AI-JA-JAI. GODSDIENS!

AI-JA-JAI. GODSDIENS!

great-fire-of-london

Laat ek sommer met die afskop dit duidelik stel: My geloof is ononderhandelbaar. Ek het ‘n diepgevestigde geloof in ‘n almagtige God wat alles geskape het. Die Bybel vertel dat ons moet glo soos ‘n kind. Dis hoe ek glo. Sonder enige fieterjasies. Ek glo net. Party sal reken soos ‘n skaap . Of dalk erger, want ‘n skaap volg darem dit wat hy kan sien. My geloof is in ‘n Entiteit wat nie gesien of aangeraak kan word nie. Tog beleef ek Hom en sien Hom in alles rondom my. En wanneer ek stil raak, dan “hoor” ek Hom, “voel” ek Hom. (Hom? Daarmee het baie mense ook ‘n probleem. Ek verkies Hom – soos in die Bybel.) Ek kan sy Hand soos ‘n goue draad deur my lewe sien – deur goeie, maar ook deur baie donker tye. My geloof rus op twee pilare: Liefde vir my God en liefde vir my medemens. Ek glo. Dis al.

Maar godsdiens – dis nou egter vir my ‘n heel ander saak , deesdae. Ek verstaan daar is ongeveer ‘n geraamde 10 000 verskillende gelowe op onse aarde. Soos my ou pel eendag gesê het: En elkeen dink sy bende is die beste.

Hierdie artikel gaan eintlik nie om geloof nie. Ek het bloot aan die dink gegaan toe ek verlede week daar by die monument vir die Groot Brand in Londen gestaan het. Vóór ek aangaan met waaraan ek toe staan en dink het, eers bietjie agtergrond.

Toe Thomas Farriner,’n Londense bakker, die Sateragaand, 1 September 1666 doodmoeg tussen die lakens in sy huis daar in Pudding Lane, inkruip, het hy nie kon droom watse skade sy oond daardie nag sou aanrig nie. Hier by 1-uur die nag ontdek Farriner se huiskneg die rookwolke wat uit die kombuis borrel en teen Woensdag van die daaropvolgende week was 70 000 mense dakloos.

Londen het pas ‘n warm, droë somer agter die rug gehad en ‘n sterk oostewind het die vuur vinnig tussen die houthuise deurgestoot. Trae optrede deur amptenare, wat aanvanklik nie die omvang van die vuur besef het nie, het die vuur verder aangeblaas, by wyse van spreke. Om die kroon te span (verskoon die woordspeling) was die afgelope burgeroorlog nog vars in die geheue en het talle oud-soldate van die weermag nog gewere met buskruit in hulle huise gehad – nie ‘n goeie idee wanneer ‘n groot brand ontstaan nie.

Baie mense het hulle kosbare besittings in die St Pauls Katedraal gaan stoor in die geloof dat dit veilig daar sou wees. Maar teen Dinsdag het die vuur ook hierdie 11de eeuse katedraal bereik. Die vuur was teen daardie tyd so intens (tot 1250˚ Celsius) dat die looddak begin smelt het en die hele katedraal in vlamme opgegaan het.

Toe die vuur uiteindelik teen Woensdag geblus is, was 87 kerke, 13 000 huise en talle historiese geboue verwoes. Alhoewel die amptelike dodetal  tussen 6 en 8 mense gewissel het, was dit waarskynlik eerder honderde aangesien daar destyds nie forensiese kundiges was wat die as kon ontleed nie. Dit was eintlik maar net die vooraanstaande mense wie se dood aangemeld is. Tienduisende mense het daardie Woensdagaand kamp opgeslaan in Moorfields, Hampstead en Islington.

Winter was op hande.

Die brand was nou wel geblus, maar gerugte het vlam gevat. Stories is onder die dakloses daar in die kamp versprei dat ‘n lig kort voor die brand in die lug gesien is. Hierdie lig sou ‘n teken vir die 50 000 Franse en Hollandse immigrante in die stad wees om in opstand te kom en al die Engelse mans te vermoor en die vroue te verkrag.

Daardie Donderdag het Koning Charles ‘n bevel uitgevaardig dat die mense eerder die vuur moet blus as om vreemdelinge aan te val, want die vuur was ‘n natuurramp (Act of God) en nie ‘n Paapse (Papist) komplot nie. (“Papist” was ‘n neerhalende term wat gebruik is om Katolieke mee te beskryf, m.a.w. mense wat nie trou aan die “Church of England” was nie.)

Die Engelse was waarskynlik nie verniet agterdogtig nie en het dalk ook ‘n skuldige gewete gehad. Engeland was op daardie stadium in so ‘n aan-af-oorlog met Frankryk en Nederland gewikkel en net twee weke voor die brand het hulle die Nederlandse hawe in Westerschelde afgebrand.

En sowaar, ‘n Fransman, Robert Hubert, daag op en erken dat hy, as ‘n agent van die Pous, die brand begin het (al is dit na sy dood bevind dat hy ten tye van die brand iewers in die Noordsee was). Ten spyte van die hoofregter se bevinding dat die man se verklaring verdraaid is en dat hy nie skuldig kon wees wees nie, is hy op 29 Oktober gehang.

Daardie Franse en Hollandse opstand het natuurlik toe nooit plaasgevind nie en ‘n ander sondebok moes gevind word. ‘n Regeringskomitee is byeen gebring en elke Jan Rap en sy maat is aangemoedig om voor die komitee te kom getuig. Stories wat meestal in die kroeg gehoor is, is oorvertel – stories van ‘n Katolieke komplot. Die komitee het egter uiteindelik beslis dat daar geen gronde vir hierdie gerugte was nie en dat daar geen bewyse van ‘n plan van bose agente, Pape of Franse om die stad af te brand, gevind kon word nie.

Dit het egter nie saak gemaak nie. Die volgende jaar het ‘n boek verskyn – “Pyrotechnica Loyolana Ignatian fire-works”. Die skrywer het aangevoer dat die Katolieke die vuur begin het en dat die Vereniging van Jesus (verbonde aan die Katolieke kerk) deskundiges was in die gebruik van vuurwerke. Die woorde “vuur”, “vlamme” en “buskruit” is deurgaans in die boek uitgelig.

