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No Blogging – Internets Has Been Broken

Sorry for the lack of new posts, had to wait two weeks for Internet and although I’ve got WordPress on my phone it just takes too long to make a post. With Internets back up I’ve been spending some crazy time catching up on work, and this week is quite busy with Equip Gauteng also going down for tomorrow and Friday.

Hopefully I can start blogging again next week!

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Group Tonight: Discipleship

Tonight (Thursday 16 September) we’ll be talking about the challenges of being vulnerable (discipleship) with each other at our Life Group in Sandton, which meets every Thursday at 6:30 for 7pm.

We’ll be chatting not just about ‘discipling’ others but the challenge of being discipled — the difficulties we all have in our heart with opening up to someone else, to each other, and allowing people to actually see our bad side. It’s time to take off all masks and be real. But like real for real, not just talking about being real but then doing our own thing and zoning in on our own lives.

Anyone’s welcome to join. The group meets in the heart of Sandton. Phone 011-884-3820 for the address (we meet in an office block) or just email me at ryan (at) ryanpeterwrites (dot) com.

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In the World But Not of the World: Ideologies Do Not Rule Us

(Picture sourced from here

Because the Church and State are two separate entities and serve two different functions — the State serving to keep justice in the land, the Church serving to love others sacrificially — Christians can hold different political / economical opinions and yet still work together in the same Kingdom, because the Kingdom is our primary concern.

In Jesus’ day Simon was called a Zealot, which indicates that he held a certain political opinion. Basically, the zealots believed the Romans should be chased out of Israel by brute force.

On the other hand, Matthew was a tax collector, who effectively was working with the Romans and collecting tax for them. It’s easy to see that these two men held two vastly different political opinions, but Jesus calls them to the same Kingdom and they work together for the same end. That’s how the Kingdom works.

Likewise, you may be a socialist and I may be a capitalist. Or, rather, to prevent those ideologies from being our identity (calling you a socialist makes it your identity, which it isn’t) let’s rather say that you may believe a socialist form of government / economics will work, while I believe a capitalist economical system will work for the nation. We may hold extremely different viewpoints politically / economically, but we can work together because we agree on the same things in the Kingdom — we both agree we should love all sacrificially, that we should tell people that God loves them and wants them to know Him.

There are a couple of points that can be highlighted here.

First, neither capitalism or socialism is more biblical than the next, because the New Testament makes no comment on how a country should be run, but more on how a Christian should live. There are some basic principles that a country should do (uphold justice), but there are no detailed policies listed in the New Testament. As I said in my previous post, Christians are called to turn the other cheek, the State is not.

Because neither is more biblical we should never use the Bible to promote a political / economical ideology. Many pro-democracy people, especially some Americans to be honest (I’m not slamming Americans), think that Democracy comes from the Bible, and that the Bible supports democracy, so if they spread democracy they believe they are spreading the Kingdom. But if you check it out there are scriptures to support socialism in the Bible as well, and there are many. The point is that the Bible isn’t interested in these ideologies.

Second, in reference to this, our ideologies do not rule us. We are born into a Kingdom with a King, who is Jesus. HE rules us. He tells us what to do and we do it.

Third, we should never bring these ideologies into the church. Churches must not run like democracies or social governments. They run according to the Kingdom, under one Head, who is Jesus, and work through relationships between those in the church.

So when it comes to how we live we don’t apply the principles of capitalism on how we should handle money. We may believe capitalism is good for the country and good for our business, but it’s not good for our personal lives, and it’s not good for the Church. Jesus said we cannot serve two masters. We serve God and Him alone, and we don’t run our personal lives or the church by ideologies like democracy, capitalism, socialism, collectivism, or any other of these types of ideas.

So do you run your personal finances like a capitalist or a Christian? Do you approach your income like a capitalist or a Christian? That’s the challenge for us in South Africa, where capitalism is becoming the culture.

Sorry for the long post. The next post will cover transformation — so how should we affect government / society / politics / economics then? Do we have nothing to do with these? Or do we influence them in some way? And how could we influence them without getting sidetracked and with keeping our focus intact?

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In the World But Not of the World: Not Being Sidetracked

(Image sourced from here.)

This is the third part of many in which I will share some of my thoughts as I plan for a sermon I’ll be preaching at my church, Church on the Square (Sandton), this coming Sunday, 19 September.

