Saturday, April 26, 2008

Matthew goes to Scottburgh

Matthew, Thealise and Betty left for Durban on Thursday evening. Thealize and Betty have never flown before and that left Matthew as the only experienced air-traveler in this party.

I must admit, it was quite nerve-wrecking letting these three go through the boarding gates, knowing that now there was no turning back. Betty can barely read, so this exercise was especially stressful for her. But instead of Betty going along to help the kids, Matthew took charge at the airport and told them exactly where to go, where to sit, how to put their safety belts on, where to get the suitcases... He was an absolute star!

They will be flying back next Friday. Then I'll stress again until I can see them walking through the "arrivals" gates, but for now, I'm getting to know our other son a bit better. What a charmer!

Friday, April 25, 2008


Our church secretaries informed me that some Eskom technicians arrived at the church yesterday. They told the secretaries that the church's electricity meter wasn't functioning and that it needed to be replaced. Their words were not cold when wonder above wonder the electricity came back on. Surprisingly our meter also started working. They left without greeting.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Lecture on the Truth and the Word of God

We spent this weekend with the good folk at Randpark Ridge United Church. They put together a series on the Bible with an excellent exhibition in the church. The hospitality of this congregation is unbelievable and I would encourage anyone looking for a welcoming community in Johannesburg to give this congregation a visit. Below is a picture of the staff at RRU Church. From the left is Rev. Quentin Smith, Rev. Les Green and in front is Pastor Brendan Asch.

My good friend, Dr. Neill Oosthuizen, gave a talk on the Old Testament earlier during the week, a lecture that was received very well.

Here's an action shot of me giving the talk on the Truth and the Word of God. This lecture was based on the chapter in Dion and my book soon to be published, entitled "What are we thinking?". Now, many people knock us academics by asking "How many people have ever come to faith as a result of a lecture?". Well, I'm pleased to say, at least one. An elderly lady came to me after the lecture and told me that her friend felt God speaking to her during the talk and that she has returned to faith. God can truly make good what we do badly! Praise the Lord!

On Sunday I led all three services. I think I'll stick to lecturing.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bon appetite!

Freshly chopped basil. Garlic. Fried aubergine. Chopped Roma tomatoes. Balsamic vinegar. Red wine. A symphony of flavours. An opera of smell.
There is only one person who can make Penne Rigate with sweet tomatoes, aubergine and mozzerella. Me. Okay, and Jamie Oliver.

But what a wonderful feeling when the boys are quiet and my wife walks into the kitchen speaking Italian (not swearing, because I know those words and phrases).

Bon appetite!

ps. For the recipe, buy Jamie Oliver's "Jamies dinners". It's a winner!

Thank you for the support.

Bottling-up one's emotions and feelings is not a wise thing to do. There are a few places where I dare vent some feelings and thoughts, one of these places is this blogspot. For this reason, please do not take this blog too seriously. In the process of venting, the feelings portrayed come across as more intense as what they may be. No, that is wrong. The feelings are very real and are a true reflection of what is going on inside me. But the feelings do not stay the same. In letting go, by asking the honest questions, by praying the brutally honest prayers, a metamorphosis takes place. Healing is found. I took the risk of releasing my feelings concerning Saturday's funeral. Many people have responded and I sincerely thank you for your prayers, calls and e-mails. I eventually put my phone on silent and left it at home, so please forgive me if I missed your call. I just needed some time-out. Again, sorry Pete. Now, I'm going to one of my sacred spaces, a place where no-one is allowed until the product of my creativity is finished - the kitchen. Thanks again to everyone.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I can't


I can't do it anymore.
My heart is shattered. Why do you ask this of me?
Today was the most difficult service ever.
To bury someone's son is a responsibility greater than what I can bear.

I felt faint. Did you notice, Lord? Did you see Shaun's mom, dad and brothers?
Why do you think I'm strong enough? I can't do it Lord.
I almost got sick in the pulpit. Where do you expect me to find words to bring them comfort? There is no comfort. It is lost, far removed from anything we can ever say or do.

