Growing in God: Growing through Humility Part 1

(Above is one of the images from Laurie-Ann’s first prophetic colouring book, “Colouring with Jesus.”)  We hope to publish this very soon in Worcester, South Africa).

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During our last article, we continued our journey on hope.  During the first installment on hope, we discovered many of the places where hope is mentioned in the Bible.  Hope is mentioned 190 times, especially in the book of Psalms.  The Psalms are full of passages on hope, and advise readers many times to have hope in God.  This hope is not a wispy wish, but is something as strong as a rope on a life preserver. Hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised.  It ties in with trust in God’s promises.   Hope doesn’t have a specific time-line, but it is future based, while faith believes more in the NOW.  Still, hope is an essential stepping stone to faith.

I conducted a survey of my Facebook friends to gauge their view of hope.  Many of the answers were very powerful, including my friend Brenda. She shared that she believes hope is “that inner joy with motivation to expect that promised thing to manifest at any moment!  Everyone seems to have their favourite scripture on hope, and the one that often comes to mind is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  That hope includes restoration, healing and more.

Then we went through ten ‘take-aways” on hope, to help us remember when we hit hard times.   Hope moves us forward, so we don’t get stuck in our wallowing.  Hope gives us the energy to move.  You CAN do this.  Let’s encourage each other with hope to move on.   Hope lightens our darkness, so we can see our way forward.  Hope increases the faith that we have.

Hope is contagious – and this is where community spirit comes in.  The folkies love this aspect of hope for a great song.  But it IS true.  Hope brings healing – especially to the heart.  Hope and depression do not mix.  Hope is practical.  It does not sit passively, but works for the better.  Hope purifies us in the struggle, and especially in persecution. Hope stabilizes us in the storm, so we become stronger. And hope defends us against lies that drag us to doubt and despair.  So we do have a hope and a future.  We need only ask God for it.  He’s had it for us all along.   There is another way to grow in God that takes hands with hope.  And that is humility.

Humility is often understood as meekness, lack of vanity, modesty and lack of pride.  While humility may seem outwardly modest, it’s not just a lack of vanity or pride.   Humility is not synonymous with meekness, which is a fruit of the Spirit, though they are related.  Is meekness humility with added long suffering and perseverance?  Or are both a form of strength with a gentle touch?  Perhaps.  We’ll journey over that another day.

Humility is strong, not weak.  Jesus’s humility is a huge example for us, as is shown in Philippians 2:3-5.   “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”  With these statements the Apostle Paul shares what some call the Philippians Hymn – an ancient creed that showed the depth of Jesus’ humility by how far he went to rescue us.  Due to this extreme love and self-sacrifice, he was given the highest honour.   Humility is actually a prerequisite for honour.

Here is the whole creed, from verses 5-11. “May you have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he  made himself nothing; by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself, by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place, and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,  in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

I love this scripture so much, that I had it recited at our wedding. To me, it’s the very core of our faith and the nature of Jesus.  It’s love in the clothes of humility. That’s part of who Jesus is.  But what about us?  How can WE grow in humility? Honestly, I don’t think it’s something we can do on our own – it must be grown IN us.  When we are left to our own devices, we can be anything BUT humble.  If we try on our own to outwardly mimic humility, it’s fake.  And then you could brag about those humble acts, and be shown for the actor you are.  You want to be real.

There’s a reason why humility is a fruit of the Spirit, although the word humility comes up alongside the words “meekness,” “kindness,” “forebearance,” “long-suffering” and gentleness, depending on which Bible translation you use.   Fruit takes time to develop. Since humility is a key virtue in relationships, this is exactly where it needs to grow.    Pete Miller believes that true humility is a quality that many Christian men and women desire.  He says it’s “not a value to be concealed, as if it expressed weakness; but rather, it’s a precious gift that should be revealed.  Humility is the (very) opposite of pride, which caused Lucifer to be cast out from the presence of God.”

The apostle Paul says in Ephesians 4:2, to “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”  Humility is the very opposite of selfish ambition or vanity.  We are to value others above ourselves.   While it’s important to remember others, it doesn’t mean that we are to treat ourselves badly. John the Baptist said in John 3:30, that He (or Jesus) must become greater and greater, and I (as in John), must become less and less.  John wasn’t putting himself down – he was putting his ministry in perspective to prepare the way for Jesus.  So how do we value others and ourselves in proper perspective?

It means that we need to think of ourselves less often. CS Lewis said that humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.  Most of us are pretty self-focused for different reasons.  Humility is the ability to realize that and remember the person next to you.   We also need to see others through the Holy Spirit’s perspective. Mama Heidi does this when she stops for the one, or her divine appointment of that moment. She is given the insight and compassion to see them as not just someone in need, but someone that God really loves.  And in that moment, you actually feel God’s love for that person.  This has happened to me many times with children, but also with others that I’ve met.  Each time it’s deeply personal and intensely compassionate.

Becoming humble means that you don’t need to always be right in a discussion.  You don’t need to be bolstered by other people’s approval. You can be generous to the other person when they disagree.   Pete Miller shares that “people who are genuinely humble do not draw attention to themselves, or attempt to advance a personal agenda.  Although the biblical definition of humility shows lowliness of mind, it is NOT frailty, or timidity.  There is no fear or cowering.  Humble believers recognize they don’t know it all, and they seek to know God, who is all-knowing. Humility makes us teachable, and willing to submit to God’s instruction.  The humble Christian is not a doormat or a pushover.  They confidently put their trust in God, and do not act arrogantly.

Humility also means that you are not entitled to certain successes that others may have.  These successes may be well-paying jobs, a valued role in the town or church, or may even be a happy family enjoying well-earned holidays.  We need not be envious of these, for we may have different experiences.  These are blessings from God, not entitlements. They aren’t our identity.   Humility also means that we deepen our relationship with God. CS Lewis shared, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”  Humble people actually look UP.  What they see is the vast love of God for his creation, and this alters how they see everyone else.

Humility is highly relational and VERY counter-cultural in so many places.  We were shown this by the campus pastor of Hillsong Somerset West, on a recent visit.  The morning brought load shedding, so the local pastor shared how to be a counter cultural Christian to the culture around us.  He said that living in this fashion would cause people to take notice – being kind, in situations where there is just the opposite, having integrity where others are corrupt, and so many more.  Yet I remember his example of humility as being one of the most counter-cultural ways of living out the gospel, even down to Proverbs 15:1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Try that in a gang-infested township.  It doesn’t challenge the gangster’s authority, except to wonder why you are willing to hear them out.

Veronica Neffinger from Crosswalk believes that the very nature of humility seems counterintuitive to most of our cultures’ values.  In the West, we applaud independence, assertiveness, fame, success and self-reliance.  Humility “often feels like a paradox, but it’s consistent with Jesus’ teachings.”  For example, listen to Matthew 20:16: “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”  Or perhaps this scripture passage from Mark 8:36:  “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

So how can we learn to be humble?  How can we have a teachable spirit?  We need to first pray for it.   I believe that our heavenly Pappa wants to give us good gifts.  The apostle James reminds us in James 1:17 that “whatever is good and perfect, is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.”  Neffinger believes that He wants to bless us with humility – because having a humble and teachable spirit allows us to experience more joy and peace.  It opens the door for so many good things.

Second, we need to support leaders who are humble.  It’s easy to honour them, but give them encouragement, and learn how they submit their leadership to God. You may even want to be mentored by them. I was seeking that form of leadership when I found my Iris papa, Brian, who leads the Iris affiliate church in Richmond, Virginia.  It was his humility, as well as wisdom and compassion that impressed me – and still does.  He had the Iris DNA.  We’ve also learned from our own Iris base leaders, Johan and Marie, who are also gentle and humble, and yet strong and loving.

Third, imagine your worst enemy at the foot of the cross. This may be a person who has tormented you, or someone you’ve not yet forgiven.  While our real enemy is not flesh and blood, sometimes a person can seem like our worst opponent.   But if you actually pray for that person, you can begin to see that they need Jesus as much as you do.  We all need lots of grace.

Fourth, study Jesus’ humility in the Gospel of Luke.  Use a highlighter. Pay attention to how he lived his humanity in a humble way, even though he is God. Watch how he interacted with people.

Fifth, we need to “weed out” media that negatively affects how you act with others.   Neffinger advises that “social media often has the tendency to make us envious, snarky and prideful.”  Just look at Instagram with impossibly pretty faces in a perpetual pout.  In my case I may see nasty, trolling comments on Facebook, or even on Quora.  It’s important for me to put my phone away and take a break.  This nastiness has a negative impact on us.  We might rise up in pride and anger, when we need to be in the opposite.  Offence can be very dangerous and opens the door to all kinds of bitterness and pain. So put on some worship music, ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse the junk from your mind, and choose the way of humility.

Mama Heidi Baker tells us at Harvest School,  to go “Low and slow.”  This means low as in humble, and slow as in stopping to learn and not force your way forward.  While she means this in a missionary context, it’s also true with many people you meet.  Some people may be so broken,  so angry and so entrenched in their ways, that they cannot feel love.  But they can recognize kindness and humility.  They do know when they are at last being heard.

Sixth, we need to cultivate humility through the Holy Spirit. This takes time, so be patient as God works in your life. True Humility needs to be real, and not something we do in our own strength.  Humility includes self-denial, for good reasons, not out of duty, but out of love. False humility looks like religiously denying ourselves.  Most of us can spot that a mile away.   Some examples of false humility include:  Denying ourselves to make a point, denying ourselves to feel better about ourselves, and denying ourselves as an excuse to be lazy. This may look like a martyr complex, where a person says, “Whatever, we’ll do it your way,” when it’s clear that they still want their own way.   It can also look like “I’ll do this because you want to do it,” rather than “Ok, let’s do it.” That’s more people-pleasing than being humble.  The third example is not speaking your own opinion because we may be using a keep-the-peace mentality out of fear.  Again, this is people-pleasing and not truly honouring.  True humility involves being who God created us to be, and not either hiding our opinions, or cramming it down another’s throat. Humility is strong, yet gentle.

So humility is one of the inner keys in the kingdom.  I’ve heard many pastors speak on the value of the ‘incredible upside down kingdom.’ This means that God’s way is often opposite to what we encounter in the world.  Unfortunately, sometimes the world’s values in these matters are only too common in the church.  Lord, please forgive us.  It takes time to weed out the things that keep us from becoming like Jesus.  Pride, haughtiness, arrogance, and unforgiveness are among the worst that hurt our relationships with each other, and with God.  So we seek the low road of humility.  And in time, we will be honoured too.  Just look at Haman, the villain of the Book of Esther.  He was the very opposite of humble when he tried to destroy the Jews of his time.  He was brought low at the end, and the man he tried to destroy was honoured. That’s just one example in the Bible.

We’ll journey more through learning about humility next time.   May the Holy Spirit bless you deeply with true humility, and strength from inside you.  When you are tempted to go the way of pride, remember that it’s God who gives you your talent, and opens your doors.

Lord, I ask you to bless each person listening to my voice – with a deep realization that you have blessed us in so many ways.  You are the one who opens the good opportunities, and you are the one who give us talents in our work.  You make us in all different ways, and it is good.  Give us a realization that you made us deeply creative, thinking people, who are capable of great things.  Let us not forget you when we create something beautiful, for you had a hand in it.  Teach us to be humble, without having to go through the lesson of pride, tripping us up like falling over a rock on a mountain climb.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you’d like to hear this article in audio format read by Laurie-Ann, visit our podcast page  and scroll down to #59.

