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Whose RIGHT is it anyway?

Sondagaand Diens Clanwilliam
English Version: Whose Right is it anyway?

In the light of the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation trial, my thoughts turn to the question, who is right? The jury will eventually decide who they believe was right, but after the outcome, some will certainly still disagree.  

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25) Whose right wins for all, not just the one?  Whose right decisions bear sustainable good fruit? This statement describes a culture where everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes and no one any longer regards moral absolutes.   

Moral righteousness is part of human survival because humans function in groups, and we have to adhere to a common law of rightness to maintain good order and balance. We naturally group ourselves according to vested common personal interest and advertently restrain ourselves from another perceived unrighteous group.

The problem is when we enact our wrong-doing against an innocent person, based on the wrong done to us. The original wrong-doing and perpetrator roams free, unpunished, now I become the perpetrator and the evil cycle continues.

ENTITLEMENT AS A COVER-UP FOR SIN 

The battle of whose right is truly right ensued since the beginning of time. Cain believed he had a right to murder his brother because his offering was accepted, instead of of his own.  He should have approached God, asking: “Why was my sacrifice rejected?” so, he can grow and improve, instead he took offence and murdered an innocent.  He never repented, and when punished was only thinking of himself.  “And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.” (Gen 4:13)  My father in law used to say: “Two wrongs do not make a right” This is a proverb used to rebuke or renounce wrongful conduct as a response to another’s transgression. 

Nonetheless, this is a common tendency: A husband loses his temper because the way his wives speak to him.  He angrily justifies his outrage, breaking furniture, hitting holes in the door, and smashing a cell phone: “You made me do this!!!” “Look what you’ve make me do!” 

A perceived loyal husband by his friends and family commits adultery and is unfaithful to his wife. His secret justification? He works hard, is mostly the least, feels trapped in an unfair situation in which he can do nothing, feels he is not valued, and feels used. He does not deal with his unhappiness in a healthy way and eventually cannot resist the temptation to feed his flesh.  

Someone who has been set free from drug addiction suddenly experiences tremendous temptation to use again.  His secret justification? He believes he works hard, has made huge sacrifices, poured himself out, always remains the least, and keeps quiet in an argument.  Instead of nourishing the flesh in a healthy way through exercise, and doing something meaningful he wastes time with superficial relaxation like binge TV series viewing. His flesh remains unfulfilled and hungry and begins to become a monster out of control.  

FREEDOM OF CHOICE – Consequences?

One can justify anything if you have to, but not all is profitable. All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. (1 Cor 10:23-24) 

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (1 Cor 6:12) 

I remember watching a documentary of Moses Sithole and how he justified every murder, and his eyes did nothing wrong.  By the time Sithole’s trial began on October 21, 1996, mounting evidence saw the total charges against him increase to 38 counts of murder, 40 counts of rape and six counts of robbery. He pleaded not guilty to all charges. [1]

Most people know that the violent Capone was taken down by that least likely of weapons—a group of accountants focused on his tax returns. [2] He also never accepted any blame for what he has done.  

The greatest of problems with humanity is our smoke-screen of self-righteousness! We hide our sins. We cheat and lie! We are afraid of punishment and cover our nakedness with fig leaves! 

NOT ALL RIGHTS ARE GOOD FOR EVERYONE IN THE LONG TERM

Years ago, Mrs Judy Mouton former mayor of Cederberg Municipality brought a speech in our church about being a Christian Political Leader.  Her quest was; whose right in a diverse community of needs and wants, is a priority? How does God view these needs? Whose right does He attend to first? In the light of white people mostly complaining about the potholes and high taxes, the brown people about the shortage of houses, 600 hundred black people families were residing on a hill with only two toilets and one tap.  Whose right deserves God’s and our attention? She opted to relieve the plight of the black people, but lost the forth-coming election.  Sometimes doing what is right is going to cost you! 

Think of the many fights between brothers and sisters about who is right? Whose right? Fairness happens at first when all sides of the story have been heard. One always wants to tell the news about what the other has done wrong.  

Political movements begin, because of some perceived injustice, and begins to draw activists who would fight for the cause of a particular disenfranchised group.  Currently, an unknown community group of activists and protestors burn houses and farms in protest for higher wages. [3] What is the sustainable good of this uprising, and how is it improving relationships? How is it really improving lives in the long term? 

The judiciary exists because people cannot decide their own right action, so there must be an independent impartial fair system that delivers a righteous judgment.  

Without a biblical criterion, each defends his own right and comes nowhere.  One must have a constitution that defends both rich and poor’s rights and then look at each case’s merits and background on what is right or wrong.  The Bible consistently gives a balanced judgment.

THE ROLE OF UPBRINGING

We read of two narratives in the Bible where upbringing played a huge role in the rightness of the children.  Why was Abraham chosen to be the father of a new nation, at the time childness, and a heathen from the Chaldeans? What did God see in Him, to have chosen Him? 

since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him. Gen 18:18-19 

He was chosen because: I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice.  

Contrastingly, we read of another spiritual giant who failed to teach his children rightness! 

Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 1 Sam 8:1-4 

H6666. צְדָקָה ṣeḏāqāh: A feminine noun meaning righteousness, blameless conduct, and integrity. The noun describes justice, right actions, and right attitudes, as expected from both God and people when they judge. God came speaking justice and righteousness as the divine Judge (Isa. 63:1; Jer. 9:24[23]; Mic. 7:9); the Lord’s holiness was made known by His righteousness in judgments (Isa. 5:16; 10:22). Human judges were to imitate the divine Judge in righteousness and justice (Gen. 18:19; 2 Sam. 8:15; Ps. 72:3; Isa. 56:1). The word describes the attitude and actions God had and expected His people to maintain. He is unequivocally righteous; righteousness is entirely His prerogative. His people are to sow righteousness, and they will receive the same in return (Hos. 10:12). He dealt with His people according to their righteousness and blamelessness (2 Sam. 22:21; Ezek. 3:20). Faith in God was counted as righteousness to Abraham (Gen. 15:6); and obedience to the Lord’s Law was further evidence of faith that God considered as righteousness (Deut. 6:25). Returning a poor man’s cloak was an act of obedience that was considered righteous and just before the Lord (Deut. 24:13). Jacob declared that his integrity (honesty, righteousness) would speak for him in the future to Laban (Gen. 30:33). The lives of people are to reflect righteousness and integrity (Prov. 8:20; 15:9); even old age may be attained by living a life of righteousness (Prov. 16:31). The noun describes the justice of God or His will: persons are to act according to God’s righteousness toward other persons (Deut. 33:21; Isa. 48:1). The word is also synonymous with truth or integrity. God declares His words are based on His own truthfulness (Isa. 45:23). The word depicts God’s salvation or deliverance, such as when Isaiah spoke of the Lord bringing near His righteousness as equal to bringing near His salvation (Isa. 46:13; 51:6; 56:1). The word may indicate a just claim before the king (2 Sam. 19:28[29]); or the righteous claim for vindication God gives to His people (Neh. 2:20; Isa. 54:17). A person who was denied justice but was righteous was, in fact, innocent (Isa. 5:23). In the plural, the word referred to the righteous acts that God performed for His people (1 Sam. 12:7); or, in the plural used in an abstract sense, it depicted people living righteously (Isa. 33:15). The word was used to mean legitimate and blameless, referring to the Lord’s righteous Branch (Jer. 23:5; 33:15) who will act justly and righteously in the restored land.

