look, especially because the beggar was a white man. But as Dolphin came closer, he realised the man was not blind and he was not a beggar. He was singing happy songs of praise to Jesus in the local Sesotho dialect. The man is a simpleton, he thought.

Preaching in the streets
Suddenly the man picked up his Bible and began to preach. One of the men in the crowd interpreted for him. It was a trick. The man used his music to attract people out of sympathy. The simpleton is clever at least, Dolphin thought. He knew it was not easy to gather a crowd in Maseru to hear preaching.
Hearing the Gospel
I was the blind beggar on the street that day, preaching my heart out. When I finished my sermon, Dolphin stepped forward – not to accept Jesus – but to argue with me. Since he spoke English, we did not need the interpreter. I knew that I could not change this young man’s mind by engaging in a mind-battle. He went on and on attacking Christianity, till eventually the crowd and even his friends departed. It was just the two of us on that curb.
“May I say something” I asked.
“Sure” he replied. “I want to say that God loves you. We were all born in sin and bound for eternal hell, yet He loved us enough to…”
“There is no hell” Dolphin interrupted.
“You will have to argue that with Scripture Dolphin. Eternal torment is in the Bible. But that is not the Good News. The Good News is that God loved the world, even in its sin, and gave His only Son as a sacrifice for us.
Salvation is a free gift, paid for by someone else. We cannot earn it by being smart, or by learning the right things, or by doing all the right things. When we accept this great gift of salvation, He fills us with His love and peace and we are promised eternal life with Him in Heaven. Have you accepted Jesus as your Saviour?”

Accepting Christ
Dolphin left that day promising to return and correct my bad theology. I welcomed him to return, but inwardly I hesitated. I knew he would take advantage of my open door. Every day he returned ready to argue. His school breaks were timed so that he could come hear me at the bus stop. In time I found the opportunity to counter most of his arguments from Scripture. But this was still not enough to convert him. He was a tough nut to crack.
One day as I preached, I sensed a powerful anointing and presence of the Holy Spirit. After my sermon that day, Dolphin stepped forward. “I am ready to accept Jesus Christ as my Saviour,” he said.

A source of bondage
Amazement, almost disbelief leapt up in my heart. This was an incredible moment. The Holy Spirit whispered inside me, telling me that Dolphin should not just make an inner decision for Christ, but he must make a clean break with the Jehovah’s Witnesses at the same time. This was still a source of bondage for him. “Get in my car” I said. He did. When we were inside I said to him, “We will drive to your house and burn all your Jehovah’s Witness books. Are you ready to do that?”
Immediately Dolphin had an inner struggle. So much of his knowledge was bound up in those books. They had given him pride and a place in the world. They had made him feel superior. If I did not place a clear choice before him, he would go into a time of struggle that would last for a long time. “Choose Jesus or Jehovah’s Witnesses,” I said.

Breaking bridges
At last Dolphin nodded. “You are right, let us go get the books and burn them.” This was a sign to me that the Spirit of Jesus had entered his heart. By burning these books, he was breaking the bridges to his past – bridges that the devil would have loved to keep under constant traffic. I drove to his house. He went inside and brought out an armful of books, depositing them in my minibus. “Are these all of them?”
“I have another shelf of books at my grandmother’s house in the village.”
“We will go there and get them. Get in.”
“But I don’t own those books. They are borrowed.”  said Dolphin. “I will pay for the books you borrowed. But we will burn them today, borrowed or not.” I replied.

Dolphin agreed. He gathered all the books from the village and put them in the car. I purchased a container of gasoline and placed the books in a barrel. I doused them with fuel and then handed Dolphin the match. When he lit it and dropped it into the barrel, an explosion of flames leapt into the air. I felt a great sense of relief. As the books burned, I could see a new Dolphin Monese emerge.
The burden of carrying a heavy religious yoke was exchanged for the easy yoke and light burden of Jesus Christ. Joy, peace, gentleness, meekness – all the fruit of the Spirit came pouring forth. In the years that followed, Dolphin grew in faith. I asked him to be my interpreter on many occasions and he learned much about preaching and ministering through this process.
He went on to Bible school, and today he is the pastor of a wonderful church in Lesotho. His intellect and personality are submitted to the Will of the Lord and his winning smile and pleasant face is a joy and comfort to thousands.

