Memory of my Dad

I suppose it had to happen at some stage that I would write about my dad. We live in a far away country & we miss our friends and family. And when the going gets tough, I used to go talk to my dad. But he went to heaven in 2005, some months before our youngest was born.  He knew she was coming, but never got to meet her or my sister’s daughter who was born around the same time.

My dad was a people person. He understood the delicate balance between supporting me in everything I did, giving advice when I would listen & still not stand in my way when I willingly chose the wrong way.  If I chose not to learn from his experience, then he allowed me to learn from my own experience.  And then we would joke about it afterwards, and I know it made me a better person.

My dad was deeply devoted to God.  Every morning, before leaving for school, I would find him in his study, where he would be doing bible study & most mornings he would say goodbye and add that he was praying for me.  And I needed that dearly, come to think of it.

My dad reached out to others. After I left the house, I would often visit my parent’s home over weekends.  On regular Sunday mornings, he would leave the house even before I woke up.  He would drive to a farm community some distance from home & go and teach in their church hall to some of the least privileged communities in our region.  Giving them an opportunity for spiritual growth was more important to him than his own safety.

My dad served.  He also took part in missionary outreaches & EE3 programs; walking from door to door in some areas of town & telling people about God.  On the day of his funeral, a lady called us to express condolences & gave witness of meeting Jesus on one such occasion.  He was also very active in the local church.

My dad gave. We would get beggars arriving at our door about 5 or 6 times per week.  Dad had a small stack of money in his cupboard.  Every time a beggar came by, he would hand over enough money for bread & milk.  And he asked no questions about what they intended to do with the money.  We used to tell him that they made misuse of his generosity.  But he just said, “They will not make me poor”.  They did get more than just money from him though, I will not be surprised if one day we learn that some of them me Jesus through him.

I miss you dad.  There is so much I’d like to share with you; I hope you’re smiling up there in heaven when you see your children & grand-children grow.  You left quite a legacy.


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New years resolution 2011

If there is one area I would like to grow this year, it is here:  to spend more time with God, so I don’t have to walk into slamming doors just to find out that I’m going in the wrong direction.  I’d prefer to hear & see the warnings earlier.  Because they’re there, but we thunder ahead in one direction untill the door slams. Only then do we look for the open window.

(hey, I like that, “open window of oppertunity”)

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So this is Christmas

So this is Christmas.  But, uhm, what exactly is Christ mas?

I grew up in a christian family and I am raising my children in a christian family.  Which means that I lived for most of my life, in a culture where Christmas is about the birth of Jesus.  At some level, in any case.  My reference, and probably that of my children too, is based on the pictures and the story in the children bible & mixed into that a good amount of receiving presents.  But now I live in a country where presents are mostly handed out on 5 December, Saint Nicholas’ birthday.  And people barely take any leave over the christmas season.  The distinction between Xmas and new year is very very faint, except that new year has much more fireworks.  So now, what ís Christmas, really?  Some of you would have received a Christmas SMS message from me last year, and the year before, which spells out my thoughts in less than 160 characters.  For the rest, here is my view on Christmas.

The children’s bible tells a marvelous story about the first Christmas.  What I have read about those times leaves me with less of a rosy picture.  Joseph and Mary were engaged for some time – they had something like a wedding contract, with very little chance of getting out of.  There was really only one easy way to get out of it – death.  When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, he had all the right under Jewish laws to drag her to the synagogue & the religious leaders would stone her to death.  End of contract. Now, he probably did not one day accidentally notice that she was pregnant – because by then someone else would have dragged her there already.  So her mother probably talked to his mother who talked to him & they probably promised to disappear from the face of the earth, so as not to shame his family.  To this day, the families probably never spoke to each other, ever again. The bible tells us that Joseph really loved Mary, so he agreed & was about to divorce her instead of having her killed.

