Tag Archive: sheep and goats

A few days ago i posted a link to an article titled, ‘Why Jesus wants you to stop spanking your kids’ followed by a link to this article, ‘When Violence hits home: “Sparing the rod”, spanking and peaceful parenting,’ which seemed to give a more cultural explanation of what the rod might be referring to [in the bible passage all the ‘hit your kids’ people rush to use in their defence].

My friend Leanne shared them on her page and the whole thing exploded with a variety of people jumping on with a diversity of strongly-held approaches to the topic of disciplining your child [with half of them advocating why that was okay to do with a stick, belt, spoon…]

Another friend, John Eliastam, agreed to take some time to share some of his thoughts which his did on his greatly named blog, The Dead Pastor’s Society, under the title, ‘More on “the rod”‘, which you can and should read over here, because it was great and super helpful. Not simply on the topic of hitting your kids [although it deals with that] but more largely on the topic of reading and understanding and knowing the bible in a way that is helpful and more true. i am hoping John will write a piece for my blog on that.

But that is not what really sparked for me in that conversation. Rather it was the amount of people responding and the time put into the responses which included a whole bunch of ‘read more’ tabs to click if you wanted to see all the many paragraphs of conversation people had for that topic. This was a topic people really were invested in.

I shared this quote as my status around the same time: ‘The poor don’t need soup or shoes. They need a place at your table for the next 20 years.’ [from my friend Portal Pete]

Two shares, couple of likes and a few comments. Did not need to ‘Read More’ on any of the comments.


In fact, if i was a being from another planet and observing the life and beliefs and attentions of people who call themselves christians, there is a huge chance i would be able to reach the conclusion that being a part of the church was mostly about defending the sanctity of spanking and hating “the gays”, or at least stopping them from committing “their agenda” or taking us over and making us all like them [or something].

And bigger and better church buildings and more expensive music equipment of course.

Is a conversation on how best to discipline your children important and worth having? Absolutely.

Is engagement with the LGBT community and seeking both God’s response [which above all, is ALWAYS going to first and foremost be love by the way] and ours an important and necessary thing? Of course.

But with a bible and christian handbook with less than ten references to disciplining your children and homosexuality and OVER TWO THOUSAND references to how we should be relating to THE POOR, is it possible that we have perhaps missed the point a little by spending so much attention and focus and strong opinion on the things that God seems to be spending less time on? And refusing to absolutely embrace and incorporate into our lifestyles the very things He seems to indicate are the most important.


i remember when i was in Americaland following some of the story of a local pastor here in Cape Town, who launched a whole campaign trying to unite the local church congregations across Cape Town to rally together against ‘the evil of the government’ trying to make it illegal for parents to hit their children. That really made me very sad. Not because it is necessarily a bad thing to get behind your beliefs and do what you can to defend them where necessary.


i’m not sure i have seen the same kind of passion and drive in action when it comes to the poor living among us, to the lines and lines of shacks you drive past on a trip to or from the airport, the homelessness issues we have in and around our city, the huge problem with children who are growing up without families.

Imagine that pastor took all his time and energy and resources and instead of campaigning for the right to hit his children, convinced his congregation to consider adoption as valid a form of parenting as raising a child who is biologically yours? Do those really seem like equal-of-importance things?


“Jesus, what is the greatest commandment?” – Love God [with all your heart, soul, strength, mind] and Love your neighbour as yourself.

“Jesus, who is my neighbour” – responds with the story of the Good Samaritan which is about a man on a journey who comes across a man in great need and helps him to the point of it being of great cost to himself [time, money, resources]

‘If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be that person?’ [1 John 3:17]

‘Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?’ James 2:15-16

‘Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.’ [Isaiah 1:17]

’41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”’ [Matthew 25]

… and about 1996 more or so…

Church, it is long overdue for us to stop majoring in the minors [that doesn’t mean the minor things are not important and should not be focused on – it does mean they might be less important and require less of our time, money and engagement] and to start giving more emphasis to the things Jesus [and the whole bible] seemed to indicate were a bigger deal. Being known by the love we have for one another for starters. Looking after the least of these. Engaging with those who are not like us and who the rest of the world might not be super amped to spend time with.

