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Common Sense

there’s nothing common about “common” sense…

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Exams

Uhuh… it’s that time of year again and exams are on the go. Now, at the beginning of the year, i was enthusiastic and was really looking forward to taking on all 8 subjects (part-time). 😀 Aight, turned out a little too ambitious, and i ended up dropping one a third of the way into the year. But then i sat with (am sitting with) 7. Hectic. Although, i’m glad i set an ambitious goal ‘cos, well, like the saying goes: “aim halfway and you just might get there” 😉

Anyhow, got Calculus coming up in a couple of hours. I got derivatives and integrals pouring through my brain- and i sure do hope that my head holds out until next week. One thing though… these exams, besides the actual increase in mathematical knowledge, have been filled with lessons, namely:
* take big chunks out of life
* and then don’t be scared to spit something out if the chunk really was too big
* you’d be surprised at what you end up handling vs. what you thought you could handle
* don’t delay your dreams for too long, as Jack would say, don’t let your dreams stay dreams.
* have fun

But then some revelations, more than lessons… and the real support for undertaking all the above. Without Lolly telling me to “go study” or being patient (smile and nod) while i rambled on about inductive proof or just making that cup of tea when i really needed it… indeed, the real prize for me is being able to just get through it and experience a lot of lovin’ in the process.

Of course, you also need to consider that “life” doesn’t stop either… the plumbing breaks, the interest rates go up, babies get born, jobs change, the house needs fixing, anniversaries, birthdays, community commitments; all that goes on “as normal”. And just getting through it all, in one piece, well, that’s *almost* prize enough. Which doesn’t mean i’d be happy if i didn’t pass any papers! 😀

Some things stretch and test you in ways you never imagined… and it doesn’t have to be a degree or a couple of exams… but being part of that process really adds *something* to everything, without ever being _that_ important on its own. And that, for me, is key. Nothing seems to have much significance on it’s own. It’s the space in which that thing contributes where learning, loving and living takes place.

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Winter of Content

This is why living in Cape Town (South Africa, actually) is sooo worth anything. We have these amazing indian-summer-meets-winter days.. oh yes. This is winter, folks. Hardly the Cape of Storms, although, don’t be fooled, we have our fair share and this year has been exceptional. But then there’s this…
paddleout.jpg
and then…
riding.jpg
and … ahhhhh
turn.jpg

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Rational Thinking

there does seem to be a particular glory bestowed upon the “rational thinker”. we can certainly pride ourselves in it when, either by delusion, reality or way of compliment, we are attributed with the phrase “rational thinker”. and as such, we perpetuate the idea that there is something superior to the art/skill of rational thinking. however…

how many times you had a great idea just hit you “out of the blue”? anything rational about that experience? and i would hazard to assume that a large percentage of revolutionary ideas are from rational. for example, was creating a mode of transport that defied gravity a rational decision? if anything, in it’s time, flying was not certainly not logical, nor a reasonable idea. and as much as “the world is round” was also not a logical conclusion, based on the knowledge at hand at the time. until, with time, it became a rational idea. and therein too, lies the rub. what is not rational today, may be rational tomorrow and vice-versa thereby betraying the fickle nature of reason and logic.

i don’t think rational thought is the be all and end all, and not even close to being one of the more superior thought processes available to man. in fact, sometimes rational thought is precisely what holds us back and curbs our potential. nay, rational thought is but one of many “tools” we can use at the right time to a ‘better’ end. but let’s not neglect, nor relegate it’s cousins, inspired thought and gut feeling, to second class citizenship 😉

now that’s to not say that if you pride yourself on being a rational thinker, you’re somewhat missing the point. in that case, your skill is more advanced than others in the domain of reason. but if you want to explore the untapped potential of what you can achieve, tap a little more creatively into the inspired side of your life… not with reckless abandon, but with a little less inhibition and get ready to be surprised 😉

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SA Bashing

i used to think that the popular pasttime of South Africa-bashing was reserved for expats living, mostly, in the UK. but the sport has caught on quite quickly within our borders. sad, but true. you’ll recognise over-indulged sentences like “the government should have” or “those people” and “you see, i told you”. And more. Everyone’s a critic it seems, and more so true than ever before.

