Soul gardeners

Life is messy and not a 5 point plan! Jesus gave us wonderful metaphors to navigate the mess. We are an African couple committed to the Gardener. Our passion is tilling and working the soil of our lives and gardening with a community. We live in South Africa and we are praying for God's direction in our lives.


I'm moving my blog to typepad, the new address will be


Ash Wednesday

We had a wonderful AW (Ash Wednesday) service. It wasn’t all fun, yet it was good. In our self-centered lifestyles it is hard to submit to periods and journeys that don’t flatter our egos and tickle our fancies. AW is the kick-off for the season of Lent. A time used for repentance and fasting, for introspection and cries of “Mercy God”, the problem with this is that I don’t like doing the repentance thing. Why? because I’m still too full of myself.

As I prepared for the evening service it dawned on me that I’m so inflated with my own pride. I’m not usually at a place where I’m wrecked by introspection. Now I know that it’s not a good thing to be preoccupied with my own wretchedness, but I usually don’t err to that side. In fact I think most of us who have lived in the corridors of faith for a substantial time, stand the danger of faking our own sinfulness. If we fake thinking that we’re sinners, then we will only experience fake forgiveness, thereby nullifying the awesome sacrifice that we’ll reflect on in forty days! It reminds me of John’s stern words:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 1 John 1:8-10

The Ash Wednesday liturgy confronted my pride and after I struggled with the prayers for a while, it deflated my ego-filled balloon. This is exactly why I love the liturgies and prayers of the church; it directs me to a new reality. I will pray through this prayer of confession during Lent, join me – but do it with care en trepidation:

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and
strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We
have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us.
We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved
your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the
pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our self indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation
of other people,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those
more fortunate than ourselves,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and
our dishonesty in daily life and work,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to
commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to you, Lord.

Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done:
for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our
indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our
neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those
who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of
concern for those who come after us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;
Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.

Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.
By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.


Kleipot’s social responsibilty.

On a flight back to Africa I realized how un-holistic I’m living. It’s so easy to profess God and keep Him cordoned in the intellectual realm of my being. I read “The Awake Project” a book tackling the issue of Aids in Africa head-on. Somewhere between Frankfurt and Johannesburg the Spirit stirred within me, awakening me to the realization of my privileged situation and therefore also responsibility. It dawned on me that I never connected the dots between my “being blessed in Christ” with the poor and destitute in Africa and specifically; South Africa.

God used different prophets to speak to me; one of them was Tony Campolo:

“The Christ of Scripture refuses to be an abstraction in the sky. Instead, he chooses to be incarnated in the last, the least, and the lost of this world. I contend that he is especially present in those who suffer from AIDS. Sacramentally, the resurrected Jesus waits to be loved in each of them. Mother Teresa once said, “Whenever I look into the eyes of someone dying of AIDS, I have an eerie awareness that Jesus is staring back at me.” Indeed, that is the case. No one can say that he or she loves Jesus without embracing Jesus in those who have this torturous disease.” The Awake project, Introduction page xix.

I’ve been a Christian and church leader for many years and somehow the social responsibility of our Christian story never broke through the confines of my own defined boundaries. Boundaries that included middle to rich white suburban people and pretty much excluded everyone else outside of my comfortable blind spot. I cried. And then I wrote a poem:

Statistics have the subtle power of seduction,
Infamous for reducing to the impersonal -
A precious child of God turned into a dollar amount,
A hungry soul reduced to an attendance figure in Excel!
I’ve lived that way far too long!
Raving and bragging about comparative statistics -
No reverence for the individual stories,
Lusting for bigger and more
Over time only .......


I want to live incarnate,
exchanging numbers for names,
Investing in the particulars not the abstract!

So you like statistics?
Here’s one that should break your heart :
Today 5000 Africans died of Aids -
If this tragedy leaves you unfazed then you are
SEDUCED ......

repent.... if you have time.

When we started the Kleipot journey we decided that our being must enrich the community around us. We covenanted together and said that if our community can’t say that it’s a better place because of our being there, then we should consider shutting things down.

