Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Living in community

The church is a strange beast. You’d think that belonging to Jesus would make us all really, really nice, and easy to get along with! Ha if you think that you’ve obviously never been part of a church!


Again today I spent time with someone who has been hurt by the church. It was unintentional, but this person somehow was made to feel that they do not fit, that they are somehow outside the circle. Many people have spent much of their lives feeling outside the group. Not cool enough, clever enough or fast enough to be one of the team. How often do our churches not continue that exact earth-bound mentality. Instead of being the diverse family that God intended us to be, we often strive to become monochromatic, same thinking groups. Little huddles of people who are very similar to each other.


But something deep in me says that is not what God intended. God loves the diversity of human life and experience, or he would not have given it to us. The church should always have room for those who are ‘different’. What about the slow of mind, the physically broken or those who for whatever reason battle to fit in socially, is there no longer home for them in the church?


And we think the xenophobia is someone else’s evil…perhaps we should look closer to home.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Xenophobia II

Today we baptized my second born, Alex, it was a great service. One of the things we did as worship was to make a call for our church to help reach out to some of those affected by this horrible xenophobia. This is not really xenophobia but something much more violent and evil. This is a return to the horrible past of this country of ours.

Rainbow nation…not quite.

Zapiro's comic says it all:

Anyhow we raised over R15 000 to help those affected to begin to restart their lives! We also have collected 2 car-fulls of clothes, non-perishible food and the like. Some of the money and items will be going to Bellville Presbyterian Church our sister church who are helping 60 folk by housing them at the church and feeding and clothing them. Awesome resoponse!! This is what the gospel is all about. Sharing the justice, mercy and compassion of Jesus with those so desperately in need. The rest of the money and clothes will be going to the Western Cape Council of Churches to help 1700 displaced people in Kayalitsha.

As I reflected on this issue this evening with a bunch of teenagers, I believe that God gets mad at this. If money lenders in the temple got Jesus riled, I think this must get God worked up. Anger is OK if it moves us to get involved and rectify the wrong. It is time for God’s people to stand up with a righteous anger and lets make this world the kinda place Jesus wants it to be.

Let’s think carefully next time we pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” it might mean us getting really involved in some of God's work in this world...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Great quote

Gotta love this one from Mark Driscoll about some branches of the emerging church:

“There is a strong drift toward the hard theological left. Some emergent types [want] to recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in His hair, who drank decaf and made pithy Zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes. In Revelation, Jesus is a prize fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is a guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up. I fear some are becoming more cultural than Christian, and without a big Jesus who has authority and hates sin as revealed in the Bible, we will have less and less Christians, and more and more confused, spiritually self-righteous blogger critics of Christianity.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Shack

A friend recently gave me a copy of The Shack to read (click on image at left to find online) It is touted by Eugene Peterson of The Message fame, to be the modern Pilgrims Progress. The basic story is a grieving father receives a note to meet God in the shack where his daughter was murdered. There he meets God and interacts with him (her?). God the Father is a large black lady called Papa – this is a bit of an adjustment, Jesus is a bloke doing his carpentry and the Holy Spirit is a women of Asian origin.

I was skeptical at first, but I actually really enjoyed the book. It is helpful in understanding the trinity in many ways, it really helps one in some sense to wrestle with this eternal mystery of who the three persons of the trinity are. But there are some caveats.

There are some theological issues with the books view on the trinity, so I would be careful about talking it all to heart. The following three where pointed out by Mark Driscoll in a recent sermon he preached at Mars Hill Church.

Firstly, God being a woman is an interesting issue that Mark brings up. I am not sure I entirely agree with him saying this promotes goddess worship. There are attributes of God that reveal himself to us as feminine as well as masculine, the Bible to is written in a male centered society and it would have been natural to address God as father. Unfortunately we have no gender unspecific language to talk of a personal God without falling back to make/female language. I can let this slide, but it is a bit of an adjustment

Secondly there is the issue of modalism. That God has chosen to reveal himself at different times in different ways. So in the OT it is God the father, in the NT God is revealed in Jesus and now we live in the age of the Holy Spirit. This theology denies the distinctiveness of the three persons that have eternally made up the Godhead. They where all together in the beginning as the language of Genesis makes very clear. It is theologically incorrect to pray to God the Father as if He died on the cross – Jesus did. Modalism returns to the idea of one God showing himself in three modes…this is not orthodox doctrine. The Bible attests that the three persons of the Trinity are distinct.

Thirdly and perhaps more importantly there is the issue of hierarchy in the Godhead. The three persons of the Trinity are equally part of God, equally important in us understanding God, but they have different roles. In the book Young has God saying that “hierarchy makes no sense to us” But this is again contradicting scripture. Jesus tells us “I only say what the father tells me to say” Jesus tells us that “I will send the Holy Spirit…” there is a clear structure to the Godhead. There is a flow of authority and power from one to the other. The ancient Christian way of praying by the power of the Spirit through Jesus the Son, to God the Father is helpful in us understanding that there is a hierarchy of roles in the mysterious concept of the Trinity, but that each person has equal place and importance.

So the book is a worthwhile read, but I would be hesitant to base any sort of substantial understanding of the Trinity based upon it. Happy happy…

Monday, May 19, 2008


This is yet another disturbing image of the xenophobia happing in our country at the moment. There is no information as to whether this man died or not...

