Tuesday 29 May 2012

Thought Picnic: Good Religious Observance is Always Accompanied by Common-Sense

Sights of London
This afternoon as I sat observing Londoners I saw something worth commenting about and if I expected the tweet to go unnoticed, I failed in that mission.
I robustly engaged all commentary and I have decided it is an issue that should be blogged.
With a number of #SightsOfLondon hash tags I tweeted:
#SightsOfLondon It's 26 degrees and you are in a black hijab. Diagnosis: Heatstroke brought on by religious stupidity.
Immediately after I posted this I was told my comments were inappropriate and that I was ignorant of the subject.
This was one area where I was not ready to back down to insouciance because of the many things that were clearly in that tweet that the reactions missed out of a lack of comprehension first, an inability to contextualise commentary and thin-skinned feeble-mindedness.
The context
The setting is this – the weather, it was hot and humid, without a wind, literally every was dressed lightly, I did not see any extremes of undress of exposure, but people were dressed to ensure they did not overheat, probably dehydrate and possibly suffer heatstroke.
The verdict in terms of diagnosis what I anticipated the possibility that if she was dressed and completely covered in black, the body will not be allowed the opportunity to dissipate heat and hence cool down bringing on heatstroke – if she did suffer heatstroke, one would expect that emergency services and doctors will come to an easy conclusion, but that was from my tweet a future possibility much as she might well never suffer heatstroke for all sorts of extenuating circumstances.
What my tweet did not say was that hijabs were bad and the completeness of my tweet made a clear reference to colour.
Common-sense: The missing piece
Then to address the other surrounding issues in terms of the reactions, I have no problems with people following some religious creed or diktat, it is a matter of conscience but even religious matters require the use of common-sense, that is what we have our intellect for, to be able to reason and make smart decisions in relation to our faiths.
The hijab allows for wearers to express outward modesty and chastity but it should not be at the expense of their well-being and comfort because that will be foolish – I can see no reason why that should excite argument apart from fundamentalist fanaticism that sacrifices every God-given ability to reason for a blind adherence to letter that has not spirit of recognising basic human circumstances, needs and situations – reason allows us to adapt – in very hot and humid weather, sure reasoning would have been expressed in wearing a hijab of light clothing and light colours.
The disabling power of ignorance
It is the same lack of reasoning in the application of religious views that had the Catholic Church in Brazil opposing the abortion of the pregnancy of a nine-year old girl where doctors had clear said she could not bring the pregnancy to term and the risk of loss of life to the girl and the foetus was very likely.
The parents were pragmatic and sensible enough to allow for the pregnancy to be terminated to save their nine-year old daughter than to risk the loss of their known daughter and completely unknown prospective grandchild. Sadly, they were ex-communicated.
The same can be said of the Mohammedan cartoon controversy where people were killing themselves in faraway lands for depictions that could never be true and they should have better not to accept considering the artists were not even adherents of the faith.
Feeble sensibilities
I am saddened that feeble sensibilities, ignorance and the wiliness to be easily offended to the extent of causing oneself undue and unnecessary stress over matters that are particular and easily irrelevant is stifling good discussion but if we allow a latitude of tolerance in our outlooks we gain the opportunity to show that our religion is not driven by fanatical observance to the exclusion of our faculties one will usually expect this of the supposedly better informed.
From time immemorial, religious practices of all faiths have been praised, debated, questioned, condemned, excoriated, blamed or ridiculed – it will not stop today and if the affected are not ready to cast off subjective assessments of the issues and they succumb to the disabling influence of sentiment that negates the use of their intellect and common-sense, they will invariably be hurt and the higher moral ground with be yielded to those who challenge the practices.
Worse still, their reactions might well take what has been questioned into the realm of the bizarre, the outlandish and outrageous bringing even more opprobrium on the matter.
In closing my argument, the tweet was written to a very particular situation and observation but it got blown up into a generalisation by the reactions that it would have been within my rights to take serious offence for the fact that the readers lacked understanding of my tweet and their comprehension of the whole context was wanting – on the other issues of fundamentalism, fanaticism and the use of intellect – the blog speaks for itself.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Thought Picnic: My Virtual Friends Are NOT Insignificant

