Have You Discovered Pure Grace?

James Preston 4 9:27 AM
Have you discovered "Pure Grace"? Nothing less, nothing more. Grace is not a doctrine. Neither is it a topic that is visited at the pulpit every few months. Grace is the Person of Jesus Christ.

John 1:14 (ESV)
"...we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth..."
Vs 16 "And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace."

Grace is not sloppy. It is perfectly just. The brutality of the Cross shouts to the world of God's Perfect Justice; and His Perfect, Unconditional Love and Grace.

I put it to you... have you truly experienced the Pure, undiluted Grace of God only found in Christ Jesus?

Martin Luther did in the 16th Century. And the world was changed because of that discovery. Look at what Robert Farrar Capon writes of Luther's discovery:

"The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they discovered in the dusty basement of late 'medievalism' a whole cellar full of 1500 year old, 200 proof Grace: of bottle after bottle of the pure distillate of Scripture; one sip of which would convince anyone that God saved us single handedly.
The Word of the Gospel after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into Heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps, suddenly turns out to be the flat announcement that the saved were 'home before they started'.
Grace has to be drunk straight; no water, no ice, certainly no ginger-ale; neither goodness nor badness, nor the flower that bloom in the spring of super-spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case of the Pure Grace of God."

Excerpt of Robert Farrar Capon's "The Parables of the Kingdom". (Special thanks to Martin Berndt for making this available)

And so I put it to you again... Have you experienced the Pure, undiluted Grace of God?

I have. And I can never be the same. And never will be.

Ready For A Revolution?

James Preston 5 7:22 PM
My wife and I were blessed with 2 tickets to a Christian conference in Johannesburg called “2 Days of Hope”, hosted by Rhema Church. The key guests were Joel Osteen and Joseph Prince.


Now, let it be said, I've never taken a significant interest in all things Rhema. And the same can be said of Joel Osteen. It's not that I've disagreed with them on significant doctrines or anything.

So why the lack of interest? I can't really put my finger on it. Part of it could have to do with the media's portrayal of such high profile ministries. Most press that the likes of Rhema Church and Joel Osteen get is negative, unfortunately. And when you don't know much about the subjects, it's easy to go with what the media may portray. Unfortunate, but true.

Joseph Prince on the other hand is a personal hero of mine. (Although I only first heard him in July this year! Robby Slabbert you biscuit, you! More on that story later...)

The fact is, we were offered two free tickets to this conference, and Joseph Prince was scheduled to preach a number of the sessions. I don't care who else was sharing the pulpit, if Joseph Prince was going to be there then this was an opportunity not to be missed!

And wow has this been an eye-opener!?

What we've experienced has been significantly different to what we are used to in our circles of familiarity. The style of preaching; the treatment of V.I.P.'s; the status of the prominent leaders; the style of worship... All very different.

But despite our differences... I refuse to criticize. They are doing what they know and feel best as much as we.

I refuse to join the countless of “doctrinally sound Bible scholars” in frowning upon Joel Osteen. His influence supercedes that of most preachers on the planet today. (Don't hear what I'm not saying, our teaching should be based on as solid a foundation of Biblical Truth as possible!)

But this is the reason I traveled 600kms to get to this conference... Doctrinally sound Bible Truth empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Joseph Prince must be one of the most powerful preachers on Earth today. His heart is filled with the deep, theological Truths of God's Word revealed by the Power of the Holy Spirit! He is no ordinary preacher. He is no motivational speaker. He has delved deep into the everlasting wells of the Scripture and understands the Gospel incredibly.

It is human to naturally exalt men. And I am careful not to put any man on a pedestal. And so it is with that in mind that I hope you understand my heart behind my admiration for this modern-day apostolic father in Joseph Prince.

I heard about the conference, and his coming to South Africa, and I longed in my heart to be there, but everything was against me. Price; leave; transport...

And when my wife and I were blessed with TWO tickets to the conference, I knew it was the Father in Heaven smiling down upon me.

We didn't know what we were in for. But we knew it was to be a God-ordained supernatural impartation from Heaven above.

