Posted by: Veroni Kruger | February 14, 2011

GOD WANTS YOU TO HAVE ABUNDANT JOY

A few years ago, the pastor of the church we were attending at the time asked me a brave question: “Are you happy in my church?” After trying unsuccessfully to avoid giving him a direct answer, I eventually had to own up: “To tell you the truth, no!”

Of course, he could not really avoid the next question: “Why is that?”

“Because I have not been aware of the presence and power of God in your church for a very long time. “

I believe in saying that, I was expressing the thought of many Christians. It’s not that we are bent on instant gratification, or focused on artificial spiritual “highs” (on the contrary), or seeking the sensational (definitely not!). It’s also not because we have become self-centred, and want everything to be exactly as we would like it – with the great variety of churches around today, anybody should be able to find one that suits their taste, if that were the problem.

Human beings need God, in every aspect of our lives. God made us like that, and He wants to meet us at the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical levels. Furthermore, Jesus said He would be present wherever people met in his name, that is, because He commanded them to do so. We are therefore to expect the reality of God’s presence when we meet together.

We are told to “just believe”, and not to seek any real sign of what we are needing. Yet the Bible tells us of manifestations of God’s presence. This took on different forms: From intense joy, to peace, to manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to changes in people’s lives, even to physical happenings like buildings shaking … and many more, as diverse as the wonderful, diverse God we serve.

John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard movement, a few months after becoming a Christian, asked of his church leaders: “When are we going to start doing the stuff?” His problem was that he read in the Bible how Jesus did the stuff (healing, driving out demons, changing lives …) and fully expected that to happen anywhere believers were gathered.

After struggling financially on the stipend he was receiving as a singer in the synagogue, Yussel, the cantor’s son (in the movie The Jazz Singer, with Neil Diamond) left, saying “God don’t pay so good!”

Looking at many churches (most, in my experience) where dead is good enough, mere ritual is supposed to be “life”, fear of manifestations is the norm, we feel inclined to say: “God ain’t revealing Himself so good anymore!” Thank God, this is not true. The problem lies not with God, but with ourselves. The tragedy is that many people, particularly young people, leave the church to seek reality, often finding only the sorry imitation of it, elsewhere.

I hope you will think about this, and see what I write next week.

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | February 5, 2011

I WAS BORN IN THE FIRE, AND I CAN’T LIVE IN THE SMOKE!

I don’t know who first used this sentence, but I can identify completely with it. It has been ascribed to a leader in the Salvation Army, who probably meant that he loved the fire and enthusiasm of that movement, as compared to the lack of enthusiasm he saw in some other groupings. I first heard it used by my father, who was referring to the reality of the Holy Spirit, in contrast to any imitations of it.

I long for this reality, and I cannot understand why some Christians never miss it, some fear it, and some even fight against it! In the next few blogs, I want to elaborate on my experience and the Scriptural foundations for what I believe about the Holy Spirit.

My first experience of the Holy Spirit was in the church of which my father (L.L.Kruger) was the pastor in Kimberley, South Africa. This experience was characterized by the peaceful excitement of worship services during which we felt the presence of the Spirit of love and power. We knew that anything could happen, yet we were confident that we were safe in enjoying the warmth. We felt secure, knowing that our leaders possessed adequate knowledge of Scripture and wisdom about how to follow the teachings of Scripture. On the other hand we believed that God loved us, and was more than able to make up for human fallibility.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” (Luke 11.11-12)

What I experienced there was nothing like the extreme emotionalism of some Pentecostal churches. However, it was also so much more than the fearful avoidance of anything that might be out of the ordinary, practised by so many good, Christian churches.

Although not the only reason, I believe the church’s openness to, and dependence on the Holy Spirit were very important factors in the transformation we saw in the lives of people. Many came to know the Lord in a personal relationship of faith; many whose lives were in total disarray through unfortunate backgrounds or bad decisions were transformed into happy, fulfilled people; there were also miracles of healing and delivery from bad habits and addictions.