H4941. מִשְׁפָּט mišpāṭ: A masculine noun meaning a judgment, a legal decision, a legal case, a claim, proper, rectitude. The word connotes several variations in meanings depending on the context. It is used to describe a legal decision or judgment rendered: it describes a legal decision given by God to be followed by the people (Isa. 58:2; Zeph. 2:3; Mal. 2:17). These decisions could come through the use of the Urim and Thummim (Num. 27:21). The high priest wore a pouch called the breastpiece of justice, containing the Urim and Thummim by which decisions were obtained from the Lord (Ex. 28:30). Doing what was right and just in the Lord’s eyes was far more important than presenting sacrifices to Him (Gen. 18:19; Prov. 21:3, 15). God was declared to be the Judge of the whole earth who rendered justice faithfully (Gen. 18:25; Isa. 30:18). In the plural form, the word describes legal judgments, cases, examples, laws, and specifications. The word describes the legal case or cause presented by someone. The Servant spoken of by Isaiah asked who brought his case of justice against him (Isa. 50:8); Job brought his case to vindicate himself (Job 13:18; 23:4). The legal claim or control in a situation is also described by the word. Samuel warned the people of the civil and legal demands a king would place on them (1 Sam. 8:9); Moses gave legislation to protect the rightful claim of daughters (Ex. 21:9). The Hebrew word also described the legal right to property (Jer. 32:8). Not surprisingly, the place where judgments were rendered was also described by this word; disputes were to be taken to the place of judgment (Deut. 25:1). Solomon built a hall of justice where he served as judge (1 Kgs. 7:7). The word also describes plans or instructions: it describes the building plans for the Tabernacle (Ex. 35); and the specifications for the Temple (1 Kgs. 6:38); the instructions the angelic messenger gave to Samson’s parents about how he was to be brought up (Judg. 13:12). In a more abstract sense, it depicts the manner of life a people followed, such as the Sidonians (Judg. 18:7; 1 Sam. 2:13). The word means simple justice in some contexts, often in parallel with synonymous words, such as ḥōq (H2706) or ṣeḏeq (H6664), meaning ordinance or righteousness. It describes justice as one thing Jerusalem was to be filled with along with righteousness (Isa. 1:21). Justice and righteousness characterize the Lord’s throne (Ps. 89:14[15]); and these were coupled with love and faithfulness (cf. Ps. 101:1; 111:7). Executing or doing justice was the central goal that Yahweh had for His people (Jer. 7:5; Ezek. 18:8), for that equalled righteousness (Ezek. 18:9).

A BIBLICAL STANDARD 

The Bible has tested moral absolutes as summarised in the 10 Commandments that serve as a protection for man and his family.  

Care/harm, 

Liberty/oppression

Fairness/cheating

Loyalty/betrayal,

Authority/subversion,

Sanctity/degradation

When these moral absolutes are adhered to and respected in the fear of the Lord, who sees and knows everything, it brings joy to the people.  Whereas the pleasure of sin is short-lived bringing eventual painful and destructive consequences. 

No one likes and enjoys the restrictions and boundaries of the law, but when the tables are turned and we become the victims of crime, we value the importance of the law.  

WE SHOULD RESIST EVIL CULTURE 

Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,” will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations, but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them. (Proverbs 24:24-25)

Enough, O princes of Israel! Remove violence and plundering, execute justice and righteousness, and stop dispossessing My people,” says the Lord GOD. “You shall have honest scales. (Eze 45:9-10)

You shall not follow a crowd to do evil;  (Exo 23:2)

In the end “So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.” Hosea 12:6 


[1] https://www.biography.com/crime-figure/moses-sithole

[2] https://www.themarshallproject.org/2018/05/28/defending-al-capone

[3] https://www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-news/south-africa/talks-between-sundays-river-valley-workers-and-farmers-deadlocked/

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Fall in Love with Jesus all over again – the paradoxical beauty of our Saviour

Beauty is symmetry and balance.  Glamour magazines showcase the best face, or body because of the eyes just being the right size in comparison with the nose and lining up perfectly with the ears.  An artist who draws caricatures of people amplifies certain physical traits to make them both recognizable but out of proportion and funny! Interior designers are always attentive to symmetry, scale, and balance.  Architecture is all about finding the right mix of paradox, contrast, balance, symmetry, and rhythm.  Beauty is symmetric, balanced, involves contrast, and has order.  

There is cogent evidence to show that light consists of waves, and equally cogent evidence to show that it consists of particles. It is not apparent how light can be both waves and particles, but the evidence is there, and so neither view can be ruled out in favor of the other. Neither, however, can be reduced to the other or explained in terms of the other; the two seemingly incompatible positions must be
held together, and both must be treated as true. Such a necessity scandalizes our tidy minds, no doubt, but there is no help for it if we are to be loyal to the facts” ((Footnote (J. I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God [Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity, 1961] p. 19).14))

The greatest mystery of Jesus life was a paradox. He is earthly, human, unassuming, with a fine sense of humour and playfulness, yet He is God.  
Omnipresence: “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”(Matt. 18:20).

Eternal: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20).

Almighty: “All power in heaven and earth has been given to Me.” (Matt. 28:18).

Omniscient: “No one knows who the Son is but the Father, and who the Father is but the Son and everyone to whom the Son wants to make him known.” (Luke 10:22).
Forgive sins: “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic.” (Mark 2:10).

The paradoxical values of Jesus is: Broad and narrow; warns of immanent judgement yet loving and kind to emphasize with the weak, marginalized, oppressed and sick. Jesus’ ministry can be described as a non-reactionary creative, revolutionary pacifist, servant leader, supernaturally human, separated team-player.

Paradoxes are often a sign that things are going well, morally and personally. —Saul Smilansky [1]

A biblical aesthetic of beauty incorporates the ugly. The heart of reality is not a sentimental romance, a garden party, an easy Hollywood beauty. The heart of reality is a suffering romance, a bloody Calvary beauty. True beauty is paradoxical. 

We see the unseen. We subdue by submitting. We win by losing. We are made grand by making ourselves little. We come in first by becoming last. We are honoured by being humble. We fill up with God by emptying out ourselves. We become wise by being fools. We possess all things by having nothing. We wax strong by being weak. We find life by losing ourselves in others. We live by dying.[2]

Even creation is paradoxical in its essence.  The bombardier beetle’s lethal spray is produced from a reaction between two chemical compounds, hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide, which are stored in two reservoirs in the beetle’s abdomen.  Each of these substances can kill the beetle, yet mixed together becomes a weapon through which the beetle can defend itself. [3]

Although there are only 94 basic elements listed in the periodic table, [4] it is the paradoxical mixtures that drive new inventions. For example, engineers learned to combine steel and concrete to make steel-reinforced concrete. Steel is strong in tension, though weak in compression. Concrete is the opposite. Combine them and you get a material strong enough to hold up a skyscraper but flexible enough to sway without breaking. Steel and concrete compensate for each other’s weakness.[5]

Examples of theological paradoxes within mainstream Christianity include: the Trinity (the three persons of the Godhead are distinct, and each is fully God, yet there is only one God); the Incarnation (the transcendent, immutable God became a man in space and time); the hypostatic union (Christ is one person with both a divine nature and a human nature, and thus is omniscient and limited in knowledge, omnipresent and limited in location, impeccable yet susceptible to temptation, etc.); and the claim that God has infallible foreknowledge of human free choices. Some traditions within Christianity face their own distinctive paradoxes (e.g., the Reformed teaching that God foreordains all things, yet we are morally responsible for our actions). 

The Gospel and message of the kingdom is paradoxical beauty: 

The paradoxical life we live in Christ is one of healing and miracles and yet we get sick sometimes, we abide in supernatural provision yet our wallets are sometimes empty, wonderful victories in the midst of a tremendous struggle, eternal life in our hearts but we all have to walk over through earthly death. 

