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.


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?