Christianity


 

Easter has come and gone once again. It is a time that probably affects the entire world. People are on the move—some for religious reasons, others for pleasure and relaxation. The concept of Easter being a contentious subject, and a prickly pear situation for many, has led me to write this article.

ROOTS

As what some of the months in our yearly calendar are named after pagan gods (e.g. January is named after the god Janus, and March after the god Mars) so also the days of the week have a pagan origin (e.g. Thursday is named after Thor, the god of thunder). In Afrikaans Thursday is known as “Donderdag” meaning “day of thunder”.

Similarly, we find that Easter was originally named after the goddess Eastre or Ostara. She was the goddess of dawn, spring and fertility. The presence of the rabbit or hare during Easter was attributed largely to the fact that they were prolific breeders. They could have a few litters in a year and became a symbol of fertility welcoming spring, the season of new life and abundance. It is also known that eggs have been considered to be symbols of new life and fertility through the ages. Many ancient cultures used eggs during their spring festivals.

“In ancient Anglo-Saxon myth, Ostara is the personification of the rising sun. In that capacity she is associated with the spring and is considered to be a fertility goddess. She is the friend of all children and to amuse them she changed her pet bird into a rabbit. This rabbit brought forth brightly colored eggs, which the goddess gave to the children as gifts. From her name and rites the festival of Easter is derived.” (Encyclopedia Mythica)

The following is an extract from an article written by Warwick Taylor on hot cross buns:

The custom of eating spiced buns on Good Friday is believed to have been introduced to England by the Romans, but the tradition can also be traced back to the Saxon goddess Eastre, after whom Easter was named. Special dishes, including a spiced bun, were prepared in her honour during the annual spring festival to ensure fertility and protection in the coming year. Similar spicy sweet breads decorated with a simple cross were baked in ancient Greece and Egypt, and used as religious offerings.

This ritual was later adopted by the Christian church and became a common practice of the Easter celebration in England. In Tudor times the sale of these buns was banned by law, except on Good Friday, at Christmas and at burials. The fact that they were generally sold hot led to the later incorporation of the word “hot” into the name.

It has been recorded that in the 12th century monks baked the buns and placed the cross on them as a symbol of the Christian faith. It was believed that hanging a hot cross bun in the house on Good Friday offered protection from bad luck in the coming year.

It is believed by many researchers that Eastre or Ostara goes by many names in different cultures and she is in fact the same goddess that is mentioned in the Bible as the Queen of Heaven. (Jeremiah 7:18) It is also believed that the hot cross buns we know today actually originate from the cakes of bread that were offered to her by the people of Judah when their hearts were turned from God.

SHOOTS

Through the centuries, during the month of April, Christians have been commemorating the death and burial of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and celebrating His resurrection on Easter Sunday. Added to this, the eating of hot cross buns, Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies form part of the festivities. It seems that with the passing of time we have developed a fruit salad of Christianity and Paganism. Is this all wrong? Should we celebrate Easter? Are we actually paying homage to Eastre when we eat hot cross buns, Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies? Should we change the names of the months and days of the week that are named after false gods? (In Korea the months are numbered and not named.) Where does one draw the line? There are many different schools of thought concerning this prickly matter.

What are my thoughts? Let me attempt to briefly expound without being long-winded or tedious:

Firstly, all the traditions and festivities mentioned above are what Jesus called “the rules taught by men” in Matthew 15:9. The problems came in when the people placed their traditions above God and his commands, and in the process disobeyed Him. They honoured Him with their lips but their hearts were far away.  I believe this is the crux of the matter. There will always be different cultures and traditions. As we participate in, and partake of these however, we need to ask ourselves how our involvement affects our relationship with Christ. Does it improve, hamper or actually have no effect on our relationship with Him.

I quote Romans 14:5, “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

This indicates that what is right for one person is not necessarily right for another. The emphasis is on being fully persuaded in your mind that what you are doing is right for you, and that your action or belief is in no way impeding your relationship with God.

We read in Colossians 2:16-17 “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality however, is found in Christ.”

Christ has come and has completed it all. His last words on the cross were, “it is finished.” Nothing more is therefore necessary for us to do except to follow Him in love and obedience in our daily lives. In fact the only celebration that Jesus encourages us to continue with till his return is the breaking of bread (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). However, this does by no means mean that you cannot, or may not participate in any other celebration or tradition. You are free in Him to make your own choices and no man has the authority to tell you otherwise. Therefore do as your heart compels you, for if Jesus Christ lives within you, He will guide you in all your ways and you will walk in His freedom.

