I’m currently working my way through The God Ask, by Steve Shadrach.
In one of the illustrations on asking in faith, the author shares a story about Emperor Napoleon who after a long and particularly brutal battle, conquered a highly prized Mediterranean island.
Afterward, while he and his generals were sitting, drinking, savoring the victory, a young officer approached Napoleon. When the revered general asked the man what he wanted, he replied, “Sir, give me this island.”
The soldier’s answer to Napoleon’s question prompts the other generals to break out in laughter, mocking him for this ridiculous request. That is until Napoleon asks for pen and paper.
To their amazement, Napoleon wrote out a deed to the island, signed it, and handed it to the lowly, bold, soldier. “How could you do that?” one of the generals asked — knowing how costly the hard-won island had been obtained. “What made this man worthy to receive a great island after we fought so hard to win it?”
Napoleon replied, “I gave him this island because he honoured me by the magnitude of his request.”
One of the notions I’ve recently been stewing over is the idea that we best honour God by agreeing with Him about the Truth. If He says it, it’s true.
May we run the race in such a manner that we honour Him with the magnitude of our requests — our prayers and our lives that reflect Him as He truly is.
Jésus a dit : “Et moi, je prierai le Père, et il vous donnera un autre consolateur, afin qu’il demeure éternellement avec vous, l’Esprit de vérité, que le monde ne peut recevoir, parce qu’il ne le voit point et ne le connaît point ; mais vous, vous le connaissez, car il demeure avec vous, et il sera en vous.”Jean 14.16-17
Jésus a envoyé le Saint-Esprit pour qu’il soit éternellement avec nous. Il demeure avec vous et il est en vous.
L’Esprit Saint désire être…
Votre confident. Il est Dieu le Saint-Esprit. Vous pouvez lui parler, lui faire connaître vos craintes, vos questions ou vos sujets de reconnaissance. Il vous connaît parfaitement et il vous aime.
Votre consolateur. Il peut vous consoler et ranimer votre âme. Sa présence est comme un baume bienfaisant sur une plaie.
Votre conseiller. Il veut vous diriger et vous donner la sagesse. Écoutez-le car il désire vous parler personnellement.
Le Saint-Esprit est là, tout près de vous et en vous. Soyez ouvert(e) à Sa personne. Expérimentez Sa présence miraculeuse en ce jour.
Jour 2: Écoutez la voix du Saint-Esprit
À plusieurs reprises dans la Bible, on peut voir Dieu s’adresser à son peuple, notamment par la voix de ses prophètes.
Ésaïe a annoncé la venue de Jésus et a prophétisé sur l’œuvre salvatrice que notre Dieu accomplirait des centaines d’années plus tard. Le prophète nous livre une information capitale sur Jésus : “L’Esprit du Seigneur est sans cesse avec lui, l’Esprit qui donne sagesse et discernement, aptitude à décider et vaillance…” (Lire Ésaïe 11.2.)
Autrement dit, Jésus serait toujours inspiré par le Saint-Esprit, et toujours sensible à sa voix. D’ailleurs, ce que nous lisons dans les Évangiles nous le confirme : chaque action de Jésus et chaque décision qu’il a prise sur Terre étaient parfaites et divinement inspirées.
Le Saint-Esprit habite en vous (lire 1 Corinthiens 3.16), le saviez-vous…? Il est votre ami, votre fidèle conseiller. Et il vous parle, croyez-le…! Laissez-moi vous donner ce petit conseil, si vous “entendez une voix dans votre tête”, si une pensée traverse votre esprit, comme une flèche acérée. Cette voix…
Vous apporte-t-elle la paix…?
Vous inspire-t-elle la solution à vos problèmes…?
Alors, c’est certainement le Saint-Esprit qui vous parle…!
Au contraire, si “cette voix” vous accable, vous fait douter, vous attriste, soyez certain(e) que c’est l’ennemi de votre âme qui vous parle… sans oublier vos propres pensées, bien sûr, parfois négatives.
Et si vous décidiez d’être plus sensible, réceptif(ve) et attentif(ve) à la voix du Saint-Esprit…? Il ne demande qu’à communiquer avec vous pour vous conduire vers la victoire, vous éviter des embûches et vous apprendre tout sur le cœur du Père…
Recevez de lui “sagesse et discernement, aptitude à décider et vaillance”, alors que nous prions ensemble : “Saint-Esprit, j’ouvre mon cœur et je fais silence… afin de recevoir les directives du Père… Je veux t’écouter et me laisser guider par toi, dans tous les domaines de ma vie. Au nom de Jésus, amen.”
Toute la journée, et tous les jours, restez attentif(ve), car le Saint-Esprit désire communiquer avec vous…!
« Vous êtes le temple de Dieu, et l’Esprit de Dieu habite en vous. Vous ne savez donc pas cela? »
Première lettre aux Corinthiens 3:16 PDV2017
Jour 3: Invitez le Saint-Esprit dès le matin
Un matin, durant mon temps de prière et de méditation, alors que j’étais au calme, une colombe est venue se poser près de moi. Cette douce “apparition” m’a fait réfléchir une fois encore sur l’importance de la méditation. Pourquoi…? Parce que c’est là où TOUT peut arriver. Où Dieu vient nous rencontrer pour nous parler.
Parfois, nous n’y prêtons pas attention, ce que souligne Job ici : “Dieu parle cependant, tantôt d’une manière, tantôt d’une autre, et l’on n’y fait pas attention.” (Lire Job 33.14.) Et ce matin-là, il a utilisé un moyen stupéfiant et inattendu : cette colombe.
Dans la Parole de Dieu, la colombe est un symbole fort qui représente le Saint-Esprit. Lors du baptême de Jésus, l’Esprit de Dieu se manifeste sous la forme d’une colombe. Le Saint-Esprit est la personne de la Trinité qui est constamment avec vous, à vos côtés. C’est Dieu qui vous accompagne, qui vous parle, qui vous réconforte.
Quand le Saint-Esprit descend sur vous, vous pouvez alors entendre ce qu’il a à vous dire, pour garder précieusement ses paroles et les noter dans votre journal intime.
