Back To Basics
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Back To Basics

Back to Basics

Having served the Lord for most of my life (minus a period of temporary insanity in my early teens!), there were Christian “basics” that were instilled in me from early on. These were drilled into me. They were reinforced. I was encouraged to do them. Praised when I succeeded. And I was reminded of them frequently. Simple principles.

To be kind.

Do to others as I would have them do to me.

Admit when I was wrong.

Turn the other cheek.

Be quick to forgive.

Love others.

As I got older and my relationship with the Lord deepened, the concepts behind these principles developed, expanded, and matured.

Compassion should be given along with kindness.

I should also give others the same benefit of the doubt that I wanted to be given, keeping what I knew about their heart in perspective rather than simply judging motives.

Real repentance was vital, as well as seeking to correct and change my behaviour.

Turning my cheek was also not keeping a record of the sins committed against me.

Forgiving quickly is often required again and again and is given to those deemed “undeserving.”

And loving others meant loving others the way I love myself, loving even the unlovely, and loving with HIS kind of love.

In adopting the name “Christian” I was declaring that I was a follower of Christ. That I needed to exemplify His character and heart. My wants no longer took precedence over His, nor could my will supersede His will. Others would judge Him based on my example. If I presented a poor reflection, His reputation came into disrepute. Galatians 2:20 became a revelation for me because I finally understood this truth: 

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

And learning to act in the “opposite spirit” became one of my most challenging undertakings as a follower of Christ. Because it’s just WAY too easy to respond to anger with anger. To respond to being wronged with unforgiveness. To allow brokenness in others to create brokenness in me.

But with Him helping and empowering me, I can respond to doubt with Truth. Responding to fear with faith suddenly becomes possible. I’m able to respond to bitterness with forgiveness. And respond to hate with love…

Walking the way Christ walked was my goal. Jesus understood that He could do only what He saw His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. And if I claimed to live for Him, I needed to have the same mentality… I can only do what I see Jesus do – what our Father does. If you don’t see an example of Him doing what you are doing, there’s no justification for your actions. Serving Him is not a free-for-all to do whatever makes you happy, holding unforgiveness in your heart, or anything else you try to justify.

Because if you are children of His light, you need to walk like you belong to the light.

I remember a bank commercial on TV I saw shortly after moving to South Africa years ago. A father was walking along the shoreline… his feet sinking deeply into the sand. Behind him, walked his young son, who was taking extra, large strides to make sure he walked in his father’s footsteps. This created an incredible visual for me that I will never forget – I need to be just like that young boy, being super careful to walk JUST where He walks. This will keep me on the path. And I won’t lose sight of Him because my focus is being just like Him.

Philippians 3:12-14 is definitely my heart –

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”

We need to get back to the basics. These are the foundations of serving and following Him. It’s not about me or what I want…  And it’s not even about others. It’s about giving Him glory in every area of my life. And if I keep to the basics, I’ll do just this!!!

Be kind.

Do to others as I’d have them do to me.

Admit when I was wrong.

Turn the other cheek.

Walk in forgiveness.

Extend love.

Stay the Course
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Stay the Course

I find myself grappling with a trend that I’ve seen happening in the Church for the last few years.

When I reference the Church, I don’t have a particular church in mind. “Church”, in this context, is the global church, the church around the world, or the Body of Christ. I’m not singling out a particular person or church as I’m writing this blog. The trend that I am talking about is people leaving the Church. Not just a few people here and there, but people leaving in droves…

Some are hurt or disappointed by the Church or leadership. On this subject, there is little that you can tell me that I haven’t experienced. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but when it comes to Church, I’ve seen more than most. Church split? Lived through it. Abuse and manipulation from church leadership or fellow church members? I’ve received these types of attacks often!! Observing moral failure or financial mismanagement? Sadly, I have witnessed this more times than I can count…

The only thing that I can equate a church split to is a really messy divorce. I saw family and friends during this time get so preoccupied and disillusioned with the things of God, that they turned their back on the God of things. Many of them have never returned, vowing never to go back to church, ministry, or God.

What I find really interesting is that they blame God for what has transpired – as if man had no hand in the whole ordeal!

