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Stronger – part 4

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God desires for you and me to become stronger. Stronger emotionally, in faith, in love and stronger in the sense that we rest on His sufficient grace.

Stronger, Stronger – part 2, Stronger – part 3

Today, I will continue to talk about how to become stronger, for His Glory and to help fulfill His purposes in our lives.

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Process

As a Potter moulds his pot, so too, should we trust the process as God moulds us.

You might be wondering regularly, how do I move from my “now” to my “future”. The key to is to embrace the process. Very few people like It’s a process! They do not want to go step for step to what God made them to be, they want it NOW!

As individuals, I believe we all aspire to grow, see good changes in our lives and accomplish great things in our lifetime. (I pray that you embrace growth and change).

However, it is the commitment to the unglamorous things, the difficult things, the trials and tribulations in our lives that will inevitably make us stronger and help us get to where we want to be.

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Joy in the wait

Finding joy in the waiting and gratitude in the process is never an easy thing, but it is something we should all strive for. I try really hard to learn this on a daily basis, for instance, when my laptop freezes or needs to do an update, it takes time to boot back up. For someone who is not known for patience, this is a big deal to me (even though I’m sure you must be thinking “that a dumb example). But often, it is the smaller frustrating things throughout your day that steal your joy and brings about the imbalance in your mood.

No one likes waiting for things, especially when it comes to waiting on God. Yet in reality some of the greatest things I have been able to receive, are things I have had to wait for. In order to strengthen us along the journey I believe we need two things –

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1. Daily Devotion 

Our daily devotion to God is one of the most underrated things in our lives. 

For it is in our daily devotion where we can forgive others, repent, be filled afresh, listen to Him, be humbled, be renewed – it’s how we grow to become more Christ-like. Without devoting ourselves daily we become like a plant in the desert in need of water.

Daily Devotion is the key to unlocking your Spiritual Strength

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2. Divine Power

As well as the need for our own daily devotion, we can unlock God’s divine power.

I say this because reading your Bible every day isn’t always enough when you receive the devastating phone call that you never expected. Going to church every week isn’t enough, when you have been threatened to be evicted from your house because you can’t afford to pay the bills. Posting good Christian quotes with hashtags isn’t enough when you are fed up of waiting for God to bring you your blessings.

Your daily devotion will make you stronger, but it won’t always make you strong enough. We need his divine power.

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:13-14

Divine power starts when we stop!

There will be moments when you cannot do anything but to stop, pray and trust God.

I’ll give you another example. I have a physical condition where sometimes my food gets lodged in my throat. Thankfully it gets stuck below my windpipe so I can still breathe (Hey, look at that, just by writing about it and I found thankfulness in a panicked situation). It can take anything from 2 min to 30 min, and a bit of coca-cola or enos to be dislodged. Throughout that time, all I can do is pause, pray and trust God has got me covered – His divine power has helped me more time than I can count or remember.

Your daily devotion will sustain you, but sometimes the only thing that will be able to carry us through is His divine power.

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When miracles occur

The greatest miracles I have seen are not when we do all the work, but when God does the work for us.

If we desire to become stronger we need to trust in His divine power.

Where in your life do you need to trust in God’s divine power?

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Psalm 23 – The Great Shepherd

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in The Gospel of John, 0 comments

Stronger – part 3

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God desires for you and me to become stronger. Stronger emotionally, in faith, in love and stronger in the sense that we rest on His sufficient grace.

Stronger, Stronger – part 2

Today, I will continue to talk about how to become stronger, for His Glory and to help fulfill His purposes in our lives.

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Abandon

Lukewarm

Have you ever drank coffee that has been standing for too long and it turns to lukewarm and even undrinkable? Unfortunately, I do that sometimes. I don’t finish that cup! I throw it out and make a fresh cuppa.

When the Bible talks about being Lukewarm, it’s not talking about a temperature of a liquid, but the temperature of your heart. 

If you have been a Christian for a while I assume that you would know what it is like to plateau in your relationship with Jesus. Perhaps through no fault of your own, trials or disappointments, it is easy to lose the passion you once had.

Let me set the scene: Peter has just denied Jesus, and after doing the exact thing he said he would not do, he finds himself back in his boat, fishing. Back to his old way of life and the things he used to do before he knew Jesus. The same happens to us. We also go through phases of full on faith and times when we resort to doubt, and go back to what is known and comfortable to. Plateauing and just cruising in the waters. 

Devastation fills his heart as the waves rock his old and familiar boat. Not only has Jesus died, but the expectation he had in his journey had not turned out like he had planned. 

He had become lukewarm.

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Jesus meets you in your place of need

But we see that Jesus meets him in his place of need. See John 21:4-7:

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realide that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

Peter had a decision to make. Am I willing to be ‘all in’? 

