Dion's random ramblings

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ever wonder how the internet works?

Some of you may have been aware that the US Senate House Committee on Internet Regulation has been debating a bill called 'Net Nuetrality'.

In short, the bill aims to allow internet service providers to charge a higher rate for certain content downloads (like Video on demand). The reasoning behind it is that certain larger companies are clogging up the internet by sending huge video files to users, thus preventing normal traffic (such as email and regular web browsing) to take place.

Sounds sensible...

But then, in true Republican style, they put a an ancient old man who has probably never even SEEN a computer, let alone used the internet, in charge of investigating this bill.

Here is the result. It is hilarious!

Check out www.savetheinternet.com if you're passionate about a free internet!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mvume Dandala - World Methodist Council keynote address on Reconciliation

Dr Mvume Dandala, a past Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, now the President of the All Africa Council of Churches, delivered an extremely challenging keynote address.

He pulled no punches, addressing issues such as exploitation of Africa by rich and powerful nations, the pandemic of HIV / AIDS and the Church's lack of concern for true unity and reconciliation.

You can download the address here: Mvume Dandala's Keynote address (22.5MB's).

Saturday, July 22, 2006

What more can be said?

This morning we had a plenery session in which Archbishop Elias Chacour was to be the speaker. However, the Archbishop, who lives in Galilee, has decided not to come to Korea since he feels compelled to remain with his congregation.

A missile exploded less than 100m from his car. Yesterday 28 people in his Church died during bombing. What a sad and senseless war!
My friend Angus sent me the following cartoon - it says so much.
















Please pray for both Israel and Lebanon.

Here is some information about Fr Chacour.

The Rev. Elias Chacour, a Palestinian-born Israeli citizen and priest in the Melkite Catholic Church.... Chacour, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times (1986, 1989 and 1994), has been an international ambassador for Middle East peace through non-violence for more than 30 years. He is president and founder of Mar Elias Educational Institutions, a school for young people from a variety of faith traditions in Ibillin, a small Arab village in the Galilee region of Israel.

Born in Arab Palestine in 1939, Chacour became a deportee and refugee at the age of 8 when his entire village was evicted by Israeli authorities. He was granted Israeli citizenship in 1948. He, along with his Palestinian Christian family, was a member of the Melkite Catholic Church, an Eastern Byzantine Church in communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1965, Chacour was appointed priest of the village church, the Church of St. Joseph, in Ibillan. At the time, there were few educational opportunities for Palestinian youth beyond the eighth grade. Chacour responded to this need by creating Mar Elias Educational Institutions in the early 1980s.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts in theology and Bible studies at Saint Sulpice and the Sorbonne University in Paris. In 1968, Chacour became the first Arab to study Bible and Talmud at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He earned a doctorate in Ecumenical Theology at the University of Geneva in 1971 and has received a number of honorary degrees from several prestigious universities.

Chacour has received many international peace awards for his work, including the prestigious World Methodist Peace Award in 1994; the Niwano Peace Award from Japan in 2001; the Italian Dante Alighieri Human Rights Award in 2002; and the First Mediterranean Peace Award from the Fondazione Laboratorio Mediterraneo in Naples in 2003.

He is the author of two books, "Blood Brothers" and "We Belong to the Land." "Blood Brothers" has been translated into more than 20 different languages.


Taken from http://www.wfu.edu/wfunews/2005/010705f.html

Friday, July 21, 2006

Trevor Hudson - World Methodist Council, Seoul Bible Study 'Listening for the groans'


Here is a superb Bible study presented by the Revd Trevor Hudson of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.

It is inspiring, challenging, and a wonderful word for the Churches. The chosen text is Romans 8:22-27.

Trevor Hudson's Bible study (15MB's).

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Can you guess what the great news is?

Hey friends, here is a picture to take a look at. Can you guess what the great news is?

Praise God! Megie and I are going to be having another baby!!! Well, in fact only Megie will be having the baby - I'll be the one beaming from ear to ear holding her hand!

This scan was taken today. The baby is healthy and growing. Megie, on the other hand, is a bit green in the gills in the mornings and evenings. Please pray for her.

