Life, Life-Ecstatic (Faith), Worldview & Culture

Kurt Cobain and Jesus

Kurt Cobain from Nirvana

Kurt Cobain (centre) with Nirvana band members Krist Novoselic (left) and Dave Grohl (right) in a fabulously 90's-styled photograph

Last week was the 20th anniversary of Nirvana‘s Nevermind album, an album (and a time) that had a profound effect on my generation and culture – a middle-class Generation Xer who was just entering high school when the whole ‘grunge’ music scene broke in America. This little write-up is my way of commemorating the album.

I watched a documentary on the making of the Nevermind album with my dad on Saturday and walked away with a buzz of thoughts in my head. The question of what made Kurt Cobain (the lead singer of Nirvana) so influential and moving was on the mind. I then delved on the thought of how people called Cobain ‘messianic’ in a way and began to wonder about this phrase and think of how Jesus and Cobain could possibly be similar.

The crunch is an interesting one. The thing about Cobain is that he was aregular guy getting on with the struggles common to his generation and he sang about these. That was the instant connection many had with him. In a world that was, prior to the grunge revolution, dominated by glam, fashion, corporate perfectionism, Christian religious conservatism, and a myriad of other voices telling us how to live, act, and be; a lone voice singing about how things really were and how we really felt – alienated, different, misunderstood – was a welcome change. Even though many times no one really understood what he was singing about (he would regularly say that people got it wrong) there was some understanding that he was singing about something you knew all too well.

Cobain’s struggles and the struggles of my generation, in retrospect, were actually not that unique. Many people trumped the whole thing up to teen angst, but the reality is those feelings of alienation and frustration with this world are not unique to teens. As adults we might have learned to handle those things in various areas in various ways, or we might have just given up and gone with it, or learned to hide our feelings better etc. but the simple truth is that most common people, like me (and probably you reading this) are still, quite truly, powerless in this world and frustrated with its voices and the pressure it puts on us to be what it wants us to be.

Cobain might have been a kind of messianic figure in that he resonated with the common person (and this is an interesting point which I’ll delve into below) but the problem is that I think he both didn’t really know his enemies – he was almost boxing the air, rebelling against a system but not knowing exactly how to do that – and he provided no actual salvation out of the situation.

Now we look at Jesus and we see some connections here. Jesus was also a revolutionary, a rebel, but he wasn’t boxing the air. He knew who the enemies of mankind actually were, and these are precisely the things he rebelled against.

When you look at Cobain’s music you see these enemies pop up but he doesn’t know how to deal with them and in many ways he actually just accepts that he’ll need to live with some of his demons – indeed, just do what those demons tell him to do. I’m using the word ‘demons’ first metaphorically but I’m going to come at it a different angle later.

One of the three enemies we see Jesus rebel against is the system of the world. And this is precisely where, I think, many Christians have misunderstood and have actually lost their ability to be relevant. Cobain was relevant because he rebelled against an oppressive society (that’s what the Bible refers to when it talks about ‘the world’). Jesus was relevant because he did as well.

In the society of Jesus there was the religious society which hated him, because he rebelled against their oppression. Religious society was intrinsically linked to politics and Jesus rebelled against this whole idea as well. Now, in our days, we see this all too often (especially in America) – religious ideas are tied into political ideas and vice versa. The result is an oppressive system that tells you how you ought to look, what you should eat, how you should talk, what kind of music you should listen to, who you should vote for, what you should vote for, and so on. It tries to control every area of your life – your private and your public – and sets itself up to be God.

God is very interested in every area of our lives but not in the same way. The life of Jesus shows how God is interested – he wants to bring healing, restoration, joy and life into every area of our lives. Rather than tell us what to wear, he wants us to be ourselves. Jesus is not that concerned over who you vote for, but there is a reality that the Kingdom of God is about seeing society transformed from an oppressive society to a free society. A society where my freedoms actually don’t encroach on yours, either. (This requires more explanation and I don’t have the space.)

