Faith, Art, Dominion, and The Image of God

God is God, Ruler and Master of everything. Not just Sundays and choir meetings!

For some reason, within many Christian sub-cultures, the arts are seen as extra, unnecessary, a waste of time, and for people who really aren’t sold out for God. As an example, what sounds like a better use of time: listening to a sermon online, or painting a picture? singing a hymn, or planting a garden? becoming a pastor, or an architect? I would like to argue that nothing I just listed is inherently more spiritual or pleasing to God than the other. Why do I claim this?

First, what was man’s original purpose given by God in the garden?

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.””

(Gen 1:26 HCSB)

“The LORD God took the man and placed him in…

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Surrender your life completely to God, is what I said.

Surrender your life completely to God, is what I said.

You see, time and again, I am seen as a spiritual ninja. It is a hazard of the job, being a missionary. Everyone seems to think that I have all the answers. But the problem with Ninja’s is that they are more into slitting throats than building relationships.

Let’s take a few steps back and look at the context of the discussion.

I am currently presenting a course based on Lifework: Develop A Biblical Theology For Your Vocation (The book argues, quite correctly, that every moral job is as holy as being a missionary, pastor or some such thing!) We were talking about the principle of Coram Deo. That is to live constantly, persistently and intentionally before the face of God. Some use the phrase of “playing to an audience of one.” This is about adopting an awareness and acting accordingly that no matter where we are, no matter what we are doing, God is there and this action is part of our relationship with Him.

The friend, lets call her Jenny told us that she finds it difficult to involve God in her projects at work. Only when she runs into a problem she turns to the Omnipotent spare-tire to get her out of trouble. Apart from that they don’t really bother each other at the office, both being so busy, you see!

My diagnoses was that she has fallen for the old Humanistic fallacy of self-reliance. I, me and myself, also known as the unholy-trinity, is/are or might it be am, the only one/s you can turn to. It all depends on you.

Self-reliance why call 911 when you can help yourself

Why call 911 when you can rely on yourself?

Then she told me that she will start with a new and better job the next day. The following evening she informed me that she is not returning to the new job because that all of a sudden the vague possibility of landing a dream job at an international company has turned into a very likely possibility. Jenny realized that she was taking a risk, but the potential rewards were so good that she had to take the chance. She didn’t get the job. Obviously she was down and dejected.

The following day Jenny said” I just realized God didn’t give me the job because He surely has better for me!” The spiritual ninja in me saw the lurking prosperity gospel biding its time for a head shot.

A long conversation about how technically it is correct, but, God’s better might be a very low paying and menial job in order to shape her character so that it will be more Christ-like ensued. Again I advised her to be totally reliant on God and to trust only Him to help her.

Jenny, despite English being her third or fourth language, did not hesitate to ask me “And what is “more Christ like” in my case? Accepting the next job without questioning?”

And this is where my inner spiritual ninja got floored. The obvious answer is quite obviously, No! But this is just a partial answer. I do not like to truncate, but I do love rambling on!

A comprehensive answer could perhaps be: “No. Carefully examine each option. Pray about it. Discuss it with friends and trusted advisors. And then, only then, make your decision.” The problem is that it, apart from covering most of the bases, is no good.

Why do I say it is no good? Because this is exactly what I am told when it is my turn to go through a crisis. I found that often it sound very spiritual, but when you press for practical applications, people start getting all the more spiritual and all the more vague. Now do not get me wrong! I do not deny the validity of this principle. The problem is that people get stuckwhen asked to explain this in a practically applicable way.

One possibility is to adopt a kind of spiritually motivated passivity. Let go and let God, as they say. This can be dressed up to show how extremely spiritually superior I am. I am not leaning on my own understanding, and doing nothing is surely an expression of trusting God with my whole heart, is it not? (Proverbs 3:5)

The problem with this approach is that it is impossible to say where trust ends and where laziness and/or foolishness begins. Unless you have extremely clear guidance of God to sit down next to the river, don’t. You might just wake up in Babylon. (Psalm 137)

Should I advise Jenny to send out as many as possible job applications? We can always add some prayer to this approach to make it truly spiritual. Tacking God onto our plans, is after all, a commonly practiced and all round acceptable strategy, isn’t it? Not quite Biblical, but let’s not mess about with mere technicalities like that, hey? (Proverbs 3:6, for example, instruct you to begin with God even before you begin with the plan, not to merely make him an accessory after the fact.)

