Saturday, December 22, 2007
Go and He Goes
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Marilyn vos Savant Puzzle
This is the puzzle which came up on a programme hosted by Marilyn vos Savant (purported to have the highest IQ in the world!)
In a game show a contestant is shown three doors. He is told that behind two of the doors there is a goat. Behind the other door there is a car. He must guess the correct door in order to take home the car. After the contestant makes a guess, the host opens one of the other doors to reveal a goat. The contestant must now choose whether to stick with his original choice or to choose the other unopened door.
What is the sensible thing to do?
I'll put the answer in a comment if I get any other comments to this!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The Whale Caller and other books
I always read, but I am enjoying it more with more space to read in. I read 'Are We Yet Alive' by Peter Storey. A South African book that tries to remind South African Methodists of what Wesleyanism is all about. I was inspired by the commitment that John Wesley had to the poor.
I read The Whale Caller by Zakes Mda. What powerful book. But how depressing. Why do 'arty/cultural/African' books have to be depressing? I am glad I am a Christian. I am glad that I understand grace and forgiveness and that there is always hope and that love is worthwhile. But nonetheless a powerful book and I did enjoy it. I think I will rewrite the ending for myself. By the way, it is about a love triangle consisting of the whale caller, a whale called Sharisha and the village drunk (a woman).
I am also reading 'Let's Both Win', a book on marriage by Arnold Mol (another South African book). My husband and I are reading it together, something we haven't done for a long time, and we are enjoying that. It almost doesn't matter what the book says! But so far, so good.
I'm also reading 'Re-Imagine' by Tom Peters. He's a business motivational guru guy. I am finding the book amusing. I tend to have an automatic antipathy to 'hype-masters', but he makes me think.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I struggle with the ideas of speaking with arrogance against speaking with authority. No one sets out to be arrogant. Do they?
As I result I tend sometimes to timidity.
But Jesus spoke with authority. He was sure he was right. Lots of people are sure that they are right. But Jesus knew.
I read somewhere recently someone saying that he hopes that his own actions and thoughts will come as a result of his prayertime with God and not out of a desire to please a congregation.
Me too. But I'd love to have a congregation or community which also looks for God in prayertime and that we can work together to find what God wants.
I can't afford to abandon God's authority in my life for fear of arrogance. Time for lots of prayer!
Friday, December 14, 2007
Church and Community
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Called by a Carpenter
Rob Bell writes in 'Velvet Elvis' how the rabbis of the time were trained and called people to be their disciples. Jesus was known as Rabbi and in all likelihood was trained as such. So his calling men to follow him was a fairly normal event in those days. Although perhaps his choice of disciples was not. I wonder how long Jesus actually did spend learning a carpenter's trade? That has become a sort of Sunday School traditional understanding, rather than a Biblical one. Although in Mark 6 the people do refer to him as 'the carpenter'.
Why did Jesus appear to wait for John to be put in prison before starting his ministry?
Monday, December 10, 2007
Rob Bell - Too much Noise?
What a waste of money! About two minutes of Rob Bell flicking channels on his TV with a short telling of Elijah's still small voice experience. Then the rest of the ten minutes has Bible verses about noise and voices appearing on the screen. I appreciate that he's trying to make the point that we need silence in our lives to hear God well, but R100 for some silence is not useful.
I guess I was hoping for a cool drama or something to illustrate the point. I wonder what's on the other dvds?
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Tempting the Beloved Son
Continuing reading in Mark, I found that Stephen's comment to my previous post on Mark stuck more in my mind than I expected (thanks Stephen!). The one thing he said was that Mark had ordered his material carefully. Now, I have generally seen Mark as a 'bread and butter' gospel, with fewer frills than the others, but I found myself looking for interesting juxtapositions.
I read about Jesus' baptism. "You are my Son, whom I love, with you I am well-pleased." What an awesome encouragement and acknowledgent. Jesus must have felt so good after that. I don't know whether he was prone to doubt or how close he was to the Father while on earth. But, whatever, just then he must have felt all warm and accepted and those good things we humans need.