Toe ‘n gedenkplaat in 1681 op die plek waar die vuur ontstaan het, opgerig is, het dit gelees: “Here, by the permission of Heaven, Hell broke loose upon this Protestant city from the malicious hearts of barbarous Papists, by the hand of their agent Hubert, who confessed”. Hier in die 1700’s rond is die plaat egter verwyder, bloot omdat mense in die pad van verkeer gekom het.

Maar ‘n soortgelyke inskripsie op die monument, wat in die 1670’s opgerig is, is eers in 1830 uitgebeitel.

Die monument, ‘n indrukwekkende kolom in Doriese styl, staan vandag nog op dieselfde plek – 62 meter hoog en presies 62 meter van waar Farriner se oond die brand laat ontstaan het. Ontwerp deur die bekende Christopher Wren en Robert Hooke.

edf

Daar word graag aan begeleide toeriste vertel dat daar meer mense gesterf het nadat hulle van die gedenktoring afgeval of gespring het as wat daar in die brand dood is. Wat eintlik nie waar is nie – gegewe die feit dat daar nie van al die mense wat in die brand omgekom het, rekenskap gegee kon word nie.edf

edf

Ja, so staan ek toe die dag daar by die monument en dink. Ai tog, godsdiens!

Hoeveel geweld en verlies aan menselewens was daar nou nie al in die naam van godsdiens nie!

Die Hervorming wat tot verskeie oorloë gelei het en uiteindelik in die Dertigjaar-oorlog gekulmineer het met verlies van duisende lewens regoor Europa.

Die Inkwisisie.

Die voortslepende onrustigheid in die Midde-Ooste.

Die terroristeaanvalle deur Moslem ekstremiste.

Die Bosniese oorlog.

Die geweld in Ierland.

En so kan die lys my rekenaar se stoorplek volmaak.

Godsdiens, so glo ek, is inherent goed, met goeie bedoelings …

… totdat godsdiens ‘n god word.

 

 

Advertisements

ELVES AND DIESEL ENGINES

ELVES AND DIESEL ENGINES

Have you ever stood on a platform at the station while a diesel locomotive effortlessly glides past you? The smooth reassuring rumbling of that immensely powerful machine demands admiration while the trembles of the platform find their way up your legs. You just know that a mighty powerful force is at work here.

I’ve often linked the well-known saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” with this diesel-power and found some inspiration in it. I made myself believe that humanity consists of two main groups: Ordinary Elves (OE’s) and the Tough Diesel Engines (TDE’s). The Ordinary Elves represent the majority of people who are responsible for the normal day to day running of life as we know it. They get ready for work, go to work, do their work, go home, watch TV and go to bed. They are very important because they do just about everything from cleaning our streets, working in the offices, building our cars and houses, to making our clothes, nursing us, teaching us, defending and protecting us. Everything… up to a certain point. The OE’s only work until things start to heat up, when the challenges get more demanding and stress levels start rising.elves

That’s the signal for The Tough Diesel Engines to start up. When the OE’s can’t go any further, the TDE’s take over. You hear that mighty rumble and stand in awe. The TDE’s work, even when others sleep; they seem to get a sadistic pleasure out of problem-crunching. They never ask for pity but, hey, neither will they give a problem any. They don’t know the meaning of surrender; they persevere in the midst of adversities, battle their way onwards, forwards, always forwards.diesel

Are you a TDE or an OE?

One of the South African Defence Force’s elite units has a back-breakingly harsh selection and training program. Many try, but only a few make it to the end. The last phase of the program demands a survival route where the soldiers have to find their way in the most inhospitable environment and under the most unforgiving conditions imaginable. As the days drag by, the group of hopefuls dwindles because at the temporally bases transport is ready for those who wish. It’s your choice: allow the whole exercise to get the better of you and make use of the transport (and get disqualified in the process) or force yourself onward vigorously with the utmost exertion. special-forces-training

One pitch dark night an unfortunate soldier walked straight into a dry twig from a low-hanging tree branch. The twig impaled him in the eye, just missing his eyeball and blood was pouring from his wound. That same night another guy broke his ankle. These two decided not to go for treatment that would have put them at risk of disqualification and, after applying a bit of very basic medical treatment themselves, they pushed on.

As the days progress, you start to lose all sense of time and the only drive, ultimately, is to reach the prearranged rendezvous in time.

Unbeknown to the soldiers, the end of the course was in sight and, after a day with barely enough water supplies, the men reached the rendezvous, semi-conscious, anguished, hungry and dehydrated. The commander came up to them where they were huddled in a cloud of dust, flies and the sweaty smell of protracted scorching days in the bush on them. He addressed them – gesturing while clutching an icy cold beer. Pausing for a moment, he took a long sip, looked at the bottle and then emptied the content onto the absorbing sand, within sniffing distance of the shattered men. The beer was not cold enough.

“Guys,” he said, “I’m going to enjoy a colder one in the base after taking a long hot shower. Anyone care to join me? Transport is ready – anyone?”

Two men cracked then and there and stumbled to the waiting Land Rover. While two others tried to suck the wasted beer from the sand, the commander informed the remaining men that the next day would be the final day of this grueling encounter and that they could expect a barbeque and cold beer at the rendezvous.

With renewed effort and all the strength they could muster, they tackled the final stage.

The next evening, on approaching the rendezvous, the depleted group of men, drained to the bone, noticed a solitary Land Rover, nothing else. The closer they got, the clearer it became: no barbeque-fire, no beer, nothing to eat. Some of them flopped down onto their knees in a cloud of dust and started weeping. During the day they had consumed all their water and rations – no need to save it because, so they had been told the previous night, tonight the end of this phase would be celebrated with plenty to eat and drink. Of the initial squad, only nine had survived. The commander then stepped out of the Land Rover and walked towards the wretched group of men.