Our story is a continuation of the great blessing and responsibility entrusted to Abraham:

“I will bless you and make your name famous, and you will be a blessing to many others.” Genesis 12.

A popular worship song has us singing with gusto “Open the eyes of my heart Lord.” When we sing this song, we are asking God to give us His eyes for the down and out; those thrown away by our society – the people in and around our rich and privileged neighborhoods. May God open our eyes!

During the season of Epiphany we studied Jesus’ poignant words in Luke 6, words that challenges those who think they’re ‘in’ with the possibility that they may be ‘out’ and vice versa. We embarked on a journey to live in obedience to the opening of our eyes, what follows is an outline of the journey we’re undertaking:

The Christian journey consists of an inward and outward journey; a journey towards Christ and then a journey with Christ to others. For us to live in the rhythms of these two journeys we have to allow God’s grace and goodness to permeate every area of our lives, if we don’t synchronize the two journeys we move into dangerous ground.

We used Isaiah 58 as a basic text for the journey towards the opening of our eyes. Isaiah 58:11-12 is what I’ll call my commissioning verses, for the last twelve years I’ve written them down in the front of my journals:

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

The verses paint a powerful picture of hope and expectation, a picture of adventure and new things, but these two verses find themselves in a larger context. Those two verses on their own claim the blessing and conveniently leave out the responsibility. In Isaiah 58 God challenges Israel because they claimed to live the inward journey. He shows them the folly of their actions and directs their attention to their negligence of the outward journey. Here’s a list of the people and groups they neglected, the very people God wanted to “open their eyes toward”.

(List compiled from the Message translation)

Break the chains of injustice
Get rid of the exploitation in the workplace
Free the oppressed
Cancel debts
Sharing your food with the hungry
Inviting the homeless poor into your home
Putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad
Being available to your own families
Get rid of unfair practices
Quit blaming victims
Quit gossiping about other people’s sins
Be generous with the hungry
Give to the down-and-out

Now this list should not serve as a legalistic checklist or to-do list. But this list must inform our imagination and open the eyes of our heart to our own situation and rhythms. The list cannot be ignored and must be applied to our Monday to Sunday lives; it must intersect with the particularities of our lives as individuals and a community.

Our involvement can be shown as different circles of involvement. Even though this is a very static and limited representation – it can give us some pointers for the journey. The journey will involve our “personal” selves and is thus the starting point of our journey. Our first responsibility is to live with our families, friends and neighbors. It’s here where Paul challenges Timothy:

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8

The journey will also include those who are part of the Kleipot community. If someone has need in our immediate community, then we have the responsibility to help with what we have. This gives a practical expression to all the “one another” commands in the Bible. John’s words come to mind:

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 1 John 3:17

Our journey will also join forces with the local people of Berario and Johannesburg, and eventually South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world.

As a group we decided to live the personal journey with intensity in the next month and then regroup for a time of storytelling and to ask for God’s direction in the other dimensions.

Here are some principals we discussed for the personal journey:

- Isaiah 58 talks about “being available for our own families”
- We should rediscover the ancient discipline of “neighboring”; do we know our neighbors? In what ways can I get involved with their lives?
- As we conduct our daily affairs we should remember that every person has a story … Take time to listen to their story and ask God to give you His eyes for the person in front of you.
- Ask God to show you the “filters” that you’re using to decide whether someone is in or out.
- Give people what they “need” not what you want to give or think they need.
- Most people in South Africa have domestic workers. Respect them as equal in God. This should reflect in the way we talk to them, give them instructions and pay them. (Imagine what could happen if all Christians in South Africa would treat their workers with respect).
- Strategic consumerism. Instead of feeding a global movement wherein people are reduced to numbers let’s shop strategically. Instead of always going to the big stores where no one is known, let’s try to build relationships with the people at the grocery store and wherever we shop.

What are some of your ideas?

You can post them on our website:


“Everything that needs numbers in order to become significant is by that very fact insignificant. Everything that can be arranged, executed, completed only with the help of numbers, the sum of which startles people in amazement, as if this were something important – precisely this is unimportant. The truly important is inversely related, needs a progressively smaller and smaller number to implement its completion. And for the most important of all, that which sets heaven and earth in motion, only one person is needed. And what is most important of all? What interest angels and demons most is that a person is actually involved with God – for this one single human being is enough. Kierkegaard, p.242


God is building a community!

