Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mr & Mrs Fish

You may have noticed that I have been a little scarce of late.  Well…

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I had a good excuse, I promise.

On 5 November 2011, I married the fabulous Dori.  It was a beautiful service, and Dori and I were able to make it exactly what we wanted, and exactly what reflected who we both were, and who we were as a couple.

We had a reading from Psalm 139:1-18, which is not your usual wedding reading.  However it tied in beautifully with our chosen song, which was In Christ Alone

(Love that song.)

1 (122)We both realise that this union would not have been possible without God’s provision, and so for us it was important to make sure we sought His blessing on the day, and committed to putting Him as the head of our lives for the rest of our lives together.

Plus we really had an AWESOME time!!!

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us:  Both before we found one another, and since.  Thank you to everyone for the congratulations messages, and all your thoughts and prayers.  As a thank-you gift I will be posting a series soon called “I have a wife and…” which examines the similarities between our relationship with our spouse and our relationship with God.

Stay tuned… the FISH is back in town.

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(All pictures are from the actual wedding.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How I hooked a fish-wife


True love finds you in the strangest places, and sometimes it even finds you where and when you were not looking.

In less than a month I am going to marry my true love, the fabulous  Dori.  The woman I was destined to spend the rest of my life with.  The person who is perfect for me in every way.  The person I never even knew existed 10 months ago.

How does that even happen????

In our case, I think GOD got tired of us both getting our acts together, so he had to try for a little bit of divine intervention.  On 7 January 2011, we met on a blind date.  Or, as I like to call it, a “double-blind date”.  Because not only was it a blind date for us, but the people who set us up… did not know me either.

2006-11-20-my-ideal-first-date-is-something-harmonicLet me make this clear.  Dori and I are so compatible it is scary.  We complement each other in every important way, and already I can not imagine living my life without her in it.  We could not have been more perfectly suited for each other… but the people who set us up did not know this.  Only one of them had ever even seen me in real life. (I think.)

Dori has a friend called Yenta, who made it her mission in life to find Dori a boyfriend in 2011.  So she asked around to see if anyone knew any eligible bachelors. One of the people she spoke to had a friend who knew me,  and apparently I had come up in conversation at some point.  I think the person may have visited my church with our mutual friend, and may have heard me preach, or just seen me at church, but we had never met.  So said person said, “Sharkbait, he’s single I think.”

So my name just popped into a total stranger’s head one day when trying to think of people to fix Dori up with.  No idea why, or whether I was even the right sort of person.  Yenta had no clue who I was, and her friend only knew me by reputation.

mc_hammer_slideAnd yet… when we both eventually succumbed to some intense pressure to meet for coffee… things went very well.

Date one.  Coffee.  Nearly three hours.
Date two.  Coffee again.  Four hours. 
And so on…


There is no way we could have found each other on our own.  It constantly amazes me that with our similar interests and values, we had no mutual friends and did not move in similar circles.  Yet once we found each other it was as if we had known each other our whole lives, as if our whole life had been waiting for that other person.

GOD might have infinite patience, but I think even he got tired of waiting for us to find each other, so he gave things a bit of a nudge.

And the rest is history. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Remember, remember…


Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

For those of you not born in a British colony, 5 November might mean nothing.  (Unless of course you watched V for Vendetta.)

But on that day this year, something quite memorable will happen.  At approximately 1PM (local time) I will be marrying the fabulous Dori. 

And no, we will not be serving fish at the wedding. 

port elizabeth photographerIt really is quite exciting, and will be the end of an interesting journey that has led us both to where we are today.
But also the start of an even more exciting and interesting one, methinks.

Tomorrow I will be telling you a little more about how we met, but in the meantime, just enjoy the picture above.  Yes, that really is both of us.  Don’t we just have the most talented Wedding Photographer in the world?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Must. Have. Zombie. Book.


I don’t watch a lot of zombie movies.  I don’t read a lot of zombie books.
I do have a Zombie Escape Plan, but doesn’t everyone?

_140_245_Book.499.cover Yet when I saw the latest book offering from Thomas Nelson Publishing, I had to request a review copy.

I strongly suspect that the book will turn out to be the sort of soppy, thinly-disguised allegory that will make C.S. Lewis turn over in his grave, and that I will be annoyed through most of the book at how they stretch to compare our sinful nature to the un-dead.


So why did I request it?