“Listen guys, there’s been a misunderstanding and I admit that I’m the one to blame. I got the dates mixed up, and I’m truly, truly sorry. Tomorrow, not today, will be the end of this phase. As a token of my remorse, I’ve brought you a little something to eat. It’s on the Land Rover. I will completely understand if some of you want to go back with me, there’s plenty of space on the Land Rover. The rest of you, get your instructions for tomorrow and something to eat.”

Two men summarily got onto the Land Rover, Their grazed, grey faces, empty eyes sunken into the sockets, told the whole story of disappointment and disillusionment. The remaining seven opened the stainless steel food container – raw cabbage drenched in diesel. No water either, only their instructions. Was it a sadistic smile on the commander’s face as he started the engine? Another guy got onto the vehicle. The remaining six contemplated the long, dry stretch ahead of them, and then started walking.

About two kilometers further, as they came round a hill, they could at first smell it and then they saw it: a campsite with flames from barbeque-fires and cold beers to welcome them. The end of their ordeal!braai

What went through the minds of those guys on the Land Rover? If only they’d held on for two more kilometres – two kilometres stood between them and a victory!tired-soldier

All so often we throw in the towel without really knowing how close we are to success. Isn’t it worthwhile, after all the pain and suffering, to give it one more push? Are we not just two kilometres away from victory?

My mother engraved a saying in my memory and even when the diesel engine wearies, her catchphrase echoes:

NEVER SAY DIE, GET UP AND TRY!

never-say-die

May you experience God’s loving care in the same abundance I have.

God bless.

IF YOU WANT TO READ MORE, THIS E-BOOK CAN BE ORDERED FROM:

  1. Unemployment, you and …

2. Unemployment, You and…

3. Unemployment…

 

Book Cover2

YOU ARE THE MASTER OF YOUR DESTINY

YOU ARE THE MASTER OF YOUR DESTINY

THERE ARE THREE TYPES OF PEOPLE:
THOSE WHO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN,
THOSE WHO WATCH THINGS HAPPEN AND
THOSE WHO WONDER WHAT HAPPENED.
                                                          ANONOMOUS

Believe in yourself. Give yourself a chance. Be daring but not reckless. Listen selectively to other people; ask their advice and opinion and evaluate it with an open mind.

ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM:UNEMPLOYMENT, YOU AND GOD’S RESCUE LADDER

(Advice on how to get back to your feet after life has dealt you a blow. In this case, job loss is used as an example, but the principles can be applied to most setbacks.)

Sometimes a supposed weakness in your make up could be the result of a poor self-esteem or lack of confidence. Perhaps merely a nasty seed that someone planted earlier in your life and now you firmly believe that you have a weakness without ever really putting it to the test.

poor-self-esteem-300x200

If you believe that you are not a good salesperson, then you will definitely not sell anything. But if you decide: Let’s see, if I prepare myself well and I believe in my product and I introduce my own unique style where I focus on honesty, sincerity and excellent service, who knows where I could end up. BUT, then your approach shouldn’t be halfheartedly. No! Go for it, wholeheartedly, enthusiastically and with all the confidence you can muster.  Such an attitude has been the modest start for several contemporary successful people.

i-cannot

If I know deep in my soul that I’m not a strong swimmer, there is no way that I will dive into the deep end of a swimming pool. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I have to stay clear of swimming pools. I can start at the shallow end and on my own, in my own way, learn to swim. Or I can get professional coaching and before you know it, in no time, I will swim confidently at the deep end of the pool.swem

Be sensible when you tackle something on a larger scale, something that will require knowledge, experience or skills if the task involves one of your so-called weaknesses. Do not necessarily avoid it, but rather strive to get as much information, training and understanding about your endeavour as possible, before you attempt it. Start, perhaps, on a smaller scale, move slightly to the shallower end of the swimming pool. The experience will follow inevitably.

This exercise is a lot of fun, but it will lead you to more serious issues. It will make you think; it will teach you about yourself and stimulate your brain into future directions and resolve many past issues. It is a soul-searching experience that will give answers to who you are and what possibilities there are for you.i-can

Change Yourself

This is also a very good opportunity to look at all those things that you have always been meaning to change about yourself. Every one of us has traits that we want to change. Some wish to stop smoking; others try to lose a bit of weight, eat healthier or get fitter. There are people who would like to change their attitude by, for instance, becoming more self-assertive. Most things you want to change about yourself, only you can do. Decide what you want to change and start today by setting attainable goals for yourself. Find support and help if necessary, but for crying out loud, just start. Why not today?

This, conversely, will be a futile exercise if not engaged in positively. Pessimism at this point is one of your major enemies and the enemy will always strive to destroy you. Be warned: do not let this dreadful monster overwhelm you. Concentrate continuously on staying positive. Oh, you will be exposed to setbacks all the time, real hazards, like rolling waves. The tests of true resilience, though, does not lie in the number of times you have been knocked down by these waves, but in the number of times you stood up again after being flattened. Don’t get discouraged when it happens. Learn from your setbacks and get up!

Be on your guard and concentrate not to decline into a pathetic little bundle – filled with self-pity. Think of films that you have seen or even personal experiences with people. You almost get annoyed with those people who feel so sorry for themselves. They seem to feel the world and mankind owe them. This can eventually develop into a serious “illness”. Very soon they don’t want to do or try anything, because “What’s the use?” Everything and everyone is always against them. They have made up their minds beforehand that they will not come up to scratch and the only thing that will make them happy again is when this “everyone and everything” change their attitudes towards them, when the goddess of fortune smiles at them again. Until that happens, they just sit as pathetic little bundles, waiting for some amazing thing to happen.

It is NOT going to happen. YOU will have to make it happen. Let me tell you a secret: the goddess of fortune and the tooth fairy are one and the same. They live with the Sandman and Santa Claus in Never-Never land. Sorry to burst your bubble, but they don’t exist.

make-it-happen

Sometimes we get the impression that some people just have all the luck in the world. This is simply not true. There are two things that we have to realise. One is about perceptions and the other about opportunities.

Let’s have a look at perceptions first.