And then next verse - what a contrast. Off to the desert to be tempted. Mark doesn't elaborate - we know the story. One minute Jesus could have been on such a high, and then the crunch of reality in the human world. Hunger, wild animals, loneliness and Satan.
The same thought I had before, on John the Baptist. We might think we're losing. Stuck in the desert. Wishing for the mountain top experience we had before. Jesus has been there. It happened to him. It's ok for it to happen to us. It's not sin. Or judgement. It's life. And if we're on the mountain top - absorb the love and the strength, because we may need it!
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Suffering for Jesus
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Does participation make disciples?
Having put all of their eggs into the program-driven church basket you can understand their shock when the research revealed that “Increasing levels of participation in these sets of activities does NOT predict whether someone’s becoming more of a disciple of Christ. It does NOT predict whether they love God more or they love people more.”
Friday, November 30, 2007
This evening I have been making advent calendars for my children. They should actually have them in time to open the first door tomorrow morning.
Seeing as I have been doing it every year for the last few years it is not too heavy a task. They each choose a Christmas card which I scan in for the picture and the rest of the template is the same as last year!
And my noble husband cuts all the doors so that they open.
Outside it is raining and sounds like hail too. Two kids at a party. Two at home. One off to be a leader on a Scripture Union camp tomorrow. One has a cricket match. The rest of us want to play tennis. But the weather isn't too good!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Who am I?
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Just when our paths are about to cross, the older man turns to me and say in all seriousness, “I’m telling you–there is no love left in this world.”
“No, no, no!” I said. “That can’t be true. Please don’t say that.”
“Do you know that moment,” the younger guy says, explaining, “when you are at the bottom of everything and you have a little hope left, but you’re not sure if it’s going to last? You’re not sure if there’s really anything there at all?” I nod.
“That–” he says, pointing to the man’s heart “is exactly where my friend’s at right now.”
You really need to read the whole post. She is such a positive lady with such a positive outlook. And she brings healing to brokenness. But I don't know what the source of her spirituality is. I don't think she would like to call it God.
But she just draws out the need that people have for emotional healing. For love. Acceptance. Hope. She challenges me to look more deeply for that which Jesus offers, because he does offer more than world - doesn't he?
Friday, November 23, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
But a while back I read Rom 10:14 Paul arguing, 'How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?'
Seems to me Paul is a bit inconsistent.
But the apparent contradictions in the Bible are what gives it its depth and mystery and the sense of God being somewhat bigger than we are. I like the paradoxes.
But I also like the mystery in 'Jabberwocky' and 'The Hunting of the Snark'. However, these I label 'nonsense'.
It is the realness of God that sets them apart. The Holy Spirit breathing life into the Bible. And I suppose that as I wrestle with contradictions and paradoxes in Scripture I realise that there is consistency. Amazing, actually, for the size of the book and the mixture of human authors. But it's not cut and dried. God is looking for people to engage with him. Cool.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
How do we love?
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I probably put myself at a disadvantage in many ways by insisting on a pretty strict intellectual consistency. Many people are happy to say in one breath, 'God is totally in control' and in the next, 'we have free will.' They don't easily go together - without a whole lot of buts.
I tend to paint things very much in black and white and things can become so clear when I realise that there are more colours! Yes, God does cause suffering. But not all suffering (speaking on a kind of close to earth level, not ultimate responsibility theologically!). He can cause me to grow by allowing people who are close to me, and Christians, to cause me pain - I've not been able to understand how Satan could use Christians to hurt me. But he doesn't send the drunken driver to kill a child. That is part of the fallen world - and where we play our part in the battle between good and evil which does exist.