A friend of mine encapsulates the inner struggle with paradox perfectly in his greatest admission of his vulnerability. My name is Hennie Viljoen and I have experienced an all-time high and all-time low simultaneously. I am strong and weak at the same time. I have absolute clarity on some things, but at the same time, I desperately need wisdom for the next step. I am certain and confused, energetic and extremely tired all at the same time. I hope, but I don’t see. God speaks clearly to me in His word, yet it is difficult because God’s Way regularly does not make logical sense. I am helping others more than ever, but I also need help more than ever before. In Christ I am victorious, but the devil is doing whatever he can to undermine my faith.

The Upside-down Kingdom! 

For he who is least among you all will be great.” (Luk 9:48)

The last will be first, and the first last’ (Matt. 20:16) 

he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. (Luk 22:26)

‘when I am weak, then I am strong’ (2 Cor. 12:10).

The weak are honoured. 

I will make the lame a remnant, And the outcast a strong nation (Miga 4:7); but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7:28)

Maturity is to become like a child. 

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:1-35; 5:13; 10:40, 42; Mark 9:33-50; 10:15; Luk 9:46-50; 14:34-35; 15:4-7; 17:1-4; 18:17).

Dying to Live 

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  (Mat 16:24).

We gain more, by giving more

He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  (2 Cor 9:6-10; Gal 6:5-6).

The opposite Spirit 

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom 12:21).

Turn your cheek, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, pray for those who spitefully use you. (Matt 5:39-40).

A soft answer turns away wrath, (Spr 15:1).

Poor yet Rich

as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. 2 Corinthians 6:10

As you consider the paradoxical beauty of Christ, may you be enlightened and stirred in your faith to not loose sight of Him. Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:1-2) 

As we continue to just love Him, follow Him, hear Him, obey Him we are continually changed and transformed into His likeness, Christ within us the hope of glory. 

Ultimately the greatest of all paradoxes is the cruelty, and ugliness of the crucifixion!! It is in His death that we gain life, in His shame we get our innocence renewed, by His stripe that we are healed!!


[1] Saul Smilansky, Ten Moral Paradoxes (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007), pg 113. 

[2][2] Leonard Sweet. So Beautiful, Divine design for life and the church. Pg 30.

[3] https://answersingenesis.org/creepy-crawlies/insects/bombardier-beetle-arsenal-insect/

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periodic_table

[5] Lapin, Daniel. Business Secrets from the Bible (p. 24). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

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A Reformation of LOVE

https://youtu.be/FIwtiUhDxdw
HRCO Gesinskamp, Marcuskraal 4×4

The type of love Jesus taught was like nothing anyone ever experienced on earth. We all need to be reformed in our understanding and expectation of divine LOVE.

Most of our greatest hurts and offences is when we realize that our loved ones do not love us back ~ the way we love them. They do not reciprocate the sacrifices we have made, or worse, they openly betray us.
In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
The worst is most people do not know, value, recognize, or see you. They do not know your heart, or see your true value.

We all have a purpose, a mission and cause we dedicate our life to. Your purpose and vision in life is connected with what you most ultimately love. What you love most is where your heart is, that is where you will spend most of your time. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mat 6:21)

Jesus’ own disciples struggled to really see, and understand what He was about.
What is the vision for your life?
Mat 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luk 9:18-20

What do people say about you? Who are you? Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Mat 16:13)

Peter had a revelation of who Jesus was: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mat 16:16; Matt. 14:33; Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20; John 6:69; 11:27; Acts 8:37; 9:20; Heb. 1:2, 5; 1 John 4:15)

Our love for God begins with a revelation of who He is. Awestruck and full of emotion we surrender our lives to Him. This personal revelation is the rock, foundation of the New Testament Church. He is not a religion, or a religious culture. The Samaritan Woman saw Jesus as the fountain of water that never runs dry – Joh 4:25-26. Paul saw that he was persecuting Jesus, on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:5). The man crucified next to Jesus, recognized that He was innocent (Lk 23:40–43).

The attack of the enemy is focused to tempt us to forget, deny, abandon what we saw. If he robs us of the invaluable divine revelation, we are without power and authority. People perish because of a lack of vision. Where there is no revelation (prophetic vision) the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law. (Prov 29:18).

On the other hand, we will never love the way God loves, until our love is tested. Our broken, incomplete, selfish, love must first be disclosed before we humbly seek to discover and receive His kind of love.

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” (Luk 22:31-34). Under pressure and persecution he exclaimed; “Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” (Mat 26:69-75) The devil is out to kill and destroy your revelation!!

When one loses spiritual vision, you default to the old ways of the flesh. “I am going fishing” (John 21:3)

Because Peter verbally denied Jesus tree times, Jesus had to verbally restore Peter’s vision, calling and purpose three times  – self confession.

Agapé kind of love:

  • Love your enemies (Mat 5:44).
  • Love without receiving anything back (Mat 5:46). Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul mind and strength. (Mat 22:37)
  • Single focus – love God and mammon (Mat 6:24)
  • Gave only begotten Son (John 3:16)
  • A new commandment love one another as I have loved you.
  • Loves me and obey me (John 15:21, 23)
  • Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
  • By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:35)

Love Restoration

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”
And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.” (John 21:15-19)

The English vocabulary is limited, for the word Love and Know, is actually different words in the Greek.

Jesus’ question would expose what was in his heart. “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” The verb “love” here is ἀγαπάω agapáō. The noun form of the word is agapé.

There is some debate about what the word, “these” in Jesus’ question refers to. The word could be either masculine or neuter. Many commentators argue that it is masculine and refers to the other disciples. The question would then be, “Simon, do you love me more than these other disciples?” Such a question would challenge his earlier boasting and force him to the humble position that he was no better than they were. However, this interpretation does not make sense in light of Peter’s answer which begins with, “Yes, Lord,” and the “yes” here is a strong affirmative, (i.e. “yes, indeed”). Considering the rest of Peter’s answer, and his earlier boasting, it is unlikely that he is still boasting to love Jesus more than the other disciples.

First Question – John 21:15

It is preferred that the word “these” in Jesus’ question to be neuter and to refer to all the fishing stuff that was there. The question would then be, “Simon, do you love this life of fishing more than me?” This interpretation fits the scene and explains Peter’s strong affirmation “Yes, Lord.” Peter did love Jesus more than those things.

Peter’s humility also comes out in his answer. The present scene and his remembrance of his earlier denial of Jesus proved that his love was not to the level of agape love. Peter had not been completely obedient to Jesus. He obviously was not ready to give his life, defending his not-knowing-Jesus stance with a vow, and later cursing and swearing!

Peter could not in good conscience claim to loved the way Jesus loved, so he uses a different word for love phileo. Peter claims to have strong affection for Jesus in the sense of friendship.

It should be noted that in even making this claim, Peter appealed to Jesus’ own knowledge to back up the claim. The word for “know” here is oida which speaks of the knowledge of information and facts.

Jesus’ answer to Peter is one of restoration. Jesus commands him, “Tend My lambs.” Jesus often used the metaphor of sheep to describe those who belong to Him and He does so again in these verses. The lambs are the young sheep which are the most vulnerable and need to be tenderly cared for. The word “tend” here means to “feed” as in “cause an animal to eat” and is translated that way in the NKJV & ESV. Jesus is commanding Peter to take care of the most vulnerable sheep of His sheep. Peter is to teach new believers about how to be a follower of Jesus.

Second Question – John 21:16

Jesus’ second question is direct without a comparison clause. “Simon, son of John do you love Me?” Jesus again uses agapo for love. Peter gives Jesus the same exact answer as the first time. “Yes, Lord: You know that I love You.” He again uses phileo – brotherly love.

