In this time of national tribulation it is crucial for us as children of the Most High God to be His instruments of love by standing firm in our identity in Jesus Christ rather than a self-consciousness derived from our culture, the language we speak, colour of our skin, traditions we inherit, or our nationality. This was a strong message to come out of Karoo Mighty Men Conference 2016 (KMMC 2016).
The importance of love in the lives of followers of Jesus Christ was emphasised in no uncertain terms when Angus Buchan, who led the Sunday morning family session at the sixth KMMC, started his message by saying that love is what differentiates Christianity from all other religions.
“Do you know how we spell love,” asked the founder of the Mighty Men Conference movement.
“We spell love J E S U S. And if you have no love in your heart, I don’t care where you come from, how many degrees in theology you have, or what family background you have, you do not know Jesus.”
The farmer-evangelist told the crowd that DL Moody said a man may be a very good doctor without loving his patients, a good lawyer without loving his clients, a good geologist without loving science, but he cannot be a good Christian without love.
“It is all about love. We are talking about the love of God.
“Jesus loves all men and He wants us to love them just like He does. He told us to love God and to love our neighbours.
“That is what Christianity is, a people saturated with the love of God.”
Uncle Angus told the men to go home and show their wives they love them.
“Don’t tell her that you love her show her that you love her.
“We have to go home and start to live out love in our families.
“The hardest place to be a Christian is in your own home, but that is changing today. We are going home to apologise for our arrogance and pride. We want our children to love and respect us, we want to change.
“Jesus said unless a man is born again he will never see the Kingdom of God. What does that mean? It means we need to change.
Love at home
“It is very easy to raise our hands here and say, ‘Halleluiah brother’ and all the rest of it, but we have to replicate the love we have experienced here, at home.
“You can’t change the government, you can’t change the weather, you can’t change the value of the Rand, but what you can change is your relationships within your family and when you change your family, this country will be changed.”
The tell-it-like-it-is preacher asked the crowd: “Do you know what is keeping men out of the Kingdom . . . hypocrisy.
“Some guys say to me, ‘I don’t want any of this Christian stuff, because I know people that say they are Christians, but I don’t see any love in them, I don’t see any forgiveness, I don’t see any understanding’.
“Yet, in 1 Corinthians 13 the Word of the Lord says, ‘Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but I do not have love, I am nothing’.
“Our religion is motivated by love, self-denial and going the extra mile.”
Uncle Angus carried on reading from 1 Corinthians 13: 3-13 “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing”.
“Love suffers long, and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, and thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
“Love never fails: but whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it shall vanish away . . . And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love”.
“We need to start exercising pure undiluted love.
“Don’t tell people that you love them show them that you love them. “Amen!” he exclaimed.
Uncle Angus said the Bible tells us clearly to love our fellow man, love our enemies, and pray for those who oppress us.
“An eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth does not work. If we implemented it there would be nobody with any eyes and nobody with any teeth.
“We need to love one another.”
He said the loneliest place to be in the world is where love is absent from the human heart, which is the reason we need the love of God in our heart.
Uncle Angus stressed the importance of having purpose in our lives and knowing the meaning of life.
He said that a psychiatrist once wrote that the difference between finding the meaning in life and being depressed is very simple: depression equals suffering without meaning.
“We are all suffering, either from a physical ailment, a bereavement, the loss of a job, a business that is about to go bankrupt, or maybe you have lost your joy and are suffering.
“If you suffer for nothing, if there is no purpose, meaning or vision in your life, what is the point? That is where depression comes in.
“But, when you have meaning and purpose in your life you are able endure the suffering, because you know your identity in Jesus Christ and you know your purpose.
“We know who we are in the Lord Jesus Christ, oh yes!
“We are sons of God. And we know our purpose, which according to The Westminster Confession of Faith is very simple: to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
“If you don’t know God you can never love anybody,” said Uncle Angus and encouraged all present to look for the meaning of life in God alone.
Honouring God’s Word
Opening the conference on Friday night, Free State University economist and author Dr Arno van Niekerk said when South Africans honour God’s Word the Lord will bring restoration to the country.
He read from Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”.
“The Word of God has two edges, one for our own hearts to make sure they are pure before the Lord, and the other to cut down the strongholds of the enemy,” said Van Niekerk.
He underlined the importance of uniting in our diversity as South Africans and Africans through our identity in Jesus Christ, which defines us, and said our diversity in skin colour, language and culture blends into a unique unity in Christ.
“The Lord wants to use our diversity of cultures to bring healing, while the enemy wants to use our diversity to divide us. His tactic is to divide and rule.
“It is time that we as South Africans discover that our identity in Jesus Christ is above our cultural or racial identity. Our identity in Christ is what unites us in the Spirit.
“We are called to unite in the body of Christ and be His messengers,” said Van Niekerk.
He urged mighty men to rise up, understand God’s purposes and fulfil them in South Africa.
“We need to understand the times and see God’s plans for the country, only then can we lead the nation forward.
“God has a plan for South Africa, nowhere else in the world do tens of thousands of men come together on a regular basis for only one reason and that is Jesus Christ. When we understand His purposes and His promises then we can lead the nation.”
Van Niekerk warned that there is a trend to water-down the strength of God’s Word by questioning whether the content of the Bible is really God’s words, which is an attempt to disarm God’s children.
“There is an onslaught against our faith in terms of watering it down and letting truth fall on the ground. The authority of the Bible is being attacked,” he warned.
“We need to stand up and declare the Word of the Lord. He has called us to be instruments of healing and forgiveness.
“We have to overcome the racism still prevalent in the land through forgiveness. You cannot be a Christian and racist, because we all share an identity in Christ,” he added.
Pastor Louis Els, who brought the Word of God to the Saturday-night session of KMMC 2016, concurred with Van Niekerk when he advised that if men want to see God do something through our nation, it is going to require people that live life out of a strength gained from the Word of God and their identity in Christ through faith.
“We are called believers and call ourselves believers, not emotionalists, not rationalists, but believers.
“Faith is not being positive, it is not a good attitude, not emotions that are worked up, faith is not a mind over matter thing, but a full disclosure, a confidence and a trust,” said Els.
He referred to 1 Peter 1:13-25 “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct; because it is written, ‘Be ye holy; for I am holy’ . . . Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls away: but the word of the Lord endures for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you”.
Els emphasised the defining and transforming nature of God’s Word: we encounter Him and spend time with Him by reading His Word, which is life changing.
“Tonight, I want to talk to you about coming face-to-face with God, we cannot leave here in the same way we arrived.
“The Word that has been preached, the testimonies that we have heard, and the worship that we have participated in will all contribute to changing us, but it is the face-to-face moments with God that are encounters, experiences and confirmations, which are defining times.
“These defining moments are crucial to us. They are crossroad moments, moments of truth, critical-point moments.
“This weekend is a time in which God is redefining things, which is life changing and is the beginning of new things that will allow us to see and approach things differently.
“This will affect our values and the way we treat our families, our careers and everybody around us,” encouraged Els.
He spoke of the need to be open to continual change and not to be self-righteous thinking we are familiar with God’s ways, know what His Word says, and have all the answers without first consulting Him.
“We need to rely on God continually, each day afresh and not on our own understanding.
“When we make plans without trusting and relying on God they will ultimately cost us,” said Els.
“God has a plan for your life, the worst thing you can do is to make your own plans,” he added.
Els urged the men not to leave KMMC without being changed and their reliance on God being strengthened through feeding on the Word of God concerning their marriages, families, businesses, and how they need to approach the challenges our nation is facing.