And oh how it has been!

Joseph Prince opened the conference with a world-changing message that so deeply impacted me I could not stop weeping as the Holy Spirit washed me in the Pure Love of God found only in Christ Jesus.
If we only came for that message, it was worth it.

But praise be to the One True God; it is an “ever-increasing Glory”. It only gets better.

As mentioned, the conference has lifted our eyes beyond our pasture, and allowed us a small glimpse of the bigger picture of the Church that Jesus is building today. I don't care what you say! Jesus IS using Joel Osteen, Ray McCauley and others to build HIS Church! God is so much bigger than what our small, wannabe-intellectual minds could ever imagine.

As I write this, I am sitting in the final session of the conference celebrating Rhema's 30th year.
The conference has been outstanding. Yes, different, but God has been here.

Of course, the highlight for me was sitting under the ministry of Joseph Prince. His message again this Saturday afternoon was one of the most Powerful sermons I had ever heard. The Presence of the Holy Spirit was tangible as he ministered God's unconditional love, mercy and grace toward His people. Oh it was incredible!

I have heard the message of “Grace” (as so many are calling it) hundreds of times. But my friend, it doesn't matter how many times you hear this Message, it WILL change your life further. That's because Grace is not a doctrine, nor is it a teaching, it is a Person. The Person FULL of Grace and Truth... Jesus Christ Himself.

“The law was given through Moses, Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17

And so, as Joseph ministered his final session that afternoon, I again bathed under the “waterfall of God's Amazing Love for me” only found in Christ Jesus! Such a deeply spiritual encounter makes me only want to worship Him more. Serve Him more.

I will never be the same. God has spoken so deeply to my heart once more. Both me and my wife.
And I encourage you... let go of trying to figure everything out intellectually, theologically, and just let the Spirit REVEAL to you the Love of the Father, that you may love everyone. No matter what. We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19. When you have a revelation of His Unconditional Love for you... oh it will be easy.

Thank you for reading, and God bless you.

Tomorrow I sit under Joseph Prince once more as he ministers at Rhema Bible Church for 2 services in a row. And I anticipate the overflowing move of Holy Spirit Himself. Why? Because as one of the great theologians in the world today, DR Michael Eaton said:

“The Holy Spirit blesses His Message.”

What is His Message? The Message of the Gospel of Grace.

Nothing Changes God's Goodness

James Preston Reply 5:36 PM

What a week. In fact, the last couple of months have been the most busy of my life. But as I said in a previous blog post entitled “is your faith being tested”; I knew it would. I doubt it will slow down all that much, although I look forward to stepping into more of what God has for me, and in that, I firmly believe I will be freed up to do more of that which He has called me to focus on. But all in His time. I will always serve Him, no matter what. He is too good not to serve!

Back to this week... it's been a tough one. My wife's grandfather passed away on Wednesday evening. Us South Africans often use the Afrikaans term “Oupa” for our Grandfathers, and that's who he was to most of us. He was 85. He lived a great life, and died so peacefully in his sleep in his own bed. The way most of us would like to go. Right?

It saw me doing my first memorial service as a “pastor”. It was an immense privilege. Evert de Jager, or Oupa, was an incredible man who taught me so much. My wife Corinne, myself, and my brother in law had many moments together with him praying over him, praying for him, and sharing the love of God to him. They were special moments.

So being asked to do the memorial service was an honour. He was a man who accepted Jesus' free gift of salvation, and that of course makes death so much more peaceful. Death was not the end, by no means! It was simply a passing from one life to another. A passing from this life to Real Life. (Capitals intended). So we celebrated a life well-lived, and a New Life begun. What a joy. Of course, as a family, it still remains somewhat of a shock, but there is a Peace that rests upon us in this time.

The other news that came through just this morning was that of a good friend, Jeremiah*, who passed away after months of battling with cancer. Jeremiah was a man with so much of life left to live; and at a fairly ripe middle-age he leaves 3 incredible children and a beautiful wife.

