Wednesday, November 10, 2010

God's blueprint for the rebuilding of Nations: Isaiah 58:12

1 Corinthians 3:11 "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."
Isaiah 58:12
“Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

The remarkable promises in this verse are the culminating results that materialise if we humbly and implicitly obey the conditions that the Lord has laid down for the True Fast. It is important to remember that it is far more than just our actions, but is bestowed upon those with God’s unselfish heart, and who carry out His plan to remove the yoke of oppression over the poor.

Not good? What did God say was not good?

Not good
Genesis 1:31 reads, ‘God saw all that he had made and it was very good.’ God made a good world but in Genesis 2:18, the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’

What did God say was not good?
Did he say, ‘It is not good for the man to do all the work, I will make him a servant’? NO!
Did he say, ‘It is not good for the man to be unfulfilled sexually, I will make him a sex partner’? NO!
He said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion to help him’. YES! That is the helpful translation of Genesis 2:18 in the New Living Translation.

Companions: If a person is alone what they need is a friend and a companion. God expects husbands and wives to be friends. Of course, men and women can be good friends apart from marriage and single people can live a full life in the blessing of God. However, this verse is especially written about marriage and we learn that from the beginning God planned for husbands and wives to be best friends. God expects us to spend time together and do things together. Many husbands and wives put their own concerns before each other’s interests. They make excuses: “The children need me,” “I’m too busy,” “I don’t like your friends,” “I just have to work.” Then they wonder why communication breaks down. Say ‘Yes’ to your partner more than you say ‘No.’ Be sensitive to each other’s moods. Take time to discuss problems as they arise and don’t allow things to grow and to get worse. A good companion is happy to provide support and love. If we want to enjoy a wonderful marriage, we need to guard our friendship.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Guidance and support and an agricultural connotation: Isaiah 58:11

1 Corinthians 3:11 "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."
“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

The Lord promises to continually guide us, and He wants to assure us of this and strengthen us for the difficult task because we will be working in a land that is sun-scorched and probably barren because of the Lords chastening hand. Again the wonderful promise is that we will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. What a beautiful picture in contrast to the sun-scorched land.

This again draws emphasis towards us as the Lord’s people, who will not only be seen to be shining and righteous and protected and guided and strengthened, but we will be seen to be verdant and fruitful and constantly well-watered. What astounding promises for those who have the Lord’s heart for the poor, who seek and do His plan for their deliverance.

However Brian also firmly believes that this is not just a reference to us spiritually, but also physically on earth because of the mention of the ‘sun-scorched land’. This indicates an agricultural aspect, and this has been very strongly confirmed with the amazing success of the wonderfully God-given intervention of Farming God’s Way/Foundations for Farming, which is based on God’s way of capturing the rain He sends us and holding it more effectively in the soil, and transferring this moisture and the nutrients more efficiently to the plants.

Looking back over the last twenty and a half years (at the time of writing, February 2nd 2010) since the Lord gave us this verse on the 1st of October 1982, at such a critical and significant time in our lives, we are astounded at the recognition and favour that the Lord has given ourselves and the vision. We have been humbled by how the Lord has shown us such a simple technology and implementation management system, which has been shown to be applicable to any level and magnitude of productive endeavour, and is best introduced and demonstrated to the world, in an agricultural way, by the poorest people on earth.

It is truly the ‘Upside-Down’ Kingdom, and has particular significance for verse 12:

Foundations for Family Champions Conference

Enjoy Your Marriage Training
In September, the Family Champion couples from all 12 congregations active in Foundations for Family together with seven church leader couples came together at for a three day marriage training. On the first day, Ian and Adie Wilsher from the Harare Counselling Centre helped us with an introduction to marriage counselling. The next two days concentrated on the Enjoy Your Marriage material from Family Impact which had been adapted for leaders of groups of married couples and was available in English and Shona. This helped the couples themselves to enjoy their own marriages before explaining how to use the material to help others.

Couples Time
Some comments:
Mostly we enjoyed being together just the two of us, learning, playing and talking together.
• Seminars were very interactive, the group times & discussions where we went to discuss outside made things fresh.
• We enjoyed learning about how to communicate with our spouses and the importance of having time with each other as couples so that we can share our feelings so that we can come to know each other.

• We enjoyed the topics Communication and Romance and sex.
• We were enlightened on how to deal with problems in our marriages.
• The times we had alone as couples were very good; we realized that it is very important to spend time with our loved ones.
• The couple’s times were excellent; we spoke about things and made decisions we might have never made. These are truly powerful, marriage shaping times.
• Beautiful times of discoveries and reflections which strengthen the marriage bond.

Fun Time as couples

God hears and answers verse 9 - 10: Isaiah 58

1 Corinthians 3:11 "For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

The Lord gloriously indicates that He accepts the true fast by announcing that He will hear their calls and answer their cry for help. Then He shows how serious He is about the plight of the poor, by repeating (in the space of three verses) His condition for the promise, which is, ‘if they make a plan to remove the yoke of oppression’. He also re-emphasises that ‘our light will rise and shine in the darkness’. Surely this means that He really wants the solution to be seen and for His people to be seen as the carriers of the message.

