New International Version (©2011) 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Some more Bible Verses relating to Building Each Other Up from the King James Version (KJV)
1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
1 Corinthians 14:26 – How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
Romans 14:19 – Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
Edifying – To instruct especially so as to encourage intellectual, moral, or spiritual improvement.
[Middle English edifien, from Old French edifier, from Late Latin aedificre, to instruct spiritually, from Latin, to build; seeedifice. Prior to building one another up we need to first recognize and affirm each other.
Recognize: Its incredible how many pastors are often unaware of how their preach was received or ‘how they did’ alot of the time they think they were waffling, yet God was stiring hearts and lives were changed. The same goes for the worship team. I have overheard our own team discussing how off key they thought they were, or that certain settings were off and it all just sounded wrong. Let them know when they were rocking it, when they were moving us to worship.
We need to recognize one another’s good works, appreciate how hard they have worked or practiced and then we have to recognize that is is Jesus within them leading them to do these good works for him.
Affirm: once you realise this you will be aware of mans frailty of his self doubt and his insecurities. Here is where you have to be sensitive to these men, build them up, encourage them. Try send the pastor or worship leader an email letting them know that they are appreciated and that they are being effective for his Kingdom.
At the same time you will become aware of a real annointing over someone, on Gods clear purpose being unravelled through them. He chooses the least among us to ensure that we recognize it is all through his power not not our own. Most of the disciples were plain fishermen, Matthew was a tax collector. You are more able to encourage and build them up when you realise it is Gods will that they are carrying forward. Pray for your leaders, thank God for using them and you.
Ephesians 4:11-16 – And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers Finally just remember, we are one team, one body we need to spur each other on.
This dude is amazing! His attitude is just brilliant. This is one of the most moving testimonies about how God can fix what is really broken in/with you and use you for his purpose.
My name is Nick Vujicic and I am thankful to have been born 30 years ago with no arms and no legs. I won’t pretend my life is easy, but through the love of my parents, loved ones, and faith in God, I have overcome my adversity and my life is now filled with joy and purpose. I reside now in California with my wife, Kanae, and we both love seeing people’s lives changed for the better or touched in some way. It is my hope that your life is positively impacted by my story.
I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, and it was a shock to my parents that I arrived without limbs. There is no medical reason for it. My parents did their very best to keep me in the mainstream school system and give me every opportunity to live to the fullest. I was blessed to have a brother and a sister as my best friends too.
We later moved to Brisbane, Australia, where I lived for 14 years before I made the move to California. At age eight, I could not see a bright future ahead and I became depressed. When I was ten years old, I decided to end my life by drowning myself in a bathtub. After a couple attempts, I realized that I did not want to leave my loved ones with the burden and guilt that would result from my suicide. I could not do that to them.
I wasn’t depressed my entire childhood, but I did have ups and downs. At age thirteen I hurt my foot, which I use for many things like typing, writing and swimming. That injury made me realize that I need to be more thankful for my abilities and less focused on my disabilities.
When I was fifteen years old, I sealed my faith in God and from there it has been an amazing journey.
A janitor at my high school inspired me to start speaking about my faith and overcoming adversity when I was seventeen. I spoke only a dozen times to very small groups over the next two years. Then I found myself in front of three hundred sophomore (grade 10) students and I was very nervous. My knees were shaking. Within the first three minutes of my talk, half the girls were crying, and most of the boys were struggling to hold their emotions together. One girl in particular was sobbing very hard. We all looked at her and she put her hand up. She said, “I am so sorry to interrupt, but can I come up and hug you?”
She came hugged me in front of everyone, and whispered in my ear, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. No one has ever told me that they loved me and that I am beautiful the way I am.”
Her gratitude inspired me to go across 44 countries and speak 2,000 times. I realized that we all need love and hope and that I was in a unique position to share that with people around the world.
While majoring in both accounting and financial planning at a university, I also worked on developing my abilities as a speaker. I worked with a speaking coach who helped to cultivate me as a presenter. He especially worked on my body language as my hands flew everywhere at first!
I spoke on motivational topics after creating the company, attitude is altitude. I also launched a non-profit ministry, life without limbs, to spread my messages of faith and hope around the world.