It’s too convenient to forget that God is not the One who causes these things… Unfortunately, it’s His kids (who are so far from perfect and still struggle with sin) who are most often the perpetrators of these hurtful situations.

Covid, in my view, was a huge catalyst in people withdrawing from the Body of Christ. I’d like to think that Covid took the “Church” out of the four walls – that it took it back into the homes where families can sit around the dinner table at night. Then, after sharing a home-cooked meal, they study Scripture together. That is my utopian thoughts on the matter! I know some friends who have done just that and replaced Sunday church with a healthy Bible study at home. But, the reality is that the vast majority of Believers are not doing that.

Does the Church have a part to play in what is happening? Absolutely! The majority of churches have become a big show. The focus is on the dimmed lights, smoke machines, the right music and – of course – we have to be careful not to offend anyone in the way we conduct our services. Pursuit of presence has been forfeited for convenience.

Mathew 24 talks about a time when there will be a great falling away, where offense and betrayal and hate will abound, and that the love of many will grow cold. This is the portion of Scripture which talks about the Signs of the Times and the End of the Age. Is this the time in which we find ourselves? If so, what are we as “the Church”, as the children of God, supposed to do?? I may never have all the answers, but I know that the author of the book of Hebrews says in chapter 12 that we should fix our eyes on Jesus, to consider Him and to not grow weary and lose heart!!!

As for me and my house we will buckle down and do the work of the ministry with more fervor than we have before. Our assignment and mandate as the Church, or the Body of Believers, does not and has not changed! Matthew 28:18-20 is still applicable! We are still commanded to make disciples of ALL nations, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and to teach these disciples to observe all the things He commanded!

And while we carry out this Commission, we must remember a few things:

Ensure our lamps remain FULL of oil and that we anticipate His return (Matthew 25).
Pursue an even deeper, more intense relationship with our Savior.
Take every opportunity to make Him known to those with whom we come into contact.

In the end, my primary motivation (regardless of if I have been in or out of full-time ministry) has always been that when I finally stand in front of Jesus one day, I will hear the words:
“Well done good and faithful servant…” Oh, what a glorious day that will be!!!

Pressing into God

Pressing into God

It seems like in this day and age that many of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ have lost the art of pressing in to God. “Pressing in” is definitely not the fast food mentality. A late night run to the drive-through to satisfy a sudden urge of hunger.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Be unceasing and persistent in prayer.”

Our directive is to never stop in prayer. Be it for thanksgiving or for a situation that is weighing on us spiritually.

Growing up, my Dad had a large and growing congregation in the City of Pietersburg, South Africa. Through the work of the enemy, this congregation had a major church split. It left many of the congregants devastated and the toll took my family years to recover from. We lost everything: the family home, cars, finances, friends – all gone.

My Mom and Dad never gave up on ministry though. One day in conversation with Dad, I asked him, “Why don’t you just give up and get a regular job?” He said: “Son, what if I give up today and the breakthrough came tomorrow?”

Those words have echoed in my head and I still hear them to this very day.

God was faithful and Mom and Dad eventually got their breakthrough. There were many life lessons learned and hard-earned testimonies along the way. Sometimes I wonder what life would have looked like if Dad gave up and took the easy way out.

As for me, I learned a valuable lesson through the experience: to press in to God, no matter what circumstance I find myself in. Have there been opportunities for me to give up on Church, on God and my Christianity? The answer is “Absolutely!” But I know I’m not living my life for the now. As the Apostle Paul writes: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high call of God on my life!”

With everything we do, we need to apply pressure on both knees. Yes – we need to pray – but we don’t need to make prayer difficult! Instead, we pray out of our relationship with God. For me – my prayers are conversational. I know who I am in Christ, I don’t pray from the dust up, but from my position in Christ Jesus. That position says that I can come into the throne room of my Heavenly Father with boldness!

We need to get back to the lost art of pressing in to God. Pressing in will bring victory and peace to the areas of heaviness in your soul. Pray until the breakthrough comes! While you are praying and waiting on your breakthrough – God will give you many testimonies that will strengthen your faith and build your character.

The secret is not to give up and press into God with prayer.