Dagstuk deur Heinrich Titus

Dagstuk deur Heinrich Titus

Dagstuk

deur Heinrich Titus
Ps. Heinrich Titus

Ps. Heinrich Titus

Liewe vriende,

Ons kom aan die einde van nog ’n jaar wat verbygesnel het teen ’n verbysterende spoed. Ek wil vir ieder en elk dankie sê vir jul onvermoeide toewyding om vir ons as kerkfamilie te bid tydens hierdie oorgangsjaar.

Laat my toe om ’n stukkie van my pad met jou te deel.

Aan die begin van die jaar het ek ’n voetbesering opgedoen terwyl ek gedraf het, waarnaas ek gedoen het wat ek geweet reg is – ek het my voet laat rus. Teen hierdie tyd het ek geleer dat dit nie ’n slim idee is om net deur die pyn te hardloop nie, want deur die pyn te ignoreer vir ’n tyd, betaal mens later ’n groter prys. Dus het ek my voet laat rus vir ’n week. Die week het ’n maand geword, en ’n maand het nege maande geword sonder dat die pyn weggegaan het. Dit blyk toe dat ek die omvang van die besering onderskat het, en behalwe dat as ek iets verander, gaan ek geen vordering maak nie.

En so maak die maanstewel (moonboot) en krukke toe hulle verskyning (wat ek eintlik veronderstel was om te dra tydens Convergence en ons jaarlikse pastore konferensie) en my hele lewe verander. Nie in ’n groot mate nie, maar bietjie-vir-bietjie. Ek het toe mense nodig om my te help om deure oop te maak by restaurante en winkels, ek moes twee maal dink voordat ek enigsins êrens gaan, en moes selfs die idee om op te staan vir ’n koppie tee heroorweeg (om nie eens te praat van die gevolglike uitstappie na die toilet na die tyd nie).

Na baie gebed en selfs mense wat vir my hande opgelê het, moes ek berus by die feit dat God my voet via die stadige roete wou genees, en het ek die les en seisoen wat vervat was binne-in dit, verwelkom.

Eerstens, ek moes besef dat ek dinge moes stadiger vat – om agter elke afspraak en elke bedieningsgeleentheid aan te hardloop sou my nie noodwendig meer effektief maak nie, nog minder sou dit volhoubaar wees op die lange duur. Tweedens, ek het tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat ek nie altyd in die beste posisie is om die toestand van my lewe akkuraat te bepaal nie. Ek het ander mense nodig om my te help hiermee, en ek het ander mense nodig om my te help loop in die regte rigting op die regte manier. Verder het ek tot die besef gekom dat om slegs ’n breek te neem, alhoewel dit goed is, dit nie altyd goed genoeg is nie. Soms het mens spesifieke, gefokusde intervensie en rehabilitasie nodig om jou te help om die manier hoe mens dinge doen, te verander. Anders, afgesien van goeie bedoelinge, sal mens die heeltyd dieselfde resultate kry.

Meer as enige iets anders, het my ervaringswêreld oopgegaan vir mense met gebreke (of ongeskikthede) in ’n diepgaande manier (alhoewel ek nie eens kan begin dink dat ek heeltemal verstaan wat meeste van hulle moet deurgaan nie). Ek het begin besef hoe ons as beweging in die algemeen, meer ingestel is om saam met die sterkes en vinniges te hardloop – dié wat geleerd genoeg is, gemotiveerd genoeg is, begaafd genoeg is, charismaties genoeg is, en dié wie die regte leierseienskappe toon – en dat ons ons gereeld, maar meestal nie met opset, die res wat nie kan byhou, agterlaat.

My hartsoortuiging bly dat die Here Jesus Christus aanbidders voorberei wat die Vader in Gees en in waarheid sal aanbid. Ek word weer herinner aan die woorde van John Andrews tydens Convergence: God kan nie die persoon verander wat ek voorgee om te wees nie; slegs die persoon wat ek is.

Deel van die roeping vir dié wat vashou aan God en sy beloftes, is om die weg voor te berei vir die Koning van alle konings. En die Koning kom om ’n eerlike gesprek met ons te hê. Ek glo dat as ons dit dié maal met ope arms aanpak, ons nie net met sy liefde sal in kontak kom nie, maar ook Sy begrip van ons menslikheid. Christus as die Hoë Priester treë tans in vir ons, en kan dit doen, want Hy verstaan ons – Hy het selfs in ons skoene geloop.

Want ons het nie ’n hoëpriester wat nie met ons swakhede medelye kan hê nie, maar een wat in alle opsigte versoek is net soos ons, maar sonder sonde. Laat ons dan met vrymoedigheid na die troon van die genade gaan, sodat ons barmhartigheid kan verkry en genade vind om op die regte tyd gehelp te word. Hebreërs 4:15-16 OV

Wie is dit wat veroordeel? Christus is dit wat gesterf het, ja, meer nog, wat ook opgewek is, wat ook aan die regterhand van God is, wat ook vir ons intree. Romeine 8:34 OV

’n Pad van selfontdekking, alhoewel dit soms pynlik is, is nooit verniet indien dit gedoen word onder die liefdevolle en nie-veroordelende leiding van die Vader nie.

Ek het onlangs met sommige van ons leiers gedeel dat ek ervaar die Heilige Gees roep ons om onsself te posisioneer op dieselfde wyse wat Habakuk gedoen het, en ek bid dat, maak nie saak waar ons onsself bevind hierdie tyd van die jaar nie, ons sal tyd maak om dieselfde te doen:

Ek wil op my uitkyktoring gaan staan, my plek op die vestingmuur gaan inneem, ek wil wag om te verneem wat die Here vir my sal sê en wat ek moet antwoord wanneer mense my verwyt. Habakuk 2:1 NV

God het vroeër vanjaar met ons as kerkfamilie gesels en vir ons opdrag gee om oor te gaan na “die ander kant”; om die bekende oewers van dit waaraan ons gewoond is agter te laat, en om Hom te vertrou om ons te lei. Ek wil vir elkeen wat die stap van geloof geneem het om saam met ons op hierdie reis te vertrek, bedank. Dit het ons uitgedaag op maniere wat geen persoon ooit kon dink moontlik is nie, en het van ons geverg om in Hom te vertrou soos nog nooit van te vore (Markus 4 en Markus 5).

