Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Bible is not enough

I have been mulling over this for quite some time regarding a specific scripture and then just meditating on my personal experience and things God has shown me. The other night on my roof, God said a funny thing to me, which was basically to ‘be careful of someone who only quotes scripture’. This sounded quite to me because I have heard it preached for so many years that we should not believe in anything that we do not find in scripture. If anyone has an idea or an experience, it can only be verified as legal by a corresponding ‘book, chapter and verse’ from the bible, otherwise, it was not God.

The scripture I have been contemplating is from Ephesians 3, where Paul prays that he wants the Ephesians (including us of coarse) to ‘know the love of God that surpasses knowledge’. I asked God one day why it is that He would want us to know his love, if by his own admittance, it is beyond knowledge. Then I decided to get hold of a good old faithful Greek concordance to check out the definition of ‘knowledge’ in both contexts. Basically it means, that the only way we will fully encounter and engage the fullness of His love for us, is by experiencing it, and not just approaching it in a methodical, scientific and/or intellectual way.

Jesus said to the religious leaders of his time “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39). What Jesus said here confirms my thoughts on the issue (I have a book, chapter and verse, which is wonderfully ironic) in that you can have all the biblical or intellectual knowledge of God, and yet be without any life. Dare I state this in the negative and further conclude that, you can have memorized all the scriptures and know a whole lot about God rationally (‘about’ being the operative word) and be full of death?

The point is that the scriptures in themselves are a solid foundation, that should most definitely not be neglected, but if they do not lead you to a life of intimacy with Jesus, they did not achieve their purpose and will leave you with an inferior revelation of God. 

I liken it to 2 people who have a sports card about their favourite sportsman, lets say John Smith. The card gives you all the exact details regarding his weight, height, experience, strengths, weaknesses etc and by the end of an in depth study of the information, both friends can have a very accurate insight into John Smith as a player. Then, the one friend gets to meet John Smith in person and goes for a coffee with him, chats about life and many other more personal things, and at the end gives him a handshake and says goodbye. Both people have the same basic information about John Smith, but the one friend has now actually met him and tells his friend about how big he really is in person, about his favourite food and how strong his hand shake was.  The encounter he had with John is completely foreign to his friend and he will just never get it, unless he also encounters John in that way.

That is how it is for many people. They know the scriptures about God’s character and that He loves them, they know He is kind and compassionate and forgiving, they ‘know’ all these things, but do not really know God at all. One controversial scripture often quoted and taught is when Jesus says to a group of people “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:23).  Very interesting is that Jesus said HE did not know THEM. We all know that God knows everything about every single person on the planet, but I believe this shows a key insight into the heart of God in that He desires to get to know us through relationship. It is not enough for Him to simply know everything about us for its own sake, He desires conversation, questions, sharing, laughing, hugging etc and I even add disagreement (for controversies sake). Somehow we think it is okay for us to simply know about God and never truly engage Him, when He desires more than that.

Recently God has been asking me questions, and given Janna and I amazing dreams at night. Why would God ask a question, when He knows the answer? Why would He give us dreams and want them to be sought out for interpretation when He could just have made it clear in the first place? Why give us different options in life regarding jobs, relocation, spouses, friends, church and so forth, why not just tell us plainly exactly what He wants us to do? 

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. (Proverbs 25:2)” God said of the Israelites that they “knew my works but they did not know my ways” (somewhere in the bible). Bottom line is, Jesus did not die on a cross so we can have church, reach the lost, go to heaven, heal the sick, feed the poor or any of those wonderful things that I desire to see more and more, but primarily, He came and died, so we can have relationship with our Father.

Much love,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

God is not one dimensional, but we should be

Hopefully you are still reading after seeing the title, but let me explain. I have often asked God how it works that so many different people are hearing Him on specific things so differently. Many a preacher will proclaim so emphatically from the pulpit week in and week out how God has told him something, as with thousands of other preachers around the world. The context I have been pondering is church and what that really looks like, but you can apply that to pretty much anything in life really. There are those who are convinced on mega church, others who have heard God speak to them about house church, and some have obeyed God and left church altogether. Everyone writes a book and confidently lays out their personal reason why they are right and everyone else has missed it. They say it so assuredly because God has spoken, and let us be honest, that is quite a powerful stamp of approval. The problem I have, is to decide who the heck is actually hearing God and who to trust? I venture an alternative solution to wondering who is actually right, and that is, that maybe everyone is!

Let me just state that if someone is clearly preaching law and the church is dominated by hierarchy, man-made tradition, control and basically lacks His presence, I will not be staying long at all. There are however many movements and churches who have an awesome presence of God and wonderful fruits and so therefore seem to have all of heavens unlimited resources being poured out on them in increasing measures, which brings me back to think, that surely they must all be doing something right. The big church guys judge the house church guys, the house church judge the more institutional church and every other shape and form in between. Maybe, just maybe, everyone is actually right.

What has happened in the last few years with me and many others around the world is that we do simply not just believe everything we get told as the only way to do things. There is a healthy part of us that questions things or at very least wants to make sure if there is not maybe a better way, in order to be more effective. What I have done wrong though is then to assume that because I do not feel very comfortable with something, that it must be wrong.

