June 2008


It has already been said many times by many people that the Bible is a book of faith and not of science and I agree with that. If we are going to apply some scientific method to the Bible to prove it or pitch it against some scientific theory it is going to lose every time.

 

The Bible requires faith to believe it and it is not the same kind of faith needed to believe a scientific theory. The kind of faith needed to believe the Bible as spiritual truth is that kind of faith that resonates deep within you when you know something is true. That kind of faith that the Holy Spirit gives. The Bible speaks of a measure of faith given to us. Faith to believe in science is rational thought faith. Things making sense. A theory or idea corresponding with what is already known to be true or that is observed. If we try to use this kind of faith to prove the truth of the Bible we end up being the ridicule of the world and then we get defensive and start using the Bible as a weapon against people.

 

So can the Bible and science work together? I think it is a resounding “yes”. The Bible teaches us about God’s nature and His relationship to His creation. Science teaches us how God’s creation works. Both points towards God and should be observed and learned from.

 

An example of this is the creation account of Genesis. I understand from my theologically trained friends that this account is in the form of a Hebrew poem. So that should tell us that it should not be understood as a literal account. Not being literal does make it less true though. We should just know which truths can be learned from it and which not. Truths we can learn from it are:

 – God created

 – He created for a purpose

 – Humans are created in His image

 – God is relational

 – Many more…

Truths that cannot be learned from it are:

 – By what method God created

 – In what time frame God created

 – What systems God put in place to sustain and develop His creation

 – Probably a lot more that I can’t think about now

 

Bottom line – God is real, and He stands in relationship with His creation and He redeems fallen creation by the work of Jesus Christ. Can I prove it? No but I believe it without a doubt.

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Chris L wrote a great article, Words and Sentences, which got me thinking of how love should be our motivation in all we do.

Brokenness

I think that, because of our brokenness, we get drawn to a specific aspect of the Bible. That area of brokenness resonates with something in the Gospel or Bible. Sometimes we feel challenged by the Word in that area of brokenness and this is how it should be. We need to realize, however, that our objectivity gets clouded by our brokenness. We can easily dwell on that area and make our own subjective experience with the Bible part of the Gospel. I think this is why some people are more sensitive to things like words and gestures than others.

That said, I also think we need to be sensitive towards people who, through their brokenness, came to emphasize and even eschew a part of the Bible. When we treat them with love, show them their subjectivity in love, we might help them on their path of healing. When we, however, hand them the truth strait on, it hurts. It’s like being handed a prickly pear with the skin on. It is nice, sweet and healthy on the inside but ouch! Hurting people with the truth never helps it just drives them away from us and further away from the truth that can set them free.

Love and Relationship

Talking about love… Love is expressed and comes to its full potential within relationship. Discernment, like all spiritual gifts and ministries is for the edification of the body of Christ and should function with its highest value as love. If love for our brother/sister, who is being discerned and corrected, is not our motivation, we cause hurt and destruction even if our words are filled with divine truth. My opinion is that all spiritual gifts and ministries including discernment should function within relationship. Relationship keeps us in check. Relationship keeps us together on the journey of healing and growth. I think Paul had this in mind when he put 1 Cor 13 (Love) in the middle of discussing spiritual gifts and ministries 1 Cor 12 & 14.

So back to words… Our words should be motivated by love. Not sometimes. Always. I think Chris L made this quite clear in his article. Thank you Chris.

Apology

Where I have hurt anyone of you with my words, I apologise. Please forgive me.

Chapter 4 Trying To Be Good

The external transformation of Christ likeness is not the focus of Christian spiritual transformation. When the outwardly becomes the focus it leads to legalism, which is a major barrier to spiritual transformation. To merely strive to act in conformity with Jesus’ expressions (Matthew 5-7) is to attempt the impossible. Christ likeness of the inner being is not a human attainment. It is a gift of grace.

 

When we come to faith, we realise that we were saved by grace and that salvation is a free gift. But after a while we are encouraged to try to be good but this is exhausting. When we seem to be successful at growth, our spirituality becomes about us and not about the power of God. The weight of trying to be good is unnecessary because the way God wants to transform us is an inner transformation done by Him with our cooperation and it is that cooperation that is explored in this book. We need to ask God what the next small steps are and how to take them.

