Search
  • 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.
Pages
Social networking

Entries in podcast (9)

Wednesday
Jun302010

There is more than this! Finding blessing at work!

On a Wednesday morning we have a prayer group that meets from 6h30-7h30 at our company. It is a wonderful gathering that fills me with hope, connects me with my faith, and offers support and encouragement for the week. But, it also allows me to see many of our staff arriving at work to start the day.

It is pretty sobering to see people arriving for work, knowing that they have 9 hours ahead of them, and many of them don't look energised, let alone blessed, by the prospect of being at work.  I can understand some of the practical considerations that make going to work difficult - the mother of a newly born baby who longs to be with her child.  That father of a sick wife who arrives at work worried about how his wife is feeling.  The person who has to face a difficult boss, and those who don't particularly enjoy the tasks they are to do in order to earn an income and survive.

Indeed, work can be difficult - but, the good news is that there is MORE to work than just working!  There is an immeasurable opportunity to find blessing at work by allowing God to use you to BECOME a blessing at work.  And, it may be much simpler and easier to do than you think!

Listen to this interview between Particia McNaught Davis from Radio Helderberg and Dion Forster (broadcast on the 15th of June 2010 - 8mb MP3) and you may just get a few insights to help you to discover that your work life can be transformed into an extraordinary calling.  Something that you look forward to, because there is a sense of incredible significance and purpose in what you're doing there - you are sent by God to achieve His will in that place, among those people, and within those systems!  Indeed, 'work can be worship' (Col 3.23-24).

You can also download the first few chapter of the book 'Transform your work life:  Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling' and read all about Graham Power and how God is using him in business, and also about Dion Forster - a pastor who has been sent by God to work in the marketplace.

You can purchase copies of the book (with a free leather journal) for on R88 (just over US$10) at ChristianRepublic.  Or if you're in South Africa you can pick up copies at Wordsworth books, Exclusive Books, CUM books etc.

Thursday
Apr012010

Making your marriage work (when the honeymoon is over)

The marriage relationship is intended to be one of the greatest blessings in life!  When all is well in your marriage you can be sure that this relationship will give you joy, offer you the love you need to grow, and sustain you through even the toughest of times!  However, when things go wrong in your relationship it can be one of the most painful and difficult experiences of life!

So, how do you make your marriage work when the honeymoon is over?

Some years ago when I was doing my doctoral research on the human brain I read numerous articles about how the human brain causes us to 'fall in love' in order to move us towards reproduction (remember the post some time ago about the three basic functions of human brains and survival?)  This system of the brain causes us to feel good when we're with the person we're in love with.  It also causes us to overlook (or not notice) negative qualities or irritations that may hinder our desire and capacity to add to the human species!  The most common chemicals in the brain that cause this condition are testosteroneestrogendopaminenorepinephrineserotoninoxytocin, and vasopressin. If you're interested you can read the wikipedia article here.

In short, the 'honeymoon' phase of a relationship will pass at some point and we will begin to notice certain elements of our partner's behaviour, character or appearance that will cause irritation and perhaps even cause us to dislike the person.

Life would be so much simpler if more of us chose to get married AFTER this neurobiological phase had passed!  But, alas, most of us tend to get married when we're in love.

So, how do you make your marraige work when the honeymoon is over?

In this episode of my radio program 'The ministry and me', recorded for Radio Pulpit, I discuss this challenge and offer some practical advice on making your marriage work when the honeymoon is over.  Thankfully I have an awesome wife!  She loves me in a deep and mature manner that is emotional, but much deeper than mere emotionalism.  After 17 years of marriage Megan and I have discovered (and rediscovered) the joy of love, friendship, fun, companionship and care.

I'd love to hear your feedback and input!

You can download the MP3 audio file here. (10mb - mp3).

Here's a link to a video I made some time ago about marriage.

Monday
Feb152010

Prayer, what is it? And, how does it work?

Prayer!  It is such an incredible gift! Yet, I think so few Christians understand the real power, blessing, and potential that came come from a life of prayer. 

