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John Van Dinther & Friends

Featured Posts

Faces in the shadows of life Distorted as if looking through broken glass Images of times long due The trafficking of drugs, alcohol, goods, resources and humans rises and accelerates as capitalistic greed moves from hidden centers of power unto the streets and arenas of our world Young African soccer geniuses roam the streets of the cities of Italy as their abilities fall short of demands,...

Read more

Hidden brokeness and pain through divorce Svenska Dagbladet published an article  in the ”Idag” series today about divorce and the effect is has on children. A recently published PhD report suggests that there is no difference in well-being between adults whose parents got divorced while they were a child and adults whose parents did not get divorced. The divorce in itself would not be causing damage to children....

Read more

Using loopholes in American Football – Tim Tebow’s... Tim Tebow, a Christian who plays quarterback in American football has forced a new rule in the NCAA football season because Tebow, during his college football career, carried (Biblical) messages on his eye black.  "The Tebow Rule" dubbed by media banns messages on eye paint. In the 2009 BCS Championship Game, he wore John 3:16 on his eye paint, and as a result, 92...

Read more

Keep your pants on! The case for clergy boxer shorts… Give people a fair chance with Fair Trade clergy boxer shorts – be transparent and show who you really are! One of the latest products of “the Fair Taylor” – a Swedish company that designs and promotes Fair Trade clothing products is the clergy boxer shorts. This is a product my I have been waiting for since I was called into ministry in 1981… The matter my...

Read more

Assemble your own baby – rent a womb and the practice... Believe it or not but, according to the Wall Street Journal, you can assemble your own baby, rent a womb (or a few) for a low fee, and will receive in due time the long-expected text message on your cell phone stating that you have become a parent! How convenient that is, as we stress through our lives and try to get what we want without having to adjust our lifestyles. Scenario...

Read more

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Don’t talk badly about your church!

Category : Church, church planting, evangelism, Jesus Christ, justice, leadership, lifestyle, Relationships, sverige, Sweden, Uncategorized

I am privileged…
I am privileged to belong a God and to “a people” who belong to God.
It is a privilege to serve the people whom God has brought on our path as my wife and I started our journey as believers in Jesus Christ in 1972. Since that time we have met literally tens of thousands of people throughout the whole world and thousands of them were or have become followers of Jesus Christ.
To follow Jesus has been a hurtful process in many ways as our extended families were not committed believers and at times, estranged us from them, as we didn’t live and think as they wanted us to and as we became uncomfortable to their lives and life choices. That “forced” us to throw our lives together with our “new” family; that of the believers, sisters and brothers in Jesus from all many different backgrounds, cultures and experiences.

For many years, in many ways, this was our only family and we understood Jesus’, for us at times, painful words in Matthew 12: 46 – 50 “While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.””
I had to learn that my family was this gathering of individuals that I had not considered nor chosen, those strangers that I had to learn to love. And as time passed and we were given the responsibility to actually lead some churches that we were part of starting, our lives were not only thrown together with others, they became inseparable intertwined with them. We were ONE.

My heart hurts when leaders and pastors speak badly about the congregations and people they lead. I have met many who often speak in bad terms about the church they have the privilege of leading. It hurts me to hear that.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 4.21.34 PM
It was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said: “A pastor should never complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men.” (Life Together)
I know the frustration, anguish and pain that can come from people in a church who question you behind your back, who tell you one thing to your face and another thing when you’re not around. I will address with these things with people as I become aware of them. I also know that there are so many things in my life and the life of the church that could be better… my first response after people who are not part of our church tell me how wonderful they think our church is… is: “Yes, but…” (and then I will tell them areas where growth is needed and where we need to repent, re-consider or transform). But in general people will hear positive responses and reports about the church and this wonderful group of people that God placed on our path. I am truly privileged to belong to such a great group of people. And don’t let anyone try to tell me anything else!
That’s the Way I see it!
John