Yes, you’ve read it, God is doing some amazing communal things in the daily relationships of our community. The neat thing about it is that we’re not initiating anything specifically – God’s the author of all of it. Let me share just one neat thing that happened in the last few weeks:

Schalk is our friend who lives in Mozambique. A few Wednesdays ago a few of us prayed together and he shared that he needed a specific amount of funds to keep up his development work. We all prayed together. On Sunday of that week, a couple in our community gave him a check – apparently the husband woke in the middle of the night; he woke his wife and told her that he felt they had to give a certain amount to Schalk.

We were all amazed! God wove two independent stories into one beautiful chapter … He’s doing some other beautiful things too.

Today I spoke to my friend Jacques about this and he offhandedly made the comment that it’s amazing all we had to do was destroy some of the structures that don’t allow people to relate to each other and then watch God work! That’s it – He is the builder of His church.


Thanks for the prayers on behalf of Francois. He is back home at the moment and will spend the rest of next week recuperating. We really appreciate all the support and love.

Our friends Tom and April are parents

Tom and April are the new parents of Ethan Ryan Hook. Tom wrote some awesome thoughts on the pregnancy stage:

Do you know what I think is amazing? God shows us so many things about himself through life's cycles and situations. Why did God desire that a woman be
pregnant for 9 months? He could have made the woman in such a way that she gets pregnant and delivers a baby in a week. Why not, He can do anything He wants. And yet, I think He was trying to give us an example of our spiritual lives,
our sanctification process. Not only does pregnancy hurt, but it strips you of
what's comfortable. You now have to think of more than just yourself when you
eat, when you sleep, when you walk, when you do just about anything. One day
you feel great. The next you can't hardly keep yourself from crying. Being
pregnant can be a long trial. And yet it is filled with so much excitement,
anticipation and love. At the end of a 9 month period, all the work and labor
pains result in one of the most amazing miracles. A life. Doesn't it remind you
of our walk with God in about a million ways?


Please pray

Please pray for my brother Francois, he is in hospital and is in desperate need of sleep. When you go to bed tonight please pray for a sweet rest for him. Thanks

A morning with the senior citizens.

Our church’s gathering is in a community center where all kinds of people meet during the week. Pottery classes, Boy – and Girl Scouts, Belly dancers, Ballet, Gymnastics and many other groups use the facility. We love being a part of the local community. One of the groups meeting at the center is the Senior Citizens. They invited me to kick their year off with a few words from the Bible and a prayer.

After I spoke and prayed, the hostess introduced two other speakers. The first was the leader of the Girl Scouts. She championed her cause to the seventy year old ladies hoping to get their grand children involved. A pretty harmless idea, or so I thought. In the back sat a mammoth lady, the creases and contours of her face showing many a victory in life’s battles. Getting visibly agitated by the Girl Scouts leader, she stood up and challenged the poor speaker. “Why do you want Girls Scouts if we already have Girl Guides?” she shouted. The Girl Scout Girl told her that the scouts are more adventurous than the guides and rehearsed a list of all their activities. “I’ve done all of them when I was young”, the sage responded. (I couldn’t believe it, the list included flying, river rafting, bungee jumping, rock climbing and adventure sports galore).

“I’ll tell you why we have Girl Scouts”, the old one said, “It’s because American have them and we want to copy them in everything!!!!” The Girl Scout girl survived her presentation and I felt like giving her a pin or something. I realized that it was a tough crowd, I saw nothing yet …

Next up was the local police chief. A man in his late forties, ready to give some neighborly tips to the older ones. After telling them how understaffed they were, and giving reasons why they can’t have a Bobby on the beat, he opened it up for questions. A tiny old lady with a shaking voice asked the first question:

“Officer, if there’s a man on my lawn and I point a gun at him can I shoot him on the run?” .

Pretty aggressive question don’t you think? The officer told her that she can only shoot if her life is in danger, and therefore if there’s a witness they’ll have to testify to the endangerment of her life.