My grandfather was ready to go at the age of 85; and there of course surely isn't too much point in praying for a man who wants to enter his New Life. But in stark comparison, Jeremiah didn't deserve to go. It surely could not of been his time. We rebuked that cancer, but alas, to no avail. I believe Scripture promises that God has gifted us with 70 years on this Earth. Anything short of that is not God's will. God is good, all the time, and it is not God who takes people to be with Him before their time. It contradicts His nature!

So while we mourn the death of Jeremiah, we again celebrate the fact that he is with his true Father in Heaven. Despite his early passing, we don't question God's goodness. And neither should we question the authority we have over that which is not of God. Cancer for one.

I don't live in a fantasy world. This is real life. But I refuse to allow experiences change the Truth that has been revealed in THE Truth, God's Word. We have been every authority. Nothing should stand in our way. Nothing.

Sure, the questions remain. I'm a real guy with real questions. But I don't allow questions to change my revelation of God's Word. He is Good. More than we could ever know. Nothing, nothing, nothing! Nothing can ever change that!

Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with the family of Jeremiah. We love you, and grieve with you in this deeply painful time. Rest in the truth that he is with the best Father in the Universe. The One True God. Yahweh. Wow.

One love forever in the Kingdom.

Until next time,

James

History's Finest Hour

James Preston Reply 4:49 PM
Well, since the conference "Increasing Glory", I have not had much free time on my hands. And right now, as I sit at my laptop at home, the same applies. So I'll make this short.

I just wanted to enter this one into cyber space...

We are entering history's finest hour.

Sure, we are currently facing some of the greatest disasters and tragedies ever seen by man. But to quote one of my most admired films... "The night is darkest before the dawn." Oh how true that is.

The stars are most clear in the darkest environment. God is releasing His stars upon the earth in a way this planet has never before seen or experienced. And I DO NOT want to miss out! If it means keeping my criticisms to myself, so be it! I welcome anyone that comes in the name of bringing God glory. The church is rotting with infighting.

For crying out loud! One of the world's greatest theologians, RT Kendall is open to the move of God that he watched a tattoo covered crazy man in Todd Bentley for weeks on end! (Note: I have nothing against Todd. I love him, and pray for his restoration)

But my point is, if the great DR RT Kendall can be open to that which so many are so careful, how much more should we!?

I leave with a quote off DR RT's website...

"A genuine Awakening is coming to the Church." (Capitals as quoted)

Man oh man! I could quote his entire website. But I won't. I'll leave that for another day. Until then, chew on that...

Increasing Glory Diary Wrap Up

James Preston Reply 5:44 PM
Amazing. Glorious. Phenomenal. Life-changing. World-shaking. Nation-building. Any other metaphoric adjectives you could think of? They would all fit. This was the most significant week of my life. And that's a fairly big statement to make (although I am only 24 years old).

I cannot describe to you what I experienced during the 4 days of this time. The Glorious Presence of the Father overwhelmed at every meeting, and long after! (And continues to do so!) Moments in the Cloud of His Glory, to times of His Fire burning within (and without). God came upon His people in a radical way.

As people broke free from the shackles of legalism, our hearts burned hotter within us, and we were able to turn our hearts fully upon God, and allow Him to shine upon us in all His Glory! 2 Corinthians 3:18 was one of the primary passages of Scripture that best describes what God was (and is) doing among us:

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."

He was transforming us with Holy Fire, Sweet Wine, Quenching Rain, Holy Glory to make us a people that would reflect His Glory wherever we may go! It was incredible.

I have never felt the tangible Presence of God in my entire life as I did during the last week. He bent me, broke me, shaped me, shook me, shocked me, any way He wanted me!

Yesterday was Day 4 of the "conference". (quotation intended) Friday 10 July. The day started it off with the Fire of God once more filling His people during the times of "musical worship". Jesus revealed Himself as the Lion of the tribe of Judah; as He gave so many people a Glorious boldness and courage. The physical outworking (manifestation) of this was fun to say the least! People roaring unashamedly under the Power of His Presence. Not everyone, but many.

