When the Doors Open

Reading a recent blog post by Tim Challies made me think about the wedding we are attending this weekend. Something most Christians know is that marriage, as institution, reflects the unconditional love of Christ for His bride, the church. What we then forget to do is to take it just that one step further and see the reflection of this in the ceremony. We forget to see the smile the groom’s face, as the bride approaches, as testimony to the smile on Christ’s face He looks upon His bride. Tim Challies does a great job to remind us of this:

Now here’s the tip: When those doors open, steal a quick glance at the groom. I know the bride is the star of the show and you don’t want to miss her, but it’s okay to look to the front of the church for just a moment. The more I read and understand Ephesians 5:22-33 and the more I come to grasp the deepest meaning of marriage, the more I find myself not wanting to miss what happens at the front of the room. Because in that moment the groom is just a small picture, a dim reflection, of the love Jesus Christ has for his bride, the church.

There is nothing quite like the expression on a groom’s face when his bride appears before him. There is joy there. There is delight and desire and such love. There is the knowledge that his longing for a bride is being fulfilled and that she will soon be his, that in just moments they will be united together forever.

This is only an excerpt form the post, follow the link to read the entire post.

Howdy Neighbour!

Pretoria (like the rest of suburban SA) is dream come true for the guy who loves collecting and taking photos of fences! We fence ourselves in, lock out the bad guys and in the process we end up loosing the whole idea of having and being neighbours. We all have neighbours yet most of use wouldn’t recognize the guy living next door if he said hallo in a mall, or bit you at the raffle event. No wonder we get all weird and awkward when we bump into our neighbour, we should know them but we don’t..  On top of that – the Bible tells us that we should be good to our neighbours! When you put all this together what you could end up with is a Christian who gets all weird and radical when he bumps into the couple living in Nr 23. “Love your neighbour..” does not mean fire and brimstone talk!

So, how do you go about it? Well, Tim Gaydos wrote an excellent blog telling of how he went about with his neighbour and how the guy ended up turning to Jesus. Have a look at it: 7 Tips for Talking with Your Neighbors About Jesus. In short:

1. Find a road that leads to Jesus.

2. Donʼt be weird and awkward.

3. Be winsome.

4. Counter stereotypes and caricatures of Christians.

5. Host an open house.

6. Be honest about your struggles and failings.

7. Actions also communicate.

 

Love it or opposite of love it – fact is you have neighbours and they are your neighbours for a reason.

 

Practice What Is Preached

Have you really made an impact, an impression? Does your life bear witness to your faith in Christ and show the grateful response to your undeserved salvation? No? We seem to suffer from Gospel-forgetfulness.

It might be that you are a Christian and that your desire is to apply that what you have learned. This desire is usually at its strongest after coming into contact with the Bible, be it in church, small groups or conversation with a fellow Christian; yet you find yourself a week later without a single example of a practice that is implied from what has been preached.

Think about the previous sermon at your church or application discussion during last week’s small group gathering. How much have you applied?

  • Do you approach work as if it is for God, not your employer? (Col 3:23)
  • Do you serve with the gifts which has been entrusted to you? (1 Pet 4:10)
  • Do you busy yourself with charitable deeds? (Matt 25:31-40)
  • Do you give to your church with a willing heart? (2 Cor 9:7)
  • Does your spouse become more like Jesus because of you or in spite of you?  (recipe being Eph 5:21-33)
  • etc

So how does it work? How do I apply what I heard in church, read in the Bible and discussed during my weekly small group? What is the switch that needs to be flicked? And so we turn to Thomas Manton:

“What is the reason there is so much preaching and so little practice? For want of meditation…. Constant thoughts are operative, and musing makes the fire burn. Green wood is not kindled by a flash or spark, but by constant blowing.” —Thomas Manton (1620–1677)

As we constantly ponder the things of God, of Jesus and what has been revealed to us in His word we in effect discipline our minds; we redirect our hearts and find our hands busy with the things we want them to do.

