The Lost Discipline of Fasting

According to the Words of Jesus, it is the duty of every disciple, every believer, to fast. When addressing the Pharisees as to why His disciples did not fast, Jesus replied, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days.” Luke 5:34-35.

Fasting is expected of believers
In the Beatitudes, and notably in Matthew 6, Jesus provided the pattern by which each of us is to live as a child of God. That pattern specifically addressed three duties of a Christian: Giving, Praying and Fasting. Jesus said, “When you give”… “And when you pray”…“And when you fast.” He made it clear that fasting, like giving and praying, was a normal part of Christian life. As much attention should be given to fasting as is given to giving and to praying.
Have you lost the edge in your spiritual life?
Could we be missing our greatest breakthroughs because we fail to fast? Has your passion for the Lord waned from when you were first born-again?  Does it feel as if you have lost steam since the last conference or revival meeting you attended? Has “life” begun to wear you down to the point that serving the Lord has become just one more appointment to keep on the weekly calendar, falling somewhere between work, meals, and getting the kids to school?
Have you grown weary of the same old routine at work? Do you find yourself flaring up in your relationships with family and friends more readily? More to the point, have you simply grown dull?  Every believer loses the edge in his or her life from time to time. Trudging on in our own strength through our daily routines can make us increasingly dull, ineffective, and even dangerous. Individuals, ministries, and entire churches can lose the edge. You regain the edge in your life in much the same way that you regain the edge on an ax – by stopping what you are doing and carefully applying the right tools – such as prayer and fasting.

Sharpening your ax
Declaring a spiritual fast is a means of interrupting the dulling effects of life’s routines. Fasting is taking time to refocus, preparing the way for you to accomplish so much more through the power of the Holy Spirit than you could accomplish through your own limited strength. Fasting, prayer, and time reading God’s Word work together just like the woodsman’s tools used to sharpen an ax.

Take control
Your stomach has been in charge since the Garden of Eden. The Bible records, “The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.
The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”

Giving into fleshly temptation
Seems straightforward enough, right? But the serpent was cunning, and convinced Eve she should eat from the forbidden tree, assuring her that she would not die. “So when she saw that the tree was good for food…she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” With that one meal, Adam and Eve immediately went from peacefully enjoying God’s presence in the cool of the garden to fearfully hiding from His presence among the trees of the garden (see Genesis 2 and 3).

Suffering the consequences
They literally ate themselves out of house and home. Their stomachs were temporarily satisfied, but by eating the fruit of ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ they literally ate themselves out of the will of God for their lives – out of God’s provision and plan…and out of His magnificent presence. And we still suffer the consequences of their appetites today.
Develop a lifestyle of prayer and fasting. Fasting is a choice
I chose to develop a lifestyle of prayer and fasting over twenty-five years ago, and I do not know of anything that has been more powerful in my Christian life. I am convinced that fasting is a gateway through which God releases His supernatural power into our lives. The choice is ours: we can either open that gateway or ignore it and keep on going in our routines.
Fasting is a short season that releases long-term rewards. It is like taking the time to sharpen your ax before cutting down a tree. The problem for so many people and churches today is dull axes. People have lost the edge in their lives, their homes, their marriages, and their commitment to the Lord.
Week after week we may stand in church singing the songs and lifting our hands, but there is no edge to our worship. There is no edge to the preaching. It has become just dull routine and ritual.

Let crisis drive you to your knees
Let the crisis drive you to your knees in a season of prayer and fasting. Go back to the place where the edge was lost. Was it through sin that you lost your passion for God and need to confess this? Go back to that place and get it under the Blood of Jesus. The altar is not just for those coming to the Lord for the first time.
The altar is a place to get free from that thing that weighs you down and drowns out your fiery passion for God. Alterations are made at the altar. We alter the direction we have been walking by coming under God’s direction.

Jesus fasted, so should we
Once you make that decision to fast, even if it’s just for a day, God sees the desire of your heart. He will provide you with the grace to endure and see the breakthroughs you need come to pass. We only have one life to give to God; let’s get control of our bodies and go for God with the best we have!
Immediately following His baptism, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert on a forty-day fast. If the Son of God fasted, and He is our example, I cannot say often enough how crucial the discipline of fasting and prayer must be to the Christian life.
On one of my first trips to Israel I had the opportunity to record a message while standing in front of a vast stretch of wilderness .
Though I was only at that location for a little while, I thought about how brutal the conditions in that land must have been. It is a place of extremes, very dry and hot during the day but cold at night.

We are not called to comfort
Most of us want our walk with God to be mild and comfortable. Be careful: the alternative to the extremes is lukewarm, and Jesus is not a fan of lukewarm. There is a place of power and anointing that we can never experience without being led into the wilderness, coming away from everyone and everything else to seek God in fasting and prayer. 
I want to encourage you that it is time to stop striving in your own strength and press in to see what He has for you in the wilderness. Jesus fasted and was victorious over the temptations of the devil at the end of that gruelling wilderness fast. Luke tells us that after the fast, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region” Luke 4:14.

Are you willing?
The world needs a people of God who walk in the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit that pulls down strongholds and sets the captives free! But there are no “people of God” without there first being a  willing “person of God.” If you are tired of dull church, if you are tired of a cold, dry, barren relationship with Jesus, it is time to regain the edge. It is time to start a spiritual fast.
The Bible declares that “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way” Ps 37:23. I believe God is going to establish who He is in your life again, afresh and anew. The victory that Jesus won against the devil when He fasted forty days established a pattern for you and me to follow. Fasting is not a requirement. Fasting is a choice. Whenever a believer chooses to begin a spiritual fast for one day or for several days, he or she makes a choice to break out of the routine in order to draw closer to God.

