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I like Moses.

Many Christians are not particularly interested in this great Patriarch (because, let’s face it, he’s just not our guy). We like to create a hard line in the sand between the law (and Moses) on the one side, and faith (and Jesus) on the other side. But I think that’s a bum rap. Moses displayed amazing faith. In fact, I think he displays exactly the kind of faith that teachers need. The kind of brave faith that inspires.

First there was the burning bush. Now, apart from the obvious possibility that everyone who heard the story recounted (including Moses himself) would very likely have assumed it was the result of mild sunstoke combined with the inhilation of too much ‘sheep gas’ (methane being known to do all sorts of terrible things to the brain as well as the atmosphere), a bush burning in the wilderness is hardly everyone’s image of Deity. I mean, if God had appeared in a burning pillar of fire (wait… didn’t that happen later?) or even a burning baobab, that might have been a little more convincing, but a burning bush is not so amazing is it? And yet, off goes Moses, back to the country he had fled from in terror years earlier… following a burning bush.

Then there was the burning mountain. It must have been quite incredible. Certainly impressive enough to scare the idolotry out of the Israelites (no wait…?!). The people were so terrified that they begged Moses to speak to God on their behalves. At this point I would have looked up at the pyrotechnic peak and replied: “…sod off!” But Moses, man of great faith that he was, terrified as he was, climbed the Mountain and met with God. Well… strictly speaking, he met with God’s back. Apparently God’s front is a bit deadly to the uninitiated, so God hid Moses in the cleft of a rock, covered the cleft with his Great Hand, and then passed by, removing the obstructing limb in time for Moses to glimpse him leaving. Having climbed the fiery mountain and survived the near death encounter with God’s back, I think it’s safe to say that if I was Moses, I would have more than enough stories to tell my grandchildren. But not Moses…

Because, then we have the burning heart. Amazingly, Moses not only doesn’t stop associating with Burning Manifestations, he actively seeks them out (or rather, he seeks Him out). The Glory of God comes to settle in the Israelite camp and Moses makes a habit of meeting with God (in the aptly named ‘Tent of Meeting’) for the rest of his life. He spends so much time in the presence of our fiery Diety that his face acquires a distinct glow, which Moses has to cover with a veil so as not to freak the rest of the camp out. Moses face is burning.

But what about the burning heart? Well, actually, that belonged to Joshua rather than Moses. You see, Joshua used to sit quietly in the corner whenever Moses and God had their smokey pow-wows. He never said anything. He never voiced an opinion. He just sat quietly. Burning in his heart to have what Moses had: a face to face friendship with God. And God saw Joshua sitting in the corner. He saw his burning heart. And that’s why God chose Joshua as Moses’ replacement when the Israelites entered the Promised Land. He saw what Moses’ faith had inspired in Joshua.

And that’s why I like Moses so much. He spent his whole life actively and publicly seeking after God, and in doing so, inspired Joshua to do the same. As a teacher I think we can learn a lot from Moses about faith and discipleship.

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This past week I spent some time with a group of teenagers on outreach in Hawane in Swaziland.

We always used to spend a week during the December holidays at camp. We had lectures. We cried in worship. We went home. We forgot. But then last year, Sheldon (our youth pastor) asked the leaders to think about a change. Instead of camp, we’d go on outreach. I loved the idea and we went ahead last year with our first outreach. This year, we went from friendship evangelism to community service.

Hawane is a community of homes for orphans. It also functions as a base for life-skills training for graduates from Emafeni (a program for people with life-controlling problems). It’s also in a community with one of the highest HIV infection rates in a country with the highest HIV infection rate in the world. So we had no lack of service opportunities. In the mornings, we prayed with the life-skills students and visited the hospital. In the afternoons we worked in the gardens (we made a prayer garden in a quiet corner of the community for the staff, and we made a vegetable garden for a very sick single mom in the neighboring community), and we ran a soccer clinic for the older boys. In the evenings we spent time in the homes of the orphans, playing games with them and praying with their foster parents.