It took direct intervention from God, in the form of an angel, to convince him to marry her anyway.  And he probably married her way before anyone noticed her pregnancy.  Joseph needs an entry in the list of faith heroes in Hebrews 11! Man, I have a lot of respect for Joseph. But then Maria had to go & hide over at Elisabeth’s place for a while & then, luckily, there was a summons for everyone to go to their hometown & be counted.  Everyone?  Well, not really.  Wait till woman’s lib gets hold of this – women had so few rights, not only were they not allowed to vote; no,no, they were not even allowed to be counted when there was a senses!  Maria did not HAVE to travel to Bethlehem with Joseph to be counted.  They chose to do so, that way no-one would be able to accurately add up the months.   And Jesus probably grew up with this cloud above him in his hometown. Some of the women would have figured it out, they always do, & I can just imagine that some kids were not allowed to go play over at Jesus’ house.

So that is how Christmas started.  And if Christmas existed in isolation, then it is a very tragic story.  Ever so slightly different from the story that my children’s bible tells.  But the Christmas story suddenly takes a serious turn for the better, about 33 years later, at the cross.  Jesus did not only take all our sins to the cross, but he took all that shame there too.  Is there sin or shame in your life, did someone try to kill you before you were born, or afterwards, or maybe never even acknowledged that you (or your child) existed?  Maybe you or your child ever lived under suspicious circumstances, or others were not allowed to be associated with you.  Is Christmas THE prime time of the year for your family to have a huge fight?  Do you suffer from depression every time Christmas comes along because of all of this?  Do you live with hurts like that?  You know what? Jesus paid for that too.  Christmas is not only about the birth of Jesus, it is about buying freedom – for YOU.  Don’t let the past bring you down this year.

In context of the cross, is the place where Christmas is a reason for festivities.

Have a blessed and very festive CHRISTmas.

(one day I must search for the meaning of the mas in CHRISTmas)

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Yeah, I know it is a big word.  Don’t hurt yourself.

I often find / place myself right there in the middle of an office hierarchy.  I’m often the least technical person in the development team, representing business to the techs.  Right now, I’m the most technical person in the management team, representing the techs in a business environment. Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, here I am, often noticing the wrongs committed on both sides of the spectrum.

I was recently asked for input on both sides of an office issue.  Employee made a mistake and then made a wrong judgement call that made it worse.  I gave input to management about what they could expect of the employee.  Their course of action left the employee feeling unjustly harshly reprimanded.   But now the employee asks my advise on a course of action.  Having decided to appeal to the decision, I gave input to the style & wording of the appeal.   In the end, one question begs to be answered:  Is the employee or the employer wrong?   Those of you who have shared some quality time with me will know my answer to that question – a resounding YES.  They both are, but that is not what I want to write about, it just got me thinking.

Do I have the right to advise both sides?  If their actions go beyond my advice, should I rather have kept out of the discussion?  Can I be a friend while staying impartial and fair.  Or should I have stood up for the rights of the employee even more.  Did I show enough integrity?  Did I show any integrity at all?

Makes me think about my own actions and even thoughts when it comes to my job.  If you asked my employer what he really thought of me, what would stand out?

  • uhm, he drinks a lot of coffee (surprised?)
  • he dresses up funny on Fridays (I’ve worn Mandela, SA Rugby supporter, Kenyan minister, Chinese and Dutch in the last 2 months)
  • when he promises to look into something, then you can be sure that he will deliver (got this feedback just 2 days ago… is that integrity?)
  • listens well, sees the slightly humorous side of situations and gives advice straight from the books (… which would be the hitchhiker’s guide to something or other, I suppose.  I’m mostly harmless 😉
  • works on one task till it is done without wanting to get distracted (aka cannot juggle)
  • does not lose sight of the big picture while paying attention to details
  • strong focus on technology & excellent knowledge about, you know, stuff

Those last ones are my strong points, isn’t it.  Nope.  Well, maybe, but it is most evident in my apparent allergy for anything related to sales and sales people!  (no, no, no, not the scamway sales people.  The people that sells our own product, the guys that bring in the moola that pays for my coffee).