“If there are no witnesses, remember: you’ll have to shoot to kill.”

I tried to imagine the little lady unleashing Rambo or Terminator style – what a picture – try that Quinton Tarantino.

Never underestimate the Senior Citizens folks!


We had a fabulous Lord’s Supper at our community yesterday. When we started the church we decided to bring the meal back to Communion, Wolfgang Simson said:

“Church tradition has managed to "celebrate the Lord's Supper" in a homeopathic and deeply religious form, characteristically with a few drops of wine, a tasteless cookie and a sad face. However, the "Lord's Supper" was actually more a substantial supper with a symbolic meaning, than a symbolic supper with a substantial meaning. God is restoring eating back into our meeting.”

Eating back into our meeting …

Our community sat around tables and everyone bought something. The air was filled with wonderful food fragrances and the cadence of community filled the atmosphere. Christ was the guest of Honor and we took a few hours to Remember and Anticipate his coming and coming again.

During our time together we showed five verses on the screen and asked each person around the table to share with which one they identified most. One of the gals shared that her journey took a significant change of direction earlier in the morning. She told us that she hid from God for the last few years, trying to run away from him. “I guess this morning I am allowing myself to be found”, was her words to us.

God is good…


Keep me from McDonalds

We are all called to live from our creative center. Connected to the Creator. This world places us unto a conveyer belt of franchise. Everyone looking the same. Clones. I want to break free!! A friend sent me this first picture of life on Mars :)

++ God, help me to live an original life, keep me from becoming a McDonalds’ franchise ++


The story of our lives

We are by default part of a story, a global one at that - everyone is in the cast. Billion characters living their story - together. Each one battling with the nagging question: "What is my role?" Knowing that we're in the cast helps us to orient ourselves into a communal "us" and saves us from the poisonous tendency to live life for ourselves. Over the weekend we discussed our story and in the context of THE STORY. In "The Lord of the Rings" there's a great scene where Sam wonders out loud on Frode and his role in the story - how will they remember me?

We can be sure that God is the Author of the story and we have to keep our tendencies of coveting the role of main actor/actress in check. One of my disciplines for the last few months has been staying in the movie till all the credits finished. It's amazing to look at all the people involved in producing a two hour story - all the "behind the scenes" stuff. Some times this discipline served me pretty well (like at the end of the second Matrix movie when they gave a glimps of the movie to come).

John the Baptist had a good perspective on his role and especially what it's not. The people started a rumor that he might be the Messiah, i love his response:

I’m baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.”

Let's pray John's prayer,

He must become greater I must become less


A prayer, a thief and a screaming male

On Wednesday evenings we pray as a community. Tonight we had a rather interesting prayer experience. Half an hour into our praying and intercession a few of us became aware of a peculiar sound outside the house, the ‘THUD’ ‘THUD’ of a hammer connecting something with force. I ran out with Jacques and saw our car forty meters down the road; three men were ‘working’ it. In other words they were in the process of stealing it. One of them had a computer in his hands, it’s a small electronic device used to deactivate all alarms and immobilizers.

I responded with the only masculine response I could think of … Yell all of hell on them. I let loose and they scattered, like sheep without a shepherd. Two of them immediately jumped into the getaway car and the last man, die hard that he was – still tried to steal our car! After some persisted shouting and the house alarm being activated he jumped into the car.

We were fortunate, that’s what the guy who towed our car told me. Last week a man also yelled at some thieves and he was shot! I guess the best way to handle the situation is to just shut up and let them take your vehicle…

Our vehicle is totally screwed. Literally. They jammed the screwdriver-like device in the picture into our ignition (that was the hammering sound) and ripped out a lot of wiring and broke the car’s door handle.

We thank God that we’re OK and we’re reminded that we can’t put our security in material things…


The new season of Alias started in South Africa tonight. It was a delightful first episode; we just miss our American buddies who watched it with us every week. The American season is almost done and we are only just beginning! Lollie and I also watched Seabiscut today and it was a good movie - never underestimate the underdog!


Added a rss feed to the site.

