Dion's random ramblings

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Back on 'Red square' (Stellenosch)

This morning I came through to Stellenbosch to have my card re-activated to use the library. As a past student (worked on my Doctorate here) and a local minister I am graciously granted use of the University facilities. So, I have a new card and a few books to read!

This photo was taken on 'red square' (rooi plein in Afrikaans). Here in this bastion of former Afrikaans conservatism the students poke fun at the institution by calling the main 'sqaure' on the University Campus red square (supposedly because of the red brick floor). At the centre of the square is a statue of J.H. Marais (not Stalin).

It is great to be here again! I remember WISHING that I could complete my PhD and come back here some day! Well, the PhD is done, and I'm back!

Please help Charmone! A miracle premature baby.

Time does have a way of helping one to forget pain. Last night Megan and I sat in our study crying our eyes out! It has been 20 months since Liam was born (follow the story here and here), and we have been blessed so richly by his health and development!

We still continue to pray and fast every Friday, giving thanks, but also remembering those who still continue to struggle with the memory of lost children, and those who struggle with children who have health concerns as a result of premature birth.

When Liam was born at 27 weeks in the Pretoria East hospital we met a lovely lady, Dianne, herself a nursing sister. Dianne had given birth to her daughter Charmone at 26 weeks. Charmone weighed just 800 grams or so at birth and faced a number of severe challenges. Whilst Liam was in ICU for the three months we spent a lot of time talking with and praying with Charmone, Dianne and their family. We rejoiced when she was released to go home, and wept when she was re-admitted to hospital. We stayed in contact and followed the story of her development, the discovery that she was blind and deaf, the doctors' suggestion that due to severe epilepsy she would not survive... It was such a painful journey to watch. We cried many, many times.

Last night we received an email from a mutual friend telling us of Charmone's progress, and that she has the possibility to get implants that will allow her to hear! As we watched the youtube video of her story Megan and I wept, and wept!

Please would you consider helping if you are able to? You can go to Charmone's website at http://www.charmone.info

Or you can donate directly:

If you are able to help anyway, please contact us on 072 275 3246

Account details:

Charmone Foord Trust (IT1969/08)
Acc no 134546946
Branch code 012645 ( Standard bank Centurion)
SMS the word POP to 39055 (SMS costs R15)

Please spare a prayer for Charmone, Dianne, and the rest of their family. Please continue to pray for her healing and for strength and blessing for her parents and her siblings. Please could you also give thanks, with us, for Liam and his remarkable development? We realise each day that things could have been so different for him and for us.
Here's a picture of little Liam in pajamas riding his little truck!

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jesus and the social Gospel - a great article!

One of the most significant struggles I have faced in my new post has been reconciling my affinity for justice and the core of the Good News (which I believe is the the work of conforming the world to the principles of the Kingdom of God) with conservative evangelical prejudice against the social Gospel...

I am constantly amazed and perplexed by the negative response that I get from persons when I suggest that Jesus came BOTH to save souls, and to transform society! Within that last few weeks I had one of my more conservative Christian friends call me a communist, and another accused me of having been sidetracked into secular humanism! I on the other hand have been trying my best to live with courage and obedience as Jesus lived - justly, mercifully, hospitably, and humbly.

One thing that I am sure of is that God has called me to help individuals and communities to rediscover the joy of serving Christ by blessing others. One of the best ways to do this is to work against those structural sins that oppress and enslave people (poverty, ignorance, prejudice, hatred, and abuse). I can just imagine God's smile when a hungry person is fed, a sick person is healed and cared for, and when an oppressive economic system is toppled!

I was so pleased when I found this article, written by Dr Reg Codrington, on Jesus and the social Gospel. I am encouraged by it since it shows that there are others like me who are able to hold together their passion for the Gospel of Christ, their commitment to the evangelical ideal of bringing persons into a lived relationship with God in Christ, and understand that their lives, energy, and creativity are to be spent doing what Jesus would want done.

There was such a great response to a recent post of an article written by my father, that I thought I'd post something else by him. Anyone who grew up thinking that the "social gospel" was a problem would do well to read this.

Jesus and the ?Social Gospel?
Dr Reg B Codrington


When I was growing up, the denomination of which I was part used the term ?Social Gospel? almost as a swear word. We were taught that ?liberal? denominations who placed a focus on meeting social needs were guilty of, and I quote, ?sending a well-fed sinner to hell?. The focus had to be on ?saving souls? and everything else had to be subjugated to that aim.

Now let me make it clear at the outset that I still believe that the most important thing that can happen to a person is that he or she enters into a vital, living relationship with Christ and lives in accordance with His teachings, as revealed in the Word of God. But I have become increasingly convinced that what I was taught as a youngster was just a part of a much bigger picture which, sadly, I only began to understand nearly forty years later! What a serious responsibility lies in the hands of teachers of the Word to ensure that they teach the whole gospel to our young people!


I suppose that one of the contributing factors to my changed understanding of the social gospel was the revelations after 1994 in South Africa about the horrific abuses perpetrated on people by the apartheid regime. What was such a wake-up call was that I had truly believed I was alert to the needs of the oppressed people in our country and had even spoken out on their behalf. I had been part of a deputation to a parliamentary sub-committee to urge the scrapping of the Mixed Marriages Act and had felt very virtuous about doing it. Yet when I look back now, I realize that many things were going on under my nose which I knew nothing about, and my abhorrence for a so-called ?social gospel? kept me from doing what I could have done to alleviate the suffering of some around me.

As a pastor of a large church in Pretoria, I had been party to expanding our missions giving to nearly 30% of the budget, but paradoxically, it was my exit from pastoral ministry which truly brought me face to face with the needs of the people of South Africa. Working in a Christian school in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, I came face to face with Black young people and adults who had no food because they had no jobs; who had no education because they had no proper facilities; who faced the AIDS pandemic with resignation because life had no hope anyway.

I then began to read what some of the Emerging Church writers were saying to the 21st century church about the importance of being relevant in the world and my wife and I found ourselves saying, ?Yes, that?s it!? We could see that the church (with a few happy exceptions) had become a club so concerned with its own survival and comfort that it had forgotten its true mission. I recalled reading Dr Michael Griffiths? stirring book, ?Cinderella with Amnesia?, many years ago, in which he pointed out that if the church forgets its mission responsibility, it has lost its reason for existence. But I began to see that ?mission? was a much broader concept than I had ever envisaged.


As much as anything, I suppose it was the reading of Philip Yancey?s amazing book, ?The Jesus I never knew?, which caused me to re-read the Gospels in a new light. I began to ask serious questions about the ?gospel? which Jesus taught and, if I were to take His opening sermon as a keynote message for His whole ministry, then somewhere along the line I had missed something vitally important. When Jesus was handed the scroll in the synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4), he chose to read from Isaiah 61 and announced His anointing as one who would proclaim good news, i.e. the ?gospel?. All fine so far, except that His next statement would have been out of sync with the vast majority of evangelical preachers today. They would have said, ?you need to turn from your sins and accept Jesus as your Saviour?.

