Thankfulness and giving

I’m sitting in Maxi’s, Hatfield, and I’m having a nice tallish cup of coffee. Thanks to my brother, Willem de Lange (I know him as Willie or “broer”), I am able to work on a laptop. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a battery, so I need a place to plug it in. And that is where the waitresses of Maxi’s came in. The took my to a table where I could plug in my brothers laptop so that I am able to work. Thank you Willie and thank you waitresses of Maxi’s, Hatfield, for making it easier for me to work.

When last have you been thankful for the little things in your life?

When last have you shown your thankfulness?

For me it will be relatively easy to thank the waitresses of Maxi’s. I’ll give them a slightly bigger tip than 10% and write something on the slip. (I hope that this note will advertise their friendliness so that it will increase their customers and they will see that as thanks as well.)

I also want to thank my brother. Thanks that you are trusting me with your laptop and that you have “downgraded” yourself in a way to your normal computer. Thanks a lot for that! (You better read this note!)

The real reason for this note is the cold… Did you feel the cold this morning? Do you appreciate it? What? You may ask how on earth can someone appreciate a cold like this!!

Well, this morning, as I stepped outside, I was struck by the extreme cold! I couldn’t help but to think of two things. Thank God that I can walk outside and FEEL the cold! And thank God that I have warm clothes to give some comfort against the cold! (And thank God that I slept in a bed last night which have a warm blanket and that I didn’t freeze!)

Hoe many people are out there who don’t have a single jersey, not even to speak about a blanket. A few weeks ago I walked into a shop, wanting to buy a blanket to give some organization who hands out the blankets (they do have a better knowledge of where the need is). I was startled at the prices of blankets! I’m sorry to say, I couldn’t afford one. I did put away some money, and hopefully I’ll have enough at the end of the month to go and buy one.

Have you ever sat at church and wondered “What can I do to help (the poor)?” I believe that that is a great place to start. But then you have to go out and actually find out! Do some homework. Search for some place where you can offer your time and your money! I hate it if people preach in such a way that I feel I’m doing nothing, just because I don’t have the money or the time that some other people have. I’m done feeling guilty after such a sermon. So I won’t try to make you feel guilty either. You know what it is you can do. Start doing it! If you can hand out one cup of soup a week, do that! If you can afford one blanket or jersey, buy that! If you are able to give one hour a week to serve someone in need, do that!

Different people also have different passions. My passion is to serve the youth, and especially leaders and hockeyplayers. Your passion might be to serve the elderly, or the children, or the lame, or the ….. you get the picture. Start looking for place who share your passion, and start to volunteer there. Even if it is with your one hour a week or one blanket a year!

I sometimes get the feeling that there are more people like me. People who are frustrated when they hear of these awesome ministries and immediately hear that they have to give; and then they compare their little to someone else’s much. Stop that! Stop comparing what you have, or don’t have, with what someone else have (or don’t have!). Just start serving people with the little you have. Serve God with the little you do have.

In that way God can actually start working through you – not just in you!

I’m reminded of a little boy who once had five loaves of bread and two little fishes. You can read the whole story in John 6:1-15.

I’d like to imagine a conversation like the following.

Boy: “Umm, sorry, Jesus, sir, I don’t have much. Only these five loaves and two fishes. I don’t know what good it will do. Maybe you could use it a feed at least a few people?”

Jesus: “Don’t worry, son. I can use what you give. Just watch.”

After He thanked His father, there must have been such a big amazement in the eyes of that little boy.

I have to wonder, if we are willing to give out little, if we would also stand amazed at how God uses that.

I also wonder about the widow who gave her two coins. It was everything she had! Did she ever see whether that little was used, together with many other people’s little, and much, to put food on tables and give blankets for the poor? I don’t know. The Bible doesn’t say either. But Jesus did point to her as an example of faith and faithfulness. (Read that in Mark 12:41-44 – isn’t it interesting that Jesus actually went to sit where the people gave their offerings, to wait for the woman, as though He wanted to give her hope that her little doesn’t mean nothing?)

Maybe that is the challenge: To give the little we can give in faith and in faithfulness. We might never see how God uses out little. But I believe that He will use it!

Discipline in your faith Part 2

Ek het vandag weer ‘n klein bietjie tyd gemaak om verder te lees aan Celebration of Discipline. Ek is in eksamentyd. Is dit nie vreemd hoe mens baie tyd het en dan skielik gebeur alles gelyk in ‘n kort tyd? Wel, hier is die volgende deel van die lees van hierdie boek.