Whoever you are, wherever you’re from and whatever you are dealing with, I hope that you will be inspired by my story and my message. Please enjoy browsing around this website where I share with you my thoughts on faith, hope and love to encourage you and to help you overcome your own challenges.
Dream big my friend and never give up. We all make mistakes, but none of us are mistakes. Take one day at a time. Embrace the positive attitudes, perspectives, principles and truths I share, and you too will overcome.
New International Version (NIV)
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
You are no accident, it says in the bible that you were knitted together whilst you were still in your mother womb – Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother?s womb. (NIV Bible)
God has placed special talents and skills in everyone of us. But many wander lost trying to find their calling and wasting their true talents. I don’t believe necessarily that your true calling or talent may even mean that it should be your career. I believe we are definitely called to work as it says in 2 Thessalonians 3:10
10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
But our God given talent or calling might be something we do after work or even whilst at work but not part of our job or maybe on weekends or perhaps we do totally give up our ‘career’ and fulfill his purpose.
There is an old expression that states, “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good.” Clever and catchy cliché, isn’t it? The only problem is that these words are unbiblical. The Bible says, “Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col 3:2). Contrary to popular opinion, being heavenly minded always inspires us to be more earthly good. Thus, our goal as Christians must be to set our minds on things above and faithfully serve the Lord.
I love the quote from the movie ‘Into the Wild’ where Alexander Supertramp says “Careers are a 20th century invention and I don’t want one.”
I read a book a few years ago that had a very big impact on my life. I don’t agree with everything in the book but I do love the guys heart and his way with words – “A man’s calling is written on his true heart, and he discovers it when he enters the frontier of his deep desires.” ― John Eldredge from the book Wild at Heart
He goes on to say – “If you had permission to do what you really want to do, what would you do? Don’t ask how; that will cut your desire off at the knees. How is never the right question; how is a faithless question. How is God’s department. He is asking you what. What is written in your heart? What makes you come alive? If you could do what you’ve always wanted to do, what would it be? You see, a man’s calling is written on his true heart, and he discovers it when he enters the frontier of his deep desires.” — John Eldredge, Wild at Heart
Take some time, go for a walk, remember back to when you were in school or just starting out in your ‘career’ what was it that made you come alive/ What is it that gets you excited?Where and how can/are you going to make a difference. Do it!
I came across a good blog recently about turning your interests into your carreer –
New International Version (©2011) And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
The Creator – The Alpha and Omega
Even if you don’t know him, he knows you. God has your address & phone number, he sees your whole facebook & it says that he even knows the number of hairs on your head.
To find out more about him, I recommend this site: http://y-jesus.com/ It addresses the historical facts surrounding the existence of Jesus but it also very adequately explores the resulting importance of why this matters to us on a personal level.
“Regardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western culture for almost twenty centuries.” ~ Jaroslav Pelikan, historian
He wants it all! Your whole life, your every action and re-action. This means your job, family and all your money! In the old testament tithing was part of the law, and as the word itself means, you were expected to tithe 10% of your salary to the church. The new covenant doesn’t require you to tithe 10% but rather give him everything. A bit extreme? Not really where did it all come from to begin with? Equally God doesn’t want us on Sunday mornings only, he wants to be involved in our entire lives. Give him your weekends, your job your marriage, your relationships – your life.
I think that sometimes it is more difficult to control our attitudes than our actions and words. People can pick up on a bad attitude. Grumbling in the work place, dragging your feet when your wife or your coach asks you to do something.
This verse for me also means having a Good Attitude, as a Christ follower you should be the most enthusiatic person at work or in the team. Willing to work or push harder than anyone else and do it with a smile on your face.
Enthusiasm originally meant inspiration or possession by a divine afflatus or by the presence of a god at that stage they were reffering to Greek Gods but the similie I am trying to draw is that as a believer, someone within who Christ dwells we should be enthusiatic and much much more.
We should be filled with the fruits of the spirit – Galatians 5:22-23 New International Version (NIV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Arguing - this is one I have had to fight against all my life! Guess what you don’t always have to be right, EVEN IF YOU ARE.