Discuss. [but first GYHOOYA].


as depicted so well in my previous post by Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine cartoon fame, R.E.M. had something when they came up with their hit song that 73% of people know the two words “Leonard Bernstein” [but is it pronounced Steen or Styn? another mystery] to – It’s the end of the world as we know it.

with Australia and Americaland being on different days for a huge portion of any 24 hour period, it was always going to be a bit of a feat for the Apocalypse to arrive on precisely one calendar day only and presumably by the time your Australian friend stopped replying to your frenetic “are we there yet?” “are we there yet?” “are we there yet?” messages, you probably wouldn’t even have time to reach for your closest can of beans.

and so, no, the world hasn’t ended.

but it has ended as we know it. in fact it does that every day. unless there was some way for it to be completely frozen in every possible manner of time, energy and space, the day we wake up to is not the day we left behind. the world has changed. and more importantly our world has changed.

the question we have to ask ourselves [well maybe ‘have’ is a strong word cos i imagine most people don’t] is, ‘Is the world a better place today because of how i lived yesterday?’ and the more relevant question of ‘Will the world be a better place tomorrow because of how i choose to live today?’

this is a question of selflessness, service and Love vs. ego, pride and selfishness

it’s a question of community, congregation and fellowship vs. individualism, materialism and consumption

and it is a question of how am i involved in reaching out to those who are marginalised and lonely, considered by the world to be ‘the least of these’?

Jesus seemed to have a very strong opinion on that… and so if you call yourself a Jesus follower, this is quite probably something you should take note of:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

[Matthew 25.31-46]

i guess, the question is, as far as you are concerned… it is the end of the world, as you know it. do you feel fine?

this is a tough little one – david whining about his enemies some more and calling on God for some ensmitement… i don’t think i have ever gotten that hectic so i can’t really relate but possibly the strongest i have gotten in enemy prayer is ‘please God, make them go away’- i don’t know, maybe not even that. i don’t tend to hold on to enemy definition. sure, there have been some prime candidates in my life – people who told me my passion for God was a phase i was going through and when i grew all up [like he clearly had] it would go away and i would be normal [and boring, complacent, passionless] like he was… people who publically accused me of things or rejected me from leadership or seemed to take me on as a personal mission on facebook or my blog because i didn’t like some group they wanted to join or made some statement they misinterpreted or something… but i guess i just never saw the benefit in having enemies and for the most part tried to pursue peace with those people and even when they were not interested kept on trying to send love and encouragement and always hope that the relationships could be restored… i am okay with people not liking me, but at the same time i do like people to like me so i don’t think it’s a need i have [everyone MUST LIKE BRETT!!!] but it is a like i have [everyone in the world holding hands doing the worlds biggest ‘ring a ring of roses’ together trying hard to forget that the original song emerged from the black plague or something…

my point being this is a difficult psalm to find much to relate to so i think i will just focus on the first verse which says, ‘Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble. The Lord protects and preserves them — they are counted among the blessed in the land — He does not give them over to the desire of their foes. The Lord sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.’ [first 3 verses actually!]

i don’t know that i agree with all David’s prosperity doctrine type sentiments in terms of getting to be sick-free if you are nice to the weak but i really think that ‘Blessed are those who have regard for the weak’ is an anthem that God is completely behind as demonstrated by how Jesus lived and what He spoke when He was here.

it is Matthew 25 sheep and goats stuff and the question to ponder as i read this psalm is what is the name of the person [or group] who might be viewed as weak in this world, that i am having regard for? if i can’t name a person or group, what decision am i going to make today that will get me one step closer to being able to?