Then those words to his dad, his last words to his dad "Love you lots". Lord, when I read it, my heart shattered. All of a sudden tears streamed down my face. I don't cry Lord, you know that. I cried once for Matthew and couldn't stop. That was the last time. Why did you call me to this, Lord. Choose someone stronger, a David, a Paul.

I depend on you. Thank you for helping me through that service.

I'll pray father Martin Luther's prayer: "I am yours, save me".

Amen. I think.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I am employed!

Today I signed on at UNISA as a part-time lecturer in the Department of Systematic Theology and Ethics! I've been praying for this day since I first set foot on the UNISA campus. I can remember asking God, that if it is in God's will, if God would mind steering me to a place where I could be employed at this university. That was 12 years ago, but I remember it like yesterday. Every time I drove past UNISA, I prayed that prayer, not demanding anything of God, but merely expressing an inner desire.

Working at a university is not easy. I don't expect it to be, but I'm willing to give it my best. My contract is for 10 hours per week and will last until December. There is a possibility that it will be renewed, but I won't stress about that now. I'm just enjoying the moment! The 10 hours per week is luckily not a big issue. I will merely replace my informal writing time with more focused and directed (and payed) work.

Please celebrate today with me.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Counseling is a big part of my work. I enjoy it. There is something very meaningful in being asked and allowed to travel with folk as they try to make sense of their identities and/or situations.

I am very thankful to be studying psychology. My ministerial training did not cater sufficiently to empower me for counseling and so I chose to empower myself. Like all things, it is a skill that one will never be able to master. During the past month I have come to realize how valuable the training has been. It has helped me to identify times when people would rather have sympathy than help. It has helped me to identify underlying psychological problems that can be successfully treated by professionals. Most of all, it has helped me to counsel without getting emotionally involved - some may object to this, but it is essential when you have to counsel different people with different needs in a short space of time and still treat your family with care and affection.

People try to take ministers and the church for a ride and I have learnt to be very honest and direct with people who think they can manipulate their way to easy handouts. And so, a drug dealer got the fright of his life when he heard some home truths ala Dr Phil. A lady who wanted sympathy, but no healing left empty handed, perhaps with a bit of a kick under the jack.

But counseling is also difficult. What do you say to the mother of one of our confirmees who died in a car accident on Monday? Let me rephrase, how does one listen? Listen we did. No answers. No quick fixes. No meaningless images of her son gaining some wings and resting in the arms of Jesus. No. Hopefully by listening and by sharing empathy, she experienced Jesus losing some wings and sitting with her. Not that I am Jesus.

I think the time is drawing near for me to go for some counseling myself. Going to the shrink should be as natural as going to the toilet. Everyone has to offload sometime - excuse the image.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Matt is doing great.

Today we went to Dr. Dansky for Matt's six-monthly heart checkup. It is always an anxious time. Although we know that he is doing well, there is always the hidden fear that things may not be as it seems. This time we were once again blessed with good news. There is a feeling of relief when seeing a real doctor looking at Matt's history on paper, looking at today's test results, looking at Matt, shaking his head and saying that this boy is doing remarkably well for someone with such a complex heart condition. If you want, do a Google image search of Transposition of the great arteries (TGA), VSD, ASD, PDA, Upstairs-Downstairs Ventricular orientation to see what is going on in our boy's heart. You may have to search each condition seperately as it is very rare for these things to all hit one individual at the same time.
Our Matt is now 4 and doing great. After spending the day in Johannesburg (and envying my friend Dion who only has to pass two cars on the way to the beach) we witnessed a beautiful sunset. We told Matt that Jesus made it especially for him. We prayed and gave thanks.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

When granny goes to court

A little something from Beryl's blog.


