Christianity or Religion

“Don’t tell me what you know about the Bible but rather what you live in your Christian walk with Jesus!”

I have tweeted that statement recently and I think it is worth expanding a bit on it! We as born again Christians, have a tendency to base our spirituality on our knowledge of the Bible. For example, memorizing scripture is an exercise that many Christians apply themselves to and it seems that the understanding behind it all is “the more you know, the more spiritual you are”.

If we look at the experience of the Apostles, as well as the Christians of the early church, we will realize that not only they did not have any Bible to learn verses from, yet they were “spiritual” and “mature” in Christ. What did they have? The Bible says that every day they were sitting at the feet of the apostles, and drinking from their heart and from what they carried. They were drowned in the apostle’s doctrine of Christ. Moreover, they identified with Jesus in their everyday life and were persecuted, rejected, judged, imprisoned, and beaten for their faith. In other words, they identified with the sufferings of Jesus and as a result partook in His resurrection life. This is how they grew and became mature Christians. It was not about their knowledge of Scripture. Anyway, all the Jews knew the Old Testament Scriptures mostly by heart but that did not in any way make them “spiritual” in the sense that it did not help them discern the days they were living when Jesus was among them.

So what I am saying is that, the Apostles, the disciples, did one thing: they denied their rights, took their cross, were ready to lose their lives and followed Jesus. How did they follow Him? They followed His attitudes, His teachings, forgiving their enemies, loving one another, accepting to be unfairly treated, having a pure heart, and as Jesus did, desiring to please the Father in everything they did and lived. In so doing, God was at work in their lives, breaking them and changing them into the image of Jesus!

Therefore I realize more and more that what matters in my Christian walk is not so much what I know but what I live with the Lord in my daily life, what He is busy doing in my life and how I am being changed.

If that is not the case, I must ask myself if I am really living a daily experience with Jesus, or if what I am living has not just become nothing else but “religion”.

Sat 7th July, 2012 – Meeting 1

Audrey Hardy

Audrey Hardy at the Ladies Conference 2012

Our last day of conference! There is a great expectancy, as each sister desires to receive something special from the Lord.

Our sister Frieda welcomes us all, encouraging us to trust God to put faith in our hearts so that we may become women of purpose.

Ingrid then thanks the many people who have made sacrifices to make the conference possible and blesses Jesus for opening the doors for the gospel to be shared with such clarity for these three days. She then specially encourages me that this conference has only been the beginning, and that the Lord wants to use me to speak truth to many women throughout the world! There will be difficult times but the Lord will take care of it and see me through! I did not expect that… and can only trust the Lord to equip me for that – and to open the right doors! Help me Lord!

Today my topic is “Law, Faith and Grace”. We look at God’s plan for relationship with mankind, which has not changed since the Garden of Eden. God introduced the law because of man’s fall, as a temporary solution in order to restore the broken relationship caused by sin. It was for a time, until Jesus would come. But now that Jesus has come and paid the price for our sin, took our sins upon Himself, the door is now wide open for any man who wants to have this relationship with God and consequently, there is no more need of the law. In other words, as a result of the sacrifice of Jesus, the law has been brought to an end and God’s relationship with mankind has been restored once and for all. When we grasp this revelation, what a freedom it brings to our hearts! We do not have to do anything to please God but have faith in that sacrifice and live by faith.

We can see that the law is an attitude, a misconception that I have to do things to please God; and if I don’t do these things, the Lord might be angry with me. We will always fail and will therefore always feel condemned. I share how in the USA I met an old lady asking for prayer. She wanted forgiveness, as there were times she went to sleep at night without having prayed or read her Bible. For years she felt condemned. That is law! We can each create our own laws and put expectations on ourselves as well as on other people. But, am I scoring points with God if I read my bible, or pray for an hour? Do you think God is angry with me if you don’t live up to my own laws? I might miss out on some blessings but God loves me despite of my weaknesses and failures! A loud Amen can be heard. One sister on the second row cannot stop crying… as this revelation hits her heart.

