Letter to God

Letters to God
With cancer affecting more and more people every year, many of us know someone in the throes of the disease. Perhaps you personally have experienced the pain of sickness and the absence of laughter and faith. This is exactly the place where many of the characters in the heart-warming novel and film, ‘Letters to God’, find themselves…

A story of hope
Inspired by a true story, ‘Letters to God’  chronicles the true life of a boy with brain cancer. Eight year old Tyler Doherty copes with his disease by writing letters to God – his friend and ultimate pen pal. Surrounded by a loving family and community, and armed with unshakable faith, Tyler’s Heaven-bound letters to God find their way into the hands of postman Brady McDaniels. Struggling with alcohol abuse and dispirited by divorce, Brady is unsure of what to do with these letters. He follows the advice of his bartender and decides to drop the letters off at a church. The church pastor, however, surprises Brady by sending him on a special mission…
An out-of-the-ordinary relationship starts between postman Brady and the Doherty family (consisting of Tyler’s mom, grandmother and brother). Moved by Tyler’s courage and faith, Brady realises what he must do with the letters – a surprise decision that will transform his heart and uplift his new found friends and community.

Based on a true story
‘Letters to God’ was written by Patrick Doughtie, the real-life father of Tyler, together with John Perry. Patrick lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where he is a devoted member of the Grace Baptist Church. In 2005, his son, Tyler, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, an aggressive brain tumour.

Doughtie decided to tell his son’s story to bring attention to childhood cancer.  “I began writing the book but soon became overwhelmed with depression. During this time, I decided a book would take me too long so I took a screenwriting course. I began writing a script for a fictional movie based on Tyler’s cancer.” Christian filmmaker, David Nixon (co-producer of ‘Facing the Giants’ and ‘Fireproof’) noticed his script and together with Doughtie produced the film. Although Doughtie fictionalised many of the elements of Tyler’s story for both the big screen and novel, it is clear that the story comes from a deeply personal place.

Dealing with real issues
The fictionalised elements, such as the existence of postman Brady McDaniels or Maddy’s outburst at Bible quotations failing to cure her son, help to portray the text’s ultimate message of man’s search for meaning and hope. “Quit telling me what God says!” Maddy yelled.

“Stop quoting the Bible to me! It’s not curing my son!” After Maddy’s outburst, Granna, the beloved grandmother, writes a letter (or sends a prayer) to God: “Dear God, She’s moving away from You. Lord, that little boy needs to see her faith, her trust in You…”

‘Letters to God’ demonstrates the importance of a loving and supportive community and church family in times of crisis. The film and novel don’t offer answers, but rather present a realistic, yet hopeful picture of living with cancer.  If you know someone who is suffering from cancer, or someone who is losing faith and hope due to depression, suggest that they write a letter to God – it is an easy way of praying. And as Tyler says, “It’s like texting a friend!”

We are living letters
2 Corinthians 3:2 says that we ourselves are letters, “known and read by everybody.” Ask your local church to screen this movie or consider reading the novel in your book club. This is the type of encouraging and inspiring story everyone needs to hear: it will move you to find hope, faith and comfort in life’s hardships, for “[w]e are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Cor 4:8-9

Feel up to a challenge? Consider approaching your local grocery store or shopping centre and asking them to set up a post box with a big, colourful ‘Letters to God’ sign. In the movie, Tyler’s church sets up a ‘Letters to God’ post box, for the community. Get your church behind a similar project and answer the letters with encouraging words or simply pray for those who write in.
The Word as Weapon
Be careful not to ‘Bible-bash’ people recovering from a traumatic event. Ask God for wisdom and insight. If, however, someone seems open to encouragement from Scripture, here are some shields of faith, “with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” Eph 6:16:

Deuteronomy 4:7
Psalm 91
Romans 8:28
Hebrews 6:10-11
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Revelation 17:14

Using resources like films and novels can often speak volumes into a cancer (or terminal illness) patient’s life. The book and DVD are available through Christian bookstores and CUM Books nationwide. For info: www.letterstogodthemovie.com

Interesting cancer facts:

Leading male cancers in South Africa (in order of most frequent appearance): prostate; lung; oesophagus; colon/rectum; bladder
Leading female cancers include: breast; cervix; uterus; colorectal; oesophagus
Leukaemia and cancers of the brain and central nervous system account for over 50% of childhood cancers
There are over 200 different kinds of cancer, each with its own treatment
About 90% of cancers are caused by environmental and lifestyle related factors
The war on cancer could be won if humans were no longer exposed to environmental carcinogens such as chemicals, viruses, bacteria, UV light and maintained a healthy body weight through a balanced diet and exercise
Carcinogenic materials to avoid include: Bisphenol A in baby bottles, plasticisers in clingwraps, toxic toys, margarines and trans fats in fast food, acrylamide in potato crisps, smoke and certain lice shampoos.
For more info see www.cansa.org.za

Christian Art Distributors is giving away 5 copies of the book, ‘Letters to God’. Send your details to julia@joymag.co.za

Discipline in the Blended Family

Within the remarriage context, discipline is one of the main contributory factors towards parental conflict. It would seem that the biggest failing with couples preparing for marriage, is that more often than not, the whole aspect of disciplining is not discussed beforehand.

Each parent comes into the marriage with a preconceived idea of how they are going to discipline their own children (and of course their spouse’s children as well!). Perhaps these ideas have come from the way they were disciplined by their own parents or perhaps they might even have developed a discipline mode that is contrary to their own upbringing as a reaction to harsh punitive methods used on them as they were growing up.
Examining your discipline style

Parents often have an unrealistic expectation that their step children will adhere to a ‘one and only’ method of discipline. A child that resides primarily outside the home is more often than not exposed to two or three different discipline systems. The parent in the primary residence will use discipline measures different to the parent that does the intermittent parenting, and the step parent in turn will most probably use a contrary measure to her/his spouse.
The bewildered child, more often than not, will react with bad behaviour as he/she tries to make sense of these systems.
Firstly, parents need to look at the motivation behind their disciplining. Are they disciplining because of the fact that the child has not adhered to their rules and needs to be taught a lesson and be put in their place?

