Christopher Peppler

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Choose This Day

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In just days from today, registered South African voters will make their way to their designated station and make their mark on three ballot papers. Almost all political pundits have billed this 2024 election as the most important in South African history. The 1994 election ended nationalist apartheid and opened the vote to all citizens. That election was certainly historic, but this 2024 election is monumental. Why? Because not only do we stand at the very edge of a social and economic abyss, but we also cast our vote for either Democracy or Marxist Socialism.

Why This Election is so Important

This might sound to you to be overdramatic and overstated, but consider the following: Most analysts predict a coalition government as the most likely outcome of the elections. The African National Congress (ANC) will likely remain the major party with 37% – 42% of the vote. To form a government, they’ll need to partner with a party or parties holding around 20%. There are two main options: an Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) combination (around 24% together), or a Democratic Alliance (DA) and Inkatha (IFP) and the balance of the Multi-Party Charter (MPC) combination (around 32% together). These two options represent different ideologies: Radical Socialism/Marxism (EFF and MK) and Conservative Democracy (DA and MPC).

Why do I contend that the one grouping represents Marxism and why is this such a problem for the nation? Well, here are some of the main negative features in the manifestos of EFF and MK:

  • Expropriation without compensation resulting in the nationalisation of land throughout the country. Not only would this remove the rights of individuals and corporations to own what they have paid for and developed, but it would also present the single biggest obstacle to international investment.
  • The nationalisation of banks, insurance companies, mines, the Reserve Bank and so on. This would place huge power and control in the hands of the government and individuals and clans within the government.
  • The change of the system of law from Anglo/Dutch to Traditional African Tribal. I see this as negative and not just different: Anglo-Dutch law is practised by all Western first-world countries, codified and standardised, with a hierarchical system in that it has appeal and high courts, and a focus on individual rights. Moreover, in South Africa, it is subject to the National Constitution as interpreted by a Constitutional Court. Traditional African law, on the other hand, is limited to some African nations and differs from country to country and even tribe to tribe, not codified and standardised, is more oral than documented, has no system of higher or appeals courts, more focused on group cohesion than individual rights, and not subject to the national constitution.
  • A conversion from a constitutional democracy to a system where the Parlament reigns supreme over even the courts of law. The sheer weight of the number of parliamentarians loyal to particular political parties would determine law and practice within the nation and not even the highest court would be able to annul or alter such promulgations.
  • A change to the Pension Funds Act so that their immense funds are used for ‘national development’. This would essentially steal the hard-won pensions of millions of people and reduce all pensioners to the lowest common denominator of quality of life.
  • Scrap the Independent Examinations Board for schools. This would mean that all learners in the nation would be subject to a woefully deficient and abysmally low standard of education. This would have profound effects on the development of the next generations and the wealth and future of the nation.
  • Open all borders to allow free movement of people across Africa. Just consider the migration problems we currently experience in the nation and the problems in countries such as the United Kingdom and the USA.
These changes would lead to a flight of capital and skills, causing a dramatic negative effect on foreign exchange rates, food insecurity, business, inflation, and so on. In the absence of a viable tax base, the government would probably print more and more money resulting in runaway inflation and failure to service national debt. It is no wonder that some have called this toxic combination of ANC, EFF, and MK the Doomsday Coalition.

Alternatively, an ANC, DA, and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) (and balance of the MPC) coalition could lead to a slow but positive turnaround, if radical opposition parties don’t make the country ungovernable. Of course, five years as a junior partner to the ANC could discredit and all but wipe out the DA. However, here is a thought to consider: If the ANC only gets 37% of the vote then the DA, or Multi Party Charter, only needs 38% to have the right to form a government. This would position the ANC as a minority party and provide the DA and its coalition partners with greater power and a more favourable public profile.

So you can see that in this election the forces of radical ‘transformation’ (Marxism) are aligned against the forces of conservative democracy, with the ANC straddling the fence with one foot on the conservative side, but the bulk of its body falling over onto the radical side. Who wins and who loses will make a huge difference to the future of the nation and the well-being of all South Africans.

A Day of Individual Choice

The numerous polls in the last months presented different scenarios and outcomes. However, all that counts, literally, is that on election day each person registered to vote makes their mark according to their convictions. If all registered voters vote based on their conviction, rather than tradition, apathy, or race, then anything is possible.

Let me present two scriptural texts for your consideration:

  • Deuteronomy 30:19-20 “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”.

