Do You Care About The Church Next Door?

Overall, the church worldwide and in South Africa is in a crisis of spiritual decay – and if that decay is to be stopped and reversed, major changes are needed in terms of repentance and action. That can be proven by the pattern of:
• Postmodern doctrinal drift from Biblical truth
• The epidemic of what, in previous generations, was considered scandalous behaviour  in congregations and leaders
• The replacement of Biblical authority ­either with individual relativism or the fascist ­authoritarian personalities and their cult followings
• Numbers: fewer educated people are attending church at all, and while attendance may be good amongst the poor, pastors are increasingly having their time consumed with HIV related funerals – making one wonder how many of these church-goers are truly converted?
Recognising sin in the church
While sexual sin can often be hidden, the epidemic of divorces and broken families cannot. Nevertheless, listen to the leaders of just about any church and you will not hear this message.  The message and attitude you hear from just about every side, whether a healthy church or not is that, “Overall, we are doing well. We have a few problems we are working to sort out”.
So the question is then, how did churches reach this disconnection about their self-perception? When your church says “We are doing well”, I ask who is the “we” and by what standard do they evaluate “well”?
1. Denial
Unhealthy, backsliding churches are generally in denial about their regression and their leaders get very angry if anyone points out their sin. They can usually find something to highlight which indicates they are doing well. Maybe their attendance has increased, maybe church offerings are doing better; perhaps they have just learned some new truth from the Scripture (while neglecting more important issues).
So “well” gets redefined to exclude central moral behaviour and doctrinal drift. For Biblical individuals in these churches, the problem is that “we” is defined to include all the unbiblical people as well. So they get defensive, rather than doing something to challenge others. “How dare you criticise us!’”
2. Hiding sin
As individuals, backslidden Christians generally hide their sin and if it becomes obvious, they drift out of the church. If they recover, they return to a different church. Their old church generally doesn’t follow up, let alone discipline them. The new local church, if they know about the sin at all, can always blame the backsliding and sin on the other church, relinquishing all responsibility.

3.Out of sight, out of mind
When a church backslides (generally), the godly people get fed up and move to a ‘healthier’ church. Then the old church is no longer part of “we” and is left to backslide further. The former members generally have no interest in the spiritual health of the church they left.
4. Competitive attitudes
Leaders of healthy churches and denominations, unfortunately tend to take “we” as meaning other healthy churches like theirs.
If unhealthy churches lose members to Biblical churches, the attitude of most healthy church leaders is: “We win, they lose, let them decline more and their members can move to us”.
An exodus from traditional churches
In the 1980s and 90s, the Evangelical mainline denominations such as the Presbyterians, Methodists, Dutch Reformed and Anglicans began to be infiltrated with modernist liberalism. There was an exodus of young people to newer churches, which were mostly Charismatic in their expression of the Holy Spirit.
 Whatever one believes about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Charismatic churches at the time were uncompromising on teaching the authority of the Bible for all matters of personal conduct and doctrine.
There was no compromise, debate or softened stance on homosexuality, abortion, adultery, pornography etc. The doctrine of the virgin birth, eternal punishment, Jesus as the only way, were accepted and not questioned. The problem (at that time) was that the healthier, new churches saw the mainline denominations as competition rather than as brothers needing help.
Charismatic churches in trouble
Today, most of those same Charismatic denominations founded in the 1980s are in spiritual decline either to postmodernism, personality cults, prosperity teaching etc – even though many continue to grow numerically.
Out of the mess, new denominations have sprung up, which are often more healthy – but for how long until they follow the same path? The new churches gain members leaving the older declining ones and generally show no interest in helping to arrest these wayward churches’ spiritual decline. They will generally not challenge sin or doctrinal compromise even if they know about it.
Finding things to argue about…
A development of the new millennium is the rise of the ‘new Calvinism’, partly Charismatic and partly not, which is experiencing a revival of Biblical expository preaching.
Generally, the ‘new Calvinist’ leaders are unconcerned about their non-Calvinist sister Churches which are in spiritual decline – at best they ignore them and at worst are happy about the decline, because people move to their churches.
The overall problem is not about Charismatics versus Cessationist, or Mainline versus New Networks, or Calvinist versus Arminians, or those in between – really these divisions are not central to the Gospel. Core doctrinal truths about hell, one way to Heaven through Jesus and moral behaviour like sexual purity and the sanctity of life are the essentials.