I have been focussing so strongly on the wrong questions that was asked by sales that I never noticed the horrible answers that I have been giving.   Are they wrong or am I wrong?  Probably not.  But from my side,  this is probably a personal growth area.  I’ve started this week.  Trying to understand the unspoken context in a one-line request for impossibly specific details.  Actually answered mails, instead of meeting each request with a question of context.

Wow,  that’s a deep thing to ponder on, on my birthday, don’t you think?  I often worry that some day someone will discover that deep inside, I’m very shallow.



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Natural selection is. evolution is not hardly…

Natural selection is just that, natural.  Evolution isn’t.

Now, you must realize that I am arguing straight from a Bible carrying Christian world view – and yes, I do carry my Bible with me at all times, and I read often – it is right there on my Android, and there is one on my Laptop too, and several more waiting just to be connected to as soon as I step on to the internet.

Some terms, just so we know what we’re talking about:

Natural Selection / Specialization:  Often mistakenly refered to as Evolution, but in fact is going the other way round – Excelling in one thing, often with the loss of another. Some fish living in dark caves have acute sense of smell, but have lost the ability to see, some are even no longer born with eyes.  Natural selection is what Darwin saw.  There is evidence of it around us every day.
Evolution:  When the blind fish are re-introduced to rivers with plenty of light, they do not re-acquire the ability to see. It is lost forever.  Evolution would have been able to create sight again. Evolution would be able to give   Evolution is what Darwin postulated.  It is not measurable in practice.  When I look at the facts, I see no evidence for a molecules to man transition.
Metamorphosis: tadpoles turn into frogs.  Not specialization or evolution – otherwise one of the forms would not have survived.  A wonder of creation though, if I may be so bold.

I am thrilled to see that science have recently departed from the notion of the nothing exploding & becoming something theories.  There seems to be a move towards a belief that there had to be something before our universe was formed.  Strange theories about parallel universes & little holes in the fabric of space & time itself through which our universe inflated rather rapidly.   But I believe that there was an eye-witness when it all started.  It says there in the very first verse in Bible: In the beginning, GOD.  Some Bible scholars believe there could have been a very very long time between Genesis 1:1 and verse 2.  I am a bit sceptical of that, but I don’t see the Bible being very clear on it either.  There might have been a previous version of  the universe, so we’re living in a sort of, Universe 2.0 now, and Revelations even talk about a new universe that is to replace it all.

I grew up with a kind of belief system where God used evolution.  But I have learned that there’s some problems with it:

  • as explained above, I don’t see that evolution can add functionality – creation only applies specialization.
  • I have argued in a previous post that you have to believe the full bible, or don’t believe anything at all.  The bible teach us that death came into the world as a result of SIN. And Jesus died to pay for the sin that caused death.  So there was no place for evolution in creation before man’s sin.  Man existed before death, and therefore MAN could not have been the result of evolution.
  • Another angle on that point:  The problem with believing that God used evolution to finally arrive at MAN, is that it would leave God as the guilty party!  If God chose death as the vehicle of progress, then Jesus’ death was meant to pay for that bad choice?  Christians that believe that evolution was used by God is short-selling their own beliefs.

For me, a belief system (or wold view) has to be coherent when looked at from the outside, but also the parts that form it has to be consistent with the whole.    Now I have a belief system where GOD created it all.   Nogal, in 6 days!  Solves the chicken & egg question too – the chicken was created, so the egg came second – I asked my boys that question a while ago & it took them all of 2 seconds to understand the question & much less to answer it correctly.  So, how many animals did Noah take on the ark?  And if he gave a burnt offering to God afterwards, does that explain where the dodo went?  And why didn’t he swat those two mosquitos?

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The story about us

It must have been about a year after I committed my life to the Lord.  I received valuable training at a local Bible school & soon realized that you need like-minded Christians around you if you want to remain standing.  I asked the Lord for a prayer partner; someone I could pray with on a regular basis.  I was still thinking about this, and when I closed my eyes, I immediately saw the face of a girl that I have never met before.  This has never happened to me untill then.  I did not know what to make of it.  I had some friends at Church,  but we drank more coffee and shared life;  it was a good time, but I now realize, it was not what I was longing for.  I was really lonely.