We can see through scripture that when the cross works in our heart we accept ourselves as we are, and trust Him to finish the work he has started, in His time.

The lights begin to flash on in many hearts as they realize the freedom that they have, and God’s amazing love for them. Jill jumps up and shouts out with delight! We are overwhelmed at Gods deep and glorious love for us. Hallelujah, the Lord has kissed us on the cheek!

As we resume, at the request of many, I sing my new song, “Let Your praise arise”, which can be viewed on Youtube and take the next meeting from there. Mama Gashengo opens the second session by sharing a powerful testimony of how the gospel worked in her family. She shares her struggles as she strived to perform as a Pastor’s wife whilst feeling completely distanced from her husband. She endured this suffering for 10 years, until they came into contact with Miki and heard the message of the cross. She fights back tears as she expresses her gratitude for the gospel, and the change it has brought to her marriage and family. She declares with joy that she now serves the Lord with her husband, Stephen, as best friends.

I continue sharing, warning the sisters of law in the church and the importance for us to not allow anyone to put law on us. For the just shall live by faith! We need to be a people who serve Jesus with our hearts. We realize that we must take our place, and this means that we need to stand for the truth, in the right spirit. We need to live in freedom and rest, not in fear.

I ask if there is anyone who has never repented of their sin and received salvation. Two women respond. Finally I make a call for those who know Jesus but carry baggage in their heart and life, hindrances that the Lord wants to set them free from. Some are tired of living a false Christian life. They are desperate for the Lord to do something new, to help them to forgive, turn the page and move forward.

There is a huge response from those seeking restoration and for God to set them free. Many sisters from different countries join me as we minister to those sisters who have responded and it is clear that the Lord touches many lives and hearts.

Unfortunately, our time is up as we need to give back the hall at 6 sharp and it is already quarter past!!! So as we finish praying, we quickly sing Malibongwe and all move to the dining room where sandwiches, cakes and tea are awaiting us! We are so thankful that because of King, brothers and sisters from over 22 countries from all over the world were able to benefit from these meetings and be challenged. Thanks King for your availability.

I can only say that it was a real visitation from the Lord. I did not expect anything like this and once again, it has only been by His grace.

CTMI Ladies Conference Bulawayo, Zimbabwe Day 2 – Report No 2

Here we are, the 2nd day of conference. The atmosphere is one of expectation for what the Lord wants to show us this afternoon. Mama Gashengo opens the meeting and encourages the sisters to worship and praise the Lord with all their hearts!

We hear from our precious sister Fishy, who expresses her gratitude for the Gospel and how it has saved her life, her marriage, and continues to be at work in her life!

Everyone is expecting to hear more about faith but I feel a clear message strongly on my heart: “Sisters… take your place!”  But, for us to understand our place in the church we first need to understand our place in the home. I show from 1 Cor 11 v 3 how the Bible is clear about God being the head of Christ, Christ the head of man and man the head of woman. That order must be found in everything that we do.

It is wonderful to realize that as sisters we have a specific place in the church, as well as the home. God is a God of order and He wants us to serve Him His way. We look carefully at the Five-fold Ministry, at the definition and role of an elder according to scripture, and we can see that men carried authority in these capacities. I reassure the women that they are not only called to be a support for the elders, but there are also so many things we can do in the church to serve the Lord, as long as we are in our place. At the end of the day we do not need a title to be able to serve Jesus. The ladies thoroughly enjoy this time and we stop for a break, a stretch of the legs before we come straight back to business!

Our wonderful Zambian sister, Frieda, shares her heart and blesses the Lord for the Gospel that has opened the door for her to serve the Lord in His plan. She is so grateful that He has not forgotten her desire to serve Him!

In the second session we see how we must stop trying to change our husbands, but rather we need to first let the Lord change our hearts so we can adapt to them, love and respect them; submit to them as the Lord has called us to!

