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The year behind..

It was an interesting year. A roller-coaster year. A year in which our family have experienced God’s grace and love in a very special way…with many lessons learnt.

The trouble the Holy Spirit went to while meeting me alone on the farm. Encouraging me from the book of Ezra to persevere and not give up. Guiding me to appoint an astute person in the New Year to help us in our company and lighten the load senior management is carrying.

Reminding me 3 days later that I should persevere even if the journey feels too hard or too slow by sending 3 tortoises across my path – one small, one medium size and one large – and then reading in my quiet time the day after that “…the voice of the turtle will be heard in our land” (Song of Solomon 2:12b). And then, after searching for 12 years, I finally saw the neighbours 2 rhino’s. Years of perseverance finally payed off – the only think I had to do was NOT give up.

The number of friends around me that are seriously ill feels like they are increasing more and more. Never have I spent so much time praying for the sick and begging Him for their healing. And Jesus answered “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)

And I begin to understand that great character is made not through luxurious living but through suffering (Streams in the Desert Des 2)…and walking uprightly in the process and to persevere in integrity, no matter what! We may be thought fools by fools if we are firm in our integrity; but in the place where judgement is infallible we shall be approved. (Spurgeon)

Come my friend, let us persevere and walk uprightly into the New Year, not giving up, but looking up with our eyes fixed on our Saviour, Jesus Christ our King, who’s ear is not too deaf to hear, nor his arm too short to help, while making the impossible, possible.

Thank you for journeying with me the past year. Thank you for your encouragement and comments on my blog and by mail – it is much appreciated.

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you over this Christmas period and throughout 2019 – while we remember that His grace is sufficient for you and me.

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Why Lord?

I came before the Lord this morning on my knees. I had so many questions.

Why Lord…is Anita struggling now for many years with her health?

Why Lord… don’t you just heal her? We have seen You touch her miraculously in many ways but why is she not completely healed Lord?

Why Lord…do I have so many friends and their families battling with ill health, cancer, strange diseases, depression, finances, businesses that just don’t want to get off the ground, cash flow, bankruptcy and a host of other problems?

Why Lord…have you allowed so many of my friends to die?

Why Lord? Why?…….

After my time in prayer and all my questions the first devotional I read was Streams in the Desert – 25 Sept (parts in brackets I added)

After The Frost

(Why have you forgotten me?)
Why go I mourning?
Ps 42:9

Canst thou answer this, believer? Canst thou find any reason why thou art so often mourning instead of rejoicing? Why yield to gloomy anticipations? Who told thee that the night would never end in day? Who told thee that the winter of thy discontent would proceed from frost to frost, from snow and ice, and hail, to deeper snow, and yet more heavy tempest of despair? Knowest thou not that day follows night, that flood comes after ebb, that spring and summer succeed winter? Hope thou then! Hope thou ever! for God fails thee not. —C. H. Spurgeon

My second devotional reading was from God Calling – 25 Sept

Come and Stay

Come to Me,
all who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

Come for rest, but stay for rest too. Stop all feverish haste and be calm and untroubled. Rest knows no fear. (1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love) Rest, and all you need to gain this rest is to come to Me (Jesus). So come.

I came to the Lord this morning burdened with many questions, and in turn He answered me and at the same time encouraged and uplifted me, giving me rest. All I had to do was come to Him.

So come.

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Consider carefully how you listen

4 November 1999 was a perfect summers evening in Cape Town. An important evening, the opening of our 3rd Ear Institute in Belville Cape Town. We had a marque tent in the parking area, a large number of guests attending, some from Switzerland, and wonderful local food and wines from the Swartland (the Malmesbury area where my grandfather and my mother’s brothers farmed nearly a hundred years ago).

That evening the dedication and opening of the Ear Institute was done by Rev Frank Retief (who later became Bishop). His reading was from Luke 8:18 where Jesus said “Therefore consider carefully how you listen.” What apt words to use during the dedication of an Ear Institute…I thought – ‘ear and listen’. Over the years the words lingered on-and-off in my mind and little did I know it would only get it’s full meaning nearly 20 years later.

Currently there is a lot of noise going on in our country. Words like ‘state capture’, ‘nationalisation’ and ‘expropriation without compensation’ create fear among many people of all races and some are emigrating for greener pastures. And yet, more and more I start hearing the words of Jesus “…consider carefully how you listen.

Do I listen with a ‘worldly ear’ to the politics of the day and endless negativity of the people around me or do I listen with my ‘spiritual ear’ embracing God’s promises for our country and all its people where He says “…forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I’m going to do! For I’m going to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Don’t you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness … and create rivers (for them) in the desert!
(Isaiah 43:18+19 Living Bible)
The question I constantly have to ask myself is…with which ear am I listening? And then I realise that all I can hold onto are God’s promises given to me over the years during my quiet time. His promises are steadfast and forever, so different from human promises that are broken or simply forgotten.

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. And in those days when you pray, I will listen. You will find me when you seek Me, if you look for Me in earnest.
(Jeremiah 29:11-13 Living Bible)

Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
(Isaiah 54:4+5 NIV)

This is the truth! All I have to do is consider carefully with which ear I listen.

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The three turtles

Following on from my previous blog (March 27) and my time on the farm where God encouraged me to PERSEVERE, I went back to the farm a few days later – this time with some of our senior Eduplex management.