Experiment

Confess any attempts to become like Jesus by trying hard to do so. Then, feast for a moment on this idea: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27 NIV). Ask God to do this work in you and show the next step you need to take to cooperate in this process.

 

Chapter 5 Who We Are, Not How We Act

Transformation of the heart is the only way to definitively conquer outward evil. To dress up the outward with good deeds is a failure to grow spiritually. According to 1 Corinthians 13:4 love is patient and kind but if we try to be loving by acting patiently and kindly, we quickly fail. Little progress is made in the acts of love until we advance in love itself. When we take love itself, God’s kind of love, into our inner beings it will enable us to act lovingly to a surprising extent.

Experiment

What would it look like for you to take God’s kind of love into the depths of your being through the way of spiritual formation?  Consider the following steps:

  • Read through a Gospel, pausing to reflect on and relish each loving thing that Jesus did.
  • Focus on one loving thing Jesus did and picture his face as he did it. Maybe even put yourself in the place of the person Jesus loved for a moment and absorb that love. Hold on to that as you go to sleep tonight.
  • Spend a few minutes with the most loving person you know, thanking God for the window into God’s heart
  • Do some small act of service for someone you love who is feeling overwhelmed

 

If you choose to do any of these, do them slowly with the intention of exploring the way God loves while doing it.

Chapter 2 No Unsolvable Puzzle

Formation in Christ is not a haphazard thing. Though mysterious spiritual experiences like Paul’s Damascus road can be meaningful, it does not constitute spiritual formation. God is not a God of disorder and although He can choose to work in disorder it is not His preferred way of working. Why should spiritual formation be any different? We must humble ourselves and submit to the ways that God chose to work in us.

 

Experiment

What do you already know about how God is forming your soul? Make some notes as you read through this book. What do you think of the following ideas of soul transformation?

  • Immerse yourself in the words of the New Testament. What would it look like to experience Scripture passages and taste and see that God is good? How does it help you to hear God speaking to you?
  • “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” is not true. When have you strained to become a better person, relying on your will alone?
  • Spiritual formation in Christ is an orderly process. Confess to any beliefs that you might have that spiritual growth somehow without you paying attention to it. Consider what God has done that has facilitated the most growth in you. How did you cooperate in this?

 

Pray and ask God to show you today the small steps in your life that would lead to inner transformation.

 

Chapter 3 Change Me On The Inside

Our lives are the result of what we have become in our inner being. From our inner self we make the choices that affect our lives and those around us.  That is why Jesus’ revolution is one of the heart, to bring all human life under the ruler ship of God. The revolution is one of character of individuals that in the end form society and we will see “… a mighty flood of justice, a river of righteous living that will never run dry.” Amos 5:24 NIV.

 

Spiritual formation of the Christian’s soul is Spirit-driven forming the inner man into the image of the inner being of Christ. The outer life is a natural outflow of this. Christian spiritual transformation is entirely focused on Christ and is brought on through the purposeful interaction with the grace of God in Christ.

 

When regrettable words “slip out”, we didn’t have the time to dress up what was in our heart before it came tumbling out of our mouth. Unsavoury thought leaks out in objectionable words and actions. (Luke 6:45). [Note: I remember my dad explaining to me Galatians 5 and how a tree doesn’t strive and try to produce fruit, it just does it.] As we let what is stored in our hearts be transformed, we behave as Jesus would have.

Experiment

What sort of heart would you like to have? Read 1 Cor. 13:4-5. Form your dreams and desires for your heart into a prayer.

I am the fortunate owner of a Kambrook espresso machine given to me on my last birthday by my beautiful wife and my brother in law. Wow, I feel loved… 🙂 Since I got it I have been making an average of 2 to 6 cappuccino’s with it per day. I consider myself now quite an expert on this particular machine (Please pray for me to repent of this pride!). I would like to give a few guidelines about cappuccino making. If this gets you interested I recommend the website http://www.coffeegeek.com.

Budget Machines

The Kambrook machine I have is a low budget machine costing only R699-00 (±$100) at Clicks. When using budget machines you have to keep a number of things in mind. They are not made to make huge amount of cups of coffee in a short time like the machines you would find in a coffee shop. The steam the budget machines produce is not even close as strong as the more expensive machines. But if you are patient you can still get satisfactory results.

