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.


Via A Kingdom space:

"Turn around, for the Kingdom is about to come". Everywhere - in micro- and macrocosm - the Kingdom calls and motivates us to turn around; to think differently, to accept paradigm shifts. Most people like to think what the masses and media are telling them to think. Turning around is a daily routine - Martin Luther said: "I convert daily".



I listened to a tape by Todd Hunter yesterday where he made the comment that we don't really know the meaning of freedom. Freedom doesn't mean the absence of restraint. He said that if someone showed him a big ball room with a piano and told him that he has the freedom to go and play on the piano - he will not be free. The reason being that he can't play piano, therefore freedom also implies the ability to do, to apply yourself in freedom activities.

In our journey as a community of Christ this 'freedom' therefore implores us to train in being and doing what Kingdom people can do. It reminds me of what Paul said in Galatians:

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.



The central word in the story of Jesus' arrest is one I never thought much about. It is "to be handed over." That is what happened in Gethsemane. Jesus was handed over. Some translations say that Jesus was "betrayed," but the Greek says he was "handed over." Judas handed Jesus over (see Mark 14:10). But the remarkable thing is that the same word is used not only for Judas but also for God. God did not spare Jesus, but handed him over to benefit us all (see Romans 8:32).

So this word, "to be handed over," plays a central role in the life of Jesus. Indeed, this drama of being handed over divides the life of Jesus radically in two. The first part of Jesus' life is filled with activity. Jesus takes all sorts of initiatives. He speaks; he preaches; he heals; he travels. But immediately after Jesus is handed over, he becomes the one to whom things are being done. He's being arrested; he's being led to the high priest; he's being taken before Pilate; he's being crowned with thorns; he's being nailed on a cross. Things are being done to him over which he has no control. That is the meaning of passion - being the recipient of other people's initiatives.

It is important for us to realize that when Jesus says, "It is accomplished," he does not simply mean, "I have done all the things I wanted to do." He also means, "I have allowed things to be done to me that needed to be done to me in order for me to fulfill my vocation." Jesus does not fulfill his vocation in action only but also in passion. He doesn't just fulfill his vocation by doing the things the Father sent him to do, but also by letting things be done to him that the Father allows to be done to him, by receiving other people's initiatives.


Amplifiers and how it distort our definition of success

We love mountain biking in Winter Park - a small town in the mountains of Colorado. Last summer we biked underneath a bridge to our favorite single track routes, painted on the side of the bridge were these words:

Cancer = uncontrolled growth

A plea by the locals to keep the beauty of the town and not sell out to the money-mongers. A desperate cry against the temptation to amplify their town.
Webster's define amplify in the following way:

Main Entry: am·pli·fy
Pronunciation: -"fI
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): -fied; -fy·ing
Etymology: Middle English amplifien, from Middle French amplifier, from Latin amplificare, from amplus
Date: 15th century
transitive senses
1 : to expand (as a statement) by the use of detail or illustration or by closer analysis
2 a : to make larger or greater (as in amount, importance, or intensity) : INCREASE b : to increase the strength or amount of; especially : to make louder c : to cause (a gene or DNA sequence) to undergo amplification

As I said yesterday - we went to a Switchfoot concert on Saturday and they had a lot of amplifiers there, expanding the decibels to almost unbearable levels. My ears finally stopped ringing on Tuesday evening. For two and a half days I walked with a distinct high-pitched noise in my ears this predicament made it difficult for me to be as sensitive as normal to sounds around me. The amplifier brought some pleasure to me whilst at the concert, but distorted my hearing for 2 days. I want to contend that when we use the amplifier in other areas of life (church growth, money making, influence, popularity) we can fall into the same trap. We may experience a temporarily exciting sensation, and then be scarred after that. It scares me to think of going to a concert like Saturday for weeks on end - I fear i will loose my hearing. Some of us have been exposed for too long to the effects of amplifiers in our life, it's time to sensitize our hearing again. Our Leader is known to be a Whisperer; our culture is known to propagate through amplifiers. What do you think?