Thank you Lord for making us man and woman

God made men and women different. Genesis 1 and 2 are two accounts of creation. Last time we looked at Genesis 1 which takes in the whole world and people are created last. This time, we consider Genesis 2 which shows that it was God’s good plan to make us different. Instead of making another Adam, God did something quite different in making Eve. In verse 7 , we see that man came from the dust and became a living creature when God breathed life into him. In verse 22, the woman is made from one of the man’s ribs. The sexes are linked together and need each other. Married couples quickly learn that they are different in many ways. It is part of the fun of being married, but it can also cause problems. Here are two common examples of the differences between men and women:

* In a newspaper the headlines summarise the stories in a few words while the details are in the small print. Many men communicate in headlines. They are often satisfied with just a few words. Women thrive on the small print of life. They need to talk through all the particulars of everything. Neither the man nor the woman is right or wrong. A newspaper that is all headlines with no small print is pretty useless. A newspaper with no headlines and only small print is almost impossible to read. We need both headlines and small print.
* If a couple goes to a soccer match, the woman will tend to look first at the crowd. She will notice who they are and what they are wearing. The man will hardly be aware of the crowd. He is immediately taken up with the game.

By creating a person like Adam and yet very unlike Adam, God gave us the possibility of amazing unity. When we all sing the same melody, it is called unison which means ‘one sound’ but when we unite soprano and alto and tenor and base, we call it harmony. There is something deeper in great harmony than mere unison. So God created man and woman. Genesis 1 tells us that men and women both reflect God’s image and are given the same task on earth. Genesis 2 says that men and women are different. These two truths that should not be separated. When the chapters are put together we get God’s truth that men and women are equal and different. Thank God we are different. Thank God that we are also equal. It is God who can help us to work out what this means for marriages today. In marriage husbands and wives can show God’s likeness together in a unique way. There is a special joy in being us. Hallelujah! God’s creation is GOOD!

Monday, October 4, 2010

How Foundations for Farming started

1 Corinthians 3:11 "For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."
This is how Farming God’s Way and Foundations for Farming has come about. The Lord has shown Brian and Cath the captivity of the poor to their poverty, and that the Lord has the complete answer to their deliverance in His infinite knowledge base. Brian and Cath became poor themselves and they went to another farm, which was also in serious financial trouble. It was there that they saw how poor the workers and the people in the communal land near them were, and then later the Lord showed them the extent of the poverty in the whole of Africa.
They had been seeking the Lord’s answer to this poverty for many years, hopefully with all of their hearts. In seeking the Lord’s perfect knowledge, Brian had tried to keep Proverbs 3: 5-7 uppermost in his heart: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favour and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.”

None of us ever do these things perfectly on earth, but Brian had noticed that if we set our hearts towards doing everything God’s way, God sees that intent in our hearts and pours in His grace and people begin to say, “Yes, what they say and do is right,” and God’s knowledge of the answer and solution goes forth to stop the perishing of His people.
Verse 8 of Isaiah 58: “and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.” This is something very beautiful and sometimes causes Brian to weep with joy: The Lord receives all the glory, because it is entirely His plan and nothing of man! This little phrase is particularly precious to Brian because this whole adventure in God of Farming God's Way/Foundations for Farming started one night in March 1980 with the Lord’s words from 1 Corinthians 10: 31, “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the Glory of God”

It is also very significant that the Lord says that His glory will be our “Rear Guard”. This is very assuring and comforting because when God’s plans, through His people, begin to bear the amazing fruit that we see, the Evil One also sees that his diabolical plans to keep God’s people in captivity to poverty, and to degrade and ruin God’s creation, are being thwarted.

As a result of this the devil then focuses His resistance and attack on us. He is a cunning enemy, who usually attacks obliquely and from behind. We know that the Lord goes before us and with us as Jehovah Shammah, and here in verse 8, He assures us of His all round protection. His glory that shines forth from His plan for the poor through the Gospel of the Good News of His precious Son goes with us and keeps us safe!

The family life of christian leaders pt 2

Marriage Time: Twenty Five Surprising Marriages is a book about the married life of some Christian leaders. Not all of them had good marriages but what comes out strongly in the book is that the people who had the best marriages spent TIME with their marriage partner every day. One wife used to stay up till her husband came home from ministry even after midnight so that they could have time together to have a drink, talk about what each had done that day and pray together. All the people with good marriages did things they enjoyed with one another. Do we pray together and enjoy life together as a married couple?

Children Time: John Wesley became a great evangelist in Britain. It is said that his mother, who had many children, used to spend one hour a week alone with each of them to disciple and to help them. If we want children who are not wild or rebellious, both fathers and mothers should work with them, play with them, do school work with them, pray with them, have fun with them. Enjoy your children while they are with you! Spend TIME with them!

If you do not plan to spend TIME with your family, you will never do it. So, please, sit down today and write down a plan for how you will manage to spend time with your marriage partner and with your children every day and what special times you will plan every week or every month. Share your ideas and talk them through with your partner and with your children. Then do it!