Suppose your car breaks down. You have had it up to your ears with this heap of scrap. That same day your friend passes you driving a brand new car and the following day you overhear the guy at the coffee table next to you telling his friend about his new entertainment system at home. Immediately you get the impression: How on earth can EVERYBODY afford new things and I have to plod on with my junk-on-wheels? What you don’t know is that this coffee shop-guy has been saving up to buy his entertainment system for years now and that your friend has had an accident, written off his car and compelled by necessity, had no choice but to get a new set of wheels. For the next year or more they will have to tighten their belts to afford the re-payments. What’s more, you have to realise that millions of people will cross your path and from time to time some of those millions of people will buy something new. Not EVERYBODY. Tomorrow your wife will have to buy a new pair of shoes (because by now the old ones are really in shreds) and then the wife of the new-car-friend will envy your wife while thinking: “When last could I buy myself a new pair of shoes?”

Every one of us, therefore, receives the occasional bit of “good fortune”.  You may only have the PERCEPTION that other people have more “good fortunes” than you, but dig a little deeper and decide for yourself if you would swap roles with them and have all their “bad luck” together with all their “good fortunes”.

What about opportunities?

oppurtunity

Every one of us has opportunities. Not necessarily the same opportunities, but opportunities none the less. The supposedly “fortunate, chosen ones” have developed a way of spotting an opportunity when it presents itself and what’s more, they grab these opportunities. How many times have we been in a position to risk something, but then we hesitate and the opportunity vanishes? Sometimes, subsequently, we are relieved that we didn’t take the risk, but often another person takes a similar chance and reaps huge rewards from it. It is a fact that, very often, risks lead to failure. That’s true, but this is where the big difference between “pathetic little bundles” and successful people becomes apparent.  Pathetic little bundles think: “O gosh, not again! I should have known; I don’t know why I even bother any more. I am a washout”. Then they flop down in the dumps, disappointed and angry.

The successful people, after a failure, think: “Oops”.

That’s it. Then they immediately set off on the look-out for a new opportunity. Oh, you know, to compensate for the “slight mishap”.

You will have down times.

You really have to be made of rock or iron not to have the occasional down time. Hey look man, you are human; you do have feelings and a heart. Allow yourself such a blue mood. Cry if you want to. Permit a moment or so to feel a little sorry for yourself, but don’t drag it out; that is when you will sink.

What really helped me when I hit the depths was to break away. It often came about at the very time when I could least afford a break. My conscience was shouting at me: “Hey! What on earth are you thinking? There’s work to be done. The whole place will fall apart if you take a break now!”

Nonetheless I took some time off.

So, what did I do then? I went to the movies during cheap time. Or I went to a tranquil spot, lit a fire and put a sausage on the grill. In the city where I lived there were these glorious botanical gardens. I sometimes went there for a jog or just to spend the afternoon amongst the luscious plants and shady trees. The important thing is to do something that distracts your attention from your heavy heart. Do something therapeutic where you can destroy the vicious circle of your thoughts. As soon as you have achieved that, start putting together new elevating thoughts.

Talk to God, talk to Him out loud. Tell Him how you feel, what you are experiencing. Tell Him also how you would like it to be and what you are doing to accomplish that. Before long you will find that, between you and God, you set off to sort things out. Life will begin to fall into place and solutions for many problems will start to emerge. If you trust God with your problems and ambitions, He sows seeds that will grow in your thoughts and bear all sorts of clever solutions. It is not as if you are asking Him to solve the problem for you and you don’t try and solve it on your own. You do it together. Go ahead, try it.

praat

When I got back home or to the office again after such a session, nothing had really disintegrated. Everything was still there. I could, after all, afford to take a break. Then I tackled the challenges with renewed eagerness.

So, if you take a bit of a dip, when dark clouds start to gather, don’t give up. Just take a break. Go down on your knees (just as far as your knees, not on your stomach, curled up in that pathetic little bundle that people make doormats from) and hand all your troubles over to God. person-under-doormatStay on your knees so that it is easier for you to stand up straight when you have regained your strength.

During such a break you get to learn a lot about yourself. It gives you the opportunity to distance yourself somehow from the problem; to view the problem rather as an outsider. From a distance, subsequently, the problem doesn’t appear that big at all.

Ultimately, you have the chance of a moment alone – with yourself, to sort yourself out.

IF YOU WANT TO READ MORE, THIS E-BOOK CAN BE ORDERED FROM:

1. UNEMPLOYMENT, YOU AND GOD’S RESCUE LADDER

2. UNEMPLOYMENT, YOU, AND …

3. UNEMPLOYMENT, YOU AND …

Book Cover2

YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS LIFE

bergklim

YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS LIFE

WHEN IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO CHANGE OUR CIRCUMSTANCES, IT IS WELL WITHIN OUR POWER TO CHANGE OUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS OUR CIRCUMSTANCES.
Hennie Zeelie. Translated from Deur ‘n ander bril. Lux Verbi

My attitude to my circumstances very often dictates my actions as well as the end result.

At some stage or another in our lives, we have all been touched by astonishing accounts of people who have risen above their circumstances. When I find myself in such a position, though, it is not always that easy to be objective about it.

(THIS IS AN EXTRACT FROM MY E-BOOK, UNEMPLOYMENT, YOU AND GOD’S RESCUE LADDER )

I remember one occasion while I was in the army during the bush war in Angola. We were on a grueling, lengthy patrol and after nine stressed days filled with intense concentration, surviving on ration packs and carrying heavy kit, drenched after a heavy thunderstorm, we decided to set up camp for the night. Most of us, whacked and fed-up, slouched down onto the driest wet spot, propped up against our backpacks. One chap cynically-sarcastic remarked:

“Here I am, plodding along like a wet dog in the mud while some lucky blighter” – not his actual choice of words – “is making out with my girlfriend under a warm duvet – stuffed to his eyeballs with pancakes and hot coffee!”patrollie

A grunt, loosely translated into, “We hear you…” came from the squad. One of the guys who was on guard, sitting on a huge boulder a couple of yards away, sardonically replied:

“They can make out all they want, but they don’t have the view that I’ve got here.”

