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Music is “Creation” Too

A photo of the tree on Sunday :)

This last Sunday I was commissioned to lead the music and singing for Cornerstone Church South Side and I arrived somewhat early – which was all fair and well for me as it gave me some time to reflect and enjoy the wonderful Autumn morning. I sat by a tree (pictured above) and enjoyed its yellow-orange leaves shower over me, while the sun warmed me up and the chirping of the many birds all around were my soundtrack.

This is the kind of guy I am. I love nature. Creation. Sunrises and falling leaves and blossoms and mysterious, starlit evenings. It’s moments like this when my heart lights up in gratitude and worship. When my restless body finally gets what it needs to settle down – beautiful views, sounds and smells. When my voice shuts up and a greater voice speaks.

I thought to myself, “Now, if only I could bring this creation – all this beauty – into our morning worship.”

Then it hit me. Well, music is also a part of God’s own creation! I’m doing just that!

It seems to me that I’m often distracted by the sheer business of music. Most of my music ‘career’ has been about cool bands and cool hair. Thankfully I grew out of that several years ago. But even still, getting the music right for a Sunday morning; choosing the right songs; working on the dynamics of those songs; keeping up with trends; making sure I get all the cues right… all this business of music makes me forget the beauty of music in itself, its very nature, the fact that God created this stuff. I didn’t invent this. Playing music is, indeed, God-glorifying – it works toward this end just like all of creation works toward this end.

As the heavens tell of the glory of God (Psalm 19:1) so music tells of the glory of God. That’s if we’d let it. If we would get the business of it out of the way – the preferences of style, taste, and skill.

I do believe that sometimes we rely too much on music in church to make ‘things happen’ (whatever that may mean). I do believe that the lyrical content of much of our modern church music is pretty lame and sometimes even damaging to people’s relationship with God. But I have to admit, when sounds and notes go together, the very nature of that… the very nature of music… tells the glory of God. And that makes music joyful for me again, because when eternity comes, we’re really not going to care at all about the business of music. And that’s why we fill our church meeting places with these notes and the sounds of voices that echo the many facets and many stories of a relationship with the same person, Jesus Christ.

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Open Theism Part One: 2 Kings 20

In my last post, I introduced this new series on a book I’ve read / am re-reading called God of the Possible, written by Greg Boyd. The book is about Open Theism, a theological system that teaches that the future is partly open and, as a result, God does not know every aspect of the future exhaustively, but rather infinite possibilities. (Some aspects of the future are determined, others are not.)

Let’s dive into the preface of the book, which revolves around 2 Kings 20:

In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Now, O Lord, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: “Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord, and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.” And Isaiah said, “Bring a cake of figs. And let them take and lay it on the boil, that he may recover.”

We have quite in interesting interaction here between God, the prophet Isaiah and King Hezekiah. As you can see, it seems God changed His mind and added fifteen extra years to Hezekiah’s life. Now what are we to make of this?

1. If God knew that Hezekiah would actually live (divine foreknowledge), it seems strange for God to declare that he would “not recover” as that simply wasn’t true. Did God effectively lie about the future (strong way of putting it, I know)? For what reason? To get Hezekiah to humble himself? To get Hezekiah to pray? But then God would have known what Hezekiah’s response was going to be, so the initial statement was not true. It seems strange to me that God would ever declare something untrue.

2. If God had sovereignly determined, ahead of time, that Hezekiah would live for another fifteen years (predestination) before he actually declared he would in the story above, it seems odd that God would declare differently at first. In other words, if it was God’s plan to add fifteen years to Hezekiah’s life right from the beginning, Hezekiah’s prayer didn’t actually mean anything or change anything. And besides, God would have determined that prayer ahead of time anyway, making Hezekiah’s prayer mean even less (this would be the view of a strong determinist) and giving further confusion to what it is God is actually doing here in this story.

Unless, God had sovereignly predestined that He would add fifteen years to Hezekiah’s life based on His exhaustive foreknowledge that Hezekiah would pray for healing. Fair enough, except then it takes us back to point (1) as God’s predestination was based upon divine foreknowledge, rather than the other way around. He acted in response to foreknowledge. Now you’re once again stuck with the problem that God declared an untruth to Hezekiah – saying he wouldn’t recover when God knew full-well that He would heal him, since the beginning of time.

You’re also stuck with another problem. If God acted in response to foreknowledge, that means God might have acted differently in response to the same foreknowledge. See, the language gives it away – if the future is settled, what exactly is God responding to? What is He acting on? There’s nothing to respond to – if I know exhaustively that the glass will fall off my desk in the next second – because the future is settled – that means I cannot respond to it. The second I am able to respond to such knowledge, it means that I have the power to change the outcome. That then means that the future is not exhaustively settled.

The conundrum is that a settled future not only limits our freedom but limits God’s freedom. He cannot respond to foreknowledge – the minute He responds He changes the way things might have gone. All His actions in history are therefore either meaningless (God had no choice as he had to go with what was an already settled future) or determined by God (God writes the story).

The problem is, the latter choice puts God responsible for evil in the world.

As per Boyd:

“How could God have truly changed his mind in response to a prayer if the prayer he was responding to was forever in his mind? How could Scripture say God added fifteen years to Hezekiah’s life if it was certain to God that Hezekiah was going to live those ‘extra’ fifteen years all along?”

These are difficult questions and trying to work them out are as difficult as trying to understand time travel in the Terminator movies. But that may only be, I submit, because of how we view time to work.

Boyd’s basic premise here, and for his book, is that the Scripture actually means what it says:  God changed His mind. Instead of things going one way they went another. (Note, the healing wasn’t instant! Also note, Isaiah still uses some kind of medicine!)

Many theologians answer this one by claiming it as an anthropomorphism (in other words, it gives God a human attribute, or it’s simply relating the story from the way it was perceived by us humans – God didn’t change His mind, it just looked that way). Carm is one example:

“From the eternal perspective, God does not change His mind since He knew from all eternity what the ultimate decision would be.  From the temporal perspective (relative to us), God changes His mind in response to the prayers and pleading of His people.”

This seems odd to me in this case. Isaiah was pretty strong about it being God’s Word from the beginning. Since the Scriptures make no mention of Isaiah making a mistake or going rogue, it simply can’t be that Isaiah got it all wrong. God was the one who declared Hezekiah would not recover and God was the one who declared otherwise afterwards.There’s not much space (if any) for it to ‘look’ as if He changed His mind.

