Sunday, December 30, 2007
Today the "tree of my ministry" is being cut of as the powers that be announced to the congregations that I have served for the last two years that i will be discontinued as a minister in this church. Like the stump in our back garden, it is a sad testimony of the nature of humanity, speaking of hopelessness and pain, of not being wanted anymore where i was planted (not by my own will but by the hand of Him who planted me) - disregarding years of faithful service and growth. However, this 'stump of my ministry' that remains is a testimony to much more. It is a testimony of hope in hopelessness, a testimony to the light of Christ that changes and saves - regardless of pain, darkness and fear.
Today, i stand not because i am proud, but because i know that i serve a God of new beginnings, a God of love and hope . A God who is there in our times of darkness. Today i proclaim boldly:
God is life!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
As i am sitting here, i can hear the laughter and giggles outside of two six-year olds: one is my own little boy, the other - the son of a friend from a different cultural background. Both are fluent in at least two languages and knows a couple of words in a third. My son can speak English, Afrikaans and a bit of SeSotho, his friend can speak SeSotho, SeTwana and a bit of English. They do not fully understand each other, but have been playing the morning away. They laugh, they help, they play and have developed their own way of communication. Perhaps this is why God said that we need to become children again: Instead of focusing on problems, differences or that which divides us, they focus of similarities finding solutions and each other.
Perhaps my next vote should be going to a child ...
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Today i think back on one of the most difficult years of my life and somehow, i am without words to describe this year other than to say in the words of Charles Spurgeon: "I have a great need for Christ; I have a great Christ for my need"
My calling has been tested again and again on every level and all tho others might doubt my call, i am more sure than ever of my calling. I don't know where 2008 will lead me, but this i know:
"His grace is sufficient for me"
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
In the last while (and especially this week) i have been gaining a fresh understanding of what it really means to say that i trust God or that i have faith in Him. In the past it has been easy for me to say these things as i have felt that i am in control of my life and ministry. I have been like a good layer who only asks the questions that s/he already knows the answers to. I have been trusting God in that which is certain - eternal life. For everything else, i could make a plan.
Recently however, i have had to learn to trust God when nothing is certain. I am learning that the greatest for of trust is when i can see no way out. i am like Gideon, being asked to trust God when humanly the situation seems impossible. i am being asked to trust God with my life now and not only one day when i die and do not have any control anyway. This kind of trust is a trust that i am following his lead when i cannot see the outcome yet, it is asking the questions that i don't know the answers to. I t is walking in uncharted territory with dangers all around me. I can no longer depend on my own insights, experience or understanding. I cannot depend on friends or family.
All of this is terrifying ... and yet it is strangely liberating!
Today i declare (with an unsteady voice) "Christ enough for one - for all!"
Friday, October 19, 2007
Suppose the world population was standing at about 5 000 million (yes, it is more than that). And suppose you are the only Christian in the world (no, you are not) and suppose that in the next 12 months you could lead one person to Christ. In the next year you and the person you have lead to Christ each lead one more person to Christ. The question is: how long will it take, if every Christian then every year only lead one person to Christ, before everyone on earth has been reached with the Good News?
Only 32 years!
In this year, i have been running around so much, running meetings, resolving conflicts, doing everything a good minister should - that i have forgotten my real job. Making Disciples not of me but of God.
So this is me getting on with the real job
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
In my garden is a young tree that i planted in a difficult time of my life just before the winter started. Yes, i know it is a funny time to be planting a tree, but i was kind of trying to rescue it and the struggling tree soon became a metaphor for my own life. As winter progressed this young tree began to look dead and hopeless - the force and severity of our icy winter taking its toll. The other day i was walking around in the garden and stood in amazement as i noticed the signs of new life in what appeared to be a dead and hopeless young tree. Don't get me wrong, the tree is still not looking great, but there is HOPE!
Today i am reflecting on the signs of new life in my own life - in every aspect of my life i can still see the results of an icy winter, the destruction and decay left by lovelessness and indifference. but there is hope and in ever aspect of my life there are signs of new life, signs of hope! This does not mean that the struggles are over, but there is HOPE and that hope lies in the Author of life.
