Tag Archive: Christianity

Yes, Christianity can be confusing.

Yes, a lot of bad things have been done and called Christianity that were not.

But at the heart of it all, when Jesus was asked, He summed the whole thing up as ‘Loving God, Loving people.’

If you’re not that, you’re not following Jesus.

[For the next 50 word blog post on Forgiveness, click here]

my interview with local-born muso nick groves continues…

Q:In the one track i listened to i’m pretty sure i heard some white-man-rap? guest artist or mister nick groves branching out? and where’d that come from? [i was secretly pretty impressed]

A: πŸ™‚ …I’ve always enjoyed poetry – mostly at high school – song writing flows out of that but rap is the modern day poem. (After all – it an abbreviation for Rhythm And Poetry). What got me exited about rap recently was that it allows you the ability to express and explore an issue or theme in a deeper way than songwriting, I think the rhyme and the space gives the hearer a feeling like he is going on a journey, and thats why I think its one of the most popular genres out there, and it doesn’t have to be all “GANGSTA” to be rap. Think of Eminem’s “lose yourself” or some Lily Allen, JayZ, Linkin Park- it really allows you to feel whats being said- its almost like a good preach that has the ability to transport you to a new emotion or thought.

The song you have in mind is probably the track “Rise”- I got into a rap groove as I had a week earlier done my first rap song for fun, and that song just came out of me.

For me that song was really personal – I’ve been going through a really difficult time lately- probably the worst time of my life. My dad is currently lying in Hospice, in the last stages of bone cancer; I tried to help out a dude who was in need and got burnt; and I decided to look at the perseverance of Jesus for some inspiration. I might do some more sometime- the song gave me a good way to get everything off my chest. It’s my first shot at it, watch this space.

Q:what are your thoughts/feelings when it comes to worship music? quite a general question but i imagine when someone hears ‘worship music’ they think ‘ah the 30 minute music time in the church’ – do you think it’s bigger than that at all? what makes music worship-full?

A: Well I think its fair to equate “worship music” with church music, but it is bigger than that and like you say – the big question is: “Is this worship-full?” I think generally worship music will always help us in the cause of making God bigger and ourselves smaller in our hearts and minds – the whole John the Baptist thing “He must increase, I must decrease”. The call of scripture is “O magnify the Lord”. So I would say real “worship-full” worship music always will help us aim in this direction. The biggest factor for me is the work of The Holy Spirit – He enables us to worship God, He loves to help us exalt Jesus. The bible says “No one can say Jesus is Lord, except by The Spirit”- we need to depend on Him to help us to make our worship to God authentic and powerful, enabling us to get caught up with who God is, no matter what situation we are in.

Q:And when it comes to your music, what would you say is the groven factor? what sets your music apart from other peoples – ie why should people listen to yours? or what aspect of it do you think or hope will appeal to people?

A: At the moment, Im still jumping around into different genres- from the worship stuff to the rap and more recently the instrumentals. So in that regard, I haven’t really stuck into one type of style yet, and I’m far from doing my best work. But I hope my “X factor” its will be that what I create influences people in a positive way, and at best – brings people into a fresh perspective of who God is. I hope that what I create will always be honest about life and God’s involvement in it. Someone said once that a friend is made when you end up saying, “what, you too? I thought I was the only one!” and sometimes, when musicians are honest in their work, that kind of connection can be made with the listener.

Q:two more questions, one music related, who or what would you say your influences are when it comes to writing a new song? other bands or experiences?

A: I would say its more important as a musician to write from experience simply because its always going to make your art more “younique” and thats what people want to hear- but at the same time, I always get inspiration from what guys are doing – from the creativity of a 3 piece band like “Future of Forestry” to the musical genius of “MuteMath”. I always look for something honest and excellent that leaves you feeling what the artist is saying.

In a church setting, the creativity and expression of a guy like Matt Redman has been massive on my life. He is still one of my greatest heros. Lyrically a guy like Matt Kearney is huge, Mute Math are also great lyrically.
But the real beauty is releasing something beautiful through a personal experience. Nothing can top that. We are all originals and limited editions. Thats where the real creativity lies.