Secondly, God specifically says, “I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears,” implying strongly that this was the reason why He was adding fifteen years to Hezekiah’s life. There is also the hint at Hezekiah having begun a work and wanting to see it finished and God honouring that. Michael Eaton says that this is more than likely what the king alludes to in verse 3 – not that he seeks favour because of being a good person, but because God had given him a calling that still needed to be completed.

Eaton doesn’t address what we’re talking about in his commentary on 2 Kings 20 directly. What he does say is that Hezekiah ‘pushed judgement into the future’. Hezekiah achieved his calling: protecting Jerusalem. I find Eaton’s language here rather interesting, that Hezekiah actually changed the course of time, and changed what God had planned to do; although I know Eaton’s views on Open Theism aren’t favourable.

The anthropomorphic principle puts us back into problem (1) above or into our conundrum around the fact that the minute God can respond to foreknowledge, it means the future isn’t settled.

When looking at the Scripture as plainly as I can, I have to say that taking this scripture literally (God really did change His mind) appears to me to be both more reasonable and true to the text. Plus, the genre of the book appears to me to point towards less metaphor. When I first read this Preface in Boyd’s book I had already known about the scripture and, to be honest, scriptures like this one are partly what made Open Theism intriguing to me from the beginning.

Of course, this doesn’t seal the issue, not in light of scriptures like 1 Sam 15:29 which specifically state that God does not change His mind. We’ll have to get to that in another post as we go through the book.

Blogs (Faith), Life-Ecstatic (Faith)

EQUIP SA 2012 Session 3 – Bruce Benge

This is a ‘live-blog’ of the third session at EQUIP South Africa 2012. Again, it’s not a word-for-word transcribe but just my rough notes.

Session 3 – Bruce Benge – humility.


William Temple: Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gift – humility is not thinking about yourself one way or the other at all.


Leading a local church in some way reformed for 25 years, I’ve seen really good people rise and fall. I’ve seen some great gifts but only to be revealed of double standards later.


It’s a joy and responsibility most of the time.


Hebrews 13. In the same breath of making it a joy for those that lead you, there’s also a hey we’re responsible for God.


1 Peter 5: 1 – 11.


The Word is the Light and life of man. This book is life and is full of life; it’s full of God’s story.


We see instructions coming through here – elders towards the flock, young men towards the others. Some key points we need to note:


  1. God opposes pride in people. When pride begins to well up in our heart God opposes that. It’s also good news, as God’s approach towards us is for redemption. He still leads us to our own decisions.


  1. I’m going to give grace to humble people – God. Great news.
  2. God will use His mighty hand to exalt the humble in due time. In the process of life, He is going to exalt you in due time; elevate you; grow you; mature you; bring you into the fulness of everything that I planned and purposed for you.
  3. He will use his mighty hand to care for the hunble in the interim. He is going to open the opportunities of life for us. In the meantime, He is going to continue to care for us.


Let’s look at Peter’s story, Luke 22: 31 – 32. The request.


What’s the lead up to this? Verse 21 and 24. The last supper, here Jesus has just told His disciples that someone’s going to betray Him. Verse 21 – 24. The lead in.


Then the disciples’ discussion jumps to a whole new tone – then they began to argue about who would be the greatest among them. In the midst of a crisis of a friend, first of all they’re saying “It’s not me” then the tone changes and chests start to be poked out. Accusations start flying. Self-promotion starts coming into the context. Then that leads up to verse 31.


Isaiah 14 is a prophetic picture of Lucifer, prior to the creation of mankind, as one of the three arch-angels. He was the charismatic one. Then you read he had aspired to make himself greater than God – pride came in. That pride led to His expulsion from heaven and he was persuasive, taking the third of the angels with him. And he fell.


So Satan is listening in the conversation of Jesus and his friends and He hears something going on and recognises it – aha, they’re just like me, they like their own greatness. He knew that pride comes before a fall. And he heard this and then requested that they be put on. In the lion, witch, wardrobe when the queen rides into the camp and demands the blood of the young Edmund. She demanded it because she had a right, a law had been broken and on the basis of that she could make an appeal.


Satan heard stuff going on in the hearts of these leaders and knew there was grounds. So he requests to sift them as wheat.


Let’s take a weight of Peter’s shoulders. Verse 31 – Satan has asked to sift each of them. Not Just Peter.


We know Peter goes on to deny Jesus three times as per the prophecy. It wasn’t that he was a wimp. Something had gone into him. He wasn’t a wimp – he cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. He got out the boat and walked on the water. He was no wimp. But pride began to unstabalize the state of grace. And in the moment when He should have risen up, he failed.


I love Terry’s picture of dad in the prodigal son. I love the song we sang about worthy is the lamb and he was slain before the foundation of the earth.


A standard greeting in NZ is they go ‘tanakwe’ – it means, “I see you”. God saw us before the foundation of the earth. And isn’t it great that we have a need to see us (came out last night).


There’s a redemption process, you see in John 21, Jesus was risen from the dead. But where was he? Back on the beach looking for his boys. Our saviour, redeemer and king. The boys on the road to Emmaus and in their conversation there’s a sense of earnest longing and Jesus couldn’t hold himself back but had to come reveal himself to them. He doesn’t leave us lost and broken.


You see in John 23, Jesus speaks to Peter. Jesus had prophecied life over Peter before. Acts 3:12. Peter defers any sense of responsibility on himself but gives glory to God. He was no longer pushing for greatness but acknowledging the greatness of God. 2 Peter 5. He says God’s given us everything we need to live a godly life. You see this parrellel between the fruits and gifts of the spirit living in people. Then Peter says if you can grow and develop this stuff and press into the life of who God is and do life with Him… that’s the whole thing about the Gospel, it’s not about serving in ministry, it’s about doing life with Him. God invites us to join Him, not the other way around. So how do we do that? By participating. And by participating you escape corruption in this evil world.


So there’s a process. So what’s the point? Jesus was dislodging elements in these leaders’ lives that prohibit the devil having grounds. As leaders we begin to lead and gather people, and then we fall, it’s just about us, God constantly challenges us – it’s about our city, community, others. There are always people waiting on the other side of our responses.


Peter writes that we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, belonging to God, that we may display the splendour of Him who has called us out of darkness. Why, because he had to acknowledge elements of darkness out of his own life (referring to Peter).


Remember we’re at spiritual war. Jesus came to kick hell out of our nations. The cross cancelled out sin and death and it brought victory. But we are in an age where evil and darkness still have some dominance over the nations because they get access to the human heart.