FRUITS

As a child I experienced Easter as a time of hunting for painted eggs hidden away in our garden. It was fun but I never knew why I was doing it. I remember hot cross buns were bought before the Easter weekend but to my great disappointment we were only allowed to eat them on the Sunday. When I unhappily asked why, I was told because Christ had risen on the Sunday. That was the tradition in our house. I was never informed as to how everything fitted together, and I never understood what hot cross buns and painted eggs had to do with Jesus. It was only in adulthood after I had committed my life to Christ that I began to really question these things, and then discovered the truth and the origin of all these traditions.

We all know the saying “knowledge is power” and in Matthew15:6 Jesus said, “Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” If we mix the truth with our traditions and are unable to discern the difference or separate the two, we will not understand or walk in the fullness of God’s promises for us. As Christians who truly seek to walk in the freedom of Christ we need to know the truth, and it is our task to teach and inform our children because it is the truth that sets us free.

In conclusion therefore, regarding traditions similar to the ones mentioned above, my husband and I use the following guidelines, and it gives us peace:

  1. Understand the origin of the relevant tradition.
  2. Question whether your participation in that tradition would improve, hamper, or in fact have no effect on your relationship with Jesus Christ.
  3. After consideration of the above two aspects, decide whether it is really important enough for you to participate in that tradition.

 

And so I end off with the words of Jesus Christ. He said in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

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If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Lorna Kirstein

http://kirsteinonline.com

 

 

 

 

The Blind Man

 

He was a man like you and me,

But he was blind and could not see.

One day he heard the Lord come by,

And then it was he gave a cry.

 

“Oh Lord help me I want to see,

Blind I no longer wish to be.

Help me, oh Lord, I beg of Thee,

To see is what I ask of Thee.”

 

Jesus said, “Bring that man to me,”

And asked, “Why do you call on Me?”

The man said, “Lord I want to see,

For blind I can no longer be.”

 

Jesus said, “By the power in Me,

Oh blind man you shall surely see.”

And so the man received his sight,

And praised the Lord with all his might.

 

“The Lord healed me now I can see,

Praise Thee my Lord I do thank Thee.

Saviour and Lord forever be,

My sight is what You gave to me.”

 

This story is for you and me,

To know He died upon that tree.

He gave His life for all to be,

Saved from our sin eternally.

 

We too are blind and cannot see,

So let us seek Him earnestly.

He waits for us so patiently:

Give Him our hearts submissively.

 

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If you enjoyed this poem, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Lorna Kirstein

http://kirsteinonline.com

ODE TO THE ACCOUNTANT

You are the keeper of the BOOKS

My name is written in your LEDGER

In red you wrote a CHEQUE

Drawn on the love in Father’s BANK

You did not consider it too great an EXPENSE

To once for all pay my entire DEBT

To sin and death I had been SOLD

Tetelestai’ you wrote on my RECEIPT

It is finished—it is PAID IN FULL

The blood requisite PURCHASE PRICE

Without using a farthing in the PETTY CASH

None of my own works and hard earned INCOME

To life eternal I have been BOUGHT

Now I make daily entries in my JOURNAL

And nightly I settle my ACCOUNTS

Before I am even INVOICED

You grant me REMITTANCE

You continuously inspect my INVENTORY

And erase all errors—negligible or GROSS

Your mercy is not FOR SALE

It is freely obtained without any COST

Worthless you count my CAPITAL ACQUISITIONS

And useless you reckon my DEPOSITED FUNDS

Where none is deserved you give me CREDIT

As a pearl you hold me as your priceless ASSET

And as the apple of your eye I am APPRECIATED

You certify my growing NETT WORTH

And keep my mansion room in RESERVE

An inheritance I will never TRADE

I reflect you in all my STATEMENTS

But the world sees my commitment as a LIABILITY

And suggests wiles for INCREASED REVENUE

Wicked ways that will only lead to LOSS

Such as unscrupulous INVESTMENT SCHEMES

But your name soars my MARKET VALUE

In your eyes I will never DEPRECIATE

And by grace secure unseen PROFITS

While you set me free of burdens TAXING

I accumulate heavenly treasure and WEALTH

You issue me with everlasting EQUITY

And offer GUARANTEED DIVIDENDS

I eagerly await your imminent due RETURN

And the compiling of the closing BALANCE SHEET

When you will represent me at the final AUDIT

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If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Emil Kirstein

(Author of Quest for Freedom)

http://kirsteinonline.com

The Pursuit of Happiness

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour a day to drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They talked about their wives and families, their jobs and where they had been. And every afternoon when the man in the bed at the window could sit up, he would pass the time telling his roommate all the things he could see out of the window.

