• 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.
Social networking

Entries in service (7)


Travel, time and achievement

This VLOG was filmed in Cape Town and Johannesburg. We talk about our efforts and God's time and gaining some perspective as we bring these two into conversation with one another.


What happens if I don’t achieve the things I want to in life? Must I give up if it seems like I  may not reach a certain goal? Or, must we live within God’s time, doing our best, but realising that God holds time within God’s economy?
For me the struggle is frequently between wanting to see the 'fruit' of my efforts, yet having to understand that achievement is not the intended goal of Christian effort - faithfulness to God is the end of our good, faithful, creative, and courageous work. Since our work is directed towards God, and not ourselves, it means that God has the right to decide how and when to achieve what God wishes to achieve. My peace, and even joy, should come from knowing that I can serve a purpose (even a history) that is larger than myself.
I also talk about Theological Education by Extension College, see and read this great article on theological education and justice!
Kinsler, F.R. 1978. Theological Education by Extension: Service or Subversion? Missiology: An International Review, 6(2):181–196.
I also mention the following book:
Jürgen Moltmann ‘Theology of Hope’ 
Remember, it's not a lecture, just a thought…
I’d love you hear your feedback, comments, questions and ideas!



Think different and Christian living

I am teaching on a three day course on ministry renewal at Stellenbosch University.  The quote that we are using to frame our thoughts with the group of 15 or so ministers, pastors and priests (most of whom have been in ministry for around 15-20 years) is this one:

Jesus said in his society there is a new way for [people] to live:

you show wisdom, by trusting people;
you handle leadership, by serving;
you handle money, by sharing;
you handle enemies, by loving;
and you handle violence, by suffering.

In fact you have a new attitude toward everything, toward everybody. Toward nature, toward the state in which you happen to live, toward women [and men], towards slaves, toward all and every single thing. Because this is a Jesus society and you repent, not by feeling bad, but by thinking different.

- Rudy Wiebe, ‘The blue mountains of China’ (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1970:215-216)

I find this quote deeply challenging.  Loving discipleship, focussed on the Lord of Grace, in order to live in a different way, perhaps even a better way.


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?


Thankful to be going back to work

I am back at work today after a great vacation with my family.

I am thankful for the privilege of having work. It is a blessing to be able to meet my family's needs, to apply my abilities in service of the world, and to give expression to my passion in service of Christ.

I am thankful! Here is a prayer that you may wish to pray as you go to work.


O God, sovereign Lord over all creation, without whom all purposes are futile, grant me today the assistance of your Spirit. In all the surprises and changes of life, may I fix my heart upon you, so that your eternal purposes may be fixed in me.
In the name of Jesus, who came to make your eternal purpose clear. Amen

- A guide to prayer for all God's people (Upper Room Books, 1990)




Be a servant, and be free.

In recent months I have become quite fond of tumblr - of course it is the people that one follows that make tumblr so worthwhile. One of the people whose posts most resonate with my own theology and spirituality is invisibleforeigner. I find such depth, encouragement and challenges in the posts from this person.

Today invisibleforeigner posted the following deeply challenging quote:

Be both a servant, and free: a servant in that you are subject to God, but free in that you are not enslaved to anything – either to empty praise or to any of the passions. Release your soul from the bonds of sin; abide in liberty, for Christ has liberated you; acquire the freedom of the New World during this temporal life of yours. Do not be enslaved to love of money or to the praise resulting from pleasing people.

Do not lay down a law for yourself, otherwise you may become enslaved to these laws of yours. Be a free person, one who is in a position to do what he likes. Do not become like those who have their own law, and are unable to turn aside from it, either out of fear in their own minds, or because of the wish to please others; in this way they have enslaved themselves to the coercion of their law, with their necks yoked to their own law, seeing that they have decreed for themselves their own special law – just when Christ had released them from the yoke of the Law!

Do not make hard and fast decisions over anything in the future, for you are a created being and your will is subject to changes. Decide in whatever matters you have to reach a decision, but without fixing in your mind that you will not be moved to other things. For it is not by small changes in what you eat that your faithfulness is altered: your service to the Lord of all is performed in the mind, in your inner person; that is where the ministry to Christ takes place.

— St. John the Solitary, Letter to Hesychias

This is a very challenging way to live - to live as a servant and to live as a free person. Our world encourages us to live as free Lords, Lords of our own destiny and making, not as free servants.

Over the last four years I have struggled to choose the path of service - perhaps it is because I am so addicted to being a 'Lord'. I qualified early in a unique and interesting discipline. I was afforded great opportunity and favor within the Church. This was not good for me. My ego sought the recognition and affirmation that others gave. I soon realised that I was becoming less and less Christ-like as I lived the life of a Lord, instead of the life of service, living like Jesus. So, I took up a post that called for service. I decided to give my energy, training and ability to serve the ideas of others. I dedicated myself to helping other people to become the best that they could be. It has often been a challenging journey.

My wife and I were wise enough to make some small commitments that have helped us. We have turned away opportunities for greater earning capacity - simply stated we did not want to be owned by money. We want to be free to respond to God's call to ministry, wherever and whenever it may come.

It is not always easy. But, we are striving to be free servants - choosing to serve. Sometimes we get it right. Often we don't.


A life of service... without the need to be recognised.


[T]here is no substitute for learning to be a Christian by being in the presence of significant lives made significant by being Christian. … Significance suggests importance… lives that make a difference and that demand acknowledgement. But the lives of significance I began to notice were not significant in any of those ways. Rather, they were lives of quiet serenity, capable of attending with love to the everyday without the need to be recognized as ‘making a difference'.

- Stanley Hauerwas (via redviena)

I am deeply challenged by that last line, to live "lives of quiet serenity, capable of attending with love to the everyday without the need to be recognized as 'making a difference'."




May God bless us!

I have been spending a lot of time praying about a deep and sincere relationship with God in Jesus Christ. I realise that a true relationship with Jesus is something that is intimate, experienced deeply within one's being, and it makes one vulnerable to God and to the world.

I posted the post below some weeks ago.  I want to repost it here since it means a great deal to me as I pray about my love for Christ and the ways of Christ in the world.

I came across this wonderful Franciscan blessing earlier today. It reminded me that I so quickly become comfortable in my life. I very quickly forget that I am saved by Christ to serve others, and in order to do that I need to be able to experience the pain and struggle of those amongst whom God is sending me.

There is a great Church in Pretoria that has the slogan (in Afrikaans) 'Leef iemand raak' The best translation I can give is something along the lines of 'live your life into the lives of others', or 'in your living, make sure you encounter others'.

I too easily get busy, distracted, selfish and when this happens I forget what it means to truly live - to live one's life for others. Here's the blessing - I would love to hear how you remain mindful of the needs, cares, and struggles of others. Please do share some insights that help you to remain connected and intentional about living your life as a gift from God, intended to be given generously for others.

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator,
Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Saviour,
and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide,
be with you and remain with you, this day and forevermore.

Thanks for stopping by the blog! My trip through Malaysia has ended, it was magnificent! Today we were at Bethel Church in Singapore and go on to Hong Kong tomorrow. I am missing my family and can't wait to be home with them! This trip has been remarkable in so many ways. The body of Christ is indeed diverse and full of great difference, splendor and blessing! I am thankful to be a small part of it!