Now Jesus knew that He had come to ?save His people from their sins?, so more than anyone He would have desired the salvation of those who heard Him. Yet He chose to define His gospel in a different way. (All quotations from the English Standard Version) Note the elements of it:

  • It was good news to the poor
  • It included proclaiming liberty to the captives
  • It included recovering of sight to the blind
  • It included setting at liberty those who are oppressed
  • It included a proclamation of a type of ?jubilee year? in which those whose land had been taken away must be returned.

What absolutely stunned me when I went back to study this passage was that this is not only the ?social gospel?. It is also the ?liberation theology? about which I was warned so strenuously by the spiritual elders! And I found that the convoluted ?hermeneutical principle? of making this all spiritual rather than actual began to seem a little threadbare.

So, as a lover of the Old Testament prophets, I went back to study the context of Isaiah?s prophecies, only to find verses like, ?I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong? (Isaiah 61:8); ?They shall not build and another inhabit? (Isaiah 65:22); and of course the famous Micah 6:8 passage: ?He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God??

Back to the New Testament, only to find James defining pure, undefiled religion as visiting ?orphans and widows in their affliction? (1:27)


I was therefore left with no alternative but to deduce that the kind of Christianity which Jesus both taught and demonstrated included a large element of social upliftment, based on God?s unending desire that there should be justice, mercy, kindness, fairness and love among the peoples of the earth. I had to conclude that the only way millions of people will ever know that the spiritual Kingdom of God has come on earth is if they see the members of that Kingdom getting their hands dirty in feeding the hungry, welcoming strangers, providing clothes for the needy, helping the sick, visiting those in prison ? doesn?t this sound just vaguely like Matthew 25:31-46?

What finally stirred me to put laser printer to paper was the reading of Jeffrey Sachs? mind-blowing book, ?The End of Poverty?. Both he and Bono (who writes the foreword to the book) maintain that we have in our hands the means to end extreme poverty, as experienced by 1 billion people on the planet, by the year 2025. The figures he provides are convincing and shocking, especially when one reads that the United States spent $450 billion in 2004 on the military and just $15 billion on poverty alleviation!

But then I had to look closer to home. It?s very easy for all of us to sit in judgment on the wealthy nations for not doing more ? and I certainly believe they should! But before we do that, we really need to ask what Christians are doing to participate in this poverty alleviation. We need to ask if our church really needed to buy that building next door, or put in new carpets, or upgrade the sound system, or have those lavish women?s and men?s breakfasts, when 15 000 people will die TODAY in Africa from preventable diseases ? preventable, that is, if someone provides them with the money for the medication, or the mosquito nets, or simply the food to strengthen their bodies against any passing bug!

I recall criticism being levelled against the church leaders of Central Methodist Church, Johannesburg, during the apartheid era, for reaching out to meet the physical and emotional needs of the oppressed, when what they really needed was to ?be saved?. May God forgive those who criticized, for that same church is now reaching out to the thousands of people displaced in our country through the current wave of xenophobic violence. I suspect that the leaders of this church have a far better understanding of what the gospel of Jesus Christ should really look like than hundreds of pastors who occupy the so-called evangelical pulpits of this land.

On several occasions in recent years I have visited the Salvation Army in Bournemouth, England, where Sundays include gospel preaching and open-airs, but all week long they are clothing the poor, feeding the hungry, cutting the hair and providing baths for the destitute, even taking hot soup to emergency workers attending to accidents or fires. If that?s the social gospel, we need more of it!

Hilton, South Africa
22nd May 2008

Vorlage, pre-existent Hebrew texts, the Septuagint and the papiri...

Oh the fun, oh the joy... I am editing a friend's book in my spare time. It is a magnificent piece of work! He is a Biblical scholar of great acclaim... However, when I face paragraphs like this I am reminded why I prefer hermeneutics to exegesis...

My Greek's not bad, but my Hebrew... Mmmmm... It's Greek to me (sort of!)

The view of the Helderberg basin on the way to work!

Driving to work is lovely when you live in the Helderberg. This is a picture of the bay looking towards Gordon's Bay, the ocean and the mountains! It's a bit cold, and will soon be wet... But heck, it's Cape Town!

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Another sunset at the seaside!

I managed to get away from work at 5pm today so that I could meet Megie, Courtney and Liam for sunset. It is a crisp clear Cape evening! It's cold, but beautiful! KFC and a sunset! Good times!

Corporate culture and domesticated animals...

I am spending my nights working on the text of a friend (Prof Gert Steyn's) book on the use of Old Testament quotations in the book of Hebrews... I was reminded of a particular Greek word that sums up something of what I am feeling at present. The Greek word, used in Matthew 5:5 is [praeis] (from the root praus) ("blessed are the meek").

This Greek word, [praeis], which is translated at 'meek' in the English translations of the Bible and 'sagmoedig' in the Afrikaans translations of the Bible is a much deeper and more significant word than what we understand meekness to mean in contemporary English. When you hear 'meek' what do you think about? Perhaps soft, spineless, a pushover... Well, the Greek work speaks of a dialectic (google it!) Hegel would have spoke of praus as the synthesis between a thesis and an antithesis - a settled middle ground. Aristotle also used this term in his writings - he defined praotes as the middle ground between orgilotes (meaning extreme anger) and aorgesia meaning excessive 'angerlessness' (or complete passivity and lack of emotion). Of course Aristotle's point was to say that 'to be angry over the right things, at the right time, with an appropriate measure of anger - that's wisdom'. Perhaps that's similar to what Paul was speaking about when he said in Ephesians 4:26 'In your anger do not sin'. And, just maybe praotes was what Jesus showed in Matthew 21:12 when he drove the money changers out of the temple for robbing the poor of the small gifts they had brought to honour God....

The central concept to this dialectic is a balanced and controlled relationship between power and powerlessness... So, it is not surprising to discover the the Greek word pruas was also used in ancient writings to explain the state of a 'domesticated' animal. In short, a wild horse is certainly powerful and beautiful, but it is not all that useful! However, a horse that has been tamed, domesticated (so to speak) is of immeasurable value. It's power and stamina can be harnessed to plow a field, to tow a cart, to pull out trees, and speed passengers to their destination.

I will confess that I am not the tamest of horses out there.... I tend to be a little wild, and I like to 'run free'. Being in a corporate environment is somewhat taxing... But, I am beginning to understand that unbridled passion and skill can frequently be ineffective without direction, focus, and discipline.

So, here I am, a domesticated horse in my stable (office)... I'm wearing my glasses to pretend that I am tame...

Perhaps Matthew 5:5 could be translated: Blessed is the person who has every instinct, every impulse, every passion, and every desire under God's loving control. Such a person shall inherit the earth.

Oh, and get a haircut hippie ;-)

1st generation Apple iPhone running the new 2.0 (3G) firmware in South Africa (and working on Vodacom AND MTN!)

First, off, huge props to Justin Hartman - I believe he is the very first person to have upgraded a first generation iPhone to the new 2.0 (3G) firmware in South Africa! Justin upgraded and unlocked his first generation iPhone and posted about it on his blog on the 21st of July.

I followed him by a week or so, I upgraded and unlocked my first generation iPhone (8Gig model, then at firmware 1.0.2) on Saturday the 26th of July '08. Let me say, right off the bat, that this was probably one of the EASIEST upgrades I have ever done! BUT, there are two complications (which I hope to describe and sort out below). Let me first explain the complications, and then I'll show you how to unlock your iPhone.