Jesus also understood the powerlessness of the ordinary man, mainly because he lived like an ordinary person. He wasn’t even some rich king who give up his goods to live amongst the ‘common people’ but was a common person from birth – the son of a carpenter, living in dusty desert towns.

In those days, much like these, if you didn’t have a lot of money, weren’t of noble background, or were in the wrong place at the wrong time you were powerless. Consider today, how common people like you and I are powerless in the face of corporations, governments, banks, and even religious institutions. Cobain often sang of this powerlessness as a young man starts realising that, quite honestly, all the dreams of his childhood are crushed by real living. It’s not because real life sucks, it’s because the system of the world sucks life out of you, oppresses you, ensures you’re powerless and that all the money and power goes into the hands of the elite which we must serve with our hearts and lives.

I realise this might be a melodramatic picture but it’s not too far away from my reality as a middle-class white guy living in South Africa. If I’m not careful the banks, as an example, will own me for the rest of my life. If I don’t know how to discern religion from what the Bible calls ‘true’ religion, I will be driven by a religious organisation that wants to control my life. If I don’t know how to separate my political opinions correctly, politics will dictate to me for the rest of my life. If I don’t keep my wits about me, corporations will tell me what to buy and why I’m not a success if I don’t buy their car, product etc. and consumerism will start consuming me. The system of the world oppresses us on every corner.

If Christians, like me, want to be relevant we better know how to relate to the common person. In many ways, I think God doesn’t take us out of tough situations sometimes so that we know how to relate to the common person. If I didn’t experience the oppression of the world in my own life in some way, then I would never understand just how the world oppresses the common person and I would be irrelevant to the common person. Rebels are relevant because they’re really the common person who understands the common struggle. Jesus is relevant today because he not only knew the struggle, he experienced it himself – eventually experiencing the ultimate injustice as the systems of the world put him onto a cross when he was the least deserving of such a death.

There are two other enemies which haunted Cobain and which Jesus understood and looked to defeat through his life, death and (yes) resurrection. These other two are sin and Satan. These two are difficult for people who hold different beliefs to me to really take seriously (indeed, sometimes I struggle to as well because of our culture) but they’re worth bringing up.

We see Cobain struggles with his own sins regularly – it seems to me they troubled him and he was frustrated because the world and not even religious institutions had any grace. This is true – there is no grace in the world system. If you’re not on the top of the game (and even if you are) you are vulnerable and, if you make one mistake, you can pay with it for the rest of your life (think of debt and so on). Religious systems are the same in their own way. It’s unfortunate that, from a spiritual perspective, Cobain turned towards more religion (Buddhism) as an answer. Buddhism doesn’t really have any grace but, as far as I’m concerned, ties you into an oppressive system of karma that insists you will pay, if not in this life, in the next for everything you’ve done wrong and the only way of changing that is to do right. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to indicate just how much you need to do right before you’ve satisfied Karma – and besides, even sometimes we do the right thing and people still get hurt.

Jesus attacked the enemy of sin and how our sins haunt us through grace. That’s what his death is all about – he paid the price of sin so that we don’t need to. God has come to heal, not condemn. He gives us His spirit if we trust in Him so we can change and sin can rule over us less and less (sometimes even instantly with certain sins) but we now sit under a system of grace, not oppression, of acceptance not performance. Again, this can be explored in many books but I think the basic point here is made clear.

The last one, Satan – the spiritual evil of this world that tempts, deceives, and so on. People believe that they’re doing the right thing by oppressing others because they’re deceived into thinking that. People think their sins can save them because they’ve been deceived into thinking so.

I don’t believe there’s a little red man sitting on our shoulders telling us what to do, but I do believe that demonic oppression is very real and we see Jesus dealt with that thing over and again in people’s lives and, ultimately, by defeating Satan on the cross and being raised up to life on the third day. Satan’s deception into bringing us all into sin has brought death into this world. Jesus conquered death and promises all those who believe in Him that they will too.

