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September 19, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

The Wolves Within

An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice…

"Let me tell you a story.  I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do."

"But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times." He continued, "It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way."

"But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger,for his anger will change nothing."

"Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?"

The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, "The one I feed."


The Return of the Unclean Spirit – an episode in the life of Jesus, from Matthew 12

43 “When the [angry] spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but it finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So will it be also with this evil generation.”


The Life God Intends for Us, from Colossians 3

1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

5-8 And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

9-11 Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

December 26, 2015Permalink Leave a comment

Forgive Me

Father, I'm going through some heavy things
It seems like this world ain't getting any better
The more we try to get closer to You
The farther we run from Your throne

I've spent so many nights wonderin' when will it end
When will the day come when happiness begins
I'm running the race but it seems too hard to win
I'm sick of mourning my stomach is throwing up in the morning

I'm calling for help and watching it melt away
My heart's been put on display and put away
In many ways, many times I told myself it was ok
And anger was the price that was paid
While these faded dreams just screamed to bring them home

The burden was too heavy I kept running from the throne
I can't take it any longer
I can taste my spirit hunger
God please help me get home

I've come to terms that I'm burning both sides of the rope
And I'm hoping that self-control would kick in before I'm choking off
This sin that be destroying every fiber I got
I need the Lord in every way I'll never make it I'm not
Going back to the way I was before Christ in my life
I couldn't do it I would lose it there's no point to the fight
And I'm writing this song, for the people who don't belong
I pray away the pain you feel from all the things that went wrong
Inside a life that's filled with anger and disappointment
Cause daddy treated you weaker than all of the other kids
It's annoying and I feel for all of you who wanna give up
You feel stuck I feel the same way Lord help us stay up
You couldn't pay me to abandon the idea of true hope
That I could make it through this life into a place where there's no crying
I'm dying to find You with open arms when I go
Knowing You love me and You waiting to give rest to my soul

[Chorus]

Lord I don't know what I'm struggling for
There's got to be more
Than this life I know
But still I'm here fighting to never give up
I find strength in Your love
And You will see me through

[Chorus]

Lord though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Lord please
Lord though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I'm not scared cause You're holding my breath
I only fear that I don't have enough time left
To tell the world that there's no time left

- by Group 1 Crew

December 14, 2015Permalink Leave a comment

Evidence that Climate Change is man-caused

As one of the Republican Presidential candidates, Ben Carson says, "You have a brain".  So let's think about climate change by reminding ourselves of some well known studies:

  • "Earth used to be covered with far more trees. Using computer models, Thomas Crowther and colleagues estimated that before human civilization Earth had about 5.6 trillion trees. So the number of trees on Earth, [now ~3 trillion], has been chopped nearly in half."  Trees do help combat human-made climate change, due to their photosynthesis cycle.
  • Just after 9/11/2001, while the FAA grounded all air travel, there were 3 days without contrails.  A study found "…an anomalous increase in the average diurnal temperature range (that is, the difference between the daytime maximum and night-time minimum temperatures) for the period 11-14 September 2001."  "Because persisting contrails can reduce the transfer of both incoming solar and outgoing infrared radiation and so reduce the daily temperature range, we attribute at least a portion of this anomaly to the absence of contrails over this period."
  • "Scientists discovered in the 1970s that chlorofluorocarbons such as Freon were hurting Earth’s ozone layer."  However, "people still use non-CFC–based aerosols widely. Today’s propellants don’t destroy ozone but do pose other problems. Hydrocarbons can contribute to ground-level ozone formation, a health threat. And some hydrofluorocarbons belong among another class of environmental enemies: the atmos­phere-warming greenhouse gases."  The problem was/is so bad that there were/are ozone layer holes in some areas allowing, excessive radiation (heat is a form of radiation) to reach the ground.

You may have other examples on your mind, so please feel free to leave your comment.

How do people respond to the topic of whether climate change is caused by mankind?