Cleanse your spirit and body
Sometimes when you are on a fast you cannot help but think about what you will eat when the fast is over. It may be a short fast or a longer one, but I have learned how vital that season can be. Apart from the spiritual breakthrough, a Biblical fast also offers many physical health benefits.
It gives the body an opportunity to cleanse itself of toxins, to become renewed and restored. Many medical doctors support the healing benefits of a fast. But remember, fasting without prayer is simply a diet.

Fasting cleans out the trash
If you have lost your edge because of sin, it is time to get alone with God. Fasting and prayer can help you sever addictions to tobacco, drugs, alcohol, pornography. Fasting and prayer help you cut out the double life, the secret sins that you believe are hidden from everyone else – but are not hidden from God. Sin will clog the pipeline of all future blessings. Fasting makes you sensitive to the “trash” that tries to invade your life. Fasting doesn’t just pertain to what you put in your stomach, but what you feed your soul and spirit as well.
The Bible says, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” 1 Cor 6:19–20.

Start slowly and you will build up to longer periods of fasting
Just as fasting cleanses your physical body of trash – it cleanses you spiritually as well. Peter warned, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” 1 Pet 5:8.
Once you have succeeded at your first one-day fast, the prospect of a three-day fast becomes far less daunting because your confidence level is higher. Before long, completing a three-day fast gives you confidence to endure longer fasts as God leads.
Remember, fasting is not a requirement – it is a choice. Fasting does not guarantee your salvation. Fasting does not make you better than anyone else, nor does it make you some kind of religious freak. Choosing to fast is choosing to come away from the routine and wait upon the Lord with greater intensity, seeking His face and His presence in a deeper way.  The anointing of God is precious and should not be handled as a light thing. Seasons of fasting and prayer help you get your sensitivity back to the things of God.

Make up your mind to fast
Time spent in fasting and prayer builds confidence and helps you develop the determination necessary to run your race with endurance. Don’t delay, make up your mind to fast and then do it! 

Is a Man a Spiritual Hominid?

When Christians try to reconcile the Bible with evolution and its billions of years of deep time, they usually propose something along the following lines: A population of creatures called ‘hominids’ came into existence by means of evolution. In their final form, these creatures were identical to humans, except that they did not have spirits. But then God implanted spirits – either into just two of them (Adam and Eve), or into many – and we are the descendents of those ‘upgraded hominids’.
This bizarre scenario contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture1 and the real facts of science.2 In this article, however, I will confine myself to pointing out just two flaws in the theory.
First, the abilities and faculties of the human body and mind are vastly superior to those needed for survival and reproduction. For that reason (as well as many other reasons) their existence cannot be accounted for by evolution.3
Second, the abilities and faculties of the human body and mind are so clearly designed for a spiritual purpose, that their supposed existence without the spirit (for hundreds of thousands of years in various hominids) makes very little sense.
Here are some of the special abilities and faculties of the human body and mind:

1. The body
Upright posture: Unlike the apes, and all other mammals, man has a fully upright posture.4 This is completely unnecessary for survival and reproduction; but it is, I suggest, very appropriate for a being who was “made in the image of God”, and was given dominion over the whole world. First, it allows him to make full use of his hands in special ways (see below). And second, it confers on him a unique kind of dignity.

2. The hands, face and language
The human hand is unique in creation. Prof. Stuart Burgess writes, “The human hand is one of the most precise and wonderful mechanical devices in creation and vastly more impressive than any mechanical device that man has made”.5 About a quarter of the entire motor cortex in the human brain is devoted to controlling the muscles of the hand.
(The motor cortex is the part of the brain responsible for the movement of voluntary muscles). Human hands can, for example, build telescopes and microscopes to explore God’s creation, and they can construct and play musical instruments – producing the most beautiful music, and playing with incredible dexterity and virtuosity. The abilities of the human hand seem to be vastly greater than those needed for survival and reproduction;6 but they are entirely appropriate for a being who is “made in the image of God”.
The face: Humans have an amazing and unique ability to make many types of intricate facial expression. There are about 40 named muscles in the human face and they can move every part of the face with precision. No other creature can do this, and it is completely unnecessary for survival and reproduction.
 But again, it is highly appropriate for a being of man’s mental and spiritual status. Another special feature of the human face is the fact that the whites of the eyes are visible. This feature greatly enhances the ability of humans to produce different kinds of facial expressions, and to interact emotionally with other humans.
Language: Human speech is unique and enormously complex.7 The language of a hunter-gatherer living in the jungle is just as complex as yours and mine – often more so. It depends on unique features of the human body’s anatomy and the human brain. Again, this faculty is unnecessary for survival and reproduction (animals manage perfectly well without it), but it is highly appropriate for a being of man’s mental and spiritual status.

3. The brain
It is said that the human brain is the most complex structure in the universe, but that is an understatement! It is stupendous and mind-boggling in its complexity.8 On a purely physical level, it contains about 100 billion neurons (brain cells, each of which is stupendously and mind-bogglingly complex), with about 100 trillion connections. We have only the vaguest notions as to how it works. We are in the territory of both the body and the mind here. Again, the abilities and faculties of man’s brain are way beyond anything required for survival and reproduction, but they are entirely appropriate for someone who is “made in the image of God.”