I came to faith in Jesus on 17 August 1954. Four years later, during prayer meetings held to commemorate Pentecost, I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, on May 22, 1958. It was a tremendous experience! What initially felt like shock waves flowing through my body, became a mighty torrent of words that flooded my brain, waiting to be uttered. I spoke in tongues for over an hour, all the time feeling as if I was being bathed in the power and love of God.

As I emerged from that experience, I knew my life had been changed once again. It was as if I had received confirmation of my experience of salvation, and had received a promise of strength for whatever challenges I had to face. How I wish that we all may experience both the exhilaration of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the ongoing fruit of the power of God through his indwelling Spirit.

THE WORD OF GOD AND THE BIBLE

Because of God’s otherness and his uniqueness, it is impossible to comprehensively represent his attributes and deeds in human language. On the other hand, language and the ability to use language is a distinguishing characteristic of man, one of the characteristics that are most closely related to the ability to think. The ability to think, in turn, is probably one of the most important aspects in which we have been created “in the image of God.” It follows that it is possible to describe in human language anything that has to do with God, as closely as we can come to understanding it. What must always be borne in mind, is that we are trying to approach that which is not definable and impossible to be circumscribed, through means that are definable and circumscribed.

The Word of God is what God says. “Says” in the sense of expressing what is in the mind of God. This may be referring to speaking as communication, such as when the book of Hebrews says that God spoke in many ways, and ultimately also through his Son. John even calls the Son the Word of God. This means that God spoke through Christ.

It also means “says” as when God brought creation into being. God created the universe by his Word, that is, by speaking. His speaking in this case was simultaneously also an act, by which creation came into being.

It is impossible to record what God has said and is still saying in the same manner that one can record other sounds. It is inconceivable that even the most powerful recording equipment in the world would be able to record God speaking. This is the reason why God “recorded” his speaking through other means.

One of the consequences of the image of God in humans, and the resultant similarities between God and human beings, is the ability of humans to be receptors of what God speaks. By means of the communication that takes place between the Spirit of God and the spirit of man, it is possible for people to “hear” God when He “speaks”. Different people receive what God is saying in different ways, according to their own dispositions. E.g. the person whose mode of expression is mostly verbal, will generally “receive” what God is saying as words or sentences, even single phrases. People whose mode of expression tends to be more visual, e.g. artists, may “hear” God through visual patterns, such as visions, etc.

Word of God is part of the revelation of God. It is described as such to distinguish it from other modes of revelation by God that do not include the act of speaking. Psalm 19 begins by describing the revelation of God through nature, progressing to the revelation of God that takes place through the spoken word.

The Bible is often called the Word of God, because it contains the revelation of God, written down in the form of language. Nevertheless, the Bible cannot really be considered to be the Word of God, because the Word of God is everything that God has ever said, and the Bible cannot contain that. John himself says of Jesus that all the books in the world could not contain everything that Jesus did and said in the short period of the three years He spent on the earth. How much more impossible would it be to capture everything God has ever said in one book.

The process by which the Bible came to us, also makes it impossible to equate it with the Word of God as He has spoken it. People wrote down what is contained in the Bible, and this implies of necessity that there will be “errors” in the Bible. The process of transmission contributes further to its not being as pure as when God himself speaks. (Note that this does not in any way question the belief in the inerrancy of the Bible.)

The Bible contains matters pertaining to the Word of God as God said it. It also contains the description of the reaction of humans to what God said; God’s dealings with people; and how people handled circumstances of life according to what God said, or not according to what He said. The Word of God in the Bible is particularly in the foreground in the description of the earthly life and ministry of Jesus. However, apart from the Word of God, the Bible also contains historic facts. This begins with the Biblical account of creation and the early history of mankind (to the extent that it is relevant to the message the Bible actually wants to convey). It covers the history of the people of Israel, both as God’s people and as an ordinary political and national entity. The history of the nations surrounding Israel is touched upon, and the history of the early church receives a lot of attention. The theologizing in the letters of the apostles is to a large extent an effort on their part to systematize and put in perspective aspects of what they perceive God to have said.

