General


Dear Diary: What a Weak Week

Monday:

Dear Diary,

We don’t live in the same house anymore. After reading in a newspaper that most accidents happen within a 20 km radius from home, we moved 21 km away.

Tuesday:

Dear Diary,

I’m sorry. I can’t give you my new address. The previous occupants took the numbers with them. They wanted to keep their old address!

Wednesday:

Dear Diary,

My wife was so excited about our new house that she locked the car keys in the car. It took her more than three hours to get me out the car! She couldn’t even phone for help as I had the phone.

Thursday:

Dear Diary,

Now that we know that most accidents happen within a 20 km radius from home, we’re seriously considering buying a motor-home and just keeping on driving!

Friday:

Dear Diary,

All our problems are over! The case is solved! We’re moving in with the kids in THEIR home, so all the accidents that happen within a 20 km radius from home will be THEIR problems. We’ll be safe!!!

Saturday:

Dear Diary,

Oh, dear! My son’s dog ate my dictionary, so I had to take the words right out of its mouth. My son just nonchalantly said it was an accident! I think we’ll have to move again.

Sunday:

Dear Diary,

We’re back in our old house. To effectively safeguard ourselves against most accidents that happen within a 20 km radius from home, we simply got rid of our GPS. So, now we don’t know where we are and neither do those pesky accidents!

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Please scroll down to view our accident free home.

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Keep on scrolling, you’re nearly there.

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You’re most welcome to stop by for a cup of tea when you’re in our vicinity.

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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

 

PUNCTUATION

I was digging through some old emails the other day and discovered this precious snippet illustrating the importance of punctuation. I would love to give credit to the original source but unfortunately that genius is unknown to me. I adapted it somewhat, and so here it goes…

A grammar teacher handed a piece of unpunctuated text to her grammar students, told them that it was a letter, and instructed them to punctuate it correctly. Two completely different versions emerged as winners in that exercise.

VERSION 1:

Dear John,
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy—will you let me be yours?
Gloria

VERSION 2:

Dear John,
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
Yours,
Gloria

AND THE MORAL OF THE STORY?

Incorrect punctuation can get you into deep, deep doo-doo!

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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

QUESTION AND THINK
We live in an “instant” world and in a “spoon-fed” society. Sadly, I’ve found that most people are too lazy to think for themselves. They rely on what they’re fed, and swallow anything and everything that’s dished up—bait, hook, line and sinker. And if it’s dressed up and well presented, it goes down even better. The coming of the Internet has facilitated research and the flow of information. However, too many Internet users accept, believe and propagate what they read without doing any verification homework.

True leaders simply aren’t like that—they question and they think! Questions such as who, what, where, when, why, how, etc. need constantly be asked to prevent indoctrination and misinformation.

Ontology is that branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of being. Thus the ontological question endeavors to provide an answer to the question, “What is it?” Epistemology is that branch of philosophy that deals with the validity, methods and scope of knowledge. Thus the epistemological question endeavors to provide an answer to the question, “How do we know that.”

Leaders needn’t be philosophers, but leaders need to ask questions and think for themselves. Too often we coin the phrase, “knowledge is power,” yet we fail in our responsibility to obtain verified knowledge. We’re content in our comfort zone of untested information.

In failing to ask the question, “How do you know that?” we become prone to the reasoning of other people. Their arguments, statements or agendas dominate the table, and we inevitably end up by discussing and debating the opinions of others. By asking the simple question, “How do you know that?” the entire emphasis is shifted from discussing a statement that everyone is supposed to accept as factual, to proving that statement as factual in the first instance, prior discussing it.

Let’s look at a very practical example. A person says that the remains of dinosaurs that lived 150 million years ago were discovered. Now the ensuing debate normally is about whether there were dinosaurs or not, whether evolution or creationism is the correct interpretation of origin, and the like. However, by simply asking the question, “How do you know that dinosaurs lived 150 million years ago?” the entire emphasis is shifted on the one making the statement, to prove his statement. And the irony of this exercise is that he can’t, because there are too many suppositions in the equation to make any reasonable sense at the end of the day.

