Do You Have a Biblical Worldview?

Do You Have a Biblical Worldview?
A recent survey by the Barna Research Group discovered that only 9% of Christians in America have a Biblical worldview. Further to that Barna found:
– 38% of these adults believe the whole Bible, including the Old Testament, was written decades after Jesus’ death. (Much was in fact written centuries earlier)
– 38% didn’t know that Isaiah was in the Old Testament
– 49% believe the Bible teaches that money is the root of all evil. (It says the love of money is root of all evil, in 1 Timothy 6:10)
– 12% believe that Joan of Arc is Noah’s wife (must be the ark/Arc connection!)
– Only 9% of born-again Christians have a Biblical worldview.

Now whilst we may laugh at these statistics, sadly similar figures can be reflected in South Africa – even amongst the most ardent church goers. Why is it that Christians (who supposedly live by their faith) seem to know so little about their very belief system? Upon closer inspection, there are three predominant reasons for this inconsistency. Firstly, because too many Christians are saved in their hearts, but not in their heads,  (ie: they haven’t renewed their minds – Rom 12 – and thus are not interested in learning about the fundamentals of their faith).

The second reason is because for many years there has been a startling lack of comprehensive, easy to understand teaching on key issues like: worldviews, apologetics and foundational doctrine.

Different influencers
A third significant reason for consideration is the widespread discrepancy within the Body of Christ over key issues such as: should a Christian vote for a Christian party; should you speak out against blasphemy in the media, etc. Hence depending what authors you read/church you attend, your worldview may differ from that of a fellow believer who has received slightly different teaching.

Why is a worldview important?
When one talks about worldviews, the temptation is to ‘switch off’ and dismiss it as irrelevant philosophical jargon. The reality however, is that your worldview (which is the framework, attitudes, beliefs and set of ideas through which you order your world) is the cornerstone of who you are and how you relate to God and to others.

Our worldview tells us what is real, what is important, what is right, and what is wrong. Thus it comes as no surprise that Barna found those with a Biblical worldview live according to a much higher moral standard than those without such a worldview. In the past decade many Christians have rallied around the slogan, “What would Jesus do?” This is a fine question to ask. Unfortunately, it can’t really be answered effectively by people who don’t share Jesus’ worldview.George Barna explains: “If Jesus Christ came to this planet as a model of how we ought to live, then our goal should be to act like Jesus. Sadly, few people consistently demonstrate the love, obedience and priorities of Jesus. The primary reason that people do not act like Jesus, is because they do not think like Jesus.”

What’s a Biblical worldview?
A Biblical worldview is based on the infallible Word of God. When you believe the Bible is entirely true, then you allow it to be the foundation of everything you say and do. That means, for instance, you take seriously the mandate in Romans 13 to honour the governing authorities by researching the candidates and issues, making voting a priority. Christians who do not use Biblical guidelines and principles when casting their vote thus do not have a Biblical perspective or worldview in this area. Worryingly, nonbiblical ideas can easily be integrated into our thinking without us being aware of their influence. We are constantly bombarded with secular humanist ideas through TV, film, radio, advertising, newspapers, books and academia. Because we live in a selfish, fallen world, these ideas seductively appeal to the desires of our flesh. It is a constant battle and one that Christians must actively engage in.

If we capture and embrace more of God’s worldview and trust it with unwavering faith, then we begin to make the right decisions and form the appropriate responses to questions on abortion, same-sex marriage, cloning and even media choices. Ultimately, it is our decisions and actions that reveal what we really believe.

A Biblical perspective
Worldview expert David Noebel and Summit Ministries have put together a summary of the Christian worldview across ten major categories. For comprehensive coverage of each concept, please see
• Christian Theology: Theism (Trinitarian)
• Christian Philosophy: Faith and Reason
• Christian Ethics: Moral Absolutes
• Christianity and Science: Creationism
• Christian Psychology: Mind/Body Dualism
• Christian Sociology: Traditional Family, Church, and State
• Christian Politics: Justice, Freedom, Order
• Christian Economics: Stewardship of Property
• Christianity and Law: Divine / Natural Law
• Christianity and History: Creation, Fall, and Redemption
It is important that every Christian study to show themselves approved, by finding out what the Biblical perspective is on the key categories highlighted above. It is also vital that we learn to critically evaluate all that we read, see and hear in the media by constantly comparing it to the Biblical imperative.

How does having a Biblical worldview affect me practically?
We know that every human will give account for their acceptance of Christ as Saviour (and inherit eternal life) or their rejection of Him as Saviour (and face eternal damnation).

Similarly, every Christian will account for their good deeds either done in faith and obedience to Christ, or done out of selfish ambition (which are like filthy rags). God has given each of us a ministry mandate to spread the Gospel and to further His Kingdom on earth. You cannot effectively outwork God’s purposes for your life, or His Will on earth without a Biblical worldview.

Gap Year: Gaining a Lifelong Education

Gap Year: Gaining a Lifelong Education
Living in right relationship with God, ourselves, others and finally in right relationship with the created order is the challenge and hope of many believers. We have all known the sting of a relationship that has gone wrong – and a great deal of time, energy and money is spent trying to find a place of peace. There are so many voices vying for our attention: the voices of our families, educators, political leaders and our friends, to mention a few. Often these voices are dissident and it is not always easy to hear which contains truth and wisdom.

Becoming disciples of Jesus
When Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, He was calling them to a way of life in which the whole person was fully engaged. The same applies to us today. No matter what we tackle in life as disciples of Jesus, there are three basic elements which will either authenticate or erode our best efforts. These elements could be described as knowledge, activity and character.

Knowledge is not that hard to come by, and is more easily accessed than ever before in the history of mankind. The challenge of the day is not so much the acquisition of information, but the appropriate application of the found facts.