What is the church's response to this horror? Jesus has always stood up for the oppressed, the marginalized those who always seem to take the worst society can dish out. Of course there are all sorts of economic reasons to be chasing the foreigners out when we have enough hungry mouths of our own to feed. But that is thinking with our wallets and not with the Spirit that Jesus put into us. Luckily this has not yet been happening to this extent in Cape Town. But it will soon be here no doubt...the only question is 'how will we as Jesus church respond?"

In Matthew 23:23 Jesus in one of his angry moments says "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former."

How will we play out Jesus' justice and mercy here and now? Let's get ourselves into action...

The Comrades

OK so Gareth sent me this link about a Christian making some noise about the Comrades on a Sunday. Basic issue that he raises is that those who died on the Marathon last year may have done so because of God's judgement. I find this kind of attitude very hard to deal with in light of what Jesus says in Mark 2:27 "Then he said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.'" It is important to take a sabbath rest day, but what about ministers, or doctors, nurses, emergency staff and the suchlike? I get really irritable with this kind of narrow minded quasi-christian legalism... I cannot imagine what Jesus would have to say. It is this kind of attitude that the emerging chruch is coming out from, trying to return to where Jesus wants us to be...what do you think?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Evangelical manifesto

As some of you may have heard there has been an evangelical manifesto put together to speak out publicly what evangelicals in the US are about. With the over politicizing of evangelical ministry there are many misconceptions. So they released the manifesto

Here is an extract from the manifesto summary:

As followers of Jesus Christ, Evangelicals stress a particular set of beliefs that we believe are true to the life and teachings of Jesus himself. Taken together, they make us who we are. We place our emphasis on ...

1. Jesus, fully divine and fully human, as the only full and complete revelation of God and therefore the only Savior.

2. The death of Jesus on the cross, in which he took the penalty for our sins and reconciled us to God.

3. Salvation as God’s gift grasped through faith. We contribute nothing to our salvation.

4. New life in the Holy Spirit, who brings us spiritual rebirth and power to live as Jesus did, reaching out to the poor, sick, and oppressed.

5. The Bible as God’s Word written, fully trustworthy as our final guide to faith and practice.

6. The future personal return of Jesus to establish the reign of God.

7. The importance of sharing these beliefs so that others may experience God’s salvation and may walk in Jesus’ way.

Perhaps it’s just me, but do you notice something missing?

Other than implicitly in item 6 there is no mention at all of the resurrection. I find this strange. The resurrection is the central truth of Easter. I mean let’s be brutally honest here. Anyone can die on a cross, painful yes, but doable. But it takes something special to be raised from the dead! I think the manifesto is great, a return to some of the values that evangelicals started with. But perhaps they could have thought this out a bit better.

Life can be sad

I spent some time with an old Jewish man today. He has been very successful in so many ways and a disaster in so many others. He is wealthier than most, but has strained relationships with many family members. He has worked hard at amassing wealth, but as we sat talking over a cup of coffee, he said in an unguarded moment “I have done nothing worthwhile with my life…”

We prayed and he and his wife where quite moved that a young pastor should come and pray with them…

I hope that when I get to the end of it all I can look back on my family, my friends and all those whom I have served and be able to say “I did OK, by God’s grace, I did OK…”

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Alriiiiighty then...four posts in two days
Mars Hill Bible church is where Rob Bell best selling speaker on the 'nooma' video series preaches

Mars Hill Church is the church of whom Mark Driscoll is the minister

They are not the same thing...I was listening to some of the videos (links in previous posts) and was surprised at how 'normal' they sounded. I mean Mark Driscoll preaches doctrine and heck even predestination!!! Quite unlike Rob Bell, and I was confused...until I realised that they are two different churches both with quite divers flavours...:)


Another Mars Hill link

Mars Hill has a series on doctrinal issues. This one is answering questions asked by members about prosperity preacher Joel Osteen:

Monday, May 12, 2008

wow two posts in two days..

They say you should start in the same way you hope to begin..not likely

Anyhow here is a link to a YouTube vid that I have found helpful, it is from Mark Driscoll the pastor of Mars Hill church in Seattle…

I was recently reading “The Shack” which was enjoyable, but certainly not entirely on the button. Mark makes some comments on it… check out

OK so my first post...
hmmm what to say?

Well today I listened two two lectures at Stellenbosch by Prof. Scot McKnight from
He is easy to listen to and shared on Teaching the Bible to a postmodern generation and The Missional Jesus. My only complaint was that he has left me wanting for more. Perhaps it is my measly 3 year BTh degree, but I could easily sit for a year listening to his lectures on the NT.

Scot is one of the leading lights in the emerging conversation, but he has not gone as far afield as some of Brian McLaren's stuff...He is pretty sound doctrinally and raises some really interesting points on interpreting the message of the Gospels.

The most striking point was that we often read the Bible in Maestro mode...basically we read the Bible through the eyes of one or other of the authors of the Bible. Most notably (and probably true for me) is that many of us read through Paul's eyes. It colours and flavours almost everything we read.

I'd never thought about it till now, but it's a good point, we can miss out on some important ideas and themes...