Once we understand our unique calling and the uniqueness of the Kingdom of God, we are better equipped to not be sidetracked by the Enemy (the Devil) and this world, and get involved in missions that have nothing or very little to do with the Kingdom of God and God’s main objective in this world.

Jesus was born into a hot political climate, yet the Scriptures don’t have one recording of any moment when he made any political declaration or comment of any sort unto the political issues of the day.

The State rules by the sword, and so it should. It is interested in outward conformity not inward change, unlike Christianity which is interested in inward change and transformation of the heart.

In Matt 26:50, one of Jesus’ disciples (Simon Peter, according to the book of John) cut the ear off of one of the men that came to arrest Jesus. Jesus rebukes him and says that those who live by the sword will die by the sword. He then heals the man’s ear. The Kingdom, as we see, is a healing Kingdom not a Kingdom of the sword. The state wields the sword, the church wields reconciliation, self-sacrificial calvary, unconditional love, and such things.

The Church is called to turn the other cheek, the State is not. When we mix Christianity / the Church / the Kingdom with the State, we usually get a Church that wields a sword (now acting as the State), enforcing people to bow to its State Religion. It can either go this way or it can become a state that turns the other cheek on its enemies, which has never happened in world history because no state could possibly do that.

So that’s why State and Church cannot mix. They must never be the same thing. Christians should not let politicians play the “Christian vote” either, in my opinion.

Jesus explains why he didn’t get wangled into the politics of his day in John 19: 33 – 38, where he clearly says His Kingdom is not of this world, and if it were his followers would be fighting. But they weren’t. His is not a political Kingdom but an altogether ‘Other’ Kingdom.

The primary concern of the Christian is the Kingdom, not politics. When guys want to burn Korans they are making political statements, not Jesus statements. When guys want to make who you vote for a sign of whether you’re a Christian, they are not making Jesus statements. When guys want to make how you view Israel a sign of your Christianity, those are political statements, not Jesus statements.

What are Jesus statements? Well, when you walk alongside someone hurting — praying for them, helping them, caring for them, walking alongside with them, being their friend, crying with them, laughing with them, and ultimately leading them to God, THAT’S a Jesus statement. Remember, Jesus said that whenever we feed the poor and visit those in prison it’s as if we were doing that for Him.

I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t or can’t give their political opinions, they’re welcome to do so, but nine times out of ten political opinions are nothing more than opinions, but some do declare that their political opinion is the Christian or Bible opinion. It’s not.

Tomorrow I’ll make a more clear post on how we, as Christians, are not ruled by ideologies but by our King. Ideologies come second, Kingdom comes first. We’ll expound on that then.

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In the World But Not of the World: Who is the King?

These are thoughts with regards to a sermon I’m doing next Sunday, entitled “In the World But Not of the World.” This is the second part of many posts.

The early Christians used to have a saying that Christians these days still use, which is “Jesus is Lord”.

At the time, there used to also be another saying used in society, which was “Ceasar is Lord.”

In our context Christians must make sure that our first and foremost allegiance is to Jesus, our King. Our allegiance is not first to our government or to our ideologies of governance.

When Jesus was being questioned by Pilot, he said clearly that His Kingdom is not of this world.

Today, in South Africa, we might not see our government as Lord or the Caesar’s of the day, theoretically, but practically we still allow these things to be Lord of our heart. How? Well when we allow the ideology of the day to rule our hearts, or our ideological view of government (such as socialism or democracy) or we practice the world’s idea of power (to have power over others rather than serve them).

For example, many people dream that South Africa will one day become a ‘Christian Nation’. But what do they mean by this? Do they mean that most of South Africa would know Christ, or do they mean that the laws of the country would represent Christian morality? If the latter then they are mixing Christianity or the Kingdom of God with the Kingdom of the world.

Another example: when we begin to use the Bible to defend democracy we are not using it correctly. Sure, there may be some Biblical principles in democracy but the Kingdom of God is not a democracy, and therefore democracy isn’t God’s government.

On a more individual basis: When we always defend our rights and insist on them, when everything is about us and what we want, we live democracy out in our hearts. Meanwhile, we are to live Jesus in our hearts, who did not insist on His rights and came to serve rather than be served. Here, we show whether or not Jesus is really our King or if democracy, our Caesar, is king.

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In the World But Not of the World

(image sourced from here)

This is the first part of many in which I will share some of my thoughts as I plan for a sermon I’ll be preaching at my church, Church on the Square (Sandton), on Sunday 19 September.

