- Self employed (serving God by serving children)1994 - present
- University of StellenboschB.Sc, 1991 - 1993
The renewal of our natures is a work of great importance. It is not to be done in a day. We have not only a new house to build up, but an old one to pull down.
John 14: 5 Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ 6 Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’ 8 Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ 9 Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”?
Hollis Green (Why churches die) gives 35 reasons why churches die. These are all good reasons. One of the reasons is that we started to seek renewal at the wrong place. Green says that we have built congregations consisting of spectators. Sundays people come to see how everything is.
However, renewal starts when the church itself starts to live again. It happens when Christians themselves begin to walk in step with God. Renewal begins with us.
What is the core of this renewal? It begins when Christians witness about Jesus Christ. It sounds logical, but we should not think that it happens automatically. There is great pressure to see Jesus as just one of many saviours.
The New Testament does not leave this option open to us. Stanley Hauerwas (Learing to speak Christian) writes that the Christian God is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the only God worthy of worship. The others are idols. The anonymous gods of constitutions by which people swear to be loyal to their country are idols.
Christians accept that God revealed Himself through Jesus as the way, truth and the life (John 14:6). We know the Father when we know Jesus (John 14:7). We confess that Jesus is God's presence (tabernacle) among us (John 1:14). If God chose to love the world through His Son (John 3:16), if the cross is the place where we are healed (John 3:13-15), how can we look at any other option for redemption?
The heart of renewal is when we lose our heart to Jesus. If there is any other possibility to save the world we can stop proclaiming Jesus. Then He is just another good example for our lives along with many other good people. A church that has lost this perspective is busy dying. Perhaps the numbers are good, but she has lost her heart, her message and the reason of her existence.
Lord, make us faithful once again to the confession that you are the only Saviour of the world, through the power of your Spirit. Amen.
Copyright © Dr. Annes Nel
My extreme preoccupation with knowing God's will for me may only indicate, contrary to what is often thought, that I am overconcerned with myself, not a Christlike interest in the well-being of others or in the glory of God (Hearing God – 1999)
Isaiah 1: 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations - I cannot bear your evil assemblies. 14 Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood.
The expectation that people who praise and worship God should also be people who are concerned about those on the margins of life, is common in the Bible. In the so-called cultic passages in the Old Testament, the prophets regularly speak about this issue.
In Isaiah 1, the religious lives of the people of God are placed under a magnifying glass (1:11-15). It is certainly not the case that the prophet was against sacrifices and worship. The problem was rather that the people of the Lord were very religious with one part of their lives, while they were causing hurt with the other part of their lives. The Lord is tired of any kind of life that separates our Sunday behaviour from our behaviour in the week. It makes the Lord very tired when we stretch our hands out in prayer and worship, but use the same hands to cause pain in people’s lives (1:15). The Lord does not want our money and our tireless work for the functions of the church while people while we are part of a system that cause oppression and pain to people around us (1:13).
Commitment to God is commitment to each other. Return to God means to return to one another (1:16-18). When Isaiah speaks about conversion, he refers to a conversion to justice and righteousness. It means that our hands, which are stretched out in prayer and worship, should be clean, that it should be hands which will show love and compassion.
Spirit of God, change us so that our love and commitment to you will be shown in the loving service and care for those who need us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Copyright © Dr. Annes Nel
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I assume that most of you think that you are Christians, but it is not at all clear to me that the Christianity that has made you Christians is Christianity at all.
1 Peter 2: 11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Sometimes we say that we should act and talk in Christian ways. Hauerwas tells us that we should learn a new language. We have to learn new habits. This is a radical change. He says that we should learn to “speak Christian”. Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon wrote in their book, Where Resident Aliens live that it will bring us into conflict with the world. The language of the world and ours are not the same language.
It sounds logical, but it is not. It is not obvious that what we consider "Christian" is truly Christian. In another book of Hauerwas, In Good Company: the Church as polis, he refers to the meaning of Christian salvation. It means that someone will become and enjoy the kind of person in life recommended by Christians.
What kind of life is this? It is clear that the Christian salvation is more than an assurance an individual's sins are forgiven and that he/she will go to heaven. Our salvation is expressed in certain practices that save us from the forces that make it impossible for us to truly worship God. He is convinced that we have forgotten how radical these practices are.
Worlds became confused. Our culture, so-called "Christian" politics and church traditions became mingled. It confused us. This is the chaotic situation in which we must be Christians.
The church is different. We are foreigners who live and work here. We are the only group in the world formed on the truth, Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. We are a radical alternative group of people.
Lord, teach us what it means to be a Christian, by the power of your Spirit. Amen.
Copyright © Dr. Annes Nel
Remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity. Be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power. Never forget that you can still do your share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities and frustrations and disappointments.
Rom 13: 8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 10 Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.
Paul says that we should carry each other’s burdens (Gal 6:2). This is how we are faithful to the law of love. Somewhere else Paul says that we should comfort one another (2 Cor 1:4). James says that we should pray for one another (5:16). Paul mentions that we can be “mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Rom 1:12).
I am sure that you have read the words “one another” in these references. The well-known Dutch scholar, JP Versteeg writes at the end of his book about the passages in the New Testament where we read the words “each other” or “one another” that the whole life of the community of believers are actually summarised in this word. According to the New Testament, it is impossible to practice your faith on your own, without relationships with fellow believers. He writes that there is no possibility to experience the salvation that God gives if the word “one another” is not part of that experience.
The pain that people experience because of their circumstances and sin can only be relieved and healed in an encouraging, comforting, praying, caring and loving community. Sometimes people feel extremely isolated and lonely in their struggles and see no way forward. As a community of believers, we can never allow that to happen. On the one hand, we cannot allow them to remain isolated. On the other hand, we are not allowed to treat anybody in such a way that they might feel that the community of believers are pushing them away.
The many contexts in the New Testament where we read the phrase “one another” or “each other” clearly indicate that we are healing others by our prayers, encouragement, love, and many other positive acts. When we are not involved, apathetic and judgmental, it often drives people to self-destruction. If the people of God do not care for us or don’t want us, what is left?
Lord, make us more involved with one another, so that healing may flow from us to every human being, by the powerful work of your Spirit. Amen.
Copyright © Dr. Annes Nel
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