What is Newsworthy in Heaven?

Every day we are bombarded by what the world deems newsworthy – politics, crime, corruption, entertainment, economics, sport, gossip and so forth. Every headline is a reminder of what is valuable on earth. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what matters here on terra firma; just pick up a newspaper, scroll the Web or switch on the telly. People’s careers or reputations are made or lost based on the worthiness of the news they generate.

Now here’s a noteworthy question, “What is newsworthy in Heaven?” or, “What will make headlines in the Celestial Star?”

Here is my unexhaustive list of news that will make the regular headlines in Heaven:

  1. Consistency in Your Walk With God

Job made the otherworldly news because of his righteous life. God speaks of Job when addressing Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him. He is a good, faithful man. He respects God and refuses to do evil.(Job 1:8 ERV)

When last have you seen a primetime news story of a faithful, godly man which goes about his business year in and year out? Well, if you are that faithful man, don’t despair, your story is getting airtime in the courts of angels.

2. Authentic Prayer

We see in the Throne Room of the Almighty that the prayers of the saints are like bowls of incense – releasing a fragrant smell in the presence of God (Revelations 5:1-14).

Do you hear of any old lady faithfully praying for the salvation of her grandson on our daily radio shows? Well, if you are that lady, don’t lose heart, your prayers are making waves in the Throne Room.

3. Ongoing Wickedness

When we break God’s moral code, we make the news in Heaven for all the wrong reasons. The times of Noah is an example to us, “When the LORD saw how wicked everyone on earth was and how evil their thoughts were all the time, he was sorry that he had ever made them and put them on the earth. He was so filled with regret that he said, ‘I will wipe out these people I have created, and also the animals and the birds, because I am sorry that I made any of them.’” (Genesis 6:5-7 GNB)

On earth sin is glamorized in the media, whereas the Celestial Star deems it high treason against God. Well, if you know that you accommodate wickedness in your life, I want to encourage you to run to God’s Throne of grace in order to plead for mercy. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9).

4. Spiritual Birth-Days

When God saves a person from eternal damnation, the story naturally hits the front page of the Divine Post. Jesus said, “I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (John 15:7 ESV)

Switch on your TV; do you see CNN celebrate the redemption of a lost soul by the blood of Christ? Well, if you are that soul, know that every cover page in Heaven have your face on it. And if you are spreading the good news that God is seeking lost souls, then you will surely make the 7 o’clock show up above.

I want to encourage you to search the Holy Writ for more stories that will make news in Heaven. Let us pray:

Heavenly Father of our spirits

Protect us, preserve us, prune us, perfect us

So that we will be radiant

Glowing with eternal light from the Son

Let people be drawn to You

Let nations lit up by the power of Your rays

So that every breathing cell, man and creature

Will Glorify, Magnify, Elevate and Promote

the KING of kings and LORD of lords!!!

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the long-awaited letter

The gravity of the post box is calling me. Even though most of my post is statements, general info  and advertisements, I regularly succumb to its tug. I continue to dream, “Maybe today….maybe I will receive a letter from a distant friend.” The feeling of holding a tailor-made letter in your hands is quite special.  We don’t open such a letter the way we’ll open a bill. Oh no, there’s no ripping of paper! We are careful in the manner we open it in order to ensure we don’t tear what’s inside.

When we read an ad, we scan it for information that will be of use for us, and then we discard it, or use it as a fire-starter.  However, a personal letter we treat somewhat differently. We explore it like a treasure hunter would explore a long-lost pearl. We read it silently, we read it aloud, we re-read it, and we read it in different accents (or maybe that’s just me).

Our Heavenly Father writes us such personal, hand-crafted letters! There five main ways in which He writes to us by the power of the Holy Spirit:

  1. Through Creation

“The heavens tell about the glory of God. The skies announce what his hands have made.

Each new day tells more of the story, and each night reveals more and more about God’s power. You cannot hear them say anything. They don’t make any sound we can hear.

But their message goes throughout the world. Their teaching reaches the ends of the earth.”                                                                                                                                   Psalm 19:1-4a (ERV)

  1. Through Jesus Christ

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14 (NIV)

  1. Through the Bible

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

Isaiah 40:8 (NIV)

  1. Through our Conscience

“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the LORD. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.                                                               Jeremiah 33:3 (NLT)

  1. Through Fellow Christians

“And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

II Corinthians 3:3 (ESV)

Now for the QUESTION I must ask myself, Do I cherish and value the letters God sends me, or do I treat it like junk mail?”

I must admit that I many times DO NOT treat God’s love letter to me with awe, excitement and respect. I value other words more than God’s Word.

