Showing posts from 2020

Are you going to church or watching TV?

Since the national lockdown was implemented in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, most churches in South Africa have been offering online ministry to their members.I am fully aware that the Church is not a building, but for the purpose of this blog post, I am specifically referring to church worship services. We have all become accustomed to a new way of going to church over the past several months. Many churches are offering online worship services that people can tune into via YouTube, Facebook or other streaming services.There are many benefits to having church services this way. I hope that churches will continue to utilise the internet to reach God's people in the future as well.But I also believe that by attending worship services online at our convenience, there is a danger of seeing our faith as something that is done for us, rather than something that we get to partake in ourselves.It is easy and comfortable to tune in to an online worship service at a time that s…

The downfall of a star-gazing faith

A night sky full of stars is a beautiful sight to behold.
These days, because of the light from cities, many people do not often get an opportunity to experience this beauty (although thanks to Eskom we might have more chances than we would like!)
In order to truly experience the majesty of the night sky, you need to find the perfect spot and you need to be willing to gaze patiently for a good amount of time. You need to let your eyes adjust fully to what you are looking at. The true beauty of star-gazing comes to the forefront when you sit patiently in complete darkness, identifying the many constellations and spotting shooting stars and passing satellites. 
Many Christians experience their faith in a similar way to star-gazing. They separate their spiritual and secular life. They will go to church on a Sunday, read their bibles and pray - all of which are seen as spiritual things, but then they will "readjust" their vision when they are at work, or school, or doing any other …

Everyday Heroes

In a world that is so overwhelmed with evil and corruption, I am sure many of us wish that we were living in a fictional world where literal superheroes existed. How great would it be if we could call on a superhero to come and fix all of our problems? Unfortunately, we are unlikely to see a literal superhero fly in and save the day by defeating the villains of our story. But that does not mean that heroes do not exist in our world today.One of the reasons that the biblical stories appeal to me so much is because they remind me that ordinary people can be heroes too. They might not look like the superheroes that we have come to know and love in movies and books, but they live heroic lives of honour and valour.Every time that a person assists a widow, or stands up for a person's rights, or helps alleviate poverty and hunger, or brings a criminal to justice, I believe that heroism is taking place.As much as there are people bringing destruction and corruption into the world, there a…

The highs and lows of lockdown ministry

It has been five months since my last blog post. This has been the longest break that I have taken since I began Harmony of Grace three years ago. 
When our church in Bethlehem decided to close our Sunday services back in March, I committed to sending out daily audio devotions over Whatsapp and Facebook. This has taken up a lot of my time and effort so I decided to take a break from posting written blog posts during this time. 
While researching and writing a new article for SUMag recently, I realised how much I missed writing. I am excited to announce that I am going to be posting regular blog posts to this page once again. 
I will continue to send out daily audio devotions until our church is able to meet again. If you have not been receiving these and you would like to then please like our church's FaceBook page here: Bethlehem Methodist Church.
This past week, I sent out my hundredth audio devotion and recorded my twenty-seventh online service. It has been a roller coaster ride an…

Returning to the real world

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

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

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

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.

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

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 …