Note from Reinhard Bonnke
As witnesses and evangelists, we must not be clever, we must be clear. Our message is the simple Gospel, not higher consciousness. We are not helping people to get God right, but to get right with God. The Holy Spirit alone opens hearts and minds.

Introducing Child Theology

Introducing Child Theology
It seemed to me that it might be useful this evening to try to describe Child Theology in the context of my personal journey of discovery. The narrative will give us a chance to note related aspects of theology (like, for example Children’s Spirituality) that feed into and draw from Child Theology, but are not the same thing.  And it will also help us get to know each other better.

Stage One:  Living among Children
I was born into a rather unusual household in the East End of London (very near where the 2012 Olympics will be held in fact).  My grandparents had shared their lives with motherless children, and my parents did the same: in the very same house!  This is how it came about that I grew up alongside forty other children, and when I married, Ruth and I continued the family tradition and live in exactly the same place over 110 years after my grandparents began their life’s work.

So I have been living among children virtually all my life.  And this introduced me to two aspects of theology that I wish to note.  The first is children’s spirituality.

Children’s Spirituality
There has been a lot written about this in recent years including a book just out called Listening to Children on the Spiritual Journey by Catherine Stonehouse and Scottie May (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids 2010).  The core idea is that children have their own ways of making sense of the transcendent: they are hard-wired for relationships of many sorts.  In our desire to teach them Christian faith we risk not listening to and appreciating how they are already reaching out to, in touch with, and reflecting on, that which is beyond.  Rather than relying solely on catechisms and didactic methods of instruction (however lively and enlightened) it is important, as Gibran memorably pointed out, to give children space for “their own thoughts”.  Godly Play is an expression of how this can be done.

Now this is has not been a total surprise to me because I have had the privilege of growing up and living alongside children and listening to them all through my life.  At first I was amazed at the depths of their insights, and the integration of thought and feelings, but then I came to realize that as an adult I had much to learn from them as well as to teach them.  It was a question of how best to do this.

One incident stands out above all others: we were camping in North Wales, and my late brother in law was tucking up three Nigerian youngsters who lived with us for the night.  He had read a story to them, and then they prayed.  I noticed him leave the tent with tears in his eyes.  Concerned, I sidled up to him to ask what was wrong.  He pointed to the tent and, through his tears, said that they were praying and he didn’t feel worthy to stay in their presence.  The prayer was continuing and so I was able to listen to the earnest, and remarkably honest prayer from outside the tent, and it wasn’t long before I was feeling the same way.  It was as if God was present, and so near that it was possible for the boys to whisper and for Him still to hear their every word.  They prayed for members of their family far away, and those who were part of their new extended family: there was a sense of deep connections, forgiveness and above all integrity.  This was for me a memorable introduction to children’s spirituality.

Then I think of a time when I was gardening with one of the teenagers we help.  We were doing some weeding of the vegetable patch where not so long ago we had built our annual bonfire to celebrate November 5th (Guy Fawke’s Night).  The ashes had long since been disposed of, and among the plants growing were some fine specimens of rhubarb.  The young person looked at the sturdy stems and wide green leaves and commented:  “Rhubarb reminds me of God”.  I paused to take this in, and eventually had to tell him that he had lost me a little: in fact I couldn’t begin to make the connection.  He went on without hesitation: “It’s so patient and forgiving.  If someone had a bonfire on top of me every year I would be very angry and certainly would not produce anything for them to eat.  Yet the rhubarb comes up year after year with no trace of resentment.”

Child Theology will always recognize that children have experiences and thoughts about God that will bring light and understanding to adults.  But that is not what Child Theology is primarily about.  This leads us to the second discovery, Children’s Theology.

Children’s Theology
Children can be theologians in the sense that they will have their own brands of theology, and their particular ways of expressing the truths that they discern.  This means that it is not always adults who teach theology: at best it should be a two-way process (like all learning).  I do not mean that children’s theology is on a par with mature adult theology, but that we must not assume their minds are a tabula rasa as far as theology is concerned.

Let me give you an example from a Godly Play session that I was invited to attend.  The subject was the Ten Commandments.  The leader told the story of what happened at Mount Sinai, and went on to explain how Jesus taught new insights into God’s law.  One of the things he said was that we should love God, and our neighbours as ourselves  But even more than that, we should love our enemies.  This was too much for one of the children.  “Are you serious?” he asked.  “I can’t even love my sister, so how could I love someone I hated?”  (His sister nodded sagely in agreement.)  “If that is what Jesus taught then you can count me out.  What about the Koran?  What does it say?  Is it any more realistic?”