Jesus responds by commanding Peter to fulfill additional responsibilities “Shepherd My sheep.” Shepherding takes into account the total care of the flock, not just the feeding. The sheep are more mature than the lambs. Jesus is entrusting to Peter the spiritual teaching and care of His followers including the mature ones. Peter could not do this unless he was also at least that mature. Jesus is affirming Peter that he is still useful to Jesus despite past failures.

Third Question – John 21:17

Jesus significantly changes His third question. “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” But this time Jesus also uses phileo for love as Peter had been doing. The text states that Peter was grieved over this. It was bad enough to be asked three similar questions, but this last time now even challenges the phileo love that Peter claims to have. This time Peter leaves off his affirmation of, “Yes,” and instead directly appeals to Jesus’ omniscience as the son of God. You know all things!! Only God is omniscient, and Jesus attributes this God-divine features to Jesus, the Son of man. Peter’s revelation gets restored!!

Moreover; Peter appeals to Jesus’ personal knowledge of him saying, “You know that I love you.” This time the word translated as “know’ is (γινώσκω ginṓskō) which refers to the personal knowledge that comes from relationship. Peter’s appeals to both Jesus’ omniscience and His personal relationship with Peter to know that what he is now claiming is true.

Jesus’ responds with a third command that affirms Peter’s responsibilities for Jesus’ flock. “Tend My Sheep.” Peter had failed, but Jesus has restored him and will use him to teach and lead His people. All of this would have taken place within the hearing of the other disciples.

Now Peter receives not only his calling restored back to him, but the power to love the way Jesus loved. “Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” Peter will one day give his life willingly and freely, being persecuted for His faith.

Oh Lord Jesus, show us the imperfections of our human selfish love, and produce in us the tested by fire love of God!

We seek to pray, love and bless those who hate us. We intercede for them; “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

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Rightwiseness: The power of God

Sometimes we preach to warn, or correct, at other times we comfort and exhort, sometimes we inform and teach, today I believe the Holy Spirit wants to release faith for the impossible! To challenge us and convince us to accept and walk in all that He has destined for us. 

In a conversation with a friend this week, he disclosed: “Most believers have faith for salvation, but do not know the power of salvation!” Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. (Matthew 22:29) 

People need power to survive.  Some draw power from chemical substances, others from nature. Others seek power obtained in possessions, material wealth, status and popularity.  Extremists establish their power through dominance and fear.  The question to be asked,  and evidenced to be weighed is: What is the sustainable good outcome of these powers? Power obtained by the sword needs to be maintained by the sword.  Muscles obtained through chemicals need to be maintained by chemicals, and increasingly so.  

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. (2 Tim 3:1-9) 

The gospel of the kingdom is not just in word – it is power! (1 Cor 4:20) 

Convenience is the anti-Christ of our time! The gospel of obedience is no longer convenient, nor profitable for man, who is seeking instant pleasure and satisfaction.  Missing out on the most wonderful POWER of the gospel! 

For us to survive and triumph through difficult times, we need supernatural power and grace!  

  1. Power to forgive – Mat 9:1-8
  2. Power towards godliness – 2 Pet 1:30 
  3. Power to live the Jesus life – Phil 4:13 
  4. Power to heal the sick – Luk 5:17, Acts 10:46. 
  5. Power over evil – Luk 10:19 
  6. Power of an endless life – Heb 7:16 
  7. Power over death – Rom 8:11 
  8. Power in weakness – 2 Cor 12:9 
  9. Power over lust of the flesh – Rom 8:3-5 
  10. Power of creative words – Prov 18:21 
  11. Power over the law of sin – Rom 8:2
  12. Power of right living – Rom 5:17; 2 Cor 5:21 
  1. Power to gain wealth – Exo 8:18 
  2. Power to save – Rom 1:16 
  3. Power of the cross – 1 Cor 1:18; Mat 16:24; Gal 5:24 

Rightwiseness is power.  Eventually by doing what is right, you are established by you righteousness.  There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.” (Exo 15:25-26)

Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. (Gen 6:9)

Prof Nick Binedell encouraged me this week to study the difference between northern and southern Italy. The northern part prospers, making the best and fastest cars known to man like Ferrari, Maserati, Pagani and Lamborghini versus the southern part who are poor, always fighting.  Prof Nick suggests I should study the social fibre of the North.  There is the hidden social fibre of integrity, your word is your honour. People still shake a hand on making a contract.  Dishonouring your word will certainly lead to becoming socially an outcast. The most prominent leaders know each other and trust each other.  This rightness in word and deed upholds a sustainable mutually flourishing social contract.  In South Africa the social fibre is non-existing! We have absolutely no trust in our leaders, government, parents, and even the church!  There is no trust!  For a society to flourish it has to be interlaced tightly into one another like a carpet.  This only happens through the majority’s right living!! 

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His glory revealed in Earthen vessels.

The predominant worldview of Mainstream Media is the glorification of victimhood. The Bible offers a more compassionate solution. Redemption! Overcome in spite of hardship and difficulty! In this, He is most glorified in us! His Glory in Earthen vessels!

From time to time, one should be more aware of our physical and mental limitations. One can quickly become conceited, thinking you are special and unique, not realising that there are more than 7billion people alive, who will all die within the next 100 years! Life is fleeting and fragile! We are all limited and restricted by our age, appearance, intellect, beliefs, personality, competence, financial and social status!  To know and be cognizant of our limitations is a good thing, because it humbles us, and forces us to rely on others. The danger, however, is that this sober realisation can lock one’s spirit in condemnation, shame, self-pity, and the glorification of victimhood! 

Jesus embraced human limitations and suffered much persecution, rejection, false accusations and eventually the cross, but he never played the victim.  

The glorification of victimhood

If you have ever been a victim or worked directly with victims you will know that most people struggling with the loss of the use of their limbs or eyesight do not want our sympathy, they need our support to succeed eventually on their own! The Bible is a compilation of redemption stories where people who have suffered the most difficult injustices, hardship, slavery, wars, and tragedy rose to victory and breakthrough! 

Some activist seeks to soothe their own egos by trying to be the voice of the voiceless! But redemption is when the voiceless find their own voice and begins to speak! The Bible is empowering! Let the poor say they are rich! Let the weak say they are strong! We should feel for people’s hurt and loss, but compassion moves beyond sympathy, doing something physically to empower the victim to regain their freedom!  Sympathy feels, compassion acts! 

Some people talk about the severity of their sickness to remain passive and gain the sympathy of others.  Victors are proud of their accomplishments despite the severity! For the one, the focus is on making excuses.  For the other, the focus is on what has been redeemed!  

His glory in Earthen Vessels 

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. (2 Cor 4:6-7)  

God did not choose Angels and perfect beings to display and reveal His glory and power!! He elected and destined us frail human beings to be His messengers, partners, ambassadors, family, children, saints!  As a matter of fact, the weaker we are, the more power is released. 

My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly — therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.  (2 Cor 12:9-10) 

His Preferred Vessel – he who is most weak, fragile and contrite. 

One of the most powerful blessings of why the gospel was called good news, is! The worldview of the time Jesus was in Galilea, greatness was only reserved for the Roman Ruler!  The greatness of the social elite was reserved to a small select group of less than 2% of the population, promulgated only by birthright! The rest of the population was considered servants and slaves to this royal elite.  Inclusion to the Jewish faith was also based on pure Jewish ancestral bloodlines. Outsiders would only be allowed after completing stringent rules and regulations over a long period of time.  They wanted to be sure you really wanted to be a Jew and understand their traditions and way of life!! 

