Archive for May, 2009

Base Church in Action

Posted in Apostolic, Reflections on May 25th, 2009 by phil – Be the first to comment

When we read through the New Testament and particularly the book of Acts we see the formation of Base Churches, which have the resources and leadership and capacity to advance the kingdom of God through spreading the gospel, raising up leaders, supporting other churches etc.

Over the last week we have had the privilege of advancing the kingdom in these ways:

  • Nick and Katie took a team to be with New Covenant Church Nelspruit where they ministered for the weekend. From leadership meetings, to business breakfasts to Sunday services - supporting and ministering to the local church.
  • Pascal left with the YOYL team for Botswana where they will participate in an outreach and then a leadership training time for the local Botswana churches.
  • Maude took a team into Tshelimnyama where they ministered to a number of orphans and also their “gogo’s” who are the primary care givers and often quite elderly.
  • We have a lady with us from Holland who has been hosted in VFC while she gets to know us a bit and explores opportunities to work together into rural African contexts in the future.
  • Francois takes a team to Mozambique this Thursday where they will minister into some of the local churches where we have built up relationship over many years.
  • In the last week, we have also done training internal to our local church (VFC) for new home group leaders and also eldership training.

This is the incredible privilege of what God has given us as a local church. It is a great joy and honour and I believe there is even more in store for us as we follow the ‘winds of the Spirit’ and remain faithful in what we have been called to.

An Essay

Posted in Personal Devotions, Reflections on May 18th, 2009 by phil – Be the first to comment

In this blog, I have attached a short essay about a man who has got stuck. He is frustrated with life in general and struggling to find his way through in God. I trust this story will be helpful to some who have started well, but have lost their momentum along the way.

From Frustration to Freedom

Frustrated! That’s how he felt as he opened his eyes in the morning. It was a feeling that never left him these days, an inner sense of restlessness and hopelessness. He could feel the blanket of depression settle on his shoulders as he showered and dressed and got ready for the day. ‘Here we go again,’ he thought to himself.

On the one hand he had everything he had ever dreamed of: a wife, a family, a good job, a house. He was a leader in the church – respected and valued by the team of which he was a part. What he had hoped for as a younger man, he had attained and yet he had never felt as unfulfilled as he did now. Instead of the feeling of deep emotional fulfilment he had expected would grow during this phase of his life, he only felt the emptiness of routine and repetition. Every day the same – somehow his life was counting and yet somehow it seemed so insignificant and he wondered what it would take for him to feel alive again.

No-one else could see his pain. Though at times it seemed like he was going to burst with the swells of frustration, somehow they were invisible to those around him. In contrast he was a pillar of strength to others. So many relied on him at some point or another to be a source of strength or even a beacon for them to get their bearings from. It seemed effortless for him to understand the journey of another and to speak into the heart of where they were at. He could do this for others, yet he was at sea in his own journey. He had lost his own moorings. He questioned even the basic truths of who he was and why he was here. Somehow deep inside he knew there had to be more, but what that was he felt helpless to discover and even more helpless to bring it to pass.

He had tried talking to his wife about it, but he could see that it had made her anxious. He could understand why – they were happy. They had worked hard to build their lives and now they had everything they wanted. She was afraid of where his journey would lead. She was afraid his frustration would lead to rash decisions – changing jobs or relocating to a different city. It would all be done in the name of God’s leading but actually just driven out of an inner emotional turmoil and instability. Anyway, she didn’t understand why he felt this way and the truth was he couldn’t even explain it himself. This was a journey he was going to have to walk alone.

As he drove into work that day, he contemplated for the thousandth time, whether this was a crisis to do with his career. Was it Black Economic Empowerment that was driving his inner world? He could argue that he had been overlooked recently for a key promotion opportunity in favour of a young black professional. But he knew that he would be pushing the boundaries of truth if he claimed that he had hit a ceiling in his career for that reason. His employer had frequently recognised his contribution and he was being recompensed at a level beyond many of his peers. It was not that simple. Even when he contemplated leaving his fixed employment to pursue a business venture, he had to admit that these dreams simply did not fill the void he was feeling. For sure, there was an appeal to being his own boss and a desire for financial freedom that a business venture could bring. But these dreams did not being about a sense of anticipation and peace that could overcome his frustration. No matter how big those dreams became they could not quell the inner storm.