So sometimes it is God and sometimes it is Satan. If it is from God, grow and learn. If it is from Satan defend, fight, learn. And discern.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
I am competitive, even if I try to control it. It's in me. What else? My life feels plotted and planned for the next however many months and I must just walk following my nose. But I must seek to live in that. I look for God's leading, but there is no way to turn and no sense of his voice. I must look for my challenges inside of myself. To be more content. To build better relationships with those I already know. To be more sensitive, yet not destroyed by criticism. I should probably study next year, to provide a stretch . . . but I don't know.
This sounds despairing and discouraged and perhaps I am. But really I am expressing in my blog that which I cannot express elsewhere. This morning I spent about twenty minutes playing someone else's guitar in the church all by myself and singing the songs planned for Sunday morning. I felt great afterwards and no doubt caused the office folk to look at me sideways as I crossed the quadrangle singing 'Jesus I decide to live a life that shouts your fame'. And that joy is just as real as the frustration and inadequacy I also feel!
God is good. I know he has a purpose for me and I will trust him.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
One of the blogs I read is 'Real Live Preacher' by Gordon Atkinson. He has been doing training in mission outreach where they are taught to install water purification systems. You can read his experience here. I was curious about these systems because there is obviously big potential for their use in Africa. The mission organisation is Edge Outreach and I trekked along to their web page. If you dig around you can find some of the stories they tell. One is about a tribal king in one area who refused to allow the mission team to install a system. This organisation is very conscious of the need for the locals to buy in and are not into forcing anything on anybody. But they asked this king why he would not allow it - given that so many small children die from diahroea every year. The king's reply was that babies have always died and the people will not be angry with him for that. However, if there is not enough food, the people will be angry with him. The implication being that if the babies lived he would have a problem. Our western outlook is horrified about this approach, but it does raise real ethical issues.
One's thoughts can go in so many directions after hearing this story. But what worries me most is my feeling of paralysis. If solving one problem simply causes other problems, what can we do? Maybe we should not install purification systems . . . Loving our neighbour is not really that simple!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Central Methodist Mission Jhb
The picture is apparently of refugees sleeping in the foyer at Central. I didn't see crowds of people there, but I did hear about them.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Good Samaritan - Different Angle
The lawyer asked who his neighbor was, and the Lord Jesus responded by asking who was the neighbor of the man who fell into the hands of the robbers. In other words, the lawyer was the one who had fallen into the hands of the robbers. The One who showed mercy to him was his neighbor. The neighbor does not refer to any man; it refers to the Savior. The Lord showed the lawyer that the neighbor is the Lord Himself. He said, "Go and do likewise." This means that the lawyer should do his best to love that Samaritan. Many people have turned this parable around. They think that the Lord wants them to be the Samaritan. They do not realize that they cannot go to the cross to forgive sins, and they cannot be lifted up to bring down the Holy Spirit. Only He has the wine and the oil. Only He has the beast, the inn, and the denarii. We are not the Samaritan. It would be totally wrong to ask the man who fell into the hands of the robbers to be the Samaritan. The neighbor whom the Lord referred to was the Samaritan. This means that the Lord came to be our Neighbor; He came to save us, to provide us with the beast, the wine, which signifies the life, the inn, which signifies the church, and the denarii, which signify the gifts and grace. These things He gives until He returns. When the Lord tells us to love the Samaritan, He is telling us to love Him.
This parable has always bothered me, because it is not clear who Jesus is asking us to be in the parable. It is nearly always interpreted to mean that we have to be the Samaritan. I read this interpretation from Watchman Nee and I almost need it to be right. God has the wine, the oil, the beast, the inn and the denarii. We cannot be God. We don't need to be God. He is the provider of riches, of relief, of salvation. Yes Lord, you be God. But please let me help where I can. Give me work to do for your kingdom. And let me be content to do the work you give me.
Monday, October 01, 2007
I spent Thursday with a generally uneasy feeling. I couldn't figure out was wrong with me, until it struck me that filling in these forms was making things feel uncomfortably close. There is so much that I am scared of. Being out of control. Having to do things for which I can't really understand the purpose. Submitting. Money and cost of living.
