Reaching into the Future…

Reaching into the Future…

In his second letter to his disciple, Timothy, Paul wrote: “…what you have heard from me…entrust to faithful brethren who will be able to teach others also.” Like our Lord Who fully anticipated the continuation of what He had begun to do and teach through the medium of His trained disciple makers, Paul fully expected an apostolic succession in respect of what he had passed on to his protege.Indeed, if we do not pass on what we have learned to others who are able to train others also, our life work will end with us. Unfortunately many have not learned this basic Gospel lesson of training to train…and so it is no surprise to see the church in decline in spite of the frantic busyness of the clergy. What has been received must be passed on if we are to survive.

This past weekend, Louise and I had the privilege of passing on what we have received to those who are, in many ways, our future. 30 Youth Leaders from the Diocese of Cape Town met together to be trained in Strategy. There are so many other things they could have been doing on Friday evening and on Saturday and yet they came.

As always Louise and I pray before, during, and after such training sessions, basically to ask that the Lord, who knows all hearts and desires and secrets, give us the words to say what the unique group needs to hear. As such, even though the material remains the same, the manner in which we present it, the stories we include, and the timing of each segment differs each time. This time we found that family matters, the role of parents, praying for your spouse to be, peer pressure, among other things often came up in our discussions.

At one point, we spoke about the Early Church being accused of ‘turning the world upside down’ and it soon became apparent that our group’s desire was to have that same “accusation” levelled against them! May the Lord bless them and prevent that flame from being snuffed out!

A few came up to us at the end and asked when we would be available to help them train others in their parishes…how exciting! Pray for these young people, dearest brethren…pray that nothing stops them from growing into a mighty movement for Jesus!

Lessons for Leaders…and Followers

Lessons for Leaders…and Followers

Whoever has said that the Old Testament is no longer relevant to Christians today has not read Kings and Chronicles!
Looking just at the lives of Solomon, Rehoboam, and Jeroboam, one can see how leaders today still make the same disastrous mistakes even though they have the advantage of, not only the Scriptures, but also of history.

While Solomon starts his reign on the right foot, asking for wisdom rather than any other desirable thing, he ends his reign by forsaking God’s wisdom and following the political practice of the day, namely allying oneself to other nations through marriage…in this case multiple marriages…unequally yoked marriages. Rehoboam, his son, does not even consult God in matters of the State and he disregards the counsel of those who had learned wisdom through the observation of the consequences of Solomon’s bad choices. Rather he seeks advice and direction from those as ignorant as himself in
matters of government…his wet behind the ears peers! When world leaders (or church leaders for that matter) seek to curry favour with others for whatever reasons…whether to gain their applause or their votes or their money…they embark on a journey that will ultimately lead to division or destruction, even of that which they seek to build or maintain. 
And Jeroboam! One would have thought that if ever there was a man who would have learned valuable lessons from watching the folly of his leaders, it would be him! Oppressed and exiled by a jealous leader, rebuffed by an immature and arrogant and insecure leader, told by a prophet that he would lead in their stead because of their collective lack of godly wisdom…one would think that he would seek to govern in a way that would bring unity and would foster humility and righteousness and justice…but instead he stumbles even further away from that which would bring peace and stability and prosperity to the people!
Surely our leaders in both the political and the spiritual sphere ought to read Chronicles and Kings! If they refuse to learn from Scripture or from history…if they turn a blind eye to the consequences of bad decisions – and they are not hard to find, in fact just a border crossing away…they will surely follow in the footsteps of countless others who have chosen to lead their own people into the abyss of ruin and poverty. Why is it always so difficult to bend the
knee and to seek what is good to the Holy Spirit? Is it pride? Is it stupidity? 
Is it sin? Are our leaders blind? Compromise leads only to more compromise.
Where is the backbone? Where is the wisdom? Where is the bravery and the boldness needed to stand when all others fall? 
But then, dear brothers and sisters in Christ…where are we? Are we praying for our leaders as we are instructed to in the Holy Scriptures? Really praying for them? Or are we just pointing fingers? Are we lifting them up daily - hourly - to the throne of the King of kings and the Lord of lords? Asking God to grant them true repentance and His Holy Spirit as Guide – or, indeed, asking God to remove them and replace them with those who will learn to listen? Does He not say that He holds the hearts of leaders in His hands? Perhaps we receive what we deserve…perhaps our hands are not as lily white as
we like to believe…

Synod of Bishops

What an encouraging statement from the Synod of Bishops of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa!
We were encouraged to hear of developments in ACSA’s response to the Anglican Communion’s International Season of Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-Making. Through Growing the Church (GtC) discipleship training teams are being equipped around the Province using the LEAD Programme – Leadership for Evangelism and Disciple-Making. These teams are starting to train disciple-makers in their Dioceses. We welcomed the work of the Anglican Communion’s Discipleship Group, under the banner of “Living and Sharing Jesus-Shaped Life”.
We welcomed a progress report on planning and preparations for the next Anglicans Ablaze Conference: 3rd to 6th October 2018 at the City Hill Auditorium, Hillcrest, in the Diocese of Natal. The theme is “Living a Jesus-Shaped Life”. Registrations are open and all the information is available at www.anglicansablaze.org. We noted that there is enormous excitement building up in many parts of the Province. This year we are hoping to have 3,000 people attending.

Resolution and Renovation

This morning I was reading about the dream
of King Solomon and the choice he made…he asked the Lord for wisdom.