Because how can I not have a book in the Theology section of my book case called The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook?

Enough said.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What fish think about.

After the success of my previous post, What fish believe, I thought it would be appropriate to give a small insight into what goes on in my head.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

They say that going to Church doesn't make you a christian, any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car.

Well, that might be true, but staying out of the garage makes a car rusty and slow. And first it stops working like a car, and eventually it doesn't even look like a car.

Sitting in a garage might not make you a car, but if you are a car... then it is where you belong.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Redeeming Love – Francine Rivers

I am not in the habit of crying over books.  I am a big boy.

But this one did inspire a bit of moisture when I read it.  Just a little bit.

Redeeming_LoveRedeeming Love by Francine Rivers is an awesome book.  It is a re-telling of the story of Hosea, which in turn is an allegory for the Redeeming Love shown by God in reaching out to his church.  Farmer Michael Hosea hears the voice of God telling him to take a wife.  (As did Hosea the prophet)  In both instances they are told to take an unfaithful prostitute as their wife.  Michael hears and obeys, however his chosen wife, the prostitute known only as Angel, is less convinced of his intentions.  So begins a long journey of discovery for both of them.

It is beautiful, and beautifully written.  I many have teared up a little on occasion.

I remember reading an interview with Francine Rivers about how her publishers tried to get her to publish this book under a pseudonym.  It was her first book published after becoming a Christian, and they were afraid of it being tainted by association with her secular romances.  (Which were a little more… explicit.)

She said however that the story was about redemption, and the power of a changed life, and so it was published as the first of many Christian novels under her name, a testimony to how her writing had been redeemed as she had been.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dangerous Fruit?

I was driving home late last night, at about midnight.  As is my custom, I was talking to myself.  (Yes, I am weird like that.)

fruit-of-the-spirit2I was busy thinking about the Fruit of the Spirit, because I am planning a lesson series on it in my small group.  Stay tuned, I might post some of it here if you are good.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law – Galatians 5:22-24

As I was driving, I was considering how one goes about exhibiting and growing the fruit in your own life.  I was thinking about what love really means, and goodness, and kindness. 

Then as I drove down a dark and abandoned road, I saw someone in a bakkie coming around the corner with their hazard lights on. (You would probably know a bakkie as a pick-up truck or utility vehicle.)

The driver pulled off to the side of the road, and stopped their vehicle.  It appeared that they were having difficulty. 

I suppose I should have pulled over to see whether they needed help.  But it was a dark and uninhabited area, and it was not safe.  My country is riddled with crime, and it is one of the first things you learn… never get our of your car at night.  Especially if you are alone.

So I slowed down, but I could not see if the driver was in trouble or not, so I drove on.  Sometimes hijackers and robbers use “break-downs” as decoys to lure people in.  So I carried on home.

It got me thinking though.  The loving, kind and good thing would be to stop and help someone in need.  Sort of like the Good Samaritan in the story.  But what about when it is dangerous to you?  I don’t mind risking my life to help someone, but deliberately doing something stupid when it might be a trap is another thing.

Isn’t it?

What are we supposed to do as Christians?  What Would Jesus Do?
Is it goodness to stop for every person, or just stupidity?

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Simple Joy


I was reminded recently of a story that I read about a printer’s daughter discovering the love of God.

She found a scrap of paper on the floor of her father’s factory. 
The scrap had half of a verse printed on it.

For God so loved the world, that he gave…”

That was all.  She was overcome with joy and thanksgiving.  No one had ever told her about Jesus, and her perception of God was someone to be feared.  When she showed the piece of paper to her Mother, she was asked, “What did he give?”

“I do not know,” she replied.  “But if He loved us enough to give us anything, we should not be afraid of Him.”

Monday, August 15, 2011

It’s Not about Me – Max Lucado


Pop culture and psychobabble tell us to make ourselves the center of the universe in order to be happy. Churches have communicated the false idea that God exists to give us all that we selfishly want. In this book, Max Lucado reminds us that it's not about us, it's all about God. It is through this shift in thinking that we can truly live an unburdened, happy life.

This book, as with most of the Max Lucado books I have read, was good solid theology.  The man really knows his stuff.  It is only about 150 pages long, and each chapter is short enough to read quickly and spend some time digesting.

