Ignore Body Language – Ignore God

When our daughter was studying for her radiography qualifications, she also had to do a short course which was aimed at making students aware of the importance of body language. The lecturer claimed, and went on to demonstrate, how about eighty percent of people’s communication is actually unspoken, i.e., conveyed by virtue of body language. The course was interesting and kept students on the edge of their seats; it was impressed on them how important it would be to read patients’ body language when they came to radiography under varying degrees of stress and pain.

After she and I talked about this, I pondered this concept of body language some more as regards its importance and implications. In our household we already were fairly keenly attuned to our children’s body language. We addressed negative body language (rolling of the eyes, shrugging of shoulders, and such like) in clear terms as to what was acceptable and what was not acceptable. It became quite clear to us that much silent rebellion in households is expressed—and regrettably unaddressed—in that manner.

Body language has been, and still is, Satan’s tool of choice in cheapening and destroying human relationships. Scripture warns against this very clearly. When the nation of Israel falls into sin, she is more often than not compared to a wanton woman. Thus we read in Isaiah 3:6, “Moreover the LORD saith, ‘Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet…’”

The Lord – as does the devil – attributes much importance to body language, as shown in this and other texts (cf. Prov 7; 2 Sam 11:2; Judg 14:3; Ezek 16). The general tenet implied is that female seduction can mean the downfall of kingdoms and great men. Just so today, plastic surgeons make a mint out of surgery which emphasises the alluring physical attributes of a woman. And so we see a big industry involved in Botox lips, enhanced busts, Botox derrieres, alluring hair colours and compositions, and eye lashes that drop down to the cheek bones.

Fashion designers bluntly declare that their creations are not to clothe, but to allure. Their clothing aims at gilding the parcel to the utmost. The beautiful body is also the great advertising centrepiece for much of the fitness industry and for the selling of home exercise contraptions. God made the body holistically beautiful and attractive (cf. 1 Tim 2:9-10) for the noble purpose of God-centred relationships, notably in marriage (Gen 2:20-25). But this has been powerfully perverted, reduced and demeaned to good looks aimed at body worship and seduction.

However, the way the body speaks still makes a powerful statement about man’s relationship with his Creator, be that person Christian or not.

As I am an avid sports hobbyist, both actively and passively, I also started a conscious observation of sports people and their body language at moments of emotional highs and lows. It is quite telling that a sports person at a moment of high elation will raise the arms skyward in celebration. Conversely, when the goal is not scored in a penalty shootout, the failure will result in a shrinking of the body, a bending of the head in shame or dismay. Looking at the supporters and fellow teammates, one can observe many of these with folded hands and prayer-like posture as the penalty shoot-out is unfolding.

This body language is not only common in the sports arena. It can also be observed in other areas of life, wherever there are emotional moments which demand expressing. A child (and many an adult) will try to go small and often place an arm in front of the face as if to ward off the words of correction firmly addressed. A face will light up and look open in a moment of praise. When dismayed or seriously tired, yet needing to push on, a weary head will be lifted skyward and eyes will look to the heavens.

It makes me wonder why people, while having so many potential ways of expressing emotions, choose to express them by turning towards or away from the heavens. Logically speaking, if a person were totally self-absorbed, he would hug himself passionately in a moment of victory rather than reaching upward and beyond himself. If a person were dismayed with himself, logically he would self-mutilate rather than follow the example of Adam and Eve as they tried to make themselves invisible by diving into the bushes.

Scripture makes clear that a person does not lose his connection with God altogether, but that he is in active denial of this link (Rom 1:18). This shows inadvertently in an unbeliever’s emotionally charged spoken language and in his emotionally charged body language.

In terms of spoken and body language well utilized, i.e., to God’s glory, Jonathan Swift sums the issue up in his well-wishing statement:

“May you live all the days of your life,” Jonathan Swift, Irish writer (1667-1745).

Herm Zandman
FRC Southern River

Grace in a Pandemic

We hoped and prayed that the pandemic would be over by now, but it seems to be far from finished. Instead, we’re living in difficult times, experiencing many challenges and uncertainties. And yet, when it is all over, what will the legacy of this COVID pandemic be?