4. The mind, will, emotions
I believe that the human soul (which I am calling ‘the mind’ in this article) is the seat of reason, will and emotion. These faculties are vastly superior to anything found in animals. They (the human faculties) are not at all necessary for survival and reproduction – which is one of many reasons why they cannot be accounted for by evolution – but as far as man’s spiritual status is concerned, they are a vital part of his makeup.
Reason: Man is a rational being who can deal with abstract ideas and concepts. He can explore and understand the physical universe because he is a rational being, and the universe was created by a rational God. In fact, modern science began and flourished in Europe because Christians believed this.9 The ability to speak, and to express abstract thoughts and ideas, is unique to the human race, and is part of his rational nature. Man’s faculty of reason is far above anything possessed by the animals, which operate mainly by instinct (Some animals do seem to have a very limited capacity for reason). This is one reason why man was given dominion over all other creatures. The fact that man is a rational being is part of what it means to be “made in the image of God” Gen 1:27.
Will: The human will, with its ability to choose between right and wrong, is again far above anything possessed by animals. This also reflects the nature of God, and is part of what it means to be “made in the image of God.”
Emotion: Human beings experience a tremendous range of emotions, way beyond anything experienced by animals. The appreciation of beauty (including music) is one such emotion, apparently unique to the human race. This faculty also reflects the nature of God, and is part of what it means to be “made in the image of God”.

We reflect the nature of God
All these faculties of the human mind reflect the nature of God. However, God is spirit (John 4:24), and without a spirit, man would not be able to have a real relationship with God and be fully “made in the image of God”. The idea that there was a time when man’s ancestors possessed these unique faculties of the mind, but did not have a spirit, makes very little sense.
Some theistic evolutionists may counter this by claiming that spiritless hominids did not possess human reason, will and emotion – because these are faculties of the spirit, not the mind. If that were true, it would mean that for millions of years, hominids developed abilities and faculties of the body (including the brain) which were appropriate for highly intelligent, spiritual beings, and totally inappropriate for brute beasts. And yet their minds remained those of brute beasts! This also makes very little sense, and is equally unscriptural, if not more so. In fact, there is clear evidence that at least some so-called ‘hominids’ did have the faculties of human reason, will and emotion. There is also evidence (in the form of ritual burials) of belief in an afterlife – which is evidence of spirituality. For example, there is evidence that the Neanderthals had the faculty of speech, buried their dead ritualistically, played music, were artistic, made tools and used fire.10
 In other words, they were fully human. The fact is there never were any hominids, in the sense of non-human ‘ape-men’ ancestral to humans. This conclusion is supported by the fossil evidence when it is studied in an open-minded way, without preconceived naturalistic assumptions.11

Why does God not stop all the suffering?

A child is born blind, deformed or mentally afflicted and the question comes: Why? The child has done no harm. A man or woman of fine character and in the prime of their life is racked with pain in a hopeless disease that can only end in death. Why him? Why her? These are the people who can at least be spared.
Millions in the world are suffering semi-starvation and disease in countries with vast populations and poor fertility. Others perish or are made homeless in floods and earthquakes. Why should they suffer?
Pain, torture and death have been imposed on helpless millions by the tyranny of man and the destructiveness of modern war. Countless lives are lost in acts of terrorism, by brutality and hijacking. Accidents have always been commonplace, but the scale of today’s disasters and natural calamities is often overwhelming: a passenger aircraft crashes; an oil rig blows up; fire traps hundreds in an underground train. People ask: Why does God allow it?

What is the cause?
The questions readily rise to mind and on the surface seem reasonable, yet a candid look at them shows that they carry certain implications. They imply that suffering in human life is inconsistent either with the power or with the love of God: that as a God of love either He has not the power to prevent the suffering, or if He has the power then He has not the will, and is not a God of love. It is assumed that the prevention of suffering of the apparently innocent, is something we should expect from a God of love who is also Almighty. Are these assumptions justified?

Facts of life
Some facts about life must be taken into account before we try to form a judgement:
1. Man lives in a universe of cause and effect and the consequences of certain choices are inescapable. Fire burns, water drowns, viruses destroy. These facts have moral implications. Men live in a universe in which the consequences of what they do are inescapable, and therefore their responsibility for what they do is equally inescapable. Without this burden of ‘natural law’ man could do as he liked with impunity, and there would be no responsibility. God made the universe this way because He is a moral God who makes men responsible beings with freewill to choose how they will act
2. Man’s neglect and misuse of his own life has corrupted the stream of human life itself, and left evils which fall on succeeding generations. These, again as part of natural law, may manifest themselves as hereditary weaknesses and tendencies to disease for generations
3. The consequences of man’s acts are not only directly physical. The social and political evils which they have created throughout history have left a growing burden on the generations following. People today are caught in a net of the consequences of past history.

Saved from ourselves?
Taking such facts as these into account, it must be asked, “What is it we are really doing when we require God to remove suffering?” Are we not asking that God should (a) suspend natural law, (b) divert the consequences of heredity, and (c) turn aside the effects of man’s inhumanity to man?
Have we the right to expect God to save men from the consequences of human acts? Would it be a moral universe if He did? These questions can only be asked of situations when the hand of man is involved. Earthquakes, tempests, famines and floods are called ‘acts of God’ because usually there is no other explanation for their occurrence. So if we look beyond human acts to natural disaster, we find that it falls upon all, innocent and guilty alike.  As soon as we begin to question the suffering of innocent victims of these disasters another dilemma is raised. Are we saying that the calamities should be selective, searching out only those who deserve to suffer?

An evil or a symptom?
The Biblical view is radically different: suffering is not evil in itself, but a symptom of a deeper evil. The Scriptures portray suffering as a consequence of sin: not necessarily the sin of the individual who suffers, but sin in the history of man and in human society. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” Rom 5:12
With man’s disobedience there came a dislocation in the relationship between the Creator and the created; the relation between God and man is out of joint. Death is universal: God does not modify it for the particular individual. The Bible teaching is that men are left to their own ways and the working of natural law, though there may be times when natural disaster is divinely directed as a judgement upon man and for the cleansing of the earth. The outstanding example is the flood in the days of Noah.

