Monday, March 09, 2015

Geloof

Ek glo nie dat geloof, net 'n oppervlakkige vraag is van of daar 'n God is of nie. Ek glo dat geloof, 'n daaglikse daad is van jouself in Sy sorg begewe. 'n Vertroue in Sy karakter, eerder as 'n opinie oor Sy bestaan.

I don't believe that Faith is simply a matter of believing that God exist. I believe that Faith is a daily decision to hand yourself over to God care. A trust in His Character, rather than an opinion about His existence.

Don't Disqualify

The greatest issue with all the “Tree of Knowledge” based teaching these days, is not just that a veil lies upon the hearts and minds of the listener (2 Corinthians 3:15 Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand), but that each time the law is read, many who were sent, are confronted with every reason which disqualifies them from doing the WORK, that Christ have called them to do.
2 Corinthians 3:6 He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.

Friday, March 14, 2014

My Two boys

I have the two most beautiful sons that have graced my wife and me with their presence for the last decade or so, and from these boys I have learned so much. I always thought parents teach children how to live life and how to make good, honourable, low risk choices to ensure a future filled with good wholesome experiences. Turns out every day I learn from my boys. Well not every day, life is hardly that packed. At least my life isn’t so full that I can say I learn every day. I have always thought that is a bit of a cliché. But everyday has the capacity to hold many learning experiences, if we care to learn. I guess that is one of the lessons I have learned from my boys. You only learn if you care to learn. I made many of the same parenting mistakes more than just a few times before each of the ones that I have managed to grow beyond, actually became a lesson; the critical thing not being the repetition, but the change in focus. I had to choose to learn. I guess if I had a keener mind and a more dedicated focus, I could have learned something from them every day; but then I’d be prefect now and how boring would the rest of my life have been? Not to mention the gigantic pain in the behind I’d be if I knew everything and have learned all of the lessons that I was supposed to have learned from my boys.

One of the great lessons I have learned from my boys, is that being a child comes with an extraordinary limitless capacity to being forgiven and for forgiving. I don’t care to delve into just exactly how imperfect I am as a parent, suffice to say I am human, but in spite of me dutifully inflicting my  particular brand of parenting on my two sons, they both still really love me. I don’t know why, but they honestly do. When I get home, they storm me (most days if the TV isn’t more interesting in the moment) and they jump on my neck, fighting of Goliat (our standard poodle) to make sure they get to say hi first. The poodle naturally is happy to see me, he is a dog and we all know how they are. But the boys have minds of their own and they have feelings, aspirations, memories of yesterday and an understanding of my flaws, yet they choose to fight past Goliat and press in to show their joy at my return from work. Nothing is quite as special as that.

They are also very good at receiving forgiveness. I mean they can literally mess up worse than I can explain, and at the first glance of genuine forgiveness, they just push back in and sit on my lap. The other day on our way to church I explained to them that they are now old enough to listen and to participate in the service, and if they don’t wish to participate that they should at least respect others and listen quietly. Halfway through the worship service just glance back to see what the boys are up to, as I have become accustomed to do several times each service. The first think I noticed is that for several rows behind me everyone was focussed on this green mass that occupied the chair where I had last seen my oldest boy. The second think I noticed was this massive green person that appeared to be engaged in this reverse Houdini stunt of trying to get as much of themselves zipped into his green jacket. I mean head, arms, legs, and torso, all in the jacket. It only took my razor sharp mind a second to realize that my son had drawn a good quarter of the people in the service into his act. I was less than amused and I unzipped the green object with quite a bit more vigour than I cared to put on display, but in that same instant I was calm and friendly again. Now this is not my normal holy self, but I was having a good day and a good worship service. My sons response to the quick rebuke wasn’t to sulk and immersion himself in shame because he drew a rebuke as I often do when I realize that had been wrong, but he moved on quickly and moments later when I sat down to listen to the sermon, he was quick to hop onto my lap, grabbing each of my arms to fold it around him. I wish I could respond to God in that way, moving on rapidly from a rebuke and pressing on into his presence without even a thought of moments past.