Drop it, hold your tongue, do not correct, interrupt unnecessarily, prove your point or get your way. In a team, marriage or business partnership try put the outcome or the other parties in the relationship before you.
2 Timothy 2:24 (NIV)
24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
Colossians 3:17 – New Living Translation (©2007)
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
I like the ‘New Living Translation’ here! It takes it to whole other level. More than just ‘being a good little Christian’ and doing everything for God. ‘Representative’ in this verse is bordering on scary, their is a reverence all of a sudden. It is a far more daunting and big deal to be representing God whether it be in the work place or at school be mindful of who you represent. At the same time you can also feel warm and proud! Represent God in all things that you do.
1 Corinthians 10:31
New International Version (NIV)
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
The Good News, Life is easier when you life for him with him. There is no greater comforter, there is no greater joy than living out Gods purpose in your life. He placed a deep desire in your heart and if you follow it ‘Colossians 3:17′ is not so difficult to do!
I don’t like cricket i love it,
it has always been my favourite sport. There is a real battle that takes place, especially in test cricket over 5 days. Recently in 2003 the ECB(English cricket Board) introduced Twenty 20 cricket, an abbreviated form of the game. It takes place over 3 hours and each team bats for 20 overs. Even shorter than the one day internationals played over 50 overs. In 50 over cricket teams have been progressively scoring more and more runs and at a quicker pace, some of you might remember the amazing game in which Australia broke the record and scored 434 (first time a team scored more than 400 in 50 overs) and immediately South africa managed to chase it down and won the match scoring 438.
Not even 20 years before that at South Africa’s first world cup you could say that 230 was a winning score. Pakistan won the final of th e1992 world cup scoring 249 from their 50 overs and bowling England out for 227 in the 49th over.
Now fast forward to this years IPL 20/20 tournament and the scores are just amazing – 263 for 5 wkts by Royal Challengers Bangalore against Pune Warriors in 20 overs and several other teams have also surpassed the 200 mark in 20 overs. Sri Lanka also scored 260 for 6 wkts in international cricket.
Now some will argue that the players are much better but I am not so sure. They play more cricket definitely but they haven’t advanced as much as the scores have. Some say it’s the bats and that may also account for a 5-10% improvement but again there must be more at play.
In changing and shortening the format they have ‘moved the goal posts’ . What was once unachievable has become the normal standard and who knows where they could move to as more players start to adjust their games and mindsets.
I would imagine that my point is clear by now but lets expand on this a little bit more. Imagine a player, lets say the best player from the world cup 1992 was suddenly transported through time and found himself next in to bat with India needing 200 runs off 20 overs. He wouldn’t have bothered to go out and bat!
Don’t let your boundaries be defined for you by society. The ‘world’ puts up fences and ceilings to restrain you, to keep you quiet and to keep you from living out your purpose and being effective for God. Remember through him All things are possible! I believe that applies to the cricket field as much as it applies to our work scenarios and especially to life and Gods mission.
Throughout this site you will find extraordinary examples of men and women who have refused to be confined in the fences or ceilings that the world has put on them. http://www.encouraged.co.za/?cat=3
A friend did a preach on living beyond your ceilings, I will try see if I can find a link for it.
Some practical examples of ‘ Who moved my goal posts’
- One of the strangest things I have noticed with many people I have known, is their inability to live within their means, As soon as their salary increases so to, do their expenses and they just never have enough?! New International Version (©2011) Luke 16:10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
- I have a friend whose name I won’t mention and until recently they were very happy at work. Someone made a miscalculation and it would appear that they have all had the wrong targets for the past year (and they have been achieving them) Obviously the targets have since been adjusted and speaking with him it seems there is a lot grumbling around the sales office. He indicated that it is now impossible and would take a miracle to achieve target. Now without being insensitive to him or anyone else at the company, I actually have it on good authority that it is not really that difficult and in fact most of them (not my friend) are just lazy or lets rather say complacent. They became accustomed to reaching target without too much effort and they are not making the mental adjustment. I have tried to stress to my friend that an interesting/amazing opportunity now exists. ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’ As Christians we should not grumble, we should stand out, work harder, push further and moan less. The outcome is he has the chance to be the first to make the new target(not just one of many who were making target) the recognition could result in being fast tracked for management….?