Let us pray:

Father, please forgive me for my disregard of Your letters to me

I have been so busy to occupy my mind with mental noise –

radio, youtube, newspaper, tv, facebook, magazines, ipod, google

So many voices in my head, I can barely breathe

 

Breathe Your Spirit-Life into me

Cause me to LOVE Your Words –

Dripping with celestial honey from the Tree of Life

Help me to ACKNOWLEDGE Your letters to me

Help me to THANK You for every letter sent

Help me to RESPOND in obedience and faith to Your telegram of grace!

Amen

room temperature drinks

Who of you like lukewarm coffee on an icy winter’s day?  Or what about some warm water after exercising?  Don’t you agree, we like our coffee boiling hot and our water refreshingly cold.  And when it comes to the issues of the heart, we tend to follow the same principle.  There is nothing more frustrating for an employer, than to be stuck with an unenthusiastic employee.  Coaches do not tolerate mediocrity on the sports field.  Wives won’t settle for 70% or even 99% of her husband’s heart, no, she wants 100% or nothing.

Now, I have a question for you?  Do you think God is any different in this regard?   Do you think God is satisfied with our half-hearted commitment towards Him?  The logical answer is ‘no’, and the Biblical evidence supports that conclusion.  God proclaimed to His children through Moses:  “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians.  You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” (Exodus 19:4)

This picture of how God carried His people on eagles’ wings towards himself evokes the romantic warrior in me.  It looks like the script of an epic modern-day film.  The hero (God) destroys the antagonist (Egyptians) and rescues the girl (Israel).  God is not about to share His bride.  He rescued her.  He rescued us.  He rescued you.  God cannot be substituted.  He is the source of life and love.  When we substitute God with earthly sources of life and fulfillment, we fool ourselves and we provoke God to anger.

Listen how God responds to people who substitute Him for another: “They have roused my jealousy by worshipping things that are not God; they have provoked my anger with their useless idols.” (Deuteronomy 32:21) Moses warns the Israelites against idol worship because the ‘Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.’ (Deuteronomy 4:24) God is not jealous like we are jealous.

Steven Fry explains:  “The word ‘jealousy’ often carries a negative connotation.  Yet, when the Scripture speaks of God as a jealous God it means that He desires us in the purest, most relentless way.  His is a jealousy that humankind can never know; for God is the only one who has a right to be jealous, because He is the only one who is perfect in love.  His jealousy is not controlling – it is releasing.  Holy jealousy speaks of God’s passionate commitment to us.  It underscores the truth that God does not just love us because He has to, but because He wants to.   He is not moved to love us merely to maintain His own moral excellence, but because He desires us.  His jealousy is an absolute intolerance of anything that would divide our affection and thereby forfeit His best for us.”

Did you see that?  God desires us in the purest, most relentless way; not because He must, but because He wants to.  He gave the best He could in order to pursue this relationship with us.  He gave Himself, His life, His blood, His control, His power, His throne, His all, so that you and I can be reconciled to the divine relationship.

Let us respond likewise!

Father, thank You that You love us with a pure, relentless jealousy

Thank You that You are not a passive spectator in our lives

No, You are passionately pursuing our hearts every day

Forgive us for our lukewarm response

Set us alight with Your Heavenly fire!!!

 

my cent’s worth

Okay, so I’m two days late in adding my cent’s worth, but rather late than never. If I could give the youth of South Africa only one piece of advice, what would that be? What would I consider to be the most crucial nugget of knowledge that they must hear?

I presume the economist would say to the youth, “Don’t put your eggs into one basket.”  The militant would most probably warn, “Get the first the punch in, or you will be punched.”  I can hear the educator encourage his students, “Finish Grade 12.”  The humanist may say, “Look out for NUMBER ONE!” Or the politician will proclaim, “Whatever you do, stay in power.”

Well, to be honest, my nugget of advice is not even a cents worth. It is actually worth nothing. If it were my advice, I would have said stuff like, ‘Believe in yourself’…..‘Follow your heart’……….’Reach for the stars.’ It may sound quite inspiring, and it is the predominant advice we hear from popular culture, but there is only one little snag: It is NOT what God would tell us.

If God would come from His timeless reality, and walk right into our world, what would He tell us? According to Paul, the apostle, “Anyone who trusts in him (Jesus) will never be disappointed.” [Romans 10:11] What a statement! In other words, anyone who chooses NOT to trust in HIMSELF, or in MONEY, or in EDUCATION, or in earthly POWER, but in Christ, WILL NEVER BE DISAPPOINTED.