Faces in the shadows of life

Category : Featured, global, human rights, Jesus Christ, justice, lifestyle, mission, Relationships, sverige, Sweden

face

Distorted as if looking through broken glass
Images of times long due
The trafficking of drugs, alcohol, goods, resources and humans rises and accelerates as capitalistic greed moves from hidden centers of power unto the streets and arenas of our world

Young African soccer geniuses roam the streets of the cities of Italy as their abilities fall short of demands, shattering their dreams, their lives and the promises made to them.
Disillusioned, hurt and abandoned they will do anything to survive yet another day

child

Mutilated young Romani children created and shaped into objects of pity as the beg on the streets of our affluent cities
The Asian and African young poor imported like cheaply produced goods to fill the gaps of undesired labor by nationals who can afford to take no job at all

Young Eastern European women enticed with empty promises like their sisters from other continents build a human highway to the west where their bodies and services are sold to the most wanting, only to be thrown out like human waste after inhuman consumption

It repeats itself all over again I think as I walk the streets of Lagos Portugal where centuries ago the open slave market brought capital to the then affluent society, will we ever learn?

By John van Dinther

Hidden brokeness and pain through divorce

3

Category : Featured, global, human rights, justice, lifestyle, Relationships, sverige, Sweden, Uncategorized

Svenska Dagbladet published an article  in the ”Idag” series today about divorce and the effect is has on children. A recently published PhD report suggests that there is no difference in well-being between adults whose parents got divorced while they were a child and adults whose parents did not get divorced. The divorce in itself would not be causing damage to children. The reason that some adults were experiencing difficulties was that there was not enough clarity and communication around the divorce, or not enough time to mourn about the separation before a new partner came into the home.

I understand that it is important for people to know how to get through difficult times and how to behave towards and talk to their children. But what made me very sad is the fact that this research was presented in a way that was basically communicating: “It is no problem to get divorced; this will not affect your children in the long run. Just make sure you do it ´the right way´.”

So how did we get to this point where divorce is presented as an event void of any consequences? I don´t want to be naive to the reality that 55% of all marriages in Sweden do end up in a divorce (the highest rate in the world). And I personally know people that struggle with hurting and unhealthy marriages. But how could we ever take the consequences so lightly? Why are we desperately trying to believe that it is not all that bad?

Can we assume that this research is presenting an objective truth? How can scientific methods of research really tell us how people are doing? Somehow, I believe that brokenness and pain are hidden in places where no clever psychological method can find them. I believe that events like a divorce have a profound effect on children. Can we really make a ´three-step-plan´ for successful divorces with no harm done to the children?

Can we not go one step back in the whole discussion? May I suggest a rather opposite way of thinking? One that I heard in a sermon by one of the pastors in New Life Church about a year ago… “What your children need to see, is that you give your life for your spouse and that your family is worth everything. Fight the good fight! That way, you open up the way for Jesus´ love to work in and through you.”

Let us discuss how we can support one another to fight the good fight. Let us not tell ourselves that there are no effects to divorce. Let us believe that forgiveness can create a way. Let us keep hope that miracles do happen.

That´s the way I see it.

Hanna Zuring Peterson

Using loopholes in American Football – Tim Tebow’s creative approach…

1

Category : evangelism, Featured, global, Jesus Christ, lifestyle, Relationships

Tim Tebow, a Christian who plays quarterback in American football has forced a new rule in the NCAA football season because Tebow, during his college football career, carried (Biblical) messages on his eye black.  “The Tebow Rule” dubbed by media banns messages on eye paint.

In the 2009 BCS Championship Game, he wore John 3:16 on his eye paint, and as a result, 92 million people searched “John 3:16″ on Google during or shortly after the game. Additionally, later, when Tebow switched to another verse, there were millions of searches of “Tim Tebow” and “Proverbs 3:5-6″ together. Tebow stated of the searches “It just goes to show you the influence and the platform that you have as a student-athlete and as a quarterback at Florida”.

