Monthly Archives: August 2013

Lessons from our children: Chapter 1

As we have been blessed with hot summer days and blue skies, I walked down to Lac Leman (lake Geneva) recently to enjoy a sandwich and to shut out work thoughts and connect with God. One  thought that came to mind is “What can I learn from my children?” Over the past few weeks I have reflected on this and would now like to share some of the revelations which came to me.

Proverbs 22:6 tells us that “… Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost …” (The Message). This is an important truth and has a lot to do about the examples we set for our children. I found it intriguing to turn things around and observe what I can learn from my children. I have only been at it for a couple of weeks and it was great fun to really pay attention to our interactions (just realised that this is a good recipe that I can follow to connect with and learn more from Jesus and God!).  I experienced a great amount of satisfaction in receiving these little gems our kids hand out so easily and do so with absolute honestly.

Jesus’s teaching comes to mind. “…He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me – God who sent me…” -Mark 9:36-37, (The Message).

I wish to share a few examples of some precious moments with my daughters and the lessons they have taught me recently:

  • One morning last week I stepped into the lounge feeling the need to connect a bit my youngest daughter, Emma. She is definitely the early bird in our house (also as chirpy as a bird, especially compared to the rest of our family early in the morning). Emma was watching television and I joined her and nibbled away at breakfast biscuits and sipped away on a fresh cup of coffee. We were both content. Between bites I asked her how she had slept the previous night, knowing well that she struggled to fall asleep. Her reply was pointed.  “Well dad, why did you put me to bed early?  You know, I have a very busy body and it was not tired yet, so I was not able to fall asleep”.  I was surprised as her answer implied a deep awareness of her little inner world and was a very accurate and honest self-assessment. Although she does not know much about rhetorical questions I felt as if her answer was loaded with one (something like “… Hey dad, I am your daughter, you know me well and must know that I am a busy little bee, so what were you thinking when you put me to bed earlier last night …?”

I then started to think how she was able to answer so quickly. It was because she knew exactly what was going on in her inner world and she did not try to pretend about her state of own state of being. I then could not help to wonder why I sometimes can be so out of touch with what is going inside me (this sometimes happen, amazingly both on the joyful and the sad part of the spectrum). Perhaps far worse, there can be times when I do know but for some reason put up some façade.  Is this part of growing older (I specifically did not add wiser here) or do we lose our childlike innocence along the way?

Mark 10:13-16 comes to mind “…The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in. Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them…” (The Message). Here is some food for thought for me – in times when my curtain of pretense is seeking a way to close, let me be able to seek God with the simplicity of a child make and to be as self-aware  as Emma was when she answered my question.

Emma on a boat trip on lake Geneva
  •  Emma looked at me the other morning as I was about to leave for the office and asked “… Dad, I want you to buy me some flowers today …” I was a bit taken aback (also remembered that I have not spoiled the girls in our house with flowers for a while). What flowers would you like me to buy, I asked. “Roses, red roses…”.  And there it was – she knew exactly what she wanted and was not shy to ask me to get that for her (we are not talking computer games here, but flowers – she is turning nine soon). If you want to know, Emma, Lisa and Carine received flowers that evening!

This made me think about how I ask God for the things which are on my heart and also what I ask of Him? Do I ask in a round-about way or does it come straight up? Do I ask in real belief or with a hopeful but not fully convinced attitude?

“… For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened…”, Matthew 7:8; New International Version (NIV)

”… If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer….” Matthew 21:22; New International Version (NIV)

Angus Buchan in a message on 18 August 2013 wrote that “:.. The things which are impossible with men are possible with God (Luke 18:27). What does the Lord require from us? He requires simple, childlike faith. He requires us to ask Him, in the way a child asks a parent. He has promised to answer us and He will perform mighty miracles in our lives, if we will believe. There is nothing that is impossible for our God. The day you say it can’t be done, that’s the same day the Lord says, “I can do it.” Take those situations – those mountains you can’t get over and those valleys that are so deep that you can’t get through them – to God today …” (An excerpt from “A Farmer’s Year: Daily Truth to Change Your Life).

