Thursday, February 26, 2009

28 days of prayer during financial crisis.

Athletes usually stretch after a good workout. I blog. I have just finished the manuscript for my book "28 days of prayer during financial crisis"

It is divided into 4 sections:

You are not alone;
Planning better;
Living with discipline; and
Living as a steward.

It does not suggest that the wealthy are healed or the poor condemned. It aims to assure people of God's faithfulness and presence with us all during all times, even when we experience financial crisis. In the light of the global economic crisis, I don't think that anyone is exempted.

So, I draw on Wesley's teaching on the use of money, Biblical interpretations of resources and a suggestion to break the shackles of a world which teaches us that in order to be happy, you need to be well-off.

I am excited about this book. It is not an academic book, but I hope it can be instrumental in helping people realize that God is near, loving and compassionate - and calls us to be the same.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ministers' retreat

This is the view from my room. I am on ministers' retreat nearby the Hartebeespoort dam.

I don't do retreats well. Let me say this... I don't retreat well with other people. Father Pete is always on my case about this, and I know that there is value, but... there is actually no "but".

Where do I hear God speak? When I am alone. Not just alone in my study, but when I physically remove myself from my context, with respect, my family, and lovingly, from the church. I hear God speak while sitting alone in an airport terminal, waiting for a flight. I hear God speak in a guesthouse while I wait for the time when I have to deliver a paper. I hear God while I am sitting here in my room, supposed to be praying and asking how the church has hurt me, but choosing to write a booklet on prayer during times of financial crisis. I overlook the dam. It is starting to rain. I smell the fresh air, I jump at the sound of a loud thunderclap only meters away... and I hear God speaking. I think I am retreating after all. I just can't take the group work.

Consumerist reading of the Bible.

I came upon this striking quote from Eugene Peterson's Earth and Altar and thought to share it with you:

We come to the Bible as consumers, rummaging through texts to find something at a bargain. We come to worship as gourmets of the emotional, thinking that the numinous might provide a nice supplement to sunsets and symphonies. We read "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want," and our hearts flutter. We read "You shall not fear the terror of the night," and we are tranquilized. We read "He does not deal with us according to our sins" and we decide we have probably been too hard on ourselves. But when we read "The Lord says...The Lord has sworn," our interest flags and we reach for the newspaper to find out how the stock market is doing".

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Matt's first rugby game... and the Bulls won 59-26

The only thing he didn't like was that... "Pappa shouts too loud!"

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Which Bible do you read?

Matt: Pappa, when you're good then Jesus loves you. But if you're disobedient, then Jesus doesn't love you.

Me: Oh, Matt, you know, Jesus is soooo good, that he even loves us when we are disobedient.

Matt: No, when we are naughty, he doesn't love us.

Me: Matt, the whole story of the Bible tells us that when people are naughty, God still loves us.

Matt: No, the Bible says that Jesus doesn't love naughty people.

Me: Oh, my Bible says God always loves us. Which Bible says that God doesn't love naughty people?

Matt: The Bible of South Africa.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Scriptural interpretation

A friend, Gus Kelly, posted this on our ministers' discussion forum. It puts in a nutshell what I believe to be true about the debate surrounding the interpretation of Scripture:

If scripture is understood as a repository of divinely revealed true propositions and moral absolutes, then normativity will appear as an application of those propositions and absolutes, literally understood, to matters theological, missionary, and personal.  If scripture is understood as the sacrament of divine revelation, of God’s historical self-disclosure, then normativity will be understood as the ever-developing guiding influence on our thought and action of an ever-deepening familiarity with God in Jesus.  For those seeking absolute norms for knowledge and behaviour, the latter position will appear incoherent, unstable and finally inadequate.  For those who realize that the only God worth knowing is a personal God, and that all personal relationships are dialogical and relative, the “uncontrollability” of God’s self-revelation is a source of joyful astonishment and an invitation to the unwavering confidence that only a God of endlessly original love can justify.

- Sandra M Schneiders, 1999, The Revelatory Text: Interpreting the New Testament as Sacred Scripture, The Liturgical Press.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Thank you" will do...

