Dion's random ramblings

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

There are few places as beautiful as this across the world!

I am grateful for the incredible places I've been across the world! There certainly are some amazing views, some wondeful people and some exotic locations out there.

However, this photo shows the Vergelegen (Dutch for 'distant location') wine farm in Somerset West. I had to drive 7 whole minutes to get there! The farm itself was established in 1700 by the governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stell (Pete, who is a real historian can correct the facts if I'm wrong).

When I see views like these I am reminded that I live in one of the most beautiful and exotic places in the world! Sure, Somerste West does have a bit more to see than many other places in South Africa, but I'm sure the South African readers of this site could fill pages and pages with the names and experiences of locations they've visited in Southern Africa.

I loved Israel the last time I was there, and I look forward to visiting manyvery significant places in the week to come, but I can't wait to get home to my family and these wonderful views!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

How's this for a view on the way to school?

This photo was taken from Spanish Farm road in Somerset West (Cape Town), this is the view that my daughter gets on the way to school. Spanish farm road is a great road to train on for the Argus Cycle tour! It is about 1km from our current home, and about the same distance form our old home. I can't tell you how incredible it is to live in paradise! We're so pleased to be back.

Mertyl is back in action! The most beautiful Vespa in the world is back on the road!

Today I rode my Vespa for the first time since the accident! I can't kick start it, but as you can see I have plenty of slopes on which to push start it in second gear. Wow! It sure feels great to have just this little ride on the paving outside our house! When I get back from Israel in two weeks I hope to be strong enough on my leg to ride the Vespa and the BMW! By the way, the leg you can see here was the one which was broken in the accident, and the panel just in front of
it was the one that was smashed. Doesn't the Vespa look fantastic!?

Freedom day. 14 years on - aluta continua

I remember where Megan and I were 14 years ago today. It was 27 April 1994, Megan and I were serving on the Golden West Circuit, one of the appointments we had was in the Khokosi Township just outside of Fochville in the Northwest province. Our Bishop was Peter Storey, he and Mvume Dandala (who was then the minister of the Central Methodist Mission in JHB) had arranged that all Methodist Clergy in the district were trained as peace officers since there was a rising tide of political violence, and government instigated interference to de-rail our first ever democratic elections in South Africa.

Megan and I had also been trained as voting officials, we had run workshops in the two townships that were geographically in our circuit, Khokosi and Khutsong, and I was on the executive of the peace initiative in the area. Khokosi was a Pan Africanist Congress stronghold - just in that week in the run up to the elections I had been approached by Rev Itumeleng Thlakanye to help secure the release of some young men in the community who had been arrested. It was a tense time.

There had been various instances of violence (bombings at the airport, the deaths of a number of right wing extremists in a botched raid, massive conflict between the ANC and IFP in KwaZulu Natal)... To be honest, we all expected some trouble on the day of the elections...

But, on the 27th of April 1994 Megan and I cast our votes in Khokosi (early in the morning), and then spent the rest of the day driving my little white Golf between Khokosi, Fochville, Carletonville and Khutsong monitoring the elections. We both wore the blue and white 'bibs' of the peace initiative, I wore a clerical shirt (at the request of our Bishop). The lines were long, but the mood was high! It is truly a memorable event - certainly one of the highlights of my life!

It was a peaceful day, a miracle of God's grace! I had formerly been a member of the UDF (United Democratic Front) at WITS University, and my interests were certainly in the area of the African National Congress. Well, you can work out for yourself which party got my vote in that first election... In fact, if I recall, 63% of the South African population voted for the ANC. It was wonderful when Mr Mandela took up the presidency.

We had such great hope! It truly was the dawning of a 'New South Africa'!

Sadly, some of that hope has started to fade. Yes, we have seen some remarkable strides being made on issues of national and social concern, but in many areas we have retreated. Corruption is high, morals are low, many seem to be in government not for the sake of bettering the lives of ordinary people, but rather to grab power and acquire personal wealth.

I had a choice to leave South Africa at the end of last year - a job at a fantastic University in America - but we decide to stay! It is only 14 years on... We have over 350 years of oppression, and in 14 years we have done some significant work to 'untie' many of those knots.

I want to encourage those who are contemplating leaving South Africa to pray about the impact you could have by staying here. I want to encourage all Christians to pray for our nation, and to pray for those whom we elect to govern us. I want to encourage all of us to be unashamedly ethical, and willing to go the extra mile to do those things that we long for our government to do. Churches, let's do our bit to build homes, to establish credible educational institutions, let's heal the sick (both by prayer, but also by establishing clinics and hospitals), let's equip our members to make sound choices in their workplaces and homes, let's help people to gain freedom from the slavery of debt, and empower them to make decisions about their lives (and the lives of those whom they love).

Each day I pray those words from the Lord's prayer Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven - I realise that I am responsible to be one of God's answers to that prayer.

The struggle is not yet over! Let's celebrate the victories of freedom that we have won, but let's take seriously that we have a responsibility to disciple a nation! Aluta continua!

Happy Freedom Day!

Today I am spending some time with my wife and children - I am getting ready for a trip to Israel later this week.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

The not so mighty US dollar - a few 'Ben Franklins', what do you use?

Yesterday I changed some South African Rand (our local currency) for US$. I leave for a trip to Israel this week. The SA Rand is not a strong currency (we pay about R8 for US$1), but there is little doubt that the US$ is weakening. Regardless, it hurts to pay R8 for $1! When I last visited Israel it cost $1 to use a public toilet, that's R8 to 'spend a penny'! Yikes!

Let's not talk about Pounds, when I was in the UK last year it was R16 to £1!

One day I'll post pictures of my 'money collection'. So far I have currency from:

- Israel
- Turkey
- Morocco
- Algeria
- Tunisia
- Egypt
- Kenya
- Zambia
- Mozambique
- South Africa (of course)
- Zimbabwe (I have a $1 note! How rare is that!?)
- Italy
- Spain (before the Euro)
- Australia
- Russia
- South Korea
- Malaysia
- Singapore
- United Arab Emirates
- Argentina
- Greece

I'd be interested to know what currency you use (if you're outside of SA)?

NIRSA final declaration.

The NIRSA (National Initiative for the Reformation of South Africa) met in Boksburg last week (22-23 April 2008). It was quite a remarkable gathering. There were participants from many spheres of South African life (politicians, business people, educators, and clergy from a wide range of denominations and independent ministries).

The purpose of the event was to pray together, to listen for God's guidance, and to seek workable strategies to address the most pressing issues that we are facing as a nation.

Here is the Final Draft (NIRSA.doc) of the declaration (in MS Word format). I would be interested to hear your comments and thoughts. I doubt that we will all agree on all of the points, but I am pleased that Christians are working together to hold our government accountable.

While I was there Bp Brian Jennings and I also put together a statement on Zimbabwe on behalf of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (Bishop Jennings is currently the Presiding Bishop while Bishop Abrahams is on long leave). I would be interested to see if the statement makes it into the press - it has to go through a bureaucratic process before it can be released....

Well, here's the introduction from the NIRSA statement, there are a number of resolutions that follow the preamble.