On July 29, 2010, Tebow signed a five-year contract with the Broncos which places him under the “Tebow Rule”. However, you can’t keep a good man down… Tebow has already found creative ways to pass on his messages to the (new) audience… Last weeks he re-invented himself and his way of communication by printing messages on his wristband – creating new commotion in the world of Football. I like that! As it says in the word of God: Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity,… (Eph 5:15)

Luke 2:10-11 “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.'”

That’s a great message during the Christmas season!

You wonder how things work out for professionally?

  • On October 17, 2010, Tebow scored his first NFL touchdown, which was a five-yard running play against the New York Jets.
  • Tebow started his first NFL game on December 19, 2010, which was a 39-23 road loss to the Oakland Raiders.[97] Tebow completed eight of 16 passes for 138 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown pass. He also rushed for 78 yards, 40 of which came on a touchdown run in the first quarter of the game. It was the longest touchdown run for a quarterback in Broncos history and the longest touchdown in NFL history for a quarterback in his first start.
  • Tebow’s first career victory came in his second start on December 26, 2010. The Broncos defeated the Houston Texans, 24-23, in Denver. Tebow helped rally the Broncos from a 17-0 deficit at halftime, as he finished the game with 308 passing yards and one touchdown pass. He also added a fourth quarter rushing touchdown, which capped the comeback.

It seems the guy is flying forward on Eagle’s wings!

I love the innovation and creativity of God’s people!

John

Keep your pants on! The case for clergy boxer shorts…

Category : Church, Featured, global, Jesus Christ, leadership, lifestyle, Relationships, sverige, Sweden

Give people a fair chance with Fair Trade clergy boxer shorts – be transparent and show who you really are!

One of the latest products of “the Fair Taylor” – a Swedish company that designs and promotes Fair Trade clothing products is the clergy boxer shorts. This is a product my I have been waiting for since I was called into ministry in 1981… The matter my friends is that all the different sex scandals among ministers, pastors and priests make us wondering… I guess Fair Taylor has found a niche in the market to help transparency and accountability for clergy. The revealing boxer short (to be made compulsory wear among clergy) will make any woman consider at least for a moment who she is with.  Since it is hard to tell on the outside or through people’s behavior what they are all about… maybe solutions like these will help men in ministry to keep their pants on and their lives clean.

Enough joking about it! It is a sad reality that many of us in ministry cannot deal with the temptations we are facing.  To be honest many have never been called to ministry in the first place; for too many it is one occupation among others: while true ministers are called by God.

But even among the ones called by God have to face the fact that the stress and responsibility of ministry rests heavily on the shoulders of few and that the inhuman pressure and “loneliness in ministry” can break the strongest person. But that’s not an excuse! We need to learn to be voluntarily accountable and transparent with each other in all areas of life and to find protection in the advice and closeness of others as we live our lives in openness and interdependency. That’s how I want to live my life; I cannot make it without brothers and sisters who keep me accountable!

John

Assemble your own baby – rent a womb and the practice of agnostic ethics.

Category : Featured, global, human rights, justice, lifestyle, Political Correctness, Relationships

Believe it or not but, according to the Wall Street Journal, you can assemble your own baby, rent a womb (or a few) for a low fee, and will receive in due time the long-expected text message on your cell phone stating that you have become a parent! How convenient that is, as we stress through our lives and try to get what we want without having to adjust our lifestyles.

Scenario (true): “In a hospital room on the Greek island of Crete with views of a sapphire sea lapping at ancient fortress walls, a Bulgarian woman plans to deliver a baby whose biological mother is an anonymous European egg donor, whose father is Italian, and whose birth is being orchestrated from Los Angeles. She won’t be keeping the child. The parents-to-be—an infertile Italian woman and her husband (who provided the sperm)—will take custody of the baby this summer, on the day of birth. The birth mother is Katia Antonova, a surrogate. She emigrated to Greece from Bulgaria and is a waitress with a husband and three children of her own. She will use the money from her surrogacy to send at least one of her own children to university.”