Mankind has firstly been conditioned to accept the words of those in “authority” for they “know” what they are talking about. But do they? Unless we challenge their statements we’ll never really know what’s right and what’s not. Furthermore, mankind has been conditioned not to question for it’s an unacceptable practice, very rude and extremely disrespectful. Thus we’re conditioned not to think for ourselves—and to be followers where others lead.

Academic schools of thought present a certain sense of credibility which results in the fact that Joe Soap hardly ever questions their allegations and findings. This gives them power over the people. When a school of thought can control what people believe and think, they have power over those people, and they have “willing” and “controlled” followers!

Of this there are many practical examples throughout history. In South Africa the political concept of “apartheid” was dished up to the masses, who, without questioning and thinking for themselves, swallowed it for many a year. Not only do we have this in politics, but also in religion, where but a few “anointed” have the “insight” and “revelation” to interpret “the way.”

Sadly, this is also evident in Christianity! And this happens despite the fact the Bereans were commended for daily verifying the Scriptures to see whether Paul had been teaching the truth. I’ve a very simply question to the person in the pew, “Do you check what you’re being taught?” I also have a question for the person in the pulpit, “Do you ask your hearers to check if what you teach is true?”

Scientists are another group of people prone to this kind of thing. The theory of evolution has become a fact—without anyone proving a thing. Medical science has ridiculed the spiritual as “unscientific” to such an extent that believers have more faith in their doctors and their pills than in their Creator and Healer. A very small group of academics who prescribe to the humanistic world view have virtually taken over the world with their value system.

Evidently, if you make enough noise, if you sound credible enough, if you use the right platforms, you aren’t questioned sufficiently and your hollow philosophy turns into a masterpiece!

Tradition is another very powerful tool in the hands of manipulators. We are told to do things or believe things in certain ways because “it has always been done that way.” This is found in the political, spiritual, sociological and economic spheres of life. And because we simply don’t dare question our forefathers and think for ourselves, tradition, instead of reason and truth, rules our lives and dictates our belief systems. Thus today we still have societies in certain parts of the world that are governed by traditions dating back thousands of years—ignoring progress and innovation for the sake of tradition.

Why is it true that when a fable is repeated often enough it becomes accepted as a fact? Because no one questions the fable sufficiently! Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? These questions separate the leaders from the followers. These questions separate the thinkers from the undiscerning.

Ignorance and blind acceptance of what you’re told and taught give others power over you. Knowledge, truth and understanding enable and empower you—it makes a leader out of you. No wonder then that Jesus Himself said that knowledge of the truth sets free! In politics, in business and in the church, start asking questions. “What is it?” “How do you know that?” “Why should I do that?” These questions serve as a dividing line between fact and fable, between substance and nonsense, between reality and fantasy. It’s one of the marks of separation between a leader and a follower.

The Biblical reference that “rebellion is as witchcraft” is often misinterpreted and very effectively abused by classifying questioning as rebellion, and thus suppressing the development of independent thinking. The full context of the Scripture refers to obedience to the voice of the Lord and rebelling against the word of the Lord. It has nothing to do with questioning the rules and laws of man, with questioning the reasoning and revelations of the learned, or with questioning the authority of man over man.

Just for a moment picture a scene so often seen on TV: There’s a speaker—a religious preacher, a political orator, a public speaker, a popular entertainer… And there’s an audience—fascinated, captivated, entranced, emotional, and lapping up every word… Have you ever wondered about what you’re witnessing? Have you ever marvelled at the seeming adoration of the hearers? Have you ever been a part of such an audience? Have you ever questioned the speaker? “How do you know that?” “What is it?” Questions such as who, what, where, when, why, how, etc.

True leadership consists of integrity and accountability. If truth and knowledge of the truth is not part of the equation, both integrity and accountability become no more than mere empty words.