We found out about a month ago that she is pregnant. Megie is now just short of 12 weeks along! Please be praying for us all (3 and a quarter).

The opening of the World Methodist Council... Being inspired; meeting old friends!

Today was the opening of the 19th World Methodist Council in Seoul, South Korea.

What an amazing experience! After a very short night's sleep (about 3 hours) I awoke at 6am (Korean time) to get our group together and on the Underground railway. We arrived yesterday only to find that something had gone wrong with our transport bookings. It would cost us approximately US$140 (about R1000) to make use of the official bus service to the Kumnan Methodist Church.

We found that for only US$1 (about 1000Won, or R7) we could get to Mandu station and catch a shuttle bus to the station.

The Council is being held in the World's largest Methodist Church. Kumnan Methodist Church has over 100 000 members (yup, that's how many belong to this single Church). It seats 10 000 people at a time. It is incredible. Here's picture of the inside of the 3 storey auditorium (it is inside a 16 story building - bigger than any Church I have ever seen)! Chris, we have a bit of growing to do yet!

The World Methodist Council this year is attended by over 135 countries and more than 80 different Methodist Denominations from across the world. Our own Bishop Ivan Abrahams participated in the opening communion service and was appointed as a co-chair of the executive committee of the WMC. As an aside, it is wonderful to see how prominently that Methodist Church of Southern Africa features on this program. Dr Mvume Dandala and the Revd. Trevor Hudson are both keynote speakers - we are the only country to have more than one person on the program in the keynote slots. I am doing a presentation in the Theological Education stream together with Bishop Paul Verryn, Dr Angela Shier-Jones and Dr JC Park.

The theme of the Conference is "God reconciling the world unto himself in Christ'. The real business of the sessions will start tomorrow. I hope to be able to report more as it unfolds.

In the meantime here is a picture of me with Dr Mvume Dandala (President of the All Africa Council of Churches), and the Revd Trevor Hudson.

By the way for those in South Africa, I am sharing a room with Bishop Paul Verryn. As you can imagine I am not sleeping much. Paul gets phone calls at all hours of the morning, goes to bed very late and wakes up very early... So, I may need to get home just to sleep!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A timely word!

It is the 18th of July 2006. This is a significant day personally since today I leave to attend the World Methodist Council in Korea where I will be making a presentation.

However, more significantly is that today is the day on which Lebanon declared that the Israeli acts of terror against its citizens constitutes an act of war. This is a serious and sad situation indeed. Pray that sanity prevails, and that this war does not escalate.

Strangely enough, we planned to topic of our presentation to the World Methodist Council almost two years ago (November 2004) at the WMC Executive meeting in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

The chosen topic was 'War'....

I will be introducing a method of theological reflection using a Video that my cousin and friend Paul, and a Pastor friend Bruce, put together. The Video is superb! I wish I could upload the full quality version... However, it is 770MB's!

So, here is a taste of the Video (extremely compressed in h.264 MOV format - just 3.2MB)... It is powerful. Pray that our message will be heard.

Check back for more updates on the WMC. I hope to have internet access so that I can post thoughts, photos, MP3's etc. here.


Click here to download the movie file 'war.mov' 3.2MB.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

HEARTLINES: 8 WEEKS - 8 VALUES - ONE NATIONAL CONVERSATION

This is an incredible opportunity to make a difference! We have never had an opportunity such as this to enter into dialogue and discussion about core human (and so also Christian) values! For 8 weeks, starting on Sunday 16 July, you will have a chance to engage members of your congregation in this conversation.

A series of 8 movies will be shown on SABC 2 at 8pm each week. A superb discussion guide has been provided for small group meetings, and there is even a children's story book to use with young people.

UPDATE 17 July 2006!

I have just added a link to superb small group material that can be used in your cell group, bible study, class meeting etc., it was designed and put together by the Discipleship cluster at Bryanston Methodist Church.

Click here for the material in MS Word format: Heartlines - July 2006.doc

The book itself is theologically sound. It is very well put together, and free to anyone who wants one.

If you would like a copy of the whole book you can download a compressed (ZIP) file that I have put on my website from here. The file is about 2.3MB and is called "Heartlines Values Book.zip". You will need a PDF reader to open it. If you don't have one you can download one from www.adobe.com.