A Godly man’s experience
At the same time it is true that in the Bible, for those who seek to serve God, suffering takes on new meaning: they are in a new relationship to the Creator, and will learn to see tragedy in a new light.
The answer may be seen in the example of Job. Here is a devout man who meets with disaster in the loss of his flocks and herds the source of his wealth; with terrible bereavement in the loss of all his children at one stroke; and then is stricken with a tormenting disease which separates him from men. Yet he says: “What? Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). He recognises the important principle that he cannot claim good as a right, it is not for him to decide what God shall do.
The time comes, however, when the suffering is so unbearable that death seems preferable. In agony and bewilderment he asks, in effect: Why should a man live if it is only to suffer? Can God, who has made man, destroy him like a discarded plaything?

The agonising problem
God speaks to men (a) through revelation, and (b) through suffering. God, by His own means, is communicating with men and women and bringing them to Himself (read Job 33:14-18). Suffering can, therefore, be part of the ways of God’s working with men for their own development and to bring them to a knowledge of Himself; and the outcome for Job was a new and intimate knowledge of the Lord. 
This working of God with man must in its nature be individual, only the man who suffers can gain this as a personal experience. The larger problem of suffering remains, and the only answer to be extracted from the Book of Job is that man cannot question the majesty and wisdom of God. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all life, and His works are beyond our knowledge.

Suffering is a complex issue
Only by loss and suffering could Job know that he did not serve God for the sake of houses, lands, flocks and herds, or even children. He did not even serve for the sake of his own skin, his health and wellbeing. He worshipped God for Himself, and in spite of all the wild thoughts which came from his stress of mind and body, he had an ultimate belief in God’s righteousness and faithfulness.
It was only when stripped of everything that he really knew that God was his only refuge. Job’s faith in God was put to the test under trial, and by trial it was tempered as steel. It was by his final acceptance of the wisdom of God, and by learning that faith could be developed through suffering, that Job came at last to the fuller knowledge of God.

Suffering: an expression of love?
Suffering and loss are common to man, but for the children of God they are directed by their Heavenly Father as a spiritual training, and as such are the expression of His love (Prov 3:11-12; Heb 12:9-11; Prov 20:30).
One stage more may be reached in the understanding of suffering. It is that God Himself is involved in the suffering of man, for out of His love He gave His own Son to die for them, and allowed him to suffer too. Jesus was wholly innocent, untainted by sin of any kind, yet He voluntarily laid down His life, suffering injustice and cruelty.
Greater love even God could not have than to give His beloved Son to the suffering of the cross for the redemption of man.  The God of Israel is not a remote, impassive ‘force’. His Holy Spirit can be grieved, He can be moved with yearning compassion. He can love with an everlasting love. All these are Scriptural expressions, and they reveal God as the supreme Personality who can from His holy transcendence enter into the lives of those He has created.

God gives us free will
People often ask: Why does God not intervene to stop suffering, to halt war, to prevent disease, etc.? God does, of course, intervene in human affairs, He has shown His power at many times in history. But there is a limit to this intervention: He has allowed man freewill, and He allows man to use that freewill – for good or ill. God intervened in the history of His chosen people, Israel, and gave them special opportunities to worship Him and be His witnesses. He entrusted them with His revelation and with the promises and prophecies of a coming Messiah. So it was that, nearly 2000 years ago, God intervened in the lives and history of man by giving His Son Christ Jesus to share in human suffering. Christ came in the life and nature of man. He shared our experience and endured the temptations from within and the afflictions from without that are the common lot of all mankind (Heb 2:10-18; Heb 5:8).
In accepting suffering in obedience to the Will of God, Jesus elevated it, and showed it no longer as the greatest evil but as a means to an end: for through suffering, in His perfect obedience to God, He overcame the power of sin in human nature, and so made possible resurrection from the dead to eternal life with the Father.

Perfected through suffering
Without faith in God, suffering is an evil to be endured. With faith, and the example of the Son of God, suffering may purify and ennoble, and be a means by which God brings the sufferer nearer to Himself. It can be truly a divine education, the chastening of the Lord. If God’s Son suffered, can men expect to escape? But beyond the suffering was resurrection, and beyond resurrection will come the Kingdom of God when Christ will come to reign, taking to Himself those who have already committed themselves as His followers. For those who answer the call of God’s love, the way of suffering may be the way of life, and that is the ultimate purpose of the existence of suffering in the world. The call is still going out; there is still opportunity for all who are looking for hope beyond this present evil world, to find it in the Good News of the Gospel.
Finally, we live with hope knowing that one day God will bring an end to suffering. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Rev 21:4.

Note from JOY! Magazine
To a world in pain, let us share the Gospel with others, through  words and deeds. Do not forget the hurting and the lost. Pray for them, lobby governments, speak up. Give to the poor and support ministries working into war-torn/oppressive/ disaster-stricken lands. 

Pierre Spies: Man of Faith, Family and Triumph

Spies power cleans 135kg. He dead lifts 240kg. He bench presses 165kg. Only mildly impressed? Wait, there’s more: he is able to do pull-ups with a 50kg weight between his legs. He can launch his 108kg body 1.4m onto a raised platform, sprints for 835m before slowing on a repeated sprint-ability test and has a body-fat percentage of 6.5.*
But it’s not his physical strength that makes Pierre Johan Spies (26) stand out. It’s his unwavering faith and perseverance. Having missed out on the 2007 World Cup and been on and off the field due to injuries, Pierre knows the sting of disappointment, but as a committed Christian, he also knows the faithfulness of God. His testimony is moving and I encourage you to read it (
We caught up with Pierre and his lovely wife Juanné near their house in Pretoria and got the inside scoop on their latest victory – the couple are expecting a ‘little Spiesie’ in January 2012.

Pierre, your dad was also a Springbok rugby player and sadly passed away before you became a Springbok. Who else has impacted your career?
My dad had the biggest influence on my career, he was a great motivator. There  are so many other people/teachers/coaches  who also impacted me, but far too many to name. I am grateful to all of them.

