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  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.
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Join 100 Million Christians in taking a stand on Corruption and Poverty! Click here for more information.  Follow @EXPOSEDCAMPAIGN on twitter, like EXPOSED on Facebook - visit the EXPOSED website.

Sunday
Nov242013

Arrived safely at London Gatwick

I arrived safe and sound at London Gatwick airport. Doris my Brompton bicycle seems to have survived the flights as well as I did!

We almost missed the connection in Dubai due to delays from Air Traffic Control. I am so glad to be here!

I can't wait to see Craig and Kath, Rich and Karen and the kids! I'm on a coach from Gatwick to Heathrow now where I will meet Craig and Kath.

Tomorrow I have a few meetings in Kensington with the Alpha International team - so Doris will join me on the tube into London!

Wednesday
Nov202013

Multimodal transport and the Brompton bicycle

I am very fortunate to be on the faculty of one of the most amazing Universities in the world - Stellenbosch University in the wine lands around Cape Town.

The University is situated in a most beautiful setting, surrounded by magnificent mountains and vineyards. The town of Stellenbosch has experienced a property boom in recent years. Partly it is because of the University, but also because of the beauty and climate of the region. I live 20km from Stellenbosch in the equally beautiful city of Somerset West which is on the slopes of the Helderberg mountains overlooking the ocean. However while we share the Cape's beauty with Stellenbosch we don't benefit from the great weather - Somerset West is cooler, windier and the weather is less predictable (like most coastal towns).

The result of the growth in residence of Stellenbosch is quite severe congestion during term times. The 20km drive from home to University to teach can take 25 minutes during vacation times and over an hour during term times! Another nightmare is parking on Campus. As with many Universities, parking on campus is scarce and restricted. Frequently I find it easier to park off campus and walk or bike in.

This is where the Brompton works perfectly! I can load it into the boot (trunk) of my car and drive to Stellenbosch. Then I can either park at my office and leave my car for the day and only battle the traffic in and out of town at the start and end of the day. The Brompton then gets me on campus, to meetings, to the library and even into town if I need to buy anything. At times I have even opted to park my car outside of the congested area (at a shopping mall just outside of town, or at the station) and then cycle in and out of town. That is often quicker than getting through the narrow streets and traffic lights to get to and from the office.

Of course another benefit of the Brompton is that it fits neatly under my desk at the office, and can even be covered and taken into the Library or a lecture theatre without a rousing any interest or suspicion. I simply fold the Brompton and pull the cover over it, pick it up and go!

A final thing I love about the Brompton is it's carrying capacity. With the T Bag or C Bag I can carry my laptop, some books, my camera, and at times have even carried at data projector in the bag.

In this post is a picture of Doris in front of the Faculty of Theology building, and folded and covered in the journal section of the main campus library.

I'll be heading to the UK and Holland at the end of this week and Doris my trusty M3L Brompton (which is lighter than Darth my black M6L) will be packed into the B bag, checked onto the flight and taken along!

Tuesday
Nov192013

A last trip for the year! England and Holland

On Friday this week I have the great honour and joy of speaking at the Median 25 conference in Cape Town at 'Church on Main'. It is a wonderful opportunity to hear Mike Pilavachi, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Dr Nadine Bowers du Toit, Dr Frederick Marais and Nicky Gumbel (via telecast).

I have been asked to speak on the state of the Church in South Africa and Africa. I will draw on some recent statistical information and research about Church shifts in the country, as well as some of the most recent and groundbreaking research on global and continental Church shifts in the Christian faith. Diana Butler Bass' book 'Christianity after religion' is particularly insightful, as is the classic 'The next Christendom' by Philip Jenkins. I will also draw on some insights from the sociologist Peter Berger, and of course the missiologist Andrew Walls.

In short I am advocating for the Christian Church to be good news rather than just proclaimers of good news. I am advocating for a Church that is primarily relational in character, rather than propositional in nature. I am advocating for a Church that creates space for the asking of 'big questions', without feeling the need to give definitive and absolute answers on every subject. I am advocating for a Church that is humble, just, and merciful. In short, I am hoping to present a picture of a Church that is active with the 'things' that God is doing in the world - a Church shaped by the 'missio Dei' (the work of God). This Church, the missional Church, is alive since God is alive. This Church is powerful in doing good, since God is powerful in doing good. This Church is less concerned about programs and projects than it is about a servant identity that brings healing and transformation in society and the world.

I'll give a few examples, tell some stories, share a few statistics and give some ideas for consideration from the research and current discourse on the Church, and of course from my own experience.

Unfortunately I will have to leave the conference early since I am catching a flight to England on Saturday afternoon. I will be in London for a week for some meetings (Alpha International, EXPOSED, Unashamedly Ethical and then some academic meetings). On the 1st of December I move across to Holland where I will be going to spend 2 weeks working on my post doctoral research at Radboud University, Nijmegen where I am doing a second PhD.

I am looking forward to the time to read, reflect, pray and of course reconnect with friends and discover new things. I would ask for your prayers for Megie, Courtney and Liam. I will miss them so much in the 3 weeks I am away from home! However, the great news is that I will do very little travel in 2014! I return home on the 15th of December and will then have a lovely holiday with my beautiful family. Such a blessing!

