Tag Archive: enGAGE

i feel like the previous few Easters have kind of passed me by with not too much impact – being the easily recognised dreadlock wearing Easter Bunny at the Simple Way is all i can remember and i’m not sure where i was the year before but in the middle of preparation to leave for the Simple Way and so life was a fair bit chaotic…

the last Easter that comes to mind was when my good buddy Mark Baker encouraged us to watch ‘The Passion of the Christ’ by Mel Gibson with our Sunday nite enGAGE congregation in Stellenbosch. i feel like i might have initially done it more to humour him than because i thought it was a good idea, but remember being powerfully affected again by the very violent depiction of Jesus’ flogging and death [i really feel like the cross can become this fluffy comfortable symbol we hold to but lose all meaning of if we forget the very violence and real sacrifice it depicts]

the stations of the cross

so as we started heading towards Easter in Oakland i really wanted it to be meaningful and so spent some time this week reading the end of John’s Gospel and some of Jesus’ last acts, words and prayers. last nite we jumped at the chance to join some new friends of ours to head to a church for a ‘stations of the cross’ experience where we walked around in small groups [we joined a family of five with three cool young kids] and then read scripture, reflected and did an action and a prayer connected to different aspects of Jesus last week leading up to His death.

i find it interesting that when the one station invited us to kiss the figure of Jesus on the cross [i chose not to] that it felt more weird for me than later when we were asked to spit at the figure of Jesus on the cross [i chose not to do that either, but more following the lead of Val] – as if the betrayal hidden behind a kiss seems somehow so much worse than the outwardly open betrayal of showing your true colours through spitting.

[i wonder if that is because i can’t think of any time in my life when i have outwardly or openly joined the crowd in being against Jesus in any way or form, but there are countless times where my innocent looking actions have shown a deeper betrayal in what has been going on in my heart or somewhere else behind the scenes. a subtle hypocritical betrayal somehow feels so much worse… and so time and time again i hear the cock crow and have that moment of looking up and seeing Jesus’ eyes pierce through me as i realise once again i have done that which i said i never would, and i end up behind a wall somewhere crying out as Jesus is lead once more to the cross by my actions]

Pilate washes his hands

Pilot’s washing of his hands affected me deeply as it did my wife Val [which you can, and should, read here] as i took it on myself to explain it to the children who were with us, specifically Kayla, the oldest daughter. the idea of “making no decision” because the decision you know you should make has consequences which just feel too extreme for you. being reminded that ‘making no decision’ is always making a decision.

apartheid. racism. violence towards women. rape culture. discrimination. abortion. being reminded that ‘making no decision’ is always making a decision.

there are so many aspects to this story. i hope that you will make time this Easter time in the busyness of it all to slow down and choose a moment, or moments, to meditate on. and then reflect against the daily living out of your life. has what Jesus did on the cross affected your day to day life in any way, shape or form?

the story of this week, two thousand years ago, affects me on a daily basis. it is so good to be reminded of that. and to live it out well.

so kleinfrans (who isn’t so) asked me to post the 8 slash 9 oops points from last nite’s preach on joshua in my blog so here they are:

i started with deuteronomy 34 vs 10-12 dealing with the death of moses

i then read from joshua 1.1-9, 1.12-18, 2.1-21, 5.13-15 and 6.1-27

[1] don’t let the ghosts of the past cripple you – be you! [moses was described as being one of the greatest men that lived and no-one saw such powerful miracles happen again as he had performed – tough context for a new young leader like joshua to be faced with – but God didn’t want joshua to be another moses, he wanted him to be a solid joshua]

[2] meditate on the bible – ‘Be strong and very courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.’ [1.6-8]

one of the biggest shortfalls in the western church today is people not reading their bibles (and so the only bible they are exposed to is on a sunday if they are in a bible-preaching church) and people not knowing their bibles – how can we live the stuff if we don’t know what the stuff is? we need to be reading, chewing, wrestling, meditating, engaging with, living…

