Category: "General"

There is no rewind function on our words

by Gavin  

There is no rewind function on our words

I can clearly remember sitting in front of an old transistor radio trying to catch the Top 40 (of the time), while recording my favourite hits on an old cassette recorder.  Ja, I know… it dates me a little.  For those who are clueless… a tape recorders used rectangular cassettes, with 2 windy things, and magnetic tape.  It went round and round, recounting or playing stuff.  If you wanted to record, you could… just rewind, reset and you could record over what you didn’t like.  Kinda like a rewritable DVD… almost! 


That rewind and re-record function could obliterate mistakes.  Not so with our words.


Without flagellating her any more than has already happened, a South African realtor woke up this morning wishing that she had a rewind function.  She made some misplaced, racist comments on Facebook about the annual New Year celebrations on our South African beaches, and it has gone viral.  Without making light of the situation, she has discovered that rash words, even in text, are no monkey business.


I could blog on the racism issue – and there are probably biblical grounds to do that.  But our “Okes” group have engaged with David Platt on the Race issue through our “Counter Cultural” series, and it is crystal clear that this is a sin and reflects a heart that needs gospel change.  So I won’t go there today.


However, what was striking for me, and I offer it here as pastoral caution to our church, is the danger of rash speech – or writing.  Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and other social media forums were not around in Bible times.  But methinks that the biblical principles governing speech could well be applied to written stuff as well.


It is very easy – and harmful – to speak foolishly. There is no rewind function on our words.  We can never truly take back what we say, as much as we might wish to from time to time.  Sometimes in everyday conversation we all speak without thinking – without weighing our words.  And in our age, that is not restricted to just spoken words – that which is typed and posted on social media or an e-mail can also be regretted.  By God’s grace, usually the impulsive speech of Christians isn’t full of wickedness and evil, but it certainly can be foolish.


Think about it: What causes us to react emotionally, rather than respond thoughtfully?


Hear the diagnosis from the Bible…


"The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things." (Proverbs 15:28, ESV)


What is this proverb teaching?  I think it asks us all a probing question: “ “Is your speech and written words thoughtful and measured, or is it mostly a gushing, uncontrolled torrent?  Hmmm… If we had to record your conversations over a day, and then replay them, would your speech be considered as thoughtful and measured?  What practical steps can (and should) you take to “ponder how to answer” better?


Selvaggio summed it up as follows as he pondered Proverbs:


“Only the fool speaks in haste, without contemplating the potential implications and ramifications of his words. Only the fool has enough misplaced confidence in his or own wisdom to trust in the value of whatever unedited thoughts may come to mind.”


What principles can we draw out of that statement and use to examine ourselves?


But Scripture offers even more penetrating examination of the nature of words spoken rashly…


"The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut off. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse." (Proverbs 10:31-32, ESV)


"When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense." (Proverbs 10:19-21, ESV)


"Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin." (Proverbs 13:3, ESV)


"Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding." (Proverbs 17:27, ESV)


So then, while we need to cautious about our words, we can also be hopeful.  God is eager to be at work in, and through us, as we speak.  As Paul Tripp summarises, in his brilliant “War of Words” :


  • “God has a wonderful plan for our words that it far better than any plan we could come up with on our own.
  • Sin has radically altered our agenda for our words, resulting in much hurt, confusion and chaos.
  • In Christ Jesus we find the grace that provides all we need to speak as God intended us to speak.
  • The Bible plainly and simply teaches us how to get from where we are to where God wants us to be.


For most of us, each day offers numerous opportunities to speak wisely, in matters small and great. That includes what we write in text form on the various social media platforms, where people – believers and non-believers – see and process. Are our spoken and written words reflective of the transforming power of the gospel within us, or do they reflect a heart which still oozes hate, prejudice and bitterness? Is what we say helping or hindering the gospel, and promoting the cause of Christ? Rash written words have caused a backlash against a South Coast estate agent today. She is being threatened, abused and facing criminal charges. Pray for her through this – to somehow see her own need of the gospel. Pray for those reflecting such blind rage as part of the response – they too need to encounter God’s grace. But let’s again learn from this – whoever guards his mouth (or fingers as they type) preserves his life.

Empty offices and the providence of God

by Gavin  

Empty offices and the providence of God

I realise that year-end mania dominates much of what is being said on social media and blogs, and in a sense these musings just surf the same wave… While nothing mysterious happens between 23:59:59 on the 31st December and 00:00:00 on the 1st January, the end of a year, in our western lives, does seem to bring a conclusion to a defined period of life, and usher us into a new phase.  I suppose there are some legitimate grounds for retrospection, as well as a rightful gaze ahead.


These then are just some pastoral musings on church life at Randburg Baptist Church, looking back and ahead at the same time.  I trust that in some small way this will be helpful to you, even from my own sin-affected, warped but hopefully biblical perspectives.