Discipline is not to be a weapon
Sometimes when the children do not respond with the expected obedience and respect, step-parents can react by tightening the reins to show who is in control. Discipline, in this case, can become a way of protecting the parent’s position in the family, rather than a way to bring about training, instruction and correction for the betterment of the child.
In this scenario discipline can become an oppressive tool. Discipline is also not to be used as a weapon of vengeance. As a step-parent you will suffer wrongs caused by your step-children but the heart of discipline still has to be for instruction and correction, and not for ‘pay back time’ for the so called turmoil the children caused you.

Three types of discipline
Secondly, parents have to become aware of the three major discipline styles so that they in turn can make style changes to bring out the best in each situation:
•    Authoritarian discipline: These parents rigidly enforce their standards on their children with little regard on how it impacts on the esteem and uniqueness of the child. They expect high standards and as long as the child is well-behaved and order is maintained then the parents feel they have done a good job. The kids grow up fearful and desperately try to please in every way
•    Permissive discipline: These parents set very few rules or standards for the children. The children are often left to their own devices and have to use their own discretion when making decisions. Children from these homes are found to be the least competent, the least self-controlled and are often immature
•    Authoritative discipline: These parents balance a firm control of a child’s behaviour whilst at the same time allowing and encouraging individuality. They expect high standards but provide support for success. The children from these homes grow up self confident, self controlled and more competent.

A tendency for leniency
Unfortunately the authoritative style is less likely to be used in a remarriage situation, as more often than not a more lenient style of parenting is used. As an example – if a father only sees his children once in two weeks he will not want to alienate them in any way or give them any reason for not visiting him. So more often than not he will be extremely lenient with them when they visit him. For instance the scenario can develop of a mother with her own children marrying a man who only sees his children on the weekends. Imagine the frustration as this mother disciplines her own children but sees her step-children getting off scot- free for the same transgression.

Important questions
Thirdly, before couples marry, and even afterwards the couples need to continually evaluate their methods of discipline and the expectations they have of the children. These expectations and methods need to be re-evaluated as the children go through the various stages of life, for example: as toddlers, pre-schoolers, school goers, adolescents etc. Some guidelines for discussion regarding discipline:
1.    Do you both use corporal punishment or do you both agree on another system of discipline?
2.    Do you both agree in using Biblical principles when disciplining the children? What is your understanding of these principles?
3.    Do you incorporate your children in the decision making process regarding discipline?

Non-primary residence parents
For the parent whose child comes from a primary residence other than your home:
1.    When do you not feel at liberty to discipline your child when they do something wrong?
2.    When is there reticence and hesitation regarding discipline because of the possibility of alienation?
3.    In what areas do you not treat your stepchildren the same way as your own child?

Primary residence parent
To the parent whose child lives with them:
1.    When do you find yourself feeling resentment in the way your spouse deals with your child?
2.    In what ways do you find your spouse unreasonable in the area of discipline?
3.    Do you sometimes feel resentful in the ways your spouse treats his/her children compared to yours?  Why?

General tips
•    Goals for disciplining must be explored. Is the goal to punish or to train? The Biblical principle is: “Parents do not treat your children in such a way as to make them angry. Instead raise them with Christian discipline and instruction” Eph 6:4
•.    Boundaries must be agreed upon with regards to the children
• Each parent should be encouraged to discipline their own children and ‘the other parent’ is there to support them
•    The couple should be encouraged to support each other no matter what decision is made regarding discipline
•    Determine never to have a major quarrel regarding discipline in front of the kids
• Once you have determined your discipline style, discuss with your spouse a compromise for the benefit of your child
•    A child’s behaviour is not going to change overnight. Work together, make a plan, communicate the plan to your children, and follow through on what you decide.

Don’t become discouraged if things don’t work out ‘first time’. Perseverance, consistency and trusting God will help you reap the benefits.

What Proof Do You Have That The Bible Is The Word Of God

What Proof Do You Have That The Bible Is The Word Of God
Some people see Christianity as some kind of intellectual suicide. A blind leap of faith. However, Christianity is a reasonable faith. It is based on incontrovertible, historical facts. Christianity is not a blind leap into the dark. It is an intelligent step into the light. There is nothing virtuous about gullibility. We are not proclaiming faith in faith. It is all too possible to be sincerely wrong. Our faith needs to be in the facts that God has revealed in Scripture and in Creation. Any skeptical enquirer is to be commended for wanting to examine the foundations of our faith. And the Bible forms the solid foundation for our faith. The Bible stands as the greatest Book ever written. It is unique in its circulation. The first book to ever be printed was the Bible and it  has been read by more people, and printed more times, than any other book in history. No other book has been translated into so many languages.

The forbidden book
It is unique in its survival. No other book has been so viciously attacked throughout history as the Bible. In AD300 the Roman emperor Diocletian ordered that every Bible be sought out and burned. He was determined to destroy Christianity by destroying the Scriptures it was founded on. Anyone caught with a Bible would be executed.

War against God
Throughout history other tyrants have waged a war against God, seeking to annihilate the Christian Church. In the 20th Century alone well over 60 million Christians were killed by atheistic regimes. Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union closed down or destroyed over 48 000 churches and imprisoned more than 50 million Russian Christians. Mao Tse Tung’s Marxist regime in Red China also sought to annihilate the Christian Church. Enver Hoxa declared Albania the first truly atheistic country in the world after closing every church and killing every minister in the country. Every Bible was destroyed and people were imprisoned in labour camps for merely mentioning the Name of God. Samora Machel similarly attempted to turn Mozambique into the first truly atheistic country in Africa. Yet, despite the most extraordinary campaigns to destroy Bibles, the Bible has survived to continue to be the world’s best selling book of all time.

Campaigns to destroy the Bible
Despite the intensive campaigns over many centuries to destroy the Bible, there are still an incredible 24 000 manuscripts of the New Testament dating back to the time of the early church. By way of comparison there are only seven manuscripts of Plato’s ‘Tetralogies’, 49 manuscripts of Aristotle’s ‘Ode to Poetics’, eight copies of the Historian Herodotus writings. By these standards of antiquity, the Bible is in a class of its own.

No other ancient writing has as many manuscripts, and certainly no other book has been so scrutinised and subjected to such critical analysis, and yet survived the most withering campaigns of criticism.

Impressive credentials
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in cliff top caves at Qumran, in 1949, provided manuscripts dating from the 3rd Century BC to the 1st Century AD. It included a complete book of Isaiah and thousands of fragments representing almost every other Old Testament book of the Bible. Students were astounded to find that the manuscripts and translations which we have available to us today were accurate and reliable in every way. The Bible, on any level you might wish to examine it, is the most impressively credentialed work of ancient literature.

