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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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Without holiness… no one will see the Lord

Most years, while we are on vacation, the Holy Spirit graciously ‘gives’ me a bible verse for the year ahead. This year a strong and profound statement from Hebrews 12:14(b)

“Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.”

 For 2015 I was encouraged to forget the former things, that God was going to do something new in our country, did I not see it?…it has already begun, He was going to make a pathway in die wilderness en rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18+19)  It had a profound effect on my thinking about God’s plan for our country and the many challenges that lay ahead…and God did do something new…don’t you see it?…it is still happening.

For 2016 – I had to find my strength in quietness and confidence in the Lord. (Isaiah 30:15) and that it is weakness to be fretting and worrying, questioning and misunderstanding, rather than accepting in quietness and going forward in strength…and God did give me strength notwithstanding my own fears.

For 2017 I lifted my eyes to the hills, wondering where my help would come from in the year ahead and I realised that my help will only come from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven & Earth. (Ps 121:1+2) … and God did help me.

For the year ahead I realised that God wanted to take me to a new level when I read “Without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14b).  It came as a shock and I had to read, reread, meditate and think about this profound statement. If I call myself a Christian it is not just a quick statement or a game – it is a life-and-death matter and very, very serious. Having a profound FAITH in the Son of God for the forgiveness of all our sins should lead to a distinct and holy lifestyle.

Where do I stand?

I had to do a serious reality check on my own life – can I really say that I am leading a holy life?  Holy?…with my eyes, my thoughts, my words, my heart and my deeds? It starts by believing in the Son of God. Once we believe we are saved from sin and made holy by faith. Our faith grows by seeking God’s face on a daily basis. As I look back over my life I was encouraged by God’s promises and guidance to do things I would never have dreamt of doing – the Eduplex is one of the them and the Ear Institutes another. I had to overcome all my fears and be obedient to His promises and guidance. It was not easy, but it was exciting!

It took years of prayer, planning, tears and hard work. We did the possible and God did the impossible. But still, I can do all of this ‘for the Lord’ but where do I stand on the path of holiness? Am I making every effort to live in peace with all men; to see to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many; see that no one (yes, also me!) is sexually immoral (Hebrews 12:14-16.) Again I had to ask …”Am I faithful to my spouse with my eyes, my thoughts and my words?”

What do I listen to with my ears – am I part of negative or inappropriate talk? Is my heart and my mind really turned towards Jesus and do I take captive every thought (yes, especially questionable thoughts) and make it obedient to Christ? (2 Corinthians 10:5)

I trust that 2018 is going to be a blessed year as I try to obey on this journey called holiness – busying myself with God Things rather than Good Things.

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(This piece was such a blessing that I asked Gerhard Papenfus’ permission to place it on my blog. Trust it will also be a blessing to you. Nico)

Within the current South African political context we are constantly confronted with information which points to a very bleak future. The situation we find ourselves in, if not viewed from God’s perspective, will surely paralyse us.

I want to share with you two pieces from God’s word which steadfastly indicates that what is happening around us is no excuse for us to depart from that which God has called us to do.

In Matt. 24: 45 and 46 Jesus says the following: “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the Master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time. It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns”.

To God, no obstacle is big enough to serve as an excuse not to fulfill your purpose. That includes being a very small minority in a country with a very hostile government.

In the well known passage about the talents (Matt. 25: 14-30), the man who hid his talent because he ‘was afraid’, received no sympathy from the master. The message is clear: no matter what we might contemplate as a sufficient reason for not doing what we are called to do, living the ‘abundant life’ we are called to live, will stand up to Gods scrutiny.

Jesus has called us, chose us – regardless of what is happening around us – “to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last”! (John 15:16). Thus, God calls us to make the kind of contribution the enemy, in whatever form it presents itself, cannot interfere with. It is this ‘fruit’ which will feed the world; without which those in our sphere of influence will staff. We dare not withhold it.

Here’s the key, given to us in John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit: apart from me you can do nothing” – nothing! – whether in good times or in bad times.

Whilst not ignoring what is happening around us, let us value it for what it is; it is overwhelmingly incomparable to the indwelling Christ, the only source of abundant, powerful living.


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Take courage – it is but a season

I meet a lot of people on my travels, and many share their discouragement and stress. They see little or no  future for their family in our country. Some emigrate, others work on Plan B, C and even D. The advice of so-called financial ‘gurus’ is so pessimistic that I wonder why they have not left.

And yet, God says “Take courage…take courage and work, for I am with you” says the Lord Almighty…”don’t be afraid”.  (Haggai 2:4-5) The instruction is clear, take courage, work and don’t be afraid for the Lord is with us.

As nature has seasons, so a business, a country and life has seasons, and seasons don’t last. They come and they go and I am reminded that tough times don’t last, but tough people do. The work is not done on the mountaintop, it is done in the valley where it is tough and where we have to dig, and plant and sweat and hopefully harvest… and it is in the valley where our character gets shaped according to God’s plan, not on the mountain top. He never promised that it would be easy and yet, I constantly try to get away from the cold winter in the valley and long for sandy island beaches basking in the sun.

I cannot appreciate summer, if I have not experienced the cold of winter. Let me not trust in my own ability but let me trust and take courage in Jesus to also take me through this winter in my life. Therefore, let me not dwell on the past, “for I am doing 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 in the desert!” (Isaiah 43:18+19)

Let me take courage – it is but a season.

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Tick-tock, tick-tock…time is running out

Tick-tock   tick-tock

The opening scene of the Irish dance group – Lord of the Dance.

Tick-tock  tick-tock

You are forced to listen to the seconds slowly ticking away, one second at a time.

I am on my way to attend a second funeral in as many weeks. The one a young boy of 17, the other a lady of 88. Death knows no age.

Tick-tock   tick-tock

Look at the watch, yes, time is running out.

As the seconds tick away I was forced to think about my own life. Am I leading a life of significance, or am I still busy with the cares and the worries of the day? What is my definition of significance, the one thing we would all like? Surely there should only be one definition and not to each his own?

Significance comes from fulfilling the God-given purpose for which we are made.
(Os Hillman Today God is First Vol 1, Sept 5)

No matter whether I clean toilets for a living or build an empire – I am significant when I fulfil my God-given purpose. Therefore, no matter what your circumstance are, if you are busy fulfilling your God-given purpose, God will pour “rivers of living water” through you (John 7:38) and then your life will have significance. I cannot ask for more. Rivers of living water…to be a blessing and in turn be blessed.

I hear someone asking – “How do I know what my ‘God-given purpose’ is? Where do I start?”

The journey starts on our knees, seeking God’s face, building a relationship with Jesus first and foremost. And then, when we ask, He will answer us gladly and reveal to us the wisdom we all so desperately need and, through His wisdom, His purpose for our lives. (Read James 1:5)

I man walked up to me at the funeral, said I looked familiar, and then shared that he read my first book and his life was dramatically changed. He had to start over, doing things God’s way…and in the process becoming significant in God’s eyes.

Where do I stand?

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick… be encouraged, our Lord will not permit our departure from  this earth one second before our work is done. Let us live a life of significance, before our time is up.

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