Family

Family
Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Back home from America

Sun 29 Jan 1738: We saw English land once more, which about noon appeared to be the Lizard Point. We ran by it with a fair wind, and at noon the next day made the west end of the Isle of Wight.
Here the wind turned against us, and in the evening blew fresh, so that we expected (the tide being likewise strong against us) to be driven some leagues backward in the night; but in the morning, to our great surprise, we saw Beachy Head just before us, and found we had gone forwards near forty miles.
Toward evening was a calm; but in the night a strong north wind brought us safe into the Downs. The day before Mr. Whitefield had sailed out, neither of us then knowing anything of the other. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nearly Home

Sat 28 Jan 1738: Was another cloudy day; but about ten in the morning (the wind continuing southerly) the clouds began to fly just contrary to the wind, and to the surprise of us all sunk down under the sun, so that at noon we had an exact observation; and by this we found we were as well as we could desire, about eleven leagues south of Scilly.

Friday, January 27, 2012

PARAPROSDOKIAN OF THE WEEK

Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Once again doubt and deep reflection (Part 3)

But in a storm I think, ‘What if the gospel be not true?’ Then thou art of all men most foolish. For what hast thou given thy goods, thy ease, thy friends, thy reputation, thy country, thy life? For what art thou wandering over the face of the earth? A dream, ‘a cunningly devised fable’? O who will deliver me from this fear of death! What shall I do? Where shall I fly from it? Should I fight against it by thinking, or by not thinking of it? A wise man advised me some time since, ‘Be still and go on.’ Perhaps this is best, to look upon it as my cross; when it comes, to let it humble me, and quicken all my good resolutions, especially that of praying without ceasing; and at other times to take no thought about it, but quietly to go on ‘in the work of the Lord’.
We went on with a small, fair wind, till Thursday in the afternoon, and then sounding, found a whitish sand at seventy-five fathom. But having had no observation for several days, the Captain began to be uneasy, fearing we might either get unawares into the Bristol Channel, or strike in the night on the rocks of Scilly.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Once again doubt and deep reflection (Part 2)

I think verily, if the gospel be true, I am safe. For I not only have given, and do give, all my goods to feed the poor; I not only give my body to be burned, drowned, or whatever God shall appoint for me, but I follow after charity (though not as I ought, yet as I can) if haply I may attain it. I now believe the gospel is true. ‘I show my faith by my works,’ by staking my all upon it. I would do so again and again a thousand times, if the choice were still to make. Whoever sees me sees I would be a Christian. Therefore ‘are my ways not like other men’s ways’. Therefore I have been, I am, I am content to be, ‘a by-word, a proverb of reproach’. 
[continued tomorrow]

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Once again doubt and deep reflection (Part 1)

Tue 24 Jan 1738: We spoke with two ships, outward bound, from whom we had the welcome news of our wanting but 160 leagues of the Land’s End. My mind was now full of thought, part of which I writ down as follows:
I went to America to convert the Indians; but Oh! who shall convert me? Who, what is he that will deliver me from this evil heart of unbelief? I have a fair summer religion. I can talk well; nay, and believe myself, while no danger is near: but let death look me in the face, and my spirit is troubled. Nor can I say, ‘To die is gain!’
I have a sin of fear, that when I’ve spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore!
[continued tomorrow]

Monday, January 23, 2012

Prayer for 3rd Week after Epiphany

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
[Sourced here]

Saturday, January 21, 2012

An Invitation to Intimacy

An Invitation to Intimacy

Today we begin a new series: The Hour That Changes Everything. [This series is based on the book of the same name by John van der Laar. Buy the book here. I am however only using the readings and chapter headings and letting them take me where the Spirit leads] 

We are looking at Worship and in particular this ‘hour’ of worship and how this ‘hour’ of regular, committed, communal and corporate worship can be something, an ‘hour’, that changes everything, especially if we allow worship to be something that changes us.... transforms us.

Do you need to change? ............Now?

Your and my answer to that is either a humble: Yes; Or an arrogant: No.

Now because you and I are a people who (whether we acknowledge it or not) need to be transformed, changed…......... God in His grace provides us with many transformational opportunities, things if we embrace, change us, transform us….............. into what? Into the image of God in which we are created, which sin destroys.

Worship is one of those ‘transformational’ opportunities (others are Bible Reading, Prayer, Receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion, Fasting etc. ie Wesley's Means of Grace).