The call of God through Moses was to the people of Israel to choose between their redeemer God or the gods of the nations around them. That was the specific context of the passage, but the principles presented apply to all God’s people of all ages.

On the 29th May 2024, all citizens of South Africa who registered to vote will have to choose between life and death, blessing or curses. No matter what they profess, the Doomsday Coalition leaders do not honour the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Peter, and Paul. They honour no god but their self-images which they have projected into society. They do not value biblical ethics or morality and their agendas are for self-enrichment and power. Opposed to them are political parties that either openly or tacitly honour God and seek to implement biblical values into society.

There may be obtuse arguments for Africanisation versus Westernisation, but when you strip away the rhetoric and protestations it all comes down to opposition to the God of the bible and his values. Note again the words of Moses, “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him”. Note too the fact that the choice we all must make affects not only ourselves but our children’s livelihood and wellbeing, both physical and spiritual.

  • 1 Timothy 2:1-4 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”.

Paul was not instructing that the Jesus followers he was writing to should only pray for Christian national leaders. At that time there were no Christian national leaders because the governments of the day were firmly in the grasp of pagans. He presented the idea that we Christians should pray for all those in authority. Why? So that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. And if we are to pray and intercede then it surely follows that we should act accordingly.

Our action at this time is to vote for what we believe pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

What  Jesus and the Disciples Said

I wrote about the 2024 election in August 2023 and included a brief analysis of what Jesus and his disciples said concerning the interface between a life of faith and political and economic realities. Here is what I wrote:

It is true that Jesus did not seem to concern himself with the politics of his day, but he did have something to say that points us in the right direction today. Peter and Paul then expanded on this in their letters.

Luke 20: 20-26 (Matthew 22 and Mark 12) records one of the best-known sayings of the Lord Jesus. The Pharisees tried to trap him by asking if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus asked for a Roman coin that bore Caesar’s image and said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”. The Creator made man in his own image, and so Jesus was saying that humans should give themselves to God whose image we bare. However, Caesar’s image was on the coin so they should give that to him. A brilliant response indeed, but we should not focus on his allusion to the image of God to the extent that we miss the implication that Jesus was endorsing the Roman governmental right to what it was due.

Paul wrote that ‘Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities…’ (Romans 13:1). He then explained why and added, ‘Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour’. (Romans 13:7). He also wrote to Titus instructing him to, ‘Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.’ (Titus 3:1).

Peter’s teaching on the subject is probably the most succinct of all: ‘Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king’. (1 Peter 2:13-17)

The Lord Jesus, Paul, and Peter were positively interacting with the subject of politics and by so doing were giving us direction as we too interact with the politics of our nation today.

Two Final Injunctions

My concluding plea in the August 2023 article was that everyone legally able to vote should register to vote and actively support members of the MPC. However, the time has long run out to register. Now, all that remains is for each of us to vote according to conviction and a sense of the leading of the Holy Spirit.

In previous elections, many people, although registered, did not vote. The two main excuses were, “The ruling party are so dominant that my vote won’t matter”, or, “I am making a statement of objection by not voting”. Neither of these reasons has any merit whatsoever. These elections are going to be close … very close. Your vote will matter and the statement you will make by voting is “I care about the future of my nation, my children, and the generations to come.”

Yet, one other thing is vital at this time and that is to PRAY. Let me return to a text I cited earlier in this article, 1 Timothy 2:1-4 ‘I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth’. So the call is to pray and to vote.

There is a reason why God instructs us to pray for those in authority in the context of the crucial election before us and it is this: We cannot fully conceive what God can do in a day. Despite the polls and despite the politicking, rhetoric, and even cheap tricks, it is what happens on the 29th of May 2024 that matters. On that day the Lord can change the nation and express his influence through millions of people. If we pray for this and hope for this, then when it happens, only one name will be raised up in thanks and adoration. That name will not be your name, my name, or any politician’s name; that name will be … JESUS!

The two things we can all do to influence the destiny of our nation is to pray and vote … SO PLEASE PRAY and PLEASE VOTE according to your prayers.

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The Lost Books

The Hidden Books

The Lost Books

There is a saying that comes up from time to time that I find intriguing: ‘The instruments of a man’s sin are the instruments of his punishment’. The idea is that the bad things we do tend to be done to us; a more specific version of, “all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). I have even heard it expressed something like, “God uses the evil a man does to punish him”.

This is an interesting idea because it explains how God, who is love, can also be the God of justice, without compromising his essential nature.