The discussion continued to consider why the armies of our own country were currently fighting their enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Why didn’t our government listen to and obey Jesus?

What I was witnessing was a child doing theology.  He was thinking out loud about what the Scriptures and Jesus taught and trying to relate this to his own situation and the world around him.  What is that, if it is not theology?

In numerous ways children do theology, notably in their questions and prayers.  This is never to be patronized or dismissed:  who can say that adult humans are any nearer to the whole truth from God’s point of view?

But this is not what we mean by Child Theology, and this leads me to the next stage on my journey of discovery.

Stage 2:  Caring for Children
As I took more responsibility for caring for the children and young people it fell to me to assume the leading role in teaching them about God, Jesus and the Bible.  This leads me to the third important activity connected with (but distinct from) Child Theology, Religious Education.

Religious Education
There are different terms for this around the world, but in essence the process is about how Christian adults communicate the Christian faith to children.  This is theology for children, and it has a long pedigree.  There are pictures and illustrations, children’s Bibles, children’s catechisms, Sunday Schools and Bible Classes, children’s books and aids to Bible study, children’s hymns and choruses: all of which have the intention of teaching children about the Christian faith.

Some see this teaching as a task to be undertaken solely by the church, but I have always been convinced that the family (“little church” as it has been called) had a vital role in this too.  So it fell to me to think about how best to do this in our unusual household.  The children came from different faith backgrounds and cultures, they varied in their knowledge of church and the Bible, and they had very different intellectual abilities, and to cap it all there was a large age range!

It took several years of experimenting before I came to realize that most of the resources on offer for families made the same assumption: the Bible itself was mostly unintelligible and uninteresting to children.  It was best dispensed in small doses, and “the pill” needed to be sugared with lots of lively additional material and activity.  In time I came to see that the reverse was the case: the narrative of the Bible was what held the children’s attention.  You know that this idea is at the heart of the meaning of the word “Gospel”: it is riveting, spell binding good news!

Jennifer Rothschild: A Blind Woman’s Incredible Vision

Jennifer Rothschild: A Blind Woman’s Incredible Vision
How do I look?” Jennifer Rothschild holds out her arms, patiently awaiting inspection. Setting aside the newspaper, her husband, Phil, carefully examines her from head to toe, smoothing a stray lock of hair and dabbing at a misplaced fleck of mascara before declaring, “Beautiful.”

Of course that’s what every wife wants to hear. But for Jennifer her husband’s response isn’t so much about making her feel good, it’s about making sure she really does look okay – something she can’t determine for herself, since she’s blind. So Phil has become her mirror. He applies Jennifer’s nail polish, picks out her clothing, and checks her hair and make-up each morning.

Relying on her husband
“Thankfully he’s not colour blind!” Jennifer jokes. But then she admits, “He’s saved me from some embarrassing situations. Like the time I nearly went out of the house with lip liner on my eyes and eye liner on my lips!” (Yes, Jennifer still does her own makeup).

Grace and grit
Jennifer’s dreams of becoming a commercial artist faded with her blindness, but words and music have replaced her canvas and palette for more than 25 years.

At age 15, she was looking forward to earning her driver’s license and dreamt of turning her love of drawing into a career as a commercial artist or cartoonist. The only bump in the road seemed to be some vision problems, which she hoped could be corrected with stronger glasses. When that didn’t help, she and her parents consulted a specialist at an eye hospital.

“It is well with my soul”
What they learned was devastating – Jennifer had a rare degenerative disease, retinitis pigmentosa, which would slowly steal her sight and eventually leave her blind. It was a blow, to be sure, but Jennifer and her parents accepted the diagnosis with a quiet grace.

In fact, one of the first things Jennifer did after returning home was to sit at the piano and play, by ear, a favourite hymn: ‘It is well with my soul’.  Though she had been taking piano lessons for years and practised diligently every night, she noticed that this time it was different. Looking back, she believes God guided her hands to play ‘It is well with my soul’ by ear.

To Jennifer, the miraculous event wasn’t that she could play the song, but that it was actually well with her soul. This is the greatest lesson that God has taught Jennifer in the school of suffering: it doesn’t have to be well with your circumstances for it to be well with your soul.