Will we have built walls? Or will we have grown in love and empathy towards our neighbour?

Will we have allowed Satan to drive a wedge between brothers and sisters in Christ? Or will we have grappled with our sinful hearts and shown humility, gentleness and long-suffering?

Will we have become more fearful and anxious? Or will we have deepened our understanding of ‘trust in God?’

The pandemic has brought about many polarising topics: restrictions, government boundaries and vaccinations, to name just a few. There are many differences of opinion and, it appears, much reason for conflict. Emotions run high. Fear is all around us. Information is propagated widely and incessantly.

And while all this goes on, every one of us battles with our own sinful hearts and flesh. In times like these, it is especially easy to look down on a brother or sister who have reached a different conclusion to us. We very quickly become proud or self-righteous, assuming the ‘higher-position.’ We swiftly make assumptions or judge others – even before speaking with them. We can be bitter or resentful for the way we have been treated or because another’s actions have brought hardship upon our lives. We want to speak and debate with force, pride, anger, fear or impatience.

But the thing is, ultimately, our battle is not with COVID. Right back in the Garden of Eden, God declared what the real battle is. And now in 2022, as Australia deals with a pandemic, Satan is seeking a foothold in our hearts and in our churches. While the government causes segregation and society looks to put their hope and trust in a variety of man-made solutions, it should not be so amongst God’s children.

God calls us to a higher standard of living and behaving. In the midst of difficult circumstances, God commands us to show grace.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Grace can be explained here as ‘comfort, admonition, and everything that aids the salvation of the soul.’ Our attitudes, words, thoughts or actions of pride, anger or resentment are things that build walls, and do not unify Christ’s church. Grace, on the other hand, edifies and enables us to help and love each other while we journey here on earth as pilgrims to the new heaven and new earth.

Grace: for that brother or sister who has spoken harshly to us.

Grace: when we seek out a fellow believer and listen empathetically rather than judging or jumping to conclusions.

Grace: as we walk alongside someone wrestling with the mandate or the vaccine.

Grace: for those who have reached a different conclusion or have different convictions to us.

Grace: when a brother or sister shares their fears of the disease.

Grace: as we pray for and seek to obey and respect the government God has placed over us.

Grace: for those who are burdened by conflicting information, stories and opinions.

Grace: when another believer shares the heartache of being unable to travel and visit with family or loved ones.

Grace: for that brother or sister struggling in the face of work uncertainties or changes brought about by the pandemic.

Yet, there will be times when we are confronted with the sinfulness of our own hearts and lives and when we think or speak with anger or pride or fear. There will be times when we must seek forgiveness from a brother or sister, because we have not acted with grace.

Daily, we are all in desperate need of grace. All praise and thanks to God, who knows this and has more grace for us than we can comprehend.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

With this grace of God in our hearts, let us show grace to one another. Let us pray for His Spirit to work mightily in our hearts so that we can think, speak, and act with grace to one another.

Natika Ballast
FRC West Albany

Listen, my son! Teaching Your Children the Christian Worldview

How do you teach your children? When they were baptised, you promised to teach them the doctrine of the Old and New Testament, to instruct them in a god-fearing life, not loving the world but putting off their old nature. It is a question we cannot evade – as parents we have a responsibility to train and equip the next generation.

But how to do that? Is it enough to give our children some boundaries and let them figure things out for themselves? Or should we have a content-rich curriculum in our homes, a curriculum that covers what a Christian approach to business looks like; how we are to think about western culture; the threats and opportunities provided by technology and how to use it in a God glorifying way; how to spend your money; the place and purpose of sexuality?

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Supporting Families where Children have left the Church

Some time ago I wrote an article about children leaving the church. I mentioned that we should never be comfortable with anyone, young or old, rejecting or denying Christ or His church. Leaving the church or turning one’s back on God is a slap in God’s face, a rejection of His promises.