When buying a budget machine, make sure the pump pressure is at least 15 bar. Also have look at the steam wand and see that it has a small opening that can create a strong steam jet, and that it can move around enough to facilitate easy access.

 

 

The machine should have two removable stainless steel strainers that clip into the filter holder, one fore making a single espresso and one for a double espresso. I have seen machines with only one strainer and with strainers that doesn’t clip into the holder and keep on falling out while working with it – very frustrating.

Coffee beans and grind

I like to use freshly ground coffee, as its flavour is much better than the ground coffee bought from your super-market. Masterton’s (+27 41 585 4044) in Port Elizabeth has a wonderful range of blends and flavoured coffee beans (The connoisseurs will crucify me for using flavoured coffee). My favourites are their Salvinia blend and Irish Cream flavour.

It is important to note that espresso machines use a finer grind than percolator machines and when buying ground coffee you should ask for espresso grind.  As I have said, I like to use freshly ground coffee. I got hold of a Russell & Hobbs grinder from Macro for R250-00. I find the second setting from finest to work best for me, but you should experiment with your machine.

Cappuccino’s Formula

So what makes a cappuccino a cappuccino?

A cappuccino is usually made in a cup 200ml to 250ml in size. It’s made up of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk and 1/3 milk froth. The espresso gets poured in first and then the milk so that the froth floats on top.

 Making the Espresso

Let’s start with the single espresso. Make sure there is enough water for at least one cup in the machine’s reservoir. Turn the machine on and wait for it to warm up. Most machines have an indicator to tell when it is ready to use.

Place the smaller strainer into the holder. Scoop the ground coffee into the strainer (one heaped scoop should do it). Now tamp the coffee firmly into the strainer. I use the edge of a counter top or table to support the holder while I do it. The more compacted the coffee is, the stronger it will be, so play around with this step till you are satisfied with the strength of your espresso.

 

 

Wipe off any loose coffee on the edges of the strainer and holder. Place the holder with strainer into the machine, twisting it and make sure it seals well. The machine should be hot, ready to use by now. Place a cup under the holder’s outlets and turn the machine’s espresso function on. Fill the cup about 1/3 with espresso.

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to make a double espresso or two singles simultaneously, use the bigger strainer. When making two cups it is possible that the one cup might fill up faster than the other. As soon as the first reaches 1/3 full move the other over to catch both streams flowing from the holder’s outlets.

Frothing (Steaming) the Milk

Now we come to the part that separates an average cappuccino from a great cappuccino. I like using full cream milk, because it just tastes better, but you can use low fat or skimmed milk as well. Most machines come with a pitcher (milk cup) made of stainless steel. If your machine didn’t come with one, try buying one, it is worth the effort. As for the steam wand and froth enhancer – I don’t like using the froth enhancer that comes with the machines, because it makes the bubbles too big, so I remove it from the wand. Now follow the instructions:

 

·     Fill the pitcher with the amount of milk that would fill a little bit more than 1/3 of the cup you are using.

·     Aim the steam wand towards the waist tray and turn the steam on to get rid of any water that condensates inside the steam unit.

·     When the steam starts blowing out strong turn it off, place the pitcher with milk under the wand with the nozzle dipped well into the milk.

·     Bring the nozzle tip to surface of the milk as quickly as possible without blowing the milk all over the place.

·     Keep the nozzle only just under the surface, getting the milk to swirl around in the pitcher.

·     As the milk swirls around get the steam to make a tsst, tsst, tsst sound. (Best I can describe it)

·     Keep doing this and you’ll see the froth forming with very, very tiny bubbles. Medium bubbles are bad. Big bubbles can be mixed into the froth again or broken up afterwards by banging the bottom of the pitcher on a counter top.

·     The milk should swell to about double its initial volume. When double the volume is reached, dip the steam nozzle into the milk while keeping the milk swirling.

·     Best is to use a thermometer to get the milk to the right temperature. I don’t have one yet, so I touch the bottom of the pitcher until it is uncomfortably hot.

·     Turn off the steam.