Story of guy who sexually assaulted his daughter and went to jail and it was a process.


The true secret of success is to be successful in a secret life. That’s been said before. Where does Satan live? He lives in darkness.


While I haven’t kept a sin habit I’m still challenged to live in the grace of God. There are plenty of opportunities for me during every day. I’m still a sinner getting saved.


Luke 11: 34 – 35.


If you deal with the corners of your room the rest of the room will take care of of itself. Jesus is saying, deal to the corners of your life, don’t hide, let the light penetrate into those corners. I get on the plane and go home tonight but this (the bible) doesn’t. The spotlight comes on. Then with no dark corners your life will radiate as if it were flooded with life.


Remember Jesus also talks about being salt to the earth and a city on a hill.


Let God put you together and in that in the process of God (we’re all a work of process).


Pride is a doorway to darkness. Gen 4:7. The brothers are fighting over whose gift is greater than whose. The heart of the matter is always the matter of the heart.


God comes and speaks and says in vs 6, why are you so angry? Who so disjected. If you refuse to do what’s right, sin is crouching at the door and you must subdue it and be its master. Cain heard the care and concern of the love of the father and went out straight away and murdered his brother. There’s a little bit of frank sinatra in each of us where we say we’ll do it my way.


There are different scriptures that are tempted beyond what we can stand and we come under the same temptation as everyone else. We become familiar with them. Dr Rabie, worth jumping on his website, he speaks about moral issues. Talking about porn he says in America that 40 percent of the clientelle that buy into porn are from the Christian community. From people that say I’m a Christ-follower.


My dad was a good businessman and in the building industry and then the government changed how they did stuff and in a stroke of a pen he lost 30 percent of his business. That 30 percent loss overnight impacted him so greatly that he ended up losing his business, because of the sudden-ness of it. Only 30 percent. IF 40 percent of people subscribing the industry that pollutes the soul and sucks our worship life, removes our platform and strength, if they can find some breakthrough. But it’s an industry where shame, darkness and secrecy thrives.


Jesus needs to rule in the heart of us as leaders. Here I stand but by the grace of God. I’m 50 and have run out of excuses. When we compromise it’s not just about me, it’s about others and the community and our wives etc. What I’ve realised over time is that if you really want to transform community you need a strong transformed community. Not just in mouth or outward appearance but in life and freedom. That can speak of the darkness with confidence because they’ve learned how to walk in the life.


Pride is the doorway that can take us out. Most of the guys I’ve walked with and in my own life, I’ve had opportunities to fall; but humility is the doorway to overcome. God gives grace to the humble. Perfectly placed for grace. God wants us to grow in this life but we’ve got to learn to break through some stuff. Saving grace is humility. Peter wrote about that in the scriptures we just heard.


The place where we stand and are firm is in Christ and God’s saving grace, his redemptive purpose in our lives. It’s in His light and His liberty. Peter wrote you stand there you’re less likely to fall. It’s not the things that shoot at us but the things that we’ve never taken out of our lives that get at us.


Marcus: we need to deal with those issues. If we want to see a future we need to be able to say that we’re a woman or man of unclean lips. Bruce’s statement that sums it all up is the devil has dominion over nations because he has access to human hearts. I don’t want it to be us. This was from the heart of God. There’s a challenge to us and a wake-up call.


Marcus is now going to interview Hennie and this is to give us the big-ness of this call. If there are those issues speak to your wife, speak to your accountability team, etc.


Bruce: There’s a bigger reason. There are people waiting for our response to Him. There’s a father waiting as well.


How do we keep clean hands and a pure heart? We come into the light as He is in the light; confess; have fellowship together.

Blogs (Faith), Life-Ecstatic (Faith)

EQUIP SA 2012 Session 1 – Tyrone Daniel

Tyrone Daniel raving about Jesus at EQUIP SA 2012

What a fantastic evening of worship and a focus onto Jesus at the kick-off night for EQUIP South Africa 2012. I’m really looking forward to a fantastic couple of days in God’s presence and the presence of His people!

As promised, here’s a live-blog of Tyrone’s talk tonight on Jesus and based on Isaiah 6. It’s obviously not as live as I’d like (see how MTN dumbs down your 3G signal when 2000 people are in the same room 😛 ) but it’s live-ish. Also, these are just pointers and highlights and I’ve only done some minor editing. This is also, of course, not a word-for-word transcribe of Tyrone’s talk!

Session 1 – #EQUIPSA 2012 – Tyrone Daniel

God is being very kind to us and I think in the next three days he is going to show us some wonderful things together.

God is wanting reveal himself to us in a fresh and new way.

Isaiah 6 – if we can get this thing understood more and more and if the Holy Spirit can reveal this to us everything else will in a sense fall into a new place.


I do believe we’re in a new season – God has reminded us over and over that transition is important. There is a purpose in transition – to get us into position into what God has called us to. The purpose of transitioning isn’t too keep transitioning. God has gotten us to go back to some things to see what it’s all about. Even people with good hearts and good intentions often get caught up with the wrong things because we’ve taken our eyes off the main thing.


I’ve never experienced Jesus like I have the last few years. I come out excited and my message is to tell the world and even the church about Jesus Christ. I recognise that everyone is expecting different things this week. What unites us is first and foremost our great King, Jesus.


That gives us clarity and perspective again. In our transition God has now said we’re in position. This is exciting because it means it’s go time, we are now in the position to walk more and more in things. Even in this great land of SA.


The church, God has a plan; the nations, the church is alive and well – God’ church is triumphant and victorious. Same all over the world.


There’s this partnership and a willingness to go at it again. Something in the heart of God is getting us to go into it again. It’s time go time.


God wants to envision us. Where we get vision from is so very important. When God reveals it has ramifications not just for us here but for the nations. What God can reveal to us this evening can change everything around us.


I still believe that the biggest battlefront we have in the Kingdom is the truth about Jesus Christ. He is and must stay the central theme and focus to everything we are and ever become. If we move away from that we lose the very truth and foundation of what it’s all about.


We can talk and rave about Jesus but we need the Father to reveal the son to us this evening.  We seem to want to hear a lot about ourselves but when we see Him then we see us and then we see the world after seeing Him then we understand our role and responsibility.


The church needs to understand who Jesus is and continually be pointed towards him. Because my friends our message is Jesus Christ.