We all got up to have a look. Where he was positioned on that boulder, he had a panoramic view of a gorge framed by the most stunning rainbow. It was so breathtakingly beautiful that the whole incident has remained with me till this day.rainbow

While the rest of us immersed ourselves in our own miserable thoughts, one man – who was in the same boat as the rest of us – drew inspiration from the most spectacular view.

In the original musical, Time, by Dave Clarke the character, Akash – brilliantly played by the late Sir Laurence Olivier, delivers the following verdict:

Throughout the universe there is order
In the movement of the planets, in nature
and in the functioning of the human mind.
A mind that, in its natural state of order,
is in harmony with the universe
and such a mind is timeless.

 Your life is an expression of your mind.
You are the creator of your own Universe –
For as a human being, you are free to will whatever
state of being you desire through the use of your
thoughts and words.
There is great power there.
It can be a blessing or a curse –
It’s entirely up to you.
For the quality of your life is brought about
by the quality of your thinking –
think about that.

Thoughts produce actions –
look at what you’re thinking.
See the pettiness and the envy and the greed and the
fear and all the other attitudes that cause
you pain and discomfort.
Realize that the one thing you have absolute
control over is your attitude.
See the effect that it has on those around you
for each life is linked to all life
and your words carry with them chain reactions
like a stone that is thrown into a pond.

If your thinking is in order,
your words will flow directly from the heart
creating ripples of love.
If you truly want to change your world, my friends,
you must change your thinking.
Reason is your greatest tool,
it creates an atmosphere of understanding,
which leads to caring which is love

Choose your words with care.
Go forth … with love.

Thoughts, all our actions (except reflexes) originate in our minds. Consider for a moment that action can also be to do nothing. You actively decide to do nothing about a situation. Our attitude towards other people too, or even particular issues, is being controlled by our thoughts. If you don’t feel like facing someone today, it is your mind duping you into believing that you have some grudge, dislike or perhaps envy against that person. Or if you keep shunning a specific task, it is your mind preventing you from getting on with it. Your mind tells you that you can’t do it or you wouldn’t like it or it’s much better to take a nap or something. No-one else. And who controls your mind? You! It can indeed be manipulated by external factors – if you allow it – but ultimately you are in control of your mind.

In a restaurant, on a napkin, I once read the following striking words:

In each of us, two natures are at war – the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them and one of them must conquer. But in our hands lies the power to choose – what we want most to be, we are”.

How do you feel about your current situation, what does your mind tell you? If you think you are crestfallen then you will feel depressed. If you think you are in high spirits, you will be motivated.mind-maze

Thoughts should not, however, be confused with dreams, day dreaming. If I dream of how I will be a successful businessman, then I am not one yet.

Dreams are good. They provoke thoughts. But only real thoughts set actions in motion. It changes your attitude, your mind set, your approach and your actions.

A lot of us don’t know what or where we want to be. We do know what we do not want to be. I do not want to be in jail. I do not want to be a failure. That is a fact.

So what do I want to be?

Content? Happy?

When will I be happy? Ah, now we are getting somewhere.

What will have to change, what will have to take place, before I declare:

Now I have reached the pinnacle of happiness”?

happiness

I can now dream on…

Or I can start thinking, putting thoughts in motion, plan, and act.

I think – and this is merely a personal view – people are at their happiest when they are successful. A successful marriage, a successful career, a successful relationship with your Creator, in short, we will be happy when we have a successful, well-balanced life. Is this an illusion? I don’t think so.

It all depends on how you measure success. If success has a material basis, it will always be a dream because everything with a material basis is transient, it is insatiable. I have never come across someone who has got enough money. I still have to meet a lady who is pleased with her appearance (her eyes are too small, her hips are too wide, too many wrinkles, too much of this or too few of that). I also haven’t met a man yet who is happy with his car (for more than a week). As soon as the new model is unveiled, he starts itching.

Do not read into this that a man should not have a new car or that a lady should not try and look her best and that you should not have a healthy bank balance. Have it, work for it, and go for it. But do not measure your success against it. All of these are side-issues. Soon it’s yesterday’s news and then all of a sudden you don’t feel successful any longer. Oh, other people, your neighbours and friends, could still perceive you as successful, but deep inside you will feel discontented, hungry for more.

One often sees this in the glitter and glamour world of super rich so-called celebrities. They undergo expensive procedures to change their appearance; they buy the most expensive houses and jewellery, top of the range yachts and cars and marry the most beautiful people. How long does it last? Marriages are over before the third kiss. Very soon the car is too old and the house across the street has a swimming pool installed that is bigger than theirs. It is then when those people, in their quest for happiness, very often find comfort in something else like drugs and alcohol and subsequently find themselves being rejected by society as failures or depart this life, lost and lonesome.

So, what is success, in other words, when will you be happy?

The starting point for judging success is, first of all, peace with yourself. When you have forgiven yourself for all the mistakes of the past and left them there – in the past. When you have asked God to forgive you for all the wrongdoings in the past and then accepted His mercy. When you have put right all the injustice you have done to other people. Then you can move forward. Forget about the past! Focus on today and the road ahead.

You will be at peace with yourself when you, in all conviction, can pronounce that at this moment you are giving it your everything. No matter what you are doing, you are giving it your best, whether it’s your marriage, your relationship with your children, your work, or your leisure time – nothing less than your best.

You will absolutely give it your best when you do it sincerely, in honour and glorification of His name. When you do it as if He is sitting in front of you or accompanying you, witnessing every move you make. You wouldn’t dare skimp your work while the boss is keeping an eye on you, would you? Well, God is with you, every moment of your life. He sees and hears everything you are doing.

You will, in addition, be at peace with yourself if, after giving a challenge your best shot, you acknowledge the result; even if it is not the result you anticipated. The result is achieved, end of story. Nothing can be done to change it. It belongs to the past and not all the tears in the world will bring about another outcome. Try again; go back to the drawing board. Start afresh.

