Friday, July 30, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-07-30 [Seven Laws of Spiritual Success] Soulcare: Final word....

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John15:5
Let's just state this as simply as possible:
Jesus said:

Soulcare is about connecting to HIM!
Nothing fancy, nothing too complex, it's about you and me opening our hearts regularly to Him. (We do this by prayer, Bible Study, Worship, Obedience, etc but it boils down to connecting to Him.)
The alternative is nothing.
That brings us to the end of the reflections of the "Seven Laws of Spiritual Success" by Selwyn Hughes. Hope it has been valuable.
Any ideas for the next series?
Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, July 29, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-07-29 [Seven Laws of Spiritual Success] Soulcare: Centrality of Scripture

9 So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, `Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 1Samuel3:9

Scripture is our best starting point for life and for soul-care.

It is an abundant treasure trove in which we can find:
- the stories of real human beings who journeyed with God
- passionate poems of God-followers who experience joy and sorrow
- intimate pen-sketches of the life and ministry of Jesus
- the struggle of those who tried to hear God's word in the midst of history
- laws that reveal God's justice
- lessons from the mistakes of those who blew it
- the adventures of the church spreading out across cultures
- the warnings and encouragements offered to the early churches
- wisdom nuggets from those who wrestled with life and God
- irony, drama, humour, poetry, rich imagery and real LIFE.
- the logical details of the awesome plan of salvation

BUT the Bible is not an end in itself - we are not Biblicists - we don't worship Scripture, but we read it because we believe in a God who speaks to us and that the Bible reminds us what He is like and how He "sounds".

Samuel didn't know it was God speaking and he didn't know how to answer.

We serve a God who is in constant DIALOGUE with us. God speaks in our circumstances, He whispers in our consciences, He uses the wise words of others to prompt us and He nudges our spirits in the right direction. He will hug us in a sunrise, comfort us in a sunset and impress us in a waterfall. He will calm us with a rush of peace in the midst of a time of trouble and He will invigorate us in a time of praise and worship.

But we can often miss these "words" because we forget what He "sounds" like.

When I throw myself into His Word on a regular basis, I find that I know what He "sounds" like and recognise His words in the rest of my life. And in Scripture I learn how to answer when God speaks.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-07-27 [Seven Laws of Spiritual Success] Soulcare: Practical Ideas

Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always. Psalms105:4

Selwyn Hughes comes to the conclusion that daily time with God is the foundation of soul-care. (This is a theme I dealt with in detail in my series on how to have a daily Quiet Time which you can find under "resources" on )

Here is a summary of the practical hints Selwyn Hughes gives:

Unfortunately today the daily Quiet Time (QT) is unfashionable but it is still the most effective habit.
- Are you too busy? (Ask yourself "but when will it stop?" Start and see things fall into place!)
- Is having a daily QT a bit like legalism? (But what about good habits?)
- How can I pray at all times? (Have to learn to pray at SOMEtime before all times)

But How?
1. Decide on a Time
Choose an amount of time and a regular time and then ring fence it. More is better.
Guard your privacy
Avoid the phone and other intrusions
Mornings seems to be best...

2.You may have to practice "studied neglect." i.e. choose to neglect other things (a tv show or reading the newspaper from front to back)
He will help you re-cast your priorities.

3. Choose a spot
This creates associations and atmosphere's that help you.

4. Read your Bible
This should be at the centre of your Quiet Time. It is always fresh!
"...we ought to reverence it, respect it, store our memory with precious fragments of it, learn its highways and byways and make the reverent reading of it a privileged part of every day."
-Pray before your read.
-Read slowly: scribble down summaries, notes, questions.
-Meditate on it: "Great matters have to be given a second thought." Memorised Scripture becomes the "unseen Sculptor who will chisel in the secret chambers of your soul the living forms that constitute a deeper knowledge of Him."
-Listen to what it says
Learn to Listen to God..
Develop a "trained ear." - Takes Time.
"As exercise strengthens the body and education enlarges the mind, so our sensitivity to God develops and grows as we learn to wait in silence before Him."
"My sheep listen to my voice..."

- Begin with Worship (Hallowed by Your Name)
- Repent and Confess
- Intercede for others and yourself
- Thanksgiving
And remember, He always answers. (No, Slow, Grow, Go)
Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, July 23, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-07-23 [Seven Laws of Spiritual Success] Soulcare: BagPipe Heart

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
16 You said, `No, we will flee on horses.'
Therefore you will flee!
You said, `We will ride off on swift horses.'
Therefore your pursuers will be swift! Isaiah30:15-16
A valued friend responded to my eDev yesterday...
Picking up on Henry Drummond's quote of the heart being an elastic chamber that expands with God in it or shrinks without Him, my friend suggested that we have the choice between being vuvuzelas or bagpipes. The key difference is not in the mono-tone of the one compared to the variety of the other, but in the bag, which, when filled, allows the piper to play a much longer note than the human lung can blow the vuvu!
Isaiah records God's Word to those who think they can keep going in their own strength. The bottom line? In the Rat Race the rats win.
In repentance, rest, quietness and trust is salvation and strength.
Soul-care means we fill the "sak" (bag) of the "doedel" (tune or ditty) (Sorry, I just think the Afrikaans "doedelsak" is so onomatopoeic) with the breath of God.
The old hymn says it best:
Breathe on me, breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.
Breathe on me, breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will,
To do and to endure.
Breathe on me, breath of God,
Blend all my soul with Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.
Breathe on me, breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
Of Thine eternity.
(Edwin Hatch 1878)
Have a "doedel" weekend!
Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, July 22, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-07-22 [Seven Laws of Spiritual Success] Soulcare: It's vital

O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water. Psalms63:1
This is Selwyn Hughes' Seventh Law and like Stephen Covey's Seventh Habit ("Sharpen the Saw") this one takes us inward again. An analogy that works for me is that the first six laws are like ripples in a pond spreading outward and the seventh law throws a stone back into the middle so that the ripples can start again!
Henry Drummond described the soul as the "chamber with elastic and contractile walls, which can be expanded with God as its guest, illimitably but which without God shrinks and shrivels until every vestige of the Divine is gone and God's image is left without God's Spirit."
Many of us started a journey with God, but because we have not learned the art of Soul-Care, the hurly-burly of life has squeezed God's influence out of our souls and we have been overcome with the noise and chaos of life...
Soulcare is about making space and time where we can open our souls to God again so that He may whisper into our spirits, strengthen our character, galvanise our convictions, nourish our self-images, love our inner-child and heal our brokenness.
His tools are Truth (His Word), surrender (Prayer and Confession), Stillness (Time out) and the "still small voice" of His Spirit.
Selwyn Hughes says this: "The soul is renewed in daily contact with God. Neglect this and the result will be emptiness of the soul. The soul needs time with God it if is to develop and grow. Those Christians who say they are too busy to spend time with God in prayer and meditation will find that this neglect of the soul will have serious repercussions in their lives...
For years now, a conviction has been growing in my heart that the Christian life rises and falls at the point of the devotional."
(More to come in the next few days...)
Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-07-21 [Seven Laws of Spiritual Success] Renewal: What needs to be done.

1 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
2 Take words with you
and return to the LORD.
Say to him:
"Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
3 Assyria cannot save us;
we will not mount war-horses.
We will never again say `Our gods'
to what our own hands have made,
for in you the fatherless find compassion. Hosea14:1-3
We've talked about daily renewal:
- God's mercy is new every morning - It's abundant grace!
- It's about realising that we can't dig our own wells. (Broken cisterns)
- It's a soul-quake where we recognise the shaky ground of self and the solid ground of faith.
Repentance is simply a description of what going back to Him is like.
Many of us go through Regret, Remorse and Reformation (we realise we're in trouble, we're sorry about it and we try to put it right) but that is not repentance. (None of these take us back to God)
Repentance (or Renewal) is about going back to God.
The goal of repentance is to get back to God and nothing short of that will satisfy.
If we repent because we have lost inner peace or have a sense of guilt, then we have not really repented. Repentance is about being close to God. If we don't go for that, we will dig our own wells.
So what does Hosea say:
1. We go to God - conscious of our sin.
2.“Take Words...â€� No fumbling on the issue â€" call a spade a spade
- I failed to trust God with my longings
- I failed to believe that He loves me
- I failed to see the value He gives my life.
3.We acknowledge that no-one else can save else
- Not Assyria
- Not Horses
- Not other powers
- The fatherless (powerless) find compassion in You
4. Offer the fruit of your lips - praise.
Let's sum it up:
Renewal (repentance) is a daily (sometimes hourly!) prayer that is offered in sincere faith and sounds something like this:
"Lord, I need YOU, because my life is like a broken cistern that holds no fresh water, only You can save me, and I give myself to You again. Thank You that I am forgiven and loved. So here am I - send me."
Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, July 16, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-07-16 [Seven Laws of Spiritual Success] Renewal: A Soul Quake