Trust God. Families are under attack. Our enemy, the devil, hates good families. He wants children to be rebellious and he enjoys it when fathers leave their children and when wives leave their husbands. However, God loves good families and He is far greater than Satan who is against us. We must be on our guard against Satan. Family life is spiritual battle but we need not worry or be afraid because God is with us. We must pray. But we can have confidence that we will enjoy the goodness of the Lord. Many Bible verses promise that God helps families. For example, Psalm 128:3 says, ‘Your wife will be like a fruitful vine in your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord.’ In Psalm 103:17, we read, ‘From everlasting to everlasting the LORD'S love is with those who fear him and his righteousness with their children’s children.’ On the Day of Pentecost, Peter stood and said, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children.’ God’s love is with our children and He is with us in our marriage. Whatever your family is like today, God is able to make it better and stronger. Our families can shine as a light for Jesus in the darkness of our world. God wants to bless our families as we trust Him.

The promises that follow the conditions of a true fast:Isaiah 58:8

1 Corinthians 3:11 "For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid which is Jesus Christ."
“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.” If we sincerely seek the Lord’s face and make plans of action to remove the yokes of oppression causing the suffering of the poor, the Lord brings us some amazing promises and consequences that will follow our obedience:
“Your Light will Break Forth Like the Dawn...” This is amazing that the Lord actually means, ‘Our Light will brake forth…’ if we obey Him in this way. The Kingdom of darkness has been engulfing the poor in Africa through the diabolical oppression that has been upon them. When we obey God implicitly and put His plan into action, the Kingdom of Light comes flooding in. Our humble and trusting obedience to Him acts as the carrier or catalyst for this to happen, and the Lord graciously ordains us as the light carriers.

What a great privilege and joy it is to bring God’s light and truth to bear on the problem. Because both the world system and the church ‘system’ have not reversed the increasing poverty, it means that they haven’t seen the true cause of the problem, or its solution, or the way to implement the solution. The people and the situation have been in darkness, and now the light has come for others to see.
“…and your healing will quickly appear;” I presume that this means that the Lord will answer our own prayers and He will strengthen us in mind, spirit and body for what is to come. We and others will quickly be able to see and recognise this blessing and answer to prayer.
“…then your righteousness will go before you,” As we begin to share the Lord’s answer and plan, people will hear and see and say, “Yes what these people are saying and doing is true and right.” I believe that the Lord will cause this to happen, and our reputation will go before us and many will come and want to see. Many will agree that this is truly God’s plan and is ‘Rightness in God’, which is the same as ‘Righteousness’, especially if they see that we have launched out to actually do it humbly and unselfishly!

This is what Brian calls ‘Sharing Vision’, because it is what the Lord sees, in absolute clarity, fullness and truth. The Lord says in Proverbs 29: 18 – KJV, “Without vision my people perish.” I have noticed that the Lord really does stop the perishing when we share vision. I believe that ‘Vision’ is the ‘Bigger Picture’ of what the Lord wants us to see in His eternal sovereign plan.
Then the Lord wants to give us more detail of His plans, for he says in Hosea 4: 6 that, “My people are perishing for a lack of knowledge.” We must remember that God is perfectly holy, eternal, infinite, infallible, inscrutable, immutable, omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. In His omniscience the Lord knows all things about all things in their absolute fullness and totality. This means He knows the cause of the poverty in Africa in its totality, likewise the solution in its totality and perfection, and the way to implement the solution in its totality.

It says in Jeremiah 29: 11-14, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and will bring you back from captivity…” This is a most gracious, hope-filled, encouraging and exciting series of promises.

The Lord has a perfect plan for every individual on earth, as well for every family, community, nation and continent. Sadly our rebellion has kept these beautiful plans from us, because we have all gone astray and carried out our own plans. However Jeremiah 29: 13 gives us great hope, because the Lord says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.”

The family life of christian leaders pt 1

Timothy and Titus were both members of Paul’s mission team involved in church planting. In his letters to them, Paul explains the kind of person that a Christian leader should be. You can find the descriptions in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9. The family life of leaders is included in both lists. Here are some of the verses from the New Living Translation: An elder must be well thought of for his good life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who are not wild or rebellious. (Titus 1:6). A deacon must be faithful to his wife, and he must manage his children and household well. Their wives and women deacons must be respected and must not speak evil of others. (1 Timothy 3:12 & 11).

The family life of Christian leaders matters to God. None of our families are perfect. Every person in every family is a self-centred sinner by nature. We are all on a journey with Jesus. However, Christian leaders are expected to enjoy good family life. This must especially true for Family Champions. What can we do to build strong families? Two things to help us are TIME and TRUST.

Give Time. If you ever see professional soccer, the players make it look so easy. But when you go out on the field and try the same tricks, you discover that it is not easy after all! What is the difference? The professionals may have more ability than you but they also spend lots of TIME training. They are skilful because they give hours every day to soccer. If you want to enjoy good family life, you must give TIME to it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Our own families: verse 7

1 Corinthians 3:11 "For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid which is Jesus Christ."
Verse 7 ends by saying, “and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood.” This is more important than first meets the eye. The Lord’s first building block on the earth as He had created it is ‘family’, which came out of the union of Adam and Eve, who were told to go and multiply and take dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28). In fact in God’s order of priority, Foundations for Family comes even before Foundations for Farming in His building and rebuilding plan.