We try to teach our children to say the following words:

"Thank you"
"I love you"
"Excuse me"
"sir" or "ma'am" (oom or tannie)
"I'm sorry"
"I forgive you"

I'm proud to say that they have already made these words part of their vocabulary. Nathan has caught on particularly well.

At the beginning of the year I did some planning and decided that I seriously needed to revisit my commitment to certain committees and groups, and so I started to step down from several of these.

Today I have seen once again how I have been used. I served on a particular committee for the past 6 years (a quick calculation will tell you it is about a fifth of my life). I spoke to the chairman and indicated that I do not occupy any portfolio, except taking the minutes of this meeting, and so would like to step down. When it came to the matter on the agenda, the issue was raised and it was asked if there were any objections. Just a few nods. Then we moved on to the next point, only to be asked if I would serve on another committee. No "Thank you" or "We appreciate that we received minutes of meetings immediately after each meeting"... Just "Now we need to replace Wessel".

That may not have been the intention, but I feel a bit used. When I indicated that I was not willing to serve on the "other" committee, it was almost as if I was not pulling my weight.

Well, excuse me. I am paid to run a church, not volunteer to sit on committees that do little or nothing for my community. If I volunteer, please say "thank you". If you don't want to, then pay me. Make it worth my while so that I can spoil my family for the time that I have to sit and pretend as if my contribution is appreciated.

I appreciate the few people who make a point after a Bible study or sermon say "Thank you". I know it may just roll of the tongue, but I choose to invest value in those words. To you I say: "It is a pleasure, and I'll work my fingers to the bone for you".

Thanks for reading my blog.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Matthew's tricks

Matthew LOVES gymnastics and constantly "invents" new trick on the jungle gym. His strength is absolutely amazing. Check this...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


As the people of Israel go to the polls today, the election date for South Africa's fourth democratic elections was announced: 22 April.

These elections will be very interesting. It comes at a time when the people of South Africa are growing increasingly impatient with the current government's legacy of corruption, power-play, inability to deliver and general sense of sheltered employment.

Yes, some good has come, but the PEOPLE want to be heard. More than that, we want leaders with integrity.

Please pray for our country, it's leaders and our witness.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Weekend off

We get one weekend off per quarter. That is if we don't take leave in it. This is my weekend off, which means that I won;t be in the office from today to Monday. It is a blessing not to think about another sermon, to bar calls on my phone. This is a little bit of me-time. Today I went to the bank to negotiate interest rates - successful. Now I'm sitting in the Seattle Coffee shop drinking a cappuccino and surfing the net. In an hour's time I'll be having coffee with my good friend and mentor, Prof. Conrad Wethmar. Then I'll fetch the boys and we'll be off to have a braai with friends. Tomorrow, after Nats' classes, we'll be going to my parents in Carletonville and spend some time there until Sunday afternoon. On Monday I will work on two book proposals for Upper Room Publishers. Doing the stuff I love doing. This is much needed time to get to know myself again. The only thing that is missing is going on a long ride on my Vespa. Will have to fit it in somewhere. Have a good weekend everyone.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The word is "Petrichor"

Do you know the smell of rain? That fresh wind that blows with a blend of the smells of hope, renewal and life. Well, there's a word for that smell - petrichor.

Pretoria has experienced a record amount of rain during this summer, and this smell has become very familiar. More so, the smell of hope and change in our local congregation. Our new colleague, Themba Mntambo has played a part in this. Before he came, our leaders prayed and discerned that this year should be the year of "Listening to the voice of God". Immediately after we spoke the word, petrichor! When we pray about new opportunities in the life of our community, petrichor! Preparing a sermon for Sunday, petrichor.

I love this smell and it fills me with joy, because I know that God is at work. I share Pete's sentiments about the bigger institution. I do not only share his feelings, but I feel that he has more than adequately expressed what I feel about the matter.

Here in the local church, where ordinary people meet in order to hear the word of God (and not for the sake of being called Methodists or raising enough funds to pay the assessments), here is where I experience the petrichor of the Spirit of God.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Day off

Time to do stuff I love doing... Cooking Jamie Oliver recipies. Here is chickenbreast stuffed with banana and wrapped in bacon on a bed of sweetcorn and sweet white wine. JUMMEEE!!!