This week is the first Sunday in Lent.  Now many of us have come to think that lent is a time in the Christian calendar when we are called to take some time to grow in our understanding of what it cost God to be in relationship with us.  Traditionally Christians have given something up for Lent, and of course the reason for that was to help the believer to share in some small way in the cost of Christ’s suffering, and to be reminded of what it cost Christ to set us free.  For example some of us have taken up fasting, every time that we are hungry we are reminded that we have become much more dependent on food than on God, that in fact we have a greater hunger for food than we have a hunger for God!  It also reminds us that what we can choose to do, that is remain without a meal, is not a choice for so many.  My temporary hunger is a daily reality for millions of people all around us.  Lent helps us to reconnect with the God who did not count the cost of loving us.

Now, I am not sure what you’re giving up for lent (if anything).  However, this year I want to encourage you not just to give something up, but to TAKE SOMETHING UP. 

In this podcast (which is an episode of my radio program from Radio Pulpit) I discuss prayer by considering an aspect of the prayer life of Jesus.  24/7 prayers as a lifestyle of intimacy with God.

You can download the episode here (6.2mb, MP3).

I'd love to hear your feedback, comments and input!

Sunday
Jan312010

Be intentional about finding joy in life!

 

I recently read a single line that has left an impression upon me - 'At work, on purpose'!  I think that sometimes we forget that where we are, what we can do, and who is around us are all very important in God's plan for our lives and the lives of those among whom we live and work.
I have met far too many people that live for a different reality - heck I have even fallen prey to escapism myself.
I recently read Gretchen Rubbin's fantastic book The happiness project.  In it she discusses the discipline of cultivating thankfulness and joy for what you already have.  She calls the discipline 'mindfulness' - I have often spoken of 'living with intention'.
It is important to build such simple little disciplines into our lives so that we can make the most of what we have, instead of wishing our lives away!
So, tomorrow I shall return to work, and I pray that I will be there 'on purpose', i.e., fulfilling the purpose for which God has placed me there.  I will have chances to transform both people and systems with Christ's love.  I can model the including love of Christ, make a stand for justice, and gently do my best to make the lives of those around me better.
But, this requires intention!  Here's a sneak preview of my next radio broadcast from my program 'The Ministry and Me' from http://www.radiopulpit.co.za - as always I would love to hear your ideas and feedback!  You can download the MP3 file here (6MB)


 

Sunday
Aug022009

Cheating at life! Avoiding some of life's greatest temptations.

What is life's greatest temptation? Think about it for a moment - what are some of the greatest temptations you face? Let's come back to that in a moment.

One of the most perplexing texts in Luke's Gospel, for me at least, is Luke 4:1-15. This is a very unique text for a few reasons.

1. It is one of the only accounts of the sayings and life of Jesus that was not witnessed by anyone other than Christ himself! Think about that for a moment. Just about every other incedent and story in the Gospels would have been witnessed by others, except this one. Yet, it made its way into the Gospels. For those who believe that the texts of the Bible were carefully put together not only by their authors, but also by God, to serve a clear purpose, this is quite remarkable. Jesus must have shared the narrative of these events with a number of persons so that they eventually became part of the 'oral tradition' that informed the Gospels directly and indirectly (through 'Q source').

2. What was the point of the temptation narrative? Well, there could be may reasons for Jesus having to go through this series of temptations. But, perhaps the two simplest reasons were to test his personal commitment and resolve to serving God's will in the world (i.e., he had to show himself to be selfless and strong otherwise he would certainly not be able to face the greater temptations of power (the triumphal entry into Jerusalem - celebrated as 'Palm Sunday' in many contemporary Churches) and safety (taking himself off the cross, or escaping from the Garden of Gethsemane to aviod death). That's one reason. The other reason for his temptation could of course be to show his obedience to his Father's will - God had intended him to understand hunger (a hunger that could not be satisfied by simply turning stones into bread), to understand the struggles with power (particularly the enticing power of evil that esnares so many of us to seek fame and authority by means other than care and grace), and the desire for excitement and the need for safety (many people fear for their safety, and Jesus himself would experience that fear).

So, as I have pondered this text I have come to realise that perhaps one of the greatest temptations that Jesus faced was the temptation of cheating at life. Getting bread without ploughing the soil, planting the sead, tending the crop, harvesting, milling, and baking... You get my point? Work is honourable, and it is part of a complex system of activities that teach us responsibility, stewardship, the value of the resources we work with, our respect for others who do the same task... The list could go on and on.

Jesus was being tempted to cheat at life.