My problem, well, one of my problems, is that Christians are well versed in theory and have no clue about practice. Just, like pray or something! And at this point, this Post, has decided to take the alternative route. I was planning something else, but sometimes the Keyboard has fingers of its own!

Is this because we do not take it serious that Jesus is the Master of every single part of our life? We are great at dividing life into a secular and a sacred part. The sacred part belongs to God. The rest, well, is more like a necessary evil.

A graphical explanation of the sacred secular dichotomy
dualismgraphic

(This picture is from Darrow Miller’s books Discipling Nations and Lifework.)

Spending time in Prayer is giving a disproportionately high value, while doing your every day work is devalued.

Is this why we think that “just” praying about something makes it acceptable to do virtually anything? Or finding a verse and sticking it on our cars? We find someway of adding a coat of spiritual varnish. And as long as you don’t look to closely at this veneer, or think about it, it is fine. But, if you dare examine things a bit closer and deeper you see that you have nothing but a crayon rendering of the Mona Lisa.

The danger of giving the Keyboard to much freedom is that it will stop long before reaching a destination. My firm intention with this post was to cogitate on Jenny’s predicament in a logical way, in order to arrive at some practical and Biblical advice. And now, I am somewhere between nowhere, and nowhere else, without an answer or a easy way out!

Jenny is coming to share lunch with us soon. Please, help me! Give me some practical and Biblical advice to help her!

Error: Pleading the Blood of Jesus for protection

Back when I was still young and attractive (Time only changes some things!) I was part of a student prayer group. We would get together at the Union buildings in Pretoria at 05:00 on Friday mornings.
One morning a cute girl in the group, Elsie, Dulcie, Marcie, Betty, Sarah or Martha, prayed for me. “I draw a circle aindeed, time does change some things, round Jandré and his whole life with the blood of Jesus.” The rest of the prayer I can not remember, as I was to overwhelmed by the wonderfulness of this prayer.
Just think! I am protected! And not your common garden variety protection either! I am protected by the blood of Jesus! (I must admit that even then the practical side was a bit, I think the correct theological term is “Yucky.” Covered with sticky red stuff that usually smells very bad very soon! But this is Jesus’ blood, so banish those thoughts that clearly exhibit a lack of faith and spiritual maturity.)
This kind of prayer, invoking the Blood of Jesus is common.
Let me quote a few examples easily found on the Internet:
In my own personal opinion – I believe that learning how to Plead the Blood of Jesus will give you one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful form of offensive prayer that you can use for any kind of deliverance and/or protection that you may need from the Lord.
This form of offensive prayer can not only be used to get God’s protection on you before any type of adversity ever strikes you, but it can also be used for physical, emotional, and mental healings, for battling demons, and for battling any kind of storm cloud that may have just come your way.   Source: http://www.bible-knowledge.com/blood-of-jesus-how-to-plead-for-protection-and-deliverance/
This is just a part of a prayer, for the whole CAPITILIZED heresy visit THIS website.
WE  INVOKE  THE  PRECIOUS  BLOOD  OF  JESUS  UPON  THE AREA  OF  CONSCIENCE:  UPON  THE  FLESH  OF ____________, ALL  THOUGHTS  AND  INFLUENCE  OF  THE  FLESH.  WE  PRAY ARTERY, CAPILLARY, DISC, VERTEBRAE, MUSCLES, LIGAMENTS, TENDONS, BONES, LUNGS, (name personal ailments), ALL  VITAL ORGANS, HEART, BACK  AND  BRAIN, ETC…  COVERING  FROM THE  TIP  OF  HIS/HER  HEAD  TO  THE  BOTTOM  OF  HIS/HER SOLES.  WE  BATHE  EACH  CELL  ALL  THE  PROCESSES  OF  THE BODY, THEIR  IMMUNE  SYSTEM, IN  JESUS’  PRECIOUS  BLOOD, TO  FUNCTION  IN  THE  PERFECT  BALANCE  AND  HARMONY AS GOD  INTENDED, GOD’S  TIMING.
WE  CLAIM  THE  PROTECTING, PRESERVING, RESTORATIVE  AND CLEANSING  POWER  OF  THE  PRECIOUS  BLOOD  OF  JESUS  FOR ____________, OURSELVES, HOME  PROPERTY, CARS, AND POSSESSIONS.  WHEREVER  THERE  IS  AN  OUTPOURING  OF  THE  BLOOD  OF  JESUS, IT  IS  FOLLOWED  BY  AN  OUTPOURING OF  THE  HOLY  SPIRIT.
NOTICE! NOTICE!! NOTICE!!!
For the next 7 (Seven) days starting from today, everyone should engage in blood sprinkling and the taking of communion every night before bed!
Invoke the blood of Jesus over your desired marriage date, on your desired career job, that health issue or on any issue in your life.
Please pass this information to all members of the Winners family and also to your family around the globe, for God is releasing vengeance on the wicked.
This is from a Facebook page by David Oyedepo.
I admit that these are not the world’s best known blogs and therefore as such do not prove the popularity of this doctrine. I suggest that you use Google and do your own research. You will see that this is a popular teaching. These are just a sampling of websites expressing common views and arguments pertaining to this error.
I want to counter this heretical teaching by looking at:
1. Examining the Biblical understanding of Blood, as found in the Old and New Testaments.
2. The commands of Jesus on how we should pray
3. General verses on Prayer and Protection, including Revelations 12:11
4. A Comparison