Activity levels for all age groups are reaching frenetic proportions. If we are to lead balanced lives some skill will be needed to be able to decide which activities are beneficial and whether or not they are making a contribution to our own lives, and the lives of others.  Character is the moral strength of an individual, and one of the difficulties that we face in South Africa today is that many lack moral strength.

Taking a holistic approach
Although there are overlapping values in various religions, it is the Christian ethos that most accurately addresses an holistic approach to knowledge, activity and character. This ethos positions us to engage in life in such a way that we are constantly growing in our ability to live in right relationships. Whether this education happens at home or within a more formal context, the values are immeasurable in their importance.

We only have one life to live, and we surely want to give it our best shot. A Biblical, Christ-centred approach would be that best shot! Ideally the goal of Christian education would be to identify and establish the core of a believer’s life. The age would not be important other than for the sake of context and content. Every age would be included in this journey of applying knowledge appropriately, engaging in activities that enhance life, and drawing from a well of moral strength at the centre of our beings. 

Preparing our hands, heads and hearts
A not uncommon way of addressing the areas of knowledge, activity and character in the holistic Christian view of living would be the preparation of heads, hands and hearts for the purpose of living well. Heads would be the acquisition of cognitive knowledge and understanding, and would result in greater wisdom on how to live out in right relationships.

Hands is the competent development of the necessary vocational skills that can translate into appropriate behaviour. Hearts is seen as the development of social and personal moral vision. Whether one is a young adult or a parent, it would serve well to consider these three areas when evaluating any form of Christian education. This approach is also relevant for studies in the arts. Is my knowledge increasing and translating into wisdom so that my head works better? Am I more skilled in the things I do so that my hands are more effective? Is my heart fully engaged in life, solidly grounded in the moral rules of social engagement?

Valid criteria to consider for your gap year
Our daughter and son both chose to do a gap year after finishing school. It was a good decision on both accounts. The extra year taken after the intense challenges of high school was time and money well spent. Our daughter stayed in South Africa while our son elected to spend the year in the United States. It gave each of them an opportunity to settle themselves and finally decide on the vocational direction they wanted to pursue. Our son in particular surprised us by changing direction quite radically from his high school thoughts. Both were involved in Christian programmes, and the measure to which their heads, hands and hearts were impacted long term, underlined the strengths and weakness of each programme. Below are a few criteria by which we assessed the validity of the programmes offered:

Was the end goal of the year a more meaningful relationship with Jesus
Was the process of spiritual formation and discipleship undertaken in the power of the Holy Spirit
Was community a value, where both race and gender were appreciated; and
Was the course material intentionally grounded in the truths of the Bible?

Taking time to educate our heads, hands and hearts in the Biblical and Christ-centred truths of the Scriptures will enable us to grow in our relationships with God, ourselves, others and our world. We will be more skilled, have greater wisdom and live from a core strength that will sustain us in the journey of our lives – wherever that may take us! May the glory of all the good things that we encounter along the way be credited to God’s account.

Media Village

Media Village
The media is too concentrated; too few people own too much. There’s really five companies that control 90 percent of what we read, see and hear. It’s not healthy.” So says Ted Turner, the (liberal) media tycoon and founder of CNN.

Further to that I, as a journalist want to add that the media is a powerful force shaping our culture and the mindsets of future generations – and not always for the good. Christians need to take back the media and will only successfully do so with a Biblical worldview and a spirit of excellence that underpins all they do.

A village of skills, info and talent
Media Village is an impressive organisation doing just that. Committed to equipping students with vital skills across all media (radio/TV/film/print etc), this training centre is  growing in stature, strength and significance. Founded in 1995 and headed up by Graham and Diane Vermooten, Media Village is making its mark in South Africa and across the globe through quality productions (they regularly film Christian events, corporate videos and international documentaries) and impressive media graduates.

From humble beginnings…
A dynamic duo, Graham and Diane have given their lives to furthering the call of Christ through media. Training as youth directors with YFC, the pair met and married 27 years ago. Discovering God’s calling for their lives lay in a global destiny they joined YWAM. Modern day scribes, the Vermootens, their staff and team of trainees document the stories of our time. Their holistic approach to media has resulted in journalists, filmmakers, presenters and photographers entering the secular and Christian media worlds with a comprehensive skills set, hands-on experience and Christ-centered values. A formidable combination!

Toward world-class training
Practically speaking, students sign up for at least a year of training in various disciples (such as communications, digital video production, radio broadcasting, journalism, photography, etc). They are also developing a degree programme, a ‘gap-year’ programme and short seminars.

The skills and training that students received is comparable, and dare I say better, than many universities and training colleges offering the same modules. One of the reasons for this is the hands-on training that students receive. Working with state of the art equipment, students participate in actual productions and are trained by industry experts in their respective fields. Their campus is situated in Cape Town, where students are accommodated, fed and trained in a magnificent setting.

The organisation has a selective screening process and only accepts students committed to their craft and passionate about their calling. Students from all around the world attend Media Village, bringing the international flair and perspective so necessary in media.

Dedicated to making an impact
The Vermooten’s are dedicated to empowering those from disadvantaged backgrounds and hence subsidise the tuition of several students. Their investment over the years has certainly paid off, as Media Village is highly respected in the industry. Graduates are easily placed in jobs and the production company is regularly used to film events, adverts, short-films and corporate functions. Their numerous industry awards are testament to their quality of work.

Having worked in media for many years, I often encounter poorly trained journalists, low-budget productions and inferior content. My interaction with the Media Village crew has been completely different. Their productions are world-class. I cannot think of a better place for a Christian wanting to work in media to be trained at.