- The Grass is greener where you water it! This one is personal and was said to me recently by a friend in Australia when i was asking what it was like over there. I love to travel and have seen a bit of the world. I have experienced the differences between 1st world and 3rd world, of our 40% unemployment to Australia’s 0.5% in Queensland. Yet I have to remind myself and re-fresh myself with Gods word that no matter the circumstance or challenge or situation I will trust in him.Our practical interpretation of this cute quote is to daily water our lives with Gods word. It is not easy but it works. There is no better way to start the day and give it to him first by reading his word and praying together with my wife.
- Who moved my cheese? Similar to our goal posts, their is a awesome book called ‘Who moved my cheese’ which helps prepare you to deal with change which is inevitable anyways. http://www.spencerjohnson.com/Book-WhoMovedMyCheese.html
A little bit of nostalgia – my favourite moment from the 1992 Cricket World cup
I have been asked a few times why I am a Christian, why do I believe in all this stuff. Do I need some kind of a crutch?
The simple answer is – for peace
Now I am not talking about that liberal hippy kind of ‘peace’ but more about an inner comfort, a filling of the hole deep inside of me, real no worries at all kind of peace. The only thing that makes me feel like everything will be ok is God.
Matthew 11:28-30 New International Version (NIV) 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I lived in Australia for a little more than a year and had the opportunity to drive all the way up the East Coast and spend a lot of time on the Australian beaches. We worked a bit along the way and had a BBQ almost every evening. You could say we really experienced what this Australian No Worrries way of life was all about. It is real, it is somewhat peaceful, not to worry about finding work or about crime. But it isn’t permanent even with things going well it didn’t take long until we were searching for something to make us feel better I started reading the bible and began the journey of discovering who God was, my mate I was traveling with also started reading, but all about Budha and found some peace and answers but just like the no worries Australian lifestyle, it was also only temporary. Gods peace is permanent but it doesn’t mean you won’t sometime forget that it is.
At times troubles do come our way and it is natural to occasionaly or sometimes even frequently feel stressed or worried. I found this verse in Philippians 4:4-9 quite helpful, I hope you do to…
The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
God’s answer for us.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true,
whatever is honorable,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is of good report,
if there is any excellence
and if anything worthy of praise,
let your mind dwell on these things.
Our pastor also did an awesome Preach on worrying, and in it he said to be a warrior not a worrier.
Below are his sermon notes –
Two businessmen were talking about the economic recession. Jack said, “I’m about to lose my job, and our house is in foreclosure – but I don’t worry about it. Bob, his friend, asked “How can you not be worried?” Jack answered, “I’ve hired a professional worrier. He does all my worrying for me. That way I don’t have to think about it!” Bob replied, “That’s a fantastic idea. How much does it cost to hire a professional worrier?” “R250 000 a year,” Jack answered. “R250 000! Where are you going to get that kind of money? Jack replied, ‘I don’t know. That’s his worry!”
Turn with me in your Bibles to: Matt 6:25-34
– Combination of wisdom and compassion – He knows the heart of man
He knows we’re ready to reject the warnings of worldliness with the argument that we cannot help being anxious about the things of this life
ILL: YES Tony it’s so easy for you to say ‘don’t worry’
– you don’t know what I have to deal with and you don’t know what’s happening on my life – I have to provide for my family and in these days it’s not that easy – things are expensive and it’s tough out there – you wouldn’t really know as a pastor – “oh really?!!!!!”
Jesus foresaw these arguments and gives us an answer here in this scripture
WORRY – Oxford – a thing that causes anxiety or disturbs tranquillity, disturbed state of mind
Worry comes from the old English word meaning – ‘to choke or strangle’
Opposite – PEACE / FAITH
William Backus – “No drug will rid our lives of anxiety, no psycho-therapy can take it away, and no religion will cause it to vanish like the morning dew. Anxiety remains part of life. You have it because you are a human being existing between time and eternity, surrounded from cradle to grave with what the ancient prayer describes as ‘so many and so great dangers’. The good news about anxiety is that there is a way to deal with it in faith, so as to make the most of it, diminish its power, and find your way through it. If you are willing to stop adding to the problem by seeking every which way to escape and avoid anxiety, if you are willing to let your faith become activated and to follow it straight ahead into your fear, you can discover how to ease and reduce anxiety, and even use it to become the person God wants you to be.”