Our focus in this series is on Worship. Now, although we call this hour an ‘hour’ of worship and we have 5 worship services here every Sunday, I want to stress that worship is actually a lifestyle, a lifestyle that can change everything.

And the beginning of worship that changes you (and everything) is the recognition that worship is an invitation to intimacy with the Creator God who desperately wants to be, craves to be, died to beintimate with you.

Through and in worship, God extends to you and to me an invitation to intimacy.

The dictionary definition of intimacy is:
1)     The state of being intimate;
2)     a close, familiar and usually affectionate or loving relationship with another person or group (dictionary.com).

Where do the most intimate relationships play themselves out… in marriage and in family life.
And so it comes as no surprise to us to discover that marriage and family life are images that God uses throughout Scripture to express the deep desire that He has to be intimate with us.

The Bible begins with a marriage (of Adam and Eve); and it ends with a marriage (of Christ – the groom, to His bride – the church).
Jesus’ first miracle (according to John) is at a marriage, the wedding at Cana, and Jesus told a number of parables which uses the imagery of marriage. Martin Luther said “Marriage is Gods best way of explaining Himself”.

In marriage the 2 become 1… that’s intimacy. In the prayer that Jesus prayed in John 17, which Jesus prays for the Church that He knew would come into being, as He prayed then for you and for me, did you notice what He prayed: “Father, just as you are in me and I am in You… May they also be in Us.
Do you see the intimate language of marriage in these words, the 2 becoming 1.
Jesus goes on and says: “May they be one as we are one… I in them and You in me.

Intimacy…

God wants to be intimate with you… with me…! And worship is an invitation from God to intimacy and an opportunity for us to get intimate with God.

So the whole of the revelation of God to us in the Scriptures, is an invitation to intimacy. Jesus becoming human is an invitation to intimacy. The Holy Spirit descending into us, filling us (remember from 2 weeks ago not on top but… inside) is an invitation to intimacy.

And so Paul, writing to the Ephesians in 5: 21-32 says:
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.


Now, as we read that reading, we think to ourselves ‘Ah Paul is talking about marriage here and the relationship between husband and wife’ (and he is) but notice what he says in vs 32: “This is a profound mystery” (which it is, this mysterious union which happens between man and woman who are married and ‘become one’) but he goes on “but I am talking about Christ and the Church”.

"OH! Sorry we thought you were talking about intimate Christian marriages"… Well actually I am talking about intimate Christian marriages – because that’s the relationship that Jesus wants to have with you, the Church, His bride.

You and I are the Bride of Christ – it doesn’t get more intimate then that.
And worship is an invitation to get as intimate with him as He wants to get with you.
And by now you might be thinking: How is it that He wants to be intimate with me?

Listen to this beautiful reading from Ezekiel 16:4- 14:

4 On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. 5 No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.
 6 “‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!”[a] 7 I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew and developed and entered puberty. Your breasts had formed and your hair had grown, yet you were stark naked.
 8 “‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine.
 9 “‘I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. 10 I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. 11 I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, 12 and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. 14And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD.

Here God describes Jerusalem, describes His people before He reached out to them. It’s a love story, there are elements of the erotic in these verses as God describes His desire to be intimate with wayward people like you and me.

Notice:
4+5 – Here God describes our sinful human nature and how this makes us lost, unwanted orphans with nothing but death filling us.
6 – Isn’t that beautiful. The giver of Life says to you and to me: LIVE.
7 – ‘I made you grow
8 – Here is described the Old Testament Marriage covenant.
I hope you realize by now that this reading is describing you and me and our relationship with the Lord. We are perhaps lost, like that cast out baby. We are perhaps busy growing. Perhaps we are already in a covenant relationship with God.
Listen to what He does now:
9 – A reference to the cleansing that God will later provide in Christ.
10 – A reference to what Paul will later call ‘Putting on Christ’.
11 + 12 – A refererence to the God who gifts us with Spiritual Gifts and Fruit.
13 –A reference to the God who provides for us, who gives us each day our daily bread.
14 – A reference to the God who makes your (my) beauty PERFECT.

Tell me all this doesn’t make you feel loved, intimately, by God.

And if perhaps it doesn’t make you feel loved by God, then allow me to say this…

You are loved intimately by God.

Whether you have made a commitment to God in Christ or not…,

You are loved passionately by God.