Support your neighbouring church
Right now numerous denominations are teetering on the edge of falling into liberal postmodernism or fascist authoritarianism. Will you pray for them? Will you speak up for truth to leaders of straying churches who forsake and struggle with doctrinal issues?
Will you support people in those churches who speak up? Will you help to mentor godly leaders? If you don’t, your church could be the next one to go into decline and then will there be anyone to help rescue your church?
Please care about the church next door. They are not part of “them” but “we”. 

Andrew Selley Stands For Truth

For the average believer living here, persecution of one’s faith is not felt overtly – but globally the tide has been turning and “judicial persecution” is the new order of the day – specifically in watershed legal cases that inhibit the legal and personal freedoms of Christians to preach and teach Biblical values.

An attack on religious freedom
In South Africa alone, we have several legal cases pending (initiated by atheist lobby groups and people propagating the homosexual agenda) that seek to drastically curb Christian religious freedom. The cases range from ‘so-called’ discrimination of Christian adoption agencies (that stipulate Biblical criteria for couples to be eligible) through to Christian owners of wine-farms being accused of ‘hate’ because they politely decline to permit same-sex ceremonies on their private property.

Avoid turning a blind eye

The latest challenge that has stirred keen media interest (and perhaps even woken the sleeping giant, the Church), is an investigation by the Human Rights Commission into the Biblical teaching manual and practices of Joshua Generation Church in Cape Town, led by Pastor Andrew and Emma Selley.

While the issue of spanking (so as to discipline one’s child) is the specific focus of this investigation, the greater battle for religious freedom, the authority of the Bible to govern Christian living, and the privity of family life is ultimately what is at stake. We interviewed Andrew and Emma to find out exactly why ‘the spanking issue’ is so important, and what Christians should be doing about it.

Andrew, tell us a little about your church…why have you been singled out?
My wife and I felt called to Tableview 14 years ago (from PE) and moved here to start Joshua Generation. We began with four people in our lounge; today we have 3 500 attendees and 16 congregations across Cape Town and the Southern Cape. We work closely with other churches and consider ourselves to be a Bible-based church, passionate about the Lord and authentic Christianity.

You ask why we have been singled out, well, I don’t specifically think JoshGen was targeted for persecution, so much as the general Body of Christ who teaches and preaches Biblical Christianity. There is an agenda by various lobby groups against Christian guest-houses, businesses, churches etc, and ours has now landed on their radar.

A complaint was laid against the church for teaching that parents may spank their children. Can you share the specifics with us?
Much has been reported in the media about the whole “spanking” issue – specifically that it is a form of child abuse and that our church endorses this through our parenting manuals.

Though some of the  actual details of the complaint are not known to us (as this has been withheld from us by the SAHRC), the basic facts of the case are that a couple (who do not belong to the church) laid a complaint with the SAHRC, about one of our parenting manuals that discussed the issue of spanking and gives guidelines to parents on how they should discipline their children.

How did this end up with the Human Rights Commission?
As far as we know, the complaint was escalated by the organisation to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) and they initiated an investigation by sending us a letter to clarify three things, namely:
(1) The church doctrine accepts and requires the use of corporeal punishment by means of a rod.
(2) The church implies that corporal punishment does not negatively affect the child.
(3) The church’s purposeful promotion of corporal punishment is also published in its teaching materials.

The HRC regards this (spanking) as emotional, physical and psychological abuse, and thus would need to take action against us abusing children or teaching it. I am not sure if JOY! readers know this, but our government has signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – which promotes the outlawing of spanking in schools and in the home by signatory Countries like South Africa.

Therefore governments who sign have to act on this and investigate any cases in contempt of this law.

