How can our world and our experience of it look different if we could have a change in perspective?
I reflect on Psalm 92:1-5 and how it can help us to unlock the Truth of the Gospel for a more meaningful human experience.
How can our world and our experience of it look different if we could have a change in perspective?
I reflect on Psalm 92:1-5 and how it can help us to unlock the Truth of the Gospel for a more meaningful human experience.
I am sharing one of my favourite stories from the Bible – Saul’s end and David’s beginning. We often read the Old Testament as history, but actually the same story plays off in our own hearts.
Watch this video and find out how 1 Samuel 15 has been playing off in my heart but how there is hope in the line of David for us all.
This week I am sharing my videos in a vlog. I do not have all the answers to this very real problem of the human life. However, I do believe Psalm 91 gives us some perspective. I hope to share that with you, whilst I am working through this on journey to the eternal hope.
Since my days at university messages centering on identity struck a cord. I believed that everything is about who you are.
Around the age of 20-25 finding one’s identity becomes one of the main goals. Some hit the spot whilst others keep on searching for many years and die still not knowing who they were.
For me, it was during this time that I questioned things around myself and my own identity. Some of these questions were valid but others were lies and deceptions. I wish I could say that I wasn’t deceived but I was, often on the same questions.
Life runs with us and most of the time we just try to keep up. We try to build the plane we need to navigate life with whilst flying. This is most often disastrous. Not only for ourselves but also for other people that cross our paths.
It is crucial to a man’s well-being and his relationships that he discovers who and what he is. A man needs to know what he is made of. That is why most boys challenge one another either in play or sometimes even as if life itself depends on it. As we grow older we do not stop challenging, our opponent just starts to look different – our marriages, our kids, our jobs. We are constantly challenged and we need to know the answer to the question – what are we made of?
It is crucial to a man’s well-being and his relationships that he discovers who and what he is. A man needs to know what he is made of.
Eric Taylor who is regarded as one of the best football coaches in the history of Texas said: “Every man at some point in his life is going to lose a battle. He’s going to fight and he’s going to lose. But what makes a man is that in the midst of the battle he does not lose himself.” When I first read this quote four years ago it struck a chord. At this time I was in my first job, still single but longing to be in a relationship, so challenged and losing on most fronts.
“Every man at some point in his life is going to lose a battle. He’s going to fight and he’s going to lose. But what makes a man is that in the midst of the battle he does not lose himself.”Eric Taylor
When God replaces King Saul (Israel’s first human king) he describes his replacement, King David, as “a man after my own heart”. In 1 Samuel 14 – 17 we meet these two contrasting characters. King Saul is full of himself, follows his own wisdom, regards the opinion of man higher than that of God, and is proud. The king to be, David, is the youngest of 8 sons, he is a brave little shepherd, red of colour. He is the weapon bearer of a king who wants to kill him but he never takes revenge even though the opportunities arrive many times. David is humble and at this point he is honourable and Saul is the bad guy.
However, if we continue reading the records in 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel David’s flaws become visible too. The most scandalous is his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband on the battlefield to cover up his sin. Their first child then dies due to his sin as well. Now if David is described as “a man after God’s own heart” what does it mean in the context of his flaws? What does it mean in the context of his glaring sins?
Yes, I know that ultimately Jesus who was born from the lineage of David was the fulfillment of God’s description of David, but these words are also true in the immediate context where we find them in the Bible.
The words of Eric Taylor resonates in my mind when thinking about this situation – “Every man at some point in his life is going to lose a battle. But what makes him a man is that in the midst of that battle he does not lose himself.”
Saul’s biggest flaw was his pride. Pride meant that he was disobedient. Pride meant that he was unable to repent and he was not remorseful over his sin. Saul lost himself in the fight as he thought the fight was about him. He sought himself and his identity in the position he held.
Saul’s biggest flaw was his pride … David, in contrast, was humble
David, in contrast, was humble and the Psalms testify of his remorse. If we read Psalm 51 it is clear that David knew who he was. Not something special. Not something worthy of God’s grace. He did the only thing he could – he went back to the Father. He went back to the One who defines him and in the midst of the battle, he did not lose himself.
Each one of us has our daily battles. It is not the battle that counts or the number of times that we lose that matters. Our battles and our losses do not define us. It matters if we are willing to grab the hand that has already grabbed us. It matters if we are willing to stand again just to fall again but in the midst of this falling and standing and falling, we hold fast to our true identity. This is what matters. This is what it means to be “a man after God’s own heart”.