This decision was not one to be made lightly, for he knew it was going to require everything. In fact, I believe that he knew that if he was going to jump out of the boat, he was going to be leaving the boat for the last time. 

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What is in your boat?

Lay down whats’s in your boat and leave in order to pursue Jesus.

Your identity, career, friends, family, comforts?

Just like Peter we need to:

1. Choose – The power of free will to choose whether we will pursue Jesus and leave the boat.

2. Abandon – To what degree are we willing to lay everything down to follow Him? What do we need to abandon?

3. Remember– We leave these things behind because we remember who we are and the plans that he has for our lives. Where do you need to remind yourself of who you really are?

When you build your kingdom your future is only going to be as big as the boat.

But when you build God’s kingdom your future is as big as the Ocean.

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in The Gospel of John, 0 comments

A mother’s love is immeasurable!

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Never take your parents for granted

I begin this post by talking about never taking your parents for granted, not because I did or that I ever will, but because there are so many out there that believe or think that because they’re “all grown up now” you don’t have to pay attention to your parents. So many believe it’s a burden to visit their parents or look after them in their old age. They are quick to get irritated with them if they call too often or become too demanding.

One thing I can promise you, if you do not spend as much time as possible with them, love them, appreciate them, call them often and never ever take them for granted now while they are alive, you will regret it – one moment they there, the next they gone. A moment you will wish you never have to experience. Just because you are too busy with your own life, or too ashamed to be with them, too ashamed because they “old” or because you did’t feel like they needed your love and respect, is no excuse to complain about them or abandon them. Trust me, you are always their child no matter how old you are. You will always need your parents. Always. When they gone, the hard truth is, it’s too late.

If you knew that this was the last day your mom would be alive, you would climb onto your mother’s lap (I did that every night until I was at least 7 years old). You would tell her about all the times you wanted to carry her cross. You would want to take away her pain. She often cried herself to sleep wondering how do I raise these 3 children on my own? You’d, crawl beside her to hold her. You would feel her pain in the pit of your stomach and the deepest parts of your heart. Your presence would make her smile though. She’d forget her many troubles, her losses. Today, you’d hope to do that again and again and again…

You’d give anything, absolutely anything to have her back for one more hug, one more conversation, one more I love you, one more piece of mommy advice, and then you could watch her leave, in a bright white light as she returned to Jesus’ side.

Psalm 23

My mom loved Christ. She loved spending time in His presence and His word. She left this earthly world on 27 April 2019, in South Africa that is Freedom Day, and on that day, mom, you were set free of your pain and suffering in this world and set free to sit at the right hand of Christ.

My mom loved Psalm 23 the most.

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Mom loved teaching the grandchildren from the Bible too. Here is a video of her teaching her eldest granddaughter, Sharon-Leigh, from the Bible. And guess what? It’s Psalm 23.

Mom’s home was not only our home, but home to all our friends too. She never had a problem with having a house full of people, in fact, she loved it. She would always make sure we’re having fun and that we’re fed. Our humble home truly was everyone’s home.

At Mom’s funeral we played a song from Newsboys – That Home. It really catches the beauty and character of my Mom. It catches me in the heart every time I hear it and I shed a tear.

I miss my Mom every single day. Some days are harder than others. Another song we played at Mom’s funeral was Donna Taggart – Jealous of the Angels. I miss her so much that I made a video montage with this song. The photos in this montage only show a small glimpse of the life she lived. She wasn’t one for the glamorous life, as long as her family was always around her.

Final words for Mom

I’m a mommy’s boy. There, I said it, publicly. It seems like I spent much of my early years trying to avoid that label, but the least I can do is publicly acknowledge that fact right to the end. Mom was the person most responsible for shaping who I am. I used to fall asleep on my mom’s lap every night until I was 7 years old and mom would carry me off to bed.

Everybody thinks they have a great mom, but as kids, we knew we had the best mom because everybody else told us so. She mothered all our friends who came to the house, even those with perfectly good mothers of their own, but her home was a humble sanctuary where all our friends and family loved to come to.

Mom had some bad luck with cars. Had a brown Ford Cortina stolen, 2 Fords Escorts, one that was bumped on a dare by one my siblings that shall not be named, the other Escort so heavy on fuel you’d be better off pushing it.

We have a running joke that is decades old and is still used today… she bumped the gate reversing out the driveway when I was about 5 years old. I immediately said to Mom “Don’t bumpa da gate”. Ever since that, she’d stick her head out the window while reversing and we’d always remind her not to bump the gate, sometimes she still did. She also had some very creative words when someone cut her off in traffic.


