Thursday, September 22, 2011

Holding each other accountable.

A key value in the life of the Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary is Accountability. The Seminarians are held accountable for their lives inside and outside of the classroom. It is this that makes us different from a university. A university exists to impart academic excellence, whereas a Christian seminary is expected to form ministers of the Gospel of Jesus. Therefore every seminarian is evaluated by the seminary staff, both for their academic life, as well as for their spiritual, ethical, and communal life. We sit once a year with each seminarian and give them feedback on this evaluation and work out ways to assist them in their personal growth.

This morning the seminarians participated in an accountability exercise that expanded this system. They filled in a questionnaire that examined the way the president of our seminary leads us. This is the culmination of a process that has seen a performance evaluation of each member of staff by both seminarians, peers and the president. An outside company has now been tasked to do the same for the president.

We believe that healthy accountability leads to a healthy seminary. Pray for us, that we might model accountability in a way that brings renewal to our church and society.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"According to the Will of God"

1 Peter 4:2,8 … for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God….Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.

The letter of 1 Peter was possibly written somewhere between 60-80 years after Jesus. It seems to be the work of a student of the Apostle Peter – which was normal practice, especially when one realizes that Peter was an uneducated Galilean fisherman.
It was written at a time when the world seemed to be going mad:

This was a time of great terror:
• The Roman general Titus attacked Jerusalem, and burned the temple to the ground.
• The Emperor Nero set fire to a slum area to build his new palace - and blamed the Christians for the fire.
• The volcano Vesuvius erupted and buried Pompeii.

At the same time the morals of the Empire were disintegrating:
• The Emperor tried to protect his power by killing his brother and his mother.
• And when his wife could not produce an heir, he threw her out and took his best friend’s wife and made her pregnant instead.
• The crowds of Rome had become bored: and demanded ever more violent entertainment. It is at this time that the Colosseum was built where gladiators fought anything that could be killed.

It is in this context that Peter dictates a letter to those who followed Jesus: a letter that has one recurring thread: we are to live in such a way that we set an example to the world we live in:

1Peter 1:14 Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct;

1Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing.
1Peter 4:2: live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God.

Do you hear it?
We are to be separated from the standards of this world:
We are to live to a different standard.
Then Peter sums it all up - he sets out the difference:
1Pe 4:8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.

The essential dividing line between the ways of God and human ways lies in this one key concept: “love”.
It is here that our faith becomes difficult – because we are asked to practice a value that is not part of our culture….
You see I am OK with the idea that God loves me : but it is far harder to hear that I am to love other people in the same way!
1Pe 4:8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.

Be prepared to cover the sins of others with love.
Not a chance!!!!
Those who show me great love will get much love in return
And those who show me little love will get little love in return.
This is the stuff Peter is speaking about:
1Pe 4:2: live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God.
We are not to reflect the standards of our world – we are to challenge them!
We are not to mirror our culture - we are to transform it.
It is this that sets the followers of Jesus apart – we dare to be different.
When our culture tells us to hate – we will choose to love.
 When our business environment says to step on people to get ahead – we will choose to serve people.
 When our side of the family wants to ignore the other side of the family – we will choose to go to build bridges.
 When some people of our religion curse the religion of another person – we will bless them.
 And when I see the sin in the life of another person – I will cover that person with love.

An Impossible dream? of course…. If I try to do this in my own strength! But I do not do this alone – I do it in the strength of God:
1Pe 4:10 Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
1Pe 4:11 Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Guess where?

This photograph is taken at my favourite spot in all the world. Let the detectives supply the location.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Knowing God

Theological formation is the gradual and often painful discovery of God's incomprehensibility. You can be competent in many things, but you cannot be competent in God.

Henri J.M. Nouwen
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Sunday, September 11, 2011


Birthday lunch at Col'Cacchio pizzeria for Jenny and Granny.
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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Growing up - Jumping down.

Amy jumped off Table Mountain this morning. Well ....more of an abseil than a jump!

My youngest daughter turned 21 on 27 August, and today she celebrated by jumping vertically down rocks on the end of a rope. This epitomises her growth into adulthood. As a little girl Amy clung to her mother for security and reassurance. But she has grown into a person who is courageous, determined, and capable of unexpected surprises. She is completing a BA in English and Film and Media studies, and has also spent the last three years studying Japanese. Amy plans to teach English in Japan next year. And I admire her determination.

Happy Birthday Amy. And may you have an interesting life full of fun, faith and fantasy.
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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Jess' birthday cake

Today is spring day in the Southern Hemisphere. It is also my daughter Jessica's birthday.

Since she was little I dreaded this day - because schools make a great fuss of spring day. And so Jess was led to believe that her birthday was the beginning of summer. The class was asked to dress for spring, and every one anticipated a warm, sunny day. Jess would go to school dressed for a summer birthday - and year after year it rained on her birthday!

Today she is a grown up woman: and I want to wish her a fabulous summer as she completes her degree as a music teacher. I wish her lots of joy as she teaches the jazz saxophone. And to remind her that I am very proud of the way she is emerging into adulthood.
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