As women we can be so complicated, focused on our appearance and the latest chit-chat; but we forget that the Lord looks at our hearts! “A gentle and quiet spirit” is what is pleasing to the Lord and this is what will speak to those around us.

What a special time we have had with the Lord this afternoon. Many lives have been confronted and challenged and we pray that the Word will continue to be at work in our hearts and lives!

Let Your Praise Arise

Dear brothers, sisters and friends,

I am so happy to let you know that the “clip” “Let your praise arise” is now on line on “You tube”. You can watch it below.

Most importantly, please make sure you send this link to all your mail, facebook and twitter contacts, mentioning that if they enjoy it, you would be grateful if could they kindly send it on to their contacts too, and ask them to do the same.
Thank you and hopefully together we can make sure that “His Praise arise”…I know I can count on you.

May the Lord bless you

Jul 5 – Day 1 – CTMI International Ladies Conference – Bulawayo – Zimbabwe

It is so exciting to be in Bulawayo at this time and to be able to see again this precious family of God that we love and carry in our hearts. It was day 1 of this first CTMI International Ladies Conference, and the Bulawayo City Hall was quite full with some 350 ladies coming from as many as 10 countries. Quite a few ladies also came from different parts of Zimbabwe which is great. Nompu lead us into a time of praise and worship – after which it was my time to share.

It was encouraging to know that brothers and sisters from many countries such as USA, France, Luxembourg, South Africa, Botswana, Reunion Island, Tanzania, Australia, Mauritius and even from Zimbabwe were connected and that they were able to be with us through internet at this time to hear what the Lord had for them! Dane from Paris, faithfully translated the message into French. A big thank you to King and to Nuradio for their dedication to the vision.

I shared on “My just shall live by faith”.  How as children of God, this should be our lifestyle. How faith is more than just a belief or a doctrine. It is a conviction in our hearts. Something that is stronger than what we see, feel or hear. When God speaks to us, faith comes to our hearts, and it is for us then to act upon it. Faith is what brings God on the scene. We all know that God can… that He is faithful, and that He loves us, but somewhere we are not sure that He will!  We doubt if it will work for “me” or if He will do it for “me”. This is why it is important for us to know His promises and to hear His voice. I spoke about Abraham – how God could have chosen a young man instead of Abraham who was already old and had no children. But there is always an element of the miraculous in what God does. The ladies were encouraged and the atmosphere was very cool and relaxed.

We had a short break and then the second meeting started. Karen from Mauritius shared briefly about Hannah. How she was barren and had carried a suffering in her heart for many. How that very suffering caused her to draw near to God and to come to a place where she believed Him for a miracle. Not only did she receive her miracle from God, but the child she bore was to be a prophet – and not the least! Finally she mentioned how Hannah kept the promise she made to the Lord, and gave Him back that child to serve Him. Later the Lord blessed her with many more children. We were all blessed to hear the heart of Karen.

I then shared on how our emotions as ladies can be an obstacle to our faith. Also reminded the ladies how complicated and difficult we can be at times and as a result, make the life of our husbands and kids hard to bear. I encouraged them to see how we can become insecure in many areas and as a result put expectations and pressure on others around us. We have a tendency to always find someone to blame for what happens to us and end up having hearts full of hurts, bitterness and unforgiveness. We must desire to come out of that state and allow the Lord to change us and set us free. We had good times of laughs as we could see how stupid we can be at times, and how we deprive ourselves of so many blessings the Lord has for us because of our childish attitudes. No wonder that some of us have ended in divorce. Anyway it was a great time and it all ended in a tea break where all ladies could fellowship together.

We heard so many testimonies and it was encouraging. This one lady shared how this very morning, she had left her house with her kids after having a fight with her husband.  She had told him terrible things, and had decided to ask for a divorce. She had gone to see a lawyer and on her way out she met a sister from a CTMI partner church who encouraged her to come to the meeting. She now realizes how wrong she has been and was ready to go and ask her husband for forgiveness. Another lady shared with me how she lost her husband a few years ago and things could have been so different if only she had heard this message before…

Got this mail when I arrived home: “It is truly SO wonderful to be able to hear the meeting in Zim.  It is SO true… Thank you Jesus for what He has done in your life… we are blessed… there is a long road ahead but I want to be there!”