May Spring-rains shower your (and my) spirit as we continue to become that which we were created to be.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Yes i know that the peace that Jesus brings is not the peace that this world brings, i know that it is not the absence of conflict but rather a deep inner peace that is not dependent on external factors but rather on Jesus' sovereignty and saving grace - but still. The problem with peace in the church is perhaps not so much what Jesus was alluding to in Luke 12 but more John 15:18- 16:4 - We all tend to go off on our own crusades in which we fight "on God's behalf" against that which we have decided is an abomination to Him (as if God is not big enough to fight those battles for himself). We go about all self-righteous and judgmental honestly thinking that we are doing God a favor while tearing the body of Christ into peaces, crushing and obscuring the image of God in others. and we say - "it is for God".
The Message that Christ brings of unconditional love, forgiveness and justice all to often brings division rather than peace when our own ego's and insecurities gets in the way.
Again, the words "more of You and less of me" is my hearts desire. may i not ever seek to persecute those who think differently, worship differently and experience differently. May we seek to find the image of God in others and allow God to be God.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Yes i am talking about "burn-out". This year so far has been extremely taxing and i ended up exhausted, stressed, empty and bitter - even to the point of wanting to throw away the collar. Today, i can begin to see the light again.
So how did i de-bug and how am i going to stay de-bugged?
During the last couple of days all i could really concentrate on was prayer and fasting and in this time i spend hours in front of the piano, simply worshiping. During this time, i had wise friends who reminded me to focus of the good , the pure, the excellent, the praise-worthy (Phil 4:4-8). At first i was too tired, but while worshiping God, i found my mind wondering onto the many "good things" in my life and ministry: There is growth in a society that once was ready to die; there is unity in a congregation where there once was only division; this same tiny society has started to grow not only in numbers but in Spirit by reaching out to the community and those in need; there has been miracles in the lives of some young people and heaven rejoices over lost sheep returning home; the has been the miracle in the life of little Ethan-River a baby born with a huge cyst on his lung but when the time came for him to be operated on (one week after he was born) the cyst was nowhere to be found - the doctors are still wondering about that... and so i can go on and on.
How is it that i can focus so easily on that which goes wrong and forget about that which goes right? Why do we always tend to see those who are unhappy and miss the happy ones?
If worship, prayer, fasting and fellowship is what has served as instruments in God's hands to de-bug this little bug, then that is what i need more of in my life. And so the quest to balance continues, but in a new way: more of Him and less of me = balance
Saturday, July 14, 2007
For the third time in six months i have been bitten by a really poisonous spider, leaving me in lots of pain and frustration. Now i wonder: is this simply coincidence or is Someone trying to tell me something here? I am not superstitions about these things but this is getting a bit much...
anyway, speaking about spiders... i had a dream some years ago about spiders and webs in the church and about the poison of bitterness, self-centeredness, gossip and pride that spreads easily through the whole church. The antidote for this is within reach (Jesus' unconditional and sacrificial love) but because as ministers (and God's children in general) we are often infected ourselves trough the hurt by another hurting person/s and so instead of breaking the web and assisting in the healing process, we tend to spread more of our own poison. My prayer is that as His children, we will take time to be healed and transformed by His love in order that we my become instruments of healing and transformation in others.
i am thus a recovering spider-woman...
Saturday, June 30, 2007
I remember as a child of about five-years-old my friend and i walking home from 'kinderkrans' after a lesson about "Jesus the Good Shepherd. My friend turned to his mother - very confused- and asked: "mom if we are Jesus' sheep, am i supposed to 'baa'?
so often, even in my adult life, i have forgotten what it means to be a sheep of His flock. I forget that it means that i need to keep my eyes focused on Him and my ears trained to follow His voice (and only His). I forget that if i don't i can get myself horribly lost. And when i do get horribly lost, i forget that i need to put my pride aside and allow Him to carry me home. I forget that the simplest way to find direction in life or to make decisions is to follow His lead and to go where He has already been.
And so, feeling a bit sheepish, i sing with the kids: "I just wanna be a sheep..."
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Today has been one of those freezing cold days with snow flakes falling gently on the ground, and on this cold day i had the privilege to bury a remarkable lady. A lady who warmed (quite literally) the hearts and lives of many. If i could have a say in how i would like to die, i would want to die like her. On Thursday evening the family found her in her lounge peacefully sitting on her favorite chair still with a half-finished jersey for a less fortunate child in her hands that she was busy knitting when she died. What a testimony, what a way to go! Valerie was 75 years old and loved and cared in thought and in action. She always knew what was going on in the community and in the world and would not only complain about bad circumstances but did something to change it. Her relationship with her Lord was so real, so intimate that the had a permanent glow.