In these posts and my sermon I’ll put forward the notion that Christianity should never mix with politics. I say this because the Kingdom, which Jesus always spoke about, has nothing to do with politics. And not only politics but also the economical and social systems of this world, or any other kind of system in this world.

I do not mean to say that Christians should never affect change and bring transformation to our world. I believe this vehemently. We are to be salt and light and we pray that our Father’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. What I mean is that we should never make who we vote for a sign of whether or not we’re Christians; we shouldn’t get politicians to come speak to our church; we shouldn’t preach to people about which specific party they should vote for; and we shouldn’t make political policies or economical ideologies a core basis of our theology. This will make more sense as we go along.

In the meantime, here is what I think is a key verse:

Matt 22: 16 – 22

[The Pharisees] sent their disciples to [Jesus], along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius.And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

This verse has, rightfully so, been used to justify a separation of Church and State. In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees and Jews were hoping for a political Messiah — one who would free them, politically, economically and socially, from Roman rule. Jesus never provided this for them.

That’s one context of this scripture worth noting. The other is that the Jews were very offended by Caesar putting his image on money — they had to use money that bore his image. It was seen as an egotistical and unlawful act on their part. But Jesus tells them to give what holds Caesar’s image to Caesar, and give to God what is God’s. And what holds God’s image? Us! (Genesis 1.) So who we pay our taxes to has nothing to do with our relationship to God, and the Kingdom of God is not at all interested in our politics, economics and social systems. It is entirely Other. We are to be concerned with giving ourselves to God, and do whatever we’re required to do in this world, but not link the Kingdom to a political liberation movement, which is what the jews were hoping for.

This boils down to a number of practicalities which we’ll explore in further posts.

End of part one!

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Received Printed Copy of ALIVE This Morning

ALIVE: How to Enjoy Living

First printed copy of ALIVE

I received the first printed copy of my book ALIVE this morning, but unfortunately the print quality of the cover isn’t too good. I’m going to have to get a designer or someone to fix it with the printers as I don’t think people should buy a book with that kind of quality cover.

As to the print quality of the inside it looks fantastic. So almost there!

The eBook version is available at though — get it at this link. It’s only $4 (about R30).

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I Don’t Live in a Democracy

The systems of this world have nothing to do with me - Ceasar is not Lord

Some of you might think this is going to be a political post, but it isn’t a rant about the ANC or anything like that — it’s about something far, far more awesome.

This weekend for me has been brilliant, and I’ve begun to really get this revelation that I, as part of the Church, have been transferred from this world and its oppressive systems into a Kingdom, a Kingdom with a King whose name is Jesus.

That might sound all typically-Christian-like but here’s the main thrust of the matter: ALL of this world’s political and economical and any other system you can think of have nothing to do with me whatsoever. They literally, not just figuratively, have nothing to do with me and I have nothing to do with them.

Essentially, I no longer live in a democracy. In this Kingdom I live in there is a King and I follow out his instructions to the tee. I don’t have a vote or a say. Because He is an exceedingly good King I need never fear His decisions, His council, and His rule. I can obey Him in perfect freedom because every one of His decisions are / will be perfectly just and good.

I’ve said before that I would prefer to live in a monarchy with a good king than a democracy. There’s a lot of pressure in a democracy — I need to make things happen for myself, I need to put the system to work, and everything revolves around me and myself, and I’m sick of that kind of self-absorption where the centre of the universe is me.

Now, I’m transferred into a Kingdom where the centre of the universe is a living (yes, living) King who rules in perfect goodness. Now I can just enjoy life as He takes care of the big things, while I just enjoy being His child and His agent on this earth, and do whatever He tells me to do. I know that He’ll take care of things and I needn’t worry.

I can’t tell you what a relief it is. I realise this little write-up probably doesn’t do it justice but now I understand more than ever why the early Christians used to say, “Jesus is Lord” and why we do too. Because Ceasar is not Lord — the systems of this world are not my Lord, and Zuma and Malema and Obama are not my Lord. Their governments have nothing to do with me and I have nothing to do with them.

Sure I still live in this world and that’s the point — I am in this world but not of this world. I’ll live with wisdom as God gives me direction in terms of my finances etc., and there’s nothing wrong with people being in politics either and we need to be salt and light to this world. All I’m saying is that His Kingdom is not of this world, and the Kingdom Christians live in is wholly and completely and utterly different — and free in such wonderful and unbelievable ways.

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Elitist Mentality

(Picture from here)

I’ve begun to despise the elitist mentality more and more.