I’m also continuing cancer treatments here in South Africa.  We return to Canada to resume treatment in April 2020.  If you feel led to learn about L-A’s story and or pitch in, you can visit our medical campaign page.  You can also send whatever amount you’d like to sow to our Paypal: https://www.paypal.me/WaystogrowinGod

Maranatha singers “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord”

 

Growing in God: Growing in Hope part 2

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During our last article, we learned how important hope is – both the regular human hope in the midst of difficult circumstances, and the Christian hope in the resurrection and the eventual overturn of evil.  The Psalms are full of passages on hope, and advise many times for believers to hope in God.  This hope is not a wispy wish, but is something as strong as a rope on a life preserver. Hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised.  It ties in with trust in God’s promises.   Hope doesn’t have a specific time-line, but it is future based, while faith believes more in the NOW.  Still, hope is an essential stepping stone to faith.

Hope is mentioned in the Bible 190 times. Some of those examples give us glimpses of hope as an anchor in stormy seas. One friend told me that she sees “hope as the anchor of the soul.”  Hope is also a stabilizer that gives courage, perseverance and in a sense, joy.  My friend Brenda shares that she believes hope is “that inner joy with motivation to expect that promised thing to manifest at any moment!”  This is after the occasional times of panic and weariness while we are waiting for resolution. Hope is like a reservoir of emotional strength, given to us by the Holy Spirit. Hope brings expectation in One who is bigger than ourselves.  After all, we are given a promise in Jeremiah 29 verse 11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  That hope includes restoration, healing and more.

Last week when I was writing on hope, I conducted a survey of my Facebook friends, asking them for their view of hope.  From folk musicians, I was given two great original folk songs about hope.  I played one of them by Eileen McGann, about looking up in hope, on one of  our Worcester Report shows on CWCP Radio.  And so, hope DOES cause us to lift up our heads, rather than look down and mourn. Hope reminds us that we have much to live for.  Not only do we have the future, but we have many gifts in the present – including friends, family, and so much more.

From non-Christians who doubt the existence of God, there was philosophical discussion about other faiths and philosophies, but not a personal view of hope.  The comment from one of them started with:  “Even though today, humanity experiences the best living conditions, greatest life expectancy, and easiest living with minimal pain and suffering in the history of mankind, life can still be unappealing to many people.  Indeed there are those (anti-natalists) who say life is not worth living at all and claim that it is immoral to bring children into the world.  Then he began to discuss religion as being a classic example of a coping mechanism. […] Hope is for those who struggle but lack the cognitive training for mindfulness. Those who don’t struggle may perhaps still hope to find a purpose in life.

When I mentioned that the current craze of superheroes also showed a strong measure of hope, I was given this answer:  Yes, fascination with superheroes is similar except people don’t think superheroes exist.  Well, it is true that the comic super-heroes may not exist, although try telling that to those who love to spend their lives in cosplay or in comic book conventions.   Do they have real hope, or are they happy to just bury their feelings and enjoy fantasy?  His wife shared that “hope can be (destructive) if it’s based on empty pipe dreams, but hope can also lead to meaningful actions that bring about the said hope. I’m thinking climate change if we as a species can pull our fingers out of our various orifices (including, but not limited to, our ears)!  This second view is on par with the folkie dream of a collective set of people coming together to make change.  This is a good thing to do in community for hope in our future generally.  However, it’s not the Christian concept of hope.   While this hope is supernaturally based, it’s also incredibly personal.   My friend Nano shared, “This winter I had a revelation of our Father God who just who enjoys me as his child so I can sing and dance with gratitude towards all He has done and all He will do. I remain open to new adventures while I pass through valleys of testing.  […]  Hope helps me rise above my circumstances knowing that I have a greater reward than anything the enemy tries to fling at me.”

Hope helps you to persevere, so your heart doesn’t get sick.  Two friends shared about not giving up.  One of them said, “Hope is never giving up.  Without hope, you have nothing.  Hope makes you move forward to the future.”  This was said by a lady who had persevered through incredibly hard times this past year, despite having a huge heart towards the downtrodden. She’s taking that hope with her this year, while walking the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.

Hope also is part of completely relying on God.  My regular prayer partner Diane shared of her hope, the same hope that has grown her into a very strong woman. She said, “through many experiences where I needed to depend on God completely, I have come to believe in His promises, I know He has a plan for my life and my role in life is to fulfill it. Every day, I look forward to making a difference in the lives of the people I meet, and in speaking up for good and not for evil.”  So in Diane’s example, hope inspires.   And another friend reminded me of the deepest hope of all – Christ in you, the hope of glory. The Apostle Paul wrote about the precious mystery we carry inside us – like treasure in clay pots. We are the clay – and Jesus living in us through the Holy Spirit is the hope of glory.  We are God’s plan to love the world and show them Jesus.  There is no plan B. We are messengers and ambassadors of hope.   The NLT version finishes Colossians 1 verse 27 by adding that because Christ lives IN us, “this gives you assurance of sharing his glory.”   So in a way, God can be superhero through us, but it is really God who is touching the hearts and situations.  We’re just the vessel.

We have many reasons to hope. Let’s reorient the reasons in a simple way so we have something to take home with us for later.   David Murray compiled ten ways in which Christian hope helps us in our walk with God.   Hope moves us forward.  “Christian hope is a realistic expectation of and joyful longing for future good, based on the reliable word of God. The more we long for the future, the less we will yearn for the past. Hope deletes regrets and underlines expectation.  It increases momentum towards the future.”

Hope energizes the present.  Hope makes life worth living right now, because tomorrow is so much brighter.  Murray says that “what’s doomsday for most, is coronation day for us.”  We need not fear death, because it’s not the end.  Hope lightens our darkness.  Hope doesn’t deny the reality of painful circumstances.  Yet, it does shine a brilliant light into these valleys.  It points to the light at the end of them.  The saying, “it’s always darkest before the dawn” is a hopeful statement that reminds us to persevere a little longer, rather than be sorrowfully impatient.

Hope increases faith.  I mentioned earlier the connection of hope and faith – that hope proceeds faith.  I still believe that, yet faith is not just the end result of hope.  We are to continue in hope.  Murray says that “Faith fuels hope, but hope also fuels faith. As Hebrews 11 makes very clear, hope and faith are very closely tied together.  Both enliven the other. Without faith we cannot soar in hope, but without hope, faith will limp home. The greatest believers are the greatest hopers.”

Hope is infectious. We can drag others down by our complaints and sadness.  Yet we can also inspire and motivate others through our inspiring hope. This attitude encourages other sagging Christians, and it also impacts depressed unbelievers who cannot but ask a reason for the hope they see in us.  Remember that people watch us through our suffering, and see how hope buoys us up. 1 Peter 3 verse 15 says, to “always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have.”  They need that hope too.

Hope brings healing.  When our friend Riana called me in the midst of my illness with the song “I raise a Hallelujah,”  she was used by God to bring me hope.  I didn’t understand at the time, for I saw it as a reminder that God is in control, even when I am not well.  It was a reminder that I had no reason to feel hopeless.  I would not always be sick.  Hope says, things will get better. There is a way out.  That hope is a step towards healing, and away from depression.

Hope is practical.  Hope isn’t passive.  We are not to just sit and wait for a perfect world to appear. No way. Hope motivates action. When we hope for better days for the church, we serve the church. When we hope for our children to come to faith in Jesus, we are motivated to share the Gospel with them. When we hope for God’s blessing on His Word, we listen to it much more intently. Hope produces action.

Hope purifies.  During our last broadcast, I spoke about many Christians and Jews going through intense persecution. Whatever persecution we experience in this world, the day is coming when we will be more like the Son of God. This is what inspires and motivates the apostle to persevere to the end and to persevere in holiness.  Paul talked about knowing Jesus in the fellowship of his sufferings – and this is exactly what purifies us when we keep an attitude of hope. We grow stronger, purer, and people can see more of Jesus in us, because of the hope we have.  The apostle John shared in 1 john 3:1-3 that “everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”  Hope gives us the strength for the refiner’s fire.

Hope stabilizes us in the storm. David Murray shares that there “are sixty-six drawings of anchors in the [Roman] catacombs.” These are the caves and tunnels that persecuted Christians hid in during the Roman persecutions. Hope was their anchor during those dark and stormy days.  Hebrews 6 reminds us that “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and strong.”  The writer later shares in Hebrews 10:32-34 to the persecuted church of his time. “Remember those days in the past when you first learned the truth. You had a hard struggle with many sufferings, but you continued strong. 33 Sometimes you were hurt and persecuted before crowds of people. And sometimes you shared with those who were being treated that way. 34 You helped the prisoners. And you even had joy when all that you owned was taken from you. You were joyful because you knew that you had something better and more lasting.”

Like the anchor, hope grabs what is out of sight. One Puritan author uses a similar life preserver image: “The cable of faith casts out the anchor of hope and lays hold of the steadfast rock of God’s promises.”  So once again, faith and hope are connected, and as 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us, these two things are eternal, as is love.   John Piper believes that hope is actually an important component of faith, not just a stepping stone towards it.  He says, “faith can look back to [the beginning] as well as forward. So faith is the larger idea [or the container]. Faith includes hope, but is more than hope. You might put it this way: faith is our confidence in the word of God, and whenever that word points to the future, you can call our confidence in it hope. Hope is faith in the future tense.”

Speaking of storms, there is a connection between storms and our Cape of Good Hope near Cape Town.  Yes, it’s the south western tip of South Africa.  It’s not the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian oceans – that happens further east at Cape Agualas.  Originally this peninsula was named Cape of Storms by the Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Dias.  But instead a Portuguese king renamed the Cape “Good Hope” because of the major optimism that this sea route gave to Europe.  It opened an easier way to India and the Far East.  This king proclaimed a blessing on the tip of Africa.  And may this blessing bring more than commerce, but rather what a blessing should give.

And finally, Hope defends us. Paul also depicts hope as a defensive helmet to be worn in spiritual battle.  This helmet must not be taken off and laid aside until after the battle is over. This is shown in Ephesians 6:17, which the Passion Translation shares in this way: “ Embrace the power of salvation’s full deliverance, like a helmet to protect your thoughts from lies.”  Lies are the opposite of hope.  Lies point us to the area of greatest vulnerability and danger – our mind or thoughts. This is where Satan usually works to give us reasons to doubt and despair. And this is why we need to daily renew our minds by the power of hope.

So hope is far more powerful that we previously thought.  Let’s remember the ten take-aways that hope gives us.  Hope moves us forward, so we don’t get stuck in our wallowing.  Hope gives us the energy to move.  You CAN do this.  Let’s encourage each other with hope to move on.   Hope lightens our darkness, so we can see our way forward.  Hope increases the faith that we have.

Hope is contagious – and this is where community spirit comes in.  The folkies love this aspect of hope for a great song.  But it IS true.  Hope brings healing – especially to the heart.  Hope and depression do not mix.  Hope is practical.  It does not sit passively, but works for the better.  Hope purifies us in the struggle, and especially in persecution. Hope stabilizes us in the storm, so we become stronger. And hope defends us against lies that drag us to doubt and despair.  So we do have a hope and a future.  We need only ask God for it.  He’s had it for us all along.

Lord, thank you for the deep hope that you give us.  I ask that you pour that hope into us, so that it overflows our hearts. Strengthen us, sustain us, pull us out of the mucky mud of complaining and bitter hurts. Lift our heads in hope, so we can see a glimpse of that future hope, as well as the hope you put in our hearts.  Grow our hearts to contain more.  In Jesus’ name,  Amen.

If you’d like to hear an audio version of this message, visit our podcast page on Coppleswesterncape.ca, and scroll down to #50.  You’ll also see a video clip that I refer to in that Doctor Who episode.