Of course, I  wanted to know if this idea, and the saying that expresses it, is found in the scriptures. If it doesn’t then we cannot take it as more than just a good thought. So, I set about tracking it down and found it in the Wisdom of Solomon (Chapter 11, verse 16). “Say what now? Solomon I know, but there is no book by that name in the bible!” This is because the Wisdom of Solomon is one of the books in a collection of writings called the Apocrypha.

The Apocrypha

Approximately four hundred years before Jesus was born into the world, several Jewish wise men/philosophers/theologians wrote several books that were later grouped into a collection that became known as the Apocrypha, or Hidden Books.

In the 3rd century BC the Jewish sacred writings we know as the Old Testament were translated into Greek, the most widely used language in the parts of the world inhabited by Jewish people. This version of the scriptures, known as the Septuagint contained at least seven of the books of the Apocrypha. In 1546 the Roman Catholic Church included ten books of the Apocrypha and inserted them between the Old and New Testaments, thus accepting them as divinely inspired. The Reformation started in 1517 and the Protestant churches birthed by this movement rejected the books of the Apocrypha and did not include them in their versions of the bible.

This is all quite interesting, but what interests me more is that some of the New Testament authors cited or alluded to texts from the Apocrypha.

The Influence of the Apocrypha on the New Testament

Here are some examples of traces of the Apocrypha in the New Testament:

  • Jude 6 reflects the influence of 1 Enoch and Jude 14 mentions Enoch prophesying in a way that most likely comes from 1 Enoch 1:9.
  • 1 Peter 3:19 may have its source in 1 Enoch 14 and 15.
  • Hebrews 11:34-35 reflects a familiarity with 2 Maccabees 6:18 – 7:42.
  • 2 Timothy 3:8-9 refers to Jannes and Jambres’ opposition to Moses, which is not in the Old Testament but is in The Assumption of Moses.
  • Ephesians 6:13-17 echoes The Wisdom of Solomon 5:18-20

This is not surprising because the version of the Old Testament used by the Apostles was the Septuagint. However, those references do not mean that the writings referenced are inspired; it just means that the writers were familiar with them and thought it appropriate to include snippets from them. I am comfortable with this, but those who believe that God more or less dictated the bible word for word to his human scribes would have a real problem here. If theologians believed that the entire bible was ‘dictated’ then they would have to accept several doctrines not taught in the Protestant bible. For instance, the book of Sirach teaches that good works are an essential qualification for salvation. Baruch teaches we can pray for the dead and Maccabees advocates the intercessory role of Saints. The Wisdom of Solomon teaches that human souls exist before they relocate into humans at birth.

The New Testament gives evidence that the Jews of Jesus’ day believed these teachings. For instance, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:29 ‘Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead?’ The people in that church were going beyond just praying for the dead, they were being baptised as proxies for dead family members and friends. Even the disciples were influenced by the doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul because they asked Jesus concerning a man who was blind from birth, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  (John 9:1-2)

How we should regard the Apocrypha

Considering what I have written above, I think that we shouldn’t discount the Apocrypha, but we should not consider it as divinely inspired. It is useful in that it provides background material and, in some cases, helps us to understand some of the things we find in the bible.

It appears that the Fathers of the early church adopted this approach. Teachers such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria cited some of the apocryphal writings as scripture. Origen held that the quotation in 1 Corinthians 2:9 that ‘things which eye has not seen or ear heard’ was from the Apocalypse of Elijah. Ambrose, Jerome, Philip of Side, the venerable Bede, and Theophylactus all mention a work called the Gospel of the Twelve.

OK, now back to the saying that caused me to delve into these things.

What the Bible Reveals

The question, for me at least, is does the bible contain something like ‘The instruments of a man’s sin are the instruments of his punishment’?

  • Proverbs 22:8 states that ‘He who sows wickedness reaps trouble…’, but this does not mean quite the same thing. It simply declares that, in general terms, wicked acts result in some form of trouble.
  • Job 4:8 makes the equally general observation that, ‘those who plough evil and those who sow trouble reap it’.
  • Paul writes that ‘a man reaps what he sows’ (Galatians 6:7), but he then elaborates in a general, more than a specific, way’.
  • Hosea 8:7, however, gets us to a very similar expression to the one from the Apocrypha when it states that ‘They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind’. Like for like but to a greater and more destructive extent.
What Did Jesus Say

I have a friend who routinely challenges dodgy church practices with the question, “So where do you find that in the bible?” When it comes to doctrine, my habitual question is, “What did Jesus teach or model concerning this?” The Lord Jesus is our plumb line for finding the straight line through teachings. Therefore, as always, I turn now to what Jesus taught.

