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Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Millennial Mystery

If you're born between 1990 and 2000, you're a Millennial. If you're born before 1990, you're not. Sorry, but you're not. You're classified as old school. The quicker you deal with it, the better :-) The reason why I say "mystery" is because those of us over 30 need to catch a wake up if we want to be relevant to this generation. They are light years ahead of us when we were that age. Their world now and the world we lived in when we were 18 are two different worlds. Two different galaxies, actually. If you're wanting to 'reach them' in whatever capacity i.e. business, ministry, relational, you'd better be up to speed on four Millennial traits.

Firstly, they are incredibly tech savvy. They're on all platforms and they have a mapped out purpose for at least two of them. They have accounts on the rest so they can appear relevant to their peers and so that they don't miss out on who's doing what where. Being in 'the know' and 'up to date with the latest news' is a big driver for them. And this isn't just with their peers, frienemies and celebrities....but their trolls aswell. They want to be informed. Of. Everything. 

They realize they have a voice. And they want their opinions to be considered. They blog, post, and they not afraid to disagree with anyone. Bill Gates. Kim Kardashian. Caitlyn Jenner. "Who cares who they are? I have an opinion and I'll disagree if I feel differently. Because I can." It's because of this, that millennials are a more confident generation than ever before. They've crossed the shy barrier and they've expressed their differences. Even if it's only on Facebook. 

Like it or not, Millennial, but you are also the "I Want It Now" Generation. Instant gratification is what you've grown up with and its what you know. You've been brainwashed, unfortunately. And it's our fault. Life...REAL life...is not about instant gratification. It's an illusion. Your parents and the society you live in has done you a disservice by ingraining this belief into you. Did you know that a millennial gets an average of 52 'notifications' a day i.e. emails, Whatsapps, Social Media likes, Blog comments. That's around one reply/comment/thumbs up to something they've said on Twitter, to a photo they've posted on Instagram or a blog they've written, every 30 MINUTES!!! They post on social media in order to generate a response. And they get it. Very quickly! Millennials are results driven. If they don't get a reponse or a desired result within a prescribed time frame, they will move on to something else. 'Take your time' is not part of their vocabulary. It's not part of their makeup. When I was young, we were taught the value of sticking to something, through the good and bad, in order to get to your desired result. Not a millennial. The hard work that a Marriage needs is foreign language to them. They don't understand that. If it doesn't work, move on. "Why live and be unhappy, bro?" Sticking at a job, build the blocks necessary, make sacrifices and climb up the ladder over time is stupid thinking to a millennial. You want to be the CEO? Start your own company! The only sacrifice they willing to make is sleep, so that they can live harder and make more money! 

Millennials are lonely. Because they can literally live and exist in their flat with their iPad, they don't need to socialize, in person. And this is why a guy my age (and I'm only 36) can see through the facade of 'social media'. It's not social at all. Many Millennials' identity is wrapped up in what others think of their opinions on Facebook. They measure their likability but how many 'likes' they get on a quote they posted 29 minutes ago. They quick to respond to a disagreement on their blog post but have little idea on how to do it while sitting around a meal. Facebook may say they have 1248 friends, but they still go to the movies alone. What this generation is lacking is that only few of them know what it feels like to belong. Belonging to something that only happens when practicing real socializing. Face to face interaction and building relationships over a long time. Millennials are being robbed of this human need. We all need to belong to something. To someone. And it can't come from online shopping or social media chat rooms. 

Make no mistake, Millennials are smart and they know a lot. They are the most informed and knowledgable generation ever. They can hold conversations and have intelegable arguments over a host of social ills and injustices. They have strong opinions and they are gifted in communicating these opinions. They're adventurous and they not afraid to work hard when the time calls for it. But they want results and they expect things to be done quickly, and they make no apology for it. But they need the over 30's. They need us to show them the value of time. They need us to interact over the supper table. They need friends, flesh and blood friends. They need to feel valued. They want to belong.