We, the 450 participants in the National Initiative for the Reformation of South Africa, meeting on April 22-23, 2008 at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni, representing different areas of leadership in all domains of South African national life, hereby declare afresh our commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord, Saviour and Coming King. We reaffirm our confidence in the Bible as the inspired Word of God and as our supreme authority in all matters of life and faith. (cf. 2 Timothy 3: 16 -17).

We have come together with great urgency at a mere few weeks' notice, and sometimes a few days, out of deep concern for the grave state of South African society to seek God?s way forward for us as both church and nation. We acknowledged and felt constrained as we met in the spirit of Jehoshaphat to pray: "We are powerless?we don?t know what to do?but our eyes are upon Thee." (2 Chronicles 20:12). We sought to submit ourselves to Almighty God and to the rule of God?s ways and Kingdom.

We have celebrated the power and sovereignty of our God in both creation and history. We have sought to see His face afresh and to turn our eyes upon Jesus. We have come afresh to the foot of the Cross and this has humbled us and brought us to a new place of repentance for our sins, whether personal, church or national. It has also led us to see in new ways that our sins, failures and disunities as Christians have diminished our authority to speak prophetically with one voice to either the nation or the government. We have sought to repent of this. We seek in the light of God?s mercy and forgiveness to move forward positively both as a NIRSA fellowship, a network of committed believers, and as an informal Christian coalition committed to reformation of South Africa. We thank God for a rebirth of hope, faith and confidence and renewed vision of what our nation can be under God.

Acknowledging the foundations laid by past and present Christian initiatives, building on those foundations and committed to strengthening existing initiatives without compromise for God?s standards and Word, we issue a prophetic and urgent call to Church, Government and society at large,
? to apply themselves with all diligence to the reformation and renewal of South African society
? to commit themselves to finding effective solutions to community and national problems
? to apply themselves with intentionality to more effective nation building.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

From hostility to hospitality.... From callousness to care.

I used this very meaningful prayer in my devotions today.

'Ever-loving God, who having loved us loves us still, help us to hear again your word, "by this shall they know you are my disciples' that you love one another." Turn our hostility into hospitality and our callousness into to care. Through Christ we pray. Amen'

(From the Upper Room devotional guide)

Perhaps it will be of some encouragement to you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Back to NIRSA today, incredible response to the 'Mighty Men of God' conference.

It is just before 8am here in Johannesburg and I am on my way back to the NIRSA (National Innitiative for the Reformation of South Africa) conference near the OR Tambo airport. This is the second day of the conference. Yesterday was an interesting, and encouraging, day. The tone of the day was listending, praying, and strategising for change in South Africa (and Southern Africa). The speakers and presenters came from a variety of theological backgrounds and denominations, ranging from the Catholic Arch Bishop, to evangelical leaders, there were members of government (such as Chief Mangasotho Buthelezi), and leaders of industry.

The points that came through most clearly by the end of the day were:

1. The Church has a great responsibility to 'disciple the nation' for responsible living in accordance with Kingdom values. This is NOT to be confused with nationalism. Rather, it means that we should be helping our members to understand that their faith is NOT just about that 1 hour of worship on a Sunday. Rather, their faith influence their economic, social, political and moral choices. This point was particularly strongly made when we considered that such a large percentage of our population profess the Christian faith, yet crime is high, there is rampant hopelessness, we have adbidcated our responsibilities to government etc.

2. There is a need to move from a shallow 'personal salvation' paradigm to an understanding that Christians must unite forces, across denominational and theological lines, to bring about healing and transformation in society. The issue here, is that the function of the Church in society is NOT Church growth (for the sake of building empires for denomonations and individuals), rather the emphasis is upon working together to bring about God's will and desire in our country. For example, what is the Church doing about hungry children, what is the Church in your area doing about HIV / AIDS, what is the Church doing about issues of moral decay? In short, we were challenged to understand that the Church has done a fairly good job of presenting the message of the Gospel, now it was time to establish the Kingdom of the Gospel.

3. Two innitiatives were validated as central to this process: a. The need to be praying together much more ardently for the needs of our nation(both listening for God's guidance, but also presenting our needs, concerns and desires to God), b. to support the 'unashamedly ethical' campaing (see www.transformationafrica.com where we personally take responsibility for our own Christian ethical conduct (to deal with negative issues such as sin, but also to encourage positive responses to problems, such as generosity, inclusivity, etc.).

Well, I hope to post a few more thoughts and pictures throughout the day. Please continue to pray for all who are participating in this seminal event in our nation's history.

PS. for the Methodists among us, there is a wonderful representation of Methodists (including our own Khoza Mgogo and Vido Nyobole) here! I am greatly encouraged by the diversity of persons (Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Catholics, independents, Evangelicals, Charismatics.... etc., etc.)

PPS. With regards to the 'Mighty men of God' conference, the response has been overwhelming both here on this blog, and among the participants of the NIRSA conference. It would seem that this event has touched so many lives! I have never had the ammount of traffic to my blog as I do now (I am getting close to 1200 hits a day on the Mighty Men of God posts and photographs). While many persons from different perspectives at the conference were present, there seems to be consensus on the matter that such a large, simple, and significant event could have very positive impacts upon our society. Let's pray that it is so!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

NIRSA - an honest reflection on the state of the Church in South Africa.

This picture shows 4 panelists reflecting on the state of the Church (a minister (Rev Trevor Pearce from the Anglican Church, speaking), a lawyer (Mrs Teresa Conradie, seated on the right), a parachurch ministry leader, and a marketplace minister (Mr Graham Power of the Global Day of Prayer and the Power Group of Companies, seated right).

The statistics of the South African National census (between 1911 and 2001) show that there has been steady increase in the number of persons who profess the Christian faith (in 2001, 79% of South Africans). However, what this reflects, in reality, is that 79% of all crimes, all acts of corruption, all aspects of abuse of women and children.... (and the list could go on and one) are perpetrated (79% of them at least) by Christians!

Of course the reality is that 79% of South Africans are not Christians, rather the Church is a much weaker and less influential aspect of society. This is a wakeup call for us! We have a responsibility to bring persons into a real life encounter with Christ our Lord, and then we need to equip such persons will the values of the Gospel of Christ (grace, love, morals, inclusivity etc.) and the tools that each peraon will need in order to bring these values to bear on society at large in order to establish what we pray for each Sunday, namely the establishment of God's Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven...

Of course, I ask myself, if there are so many churches, and so many christians, why don't we mobilise ourselves to address our government!? Are we, as Christians, OK with the silence of our government on what is taking place in Zimbabwe? Are we happy that corrupt leaders rule our nation and become the role models our children follow? Have we possibly given over our responsibility for what takes place in society to a government that doesn't care what the majority of our population thinks or wants for South Africa?

I am challenged! One of the speakers noted that we should 'aspire to inspire before we expire'.

The Africa Enterprise 'Fox Fire' team at the NIRSA conference in JHB

It is wonderful to see such a large grouping of concerned Christians gathering to pray, listen, engage, and seek to hear God's voice for the South African nation and Southern African region. Please pray that we will hear God's voice, find God's guidance, and in doing so be a blessing from God to our nation.

