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.


Well Thursday was Thanksgiving, we snowboarded all day and hung out with friends in the evening. In the US the "holiday season" started.

Christmas is corrupted. Just look around us – consumerism galore. Bucks, merchandise and more stuff eventually clutter our lives as a result of what we now call Christmas. For more people than not, Christmas is a big chow-down with some friends and family, a time to relax and feast. The relaxation is due to a frantic dash during the early weeks of December to bake, buy and impress! But what if this feast is misdirected? What if there is something more, something real and precious? Underneath the clutter and misdirection hides an Adventure – The Adventure of Advent.

I’ve never celebrated Advent, it means: “coming”. Advent is the season celebrated by the church worldwide four weeks before Christmas and it is a time of preparation. Preparing as a church and as families, a time of reading devotions together and watching. Traditionally it consists of these simple elements:

A wreath signifying God’s unending Eternity
Four candles signifying hope, peace/love, joy, Christ.

Advent is a way to redirect our hearts to the real reason for Christmas. In Advent we have the opportunity to prepare ourselves to quote from The Christmas Book by Alice Lawhead:

Certainly it is a very different thing to come to Christmas Day having
prepared for it through special Advent services at church, devotions at
home, family lighting of the candles of advent wreath, the use of a simple
Advent calendar, and a four week focus on the importance of Christ's birth
than to wake up on Christmas morning with no such preparation, having spent
the preceding weeks thinking only of the many gifts to be purchased, cookies
to be baked, and decorations to be hung.

Why don't you join our family as we observe the season of Advent?


Yesterday I had lunch with a few of my friends, one of them Kevin has a band Cede, they're a great band, they lead worship at our meetings. Anyway, Kevin is a huge Denver Broncos fan, a few weeks ago he got passes to go on the playing field at Denver! He was amazed - he just stood there and saw all hi heroes walk around him. One of them was missing though - Terell Davis. Kevin loves Terell, he scanned the field for his man, but to no avail. Well, the game was about to start and Kevin, star athlete that he is didn't want to use the stairs to get to his seat and asked for directions via the elevator. Then it happened! He saw Terell and apparently Kevin shouted Terell!!! The man was shocked and shook Kevin's hand - Kevin forgot his sharpie in the car and could not get his autograph, but he beemed - he saw his hero!

Although the Broncos lost that day Kevin said that "he didn't care, because he saw Terell". I thought to myself, I wish I could have that attitude towards Christ.

I don't care, cause I saw Jesus

Lollie and I come from South Africa, a country ridden with crime : with that piece of background here's some Wednesday satire:

Ferrari recruits in SA!

Modena, Italy: Ferrari's F1 Team has fired its entire Pit Crew. The
announcement follows Ferrari's decision to take advantage of South Africa's
unemployment, and hire unemployed youths from Cape Town. The decision to hire
them was brought on by a recent documentary on how unemployed youths in Cape
Town were able to remove a set of wheels from a car parked in the street in
less than 6 seconds without proper equipment, whereas Ferrari's existing crew
takes more than 8 seconds with the right equipment. This was thought to be an
excellent yet bold move by Ferrari Management, and, as most races are won &
lost in the pits, Ferrari would have an advantage over every other
team.However, Ferrari's expectations were exceeded, as during the Crew's
first practice session; not only were "da boyz from Woodstock" able to change
the tyres in under 6 seconds, but within 12 seconds they had resprayed the
car, filed off the chassis number and sold the vehicle over to the McLaren

In the following few weeks I would like to re-establish a habit of being silent before God. The last 2 months have been hectic in my life and I’m finding that my identity is being fed by the shouting of the crowd. I yearn for the Wisperer.I’ve experienced in the words of Henri Nouwen, commenting on the Desert Fathers: “that every conversation tended to interest them in this world, to make them in heart less of strangers here and more of citizens.”
I want to stay a citizen of heaven – just visiting (which is a hilarious movie by the way)
I will hit the pause button of my activity and hit the record button of my heart.
“Speak, for your servant is listening.”