‘Never’ is a very long time without an end. If we choose to depend on God, and not ourselves, nor our connections, then God will ensure that we will not be put to shame for all of eternity. However, if we do choose to rely on the things mentioned above, then we will be disappointed when it comes to what really matters: ETERNITY.

Please don’t misunderstand me, education is important, politics is necessary and inspiration is needed. However, the problem comes when we start to rely on these things as a source of identity and ultimate satisfaction. The best these ‘things’ can do, is point to the ULTIMATE SATISFIER OF OUR SOULS – JESUS CHRIST. If they don’t lead my soul to drink from the Fount of God, then these things have become idols. And idolatry will always lead to slavery.

Let us pray:

I choose to depend on You, God.

You are the Fount of Life, You are the Source of Energy

You are the Satisfier of my soul, You are the ONLY Saviour

 

No matter my age – old, young, or in-between

Today, I decide to make You, Number One

Your value demands it, Your credentials deserve it

Lord Jesus Christ, I bow my knee before Your Holy Throne of Grace

Help me, Help me, Help me!

 

Photo: By Jeff Belmonte from Cuiabá, Brazil – Contando Dinheiro, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37232972 

I am a bucket

I am a bucket of terra firma

Made to be filled, Yet born full

Full of revolution and self-will

Tip me over everyday still

 

As container I want the shine

For the gold and water inside

“Look at me, Look at me!”

Whispers haughty vanity

 

Numerous sources to choose from:

Hose, shovel, hand, stream

I am slave of the breast I secure

Endless Fount, in this pot outpour

 

For each task an empty can needed

Yet highs and lows still cling

To my walls of insecurity

Endless Stream, flush me clean

Eagle Encounter

Today my daughter and I saw an eagle in our backyard. It perched on a telephone pole 20 meters away. I picked up my toddler, and pointed to the eagle, also fearing that the eagle would scout her as possible prey. We stood in awe for a few seconds beholding this magnificent bird of prey. And then…it flew away.

I’ve never seen an eagle in any backyard of mine…..ever. For about a half hour afterwards my heart was still captured with a sense of reverence. That feeling like something is pressing down on your heart. It’s not a bad feeling, but a bit scary. You know you’re in the presence of something great. It’s a moment that makes your soul stand still and take notice. The whole experience is engraved on your heart.

I’m not a bird watcher, so I don’t know what kind of eagle it was. But I do know just enough to distinguish a falcon/hawk from an eagle. This experience makes me think of all the saints of old who encountered the living God. Just like me, many of them were going about their daily business, not expecting or praying or even feeling ‘spiritual’. Abraham was returning from a military extraction operation when he encountered the priest of the Most High God (Genesis 14:14-24; Hebrews 7:1). Moses was tending sheep in the backwaters of the desert when he beheld the Consuming Fire (Exodus 3). Saul of Tarsus was on a murderous campaign when Christ walked into his life (Acts 9).

All these encounters with the Divine Trinity left these men and those un-mentioned, with a sense of awe. Many of them only heard of God before, but now their eyes saw Him. Just like me, who can’t give you much detail concerning the kind of eagle I saw, yet knew that I was in the presence of a magnificent bird, these men knew they were in the presence of the Everlasting. Something inside of them cried out, “Lord!”

Luke recounts how Saul reacted to the Damascus visitation: he was ‘trembling and astonished.’ If an encounter with Christ does not awaken the fear of God in us, then I suspect we did not encounter the Messiah of Nazareth. Authentic meetings with the Divine leads to a transformed and fruit-bearing life. Just think of the three examples above: Abraham decides to give 10% of all he owned to honour Melchizedek, Moses is used by God to deliver the Jews from Egypt and Saul becomes the greatest missionary church planter the church has ever seen.

One of the Creator’s splendid creatures left an indelible mark on my psyche today. I can just imagine what mark the Creator will leave on us in a real God-encounter. Let’s pray together.

Abba Father, you are truly magnificent and spectacular.

One glance of you grips my heart with awe,

The grace and grandeur and might and majesty of the eagle

left me pondering and still

A millions times more You leave me speechless, breathless, undone, dumbfounded

wretched, comforted, satisfied, encountered.

Help me to love you deeply in obedience

Every day make Your home with me: Father, Son and Spirit!

Will the Springbok and Protea save South Africa?

I am a great fan of sport! As a child I remember countless hours playing cricket, rugby, soccer, hockey, tennis and golf either at school level, or socially with family and friends. Sport teaches us so many valuable life principles like respect, teamwork, enjoyment, selflessness, physical health, discipline, hard work, commitment, patience, dealing with success and loss, etc.