A new Spiritual Discipline! Boob grabbing and smoke reeking

Saturday we went to a Switchfoot concert at 32Blue, a club in downtown Colorado Springs. After a refreshing dinner we went upstairs and waited for the bands opening for Switchfoot to be done .

Next to us sat two individuals - a couple - consuming unheard levels of alcohol and smoking 20 smokes between 8 and 12! They bought a Switchfoot-Cd and a T-Shirt. In my mind I deemed them not to be Christ followers, a thought I resented throughout the evening (how do I know). Between 8:30 and 9 our friends pointed out to us that the gentleman was squeezing his dates well ...... boob! Don't watch!

At 10:30 the torture ended, the opening bands were gone and Switchfoot started a thoroughly subversive concert. Pictures, symbols and invitations into the Kingdom life abounded through their actions and lyrics! At one point John, the leader of the band spoke on the reason for our existence, which led into them singing 'I Dare you to move'. It was amazing! Glancing to my left I saw my 'boob - grabbing' neighbor totally enthralled with the song - singing in full force, rhythmically flowing with the song. His girlfriend made funny crablike gestures from 10:40, the point at which I suspect she reached her alcohol intake saturation point. During this song she turned her gestures into a crab overdrive. I was standing there thinking this is AWESOME, these 2 friends will never come to our respectable fake suburban church, and here they are in a nightclub enjoying a christian band. Being infected with THE MESSAGE. Kudos for Switchfoot, signing with a new label and penetrating the 'secular' industry - their songs will be on MTV2 from this week on.

We went home reeking. Monday morning I wanted to wear the same pants I had on Saturday (a habit Lollie is trying to kill in me) and it smelled like smoke. I thought to myself today, I need to cultivate the spiritual discipline of reeking of smoke. Jesus called me (and you) to go, to invade the spaces of our friends who have not heard the wonderful invitation into a new life. Bringing a different fragrance to their spaces. And who knows when we go out we may even see someone doing something weird .... like ...... touching a boob :)


Asics and spiritual guidance

My left calf hurts when I'm running on the treadmill. This is due to the fact that I'm a pronator (I step inwards on my sole). I'm running with neutral shoes now, a generic of the shelf model, inhibiting my running style. Therefore I had to go to the local running shop - Runner's Roost. The people at Runner's Roost were excellent. If you live in the Colorado Springs area and need shoes go there!

Lollie and I had to try on several pairs of shoes and then do some running. Peter watched us run and listened to the sound of our feet hitting the concrete surface, guiding us to the shoe that will work best for our individual running styles. We spent an hour at the shop, learning and growing. Peter was busy teaching a new person at the shop to see the different running styles and how the shoes respond - a fine example of on the job discipleship!

I was reflecting on my day and came to the conclusion that sadly Christ followers spend almost no time at all looking at their spiritual journeys through the eyes of a Peter (at the shop). We forget that every person has a unique spiritual running style - a style that cannot be embraced by a generic formula. Spiritual Guidance or direction is the discipline through which we invite someone to listen to our Spiritual running. Helping us to optimize our training and therefore stretching us to grow in a healthy manner. I have a few people in my life fulfilling this function (a few of you are reading this - thanks), and through the grace of God some have invited me into their lives for this purpose.

You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the Christians there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. 1 Timothy 4 (The message Bible)


Marketing in the church? I've been thinking about this topic for the last few days. There is a sense of the ridiculous to think a logo can make you a 'better church'.

An inspired group of marketers might find a way of reviving a flagging business by modifying its image and offerings, but the matters of the heart, the matters of God, are not susceptible to such cosmetic alterations. The world's business and God's business are two different things.
The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is not inadequate technique, insufficient organization, or antiquated music, and those who want to squander the churches resourced bandaging these scratches will do nothing to stanch the flow of blood that is spilling from its true wounds. The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is that God rests too inconsequentially upon the church. His truth is too distant, his grace is too ordinary, his judgment is too benign, his gospel is too easy, and his Christ is too common.

David Wells

This is the shirt I bought today. I like the Prayer of Jesus. On a less rebelious note, I read this poem today - and it broke my heart,

Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood's slow loss,
And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon -
I, only I.
Yet give not o'er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.