Surprise! Prostitutes & Birthday Cake

Tony Campolo was in Honolulu vir ‘n praatjie. Die jetlag was so dat hy die een oggend homself drie uur bevind in ‘n kaffee besig om ‘n koffie te drink. Terwyl hy sit loop daar drie prostitute in en begin gesels. Hulle praatjies is luid en kru en Campolo kan nie help om om te merk toe die een vertel dat die volgende dag haar verjaarsdag is en dat sy dink die jaar verdien sy bietjie ‘n partytjie, natuurlik tong in die kies.

Campolo besluit dat hy dit gaan maak gebeur, die dames verlaat die kaffee en Campolo gaan gesels met die man agter die toonbank, Harry. Hy vind uit dat die prostitute elke aand kom na die kaffee wanneer hul aand verby is. Die verhaal draai so uit dat die volgende oggend na twee is die kaffee propvol prostitute wie van die partytjie gehoor het. Daar is ‘n koek wat Harry gebak het en versierings wat Campolo voor gesorg het. Toe Agnes aankom rondom drie uur die oggend word sy deur “surprise!” gegroet. In verstomming staan sy stom terwyl almal wil he sy moet die kerse uitblaas en die koek sny.

Haar reaksie: “Is it alright … would you mind … if I wait a little longer … if we didn’t eat it straight away?” waarop Harry antwoord dat sy glad nie die koek hoef te sny nie en dat sou sy wou kan sy dit huistoe neem. Agnes verskoon haarself vir vyftien minute en neem die koek huistoe. Die kaffee word stil toe Agnes by die deur uit is. Campolo vra om hul te lei in gebed. Na die gebed kom Harry na hom toe en vrae hoekom hy nooit gese het hy is ‘n prediker tipe persoon en wat die kerk is waaraan hy behoort – die antwoord wat hy kry:

 “I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning.”

Harry se objeksie is dat daar bestaan nie so kerk nie want as daar so kerk sou bestaan sou hy lidmaat gewees het. Campolo se kommentaar is op die vraag is iets wat moet tuis gebring word, vir die wat nie in ‘n kerk is nie, maar veral vir die wat aan ‘n gemeente behoort:

“Wouldn’t we all? Wouldn’t we all love to join a church that throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning?… But anybody who reads the New Testament will discover a Jesus who loved to party with prostitutes and with all kinds of left-out people. The tax collectors and “sinners” loved him because he partied with them. The lepers of society found in him someone who would eat and drink with them. And while the solemnly pious people could not relate to what he was about, those lonely people who usually didn’t get invited to parties took to him with excitement.”

 – Vanaf Resurgence, ‘n Stuk uit Tim Chester se boek: A Meal With Jesus

The Gospel according to Menlyn Park

Een van die ouens in LIG.punt het hierdie foto net buite Menlyn Park winkelsentrum geneem en vir my aangestuur. Die bewoording “A fasionable woman is always in love with – herself” is eintlik ‘n bekende gesegde van Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) – en dit is nie heeltemal duidelik wat sy aanvanklike bedoeling daarmee was nie – maar die boodskap wat Menlyn Park se bemakingspan daardeur kommunikeer is baie duidelik:

Die boodskap wat hier gekommuniker word is dat die vrou wat regtig die ‘goeie lewe’ geniet – die vrou wat dit regtig in die lewe gemaak het en wat dus “fashionable”, of ‘in’ is…die vrou is wat op haarself verlief is, die vrou wat haarself oorvloedig kom pamperlang by een van Menlyn Park se 111 “fashion stores”.