This is an excellent article. Dedicated to all normal people who I envy more every day :)


It's now 9:30 pm I'm working on my sermon, the notes are due tomorrow morning. Pressure! (why? - is it because it's still too much about me?)
Can't get this part of Tozer's prayer out of my mind:
"Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream."
I will work on part 3 of the vacation spiel tomorrow.

How the news media would announce the end of the world:

Sports Illustrated: "Game's Over!"
Ladies' Home Journal: "Lose 10 Pounds by Judgment Day with Our New Armageddon Diet!"
Inc. Magazine: "Ten Ways You Can Profit from the Apocalypse."
CNN: "World Ends; Women and Children Most Affected."
J. C. Penney's Catalog: "Our Final Sale."
America Online: "System Temporarily Down. Try Calling Back in 15 Minutes."

Funny but also sad! Too much media and glitz utilized in the kingdom at the moment - Marketing Jesus is sooooo dangerous.

The culture conditions us to approach people and situations as journalists do: see the big, exploit the crisis, edit and abridge the commonplace, interview the glamorous. The Scriptures and our best pastoral traditions train us in a different approach: notice the small, persevere in the commonplace, appreciate the obscure.
Citation: Eugene H. Peterson


I spent some time with AW Tozer this morning, reading that is. He challenged me to think if I'm really living in accordance to the truth that God is Master and I'm servant. Am I giving Him everything? Exalting Him above all other things, here's a prayer - it's hard to pray it - but it cleanses and recalibrates the heart!

O God, be Thou exalted over my possessions. Nothing of earth's treasures shall seem dear unto me if only Thou art glorified in my life. Be Thou exalted over my friendships. I am determined that Thou shalt be above all, thought I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the earth. Be Thou exalted above my comforts. Though it mean the lost of bodily comforts and the carrying of heavy crosses, I shall keep my vow made this day before Thee. Be Thou exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream. Rise, O Lord, into Thy proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my health and even my life itself. Let me sink that Thou mayest rise above. Ride forth upon me as Thou didst ride into Jerusalem mounted upon the humble little beast, a colt, the foal of an ass, and let me hear the children cry to Thee, "Hosanna in the highest." Amen.

I posted part two of the Vacation Ownership Marketing Spiel.


We are back from vacation and it was really WEIRD. We went on a cruise, here is the ship that gave everyone severe seasickness! Two days after the cruise our heads were still swimming from ocean motion :) Our vacation was really very interesting - nothing worked out! It was rich though, I will post a few of our experiences. Today I will tell you about our listening to a Vacation Ownership Marketing Spiel and how it relates to evangelism. Just click on the link.


Resting, eating, playing and reading - being and not doing - that's what we will be doing this week,
8 days of uninterrupted leisure - Sabbath. YEEEHAAA,


Last night we were at our Spiritual Formation class and it was great. Howard Baker teaches the class - if you live in Colorado then you should seriously consider doing the class! Click here for info!
We studied discernment and I discovered Vincent (not Lombardi). While I was listening i was thinking how different it would be if we use these principles for meetings in churches and families?

Here's some "helps" from him for making decisions:

1. We seek to be formed in the likeness of Jesus. Jesus is our model. We must spend time with him in consistent prayer. We regularly reflect on his actions (in scripture) and on the cross. We observe how he thinks, acts, chooses and let his way become our own.
2. We do what is in front of us. The Jesus who is hungry, thirsty, "in need" is not somewhere else. He is here. The work that we are called to do is right in front of us if we pay attention.
3. We choose the little and the ordinary and distrust the grand schemes.
4. We avoid concentrating on our sins and our failures. We keep our attention always focused on Jesus.
5. We know that God acts in a quiet and loving manner. We do not try to draw attention to ourselves or make a "lot of noise" about what we're doing.
6. We practice moderation in everything. "It is a ruse of the devil, by which he deceives good people, to induce them to do more than they are able, so that they end up not being able to do anything. The spirit of God urges one gently to do the good that can be done reasonably, so that it may be done perseveringly and for a long time"
7. We put in place the organization and the structures that makes it possible for us to do our work.
8. We act on what we hear in prayer - make practical resolutions. We leave Christ in prayer to go to Christ in the poor.
9. Our love is affective and effective. True charity includes both arms.
10. "Human success" is not the measure of whether our choices are right. We follow the humble Jesus who was ridiculed and abandoned.

