Put Your Past Behind You

  • Post comments:0 Comments

by Calven Celliers

Hyperthymestic syndrome is “…a condition that leads people to be able to remember an abnormally large number of their life experiences in vivid detail. Two defining characteristics of hyperthymesia are spending an excessive amount of time thinking about one’s past, and displaying an extraordinary ability to recall specific events from one’s past.”

While I’ve never met anyone suffering from hyperthymesia, I do know a lot of people, myself included, who are consciously or subconsciously prisoners to a few memories of their own.  I’m talking about the bondage that many live with regarding sins and failures of the past, that have been forgiven, and should have been forgotten, but have not been severed. 

Unless we’re moving forward, we’re losing ground. Living is all about progressing, moving on, and pressing forward. But you can’t see the road ahead if you’re constantly looking over your shoulder at where you have been; sooner or later you’re going to land up in a ditch. For many of us, the biggest problem with moving forward is that we keep looking back. In the words of Pumba the warthog from Disney’s Lion King, “You’ve got to put your behind in your past.”

Often when I think of the apostle Paul, I think of somebody who is larger than life. I see him standing up and defending his faith in front of the Roman governors and even the emperor. I remember his great missionary journey all over the Roman empire. We read his letters as he instructs the churches to be faithful, and as he encourages Timothy and Titus to remain true to their calling. Probably most of us have put Paul on quite a pedestal.

But when you read Romans 7, you get a sneak peek into the fact that the apostle Paul is a lot more human than we might have first thought. He is a fellow struggler. He is honest enough to recognize within himself a tendency to get caught in the clutches of sin.

18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway… 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Romans 7: 18 – 19, 24 & 25NLT)

This is not Paul talking about the way he used to be sinful before he became a Christian. This is Paul saying, “Just this morning, I gave in again.” This is Paul saying “I struggle with sin, and sometimes I lose.”

 You see the problem is that the devil will not give up without a fight, and one of the greatest challenges about walking in forgiveness is dealing with his underhanded tactic called condemnation.  In Revelation 12:10 we read that Satan always stands ready to accuse us. His objective is to weigh us down with condemnation, with the intention to cause us to live under a spirit of failure. Satan is so deceitful and one of the tools he uses to rob us of the joy of our salvation is to cause us to remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember. As a result, we get bogged down in the negative things that produce guilt in us instead of focusing on the victory that Christ won on our behalf. While we need to learn from our past mistakes, we should in no way to be defined by them.

There is an important distinction between conviction and condemnation. Conviction is when you feel bad for a sin that has not yet been confessed. The Holy Spirit loves us so much that He is not going to let us dwell in places that are going to ultimately hurt us, and so He convicts us until we come to that point when we confess the sin and turn from our wicked ways. Condemnation on the other hand is feeling guilt over confessed sin. It is from the accuser as he seeks to remind us of everything we have ever done wrong, causing the memory of our confessed sins to produce guilt instead of gratitude for the forgiveness that we have received in Christ. You see if he can get you to live in past guilt, then you don’t live in the present reality of the full victory that was accomplished on your behalf over 2,000 years ago.

Have a blessed day,

Calven

Continue Reading Put Your Past Behind You

What Name-Tag Will You Wear?

  • Post comments:0 Comments

by Caryl Moll

Have you ever come across something absolutely exquisite in the shops but discovered that it has no “name tag”? What was its origin? Who made it? How much did it cost?

This happened to me, some years ago, while browsing in a gem store – you know those ones with rows of sparkling gemstones strategically placed on mirrored shelves.  In this particular store, a beautiful geode caught my eye.  I picked it up, held it in my hand and marvelled at its delicate intricacies. Where did this beautiful stone come from? Where was its other half? What were its secret materials that made it shine so bright? What amazing geological processes did it go through to form its sparkling crystals?  Sadly, the geode had no write-up or nametag, and the mystery has plagued me since that day.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

In some strange way, this analogy can be transferred to us human beings. We are fascinating creatures; where did we originate? What aspects make us uniquely ‘human’? Our behaviour and actions often fall short of a perceived ideal and we sit back, sometimes in disgust, and consider; “Who are we really?”. “What is it that makes us human?”