Complication number one is that the pwnage tool which I used can only run on the Apple Macintosh (version 2.1 can be downloaded here)... I believe that they are releasing a Windows version (that only runs on Windows XP), but it is not quite as slick and simple as the Mac version.... So, if you have an original iPhone and want to unlock is EASILY find a friend who has a Mac!

Complication number two is that once your iPhone is unlocked you may struggle to connect to the internet using the EDGE service if you have a prepaid Vodacom sim card, or a sim card from MTN, CellC or Virgin! DON'T PANIC! I found a way to *hack* that... But it does require a few 'extra skills' in the terminal, or at least a basic knowledge of FTP and a secure FTP client... I'll tell you how to fix this below.

1. Upgrading to firmware 2.0 and unlocking your 1st generation iPhone for use in South Africa.

I simply followed this simple tutorial (which has links to all of the files that you will need) and it took me about 20 minutes from start to finish to unlock my iPhone... Once again, thanks to Justin Hartman for the heads up.

Simply follow the steps carefully, don't interrupt the process, AND MAKE sure you install the Cydia package during your installation. You will need this to resolve the EDGE problem!!!! Please note the instructions in the tutorial about the boot manager (I stuck with my original boot manager), and also pay attention to ticking the 'unlock' box.

Once I had unlocked my iPhone, connected it to iTunes 7.7, it was up and running within seconds! I had my 'prepaid' Vodacom sim card in it (I had some preloaded data bundles to squash). I imediately noticed that I I could not connect to the internet using EDGE... My wifi on the iPhone worked fine!

2. How to solve the problem with EDGE not working on your upgraded iPhone.

When I tried to connect to the internet for mail, to browse the web using Safari, or the App store etc., I kept getting the message ?Could not activate cellular data network: You are not subscribed to a cellular data service? So, I thought 'OK, go into the Network settings and change the APN to 'internet' so that you can connect...' No such luck! Apple has removed the 'tab' that lets you adjust your cellular data internet settings! DON'T PANIC!!! I found a way to enable that again (which I will show you below).

So, I started searching for solutions on the internet. Now, let me say, the easiest solution by FAR is the one that Justin has in the comments on his post today (see Comment number 2) - in short, activate wifi on your iPhone, connect to your wireless access point, navigate to http://unlockit.co.nz, set up a custom APN (in the case of Vodacom it is 'internet'), generate the '.plist' file, download the configuration, install it, reboot your phone and you should be able to connect using your sim card (of course if you're an MTN or Cell C subscriber just enter the MTN or Cell C APN, and a username and password (if they're required) and viola - I have found, however, that with my MTN sim card I simply entered 'internet' in the APN field, left the password and username blank and it worked perfectly!)

Of course there is one HUGE problem with this solution... If you don't have wifi internet access you're stumped... Of course if you had a mac you could share your internet connection via wifi setting up your Macbook as an access point... But that's another tutorial (mail me if you want to know how...).

So, there is another solution, and I think this one is much better! In this solution you 'reactivate' the Cellular Data settings in the Network settings tab which means that you can change the APN, username and password etc., on your iPhone without needing an internet connection... Why is this important? Well for someone like me who flies overseas, when I buy a Vodafone sim card, or some obscure carrier in Israel, Malaysia, or the Ukraine, I can simply put the sim card in, update the APN and log in information on the fly and have my email, Microsoft exchange calendar and the rest up and running in a few seconds...

Right, so how do you re-enable the Cellular Data network settings?

1. Make sure you have installed OpenSSH on your iPhone.
2. Go to 'settings' on your iPhone and enable wifi. Set up a connection to your Macbook, or your wirless router, via wifi.
3. Once connected on the iPhone get your IP address (simply click on the blue arrow on your connected wifi connection on the iPhone and it will show you your IP address under DHCP).
4. Use cyberduck (or some other FTP client) to set up a secure SFTP connection to your iPhone's IP address. In my case the IP address was All 'vanilla' 2.0 iPhones have the following log in information (another bit of *hackery*) username: root password: alpine (I would suggest you change that at some stage BTW - spelling fixed 23 August 2008. Thanks for spotting this!). So, simply SFTP into your iphone using the root account.
5. It will take a few minutes to connect the first time around (your iPhone is generating security keys etc.). Reconnect when disconnected, it should indicate that the security key is unsigned... simply accept it.
6. Now, navigate to /var/mobile/Library/Carrier Bundle.Bundles/ In that folder you will find a file called 'carrier.plist' - if you know how to conver the file from binary to text and want to edit it yourself, drop me an email and I'll tell you where and what to change....
7. Back up your current 'carrier.plist'
8. Download my already converted and edited
carrier.plist file here, simply FTP my file onto your iPhone to /var/mobile/Library/Carrier Bundle.Bundles/
9. Once you've replaced the original file with my modded file, disconnect your SFTP connection and reboot your iPhone (i.e., Power it down and start it up again).

Now when you go to 'settings', 'General', 'Network', you'll see a new tab called 'Cellular Data' viola! You can edit your APN information from there!

I hope this helps!

By the way here are a few 'killer apps' on the new iPhone firmware (and Appstore):

  • Microsfot Exchange works!!! At last I can update my calendar, email, address book etc. from the office exchange server.
  • Location based software and mapping works (it uses cell towers to triangulate) - not 100% acurate, but it does work.
  • The App store works in South Africa! I have downloaded Twinkle for Twitter, the Google App, Facebook App, a Bible, some games etc. You can either download them directly on the iPhone, or connect via iTunes on your computer.
  • Visual voice mail works if you're using a Vodacom sim card.
  • The AIM instant messenger is also great (it allows me to chat to friends and family who are using iChat and AIM... I just wish there was a Skype or Fring client since most South Africans use Skype...)
On a final note, I get quite a few persons emailing me to ask if the iPhone is worth it... It sure is a handy and wonderful device! However, I need a reliable, business oriented phone for most of my work, so I still use my Nokia E90 as a primary phone. My iPhone has my work sim card in it to make and receive work calls. I use it as a great, handy, entertainment device (I listen to audiobooks and podcasts while driving, I update my twitter status and check facebook when I have a minute to spare) - but when I need to write an email, or do some work, I turn to the E90.

Who knows, when Vodacom release the 3G iPhone later this year I may be tempted to 'cross the floor', but for now, my first generation iPhone has a new lease on life, everything works and I'm loving it as a second device.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Churches and numbers... A political socialisation of the Church's agenda

I have been part of the 'mega-Church' mentality. Recently I have been significantly challenged on the Church growth mentality. The Church has come to believe that our success (if I can use that word) is measured by the number of people that we draw on a Sunday. We say that a BIG Church will have a big voice...

Think about this for a moment, isn't that exactly what politicians do? They count their influence and value with numbers! The bigger the political party, the more votes one has, the more effective and powerful one is.

However, if we think about persons such as Mother Theressa and St Francis of Assisi these were not persons of BIG compassion, BIG courage, BIG obedience... Not big numbers.

I need to think about this a bit more. However, I would love to hear what you think.