Amid the battle, we can see in our mind’s eye the image of a true general fighting on the front-line. A general who fought and “lost” but in the midst of it all He did not lose Himself. A general who broke the weight of the cross and our sin. A general who, if we take the Bible at its word, is with us every step of the way.
A general who fought and “lost” but in the midst of it all He did not lose Himself.
I do not know your battles. But I do know the One that can help you win. I know the One who has won them all. Jesus Christ. His victory is available for you. His identity can be yours. He became a son of man so that men could become the sons of God. Allow Him to define you during your battle and journey with me as we discover the grace that makes this possible.
Peace be with you.
In the past there has been a notion that real men do not take care of the kids. Real men do not do dishes. Real men do not change diapers. Real men do not babysit. Child-rearing is the responsibility of women.
This has done irreparable damage to generations of young men and women. Has led to the breakdowns of many a wife and mother and has left manhood in the ICU. I am not surprised at all the feminist anti-heterosexual male calls that constantly reverberate on social media and nowadays in the marketplace. Men have made themselves replaceable. Not that I am suggesting that a man cannot be replaced, all that I am saying is that God never intended for women to raise children alone.
If we examine the Scriptures we note that both in the descriptions of qualifications for deacons and elders Paul mentions that church leaders should ensure that they manage their households and specifically their children well (1 Timothy 3:4 & Titus 1:7). Now some may argue that this means disciplining, but show me how you will discipline a child who you never worry to share your and their day to day life with.
Changing nappies, feeding them, cleaning them and after them is not tasks of the household. It is them. It is their lives. If a father misses these seemingly mundane tasks everyday how many days of his child’s life is he not missing out on? How many times does a baby poop? A LOT. A CRAZY LOT. Does it smell nice? Is it a nice task? NO. But it is them. In their most vulnerable state you can be their. This is also not only their own most vulnerable state, but often that of the mother as well.
Mothers go through massive trauma during and after the birthing process. Being the one that is mainly responsible for the rearing of the young child is already a very heavy burden. Being the only one to bear that responsibility is not right. It is not as it was supposed to be.
When men start sharing the load in the household they do not only meet their children, but they come alongside their wives and in doing so they meet their needs without doing anything spectacular. For a tired mother one diaper change can make a massive difference. One set of dishes that you wash can lighten her day. One feed can mean she gets 4 hours uninterrupted sleep and feels refreshed.
Be a man. Wash the dishes. Change the diapers. Feed the child(ren). Be a husband. Be a dad.
This post was originally delivered as a chapel message on 1 August 2018 at one of South Africa’s top private boys’ boarding schools.
As a scientist (I am a Chemical engineer by education and a Physical Sciences and Chemistry teacher by profession) I come across facts that often blows my mind. I sometimes just go “WOW!”. Light and the properties thereof is something I find to particularly have an awe-factor of ten plus.
Number 1: The properties of light.
Light is amazing. Without it we cannot see anything. Without light we would not be here. Without light there would be no life at all. This is the effect of light, but what are the properties of light?
First, white light is not white at all, but is a mixture of three primary colours – green, red and blue. We use this property of light in projectors, LCD screens and in graphic design. Light has the property that three primary colours are one. A trinity. Why is this mind blowing?
Christians believe that God is one being consisting of three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is interesting that the Bible describes God in various places as Light.
1 John 1:5 reads “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.”
And 1 John 5:7 says: “For there are three, that bear witness in heaven the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit and these three are one.”
Just like light consists of three primary colours, red, blue and green, each distinct, but one. So does God consist of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three in one – Light.
You might say, wait, when we use a prism in science to split white light we get seven colours. Yes that is so. Does the Bible refer to this? Well yes of course. The Bible describes God as light, consisting of three unique persons, and seven spirits. Revelation 1:4 reads “from the seven Spirits which are before His throne”. It is amazing that in the Old Testament God gave Moses the menorah – a lampstand consisting of 7 stands with three branches, all being one.
Is it not mind-blowing that the words written down by people with no scientific education so accurately describes the attributes of God, which we find when we study the properties of light? Is this purely coincidental?