Now, I normally start with what Jesus said and did and then work out from there, but I have structured this article as a discovery, so, although I referenced him right upfront, I will conclude with what the Lord said. He said, “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you”. (Mark 4:24) So, Jesus set out the principle, but his emphasis was on the degree and proportionality of a person’s acts.

I guess I will have to be satisfied that Hosea set it out, more or less, as the Wisdom of Solomon later articulated it and that the Lord Jesus confirmed it in general terms. The book in the Apocrypha does not add a new truth, but it does help us to understand more fully what Hosea and Jesus taught.

So What?

All left now for us to ponder on is what the saying means to us and how it affects our lives.

The nub of it is that what we put out in life comes back to us in one way or another and to much the same extent. Sow faith, hope, and love and reap back positive and life-giving input. Sow doubt, fear, and hopelessness and the chances are that the harvest will be of the same nature only much worse.

Something that has stuck with me from a very early age is my mother quoting her father who was fond of giving Ecclesiastes 1:1 an amusing twist when he stated “cast your bread upon the waters and it will come back to you as a ham sandwich”. Yes indeed, and I do so enjoy a ham sandwich!


Appendix:  A Short Summary of Apocryphal Books

For those interested in knowing more, here is a brief description of what the various ‘Hidden Books’ are about (with acknowledgement to an Artificial intelligence programme I use quite often):

The books recognised by the Roman Catholic Church are:

  1. Tobit: Tobit is a narrative about a righteous Israelite named Tobit who experiences various trials but is ultimately rewarded for his faithfulness to God. It includes themes of obedience, charity, and divine providence.
  2. Judith: Judith tells the story of a courageous Jewish widow named Judith who saves her people from the Assyrian general Holofernes by using her beauty and wit to deceive him and then assassinate him.
  3. Wisdom of Solomon: This book emphasises the importance of wisdom and righteousness, contrasting them with folly and wickedness. It also discusses the immortality of the soul and the rewards of righteousness.
  4. Sirach (Ecclesiasticus): Sirach is a collection of wise sayings and teachings attributed to Jesus Ben Sirach.  It covers a wide range of topics, including wisdom, virtue, friendship, family life, and social conduct.
  5. Baruch: Attributed to Baruch, the scribe of the prophet Jeremiah. It contains prayers, confessions, and reflections on the exile of the Jewish people and their hope for restoration.
  6. Letter of Jeremiah: This short letter warns against idolatry and emphasises the powerlessness of idols, contrasting them with the one true God.
  7. Additions to Daniel: These additions include the Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews, as well as the story of Susanna and Bel and the Dragon, which are not found in the Hebrew version of Daniel.
  8. Additions to Esther: These additions include prayers and reflections not found in the Hebrew version of Esther, emphasizing God’s providence in the salvation of the Jewish people.
  9. 1 Maccabees: 1 Maccabees is a historical account of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire, focusing on the leadership of Judas Maccabeus and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.
  10. 2 Maccabees: 2 Maccabees provides a parallel account of the events in 1 Maccabees, highlighting the martyrdom of certain Jewish leaders and emphasizing the importance of prayer for the dead.

The following are included in some bible translations but are not accepted as canonical by the Roman Catholic church:

  • 1 Esdras: Also known as the Greek Ezra, 1 Esdras is an ancient text that includes stories and events parallel to those found in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah in the Old Testament. It includes the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, the dispute over the king’s decree regarding the temple construction, and the prayer of Ezra for God’s mercy.
  • 2 Esdras (4 Ezra): 2 Esdras is a Jewish apocalyptic work that deals with themes of divine justice, theodicy, and the end times. It contains visions and dialogues between the prophet Ezra and an angel, exploring questions about the suffering of the righteous, the fate of the wicked, and the nature of God’s judgment.
  • Letter of Jeremiah: The Letter of Jeremiah is a short text included as Chapter 6 of the Book of Baruch in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. It is addressed to the exiled Jews in Babylon and warns against the worship of idols,  emphasising the folly of idolatry and the superiority of the one true God.
  • The Book of 1 Enoch is an ancient Jewish text attributed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. It is a collection of several separate works, most of which are apocalyptic in nature. The oldest part, the “Apocalypse of Weeks,” was written around the Maccabean uprising of 167 BC. The book includes various themes such as messianism, celibacy, and the fate of the soul after death, and it reflects a blend of Iranian, Greek, Chaldean, and Egyptian elements.
  •  The Assumption of Moses, also known as the Testament of Moses, is a 1st-century Jewish apocryphal work that contains prophecies Moses revealed to Joshua before passing on leadership. It is characterised as Moses’ final speech and includes a prophecy of the future relating to Israel. The text is thought to have been originally written in Hebrew or another Semitic language and later translated to Greek. However, only a 6th-century Latin translation survives, and it is incomplete.