En ce jour, je vous encourage à :
Inviter le Saint-Esprit à se révéler à vous
Laisser la colombe de l’Esprit se poser sur votre vie,
Lui remettre ce qui vous semble lourd,
Vous laisser envahir par sa paix surnaturelle.
Je vous invite à prier maintenant : “Seigneur Jésus, que ton Esprit Saint me guide chaque jour dans tes voies et me transforme à ton image jusqu’à ton retour. Je te remercie d’avoir fait de moi ton enfant bien-aimé. Dans le nom de Jésus, amen.”
Que l’Esprit de Dieu vous accompagne tout au long de votre vie…!
Jour 4: L’Esprit Saint désire vous métamorphoser !
Saviez-vous que le Saint-Esprit désire vous transformer ? La Bible dit :
“Ne vous conformez pas au monde actuel, mais soyez transformés par le renouvellement de l’intelligence afin de discerner quelle est la volonté de Dieu, ce qui est bon, agréable et parfait.” (Romains 12.2)
Le mot grec “transformé” est (en grec) “metamorphoo” qui a donné en Français “métamorphose”. L’Esprit Saint peut et veut vous métamorphoser c’est à dire vous transformer puissamment.
Alors que vous méditez la Parole de Dieu, par exemple au travers de “Un Miracle Chaque Jour”, que vous priez, que vous chantez des louanges, l’Esprit de Dieu se met à l’œuvre dans votre vie.
Si vous laissez le Saint-Esprit renouveler votre intelligence, vous allez voir et vivre des choses extraordinaires.
Comme le dit le Pasteur Paul Goulet : “Le Saint-Esprit impacte votre intelligence, votre intelligence impacte vos émotions, vos émotions impactent vos choix, vos choix impactent vos actions et vos actions impactent votre destinée.” Tout commence avec l’Esprit de Dieu. Même dans la Bible, regardez dans Genèse 1.
Demandez au Saint-Esprit de toucher votre intelligence aujourd’hui. Demandez lui de vous parler en ce jour. Il va tout transformer, tout métamorphoser.
Jour 5: Voici le miracle de l’Esprit Saint
“Vous recevrez une puissance, le Saint-Esprit survenant sur vous…” (Actes 1:8) La Pentecôte est une fête qui célèbre la venue du Saint-Esprit sur les apôtres de Jésus-Christ et les personnes qui étaient présentes avec eux. La Pentecôte est arrivée cinquante jours après la Pâques (d’où le nom penta – 50). Le récit est rapporté par le livre des Actes des Apôtres. Cette fête tire son origine de la fête juive de Chavouot, la fête des moissons ou fête de la récolte.
Le jour de la Pentecôte a vraiment donné naissance à la première “mega church” de l’histoire de l’église. Ce jour là, 3000 personnes environ ont reçu Jésus comme sauveur et se sont fait baptiser. C’est un de mes passages préférés de l’écriture : 3000 en 1 jour. Ça c’est un beau miracle !
Le Saint-Esprit peut faire ce que nous ne pouvons absolument pas faire. Il peut souffler, enflammer, multiplier, distribuer des dons extraordinaires. Le jour de la Pentecôte, le miraculeux de Dieu s’est manifesté. Les disciples ont commencé à parler dans des langues inconnues pour eux, mais connues pour tous ceux qui visitaient Jérusalem pour Chavouot. Quel miracle !
Voici ma prière pour vous : Qu’aujourd’hui le Saint-Esprit souffle sur votre vie et qu’un miracle se produise pour vous et par vous!
Jour 6: Et si vous vous laissiez conduire par l’Esprit Saint ?
De toutes les voix que vous pourriez entendre, celle du Saint-Esprit est sans nul doute la plus douce et la plus forte, la plus céleste et la plus profonde.
Lorsque l’Esprit de Dieu vous parle, cela transcende tout ce que vous êtes, tout ce que vous avez connu.
La voix du Seigneur est la plus aimante et ses voies sont les plus sages.
Se mettre à l’écoute de Jésus c’est choisir la meilleure des voies, prendre les meilleures décisions.
Le Saint-Esprit vous parle, il vous parle même tous les jours :
Par des rêves
Par vos lectures quotidiennes
Par des prédications
Par un(e) ami(e)
Lorsque vous écoutez le Saint-Esprit, c’est alors que vous vivez le miracle, que vos limites humaines volent en éclats parce que vous recevez la sagesse du Dieu Très Haut, son conseil et ses directives.
Ma prière et mon invitation sont que vous puissiez écouter et obéir à la douce voix de Celui qui vous aime, de Celui qui vous a vu(e) naître et désire votre bonheur et votre épanouissement plus que tout.
Jour 7: Viens Saint-Esprit, viens !
“Que ta volonté soit faite sur la terre comme au ciel.” C’est ce que Jésus nous enseigne dans Matthieu 6.10. Savez-vous que c’est l’Esprit Saint qui amène le ciel sur la terre ? Il est la plus belle expression du ciel, puisqu’il est Dieu lui-même. Il est aussi au cœur d’une promesse de Jésus qui dit : “Vous recevrez une puissance, le Saint-Esprit survenant sur vous.” (Lire Actes 1.8.)
C’est le désir de Dieu de vous remplir de son Esprit. Nous pouvons lire ceci dans Jean 20.22 : “Après ces paroles, il souffla sur eux et leur dit : Recevez l’Esprit Saint.”
Vous vous demandez peut-être comment l’Esprit Saint se manifeste lorsqu’il vient sur les enfants de Dieu…? Il le fait de différentes manières.
D’ailleurs, les apôtres racontent ici sa descente extraordinaire le jour de la Pentecôte :
“Tout à coup il vint du ciel un bruit comme celui d’un vent violent, qui remplit toute la maison où ils étaient assis. Des langues qui semblaient de feu leur apparurent, séparées les unes des autres, et elles se posèrent sur chacun d’eux. Ils furent tous remplis du Saint-Esprit et se mirent à parler en d’autres langues, comme l’Esprit leur donnait de s’exprimer.” (Lire Actes 2.2-4.)
