Posted by: Veroni Kruger | April 7, 2014

Prayer for the elections

N.P. van Wyk Louw’s poem “O wye en droewe land” given below in the English translation by Guy Butler, seems to be an appropriate prayer as we approach the 2014 elections in South Africa.  The relatively peaceful transition in 1994 was something like what Van wyk Louw had in mind when he wrote the poem.  I believe we can trust God for something like that again this year.  The results of what we are praying for may not be immediately apparent, but that should not deter us from praying for it.

O wide and woeful land, alone
under the great southern stars,
will never an intense joy disturb
your calm unmoving grief?
You know the lone souls, unaware
of their own suffering and pain,
the far-off death upon the veld,
the burial small and brief.

Simple people who perform
true and singly bitter things
and singly fall like grains of seed;
dumb deeds, small trust, small treachery
of those who for another lord
like serfs leave you in need.

Will never a mighty beauty come
Like hail-white thuderheads that bloom
above your mountains’ darkest stance,
and never a deed occur in you
To echo over earth, and taunt
Time with its impotence?

A grandeur of so pure a gleam
that people in remotest lands,
hearing the rumour of your name,
with eye unclouded, wild, shall stare
like those old travellers in the night
who saw, astounded, rim after rim
new star-like flowers, lift and bloom
our of your oceans’ foam and fear?

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | April 7, 2014

Gebed om die verkiesing

Terwyl ons afstuur op die verkiesing van 2014 lyk dit my die gedig van N.P. van Wyk Louw is ‘n paslike gebed.  Die relatief vreedsame oorgang in 1994 was iets soos waarvan Van Wyk Louw skryf.  Kan ons vertrou dat 7 Mei ook so verbasend sal wees?  Ek glo ons kan, al is die resultate nie onmiddellik sigbaar nie.

O wye en droewe land
N.P van Wyk Louw

 O wye en droewe land, alleen
onder die groot suidersterre.
Sal nooit ‘n hoë blydskap kom
deur jou stil droefenis?
Jy ken die pyn en eensaam lye
van onbewuste enkelinge,
die verre sterwe op die veld,
die klein begrafenis;

 eenvoudige mense wat getrou
en enkeld bitter dinge doen,
en enkeld val soos korrels saad;
stil daad, klein trou, klein trouloosheid
van dié wat om ‘n ander diens soos knegte jou verlaat.

 Sal nooit ‘n magtige skoonheid kom
oor jou soos die haelwit somerwolk
wat uitbloei oor jou donker berge,
en nooit in jou ‘n daad geskied
wat opklink oor die aarde en
die jare in hul onmag terge;

 ‘n grootsheid van so ‘n suiwer glans,
dat mense in ‘n verre land
wat van jou naam die melding hoor,
met wilde en helder oog sal staar
soos vroeë vaarders in die nag
verslae gesien het kim bo kim
die nuwe, blom-groot sterre styg
op uit jou see se wit gevaar?”

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | February 24, 2014

Is there really only one way to get to God?  And is that way Jesus Christ?

There are obviously many ways of getting closer to God.  To begin with, there is something of God in every culture.  This finds rapport with that part of God that is built into every human being.  Having been created “in the image of God”, we possess certain characteristics of God that distinguishes us from other animals.

Whether we admit it or not, something in us calls for God, as God calls for us.  “Deep calls unto deep” is one way the Psalmist expresses this, saying “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.  I thirst for God, the living God” (Ps 47, New Living Translation).

Another, more modern, songwriter says “I looked for Him in the heart of a friend and He was there”.

One does not have to be pantheistic to experience God in nature.

Greek philosophers discovered another way to God.  Many of them were earnestly seeking the truth.  They found themselves on a journey that started with polytheism, that is, believing in many gods.  This was probably due in large part to an effort to account for natural events that they had no other explanation for than to ascribe them to some divine intervention.  Over many years the journey led to their recognizing that there is only one god.  Finally, one of them said “We have now come to realize that there is only one god.  However, we will never know him until he comes to us.”

And then he came!  He did something that no other “god” had ever done, that is, to become a human being, living as an ordinary human being among other human beings.  He identified Himself absolutely with us at our worst.  So absolutely did he identify Himself with us that He even died.  And then, big surprise – he rose again from the dead!