Of course I am not saying that we should simply settle for small Churches with NO effect! But, that we should be careful to measure our Churches by the wrong measurement standards!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It takes a village to....

Takes a village
Originally uploaded by merlinmann.

Indeed it does Mr Mann... A village indeed... Oh, and I believe it ALSO takes a village to raise a child... But that's a different picture ;-)

Conclusive proof that Benny Hinn performed a 'miracle' according to experts - Hayibo!

A friend tweeted the following story today. It comes from hayibo.com (hayibo is an African word that exclaims surprise, disbelief, and shock).

If ever you were sceptical that Benny Hinn (well known for his hairdo, lovingly called a Hinn-doo) cannot perform miracles, then here's some conclusive, expert, proof!

Benny Hinn performed miracle in Johannesburg say experts

JOHANNESBURG. Religious and scientific experts say there is strong evidence that American televangelist Benny Hinn performed a "genuine verifiable miracle" in Johannesburg on the weekend. According to the experts, Hinn and his colleagues made thousands of dollars disappear from the bank accounts of worshipers, before making the money reappear in offshore accounts.

Hinn's followers say there is nothing supernatural about the movement of funds from South African to American banks, but veteran observers of paranormal events are adamant that a verifiable miraculous event took place.

The miracle was widely publicized over the weekend by News24.com, which reported that Pastor Todd Koontz, one of Hinn's on-stage colleagues, told worshippers that God would turn them into millionaires or billionaires within twenty-four hours if they donated $1,000 by credit card.

According to News24.com, hundreds of worshipers mobbed the stage with their credit cards after Koontz told them that the window of opportunity for the blessing was only two minutes.

This morning investigators from the Vatican, as well as representatives of the scientific community, agreed that a miracle had taken place.

"A fool and his money are easily parted, but this was something special," said head investigator, Cardinal Dante Purgatorio.

Psychologist Gunter Glibb agreed.

"To make that many adults behave in such a profoundly silly manner, to hand over thousands in return for a 120-second shot at being written a cheque by some sort of imaginary heavenly cashier ? something more than idiocy, ignorance, naivety and greed was at work here."

The South African organizers of the weekend's gathering could not be reached for comment on the alleged miracle, but hotel staff said that they had last been seen checking out in the early hours of Sunday morning, "giving each other high-fives and lighting cigars with smoldering R200 notes".

Meanwhile journalists at all of South Africa's major media stables are eagerly waiting to hear from any person who became a millionaire or billionaire twenty-four hours after making their donation to Hinn's Miracle Crusade.

According to a leading Johannesburg editor, three worshipers have come forward so far.

"The first two were a couple who got an email from the widow of a Nigerian prince, promising them $200 million if they sent a $500 administration fee," he said.

"Ag shame, they were pretty stoked, and they'd already sent the money, so we didn't say anything."

He said the third had been a Ms Frillypanties Mazakadza, who said she had been given $600 million at work the day after attending the Crusade.

However it was quickly established that this had been a tip at the Harare coffee shop where she works as a waitress.

It pains me that true Christ followers should be lumped in the same boat as people like this...

For those of us who feel, and act, differently to this person. Let us work to display the true healing and transformative power of Christ in the world. Let us feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and spread Christ's love, acceptance, and forgivness through simple acts of sacrifice and witness.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Watching the Rugby in style! Go Bokke

Yesterday we watched Rugby in style!

Pity we lost to the Ausies.

Great to be at Dawie and Isebel's place.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A lovely afternoon in Kalk bay Harbour

Lovely scenery, good company, and a few minutes to relax. Kalk Bay harbour, Cape Town.

Just a gentle little reminder.... Books and more books, and all for a great price!

Yes, I know that this is selfish promotion! But, I'm doing it for the kids... My kids that is! Braces, school fees, food, college fund... ha ha!

Just a gentle little remind that all of my books are for sale! However, they are ALSO for free!! You can download copies of all of my books for FREE here.

But, if you want actual paper copies (aaaahhhh nice to hold, nice to read... ;-) then check out the links below.

    Please click HERE to order my books (or, see the links below). E-Book versions can be purchased at a reduced price from Mobipocket.com (simply follow the link).

A rocker is born! Baby superstar with a Mullet second to none!

A few years ago when I was in London I went to the Disney shop and bought my daughter, Courtney, a 'High school musical' microphone. It plays two of the songs from the show, and you can sing along.

Liam absolutely LOVES the Mic!!!!

However, don't you absolutely LOVE Liam's Mullet!? I think it is so cool! It scores at least an 8 on http://www.ratemymullet.com

Well done boy! Dad is proud of you!

Getting ready to watch the Boks play the Ausies in a few hours. Then I am taking a visitor from New Zealand for a drive around the Cape peninsula (Simonstown, Cape Point, Table Mountain etc. etc.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sunset at Strand beach - a ride on my BMW 650GS

All I can say is that it is great to live in the Cape, and it's great great to be back on my bike. My fast is over... So a Kentucky twister at sunset will be just fine!

Lost enthusiasm... When Methodists used to be called 'enthusiasts'

For the past three years or so I have been doing a little show on Radio Pulpit called 'The ministry and me'. As I've looked back through the topics I've spoken of I am able to see where my own theological leanings are located. I have spoken most frequently of my belief that the core of the Gospel is to establish the Kingdom of God. This was the mission of Jesus Christ (Luke 4:34), and so it should also be the mission of the Church and the response of every sincere Christian disciple. When Jesus speaks of this mission he quotes from the Prophet Isaiah. Jesus himself sees the work of establishing the Kingdom as the work of mercy, justice, generosity, and grace (Luke 4:18-19).

The second most frequently presented topic, which is closely related to the first, is that of passion, enthusiasm, and courage! I have tried my best to encourage ministers and servants of Christ to do their very best to not only do the work of establishing the Kingdom of God, but to do so with passion, excitement, commitment and courage!

My experience is that persons are most frequently persuaded by passion and commitment, rather than learning and facts.

I'm not sure how many know that Methodists were once known as part of a collective called the 'enthusiasts'? In 'A History of Christian Theology: An Introduction' By William Carl Placher I found the little piece of amusing wisdom... Enthusiasts were known for seeing visions, hearing voices and crying out in revival services... Others regarded enthusiasts as those who went to Church too frequently or read their Bibles too often! Ha ha! How the contemporary understanding of the word enthusiasm has changed! In those early years enthusiasm was considered a bad thing....

Today I would venture that the opposite is true... Somehow the contemporary Church lacks a measure of enthusiasm. Contemporary Christians lack enthusiasm for the things that matter... Well, this was just a thought!

"Keep justice, and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come, and My righteousness to be revealed." Isaiah 56:1

Happy birthday Mr President! Nelson Mandela is my 'bag' baby!

Today Nelson Mandela turns 90! Happy birthday Mr President! We thank God for your courage and integrity.

Nelson Mandela is my 'bag' (holder) baby.... This is a picture of Gus and Heather's 'plastic bag holder'. Viva Madiba, viva!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Seeing the Kingdom of God in imperfect form...

I am something of a perfectionist... Well to be honest I am an idealistic perfectionist!  I often don't do things if I don't think they'll work as they should.  I will hold back on decisions or actions if I think that they may not be perfect.

