Monday, 4 September 2017

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Where is Wisdom?

One of the things the Holy Spirit spoke to me about recently is to continue to be very deliberate and intentional in supporting other ministries in a number of different ways.  In some cases I experienced that we have to support a ministry by building a platform of success under them, even if their vision is not part of the vision God gave us at Free 2 Celebrate. In other cases the support was of a financial nature, and in yet another way the Holy Spirit has led us to attend other courses, seminars, Bible studies, or to read outside of our field of interest.

I believe one of the moments the Holy Spirit spoke to me about this was when He gave one of our prayer walk team members an image of a heart.  A healthy heart has 4 chambers and it “receives” de-oxygenated blood from the body and “gives” it to the lungs.  Then it “receives” the oxygenated blood from the lungs and “gives” it to the body.   In the event where a baby is born with a heart where both these systems work properly on their own – but do not work together – the baby will die (unless there is medical intervention to rectify the problem).  In other words, the heart must be able to give and receive to function in such a way that it can sustain life for the whole body.

This was a profound revelation to me since I have more than once experienced  how something in the spirit dies because ministries in the body of Christ cannot give and receive from each other.  We are supposed to be one body with one Head – Christ- but also with only one heart.  We should be working together in His Kingdom.  However, we often are so focussed on our own visions that we cannot give and receive oxygen from each other.  And… it is a condition of the heart…. and it causes the whole body to suffer and die. 

And so it happened on one of the occasions where I attended another ministry’s meeting that the Holy Spirit gave me the following scripture… it is from Proverbs 8.  Please read the whole chapter but I am only going to quote the beginning and the end of the chapter:

Verse 1-3

Does not wisdom cry out,
And understanding lift up her voice?
She takes her stand on the top of the high hill,
Beside the way, where the paths meet.
She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city,
At the entrance of the doors:

And verse 32-36: 

“Now therefore, listen to me, my children,
For blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Hear instruction and be wise,
And do not disdain it.
34 Blessed is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at the posts of my doors.
35 For whoever finds me finds life,
And obtains favour from the Lord;
36 But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;
All those who hate me love death.”

Whoever finds Me finds LIFE…  Where is wisdom to be found?  In this scripture Wisdom stands at the high places, where the paths meet and at the city gates, entrances and doors…. It is great Wisdom when we stay teachable, when we give and receive at the crossroads where we meet other travellers within the body of Christ.  It is the Holy Spirit’s Wisdom when we make sure that Jesus is enthroned in the high places of our lives (our minds), and when we allow Him to infuse us with the oxygen of His truth through the gates, entrances and doors of our lives.  When Wisdom is enthroned in her rightful places of authority the body can give and receive life from each other without fear, without foolishness and without trying to function in isolation.

Where is Wisdom?  Is Wisdom enthroned in her rightful place?  In my life?  In your life?  In our city?  In our church?  Where is Wisdom?  It is time to repent of dethroning Wisdom and enthroning our own wisdom by closing our borders in pride, fear, arrogance or through being unteachable, not wanting to either give and/or receive from the rest of the Body of Christ… let us step across that border and reach out to the rest of the body enthroning Wisdom as The Gatekeeper, guarding the heights, gates and doors, receiving His guidance at the crossroads of life. 

 © November 2016 Gerda Venter - Author and Picture

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Spirit of Discernment or the spirit of criticism?

  ©Photo: Lizaan Venter October 2016
A question that has hovered in my mind for some time now is the topic of discernment vs. criticism in the body of Christ.  Just too often I think we criticise each other rather than discerning, interceding and speaking the truth in love.  We have an auto-immune disease, so to speak.   We attack the members of our own body as if they were the enemy.  We are the only army in the world that attacks its own soldiers. 
While discernment is absolutely necessary and probably increasingly so in the end-times, a spirit of criticism unfortunately is just too often presented as so-called discernment.  This is nothing but a spirit of religious pride.   
Are there any guidelines we can employ from the Word to help us to not fall into the trap of criticism, and yet help each other to deal with the unfinished business in our lives?  What does the spirit of discernment look like and what does it look like when Jesus confronts something sinful inside the camp? I believe an answer can be found in the letter to the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2.  God speaks to this congregation in a very specific way.  It is the only letter in Revelations that is written in this manner.  I believe what He is doing is modelling the way the spirit of discernment addresses sin within the body - in love, without criticism and yet with a decisive straight forwardness.