What then, is the relationship between the Word of God and the Bible? The Bible contains those parts of the Word of God that God knows are necessary for human beings to live in this world, and to prepare for eternity. Someone said “Jesus comes to me out of the pages of the Bible.” We get to know Jesus – as the perfect revelation of the Word of God in earthly terms – in the Bible

God has never stopped speaking. He still speaks to people today from the Bible. That is what people experience when they say that a portion of Scripture suddenly “came alive” for them. The Bible also plays a role in the contemporary speaking of God, in that it prepares one to hear from God. By hearing about Him through the Bible, one learns the truth that he speaks, and that He still wants to speak. One also learns something of the mind of God, so that one is prepared to “hear” when He speaks to you. Because the Bible contains such a vast part of the revelation of God, it also serves as objective norm, enabling one to evaluate what one believes one has heard from God. This enables one to determine whether God could really have said what you believe you have heard Him say.

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | September 20, 2010

IS the Bible the Word of God?

Something I said in my previous blog created such a stir that I decided to post a fuller account. Pressed for time, I am posting the Afrikaans version – yes, that is my mother tongue. However, I would be happy to translate it into English if someone requested that.

DIE BYBEL EN DIE WOORD VAN GOD

As gevolg van die feit van God se andersheid en uniekheid, is dit onmoontlik om sy attribute sowel as sy dade, volledig in menslike taal weer te gee. Dit is egter ook so dat taal en die vermoë om taal te gebruik, ‘n onderskeidende kenmerk van die mens is, een van die kenmerke wat ten nouste verbind is aan die vermoë van die mens om te dink. Laasgenoemde is waarskynlik een van die belangrikste aspekte waarin ons “na die beeld van God” geskape is. Dit is dus moontlik om ten minste so na as wat ons daaraan kan kom om enigiets wat met God te doen het, te verstaan, dit ook in menslike taal te beskryf. Solank mens voortdurend in die gedagte hou dat ons deur middel van die omskryfbare en begrensde, die onomskryfbare en onbegrensbare probeer benader.

Die Woord van God is dit wat God sê. “Sê” in die sin van uitdrukking gee aan wat in die gedagte van God is. Dit mag wees dat dit kommunikasie is, soos wanneer Hebreërs sê dat Hy op baie manier gespreek het, en uiteindelik ook deur sy Seun. Johannes noem dan ook die Seun die Woord van God. Dit beteken dat God deur Jesus Christus gepraat het.

Dit is ook soos toe Hy die skepping daargestel het. Deur sy woord het God die skepping daargestel. Sy spreke was in hierdie geval tegelykertyd ook aksie, wat die skepping laat ontstaan het.

Dit is onmoontlik om dit wat God gesê het en nog sê op te neem soos mens met bandopnames ander klanke kan opneem. Dis ondenkbaar dat die kragtigste opnametoerusting in die wêreld dit sou kon opneem. Daarom het God sy spreke op ander wyses laat “opneem”.

‘n Uitvloeisel van die beeld van God in die mens en die daaruit voortvloeiende ooreenkomstes, is die feit dat die mens in staat is om God se spreke te ontvang. Deur die kommunikasie wat plaasvind tussend ie gees van God en die gees van die mens, is dit moontlik vir mense om God te “hoor” met hulle “praat”. Verskillende mense ontvang hierdie spreke van God op verskillende wyses, in ooreenstemming met hulle eie ingesteldhede. Bv. die persoon wie se eie uitdrukkingswyses hoofsaaklik deur middel van taal plaasvind, sal die spreke van God as woorde of sinne, selfs enkele sinsnedes, “ontvang”. Mense wie se uitdrukkingswyses meer visueel is, bv. skilders ens. mag God hoor deur middel van visuele beelde, “gesigte” ens.

Woord van God is deel van die openbaring van God, maar dit word tog so gespesifiseer om dit te onderskei van ander wyses van openbaring deur God wat nie spreke insluit nie. Psalm 19 beskryf eers die openbaring van God deur die natuur, en kom dan uiteindelik by die openbaring van God wat deur middel van die gesproke woord plaasvind.