Whether or not you even know or believe that God exists, let alone cares for you, 
God loves even you 

Worship… here, for this ‘hour’… or anywhere, for anytime, is an invitation to intimacy with our God who loves us intimately.

I urge you now to respond in a way that is fitting for you, to the God who loves you intimately.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dreadful storm as Wesley flees America Part 2

About noon the next day (i.e. Sat 14 Jan 1738) it ceased. But first I had resolved, God being my helper, not only to preach it to all, but to apply the Word of God to every single soul in the ship; and if but one, yea, if not one of them will hear, I know ‘my labour is not in vain’.
I no sooner executed this resolution than my spirit revived, so that from this day I had no more of that fearfulness and heaviness which before almost continually weighed me down. I am sensible one who thinks the being in orco, as they phrase it, an indispensable preparative for being a Christian, would say I had better have continued in that state, and that this unseasonable relief was a curse, not a blessing. Nay, but who art thou, O man, who in favour of a wretched hypothesis thus blasphemest the good gift of God? Hath he not himself said, ‘This also is the gift of God, if a man have power to rejoice in his labour’? Yea, God setteth his own seal to his weak endeavours, while he thus ‘answereth him in the joy of his heart’.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Day 6, Friday, and the sixth day of 2012


24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, eachaccording to its kind”; and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 


From John Wesley's Notes on the Old Testament:

We have here the first part of the sixth day's work. The sea was the day before replenished with fish, and the air with fowl; and this day are made the beasts of the earth, cattle, and the creeping things that pertain to the earth. Here, as before, (1.) The Lord gave the word: he said, Let The earth bring forth - Let these creatures come into being upon the earth, and out of it, in their respective kinds. 2. He also did the work; he made them all after their kind - Not only of divers shapes, but of divers natures, manners, food, and fashions: In all which appears the manifold wisdom of the Creator.

Genesis 1:26-28  
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[a] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 


We have here the second part of the sixth day's work, the creation of man, which we are in a special manner concerned to take notice of. Observe, That man was made last of all the creatures, which was both an honour and a favour to him: an honour, for the creation was to advance from that which was less perfect, to that which was more so and a favour, for it was not fit he should be lodged in the palace designed for him, till it was completely fitted and furnished for his reception. Man, as soon as he was made, had the whole visible creation before him, both to contemplate, and to take the comfort of. That man's creation was a mere signal act of divine wisdom and power, than that of the other creatures. The narrative of it is introduced with solemnity, and a manifest distinction from the rest. Hitherto it had been said, Let there be light, and Let there be a firmament: but now the word of command is turned into a word of consultation, Let us make man - For whose sake the rest of the creatures were made. Man was to be a creature different from all that had been hitherto made. Flesh and spirit, heaven and earth must be put together in him, and he must be allied to both worlds. And therefore God himself not only undertakes to make, but is pleased so to express himself, as if he called a council to consider of the making of him; Let us make man - The three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, consult about it, and concur in it; because man, when he was made, was to be dedicated and devoted to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. That man was made in God's image, and after his likeness; two words to express the same thing. God's image upon man, consists,

In his nature, not that of his body, for God has not a body, but that of his soul. The soul is a spirit, an intelligent, immortal spirit, an active spirit, herein resembling God, the Father of spirits, and the soul of the world. In his place and authority. Let us make man in our image, and let him have dominion. As he has the government of the inferior creatures, he is as it were God's representative on earth. Yet his government of himself by the freedom of his will, has in it more of God's image, than his government of the creatures. And chiefly in his purity and rectitude. God's image upon man consists in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, Eph_4:24; Col_3:10. He was upright, Ecc_7:29. He had an habitual conformity of all his natural powers to the whole will of God. His understanding saw divine things clearly, and there were no errors in his knowledge: his will complied readily and universally with the will of God; without reluctancy: his affections were all regular, and he had no inordinate appetites or passions: his thoughts were easily fixed to the best subjects, and there was no vanity or ungovernableness in them. And all the inferior powers were subject to the dictates of the superior. Thus holy, thus happy, were our first parents, in having the image of God upon them. But how art thou fallen, O son of the morning? How is this image of God upon man defaced! How small are the remains of it, and how great the ruins of it! The Lord renew it upon our souls by his sanctifying grace! That man was made male and female, and blessed with fruitfulness. He created him male and female, Adam and Eve: Adam first out of earth, and Eve out of his side. God made but one male and one female, that all the nations of men might know themselves to be made of one blood, descendants, from one common stock, and might thereby be induced to love one another. God having made them capable of transmitting the nature they had received, said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth - Here he gave them,