In the Old Testament:

      • Animal Blood was used  for purification or for ceremonial cleansing (Lev_14:5-7, Lev_14:51, Lev_14:52; Num_19:4).
      • The only possible superstitious use of Blood is found in 1 Kings 22:38. 
      • Blood in the Old Testament is used with regards to cleansing, atoning for sin (expiatory).
The blood sacrifices of the Old Testament were temporary w.r.t their atoning properties. Exodus 12:13 is often used to substantiate this kind of thinking. Without denying in anyway that we have a type of the Blood of Christ here, please answer this. From whom where the Israelites protected? From the Egyptians? From Satan and/or his demons? No! The Lord himself is the judge and executioner that they are being saved from!
This argument also hold true when it comes to the final judgement. Who is going to judge us? God. (Revelation 20:11).

In the New Testament:

    • nor by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered once for all into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption for us.  (Heb 9:12 MKJV)
    • And almost all things are by the law purged with blood, and without shedding of blood is no remission.  (Heb 9:22 MKJV)
    • These verses summarises the relevant New Testament teaching.

Jesus on Prayer

Searching the MKJV for the phrase “in my Name” we find 16 hits, all in the Gospels. Not all these verses refer to prayer. Matthew 18 vv5 and 20 such examples.
The following three examples should suffice in summarising what Jesus taught about praying in His Name.
  • And whatever you may ask in My name, that I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  (Joh 14:13 MKJV)
  • If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.  (Joh 14:14 MKJV)
    • And in that day you shall ask Me nothing. Truly, truly, I say to you, Whatever you shall ask the Father in My name, He will give you.  (Joh 16:23 MKJV)
Not once does Jesus tell us to plead in His blood. We are never told to use His blood in anyway. Even when you repent of your sins and turn to Christ, pleading his blood dos not enter in to the picture.
We are to put our faith in Christ, and then because of who Christ is, we can trust in his works and sacrifice. It does not work the other way around. Claiming to trust Christ’s works does not give us salvation.

General Verses on Prayer and Protection

Let us begin by examining another verse that is often misconstrued to justify praying in/for/with/through/over/under/behind and in close proximity to the blood of Jesus.
    • And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony. And they did not love their soul until death.  (Rev 12:11 MKJV)
The Pulpit Commentary says about the blood, “That is, “the blood of the Lamb” is the ground or reason of their victory, not the instrument.” Allow me to comment on this. The “blood of the Lamb” signifies something. What? The ultimate and completed victory of Christ over sin and death by his death on the Cross.
What gave the Saints (Revelations 12:11) victory, therefore is the victory of Christ and not the “blood of the Lamb” as a weapon.
It is significant to note that nowhere in the Armour of God (Eph 6:11-18) is the Blood of Jesus mentioned.
    • Put on the whole armour of God so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world’s rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Therefore take to yourselves the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Eph 6:11-13 MKJV)
In James we find the following about prayer and affliction:
  • Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will cure the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. And if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him. (Jas 5:13-15 MKJV)
Again we find that neither Paul, James or any other writers of the Epistles enjoined us to plead the blood of the Lamb. It is just not Biblical. It is extra-biblical. Extra does not mean more than the Bible but outside of the Bible.