Die Bybel word dikwels die Woord van God genoem, omdat dit openbarings van God bevat, neergeskryf in die vorm van taal. Die Bybel kan egter nie werklik as die Woord van God beskou word nie, omdat die Woord van God alles is wat God gesê het, en die Bybel kan dit nie bevat nie. Johannes sê selfs van Jesus dat al die boeke in die wêreld nie alles sou kon bevat wat Hy gesê en gedoen het in die bestek van drie kort jare op die aarde nie. Hoeveel te meer sou dit onmoontlik wees dat alles wat God nog ooit gesê het, in ‘n boek vasgevang kon word.

Die proses waardeur die Bybel tot ons gekom het, maak dit ook onmoontlik om dit met die Woord van God soos hy dit uitspreek, te identifiseer. Mense het geskryf wat in die Bybel staan, en dit beteken noodwendig dat daar “foute” in moet wees. Daarby het die proses van oorlewering daartoe bygedra dat dit nie so suiwer kan wees as wanneer God self dit uitspreek nie.

Die Bybel bevat dinge wat sentreer rondom God se Woord, soos wat God gesê het, sowel as die beskrywing van die reaksie van mense op wat God gesê het, God se handelinge met mense, mense se hantering van die omstandighede van die lewe volgens wat God gesê het, of nie daarvolgens nie. Die Woord van God in die Bybel is veral op die voorgrond in die beskrywing van die aardse lewe en bediening van Jesus. Maar benewens die Woord van God, bevat die Bybel ook geskiedkundige gegewens, wat begin met die Bybelse verhaal van die skepping, deur die vroeë geskiedenis van die mensdom (in die mate waarin dit relevant is vir wat die Bybel eintlik wil sê), die geskiedenis van Israel as volk (sowel as God se volk en ‘n gewone politieke en staatkundige entiteit), die geskiedenis van volke rondom Israel, en die geskiedenis van die eerste kerk. Die teologisering in die briewe van die apostels is in groot mate ‘n poging om die gegewens wat hulle meen uit dit wat God gesê het, te haal is, te sistematiseer.

Wat is dan die verhouding tussen die Woord van God en die Bybel? Die Bybel bevat daardie dele van die Woord van God wat God weet vir die mens nodig is in die lewe op aarde, en as voorbereiding vir die lewe hiernamaals. Iemand het gesê “Jesus kom uit die bladsye van die Bybel na my toe.” Ons leer Jesus – as volmaakte openbaring in aardse terme van die Woord van God – in die Bybel ken.

God het nog nooit opgehou praat nie. Hy praat vandag nog met mense uit die Bybel. Dis die ondervinding wat mense het as hulle sê dat ‘n Skrifgedeelte skielik op ‘n dag vir hulle “lewendig geword het”. Die Bybel speel ook verder ‘n rol in hierdie hendendaagse spreke van God, in die sin dat dit mens voorberei daarop om van God te hoor. Deur van Hom deur die Bybel te hoor, leer mens die waarheid dat Hy praat, en nog wil praat. Mens leer ook iets van sy gedagtegang, sodat jy voorbereid is daarop om te hoor wanneer Hy met jou praat. Omdat die Bybel so ‘n omvangryke gedeelte van God se openbaring bevat, dien dit ook as objektiewe norm om dit wat mens dink jy van God gehoor het, te evalueer om te bepaal of Hy dit werklik sou kon gesê het.

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | September 20, 2010

IS the Bible the Word of God?

Something I said in my previous blog created such a stir that I decided to post a fuller account. Pressed for time, I am posting the Afrikaans version – yes, that is my mother tongue. However, I would be happy to translate it into English if someone requested that.