Now, you may say, that’s all very well, but how can I know that the Bible is the Word of God? The Law of God sets up a litmus test for prophecy: “When a prophet speaks in the Name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen, or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” Deut 18:22

Testing the Bible’s truth
It is a fact that, of the 26 books of the world, that either claim to be, or have been proclaimed to be, Scripture, the issue of specific prophecy is glaringly absent. You do not find specific prophecies concerning events, far in the future, in the writings of Buddha, Lao-Tsu, Confucius, or Muhammad. However, the Bible is absolutely unique in that, in the Old Testament alone, there are more than 2 000 specific prophecies that have already been fulfilled. There has never been anything else in all of history to compare with the Bible’s prophecies.

You may say, weren’t they just lucky guesses, or vague generalities that could be interpreted in any way? Well, you be the judge. Consider these:

1. Prophecy about Egypt
At the time when Egypt was the greatest nation in the entire world, the king of nations, the richest country on earth, Ezekiel prophesied: “There shall no longer be princes from the land of Egypt” Ezekiel 30:13.

It is a fact of history that, until a few decades ago when the monarchy was overthrown, Egypt was always ruled by a prince, but during the 2 500 years since this prophecy was given, the princes of Egypt were never Egyptian. Their kings and queens have been Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs and Ottoman Turks. Egypt has even been ruled by the English. But since the prophecy, given through Ezekiel, no Egyptian monarch has ruled over Egypt. When Egypt was the world’s superpower, no one would have predicted that.

2. Babylon (modern day Iraq)
Iraq is often in the news, so let us consider the Biblical prophecies concerning Babylon. The Bible contains over 100 specific prophecies concerning Babylon’s fate.

Babylon was not only the greatest empire in ancient times, its capital city was the greatest city in the world. The historian Herodotus recorded that the city consisted of 196 square miles of the most beautiful architecture, hanging gardens, palaces and temples. Every authority at the time would agree that the city of Babylon was impregnable. Yet the Word of God came that: “The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken …it shall be desolate forever.” Jer 51:58-62

Now, the Great Wall of China is not nearly as wide, nor as strong, as the walls of Babylon were, and although it is older, it still stands today. The walls of Jerusalem still stand. But today there is no doubt that the walls of Babylon have been destroyed. Determined to make this the capital of his worldwide empire, Alexander the Great decided that he would rebuild Babylon. Alexander issued 600 000 rations to his soldiers. Yet, when Alexander died at the age of 32, his plans were abandoned.

In the 4th Century AD, Julian the Apostate, who attempted to restore paganism to Rome, was engaged in a war with the Persians. To prevent the Persians re-establishing the defences of Babylon, Julian ordered the remnants of the wall of Babylon completely broken down. In this surprising way, one of Scriptures greatest antagonists of all time became the agent to fulfilling one of the clearest and most repeated prophecies in the Old Testament. “Because of the wrath of the Lord it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate …it shall be no more inhabited forever.” Jer 50:13,39. Today the ruins of Babylon are a wilderness inhabited by scorpions and snakes.

3. Tyre
The city of Tyre was to the sea what Babylon was to the land. Tyre was the greatest port city in the ancient world. Yet, at the height of its power, God declared that this city would be destroyed, that its towers would be broken down, and that its stones and timber, and even its dust, would be laid in the midst of the water and it would become like the top of a rock, a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea (Ezekiel 26:4-14). This very strange prophecy began to be fulfilled when Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon marched his army to the walls of Tyre and for 13 years besieged the city. When finally the walls of the city crumbled, they found that many of the inhabitants had moved to an island half a mile out into the Mediterranean where they had built another city.

For hundreds of years one might have said that the prophecy given through Ezekiel was not completely fulfilled. Then Alexander the Great came, defeated the Persians and demanded the surrender of the port cities of the Eastern Mediterranean. Tyre alone refused to open its gates to him, so Alexander then conceived the boldest and most daring plan in siege history. He ordered a causeway built across half a mile of the Mediterranean Sea to the island of the new Tyre. All the walls of Tyre were torn down. They scraped the very dust of the city itself into the sea to make this highway to destroy the new island city of Tyre. Hence the prophecy in Ezekiel 26 was completely fulfilled.

4. Sidon
The prophecy against Sidon (Ezekiel 28:21-23) was that the inhabitants would be decimated, but the city would continue. History records that the city of Sidon was attacked, betrayed by its own king, and 40 000 of its inhabitants were killed. But the city of Sidon continues.

5. Samaria
The Scripture records a prophecy that Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, would be destroyed, it would be turned into a vineyard and its foundations would be uncovered (Micah 1:5-6). In fact the walls of Samaria were cast down and today vineyards grow where once stood the capital of the Northern kingdom.

6. Jerusalem
There were numerous other prophecies, that Jerusalem, the capital of the Southern Kingdom of Judah would be destroyed, its inhabitants carried away and its wall broken down (Jeremiah 24:9; 29:21; 35:17). There were further prophecies that the city and the walls would be rebuilt and the people would be brought back (Isaiah 4:3-6). History records that all of this indeed happened.

7. Petra
When Petra was one of the great cities of the ancient world, and Edom was a powerful nation, the Word of God came to Edom from Ezekiel (35:3-4,9). To visit the desolate land that once was Edom, and the deserted ruins of Petra today, it is hard to imagine the power and prestige that these places once had when the prophecy was given.

Those people who say that the Bible was just written by men are simply expressing their own ignorance on the subject. The power revealed through the Scriptures is none other than the power of God. “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done.” Isaiah 46:9-10

Are You Guilty of Virtual Adultery?

Mention extra-marital affairs, and most people think of secret meetings, furtive phone calls and booking into hotels under a false name. A modern twist on this (and more prolific) is the cyber-affair or virtual adultery.

In a technology-saturated world, it is becoming increasingly easier for spouses to lead separate lives on a virtual (online) platform and to fulfil imagined possibilities and life-long dreams. A balding middle-aged man recently retrenched has the opportunity of re-inventing himself online as a young, successful entrepreneur. A bored housewife can connect with ex-boyfriends and sketch out the details of her seemingly vibrant, jet-setting lifestyle.

