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Showing posts from 2020

Returning to the real world

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Last week, I wrote about visiting sacred spaces where we are instantly more aware of God's presence with us. You can read that post here: Sacred Spaces

It is great to withdraw to the Sacred Spaces in our lives where we best encounter God. Unfortunately, it is not possible to stay there forever.

In the story of Jesus’ transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9), Peter wants to set up tents on the mountain to prolong his sacred encounter. Peter was the first of many to try and make his sacred space more permanent.

When I was sitting on the mountain at the minister's retreat two weeks ago, I would have loved to have stayed in that moment for hours. However, it was starting to get dark and I had another session to get back to.

As much as we would like to, no-one gets to stay on the mountain forever. All of us that meet with God in “Sacred Spaces” have to eventually return to the real world.

Often, the real world is not a nice place to be. There is much pain, heartbreak and evil waiting for …

Sacred Spaces

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Earlier this month, I attended a minister's retreat in Modderpoort near Ladybrand. We stayed at a beautiful old Anglican Monastery.

Most of the days were filled with meetings, but one afternoon we were given a few hours of free time to do as we pleased. I decided to go and explore the surrounding mountains after receiving a tip from another minister about some ancient cave paintings that could apparently be found nearby.

Unfortunately, after the recent rains that the area had been experiencing, the path up the mountain was overgrown and not easy to navigate. I spent way longer than necessary traversing up the side of the mountain, often veering off the path and needing to track back to a previous point.

I walked for close to an hour with no sign of getting closer to my desired destination. I was about to turn around and make the treacherous trek back down the mountain when I walked through a clearing and was faced with intriguing caves and the most stunning rock paintings that I h…

The value of a re-read

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For the past few years, because of the theological studies that I have been doing, I have been required to read many books from a wide variety of authors. Many of these books have been enriching to my personal spiritual life. Others, while interesting and valuable, were much more difficult to get through.
Because of all this required reading, I have neglected reading books that nourish my soul. "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." - C.S. Lewis I have recently been uplifted by re-reading one of my all-time favourite books, Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. While certainly not perfect, this book has always held a special place in my heart.

As I read through the familiar words, I was reminded of the first time I experienced God's grace in those pages. I actually found myself tearing up as I was overwhelmed by an incredible sense of God's love for me.
I believe that it is important to read as widely as possible, including authors whose beli…

A playful relationship

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My wife and I welcomed two new members into our family in December. Frankie and Cooper are two lively labrador puppies that love to play. They keep us entertained for hours on end, constantly demanding our attention with their playful nature.

Richard Rohr speaks about our relationship with God as a divine dance. I love this analogy. It implies that our relationship with Christ can and is meant to be playful. As Christ-followers, we are able to be playful with God just as our labrador puppies are with us.

We try to take our puppies to a field near our house on most evenings for them to stretch their legs and play fetch with us. They are usually well-behaved and return to us when we call them.

However, this past week, while we were playing at the field, a group of people cycled past and our dogs got completely distracted from us. They chased after the cyclists and no matter what we tried to get their intention, they would not listen. Within seconds, they were not only out of earshot bu…

A smile is a good place to start.

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I have been living in Bethlehem for a month and a half. Naturally, every other person has asked me how I have been enjoying my time here so far.

My first response is always to express how welcome I have felt from the first moment that I entered this community

I have spent some time considering this response. Is it something that I have been saying to make people feel good about the way that they have treated me or is it a genuine feeling?

Moving to a new place is daunting. The community that I have entered into has a long history of relationships that have been in place for a long time. Trust has been earned and friendships have been built. Most communities are comfortable with what they know and they do not want new people to come in and upset the apple cart.

It is natural to worry about whether you are going to be welcomed into a community that already has strong bonds in place. I have no doubt that the Bethlehem community had their own concerns about a new minister coming in and p…

Rushing into New Beginnings

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Life is full of new beginnings. Even when one chapter ends, another begins. Often, new beginnings are so exciting that we tend to rush into them without taking time to reflect on the journey before.

Effective preparation involves two aspects: reflection and planning.
“Improving your future requires study of the past; we learn traveling through life and especially from mistakes that provide lessons we should not repeat.”
- Gandolfo (1983) At the end of every season, the best sports teams spend much time reflecting on the previous year. What went wrong? What did we do well? Where did we make mistakes? What could we have done better? After these questions have been asked, they can then plan ahead to improve on their performances the following season.

Similarly, successful businesses consolidate their previous year's financial statements before drawing up a budget for the following year. If they rushed ahead and planned their future budget before reflecting on the last year, they run …