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Righteous man

The Righteous Among the Rogues – A Reflection on Psalm 37



This is a word of encouragement coming down to us through the millennia from the pen of an ageing King David. He had lived through good years and bad and experienced trials, victories, the consequences of his moral lapses, and even the rebellion and opposition of his son Absalom.

Psalm 37 is a long composition that David produced in an acrostic format with each verse starting with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Unlike so many of his psalms, he directed this one not to God, but to the reader, as a teaching on the Lord’s faithfulness in difficult times.

I am not going to produce a commentary here, but rather reflect with you on just some of the things that David said to the people of his day. We too are living in difficult times and his words are laden with meaning, comfort, and encouragement for us as well.

The Illusion of Unrighteous Gain

The Psalm starts with Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong.

To understand why David thinks that we might be envious of evil men we need to read verses 7, 16, 35-36 do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes … Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked …  I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a green tree in its native soil. Wicked people often appear to succeed in what they do and grow very wealthy in the process, but that is temporary and illusionary. David adds Like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants, they will soon die away … The power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous … he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found. Yes, wicked people may succeed and get filthy rich, but they soon enough wither, lose their power and eventually die like all do.

David goes even further when he says: For evil men will be cut off (verse 9); A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found (Verse 10). But their words will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken (Verse 15). The power of the wicked will be broken (Verse 17).

So, do not fret because of evil people because God will deal with them and the instruments of their demise will be their own words and deeds.

Our Response to the Success of the Wicked

David immediately gives several godly responses that we should embrace.

Verse 3: Trust in the Lord and do good – dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Trust God to take care of the wicked and rather get on with the better business of doing good. The NLT translates the second half of this verse as a result of our doing good; Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.

Verse 4: Delight yourself in the Lord – and He will give you the desires of your heart.

The word ‘delight’ here is misleading for the modern person because the original Hebrew `anag’ means ‘to be soft or pliable’. So, this is really a continuation of the thought in the previous verse – Trust God and be yielding and pliable in his hands, and he will prosper you and fulfil your life’s desires.

Verses 5 and 6: Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: – He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Once again, this verse builds on the stated thought – Trust, be pliable, and commit what you do to God, and he will shine brightly through your life into the dark world around you and all will know that your way of life is right and godly.

Verse 7: Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.

This is pretty self-explanatory – Don’t be in a hurry in this process but rather wait patiently for God to fulfil his word. However, verse 34 also uses the word ‘wait’ as a translation of a different Hebrew word that has the descriptor ‘with expectation’. So, an enhanced understanding of verse 7 would be ‘…wait patiently and expectantly for him’. Expect God to respond to your requests and wait patiently for him to do so without rushing forward to take matters into your own hands.

Verses 8 and 9: Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil. – For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

Don’t get angry when things do not go well for you or wicked people are seeming to succeed because this will lead to wrongdoing on your behalf. Don’t worry, evil people will meet their end, but if you place your hope in God you will be the true inheritor of what is stable, productive and of worth.

God’s Promises to the Righteous

David then sets out a series of divine promises that apply to all ages: (I have been selective to avoid the repetition of ideas)

Please note that this article is not a commentary and these verses are largely self-explanatory, so I want rather to encourage you to read them devotionally and not just intellectually. Let them move from your mind to your spirit so that the Lord can speak something into your heart and particular life circumstances.

Vs 17:The Lord upholds the righteous”.

Vs 18-10:The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever. In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty”.

Vs 23-24: “The Lord delights in the way of the man whose steps he has made firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand”. The NLT translates this in a way that pictures holding our hand when we stumble to prevent us from falling and to steady us as we walk on with him: ‘The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand’.