He starts off with introducing Himself to the congregation as the One who dwells between the seven lampstands.  What a beautiful and reassuring picture.  In spite of our imperfections, sin etc.,  God still dwells amongst His Bride, His church - perfecting her in love.  This church does not have it all together and yet God dwells amongst them.  Far too often we act as if we have it all together (which is pride) and therefore God dwells with us and when we discern something that is out of place in someone else’s life we assume that it implies that God does not dwell with them (which is criticism).  Well both of those attitudes are grossly wrong.  

So let’s see how God addresses this issue.  He continues speaking to them and in the first few verses He takes the time to give them praise and honour for a long list of things they do right.  Amongst many things He mentions their hard work, patient endurance and the fact that they critically test those who call themselves prophets, yet are imposters and liars.  He has no problem with the fact that they critically test others to make sure they are the real deal – in fact, later on He agrees with this congregation that He Himself also hates this falseness.  However, I believe it’s the way He goes about doing this that models to us a pattern of how to address sin, problems, offenses or hurtful behaviour within the body of Christ. We hardly ever tell each other what we are doing right, since we are hurt, offended, or so fearful that either we or others will become prideful should we do that.  However, ironically we think it’s nobler and less prideful if we “discern” the wrong in someone’s life or ministry and then just stop associating with them or start to warn others of the woes in their life or ministry.  This is not the way God goes about addressing this problem.  Let’s continue reading to see what He does next.   After He praised them for all the things they do right, He then goes over into speaking the truth in love to them.  He states that there is this ONE THING – note not a lengthy list of do’s and don’ts that this congregation is doing wrong – He mentions the ONE THING that is out of place which they should address as a matter of urgency.   They have left their first love, and He urges them to return to doing the things they did before out of Love for Him.  Note that He also does not stop the conversation here.  He continues by explaining to them what the root cause of the problem is – he reminds them to remember from which heights they have fallen.  This is a reference to satan’s fall from pride.  This congregation is no longer walking in love, with the consequential result that they are falling prey to pride.  After explaining the root cause of the problem He offers the solution – REPENT – simple and straight forward.  Repentance will solve this problem of pride and lovelessness.  He continues to spell out the consequences - should they not repent He will take away their lampstand!  If there is unrepentant sin and hardness of heart the lampstand will be taken away.  However, the lampstand will only be taken away after He has brought to their attention the sin within the camp and only after they have made an informed choice not to repent but to hard-headedly continue in their sin.   Having done this, He identifies Himself with the congregation, once again bringing them into favour with Him, mentioning another thing they do right!  He does this by agreeing with them that He hates the works of the Nicolaitans just like they do.   Finally He explains to them what the reward would be when they overcome this problem they are faced with.  Their reward would be the tree of life.  The tree of knowledge of good and evil brings criticism and death.  The tree of life brings love and relationship.  What a reward – the tree of life! 

All too often we come with our spirit of criticism wrapped in religious gift wrap which we pride fully call a spirit of discernment and we declare that we discern this or that and that the lampstand has already been taken away from someone.  Without addressing each other in this way I believe we will always be wrong even if we are right.  The way we go about doing it is so wrong that it is nothing but a spirit of criticism displaying the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil resulting in death instead of bringing life. 