Simply unzip the file and you can print and copy the book for yourself and your members. Friends, this is something truly worthwhile. I would encourage you to get your members to watch the Television broadcasts, you may even wish to preach on each of the 8 values in the week in which it will be broadcast and discussed.

Here's a copy of the official press release:


TV Broadcast starts Sunday 16 July at 20h00 on SABC2

The long anticipated National Conversation will kick off at the same time -
a conversation that we pray will be echoed in every home, every church, every school, every South African community.

We hope that you will focus the life of your church or community on these values that - if lived out - can transform our nation.
You can use The Values Book (download at http://www.heartlines.org.za/fbo_mobil.html) for teaching and discipleship.

We ask you to
Write letters each week to the media to express your opinion
Phone in to radio or TV talk shows that will profile the values


BROADCAST TIMES
For the first time in the history of the SABC these films are to be broadcast on all 3 channels in the same week

SABC 2 Sunday 20h00
SABC 1 Thursday 22h00
SABC 3 Saturday 14h00






.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Spirituality podcast 8 (Bondi) - 9 July 2006 - scast8Bondi.mp3 (13MB)

Can you believe it? It has been almost 8 months since I did an actual podcast! The last one one was on the 4th of November (if my memory serves me well).

Well, this is a VERY SPECIAL podcast. It was recorded on Bondi Beach in Sydney Australia.

Here's a picture of my portable podcasting rig.

I use a Sony ECM-MS907 Condenser Mic (one of the best quality portable microphones on the market. That is most often connected to my Sanyo Voice recorder (which records directly to MP3 format). Sometimes I record to a Sanyo MiniDisc player when I want the highest quality recording. Lastly I have my iMate Jam PDA / Cell phone (which has a few version of the Bible on it, and gets used for keeping notes etc.)

The podcast has some reflections on the Hillsong Conference, some information about visiting lecturers at John Wesley College (who will be coming from Cambridge University in the UK, and Duke University in the US).

I made a mistake in the post when I said that I met Bill Hybels at his Church in California, in fact what I meant to say was Chicago!

The podcast also makes reference to the following great blogs:

Pete Grassow's blog http://www.rockinthegrass.blogspot.com

Peter Woods' blog http://www.peterwoods.blogspot.com

Bryanston Methodist Church: http://www.bmc.org.za

OK, so click here to listen to this podcast (it is about 30 minutes long and weighs in at about 13MB)

Scast8Bondi.MP3

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Back to the field!

Today is my second last day in glorious Sydney. Tonight I will be heading out to Bondi beach for sundownder with my friends Dave and Jules from Bryanston Methodist Church(yes, God forbid, even this Methodist will have a Victoria Bitter!)

Amazingly, I met with some friends from Somerset West on the station at Sydney's Olympic Park at about Midnight last night! Since being here I have also met people from our Chuch in Bryanston at Sydney harbour, and people from Bloemfontein, JHB, Cape Town (this list goes on and on)! But, to meet people that you know personally, that's amazing! How small the world truly is! It is true, there are only 7 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon.... If you don't know what that means, google it! It is an interesting read!

My vision has been expanded, my heart healed, my faith renewed, my calling confirmed, my love for Christ deepened, and my passion for ministry rekindled.

It is back to the field I go (if only for a week, before I head off to Korea to make a presentation at the World Methodist Council)! A worker's worth is measured in his labour and his love! I hope that I will be found worthy of all of the blessing that I have ALREADY received.

Here are three little quotes that came from my reading and reflection over the last week. Yup, I am one of those few who still has a daily time of prayer and reflection!

"It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, 'What are we busy about'?" -- Henry David Thoreau


I am making peace with the fact that I am a naturally busy person! I find myself depressed when I am not active. However, being busy is not enough. I need to be busy with the RIGHT things!

"The few who do are the envy of the many who only watch." -- Jim Rohn


NO COMMENT! Just take it in....