Yes I will
Recently, I got involved in a Facebook conversation that was inspired by an article published in the Guardian titled, Should one attend the funeral of a 'virtual friend'? | Edward Collier.
The writer had found out that someone he enjoyed interacting with by reason of their mutual love of cricket had passed on. He shared how their virtual friendship had developed, his liking for his friend and the fact that he will definitely miss his friend before erring on the side of caution and his perception of social mores in deciding that he will not attend such a funeral.
I read the views expressed on the shared Facebook status and then added mine that appears below.
Virtual but not insignificant
There are many friends I have made online that I would definitely want to meet and if sadly I learnt of their passing and found that all that knew my friend were invited to attend the wake, the funeral or some memorial service, I will be there to pay my respects.
Through blogging for almost 9 years, on Twitter for 3 years and now on Facebook for over 2 years, I have connected with people who have gone the extra mile with me especially when I wrote from hospital almost 3 years ago that I had cancer and other struggles post-cancer - I got notices of support, flowers, visits, money and much more from so-called virtual friends.
Virtual they might seem but hardly insignificant, social media just provides another channel of interaction and we have to begin to recognise that it might not conform to traditional roles and norms of friendship but we relate, we communicate and some aspect of life is done with these people - just like with typical friendships, depending on depth of relationship, I will attend and hope that I have made a similar impact on them too to be willing to attend my funeral too.
Be touched and make real friends
There probably is not much else to add to this comment apart from stressing that my virtual friends are not insignificant, I have met quite a few people who started off as virtual friends and besides, I have made other friends through these virtual friends and established bonds of affinity that are just as enduring as those of traditional friendships.
It is important that we realise like I said in my comment that new ways of interaction will create new interrelationships that we can develop, grow and nurture. I believe we will be poorer for it if all we think are good friends are only the people we have physically met whilst at the same time we have literally poured our lives, our time and every valuable resource online into virtual friends and failed to make those beneficial and worthwhile.
On the strength of my comment, I made a new friend, on Facebook, we touch each other with every expression of our lives and we are enriched by actual, virtual or incidental friends. In other words, make the best of whoever you encounter and you can be assured of the best of friendships. That is my story.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Child Sexual Abuse: Have you been outraged enough?

Revulsion beyond words
Three years and a day to the day I wrote a blog about the apparent absence of outrage to reports and incidences of child sexual abuse, I find myself on the topic again.
This time, the news broke on Twitter about a video circulating of a 14-year old girl having sex with a 4-year old boy. The information shared in the 8 or so tweets was graphic enough with nothing left to the imagination – I was almost sick.
Then to muster the innermost bits of revulsion a human-being could dare to gather, a link was posted to the video for the apparent viewing of others and maybe for their titillation, excitement or just plain curiosity – it was absolutely wrong to do.
Is there any adult supervision
I am left aghast at the apparent lack of outrage and in some case the particular and peculiar interest in this video by some who should for all intents and purposes know better.
To think that someone on observing this devilishly heinous and criminal act thought it better to record the event and then post the recording online is beyond belief, it leaves me speechless and wondering if our society has suddenly become bereft of adult supervision.
I know issues of child sexual abuse are complex and difficult, too many times the perpetrators have walked free, the victims only getting physical examinations with no attention to their mental state or welfare and everyone will rather the whole matter were hushed up than report the issue, start criminal proceedings and face that unfortunate stigma that ensues.
Uncomfortable truths
We have to come to some decision on these matters because a good deal of the sexual abuse I encountered and those I have learnt of occurred under the roofs of places where children are supposed to be safe and secure –in their parents’ homes – one will think there is no safer place for a child to be and yet it is within that setting that many children have been sexually abused.
We also have to address another issue which is that of boys being sexually abused by females. It happens a lot and many think to have lost your sexual innocence to heterosexual sex being guided by a more mature female is a good thing. The fundamental is this – a child is still a child is still a child and if that kind of education was wholesome, legal and wonderful, it would be on the curriculum – it is NOT!
Children should not be having sex. Period!
Give ‘em therapy too
There is enough information out there about sexually abused children rarely growing up to have fulfilling and wholesome sexual lives. Many have taken serious sexual risks that have led to more complicated and damaged lives, sadly, the Genesis of such lifestyles are buried too deep in the psyches for remedial intervention except for some miraculous touch.
It goes without saying that we need to become more amenable to therapy, any one child who has been touched, violated or sexually abuse needs to be offered therapy, counselling and some additional comfort and help.
We do not just forget these things as time rolls by, we are literally marked by our experiences and even if we do not recall the horrors of abuse or the pleasures, if you may of pederasty, the amazing inner recesses of our memory have made an indelible record of the abuse and the lack of essential support that should have been offered at that time.
There needs to be more outrage – no child should have to suffer any kind of sexual abuse without the perpetrators being brought to book and the child getting all the medical, physiological and psychological help and welfare that can be gathered for their support.