For two thousand years people have been trying to disprove these facts.  It is ironic that, even as they try to prove that he does not exist, they cannot get away from Him, and use his name when they don’t quite know how else to express what they feel.  In a strange way “Jesus!” is the answer, even to the unbeliever!

But to get back to our initial question:  Is there really only one way to get to God?  And is that way Jesus Christ?

It depends on what you mean “get to God.”  If you mean search for truth with all your heart, then there are many ways.  Serious scientific work is one of these ways.  If you mean “experience something of the divine”, then there as many ways, e.g. listening to good music.

If you mean “enter into a personal relationship with God, thereby discovering your self in the truest sense of the word, and experience the wonder of this life together with the expectation of an eternal life hereafter” … Well, then I have to tell you that no religion can offer that.  And yes, in that sense, I believe there is only one way to God, and that is through Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | January 29, 2014

Big Bang, Black hole, Biggest Blunder?

There is something poetically (maybe tragically?) intriguing in Stephen Hawking’s recent statement about his supposed big mistake.  According to the website New Scientist*, Hawkings said his “biggest blunder” was his idea that information was destroyed by black holes.  He was referring to 1974, when he added quantum mechanics to the theory of black holes, and arrived at the conclusion that he now says was his biggest blunder.  Turning 70 now, it has taken him 40 years and a bet with another physicist to discover his mistake.  He has now come to believe that light and information may be able to escape from black holes.

Speaking of blunders.  How about this one?  “The universe can create itself out of nothing, and God is no longer necessary.” (The same highly intelligent Stephen Hawking, in The Grand Design, his recently published book with coauthor Leonard Mlodinow,)  (As an aside:  “God is no longer necessary”?  Do I perceive a faint glimmer of faith in the past?)

Now that sounds like a real black hole to me.  Firstly in the simple illogicality of it all. Secondly, in the pathetic reasoning of nothing creating itself (still nothing?) out of nothing.  Come on!  Let’s get real!

My three-year old granddaughter would ask “Where did the ‘nothing’ come from”?  Even she would know that nothing plus nothing cannot equal something, as zero times zero cannot equal everything.  That is, except if there were Somebody doing something extraordinary to create something out of nothing.

There is no doubt that Hawking is a brilliant scientist.  I have to add that I admire him for admitting his mistake.  Nevertheless, looking over his comments, I cannot help but think it must be awfully hard to persuade oneself that God does not exist!

Then again, it may be quite simple.    There are none so blind as those who do not want to see.  You just decide that, whatever common sense tells you, whatever you see around you, whatever … you will not believe.  Now that is a black hole!

So now Mr Hawking believes that light and information may be able to escape from black holes.  There is that poetic thing again: One thing is for sure, and that is light and information can penetrate any black hole of man’s imagination or disbelief.  The light that illuminates every person came into the world, and the power of darkness could not overpower it (John 1).  The information of the Word of God and the light of the Person of Jesus Christ can bring light where there is darkness.

According to my sources, Hawking finds the solution to the mystery of black holes in giving up the very thing that makes them so mysterious. That is, the idea of an “event horizon.”  That is, again, not any old horizon, but the “apparent horizon.”  The solution to the black hole of ignorance and disbelief lies in giving up the “mystery” of it all.  Allow the Lord to illuminate your mind and see what happens to the darkness around you.  Forget about the “apparent horizons” of man’s imagination, and focus on the reality of the God who created everything around you.  Like I said above:  Come on!  Let’s get real!

Here is a challenge, no, rather an invitation, to everyone who is struggling to cope with the black holes:  Try Jesus with an open mind, invite Him to illuminate you, and see what happens.

But Stephen Hawking …?  Well, you know, he might change his mind again after some years, and maybe another bet.  On the other hand, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

*Quoted in http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/01/26/stephen-hawking-contradicts-earlier-black-hole-claims

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | January 29, 2014

New Blog!

To everyone who has been following my blog, and to all who may still come: Please note that my blog has moved. The new URL is http://www.veronisviews.com

Very important: Regardless of whether you subscribed to the existing blog, please subscribe again to the new one. I would hate to lose you!

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | January 20, 2014

What must the church do about gays?

The answer is simple: Love them!