Another thing that I have learned from my kids is that judging others are not my business. My two sons are very different people. My oldest (Mr. Reverse Houdini) is often in trouble and slow to respond to direct instructions that don’t fit immediately into his own plans. The youngest is the exact opposite, most of the time. He goes out of his way to stay out of trouble and he is very careful to do what he is told. Quite often when instructions include both of them the youngster will have done his bit before his older brother even starts to show that he heard me and intends to react sometime in the future. I am not always bothered by this, depends on the situation, and to be honest on whether I am having a good mature day or not (I am not perfect). Often I will still be far from my wits’ end with Houdini but his little brother will decide to assist me in my parenting duties, and repeat my instructions to Houdini. This has two certain outcomes. Firstly there is no way that Houdini receives this positively, in fact he normally gets exceptionally annoyed with little brother and often the resulting argument becomes a complete distraction from the actual instruction. Secondly I am always surprise at how annoyed I get at this. I feel that in the relationship between Houdini and me, little brother is a spectator at best as Houdini needs no intermediary between me and him. We are OK. I love him and he loves me.  Sometimes a third unintended consequence is that I suddenly feel the need to measure little brother’s performance of the tasks because not all tasks completed are tasks completed well, and doing it half-heartedly is no better really than not doing it at all. I often wonder whether God feels the same when we pipe up and start judging His children.

In the decade that I have had these boys, I have learned many lessons, but mostly I have learned how to have relationship. Kids are awesome.



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Righteousness or The Righteousness

I see a lot of “Should a Christian…”, “Is it ok for a Christian to…” kind of discussions and teaching on facebook, twitter and youtube, (actually even in Church), and it is often posted by well-meaning hip devoted Christians. I use to read this giving it an adequate amount of attention and respect. I say Adequate because I never let these things become a source of Judgement for me, yet I enjoy the good hearted view into what people feel Jesus would do. After all, we (Christians) need to be imitators of God and Christ is our clear (word became flesh) window into the character of God.
My open acceptance of such teaching took a hammering recently when the Ugandan government passed their anti-gay laws and the world suddenly exposed the source of these laws as Christian teachers that have for years, perhaps decades, been engaged in a war on homosexuality and everything that does not fit in with their traditional views and morals. I realized that not everyone listens to or engages in moral debate from the same standpoint that I was taking.
We all fall short of the Glory and are in need of Grace. This has been the vantage point from which I have been observing these debates, but clearly many others look at these debates from deep within a law mentality. They don’t understand their own standing in God, nor do they have a firm grasp on the foundation on which they are standing. Some people are arrogant or naïve enough to think that they have attained a righteousness in their own capacity, following a law and a tradition so well that they have pleased God. They think that they can judge, condemn and guilt people into following the same laws and tradition and into achieving the same righteousness that they believe they have achieved. The problem is they have achieved only a self-righteousness; a righteousness as measured by their own law and moral code. It is a kind of Pride and C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity that “Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind. I must agree. God is clear, in Rom 3:23 He says, ”All have sinned and All fall short of the glory of God”.
It has long been my life creed that “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain”. (Ps 127:1). The same can be applied to our true righteousness in relation to God. Romans 9 concludes with the  assertions that those who seek not righteousness have attained it by faith, yet those who have laboured and pursued a righteousness by the law (of Moses in this scripture) have failed to obtain it. Why is that? Romans 9 gives the short answer, they stumbled over the rock, on which they should have been standing. (Rom 9:33). In Galatians Paul kicks of his letter with some hard words to the Galatians, he scolds them about the law which they have re-introducing into the gospel and he dedicates the entire letter to re-affirm the gospel of grace.
One greater than Paul, Jesus also had a few things to say about the law and his sermon on the mountain is probably his clearest stance on the law. He paints a picture of a law of such high standards that not even the teachers of the law in the Jewish faith, could grasp the full implications of the commandments, let alone the over 600 laws created by Jewish scholars to clarify the 10 commandments. You can look at the 10 commandments as a “constitution” of sorts, and the Jewish law system as the legal system created on that constitution. Yet, if you look at the sermon on the mountain, Jesus seems to think that the law makers missed the true spirit of the constitution on which they built their laws. Jesus says, “You have heard that... But I tell you that”, for 6 different commands, each time setting the standard higher than what the teachers of the law have interpreted it. Firstly the number 6 is by no means coincidental; it is the number of man. Jesus is indicating that this law, is man’s system to man’s righteousness. Secondly when Jesus gives his interpretation of each of these laws, He sets a standard that completely redefines the law. On Murder the standard is raised to include hatred. On adultery the standard is raised to include lustfully looking at one other than your spouse. Divorce is completely taken off the table, unless the other party have committed sexual immorality. Oaths are put out of our reach completely. He does not elaborate much on the reason, but I believe it is because we cannot control all outcomes, we can only state our intention, which is also what Jesus says we should do. Revenge is also taken off the table like divorce and replaced with a selfless giving, the exact opposite of revenge. Love your neighbour is elevated to loving even your enemies.
What Jesus is saying here is that our law leads to a righteousness only in relation to our law, but it still falls far short of the Glory of God, for His law is far higher, even out of reach for us.
So if this law of Jesus is so much higher than the law which the teachers of the law grew accustomed to, where do we stand? We stand in a utterly hopeless place where we cannot live up to the Glory of God. We cannot appease His desires for man interacting with man, thus taking interaction with Him completely out of the discussion. The bad news is, in as far as the law is concerned, we are lost without hope, but one greater than the law has come to give us hope.
Romans 8:24 For in this hope we were saved.
Colossians 1:27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Hebrews 7:18-22
18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
“The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind:
    ‘You are a priest forever.’”
22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.
Gal 3 : 11- 12 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”
Why then will be boast in Christ, yet subject other under a law, by which we could not be saved?, I say lets us rather be the messenger of this Hope, a reconciliation between God and Man.
2 Cor 5 :18 - 21 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Would you rather have the people of this world establish a righteousness of their own, which is measured by changing morals and traditions, and changing interpretations of laws which Christ have already shows was short of HIS Glory. Or would you have the Righteousness of God established in the whole earth? 