What do you think?

My lover and friend
My wife cut her hair! She is a babe and I love her :)


I found this very interesting website today (thanks Kevin),
It is called Antithesis, check it out!
I especially like this funny picture :)

Here is some thoughts I've been wrestling with in the last months, please feel free to comment by clicking on Shout Out

Church confusion and addiction to pornography

Howard Macey once said,

“The spiritual life cannot be made suburban. It is always frontier, and we who live in it must accept and even rejoice that it remains untamed."

I love this quote! It touches something deep within me; it awakens a hunger for something that is missing in my life. I’m a pastor and I work in a “church” – the environment that I’m working in by definition tries to make the spiritual life suburban. This is where my confusion and pornography begin.

Church is obviously important to God but I’m wondering if my definition of church or for that matter if “our” definition of church is the same than God’s? In my daily conversations with friends and others, it seems obvious that I’m not the only one thinking about this – I find this comforting – but also disconcerting: what are we to do about the current situation?

I’ve discovered a peculiar relationship in the last few years, the marriage between the Body of Christ and the success of the Business World. The relationship can be termed as prostitution between the two and as a result an illegitimate baby is born! Let me explain. In the modern era, success as defined by the boomer generation, are all about organizational smoothness, capital gain, and huge buildings. This is also known as the ABC’s – Attendance, Buildings and Cash. Due to our infatuation with the world’s definition of success pastors compromised, the “holy” church bed was defiled – God was exchanged for a business plan – being wedded with God for a fornication session with the world of the Fortune 500 companies. Eugene Peterson once stated:

In this marriage servanthood are exchanged for consumerism and God for a puppet. The Lion of Judah are nothing more than a fluffy cat to calm our emotions. A successful deity ready to sequence our lives with a few anecdotes, so that we can live more “Successful lives”. Is this what God calls His Bride, or are we bastards – created by our misconceptions?

I just read an ad in a leading leadership magazine that reads as follow,

“This is such an important time for our church. What should we do next” , the answer: “Clarify your vision, Align your culture, Extend your reach – it’s as easy as that!

Not. Somehow I don’t think the apostle Paul would have come to this conclusion – especially if I read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10,

3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Comparing a current ministry magazine with the Bible is a shocking experiment – where is Jesus? Where is brokenness ? The upside down kingdom? The cross. Everything seems to revolve around methods and outward measurements. But the focus in the Bible is on Jesus and we are in the background - the jar keeping a terrific treasure.

“The church changed my life and other idolatries”.

It seems like the mega church mantra: "The church is the hope of the world", becomes a very subtle form of idolatry. Last time I read the Bible, Christ is the hope of the world. Christ is the treasure not the church. This mantra puts a dangerous reversal in motion: the church becomes the treasure and Christ is the ‘earthen vessel’ that keeps the treasure. The focus is on the church and not on Christ. Just listen to pastor talk: ”the church pays me a good salary”, “my church is really growing”, “the church has an enormous impact on people”, yadi, yadi, yadi.