I have faced this temptation frequently in my life! People have tried to involve me in 'get rich quick schemes' (just this week someone called me to ask if I would like to join a network marketting business where the hard work of others would make money for me...) I have often faced the temptation to push my way to the front of the line, to speak when others could make a better contribution, to take credit for the creativity and labour of others... I'm not sure if this ever happens to you? But it sure happens to me.

Don't get me wrong! I have been fast-tracked in my life and carreer! I started in the ministry when I was just 19 years old (almost 20 years ago). I have spent thousands of hours studying and understanding the core of the message of the Gospel. I have many almost as much time understanding the intricasies of the Bible, systematic theology, and the complexity of the human condition. The years of formal and informal learning have helped me to understand the message (the Christian Gospel) and my audience (particularly from the perspective of neuroscience)...

It has been quite a revelation to read Malcom Gladwell's book 'The outliers'. I would truly suggest that you get a copy if you can (ask someone to buy it for you as a gift at your next birthday or Christmas!) Interestingly, I have been reading the book for some weeks now (and bought it as a gift for one or two friends), and this Sunday Malcolm Gladwell will be discussing his books Outliers and Tipping Point on the South African version of '60 minutes', called Carte Blanche.

Here are one or two thoughts (read all the questions and answers on his site) from Gladwell on the concept of the Outliers:

 

 

1. What is an outlier?

"Outlier" is a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience. In the summer, in Paris, we expect most days to be somewhere between warm and very hot. But imagine if you had a day in the middle of August where the temperature fell below freezing. That day would be outlier. And while we have a very good understanding of why summer days in Paris are warm or hot, we know a good deal less about why a summer day in Paris might be freezing cold. In this book I'm interested in people who are outliers—in men and women who, for one reason or another, are so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us as a cold day in August.

 

Here's some input on his research and the suprising findings of his sociological and historical work on success in life:

 

 

 

3. In what way are our explanations of success "crude?"

That's a bit of a puzzle because we certainly don't lack for interest in the subject. If you go to the bookstore, you can find a hundred success manuals, or biographies of famous people, or self-help books that promise to outline the six keys to great achievement. (Or is it seven?) So we should be pretty sophisticated on the topic. What I came to realize in writing Outliers, though, is that we've been far too focused on the individual—on describing the characteristics and habits and personality traits of those who get furthest ahead in the world. And that's the problem, because in order to understand the outlier I think you have to look around them—at their culture and community and family and generation. We've been looking at tall trees, and I think we should have been looking at the forest.

4. Can you give some examples?

Sure. For example, one of the chapters looks at the fact that a surprising number of the most powerful and successful corporate lawyers in New York City have almost the exact same biography: they are Jewish men, born in the Bronx or Brooklyn in the mid-1930's to immigrant parents who worked in the garment industry. Now, you can call that a coincidence. Or you can ask-as I do-what is about being Jewish and being part of the generation born in the Depression and having parents who worked in the garment business that might have something to do with turning someone into a really, really successful lawyer? And the answer is that you can learn a huge amount about why someone reaches the top of that profession by asking those questions.

 

The simple point that struck me was that we need to be aware of where we can add value (what is there in your context, and in this age of history, that your skills, training, and ability are particularly good at? Please see my second comment on this post for a more details description of these points). Then, once you know where you can add value, don't try to cheat at it! Do your best to hone your craft!

 

I remember Bishop Peter Storey once commenting in one of our homeletics classes that the sad thing about good preachers is that they neglect what they're good at because it comes so easy to them. So instead of becoming the very best at something only they can do, the slowly drift into mediocrity to take up their place with everyone else who had given up on their passion, dream and gifting. Gladwell points out that people who have been the best at their craft have spent on average 10 000 hours developing their skill!

So, here's a little video that I made where I bring together both Luke 4 and the concept that Gladwell talks about:

And here's a sneak preview of my next Radio Pulpit broadcast (MP3, 6MB) which is a much more detailed exposition of Luke 4 and the temptation of Christ.

I'd love to hear more of your thoughts and ideas about this - also please let me know if you've read 'Tipping point' or 'Outliers'.

Sunday
Jul262009

On being blessed and being a blessing...

Have you noticed that Lions never go on a hunger strike! This post will tell you a bit more about that - you see it comes down to consciousness and choice. These are but some of the privileges of human sentience... Read the post below for more detail on these thoughts, and if you feel like it, download the audio recording for a different perspective on freedom, choice and mediocrity.

Being blessed and being a blessing! A sneak preview of my next Radio Pulpit broadcast. You can download the MP3 recording here (6MB).