Nigeria: Prove that you obtained consent or it's rape

On-going and progressing
I have been watching the case of the alleged rape of a young lady by a prominent Nigerian monarch which first came to my attention with the crudeness of cross-examination that asked that she expose her private parts in open court to judge, counsel and other witnesses to determine if indeed she had been raped and bruised. It inspired a blog titled What Rape Victims Face in Court.
There has been much activity since then, though for a rape that occurred in 2010 and a case running into its eighth week including adjournments and other deliberations, the pace of justice has been tardy but a substantive point has been reached. [Source – Vanguard News]
The monarch has no case to answer in terms of three charges of kidnap, assault and deprivation of liberty but having established that he had sex with the lady through his own admission, he would now have to defend himself on how he got the consent of the victim before making love to her – we have the tendency to suggest all acts of sex are “making love”, however, where rape is alleged, it will be utterly inappropriate to consider any inference of love was involved.
Consent is the crux
Now, we have returned to the fundamentals of ascertaining rape – the issue of consent and the burden has with this determination fully shifted on the respondent to prove to the court that there was consent first regardless of the emotion the respondent suggests accompanied the act of sexual intercourse that he says they both enjoyed.
I will also hope that the prosecution will make a stronger case of the rape charge even though the circumstances that led to the victim being within the lecherous confines of the monarch in terms of the kidnap, deprivation of liberty and assault would have helped.
I will suspect in explaining how he got the consent of the lady, elements of the dismissed charges might reappear, the monarch should not think he has gotten off on three of the four charges if he comes under intelligent and hard-hitting cross-examination.
Victim remorse is unlikely
Rape by definition is the crime of forcing another person to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse. As long as the victim believes she was forced into the act, she has been violated and rape has occurred, the onus is now on the alleged rapist to prove they obtained consent and the accusation is not one of remorse after the event.
Going from the information that went into the case when I first wrote about it, the alleged inducements and offers of a bribe by the monarch would suggest a level of culpability but that is just an opinion.
Students are wards of constituted authority
In another development, 35 students of a secondary school in the monarch’s domain were suspended for coming to court to protest the trial of their monarch when they should have been in class.
Much as it is important to have a sense of justice inculcated as part of one’s education, when under the supervision of an authority like a school, such protests would normally require the students obtain permission and they might well be accompanied by a teacher for both their safety and to maintain order – it would appear the said students did not follow that process and were duly sanctioned.
Obviously, with the case sub judice, I would hate to think the students protested out of plain sentiment and in support of the supposed entitlement the monarch might have had to force himself on the lady and for the justification he might have felt not to be held accountable for his alleged crimes.
Public opinion issues
It is also instructive that no mention is made of townspeople or market women having come out in support of their king and there is no telling that the said students were not paid to buttress the image of the king as having community support condemning his on-going prosecution and assumed persecution.
If anything, monarchies in Nigeria are no more as absolute as they tend to be portrayed, the courts are no respecters of persons regardless of status and rape victims can begin to expect that their alleged rapists will have to convince the courts as to the means by which they obtained consent before sex.

C3 Encounters 2012 - Day 3 (Session III) - Pastor Chris Pringle

Note: Day 3 of C3 Encounters 2012 consisted of 5 sessions of teaching from 4 pastors. Pastor Chris Pringle took the first and third sessions. Pastor Pat Ancliff took the second session, Pastor Simon McIntyre the fourth and Pastor Phil Pringle closed the conference in the fifth session. I will blog about each session in separate blogs.
Pastor Chris Pringle – Extreme Love
Jesus clearly had a heart for people when He prayed in John 17:9 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours” (NKJV)
In Proverbs 11:30 (Amplified) he who is wise captures human lives [for God, as a fisher of men—he gathers and receives them for eternity]
We are here to captivate humanity, not annihilate or alienate them.
We all know what John 3:16 says and the Amplified version of the bible expresses it well. For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([a]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.
However, reading the Message – the context of John 3:16 is even made clearer in John 3:17.
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
She then said that acts of human kindness in everyday things mean much more to people than amazing miracles.
The example of being Christ-like
Sharing a story about Mahatma Gandhi [A Must Read], who being a Hindu was quite affected by Christ’s teachings; he had this conversation with the missionary, E. Stanley Jones.
ESJ: Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?
MG: Oh, I don't reject Christ. I love Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ. If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today.
In another conversation, he said, “If Jesus came to earth again. He would disown many things that are being done in the name of Christianity.”
Pastor Chris said we must make it our responsibility to love all those that God sends our way. We are [using the Dutch words for kisses and hugs] the kusjes and knuffels of Christ to the world.
Love never fails
She then shared stories of the simplicity of meeting people, chatting to people and in the process helping people. To illustrate how people are so removed from the things of God, she prayed for a lady with chronic back pain and the lady was healed – the next day, the lady referred to the miracle as “that thing you did.”
We need a love revolution in our cities and love never fails.
Love expressed by the early church were feasts of charity – bringing friendship and kindness to our communities.
She exhorted us to pray that God opens our eyes to see those who God loves – then invite them to church, Jesus has got people everywhere. Sometime we just have to stop and respond, interact, engage and be involved.
Interest in humanity always captivates humanity.
It is simple
For instance, when Jesus met the woman at the well, all he wanted was a drink and it turned into a conversation, then a discussion about spiritual things, then she told her townspeople, they all came to listen and believed asking Jesus to stay with them for a few days.
None of that would have happened if he had prejudged her; a prostitute, someone who had had 5 husbands and was unworthy of being told about good news of the gospel. It started with thirst for a drink.
She closed with the Message version of John 1:14.
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes, he one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
With love we need to move into our neighbourhoods and reflect the love, joy and peace of God – like Father, like son, like Father, like daughter – generous in spirit and in all things.
The missing link between bringing people around us to God is us.