‘Innocent’ online friendship
According to Facebook (a social networking platform where one can meet new and old friends), the fastest growing demographic of new users is women aged 45 -55. Now while this statistic may shock you, it actually makes sense – as older generations are finally tapping into the power of technology and being influenced by the internet. This influence can have devastating consequences though, as many of these Facebook users innocently reconnect with old school mates, and over a period of time a casual acquaintance leads to an online tryst.

An age-old problem
Family counsellor and Christian psychologist,  Dan Williams has noticed the online love-affair trend impacting Christian marriages as well: “Though virtual adultery is a fairly new term, the problem is not – Jesus identified it 2 000 years ago. In the Sermon on the Mount He said “I tell you the truth, anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” Matt 5:28. Jesus warned that untamed thoughts so often lead to unfortunate consequences!

I often have clients tell me with regret “I didn’t think it would go that far. I never intended to be unfaithful.” Affairs most often begin with emotional bonds, not physical ones, as two acquaintances or co-workers allow their casual conversations to become increasing familiar, then flirtatious, and then intimate. The warning of Jesus teaches us that the moment a person begins to transfer to a third party the attention that properly belongs to his or her marriage partner, or entertains thoughts that should be focused on their spouse, is adulterous. The instant a person begins to secretly invest emotionally in someone other than their own partner, is the point at which they begin to commit what might be termed ‘virtual adultery.’”

Creating a second life…
But it is not just Facebook that jeopardises our marriages. Online chat rooms, sms dating services and virtual reality programmes are all powerful temptations. ‘Second Life’, a 3D Virtual World Community is another resource growing in popularity and in threat. With over 3 million users (tiny compared to Facebook’s 500 million active users), ‘Second Life’ is a virtual world where people create avatars (or characters) and design a parallel life to their real one.
In this world, avatars can engage in sexual acts and even have families. This is scary, as many ‘players’ in this game are directly leading a double life and engaging in virtual adultery. This can exist for years in the parameters of cyber-space, though sometimes it crosses over into the real world when online couples decide to meet.

Avoiding online adultery
There are hundreds of books advising how to protect your marriage from physical affairs. Some of the advice is applicable to online affairs, but more tailored tips are necessary if we are to win the war against ‘virtual sin’:

Communicate daily and maintain emotional vulnerability with each other. Don’t exclude your spouse from any area of your life (eg: talking about work stress)
Ensure both partners have any and all passwords to accounts or have a joint online account (for Facebook)
Set Facebook updates to notify both of you
Place the computer in a space at work/home, where the screen is clearly visible
When you get an sms/email/friend request from someone of the opposite sex, tell your spouse of it and get their advice
Avoid sharing emotional/intimate details with someone of the opposite sex. If you are uncomfortable with your spouse seeing your online communications, that is a loud warning bell
Cultivate an atmosphere of trust. Allow your spouse access to your emails/cellphone and post.

If trust is present in a marriage, often the above precautions are redundant – as partners would not even consider hiding info from each other. But setting strict boundaries together will significantly curb online temptation. “Test everything…Avoid every kind of evil.” 1 Thess 5:21-22.

The Minefield of Materialism

The Minefield of Materialism
Like many young couples, my wife Linda and I survived on a very modest income during the early years of our marriage. Living paycheque to paycheque was an unavoidable way of life. The first two years were especially difficult. We were poor but happy. We were actively involved in our local church, we kept a clean apartment and – most importantly – we had each other. Several years ago, our financial woes came to an abrupt end.

Blessings or curses?
I said good-bye to teaching and began a career in business. Suddenly, I went from R120 000 a year to R240 000 – with a company car! At the same time, my wife graduated and began full-time employment of her own. In a matter of a few weeks, the Pearson family income increased by 150%.

Living in yuppie heaven
And, as often happens with individuals and families that fall into the materialistic trap, along with that extra income came the inner sense of urgency to begin spending it. My first indulgence was a brand new car. Purchasing it created powerful feelings of upward mobility and worth. I washed it every day and waxed it once a week. When I drove it, I felt the “scraping by” life we had known disappearing in my rearview mirror.

I was in yuppie heaven. But, without realising it, my spiritual life had taken on water. My commitment to Christ – my burning zeal for being His faithful disciple, had cooled. I still believed the same doctrines, but my day-to-day living reflected a different doctrine – a doctrine of prosperity, entitlement and materialism. The things of this world were more important to me than the things of God. The contentment we had known in the early years had been replaced by a perpetual desire for more and better. I was living a weak Christian life and digging myself deeper into the ditches of wants, things and stuff.

Fortunately through the Grace and power of the Holy Spirit, I was humbled and deeply challenged when I spent a few months in a men’s fellowship group and learnt from their example how to live Godly prosperous lives – and not be controlled by possessions. Only a few years before, I had felt I’d arrived. But now I was remorseful over where I had ended up.

Your money or your life
One of the frequently voiced misconceptions about money and possessions is that they are evil and to be renounced and despised. If God has blessed you with a large amount of this world’s goods, that in itself does not mean you’ve become a victim of materialism. Where the line is crossed is when the wealth and possessions you have become more important to you than the things of God.

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Matt 6:24. According to Jesus in this Scripture, someone will get cheated. Either you will cheat your devotion to God by giving your desire for the nice things pre-eminence in your life, or you will cheat your commitment to materialism by wholeheartedly following God – which often involves sacrifice, giving, simplicity, and servanthood.

Where your treasure is…
How many of us have lain awake at night, scheming to get that set of new golf clubs, that Lexus, or that key to the executive washroom? How many of us have told ourselves, “Life would be perfect if I had …” How many of us have found ourselves precariously balancing on ethical lines, reaching for something that will stay out of our grasps unless we step over those lines?  For the Christian in the market place, materialism is a subtle danger. It’s not as obvious as stealing or sleeping around, but it’s no less lethal to your emotional, relational, and spiritual lives.