[3] play for the team – the Reubenites, Gadites and half-tribe of Manasseh were given land to the east of the jordan so they already had their land, but joshua calls the fighting men to join the rest of the israelites in crossing the jordan and claiming the land that was meant for them – only then could they return home and enjoy the benefit of the land that was already theirs – imagine the transformation that would happen in south africa if we refused a second jacket until everyone had one, if we refused a second meal… house… car… etc

[4] don’t look down on who God chooses to use – in the story of jericho it is rahab the prostitute who God uses to help conceal the spies and God rescues her and her family as a result – in fact all through the Bible from king shepherd boy to gideon to some of the prophets to the disciples to paul, God uses an assortment of strange unqualified people to do the work of His kingdom – and it works because God is with/in them – useless by themselves but with God unstoppable. and not just the people who God chooses to use but possibly the person He is wanting you to impact – everyone gravitates towards the cool people, the rich, the popular – but if you listen honestly it may be the lonely, the sick, the imprisoned, those with HIV, the prostitute, that He is wanting you to reach

[5] spy out the land – preparation is good, it is important to be ready. even if God is going to be working the miracle of bringing His people into the promised land and defeating jericho, it still makes sense to plan well so you can do your bit properly – so moses sends spies into the promised land and joshua sends spies into jericho – understand the context of where you are and what God has called you to. if you as a Christ-follower are not reading the newspaper or checking out a site like iafrica.com (four local headlines, four international headlines, four sports, entertainment, social headlines every day) to have an idea of what is going on in the world (miners trapped in mine, koran-burning threats by ‘pastor’, big strikes across the country) so that you can engage with people around you who generally will know what is going on and have questions and comments worth listening to

[6] recognise God when He speaks – joshua encounters an angel just before the battle and falls facedown in reverence – he recognises when God has pitched up (or sent a messenger) and acts accordingly – are we looking around in our daily lives for where God is already at work and where maybe He wants us to jump in and connect and engage?

[7] don’t look down on weird methods – the people have to march around the city for seven days playing musical instruments and then issue a loud shout – that kind of activity is frowned upon as a modern method of warfare – but when God is in it, it is going to work. gideon attacks a crazy huge army with a small group of men armed with trumpets and candles. david takes on a giant military commando with a little sling and some stones. Jesus one time spits in a man’s eyes to heal him of blindness (on another occasion He simply speaks a word and the man is healed) – and so if God tells you to do something and it seems a bit weird, then maybe it still is God

[8] honour the word you have made – the spies make a deal with rahab that if she stays silent about their whereabouts and hangs a scarlet cord from her window, she and all her family will be kept safe. one of the biggest christian lies i have experienced is “i will pray for you” – i used to say it to people a long long time ago and i used to really mean it and i used to really forget half of the time. which is not good. we need to be people of our word. Jesus goes as far as saying don’t make promises because your word should be valid enough. so if you say “yes” then it’s a yes. period. the world has a picture of christians who say one thing and then do another.

[9] worship God: ‘The city and all that is in it is to be devoted to the Lord. Omly Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.’ [6.17-19]

And so in summing up, following Jesus on a daily basis and engaging with Him and God’s kingdom is like crossing the road:

[A] Look both ways – see what God is doing – understand the context – ask God to show you where He is at work and where He wants you to be involved

[B] Listen – let God speak to you through His word, through the quiet still small voice, through other people
– invite Him to speak and then give Him space to

[C] Cross the street – do it – do the thing you need to do – and when crossing the street it is imperative that you look after those who have been placed under your care to make sure everyone crosses safely – speak, live, thrive, be the church you want to see in the world.