When Jesus started talking about “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he”. People were amazed! (Mat 11:11) 

Ordinary Radicals 

Look at the fact that Jesus chose ordinary young men to be His disciples and later apostles! 

Everyone could become part of His family: “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (Mat 12:48) 

Even people stigmatized as bad people like the Chief Tax Collector got meal invitations! In ancient biblical times, meals were considered sacred and only per invitation for special people with the hope to be reinvited.  Jesus introduced a new kind of hospitality and goodness for all.  (Story of the Good Samaritan – Matt 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luk 10:25-11:7)

Outsiders become insiders! 

An adulterer gets forgiven and set free, without her even repenting for her sin. (John 8:1-11) 

Outsiders like the Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth women whom Jesus did not want to help at first, were declared someone of great faith (Mat 15:28).  So also, the Roman Centurion (Mat 8:10). 

The poor widow who gave her last (Mar 12:41-44) was exemplified and praised for her great act of faith!!! 

All these stories are about simple people who were not only restricted and limited by human weaknesses but also sin!! Yet Jesus does not withhold His glory!! He wants to share Himself and let everyone partake, everyone is invited!! 

“God does not demand that every man attains to what is theoretically highest and best. It is better to be a good street sweeper than a bad writer, better to be a good bartender than a bad doctor, and the repentant thief who died with Jesus on Calvary was far more perfect than the holy ones who had Him nailed to the cross. And yet, abstractly speaking, what is more, holy than the priesthood and less holy than the state of a criminal? The dying thief had, perhaps, disobeyed the will of God in many things: but in the most important event of his life, he listened and obeyed. The Pharisees had kept the law to the letter and had spent their lives in the pursuit of a most scrupulous perfection. But they were so intent upon perfection as an abstraction that when God manifested His will and His perfection in a concrete and definite way they had no choice but to reject it.” 

― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

The GLORY is Jesus’ way of doing Life! 

Invited to what? WE ARE ALL INVITED TO BECOME LIKE JESUS IN ATTITUDE, GRACE and ABILITY in spite of our human frailties! 

This is why He sends His disciples out to go and declare the Kingdom of heaven has come, heal the sick and cast our demons! (Luk 10:9) He requires them to feed the people. (Mar 6:37).  I want to work my Glory in Earthen vessels! 

Jesus even rejoiced at the fact that this message and glory was given to babes: “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight” (Luk 10:21) 

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” (1 Cor 1:26-31) 

Can you begin to recognise God’s plan of mercy and undeserved grace?? 

Redeem every bad into Good 

It is in our difficulties, trials, persecutions, hardship, frailty, and weakness that His power and grace is revealed!! 

  • We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed
  • we are perplexed, but not in despair;
  • Persecuted, but not forsaken
  • cast down, but not destroyed
  • Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body
  • For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.  

Like a music coach, cricket umpire, or mentor the Holy Spirit reminds us during these difficult trials of a Jesus-way-perspective! Forgive someone and treat them with love! Give without them asking! Bless the underserving! Serve all mankind regardless of their standing. Because this is what real royalty is supposed to do!  Instead of an evil reaction, retaliation, resentment, or revenge we love, give mercy, and do good! This is the Glory in Earthen vessels! His glory was not just His miracles and powerful acts but His right-wiseness in every situation!  This is our glory!!  To transcend the LIGHT of His divine nature, to a broken world!  

“As long as [man] does not convert it into action, it does not matter how much he thinks about this new repentance… Wallow in it… Write a book about it; that is often an excellent way of sterilising the seeds which [Heavenly Father] plants in a human soul… Do anything but act. No amount of piety in his imagination and affections will harm [the cause of evil] if [it is kept] out of his will… The more often he feels without acting, the less he will ever be able to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.” 

― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

In the end, God seeks to redeem our brokenness and sinfulness through powerful acts of love, kindness and goodness that we could not have done out of our own strength – nothing is impossible for our God! 

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Reset Your Focus

Learn how to reset your focus from the best life ever lived, and achieve your God-given destiny!

The Light of the World (Luke 11:34,36)

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (Mat 6:22-23)

I love connecting with people, all ages and all kinds! Recently I was in conversation with a teenage girl who told me of her struggles to remain perfect for her parents, teachers, friends and even God! She is beautiful without and within, top in her class, exemplary character and mature way beyond her years! I looked her deep in her eyes like a father loves his daughter and said: The pursuit of perfection is an illusion! Perfection in this life is fleeting! 

As human beings, we seem to forget that we are restricted by our age, gender, physical and mental ability and even our personality.  Furthermore, we are also limited by our economic standing, knowledge and talents as well as our surroundings family and friends! Perfection is in the eye of the beholder! Life is thus a hierarchical race of who overcomes these weaknesses and limitations best! We simply cannot be all things for all men! 

Thankfully that what could not be shaken remained – Jesus and His Kingdom! (Heb 12:28-29) 

One of the greatest tests of true love is self-control. 

One could lavish your love on all, and experience countless fleeting ecstasies of unrestrained freedom, but never become rooted in true love.  For, true LOVE requires devotion, focus, attention, and presence. 

One November morning I woke up thinking of how Jesus allowed himself to be restricted, reduced, reserved, made insignificant ultimately becoming human flesh! Jesus embraced these earthly restrictions!

The restriction of a name/stigma.

He withdrew himself to a small village called Nazareth, with possibly a bad reputation, the devout Jew Nathanael exclaimed: “What good can come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:45) Jesus returned here after staying in Egypt so the word could be fulfilled that the Messiah will be called a Nazarene. (Luk 2:23) This Nazarene nametag remained for regularly he was called “Jesus of Nazareth” (Mat 26:71) Even the demons knew Him by that name (Mark 1:24) People of the time had no surnames. The place you lived or the work you did was often added to your name.  A name can restrict you.

The Restriction of the place you grow up.

Lower Galilee remained outside the mainstream of Israelite life until NT times when Roman rule first brought security. Sepphoris was the chief City of the area, a little to the North of Nazareth, but never mentioned in the gospels. Why did Jesus choose not to live in this modern city of surely greater conveniences than Nazareth? Nazareth lay close enough to several main trade routes for easy contact with the outside world, while at the same time her position as a frontier-town on the south border of Zebulun overlooking the Esdraelon plain produced a certain aloofness. It was this independence of outlook in Lower Galilee that led to the scorn in which Nazareth was held by strict Jews (Jn. 1:46).[1] 

Holding back your talents.

Jesus evidently did little miracles growing up; after starting His public ministry and doing miracles from town to town, he returned to His hometown. “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in zCapernaum, 2do also here in aYour country.’ ” [2] They rejected his interpretation of this Jewish Blessing by the prophet Isaiah (Isa 61-1-2) that the Messiah came to heal and deliver everyone and I am He! So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were efilled with 4wrath, 29 fand rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff[3]

This means that Jesus restricted Himself for 30 years!! 

Formula for success 

Jesus is the ultimate example of focus! 

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 

Know what you want, then write down 20 steps on how to get it! Focus and get working! This is a simple formula of success! 

We present our best work when we concentrate! 

Narrow is the way

(Mat 7:13-14; Luk 13:22-24) στενός stenós; fem. stenḗ, neut. stenón, adj. Straight, narrow, with reference to the gate leading to life (Mat 7:13-14; Luk 13:24; Sept. Isa 49:20). We talk of someone who lived a righteous life, as someone who followed the straight path! 

Discipline is necessary for our complete development 

Part of a child’s psychological development is the period, of discipline almost to the point of absolute slavery! Yet when ready, because they have matured, to outperform their peers in the long term by far!  

Jesus WAITED! 

Most young people do not know the meaning of the word WAIT at all! 

He was in no hurry to start his ministry. (Joh 2:4).