Bill Hybels: It May Take A Lifetime. Exclusive JOY! Interview

Bill Hybels: It May Take A Lifetime. Exclusive JOY! Interview
At first glance, you could mistake him for an easy-going sort of guy – dressed in a casual button-down shirt, blue jeans, sandals and a robust tan borne of spending time on the water. Most days off, he can be found savouring the solitude, sun and wind from the deck of a sailboat, or walking the shores of Lake Michigan with wife Lynne, kids Todd or Shauna, or three-year-old grandson Henry.

But although he loves to play (he sails competitively), make no mistake: Bill Hybels is all business when it comes to reaching people who are far from God. He sits at the helm of a striking church phenomenon – a phenomenon best known simply as Willow Creek. In 1975, Hybels and a band of friends founded Willow Creek Community Church, an interdenominational church in suburban Chicago. “We were just a bunch of kids who didn’t know what we were doing,” Hybels says. “But we were dead serious about one thing: we wanted our friends to know Christ. Lots of people our age thought church was irrelevant – or worse – boring. We wanted to create a church service they would come to! We had no money, so we went door-to-door selling tomatoes to raise enough money for sound equipment. We rented a run-down movie theatre. And that’s the illustrious beginning of Willow Creek.”

Humble beginnings
Utilising music, drama, multi-media presentations and teachings from Scripture, Bill and team brought the message of Jesus Christ to their friends in a way they could understand. “Sounds like a no-brainer today, but back then, it was a foreign concept,” Hybels says. The strategy – now known as the ‘seeker service’ – worked. The Holy Spirit moved, people responded to God in swelling numbers, and the church thrived.  Today, more than 20 000 people per weekend worship at one of Willow Creek’s five campuses or burgeoning Spanish-language service, Casa de Luz (‘House of Light’). The church appears annually on lists touting “largest” or “most influential” churches in America.

A global ministry
In 1992, Willow Creek launched the Willow Creek Association (WCA), a not-for-profit arm of the church that exists to maximise the life-transformational effectiveness of local churches worldwide. Since the birth of the Willow Creek Association, tens of thousands of churches from more than 90 denominations have received WCA resources, and more than one million church leaders around the world have received training and inspiration. Their 2010 Global Leadership Summit will reach more than 400 cities globally, including nine cities in South Africa. As Willow Creek gets ready to celebrate its 35th anniversary, JOY! Magazine caught up with Bill to hear his reflections on the past 35 years.

When you look at what God has done over the past 35 years, what are your thoughts?
I think, “Only God.” Only the God of the universe could take a rag-tag bunch of kids and build something that, through His strength and direction, would have a positive influence on His Kingdom. I am thrilled and humbled to be along for the ride.

What was your dream back in 1975?
When we started Willow Creek, I had the sense that I wanted to spend my life in the same church. I remember thinking, “It may take a lifetime for me to grow up to become a good leader, and it may take a lifetime for a church to become an Acts 2 community.”  The arbitrary number that was always in my mind – and I’ve rarely spoken about it – was 40 years. I knew I would like to give the major portion of my life to the same church, if God would have me do that, and if the congregation would be responsive to it.

How has Willow Creek’s mission to ‘turn irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ’ adjusted its strategy in recent years?
We used to feel that to reach seekers and build up believers, we had to have separate services and strategies for each. But because seekers have changed, society has changed, peoples’ availability for church participation has changed, we now believe that we can utilise a one-service format, and that service can be spiritually catalytic for explorers, beginning Christians, growing Christians, and those who are Christ-centred. We have a better understanding these days of what it takes to move people effectively toward Christ-centredness. We custom design ministries and opportunities toward that end.

What were some forks in Willow Creek’s road where you feel God led you in the right direction?
Three forks in the road come to mind:

Women in leadership. Early on, this was huge. We came to an intersection there, and our Elders studied God’s Word for almost two years. Then we went public that we really do believe that women can use their spiritual gifts just like men can
Going global – deciding that we wanted to serve the Church of Jesus Christ beyond Willow’s walls. We have, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:28, “concern for all the churches.”
Issues of social justice: Global poverty, AIDS, racial reconciliation. These are forks in the road we didn’t seek. They came to us. And God provided the guidance we needed.

Your travels have exposed you to a broad spectrum of cultures. Do you see a commonality among people that transcends nationality, circumstances and era?
I think the core needs of human beings are the same across all borders, generations and cultures. The way in which those core needs are manifested differs dramatically, and how churches address peoples’ core needs changes constantly. We’ve had to get comfortable with the never-ending search for effective tactics and strategies. People at their core are love-starved, they’re purpose-starved. God has “set eternity in the hearts of men” so people wonder about their eternity.

At the end of a really bad day, when you lay your head on the pillow and it’s just you and God, what goes through your mind?
The worst day of doing God’s bidding is better than the best day of not doing it. So no matter how the circumstances have stacked up against my efforts or whatever bad news I’ve received, if my efforts have aligned with the call of God on my life and I’ve been faithful to Him, I sleep very well. If, on the other hand, I’ve made secret compromises in my spirit, or haven’t been on mission or responsive to God’s promptings,  that will be a longer night. At the end of the day I only have to please one person – God.

Given the pace of life that senior leadership requires, how do you keep your ear tuned to God?
It’s a never-ending battle for me, and it’s increasingly complicated by the ubiquitous nature of information, the 24/7 connect with the Internet, and the accessibility people expect of senior leaders. I get 100-200 emails every day – to my private email – from people who need information or decisions from me in a timely fashion. Higher levels of discipline are required to carve out the time necessary to be responsive only to God.

I tell my colleagues, my board, my congregation, “You’re gonna have to wait. Not available during this time,” in order to quiet my heart, read the Scriptures, let the voice of God speak to me deeply. You have to push back very hard and disappoint people in order to protect the space necessary for solitude, reflection, confession of sin.

