• Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Pickwick Publications

    Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch

  • 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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Entries in life (13)


Life and Lecia - an analogy

Like me, my Leica camera is well worn! It shows the scuffs and scars of everyday life.

However, it has kept its sharpness over the years. I, on the other hand, have tried to soften some of my edges as I grow older - it is a work in progress. It takes thought and deliberate intention. I am grateful for life. And yes, I am grateful for my Leica. It slows me down. I have to think about light, shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. Every shot is deliberate, it is composed, considered.

This is not an action camera. It is a tool that invites reflection. When the picture is taken it has a story - some moments in history, accumulated experiences captured in time.

Why the return to my camera in recent months? Well, for the past three years I have been working on a big research project - a second PhD. It has been a wonderful journey! I have learnt so much. However, for those who have ever undertaken such a task you will now that hardly a moment goes by where you do not feel guilty that you are not reading, thinking, and writing. Such a project is started with an end in mind - it is teleological. The end invites action in the present. That can create pressure.

My PhD is done. The manuscript was completed and sent to my promoters at Radoubd University. I am not awaiting feedback from one of them (I already had feedback and the final 'sign off' from one). Once that is done the manuscript will be prepared for examination and defence in Holland.

So, that pressure has lifted. It has given me a bit of a psychological 'margin' - some space to think, to reflect, and to pick up my camera again without feeling guilty! It is a gift. 

I hope to post pictures here from time to time. However, you can follow me on Instagram - @digitaldion to see almost daily pictures under the hashtag #Leica365 


Traveling along God's path

I came across this beautiful quote:

God travels wonderful paths with human beings; God does not arrange matters to suit our opinions and views, does not follow the path that humans would like to prescribe for God. God’s path is free and original beyond all our ability to understand or to prove.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Indeed, my experience is that I am truly free when I travel along the path of the source of all life. When I divert my course and go my own way I often find myself lost, alone, and unsure.

It is a great blessing and gift to be loved by God in Christ, and to receive the gift of life by living in that love.


A misquote that means a lot - contemplating courage and change

Two of yesterday's readings from the revised common lectionary (23 June 2013) offered me cause for reflection. Not that I don't reflect on every week's readings, but I am facing some changes in my life and so my thoughts are currently a little deeper than normal. The readings in question were Luke 8:26-39, 1 Kings 19:1-15.

Our minister, Yvette Moses, is a very good preacher. She took a very creative, and challenging, line in harmonizing the message of these two texts. With reference to Luke 8.33-35 she asked why it was the the town's people were not afraid of a demon possessed man. Yet, they were filled with fear when they saw the possessed man sitting calmly at the feet of Jesus - in his full mind. It made me wonder, how often have I preferred the madness of the world to the calm of Christ? How often have I feared the wrong things and wrong people, and in so doing missed the miracle of transformation that is taking place within me, and all around me, all the time.

In dealing with the second text (1 Kings 19.1-15), Yvette reminded us that just a week or two earlier in the lectionary reading we heard how the Prophet Elijah witnessed God performing a magnificent and powerful series of miracles (the burning of the water soaked altars and the destruction of the Baal priests on Mount Carmel). Yet, in this passage the the prophet is overcome with fear and dread because of the threat of Jezebel! The threat of the queen overshadows the miracle of God the King. So much so that Elijah wishes he were dead. Again, I wondered how often have I forgotten the faithfulness and power of God, and instead focussed on the few small challenges of my current circumstances, allowing my life to be overshadowed by what is only a momentary threat, a matter of such minor insignificance in the face of a mighty and everlasting God.

All of this reminds me of the following quote (which is wrongly attributed to F Scott Fitzgerald. Thanks invisibleforeigner for pointing this out):

For what it's worth: it's never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you're proud of, and if you're not, I hope you have the strength to start over again.

- NOT F Scott Fitzgerald.

Still, it is a challenging quote! It is never too late to become that person that God longs for you to be - just as a parent lovingly longs for their child to grow to their full potential in life so as to find blessing and be a blessing to others. God longs that for you, and I know God longs that for me. If you are not moving confidently and clearly towards that peaceful goal then I pray that you will have the courage to and the opportunity to change course. I am making a few small changes in the next months. I pray that they will honour God and bring blessing to those that I have the privilege to serve.


Steve Jobs dies - prayer and reflection

This morning I awoke in Malaysia (I am here for a conference) to hear that Steve Jobs, the co founder of the Apple corporation had died during the night at the young age of 56.

I spent some of my quiet time this morning praying for him and for his family.  I would like to encourage you to do the same.  Of course there will be many who are critical of Steve Jobs.  However, in this time of sorrow let's ask God to bring blessing, healing and grace to his wife, children, family, friends and colleauges.