Blessings,
Laurie-Ann Copple

I’m also continuing chemotherapy here in South Africa.  We return to Canada to resume treatment in April 2020.  If you feel led to learn about L-A’s story and or pitch in, you can visit our medical campaign page.  You can also send whatever amount you’d like to sow to our Paypal: https://www.paypal.me/WaystogrowinGod

Growing in God:  Growing in Hope part 1

Pastel drawing by Natalie, missionary to Sudanese

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During our last broadcast, we learned how important love is as the foundation of our lives – especially the agape love of God.  When we grow in love as his sons and daughters, we grow well.  We also learned of love languages and I challenged you to not only find out your own ways to best receive love, but also those of your spouse and friends.  In outreach, it goes further than that.  Can you imagine the inroads we would make in reaching out to those who hate us through their love language?   I also personalized the biblical love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13.  When you stop and think about all the wonderful qualities of love – being patient, kind, not irritable, persistent and long-suffering, it appears even more real when we put our own names in love’s place.  How do we achieve those high goals?  We can’t.  Love’s goals are only possible with God’s love flowing from us.  That’s where the living water of the Holy Spirit comes in. He’s the one that gives us the compassion we need – for ourselves and others.

Near the end of 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul says that three things will last forever – faith, hope and love…”  Today I’ve been led to seek out hope. Hope to me is like a life preserver as you float on a sea of hard times.  Real hope is powerful, it’s not wishy-washy at all.  “Hope” is commonly used to mean ‘wish.’ In this context, its strength is the strength of the person’s desire.  But as shown in the Bible, hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised, and believing that he is faithful.  It ties in with trust.  Trust and hope are absolutely essential in progressing towards faith, which goes further in expectation.  Hope is future-based. Hope gives someone who is struggling in the midst of problems a positively-based goal that there will be an end to the problems and a better life ahead.  Pete Seeger wrote a folk ballad about this type of hope, and his song became a banner for the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.  Read the words and hear their cry for hope:

We shall overcome, We shall overcome, We shall overcome, some day
Oh deep in my heart, I do believe,   We shall overcome, some day

We’ll walk hand in hand, We’ll walk hand in hand, We’ll walk hand in hand,
some day

We shall live in peace, We shall live in peace, We shall live in peace, some day
Oh deep in my heart, I do believe, We shall overcome, some day.

We are not afraid, We are not afraid,  We are not afraid,   today
Oh deep in my heart, I do believe, We shall overcome, some day.

These simple words, coupled with Martin Luther King’s speech of having a dream that showed racial equality, gave hope that difficulties do not last forever.  We will win the day.  God is in charge. There is no timeline of when the object of hope will intervene.  But there is an inner assurance that it will happen. How?  Partly, change can happen with community action, individuals being agents for change, and most importantly, with the help of the Holy Spirit.  How else should one live when in despair? God loves us and does not want us to stay in that state.  Our God is a God of hope.  Biblical hope not only desires something good for the future, it EXPECTS it to happen.

Hope is mentioned in the Bible 190 times. Some of these scriptures show human hope, such as positive desires for the future. Others show hope as a future goal. And many show God as their hope, in the form of the resurrection of the dead; as well as making things right in healing, and restoration.    Hope is given in the context of not dashing hopes: hope for a better future, hope giving courage, hope as promise, and hope as deep trust, as we depend on God. That kind of hope is like an anchor in stormy seas.  Hebrews 6:19 shares that hope in God in Christ is “a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.  It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.”  This refers to Hope as essential for intimacy with God.

John Piper says that he loves the way that the psalmists wrestle, fight, and struggle to maintain their hope in God.  Often the unknown timeline puts a question mark in the minds of those seeking a way out, of their struggle. We want to say, “When, Lord? When?  Psalm 119:81 shares this anguish, when the Psalmist says,  “I am worn out waiting for your rescue, but I have put my hope in your word.”   But relax, there is nothing wrong with you feeling this way.  You haven’t failed, and God’s faithfulness is not at risk.  Our understanding of God’s time isn’t accurate. John Piper notes that this is a normal Christian experience.  We need to realize this is normal, or “else we may grow sluggish and negligent in our fight for hope.  And that is very dangerous.” Hope is like a reservoir of emotional strength.   May the Holy Spirit fill us with a deep reservoir of hope to sustain us as we look to him.   May we not run empty.  If we persevere in trusting the Lord, our hope will not disappoint us.

Biblical hope is not a mere desire for something good to happen. It is a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future. Biblical hope has moral certainty in it. When the Psalms say, “Hope in God!” it does not mean, “Cross your fingers.” It means, to use the words of William Carey, “to expect great things from God.”  William Carey was the father of modern missions, who endured much suffering as a pioneer in India.  Yet, when he turned to translating Indian languages, for both the Bible and Indian literature, his hope in reaching people was realized.  But Carey was right, biblical hope does include expectation in God – his character, his goodness, and his faithfulness to his promises.  After all, God has been called the Hope of Israel and the Hope of the Nations.  The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 12:21,  shares that Jesus’ “name will be the hope of all the world.” We are given a promise in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  That hope includes restoration, healing and more.

I’ve been given prophetic promises for my healing, and yet, I’ve had a difficult summer full of skin diseases and viruses. However, in the midst of it, I’ve been encouraged with hope.  Our friend Riana leads the Sunday School at our church in Worcester.  She called to encourage me with the new Bethel song, “I raise a Hallelujah,” which is a song about a concert of prayer in the midst of a small child’s illness.  This child was at death’s door, and the worship leader felt hope and a determination rise in his heart, where he said NO to that child’s death.  That prayer was answered, and through this song of hope, many have been encouraged.  It’s already a well-loved song in many places across the world, including Avian Park.  The Bethel song video went viral on social media.  It gave people hope.  It reminded them that our God is a God of hope.  It reminded me in the midst of a painful rash of boils and carbuncles, that God was still in control, and that He would navigate me out of the suffering.  The hope was like a lasso to encircle me and pull me out of despair. In the North American west, and the Argentinean pampas, there are cowboys who help raise cattle.  Some cattle are lassoed to safety if they get out of step.  That is what God’s hope did with me. Another way of understanding this hope, is to imagine a swimming pool lifeguard throwing out a life preserver ring to a drowning person.  That ring is connected to the lifeguard by a floating rope.  There is help when you grab on to that ring, so you don’t sink in the water.

Job 5:15-16 share this hope. “He rescues the poor from the cutting words of the strong, and rescues them from the clutches of the powerful.  And so at last, the poor have hope, and the snapping jaws of the wicked are shut.  Psalm 10:17 shares, Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. “

Hope is a constant theme in the Psalms.  It’s one of the goals of restorying your situation for the better.  David often reminded himself to not continue in grief and depression, but to look up to God, to trust him and have hope in his faithfulness.

Psalm 42:11 shares David’s heart.  “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! He also asked God for his guidance and direction in Psalm 25:5. “Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.”  Also, listen to Psalm 33:20, “We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield.”  Hope points outside yourself towards the one who can help.

Currently, there is an obsession with superheroes – either the kind that arise from comics or those that arise from science fiction.  In these stories, Batman, Spiderman, the Flash, and Arrow all battle those who oppress the innocent.  In the case of my favourite science fiction show, Doctor Who, it is the same. The Doctor intervenes and saves earth and other planets from the monsters yet again.  One episode in season four of the new Who, has companion Martha speak to people all over the world about the Doctor. The people had been oppressed by evil Time Lord, the Master, who turned the earth into a slave state.  Martha was to instill hope in each person, so that they would think, and in a sense, pray for the Doctor’s intervention.

The Doctor was imprisoned in a cage for a year. But during that time, he patched himself into a world-wide satellite system that suppressed the thoughts, dreams and prayers of the entire population.  The Master had used this system to superimpose control over the people, as well as instilling fear from random killing.  Yet those satellites, under the Doctor’s control, could be reversed.  Instead, the people could think for themselves for one specific moment.  They all called out for the Doctor in their thoughts, and hoped for his intervention. Martha was captured on a false errand, and she was questioned by the Master in the Doctor’s company.  When she told him the real weapon she had to defeat the Master, he replied with contempt, “Is that your weapon, prayer?”  She said, “If everyone across right across the world, at one specific time thinks one word, one thought, one moment, but with fifteen satellites … and that word is, Doctor.”  Whovians know what happens next – the Doctor recovers, is released, and saves the day.  This episode is one of the strongest examples of the power of hope in that show.  If this hope is powerful, how much more would real hope be in a real and living God?  Psalm 65 verse 5 shares, “You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. Psalm 125:15 reminds us, “The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it.”  And so, Psalm 78:7 encourages us to pass on our hope to the next generation. “So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.”

Hope is still future-oriented, in difficult times.  So we must renew our hope, as we renew our minds. This requires active perseverance, despite moments of heartsickness, like Proverbs 13:12 which says,  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”  Psalm 143:4 shows panic in the moment by sharing, “I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear.”  These moments are real, and while we are stuck in them, they can seem long.  Psalm 119:81 shares that the waiting can make one weary, “I am worn out waiting for your rescue, but I have put my hope in your word.”

Yet, we can take comfort that hope consoles; it gives strength and renewed joy. Psalm 94:19 shares, “When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”  Psalm 146:5 reminds us that hope and joy are connected by sharing, “But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God.”   In short, the Psalms are full of hope.

The New Testament gives added depth to hope.  Now we have the element of hope in the resurrection; of God’s restoration after triumphing over evil.   Peter shared during Pentecost by quoting a prophetic promise of David.  David hoped in the Messiah.  Peter shared in Acts 2: 25-27, “King David said this about Jesus: ‘I see that the Lord is always with me.    I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.  No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope.  For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.”

David had proclaimed his hope that he would be raised from the dead, as well as hoping for the coming Messiah.   That same hope of resurrection at the ‘end of time,’ was a theme with the Apostle Paul, especially since it was a concept that the Pharisees believed in.  In Acts 26:6, Paul shares,  “Now I am on trial because of my hope in the fulfillment of God’s promise made to our ancestors.”  This same hope fulfilled was echoed when Paul says in 1 Thess. 4:13, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.”  Hope in the afterlife and restoration is the cornerstone of Christian hope.  This isn’t just about being saved from bad circumstances, but this is a complete reversal of evil in the world.

Meanwhile, we are to have hope while suffering.  No one is immune to difficulties, and suffering in different forms. Right now, persecution of Christians, and also of Jews has steadily increased.  There are more Christians who have died for their faith in the past 100 years than in all of history.  Jews are also targeted, as they have been for centuries.  It wasn’t just the Holocaust and the pogroms.

Ministries like ‘Open Doors’ and ‘Voice of the Martyrs’ share about the countries where it is dangerous to be a Christian.  I was in one of these countries; Pakistan.  I ministered with refugees from another country: the Somalis.  But there are so many more suffering people.  Has persecution stopped the growing Christian underground movement in China or Iran?  No, on the contrary, it’s only increased it.   Paul shares in Romans 5:3-5, that “ we can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials; for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

Hope also sustains, especially if you keep your mind and heart focused.   Don’t keep your eyes on your circumstances.  Paul shares a prayer in Romans 15:13.  He says, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”   He shares another prayer in Ephesians 1:18:  “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.”

It’s good that hope brings comfort, joy and sustains us.  It also brings us purpose.   As Christians, we have a purpose in our identity as sons and daughters. We are not orphans.  Paul shares in Ephesians 2:12 that in previous days, “you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.”  When people around us see that we are not fearful or in despair due to what is happening in the world around us, they ask us why we are hopeful, and how we can cope.  We’re not just coping.

The closer you get to Jesus, the more you thrive; although the journey isn’t easy.  Peter shares in 1 Peter 3:13-15 about persecution.  “ Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14  But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.  Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.”

In the midst of sharing our hope in God’s promises, we are given the same endurance as the great heroes of our faith.   Hebrews 6:10-12 share that we are given perseverance.  A strong component of hope is to stay steadfast. This is not wishful thinking, but it is powerful.  This is the type of hope a missionary feels when they are loving and pouring into the people in their lives.  God strengthens those who stay the course, as well as those who receive hope in Jesus through them.  Here’s the passage: “  For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers,[a] as you still do. 11 Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. 12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.”