In these times we must contend for our revelation. We must be intentional. It’s not about mentioning Jesus from time to time but intentional about making Him the central theme and focus. We’re not going to graduate from Jesus. First and foremost, stay in the learning of who Jesus Christ really is. Revelation is from above.


The most revealing thing about your church is what your people think about Jesus – not about mission, your church, or NCMI. Our most significant message is what we say or leave unsaid about Jesus Christ. This is a key value for us – we’re about the Bible. If it’s in there we do it if not we don’t. We still believe this is God’s word. If you’re doing stuff that’s not in here then you are killing people.


We are a people who say we’re about the Bible. Word plus nothing, minus nothing. The Bible testifies about Jesus. So it’s not just about biblical way it means we’ve got to testify what the Bible testifies.


God exalted Jesus to the highest place. It was when I started seeing something of this revelation of Christ I began to feel pleasure again in preaching and leading. It’s not because I’m doing a great job, it’s because I’m raving about Jesus Christ. And God’s pleasure is all over people who rave about Jesus.


God releases life over us. We want to see great things this week so Jesus can be absolutely glorified. We want His presence and power manifested here not to feel Him but to see Jesus exalted. Revelation tells us that right now angels worship Him in heaven.


The early church stayed the course not because of a mission but because they were captivated by Jesus. I don’t know what the future holds; it’ll be exciting but it’s going to have difficult times. As we break open regions and new places it’s not going to be a church that’s captivated by mission. People will bail on mission if the mission is what drives us. What holds us is our absolute love, passion and revelation of Jesus. That will allow us to die for what we believe.

 Isaiah 6

Isaiah’s Vision of the Lord

6 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train[a] of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”[b]

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Isaiah’s Commission from the Lord

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”


– We have to live with this revelation – our Christology will determine our missiology, not the other way around. I’ve listened to many preach on this text (and so have I) and they talk aabout the commissioning of Isaiah. But Isaiah had been preaching for 18 years, so this was not a commissioning of Isaiah. But what he needed was a revelation of Christ again and it’s that that undid him.


We need something of God undoing us because when we see Him and we’re undone we’re far more effective in reaching the world. The context of this scripture – nation of Judah in a time of transition and uncertainty. The nation saw their godly king rebel against God and see God’s judgement. As the kingship changes, God decided to reveal himself afresh in a new way to Isaiah. God doesn’t confirm His word He shows Himself first. The vision that Isaiah received was not the beginning of His ministry. What did he see? What he saw we’ve got to see tonight. God’s heart for us is this – we’ve got to see something of the Holy Spirit. I’m praying that tonight we’ll see something of that.


  1. He saw revelation of Jesus the King. I saw the Lord… high and exalted… train of His robe.

A personal revelation of this King is indispensable to everyone one of our lives. When we see Jesus, it awakens our love and drives out the spirit of weariness and oppression. This has to be personal revelation, not read in a textbook. We cannot minister to others from a textbook. The knowledge of God has to come from your experience of God continually. He is the very source of our being, lives, ministries, we have to be grounded in Him for that to be a reality as we move into our glorious inheritance.


We cannot go through the motions and lead god’s people. You can’t follow others on their revelation of Jesus. God is asking for us again to trust for that revelation.


I’m experiencing more and more the soveriengty of God. That’s what motivated god to become undone. We’ve got to see Him in His sovereignty. His Lordship is over all time and space.


2. He saw God in His glory. Exalting Jesus, calling Him holy, holy, holy.


I think that His sovereignty was powerful, His glory overwhelming, but when He saw God in his holiness then that’s when he said woe to me, I’m a man of unclean lips. I think there’s a lot of need to see Him in His holiness.


Notice the sheer awesomeness around His throne.


3. He saw himself


After seeing the Lord he saw himself and said woe to me, I’m undone, I’m a man of unclean lips, I’m a work in progress.

  1. He saw others


He saw that all people are unclean, him himself too.


Like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah saw people who are lost and did not have a clue about what the should do. What I love about this – he doesn’t just reveal Himself to Isaiah so that he can show that everyone is undone. God does not leave Him there. Don’t stay there. God shows Him redemption – He gets the angels to touch His lips with a hot coal and He says you are not unclean. If God just left us in that place of being undone and seeing others undone, what hope do we have? With redemption he said I have now purified you, you are clean.


This thing of redemption must ring out from the church. Often it becomes an evangelistic project. I don’t need an eveangelsit telling me I’m going to win souls when my lips have been made clean. We must be a people who don’t talk about the finished work of Christ but a people who walk in the finished work. Jesus finished it on the cross. Everyting that Jesus needed to do has been done.


The church is living in an unfinished work of Christ. The times of telling what He’s done has passed – He’s looking for a people who walk in what He’s done. We’ve been redeemed to go and help others to be redeeemed.


What honours the King most is not thanking Him for what He did; telling others about what He did; but walking in what He did. Most believers stay at the foot of the cross. IT’s hard to win the world when you stay there. Now without the cross we have nothing. But it’s not about that cross but about a King. The cross is the entrance point. We’re being given keys of the kingdom, not to the Kingdom. Now we’ve entered, now we walk in it. We walk in salvation, healing etc. Get rid of performance. Kill it. The church is such a performance driven people because we live by the land and so forth. But Jesus destroyed religion. It’s undertanding the finished work – I cannot earn this, don’t deserve this, I just receive, enjoy and live in what Jesus did on the cross..


The very thing Jesus killed on the cross, religion, fills the church again. Religion is spraying purfume on a casket. Religion either ends in pride or despair. Pride is I tick all the boxes. Jesus destroyed that on the cross. Most of us live in despair – can’t tick thet, that, that etc. Jesus dealt with it on the cross.


The true message of redemption needs to ring out from our churches afresh. Not the laws. What He’s done has touched my lips. The sound of grace filling SA again and not this warped, sick one-sided stuff. To see the world won for Jesus.


Touching his lips was painful. Redemption is wonderful but there’s stuff you need to deal with.


He saw the Lord, Himself, others and experienced redemption and then he saw…


  1. He realised his true purpose


He heard the voice say whom shall I send and who will go for me? I don’t believe he was coerced into this but he also didn’t have an option. Why? Because he saw what he saw and experienced what he experienced. We need to go because I have seen what I’ve seen. I’m living in redemption and the finished work and because of that, here am I, send me.


The thing about mission. Our mission we have is because of a compassionate God. Most people when they think of mission they think of the great commission. I want to suggest to you from Scripture that mission started in the heart beat of God. It started with a God who is compassionate. Isaiah saw and understood that there is a God who cares. Mission is not something we come up with but it’s the very heart of God.