Die realiteit is dat dit nie net Menlyn Park se bemarkingspan is wat op hierdie wyse hulle produkte bemark nie. Die boodskap wat hier verkondig word is inderdaad die evangelie, van die gewildste godsdiens van ons tyd. Ons lewe in ‘n wêreld  waar ‘n duisend stemme elke dag vir ons vertel, dat as ons maar net ‘die’ of ‘daai’ produk sou hê,
dan sou ons uiteindelik ‘iemand’ wees, ons sal ware geluk vind en die ‘goeie’ lewe begin geniet. En so het die duisende winkelsentrums in Suid Afrika ons nuwe ‘kerke’ geword. Die advertensiewese is ons nuwe ‘profete’. Ons geld is die nuwe ‘kollekte’. En die produkte en dienste wat aan ons verkoop word is ons nuwe ‘verlossers’.

Die probleem is dat beide die Bybel en ons eie ervaring ons gereeld oortuig dat hierdie nuwe godsdiens ons nie kan verlos nie. Dit maak nie saak hoeveel geld ons op die nuutste modes en “gadgets” spandeer nie, ons harte bly steeds leeg, honger en onbevredig. Die rede hiervoor is eenvoudig. In sterk kontras met die advertensiebord buite Menlyn Park, is die Bybel baie duidelik daaroor dat ware geluk en ‘verlossing’ nie gevind word deur meer vir jouself lief te wees nie…maar om eerder weg van jouself af te draai en in liefde, jouself oorvloedig aan jou Skepper te gee. Hierdie is die manier wat die ‘goeie lewe’ gevind kan word…hier alleen is ware geluk en ewige bevrediging vir ons almal beskikbaar. Soos Jesus self die punt gemaak het:

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn 4:13-14)

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (Jn 6:35)

12 Ways to Glorify God at Work

Say you spend 9 hours a day at work, that’s 37,5% of your day. If you sleep 7 hours a day then you spend 53% of your non-comatose hours at work. How would a Christian approach this reality? Well, aren’t we suppose to bring glory to God in everything we do? And did God not create work? (Gen 1:28; 2:15)

Josh Etter discusses the command of glorifying God in the workplace by giving 12 tips:

1. Believe that all legitimate work is holy or unholy before God based on our faith, not the nature of the work itself.

2. Be just and honest in all your dealings with money.

3. Be prayerfully dependent upon God, pouring contempt on self-sufficiency.

4. Use the wages earned by your work to provide for and bless others.

5. Grow in your skill-set, work hard, and strive for excellence.

6. Exemplify love for your neighbor in how you interact with your colleagues.

7. Plan ahead and sincerely preface future tasks with “if God wills.”

8. Speak the gospel to your colleagues.

9. Work as unto the Lord and as unto men.

10. Focus on the work you’ve been given.

11. Speak words of grace.

12. Rest in your justification by faith alone in Christ alone.

For the Biblical references and some more detail see 12 Ways to Glorify God at Work, Josh Etter from desiringGod.com

Happy

Last night we had a discussion in our small groups on the chapter Good News to the Rich from Good News to The Poor by Tim Chester. The chapter mainly deals with being content with Christ and not the material lifestyle we sometimes (or all the time) are guilty of pursuing. In this chapter he mentions that, for this generation, consumerism is the biggest stumbling block in our relationship with God. Being content with what you have, as it is enough, is gain in a Biblical way:

But godliness with contentment is great gain.” – 1 Tim 6:6

As being discontent is a sin consider the piece below and how M’Cheyne defines true happiness (ea contentment). From My True Happiness, Ray Ortlund’s blog:

“To gain entire likeness to Christ, I ought to get a high esteem of the happiness of it.  I am persuaded that God’s happiness is inseparably linked in with his holiness.  Holiness and happiness are like light and heat.  God never tasted one of the pleasures of sin.

Christ has a body such as I have, yet he never tasted one of the pleasures of sin.  The redeemed, through all eternity, will never taste one of the pleasures of sin; yet their happiness is complete. . . . Every sin is something away from my greatest enjoyment. . . .

The devil strives night and day to make me forget this or disbelieve it.  He says, Why should you not enjoy this pleasure as much as Solomon or David?  You may go to heaven also.  I am persuaded this is a lie – that my true happiness is to go and sin no more.”

Andrew A. Bonar, editor, Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Edinburgh, 1987), pages 154-155.