A Talk I Gave at Deep River on Friday 17th Jan

Have you ever heard what John Wesley said about preaching?
He said he knew he’d not preached the gospel in its fullness if he wasn’t thrown out of town afterwards.

Prophecy comes with responsibility. To discern and obey.

“Ride the wave of the Holy Spirit like never before”
We fear ‘excess’, but the early church didn’t. We esteem a book the apostles didn’t have, all the while forgetting about the spirit that they did have. Acts 1: WAIT. Possibly the only time Jesus told them to slow down and WAIT. No good to anyone without the Spirit. And nor are we.

To ride a wave, you need to paddle like crazy. You have to consciously decide to go for it, and then paddle like crazy to get there. I’m sure a lot of the time my spirit looks a lot less like a surfer and more like a beached whale. Or at least someone sitting with a coffee and croissant from Knead, watching other people surf.

Avoiding error of others too strongly will leave you in equal measure of error, just on the other scale of the spectrum. Whilst they’re busy blowing up, you’re busy drying up. For example…

If you go to an ‘all you can eat’ buffet, you don’t take a tiny portion, push it round the plate, and then judge others for embracing all the food, whilst you stay hungry?! Yet, equally stupid would be to eat 8 plates of food each day, and never spend anytime time exercising. If you do that, you’ll get FAT.

Fill up, pour out. Fill up, pour out. As you do that, your capacity for fullness with grow, and you’ll be able to pour out in greater measure and anointing. That’s the exercise of discipline.

What is happening at Deep River/ in Cape Town will be different “from anywhere else on the planet”.

We need to celebrate the local. Bethel, Pemba, Toronto, Hong Kong are not Cape Town. We seem to get more excited about what’s going on 5000miles away than right here in Cape Town.

(By the way, who wants the same anointing as, say, Heidi Baker? How much will you pay? Do you even know what you’d be asking for?! Stoning, persecution, illness, affliction, political opposition, slander from within the church…)

Of course certain things are hallmarks of revival culture: hunger, presence, glory, signs and wonders, souls saved. Let’s copy THAT for sure (though that is copying the early church, not some new American church culture), but let’s agree that revival will look TOTALLY different here in Cape Town to some other places around the world.

We have a unique history, we have 11 official languages, and this country is arguably one of the most exciting, spiritually open places on earth. Cape Town is currently all over the ‘Top places to visit 2014’ on online articles – people the world over are already calling it heaven on earth.

Yet we have the greatest inequality between rich and poor in the world – which is the reason we also have one of the highest crime rates.

Did you know, a teenager in Cape Town is statistically more likely to be shot to death than die in a traffic accident or of natural causes?! For the majority of Capetonians, life here is not heaven on earth, but hell on earth. Do we get that?

OUR SITUATION IS UNIQUE. And it’s URGENT. And you and I are HERE (nowhere else) – born for NOW. (cf. ‘What time is it..? Paul Manwaring)

“There is a synchronization of the heart of God with the heart of the church, and God is calling the church to rise to the occasion…the Lord is healing the land.”

A blanket of PURITY, HOLINESS and HEALTH sounds like revival to me!
But the meaning of the word has been hijacked. More helpful is the word ‘transformation’. What would transformation in Cape Town look like?

Well – what has already been formed?

The meaning of revival means God takes what has already been formed – and reforms it – so it is transformed.
Formation → re-formation → trans-formation.

That’s why revival is not the homogenized package we’re led to believe it is – God looks at what’s in the hands of his people NOW, and uses whatever he finds to redeem situations brought about by the past actions of others.

“The Lord is healing the land.”
Cape Town – South Africa – has scars everywhere. From the early settlers right up to 1994, this land has been disfigured with surgical precision. OUR CITY LOOKS LIKE A BOTCHED PLASTIC SURGERY JOB.

God gave me a picture: The beautiful face of South Africa was beaten, and cut, and rearranged so that it was unrecognizable. The highways and railways separating people based on race – these remain scars on the landscape. They continue to breed fear and disunity – they are still here.

We still talk about white areas, black areas, coloured areas, and think that’s normal. What?!

Here is a map of Cape Town today. The different colour dots represent different colours of people (Pink: White, Blue: Black, Orange: Coloured, Green: Indian). One dot = 25 people.

Racial segregation in CT today remains along the lines created apartheid.

Racial segregation in CT today remains along the lines created apartheid.

Might a healing of the land involve a mixing of these dots? Might we go further and say the land will never be healed unless those dots are mixed together? How many of the dots on the edges have the ability to move into the centre? Probably very few. The onus is on the ‘haves’ to initiate the mixing of dots.

For a synchronizing of God’s heart with the heart of the church, we need to ask a big question:

What IS God’s heart?

You could say someone’s ‘heart’ for something is the foundation of what they believe and who they are.
Psalm 89:14 tells us – “Righteousness and Justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.”

God’s heart is JUSTICE.

And what about the church?
We look at that map and see the truth remains in Martin Luther King’s words – ‘the most segregated hour is 11’oclock on Sunday morning’.

If there is discrepancy between God and church on this, the error lies with us, not Him!

None of us would say we don’t want justice in our city. Yet, do we feel the injustice happening to those on the margins of society, or are we feeding a system that actually causes that injustice and judgement?