God was doing something unique with everyone.

Rob continued to expound the Message of the Gospel of Grace (the True Good News!) from Scripture. Particularly highlighting Luke 13 (verses 10 to 17); the story of the woman crippled for 18 years. It was earth shattering. Life changing stuff. The Message of the Gospel is a Message that needs to be constantly fed into our spirits, allowing it to renew our minds, or else it is so easy to slip back into legalistic rituals. Form of religion without power. The only direction a church should take is one toward the True Gospel! The Good News of the Grace of God! Paul gave his life for it. So it was absolutely beautiful to sit under the Word as Rob showed us the Love, Grace and Mercy of our Father over and over again.

The evening session was once more incredible. Fini & Isi led the time of song and dance to the LORD. And the Presence of God was there. Rob continued right where he left off as he showed us more truth from Scripture the beautiful news of God's Grace. We then went into a time of musical worship in response to our Father. And once more His Presence was so beautiful among us. As we worshipped, He led us to pray for the sick among us. And His Power came upon so many as He released His Healing upon His people.

The testimony the following day was beautiful. One lady had been on schedule 5 painkillers every day for 18 years and after being healed by her Heavenly Father woke up with NO PAIN AT ALL! God is Good, friends!!

One thing that was truly memorable was the manifestation of Heavenly jewels during the time of musical worship on Friday night. I saw one young man, Michael, had a jewel in his hand. I went to have a look, and I picked it up, felt it, looked at it... and was amazed. I have never seen anything like it! I chose the design for my wife's wedding ring, so I held the diamonds before they were set in the ring. So I know what true diamonds look like. This jewel was like nothing I had every seen before in my life! The beauty was indescribable! It was perfectly cut. Perfectly shaped.

Below is a picture I took of the diamond-like jewel.



If you want to see a higher resolution picture click the following link:

http://www.sonicsubstance.com/increasing-glory/A-Jewel-From-Heaven1.jpg

Trust me, the photo doesn't do justice to the beauty of this incredible jewel! There were 5 others found throughout the hall as God manifested His Glory among the praises of His people. Now, you must understand, I am a cynic. I always have been. Fortunately, Rob confirmed my fears that at heart all of us are! So for me to so confidently claim that it was a Heavenly diamond of sorts is a big claim to make! I would not tell you something so confidently if I had an ounce of doubt. And I tell you because I have NO doubt these Precious Gem Stones came from no where else but the Heavenly Realm of God! How can I explain it? I can't. God is showing up. What more do you want?

Saturday morning was just as amazing. The most incredible conclusion to the most incredible week. Rob shared a "closing" message perfect for the cynic inside of you. We then had a quick tea break, and returned for a "Fire Tunnel" session! Ha ha!! We all queued up as we passed through a tunned of people praying for the Fire of God to shower upon us, and He did! It was chaos! It was messy! It was beautiful.

This conference has been the most amazing week of my life. And so many others too. I have been blessed to hear Rob's ministry on the Gospel before. I have also sat under incredible ministry by the likes of RT Kendall and Michael Eaton expounding the doctrine of Justification by Faith. But this week, God took my heart, and poured His Liquid, Molten, Firey Love upon it. And I was transformed further into the image of His Son. (2 Cor. 3).

I encourage you to download the sessions of our website my clicking the link below:

Highway Website (Increasing Glory downloads)

If you are skeptic about all this... that's absolutely fine. If you truly seek out Truth. It will find you. He will find you.

Increasing Glory Diary Day 3 (Evening)

James Preston Reply 8:42 AM

This post will be a little shorter than the others thus far, as I only have last night's happenings to share.

The Fire of God came. The worship, led by Fini and Isi once more, was magnificent. All focus was on the Most High, as over 1000 people worshipped Him as the Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty. It was consuming, as every eye (spiritual and physical), every tongue, every thought was fixed on Him. You could sense the angels worshipping Him with us!

Rob got up to share. Man oh man he is such a blessing! He led us through 2 Corinthians 3, opening up the Scripture, comparing the Old Covenant with the New. