The reality of Christmas

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Testimony of Malusi Phungula of CYPSA

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Introduction Michael Ngubane

We thank God that we can meet on this His day. There is so much we can thank God for. The Lord kept us during the Youth conference, He blessed us and we thank Him for all He has done. We thank God that we are well and can be here. We must not take that lightly. We thank God for those who have come to be with us today and over the festive season. God bless you. Reverend Stegen is with us today. We love him so much. He is a father who cares for us and loves us. We are happy that you can be with us this morning. Thank you for your leadership and we love the way that God uses you.

Testimony CYPSA member Malusi Phungula

My name is Malusi Phungula from Pietermaritzburg. I am thankful for this opportunity. I began smoking cigarettes in primary school and I later smoked dagga and then mandrax. Alcohol was part of my life from the age of 5 when I was offered it by older men. In high school my life worsened. I was disobedient and disrespectful. I got involved in house breaking. I was in and out of jail. I joined the 26 gang. I loved fighting but when I entered jail I was given a new name and they gave me a manual of 226 pages where I had to find the solution for anything I met up with in jail.

At home my family tried to help me. I completed school but it was difficult due to my drugging and drinking habits. In 2001 I received my code 14 and in 2004 I started working. I went in and out of jobs because of my drugging. We worshipped the ancestors at home but I noticed that whenever I slaughtered an animal I would lose my job. So I asked my father to excuse me from this practice but then I did not get a job. This caused me to go deeper into drugging. From 2009 I used whoonga. Many things happened while I used this drug. One night when I did not smoke it I decided to work for the merchant to get my drugs in that manner. There I met up with other men who spoke about KwaSizabantu. I did not know how to get to the mission because I did not work and had no money. Then I boarded the bus that fetched people for the youth conference in June. After the conference I wanted to say goodbye to whooga properly before returning to the mission. I had about R1000 which I thought I would use for drugs and the transport costs to return to the mission but I smoked all the money. I asked my brother if he could help me with money but he did not want to hear anything about God. He bought a lot of alcohol to drink for me, though. One night I hurt him and almost killed him. I was able to get to the mission another way. What is impossible for man is possible with God. God will make sure something happens. A word from 1 Corinthians 15:26 is constantly with me: The last enemy to be destroyed is death. I was dead but now I am alive. Death has no sting because that death has been turned to life. God made it possible for me to return here. I thank God. I also thank Reverend Stegen and Ms Lydia Dube because it was through their obedience that the death I was in changed to life. I often tried to commit suicide because I did not see the use of my life. I was advised to make restitution for the things I did wrong even though I might have been imprisoned or killed. I was also able to destroy a grocery packet of pills I had brought along with me because I thought I would make my life right and afterwards commit suicide using the pills. I encourage the young men to be serious about things. God works. People I reconciled with recognised that I had changed.

With regards Comprehensive Sex Education, if children are taught this subject at schools next year there will be many unwanted pregnancies and much anger because of it. Our law in South Africa encourages abortion. Those who have had abortions where the graves of these children are in the drains or the mouths of dogs, should stop with this practice. You may see it as a foetus but it is a soul that is created by God. If I could I would visit all the provinces and make people aware about how the teachers have been equipped to teach this subject.

Albu van Eeden

I would like to look at Christmas and the way in which it differentiates between the life of faith and the life of a dream. A person living by faith is not living in a dream world. A person living by faith is living in reality with both feet on the ground.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed] who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!
Luke 2:1-4,13-14

The world always gravitates to life in a dream. The testimony demonstrates that a person who lives by faith faces the reality of his life. Living by faith does not mean you escape the reality, on the contrary, you face the reality of your life.

The world celebrates Christmas but it is always with the dream-like scene of Mary, Joseph and the baby. There are angels in the background, shepherds kneeling and worshipping. The baby is lying on clean straw. Joseph is portrayed as a strong man who cares for his family. The baby looks weak but invincible. There is a shining halo around the head of Mary while a moon rises in the background. This was not the reality.

The reality was a young girl who fell pregnant before marriage through the Holy Spirit. Then she married Joseph. He may have been crushed by the news but the angel appeared to him and gave him hope and faith. They were ruled with a rod of iron by a powerful heathen kingdom and when it was close to the birth of the child they had to register in the town of Bethlehem. They had to travel about 80 kilometres to Bethlehem. Joseph had to hold onto his faith and trust God despite of the harshness of the circumstances. He had no hotel reservations. He did not have a family member who could host them. He had to look for a place to stay. If we live by faith, things very often worsen. There was no doctor to help Mary. There was nothing to alleviate the pain of childbirth. There was nothing in the place where she gave birth to Jesus Christ. Then there was crazy King Herod who ordered all the children 2 years and younger to be killed. This was the reality of Christmas but the world does not see it. The world portrays it as a wonderful time.

Do you know what really happened? Christ did not come in glory with all the accompaniments of a king. He came to a dark forest where you and I were wandering around in a lost state. That was the reality of Christmas. He came to a world full of suffering, hatred, anger, jealousy, laziness, broken hearts and tears. He entered this dark forest to join you and me in this place and to lead us step by step in this dark forest. This is not what it is like when you live in a dream: you take your eyes off God, you run away from being unpopular, you avoid standing out above the crowd, you join the world’s way of thinking.

During the conference we spoke about Joseph, a man who was sold by his brothers. This is an example of a man living in a dream and guided by his own emotions: If Joseph was not living in the reality of a God who is in charge of everything, Joseph’s reaction would have been: “Let me make the Ishmaelites (those who sold me) my friends because my brothers sold me as a slave.” Do you know how many people have this way of thinking? If they are not treated correctly they react in this way: “In that case, I will join the enemies of Isaac and his descendants because they at least accept me. Let me join the world because you see the way my own people treat me? I will go further, I will marry an Ishmaelite because these are my new people they are my friends. I was sold as a slave but at least they welcomed me, took care of me and gave me food.” How blind can a young person be who lives in a dream? People who bought you as a slave, you make your friends. You prefer to associate with them and marry them. “What’s the point in staying faithful to God?” you ask. “It gets me nowhere. Look at God’s children. I don’t like the way they treat me but that’s fine I’ll join the world!” If that has been your attitude you have abandoned serving the living God for your comfort and because of the hatred in your heart. A person who lives with hatred in his heart is no longer sober minded. He does not think clearly anymore. If you have hatred in your heart your mind will be not be clear. The fumes of hell are rising and clouding your brain. This was what Karl Marx said before he started his theory of Communism, “The fumes of hell are rising and clouding my brain.” He taught people to hate the rich, to start a communist system where nobody was rich.

Allow me to relate a story which demonstrates the signs of a person living in a dream.

Two Jewish brothers, Homer and Langley Collyer, lived in New York. Their father was a doctor. They each had a university degree. When their father died their lives started changing. They began withdrawing themselves and living in seclusion. They nailed planks across the front door of their house that nobody could enter.
This is the first sign of a person who has been caught by the devil to live in a dream. There are certain parts of his life that he closes off and he is not willing to come to the light with those parts. The room is closed and no one enters there. Have you nailed planks across the doors of some of the rooms in your heart? That is a sign that you have stopped living by faith. You are living in your own dream.
They started living alone. They cut off the electricity and water to the house. One of them became blind but they did not seek help. By the end of WWII everybody had forgotten that there was a Collyer family in New York. In 1947 the police received a message that someone had died in the house. They tried to enter through the front door but could not.
If you have closed some of the rooms in your house, even if someone tries to help you, you will not allow them because it is your secret.
Finally they located a window on the first floor and were able to break into the house. On the bed was the corpse of the dead brother who had been blind. In his hand he clasped, not a Bible, a 1922 newspaper which he could not read himself because he was blind. He was holding onto that as he died.
This a sign that you are not living by faith. You hold onto things of this world – a newspaper that will help you nothing in eternity. You will hold onto the internet and your cell phone, things that will not help you at all in eternity. Nowadays, he would have held onto his cell phone. How pathetic! If you follow the things of this world, don’t you realise that you are becoming an enemy of God. You will adopt the customs of this world and it will not help you get to heaven one day. The things you love to look at – the sport – will mean nothing to you in eternity. It is useless.
These two brothers had so much money from their father but they did not use it. The police began digging through the house. It took them three weeks to dig to the ground floor and reach the front door. Three weeks! They removed 140 tonnes of rubbish from the house. Broken washing machines, old bicycles, things that were worthless.
How much rubbish have you been collecting in your life? Why are you holding onto that? Do you not realise that you are saved by faith, not by living in a dream? It is faith that brings you into contact with the reality of your life as we heard in the testimony. It reminds you of incidents that you need to make right and apologise for. Faith in a living God makes you confess, make restitution and apologise for what you have done.

At the front door they found the other brother. He was killed by a trap that he built in order to crush someone who might try and enter the house. His blind brother could not help him.
How many people has God not brought across your path to lead them to forgiveness, to salvation, to the cross but you have failed because you have been crushed by your own fears. You think someone has poisoned your food, you hate that person and go against that person but you do not even know whether it is true. This grudge against a person who may be innocent, eventually crushes you. Your family, your sisters and brothers who need you to bring the gospel to them, are left behind blind with no one to feed them. They still cling onto to their superstitions which are powerless. Whether you worship an idol or the world, God must set you free from that because unless you change, your friends and family will die with no one to feed them. How many are guilty today because some of their friends and family have died in hopelessness because they were busy with their dreams and worldly things?

I will list a few other things which are signs of people who live in a dream. To be sober is to have God’s perspective on what is happening.

Friends can take the soberness away from you. Through the internet you will make contact with the weirdest people on earth who do weird sexual things that are unmentionable. What you do not know is that only 5 out of billions of people do things like that because they have a website and you read it. You see all the sick forms of porn and think that is God.

Money. A person who trusts in his money is not sober.

Marriage for a young person.

Pride. If you live in pride you are living in a dream. That is why Paul says in Romans 12:3  For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. We come out of a time where we have witnessed people suffering spiritual shipwreck because they have thought too much of themselves. I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgement, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him. Do you know why you get upset when some pushes into the queue, drives irresponsibly or if a minister steps on your toes? Because you think more highly of yourself than you should. A proud person lives in a dream. But Christ came into this world to save those who are willing to let go of all this and return to reality.

 

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! Luke 12: 49 This is the spirit with which Jesus entered the world. 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. Luke 12: 51-53 This is what the baby came for when he was born in the manger. He came to bring this fire. Thank God that we still have people amongst us who were present when God first brought this fire and have remained faithful all these years. Reverend Stegen, thank you for your example. We honour you and pray that God will give us the grace to be just as faithful to Him, to live by faith whatever it may cost and refuse to be dragged into the world’s way of remembering Christmas.

Conclusion Dietmar Joosten

Thank you for the Lord’s word. May this Christmas be a Christmas with a difference where you experience this Child who came and that His fire might burn in our hearts. That fire will enable us to think of others and serve them.

KwaSizabantu Choir

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