Hope and wait

dbe49727f09d7a5eef99e84243c89211 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Psalm 62: 5-7 My hope is from Him… is it really? Psalm 62:1 reminds us that we wait on what we hope in. And so we must ask what it is that we wait on.

In financial difficulty do we wait on that tax break or salary increase? In loneliness do we wait on that text message or phone call? In sickness do we wait on that doctor or scan result?

In life do we wait on ourselves or on God?

I can hear the cries of an enlightened society objecting to the idea that God exists at all, never mind the naïve proposition that we should wait on Him. But one glance at our world reminds us that we have no answers to the questions that matter most. In spite of medical advancements we still have no cure for the malady of the human heart. While we boast in our own ability with a self-assurance that is evidently misplaced. God is still God.

Perhaps what we need is less enlightenment and more faith.

Faith that resurrects the heart and affects the world at its point of deepest need. Faith that understands where power lies and runs to the place of prayer.

 Our prayer reflects our theology

If we believe that God alone is our rock, our salvation and our refuge, then our lives will reflect that. Our prayer will reflect that. Not only in frequency but also in nature.

 A redemptive life in a broken world will endure the storms of suffering. If Christ is an anchor for the soul, prayer is where we tie the rope.

We wait on what we hope in. May we hope in God and wait in prayer. Much Love Matt

THE ONE

Worship is one of those words that evokes all kinds of emotion and imagery. Perhaps this is why some people don’t consider themselves to be worshippers. Because they don’t do certain things. In reality we are all worshippers. While worship is something we do, it is ultimately rooted in something we are. The question is not wether or not we worship but what we worship.

Worship is essentially the posture of the heart as it pertains to whatever we value the most. 

It is important that we discern what the objects of our worship are. Because they will determine the nature of our lives. For as long as we worship the broken “gods” of our own making we will experience the broken lives that they produce.

To live lives of authentic worship we must discover the authentic God for whom our worship is intended. When we see Him as He is, we will worship as we ought and our lives will reflect the healing of right devotion.

The invitation of Christ is to surrender our lives to God as He is, not as we would like Him to be. 

As we do this we will experience the freedom that He alone can give. I pray that we would learn to reserve our worship for the only God who is worthy of our devotion. In so doing we will be lead into the healing of His Kingdom and mobilised for the calling of His mission.

Much Love
Matt

Pray

cs lewis

Prayer is not about prayer. Prayer is about God.

You might think that this is obvious, but speak to enough christians and you will find that it is not. Too many of us misunderstand prayer as an end in itself rather than as the means to meet with God. Because of this we pray out of obligation in an effort to ease our spiritual conscience. This kind of prayer is often tedious and short-lived because we were not made for prayer.

We were made for God.  

I believe that God intended prayer to be a gift of intimate communion between us and Him. I believe that prayer is a space where the eternal invades the temporal and changes it. I believe that when we realise that God’s intention for prayer is encounter it will change the way we pray.

It is not only that we come to God, but how we come to God that matters.

When we see prayer for what it is. Not as obligation but as privilege. Not as duty but as Joy. Not as an end in itself but as a means TO MEET WITH GOD. We will run to the place of prayer with frequency and great joy. Our lives will be punctuated with moments of longing followed by prayerful thoughts, words and deeds. When our reason to pray changes our experience of prayer will change as well.

Prayer is not an exchange of information but an exchange of the heart. 

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:14-21

Much Love
Matt

CHURCH: Renown Church Maboneng

Church has become one of those controversial topics that people avoid talking about.

The question I’m asking is why.

In reality the Church is a bastion of hope in a broken world. I think the problem is that we have made church about peripheral issues and allowed those issues to divide and destroy something that is anything but contemptible or prejudicial. The Church; those called out by Jesus to live and share His gospel message in the power of the Holy Spirit, is essential, beautiful and beneficial. We are a community that offers the world an alternative narrative to the self indulgent, self destructive anthem of our hedonistic world. We hold up Jesus as the great example of life and life to the full. In his Grace he has found us, restored us and commissioned us to lose our lives to find them as His name and Renown become the desire of our hearts.

I pray that we would be the Church.

Much Love
Matt

Blessed are the peacemakers

“What will we say when our grandchildren ask us where we were?” Gary Haugen

The recent outbreak of Xenophobia that has gripped the attention of our nation, while tragic, should not come as a surprise to us.

“A Riot is the cry of the desperate” Martin Luther King

Xenophobia is a symptom of a far deeper brokenness that affects our country. We cannot hope for peace without working for justice. They are two sides of the same coin. The disparity between the minority and the masses in South Africa is an injustice that has yet to be effectively addressed. Many of us live under the false assumption that our current system is sustainable. It is not. We cannot continue to gather as small sectors of our society around banquet tables that the vast majority of our nation are not invited to. Current political and social constructs may have silenced the voice of the desperate for now, but they will not stay silent forever. If we continue to build our castles on the backs of Mothers and Fathers who can “serve in our kitchens but not sit in our livings rooms” the burden will become unbearable and they will shake it off.