Today I actually made some time to read on in Celebration of Discipline. I’ am in exam-time. Isn’t it strange how a person have much of time, and suddenly everything happens in a small space of time? Well, here are the next part of my reading of this book.

Ek haal aan uit hoofstuk 1 [I’m quoting from chapter 1]: The Spiritual Disciplines: Door to liberation.

“Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”

“The classical Disciplines of the spiritual life call us to move beyond surface living into the depths. They invite us to explore the inner caverns of the spiritual realm.”

Daar bestaan veral twee wanindrukke oor geestelike dissipines.

There are two misconceptions about spiritual disciplines.

  1. Die dissiplines is nie vir “geestelike reuse nie”. Dis ook nie vir een of ander geestelike leier eksklusief nie.

The disciplines are not for “spiritual giants”. It’s also not exclusively for some spiritual leader.

“God intends the Disciplines of the spiritual life to be for ordinary human beings… If they are to have any transforming effect, the effect must be found in the ordinary junctures of human life.”

  1. Geestelike dissiplines moet ook nie gesien word as ‘n boring storie wat vreugde wil steel nie.

Spiritual disciplines shouldn’t be seen as a boring story that wants to take away happiness or laughter.

“Joy is the keystone of all the Disciplines. The purpose of the Disciplines is liberation from the stifling slavery to self-interest and fear… Singing, dancing, even shouting characterize the Disciplines of the spiritual life.”

Die geestelike dissiplines is, in ‘n sekere sin, glad nie moeilik nie (alhoewel dit in ‘n ander manier tog moeilik is). Die primêre vereiste is ‘n verlange na God. Kyk wat sê Dawid in Psalm 42:2-3: “Soos ‘n wildsbok smag na waterstrome, so smag ek na U, o God. Ek dors na God, na die lewende God. Wanneer kan ek gaan en voor God verskyn?”

The spiritual disciplines are, in a certain sense, not difficult (although it is difficult in another sense). The greatest requirement is a longing after God. Look what David says in Psalm 42:1-2: “As the dear pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”

Diegene wat daardie diepe roep al beleef het van ‘n smagte na God en ‘n dieper verhouding met God, sal veral twee moeilikhede beleef.

Those who has experienced the deep call to God and a deeper relationship with God, will experience two difficulties.

  1. Filosofies / Philosophic

Die materiaele basis van ons dag maak dit so maklik om te glo dat ons nie verder kan gaan as die fisiese wêreld nie. Meditasie, as voorbeeld, word nie gesien as ‘n kontak met die egte geestelike wêreld nie, maar word gesien as sielkundige manipulasie (as dit enigsins toegelaat word!).

The material basis of the day has made it so easy to believe that we can’t move beyond the physical world. Meditation, as an example, are not seen as a contact with the real spiritual world, but are seen as psychological manipulation (if it is allowed!).

“Usually people will tolerate a brief dabbling in the ‘inward journey’, but then it is time to get on with real business in the real world.”

Selfs die beste wetenskaplikes, volgens Foster, begin erken dat daar meer is die materiele wêreld [Ek wonder of daar wetenskaplikes is wat hieroor sal wil kommentaar lewer?].

Even the best scientists, according to Foster, are beginning to realize that there are more than the material world [I’m wondering if there are scientist who would like to comment on this?].

“In intellectual honesty, we should be willing to study and explore this other realm with the rigor and determination we would give to any field of research.”

  1. Prakties / Practical

Ons weet nie hoe om die innerlike lewe te ondersoek. Dit was nie altyd waar nie. In die eerste eeu, en vroeër, was dit nie nodig om onderrig te gee in geestelike dissiplines nie. Die Bybel het mense opgeroep tot dissiplines soos vas, meditasie, aanbidding en viering en het geen instruksies gegee oor hoe dit gedoen moet word nie.

We do not know how to go about exploring the inward life. It wasn’t always true. In the first century, and earlier, it wasn’t necessary to give instruction in spiritual disciplines. The Bible called people to disciplines such as fasting, meditation, worship and celebration, and gave no instruction on how it was to be done.

Hierdie dissiplines is so gereeld gedoen, dat dit nie nodig was om onderrig te gee in die “hoe” van die toepassing nie. Vandag moet daar instruksie gegee word in hoe om die dissiplines te doen, juis omdat dit nie meer gedoen word nie.