How then can a leader obtain knowledge, and in that, knowledge of the truth? Ask! Ask questions! Think! Think clearly about the answers, evaluate them carefully and discerningly—and then ask even more questions! And most importantly, leaders question everything! Often we’re apt to only question the things that don’t suit us, but we blindly follow the things that suit us or sort of make sense to us.

My challenge to you, dear reader, is simply this: QUESTION and THINK. It is true knowledge that empowers, and truth that sets free—not the indoctrination, manipulation or control of others.

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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 other night I dreamt that God had installed SCRAP—a Sophisticated Computerized Responder Answering Prayer.

I dreamt that, as usual, I was talking to God whilst in the shower. All of a sudden a voice came through the showerhead, “Thank you for calling heaven.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I’d never had such a clear response to prayer before. Neither had I ever experienced that kind of response! I thought that I must’ve imagined it all, and continued to talk to God. Again the showerhead answered, “Thank you for calling heaven. Please select one of the following options: press 1 for praise and thanksgiving; press 2 for prayer requests; press 3 for confession and forgiveness; press 4 for complaints; and for all other enquiries, please hold the line and the next available operator will answer your call.”

My mind raced through the previous evening’s dinner: nothing out of the ordinary. I checked my forehead for fever: nothing more than the warmth of the shower was in evidence. I wondered whether I was busy losing my mind!

The voice continued, “You haven’t pressed anything. Your call will be transferred to an operator. We are experiencing a high volume of international prayers at the moment. I’m sorry; all of our operators are busy helping believers, so please stay on the line. You are number eight million six hundred and forty three thousand seven hundred and ninety two. Your call will be answered in approximately eighty six minutes. If you want us to call you back when your turn in the queue has come, press 1. Otherwise, continue to hold.”

I turned the shower off and stood there totally dumbfounded. God going high-tech? I’m a number in a queue of millions? Impossible!

Soft worship music started to play in the background as the voice continued, “To expedite your call, you should now enter your identity number and press the pound key. Then enter your PIN and press the star key. Please be patient. Your prayer will be answered.”

It felt as if the shower cubicle had shrunk and become too small for me. So, I literally jumped out and stood there in the bathroom—dripping wet… dripping wet in my face… from perspiration… caused by anxiety!

I opened my eyes and realized that it’d all been a dream—a bad, bad dream. Before I was even properly awake, I fell out of bed onto my knees and gave thanks to God that I can talk to Him directly—through Jesus my Lord.

I’m so thankful that there isn’t any SCRAP between God and us.

Aren’t you too?

__________________________________________________________

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

From time immemorial, my grandfather had been old. He had grey hair on his balding head, always wore a hat when he went outside, and always used a walking stick when he went for a walk. It wasn’t as if he needed a walking stick—it was simply the way things were done. When you go for a walk, you put a hat on and you take a stick. And guess who also wore one of Grandpa’s hats and took one of his sticks? The fact that the hat resembled a flying saucer on my head and the walking stick looked more like a telephone pole in my hand, didn’t deter me. I presume I must’ve been the laughing stock amongst all the old folk in Grandpa’s neighborhood. But I never noticed. I simply had to be just like my grandpa.

Come to think of it, he never prepared me anything to eat, or fetched me a snack. He never poured me a cold drink or even a glass of water. I was told that he never changed any of my diapers either. All that was Grandma’s loving care. Yet it somehow escaped me. Grandpa was my hero and I loved him to bits.

He retired at an early age and took up bookkeeping duties for various organizations such as the agricultural union, the fire prevention board, as well as the books of some doctors and a veterinarian. He was always busy! As far back as I can remember, he was always busy. When he wasn’t in his office doing somebody’s books, he would tend to his garden. He was a busy man. He never played with me. That was Grandma’s role. However, I didn’t really notice that. But what about Saturdays? On Saturdays Grandpa would buy the newspaper and start on the crossword puzzle. It had to be completed before Wednesday to reach the judges in time. He was a busy man. But I adored him.