There is little doubt that this man has left an indellible mark on recent history!  I was struck by how much he had achieved in his young life.  In part my decision to 'buy out' some of my time to retun to academic work and consultancy arose out of a journey to use my limited time on earth wisely.

I remember sharing this video (well worth watching!) of Steve Jobs speaking at the Stanford University Graduation with my Forum group and saying that the time has come for me to make some bold choices, even to take a risk, in order to move closer to God's purpose for my life.  And of course the courage to spend your life well begins with choice of how to spend your minutes and your hours.

Watch the video here when you get a chance.

So, I am reminded of the words of the Psalmist:

The length of our days is seventy years - or eighty, if we have strength... for they quickly pass, and we fly away... Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90.10,12

May the Lord give you grace to know how to spend your hours and your days.  As Gretchen Ruben said so aptly, "While the days are long, the years are short".

Rich blessing from Malaysia,




Realistic elongation and your perfect day. 

Work-Life balance is an important topic.  I hardly know a person who does not struggle with some aspect of it.  There are some who need the rest because they work too hard, and others who long for work to be able to pay their bills and meet their obligations.

In my own life I have constantly struggled with work-life balance.  The real misnomer in that is of course that work is part of life!  It is not as if I balance my work off against my life.  The two are one.  However, what I constantly battle with is finding a realistic rhythm that can sustain the needs of my family (and my own physical and ego needs) yet allow enough space and time for true and authentic life with my God, wife, children, and friends.  I never have enough time for deep prayer, uninterrupted and unhurried conversation with my wife and kids.  I seldom feel energized or free enough to truly be free for play.  Even when I am not working I am thinking about work.

I have some friends who strive for absolute freedom.  This is a wonderful desire, but I think that it could disconnect one from your what is realistically possible.  It is not possible to live one's life without making some measure of compromise towards the needs, desires and demands of others.  As a parent I have had to learn that my sleep patterns are less important than my children's sleep patterns.  As a husband I have had to learn that my mood and desire frequently need to give way to my wife's needs and mood.  As a citizen of a country I have had to learn that my will must sometimes take a back seat to the greater will of the people.

Realistic compromise is the name of game!  Now of course you don't want to compromise to such an extent that you never achieve what you want or need - I had a relative who died before he retired because he had planned to 'start living' when he had enough money to do so.  That is the opposite extreme.

Nigel Marsh (tip of the hat to my psychologist friend Phil Collier who pointed this talk out to me!), the author of the wonderful book 'Overworked underlaid' (no that is not a typo), presents this very informative TEDx Talk, in which he discusses the delicate balance between work and daily life.  He offers the following advice (well, at least this is what I gleaned from his talk as 'advice'):  

- Write out your ideal day.

- Then realise that it is unlikely that you will have that specific day too often.

- Then plan to 'live' the elements of that day over a realistic time span.

In other words plan a 'realistic elongation' of your ideal day!  By doing this you will have some plan to work towards that removes the pressure of having to have a perfect day, every day.  At the same time you should have measurable instances of blessing, freedom and unhindered choice.  Yet, you will also allow enough space to fit your life into the lives of others.  This concession is not only necessary, I believe that in the long term we shall find that we cannot simply live our lives for ourselves.  Some of the most rewarding experiences I've had in life are things that I would not necessarily have chosen for myself.  Yet, by 'giving' a little I have met wonderful people, learned new things and seen magnificent places.

What do you think?  How do you manage 'work life balance'?


Dailyness - learning to live without need for constant excitement

My 4 year old son is a source of immeasurable blessing and joy!

This morning I had to be at work just before 6am so I didn't get to see him. So, just before Megie took him to school I phoned him - the first thing he said when he got on the line was 'daddy, when you get home tonight I want to ride my bicycle'!

Liam loves riding his bike with me! In part I think it is the excitement of gaining a new skill (he has only just learnt how to ride his bike), and in part it is the joy of the two of us spending time together.

However, I remember when my daughter was that way - she too loved to ride her bike! We spent countless hours riding up and down the street. Now that she is 11 years old riding her bike up and down the road with her dad is not quite as exciting as it once was! She prefers to leave that activity to her brother.

Life can be like that! The things that excite us today tend to loose their 'shine' with time. We become accustomed to them, we master them, they loose their initial challenge and attraction, and eventually they become part of our routine; they become mundane.

Every aspect of life is prone to this propensity towards becoming mundane or familiar.