If the government has to act on this, why has it never come up before?
At the moment, freedom of religion has been protected by the constitution. Having said that, there is an inherent tension within the constitution to protect the rights of children, and at the same time allow for the rights of Christians and the Church (and other religions for that matter) to teach what they believe to be true.

The challenge comes though, as mandated by the United Nations, that the rights of children supersede the rights of a religion (to teach or practise a certain thing), if it is found to be detrimental to the child. Obviously if a church or religion taught child abuse, this right of religious freedom would not be greater than the rights of a child to be safe and protected. BUT – and most important to note – Joshua Generation Church (and the Christian Church) do not teach or advocate child abuse. We teach the Biblical principles for disciplining children. It is not the same thing.

I was shocked to learn that the couple who laid the complaint were not from your church, but actually a part of an atheist lobby group…
Obviously it was concerning for us to receive the letter, and we were curious to know how and why this complaint had arisen. Upon investigation, it became clear that the complaint was not made by any member of our church, nor a person that had specific dealings with our church.

It was sad for us to see that this was part of a strategic agenda of certain parties to undermine the Bible and try to inhibit Christian teachings.

What course of action did you take after receiving the letter?
We immediately called a prayer meeting with our eldership team. We also referred it to our lawyers, who recognised this as a bigger issue. I felt the Lord gave us a two-pronged strategy for response – specifically to rally the Body of Christ so as to present a united front. We should have solidarity – if you touch one of us, you touch all of us. There are enough Christians in this country to stop what is brewing here, if we would all just stand up for what we believe.

The second prong of the strategy I had was to extend an olive branch to the HRC and government at large. We all know there is a problem of child abuse in the country, and we all want to see this cease. I felt that our response as a church should be to see how we can work with the government to try and become part of the solution. They can’t police every home or intervene in every situation, but together with the Church, we can hopefully find workable solutions to bring about a value shift in people’s lives and protect the children of our nation.

You seemed to have made quite an impact on social media and in the news with your story…why did you choose to go public?
For too long Christians and church leaders have worked in isolation from one another. We have all been focussed on our own agendas and programmes. But in the world we now live, we have to work together – as Jesus said in Matthew 12:25, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.”

I felt in my prayer time, that this case could be a tipping point for Christians – there are several cases out there that could hinder Biblical teaching, and should any of these cases be lost, we could see a precedent set that would severely limit and impede the rights of believers to preach and teach the Bible. When Creare Training Centre (a Christian ministry) lost their case (of discrimination against homosexuals), a small ripple of concern went through the Church. But it is not enough – we should all be praying, speaking out and standing up. Creare have appealed the ruling, but the point is this – the onslaught is only beginning.
Many lobby groups are gathering resources and people so as to build cases against the Church. We cannot sit back in our pews, or on our couches and just watch from the sidelines. We need to put our stake in the ground and stand firm. Time is of the essence.

We must remember, we do not war against flesh and blood – this is satan’s agenda – so we need our spiritual weapons of prayer, and the Word of God, to resist evil and advance the Gospel. We love people, and we care for the lost, that is why it is imperative that Christ-ians win these legal battles – so that we may have liberty to preach the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jesus Christ).

It was for these reasons that I decided to specifically and vocally drum up support in this case, to get the word out on social media, engage in conversations on the blogs, and to answer any critics as transparently and sincerely as possible. Working with other Christian leaders and media (such as Errol Naidoo), we arranged key meetings with church leaders and the best Christ-ian legal minds in the country. There is so much at stake for the Body of Christ and we must act now!

Did you face any resistance or criticism from Christian leaders?
We have been blessed and encouraged by all the support we have received. Yes, there have been critics both inside and outside of the Church…even some close friends have questioned my decision to ‘pro-actively’ do something about this case (rather than allow the law to take its course). I understand their concerns, but I feel that this case could be a watershed moment for our country – and we don’t want to end up like the rest of the Western world who sat back, passively watching the judicial persecution and only now have woken up to the reality of the legal limitations placed on the Gospel.