#peace




Sunday, 11 June 2017

A Christian's Greatest Challenge

The greatest challenge for every Christian on this side of eternity is to stay continually satisfied in Jesus and not allow one's heart to be fulfilled in anything other than Christ and His presence.

The chief purpose of man is to know God and enjoy Him forever. It's funny how many of those who genuinely know Him haven't learnt what it means to enjoy Him. Enjoying Jesus is a foreign concept to them.
Keeping ones heart free from finding fulfillment in the things of this world is a daily struggle. This is because we are weak and we have a flesh. This is why renewing the mind is of such significance. Renewing our minds to who we are and to whom we belong is key. It's so important to be fully aware of His presence in us and around us daily. That has helped me. Allowing the realization that He is 'here', wherever I am and through whatever I face, has helped me to find my fulfillment in Him, "in the moment".

Don't allow your hear to be satisfied in money, in material wealth, in sex, in any idol on this earth. Train your heart to be satisfied in Jesus. It's the Christian's greatest challenge, but it's so worth it.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Good Works!


God doesn’t need our good works, but the world does. We have been freed from our need to repay God with good works! There is no ‘debtors complex’ – paying God back for what He has done for us.
Jesus wasn’t passive in His love towards others. He changed villages and impacted towns! It came from a place of total security and a love relationship with His Father. He knew he was loved and secure. There was nothing he could do that would make His Father love him more and there was nothing He could do that would make Him love Jesus less. He knew He was His Father’s Beloved.

And we are loved like Jesus! And we needn’t be passive in our love and serving of others either. The natural outworking of God’s grace and security in our relationship is good works! Christians were known as Christians for the first time in Antioch – it was there fervency of love in action! They were a diverse people, a worshipping people and a generous people. They were known in the community as a different people; a peculiar people – a loving people. Their actions made an impact! Like Jesus’ did.
When Christians say they are Christians but there isn’t a visible overflow of love and action in their lives, then there are some questions they should ask? Do you know how much you are loved? Do you know that you are His Beloved? Do you know that He loves you 100%?

We are objects of love before we are subjects who love. Our good works don’t establish our relationship with God by any means, but they do communicate to whom we belong. Life after justification does not eliminate good works, but it ‘horitzonalizes’ them. Jesus said that men will know that we are His disciples because of our love for one another. Christians love. Love in action. It’s an outworking from the inside out!
He won’t love us when we become better. He already loves us completely. Nothing we do can increase or decrease His love for us. That’s who He is. And that’s exactly who is at work INSIDE of us. And that love is going to work such magic inside of us that it expresses itself through us in outrageous good works to the people around us where we’ll love them as we’ve come to know God’s love for us.

Go forth! And have fun as you feed your enemies, be kind to your boss and  bless your unfriendly neighbours with the good works prepared for you in advance!  

Monday, 17 April 2017

Father approves and He is proud!

Two of the most difficult truths that I've battled to believe as a Christian is that God approves of me and that He's proud of me. All the time.

I buy the fact that He "loves me unconditionally". I even buy the fact that He approves of me and is proud of me most of the time. But anything more than that is hard to accept.

It's hard to accept because, you know...How can God approve of me and be proud of me when there are times when I disapprove of me and disappoint myself by the things that I do and say. And I'm quick to justify myself to at times too. But there are other times when I concede defeat and I'm truly gutted at things I do and say. So how exactly can God, the perfect judge, be proud of me....all time?

Suppose I put a piece of torn paper into a container. If I put that container in the fridge, where's the torn paper? If I put the container in my cupboard, where's the torn paper? That's right. Wherever the container is, that's where the torn paper is. So it is with us being in Christ. We are in perfect union with Him. We are in Him. If He goes in the fridge, so do we :-) Whatever the Father feels or thinks of Jesus, He thinks of us. We are in Him!!!!

And do you know what? He is proud of Jesus all the time and He approves of Jesus all the time! And therefore He is proud of us and He approves of us all the time.