A Comparison

We find the following prayer, which is apparently borrowed from Benny Hinn here:
“Lord, I cover myself and everyone around me with the blood of Jesus. I cover all of the members of my family (state them by name) with the blood of Jesus. I cover my home, my land, my car, my finances, my marriage, my ministry, with the blood of Jesus. In the Name of Jesus Christ, by the power of His blood, I break off every power of the kingdom of darkness and cancel every argument in heaven that has established itself against the plans of God in my life and spoil every attack of the enemy. I call forth, in the name of Jesus, all of God’s plans and purposes for my life, and my family. As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.  Satan, the blood of Jesus is against you and you have no authority over my life. NO WEAPON FORMED AGAINST ME (OR MY FAMILY) SHALL PROSPER!”
In the Taratra Newspaper, a publication in Madagascar we find the following:
By examining your palms and face, we will tell you about your past, present and future, with regards to your health, your work, studies, marriage, love, children, money (wealth), marital problems, the Law, how what happens abroad affects you and your luck w.r.t winning (something). 
We can solve any problem, e.g. dissolving “bad medicine” made against you, rid you of eve spirits and provide protection etc.
We will also give you a stone that brings Good Luck.
(Taratra 2014-03-15)
Did you notice that both the “blood of the Lamb” and the work of the astrologer does exactly the same. The one uses the blood and the other supplies a lucky stone.
Using the “blood of Jesus” to pleading protection etc. is nothing but turning it in to an amulet or talisman. What is an amulet or a talisman?  The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Cult, Sects and World Religions describes a talisman as “a magic object, often engraved with symbols or a picture of a character that is believed to harness special power to protect or prosper the owner or possessor. Talismans are sometimes used to protect oneself against evil spirit or demons. Sometimes they are also used to attain love, health, success, and power.” (Quoted from http://christianityinafrica.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/pleading-the-blood-of-jesus-a-common-error-in-prayer-2/)
I remind you of the quote from the Pulpit Commentary.  “That is, “the blood of the Lamb” is the ground or reason of their victory, not the instrument.” Pleading the blood turns it into an instrument, and thus, a talisman or amulet.
What did Jesus use to heal a blind man? See Mark 8:23 and John 9:3. He used his spit. Why are there no people pleading the power of His spit?
I you are in the habit of pleading the Blood of Jesus, please reconsider this practice carefully. It is un-Biblical to say the least. Christ Himself commands us repeatedly to pray in his Name.
Have you also had a similar experience where someone prayed for you like I mentioned right at the beginning?

Fighting the paper monster or Malagasy Bureaucracy

To prove that I am not spouting junk I did some Googling!

If you Google “French Bureaucracy” you find “encouraging” <Insert Sarcasm Smiley!>  like :

French bureaucracy (euphemistically called l’administration) is legendary – and most foreigners have an ‘epic’ tale to tell of their dealings with it. You should be prepared for frustration caused by time-wasting and blatant obstruction on the part of officials. Often you may wonder whether the right hand knows what any other part of the body is up to (it usually doesn’t) and you should expect to receive conflicting information from consulates, government departments, préfectures and town halls.

And

I just don’t get it. Even when you follow their rules to the letter, you are still wrong. This is why living in France drives me crazy. 

 And

Now, I am never one to moan. I am more a man of action rather than words. Upon arrival in France I was fully prepared for a long struggle with the infamous French bureaucracy I had heard so much about. I had many documents and files ready, sharpened and available for my upcoming battle with the various French systems in order to do things properly. I also felt that with all of this complete it would help my transition into life in France and make me feel more like I belonged here. Little did I know just what I was letting myself in for. 

If you Google “Russian Bureaucracy” you find:

Russian bureaucracy leads to corruption.

 And,

 Lovers of Tsarist or Soviet literature will be relieved to know that Russian bureaucracy isn’t dead. Take the experience of a friend who wants to go to St. Petersburg for an academic conference in late July. 