And while we do have our share of issues to deal with, we, the ones still living in this incredibly beautiful country, still have to deal with them. Complaining without action is just complaining. It’s not a solution. Offering your unsolicited, uneducated and distanced opinion is also not a solution. Ground work is where it counts. And there are plenty of organisations, initiatives and causes to throw yourself into that can make a visible difference. That is, if you really wanted to. Especially now that you’re earning the currency so often bragged about. And if you don’t want to pitch in and make a difference, polluting our environment with negative emotions is one less problem we can do without.

There is a stark reality to what South Africa is- no one can deny it. But there is also hope.

Ok. So that’s the end of my rant in response to the never-ceasing (or so it seems) opinions of Saffers living elsewhere. I’m not negating or even want to come close to nullify reasons and experiences that may serve to wholly justify the array of negative opinion. It’s not about that. It’s about: life happens, so now what? and character, as we saw from the Super14 Final game… is what shows when the chips are down 😀

Go, Bulls!!

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Shavuot, erm Pentecost

it’s that time of year where we have opportunity to celebrate just two radical gifts that God chose to give the world: the law and the Spirit. in this day, back in history, these two gifts significantly changed, and continue to shape the world we live in.

now if you’ve got a culture of Judaism, you’ll understand the meaning of Shavuot quite well.. if you’ve got more of a Christian upbringing, chances are, …well, let’s just say that it will mean different things depending on where you experienced that culture.

anyhow, so not to confuse Pentecost with Shavuot too much, there is a useful link, celebrating the giving of the torah i came across which helps explain (at least for me) some of the more biblical traditions. And yes, there are some non-scriptural traditions too. but i’m referring mostly to understanding transmitted in those pages which help shed light on origin, without the fluff of post-modern christian-oriented humanism.

the persepctive is refreshing and worth considering, even if the only thing it does is get you to open your bible and mediate upon His Word 😉

Oh, and if you think living by the Ten Commandments is old-fashioned, i bet you’d be surprised by just how many you probably agree are valuable principles for a peaceful society.

Anyhow, but let’s not forget that although “rules is rules”, without a heartfelt understanding of the Spirit of the law, the letter remains unattainable and horribly binding. But by Spirit, the application is liberating! 😀 That’s Part Deux to Pentecost, this day in history…

“And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place.
And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a
mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire;
and it sat upon each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with
other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

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Religious Fervour

it is ironic that the only people Jesus ever fought with were the super-religious types. here were a bunch of people who really followed the details of the letter but completely missed the boat. i guess they favoured the process over the people. and Jesus rectified that, but He also never said to throw out the process, did He?

We live with these Christian traditions that are in danger of institutionalizing themselves [if not already] to the degree that the people are no longer the point. It’s about the order of service. It’s about maintaining and defending the traditions of church, with scant regard to how people respond to them. And yes, there are examples of this not happening: this is not about those examples.

There’s this checklist which defines who is and who isn’t a christian, as if it’s actually quite important to be one in the eyes of the world. And we’re challenged by the world, and ourselves, to maintain and represent christians around the world, in truth. and as noble and true as that might ring, that is completely not the point. yet it is 🙂

first priority is your own salvation in the eyes of God; not man, not church, not even your own pastor. not even a prophet can declare your state of salvation. God alone has that right, and what a good thing that is. and you will know because He will declare it to you. also, believing you are a child of God is quite different from knowing you are one. kinda like marriage. before you enter into a covenant relationship with someone, you have all sorts of fancy ideas and presumptuous notions about what it is. you might even believe you’re married [co-habiting] but then you actually get married. it’s no surprise a relationship with God is any different. afterall, marriage is His institution. so unless you’re enjoined to God in a covenant, talking like you are is not going to help anyone, the very least of whom is yourself.

so church traditions and the order of service are setup to establish a form of godliness, but deny the power of God. they might never have been intended that way, but they become that way. give it enough time, enough apathy and pretty soon all you got is a framework that exists to define what is christian and what is not.

does that mean you throw out the framework? no. it’s all about attitude and no amount of re-engineering of the process is going to realign your life with God. you’re just going to establish yet another framework or framework version 2. so instead of trying to make up your own, use the one that God provided, from the beginning. afterall, we do need a framework of sorts with which to worship God otherwise it’s too loose for us to grasp, or be intentional about. fortunately, God did provide us with a framework, a process which we can use to facilitate our worship of Him. it starts with a sabbath…

uhoh. sounds like legalism 🙂 well, if God’s instructions are too legalistic, then so be it. but then perhpas we should not be so ready to defend our own traditions against God’s wisdom and commands. then we have a bigger problem than just the letter. it is ironic though, in all this, how religious we can get about being “not religious”. of course, the advantage of religiously supporting a “no religious attitudes” policy is that it’s open to everyone…