A year ago my wife and I attended a mega church service where people gave testimonies of how their lives were changed. Six people shared their story, everyone ended with something like this: “And then the church changed my life”. Huh! Suddenly the subtle idolatry sounds like bleating sheep (1 Samuel 15:13-14). Jesus changes people. It seems like we spend SOOOOOO much time looking at what is church - a good thing to do BUT we need to spend even more time looking at Jesus. The focus should be on Him more than on us. If we focus just on ourselves then we will fall into the trap of trying to cover up our mess and start to live a fake life – we become addicted to pornography, church pornography:

Eugene Peterson writes:

“Parish glamorization is ecclesiastical pornography – taking photographs (skillfully airbrushed) or drawing pictures of congregations that without spot or wrinkle, the shapes that a few parishes have for a few short years. These provocatively posed pictures are devoid of personal relationships. The pictures excite a lust for domination, for gratification, for uninvolved and impersonal spirituality. My own image of the desirable congregation was shaped by just such pornography – a tall-steeple church with a cheesecake congregation. It alarms and dismays me even though I long ago quit looking at the magazines and lining the walls of my vocational imagination with the pictures, I am still vulnerable to seduction. (Under the Unpredictable Plant, p.22)

Might church be as simple as a lot of messed up jars emptying themselves to be filled with the ultimate treasure? Are we spending to much time painting the jar and making it cute and never actually filling ourselves with Jesus? Are we overcomplicating things? I am. Just wondering about you?


We went snowboarding yesterday, and to quote April Hook "only three runs were open and about 6000 people", yes there was a lot of people and to my relief - I can still ride :) Today I'm feeling the effects of summer atrophy in my body. Snowboarding uses different muscles than other sports, my foot hurts today - I wonder if there are some spiritual muscles in my body that is also suffering from atrophy?

I added a book review page to this site today. Harold, this page is for you!


Jesus is called the Word of Life.
In a sick society language is infected and polluted. When Confucius was asked about the most important of his
social reforms, his answer was "The restoration of language." Calling things by its proper name is crucial in a our
Kingdom. Words like pastor, church and ministry needs to be redeemed from the cultural contamination it suffered. Pastors are
not CEO's, churches are not buildings and ministry is not programs. Jesus lived the poetry and rhytm of The Word of Life.


Who is this person?
I just learned how to put images in my blogs. It is really cool.
For all my American friends here's a challenge :
If you can guess who the person in this picture is
then I will take you for lunch, my treat!
Have a good one.


WOW - I read an article today called Call of the Wild - It rocks, my heart really resonates with it. Here's an excerpt:

Evangelicals need to widen themselves from a privatized life with God - which saturates the evangelical ethos - where the spiritual life is divorced from ordinary life. The spirit of evangelicalism is individualistic and private. Worship services, retreats, and prayers seek sensationalism, ecstasy, escape, and quick answers to long-formed problems. If we pay attention to the inner instinct, we know this is backwards. The Christ life is corporate, slow, hard, and disciplined. Life with Christ cannot be lived (or formed) as a lone ranger. Nor can it be sustained on adrenaline. We need each other (whether we like each other or not). Together, the evangelical community has an opportunity to offer a different life - not a relevant life, but a holy life. To do this we need a commitment from local communities to be working toward a cultural renovation of the evangelical ethos.


I read this earlier today and it challenged me!

I am part of the "Fellowship of the Unashamed." The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I now live by presence, lean by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power. My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until Heaven returns, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My colors will be clear.

I am not ashamed of the gospel...Romans 1:16


Lord Be my Ear Candle.
I have a lot of wax in my ear - physically and spiritually - I have the spiritual gift of accumulating wax.Luckily there is a product that can help me! Ear Candles - check it out on the web!

Psalm 40:6 says :

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears you have pierced;
burnt offerings and sin offerings
you did not require.

But my ears have you pierced, Eugene Peterson says that the literate Hebrew says : Ears you have dug for me!
So there you have it, spiritual ear candles
Join me in praying : God be my ear candle.


I read this quote by Elie Wiesel: "Poets exist so that the dead may vote."
Poets link the ancient with the future.
Here's a cool link to the liturgical calender of the church.
Today is all Saints day.
Here's a cool link for info on Saints
A saint : Saints are persons who make it easier for others to believe in God - Nathan Soderblom