"This is my beloved Son, whom I love and in whom I am well pleased." - Father, Gospel of Matthew, 3rd Chapter

Friday, 3 March 2017

The New Normal?

There are some things that society considers normal today which wasn't normal a few years ago.

Take sex scenes in movies. When I was at school, seeing a pair of boobs was always an age restricted: 2-16. A sex scene where you saw boobs or a bum was 2-18. Today, I've seen 2-10 movies with boobs flashing in a few scenes. It would have horrified us back then...but as time has gone by and the more lenient the restrictions got, the more "normal" it became.

As I observe our society today I see open gay relationships moving in the same direction. The message to our culture is that being gay is acceptable and normal, as long as you stay true to your partner as one would in a straight relationship. Soap operas are airing kisses between gay men, movies are doing the same. And just this last week, Disney announced that a new character in their latest installment of Beauty and the Beast will be gay. Ten years ago these things would have been heavily restricted. Today, the world is forced to accept it as normal. Today's children don't know how society was ten or twenty years ago, so they don't see it as indifferent. It's become their normal.
As society evolves it's acceptance of gay relationships, many see it as progressive and victorious for the gay community because to them, acceptance hasn't been a commodity.
On the other hand, those who value straight relationships for whatever reason and still view gay relationships as wrong will be put under tremendous pressure in years to come to either confirm with the new normal or else....

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Theology

Theology is the study of God. I have a sneaking suspicion that theology was meant to be something to savour, not achieve. I mean, study God? Work Him out? In which life time do you think you'll ever work out 0,01% of the Divine One? I have trouble making sense of my five-year old, let alone God.

Which brings me to my suspicion. I believe that theology was never meant to be about answers, but rather thought. Scripture tells us that God reveals Himself by revelation. He reveals...that's what He does. He reveals. We think. We believe. 

I have the following approach to theology: I liken it to a nice coastal drive from East London to Cape Town. The whole idea is enjoyment, not destination. Enjoy the wonder of the Bloukrans Bridge, enjoy the windy roads through the Wilderness, enjoy the forests of Tsitsikama, enjoy the sea view from Plettenburg Bay, enjoy the Knysna river marine, enjoy the homely feel of Sedgefield and have you ever seen a view more spectacular than the one on top of Sir Lowreys Pass? The journey to Cape Town isn't done properly without a stop off at Storms River or at some cheese and farm stalls along the Garden Route. Have you ever visited the Big Tree? I have. Twice. It's awesome. The trip really is an adventure of discovery. The point of the trip IS the journey, not the destination. It's to be Savoured. 

Will we ever know the answers that work God out? No. Never. He has, however, called us to worship Him and enjoy Him forever. Like all things in the Kingdom, theology too is worship. And worship is two things: To look on Him and to savour Him. Studying His ways, discussing Him and how others have different and unique ways of understanding this or that about Him should be uplifting and encouraging, not prideful competition or higher intellectualism. It's sad that most of the theological world has been reduced to such fleshly pitfalls. It was never meant to be. At least I don't suspect so. 

So my advice...study the scriptures and show yourself approved, but for heavens sake, make sure your primary focus is to Enjoy Him and Savour Him forever.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Diedrich Bonhoeffer - Part 2

I've been reading a lot more about this Jesus-loving-German and again, I have to utter "Wow!" For a man in his 30's, he was truly gifted with an ability to think in ways that have never before been thought or penned, that cut to the heart of who Jesus was and who the church should be in the world it exists in. It does arrest the heart in its tracks and challenge its motives and it's selfish ambitions - it did mine. 

Picking up from where we left off in Part 1, Bonhoeffer was convinced that the Christian life had to be completely Christ-centric, not only that, but the crucified and suffering Christ-centric. From there, a believer sees the example of Christ's sacrificial suffering and death and by grace, emulates it for a lost and dying world. Grace empowers the Christians call to an active life of sacrifice for others. Bonhoeffer said "The church is the church only when it exists for others." Not its own comfort or its programs or its families or its happiness - but for others! This could only be attained when a believer lives in the reality of the essence of the Gospel - which he says:

"Nevertheless, these three propositions remain true for us from the day of our coming to Christ until we reach the end of our earthly lives: God is holy, we are sinful, and Christ is our only hope. And that hope comes not only through Christ’s resurrection, but also through Christ’s death on the cross."