Voulez-vous expérimenter maintenant le souffle de l’Esprit Saint sur votre vie ? Je souhaite qu’il vous touche intensément.
Après ces paroles, il souffle sur eux et il leur dit: « Recevez l’Esprit Saint. »
— Bonne Nouvelle selon Jean 20:22 PDV2017
Invitez-le très simplement :
Remerciez-le d’avoir fait de vous son temple.
Demandez-lui de descendre sur vous, avec vos propres mots.
Demandez-lui de vous remplir de sa présence, de vous renouveler, de vous rafraîchir.
Puis, concentrez-vous sur la présence de l’Esprit de Dieu.
Que votre esprit reste connecté avec l’Esprit du Dieu vivant…!
« Tout à coup un bruit vient du ciel. C’est comme le souffle d’un violent coup de vent. Le bruit remplit toute la maison où ils sont assis. »
It’s been a while since I wrote some personal news and updates to you, so I’m taking this opportunity, as we close off November and enter into the last few weeks of 2019, to share some recent news and developments.
First off, I’d like to yell a massive THANK YOU to each of you for your continued support and prayers that carries me by the grace of Christ! I am truly thankful for each of you, and the amazing team I am surrounded with! Thank you for joining me on this uncharted adventure as I go to the Nations to declare the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel. Your support on every level enables me to run wild so that others might live free. THANK YOU! #runwildlivefree
Testimony from Kalene Hill, Northwest Zambia
I want to kick off this post with a testimony my teammate, David (Kalene Hill base, Northwest Zambia) shared with me last night:
I found this testimony very encouraging because we often try to make ministry more complicated than it is. When Jesus commissioned His followers to go to the nations, He simply commanded them to fulfil the ministry of reconciliation — the proclamation (preaching) that the Kingdom is at hand, that God has come near (Immanuel) to man. This is what ‘ministry’ is — to know WHO He is, and who He as made YOU to be, as His kingdom ambassador. Ministry does not require special training or skills or an extroverted personality or three years of Bible school. It requires an obedient worshipper. That’s it. May you be encouraged to step out in faith, and in ministry, at every opportunity as the Holy Spirit empowers you to fulfil the calling of God on your life.
As many of you know, I spent my birthday (6 November) in the Western Cape visiting a friend, and took this opportunity to spend quality time with God, breathe in different air, and refresh after the crasiness that followed my dad’s passing in September.
On that note, I want to dive into a bit of a personal testimony.
Let’s go fly a kite!
I grew up in a church home (a.k.a a home in which we went to church and Sunday School, and we did all the right things, and even meant them with a good deal of sincerity and reverence), but it wasn’t until later, when I hit my teenage years, that I discovered that a relationship with God was a real and tangible possibility.
I had always deeply loved God — I remember walking around in the mountains at the back of our house on the farm singing made-up songs to Him as a young child — but I would compare this love to the kind of affection a dog gives its owner. Sincere in as many ways as possible, but you kind of just expect a pat on the head, “good girl,” and then go about business as usual.
Though this church home was perfect form the outside, it was wrecked on the inside, and it caused me to doubt the validity of this so-called ‘Christian’ lifestyle we were signed up to live. When I looked at church folks, I often noticed double standards, and I simply couldn’t reconcile what I read bout God in the Bible to the way these ‘believers’ lived. And if I couldn’t trust them to teach me about God, perhaps I couldn’t trust God?
My parents’ divorce fuelled my distrust in God. I still loved Him — no doubt about it, but I didn’t feel like I could trust Him. How could I trust a God whom I couldn’t see when I couldn’t trust a father whom I could see?
I was about 14 years old when I told my mum very candidly that I saw no value in going to church because Sunday after Sunday was filled with sugar-coated preaching, hypocritical believers, and shallow commitment.
I have to add though that this is something you’ll find wherever you look — not only in church!
Nonetheless, as I told my mum, I loved God and I still wanted to serve Him, but I wasn’t going to church because it didn’t help me. My mum, in her astonishing wisdom said, “Sissy, you’re welcome to seek after God and go wherever you hear Him speak to you.”
In my desperation to find a true and trustworthy God, I went to every church and youth meeting I could find — every denomination was tested until finally, I decided to draw a line in the sand.
Now, I need to jump back to a couple years earlier, I was 8 years old at the time, to a conference I attended with my mum entitled, ‘The Gifts of the Holy Spirit.’ Now, I have to preface this by saying that, as an 8-year old who went to Sunday School in a traditional church, all I knew about the Holy Spirit was that it was part of the Trinity, and that it appeared in the form of a dove when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. I didn’t understand this baptism either, because the Dutch Reformed church does not believe in the baptism of believers (regardless of age or size) through emersion, but in child ‘baptism’, which is essentially just a couple drops of water on the forehead.
At this conference, one of the ministers asked who would like to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I of course had no idea what this foreign concept meant. I later told one of the men who was laying hands on people that I saw a picture of a tree standing on a hill with multi-coloured ribbons tied to its branches that floated in the breeze. He told me that this was called ‘a vision’ and that it was one of the ways in which God spoke to people.
What? God could SPEAK to PEOPLE? Ordinary people? Even children? And not just the minister? I was blown away!
So, fast-forward to 8 years later as a nearly-16-year-old me was drawing the line in the sand. I had done everything I knew to do to be a good person. But it just wasn’t good enough. I was rebellious since I distrusted authority, and I gave everyone a hard time — if you could not justify WHY you believed something, and simply told me “Because,” I had no time to waste on you. (Don’t worry — I soon repented and God taught me a couple things about humility since!)
I was in my room one evening when I yelled at God (well, the ceiling really, because I wasn’t convinced that God was listening, ) — “God! If you’re real, SHOW UP!”
In that very instant, Holy Spirit showed me that exact picture I saw 8 years ago — the tree on the hill with multi-coloured ribbons that floated in the breeze. I KNEW that this wasn’t something that I had made up or imagined, thought about, or even remembered, and I was convinced that God was real, that Holy Spirit did indeed speak to me, and that a relationship with Him was not only a possibility, but a real and true reality.