The reality is while there isn’t a little red man sitting on our shoulder there is certainly a world system that truly looks like it’s influenced by some sort of spiritual evil. You don’t look at the Nazi ideology and think that humans came up with it all themselves. There’s always this underlying Madness, this strange Insanity, a dark spiritual evil that looks to influence in various ways.

I realise this may come across to some as superstitious but it requires some thought and also a clearing away of cartoonic ideas of a man with a forked tail and a pitchfork. Jesus knew that his enemy was not people but the spiritual evil influencing those people and that’s precisely what he targeted. Cobain, unfortunately, fell into the trappings of such spiritual evils and as a result couldn’t love himself, with the end result seeing him dead on the 8th of April 1994. (And, then, unfortunately pop and rubbish music went back to being the mainstream. Man, I miss those days in music!)

Jesus has defeated this spiritual evil and will one day bring His final justice on it by throwing Satan and his demons into the place reserved for them (not reserved for humans) – the lake of fire. I’m not keen to get into a discussion about hell here but if you struggle with God as a judge, read the Gospels and see that Jesus’ heart is not to judge mankind but to judge Satan and his demons, sin and the oppressive systems of this world. (Unfortunately, though, some humans have decided that Satan, the world and sin are all pretty good ideas, and they will be judged appropriately.)

Cobain was a legend in his own way and it’s a huge pity that his life was ended by the very enemies he tried to rebel against, but this is the way it goes when you don’t fight with the right weapons. I don’t believe we can rebel against the unholy trinity of the world, sin and Satan without the power of God – which God gives us through his Holy Spirit when we decide to put our trust in Him and not in ourselves or the unholy trinity. Cobain is an example of how we are unable to save ourselves.

I don’t mean to set up the sad death of someone as some sort of moral example, trivialising the sadness of his death, but in a way it is also honouring to him (I believe) to learn from his life.

Nirvana were never a technically good band in terms of music but I have to say that I miss that whole time of music when the scene wasn’t dominated by fashion and glam and image and, frankly, stupidity like we have to be subjected to today with Lady Gaga and the like. The record industry did, admittedly, make a fashion out of non-fashion (as true Capitalists would) and make a trend out of rebellion against the trends, but heck it was still a lot more real than Lady Gaga who thinks that being bisexual makes you relevant. I don’t think it does. (Yes, I know Cobain once said he might be bisexual too, but anyway.) It just means you’re a part of this oppressive system that hates us. It doesn’t make you a rebel it makes you a conformer.

I, for one, refuse to conform to any of it. That’s why I follow Jesus.

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Today’s Christian Doing Spiritual Warfare

A Christian man woke up on a Saturday morning and decided to take a ‘prayer walk’ down the road.

He got dressed, grabbed his Bible and a few things and quickly set out. It was a beautifully crisp autumn morning.

“Oh Lord, please give me opportunities to share your goodness and your Gospel with the world!” he prayed.

After a few minutes a real downtrodden-looking woman passed him and stood in his way.

“Could you please spare some change? I’m so hungry and have nothing to eat,” she said.

“Sorry,” said the man. “I’m busy praying. Can’t help you right now.”

He continued to walk and now his praying got more aggressive.

“Devil! I command you to loose yourself from my city! In the name of Jesus I command you and your demons to go!”

A middle-aged man was hobbling towards him. It seemed as if his one leg was shorter than the other, and he seemed to have a really bad cough. Altogether, it looked as if sickness was getting the better of him.

“Oh, I wish I could walk like you do! And be in such good health!” the middle-aged man said to the Christian as they passed.

“Sorry, I’m a little busy to talk right now. I’m doing spiritual warfare,” said the Christian.

Eventually he found a bench and sat down, taking out his Bible. He remembered reading about a spiritual technique called “Lectio Divina”, a way of reading scripture and praying that was practiced by early monks. He started practicing this spiritual discipline.