What makes a good minister? I don't know, but I have some ideas. These are not the only virtues required to be a good minister, but Im sure it counts for something.

Today I marked a trial service. On the panel was a minister with 40 odd years experience, a local preacher with over 50 years experience, a theology professor, a well recognized local preacher and me. As we gave feedback to the minister in training, our comments were shrugged off as "old-fashioned", "out of date" and "not where modern people are". And so I thought: A sign of a good minister, no, let's go further, a good human being is to adopt a teachable attitude.

I had to learn this the hard way. Coming into the ministry I wanted to change the world and wanted to get the "training" out of the way as soon as possible so that I could get on with business. Then I worked in Ventersdorp, Soweto and the streets of Johannesburg and slowly discovered that the world didn't fit into my pocket. I met Tim Attwell, who although is a library on legs, is always willing to listen and able to express appreciation for perspectives other than his own. I remember sitting next to my friend Rory Dalgliesh at the Synod which recommended us to be ordained. Rory knew my journey. I turned to him and said "I don't know if I am ready to be ordained." I'll never forget his words. He said "Wes, at the start of your journey when you wanted to save the world you weren't, but now you are".

I know I am not always teachable, and I pray that people will point out when I build my kingdom based on my own arrogance. But I felt cheated today. I might as well have stayed in bed, because this was not a learning experience for this person. It was just another hurdle on the road to ordination.

To be a good minister, one needs to be teachable. If you aren't, you can't listen. If you can't listen, you can't serve.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Raising boys - Shares in the ER.

Visiting the Emergency Rooms is synonymous with raising boys. Well, Nathan has somehow avoided them - don't know how, because he is the much more daring one!

Matt bust his left big toe open, and he did a very good job of it. And so, it was another trip to the emergency rooms thinking that he would need stitches. Luckily he didn't, but they cut off a whole flap of skin, which looks gross and is pretty painful.

What astounded me most was my little 4 year old's confidence! Sitting in the waiting room, he was getting a bit impatient with the delay in his medical treatment. He stopped the first nurse that walked past and said: "Excuse me, I have an appointment. (then pointing to a bare wrist added...) I have to fly to Scottburgh in twenty six hours (he is actually flying down to Durbs with his granny in two weeks time). Can you fix my toe now, please.". Somehow we jumped the queue and he found himself on a bed. He then proceeded to tell the doctor (a very pretty one at that) how his toe should be fixed. After bandaging the toe, he looked at it, looked at the doctor and said: "I think my toe is broken, can you give me some crutches, please?".

The staff then burst out laughing.

On Monday he is going for his six-monthly heart check-up. I hope he will be as entertaining.

God bless you all, especially if you have boys.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Most unfortunately funny wedding announcements

When I saw this (and others) I laughed so much I fell of my chair. Some are a bit riske', but have a laugh. Click here.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Methodism in Southern Africa.

Dear friends,

The time has arrived! Dr. Dion Forster and I have been working on a book about Methodist mission. The title of the book is Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan mission. Contributors to this book include Rev. Dr. Stanley Mogoba, Rev. Dr. Gavin Taylor, Rev. K.K. Ketshabile, Prof. Joan Milllard-Jackson, Rev. Gcobani Vika, Rev. Dr. Sol Jacob, Rev. Peter Grassow, Rev. Kevin Light, Rev. Dr. Dion Forster and myself.

This book explores different forms of mission that have found expression in Southern African Methodism and we hope that it will contribute towards our continuous search to be effective agents of the Good News. It is an "easy read" book, and so, is accessible to lay and clergy alike.

I include a link to the order form which can be used to order copies from Upper Room Ministries. The official launch of this book will take place at Synod 2008, but you will most likely be able to get your own copy before then by using this form. All proceeds of this project will be going to EMMU (Ministerial Students Fund), so the more copies we sell, the more work can be done in assisting our ministers in training. Please note that whether you order 1 copy or 50, the postage remains the same.

To download the order form, click here.