last nite’s enGAGE church gathering was pretty rad – i could ‘do church’ like that every week i think

we knew we were going to have a smaller group (which for a small group can be daunting) cos of the student holidays and so i chatted to ronel who was worshippy leadering and she and arnie (no relation) chose to do some accoustic worship vibes which was great

then for sun nite when i’d been preparing during the week (preached a much fun sermon called ‘Cremora church’ based on the theme of ‘it looks like water, but it tastes like vinegar’ in the morning service already which went so well) i came to a point of wanting to read a couple of passages from the Message (paraphrase bible which i don’t normally use – my seriously breaking to pieces purple NIV being traditional weapon of choice) to hear the different way they are written to what we are used to, and actually nothing else

was concerned some people might think that’s “not good enuff for church” but am a lot beyond caring about that right now so decided that was all there was going to be and the passages i was looking at were psalm 23 (and later added 34 and carlo added 121 altho it did bring up some questioning about why exactly you need to be protected from moon stroke) and then the genesis 22 account of abraham taking isaac to be sacrificed, Jesus and the woman caught in sin, and then hebrews 12, 1 corinthians 13 (the love passage) and philippians 2

and so we sat in some kind of undefined non-circle with some people on chairs and some people sitting or lying on the ground and we sang some worship songs interspersed with prayer and the Message Bible readings and for me there was such a strong sense of the presence of God which i don’t often seem to feel and a real sense of people hungry and connecting and God being in it

it was church. it was great. i really think i could do that every week. mm.

so sunday nite i made a space for testimonies for people to share what God has been doing in their lives…

the second person who got up was a man named P (well not really, but let’s call him that for now) who i know pretty well from being around church and from having an amazing story of being homeless and God and the church bringing transformation in his life and so now he and often he and his wife gather with us for churching on sundays and he comes fairly often to enGAGE in the evenings

so he got up and shared a hectic testimony about his life over the last few years and his story of where he came from and how there was a guy threatening to rape his wife and this week he did and how P was able to deal with his anger and help get the guy caught by the police and a bunch of other stuff…

then this morning i find out in our staff meeting that there is actually another side of the story and that there have been some people in town walking a long (a few years) journey with him and that he is often lazy and doesn’t take the work he is offered (ranging from work in vineyards to leatherwork etc etc) and that at times he beats his wife and his kids and that the reason his kids were removed from him (part of the story last nite) was actually because of that and they don’t want anything to do with him – him and his wife were given a flat for 6 months or more and just completely didn’t take care of it and he hasn’t done a lot of the work he has been offered (in terms of being able to stay there) and so suddenly the story sounds a whole lot completely different

which is hard. and sucks. a lot.

tbV and i went a long way to help out a young suicidal homeless guy with a huge story a month or so ago and ended up buying him food and sponsoring him bus fare back home to his sister in mosselbay and waking up early in the morning to fetch him from the place we organised for him to sleep and he managed to call me in the morning when he needed a lift but never managed to make the call we asked him to make once he made it safely back to his sister and the number he gave us for his sister we never managed to get through on after numerous attempts

and it just makes it all very difficult to help – or even want to help – the next guy

but you have to. at least i think you do. or at the very least continue to take time to listen and hear the story and see if it is possible to help. we definitely can’t help everyone. but at the same time we definitely can’t not help anyone. and as i always say i would rather ultimately get ripped off for R20 or R200 bucks (especially with a good story – reward for creative story-telling i don’t mind paying for altho would help if we knew beforehand it was in the genre of fiction) than keep the money and risk not helping someone in serious need who does need the money (and i generally assume someone is probly going to spend the R20 or R200 better than i would anyways)

so curveball-ade it is…

i really enjoyed enGAGE (our sun evening congregation) tonite

i was away for two days this week so didn’t do my traditional thursday morning sermon prep and so yesterday (sat) i put some stuff together and it felt decent, but when i was looking over it today it suddenly clicked into place and i really felt super amped about it

and then when i was preaching tonite i just had a sense of God telling me not to hold back but to preach the powerful word powerfully