Q:and then lastly, what is your understanding of the church? and where do you see the role of music as a part of that, if at all?

A: Friedrich Nietzsche, a pioneer of atheism was quoted saying: “They would have to sing better songs for me to learn to have faith in their Redeemer”β€” Its always stuck with me.

I think the church (when I say this, I mean something bigger than a Sunday gathering) has yet to come into a place of prominence in creativity in the world where people can peer in and see amazing creativity reflecting who God is- the most creative being in the world. We’ve seen it here and ther (a lot of American christian artists like Kari Jobe/Jesus Culture are now topping even secular charts!) Guys like Phil Keaggy have been pointed to as the the greatest guitarist in the world. There must be more on the way.

Its sad to think that Nietzsche wrote off Christianity based on the lack of creativity he saw. Imagine what the world would have been like if he saw something different.

And when it comes to Sundays: if the lyrics and music doesn’t point to the excellence and wonder of God, then its time to gather all the creative people and ask God to revive us again that we might reflect the beauty of the one who made everything, and loves everyone.

[thankx so much Nick – to hear the music behind the man head over to www.facebook.com/pages/nick-groves/28272426239 and please pass the link on]

hee hee, i kept the part ii in cos it will drive some people made wondering whatever happened to part i but basically i stumbled upon this lady’s blog on the part ii of her post and it really made a lot of sense and i liked it a lot, so go check it out…

and if you want to do so then clicking here is one of the easiest ways to do so…

why i hate cars

cars are stupid – i can prove it – they have been used to kill people – drunk drivers in cars have recklessly taken thousands of innocent lives in our country alone – old cars get rusty and dangerous because people often can’t afford to give them proper maintainence and take them off the road when they should go – don’t get me started on woman drivers – or men drivers – in fact we have broken it down to this very generalised generalisation – that when women drivers drive badly it is because they drive badly (or on occasion too carefully and slowly and so cause accidents) – when men drive badly it is because they drive recklessly (usually too fast and without taking decent enough consideration of others) – i have had a number of really bad experiences with cars even just this week (overtaking on the left up a hill when there was one lane, taxi overtaking four cars in one go on a solid white approaching a corner, countless people driving right up my bum metaphorically speaking, and so on…) – a car killed one of my friends in school on his eighteenth birthday when he went out for a cycle – cars break down and cost so much money in repairs (money that could be better spent on the poor and needy) – people have been highjacked and raped and murdered in cars – my uncle drowned when his car went off the road and into a river – and i could go on and on about bad things down by car, in cars, in the name of cars…

on the other hand, i have found that when i drive my car properly it gets me from one place to another, i can use it to give other people lifts, i have had some cool chatting times to the beautiful val in the car, i have driven kids to camps and visited people in hospital and offered complete strangers a ride and and and…

and all this is not really about cars at all, but about the church and Christ-ianity… just because stoopid people have done stoopid (and hurtful, and abusive, and racist, and damaging, and thoughtless, and and and) things in, through and with church and in the name of God or a specific denomination or the church, doesn’t make it a bad or stupid or useless or ineffective or abusive thing – it just means stoopid is as stoopid does

because i have seen the church in action and i have seen Godly men and women doing incredible revolutionary life-transforming things in the name and through the power of God and His Holy Spirit – i have seen people fed and clothed and visited and prayed and cared for and xenophobia-attacked people welcomed in and looked after and and and…

we watched a panel do some talking around the theme of globalisation yesterday and i jotted down some interesting lines and thorts on my phone while it was happening:

with globalisation there are three stages we need to go through:

– we need to discern
– we need to assess
– we need to engage

is it right or wrong, it is good or bad, is it useful or useless – too often as the church we can throw the whole thing out instead of taking the time to go through those three steps and see where we can get involved and make the most of what is happening in the world – Jesus often used the context around Him (fish, children, people putting money into the offering) to teach His audience – when it comes to globalisation, the scope is vast and so both throwing out and holding onto everything is going to have negative results – but discerning, assessing and then engaging is going to be valuable, productive and effective

one of the speakers said that one of the needs during globalisation is for the rest of the world (specifically the south, where the shift of power is happening – india, china and africa and so on) to go to the west and help them win back the west [for so long there has been the mindset of the west going out to save/help/reach and now the reality is that the west contains some of the biggest need, especially when it comes to the gospel and living it out]

there is too much world in the church [and not enough church in the world] – one person in my small group said it like this quoting DL Moody – the church is like a boat has been made to be on the water – but heaven help the people in the boat once the water starts coming in to the boat – the two extremes here are becoming too isolated and becoming too worldly and the church has been guilty of both in different areas – our national vineyard conference recently met with the theme of ‘taking the church out of the building’ and i really believe that is a huge key to the future – links strongly with the split between sacred and secular [that actually if we include/invite/involve God in every aspect of our lives then everything is or should be spiritual] – we need to be infecting the world and not the other way around

lots of churchianity, not enough Christ-ianity…

then three aspects of the gospel that need to be happening:

– we need to believe the gospel
– we need to behave the gospel (live it out)
– we need to bear the gospel (take it out)
– and a fourth would be that it is a Biblical gospel

which links to the vision statement of lausanne which is ‘the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world’

another statement that was made was this: never before in the west have we had so much (stuff, toys, technology, opportunity) – never before have we had so little (depth, genuine relationship, life-transformation)

one of the problems of Christianity in the west is that it has been pitched as a product to buy – it never shows as discipleship because it never was truth – is there any surprise that we don’t live any differently to the world – what can i get out of this? how does it make me feel? how does it change me? a religion that is me-centered as opposed to a relationship that revolves completely around God that i am privileged to be an active participant in

one of the keys is that we need to be making disciples rather than converts – and even taking it a step further – we need to be making disciplers, rather than just disciples

another point which ties in with globalisation and this discussion on church is a statement John Fisher made at a breakfast recently when he was talking about his love of the church and he said we don’t need uniformity, we need unity – that is one of the biggest things that if we could get right, we would see the world changed…

‘a theist believes in at least one god, but denies the existence of many gods’ [the skeptic’s dictionary]

whereas an atheist denies the existence of god completely

and ‘at heist’ is just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but that’s not important now…

a theist and an atheist – so vastly different and yet the difference between them is nothing… or ‘a space’ to be more precise…

[disclaimer: oh and by the way, this is one of those blogs that is more for me than for you – i am writing to think my thorts out loud, to process them, to do it publically in case anyone else is thinking/wrestling/engaging about the same kind of stuff, but i am not looking for answers, so please keep those to yourself – i am not asking you to solve anything – i am merely trying to process what is going on in my head, and maybe cause you to think a little]

i have worked as a pastory type guy at the stellenbosch vineyard church for almost 6 years now – in that time i have seen two christian guys become atheists – it’s kinda weird that to go from a theist to an atheist you have to lose the gap as opposed to creating one – it feels like it should be the other way around…

so if you were to be an outside evaluator of my work you would see that i started out with two christians and finished up with two atheists – i don’t think i’d score that well in pastoring school… and i know that i didn’t change them (i hope i didn’t change them) but it happened under my watch so to speak [which is ridiculous cos i don’t have a watch, except on my cellphone but to say it happened under my cellphone gets very confusing because it’s not that big a phone] and i didn’t have the answers or the proof or the experience to stop it from happening and so a part of me feels like it may as well have been my doing