The youth of our church started doing daily prayer walks around the Stellenbosch university campus.  We walked and prayed every morning, must have been for more than a year.  My friends from church brought a girl along that recently joined the group.  I suppose you can already guess who that was.  Jip, the girl whose face I saw.  Now, she had a name too!  And, it just so happened that sidewalks around the university campus can only take 2 people walking next to each other & since the two of us pitched up without company, we ended up walking and praying together.  Co-incidence?

We started spending lots of time together, sharing, praying, laughing, straight through her year-end exam time at the university.  Probably my fault that she got lower results for chemistry (the subject, not the relationship type ;-). In one month, I think there was only one evening that I did not visit her – over a weekend that I went home to my parents.  She became my best friend.

I prayed a lot, to make sure this relationship is really God’s will for our lives, and not just my own loneliness talking, my wanting to belong.  Then God showed me another picture of the future, a picture of us together, there was lots of happiness. And a little bit of travels.  So I asked her whether she’d be able to spend a lifetime with someone like me.  Without hesitation, she said YES.  Seems she knew it was coming long before I did.   That was the start of our relationship.

10 days later, I asked her to marry me.  We have now been married for more than 15 years.

And that’s the start of the story about US.

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Now what would that be in English?  Integration sounds about right.  Settling in, in such a way as to be recognized as a non-alien?

If you want to become a Dutch citizen, you need to go through an inburgerings course to prove that you can speak the language and understand the culture.  I think we are integrating quite nicely, thank you.

Maric’s colleagues are very impressed that she has popular Dutch music on her laptop & that she actually listens to it & can sing along.  Naturally, the children picks up the words even faster. My colleagues are less impressed though, not big fans of the popular music themselves, it seems.  But naturally, WE love the music that you can dance to…

We can take part in a discussion about politics or football over lunchtime.  We’re able to explain what is nice about living in the Netherlands without having to compare it with a bad experience back home.  I speak Dutch at the office every day.  I used to be able to say a single Afrikaans sentence to a Dutchman & confusing them altogether.  I have now switched to being able to say a single Dutch sentence that will confuse an Afrikaans speaker totally.

We dress in orange on Queen’s day, and hang a Dutch flag out when we’re playing in the world cup.
We ride bicycles, every day, in summer and even in winter. We have been riding our bicycles on frozen roads, and have fallen down.  Even riding our bicycles on snow (without falling down). And riding a bicycle on a frozen river! And ice-skating on the frozen rivers.  Not the most comfortable thing to do, but we’ve done it.  I have even skated in the road in front of our house.

Today we’re having the worst weather I have seen since we came to the Netherlands.  There was a severe storm warning yesterday, they talked about wind speeds in the region of 100 km/h. Motorists are told to expect serious traffic jams.  The rain doesn’t fall down to the ground, it is blown horizontally.  I saw someone being blown backwards on her bicycle.  She wasn’t even wearing a raincoat. And a tree fell over across the road from the office. And I took my bicycle & rode all the way to the train station.  I did wear a raincoat though, for what that’s worth.  Froze my ears and the tip of my nose off.  Real Dutchmen rides their bicycles no matter what happens, it seems.  I think I’ve arrived.


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Why I believe

The Bible starts with the creation story.  GOD created everything. In 6 days.  And man sinned, and was kicked out of Eden. And there was this great big old flood & the mad scientists put all the dinosaurs in a wooden boat, or did he just take the cows & leave the dinosaurs? And then they built a tower & that’s where all the languages come from.  And there was this Eli someone that performed some magic & made everyone believe that there was a 25 hour day. That’s all fairy tales, surely?  But if you want to believe in something, then, at some stage, the historical facts in the Bible must be believed as fact.

