Fifteen minutes

The search engine Google doesn’t provide any help in this case. I was listening to CCFM this week and the host was quoting a missionary who said that they have to pray constantly because their heart can harden towards God in as little as 15 minutes.


Looking up ’15 minutes’ on Google takes one immediately to Andy Warhol’s quote about fame, but not so much about quotes from missionaries about keeping your heart from being hardened.


The artist Andy Warhol theorised that fifteen minutes would be the time span of fame in the future, as in “in the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes”. Warhol may have been fruit loops bat-cave crazy in some ways but he correctly recognized that fame is fleeting and equal to the attention span of the average Joe on social media. Although, his quote originates from the time before social media.


Fifteen minutes of fame, fifteen minutes to harden your heart towards God. In both cases, the common denominator is the selfish man who craves recognition from other selfish people, or in the case of hyper-selfishness, himself alone. Or herself, let’s not be sexist.


So, back to the missionary unknown to Google and the culture of fifteen minutes of fame. Scripture isn’t merely soaring theory and arcs bringing together the big questions of life, it’s very practical and logical.

Grateful for spring rains in Cape Town

From the 1st chapter of the book of James:


“19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger* does not produce the righteousness* God desires. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.

22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (NLT)


I read this on Saturday morning just past, having decided to forego my usual scan of Twitter in the morning with coffee. In part, this was because the verse of the day for Friday was verse 21, to get rid of all the filth and evil in my life and to accept the word in my heart.


Twitter is valuable in certain ways but what it has are human beings who are generally not listening and unceasingly tweeting, and therefore slow to listen, quick to speak and even quicker to get angry.


Social media is entertaining but it’s often very angry and very seldom edifying.


This passage reinforced something that I had temporarily forgotten: praying is good and we are to ‘pray without ceasing’, but we are also to listen. And this is by reading Scripture. If I only pray about things that I’m thinking about then that’s one thing, however when I read a passage of Scripture that brings my heart into alignment with Him and I pray through what I just read.

When you look up at a braai and the sun is shining through the leaves

And then I need to convert that listening into doing. James is tough. James is hard core, and I like that James wants to kick my spiritual backside if I’m content to be a Kindergarten Christian.


The book of James is boot camp and helps me from being corrupted by the world.

The Hypocritical oath

I like the author of this piece from the Christian Post, framing human nature in a bi-partisan fashion, and the Christian response:

The Hippocratic oath taken by physicians is to first do no harm and always think of the welfare of the patient.

The Hypocritical oath taken by human beings is to first fib and always think of ways to avoid being caught out. We could call this Weinstein’s law, taking into account the reports of this week in the press, but that would be unkind. Weinstein – or any common hypocrite – is no worse than any of us at our most fallible.

Unbelievers love to swarm around Christians caught in sin like bees to lemonade on a picnic blanket in a park, or like flies to the unsavoury remnants left on a stinking hot day by your pet beagle Rusty just past the back stoop.

Weinstein’s film endeavours are probably at an end…was good while it lasted and all that. The exception for the Believer is that despite our public peccadillos, maudlin me-culpas and odious confessions to the Father’s ear, anything that He has begun in us is as yet unfinished.

And he will finish what He started. We may sabotage our own endeavours, but we are not talented enough to derail His plans and purposes.

I like the lyrics from MercyMe’s song: ‘Finish what he started’:

It would be disingenuous to pretend that with me, what you see is what you get. We are all constantly functioning as our own public relations company. And I’m glad my failings are not public like those of Weinstein, or hundreds of disgraced popular figures. Although I’m embarrassed at the selfishness on display for my Audience of One, I’m relieved that He has seen my every failing – past, present and future – with the lens of grace.

Tomorrow, you or I could be the difference for someone between life and death, salvation or the absence of it. Just think, perhaps the soul of Harvey Weinstein – and the saving of it – is in the hands of God, who has put a Christian in place to minsiter to him.

In every situation we should think of grace: its availability for us, and others.

Unsolvable mysteries

Watching the news this week after the shooting incident in Las Vegas, it occurred to me that I shouldn’t envy the LVPD, particularly since millions of people on social media are clamouring for answers, demanding action and nattering on in the most uninformed fashion.


It can’t be easy to be the source of information and the absolute worst thing you can do is get a detail wrong because you’ll be publically tarred and feathered when your mistake is known.


Having said that, anyone can see that they’re stalling, doling out information in dribs and drabs, managing public perception according to plan, and the public equally is aware of this and frustrated with the pace of information that is forthcoming and the main thing everyone wants to know is why Stephen Paddock did it and who else can share the blame for it.


The horrifying possibility is that the actions of the gunman may never be divined and when the history books are written that the whole mess will remain an open can of worms, writhing and festering, never becoming a settled answer to a very necessary question.


This for me is merely the latest in a long line of questions that have no answers:


What happened to Madeleine McCann? And is she still alive?


Where did the Malaysian airlines flight MH370 crash?


When will Christ return?


What or who likely motivated the Vegas gunman?


In the situation that happened this past Sunday in Las Vegas, and because of our common humanity, we can all instantly – and deeply – understand what motivated a military veteran to borrow (temporarily steal) a truck to transport victims to hospital:


Only in examining our darkest impulses could we scratch the surface of the mystery of the evil in this gunman. Still, most will never even contemplate any action in the same neighbourhood as what we saw on the news.


We need to make sense of it. Even though we know that murder doesn’t always have a rational reason:


“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, NIV). Well, the LVPD and FBI is trying to with this gunman.


Of course, as much as it is a mystery to us, to God, He knows all things:


13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 14, NIV).


We want to know the future.


We want to know the ‘why’ of the past and present. With both types of questioning, God in His wisdom, has mostly kept it from us. We catch glimpses. That’s all.


We can know from scripture that:


  • Mysteries will eventually be revealed;
  • We can trust Him because He is good;
  • We should heed warnings [*] and remember that the world is filled with violence.




What does He offer us or expect from us? Basically, to trust and obey:


Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3, NIV).