So let us join with the writer of Hebrews, when he says in chapter 10:23–24: 23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

So hope has a component of strengthening us with the perseverance we need to carry on – in life, in work, in relationships, and in our faith.  Is hope a stepping stone to faith?  I believe it’s a part of it.   Earlier I mentioned that hope to me is like a life preserver as you float on a sea of hard times. It is future focused, with an assurance that we will be rescued. Faith is more like walking on the water of that same sea.  Both are a journey that grow us deeply.

The writer to the Hebrews shares in Hebrews 11 verse 1, that “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”  So hope is the springboard to faith.  Wherever there is full assurance of hope, there is faith. Faith is the full assurance of hope.  We’ll journey together more about hope in our next broadcast.   Perhaps we’ll take a visit to our own Cape of Good Hope, here in the Western Cape.

Lord, thank you that you are indeed the God of hope, the God of Israel, and the hope of the nations.  We thank you for your preserving power that gives us strength despite difficulty, and your comfort in the midst of suffering.  Lord, fill us with your hope that will reorient us in you.  Deepen our anchor, so that we won’t be shipwrecked in the middle of the storm.  Like the Bethel song, We raise a hallelujah in the middle of the storm.  Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear our praises roar.  Up from the ashes, hope will arise.  Death is defeated; the King is alive.

May all who hear my voice now have hope rise within them.  Carry them Lord, through their difficulties.  In Jesus’ name,  Amen.

If you’d like to hear an audio version of this devotional, visit the Ways to Grow in God podcast page on our Copples Western Cape mission site and scroll down to #49.  Enjoy.

Blessings and may you have a joyful Christmas!
Laurie-Ann

Growing in God: Growing in love and living water

Naro Moro waterfalls by Laurie-Ann Zachar Copple

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During our last four articles, we learned of many of the ways God guides us – through commanding scripture, compelling spirit, dreams, visions, angels, common sense, godly counsel and circumstantial signs.  I had so many stories to share; both ours and those of others.  I am sure that you have a few stories to share of your own.  I’d love to hear them via the comment box on our website, Http://www.coppleswestern cape.ca.

I was going to venture further into how to hear the voice of God, but I was interrupted by a prompting from Holy Spirit.  It’s good to listen to what he wants to say – since it’s timely in a NOW sort of way.  I am to share about growing in love.

Our Iris mama Heidi Baker is an apostle of love.  Her husband Rolland is an apostle of joy.  They often say “Love LOOKS like something.”  That love includes noticing people and stopping to listen to them.  It includes ministering to them with the love that the Holy Spirit fills you with for these moments. These moments are divine appointments, where God puts a person for Heidi, or us to bless; one by one.  Heidi gives advice on how to start ministry in the Compelling Love movie, by sharing, “It’s not complicated, just stop for the one.”    That love shared has a different flavour and package in each place, and each culture.  Love is powerful and shows through your whole being – but love in action is very specific.

Love in the Worcester township of Avian Park looks different than it does in Camp’s Bay near Cape Town.  Love in a First nations reserve in northern Ontario looks different than it would in downtown Toronto, or in Jo’burg.  Love looks different with Robertson farm kids than with seniors from Hermanus.  What are the needs around you?  Do you feel compelled towards acts of service?  That’s one love language that we’ll share about later.

Sometimes love looks like a hug and a listening ear – so the person no longer feels invisible, but rather valued, heard and seen.  Sometimes love means a sandwich, fruit and juice to a hungry South African child.  Do you notice that these ways of showing love are ACTIVE?  They require action – which means to love is not to just sit there and feel sorry for people.  That’s pity, not love.

As humans, we communicate by language – not just English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu and more.  Our words are only part of the story.  Most communication happens non-verbally – and love is expressed here very strongly.  We also speak in other ways than words and cues.  These would be called orientations, or would be best known as “love languages.”  These are personal ways that we best receive and give love.  Everyone has at least one love language, and it is easy to love others within your own way of sharing.

Some people receive more in certain areas than others.  If you’re married, find out your spouse’s love language.  It may be different than yours.  It’s definitely easier to love in your own language, but your spouse won’t really receive that love deeply.  They won’t FEEL loved. If you really want your significant other to receive your love, love them the way they can receive it.  Learn their love language.  Gary Chapman wrote an excellent book on love languages that you can read, called “The Five Love Languages.”

Here are the five love languages:  Number 1 is Words of Affirmation, which includes encouragement and the words “I love you.” Basically this is verbal encouragement. Number 2 is Acts of Service, which can include serving tea with a biscuit, fixing broken things, and so much more. Number 3 is Receiving Gifts. These could be chocolates, flowers, mementoes, box of tea or anything meaningful. It doesn’t have to be a big gift.  Homemade love notes could be part of this gift.  Number 4 is Quality Time spent together. This is an important way to receive love when you spend a lot of time ministering or serving others.  You need time with each other.  We especially need our quality time with God. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s one of Jesus’ love languages.  He needed his time with the Father, and we also need time with him, even if we don’t realize it.  When you create a space for quality time, you are creating a container that can be filled with all kinds of love.  And the 5th love language is Physical Touch.  This includes holding hands, hugs, kisses, and even just a touch on the shoulder. This form of love makes you feel grounded, IF you are not claustrophobically clingy.  I find that the children we teach in MasterPeace Academy receive love by hugs and kisses on the cheek, as well as verbal encouragement.  Unfortunately in Canadian schools, this is frowned upon, since some teachers in the past have abused their authority. How unfortunate for those who have been abused and those who desperately need a kind, loving, appropriate touch.

We shared about love languages with our My Father’s House teens, and surprisingly most of them said that one of their two love languages was quality time, although acts of service was also high on the list.

While these ways of sharing love are a blessing to both give and receive, each of us has two primary ways where we really receive and feel loved.  Mine happens to be Acts of Service, where Tony might help me proofread a devotional, give input on ministry, or bring me a cup of tea).  I also receive words of affirmation – being encouraged, as well as told that I am loved and appreciated.  Tony’s major love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch.  We hold hands all the time, and when we sit together, he has his hand on my arm, shoulder or back.  I know that while he appreciates quality time, acts of service and some gifts, he really feels satisfied when I encourage him and give him the touch he so needs.

I found a meme on Facebook that illustrated the five love languages in the form of Mexican burritos.  This is a delicious food make of meat, vegetables, cheese and spice, wrapped in a soft corn tortilla.

Words of affirmation is shared as “This is a good burrito.”  Acts of Service came across as “I made you a burrito.”  Receiving Gifts is  “Here’s a burrito.”  Quality time was shown as “Let’s go out for burritos together.” And Physical touch was sweet on hugs, when it shared, “Let me hold you and wrap my arms around you like a burrito.”  Can you imagine these languages acted out with your friends and family?  Can you bless your spouse this way?

There are also different kinds of love, since there are different relationships.  Most are shown in the Bible, such as the friendship between Jonathan and David, the loyalty between Ruth and Naomi, and especially the love of Jesus for all he encountered.  Eros is romantic love, which was named after the Greek god of love and sexual desire. Eros is also called “Cupid,” a figure often shown on Valentine’s Day cards. Phileo is brotherly love, or friendship.  The American city of Philadelphia was named as the city of brotherly love.  Storge is family love, particularly the love a parent or guardian feels for their children.  This is what Tony and I naturally feel for the children and teens that we work with. However, our love in action is steeped in far more than natural affection.  Then there are less known loves such as ludus, or playful love; pragma or long-standing love, and philautia, love of self.

The deepest love is agape, the love of God.  This is the only kind of love that is perfect.  When God pours out his love, it transforms us.  Listen to Romans 5:5 NIV: “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  His love empowers all the other loves we may feel and express. The agape love of God is active and can’t help but change our hearts for the better. He transforms us.

Since we are studying love, the best place to see it in action is in the famous ‘love chapter’:  1 Corinthians 13.  This chapter is in between the stern warnings, pleadings and teachings of discipline in the midst of using spiritual gifts – in a loving, and unselfish way.  Spiritual gifts are actually not for the benefit of ourselves, but of others both in the church and outside of it.  Everything in our lives needs to be done in the CONTEXT of love.   Love is personal, and it is relational.  Most aspects of our lives are relational, whether in a work and business environment, family, friends, church, ministry and people we meet who have similar interests.

Close your eyes if it is safe to do so, as you listen to my voice.     Then imagine yourself by substituting your name in the place of where Paul says love.  You’ll see what I mean shortly.

Here’s 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.  This sets up the stage for the chapter. “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.  If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”

This shows love as the motivating force behind all we do.  If perfect love is our motive, we do not fail.   The next verses are where you personalize the scripture.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.”  Laurie-Ann is patient and kind.  Laurie-Ann is not jealous, boastful, proud or rude.

“Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and love keeps no record of being wronged.” Laurie-Ann does not demand her own way.  Laurie-Ann is not irritable, and she keeps no record of being wronged.

“Love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.”  Laurie-Ann does not rejoice about injustice but she rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”  Laurie-Ann never gives up, never loses faith, she is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Wow.  I feel convicted.  Can you do this?  Can I do this?  NO, not even close.  We can only express love that way when God’s love fills us completely.  This is not just a once and a while filling of love.  We need this love all the time, like living water flowing out of us.  This means we need continually to drink of it and be in God’s presence as much as we can.

Here’s the rest of the chapter, which puts love as the foundation for everything in our lives:  Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!  But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.  Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.  Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

I’m so thankful that the apostle Paul wrote these words of wisdom.  We can’t survive without love, and we were meant to live in love.  Please take these words to heart and think about how you receive love best in your love language.  Also learn the way that those around you best receive love.

But first, go receive the love of God for yourself.  He loves you so.  We are dry, thirsty vessels without the living water of love within us.  That living water is the Holy Spirit.  That is the same love that the Apostle Paul says is poured out in our hearts.  In John 7:38, Jesus himself shouted to the crowds during a Jewish festival. He said, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.”   Jesus gives us this invitation too.

Lord, thank you for your invitation to receive living water from you.  I say “Yes, please fill me.  We are so thirsty, Lord.”  I ask that you will soak the hearts of those listening, so that they receive your love – as much as they think they can receive, and yet more.  Show us your love in the ways we need it most.  Your love goes beyond the five love languages, but you also express yourself in those ways through your people.  Help us to express your love to those around us.  We can only do this with your love, Lord.  Thank you for your love for us, the love that goes on and on. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

If you enjoyed this message, and would like to hear an audio version, visit the Ways to Grow in God podcast page at coppleswesterncape.ca (WTIGIG podcast page)   then scroll down to #48. May this bless you.

If you are able and willing, and would like to contribute to L-A’s life-saving chemotherapy treatments (that she is receiving in Cape Town, South Africa), please visit the medical campaign page, on how you can give by Paypal or other methods.  Thank you and may God deeply bless you.

Laurie-Ann Copple

Growing in God: How to receive honour (Honour pt. 3)

This picture is more about dishonour, but we need to know what blocks us receiving honour before we can receive it. So we do not wish shame on you, but rather than you receive honour when it is due.  Please read and be blessed.

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

Two articles ago, we learned of the importance of developing a culture of honour.  This means intentionally choosing to honour God, leaders, widows, the vulnerable and everyone we are connected with.  In earlier teachings we learned about encouragement and blessing – honour is a big part of that.  It’s in choosing to see the potential – the hidden gold inside a person and drawing it out of them.  Relationships grow stronger and full of healing when honour is involved.  When we honour and really listen to people, it opens up a relationship to blossom. When we do this with God, it’s incredibly special.   Imagine what would happen if we honour and really listen to our spouse!  No more nagging.  No more need to shut out nagging with half-closed ears. Honour validates.  Dishonour… well, it basically feels like a curse.  That is especially the case with the commandment of honouring your parents.  If you don’t, your life won’t be blessed, or even long-lived.