Which leads me to my current, and ever growing in clarity, conclusion (because no one has all the answers) If we all just stop trying to do what we think is the right thing to do, because someone told us, what God told them, maybe the church will only then be at her most effective, radiant, glamorous and effective. If you want to start a house church and that’s what gets you excited, do it. If you desire to grow a church of thousands in a building with lights and all the added extras, do it. If you want to meet with friends in Star Bucks once a week, then do it. Many people declare very confidently that scripture is clear on what the church should look like, but I find that very presumptuous. The scriptures are very clear on a few basic things regarding church: they definitely met together often; they were passionate about Jesus and His kingdom advancing. Other than that, it is really quite a grey area as to what exactly that looks like. Many take a scripture, apply it to their experience, conviction and preference, and then out comes a result that they tell everyone to follow. Someone else will take that same scripture and give you a different conclusion.

I could go on for long here, but want to end by explaining the title a bit. Many of us fall for the trap to simply get on board with something even if we do not really want to. We feel pressure because if we do not, we will get labeled as those who do not want to pay the price or are selfish etc. I think we need to be way more one dimensional in our approach and simply do what brings us joy. God will never be fully revealed to all the different nations and cultures by one approach to church. All people will not be reached if everyone thinks it only happens on a Sunday. The individual believer must stay focused and hotly pursue what burns inside of him, and in that way, a multi colorful expression of God will so impact the schools, streets, churches, market places and distant villages of this earth that Jesus will simply have to return soon. If we are more intentional, and one dimensional, in doing the joyful, good works that He has prepared for us individually, we will all together, reflect the full width, length, height and depth of God’s extravagant love.

Much love,


Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Illusion of Tommorow...

The reason for this seemingly strange topic started as a result of a question God asked me the other day, which was 'What are you doing in Hong Kong?'. It came as quite a shock to be honest as I always thought that radical obedience (since He told us to come to Hong Kong while in China) was always a great idea. Since I also know that God does not ask questions because He does not know the answer, for example, God definitely knew where Adam was hiding, but it is because God desires relationship, and not strictly blind obedience. A great Skype chat with the arch bishop himself (private joke, but you may guess who) and a few other moments recently made me think about a few things.

My first few years of christian life were dominated by this facade of immediate and drastic change that would occur when I relocate to another country 'for Jesus'. The inverted commas are not there because it is not true, but because there is an element of deception to 'the nations' that I have held on to over those years. The reality also is that all of you back in South Africa only hear from me time to time after a China trip update or maybe something else exciting that has happened, and that is not a bad thing, that is just the nature of long distance friendships, but it can bring some confusion.

For many years I lived my life thinking how different everything will be when I move to another country one day, how there will be this sovereign move of God in my life that will instantly transform me into this super evangelist or reckless kingdom warrior that has no issues or problems in life. Anyone that ever left to relocate somewhere was always put on some invisible pedestal and when we hear of them next, they share five minutes at church about life abroad or we hear a testimony of how God is using them. I use to fantasise about that day for many, many times.

Well, here I am in Hong Kong, living my dream. Now do not get me wrong, I most definitely am living my dream! No doubt about it, and I am convinced of my (obviously including Janna) call here from God and would have turned into a different person had I stayed in South Africa (for the worse). My point however (and I have one) is this, I still get sick, still have to work many hours a week, still get disappointed, still battle with fear of man, still pass up opportunities to minister (which sucks to admit), still am just the same Derik you know. For some people they chase getting married, or traveling, or finding another church, or a new job etc. Always thinking that magically it will all become perfect when they get to that place they imagine they want to be.

Only when they get there, they realise nothing has really changed and they wonder why.
The only thing that has changed for me is that I followed my hearts desire. I wanted to go to China and so I came. I want to preach the gospel, and that is what I do. When I was in South Africa, I went to prisons, brothels, clubs, the beach, the streets, wherever, and did what my heart burned for. The challenges in Hong Kong are different and I really miss the freedom there was in South Africa for that sort of thing! Being involved in China however, is a large part of the reason why I was born, I am convinced of it.

I want to encourage all of you to simply do this one thing, go hard after Jesus. Seek His presence, seek His face, do what you love to do as often as you can, but do not despise your current reality as inferior and always desire after tomorrow. Today IS yesterdays tomorrow (if that makes sense), your dreams, desires and prophecies of the past can and want to be manifested today. Do not wait until you get 'there', wherever the heck that is.

It seems a bit incoherent as I read through this, but it is only because I am still trying to answer the question myself. My conclusion is simply to live life large today, when your inspired or prompted to do something, do it now. Waiting for tomorrow or when everything is the way you are hoping it to be, is a delusion that simply results in being ineffective and possibly borders on gnosticism (always desiring some secret knowledge or wisdom that keeps us powerless, discussing much, and doing little)

Do not forget, even though many of us are on a quest for authentic christian community and there is a definite and ongoing shift in church and what church should be, church still is and always will be, the answer. Stay close to friends and even closer to Jesus.

Much love,