God uses our circumstances
The last book she read prior to losing her sight was Joni Eareckson Tada’s 1976 autobiography, which detailed her spiritual journey after being paralysed in a teenage diving accident. “She became a hero to me, a hero in my heart, even though I didn’t know I was going to lose my sight,” recalls Jennifer. “During my difficult days, I would think, ‘if she could do it, so can I.’

Sometimes you need to look to someone who embodies faith.” Since her diagnosis, Jennifer says that one of the hardest lessons she’s had to learn is that God uses painful circumstances to refine us. Today, Jennifer hopes that she can provide similar inspiration for others, regardless of the nature of their struggles, through her ministry as an author and speaker.

Walking by faith, not by sight
As Jennifer was learning lessons in the dark, her steps of faith led her to ministry. Shortly after she played ‘It is well with my soul’ by ear, she wrote a song and sang it for her high school choral director. To Jennifer’s surprise, the director asked her to sing her song in the school’s concert. From there she continued to use the gift of song. She led worship weekly at a Christian gathering for hundreds of college students. Soon word spread about Jennifer’s musical talents, and she sang everywhere.

Jennifer met Phil in the early 80s at college, where she was studying psychology and Phil, who was a year ahead of her, was studying business management. Jennifer was immediately attracted to Phil’s charismatic personality – though he insists it was actually his hair. “I had a big, bushy Afro, and Jennifer had long black hair,” Phil says.

For his part, Phil recalls being impressed by Jennifer’s spirit. “I’d see her walking through the cafeteria with a friend, and I knew her eyesight was terrible and getting worse by the day. She was beautiful, but also spunky, witty and smart. I just knew we’d complement each other, and I wanted to take care of her.” They dated off and on over the next few years, eventually Phil proposed.
Together for better or for worse
Though they knew their marriage would face difficulties created by Jennifer’s eventual blindness, Phil had no doubts. “It was never a concern for me,” he says. “Jennifer was smart and talented, and I knew she had so much to offer. Losing her eyesight was something we’d make the most of and rise above. And although it’s been difficult at times, together we’ve been able to do that with God’s grace.”

“Phil’s an eternal optimist,” Jennifer says, smiling. “The word ‘problem’ doesn’t exist. In his dictionary, it’s called ‘opportunity’. When he chooses to be committed, he’s totally committed. And he’s resourceful. I was confident he’d do whatever it took to make it work.”

After she and Phil married in 1986, he encouraged her to make a professional recording. That first cassette tape created more opportunities to sing in new venues and soon she was invited to lead worship with well-known Christian speakers such as Beth Moore – which opened the door for Jennifer to share her story. After this, she was asked to speak at various women’s events.

A new ministry
Jennifer admits she initially felt unqualified for such a task. But Phil’s belief in her was solid. “When my first speaking invitation came, Phil took the call and said, ‘Sure she’ll speak.’ He has always had more confidence in me than I’ve had in myself. To me, that shows what kind of man he is, and affirms that he’s the one God chose for me.”

Phil’s business expertise and his belief in Jennifer’s gifts make him the perfect person to be her business manager. “My role is to believe in Jennifer and her message and to find opportunities not just to share that message but to grow and develop.”
God has continued to use their shared gifts to expand their ministry and in 2008 the couple launched a women’s conference ministry called ‘Fresh Grounded Faith’. Jennifer does between 30 and 40 speaking engagements each year, primarily on weekends, which allows her to be at home with Phil and sons, Clayton, 21, and Connor, 12, during the week. She’s also appeared on several television programmes, including the Billy Graham Prime Time Special, The Dr. Phil Show, and Good Morning America.

Self talk, soul talk
Jennifer has also written six books, including the bestselling ‘Lessons I Learned in the Dark’. Of her latest book ‘Self Talk, Soul Talk’ Jennifer says: “I entertained a steady stream of self talk over the years. And unfortunately, lots of it was destructive. God began to show me when I was in my twenties the damaging effect of what I was saying to my soul and that if I didn’t control my thoughts, they would control me. He showed me the best way to control my thoughts was to make them truthful.”

Experiencing God’s grace
Whether writing a book, song, or speech, Jennifer finds most of her ideas through daily living. “God writes a book in my life before I put it on paper,” she observes. Known for spiritual depth, and a down-to-earth style, Jennifer weaves together music, colourful illustrations, and Biblical Truth to help audiences find contentment, walk with endurance and celebrate the ordinary.