Rudy Rupack, chief executive of PlanetHospital.com LLC, a California company that searches the globe to find the components for its business line, does orchestration of the assembled baby operation from Los Angeles. The business, in this case, is creating babies.

Overseas operations have their advantages since surrogates in poorer countries have little or no legal rights to the baby they have carried for nine months. It comes really down to renting out a room (womb)…

PlanetHospital’s most affordable package, the “India bundle,” buys an egg donor, four embryo transfers into four separate surrogate mothers, room and board for the surrogate, and a car and driver for the parents-to-be when they travel to India to pick up the baby.

“Our ethics are agnostic,” Mr. Rupak says. “How do you prevent a pedophile from having a baby? If they’re a pedophile then I will leave that to the U.S. government to decide, not me.”

Mr. Rupak says he has rejected clients. In one case, he suspected a woman wanted to use her own eggs and her son’s sperm. “Whatever the case was, these people weren’t honest. It worried us, so we said ‘no.'”

OK! I guess Mr. Rupak is not just practicing agnostic ethics… there is something right and wrong, there is something fishy he admits. In his subjectivity, he creates through his perceptions standards of ethics which makes me want to cry out: how ignorant can one be!? The question is how many children will have to become victims of this lewd practice before the gaps in the laws are closed again securing the rights of children? I realize that the children have no voice that can be heard, like others in our world who are exposed, underprivileged, silenced and disempowered, nothing is going to happen unless you and I cry out and become the voice of the voiceless, and the conscious of the indifferent and hardened at heart.

We can make a difference! That’s the Way I see it!

John


Giving to charity – or continue in your greed? Learn important lessons from across the world…

Category : Featured, global, human rights, Jesus Christ, justice, leadership, lifestyle, Relationships, sverige, Sweden

Bill and Melinda Gates initiative “Giving Pledge”, created to help the rich people in our world to facilitate their giving to charity becomes more and more attractive as an alternative to release funds in a credible way to trust-worthy charities. Investor Warren Buffet was one of the first one to jump on the wagon.

Now, Hobby Lobby CEO David Green and his wife are among the latest billionaires to pledge to give a majority of their wealth to charitable causes. What interests me is that The Greens who are Christians, have together with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and at least 50 others made a bold pledge to be part of Giving Pledge.

What speaks to me is the un-like awareness and willingness of these people to share their assets through programs, causes and projects to underprivileged people, meeting some of the challenges people in different parts of the world are exposed to.

As the rich and famous in Sweden are trying to avoid their responsibilities to pay taxes by tax (avoidance) planning or strategic moves to – and citizenship in other nations and states to escape responsibilities in this area, participants in the Giving Pledge program are known, not only for their charitable giving, but their sense of responsibility to pay taxes in their home country.

The way the Greens look at their lives and praxis really impress me: Something interesting happened over the years as Hobby Lobby emphasized people over profits: Profits grew anyway. The philosophy is part of founder and CEO David Green’s mix of conventional and unconventional wisdom in growing the company from a $600 enterprise in 1972 to more than $2 billion in gross sales in 2009. Hobby Lobby, will open its 455th store this fall, and expects a $2.2 billion in gross sales for 2010.

Keep Sundays free!

To give employees family time, stores close all day on Sundays and at 8 p.m. other days. These hours benefit Hobby Lobby by attracting quality employees who value time for family, Green says.

Hobby Lobby’s full-time employees enjoy a minimum wage of $11 per hour, which also has worked to the company’s advantage. “It hasn’t been a cost…. You don’t have to retrain, which is very costly. They don’t come and go. If they are making $7.25 an hour working for you, they can go down the street and make $7.25 an hour, so they are more likely to leave.”

Green says his business practices are rooted in his deeply held Christian values. He stands on his principles even when they pinch his pocketbook. The highest-profile example, of course, is store closures on Sundays since 1998, which jeopardized $100 million a year in sales on what was the busiest day of the week. Another time, Green vetoed the sublease of a closed Hobby Lobby to a liquor store, instead paying $330,000 a year on the 10-year lease.

