Sunday, December 30, 2007

What will 2008 hold ?

As the year 2007 ends with some more blood on the streets and political assasination, what will 2008 hold ? Some might end 2007 and start the year 2008 in festivities and a terrible hangover, yet, we need also have a time of quiet reflection. Maybe the key question is not What will 2008 hold, but, who will hold 2008? And then, of course the obvious answer would be, Jesus Christ, or some others might answer, God. It however seems many times as if the people of faith are either the most gullable of the ideologies of despots at times and, on the other extreme the most fanatical (read: intolerant of difference). Hopefully we can learn from 2007and strive for more appreciation of our fiath, as a faith where we are called to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us and to turn the other cheek. Maybe we should learn from the One who's birth took place amongst the strangers from other cultures, amongst the lowly and amongst the animals, being an unwelcome homeless. Maybe we need to affirm this child, who nurtured as a refugee in Africa, fleeing the bloodthirsty empire of his day. Indeed, our hope lies hidden in the God, who came to bring peace/shalom/salaam on earth, it's the God who was born in the vulnerable baby, Jesus Christ, subverting the empires of Herod, Nero etc, right up to this current day despots purporting to be pulling the strings.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Congrats to our highschool graduates!

Fantastic to hear of the success of our learners, finishing highschool. It adds to the celebration when they're also engaged in ministry. Sometimes we as Christian parents hope and pray that our children become pastors and worshipleaders, i.e. that they serve in ministry fulltime. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact we need to keep on praying for more workers for the Kingdom. The point however is: how do we view the Kingdom? We also need to pray for more Christian students on our campusses, in the boardrooms, the recording studios, at cityhall. May our faithformation prepare them for public life, for public witness.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Peace on earth

May the earth community be blessed with the gift of Peace/Shalom/Salaam. May we as humanity recieve this gift as co-pilgrims on a journey, following humble signs of hope. Reggie

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Jody, more than an idol

Recent winner of MNET's talent search competition, Idols, Jody Williams, could be more then a pretty face and a song. Members of the Lighthouse Christian Church, share the exitement and surprise when the nation's starlet, was, last Sunday called to the pulpit and prayed for. Apparantly the family belongs to this church and her achievements seen as an opportunity for impacting young people positively. Indeed, there's possibly more to Jodie than meets the eye. We just pray that she is not abused and exploited in the entertainment and religious industries, alike. Just keep the Spirit, Jody.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Prayer for Jacob Zuma

In the light of the vote for Mr Jacob Zuma as President of the ANC, we as church are called to pray for the leaders of our country. Difficult as it might be, to understand the reasons behind this vote, we are reminded that the political rulers of our times are in the hand of God. The writer of the gospel of Luke makes it clear as he writes to a highranking official about the context of the birth of John and Jesus (Luk 1:5, 2:1-3) Indeed, the household of God is established in the midst of the regimes of political leaders and sometimes inspite of their decisions. What is however more significant is the song of a young women,Mary chosen to be the mother of the real ruler, Jesus, the Christ. She sings, 'With all my heart I praise the Lord, and I am glad because of God my Saviour.... The Lord has used his powerful arm to scatter those who are proud. He drags strong rulers from their thrones and puts huble people in places of power. God gives the hungry good things to eat, and sends the rich away with nothing.... (Luk 1:46-56). Whilst Mr Zuma is known for his singing and dancing, more then clear policy positions or alternatives, may we also pray for guidance, for peace and justice in our nation. Gods Christmas gift to the world is not new political leaders, but his promise as sung in the song of a poor, vulnerable young mother, hoping for the healing of the world.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Last days before (for ) Christmas ?

The consumer frenzy is picking up speed, but also the number of deaths on the road, fueled by alcohol and wreckless speed. This is indeed a serious indictment against Christianity, especially in a country that brags about the fact that 70-80% of her people adhere to the Christian faith. How do we salvage this situation, where the meaning of the season of advent is so seriously subverted? It seems to be possible that the current threat of government to 'take away' the current public holidays of Christmas and Easter should be revisited to look fundamentally at the role of these in our public and personal lives. The confluence of our summer holidays and Christian seasons of spiritual renewal and commitment seems to work at our loss. Followers of Jesus Christ should, like him, be countercultural, not conformist to or handmaidens of the predatory systems of the time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Praying for the election of the next presidential candidate for the ANC

I received this from a colleague in ministry. Maybe we could find a lot of differences in terms of the theology and biblical interpretation, but we can never underestimate the power of prayer and faith. Indeed, our faith must have public consequences, otherwise it's dead. So, lets heed to the call for prayer in this time in our nation. The call reads as follows:

Thoughts and words of fear, confusion, anger and condemnation are currently at the rampart in the hearts and minds of both believers and unbelievers concerning the election of the next presidential candidate for the ANC. It is most likely that the same person will also become the next president of South Africa. I was most encouraged by Deuteronomy 3:11 where Israel was to face king Og of Bashan, a remnant of the giants of their time. In the early verses of this chapter, the victory over this giant king was clear after Israel cried out to God to help them. After the battle took place, Israel took all his cities, they utterly destroyed the people living in these cities, and they took all the livestock and spoil of these cities as booty for themselves, because the favour of the Lord was with them. The land was distributed among the people.