[there are others who have been a part of our community in these last years who have moved away from God or christianity or both and that disturbs me as well, but to become an atheist is a step towards something, rather than just a step away from something, which is a lot easier to do]

so it does bother me in an i-failed kind of way to some kind of extent – i have something, my faith, my relationship with God, the purpose that gives me life – that is most-of-the-time so incredibly absolutely whole-heartedly real to me and even tho i don’t always understand it or have a complete explanational grasp of it, it is the very core of my being – and i have been unable to communicate or demonstrate or pass that on to these two guys in an adequate enuff way that had them going ‘this-is-real-this-is-for-me’ and that has to bug me, to frustrate me, to dishearten me. it has to. because i obviously believe that what i believe is truth and within that also lies the believed consequence for someone who doesn’t believe that (both when they die but even hugely now) and that should cause me great concern, and does…

but it’s not going to cripple me. it’s not going to knock me off my horse (and not just cos unlike mr terblanche i don’t actually have a horse, i have a rocking horse, but it’s a metaphorical one, and purely for aesthetics). i think i’ll be okay.

really? and why is that you may ask? [or i may go ahead and ask for you] – Because Jesus was okay with it!

there is a passage in luke i think it is (maybe john) where Jesus preaches a bit of a tough message and a whole bunch of His followers find it too strong a message and so they leave… and He lets them. and then turns to His disciples and asks them, “What about you? Are you also going to leave?” to which Peter replies, “Where shall we go? Only You have the words of Truth.” [And for me, that is a lot of the bottom line – i have struggles with some aspects of christianity, i don’t understand a lot of the Bible and how God works or doesn’t seem to work sometimes, but i have identified Jesus as having the words of Truth, it is in my gut and i cannot shake it and have not come close to hearing any other kind of more believable truth anywhere else]

then there is the story of the rich young ruler and one of the most powerful phrases in the Bible to me because when you read the story of Jesus you get the idea that in His interaction with the man, He knows from the beginning that it’s not going to be successful in terms of gaining another follower – and yet there is this phrase – ‘Jesus looked at him and loved him.’ And the rich young ruler walks away from Jesus disappointed and empty-handed, because the cost of following Jesus (all your stuff, I want you, and everything else you have made more important than Me in your life) is too much for him. And Jesus lets him go.

i don’t doubt for a second that the moment any one of those original followers or the rich young ruler had a change of heart and recognised Who Jesus really was and returned to Him and asked once again to be allowed to follow, that He would have instantly and with much joy received them back.

but He wasn’t going to chase them down to have them ‘follow’ Him for the sake of having extra followers… He wanted those who followed Him to be genuine. to believe (and even in the way of the father of the demon-possessed kid who, when Jesus challenged him, responded with, ‘I do believe – help me overcome my unbelief!” – that’s often my cry in certain areas of my faith at least). not to not have doubts, but to overcome their doubts (which is faith! – it doesn’t mean you don’t doubt, it just means the doubt doesn’t knock you down and leave you there)

and so i haven’t given up on these guys. i hope we will remain friends. i will pray for them. i will chat to them anytime they want to chat, and listen to them on their journey and hope that they will listen to me on mine. i won’t try and convert them (or unconvert them? reconvert?) but i hope we’ll still get to hang and play Settlers and whatever else comes along.

i do hope they will continue to challenge their beliefs now that they have walked away from one set. and not just settle for another because it is convenient. continue to wrestle guys, continue to question, hopefully continue to seek because God does say if you seek Me you will find Me and seeking meaning in the world always leads you to God at some stage. always. because He is the way and the Truth and the Life – it doesn’t take you believing it to make it true.

an atheist denies the existence of god completely

a theist believes in at least one god, but denies the existence of many gods

just add rice

i am not usually drawn into current world events to the extent that i research them and get quite involved – altho i do iafrica.com every day to keep up with what is happening in world, local, sporting and entertainment events – but for some reason this anne rice story has been following me – i found three links on her facebook page which i think are worth reading [while i ‘get’/understand a lot of what she is saying i don’t agree with it all but i wanted to be able to look at the different perspectives honestly as opposed to just posting the bits i like]

the first i think is an excellent response from a guy called anthony horvath which i thoroughly encourage you to read:

the second is a guy called Michael Rowe who expresses a lot of the stuff really well too altho i don’t agree with everything he says, he does hit some things firmly on the head

and the third is an interview she did after her big announcement which shows where she stands on a bunch of stuff and which i certainly don’t agree completely with, but it gives us insight into where she is which i think is good

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