Admittedly not a lot of what he says is original, and is repeated a lot.  However there are some truths that we need to keep examining from different directions until we can move them from our heads into our hearts.  I can’t say that it inspired me to change my life, but it gave me much to think about as I have been contemplating this very theme for a while… what does it mean to say that it is all about GOD, and not about me.

The study guide in the back is also quite good, and it covers the material from each chapter, so you can use the book as a group study, or personal study, as well as just a good read.

Don’t expect anything groundbreaking, but read it anyway.  It really is quite good.


I review for BookSneeze®

I received the book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishing as part of their BookSneeze programme.  Learn more about the book here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tweasure yor wuv.

So. It is official.

I finally managed to hook the fabulous Dori, and get her to agree to spend the rest of her life with me.

Now, the only important question is....

How do I get her to agree to this wedding?


Hoo Ha Ha!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

She said “yes”


Today I asked the fabulous Dori to be my fish-wife, and she said “yes.”

Photo-0124_thumb[11]The story of how we got together is just an amazing one filled with GOD’s hand.  Clearly even His infinite patience was wearing thin with us trying to get it right on our own.  Smile

This day is just made of pure awesome!

Hoo Ha Ha!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

FISH in the Reads/Reeds


I love to read. 

On a good day, I can devour an entire fiction novel in one sitting, maybe over a weekend for larger books.

Yet I have never really spent a lot of time reading Christian fiction.  That’s right, I still consider Frank Peretti to be the cutting edge of edgy spiritual fiction, and that nobody can top C.S. Lewis for some good fantasy.

But I am aware of the fact that there is an entire world of inspirational Christian Fiction out there.  I even aspire to write it one day.  So I suppose it was about time that I learned to appreciate it.

So it is probably a good thing that my girlfriend, Dori, is quite an expert on Christian Fiction.  She has been introducing me to works by Ted Dekker, Adam Blumer and others.

(She also likes Twilight, but nobody’s perfect.)


So while up until now I have been reviewing Christian Non-Fiction books on this blog, I will now be starting a new series called FISH in the Reads (Fish in the Reeds.  Get it?)  If I am going to be a FISH (Faithful in Serving HIM) then I need to be soaking myself in good, Christian Fiction as well as the secular fiction I read.  So I will be looking (possibly with some help) at how we can serve God in our reading patterns.

Do you read Christian Fiction?  Can you recommend anything/anyone?
Do you think it matter whether we read Christian fiction or not?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Spiritual Armour

Despite allegations that I have been very quiet this year, I would remind you that I did in fact have a lot to say during Lent.  Just not here. That’s because it was on my other blog.  FISH for Lent is where I try to post a daily thought for the whole period from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday. 

This year I chose the theme of The Armour of GOD.

ArmorOfGod-1_49213259_stdStand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6)

I found the experience of preparing each day’s ruminations so valuable in terms of my own learning and growth, that I decided to do the series in my Cell-Group.  So for the last two months we worked our way through each item of the armour. 

We asked ourselves (and GOD):
1.Why was that characteristic or item important?
2.Why was it compared to that item of armour?
3.How do we put on that item and use it to defend ourselves?

q_p81003It was actually quite a valuable series, and there was a lot of discussion around each week’s lesson.  I think sometimes we gloss over this passage in Ephesians, and don’t focus on what it really meant to Christians of the day, and still to us today.

It went so well, that I am actually considering turning the lessons and daily devotionals from the blog into a booklet, and seeing who else is interested in doing the course.

What about you?  Do you ever think about the Armour of God?
Do you find it useful?  Or is it just a pretty metaphor?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Here again.

I realise I have been a little scarce lately. 

You probably haven’t heard from me for a while.

Blame it all on Dori.  I can’t help it that I have such an awesome girlfriend.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jesus Freaks

There are more Christian martyrs today than there were in 100 AD-in the days of the Roman Empire. According to a study done at Regent University, there were close to 164,000 Christians martyred around the world in 1999. Their stories must be told.



I might be the last Christian in the world to actually read this book, but I finally have read it.  For the last ten years I have been putting it off, because I knew that it would be hardcore. 

It was.

The book tells the story of dozens of Christian martyrs, most of whom died for their faith - many quite painfully or horrifically.  It covers children still in their teens, as well as entire families who lost their lives for their beliefs.  It is quite scary stuff.

I have always found stories of martyrdom and persecution quite scary, because I am always afraid that I would never be able to measure up to these people.  Some of them stared their torturers in the eyes and said “I will never renounce my faith, do your worst.”