Then in our last article, we learned how to give honour – to God through an everyday lifestyle of worship, offerings, keeping truth, integrity, obedience and finding different ways of honouring others.  Some receive through gifts, others by celebrations, preferring them and being there for them. There are so many ways.  But first, we need to look at what blocks us from receiving honour.  If we don’t realize it, we can become our own worst enemy.

Seven Blocks to us receiving honour:

One: Offense is a major road block on the highway of honour.  I mentioned during the last broadcast about a personal experience with a former friend.  This lady was a Japanese pastor, and she was deeply offended by my momentary lapse of forgetting to take off my shoes in her home. She never forgave me, despite my quick repentance.  She showed me dishonour by cutting off the friendship, and from there on, there was no honour coming from her.  Her offense became a wall between us, and while it hurt me, I know it hurt her as well. Offense can be obvious, or hidden in your heart.  Either way, it causes deep rejection in relationships that can that can go much further than that initial relationship.

Two:  Comparison causes judgement against either yourself or the person you envy.  Pastor Shawn Gabie often says that “comparison is a calling killer.”  If you are objectifying someone, you aren’t honouring or being positive.

Three: Pride is another honour blockage, as is curses for obvious reasons.

Four:  False humility brings resistance in your heart to receive honour, due to brokenness. If you feel unworthy of honour, you are forgetting your instrinsic value that God created you, and if you’ve come to faith, he’s also redeemed you.   That care cost Jesus his life.   Rob Packer says in his excellent book, The Life Giving Power of Honour that “disagreement of what God says about you is arrogance, not humility.”  You actually need to honour yourself, because   “if you dishonour yourself, it shuts you off from receiving.  Acknowledge your gifts, don’t shut them down. They are to be celebrated as a gift that gives glory to God.”

Five:  Lack of gratitude shuts the door to receiving honour. Entitlement shuts down the relationship and stops the flow of honour and love.   Shame also sets up a dark barrier to honour, since it’s the opposite to honour.  However, receiving honour from the Holy Spirit is exactly what the shamed really need.  God is indeed the lifter of our heads.  When we look up into the loving eyes of Jesus,  we can see that he is not the one shaming us.  He paid for our sin, and also heals our broken hearts.

SixRebellion – whether in society, family or the church.  Patricia King says that  if you are joining a church that is new to you, it is important that you honor the leader, whether you agree with them or not. If you do not agree with them in general and do not respect them, then she suggests asking the Lord to do a work within your heart or find another congregation.   David never rebelled against King Saul, even when the king was trying to hurt him. There was always honor. David understood this, which was one of the reasons why God honoured him.

Seven: Over-independence:  Many Americans are very focused on rugged independence.  While it’s good to realize each life matters, it’s counter-productive to be independent to a fault. No one is an island. We grow in relationships, and if you’re alone, it cuts off all doors to honour.  Danny Silk says that “Honour has fallen on hard times in our culture.  Independence is worshipped. We focus on our private relationships with God and have a hard time recognizing spiritual authority, and considering others as more important than ourselves. The result is that we are cut off from the flow of heaven…” (of what God wants to bless us with…)”

Now let’s discover some ways and means that we CAN receive honour.  This is not an exhaustive list, but it comes down to this fact: By honouring others, we intentionally sow honour.

Number one:  We honour God.  It says in 1 Samuel 2:30 that those who honour (God), (He) will honour.  That one sounds simple, but there are so many aspects to this.  If you’re just reading to this one segment of Ways to Grow in God, you need to go back and read the others on this site.  You’ll hear about a lot of ways you can honour God.

Number Two: We need to know who we are: Danny Silk says that “honour empowers people. They realize they carry something no one else carries. We need to develop and release those gifts into the church and world as their part of bringing heaven to earth.”  If you’ve come to faith in Jesus Christ, then you are a child of God.  There is nothing higher than that.  Anything else you do is great, but it’s not who you are.   You have a very high value, much more than you think.

Number Three: We need to be humble. Philippians 2: 5–11 was a scripture passage that Tony and I had declared at our wedding.  It’s one of my favourite scriptures. I’ve shared this passage before. Not only is it about humility, which is a powerful example, but it’s about the honour that Jesus will receive at the end of days.  Every knee will bow before him.  Yet he was also humble.

Listen to the Apostle Paul’s words:  You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God,[a]     he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.   Instead, he gave up his divine privileges[b]; he took the humble position of a slave[c]  and was born as a human being.  When he appeared in human form,[d]   he humbled himself in obedience to God  and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honour and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,  in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  11 and every  tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Kris Valotton says that “honour is humility in action.”  As you can see, there are no control issues there, no manipulation.  There are other scriptures that talk about humility, such as Proverbs 18:12: Before destruction, the heart of man is haughty. But humility goes before honour.  Proverbs 22:4  says that the reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honour and life.  Proverbs 29:23 says that a man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honour.

Patricia King is well known for her teaching on honour.  She also is a lady of humility and grace. She says that she loves “living at the foot of the cross. At the foot of the cross, there are no entitlement issues. You’re just at the foot of the cross, looking at everything that Jesus laid down for you. Everything that Jesus did to give you life. And what he did was that he died.  What he did was he became your sin in exchange for giving you his righteousness.  And when you look at what he did, there is no entitlement there. […] He just humbled himself. He didn’t need to, he was God. He humbled himself and gave forgiveness. He gave himself. He gave it all to us that we would live.  And because he humbled himself more than anyone has ever, his name is exalted above every name in the whole universe.

“Because to the degree that you will humble yourself, that is the degree of honour that you will be given. You don’t go after the honour. You go after humility and honour will come.  You serve people and honour will come. You love people, and honour will come. You don’t demand honour. God can demand honour.  You cannot demand honour. All we really deserve outside Jesus Christ is eternal hell. But because of his love for us, he has exalted us in him. There is so much entitlement out there. It’s based on this prideful attitude, “I should have this, I should have it now, this money, this position, this treatment, because I after all, I am…”   NO, you are not I AM. There is only one I AM.”

Patricia goes further on the entitlement that gets in the way. She says that “there is no entitlement, no matter your leadership role.  Honour has to come as a gift from a person towards you. You don’t demand honour.  Honour has nothing to do with entitlement issues. And sometimes we have so much entitlement.  I share with those I mentor that when you go out to serve people, you don’t put demands on them. You don’t say ‘you have to give me this first class ticket, you have to give me a five star hotel, this much honorarium, etc.  I always say, you go out as a servant. If you go to honour the people that you’re going to serve, honour will come back to you. Even if it doesn’t come back through those people, it will come back through some other way. But you don’t demand it; please don’t have entitlement issues concerning this.

Remember this- if you’re given honour, receive it. This will give you something to give back to God. At the end of the day, we’re going to take all our crowns and pour them out at his feet. All the honour goes to him. It’s not, oh well, I’ll give 80 percent to God and keep 20.  No, he’s the one who gets the honour, because he’s the one who gives the honour to begin with.  So you don’t let the honour that people are giving you – which is a beautiful gift, an undeserved gift – create pride.  When they give it to you, you know that it belongs to God. Don’t let it birth pride in you.”

Number Four:  Be full of grace.  Proverbs 11:16 says that a gracious person obtains honour.   It’s not that a gracious person rejects honour, it’s just that they give the praise to God.  Luke 14:8-11 says that, “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  When you have the mindset of a servant, a servant will never sit in a place of honour on their own.  A servant’s role is to bless others. This means they take the back seat. This scripture says, if you will take that low place, honour will come to you.   Even if you don’t get invited up you might be initially disappointed, because you didn’t get honoured in the way that you wanted. Patricia King shared with a friend that went through this disappointment.   She said, she tried “to share with them that if you relinquish your right to be honoured, you won’t be hurt anymore.” Honour eventually comes to those who humble themselves.     But it’s not just people’s honour. It’s the honour of God. And this is in the eternal realm, when we stand before him and he will honour us.  Some of the people who will be honoured are those not noticed by others.  They were hidden in difficult places and circumstances.  But God notices.   Patricia shares that she remembers when prophet Jill Austin died. I remember too.  She prophesied over me two years before she died, in a way that greatly impacted me.  We’ve posted the video on our Dreams page on our coppleswesterncape dot ca website if you’d like to see it.   So the night that Jill died, Patricia sensed the exact moment Jill went to heaven.  Patricia saw her being received into heaven with so much celebration. She says she began to weep, and said, Lord, why did we not honour her here in earth, like she’s being honoured in heaven.  Patricia said that Jill “was not honoured in the earth. In many ways, she was mistreated.   I was just weeping, and I said, “oh God, if only we could have honoured her like that.”  But she never demanded honour in her life from people, she never demanded it.  But in the glory realm there it was, and that’s where it all counts.  If you spend all your honour on the earth, maybe your bank account will be empty in heaven. But if you live your life in humility and servanthood, it will release a bank account, full of honour and glory for you.  And that is worth living for.”

Number Five: Stay away from strife!  This is a hard one in townships like Avian Park, but this isn’t just about rivalry between gangs. It’s also about strife between any people, including family. Proverbs 20:3 gives us good general advice, when it says,  that “keeping away from strife is an honour, but any fool will quarrel.” Honour and conflict are opposites. Danny Silk shares in his book Developing a Culture of Honour that “honour is one of the most vital core values creating a safe place where people can be free.  Honour protects the value that people have for those who are different than they are.”

Number Six:  Pursue Righteousness and loyalty. If you practice these, honour will return to you.  Proverbs 21:21 says that “whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honour.”

Number Seven:  Doing good, making right choices and integrity also opens the gates of honour.  The Apostle Paul shared about this in Romans 2:7-10. “He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honour and immortality that God offers.  But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.  There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. But there will be glory and honour and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile.”

Number Eight:  Generosity! Proverbs 22:9 shares that “Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor.”  I can share that Patricia King, who I’ve often shared about has blessed me personally with her generosity. Over the years, she has ministered into my own life either prophetically or in her teaching. I spoke to her in a smaller media conference held in Phoenix back in 2007.  I told her about my then coming mission to Pakistan that would minister to the persecuted church in Pakistan.  She gave me a lot of her own materials to share with the children and adults there.  I trust they are still blessing those she sowed into through me.   Patricia’s big heart and generous nature brings honour back to her not only through my own story, but also the way she sows into other Iris ministry.

Number Nine:  This topic is related to generosity:  that is Sowing. Sowing in this context is specific giving.  When people sow into our ministry through Iris Ministries Canada, that is specific sowing.  Another time a former connect group leader, John, decided to sow into Tony and me last Christmas.  At the time, Tony was ministering to a young Avian Park woman who’s baby died.  John was able to sow not only into us, but into this community.  Proverbs 11:25 says “the generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”   This is a wonderful depiction of receiving just what we need, since we haven’t forgotten others in their need. If you’re honouring others, you’re going to be honoured. What you sow is what you reap.

Number Ten:  Loving Well. The Living Bible version shares this aspect well in 1 Corinthians 14:1. Listen to these words, “Let love be your highest goalPeople who love well are honoured. It’s easy to honour someone who loves so well, you want to honour them. They’re giving themselves to you so that you can be more blessed than you were before. Honour grows when you are loving on and thinking of others without the need to control them.  Kris Valloton says that “honour is the cornerstone of an empowering culture that eliminates the need for control.”  And honour indeed is not about control. It’s a relational blessing both ways.

And so we’ve gone on quite a journey during three articles. We’ve learned about the culture of honour, how to honour, what blocks honour.  While it won’t work for us to intentionally seek honour, this is something that comes through relationship.  Honour is relational with God and others.  You can’t just be on the receiving end.  But when honour does come your way, give thanks.  And then give the honour back to God – it’s all like the flow of a river.  Keep it flowing, and you’ll keep the blessing coming.  I bless you to go out and practice what you’ve learned about honour.  You won’t be sorry you did.