Today I sat with a friend in my office.  He is a minister of a struggling Church here in Cape Town.  He shared with great passion his love for his people, and his commitment to his ministry.  Yet, the truth is that not everything is perfect.  After he left I thought quite a bit about imperfect Churches...  And imperfect Christians (like myself).  

I know that excellence in ministry is a high ideal!  It is to be praised and celebrated where it can be found.  But maybe, just perhaps, God does not need perfection to work!?  Well, that's no maybe!  God can work through imperfection!

This little quite inspired me.

People must not only hear about the kingdom of God, but must see it in actual operation, on a small scale perhaps and in imperfect form, but a real demonstration nevertheless.

Pandita Ramabai Indian Christian and reformer

I guess the point is that one should strive for perfection, but act anyway, because God may just use imperfection to display God's gracious Kingdom.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

An incorruptible seed - some Kenyan wisdom

Jesus sowed his seed in our hearts, then off he went.... He knew things would not be ideal. There were the birds and the droughts, the weeds and the insects, the parasites and the blights. But there was also the power of the seed itself.

Joseph G. Donders teacher and chaplain at the University of Nairobi, Kenya

A view of the Helderberg Mountain from my daughter's school

As the title says.... Heck I love living in Somerset West! Another winter's day.

Have a great one!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rethinking Asimov's 3 laws of robotics - clever machines in a not so clever world.

I love science fiction! I particularly love it when it bears some close semblance to reality (or a possible reality). Isaac Asimov's 3 laws of robotics have been the basis for much contemporary entertainment (the Matrix, I Robot, and HAL 2000 and AI are but a few of the movies that have draw upon his superb thesis on robotics and sentience).

The original laws stated:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Sensible stuff... Well, here's something that is quite hilarious! If one watches just one or two episodes of Stark Trek you can see why there was a need to update Asimov's laws! Clearly no self respecting robot would be seen dead (or alive) acting in accordance with the 3 original simplistic laws!

Huh, looks like Isaac Asimov's 3 laws of robotics have been expanded tenfold by the thoughtful Something Awful guys:
# A robot must tip its hat in the presence of a lady human being, except where such a display would be construed as a come-on by a jealous male human being, who then might pose a difficulty to the Third Law.

# A robot may not act in such a fashion as would make dogs obsolete, because dogs are less expensive than robots, and robots should be reserved for science things.

# A robot, when given contradictory orders by two human beings, and assuming those orders do not violate the First Law, must decide which order to follow based on which human being has a deeper voice.

# A robot, specifically a big, wide robot, may not pretend to be a refrigerator and then make a scary noise when a human being opens it.

Asimov's 30 Laws of Robotics [ somethingawful.com, thanks Coop ] from boingboing.net

The science of becoming batman - how to become a superhero without any superpowers.

I would venture a guess (without wanting to offend any of my friends and readers) that most of us fall into the same 'mediocre' level of natural human development. Other than Angus, Wessel, and Gus I don't know any superheroes.... And then, Gus is only special because he has a supernatural love, Pete is a superhero because he's kind, caring and courageous, and Wessel... Well, he was first in line when they gave out brains.

As for me... well, no superpower that I can detect (although my daughter does thing I am great! In spite of the fact that I 'walk funny' - perhaps it is my 'bionic leg' that makes me special!? For more about that simply search this site for 'motorbike' and 'accident')...

But, here's the kicker! Did you know that you could (possibly) become a superhero just by doing a few special exercises!? Well, that's what the author of this new books suggests.

If I were to be a superhero I would ask that I get a costume that was not too tight (otherwise I would have to stay in shape just to wear it), Oh, and I would ask that I can wear my underpants under my pants (i.e., UNDER pants... ) not like Superman, Batman and a host of other so called 'super' heros... Not so super when you can't figure out how to wear your underpants, now are you!?

E. Paul Zehr has a book coming out in October called Becoming Batman: The Possibility of A Superhero, about the physical and mental training one would need to become a superhero without any supernatural powers. Zehr, a professor of kinesiology and neuroscience at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, is also a karate expert. Over at Scientific American, JR Minkel interviews Zehr about how one might train as the Dark Knight. From SciAm:
Batmanzehrrrr What's most plausible about portrayals of Batman's skills?You could train somebody to be a tremendous athlete and to have a significant martial arts background, and also to use some of the gear that he has, which requires a lot of physical prowess. Most of what you see there is feasible to the extent that somebody could be trained to that extreme. We're seeing that kind of thing in less than a month in the Olympics.

What's less realistic?A great example is in the movies where Batman is fighting multiple opponents and all of a sudden he's taking on 10 people. If you just estimate how fast somebody could punch and kick, and how many times you could hit one person in a second, you wind up with numbers like five or six. This doesn't mean you could fight four or five people. But it's also hard for four or five people to simultaneously attack somebody, because they get in each other's way. More realistic is a couple of attackers.
Batman and science (Scientific American), Pre-order Becoming Batman (Amazon)

The launch of CVC media - A fresh approach to Christian Media

Today I had the incredible joy of attending the launch of CVC media in Durbanville (UPDATE, Roger - the link I found is for 1Africa.tv, and the CVC staff picked up on my post and sent me the link to CVC Media's main page).

I was impressed by their HUGE vision (to reach 1 billion people with the Gospel through new media)! They're already a long way towards that goal. Moreover, their fresh approach, and attention to excellence was magnificent to see. These people get it!

In order to effectively share the gospel one needs to add value (so, here in Africa they have schools, farms, clinics etc.) and have a broad based approach (short wave radio, internet streaming, satellite audio and video, and FM stations). Their content is also fantastic, aiming at a younger demographic through care, excellence, and relational follow up through email, text messages and social networking. They have thought of everything. Their approach seems to be more than just a 'hit and run' media venture.

I am impressed! I can see them making a huge impact across the world (they have stations on every continent). Speaking in this picture is Bob Edmundson (not sure of the spelling), a Christian businessman from the UK - his speach was energetic and challenging. He is the primary funder.

I have the joy of knowing Oliver Raper who is the manager for Southern Africa, and Jonathan Haller who was my Program Director at RadioPulpit in Pretoria and is now the program director at CVC / 1Africa. Keep your eyes on these folks! They are going to do great things!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A fantastic weekend in Mosselbay!

Life can be pretty busy in 'Forsterdom' (as Janet so aptly describes our clan)! Between family responsibilities, Church and ministry commitments, and of course work we are always on the go!

This weekend, however, our good friends Cois and Corne invited us to their place in Mosselbay (Diaz strand to be exact). What a fantastic weekend we've had! Cois and Corne, who are also in ministry, realy know how to kick back! We lazed, relaxed, chatted, watched DVD's, surfed the web, and swam in the heated pools. Of course the Springbok victory over the All Black was a cherry on top!

I haven't felt this relaxed in ages!

Good friends, good times!

Cois and I spent a lot of time talking about our various faith traditions and theological perspectives. Cois was an AFM pastor, and of course I am a Methodist. Cois has three degrees (two in theology and one in psychology). He is a deep thinker with a sharp theological mind! Their perspective on life and ministry is challenging and refreshing. I find it an inspiration! I look forward to being challenged to grow in new ways as our friendship develops in the years to come. Of course I also hope to share some of my passion for social justice and the depth of our historical spiritual heritage with him.