I have the privilege of living in a country where I will probably never face torture or prison for my beliefs.  I never have to live in fear.  And sometimes I wonder if that is a good thing. 

There is a reason why the word “Martyr” actually means “Witness.”  Our faith has always been at it’s strongest when we are persecuted; and our witness at it’s most powerful when we are seen to stand up under suffering. 

Reading this book reminded me about the other face of my faith.  The side I don’t often think about.  The side where people lose everything in a heartbeat, and do so gladly, because of what they gain.

Is it wrong that I thank God daily that he has called me to minister to people who are receptive to the Gospel, instead of putting myself in harms way? 

Quite a challenging book, and not for the faint of heart, or faint of faith.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book Review : The Jesus Inquest


The Jesus Inquest : The Case For and Against the Resurrection of the Christ
An unbiased examination and compelling courtroom presentation revealing the undeniable facts of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Or so says the book cover.

Unlike most books which will take one viewpoint or the other, this book spends 50% of the time and space arguing against the resurrection, and 50% arguing for it. Both sides are well researched, and fairly well presented.

This book is not for everyone. And I don’t think it should be.
Foster argues both sides of the question with great skill, and his points are well researched and thorough. At times however I found that his arguments for the resurrection were a little… wishy-washy. I kept wanting to shout out “No, don’t say it like that. There’s a better argument.” I suppose it is the natural inclination of every lawyer to give his best effort to the version he has the least faith in.

I am concerned that many of the queries raised by his doubting “X” persona are not adequately responded to by his faithful “Y” persona, and that those without a thorough knowledge of the points raised might be led into further doubt or confusion.

I was also concerned by his constant refrain of “Of course no Christian actually believes that” and similar phrases. He seemed to be trying to portray all Christians as logical rationalists, whereas some of the points raised are in fact believed by Christians, myself included.

An interesting academic work, but not one I would recommend for light reading.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Psalm 22 (For Good Friday)

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
       Why are you so far from saving me,
       so far from the words of my groaning?

2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
       by night, and am not silent.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
       you are the praise of Israel.

4 In you our fathers put their trust;
       they trusted and you delivered them.

5 They cried to you and were saved;
       in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,
       scorned by men and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me;
       they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

8 "He trusts in the LORD;
       let the LORD rescue him.
       Let him deliver him,
       since he delights in him."

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
       you made me trust in you
       even at my mother's breast.

10 From birth I was cast upon you;
       from my mother's womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
       for trouble is near
       and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
       strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

13 Roaring lions tearing their prey
       open their mouths wide against me.

14 I am poured out like water,
       and all my bones are out of joint.
       My heart has turned to wax;
       it has melted away within me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
       and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
       you lay me  in the dust of death.

16 Dogs have surrounded me;
       a band of evil men has encircled me,
       they have pierced my hands and my feet.

17 I can count all my bones;
       people stare and gloat over me.

18 They divide my garments among them
       and cast lots for my clothing.

19 But you, O LORD, be not far off;
       O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

20 Deliver my life from the sword,
       my precious life from the power of the dogs.

21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
       save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my brothers;
       in the congregation I will praise you.

23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
       All you descendants of Jacob, honour him!
       Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

24 For he has not despised or disdained
       the suffering of the afflicted one;
       he has not hidden his face from him
       but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
       before those who fear you will I fulfil my vows.

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
       they who seek the LORD will praise him—
       may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
       will remember and turn to the LORD,
       and all the families of the nations
       will bow down before him,

28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
       and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
       all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
       those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him;
       future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness
       to a people yet unborn—
       for he has done it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St Patrick

saint-patrick-its-my-day Today is the feast day of St Patrick.  Although for most people it is is just an opportunity to drink green beer, and pinch people who don’t dress in the appropriate colour, it is also the day we remember Saint Patrick.

Interestingly enough, today is the day scheduled for me to start my week of talking about the Breastplate of Righteousness over at FISH for Lent.

Why is that interesting?

Because apart from driving all the snakes out of Ireland, and using the shamrock as a symbol of the trinity, Saint Patrick is possibly best known for a poem called…


I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.
I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

So, today we remember a very Faithful FISH, and the prayer named after him.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash what?

Lent?  Ash Wednesday?  Fasting?

Do you do any of it?