I guess it boils down to faith. Do you believe that Christ is able to save and sanctify and guide through His Spirit?








Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Christian Mafia?

In a moment of anger, I un-followed Grethe Koen (@the_rantingpony) on twitter this morning; only to re-follow her a few hours later. Fact is she is a good writer and I really liked her piece on the Racist Club. Read it before you form an opinion.

Grethe posted a link to an article about the Christian mafia and their actions in Africa, shortly followed by another tweet about importing Christianity (the tweet that made me blow my gasket).
So this is not really an answer to Grethe, even though I wish she would read it, but really an answer to the so called Christian Mafia. I also wish (even though I know he won’t) that alleged member of the Christian Mafia Rick Warren would read this.

A certain David Bahati who was responsible of writing and promoting Uganda’s anti-gay laws have said that he wants to “kill every last gay person”. He is a friend of the Christian Mafia and have been under their influence since 1999. Now I know that drivel such as “kill every last gay person” would not have come from the mouth of respected Christian teacher Rick Warren, but it is clear that his friend in the Christian Mafia have fueled the hate that drove David Bahati to say that and to draft the anti-gay laws, which originally aimed to punish the gay lifestyle by death. I also know that his hate was not driven by a proper understanding of the bible.

So let’s look at what Scripture says


2 Corinthians 5:18 and 19
18 But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him].
19 It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting upand holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor).

A message echoed in Galatians(I’ll extract from Chapter 1 verses 6 and 7and Chapter 3 verses 1 and 2: but really in its entirety the book echoes a message of grace fuelled reconciliation with Christ)
6 I am surprised and astonished that you are so quickly turning renegade and deserting Him Who invited and called you  by the grace of Christ to a different gospel.
7 Not that there is any other, but there are some who are troubling  and disturbing and bewildering you and want to pervert and distort the Gospel of Christ.
O you poor and silly and thoughtless and unreflecting and senseless Galatians! Who has fascinated or bewitched or cast a spell over you, unto whom—right before your very eyes—Jesus Christ was openly and graphically set forth and portrayed as crucified?
2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Spirit as the result of obeying the Law and doing its works, or was it by hearing and believing it? [Was it from observing a law of rituals or from a message of faith?]
At this point I am sure that those opposing the gay lifestyle are eager to quote me Rom 1 verse 27 which I acknowledge is an indictment against homosexuality. You can however not stop reading the book of Romans at verse 27 just because it suites your position. The chapter explains the origin of sin, in verses 17 to 21 coming to the conclusion in verse 21
21 Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. 
Rom 2 verse 1, continues to accuse all of the same sin:
Therefore you have no excuse or defense or justification, O man, whoever you are who judges and condemns another. For in posing as judge and passing sentence on another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge are habitually practicing the very same things [that you censure and denounce].
Rom 5 verse 10 sums it up nicely
10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more, now that we are reconciled, that we shall be saved (daily delivered from sin’s dominion) through His life.
The entire new testament has a more profound and persistent focus on grace, reconciliation with God and being saved by the grace of Christ, than on any particular sin (but it remains interesting that adultery and drunkenness are mentioned in each of Paul’s letters and homosexuality only in Romans). It is not then our duty as Christian, followers of Christ through the examples and teachings of the Apostles, to remain focused on the reconciliation and the saving through Grace. Let the Holy Spirit work in men to free them from their sin (whether it is drunkenness or adultery or whatever). Let us be the conveyors of good news. God wants to reconcile with you.
Disclaimer: This post is in no way aimed at convincing non believers that there is a God, and that Jesus Christ is his living Son. This is aimed firstly to remind believers of the true gospel and secondly to point out to non believers that intolerant aggressive and hateful behaviors is not spiritually correct or justifiable by Scripture, and can therefore not rightfully carry the Christian label. This goes for aggression towards gays, Muslims, non believers or anyone else that have been targeted under a banner of Christianity.