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple
5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah6:1-8
Selwyn Hughes quotes John White in this chapter:
"It is a terrible thing to live as a Christian and yet to live independently of the life offered to us in Christ, to relegate God to irrelevance."
Craig Groeschel (now the pastor of one of the most dynamic church movements in the world) wrote a whole book about discovering that he was living as a "Christian Atheist." He called himself a Christian and worked as a pastor but he was functionally an atheist. Fortunately things have changed in his life.
Selwyn Hughes says that we need an "earthquake of the soul"
It happened to Isaiah:
Disillusioned and frightened by the Socio-Political situation of the day, he went to the temple and got much more than he bargained for:
1. A God who was bigger, holier and closer than his preconceptions. The God he met in the temple was on the throne, was attended by angelic powers and emanated glorious dazzling awe-inspiring Holiness: Pure unadulterated goodness.
2. Isaiah recognised his own smallness. He realised the inadequacy of his own schemes, credentials and plans. He was struck with his failure to come close to what God had made him to be and his complicity in the brokenness of society.
3. He made himself whole-heartedly available to do God's work.
Unusually this "call" of Isaiah does not come in ch.1 but ch.6 and while it may be retrospective, it does give one a feel that maybe this is not a once-off but an ongoing thing.
His soul-quake(s) gave the Old Testament some of the most beautiful promises.
Quake-proof buildings are a good thing - quake-proof souls are not.
Hope you have a soul-quake sometime this weekend!
Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, July 15, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-07-15 [Seven Laws of Spiritual Success] Renewal: Deliberate Dependence

Be appalled at this, O heavens, and shudder with great horror,
My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me, the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water. Jeremiah.2:12-13
Jeremiah summarised the stubborn independence of the sinful Israel with a powerful image: On the one hand a spring of Living Water and on the other a self-dug defunct cistern. (A cistern was a hole dug in the ground and lined with clay that would hold rainwater)
Jesus described what a God-connected life could look like in John 7:
"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive."
Imagine the contrast between that life-giving stream and the stagnant puddles one might find in a broken cistern. (Come on! Stop! Don't read any more until you've imagined it!) Stream vs Stagnant Puddle!
Spiritually speaking - this is true for many of us - we're trying to live on past spiritual experiences - making excuses of busy-ness and stress and so we ignore the Living Stream of the Holy Spirit's still small voice and try to cope on cistern water.
Why do we do this?
Maybe I'm speaking for myself, but I think there are two big factors:
1. We're chicken! We're scared that the Still Small Voice is going to challenge us out of our comfort zones!
2. We are rebelliously independent - we want to be in charge. Going to the Stream means we do it on His terms not ours. And so we drink cistern water in the ultimate act of cutting off our noses to spite our faces.
Maybe its time for some deliberate dependence: I won't take another step into this day without taking a drink from the Stream.
Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-07-14 [Seven Laws of Spiritual Success] Renwal: It's Daily

22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. Lamentations3:22-23
The sixth of Selwyn Hughes Spiritual Laws (as sure as gravity) is all about daily renewal. Although the Law itself is pretty obvious, I find that all of us neglect this law in practice.
Our walk with God is a relationship.
Many of us think that we give our hearts to Jesus once and we repent once and then its all a done deal. But our walk with God is a daily returning to Him.
Whether I like it or not, a sincere relationship with God will involve recognising every day that I have drifted away from Him and need to return to Him in ongoing repentance.
Many people don't like the idea of coming back to God "cap in hand" all the time, but our verse for the day puts a new angle on it. God's mercies are always way ahead of us. We can't catch God empty-handed of mercy and compassion. We can't surprise Him with more brokenness than He is able to heal.
His loving-kindness and compassion are new every day - we are not coming "cap in hand" before a tyrant with a scarcity mentality. We can come to a God who daily offers more than we could ever need!
That kind of makes you want to run to Him doesn't it? :-)
Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-07-13 [Seven Laws of Spiritual Success] Quick Review

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs3:5-6
The Soccer World Cup is over: it's back to school, back to traffic and back to the routines after six weeks of a very different vibe here in South Africa. We need to give thanks to God for His hand over our land and pray that the good work He has begun will be completed in us! May He make our paths straight as we trust in Him!
We're going to get back into Selwyn Hughes' "Seven Laws" as we still have two laws to go, but before we get into them, let's look back at the ground we've covered so far.
Here are the first five laws with a one sentence summary and a relevant verse.
1.The Primacy of Worship:
Recognise that living for God's honour is the only goal that is really worth pursuing.
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 14:23f)
2.Making Gratitude a Habit
A "Gratitude Attitude" puts our eyes on the Giver of the gifts and keeps us from cynicism and depression.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col.3:17)
Trouble and hardship are not an exception to the rule - we were told to expect trouble - we need to rely on God and push through trouble.
“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.� (Heb.12:3)
4.The Art of Forgiveness
Are you eating poison and hoping the person you're mad at will die? Let it go!
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.� (Col.3:13)
5.Give yourself to Others.
Service is the very nature of the Trinity - As Jesus washed feet, so must we.
“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.� (Matt.20:25-28)
Tomorrow we go on to Daily Repentance and Renewal.
Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at