A large inheritance; replenish the earth, in which God has set man to be the servant of his providence, in the government of the inferior creatures, and as it were the intelligence of this orb; to be likewise the collector of his praises in this lower world, and lastly, to be a probationer for a better state. A numerous lasting family to enjoy this inheritance; pronouncing a blessing upon them, in the virtue of which, their posterity should extend to the utmost corners of the earth, and continue to the utmost period of time.

That God gave to man a dominion over the inferior creatures, over fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air - Though man provides for neither, he has power over both, much more over every living thing that moveth upon the earth - God designed hereby to put an honour upon man, that he might find himself the more strongly obliged to bring honour to his Maker.

Genesis 1:29-30  
29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in whichthere is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.

We have here the third part of the sixth day's work, which was not any new creation, but a gracious provision of food for all flesh, Psa_136:25. - Here is, 1. Food provided for man, Gen_1:29. herbs and fruits must be his meat, including corn, and all the products of the earth. And before the earth was deluged, much more before it was cursed for man's sake, its fruits no doubt, were more pleasing to the taste, and more strengthening and nourishing to the body. 2. Food provided for the beasts, Gen_1:30. Doth God take care of oxen? Yes, certainly, he provides food convenient for them; and not for oxen only that were used in his sacrifices, and man's service, but even the young lions and the young ravens are the care of his providence, they ask and have their meat from God.

Genesis 1:31  
31Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

We have here the approbation and conclusion of the whole work of creation. Observe, The review God took of his work, he saw every thing that he had made - So he doth still; all the works of his hands are under his eye; he that made all sees all. The complacency God took in his work. When we come to review our works we find to our shame, that much has been very bad; but when God reviewed his, all was very good. 
1. It was good. Good, for it is all agreeable to the mind of the creator. Good, for it answers the end of its creation. Good, for it is serviceable to man, whom God had appointed lord of the visible creation. Good, for it is all for God's glory; there is that in the whole visible creation which is a demonstration of God's being and perfections, and which tends to beget in the soul of man a religious regard to him. 
2. It was very good - Of each day's work (except the second) it was said that it was good, but now it is very good. For, 1. Now man was made, who was the chief of the ways of God, the visible image of the Creator's glory, 2. Now All was made, every part was good, but all together very good. The glory and goodness, the beauty and harmony of God's works both of providence and grace, as this of creation, will best appear when they are perfected. The time when this work was concluded. The evening and the morning were the sixth day - So that in six days God made the world. We are not to think but that God could have made the world in an instant: but he did it in six days, that he might shew himself a free agent, doing his own work, both in his own way, and in his own time; that his wisdom, power and goodness, might appear to us, and be meditated upon by us, the more distinctly; and that he might set us an example of working six days, and resting the seventh. And now as God reviewed his work, let us review our meditations upon it; let us stir up ourselves, and all that is within us, to worship him that made the, heaven, earth, and sea, and the fountains of waters. All his works in all places of his dominion bless him, and therefore bless thou the Lord, O my soul.

Presiding Bishop Preaches at ANC Centenary Celebration Service,

 PB Preaches at ANC Centenary Celebration Service, 8 Jan 2012

Please note that I have sourced this from the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (Visit MCSA Webpage)


