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Cover designed by Louise van der Westhuizen (www.lovelab.co.za)


UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU Tongue tied By Nicci Martin

I am quite a chatterbox at the best of times and there is just no stopping me when I am passionate about the topic I am speaking about. I love sharing good news with people and often it just bubbles out of me. When I am talking to family or friends who are Christian it is even better. I am then able to freely share my thoughts and experiences of how God is working in my life too.

? illumin8 - Issue 22 - June 2011

It gets quite tricky sharing the Good News with people who don't believe, aren't interested or who are opposed to one's faith. I had an experience recently where a person like that came along my path and I felt completely tongue tied. I had so much on my heart that I wanted to share but I didn't know where to start. I openly declared that I was a Christian but then felt as though the situation got the better of me and I failed to get through to the person. This ultimately left me feeling extremely disheartened and useless. What was wrong with me? Why couldn't I help God by sharing what I've experienced and learnt about him over the years? After all, it's the least I could do for him as he has done so much for me. After being all confused about what to say I turned to one of my standard responses (I don't know who wrote it or where I

heard it but it has stuck with me): 'I believe in God like a blind person believes in the sun. Not because I can see him but because I can feel him.'

I later realised that there was no use in beating myself up about not feeling that I said the right thing in that moment. Maybe it was a moment that a seed was planted in that person's mind and heart, even if it was not necessarily the day that they were converted. Perhaps I was meant to listen in that moment, instead of giving advice, and afford the person the opportunity to speak and be heard. Maybe that moment was a stepping stone for me where I had to put myself out there and acknowledge my faith to a stranger.

The possibilities are endless but this I know for sure ‌ we will all have many moments like this in our lives and we need to be ready for them. We need to be ready to open our eyes to people's hurt and confusion and to listen to them with the ears of our hearts. God is counting on us to be examples and to show we are Christians by our love. Don't worry about feeling tongue tied at times, as God is in control, come muddled sentence or simple prayer. Your contributions to his Church and people are invaluable. Be ready and willing to help people feel the warmth of God's love which will guide them out of the dark and into his light.

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Designed by Katy Breytenbach


When we venture through the pages of the Bible we read and interpret those precious words with westernised -21st century understanding. There are three words which Jesus spoke that I want to zoom in on: 'Come follow me!' For the average middle-class person, the most these words mean is that one must believe in Jesus, learn what He is about and live out their lives as He wants them to. And yes, in the long run, that is what it means. However, to the disciples of old they meant so much more. They are pregnant with hope and affirmation. How? I've often said that my favourite disciple is Peter. He would've popped out on his birthday and eight days later been named SimonPeter / Caiphas. Around about the age of six he would've joined other little six-year olds in the local synagogue to learn the Torah. By the age of ten, these youngsters would know Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy off by heart. The kids who seemed to have brains would move on to the next class for another four years or so where they would learn the rest of what we now call the Old Testament ‌ off by heart! At the end of this time they would apply to become disciples of their rabbi(s) of choice. Upon receiving the application, the rabbi would go meet the incumbent and spend time

with him, grilling him with all sorts of questions. W h a t h e wanted to ascertain was whether this kid had the potential to become like him.

illumin8 - Issue 22 - June 2011

If he thought that the way the teenager interpreted the Scriptures was evidence enough of potential to grow more like him, the rabbi would say, 'Come follow me.' At the end of each of these stages of study those who were not deemed too intelligent would be told to go and do their fathers' jobs. In the early chapters of the Gospels we come across Jesus calling the boys and men who became his disciples. Lo and behold, most of those called were working, some with their fathers. They were failures. They had heard those dreaded words, 'Go and do your father's job!' In South African English, 'Eish boet, you have no chance of cutting it. You pretty much have no hope of amounting to anything!' Then the Rabbi of all rabbis walks by and with no interview says, 'Come follow me.' Translated into my understanding these three words say, 'Before I formed you I knew you, I know all your ambitions, your desires, your hurts and pains, your fears and your joys. More than that I know what you have the potential to become. The world says you are hopeless but I bring hope to you and know that the work I begin in you, I will complete and then you will bring glory to the world. You have something in you which make me know for certain that you can become just like me.' When I first realised this three days ago, I was reading through Matthew 17 (the transfiguration). It suddenly struck me that the splendour seen by the three disciples on that mountain was a foretaste of the glory they would share in. In Matthew 28, Jesus exhorts his flock to go and make disciples of all men. Effectively he was telling them that, as of that moment, they had graduated from discipleship to being rabbis themselves. After all, you can't have disciples unless you