This motivates us because there’s a God who’s compassionate. Mission is the heartbeat of a comapssionate God. God is mission minded and He has given us a compelling message. When you see Jesus and His glory it gives you passion for that message. But our message cannot be compromised. IT’s incredible truth that can’t change. IT doesn’t needed to be added to, taken away. It’s a distinctive message like no other. IT’s theo nly message that says about Jesus being the only way.


God has given us, His people, a compelling message and it’s good enough. And it works anywhere in the world. For the regions we’re yet to break open for this Gospel, it works there and will work there because it’s God’s message. A compelling message and a comissioned church.


Inauthorised this commission by the power of Christ. All authority in heaven and earth – have you ever thought about that? Jesus said ALL athority in haven and earth has been given to Him. Now you go. So this is authorised by the power of Christ.


This isn’t a man’s idea. Even God reveals Himself with a commission, my plan, go. And it’s assured by the presence of God. Why would we not go?


When any church loses their spirit for the great commission they surrender the very reason for their existance. God is a mission’s God, the Gospel is a mission’s message, the church are a mission’s people, and when it ceases to be they betray their trust. The church has many responsibilities but our only mission is evangelisation of the world.

Blogs (Faith), Life-Ecstatic (Faith)

It’s EQUIP SA time! Friends, Faith and Feast!

It’s that time of the year again – EQUIP South Africa – an annual time when churches all across South Africa get together for encouragement, rich teaching, and party-time. For me, EQUIP is about ‘friends, faith and feast’ – seeing friends again from all over South Africa; having my faith strengthened, encouraged, even re-kindled; and, of course, enjoying great food (with friends, of course!)

I’ve been involved behind-the-scenes this year and I have to say it’s been quite a privilege and a very exciting experience. All I can say is that the team that have been setting this thing up since February this year are amazing!

But now onto some more details as to why I’m excited about this year. Last year I wrote about Eph 4:11-16 and how this EQUIP time is all about bringing the church into the ‘unity of the faith’ and maturity, as the Scripture so wonderfully puts it.

It’s always about that. But last year was important as it seemed like a real momentum began. There’s a newness in the air about what it is we do as churches in South Africa, and what it is we do as NCMI-relating churches in particular. In truth, it feels like a maturing of sorts – like when you finally have that ‘aha!’ moment and smile and sit back in your chair thinking, “Finally, I get it.” At least that’s how it’s been for me.

One of the key ways it’s been like that for me is how God at the EQUIP time last year dealt with my ambition(s). This thing of ambition became something I’ve had to deal with all year and continue to deal with. It culminated in a post I wrote about five months ago entitled I’m Not Interested in Counting for God Anymore. It was interesting how it resonated with a lot of guys, especially in conversations off-line (you know, the real face-to-face kind 🙂 ).

This year I can already feel my faith being encouraged and things only kick off tonight. These yearly EQUIP times together (they used to be called “Bloem” when they took place in Bloemfontein) have always been instrumental for me since I joined my church (Cornerstone) over ten years ago. I’m expectant and stoked and it’s going to be fantastic.

For more details about EQUIP South Africa 2012, see the EQUIP website. Things kick off at 7 tonight and you can register when you get here (if you haven’t registered already).

P.S.: I’ll be live-blogging the event.

Life-Ecstatic (Faith)

I’m Not Interested in Counting for God Anymore

On a throne but discontent

I am not interested in counting for God anymore.

Most of my life I’ve been consumed, driven, encapsulated by the idea of making my mark in this world. With practically everything I’ve ever done – music, writing, journalism, even my Christian life – I’ve dreamed of making my mark in my profession, making a mark in this world, making a difference, and going down in the history books in some way.

No more.

I don’t know if I’ve inherited this drive from our culture, or if I’m just a naturally ambitious person. But I’ve spent a number of months wrestling through this thing, trying to understand exactly where it comes from, why I’m driven in such a way, why I think like this, and where such thinking is going to take me.

Having the kind of drive I have is supposed to take me to “success”. He who runs hardest wins the race, right? Except when you look back and realise that you’ve achieved none of what you set out to do, it can get pretty depressing. And then all you’ve ever done becomes clouded in a false sense of failure, because the idealistic goals were never realistic anyway.

And you also discover that when you reach the goals that you wanted to reach, you’re still not happy. How many famous people have everything we’re supposed to live our lives for yet are clearly unhappy?

Lest some of my Christian friends think this is all about worldly success, think again. Consider how much we actually promote and live the idea of “making our mark” in the church. We love to hear teaching that’s focused on how we can “make a difference”, how we can be “God’s generals” in this world, how our lives can have purpose and meaning and how we can and should do “great things” for God.

I can produce a number of cliché’s that you hear in church circles and a lot of preaching to this effect. While it all sounds great on the surface, it’s not helping to get to the heart of what is a big secret sin even in the church – the sin of unhealthy, self-focused ambition.

We taint a lot of what we do with this kind of ambition. Think about how we often think – maybe we look at William Wilberforce and his work in abolishing the slave trade and we think to ourselves, “I also want to do something great like that.” Sounds fair, doesn’t it? But actually the focus is wrong. We don’t look to free slaves so that we can do “something great”. We look to free slaves so that slaves may be free. Anything else is a self-focused ambition laced in good-sounding intentions.

So long as our focus is to use that kind of thing to find purpose, we will never actually be content and we probably won’t even achieve the goal. The way I see it now, this thing is driven by the need to find purpose. We feel that if we’re ‘making a difference’ then our lives have meaning and purpose. But is it right that we find purpose in what our hands find to do? Even if we don’t have any intention of “being great”, should we find any meaning in our work at all?

I’ve examined the life of Jesus and noticed that he’s not interested at all in finding purpose in his work. I can’t see anywhere where he exhorts us to either. Why would Jesus need to get meaning and purpose out of his work? Does God find meaning in His work? Surely not. He might find enjoyment, but meaning?

Rather, Jesus finds meaning and purpose in who He is. God finds meaning in who He is. While He creates, he creates out of enjoyment and overflow, not out of finding meaning and purpose or even doing “something great”.

Likewise, I’m not ever meant to find meaning in my work, but rather in who I am, and even more who I am in God – in Jesus. Because ultimately my identity can’t really exist outside of this.

