Thursday, July 24, 2014

Kingdom vs. Reign of God

This one's for serious students of theology. Something that one is bound to come across in theological writing today, sooner or later, is a distinction between the kingdom of God on the one hand, and the reign of God on the other. What’s the difference? Putting it too simply, the kingdom of God tends to correlate with premillennialism, while the reign of God tends to correlate with postmillennialism. These views tend to be typical of evangelicalism on the one hand (the old definition), and postliberalism on the other. Another way of putting it, again too simply, is that the kingdom of God tends to be a place that saved souls enter, while the reign of God tends to be a people who are moving towards shalom. The "reign of God" diagram is typical, and is taken from Missional Church, 1998. You may click on it to enlarge.

Action Day

I am enjoying seeing a house go up. Today was an "action day". They dug the septic tank (see the photo). Also, the makings of an attic are now to be seen. I climbed up the ladder in the background and walked on the joists. On Monday the roof should go on. OBSERVATION: Septic tank regulations are very stringent in this location, for the reason that our plot lies alongside a river.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Super-Church

A curious phenomenon I have encountered as a minister is what one might call the Super-Church. Supposing that one has several Churches in an area. One then has members of various Churches networking as if they were a Church within the Churches. Such Super-Churches may have an agenda, explicit or implied, which is then felt through the various Churches. OBSERVATION: This may be suggested by the theological concept of "territorial spirits", popularised by C. Peter Wagner.

Five Compass Questions

Yesterday someone sent me the following words by Martin Luther King Jr.:
Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?
Expediency asks the question, is it politic?
Vanity asks the question, is it popular?
But conscience asks the question, is it right? 
OBSERVATION: Which then applies to ministry? One needs to give warm consideration to what is safe, politic, and popular. Yet one should never become the functionary (safe), the schemer (politic), or the pleaser (popular). But at bottom, one cannot compromise what is right, even to one's own detriment -- perhaps especially to one's own detriment. However I would add this:
Vision asks the question, is it of the Lord?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Attentive To The Wife

Through most of my ministry, my wife and I generally followed this pattern: On my day off, a Monday, we would go out for breakfast together, and essentially the whole morning was set aside for that outing. Also, every day of the week, we would sit together for afternoon tea/coffee, for which we would buy some special treat. OBSERVATION: From the point of view of a wife, she needs at least this much attention -- it is, I think, written into the fabric of the universe. However, I know of couples in ministry who don't manage as much.

Accessing A Loft

E. and I planned storage space above our little house. In fact that's what got us started with the house, in faith -- the urgent need to secure some possessions. But as time went on, the storage space expanded to a little attic. Now the question is how to get up to the attic if you don't have room for a staircase. Those who have experience say that a ladder is a chore -- so are steps if they are too steep. But a cage ladder, that would be much easier to climb, enabling one to rest one's back against a wall on the way up. OBSERVATION: I have invented a pedal lift, in concept. However, I would need to speak to an engineer.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Langkloof

Son M. grabbed my Leica from me to take this photo of the Langkloof at sunset -- a 160km/100mi long valley near the southern coast of Africa. It is a fruit-growing region -- and interestingly, the only area in Southern Africa where a mummy has been found. I mean, the deceased kind of mummy. OBSERVATION: Off the camera to the right is the plateau on which my wife grew up. You may click on the photo to enlarge to VGA.