As a member of a fairly traditional mainstream church, I grew up assuming that everyone followed the same traditions as I/we did.  It was only as I got older that I realised that many (most?) believers and churches don’t bother with things like Lent.

cake-or-death-cartoon-41-7-feb-2008The word Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, meaning ‘Spring’, and also was the word for ‘March’ when lent was usually held to begin.  In the early church, new believers were baptised on Easter Sunday, and so they observed a time of fasting for 40 days prior.  It became traditional for the whole church to fast with them, recognising that they were being baptised into the Church as a body.  From this we have the modern tradition of 40 days of lent.  The 40 days were supposed to represent the 40 days that Christ fasted in the desert before beginning his public ministry.

250px-Ashcross It was also common for believers who were returning to the church to be re-admitted on the Easter Sunday.  They would traditionally make a full confession of their sins before beginning lent, and would make a mark of an Ash Cross on their forehead to symbolise their repentance.  Again, members of the early church chose to do the same thing, and began signing themselves with a Cross of Ash to symbolise that they also needed to repent and return to the Lord.

This is the origin of Ash Wednesday, where believers may choose to have a cross of Ash imposed on their forehead as a reminder of their decision to turn from sin, and follow Christ.  Tonight I will be attending an Ash Wednesday service at my church, and will be beginning a time of Lenten discipline. 

I will not be talking about Lent, or my journey, on this blog, because for those who do not follow it, it might be pretty boring.  Instead, I will be doing a daily post on my other site, FISH for Lent.

It would be great if you came over and visited me there.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Liturgy part 2 – Why bother?

So we looked yesterday at why following a liturgy is like playing a good game of golf.  But what is a liturgy?

Collins English Dictionary defines it as “a particular order or form of public service laid down by a Church”

Annie Dillard says “I often think of the set pieces of liturgy as certain words which people have successfully addressed to God without their getting killed.”

Pope Paul VI said “Liturgy is like a strong tree whose beauty is derived from the continuous renewal of its leaves, but whose strength comes from the old trunk, with solid roots in the ground.”

I read once that having a liturgy does five things for us.

1. It saves us from disorderliness

Otherwise our services might be chaos all the time, with some people trying to sing while others are trying to pray.  Each part has its place, and we know that we are united in our prayers or worship at that moment with the entire body.


2. It saves us from dependence on a minister

This one is strange, because you would think that having a liturgy would mean you are bound to follow someone.  However having a set liturgy means we do not need to rely on the training and abilities of an official to lead us in worship.  We have the means to do it ourselves, and a resource for even the most clueless or nervous leader to take us through the worship and service.


3. It saves us from our own feelings

Let us be honest.  If it has been a bad day, our mind might not really be on what we are saying.  If we are not feeling the joy, we might not express it.  Liturgy makes sure we focus on everything, not just what we feel like.

4. It saves us from loss of perspective

In times of war and trouble, we might forget to give thanks.
In times of plenty, we might forget to pray for the needs of others.
In times of great thanksgiving, we might forget to seek forgiveness.
Liturgy keeps us focused on the whole Christian experience.

5. It preserves all that is good

As we discussed yesterday, we take the best from every age.  Each new age learns new ways to honour God, but we should not abandon what has worked before.
Then we can truly say we are part of the universal church, and worship with “all the angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven.”


What I like about the liturgy is that it is flexible and alive, while still following a basic structure.  Sometimes a little structure and order is good, but we need to leave room for the Spirit to move among us, and through us. 

Do you like liturgy? 
Why?  Or Why not?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Liturgy part 1 - Golf

golf ball Golf!  You either love it or hate it, sometimes both in one day.  It is either the worst game in the world, or the best thing ever…. depending if you are having a good swing day.

So what is the purpose of Golf?  To hit the ball with a club, and have it land as close as possible to the flag, preferably right into the hole.  That is all.  Simple.

golf When you started playing golf, did you just read a book, and pick up the club with your one hand and start swinging?  Maybe, but I doubt it helped much.  You might be the one-in-a-million golf prodigy who can just grip-it-and-rip-it with no thought for the basics.

Most people started by choosing a grip.  They based it on the grip that others suggested to them.  The learned from the golfers who had gone before, in terms of what worked and what didn’t. 

golf-grips Some swings felt more comfortable than others, but gradually they determine what is the best grip to achieve the goal.  Getting as close as possible to the flag.