We are not to get so carried away with the Lord’s magnificent plan for the poor, that we neglect our families because of the urgency of ministry. Looking back Brian can see that in his fervour for the vision, which the Lord has given them, he have sometimes not been ‘there’ for his family at some very important occasions. He regrets this greatly, and he has seen the long term hurt and its consequences that can happen if we get the Lord’s priorities wrong in His building process. We need to consistently keep the Lord’s principles, conditions and priorities, uppermost in our minds.

God made men and women in his image

“God saw all that he had made and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31). God did an excellent job in creation! When Jesus worked as a carpenter, we can be sure that he made first class tables and chairs. The Bible tells me that I am made BY God. I am not rubbish. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm139:14).
More than that, God made us LIKE himself! “God said, ‘Let us make people in our image to be like ourselves’. (Genesis 1:26 NLT). In Genesis 1, people are made like God as the crown of His creation. Men and women reflect the glory of God in a way nothing else in all creation can. We are God made and well made.

God made men and women equal in value
A couple can be seen walking along a road. The wife is struggling to carry a sack of mealie meal on her head. She has a baby on her back and is pulling an older child by the hand. She is pregnant at the same time. Her husband strolls merrily along, whistling his favourite tune, a loaf of bread under his arm. While she is dressed in old, tattered clothes and perhaps a pair of torn tennis shoes, her husband is dressed in smart new clothes.

This scenario suggests that the husband is superior to the wife. Throughout history and in many cultures, people have believed in the superiority of the male. This belief has also been reflected in Christian teaching but it is not what the Bible says. God’s first word about men and women comes in Genesis 1:27,

“God created people in his image;
God patterned them after himself;
male and female he created them.”

The word people translates the Hebrew word Adam. Older Bibles use the word man in Genesis 1:27 and that has often been understood to mean male men only and not women. However, Genesis 5:1-2 makes clear that Adam does not mean male man. The NIV reads: “When God created man (Adam), he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and he blessed them. And when they were created, he called them ‘man’ (Adam).” Adam means mankind, human beings or people. The wonderful truth is that both men and women are made in the image of God. We are equal in dignity and in value to God. This is so important in our families. Men and women may have different roles in society but both of us are made in God’s image. Husbands and wives, sons and daughters – we are all equal in worth before our God. Neither sex is more important than the other.

Let us honour one another in our families as people made by God and like God.
We are God made and well made. Praise the Lord!

God's channel of power on earth

1 Corinthians 3:11 "For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."

For many years Brian has been exhorting the Champions that Farming God’s Way, now Foundations or Farming, must be founded on Jesus and specifically on His humility and unselfishness. The specific mandate that God has given us from Isaiah is to break the yoke of injustice and poverty, hunger and suffering of the people of Africa and the Developing World and in deed the poor in all nations, which the Lord describes as the True Fast to which he will accept.
It is a gigantic task, but we have a much more Gigantic God. This can only happen if we copy Jesus humility and empty ourselves as He did. In this state of humility and unselfishness, which the world would view as weakness, God’s power will flood in behind and through us.

There is no other way of doing this, but by taking up our cross and following Jesus. “Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9: 23). We are to die to everything of the flesh, except for life itself. “Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice, dedicated to God’s purpose and pleasing to Him, for this is the true worship that you should offer” (Romans 12:1). (GNB). All that we must not put to death is what the Holy Spirit has deposited in us. “I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.(Galations 2: 20).

When we do this, the power of God will flood in behind us. Imagine if God’s people unified under this banner of the likeness of Christ and His love, and we all trusted Him with all our hearts, and stopped leaning on our own understanding, but acknowledged God in all our ways. What a straight, gloriously effective, yoke-breaking, continent-changing path God would make! (Proverbs 3: 6). These will be the results of the True Fast expressed in the humility and unselfishness of Christ Jesus!

The importance of communication

Communication can build or break our family

“The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21). Communication is powerful. People often use kind words and kind actions to their church mates, work mates and friends but speak very roughly with their families. Our words can destroy the people we love in our family. People often become what we say they are. If we say our children are useless, they become useless. If we say our husbands are hopeless, indeed they will become hopeless.

Many families are breaking down because of a negative communication between father and mother or between parents and children. Family members of all ages end up feeling lonely and each one does their own thing apart from the rest of the family. God gave us families so that we can all grow to our maximum potential but the family is often a place where both children and adults are verbally abused.

1. The parents are always talking and never listening to their children. Children are given names that communicate poverty, hatred and anger. When a child is told that they are dull like their late grandmother who never stepped into a classroom, they are totally heartbroken and their chances of doing well at school are limited because the words will stick with them for the rest of their lives.
2. Teenagers think that their parents are too old fashioned and so cannot tell them anything, or they ignore their parents because they are not educated as much as children today. On the other hand parents think teenagers are a wild group who do not know what they are doing, and they are heading for disaster.
3. Wives are treated as objects; therefore anything can be said to them without caring much about how they feel.
4. The husband thinks that his wife is taking sides with children and he feels rejected.