It can, but then I wouldn’t be a Christian, because fundamentally a Christian is one who follows Christ – for the purpose of both knowing Him and becoming like Him. When I became a Christian I laid aside all my own ambitions and plans and my need for purpose in what I do, and I entered into a new life and identity that is in fact based on a life in Jesus.

So, in the church, we can’t have this mix of ambition – where we will ‘make our mark’, be ‘someone who counts for God’  do ‘great things for God’ (insert other such phrases here). All that talk leads to division and nonsense within the church. How many pastors have divided churches out of their own ambitions?

That talk is soul destroying. It puts false ambition into our minds and hearts and has us strive to achieve ‘great things’ that God never even asked us to achieve. It feeds our need to also be great.

It makes loving a labourious task, because we no longer love to love but love ‘to count’ for God. In fact, our relationships start to mean far less because we’re too busy doing other things which we think God views as more important, so we can make our mark and ‘count’ for God. We’re completely sidetracked on some or other mission and those who hold us the most dear suffer for it.

Think about what ‘counting for God’ is actually saying about the Gospel – did Jesus die on the cross so we could strive to ‘count’ for God? Of course not.

While God has prepared good works for us to do, that doesn’t mean He wants us to find meaning and purpose in those good works. Those are natural outflowings of who we actually are, not the other way around. We’re not defined by those good works, be it our job, our profession, or our passions, but are defined by who God is and then who we are in Him.

That means that I’m free to no longer care about whether or not anyone is going to remember me when I pass away. I’m free from this idea of leaving a legacy. I free from having to make a mark.

God never asked me to “count” for Him or “count” for His Kingdom. Why would He need me to count for Him? What for? I can now live free and love free; free from constantly worrying if I’m doing everything right, if I’m counting enough, if I’m doing enough for the Kingdom.

Is that apathetic? Do I lack ambition? Yes, I do. The drive is gone. And so I’m free to love my family and friends and work colleagues and anyone who I’m in contact with. I’m free to go to the nations or help poor people because I’m not longer tied to caring about doing great things. My head space is no longer consumed with how I’m going to get there, to that illusive place, where finally I count. My past now is no longer a list of failures but a life lived. I can be content with it.

And I can be content with who I am. Contentment is worth much, much more than anything my ambitions could ever have given me. Because ultimately everything I thought I wanted would disappoint, and what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but to lose his soul? (Matt 16:26.)

I’m still trying to free myself from the need to count, but I’m getting there. And the process is liberating.

In retrospect, isn’t this the Gospel? The one that says I’m free from law and now living under grace? The one that says God already loved me even before I came to Him? The one that says I no longer need to labour and strive for significance and meaning and purpose and acceptance? Yes, that’s the one. That’s the one I believed from the start.

Blogs (Faith), Life, Life-Ecstatic (Faith)

When Your Job Sucks: The Doctrine of Vocation pt 2 – No Day is a Waste

In the first part of this series I introduced the Doctrine of Vocation – the Reformed Christian doctrine that basically says that God actually cares about the work you do during the day. I need to expound what the heck this means so that it’s clear why I find it so liberating.

In the “Lord’s Prayer” Jesus says we should ask God to “give us our daily bread”. But how does he answer this prayer? Does bread fall from heaven? Usually, no. What we usually mean is that God would give us a salary so that we can afford the bread. What we usually miss is the larger and ordinary means that the bread comes to us – through the work of wheat farmers and cow milkers and bakers and truck drivers and retailers and cashiers and probably others. Our daily bread comes through jobs – those people working to bring the bread to us are serving us, their neighbour.

What did Jesus say were the two greatest commandments? He said we are to love God and love our neighbour (Luke 10:27). The work we do every day is us loving our neighbour. It really is. That’s why the work is important – God sees it as part of the ‘good works’ he encourages us to do.

The idea of loving our neighbour has become very abstract these days. We often think it entails doing charitable things – giving a poor person some food, being nice to those at the office, or standing up for justice. All that is true, of course, and encouraged. But how many of us think the physical day to day work we do, regardless of how menial it is, is actually an act of loving our neighbour?

The Reformers called this our “vocation”. Vocation means “calling” but it’s a better word, I think, because it doesn’t come with the baggage that modern charismatic extremes have pinned onto the word ‘calling’ – God zapping some world-changing idea into our heads, telling us how we are going to do ‘big things for God’ and be ‘God’s man / woman of the hour’ and all those cliche phrases the televangelists like to use to pump us up. That idea, however, is exactly like the old Monastic idea where the only work God sees as important is work done in the Church because it means ordinary work isn’t big enough for God.

So we look for our ‘calling’ in the Church. What is it I can do? For some reason, we feel that serving tea on a Sunday morning at church is more important to God than serving tea at the office during the week; or serving tea at home to our family. We couldn’t be further off the mark. God sees them equally and is just as pleased with all of them.

The Doctrine of Vocation affirms something that I’ve found to become more and more important – how God works in ordinary ways. His means of answering our prayers usually comes through people’s vocations. Sick? Well, he might heal you supernaturally, but the doctor has been called by God as his means to make us well. In need of some inspiration or entertainment? Lo and behold, God has actually called the artist, musician, actor, director, video game designer or sportsman to serve you in that. Every job is a calling from God, besides the obvious ones like drug dealing and sex working.

Suddenly menial work is just as grand and important as the pastor who is ‘saving them by the millions’. God calls some to be evangelists, some to be teachers, some to be pastors, some to be video game designers.

Vocations don’t need to last forever they can often be seasonal things. We also have a number of vocations – serving our family is a vocation from God. We can get into finding our vocations in another post. For now, the point is that all work is seen by God as ‘good works’. See Eph 6: 5 – 7 in this light and things change.

This has been liberating for me for this reason: all throughout most of my twenties I did a job I hated. For eight years I did regular two-o’clock-in-the-morning stints, found myself constantly frustrated, and pretty much hated life. It was an endless slog that sent me into deep despair. Day after day I saw myself sinking into this deep dark pit of meaninglessness. Life felt utterly meaningless. I mean, it sucked. I tried to console myself through my music and my work at my church, but it all just wasn’t fitting.

At last, about five years ago, I grabbed at a chance to get out – I took a voluntary retrenchment and started freelancing as a writer. That, too, over the years has brought its own frustrations – especially the frustration of not being where I want to be yet. I want to be writing books, not writing articles all day. And that dream is nowhere near coming to pass.