How did it feel putting on the Bok jersey for the first time?
Everything happened so quickly that I couldn’t really take it in, from the warm up to the singing of the anthem. We  lost that match, but the whole experience made me proud to represent South Africa.

You missed out on the last WC. How does it feel heading off to New Zealand now and do you have any pre-game rituals?
I am very excited (especially because I missed out on the last one due to blood clots in my lungs). I’m planning to take in as much as I can and play the best rugby possible for the Boks. I don’t have any specific rituals; on the morning of the game I read the Bible and pray. When I get to the field, I have peace, but sometimes during the match I need to pray more!
Share a story of one of the lighter moments on tour…
Last year we played golf at St. Andrews in Scotland and the morning before we left, Dick Muir (Assistant Coach) almost missed the bus. Later that day he shot a hole-in-one – can you believe it! He bought us all a round of drinks and snacks. He was so happy he made the game and we were all pretty jealous!

How do you stay pure and blameless in your walk with the Lord, especially in the face of immense pressure and temptations?
I guess you have to take one day at a time and try to stay true to yourself, your spouse and the Lord. I also believe you have to stick to the basics…

Is it difficult to be so outspoken about your faith?
You have to be yourself – and that is who I am. Sometimes life is hard; that’s when we need good friends to lead us the right way.

There is an exodus of senior players from the Bulls and talk of you being made captain. Is this something you would desire? 
It’s going to be a new era for the Bulls and it’s very exciting. If I fill the role as captain or stay a leader in the team – I’m happy!

The coaching structures/styles are different from Bulls to Springboks (at provincial and national level). Do you have to adapt your game?
There are a few changes we make; you need to adapt and learn to play as a unit as quickly as possible.

You have a powerful and very honest testimony. Do you discuss that in your new book?
Yes, I share my photos and personal stories about what God has done for me. There are also some rugby stories thrown in!

What is the first thing you will do when you get home after the World Cup?
Braai at home with friends and family!

Juanné, how did you two meet?
One of Pierre’s good friends, Rudi, introduced us to each other at the end of my matric year in 2005. We started to chat daily and then he asked me out for an ‘interview’ (getting to know each other better over a cup of coffee)! This ‘interview’ was very special because I realised that Pierre had something that I was looking for my whole life (but didn’t yet know it) – a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He invited me to church, Christian Revival Church (which we are part of to this day), and I gave my life to Christ. Our journey started then and we dated for three years before we got married. I treasure those three years because it was such an amazing time of forming and moulding my life personally and our relationship as a couple. We became best friends and fell deeply in love.

How do you handle being in the spotlight? Is there is a pressure on you as a player’s wife to look or act a certain way?
From the beginning Pierre and I decided to keep our lives as private as possible. The thing that has really helped us this far is to simplify our lives and stay true to ourselves, each other, our friends and family. As Pierre’s wife there is no pressure to look or act a certain way, he loves me completely. I think that a lot of other people think that sportsman’s wives need to be perfect and look like supermodels!
How do you cope with Pierre
being away so often?
It is never easy being away from each other and I don’t think that I will ever get used to it, but amazingly God always carries me through these times. I have plenty of time alone where God can build my character and shape me into His image. I am blessed with a good support structure and without my friends, family and church it would not be possible to cope with Pierre’s travels.

Sports players are often vulnerable to temptation, especially when they travel. Do you ever battle with trust/insecurities?
I have never questioned or doubted Pierre’s loyalty towards me though we are not sheltered from temptation and are definitely aware that it is out there. Something very important that I have learned from a friend and pastor’s wife, Andrea, is that the biggest mistake a couple or person can make is to think that you are above temptation. The devil will always try to make you insecure, but the most important thing is to know who you are in Christ and that He is above any insecurity or temptation.

Is there any woman or person who has been a mentor to you?
Our pastors At and Nyretta Boshoff have played a big role in our lives from the beginning of our Christian walk. You cannot run this race on your own and need people with the same vision to guide, direct and correct you as you go on.
Pierre is my husband and best friend, and from the time we started dating he has been and is still a great mentor to me. He knows me inside out and I trust that he will always correct and guide me in the right way, as will my friends and family.

How do you relax together?
We love eating good food at our favourite restaurants or just chilling at home, spending time together or braaing with  friends.

Do you have plans for children any time soon?
Yes! I am pregnant as we speak and the ‘little Spiesie’ will be here in the middle of January 2012. We are really looking forward to starting a family and entering this new season in our lives.

End Times

Many people are interested in eschatology in these troubled times. We were recently exposed to the misguided predictions of one Harold Camping and there is quite a bit of current speculation on what will happen in December 2012 (don’t expect me to comment on that). Consequently, there is a great need in the Church and Body of Christ to offer theological input and teaching in this area of (often confusing) Christian doctrine. However, I have learned something from early lessons in my preaching career – when I taught my congregation on Eschatology or ‘End Time Theory’ – and so I am not going to attempt to explain End Time theories in less than one thousand words!
Different aspects of Eschatology
Eschatology can be an intimidating subject. I encourage readers to get hold of good teaching material on the subjects of A-millennialism, Postmillenialism and Premillenialism as well as the pre-tribulation, post-tribulation, and mid-tribulation views of the Rapture. I would also suggest one studies the Biblical teaching on the Resurrection, Judgement and Millennium. Too often Christians have an End Time worldview framed by popular Christian fiction, Hollywood movies and flawed teaching. Consulting an accredited Bible school or sound theological reference books on the topic will be most prudent.

Division amongst Christians                          
That being said, End Time beliefs have often caused major rifts in Christian circles, but needn’t bring about such division. Irrespective of what your doctrine of the End Times is, or what interpretive scheme you have been taught, one thing is clear: in the end we will all stand before Jesus. He is both the beginning and the end (Revelation 22:13), He is the first and the last, and the focal point of eschatology.