And,

Russian bureaucracy bigger than the Soviet 

If you Google “Malagasy Bureaucracy”

So you’re interested in getting married in Madagascar? Here’s a little advice on how to negotiate the bureaucratic maze that awaits you 

And

 What I really get a kick out of is how a rubber stamp in red ink makes everything so official. The French love stamps too, but I’m pretty sure it’d be easy to counterfeit the stamps needed here – of course, that’d be even more hassle than the bureaucracy, but it is interesting – no laminating, watermarks, or bar codes. Stamps.

And

 

The Malagasy love their bureaucracy – forms, signatures, stamps –  so if you are stopped by police while driving the more official-looking documents you can show them, the more impressed they will be and the sooner you will be on your way.

 

My pet theory, or more accurately, one of my pet theories is that the Malagasy Bureaucracy took the worst of the French and Russian systems (Remember they were aligned with the Eastern bloc) and combined it with the deep seated Malagasy love of officiousness! 

 Now why am I talking about this, you might ask?

 Our daughter, Anya, to our shock, and hers as well I assume, did not qualify for Malagasy citizenship by birth because her parents are married!

<Anya and my wonderful wife Laingo! />

 You see, according to the Malagasy laws that were inherited mostly from those dastardly French colonialists, states that if the parents are married and the father is not Malagasy, then the child, or the parents of said child must make a declaration that they (that is the father!) want the kid to have Malagasy citizenship. 

 This might sound easy, but let me tell you….

The Clash’s “I fought the law” comes to mind, but with a small change “I fought the system and the system won!”

We had to jump through something like 15 consecutive hoops, with various “Go directly to jail, Don’t pass Start and don’t collect your $200” thrown in, just to keep the odds stacked firmly against you.

I, the father, had to go for police clearance. This probably makes sense because what if I wanted to use my daughter’s citizenship to acquire a visa in order to commit various villainous acts here in Madagascar?

 So I prepared myself for a serious grilling about my criminal past.

    • Are you a axe murderer? 
    • Have you ever robbed a bank?
    • Have you been sentenced to hard labour?
    • Did you escape from jail?

After all we must maintain law and order here in Madagascar. <Insert Sarcasm Smiley>

The actual questions went something like this :

  • Where did you go to primary school?
  • Where did you attend secondary school?
  • Where did you complete your tertiary education?

 Even with the help of our trusted friend Google I have not been able to figure out the relevance of these questions to my criminal past. Perhaps there is an epidemic of thugs robbing little kids from their lunch money?

Anya, dear sweet little girl, had to go for a medical check up. This makes sense. After a two and a half hour trip with the taxi we reached the hospital. The administration and waiting for the doctor only (No Sarcasm Smiley here!) took us an hour! 

We met the friendly gentleman. He looked at Anya and asked us her age. She is 9 months, we replied. At that point the doctor grabbed his pen signed the relevant document and added the desired read stamps to create the impression that the paper is slowly bleeding to death.

And that was it. The whole exam. So, theoretically Anya can have some disease that could wipe out the whole island, but the paper is stamped and signed.

 I have not yet told you about the arrogance of most of these office dwellers! Or the general laziness that makes tomorrow so much more desirable to do something than today. 

 Later much later we received the coveted  paper from Madame Lalatiana, whose friendliness and efficiency lifted our spirits every time we met her, much like the Statue of Liberty inspired so many immigrants through the years. (I have been accused of exaggerating by some jealous mean spirited people in the past!)

The next step was to apply for a passport for Anya so that she would be able to accompany her parents if they were to go to South Africa for nefarious or valid reasons.

This time I was armed with aforementioned the experience and the wisdom gained from it. I was ready for a fight to the end. I would do all in my power to beat the 6 weeks it took us to get Anya’s nationality recognised. 

And after probably about 4 hours we had the passport in our hands.

 I am still trying to figure out how this is possible. A national ID document does not allow you to cross international borders. In a sense a passport is a much more powerful document seeing that it allows you to travel abroad.

But still after about four hours we had it!

After sharing this story with some other fathers from abroad I allegedly heard the following story.

 

Jimmy said that they told him it would take eight weeks or more to get his daughter through the Nationality process before they can start with the passport. Jimmy explained that it would cause a lot of problems for him seeing that he already bought the air-tickets, booked the hotels etc for the end of the next week.

An alleged police officer then allegedly asked for “taxi money” so that he can travel to the relevant offices to expedite the process. Four days later Jimmy’s kid had a passport!

The “taxi money” was less than  we paid for a single return trip to one of the many offices! 