Now, however, we're on our way back to Somerset West. The kids are sleeping. Courtney starts school tomorrow. Megie's client load is at full capacity! So she will be busy. I've also got quite a lot on my plate! Please pray for me as I continue to settle into my new post - I am struggling to fin the time and space to write.

More evidence... Giving away your books for free sells more copies

After reading Cory Doctorow's book 'Little Brother' (see the link from boingboing), I was convinced by his argument that there is both virtue and profit in giving away one's books. So, as you may recall, I put all my books on the web for free download.

I am pleased to report that since I've been giving away my books for free there have been two extremely valuable reactions. First, more people are reading what I write, and so I have had some wonderful conversations, been challenged, inspired, and met many likeminded people. Second, I have sold many more copies of my books than I thought I would.

But, here's more evidence that giving your books away for free increases circulation and sales.

Neil Gaiman and his publisher have published the results of their free online release of his novel American Gods earlier this year -- the conclusion? Giving away ebooks for free sold books: The Indies [ie. independent booksellers -- Neil] are the only sales channel where we have confidence that incremental sales were driven by this promotion. In the Bookscan data reported for Independents we see a marked increase in weekly sales across all of Neil?s books, not just American Gods during the time of the contest and promotion. Following the promotion, sales returned to pre-promotion levels.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The ABC's of New Media... How much of a Geek are you!?

Janet sent me this ABC chart of new media and technology... I am HAPPY to say that I can list EVERY single one of the letters of the Alphabet by its corresponding technology! ha ha! How many can you list?

PS. Having an incredibly relaxed weekend in Mosselbay with our friends Cois and Corne.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Here's a challenge for Pretoria weather... Zeta park se *&%

My friend Wessel posted a great picture of his son playing at one of my favourite places in the Pretoria area, Zeta Park. I remember spending quite a few winters days there lying on a blanked trying to get some reading done for my then incomplete doctorate while little Courtney played on the slides, jungle gyms and swings... Wessel is quite right. Pretoria does truly have the BEST weather out there! See Wessel's post here for more details: http://wesselsplace.blogspot.com/2008/07/fun-at-zita-park-and-update-on-bertie.html


Wes, this is my hangout... It's a little bit sandy, and it can be a bit wet... There are no swings or jungle gyms... BUT, it is Cape Town ;-)

I miss you my friend! Blessings,


Liam on the beach.

Courtney, my beach princess (Heck, she is growing up WAY too fast!)

That's me in the nappy... Not really, it's Liam and Megie. Oh and Charlene, here are some more photos of the kiddies!

Sometimes we forget...

My students used to get tired of me reminding them that our task is not only to help persons to find forgiveness from their personal sins, but also to the whole cosmos to be liberated from structural sin...

Here's a reminder again:

Sin and evil are concretely expressed not only in individuals, but also in structures.

Tito Paredes
director of Centro Evangelico Missiologico Andino Amazonico

What a twitter feed would look like during 'dawn of the dead' (other Zombie movies are available ;-)

I thought this was quite funny! What do you think a twitter feed would look like during a Zombie attack (and YES, of course they..... do exist (not really, but who cares... Dawn of the dead was hilarious!)) Click this image to enlarge it.

Oh, and follow me on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/digitaldion

Reasons to be thankful!

I have many reasons to give thanks... Here are just two of them. Charlene and I chatted today and she asked me to post a photo or two of Courtney and Liam to the blog... Well, here are my darlings. They are both doing so well in our new surroundings.

Please continue to pray for our family!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

This does not please God!

Today I am teaching a half day class on 'new media' at Media Village in Kalk bay. The drive there from Somerset West takes one along some of the most spectacu;ar scenery in the world! The ocean and the dunes are truly a sight to behold. Today is a cold, wet, stormy day in the Cape.

As lovely as bature is, so depraved is human nature along this route! This picture shows a sea of impoverished humanity living in shacks made of thrown away cardboard, sheet metal and plastic. I can only imagine the suffering - no warmth, no food, no medicine, no electricity, no sanitation.

God is not pleased by this!

When people ask me why I gave up the aclaim of my teaching post to do the work I do now I need only show them this photograph of Khayelitsha (a Xhosa word meaning 'our new home'). Yesterday I chaired a meeting where we solicited a substantial sum of money (well over a million rand) for this community. The money will be used to create jobs, feed people, offer basic medical care and education. I believe God is pleased with that! That is the work of ministry - establishing justice, equity, and suffieciency through generosity and grace!

Please pray for them, and for me.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A lovely service in Paarl - what I miss about preaching

Megan, Courtney, Liam and I have found a wonderful home at Coronation Ave Methodist Church here in Somerset West. I appreciate our Pastors Philip Buckland and Steven Lottering - I am always encouraged and uplifted by the services they lead.

This morning, however, I preached at the Paarl Methodist Church at the invitation of my friend Angus Kelly - see http://www.gruntle.co.za it was fantastic to be there! I left Somerset West in the dark, and arrived in Paarl in the heave Cape rain! But, it was wonderful! Angus and Heather are blessed with a wonderful congreagation who are hoapitable, welcoming, involved in their Church, and wonderful to worship with.

I realised just how much I miss regular preaching (like I used to do at Bryanston Methodist Church most weeks). I am over the 'numbers' thing. I have served in enough large Churches to know that it is not the size of the congregation that counts, but their sincerity and love for our Lord. Bryanston was blessed with both (numbers and sincere love).

Sure I have been preaching and speaking somewhere every week in the last 3 months... But, there is someting very special about jouneying with a group of people that you know and love. At Bryanston I would think of the people I know, those whom I had visited in their homes (and even some in their places of work), seen in hospital, prayed with, and sought God's direction, help, and wisdom for - that 'Pastoral' background made the messages so much more meaningful. There is a depth to the Gospel that comes to the fore when it is birthed in a real world pastoral context.

That's what I miss... Getting to know people, and searching for God's words of challenge and encouragement for their lives (and mine)... There was an intensity and a depth to my preparation, I longed to hear what God would have me say to them, and then I would enjoy weaving together words and concepts, parables and pictures that would inspire, encourage, challenge, and even rebuke.

I miss that weekly discipline!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

iPhone 3G mania in New York... You couldn't make this stuff up!

Yup, I would CERTAINLY join this line! It's worth a week's leave ;-)

You couldn't make this stuff up and it could only happen in New York but engadget is reporting that a line has already started outside the Fifth Avenue Apple Store. The iPhone 3G won't go on sale for a week but there is photo documented proof that at least 10 people are already in line to guarantee they can pick up the new iPhone next week. We haven't heard any word on lines forming near podcast co-host Matt Miller's home in Washington but no one's heard from him for a few days. He usually waits until the night before to camp out for an iPhone though.


Well done guys! You've earned your 'Apple credentials' - the Lord is reserving a special place for you in heaven! As an aside, I can almost guarantee that most of these people are assistants and interns for people like Leo Laporte and Kevin Rose....

WP jou lekka ding!