·     Your froth should be smooth, fooling people into thinking it is cream. (I had that once 🙂 )

Now there is two ways you can add the milk to the espresso:

 The first: Scoop some of the froth onto the espresso until the top is almost covered with the froth. Now add the rest of the milk and froth till the cup is filed up. If you want you can sprinkle chocolate, cinnamon or cappuccino spices over the froth. Serve with pride.

     

       

 

 

 

The second method takes a bit of practice and I am not there yet. The idea is to pour the milk and froth into the espresso so that the froth rises to the top making patterns. This is called latte art. Have a look on www.coffeegeek.com.

Bang the bottom of the pitcher on the counter, breaking any larger bubbles. With the bottom touching the counter top, make circular movement with it swirling the milk a few times until the froth becomes slightly shiny. Hold the cup slightly angled towards you. Pour the milk into the espresso making pendulum movements while keeping a steady flow. You should see a pattern forming on top of your cappuccino. This takes a lot of practice. I get it right 1 out of 10 times…

Enjoy your cappuccino!

 

*UPDATE*

I see that this post gets quite a bit of hits. I hope this helped you with your cappucino making or at least gets you excited about coffee. Please let me know about what you have learned so far in your search of the perfect cup…

How did I become a blues man?

I grew up with the music Jimmy Swaggart. His music was basically all that played in our house as I was only allowed to listen to Christian music. When I was 12 years old my parents bought me a classical guitar and with my pocket money that I saved up I bought a music book of Jimmy Swaggart’s popular songs. In it there where guitar chord shapes and that is how I learned how to play the guitar and how chords relate to each other in music.

As Gospel music like Don Francisco became available in South Africa I became aware of other musical styles. I bought this tape cassette of Don Francisco with a blues style song on it. A new world of emotion caused by music opened up to me. The guitar solo on that song blew me away and I listened to that song over and over and over. While on a youth conference during 1991 in Johannesburg I came across the album that not only changed my musical future, but also my view on life from that point forward. It was “Trimmed and Burning” by Glenn Kaiser and Darrell Mansfield. From there on I was sold out to the blues. I searched for every blues album I could find. Resurrection Band also came to my attention through Trimmed and Burning and that changed my view on South Africa and the injustices of Apartheid (I’ll someday write about that journey in another post).

Shortly after that I bought my first electric guitar, a candy apple red Fernandez copy of a Fender Stratocaster together with a book from Progressive “Lead Guitar” and for a long time I was a closet blues man, while playing in worship bands. While at Hillsong College in Sydney, Australia, I played and sang Mary Had A Little Lamb (as done by Stevie Ray Vaughan) as one of my performance songs during exam and by that came out of the closet.

In 2001 we played a rewritten version of Before You Accuse me as support to a sermon series we preached in church. As I looked up I saw this surprised face looking into the front door of the hall. It was my new friend Gert. After that we started jamming together on the blues and talked about starting a band which we did in the end. The band went through quite a bit of changes being called Oom Gert’s Blues, then Blues Burglars, and finally Bayside Blues Band.

Glenn Kaiser said on the album sleeve of “Lament” by Resurrection Band something to the effect of that the blues is to be found in the Psalms. When faced with our pain and we work through it we find the truth of hope on the other side. That is what the blues is all about.

As we as ordinary people read passages in the Bible such the Gospels and letters like 1 Peter and Ephesians we read of this divine life so different from the life we daily experience in this world. When faced with this truth we are faced with our personal inability to reach the standard set out in these passages, or as Willard puts it the “kingdom personality” of “genuine mutual love” that is free of “all malice and al guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander.”. This inability is usually met with the response of “Nobody’s perfect”. What if our response is rather that we believe in God’s power to transform us into people who actually have this “kingdom personality”?

Today’s Experiment

“Read slowly through these phrases describing the kingdom life and personality:

  • to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge
  • to be filled with the fullness of God
  • power at work within us
  • able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine
  • rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy
  • genuine mutual love pouring from their hearts
  • without malice, guile, insincerity, envy, and slander

Thank God for the beauty of the kingdom life and for the possibility of the transformation of your soul. Spend a minute or two longing for the kingdom of God in your life: “Thy kingdom come! Thy will be done!” “

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