A rather smartly dressed man holding a few magazines under his arm came and sat down next to him. He opened one of the magazines entitled, “Atheism today” and browsed through it. Another was called, “The New Age Correspondent.” He browsed through this too and turned towards the Christian, who looked up.

The smartly dressed man was looking quite intently at him.

“Have you heard?” he said. “God is dead. Or he may just be the Universe, a cosmic goodness we can become by looking deeply enough inside ourselves to find our Inner Goodness.”

“Sorry,” said the Christian, quite politely. “I’m busy reading my Bible and praying right now. No time to chat.”

The smartly dressed man carried on browsing his magazines and then eventually left. The Christian, having finished his spiritual exercises, stretched and went back home.

He grabbed his car keys and decided to go shopping.

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The Devil: You Can’t Be Serious

One of the things that I have struggled with in my own faith, and I know others struggle with in regards to my faith, is this thing of a being called the Devil, or Satan.

See what 1 John 3:8b says:
“The reason the Son of God (Jesus Christ) appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”

It’s become helpful in understanding how the New Testament in particular deals with the devil. Firstly, the name “Satan” means “Accuser” — this is a first clue as to what “the devil” is about. He is “the accuser” who brings all sorts of accusations against us with regards to who we are, our identity, how guilty we are etc.

These ‘accusations’ don’t come from a little red man sitting on our shoulder, however, they come from the families, societies and systems of thought we find ourselves in. So “Satan” is not just a real being, but represents the accusations we find running through our lives and even in our own conscience.

And here’s how ‘the devil’ works, by implementing harmful systems and cycles and thinking patterns in our lives that cause us to think of ourselves in certain ways and act in certain ways.

I believe that “the demonic” is real because I’ve seen some crazy stuff happen. Guys doing crazy things that seem humanly impossible. I’ve seen stuff. I can’t deny there is something out there working against us because of what I’ve seen and experienced.

At the same time, I don’t believe there’s a devil sitting on our shoulder trying to get us to do naughty things or telling us how to think about ourselves. What ‘the devil’ and ‘the demonic’ have done is implement a wicked system in our world, through deceiving us in many ways, that runs its course unless God steps in to break it. This is what God did do in Jesus.

It’s helpful to understand how the New Testament talks about Jesus destroying the devil’s “works”. The book of Revelation shows how Jesus will eventually destroy the devil himself, but at the moment it’s his works that are destroyed and being destroyed.

Peter in Acts 10:38 says this:

“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and … he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power (or oppressed by) of the devil, because God was with him.”

And finally, Ephesians 6:12 says that our battle is not against “flesh and blood” but against “the authorities, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

So, Jesus came to destroy his ‘works’ — the cycles and systems we see working in our own thinking, in families, and in societies. As Christians we implement his victory over the devil and his works into all these aspects of living.

From a scientific point of view, I’ve found it interesting how many sceptics are happy to accept that intelligent life could exist out on other planets but are not happy to accept that angels and demons exist. Angels and demons are simply an intelligent life, although they are not visible to our eye directly. So? Why should we assume all intelligent life has to function in the same material sphere as we do?

I’ll expound on this later this week. I’ll also talk about some things I believe Jesus came to break, such as sickness, poverty etc.

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Raised with Christ – The Body of Messiah

The Resurrection of Christ by Irina Kolbneva.
(The Resurrection of Christ by Irina Kolbneva, see

Eph 1: “…what is the immeasurable greatness of his power to us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ [Messiah] when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

“And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

(The word ‘Christ’ means ‘Messiah’, and I like the word ‘Messiah’ because it seems to carry more meaning to me than the Greek word ‘Christ’.)

The Christian idea that the church is the body of Messiah is a very mysterious and very interesting idea, one that encourages me greatly but also challenges me in terms of my work and purpose in my life.

The Scriptures are emphatic that the church is the actual, real, body of Messiah Jesus – in a spiritual way, of course, but a spiritually practical way.