Ek is oortuig daarvan dat God het net soveel belangstelling in dit wat in ons harte aan die gebeur is tydens die reis, as net ons wat oorbeweeg na “die ander kant”. Ek wil elkeen van ons bemoedig om hierdie tyd van die jaar te gebruik om na te dink (te “reflekteer”) oor dit wat uit ons harte gekom het tydens hierdie reis vanaf die begin van die jaar tot en met waar ons onsself nou bevind. Daar is ’n paar vrae wat ek myself gereeld afvra, en ek het in my hart onderneem om myself te posisioneer teen die muur van gebedsoorweging sodat die Heilige Gees met my kan gesels en my kan reghelp waar dit nodig is. Jy mag dalk jou eie vrae hê, maar hier deel ek myne met jou (net die vrae; die antwoorde is tussen my en God, vir nou), in die hoop dat dit jou sal stimuleer om ook jou pas te verminder en om met die Een om te gaan wat ons beter ken as onsself:

  1. Waar is ek verhouding gewys in terme van God? Het my vertroue in hom gegroei, of is daar teleurstelling wat nog rond draal wat die potensiaal het om my geloof in God te potjie? Het my aanbidding meer opreg (outentiek) geword as dieselfde tyd verlede jaar, of gaan ek maar net deur die normale bewegings terwyl ek “by kerk” is op Sondae?
  2. Waar is ek verhouding gewys in terme van die mense naaste aan my? Het ek nader gegroei aan die mees belangrike mense in my lewe, of is daar gedeeltes waar ek teleurstelling, pyn, onvergifnis, bitterheid of ongevoeligheid toegelaat het om afstand tussen ons te skep? Wanneer ek sê dat ek my vrou en kinders lief het meer as enige iets anders, sal hulle hul ervaring van dit kan bevestig?
  3. Waar is ek in terme van my roeping om meer soos Christus te word? Dink, klink en doen ek ’n klein bietjie meer soos Christus as toe ek dit begin doen het vroeër vanjaar? Breek my hart vir die dinge wat die Here se hart breek, of gaan ek net deur die normale dinge? Het ek my kruis opgeneem en gesterf tot die goed wat kosbaar is vir my, of poog ek daarin om myself te verdedig, te baklei vir dit wat myne is, en te bly in my gemaksone?
  4. Wat sien ek werklik? Het ek hoop in die feit dat God getrou is om my, my familie, ons kerk en ons nasie se Herder te wees, en te lei in Sy doelwitte vir ons, of het ek sinies geword?
  5. Wat kom uit my mond? Die woorde van my mond reflekteer die toestand van my hart. Wat ek oor praat (of wat ek sê) terwyl niemand anders in die rondte is om te hoor nie, sê meer van my as die woorde wat ek spreek vanaf die kansel.

My voet is nogsteeds nie heeltemal gesond nie, en ek vermoed dieselfde kan gesê word van dele van my geestelike lewe. Wat ek nou meer as ooit van te vore begin verstaan het, is dat dit aanvaarbaar is om hier te wees. Dit maak nie God minder God nie, en dit maak my nie minder Sy seun nie. Ek het begin verstaan dat Sy genade is werklik meer as genoeg vir die wat weet hulle het genesing nodig, dat Sy krag oorneem wanneer ons eie krag onsself in die steek laat, dat Sy liefde vloei wanneer ons harte seerkry, dat Sy stem praat wanneer die klank van ons eie redenering ophou, dat Sy bemoediging vermenigvuldig waar dit wat ons glo plek maak vir deernis, dat Sy mag bevry waar die vlees niks het in om trots in te wees nie, en dat Sy teenwoordigheid neerreën op die wat dors is.

My gebed is dat jy jou plek op die muur sal vind as ’n tyd van verkwikking, opwakkering van vreugde en nederigheid, alhoewel oortuigende herposisionering, soos wat jy na die Een kyk wat alleen getrou en waardig is van ons volslae vertroue.

Weet dat jy geliefd is,
Heinrich en Nikki

Devotional by Heinrich Titus

Devotional by Heinrich Titus

Devotional

by Heinrich Titus
Ps. Heinrich Titus

Ps. Heinrich Titus

Dear Friends,

At the end of another year which has sped by at break-neck speed, I want to thank you for your tireless commitment to praying unceasingly for us as a church family during this year of transition.

Allow me to share a bit of my journey with you.

At the beginning of this year I picked up a foot injury whilst running. I did what I knew to do – I gave it rest. By then I had learnt that simply running through the pain is not a very wise move since you can ignore your pain for a while only to pay a much higher price later. So, I rested the foot for a week. The week became a month and the month became nine months without the pain going away. Turns out that I had underestimated the extent of the injury and unless I was going to change something, I was not going to make any progress.

So out came the moonboot and the crutches (which I was supposed to have been wearing during Convergence and the Pastors’ Summit already) and my whole life changes. Not in one big way, but in many small ways. I now needed people to help me open up certain doors at restaurants and shops, needed to think twice before I planned any trip anywhere, and even had to reconsider whether it really was worth getting up for that cup of tea and the subsequent trip to the bathroom afterwards!

After much prayer and laying on of hands, I submitted to the fact that God has chosen to heal my foot via this slower route and I embraced the lesson and the season contained within it.