Stewardship or ownership
No matter how little or how much you possess, God owns it all. To combat materialism taking root, you need to realise you are a steward of God’s property. If  you’re trying to evaluate your life based on what you own, you’ve already set yourself up for failure, because the concept of ownership is built on a foundation of sand. You don’t really “own” anything. Everything you have in your possession belongs to God. When we cling to attitudes of ownership and thus entitlement, our flawed perspective stretches to how we view giving back to God. Sometimes Christians think that because He owns the first 10% (a tithe), then the other 90% must belong to them. The purpose of the tithe is not to create a profit-sharing plan with God. God is interested in how you manage all He’s given you. We can avoid stepping on the landmine of materialism if we see ourselves as stewards of all we have rather than owners. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Psa 4:1

Don’t live above your means
Living a life on credit and borrowing money to acquire more, is a terrible trap of materialism. Recognising the tendency to compete with the Joneses, some credit card companies have devised commercials that play off and encourage this urge – that most people are motivated to success by the envy of their neighbours. As Christians we have to get our priorities straight and store up treasures in Heaven and not on earth. God discourages debt; notice I didn’t say “God prohibits debt.” He doesn’t. But debt will leave you bound to others and not free to do the Will of God.

Availability versus unavailability
People who are over extended financially, vocationally, and recreationally do not make themselves available to serve God. As you consider what I’ve written so far about stewardship, contentment, and availability, ownership, credit, and unavailability, how do you understand Jesus’ words in Luke 14:16-24?

The invited guests mentioned in the parable of  the feast, were more interested in other pursuits than they were in attending the great banquet. By their commitments to their own agendas, they made themselves unavailable for the party. Contrast this unavailability with God’s challenge in 2 Chronicles 16:9: “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” If our hearts are consumed with keeping up with the Joneses or building a bigger bank account, God will consider us unavailable for His use and His strengthening.

God, in His Grace, gives you much in this life and He expects you to take care of it without getting attached to it. In the words of Joe Stowell, “The real point of materialism is not how much we have, but what has us.”

The Lord’s Power in My Pain

Trouble often hits when we least expect it. We can stumble into a pit and face a terrifying darkness…What do you do when your worst nightmare becomes a reality? Let me tell you my story of trouble and transformation.

My dream starts
In 1990, as a young girl of twenty, I got married to a darling man. We lived in Butterworth (Eastern Cape) for the first two years, after which we moved to Lusikisiki where I got a teaching post. My husband worked in Umtata, but he came home every weekend and sometimes even during the week. For eight years everything in our marriage went well – I was sure we had made it! We even had two beautiful, active children.

A warning in my heart
One day, my husband asked me to start searching for a house to buy in Margate. As we were preparing the selling of our house (which a colleague bought), I noticed one day that the number plate of our car had changed. I questioned my husband about this and he answered that he wanted to change the car’s registration number to an Eastern Cape number plate, as it formerly had a Kwazulu-Natal registration plate.

Strange signs
‘Okay…’,I thought, but a feeling of apprehension stirred in my heart. During the June holidays of 1998, my husband encouraged me to take the kids on a holiday to my mother’s place in Ngqamakwe (Eastern Cape). After a week, he came back to fetch us. As we were driving back, he told me that the transfer for the house sale has gone through and that he had to take all our belongings to his father’s place and some of our possessions to his sister’s place. Once again I felt an uneasiness in my heart…but I trusted my husband.

The nightmare begins
Due to the house being sold, I had to move into a one bedroom flat with our two children as an interim measure. Somehow, through all of this, I still thought all was ok. But on my birthday, 23 July (two weeks after returning from the holiday with my mother), my husband called me and asked for a divorce! It was the beginning of a frightening nightmare – I suddenly had nothing. Even the car I was driving (the one that mysteriously got an Eastern Cape number plate) had been transferred into his brother-in-law’s name.

I was left with only the possessions I had in my tiny room. I also found out he had been living with another woman during the week, only to play innocent over the weekends when he came home from Umtata. I lost my friends, my dignity and even my personality. Worst of all, I lost all hope. During this time I developed painful stomach ulcers and I struggled to sleep.

Even the medication that a doctor prescribed could only give me temporary relief from my pain. One day, when I went back to the doctor, he told me that he also suffered from insomnia, but that after he was born-again, sleepless nights were something of the past. Looking back now, a seed was planted inside my heart that day. That evening, I flushed my sleeping pills down the toilet.

God gave me a new start
Soon after my ordeal, a friend invited me to Lusikisiki Christian Church. When an altar call was made, I lifted my hands and surrendered my life to the Lord. And do you know what? God restored everything I lost! “He lifted me out of the slimy pit. He set my feet on a rock. He put a new song in my mouth.” Ps 40:2

God blessed me with a new car and a beautiful house in East London – right next to the beach! But that is nothing compared to the new song I have in my heart. “My heart is happy, because [He has] saved me.” Ps 13:5. After I gave my life to Jesus, the first thing I was taught by my new spiritual parents, Pastor Martin and Pumza Mwape, was forgiveness. I forgave my husband and gave him a call. I told him that after all he had done, I chose to forgive him.

I was free! My walk with God had truly begun! Today I am a successful businesswoman for IFA Business Opportunity (a division of Clientele life). I even appear on the IFA infomercials! God is indeed always at work for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28).

I know there will still be hard days, but as I child of God I have learned this valuable lesson: “Together they will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will defeat them, because He is Lord over all lords and King over all kings, and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers.” Rev 17:14

Cycle 4 JOY!

‘Today we launched my new book, ‘Destined to Win’. It went superbly well, people were touched and inspired. But, when we got home Rene said “You shouldn’t wear those pants any more, they are too tight.” Ouch! That hurt – they are my favourite pair…but it’s true – I am overweight, unfit, stressed out and unhealthy. How can I fix it? I don’t feel like exercising at all!’

It’s difficult to describe just how “down-and-out” I felt at the time. We had produced two movies, ’Faith like Potatoes’ and ‘Hansie’ during the previous four years. The financial stress was made worse by the recession and we were battling to keep our heads above water…

Making a new healthy start
A few weeks later a friend entered the Argus Cycle Tour. Impulsively I decided to do the same. Being a former provincial rugby and cricket player, I am honest enough with myself to admit that I am motivated by competition. In order to qualify though, you have to do one of five ‘Fun Rides’. It meant that I had to successfully complete ‘Die Burger Cycle Tour’, a 98km race. I had never done more than 20km. I owned a basic old mountain bike (MTB), so with only a month to prepare, I did 36km ride, three times per week. And during the last week before the race I did a 52km ride. For the event, I put ‘slicks’ on my MTB (they are thinner, smoother tires, made for the road).
I was so nervous before the event, but on the day I got into a group of fairly strong cyclists (all on road bikes), just put my head down and pedalled for dear life. I had to endure some initial abuse for being on a MTB, but when I did my share of work at the front of the group, they ‘kind-of’ accepted me there. I must have looked like a bull terrier, sweating and panting, but refusing to let go! Some of them dropped out, but I kept up until the end and finished in 3 hours 25 minutes.