NIRSA 2008 - We need a Paul (premodern / postmodernist)

I have been amazed by the strong reaction and response that I have received from some quarters regarding the 'Mighty Men of God' conference that I attended this week. The responses that have come my way (some in the comments of the posts that I have made, and some via email) have ranged from enthusiastic support to complete rejection. I suppose that I should not be surprised by this. Christians do tend to negotiate their faith from their respective corners of conviction. This 'divide' does worry me however, since we do need to find one another in order to be effective agents of God's mission in the world.

By the statement, 'corners of conviction', I mean that I have come to understand that I, and most other Christians, operate from the perspective of our beliefs. This is a perfectly understandable response since it is so strongly related to how we make meaning of our world. My meaning relates to my perspective. If that meaning is pressed upon I am likely to press back in order to hold the point of view that most effectively helps me to understand the world and deal with it.

This morning as I write this I am on a flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg (my appologies to Anonymous who chastised me for flying too frequently ;-). I am on my way to the NIRSA (National Initiative to Reform South Africa) conference. I am fairly certain that I will encounter the same 'perspective driven' faith among the participants this week. Each of us approaches the conference with hopes, desires, dreams, and concerns for ourselves and our nation. When you mix our faith perspectives into that pot you are presented with some 'answers' to our situation (some would suggest prayer, others would suggest social action, some will lay a stronger emphasis on economic development, others on morality and ethics). Of course we need each others perspectives in order to bring a balanced overarching solution to the complexity of our situation.

What I pray is that the leaders of this initiative will have the wisdom to understand, validate, and create space for the varying perspectives to engage respectfully and cooperatively with one another towards achieving the greater goal of faith driven transformation.

As we approach one another from our various 'corners of conviction' there are two basic options open to us. First, there is the image of two boxers coming out of their corners, each approaching the other with the intention of overpowering and defeating the other. I am convinced that such an approach is counterproductive to the Gospel, doing more harm to the establishment of God's Kingdom than achieving its good. The second image is that of young blusing teenagers, carefully approaching one another across the floor of the gymnasium at a high school dance. Their approach is brave, scary, and vulnerable. As they approach they understand the possibility of their courage, they look past their lack of understanding and their difference in the hope of engaging in a wonderful dance.

I am in the process of editing a superb academic article for Prof Abrie du Toit form the Unviversity of Pretoria. In it he is considering the religious, sociological, and psychological complexity of the apostle Paul's religious identity. Paul had the capacity to embrace diverse, and even conflicting, social and religious influences so that they became part of the rich tapestry of his cultural and religious identity. Whilst this is not Prof du Toit's understanding, I have been struck by the fact that Paul was a wonderful pre-modern example of a post-modern person. He was able to straddle Tarsus and Jerusalem, Hellenism and Judaism, liberal universalism and conservative legalism. In short, Paul was a pragmatist - he looked for a faith perspective that worked and then carefully crafted a theology around that. Take a look at what Paul writes in 1 Cor 9.19-23. The point is that Paul went out of his way to identify with his audiences in order to engage them in a manner that would render them ready and willing to join him on his journey of persuasion. Naturally the negative corollary of such a position is that one will encounter inter-group prejudice ? each group believes that their perspective is correct and superior to the perspectives of others (particularly those who hold opposing points of view). But, regardless of this Paul seemed to be pretty successful at holding things (and people) together for the sake of the mission of the Gospel of Christ by accentuating their common Christian identity.

I hope that I can do the same as I journey along my new path. I want to tie together the strings of diversity in order to weave something effective, creative, and new in my journey as a disciple of Jesus.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Joseph Stalin and Zimbabwean vote counting... Sort of.

'Those who vote count nothing, those who count count everything.' Joseph Stalin (1879-1953)

We need to remain in prayer!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Doing a bit of work on the flight back from the Mighty men of God conference.

We are often pressed for time to meet as a leadership team in GDOP. So, moments such as these are valuable. During the flight we discussed the next few weeks' meetings and conferences, we strategised how we can best utilise our time, insights, and resources to achieve
our objectives.

Here's a picture of me making a few notes as we meet on the flight back from the Mighty Men of God conference (your eyesight is fading bad - I smudged the screen of the laptop). The plane seats 7 people, with 4 us able to sit facing one another with a small 'boardroom
table' between us.

The nice thing about flying on CJ3 is that we are allowed to use our cell phones, laptops, and datacards throughout the flight. So, our work can carry on as it would if we were in the office.

4 of the passengers on the flight are from the GDOP leadership team (we also had two sons of two of the guys with us, and one of our team's son-in-law).

I remarked to some of the guys how incredible it is that I was on this amazing flight! I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would have such privilege and such wonderful experiences! Hey, you need to remember that I went to high school in Boksburg! ha ha!
Sure, we work hard, but by any standards these are incredible experiences!! I am humbled and grateful.

A reflection on a great blessing. The Mighty men of God conference.

I arrived home this afternoon from the airport. It was a great weekend at the Mighty men of God conference - I could have done with a few more 'home comforts', but then again, I am a city boy! Seriously though, being on crutches is not very comfortable in the middle of the mealies, and it got a little less comfortable when it started raining last night. But, heck, that's all part of the experience!

The conference was great. I didn't learn anything new, and I guess that the intent of the conference was not to teach new things, but rather to remind us to do things that we should be doing anyway!

I was, however, inspired by the straightforward manner in which Angus Buchan challenged the men who were present to 'get their lives sorted out'. Most of his talks centered around issues of relationship with one's loved ones, the courage to serve God with passion, and finding a purpose for one's life that is about more than just working and selfishly enjoying one's self.

I enjoyed being with the group I went with - there were 7 of us. We spent time chatting, we braai'd (that's a cookout for those outside of South Africa), we camped on a farm, didn't get to shower (there was not enough water for that), and spent a lot of time sharing thoughts and ideas about our dreams, aspirations, our love for our families, our hopes for our lives, our desire for our relationship with God etc. We spent a lot of time just praying with one another and for one another and our wives and children. It has been quite a few years since I have had the joy of just being an ordinary Christian guy among other ordinary Christian guys (not a theologian, or a minister, or a Dean, but just another Christian guy). And I loved it! A number of significant shifts and breakthroughs came from among the group of men that I had the chance to talk to.

I saw many friends there too (quite a few from Bryanston, many, many, many Methodists members and Methodist ministers that I have met, served, and come to know over the years. I even met a few friends that I studied with at University from the Presbyterian, Anglican and independent Churches). Then there were the many new friends I made! I spent a lot of time chatting with a pastor from Margate who is doing remarkable work to bring together the Churches in his area to address the social needs of the community. Through him I met a young doctor, humble, gifted, and kind, who serves his Church and his community with the love of Christ. He inspired me with his faith.

So, it was a good time. On our way out of PMB we had a chance to meet with Dr Michael Cassidy to talk about the NIRSA meetings this coming week. Michael and I haven't always held the same views on certain theological issues. But he has always kindly sent me copies of his books, complimented me on sermons he has heard me preach, and offered me encouragement, advice, and support. I look forward to getting to know him better.