Some of this stuff I know I need to learn. Some I'll only realise I need to know when I know it. And some of it is going to drive me crazy.
But I don't think I have any choice any more. So let it do its worst!
At least as it comes closer I can also see further and as I see the potential for a future beyond probation it is easier to be optimistic. God-willing I will see the other side!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
The Genesis group has been talking about creation. I have no problem with integrating the Bible and Science - I see them both as God revealing himself to us. But the question was asked, "Why did God create the dinosaurs?" That is an interesting one. Presumably not just to create a confusing puzzle and make people question the biblical account of creation.
The best answer I can think of is that they were needed to do something to assist in the process of forming the earth to be a place fit for human habitation.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Real Caution Replaces Road Signs
Friday, September 07, 2007
"One of the less obvious ways that our artistic utilitarianism shows itself is the impulse to reduce art to propositions about art. This is the only way that many people know how to interact with art—or at least the only way they trust. If we can say what a story means, for instance, and we've summed up this meaning in a statement about truth that we agree with, then we think it's a good story—good art. And if a story resists summary or does not distill into a statement we believe, then we have no use for it—it's bad art." Click here for the whole article.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Peace and Activism
But here are two links to what I'd really like to say. Perhaps to where I'd really like to be. I wish more people read my blog so that I could point them there. They are peaceful, refreshing bits of writing. David (who is in Pietermaritzburg) and Denise who is in the far away USA.
Monday, August 27, 2007
The War of Jenkin's Ear
I read an unexpectedly interesting book this weekend. My son has just turned 11 and had a very simple request for presents. 'Books please'. That suited everyone. I bought him a book by Michael Morpurgo (The War of Jenkin's Ear), chosen because I enjoy him as an author. I had no idea what was in the book.
I picked it up, after all the kids had read it, and discovered that it was about Jesus. In a post-modern (I think it's post-modern, others might disagree) and unexpected setting. A kid turns up at school claiming to be the reincarnation of Jesus. Ok, from then on I read the book with suspicion, but I wish I had trusted the author. The message is thought-provoking. The suspicion produced in me, is just the suspicion that must have been produced by Jesus when he turned up in Israel. Michael Morpurgo portrays it so well. Definately worth reading - even by adults!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
What does it really take?
Friday, August 17, 2007
God is Good
I've been feeling odd the last few days. Almost burnt out, although I am doing NOTHING. But I think stress is found in unexpected places. The worst is when I can't dream or vision. Think creatively about things. And then I start doubting myself badly.
But God is good. Although I've struggled to feel connected with him he has encouraged me. I've been missing any sort of sport for the last four weeks, but played tennis twice and hockey once in the last few days. I even won. Good thing they're both team sports because I am usually the weakest link. Then I had a good Bible Study - those people always lift me even when I'm totally flat. And then while I 'm telling myself that I just need to be patient and trust God (which is so difficult) my sense of vision comes back and I can start to breathe again. And today I stood looking at the quiet, peaceful grounds of our church and I felt I renewed sense of conviction that this is the sort of place I ought to be. And . . . I could carry on.
In a way its seems so mundane. But I must not allow it to seem insignificant. God has blessed me and I don't deserve it. I didn't earn it. It's just who God is. He understands me and I am grateful.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Then I heard the next morning that someone had died. She was a young woman in a congregation I used to 'pastor' in an informal settlement. I didn't know her very well. But her baby was born in the time that I was part of the community. Mpakiseng. The church congregation took me to go and visit Rebecca and her baby in the tiny one room place where she stayed. We lit candles and prayed for the baby. She was introduced to me as Anastasia. Named after the pop singer, but meaning Resurrection. After that Rebecca started coming to church regularly. She really wanted to be part of the church women's group (Manyano) but could not as she was not married to the father of her baby. The baby came to church with her and my (then) twelve year old daughter looked after her in the 'Sunday School'. For a while they were missing. The baby was ill with staying in a the hot, tin-roofed, one-room home. They had to stay with family until the baby was better. I went back to visit about a year ago and Mpakiseng had grown to be a little child. But at 6.30 on Monday evening Rebecca died - of 'flu. And, really, that is just as tragic as the bridge collapsing. And it hurts.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
I wonder if blogging could ever get to be the same?