Major Theological positions
It is impossible to cover all the theological positions in depth, but essentially: there are diverse opinions concerning the thousand years of peace (Millennium) described in Revelation and the events associated with it. Some interpret a literal, future, thousand-year time period in which Christ will rule over the Earth, a time which will be characterised by peace and harmony. Others understand a literal age of peace, but think the “thousand years” is a figure of speech. Still others see the Millennium as symbolic of a spiritual ideal, with no corresponding earthly condition.
All of these positions fall into the category of Millennialism, a broad term which includes any and all ideas relating to the Millennium of Biblical prophecy. The most commonly held viewpoints are usually categorised as follows:

A. Premillennialism
Standard premillenialism posits that Christ’s
Second Coming will inaugurate a literal thousand-year earthly kingdom. Christ’s return will coincide with a time of great tribulation. At this time, there will be a resurrection of the people of God who have passed away, and a rapture of the people of God who are still living. A thousand years of peace will follow, during which Christ will reign and satan will be imprisoned in the Abyss. Those who hold to this view usually fall into one of the following three categories:

1. Pre-tribulation Rapture
Pretribulationists believe that the Second Coming will be in two stages separated by a seven-year period of tribulation. At the beginning of the tribulation, true Christians will rise to meet the Lord in the air (the Rapture). Then follows a seven-year period of suffering in which the Antichrist will conquer the world and persecute those who refuse to worship him. During this period Jewish believers will take the place of the now absent church and re-instate the Old Testament sacrificial system in a rebuilt Jerusalem temple.
At the end of this period, Christ returns to defeat the Antichrist and establish the age of peace. This position is supported by Scripture such as, “God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1 Thess 5:9.
2. Mid-tribulation Rapture
Midtribulationists believe that the Rapture will take place at the halfway point of the seven-year tribulation, i.e. after 3½ years.
It coincides with the “abomination of desolation” – a desecration of the temple where the Antichrist puts an end to the Jewish sacrifices, sets up his own image in the temple, and demands that he be worshiped as God. This event begins the second, most intense part of the tribulation.
Some interpreters find support for the “midtrib” position by comparing a passage in Paul’s epistles with the book of Revelation. Paul says, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” 1 Cor 15:51-52. Those who hold this position on the Rapture believe that Revelation divides the great tribulation into three sets of increasingly catastrophic judgements: the Seven Seals, the Seven Trumpets, and the Seven Bowls, in that order. If the “last trumpet” of Paul is equated with the last trumpet of Revelation, the Rapture would be in the middle of the Tribulation. (However not all interpreters agree with this literal interpretation of the chronology of Revelation).
3. Post-tribulation Rapture
Posttribulationists hold that Christ will not return until the end of the tribulation. Christians, rather than being raptured at the beginning of the tribulation, or halfway through, will live through it and suffer for their faith during the ascendancy of the Antichrist. Proponents of this position believe that the presence of believers during the tribulation is necessary for a final evangelistic effort during a time when external conditions will combine with the Gospel message to bring great numbers of converts into the Church in time for the beginning of the Millennium.

B. Postmillennialism
Postmillennialists do not believe in a premillennial appearance of Christ. The postmillennial position is that the millennium began at the inauguration of Christ’s Kingdom reign when He ascended to His Heavenly throne and happens, not as a result of the coming of Christ, but as the global population converts to Christianity as a result of evangelisation. The age of peace is still a progressing work of divine grace, but without the visible presence of Christ to take the place of an earthly ruler. Christ will appear at the end of the millennium (the Second Coming) to lead His people into the Heavenly city, the New Jerusalem (ie. there is no rapture as the Bible does not teach this. There is only a  Second Coming, when Jesus returns).

C. A-Millennialism
A-Millennialists do not believe in a literal Millennium. The “thousand years” is an expression, a way of referring to the entire period from the first coming of Christ, two thousand years ago, until the future Second Coming. Many amillennialists believe that during this time period, the Church will continue to evangelise and grow as well as suffer decline in periods until Christ’s coming.

The judgement of believers
There are many Scriptures concerning Christ’s judgement of the saved and the unsaved but our focus is so often on the texts that have to do with what will happen to those who don’t know Jesus. I want to shift the focus for a moment to the judgement of believers, for Romans 14:10-12 states that we will all stand before God’s judgement seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before Me; every tongue will confess to God.’ So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

A time to look forward to
The question is, “what will the judgement of believers be for?” There is ample evidence in Scripture that if we have been born-again of the Spirit into a relationship with Jesus then we have the assurance of eternal life with Him (Here are just three: Rom 8:16, Heb 6:18 and 2 Tim 1:12). So, if the final judgement of believers is not to decide who may enter Heaven, then what is it for?
Paul writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day  –  and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.” 2 Tim 4:7-8.
What a wonderful thought! When we have finished our lives on earth we can enter eternity with the knowledge that it has all been worth it. Between this world and the next there is a judgement but, for the believer, it is the judicial determination of reward, not of penalty.

Spread the Gospel of salvation, hope and peace
The one who will judge us is the same one who said, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned…” John 3:17-18. Those who have believed in Jesus for salvation will stand before Him. He who shed His Blood for us will evaluate our lives and reward us accordingly (2 Cor 5:10). This gives me great comfort and hope.
Yes, the world is getting more and more chaotic by the month. Yes, there is a sense of an approaching apocalypse. And yes, we will all stand before the judgement seat of Christ. But the good news is that it is Jesus who judges. 


Dear Friend,

Jeremiah 8 v 21 – 22 reads as follows:

“For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt.  I am mourning; astonishment has taken hold of me.  Is there no balm in Gilead, is there no physician there?  Why then is there no recovery for the health of the daughter of my people?”