Of course, being a bit of a gadget guy, I CERTAINLY enjoyed the flight to and from the conference in the company jet!

There were a few 'hairy' theological moments. And I am thankful to my good friend who sent me one or two things via email to read and pray about. On the whole however even those who are less liberal than I seemed to sense when things came across too strongly or were overstated. I had many opportunities to engage with the 50 or so guys we camped with in our small area, and amazingly our theology was fairly similar in most respects. We talked about deep and significant things. Of course the one thing we all shared was a love for Jesus.

Well, I am pleased to be home, to have had a long hot bath and a hot cup of coffee. Tomorrow I go to work for a few meetings, and then on Tuesday I go to Johannesburg for the NIRSA (National Initiative to Reform South Africa) conference. I'll post some pictures and reflections from there. So please stay tuned!

Thanks for all the great comments! I am feeling more Wesleyn, and more Christian, than I have in a long while.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Men on the conference are challenged to deal with issues of pride

The challenge of this morning's session was to for the men to think how pride has injured their relationships with others (particularly their children and wives), and with God. It was a 'straight talk' from one father to many others.

The response was deeply encouraging.

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A picture of the 2 hectare tent at the Mighty Men of God Conference near Greytown

Here's the picture, and you know what the amazing thing is? It seats 30 000 people and there is not enough space for all the guys who have come!

It has been a very blessed experience thus far.

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A picture from inside the 'tent' at the Mighty Men of God conference 2008

Here's a picture of one section of the tent on the Mighty Men of God conference. They announced that there are about 52 000 guys here. It is quite an experience.

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How should one respond to theology that one doesn't agree with?

This week I had two of my closest friends email me with questions about events that have theologies that differ from where we are. Both of these friends are trusted and wise, people whose opinions I value and trust. I have often sought their input and guidance.

One of the queries related to the conference I am at this weekend, the 'Mighty men of God'. I will confess that I only visited the website to complete my registration, and did not take the time to read their statement of faith. However, that would not have been likely to alter my excitement to get here. Of course I have also seen the 'Faith like potatoes' movie and read the book of the same name. I have also been to one or two meetings where he has spoken, and so I was not unaware of what I assumed his theological position to be.

I know that there will be some elements of his theological position that are likely not to resonate with mine. The issues is, in instances like this, one knows most of the men here could care less about theology, they are gathered for a Christian weekend with other guys. They want a bit of challenge and inspiration.

However, the question is, how should one respond to such a theological difference? I can think of a few possible options:

1. You simply stay away. I have done this at certain times where I have previously encountered events that I believe are so out of step with the Gospel that one should not support them.

2. One could simply turn a blind eye (or ear) and go along with what is taking place. Sadly I have made this mistake as well a few times in my Christian walk.

3. The third option, to my mind, is that one could attend with a receptive, yet discerning, heart and see what the Lord may do. This is ,ost likely to be my position on most Church and Christian events. Heck each group seems to have certain blessed strengths and certain blindspots and weaknesses. My own denomination has many! However, God seems capable of working in spite of this!

What do you think? How do you respond to this delicate tension between doctrinal purity and less than perfect experiences of God's grace?

I think I have approached this weekend with the 3rd option in mind. I have already been blessed by the conversations, friendships, and the experience. But of course there are also some persons and perspectives that I have seen, heard, and just smiled at and not agreed with. True diversity requires some measure of acceptable compromise.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

So, I was thinking.... 5 hours from PMB to Greytown for the 'Mighty man of God Conference'

The flight from Cape Town to PMB was incredible. I jokingly said to the guys on the flight that I had never imagined that I would ever have a chance to fly on a private jet! After all, let us never forget that I was schooled in Boksburg. One of them reminded me that in the Bible there is some evidence that good things can come from the East!

It took about 1hour 50 minutes to get to PMB airport. It was a comfortable flight. Most of our time was spent catching up on the many smaller things we have needed to discuss and plan for, yet have not had a chance to do. On this flight we did not need to switch off our cell phones and computers, so I could send and receive emails (when we were flying over an area that had signal).

We picked up our little hired bus at Avis and hit to road to Greytown (77 km's from PMB). We drove for about 30 minutes when suddenly we saw a stream of lights on the little farm road - there must have been close to a thousand cars on the road! It looked a lot like the N1 south just before Rygel Ave in Pretoria at 7.30am! All in all it took us 5 hours to make our way onto Angus Buchan's farm!

What an amazing sight! We had heard that there were over 50 000 people who had arrived for the conference - I can well believe it! There are tents everywhere, small ones, big ones, people who came in fancy cars, others in clapped out pickup trucks, some who brought camper vans, others who are sleeping in very small tents. We have been blessed to have had some space reserved in a large tent (the kind that is often erected for a company function or Church fete). There are about 50 or so guys sleeping in this tent that could seat about 500 people.

The main arena where the ministry sessions are taking place is about a 10 minute walk from us (not too much fun on crutches!) It has seeting for 30 000 people and it is full to capacity with people standing all around the outside! Amazingly one walks through the corn fields (mielies for the South Africans) to get there! I could hear the praise and worship teams singing praise to God as we arrived.

It is quite amazing to think that so many men would gather to receive inspiration and blessing from the scriptures. Of course a conference such as this can be quite carefuly directed towards the needs and struggles of men. I personally look forward to hearing what is said, and seeing how the lives of many men are changed over the course of the weekend.

Truthfully however, I think that most of the life change will simply come through conversations around the fire, people having a chat in their tent, or waiting in line to have a shower. As I look around me there are old men and young men, black guys and white guys. The one thing we all have in common is that we love our Lord. It is fantastic to see Bibles on the sleeping bags, people reading their daily devotional guides and praying before they go to sleep.

Tomorrow is anogther day!

There is only one MTN tower in this region (and I guess at least one third to half of the guys are on MTN). So, calls out are sporadic, SMS messages take ages to be sent, and getting a data connection is quite a rarity! But I shall persevere and see if I can send out some pictures.

Please do pray for all the guys who have come here seeking renewal. For those who are in tough places and need to find some care, companionship and help. Pray for those who speak, for those who pray, and for those who will lead us in worship.

45 000 feet somewhere above Cape Town

Leather seats, air conditioner, a few snacks and a great view.

I'm leaving on a jet plane

We leave from Cape Town in the next 30 minutes, landing in PMB. The plane was booked for our trip to Kenya, but since we had to postpone that trip we are using the flight time to get our team to the 'Mighty man of God' conference. It seats 8 passengers, has a small boardroom, a loo, and space for 15kg's of luggage each.

Exciting stuff!

An update on the 'broken' leg in question

This morning I went for Xrays and a visit to the orthopedic surgeon. It has been two months since I broke the tibia and fibular on my left leg in a motorbike accident.

I was praying that I could loose the aircast and the crutches, but alas the Doctor says I shall have at least another 6 weeks (possibly 10). He is pleased with the progress and the leg is healing. However, an open (compound) fracture of this nature does take a little longer to heal. When I had the surgery the surgeon said it would take about 18 weeks, but somehow I thought I could get along a bit sooner than that. In this picture you can see the titanium pin with two screws in the ankle and a screw in the knee. The fractures on towards the left of the picture.