Visit or follow Jennifer on facebook at

Purging Your House, Pruning Your Family Tree

Purging Your House, Pruning Your Family Tree
Do the following questions express what you have felt in the past:
• Does a weeping willow describe your family tree?
• Did you pick up some bad DNA from someone in your lineage?
• Is there a warfare going on that you won’t talk about?
• What are the keys to a happy home?

Removing hindrances in your life
There are two important ways for you to alter your present personal situations and experience a great emotional and spiritual future – by purging your house and pruning your family tree. Purging your house involves removing spiritual, emotional and mental hindrances. Pruning your family tree involves a process I call redemptive alterations that positively impact your future when the Word of God defeats the sin habits and overcomes the carnal nature through regeneration.

In the world in which we live today, there are many indicators to show that dissatisfaction and disillusionment are on the rise. No one wants to be viewed as a failure. You were created to dream and given gifts to make the dream happen. However unplanned disruptions build roadblocks on the road to destiny.

Finding the root of the problem
External factors contribute to these feelings, but not all the reasons for your negative attitudes come from these causes. Internal root problems can hinder you from success in your life. When more than 50% of marriages end in divorce and millions cannot sleep without being medicated, we should find out where the root problem lies.

God’s Word can alter the circumstances of your life and bring a change that will positively impact your family. There is a way for you to purge your house from negative family, or generational roots, and there are steps that you can take to prune your family tree of lifeless, non-fruit-bearing branches. If you practice Biblical principles, you will see the Lord change your situation.

Planting the seed of God’s Word
The good seed of God’s Word dwells in you and what you are continually planting into the hearts and minds of your family will outlive you, long after your physical house (your body) has ceased from the earth and has returned to the dust. If you are blessed with a Christian family, continue to produce good fruit. If you are beginning a family, plant the good seed and expect a good harvest.

The soil is our heart, the seed is the Word of God, and the water is the Holy Spirit. The sunlight is the illumination you receive in God’s presence. You can initiate the beginning of a family tree that will one day be marked with a generational legacy in the same manner that great Christian leaders (like Jonathan Edwards and Billy Graham) have been blessed with.

Eden Ministries: Worshipping the Lord

Eden Ministries: Worshipping the Lord
People long to know and feel God’s touch in a real way, yet don’t always experience His presence. With a passion for worship, Eden Ministries (an interdenominational worship ministry established 21 years ago) is helping believers in worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth. Through dance and music, the ministry teaches Christians Biblical patterns of worship. According to Izak Coetzee, the founder of Eden Ministries, “From the beginning to the end of Scripture the express desire of God and the one thing that seems to please Him above all else, is our priestly worship with thanksgiving.”

Drawing near
Worship is the only way in which we, as His redeemed creatures, can draw near to our Creator and get to know Him personally. In fact, we read in Psalm 22:3 that God inhabits our praises. “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me…” Ps 50:23.

“You (God) do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart.” Ps 51:17. Worship, unfortunately, is also the one area in which satan is the most active in his deception by keeping us from doing what God calls us to do.

Old Testament examples
We should ask what happened to the pattern of worship of men like Abraham and other Old Testament saints, who prostrated themselves in humility and adoration before God in worship, or danced wildly before the Ark of the Covenant through the streets of Jerusalem like King David?

Today, believers would rather write long expositions about the reason why the New Testament Christian does not have to worship as the Old Testament believers did than lose their dignity by publicly prostrating and dancing before the Lord. Unless, however, the whole person – body, soul and spirit – submits completely to God “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” Matt 22:39, there is still a part of the rebellious self that will not be crucified.
Restoring Biblical worship

The mission of Eden Ministries is to restore the intimate, physical and demonstrative worship of the Bible in the Body of Christ.  The physical expression of worship should not be an exhibition of talent or an element of entertainment during a church gathering, but should be the integral activity of such a gathering, flowing from an informed and intimate relationship with God.

How is that done? By becoming physically and spiritually fit and disciplined. For this purpose, all the members of Eden Ministries – ordinary men, women and children – meet on a weekly basis to study the Word of God and practise to physically express their adoration and worship towards Him. During the past seven years, they have established six satellite schools outside Gauteng and even as far as Namibia. These groups receive step-by-step instructions on the practical and theoretical curriculum by means of distance learning methods.