From a neuroscientific point of view I know that in part this has to do with the body's attempt to become (and remain) as efficient as possible. It takes energy to generate excitement, to learn new things, and to be stimulated. The brain literally requires more energy to fire the synaptic junctions and activate the dopamine system that makes one interested in something (or someone), thus making you alert to the many new aspects and possibilities of such an encounter.

Relationships move form passionate lust to stable love. Shiny cars soon pale in comparison to newer, faster, models.... The list of 'exciting to ordinary' examples could go on and on!

In spiritual circles we call this tendency 'dailyness'.

A healthy spirituality is one that moves from the immaturity of seeking pleasure through excitement and exotic experiences, to one that allows you to enjoy and be blessed by everyday life.

Such a spirituality celebrates 'dailyness', it seeks out and finds the blessing and joy of the 'ordinary' aspects of one's life by training the senses to be alert to them; encouraging the mind to see simple things in the light of wonder, grace, and gratitude.

Hedonism is the enemy of a 'spirituality of dailyness'. It constantly seeks pleasure and gratification. In the West we have become obsessed with the pursuit of comfort and pleasure. So much so that many of our laws and economic systems are based on an ethical / moral philosophy called 'altruistic hedonism'. What that means is that we want to seek the maximum pleasure for the most number people. The point is that we have become a pleasure directed society.

When you first consider this you may ask 'So, what is wrong with wanting to make as many people as possible happy all the time?' Well, one obvious problem is that it is not sustainable! If we cannot learn to appreciate what we do have we will constantly seek more, and better, things. This consumerist attitude is behind many economic forces in western society. We will never be satisfied because 'happiness' will always be over the next hill or around the next corner. There will always be a desire for a bigger budget, a larger house, a faster car...

In the end we chase after those things that cannot bring fulfillment, and in the process we destroy others and the environment. In the process more and more of the earth's resources are consumed for unnecessary pleasures. Why should you have a car that can go at 200km/h when one that can do 100km/h is all that is required? I think you get the idea?!

So, for the last few days I have been consciously attempting to focus on 'blessed dailyness'. I am deliberately trying to find joy in, and celebrate, what I already have. I am making it a discipline to give thanks for what I have and to fight the urge to want what others have.

It has been a remarkable experience. I am realizing anew just how fortunate and blessed I am!

Have you every applied a similar discipline, or spirituality, to 'blessed dailyness' in your life? Have you got any experiences you would be willing to share? I'd love to hear from you! God bless, Just Dion (living each day to become more truly 'Dion the just')


The purpose of my life in one single sentence...

This trip to Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong has been fantastic!  It has been incredible to see what Christians i these countries are doing in order to see God's Kingdom of grace, mercy, justice and love established!  

I have not been sleeping all that well - this too has been a great blessing.  I have had a lot more time to pray, read the scriptures, and just be silent on my own.  

Today I visited the investment firm of a friend - they are one of the more prominent investment firms in Hong Kong with a massive portfolio!  I have heard of their commitment to the redistribution of wealth and the effective transformation of society through recapturing economic systems so that they can more adequately reflect God's desire that no person should have to much while any person has too little.

They employ a host of very bright and hard working people for their firm (not all of them are Christians, but they do have to understand the principles on which the firm operates).  It was a joy to spend some time with them discussing how Christians can use their ability, influence, and resources under God's guidance to bring about transformation.  In one particular project that I heard of this week a Christian person raised funding to build a 10km retaining wall in one of the Asian nations that would save numerous villages from mud slides caused by poor management of forestry resources (so deforestation that leads to soil erosion).  Not only did they create jobs for the community, but they exercised stewardship of the earth.

This is an encouraging way of honouring God through your worklife!  This is Kingdom Living, it is a Gospel lifestyle!

As I walked into their office building on Kowloon Island in Hong Kong this picture was the first sight a saw - the verse is:

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8).

This is my 'life verse'.  In short, if you were to ask me to sum up the intention of my life in one sentence I would have to say that God has created me to act justly, to love mercy and to walk in humility under God's loving grace.

I am quite encouraged!

Well, tomorrow is our last day of meetings in Hong Kong before we depart back to South Africa.  I am looking forwards to a fruitful day of interaction.  However, I am ready to get home to my wonderful wife and children.  I am truly blessed and thankful!


Long days, short years

I recently read a great book called 'The Happiness Project' by Gretchen Rubin. It is well worth reading.

In the book she has a line that has stuck with me - 'While the days are long the years are short'. This is so true! I think it is a modern proverb (in the sense that a proverb is a short sentence that is based on long experience).

I have been burning the candle on both ends for some months now. My days have been long (today I started at 4.30 and will end my last meeting after 10pm. Yesterday was pretty much the same). Part of the challenge is that there is so much to do. But it is also complicated by the fact that I work with people in so many countries and time zones... I frequently have very late, or very early, Skype calls and conference calls.