From Grandpa I learnt to question—not that he instructed me intentionally. It just happened. And I began to question religion. Grandpa and Grandma read the Bible and prayed together every morning and evening. And when I visited them, I would be in the bed between the two of them, sharing in their time of devotions. In their way they had their relationship with God. I never questioned their future destiny, and still don’t. But some things just simply didn’t make sense. On some Friday evenings Grandpa and Grandma would go out to play the card game Canasta with two friends. On some Saturday evenings Grandpa and Grandma would go out to play the card game Bridge with two other friends. On Sundays Grandma wasn’t allowed to play the card game Rummy with me, because it was a sin! Two plus two didn’t make four in my understanding. Those were the years when children were seen and not heard. To ask the question, “Why,” was basically unthinkable. I had to wait many years for answers.

Grandpa made the rules, and Grandma bent the rules. He would say, “NO,” in no uncertain terms, and when things had quieted down, Grandma would get the show on the road again. So, when Grandpa took his Sunday nap, Grandma would take the cards out and we would very quietly play Rummy!

Every Sunday Grandpa went to church. He always sat in the one wing, right at the back. And at the weekends I was there, I accompanied him and sat next to him. His best friend always sat in front—in the pews reserved for the church elders. Grandpa was never an elder. He didn’t qualify. He had previously been a member of a secret organization—the Free Masons. His best friend was also a member of a secret organization—the Afrikaner Brotherhood. But he qualified to be an elder—and for many years he was one. On that issue one plus one definitely didn’t make two. It didn’t even come close to three! (Today I know why neither of them should have been members of either of those organizations, but that’s a topic on its own.)

I loved Grandpa very much. But did he love me? If ever there were two people who loved each other very much, they were my grandfather and grandmother. To me they were an example of a loving happily married couple—a happiness I have seen repeated in my own marriage. When Grandpa saw Grandma for the first time, he knew that she was the one for him. That she was engaged to someone else didn’t deter him. And they were truly happily married—ever after.

Then Grandpa became ill. He contracted a form of dementia. He started to forget. He became rude to people. He even became rude to Grandma. For her, that was the worst part of it all. One day he refused to sign the cheque to pay the apartment rent. Grandma couldn’t persuade him. My mother couldn’t budge her father. My father couldn’t reason with him either. Eventually, it was my turn to try. I sat down and spoke to Grandpa, and amazingly, he responded. I handed him the cheque book and he signed a blank cheque for me. I turned the page and he signed another, and another, and another… My father was very quiet because we all realized the implications of what I was busy doing. But it was either that or a court order declaring Grandpa incompetent. I gave the signed blank cheques to Grandma to sort things out until…

In the aftermath I just knew that he loved me, because, despite his mental state, he signed for me, and for no one else. Shortly afterward Grandpa went to hospital. I was there the night he died. That was three months before I was to get married. He was the first close relative of mine to die. I was twenty-three.

Today, I’m a grandfather and I have a grandson. What will he remember of me?

Even though I prepare some snacks for him and play a few games with him, it’s his grandmother who devotes her time to him—feeds him, plays with him and teaches him. He wants to know why I’m ALWAYS busy and grumpy! I lay down the law. His grandmother bends it when the dust has settled. And the questions! Every statement is followed by a, “Why?” and the answer is followed by another, “Why?” Ad infinitum! I love him very much. Will he realize that one day?

The day I saw my wife for the first time, I knew that she was the one for me. And God has been very, very good to us in our marriage. My Grandpa and Grandma’s history repeated. Who will be my grandson’s bride? Will I be at his wedding? Will he also have a very blessed married life? How old will he be when I go home? What kind of grandfather will he be?