Fortunately it seems that South African Christians and Church leaders are recognising the threat. To date we have the confirmed support of leaders representing over 8.9 million Christians. We have signed petitions that have been submitted to the HRC as well as a database of leaders who will stand with us. To God be the glory!

Andrew, why do you think God chose you to spearhead this campaign?
It is amazing how the Lord prepares you before hand. God was speaking to me 24 years ago when I got saved. He told me then  that I would be part of leading a church in a time of persecution. He told me that He will give a voice to speak and represent the Church.

Interestingly, British theologian David Pawson called me a few weeks before I received the letter. He spoke with me and said that he was so concerned about the state of Christianity in England – that no one spoke up about the prejudices. He told me that the church over there was sleeping, and that now it’s too late. I felt at that time when we spoke, that it was God’s voice saying “Don’t let this happen here.”

Throughout my Christian walk, I have received a number of prophecies indicating what is now taking place…even prophecies that said I would speak before parliament. It is amazing how this is coming to pass now.

Where do things stand now?
We met with several lawyers who crafted a legal document to help churches. Professor Koertzen and many other lawyers and religious leaders compiled a Charter for Religious Rights and Freedoms for churches and Christian entities to sign, which outlines what religious freedom entails and advises churches on how to structure their organisations.

It will provide a framework from which to work and hopefully prove to be a very helpful document for churches to fall back on should other legal cases arise against them. We hope to get this Charter recognised as part of our Constitution under Section 234 of the Constitution of SA. I want to encourage every pastor of every church to sign that.

We have also formed a legal body, The Public Justice Institute, who will fight the Christian cause in Court in order to develop our Constitutional law to include and protect Religious freedom in our Country. This will protect the Church and create jurisprudence – not just in defence of complaints, but rather adopting a proactive approach to creating laws that will help Christians.

What can our readers do to support you?

First please pray with us for supernatural favour. Pray with the churches in the country. I encourage pastors to set aside  minor doctrinal issues and rally together. Please spread the word to all pastors and leaders to sign the Charter for Religious Rights and Freedoms. The legal body also needs financial donations.

This case has cost over R100 000 already and could run into the millions. The sooner we set the legal precedent, the greater the chance of limiting further legal challenges against Christians.

For more information and ideas on how to fight this battle with us, please email:
Thank you! 