Having said that, I have observed a worrying trend among some of South Africa’s professional sportsmen and politicians of late. These men are making promises that sport of no nature can deliver. Minister of Sport, Mr. Fikile Mbalula, made the following statement at the Commonwealth Bid being awarded to Durban for 2022, “Sport continues to unite South Africans, healing past wounds and creating a better future for all.” Our cricket captain, AB de Villiers, was talking to the media during the Cricket World Cup earlier this year, “There is also expectation from ourselves as well. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make a big difference, to make South Africa a better place. We are playing for the bigger picture tomorrow, not just for ourselves, it’s for the entire nation.”

I do admit that sport has the power to inspire people. We as South Africans are well aware of the impact of the Springboks winning the 1995 Rugby World Cup had on our young democracy. It has been well documented in the popular film Invictus, directed by Clint Eastwood. However, the effect that the World Cup and ‘Madiba Magic’ had on our country is one side of a many-faceted story. Our country experienced a miracle transitioning from an Apartheid Government to a Democracy. And we owe our gratitude to those who paid a price for our peace and unity – men, women, students, churches, activists, political prisoners, spiritual leaders, foreign nations, etc.

With the Rugby World Cup being in the headlines, I’ve heard similar claims from some Springbok personnel. Springbok coach, Heyneke Meyer, said the following after the Boks defeated Samao, “We really want to make the country proud. Our country needs a lot of hope and the Springboks are the hope of the country.” Some of these claims are worrisome for me as a follower of Jesus for two reasons.

  1. They are making claims that only God can fulfil, therefore deceiving themselves and the public.

For our sports minister to say that sport can ‘heal past wounds’ is quite naïve. He is not talking about physical wounds, but hurts to the soul of man. How can sport heal the soul of man? How can sport take a heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh? The Bible is clear that it is only God that can do such a miraculous act. God is speaking through the prophet Ezekiel, “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT)

Heyneke Meyer’s proclamation that the ‘Springboks are the hope of the country’ is even more disturbing. If that is the case, then every Springbok loss diminishes our hope, whereas every win increases our hope. A win by South Africa on the sports field will make us happy for a while, but eventually it wears off. The question is, “Will these sports teams or individuals cause everything to work together for the good of every single South African (Romans 8:28)? Will these sporting gods give us a wonderful hope and eternal comfort         (2 Thessalonians 2:16)?”

Do they have the power to perform what they promise? I think the resounding answer is ‘NO’.  The Christian believes that God is the Hope of the world. The Holy Scriptures are quite clear on this, In his (Jesus) name the nations will put their hope.” (Matthew 12:21)

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.” (Psalm 62:5)

As a spiritual leader, I would be arrogant to think that I can give people hope. The only thing I can do is to POINT people to Christ, the Hope of the World. The hope God has poured into me, I can share with others. “…If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15b NLT) Yet I would be deceived, and deceive others, to think that I can manufacture and reproduce hope. God is the SOURCE of HOPE for South Africans.

  1. They are putting undue pressure on themselves, and creating unrealistic expectations among the sporting public.

International sportsmen and women are under immense pressure to compete at the highest levels of their respective disciplines. Their performances are widely reported on the front and back pages of newspapers around the world. One missed tackle, or dropped catch, or mediocre game, or wrong decision by the referee, can alter the course of their careers. They can be dropped from the team, receive criticism from the public and media, and lose their income or endorsement deals.

Why would they add to these pressures an unrealistic endeavour which they don’t possess the means to fulfil? Why would they promise their fans something which they can’t deliver? Why do they take up a burden on their shoulders which they were not made to carry? Why do they presume to take the place of God in the lives of people through the statements they make?

I realize these are some confrontational questions! The reason I am confronting this line of thinking, is because the souls of men and women are at stake. God’s Word decrees that we must have NO other gods before us (Exodus 20:3-5). God is the only being able to fulfil our deepest needs. David says it so well in Psalm 16:11,

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence

                 and the pleasures of living with you forever.”

 May we ENJOY our sport, yet ENJOY our God even more. I leave you with this question, “Do you show more exuberance when Habana scores a try, or when you thank God for what He is doing in your life?” Let our bodies, minds, emotions, words, thoughts and actions SHOW that we LOVE God with everything we’ve got. (Matthew 22:34-40)

 

Sources:

http://www.sport24.co.za/OtherSport/South-Africa/Mbalula-Commonwealth-Games-will-be-a-success-20150902

http://www.sport24.co.za/Cricket/CricketWorldCup2015/AB-Were-playing-for-a-bigger-picture-20150323

http://www.supersport.com/rugby/springboks/news/150927/Boks_won_through_honesty_about_defeat