I leave for Pietermaritzburg on the Power jet in a little while. It is going to be fun at the mighty men of God conference! I'll send some updates as I can.

Sent by Dr. Dion Forster from a Nokia phone

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A change of plans, 40 000 guys camping, and religious leaders take a stand in SA!

This weekend I was to fly with the Transformation Africa / Global day of prayer team to Kenya. However, as many would know there are still a few unsettled political matters in that region so we have decided to postpone that trip until we return from Israel in May.

Other news is that we shall be at the Mighty Men of God conference this weekend (organised by Angus Buchan - author of the book 'Faith Like potatoes'. Amazingly there are already 40 000 men signed up to come along for the weekend, camping in tents on Angus' farm! We shall be coming together to learn, grow, and deepen our faith. Can you imagine? 40 000 people traveling to Greytown in KZN to be together for a "men's" Christian weekend!? That is so encouraging! I am certain that it is going to be an experience of a lifetime! It will be an experience for a number of reasons:

1. It is going to be great to be with so many guys who are wanting to learn what it means to be a faithful son, husband, father, as a Christian.
2. It is going to be quite interesting to be camping on crutches!
3. We shall be flying in to PMB in the private jet (a first for me since entering my new post). It seast 8 persons and we'll be flying from a hangar just outside of Cape Town international airport.

I hope to post some pics, reflections, and insights! So, watch this space

Next week I shall be spending two days back in Gauteng at the NIRSA (National Innitiative for the Reformation of South Africa) conference. This conference is an innitiative of a number of prominent Southern African Christian leaders (Moss Nhla, Michael Cassidy, our own Vido Nyobole, and a host of others). They have invited 500 Christian leaders from both the pulpit ministry and marketplace ministries to gather for prayer and conversation about the current state of Southern Africa.

It is wonderful to see the Church taking a collective stand on issues such as HIV AIDS, crime, morality, good governance, and the economy.

If there is cell signal on Mr Buchan's farm I shall naturally post a few pictures and some blog posts from the Mighty men of God conference this weekend.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Picturing God.

I read this wonderful quote in my devotions this morning:

Picturing God must precede any speaking about God, for our pictures accompany all our words and they continue long after we fall silent before God. Images - the language of the psyche - are the coin of life; they touch our emotions as well as our thoughts; they read down into our bodies as well as toward our ideas. They arrive unbidden, startling, after our many years of effort to craft them. From 'Picturing God' by Ann Belford Ulanov.

The challenge is to see God before we attempt to talk about God.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A fantastic sunset on a paradigm shifting weekend.

This has been an absolutely fantastic weekend! It has been a long time since I've felt as inspired, engaged and challenged! The International Transformation Network conference was a real paradigm shift for me to realise just how important it is to equip 'marketplace' people to impact change in their workplace.

Since the team from Argentina, Canada and the USA were here we made the most of our time together. So, on Sunday and Monday evenings we had two 'marathon' meetings. They were marathons in the sense that there was great enthusiasm, excitement, and hard work as we met. However, they were also marathon meetings since we worked until midnight on Sunday evening, and just before 1am on Monday evening (Tuesday morning).

Tonight, however, my 'Half Time' meeting and conference call ended at 5pm, so Megie, Courts, Liam and I bought Steers burgers and went to the beach to watch the sunset.

I haven't felt this good in a very long time - hard work, worthwhile endeavour, and great rewards!

Redeeming the 'Broederbond' in Wellington

Today I am out at a Christian camp site, called 'Bergkroon', it is a gem! An incredible modern, spacious, well equiped camp site just outside Wellington - it's no surprise that it is beautiful, it used to be the headquarters of the 'Broederbond' (the Afrikaner version of a secret society, like the Free Masons). The Boederbond built this facility in the 1970's (I guess from the style of the architecture).

It has now been bought by a Christian group who have prayed throughout the premises, prepared it and got it all set up for Christian groups to use for their camps and weekends. In some senses one could suggest that what was intended for evil has been redeemed for good!

Just take a look at this setting. Isn't it incredible?

Monday, April 14, 2008

A great day in Parliament

It was a great honour and joy to be in the South African parliament today. There were many business and government leaders who shared the common vision of working together to create ways to bring about God's healing and transformation by creating strategic alliances for minstry in Churches and the 'marketplace'.

I am encouraged that there are people from various political parties, church groupings, and businesses who have the courage to work together to address the needs of our community, as God would have us do it.

For many years I have been so caught up in the 'work of the Church', forgetting that the Church is in fact present through its members throughout society - that is where (and how) ministry takes place.

Anyway, here's a picture of me in the 'old' chambers of parliament. We weren't allowed to take photos in the new parliamentary chamber.

Off to parliament today

This has been a fruitful, yet busy, weekend. We started with the ITN Confernce on Friday morning. It was a truly inspiriational event. I have given some reflection on the challenge to 'make the most of every opportunity' (note every, NOT just every religious, or ever Church, opportunity) as Paul writes in Eph 5:15-17 in this Wednesday's program The ministry and me that will be broadcast at 9am (CAT) on Radio Pulpit (you can listen to it via streaming audio at http://www.radiopulpit.co.za ).

Over the course of the weekend I could sense a shift in the hearts and minds of the delegates, most of whom were from 'the marketplace' i.e., from workplaces, large corporations, high office in government and other political parties, and education. There was a growing sense of recognition that God desires that we utilize every opportunity at ouir disposal, 'living wise, and not foolish lives', to establish God Kingdom of grace. The alliance between pulpit pastors and people who see their presence in the marketplace as an opportunity for ministry, is powerful! Of course the aim is to achieve the will of God through such strategic ministry, and in so doing not only to bring personal salvation, but also to work against systemic sin (such as poverty, greed, human rights abuses, corruption etc.)

The clinching thought for me was when one person asked 'If Bill Gates were converted in your Church, would you put him in charge of your Church's finance committee, or would you equip and train him to go back into the marketplace to impact the global economy with God's will and grace?' A real challenge!

So, today we shall be in parliament with some key leaders to seek to influence the climate of our nation by speaking peace, sharing grace, but also bringing challenge and truth. We met with some key South African and international leaders until just after 11pm last night to prepare for this critical meeting today.

I hope to be able to send a few pictures through, and some reflections. Please do keep this event in your prayers.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Copies of my three most recent books free to download.

Here are copies of my (own) three most recent books, please feel free to download them, share them, and use them as you please. All that I ask is that you please 'link back' to me when you use the books, either by pointing to my web page http://www.dionforster.com or to my blog /blogger.html ).

An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity. Download the PDF file (click here)

Christ at the centre - discovering the cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths. Download the PDF file (click here)

A prayer guide for use during examinations (with grateful thanks to Roger Prentice). Download the PDF file (click here)

If you would like to own 'paper copies' of any of my books please drop me a line if you're in South Africa (unfortunately I cannot give those away for free), or please buy copies from Amazon.com if you're outside of South Africa.

A Cathedral of sport! Watching the Stormers and Cheetas at Newlands 'Province!!!'