Here’s the thing: I always looked back at those years as wasted years. I felt my job meant nothing to me or to others or even to God. I felt I had no impact on anyone’s life and did a botched up job not only in the work environment (ultimately, everything I worked at failed) but also never did anything I thought God would be interested in (no one got saved, no one cared). But, looking at it through this new lens, not one day was a waste. God saw all the hard work for the company as good works. God is not just interested when we help old grannies cross the road. He sees it all as good works. And he rewards good works.

His rewarding I’ll need to expound on in a further post as this one’s getting a bit long. For now, though, you can see why the Doctrine of Vocation had such an impact when the Reformers saw it. None of our work done is in vain. In fact, the idle rich are the ones who, despite living the ‘good life’, are going to be in trouble sooner or later. Jesus said that many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first (Matt 19:30). The guy who collects the rubbish, who works harder than the rich man who lives off an inheritance, will collect a far larger reward either in this life or the life to come. The rubbish collector doesn’t need to have a zillion people ‘come to Christ’ or stop slavery or create some new technology for God to count his work as good. He may die in obscurity to us, but never to God.

Suddenly, everything carries meaning as everything is counted as love towards my neighbour. That’s liberating. Motivating. And inspiring.

Blogs (Faith), Life, Life-Ecstatic (Faith)

When Your Job Sucks: The Doctrine of Vocation, Pt 1

(Read part two of this series here.)

For many (or most) of us, Sunday nights are often dampened by a feeling of dread, more or less. Tomorrow is Monday and it’s back to the grind. We feel that our work carries very little meaning and that everything actually requires work – even raising a family is work. It’s work, work, work all the way.

Is this sheer negativity? Or honesty? Well, perhaps a little bit of both. All of us are somewhere on the job satisfaction scale. But I think it’s true that we all do seem to look for some kind of meaning in our work – we want to know that what we do matters. We want our work to have impact in some positive way, but for most of us we feel that it’s either only the rich, company owners, presidents, CEO’s or pastors that seem like they can have any real impact.

The trouble here is that all five of those people get those jobs and – if they’ve managed to keep themselves from being influenced by corruption – find they are just as frustrated as the next person. Presidents can’t do whatever they want, they have layers of politics to sort out first. Business owners have to answer to shareholders. CEO’s have to walk a thin line to keep themselves from being fired. Pastors are frustrated with a lack of finances or may find that most of their job is just tied up in administrative work.

Most days are filled with menial tasks, regardless of your kind of job. Regardless of the PR surrounding people like Steve Jobs, I’m not convinced that he was always 100 percent happy with his impact.

In comes the Doctrine of Vocation, Reformed Christianity’s solution to the problem of work. It’s this doctrine that helped shape a prosperous Europe. The American Puritans were influenced heavily by this doctrine, forming their own out of it (the Puritan work ethic) that helped shape what America is today. Of course, in both cases secularisation has come in and tainted the original thinking – a focus on individual gifting in the doctrine is warped by secularised culture where the individual is the centre of the universe. A focus on hard work has led to abuse by secularised culture. And so it goes on.

But the doctrine is incredibly important yet extremely neglected in our modern day churches. Gene Edward Veith, a college dean, believes that the Doctrine of Vocation is second to the doctrine of ‘faith alone’. This is the doctrine that allows Christians to impact the world regardless of what they do.

Martin Luther is a forerunner in the forming of this doctrine. Back in Catholic / Monastic Europe, the only ‘holy office’ that God approved of (ie. the only work God saw as holy and important) was the work of the clergy. In many instances, ‘good works’ were relegated to prayer and spiritual disciplines rather than, well, feeding the hungry or doing a good job. This is because farmers and milkmaids and whatever else were not seen to be doing anything that God actually cared about. The Doctrine of Vocation put that thought right and set people free to approach their work with vigour, joy, and a great deal of meaning. Regardless of what they did. Because even the most menial jobs actually carry meaning.

The unfortunate neglect of this doctrine, particularly in evangelicalism, has led to a kind-of return to the old Catholic Monastic teaching above. Many Christians have no idea how their daily work can have any impact – they’re not content with their work – so they think the only impact they do have that’s meaningful is what they do in church – their contribution to the programs and activities of their church. Not that their contributions are not important or should end, but when life is only ever about our ‘ministry’ then we feel it’s only ‘ministry’ that has impact, rather than the ordinary, every day work that most of us do.

I’m on a journey of discovery here as I study this doctrine. I’ll be putting more posts up as I go. I’m currently working through Veith’s book called God at Work (link to the Kindle version below) and am convinced he is right – this doctrine needs a much more central space in our church life and teaching. Join me as a I post my findings and thoughts on this line of thought, which I have already found quite liberating, in the next couple of weeks.

Read part two of this series here.

Blogs (Faith), Life-Ecstatic (Faith)

Nature, Joy and Where Atheists Get it

In my last post, Where Surfing Gets It, I spoke about how a lot of surfers seem to understand something about living – connecting with the real world, the world of nature – the world of beauty, power, majesty, humility, and wildness (that’s a new embellishment for this post). I included love and relationships in my definition of the real world and contrasted this with what is often called the ‘real’ world but is actually the man-made world – the world of careers, ambitions, politics and so forth. You’ll need to read the post if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

You will notice that love, relationships and beauty don’t really feature in the ‘real’ world. You don’t talk about relational love when it comes to politics, careers, etc.

I’m always on a quest to connect with this real (natural) world because this is where I actually live. What I mean by ‘connect’ is to enjoy it both intellectually and viscerally. I’m looking to connect with it in some deep, dare I say spiritual way.

Whoa, hold on. Is this some New Age pantheist blog where we talk of ‘becoming one’ with the planet and all that? No. I don’t mean becoming one with the planet. What I mean is enjoying, marveling at, taking care of and savouring nature. I mean relating to it in a healthy way. A part of this savouring and enjoying is all about mystery. It’s the mystery of living and this world that intrigues me. It’s that mystery that I believe has something to do with God.

Before I delve into that, however, I want to state a case for loving this world. I’ll state it from both a philosophical and theological perspective.

Theologically, when I say ‘love this world’ I don’t mean the kind of world the Bible has in mind in 1 John 2:15, where it says: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

The ‘world’ there is the ‘real’ world above – the world of power plays and politics and manipulation etc. Man’s world, essentially, the world of injustice.

Romans 1 in the Bible tells us that God’s attributes are seen in nature. There’s an encouragement to use nature as a way of knowing God. My problem is that, interestingly, too few Christians really do this. In fact, atheists are often better at appreciating natural beauty than Christians, because too many Christians want to live in a different world rather than the world they’re actually in. I find this kind of approach sad, incredibly joyless, and, in fact, highly unscriptural.