1. He refuses to allow us to keep up an anxious spirit about the things of this world
– 4 times He says to not worry/anxious about: LIFE, FOOD, CLOTHING, TOMORROW (glad He said nothing about shoes!)
– don’t be over careful – don’t be over anxious – prudent provision for the future is right – strangling, self tormenting, choking anxiety is harmful
Worry is UNREASONABLE – to worry about something you can’t change is USELESS – to worry about something you can change is STUPID
“Don’t worry about the clothes you need. Life is more important than the clothes we wear.”
2. He reminds us of the providential care that God continually takes of everything that He has created
– has God given you life??????? surely He won’t let us live without giving us the basics – has He given us our bodies???? surely He will not let us die for want of clothes
He takes care of everything!!!!
When we worry – we believe God can’t take care of us – UNBELIEF IS A SIN
Birds don’t worry but God takes care of them. Don’t you realize that you’re more valuable to God than mere birds?
3. He points out the uselessness of over-anxiety
– our lives are entirely in God’s hands – all the worry in the world will not make us live a minute beyond the time He has appointed – we will not die till our work is done
Worry is something we have LEARNED to do: no such thing as a born worrier
– from experience: mistakes, failures, unfulfilled expectations – learnt the habit of worrying – from examples: around us. Studies have shown that children pick up their peasants worries. Anxious parents raise anxious children
Good news! It can be unlearned!
Worry is UNHELPFUL!!!!
V 27 “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
4. He sends us to the birds of the air for instruction – we can learn from them
– they make no provision for the future
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
– they literally live from day to day on what they pick up, using the instinct God has put in them
Of course they are busy ‘picking up’ – WORKING, BEING PRODUCTIVE
ILL: Problem I’ve often seen: People complain that God isn’t providing but they are doing NOTHING. No work! “Did you go to the WIMPY to see if you could work there?” NO?????
One chap I know turned down a job because they weren’t paying enough – 6 months later he still sits without a job and is complaining ????? GO FIGURE
I think what they teach us here is that if any man is doing what God has CALLED him to do he will never fall into poverty.
5. He tells us to observe the flowers of the field
Year after year they are dressed in the most beautiful colors without any labour or striving
v28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
He clothes them with beauty every season!
THE SAME GOD IS THE FATHER OF ALL BELIEVERS
Why do we so doubt that He will provide for us when we see how He looks after the flowers of the valley
ILL: observation – chap runs around outside Fourways Gardens – never seen him without clothes
6. He offers us a gracious promise, as a remedy against an anxious spirit
He assures us that if we SEEK FIRST His Kingdom EVERYTHING that we really need in this world will be given to us.
Psalm 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
SEEK FIRST – DO WE REALLY SEEK HIS KINGDOM FIRST?????????
Often we seek everything else first and then His kingdom – SICKNESS – catch my self seeking doctors, medicine etc and then we think of praying and asking Jesus
Worry is UNNECESSARY!!!! ‘God PROMISES that He will take care of us”
CONCLUSION – HOW WE OVERCOME WORRY:
1. WE TRUST GOD WITH EVERY AREA OF OUR LIVES – SEEK 1ST HIS KINGDOM
2. LIVE ONE DAY AT A TIME
Jesus concludes with one of the wisest sayings ever:
34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
– we are not to be consumed by cares before they come
– let us attend to today’s business; leave tomorrows worries for tomorrow
We don’t even know what will happen tomorrow!!!
We can be ASSURED of this: that if tomorrow brings a cross, He who sends it, can and will send grace to bear it
– Half our miseries come from things that we worry will come upon us – and half the things we expect to come upon us, don’t!!!!!!!!!!!
3. TALK TO GOD
Phil 4:6-8 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
This we can be sure of, that David’s words are true:
Ps 37:25 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.