As the body of Messiah we carry the same authority of Lord Messiah, who is Jesus. I’m speaking about it in this way because the word Christ is often used as a surname for Jesus rather than a title. Messiah means “anointed, chosen saviour”. So, in a very spiritual way the church is the anointed, chosen saviour’s body.

This means we carry the anointing (the call, commission and ability) of Messiah, which is an anointing to save, heal, bind up the brokenhearted, and set the captives free (Isaiah 61). It also means we are to carry the sufferings of Messiah, which was a suffering of persecution and the turmoil of wanting to see people saved (not sickness, I must add, but persecution).

It also means we have the authority of Messiah, authority over principalities and powers (Eph 6). These principalities and powers are demonic (evil) powers at work in the hearts and societies of men, which bring injustice, poverty, sickness and tyranny.

So we bring healing, salvation and all of that to not just the hearts of men but the societies of men.

We are to implement Messiah’s authority into society – which is bringing his kingdom into society. What does his Kingdom look like, though? Is it a tyrannical theocracy?

No, rather it is a kingdom of justice, peace, abundance (shalom in Hebrew), healing, reconciliation and salvation. This is what Messiah Jesus was anointed to do, this is what we’re to do.

I love this! It’s exciting and it reveals the purpose of Christianity. I don’t believe in Jesus just because it’s an insurance policy, but because I want the same anointing Jesus had to bring healing and salvation to this world – this comes both through the message of Jesus (that He alone saves) and the good works of His people (which includes forming systems of justice in place of systems of injustice).

So we have purpose, and it’s a grand and powerful vision indeed.

For those in the Sandton area, Shannon and I will be preaching about this on Sunday, which is Resurrection Sunday, at Church on the Square at 8 Stella Street, Sandton. Starts at 9:30am.

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Why Freedom of Speech and Politics is Spiritual

The Old Courthouse, courtesy of

In my #SpeakZA post from yesterday I mentioned that the topic of freedom of speech and press was, in my view, a ‘spiritual’ topic as much as any.

I thought I would make it clear why I believe that. Some people might find such a statement unusual, others will agree with me, so this is obviously for the former.

The idea of freedom of speech has, in its original form, to do with justice in this world — allowing people to air their opinions without the sword of the state coming down on them. Justice is, of course, a spiritual topic as much as a governmental or a political one, although ultimately it is a spiritual topic because government and politics are too.

Note what I am not saying. I am not saying it is a ‘religious’ topic. Religion and spirituality, although sometimes intertwined, are not really the same thing, at least not in the way I make my definitions.

Religion has more to do with doing things or acts that will somehow help someone to attain favour with God or attain salvation. I don’t believe that’s a healthy spirituality.

Tradition (worth a mention) is simply a way in which someone may live out their spirituality, so there is nothing wrong with tradition in my eyes, until tradition becomes a religion.

Spirituality is an all-encompassing term for living, in the way I like to use the term.

Let me put it another way. Many Christians prefer to live a faith and spirituality that’s about Jesus rather than the faith and spirituality of Jesus. The spirituality of Jesus is clear when one reads the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible. Here are some pointers about Jesus’ spirituality:

1) He was compassionate to all.
2) He had a strong sense of justice mixed with mercy. (No justice system is truly just unless it understands mercy– but mercy cannot be mercy without a proper justice system, either.)
3) He healed all who came to him. Both physically and emotionally.
4) He was a Hebrew man, which means that he never separated spirituality from living. (This is part of my point. The separating of spirituality from living is a Greek tradition, not a Hebrew tradition.)
5) He worshipped the God of the Hebrews, Yahweh.
6) He called himself the Son of Yahweh.

There’s more too, of course. This is only a small list to get to the jist of my point. From this list we can see where politics and government fit in — our government ought to be compassionate, just and merciful. But these are issues that primarily have to do with the heart of man. Hence, a spiritual issue as much as any.