Monday 21 May 2012

C3 Encounters 2012 - Day 2 (Session III) - Pastor Lizby Warren

Pastor Lizby Warren, our senior pastor at C3 Amsterdam started the third session of Day 2 of C3 Encounters 2012 with a message titled, Building your life on revelation.
She said, in life there are circumstances that test how deep our roots are. Using text from Ephesians 1:17-19, she first defined revelation as the unveiling of something and then stressed what the work of revelation by the Holy Spirit in us is.
As highlighted in bold in the excerpt below, the Holy Spirit reveals:
Ephesians 1:17-19 (NKJV) that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding[a] being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power
She then shared 5 truths about revelation with us.
Truth 1: You cannot pinch revelation from someone else.
The revelation has to be yours; it has to be in you. However, you can fight to have what you see in others then as Habakkuk was advised, write your revelation down so you can see it, remember it, recite it and meditate on it.
Truth 2: The first revelation: The Jesus revelation.
Without a revelation of Jesus is His being the Son of God who came to save the world, you cannot enter into any other revelation of God, His purpose for your life or a purposeful life.
Matthew 16:16-18 shows that the revelation of Christ comes from God and that God builds His church on revelation and the revealed word.
Truth 3: The second revelation: The hope to which we are called.
We are called, predestined and prepared for a purpose, however, revelation is progressive and in it is both the hope of salvation and the hope of glory.
The seed that God has sown in us through revelation can no more be crushed, it has grown into a tree. The word of God in us must be big and the vision we have has to be supported by the wealth of the word of God in us.
Appreciating this hope requires that we surrender and surrendering does not mean God wants to crush us; rather, He wants to extend us.
We must readily let go – let go of your personal dreams, let go of your financial security, let go of your driving ambitions and let God take us on an incredible journey of life beyond anything we have ever imagined.
Let go and by doing so, unlock your future. We are most powerful when we surrender to God, if we fight God we end up sabotaging God plan and purpose for our lives.
Truth 4: The third revelation: What you now have as a child of God.
We are filled with the fullness of God Colossians 2:9 and we can have an “I can” attitude. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ[a] who strengthens me.
Truth 5: The fourth revelation: His incredible power available to you.
Don´t forget the power of your own story – our seemingly ordinary lives have seeds of the extraordinary ready to be revealed.
Revelation, she said, was not just for us to hold on to personally but also for us to help build others with. We are essentially designed to live out of our spirits and spiritual beings.
That is where the revelation comes into and where it begins to change things as we begin to understand it.