"All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous, unpremeditated act without benefit of experience." -- Henry Miller


My life can be characterized by risky leaps of faith! If I think back I have always risked it all, and thank God, I have seldom lost it all! More often than not I have had great blessing and benefit from throwing caution to the wind!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Justice and Mercy!

This is just a quick post....

Coming to the Hillsong conference has been a wonderful experience in so many ways! It has renewed my passion and faith, and it has challenged my perceptions of evangelical Christians. Of course the worship has been completely mind blowing. Delirious?, from London, did the worship two nights ago. It was one of the most intimate and moving worship experiences of my life.

Whilst I have not shared the same theological space with some of the speakers, I have been surprised at just how 'mainline' people like Bill Hybels and Rick Warren were in their theology. It is this blessed surprise that prompts this post.

One of the most encouraging aspects of the conference has been the strong emphasis on Justice and Mercy ministries! Not a single session takes place without some mention of the need to be involved in social transformation, bringing healing to broken communities, or getting involved in social action to overthrow oppressive economic social and political systems! South Africa, Rwanda, Brazil, India and a host of other countries have had 'spotlight' time from the most prominent of the ministries!

In particular there is a strong emphasis seeking to bring healing and restorative justice to oppressed women and children (whether be as a result of diseases, such as HIV / AIDS, or simply oppressive cultural,economic, and political systems). And, as I mentioned in an earlier post, these people THINK BIG when it comes to ministry!

Today over a thousand Children from Africa, South America and Asia were adopted by individual Christians and Christian communities.

Two young women shared their testimony of how the care of people who had adopted them through this scheme had changed their lives. I wept. I couldn't stop weeping. I still get tears in my eyes when I think about the story of hope and transformation that they shared.

Whilst there is a great deal that is not correct with the 'Mega Church' movement, there are some things they are getting VERY right. I think we can learn a few lessons from this. I sure have.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A time to put it to the test....

Have you ever prayed and asked God to give you patience to deal with a person or a situation?
 
I don't know about you, but I have come to discover that I seldom want patience when I pray for it... What do I mean by that? Well, I have come to discover that most often I want something akin to 'spiritual asprin'! Have you ever read the description on a box of asprin? It promises to offer "fast, temporary relief from pain and suffering". Sound familiar?
 
When I pray for patience, or grace, to deal with difficult people or situations I am most often asking God for two things. Firstly, I am looking for "fast, temporary, relief from frustratiion and pain". It's not what I need! But, sadly it's what I most often ask for. Secondly, rather than asking God to change me, to help me to grow, I most often want God to do something to someone else. 'Lord please convict.... of his sin", "Lord, please help .... to see the error of his ways", " Lord, please show ... how wrong she is and how right I am". Does this sound familiar?
 
Over the last few months I have been praying that God would give me patience to deal with many things. In particular I have been praying that I will have patience and courage to do the right things in my ministry, and particularly that I will have patience to deal with the leaders of our denomination in a Christlike, loving and patient manner.
 
Thankfully, God is wise enough to hear my prayer and give me what I need in order for me to grow, not what I ask for in order for others to change. Today I received a patience testng email from a from a Church leader who often frustrates me. When I first read it it brought about those old feelings of anger, resentment and discouragement. But, then I realised that this email was God's gracious answer to my prayer for patience! I need to grow, I need to learn to live with difficult people and challenging situations.
 
If I cannot learn to manage my emotions, feelings, and reactions, then I will never receive an answer to my prayer for patience and grace. It is so easy to be pulled into 'smallness', to forget what truly matters! So, please pray for me. Please pray for me! Please pray that I will have the courage and wisdom to truly receive the patience growing situations that I have been praying for (without knowing it).
 
The sad thing that I realise is that very few people can be trusted with their success. I want to grow in grace, patience, and love. I want to be worthy of the privelage that God has blessed me with!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A quick leadership thought....

A good leader doesn't focus on the "how many", but on the "who". People matter more than programs!
 
Great leaders first learn to lead a few people before they lead the 'many'.
 
Read Exodus 18:13 forward.
 

Thinking BIG or small?