DIE BYBEL EN DIE WOORD VAN GOD

As gevolg van die feit van God se andersheid en uniekheid, is dit onmoontlik om sy attribute sowel as sy dade, volledig in menslike taal weer te gee. Dit is egter ook so dat taal en die vermoë om taal te gebruik, ‘n onderskeidende kenmerk van die mens is, een van die kenmerke wat ten nouste verbind is aan die vermoë van die mens om te dink. Laasgenoemde is waarskynlik een van die belangrikste aspekte waarin ons “na die beeld van God” geskape is. Dit is dus moontlik om ten minste so na as wat ons daaraan kan kom om enigiets wat met God te doen het, te verstaan, dit ook in menslike taal te beskryf. Solank mens voortdurend in die gedagte hou dat ons deur middel van die omskryfbare en begrensde, die onomskryfbare en onbegrensbare probeer benader.

Die Woord van God is dit wat God sê. “Sê” in die sin van uitdrukking gee aan wat in die gedagte van God is. Dit mag wees dat dit kommunikasie is, soos wanneer Hebreërs sê dat Hy op baie manier gespreek het, en uiteindelik ook deur sy Seun. Johannes noem dan ook die Seun die Woord van God. Dit beteken dat God deur Jesus Christus gepraat het.

Dit is ook soos toe Hy die skepping daargestel het. Deur sy woord het God die skepping daargestel. Sy spreke was in hierdie geval tegelykertyd ook aksie, wat die skepping laat ontstaan het.

Dit is onmoontlik om dit wat God gesê het en nog sê op te neem soos mens met bandopnames ander klanke kan opneem. Dis ondenkbaar dat die kragtigste opnametoerusting in die wêreld dit sou kon opneem. Daarom het God sy spreke op ander wyses laat “opneem”.

‘n Uitvloeisel van die beeld van God in die mens en die daaruit voortvloeiende ooreenkomstes, is die feit dat die mens in staat is om God se spreke te ontvang. Deur die kommunikasie wat plaasvind tussend ie gees van God en die gees van die mens, is dit moontlik vir mense om God te “hoor” met hulle “praat”. Verskillende mense ontvang hierdie spreke van God op verskillende wyses, in ooreenstemming met hulle eie ingesteldhede. Bv. die persoon wie se eie uitdrukkingswyses hoofsaaklik deur middel van taal plaasvind, sal die spreke van God as woorde of sinne, selfs enkele sinsnedes, “ontvang”. Mense wie se uitdrukkingswyses meer visueel is, bv. skilders ens. mag God hoor deur middel van visuele beelde, “gesigte” ens.

Woord van God is deel van die openbaring van God, maar dit word tog so gespesifiseer om dit te onderskei van ander wyses van openbaring deur God wat nie spreke insluit nie. Psalm 19 beskryf eers die openbaring van God deur die natuur, en kom dan uiteindelik by die openbaring van God wat deur middel van die gesproke woord plaasvind.

Die Bybel word dikwels die Woord van God genoem, omdat dit openbarings van God bevat, neergeskryf in die vorm van taal. Die Bybel kan egter nie werklik as die Woord van God beskou word nie, omdat die Woord van God alles is wat God gesê het, en die Bybel kan dit nie bevat nie. Johannes sê selfs van Jesus dat al die boeke in die wêreld nie alles sou kon bevat wat Hy gesê en gedoen het in die bestek van drie kort jare op die aarde nie. Hoeveel te meer sou dit onmoontlik wees dat alles wat God nog ooit gesê het, in ‘n boek vasgevang kon word.

Die proses waardeur die Bybel tot ons gekom het, maak dit ook onmoontlik om dit met die Woord van God soos hy dit uitspreek, te identifiseer. Mense het geskryf wat in die Bybel staan, en dit beteken noodwendig dat daar “foute” in moet wees. Daarby het die proses van oorlewering daartoe bygedra dat dit nie so suiwer kan wees as wanneer God self dit uitspreek nie.