Now I feel like I've made it back home to the Cape! This afternoon I am watching rugby at Newlands, the 'Cathedral' of South African Rugby!

Whether the Stormers win or loose is beside the point - they're the team that God favours!


Stuck in procrastination mode? 5 tips to get you 'unstuck'

Merlin Mann is one of my favourite Mac enthusiasts! He has written numerous books, and has a regular column in the New York Times (I think).

Here are 5 great tips to help you get 'unstuck' if you're struggling to get those creative juices flowing - I don't know about other writers and bloggers, but I often find that I struggle to find anything creative and worthwhile to write. Well, here are a few tips for us:

Here are five great tips from Merlin Mann of 43 Folders on "getting unstuck" when you are procrastinating or don't know how to move forward.

Hack your way out of writer?s block - ?Literally. Put five completley random words on a piece of paper. Write five more words. Try a sentence. Could be about anything. A block ends when you start making words on a page.?

Solve problems by writing a note to yourself - ?Seriously, open up your email program, type in your own email address, then choose a brilliant subject line that perfectly encapsulates your particular problem.?

Do a fast ?mind-sweep? - ?And as long as you let that stuff accumulate as chunky deposits on the edges of your perception, it?s very unlikely it?ll get done since ? well ? they won?t get done until they?re been captured and properly started, right??

Cringe-Busting your TODO list - ?Per cringe item, think honestly about why you?re freaked out about it. Seriously. What?s the hang-up? (Fear of failure? Dreading bad news? Angry you?re already way overdue?)?

Patching your personal suck - ?Every patch that fails teaches you a little something that might come in handy some day. Mistakes, as they say, can be a buddhist gift.?


Friday, April 11, 2008

Learning to learn... again.

I have spent most of my life learning. I am 36 years old and I have been involved in some manner of formal for 29 of those 36 years (that includes primary schooling, high school, and 5 University degrees). People often look upon my 'book learning' with a measure of astonishment. There is nothing to celebrate about it, in fact I have often thought that it was stupidity that kept me studying for so many years. By that I mean stupidity of two forms, stupidity in the form that I never thought I knew enough so I would keep reading, researching, and wanting to learn. But also stupidity of another kind, in the sense that if I had any sense I would have realised quite early on that while book learning has great value in some contexts the MOST valuable forms of learning take place through the experiences of 'ordinary life'.

A quick disclaimer, before I carry on, to those students who are busy with their degrees - please don't take my flippancy (which is, truthfully, somewhat tongue in cheek) as an excuse to stop your studies! There are many advantages to formal learning. It is both necessary and essential for the effective functioning of institutions and society.

However, the reality is, each time that I start some new chapter in my life, ministry, and work, I come to discover just how much I DON'T know! As I have been sitting in board meetings, conferences, strategic planning workshops, and meeting people along the way, I am challenged to
recognise that I need to learn a whole new 'skill set' to be effective and useful for the Lord where I am now.

I think this process of learning is a given. Most of us would agree that new surroundings and new work require new insights and skills.

However, what has surprised me is that I not only need to learn THINGS, I have also had to learn how to learn again! As one gets older one tends to settle into patterns. I have established some fairly concrete patterns for learning. I have recognised this time around that I not only need to learn, but also need to relearn how to learn!

For the past 5 years my learning has been largely academic - if I needed to understand something I would go away, get all the books, journals, and academic papers on that particular issue, do a literature survey of all that has been written (with my research question in mind), and then I would distil the information into some clear and structured document, tracing the major arguments and counter arguments (much like one draws up a list of pros and cons), trying to understand the merits and demerits of each. Finally, I would weigh up all that I had read,
thought about, and written and then come to some conclusion.

I am learning in a new way now. Most of what I learn doesn't come from books, it is not written in papers - rather it comes from relationships, from understanding what people have discovered and learned in their lives. I am enjoying it! For those who know me, I am quite a strong
extrovert, I never liked books more than people! Now, I am learning in a way that I love!

International Transformation Network

Today the International Transformation Network Conference started at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West. The purpose of the conference is to help business leaders, politicians, and Church leaders to use their influence and passion to bring about God's Kingdom of healing, transformation and renewal on earth.

I think forget that there is an eschatological urgency and task for Christians in society - we are called to DO what we so often pray for i.e., to establish God's gracious Kingdom here on earth (a Kingdom in which people are reunited with God, at peace with God, with others, and with all of creation).

I am looking forward to learning fresh and creative ways to help the Church (in all its members, in local congregations, in schools, in offices, in homes, in cities) to bring God's healing and provision to all people (not just Christians)!

If you're looking for a very good book to read on these priciples please read Ed Silvoso's book 'Transformation' (2007) Regal Publishers.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

They love it too. You can see why!

I spent the day at the community broadcasters conference (hosted by the Association of Christian Boradcasters) in Gordons Bay. I drove past the beach on my way to the hotel where the convention took place. The weather at the beach was absolutely perfect! So, I phoned Megie to bring the kids to the beach. While I was sitting in an airconditioned conference venue they were having a great time on the beach!

Megie took this photo of Courtney and Liam. We sure are blessed to be back in Cape Town!

I'll write a few thoughts about Christian broadcasting when I get a chance a bit later tonight. Now, however, I need to head home.

Clouds coming in over the mountains

What a lovely sight! This picture was taken between meetings - it shows the clouds coming from Grabouw over Sir Lowry's pass towards Cape Town.

God's beauty is seen in God's creation!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Forgetting and stretching - an unfolding plan of expectation and excitement.

Today was my second day in my new job. It has felt like a bit of a whirlwind these last two days. I have spent most of my time just trying to keep up with what is happening around me, trying to figure out who does what, and get on top of the tasks and meetings that are increasing as each day passes.

Expectation is a powerful emotion.

These last two days I have felt the pressure of the expectations of others ? having a title (choose any of my titles, Reverend or Doctor) seems to create some expectation of what I am able to do. These expectations are flattering, and in fact they are quite helpful since they open many doors and create some wonderful opportunities. However, in reality titles mean nothing! I may have a doctorate, and be an ordained Methodist minister, but in this environment I probably know less than the lady who brings tea into the many meetings! I have a lot to learn, and I have to learn quickly.

Then there are my own expectations. I have longed to hold my current post for some years now! Today I sat with Dawie Spangeberg to get an overview of all of the ministries that I will have involvement in, it was awesome to see how much is being done, and what good it is achieving for God's Kingdom by bringing change, renewal, healing, and hope to people across the globe! I knew that I would be doing some exciting things, and I know that many of them will require me to be more creative than I have ever been, to work harder and longer that I have ever worked, and to excersize more courage than I have ever had to employ. My expectation upon myself is also high! I don't want to let anyone down, and certainly want to do my very best with all of the wonderful training, experience and growth that I have gained thus far in life. In some ways I feel that I shall have to be a bit like an athlete, stretching and pushing myself beyond what is comfortable, in order to 'take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me' (Phil 3:12).