I do not think so. No other religious book gives such an accurate description of its god when it compares it to natural phenomenon. The Bible is the only book and Christianity the only faith where their God is described as light and the God is believed to consist of three unique persons just as light consists of three unique colours, which then produces 7 colours when divided again through a prism, like the 7 spirits of God.
Number 2: Moving at the speed of light
At the age of 25 Albert Einstein described his Special Theory of Relativity in the year 1905. Einstein stated that when you move at the speed of light time no longer exists. Time ceases. Clocks stand still. Why is this fact mind blowing? I find it mind-blowing as God is described as being before time, outside time. How did people with no scientific knowledge know this when they wrote down Jesus’ words in John 8:12 which declares “I am the light of the world.”
When John writes in John 1 “The Word was with God and the Word was before all” just to declare later and the “light of the world was coming to the world” How did he know that light has the property that time does not exist for it?
Not only does time cease to exist when moving at the speed of light, but also the very notion that it takes time to travel to some place. When moving at the speed of light the distance between two planets is exactly zero and the time between the start and the end of the journey is also exactly zero. This is from light’s point of view. What do we call this? We call this entanglement, the ability of a particle to be at more than one place at the exact same time. When you here that God is omnipresent, you ask: “How is it even possible?”, but light shows this ability and the entanglement of particles all over the universe has been a hot topic in science since 1936.
We struggle to understand these concepts as we are within time. We accept these attributes when scientists write about it in the natural world, but why do we then question it as the very attributes of the one and only, living God? Is it a coincidence that the Creator who is described as Light is also described as being outside of time and omnipresent?
Is God a light particle, NO, but by observing nature we can see and observe the attributes of God, just as Paul declares in Romans 1:19-20 “For what may be known about God is clear to them. The invisible things about Him – His eternal power and deity – have been clearly seen since the creation of the world and are understood by the things that are made, so that they are without excuse.”
Paul is saying that we have no excuse to say “God cannot be known”, “God cannot be seen”, “there is no evidence for God”, because God’s very creation is telling us about Him. When we look at the properties of light we see three in one, being seven, which is ever present and outside of time.
Number 3: The speed of light – a “constant”
The speed of light was first determined in 1657 by a Danish Mathematician by doing studies of Jupiter’s moons. Roemer calculated the speed of light to be 307 600 km/s.
It was more than 200 years later that scientists at Harvard could redo the calculation with better telescopes and when Jupiter’s moons were visible to the earth-dwellers once more. They found a value of 299 921 km/s.
In 1983 the NBS confirmed that the speed of light was 299 792 km/s.
Our first inclination can be that the accuracy of our equipment improved and therefore it explains the difference between the values. However, is this true?
It is so that we now have better equipment, but the different values calculated over more than 350 years does not even overlap.
It was suggested in 1998 for the first time that the speed of light is not constant at all, and that at one point light was travelling much faster. Although scientists are still exploring this, preliminary results indicate that the speed of light is slowing down. Based on calculations by the Canadian Mathematician Alan Montgomery the speed of light was 10-30% faster in the time of Christ; twice as fast in the days of Solomon; four times as fast in the days of Abraham, and perhaps more than 10 million times faster prior to 3000 B.C. What does this mean for science?
It means that the age of the universe is most probably not 13,7 billion years. A faster speed of light will also explain why the remaining energy of the so-called Big Bang which Scientists cannot explain, is so uniformly dispersed throughout the universe. If the speed of light is not constant it changes everything we know about theoretical physics. Most of our calculations of the beginning of the universe will be proven wrong.
Why is this a mind-blowing fact? It shows the limits of what humans know and the fallibility of our assumptions. Actually according to some of NASA’s latest work, the universe should not exist. Mathematically it does not make sense that we are here. What is the problem? We are here. We do exist and we have to ask the question, “Why?”
If the universe is not 13,7 billion years old and the Earth not 4,5 billion years old, what are we going to do with the theory of evolution? A smaller period of time will not help, and even the current assumed period of time does not provide a probability that is likely at all.
The vocal atheist and genealogist Richard Dawkins is on record for admitting that no one knows the origin of the first self-replicating molecule. Science cannot even explain the start of life, therefore how can it postulate a theory of the evolution of that life. We need a start to life, before we can have a theory of how it developed. Science fails.