What The Bible Teaches About Spanking

The phrase “spare the rod, spoil the child” comes from Proverbs 13:24: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” The Lord uses discipline to reveal our sin to us. This is also how parents reveal the truth of our need for a Saviour to their children. When a child does not feel the consequence of his sin, he will not understand that sin requires punishment. The Lord provides a way to salvation and forgiveness through Jesus, but that means little to those who do not see their sin.
Learning accountability
Furthermore, correction shows us that we are not above reproach and that we are accountable for our actions. Our natural pride blinds us to our need for a Saviour, and discipline reveals the truth of our wretchedness (Rev 3:17). Since salvation is the most important choice the child will ever make, it is imperative that parents are leading them to Christ, and discipline is critical to this process.
Proverbs 23:13 says: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.” In the context of verse 13-14, “die” means spiritual death of hell.Children who respect authority and feel sorrow for their sin are much more likely to ask Jesus to forgive them and be saved.
Discipline drives out a sinful nature
All children are born sinful (Rom 5:12-19). Their natural self is destructive and unrighteous. That does not mean they aren’t infinitely valuable and worthy of love (Ps 127:3). It means that they are not born with any natural ‘goodness’ in them. That is why all children need discipline.
Proverbs 22:15 says: “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Discipline is critical for wisdom (Prov 29:15), and a child who obeys his parents will be wise (Prov 13:1). Even adults who do not heed correction will feel the consequences of their foolishness (Prov 10:13).
Physical discipline
Some people believe in discipline, but not in physical discipline such as spanking. However, the Bible is the final word on what is truth; it is not mere opinion or theory. The word “rod” indicates a thin stick or object that can be used to give a small amount of physical pain with no lasting physical injury. A child should never be bruised, injured, or cut by a physical correction. The Bible warns that parents should never abuse the power and authority they have over their children while they are young because it provokes the children to righteous anger (Eph 6:4; Col 3:21).
Physical discipline is always done in love, never as a vent to the parent’s frustration. It is also just one part of discipline and should be used when the child shows defiance to a clear limit, not in the heat of the moment.
Look at God’s example
God instructs parents to parent their children the way He does. Hebrews 12:5-11 tells us that God disciplines those whom He loves to perfect their righteousness. God only disciplines His own, which proves that Christians are His beloved children.
Notice that David says that the Lord’s rod comforts him in his time of trouble (Ps 23:4).
The blessings of discipline
Finally, we know that no discipline feels good while it is happening, but afterwards the rewards are rich (Heb 12:11). Godly character, fruit of the spirit, and peace are rewards of God’s discipline. The same is true for our human children. Children who have learned how to take responsibility for their actions are much happier people (Prov 3:11-18).
The importance of the rod of correction is that it steers the heart of a child toward Jesus and forgiveness of sin He offers. When parents trust God’s methods over their own, they will see the blessings for their children and themselves.
Some claim that physical discipline (corporal punishment) such as spanking is the only method the Bible supports. Others insist that ‘time-outs’ and other punishments that do not involve physical discipline are far more effective.
What does the Bible say?
The Bible teaches that physical discipline is appropriate, beneficial, and necessary.
Do not misunderstand – we are by no means advocating child abuse. A child should never be disciplined physically to the extent that it causes actual physical or emotional damage. According to the Bible, though, the appropriate and restrained physical discipline of children is a good thing and contributes to the well-being and correct upbringing of the child.
Discipline encourages repentance
The Bible strongly stresses the importance of discipline; it is something we must all have in order to be productive people, and it is much more easily learned when we are young.
Children who are not disciplined often grow up rebellious, have no respect for authority, and as a result find it difficult to willingly obey and follow the Lord. God Himself uses discipline to correct us and lead us down the right path and to encourage repentance for our wrong actions (Ps 94:12; Prov 1:7; 6:23; 12:1; 13:1; 15:5; Is 38:16; Heb 12:9).
Keep in line with the Bible
In order to apply discipline correctly and according to Biblical principles, parents must be familiar with the Scriptural advice regarding discipline. The book of Proverbs contains much wisdom regarding the rearing of child-ren. Of course, discipline must have as its goal the good of the child and must never be used to justify the abuse and mistreatment of
Loving and comforting
Discipline is used to correct and train people to go in the right way. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Heb 12:11. God’s discipline is loving, as should it be between parent and child.
Physical punishment should always be followed immediately by comforting the child with assurance that he/she is loved. These moments are the perfect time to teach a child that God disciplines us because He loves us and that, as parents, we do the same.
What about other forms of discipline?
Can other forms of discipline, such as time-outs, be used instead of physical discipline? Some parents find that their children do not respond well to physical discipline. Some parents find that time-outs, grounding, and/or taking something away from the children is more effective in encouraging behavioural change. If that is indeed the case, by all means, a parent should employ the methods that best produce the needed behavioural change.
While the Bible undeniably advocates physical discipline, the Bible is more concerned with the goal of building godly character than it is in the precise method used to produce that goal.
The subject of spanking is a divisive one, even among Christians. Several countries have banned the corporal punishment of children, yet many parents consider spanking an essential tool in discipline.
When the law forbids spanking, the question arises: if spanking is illegal, do parents have the God-given right to continue to use corporal punishment to discipline their children? When the subject of spanking is broached, it must be assumed that the corporal punishment in question does not occur in an abusive way.
What is best?
Some children respond to spanking quickly and completely when all other types of punishment fail. Parents of a strong-willed three-year-old who loves to run out into the street, understand they have two choices: spank promptly to curb the dangerous behaviour right away, or confine their child to a strictly controlled environment that may disrupt the entire family and restrict the child from more pleasant activities.
It is your responsibility
The Bible neither explicitly demands nor forbids the spanking of children. (Although the “rod” of Proverbs 13:24 could refer to reproof in general, corporal punishment cannot be excluded as an option).
Firm, decisive discipline is vital to the well-being of a child. It provides guidance and wisdom the child will need later in life. Fathers in the New Testament bear a responsibility to rear their children “in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Eph 6:4.
Allow God to direct you
Christian families in many nations in Europe and even on U.S. military bases are faced with the challenge of disciplining their children without the option of spanking/corporal punishment. Parents who believe that spanking is a God-ordained practice necessary for the rearing of their child may spank privately, disregarding the ban as a matter of civil disobedience. Other parents may choose not to spank, submitting to their civil authority and trusting that God is wise enough to lead them to discipline in other ways. Both options have their merits (within context).