Yesterday I met a man who reminded me of a story my father once told. My father had attended a dinner where a hypnotist was present. The hypnotist got up, circling the table, asking the guests one by one: "Are you under hypnosis?" The answer was no, no, no. When one guest said no, the hypnotist said: "Sleep!" The man instantly dropped his head and slept. OBSERVATION: Perhaps the man who slept had previously been influenced by this hypnotist? Yet sometimes I wonder to what extent we all are under hypnosis. I ask this question from my experience in counselling. While there is a problem as to how to define hypnosis, here's an interesting attempt by Prof. Michael Laitman: Life Under Hypnosis.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

My Inventions

My hobby over many years has been electronic design. At least ten of my designs have gone into full production, of which a few are now well known. I think this would be the first time that I have listed them all (comments in brackets):
Baby Doll Swing (a number of variants in production)
Chinese Box (nice product, but lost the magic of the original)
Clap Robot (circuit stability was improved for production)
Firefly Strobe Necklace (one of many production models)
Lightstorm Flashlight (this company patented my copyright!)
Matchless Metal Locator (various design tweaks)
Revolution Microbot (an excellent production model)
TENS unit (100% my original design in production)
Solar Spider (the manufacturer cleverly removed my tether)
Wart Abater (also one of several production models)
OBSERVATION: I had little profit from these products, as I sold the copyrights. Some are certainly based on my original copyrights, while some are thought to be, on the basis of "good guesses". For instance, the photo shows a product (bottom) which is thought to be based on my original copyright (top) -- on the basis of its function, design, and date. (Many more of my designs have been produced as kits).

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Some people show a minister deep appreciation. Apart from appreciation for the ministry per se (1 Thes 5:13), every now and then, through God's grace, a very special bond is created which is never undone. As an example, there was one man in Church who, every month or two, gave me a small gift -- a book, or a chocolate bar -- and he bowed his head low when he handed it to me. A light came on in his life when he received Christ as his Saviour. OBSERVATION: However, a minister cannot afford to live for appreciation.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Literally Off The Map

The village Tesselaarsdal (population 2 000), where E. and I are building a small cottage, is literally off the map. A detailed MapStudio map, which shows even farm roads, shows no Tesselaarsdal. Not even Google Maps shows Tesselaarsdal -- only a Primary School Tesselaarsdal. People ask us how, then, we ever found the village. After being forced off the road one day onto a very long detour, we rescued a couple in a downpour. They asked us to take them to Tesselaarsdal, and showed us the way. OBSERVATION: Tesselaarsdal is about as far from Cape Town as Saldanha or Worcester. The co-ordinates of our new cottage are -34.3721, 19.5256 (as the crow flies, 10km from Stanford).

“Get Rid Of Him”

I shall, for now, pass over the mystery as to how I came by this document (pictured). A consultant wrote it up, in his own handwriting. He shall here remain nameless. He composed the document in preparation for a meeting, which was the first of a series of meetings. It is a document about me. The first point on the document is: "Just get rid of Thomas". OBSERVATION: There are people and events, unfortunately, which darken our lives -- yet the Lord brightens all. I will add this: consultants should be above board. One may click on the image to enlarge.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Judas Syndrome

This one's a re-post from 2009, yet no less true for added experience: "Charles Spurgeon said something to this effect, to his students: 'When you are in the ministry, look at the person who is closest to you, the person you trust the most. This is the person who will betray you.' I once thought that Spurgeon was being unnecessarily cynical. I found out, however, that this may be quite incredibly true. OBSERVATION: But this is not as though I am now a paranoid minister. I think it would be true to say that I minister as though Spurgeon had never spoken -- except that I would now not be surprised."

The Cost Of Building

I visited our rising house today. I am told that, in South Africa, the current price for a first-grade house with a flat(ish) roof is R2 300 per square metre. For this reason, E. and I designed a house with a small footprint -- a mere 37m² plus 12m² balcony. The price increases if one adds, for instance, cavity walls, robust windows, or strong joists (one sees all of these in this photo of our house). OBSERVATION: Having said this, we are creating additional space above, with an attic under a pitched roof. It will be 29m² at its base, and its apex will be a little higher than I am tall.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blog Gallery

There's a nice gallery of my more popular photos if one searches Google Images for 'Urban Ministry Live and Unplugged'. Surveying the photos at a glance, they would seem to be characterised by portraits, nature, social or religious gatherings, cross-culturalism, and 'iconic' buildings.