PS: It is Carine’s dad’s 70th birthday today. She has joined the rest of her family in South Africa and my prayer is that they have a wonderful time together and that the celebrations wil be blessed!

Ben de Bruyn – Copyright © 2013

Prayer for Daniel and Ellen at their wedding on Saturday

Prayer for Daniel and Ellen at their wedding on Saturday

Dear Lord

In John 15 you tell us that you are the Vine and we are the branches. You tell us that your Father is the farmer and cuts off every branch of us that doesn’t bear grapes and that every branch that is grape-bearing will be pruned back so it will bear even more.

Please hold Ellen and Daniel close to You in Your arms when they go through a pruning process, both on an individual level or together as a married couple.  We know that this process may be hard at times, but please give them the grace and strength in these times and for them to remember that when we are joined with You and You with them, it is an intimate and living relationship, and that the harvest is sure to be abundant.

My prayer for them is also to make themselves at home with You where they should remember your words that “… my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon,,,”

Thank you for reminding us through John in John 15 verses 11-15 that:  “… I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love.”  May Daniel and Ellen love each other this way until they meet up with you in Heaven.

Thank you for reminding us through John in John 16 verses  23-24 that:

  “… This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he’ll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks! …” May Daniel and Ellen ask of you in Your name and according to Your will so that You will provide to them a river of overflowing joy,

As You have prayed for your followers Lord:

 “… Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life. That you conferred as a gift through me so they can be one heart and mind as we are one heart and mind …” The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are – I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them in the same way you’ve loved me…

We pray this blessing in your name over Daniel and Ellen.

Amen

These words are not only for them but for all of us, whatever the circumstances or wherever you are.

 

Chapter 9: Distractions removed by the great love of God

On a spiritual level I was distracted over the past few weeks. Perhaps it was the wonderful summer weather we are enjoying in central Europe. Perhaps it was the fantastic holiday break in the South of Italy with Carine and the kids. Throughout this time I found it difficult to focus on my relationship with Jesus. Not even a brief medical scare managed to refocus me. I was not able to write!

Thankfully, over the past week or so the invisible veil which had entrapped me when I lost focus had lifted. It almost felt as if I was exposed to some stealth attack on a spiritual level, probably carefully orchestrated when my defenses were down when I could not properly focus on Jesus.

 “… Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need first hand evidence, not mere hearsay that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it …” 2 Corinthians 13:5-7 (Message)

 “… We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will…” Hebrews 2:1-4 (New International Version)

 “… Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I’ll keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth, every man, woman, and child put to the test. I’m on my way; I’ll be there soon. Keep a tight grip on what you have so no one distracts you and steals your crown. I’ll make each conqueror a pillar in the sanctuary of my God, a permanent position of honor. Then I’ll write names on you, the pillars: the Name of my God, the Name of God’s City-the new Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven- and my new Name…” Revelation 3:10-12 (Message)

These verses warn us to be careful an dto pay attention along the way and this reminded me of the importance to remain on my guard as it is so easy in today’s world to become distracted. I was  encouraged that I can  do something about it. Although I was slow to recognize my state of being at first, I have a loving and encouraging wife who pushed me along. Perhaps we should look-out for each other in this manner more often, especially within our church community. I also felt  much better having watched a documentary with Carine on the love of God.

In 1 Corinthians 13 the well-known passage on love now has more in-depth meaning for me:

 “… If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love…” (New International Version).

I was challenged by the documentary, especially where it showed how Heidi Baker was pouring out the love of Jesus on people in Mozambique and doing so in a practical and totally unconditional manner. I realized that I can think or talk about showering people with the love of Jesus but to walk the walk in practice takes enormous belief, courage  and strength. This will come from a close relationship with Jesus. I look forward to develop a deeper relationship with Him and to see how this will equip me to share His love with others around me over the coming years.

Ben de Bruyn – Copyright © 2013