You know, people who steal cars or break into houses are not evil, sub-human devils. They are beautiful humans made in God’s image, tainted only by the fact they are victims of the spirit of apartheid living on despite the laws of apartheid having been abolished. Many are victims of past injustice and racism. And yet they are also victims of a current system that ignores them.

There’s a professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota with a deep interest in Cape Town. He writes: “marginalized youth are ignored until they come into conflict with the law, at which point they are dragged into a criminal justice system as unsuited today as it was ten, twenty, or thirty years ago.” The result of this is “a city outraged by violent crime but whose response is often misdirected and counterproductive if the goal is transformation of the lives of its young people…In the process, the narrative of townships as problems is reinforced, and the notion of the black menace revived in the form of the Cape Flats gangster.”

Two lenses inform our attitudes towards those involved in criminal activities:

1. problem – standing in the way of my entitlement to peace and prosperity.
2. victim – of centuries of violence and oppression (because apartheid was an injustice to all – blacks, whites, coloureds).

Lens 1 criminalises people from the start.
Lens 2 creates an opportunity for restoration.

Which Lens do you think God sees through? How do you think God views such people? Remember, his heart is justice. Is sending an addicted, angry 18-year-old boy to Pollsmoor, where he may get sodomised and coerced into further violence and gangsterism, really justice?

We need to grapple with these questions if we’re going to be part of healing this land. True justice will cost everyone in this room.

It may cost you your felt entitlement to your money,

or your house,

your social life,

or your comforts.

If you’re worried that if you invite a homeless person into your house they’ll steal your stuff, what should you do? GET RID OF YOUR STUFF. It’s simple. If we use our stuff, our shit TV’s and tablets, our jewelry and iphones, to stop us loving the poor, shame on us.

Some people see ‘getting stuff’ as evidence of God’s blessing. It’s the complete opposite – it’s often the most insidious curse, and has become one of our generation’s greatest obstacles to loving God radically through loving the poor. The bible is clear that whenever we’re serving the poor, we’re serving God.

And yet some people have more of a problem that I just swore in church, than the fact that we’re happily getting on with our ‘Christian’ lives of careless ease in the most segregated city of the most unequal nation on earth.

And what does ‘serving the poor’ look like? Is it ‘clever’ first-world solutions to provide shoes?! (No – the greatest need is hardly shoelessness. These schemes often create more trouble than good). Is it stuffing homeless people full of soup and sandwiches once a month? No! The poor generally don’t need shoes or soup or sandwiches from well meaning people who go back to houses with spare bedrooms. THEY NEED A PLACE AT YOUR TABLE FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS.

It’s not enough to have our encounter with God once a month at Deep River and think we’re going to change the world. We’re not. Not unless we synchronise our hearts with his. And his heart BURNS for those we have disempowered through our demonic systems of accumulating wealth, his heart BURNS for those whom we build high fences to keep away from, his heart BURNS for those we ignore at the traffic lights, his heart BURNS for those lost boys in Manenberg shooting the hell out of each other. But once we synchonise our hearts with that burning – then THAT’S the fertile ground for endless possibilities.

“This is a season where things are shifting…there are new attitudes for new altitudes…some of you God wants to take higher, but you’ve got to change your mindset to a whole new way of thinking, a whole new way of living.”

John chapter 1 tells us God’s big plan for saving the world was to ‘move into the neighbourhood’. Jesus swapped the privilege of heaven for the limits of human existence, and walked the earth as an ordinary human in right relationship with father God. In other words – GOD’S WAY OF SAVING HUMANITY WAS TO MOVE TOWARDS DANGER, VIOLENCE, INJUSTICE, and POVERTY. Yet we want to run away from all of that! We desperately need a new way of thinking – a new way of living.

We sing ‘I’m a friend of God – he calls me friend’, but if Jesus was just God in skin, do we really call HIM friend?

JESUS WAS HOMELESS (Matt 8:20)

JESUS WAS A REFUGEE (Matt 2:13)

JESUS CAME FROM A PLACE NOONE WANTED TO COME FROM. (John 1:46 – can anything good come from there?!)

JESUS WAS A JEW (an oppressed minority)

Where do you think Jesus would live in Cape Town, based on that description? How many friends do we have like Him?

Are we a friend of God?

When will the church begin to CRY OUT FOR Inter-racial relationship-building

CRY OUT FOR Encountering God’s signs and wonders in the local

CRY OUT FOR a bride centred on (diverse) family, not church attendance.

CRY OUT FOR the current margins becoming the new centre

If not us, then who?
If not here, then where?
If not now, then when?

“Here’s the most important thing: THE PRESENCE OF GOD. If we miss the presence of God, everything else is meaningless.”

We never graduate from the presence. The sweet presence of God is the very thing that brings heaven down to earth. What is it like in heaven?

Revelation 7:9
“There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the lamb.”

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One thought on “A Talk I Gave at Deep River on Friday 17th Jan

  1. Siki Dlanga says:

    Reblogged this on MadameMadiba and commented:
    This is undoubtedly the best sermon I have ever heard preached about the condition of South Africa. It is also the most powerful and inspirational piece. I do not think I have ever heard the condition of South Africa articulated with such boldness and truth without masking realities in order to speak hope. Here Peter Portal was dancing with God with every word he spoke. God must have been riding on his very voice as he spoke. It is masterfully written but it was even more so when it was audible. It is a pity that the recording failed but thank God that the document itself was saved.

    Loads fell off my shoulders as I heard this message. Such was the power of truth and hope in this message.

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