We debriefed and had short devotions and worship three times in total. Sheldon, Paige and I said very little to the youth the whole week other than to encourage their efforts. The teenagers had a fantastic time and although few tears were shed, no grandiose promises of lasting faithfulness were made, and nobody said ‘amen brother!’ even once, we all learned more in this week than we could have in a year of youth camps.

So cancel your youth camp and take your youth into the community to make a difference.

Less is more:
Less words. Less costs. More fruit.

So it’s amazing how the Lord has a thing about boxes. I’ve been seeing more and more how God refuses to accept any of our limiting definitions about how He does stuff and who He “really is”. Think about Jesus’ healing miracles. Every time he heals someone He does it differently. He has no method. Have you ever asked yourself why? He is the Ultimate Rebel! I can just see the religious leaders of the day making mental notes as they watched Him:

“Alright! He’s gonna heal this blind guy. Ok… pay attention… you spit on the ground and make some mud… then you stick it in the guys eyes… is he making clockwise circles or anti-clockwise?… Oh! Both… yeah… wax on wax off… ok great! I got it!”

(But a little later…)

“Oh he’s gonna heal this guy’s eyes. Let’s see if I can remember it – he’s supposed to make some mud first… wait-a-minute! He forgot the mud!!… it’s not gonna work!!!… should I say something?… Don’t wanta embarrass Him… Woah! No way! The guy says he can see! He must’ve been faking it! I wonder if Jesus knows?…”

(And so on…)

People love control. It’s what we strive for. The reason we study, the reason we want more money, the reason we marry (and sometimes divorce!) is because we desperately want to feel like we are in control of our own destiny. And this is why we see Jesus rebelling in the Bible and The Holy Spirit rebelling in Church history. For our own sakes and for His glory, He will not allow us to limit Him with our definitions.

Which brings me to what I actually wanted to say:

Lord, I am amazed at You!

Last week I went on an outreach with a bunch of teenagers to (wait for it) the beach! The South Coast to be more precise. We went, not in the relatively dry months, but (wait for it) in the rainy season! We brought no tracts, sound equipment or qualified evangelists, but we did have (wait for it) a gazebo with the words “prayer tent prayer tent” emblazoned on the front and a handful of bibs with the similarly seeker-friendly “can I pray for you?” printed in large black lettering. All this we did because we felt it was what God was telling us to do. So Sheldon cancelled the usual tried-and-tested youth camp and took roughly two rugby teams worth of teenagers to the beach.

Now you might have more faith than me, but I have to confess that the whole thing began to sound more and more like a monumentally bad idea with every passing day that brought us closer to D-day. I felt this way because of the folling reasons drawn from my previous experience with teenagers and outreach:

1) Teenage boys + bikini beaches = “unspiritual” thoughts (to put it tactfully).
2) Rainy days + beach outreach = preaching to irritated local surfer boys.
3) Bright red prayer bibs + overzealous teenagers = religious alienation.

A recipe for disaster in my books.

But to the Author of the Universe, a recipe for one of the most incridible outreaches of my life. People opened up to us and shared their needs and hearts with us. The teenagers were enthusiastic and effective. Even when it rained, we went into town and prayed for people on the streets and in the shops. Every side-alley had teenagers in it, praying for everyone from shop managers to homeless people.

It should never have worked… He forgot the mud… His ways are not our ways.

About Me

Ecstatically married to Leane. Studying Theology and Teaching. Working as a worship leader, teacher, coach, guitar teacher. Living in the Mighty City of Mkondo in the sunny province of Mpumalanga, in the blessed country of South Africa.

Favourite Thoughts – Outbox

Religion is to be defended - not by putting to death - but by dying. Not by cruelty, but by patient endurance. - Lactantius (c.304-313).
What is essential Christianity? From first to last it is scandal, the divine scandal. Every time someone risks scandal of high order there is joy in heaven. - Soren Keirkegaard.
Where there are two Christians, there are three opinions... [Actually a Jewish saying, but at least as true for Christians]

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