Vs 25-26:I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed”. God is faithful and able to provide for us in times of need, even to the extent of caring for our children even though they may have left home.

Vs 27-28:Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.  For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever”.

Vs 32-33:The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, seeking their very lives; but the Lord will not leave them in their power or let them be condemned when brought to trial”.

Vs 39-40:The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him”.

In Conclusion

My concluding thoughts as an encouragement to you are in two wonderful verses (34 & 39):  Wait for the Lord and keep his way … The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.”


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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – a Christian Perspective

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I first came across the term Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs when, at the age of twenty-four, I studied at the Damelin Management School. I encountered it again at the WITS Graduate School of Business eight years later. By then I had incorporated it into my approach to management and leadership, but I had begun to realise its limitations for a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I will set out briefly what Maslow meant by his hierarchy of needs, but I want to spend much of your reading time on its Christian implications.

The Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Harold Maslow (1908 – 1970) was a psychology professor at Brandeis University and Colombia University and a prolific writer and speaker. He did not present his theories of human motivation graphically, let alone as a pyramid, but today his theory is usually set out in the form of a layered pyramid.

Maslows hierarchy of needsSelf-actualization needs cover personal potential, self-fulfilment, and personal growth

  • Esteem needs include self-worth, accomplishment, and respect.
  • Belonging needs are the desire for relationships and group membership.
  • Safety needs are for order, predictability, and control.
  • Physiological needs are biological requirements for minimal human living

The basic idea is that people need to satisfy most of their basic needs most of the time before they are motivated to pursue higher needs. In other words, people need to be reasonably well-fed, hydrated, warm and rested within a secure and safe environment before they bother much with psychological needs, let alone with self-fulfilment.

Sociological Perspective

To put this into a current sociological perspective consider the following:

People who do not have enough to eat and a place to stay will focus their energy on acquiring food and shelter. If they cannot do this legally, and without harming others, they may satisfy these basic needs through some form of crime unless the state or private citizens provide them with help (social grants, charities etc.) Once they have these needs met, people will seek to provide some form of permanence to their situation. They will require liveable housing within an environment where they are protected (housing schemes, shared accommodation etc.). It is easy to see from this that job creation becomes paramount for society and government. Poor people ideally need to provide basic and safety requirements for themselves as only this will provide a viable long-term solution to the problem of poverty.

Once basic needs are met, people will deploy their remaining resources seeking to belong to a group (family, community) and in developing close relationships with others. Gangs and cults provide an attractive yet highly destructive means to these ends. Gangs in particular provide their members with basic and psychological benefits at the cost of legality and moral corruption. They even provide a perverted form of self-esteem and respect.

The socially acceptable and legal path to esteem for most people is through hard work, economic success, and achievement in any number of fields of endeavour. Hence the societal obsession with career, winning, fame and wealth.

There have been several criticisms of Maslow’s theories of motivation, but it remains a reasonable way of understanding how we function both as individuals and as societies. Where my problem lies is with the concept of Self-actualization, the capstone of his pyramid. This is the point where this article will, hopefully, become more interesting to you as a Christian.


Maslow described Self-actualization as ‘the person’s desire for self-fulfilment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially.’ He refined his thinking over several years and qualified the concept of Self-actualization to include seeking fulfilment and change through personal growth and discovery throughout life. He believed that people are always “becoming” and never static.

The pyramid way of presenting his theory suggests that self-actualization is only something that motivates once all lower needs are met, but this is not what Maslow taught. This qualification brings inconsistency into the model; if the top of the hierarchy is present in all other levels of need motivation, then why should this not apply equally to, say, esteem or safety needs? However, from a humanistic point of view, I can see how a person can only really devote focus and energy to self-actualization once he is free of striving to fulfil lower-level needs.

My real problem is that, as with most secular models, the needs hierarchy stands on the assumption that a human can, within itself, realise real self-fulfilment. It makes no room for a divine source of human worth.

Later psychologists added a further level to the needs pyramid by topping self-realisation with what they call Transcendence. The article in ‘Simply Psychological’ explains this expanded concept as follows: ‘A person is motivated by values that transcend beyond the personal self. Beyond self-actualization.they represent the human desire to connect with a higher reality, purpose, or the universe. This level emphasises altruism, spiritual connection, and helping others achieve their potential.

Individuals seek experiences that move beyond personal concerns, aiming to achieve a deep sense of unity, understanding, and belonging within the vast expanse of existence’. Now, this gets us a step further towards truth, but why can’t they just say ‘God’ rather than ‘higher reality’ or ‘the universe’? And what about citing Jesus who consistently taught and modelled an other-oriented life.