Sunday 20 May 2012

C3 Encounters 2012 - Day 3 (Session I) - Pastor Chris Pringle

Note: Day 3 of C3 Encounters 2012 consisted of 5 sessions of teaching from 4 pastors. Pastor Chris Pringle took the first and third sessions. Pastor Pat Ancliff took the second session, Pastor Simon McIntyre the fourth and Pastor Phil Pringle closed the conference in the fifth session. I will blog about each session in separate blogs.
Pastor Chris Pringle – At the Scent of Water
Pastor Chris started off by saying, “We were never meant to do this journey (Christian walk) alone ever.
Then she began to expound on the essence of a seed. Everything begins with a small seed and though we may not see it, the tree is in the seed, the complete DNA of any future situation is already contained in the seed.
The secret of the seed is to plant it and allow it to stay in the ground, it first dies and then it comes to life, sprouting then growing into a tree, with branches, bring forth fruit and so on.
However, it is important we leave the seed in the ground for this miracle of life to happen, if we cannot wait patiently to allow that seed to dies in the ground, be watered and then sprout and grow, the seed will never fulfil the potential it has, that reality will never come to pass.
The seed is also like a dream, the Holy Spirit is sending rain upon our land to give life to the seed and life to our dreams. However, we need to Speak it, Declare it and Pray it for the dream to be realised.
She said she learnt from Pastor Phil Pringle that “You have to see it (conceive it) before your see it (receive it).”
Let them in
Then she began to talk of the role of women as partners in ministry. In her relationship, she said Pastor Phil is the Vision-caster but it is the women that give the vision colour and expression.
The men are to let their wives get involved, let them in, give them a voice, let them share and help the ministry thrive and grow.
The men are to allow their wives to be released in their expression that can enrich the ministry further.
Sow your best to God and this is what happens to the seed. John 12:24-25 “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal.” (Message)
In sowing our best, we have to let go and let God take charge.
When you know you are in the centre of the will of God, the tree is in the seed and that seed is the seed of obedience.
Usually, it is when we are not ready that God is ready and we need to respond at that time. God sends His rain unto that seed.
We must dream big because dreams have a way of becoming reality.
Then she concluded with Job 14:7-9 (NLT)
7 “Even a tree has more hope! If it is cut down, it will sprout again and grow new branches.
8 Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays,
9 at the scent of water it will bud and sprout again like a new seedling.

C3 Encounters 2012 - Day 3 (Session II) - Pastor Pat Ancliff

Note: Day 3 of C3 Encounters 2012 consisted of 5 sessions of teaching from 4 pastors. Pastor Chris Pringle took the first and third sessions. Pastor Pat Ancliff took the second session, Pastor Simon McIntyre the fourth and Pastor Phil Pringle closed the conference in the fifth session. I will blog about each session in separate blogs.
Pastor Pat Ancliff – Discipleship
Pastor Pat said he will deliver a short bible study talk on discipleship and offered that Prophet Isaiah was a good example of a disciple.
He created the setting of introducing Isaiah [Wikipedia] as an 8th Century B.C. prophet during the time when Assyria was the both the superpower and state sponsor of terror in that day.
Then he talk about the insights and revelations that Isaiah received concerning Jesus Christ with Isaiah 53 showing in graphic detail the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross and what it was to achieve and in Isaiah 61 which talked of the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He then averred that Isaiah was mentioned in the Hebrews 11:37 roll of faith, he was apparently sawn in two. [The Martyrdom of Isaiah]
Using the text of Isaiah 6:5-9 Pastor Pat revealed what it takes to be a good disciple.
Conviction – “Woe is me, for I am undone!” Here, Isaiah was convicted by reason of what we learn later on, “For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”
It is interesting to note that the presence of the Lord to Isaiah did not bring condemnation but conviction, Isaiah had a realisation of his situation and he responded to it rather than resist it and offer excuses.
A disciple must realise his imperfections and inadequacies and acknowledge such.
Confession – “I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”
Once you have been convicted and you have realised the situation you are in, confess, bring your situation into focus by openly acknowledging it.
Confession is part of the process that presages repentance.
Cleansing – “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.”
God immediately offers cleansing to those who are convicted and confess their sins. I John 1:9-10 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
When we confess, we receive forgiveness and cleansing from all unrighteousness, we obtain right-standing with God by His grace.
You will not hear the Lord until after you have confessed.
Call – “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” When we hear the Lord it is a call to service and it never with details of what we are supposed to do until after we have accepted that call.
Pastor Pat said God usually gets us to sign a blank contract that is filled in with the duties and responsibilities after it has been signed, sealed and delivered.
The call will come with all that is necessary to fulfil it but we have to step out in faith trusting that he that called us is able to keep us from falling fulfilling His purpose.
Consecration - “Here am I! Send me.” Once we have been called we should separate ourselves for service dedicated to the purpose for which we have been called.
It is consecration that will determine the success of discipleship and the endurance in ministry, we need to constantly reaffirm our commitment and service knowing that we cannot in and of ourselves alone succeed with the help of God and those to whom we submit and those under our care.