First of all, I have come to realise that I needed to slow down – that running after every appointment and every ministry activity is not necessarily going to make me more fruitful, nor sustainable in the long run (how I long for one again). Secondly, it dawned on me that I am not always in the best position to accurately assess the state of my own life. I need others to help me see and I need others to keep me walking in the right direction and in the right way. Furthermore, I began to understand that simply taking a break, even though good, is not always good enough. Sometimes you need specific, focussed intervention and rehabilitation to change the way you do things. Otherwise, you will keep on getting the same results, even with the best of intentions.

More than anything else, though, my experiential world opened up to people with disabilities in a profound way (even though I cannot even begin to think that I understand fully what most of them are going through). I began to realise how, we as a movement in general, are so geared to simply run with the strong and the swift – those educated enough, motivated enough, gifted enough, charismatic enough, and those showing the right leadership qualities – that we often, mostly not on purpose, leave behind so many who cannot keep up with us.

My heartfelt conviction remains that the Lord Jesus Christ is preparing worshippers who will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. I am reminded again of John Andrews’ profound words during Convergence – God cannot change the person I am pretending to be, only the person that I am.

Part of the call for those who would hold onto God and His promises is to prepare the way for the King of kings. And the King is coming to have honest conversations with us. If we embrace this time, I believe we will connect with not just His love, but also His understanding of our humanity. Christ as the great High Priest is praying for us right now, and can do so because He understands us, even having walked in our shoes.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Romans 8:34  

A journey of self-discovering, even though often painful, is never in vain if done under the loving and non-condemning guidance of the Father.

I shared with some of our leaders recently that I feel the Holy Spirit beckoning us to position ourselves the way Habakkuk did, and I pray that wherever this time of the year might find us, we will make the time and find the space to do the same:

I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. Habakkuk 2:1

Earlier this year, God spoke to us as a church family and directed us to go over to the “other side”; to leave the familiar shores of much of what we have been used to, and to trust Him to lead us. I want to thank each one of you for taking the step of faith to embark on that journey with us. It has stretched and challenged us in ways we never thought possible and has demanded of us to trust Him like never before (Mark 4 and 5).

More than just getting us to the “other side”, I am convinced that God has just as much interest in what transpires in our hearts whilst we are on our journey. I want to encourage all of us to use this time of the year to reflect on what came out of our hearts as we journeyed from the beginning of this year to where we are now. There are a few questions that I regularly ask myself, and I have purposed in my heart to position myself on the wall of prayerful contemplation so that the Holy Spirit can speak to me and correct me where He needs to. You might have your own, but here I share mine with you (just the questions, the answers are between myself and God, for now), in the hope that it stimulates you to slow down as well and to engage with the One who knows us better than we know ourselves:

  1. Where am I relationally with regards to God? Has my trust in Him grown, or is there lingering disappointment that has the potential to cripple my faith? Has my worship become more authentic than what it was this time last year, or am I going through the motions when I am “at church” on a Sunday?
  2. Where am I relationally with regards to the people closest to me? Have I grown closer to the most significant people in my life, or are there areas where I have allowed disappointment, hurt, unforgiveness, bitterness or apathy to create distance between us? When I say I love my wife and kids more than anything else, will they be able to confirm that experientially?
  3. Where am I with regards to my calling to become more like Christ? Do I think, sound and act a little bit more like Christ now than what I did when I first started this year? Does my heart break for the things that break His, or am I simply going through the motions? Have I taken up my cross and died to things dear to me, or have I sought to defend myself, to fight for what is mine, and to remain in my comfort zone?
  4. What do I see? Do I have hope that God is faithful to shepherd me, my family, our church and our nation to His purposes, or have I become cynical?
  5. What comes out of my mouth? The words of my mouth reflect the state of my heart. What I say when no-one else is around says more about me than words spoken from the pulpit.

My foot has still not healed completely, and I suspect the same can be said of parts of my spiritual life. What I have come to understand more than ever before, is that that is OK. It doesn’t make God less God and it doesn’t make me less His son. I have come to understand that His grace truly is enough for those who know that they need healing, that His strength takes over where ours fails, that His love flows where our hearts break, that His voice speaks where the sound of our reason ceases, that His comfort is multiplied where our religion makes way for compassion, that His power delivers where the flesh has nothing to boast in, and that His presence rains on thirsty hearts.

My prayer is that you will find your place on the wall to be a time of intimate refreshing, joyful reawakening and humble, yet confident repositioning, as you look to the One who alone is faithful and worthy of our complete trust.

Know that you are loved,
Heinrich and Nikki

 

