Monday, February 15, 2010

The Sin Buildup

READ: 1 John 1:5-10
We have this treasure in
earthen vessels, that the
excellence of the power may be
of God and not of us. —2
Corinthians 4:7
For hundreds of years, windmills
around the world have been
used to pump water and to
process grains. But in the last
few decades, as wind turbines
producing electricity have
become more prevalent, a “fly
in the ointment” unexpectedly
Researchers discovered that
windpower generators worked
fine at slow speeds, but at
high-wind velocity, bugs on the
blades reduced power output.
Operators found that it was
necessary to regularly wash off
the buildup of dead insects to
avoid having them slowly
decrease the turbine ’s power.
A buildup of sin in a Christian’s
life can be a problem as well.
God has provided a way to
clear the accumulation of sins
from our lives. First John 1:9
reminds us: “If we confess our
sins, He is faithful and just to
forgive us our sins and to
cleanse us from all
unrighteousness. ” But unless we
do that often, we’ll be running
on diminished power. That’s
because the power for living
comes from God and not us (2
Cor. 4:7). When we try to live
the Christian life in our own
strength, we ’ll feel defeated—
like windmills robbed of their
God’s power can be more easily
seen and experienced in our
lives when we get rid of sin ’s
buildup every day. — Cindy
Hess Kasper
The power in our Christian life
Will be diminished by our sin;
Confession will restore our
When we’re forgiven, cleansed
within. —Sper
Sin drains our
spiritual power;
confession restores it.

daily devotion

February 15, 2010
Defining Failure
READ: Hebrews 11:24-34
Who through faith . . . out of
weakness were made strong. —
Hebrews 11:33-34During the Great Depression,
many people in the US lived in
shantytowns made up of
plywood, tarps, and blankets.
These decrepit dwellings, known
as “Hoovervilles,” housed those
who had been evicted from
their homes. Many blamed
President Herbert Hoover for
the economic woes.
Ironically, Hoover’s apparent
ineffectiveness as a leader was
in sharp contrast to his
previous record. Earlier,
Hoover ’s expertise in geological
engineering led to successful
mining projects in Australia and
China. He also effectively
spearheaded humanitarian
efforts. But when the stock
market crashed in October
1929, President Hoover was in
circumstances beyond his
control. He would be forever
tied with the economic
depression of the 1930s.
One major fiasco, however, does
not mean one ’s whole life is a
failure. What if we remembered
Abraham only as a deceiver
(Gen. 12:10-20), Moses as
disobedient to God (Num.
20:1-13), or David as a
murderer? (2 Sam. 11). Despite
their sins, these men are
remembered for their
persevering faith: “who through
faith . . . out of weakness were
made strong ” (Heb. 11:33-34).
Our life is not a failure if we’ve
repented of our sins. God can
still use us to serve Him. —
Dennis Fisher
The lessons we learn from our
Are lessons that help us
And if we are wise and we heed
Then failure is just what we
need. —D. De Haan