Saturday 19 May 2012

C3 Encounters 2012 - Day 2 (Session II) - Pastor Peter Paauwe

Day 2 at C3 Encounters 2012 was quite a busy day, I have decided to publish my reviews of each of the messages in separate parts and blogs and not in any particular order.
Pastor Peter Paauwe – Breaking through your ceiling
Pastor Paauwe began his message by saying regardless of what you might have obtained or established, you can learn from anyone.
Then developing on the message he shared yesterday about commitment, he said, “Your breakthrough is your own responsibility.” However, that is determined by how we think about the situations we are in Proverbs 23:7 As a man thinks, so he is.
Our spirit already has the fullness of God indwelling; it is our thinking that has to change. The order to change our circumstances and see things differently, the growth has to happen in your thinking.
Your internal capacity has to grow to suit your vision, your faith and your skills. If you cannot handle small problems you are not equipped to handle larger problems.
In terms of scale, the problems are usually the same for small or large churches being able to maintain calm and peace are elements of your ability needed to handle problems and it comes with your recognising God’s commitment to you.
You stifle your growth if you think in terms of your problems; growth comes by thinking in terms of solutions, possibilities and opportunities.
Be driven by your big vision with confidence and using common-sense.
Internal ceilings and external ceilings
Don't run with the chickens; fly with the eagles.
Note: Pastor Paauwe taught in Dutch and so as he said we were at the mercy of the interpreter. I feel the use of ceiling is contextually analogous to conflict. Internal ceilings can be read to mean inner conflict and external ceilings can be read to mean external conflict.
He began to teach by saying he was going to compare and contrast two similar but also different personalities and how each reacted to situations and circumstances in their lives.
His chosen personalities were David and Saul - Saul had internal ceilings whilst David had mainly external ceilings.
How we deal with our ceilings will be determined by our Faith, our Courage and our use of Common-sense. [The Dutch word for common-sense literally translates to the way farmers do things.]
Saul and David were both were anointed and they both had prophets in their reigns Samuel for the former and Nathan latter.
Between selection and achievement
Saul was selected to be king from appearance but he had internal conflicts, he aimed to please, wanted to impress and was always seeking approval and adulation. We need to recognise that only one opinion should matter; that of God about us.
Saul had charisma and some physical presence but no character, skills or leadership ability.
David was anointed to be king with the clear distinction of not being chosen by appearance but for character and characteristics that were not immediately discernible to the eye. Then, he was still a shepherd-boy and there was where he learnt his skills.
Though it was not obvious what he could do, when the time came, the skills became not only useful, they were unveiled to the nation at a very public event.
You have to use what God has given you in talent and ability it will result in achieving something great eventually. A man’s gift makes way for him.
Seeing problems and seeing opportunity
When Saul saw Goliath he saw insurmountable problems, he did not inspire confidence and was fearful as Goliath daily threatened the armies of Israel; David even though he did not belong in the army he did not see Goliath as the looming threat, he had a different mind-set.
A man without inner conflicts always sees an opportunity and he is always ready to take on the world around him. Saul limited by the small vision of himself and very low self-esteem saw big problems around him; David’s vision was so big, he had a consuming sense of purpose and drew his strength from knowing who he was and conveyed a perspective that the armies of Israel had all the power of God to back them and lead them to victory. He did not once see Goliath as a problem.
We need to be opportunity-focused not problem-focused.
Though David’s brothers knew he was anointed to be the next king of Israel, they treated him with contempt but he refused to allow the non-recognition of his status to dissuade him from expressing the forceful truth of Goliath not being a problem.
When he was brought before Saul, Saul attempted to equip David with his armour, but David had never proved the armour, it was much bigger than him and it would have hindered him.
Be careful that you do not end up using other peoples weapons to fight your own battles, your ability to succeed can only be based on what you know, what you use and what you understand. It has to be borne of your personality and self-expression.
It is easy to be impressed with professional people but what takes you over is the size of your vision, your faith and your use of common-sense.
Be responsive
David had imperfect people, they were rough and ready but he worked with them, he embraced them, he loved them, he taught them, he encouraged them, he gave them opportunities and in the process he built his own army; he had good leadership skills.
Because Christ is in you, you can make the change you need - my heart must lead my head not the other way round.
If you enlarge your capacity to deal with issues, you will attract those with even more capacity to help you tackle bigger problems, circumstances and battles.
When Saul was challenged he always made excuses, he had no remorse, he was foolish and never quick to make amends. David however responded well to rebuke, he immediately recognised his errors, he had remorse, he repented, he quickly made amends, he was teachable, so God remained with him and he grew in stature and authority.
Externally and physically Saul looked okay, but he was a troubled man, serious conflicted, tormented by spirits, he was jealous, impulsive, obstinate, disobedient, always in pursuit of being honoured regardless of what he had done.
Stop making excuses, the revelation is within you. Enlarge the tent of your thinking. Isaiah 54:2.
Knowing where God is in the situation
David did not allow external circumstances to determine his limits.
Internal ceilings and inner conflicts are your responsibility, you have to deal with the issues, repent and readjust your perspective of things starting with your thinking.
External ceilings and external conflicts are also your responsibility; however, with a big vision, faith, confidence and common-sense those battles are easier to win.
I can feel dry but I am not dry, I have rivers of living water in me, the spirit dwells in me, the fullness of God is in me.
The responsibility is mine to read the bible, to meditate and to begin to see things the way God sees things about you.
God never moves ahead of you, God only takes steps as you take them, I always have to take those steps for God to move. This is the case with Joshua.
If he had not with the children of Israel marched round the walls of Jericho, the walls will still stand.
As long as you have limitations, you cannot make progress.
Keep in your rightful place for your protection
When Jonathan struck a covenant with David, he was already aware he will not succeed his father Saul to the throne, that David will be the next king of Israel. As long as Jonathan stayed with David, he was safe in the protection of God’s purpose and would have easily be honoured in the company of David.
However, Jonathan returned to fight alongside his father who had been rejected of God, he perished with his father in battle.