Driving in the emergency lane

First day back in the routines back home. It’s good being back. I’ve meditated on our driving experience on Friday. The drive back from the Cape Province to Johannesburg took fourteen hours – some beautiful scenery – but still a long ride. Driving in South Africa presents some challenges; one of them is an unspoken rule that goes like this:

If you drive a fast car and don’t have the patience to overtake someone at the proper time, then ride up to the rear of their car and flash your headlights profusely. The aggressive driver expects the person in front of them to drive in the yellow emergency lane – giving them the opportunity to overtake.

A lot of people stormed us in this manner – the courteous ones don’t flash their headlights and signals with their hazards in appreciation. I don’t mind them, the others who just bully their way through the highway – they mind me a lot. Most of all the fact that they don’t say thank you.

Then it dawned on me that I’m the bully on the highway of life. Driving on God’s tail, getting frustrated with His timing and then overtaking. Worst of all I usually don’t say thanks for anything! Jesus drives in the yellow emergency lane.


We had a great vacation

Our vacation was an absolute blast. We rested and had some wonderful bike rides. Our first few days were spent camping and then we stayed in a wonderful condo 100 yards from the ocean. Today was our first gathering at Kleipotgemeente for 2004 and it was a blast to see everyone.

Tonight we will watch Ruturn of the King as a family - I'm really excited.

All the best for the next year everyone! May it be a God-filled one.


We are going on a vacation

Friends, Lollie and I leave for the ocean tomorrow!
Have a great Christmas and Happy New Year,

We'll be back on the 2nd of January.

During this time we can't read ..

Any bills
Bad weather

Geniet julle vakansie!


The thief in the night

We woke up this morning and found that our wheel (hub) caps were stolen last night. It's sick to think that someone jumped over our gate and stole them. I told Lollie: 'thankfully they only stole the caps', she responded that it's so sad that we should be grateful that they only stole our caps!

This week was a hard work week. Our whole community will be scaterred throughout South Africa and we decided to follow a joint liturgy wherever we are - a church in a box if you will. We prepared three services this week, I hope everyone will use them!


I'm using Typepad to build a site for our community. Check it out at

This floated in cyberspace for the last few weeks, I guess someone found NEMO!!!

Guess what? I realized today that our faith community is totally organic. We are living the script of our own geography and not copying something that works in another city, country or continent. It takes so much pressure off! I guess it must be like finding out that you can only parent your children by being you. Kleipot gemeente is proving to be a wonderful experiment of home-grown grace. The best of all is that we don't have to attend conferences or read the latest blockbusters in church models. Anyhoo, just thought I would share.

A lot happened in the last week here in the Smith house:

- My dad had an operation on his shoulder. I’m the official dresser at the moment – it’s kind of weird to dress
my dad!
- Dirk (my brother) wrote the Charted Financial Analyst exam and studied his butt off. He also went to the Christmas party at my dad’s firm. (it was a fancy dress)
- Francois (the other brother) had his twentieth party and I acted as the official barbeque engineer.
- Kleipot Gemeente (our community) had a good week of fellowship, praying and growing together.
- Lollie ran her first ten kilometers on the road! She’s really running well, I’m battling to keep up with her.

God is good and the weather's good in Africa.


Taxi to soweto

Slimer and i went to Soweto today. Soweto is the toenship South of Johannesburg. It was created as a segregated black area during the apartheids regime. It was fun. My friend graciously donated his mattress to Gloria and she really appreciated it.


South African Thanksgiving

We had a great South African Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, pumpkin pie, beans, and some delicious potatoes were features of the meal. It was weird eating these hot foods on an extremely warm and sunny African day. Nonetheless we had a blast. The highlight was undoubtedly the sharing time. It struck me how diverse our community is. We have people in their twenties hanging out with some in their late sixties! Truly a blessing. Apart from eating great food we started a great tradition for our community. Next year we will exchange some of the American food for something more authentic to Africa; like mopani worms (just kidding).