However, the verse from Proverbs 18:21 does not only say that the tongue kills. The tongue also has the power of life! Words can kill or they can give life. Good communication can build and bless our families. If we say good things to our family members they will change for the better and become what we say they are. Let us always guard our tongues and use them to bless others not to curse them. “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”(Proverbs 16:24)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Humility and Unselfishness of Christ

1 Corinthians 3:11 "For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."

It is important that we take a bit of time to meditate on these precious aspects of the character of Jesus, which is the Spirit behind the True Fast:

We have already mentioned the humbleness of Jesus birth and life, but the contrast of where He came from warrants much emphasis. Jesus had been at the founding and establishment of the universe, of all things seen and unseen. He had the joy of being in the constant and immediate presence of His Father, and resided in a throne-room that must be immeasurably more magnificent than any on earth. He was on the seat of all the power and authority in the universe, surrounded by myriads of angels serving and praising Him.

His Father looked down to earth and saw that the only way to bring the people that He had created back into His presence was to send His Precious only Son down them. To live among them so as to show Himself to them and demonstrate how they are to live out their lives, and then to suffer an excruciating death for them.

So Jesus humbly obeyed His Father and descended from the pinnacle of the glory of heaven, to become a man, a helpless baby, born in a stable to a humble virgin. Then He in the greatest possible humility constantly referred to His Father and obeyed Him absolutely implicitly, even to the point of death on a cross.

In this ineffable humility, he demonstrated supreme and total unselfishness. He emptied Himself of His position, His opinions and preferences, His rights, His comfort, His reputation and His lifeblood. In this state of weakness, surrender and vulnerability, the absolute epitome of unselfishness, He defeated the power of sin and death, and of Satan and His demons. No wonder Jesus told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12: 9).

Value 5: Christ Centredness

Christ centred families welcome Jesus to share their everyday life and to take part in all they are and do. The door of their home is open to those in need. They delight to serve Christ as a family. They are salt and light in their community and spread the gospel together. They know Christ’s joy and peace. Their home is full of fun and laughter. Christ centred families reflect the relationships of harmony and love between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit within the Trinity.
However we will not enjoy Christ centred family life unless our own lives are centred on Christ and filled with his Spirit. This is a call to make Christ Lord of all our lives. We can know the peace of God in our families when we are living Christ centred lives ourselves.

We are on a journey with Jesus…..
As Christians, neither we nor our families are perfect but we press toward that goal with God’s help. Following the example of Jesus, the church invites all to join us on this journey and especially welcomes those whose family situation falls short of these Five Family Values. Accept one another just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God’.

Jesus' heart for the poor

1 Corinthians 3:11 "For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."

The Father in heaven sent His only Son to be born on earth as a man. He chose His birthplace to be a stable, and His earthly mother and father were from the lower end of society. He was trained as a carpenter by His father, and owned nothing at the end of His life. It is very significant that the King of glory chose to come in this way, so that the very poorest people can truly relate to His message.

Jesus grew up to be a man, and had some years living in and relating to the world, and then when He was thirty years old the Father told Him the time for His great work had come. Soon after this Jesus took out the scroll in the synagogue in His hometown Nazareth to announce the ministry, for which his Father had sent Him, and read from Isaiah 61:1-2, “The Spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…”

We have seen in Africa that poverty is a real captivity and a stronghold. The poor don’t know how to escape from it and such a sense of hopelessness comes over them, and poverty causes so much suffering and broken-heartedness. Praise God that Jesus came to set them free, and to heal them and restore them.

It is also very significant that when Paul and Silas began their great work of taking the Gospel to the Gentiles and the rest of the world, James, Peter and John gave them their blessing, and Paul reported in Galatians 2: 10, “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”
What a mandate, what a priority in God’s heart are the poor, that He inspired the apostles, through His Holy Spirit, to remember that the expression and outworking of the Gospel is primarily the good news for the poor, who are the most severe casualties of the sin and fall of man. Surely Jesus humility and unselfishness, and His heart for the poor and His plan for their deliverance compose the True fast!

Value 4: Sexual Purity

God made us men and women as sexual beings and said that all He had made was very good. Within marriage, sex is blessed by God who intends it to be a joy and delight to both partners. Because sexual intercourse is so precious to people and so significant in the sight of God, it is kept for the bond of marriage. This means no sex before marriage and no sex outside marriage.
Jesus also made it clear that sexual purity extends beyond the physical act of sexual intercourse to avoiding lustful thought and behaviour. However the Bible shows that sex sin can be forgiven and God calls the church to keep a balance between God’s justice and His forgiveness.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The True Fast: Isaiah 58:6 - 7

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

Here the Lord shows His compassionate heart towards the poor, and says to us if we have the same heart towards them He will regard it as the fast that He has chosen. However this is not just to be words, but must be shown in sincere action. It begins with sharing with what we have ourselves, which involves a definite degree of personal unselfishness. But the Lord’s observation of the attitudes of our hearts goes deeper than that:

Often we help people at our own economic level or higher, because we think, mostly subconsciously, that later when we are battling, they will help us back. It can be a kind of insurance policy for a rainy day. But when we share what we have with the very poor, we know that they cannot pay us back, and this is the unselfish heart that the Lord loves. It emulates the love of His Son, and conforms to the new commandment he gave us in John 13: 34, “…that you love one another, just as I have loved you, you are to love one another.”