Monday
Nov112013

Wines2Whales 2013 all done!

Well, the wines2whales 2013 race is all done! We had an awesome last day's ride - 4h47 from Grabouw to Onrus. Again, the tracks were super! The trails are well made and offer a great variety (single track, jeep track, fast descent, looooong climbs and amazing scenery).

I took a stupid fall about 35 KM into the ride while climbing a switchback above Houwhoek inn and broke my ring finger on my right hand. The downhill and single tracks were a little uncomfortable for the remainder of the race. But my riding partner Andre took us through the last 40 KM in style!

We managed to take about 3 hours off last year's time! Quite remarkable!

Now, I just need to keep up my fitness and loose a little weight before next year :-)

Saturday
Nov092013

Wines2Whales Race 2013, almost done!

We have two awesome days of riding - on day one we rode 5h15 for the 75km from Lourensford farm to Oak Valley in Grabouw. As usual the Gantouw pass was a serious climb. But Andre and I do well.

Today we rode 4h12 for the 70km 'single track' day on Oak Valley, Paul Cluver and Thandi.

Tomorrow we ride from Grabouw, through Botriver to Hermanus. It has been awesome!

Sunday
Oct202013

Faith and Reason

I love theology. I love theology in this sense, that is, theology as an attempt to know something about God and God's nature and will.

There are few theologians that I love as much as Stanley Hauerwas. Here's one more reason why I love his theology:

[The claim] that some think theological claims must be grounded in empirical proofs is based on the assumption that there is an essential tension between faith and reason. Even Christian theologians have sometimes underwritten the assumption that the faith of Christians cannot be rationally defended. However, the very presumption that reason is one thing and faith is another betrays a distorted view of reason. What Christians believe is not a “take it or leave it” choice, but rather an ongoing claim that all that is exists by God’s good grace. The working out of that claim is never finished.

- Stanely Hauerwas

Via @irregulartheology.

Sunday
Oct132013

3 years 10 000km and still an awesome bicycle! 26" Mongoose Canaan Team

I bought my Mongoose Canaan Team three years ago from a friend who had owned it for about a year before that. It is a super bike. Since I have owned it I have done an average of 3000km of awesome mountainbiking a year on this lovely bike! Sure, there are newer and fancier bikes on the market, but this one suits me just fine!

Yesterday I did a lovely 45 km ride along the Helderberg - Schapenberg Black route (including Hans se Kop). The 26" wheels can handle the tightest of corners and the most technical of terrain. I will be doing my fourth Wines2Whales stage race on it this year. I love it! I am so grateful!

My time on the bike is often spent alone. I pray, reflect work out solutions to challenges, change my attitude about people and things that I have not been engaging appropriately... And of course it is good for my health! Since having a bad motorcycle accident in 2008 cycling has been a wonderful way to stay fit, enjoy nature and strengthen my leg (which was badly broken requiring pins and screws, and a form of exercise that was low impact).

Tuesday
Oct082013

It is time to #ShineAlight on Corruption - #EXPOSED2013 is a week away!

It's time to let your light shine!
Have you arranged your Vigil, Church service, business gathering, or prayer meeting for some time during 14-20 October yet?  Simply go here:  http://www.exposed2013.com/act/10-action-tools/33-organise-a-vigil
Or, follow these simple instructions!
1.  Please watch this short video (2 minutes) about the EXPOSED Vigils http://t.co/i9EK7QqqjK
2.  Simply invite a few friends, set a venue, and download sample prayers, scripture readings and the video from here http://www.exposed2013.com/act/10-action-tools/33-organise-a-vigil
3.  Please register your Global Vigil on the global map here, so that others can see it (shine a light!) or join you if it is an open meeting or service!http://www.exposed2013.com/act/10-action-tools/78-register-your-vigil
4.  Post some pictures, video, or a short report on your website, facebook and twitter.  Please use the hashtag #ShineALight 
5.  At your Vigil, and during the week, please get as many people as you can to sign the Global Call to end corruption. Simply go here on your computer, cellphone or tablet http://bit.ly/signGC or visit the website and sign up there, or download and print a sign up sheet to gather signatures automaticallyhttp://www.exposed2013.com
In a week's time we shall be joining millions of people from 138 countries around the world in Christian witness!  God cares about the poor and about corruption - it is time to shine your light!
Here is a simple, and powerful, way in which you can show your solidarity with this great cause.  The Bible tells us 'Learn to do good, seek justice, stand for the rights of the poor and oppressed' (Isaiah 1.17).
1.  Please print the attached 'Sing up Sheet' and carry it with you for the week.  Do your best to fill a few sheets with signatures for the Global Call to end corruption! We need One Million signatures to take to the G20 in 2014!  
2.  Please print the 'One in a million' sign and keep it with you.  Please get as many people who have signed the global call to take a picture of themselves holding the sign 'I'm one in a million'.  Ask them to post their picture on twitter, facebook, to send it to friends or family.  
Graham Power is One in a Million - founder of Unashamedly Ethical and the Global Day of Prayer
Please use the hashtags #shinealight and #EXPOSED2013 so that we can get some real traction! (See the example photograph of Graham Power, founder of the Global Day of Prayer and Unashamedly Ethical movements, attached to this message).
Completed forms can either be scanned and emailed back to me, or you can enter the details on http://www.exposed2013.com or directly at http://bit.ly/signGC (note the capital GC for Global Call).
Thanks so much for your partnership in this important work!
Together with you in Christ,
Dion

 

Sunday
Sep292013

Heading home from Malaysia 

Megan and I have had a wonderful week together in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Tonight we head home to Cape Town via KL, Doha and Johannesburg.