During the past months, the giants of our time namely; corruption, crime, violence and many more are lurking at our doorpost, ready to consume us. Yet, the promise of God is clear even for us as Believers in Jesus Christ today as it was then for Israel: Dt.3:2: Do not fear him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand…. Let us therefore not be discouraged by the words of people, by media reports or anything else. With God, nothing is impossible.

Still, it is important to realise that our personal relationship with God must be pure and holy in order to intercede about this and other situations in urgent need of prayer in our country. Our hands and hearts have to be clean from corruption, from crime, from speaking evil, from deceit etc. we have to intercede from pure hearts or our prayers may not have the impact we want! It is only the effective and fervent prayers of a righteous man that avails much (Jas.5:16).

What am I to do?
Will you not consider over the next days to fast and pray about this issue in our country.

• Humble yourself before the Lord, making yourself available towards Him in willingness to do the work of prayer needed for these issues.
• Ask God to purify your own heart and show you those things you personally need to correct in your relationship with Him and others.
• Then start to intercede for the situation in our country.
• Cry out for the hearts of the people to return to God. That He will give them a heart to know Him, that He is the LORD; and they will become His people, and for Him to be their God, that they will return to God with their whole heart (Jer.24:7).
• Ask for the foundations of God's throne, namely righteousness and justice, truth and faithfulness, grace and mercy, to be established in the hearts and minds of those currently running for obtaining leadership to rule in our country (Ps.89:14; 97:2).
• Ask for the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, for His counsel and might, for His knowledge and the fear of God to come upon each one in government (Is.2:11).
• Ask for their spiritual eyes to be opened to recognise the true spiritual fight, and to choose life and not death (Dt.30:19).
• Ask that God will put a spirit of intercession upon His church at this time, so they will pray with an undivided heart for the purposes of God to prevail amidst the onslaught of unrighteousness and injustice (Eph.3:10).
• Ask God to give you a heart of compassion for those you pray for, that you may see them through His eyes.
• Let us cry out to God without ceasing for the salvation of the people we pray for – this will make all the difference and turn a multitude of others to follow Jesus Christ as Saviour.

The following is a prayer taken from different Scripture references to pray over government. Take time daily to proclaim Scripture over the lives and situations that trouble your heart and mind. Encourage others to do the same. The Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account (Heb.4:12-13). It is also true that the Word of God never returns to Him void, but it shall accomplish what He please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which He sends it (Is.55:11). Let us trust the God to whom we pray that He will accomplish it according to His will and purpose what we pray for.

Proclamation focus: Governments
Praise be to Your Name o God for ever and ever; wisdom and power belong to You. You change times and seasons; You set up kings and deposes them. You give wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. You reveal deep and hidden things; You know what lies in darkness, and light dwells with You (Dn.2:20-22).

Father, with prayers, intercession and thanksgiving we come before Your throne for the ruling party, our government, and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness - for this is good, and pleases You God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1Tim.2:1-4). Our rulers’ hearts are in Your hand, Lord; direct it like a watercourse wherever You please (Pr.21:1). Remove the wicked councillor from the presence of our government leaders, the president to be elected, ministers and other officials, and establish our government through righteousness (Pr.25:5). May this government rule through justice so that we can have stability in this country. Take greed from their hearts and protect them from taking bribes (Pr.29:4). Let our government deal honestly and with fairness towards the poor (Pr.29:14).

Show the upcoming president, the cabinet and all government officials what is good and what You require from them. Work in their hearts to work justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly in Your presence (Mic.6:8). Therefore, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ we proclaim: You kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling (Ps.2:10-11). Lord God, fill the hearts of our rulers with love and faithfulness that will keep them safe and in this way we will have security and peace (Pr.20:28). Will You send Your Holy Spirit into our government buildings and places where our rulers gather, pass laws and make decisions, to convict of sin, righteousness and judgement? (Jn.16:8-11).

Father we know that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph.6:12). As the church we pray for our government for protection against the powers of this dark world and that they will not be involved in witchcraft, idolatry or any form of occultism. Have mercy on us. We pray that they will submit themselves to You. As the church, we resist the devil where he tries to attack, ensnare and deceive the government (Jas. 4:7). Father, the weapons that You gave us, are not the weapons of the world - they have divine power to demolish strongholds, even demonic strongholds. In the Name of Jesus Christ we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2Cor.10:4-6).