It was then that I started walking in relationship with God, and kicked off a journey of healing, forgiveness and growth — one that I’m still on!
This journey ultimately brought me to one of the biggest challenges of my new-found faith: forgiving my dad and building relationship with him. To be honest, it was an up-hill battle for the most part. I won’t go into all the details, but I can honestly say that God worked miracles in my heart and life, and that of my dad, and the last six years or so we had a truly wonderful relationship.
When my father passed away on September 14th, 2019, I could truly say that I held no regrets, and even in this earthly loss, I saw God’s faithfulness be made manifest.
Soon after this ceiling-yelling-salvation I went on holiday with my dad. We bought a kite together, and we flew it at the beach. I didn’t go on holiday with him a lot, and so, the kite found its way to storage, and it wasn’t until I packed up his house after his passing that I came across it again. So, this past birthday, the first birthday on which (both) parents didn’t phone me at the crack of dawn to sing happy birthday (it’s a family tradition and it often involves a cat-choir), I took my our kite down to the beach and flew it for the first time in many years.
We look forward by looking back
The one thing these past few months have taught me, in coming back from AMT in Zambia, and preparing to head to DRC fulltime (EEEEK! Can’t wait to share more about this in the near future!), is that we see the future by looking at the past.
Yes, I know that sounds like some (weird) quote by Rafiki (the blue-faced baboon from The Lion King), but it’s very scriptural when you consider that the entire Old Testament was a prophesy of the New Testament, and that the New Testament is therefore a fulfilment of the Old Testament.
What I mean by this, is that looking back often provides us with the perspective we need to recognize God’s steadfast faithfulness in every season. God does not change. His Word is ALWAYS true. He is not slow in remembering His promises. When we step out in faith and walk in obedience, He is sure to fulfil His Word since He has already equipped us with everything we need to live a life of holiness and godliness through the Holy Spirit.
This is my prayer for you too, as we close off November and enter the last few weeks of 2019 — that you may look back and recognize God’s hand in your life — how He guides and sustains you, how He provides, how He heals, how He teaches, how He gives favour and grace, and above all, how He loves.
One Tribe Missions Conference
I am also very excited to announce that I’ll be leaving for the United States at the end of December. I would appreciate your prayers for this month-long trip!
While in the States, I’ll attend the Overland Missions One Tribe Missions Conference in Florida. You can tune in by live-streaming the event (the link is available on Overland Missions’ Facebook page or http://www.overlandmissions.com), and join more than 200 missionaries from all over the world in the Overland Missions family as they share testimonies, and cast vision for 2020!
During this time I’ll also attend a seminar or partnership development which will help me to launch into the Democratic Republic of Congo with Overland Missions, starting 2020! I am BEYOND excited to share more about this soon — so, stay tuned!
Goodbye for now
And on that note, goodbye for now!
Grace and peace be to you by the abundance of the Holy Spirit that works in you and through you to make the Word manifest in the nations!
When Paul wrote this passage he was in chains, having suffered multiple beatings, stonings, starvation, and FELT persecution.
His suffering went far beyond people saying mean things on social media or spreading rumors.
It wasn’t a motivational quote he uttered as he posted a selfie at the top of a mountain.
“I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty. My heart overflows with joy when I think of how you showed your love to me by your financial support of my ministry. For even though you have so little, you still continue to help me at every opportunity. I’m not telling you this because I’m in need, for I have learned to be satisfied in any circumstance. You’ve so graciously provided for my essential needs during this season of difficulty.”
— Philippians 4:10-14
This morning, may this be your anthem in times of trial but also in times of victory — that God strengthens and supplies you in every circumstance!
A couple years ago, I was waiting at the doctor’s office when 3 men in hand- and foot cuffs were ushered into the waiting room.
I assumed they had to be suspected of, or convicted of violent crime because they were under the surveillance of six prison guards. Two guards were assigned to each man, and they arrived separately.
As I sat there, thinking about the thieves that hung next to Jesus on the cross, I was reminded of the one thief’s cry for Salvation, his sincere repentance, and Jesus’s promise of redemption.
“One of the criminals who was suspended kept up a railing at Him, saying, Are You not the Christ (the Messiah)? Rescue Yourself and us [from death]! But the other one reproved him, saying, Do you not even fear God, seeing you yourself are under the same sentence of condemnation and suffering the same penalty? And we indeed suffer it justly, receiving the due reward of our actions; but this Man has done nothing out of the way [nothing strange or eccentric or perverse or unreasonable]. Then he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come in Your kingly glory! And He answered him, Truly I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
Luke 23:39-43 AMPC
It’s so easy for us to judge those around us. These men did not look any different from the other people in the room. If weren’t for the fact that their clinking chains echoed through the hallways, they would probably not even have caught my attention.
As I mulled over the two thieve’s diverging reactions to Jesus and the fact that He was willingly crucified, I was overcome, anew, with a realization of the immensity of God’s Grace — the ministry of reconciliation!
“But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him].”
2 Corinthians 5:18 AMPC
People are not in need of powerful sermons or public protests. They don’t need “turn or burn” appeals.
That’s not the heart of the Gospel — which is the ministry of reconciliation, the declaration that the Kingdom of God has come near.
The world’s need is simply this — unconditional love.
Surely it’s not easy — especially when we feel like some are not deserving of love.
But, if one sinner repents because He recognized God for Whom He is, and received forgiveness, are we not to share this GOOD NEWS with every man?
The Gospel is the Good News of reconciliation for all men from every tribe and every tongue and every nation for all time.
The love with which you love shapes your legacy. So, share the Good News. Make disciples. Impact generations.
A while ago, I read a quote by Charles Spurgeon that was something along the lines of, “If ever you come across a piece of Scripture you can’t face, read it until you can.”
This simple statement changed the way I read Scripture.
You see, there are many passages I avoid — no, not drawn-out lineages, rules for the building of the temple, or ‘scary’ things I don’t understand — but passages that CONVICT me.
It’s often easier to avoid the things from Scripture that convict us, rather than to work through them, asking Holy Spirit for fresh revelation, and fresh grace so that we might continually grow in relationship with Him.
