Turnabout is a funny thing. It’s the essence of Christianity. The jargon tends to use “repent”, but the basic meaning is the same.

In the last 2 years our family life has undergone a turnabout. In a big way..

My wife was diagnosed with a terminal illness, I had to move from us earning in excess of R70000 per month to less than R10000, but with the same outgoings. Try it sometime – it cripples you financially. Our formerly reliable car has developed old age problems and started breaking down at inopportune moments. We have a family of 4 moved into our spare room in December who will be a family of 5 by the end of the week, and I get almost no downtime to decompress.

I’m a late-night person, technically, but it’s trying to balance that from the perspective of the chaos surrounding me that distresses me. I can’t find anything. My kitchen, which is filthy, is atrocious. I love the family, and they have accommodation from March, but a huge part of me wises they could stay. In the last 2 months they have grown immensely, and so have I. I’ve been a father to them (yikes) and a surrogate grandfather to their children. Their antics push back my time for myself, time to recharge. This weeked I’ll be travelling to Namibia to attend the funeral of a very dear lady, Mama, Rene’s grandmother. She’s doing ok under the circumstances, but our finances are totally skewed for February month end. I’m even cosidering dropping the level of medical cover I have to make it more affordable.

Our life got turned about.

In the last few days, Rene has sart saying if it can fall apart so easily, then we can see it turn around into God;s idea for our life.

The turnabout nature is exactly what God wants for us. Turning away from Satan and his wiles, submitting to God and seeing him flee from us like James describes. Capturing every thought and allowing God to have free reign in our lives allows us to live Free.

Living by God’s rules, making that turnabout into His Church family gives us freedom beyond our imagination. Allowing the Holy Spirit to set up His home in our heart allows the fruit of the spirit to grow. It allows us to move in ways impossible without. We can literally see the sick healed, the deaf hear, the blind see and the dead rise.

Freedom from death, freedom from debt, freedom from sickness. Restored relationship with God. There’s no guarantees on this issue though. I love my wife dearly, but that has opened me up to attack through her and the other people I care about. My best friend at work, an invaluable warrior in the Spirit has had her own battles to fight, some of the most vicious coming after she became my best friend, standing by me and supporting me. It’s the way Satan operates. His attacks on them break me down, try to force me to capitulate and sing his tune in place of the Glorious Worship God places in my heart.

Its not pretty befriending someone on the front line. In the first world war, there was a cameraderie between the soldiers which was cautious in many cases because they didn’t know if tomorrow they were going to be dead. In the great stories there is always a core group around the central character. Frodo has the Fellowship, Bilbo has the company of Thorin and his companions, Maximus is supported by the other Gladiators, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy fall into Narnia and Aslan has prepared an army for them. Even in TV shows you’d not expect it, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel surround themselves with a circle of friends who fight and are ready to die for the cause. Jack O’Neill has SG1 and Jack Bauer has CTU. It’s a hard life for the central character, they have their story and the result turns their lives around on an episode by episode basis, just as a reflection of what happens in the real world.

Turnaround, repentance, whatever you want to call it is essential to our walk. We must remember that we are part of the inner circle that walks with Jesus, and it’s an awesome existence. If we don’t meet resistance from Satan and his forces, it generally means we’re moving in the same direction!

Turn around, trust Christ and let Him give you True Freedom.

Shades of Grey

I was challenged recently by a close friend of my wife. I posted a comment on my facebook page I had believed to be quoted from Bill Cosby, and found I agreed with the majority of what was said, so I re-posted it.

I have discovered since that it was actually a quote from a US Senator in a 2009 blog (http://tartanmarine.blogspot.com/2009/02/robert.html)

The current version of the post talks of people who deliberately leech from Western society, taking advantage of the average tax-payer by deliberately changing their appearances to prevent them being offered employment, and an array of social issues, but also it speaks of Islam.

Now I’m not someone who generally sets out to offend people, although the meaning of “tact” and “subtle” are alien concepts to me. I speak my mind, and feel free to disagree with me as much as you wish – I have my opinions, I believe in Biblical principles, and if you don’t then it doesn’t mean we can’t be friends in the worldly sense, but you’re unlikely to be in my innermost circle.

I’m hardcore. I believe the Bible literally – in the original language meanings, not necessarily the English translations as they are only as accurate as the individual translator when a word has a plethora of uses or meanings. English is not the rich language it once was, and as a consequence some nuances from the original get lost in translation. My favourite example is when a friend who’d studied geology told me we were living in the seventh major geological era. I thought about it, and suddenly Genesis makes sense. Exchange the word “day” for the word “Era” and suddenly we have a very different picture of creation. An era can be thousands of years, some even more. But the seventh is still a work in progress – like us.