Reflecting on 2016

Reflecting on 2016

By Fred May
Dear friend,
We look back on a year in which we’ve seen history being made in a truly remarkable yet unexpected way. The elections in America reminded us once again how the world has, in a very real sense, become a village. I watched children’s birthday parties – even here in South Africa – be disrupted as opposing political views took their toll on long standing friendships among sword-crossing moms. And we watched precious family ties get savaged, and in some cases even severed, especially in the aftermath of the election campaign. The same was true for the Brexit backwash in the UK. But, as history would have it, both these events are about to be utterly dwarfed in both magnitude and significance by what has already begun to transpire all across Western and Eastern Europe. God has chosen this particular chapter to reopen ancient wells of salvation, which were mostly considered extinct, until now. Nonetheless, it was interesting and also somewhat disquieting to witness the conflicting views and interpretations of current events erupt into open conflict and hostility, even among professing Christians.
In my opening address at our annual conference I reflected on the unhappy reality of Christ’s accurate prediction of this disruptive pattern of convergence for these times. As He gathers, He brings inevitable separation at the same time. The fact is, we’re now living through truly significant and defining moments of history. It has been clear to me for some time that God has chosen to afford His Church on earth one last window of opportunity to fulfill her predestined purpose before the curtain on earth’s history is drawn. Currently we’re migrating into the vindication phase of what I like to refer to as ‘the Joseph narrative’. It’s a season demanding diligent stewardship on our part of God’s eternal provision for a starving and dying world. It’s a pending period of unprecedented spiritual harvest. For all those with eyes to see, God has opened a redemptive chapter of sovereign intervention in the affairs of men. Before these two startling events – which shook the entire world – transpired, we were teetering precariously on the brink of both a Third World War and the simultaneous launch of a global Islamic Jihad. The ensuing chaos was designed to set the stage for the dramatic save-the-day inauguration and intervention by the so-called ‘man-of-peace’, the Antichrist. The steady global slide into post-democratic totalitarianism, orchestrated from both New York and Brussels, has been temporarily suspended, with democracy given another desperate lease of life.
Thankfully, however, that historical dial is now being set back by at least a decade of merciful reprieve. Also, the full-blown persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ globally has been delayed for a season. And instead of the reign of darkness, the most dramatic shift in the global socio-political power matrix is being witnessed. I have never, in my wildest imaginings, expected to see the day that God would intervene to sovereignly expose the vilest darkness, the most grotesque of sins, all of which have served as the debauched glue driving the convergence of the kingdoms of darkness. This is classic pre-emptive judgment being played out in the Biblical sense. All across the Western world, snugly ensconced, prominent perpetrators of violence and ritual abuse against the innocent – the children – are quietly being brought to book. I never thought that I’d see the day that the long-established, yet ferociously shielded and protected, link between satanic worship and those heinous crimes would become common knowledge, as it is now rapidly beginning to do (see here)*. The same applies to the other false-flag/propaganda strategies, meant to serve as a pretext for the almost-imminent establishment of the New World Order. I never thought that I would witness the beginning of the end of the seemingly unassailable hegemony of the Western mainstream media in modern times. They’re being exposed as liars and frauds, and worst still, they’re being exposed for the delusional and deceived minions that they in reality are. Their so-called ‘echo-chamber’ fabrication/fake-news propagation is being shown up for its patent putrefaction. And to my mind, Hillary Clinton’s passing reference to voters, and especially those opposing her, as a ‘basket of deplorables’, may go down as the “Marié Antoinette” meme of the current season. And this is but the beginning.
That social media and the dogged persistence of the likes of Julian Assange, aided by patriotic security establishment agents in America, and other freedom-loving hackers and bloggers, could win such a decisive round in this battle for truth over the smugly arrogant propaganda juggernaut, is simply staggering. In the year running up to the American elections I felt strongly led to pray for the success of internet hackers in exposing unrighteousness, since I sensed them to be part of God’s hidden hand. But without a doubt we’re witnessing the beginnings of Christ’s promise to shepherd the unsuspecting, hapless multitudes into the proverbial ‘valley of decision’ – the eschatological equivalent of our Promised Land. This then means that all those who would be open to have themselves disabused of deception and delusion would be afforded an opportunity to reconsider Christ and His claims from a less toxic perspective. However, now more than ever, our most important challenge as Christians is to assume the humble, servant-like posture of our Master, firmly resisting the temptation to imitate the pompous arrogance of our still-reeling-in-denial liberal contemporaries. We must trust God to immerse our hearts in an awakening of redeemed brokenness that finds expression in compassion-driven commitment to fervent prayer and intercession, dialogue and sincere social engagement.
The reason much prayer is called for at this time is owed to the fact that a pitched battle for the life span of this redemptive window, this open door in the heavenlies, is about to rage furiously. I believe that Satan is not about to abandon his proven, age-old strategy for usurping power and control. And the main focus of his attacks has always been the strategic key to Biblical unity I so often speak of lately. The psalmist says that the unity on which God commands His blessing is the one that flows like oil from the head and beard of Aaron, not that of Moses [see Psalm 133, Exodus 17:10-12 & 32:15-35, Numbers 12:1-15, Leviticus 8:29-31]. In other words, the relationship with, and attitude of, second-tier leadership is his specific target. He succeeded with this ploy from the start when he preyed on Eve, in her occupation of this leadership position in the Garden of Eden. Her sin, the first one, was not that of disobedience. The first human transgression was the sin of disloyalty. She was tempted to entertain disloyalty in her heart toward Adam, the one to whom God communicated His moral instructions, before her creation.