On the day before I left for Australia I was at a meeting in Durban. During one of the lunch sessions Bishop Taylor, Pete Grassow, Peter Woods, Yvette Moses, Jonathan Anderson, and I, went for a walk in the city. As we rounded the corner we saw a HUGE building which was being renovated! It reminded me a lot of a massive historical landmark somewhere in Rome. The building stood about 6 stories tall with the largest columns I have ever seen!

The building was being renovated for use by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God - I believe they are a charismatic movement that started in Brazil. We peeped into the sanctuary. It looked like it could probably seat about 5000 or so people. It is huge! As our group of Methodist Ministers walked out of that building we all commented on how BIG that vision is! To buy a huge building in the centre of the city and fill it with people who long to discover what it means to be alive; what it means to spend your life doing something worthwhile; what it means to be completely loved by God and what it means to love God and God's world in return. Now that is a big vision. That is worth living for!

We came to the conclusion that our Church is in trouble! It has been decades since we have had a single Methodist church with a big enough vision to do something even close to this! We debate the payment of our ministers, whether Deacons should be allowed to wear clerical shirts (for goodness sakes!), how to keep people out of the Church and its ministry (like gay people, refugees, black people, young people - in fact any person who is not quite like us, whether in appearance or in perspective). We are in trouble!

As I write this I am sitting in the Sydney Olympic stadium with over 40 000 Christians from all over the world, from thousands of different churches (Catholic to Pentecostal, and everything in between). This conference was arranged by a local church to encourage, inspire, train, and develop big thinking leaders.

I am inspired! I have one of the most privileged places in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. I train her ministers. The question is what will I do with that great privilege?

Do you remember the question that God asked of Moses in Exodus 4:2? "What's in your hand?" Moses answers "It's my staff". That simple question and answer challenged me. God always asks what is in our hands. Moses answer gives us a clue to the answer God longs for. Moses' staff represents his wealth (it was a crook to manage his sheep, that which he owns), it represents his identity (he is a shepherd), it represents his influence (as one who guides, protects, cares for and takes that which is under his care to good places - he shepherds his sheep).

I have been challenged to ask the question, "what's in my hands?" What I am I doing with what I have? Am I dreaming big, or thinking small? What can I do for God and God's world with my income, my identity, and my influence?

Check out 1 Peter 4:10, and see what you're doing with what God has placed in your hands! Let's not waste what God has given us, let's use it well!

PS. Believe it or not, internet access is not easy to come by. So, this post comes from my palmtop (so also excuse typos and spellos!)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Guess where I am!?

So, you've seen the image can you guess where I am at the moment? Yup, for the astute (and cultured) readers of this blog; that is the Sydney Opera house in the background. And, NO, this was not done in Photoshop!

I arrived in Sydney yesterday with my friends Dave and Julia from Bryanston Methodist Church (which is the Church where I preach on Sunday?s). The fact that I am here is truly an act of God?s grace, and the generosity of God?s people. Julia, who is one of our worship leaders at Bryanston, came to the Hillsong Conference last year. She was so encouraged, inspired and uplifted by the conference when she returned. As a result she encourage a few friends to come along this year. Dave was one of them. Then when our Church began the 40 days of community teaching series Dave and Julia approached me to say that they would like to bless me by arranging for me to go to the Conference this year. At first I said that I cannot go (even though I desperately wanted to), the offer just seemed too generous! I asked them to speak with the senior minister of the Church and to pray about it. About two weeks later they came along and said ?we?re booking for you to go!?

I was overwhelmed! These two friends had raised the money for my airfare, accommodation in Sydney, and the Conference attendance cost. I still cannot believe that people would be so generous and appreciative! Isn?t the body of Christ amazing!?

I will be attending the minister / pastors stream of the Conference! I am certain that there will be many inspiring and informative clergy based sessions. I am SO excited. Tomorrow we will make our way to Olympic Park in Sydney for the first of the official sessions.

Unfortunately internet access is not as readily available as I had hoped. However, there is an internet caf nearby. So, as I have a chance to I will come along and put some thoughts, new insights, and ideas here. So look in from time to time.

Thanks SO much to Dave and Julia, and all of the generous and caring people at Bryanston Methodist Church, who have made this trip possible for me. It is sure to bring new energy, insight, and blessing into my devotion to Christ and service of the world!