Over the last number of years we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people who profess to be gay. That may be because more people are gay, or that more gays are “coming out”. In addition, there is growing official recognition of gay relationships for legal reasons like privileges that were formerly reserved for unions between people of different sex.

The church can no longer avoid the issue. Some have responded by becoming more legalistic about it, like my friend who denied his son access to their home “until you are straight again” (sic!) and the pastor who denied a professing gay membership in the local church. There are others who have come to the conclusion that gay relationships are quite in order from a Biblical point of view.

Today I want to address that part of the church that believes being gay is not the ideal, or, at worst, is sinful. My point is that whether you agree with the lifestyle or not, you are still obligated by command of the Lord, to love gays as you are obligated to love all people.

I am always amazed at how the church assumes for itself the role of grading what it considers to be sinful. As I understand the Bible, there is only one sin that is unforgivable, and that is the sin against the Holy Spirit. Yet the church has often taken it upon itself to identify other transgressions as the ultimate. Smaller groupings have been more outspoken, condemning people for such things as smoking, dancing, going to the movies, drinking alcoholic beverages etc. More general has been the condemning of people who have been divorced. One denomination barred all divorcees from ever participating in any kind of ministry – that in spite of the fact that 30% of their members had gone through a divorce. Similarly, many now regard being gay as the ultimate sin.

Speaking of grading sins: The Bible promises liars the same punishment as a few other serious transgressors, among whom are murderers (Rev 21.8) – interestingly enough, gays are not mentioned here.

Let us continue to proclaim the Word of God, based on sound exegetical principles and not according to our own likes and dislikes and fears. Let us proclaim the truth in love so that we may all grow in every way to be more like Christ (Eph 4.15).

Let us create an environment in which everyone may feel free to worship God with us, trusting God to move in people’s lives to make of them what He wants them to be. In the “bounded set” concept of church there are two groups of people: The “we” group that consider themselves to be better than the “they” group, based on a set of attributes, real or imaginary. Let us rather be a “centred” set, in which all are striving to serve God, with Jesus Christ at the centre.

Let us be careful not to sin more seriously by our judgmental attitude than those whom we assume we are entitled to judge may be sinning.

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | January 8, 2014

Kobus van Rensburg is dead

The recent passing of two leaders has made me contemplate the meaning of death again. One was Nelson Mandela, beloved and respected first president of South Africa since the first truly democratic elections in that country. The other was Kobus van Rensburg, also beloved and respected, although by a much smaller group, mostly people who felt they had benefited from his ministry.

A few years ago, when someone asked Mandela how he felt about ageing he said “How can I feel bad about something as natural as ageing?” I suspect he would respond in the same manner if someone were to have asked him how he felt about dying. The great man realized that dying is as natural as living.

According to Jesus, natural death is only the passage to life hereafter to those who believe in Him. No wonder then that the apostle Paul declares that death has no more power over the believer (1 Corinthians 15.55-57). To those who follow Christ, life after this earthly life is much more attractive than this one. Or is it?

I remember being perplexed as a young boy at the paradox in the confessions of people. In the church in which I grew up we sang many songs about how we long to be with Jesus. Yet those same people would pray desperately for healing if they or someone dear to them got sick. So here were these people who should see the serious illness as an opportunity to go to have their longing fulfilled, yet backing away from it as if this were the great enemy. My logic was and still is more or less like the little boy who was asked what you need to do to go to be with Jesus. “You got to die!” he said.

So why the tumultuous protestations about the death of Kobus van Rensburg? The following thoughts came to mind.

We run the risk of developing an unhealthy obsession with this life as if it were the beginning and the end. Jesus warns about becoming obsessed with the greatness of this life. It is a real danger even to people who profess to be followers of Jesus.

Sadly, there is often a lack of understanding of what the Bible teaches about death. The comments I made above show how we should view death. Someone once said “Death is not a black wall signifying the absolute end. Rather it is a white passageway indicating the beginning!”

Lack of faith in God is our greatest enemy. Is it God we trust, or is our trust ultimately in a human being? God was pointing Joshua to the right approach when he said: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land that I am about to give them” (Joshua 1.2). Leaders come and go, but God is always with us.