Die Bybel bevat dinge wat sentreer rondom God se Woord, soos wat God gesê het, sowel as die beskrywing van die reaksie van mense op wat God gesê het, God se handelinge met mense, mense se hantering van die omstandighede van die lewe volgens wat God gesê het, of nie daarvolgens nie. Die Woord van God in die Bybel is veral op die voorgrond in die beskrywing van die aardse lewe en bediening van Jesus. Maar benewens die Woord van God, bevat die Bybel ook geskiedkundige gegewens, wat begin met die Bybelse verhaal van die skepping, deur die vroeë geskiedenis van die mensdom (in die mate waarin dit relevant is vir wat die Bybel eintlik wil sê), die geskiedenis van Israel as volk (sowel as God se volk en ‘n gewone politieke en staatkundige entiteit), die geskiedenis van volke rondom Israel, en die geskiedenis van die eerste kerk. Die teologisering in die briewe van die apostels is in groot mate ‘n poging om die gegewens wat hulle meen uit dit wat God gesê het, te haal is, te sistematiseer.

Wat is dan die verhouding tussen die Woord van God en die Bybel? Die Bybel bevat daardie dele van die Woord van God wat God weet vir die mens nodig is in die lewe op aarde, en as voorbereiding vir die lewe hiernamaals. Iemand het gesê “Jesus kom uit die bladsye van die Bybel na my toe.” Ons leer Jesus – as volmaakte openbaring in aardse terme van die Woord van God – in die Bybel ken.

God het nog nooit opgehou praat nie. Hy praat vandag nog met mense uit die Bybel. Dis die ondervinding wat mense het as hulle sê dat ‘n Skrifgedeelte skielik op ‘n dag vir hulle “lewendig geword het”. Die Bybel speel ook verder ‘n rol in hierdie hendendaagse spreke van God, in die sin dat dit mens voorberei daarop om van God te hoor. Deur van Hom deur die Bybel te hoor, leer mens die waarheid dat Hy praat, en nog wil praat. Mens leer ook iets van sy gedagtegang, sodat jy voorbereid is daarop om te hoor wanneer Hy met jou praat. Omdat die Bybel so ‘n omvangryke gedeelte van God se openbaring bevat, dien dit ook as objektiewe norm om dit wat mens dink jy van God gehoor het, te evalueer om te bepaal of Hy dit werklik sou kon gesê het.

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | August 25, 2010

There’s something wrong in your head

THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG IN YOUR HEAD! Put somewhat differently: “…these thoughts of yours don’t come from God, but from man (Matt 16.23, TEV).” This is true of more of us than we would like to admit.

What to do about it?

Human beings consist of physical, spiritual and mental components. Most of our problems come from the mental aspect. Our spirits are in tune with the Spirit of God from the time we are born again. What we do in our physical existence is simply the practical expression of what happens in our inner being, i.e. our spirit and mind. Our minds are the determining factor in what we do. They act like a filter between the realities in our spirits and the practical outworking in our bodies. It is here that thought patterns that are the result of cultural and historical impressions are established, and where problems like poor self-esteem are engraved. It is said that one never really forgets anything, and often experiences like hurt and disappointment leave lasting impressions on our minds, that hamper our spiritual development.

It is not coincidental that God determined that what He knew we needed to hear from Him would be committed to writing.

I find it very hard to absolutely equate the Bible with the Word of God. The expression “Word of God” means “what God has spoken”, and that entails much more than what we can capture between the covers of any book. John says that “the whole world could not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21.25) to describe all the things that Jesus did during his earthly ministry. How much more would it be an impossible task to try and include in one book everything ever said by God. Rather, I consider the Bible as containing that part of what God has spoken that He knew we needed to know. This view of Scripture does not denigrate the Bible. It simply puts into perspective the position of the Bible.

As representation in written form of what God wanted us to know, the Bible is an objective norm that will not change with time and the whims of people, except of course, to the extent that unscrupulous translators of the Bible may be able to insert their own interpretations. But equally important, the mere form in which the Word comes to us necessitates mental exercise. This is one of the most effective ways in which our minds can be brought into line with what the thoughts of God are. As metal shavings are pulled in one direction between two magnets, so the Word of God directs our thoughts to become more and more like what God intended.

Ultimately we may reach the point where we can truly say “… we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2.16).