Sunday Service: ANC Centenary Celebrations on 8 January 2012.
Reading:              Ezekiel 37: 1-7.
Preacher:            Zipho Siwa
Greetings!
Introduction:
I bring you greetings from the Methodist people in the six countries of our Connexion: Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. Congratulations to the African National Congress on the 100th Birthday and being the oldest liberation movement on the African Continent. One 100 years is an important milestone especially for a movement which became the ruling party for 17 uninterrupted years. Congratulations! We stand here today on Holy Ground. This is a place where many prayers have been said, tears shed, joys celebrated and commitments for service made by those who were here before us. This is the venue which Thomas Maphikela and Rev Pitso organized for that historic meeting which gave birth to the ANC on 8 January 2012. I stand where Rev Mqoboli led the devotions on that historic day. We sit where those leaders sat and listened to Pixley ka Isaka Seme, making the passionate appeal for unity against forces that were dehumanizing the largest section of the population. I want to thank those who initiated the restoration of this building. I stand on the ‘restored ruins’ where people were forcefully removed by the authorities of the time. This is an emotional moment, not only for the ANC but for all the people of this beautiful land, continent and the whole world.
One hundred years offer:  A firm foundation for launching into the future, but also an opportunity to renovate. It is common knowledge that any building of that age is at a risk of collapse or showing cracks unless serious renovations are undertaken. The journey has been long and it must continue for the destination has not been arrived at. You are in our prayers. It is appropriate to start here as you launch into the next 100 years and it is African to go back to where “the umbilical cord is buried.” At crucial moments in the life of an African family – a journey to where the umbilical cord is buried is undertaken – either physically or spiritually where physical visit is not possible. I have observed especially the Aunts (oodadobawo) in the family and the elders playing a leading role. For instance the Aunt would take off the ‘head-gear’ (iqhiya), and begin to speak the words of truth about the family, the words of life, the words of confession and appeal for well-being – linking the present with the past in order to prepare a stepping stone for the future. Is this not the time to do this for this movement and for this nation? Let me lift up three things among many that come from Ezekiel 37.

1.      Ezekiel recognizes that it is not his own doing
The passage opens with the words: ‘The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley.’ I like the acknowledgement that it was not of his own doing. He was set in the middle of the valley by God.  Our jealous God who creates and sustains and raises leaders to work for freedom and justice – like to be acknowledged. The work of justice, freedom and mercy is God’s domain and God smiles and loves it when His people join Him in this activity. Note that we only join what God is already doing and we need to acknowledge that for without Him it is an impossible task. On that important day God’s people joined God in this place to cry and weep for freedom and resolved to strengthen the journey towards expressing the concerns and grievances of the oppressed masses. Who can say God did not hear?
2.      The second thing is SEEING
Down the valley Ezekiel saw the many dry bones (verse 2). He saw that the bones are many, very dry, and are on the floor of the valley. Seeing is different from looking. One may look and not see. On this occasion of centenary celebrations, we are invited to see. In the seeing the object ‘penetrates the one looking at it,’ and he/she notices and engages the object and at that moment becomes one with it. Seeing requires time – we read that Ezekiel spent time and was led around – backwards and forth, - looking not only once in order to understand what he was looking at. He understood that the bones were very many, were very dry and were at the floor of the valley. Verse 11 interprets the vision as a symbol of a nation that has lost hope and feeling ‘cut off.’ The 100 years land-mark offers us an opportunity to go down to the valley, not as tourists, but intentionally wanting to see what is on the floor of the valley. Go and see the bones – they are very many, they are very dry and they are on the floor.
It is possible to be in the valley and only see yourself. In explaining the meaning of the word ‘narcistic’ someone said that it comes from the Greek mythology. There was one handsome Greek youth by the name of Narcissus, who was very beautiful, but had never seen his face, because there were no mirrors. One day he walked into the forest, and saw his reflection on a pool of water. He started to drink and talk to his reflection. It is easy for someone to be absorbed by his/her own beauty and lose sight of God’s beauty and challenges all around us. When you SEE what is beyond self – you start to engage with what is beyond self-OR run the risk of drowning in your own image. Ezekiel SAW the bones.
3.      Thirdly, he listened to the Divine Command and obeyed.
The command from the One who is All-knowing – the Omniscient God – was that he must speak to the bones. It was an invitation to a life- giving conversation. When he was puzzled if the situation would ever change – God commands him to speak words of life to the dry bones. I can imagine him speaking with conviction, telling the bones that they will live. In order to do that you need faith that surpasses all understanding. First you need to see and admit that the bones are dead, dry and many and then speak the words ‘bones come to life.’ The process towards healing begins with seeing and admitting – it is not helpful to act as if dry bones are alive. It is not helpful to ‘cushion’ oneself with lies against the hard unsettling realities of dry bones, by saying to the dry bones ‘you are glorious’ even when it is not well.
The Worship Leader asked me to sing Happy Birthday at the end of the sermon. That reminded me that we are celebrating a ‘birth.’ As we all know birth is preceded by conception and pregnancy.  Conception and pregnancy are a result of a conversation; otherwise it would have been resulting from rape.  It was conversation that led to the birth that we are celebrating today. If we are to give birth to something new and life-giving in the next 100 years, we need to begin a life-giving conversation. The conversation must lead to the birth or rebirth of a vision of a better world for all; the birth or re-kindling of the spirit of self-lessness; new life-giving conversation strengthened.  It is a call for a dialogue for new birth.
            Finally: Notice the way things happen in this passage:
Ezekiel speaks to all the bones at the same time – not one bone at a time. There is no need for the bones to push to be in front of the line or to be closest to Ezekiel. All the bones receive life. Yes all the bones can live!!! What bones do you see from where you are? From where I come from I see:
·         Bones of access to quality education by all (even those on the floor of the valley).
·         Bones of access to food security and quality health care – even the very dry bones.
·         Bones of Ubuntu and healing relationships – even the dislocated bones.
·         Bones of access to the resources of the land by all – so that the nation may cease to be at war with itself over the resources.
Friends we are invited to a journey with God of life – one God who created all and is able to do more – a journey that is life-giving, recapturing the spirit of those who met here, imagining a better world. It requires a compelling vision. An airplane may be beautiful, offer the best entertainment inside, but will not take passengers to the destination unless the vision of where it is going is clear and has a pilot to take it there.
May God bless the leaders and all the people of this beautiful land. AMEN 