By Tony Sivewright
Keep on Keeping on
I was blessed to grow up in a loving Christian home. Both my parents had committed their lives to the full-time ministry of serving God and His people. Our little family, my parents, my elder sister Johanni, younger sister Steffani and I were instructed in the Way of the Lord – always placing Him first. We were taught the Word of God from an early age – learning it verse by verse and reciting it to guests visiting our home. We were basking in the love of the Lord and I felt blessed, and at a young age was starting to comprehend the Father’s Heart for His children here on earth.
In primary school I excelled at both academics and sport. I was a happy child and was experiencing God’s true blessings in my life. My parents loved each other and protected and challenged us on every level – always offering their support and motivation. My father instilled a strong champion spirit within us, teaching us to believe that we are winners and always motivating us by saying: “The best is yet to come. That is what God wants for you – the BEST, to PROSPER”. My mother taught us the art of survival – to live with endurance and perseverance. She taught us diligence and nurtured a fighter’s spirit within each one of us – never to give up in challenging times and to have patience and perseverance. When I went to high school things started to change. I was going through the typical changes a teenage boy experiences – wanting to impress the girls but feeling insecure, looking terribly out of proportion with extra large ears and feet and experiencing problems with my skin. I didn’t play for the A-team, and wasn’t very popular. A good thing was that my attitude was right and I always participated in as many events as I could, knowing through what I had been taught that hard work and a good attitude is what pulls you through.
My parents were going through a crisis in their marriage and it became evident that my pretty picture of home was going to change. At the age 15 my parents chose to get a divorce. I was asking more and more questions about life and God – especially how a loving God could allow this to happen. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do families get separated? I realised only later that this isn’t Gods plan, but we live and die by the decisions we make. In Deutoronomy 30 God says: “I lay before you life and death, blessing and cursing, so choose life..” Yet alot of times we blame God for the decisions we make.
This was a very big blow to my world. My picture of family was shattered – no more family holidays or Christmas’s together. The security I’d known until that point was plucked out from under me. Through this pain I made a decision that one day I would make a success of my marriage and I would learn from the mistakes my parents had made.
You also have to make that decision… its not good enough to say because your parents did it, that’s why you are doing it, you’re better than that! Turn your pain around. Learn from it. You can do it!
Instead of seeking God in all of my pain I found consolation with my friends and became more and more influenced by the group. Peer pressure, like what people thought of me, trying to be someone else, brought about a lifestyle of self-centeredness. I was always in pursuit of acceptance and acknowledgement, but ironically only feeding the void in your soul, being empty when I was alone.
I was living with my mother and two sisters and as a family we were going through some really challenging times. My elder sister Johanni was a full-time law student. Myself and Steffani were both still at high school. At 40 years old, having been a stay-at-home mom, my mother decided to study a degree in law in pursuit of her independence and financial freedom.
This was adding a lot of pressure to our situation and financially we were struggling to make ends meet. I remember a time I invited friends over to our house, advising them that they could only visit our home, but could not eat there because we did not have enough money for food to entertain our guests. It was during this time that my sister Johanni, 22 years old at the time and in her final year of LLB, fell pregnant with her long-time boyfriend. This was another blow to my understanding of life and family. A family so committed to serving God? What would everyone say? How would this look to the world? Our core moral values were in question. Johanni was faced with the choice so many women in her situation are faced with – the question of having an abortion. This proved to be the easy way out. In our home we were taught that the pain of discipline is worth more than the pain of shame. Taking responsibility was the right thing to do – it would bring forth fruit in the long run.
Johanni chose to take responsibility for her actions and not to give up, but to follow through with the pregnancy. God blessed her with a beautiful baby girl called Milla two weeks before her final LLB Law exam. Milla was a miracle and came to us in such a difficult time. Today we cannot imagine our lives without this little princess. Now she’s 7 years old and a bundle of life-giving joy!