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | August 18, 2010

Do you see what I see?

Do you remember what you saw when you looked into the mirror?
What a stupid question – that we can forget what we look like! Yet that is exactly what the Bible says we do.

Still under the heading “Built on the Foundation of Scripture” from my book on the Church.

WHAT SHOULD WE DO WITH THE BIBLE?

The Bible itself has very concise instructions as to what should be done with it.

Read it
The exhortation “Hear, O Israel, the word of the Lord!” resounds in many places in the Old Testament. Only by concentrating on developing a consistent Bible reading program are we ever able to tap into the riches of this book.

Understand it
There are barriers of time, culture and language, but we have the Author of the Bible right here with us to assist us in our interpretation. 2 Timothy 3.16 and 2 Peter 1.21 both explain that God Himself is the Author of Scripture. He is present by the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer, and therefore available to help us to understand the meaning of Scripture for our lives today.

“Allow Scripture to interpret Scripture” is a healthy approach to the Bible. When we find something that we cannot easily understand, the first place we should look for clarification, is in the Bible itself. It is very easy to misinterpret Scripture if we fragment it. In fact, it may be possible to prove almost anything from Scripture if we select verses and portions according to what we want to prove. The more we allow the totality of Scripture to speak to us, the closer our interpretation will be to God’s truth.

Live it
It is no use studying Scripture as an academic exercise. We should allow it to penetrate our very being, but then also live it out in a practical fashion. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 2.16), should be complemented by a lifestyle that is constantly changing to become more like what Scripture describes. The warning of James should be heeded:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
(James 1.22-25)

It is hard to imagine the impact Christians would have in the world, if we simply lived according to what the Bible says. “God said, I believe it, that settles it” is what our attitude should be.

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | August 10, 2010

You’re in the Book!

YOU’RE IN THE BOOK! Warts and all, together with advice on how to handle what you are feeling.

Still under the heading “Built on the Foundation of Scripture” from my book on the Church.

THE BIBLE ADDRESSES EVERY HUMAN FEELING
The Bible does not only dwell on positive emotions like joy and happiness, but is realistic enough to address negative experiences of human beings. Examples are the following:
* Struggles of faith e.g. Psalms 73 “in vain have I kept my heart pure” when the wicked are always carefree (“Their eyes bulge with fat”!);
* Depression e.g. Psalms 31.9,10

Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and my body with grief.
My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my
affliction,
and my bones grow weak.

* Discouragement e.g. Psalms 69.1-3

Save me O God,
for the waters have come up to my
neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.

* Anger – in the book of Job.

Being God’s Word to us in all aspects of our lives, the Bible treats the subject of human love as very important. It contains some of the most beautiful love stories in the world, like that of Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel, David and Abigail. The Song of Songs is an unashamed account of love.

It has creative power

It says of itself that “The Word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4.12). It states that
“God calls things that are not as though they were” (Romans 4.17).

When we allow the Word of God as it appears in the Bible to be used by God, the result is always good things. For those who have given their lives to the Lord and truly try to serve Him, praying over the following Scripture will bring into realization the new life that God has given them: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5.17). Similarly, announcing the following verse over our lives in faith affirms and facilitates the process of transformation: “We…. are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3.18). Believing that “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8.37), often brings the victory!

I am not advocating the practice of using Scripture as a kind of verbal fetish or quoting it as magic words. What is true, though, is that the Word of God as contained in the Bible expresses truth so precisely and succinctly that we should allow it to formulate our thinking, and therefore also what we believe. Our prayers are transformed to become more like what God wants for us, and are therefore more easily answerable by God!

It is the Word of God

John 1.1 and .14 identify Jesus Christ as the Word of God. The One who is the Word of God became a human being and lived among human beings. But God in his great wisdom gave us a book which helps us to meet that Word of God, as someone once said: “Jesus comes to me out of the pages of the Bible” (Fritz Kemp)

No wonder the Bible addresses very human feeling, and gives God’s perspective on all of it.