Fearing the government
Many parents do not spank their children for fear of being reported to the government and risk having their children taken away. What should parents do if a government has made physical discipline of children illegal?
A government should never contradict God’s Word, and physical discipline is, Biblically speaking, in the best interest of children. However, keeping children in families in which they will at least receive some discipline is far better than losing children to the care of the government.
Non-corporal punishment will most likely require a great deal more effort, time, and commitment, but it can be effective as well.
God knows His children well. May we know our children well enough to know how best to discipline them with patience, perseverance, and love. Pray and seek His guidance in each and every situation.
The Bible does not specifically use the term “child abuse.” There is no record of a single instance in the Bible where a child is being abused. What the Bible does tell us is this: children have a special place in God’s heart and anyone who harms a child is inviting God’s wrath upon Him.
When Jesus’ disciples tried to keep children from coming to Him, He rebuked them and welcomed little children to His side, saying, “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:14. Then He took the children in His arms and blessed them (v16).
In your anger, do not sin
Children are abused and mistreated in several different ways, all of which are abhorrent to God. Too many children are the victims of angry beatings and other physical abuse as their parents take out their own anger and frustration on their children. Anger is almost always sinful, and anyone who abuses a child in anger commits multiplied sins. “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.” Prov 29:22.
There is no place for unrighteous anger in the life of a Christian, as Paul reminds the Ephesians: “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Eph 4:26-27. Anger should be confessed to God long before it comes to the point of physical abuse against a child or anyone else.
What does it mean to ‘exasperate’ my child?
Psychological and emotional abuse is also forbidden in Scripture. Ephesians 6:4 warns fathers not to “exasperate” or provoke their children, but to bring them up in the “training and instruction of the Lord.”
Harsh, unloving discipline alienates children’s minds from their parents and renders their instructions and corrections useless. In addition, it often leads to sin against God, as it is difficult in the best of children to be angry and yet not sin. Parents can provoke and exasperate their children by placing unreasonable requirements on them, belittling them, or constantly finding fault, thereby producing wounds that are far worse than any physical beating can inflict.
Colossians 3:21 tells us not to “embitter” our children so they will not become discouraged. Ephesians 4:15-19 says we are to speak the truth in love and use our words to build others up, not allow rotten or destructive words to pour from our lips, especially toward the tender hearts and minds of children.
Love is a priority
So, even though the Bible does not specific-ally mention child abuse, it is abundantly clear how God feels about the issue. Anyone who suspects a child is being abused has the obligation to report it to appropriate authorities. 
GOT QUESTIONS seeks to glorify God by providing Biblical and applicable answers to spiritually related questions. For more info: www.

