Tuesday, May 29, 2012

GRACE, The Forbidden Gospel, A Book Review

I don’t remember when I first went to church, but I know I have been a church-goer my whole life. However, about four years ago, I was faced with the glaring fact that although I called myself a Christian, I didn’t really know Jesus Christ on a personal level. I knew all the right words to say and all the right things to do. But I didn’t have life.

In a moment of despair, God showed me how much he loved me. It was like a burden had been lifted off of my shoulders, like I’d been blind but now could see. For the first time in my life, I knew that God loved me anyway, irrespective of what I did or didn’t do.

For a long time, that remained a truth shut up in my heart. I enjoyed a sense of peace and freedom that couldn’t be explained in any way. The only problem was I didn’t know how to share what I had in my heart with someone. I didn’t have the right words or the right scriptures.

And then I landed on André van der Merwe’s book, Grace, The Forbidden Gospel.

That was when I had I light-bulb moment! The deeper I delved into the book, the more my heart got warmed. This was what I had been looking for.

Grace, The Forbidden Gospel gives the basics of the Gospel of Grace, which is the only true Gospel. It is a theological book but without the academic writing you would expect from a Doctor of Divinity, since André is a mechanic. Using simple language, he paints for us a picture of God’s loving and gracious heart. He dishes out tonnes of scripture to back up almost everything he says, so you can know that he’s not feeding you with hogwash.

Grace, The Forbidden Gospel reads like a Grace FAQ. The book tackles questions like
  •       Do Christians have a sinful nature?
  •       Can a Christian “Fall out of Grace”?
  •       Must we tithe?
  •       Why do Christians sin?
  •       Do Christians need to confess their sins?
  •       Why should we live a holy lifestyle?
  •       Is God angry with unbelievers?
  •       Will obeying the Law give me victory over sin?
  •       And many more

I have read many books on the subject of Grace, but none is as straightforward, simple and candid as Grace, The Forbidden Gospel.

If you think you have figured out the Christian faith, this book is not for you. It is for the open-minded, the one who is not afraid of asking bold questions and looking for the answers.

André has offered Grace, The Forbidden Gospel as a free e-book download on his website. Click here to download it. Or go to Amazon to purchase a copy.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Missing You

missing you
like a terminal disease
that one endures
but can't get used to

loving you
like a hopeless puppy
that does not know
what's right or wrong

holding you
like a fleeting dream
that i'm afraid
may never come true

you've captured my heart
so badly i can't stop
thinking about you
now time is crawling

i love you

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Back To Eden

I remember the days
when ignorance was bliss
and innocence was not just a word
no good and bad, just you and me
enjoying life with no pain.

I remember the days
when we didn't know guilt
and walked around naked
nothing hindered our love
we could do anything
and make love all day long

so let's go back when time begun
and make love under the apple tree

back to Eden
there are no inhibitions
back to Eden
naked and not ashamed
and our eyes were not opened to see
back to Eden
pure bliss and ecstasy

oh that we would drink of our love
kisses everywhere our lips can reach
and oh that we would hold each other

Monday, May 21, 2012

Whatever Happened To Blessed Assurance?

I have an unhealthy relationship with hymns. I think I like them too much. I have outgrown most of the music I liked when I was young, but I have never outgrown hymns. One of the hymns that have never left my best 10 list is Fanny Crosby’s Blessed Assurance.

I always wonder what she was thinking when she penned these words:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! 
Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchased of God 
Born of the Spirit, washed in his blood

I sometimes wonder how her Christian experience was. It’s not every day that you find a Christian who can boldly say that they have assurance that Jesus is theirs. You only need to listen to the lyrics of today’s worship songs to know what I am talking about. There is one asking God not to cast us away from his presence. There is another one about looking for Jesus, giving you the assumption that he went on holiday and got lost in the mountains. Today’s songs are full of pleading with God to please stay, and making pledges to make his stay worthwhile.

Is it any wonder that some of the modern, charismatic churches today won’t sing hymns? They simply don’t understand what kind of spiritual food the likes of Fanny Crosby ate that made them so assured of their relationship with Jesus. So they simply refrain from singing such songs, afraid that they may have to be forced to go the throne of Grace with boldness, and not timidity. (See Hebrews 4:16)

I don’t know much about Fanny Crosby, but one thing I know is she had it rough in life, since she was blinded before she had a chance to enjoy the gift of sight. If she was a member of today’s church, she would be crying out to God day and night to please hear her cries, have mercy on her and give her sight. She would be doing research into her family tree to find out which generational curse was following her.

But thank God, blind as she was, she wrote one of the greatest hymns ever—one that talked of the beauty of salvation and the glory experienced everyday with the blessed assurance that Jesus was yours, never to leave.