What does your connection with God look like?
A ruthless commitment to early mornings. I sometimes remind people who want access to me in the mornings that nothing will get me to budge from that which keeps me rooted, grounded and sane. I work uninterrupted, without communication, from 6 until 9 in the morning. Then I ask God to speak to me throughout the day, and I seek to be available for His promptings.

What excites you about the Willow Creek Association?
Everything. I get to work with senior church leaders from around the world. I get to learn from leaders who are better than I am. I get to make deposits in younger leaders. I love the purity of the WCA’s mission: to help other churches prevail. I receive more from interactions with leaders around the world than I ever contribute.  If someone emails me to say, “Thank you for investing in me,” I respond, “The witness of your life made a larger investment in me than whatever I made in you, so thank you.”

Any hints as to what Summit guests can expect this year?
I’ve tried to distil my most poignant learning’s of leadership over 35 years into a 55-minute talk. What things must leaders get right, fundamentally, to move their organisation or church ahead? The list isn’t that long, if you get four or five of these essential down, over time you’ll get better.

If you could share a meal with any living leaders in the world, who would it be?
By God’s Grace, I’ve had dinner with many people on my leadership radar, but Nelson Mandela is the only person I’d put on that list, because of his influence on my life and on the world, because of his courage. I’ve been to Robben Island, I’ve read his speeches, I’ve read everything he’s written, I’ve read pretty much everything written about him. I am under no illusion that he is a perfect leader or perfect human being, but he accomplished one of the great societal movements of history.

You’ve spent time in almost every country in the world. How does South Africa rate?
I love South Africa. In fact, Cape Town is my favourite city in the entire world. I love the waters off the shoreline, I love the Cape Town harbour, I love Table Mountain and  the Twelve Apostles, I love the intensity of the climate – the power of the wind, the brilliance of the sun, the storms that come. I love the mixing of the rich and the poor, the British influence mingled with African history, all on the same street. I love the potential. South Africa is the most influential country on the continent. Since my first trip there in the 90’s, my prayer has been that the Church in South Africa would reach such a level of strength that its influence would spread across the rest of Africa. It thrills me with each passing year to see those prayers being answered through the heart, talent and courageous leadership of South African Christians.

The Judaizer Debate Continued

When JOY! decided to publish an article on modern day Judaizers we anticipated response to some extent from believers across the spectrum. We received several letters and calls from pastors who thanked us for tackling such a tough topic. We received calls and letters from Messianic Jewish leaders and congregations who were concerned our article was aimed at them.

We also received emails from Gentile believers practising Jewish customs, who were hurt or offended at the article and wanted a retraction. Though we did not receive an overwhelming reaction (considering we have over 140 000 readers every month), we decided to address the concerns and to clarify a few points that may have been misconveyed or misunderstood.

Dealing with a difficult issue
Let me begin by apologising to any readers who were hurt by the article. Our intention at JOY! Magazine is educate and equip the Body of Christ so as to fulfil the Great Commission and extend God’s Kingdom on earth. We are not here to attack other believers or to hurt our readers. That said, we must emphasise that JOY! Magazine has a prophetic role within the five-fold ministry (Eph 4) and thus is a voice of teaching, correction, exhortation and rebuke.

The role of JOY! Magazine
Therefore many who at times are hurt or offended by our articles (and deem us judgemental) have failed to recognise our role within the five-fold ministry. Yes, all Christians are called to love and encourage each other. But specifically within ministry, the Prophet is there to call people back to righteousness and justice.

Once readers recognise this calling, they will receive the articles of JOY! with understanding and in context.  It is important to remind readers that JOY! as a magazine publication, is not here to teach doctrine or to offer an exclusive perspective on a topic or issue. As a magazine, it is our role to address relevant issues and to present a viewpoint (or at times several viewpoints) and to hopefully stimulate healthy debate and Biblical introspection on behalf of readers. JOY! is a platform, not a person. It is not the sum of one person’s beliefs. I have to mention this because sometimes (and especially in this instance) readers have responded in a personal and rather hateful manner, which is unfortunate.

Sadly, some readers have launched personal attacks on the author of the Judaizer’s article and have even questioned his salvation! This is unnecessary and ignorant behaviour. Several readers accused JOY! of anti-Semitic sentiments. Yet, (ironically) in the same letter admitted that they have never read the magazine prior or do not subscribe to it regularly. Their accusations are hence illogical and out of context, for anyone who regularly reads the magazine will confirm that JOY! supports Israel and has a healthy Scriptural perspective on that nation and its role within Biblical history and eschatology. JOY! also celebrates our Messianic brothers and sisters and regularly supports the work of these vital ministries through articles, etc. Why then did we publish this article? What was our motivation for touching a tender nerve?

In search of understanding
After much prayer, JOY! decided to address the actions of certain groups of Gentile (ie: non-Jewish) believers who cause division within the Church by drawing young or vulnerable Christians away from Sunday fellowship and into their private house church settings. Now, many of these Gentiles are sincere in their desire to know the Lord more intimately in the context of Jewish custom and O.T.. teaching. Many have left the Christian church because they see a lack of reverence around the Old Testament and the Lord’s Feasts. Many have enjoyed a richer and deeper relationship with God because of their focus on the Jewish heritage we have. And JOY! has no issue with this. In fact we regularly run articles that take us back to Old Testament truths and cultural contexts, that serve to deepen a New Testament understanding.

The Scriptural perspective
What we are concerned about though, is the lack of dialogue and community between members of the ‘Hebrew Roots’ movement and members of the modern Christian church. Some congregations have literally been ripped apart because various members took issue with the Name of Jesus being used, and worship taking place on a Sunday.

Whatever the Scriptural truth may be (which many of the letters have eloquently stated their case for the Sabbath and the Lord’s Name as Yeshua etc), we as brothers and sisters in Christ need to seek common ground and vision – which should be to fulfil the Great Commission and point others to a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ, our Messiah.