Lord, I ask that you reveal to our hearts ways that we can learn more about honour.  Show us the value you’ve placed on us, and that you want us in this river of love.  You want to crown us as your sons and daughters.  Grow us inside to be strong and confident in you.  Convict and cleanse us from dishonour that we’ve received and given to others.  May we shine for you. We give you all the honour.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you’d like to hear the audio version of this teaching, please visit our website coppleswesterncape.ca for the WTGIG podcast.  Then scroll down to #38.  You may also find other teachings there, free of charge.

PS for any of you who pray I was diagnosed with stage 3B inflammatory breast cancer here in South Africa.  We need to go back to Canada in April after the chemotherapy treatments are done to have surgery and more.  Please keep us in prayer for healing and finances. We are crowdfunding, since insurance won’t cover us, and we are already missionaries living by faith.  If you have been blessed by my ministry, please consider sowing into the medical costs if you are able.

Our medical campaign page is here for financial contribution info, medical story and prayer pointsCopple medical page.

 

 

Growing in God: How give and receive honour (Honour pt 2)

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During our last article, we learned it’s important to develop a culture of honour.  This means intentionally choosing to honour God, leaders, widows, the vulnerable and everyone we meet.  In earlier teachings we learned about encouragement and blessing. Honour is a BIG part of that.  Honour is choosing to see the potential, the intrinsic value or the hidden gold inside a person. You draw it out of them.  Relationships grow stronger and full of healing when honour is involved.  When we honour and listen to people, it grows your relationship. When we do this with God, it’s very special.   Imagine what would happen if we honour and really listen to our spouse!  No more nagging.  No more need to shut out nagging with half-closed ears. Honour validates.  Dishonour… well, it basically feels like a curse.  That is especially the case with the commandment of honouring your parents.  If you don’t, your life won’t be blessed, or even long-lived.

Tony and I work with children and teens in the townships, as well as some farm children in an area between Worcester and Robertson. Many of these kids don’t understand about honour, and authority.  Some of their parents do, since we’ve often been addressed as tannie and oom.  Our team has been loving on these kids for a year now.  It’s a slow process, since we only see them once a week.  Respect is important and we are earning their respect with being constant.

Yet we also battle a different culture.  How does the Cape Coloured community express honour?  Or the Xhosa?  Or even the Afrikaaners?  We are learning.  Sometimes we have to set aside our Canadian and British sense of honour.  Thankfully there are commonalities.     The language of divine honour is still to hold great value in the people you are with.  Honour actually sustains the human spirit.

We have young teen girls who we have been training to lead Bible studies in Avian Park private homes.  These girls need to honour their hosts, since these venues are opened up for their ministry.  The girls also need to honour the children who are with them.  They would be like big sisters to the children who come to hear stories that will impact their lives.   They need to be consistent in loving them and being there for the younger children.

Years ago, I remember an American prophet who ministered in a Toronto church where I was a parishioner.  His name was Marc Dupont.  He said that just as the medium is the message (a phrase championed by Canadian Marshall McLuhan), so the prophet is the prophecy.  What Marc meant was that whatever you are proclaiming must be shown in your own life.  If you are passionate about spreading the Father God heart of love, then that love must show in your life to others.  If you are to speak about honour, you must model and show honour in your own life. So these girls must show the love of God as big sisters to these kids.  They must also honour the hosts of the house venues where they are ministering.  This is a learning process, and we find that discipling these girls a joy in many ways, yet they need to learn how to honour us as well.    It may take time.  So, we know about establishing a culture of honour. When we honour, it blesses those we honour, but it also blesses us!  This is especially the case of honouring parents, but it also works in honouring everyone.

On the world political scene, the deliberate use of lies and ‘fake news’ to gain political advantage is the very opposite of honouring those who may be standing in the way of a particular objective.  It breaks the rules of classic diplomacy, and it will always in the end worsen the situation.  The attitudes of some leaders have been influenced by the tactics of  thousands of social media users and people attempting to hoodwink as many as possible with urban legends and conspiracy theories.  The whole concept of honour and the value of truth are unknown by such people.

How do we honour?  We start with God.  So how do we honour God?   We honour God with our sincere worship. John records the angels singing in Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honour and power.  For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.”   We want to worship God in more ways than songs.   It needs to be a lifestyle where we put him first, and honour him above everything else.  We need to pour out what we do every day to God.  I do that in my art, writing and working with children.  I’m still learning to do that in other ways.  God is interested in all we do – not just the things we do in public.  He’s worth it because he is worthy.

We honour God with our tithes and offerings. Proverbs 3:9 asks us to “Honour the Lordwith your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.”  In the law it was about giving him a tenth, and God would multiply the remaining nine tenths. A tithe is a tenth, and the offerings may be above that, for different reasons.  But whether it’s the first ten percent or an offering, it should be the best we have, not what we’re trying to get rid of.  Why give him garbage when he gave us his best?  The prophet Malachi catches some of this dialogue in Malachi 1: 6-8.  Listen to it in the Message version:

“Isn’t it true that a son honors his father and a worker his master? So if I’m your Father, where’s the honor? If I’m your Master, where’s the respect?” God-of-the-Angel-Armies is calling you on the carpet: “You priests despise me!  “You say, ‘Not so! How do we despise you?’  “By your shoddy, sloppy, defiling worship.  “You ask, ‘What do you mean, “defiling”? What’s defiling about it?’  7-8 “When you say, ‘The altar of God is not important anymore; worship of God is no longer a priority,’ that’s defiling. And when you offer worthless animals for sacrifices in worship, animals that you’re trying to get rid of—blind and sick and crippled animals—isn’t that defiling? Try a trick like that with your banker or your senator—how far do you think it will get you?” God-of-the-Angel-Armies asks you.

Sometimes we defile others when we give hand-me-downs that aren’t in good condition.  Many people in Canada give their garbage clothes away when they are rags.  There’s a reason why certain charities ask for gently used items.  I remember when I came to Kenya for the first time.  I noticed a stall of used clothes in Nairobi and I was interested.  My co-worker Jeff told me, “those clothes came from North America.”  It’s true – so many of our cast-off items do end up in Africa.  Think of how much longer these clothes would last if they were in better condition.  Some are polluted offerings.  And think, how many times we just give our leftover change to God? It’s not like He’s a parking attendant on the street.

We honour God by keeping the truth and speaking it in love. The enemy has always attacked truth, but now, it is more obvious. Currently, truth is twisted about sexual orientation with much confusion over gender identity.  That’s only one area that’s being re-written in many cultures.  There’s also the fight to proclaim life on both ends of the spectrum: conception and natural death.  We have abortion on demand as if it’s birth control.  We have euthanasia for the expendable of any age.  What happened to loving LIFE?  Instead we have a culture of death.  This is a deception to keep us from the word of God.  It’s not honouring.

The Prophet Isaiah warned us in Isaiah 5:20: “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil; that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.”  Talk about confusing!   Malachi 2: 1-8 also talks about God’s priests teaching lies to seekers, and the dishonour that comes when that happens.  Patricia King says that when you step into honour, you step into blessing. When you step into dishonour, you step into a curse.  These scriptures are a call for the priesthood to speak righteousness that will align people with blessings and honour.  We need to keep God’s word as part of honouring him, especially in a way that reflects God’s heart.

We honour God through obedience. This is obedience to God, but it can also affect how we honour our leaders. The writer of the book of Hebrews advises in Hebrews 13:17 to “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.”  Say you’re in a church and the pastor goes into things that are definitely off.  Patricia King has advice on how to handle that.  She says, “If you leave a church due to not feeling comfortable with your decisions, just leave.  Don’t make a fuss. That’s not disobedience. Not making a fuss is actually honouring them. If you do make a fuss, you are cursing your life. It  brings contention, strife and division to that church.

Let’s say that you are in a church and the pastor starts preaching that leaving newborn babies in garbage dumps is fine.  And you’re sitting there, thinking, ‘oh my gosh, that is so not fine.”  In fact, the early church rescued unwanted babies all the time in a stand for life.  So you go and talk with the pastor with respect. You say “pastor, the word says this…  Can you explain to me where you’re getting this from?”  He explains, and you say, “I am so sorry, I love you. But I cannot agree with that. I am not in agreement with it and I cannot support it.  I’m going to be leaving this church. I’m going to be praying for you. I’m not going to be speaking evil against you, but I need to speak the truth in love.”  So you leave, but you do it in honour, not dishonour. God’s going to look after that.  We need to honour God’s truth but in a way that isn’t dishonouring either.

Here’s another example. Say your employer wants you to do something that’s wrong. Nicky Gumbel tells a story on Alpha about Gimbo, a man who refused to lie on the phone for his employer, Harrods. He was asked to tell the caller that his boss was out and Gimbo refused.  When the boss got off the phone, he was angry; but Gimbo replied, “If I can lie for you, I can lie TO you.  And I won’t ever do that.”  From then on, Gimbo became the most trusted employee in that company.  Gimbo honoured his boss.

And now to honour others.  How do we honour them?  Here’s some things that will help you.  Look for the good in each other.  Celebrate each other.  I remember helping people in a divorce recovery workshop back in the 90’s.  Holy Spirit impressed on my heart that these hurting people needed not only to forgive, but they needed to honour their former spouses.  As well as any potential new spouses!  When Tony and I married, we included mutual encouragement in our vows.  We could have included honour as well.  But the core is to look for the good in each other and celebrate that.  Don’t speak bad about them to other people, although sometimes you may have to acknowledge issues to work through in private.

And then there are the people that seem to rub you the wrong way.  It may just be a cultural difference or a personality quirk.  So don’t look at that one thing that drives you crazy.  Look for things that you can honour.  Look for things you can celebrate. You can always find SOMETHING to celebrate in that person.  Look at their intrinsic value – what they have inside.

One way to honour is to celebrate birthdays.  In our Worcester church, they post the names of all the people who have a birthday that week. A leader then shares a word of encouragement to the birthday people.  I celebrated a birthday during Harvest School in northern Mozambique, and I was showered all day with love, songs, cake and more. I think it was my favourite birthday.   Those were acts of honour.  Then there’s mother’s day and father’s day. You come to church and they honour parents on their day.  I’ve received flowers and chocolate and Tony’s received fishing birdies, chocolate and biltong. Those days are an opportunity to honour each other.  It’s one thing I like about Facebook – it reminds you of your friend’s birthdays!  It’s easy to honour on a birthday. Could we choose to honour on the other days of the year?

Last week we talked about honouring our parents. You can also honour your children. If you are a parent, aunt, uncle or children’s worker, you can speak life into these kids. Recognize the unique way that God has created them to be. Allow them to be who they are.  Don’t compare them with their siblings.  Listen to their ideas and tell them that you’re proud of them. Tony and I honour our girls by encouraging them to say what they love about each other.  This is becoming a regular exercise.  They are beginning to respond, and last week, Bella decided that she would say what she loved about us.  The previous week, the girls told me that they loved the way I loved them.  Bella told me that the first time I welcomed her to our home, she felt loved and all warm inside.  She’s come to think of me as a second mother and she told me she loved me.  Then she turned to Tony. She told him that she loved him also, and said that he was kind, full of respect for people and that he is there for them.   Wow, we really felt honoured by Bella, who has such a gift of encouragement and teaching.

We can honour each other by preferring them over ourselves.  One way to do this is to be generous.  There are so many ways to do that.  Sometimes gifts are helpful, other moments need acts of service.

We can honour each other by speaking well of them in public as well as private.  This includes when the person is not even there – it’s not done for effect to impress that person.  But even then, some people can honour publicly but dishonour them in private. Patricia King says that “sometimes we’ll say something nice about a person because it’s right to do. But then we’ll go talk to someone else in negativity about them, and that’s dishonouring.  That cancels out your honour. You want to have honour on every side.”