None of us – no individual, no ministry, can claim that our healing and deliverance is 100% complete and that there is nothing God still has to deal with us on our journey with Him.  The question is: “Are we willing to listen when someone speaks into my life or do I take offense?”  And secondly the question is:  “How do we speak to each other?  Do we do that in love from a “tree of life” standpoint or do we come in a spirit of criticism expecting life to grow out of the tree of knowledge of good and evil?” 

So let’s summarize in a practical manner the model God gives us through which His Spirit of discernment flows to bring life: 

1.       Praise and give honour to all that is being done right.
2.       Speak the truth in love.
3.       Explain the root cause of the problem.
4.       Spell out the solution – be specific about what needs to be done or repented of.
5.       Be clear about the consequences should there be no repentance.
6.       Offer hope by mentioning something good the person does, and by drawing attention to the
        fact that the Lord calls us to be overcomers. 
7.       Explain what the reward will be should the problem be effectively dealt with.

One more thought:  As the body of Christ we were called to unity - unity in Christ as the head of the body but likewise we are called to be mutually depended and part of one another (Rom 12).  Now more than ever do we need to learn how to walk in unity with each other.  

© Author:  HG Venter 2016

Monday, 1 August 2016

Never say never again….. and an unshakeable Kingdom.

12 years ago I resigned my job as a social worker.  I remember the day I pulled close my office door for the last time and took off the board with my name on.  In my mind I said “Never, ever again…” I was burnt out, bored out of my mind and disillusioned with all the supposedly wonderful theories and tools I was supposed to have after 7 years of study and 14 years of experience as a counsellor.  People does not really change, are not really helped and healed nor come to a point of maturity, I thought.
Well somehow God seemed to have different plans for my “Never, ever again…” He embarked with me on a different journey, a journey of finding Him in so many different ways. I got to know Jesus as my saviour, the one who died and was resurrected, who traded His life for my sin in a whole new way.  He revealed himself to me as my Bridegroom and is still teaching me how to walk in intimacy with him.  In the last 4 years He increasingly showed me his character, his nature, the “how” He is.  He revealed himself to me as the Prophet, Servant, Teacher, Exhorter, Giver, Ruler and Mercy God.  He showed me that the fullness of who He is, is in me.  He showed me who He is in others, in His body on earth.  He showed me that people can heal, can be delivered and can grow into maturity – when He does it, with His tools.  The tools in the world’s manuals is just is not as effective and successful as the tools of the Master Creator of mankind.
Towards the end of last year He gave me a word which I posted on the blog.  It was titled “Two mountains and an unshakeable Kingdom”.  I think if I knew just how difficult and painful the shaking would be I would probably have hidden that word far away hoping I heard wrong... but I apparently did hear the Holy Spirit and I am thankful that I was warned that the shaking will come, and that it would be from God himself.  The first half of this year had been one of the most difficult and painful times for me in a looong time…

While all this was happening, I felt the unction in my spirit to get the paperwork ready in order to re-register as a social worker.  I thoroughly ignored this initially.  Thought I would wait until the feeling go away…. Well it did not go away and eventually I applied for restoration of my professional registration.  On Wednesday 20 July I received the certificate of registration, this time from the Association of Christian Counsellors.    I was deeply relieved.  Someone once said that if one door closes – stand in the hallway and praise God until the next door opens.  I don’t think I did a very good job at praising Him while waiting in the hallway and yet in His grace he opened another door.  I am not sure where this door will lead to – not yet – I cannot see the destination yet.  What I do know is “Never say never again…” Someone said to me this past weekend “God never wastes a qualification” wise and true words it seems…   
Nothing much will change in practice in “Free2celebrate – land" the only change is that
“Free 2 celebrate” now stands on the "earthly" platform of “Christian Counselling” probably where it should have been from the beginning… Far more profound than earthly papers and qualifications  though - it stands on The Rock - Jesus - and the Mountain of the fear of the Lord in His Unshakeable Kingdom. 

Thank you Lord for your wisdom and guidance… Ebenhaeser… Until here you have helped us… so you will be with us from here forward…

© Author Gerda Venter 2016