The man in the other bed would live for that hour when his world was broadened and enlivened with all the activity and color of the outside world. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake, the man had said. Ducks and swans played on the water, whilst children sailed their model boats. Lovers walked arm in arm amid flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape with the city skyline in the background.

As the man described what he saw, the man in the other bed would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. The man grew envious of his roommate’s position at the window. He thought it unfair that he never got to be at the window and he became resentful. Late one night, as he was lying staring at the ceiling, the old man at the window began to cough. He turned his head and watched the old man struggle to breathe as the fluid filled his lungs. He knew he could press the button to call the nurse, but did nothing. After about five minutes the coughing subsided and the room was quiet. The next morning the nurse arrived to find the man’s lifeless body and took him away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the man asked if his bed could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to move him and as soon as he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, the man propped himself up on one elbow to look through the window. Finally he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to look out of the window at his bed. It faced a blank wall….

(Author unknown)

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Above is the story of two men reacting differently to the same circumstances they are trapped in. Despite the situation, the man at the window had made a conscious choice to see beauty instead of bricks and in so doing was able to find joy and share it with his roommate thereby lighting up his life. The roommate, however, was not content with what he heard. He was envious and resentful of the man’s joy which he attributed to the position at the window. He wanted it all, so he callously watched the man’s death without lifting a finger in order to obtain that position for himself. Finally, when he had what he had coveted, he was rudely awakened to the harrowing truth and ended up with nothing.

Someone once said, “The pursuit of happiness is a matter of choice. It is a positive attitude we consciously choose to express. It is not a gift that gets delivered on our doorstep each morning, nor does it come through the window.”

Our circumstances do play a significant role as regards to what makes us joyful, but if we wait for them to become perfect, thinking that will bring true, lasting joy, we will be gravely disappointed in the end. We live in an imperfect world where there is much sadness, suffering, pain and poverty, and this situation is not getting better. However, when we know who Christ is, what He has done for us, and we choose to allow His Spirit to dwell in us, true joy flows from within giving us strength to face and overcome life’s many challenges, and at the same time touch the lives of those who come in contact with us.

Paul had discovered this joy and strength in Christ. That is why he could say, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:12)

May our knowledge and understanding of Christ and His love for us grow in the year that lies ahead as we allow Him to dwell in us and give us joy and strength to face and overcome whatever obstacle or challenge lies ahead.

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If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Lorna Kirstein

http://kirsteinonline.com

 

HALLOWEEN – A CHRISTIAN POINT OF VIEW

Many people believe that Halloween is just a fun time, especially for children. Halloween parties are held for small children, whilst the older ones roam the streets on the night of October 31, dressed up as witches, demons or ghosts, knocking on the doors of homes, and playing “trick or treat.” Adults, not wanting to spoil the children’s fun, play along and hand over candy or other nice things to eat. The people who do not play along could find themselves the victims of some or other mischief carried out on their possessions – for example broken eggs or some other messy substance discarded on their cars or homes. There are even adults who involve themselves in Halloween by attending Fancy Dress parties where they dress up in different demonic costumes. All this is said to be just innocent fun.

There is however, much more to Halloween than most people realize, and one needs to go right back to the origin and roots of this ceremony to understand more fully what it is all about.

Halloween has its origin in Babylon where the worship of the false god Baal was carried out. After the fall, where Adam and Eve sinned and were cast out of the Garden of Eden, mankind turned away from worshiping God Almighty (the Creator) and instead began to worship creation. The Assyrians started a complex system of sun worship, and this spread throughout the world from Babylon. The Celts of France, Britain and Ireland developed their own system of worship and called their sun god Samhain. (Some research articles refer to Samhain as the lord of the dead). The priests were known as Druids and they sacrificed humans, usually first-born babies, to this god of theirs. These sacrifices occurred in places in the UK, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Generally priests are allowed to eat the sacrifice after offering it as a blood offering to their god. In the case of the Celts, where they offered humans, they actually ate human flesh afterwards. (The word “cannibal” comes from the priests of Baal or “Cahan-Bal” who ate human sacrifices).