I mention Yahweh to show that if I follow the spirituality of Jesus I think it is necessary to also worship Yahweh. This, and the fact that Jesus called himself Yahweh’s Son, shows that spirituality is ultimately a relational thing — a relationship with God and our fellow man. I believe Jesus is the one who can bridge the gap in our relationship between both God and man, if we believe in him.

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RE: Foundation. Very Exciting! Living the Gospel, Man.

I might do a little work for the RE-Foundation, in terms of writing the content for its website. The RE-Foundation is an exciting not-for-profit organisation that goes into war-torn areas (currently Uganda) and performs reconstructive surgery on those who can’t afford it.

In wars people get burned, have ligaments crushed, and all sorts of terrible things. Surgeons, Occupational Therapists, Physios, and others can do a great deal in nursing these injuries and often restoring these areas of the body to function properly again. Shannon, my wife, is an occupational therapist for hands, and I’m amazed what they can do for all sorts of injuries. Really awesome stuff.

Going into war-torn areas, helping people, healing them, loving them… wow, it’s all part of the Gospel man. It’s living the Gospel. It moves me.

Here’s a video about the Re-Foundation. Visit the website if you’re interested in finding more details or supporting this great idea!

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Faith is of the Heart

In a previous post I outlined my struggle with ‘faith-healing’ teachings and how Jesus commended certain people for having faith in the Bible.

I said that his commendation wasn’t so much a commendation to them as a rebuke to others – that, it may be, the thing is that faith is actually an easy thing to do. Putting our trust in God is something that isn’t difficult to actually do – anyone can do it – yet so many in Israel couldn’t do it. Perhaps one of the points of those stories in the Scriptures is to show how the ordinary people could trust in God yet many of the scribes, Pharisees, and all those who should have found it easy to trust in Him found it difficult.

Since then I’ve come to realise something more and that is that faith comes from the heart, not the head. But in all my life I guess I’ve kept trying to get the head to believe, when the head is only there to help the heart to believe.

And it’s the heart that God wants, isn’t it? That’s why faith can be hard – while it isn’t difficult to place our trust in Jesus it is difficult for the trust to remain when things go wrong. Yet faith means we continue to believe despite that. Faith means we continue to believe even when our heads tell us we shouldn’t.

That’s why faith is a relational thing; not an agreement to certain beliefs of statement, but a trust in a person called Jesus. A trust that says, ‘Yes, you are good,’ despite whatever is happening around us.

Beliefs of statement can help us to get our trust aligned correctly, but doctrine must drop from our heads into our hearts – if it stays in our heads it’s actually no good, really.

Doubt and unbelief in the Bible are an issue of the heart, not the head. Faith is a thing of the heart, not the head. The promise from God is that He will change our hearts (Ez 36:26).

Our part is to take the risk with him that He will — and that too is faith.

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Your Faith Has Made You Well

I’ve often been quite confused about certain verses in Scripture where Jesus tells those he has healed “Your faith has made you well.”

Why it has confused me is because of all the faith-healing teachings I’ve received in my life. Most of faith-healing teaching revolves around faith being the secret ingredient to see you well, and if you’re sick and someone prays for you and you DON’T get well, you’re told “You don’t have enough faith.”

This has confused me. Just how much faith am I supposed to have to receive a healing? How do I know when I’ve got the ‘right amount’ of faith? I’m pretty sure I believe, I’m pretty sure I trust God to heal, and now you tell me I don’t have ‘enough’ trust? It doesn’t make sense – it’s impossible to have more ‘trust’ than just plain simple trust.

Jesus’ words “Your faith has made you well,” seen in Mark 5:34 to the women with the issue of blood (who just touched his garment and was made well); Mark 10:52 to a blind man who was persisting for Jesus to heal him; and Luke 17:19 to the leper who came back to thank Jesus for healing him (and many other places), have all been used to validate this kind of doctrine.