If selfishness and pride compose the root cause of all the consequences and suffering from sin in the world, then surely the antidote is found in the humility and unselfishness of Christ, expressed by His people on earth. This is the heart attitude in God’s people that He will use to break the yokes of oppression and injustice.

Value 3: Valued Children

Children are a gift and blessing from God. Jesus showed that children are significant people in God’s sight. They should be treated as valued members of the family. This includes girl children as much as boy children. Parents are responsible to bring their children up to know and love the Lord. Both father and mother should be active in this vital task God’s heart is for the hearts of fathers to be turned towards their children. God who is THE Father is the model and example for all parents. However, if a couple is not able to have children their marriage is complete in God’s sight and should be accepted as such in church and society.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The False Fast: Isaiah 58:5

Isaiah 58:5 “Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?”

The Lord here questions our approach and attitude in what we call a fast. God tells us that He is not so much looking at our outer actions when we fast, but at what is going on in our hearts. The crucial message that the Lord is teaching us in this passage, is that the Lord will not hear us or respond to our prayers if we fast and pray with a selfish heart. This is so serious that it is important for us to try and understand more about this unacceptable fast:

The Lord has abhorrence for all sin, and particularly towards selfishness. Selfishness epitomises all sin and Billy Graham has said that covetousness or selfishness is the root of all sin. Selfishness is the root of the pride and self-elevation that caused Lucifer/Satan to fall from heaven, and is the same root of the temptation he then brought before Eve and Adam in the garden, which then caused the fall of man. This selfishness is the root of the rebellion that He wants His prophets to shout out so loudly to His people.

If we do a root cause analysis for all the immorality, crime, corruption, violence, wars in this world, and try to find the foundational cause of all these things, we will find that man’s selfishness is behind it all. However I believe that the first fruit or causal effect of our selfishness that God notices on earth is the oppression, hunger, homelessness, nakedness and suffering of the poor. The poor are the greatest casualties of the whole wicked saga.

Selfishness causes the rich to get richer, and the poor to get poorer, and the powerful to get more powerful and lifted up, and the weak, weaker, hungrier and more oppressed. This is the great injustice and oppression that is abhorrent to God, and its root cause is selfishness. Perhaps we can begin to understand why He won’t hear us when we fast and pray with a selfish heart.

Value 2: Committed Couples

Marriage is God’s idea. He created men and women equally in his image to be companions and to help each other. The foundation for marriage is given in Genesis 2:24 " Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.":
1. a man will leave his father and mother. The marriage relationship comes before all others including our relationship with our parents. When a couple marry they set up a new family unit.
2. and be united to his wife. Marriage is the union of one man and one woman in intimate, life-long relationship and companionship.
3. and the two shall become one flesh. This refers to sexual intimacy which comes after leaving and being united and so is kept for marriage.

In our short life on earth, it is possible to bring God glory either in marriage or as a single adult. Neither is a higher or more spiritual calling because for both men and women our first marriage is to Christ. We are His bride.

The wedding of the Lamb has come. The Bible closes with the wedding of Christ and the church. Every human marriage points forward to that glorious day and every Christian, married or single, is fully part of it for ever.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Their Behaviour: Isaiah 58:4

“Your fasting ends in quarrelling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.”

The Lord is now explaining why He has not responded to their prayers in the way that they have desired. He describes what they have been doing. There is no change in the way they live; they just carry on doing their own plans and purposes that please them. This self-centredness leads to quarrelling and strife and exploitation of those around them. Their behaviour indicates the state of their hearts. Jesus said in Matthew 15:18-19, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander."

Value 1: Everyone in Family

The Bible word for family is ‘house’ which means a physical building and then refers to all the people in a ‘household’. Household includes all living generations and all in the family such as servants, visitors and animals. It is similar to the traditional extended family of Africa where everyone belonged in family.
Today family life is changing and we need to make a special effort to preserve the strength of the extended family by caring for the relatives in our extended families and including everyone in the life of our families, especially single adults, orphans and widows.
BUT there is a limit to the demands of relatives. In the church family and the human family, people are required to contribute what they can - ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat’

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fasting and Prayer: Isaiah 58:3

“For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.”

There has been much fasting and praying in our churches for many years, yet the situation just gets worse as the years roll by. There have been distinct moments of promise and even euphoria, especially before the referendum on the constitution in February 2000 and at many of the subsequent general elections and at the formation of the Government of National Unity, and then again at the introduction of the American dollar as our national currency. Yet the captivity of our people and the plight of the poor continue to deteriorate. Surely verse 3 applies to us:“Why have we fasted, they say, and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?” And the Lord may well answer us, “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please…”

The objectives of Foundations for Family

The objectives of Foundations for Family are:

To mainstream family in the life of our churches
So that
Our families enjoy the blessing of Christ centred family life
The potential of family ministry in evangelism and discipleship is maximised
With the result that
Churches and communities are transformed to the praise of the glory of God

Our Five Family Values
Everyone in Family, Committed Couples, Valued Children, Sexual Purity & Christ Centeredness

God’s ideal for family is a strong marriage relationship between a man and a woman as the centre of an extended family network. Here are Five Family Values that sum up God’s plan for family in all cultures and for all time:

Hypocrisy: Isaiah 58:2

“For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.”