So, the days are long. Yet at the end of each week I cannot believe bow quickly it has passed. The months are flying by at a rate of knots!!!

So, I realise that I must make the most of every day. But I must do so wisely! So yesterday afternoon I took an hour from 4-5pm to go home and play trains with my son and help my daughter with her homework. It is important to make the time to be with my kids and wife because the days pass far too quickly!!

Psalm 90.12 has some great advice. The Psalmist asks God to teach him to number his days so that he can gain a heart of wisdom (to remember that every moment of life is precious helps us to make the most of every moment by choosing to do things that truly matter).

My kids and wife are important - so today I am mindful of the fact that while the days are long the years are short!

How do you keep the balance between work and personal life? I'd love to hear your feedback!

Well, time to put the iPhone away - I'm about to do a presentation on the network of Christian Forums at Frieda's on Bree for a great group of Christian businessmen.


Ash Wednesday

"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments." -1 John 5:2

Today is the start of Lent - this is a season in the Church calendar that encourages Christians to become conscious of the cost that Christ paid for our lives, and also to recognize that our own lives are finite and precious gifts.  This not only means that my life is a precious gift to me, it means that your life is a precious gift to me.  I cannot be fully human without you.  

The discipline of lent reminds me that I have the capacity to choose (even if my choices seem limited, or insignificant) how I will serve God and others with what remains of my life.  I pray that this period of time will have some significance for you too.

I was saddened today by the dismissal of a colleague and friend of mine, Rev Ecclesia de Lange.  I have known Ecclesia for years - if I am not mistaken I interviewed her where she candidated for our ministry in the Methodist Church, I celebrated her growth through her studies and was present at the service where she was ordained.  I am reminded that the Church, just like me, is not always correct in what it does.  I shall continue to work and pray and do my little bit to see that God's Kingdom of love and grace is established wherever I can - even in the Church.

Isn't this image of the ashen cross lovely?  It comes from my friend and pastor Steven Lottering.

A few quotes left an impression upon me this week.  I thought I would share them with you on Ash Wednesday.

Teach us to sit still ... And let my cry come unto Thee.
- T.S. Eliot, from his poem, "Ash Wednesday"

And this one from a friend I met through the internet - a Methodist minister in the USA.  I thought this quote was both humorous and so true!  There must be more to being a Christ follower than giving up chocolate!

UthGuyChaz What if, for Lent, we gave up thinking that Jesus died so that we could go to church, hear a good sermon, and give up chocolate?

Then there was this one - it has a littl more 'bite' to it.

"It is terrible to die of thirst in the ocean. Do you have to salt your truth so heavily that it does not quench thirst any more?" -Nietzche

I live my life in public.  It is often costly to do so - I cannot hide who I am.  I find this quote comforting.

"Change occurs when deeply felt private experiences are given public legitimacy." -Gandhi

And lastly, from my good friend Pete's blog:

Silence frees us from the need to control others ... A frantic stream of words flows from us in an attempt to straighten others out. We want so desperately for them to agree with us, to see things our way. We evaluate people, judge people, condemn people. We devour people with our words. Silence is one of the deepest Disciplines of the Spirit simply because it puts the stopper on that.- Richard Foster, from his book Freedom of Simplicity


Making memories! Playing trains with my son!

I love spending time with my kids! Being with them reminds me that life is meant for living!

My son got this great little wooden train set from us for Christmas. The first thing he says to me in the morning when he wakes up, and the first thing he says to me when I get home from work, is "Daddy, let's play trains!" I love it! We build little worlds. In this picture the cow is sleeping under a tree... Liam is a lion roaring at the top of his voice.

I love making memories - truly, as Gretchen Rubin pointed out 'While the days or long, the years are short'. I often find that my days seem so long (I leave early and get home late), but the years are just too short. They wizz by at a rapid rate.

I am making it a simple discipline to play trains with my son.


How to live before you die!

If you knew you were going to die in a month's time what would you do with remaining time?  This is not a rhetorical question!  Please do leave a few comments in the comments section at the bottom of this post!  I would love to hear how you would spend your final month living!

This great video clip below is a youtube video of Steve Jobs, the founder and CEO of Apple Computer, speaking at a graduation (in the US it is called a commencement) at Stanford University.  I got it from the TED website.

I would love to hear your feedback on both Steve Job's speech, and the concept of 'living before you die'.  Is it possible to live with that kind of intensity and determination for a sustained period?  Or is this just the stuff of motivational talks and popular 'self help' theories?