Operation mend the pot

We had a great visit last night. Sunday we broke a clay pot and gave everyone a piece to write a prayer in. Last night was operation “put it all back together”. Our evening was spent praying and playing. When we broke the pot, we placed it in a bag and threw it on the floor. The pot scattered into a lot of pieces (something the group repeatedly told me). ‘Why didn’t you use a hammer?’

Putting the pot together taught us a lot. A few of our members couldn’t be there last night and it reminded us how crucial each person’s contribution is. Without their pieces we couldn’t complete the mending process. Building a community takes patience and is not a quick result-oriented exercise. Saturday we will celebrate a South African thanksgiving and will continue the rebuilding process.

A few pieces didn’t fit with ease. We had to file and soften some of the edges produced by the scattering. After a lot of fine and delicate work the pieces fitted! A community is an opportunity for people to recalibrate ingrained individualistic tendencies to rhyme with others in a new harmony. This harmonizing is not a smooth process. When I asked Lollie’s parents for her hand in marriage her dad told me that a marriage is like two stones in a river. The stones constantly bump and chafe each other till the edges become smooth – ditto with a community.

Glue is essential in repairing a broken pot. The adhesive must be strong and have the right thickness. Last night we used superglue and a patty. In one of the prayer times one of our members thanked Christ for being the glue in our community. Without Him we will not fit together.

Our evening ended and we did everything we could do without all the pieces. The result was a shabby looking pot. Nothing spectacular or praiseworthy, a perfect picture of a congregation! Sinners journeying with God as the guide. Someone thanked God in the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12,

So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me


Kleipot Gemeente/ Clay pot community

That’s the metaphor our community chose. It’s derived from Paul’s words in second Corinthians; we carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. We used our gathering on the weekend to unpack the use of clay, clay pots and potters in the Bible. Lollie and I planned a cool service with some great worship songs, poignant visuals and a solid liturgy. Then God intervened.

Late Saturday evening we found at that we won’t worship with accompaniment of guitars. We were a little bummed and decided to worship using silence and loud prayers. When we arrived at our meeting place, the multi-media didn’t work. It was another bummer for us. Our script was being rearranged, and suddenly our service was reduced to something very ordinary, unadorned if you will. During the silence I had to relinquish the picture perfect plan and embrace the brokenness of our situation. It dawned on me how appropriate it all was – we are after all ‘just’ clay pots.

Then God showed up. He filled our broken pot with His splendor. He was there! The focus was on Him and not on funky graphics or butter smooth liturgy.

The pot pictured above has a story. Last week, in preparation for the service, we decided to buy a clay pot as a visual for the weekend. Our budget is tight and I looked all over for a cheap pot. I found none. Clay pots are ridiculously expensive. I almost despaired and then I found the right one. It stood next to a faucet at the garden shop. It was half filled with mud and full of water. The sides were chipped and it showed some cracks. I haggled with the owners and they sold it for $4. When our group walked in on Sunday they saw our imperfect pot and some mentioned the cracks. ‘Couldn’t we find a better one?’

A perfect reminder that we’re not perfect. Dieterich Bonhoeffer wrote this about the church;

“He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, not withstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final breakthrough to fellowship do not occur because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from their fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!”

We discussed the dangers involved in mixing the metaphor. The apostle Paul tells us that Christ is the treasure and we are the clay plot. It is so easy to make us the treasure, the be all and end all.

We ended our service with a violent liturgy. It entailed placing the clay pot in a bag and smashing it on the concrete floor. Everyone in our community took a shattered piece. All of us will write a prayer on the potsherd and on Wednesday we will glue the pot back together. It will serve as a reminder of our brokenness and God our treasure.


The relation between a horse ass and a space shuttle

It's raining in Johannesburg! I love it - just seeing God's cleansing power. He washes all the yuck and dirt away. He is truly the Living Water. I watched an interesting movie today, The man who sued God. In conjunction with that I'm reading Chesterton's Orthodoxy - it's a slow read with a lot of witt and substance. I found a few cool websites, one of them is Organic church. I like the conversation presented by the blog. I really liked this article on the Horses ass here's an excerpt:

"The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4
feet, 8 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.

Why was that gauge used?

Because that's the way they built them in England, and English
expatriates built the US Railroads.