Let us live in peace with all men
To all the Christians who ignore or ostracise members of the ‘Hebrew Roots’ movement, we ask that you would engage in discussion and consider their perspective on Biblical truths. To pastors, we ask that you would study out the richness of the Old Testament truths and feasts, and perhaps incorporate them into your services. To the ‘Hebrew Roots’ members, we ask that you would refrain from judging all who do not conform to your customs, and seek dialogue and friendly relations with Christian believers. And to the Messianic Jews and those reaching out to Jews in Israel, we encourage you to continue in your calling and to network with other believers that we may support you.

If you choose to worship God on a Saturday and call Jesus Yeshua, that is fine and forms a rich part of your relationship with the Lord. But please do not attack those who do not do the same, and do not split churches over these issues. To those form part of the modern church and focus on the New Testament teaching, unite and agree on this: “Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith… Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy…” Hebrews 12:2b;14

Educating Your Child Through To Adulthood

Educating Your Child Through To Adulthood
Deciding on a school for your children and helping them decide on a future career are tough decisions. Do you ‘shelter’ them with a Christian education from primary through to high school? Should you allow your teen a gap year? What are the best options?

Bible-based vs Christian schools
To begin with schooling, it is pertinent to note that not all schools claiming to be ‘Christian’ are rooted in Biblical principles. Many government-funded public schools proclaim to be Christian, but in reality this means a hymn or Bible reading at assembly once a week. Teachers at these secular public schools are not necessarily saved and the government determines the curriculum. A private, Bible-based Christian school, on the other hand, acknowledges the Holy Trinity in all areas of study. Here Christians will teach your children and nurture their religious and spiritual needs. Biblical Christian schools are often smaller than public schools and your children will learn in a more intimate atmosphere. The curriculum at non-secular Christian schools can be tailored to a child’s specific needs, which is a great advantage if you have a sensitive child. Teacher Jacqueline Pretorius says “I teach at a secular public school and I see how the godless nature of the curriculum, as well as the godless opinions of unsaved teachers, negatively influences kids.”

The benefits of secular schools
With regards to secular schooling, most neighbourhoods have a public school in the vicinity and thus accommodation or transportation should not be a problem. First-time mom, Judy Schellingerhout, feels that “it is important for children to meet people with different values and beliefs. In this way, children are exposed to the real world.”
Another mom,  Mariette Visser, feels that sending your children to a public school is a wonderful opportunity for them to share Jesus with their friends. “They will learn that the world is not perfect and that Christians need to reach out to other people.”  Whether one chooses a Bible-based school, a Christian school, home-schooling or a secular school, it is crucial to pray about your decision and to stay actively involved in educating your child. Regularly discussing their homework with them and explaining Biblical truths in a real-life setting are critical in establishing a Christian worldview they can carry into adulthood.

Finding other Christian parents to network with and ingratiating yourself with the schools parent-teacher association can also go a long way in vocalising your concerns and protecting your child’s education. For more info on Christian schooling please see or or  or consult or

Life after school
Once you and your child have made it through school, important questions once again arise: “Will I be able to assist my children in making the right career choices?” “What if my child is finishing school this year and still doesn’t know what to do?”There are several options available including: a gap year, a short-term skills course (like photography), a work experience venture or a missionary based ‘year of your life’ programme.

It is critical that whatever your young adult chooses to do with their after-school education, they do it with purpose and intentionality. The following statistics reveal the importance of this post-matric choice:

A major study has found that a shocking 40% of South African students drop out of university in their first year – one of the most significant reasons for these drop-out rates is poor career choices
According to only 15% of South Africans are enrolled in tertiary education
Research has shown that individuals with tertiary education are three times as likely to be formally employed (compared to individuals with grade 12 or less).

Should one take a gap year?
Many parents stress at the mention of a ‘gap year’ as they envison their teen sleeping all day and wasting a year at dad’s expense. If your child is uncertain of their future, encourage them to explore a gap year or ‘year of your life’ option. Or suggest they  use the year to gain experience in various fields, through taking on an internship at a place he or she is interested in working at.

Your son might be excellent at writing, but once he experiences the pressure of meeting deadlines, he might realise this is the wrong profession for him. A productive gap year provides your kids with time to discover their passion so that they can make the right decision concerning which course to enrol in at College or University. This can save you emotional and financial distress. For gap year options see: for their Biblical Worldview Summit or see for their options.

Christian tertiary education
If your child has a strong desire to focus on Christ in his or her vocation, there are various Christian tertiary education options they can consider. Find out whether your local church is running a Bible school or any other such short courses.

If your child is interested in a longer, theology-based course, he or she could enrol in a Bible College and obtain a theological degree or diploma. Going to seminary school is another academic option. do an Internet search for seminaries in your area or consult the JOY! website under advertiser directory for various listings or see or or or or

Compassionate study options
If your child is intensely touched by the needs and tears of others, he or she could consider completing a counselling diploma or a short-term or long-term mission programme. For further info regularly consult JOY! Magazine’s advertising sections.. For further options see: or or God might also have called your child into full time ministry…if you feel this is the case, approach your pastor for advice.

Adventure, arts and drama
There are various Christian adventure programmes that equip young people with leadership skills. Such programmes are often advertised in JOY! Magazine. See or or or or If your child is more interested in arts and culture, he or she could consider practical courses like photography/design/media or writing workshops. Often a diploma or more practically based education option is better. See

Key essentials every child needs
When one looks at future employment options for young adults entering the marketplace, certain key characteristics have been identified as essential:

Honesty, integrity and reliability
Resourcefulness, common sense and pro-active decision making
Confidence and the ability to sell and market oneself
Teachability and the skills to learn quickly and grow in areas of responsibility
Leadership and a positive attitude.