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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

Cathy’s mother had taught her all the ins and outs of cooking and baking since she was a teeny-weeny knee bopper. And she simply loved it. Cooking and baking came naturally to her and progressing from mud cakes to cup cakes happened naturally long before kindergarten. At high school she spent extra time on her hospitality and catering subjects—all things that would keep her in front of the stove and oven. In her senior year she met Casper. No one was ever quite sure whether he had fallen for her quiet beauty or her delicious cuisine. But he never really understood the deeper meaning of “wait” and so they got married the day after their last exam, and started with a family the following year. Cathy’s time was taken up with changing diapers, feeding a hungry hardworking husband and keeping the tiny little house neat and clean. Her dreams and creativity were confined to her thoughts—only when she had the time. When the sixth and last little one was halfway through high school, the yearnings of yesteryear were awakened and she had a serious sit-down discussion with loving hubby Casper. He uhmed and ahed, and then said okay.

So, Cathy set up shop, “Cathy’s Cakes and Confectionery.” The support in the run-up was tremendous. All who had tasted her culinary skills encouraged her to take the major step. On the first day of the month the doors opened. The shelves were stocked with goodies galore. Everything was in place. Only—the family was missing.

A few strangers came in; bought some; came back; bought more; told others; who also came… Eventually the shop started to do quite well. Only then did the family make an appearance…

Cathy was saddened, hurt and couldn’t understand her family’s initial behavior. Then her friend Charisa mentioned the Nazareth Factor.

*****

Harry was always good with his hands. From the time he was small he always helped his dad around the house. He loved taking things apart and fixing them. At one stage he took two alarm clocks apart and when he was finished he had enough parts for three! After school he trained in technical areas; and after working for a few guys he thought it was time to branch out on his own. Thus “Harry the Handyman” was born. He rented a small workshop in the industrial area and acquired a suitable pickup truck. Then he advertized in the local newspaper. Most people knew him from his previous places of employment—and slowly the calls trickled in.

However, when his brother’s hot water cylinder blew, he phoned a different handyman. His brother-in-law wanted a new garden feature installed and also contacted another handyman. Soon Harry noticed that all the jobs required by his own family went to the opposition—excepting those of his dad. After he won an award from the local small business association, his brother asked him to convert the garage into a family room.

Harry was saddened, hurt and couldn’t understand his family’s initial behavior. Then his neighbor Henry told him about the Nazareth Factor.

*****

Sandra was a storyteller. She always came up with the wildest concoctions imaginable. At school her friends always listened to her scary stories. At varsity she started telling love stories, and everyone just hung on her lips. Her lecturer suggested that she pen them down. And so she did. When her notebook was full the lecturer read through it and suggested she have her short stories published. The road to finding a publisher was more difficult than filling the notebook with love stories. After a few rejections, her manuscript was accepted. Everyone rejoiced with her. A year later the book, “Young Love” by Sandra Saunders, was printed. Her family commented that it was nice, meaningful, touching, inspiring… And that was that.

Slowly sales picked up and strangers started to rave about her book. Her mom was in full support and told everyone about her wonderful daughter who had written such a wonderful book—even to the extent of Sandra feeling quite embarrassed about her mom’s unbridled crusade. However, the rest of her family only expressed modest interest and casually mentioned her “work of art” to others.

Sandra continued to pursue her dream and after a few years her second book became a national best seller. Then she discovered that her family members were introducing themselves as relatives of a “renowned author.”

Sandra was saddened, hurt and couldn’t understand her family’s initial behavior. Then one Sunday morning Simon’s sermon was all about the Nazareth Factor.

*****

Were Cathy, Harry and Sandra the only people ever to experience the Nazareth Factor? Have others perhaps had similar experiences?

Anyway, exactly just what is the Nazareth Factor that seemingly causes family to initially provide less support to a fellow family member who is an aspiring entrepreneur, a rising star, on the road to possible success? What was the essence of Simon’s sermon that particular morning?

*****

Many years ago, about two millennia to be a little bit more exact, a young man grew up in a town called Nazareth. His dad was a carpenter and he fiddled around in his dad’s workshop. Some busybodies whispered about him as he was conceived while his mom and dad were engaged—before they were married. Anyway, the kids in the town knew him well and his brothers and sisters also got on quite well with him.

One day they went to Jerusalem for a big religious festival. He sort of wandered off and started to talk to the grownups. It became crystal clear to one and all that he was a special boy with extraordinary insight into the things of God.