Dreadful storm as Wesley flees America Part 1

Fri 13 Jan 1738: We had a thorough storm, which obliged us to shut all close, the sea breaking over the ship continually. I was at first afraid; but cried to God and was strengthened. Before ten I lay down, I bless God, without fear. About midnight we were awaked by a confused noise of seas and wind and men’s voices, the like to which I had never heard before. The sound of the sea breaking over and against the sides of the ship I could compare to nothing but large cannon or American thunder. The rebounding, starting, quivering motion of the ship much resembled what is said of earthquakes. The captain was upon deck in an instant. But his men could not hear what he said. It blew a proper hurricane; which beginning at south-west, then went west, north-west, north, and in a quarter of an hour round by the east to the south-west point again. At the same time the sea running (as they term it) mountain high, and that from many different points at once, the ship would not obey the helm; nor indeed could the steersman, through the violent rain, see the compass. So he was forced to let her run before the wind, and in half an hour the stress of the storm was over.
 [to be continued]

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

PARAPROSDOKIAN OF THE WEEK

If you had three apples and four oranges in one hand and four apples and three oranges in other hand, what would you have? ........................................................................................very big hands.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wesley doubts his Christianity

On Monday 9 Jan 1738, and the following days, I reflected much on that vain desire which had pursued me for so many years, of being in solitude in order to be a Christian. I have now, thought I, solitude enough. But am I therefore the nearer being a Christian? Not if Jesus Christ be the model of Christianity. I doubt indeed I am much nearer that mystery of Satan which some writers affect to call by that name. So near that I had probably sunk wholly into it had not the great mercy of God just now thrown me upon reading St. Cyprian’s Works. ‘O my soul, come not thou into their secret!’ ‘Stand thou in the good old paths.’

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Deep personal reflection as Wesley flees America

Sun 8 Jan 1738: In the fullness of my heart I wrote the following words:
By the most infallible of proofs, inward feeling, I am convinced:
1. Of unbelief, having no such faith in Christ as will prevent my heart from being troubled; which it could not be if I believed in God, and rightly believed also in him [i.e., Christ].
2. Of pride, throughout my life past, inasmuch as I thought I had what I find I have not.
3. Of gross irrecollection, inasmuch as in a storm I cry to God every moment, in a calm, not.
4. Of levity and luxuriancy of spirit, recurring whenever the pressure is taken off, and appearing by my speaking words not tending to edify; but most, by my manner of speaking of my enemies.
‘Lord save, or I perish!’ Save me,
1. By such a faith as implies peace in life and in death.
2. By such humility as may fill my heart from this hour for ever with a piercing, uninterrupted sense, Nihil est quod hactenus feci, having evidently built without foundation.
3. By such a recollection as may cry to thee every moment, especially when all is calm, Give me faith or I die; give me a lowly spirit; otherwise Mihi non sit suave vivere.
4. By steadiness, seriousness,  sobriety of spirit, avoiding as fire every word that tendeth not to edifying, and never speaking of any who oppose me, or sin against God, without all my own sins set in array before my face.
This morning, after explaining those words of St. Paul, ‘I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God’, I exhorted my fellow-travellers with all my might to comply with the Apostle’s direction. But leaving them afterwards to themselves, the seriousness they showed at first soon vanished away.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wesley begins to teach again as he flees America

Sat 7 Jan 1738: I began to read and explain some passages of the Bible to the young Negro. The next morning another Negro who was on board desired to be a hearer too. From them I went to the poor Frenchman, who, understanding no English, had none else in the ship with whom he could converse. And from this time I read and explained to him a chapter in the Testament every morning.

