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.