This is also true for the beginning of the universe, for even if the Big Bang happened, it still leaves us with the question – how did something come from nothing. Science does not have a good and conclusive answer. Our knowledge as humans are limited by time and space. Unlike light, we do not have a vantage point from without time and therefore we should tread lightly on matters we only have little information on.
What then is my conclusion? This – our human minds are unable to shed light on the roots of our origins. We can theorize and we can think, but ultimately we do not know. We cannot go back in time to confirm our theories and hypotheses. Our calculations fail and our constants are not that constant after all.
What are we left to do? How do we find truth? Pontius Pilate, the man who condemned Jesus to death under pressure from the Jews, asked the question “What is truth?” Modern society asks the same question – “What is truth?”
The dividing lines between wrong and right have become blurred. Hitler would hopefully have no support among Christians for his cleansing of the human race. Hitler cleansed society of those with disabilities. Those who did not make the cut. Hitler conducted experiments on humans, trying to modify them, cutting up twins and mutilating kids. He ostracized those who were Jews, and those not part of his view of a pure human race. What does modern society do? We get rid of inconveniences by abortion. We abort even healthy babies. We abort those with disabilities. We use genetic manipulation to form the human race of our choosing. Who is worse? Modern society or Hitler. Who is worse the “modern, liberal” Christian or Hitler?
Ah! It is relative you say. There is no right or wrong. People are unable to say “It is objectively morally wrong to abuse babies for pleasure.” You got to be kidding me. Do you hear what you say? How have we gotten to a point where we cannot say This is right. This is wrong.
There is no social justice when we are unwilling to have Light shed on our culture. It fails if we do not see right and wrong clearly. It means nothing if there is no objective right and wrong.
CS Lewis said: “I believe in Christianity, like I believe the sun has risen, not because I see it, but by it I see everything else.”
We need light. Jesus said: “I am the Light”. The attributes of God are revealed within nature and through His nature we are to view ourselves and humanity.
John 1:5 reads “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it”. The Light of the world was born into a small, useless Roman province. He was denied authority by both the Jewish leaders and the Roman government. Pilate asked “What is truth?” when He condemned Jesus to crucifixion, and yet this man with no authority would be the division of history. This man’s followers will convince even the Roman government itself of the Truth which is this man. How could this be if this man is dead?
If you have not critically engaged with this Truth, you have not engaged with life itself. Christianity is of no importance if Jesus was a good man that rotted away in a grave, but if He rose from the dead we have to face the Ultimate Truth.
Truth is not relative. Truth is a person. Jesus said: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me” in John 14:6.
There is one truth that is eternal and seated in the person of God. A truth that is unchanging. A truth which is Light, ever-present, three in one. What will you do with the Light?
This post was originally delivered as a Chapel message at a top South African boys’ boarding school, on 18 April 2018. As part of the school’s ethos Chapel attendance is compulsory.
When I was at school bracelets were not allowed. The only bracelets that were allowed were the What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) bracelets. It did not really matter what you believed, that was all which was allowed. At least you had a choice of the colour you liked. It was like compulsory Chapel.
These bracelets did, however, provide some food for thought. Like compulsory Chapel also sometimes does. You could apply the WWJD-model to everyday situation like – Would Jesus listen to an old bore in Maths? Would Jesus complain about the lunch for the day? Or we can apply it to the question of this post – Would Jesus force you to go to Church? I mean is it even Christ-like to force someone, against his will to attend a Church service.
Diocese schools was founded on the premise that as arithmetic is for the mind and exercise is for the body, so is worship, religion and specifically Christianity for the soul.
However, today I am not going to tell you why I believe you should sit in Church against your will. I am not going to highlight the advantages of Church and I am not going to put you on a guilt trip for not remembering the last message or any messages you have heard in a church.
I am here to ask questions. In asking questions and going where the answers lead, I have found many answers in my life. This is also not only the foundation of Scientific Inquiry, but also of a lot of conversations, Jesus himself had when He walked the earth.
So taking the question at hand – Would Jesus force you to go to Chapel?
I believe if we view the question only like this, we miss the bulk of the question and the whole answer.