Here's the little blurb from the TED website:


At his Stanford University commencement speech, Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple and Pixar, urges us to pursue our dreams and see the opportunities in life's setbacks -- including death itself.

On this note, I would once again recomend Gretchen Rubbin's fantastic book 'The Happiness Project'.  I so enjoyed reading it and found the book itself to be a source of great joy and inspiration.  I made a post about it here: Be intentional about finding joy in life! 




Preparing for the next two weeks... Busy times, but good planning and lots of love!

In the previous post I wrote about the great ride that I did this morning. It was a 40km ride in the Hottentots Holland and Helderberg Mountains (all on Lourensford farm). Here's a google image of the route (on the left). And if you have Google Earth installed on your machine you can open this file to see the exact route (and how slow I rode in most parts!) Lourensford_ride_05_Apr_09.kml

I enjoy these times - first, the exercise does me a world of good! I can feel my leg strengthening with each ride. And of course it also helps me to release a lot of stress. Second, it is an opportunity to bear a subtle and worthwhile witness to Christ among a group of guys who have not been in contact with Christianity or the Church in some time. Each time I ride I always seem to end up riding with a different person who opens up, shares some of their hopes, dreams, aspirations and struggles, and I have a chance to offer a listening ear, an open and affirming heart, and of course the hospitable love and hope of Christ. I have spoken (when I have breath!) with guys about their marriage relationships, we've talked about struggles at work, the death of loved ones, and in some instances just had a good laugh.

These are valuable opportunities for ministry, and their valuable times for me to grow and live out my calling to serve Christ and those whom Christ loves.

In an earlier post (last week) I wrote about managing stress, struggle and hardship from the perspective of neuroscience (the science of the brain). You can read about that perspective here.

That post came from the recognition that I have a deep and significant need for an active, lived, spirituality - a relationship with Jesus that helps me to gain some control over myself, and some perspective on my life.

Today's ride was necessary - over the next two weeks we shall have quite a busy time in the Forster household!

Later this week I shall be leaving for Hong Kong for the Global Day of Prayer (which takes place on 31 May 2009 - this year EVERY SINGLE nation in the world will be involved! So do look out for us on GodTV where we will be anchoring our broadcast from the Hong Kong GDOP stadium event. It is estimated that approximately 400 million Christians from the world's 220 nations will participate on Pentecost Sunday! What a remarkable thing to think that a Methodist lay person, Graham Power, initiated the world's largest prayer gather. We hear so many wonderful stories of communites that have been united and transformed through their participation and preparation in the GDOP. Out of this have come millions of projects (mostly concentrated on the 90 days of blessing that follow Pentecost) which have built schools, fixed hospitals, created jobs, and done a host of other social transformation projects!) Indeed, I give thanks to God for this incredible event, and for the small part that I play as chaplain to the Global Day of Prayer.

So, do check back here (and also follow my twitter stream @digitaldion) for photos, news, and updates on GDOP and the Call2All conference from Hong Kong.

I will arrive back from Hong Kong on the 5th of June, and then Megie (my darling wife!) leaves for Korea for the central committee meetings of the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. It is an opportunity of a lifetime for her! We almost ended up there together since Graham Power (whom I serve as chaplain) and our team were to be there (Graham is the director of the arrangements committee for the next Lausanne Congress on World evangelization, and I serve on the Theological Working group). But, because of other pressures back in South Africa we decided not to go (it would have meant two weeks away from the office). But, Megie, who is the project manager, is going.

So, spare a prayer! From the 6th-13th of June I'll be flying solo with the kids. Fortunately I have no travelling to do during that week. And, I've managed to shift my evening meetings and find some good friends who'll help with fetching the kiddies from school.

It is important to create an environment for our children in which they feel (and know) that they are cared for, that their lives are a priority, and that their needs come first in our family. Yet, at the same time it is important for me as a husband to create every opportunity for Megan to show her full gifting and potential in the great work that she's doing!

So, this weekend has been almost entirely spent on family things. We've made sure to get as hands on as we can with our kids and their programme for the weekend. Megan and I have also made quality time to be together (something that is important when I travel so much). We watched two movies together and enjoyed each other's company on both Saturday and Sunday evening.

At the end of the day I have come to realise that the best joy in life comes from very good planning, and enough space for spontaneity and quality!

We love each other, we love our children, and we love the opportunity that we have to serve Christ in different ways!

PS. today we went to the 'Spur' for lunch, and who should we run into? Gus, Heather and Zach! Such special friends! This week Gus will be doing his final assessments for Ordination, so please do spare a prayer for him!

Have a great week, and remember that your work can be worship if you choose to do everything to the glory of Christ and the blessing of others.