We can honour someone by giving them a special personal gift, like the Queen of Sheba did to Solomon. Don’t you feel honoured when someone gives you a gift? It’s like wow, they were thinking of me!   This is what I tried to do when I drew some of our kids club children in a drawing with Jesus.  One of the girls was amazed and said with wonder, “Wow, you thought of me??  Jesus was also thinking of me?”  That reaction made it all worthwhile.  She received the love and felt honoured.

We can honour by caring for others – especially widows and the vulnerable.  Sometimes they need a little offering to them to give them hope and a sense of value.  It’s beautiful.

Honour is also something that can be culturally sensitive.  It requires awareness and a gentleness to go carefully when you approach someone.  Honour is something that is easier if we deal with the junk in our hearts.  The junk includes unforgiveness, pride and conflict.  If these things are not dealt with in our lives, they can lead to the very opposite of honour.  They will further fragment broken relationships, cause wounded hearts, inequality, pain and fear.

Forgiveness is something that arose again and again in Rob Packer’s book The Life-Giving Power of Honour, as well as Danny Silk’s book Developing a Culture of Honour.  Forgiveness is powerful. I’ve watched healing happen through the lives of those forgiving and the forgiven.   Anglican pastor Dale Lang publicly forgave the school shooter who killed his son back in 1999.  Dale ministers to other families who have endured similar suffering and he brings forgiveness and love into the equation.  He’s able to honour them, since he knows the pain, and he also knows that bitterness and unforgiveness is a trap.

It’s too easy to not forgive if you feel you have been dishonoured.  This can happen with friends and family who may have become too familiar with you. They may not even recognize they are dishonouring you. Proverbs 18:19 says that “it is harder to make amends with an offended friend than to capture a fortified city.”  I know this truth personally.

Years back, I made a cultural error with a female Japanese pastor I was friends with at the time. When you are in a Japanese home, you must take your shoes off as a sign of respect and honour.  I always did this, except for one time, where I just wasn’t thinking.  I brought over another friend to introduce to this lady, and I was focused on my other friend, rather than my hostess.  I forgot to take off my shoes.  She became extremely upset with me, shooed me out, and never spoke to me again.  While I apologized deeply and sincerely for my momentary lapse, this was not enough.  I grieved the loss of the friendship, and I never forgot this lesson on honour.  When Tony and I took a tour of our South African rental home, the then-current tenants were from South Korea.  They also showed honour by taking off their shoes, but they offered honour to us by offering little sockettes to cover our feet.  So we complied and smiled at them.

So when you honour, remember that honour grows nobility in people.   Honour is humility in action. It’s the very opposite of pride that isolates you into a prison of self.  Kris Valloton says that “for a Christian, honour is a condition of the heart, not just the product of a good environment.”

Today we’ve journeyed on how to honour others.  There’s so much to learn, but along the path, I’ve hinted at times on how we receive honour.  Since honour is relational, it usually is returned back.  On our next broadcast we’ll discover more about how to receive or obtain honour.   Because we are God’s creations, we have special value inside. And when we come to faith, we have Christ in us, the hope of glory.  Look for the gold in each other and choose to honour.

Lord, I ask you to help us learn to honour others.  Help us to honour you and to learn the importance of honour. Open our eyes to see the beauty in others, whether they are family, friends, or complete strangers.  May we be instruments in healing where dishonour has wounded souls, as you are healing us.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

If you would like to hear an audio version of this article, please follow this link to CopplesWesternCape.ca and scroll down to #37

Blessings and love, Laurie-Ann

PS for any of you who pray – I was diagnosed with stage 3B inflammatory breast cancer here in South Africa.  We will need to go back to Canada after the chemotherapy treatments are done, to continue treatment in Ottawa.  Please keep us in prayer for healing and finances.  We are crowdfunding, since insurance won’t cover this, and we are already missionaries living by faith.

Our medical campaign page is here for financial contribution info, medical story info and prayer points: Copple Medical page.

 

Growing in God through Honour: Part 1 Developing a culture of honour

Image is from Bethel Church, Ottawa, Ontario.

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During our last article, we journeyed through growing in God in the midst of windstorms.  There is evil in the world, and sometimes that really feels like a damaging firestorm that brings pain, loss, and more.  Jesus warned us that the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy.  But he gives abundant life.  He is our windbreaker to combat evil through the armour of God.  The Holy Spirit is also like a true Cape Doctor, in bringing healing, hope, comfort, truth and refining. Allow yourself to set your face on God, and he’ll bring that sweet wind to lift you up and give you strength for your journey. If the Holy Spirit is the holy wind, we are the sail.

Grace is something that is very prevalent in our faith as we choose to trust God and follow where he leads us.  God is faithful and shows this in many ways. We can even see this faithfulness reflected in others.  Sometimes God’s characteristics like love and faithfulness can be understood as a language that people can understand without words. A wonderful way to see God’s language reflected in you is through developing a culture of honour.  The military have a sense of honour that manifests as a code of conduct. It shows as valour, chivalry, honesty and compassion.  These are good traits.  Honour sometimes is understood how one may look in the eyes of other people – in a positive way, people can see the goodness and compassion inside a person and call them “honourable.”  In a negative way, this may be a mask hiding what really is inside, or perhaps honour could be construed as “face.”  Face is very important in Chinese cultures, as honour of purity is important in Middle Eastern culture.  But true honour is even deeper than that.

Honour is relational.  In the West, it’s not popular to speak well of people until after they die.  You could work for years in a company or NGO and find that many people don’t bother saying nice things about you.  It’s simply assumed that you know that you are well liked.  Yet if you make a mistake, complaints are issued quickly.  We certainly find this attitude online on Facebook and Twitter.  However, when someone dies, people like to share wonderful stories about how you touched their lives in a positive way.  Eulogies and telling stories of people who have blessed you is a good thing!  However, you need not wait until a person dies to say good things about them.  These people really need to hear this when it really matters to them!  The first time I learned about honour as an expression of blessing, was through two Canadians in ministry: Patricia King, and Faytene Grassechi.

Faytene has a heart for change through social justice, prayer and encouragement.  One of the ministries that she developed visits and prays for different people in the Canadian government.  They include young leaders who honour and serving these Canadian politicians. They basically represent the voice of Christian youth to Canadian parliament.  They don’t put down the leaders. But rather, they encourage them for what they are doing well.  They honour them and listen to them.  These leaders are blessed by the encouragement. They feel that they have been honoured, not criticized.  Faytene was encouraged to have honour as an important component to her ministry, as taught by her mentor Patricia King, who is also Canadian.  I was a supporter of Patricia for over ten years, while I was able.  Patricia is a generous, kind and honour-bearing person. She never speaks badly of any who speak badly of her. She chooses to bless her opponents and to honour them.  This goes beyond forgiveness. It’s a lifestyle of choosing to bless and note all the good things her opponent is doing.

Patricia notes that to honour is to hold someone is respect or esteem.  She says that it’s “interesting that the word Hebrew word “kabod,”or glory, means ‘weight.’  This word is often used in scripture to give honour.  It is an interchangeable word for honour, although it also shows splendour, glory and dignity.  It’s really interesting that honour is so tied in with the glory of God and the weight of his presence.  God loves honour and he hates dishonour.”  Patricia has seen over the years, that when there is an individual of honour, (who exercises honour intentionally), doors fly open for them. Promotion comes from the Lord to them, and blessing comes on their lives.  Patricia has also seen the exact opposite when a person is given to dishonour.   When there is dishonour in their lives, they dishonour leaders, and they dishonour their parents, the exact opposite happens. It’s like a curse comes over their lives.  The doors are closed.  She has even seen people with tremendous anointing and ministry callings; but because they are people of such dishonour, their spiritual gifts NEVER break open. They never get established, yet they’ve got so many gifts to release out to people.  One of the biggest secrets to advancement is to honour others.  It’s tied in with humility.  Tony Morgan notes that “if you want to receive honour, you have to give honour.  If you want to experience honour, you have to embrace humility.”

So honour promotes and dishonour demotes. Honour blesses and dishonour curses. Honour builds strong relationships, dishonour destroys relationships.  Honour is pleasant, dishonour is unpleasant.

Rob Packer teaches about honour in his excellent book, The Life Giving Power of Honour.  He says that “Honour is the recognition of a person’s value and the expression appropriate to that value.”  When you are honoured and recognized for who you are, you are valued.  You are also released to BE who you are.  When you honour others, you release them to be who they are to you.  They feel safe to be who they are. Dishonour is just the opposite.  It shuts down the relationship between you and the other person.  You can’t receive what they have to give you, since they aren’t allowed to do so.  It was the same when Jesus wasn’t given honour in his hometown.  He wasn’t allowed to love on his town and people, except in a very limited way.  No wonder he couldn’t do any more than a few healings in Nazareth!

Tony and I are involved with the Iris Global movement as Iris Ministries Canada missionaries. This movement’s slogan says, “love looks like something.” And so it does.  Love is active. Love and honour easily work together; in fact, if you love someone, there must be honour involved.  Our Mama Heidi was shown the importance of honour when she had a problem.  She prayed over bush outreach struggles that were happening in northern Mozambique.  There was resistance. People threw stones, and Heidi was tired of it.  She knew something was missing, so she asked God what it wasThen the Holy Spirit revealed to her that she needed to meet the village leaders, and to honour them. She was instructed to do something different. Before this, she ignored the leaders, and set up competing movies and evangelism that were louder than their own meetings.  Now, she was directed to meet these leaders. She needed to get to know them and to honour them.

She brought the international Harvest School students who were with her, and asked them to bow before the leaders, and introduce themselves to each leader.  The leaders were now in a relationship with Heidi. They felt ready to welcome and invite the students to their villages. Gifts were given to the leaders. Concerns were genuinely addressed.  Since that time, all Harvest School students go into the bush with Heidi or other senior leaders. This is a special time of publicly honouring the village leaders.  The blessing goes both ways. It really does.

Tony and I experienced this honour ceremony in Linde, Mozambique.  We shook hands with the leaders. They were genuinely happy to see us. We experienced a welcome that was truly heart-felt.  Honour truly IS the language of the God’s kingdom. It opens doors.  It blesses hearts.   The Bible has much to say about honour.  Let’s start the honour countdown with eight examples of honour!

Number one: It all starts with honouring God.  Rev. 5:12   gives us a picture of honour in heaven, when all there sing in a mighty chorus:  “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered— to receive power and riches, and wisdom and strength, and honor and glory and blessing.”  Patricia King reminds us that “God is to be honoured, and not just on Sunday mornings! And not just in our songs, but in everything that we do.” This means that we would give him honour in and through our lives.

Number twoHonour your parents.  Exodus 20 says to honour your father and mother.  It’s the first commandment with a promise.  When you honour your folks, “you will live a long and full life in the land.”  Another version says that your days may be prolonged. Jesus even quoted this commandment in Matt 15: 4.

God is very clear about honouring father and mother.  Some of us may have had fathers and mothers that perhaps in your mind don’t deserve to be honoured.  But this commandment is clear despite how imperfect our parents are. Patricia King says that “when you position yourself in honour, it positions you for blessing.  You will live long in the land that the Lord gives you, which is his kingdom. It’s his promises, the land of his goodness, the land of his abundant life.  So when you honour your parents, it positions you in the blessing of the Lord.”

In the case of where parents have abused you,  this honour is not about their wrong deeds and harm they have done. You need to forgive them for that.  But you can’t empower evil. In this case, as a step, at least don’t dishonour them.  It’s not about what they deserve, but rather, to honour that they are your parents.  My mother used to tell me, “Laurie-Ann, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  So sometimes it’s better not to say anything.  Sometimes honouring a parent is simply to not dishonour them.

Here’s a Biblical example of not honouring a parent.  We know that in the case of Noah, he had one son who uncovered his nakedness.  Ham and his son Canaan were cursed.  Why?  Ham uncovered his father’s nakedness. He exposed him; when the other sons covered him.   He dishonoured his father’s dignity, rather than honoured him. God wants us to walk in honour, so this goes for your spiritual parents too.  Most of us have had spiritual parents who have nurtured us, but no one is perfect.  There’s been areas where they have been a blessing to you and not been a blessing to you, but we need to honour them as well.