Western Province Rugby... Whether we win or loose against the Cheetahs today does not truly matter in the big scheme of things... As Thomas Aquinas used to say 'quid ad eternitatum?' [what is it in the face of eternity?]

Victory is not a measure greatnes when you're God's own Rugby team!! ;-)

Today I am going to Newlands in Cape Town again to watch Western Province play the Cheetahs... My father in law (and in love), my daughter, and my friend Pete Grassow - http://rockinthegrass.blogspot.com - are coming along, and today we have the privelage of being in 'the Box'!

update: The outcome of the game was a score of 9 to Western Province and 3 for the Cheetahs. Not the most exciting match in the world (that was last week against the Bulls!), but it was great to be there! Courtney, Pete and my dad enjoyed the box - good food and a good red wine!

Good advice from Merlin Mann... Don not handle your firearm in the restroom...

Thank you, Merlin, for snapping a picture of that sign.
Originally uploaded by Carla216.

Yes, I found this photo from one of my contacts, Merlin Mann (of 43folders fame and youlooknicetoday)....

I never wear my firearm to the restroom... Particularly NOT when I am dressed as a stormtrooper.

How about you?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Why James Fowler was correct, and Holiday Club IS the mystery of the Trinity

James Fowler, then developmental psychologist and theologian said that 'the Christian faith is caught not taught'. He is absolutely correct!

My daughter has been attending a youth holiday club at our local Methodist Church (Coronation Ave Methodist Church). It is a Horton hears a who? themed holiday club. She has loved the week!

This evening the parents were invited to come ans see some of what they've done. Here I was reminded that it is the relational aspect of the club that most attracted her, and that helped her to grasp the message that 'no matter how small a person is, they're special and valuable, and loved by God'.

Of course this was also the central message of Church fathers such as Tertullian and Augustine, and the scholastic theologians (most noteably Thomas Aquinas)... The mystery of the Trinity (a loving relationship of three persons) is also the mystery of the fullness of all life - loving relationships between persons and other persons, and loving relationships between all persons and God!

This love cannot be taught... It must be caught! John, perhaps I need to revise my eclesiology! The community of the Church IS important!

Christ's love, and our responsibility, for the world (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Another great quote from Sojourners!

This love of God for the world does not withdraw from a reality into noble souls detached from the world, but experiences and suffers the reality of the world in the harshest possible fashion. The world takes out its rage on the body of Jesus Christ. But he, tormented, forgives the world its sins. Thus does reconciliation come about.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Meditations on the Cross

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

It's about time! Perhaps we should START treating Bush like a Terrorist?

Some years ago I was almost denied a visa to go to America because I had some instances on my 'criminal' record that related to run ins with the South African Apartheid police (before the end of Apartheid of course). Nothing serious, just a few minor instances of being with a certain Bishop and some colleagues at certain political rallies and funerals in the late 80's and early 90's... That, coupled with the fact that I had been conscripted in the South African defense force (and so was supposedly trained for war and terror), AND had written a paper on the 'Just war theory' (by Aquinas, Grotius, and Pufendorf... Yes that is actually his name... Pufendorf...) while at Stellenbosch University almost stopped me from getting into the USA! Thankfully, the person who conducted the second interview was quite sensible, willing to listen, and understanding.

However, this report left a smile on my face.... I wondered if George Bush should not have a travel ban placed upon him? After all, the world has become much more dangerous since he started waging his war OF terror.... Sorry, that should read war ON terror...

Good for you Mr Mandela. Now that you're getting too old to want to travel you can go everywhere they never let you go when you were young enough to need to go there....

George Bush has signed a special bill that allows Nelson Mandela to travel freely to the USA without going through a special process because the DHS classes him as a "terrorist." Nelson C. adds, "Now, if only people who aren't world leaders could get off watch-lists so easily...."
A US senator said the new legislation was a step towards removing the "shame of dishonouring this great leader".

Under the legislation, members of the ANC could travel to the United Nations headquarters in New York but not to Washington DC or other parts of the United States.

Link (Thanks, NelsonC!)

See also: Nelson Mandela and the ANC are on the US terrorist watchlist and need waivers to enter the country

What's the most frequently played music / song at an Australian funeral?

This is a strange one! Have you ever considered what the most frequently played song (or music) is at funerals in your local Church? Among us Methodists it must surely be 'Jerusalem iKhaya lam' (A Xhosa song, Jerusalem is our home in which Jerusalem refers to Heaven). Or perhaps amongst English congregants it is something like Abide with me?

Well here's a STRANGE report from Australia. It not only reflects a rather weird taste in music... It also reflects the fact that even in death the Church in Australia no longer plays an important part (see the section I listed in bold below). We need to take care that we don't go the same way here in South Africa!

A large cemetery and crematorium in Adelaide, Australia reports that Frank Sinatra's "My Way" has become the most-played funeral song. Second on the charts is "Wonderful World" sung by Louis Armstrong. Only two traditional Christian hymns are in the top 10. From the Associated Press:
"Some of the more unusual songs we hear actually work very well within the service because they represent the person's character," Centennial Park chief executive Bryan Elliott said.

Among other less conventional choices were "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" by the Monty Python comedy team, "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead," "Hit the Road Jack," "Another One Bites the Dust" and "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead."
Funeral songs (Yahoo!)

The self destruction of the African National Congress (ANC), and the political power of Baptism

Megie and I are baby sitting a friend's little boy. As Megie was bathing Liam I watched the SABC 3 with this cute little 8 month old asleep on my lap.

I was horified to see the reports of another act of thuggery by ANC members. An ANC organizer was stabbed several times by suspended members, who then cut the tires on his car to stop him from getting to the hospital. This just a few days after the ANC Youth League President suggested that his members would take up arms and shed blood to protect ANC party President who is facing charges of massive corruption. The news report indicated that this was the third stabbing of this nature in recent weeks within the ANC.

What the heck is going wrong with this party that was once the champion of justice and human rights? It would seem that thugs and thieves are threatening the good name of the ANC - a scary thought for those of us who will live under the party's rule in decades to come...

As I've mentioned on more than one ocassion in this forum, I have been a long time supporter or the ANC, never having voted for any other in either a ward or a national election. The party will however have to do a lot of damage control to win my vote this time around! I think there may be others who share my reserve and change of heart.

Today as I was driving between meetings I was listening to one of my favourite audio books (I know some people call it reading, I still think it is just listening) - 'A generous orthodoxy' by Brian Mclaren. In chapter two he reminds me why I so love the work of John Howard Yoder, the Mennonite (Anabaptist) theological ethicist. Yoder proposes that Christians must follow the ethics of Jesus, not just accept his beliefs (doctrine), but that we must work, non-violently, for the Kingdom community of Chirst to be established here on earth. In this Kingdom of peace, God's loving, gracious, and hospitable love welcomes all who will come. In the process of drawing near to God the person and the community is healed (literally made whole).