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The Romance of Brokenness
Monday, July 09, 2007
Friday, July 06, 2007
I lead a Bible Study at the church on Thursday mornings. It is more of a fellowship group than a Bible Study although we do sometimes talk some serious stuff. The average age of the group members is about 75!
When I took over the group about 18 months ago everyone warned me - these people don't talk, ever. You have to do it all. That was a challenge to me! Now they talk plenty. One old man, between 85 and 90, has particularly relished the opportunity to share about himself. He had a very painful childhood, although he sees it in a wonderfully positive perspective. Yesterday, when asked about brothers and sisters, he shyly muttered that 'one bastard was enough'.
In those days 80-odd years ago an illegitimate child was a big embarrassment and this poor man had to take the pain and the shame. And it is great that he is able to be freed from it and open up to people in the church about it.
My automatic reaction is how could the church have caused so much pain in the past? But because that is such a 'politically correct' reaction I question it again. Since when have we made the pursuit of a pain-free existence supreme? Why do we say pain is wrong?
We are in danger of making peace of mind and contentment God. If Jesus had pursued a pain-free life we would never have had the cross. If he asked us to pursue a pain-free existence we would never have sacrificial living. Of course, that is different from causing pain to others.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Who am I?
I am not really learned enough to interact on the topic, but here are a few thoughts that popped up.
The idea of identity as patterns, not particles is really cool. We can see in ourselves the desire to maintain or at least control the change in patterns. So if we lose our hearing, we look for an implant, to preserve the pattern. Because if I am deaf I am changed. But an implant while changing the particles retains the pattern. If we are criticised we are challenged as we become unsure of the stability of the pattern and we react to preserve it.
The question of 'who is David' if a model is created which models David's subjective experience is also interesting. If two beings have the same memories, feelings and general subjective experience what separates them? If one sees existence as passive (which Dion later says we should not), then probably nothing separates them. But existence is not passive. Time passes and change happens. So we can ask will David and the model react to the passing of time in the same way? They will only do that if we program the model to repond in the way that we anticipate David responding. So the one that is not David is the one that requires programming. This does make it quite simplistic! But the alternative is that the model is in every way identical to David and includes 'humanness', in which case there can be no distinction. Yes? No?
Lastly, the thought of hierarchical holons as a metaphor? for understanding consciousness is a bit disconcerting in an essentially post-modern discussion. Hierarchies are just 'so modern'. I think when it gets to nested hierarchies we are better off, although nested might not be the right word if we are really talking overlapping hierarchies. But it all resolves itself more happily with Dion's description of intersubjectivity - more like a multidimensional spider's web than tiered levels.
I like the richness of the dimensions defining identity. Individual/community subjective/objective. All cool. It also allows for my identity to be described by the fact that I shun community - or embrace it whole-heartedly.
Ok, enough nonsense. This at least shows I can also use big words!
God's Training Wheels
Monday, June 25, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Strikes and all
The strike has had a varied impact. Two things I heard on Friday. My daughter had been selected for the District hockey team. Not too sure what a District team is. It replaces provincial, but covers a smaller area, apparently allowing more kids to participate. Bad news- the big district tournament has been cancelled due to the strike. I imagine the other districts were not able to get their team together. One very disappointed 13 year old.
The other thing was an unemployed member of our church came by. His grandmother living in rural Limpopo has died. Apparently she went to get her monthly medication, but the people who normally make it available were not there because of the strike. As a result? she passed away. And now this man's father is also ill. He is going up to do his best to get his father private medical care.
This somehow just illustrates the disparity between us and them. What hurts? What means disapointment? And I pretty much just feel helpless - as I guess most of us do about the strike.