The man who camebackFebruary 1990: NelsonMandela is released

FOR those who stubbornly
persisted in believing that one
day peace would be possible
among South Africans —black,
brown and white—the release of
Mr Nelson Mandela from prison
had long seemed the essential
first step. His liberation would
show that the country's white
government was open to
reform. It would fulfil anti-
apartheid campaigners' favourite
slogan. And it would give blacks
a leader whose near-mythical
reputation had hoisted him
above the rivalries and dogmas
that afflict so many of his
followers. Only Mr Mandela could
lead the blacks into talks with
the government.
On February 11th the myth
stepped outside his prison gate
and walked a few steps before
ducking into a car to escape
the shouts of the world's press.
In their different ways South
Africans of all colours and
convictions are still trying to
catch their breath.
The first result of Mr Mandela's
freedom has been uncontrollable
crowds. On the day he left
prison masses of people
squeezed hip-to-hip into Cape
Town's biggest square. Mr
Mandela turned up three hours
later than the crowds had
expected. While they waited, a
series of temporarily inanimate
bodies was hauled out of the
jam, while on the outskirts of
the rally wild young blacks
looted shops and bombarded
policemen with bottles, and got
shotgun pellets in return. The
crowds were just as big in
Soweto the next day. At least
100 people have been injured in
the excitement and the fringe
violence, and some of them
have died.
South Africans will not forget
the day Mr Mandela was
released. The impact on politics
will take longer to show, but
the first signs of what it might
be are starting to take shape.
To begin with, black politics
should now become more
Although the state of
emergency remains in force, and
soldiers continue to patrol some
townships, many blacks are now
ready to be told that their
tactics —in particular, the
boycotting of white-created
political institutions —need
modification. Their leaders
therefore have a freer hand
than ever before. Mr Mandela
and the African National
Congress (ANC) may soon be in
a position to suspend the
“armed struggle” and start
talking to the government with
little fear of being called soft.
Their rivals in the Pan-Africanist
Congress, who sniff at President
F.W. de Klerk's concessions, can
probably be ignored.
For the moment Mr Mandela is
making sure of his base. He has
talked much of his loyalty to
the ANC, lest anyone think him
ready to negotiate with the
government over his comrades'
heads. At his first rally he won
the loudest cheers with his
praise for the armed struggle
and for the Communist party's
contribution to the black cause.
The next day he told journalists
that he still believed in
nationalisation. As a precondition
for any concessions on his part,
Mr Mandela is insisting on the
lifting of the state of
emergency and an amnesty for
politically motivated crimes.
This is stern stuff, which will
infuriate South Africa's white
right-wingers and make white
liberals gulp a bit. Some people
think that Mr de Klerk, noting
this and hoping for some fading
of foreign pressure on his
government, may refuse to
make more concessions unless
the ANC promises something in
return. In fact, the president
shows no sign of faltering on
his chosen course. His ministers
have made the most of Mr
Mandela's more generous
remarks —that he regards Mr de
Klerk as a man of integrity,
that he looks forward to the
time when it is possible to halt
the armed struggle, and that
the ANC does not want to
frighten whites. The tougher
talk, the ministers explain, is Mr
Mandela's party-line duty,
inevitable at the moment.
You can talk about
In short, new black flexibility
could generate more white
flexibility. It is being suggested
by people around the
government that nothing in
today's South Africa —the voting
system, residential segregation,
the future of the “independent”
homelands—is beyond
negotiation, so long as the
whites are given some
guarantees against being
swamped. The reformers in the
ruling National party favour a
comprehensive anti-apartheid
bill that would abolish all
discriminatory laws at once. The
government's chief negotiator,
Mr Gerrit Viljoen, says that in
ten years' time his party will
have a minority role in
government, if that.
Mr de Klerk insists there will be
room at the negotiating table
for a wide variety of parties.
But the prospect of talks
involving the ANC makes some
other politicians feel
uncomfortable. Mr Allan
Hendrickse, the leader of the
mixed-race chamber of
parliament, did as much as
anyone to discomfit the
government two years ago;
now nobody mentions him. The
mainly white Democratic party
also feels forgotten; some of its
leaders are rumoured to be on
the point of joining the ANC.
The rulers of the ten black
“ homelands” are the most
uncomfortable of all. In
BophuthaTswana and Ciskei they
have seen sizeable numbers of
their people demonstrating in
favour of reincorporation into
South Africa. Transkei's leader
has sensibly called a referendum
to allow his people a chance to
vote themselves back into
South Africa. Chief Mangosuthu
Buthelezi, whose Zulu power
base makes him stronger than
any other homeland leader,
seems equally nervous. As the
world watches Mr Mandela, Mr
Buthelezi insists that he too
has opposed apartheid, and
deserves some credit for it.
Over the past three years the
bloody feud in the province of
Natal between Mr Buthelezi's
followers and blacks who regard
him as too restrained has killed,
on average, ten people a week.
Mr Mandela's release produced
a fresh wave of killings, as Mr
Buthelezi's Inkatha party walked
out of peace talks with its
opponents. After the euphoria
of his release, Mr Mandela
needs to demonstrate his
capacity for statesmanship. His
first opportunity comes in Natal