[a glimpse into the context of this is that the first sunday of this term about a month ago we had our biggest enGAGE meeting of the year – 40 something people, yeah tough year – and i challenged the okes on commitment as i was going to be looking at reaching out into the community and wanted to get some continuity from week to week – anyways next week we had 15 people, then 12, then 20-something, so not really sure what’s with the numbers – been having great times together, just few people been coming]

anyways i just really felt God saying i needed to preach His truth and not worry if people left because of it or cos i knew there were people in the congregation who wouldn’t be particularly amped to hear what i had to say…

and i did. and it wasn’t a particularly revolutionary message except in the fact that it was completely revolutionary

has felt for a while like the general population of enGAGE and maybe beyond enGAGE as well are in a bit of a ‘bleargh’ place in terms of life and God and just a bunch of apathy with regards to getting themselves out of it or being proactive at all – just kind of happy to stay in that space…

and the message in a nutshell was about the kingdom of God colliding with your life, and about the need for people to GYHOOYA (get your head out of your…), about God wanting your most precious thing (abraham’s isaac, the rich young man’s money/stuff), the response of Job (1.22) and David (after bathsheba son death as a result of his sin) to God in worship and the woman caught in sin to live worshipfully…

with the bottom line being that it is not all about you – it is ALL ABOUT GOD!

the point is – you can’t do it! the point is – you have nothing to give! and the point is that we have to die (john 12.23-24) to be of any use – we have to deny ourself and take up our cross and follow Him (luke 9.23-26) – that God chooses to use the weak and foolish (1 cor 1.26-31) to bring about His kingdom

and that when you are bleargh and apathetic and a little overwhelmed with life, then you need to read hebrews 12 (all of it) and verse 12 which says ‘strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees’ followed by ‘ make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.’

[and i’m not sure i understand what the writer was intending with that second verse cos it looks like part of it is a quote, but the way i understand it is that you need to make a level path for your feet – if the level path was made for the lame person it wouldn’t help cos they are still lame – so that you are able to get to them and bring healing to them]

and then verse 25 (in the context of really go and read the whole chapter) – SEE TO IT THAT YOU DO NOT REFUSE HIM WHO SPEAKS – powerful, powerful phrase… and it finishes off with 28 which says, ‘Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

i read and use hebrews 12.1-3 a lot and think that i have missed this end bit so much because of that, getting stuck in the beginning – which itself is incredible stuff – but this is a warning from God (coupled with warnings in matthew 7 – Lord, Lord, did i not do all this stuff in Your name? – and Revelation 3 – because you are neither hot nor cold I am going to spit you out – and a variety of other places

but finally, in and thru all of this, it is God who does the stuff – you’re weak? you’re unable? you’re bleargh? you’re apathetic? you’re overwhelmed? it is GOD who does it all – you just have to turn to Him – and…

‘Did you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.’

[isaiah 40.28-31]

see to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks…

so last week at enGAGE (sun eve congregation gathering at stellenbosch vineyard church) we had over 40 people there including a bunch of first-timers and roymond preached up an elijah storm in his first ever preach on the firetruck in the desert and your buckets capacity… at the start of the service i challenged the congregation to be more committed in terms of choosing to hang with us more regularly (attendance can be a bit sporadic at times) not wanting to make it a heavy ‘you-must-come-to-church’ vibe but also when i preach this term a series that build on each other it really helps to have people coming more regularly to get the whole journey as opposed to one or two of the pit stops

so last nite, once the worship team took their places – and we don’t have a worship team of 25 people – there were close to ten people left – from 40 plus to under 20 – great upping of commitment there – and so i was completely bummed

before then i was only partially bummed – we have a prayer time with the leaders and whoever wants to join us before the service and everyone felt so dead and withdrawn and no one was really praying or anything so i felt like God wanted me to pray for peoples amping and filling with the Holy Spirit and so i shared a bit of that and then said whoever wants God to fill them or up their amping please stand and i will pray for you – by then i was super amped to see God just pour Himself into people and really bring His joy and life and ampdness…