I have been told many times that if you
want to learn something well, teach it. Louise and I have been teaching clergy
and lay folk in the Anglican Church in Southern Africa about how to make
disciples. That, in itself, is a challenge. But this past week, we examined the
character of the disciple-maker according to the character of the One we are
meant to emulate…the One in whose footsteps we are meant to follow…the Lord Jesus
Himself.
As we encouraged our trainees to examine
their lives according to the life of Christ, I heard that still, small voice
softly whispering in my ear. “Johann, are you living according to these
priorities? Are you dependent on the leading and guiding of My Holy Spirit? Do
you seek Me out in prayer as often as you could? Are you always obedient to Me?
Is your life centred on My Word? Do you exalt Me in and through your life? Are
you as relational as I am?”
I have been pondering these questions ever
since, asking the Lord for wisdom as to how I am to respond to this conviction.
Unlike so many Lenten resolutions that vanish like mist before the sun, I want
this to be long lasting and deepening with time.
I tend to get so busy “doing the Lord’s
work” that I miss the Lord Himself! The Lord Jesus knew full well what the
disciples would have done had He not told them to wait in Jerusalem until they
had received the Promise from the Father. Surely those long days and nights filled
with prayer and supplication had an impact on their character…waiting,
trusting, watching…all the while not knowing quite what to expect.
Louise and I have recently moved to the
little village of Villiersdorp, about 2 hours drive from Cape Town. The reason
for moving was, for the most part, financial as we simply could not afford the
rent of the flat we were living in…not while we had a house to live in
elsewhere! But now, I am beginning to see another angle to this
move…Villiersdorp is a quiet hamlet…a place where one can wait on the Lord
without disturbance.
Of course, we are far from idle! Shortly
after we told our tenants that we would need our home and that they ought to
find alternative accommodation, they had a mishap and nearly burned down our
kitchen! Thankfully, we were insured and so renovations began almost
immediately after we moved in. It is nearing completion as I write. But so much
still needs to be done…some walls and parts of the ceiling are still black from
smoke and need to be cleaned and repainted.



We are also hoping to get more involved
with the local community, especially those less fortunate in the informal
settlement above the village. Just how we are going to do this remains to be
seen, but more than likely it will be with and through the local Anglican
Church, St Augustine’s. Training continues and we will be travelling yet again
in the beginning of March to teach Strategy.

Then, we will be winging our way over to the
US of A, hopefully to see you!
We still have no definite speaking
engagements, but trust that we will be hearing from you soon!
Pray with us for wisdom as we continue to
wait on our Lord. Like our home, we too need renovation!

Report on Foundations Training in the Johannesburg Diocese: 23, 24 February 2018

Report on Foundations Training in the Johannesburg Diocese: 23, 24 February 2018

The LEAD Program consists of four modules,
namely Strategy which explores the method Jesus used to make disciples,
Foundations which identifies six key priorities for disciple-makers based on
Jesus own ministry priorities, Vision which focuses on helping leaders define
their calling, grow in godly character traits and develop their own unique
competencies as leaders, and lastly Multiplication which identifies different
stages of Jesus’ ministry and examines how He grew an effective movement of
disciple making which changed the world.

So far, we have only taught the first
module…until now!
We were thrilled to be invited back to the Diocese
of Johannesburg to teach those who had previously gone through the Strategy training
all about the six key priorities outlined in Foundations. It was good to meet
up again with some of our old trainees, but also to meet a few new folk who
were trained by them! The whole idea of LEAD is to train those who will then
train others…and we are seeing a few of the Dioceses doing this…one of which is
the Diocese of Johannesburg.


There were 25 individuals present, although
a few either did not make the first day or the second day due to prior
commitments. That is always difficult when working with such active clergy and
laity!

 

 

While one does not look for a pat on the back,
it is always good to have some form of feedback. This is what we received from
one participant:
“It was fantastic to have you guys with us!
You are very special people and fun to be with. Thank you for your teaching and
love for everyone up here. The training was superb! Well done for your first
time.”
Please pray for our brethren in the Diocese
of Johannesburg…they have a huge task and much opposition.

Report on Strategy Training in the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist, Polokwane: 15, 16,17 February 2018

Louise and I flew up to Johannesburg on
Wednesday, 14 February, to Johannesburg and then rented a car to drive up to
Polokwane. We stayed with folk who have fast become really good friends, Luke
and Jenny Pretorius. We enjoyed their amazing hospitality tremendously and were
refreshed physically, mentally, and spiritually by the time we left.

We had a brief refresher training meeting
with the trainers on Wednesday, and then on Thursday, 15 February, we drove
down to a lovely Roman Catholic Retreat Centre called Mater Dei. After lunch,
we started training more trainers for this Diocese. I had gone up to Polokwane
last year to train a few selected folks in Strategy and they now helped us
train both clergy and and a group of selected lay folk…36 in total. Other than one training in
Johannesburg and one in Swaziland, we have not used local trainers at this
level before…there were six trainers and therefor each one could take a section
each. They were absolutely marvellous! A few of them were quite young and we
had wondered how the elders in the group would react to their training, but
they did so well that no one had any reason to complain!

This was also only the second time we have had a Bishop (and a Ma Bishop!) present during training and only the very first time one has stayed for the entire course! What a blessing!






We also followed a different schedule that turned out to be the best so far. Instead of trying to fit it all in in two days, we started the first day after lunch, had one full day, and another half day ending with Eucharist and then lunch. I love ending the training with the Eucharist…what better place to end than where we offer and present to the Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice to Him!
This is a unique Diocese in so many ways…the
church community is very integrated and it is not strange to have several
languages sung during the course of one service. This made me think of the
vision of St John in the Revelation: “I saw a vast crowd, too great to count,
from every nation, and tribe, and people, and language, standing in front of
the throne and before the Lamb…and they were shouting with a great roar. ‘Salvation
comes from our God Who sits on the throne, and form the Lamb!’”

Surely, a glimpse of heaven on earth…