I am guilty of this and I am determined to change. Can I invite you to do the same? 

The response of our people to offer relief and support to those who have been affected by the xenophobic violence has been phenomenal. It is a testament to the people we are, to the nation we are. But it is in the aftermath of the crisis that the real work begins. We must allow these tragic circumstances to shake us out of apathy. We must imagine a new society, write a new narrative, build a new world where the table has room for all.

If we do this it will cost us. It will cost us time, comfort and convenience. It will cost us our illusions of safety as we step into abandoned places to bridge social divides. It will cost us our pride as we listen and learn asking for forgiveness from those whom our indulgence has affected.

If we do not do this the cost will be far greater.

I pray that each of us would find the courage to change so that the tragedy of the past few weeks never happens again.

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

Much Love
Matt

Xenophobia

reconciliation

Please be careful as to how you engage with the issue of Xenophobia on social media.

I have not been to Durban or other regions of our country recently and so cannot speak about those places. I can speak with some degree of authority about what is happening in some parts of Johannesburg.

I live in Fairview, only a few blocks from Jeppe town. While the situation is tense and there have been various incidence of unrest and opportunistic looting, I have not personally witnessed the kind of violence that is receiving so much attention in the media. In speaking to many of my neighbours, they too are unsettled but have not experienced anything as severe as what is being portrayed. I am always amazed at the resilience of people.

We are a courageous people and even in the hardship there is hope.

Please check the accuracy of anything you share on social media and ask yourself why you are sharing it. It may only be a status update for some, but in my neighbourhood this volume of unverified here-say has actual implication. It increases tension unnecessarily and contributes to creating an environment which is primed to respond out of emotion when any violent element is introduced.

It is challenging enough to deal with the facts as they are. We do not need the added struggle of exaggeration.

I know we feel the need to have a voice on the matter. May I suggest that we do so in a responsible and empowering way? Instead of propagating rumours of unverified atrocities through the powerful medium of social media perhaps we could research ways and means to get involved in bringing aid and relief to those who are affected and share that. I know this requires more effort than a status update but In this way our desire to have our say can find its expression in social action rather than social commentary.

To that end here is one way you can be a part of the solution.

Primrose Church is situated opposite the Primrose police station.  Many foreign nationals have gone to the police station in search of protection. The church is caring for these people. I spoke to them on the phone this morning and asked them how we could help. They emailed me the following list of items.

Catering Tins of Mixed vegetables
Catering tins of Tomatoes
Lentils
Rice
Oil
Soya Mince
Oros juice
Long Life Milk
Containers to serve food in Eg. Hamburger take away – (double sided we halve them.)
Toilet paper
Margarine
Bread
Jam
Nappies

If this issue of Xenophobia so deeply affects you can I ask that you act. If you are unable to help with this work there are others who are working to offer relief, join them. If there is nothing in your area, start something. A further challenge would be to step out beyond charitable donation. Charity is often a buffer between the rich and the poor. Rather than simply dropping off a donation consider sharing a meal with those who are suffering. In this act of solidarity perhaps all of us can take a step in the direction of freedom.

Much love
Matt

Changed

Change

I’m writing this on a plane headed for Cape Town. As I sit here I think about the many stories that fill this cabin of crowded anonymity. Beyond the appearance of the well-groomed people who fill airline cabins on Monday mornings I wonder what joy and sorrow sits in the seats around me. What is the burden of the airhostess who brought me water with a forced smile and troubled eyes? What drives the two businessmen sitting behind me passionately discussing their meetings for the day? What scars does the grey haired man sleeping two rows in front of me carry?

People are not what they appear to be?

Most of us feel the gap between who we are and who we pretend to be. Sadly, rather than trying to narrow that gap, we settle for managing it. We hide in whispered conversations or behind cell phone and computer screens. All the while we smile and wave in boardroom meetings and at civilised dinner tables, grateful for the duplicity that the sociological “closed doors” of our time allow us. We are a Jekyll and Hyde generation worn down by the internal chaos of a soul in conflict with itself.

Jesus sees us as we are, not as we pretend to be.

In Christ we find an ocean of redemption that brings relief to our conflicted souls. In Christ we find love at work, bridging the gap between our intended nature and our fallen state. Management will not do when transformation is possible. And transformation is possible in Him. This is why Jesus sets the standard so high in passages like Matthew 5: 27-30.

 “You have heard that it was said… but I say to you…”

It seems as if Jesus raises the stakes from difficult to impossible. Why? Does he mean to burden us beyond what we are able to bare? Of course not, He sets the standard beyond our ability to eliminate any hope of self-salvation. Jesus holds us to a holy standard because He is the holy provision in whom we find a holiness of our own.

You have heard it said that suppression is the norm; but I say to you, redemption is possible.

Much Love
Matt