  1. Denial – the earth is a big place, and knows how to take care of itself
  2. Helpless Victim – I contribute so little to the problem, it doesn't really matter what I do
  3. Guardian – I can do something about this, and I have a plan to help make it better, starting with me and my family.  Here's my plan…
  4. Destroyer – Life is short, and I'm going to get all I can for me, regardless of the impact
September 27, 2015Permalink Leave a comment

US administration makes deal with Iran, despite prior promise to wife of imprisoned American

CBS News correspondent Major Garrett questioned the president [Obama] about the Iranian nuclear deal that left Americans in Iranian jails.

“As you well know, there are four Americans held in Iran, three held on trumped up charges, according to your administration, one whereabouts unknown. Can you tell the country, sir, why you are content with all the fanfare around this deal to leave the conscience of this nation, the strength of this nation, unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans?” Garrett asked.

The U.S. State Department condemned the sentencing of Saeed in 2013: “We condemn Iran’s continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and we call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini’s human rights and release him.”

So the US administration now wishes to make a nuclear deal with a country that violates human rights and is willing to jail and torture a US citizen who is one of our people.  It seems this administration has limited moral code, limited ethics, limited integrity, and is not willing to protect all of its people.

I call on the US Congress to decline this administrations’ inappropriate deal with Iran.  Don’t make deals with nations that violate human rights.

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds

To some extent, we can know the nature of any man or woman by what they do – and we don’t have to wait to see, we can look at whatever they have already done, to project the kind of things they will do next.

With our world seemingly spinning out of control, God is the only one who can properly save us.  Good leaders who follow God and have a good track record of actions are a distant second.  But each of us should follow God, so we do what is right.

Saint Basil said

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”

Saint Basil was borrowing from Luke 6, which says

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from brambles. The good person out of the good treasury of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasury produces evil, for his mouth speaks from what fills his heart.”

What kind of “good things” would we look for in a person’s history?  Well, if our person honors God, we will see these things (Galatians 5:22):

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness
  • self-control

And remember David, “the man after God’s own heart” who got so upset when he came across the Philistines and Goliath, saying bad things about God’s people?  David loved God and was really devoted to him.  When Goliath said bad things about God and his people, David wanted to defend their honor and assure their safety!  My son once had a coach who said “Protect your house!”  Every good leader should be doing that.

A good leader develops a good plan.  What does God say?  (Jeremiah 29:11) ‘”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”‘  Those are important words – HOPE, and a FUTURE.  The future is wrapped up in our children, and our children’s children.  If our plans don’t “protect their house” too, a leader has failed.  Some examples:

  • protect our environment
  • protect our finances
  • protect our minds and spirits
  • protect us from outside threats
  • inspire us to exceed expectations and be full of meaningful life

As we live our own lives, and assess others who want to be leaders, I wonder how many of us are like clueless 3rd Graders jumping up and down yelling “Pick Me, Pick me!”, but who do not have good fruit in our own lives?  Do we really care about those around us – our future – or are we just chasing the stardom of leadership?

The proof of who we are is in our recent past.  Anyone can see it.  And the wonderful thing about recent pasts is that you can start building yours today.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:28

Give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead

[I] wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.

Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.

Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.

Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark cold wintry frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world.

The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!

So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.

Pastor Saeed Abedini

December 19, 2014Permalink Leave a comment

Falling away from God

There’s an interesting article “How the Internet Is Taking Away America’s Religion” providing some details from the General Social Survey – a widely respected sociological survey carried out by the University of Chicago.

The study notes that 53% of the population spends two hours per week online and 25% surfed for more than 7 hours/wk.  And since 1990, there’s a 10% drop in religious affiliation in the United States.  Not all the causes have been determined.

I’d like to highlight some comments left on the article:

  1. Sure you can seek for answers in religion, but google is a lot easier and a lot more reliable.
    1. God says his word never returns empty results.  When it has truthful answers, the Internet is a great way to find them.  But some people are still looking for the truth among the evidence, and speak too soon about their conclusions.  That is the state of some scientists today, who promote their conclusions before really getting all the evidence rationalized.  An answer that only partially solves the challenge is not an adequate answer.  Jesus said he is the way, truth, and life.
  2. established religion … needs to be founded on something better than pure belief. It needs to offer an experience that anyone who is interested can experience for themselves.
    1. God isn’t a dog who does tricks on demand.  What he did do, is see our inability to save ourselves from self-destruction and provide a means for rescue, so we could be with him forever.  Even though Jesus did many visible miracles (high level experience for onlookers), some people still refused to believe.  God’s demonstrated love, in the form of Jesus was an expression of intense love that he still expresses to people individually (low-level) when they look for him.
    2. The assurance of forgiveness and salvation is an experience anyone can have.  But the Way Jesus demonstrated is a relationship with God (why spend forever with someone you don’t like?) and some people aren’t willing to lay aside their personal gods to be with God.
  3. multiculturalism is also a huge factor. … I started to see that these people had a very different faith from me, yet had just as much reason to believe it as I did.
    1. Jesus said “even the demons believe”.  Passion and dedication can be demonstrated by anyone for anything.  But until you have experienced God loving you so deeply, and personally, that he cares to remake your life and give you purpose and peace…nothing compares.
  4. Something that seems obvious but has been missed was the simple answer that maybe these people were not religious originally, but felt it was unacceptable to be so, so they simply lied about it.
    1. Jesus told a story about seed planted on shallow, rocky, and good soil.  How deep is your love for God?  When the world is brought into your room, are you able to handle the challenges by turning to Him for guidance as to where you surf, and how/who you engage?
  5. The rise of the internet is enabling such a rapid spread of ideas that religion is evolving faster than new religious societies can emerge, faster than old religious societies can organize their members.
    1. If religion has to evolve in response to the Internet, was it untruthful or misrepresenting something in the first place?  Or was it a shallow tradition with no depth of relationship with God, and people got more excited by socializing online than socializing in a church club?  God’s church isn’t supposed to be this way – but I think any church should consider reaching out to Internet crowds just as we should be with the neighbors we meet in person.
  6. …the traditional Christian “gospel” is now preached almost exclusively in churches, where only those who are raised in the church are likely to hear it.
    1. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Alone with your thoughts…

Science magazine reports on the results of several studies:

In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more, and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts. Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative.

What is it about our own thoughts that could be so offensive?  We’ve built up so many distractions in our lives… is it a coping strategy to deal with our inability to handle the reality of who we (really) are and where our lives are heading?

God placed his Spirit in mankind when He created us.  He mentions that he has limited our lives to 120 years because He wanted a limit on how long his Spirit would contend with us.  One definition for “contend” is:  to strive in rivalry; compete

It’s not right that God should have to compete for our love.  It’s like asking how long you would tolerate living with a wife or husband who cheated on you.

So when we’re left alone with our thoughts, perhaps these are the moments when God’s Spirit begins to speak to us.  When Jesus went into the desert for 40 days, it was for that reason – to grow closer to God and establish his life direction.

I wonder what would happen if we bravely took time to talk with God for a period of time, to find out what we should do with our life?

Why can’t I find the right man or woman?

A few weeks ago, I was biking in a park.  I paused to let some other family member catch up, and overheard a small part of a discussion between a man and woman as they were walking on the same trail, and passed me where I waited.  The conversation went something like this:

(man) "You're a nice looking woman.  I'm sure the right man will come along."

(woman)  "The thing is, my generation is screwed up, and the next generation is f***** up."

That's quite an assessment of the past 2 generations – this woman was in her upper twenties.

The conversation reminded me of another one I heard years ago.  That woman was telling her friend that she was having a difficult time finding the right man.  I knew this woman a little, and that her search scope was pretty much limited to the bars she spent time at.  I like that the woman had the discernment to recognize a good man from a rotten one (or sadly, that she had experienced enough bad men to be discouraged).  But if you were shopping for an elegant mansion, would you usually start by looking in the slums?

But the twist on this article isn't that we're shopping for our man or woman in the wrong place – it's that our shopping location has already tagged us as the kind of people we are.  The places we find these bad candidates are OUR FAVORITE HAUNTS.  And worse, we're not content with someone who hangs out in these places – but that's what we're doing!  Really, we don't like who we are, nor what we're doing with our lives.

Poop draws flies.

So what are you going to do about yourself?

My personal experience is that I need help to turn my trajectory around.  I've been enduring who I am, and struggled with ME and progress isn't happening.  I've tried many tricks and techniques to fix myself, and it's not happening.  I need something incredibly powerful to fix this mess.