Success is furthermore not measured by the number of people you have passed and how many people you have beaten, but by the number of people you have brought with you. That is the test of real success. When, one day, you arrive in front of the gates of heaven, puffing and sweating in your snazzy car, rather smug because you have beaten so many people, God will not look at your car and your clothes and your wallet with appreciation and congratulate you. No, He will ask: “Why are you alone? Where are the other people, your children, your friends, your business partners?”people-in-a-car

You perform several roles during your lifetime. Child, parent, employee, employer, friend – maybe you are chairperson or captain or in charge of some group or another. During your lifetime you will, through your many roles, touch the lives of thousands of people. Your touch will bring sad or happy memories. How will people remember you? If you look back on the footprints you have left over the years, how many people have followed you and where have you lead them.

You don’t necessarily have to be a born leader with an awe-inspiring personality. You can take the lead by just taking someone’s hand, by being there to share in joys but also in the agony of people. You can lead by example. Don’t tell people what to do, show them by setting an example through your values and principles. Start with your family, then your workplace and widen your circle to reach friends, extended family and your surroundings. Be an asset to all those you come into contact with. Spread the love of Jesus which you have been blessed with in abundance.mother-theresa

My dear mom hasn’t got the personality of an Oprah Winfrey or Hillary Clinton. In fact, she soon gets in a flurry if it just looks as if the spotlight is aiming in her direction. She neither has strings of qualifications and titles behind her name, nor safes full of money. I believe, however, that when one day she arrives in heaven, our heavenly Father will be waiting for her with a big smile and say: “Welcome home, precious child, you utterly deserve what awaits you here in my house.” As a devoted mother she gives her utmost and as wife (when my dad was still alive) she gave nothing less. The love she puts in cooking and baking can almost be tasted. Her principles and values are being met with the greatest admiration by everyone she interacts with. People follow in her footsteps. As mother, grandmother, wife, friend – in all her roles, she spreads love. Her life is successful.

Success depends very little, if at all, on luck. Success is earned; you have to work for it. Opportunities present themselves from time to time to all of us. Successful people like the rest, experience lucky shots but also disappointments. The difference with them, however, lies in their persistent and devoted pursuing of a pre-determined goal. They forge opportunities into good fortune. Success does not come overnight. It takes time and is usually the result of sustained hard work. The legendary golfer, Gary Player, once remarked: “The harder I practice, the luckier I get.”

Ask yourself: “What can I do that is different? How can you bring about change?”

I once read somewhere, I’m not sure where, that successful people do what other people hate to do and they do it fervently. Success is something that you have to achieve yourself. It is to work while other people rest; carry on even though you are disheartened; hold on in the midst of setbacks, ever reaching for that beckoning winning-post. Success starts with a dream, an ambition… seeing something different and better in the everyday drudgery, and ultimately realising your dream through endurance and perseverance.

A last thought on success and successful people. Learn from the mistakes of others. Successful people make countless mistakes and go through tough times as well, but it is during times like these where character is formed and becomes apparent.  At one stage or another you will suffer a loss or endure a terrible knock, but it is then that the men are separated from the boys.

Work according to predetermined work or business ethics based on your Christian values and standards. In the long run there is only one road to follow: the honest, straight way. Be truthful with your bank manager, your suppliers, your employees, your customers, with everybody. Yes, and also with yourself!

You will have to deal with so many problems that will automatically cross your path anyway – why multiply them unnecessarily? Poor or inadequate service and work result in problems. Something that has been dealt with efficiently and properly the first time round brings satisfaction – to you and the customer.

It is easy telling someone to stay positive, but in reality it is much different. Yet, we can at least try to have a positive outlook. Two very well-known songs always soothed my wounds and aching heart during times of pain and distress:

Smile when your heart is aching, smile even though it’s breaking…SMILE”.

When you are down in the dumps and your heart really aches, try putting on a brave face with a smile to wipe that frown away. Smile through those pressed lips. Even look at yourself in the mirror when you smile. See how long you can keep the smile. When people enquire about your welfare, make an effort to tell them, with a smile on your face: “I am very well, thank you”. Always very well. It is ever so painful, for you as well as those around you, to be reminded of all your problems. People tend to steer clear of those who are always complaining and moaning.smile

When I feel like exploding from bottled up distress and pain and desperately need to share it with someone, I share it with my Heavenly Father and tell it to my dear better half (as I will explain in the next chapter) and/or I go to my best friend or confidant and get it out of my system. I do not share it with everyone-and-his-friend. It is neither good for me, nor for my relationship with other people.

Another song that inspires me during low periods is the familiar elevating rhythm of…

 When upon life’s billows
You are tempest tossed
When you are discouraged
Thinking all is lost
Count your many blessings
Name them one by one
And it will surprise you
What the Lord has done

Choir:
Count your blessing
Name them one by one
Count your blessings
See what God has done
Count your blessings
Name them one by one
Count your many blessings
See what God has done

 Are you ever burdened
With a load of care
Does the cross seem heavy
You are called to bear
Count your many blessings
Every doubt will fly
And you will be singing
As the days go by

Choir:

 When you look at others
With their lands and gold
Think that Christ has promised
You His wealth untold
Count your many blessings
Money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven
Nor your home on high

Choir:

 So, amid the conflict
whether great or small
do not be discouraged
God is over all
Count your many blessings
Angels will attend
Help and comfort give you
To your journey’s end

Choir:

Words by Johnson Oatman, 1897

I hum it, I whistle it and I put it into practice. I make a mental list of each and everything I can be grateful for today: health, full belly, friends and family who care for me…

Go on, make your own lengthy list. Show gratitude towards God for all the blessings with which he is showering you in abundance despite the fact that we don’t deserve a single one of them.

Try these ideas to stay positive. Think of ways to keep your positivity alive. Nurture the flame of hope and faith.

Something that will often impact upon your outlook on life is when things are not going your way and you start to ask: Why? Why are things going wrong? Why me? I am trying so hard…

I answered my own query this way:

My whole life I have always been up for a challenge. I thrive on challenges.