There is a rich vitality to those three verses (12-14) in Phil 3 ? they are filled with energy, exertion, and purpose. In order to grasp the intense exhortation that Paul is making one needs to understand that this section is framed by a particular Greek word, teleios. The easiet way to explain the meaning of this word is to relate it to the English word with which it shares a common root ? telescope. The Greek word, teleios refers to an end, much like a telescope looks towards some far off and distant place. However, the end, in this case, is very particular in nature. It refers to a 'perfect end'. What is equally important in this context is that one recognises that Paul is not speaking of some abstract perfection. No, the use of an illustration of physical exercise to reach a specific, perfect, goal (the prize), helps us to understand that the kind of perfection that is required here is a functional perfection! It is about doing the best (practically) that we can with what we have.

He gives the following advice to achieve this perfect, functional, goal ? first he says in verse 13 that we should forget what is behind. He uses a very particular Greek word, epilanthanomenos from the root epilanthomai, which literelly means to 'become comfortable' with your memory of the past. In essence he is saying, leave behind what must stay in the past, and comfortably integrate what you need to take into the future. Why? Well quite simply if you get stuck in the past (if you cannot let it go) you will never have the freedom to reach for the perfect prize. So, I have had to let go of many things that I thought I knew and have the courage to learn, and unlearn, certain things in order to move ahead.

Second, he says that in order to go into the future one will have to 'strain towards what lies ahead' (verse 13). The Greek word used here is epekteinomenos which comes from the sports arena, it means to stretch, to strain, to exert oneself in a manner that is not 'comfortable' or 'normal'. The best way in which I can describe the complex meaning of this word is to liken it to the feeling that you get in your hamstring (that muscle at the back of your leg) when you reach to touch your ties while keeping your knee locked. The stretch in the hamstring is an epekteinomenos, it is uncomfortable, but when it is done carefully and intentionally it increases your strength, endurance and performance.

I feel a little like this, needing to 'comfortably forget' my past life while 'uncomfortably stretching' for the future that my new life holds.

In the next week I shall participate in an International Transformation Network conference here in Somerset West, I shall attend a public broadcasters convention and give input on new media and the emergent Christian conversation, I shall have lunch in parliament, fly to Johannesburg for meetings, fly to Pietermaritzburg for the 'Mighty Men of God' conference, go to Kenya, and prepare for a trip to Israel in two weeks. By the end of this year I will have been in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Kenya, Ghana, and England.

There are great expectations, but there are also great rewards! What an incredible privelage to be part of this great ministry!

You know what the best part of all of this is? I am in an organisation that takes my family seriously! Megan, Courtney, and Liam are invited out, catered for, and cared for. They are always welcome at meetings, conferences and events. Megie has even been offered the opportunity to come on two of the overseas trips with me with expenses paid!

A miracle step from our miracle boy!

Today is a truly memorable day for Megie, Courtney, Liam and I - on this day (8 April 2008) Liam took his very first step on the Starnd beach!

What makes this so special? Well, when he was born 16 months ago he was just a tiny little spark of life. He weighed 1 kilogram and had very serious brain bleeds. The doctors cautiously told us that he may not survive more than a week, and that if he did survive the chances of normal develpment were not very favourable.

Well, his little life has had some challenges. He has spent about a third of his life in hospitals. But, his life has many more miraculous signs of God's powerful healing grace!

That first step on the beach today is a testimony to the power of God to lovingly and powerfully answer prayers, beyond what we could ever hope or imagine (Eph 3:20). This evening when I got home from work Liam took another step (just showing off! Haha)

We thank God for his life, and his living! Megan and I continue to fast each Friday for all children, and their parents, who long to experience God's healing power.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The end of a GREAT first day!

I had a great first day! I'll send some pictures of my new smart office (on the top floor next to the board room!) tomorrow if I get a chance.

I had a busy day meeting people, sitting in meetings, working out the travel plans for the next few months, and even had a chance to preach at a small Christian business gathering over lunch!

It is going to be busy for the next few months! But, it is exciting work, and it makes such a difference to so many people!

One perk is that Graham Power has a 'box' at Newlands Rugby stadium! So, this Saturday after the ITN conference ends I'll be at Newlands to watch Western Province beat the Cheetah's!!

Thanks for the prayers!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Overcoming 'internetlessness' in paradise - the verdict is...

Thanks so much to everyone who responded to my question about how one overcomes the ravages of not having a steady broadband connection.

So, the verdict is.......!

Most of those who responded (from within South Africa - that excludes Paddy the Monk with broadand in his monastic cell, and Murray the Anglican who can download videos of Morning Prayer in HDTV and still not slow down) use 3G of some sort (either via a USB dongle, a PCMCIA card, or via their cell phone).

Well, we happen to own a PCMCIA 3G card with a Vodacom prepaid sim card. Thanks to Gus and mevdominee I learned that you can convert purchased airtime to data bundles! That is just incredible!!! So, Megie has the datacard in her computer and we've got her a 500MB data bundle.

As for me and my house (the Apple Macbook Pro), we've decided to load a monthly 1 Gig data bundle to my regular MTN contract. That way I can use the data on my Nokia E90 when traveling in South Africa, and hook it to the Macbook Pro at the office and at home at HSDPA speeds for regular net connection...

Using Apple Mac OS X 10.5 I can even share my network connection via Wifi and turn my Macbook Pro into a wireless hotspot for our home for Megie, Courtney (and the neighbours) to share from their computers.

Thanks again to everyone who responded. I appreciate it a great deal. As soon as I've settled I'll be back up to bloggin speed.

I have a few VERY interesting trips coming up! In two weeks time I shall be boarding a private jet to Kenya for a 2 day trip to meet with government and business leaders, then a few weeks after that I head to Israel and Turkey... Please could I ask you to pray that my leg heals quickly! It will not be fun to travel on crutches!

Please also spare a prayer for my friends and colleagues in EMMU (and at John Wesley College). I miss them already, and I know that my departure places extra strain and expectation upon their already sparse resources and energy.

Having a little rest on a Sunday afternoon.

For the last 17 years I have either preached at, or attended, an evening service at the Church where I have been a minister. This morning we attended a service 'back home' at the Coronation Ave Methodist Church. It was great to be there! It felt familiar. Philip Buckland preached a great sermon and served communion. After the service we had a vist with our friends Andre and Kerry Fair! It is so cool to live in the same city as our Church and to catch up with old friends!

Tonight I won't be preaching, in fact I'll just be at home with Megie, Courtney and Liam. It is great to have a chance to relax! Here's little Liam getting a head start on the Sunday afternoon nap in the back of Megie's car!

Tomorrow is my first day in my new job / post! Did I mention that I'm nervous!? Spare a prayer for the new kid on the block...

Friday, April 04, 2008

Another tough day in Africa!

Ah, yes, another tough day in Africa! We're at Strand beach having bite to eat at sunset. The scenery is good, it's a fantastic day, 'en die Kaap is nog steets Hollands'!

Two ponies in their stable.

Can you believe that they managed to fit both my German luxury vehicle (aka the BMW 650GS on the left) and my Italian stalion (aka Mertyl the orange 1967 Vespa on the right) into the removal truck that brought our belongings the 1419 km's from Johannesburg to Cape Town!?