These disciplines were done so regularly, that it wasn’t necessary to give instruction in the “how to” of the actions. Today, instruction has to be giving in how to do the disciplines, precisely because it isn’t done that regularly anymore.

“One word of caution, however, must be given at the outset; to know the mechanics does not mean that we are practicing the discipline. The Spiritual Disciplines are an inward and spiritual reality and the inner attitude of the heart is far more crucial than the mechanics for coming into the reality of the spiritual life.”

Wat is jou indrukke oor geestelike dissiplines? Gee jou indrukke, sonder om iemand aan te val asseblief.

What are your conceptions / thoughts about spiritual disciplines?Give your thoughtsm but please, don’t attack other people.

Discipline in your faith

I’ll be writing in English and in Afrikaans… Please understand this, because I have Afrikaans friends who are not very good at English, and English friends who don’t understand Afrikaans…

Ek het vanoggend begin met Richard Foster se boek Celebration of Discipline. David Watson skryf die voorwoord, en sommer van die begin af lyk die boek na iets wat ek graag sal wil goed deur lees. Ek gaan so deur die volgende 3 of 4 weke deur die boek “werk”. Waarom kom jy nie saam met my op ‘n toer deur die boek nie? Lees wat ek skryf, en deel dan met my (hopelik ons) wat jy leer of wil byvoeg.

I started this morning to read Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline. David Watson writes the forward, and from the start it seems like a book that I would like to read well and thoughtful. I will read the book in throughout the next 3 or 4 weeks, “working” through it. Why don’t you come on a tour through the book with me? Read what I write, and share it with me (and hopefully us) wat you learn or would like to add.

In die voorwoord skryf David Watson die volgende [In the foreword, David Watson writes the following words]: “One of the clearest symptoms of this [Westerse Christenskap wat verswak het / Western Christianity became to weak to “compete” with Islam, Marxism and Third World Christianity] is the sad decline in true spirituality among the majority of Western Christians. We have neglected our prayer life; we have stopped listening to God; we have been caught by the covetous spirit of our affluent society, and worshipped the false god of materialism. We have exchanged our knowledge of Theos (God) for heady disputes about theological words, or for religious or social activism. We have forgotten how to be still before God, how to meditate, trapped as we are in the vortex of modern life. We have lost our sense of direction; and, confused and bewildered, we know little of the exuberant joy of celebration enjoyed by God’s people down the centuries, even in tough and depressing situations. There is little to attract the unbeliever in the traditional, organized Church.”

Mense is honger en dors vir God of vir een of ander vorm van geestelikheid, maar die kerk as institusie kan die nie meer bied nie. Daarom draai meer mense na kultusse, oostelike mistiek of okkultiese praktyke in ‘n soeke na basiese geestelikheid, wat nie meer in die westerse Kerk gevind word nie. Nogtans is die ware lig van Christus nog nooit uitgedoof nie.

People have a hunger and a thirst for God or one or another form of spirituality, but the church as institution can’t provide it anymore. Thus people turn to cults, eastern mistism or occult practices, seeking spirituality, which can’t be found in the western church. Still, the true light of Christ will never be darkened.

Watson skryf ook hierdie merkwaardige en waar woorde [Watson also writes this remarkable and true words]: “If we noisy, busy and talkative Christians…” (is ons nie nogal besige Christene nie!?) “…could take some of the disciplines of this book seriously we could undoubtedly become much more effective disciples of Christ.”

As jy “dissipline” lees, wat is jou heel eerste gedagtes?

If you read the word “discipline” what are your first thoughts?

Dink jy dat ons as Christene goed moet doen om nader aan God te kom?

Do you think that we as Christians have to do things to get closer to God?

Dink jy daar is ‘n verskil tussen “goed doen om nader te kom aan God” en “goed doen as werke, sodat jy by God kan uitkom”? Wat is die verskil, volgens jou?

Do you think that there is a difference between “doing things to get closer to God” and “doing things as works, to get to God”? According to you, what are the difference?

In ons gejaagde lewens, dink jy daar is plek vir sekere dissiplines om ons rustig te maak sodat ons kan fokus om God te hoor kommunikeer met ons?

In our hectic and busy lives, do you think there are a place for certain disciplines to make calm us down, so that we can focus on God, to hear Him communicate with us?