I have realised very early in my life that, academically, I am not the world’s best student. In fact, I think after all these years some of my teachers – those who are still alive – probably wake up in the middle of the night screaming in cold sweat when they have flash-backs of me in their classrooms. Despite my academic record, I decided to go to university, part-time. And with grace from Above, I even finished a post-graduate degree.

Ever since I was in primary school my physique was such that no-one would ever confuse me with Mr Universe. This motivated me during my compulsory military training to put myself to the test in the Parachute Battalion, known to be one of the most gruelling training courses in the army.valskermbataljon

What am I trying to tell you? How smart I am? Absolutely not!

I want to tell you that I was – and still am – willing to commit myself to challenges despite knowing my shortcomings. I acknowledged the fact that I would have to sacrifice a lot and that I would endure some rather tough times (when I completed my studies it felt as if I had been released from prison!). I realised that it would require exceptional effort from me, but I was nevertheless prepared to do it… in reaching my own, personal goals.

When I, therefore, go through a demanding period in life or crisis situation, I put it down as just another training course that God has put me on – a demanding one; even more demanding than my part-time studies or my training at Parachute Battalion. God has selected me personally for this challenge because He knows I like challenges. Wasn’t I willing to make huge sacrifices for the sake of my own goals? Will I not therefore be willing to make even bigger sacrifices when God’s goals are at stake? For that reason God puts me on a course, to train me, to prepare me, to give me knowledge and muscle, first-hand experience and understanding for a very important mission that He has installed for me at a later stage. But if I am not qualified and equipped, I will not be able to do it.

Wow! God must have seen something in me, for today I admit that I truly feel honoured because on more than one occasion God considered me the ideal person for a job he wanted accomplished. He reckoned that I would be strong enough to complete the demanding course. And, boy, did I go on many courses!

Determination

Determination

I never wanted to disappoint God, so I really gave it my utmost under testing circumstances.

God will never expect more from you than you are capable of. You will be surprised to discover what you and He together really can accomplish. Give it a go. Your Coach will go with you, all the way. Trust Him. He knows what you are going through. Remember, He also went through excruciating suffering.

Get your thoughts in order. Focus on God.

Book Cover2

 

Unemployment, You and God’s Rescue Ladder

Click to view

Lay-offs, retrenchments, liquidations and other dreadful words to this effect are today’s buzzwords. This book endeavours to motivate those unfortunate people in a down-to-earth, practical way to overcome the trauma of sudden unemployment and take the entrepreneurial way forward. Based on Christian principles, it illustrates how to “build a rope ladder” – with “materials” at hand – to free you from the dark, black hole of unemployment.

INTRODUCTION: THE ROPE LADDER
After losing my job, I found myself at the bottom of a dark, black well. God reached out to me, a sorrowful bundle of despair and I saw His two arms as two ropes. My eyes were opened to all the God-given resources around me – assets I could use as rungs for a rope ladder to escape this hole of misery. Each following chapter deals with a rung.

RUNG 1: YOU
As God’s creation you are unique – purpose-built, equipped with distinctive talents, abilities and gifts. Do you know what they are? This chapter will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, how to optimise the former and deal with the latter.

RUNG 2: YOUR FAITH
With “real life” illustrations of God’s helping hand, this chapter aims to reinforce (and re-establish) faith in the almighty God. It also leads the reader to (re-)discover a day-to-day relationship with God.

RUNG 3: YOUR ATTITUDE
My attitude to my circumstances very often dictates my actions as well as the end result. The reader is led to see how attitudes can change circumstances and, conversely, how attitudes can sometimes prevent you from reaching your potential or obtaining your goals.

RUNG 4: YOUR SPOUSE
The impact of unemployment on the reader’s spouse and the potential harm it can bring to a marriage are highlighted in this chapter with suggestions to keep the marriage on the right track. A letter to the reader’s spouse (which can be given to the spouse to read) is included in this chapter. The letter explains the emotions, fears and everyday-conflicts the unemployed person faces and what support the spouse can give.

RUNG 5: YOUR HOUSEHOLD
Demands of modern day life with peer pressures, particularly, on teenagers, can devastate a family if not heeded. Practical hints and ideas are presented on how to break the news to the family, getting the family involved in tackling the setback and how to steer the family to safe ground.

RUNG 6: YOUR FRIENDS
A short passage to demonstrate the role that friends play in your life – “friends” who will abandon you, but also those gems that will support you during your troubled times.

RUNG 7: YOUR COMMUNITY
Your community is an untapped treasure. This chapter briefly illustrates what an important role the community can play during troubled times. A few suggestions on how to engage with your community are outlined.

RUNG 8: YOUR PLANNING
Without using too much theoretical (academic) jargon, the reader is introduced to simple planning techniques. These guidelines are applicable not only to a business environment, but particularly to bring order into an upside-down life again.

RUNG 9: YOUR TIME
Time is an inevitable requisite for planning and for this reason the reader is alerted to pitfalls and other threats that should be taken note of in order to prevent unnecessary wasting of time.

RUNG 10: YOUR MONEY
Practical hints are given about financial matters, both for personal and business purposes.

CONCLUSION: YOUR’E OUT… NOW WHAT?
Although the reader has managed to get out of the depths of that gloomy, dark hole, he has to realise that he is now standing on the first step of a new episode in his life. Brand new challenges lie ahead. The reader is given an inkling of what to expect from suppliers, friends, life, mood swings and many more.

EPILOGUE: ELVES AND DIESEL ENGINES
Unemployment, You and God’s Rescue Ladder concludes with a final inspirational account of the hardships, disappointments and ultimate victory of an army platoon during training.

My Octopus

MY OCTOPUS

manifestation-miracle

Many years ago the most astounding thing happened to me, a miracle. It was so extra-ordinary that, for many years, I struggled with the question: Why did it happen to me?