I am sure you can understand my jealousy? Or what would one call that feeling? But there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that we fought the system without paying a penny in bribes or “taxi money”

And moreover this is a testimony to God’s goodness.

 Next time, for there will surely be a next time, we have to battle with the Malagasy Bureaucracy I will not arm myself with the Clash’s “I fought the Law” or even with Bob Marley’s “I shot the Sheriff” (However tantalising!)

Rather, I will hide these words in my heart :

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Ps 23:4

 

Africa is a tough country, but Madagascar is funnier!

<Insert that customary meaningless bit about the long silence, how it is unforgivable and how the author will apply himself with the utmost diligence in the future.>

 If you Google “Africa is a tough country” you find lots of posts, pictures and perambulations that Africa, is, indeed, a tough country, then someone usually offers to sell you the ideal 4×4, winch, fishing-rod, camera, or pest resistant strain of tulip.

 If you Google Madagascar, you find bits about penguins, a vegan  lion, a rapping lemur king with a Indian Accent, and if you scroll down, way down you find that Madagascar is a real country in the midst of a political crisis! This is for sure much funnier than winches, fishing-rods and Tulips with an attitude.

I have been living in Madagascar sine the end of August 2003. That is a long time. It is like more than a thousand sleeps, and way more than a million grains of rice.

During my  8.5 years here I have had many adventures. I once helped to kick-start a 10 ton Mercedes truck! Hiked to see the Indri lemur in its natural habitat. Sat 24 hours next to the Tsribihina river waiting for the river taxi-boat. (Reading the book of Job actually helped to improve my mood!)

Getting married to a REAL princess, and becoming father are also great experiences that I would not have wanted anywhere but on the Red Island.

Madagascar is a country of contrasts and idiosyncrasies.  Ox-carts share the road with a few Porsche Cayennes.

But the weirdest and most wonderful, albeit extremely frustrating at times, adventures are to be had when interacting with the people. (Talking about the Malagasy people as if they are an homogeneous group is common practice but far removed from reality. It is like the ubiquitous (Thank you Opera for your built-in spell-checker!) South Africans. Which ones are you talking about, the black, brown, white, Indian, coloured or the other ones?)

Recently I was going to pick up my wife. some <insert age and audience appropriate adjective> person decides to cross the road. He just runs without turning his head at all once he crosses the middle, seeing that the traffic will now come from the opposite direction! 

No, he just runs. And he timed his run perfectly or imperfectly because the only way I avoided hitting him, after various loud and urgent blasts of the hooter or horn, was to fall with the motorbike.

After skidding to a very undignified halt, I jump up and grab this man by the neck. (In retrospect, it was not the most missionary action I  could have performed at that time, nor Christ-like in the least, but somehow hosting an impromptu Bible study on the infertility of Elizabeth did not seem appropriate either!)

I started asking him what his problem is? Then the rent-a-crowd start shouting at me. They soon reach this consensus: It is your (that is me the Author!) fault because you used the horn and that frightened the poor man!

The logic, the logic! (I am convinced that if I didn’t hoot, they would have blamed me for that instead!) 

The thing we learn here is that the road belongs to the pedestrian and never to the mechanised vehicle. 

This is not so surprising taking into account that the majority of the people in the country are pedestrians. 

Now this post is reaching the point where it should reveal some great insight to the reader.

I am going to stretch things a bit so that they meet up. 

Madagascar, the Red Island or Dago as it is also known is a great country. Sometimes it feels that the Malagasy are especially great at frustrating you because of their differentness. (Or am I the odd one out?)

 It is also a country in crisis. The political confusion that started in 2009 is just dragging on. Slowly it is strangling more and more of the poor.

Someone said: Show me the state of your roads and I will tell you how corrupt your government is. (Did I mention the 80 kilometres in 8 hours?)

My point is that slowly corruption and a host of other evils are pulling this country deeper into the abyss.

God willing I will be one of His instruments of life, light and change here. Even if is only I that change. 

World view

It has been quite a few years since I stumbled across the book “Discipling Nations” by Darrow Miller. In this book he opened my eyes to the existence of a new world, that of World view.

Wikipedia, our semi-omniscient friend, defines world view as:”the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing natural philosophy; fundamental existential and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and ethics.”

What a relief now that we know the definition! Or perhaps not! (We will get back to defining world view a bit later.)