My father taught us that if we continue doing the same things that other people were doing we would never be different. I wanted to be different. God blessed me with sporting talent. In this difficult time I chose to be different and make a few major decisions. I wanted to be the fastest, the strongest and the best at what I did. When my father was young he was a prominent sports figure in South Africa, excelling at athletics and rugby. I had the blessing of inheriting these genes. Yet, talent is never enough. My father had taught me that the seeds of discipline and sacrifice needed to be sown for the harvest of success to come in. I had to make a commitment. It was the only thing I was sure of in my life. I was motivated by the quote: “Success is not the blaze of sudden glory won, it is the effort adding up of strong work done.” I was in gym every morning at 5am, playing rugby after school, choir in the evenings and then there was the academics. This was such a busy time, but before I knew it I was in Grade 12 and I had grown from a small out of proportion teen to a tall, strong and fast young man. I started reaping the rewards of those disciplined decisions. Not partying when my friends did and training when they didn’t . I was No 1 in South Africa in discus, I was No 3 in shotput U20, and qualified for the World Junior Athletics Championships. I was chosen to captain the Blue Bulls at Craven Week and I was excelling at my rugby. I was confronted with a choice to pursue a professional career in sport and chose rugby.
After high school I signed a contract with the Blue Bulls and was given a full bursary to study at the University of Pretoria. This was awesome and I was experiencing financial independence I wasn’t accustomed to because of my contract. In my first year I was chosen for the SA U19 side and the media started paying attention to me. I was labelled the next big thing in South African rugby. I was experiencing the honor of man and I was riding this wave of glory. However, at the World Championships the unexpected happened when I broke my arm. The break was bad and the injury would initially keep me sidelined for at least two months. My mind was filled with so many questions. This was supposed to be my time and my breakthrough after everything I had invested. Why me Lord? Why now? My gran shared the Bible verse from John 13:7 with me, and I would only later fully understand it’s relevance. God has a plan with everything.
My arm did not heal in the expected time and I ended up not playing for 10 months. My thinking at the time was that it was a great time to commit to my studies, but it turned out to be the perfect excuse for a party. I was young and started hanging out in all the clubs, drinking and slowly losing my focus that had previously driven me to succeed. I was in a very bad space. My dad kept motivating me by saying I had to remain positive and that the best was yet to come. By the end of 2004 I had no goals and no motivation, and was totally unfocussed. On top of all this my arm refused to heal. It was at this time I believed things could not get any worse. I was so wrong. I got the shocking news that my father had a heart attack and had died at the age of 53. How sudden! How could this be? Lord this is too much! Why now? I need my dad, my father, my mentor… But God had a divine plan…
I was immediately confronted with questions of my life, mortality and eternity. This was the moment my life changed. I knew that I desperately needed to get my life right with God. I started asking what the goal of my life was and chasing God’s plan. I was not sure of what would happen to me if I died. I needed to connect with God and make a few radical decisions for what I believed. My father had been the cornerstone of my security. He was my foundation, my protector, my guide. My dad called himself the “Groot Leeu” – he was 6 ft 4 and had an awesome aura around him. He had a fantastic sense of humour, was multi-talented, played the piano and guitar, wrote the most incredible letters, always sent us motivational texts and was always inspiring us. He believed in me and raised his children for one great goal – to do great things for the Kingdom of God. My father taught us to always be the best you can be and wrote each one of us a song when we were little. Mine went something like this: “My naam is Ouboet en ek is my pa se bul. Ek is nog maar baie klein, maar Loftus gaan nog brul. Al wil ek nooit aan die lag kom nie en almal se ek is nors bly ek nog die baas, met “Big shot” op my bors…”
My dad spoke prophetically into our lives from a young age. I will never forget the simple truths he taught me – always be humble and friendly with everyone. They say when a father dies the son becomes a man. The “Groot Leeu” (Big lion) was gone and the “Klein Leeu” (Small lion) had to take his place. God started sending people into my life, sharing His love and relating their life stories and that it was time for me to make a decision for Him. One Sunday morning after a heavy night before, I found myself sitting in church. He was calling. The call was loud and clear within my spirit and I knew I wanted to give my life to the Lord Jesus Christ and commit to serving Him. That day it felt like the pastor was speaking directly to me. The Bible says God is light, and when he shines upon you it is your conscience that speaks to you.
