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Men’s Conference: “Fire in the Belly”

A call to all the Men,

I’ve been invited to do an important day conference for men at New Creation Family Church (NCFC) in Robin Hills Randburg, South Africa), on Saturday, 24 August 2013.

A link for booking with event details is included in the attached flyerContinue reading Men’s Conference: “Fire in the Belly”

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Ignatian and Eastern Orthodox Spirituality

A while ago I asked for prayer regarding my wife and I starting the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises under the weekly guidance of the Jesuits in Johannesburg (“Ignatian Retreat in Daily Life”, an hour a day of prayer-meditation over a ten month period). It drew quite a bit of feedback. A few years ago a friend of mine in Norway gave me an eastern orthodox prayer rope (he makes them). He recently asked if I could share a picture of it, as he wanted to put it on his Facebook page. This too has drawn comments. I’ve been asked, “why are you doing this Catholic and Orthodox spirituality stuff?” Here’s a brief perspective. Continue reading Ignatian and Eastern Orthodox Spirituality

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Tribute to Dallas Willard (1935-2013)

Personal Tribute to Dallas Willard (1935-2013)
By Alexander Venter, Ascension Day 2013

A great man of God – in the truest sense of the words – has passed into the kingdom of the heavens. After a protracted struggle with cancer Dallas Albert Willard entered the fullness of God’s presence yesterday, 8 May. He is now at home in the arms of the Father, Son and Spirit – and that of his extended family and friends, in the communion of saints. Our prayers are with his wife, Jane, and their children, John and Becky (and her husband Bill and child Karissa).

Like many others, I was honored to have Dallas as a most influential mentor and friend. I first met him through a colleague Trevor Hudson, at a pastor’s retreat in South Africa in 1987 (if I remember correctly Dallas came to South Africa on five ministry visits, leaving a rich legacy of spiritual formation in our nation). He taught on the “The Spirit of the Disciplines”, and then gave me a copy of his typed manuscript of the yet unpublished book. It was just before my marriage to Gill, so the manuscript became our reading on honeymoon – not as in appropriate as you may think! I mention this story to say that it was the new start of an intentional journey of spiritual formation toward Christlikeness – because we were so inspired by Dallas’ soft heart, gentle character, profoundly insightful mind, and diligent apprenticeship to Jesus. Continue reading Tribute to Dallas Willard (1935-2013)

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Pastoral Letter: Novena & Pentecost

Hi Family and Friends,

I am soooo thrilled at what’s happening in our church. God is working among us. Faith and energy is rising. Father, pour out your Holy Spirit with great power!

What is a Novena? It’s nine days of prayer for the outpouring of God’s Spirit. Continue reading Pastoral Letter: Novena & Pentecost

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Post Resurrection Encounters in Following Jesus – Peter’s Call Renewed (Part 1)

The audio is available to listen online or download with notes.

The text: John 21:1-23 (following it over two weeks)

This story of Jesus’ encounter with Peter is but one of Jesus’ appearances over a 40 day period (Acts 1:3), proving his bodily resurrection, restoring his followers and weaning them from his physical presence – for them to depend on the indwelling Holy Spirit.

First, note the broad features of this most tender encounter:

  • The setting on the shore of the sea of Tiberias (Galilee) and the miraculous catch clearly connotes Peter’s original call in Luke 5:1-11 (read it and compare)
  • And by making a fire on that cold early morning and asking Peter three times if he loved him, Jesus recreated and reversed Peter’s threefold denial, which took place around a fire (see John 13:36-37, 18:10-27)
  • The implication: Jesus comes to each of us at critical times to restore and heal, often by recreating and reinterpreting what happened (our disillusionment and death), leading to a deeper honesty and self-knowledge, with a profound renewal (resurrection) of our followership and calling to minister (love) in his name

Second, meditate on the details and layers of meaning in the first story (John 21:1-14):

John 21:3 – Why did Peter go back to fishing? What do you ‘go back to’ when disillusioned… ? Continue reading Post Resurrection Encounters in Following Jesus – Peter’s Call Renewed (Part 1)

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Post Resurrection Encounters in Following Jesus – On the Road to Emmaus

The audio is available to listen online or download with notes.

Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection over a period of 40 days (Acts 1:3), proving that he was alive, restoring them from the trauma of his death (renewing faith and following, e.g. Thomas: “my Lord and my God”). The encounters and disappearances weaned his followers from dependence on his physical presence, so that they live by faith in his invisible presence – the indwelling Holy Spirit. The post resurrection stories are paradigms of how Jesus encounters us today by his Spirit, to restore and heal us.

The Two on the Road to Emmaus
Read this beautiful story in Luke 24:13-35 as an exercise in “Lectio Divina

  • Lectio: Read the story slowly and prayerfully, asking God to speak to you… then…
  • Meditatio: Meditate on what God says to you through the reading – whatever ‘grabs’ you, a word or phrase that speaks to you, or an image that fires your mind… then…
  • Oratio: Pray orally (or mentally) about your meditation on the text; i.e. respond to God by praying about what he says to you in the text via your thoughts, feelings… and then…
  • Contemplatio: Contemplation is the last step in Lectio Divina, moving from mediation and prayer to complete silence – beyond thoughts, images, words, feelings – to the still point of simply resting in God’s most intimate and loving embrace.

To help you ‘feed off’ this story – and for discussion in your home group – here are some pointers for meditation (the best is to relive the story in your imagination):

Reconstruct the context in your mind: it’s the Sunday that Jesus rose, they are walking home depressed, traumatized by Jesus’ death, confused by reports of him being alive… their Kingdom hopes utterly dashed. How have you been disillusioned? Continue reading Post Resurrection Encounters in Following Jesus – On the Road to Emmaus

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Exploring Membership – Session 6 (with Notes)


Listen to the audio of the Sermon for Session 6

We have looked at:

    1. Jesus and his first community – to follow Jesus was to join his local group;
    2. The Early Church – initiation into Christian faith (in baptism) meant belonging in the local church;
    3. Three Sociological models of ‘doing church’ and their underlying values – we do ‘centered set’ church;
    4. Our Ministry Framework – our mission, vision, values, priorities and practices (the circled triangle); and its structured implementation via HELP (Holistic Equipping Life Process) and the People’s Flow chart.

    Also attached is some accompanying notes about Home Groups: 20130317 – Exploring Membership 6 Notes Continue reading Exploring Membership – Session 6 (with Notes)

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    Business People’s Breakfast

    The audio is available to listen online or download with notes.

    1. Welcome….  Thanks to the caters… take an offering to help cover expenses
    2. Purpose of the breakfast: To talk about Kingdom economy – work and money – in relation to the scriptures, personal financial health and our church belonging.
    3. My basic assumptions in calling this meeting and giving this input: 
      1. Pastoral responsibility: I’m giving leadership in regard to finances because I’m your pastor and will account to God one day for you (Heb 13:17) Continue reading Business People’s Breakfast
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    Post Resurrection Encounters in Following Jesus – Thomas’ experience

    The sermon audio is available to listen online or to download (updated).

    Last week we remembered and relived the resurrection in John 19:38-42;20:1-23 (Pope Francis said in his ‘Resurrection Homily’ that Mary’s tears at the empty tomb were her “glasses” through which she saw Jesus ever more clearly. Our tears of sadness, loss, trouble, pain, etc, are a gift to see God ‘in all things’).

    Mark (Mark 16:9-14), the earliest Gospel, says Jesus appeared to various people after his resurrection, re-affirming the call and commission to follow, form and fish.

    Luke says (Acts 1:3) the risen Jesus revealed himself to many over a period of 40 days (before He ascended to heaven) teaching them about the Kingdom of God. He was weaning them from dependence on his physical presence, to live by faith (not by sight) in his invisible presence: His indwelling Holy Spirit.

    Thomas’ encounter with Jesus (John 20:24-30)

    Firstly, what is the significance of his followers recognizing and identifying Jesus by the marks of crucifixion – His scars (that he will have throughout eternity)? Continue reading Post Resurrection Encounters in Following Jesus – Thomas’ experience