My backside was hurting and it felt as if I would pass out at any moment, but I had qualified for the Argus and got into a decent seeding group.

Reaching my goals
I learnt an important lesson in that month. My fitness (body) is just as important as my spirit, soul and mind. If I am going to fulfil my God-given purpose of making movies, I will need to look after it. So, I have set myself some goals and am determined to execute them. A friend helped me get a basic road bike and I was able to complete the 110km Argus in 3 hours 41 minutes in tough, windy conditions. Since my wife politely pointed out to me that I was a dash overweight, I’ve lost 20kg!!  I feel great, am full of energy again and I can face the work stress (and ’lack of’ cash flow) much better. Unfortunately my favourite pair of trousers still doesn’t fit me as I went from a size 38 to a size 34.

Launching cycle for JOY!
My current goals are to do the Double Century in less than 6 hours later this year and a sub-three hour Argus next year in March.

We are working on two new movies. One of them, ‘Out of the Black Shadows’, has a short scene where we see an old cowboy movie. So, we decided to make our own cowboy clip, instead of having to purchase the rights to a John Wayne film. I got some of my work colleagues and a few old school friends together on Clara Anna Fontein farm to do the shoot. It was great fun. We played around like little boys, shooting each other while the cameras rolled. Afterwards most of my friends couldn’t walk, they were so sore from all the exercise, because they too were unfit.

I prayed about it and asked the Lord’s wisdom about work, family and friends. Then I realised that cycling gives me a great opportunity to worship God and to have fellowship. If I start a cycling group or club, I could meet with my friends on a weekly basis, help them begin exercising and provide each other with the support that we need. I am starting this club in Cape Town, but want it to be country wide and hopefully worldwide soon. We teamed up with JOY! Magazine and now ‘Cycle for JOY!’  is a reality.’ I hope JOY! readers and their friends will join the club’.

What is Cycle for JOY!

Our goals are that ‘Cycle for JOY!’ will:
Be a network through which like-minded people can be contacted to cycle with and have fellowship with
Be a news hub re: cycling and major Christian events
Donate money to charities and missions
Organise cycle events
Design quality clothing to help promote our club and identify club members. Clothing only available to club members.

We would like as many people to join the club as possible, so the membership fees are kept low. Join us on Facebook, the website or email us for details about the benefits of joining.

Please share your goals with me and let’s try to raise as many people as possible to become fitter in body and in spirit.

Frans Cronje is a film maker and entrepreneur. He is also the head of Cycle for JOY! To join up or for info see http://www.facebook.com/Cycle4joy!#!/pages/Cycle-4-Joy/134120429973477

Gift of Life: Should Christians Donate their Organs

Willem Viljoen met Liezl when he was 15 years old. Childhood sweethearts, they married after school and pictured a wonderful, long, healthy life together. “One morning my life shattered when I received the news that my wife had passed away in a car accident. At first I did not believe it, but the inevitable realisation of the fact that my best friend was gone from this earth, with no warning, broke me.
Through the pain and tears I knew that if Liezl had thought about it before this day, she would have wanted to be able to help other people, even in death. It was strange to me that I could have such a clear conviction to donate organs at that moment, because we never really discussed it.

A husband’s toughest choice
When I was approached a few hours later by a coordinator from the Centre for Tissue Engineering to ask consent for tissue donation, I knew that it was what Liezl and God would want me to do. Signing the consent form was the hardest thing I ever did, but knowing it was the right thing to do, I signed and gave consent for her bone tissue, corneas and heart valves to be donated.

Almost two months have passed since, and not a day goes by that I don’t cry and feel a big empty space in my heart. But knowing that Liezl’s bone tissue will help crippled children walk, her corneas already helped two people see and her heart valves will enable two young people to actually live their lives again, gives me a sense of peace. Liezl’s death was not in vain. The knowledge that the legacy of love and giving Liezl believed in, has fulfilled other peoples lives just as she fulfilled my life, gives me a great deal of comfort in this painful time. My wish is that this God given legacy of love and giving would be embraced by all, so that everyone who has lost, or will lose a loved one might know the comfort that giving can bring.”

There is a severe shortage in SA
When a Christian thinks of a ‘good deed’ they can do for others and to the glory of God, donating an organ or giving blood is not usually top of their mind. In fact, more often than not (perhaps because of our aversion to needles and all things gory) the idea of signing up as an organ donor is probably last on the ‘to do list’ of life.

This is unfortunate, as South Africa and the world has a severe shortage of organs and blood available for the millions of people desperately needing a transplant/transfusion. Yet, this shortfall can easily be corrected if just half of all people who die gave permission for their organs to be donated. However, not all Christians agree with the idea of donating their organs or blood, citing religious validation for their reticence. 

The ins and outs of donation
Before looking at Scriptural imperatives in favour of, or against donating organs/blood,  it is worthwhile to sketch out the process of donation. First, there are live donations (usually donating blood and a kidney, as humans have two and can live with just one) and there are posthumous donations (ie: donations made once declared dead by medical professionals).

Interestingly, you can donate tissue, organs and blood, though you can be selective about which of these you wish to donate. Your family has to give consent after you have passed away (see sidebar) and utmost care is taken in the removal of organs, so bodies are not disfigured.

Two independent medical doctors are required to declare a person dead (or specifically to declare “brain death” which is when the brain has stopped functioning though the person may be on life support and kept alive on machines). Generally organs and tissue needs to be collected from a body within a maximum period of eight hours, as ‘dead cells’ are not usable.

The donating of organs and tissue is not entirely without controversy, and there are certainly a few things to consider when making a decision. Because of the imbalance of demand and supply, a burgeoning black market exists particularly in third world countries. (And in Hollywood movies!) That said, regulation is very strict around the process of donation, and hospitals face intense scrutiny.

Disturbing practices
Organs can also not be harvested unless the next of kin have given consent and donors are not permitted to know who the recipient is (and vice versa) – so as to prevent coercion and emotional manipulation. In America, prisoners are not discriminated against if requiring a transplant, though in China the disturbing practice of extracting prisoners organs’ without consent is allowed by the state. Blood is screened and donors have to meet strict medical criteria in order to donate.