As time went on he became a preacher and teacher, and he traveled all over the country. But he was different to the others of the day. The power of God was upon him and he performed many miracles. The blind would see. The lame would walk. The lepers were cleansed. The possessed were freed. Even water was turned into wine. A large number of people became his followers. Some recognized him as the Messiah. Others realized that he was the Son of God incarnate.

Then he went to his own hometown—there where they all knew him so well. There where he had grown up and worked in his dad’s carpentry shop. There where he had been schooled and where he had played with his friends. There where the people knew him as he had been known before his gifting and calling was revealed to all and asunder. And then an amazing thing happened. That was the day the Nazareth Factor kicked in!

He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?”

Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas.

All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?”

And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.”

And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.

(Matt 13:54-58 NLT)

Therefore, should we find ourselves in the same position that millions of others have found themselves in, we needn’t despair. Jesus experienced exactly the same.

It’s an apparent natural phenomenon that a person receives recognition for achievement everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.  It seems that the locals and family simply can’t think that someone from their midst could amount to something or achieve anything. Sadly, some may also feel that if they themselves can’t have “it,” neither should others.

That lack of recognition was borne by Jesus Christ for us long, long ago.

However, take heart, for as the excellence of your work becomes more and more evident, the family might even become your greatest advocates! “They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.” (Acts 1:14 NLT)

__________________________________________________________

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

MELANIE’S MALADY

On Sunday Melanie went to church. On Monday Melanie contemplated the events of Sunday. On Tuesday Melanie discussed it all with Douglas, her husband. But he was his usual noncommittal self. On Wednesday Melanie confided in Sarah and Jolene over coffee and cheesecake at the Mugg-and-Bean—but all to no avail. On Thursday she phoned her mother, 1000km away, who merely told her to stop her nonsense. On Friday morning she rang Scott’s doorbell.

Scott hadn’t seen or spoken to Melanie in months. But there she was on his doorstep, unannounced, under stress and unable to help herself. Before Scott could properly invite her in, she plunked herself down on the couch in the living room. Scott tried to get through the customary cordialities of, “How’re you? How’s Douglas?” But Melanie simply unburdened herself, opened the flood gates, and poured her heart out…

“I’ve been attending church since I was a little girl. Every Sunday I went to Sunday school and after that I sat between my mom and dad during the main service. The years went by and Sunday school turned into confirmation classes. Mom made me a beautiful light mauve chiffon dress for the confirmation. And I started to use Holy Communion. I met Douglas; we got engaged and went to see the minister. We had a lovely church wedding; and later both our children were christened in the same church. Everything was so regular and so normal—all according to the way things have always been done.

“Then one morning during Bible study we discussed the ‘born-again’ issue. The one girl said that she would get hold of some more information. At the next meeting she brought a guest along who explained salvation to us in a way none of us had ever heard from the pulpit. It was as if blinkers fell off our eyes and we were all born-again that morning—receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We returned to our church, but our message of joy wasn’t well received. Gradually, we all left and joined other churches. Douglas didn’t protest too much, and just tagged along. Everything had been going well, till this past Sunday…”

“Well, what happened?” Scott asked, quietly hoping that he wasn’t getting himself into something rather problematic.

“Everything was the same as usual—nothing out of the ordinary,” Melanie continued. “We had a precious time of praise and worship. Then the pastor started preaching and I listened, following in my Bible. The pastor proceeded to Psalm 107:8-9 ‘Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.’ And right there I stopped listening… I stopped following the sermon… It was as if the text had been highlighted, and it stood out very prominently. I stared and stared and stared…

“I was thirsty! I was hungry! I wanted the good things of the Lord! I wanted more of God! No, let me rephrase that: I AM thirsty, I AM hungry, I WANT the good things of God, and I WANT more of God. And that’s been driving me crazy all week!”