The same diabolical assignment was successful with the likes of Aaron and Miriam against Moses, or Absolom against his father David. Later Queen Jezebel feigned a caring commitment to her man-child husband Ahab, driven by her obsession for political power. It does seem to remind one of the Clintons somewhat. The good news nevertheless is that there is a discernible power shift against this assignment. However, evidence of its prevalence and its real-and-present danger are seen in the lawlessness manifesting on campuses globally, or on the streets of post-election America, or in the vulgar scenes of wildly celebrating refugees at the sight of the slaughter of innocent nationals. All these incidents share the same characteristics, namely, the marked absence of loyalty toward academic institutions and patriotism toward countries that provide education and shelter. The leaders of tomorrow (i.e. ‘Aaron’s beard’) are seen to be swallowed up by waves of inspiration that are as powerful only as they are patently evil. They are truly and passionately, but unfortunately, pure evil. These movements all bear the undeniable fingerprint of the Lawless One.
As we now come to where we can take a break from a fading year which has brought as much challenge as it did delight and joy, we look forward to one where we can continue the conversation on pursuing the image of Christ by seeking to emulate His mind, His hands, His feet and His heart. A heart from which unstinting loyalty towards us, His followers, flows. 
loyalty’s duality
Loyalty determines our attitudes and behavior in all of our relationships, be they personal, or institutional. One can, for instance, be loyal to one’s spouse, but disloyal to the institution of marriage at the same time – as many people are in fact experiencing currently, being pressured to accept a whole new range of redefinitions of marriage that are all unnatural. And as many conflicted refugees and asylum seekers throughout the world are finding lately, it’s also possible to be attracted to the benefits of a country without feeling convicted to be patriotic to it. By the same token, there are many similarly conflicted Christian ‘refugees‘ within Christ’s Kingdom at any given time. Loyalty therefore is a divisive virtue. It separates virtuous hearts from abusive ones.
Christ, therefore, was deliberately concise in His definition of loyalty. When engaging the disciples on the subject he did the following: “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” (Matthew 16:13 KJV, emphasis mine) He was intentional with the question in that He asked them for an opinion, not on His divinity, but rather on His human identity. He could have asked them what they thought of Him as the Son of God, for instance. Earlier on we saw Him demanding loyalty of His disciples on two separate levels: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38 NASB, emphasis mine) He drove the distinction between His person, “Me“, that is His humanity, and also His divinity as expressed in “My words“, home emphatically. He wanted to make sure that His followers understood the demands of Christlike loyalty unambiguously.
Loyalty by Christ’s definition, therefore, is equally valid on two levels, namely, toward a person and, at the same time, toward his office. Christ in His loyalty is as equally committed to the ‘who’ of my identity as to the ‘what,’ in other words. He also made it clear that the more a culture or society became ‘sinful and adulterous’, or shame-based in other words, the more lawless it was likely to become. In that condition people would manifest an ever-decreasing emotional-spiritual capacity to fully comprehend and exhibit authentic loyalty. And that’s the reason why that Holy Spirit-inspired moment, when, for an instant, Peter could see beyond the veils or the perceptions of cultural shame, delighted Christ so: “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16 KJV, emphasis mine) Peter was given the power to see Christ in His eternal office. And that vision of Christ’s true status is what negated all the other shame-based definitions of the ‘adoptive son of the carpenter’ and all the negative images of Him possibly still lingering in his heart and mind. Peter no longer appraised Christ from the perspective of cultural familiarity. He had migrated closer to apostolic space where, according to the apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit helps us to discern others from an eternal perspective, thus making loyalty authentic: “So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:16-17 NLT) True, Biblical loyalty is possible only where we’re able to view others within Christ’s Body in their preordained, divinely assigned ‘in-Christ’ identity and destiny. From that perspective we’re able to affirm loyalty to both the temporal and the eternal dimensions of their personhood. And when it comes to unbelievers, we respect and dignify them for both their personal and their vocational or relational identities. At this time of rest I would encourage us all to look to the Holy Spirit to guide our reflection on our distinctive calling to loyalty as we follow some and as we lead others.
May God bless you as you unwind with loved ones and friends at this time. And may it also bring you the blessing of new, renewed and deeper relationships. May we all find ourselves experiencing a keener sense of appreciation for the people He has placed around us and may we, even at this time of rest, find the grace to evaluate others graciously and respectfully – from Christ’s eternal perspective.
I especially wish to speak a word of blessing to those who may be mourning the loss of loved ones at this time; or those mourning the loss of good health or material or emotional security even. May this season prove to be one in which you experience the nearness of Christ in a way you’ve not considered at all possible before. May you receive answers to prayers that your heart has not even contemplated, or even dared, to articulate. May you enjoy the comfort of the Father’s smile on all that you are and all that you set your hand to. And may you enter the new year with your heart singing along with an ever-increasing throng of grateful saints everywhere that ours is a truly ‘good good Father’.
Love and peace to you and yours,
Fred
* Be advised, the video links may contain content that is not suitable for sensitive viewers.
 