“my time has not yet come… My hour had not come” (Joh 7:6; Joh 7:8; Joh 7:30)

Jesus would not be perturbed from His mission: 

The man interrupted him to help him get his stolen inheritance (Luk 12:13) He at first was not willing to move outside the boundaries of the Jewish nation, for which he came.  Women not of Jewish descend (Mat 15:21-28) 

I must 

We hate the things we MUST do. No one wants to be told to do something. Yet Jesus had no problem submitting and embracing the duty put on Him.

– Luk 2:49 Must be about my father’s business

– Luk 4:43 I Must preach the Kingdom

– Luk 9:22 Must suffer

– Luk 13:33 Must go today

– Luk 19:5 “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today

– Joh 9:4 We must work the works of him who sent me

Jesus lived to fulfil scripture 35x mentioned “scripture fulfilled”

His intellect was not used to be open to everything… 

There is one truth, one way, (Joh 14:6) 

Men told you this, but I tell you… His teaching was simple, narrow, to the point, direct to be either accepted or rejected.  

He did not group men as if they were all alike.  

He had no universal smile.  

He had no fear of man

He praised the faith of a Roman officer and heathen women but scorned the falsehood of the Pharisees and Scribes.  

He called Herod a jackal. 

You cannot finish anything if you do not remain focused. 

I have finished the work You gave me to do (Joh 17:4; Joh 19:28)

My food is to do the will of the father (Joh 4:32) 

“Narrow your focus and you will dominate your market” 

He calls us to this narrowness too: 

abide in me, (John 15) take up your cross, follow me! (Mat 16:24) Simple yet life-changing commands. 

He hit the nail at exactly the same place every time. 

The difference between a river and a swamp. A swamp has no boundaries.  Art is complete when it is framed! To take the perfect picture, you need to frame it right. Songs are written in a certain key, with only so many chords. We enjoy good roads because it has pavements. Being restricted is a good thing! Knowing and understanding your boundaries is a vital skill we all need to develop and submit to!

Sin is missing the mark! Righteousness is hitting the mark and the centre of His way of life! His way of doing life is really best for us! The more we look to Him, contemplating His life, the more He works the grace of His life in us! We become more and more Christlike!


[1] Charley, J. W. “Nazareth.” Ed. D. R. W. Wood et al. New Bible dictionary 1996 : 808. Print.

z Matt. 4:13; 11:23

2 NU Capharnaum, here and elsewhere

a Matt. 13:54; Mark 6:1

[2] The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.

e Luke 6:11

4 rage

f Luke 17:25; John 8:37; 10:31

[3] The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.

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The real meaning of Christmas – The Incarnation

So many songs, movies, and poems about Christmas are not about the birth of the saviour of the World. The permeating modern theme is said to celebrate the spirit of Christmas – giving and sharing.  Fundamentalist points to the pagan origin of many of these practices and traditions like Santa clause and Christmas trees and altogether abandon Christmas celebrations.  On the other hand, if Christmas did not become all things to all men, Christmas would never have preserved the worldwide sustained following.  

In an age of Anti-God, post-Christian modernity I am grateful for a Christian Holiday celebrated by all. People in their global diversity took ownership of the God-became-flesh theme and contextualized Christmas according to their worldview.   This brings to remembrance the doctrine of the universal Christ.  All things were made through Him, and without Him, nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:3-5; Ps. 33:6; Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:16, 17; Heb. 1:2) Instead of abandoning the Christmas tradition, is it not the task of the church to use this opportunity to make Christ known to the world?

Incarnation as a ACT of LOVE

In this blog, I will argue that next to the Crucifixion, the incarnation of the son of God is the greatest proof of His love for the World! 

One of the greatest tests of true love is self-control. One could lavish your love on all, and experience countless fleeting ecstasies of unrestrained freedom but never experience the fulfilment. True reciprocal love (to love and be loved in return) requires loyalty, devotion, focus, attention, and presence to mature.  A child may grow up feeling unloved growing up because of an emotionally, relationally, physically absent parent.  If the love and devotion are not reciprocated by the child too, the love is lob-sided and will not last. 

Reciprocal Love – Full circle

When Jesus hence showed by His own example how to live without sin as a common man, He paved the way for us to reciprocate God’s love. It is in this reciprocation of our love towards God that one grows to appreciate the depth of His love. It is following the example of His Christness in ordinary things, where one awakens to the depth height and width of His love. Remaining at peace in times of lack, despair and disappointment. To love the unlovable. To give when you yourself experience lack is the highest expression of LOVE!

Without Empathy, there is no true expression of love.

Hence: here is one of the most understated loving and wonderful love statements in the Bible! 

Jesus “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 5:15 NKJV).  This statement precedes the following verse of what we can expect approaching the throne of God: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 5:16).  Jesus understands humanity! For Him to understand and love us, He had to fully become human. If Jesus came only as God, he would never have had real empathy for our condition.  The mystery of how Jesus could be fully God, and fully human at the same time, baffles the mind.  For this study, however, let us focus and see His humanity; how His perfect humanity without sin next to His sacrifice for our sin is one of His greatest LOVE ACTS! 

Restricted yet focussed

Growing up as a young genius, without any moral failing must have been hard.  When he arrived from Egypt in the small town Nazareth which the upright Jew Nataniel grumbled “what good can come from Nazareth” makes for an epic underdog-rising-out-of-the dust story.  Nazareth is not depicted in a positive light throughout the gospels.  They openly rejected Him when he came back preaching in their Synagogue.  It seems that He made no special mark in this small community that would have helped them to also believe in Him, as the coming Messiah.

“Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there. When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” So they were offended at Him.  But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Mat 13:53-58).  Is this also the reason that He chose no disciples from His childhood?  

Excluded and misunderstood

Did Jesus make no close friendships during his childhood? 

For 18 years, if one subtracts the years spend in Egypt, Jesus spends His days working as an artisan.  The 3rd largest city Sephorus only 5 km away from Nazareth is never mentioned in the Bible. Jesus, thus again chose a path of obscurity, instead of the fame a larger populous city would bring. This makes sense, as day-labourers and artisan builders never reside in the city they construct. They live in informal dwellings close to the city, not too far so they can daily reach their workplace without exhausting themselves. Much like today squatter informal settlement areas.  

Jesus choice of vocation is non-impressive.  This genius, clever, unblemished character young boy did not aspire to become a Scribe, Pharisee, Priest or Levite? He might not be permitted because of his artisan father’s family profession. One would guess that the impressive interaction with the scribes and priest at age 12, must have earned Him a special scholarship.  (Luk 2:41-49) 

For the sake of the world, and us common people, Jesus restrained Himself! More so, He endured his daily humanity of no special privileges, so that He can have empathy with us! He wanted to personally understand how it feels to be restricted, misunderstood, rejected, and alone! Is this not the greatest act of love? In order for a King to prove his love for the girl, he gives 18 years of His life to study her hardship, struggles and weakness so that when he finally declares His love and she reciprocates the proposal he can now serve and supports her best! 

Jesus restricted himself from doing any miracles and pulpit the wrongs of people for 30 years! He could have chosen wealth, fame, and grandeur on earth He rather becomes a servant, common-man, artisan, a-man-just-like-us to demonstrate that normal people can live holy, righteous, and God-pleasing lives too! This is the power of His life.  Normal people, peasants, farmers doing normal daily things, like food collection and preparation, building and providing for your family can become holy acts glorifying God.  Getting dirty, sleeping on the floor, serving people was fit for God becoming flesh in human form! Jesus was not too high in status, or clever in intellect, nor exalted to do daily ordinary chores.    