Well the weekend is over and I am wasted, I spoke at the 4 services at Woodmen and at Pierced in the evening. At Woodmen we spoke about the Kingdom of God, and at Pierced on Jesus and Bono.

The Woodmen experience was interesting, I asked the 6000 people in the services to break up in groups of four for 2 different discussions. This freaked a few people out – some even refused to participate. Most engaged though, (it is weird how far we have drifted from the relational basis, the essence of our gatherings together).

Someone came to me after the service saying that she met a ‘real’ person for the first time during a service. She has been part of the church for 3 years and have been part of the superficial ‘let’s walk to someone and great them’ exercise numerous times.

Another person handed me a note saying that God will judge me and that I should go back to my calling to exhort and preach. Amongst other things the note said that I should stop using stories in sermons (sorry Jesus we will have to rip out most of your living from our Bibles).

I’m finding it increasingly frustrating to talk to people I don’t know – I don’t know their names, the rhythms of their lives or the scents of their kitchens. I do know that they live with me through the muck and yuck that we fall into and create ourselves.

I don’t believe in shotgun preaching anymore – In His mercy God uses it – is it really effective?


I'm preaching this weekend at Woodmen and it's hard for me. It is hard to keep authentically engaged speaking at 4 services to a host of people I don't really know. My topic this weekend is the Kingdom of God. Some interesting action at Jason's site on the subject. Earlier today I picked up some Kierkegaard, if you have time read this and tell me what you think:

Endless volumes have been written to show how one is to recognize what true Christianity is. This can be done in a far simpler way. Nature is acoustic. Pay attention to what the echo answers, and you will know at once what is what.
When one preaches Christianity in such a way that the echo answers: "Glorious, profound, brilliant, articulate Christian, you should be exalted with high praise," know that this signifies that this preaching is a base lie. Though it is not absolute certain that he who walks with chains around his ankles is in fact a criminal (for there are many cases when the powers that be have condemned an innocent man), it is eternally certain that he who by preaching Christianity wins honor and prestige is a liar, a deceiver, who at one point or another has falsified the truth. It is simple: It is impossible to preach Christianity in truth without having to suffer for it in this world.

OUCH, contemplate on this is eternally certain that he who by preaching Christianity wins honor and prestige is a liar, a deceiver, who at one point or another has falsified the truth.


Bad breath

Having bad breath is deceptive - for the person possessing it.
Thank God for people who tell me, 'hey your breath reeks'.
Jesus please help people who say behind my back, 'he smells' to tell it to my face.
Father; please forgive me when I tell stories of smelly odors.


Jesus and my bike

After a 3-month hiatus - I rode my bike to work today. I noticed so much more than when I'm cruising in my auto! Construction and changes, new buildings and signs - people and animals always there yet they don't enter through the thick crust of my hurry-conditioned mind. I smelled the scent of the oncoming spring - some dog crap I rode in (just joking) and the cement of a foundation being laid.

Last year I went on a fast - an automobile fast. It was amazing; I was forced to relinquish my right of control. One day I rode my bike to Barnes&Noble and a huge Colorado thunderstorm started it's menacing activities. I was stuck for 3 hours - forced to just be there. My first response was bitching and moaning after which I repented and relished in the gift of just being. I'll do the fast again this year - do you want to join me?


In the name of Cricket

People often ask us what we miss most from South Africa. Our answer without the need for long contemplation - diversity. Colorado Springs is a typical white middle class city. One of my favorite sports is cricket. Now I know my American friends have and immediate 'that stupid game that lasts for five days' reaction. Well yes and no. Yes I love the 5-day version of the game, no because there is a one-day version too.

The battle for the Cricket World Cup is fiercely being competed in South Africa at the moment - unfortunately it doesn't even make a blimp on the US radar. Guess what the estimation is for people watching it in the world?

One billion.......

I rest assured in the fact that when the winning team gets announced at the end of the month long competion; when the announcer says : 'And the world champions are _____" ; that it will be the true world champions and not just a domestic competition on blown up to international status (that's a whole other post for later).