 

Die familiebyeenkoms 2016

Die familiebyeenkoms 2016

deur Fred May
Wanneer Christus oor Sy kerk van die eindtye praat, sê Hy die volgende: “Dan sal die koninkryk van die hemele wees soos tien maagde wat hulle lampe geneem en uitgegaan het om die bruidegom te ontmoet” (Mattheus 25:1 OV). Hy sê dat alhoewel ons almal in dieselfde stadium van halfgereedheid sal wees, een helfte van die kerk beter voorbereid sal wees vir Sy koms – “En onderwyl hulle gaan om [olie] te koop, het die bruidegom gekom. En die wat gereed was, het saam met hom ingegaan na die bruilof, en die deur is gesluit” (Mattheus 25:10 OV). As die olie die Heilige Gees se inspirerende teenwoordigheid en invloed voorstel, is die ander betekenisvolle deel van die gelykenis die feit dat die olie gekoop moes word. Maar dis interessant om te sien dat Hy nie die betaalmiddel of prys wat nodig is om dit aan te koop spesifiek noem nie. Maar wat wel duidelik blyk in die lig van die weglating wat na my mening doelbewus is, is die feit dat dit tyd sal kos om die ekstra olie te koop. Te veel tyd, om die waarheid te sê, wanneer die lang verwagte oomblik van ontmoeting met die bruidegom uiteindelik aanbreek. Die idee is dat tyd die mees waardevolle betaalmiddel is wat aan die mensdom gegee is. Die inherente waarde van tyd, relatief tot die kortstondigheid van die lewe, is uitermate hoog. Om hierdie rede ag God ons tyd baie meer werd as enige ander geskenk of offerande wat ons Hom kan gee. En omdat God liefde is, heg Hy spesiale waarde aan die tyd wat ons in ‘n verhouding met Hom en met mekaar belê.
Daarom het ek die vrymoedigheid om jou uit te nooi om ‘n spesiale tyd van saamwees en aanbidding met ons te deel by ons Convergence 2016 konferensie hier in die Kaap. Hierdie jaar is die formaat effens anders omdat ons nie gassprekers uitgenooi het nie. Ons hoop om volgende jaar ons tradisie van genooide sprekers voort te sit, maar intussen het ons ‘n behoefte geïdentifiseer om die kort tydjie wat ons met mekaar het op ‘n meer doeltreffende wyse te benut, en ons pas die konferensieprogram daarby aan. Waarna ons werk is die opstel van ‘n formaat/profiel wat ons vir alle ander soortgelyke geleenthede kan gebruik. Ons hoop om die vloei genoegsaam te rig sodat dit sal saamhang met die oorkoepelende tema, fokus en verlangde uitkomste terwyl die ekspressiewe beweegruimte wat ons deelnemers in die verlede geniet het behou sal word. Verder mag dit dalk ook die laaste geleentheid wees wat ons sal hê om ‘n duidelike, samehangende begrip van wie ons is en die plek waarby ons as ‘n beweging uitgekom het aan ons lidmate voor te lê. Ongelukkig het ons in die verlede nagelaat om genoegsame fokus en klem op ons visie en waardes te plaas, en daar is dus ‘n dringende behoefte om hierdie oorsig reg te stel.
Ons voel dat dit noodsaaklik is om die gesprek te begin oor ons behoefte om uit die geestelike ruimte waarin ons tans is te beweeg na ‘n ander een. Op die oomblik bevind ons onsself in ‘n ruimte wat grootliks deur die heersende kultuur met sy godsdienstige tradisies gevoed word. Ons het ‘n meer duidelike onderskeid tussen ‘Evangelie’ en ‘kultuur’ nodig. Ons moet dringend na apostoliese ruimte toe beweeg. En presies hoe hierdie ruimte lyk is die vraag wat ons met nederigheid in gebed moet aanspreek. In Handelinge kry ons ‘n waardevolle kykie na hierdie wonderlike vooruitsig, maar ons moet begin by hoe ons tot daar gaan reis. Terwyl hierdie uitdaging aan die Liggaam van Christus as geheel gerig word, moet ons, as beweging, uitvind wat dit op hierdie tydstip vir ons gaan beteken. Daar is ‘n geskiedkundige, soewereine beweging van God wêreldwyd aan die gang, en ek glo vas dat God wil hê ons moet deel wees daarvan. Dit is waarom die convergence-gesprek hierdie keer beloof om betekenisvol en inspirerend te wees.
Hierdie jaar se tema, OM EEN TE WEES (“BEING ONE”), spreek van twee subtemas: ‘eenheid met Christus’ en ‘eenheid in Christus’, met die tweede wat uit die eerste voortspruit. Wat ons eenheid in Christus betref hoop ons om elke konferensieganger te laat met ‘n duidelike beeld van hierdie eenheid uit ‘n Bybelse perspektief gesien, naamlik dat dit ‘n fait accompli is – iets wat reeds onherroeplik deur Christus aan die Kruis bewerkstellig is. Net soos dit vir ‘n pa nie nodig sal wees om sy kinders wat onder mekaar stry en baklei te oortuig dat hulle werklik familie van mekaar is nie, glo ons dat ons Vader ook eerder met ons wil gesels oor wat die realiteit van familie wees, van een wees, prakties beteken.
Daarom gaan ons van naderby kyk na wat dit beteken om een te wees met Christus. Ons gaan fokus op een wees met die verstand van Christus, een wees met die hart van Christus, een wees met die hande van Christus en een wees met die voete van Christus. Ons vertrou God die Heilige Gees vir ‘n gesamentlike ervaring van emosioneel-geestelike openbaring, die lig van ‘n sluier as’t ware. Ons mik daarna om ‘n doelbewuste fokus op en visie van die verenigende beeld van Christus aan te wakker. Uiteindelik kan ons net streef na of ‘n begeerte ontwikkel vir dít wat ons sien. Die sleutel na ware eenheid lê in die ervaring van die geopenbaarde Christus – “En terwyl ons almal met onbedekte gesig soos in ‘n spieël die heerlikheid van die Here aanskou, word ons van gedaante verander na dieselfde beeld, van heerlikheid tot heerlikheid, as deur die Here wat die Gees is” (2 Korinthiërs 3:18 OV). God se uiteindelike begeerte vir ons is nie soseer dat ons iets groots of betekenisvol vermag nie, maar eerder dat ons soos Christus word. Die Heilige Gees is nie gestuur om ons in staat te stel om die werk van getuies te ‘doen’ nie, maar eerder om getuies te ‘wees’ – getuies van Wie Hy is en wat Hy doen; waar geestelike familie wees beteken dat ons Christus nadoen en nie persoonlike ambisie nastreef nie – “Dié wat Hy lank tevore verkies het, het Hy ook bestem om gelykvormig te wees aan die beeld van sy Seun, sodat sy Seun baie broers kan hê van wie Hy die Eerste is” (Romeine 8:29 NV).
Ek raai ons amal aan om ons bes te doen om nie hierdie afspraak met Christus en hierdie deel van Sy Liggaam mis te loop nie. En aan die meer avontuurlustiges onder ons rig ek spesiaal hierdie nota en vra dat ons doelbewus daardie tyd neem weg van die narsistiese suurdeeg waarvan kontemporêre kultuur deurtrek is, wat maak dat ons eerder plesier/ontspanning opsoek as God. Dit is afgodery wat die beeld van Christus verraai. Beskou hierdie as ‘n vaderlike vermaning om jou toewyding aan Christus te bevestig bo die najaag van plesier. In plaas daarvan om aan te hou om Hom soos ‘n toevoegsel tot ons lewens te behandel, kom ons wys ons begeerte vir Hom deur ander verpligtinge te kanselleer of uit te stel ter wille van konferensiebywoning. Kom ons maak ons dagboeke en begrotings ‘n weerspieëling van ons ewige prioriteite en waardes. Kom ons almal aanvaar die Vader se uitnodiging om in Sy teenwoordigheid in te kom en maak die geleentheid spesiaal met ons gewaardeerde deelname en teenwoordigheid. Sien julle daar.
Liefde in Christus,
Fred
The family get-together 2016