Therefore I rejoice and am grateful for what the Lord has done and look forward for what He has in store for us at this time. Thank you all for your support and prayers. Thank you again to Nuradio for being here and to make it possible for those who could not be with us here, to still benefit from this time.

What another great day! – Ladies Conference 2012

What another great day! I was with my friend and sister Majo in a shuttle from the hotel in Johannesburg on my way to the airport to catch the plane to Zim for the CTMI Ladies Conference. I did not even notice there was somebody else in the van with us. During the whole way, Majo and I were talking and laughing about a few situations we were recalling. When we arrived at the airport, as the driver stopped, out of the blue I heard this voice from behind me, saying “Where are you from? I want to join you”! As I turned around I saw this beautiful girl, in her twenties and I introduced myself and as it was her stop, she was getting ready to step out of the van. I quickly gave her my card and told her I would love to hear from her. She promised she would email me the minute she got at her office.

Once we arrived at Bulawayo – there was much going on with all the organization for this 1st CTMI Ladies conference, I opened my mail and guess what! Here was the promised mail sitting in my Inbox with as subject “we just met”. I got so excited as I read it for it said: “Good morning lovely lady…. We just met in a shuttle to the airport… I love your spirit… You’re a beautiful lady… I would love to be part of your life… I’m Zanele, a south African lady and this is my mail address… Love Zee

I was so blessed to read these words and to see how the Lord had planned for us to meet and had connected us in a matter of seconds. I immediately replied and told her how privileged I had been to meet her and that I could not wait to get to know her more and invited her to visit in Mauritius. We exchanged a few mails and in her last mail, she said: “As I was sitting in the shuttle listening to you and the lady you were sitting with, I couldn’t help but notice how joyous and loving you were towards each other. I felt the genuine and joyous spirit hit right through me… that’s why I had to talk to you. I would love to spend time with you and get to know you better. I would love to visit Mauritius, it would great!”

Isn’t that exciting! That can only be Jesus. Another miracle of His. It reminds us how Jesus said “if you love one another they will know that you are my disciples!” I was so encouraged that the Holy Spirit could have touched the heart of this beautiful girl just by us being ourselves and shining His love without even realizing it! It really made my day and I cannot wait to get to know Zanele more as she is already in my heart and part of my life.

Yesterday was a long day!

Yesterday was a long day!  Not only did I have a lot to do at the CTMI office, but Miki and I had many appointments, brothers and sisters to meet, to encourage, to advise the best we could.  Some of these appointments went well and we were encouraged to see the openness of the hearts of these precious brothers and sisters who were not only ready to hear, but ready for the Lord to bring about a change in their lives.  Unfortunately it was not the case for all of them – some were closed and even though we did all we could for them to understand our hearts, how we wanted to help them but they left with a hard heart and not well in themselves.  It shows us how we are limited – we can do all we can – but in the end, only the Lord is able to touch a man’s heart and win him to himself.

What about you? Where are you today? Are you well in yourself or struggling with unforgiveness, bitterness, pride? Is your heart hard? If that is your case, the Lord has not given up on you… open your heart and let Him speak to you and win back your heart to Himself! You will feel so much better and at peace.

This is the day the Lord has made!

“This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it” Ps 118v24 (NIV)

For sure today not everything will be 100% and there will be situations, circumstances that will arise that we did not expect. Let us not lose our joy or peace.
The Lord is in control of our lives and He is faithful. So let’s rejoice in and through it all!”

Sheep and goats

Soon after our conversion, Miki and I learnt a very important lesson – that we should never fight back when threatened, accused, or hurt by someone, even if it is a brother or sister in Christ.  We realised that, as sheep, we are not meant to defend ourselves; instead we have a Shepherd who will look after and care for us. Continue reading