I am her last born, the youngest of 3 children. A mother pours a lot of love into all her children, but being the youngest, the rules were relaxed a bit for me, I got away with more than my siblings did. Except for one embarrassing night, I worked as a waiter during my high school years and, one night after a work shift ended early, I decided to go hang with friends at a nearby pool hall. Beer in hand having a great time, I looked across the room to see my mom walking toward me with intent. Before I knew it she was dragging me out, dressed in her slippers and gown.


Mom’s favourite animal was the Elephant. Just look around her home and there are elephant teddies and ornaments everywhere. She loved their gracefulness and how tight-nit elephants are as a family. We took Mom to the Elephant Sanctuary and as luck would have it the sanctuary had recently merged with the Monkey Sanctuary next door so the signage hadn’t been correctly placed yet, so it was a surprise for mom right up until the guide announced that we will be interacting and walking with elephants today. The absolute joy and surprise on her face was priceless. She loved every second of it.

Today I understand why she loved elephants so much and it’s because of how family orientated they are, how protective they are, just like mom was, and Mom’s heart was as big as elephant.

Marinda Christina Baragwanath, wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, aged 60, passed away in her bed in Boksburg, in her favourite pyjamas at home surrounded by her family — as she would have wanted. Her passing came much longer than the 6 months doctors gave her to live, so she beat the odds. And that’s just how Mom has always been, beating whatever odds were stacked against her. This disease may have broken her body, but it never broke her faith and spirit. Her faith and determination to beat this disease never wavered. Faith so strong we could all learn from it.


When Mom first started on her medication, she felt a little high and was spaced out. She walked into our bedroom one night to say good night. She came and hugged and kissed me and then walked around the bed to hug and kiss my wife, Lou. On her way back to her room, we could see she was a little wobbly so I jumped up to help her. I took her, arm in arm, like a gentleman, we walked a little, stopped, and she looked up at me with so much love and admiration that only a mother could have for a son.

Mom had exceptional will power. During her illness, it became more and more difficult for her to swallow solid food. Mom had the will power to chew on biltong a drywors just for the taste of it and not swallow it. (she’d give the pieces she couldn’t eat to one of the dogs so often that the dog would outside her bedroom window for hours waiting for it).

She would never complain about the food she had to eat. She was always smiling through her gourmet meals such as mixed veg purity and ice cream, mixed together…delicious right?

Mom read her bible every night. And after having said good night, she would retreat to her bedroom and listen to gospel music with headphones on singing along, for hours, and in perfect tune of course. We loved it. I remember one night, I went to check on her and she had fallen asleep while listening to music. I gently woke her and she awoke with a fright and said: “I’m not sleeping.” I replied saying, “Mom, I think you should go sleep now” to which she said, “I’m not a child.” Oh, how we laughed.


One night, while having supper, Mom was eating a bowl of muscles. I asked Mom, “how’re your muscles”, to which she replied: “They good”, pulling her biceps. She had a sense of humour right through her illness.


If mom ever got annoyed or irritated with me, a simple “Love you Mom” and she’d smile and feel okay again.

Mom was always soft-hearted and the peacekeeper. Ask anyone. She’d always tell us not to fight. But, as kids, if she was cross with us, then the Afrikaans came out, and we knew we were in “groot kak”.

If you had the privilege of even just meeting my mom for 5 seconds, she’d have crept into your heart. I believe everyone loved my mom. She had a warm smile and made an effort to connect with everyone she met.

Mom held the family together and raised us under difficult circumstances. She always taught us to love and honour our father, but I always thought she would have preferred for us to love her a little more. Secretly I did. There was nothing she wouldn’t do to make sure we were cared for. She’d walk to work to save on petrol, sell her leave back to the company for a little extra cash, making sure we always had food in our bellies, beds to sleep in and in so doing, teaching us the value of earning your way in life, learning lessons from her ways that we could take into our own lives.

But everything that comes from the heart, the real essence of me, and pretty much everything important that I learned as a youngster, that’s from my mom.

She’s the one who made sure I never went through a day of my life doubting that somebody loved me or doubting that somebody was proud of me. She taught me to wear my flaws like armour, that way no one can use it against me.

As a parent, grandparent and friend, my mom had an extraordinary ability to make each of us feel stronger and more confident in our own identity, giving us our own sense of independence and mental toughness which, speaking for me has been such an asset in so many ways in my life. She will live in our memories and our hearts forever and I will always be extremely proud to call myself her son.

Mom, we may have lost you in the physical world but you are now in eternity forever. You may be gone, but you will always be in our hearts and memories.

The last words she spoke before she passed were “It’s so beautiful”. We believe she was given a peek into heaven just before she went home.

“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Mom, you were a legend, the legend of all legends. An Angel in the shape of my Mom.

I miss you.

Have a gatskop lekker day!

Posted by Stephen Baragwanath, 2 comments