For David and Barbara Green, giving back has always been part of their business model.

“Coming from a family of preachers, the idea of giving back has been part of my life as long as I can remember,” David Green says. “When Hobby Lobby was created in the early 1970s, I was committed to use profits to help ministry work.”

Green has contributed to missions throughout the world, orphanages and ministries in the U.S., among many other things. “Hobby Lobby,” he stresses, “has always been a tool for the Lord’s work.” “For me and my family, charity equals ministry, which equals the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

People like the Greens are like a breath of fresh air and fight the spirit of Mammon by living in the opposite spirit. I long for the day that more people (Christians) will stand up in our nation to carry responsibility for the needs in our world and the expansion of the Kingdom of God, through sacrificial financial giving.

If you are reading this and want to invest in some worthy causes in Stockholm make sure to get in touch with me and I will link you up to some very important (non-private) causes!

May God bless you and keep you!

John

Hitchens brothers take opposite sites in Civilization and God debate

Category : evangelism, Featured, global, human rights, Jesus Christ, justice, lifestyle, Relationships

I came across an interesting article about: “Hitchens Brothers Take Opposite Sides in Civilization, God Debate”. Famous atheist Christopher Hitchens  a hard-core atheist and his lesser known brother Peter Hitchens (author of  “The Abolition of Britain” 2000, “The Broken Compass: How British Politics Lost its Way” (2009) and more recent “The Rage Against God” – 2010) took opposite sides in the discussion as Peter is an atheist-turned-Christian.

Recently October 2010 at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the brothers again had a debate—described as a conversation with the press—over the nature of God in civilization. The two clashed over the main issues, with Peter lamenting the decline in civility to levels “not far the Stone Age.” Recently Christopher’s was diagnosed with cancer and his illness in relationship with religion was brought up, Peter defended his brother’s choice of beliefs, stating that he thought “it would be quite grotesque to imagine someone would have to get cancer to see the merits of religion. It’s just an absurd idea. I don’t know why anyone imagines it should be certain.”

Christopher Hitchens - the atheist

For many years the brothers have had different stances on faith in God, at times leading to a broadening gap between them and creating alienation between them.

I can so easily identify with this breach between them, some of the people I love most cannot identify with my perspectives on life and faith and I cannot identify with theirs. I can understand them but cannot identify with them and support them. But the good thing is that we don’t need to agree with people to be able to love them!

My prayer to God is that I will always have enough love to give even when we can’t agree so that I in my turn will be faithful to them!

Back to the brothers as they debated over whether a civilization can survive without God. Christopher, the elder of the two Hitchens, argued that civilization can survive without God and noted that millions of people in modern societies today are living in a post-religious society. His younger brother Peter, who is a practicing, conservative Anglican, pointed to a decaying society in the post-Christian world. In particular, he noted that gangs now overrun the neighborhood in England he grew up in. The younger Hitchens contended that the deterioration of British society is partly due to the decline of Christianity in the country.

“The extraordinary combination … of liberty and order, seem to me to only occur where people take into their hearts the very, very, powerful messages of self-restraint without mutual advantage, which is central to the Christian religion,” said Peter, who is a respected British journalist and author of the book The Rage Against God.

If you want to read more about their stands: check the article here! Jesus words and the implementation of His words and life have tried to prepare us for the facts many times over; they might separate us at times from our most loved ones, how hard and tough this may sound (and feel), following Christ might mean to leave something behind…

Tough words, touch truth, but don’t forget we live in a tough world! Life can be hard, but God is good, Always!

John

There is nothing Christian about Christian Chain mails

Category : Church, Featured, global, lifestyle, Uncategorized

When an opportunity opened for me to contribute to this Blog, I prayed that God may use me and my fellow contributors as instruments of salvation and harvest for His Kingdom through the thoughts and reflections we share on this platform.  I believe contributing to this blog is not only meant for others out there, but also for our own spiritual growth.  So, when my mind wouldn’t stop grinding the subject of Christian Chain Mails and questioning what really is Christian about these mails, I knew it was time to openly share my thoughts on the subject.