You Reap What You Sow

I’ve decided it’s time to get back in shape and my method of choice is a 90-day workout. A unique feature of this workout is that it’s all on video, so I follow along with a virtual room full of muscle-bound athletes that chuckle condescendingly as I struggle with my sixth chin up.
Results are not instant
A few days ago, my 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter joined their mother in deciding that they wanted to exercise with me. Five minutes into warming up, my son turned to me with great excitement and said, “Hey dad, look at your elbows! You almost got muscles!”
We need to be patient
My wife and I had a good laugh, but my poor son never understood what was so funny. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it doesn’t work that way. It takes a long time and many doughnuts, followed by excessive periods of sedentary inactivity and lack of resolve to become as out of shape as I am.
And getting fit, losing weight and building muscle, doesn’t happen after a few minutes of warming up either.
Sowing seeds for the harvest
Imagine growing up on an ancient Israeli farm. The long winter months reduced the pantries to empty shells; families lived on meagre rations and dreamed about fresh bread. Suddenly, rain begins to pour and dusty fields become rivers. The father says to his young son, “Come, it’s time to sow”, and pulls huge bags of grain from the barn.
“Father” the boy exclaims, “Now we can make bread!” “No my son, this isn’t for eating. I will show you what it is for,” and together they wade into the flooded fields.
Then the father does the most incredible thing. He reaches into the sack, pulls out a handful of grain and throws it into the water! That night the boy eats his paltry portion of dinner and wonders why his father wasted so much grain. Many weeks later the water will rescind and the boy will step outside and behold a miracle. The fields will be full of tiny sprouts, racing heavenward to produce a harvest of golden grain.
Solomon referred to this ancient farming technique when he wrote, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” Ecc 11:1.
Do not become weary
The laws of sowing and reaping are universal, whether learned by a little boy farming in ancient Israel or exercising with his dad.
Unfortunately, these are principles many adults have yet to understand.
A newly saved church member once approached me after a Sunday service feeling disgruntled. “Pastor”, he said, “The Bible says to ‘test God’ with the tithe and offering and that’s exactly what I did.”
He explained that before he became a Christian and started attending church, he had been experiencing financial hardship. When reading the Bible he learned that the “windows of Heaven” would be opened over those who give.
That Sunday he decided to “test God” by emptying his wallet in the offering plate. But the subsequent week was not as he had anticipated. His financial difficulties continued and he began to doubt the Bible. He had sown a seed, but not reaped a harvest.
A new season is coming
I chuckled, for it was much like when my son searched for sprouting muscles five minutes into his workout. I explained to the gentleman that whatever you are harvesting now is not the result of what you planted a few hours ago, but what you planted months ago, even years ago, in a different season.
Likewise, the seeds you plant today won’t be ready for harvest by the next day. But we must not be discouraged, “let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Gal 6:9.
What will your harvest look like?
The amazing and sobering thought is that we are always planting seeds. That comment you made, that time you spent with your family – everything you do is a seed that will produce a harvest in the future. Be careful what you plant in this season, because you will eat it in the next!
Our lives are ultimately an accumulation of the decisions we have made; a harvest of what we have sown. You cannot change today’s harvest by sowing good seeds today, but if you sow the right seeds, day in and day out, in “due season” you will reap your harvest if you “faint not”.
Daniel Kolenda is the president of Christ for All Nations Ministries international. For more info: 0861 232 672  or

Are You A Thorn in the Flesh

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

It is sobering to realise that you may be a thorn in the flesh to someone else. Has it dawned on you that you are another person’s problem because of your particular personality? The problem is, of course, yours, but you unfortunately make it somebody else’s as well. It may be the person who has to live with you, work with you, or deal with you from time to time. You force that person to have to walk on eggshells around you. He or she loses sleep because of you. How does that make you feel? Well, it sobers me to my fingertips, knowing that I may very well be another person’s thorn in the flesh.

Perhaps you are aware of your problem, but you say: “I can’t help it. This is who I am.” You have prayed about it often. But have you really tried to get help? You are never too old to learn as long as you want your problems solved.
So when you don’t have a balanced personality, you have difficulty in getting along with people. You keep sticking your foot in your mouth. You keep rubbing people the wrong way. Only Jesus had the perfect personality. He also has the perfect combination of self-confidence and care for others. That is the ideal person: having the balance of self-confidence, concern, and care for others.
If your personality is your thorn in the flesh, then you should admit it. Be thankful if you can see that you have a problem.

A personality problem is not necessarily sin. It is because you are a sinner that you have it, yes, for nobody is perfect. And yet there is a point at which a personality problem becomes sin: when you excuse it and justify it. If you say, “Well, that’s just me,” that’s when it becomes sin. It is sinful when you excuse yourself and do nothing about it.

By RT Kendall