Why did the English build them like that?

Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built
the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did "they" use that gauge then?

Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and
tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel

Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?


Choosing a name for our community

We had a lot of fun choosing a name for our community. Jacques came up with the brilliant idea of choosing movie names:

Tomb Raiders
There's something about Mary (excellent for a Catholic group)

I really don't like ministries who are named after the founders, in response to this Jacques proposed:

The Thomas Crown affair :)

Maybe you have some movie names as a suggestion?



Every Tuesday I meet with my friend Hermann – some of you know him as Slimer. Our favorite meeting place is a place called Wimpy. A fast-food chain in South Africa we go there because of the mega coffee. A huge cup of Java!

Wimpy is also a wonderful place for kids and some parents use it as a venue for hosting children parties. Yesterday we had such a party in our midst. For two hours we watched (and listened) to twenty kids playing, screaming, running and basically tearing the place down. They had no care in the world, their biggest challenge we found out was the fact that the girls were kissing the boys in the playpen. Every now and then a parent would arrive to pick up their precious kid. Every kid convinced their particular parental unit to wait for them because they just wanted to PARTY. It was a display of brutal partying, no stops continual energy. It reminded me that we as Christians are called to be like children and to throw a vicious ENERGETIC party!

Brennan Manning says that “Heaven will be filled with five-year olds”.

The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. Mark (10 Message)


The static at the gymnasium

I started reading Michener’s book ‘The Source’ today and its gripping stuff. It explores the Jews and their history through captivating story. I just returned from the gymnasium, went at 20:00 thinking I would miss the stampede – I was mistaken. While biking I listened to a tape by Eugene Peterson that he taught at Regent on the Beatitudes, good stuff! Tonight was on meekness.

While listening on my walkman I picked up a lot of cell phone static. It seems like a lot of people can’t gym without being in contact with the people out there not exercising. A few years ago I wrote this modern paraphrase on the Parable of the sower.

The parable of the cell phone

A communicator went out to deliver a message. As he was phoning cell phones, the receiver saw the caller’s identity and thought to himself “I really don’t want to hear from him”. Therefore he hung up.

As he was phoning the next cell phone, the receiver listened to the message, and really got excited about the communiqué. He decided to save the message, and after 2 days, the message was deleted.

The other cell phone, rang in the movie house, so the person loudly answered the call, and listened to the message, it really touched his heart, right at that moment, he received another call, and he placed the first call on hold, the second call was a promotion for Hawaii, he immediately disconnected the first call and bought a ticket for a luxurious holiday.

The last call was received with an understanding and loving attitude, the person wanted to hear more and therefore scheduled an appointment for a lunch to here more. Are you receiving my messages, and really listening?


We found a place to meet as a group. It’s a community hall in a neighborhood called Berario Recreation Centre. This is so exciting because we will share this place with the community at large. Classes like belly dancing, yoga, pottery, pre- and postnatal and Tai Chi Chuan Qigong (whatever that might be) will be in the same place. Yippee and thank you God!!

By the way the picture has nothing to do with the post, I took it in Mozambique and found it today

WWLD? What would Luther do?

Today we remember Martin Luther who reformed the structures that squeezed the life out of the God life. He was a man who confronted the system head-on. Like Jesus cleansing the temple – driving the misdirecting souls away to prevent the happening of misdirected souls.

Some people contend that we need another reformation. I think I agree. We need to reform systems that:

- Reduce the God life to a repetitious attendance of a Sunday meeting
- Shrinks the gospel to “fire insurance”
- Define the church more by a noun than a verb
- Create ‘safe’ Christian ghettos
- Promote leadership structures that are power hungry and archaic
- Are an accumulation of us, me and you THUS we need to reform OURSELVES


I met up with an old friend today. We ‘accepted’ Christ at almost the same time – I walked into the life of ministry he studied psychology. He lives with his girlfriend and in the first five minutes of our conversation apologized profusely. A few months ago the two of them went to a church service, it was his girlfriend’s first. The whole service was designed around premarital sex – that it’s wrong. She decided that she’ll never do the church thing again.