Back to literal. The quote offending my wife’s best friend objects to the liberal Western society putting up with watering down their societies by allowing Islamic places of worship and schools to be built, whilst the countries many of these people have fled from refuse to allow Christian places of Worship or educational facilities to be privately funded. Indeed a group in one country,  was prosecuted under a local Islamic “blasphemy” law ruling the use of “Allah” may only refer to Islam, no other deity. Fine with me, as I pray in the name of Jesus, but the local churches had printed a Bible in local colloquial language to teach the Gospel and had used “Allah” where in English “God” would have been used.

I’m not right-wing in most of my views, but I’m learning the value of principles. The Bible says we should let our Yes mean YES, and our no mean NO! Easy to say, but hard to do. Especially in a customer-service environment. Harder in a multi-cultured society like South Africa where individual beliefs are taken by many as sacrosanct.

I’m a firm believer that Jesus Christ is the Way, Truth and Life. I know nobody comes to God the Father unless they accept His sacrifice. My wife’s friend knows I believe this, so we generally don’t speak of our religions to maintain the peace for the sake of her friendship with my wife.

This time was different. I believe CS Lewis said something to the effect that the Truth of the Christian Message will always provoke a reaction one way or the other. In this case, it was opposition. Strong opposition.

My agreeing with the statement did not alter when I found out it wasn’t Bill Cosby who’d made it. My understanding of the statement stands, and I will not try to water down the message. I acknowledge that the teachings of Islam have been twisted into a weapon to attack the West, just as 1000 years ago the teachings of Christianity were twisted to justify the Crusades (Genghis Khan school of Evangelism). A fundamentally peaceful teaching used to break spirits and wills and force that religion down people’s throats.

Christianity is about absolutes. Jesus’ message wasn’t “be good and we’ll accept you, regardless of who you believe in”, it was clear: Believe in Jesus and accept His sacrifice made in your stead, or die. Through the entire Bible we see God say this, but follow it instantly with the instruction to choose life because He loves us.

I love and respect my wife’s friends who are not Christians. They are entitled to their opinion, and to make their own choices. But I refuse to compromise my faith to accommodate theirs. If we go to their home for a meal I am not offered a pork chop, but halal beef or chicken. No wine with the meal. Don’t get me wrong, the food is delicious, and they are wonderful hosts – I enjoy her family’s company enormously, but they will not eat at our home. I don’t have Halal cookware. My pots and pans and crockery have ham, bacon or pork on it or prepared in it once a week on average, in fact I have ham sandwiches most days for work. I did, at one point, have 2 braai/barbeque griddles, one for Halal meat (with paper plates) and one for non-halal foods. I don’t any more. It was a waste of space. If you enter my home and eat my food, it will most likely not be Halal.

I don’t expect our muslim friends to provide non-halal food to us. I disagree with the faith, but it’s an individual’s right to choose.

There’s no space for grey in God’s world. Grey isn’t one thing or the other. And it never can be anything but grey once the world gets hold of it. The Power of Words results in misunderstanding & miscommunication when they are taken out of context.

I, along with millions of Christians around the world, believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to relationship with God. It’s not rocket science. Biblical scripture declares it to be so, and I have an ongoing relationship with God through Jesus that sustains me. I make mistakes, but they will not result in me being cast out into Hell because I accept the Salvation of the sacrifice of Christ on my behalf. Anyone can.

But there’s no half measures in Christianity. Either you’re Christian or you’re not. Black or white.

There’s no room for grey.

What If…?

In the office next to mine they have a poster up that says “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”

I’ve seen it every day, more or less, for the last 18 months. Today a deeper question struck me as I was walking through the office.

I started asking myself “What if I took Jesus’ Words literally?”

What if I did? How would it change my way of living in this world?

The more I think about it, the more I realise how little I actually grasp of what Jesus said, and what the promises of God for our lives actually mean. Health, prosperity, the entire life of eternity in our hearts right now.

Imagine for a moment fulfilling the promises of God. Doing what Jesus did. Speaking His words. Thinking His thoughts. Living His life for us.

What if the Bible is true? What if chasing the trappings of this world is a distraction? What if the promotion, the car and the house are not permanent?

What if the only thing you can count on is this one book of stories written over thousands of years?

 I’m a Christian, anyone reading this blog can hardly not see that from my topics and writing (I hope)

What if I’m right? What if this world isn’t all there is? What if Allah is a false god? Or Shiva? Or Buddah?

What if Jesus is the only way to God?

What do you lose by believing in Christ and accepting His Love?

Think for a moment: What do you lose if I’m right?