are a rabbi. Imagine being Peter, closing in hard on 40 and God himself says, 'I deem you worthy and qualified to make your own disciples. I have taught you everything so that you might become just like me. Now go and do it.' In John 17 Jesus prays for himself, then the disciples, then those who will believe through the disciples (you and I). In effect he is counting us as disciples who will become just like him. Wherever you are in life, there is a call from on high to 'Come follow Jesus' for he knows you and wants to mould you so that you become just like him. Jesus sees the potential in you, do you? Designed by Wanja Focaraccio


illumin8 - Issue 22 - June 2011

Designed by Louise van der Westhuizen


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Tales from a South living in Cam African bridge

illumin8 - Issue 22 - June 2011

Designed by Leanne Rhodes


d and I say r had my husban te is in m e th s w bit to make down the vo d the words a little ad these ge an I decided to write ch I y. da our wedding You can re to each other on idegroom instead. r the first time or br r ou as s su Je to ent to God, fo it a commitment d life for ake this commitm m d an er ay pr m in your heart an hi a ng vi ha vows as to ' do e you to say 'I again. I encourag . ys the rest of your da

By Nicci Martin illumin8 - Issue 22 - June 2011

THE UNITED NATIONS OF NICC


“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me� is a phase learnt early in life but even as a child I soon realised that this was far from reality. Words can cut deeper and last longer than many physical wounds. I am sure you all at one point or another have been hurt by the words of others and none more so than the words said behind your back. In the same breath I am also sure you have not only been a victim but are also guilty of gossiping at one point or another. Next time you are in a situation where you come face to face with gossip consider the following strategies to combat this destructive force:

Discover the root of the problem If you find yourself being caught up, or even instigating, gossip you need to take some time to ponder why this is the case. Gossip has many roots ... expressing a feeling of injustice, gaining control back from a stronger personality, personal insecurity, longing for acceptance, fear of rejection or a deep need for attention, to name a few.

Don't add fuel to the fire

eight

One of gossip's most impressive powers is that it plays on our need for acceptance. If we contribute to a conversation with some new juicy titbit of information we are in essence receiving acceptance from the group which at the time feels good. The problem is that this could spark even more comments, hurtful remarks and taint people's opinions of a person they may not even know yet.

By Leanne Rhodes illumin8 - Issue 22 - June 2011

Designed by Leanne Rhodes


Stop it before it even starts I have heard these sentences, “I promised I wouldn't say anything but...” or “Did you hear what so and so did?” on many occasions and have found a simple phrase that can actually prevent the words from even being uttered. When you feel something is going to be said simply ask, “Before you tell me

this, do you think that person would like others to know?”

Leave the room Gossip has an uncanny way of sending out its tentacles and drawing all who are near in. So, if you can sense a conversation turning into gossip and you know you have a weakness for it rather make a beeline out of there than stay and try to fight the urge to contribute.

Draw the line with venting Sometimes the things people do will frustrate us and expressing that is only natural but once you have listened and you sense it is moving into a far more destructive path try to steer the conversation into a more positive direction or simply change the subject to something that is far more interesting.

Live by a simple rule My husband lives by a simple rule: “If you wouldn't say that particular thing to a person's face then it shouldn't be said at all.” Ask yourself that question before you let the words escape the barriers of your teeth.

illumin8 - Issue 22 - June 2011

Don’t disguise gossip as a prayer request Be careful how you ask for prayer for another person. Often this can be very dangerous, as gossip parades as something good and justified. It however can deliver the most painful blow to others as it is not expected from Christians. Trust in the whole Christian community can be destroyed. Remember to give only enough information to assist with prayers.

Cultivate a spirit of love Luke 6:45 says “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” If we are cultivating love and compassion in our hearts the need to criticise and lament when we are wronged will be put aside and a spirit of tolerance and compassion will take its place. Ask the lord to teach you to love others as He loves us regardless of their faults. This is no doubt one of the most difficult character traits to develop but it is not impossible with God’s Spirit.