til no one stood – a room of 6 or 7 people and no-one seemed ampd to be ampd – and then one of the guys tried to cover over the awkwardness perhaps by making it into something else but i really felt strongly that this is what God was wanting to do and if no one is ampd then that’s fine but i really want to pray for anyone who does – my beautiful wife Val stood and i got to pray for her which was amazing – but again, no one else – and i’m sure people have their reasons and so on and that’s fine – i’m not judging them, but i’m just saying that i was super bummed…

and so during worship singing time i really didn’t know what to do because the preach i had prepared on engaging with those outside of the church seemed a bit random when there were only about 20 people inside the church and so i decided to lus my preach and instead share the anne rice/john ellis stuff that i’ve been blogging and thinking about – i started by saying how i know the pastory type guy has to have it all together and can’t be bummed and so on, but i am and mentioned the previous week’s commitment thing…

and so i read Anne Rice’s three comments/posts and we had the raddest discussion and within about two minutes i had left super bummed behind and just embraced the potential and opportunity to discuss something that is quite real in the church and the world right now – the importance of understanding where a lot of christians are coming from at the moment – loving Christ completely but not so ampd for some of the horrible hurtful things church can get up to

this week i also read the headline of a story of a church in the US (think i know which one if their reputation is anything to go on) who are planning a koran burning on the 9th anniversary of the destruction of the twin towers – i can not begin to imagine the damage that might cause – i can imagine the ‘message of love’ it is sending out with the label ‘church’ attached and i can fully understand a lot of people wanting to have nothing to do with being associated with that particular label

another friend of mine commented on the anne rice note i had on facebook something about those clowns who love Jesus but leave the church – again words of love which are really going to help ‘those clowns’ realise how misguided they are and draw them back towards the church?

at the end of it all, and the really delightful participationary service it had become, the conclusion was this – it is our responsibility and opportunity to draw alongside the anne rice’s and the john ellis’s and so many more people out there in similiar waters, and demonstrate to them a church that IS known by the love they have for each other, that is loving the sinner (while hating the sin but making well sure the sinner realises the difference between the two), that is involved in society actively building, reaching out, loving, reconciling and being the body of Christ in a world that is desperately hungry to see a church that lives out what it says it believes

so yes it’s lateish thurs nite or feels that way cos i am weirdly quite tired and tbV is upstairs working hard cos she has to get thesis changes to her people before she goes away…

which is tomorrow – my lovely wife has a whole weekend of secret plans (at least til sun when we mite be back for the grand prix or at the very least enGAGE church service and world cup final possibly at Ginos with the gang) and we are going away somewhere (i know not where) and i am really looking forward to it

as is she cos i know she desperately wants me to know all the secrets but without giving them to me so she is super amped and i am super amped and it is cool that we celebrate cos it’s been a great year

a crazy, fun, rollercoaster, love-growing, relationship-learning, chatting, laughing, bonding, growing, playing, making-up’ing, series’ing, [  ]ing, gaming, cooking, Jesus’ing, justice’ing year (and some other 18th thing)

and it grows… the love…

as i always say (well i mean, i do say other things cos if this was all i said it would get a little monotonous if this was all i said it would get a little monotonous if this was all i said) marriage to the right person is incredible

hard at times yes, painful at times for sure (you’re living around another person all the time – can’t just pick the good times like with dating) but amazingly empoweringly worth it

which is why it is worth celebrating

and worth trying harder to do better

and ‘trying harder’ really means more submitting (to God and tbV), surrender, sacrifice (the kind you choose more than the kind forced upon you) lifting her above myself, serving, loving

as well as less of a bunch of stuff which hopefully i will continue to work on

here’s to the beautiful Val and the next amazing year, here’s to marriage between one man and one woman which is the best way to live out long-term committed relationships, here’s to a cord of three strands where God (hopefully) has center stage in our lives individually and together and definitely pulls us tight

i love you my babe. i choose you and keep choosing you. thank you in advance for this weekend. mine.

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