God's Word for today

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Putting the whole Zuma "Spear" art saga into perspective..

41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’  44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Matthew 25: 41-45 (Today's New International Version)

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Preaching "from the heart"

The last couple of weeks I've been doing a preaching series around the Lenten journey, based on John van de Laar's excellent resource, Living in the Promised Land.  (This book can be purchased in e-book form from John's website, http://www.sacredise.com/).  It has been a time of blessing and challenge both for me and for our congregation at Camperdown.

However, I was challenged this morning by one of our Local Preachers, who came to me this morning and commended me for "preaching from the heart".  She noted that one can "immediately tell the difference" when I am preaching from the heart; the implication is that I've been guilty of simply "following the series" on occasion.

This hit me with a bit of a jolt, but also highlights the danger of being too "formulaic" with one's preaching.  Sermon series (especially those following the lectionary) are good disciplines and can challenge one to explore passages of Scripture that one may otherwise be inclined to want to avoid, but one should never substitute process for passion.  And in hindsight, what with the Annual General Meeting and other meetings the previous week, I arrived at church feeling tired, stressed, and pressurised - and ended up simply going through the motions.

Not good.

Today's message was around taking up one's cross and following Jesus.  Invariably, whenever I prech, I preach to myself as much as to my congregation.  This morning's message was one that I really need to take on board, especially in times of great pressure.  I need to give of my best - God expects this, and my congregation deserves it.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Okay ... here comes the lame excuse for not blogging for some time ...

There have been times in the past when I have not been able to blog for some time, but this hiatus has been the longest one since the inception of the blog.

"So what is the lame excuse this time?" you may ask.  Well, lots has happened - we've finished up at the seminary, moved house, and taken up a post as the minister of the Camperdown Methodist Church.  Camperdown is a piece of heaven nestled in the picturesque Valley of 1000 Hills, about 25km south-east of Pietermaritzburg.  I always tease my colleagues that while they preach about heaven, I actually live there!  This may be an exaggeration of sorts, but this really is a gorgeous place to live in - the views are simply stunning.

As for the church itself, our congregation comprises about 55-60 regular worshippers on a Sunday, spread over two services.  The morning service (09h00) is a mixture of contemporary and traditional, while the evening service (17h30) is somewhat unstructured, with time spent in prayer, worship, reflection, and sharing.

Ministry on Circuit has its challenges, of course - while there is much that seminary has taught me, there is also much that seminary didn't teach me - like how to mend leaking toilets in the manse, drive on roads that will provide good preparation for the Dakar Rally, harvest butternut and various other vegetables, repair computers, and be a human resources specialist.  Yet there are also many joys - the warm welcome received from the people, the incredible goodwill from the leaders, the sense of being part of people's growth in Christ - in essence, the feeling of well-being that comes from knowing that I can finally do what God has called me to do.  Certainly I'll need to draw on this joy in the months ahead; our Society and Circuit does indeed have many challenge.

Meanwhile, James has started his high school career at that most venerable of institutions, Maritzburg College.  Ranked in the "Top 5" of schools in South Africa, it is steeed in tradition and has a proud sporting and academic heritage.  It was the academic record that attracted us - last year the school has a 100% matric pass rate, with 91% of those being university entrance passes.  And I'm glad to say that James has taken to College like a duck to water - he is thoroughly enjoying the experience.

As for the lame excuse for not blogging for a while?  I've been working on getting our church website up and running, which includes some basic information about the church, links to resopurces, my weekly sermons, and a daily reflection based on a one-year Bible reading plan.  Why not pop over to www.campermethchurch-za.blogspot.com and have a squizz?