Sunday, March 30, 2008

coffee-less coffee

When my brother was about five years old, he learnt to make coffee. He was extremely proud of this newly acquired skill (as coffee has always played a major role in our household) and decided to take our parents some coffee in bed. Now my mom used to have these big, dark brown mugs which made it very difficult to judge its contents early in the morning. Anyway, Dad takes his coffee with milk and sugar and took the first sip. He frowned a little but said thank you. Mom takes here coffee without milk and with no sugar and when she took the first sip asked in horror: "how much coffee did you put in" to which my brother sheepishly replied: "oeps, i forgot to put coffee in"

so why this story?

a friend of mine recently asked me what my greatest fear is, and while i have many fears i had to confess that ultimately my greatest fear is that i would only exist and never really live. Coffee without coffee is not coffee at all and i guess that life without the right ingredients is not life either. Milk and sugar are optional extras but you cannot have coffee without the water and the coffee itself. i am on a journey towards discovering which parts of my life are the optional extras and which are the essentials.

I know that Jesus is essential in my life if i want to have live (John 10:10) and that in abundance, and i believe that there are other things that are essential as well, like: being who i was created to be, living according to God's purpose for me and so on. The challenge however is to become me, stripped of all the masks and little lies that, over the years, i have told myself and others about who i am.

I have decided to allow God to take me through a process of pruning, becoming recklessly honest with myself, my God and others.

If becoming who i am drives people away, then maybe my interactions with those have been meaningless anyway. Becoming who i am means becoming who i was created to be and this includes some growing, some pruning, some molding and shaping. It does not give me an excuse to be hurtful or insensitive.

So pray for me as i continue on this journey.

metamorphosis bugs

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"I will still be joyfull"

"Even though the fig-trees have no fruit and no grapes grow on the vines, even though the olive-crop fails and the fields produce no corn, even though the sheep all die and the cattle-stalls are empty, I will still be joyful and glad, because the Lord God is my saviour.
The Sovereign Lord gives me strength. He makes me sure-footed as a deer, and keeps me safe of the mountains." Habakkuk 3:17-19

I have no idea when to start, perhaps I need to start with me going back to youth ministry, not by choice but out of a painful experience that brought me here:
i never thought, not in my wildest dreams that i would go back to youth ministry, but i have found this last month as a youth pastor to be a healing and stretching experience. i have had to learnt to say "i will still be joyful". In the last three months i have probably grown more than in any other time in my life and though the experience was painful, the Sovereign Lord has kept me sure-footed on this rugged mountain.

Last week, my best friend were told that the company she works for can no longer afford to employ her - i am amazed at her strength which i am sure is God's strength in her - 'still i will be glad'

This weekend a friend have lost all security and been through an incredibly difficult time, but it has been amazing to see christian love in action as her friends rallied around to help - 'still i will be glad'

On Friday, after having walked about in pain for more than a week, i went to the doctor. It turns out that, not having rested well after a recent opp, there is some internal bleeding and a resulting abscess. God supplied me with a doctor who decided to treat me with no cost as my new medical aid only kicks in from April - 'still i will be glad'

On Saturday my sister went for a run in Cape Town and was attacked with a large rock. This happened at a place where there was nobody to help her, but the Sovereign Lord gave her strength so that she would not fall and suffer a worse fate and sure-footed so that she managed to run to help. he supplied the help in the form of a group of cyclists who helped - "still i will be joyful and glad"

Today i learnt that a school friend, the only one i actually keep in touch with, will have to have his only kidney removed. He is in urgent need of a transplant - 'still i will be joyful and glad'

Yesterday i sat with a young girl who has been through much more in her short life than i have and her words to me was :"i don't always understand or even agree with what God does or allows, but He is God and I will always serve him, and him only".

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

thou shalt not be succesfull

I have been watching 'As it is in Heaven' again today and i was wondering: Why is it that the church (or Christians) find success so threatening?

I have seen it so many times in so many different towns, so many different churches, so many different organizations and lives - we ask people to do something for the church or for God, we expect them to get on with it and we complain if they don't. However, if they do get on with the job at hand and do it really well, we will find a reason why their success is not good and why their services should be terminated. What exactly is it that we are so afraid of. Why are we so insecure that the success of other Christians cause us to question their motives? Why can we not celebrate each other's ministries and success? I am saddened by the destructiveness of this tendency amongst God's people.

I do realize that this is an over-generalization, as not all churches; not all ministers; and not all Christians are like that. I am currently working with a superintendent who celebrates victories with me - what a blessing! I have seen organizations working together and Christians being happy for and with one another. It seems however that this is the exception and not the rule.

In my own life i have often noticed that things goes banana-shaped the moment that i forget that i am part of a body and start acting as if i am the body. Perhaps the same is true in the church as a whole and that we need to be reminded of our interdependence in a world and era of independence. Is this perhaps why Paul says: 'his power in me is greatest when i am weak' ?


Saturday, March 1, 2008


Ever noticed the difference between solitude and loneliness? You can be with lots of people and be extremely lonely and yet you can be all on your own but not lonely at all. Today I am home alone, but not lonely, in fact I am so very content just being me right now. I decided to stay home today (because I have work to do and a sermon to finish) while the two men in my life decided to go out and do the bush-thing. I did not realize however, not until now, how much I needed time on my own.

Jesus had this habit of withdrawing from the crowd and yes, even from his disciples. Why then is it that I still think that I, a mortal human being, can do without it?

How at peace I am here in my office, over-looking our shady garden where my cat is basking in the sun and my dog is chasing a butterfly. The song of the birds fills the air and the gentle breeze carries the sweet scent of the big old Jacaranda tree with its delicate purple flowers. It feels like I can burst into a Psalm of praise like David of old.

For the first time this week I am not rushing to pick-up, drop-off, to lead or be lead, to keep an appointment or to meet a deadline. For the first time this week I am free to experience the warmth of the Son. For the first time I don’t have to watch the arms if the clock while praying. So I resolve that this year I will make sure that I have regular times like these where I can be alone so that I will not be lonely…