You don’t have to be a Scholar to read and understand Scripture. If teenage fishermen were entrusted with this Message, and we have the Holy Spirit, it shouldn’t be hard to read, understand, and apply the FULL teaching we have through Scripture.
Nowadays, we have various options available to us — beautiful hardcopy, leather bound editions in many languages, or digital easily-accessed apps which give us the Bible on multiple devices. But this is not how Scripture started out. Most of the New Testament was written as letters to new believers to the many new churches that were found across the world. The Old Testament is made up of chronicles, stories, laws, prophesies, et cetera!
There is so much more to the Word than black and white (and red!) letters which provides us with a manual to living a God-filled life.
The Word is living and powerful and active!
When you’re offended by something, view this as the perfect opportunity for God to renew your thinking, for Holy Spirit to establish a new heart within you, for you to grow into the likeness of Christ. Don’t change Scripture to fit your convictions. But align your convictions to the Truth of the Word so that you might discover and grow in the fullness of all that God is, and who He is in you and through you!
There are a lot of people these days who are “cherry picking” scriptures which support their lifestyle choices, while they often ignore the context, as a whole, from which those scriptures are drawn.
This first verse here in Romans 8 is one of those scriptures. For, these people assume they are “in Christ Jesus” merely because they made a profession of faith in Christ, or merely because they made some acknowledgment as to who he is as the Lord, the Christ, the Son of God. Or, perhaps it was because they repeated some words after someone in a prayer where they were then congratulated that they are now in God’s family.
But, is that all there is to it to be “in Christ”? Or, is there more to it?
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life…
In the busy season, Rapid14 is home to over 100 missionaries, AMT students, and expedition members.
Nomads, Missionaries, World Changers, Expats — terms we use to describe some aspect of what it means to live in a culture, a country or a nation that is not native to you. Kids grow up in multi-lingual and multi-cultural environments, and we often have to learn new languages.
We adapt to the ‘difference’ between this new ‘home’ and wherever we grew up. It might be something as insignificant as not having network coverage when you’re out in the bush, or it might be something ‘big’ like living within a 7-hour drive from your nearest grocery store.
So, what makes Home, ‘home’? I believe the answer is TEAM, and by team I mean family. In Overland Missions we are surrounded by a network of amazing people who provide spiritual, physical, emotional and real-time support. No matter where you are in the world, you’ll never be ‘alone’.
When I was very young, my understanding of ‘a missionary’ was based on the cork board with the world map at the back of the church. In some obscure little corner, there would be a picture of an unknown farce, ID-photo sized, and a red ribbon connecting the picture to some remote area on the world map. And then, once a year, there would be a special offering to help out the poor missionary who’s probably living under a bush, starving, in some Unknown Country.
This is not what HOME is to missionaries, though.
Rapid 14 is the headquarters for Overland Missions in Africa and all the work that happens on this beautiful continent.
It is here where Expedition trucks are built, torn apart, and re-built. It is the admin office that’s in constant communication with America to make sure there are enough funds ready to get the work done. It’s the dining room that feeds thousands every year. It’s the 5-star view that attracts government officials and local friends daily. And yet, it is so much more!
It’s the place that’s quiet enough to hear God speaking nations into your heart, yet loud enough to often hear singing from across the property. It’s a place where mothers homeschool their children; where couples fall in love and start their life together; and where friendship looks more like family.
It’s where words like “can’t” and “won’t” are replaced with “let’s make a plan.” Rapid 14 has seen birthday parties stop to pray for a friend in need and prayer meetings break out into dance parties. There are barefoot children growing up together, countless meals eaten together, and tears and laughter exchanged-together. It’s a place that takes seriously the words “go into all the world, preach the gospel and make disciples” and makes dreams a reality.
Rapid 14 is the home that welcomes and refreshes weary travellers and sends them out again ready to win the nations for Christ.
If your answer is something along the lines of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” or “Mormons”, and you’re not aware of the evangelical commission of the Apostles, found in Acts, then this is a good kick-off to transform your thinking.
Listen to this amazing vision by founder and CEO of Overland Missions, Philip Smethurst.
Apostles are pioneers, breaking the hard ground of unbelief.
Apostles aren’t humanitarian activists. They are ministers of the Gospel, they are paramedics, they are builders, they are innovators, they are entrepreneurs — the Gospel is a wholistic answer to every humanitarian issue in the history of mankind.
It’s a fundamental human right for men from every tribe and every tongue, from all nations, for all times to have access to the Gospel.
One of the most central issues within the [modern] church, that seems to pop up every now and then is the question:
Should women be allowed to preach?
Essentially, this question does not relate to the official platform of ‘preacher’ as it relates to pastor or whatever official title you’d like to slap on to the formal structure of [church] ministry. Rather, the question is this — are women supposed to publicly speak out about the Gospel?
One would think that, within the modern era, this question is finite, and also redundant. Yet, it’s something that constantly pops up in church discussions, social media, and feminist campaigns. Personally, I’m not an advocate for feminism. I’m an advocate for the Gospel, and that intrinsically implies equality. Perhaps we’ll have a discussion about this another time?
Part of the recent uproar was caused by criticism toward Christian Author, Beth Moore, and others who were told to ‘go home’.
Nijay Gupta recently wrote this brilliant commentary as Paul, in an open letter to the church:
An Open Letter from the Apostle Paul to John MacArthur Regarding Beth Moore
I think it’s important, when interpreting Scripture, to consider the context in which, and for which it was written. It is impossible to fully understand Scripture, especially in the New Testament where letters were written to specific churches [new Believers that were birthed out of the Apostolic mandate that followed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2] without also considering these words from Hebrews 4:12:
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Hebrews 4:12, KJV:
I am, by no means, a Theologist or a Bible Guru, but from what I read, and see, and understand, the Word — all of it — is relevant and active to the here and now.
When reading Scripture that is culturally-specific, I think it’s important to consider that culture is such a diverse notion. It’s not something that is easily defined, and it’s even harder to transfer. But, when interpreting Scripture, we should be wary to not fall back under legalism. Christ said that He didn’t come to abolish the Law [the Levitical Law of Moses, as found in the Torah], but to fulfil it. Therefore, under the New Covenant, we are governed by the Spirit, and not the Law.
