Thursday, April 24, 2014

Forgetting About Me

I tend to forget about me -- as do many ministers, especially young ones. During the past week, I was booked off by the doctor for fever -- yet I had four long journeys. I prepared five messages, and had a string of meetings, a few of them intense or important. I am also thinking ahead to a short-term missions engagement -- starting tomorrow with a long journey. So on a to-do list this week, I put 'ME' at no. 2, following the Easter sermon, to ensure that I look after myself.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Travelling Secure

E. and I are planning a journey to Thaba Patshoa at the end of this week. When I have travelled in Africa and Asia in particular, I have travelled with a chain, and a siren. I tie a chain around my luggage and lock it -- typically locking it to something -- and I set a siren to trigger if my luggage is moved. Many would have been thankful for having done the same -- among them son M. who was recently robbed in Nairobi (Nairoberi, as he calls it). One camera lens, he said, cost more than his flight to Nairobi. OBSERVATION: A useful device is a portable PIR detector. However, they can be hard to find in Africa.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Rich By 193 Years Old

Son M., in a recent newsletter, referred to my new electronics anthology as a "popular" book. However, just yesterday he joked about my revenues: "Jolly good ... at this rate you'll be rich when you're 193!" (being a scientist, he did his calculation). But while it was a bad day at the ranch today, it was a good day for my book. I made a stash -- the first day since publication that it has shown real earnings.

Plundered

This past weekend, for a second time, tons of our possessions were ransacked and plundered. However our neighbours found a stash and rescued valuable goods. The first time we were plundered, a door jamb was smashed. I am proud to say that I did such a good job of bolstering door jambs that nobody tried to get in by a door this time. However, they did try to lift the roof, then took out part of a wall, and so got in. The alarm was still sounding when I got there -- buried under plundered goods.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ministry Thanks

Since I stepped out of urban ministry, I received a flood of thanks. Today I happen for the first time to be in the mood to put up some comments here -- just some that I received through this blog: "You have achieved so much." "You were an inspiration to many." "You are a credit to the kingdom of God." "You touched many people's lives, including mine." "You had a fantastic record of service." "You make us proud, dear Thomas." "A massive achievement." "An unbelievably triumphant success." "Aye aye captain." "A wonderful legacy". Not least: "You have a wife who is totally committed and dedicated." As they say in the ads: these comments are authentic. Thanks to those who sent them.

Mood Altering Drugs

When I was first in theological seminary, there were proposals that one should put LSD in the drinking water to pacify the population (this was also viewed as a potential terrorist threat). I would think that this has been tending increasingly towards fulfilment, though not as one expected it back then. By now, mood altering drugs are prescribed to about 10% of the population. I have seen studies which show more than 50% for a given profession. In many cases, this normalises people's behaviour. But I would think -- on the basis of experience as a minister -- that in many cases it empowers people to continue with lunatic behaviours where they should have crumpled long ago. OBSERVATION: We now live in a society which is pushing (or inviting) people beyond the bounds of the humanly possible.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Service

It was a good Easter Sunday in the Karoo. Easter attendance met somebody's best expectations, as every communion glass was used up. One of the congregation said to me: "That was one of the nicest Easter services I've had in thirty-odd years." The theme was hope: hope for the next life, hope for this life -- because of God's grace and power through Jesus Christ.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter

A warm happy Easter from the Karoo semi-desert. The photo, which I took earlier today, shows the central landmark of my parish -- the Towerkop. As will be seen, the Karoo is now green after rains fell a month ago, and gardens are beautiful. The Karoo is uncommonly quiet over this Easter period. Hour after hour, village streets are deserted.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Image Of New Life

I took this photo in the desert in the Northern Cape after rains. It has a special significance for me, as I carried the image always in my mind following the death of my wife: the ground-hugging flowers in a burnt landscape representing the many small graces and blessings which followed devastation. Everything after that seemed to be a grace and a blessing. "The flowers have already appeared in the land" (Song of Solomon 2:12). You may click on the image to enlarge.

NOTE: I returned to this post to delete it as lacking gravitas, but found it so popular that it stays. It must have spoken to others, too.

Not On Form

Approaching the Easter weekend, I just wasn't "on form". Tonight I went to see a doctor. He examined me, checked my blood pressure, pulse, and temperature -- and booked me off! I said to him: "No way!" Upon which he handed me a medical certificate, as if to say: "So there." However, if anyone in the Church should be looking in on my blog, I shall be carrying out all of my ministerial duties this Easter weekend, and with pleasure, God willing.

NOTE: The problem, in a word, is fevers. Caused by a less than common bug.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mission Messages

I have been appointed "crack of dawn chaplain" for the mission at the end of this month -- or whatever the designation may be. Today I spent some time looking over three messages which are needless to say on ... mission. I selected Jesus' Parable of the Marriage Feast (Matthew 22). Three themes that I may cover: the generous (and rejected) invitation of the king, why the king's emissaries are again and again referred to as slaves, and the curious (but important) case of the man who was bundled out of the feast.

Water In The Karoo

This is a post with a difference. Water is scarce in the semi-desert. Therefore our Church in the Karoo catches water off the roof, which is channelled into large tanks. At the bottom of the tanks are valves (pictured). Typically one waters the (succulent) garden from the tanks. There are good rains in the semi-desert, occasionally. Early settlers sometimes built massive tanks, to provide water all year round.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lesotho Solar

Today I designed and built my sixth solar power system in a year -- for the Church in Lesotho. Somebody asked me the unthinkable question: "Will it work?" It's a small 12V 2.8Ah system. I gave it a brief outing in the sun after I completed it, and it charged nicely. It will provide two times 80 candlepower all evening every evening and charge small devices such as cell-phones. OBSERVATION: For anyone who's used to one or two candles (or even fifty), that's a big difference. If indeed I designed it right, it should last five years non-stop -- or ten with luck.

Struggle Over A Hard Line

Sometimes, when at a loss as to what to post, I consider: what is on your heart? At the moment, I am struggling greatly with the question as to whether I should lay criminal charges against a number of people I have shown a lot of patience and grace, in fact month after month. I have sought the advice of authorities, and have sought it again. The advice is one and the same: under the circumstances, do it, and do it now.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Functions Of Christian Leadership

A fellow South African blogger asked me a question that I understood like this: What are the functions of Christian leadership? listed in single words. I'll list my fellow blogger's suggestions -- my own suggested additions are in capital letters:

. . FAITH
. . POINTING
. . FACILITATING
. . Leading
. . Feeding
. . Nurturing
. . Comforting
. . Correcting
. . Protecting
. . LOVING
. . SERVING
. . ADMINISTERING

OBSERVATION: Many such lists exist -- inter alia by Christian leadership writers Barna, Clinton, Engstrom. However, the list you see here is different, and I think more typically South African. It is different because it tends to focus more on the divine, more on the task, less on image or ideal, and less on influencing others.