Obtaining valuable skills for a successful future
Try where possible from a young age to instil confidence and resourcefulness in your kids. When they are older, send them on a sales course. If a person can’t sell, they will truly battle in life. An entrepenurial course is also an essential recommendation of JOY! Magazine.

Making choices about your children’s future is certainly challenging, but you have the wisdom of Christ available.  “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask where the good way is…and you will find rest for your souls.”Jer 6:16.

The Mountain of God: The Discovery of the Real Mt Sinai

The Mountain of God: The Discovery of the Real Mt Sinai
On the trail of truth people want to touch history. Mount Sinai is where God reached down and, with His own finger, wrote the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone. At Mount Sinai, 3500 years ago, Almighty God made a Covenant with His people Israel, and presented them with the standards which became the foundations for all law in Western civilisation.

A Biblical exploration
‘In Search of the Mountain of God’ is the gripping true story of the adventures of explorers on a quest to find the real Mount Sinai. Inspired by American astronaut Jim Irwin and satellite photographs, former police investigator and SWAT team member, Robert Cornuke of Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration Institute (BASE) and Larry Williams headed off to Saudi Arabia to find the evidence.

Why search Saudi Arabia?
Why would anyone look for Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia? Most modern maps in Bible dictionaries and commentaries identify a location in the Sinai Peninsula. If one looks closer at most of those maps though, you will see some question marks. There are actually eight mountain peaks which have been proposed as the site of the real Mount Sinai. The peak at St. Catherine’s Monastery is the most popular, but it is not based on any archaeological research, but rather the vision of a mystic.

However, the Bible clearly states that Mount Sinai is in Arabia (Gal 4:25). Therefore the BASE explorers were determined to search for it in Saudi Arabia.

They had reports from David Fasold, and Ron Wyatt who claimed to have scouted Jabal al-Lawz, which bore all the distinctive marks of the real Mount Sinai. Unfortunately, Fasold was arrested by Saudi police and spent a terrifying week in jail being charged by the king’s prosecutor with “robbing Saudi Arabia of its wealth from antiquity.” He was stripped of all his film, video footage, notes and other evidence that he had accumulated to authenticate his find. In 1984, Ron Wyatt and his sons had been detained and interrogated for 75 days after exploring Jabal al-Lawz. Fasold and Wyatt had written to Jim Irwin of the High Flight Foundation in the hope that an astronaut of Irwin’s stature might be able to gain official clearance to mount an exploration of the peak. Jabal al-Lawz was situated in the middle of a Saudi military reservation, fenced in by chain link and barbed wire fence.

Forbidden territory
It was to reach this forbidden, politically explosive archaeological site that galvanised Robert and Larry to embark on their mission to Saudi Arabia. They were well aware that Saudi Arabia is one of the most politically oppressive nations on earth. Not one church, not even a synagogue, is allowed in all of Saudi Arabia. Women are not allowed to drive cars in Saudi Arabia. Religious police enforce stringent dress codes. Missionary work is illegal. People have even been imprisoned for mispronouncing the name of their prophet, Muhammad.

A story of drama and adventure
This discovery is a dramatic story of how the explorers conspired to enter the country and launch across an ocean of fire-baked wilderness, crossing rocky crags and scaling the eight thousand foot Jabal al-Lawz, which the locals called Jebel Musa (or the Mountain of Moses). The summit of Jabal al-Lawz was found to be scorched black. The dirt and rock were burnt black and shiny, like melted black plastic. Clearly something unnatural and intensely hot had incinerated the mountain top.

Assuming the mountain to be volcanic, Cornuke broke one rock in half, revealing an inner core of plain brown granite. What kind of heat could have melted the surface rock to a black marble glaze and leave the underlying granite intact? They opened their Bible to Exodus 19:18-19: “Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire.

The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently.” Exodus 24:17 states that the Glory of the Lord was “like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.”

The altar
Etched on the altar were distinct shapes of cows and bulls resembling the Egyptian Hathor and Apis bull gods. Cattle have never been a domesticated livestock in Saudi Arabia, which raises the question: Why would cattle be memorialised in stone unless they were driven there by the Israelites?

The cave of Elijah
“He (Elijah) travelled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the Mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.” Just below the summit of Jabal al-Lawz sits a sizable cave – the cave of Elijah? – large enough for a man to stand up inside. There is no cave on the traditional Mount Sinai in the Sinai Peninsula, as Scripture describes. Note the large, sprawling plain at the base of the mountain that would have provided an ample camp site for the Hebrew multitude.

The rock of Horeb
On the slope of Jabal al-Lawz stood a towering pillar of rock, split laser fine straight down the middle, approximately 20 inches wide from top to bottom. Was this the rock split at Horeb? Exodus 17:5-6 “Take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go, I will stand there before you, by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” The explorers saw massive water erosion at the base of the split rock. These water-polished boulders lie in the natural streambed that runs down from the split rock, an ancient watershed furnishing clear evidence of a fast rushing stream into a lake large enough to provide water for millions in the desert. “He brought streams out of the rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers … when he struck the rock, water gushed out and streams flowed abundantly.”

The stone pillars
Moses set up 12 stone pillars representing the 12 tribes of Israel strewn near the V-shaped altar, toppled over and broken in sections, lay the hewn stumps of stone pillars. Cornuke counted them and found twelve stumps – perhaps the remains of the pillars of Moses erected to represent the 12 tribes of Israel? It was the sum of evidence located above the mountain that spoke to the authenticity as the real Mount Sinai.

The boundary markers
God ordered Moses to “put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, “Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it.‘“ Exodus 19:12

As per the picture left, one can see  sun bleached pillars. Around Jabal al-Lawz they saw piles of sun bleached rocks arranged at 400 yard intervals in a perfect semi-circle. They believed that the orderly arranged rocks were the sacred markers which God ordered Moses to put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them to be careful not to go up the mountain, or touch the foot of it. Were the orderly arranged rocks the works of Moses’ own hands?