It seems that God is not only bothered by sin and rebellion of His people, but He is bothered by their hypocrisy. They are not only in sin and rebellion, but they are pretending that everything is alright. They are pretending to draw near to God by carrying out their rituals, which they think are meaningful, but as God searches their hearts He knows they are empty. Jesus said in Matthew 15:7-8: “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

This is such an important message for God’s people in Africa, and especially in Zimbabwe, at this time. The Lord has allowed us to go through many years of extreme difficulty, and we are all yearning for the time when the Lord will heal our land, yet things seem to continually get further and further away from this healing. Brian doesn’t know of any churches in Zimbabwe, who haven’t had 2 Chronicles 7:14 high on their list of requests before the Lord.

The urgency for this call to be given and the obedient response to the message of turning from our selfishness and our own plans to the Lord’s plans and our sincere demonstration of the unselfishness that pleases the Lord, the sooner will the suffering of the poor be alleviated.

Brian prays that readers from other nations will also study the Zimbabwean case closely, as the Lord deals with us, as a model in the context of the Lord’s Great Commission to “Go and make disciples of all nations."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The conception of Foundations for Family

Foundations for Family was conceived at a meeting of Foundations for Farming leaders who were enabling people to care for their families by farming joyfully and effectively. They called for an initiative to help them in personal relationships as essential to their success.

Foundations for Family was born when a small group met during the 2009 Farming Champs conference to pray and plan about its objectives, values and outworking. Materials were written and tested and a preliminary training held in November for leaders of 20 rural congregations who were taught how to use the Five Family Values Workbook in their regular Farmer Group meetings. The response was overwhelmingly positive and Foundations for Family was properly launched at the Foundations for Nations Champs conference in March 2010. Ten congregations sent their appointed Family Champion couples for orientation. These Family Champions are now adapting and implementing Foundations for Family through their churches.

Foundations for Family is designed as a long-term, on-going part of church life so that it becomes part of our DNA and characterise all that a church is and does. It is not a short term project though it is recommended that churches start it with a 6 week sermon series on the Five Family Values. It is not an extra burden or add-on to church life though it may develop special programmes for separate family members such as couples, widows, parents, single parents, young adults, orphans and orphan caregivers. The emphasis is on empowering whole families and raising the profile of family in all of church life.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Call to Repentence: Isaiah 58:1

This is a message that God feels with such passion, that He says “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet.” We are to ‘hold nothing back’ as we declare this message. Surely this means we are to speak with the Lord’s urgency, passion and emotion expressed, even if this conveys some of His holy anger, remembering that everything He says and does to and for His people is motivated and couched in His infinite and immutable love. May His love in us be the sole motivation in our hearts as we give and receive this message. The Lord says, “Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins.” Seldom, if at all, in all His instructions to the prophets, have I seen such urgency and passion in God’s heart. As full of God’s love as we should always be, this is a stern rebuke and an urgent wake up call to God’s people, for the Lord says, “Raise your voice like a trumpet”:

Sibs Sibanda (now based at God First Church in South Africa) puts it so well, “The word ‘trumpet’ is the word ‘shofah’ in Hebrew, which is a ram’s horn. This is a call to attention, not a strike up of music or celebration. The sound of a ram’s horn is ok when it is far away, but when it is right next to you, it can be a loud and irritating sound. As Champions the Lord’s word to us is not to expect this voice to be sweet to men’s ears. We should not go out expecting to receive warm embrace, because this is not a call to celebration, it is a call to repentance. Our message will be embraced, but through hardship and trial.”

Sibs goes on to say, “ ‘Declare to my people their rebellion…’ This is a message primarily for the Church. Rebellion is a direct result of an inflated self-view or self-opinion. In other words it is essentially born out of self-centredness or selfishness. Not many in the church today would relate to being called a rebellious or selfish people. This is why this message will be like a ram’s horn, irritating and annoying, because no one wants to be told that they are rebellious. We must thus see God as He truly is, because unless we do, none of these things will come together.”

The vision of Foundations for Health

Foundations for Health is a project which equips churches to respond in nutritional and self-sustaining ways to disease and sicknesses as well as equipping them in preventative health measures to bring health and restoration to the nation.

Mission Statement:
Equipping and empowering individuals that can assist and impact their community to improve health standards and decrease incidences of sickness.

We are currently doing 2 pre-pilot studies: One with Maoko ane tsitsi team and one with the “grassroots” out at Westgate. We have found discrepancies already and want to do a review of the manual before pilots will take place. We are envisioning twelve “pilots” through our emerging “church plants” in the near future. We encourage individuals that are interested in doing a pilot to build relationship in their communities and identify the need for a health focused project. We can then reach out with the eight session Foundations for Health programme to hopefully make a lasting impact in the communities.