When Britain was conquered by the Roman Empire in AD 52-3 Caesar issued a decree banning human sacrifice.

In the 5th century, in Celtic Ireland, their new year officially began on November 1 with the festival of Samhain. November 1 was the beginning of a long cold winter. Summer officially ended on October 31 and Druids believed that on this night the spirits of dead sinners were released by Samhain from their place of torment, and roamed the earth. It was believed that they returned to their own homes to be entertained by the living. To ward them off, food offerings were put outside the homes and frightening lanterns were made in pumpkins and turnips to scare them away. It was believed that if the evil spirits were not satisfied, they would cause havoc, and create terror as they haunted the living or put spells or curses on them. This was a demonstration of demonic activity carried out by Satan and his demons to which people, who were uninformed and ignorant of the devil and his evil ways, reacted – trying to solve the problem in the best way they knew how.

The Samhain celebration used nuts, apples, skeletons, witches and black cats. Divination, accompanied with signs about what would happen in the future was practiced as well as magic to seek answers for the future. Black cats were considered to be reincarnated beings with the ability to divine the future. Because of this involvement in divination and witchcraft during the festival, Satan and his demons were given the legal right (or permission), and opportunity to participate, and these supernatural demonic beings (masquerading as spirits of the dead) then terrified the people of the particular areas.

Thus nowadays, children who roam the streets playing trick or treat, represent the evil spirits demanding food from the homes they visit. Those who do not comply with the demands and do not give a “treat” receive a “trick” which is usually some sort of mischief or damage done to the property of the non-complying. This is representative of the curse or spells that were placed on the home by the evil spirits. Halloween is therefore a tribute to, or an act of respect and admiration of the devil and his demons, as the activities associated with Halloween condone, remember and imitate – be it in a small measure, but nevertheless – their demonic activities on this day.

Satanists consider October 31 to be one of the most important nights of the year. It is believed that on this night Satan and his witches have their greatest power. Attempts are made to remove the barrier between this world and the spiritual world of darkness. Blood is shed and sexual rituals are carried out. Sexual association with demons takes place. Animals and humans are sacrificed to Satan on this night.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory the third changed All Saints’ Day (a day when all the dead Roman Catholic saints were remembered, honored and prayed for) from May 13 to November 1, and in the year 834 Pope Gregory the fourth extended this celebration to the entire Roman church. This event was called Allhallowmass, and there was a celebration on the evening before on October 31, called All Hallow E’en, “all hallow” meaning all of the hallowed (or holy) ones. Halloween is derived from the words “hallow” and “e’en.”

The Samhain celebration, All Saints Day (All Hallows Day), Halloween and All Hallows Eve are events that have become interlinked. Catholicism originally used force and bribery to “Christianize” this joint event of remembering the dead. For example, sacrifice was allowed, but only the sacrifice of animals, and not of humans. Catholicism tried to replace the pagan rituals by substituting them with their Catholic practices and beliefs.

Furthermore, although it is not wrong to remember the dead, to pray for the dead is against Scripture.  In Hebrews 9:27 we read that it is appointed for all to die once and after that to face certain judgment. This means that man does not receive a second chance after death. Man’s destiny after death depends on his way of life and decisions made while he was alive.  Jesus said to the repentant man on the cross next to him, “Truly, I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43 The Amplified Bible) Jesus Christ died once for all. He is the perfect sacrifice; he paid the full price for all the sins of mankind and nothing more is required from man except true repentance of sin and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. (John 3:16) To continue with other sacrifices or to pray for the dead would mean that Christ’s death was just not good enough or sufficient to save man from his sins. A born again Christian does not pray for the dead and has no place for the celebration of either All Hallows Day or Halloween.

During the middle Ages there was open practice of witchcraft – of which there is a revival nowadays in many countries. Certain cults held periodic meetings known as witches’ Sabbaths. One of the highest of the witches’ Sabbaths is the High Sabbath or the Black Sabbath of witches on October 31. Much of the Halloween folklore of today such as black cats, broomsticks, cauldrons and spells come from the Black Sabbath. It is said that in Germany the occult (the use of magic powers and things that cannot be explained by reason or science), is considered to be more common today than in the Middle Ages.