He knew it was unthinkable, but lately he had even begun to wonder if his frustration was rooted in his marriage relationship. After 20 years of marriage there were aspects of their relationship which were dry and lacked life. Everything was ok but nothing was exceptional. Instead of an increasing sense of enjoyment and colour in their marriage they had settled for a mundane sense of friendship and peace that resembled the overcast grey clouds on a typical winter’s day. It wasn’t stormy, but it certainly lacked the colour and vibrancy of spring. He knew all the theory. He knew that if his marriage lacked anything at all, the responsibility lay on him to restore it. He was the head of the home. God had placed the responsibility of family leadership on him. Yet as much as he loved God and his wife he lacked the motivation or will to do anything about it. Was this the problem after all, or was this grey, dull reality of marriage just a symptom of the deeper problem in his heart?

He had not initially brought his heart to God in prayer – more out of an expectation that he would just snap out of it than out of a deliberate decision. But by now he was regularly pouring out his heart to God in prayer. Sometimes he would pace up and down the driveway expressing his deep frustration and his inability to diagnose why he felt the way he did. Other times he would break out in tongues, hoping that he was praying inspired by the Spirit of God but even as he was praying there were doubts lingering about the reality of what he was doing. Last night he had had a more lucid prayer time than most. He really felt that he had connected with God and almost had a sense that his prayer had been heard. He was hoping against hope that something would change but had woken up disappointed that he felt exactly the same.

As he walked through the office doors and headed down the passage to his workstation, he heard a familiar voice behind him calling his name. It was his boss, and he had a perplexed expression on his face as he asked. “Where are you going?”

It was as though he had been punched in the solar plexus as the question reverberated around his inner world. The question was only meant to remind him of a meeting that was happening first thing in the board room but instead it had cut to the heart of why he was feeling so much in turmoil. The truth was that he didn’t know where he was going.

In a moment it suddenly all became so clear. Somewhere along the journey he had got stuck He had lost the dream. The reason he was so frustrated was that he had nothing to look forward to. Biblical images began flooding through his mind as the Spirit impressed home to him the things he needed to receive and understand:

The Israelites waiting for revelation from Moses who took so long to come down the mountain. Eventually they took matter into their own hands, made an idol for a god and indulged in the ultimate self gratification. All because they had no revelation – they weren’t prepared to wait for instruction on where to go and what to do!

The Jerusalem church growing and growing and yet never getting out into the neighbouring regions to spread the word about Jesus until eventually persecution drove them into those regions and they found the dream again.

He was reminded of the proverb that says “Without prophetic vision the people cast off restraint…” That is exactly what had happened to him. He had lost a sense of God’s prophetic call on his life and his inner world had deteriorated into chaos. There was no sense of order and peace. He excused himself from the meeting, closed his office door and wept. He was so grateful to God for rescuing him from the prison – and now let the journey begin.

Vision

Posted in Reflections on May 4th, 2009 by phil – Be the first to comment

One of the plagues of modern life is the busyness and the routine that so easily consumes us. It is possible to pour out all your energy and personal resources for the primary purpose of just keeping your head above water and maintaining the life that you already have. And yet we know that there is much more to life than survival. One of the reasons that we get into a rut is a lack of vision for anything different. The world around us is living in a never ending cycle and we can easily get pressed into that mold. Before we know it we have lost our expectation or faith for anything different.

Pro 29:18  Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law. 

I don’t know if you have ever experienced the cycle of criticism and frustration that thrives in a heart that has no dream. When we have nothing to look forward to, we view everything through the lens of how it effects us. When we have a dream we are aspiring to, we view everything through the lens of personal fulfilment and purpose. Vision brings order to our hearts.
If you are in a place of frustration or caught in a cycle that seems to never move forward, ask God to rekindle the dream. Remind yourself of your first love and all the aspirations you had to be used in the kingdom of God. Dust off some old prophecies and hold them up to God again in prayer. Ask God to change your lens and renew your faith for the advancement of his kingdom in the world through your life in this generation.