We were brought here by our wonderful friends from Alpha Malaysia. This week we had a wonderful conference encouraging Christians to discover and live out their faith life in the world of work. In part this was based on my book 'Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling'. We also have a strong partnership between Alpha Malaysia and Unashamedly Ethical http://www.unashamedlyethical.com and 'EXPOSED - Shining a light on corruption' http://www.exposed2013.com

This was a wonderful week. We had many chances to engage with Christians in the world of work and ministers / pastors about developing a public theology and living out their faith for the sake of transformation and renewal of society so that justice and grace may prevail.

We have many wonderful friends here, so it is always a joy to visit! I was so thankful that Megie could join me on this trip. It was such a blessing to have this precious time with her! The punishing travel and work schedule of the last two years does take its toll. It is so wonderful to be together and experience new and wonderful people and places as a couple.

Of course we cannot wait to get back home to our children who have been with their aunt and my mom! We've missed them so much!

There is a busy time ahead with EXPOSED reaching its climax from 14-20 October across the world. We already have 137 countries involved and millions of Christians.

Here is how you can get involved:

1. Please watch this short video (2 minutes) about the EXPOSED Vigils http://t.co/i9EK7QqqjK
2. Simply invite a few friends, set a venue, and download prayers, scripture readings and the video from here http://www.exposed2013.com/act/10-action-tools/33-organise-a-vigil
3. Please register your Global Vigil on the map here, so that others can see it (shine a light!) or join you if it is an open meeting or service! http://www.exposed2013.com/act/10-action-tools/78-register-your-vigil
4. Post some pictures, video, or a short report on your website, facebook and twitter. Please use the hashtag #ShineALight
5. At your Vigil, and during the week, please get as many people as you can to sign the Global Call to end corruption. Simply go here on your computer, cellphone or tablet http://bit.ly/signGC or visit the website and sign up there, or download and print a sign up sheet to gather signatures automatically http://www.exposed2013.com

Thanks so much for your prayers and solidarity in this work! Rich blessing, Dion

 

Thursday
Sep192013

On our way to Malaysia!

What a blessing it was to board our flight to Malaysia (via Johannesburg and Doha) in a very wet Cape Town this evening!

What makes it such a blessing is that Megan is traveling with me to beautiful Malaysia. I am so thankful! I will be speaking at the Alpha Workplace conference in Penang and have some meetings for Unashamedly Ethical and EXPOSED in Kuala Lumpur.

I love this beautiful nation a great deal! It is a very special place and such wonderful people. I look forward to introducing Megan to Durien fruit and the warm hospitality and weather!

I will also have the joy of preaching at my friend Alvin Tan's Church this Sunday.

So keep an eye on this blog and my tumblr feed (on the left of this page or at http://digitaldion.tumblr.com for the site). I will post updates in both places.

We would appreciate your prayers for our service here! Please pray that Christ's love encounters us and our friends, that we are humble and receptive to God's leading and that our work here brings wholeness and transformation for the sake of God's Kingdom.

Tuesday
Sep032013

Good news to the poor

Jean Vanier, founder of the L'Arche communities said:

Jesus came to bring good news to the poor, not those who serve the poor...

This is a subtle distinction. Yet, when taken seriously it is a major challenge to contemporary theology. Many Christian Churches teach, overtly or by subtle suggestion, that service of the poor brings blessing. Of course it should. Yet the emphasis is often that it should bring God's blessing to the person who serves. The truth is that the blessing should be brought to the ones who are served.

Hedonism has even taken hold of service and ministry. I call it altruistic hedonism. It is for that reason that many people mistakenly stop serving a cause, or some people, when it no longer 'feels good', or 'feels right'. Can you imagine what would have happened if Jesus adopted this perspective and decided not to be crucified because it didn't feel good?

Sometimes service is tough. It has little or no reward. Of course we shouldn't be serving for a reward. We serve because God requires it and there are many in the world who need it. It is not duty, or reward, but love that should motivate our sacrifice and charity.

I find this thought quite challenging. What do you think? Am I missing the point?

Monday
Sep022013

Giraffe chases Mountainbike cyclist in South Africa

I know that mountain biking is a dangerous sport! I currently have a friend with two broken elbows and another with broken ribs from falling.

However, this is a different kind of crazy! A friend of mine, Jimmy Ramage, was cycling with some friends in Groenkloof nature reserve when a giraffe chased down this cyclist. An animal of that size could do some serious damage!

This was a close shave! Certainly a story to tell your grand children.

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