I do have a point here, I promise.

Over time, you gradually develop your own style, and grip.  Your stance changes, all the time in an effort to get the ball closer to the flag.  It is unlikely that you will completely abandon years of wisdom, and try find your own stance.  More likely you will keep the best of it, but make it work for you.

Always keeping your eye on the goal… getting closer to the flag.

Kind of like church traditions and liturgy.

We all have the same goal here, to get closer to God.  Simple.

But unless we are the one-in-a-million spiritual prodigy, we probably won’t be able to do it all at once in our own knowledge.  Instead we follow what other people have done for generations to get closer to him.  We choose to follow the traditions, and words, that other people have found help them to get closer to God.

Of course, over time, we will see what helps us to get closer to Him, and what stands in our way.  We will find a “stance” that is more comfortable to who we are.  We will decide if we like to chip, or drive.  We will figure out what grip is most efficient for us, all with a view to reaching the ultimate goal.

Getting closer to God.

Greater minds than ours have tried for hundreds of years to draw closer to Him, isn’t it arrogance for us to think we can figure it all out on our own?  Isn’t it stupid to try and move away from their wisdom, just because “I don’t need tradition to meet God”?

Don’t forget, the goal is not to be the coolest kid on the golf course.  The goal is to get closer to the flag.

So what about you? 
Do you like liturgy and tradition, or do you just do what feels right?

Tomorrow we will look at this question in a little more depth. 
(And with less sporting terminology)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Church Part 2 – Tree of life

Yesterday we said that the Church was more like a tree than a building, and I think this is a good analogy.


A tree with strong branches from the trunk.  Branches like Ministry (what we do), Creed (what we believe), Scriptures (where we find it), and Sacraments (how we react to it)

Then each big branch grows smaller branches.  Out of Ministry comes the various offices we create in the church: Priests; lay-ministers; pastors; lay-workers.   Out of Creed grows our theology and studies of God.  Out of Scripture grows our bible studies, and devotionals books etc.  Out of Sacrament grows all our services, and ceremonies, our forms of prayer and our liturgies.   

Each smaller branch grows smaller branches, and twigs.  This is the body and life of the tree.

Then on these smaller branches and twigs grow the leaves.  The leaves are the beauty of the Church.  The music, the art, the candles.  The way we present our services.  What people see when they look at our services and our buildings. 

And the fruit that grows is the life of the saints, and humble servants.


So what happens if we start stripping the leaves off?

The tree loses its beauty, but not it’s purpose.  It still grows, and lives, and adapts. 

Even if we start tearing off the twigs and small branches, it is still the same tree. We damage it, but it will grow new branches and twigs, and the purpose of the main branches will still be achieved.

The same way, we can’t get too caught up in the music, and services, and books of prayer etc.  These are what make the Church work, but they are not the Church.  If we took them away, the Church would adapt, and find new ways to express the Scriptures, new ways to minister, new ways to follow our Creed and Sacraments.

But if we start pulling away the main branches, we cripple the tree, and it loses life.

Sometimes we get too caught up in the trappings of our churches, that we lose sight of the Church that Jesus gave to us.  That he commanded us to grow and spread.

Sometimes we can’t see the tree for the branches.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Church part 1 - Growth

I have a lot of issues with the church.  A lot.  I do not deny that.

However, I still believe that it is God’s chosen instrument for bringing salvation and freedom to those in need.  Not that I believe that there is no salvation outside the Church (God is pretty good at surprises after all) but rather that I believe it was the best idea He had, and He gave it to us to run with.  So who am I to have issue with it?

blueprint Jesus could have left us with a fixed picture of his Church.  Like a blue-print for a house.  Then we could have built it exactly to his specifications and design, using lasting material.

building_church_1_The problem with that idea, is that there is not a lot of room for change in a house.  It has solid foundations, but it also has solid walls and roofs.  It doesn’t change easily to adapt to changing times and geography.  

So Jesus left us something better.

He planted a seed.

He planted a seed with the teaching he left with his disciples.

Then he gave them the great commission to start growing it. 
Matthew 28:19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Then the seed started to flourish, and it was fertilised on the Day of Pentecost by the Holy Spirit. 

treeGardenA0000 And as it is watered every day with Living Waters, and exposed to SONlight, that seed has grown into a mighty tree.

The Church of God.

<More to follow tomorrow>