Day 7 of the Week, Saturday, the Sabbath.


1 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.



Wesley's Notes on the Old Testament regarding the Sabbath (Saturday, the 7th Day of Creation)


We have here, 

(1.) The settlement of the kingdom of nature, in God's resting from the work of creation, Gen_2:1-2. Where observe, 
1. That the creatures made both in heaven and earth, are the hosts or armies of them, which speaks them numerous, but marshalled, disciplined, and under command. God useth them as his hosts for the defence of his people, and the destruction of his enemies. 
2. That the heavens and the earth are finished pieces, and so are all the creatures in them. So perfect is God's work that nothing can be added to it or taken from it, Ecc_3:14. 
3. That after the end of the first six days, God ceased from all work of creation. He hath so ended his work, as that though in his providence he worketh hitherto, Joh_5:17. preserving and governing all the creatures, yet he doth not make any new species of creatures. 
4. That the eternal God, tho' infinitely happy in himself, yet took a satisfaction in the work of his own hands. He did not rest as one weary, but as one well - pleased with the instances of his own goodness. 

(2.) The commencement of the kingdom of grace, in the sanctification of the sabbath day, Gen_2:3. He rested on that day, and took a complacency in his creatures, and then sanctified it, and appointed us on that day to rest and take a complacency in the Creator; and his rest is in the fourth commandment made a reason for ours after six days labour. Observe, 
1. That the solemn observation of one day in seven as a day of holy rest, and holy work, is the indispensible duty of all those to whom God has revealed his holy sabbaths. 
2. That sabbaths are as ancient as the world. 
3. That the sabbath of the Lord is truly honourable, and we have reason to honour it; honour it for the sake of its antiquity, its great author, and the sanctification of the first sabbath by the holy God himself, and in obedience to him, by our first parents in innocency.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Wesley reads as he flees America

Fri 6 Jan 1738: I ended the abridgment of Mr. de Renty’s life. O that such a life should be related by such a historian! Who by inserting all, if not more than all the weak things that holy man ever said or did, by his commendation of almost every action or word which either deserved or needed it not, and by his injudicious manner of relating many others which were indeed highly commendable; has cast the shade of superstition and folly over one of the brightest patterns of heavenly wisdom.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day 5, Thursday, and the fifth day of 2012


20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day. 

John Wesley's Notes on the Old Testament

Each day hitherto hath produced very excellent beings, but we do not read of the creation of any living creature till the fifth day. The work of creation not only proceeded gradually from one thing to another, but advanced gradually from that which was less excellent, to that which was more so. 'Twas on the fifth day that the fish and fowl were created, and both out of the waters.

Observe, 1. The making of the fish and fowl at first. Gen_1:20-21 God commanded them to be produced, he said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly - The fish in the waters, and the fowl out of them. This command he himself executed, God created great whales, etc. - Insects which are as various as any species of animals, and their structure as curious, were part of this day's work, some of them being allied to the fish, and others to the fowl. Notice is here taken of the various species of fish and fowl, each after their kind; and of the great numbers of both that were produced, for the waters brought forth abundantly; and in particular of great whales the largest of fishes, whose bulk and strength, are remarkable proofs of the power and greatness of the Creator.

Observe, 2, The blessing of them in order to their continuance. Life is a wasting thing, its strength is not the strength of stones; therefore the wise Creator not only made the individuals, but provided for the propagating of the several species, Gen_1:22. God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply - Fruitfullness is the effect of God's blessing, and must be ascribed to it; the multiplying of the fish and fowl from year to year, is still the fruit of this blessing here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 4, Wednesday, and the fourth day of 2012


14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

John Wesley's Notes on the Old Testament 

This is the history of the fourth day's work, the creating the sun, moon and stars. Of this we have an account, In general, verse 14, 15. where we have, 

The command given concerning them. Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven - God had said, Let there be light, and there was light; but that was, as it were, a chaos of light, scattered and confused; now it was collected and made into several luminaries, and so rendered both more glorious and more serviceable. 