Update: I have been challenged in a way. The statement was made that this is my interpretation of the bible and that the Ugandans have a more purists interpretation. I do not agree with that, a purist interpretation still needs to take every part of the bible in context of the whole. John 8:2-11 clearly shows that the very representation of the word (John 1) had no intention to condemn.

The notion that grace teacher (or followers) disregard anything in the old testament that they are not happy with needs to consider the Spirit in which the law was written versus the letter in which it was interpreted by man. A common question in modern law is what was the intent of the law. Jesus clarified the intent.

Whether God condones homosexuality or not is not the question, God does not condone large parts of modern life, yet he chooses to be reconciled to man buy seeing each of us in the light off the offer that Jesus made. God does not size sins against each other, which is why Rom 2:1 accuses all of the same sin, not honoring God. That is the root of sin, and we all fall short of the Glory of God Romans 3:23.

Any interpretation of any part of the bible, needs to be tested against the rest of the word.




Friday, December 13, 2013

Dear Lance

Dear Lance

I have been your biggest fan in South Africa for so many years. I read your book, “it is not about the bike” shortly after you won your 3rd tour. I have never been a cyclist or a cyclist fan before that day, but because of your book, I went out and bought a bike and started cycling. I still ride a few times a week. I am sure you have heard from many people how they defended you and believed in you etc, I am one of those. This letter is not about making you feel bad because I believed a lie. Reality is I loved seeing you ride and I loved believing the lie in spite of all the doubts that were based in my own experience as a competitive athlete. I guess deep down I know that no one is that good. I want to thank you for racing (even though not clean) like a man, and not like the many guys who ride along waiting for someone to make a mistake rather than forcing someone to make a mistake. It was entertaining, even if it wasn’t all true. If I had read someone else’s book and started watching cycling and they were racing without ever attacking and without any drama, I wouldn’t have owned a road and a mountain bike today.
I just read your interview with Joe Lindsey and I would like to respond to just one thing that you said. Even if everyone in professional cycling doped, there were many, perhaps thousands that were only just outside of the pro group, that didn’t dope. I am one of those guys that never made it into professional sport because I chose to compete clean. You might think that there are a huge difference in ability between me and the professionals that I competed against, but there wasn’t. The 1 or 2 % difference they gained by doping was certainly more than the actual difference between me and them. You see I had a VO2 Max of 73 tested at 1600m above sea level when I was 15. With specialized training and at sea level this could easily have been in the 80s. I had dreams to compete professionally, but I was honest. I couldn’t dope because I would never be able to live with that. I respected myself, my sport and my competitors too much. The result was a 12 year struggle with over training and injuries and mediocre results that always fell just short of the professional level. Having your dream shattered by other people’s dishonesty is a very difficult experience. You see my point is, even if 100% of professionals doped, you are forgetting the next level, the guys that could have been pro if they had decided to cheat. Now I don’t insinuate for one second that such a person could have beaten you in the Tour, but I am very sure that there were guys at home watching the tour, that was more deserving of a place in the tour, than some of the doped domestics. I feel that all doping athletes need to apologize to those guys who stayed at home.
Please stop saying that everyone doped, because even though we didn’t have professional contracts, we (the clear ones) were still athletes with dreams and aspirations, dashed by your choices.
Thanks for what you do for the cancer community. I have lost several loved ones to cancer and the fight against cancer is very close to my heart.

Regards


Johan Jordaan