Halloween has spread to many different countries in the world where it is celebrated on October 31. Traditional Halloween symbols appeared in the U.S. during the late 1800’s. Witches, black cats, death’s heads cut from pumpkins, candles, masks, parties and pranks were used. The jack-o-lantern, also known as will-o-the-wisp, fox fire and corpse candle, among other things, was believed to be a wandering soul who could not find refuge in either heaven or hell because of a particularly evil deed committed in its lifetime. A corpse candle is said to be a small flame moving through the air in the dark and is believed by the superstitious to be an omen of the observer’s imminent death. According to ancient folklore from many places, a will-o-the wisp wanders about swamp areas, enticing victims to follow. These strange fires were also known as “foolish fire” because only a fool would follow them. Today’s pumpkin face is symbolic of that mocking, wandering spirit.

The uninformed Christian is usually not aware that there truly are demonic spirits that are contacted and activated as people dabble with the occult or associated activities.  They do not realize that by participating in this so called “harmless fun” they are giving Satan the permission (or legal right) and opportunity to exert a certain amount of control over them and even harm them. When Satan gains certain control over persons it means they have lost control in certain areas of their lives to Satan. Satan now uses that control to influence them to think and do bad things that they would never have allowed themselves to do before. Because they have lost control, they cannot stop themselves and so they are forced to submit to Satan’s evil demands. Satan can start using these persons as his instruments, and slowly and surely he will gain more and more control over them until they eventually become obedient slaves of his. Once caught in Satan’s grip, it is not easy to get free. Every act around Halloween is in honor of false gods, which are spirits (or demons) in the realm of the satanic.  Those who have been deeply involved in witchcraft and who are now free, (no longer under Satan’s control) state that even by worshiping spirits of nature, one opens the door to satanic influence. This is because demons often attach themselves to, or enter things that are being worshiped. Some research articles state that the Celts did not worship demons but that they believed in the presence of fairies. Scripture however, only refers to angels as other supernatural beings. These are divided into God’s angels and Satan’s angels (also known as demons). God does not make use of fairies. Satan and his demons however, use whatever and whoever is available. They are expert masqueraders – even as fairies. People need to beware!

Some may reply, “But we only do this in fun – we don’t practice witchcraft.” We need to remember that Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Thus he will try to deceive people by camouflaging himself. In this situation it would be to hide behind “fun.” However, what seems to be harmless fun is in actual fact playing with fire, and one could get one’s fingers badly burnt. That which represents Satan and his domain can never ever be considered to be “fun.”  Such involvement places an individual in enemy and forbidden territory and that is very dangerous ground. The average person is ignorant and lost in this territory and unable to defend her/himself against the cunning tactics of the evil one. Before a person knows it, s/he is caught in Satan’s trap so as to be controlled by him.

Satan is also known to be a liar and a murderer (John 8:44). One of his most common tactics is to pretend that he does not exist. If he does not exist then surely this kind of celebration is just innocent “fun” – everyone is celebrating this event so it must be okay. It definitely is not okay and many can testify that Satan is a very real and deadly enemy. He hates and wants to destroy mankind, and will use whatever he can to entice people into his deadly web. Once caught, it is very difficult to get out of his trap and be free from his control.  Halloween is thus a very useful and powerful device in his hands.

To introduce this celebration to our children and encourage them to take part in it could cause them great harm, especially if Satan already has some control or influence over them. This control would usually be due to the child’s parents or grandparents having been involved in the occult, or in some sort of sinful activity that gave the devil power over them. This power or control, if not broken, could be carried down from generation to generation – thus affecting the children or grandchildren of the involved persons. Halloween would then serve as a tool to strengthen this influence to a greater degree and the child would be drawn deeper into Satan’s web of control without initially being aware of it. Later the adverse effects of this control would be experienced, and usually the trapped person, being ignorant of Satan and his ways, would not know how to get free and his life would be an absolute misery and torment.

Through the ages, Halloween has gone by various names but none give glory to the Living Almighty God. The child of God who seeks to walk in the light and freedom of Jesus Christ has absolutely no place for the celebration of Halloween with all its spiritual forces of darkness.

There are many other ways of having “clean fun” which are beneficial and safe to all who take part. If we want to celebrate – let’s celebrate the light, life and love of this world, not the darkness, death and destruction of the evil one.