Today, on this very cold winters day, i had the privilege to hand out the last five jerseys that she knitted to five abandoned children.
Today, i give tribute to an angel...
Monday, June 25, 2007
“ the calm of mind which is not ruffled by adversity, overclouded by sin or a remorseful conscience, or disturbed by the fear and approach of death”. - Eadie
Wow, how i need to have this peace, the peace of God that surpasses all understanding!
During the past week, i have been privileged to sit at the feet of a true teacher and am left with so many things to chew over. I have been challenged in so many ways and inspired to become more focused, becoming more of what i was created to be and allowing for His Spirit to direct my life.
Now i used to think that the way to get this "peace" was to create balance in my life, balance that i simply cant seem to find. However, i do believe that the real problem was/is not balance, but rather focus & obedience. i have been running around focusing on the problems i am faced with and not on the much bigger God i am with. I have been looking for signs of trouble instead of looking for signs of God's power and grace. I have been trying to please the people i serve instead of finding joy in the God under who's supervision i stand. I have been seeking approval and validation from people instead of ministering in His authority.
Most importantly, i have been trying so hard to do everything that i think people expect me to do and have forgotten and neglected that to which God has called me in the first place - resulting in me spending 80% of my time in doing that which God has called someone else to do and only 20% of my time on that which God has created, called and equipped me for. Then i wonder why i am lacking the peace of God...
It is time for me to start moving more towards that which i was created, called and equipped to and thus becoming obedient to God's call and will in my life.
It seems i have a choice: either i can obey and be at peace or betray and keep on trying to balance the pieces.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
For the last 8 years, my mother-in-law has been driving me insane with her constant worrying. it seems that she is simply not happy when she is not worrying. And when she does not have something to be anxious about in herself, she finds something in someone else's life to worry about.
this morning in the tub i realized that i have become a worry-bug... The worst part is that most of the things i worry about has nothing to do with me, but with friends or with those i minister to. It seems i keep on forgetting the truth that i learned from a five-year-old:
Upon entering a house of a friend one cold winters evening, their five-year-old ran up to me and asked: "do you know what the devil's greatest trick is?" i answered that i didn't know and he continued "it goes like this - you, go and sit in the corner and start worrying!"
It is nine years later and it seems that worrying has become the rocking chair that keeps me busy. While in the tub this morning i realized:
Worrying is the telltale sign that points to a focal problem in my life. When i worry, it is 100% of the time because i have taken my focus of God and placed it on my (or anyone else's) problems. in times when i worry i in effect doubt the size and power of my God. I am, like 10 of the 12 spies that went into the promised land, focusing of the giants that face me and not on the even bigger God that is with me.
So is there hope for a worry-bug like me?
For sure there is! the cure is at hand! all in need to do is to transform by the grace of God from a worry-bug to a praise-bug. That's it, it is that simple. I need to start focusing my time and energy on praising God. This will turn my self-centeredness into God-centredness and will leave not room for worry. It is all a matter of perspective.
Of cause i know that this will not mean that problems will not arise, in fact while i was typing this a close friend called with a problem, not something that i can do something about, she simply needed someone to listen. So what do i do? I give it to God, praise him for his love and care for her in the situation that she is in and allow Him to sort it out.
If you see me again and in look a little strange, don't worry: worry-bug is having her spots changed to that of a praise-bug.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
anyway, to make a long story short : i watched "the reaping". So what did i gain from this experience (apart from nausea that is...)?
the movie left me with conflicting thoughts and feelings. It swings between good and evil all the time with a scientist who specializes in disproving miracles by finding scientific explanations for it. the first twist is that she was ordained and involved in mission before she lost her faith do to the death of her husband and child. The ten plagues appears one after the other in an remote little community where and it is up to the scientist to save people from its destructive power. It is more or less at this point where one starts to question who is behind these plagues. Is it God or Satan or something else?
Without giving away to much of the plot... in the last five minutes one is almost convinced that the victory belongs to God. in the final scene however, one is made aware that the struggle is not over - the generation to come will bring its own questions.