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Battle of the Browser

indeed, there is much ado about what when it comes to browser market share and it does seem that IE and Firefox dominate the limelight. Anyways, while they sort themselves out, i was prompted to give Opera a try. The result: pleasant. It’s light and responsive and, well, refreshing. No pun intended :) Overall, “neat” [to borrow an americanism], in all senses of the word.

now it’s just transferring all those stored passwords.. hehe

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Unreal

i guess it’s pretty shocking to open up the “papers” after a lekker weekend of busy-rustig and read about Kenneth’s murder and then carry on with the day “as normal”. Not like i knew him personally, but met him briefly after one open water swim here in Cape Town in 2005. In my own words, he seemed a pretty “cool dude”. And could he swim! Man, it was poetry in motion the way he glided through the water and i totally respected his talent and ability. Too sad…

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Prophecy

depending on many things, this word can mean a lot of things. and if you’re a post-modern western society christian [and even if you’re not, but i dunno since i can only speak from one perspective here], the word prophecy conjurs all sorts of “special” things. being a propet just sounds so much more appealing than being an ordinary [fill-the-blanks].

of course, there’s a lot in the Word about the office of prophecy, and being prophetic. and of course, the idea of “foretelling” comes into the picture and being able to divine the future makes you some sort of prophet. oh-hum. more pagan ideas and too many errors and half-truths to bother engaging with…

Joh 7:37  On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.
Joh 7:38  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”
Joh 7:39  Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Joh 7:40  When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.”

Right. So what is a prophet exactly? Both the original Greek and Hebrew usage conveys, quite simply, an inspired speaker. And by extension, a poet. And it’s not unreasonable to imply, given the context, that we’re specifically referring to being inspired _of God_. It does make the above scenario in John suddenly a lot more accessible. It also highlights an important aspect about being a prophet.

Everytime we, as post-modern western society Christians start quoting the Word as a form of encouragment or rebuke, our intention is to provide inspiration, or act out of inspiration. In fact, many times, i have heard [and said this myself]… “i just had a scripture come to mind” and we speak that into the situation. We’re being prophetic. Let’s make sure that what we speak “comes true”. We know what lies in store for false prophets….

There’s another dynamic which i personally struggle with when it comes to this sort of inspiration. There’s practically an expression and piece of wisdom/advice for just about every situation. And they could go advise different things, based on context. There are no formulas with God [read about how Jesus healed blind men. Just about every time, He used a a different method]. So, there being no formulas combined with “a season for everything”, how do you know which advice is meant to be offered as inspired advice?

The answer to that lies in knowing all the possible scenarios. How many times have you debated/prayed about a situation and held two [or more] scriptures against each other to find out which one applies to the situation you’re dealing with? And they can both be applied quite differently with opposite effects. You need more understanding, that is to say, you need to understand more possibilities. But how is that ever going to be possible when the only thing you ever read is Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? And then for measure, you’ll occasssionaly read Acts. Romans is a stretch. Ephesians is a quick read and James is pretty cool. The other 75% of the Word is old-fashioned, right? So we struggle with situations because of our lack of knowledge of God and then wonder why the Spirit isn’t bringing anything into remembrance. There’s nothing there to begin with to remember.

Anyways, back to being prophetic. When we comfort and encourage others, we are more likely to choose from our pool of most recently read [heard] scriptures [the fresh ones] as the ones we want to /need to speak. But what if that well-intentioned advice is the wrong one? You end up giving that person a false hope because what you’ve said doesn’t come true. If any advice, based on God’s Word is just just wishful thinking and convenient, and not led by God’s Spirit, are you not being falsely inspired? Hope delayed kills. And more harm has been done by mainstream psycho-prophets bullying people out of hope and ca$h. No wonder God wanted them stoned at the city gates.

So before you utter words of comfort and rebuke next time, be pretty sure they are inspired Words and not just convenient catch phrases and overused expressions designed to make people hope for something that will never happen. If it is God inspired, it _will_ happen. I say this to myself as well as general commentary to the greater community around me. Why? Because, quite frankly, i am weary of hearing these cliche’s phrases which never do come true. They got me all excited for nothing. And that burns!

And more… whatever you tell someone, are you prepared to put your head on a block for it? if we took this business of being prophetic as seriously as it’s supposed to be, there would be a lot less noise out there- and more of the clarity of God’s Word being spoken.