Joyful celebrations
All these group gatherings and training culminate in the annual celebrations of the seven Feasts of the Lord (Leviticus 23). As these feasts are the types and antitypes of God’s Plan of Redemption for mankind, they are part of our spiritual heritage and it is this reality which guides the feast celebrations. At the feasts, all the Eden Ministry groups come together to minister as one harmonious Bride before the Bridegroom, thanks to diligent commitment and hard work throughout the year.

The missionary field
It is now our desire to extend our services into the missionary field by replicating our satellite school system in Africa and the Middle East. This we hope to do with the co-operation of missionaries and churches in these countries. In this way, the whole Body of Christ, irrespective of nationality, ethnic background or tongue, will be able to worship in complete unity as one Body before the Lord. This, we feel, is true, Biblical worship – to express our admiration and love to God, using our bodies as the instruments and entering into His presence; His way, not our way.

King David: The Atonement Story

King David: The Atonement Story
David was troubled. Jerusalem lay before him, grey under the shadows of approaching rains. As the king gazed from the window of his palace, his mind was haunted by the dark things from his past. It was getting warmer, and soon he would again go out to war against the sons of Ammon.

The fall of David
Many things kept him from peace as he watched his city. His life was coloured red from the blood of battle. Yet he had achieved so much. All the tribes of Israel were again united, and he had conquered his neighbours to every border.

From the window he could see the courtyard where he had first seen Bathsheba. As he thought of her David mused, “I will soon be a father again. What will I give to this child when I feel so spent from life?” An old guilt pressed upon him as he remembered how Bathsheba’s nakedness had possessed him.

“No, it was not lust”, David told himself, hanging his head, “I first loved her the moment we met in the desert Ziph.” Images of the young Bathsheba came to him. It had been at a perilous time, escaping from Saul. Her clothes were dust-stained and tattered, yet she glowed with an inner-beauty. He adored her. But at what cost did they share their love? David closed his eyes, pressing his fingers through his beard.
Uriah, David thought of the soldier he had ordered to the front lines.

“Men die in battle,” David groaned. “I did nothing wrong.” A cold breeze touched David’s exposed skin, carrying the smell of rain. He’d lost the favour of many good men.

Being confronted by truth
Eliam was a strong fighter, David thought of Bathsheba’s father with a sigh. He had been loyal – one of his Mighty Men. Now he despised David for bringing such shame to his family.

Ahithophel. David longed for the sage counsel of Bathsheba’s grandfather. “Oh Lord, I was not wrong in loving her,” David prayed, looking out at the dark clouds when he heard someone walk into his private chambers. He was suddenly irritated at the intrusion. “I said I wanted to be alone with my thoughts. Do you not…” Turning, David saw Nathan. “My friend, it is you.”

David stiffened as he met the prophet’s eyes. Something was wrong. “I come not for pleasantries, my king,” Nathan said, and David heard the heaviness of his voice. “I come to seek judgement.”

The prophet speaks…
David moved to the centre of the room, indicating Nathan to sit. He declined. “There were two men in one city, one rich and one poor,” Nathan began to speak as David sat on an ivory chair, a shaft of light illuminating the redness in his hair. “The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.”

Confronting King David
The king listened, taking in the prophet’s words. “Now a traveller came to the rich man, but he refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for his guest. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man.”

David’s fists tightened at the words, and he glared at Nathan. “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die,” David roared. “He must pay for that lamb four times over. He had no pity.” Nathan’s eyes flared in rage. “You are the man!” he said with trembling fingers. The words sounded harsh from tight lips. David’s eyes widened as he jumped up, knocking over the chair.

The punishment for sin
“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.’”

David could not speak. His heart pounded in his chest. For months he had reasoned away his guilt, even at the cost of feeling God’s presence diminish. And in an instant, Nathan had made him judge himself. The weight of the truth crushed him, the walls closing in on him. He could not breathe.

Nathan thundered on, a powerful energy emanating from him. “Why did you despise the Word of the Lord by doing what is evil in His eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised Me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives openly. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight…’”

A broken heart
David stepped back with wild eyes, the words assaulting him. “I’ve sinned against Jehovah,” was all he could get from his lips, his face bleak with sorrow.

“David, the Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.”