The family get-together 2016

by Fred May
Christ, when speaking on the state of His Church in the last days, said the following – “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” (Matthew 25:1 NIV) He said that while we’d all be in a state of semi-readiness at the time, one-half of the church would be somewhat more prepared for His coming – “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.(Matthew 25:10 NIV) If oil represents the inspiring presence and influence of the Holy Spirit, the other significant part of the parable relates to the fact that the oil was meant to be purchased. However, it’s interesting to note that He does not specify the currency or price required for its procurement. In light of what appears to be an intentional omission Christ does seem to make it clear that buying the extra oil would take time; too much time in fact before the delayed rendezvous with the Bridegroom. The thought here is that the most valuable currency mankind has been granted is time. Its intrinsic value, relative to life’s brevity, is extremely high. For this reason, God values our time more highly than any other gift or offering we could bring Him. And since God is love, He places special merit on our time invested in relationship with Him, and with each other.
Therefore, it’s with great confidence that I invite you to share a special time of fellowship and worship with us at our annual Convergence 2016 conference here in the Cape. This year the format is somewhat different in that we’re not inviting guest speakers. We hope to resume that tradition again next year. But before then we have identified the need to tailor the conference programme somewhat for a more efficient and effective utilisation of our limited time together. We’re working toward establishing a conference format/template applicable to all other similar events. We’re hoping to have the flow sufficiently scripted to make it cohesive in terms of overarching theme, focus and desired outcomes while, at the same time, preserving much of the expressive latitude our participants have enjoyed in the past.  Also, it may be the last time we have an opportunity to present our members with a clear, cohesive understanding of who we are, and where we’ve come to, as a movement at this point in time. Unfortunately, we’ve neglected to place sufficient emphasis on our vision and values in the past and consequently urgent need exists to bring correction to this oversight.
We deem it imperative to initiate the conversation on our need to migrate from the spiritual space we currently occupy, to a somewhat different one. At present, we find ourselves in a space largely informed by prevailing culture and its religious traditions. We’re in need of a clearer distinction between ‘Gospel’ and ‘culture’. We need to migrate to apostolic space as a matter of urgency. And what this space looks like is the burning issue we need to engage humbly and prayerfully. The book of Acts provides us with valuable glimpses into this glorious prospect, but what the journey there would be like for us is where we need to start. While this challenge applies to the Body of Christ on the whole, we as a movement have need to discover what this would mean here and now. There’s a historic, sovereign move of God afoot globally, and I firmly believe that God would have us be a part of it. That’s why the Convergence conversation this time around promises to be a deeply significant and inspiring one.
The theme for this year, BEING ONE, speaks into the two sub-themes of ‘oneness with Christ‘ and also ‘oneness in Christ’, with the latter stemming from the former. In promoting our unity in Christ we hope to leave every delegate with a clear perspective on this truth from a biblical perspective, namely that it’s a fait accompli, meaning it’s something irrevocably established by Christ on the Cross. Just as a father dealing with squabbling and bickering amongst his children will hardly feel the need to convince them of the fact that they are in fact family, we believe Our Father too, would rather engage us in conversation about what this reality of being family, being one, implies in practice.
Therefore we’ll be looking closely at what being one with Christ would mean. We’ll focus on being one with the mind of Christ; being one with the heart of Christ; being one with the hands of Christ and being one with the feet of Christ. We’re believing God the Holy Spirit for a collective experience of emotional-spiritual ‘unveiling’ as it were. Our aim is to foster an intentional focus on, and vision of, the unifying image of Christ. After all, we can only aspire after, or develop a desire for what we see. The key to embracing true unity lies in the revelatory experience of the image of Christ – “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.(2 Corinthians 3:18 BOOKS) God’s ultimate desire for us is not so much that we accomplish significance or greatness but rather that we become like Christ. The Holy Spirit was not sent to empower us to ‘do‘ witnessing, but rather that we ‘be‘ witnesses of Who He is and of what He does; where being spiritual family equates to emulating Christ instead of pursuing personal ambition – “God planned that those he had chosen would become like his Son. In that way, Christ will be the first and most honoured among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:29 NIRV)
I would encourage us all to do our utmost to not miss this appointment with Christ and this part of His Body. As a note addressed especially to our more adventure-loving members, I’d ask that we make an intentional break from the narcissistic leaven pervading contemporary culture that has us loving a pursuit of leisure/pleasure more than God. This idolatry amounts to a betrayal of the image of Christ. Consider this a fatherly exhortation to confirm our commitment to Christ, over the pursuit of pleasure. Instead of continuing to treat God as an add-on to our lives, let us demonstrate our desire for Him by rather cancelling or postponing conflicting commitments in lieu of conference attendance. Let’s make our diaries and budgets a reflection of our eternal priorities and values. Let us all accept the Father’s invitation into His presence and lend the occasion the blessing of our much-valued presence and participation. See you there.
Love in Christ,
Fred
reflecting on 2015