Jesus persisted to live a simple life. He did not allow the feast goers to make Him King or finally when wrongfully painfully executed called the help of 12 legions of angels.

The Son of man, his favourite self-title, could have done His greatest miracles like the healing of the dumb mute and the glorification on the mountain in public view for the world to see. Instead, He chose to reveal this only to a few. He would often sternly warn recipients of healing miracles to not tell anyone! 

God almighty become a fragile little baby!

Looking at the picture of the baby in this blog stirs up emotions of fragility and tenderness! To think that the almighty God once was just like this little baby boy, in need of human care and nourisment.

The creator, omniscient, omnipresent, all-powerful, all-knowing God restricted Himself and made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Phil 2:7-8) 

This is how much God loves us!!

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Sermons

False Loyalty

How the enemy is using misguided loyalty to keep you in bondage

Confused about your loyalty to an evil employer, compromising friend, wandering church leader, manipulative family? LEARN from Jesus to CHOOSE RIGHT over false loyalty to the traditions of man!

Definition: Misplaced loyalty (or mistaken loyalty, misguided loyalty or misplaced trust) is loyalty placed in other persons or organisations where that loyalty is not acknowledged, is not respected, is betrayed, or is taken advantage of. It can also mean loyalty to a malignant or misguided cause.

What is loyalty? Loyalty is a dimension of faithfulness. Loyalty is faith in action as it relates to trust and accountability in a relationship. Loyalty is a display of honour. Loyalty is defined by the World English Dictionary as a feeling of allegiance. Allegiance is connected with the word ally. When you are loyal you are an ally. The word ally is closely related to military operations. Allies are those that stand with you during a war. This is loyalty. When you are loyal you are tied to a person, a vision, a church through good times and bad times.

Some will say that loyalty should better be replaced by faithfulness (getrouheid) 

Examples of false, or misguided loyalty

– Codependency – Domestic violence, women stays with abuser.

– Stockholm syndrome – strange connection some hostages have with kidnappers

– Blind obedience – Military commands, take no personal responsibility.

– False leaders labelling honesty and criticism as disloyalty

– Loyalty without honesty – is not a true friendship 

– Collective cover-up a wrong – structural sin like apartheid. 

– Group identity populism – the madness of crowds, the parasitic mind, “I am a victim therefore I am”

– Loyalty because of collective suffering

– Institutional loyalty – traditions of man, history, emblems, rituals, sacred spaces, inner circle.

– Fear of man – remain loyal to false totalitarian bullying leaders 

– Cadre deployment – chose to favour family (nepotism) above efficiency

– Loyalty to sub-standards – fear of change

– No loyalty or commitment – church-hopping – no alliances

– False burden of (parental) responsibility 

– Fear of change and lack of vision – ignorance 

God calls on our allegiance, faithfulness, and loyalty to Him alone.  

Let your heart therefore be loyal to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day.” 1 kings 8:61

A good example of false loyalty: And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. 1 Kings 15:3

Jesus showed no loyalty to the institutions of man: 

Cleaned the temple (Mat 21:12-16)

His own family – But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (Mat 12:46-50)

King Herod – Luke 13:32 And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox”

Scribes & Pharisees – Mat 25 the condemnation of the woe’s 

This does not mean Jesus was rebellious and operated alone in disdain against every formal institution. He consistently called out the wrong (harmful to the ecosystem) conduct that holds people in bondage.

When Loyalty to God is expressed by our loyalty to a godly cause.  

“But Ruth replied: Don’t plead with me to abandon you or to return and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me, and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17, CSB)

“Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as much as himself. Then Jonathan removed the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his military tunic, his sword, his bow, and his belt.” (1 Samuel 18:3-58, CSB)

Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies), then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the LORD’s side—come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’ ” So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. Then Moses said, “Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD, that He may bestow on you a blessing this day, for every man has opposed his son and his brother.” Exo 32:25-29 

Categories
Sermons

How to deliver yourself from spiritual oppression

Expelling Spiritual Oppression.

How to deliver yourself from spiritual oppression and be set free from a bad spirit.

Like illegal squatters, a bad spirit can gain power in one’s life to influence and darken all we say and do. You need to take authority, it is time to clean house!

There is much confusion when it comes to spiritual deliverance. Our western scientific-relativity-materialism-secular worldview frowns on demonic activity.  Hollywood distorts the reality of demons, and psychology tries to medicate the problem.  

Jesus’ healing ministry was particularly characterized by people being set free from spiritual oppression.  Of the thirteen healing stories mentioned in Mark, 4 was exorcisms (Mark 1:21; 5:1-20; 7:24-30; 9:14-29). But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. (Matt. 1:28) 

“Can a Christian be demon possessed?”

This question is simply answered by Dereck Prince’s study of the Greek word. The problem with this form is that, to English ears, the word possess immediately suggests ownership. To be “possessed”—by a devil or demon—implies that a person is “owned” by a devil or demon. But there is no basis for this in the Greek word daimonizo, conveys no suggestion of ownership, but means merely “to subject to demonic influence.”[1]

Recognize the Influence of Satan

“… satan fills your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and withhold the price of the land.” (Acts 5:1-3).

“… so that satan will not tempt you by your lack of self-control.” (1 Cor. 7: 5).

“… the tempter might not have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain.” (1 Thess. 3: 5).

“… so that he may not fall into contempt and into the snare of the devil.” (1 Tim. 3: 6-7).

“Because some have already deviated from Satan.” (1 Tim. 5:15).

“… walk around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet. 5: 8-9).

“… satan must not prevail over us, we know his plans.” (2 Cor. 2:11).

“… unbelievers whose minds are blinded by the god of this world.” (2 Cor. 4: 4).

“… every barrier that is raised against the knowledge of God.” (2 Cor. 10: 3-5).

“… just as the serpent deceived Eve through his craftiness, so your minds may become corrupt, alienated from the sincerity of Christ.” (2 Cor. 11: 3).

The ultimate goal of satan is simply to get you not to obey God, and fulfil your divine purpose.  

 

Biblical Directory of Evil Spirits

 

Doing LIFE Makes You Dirty  

There are all kinds of spiritual influences that defile our spirit.  Dr Phil McGraw calls this a “bad spirit”. One can also say it is a bad attitude. 

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Cor 7:1)[2] 

The fruits of the Spirit, and fruits of righteousness in Christ has cleansed us from a bad attitude.  When a bad attitude begins to prevail in your life, and begins to hurt the people around you, you need to be set free! 

Points of Entry

Power of association

Luke 14:26. Jesus said: “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”

Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. (1 cor 10:20-21)

Personal sin and disobedience

“Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.” John 8:34

Unforgiveness

And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”(Mat 18:34-35) [3]

Steps to take:

  1. Identify truth in your most inward part – Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. (Ps 51:6) 
  2. Break the illegal contract – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) 
  3. Expel with authority – Away with you, (get behind me) Satan! For it is written… (Mat 4:10; Mat 16:23) you are a stumbling block to me… 
  4. Bind yourself to the spiritual antidote – whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Mat 16:19) overcome evil with doing good. (Rom 12:21) 


[1] “They Shall Expel Demons: What You Need to Know about Demons–Your Invisible Enemies” by Derek Prince.

[2] https://diebestelewe.co.za/english-blogs/jesus-and-the-spirit-world/

[3] “Self-Deliverance: How to Gain Victory over the Powers of Darkness” by Rabbi K. A. Schneider.

Categories
Sermons

How to not take offense



HOW to not take offence begins with a quality decision to stand without offence before God.

It is inevitable that people betray, reject, falsely accuse, wrong, treat you unfairly, or sin against you.  