He is experiencing an awakening in his journey with God and needs a place to work out how to read the map a traveling partner. He yearns for a place where he can have long dialogues about Christ and how He can make a difference in everyday life. We discussed the modern reduction of the gospel and its effects on people – accept Jesus yahoo now you’re going to heaven, just wait to die – we unpacked a little of what it means to be swallowed in the tidal wave of God’s Kingdom.

It highlighted to me how irrelevant church without a forum for dialogue is. People can’t be boxed into a forty five minute of mass direction. Sure it works sometimes but not all the time.

I’m so excited to be available for listening, asking questions and reflecting and prayer. It’s a pleasure.


A jog down memory lane

While jogging in the neighborhood on Saturday I enjoyed the calm of Randburg. It was a blistering hot day and the trees offered some spots of shade, a wonderful respite from the sun. Johannesburg has a lot of trees, in fact its one of the biggest man made forests in the world.

I jogged through memory lane. So much has changed from the time I rode my bike through the same streets. For one there is a lot of diversity now. Windsor, one of the areas from my house is now a totally integrated area. People of diverse backgrounds and cultures live as neighbors – unheard of when I was a boy.

We used to go to this one store we call it a café on the corner across the video store. My dad prohibited us from playing arcade games there – he said ‘all kinds of weird people do that.’ Ten years after that I joined one of my friends he played twenty rand worth of games and then he shoplifted the same amount. He justified it by saying that ‘he already paid by playing the game’.

My brother Dirk loves cream. One of his favorite tricks was to make a small hole in the bottom of the can and through it systematically empty the can. Mother wanted to bake one day and guess her surprise when she found an empty unopened can! Dirk had to go to the café and buy new cream. The café is now a supermarket and the video shop is gone.

While jogging I was thinking about our propensity towards exercise in the twenty first century. It’s weird that most of us ‘work’ without using our muscles or aerobic capacities. Exercise is something we have to do in addition to our work, because our work don’t give it t us. Man this hill is tough!

Diagonally across my parents’ house is the suburb’s swimming pool. I can still remember the day I rode my bike to the pool and saw one of the most absurd scenes. I was in middle school at the time and a high school kid rode a fifty cc motorbike straight into the pool, everyone scattered out of the water. The disturbed individual who accomplished this feat was a scary man. I walked to the school and had to pass him every day. His name was Derrick and he always dragged a chain behind him, word on the street was that he was part of the occult. He is now married to one of my friends.

Anyway, as I jogged the last hundred meters to the house a family in a brand new Audi stopped me and a little black kid poked his head out of the window. In perfect English he asked me, ‘Sir, could you please give me directions to the swimming pool?’ I gave them directions and just wondered how things would have changed when that ten year old turned thirty. What he would experience at the pool?

South Africa changed a lot in the last few years, democracy is a good thing, and we are a rainbow nation! I am proud to be a part of it.


In our effort to advance the Kingdom and partake in the building of the church it's so easy to get trapped in the structures used by God to advance His message. A week can pass without talking about Jesus, everything revolves around 'church'. In doing this we smother the essence of what the Kingdom is all about!

I read this passage on the Henri Nouwen site which served as a huge reminder!

Being in the Church, Not of It

Often we hear the remark that we have live in the world without being of the world. But it may be more difficult to be in the Church without being of the Church. Being of the Church means being so preoccupied by and involved in the many ecclesial affairs and clerical "ins and outs" that we are no longer focused on Jesus. The Church then blinds us from what we came to see and deafens us to what we came to hear. Still, it is in the Church that Christ dwells, invites us to his table, and speaks to us words of eternal love.
Being in the Church without being of it is a great spiritual challenge.


A few months ago I read the Da Vinci Code. Here is an interesting review from Life's Prologue that runs counter to the hooha about the book.

I am rereading the Divine Conspiracy and really enjoying it. Dallas Willard is a seasoned guide on the highways of God. We are also listening to a teaching series of John Ortberg entitled “If Jesus ran the world”. The whole series is about the Kingdom of God. The fact that Jesus’ message was and still is the Kingdom of God and not just a list of minimum requirements for going to heaven.
I have so much to learn…