When we do not really trust God above all else, we easily develop an unhealthy obsession with a human being. We praise God for the gifts and talents he bestows on human beings. We are grateful when they exercise those gifts for the benefit of many around them and for the extension of the Kingdom of God. If they do so in the right manner, they will always point to Jesus rather than to themselves. If the gifted person or those who follow him or her go beyond that in any way and draws more attention to themselves, they run the risk of becoming idolators – worshipping themselves. Moreover, they may be cultivating idolators around them – people who in effect worship the leaders more than God.

However “strong” the leader may be, when he or she comes to the end of their life, our attitude should be: We are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, therefore we are not leaderless. We have learned previous lessons from human leaders, and we will continue to exercise the best of those practices in following the Lord. We have the Word of God, of which the Lord said it shall never pass away, even if heaven and earth were to disappear.

Kobus van Rensburg is dead; Mandela is dead; Moses is dead; leaders come and go. Jesus is alive!

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | December 29, 2013

The Way Things Are

“My heart is in pieces.Although I know that there is hope, and that there are good things in the world, and that the light overcomes the darkness, today I feel the world is in ruins, and today I have no optimism in me. We have the hope of Christ, but today I struggle to find that hope. And I have to speak up.” Read more of this blog on the following link:

The Way Things Are.

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | July 28, 2013

How Do I Find Out The Will Of God?

Every truly devout believer wants to follow God’s will in every aspect of their lives. We know that is the safest way to live. If we are in God’s will, we know we’ll be okay, even when things seem to go wrong. Going out of the will of God is like a train running off its tracks, only much worse.

The will of God means staying within the intention of God for your life. “Will of God” actually means “what God wants.” Applied to our lives, that means what He wants for us. His intention is that you may receive the best possible of everything. The best for you, which is not what the best for anyone else may be. Jeremiah 29.11 is indicative of God’s intentions for all his children:
” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”

How shall we know what God’s will is? In trying to discover what his will is, we are dealing with all kinds of factors. Circumstances, long term expectations that may be realistic or unrealistic, fears, the expectations of other people, the Spirit of God who wants to lead us into doing what God wants us to do, and Satan whose ultimate aim is to destroy us and who knows a first step in that direction is to divert us from God’s purposes for our lives. As we try to discern the will of God for us, we have to deal with each of these “voices”. They crowd in on our awareness, they are immediate and make themselves visible, audible and sometimes even tangible. They are often like noise that makes it difficult for us to hear the voice of God. He is invisible, intangible, and reaches us through means that present a motivation that is often totally different from all other influences.

There are four steps we should take in attempting to discern the will of God for ourselves.

1. Live each day in submission to God
2. Find out all the facts about the matter about which you are seeking God’s will
3. Quiet yourself so that you shut out all other “voices”
4. Ask yourself what it is you want to do.

1. Live each day in submission to God

Trying to find out what God’s will is without living in submission to Him, is nothing but crisis management. If we do not live in submission to Him, we are allowing the mixture of our own desires and external factors to control us. This becomes a habit with us. To then suddenly demand to know what God’s will is, is so foreign to how we habitually make decisions, that it is very difficult. On top of that, we usually become desperate to know God’s will when we are in a crisis. That makes it even more difficult to break out of a habit.

What does it mean to live in submission to God? It means to recognize that God is sovereign, not only in the universe, but also in our own lives. Consequently, we want to live in such a manner that He will be honoured through our lives. “Lord, what do you want me to do?” becomes the maxim of our lives.

The first place we look to find out how we should live to bring Him honour, is the Bible. We call it the Word of God. “Word of God” means God spoke. Everything God speaks cannot be contained in one book. But everything we need to know about how to live in this life and prepare for eternal life is contained in this book. It also contains the principles by which we interpret all the other ways God speaks, e.g. through creation, other people, our own thoughts or emotions etc.

Seeking specific guidance from God in a specific aspect of our lives is most effective when we live in an attitude of submission to Him. Essential to living in submission is honouring the Bible for what it is, and basing our lives on what the Bible teaches.

2. Find out all the facts about the matter about which you are seeking God’s will

This is necesary because it is the most common-sense thing to do. Also, Jesus enjoins us to do it when He says it is foolish to start building a tower without calculating what it will cost, or going to war without finding out how many the enemy are compared to your own numbers. It is also necessary for a psychological reason, which, in turn, has spiritual ramifications. Trying to make important decisions without ensuring that there are no hidden fears or false expectations is like travelling on an imaginary road. It’s simply healthy all round to make sure of all facts you can find out!