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth

speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45


[The king said] “ ..If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom." Then Daniel answered the king, "You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means…” (Daniel 5:16-17)

O

illumin8 - Issue 22 - June 2011

ne day we went on a short walk in the bush with a bird expert. I usually ignore the little birds fluttering around in the bushes and chirping. But this person ignored nothing – he paid attention to everything around him. Every bird was identified, using binoculars if necessary. In this way, we came across a twig snake. It was being mobbed by a shrike, and when we went to see what the excitement was about, we saw the snake lying completely motionless and very well camouflaged. We would never have seen it had it not been for the shrike's behaviour and my friend's attitude of reading the signs of the bush.

The phrase 'writing on the wall' has come to mean an omen of doom. King Belshazzar was showing contempt for the sacred vessels of the Jerusalem Temple by using them for boasting and revelry. The finger wrote the mysterious message that only Daniel could unlock, and that night Belshazzar was killed and his empire overthrown by Darius. But God's message of doom usually has an 'if' in it. If Belshazzar had repented, things might have been different. He might have come to a compromise with Darius. He might have saved his life. Although Daniel had been promoted to third highest in the kingdom, he did not share the king's fate, he survived the transition. God looked after him.

There are signs of God all around us but usually we don't notice them, and if we do we don't understand them. Sometimes it takes a prophetic attitude to decode the signs of God.

I came across the following poem by Joseph Plunkett* which expresses far better than I can the way of finding God in the ordinary and mundane:

Designed by Mari Schoeman


I see His blood upon the rose And in the stars the glory of His eyes, His body gleams amid eternal snows, His tears fall from the skies. I see His face in every flower; The thunder and the singing of the birds Are but His voice – and carven by His power Rocks are His written words. All pathways by His feet are worn, His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea, His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn, His cross is every tree. God has a way of making himself known. The world is aghast at the earthquake and tsunami which have devastated part of Japan. Why did this happen? What meaning does it have for us? Consider the following answers: the scientific explanation is that it was caused by plate tectonics, and is a natural event with no moral or religious significance. Those who are superstitious will explain it in terms of a vague cause and effect, perhaps Japan has infringed some kind of rule. Of course this is nonsense. A New Age believer might say it is the earth goddess, Gaia, defending herself from the scourge of humanity. How would Daniel explain it, if he were called on to do so? He would begin with prayer. Then he would weep with the anguish

of the Lord who feels the suffering of the traumatised nation. When Israel experienced the exile to Babylon, the prophets explained it as the results of disobedience, but this cannot apply to Japan. Although it is a non-Christian nation, Christians were killed together with Buddhists. God does not punish in this way. In the heroism and selflessness of rescuers, some people will see signs of a loving and saving God. Some people will have experienced little miracles that saved them. But there is a message: that suffering is part of this mortal life. God created us for another life, where there is no suffering, pain or death. And God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that all who believe in him will experience this other life. And instead of looking for blame, we are called to weep with Japan, pray for them, and do what we can to help them. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Daniel had the prophetic code to unlock secrets. That same Spirit moves among us, and if we pay attention to his voice, he reveals all manner of marvels in nature and in human society. We need to learn to be quiet and listen and pay attention, prayerfully. And sometimes, a glimmer of light from heaven, as though it had come through ageless eons of time from the furthest recesses of the universe, penetrates our consciousness, and we are transfixed in awe at the greatness, holiness and boundless love of God. (*quoted by Gerard W. Hughes in Oh God, Why?, published by the Bible Reading Fellowship, Abingdon, UK, 1993, 1996, p 52)

The End

illumin8 - Issue 22 - June 2011


By Colin Rip Trying to hold onto you is like holding water in my hands, The tighter I grip the quicker you disappear. When my hands are full they feel so wet, Yet when they are dry they feel as if they will never be wet again. I fll my hands at your well of life but as I walk away and try and share, The water evaporates. I wish I had a bucket or could build a dam. I wish it could always be the rainy season. Why do we need to experience drought?

illumin8 - Issue 22 - June 2011

Design and illustration by Niki Maritz


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Issue 22: The Words Sequel Issue