Plus, Jesus’ commendation to the centurion who had ‘great faith’ in Matt 8:5-13, where Jesus also says to the man “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed,” is used to further illustrate the point.

I’ve really battled with this as it doesn’t make sense. It makes ‘faith’ to be the power to see you healed, not God. If you have enough ‘faith’ (who knows when you do?) then you’re healed. Otherwise God is powerless?

I’ve been battling again with this yesterday, especially as I’ve been doing a study on Acts 3:16 where Peter has healed a cripple and says it was neither by their power or their piety (holiness) that it happened, but by the authority of Jesus. As I said above, I’ve often even heard people speak about faith being the ‘power’ to heal. That makes no sense whatsoever – how could trusting someone (a relational dynamic) be a ‘power’? This isn’t magic we’re dealing with.

But, lying in bed last night I think Jesus showed me something that really opened my mind and heart.

All of these people above didn’t really have any special ‘faith’. Jesus says their faith (which means ‘trust’, a believing that also incorporates some action) has made them well. The point was that they were ordinary people trusting as much as ordinary people can and do. They did nothing special except act on that trust, by going to Jesus, touching his robe, pleading to him, etc. They had as much faith as any normal person in the history of the world and today has ever had or can have.

When Jesus commends the Centurion for having great faith in Matthew 8, notice what he says in verse 10 – “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” Was Jesus commending the centurion as much as he was rebuking Israel? Sometimes we may miss the clear rebuke to Israel – Jesus is saying not even God’s people could do something as simple as the Centurion did. There was nothing special about his faith. The marvel is that Israel couldn’t even just trust in such a simple way – Israel was unable to do the simplest of things, because of the state of their hearts.

These are written down for our edification. There is nothing special about any of the people Jesus made well. They possessed no more faith than ordinary people — they were ordinary people! That’s the point. That’s what Jesus is illustrating..

In Luke 17 the disciples ask for Jesus to ‘increase their faith’ in vs 5. He answers by saying they need faith like a grain of mustard seed. We all know it’s small, and we also know that it can grow. But to trust God for healing is not difficult and it requires no major effort. You just have to do it – but it’s in the ‘doing it’, in the actual trusting, that we struggle. But if we believe, we believe, we don’t have to believe ‘more’ to see ourselves healed. There is no measure of ‘more believing’ – we can all believe as much as the next person, and that believing is enough.

Immediately after the disciples ask for their faith to be increased Jesus talks about unworthy servants – is he saying that trust (faith) is more than just doing what you’re told? Then it goes straight into the story of the lepers, where Jesus says to one of them ‘your faith has made you well’.

He didn’t do anything special, he came back and thanked Jesus when the others didn’t. But he did nothing ultimately special. He did something every single one of us has the ability to do. Every one of us have the ability to trust Jesus. Jesus keeps harping on people’s faith to show how simple it is, not to give us some ridiculous bar we must measure up to.

I think this makes a heck of a lot of more sense than what I’ve been taught previously. The only thing is, it needs to be put into practice, and that’s where I struggle. I need to risk it with Jesus and pray for others to be healed, trusting they will be. Is that easy? No. But it doesn’t require a great amount of faith – it requires the amount of trust in God that any human being has the ability to have – it just requires I do it.

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Atheism, Scepticism, Miracles, Apologetics

Who's going to believe the dog really ate your homework?

I’ve been spending some time milling about the blog Debunking Christianity, the spot in the great www from the writer and debater John Loftus, a former Christian turned atheist.

I haven’t really engaged Loftus directly in any way, as I’m probably fairly unskilled at the kind of apologetics he is probably used to engaging. However, I spend a lot of time reading up and mixing myself in these kinds of debates on the Internet and with those I know, and the relentless arguing can get quite irritating eventually.

I have rejected atheism for a number of reasons, one of which include its tendency to be very one dimensional and quite sure of itself to have all the answers. I could go into detail, but that would be beyond the scope of this post.