Does this mean that Scripture is no longer relevant? Absolutely not! It does mean, however, that we should interpret Scripture and its cultural notions through the Holy Spirit. There is an argument to be made, of course, that this is very subjective, and again — let’s be careful not to enforce the opinion of man on Scripture and call it Gospel — but, Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, and therefore is an agent on behalf of Man to intercede before the Father, and to reveal the will of God to the hearts and minds of Man.
Feminism aside, if you look at Scripture, you’ll find that, aside from the 12 disciples, there was a crowd of people who followed Jesus as he ministered. The vast majority were women.
Should women be allowed to preach? Absolutely.
Because the Great Commission, and the whole Scripture, is for Believers.
It’s not Elitist. It’s not meant for Scholars. It’s not culture-specific or culture-exclusive. It’s not language-specific. It’s not age-specific. it’s not race-specific. It’s not gender-specific.
Are you called to preach?
If you consider yourself to be a Believer — yes.
A minister of the Gospel is not a preacher, a bishop, a pastor a prophet — titles and job descriptions that [the church] has slapped on to formal structures to try and make sense of [the church]. Being a minister of the Gospel means to be like John 3:8 says, to be led by the Spirit, to be obedient to the whole Scripture, to preach the Good News of the Gospel, to be a witness to the Nations.
And if you happen to be a woman, does this disqualify you? No. I say — rise up and preach!
AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE APOSTLE PAUL TO JOHN MACARTHUR (RE: BETH MOORE)
John, I appreciate the love you have for the Lord and the passion you have for the church. I know that you think that the world would be a better place if women did as they were told and “stayed home.” But I need to tell you that you are damaging my ministry with these notions. The great gospel mission cannot impact the world in the ways God has planned if you hold back the kingdom’s servants. “The fields are ripe and the work is great,” Jesus used to say. Women have played such a crucial role in my apostolic mission, I could not operate without their wisdom, partnership and leadership.
They can’t go home, there is simply too much at stake.
Euodia and Syntyche (Phillipians 4:2-3) can’t go home. Sometimes these women don’t get along, but they have been leaders in evangelism and outreach and have worked alongside me to fight for the faith. They have to journey beyond their doorsteps to do this work.
Junia can’t go home, John. Sorry, she is in prison (again) because of her work for the gospel out there in the world (Romans 16:7). In fact, the other apostles have some pretty amazing things to say about her ministry.
Phoebe can’t go home, John. She went to Rome—actually, I sent her there (Rom 16:1-2). I sent her with my letter to the Romans and also to provide ministry support there.
It might provide a little comfort to you that I sent Nympha to her home in Lycus Valley (Colossians 4:15); not to do domestic duties (she has servants for that), but to be the house church leader and patroness.
John, we must part with any sentimental or nostalgic notions of womanhood where women sweep and cook while the men do the “real work” of ministry. I wish you could meet with the women who contend alongside me as co-workers of the gospel mission: they are gifted, wise, and brave (when was the last time you were in prison?).
John, I know you care about the gospel, and we can’t do the work with one hand tied behind our backs. The gospel of Jesus Christ is just too important. Let the Phoebes, Junias, Euodias, Syntyches, and Nymphas do their work—and you do yours too.
Grace to you, John, and let others also know you are a grace-filled believer as well (remember: grace is generosity mixed with love out of the compassion of Christ)
On 29 September, two weeks after my dad passed away, I was visiting my friend Carené — I was making my way though town, coming back from KZN where I went to see my dad’s lawyer earlier that morning.
It wasn’t an unusual day, and I wasn’t very emotional. I think, even now, I’m still numb to the reality of my dad’s physical absence. anyway, I’ll tell you about this another time.
As usual, Carené set up some series, and we got ready to art because, as she famously says, “kuns maak alles beter.”
I don’t know why, because this definitely isn’t my usual style, but I felt that I had to draw this tiger, with me curled up against it’s belly, in the middle of the jungle.
Now, despite famously being a cat-person, I see myself more as a wolf (and it has nothing to do with weird spiritual stuff), and I’m not convinced that this is a self-portrait, but, here we are — the tyger, an ode to William Blake’s beautiful poetry, a journey of healing, and a refuge in this jungle of in-between chaos.
One day, we’ll see the Lion lying with the Lamb.
But for now, here I am, resting in the shadow of the tiger.
These words still seem unreal to me, even as I write them here. In a month’s time I’ll be celebrating my first birthday without him, and that is even more unreal.
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet, and a light for my path.”
One of the most referenced scriptures surely has to be Psalm 23, and it’s especially quoted in times of hardship. Today I find myself asking what this Valley of the Shadow of Death is supposed to look like? I’m no theologian, but I do believe that Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Word, and breaks open the scriptures so that we might know Him. And therefore, even though I’m sure there’s so much more to Psalm 23 than what I can endeavour to break down in a single post, here are some of my thoughts on the matter:
The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough. The Lord gives me a place to rest — I am safe in His love. The Lord makes me whole, and gives me new life. He shows me the paths of life, and leads me to walk in His ways. By walking where He guides me, I bring honour to His name. Lord, when your path takes me through valleys of darkness, I will not let fear be my master because You take care of me. You remain close to me, and lead me all the way! In your presence, I am strong, and my heart is filled with peace. Your love comforts me, and takes away my fear. I will never be lonely because you are always near! You anoint me with your Holy Spirit, and you fill me until my heart feels like it will burst! I am not afraid of the future because Your goodness and love is always with me — all the days of my life. And afterward, when all my days have been lived, I will enjoy your presence — forever with You!
God does not change.
Our circumstances might change — for better or for worse — but that does not alter who God is. His Word remains true — He cannot lie! One of the scriptures that I’ve prayed most over my life has to be Romans 12:2 — that Holy Spirit would renew my thinking to line up with the Truth of His Word. There is only one truth I care about, and that’s the Kingdom’s perspective. This does not mean that we live in denial of reality. It means we are anchored in Him, and when the storms of life tug us into deep waters, we are sustained by His presence and His word keeps us steady. He is the same — yesterday, today and forever!