I was challenged tonight on two points. On my lap was an 8 month old child - his future is my responsibility. I take the promises of the baptismal service seriously! It is my responsibility to create a community in which this child, and all other children, can grow the know God's love and experience the joy of God's gift of life. I think that we have often thought that the promises relate to the kind of community that we would create within the Church building. How stupid is that!? Are we truly so misguided that we think God cares more about what happens in 'that' building that is occupied by 'those' people for 'those' 3 hours on one day of the week!? Heck no! The promise is to extend God's grace into the community so that the water from the font flows into the streets! That promise is fundamentally a political choice - it is intended to change the world, not restructure the Church! It means that I will pray about who I vote for, that I will hold the elected officials accountable, and that I will expect nothing but the very best for the future of my children! It means that I will make sacrifices to bring about God honouring, Kingdom establishing, changes in my local community and the nation state. For some of us it means that we will stick around in South Africa, even though we have choices to leave. It means that we will do everything in our power to convince others to embark on the 'revolution of hope'! I believe in redemption, not just an overly spiritualised redemption of the individual human soul. No, I believe that God wishes to redeem the whole of creation. Every person, every family, every town, every city, every province, every nation, every continent, the whole world (and more). God's love for the world is lavish!

This lead me to my second thought... If we took this notion seriously (us 79% of the South African population who indicated that we're Christians in the last census) then things should be getting better! If we're not just playing games with God, blowing God off with a few easy words, mouthed as part of a liturgy (as if God doesn't hear, and even if God does hear, who cares whether we take God seriously or not....) The promise means something! It means something to God, and it MUST mean something to us. Each generation that follow should experience greater blessing, more peac, deeper harmony, and fuller provision than the last....

Something's wrong with this picture. Perhaps the party must self destruct... It seems to have lost its way. What is sure is that it has lost me.

However, I wonder about the Church... Sometimes I fear that the Church is loosing me too. Perhaps I'm too wild and it is too tame?

What's the relationship between the Gospel of Christ and Social justice?

This quote came into my inbox this morning.  I thought it was so clear and simple - so, I decided to post it here!  What encouraged me is that it comes from the international director of John Stott Ministries...  I have some reading to do!

It is not a matter of engaging in both the gospel and social action, as if Christian social action was something separate from the gospel itself. The gospel has to be demonstrated in word and deed. Biblically, the gospel includes the totality of all that is good news from God for all that is bad news in human life?in every sphere. So like Jesus, authentic Christian mission has included good news for the poor, compassion for the sick and suffering justice for the oppressed, liberation for the enslaved. The gospel of the Servant of God in the power of the Spirit of God addresses every area of human need and every area that has been broken and twisted by sin and evil. And the heart of the gospel, in all of these areas, is the cross of Christ. 

Christopher J. H. Wright
International director of John Stott Ministries (from Knowing the Holy Spirit Throught the Old Testament)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The dangers of Auto-replace...

The story below got me thinking... How often do I 'default' to a position on some issue or another without giving it any thought? I fear that there are times when I don't even consider what is at stake, I simply make up my mind because I believe something to be this way and not that way...

Anyway, this must have been a rather embarrassing mistake for the onenewsnow network. It made me chuckle!


The funny people who run the American Family Association?s OneNewsNow site are so frightened of gays that they've set up a filter to change every instance of the word "gay" to "homosexual."

And while they may have fixed this particular instance, it looks like they haven't gone back through their archives and corrected other articles where this happened, such as this article where professional basketball player Rudy Gay is referred to as "Rudy Homosexual."
The Dangers of Auto-Replace

Where the Hell is Matt (Harding)!?

This is just about silly enough for me to get truly excited about it!

Gus, this guy just might have to be invited to blow his shophar in our small tent revival tour in 2010!? Whadaya thunk? This Sunday I'll be dancing the 'funky chicken' at a service near you (in fact it will be at the Paarl Methodist Church where I'm preaching thanks to Gus!)

Matthew Harding spent 14 months visiting 42 countries in order to produce "Where the Hell is Matt?", a four-and-a-half minute video featuring Harding (and anyone else he could rope into it) doing an incredibly silly, high-energy dance in some of the most breathtaking scenery around the world. This may be the best four minutes and twenty-eight seconds of your week.
Matt is a 31-year-old deadbeat from Connecticut who used to think that all he ever wanted to do in life was make and play videogames. Matt achieved this goal pretty early and enjoyed it for a while, but eventually realized there might be other stuff he was missing out on. In February of 2003, he quit his job in Brisbane, Australia and used the money he'd saved to wander around Asia until it ran out. He made this site so he could keep his family and friends updated about where he is.

A few months into his trip, a travel buddy gave Matt an idea. They were standing around taking pictures in Hanoi, and his friend said "Hey, why don't you stand over there and do that dance. I'll record it." He was referring to a particular dance Matt does. It's actually the only dance Matt does. He does it badly. Anyway, this turned out to be a very good idea.

A couple years later, someone found the video online and passed it to someone else, who passed it to someone else, and so on. Now Matt is quasi-famous as "That guy who dances on the internet. No, not that guy. The other one. No, not him either. I'll send you the link. It's funny."

The response to the first video brought Matt to the attention of the nice people at Stride gum. They asked Matt if he'd be interested in taking another trip around the world to make a new video. Matt asked if they'd be paying for it. They said yes. Matt thought this sounded like another very good idea.

Link to video, Link to Where the Hell is Matt site

On my daily commute...

I am an extrovert... Those of you who know me, know that I love people! I am energized by crowds! I look forward to going into busy places and meeting people that I have never met before. I get excited about establishing new contacts. And, when I am in a meeting I swap business cards like it's a game of blackjack! People, people, people... I love people.

However, something strange has started to happen in the last few months. I have found the need for 'space' and 'quite' to be growing within me. I've been trying to work out what has caused this and I can't quite put my finger on it.

I have guessed that my accident may have something to do with it. Since the accident some months ago I have been so acutely aware of my own frailty and immortality. Also, the recovery has forced me to move a little slower (which I do find frustrating), and to recognise my need of others to get things done (even simple things, like carrying my backpack up the stairs to my office)...

I have also considered that my move into my new post has caused me to become a little more introspective. The move into this post has been exciting, high paced, varied in nature, and yet also somewhat unsettling. For the first time in many years I have had to 're-learn' and 'un-learn' skills that I thought I had mastered. I now sit in a meeting and realise that I am not an 'expert' on the subjects at hand (ministers often have the luxury of being the most theologically astute among their lay counterparts - so we learn to speak as if we have the answers. It is a weakness, I confess!) Here, in these meetings, my value is measured in very concrete terms - how well I can organise things, how precise and meticulous my ideas and plans are, and what I have managed to achieve towards the given objectives at hand.

Naturally such changes do cause one to have to retreat into one's self to rediscover who one truly is. You may recal, dear reader, that for more than a year I have been working through the challenge that my friend Alan Storey gave me when he said "Who are you when you are not..." In truth, I have had to try and discover - who am I when I am not a minister, when I am not a person with a PhD, when I am not an expert, when I am not... Who am I?

Finding answers to these questions takes some time. I don't think I have yet come close to understanding the complexity of my own identity, let alone the context withing which I now function.

So, ever morning when I get into my car to make the 25 minute commute to my office - a route that takes me along some beautful coastline and through some lovely mountains - I get quiet. I enjoy the silence. I ask God to be with me. I don't ask God to speak to me, just to be with me. And, it feels good!

I have come to enjoy those few minutes each day. Perhaps I am changing?