What I really wanted to say is that I’m becoming increasingly aware that the arguments really don’t go far very quickly. I know that the debating between Christian apologists and Atheist apologists is mostly for the sake of those listening, not for the debaters themselves, who never really seem to change their viewpoints but just get more clever. But some of the arguments ARE indeed clever, and for most normal people perhaps overwhelming (so they easily lose faith) or irrelevant, depending on where they are at.

There’s a song we sing quite often at Church on the Square, called “Famous One” by Chris Tomlin. In the second verse, there is a line that says this about God:

“Revealed by nature, and miracles…”

I believe God is revealed through his creation (nature), and the Bible affirms this in Romans 1. But it does seem that this revealing can often be misunderstood, which is perhaps why God has also provided us with the Bible and other ways of revealing himself.

But one of his other ways of revealing himself is surely the use of miracles, which we see Jesus use extensively.

The fact of the matter is that I feel that most of the time miracles will probably cease all the arguing. Sure, a true sceptic will ALWAYS find a reason to disbelieve and that is one of scepticism’s principle weaknesses, but most normal people cannot dispute miracles, which perhaps includes the prophetic in some way.

Miracles and healing in the church has probably been ‘ruined’ in some way through some faulty theology surrounding it, and I think it should be the job of many Christians to try and break through and find the right theology surrounding it. In fact, we should probably spend more time doing that than getting involved in all these relentless arguments which, although helpful, are not the principal way we can actually DO apologetics. Jesus’ apologetics appears to not just be about arguing, but a lot of DOING as well.

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Equip Gauteng Was Great!

At last, after spending the entire weekend working at the rAge video gaming event at the Coca-Cola Dome, Northgate (JHB) I’m able to post a quick blog about the Equip Gauteng time that happened from Wednesday night to Friday night this last week.

(For those interested, check out the great coverage for rAge at

Anyway, Equip Gauteng was awesome. Although I had to work Friday at rAge, the time I did manage to spend at Equip was really awesome.

God really moved and spoke to me over the weekend, thanks to the wonderful facilitation done by the guys who came to preach and facilitate the electives.

Terry Virgo was one of these, and I thoroughly enjoyed his talk about the Holy Spirit, where he related his own walk into understanding the Holy Spirit.

I did the “Holy Spirit and Evangelism” elective, which had Keir Taylor and a team of others (whom I admit I don’t know) administer a wonderful time while relating some of their own experiences with the Holy Spirit. It’s really interesting to see how the same God works so personally and differently with everyone.

I think I’m finally starting to get it. Rather than trying to understand how the Holy Spirit works through some calculated, mechanical method, this keeping in step with the Spirit thing is more about the wind blowing wherever it pleases (John 3:8). This means the Holy Spirit, although the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, is also rather unpredictable. You can’t box Him and expect Him to react in a certain way. He blows wherever He pleases, and will do whatever He wants to do.

Of course, when people hear this they think that it’s all about throwing our heads away and forgetting about the Word. But this was Tyrone’s point – for too long the Church has argued over being either “Word based” or “Spirit based”, with people sitting in only one of these camps.

But actually, the Church needs to be Word AND Spirit based, the two working hand-in-hand.

Tyrone’s illustration that he has been using lately focuses around an aeroplane. An aeroplane needs TWO wings to fly, not one, and – likewise – the Church needs both Word AND Spirit to do what God has called us to do on this planet.

This is so integral to what we see in the Bible that to ignore it results in dire consequences for the Church.

Personally, I have faith more than ever now to see healings take place through simple prayer. Not mechanical prayer based on all the formulas I’ve been taught (“Say this!” “Believe like this!” etc.) but simple prayer with faith in Jesus to do what He did on this earth before when He walked it; not to try and formulaise anything when I see healings happen, but to simply let the Holy Spirit blow wherever He pleases; to stop trying to calculate and manipulate God, but rather simply live in the freedom He gives.

I’m excited!