So much of life is about choices. I find that I can so easily slip into mediocrity. Do you struggle with the same? I either slip into the routines and expectations of my context - simply responding to the most urgent and necessary things that are taking shape around me each day. It would seem that Newton's laws of motion apply to so many aspects of reality! Inertia is a very powerful force in movement. It takes a lot of energy to break free from the direction in which one is traveling (or not traveling) at any moment. My studies in neuroscience have shown a similar trait in the manner in which our brains (perhaps the most powerful organ in our bodies) operate. The brain is not only geared towards survival (see this post for more on the three basic questions that all human brains operate on). Rather, it is geared towards the conservation of energy as a means of survival. Since energy is a fundamental aspect of our physical survival our brains make all kinds of choices (some that we're not even aware of) in order to ensure our most likely survival in a world of pressure, choice, and obstacles.

Think about this, your brain will increase or decrease your body's temperature, slow or increase your heart rate, and at times even cause you not to hear, see or smell things in order for you conserve energy and survive (women call it selective hearing, us men call it survival! ha ha ;-) But there are many other examples of how our brains, a part of our own bodies, fit into the wider set of systems that make up life in and around us.

Of course unlike animals we humans have the power and ability to control our bodies and minds. Have you ever noticed that Lions don't go on hunger strikes? Only humans have the capacity to consider what is MORE important than the momentary urges of survival. So, we may choose starve for some greater cause - of course even that often comes down to the survival of the species (if not our own survival, then at least the survival of our kin and kind).

We can choose! We can choose to become conscious of what truly matters in life. We can choose to become conscious of ourselves and others, and we can adjust our choices and behaviour in order to do more than just what is necessary! We can do what is Christlike, and in so doing find blessing and be a blessing.

So, the reality is that it becomes easy to just 'go with the flow'. The Philips translation of Romans 12:2 says something like 'Be careful that you do not get squeezed into the mold of this world'.

Energy, that's what it takes to be more than just ordinary! It takes a few radical choices, a few small victories, and a couple of little course adjustments and changes to begin to gain mastery over your life, your context and the 'mediocrity' of the world. We can choose to be more than just ordinary.

In this radio recording for my radio show on Radio Pulpit I discuss this notion in more detail.

I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback!

Rich blessing,

Dion

Original Tweet: http://twitter.com/digitaldion/status/2754585458
Sent from http://www.twitter.com/digitaldion

Friday
Oct192007

Why study theology? Does it enrich your ministry and your devotion to God - Podcast Dr Jennifer Slater

This is the third in a series of pre-recorded podcasts that I have prepared in the last few days. This podcast is in the form of a talk delivered by Dr Jennifer Slater, the Dean of the National Seminary of the Catholic Church, here in South Africa. Her topic was Theology, ministry, and the devout life.

Jenny is a Dominican sister, she has a Doctorate in Theology and is a wonderful friend of mine. The occassion of the recording was the Valedictory service for the students leaving John Wesley College in October 2007. This photo was taken of Jenny in the John Wesley College Chapel.

You can download the podcast here (5.1MB)

Technorati tags: , , , ,

Thursday
Oct182007

Spirituality Podcast: MP3 Bible study by Dr Robert Aboagye-Mensah from Ghana (PART 2)

This podcast is the second a pre-recorded Bible study of Dr Robert Aboagye-Mensah, the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana. I posted the first one earlier this week, so please just scroll down to find it and download it.

The theme of the first Bible Study was "Come Holy Spirit, heal and transform Your Church". This second Bible Study asks the question "What will a Church look like that has been healed and transformed by the Holy Spirit?"

Please feel free to leave comments!

You can download the podcast here (10.5MB)

Technorati tags: , , , ,

Wednesday
Oct172007

Spirituality Podcast: MP3 Bible study by Dr Robert Aboagye-Mensah from Ghana

It has been a while since I've uploaded a Spirituality podcast to the blog. This podcast is a pre-recorded Bible study of Dr Robert Aboagye-Mensah, the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana. I have a second one that I need to edit and upload (I hope to be able to do so by the weekend).

The theme of this first Bible Study is "Come Holy Spirit, heal and transform Your Church" it is a wonderfully challenging and encouraging African Christian perspective.

Please feel free to leave comments!

You can download the podcast here (7.5MB)

Technorati tags: , , , ,