This passage forms part of a heartfelt lament by the prophet Jeremiah for the nation of Judah.  It is an exquisite picture of a servant of God who has adopted the heart of the Father.  The nation of Judah was corrupt and sinful, they had turned their backs on God and bowed before pagan idols.  In the modern age, when Christians fall short and backslide, they are so often ostracised by their brethren, judged for their faults and deemed unworthy.  This is not the heart of God.  Failings and flaws do not repel God.  Instead, they draw Him to the one who is weak and downtrodden. 

Do enjoy the testimony below.  Healed the moment she entered the crusade venue, the story of Patricia is one that plainly declares the eagerness of God to turn our mourning into dancing, and to transform our bondages into glorious freedom!

Yours in Christ,

Tamryn Klintworth


Patricia Nklabatu was ecstatic.  “I am so happy,” she shouted, “This is the best day of my life!”  A resident of Diepsloot, Patricia praised and exalted the Lord as she celebrated her healing.

For three years, Patricia had a chronic kidney infection that left her hopeless and jobless.  Despite her frequent trips to and from hospital, the doctors she consulted could not assist her.  They insisted there was no treatment for her ailment.  Her life was in disarray.  She had been forced to resign from her previous employment at Shoprite Checkers, the cold fridges worsening her illness.  Patricia is a single mother.  Losing her job further complicated her situation, not being able to financially sustain either herself or her son.  Hearing about the upcoming In His Name crusade at a local church, Patricia was eager to attend, believing that God would perform a miracle in her body.  “I am a child of God,” she explained.  “When I heard about the crusade I said to myself, ‘I will go.  Maybe this is my chance to be healed.’” 

Yes indeed, Patricia received her healing.  In fact, as she entered the crusade venue, the praise and worship loud and jubilant, the pain disappeared.  What a miracle!  The Gospel had not yet been preached and the sick had not yet been prayed for.  The Holy Spirit was so eager to set her free, that he banished that sickness the moment her foot touched the crusade ground.  “I have been in pain for a long time,” she testified, “but when I entered this place, the pain left.  I have been healed!  Glory be to God!”

Our God is a miracle-working God.  Our difficulties are only platforms for the manifestation of His grace, power and love.  Patricia could not stop rejoicing.  “From now on,” she said, “I want to be a strong woman of God.  If possible, I will become a preacher.”  Go for it Patricia, we are rejoicing together with you!

Tamryn is the founder of In His Name Ministries, an evangelistic organisation dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout Africa and the world. Find her on Facebook under Tamryn Klintworth or visit the ministry website at:


Breakfast on the Bismarck

I will call him Nathan, but he could be Natasha or Jonathan or Kirsten. He is one of millions of men and women who have come forward to receive the Lord at an altar call. When numbers become so large, they lose their meaning; sometimes I think we must find a way to speak of just one – one person out of millions. So, I speak of Nathan.

A life ship-wrecked
He wanted a supervisor’s job in his town. His late father had held the position before him and he idolised his father. He wanted the position so much that he cheated on a qualifying test and was caught. The disgrace was made known, his reputation ruined, his job lost. The engagement to the love of his life fell apart. Nathan looked for new ways to succeed after his fall, but everyone knew his shame. No one seemed ready to give him a second chance. His life had become stuck in the muck of iniquity, and he had no one to blame but himself. This is the all-too-common story of sin.
But I did not know any of this, so how could I care about Nathan? What moves me is to know that the Holy Spirit is not limited the way I am, He knew every detail of Nathan’s failure, and He cared for him perfectly. He cares about all the ‘Nathans’ in our world. No one is left out.

A disturbing dream
As this story begins, the efforts in the early years in my ministry were behind me. This organisation was to be the vessel for accomplishing God’s vision for a blood-washed Africa – but my spirit was restless…
We were having powerful results. We were seeing decisions for Christ in the tens of thousands in the nations of Southern Africa. Stadiums were being filled. Many thousands more would crowd the outside to hear the Gospel. But still, the restless feeling kept nagging on the inside of me. What could it mean?
One night I went to sleep and began to dream. In this dream, I wore a sea captain’s uniform. I stood on the bridge of a great ship and I gripped the helm. I could feel the powerful vibrations from the engine room through the wheel in my hands. The deck moved beneath my feet as tons of water was displaced by this moving giant. The ship was a floating city – it seemed as large as the infamous German Bismarck battleship of World War II.

Searching for meaning
I noticed, however that the ship was not on the open seas where I would expect it to be. In my dream, I was guiding the ship upstream along the twisting course of an African river at night. Peering ahead in the gloom, I could see a bend. Looking to each side, I saw that the banks were growing narrower as I passed upstream. I slowly realised that my great ship was doomed. It would never make it around that bend – we were in dangerous waters. I looked to see if I could turn around to avoid disaster, but the channel had no room. There was no going back. The hair rose on the back of my neck as I realised that there was no going forward, either. Such a dilemma!
In my dream, I broke into a terrible sweat. Everything was at stake, all so suddenly. My hands trembled on the wheel as I watched the huge ship move closer and closer to unavoidable disaster. In desperation, I cut the power to the engines. They fell silent, but I had acted too late. The massive momentum carried us forward. Suddenly, I heard the horrible sound of steel groaning and screeching against the rocks. Gaping holes were torn in the hull. The huge Bismarck-sized battleship lurched to a stop as the narrow banks caught and held it fast in the African night. I stood riveted to the spot, swallowed up by the sound of the ripping current and the chatter of bush insects in the darkness…I woke up to find my bed linen soaked with sweat. No one had to tell me that I had just had a dream from God. But what did it mean?