I have a bit of an experience both as a recipient and as an ‘ex-forwarder’ of such mails. When I started thinking about what it is that I really wanted to share through this article, two particular conversations on this subject, with two Christian friends of mine–Nickie and Audrey came to mind.  The conversations occurred on two far apart occasions. In both occasions, I initiated the conversation, my main motive being validation from friends. The sort of validation I was seeking from Nickie was totally different from that which I was seeking from Audrey as you will learn as the article unfolds.

The Christian Chain mails I am referring to are those unsolicited mails with introductions or conclusions like:  “Does God come first in your life? If so, stop what you are doing and send to 12 people … watch what He does.” Or “If you love God, and are not ashamed of all the marvellous things he has done for you. Send this to 10 people.”  Or “Send this to everybody on your list. You will receive good news tomorrow[1]. Don’t take this as a joke. You can’t know when God is testing your faith.”

Both Nickie and Audrey have been Christians long before I was. On reflection, my conversation with Nickie took place before I became a Christian. Of course I identified with Christianity and had been a church goer at different times in my life depending on the ‘weather conditions of my life.’ But I was not a Christian–period! The conversation with Audrey on the other hand took place some weeks back, after I became a Christian and after I decided to share my thoughts on this Blog.  So, I hope my before and after perspectives on this subject will assist someone out there who might be in a similar predicament like I was at some point in my life.

As earlier noted, when I struck a conversation with Nickie regarding Christian chain mails, I was looking for her validation—for her to say ‘Yes, it is perfectly fine to forward such mails.’  I was a recipient and a forwarder–although none of the miracles, signs and wonders promised in these mails ever happened to me. Neither did I become close to God by religiously forwarding them. One thing for sure is that, forwarding these mails always left me with a feeling of guilt–It never felt right, though I could not put my finger on it and stopping seemed to be no option. First, I wanted God to ‘open doors’ for me. So, if all it took was forwarding emails to friends–emails which I did not even have to draft–what did I have to loose?  Secondly, I was at a place in my life where I was neither a Christian nor a Non-believer. Simply put, I had no stand!  So, I feared that by not forwarding the mails, I would be admitting my status as a non-believer–something I wasn’t ready to acknowledge even if it were true.

So, validation from a trusted Christian friend—whose honest judgement and discernment on many issues– I have come respect and cherish, would have meant the world to me. It would certainly take away the guilt of forwarding these emails. Fortunately or unfortunately for me – whichever way you look at it; the validation I was looking for never came– Not from Nickie! It was a loud, clear, and characteristically unambiguous message. Something like: ‘Oh, those emails? I DELETE THEM.’ I walked away with this clear message from Nickie, but not with the courage to stop. Why? Because I did not know the TRUTH about God that Nickie knew. She fed on the Word of God everyday and I didn’t. So the scare tactics from non-believers, marauding, as followers of Christ could not scare her. On the other hand, I had ‘no leg to stand on.’ I was blind (John 9:25). A classic case of ‘God’s person perishing for lack of knowledge’ (Hosea 4:6).  One thing that was clear to me though, was that I could no longer forward those mails to Nickie, and for a while I continued forwarding to the rest of my friends.

When I became a Christian, I started feeding on the Word, and sought to really know and understand God. As a result, I not only attained the courage to DELETE the mails without any ounce of guilt, but I also attained the courage to admit that ‘I was blind but now I see!’ (John 9:25). Finally, I have a stand!