The Only Biblical Judgement is Confrontation  

“…speaking the truth in LOVE…” (Eph. 4:15) – be accurate in speech.  

Never stop engaging!

We give up too quickly, without reciprocal resolve.  Continue to come back for the second, third and fourth sessions of the dialogue, working through all the random thoughts, continuing to explain, clarify, until EMPATHY and COMPASSION appear in everyone’s heart! 

There is no transfer of knowledge without empathy

Communication is always two-way – both parties get the chance, to be honest, and real. One way communication is about the power struggle, the adversarial winner-takes-it-all and taking the I’m-right-you-are-wrong side. It is manipulative victory for the one. Biblical communication is revelational, it is victory for both

Never Take Offence

TAKING offence removes you from the active battle – you become a passive victim or prisoner of war. 

Afr: “Aanstoot neem”: weersin, teensin, teësin, teësinnigheid, afkerigheid, wrewel, wreweligheid, wreweling, wrok, toorn 771, haat, afkeer, aversie, renons, hekel, verpesting, verfoeiing, afsku, verafskuwing, afgryse, walging

vervreemding, verwydering[1]

Researchers have defined an offense as a feeling that is “triggered by a blow to a person’s honor” because it contradicts a person’s self-concept and identity (Poggi & D’Errico, 2018). 

Insecurity: Root of Offense

One of the most common reasons people take offense is insecurity.

“If a person has a strong self-concept, the less likely s/he will choose to take offense.” 

We are currently experiencing an information overload for never in the history of humanity has information been so readily available. But you do not know a person if you have been on their Facebook profile. We offend and cause offence mostly because we truly do not know each other. Then we offend even more the people we are supposed to know because we do not truly see them, and misread their character.

Practical Considerations In A Confrontation

  • We cannot deal with anything if we have not experienced the offence first-hand. We can never discuss anyone behind their back without them being present
  • Always ask permission, when discussing someone’s shame/mistake/error with someone else.
  • A mediator can only mediate between parties if both accept, respect, and trust the neutral nonpartial fair mediator.
  • No or poor communication leads to presumption.  Allow parties to state their official position or stance concerning an issue emphatically. 
  • Be specific, not “some people say”. Mention exact time and place, describe an incident. 
  • Use two to three witnesses
  • Do not demoralize personalities that cannot change or insult one another’s character. Stay focused on a specific behavior, finding context, and motive. 
  • When losing the argument do not raise your voice, improve your argument. When someone is raising their voice, it is because they do not feel heard by reiterating your version of what you understand they are saying solves the urgency. 
  • Keep yourself from childish behavior and manipulation.  Tantrums, stamping feet, losing control, shouting, cursing, threatening is a form of manipulation.
  • Do not generalize, using words like, “always, never, all, no one”, etc. “Color within the lines” and accentuate with different colors (in a coloring book, no one choose one colour and colour over the lines).
  • If you are angry, direct it specifically at the issue and not at the whole person. Use, “I love you, and you are doing a great job but yesterday when you forgot to give me a heads-up, I felt you did not consider my time or presence.”
  • Do not dramatize, exaggerate or minimize. Be accurate in speech.
  • Do not justify or become defensive. Instead, return an accusation with a question to listen, to clarify, or explain the context.
  • Do not move from the agreed subject of discussion and launch a new attack
  • Ask permission if a possible embarrassing theme is being discussed. People’s shame or embarrassment is holy ground. 
  • Blocks to listening: Mind reading, judgement, interruption, advising and problem-solving, and the need to be right. Instead, ask: “Is this what you think?” or, “do I understand you correctly?”
  • Don’t defend an attack with an attack. Instead, say, “I disagree with your statement because…” 
  • Avoid comparing people in an argument, “You are just like those…”  

The Best Way To Confront (Simon Sinek) 

We must practice all three steps in random order: 

  1. Say exactly how they made you feel.
  2. Share the specific action that made you feel that way.
  3. Explain the impact of their actions. 

e.g.: “When you walked out of the room, it made me feel completely humiliated and I fear that if you will perhaps make me feel like that again I will struggle to trust you again.” 

Be silent… wait for defensiveness…

Repeat.

Until accountability is taken for specific action.  [2]

A Jewish Therapeutic Process for Offenders

  1. Recognition of one’s sins as sins (hakarát ha-chét’), 
  2. Remorse (charatá), 
  3. Desisting from sin (azivát ha-chét’), 
  4. Restitution where possible (peira’ón),
  5. True confession (vidúi). 

5 R’s: Action In The Therapeutic Process The Offender Must Take 

  1. Recognition – You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. (Ps 51:6).
  2. Remorse – you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing (2 Cor 7:9).
  3. Restitution – Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” (Luke 19:8). 
  4. Remodel – if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Cor 5:17). 
  5. Repent – Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.(James 5:16). 

Tips For Communication Conflict (Arthur Gillis)  

  1. Hear me
  2. Even if you disagree with me don’t make me wrong
  3. Acknowledge greatness
  4. Remember my loving intention
  5. Tell me the truth with compassion

Non-Violent Communication in the Language of Life 

  1. The concrete actions we are observing that are affecting our well-being 
  2. How we feel in relation to what we are observing 
  3. The needs, values, desires, etc. that are creating our feelings 
  4. The concrete actions we request in order to enrich our lives [3]

Defensiveness Loses Battles

We feel not heard and become frustrated, then angry, then bitter because we could not deeply express how we feel.  This eventually leads to offence in the following ways:

  • I felt excluded.
  • I felt powerless.
  • I felt unheard.
  • I felt scolded.
  • I felt judged.
  • I felt blamed.
  • I felt disrespected.
  • I felt a lack of affection.
  • I felt uncared for.
  • I felt lonely.
  • I felt ignored.
  • I felt like I couldn’t be honest.
  • I felt like the bad guy.
  • I felt forgotten.
  • I felt unsafe.
  • I felt unloved.
  • I felt like that was unfair.
  • I felt frustrated.
  • I felt disconnected.
  • I felt trapped.
  • I felt a lack of passion.
  • I felt like I couldn’t speak up.
  • I felt manipulated.
  • I felt controlled.[4]

Self-Defense Techniques That Defy Repentance 

  • Suspicion, being investigative… believing the worst
  • Losing your sense of humor
  • Taking it personally
  • Causing your pulse to go up
  • Suddenly not understanding anything; “IQ-lost”
  • Wanting to be right at any cost
  • Wanting to have the last word
  • Raising the voice
  • Getting very talkative to show you’re right
  • Explaining endlessly/educating/preaching
  • Playing the victim
  • Getting rigid and inflexible
  • Denial
  • Withdrawing/backing-off
  • Making inappropriate jokes
  • Thinking “I’m special/unique”
  • “This is the way I am – I can’t change”
  • Blaming other people
  • Getting tired or sleepy
  • Intellectualizing
  • Getting very kind and likeable
  • Not listening or hearing only what you want to hear.
  • Attacking – being seen as the best defense
  • Getting resentful; sticking to your opinion for a long time
  • Getting distracted, e.g. doing chores – a means of passive resistance
  • Starting a new subject of offence 
  • Emotional manipulation – trying to get pity. 

For even more info on offence, see the blog https://hrco.co.za/sermons/how-to-overcome-an-offence/


[1] De Stadler, L. G., and Amanda De Stadler. Groot Tesourus van Afrikaans 1994 : n. pag. Print.

[2] https://fb.watch/9fQUGaKd1s/ Simon Sinek – The best way to confront someone  

[3] Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D. Nonviolent COMMUNICATION A Language of Life https://www.nonviolentcommunication.com/product/nonviolent-communication-a-language-of-life-3rd-edition/

[4] https://www.gottman.com  (The Gottman Institute)