Is there an ethical dilemma?
Though it may seem obvious that Christians can in good conscience donate and receive blood, tissue and organs, medical research journals found that many religions differ: Muslims and the Catholic Church see no problem. Most Protestant churches are in favour, though Jews have specific rules as to which organs may and may not be donated.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for their refusal to accept blood transfusions (based on their Watchtower Society theology who loosely bases their teaching on Old Testament Scriptures and Acts 15:29 that forbids eating blood, which they liken to receiving  intravenously). Many have chosen imminent death over a compromised belief, however over the years the medical profession has created “bloodless surgery” for Jehovah’s Witnesses which involves transfusions being done with a non-blood compound that mimics the properties of blood.

According to minister (and kidney recipient) Tim Hawkridge, “There are many modern issues like organ donation, that are not directly addressed by Scripture, because they simply didn’t exist as technical possibilities at the time the Bible was written. However, there are a number of clear Biblical principles which speak into this issue, the most fundamental of which is that we are to follow in the example of Jesus by giving ourselves for the blessing of others. Jesus said in John 15:13, “The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them.”

Leviticus 17:11-14 shouldn’t stop us donating blood and organs, but may even encourage it – it’s worth noting that the giving of blood and bone-marrow in fact cause the giver no permanent sacrifice, since both regenerate.

A gift of life…
Imagine if Christians were recognised as selfless disciples of Christ who regularly did good deeds according to His Will. Imagine if churches ran blood donation drives and encouraged members to sign up as organ donors. What a powerful testimony to the world. And what a small sacrifice, as we know “to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord.” 2 Cor 5:8. Contact The Organ Donor Foundation to sign up. Call 0800 22 66 110800 22 66 11 FREE or www.odf.org.za

Second key essential:
Your experiences are your best teachers. This is true of the positive, as well as painful experiences. Begin a treasure chest of the experiences that taught you how to be successful with various challenges in your life. Also be open to valuable lessons from unlikely sources. Over the years I have again and again been surprised by what I have learned from persons I underestimated. I gained much practical knowledge from the uneducated woodsmen who lived in our community when I was growing up.

To learn valuable lessons from life, you will need good mentors. Mentors are the people who teach and model for us the most important lessons for living and for achieving our lives’ purposes. My mentors taught me in a way that no book or classroom could ever have.
This process of learning will require you to find the disguised opportunities in problems: human progress is the outcome of irritants faced and solved. The problems that come your way are experiences that teach you the lessons and skills you will need to fulfil a meaningful life purpose. Where were you confronted with a problem and were able to find a successful solution? What did you learn from this and how can you apply it to a current problem?
Failures can also become wonderful teachers. Accept failures, but never allow yourself to have a mind-set of failure – thinking before you start that you will probably fail. Also remember to use a fresh approach or different perspective in trying to solve problems: see irritants as invitations to find creative resources!
Third key essential: acquire
There are certain attributes of character that are essential to living out a genuine calling. I briefly list them here: You must practise the solitude without which you become caught up in busyness and distractions that make you lose focus (“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10). You should also acquire a spirit of tolerance, which will enable you to work with a wide range of people and not be polarising or polarised (“Love is patient, love is kind…it is not easily angered” 1 Cor 13).
It is also important that you build a character of self-confidence. Self-confidence based on wealth or social position is a fragile structure that can crumble unexpectedly.

Genuine self-confidence is moulded by something much deeper: learn to see yourself through the eyes of God – as someone born for significance. Your life is valuable, for God Himself “[has set] His Spirit in [y]our heart” 2 Cor 1: 22. Another attribute of character that you need to practise is becoming a person of integrity, whose word and intention can always be trusted. Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard, defined ‘purity of heart’ as: ‘to will one thing’. Integrity is thus the opposite of duplicity. For someone to say that the purpose of his life is such-and-such and then to work for other less-worthy purposes is to show duplicity and not integrity.
Cultivating a positive spirit is another habit worth forming. You need to believe that you can make a significant difference through your involvement in a worthy cause. Victory will come with a new attitude – the attitude that the seemingly impossible is possible! “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Mark 9:23
Lastly, be willing to go beyond what is expected to accomplish the extraordinary. With ‘extraordinary’ I do not mean spectacular accomplishments (such as becoming the president of the largest bank or the pastor who built the largest congregation). Extraordinary means that a person exceeds expectations by going out of his way to help, mentor and resource others. The way to significance is not by way of the spectacular: it is by way of seeing and taking opportunities to show compassion beyond what is required.

Fourth key essential
Do you have a generous spirit? Generosity comes from our recognition of the undeserved good we have received. I have found that the following five steps nurture a generous spirit: Firstly, give back to those you have received from. Who are the godsends that have come your way? In what ways are you now giving back to them? So much joy comes with acts of generosity!

Secondly, you need to cultivate the habit of generosity. Much of your life is controlled by habits. Habits are repeated behaviours or patterns – they are internally programmed actions. Generosity is a character trait that is strengthened by habit. The more we practise generosity, the more deeply that trait becomes a part of who we are. Kindness is a habit worth forming that will contribute immeasurably to the lives of others. Thirdly, make sure you share your success in a wider universe of need. I am convinced that the knowledge and skill God had enabled me to acquire should be made available to other worthy groups where there is need. The significance of your life is enhanced when a wider range of people benefit from your success. Whatever you do well, share it with a wider world and teach others the art of doing the same.
The fourth step to nurturing a generous spirit involves developing lasting partnerships with those who share your vision. The synergy of a genuine partnership is powerful. Partnerships that expand generosity are a great force for good in the world. Consider how your contributions to the lives of others can be multiplied by your partnering with other persons or groups for the betterment of others. Partner with those you respect and with whom your life’s purpose will be best fulfilled. Make sure your partnerships are built on shared values and worthy objectives.
Lastly, practise forgiveness – the generosity that heals. Perhaps the greatest act of generosity is forgiveness. I believe in a forgiving God and I have been on the receiving end of forgiveness. I guess that is why I have managed, in time, to forgive those who have wronged me. I’ve been able to offer forgiveness only because I’ve been privileged to receive it. Ask God to give you a forgiving spirit.