What are pre-pilots projects? What is “grassroots?” What are emerging “church plants?” Read on in the next Foundations for Health article.

Introduction to Isaiah 58: The rebuilding process

At a Foundations for Farming Champions Conference in 2006, Sibs Sibanda (now based at God First Church in South Africa) brought a brilliant exposition of Isaiah 58, in which he said, “The context of this passage is a message to the nation of Israel, but it is an admonition and warning to all and is not to be confined to those of any one age. Certainly, for us as God’s new covenant people, this message is applicable and is appropriate for us to allow these words to instruct us today. As we look at Isaiah 58 let’s look at what matters most to God, so that we do not go out simply in great busyness, but go about our father’s work as Jesus did.”

Matthew Henry begins his commentary on Isaiah 58 with these words, “When our Lord Jesus promised to send the Comforter, Jesus added, ‘When he shall come he shall convince (the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgement)’ (John 168:7); for conviction must prepare for comfort, and must also separate between the precious and the vile, and mark out those to whom comfort does not belong. God had appointed this prophet to comfort his people (Isaiah 40:1); here he appoints him to convince them, and show them their sins. He must tell them how very bad they really were.”

Brian Oldreive too has often shared with the champions that they must not fear or reject the Lord’s admonition, because it is always given in His love. Three times in scripture, in Proverbs 3: 11-12, Hebrews 12:6 and Revelation 3:19 the Lord tells us that the one He loves, He rebukes and disciplines. If we respond to the Lord’s chastisement in humility, repentance and obedience, it will result in our great comfort and help. Brian prays that we, as God’s people, are set free by Christ Jesus, joyfully living under grace in His wonderful sanctification process, will allow the Holy Spirit to convince and convict us of our sins, so that this wonderful process of healing, reformation and rebuilding can begin.

For this reason it is very important for us to take time to establish the strongest foundations on which to build. If we diligently follow the Lord’s instructions in this magnificent chapter, He tells us in verse 12, “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”The condition for this to happen is that we approach God with the right attitude of heart, which He calls ‘The True Fast’ (vs. 6 to 10).

Before we embark on this great quest, it is important that we prepare and convince our hearts thoroughly, and we must do so in a theologically sound way, i.e. ‘God’s Way’. God’s truth is the grounds for Unity in Him. It takes courage to face the truth about ourselves, and it especially takes courage to be the ones called by God to declare that truth to God’s people.

Brian prays for this courage for us all.

The vision of Foundations for Family


A church where families loved, really loved each other
A church that children couldn’t wait to get to
A church which was the best place for teenagers to hang out
A church for all ages from grandparents to infants
A church where hurting and bruised people found a warm welcome
A church of loving, faithful married couples
Whose homes were filled with fun and laughter and praise to God
Homes in which children were secure and cared for.
This church would impact a community and change a continent.

That is the vision of Foundations for Family which aims to make God’s plan for family life joyfully central to church life and programmes by celebrating the beauty of family in the purpose of God.

The practical importance of Foundations for Family is grounded in the necessity of good family relationships in the Kingdom of God if our communities are to be transformed.

The spiritual significance of Foundations for Family is based on the character of our God who, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is like a family from eternity to eternity. Human family life flows from our creation as male and female, two-in-one people, in his image and likeness.

The beginnings: Brian and Cath Oldreive's story


On the 1st of October 1982, Brian and Cath Oldreive arrived at Hinton Estate with their five children to begin their new lives and Brian’s new role as manager of the estate. They had just come through two years of fiery testing that had begun with Brian’s promise to the Lord that they would never again grow another leaf of tobacco. They had embarked on growing only food crops on our sand veld tobacco farm in Tengwe, 227 kilometres North West of Harare.

Instead of the anticipated blessing they thought they would receive from following their conscience and obeying God, the Oldreive family had experienced two very severe droughts, which had resulted in them losing almost everything they owned. Looking back on it now, they see that it was a very important preparation in their lives for what was to come.

As they began unpacking their belongings in their new home, they noticed a welcoming card on our bed. It was from Lyn and Judy Everswick, who pastored a church 45 kilometres away in the nearest town, Bindura. The Everswick’s very kind welcoming message ended with Isaiah 58:Lo11 “The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” This was a remarkably prophetic word for the years to come.
Ever since, the whole message of Isaiah 58 has been intricately used by the Lord to guide the Oldreive’s in the vision to which He was calling them. God would soon show them the depths of the poverty of the people of Africa, and would reveal to them His plan to remove this yoke of oppression, and then His blueprint for the rebuilding of a continent in ruination. God would show us the age-old foundations on which the rebuilding would happen, and how this adventure would all begin by teaching them to farm in His way with a faithful, humble and unselfish heart.
This method and process would largely be based on how to preserve and enhance His soil and capture the rain He sends us, to hold it in the soil and to transfer this moisture and His nutrients more efficiently to the plants.

Through this foundational faithfulness, God would also show us a very simple, yet profoundly effective, implementation management system, which would also apply to all other endeavours of production and intent, and which would be so instrumental in His plan to bring Africa out of poverty.