David knew there would be no rest for him as the prophet’s words thrashed though his mind. His lips quivered. Then Nathan ruined him. “Only, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of Jehovah to blaspheme, this child born to you shall die.”

“Oh Lord, No. Please, have mercy on me, O God, according to Your loving-kindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions,” David cried out, lifting his hands up to the stone roof, draped with silk. With a breaking voice, he doubled over, gasping for air. The King tore his robe in agony. “Not my child, Lord.” David wept…

Self Sabotage

Self Sabotage
The easiest explanation for self-sabotage is ‘unconsciously working against oneself’. So why would we work against ourselves, we question; when life is about success, fulfilment and moving forward? Clearly there are functions, or rather, dysfunctions, that cause a gap between these aspirations and our ‘reality’.

Self-sabotage is just one of many contributing factors to misery and a lack of fulfilment in our lives. An initial response to these words may cause us to immediately distance ourselves from our perception of it. “I never do that”, we are quick to respond. However, on closer observation, we should ask ourselves:
•    “What frustrates me?”
•     “What is the boss’ constant complaint?”
•     “Why can I never lose weight?”
•     “Why do I not keep friends?”
•     “Why do others seem able to save money but I never have any to spare?”
Another way to observe ‘self-sabotage’ is by listening to the ‘tapes we play in our head’. Do we recognise any of these:
•    “I can’t be happy until…I have lost 10kg’s…found a wife…am rich”
•    “I cannot trust people; they will hurt me”
•    “Making a mistake is terrible”.

Do you self-sabotage?
These ‘tapes’ can be limitless and self-sabotagers are overwhelmed by them, and thus feel incapacitated to change.

“I still don’t understand the concept of self-sabotage”, one may say, and “how do I know if I do this to myself?”  Try this simple exercise  – draw up a list with a left and right column (see table below).  List your goals and wishes, and on the right hand side, what stops you from achieving it. The right hand column is the tell-tale of how you sabotage yourself. Another aspect to self-sabotage is the secondary gain that we may be receiving from this behaviour. How does it benefit us?
•    The person that wanted to serve healthy meals for her family,  may receive lots more affirmation by babysitting, receiving visitors etc, than from her family for cooking the healthy meal, but the family lose out
•    The businessman who employs ‘the saddest story’ may receive lots of affirmation as being the ‘nice guy’, but his business is going to suffer.

On the left hand side of a page, write your goals:
On the right hand side, write what inhibits them:

‘Things I would like to achieve/Healthy Habits’

‘What stops me achieving these?’

Example: Prepare a meal that includes vegetables,  cooked every night, without resorting to ‘Take-aways’.

Visitors popping in, asked to babysit, transport, run an errand. This makes me too busy to plan a meal, never mind shop for it!

Example: For my business to grow, I need to employ self-motivated and trainable staff.

I feel so sorry for everyone’s ‘sad stories’ in the interview, that I end up employing the ‘saddest story’ rather than the most competent person.


Can you break this cycle? Most definitely!     
Set an achievable goal:
• Cooking a meal with vegetables every night may be unrealistic, so start with three nights a week; trying to lose 10kg’s is too overwhelming – try 2kg’s first
• These achievable goals need to be set within realistic time frames – and you need to stick to them: How long should you take to lose these 2kgs? Two weeks or one month?
• Look at what is working, not at what is not working: i.e. I managed to save money on ‘take-aways’ two nights this week by cooking twice. Acknowledging the things we get right, no matter how small the achievement, prevents us from getting to the ‘I give up’ part
• Listen to the words that we speak. Are they complaints and woes, or are the words uplifting and about the many blessings from God? Take a realistic inventory, and count your blessings
• Surround yourself with mentors and people who do things (Not out of busyness, but out of lack of procrastination).

Perhaps you have deduced that ‘none of the above’ applies to you. Then allow me to nudge the self-sabotage gestures that we all perform in our relationship with God. There is a God-vacuum in all of us that can only be filled by nothing other than God Himself. However, we look to relationships, jobs, finances, hobbies, and busyness – anything that attempts to fill the vacuum. This is spiritual self-sabotage.

The late Selwyn Hughes loved to quote from Jeremiah 2:13: “My people have…forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns.” We look for our identity and self-worth in everything else on earth except in Christ alone, and while we do that, we are the chief of all self-sabotagers!

BEVERLEY DYE , is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner working in partnership with the ICP. For info call 011 827 7611 or