reflecting on 2015

by Fred May
For me, the past year has been quite an extraordinary journey on so many levels. When it started I had already committed myself to an extended ministry sabbatical. And while we all may enjoy the idea of savouring an extended break from daily responsibility and labour, I discovered that there may be a telling, unexpected distinction observable between a vacation and a sabbatical.
The dictionary defines a sabbatical as ‘a period of time during which someone does not work at his or her regular job, a break or a welcome change from the usual routine. In this sense, it certainly is a delightful prospect, especially when one has already been led to suspect that sustained pressure, stress and fatigue have all started to take their toll in ways that had not become entirely apparent yet but had nonetheless made their quiet presence felt in many insidious ways.
What took me by surprise the most in the process, however, was how deeply dependent one becomes on the familiar, and especially so as one grows older. The rhythmic flow of the mundane throb of a hive of activities that are mostly routine, long since firmly embedded as neurochemical pathways in the brain, become wonderfully, strangely comforting.
We all have an intrinsic need to feel meaningfully connected to life in some way. And of even greater importance is the need to feel an ongoing sense of personal validation, derived at a subconscious level from feeling that one’s personal contribution is, at least, being deemed significant and, at best, indispensable. And while I’m not altogether clear on how this dynamic affects women, what I do know is that for us men this peculiar derivation of job-related affirmation is intimately tied into our gender security. Our masculine integrity feeds lustily off it.
For me, all the aforementioned factors conspired to make for a rather conflicted sabbatical experience at times. I realise that when Christ invited me to follow Him as a disciple I assumed that His demand that I ‘take up my cross’ essentially meant that I be willing to do whatever He demanded of me. What I’ve discovered in 2015 is that in many ways it’s much easier to live a life of challenging commitment and sacrifice ‘for the cause of Christ’ than be asked to stop doing anything at all. Asking a preacher to stop preaching is a bit like husband asking his wife to stop being a mom to their children or for a windmill to stop pumping. It is deeply counter-instinctual. It just feels so wrong.
And yet it’s a most important discipling lesson I’ve had the privilege of learning on a brand new level. It’s what Christ had in mind when He said that only the meek would inherit the earth.  While meekness refers to great personal power that’s perfectly harnessed and controlled, it also means that we’ve allowed Christ to wean us off our natural vulnerability to a performance-derived, emotional reward system and the emotional-spiritual insecurity it represents.
In that great chapter in the book of Hebrews about the valiant heroes of faith, who courageously carried the redemptive torch throughout the ages, the strongest commendation is reserved for those spiritual colossi who had grown to a place where they could resist the subtle temptation to demonstrate a presumptuous obedience instead of meekness, unlike the anti-hero of the Old Testament, the mighty Samson. Scripture celebrates the almost incredible liberty and authority these truly great men and women of God had grown to exercise: “…who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.” Hebrews 11:33-34 (NASB)
It may be that our deepest spiritual aspiration or longing may be that of a rich, purpose-fueled existence and the accompanying secret bliss derived from sensing something of the personal distinction, significance and fulfillment that it brings. God, however, would at some point call each one of us to forsake even that hard-won place of ostensibly lofty spiritual attainment.
The consecutive verse in the chapter just quoted marks that mostly unsung, but monumentally significant moment, of transition that every one of us would instinctively dread. Without exception, every honest believer suffers from a triumphalist hankering, one borne out of having to suffer a seemingly ceaseless barrage of frustration and disappointment in this life. This deep yearning for vindication and even vengeance is one that God recognises and even shares, yet without placing the same value on it in quite in the same way we do.
These people are truly great faith icons. “…who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection” Hebrews 11:33, 35 (NASB, emphasis mine)
At this point, the biblical narrative seems to change gear so seamlessly that one may be tempted to miss the mighty chasm that’s just been bridged. But just in case one may have missed it, the author proceeds to underscore the dramatic transition made by way of further illustration. “…and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.” Hebrews 11:36-38 (NASB, emphasis mine)
God deems His saints who embrace the Cross, that is, the meek, of inestimable, eternal worth. In God’s eyes, they are most highly esteemed. Similarly, Christ, while nailed to the Cross, was in a position to summon legions of angels to His defense but He chose to exercise meekness, the greatest power known to man, instead, and desisted. He refrained from exercising His God-given authority and power to which He was divinely entitled.
Doing those things which we deem nobly vicarious and virtuous may be just that, but receiving a command to desist from all that activity is aimed at repositioning us since even divinely sanctioned activity may pose a threat to our relationship with Him. It holds the danger of estranging us from Him, by militating against an intimacy with us which He so deeply longs for.
What I have learnt in 2015 is that God is jealous for my presence. We seem to persist with the pretentious notion that we can, and need to, invite God into our presence, as if we author or create our own space. Fact is, He has placed us in His world and we happen to occupy the time and space that He has created and blessed us to inhabit. He longs for us to come into His presence by learning to be present to Him. But this transition is possible only when we become willing even to desist from doing what is good and right for the joy of being – being with Him.
Meekness ultimately speaks of a willingness to trade the satisfying spiritual modality of ‘doing’ for that of ‘being’, where the latter enjoys constant priority. Christ emphatically placed a primary emphasis on the disciple’s need to learn to value that place of rest, away from the weight of noble obligation and the inevitably ensuing weariness, over the egotistical satisfaction of accomplishment, the ‘thrill of the hunt’ as it were. “Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons.” Mark 3:14-15 (NKJV, emphasis mine)
In the last while, I’ve learnt something of what it means to simply ‘be’, with Him. He, more often than not, longs to engage us in a conversation that moves beyond the comforting familiarity and emotional security of a spiritual ‘to-do list’ or job card, even though it would commendably mean that He has been able to move the conversation with us beyond the shopping list and promise box. However, He needs the undistracted time and space to talk to one about His need to be our redemptive physician, our healer, Yahweh Rophe. He, like any medical professional, will not embark on any invasive procedure without informing, clarifying and securing our unconditional sanction first.
In this past year I have learnt, in a newer, deeper way, what loving concern would cause Him to linger at my heart’s door, knocking ever so gently, but persistently, until I muster the courage to reach for the seldom-used handle to invite Him in for what turns out to be a conversation that initially is almost as intimidating and challenging as it is ultimately rewarding and endearing. “Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20 (HCSB)
Nothing else in this life quite compares to this critically important ‘date-night’ with the Master.
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