Your world view determines how you see the world. How you interpret what you see.

An illustration: A visitor to Israel (some years ago) noticed that in some areas trees were being planted and the country developed. While in other areas nothing was happening. On asking around he found out that the areas that were being developed belonged to Israelis who saw it as “the land of milk and honey.” The other areas were settled by/ belonged to Palestinians who believed that the country was cursed by God. (My facts might be a little bit wrong, since it has been a while since I read this story.But it is fundamentally correct.)

Another illustration: Recently I told my gardener to remove a growing termite mound from a wooden door here in my house. He hesitated and wanted to know if it was really necessary. I told him that it was because they are destroying the door!

He told me that it would be better to leave the termites alone, because it is a sign of good luck if they build their mound inside a door.

Here we have two completely opposing ideas. One from a western world, ruled by science and facts and the other from a animistic world where invisible forces and powers rule earth.

If you, as a Westener hears some of the stories about “magic and whitch craft” that are commonly accepted as the truth here in Madagascar, you would just shake your head in disbelief and wonder: “What is wrong with those people?”

If a Malagasy person hears what you think about the existence of spirits etc. he/she would just shake his/her head in disbelief and wonder: “What is wrong with those people?”

By now, you should begin to see the point I am trying to make. Each person is brought up to think in a specific way. These “lessons” are not part of a curriculum or some such thing, but they form the basis of who you are!

Max Weber, author of “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” apparently said: “Ideas have consequences.” That means, the way you think determines the way you live and how you world will look like.

He was however not the originator of this thoughts. In Proverbs 4:23 we read “Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life.” (CEV) (Compare different translations.)

James Sire, Christian thinker and author of “The Universe Next door” defines World view as

1. “a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart,
2. that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or entirely false)
3. which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently)
4. about the basic construction of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.”

To simplify I often use this comparison.

* Culture tells us how to do something. How should one get married? How should one treat a child or an elder? How do you respect god/the gods? How does one become an adult? etc.
* Worldview, on the other hand is about why! Why should one get married, as ooposed to just living together? Why are children and elders treated differently? Why are elders respected. etc.

Both Christians and Muslims agrees that marriage is a sacred institution, and that co-habitation is forbidden. However if one where to examine the moitivation(s) for these apparently similar thoughts, you will find completely (?) different motivations!

Jesus says “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Jn 8:32, CEV). The whole concept of World view does not dispute this.

Understanding the world view of another enables you to communicate the truth to him in a way (I am not talking primarily about language, but more about concepts, ideas etc.) that he understands!

And this is the great challenge we are currently facing in our outreaches to Malgasy churches. Many of these men and women have accepted the church, much fewer have actually accepted Christ and entered into a living relationship with him.

We are now looking for ways to communicate the ultimate Truth via understanding the Malagasy Worldview in a way that makes sense in Madagascar!

Love is in the Air!

Laingo & Jandré On the 27th of March 2010,
I got married to RASOLOFONIAINA Laingo. (This explains my prolonged
silence.)

I met this beautiful girl early last year. Initially I might a very bad impression as she described me as arrogant! But, by the grace of God, I was able to convince her other wise.

The last few months was a whirl wind of planning and organising, buying and
looking for, meeting with and talking to. You have no idea how many kinds of lace, ribbons and material I had to look at.

As was to be expected, the bride was beautiful, as the pictures show. The
honeymoon was wonderful. We went to Saint Marie, a tiny truly tropical
island on the eastern side of Madagascar.

God willing Laingo will do a DTS (Discipleship Training School)
with YWAM (Youth with a Mission) later
this year here at  Antananarivo City DTS.
We plan to go to South Africa in December for a few months, mainly to
visit supporters, raise funds and to continue my education.

We have many plans for 2010. We have already identified three possible
villages in which we want to do a Bush-pastor outreach.

The Bush-pastor program involves various components. Primarily, we want to encourage the pastors where they work under difficult circumstances in
isolated villages. By screening the Jesus-film a few nights, we want to create interest in Jesus and the Gospel of the Good News. Coupled with this we plan to do some training about relevant topics.

These
include topics like: Who is Jesus, really? We are working on teaching
about  God of the Bible and the traditional god, who are often
called by the same name.

I apologise for
my long silence. I realise that  I let you down !

Wedding photos   
    Honey moon photos