Fifth key essential: build relationships for life
Life is relational. We are a community and we need one another. Our close relationships encourage and strengthen us. To build lasting relationships, make sure a friendship is genuine and built on proven trust, respect and integrity. Also make sure that the partnerships you form have a compassionate purpose. Those I have worked alongside with for causes that gave deeper meaning to peoples’ lives have become both my teachers and friends.
If you are married, treasure who and what you have. Invest in keeping your relationship intimate and interesting. A marriage can be so rich and fulfilling when we have invested fully in it. My wife, Peggy, helped me to see that life could also be enjoyable and full of fun. If you do not have a life partner and you desire one, pray earnestly, wait patiently and move decisively. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?” Luke 11:11

Sixth key essential: don’t retire!
A life of significance includes the so-called retirement years. A career ends, but a calling never does. Make the retirement years the crowning investment in significance! See your latter years as blessed with rich opportunities to make your most enduring contributions. You will be able to share yourself with others and your encouragement, wisdom and generosity will be of immeasurable wealth to others.

No matter how old you are, decide every morning that your calling will guide you for the rest of your life. Look forward on your life in great expectation. Believe that the God who has cared for you and given you a wonderful life will continue to lead you into a future worthy of your highest expectations and hopes. Ask Him everyday to help you find a significant purpose for your life.

There is indeed more to life than making a living. Let this prayer be your constant companion as you go through all the seasons of life: “Dear Father, help me to do the best I can, with what I have, where I am, at all times. Amen.” 
By Jackie Georgiou

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Beth Moore: So Long, Insecurity!

Beth Moore: So Long, Insecurity!
My entire life story grows like a wild shoot from the thorny soil of insecurity. Every fear I’ve faced, every addiction I’ve nursed, every disastrous relationship and idiotic decision I’ve made has wormed its way out of that sorrowfully fertile ground.

These are perilous days to be a woman, but to be sure, they’re the only days we have and they’re passing quickly. We can sit around like victims, talk about how unfair all the gender pressure is, and grow less secure by the second, or we can choose to become well equipped and get out there and do some real living.

Insecurity is not incurable
Insecurity among women is epidemic, but it is not incurable. Don’t expect it to go away quietly, however. We’re going to have to let truth scream louder to our souls than the lies that have infected us. Something’s wrong for us to value ourselves so little. Our culture has thrown people under the bus. We have a fissure down the spine of our souls, and boy, does it need fixing.

Seeking approval from others
A guy told me the other day that normal men never get too old to eye women. Wow. Are those of us who are married to these “normal” men supposed to keep trying to compete with what’s out there? Or should we simply tell ourselves that the roving eye of a mate is harmless? I’m not being defensive. I want very much to believe that it is. But if it is harmless, to who?

Or what if you’re single and there’s not a man on the horizon you want to take home to Daddy? Honestly, is there no validation for our womanhood apart from a man? Men are not our problem; it’s what we are trying to get from them that messes us up. Nothing is more baffling than our attempt to derive our womanhood from our men. We use guys like mirrors to see if we’re valuable. Beautiful. Desirable. Worthy of notice. Viable.

We try to read their expressions and moods in order to determine whether it’s time to act smart and hard to get or play dumb and needy. Worse yet, we try to tap into their inner equestrian by acting like the damsel in distress.

Sabotaging ourselves
Our culture is just as merciless on men as it is on women. Their insecurities take different shapes, but make no mistake: they’ve got them. As if the battle isn’t hard enough, we sabotage ourselves, submerging ourselves with self-condemnation like a submarine filling with water. How often do we think to ourselves, I should be handling this better? How often do we judge others, based on our own insecurities? Insecurity can be defined as follows: a profound sense of self-doubt; a deep feeling of uncertainty about our basic worth and our place in the world. Insecurity is associated with chronic self-consciousness, along with a chronic lack of confidence in ourselves and anxiety about our relationships. The insecure man or woman lives in constant fear of rejection and a deep uncertainty about whether his or her own feelings and desires are legitimate.

Identifying what insecurities you have
Keep in mind that you don’t have to possess every description or element associated with the definition of insecurity mentioned above, to qualify as insecure and in need of healing. Here are a few questions to ask yourself, to identify if you suffer from insecurity:

Questions to ask yourself

Do I avoid the spotlight in social situations?
Do I have a strong desire to make amends whenever I think I’ve done something wrong?
Do I cry easily?
If someone gets angry at me, do I have a hard time not thinking about it?
Do I sometimes feel anxious for no apparent reason?
Does it hurt my feelings when I learn that someone doesn’t like me?
Do I fear that my husband might leave me for someone else?

You might protest with something like this: “But Beth, I feel all or only some of those same things, and I don’t consider myself insecure.” My question in response would be, How intensely do you feel those things? Intensity is a key factor in insecurity.

No one thing will fix your insecurity problem. Only God will
If you happen to be thinking that average looks, or being shy are the problem, they’re not. An injured soul is the problem. Fixing something about yourself will not take away your feelings of insecurity. Neither will a big house. Or a man who calls you six times a day. Or great hair, (although I’m often happily seduced by the hope that it will). Neither will a big office in a financially solid corporation. Not even losing that proverbial ten kilos will fix what insecurity has broken. Any of those things might soothe the savage beast for a while, but it will inevitably wake back up, and the hope deferred will make it angrier than ever. No one solitary thing on this entire planet has the power to secure everything else. Not even a long-awaited child, as dear as he or she would be.

Insecurity is driven by fear
You and I are going to have to come to a place where we stop handing people the kind of power only God should wield over us. More often than not, if we’re willing to make the connection, we can trace feelings of insecurity to a perceived threat, especially when it comes in a sudden rush.

What are we afraid of? What are we afraid of losing? Why are we afraid of being displaced? Studies have long since proven that much of what we fear is fuelled by our imaginations, and in fact, most of what we fear never even happens.

God’s power defeats fear
However, as we seek healing for our insecurity, it does us absolutely no good to work from the premise that we have nothing to be insecure about. Sometimes our fears are founded. Sometimes a valid threat really does arise. What happens then? Not long ago a woman wrote me a letter describing how her best friend systematically seduced her husband. That girlfriend is a threat. My suggestion is this: even when fears are founded and threats are real and we are about to be swept away in a tidal wave of well-earned insecurity, there is Divine power, wisdom, and clarity of thought to be found.

The beauty of the Lord is on us
Change will not come easy. Old habits die hard. But we can make the radical decision to rewire our security systems. When we allow God’s truth to eclipse every false belief and let our eyes spring open to the treasure we have, there in His glorious reflection we’ll also see the treasure we are. And the beauty of the Lord our God will be upon us.