A plan for avoiding disaster
“Lord,” I cried, “what is it?” “The ship,” the Lord said, “is a picture of your organisation, Christ for all Nations.” “Lord, will we get stuck?” I asked. “No.” He answered, “A great battleship needs more than firepower,” I heard Him say in my spirit. “It needs manoeuvrability. Your foundation is too narrow and too small. The battleship is fine, but I will widen the river for you so that you can pass. I will add prayer partners to Christ for all Nations. Every prayer partner will widen the river by one inch.”
Now I understood the restless feeling in my spirit. God had been warning me of trouble that I didn’t know was there. In His great love and wisdom, He had given me His plan for avoiding disaster.  In obedience, I would find ways to gather new prayer partners to widen the river. I did not know, as I began this new direction, that Nathan’s life had run aground in a different way. His dreams of being a supervisor and a respected family man had been torn apart. His efforts to rise above his own shame continued to fail on every side. His family and friends had deserted him. His reasons for living had gone. I did not see him as he took a butcher’s knife from the kitchen drawer. Day after day, he had been thinking of ways to make the pain of his life end. He had read how others had slashed the vein in their wrists and had gone to sleep forever. This sounded like Heaven to him…

A breakfast appointment
I could not hear Nathan as he began to sob all alone in his bedroom, holding that knife to his wrist. My ears were filled with the sounds of an engine room on a great battleship. I was hearing myself repeat the words, “All Africa shall be saved.” I was thrilled to feel the ship moving again. My job was to guide Christ for all Nations to see a blood-washed Africa. I did not hear Nathan’s cries – but the Holy Spirit did. And He cared for him in his agony.
I was invited to a breakfast, sponsored by another evangelist. What I saw opened my eyes. I saw that this man of God had invited people to a special meal at which he presented his vision and invited his guests to become prayer partners. The Holy Spirit spoke to me that I should do this same thing. And so I did. As I sat at the head table, my heart swelled with gratitude at the response. There was not an empty chair at any of the tables in that large ballroom. I looked across the faces of wonderful Christian leaders from all denominations and ministry organisations in the region. Some of my former critics were there – people who had said bad things about me, but now wanted to support our ministry.

An altar call – to Christians?
Then came the time for me to present the vision, I spoke of God’s plan for increasing our manoeuvrability. The time had come to ask them to consider joining us as prayer partners. Suddenly, the Spirit whispered in my heart, “Give an altar call.” Surely I had heard wrong! This was not a crowd of sinners. These were Christian leaders. They might be insulted if I gave an altar call for salvation. Or, if someone in the room who had a great reputation was somehow still unsaved, that person would be exposed for his or her hypocrisy by responding in this public meeting. “Give an altar call.” I heard the message clearly this time. No mistake about it.

You could hear a pin drop…
“My friends,” I said, “I have heard from the Holy Spirit that I should give an altar call. In a crowd like this, I must say, I did not plan to do so, but I will simply obey the Lord.” There was a lot of clearing of throats in the room, as they waited in silence.
“I would like to ask everyone to examine themselves honestly this morning. If your life should end today, do you know where you would spend eternity? Do you have that certainty?”
In every altar call there is a moment of recognition for the audience. It comes when they bow their heads in prayer, and then hear the speaker say, “Yes, I see that hand.” These words mean that in the assembled group, someone is not saved, and that person has acknowledged it by raising his hand. He has made his private, lost condition public.
It would be fair to say that among these Christian leaders, each was highly curious to know if any of their number would respond. No doubt, they would be shocked if one hand was raised. And, frankly, so would I. You could hear a pin drop in that room as I asked for a show of hands.

An overwhelming response
“Yes, I see that hand,” I said. “And you, and you, and you, and you, and another, and yet another.” And still, there were more. You could feel something like electricity ripple through the atmosphere. But what none of my Christian friends knew was that I was receiving a great revelation of God’s love and grace. It was coming to me in a way I would never have imagined.
Each member of that crowd was, no doubt, asking him or herself, how could so many wonderful Christian leaders not know Christ as their Saviour? Some in the audience even began to break from their positions of prayer to see who had raised a hand. “This is a solemn moment,” I said. “I ask that we remain in an attitude of prayer. The Spirit is speaking to many hearts here this morning. We do not want to miss what He is doing. I would now like to ask those who raised their hands to come forward. Do not delay. If you need to receive Jesus this morning come now.” I will never forget it.

We are battleships, winning
the war for lost souls
Seventeen people came forward, some of them running, some weeping,  all moved by the Holy Spirit to accept Jesus as their Saviour. The crowd of Christian leaders raised their heads. Now they received the same revelation that had already come to me. Each of the 17 persons standing in front of me wore a Carlton Hotel uniform.
These were the people we had overlooked in our search for prayer partners. These were the waiters whom we had not counted in our minds as we had enjoyed our breakfast. I looked at this crowd of Christian friends, and said, “Is this not why we came here?” A holy silence had fallen. Nothing I could have said or done better illustrated the nature of our calling to be witnesses and evangelists of the Good News. One young pastor was totally changed that morning. He vowed from that day forward that he would never address any group, anywhere, for any reason, and not give an altar call. Such evangelistic faithfulness will always bear fruit.

A new destiny for Nathan
I went on to lead those 17 waiters in the sinner’s prayer. When I reached the last waiter in line, a young man, I took his hand. “And what is your name?” I asked. “Nathan” he answered. “Nathan,” I said, “welcome to the Family of God.” He nodded and smiled at me with tears streaming down his face. He held my hand in both of his, and for a long time he just kept shaking it. He would not let it go. I could tell he was deeply moved. I didn’t have time to ask, but I knew that a very long and important story lay behind this moment of decision in his life.
There is a story like Nathan’s behind each of the millions of decisions for Christ that we register. Won’t Heaven be wonderful? We will be given more than enough time to hear them all, from beginning to glorious end. 