I long for the day when the church will wake up and realise the assurance we have in Christ, that when he said he would never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), he meant it. I wish we would believe it when we open our bibles and read that God is madly in love with us, that he rejoices over us with singing! (Zephaniah 3:17). I want to see a generation of Christians who will, once again, believe that nothing—absolutely nothing—can ever separate us from God’s love for us (Romans 8:35-39).

I haven’t lost hope. Not yet. For I can hear a voice, one voice of a million people, singing, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!”

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How To Kiss Dusty Feet

The woman held an alabaster jar in her hands. It was sealed, but she knew the significance of the contents in it. The very expensive perfume encased therein had been given to her by her father. It was supposed to be her gift to the man she was to marry. However, the perfume still remained intact.

She knew why: no man wanted her. She was a woman of the night.

They only wanted her for a night, to satisfy their animal desires, but detested looking at her in the morning. Her fate was sealed, just like the alabaster box. She would never get married. That was a disgrace she would carry with her for the rest of her life. The jar was a continual reminder of that ugly fact.

She turned the jar in her hands, letting it catch reflections of the morning sun. Today she would let go of the perfume. She only prayed that her plan went well without any interruptions.

The street was noisy and the afternoon sun sweltering. She could not help but notice the pointing fingers and the whispers as she went down the street. She branched off into an alley, kicked rubbish out of her way and continued to the next street. She was almost at her destination.

Simon, the Pharisee was a superb host. His visitors came in large numbers and more often. Today, he was hosting the woman’s most wanted man. Jesus.

The woman stood across the street from the Simon’s home and waited for the courage to walk into the house. She could see through the doorway that the men were already reclined on the tables. Dinner was underway.

Men. Those were her biggest obstacle. She was not allowed to interrupt their meal. But now that she was already here, there was no use going back. Her alabaster jar would remain unbroken. And she would never be satisfied.

She crossed the street. Now a few feet lay between her and the threshold. She continued walking, her head held high, her gaze straightforward. She crossed the threshold. She was now inside. She could see all the men reclined on the table, eating and having small talk.

Suddenly, she was overcome by emotion. Tears started flowing down her face even as she walked closer to the man of her dreams. She barely noticed the silence that enveloped the room as all attention was turned towards her.

She stood behind Jesus. Her cries came out in low sobs. Then, slowly, she kneeled down and kissed his dusty feet. She wiped her wet face on them and wetted them with her tears. The tears continued to flow, like the floodgates of her soul had been ripped apart. She cried for the man she’d never have. She cried for the wrong choices she had made. She cried for joy. She cried for love for this one man.

She kissed the dirty feet again.

Then she wiped the feet with her hair.

Her heart was pounding. She knew any time hands would manhandle her and throw her out. She was totally disgracing herself, showing up in a room full of men, with her hair let down and naked. But she didn’t care. She was going to love on Jesus as long as it took.

The feet now looked clean. The woman got out her alabaster jar. She broke it and anointed his feet.

The fragrance filled the whole room.

She heard Simon clear his throat and mumble something.

Jesus said to him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."

"Oh? Tell me."

"Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?"

Simon answered, "I suppose the one who was forgiven the most."

"That's right," said Jesus.

Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, "Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn't quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn't it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal."

Then he spoke to her: "I forgive your sins." (Luke 7:40-48 The Message)

(Excerpt from What If God Doesn't Really Love You?)

Have you experienced such forgiveness -- so much forgiveness -- that made you want to kiss Jesus' dusty feet?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Will You Forgive?

When we were growing up, we had a Newsboys tape. It was their 1996 album, Take Me To YourLeader. That tape was my first exposure to rock music, and it was a constant cause of tension between my brother, Tonnie and I. You see, I fell in love with rock music, just listening to that one tape. But he never understood that that was even called music. So I would find him playing another tape, and I would feel like listening to rock music. Out went his tape. In went Newsboys. And soon we would be fighting.

However, there were a few times I would find the cassette player free, like when he was out playing or very early in the morning before he woke up. That’s when I would play my Newsboys tape undisturbed. Soon I would be playing the sixth track, titled Let It Go.

As you can imagine, after listening to that song, I would automatically forgive my brother and forget all about the fights and the bullying. I call it bullying because whenever we fought, he always beat me. I would always be the one to run to Mummy. Let It Go was the first Newsboys song I learnt. I sang it every time. Soon, it started making a lot of sense to me. And whenever I felt like not forgiving someone, I would remember the words

Beneath the cross you hear his words
“Father forgive them,” and you know
You don’t understand it let it go.

I would think of how much Christ forgave me when he died on the cross, and I would easily forgive.