Scott got up to make them some tea, hoping that it would give him some time to formulate an answer to Melanie’s malady. “After all,” he thought to himself, “what do I know anyway?” He placed the tray with the cups and some biscuits on the coffee table, poured the tea and attempted an answer.

“You know, I have a very simple faith. I strive to focus on Jesus. I firmly adhere to the Scripture in 1 Timothy 2:5 that says ‘For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.’ So I’ve been trying through all these past years, to improve my relationship with Jesus, and practice a faith devoid of rituals and religion. I’ve found that my thirst can only be quenched, and my hunger only be satisfied, in fellowship with Jesus. That’s the only way I’ve been able to get more of God.”

Melanie looked at Scott intently, and with tears starting to form in her eyes, asked, “Are you implying that I’m not praying enough to God? Are you saying that I don’t have a proper prayer life?”

“No, no, no,” he quickly interjected, “that’s not at all what I meant.” He gave her a moment to regain her composure and continued, “Fellowship with Jesus is more than prayer—its ‘prayer plus.’”

“Prayer-plus? What do you mean?” Melanie had a puzzled look on her face.

Scott got up and went to the CD-player. He searched his CD collection and found what he was looking for. Melanie asked whether he was going to play some praise and worship music. Scott looked at her and handed her the CD case—a remake of a Mario Lanza golden oldie. Melanie looked at him with raised eyebrows. He knew that she was busy questioning his spirituality and wondering whether he had backslidden. Scott asked her to listen carefully to the words. He suggested that there might be a secret hidden in the lyrics. The song started… Mario Lanza’s outstanding voice filled the lounge…

I’ll walk with God, from this day on
His helping hand, I’ll lean upon
This is my prayer, my humble plea
May the Lord be ever with me

There is no death though eyes grow dim
There is no fear when I’m near to Him
I’ll lean on Him forever
And He’ll forsake me never

He will not fail me
As long as my faith is strong
What ever road I may walk alone

I’ll walk with God, I’ll take his hand
I’ll talk with God, He’ll understand
I’ll pray to Him, each day to him
And he’ll hear the words that I say

His hand will guide my throne and rod
And I’ll never walk alone
While I walk with God

When the melody had finished, Scott turned off the CD-player. Melanie read and reread the words on the CD-case insert. She lifted her head, looked him straight in the eyes and said, “I think I’m getting what you’re trying to tell me. Fellowship with God is a daily walk with God. Is that right?”

Scott smiled at Melanie. She sure had got it! “Fellowship with Jesus is an intimate walk with Jesus—24/7,” he responded. “As you allow Him to come closer to you, you’ll experience more of Him. It is no different to your relationship with Douglas. The more you let Douglas into your life, the better you get to know him. You see, fellowship with Jesus is not a religious ritual, it’s very practical and it’s very real.”

Melanie started to understand what Scott had meant with prayer-plus. Even though she had been born-again, she was still adhering to some rituals and religious concepts. If she really wanted more of God, she had to have a one-to-one relationship with Jesus. And such a relationship could only come by talking to Him, listening to Him, spending time with Him—all the time… Whilst, working, playing, showering, eating, anything, everything—24/7.

Like the clear sound of a bell, she realized that ‘relationship’ outweighed ‘religion.’ As if the lights were suddenly turned on, she began to see the difference between ‘Christianity’ and ‘churchianity.’ In a twinkling of an eye, she chose ‘intimacy’ above ‘institution,’ and ‘Truth’ above ‘tradition.’

They spent some time in prayer and God touched Melanie’s thirsty and hungry soul. He filled her with His love and joy. He gave her a new song in her heart. God changed MELANIE’S MALADY into MELANIE’S MELODY! I’ll walk with God… from this day on…

That was Friday. On Saturday, Melanie was jubilant. On Sunday, Douglas was jubilant. On Wednesday, Sarah and Jolene were jubilant.

You know what? You too can be jubilant! Today, God can change your malady into a melody!

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If you enjoyed this story, 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

http://kirsteinonline.com

(‘I’ll walk with God’ lyrics © by Paul Francis Webster)

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