We pray for a church that will prophetically preach the Word to the government: a church that will be prepared in season and out of season to correct, rebuke and encourage; that the church will do it with great patience and careful instruction (2Tim.4:2).

Bennie Mostert

Nativity Story Movie

This movie takes the story from a different refreshing angle- the fears, struggles and violent context of Mary, as she is to give birth to Jesus, the Christ. This has a human sensitivity and feel to it, however, it does not minimize the power of the divine. It indeed highlights the fact that God's incarnation takes places in the context of human history- with all its vulnerabilities, yet brutality. I am, however still uncomfortable with the immeasurable sacrifices that mothers and babies had to make in the face an empire... so typical of the current empires, in their quests for power, territory and wealth.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pool champion-Deon van Boomen

Our resident sports fanatic and champ at virtually any sport, Deon van Boomen, aka Narra, yesterday added Pool to his collection of accolades. He was crowned (the unofficial !) pool champ of the Board. Maybe the competition did not live up to the expectations, but still it takes a true champ to finish of some of the most seasoned of players. He was however toppled, right at the death, by non other then Chris.

add Nu-Metro to the list

Proving the point of making sure of the campaigns you get yourself in at our previous post, we have been found wanting.. The anonymous sender of the sms got it wrong: It's not only Sterkinekor that shows the movie, but also Nu-Metro.. Don't know which moviehouse is left to watch any other movies.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Golden Compass -to boycott Sterkinekor or not to boycott Sterkinekor

I (also) received the text message or SMS((Short Message Service), calling us Christians to boycott Sterkinekor. It reads "Staam saam en boikot Sterkinekor wat Golden Compass wys. 'n Fliek waarin 2 kinders God doodmaak sodat hulle kan doen wat hul wil. Dit terwyl ons Jesus se geboorte vier !. Rapport het geluister. As ons saamstaan sal Sterkinekor ook moet luister ! Stuur asb aan soveel as moontlik mense". This is basically a call to stand together as Christians and boycott Sterkinekor, our movie house who show this movie (as from today, 07 Dec 2007). The question is: should I support this campaign and forward this SMS ? Should I boycott the movie itself and still support Sterkinekor? This is a valid question for us a Christians, but more pertinently for us as parents.

Steve Hayes on his blog, Khanya, wrote a very informative article, with many links. He quotes an article by Ian Jacobs, professor of English at Wheaton College, called The Devil's Party, in substantiating his argument that the boycott of The Golden Compass is ill-timed and ill-considered. I agree with him that we as Christians, should not simply blindly follow a call, when we haven't familiarized ourselves with what we fight against. As mature adults and thinking Christians (right?), we maybe should not shy away from critically engaging the productions of media, arts and culture that is contrary to our belief system, or those that aim to contradict Christianity, whatever their perception of it might be. On these matters we should engage, intelligently and faithfully. But then, the target of this SMS is the company, Sterkinekor( like it was Rapport in the case, referred to in the SMS)

There is therefore another side to the story, namely that we should also guard what we expose our children to. That's not only the point of age restrictions by the Publications Commission, but also our covenant to nurture our children in a particular environment ( worldview). At some point, they will come to be able to themselves, evaluate and discern between life-worlds and ethical choices. They should not become mere (blind) consumers of whatever product that (not only) Philip Pullman, in his hatred towards the Christianity of his time and towards CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, spews out. To repackaged this 'spiritual battle' and sell it, simply to make money out of children and the rest, is reckless, yet, so familiar in our consumerist society.

Therefore, there also comes a time where we also have to engage the industries of media and entertainment, to confront their totalitarian devotion to the gods of money, irrespective. This is a critical Christian calling, especially in the season of Advent, which has become a hedonistic celebration of materialism, contrary to the poor baby, outside the 'decked halls'

Monday, December 03, 2007

16 days of activism against abuse and HIV/AIDS

Dr Sipho Senabe, key thinker in the current process of drafting national policy on HIV/AIDS in our government gave a succinct. but deep analysis of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in his sermon, yesterday. He noted that despite the stories of hope, there remains a lot of hard work and thinking ahead. This is a challenge that will remain with us for some time. What was of interest was the way he linked the prevalence and upward curve in the spread of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa to, what he called key drivers. He focussed on one namely the unequal power relations in the homes, in churches, in our communities, but also in the bedrooms. Linking this to the mission of Jesus, as captured in Luke 4:18 we are challenged to cultivate communities that address the oppressive violence against women and children, communities that stand with the vulnerable, that support them in resisting unprotected sexual intercourse and toxic relationships that keeps the spreading of this disease. Indeed, there remains hard work, but also hope.

Our stories