The use they were intended to be of to this earth. They must be for the distinction of times, of day and night, summer and winter. They must be for the direction of actions: they are for signs of the change of weather, that the husbandman may order his affairs with discretion. They do also give light upon the earth - That we may walk and work according as the duty of every day requires. The lights of heaven do not shine for themselves, nor for the world of spirits above, they need them not; but they shine for us, and for our pleasure and advantage. Lord, what is man that he should be thus regarded, Psalm 8:3-4. In particular, Gen 1:16-18, The lights of heaven are the sun, moon and stars, and these all are the work of God's hands. 

The sun is the greatest light of all, and the most glorious and useful of all the lamps of heaven; a noble instance of the Creator's wisdom, power and goodness, and an invaluable blessing to the creatures of this lower world. The moon is a lesser light, and yet is here reckoned one of the greater lights, because, though in regard of its magnitude, it is inferior to many of the stars, yet in respect of its usefulness to the earth, it is more excellent than they. 

He made the stars also - Which are here spoken of only in general; for the scriptures were written not to gratify our curiosity, but to lead us to God. Now, these lights are said to rule, Gen1:16, Gen1:18; not that they have a supreme dominion as God has, but they are rulers under him. Here the lesser light, the moon, is said to rule the night; but Psalm 136:9 the stars are mentioned as sharers in that government, the moon and stars to rule by night. No more is meant, but that they give light, Jer 31:35. The best and most honourable way of ruling is, by giving light, and doing good.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Day 3, Tuesday, and the third day of 2012


 9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
    11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.


John Wesley's Notes on the Old Testament

The third day's work is related in these verses; the forming the sea and the dry land, and making the earth fruitful. Hitherto the power of the Creator had been employed about the upper part of the visible world; now he descends to this lower world, designed for the children of men, both for their habitation, and their maintenance. And here we have an account of the fitting of it for both; the building of their house, and the spreading of their table.

Observe, 1. How the earth was prepared to be a habitation for man by the gathering of the waters together, and making the dry land appear. Thus, instead of that confusion which was, when earth and water were mixed in one great mass; now there is order, by such a separation as rendered them both useful.

 (1.) The waters which covered the earth were ordered to retire, and to gather into one place, viz. those hollows which were fitted for their reception. The waters thus lodged in their proper place, he called Seas; for though they are many, in distant regions, yet either above ground or under ground, they have communication with each other, and so they are one, and the common receptacle of waters, into which all the rivers run.

 (2.) The dry land was made to appear, and emerge out of the waters, and was called Earth.

Observe, 2. How the earth was furnished for the support of man. Present provision was made, by the immediate products of the earth, which, in obedience to God's command, was no sooner made but it became fruitful. Provision was likewise made for time to come, by the perpetuating of the several species of vegetables, every one having its seed in itself after its kind, that during the continuance of man upon the earth, food might be fetched out of the earth, for his use and benefit.

Day 2, Monday, and the second day of 2012

 6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate
 water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water
 under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called
 the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—
the second day.
Genesis 1:6-8


John Wesley's Notes on the Old Testament


We have here an account of the second day's work, the creation of the firmament.
 In which observe,

1. The command of God; Let there be a firmament - An expansion; so the Hebrew word
 signifies, like a sheet spread, or a curtain drawn out. This includes all that is visible above the
 earth, between it and the third heavens, the air, its higher, middle, and lower region, the
 celestial globe, and all the orbs of light above; it reaches as high as the place where the stars
 are fixed, for that is called here the firmament of heaven,  and as low as the place where the
 birds fly for that also is called the firmament of heaven,

2. The creation of it: and God made the firmament.

3. The design of it; to divide the waters from the waters - That is, to distinguish between the
 waters that are wrapt up in the clouds, and those that cover the sea; the waters in the air,
 and those in the earth.

4. The naming it; He called the firmament Heaven - 'Tis the visible heaven, the pavement of
 the holy city. The height of the heavens should mind us of God's supremacy, and the infinite
 distance that is between us and him; the brightness of the heavens, and their purity, should
 mind us of his majesty, and perfect holiness; the vastness of the heavens, and their
 encompassing the earth, and influence upon it, should mind us of his immensity and
universal providence.