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  • 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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Thursday
Nov152018

The anniversary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's ordination - Christians and power relations

Today is the anniversary of the Ordination of German pastor, theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (15 November 1931).

I spoke to Bradley Kirsten on 729 Cape Pulpit this morning about how Christians engage with 'power' - power in our nations, power in our communities, power in our families, power in our workplaces.

I chose this theme in reflection upon the life and work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And then, in my morning devotional reading, this reflection by the South African theologian John Van De Laar challenged me deeply! It is well worth reading. I will place a link to John's daily devotions at the end of this post.

How do we respond to the ways of power and dominance in our world? The most natural response is to retaliate, using force to overcome force and violence to deal with violence. It’s tempting to place our faith in bigger guns, more money, and better power plays, but there is no peace or security to be found in that course. It doesn’t matter whether it’s conflict between nations or conflict between individuals, when we allow violence to beget more violence, we bring nothing but greater destruction, pain, and death into our world. It may feel good to dominate another, or to get revenge on an antagonist, but ultimately, when we make the quest for power the guiding force in our lives, we lose our souls.

Jesus had a very different way of living. When his disciples admired the grandeur of the temple, which had come to represent both political and spiritual power and wealth, Jesus warned them that such human power systems would not survive. The temple, and those who enjoyed power because of it, would be destroyed. Human attempts to claim power – whether through war or pretending to be great spiritual leaders (messiahs) – would ultimately bring nothing but destruction. What lasts is the way of powerless peace that Jesus lived and preached. As powerful as the Roman Empire was when it destroyed the temple (as Jesus had predicted), it could not withstand the power of the Gospel. It took a few hundred years, but ultimately love and peace remained and the Empire collapsed.

Most of us will have little to do with the power plays of governments and nations, except as we use our vote or our voice to engage in political processes. But, we all have to face power dynamics in our lives, our families, and our communities every day. Here is where we need to make the choice either to embrace the power games of the world, or to embody the “powerless” peace of Jesus, refusing to retaliate, being quick to forgive, and quick to share whatever power we have with others. This is the theme we will explore this week.


See John's daily worship resources at: http://sacredise.com/category/daily-worship/

 

Saturday
Oct132012

Historic launch of Christian anti-corruption campaign - EXPOSED shining a light on corruption

On Thursday the 1 year launch for EXPOSED - Shining a light on corruption took place.  It was truly an historic event.  

Below you will find a short interview that I did about EXPOSED for UCB radio, our EXPOSED press release and one or two pictures form the event.

Here's what you can do to add your voice!

1.  Book the dates 14-20 October 2013 and either attend, or arrange, an EXPOSED Vigil in your town or city. Details for organising a vigil will be on our website soon.

2.  Consider what one thing you and your circile of influence (family, friends, colleagues, community) could do to change a something or someone that is corrupt.  I would suggest that you A) Call together 5 or so friends B) tell them about EXPOSED and ask them to stand with you to witness God's will on this issue C) Pray about what God may want you to engage with in your community (corruption in Africa is very different from corruption in Europe.  You will know best what is most urgent and important to deal with) D) Decide how you will engage this issue E) Go to http://www.exposed2013.com and share your story!

3.  Visit http://www.exposed2013.com and add your name to the Global Call. We intend to hand tens of millions of names and signatures to the leaders of the world's most economically and politically powerful nations when they meet in Austrailia for the G20 meetings in 2014.  Your voice counts!  Remember this slogan:  Corruption has a name, poverty has a face, you have a voice!  Simply sign up and you will one of the millions who will remind these leaders to govern ethically and manage the earth's resources for the good of every citizen of the planet.

Here is a copy of the UCB interview (MP3) - thank you to UCB media http://www.ucbmedia.co.uk

Here's our press release:

The launch of EXPOSED - Shining a Light on Corruption, is an historic event as it marks the first time in history that leading Christian agencies and organisations have united to take a stand against corruption, one of the major factors contributing to global poverty.

This message set the tone for the launch of EXPOSED2013 in London on Thursday 11 October 2012.

Campaign chairman and International Director of Micah Challenge, Rev Joel Edwards, said: ‘No nation is immune. This current economic crisis means that greed, the excesses of corporate cultures, dishonesty and unaccountable behaviour has touched us where it hurts. EXPOSED is here to join an increasing chorus of concern, which says ‘enough is enough’. It is an opportunity for the church to do what we are called to do: to raise our voice in holy outrage and provide practical offerings of hope.’