We have a tremendous responsibility towards our children, and part of it is to ensure that they receive only what is beneficial and positive for their development. What is beneficial and positive about celebrating Satan’s day of murder and demonic rituals? What is beneficial about exposing oneself, one’s child or other children to satanic influence and even control? Is it beneficial to expose a child to the risk of a life of misery and torment? I think not! It is a risk we cannot and dare not take.

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If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

Lorna Kirstein, MDiv, ACoT(TESOL), MCollT.

© 2006, Soterion International, P O Box 1464, Somerset West, 7129. South Africa.

http://kirsteinonline.com

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. Satanism – The Seduction of South Africa’s Youth, John and Helen Gardiner.
  2. Halloween what it is from a Christian Perspective, Mrs. Gloria Phillips.
  3. Understanding the Occult – Josh Mc Dowell & Don Stewart.
  4. All Roads lead to Babylon – study 185 by R. C. Nickels  (Review of Babylon Mystery Religion by Ralph Woodrow).
  5. Halloween’s Satanic roots exposed – A Christian perspective on Halloween, Colin Melbourne, English Missionary in Asia.
  6. A Historical Perspective on the Origins of Halloween, The Rocky Mountain Family Council.

 

A Chinese man and a Jewish man were eating lunch in the same restaurant. Suddenly, without warning the Jew got up, walked over to the Chinese fellow and smashed him in the mouth, sending him sprawling. The Chinese man picked himself up, rubbed his jaw and asked, “What in the world did you do that for?” And the answer came back, “For Pearl Harbour!” His response was total astonishment, “Pearl Harbour? I didn’t have anything to do with Pearl Harbour. It was the Japanese who bombed Pearl Harbour.” The Jew responded, “Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese… they’re all the same to me.” With that they both sat down again, and before too long the Chinese man got up, walked over to the Jew and sent him flying with a hard smack to the jaw. The Jew yelled out, “What did you do that for?” And the answer came back, “The Titanic.” The Jew responded, “The Titanic? Why, I didn’t have anything to do with the Titanic!” Whereupon the Chinese man replied, “Goldberg, Feinberg, Iceberg… they’re all the same to me!”

Even though we can truly smile at the tenacious stupidity of prejudice portrayed in the above illustration, we have to admit that our own behaviour isn’t much different on many an occasion! Yes, the very same prejudice portrayed above finds its way into our very own lives in such a subtle way that we stand amazed when accused of such stupendous behaviour. And this happens in the sociological, political and economical spheres of life; in business, politics and church; in absolutely every area of our lives.

  • Have you ever suffered harm or hurt at the hands of a person from another race (white, black, pink or green), and now you classify them all as…?
  • Have you ever done business with a Christian (or Muslim, or Jew, or Greek, or Indian, or German), had a raw deal, and now you classify them all as…?
  • Have you ever been molested by a man (or woman, or adult), and now you classify them all as…?
  • Have you ever had a bad experience in your dealings with your bank (or church, or doctor, or municipality, or lawyer, or supermarket, or police), and now you classify them all as…?
  • Have you ever … and now you classify them all as…?

The list is infinite. The common denominator is prejudice where the thinking is basically that all must pay for the sin of one. This is diametrically opposed to the message of the Gospel where One paid for the sin of all!

Prejudice is a luxury true leaders can’t afford. When policies, philosophies and practices are founded on prejudice, the vision is distorted, the mission is corrupted, the emission is hatred and the final conclusion is death.

Adolf Hitler orchestrated the rise of the Third Reich on racial purity and supremacy, amongst other reasons, which resulted in the extermination of “inferior” peoples like the Jews and the Gypsies. The basis of hatred, founded on prejudice, was well established. And the end result? Death of the vision… death of the mission… and death of the leadership…

In South Africa we have deep embedded prejudices. The government strives to “legislate equality, acceptance and tolerance.” However, prejudice is not a matter of the law, but a matter of the heart! The law is limited in function by only being able to punish offenders. But a change of heart, a change of thinking, a change of how we see other people, results in a permanent change of the attitudes of people, which will render the law irrelevant and immaterial. When we listen to the political rhetoric of certain of today’s firebrands, it’s quite clear that prejudice is alive and well in our society, and that a change of heart is desperately needed.