"We err when we see these as only having to do with our justification. When we leave these three propositions, and especially grace, at the door of initial salvation and try to walk on without them, we are doomed to a Christian life marked by frustration."

In his lectures on christology (Theology of Jesus Christ) he rejects those who would deny the historicity of the resurrection, and he makes a clear and definitive statement of the necessity of the empty tomb. “Between the humiliation and exaltation of Christ lies the historical fact of the empty grave. . . . If it is not empty, then Christ is not resurrected. It seems as though our ‘resurrection faith’ is bound up with the story of the empty grave. If the grave were not empty, we would not have our faith." Our faith stands on the factual history of the resurrection.

From his christology, which entails an orthodox view of the God-man and of the sacrificial life, atoning death, and triumphant resurrection of Christ, flows all of Bonhoeffer’s theology and ethics. It seems that Bonhoeffer scholars have recently taken to identifying the center of all of his thought as “Christo-ecclesiology.” What that expression means is not that he simply emphasized christology and ecclesiology (Theology of the Church) but that his ecclesiology, seen in such books as Life Together, flows from and is connected to his christology. To Bonhoeffer, they were one and the same. You cannot be the church without being like Jesus. Only when the church truly understands the suffering and sacrificial Jesus, can they truly BE the church as God intended in the earth. 

The kind of embracing of Christ that Bonhoeffer talks about is that we live for others in a sacrificial, loving way. As I said in the beginning, Bonhoeffer declared that “the church is the church only when it exists for others.”

In the days when Bonhoeffer preached, he was stirred by this truth, this "Christo-ecclesiology". He saw clearly that the church must have Jesus at the center and that the church must have room for the Jesus who suffers. In the outline for the book he never wrote, Bonhoeffer also spoke of Jesus the crucified as the model for us. As the crucified one, Jesus suffered rejection. Even as the crucified one, Jesus came and lived for others. As the crucified one, Jesus, having lived a sacrificial life of love for others, died a sacrificial death in love for others. This served as both the basis for and the model of living the Christian life and Bonhoeffer's theology of spirituality.

He wrote much of this thought in his book "The Cost of Discipleship." The book could not be clearer. “Discipleship is commitment to Christ." Christ calls, we follow. That much is straightforward, even easy. The doing of it is another story. Bonhoeffer leads us to the Sermon on the Mount and the difficulties in the simple command to follow Christ. Bonhoeffer places huge emphasis on Christ’s imperative: we must, like Christ, take up our cross and share in his suffering. He explains what this entails. “The first Christ-suffering that everyone has to experience is the call which summons us away from our attachments to this world. It is the death of the old self in the encounter with Jesus Christ.” This death, though, is the beginning of our life, our life in Christ. Second, this following of Christ in his suffering leads us into our everyday battles with temptation and our daily struggles with sin and satan.

He then offers words of comfort. “Christian suffering is not disconcerting, Instead, it is nothing but grace and joy." Christ not only suffered, but bore the suffering on the cross. In his bearing of the suffering, he triumphed over it. Bonhoeffer puts it plainly, “His cross is the triumph over suffering.” We are called to such a life. We follow Christ “under the cross.”

For Bonhoeffer, living the Christian life begins with Christ, with his call to discipleship, with the cross. We live in Christ. We live from the cross. “We are the church beneath the cross.” 

I've been truly challenged by Diedrich's life - his theology in action - his compassion, his courage and his way of thinking. I may not agree with everything he believed and his every interpretation of the scriptures - but who am I? Diedrich demands respect and an audience...and for one would love to spend some good quality time with this Disciple of Jesus one day. I have nothing else to say, except "Wow".