He is faithful
Time and again I find myself flipping to Genesis 22 in my Bible to read how God called Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. It seems ridiculous that an Almighty God should go back on His promise and take back Isaac whom he had promised to Abraham as his legacy — to be the father of nations. And yet, that’s exactly what happened. This is one of the most important events in Christian history, in my opinion, because it prophesies the death of Jesus — God’s plan to reconcile Man to Himself with a worthy Sacrifice that would settle the claim of death and sin for all eternity. This is of course an important lesson in obedience as well. Faith does not require understanding. It requires obedience. If God does not change, and His word is reliable Truth, then faith requires obedience (action) as a response to this Word. The one thing that stands out to me in Abraham’s life is that obedience is always better than sacrifice because He who has promised is faithful. We so often hold on to the promises, that we loose our grasp on the Promise Maker. He is faithful to provide above and beyond anything we could hope for, pray for, or imagine. He provides the Sacrifice. The journey through impossible times, this valley, might be tough, and you might be questioning God, or your own sanity as you undertake this step of faith. John 10:10 assures that it is the enemy who is the destroyer and that God brings Life and Life in abundance — this is the assurance we have; He is faithful to restore! He is faithful!
perfect Love casts out fear
Psalm 23:4 notes that even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Fear paralyses us into passivity. Faith empowers us to be obedient. One of the most transformative revelations to come into my life, was the understanding that God lives inside me — Holy Spirit empowers me to act and live outside my natural gifting and limitations, and to live according to a supernatural truth. This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky philosophy, but a DNA re-structure of our spiritual blueprint, the Divine Design which God laid down when He created man in His likeness. The God who speaks Life into existence, who is the personification of Love, lives inside us — He expels darkness, and He defeated death. So, when we find ourselves in circumstances that tell us death and destruction are upon us, we don’t have to fear or believe the lies of the enemy, because He is the hope that anchors our soul.
On 18 September, four days after my father passed on, I had the privilege of sharing this scripture as part of the message I preached at my father’s memorial service.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Isn’t this wonderful?
No matter what we lose on this side of Eternity, it can never take away, steal, kill, destroy or diminish that which holds eternal truth in Him: life, and life in abundance.
Of course, the death of a loved one is never easy, especially not the chaos that follows the absence, but our hope is secure in Him, the author and perfecter of faith, the One who gives life, the One who restores the years the locusts stole, the One who holds the keys to the Kingdom, the One who defeated death, the One who sits on the throne, the Lamb who was worthy to be slain.
This is the fulness of the promise we have in Christ: a life of fulness, not only here and now, but forever in His presence.
So today, as I look back on September, and the many ways in which every September from here on after will be different, I know that the valley isn’t the final destination. There is more to come! He is faithful! Death is not the end — in Him we have fulness in the here and now, but also forever in His presence!
on écrit sur les murs pour la monde || run until the pavement turns into untouched places
Today’s Parkrun was more of a park-stroll than a run, but it was done in the exhilarating company of laughing kids in prams, dogses with waggy tails, my best friend’s sister and her husband, and lovely mild Spring weather.
Last night for the first time in a while, I decided to listen to French news radio.
Obviously my ear is out of practice and I struggle to keep up with the Québécoises, but if Justin Tudeau wants to pour honey down my ears — in French no less — it’s a price I’ll pay.
The thing is — sometime we get caught up in life, running from end to end to get stuff done. And we tend to miss out on the simple pleasures — like children laughing and wet dog noses; taking a stroll in stead of a sprint.
I’ve been putting in some effort to reclaim me-things.
And no, it’s not out of selfishness.
We need to do me-things to recharge, to have an introspection pit stop, to breathe.
And yes — for me, that means listening to French radio, and reading a book in stead of a zillion academic articles, and having a nap in stead of doing the dishes.
And, when you take time to slow down, it might mean writing on the walls to leave a legacy for those yet to come.
A year ago, I climbed Masada, walked through Jericho, and ate icecream in the blistering humidity that Israel calls autumn.
More than anything else, I became vividly aware that Scripture is alive — in and around me, as it is reflected off this harsh landscapes with its hidden treasures of milk and honey.
God’s Word is alive and working and is sharper than a double-edged sword. It cuts all the way into us, where the soul and the spirit are joined, to the center of our joints and bones. And it judges the thoughts and feelings in our hearts.
I’m growing increasingly appreciative of the Jewish people, their stubbornness, their devotion, and the richness of their journey as a people and a nation.
everywhere I go, I’m wrapped in Scripture, and more than ever, I am convinced that the Word is God, that the Word is living and active, that the Word is made manifest in us and through us, and that it is impossible to live life without Him.
to me, it’s not so much about following in Jesus’s footprints, as it is the realisation that Holy Spirit inside us is the Hope of Glory.
So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself).
This morning Facebook reminded me of this seemingly simple event that took place two years ago — my conversation with Lucien.
As a teenager and student, I faithfully kept journals, but nowadays (especially trying to minimize weight while travelling often), I keep my thoughts and memoirs digitally. So, when I read over this ‘inscription’, I could not help but be amazed at the way God strategically line things up to work together for good.
Two years ago I was having a conversation on mangled French in a parking lot, and now I’m preparing to move to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and make it my home. Set your mind on the things of the Kingdom, look for Him, and all these things will be added — He is not slow in remembering His promises.
I quickly popped into Checkers because I needed milk, cat litter, and strawberries (I blame my friend Sanet for the craving). Most of the car guards at Checkers are Congolese and though I often greet them, it’s usually no more than a polite hi and bye.
Today however, I spoke to Lucien.
We had a quick chat about the heat, where he grew up near Kinshasa, how long he has been in South Africa for, and he complimented me on my native-sounding French accent.
I laugh at this now, because I realise that — without speaking it aloud — God has heard my prayer. I’ve been looking for ways to practice speaking French on a regular basis, and in one morning I hung out with Mariëtte and Arno (see previous post) who are emigrating to Canada soon, and Lucien — with plenty French-speaking opportunity.