We shared our challenges, frustrations and highlights and we discussed how King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20) handled his problem when he heard that a ‘vast army is marching against you from beyond the Dead Sea’. How he was badly shaken (panicked), then instructed the people to pray and the Holy Spirit then spoke through one of the people present and said they should prepare for war but that they would not need to fight ‘Take your places, stand quietly and see the incredible rescue operation God will perform for you….don’t be afraid or discouraged! Go out there tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!’

Over the years 2 Chronicles 20 helped me considerably when I felt ‘vast armies’ of problems were marching against me. I call it the seven “P’s” of 2 Chronicles 20 (that God gave us a miraculous answer to a specific problem the very next day based on this part is another story.)

  1. Problem – vast armies marching
  2. Panic – Jehoshaphat was deeply disturbed
  3. Prayer – got everybody together, shared the problem and prayed.
  4. Plan – God speaking through a bystander
  5. Prepare – they prepared for war and did not arrogantly just sit back
  6. Praise – they praised God for the victory even before the victory was given.
  7. Peace – after the victory they had peace.

We then went for a game drive. In the 13 years I have only seen 3 or 4 turtles on the farm. A small turtle crossed the road…and 400 meters further a bigger one and a short distance further another really big one. The biggest one I have ever seen on the farm.

I thought it to be interesting – nothing more. Little did I know that God had a message for me.
The next morning in my quiet time I read from one of my daily devotionals that quoted Song of Solomon 2:12 (the same verse that were read at the Royal Wedding!)

The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the signing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”

I was stunned. Can God be so personal? I clearly saw the Eduplex – the pre-school that started small, the primary school bigger and the large turtle depicting the high school and Eduplex Training Institute that will take the vision God gave me, (to make a difference in deaf education,) worldwide. I then Googled tortoise and saw it is a symbol of longevity, sturdiness, intelligence, prudence, multiplication (many eggs) and endurance (PERSEVERENCE!).

Finally I understood…sharing the vision of Eduplex will take time (maybe not even in my time) – all I need to do is do my part, endure and persevere, not give up, because it’s the last few yards that tell.

PS – I shared this story at a business meeting. The organiser’s wife sent him a message later in the day, without knowing about my ‘turtle talk’. “Look wat the children came home with today…”

Lord, thank you that you talk to us in so many wonderful ways. Through Your Word, other people, circumstances and also nature. Please open my eyes that I will not only see but also understand. Amen

Today is world turtle day. Read more here.

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“Take off your sandals, you are on holy ground.”

I have always found it interesting how the Holy Spirit ‘opens up’ pieces of Scripture or Daily Devotionals on a specific day when I need it most. Pieces that I have been reading for many years without ‘seeing’ the meaning or fully understanding it. One morning, while having my quiet time I read in different devotionals “Take time for prayer.” “Take time to be alone with Me.” “Spend more time alone with Me.” The next morning …“Make prayer a priority.” I have never seen all these messages from different devotionals so clearly.

I knew I had to go and spend time alone with God on the farm – I had to open my diary but I did not feel like going. I don’t like going to the farm alone…and yet I heard the words “Take time to be alone with Me.”

I drove out to the farm (196km) and after settling in I sat on the stoop and started praying for the many family and friends around me that were very sick. That evening I saw 7 bush baby’s crawling out of the garage, leaping into the trees. I have never seen 7, always just two or three.

Before sunrise the next morning I drove up to the highest point on the farm to have a coffee and a rusk and to pray at sunrise. Just as I became quiet I clearly heard the Holy Spirit’s say “Take off your sandals, you are on holy ground.” I was shocked and immediately obeyed and started praising the Lord while looking over the mountains as the sun rose praying Ps 212 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains, from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.” I had an amazing time in God’s company.

That afternoon I again sat on the stoop thinking of that morning, wondering what to do next. Can anything surpass that morning’s ‘high’? I heard …“read Ezra.” “Ezra?” I asked, what can be in Ezra was my thought (Ezra tells the story of the rebuilding of the Temple 90 years before Nehemiah came to rebuild Jerusalem’s city walls.) I was so encouraged by what God was about to reveal to me, not only from the verses but also from the footnotes in my Life Application Bible.

  • Ezra not only knew God’s Word, he believed and obeyed it.
  • God cares more about what we are than what we accomplish. Magnificent accomplishments decay and disappear. Do not be discouraged – your relationship with God is more important!
  • I need more times of celebration during significant events in my life – like when we completed the foundations of the Primary School (July 2006) and the last phase of the High School (June 2013).
  • Do not let circumstances or lack of encouragement slow you down. PERSEVERE! Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit says the Lord! Reminding me of Zachariah 4:6 that weaves like a golden thread through our school’s (Eduplex) history.

The last morning The Holy Spirit gave me a message for the way forward “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what God has promised.” (Hebrews 6:12) I need to sharpen up my daily quiet time and not buckle under the pressure. I have to persevere in faith and patience.

My reading that morning from ‘Streams in the Desert’ summarised the weekend “When the fire in your life is the hottest, stand still, for later on …it produces a harvest of blessings. (Heb 12:11) Sainthood finds its source in suffering. Remember, it requires eleven tons of pressure on a piano’s strings for it to be tuned.”

Nico – withstand the strain while being tuned…through faith, patience and perseverance. Don’t give up, it’s the last few yards that count!

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