The use of the word force assumes that you do not really want to attend Chapel. That it is against your will. This question at the heart assumes that people has a free will. At the heart of the question lies – Will Jesus force me to do something against my own free will? What is interesting to me is that lately it has been the scientific world that denies the existence of free will, not Jesus. If it is true that we have no free will, then we have a very big problem, but also an answer to our question that we need to be happy with – If you have no free will, then forcing you to attend something does not really mean anything. It just means that matter is filling up time and space due to chance as matter does. The problem with this reasoning is that it creates a ton of other problems. Not only can’t you complain about compulsory church attendance, but you can also not complain about murder, racism, cancer, rape – because it is all just a farce – it is just matter, with a presumptuous idea of free will that does not actually have free will that is doing what matter does.
The second question I want to ask is who is Jesus and what is Church? Each one of us need to consider and distinguish these two concepts. Church can be an event, church can be a building but it cannot be a person. Jesus on the other hand can be a moral leader, he can be a historic figure, he can be a legend, liar, lunatic or he can be Lord, but he is always in every context a person, regardless of people’s opinion about him. It is interesting that Napoleon Bonaparte, a man who had no time for religion and destroyed quite a few churches himself, as some of you might wish, remarked: “I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires, and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and whatever other religions the distance of infinity.”
Why would a man who destroyed churches make that remark? We need to answer this question for ourselves.
When you visit Rome one of the remains of the ancient empire can be found towering over the Piazza della Rotonda, it is called the Pantheon. The original Pantheon was a Roman temple build to honour all the gods during the reign of Augustus Ceasar (27 BC -14 AD), the Ceasar that reigned during the time of the birth of Jesus. The Pantheon we can see today was reconstructed in 126 AD. The ancient Romans loved their gods and any god of any nation for that matter, were worshipped.
Around the Pantheon there were shrines to honour gods. There would be sex shrines to honour the sex gods and various other gods. Worship in Rome thrived.
What is striking about Ancient Rome is that it is vast and expansive. Buildings were big and majestic. It makes you wonder who were more evolved? Who had the better architects? When you enter the Pantheon you experience this grandeur.
But the thing that struck me most about the Pantheon was that this place that was at the centre of pagan worship. This building that was dedicated to all the foreign gods became a church in the 7th century. How on earth did this came to be?
This is a question that I believe each one of us needs to ask and needs to find an answer to.
How is it that a man, from a useless town, in a useless province of the vast Roman empire that stretched thousands of miles, overthrew this empire? How was it possible for a man with no religious or political power in his time to gain a following powerful enough to change Rome? How did Jesus accomplish this if he was killed on a cross in Jerusalem more than 600 years before this place of pagan worship became a church?
I know and I understand that the church has hurt people in the past. And I understand that at this very moment the church might be hurting some people. Maybe you were hurt by the church or by people claiming to be the church, but Jesus? What did He do to you?
This is the final question I want to ask – what did Jesus do?
We started our quest with the question what would Jesus do? I want to rephrase it What did Jesus do?
Jesus said, “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again.” John 10:18.
The well-known John 3:16 says
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
Jesus laid down his life. The cross was proof of His free will, and the cross is payment from him for me and your free will. You see it is only in the cross of Christ that we have free will. It is the cross of Christ that give you the option. Believe and faith is not equal to forced, compulsory or mandatory. As Christ gave his life willingly, we have the same option.
As CS Lewis said – “In the end you will either say to God: ‘Thy will be done’ or He will say to you, ‘Okay, have it your way.’”
God gave you free will. He designed it. He ordained it. He will not take it away from you, but that does not take away your responsibility.
I want to end off with a quote from a song by Hozier, Take me to church
“My lover’s got humour
She’s the giggle at a funeral
Knows everybody’s disapproval
I should’ve worshipped her sooner
If the Heavens ever did speak
She is the last true mouthpiece
Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
A fresh poison each week
‘We were born sick, ‘ you heard them say it
My church offers no absolutes
She tells me ‘worship in the bedroom’
The only heaven I’ll be sent to
Is when I’m alone with you
I was born sick, but I love it
Command me to be well
Amen, Amen, Amen
Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good god, let me give you my life”
The sentiments shared by the artist is one of a church that seeks out sin to injure and set themselves up on moral high ground. And therefore he decides to rather worship his lover. He worships her. He worships sex. Some of us worships money, others work, others adventure, other fun. We are taken to church by our own free will.
Would Jesus force you to go to Church? Would Jesus force you to worship sex? Would Jesus force you to worship money? Jesus will not force you to worship anything, but He knows that there is no such thing as happiness outside himself and until we seek fulfillment in him we will be worshiping like dogs at the shrine of lies.