2015 really has become the year of the empty offices.  If I had to pick a single image that sums up the past 12 months, it would be that picture – empty offices.  Why?  Well, as I shared with our elders a few weeks ago in an e-mail, 2015 has been a year of great loss, particularly in terms of the ministry team at RBC.  The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away, and I am compelled to still say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord,” right?  Track through it with me…


We heard in early December 2014 that Johann Strauss would not be continuing as an intern here in 2015, having accepted a call to the Underberg Baptist Church.  It was a joy to be involved in Johann’s induction in KZN on the 1st Sunday of 2015, and to hear the reports of the ministry over the year that has followed.  While I need to joyfully think “kingdom” and rejoice in the progress and opportunities, the loss of friendship, fellowship and interaction at our own church has been a loss.


Then came the tumultuous midyear period, where in a single fateful night in late June, the Lord saw fit to call home our pastoral couple, Maruti Moses Seane and Mmamoruti Sedibane Seane, along with two other family members through that horrific vehicle accident.  It was a period of personal reeling with the issues, but in a sense just needing to be driven to plan and organise and be involved in the multifidi of arrangements. I am not sure I ever really got around to grieve through the frenzy of stuff and planning and arrangements. The confusion was compounded by the fact that, after a very long battle with immigration etc, Priscilla had moved to SA from Botswana to join Moses in April, 10 years after they were married.   Their deaths left gaping holes at Randburg Baptist Church – both here at the church, as well as the blossoming work at Diepsloot.  Sure there has been great ministry loss, not just to us as a church family, but to the broader BNA and BUSA as well. But, yet again, at a personal level there was again a loss of friendship, fellowship and interaction in the office on a daily basis.


But the year had not ended yet… it has been an incredible joy seeing Glen Culling’s involvement in our high ministry, and the wonderful, God-sustained path of rebuilding that he has accomplished with the teens.  It has been so encouraging to me and the elders to see a group reforming, relationships happening again, the Bible being taught faithfully each week, newcomers being attracted… God has been at work.  But through that, I have been personally stretched and challenged and grown through daily interaction with Glen as we have walked a road of ministry, academics and life issues.  To hear his decision about a move to Australia, and the acceptance of a ministry call to Sydney was not necessarily a surprise, but certainly not what I wanted to hear.  Yet again, a loss to Randburg Baptist Church ministry, but yet again the prospect of loss of friendship, fellowship and daily “Calvin-laced” interaction in the office… sometimes even involving TimTams.


So then, a year ago all three men were still here – present, involved and serving.  As the end of 2015 looms in a few hours, the spectre of empty offices here is a stark reminder of God’s providential movement of people, for their good, His glory and the broader sake of the gospel.  But we have all lost – Johann to KZN, Moses to heaven and Glen to Aus.  That is apart from the other membership movement as well, if we widen the circle slightly… Mike and Bev Clancy retiring to KZN late in 2014, and now the sad prospect of Prasanth and Ramya Pendy returning back to Bangalore, India at the end of January.  God also shuffled others around in a way that best served His wise and good purposes for church life at RBC, plus brought some new families to us.


But at a staff level, 2015 really has been the year of the empty offices. 


How do we handle that?  What perspective can I bring both to myself as one who feels it acutely, as well as to a local church who also feels the vacuum, confusion and loss?  I suppose on one hand we reaffirm what we sing often: “Behold our God, seated on His throne, come let us adore Him.”  He is sovereign and just and good, and His rule and reign is not threatened.  I suppose we cling to the great truths I tried to unpack last Sunday morning – that in all things God is never surprised, that He knows all things that everything that happens, both good and bad, occurs in full accordance with His will.  Our God’s hand is firmly on the steering wheel of church life, and our own lives.  Those were precious truths to be reminded of even yesterday as I connected with a precious couple from Randburg Baptist Church who had been tied and assaulted for 5 ½ hours in an armed robbery on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning…. God knows, God cares, and God’s good and perfect will unfolded even through the grossest acts of human sinfulness.


Those are the biblical pillars we have to cling to even as we look back at what has unfolded – a year of empty offices.  Those are truths we cling to as we seek to move forward in the murkiness of 2016… despite what happens and despite what the future holds, my God, our God, is still King.  He still reigns.  His justice will still prevail.  He has never ever failed me, you or us as a church, and He will continue to work all things for the good of those that love Him, those called according to His purpose, even as we hit 2016 together.







"Okes" kinda done for the year!

by Gavin  

"Okes" kinda done for the year!

This morning was the last formal session of our men meeting for 5.30am coffee, chat and mutual sharpening. Some extended engagement for many months with Thomas Watson's "The Godly Man's Picture," and now more recently Platt's "Counter Culture."

Can't believe that we've been going for 4 years...!!! The Lord has blessed this time, and it has been so lekker seeing the commitment and growth, and the superb interaction and sharpening between the young men and those with some life, work and ministry experience... :)

I trust that 2016 will continue to see iron sharpening iron.

Thanks to Eric and Koch's for the regular supply of fresh muffins... appreciated!

Just remember though that "Okes" have committed to our Christmas morning connection with the CHUBB staff... so be at church 5.30am for coffee, muffin and showing some love and appreciation to the guys at shift change time...

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