While I was drinking my Crazy Chai Latté I noticed the inscription on Esthé’s glasses: LOOK FOR HIM.
Seek and you shall find. God is not far away, apathetic or angry. He is near us — in our hearts and minds, through the Holy Spirit, and He knows exactly what we need. Our simplest prayers are pleasing to Him.
Recherchez d’abord le royaume et la justice de Dieu, et tout cela vous sera donné en plus.
Jordan is home to some of the most beautiful hand-cut limestone mosaic.
the intricate details of each artwork (whether decorative or functional) reflects the heart of the people and their beautiful land.
I’ve had many conversations with many different people about which Scripture version/translation is most accurate, and therefore most reliable, and preferable.
I’m not a theologian, but I am a language practitioner, and therefore I tend to view Scripture translations as exactly that — the recording of words and phrases for a specific culture or people group.
any translator will tell you that there are things that are un-translatable.
therefore, the aim in translation is to transfer meaning and content, and not just “say in one language what has already been said in another language.” (different argument in its own right, but I won’t saddle that horse now.) again, as a language practitioner I read many translations, both for the pleasure of language, but also for a wider understanding of the text and it’s context.
I’ve been reading the Messianic Tree of Life version for some time now, and I keep discovering new beauty in it.
I find that Scripture translations are often like beautiful mosaics — carefully put together in order to convey it’s truest message.
I say, read the translation/version that speaks to you (language wise, and revelation wise) with the enlightenment of Holy Spirit, and allow Him to reveal the depths of it’s truths to you.
On either side of the river was a tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in the city, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. Night shall be no more, and people will have no need for lamplight or sunlight—for Adonai Elohim will shine on them. And they shall reign forever and ever!
this, friends, is what Moses saw when God showed him the Promised Land.
extremely hazy, I know, but to the left you’ll notice the Dead Sea, toward the middle lies the Jordan, and directly opposite, the land overflowing with milk and honey.
my first impression was probably the same as yours — how is this paradise?
however, I discovered that there are many treasures to be found in the Promised Land.
if crossing the wilderness has taught me anything, it is to be uncompromisingly obedient to God, and to fully trust in, and rely on Him to show you the path to take.
Abraham, Moses, Joshua — they’re some of my favourites from the Old Testament.
how often does it happen that we hold on to the promises, and not the Promise Keeper? whatever wilderness you’re in, and whatever challenges lie ahead, I hope you have the courage to step out in obedience to whatever He calls you to. may you see beyond the haze and the desolation of the wilderness, and may you see the promise hidden in the unknown.
just keep your eyes open, my love.
AND MOSES went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land–from Gilead to Dan, And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah to the western [Mediterranean] sea, And the South (the Negeb) and the plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palm Trees, as far as Zoar. And the Lord said to him, This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, I will give it to your descendants. I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.
However, I love looking back because over and over and over again, I see GOD IS FAITHFUL written in giant capitals all over this journey.
This past year has been squished in and running over with adventure– it has been a year of Unknowns, of growth, of pruning, of sowing, of reaping, of joy, of loss.
But, above all, it had been a year of expansion.
In more ways than I can explain, this has been a year of Revelation, in that things that I have been praying for and prophecied into for many years, are being made manifest around me.
My heart bursts with thankfulness that I get to do this — to run to the Nations with this Good News.
There is nothing that I will ever have to lay down, that’ll be worth more than this — because He is worthy.
Fourteen days ago, my dad passed away unexpectedly, and while I’m still dealing with the reality of his absence, I’m overjoyed to know that death is not the end for those who believe in Him.
One of the young guys I was discipling a while back once remarked that John 10:10 was one of the Scriptures that I refer to most, and I had to laugh, saying, “Yes! That’s what the Gospel is about!”
Heaven is not about escaping Hell and damnation. Eternal Life is about Man’s original design — to live in fellowship with God. To enjoy His presence forever. And that starts here — on earth, in fellowship with Holy Spirit.
A year ago, I was standing in the Israeli desert, inside a replica of the tabernacle, facing the ark of the covenant which was a place the High Priest could only enter once a year on behalf of the people.
As a 16 year old, one of the promises God had given me came from Joshua 1:3-7. In this moment, as I was standing in the representation of the Holy of Holies, I was over ome by truth that we don’t need a house to worship Him in, because we are the temple of the Holy Spirit– the DNA and Breath of God (Ruach) lives inside of us when we are born again into Eternal Life!
Isn’t it amazing that we have a better deal? The claim of death in which sin separated God and Man has been dealt with, the debt has been settled in full, the veil was torn! This is the Gospel: we have free access to the throne of Grace through Christ Jesus, who intercedes as High Priest on our behalf.
You see, when God first told me, “You have to cross the wilderness in order to get to the Promised Land,” I never expected this Word to be so layered. I knew this would be the ignition point, but more than anything I’ve come to realise that it has been a deeply personal journey. We’re not meant to camp out in the wilderness, but to take hold of the fullness of all that God has promised. But, even more than that, we’re meant to hold on to the Promise Maker.
We’re not meant to camp out in the wilderness, but to take hold of the fullness of all that God has promised. But, even more than that, we’re meant to hold on to the Promise Maker.
I have no doubt that this journey, this adventure, this calling, this YES to a life of obedience, will have many more obstacles and opportunities for growth. And while it may take a while for me to settle into the rhythm of things, I know for a fact that He is faithful. And that He is not slow in remembering His promises.
I am incredibly honoured that I get to run to the Nations carrying this message.
And I pray that you may have the courage to face the giants, to take hold of the fortressed cities, to cross the Jordan, so that you might fulfil the calling on your life, so that you might possess the land, so that you might see His promises fulfilled, and so that you might live in eternal fellowship with Him.
Dare to #runwildlivefree so that #everytribeandtongue may hear this message be preached, run #untilthewholeworldhears
Every place upon which the sole of your foot shall tread, that have I given to you, as I promised Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon to the great river Euphrates–all the land of the Hittites [Canaan]–and to the Great [Mediterranean] Sea on the west shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong (confident) and of good courage, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only you be strong and very courageous, that you may do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you. Turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. Joshua 1:3-7