It was while fishing for other perspectives on this subject that in the past few weeks I struck the conversation with Audrey. This time, having already taken a stand, I was seeking a perspective of another Christian before writing this article. She equated those mails to a JOKE and said that they reminded her of a magician who used to occasionally perform at her school when she was a little girl.  With here dismissive tone and her unique facial expression which involuntarily appears whenever she addresses something over which she would never loose a millisecond of sleep—she, like Nickie said with finality: I DELETE THEM! While this was no shocker, like during my before salvation status, it meant a lot to me coming from a friend who never shies away from seeking guidance from the Bible. Whenever we have a disagreement about something, she will say to me, Keboitse, let’s search the Bible and see what it says about this subject–then problem solved!   Or when my Flesh threatens to rear its head and dominate in the face of adversity, she will be the first one to rhetorically ask: ‘who is the Christian here!’ Once she says that, I know that it is time for me to ‘give up my right to be right’ as John once put it. So, I hope you understand why an opinion of a friend like that would matter to me, especially when writing an article that challenges a common practice out there, including among Christians.

One can draw some useful lessons from my conversations with Nickie and Audrey as well as from the content of these chain mails as follows:

  • There is nothing Christian about the so-called Christian chain mails. These mails use a combination of the Word of God, scare tactics, false hope and blatant ignorance of the fact God’s answer to prayers is not induced by forwarding junk mail to a prescribed number of friends within a specified number of seconds, minutes or days. God is God. He is not a magic man. He answers prayers according to His Will and at a time which He himself deems appropriate. The use of scare tactics veiled in the word of God to induce continuation of junk mail forwarding demonstrates that indeed ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy… (John 10:10). Hence; Christians have to ‘Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour’1 Peter 5:8
  • The so-called Christian chain mails undermine one of the basic Christian teachings: That we are God’s creation (Genesis 1:27). And being His creation, we not only exist for His purpose and pleasure and not the other way round (Rev 4:11). It is our responsibility to strive everyday to seek Him, to please Him and to walk according to His Will, not for Him to be running errands for us, while the heaviest lifting we are encouraged to do is tap our keyboards to forward junk mail;
  • In view of this, it is hard to believe that these mails are be generated by Christians who fully understand this basic teaching, and who fully understand God´s greatness and have a reverential fear of the Lord. These mails clearly push an Anti-Christ agenda, which not only makes a mockery of the Christian faith; but also diminishes God to the status of a magician whose role is to perform miracles and churn out blessings (material wealth) for our worldly comfort at our every whim; and within specified time. The picture of God that is being painted by these chain mails is certainly not the Christian God that the Bible teaches us about. Unfortunately, the Anti-Christ agenda pushed through these mails, finds willing marketing executives from a pool of ‘fence sitting’ Christians out there. There is no ambiguity in the word that says:  “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,’’ Matthew 6:33. That is, ‘GOD FIRST.’ By participating in these chain mails, we are essentially participating in re-writing this scripture to: “But seek first all things to be added to you and then perhaps you can seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness”—‘ME FIRST.’
  • Christian Chain mails like any other chain mails or letters, promise a phenomenal return on a small effort. According to these mails, staying in God’s radar screen of miracles and blessings needs only the smallest effort anyone can ever make—a few taps on your keyboard or shall I say your employer’s keyboard and time, and 9 seconds, 4 minutes, one day later—a miracle is suppose to happen. A typical example below:

God closes doors no man can open and God opens doors no man can close. If you need God to open some doors for you…send this to people you like including me, and if you don’t need God to open some doors for you, just delete it”

  • Clearly these mails falsely give an impression that there is no need to build a relationship with the Lord. As Audrey said during our conversation, what God is expected to do in these mails cannot even be equated to someone drawing money from an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM or Bankomat). To draw money from an ATM or Bankomat, ought to have   have deposited money in their bank account in first place. Unless of course you are fraudster. So, why do we want to reap where we did not sow in relation to God? Are we trying to defraud God? Is it even possible?
  • My conversations with Nickie and Audrey taught me an invaluable lesson: When you have no confusion about who you are in Christ– that is– when you are clear about your Christian identity, and that identity goes beyond just being a church goer, beyond being a hearer of the Word, to being a doer of the Word  (James 1:22), you cannot be fooled by ‘a wolf in a sheep skin’ (see Matthew 7:15). You will recognise it from a distance and be able to take a stand against it. My two friends are far from perfect. I believe they struggle with the same issues which come with ‘being in this world but not being of this world’ which every Christian contends with in their daily walk with the Lord (John 17:14-15). But their clear unambiguous stand against ‘Christian’ chain mails helped me understand what the Apostle Paul meant by “take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm

(Ephesians 6:13). During my before status, I did not have the armor that Nickie had, so I could not stand firm!