So what do i think?
my husband commented on the fact that that is simply not God's way of doing things. The problem with that line of thought is that God did use 10 plagues in Exodus. Does it therefore mean that God has changed? And if God has changed his modus operandi in this regard, what does it say for the laws and commands that society (and the church) clings to so desperately these days?
If the answer is that God still use plagues to punish and persuade, what does it say of natural disasters and HIV/AIDS?
These are some of the questions that i am anticipating from some of the youngsters watching this movie. My own view:
God has won the victory, however in ever generation we are faced with choices that will affect our own lives and the lives of others. God has won the victory, but we still at times need to struggle through a minefield of ifs and buts. In the end it is by faith and through grace that we are saved. He that is in us is still greater than he that is in the world!
This movie will not make it to my top ten list and i do not recommend watching it as part of a romantic night out but hey, if it can spark a discussion about my faith...
PS. cant wait to see what the wise man says about this movie
Monday, June 11, 2007
The last six months of LIFE UNDER GOD'S SUPERVISION has been extremely challenging. In this time i have had to battle through a minefield of emotional and verbal abuse from God's own people. Today i was faced with one of those difficult choices in ministry: do i shrug my shoulders and say well, the wheel turns... and allow for my 'abusers' to go through a similar form of 'abuse' or do i step up and protect them from the harshness and pettiness of other church people?
The church - there where we say we are under God's supervision where love and forgiveness supposedly are the driving force behind all we do and say is often the one place where people get hurt and feel rejection more that anywhere else on earth. I have entered into the ministry knowing that part of my call is to go to places where people have been hurt by and through the church. I never expected that i would become one of the casualties of this epidemic, but ...
In less than an hour i will be chairing a meeting and here, next to me on my desk is a letter that speaks in my favor, but breaks down others - in whom the image of God is fragile at the moment (fragile but always there). The challenge tonight will be to be God's love-bug to deal with all involved in truth and in love. Tonight there will be no place for my still very bruised ego or pride, only for love and truth and a forgiveness.
my mind is made up, i will deal with this in a gentle and loving way. I will treat them in the way that i wish the treated me some time ago, but i am humbled by this task before me and i am worried. i am worried that my own pain will overrule my mind.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
I like winter, but only when i can snuggle up warmly in front of a warm fire with a good cup of coffee and the company of a good book or good friends. However, in the absence of these vital elements, i tend to fall silent. It is as if my tongue is frozen and i cannot speak or think properly. Oh how i wish i was a cat (or even the tick on a cat) who had the time to go and find the warmest spot in the house and curl up in the sun without a care in the world!
Even my body seem to be on a go-slow in winter: my blood pressure is at a constant low and my joints and muscles aching - as if i were double my age.
It is in winter however, that i reflect more than any other time in the year on life and love and the God of both. It is in this time that i am reminded of how dependent i am on God for my every breath. It is now that i need to look beyond myself and the world around me to find reason for hope and joy. Without fail it is in these times that my relationship with God deepens and my hope and joy springs eternally. It is in darkness that i see the light for what it is!
And so, with my toes ten blocks of solid ice and my joints sore and stiff, i can say with John Wesley "i felt my heart strangely warm". I rejoice in Christ my Saviour for the warmth of his embrace is enough to melt through the iciest day!
my His love warm your heart today!
Monday, June 4, 2007
whenever there is something with more than four feet around that is in the mood for a nice snack, they seem to run to me. this tendency has lead to many days in bed with malaria, tick-bite fever and spider bites (the latest of which was a button spider or two). often, these times of unplanned illness happened to be at a time in my life that i have been running around in circles. "Is this God's way of calling you to slow down?" a friend recently asked.
Bugs and spiders have been a symbol of things that still needs to be sorted out (long story, perhaps i will tell you about it some other time).
A bug is seemingly insignificant, but plays a vital part in the ecology. how often don't i feel this insignificance in my own existence! and yet, the Bible tells us that God even cares for the tiniest insect, the smallest little worm...
Today i realized that i belong to a special species, i am one of the bugs. every day in my vocation and my every moment i am "under God's supervision" and this thought is both awesome and scary. i am reminded of my own insignificance and yet have a vital roll to play. i am being called to slow down for a moment and reflect on life and all its aspects. And so this is me, just one of the bugs, going about my Fathers business...