True Self-actualization

I do not believe that transcendence is something we attain apart from God at any level of human need. When people come into a saving relationship with God through the rebirth of the Spirit, then they become new creations and their primary identity becomes ‘child of God’. Consider the following passage of scripture:

Galatians 3:26-4:7 “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father”. So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” Note the final verse “so you are no longer a slave, but a son.

So then, true self-actualization comes through knowing who we are as children of God and the realisation that our worth and fulfilment is sourced in him. What is more, we can experience this at whatever ‘level’ we are in the pyramid, whether we are in the process of satisfying basic or psychological needs. We do not have to ascend to the higher levels of the motivation pyramid before experiencing self-fulfilment; it is not the pinnacle of development, but rather a potential reality throughout all of life.

Biblical Examples

The book of Ecclesiastes records King Solomon’s attempts to self-actualize.  He fully exploited the possibilities of life, from the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy to the top. After all this, there was only one thing he had to say: “Have reverence for God, and obey his commands, because this is all that man was created for”.  Ecclesiastes 12:13 (TEV)

Of course, as usual, the Lord Jesus was the perfect example of living in the knowledge of who he was in the Kingdom of God. Words that grip me every time I read them are: “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him” (John 13:3-5).


Whilst some of what I have written might have been interesting to you, the one big takeaway is that no matter what level in the pyramid we are engaged with, the thing that gives it all lasting meaning is the sense of who we are. If we are born again of the Spirit, then our identity is a son or daughter of God, followers of Jesus complete and worthy in him.  With this understanding, we can find meaning and peace no matter our current circumstances or levels of need.

‘As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”  “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” ‘ (2 Corinthians 6:16-18)

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – a Christian Perspective Read More »


The Unchurched


About 30 years ago, a young man came to interview me as part of his Master’s degree thesis on ‘The Unchurched’.

His research indicated that over 1.5 million committed Christians in South Africa were not attending church. I don’t know what the situation is today, but my impression is that in post-Covid19 South Africa, it is far worse than three decades ago. I have encountered many believers who either do not attend church or who do so only because their families drag them along. The reasons given tend to cluster around the following:

    • Sports and family activities take priority
    • There are many online alternatives available
    • Don’t see the need for church rather than private spirituality
    • Offence by church leaders or other church members
    • Disagreements over doctrines
    • Finding church services long, boring, and not relevant to modern life

Personal Experience

There could be many other reasons, but everyone has a personal story to tell. I have a story to tell because for the first time in my 46 years as a Jesus-follower I have experienced being part of the large yet invisible ‘Unchurched’. In the past, I have seen this ‘church problem’ from the perspective of a church leader, but now I have experienced it from the other side. I don’t believe there is much to gain from detailing just how I found myself on the ‘dark’ side, but my experiences may well help others who are part of The Unchurched.

The Value of the Local Church

I have always believed that the local church is very important to the Lord Jesus and, therefore, to every one of his followers. My recent experiences have not shaken this belief. Some of the reasons why the church is important are:

  1. Acts 20:28 Once a year for the 28 years that I led a local church I would read this verse to my fellow Elders: ‘Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. This alone should settle the matter of the worth and importance of the local church.
  2. Hebrews 10:23-25Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching’.
  3. God designed the local church to be more organic than organisational in nature. In some mysterious, but very real way, it is a living manifestation of the Body of Christ in a particular area and culture. Each born-again believer is a cell within this body and can therefore only thrive over time as a functional part of this body.
  4. The church is the temple of the Holy Spirit and the ‘place’ of his presence. When believers come together as a church, they, in a wonderfully mysterious way, constitute this temple.

These are four reasons why the local church is important to God and should be important to all Jesus-followers.

What I Missed

Having spelled out the value and importance of the local church, the place I want to start, in setting out my experiences and observations, is by mentioning what I missed most by being unchurched.

  1. I missed the faces, voices, hugs, and simple presence of other believers. A properly functioning church is one in which the people get to know each other, interact, and over time come to love one another.
  2. Another feature of a properly functioning church is that it provides the opportunity to give and receive, to minister and to receive ministry, and to witness others experiencing this.
  3. I missed the spiritual stimulation of singing out praise and worship together with many others.
  4. I dearly missed the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit moving among his people and animating us all to become more than just solitary parts but co-joined living cells within something greater.
I have used the words ‘properly functioning church’ purposefully because not all churches function as an organic body. Many are self-serving organisations, leader-dominated means to control or self-enrich. Far too many are religious edifices that serve only to perpetuate traditions and superficial expressions of spirituality.