  • The fear tactics being used in these mails disqualify them from being Christian. In 2 Timothy 1:7 it is clearly written: ‘for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” This scripture not only gives assurance us that living in fear is not part of God’s plan for our lives, and also that God would never use fear or scare tactics such as below to induce obedience from us or as a condition for blessing us. Otherwise we would all be Christians by now, wouldn’t we?

Christians are followers of Christ. My understanding of this is that in our everyday lives, we ought to strive to be like Him. So, if Christ did not use scare tactics to induce obedience from His followers, in whose footsteps are we walking? Whose agenda are we pushing?

Kebotise Mmualebe–My Opinion!!


[1] Emphasis mine

The Hells Angels Approach for Church Planting – nightmare or dream scenario?

6

Category : Church, church planting, evangelism, Featured, Jesus Christ, leadership, lifestyle, mission, Relationships, sverige, Sweden

“Swedish biker gangs in expansion fast lane” was the title of an article which spread throughout the whole Swedish Press these last days describing the phenomenon of the multiplication of new divisions among the different criminal motorcycle gangs in Sweden (and in the rest of Europe). (Here, here, here and here).

Attention was given to the rapid growth of the different criminal motorcycle gangs like the Hells Angels, the Bandidos, Outlaws and other up-and-coming gangs. In the last three years five new divisions of the Hells Angels were started in Eskilstuna, Norrköping, Luleå, Uppsala and a new division in Stockholm. Previously, it took them 10 years to start up so many new divisions, so the curve has risen steeply,” said Lasse Wierup, a journalist, author and expert on motorcycle gangs told the TT news agency. (By the way according to Europol, the European Police Organization, there are now more criminal motorcycle gangs in Europe than in the US and Canada)!

Just think of that for a moment: in Sweden there are over 450,000 registered motorcycles, 270,000 of them are registered and on the road. There are approximately 400 known full members of the earlier mentioned criminal clubs and somehow they seem to be so determined and committed that they start all these new divisions in only a few years. Their expansion builds on the one-percenter culture Wierup says.

The other day some of us on staff at EFK (Evangelical Free church in Sweden) were praying, strategizing and discussing how we could plant another 75 churches by the year 2020… these churches will be started in different ways, with different focus and goal groups and in different forms from cell – and house churches, to ethnic churches, city churches and more traditional and/or geographical churches. We discussed how approximately teams of 8 people average could be the nucleus of a new church plant. This means that we need to find 600 people before 2020 that are willing to plant a church. Of course not every one of those is to be a carrier of the vision to plant a church; the large majority can be part of new church plants as team members.

What is my point? The seemingly immense task of planting 75 churches within our EFK context is really not a big task if we consider the commitment and strategy of the Hells Angles clubs. One percent (1%) of the bikers take care of the expansion of the clubs! For us, to fulfill the vision to plant 75 churches by the year 2020 we need to recruit, train and release 600 people (less than 2%) of our members within the EFK context! That’s not a high percentage, add to that the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ commanded ALL His followers to go out into the world and make disciples and we have an easy task at hand!

I would like to suggest a new slogan: “If the Hells Angels can – we can!” – if they can do the things they do based on a mutilate perspective of life build on threats and intimidation and founded on a false concept of brotherhood and belonging. How much more can the Church of Jesus Christ lift herself from the dust, shake of the dust and (finally) start connecting to the Mission of Jesus, going out to create communities of believers where the Lord of lords is worshipped?!

That’s the Way I see it!

John