I asked if we sincerely admonish someone who is going in the wrong direction, on a destructive path? Do we take mutual discipline seriously? Do we ask him if all is well when we find his seat empty again on Sunday? Do we approach him, or would we rather not get involved? Would we perhaps rather not get into an uncomfortable situation and prefer to leave it to others to approach him? Many of us don’t want to get into such a vulnerable situation. It is much easier not to be confronting, and instead to be ‘nice’, isn’t it?

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Day 5: Soaring the Australian Skies

Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” So the evening and the morning were the fifth day. (Genesis 1:20-23)

I love the excitement that day five of God’s creation brought to my life. It is a joy to spend countless hours watching the antics of birds and sea creatures frolic in the habitats appointed to them.

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When God Doesn’t Give Children – 2

The previous article discussed the reality of infertility and gave some insight into the grief that people experience when the longing for children is unfulfilled. Included was an encouragement for all of us to open our eyes to those who are suffering, to be willing to share their pain and be ready to encourage them in the Lord. In this issue I speak directly to those struggling with infertility, although much of what is said applies to suffering in general.

One of the challenges when suffering pain, loss and grief in this life is to have a proper perspective of God, and how we should relate to him. It is often tempting to give in to anger or resentment, whether that is directed to God or others. There are many conflicting emotions to deal with. Travelling the road of infertility forces you to examine what you believe about God and about yourself, and it causes you to become a person who must rely on faith, and learn to put total trust in God as the one who truly sustains.

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Reformed Education: Responsibility of the Parents

To whom belongs the child?
In 1996 Rev. G. Van Popta delivered a speech at a teachers’ convention which was published in Clarion , in which he addressed this question. In it he summarises and evaluates an extensive discussion which our Canadian brothers and sisters had in that time about this question, in which he also addressed the position of the schools.

We now live in a climate in which the state is more and more inclined to claim the authority to teach our children what to believe and how to behave with regards to all kinds of moral issues. It is to be expected that in the coming few years, the state government in Western Australia will be trying to exert its influence more and more on what is being taught in Western Australian schools, how it is being taught, and by whom. It is important to consider the question: where do we stand as Christians? But also: what are the practical implications of this for our schools?

In this article I will look at what the Bible teaches us, and how throughout the history this question has been dealt with. In a second article I hope to come to some conclusions relevant for our own situation.

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When God Doesn’t Give Children – 1

A quick Google search will tell you that more than 1 in 10 couples of child-bearing age will experience fertility problems. Some of these, with or without medical intervention, will receive children. Some will not.

You need to trust these statistics because many infertile couples struggle in silence. The reality is that in our churches there are people sitting in the pews who are struggling with the pain of infertility. In a church culture where marriage and children are expectations, most people fit in with that culture, and those who don’t – well, many of us do not know how to deal with that. Most of us don’t know if we should raise the subject, or what to say if we do. For those who do not receive children, suffering then comes with the added burden of silence and shame. For those who have not experienced infertility, I want to give some idea of what it is like.

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Change Happens in Community

As we study what Scripture tells us about growth, change, and restoration, we learn more and more that the process of healing and restoration happens in the context of community. The New Testament is filled with commands for how we are to live in relation to one another because of the work of God that is happening in us.

The Body of Christ
Jesus gives his disciples the command to love one another (John 13:34; 15:12). A new command, not because loving one another is something new, but because the model for that love is new. John explains this further in his first letter: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). We have the model of God’s love which spills out from our hearts into the lives of those around us: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

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God’s Grace is Always Sufficient

God’s Grace is Always Sufficient

When thinking about depression I am reminded of William Cowper (1731-1800). This name might not be known by many. His loyal friend the ex-slave trader John Newton, though, will certainly be more familiar because he is the author of the popular hymn “Amazing Grace”.

Cowper was often plagued by doubts and melancholy. His depression was so serious that he spent time in an asylum, a place for people who suffered from mental illness. His friendship with John Newton proved to be an enormous blessing for him. John Newton was always at Cowper’s side whenever he needed him. Cowper said, “A sincerer or more affectionate friend no man ever had”.[i] To have true friends when you go through the valley of depression is a real blessing.

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