The bitter waters of Marah
Scattered throughout the oasis were a network of primitive cisterns – exactly 12, as Scripture describes. Lined with cement to prevent seepage, the springs contained the sweetest-tasting water Cornuke had ever tasted, leading the duo to believe they had stumbled across Elim’s palm-shaded rest stop. Was this where Moses and his parched countrymen found rest and refreshments?

Geographical evidence
Not far from the oasis lay the town of Al-Bad where the locals insist that the prophet Moses once pitched his tents. 35 kilometres east of the straits of Tiran, three days walking inland from the Red Sea crossing side, they saw a vast alkaline mud flat, pocked with bitter springs.

The Scripture relates: “For three days they travelled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter.” Exodus 15:22-23

Another historical site
On the trail to Jabal al-Lawz the explorers also discovered an oasis, which closely matched the Biblical description of the 12 springs and 70 palm trees where the children of Israel had camped (Exodus 15:27).

The springs and palms
“Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water” Exo 15:27. Had the duo stumbled across the seventy palms of Elim? On the trail to Jabal al-Lawz, precisely where the Bible suggests  it should be, is a true oasis in the middle of the desert. Cornuke enjoyed the shade the grove had to offer, which closely resembled the Scriptural descriptions.

The Red Sea Crossing
“Was it not You who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made a road in the depths of the sea so that the redeemed might cross over?”

The mysterious underwater reef as seen above, is the physical embodiment for the “road in the depths” described in Isaiah 51:10. Believed by the authors to be actual Red Sea crossing spot, the sliver of ghost-white reef is strategically placed land mass that might have allowed Hebrew multitudes to cross the depths abyss of the Gulf of Aqaba.

The path through the Red Sea
The reef also reveals the mysterious underwater land bridge which the children of Israel would have crossed the Red Sea over. “Your path led through the sea, Your way through the mighty waters, though Your footprints were not seen.” Psalm 77:19

A 500 metre wide coral reef, invisible on the surface, yet spanning the entire strait like a stealth aircraft carrier was evidently the “road in the depths”. “Was it not You who dried up the sea, the waters of the deep, who made a road in the depths of the sea, so that the redeemed may cross over.” Isaiah 51:10

The Scriptures clearly state that the Israelites went out of Egypt. As Sinai was in Egypt, the straits of Tiran were clearly the crossing point as their discovery of the springs of Marah and Elim (Al-Bad) on the road to Jabal al-Lawz clearly proved.

“By the blast of Your nostrils the waters piled up. The surging waters stood firm like a wall; the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.” Exodus 15:8

The waters in the straits reach up to 700 feet and some parts of the Red Sea have great cliffs dropping off to depths of up to 3000 feet. However, at the straits of Tiran, the underwater land bridge is impeccably positioned at one of the shallowest points on the gulf, showing how: “the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” Exodus 14:22

As the Scripture reports that the entire nation of Israel crossed the expanse by the “last watch of the night” Exodus 14:24, it would indicate that the total walking time was not much more than five to six hours. Only at the straits of Tiran would such a quick night-time crossing been possible. The distance from shore to shore along both branches of the Sea averages from ten to twenty miles, however at the straits of Tiran the distance is no more than two miles. God providently provided a walking bridge at the only point on the gulf where a multitude could cross, in a single night, on dry ground, with the wind making a wall of water on both sides.

This astonishing convergence of geological and oceanographic anomalies exist at just the right place to confirm the Biblical record and to provide an escape for the children of Israel from the Sinai Peninsula 3500 years ago. The hidden reef, which satellite photographs confirm is the only one across the Red Sea, becomes a giant compass arrow pointing due East to the Arabian side of the Gulf, the land of Midian and the real Mount Sinai.

Confirmation of God’s Word
These archaeological discoveries eloquently confirm the authenticity of God’s Word, providing a new energy to Biblical Apologetics over the most momentous event of the Old Covenant. With the exception of the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, more public miracles of God’s mighty hand took place in the Exodus and at Mount Sinai than at any other place, or time, in history.

Spreading the Word
“Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of a fire, as you have, and lived?… To take for Himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by miraculous signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm…by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; beside Him there is no other…He brought you out of Egypt by His presence and His great strength…” Deut 4:32-39

Your church, home Bible study group and school need to see this DVD, ‘In Search of the Mountain of God’. It will inspire and empower their witness. It also gives the whole exciting story of the dangerous explorations, arrest and interrogations in a Saudi jail, and all the intrigue involved in investigating these ancient sites.

The Blended Family: Dealing With Stepmother Negativity

The Blended Family: Dealing With Stepmother Negativity
It is a sad but sobering fact that the divorce rate for second marriages in most countries is at least 10% higher than in first marriages. At first glance we would consider this surprising, as after all, we should know exactly how to handle the second marriage with all the experience gained from the first marriage – shouldn’t we? So what is going wrong? It is often said that first marriages stay together because of the children, but second marriages part because of the children. Blended families have unique issues especially in the areas of:
a) Maternal (Stepmother) negativity toward stepchildren
b) Discipline – children from different homes disciplined differently
c) Parental conflict (especially with ex-spouses)
d) The crisis of identity that a child faces when moved from one home to another.

Different value systems
Maternal negativity regarding step-children is a well documented cause of conflict within the new marriage. A new wife comes into this marriage with the expectation that she is going to be number one in her husband’s eyes for all time. What she tends to overlook, is the fact that he has children and that these children were first in his life before he met her. When the children do not have primary residence with their father then he is only able to see them (if he is lucky) perhaps once a week.

This in itself creates a problem for the dad as the last thing he wants to do is to alienate his children in any way from his love for them. When children come into the household of the step mother she (without realising it), lays down expectations of these children in her home. What is not factored into the equation is the fact that the children have different roles in their resident family.