Tony and I saw a beautiful example of honour when we visited Bethel Church in Redding, California. This is the same famous church known for contemporary worship music and great teaching. They have a 14-7 prayer house, healing rooms, outreach, and so much more.  We arrived at the early service on Father’s Day 2017.  Eric Johnson chose to not only honour the fathers, but also the single moms in the house.  These women were trying to fill the place of both mother AND father to their children.  He encouraged the congregation to bless them financially and with a hug.  And so they did, including my own Tony.   This same honour attitude was also extended to those who came to faith that day.  In many churches I’ve been involved with, they have everyone close their eyes and people can slip hands up anonymously.  I understand why they do that, but at the same time, those people can also be frightened from any contact, so it’s good to welcome them in honour.  Eric told them that they acknowledge them in the open, so they can be encouraged, rather than to hide.   They are seen as that important.   Parents also need to honour their children, so that you allow them to be who they truly are. The Apostle Paul warns fathers in Eph. 6:4, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. (Message)

Number threeHonour our elders.  Lev. 19:32  says to   “Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the Lord.”  Tony and I have noticed there is more of a culture of honour in South Africa towards the tannies and ooms then we have in North America. We celebrate that.    We found the same in Sierra Leone, where their strong culture of honour is helping heal divisions from their civil war. Rob Packer says there is a prevalent mindset in western culture that expects people who are over 60 to retire from work, get their pension, play bowls, move to an old folks home and wait to die.  They say they have done their bit, they have had their day, and now they should move over and let the younger ones do their thing.  That is such a strategy from the enemy!  Older folk have the greatest time availability, greatest life experience, and financial resources.  Many great businesses, inventions, and art is produced by people aged 60 to 90.   Patricia King also encourages seniors to get out there on the front lines of ministry.  She says the second half of life of these people can be greater than their first half was.

Yet in the west, there is the rise of elder abuse.   We see elderly people taken advantage of financially. They are targeted in scams with no conscience against it whatsoever. Some of these seniors are left absolutely bankrupt with no way to care for themselves.  Even some family members, have been abused rather than honoured. They’re just put in a home, and forgotten and never visited.   I’ve been fortunate in my family.  My maternal grandparents were cared by my aunt, uncle and cousins.  I even took three months off from volunteer work to care for my own parents in 2015.  It was an honour to do so.  Right now, we live in a retirement community and are always happy to see family visit our neighbours.  We even plan to visit the most frail of our community. This gives us great joy. I look forward to seeing my folks again on our home visit next year.  We always pray for their health and life.   Our friend and co-worker Maggie loves and ministers in the old-age home in nearby Robertson, as well as many seniors in that community. She is a real representation of honouring the elderly, in a special, loving way.  That love and honour that she shows them pleases God. It touches them and Maggie is blessed in the giving.

Number fourHonour widows. The Apostle Paul mentions honouring real widows in 1 Tim 5:3.   Some of these widows and widowers are just barely getting by. They are lonely and need to be honoured; they need to be loved on. They need to be esteemed, blessed, invited out, and given affirmations.  Sometimes they need finances, so every once and a while, slip them some rand notes when you shake their hand.  Some people call this a Pentecostal handshake, although I can say that Anglicans and Baptists have done this to me when wishing me well on short-term mission trips.  Psalm 68 mentions about God placing the lonely into families.  I’ve always understood this scripture as the long-term singles, since I was one until Tony scooped me up.  However, it also applies to the widowed.  Perhaps there is a lonely widow or widower in your community that you can adopt as your own tannie or oom.  I can think of a few here in Worcester.

Number fiveHonour church leaders.  We need to give special honour to church leaders for their care of preaching and teaching.  Paul encourages us to give double honour in 1 Tim 5:17, as well as the reminder in 1 Thess. 5:13 that we must esteem them, because they are working hard for you.  I know that my Ottawa pastors of John, Shawn, David and Trisha often would endure complaints as well as praise. David and Trisha even stepped down from one of my churches in a painful situation.  They are still in my prayers.  Sometimes a few of my past pastors have made mistakes and hurt my feelings.  But they were not intentional.  Our leaders are human, just like we are.

Sometimes famous Christian leaders are slammed, judged, and criticized openly and behind their backs. There are many Facebook posts of others that are in agreement, who also dishonour them.    Patricia King asked her own parishioners to not do post any posts on their Facebook pages that are negative, critical and cruel.   She asks them to stop negative talk, and to speak positively or not at all.  I personally take that stance.  I also remember Heidi Baker making a joke that she doesn’t  type her name into Google.  Some people have pegged her and other charismatic leaders as outright demonic.  Now THAT is dishonouring. And she’s not the only target.  Unfortunately people who do that create a culture of dishonour.  Even Jesus was pegged as demonic by some of the Pharisees.

Our Afrikaaner pastors,  Johan and Peter-Louis, have treated us with honour. It is easy to love and honour them back.  But even then, they and their families need our prayers. So does your own pastor, and all the leadership that works with them.  Please do pray for them and choose to honour them.  It will bless both you and them.

Number sixHonour other leaders who may not be as visible as those on stage.  1 Corinthians teaches to give more honour to the invisible ones.  In honouring them, scripture doesn’t say to honour them only if they are perfect and flawless. Criticism and judgmental attitudes hurt those leaders. It also hurts those who criticize. It’s dishonouring, so best to pray for the leader. Deal with your own attitude and forgive mistakes.   In the case of dealing with abuse, assault and the like; well, that must be reported. But if we’re talking criticism and complaining over minor issues, it’s time to forgive and move on in a gentle way.  A critical spirit is only going to harm your own walk with God. It will drag down your health and relationships.  Instead, choose to honour. Find kind ways to express disagreement without causing harm.

Number sevenHonour our government leaders; and our employers. Paul wrote in 1 Tim 6:1 to regard your masters as worthy of all honour.  Even if they are nasty, you must honour your employer. This means to not bad mouth them to other employees.  You are to honour them so that God himself won’t be looked upon in a bad way. We are to be absolutely blameless in this sense.  We are to be people of honour.

Even in the political realm, there’s a lot of people – even Christians – that will slam leaders terribly, with a critical attitude.   This isn’t just about US president Trump, but every leader.  These people may need constructive criticism but not curses. They need our prayers for difficult decisions. We pray all the time for Cyril Ramaphosa.

Patricia King loves the example of David and King Saul in 1 Sam 24: 2-13. In this story, David had an actual opportunity to take Saul out.  Patricia says that “Saul was the appointed king.  David was anointed as king, but he wasn’t appointed yet. He wasn’t in position yet, but he was blessed to be king. So he could have flaunted his authority.  But he didn’t.  He actually repented –  even from taking a piece of Saul’s garment. He had still ‘touched’ the anointed of God in a negative way. He did not take his life, he did not harm him in any way.  He said to Saul, “why are you doing this to me? I’ve only honoured you.” Saul made his own choice before God.  Patricia thinks that the reason why David got promoted was because he was a man of honour. Despite his mistakes, he was a man after God’s own heart.

David was greatly honoured, because he sowed honour.  He passed his honour test.  Patricia shares that “you will always be watched by God before you go into promotion. You have to pass your honour test.  Because if you fail an honour test,  you will not be able to properly stand in your next place very well. You will fail in that place. God wants you to always pass the test of honour; and you will be tested.”

You might think, ‘well, that person doesn’t deserve my honour.”  David could have thought this way, but he didn’t!  If he did take that attitude in his heart towards Saul, he would have failed the honour test.  But instead, he passed the honour test. “He held the honour test strong, right to the finish, because even after that, he didn’t become king right away. He had to still walk that out. He chose to be humble and he honoured the king.  It takes time to honour in that way, but it sets up a good foundation for the future.

Number eight: Honour each other!  This includes our spouses, best friends and everyone else. If you thought you were being missed out in this honour-fest, well, you’re in the party!  You’ve not been forgotten.  The Apostle Paul asks us in Phil 2:3 to esteem or honour others. In Rom. 12:10, Paul says to love each other with genuine affection, and to take delight in honouring each other.”   I’ve watched this love and honour in action at Iris gatherings where they all scramble to pay the bill.  I know our Iris leaders have certainly honoured and encouraged us.  We’ve been honoured and loved on by Janis, our Iris Ministries Canada director.  And sure enough, she bought me lunch.  We all need to grow in giving honour.  We could see this as a positive challenge.

If you value something you will take care of it, you will honour it.  For example, if you have a three carat diamond ring, you see the value in that. You’re not going to be careless with that diamond ring. You’re not just going to take it off your finger and forget where you put it; because you value that ring.  In the US, there is a company who markets caramel popcorn and peanuts in a box and call it “Cracker Jack.”  Inside the Cracker Jack box is a ring.  If you pull out the ring from a Cracker Jack box, you may like it, but you’re not going to value it the same as the diamond ring.  It doesn’t have the value of the diamond ring.

Whatever you value, you will honour.  I believe that God wants us to learn to value each other like he values us.  When he looks at each of you as individuals, he values you beyond anything you can understand.  He is willing to give everything to you because you have such great value to him.  When we look at each other, and we can’t see value, just ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it to our hearts.  He will help us honour each other.  He reveals our value.  You might look at the person and think, nah, … they’re losers.  But they are not losers in God’s eyes.  When you look through his eyes, and ask him to reveal his heart for that person, it will change the way that you see them.

If you can change the way that you see them, and see the value in them, you will honour them.   This is the core truth in many Facebook posts about seeing the gold in people, rather than the dirt.  Yes, we all have dirt, but we also have gold.  So it’s easy to honour what you value. I believe that God wants us to see the pure gold in each other. He wants us to see the potential.  He wants us to encourage that potential in each other. One of the BEST things about raising children is to NOT tell them how bad they are. Don’t point out all the bad things that they’re doing, and all their mistakes.   They better fix this, fix that, do this and do that, ‘cause you’re just not making the mark.  If you do that, you’ll destroy your child. They’ll become people-pleasing strivers and not know who they are.

If you’re doing that, you’ll find out that you’re destroying their self-image, you’ll destroy everything about them.  Instead, start speaking into them, who they really are. When you  discipline them, call them up into who they are. This transforms the way that they live and the way that they grow up.  They’ll grow up strong and straight, because they’re being valued. If you feel valued by someone, you’ll live differently, than you will if you feel like you’ve been hated by people.   Have you ever gone into an environment where you’ve felt despised?  It’s just like you want to hide, you fumble, you’re not yourself, you don’t rise up in confidence; but when you go into a place where you know you are valued and loved, it just pulls up in you the fullness of who you are.

Despite our mistakes, if we honour each other, and see potential in each other, we’ll see each other grow.  It will be so beautiful.  So honour is a key in building strong people, community and family.  Honour is a big deal in countries like Sierra Leone, who is still healing from their civil war. And honour is due to the one who eternally loves us.

So we have learned there is so much to establishing a culture of honour.  When we choose to honour, we will in turn be honoured ourselves. It isn’t all one way.  So as we choose to honour God, our parents, our leaders, the widows, the vulnerable and each other, we are also within that honour matrix.  In earlier broadcasts we learned about encouragement and blessing.  To honour is to take that further.  In our next broadcast, we will learn further HOW we can honour.

Lord, I ask you to please teach us deeply in our hearts about honour.  Show us ways that we have been dishonouring to others. Show us how we complain and speak to our hearts about how to stop these habits. Show us your way, the way of honour, the way of love.  Show us what honour looks like.  We thank you for your faithfulness to us and give you all the honour of making our lives beautiful. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you would like to hear an audio version of this article, please follow this link to CopplesWesternCape.ca and scroll down to #36

We’ll continue to journey through honour as part of a four-part series.

Blessings and love
Laurie-Ann Copple