Yet, the mystery of our existence isn’t so unfathomable. Ironically, each of us does have a name tag – the message of our origins is widely talked about both on a scientific level and a spiritual level.  The issue is, however, that we are given the choice as to whether we want to wear our ‘nametag’ or not.

Even if you are not a Christian believer, perhaps you can accept that something quite beyond our comprehension was part of your own construction and the creation of our beautiful planet? Can you accept that something almost magical happened all those years ago?  And can you accept that in the process, human beings came about with a unique trait called ‘conscience’? Furthermore, can you accept that in this mystery, you personally have been granted a gift called ‘choice’, ie how to live your life? 

So, what nametag do you choose to wear (if any)?

One of my own core beliefs is that God was involved in this incredible process called ‘Creation’. That it was through his unfathomable creativity that the earth and all in it came about. For me the Scriptural passage right in the beginning of the bible holds strong:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” (Genesis 1:1)

About 2000 years ago, another miracle happened which allowed us clarity and another option of which nametag to wear.  Through God’s doing, a man called “Jesus” arrived on earth claiming to be God himself and putting to rest all human-shaped ideas of their own existence.  He spoke of love and a way back to God, through him. His opportunity to spread His message was short in the whole grand scheme of time, but the things he said were so profound and significant that many people chose to write about him. Some of the writers were even direct witnesses to this man ‘Jesus’s’ life.

‘John’, son of Zebedee and brother of James, was one these people and one of Jesus’s disciples at the time.  His Gospel was written not long after Jesus’s death and it is a fascinating text, the purpose of which is to prove, conclusively, that Jesus was the Son of God and that all who believe in him will have eternal life.

One of the passages in the text has brought crystal clarity to my own thinking:

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
(John 1:10-13)

Jesus came with a nametag: “I am God.”  And he allowed us to choose to have a nametag for ourselves: “I am one of God’s children.”

I realise that not everyone will choose this for themselves.  But for me, having this particular nametag provides immense inner peace.  After so many years of refusing to label myself, I want to wear it with joy. My undeserved forgiveness has come from the grace of my Father mixed up with the little faith with which I have been blessed.  My nametag also allows me to speak to God, my Creator and Father, directly, and to immerse myself in his love.  I know where I’ve come from and I know where I’m going.

Do you?

 

With love, in Christ

Caryl

Continue Reading What Name-Tag Will You Wear?

A Small Spark

  • Post comments:1 Comment

by Graham Mol

Last week on our family camping trip we found ourselves hiking through the blackened and burnt bushveld from a fire the previous night. For the majority of our trek that morning we were surrounded by the sights and smells of burnt plant remains. I considered the sheer extent of the fire, not much remained untouched. I was reminded of an example given in the letter of James:

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. (James 3:5 NIV)

I decided to use this observation as a teachable moment for my kids. I told them what James says about the tongue and how the words that we say can be like that small spark that sets ablaze a fire that grows and grows and becomes out of control. We had seen large flames blazing on the hills the night before, lighting up the night, and we could now clearly see the extent of its destruction. In the same way, a careless word, a little lie, a passing comment can result in a firestorm of trouble and hurt. Once we’ve said those words, there is no taking them back, and we may not realise just how much damage they can cause.

“Yes Dad, we know.”

Of course they knew the example from their lessons at Church and at school, but it’s one thing to know the example, the metaphor, and another to have learnt from experience the damage our words can cause. The haven’t yet learnt just how easy it is to start a fire that soon becomes a roaring blaze.

It’s no wonder that James urges his recipients to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” (James 1:19). Just how many bush fires could we have avoided if we had rather kept our mouths shut? How many times have we wished that we could have erased that comment or reply and take back all the hurt and destruction that it caused?