This song came to my mind recently as I was thinking about a testimony I read on my Church’s Facebook Group Wall by KalungiImmaculate. It was a magnificent story on forgiveness. It touched my heart. So I thought I would share with you something about forgiveness.

Will you forgive? It doesn’t matter how badly you’ve been hurt, or whether it’s too small an offense. I learnt from Immaculate’s testimony that walking around with a grudge or hatred can poison your soul and steal your joy. However badly you’ve been hurt, it’s not worth the pain of bitterness.

Please listen to the Newsboys’ song, Let It Go, and choose to let go of all the hurt and pain you’ve ever experienced. It may not be easy, but who said we only do what’s easy? You may not feel like doing it, but when you become overweight, you’ll have to take up regular exercise even when you don’t feel like it.

I have lived a pretty good life, and somehow feel unqualified to talk about forgiving and letting go, since I have never been hurt so bad. The worst I’ve ever been hurt was when my girlfriend walked out on me without giving an explanation. Ok, she gave an explanation. One that I never understood. She said that she had stopped loving me. What had I done? Nothing!
I guess I forgive her whenever I think about her.

One day, Jesus got treated to a rare foot massage. His feet were massaged with tears and a prostitute’s hair. Then they were doused with expensive perfume. His host started complaining. Jesus replied him by telling him a story of two servants who had outstanding debts with their master. One’s debt was extremely high, while the other one was simply too lazy to pay up the few cents he was owed. Their master forgave them both.

“Who of the two loved the master more,” Jesus asked in conclusion.

“The one that was forgiven the bigger debt,” his host replied.

That was when Jesus dropped a bomb: “"Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn't quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn't it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal." (Luke 7:44-47, The Message)

You may hear me or some other person talk so much about the importance of forgiveness, but if you haven’t received forgiveness yourself, you won’t be able to extend that same forgiveness to another person. Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8, NKJV)
If you haven’t received this free gift of forgiveness, where you know that God has forgiven you of all your sins, that is, the sins you’ve ever committed, the ones you are committing right now, and the ones you will ever commit, then you can’t extend that same gift to someone else.

So, are you struggling with forgiving someone? Why don’t you start by receiving God’s forgiveness? Then go ahead and forgive yourself and all that have hurt you. Let God heal you as you let go.

Please don’t wait for an apology in a bottle. Give freely, because you have freely received.

Is there a time when you struggled with letting someone go? How did you go about it? 

PS: Forgive my excuse for a video. that's what i found on youtube.... maybe i didn't search long enough. but at least you can hear the words. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Your Love

there is a thought
that i'm trying to get out
it is bigger than my head
no words can describe
so i can't bring it out
and i don't know what to say
so i'll just say this

Lord i love you very much
i love you very much
and it's all because you first loved me

there's a feeling in my heart
that is pleading to come out
there's a knowing in my soul
that cannot be understood
but you said in your prayer
and those words i'll use
that God loves me just
as he loves Jesus Christ

Lord, you love me very much
you love me very much
just as much as you love Jesus Christ

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Incest! Or Is It Freedom?

One day, a Son of Adam needed a wife. So he went and tried his luck with a Daughter of Eve

Son of Adam: Dad said that I am to marry you.
Daughter of Eve: But you are my brother!
Son of Adam: I know. But if I don’t marry you, who will I marry that’s not my sister?
Daughter of Eve: God should make someone suitable for you from your rib, the way he made it for dad.
Son of Adam: But God no longer does those things. Sister, you must accept to take me as your husband!
Daughter of Eve: Don’t you realise that will be incest?
Son of Adam: What’s that?
Daughter of Eve: It’s the sin where you have sex with your relative.
Son of Adam: But everyone around is our relative. Who should we have sex with now?
Daughter of Eve: Brother, it is against the Law!
Son of Adam: Which law?
Daughter of Eve: God’s law.
Son of Adam: But God’s law is over 1000 years into the future. How does it affect us now?
Daughter of Eve: You don’t understand, do you?
Son of Adam: No. You don’t understand. There is no law right now against you marrying me. 1000 years from now, there will be one, but we won’t be here! So why should we be bound by a law we are not under?
Daughter of Eve: Do you know that you make a lot of sense, brother?
Son of Adam: Uh-huh...
Daughter of Eve: Oh brother, you are the most charming boy I’ve ever seen! Have I ever told you that I dream about you every night?
Son of Adam: No, you’ve never
Daughter of Eve: So, whose hut? Mine or yours?

You are not under law, but under grace. (see Romans 6:14)
Just thinking.... are you trying to live under a law you are not under?

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love” (Galatians 5:1, 6, The Message)

But don’t forget! There is a disclaimer (or is it?): “It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows.” (verse 13)