The launch, attended by partners, supporters and media, marked the start of a 12-month campaign of awareness-raising and action. In the next year, hundreds of millions of people will be mobilised to commit to and promote practical steps for ethical behaviour in business, government, the Church and society as a whole. The year will culminate in the EXPOSED Global Vigil against Corruption from 14-20 October 2013 and with the signing of a Global Call against corruption which will be handed to the G20 gathering of leading economies in Australia in 2014. Organisers are aiming to gather 10 million signatories.

At the event at Westminster Central Hall, chaired by Lord Paul Boateng, EXPOSED International Co-ordinator Dr Dion Forster said ‘I am convinced that we are responding to God’s call to the Church to take a stand on the issue of corruption across the globe.’

Giving the Biblical grounding for the campaign, Dr Forster continued: ‘Corruption is a sin. It is a sin that is perpetrated against the most vulnerable members of society. It is an affront to God. It is this truth that makes the EXPOSED campaign so important and so urgent.’

Dr Chris Lodewyk representing the Unashamedly Ethical campaign which challenges people to make a public commitment to ‘values, ethics and clean living’, pledged its backing for the EXPOSED campaign.  Corruption, he said, is a particular scourge in Africa but is certainly not confined to that continent.

Global partners include the British and Foreign Bible Society, the American Bible Society, The Salvation Army, Unashamedly Ethical, the World Evangelical Alliance and Micah Challenge International, but the EXPOSED2013 campaign has a much wider and broader support base. EXPOSED has been working with the United Nations Millennium Campaign and Tax Justice Network.

In the next year, the Church will be called to act with integrity and openness. Governments will be urged to act justly and honestly and to implement laws to stop all forms of corruption, so that sustainable growth is possible now and for future generations. Business people will also be asked to promote honest dealings in pricing, procurement, taxes and transparency so that enterprises of all sizes have the opportunity to prosper.

Christians across the world will be asked to take personal action to challenge their own behaviours and stand against corruption in their own communities. Local action is also advocated, with individuals and groups being asked to join and organise a Vigil against Corruption from 14-20 October 2013. At national and international level up to 10 million Christians will be encouraged to add their voices to EXPOSED2013’s Global Call against corruption that will be delivered to leaders of the world’s most powerful nations.

- Ends-

About Exposed

EXPOSED is a coalition of Christian Organisations that aims to challenge the global Church, business and governments to highlight the impact of corruption on the poorest of the poor. The EXPOSED coalition partners include the Bible Society of the United Kingdom, the Bible Society of North America, The Salvation Army, Unashamedly Ethical, the World Evangelical Alliance and Micah Challenge International. Others who have indicated their support for the campaign include Tearfund, 24/7 Prayer and the Association for a Just Society (AJS) in Honduras, CANOPI in Malaysia, The Langham Partnership, Global Day of Prayer, Advocates International, Empower21 and Asian Access. There has also been engagement with the Catholic Bishops Conference, Lambeth Palace, The Organisation of Instituted Churches in Africa, Bishop Ben Quashie of Jos, Nigeria, Bishop Zac Niringiye of Uganda, Dr Goodwill Shana from Zimbabwe, Bishop Tendero of Lausanne and the NGO umbrella body Micah Network.

For more information about EXPOSED go to www.exposed2013.com

 

Footnotes

Footnote 1: December 2011 report from Washington-based Global Financial Integrity

Footnote 2: Interview with Daniel Kaufman, Global Governance Director, The World Bank Institute, “Six Questions about the cost of corruption” April 8th 2004

Sunday
Oct102010

Christian leadership - An interview with Kate Turkington on Radio 702 / Cape Talk Radio

Yesterday I was phoned by the producer of Kate Turkington's radio program on Radio 702 / Cape Talk Radio to ask if I would be willing to do an interview on her show on some of the characters and characteristics of Christian Leadership.  You may stumble upon this page today, or in the months that follow.  Please feel free to add your own thoughts, insights and convictions in the comments below! I'd love to hear from you!

What is certain is that there are a wealth of resources on what it means to be a Christian and a Leader.  I have chosen a few points that are important to me - some of them were written up in my most recent book 'Transform your work life:  Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling' (with particular reference to one of the great Christian leaders in contemporary South Africa, Graham Power of the Power Group, Global Day of Prayer and Unashamedly Ethical).