And that would be God.

Sometimes as you drive thru the slums, you come across a beautifully well-maintained home.  A lot of love and care is poured into that home, and it's striking how it contrasts with the homes around it.  This is like how God comes, when we ask, and moves into our beat-up life – showing us how much He loves us, and how he guides us to a better life – a better way.

Perhaps the man-hunt or woman-hunt can be put aside to let God reshape us, to become something other than the poop we now see.

What is pastoring in Africa like? The April report…

Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Saviour
This week was another sad week for us, yet another Pastor committed suicide
- while he did not live in our area he was known to many through
the Church Family. His death has sent shock waves through the Church.
IF ONLY – are words that are been expressed.
The finances of the Church were under investigation and accusations
had been levelled against the Pastor. The Church income had fallen by 45%
and the Church could not meet Budget.
The Pastor committed suicide but if only he had opened his Laptop Computer
and read his e-mails he would have read that the Audit of the Church Books
and the investigation into all the allegations had been completed and
found to be false and that he had been cleared of any wrongdoing but it was too late!
He was dead!

We are all under tremendous pressure -
The Platinum Mining Strike is entering its fourth month -
and is causing hardships throughout the country.
Imagine having no income for 3 months!
The Gold Mines are also been affected.
Mines in our area have once again retrenched workers.
Intimidation is rife and all the companies who supply the mines
 also have to lay off staff. Many Service industries that depend on
those working for local mines are also failing.
Most Churches are reeling because incomes are falling and the drain
on resources needed to help those in need are been depleted!
Our Church – while our Outreach has expanded – our income
also continues to fall and we have not been able to meet
basic fixed expenses for some time now.
 
For many people the Bible is a mere collection of pebbles -
profound sayings to be uttered on special occasions or
to be used as mere words of comfort in trying times -
To me and many other Believers however the Bible is a Solid Rock!
It is not only a firm Rock under our feet but it is our Anchor
and Daily Guide. It sustains us on our daily path through this life.

It has been my privilege honour to have preached the Word of God
as an Ordained Pastor since 1973. My ministry started as a Missionary among the Indian
Hindu Community in Natal and I have had the privilege to minister the Word of God
in all the Provinces of South Africa and to most of the Language groups,
often with the aid of an Interpreter. While I pastored the Pentecostal Protestant Church
in Cape Town it was also my privilege to Pastor a Portuguese Assembly of God Church
at the same time with the aid of an Interpreter for more than a year.
The Number of Weddings that I have solemnised and number of Funerals that I have conducted
with the aid of an Interpreter are too numerous to mention.
Today I still regard myself as a Missionary – I pastor a small Afrikaans speaking Church -
My home language and that of my Family is English while I minister mostly in Afrikaans
which I speak as a second language. All my Bible Study and Preaching material is prepared
first in English and then translated into Afrikaans.
For many years my wife helped me with the translations.

Often I have wondered if my Ministry would not have been more successful
if I had rather preached the Gospel in English, my Home language.
My Afrikaans pronunciations are often faulty, as is my grammar
and often the target of ridicule.
Today I had every reason to be despondent – our attendance was even
worse than normal with only a handful of people attending the local Church.
Our income a mere R110 and it is month end and all the Bills must be paid!
Despite this I rejoiced – The Claassen family have their roots in the Dutch
Anabaptist History of the Church and were known as “Jumpers” because of their style
of Worship! Today I joined my Ancestors and jumped with Joy!
The reason – While I was preaching the Word on the Radio early this morning,
I received a Text message out of Mecca, Saudi Arabia the very heart of Islam
from a South African working there, listening to our Afrikaans Broadcast via the Internet
on his Laptop Computer! God is faithful and His Word will never return void!
Yes it is a privilege to proclaim His word but I am constantly aware of
the responsibility whenever I say: Thus says the Lord!
Please continue to pray for this Ministry and that it will continue to bear good fruit!

This Ministry would however never have been possible without the support
and prayers of Family and Friends – Thank you for your love and continued
encouragement.
Yours in HIS Service
Cornelius

Pastor CSJ Claassen
PO Box 99
Welkom
South Africa
9460