The good news is that there is life after the fire. What was once there is no more, but new saplings spring up and the black gives way to the bright, new green. While there are words that can destroy, there are also words that can heal and we can choose to build others up rather than break them down.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)

 

God Bless

Graham

Continue Reading A Small Spark

The Lazarus Bush

  • Post comments:1 Comment

by Caryl Moll

“Myrothamnus flabellifolius”

“Come, follow me…” Thabo beckoned. He was our guide for the morning and had proved to be a wonderful tracker and a wealth of interesting information about the bush. We all clambered out of the game drive vehicle to stretch our legs in the hot dust. It was mid-September 2019 and a gentle breeze played with the dry leaves amongst the trees.

We had travelled to one of the highest points of the reserve and the lookout was magnificent. Large rocks were strewn everywhere. In the distance, the Lowveld stretched out for miles and the horizon was all but haze. It was the end of winter and the surrounding landscape looked dry and parched. Rain was desperately needed. It was already 28 Degrees C and hardly 11 am. Some of the guests moved off to find shade.

“Come,” Thabo beckoned again. “I can show you your treasure now.” He obviously shared my enthusiasm.

Earlier that morning, before the game drive, I’d approached Thabo and asked him if he knew of the “Lazarus” bush. I’d only ever experienced the plant once before and didn’t hold much hope. But he broke into an enthusiastic, toothy smile.

“You know this bush?” he beamed.

“I love that bush! Do you have it here?

“Not many people know it,” he said. “Yes, indeed, we have it. But it is only on the highest ridges of the reserve.” He added, “I’ll find it for you.”

Now Thabo beckoned me again. This time to the edge of the rocky outcrop.  Some of the guests saw us move off and followed with interest.

 “What are you looking for?”

“A surprise,” I teased. “Something to be shared far and wide…”

Thabo stopped suddenly and pointed.

“See it?”

“Yes! Yes!”

I dropped to the ground to inspect the dried-out plants. They were wedged in between a fissure in the rock. They looked shriveled and practically dead….

“Will this really work?” I wasn’t really convinced. But he nodded enthusiastically. “Can I please have a piece, Thabo? I promise I’ll share it with the others.”

“Of course,” he said. “I’ll break off a branch for you”.

He took time to select a portion of the plant that would not disturb the rest and broke it off for me. Some guests looked confused.

“But those are just dried sticks! What’s the fascination?”

Without saying much, I carefully split the branches, leaving some of the dried out ‘leaves’ on each and handed it to my companions who wanted one – willing them to experiment for themselves.

“What are we supposed to do with this?”

“Well,” I smiled. “When we eventually get back to the lodge, place this little stick into a full glass of water. Leave it there.  By this evening you will begin to see the amazing transformation. It’s quite miraculous how everything can change in only a few hours”

As expected, the faithful Lazarus bush really rose to the occasion in its teaching.  By the next morning, the guests excitedly gathered in the dining room.  All were proudly showing off their pretty green branches.  It was a beautiful lesson for us all, yet again. I couldn’t help but think of the Spirit of our wonderful Lord as he lifts us up as ‘dead branches’ to a new life in Him. Some knowing guests glowed with unsaid Christian understanding.

THE LAZARUS BUSH/ RESURRECTION PLANT

Nowadays, I think about the Lazarus bush every morning during my own morning shower. I often end up singing that familiar song….:

“Let your living water flow over my soul,
Let your Holy Spirit come and take control
Of every situation that is troubling my mind.
All my cares and worries onto you I roll.

Father…Jesus…Spirit…”

Maybe it’s time for us all to emulate the Lazarus bush. Let’s send our own dried out roots, deep into the rocky crevasses of our earthly existence and soak up God’s amazing Living water. He’s only a prayer away – waiting for us to respond to His call.

May God bless you as you accept His amazing miracle.

With love, in Christ

Caryl

Continue Reading The Lazarus Bush