Well, here they are, two ponies safely in their stable!

Suffering from 'internetlessness' what's the best solution? A little help please!

For the past four years I have had ADSL broadband at both my home and my office.  For those in the UK and the US, ADSL is the fastest 'wired' internet access we have in South Africa.  Because of our telecommunications company, TELKOM's monopoly on the 'pipes' in and out of the country through SAIX all other providers have to rent bandwidth from them.

ADSL has been quite fine for my needs.  I seldom stream more than a few seconds of youtube, I don't download large updates, videos, or huge files.  At most I download a 40MB MP3 every other day as a podcast on iTunes.  

Now, however, my broadband needs have changed with our move.  First, I will be traveling quite a bit, so I do need a solution that will make internet access available at a fairly fast and reliable rate throughout South Africa, and even the world when necessary.  Second, we are renting our current home for just a few months while we look to sell our old house in Somerset West and buy something that is a bit larger.  So, we don't want the hassle of waiting for TELKOM to install a phone line, process our application for ADSL, charge us huge installation fees, and then have to go through all the hassle and expense in a few months time when we move.  Third, at work I am locked into a fairly restricted corporate network.  They use a Microsoft exchange server, which means that my MAC gives them headaches so they have asked if I would please use a Windows laptop (they are buying me a little Windows subnotebook for work purposes - either a Sony TZ, or the Acer 6292).  This means that my Macbook Pro (which is the machine from which I blog, record my podcasts, record my Radio Pulpit weekly shows, upload and download podcasts etc.) will not have steady broadband access through a regular network.

SO, here's the question:  What is the BEST and CHEAPEST broadband solution to meet our internet needs?

1)  Bite the bullet and get ADSL put in at home!

2)  Sign your life away and get a VODACOM 3G card.

3)  Didn't you know that you can use xxxx solution in the Helderberg Basin!?

If you have any advice, insight, or help you can offer to cure our 'internetlessness' in the Somerset West area I would be eternally grateful!

Please, also just drop a comment to let me know what broadband solution you use!  I would be interested to know (corporate network, University network, leaching your neighbour's wifi, dialup, etc.)


PS.  We had our first 'flood' in our new house last night.  We started a load of washing at 10pm, only to discover at 11.30pm that the washing machine wasn't working so we had a few inches of water throughout the house (and many boxes still unpacked on the floor....)  MANY, MANY, MANY towels and buckets later we had moped up most of the mess and hit the hay.  The good news is that I have fixed the washing machine!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Babysitting, flexibility and life. If you can't bend you may just break.

I had a little revelation yesterday, nothing too profound, just a thought.  You know, life is a lot like babysitting!  

One of the struggles that we have encountered in our move this week is the fact that I am pretty useless when it comes to unpacking, moving things, and carrying anything around.  My crutches leave me rather helpless in the department where husbands normally excel...  So, my saint of a wife Megie has been bearing the brunt of getting us settled into our new home.  Together with that Little Liam has been rather unsettled for the last week and a bit.  It is quite understandable.  We have been stressed, and babies are quite sensitive to that.  But, over and above that, he has watched his whole world get packed into boxes, his movement has been restricted, his regular patterns and habits have been disturbed and he has had to spend quite a bit of time being told that he should not touch this or that, and not go here or there.  The long and the short of it is that I have done my best to keep him occupied while Megie tackles the boxes.  Liam doesn't seem to find me nearly as interesting (or useful) as his mom!  When he is with her he is quite happy just to be on her lap or hip.  When he is with me, however, he needs to entertained!

We have a number of 'props' and toys that keep him occupied.  However, I have come to understand that his attention span is about as short as that of his old dad.  Every few minutes the activity needs to change, or otherwise he goes off in search of his mom!  What keeps him occupied now will not necessarily keep him occupied in 5 minutes time.  Flexibility and novelty seem to be the keys to successful babysitting!

Well, that was the source of my revelation.  

Here I am a 36 year old doctoral graduate who has spent his adult life in ministry of one form or another (except for some time as a conscript in the South African Army, and far too many years at University).  Mid life for contemporary males is 36 years old (I'm not sure if you've ever done the Math on this!  They say that the average age at which a relatively healthy, white, South African Male dies, at this point in time, is 72 years old.  Divide 72 in half and you have 36, my exact age.  Mid life....)  Mid life is an extraordinary time!  It has caused me to reflect on what I spend my hours and days doing.  The previous 36 years have passed like a flash!  Sure, there have been very many incredible, rewarding, life altering, consciousness raising, Christ loving, moments... But boy it has passed way too quickly.  So, what shall I do with the next 36 years (which I hope to live to the full...  I should make it to 72 years old if I don't ride my scooter to often...)?

That was when I realised that flexibility and novelty are key to getting the best out of life and living.  Sure, one needs stability, and one must capitalise on what one knows (it would be stupid for me NOT to do something in theology, science, ministry etc.)... But, within those parameters one needs to have COURAGE to dare to do new things, and FLEXIBILITY to be able to role with the changes.

If you cannot venture with courage you will quickly become stagnant and stale.  And, if you cannot be flexible you will very quickly break under the pressure of an ever changing life.

How courageous are you?  How flexible and open to change are you?  These might just be two keys to greater fulfillment and blessing life!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Thinking outside the box... It sure changes one's perspective on life!

Well, our removal company arrived at 17h00 yesterday to offload our 'stuff'... They were supposed to get here in the morning but they were running late. So, once they had squeezed the truck into our driveway they started the process of unloading our belongings (even my BMW 650GS and my Vespa were on the truck). They left at about 21h30. So, today we start unpacking.

There is something comforting about knowing that all of one's possessions are in the house (even though they're boxed ans wrapped). Last night Courtney and Liam slept on their beds, Megie and I slept on our mattress (there was not enough space for our bed among the boxes).

It's another lovely day in paradise!

Here's Liam in a box. Thinking outside of the box helps, but keeping a 16 month old in a box while one is trying to unpack helps even more!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Happy to be home!

Here's little Liam enjoying our new home!

We had such a lovely 'send off' at the College on Friday - I will miss my friends (both staff and students) so much! It feels quite strange not to be at Chapel at 7h15 on a Tuesday morning. I have been thinking about the college all morning. In my prayers I have asked the Lord will take care of everything that needs to be done for the sake of the students, and also to help lighten the load that Neville, Dix, and Ruth will bear until they find a replacement to fill my post.

Our farewell service at Bryanston Methodist Church was also very emotional! I cannot tell you how much I will miss our family there. That community has left an incredible impression upon us! They loved us, showed us such acceptance and care, and helped us to develop our discipleship of Jesus. It is truly a remarkable Church. I was constantly amazed that I should have the privelage to minister there.

Well, now we're back home! We had 6 incredible years of ministry here in Somerset West (a year of which was spent in Stellenbosch when I was doing my doctorate there). As we drove through Stellenbosch last night it just felt so familiar, so wonderful to be back!

Today our belongings will arrive just after lunch and the big job of unpacking will start. We will take a break just before sunset to take a walk on the beach (well, I'll sit on the side... My crutches don't cope too well on beach sand! Ha ha!)