I filtered out these types of churches when I eventually started to look for a church to attend. Instead, I initially did two things – I prayed and I viewed the online services of several churches in the area. I later visited a few. This is what I observed:

  • Most of them had positioned themselves as alternatives to modern secular life. They turned off the main lighting during the worship and even during the preaching, much like a theatre. The leaders sported ‘with it’ clothing, trendy facial hair, and eerily similar styles of speaking. The services minimised worship, sharing, and ministry and maximised notices, offerings, and preaching. The preaching was mainly superficial and self-improvement-oriented.
  • However, I visited a couple of churches where the leaders were genuinely trying to create what they saw as authentic biblical church life. Here other questions rose in me – could I contribute meaningfully to this church? Could I accept the particular rules and doctrines that they thought important enough to insist on? Would they accept me for who and what I am, an elderly past church leader and theologian?

I did not find one that I could join and serve, but I never stopped being open to joining a local church. However, I needed the Lord to guide me because on my own it is so hard to find a place to belong.

What Surprised Me

There were some things that I just did not expect to experience when I left the church that had been my spiritual home for over three decades.

  • I didn’t expect to find myself “cancelled”. I knew of the cancel culture so prevalent in the world, but I did not expect it from Christians. In my case, I do not think it was a strategy, but rather just out-of-sight-out of mind.  In the months after leaving, very few people reached out to me, particularly among the men I had shared leadership with and regarded as genuine friends for so many years. To most, I became generally invisible and irrelevant. Not to all, of course, and most who were ‘house friends’ continued their relationships with me. I also have to note (with a wry smile) that when I was a leader in the church there was an expectation that the missing sheep also had an obligation to reach out to us. I can see how unrealistic this is because someone who is grieving loss just doesn’t know how to re-establish relationships without creating further problems.
  • I also did not expect to experience the severity of the resentment and emotional pain that came with severance from my church family. My wife and I have been married for 55 years and so I have never experienced the negative power of divorce, although I have often observed it. Well, leaving a church body seems similar in many ways to a divorce.
  • Although I had warned people from the pulpit how spiritually lonely it is to be outside of the local church, I did not expect it to take such a toll on personal devotions, prayer, and spiritual passion. It is a truism that a lump of coal cannot remain hot for long when removed from the fire.

What I Needed to Do

I cannot presume to say what other unchurched believers should do; all I can do is mention what I have done in the hope that this may be helpful.

  1. I resolved to continue to grapple with the difficulty of finding an authentic local church where I could belong. I tried to ensure that I was open to the possibility and I constantly asked the Holy Spirit to lead me to one. When I came across a new possibility, then I went there to see if it was ‘the one’. I widened my field of vision to include house churches or Christian fellowship groups that are not necessarily part of an established church.
  2. I continued to try to deal with offence, resentment and hurt. I wanted to respond to these realities in the way Jesus taught and demonstrated, but I found it difficult, complex, and full of lose-lose options. In the past, I might have said “Oh boo hoo, just get over yourself” but I won’t be making that mistake again.
  3. I refrained from bad-mouthing the church leadership to their members or saying and doing anything that could hurt the church. I did not volunteer to others the reasons why I resigned and only gave details if specifically asked.
  4. I continued to value the local church in what I said and wrote and I tried my best to keep my relationship with Jesus and his followers sincere and transparent.

Why I have Written This Article


I have shared my experiences transparently in the hope that what I have written will be helpful to both unchurched folks and, perhaps, church leaders. It was a painful experience living on the outside, but it would only have been a worthless experience if I and others could not learn from it.

Over the last year I have learned, and relearned, some important life lessons. One of these was the difficulty in grasping how others might view the things I said and did. For instance, I felt abandoned and did not realise that others might have felt abandoned by me. Another important issue I had to face was the destructive power of unforgiveness, which I knew had to be dealt with if I could but find a satisfactory way to do so.

I have written this article in the past tense because for the last several weeks I have been back at my ‘home’ church. The Lead Elder graciously reached out to me and we were able to forgive and reconcile. Things will probably not be the same as they were ‘back in the day’, but they never are, are they?

The Unchurched Read More »

About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.