I was a young man living in South Africa, unmarried and my income was nothing to be envious of. Like any young man, I dreamt of my own house and so I bought a piece of land, a beautiful plot on which I had to pay monthly instalments. Every month the levies and taxes had to be paid as well. Shortly after that I got married and moved into a rented flat with my new bride. Then my pocket truly started to feel the strain: Flat rental, instalments on my loan for the plot, levies and taxes and all the usual added expenses that come with a wedding (furniture, honeymoon, ring, etcetera, etcetera…).

We have all, at one stage in our lives had something that clings to our shoulders like a big octopus. “One day” I am going to run a marathon. Another person wants to go overseas, “one day”; or, “one day” starts a business. This vague ambition just hangs there round your neck, dragging you down and, until you actively do something about it, that’s all it does – just weighs you down. If you see someone jogging, you think: “One of these days…” Or if a travel brochure slips out of the newspaper and you longingly look at the inviting idyllic pictures of foreign destinations, you think: “One of these days…”

octopus-backpack-1

My octopus was a house on the plot that I was still paying off – I constantly dreamt of my own house on that piece of land. When I saw a truck with a load of bricks or trusses, I felt the grip of this weight around my shoulders. Or when a building society dangled their mortgage rates with alluring advertisements in my face, I felt the tentacles tightening. My wife and I even went so far as having the plans drawn up.

empty-plot

But, with the war going on between my income and liabilities, I just couldn’t imagine my dream house ever becoming a reality. So the situation dragged on until one day when I decided enough is enough and took the day off. With the building plans, bank statements and all the determination I could gather I went to see anyone who could possibly advise me on what would be the best route to realise my dream. Banks, building societies, an architect, building contractors, a quantity surveyor…and I gathered information, a bulky folder full of it.

That night, after supper, I sat down with all the collected information and I processed it. Much later that night (could have been early morning) I came to the conclusion that, if I could get R10 000 (that is South African Rands) for one week, I could build my house – but where would I get such an amount (quite a fair amount for those days!). I didn’t know anyone who could lend me that sort of money. I hadn’t got any security for a loan and, after all, financial institutions would be very reluctant to lend me money for a week only.

Mulling over this problem I went to bed with absolutely no sign of sleep as my brain was running in overdrive.

puzzle_man_house

“R10 000! How will I raise such a vast sum? Can I pray for it? Maybe, but then again, how many people on earth went to bed tonight on an empty stomach and I want to ask for R10 000! Yet, in Matthew 7:7 God promises: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Yes! I am going to ask.”

Then I went onto my knees and I prayed for God to give me R10 000 for a week. After finishing my prayer, calmness descended upon me and I peacefully fell asleep.

I was employed by a university at that time and we had a spacious tearoom where most staff members went during a tea break.  My boss and I however, chose to have our tea served by the secretary in his office so that we could discuss important matters like the weekend’s rugby scores, latest films and books or even sometimes the forthcoming faculty meeting – always in the office, never in the tearoom.

That day (following my struggle the previous night) was no different – initially. Like every day, most people went to the tearoom, and we had our tea served in my boss’s office. By the way, at this stage it is important to mention that absolutely no-one knew about my R10 000 or the previous night’s struggle.

I was just about to take a sip of tea, when my boss announced out of the blue that, for some reason he would like to have tea in the tearoom that day and he wanted me to join him because he didn’t want to go there on his own.

tea

For the first time in all my time working there, it so happened that we went to the tearoom to have tea.

In the tearoom people sat around these low coffee tables scattered with magazines and newspapers, chatting and discussing the latest happenings. My boss engaged in a conversation with the professor next to him while I was stirring my (new) cup of tea, intensely absorbed in my thoughts, pondering on my R10 000. Opposite me a professor noticed my absence of mind. He wasn’t particularly well-known to me, I only knew him from greeting in the hallways.  He commented that he could see my thoughts were miles from the tearoom which triggered the rest of the conversation: about my excursion the previous day, my tussle with all the information and finally my conclusion that R10 000 stood between me and my dream.

Then he said: “Young man, this has got to be the hand of God that brought us together here today. You know, I seldom come to the tearoom. I usually have tea in my office, but today is the maturity date of one of my investments and I was hoping to see old Gerald here so that I could prod him for a bit of advice on how best to re-invest my money.” (Gerald was professor of Economics). “What’s even more intriguing is the amount of my investment: R10 000, exactly! You can have it for as long as you need it.”

For a moment I was speechless – a complete stranger offering me R10 000 without any security or guarantee, nothing. To cut a long story short, the next day he brought me the cheque, which I used to settle the outstanding balance on my loan for the plot which I could then use as security for a building-loan. The loan was approved within a week allowing me to make the first withdrawal: R10 000 to settle my dues with the professor (interest free!). I was owner-builder (a builder friend advised and assisted where necessary) and six months later my wife and I took up residence in our brand new house. 

For many years I contemplated why God had answered that particular prayer of mine so easily and so quickly – until, later in life, it dawned on me. I often prayed for – according to me – equally worthy issues, in just as righteous a way as the R10 000, often without apparent success. When old Satan then tried to delude me into believing prayer is a futile act, I could banish him by remembering how God, when I was a young man, indeed answered my prayer and gave me R10 000. God listens! I have proof.

I also learned another valuable lesson from this episode. We often ask God to give us a house, for instance, but God has another way of working. He is keen to give it to you, but not just like that. No, you too have to do something.

If someone had told me before this amazing experience that God is going to give me R10 000 for a week in order for me to build a house, I would most probably have sniggered and said: “A doll’s house, maybe. What else can you build with R10 000? And after a week, do I have to return the doll’s house?”small-house

After doing a bit of research, though, and putting in some effort, God opened my eyes to bring me to the conclusion that, with borrowed R10 000, my dream could become a reality. Trust God with your dreams, but never expect Him to deprive you of the satisfaction of partaking in the accomplishment of them.praat

IF YOU WANT TO READ MORE, THIS E-BOOK CAN BE ORDERED FROM:

  1. UNEMPLOYMENT, YOU AND GOD’S RESCUE LADDER
  2. UNEMPLOYMENT, YOU AND…
  3. UNEMPLOYEMENT, YOU…
Book Cover2

Click to view