Friday 18 May 2012

C3 Encounters 2012 Conference: Day 1

How it began
We kicked off our C3 Encounters 2012 conference in Amsterdam to much funfare and activity with a great praise and worship session that soon moved into a time of prayer for Europe led by Pastors Simon and Valerie McIntyre who are the C3 Directors for Europe.
Pastors from sister churches around Europe were called to pray in their native tongues and we were given historical perspectives of German influence on European Christianity that gave birth to the Reformation movement through Martin Luther, the Swiss and Calvinism, the Dutch and the New Zealanders who feature strongly in our movement through Abel Janszoon Tasman and much more.
We heard prayers in German, then in French – In fact, I have never heard anyone pray in French, it was moving, I was overcome and then in Bulgarian for the Balkans, for Scandinavia and for all other European nations.
Making disciples – Pastor Simon McIntyre
The first session then had Pastor Simon McIntyre preach from the text of Matthew 28:18-20 where he stressed that disciples were made and not found, highlighting the fact that the seeds for church growth were in the local church itself but they had to be developed. We were to look for what was within and amongst us using that to grow our local churches.
He then extended the command to baptise through immersion to immersing people in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, immersing people in the word of God, immersing them into our lives through modelling the word and thereby being an example to others.
Disciples are chosen
Disciples, he said are chosen by reason of leaders identifying faithfulness or giftedness, it is usually incidental and it involves building on that identified potential.
There is a tough love aspect of making disciples, it is direct, strong, loving and confronting – good disciples respond well to rebuke and it works best when passed from generation to generation.
The lesson to take away from this message was the goal of a good leader is to see potential in others and work on making new leaders by example, deed, lifestyle and conduct.
The extraordinary in the ordinary – Pastor Steve Warren
The host pastor, Pastor Steve Warren took on the second session with a message titled – Recovering the extraordinary in the ordinary.
He exhorted us to have a childlike expectation of the extraordinary in the ordinary, working on text from the Acts of Apostles 2:38-47. A case of ordinary people who being empowered by the Holy Spirit sent to them on Pentecost suddenly performed the extraordinary; speaking in different tongues and adding 3000 followers at the first event.
He illustrated the concept better when narrating the tale of Syrophoenician woman who came to Jesus seeking healing for her daughter. She was at first ignored, then told He only came to save the Jews and went on to tell her it was not right to toss the children’s bread to dogs to which she responded the dogs do get to eat the children’s crumbs under the table – with that she got what she wanted.
Crumbs are as good as the loaf
However, the context was that she did not see the ordinariness of the crumbs but was able to rationalise that whatever was in the crumbs also came from the loaf of bread and therefore was just as good as having the loaf.
He said, “The level of your hunger will determine the level of the extraordinary that will happen in your life.
Praise, he said opens the gates of heaven to the extraordinary and he exhorted us to give thanks in everything according to I Thessalonians 5:18. Other text references he used in his sermon in relation to the usefulness and efficacy of praise and thanksgiving in creating the extraordinary from ordinary circumstances included Psalms 100:4; Psalms 95:2, Ephesians 5:20 & Psalms 34:1.
The Power of Commitment – Pastor Peter Paauwe
Pastor Peter Paauwe, a guest preacher continued from where Pastor Steve Warren left off with a message titled "The Power of Commitment."
He started by saying that problems and challenges are our stepping stones to breakthroughs.
Then he based his text on the narrative in I Samuel 30:1-15, the story being, David returned home to find that his city had been raided and razed with families of both himself and his men taken captive, though they were unsure of what had befallen them.
Pastor Peter made a number of assertions that prayer does not move God but that God is constant, unchanging and is always committed to us. However, prayer can allow us to change our perspectives radically to see and appreciate God’s cause for us.
As David and his men realised what had happened, the story says these mighty warriors wept sore until they had no strength and got to the point where they laid the blame of their predicament on David and were ready to stone him.
We were to reflect on the number of times were we met with adversity and looking for people, issues, situations and even God to blame for deserting us in our time of need.
Count your blessings
David however took a different tack, he strengthen himself by encouraging himself in the Lord, that is, he recognised the many times God had been good to him – in modern parlance, he counted his blessings reassuring himself of God’s commitment to his cause.
II Chronicles 16:9 says, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
The context of commitment suggests a heart at rest, a heart at peace and a heart confident in God rather than in panic, frustration and turmoil. We have to be fully trusting in God.