I also find it leads to unhealthy fundamentalism. While we are ‘aliens in this world’ (1 Peter 2:11) that refers to being an alien and stranger in the world of man. We’re so alien, in fact, that we aim to belong to the created world in a bigger way than the world of man, which longs to manipulate and bend in every way. This is a large concept but I think I’ve stated my basic case. We aim to be down-to-earth while the world of man is constantly trying to aim for heaven. The tower of Babel in the book of Genesis serves as one example of how man longs to be God rather than man, in addition to the whole story of The Fall.

In contrast, healthy Christian theology has always taught that man is man and that man will find great joy once man lives as man and stops trying to live as God. From experience, I find this to be true, but its a pity we don’t realise that man lives in a natural world because God put him there. We ought to love the world God put us in because, well, it’s our world and God made it for us to enjoy. I believe that being comfortable about being a human is part of what leads to contentment and joy.

Nature is deep, mysterious and organic. This means it doesn’t function as a machine, although it does function in an ordered way. But the order is complex and often highly unpredictable. A surfer understands something of the waves and the sea at his favourite surf spot, but at the same time he knows that the sea is unpredictable. In fact, this unpredictability is exactly a part of what makes surfing so enjoyable.

Philosophically, atheists seem to get this idea of beauty. Well, not all of them, but a great deal of the naturalist kind do. I yearn to hear pastors and preachers and Christian writers talk about beauty and the wonder of nature like many atheists do. I have a lot of respect for atheists who know how to love and enjoy the world we’re in.

Check out this video as an example:

This is where mainstream Christianity can learn something from atheism – a proper respect and wonder for the world we live in.

Of course, my belief is that the “Romance” in the mystery of the world points us to God. Atheists won’t agree, I understand, but that’s where discussions around mysticism vs skepticism as worldviews come in.

Another time for that. What I’m talking about here, however, is not nature-worship (I say this for the sake of Christian fundamentalists who will read this blog) but rather a being in awe of a nature in a way that helps us be in awe of the creator. We need to relate to nature in a healthy way. So much so that I think this worship of God through nature, using the art we’re presented with to look in awe at the artist, as it were, is integral to finding joy and contentment. It’s part of how God invites us to enter into His very own joy of his own handiwork.

What does nature tell us about God? Many things. One is a wildness. God is often wild and unpredictable. True beauty often is. Two is relational. The Universe is a relational universe. But this is all for another post.

Blogs (Faith), Life-Ecstatic (Faith)

Where Surfing Gets It

I’ve only tried surfing once and, being such a bad swimmer (and it being a pretty miserable and cold day in East London) I didn’t get very far. Still, the whole culture around surfing and the idea itself has always intrigued me. It does for a lot of people. This weekend I rented a documentary on big wave surfing and a lot of what the surfers said really spoke to me in ways I didn’t expect. Or maybe I did. I don’t know. But I realised something about surfing and life and my own philosophical rantings.

My own philosophy and my theological meanderings always seem to focus around the same core things. At the end of the day I want to feel as if I’m really alive in this world – that each moment is real, that life is real. I want to connect with the real, know truly that I am alive and experience life pumping through my veins.

Matt Warshaw, a surfer, said this: “Surfing expresses … a pure yearning for visceral, physical contact with the natural world.”

This is why I think surfing gets it. When a surfer goes out there he connects with the real – he rides a wave of beauty, power and majesty. He gets a thrill out of doing so. He wants to come back and do it again. He’s connecting with the real world – the beautiful, good and ultimately thrilling world we’re surrounded with. The world that God made and called good in Genesis 1.

There are two worlds. The real world and the ‘real’ world. Many people will look at surfers and say they must come back to the ‘real’ world. What they mean is the man-made world. Careers, power, politics, money, image and so forth. Meanwhile the real world isn’t all that at all – it’s the air you breathe, the feeling of the sand in your toes, your newborn son’s cries, your lover’s touch, the power of a wave beneath you. This is the real world, the world as God created it, the world He enjoys and we can actually enjoy. We’re supposed to enjoy it, not destroy it or hate it and pray that God will one day take us out of it into some ethereal plain made of clouds.

God created life to be about the real – beauty, glory, relationship. While surfing is a notoriously selfish sport in some ways I think the connection with nature is vital. I’m not some pseudo new-ager in disguise, but I find that God in the Scriptures is decidedly down-to-earth. He likes what He made. So much so that He is renewing it, not destroying it, and when he will make a new earth (Rev 21:1) it’s still an earth. He likes the earth and the universe, I suspect.

I find new-age philosophy doesn’t get this. It’s so busy trying to show how humankind is divine that it is unable to connect us with what truly is divine. It sure tries, it sure says it wants to, but it fails.

I wish pop-theology and pop-christian-philosophy would get this. We’re so surrounded by imagery and ideas that are not down-to-earth but weird and super-spiritual and incredibly difficult to live under. Too much of Christian thinking lives in the ‘real’ world, with its politics and power and grand Babylonian-tower ideals and philosophies around how to do everything rather than in the real world, with its beauty, simplicity, dirt and, well, love. Most of the real world is quite mysterious – here formulas don’t work.

That’s why Jesus spoke in parables that relate to the real world – birds and flowers and so forth. I mean, he did for other reasons as well, but I think this might be one. It’s a great pity that contemporary Christianity doesn’t live in the waves with the mystery and beauty one finds there (if you get my metaphor) but rather lives in a concrete, man-made, neat-on-the-outside-but-rotting-on-the-inside jungle of ideas. You can have clean teeth but clean teeth don’t make you clean. It’s what inside that makes you clean (Matt 15:11).

In my blog and writing I’m ultimately trying to draw people away from the ‘real’ world and to the real world. Ultimately to God where the Joy and Connectedness we’re looking for is found (I do believe a big part of this drawing is through nature, which is worth discussing in my next post.) But sometimes even I get sucked into the ‘real’ world where I need to worry about my career and my influence and my ambitions and too many things to count. Some are valid, like investing for my kids’ future; some are truly time-wasting, because they don’t connect me to the real, like scouring the Internet trying to increase my profile as a writer.

What to do, I ask? Well, I’m digressing. Let’s look at what’s more important. In my next post I’ll continue to build the idea of connecting to God through nature and in this I think surfing gets it too. Some surfers or ordinary people probably think I’m being crazy or weird about this, but you’ll see what I mean in the next post.