So, here are a few pointers:

An unwavering commitment to the person of Jesus and the ways of Jesus.

If one declares one's self to be a Christian in leadership he or she should naturally display a clear devotion to the person of Jesus Christ, and the ways of Jesus. I would suggest that a Christian leader should bear some resemblance to the character of Jesus (Phil 2:1-5 and Gal 5.21-23).  Moreover, a Christian leader should seek to devote his or her life to doing the kinds of things that Jesus came to do (to establish God's Kingdom of justice, mercy, grace, equality, provision and wholeness - c.f. Lk 4:33 and Lk 4:19ff).

A Christian leader should display integrity and courage.

All of the great leaders of the Bible (among whom I would count Jesus, David, Joseph, Moses and a host of others such as Esther) displayed great integrity and courage.

Let's talk about courage first - it was Christ's courage that cost his life.  It was Moses' courage that highlighted one of the central themes of the Bible (God's emphasis upon social justice), he set a nation free and courageously led them through very trying conditions in the desert.  David faced Goliath and many other enemies in his lifetime.  Esther won over a foreign King and saved her people.

Integrity is another hallmark of a great Christian leader.  The Bible is clear that we should not say 'yes, yes' with one breath and 'no, no' with the next (Matt 5.37 and 2 Cor 1.17).  Jospeh showed incredible integrity in not giving in to the seduction of Potiphar's wife. He was not swayed by the might of the King, and eventually he went on to save many nations - even his own brothers who had sold him into slavery. Of course David made a number of indiscretions in his life and faced grave consequences for that!

A Christian leader should seek to be a servant of God's will and the needs of the people.

One of the most shameful characteristics of contemporary leadership is that it is selfish and self fulfilling.  It is all about the leader.  However, the real reason for leadership is to serve a greater cause.  Christian leaders are called to live like Jesus did, as servant leaders (see Luke 9.46-50; 22.24-30; Mark 9.33-37; 10.35-45; Matt. 20.20-28).  Of course Jesus himself was a leader who recognized that his life should be lived for others - he served the will of his Father first and foremost, and sought to uplift others and bring out the very best in them (John 13.1-7).

In our time I have seen a few people like this.  Bishop Desmond Tutu was willing to sacrifice himself for what he believed God wanted for the nation of South Africa.  He would place himself in difficult situations, facing powerful groups and people, and even placing himself between waring groups, for the sake of peace and transformation.  His servanthood and sincere love for others won them over, changed first their hearts and then their minds, and later won the day!  

Nelson Mandela is another man who has done this in our nation. After all that he had been through in his lifetime he would have been justified (socially) if he was filled with revenge.  Yet, he held the needs of the nation as higher than his own.  He exemplified forgiveness and reconciliation and inspired others to do the same.

A Christian leader should be skillful, self controlled and humble.

The leaders of the Bible were all equipped for the tasks they were to take up.  Some received divine empowerment, others were trained in courts or under Godly mentors.  Some had previous life's experience that they could apply to their new tasks.

A person who is skilled and secure in what they are to do will have a powerful personal life.  They will be resolute and secure, not pandering to the needs of others, or selfish ambition and vein conceit (Phil 2:5).  I'm afraid that there are many leaders who have dismal private lives, and it shows clearly in their public life!

A Christian leader should do all that she or he can to lead first within their home, displaying the deepest and most sincere character traits in those relationships, and then from that strong base to lead in the broader community.

Some of the greatest weaknesses that we see in leaders who make mistakes in the Bible (David, Saul, Judas) etc., are mistakes that result from a lack of self-control, a lack of humility, and personal ambition and desire.  Christian leaders should have the needs of the people and the will of God as their primary motivation.

Finally, on my list, I believe Christian leaders should live by faith.

It takes faith to achieve great things for God and God's people!  A Christian leader will require faith in God's ability and God's sovereign Power and Will.  Many leaders in the Bible (Joseph and Moses, even Paul) had to rely on God to do things that seemed impossible!  Their faith in God, which arises out a deeply intimate relationship with God in Christ, gave them both courage and sustanance for the journey of leadership.

Well, that's my list for now!  I hope to be able to record the show this evening and put a copy up here after the fact.

Please fee free to add your thoughts, ideas and insights in the comments below!  I'd love to hear from you.

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.