Take Abraham, for instance. He had 2 sons – Ismael & Isaac.  There’s two whole nations / opposing religious groups in the world that have their roots in Abraham.  Was he real? How about Moses?  Were there really 10 plagues & then they left Egypt?  You quickly come to a point where you have to decide where the fairy tales stop & where the truth starts.  Does truth start with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus?   Jesus died on a cross.  For our sins.  Right?

But hold on,  how come the death of Jesus was able to pay for my sins?  Who made that rule?  Well now, anyone who have seen or read Narnia would be able to tell you that – the rule was made long before the death of the lion changed everything in creation.  God made this rule when he originally kicked Adam & Eve out of the garden – the innocent has to be offered up in the place of the guilty.  Oh, but then, the only reason Jesus had to die, is because there was a rule made during the fairy tale section of the Bible?

Let me put it the other way round, I have to believe that Jesus’ death could pay for sin, otherwise Jesus’ death was not necessary!  So, uhm, there really WAS an Adam & Eve? Which leaves me believing in, well, the whole Bible, except maybe the first chapter?  Why would I believe EVERYTHING that is written in the Bible, from Adam & Eve all the way to Jesus.  With the exception of the 6 day creation, surely that can’t be true?  Why not?  Because we were taught evolution in school, that’s why.  But more about that on another day….

Ok, so here I am, having to choose out of these two:
1) The whole Bible was given to us by God & has to be believed in its entirety.
2) There is no God, or at least, there could be a God, but it is not the one described in the Bible.

I chose the latter.  One last prayer, I think I even closed my eyes:  “God, I will now stop believing in You.  But if you do exist, it is up to you, YOU have to call me”.  Fat chance then.  But I was brought up in a church going family, so when I visited the family, I went to church with them, so as not to offend them.  That’s when this really big man stood in the door of the church and said: “You told God that he has to call you – well, today is the day, He is calling you.”

So there I was. Not only does God exist; He is also a personal God, that hears my (often arrogant) prayers & He even answers them.

That is why I believe.  Because the whole thing makes sense in context of a God that is personal & involved in my life.

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Who am I?

  Now there’s a question that I refuse to answer on the basis of the fact that I don’t know the answer.

On the macro level – I am a Child of the Living GOD, which makes Jesus Christ my older brother.  So you’re not allowed to mess with me, he has beaten the evil one already.  Now that knowledge influences everything I do & say.  Or at least, it should, but sometimes the unholy trinity gets in the way ( that’ll be: me, myself and I).

But to know who I am, let me first tell you about some of the things I like.  OK?

Coffee.  Too much blood in caffeine stream makes me dizzy.

I like apparent contradictions and redundant and unnecessary tautology.   But forms that is not immediately apparent to casual bystanders or simply silly.  You need to see it & think “Hold on a minute, that might just make some sense”.  For instance – I have a bluetooth headset with a wire attached to it – for the earpiece, so I can wear the thing on my collar & only put the earpiece in my ear when I want to talk & then I don’t look like an alien all day long.  And I have a solar-powered torch.  And solar-powered garden lights.  They charge by day & shine by night.  For free.

I like winter sports in summer.  When it is really hot here (doesn’t often happen), then I don’t go to the beach – I don’t want to sit and sweat when it is hot!  I want to cool down.  So instead, I go indoor snow skiing.  Last year, I even signed up for the whole summer season.

I think the best security is to leave the car’s doors unlocked.  Just don’t leave anything valuable in the car.  The prospective valuables thief can climb in & search around and leave again.  But the prospective car thief won’t be stopped by a locked door anyway.

I listen to my music turned up loud when I have to concentrate.  Cuts out all the other impulses.  Must be songs that I know well though, so I can sing along without thinking about it.  And no, don’t start running yet – I CAN sing.  Really.


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Life in Holland

With a title like that, I suppose I have to say something about life in Holland?

Look, I was BORN for winter sport.  Just took 40 years to get here & now there’s so much else that’s more important.  At least I get to skate on frozen rivers & build snowmen with my boys – untill now, I’ve never even seen snow.  Done some indoor skiing.  Would love to go to the mountains next year.

Missing the friends and family though.

C ya

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