He said, “Our problems say nothing about how God is committed to us.
The text goes on to say David enquired of the Lord if he should go after those who raided his city and he was told to go and he would without fail recover all.
Act decisively and promptly
The pastor then said God does not speak in long sentences and the opportunity to take advantage of a word from God is only there for a season.
Case in point was when the Israelites were refused to step forward to take the Promised land at the first opportunity and judgement was visited upon them that they roamed the wilderness for 40 years before a new opportunity to possess the land.
In essence, we need to be decisive, prompt to act, maintain a spirit of compassion for within our doing right and doing good might lay the solution to the once insurmountable problem.
A fleeting moment of opportunity
They found an Egyptian who for three days and three nights had not taken food nor drink and he had been left for dead because he took ill and as it transpired when he was brought to David, he was fed and watered. On recovery and interrogation, it was discovered he was a servant to the people who raided the city, he knew what they had done and where they had gone.
The lesson here was that God’s keys to our solutions usually appear weak, for instance, another day of waiting, grieving or being inconsiderate would have had the Egyptian die with David and his men none the wiser as to how to obtain a fulfilment of God’s promise that they will recover all.
He averred that, “All the power of God is displayed in the weakest things.”
We need to be committed to compassion, committed to people and committed to recognising God’s commitment to us and it is in making that a lifestyle that we can obtain our breakthrough.
The offertory – Pastor Thierry Moehr
Before the evening message, Pastor Thierry Moehr from C3 Lausanne shared from Isaiah 54:2 for the offertory.
“Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes.”
He said we have an invitation from God to live a big life, we are all extendable but God can only take the space we give Him.
We need to give God the chance to be a big God in our lives and that can only come about when we decrease ourselves to let God increase. It is about stretching, extending, sacrifice and letting go, all that allows for God to do what he is good at – being God.
Forgiveness and healing – Pastor Phil Pringle
The final session of the day came with Pastor Phil Pringle, the leader and founder of the C3 organisation preaching from Luke 5:17.
“Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them.”
He preached the gospel of grace signifying who and what we are in Christ is not as a result of what we have done but by reason of our taking on what Christ had done for us.
Conversely, the learned scholars of the law could not comprehend the essence of Colossians 1:21-22 “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.”
It is accepting the sacrifice of Christ that allows us to be presented holy, blameless, and above reproach in the sight of God.
Achievement is the work of many
Then using the passage of Luke 5:17-26 he expatiated on how the power of God to heal was of no benefit to the scholars who had crowded out the place such that those who believed the power of God might help their paralytic friend had to find alternative ways to get to Jesus.
He assigned roles to the four friends of the paralytic; Leader (Had the idea that Jesus could heal his friend and proposed all the strategies to get to Jesus.), Helper (Joined in to follow the leader in what he had to do.), Intercessor (Arranged for the bed to convey their friend.) and Evangelist (Persuaded their friend to get in the bed to be carried to where Jesus was.)
In setting out this scenario, he said no one could achieve their full potential without the help of others stressing that unity is the place of power and the fulfilment of any destiny in the church is done in the context of connections and relationships with others.
Forgiveness presages healing
Having found they could gain no access to Jesus they let the man down through the rooftop having removed the tiles and the story says, Jesus saw their faith and then addressed the man that his sins were forgiven and thereby he was healed. [Note that it is the faith of the four friends Jesus saw in ministering to the paralytic - sometimes we need a helping hand to access the free mercies of God.]
As the scholars questioned what Jesus had done reasoning with their hearts about how he could forgive sin, the man who had believed with his heart that his sins were forgiven picked up his bed and walked.
One notable statement Pastor Phil made was that, “People are attracted to a non-judgemental environment.
He developed this by saying, “Unforgiveness lies at the root of many people’s illnesses,” and that “forgiveness and healing almost always go together.”
As he shared a story of forgiveness and healing he said there are three main blockages to forgiveness.
  • Not accepting forgiveness from God.
  • Not accepting forgiveness from others.
  • Not forgiving oneself.

He closed by calling people forward to be prayed for.
It was a very busy day, well organised and everything seemed to work as planned, I am sure most attendees were mightily blessed and all this was just on the first day of the conference. There is excitement in the air.
C3 Encounters 2012 is on a roll.