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | August 4, 2010

An outdated old book? Obviously you don’t know it!

WHY DON’T YOU TRY THIS ASTOUNDINGLY PRACTICAL WORKBOOK FOR LIFE?

Still from my book on the church, under the heading “Built on the foundation of Scripture”, more gems from the Bible

IT HAS PRACTICAL VALUE
To know how to live:
In its own words, (2 Timothy 3.16, 17) “it is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Better than any human institution:
The writer of Psalms 119.98-100 speaks of his own experience in studying the Word of God and following its wisdom:

Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are ever with me.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than my elders,
for I obey your precepts.

No wonder the psalmist concludes “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalms 119.105)
How to avoid getting burnt
How is this for sound practical advice? “Let no debt remain outstanding” (Romans 13.8); “If you have put up security for your neighbor … “ do not rest until you have been set free of the obligation (Proverbs 6.1-5).

Best business practices
Many business planners would benefit from taking the advice in Ecclesiastes 11.1-6 seriously. Apart from its thoughts on work ethic and the brevity of life, it encourages foreign trade as well as diversified investment.

Cast your bread upon the waters,
for after many days you will find it again.
Give portions to seven, yes to eight,
for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.
If clouds are full of water,
they pour rain upon the earth.
Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north,
in the place where it falls, there will it lie.
Whoever watches the wind will not plant;
whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
the Maker of all things.
Sow your seed in the morning,
and at evening let not your hands be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed,
whether this or that,
or whether both will do equally well.

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | July 24, 2010

Why the public voted it the greatest best-seller ever?

Why the public voted it the greatest best-seller ever? Simply because it is the best book ever published! Wonder why?

It is the truth
Scripture’s own statements that it originated from God (e.g. 2 Timothy 3.16, 2 Peter 1.21) are convincing to believers. But there are a number of facts that confirm the veracity of the Bible, even to the skeptics that are brave enough to face up to the realities.

Statements in the Bible have been confirmed by scientific discoveries

Evolution is still only a theory – one thing we know is correct is the order in which it suggests creation came into existence, because it is the same order as the Bible describes! The nature of the universe was described in the Bible long before scientists ever imagined what they would find as they studied it.

Job 26.7 could only have been written by divine inspiration at a time when people believed the earth had to be supported by something. “God spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.” Following on a description of our world, Job comments in verse 14: “And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of Him!”

Job’s words have been proved to be true: scientists tell us that even now we have not really reached the end of our universe. Bill Bryson, best-selling American author of humorous books on travel, as well as books on the English language and on scientific subjects, makes a comment that is relevant here. After discussing scientific progress in measuring the universe, Bryson comments as follows: “The upshot of all of this is that we live in a universe whose age we can’t quite compute, surrounded by starts whose distances from us and each other we don’t altogether know, filled with matter we can’t identify, operating in conformance with physical laws whose properties we don’t really understand” (Bryson, 2004:219). This statement sounds like a modern elaboration on the words of Job 26.14.

The notion that the earth is round appeared in Scripture long before anyone else discovered it. Isaiah (40.22) says God “sits enthroned above the circle of the earth.”

It works!

Anyone who obeys the Word of God will discover that the promises contained in the Bible will come true. As a young boy this fact was impressed upon me when a missionary who had worked in the erstwhile Zaire for forty years and was on his way back to England on retirement, preached in my father’s church in Kimberley, South Africa. He spoke at length on evidence that the Bible was true, but at the end said that for him personally the greatest proof was the fact that throughout his life he had seen it work! Whatever it said, was borne out by the consequences of believing it.

I cannot aspire to the greatness of this man, nor his experience, but I can already say that I have tested it and have come to the same conclusion.

It has survived every effort to destroy it

Since its inception, through the time of the reformation, when it was first translated into English, and even today, there have always been powerful people who have tried to destroy it. Yet it is still the most read, best-selling book of all times!

Makes you think, does it not? I hope it affirms your belief, or challenges you to test the Bible.

(This is an excerpt from a book I am writing on the church. Comments are most welcome.)

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