Leaders need beware of prejudice. Those who engage in it are merely emulating the behaviour of the Chinese and Jewish gentlemen in the illustration. Not only does prejudice prove personal stupidity, but also out of it is born diseases like racism, sexism, superiority, pride, and the like—which in turn lead to hatred, violence and those terrible diseases of the soul. And how the devil enjoys division! He actually specialises in this field. When a person falls prey to prejudice he’s a very effective tool in the hands of the devil in causing division. And this is regardless of the standing or position of the person concerned.

The process to eradicate prejudice starts with the leaders. There are normally more followers than leaders, and the followers emulate the example of their leaders. Leaders who advocate tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness, radiate a Godly love that changes people. However, leaders must have a first hand experience of receiving that Godly love, tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness prior giving it away—for one simply cannot give what one does not have.

As leaders it is imperative to determine whether there is any prejudice alive in our beings, and to remedy the situation in our own lives without delay—through the grace and love of God.

Where we all desire a better South Africa as far as business, government and Christianity is concerned, let each leader take up the challenge and act—having said, “It starts right here! It starts with me!”

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If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Emil Kirstein

(Author of Quest for Freedom)

http://kirsteinonline.com

The Man who Stilled the Water

Only when you’ve lost everything, and there seems to be no hope, do you fully understand what it means to put your hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the water. Only then do you truly experience the saving grace and salvation of the Man who calmed the sea. You come to understand that the salvation He offers is not only spiritual, and for the world to come, but also for all insurmountable situations and practical problems suffered on this earth.

Sometimes we kick and fight a door that will not open until we come to the end of ourselves, and give up in hopeless dejection. Only then do we turn to our Saviour for help, and only then do we realize that this Man from Galilee has the power to open doors that were impossible for us or any other man to open.

Many times the door that God opens for us is not the one we would have chosen, and for us to pass through it means we have to give up our precious comfort zones that give us safety and security. The situation can be aptly compared to that of a mother eagle kicking her unwilling chicks out of the warm nest in order to teach them to fly. Once out of that comfortable nest they were initially so reluctant to leave, they discover the greater wonder awaiting them outside. Likewise, most human beings find change disturbing and often vehemently resist it, so there come times when God has to deal with us in a way similar to that of the mother eagle with her offspring. Once we have been set free from the limitations of our comfort zones and securities, we discover and experience God in an amazing new dimension, our faith is stretched and we are able to trust Him more than ever before.

If the eaglets had remained in their nest they would have experienced warmth and safety but they would never have learnt to fly. They would never have discovered the world outside, or the potential inside of themselves enabling them to be part of it. The same applies to us. When we remain in our comfort zones we feel safe and secure. However, we will only discover the greatness of God and our potential in Him if we of our own accord break free from our confining boundaries, or if we allow Him to set us free from the limitations of our false securities. Peter had to get out of the boat, and walk to Jesus in order to experience the miracle of walking on the water. If he had remained in the safety of the boat he would never have known it was possible to accomplish such an astonishing feat.

All things are possible for those who believe and put their trust in this Son of God who is the great I Am. He will never turn away from, or ignore those who cry out to Him in anguish and fear when their fruitless efforts fail, and all their securities crumble. What a great and awesome God we serve who loves us with such deep and eternal love. He is, and must be, our only security because He alone is faithful and worthy of our trust. Throughout history He has proved Himself to be the omnipotent Rock of ages and He hasn’t changed. He is the same yesterday, today and forever and He will see us through our darkest hours and bring us into His glorious light.

All He desires is our total dependence and trust in Him, however, there are times when these attributes are severely put to the test—for instance when our salvation is not immediate and we find we have to wait for it. That waiting period is undoubtedly a perceptive test of our endurance and trust in Him. The secret is that if we are able to depend totally on Him in a formidable situation, He gives us the strength to wait until the end—and be saved by His mighty hand. Irrespective of how daunting, grim or impossible a situation may seem He will certainly give us ultimate victory. We need never hesitate, doubt or fear to put our hand in that strong, faithful hand of His.

The lyrics of an old song “Put your hand in the Hand” that was sung by Elvis Presley and many others in the 1970s come to mind and still ring true:

Put your hand in the hand of the man

Who stilled the water…

Put your hand in the hand of the man

Who calmed the sea…

Take a look at yourself,

And you can look at others differently,

By puttin’ your hand in the hand of the man

From the Galilee!

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If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Lorna Kirstein

http://kirsteinonline.com

The original lyrics and music of “Put your hand in the Hand” were written by the Canadian songwriter Gene Maclellan.

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