What I mean by this is not so much when someone says, “my theology is right” but moreso when someone says, “we’re special and you’re not.”

An example might serve my purposes here. As you can see in this article, one man says this: “As a member of the church, you’re not following the true doctrine.”

Yes, I believe some doctrine has no merit and others have more merit. Heck, some doctrine I would even call ‘right’. But this isn’t really an issue of doctrine here, I think, this is more an issue of membership. See what the guy is saying? “As a member of the church, you’re not following the true doctrine.” He is basically saying that they (the article will explain who) are members of something that does follow the true doctrine. The heart of it isn’t so much the doctrine (which I would call ‘wrong’ in this context, by the way) but who’s in and who’s out. Or who’s more special, better, than the rest.

The disciples had a similar argument in Luke 9:46 – 50, about who amongst them is the greatest. This argument is still going on today, and Jesus’ response is always poignant. “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me,” “He who is least among you, he is the greatest”, and “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

I’ve heard this ‘who is the greatest’ argument from numerous fronts lately. Some in the house church movement, for example, claim that they’re the greatest, believing they have hit the jackpot in terms of how God wants us to do church, with some going so far as to claim that God has left the other churches and now the Spirit is moving only with them.

See what I mean? It’s an issue of who’s more special than the other, overall. These have perhaps lost focus that no model of church will save us, but only Christ Himself.

Others claim that apostolic government is the jackpot, with some going so far as to say that if the church (or even the world, mind you) doesn’t humble itself under apostolic authority (and perhaps they have particular apostles in mind, too) God will ‘strike the land with a curse’. Again, the issue here is ‘we are the greatest, we are the super-apostles.’

I believe in apostolic government in the church, but not of an elitist kind. I also believe that salvation is in no other name except Jesus. But I don’t see that as elitist, as it’s not an argument around who is the greatest or who is loved more, but rather who is saved. (This would require a whole new discussion though.)

Everytime I read about someone else claiming that the church this and the church that and they have discovered some new shining model or belief that shows why they’re the greatest, I switch off (after getting a little angry). Get over yourself and stop your pride man! For the last shall be first!

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The Christianity of Principles, Keys and Formulas vs the Christianity of Jesus Christ

The diagram above is not what Christianity is actually about, yet so many treat it that way.

I’ve spent years trying to unlearn much of what I learned about Christianity in my earlier years, because much of what I learned was about principles and formulas. Let me use a quote to drive home my point:

The French Author, Jacques Ellul, once said this:

“There are no such things as ‘Christian principles.’ There is the Person of Christ, who is the principle of everything. If we wish to be faithful to Him, we cannot dream of reducing Christianity to a certain number of principles, the consequences of which can be logically deduced. This tendency to transform the work of the Living God into a philosophical doctrine is the constant temptation of theology, and their greatest disloyalty when they transform the action of the Spirit which brings forth fruit in themselves into an ethic, a new law, into ‘principles’ which only have to be ‘applied.'”

What’s he getting to? Well, let’s maybe use some modern experiences to get to the point. When was the last time you walked into a Christian bookstore? What did you notice the bestsellers were? I’ll give you a hint on some of the kind of titles you might have seen:

How to Pray for Results
Sowing and Reaping: Understanding Prosperity
Ten Spiritual Disciplines for Success and Happiness

While titles may not be so bluntly obvious, much of the content is around the kind of ideas I’m talking about above. Heck, my book ALIVE: How to Enjoy Living is titled in a similar way, but I hope that its content is a far cry from the kind of content I’m making fun of above — where Christianity is relegated to principles, ‘keys’, and formulas. Where all of these are also directed at ‘our’ success. As Ellul is getting at, this kind of Christianity has been separated from its core — the person and Being of Jesus Christ.

God is a Living god, not a bunch of principles or keys we just need to do to see results. Even if we believe this, we often don’t treat Him that way, expecting that if we pray correctly or tithe correctly or do whatever correctly then, and only then, we will see results. But even the desire to see results can really also show that our heart is not interested in Jesus himself, but instead in results.

I mean, what do I enjoy about my wife? I enjoy her – her presence. If my relationship with her was about results then it wouldn’t be much of a relationship.

Christianity is about relationship. In fact, it’s even deeper than relationship, it’s Jesus Christ himself. (That’s why I think it’s also about enjoying God.) Jesus is a living Being, a real person, who lives in and through me. In the end, Christianity is Christ. That’s probably the best way to put it.