I was tired of hangovers and the fake glory of man. I chose to give my life back to God that day in the church, publicly in front of people, crying and repenting of my sins, accepting Christ in my heart completely, wanting Him to consume every part of me. And He did.. .he made me new. God makes you a new creation and wipes away your past!
AGAIN, I wanted to be different. I no longer wanted to live the lie. To be lukewarm and live proclaiming to be a Christian but not really living like one. I had a burning within my soul to serve God and people, to find God and to really know God. Because, I had made the decision to seek God’s Kingdom first above everything else, He started to change my life. I wanted to serve people and to deny myself. To see people coming into the Kingdom of God and finding Jesus Christ, finding freedom and peace and restoration for their brokenness. I knew that I was chosen to fulfil God’s plan for my life and not my own. God had stationed me in a specific position to reach people and to share with them what He has done in my life. God has called us to be fishers of men and to live in love with one another. I am a warrior for the Kingdom of God and will stand on His word with my life and all that I am. I realised God’s plans are better than mine and that He knows more than me. In 2005 I met Juanné my (then girlfriend) and now my wife. She is a woman who loves God more than me, who is my best friend and the most beautiful woman on earth, someone who was willing to walk a road less travelled and who had a heart for broken people. That’s something I wanted, and God blessed me with her, in abundance. In our relationship we made tough decisions and set boundaries to keep us pure before marriage and really became best friends. We still reap the rewards, and you can too if you make tough choices and put God first above yourself and your partner. Remember the devil wants to destroy your relationship and that your relationship is the first test of your faith. Charity starts at home…always!
My rugby career started to soar and I was chosen to play for the Springboks in 2006. My test debut was a nightmare losing 49-0 to Australia and then being dropped from the team. But I got a second chance and then gave a Man of the Match performance against the All Blacks in Rustenburg. 2007 was a World Cup year and the excitement was building. Having had a successful Super 14 with the Bulls which culminated in us winning the title I was anticipating being part of the tournament in France. I was selected in the World Cup squad, and was being touted as a favourite to win the Player of the Tournament by some respected rugby men.
Two weeks after the squad announcement I started to cough up blood, had chest pains and breathing pains. Our team doctor took me for tests and the shocking news hit me.. .I had blood clots on my lungs! I thought: What? Blood clots? God, you must be joking? We’re on our way to the World Cup? The highlight of my career? I’m walking in your ways God? I live a healthy life, look after my body and train hard and don’t use illegal substances? Doctors said I had to take a course of blood-thinning medication for a minimum of six months and I was under strict instructions never to play rugby during that period. Immediately I knew God was in control. I didn’t know exactly how but His word says He has great plans for our futures and that we’ve been healed by his wounds. I walked in faith and I wrote on a big poster : “Healed in Jesus name” because I knew God had the power to heal me. My faith was tested, but I made a decision to praise God even if I stayed sick or got healed because I knew God’s plan is bigger than mine and I had to submit to His will. It was an unconditional choice, in the same way He loves us unconditionally. There was alot of medical tests done, from head to toe. I would always put on a praise and worship cd in my car on the way to the hospital, screaming and praising God with a loud voice, knowing that whether my lungs are sick or if they’re healthy, I was going to praise God because HE IS GOOD. You keep with your decision… you keep on keeping on.
Man has limitations, but with God all things are possible.
Then… after the six months of medication a miracle happened. GOD HEALED ME. Doctors said it was impossible. They said I would never play again. Most people with blood clots never get off the medication, but God is moved by faith and not by belief in world systems. I was able to play rugby again and pursue my career. I got married at the end of 2008 which shows His great love and mercy. He did great work in me and he can do the same for you.
God will fulfil his plan for you if you trust Him. Jesus has used me as an instrument to reach my family and friends and help them change their lives by loving them the way He instructs us to. Through my rugby career I have been honoured to visit many exceptional countries and places and meet wonderful people. Many doors have been opened to me to share His Name and His Love. My message to you is that God has a plan for your life. He has a passion for YOU. He speaks to you everyday through that small voice inside you. Yes, you probably know it. Once you have decided to follow Him and live for Him, He will do more for you than you ever could have imaged. Take His hand, He will do the rest.