Anyway on Monday South Africa played against Sri Lanka - and so I phoned up one of my American buddies and also A Taste of India; a restaurant in town showing the world cup. Now here's the thing; in a span of 2 hours we experienced a mixed cross-cultural experience in Colorado Springs! We watched the cricket with people from Sri Lanka; Pakistan and India. During commercial the different languages offered a cacophony of mingling sounds - it was beautiful. The cricket was a draw - eventually eliminating South Africa for the world cup. Although I was saddened by the loss; I was richer in the friends I met and seeing different nationalities unite - around Cricket.

Why is it that in the two and a half years that I've lived here; I've seen more integration in the name of Cricket than in the name of Christ through the church? Just wondering .......

Anyhoo - we have friends visiting from South Africa and we will be skiing this weekend (I will lay my sadistic tendencies aside and start them off on the blue slopes).
See you on Monday.


A Protestant dabbling with Ash Wednesday

I am a poor and wretched soul, deprived of history and the heritage of the Christian faith. Being ‘protestant’ I’ve never really understood Lent or ‘ash Wednesday’; so this year I wanted to experience what our friends in the orthodox faith have done for centuries. So early this morning I invited some friend from our community to explore with me, diving into the rich plethora of our history.

At 6:30 we all gathered at the church and dove into what Ash Wednesday is all about. We talked about the season of Lent and how on Ash Wednesday the priest would read this verse:

"I am nothing but dust and ashes" (Genesis 18:27)

And make the cross on the foreheads of the people. We read the liturgy for the day together, discussing how cool it was that millions of Christians read it today. Then we prayed and asked God in silence what He wanted us to fast from during the season of Lent.

After this I invited the people to make a cross on their foreheads – and here is where my protestant upbringing definitely showed! I realized that we needed a marker to make the cross! I whispered to Lollie to find some Sharpies, Lollie returned with the markers, finding us in a somber ‘holy’ atmosphere – me explaining that we will now use the Sharpies (permanent markers) to make the crosses. Lollie looked at me incredulous and said:

‘Tom, it will be on us permanently’

To which Nancy replied:

‘It will stay on till October!’

The ‘holy’ moment was ruptured by uncontrollable laughter – which I think made it even holier. Some of us made crosses on our foreheads and walked with it all day. Now I work in a church and it was even hard for me to walk around my fellow evangelical buddies with the smudge on my head. Later in the day I went to Starbucks and got quite a few stares, I could feel the vibes in the stare: This guy must be part of a cult. Then I went to Focus on the Family to visit a friend – oh my gosh!

The day showed me how easily I am ashamed to ‘show the markings’ of Christ – even in an Evangelical town like Colorado Springs. I am reminded tonight that:

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile Romans 1:16

Next year I’ll do it again – if you’ve never done it – join me - and millions of other Christians.


I have such an unhealthy desire to be relevant, to be seen and make headlines. Last night I browsed through Mark in the message and happened upon the following passage:

So Jesus kept to out-of-the-way places, no longer able to move freely in and out of the city.But people found him, and came from all over.

This phrase reminded me of a quote I read on the UNHEALTHY DESIRE FOR INFLUENCE AND IMPACT:

"In this condition we are trying to give to others an answer which we have not truly and deeply found for ourselves. The tragedy is that much of the vast network of Christian activity and service is bent on propagating an answer for people's needs and problems which few of those propagating it are finding adequate in their own lives. We need to leave our lusting for ever larger spheres of Christian service and concentrate on seeing God for ourselves and finding the deep answer for life in Him. Then, even if we are located in the most obscure corner of the globe, the world will make a road to our door to get that answer. Our service of help to our fellows then become incidental to our vision of God, and the direct consequence of it" Roy and Revell Hession, We would see Jesus, p.15

We are back from San Diego and the Emergent conference, it was fun. The highlight for us was meeting with a group of people at Jason and Brook's house. Meaningful stuff almost always happen in small communities where there is mutual sharing, eating and chilling in an intimate space. We were blessed by our friends listening and praying for us. We met some bloggers, Joel and Randy and Steve and his wife. Most memorable moment of the conference was a saying from Doug Paggit on target marketing.

"The only people who target their audience are snipers and tobacco companies" - it cracked me up.

Overall impression of the conference: I'm not mad...........alone!