In this step you also talk to other people who know you and know something about what you have to make a decision about, or have had to make the same kind of decision, and have had to deal with the consequences of their decision. Since you tell yourself ahead of time that this is not the final step in your decision-making, you can do the fact-finding fearlessly. Your motivation here is finding out the truth. What you do with what you discover is going to be up to you. Use every possible source, including people. Beware that some “facts” may be wordly wisdom, e.g. You need lots of money to be happy, there’s something wrong with you if you don’t “have ambition” (to get rich/drive a new car/live in a big house …), get married when all your friends do, …) This isoften nonsense, like the old advertisement “Life is better with Coke.”

3. Quiet yourself so that you shut out all other “voices”

This step may be the most difficult one. You now have many different “voices” resounding in your mind: Your own expectations/fears/preferences/prejudices etc. as well as those of everyone you are in relationship with or have spoken or heard of or from; every past experience you have had; all the facts you have found out, … There is also that voice of the Accuser, the great Discourager, the Prophet of Doom, Satan, who wants to mislead you in every possible way. Thank God, there is also the Holy Spirit.

There is a place in your heart/mind/spirit to which only you and the Spirit of God have access. Paul talks about that place when he says no-one knows what is in a person except the spirit of that person. That is where you now have to focus.

Shut out all voices except the voice of the Holy Spirit. The old song says “On the Jericho road, there’s room for just two; no more and no less, just Jesus and you.” Imagine yourself right there. Alone with Jesus!

Now you are ready to decide! It’s the right place for making important decisions.

4. Ask yourself what it is you want to do.

You may have been expecting me to say “Ask God …” I have found that to be very difficult for many people. It often brings with it all sorts of uncertainties, like “How will He speak to me?”, “How will I know it’s really Him?” I believe that if you have followed the steps previously outlined, God will speak to you, and that the way He will speak will be a strong personal conviction. That is why I believe in keeping it simple: What is it you want to do. Paul says God works in us to make us want what He wants and to do what He wants us to do.

This last step is an act of conviction, and a step of faith. God will honour it, and provide the guidance you need.

Complementary to the process I have described above, is the test of consistency. Repeat what is outlined in steps 3 and 4. Coming to the same conclusion each time serves as confirmation. Someone said: “If it grows on you, you can be certain it is the will of God.”

Happy seeking God’s will!
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: That if we ask anything according to his will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him (1 John 5.14&15).”

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | April 3, 2013

Violence Against Women 4: Violence begins at home …

The saying goes that charity begins at home. Actually, everything begins at home!

Those first six or seven years are absolutely formative in the life of a child. Every individual is responsible for his or her own life. Yet it is a fact that what we perceive and experience in the first few years of our lives is determinative of how we approach the rest of our time in this world. Patterns of thought and the resultant patterns of behaviour we learn in the home are hardest to “unlearn.”

I learnt from my father how a woman should be treated. I learnt from my mother how a woman expects to be treated in a civilised environment. Along with their positive input, there were the bare facts of what happens if you transgress either of their two sets of complementary guidelines. Woe betide …!

This cuts all ways. Children who grow up in an environment where there is violence run a great risk of perpetuating the pattern. The little boy who is molested may be so conditioned as to believe that is the way things ought to go, and repeat to other people what was done to him. Boys are inclined to treat the women in the manner they saw their fathers treat the women in their household. The little girl may grow up to believe that the way she saw things being done in their home is the right way.

Of course there are degrees of violence. I like to believe that the majority of people who read this blog will not be perpetrators of extreme violence. But I think we need to realize that even subtle forms of a lack of regard can establish harmful patterns of behaviour.

Respect is at the base of much civilised behaviour. Respect for other people, their property or their person is the best form of prevention of violence in all degrees. Along with love, respect is a pillar of any happy marriage. Respect is an essential part of an orderly society. It is this element that we need to teach our children from the earliest time of their lives to ensure they do not resort to violence of any kind.

The Bible has clear instructions for this kind of teaching.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6.5-9).

What this passage means is “Do not neglect any opportunities to teach your children the way they should live. Realize that even the most mundane events in the life of your family are great training opportunities.”

Yes, true love, along with all its consequences, both preventative and proactive, begins at home.

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