Maybe they come from a setting where value systems are contrary to that of the family of the step-mom and dad. They are perhaps allowed to put their feet on the couch and eat chips whilst watching TV, whereas the expectation from the step-mom is completely different – no feet on the couch and eating chips only in the kitchen!

These children are caught in the middle of these expectations and sometimes they experience huge trauma which manifests itself in bad behaviour or, in a worst case scenario, the desire from the kids not to visit their dad/mom anymore.

Basic rules to adhere to
Laura Petherbridge in her book ‘The Smart Step Mom’ gives some basic rules that stepmothers need to adhere to, to help bring peace and harmony into the home rather than alienation. A Stepmother:

Doesn’t pretend that a second marriage is the same as a first, and she doesn’t expect everyone to be happy
Acknowledges that it’s normal to love stepchildren differently than biological kids
Takes time to understand children who are coping with loss and loyalty conflicts. Her goal is to ease grief whenever possible rather than create more chaos
Recognises that children often feel disloyal to the biological mom if they treat their step-mom kindly
Doesn’t step hastily into her husband’s parenting role, even when he refuses to
Respectfully discusses issues about the children privately with her husband
Is prepared. She isn’t naïve or ambushed by complex stepfamily issues and is flexible to cope with matters that she didn’t see coming
Has a strong support system with other women who share her values
Tries to be at peace with the biological mom and asks God to help her see things from the biological mom’s viewpoint
Does not try to become a replacement mother to children who already have one, nor does she insist that the children call her mom
Acknowledges that she may not see the fruit of her sacrifices until the children become adults
Resists the negative label associated with being a stepmother
Believes her value is determined by the price Jesus paid for her and that she is precious in God’s eyes. This awareness offers her enduring peace, even in challenging times.

Do not be discouraged
If you are a stepmother you must not become discouraged if you feel that you have not been able to identify and maintain the rules given above. We constantly learn from others who have navigated the map before. How wonderful it is to know that we have a Saviour who has died for us that we might experience His strength and counsel when we so deeply need it.

On a personal note: I used to call myself WSM pronounced ‘wissoom’ for ‘wicked step mom’, but from that I found that it was possible to graduate to ‘wonderful step mom’! It will not be easy at times but, thanks to God’s leading and a good sense of humour a good blend is possible.

Home Schooling: A Viable Education Choice

Home Schooling: A Viable Education Choice
When one mentioned the word ‘home-schooling’ in the past, images of Amish-type families with bad teeth instrantly sprung to mind. Nowadays though, home-schooling has grown in popularity and is a common choice amongst Christian parents. We spoke to Graham Shortridge, the head of TCE South Africa to find out more.

Why is home-schooling suddenly so popular?
It is true that there are problems in some schools, but this is not the only reason that home-schooling has grown of late. One-on-one tuition is a far better way of monitoring a child’s progress. Problem areas can be detected very quickly and attended to, provided that a good curriculum with a proper monitoring (testing) system is used. Furthermore, many parents want a better education system for their children, based on the idea that God should be a part of every area of our lives – including education.

What is the benefit of home schooling my child versus a private schooled education? 
Individualised attention is the best way to impart knowledge from one person to another. This is most possible at home, as even in a private school the attention cannot be individualised. The cost factor is also huge as with home-schooling there are no monthly school fees, uniforms and of course transport. Many parents are anxious about the worldview being taught in schools and want to be able to impart a Biblical worldview to their child.

If both parents work, is home-schooling still an option? 
With a good curriculum in hand, a parent generally makes the best teacher, so it is far better if a parent teaches the child, but as this is not always possible a tutor can be used. Some home schooling families share the workload with one or two other families. As long as this is kept small, it works well. The best home-schooling curriculums do require a tutor of some kind. At this stage of a child’s education, they still need to be guided and helped by an adult. 

Home-schooled kids are often seen as ‘nerds’ or ‘socially inept’. What is your experience of how home-schooled kids fare in life?
According to studies home-schooled children are better socialised than their conventionally-schooled counterparts In the classroom children are all about the same age, whereas at home children have to interact with people of many different ages. 

Home-schooled children are usually involved in all kinds of extramural activities which involve other children. Furthermore, at home a child is not rejected or mocked because of some real or imagined ‘flaw’ – thus his self-confidence is allowed to grow, making him better able to relate to others.

Can one enter university/tertiary education with home-schooling qualifications? 
Not all home-schooling systems in South Africa offer this option, and in fact only take the child as far as Grade 9 in most cases. However, TCE will take your child right to matriculation age and beyond, and as our pupils can obtain a Cambridge A-Level that is internationally recognised, they have no trouble entering university.  It is very important to check that your home-school curriculum will be recognised by tertiary education centres.

Tell us about TCE  
Theocentric Christian Education was created out of a need for a Christian-based God-centred education with a South African flavour while using the best of American books. The TCE curriculum guides the parent through the work step-by-step so that they are able to teach their child to the best of their ability. The academic standard is one of the best in South Africa and recent research conducted showed that this is one of the key reasons why people choose to use the system. The programme is fully structured from Grade 0 up to Cambridge A-Level. We provide all the material needed per year including text books, in-depth work books and teacher’s guides, and we have continuous assessments.

Exams are provided twice a year from Grade Four up, so the parents know exactly how their child is developing. Academic achievement is rewarded with six-monthly report cards, and allows children to develop and grow at their own natural pace, with some guidance, of course. 

We are situated in Cape Town, but have customers all over the world who love the system and find the rich content to be the best to keep them connected to their roots.  We have a helpline for parents and/or pupils on working days and never turn a question away. Our founders are very hands-on, constantly updating the curriculum, and taking phone calls to help mothers who just need someone to talk to and relay their challenges and concerns to.