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

so yesterday’s “this is what the andersons are going to be up to” bloggage received a lot more attention than i suspected it would, and pretty firmly divided into two groups of responses:

those who knew us, who said nice things about us and wished us good times and most importantly got excited with us for this adventure that we are about to embark on

those who don’t know us who by and large said or asked somewhat judgemental sounding stuff mostly relating to us going on a big holiday in the states while there are poor people in south africa to be taken care of [who we can fittingly see as we are driven off to the airport]

and i didn’t even allow half of the comments written to be posted [largely it was more of the same – for some bizarre reason there is a whole host of people out there who are telling us we should stop doing our transcription – which incidentally is part of a study focused on poor people in townships and will be used to help assist them to make better choices and be exposed to greater opportunities – and get waitering jobs if that isn’t beneath us – i worked for 5 years at rondebosch spur back in the day and absolutely loved most of it – i’m pretty sure i’m the first person who both made and sold Hunter’s and Blackcurrent Hooch milkshakes, i kid you not]

however, the point of this blog is not so much to defend against the stream of attacks – i tried to do some explaining yesterday altho i really didn’t need to and certainly do not need to defend my action to a bunch of anonymous people hiding behind their keyboards [Brits, however, am definitely looking forward to that beer/coffee] – one day i will stand in front of God and account for my actions, and my mistakes and i feel quite confident that this Simple Way trip is not something i am going to be embarrassed by…

but the point of this blog – and i mentioned it in a response yesterday but not everyone may have seen it – is that we all create our own lines…

for a number of people, flying overseas to americaland and working with poor people in a community over there is unacceptable because of the number of poor people here and the money for the tickets etc could be better used given to the poor [which sparks a reminder of a guy named judas in the bible who said a similiar thing about money that should rather have been spent on the poor than lavishly wasted on Jesus, and things didn’t turn out so well for him because his heart was rotten] but all of those people typed their responses on a computer [or possibly a cellphone] which means that [apart from those who were doing it at work i guess which would be using work time for personal pleasure which i guess is another line] their line includes having access to a phone/computer [which could surely be sold and given to the poor blah blah blah]

the one extreme picture is this – give everything you have to the poor and eventually when you have nothing more, you yourself end up on the street and are poor and are unable to give any more and thus unable to help any more [i’m sure we will all agree this is largely unhelpful]

at the other extreme we have the person who gives nothing – who lives completely for themselves and spends money only buying things for themself and their friends and follows a path of luxury and pleasure and wastefulness [i’m sure most of us will agree this is largely evil]

and then there is somewhere in the middle of these two poles – being generous with my resources while maintaining the ability to be so – spending on myself and my friends but also spending on those less fortunate than myself – being actively involved in the lives of those who seem unable to help themselves – answering Jesus’ call to be a sheep and not a goat and make sure that we are reaching out to those who are hungry and thirsty and sick and in prison and strangers…

within that space there are lines – and probly lines within lines – and mine will not always look like yours, maybe they never will – some of my lines look like this:

i personally can’t justify flying business class but perhaps you can

i personally can’t justify having a big fancy car when my epic rust collector gets me from a to b, but i quite possibly could justify having something a bit better than what i have now if the opportunity arose

i generally do not give to poor people at traffic intersections unless they are doing some kind of work like selling the Big Issue or the funny sheet because they are at least making some kind of work effort to lift themselves up. there are a lot of poor people i say no to even when i have the means to help them [i generally don’t say “I can’t” or “I don’t have money” as those are generally not true] but there is a guy who hangs around across the road from our church who i buy food for on a regular basis

i don’t buy label clothes when there is a piece of clothing as sufficient for 2 or 3 hundred bucks cheaper

those are a couple of my lines and i won’t make them absolutes for people – this is how much you can or should be giving and this is where you stop – myself and val need to find a place where we are happy to stand before each other and before God and say “I think we used our resources well”

i imagine we get it wrong a lot and there are a lot of questions i wrestle with like is it ever okay to go and watch a movie when you walk past a hungry man on the street to get there, or go out for a meal at a restuarant when you can stay home and make a meal for R20 or R30 bucks (that will probly taste better if tbV is cooking like last nite flip!) but i don’t wrestle with having a laptop (because it allows me to do a huge part of what God has called me to do) or some of the others that you might

so look at yourself, take a long hard look at the way you live, the way you spend money, the way you hold tightly on to money, how generous you are to those you know and are in relationship with and also to the strenager on the street and make some decisions if necessary but whatever you do, live intentionally and be able to stand in front of God one day and say “i did what i thort was right” and let Him drop or throw His stone…

and uber big thankx to all those of you who are excited for and with us and who dropped in here to share some words of encouragement – this is a kingdom thing and we are so very super amped for what lies ahead…

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