Browse Month: February 2015

When Dreams Become a Reality – 02/23/15

Ndola-20150219-00605 copyWhen dreams become a reality…

For you, the Chinese new year may have little significance. For me, this year’s Chinese new year will always be remembered as the day a dream became reality.

Two and a half years ago, three men, now known as the three amigo’s, sat outside a pizza parlour at Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, discussing the number of Chinese living and working on the Continent of Africa. The African amigo shared his discontent with the fact that there were so many Chinese outside the door of his church who have never heard the story of amazing grace in their own language. A passion ignited in our hearts that night, a passion that did not fade with time, but became an ever-increasing burden to reach out to the Chinese population in Africa.

I have heard it said that “vision is a picture of a preferred future”. As a dear pastor friend of mine says, “vision is the process of getting from here to there”. In my thirty-four years of ministry, I have seen these definitions of vision unfold in multiple forms, but perhaps never more powerfully than I have seen in the last two and a half years.

No one who has ever been involved in painting a picture of a preferred future, said it would be easy. What began as a conversation amongst three men at Victoria Falls has taken us on a journey to China and back, hours (perhaps hundreds of hours) of Skype and phone conversations, as well as endless emails and administrative details.

However, hundreds of emails culminated in the one all important email I received last Thursday, on the Chinese new year 2015. The email, with attached pictures, confirmed that our family from China had just arrived on African soil. The pictures in this blog, which you are the first to see, are a reminder that vision is truly a picture of a preferred future!Ndola-20150219-00604

Ndola-20150219-00603Due to the sensitivities of the subject, I cannot divulge all of the details, but this family whom the three amigos met in China has left their homeland to begin a new life in Africa. They will help us establish our first Chinese cultural center tea room, a meeting place for the Chinese who live and work on African soil.

What started out as a dream conversation over pizza and ice cream in 2012, has become a reality on the Chinese new year 2015! There are no words to describe the beauty of a picture that paints a preferred future!

Until next Monday…

Don

www.rtc21.org

P.S. Due to the sensitivities of this blog, please do no post on any social media.

Shaving Cream In My Hand 02/16/15

k2-_95cafd77-7ebe-486a-868e-4f9d1fb5c292.v1Shaving cream in my hand…

This morning, like most mornings, I stood in front of the mirror, squirted shaving cream in the palm of my hand, lathered my face, and prepared for the razor to have fellowship with my skin.

The shaving cream is no ordinary cream. The particular brand I like is available in Canada, but not here in South Africa. As a result, I always use it sparingly in an attempt to make it last until I can return to Canada to buy more.

During our most recent trip to Canada, I bought an abundance of shaving cream to bring back to South Africa. MJ says I could open my own store because I brought so much back.

Shaving cream in my hand this morning got me thinking of the blessings and dangers of abundance. I realised I no longer need to use the shaving cream sparingly as I have been blessed with an abundance of cans in the cupboard. So why not lavish the lather on my face?

Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking at our home church here in Pretoria. Being Valentine’s weekend, I prepared a message called “Lavish Love” and talked about the love of our Heavenly Father that He poured out upon His creation with great pleasure and abundance. In the midst of the message I referred to the material and spiritual blessings that God delights to profuse upon us.

One of the verses I quoted came from Deuteronomy 8. “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you…Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied…then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God…You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me’.”

One of the dangers of abundance is forgetfulness. When abundance arrives on our doorstep, we tend to forget the Author of abundance. We forget to praise Him for the good He has given us. Our access to abundance has the potential of elevating our pride, and elevated pride can lead to the abuse of abundance. Some of the saddest words in the Bible may very well be my power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.

I choose to believe that God’s abundance is our opportunity to bless others. Rather than lavishing my face with lather because of the abundance of shaving cream now available to me, what if I continue to use it sparingly, causing the the product on my shelf to last longer? I now have greater resources to use on other things, including those who are in need more than me.

We hold God given abilities in our hands as a means of producing abundant wealth. Don’t waste abundance on yourself, lavish it on others!

Until next time…shaving-585_10238a

Don
www.rtc21.org

The Irresistible Jesus – 02/9/15

StmSteepleWorkThe Irresistible Jesus

Last Saturday afternoon, I read this headline article on churchleaders.com, Andy Stanley: The church is too ‘resistible’, needs rebranding.

“In the first message of a new series this past Sunday, February 1, megachurch pastor Andy Stanley told the congregation at North Point Community Church that the Christian church at large has become “unnecessarily resistible” to newcomers, its stubborn ‘temple model’ needing a rebrand. Stanley began the sermon by praising the changes made to Christian churches in the recent past: Steeples, choirs and suits are a thing of the past, and the church is much more ‘accessible for people who weren’t into the church thing’”.

To read the full article and subsequent comments on social media, go to http://www.churchleaders.com/daily-buzz/247913-andy-stanley-church-resistible-needs-rebranding.html.

A few hours later, I drove to the University of Pretoria to speak to a group of about fifty Chi Alpha students. With the article fresh on my mind, I asked the students about their view of the church.

The following is a sample of some of their comments:

The church has become about “marketing” Jesus
The church manipulates people into a relationship with Jesus
The church has secularised Jesus (making Him fit into the world’s way of thinking)
The church seems unwilling to include the next generation
The church has become about tradition and title (position and power)
The church is about competition – whose church is the biggest and why you should come to our church
The church is good at getting people saved but fails when it comes to discipleship

Contrary to what some might be thinking, this was not a generational gripe session, these students genuinely appreciated that someone was willing to listen. My willingness to ask the question and listen to the responses that followed, ignited for me a weekend of late night thinking and writing. What made Jesus “irresistible” in the Bible?

Perhaps we have concentrated so much on marketing the church, that we have diminished the irresistibility of the Head of the church! As a matter of fact, maybe our emphasis on tradition and title, (position and power) has led people to a dilution of the person of Jesus and the allusion of His ineffectiveness in our day to day life.

Today’s musing has more questions than answers. I am just at the beginning of this journey and am not yet ready to dismantle church steeples. However, if after revisiting the writers of the New Testament to see what made Jesus so irresistible in His day, I discover that I have done anything to make Him resistible, I am prepared to tear it down.

I feel a series coming on: “The Irresistible Jesus”.

Until next time…

Don

www.rtc21.org


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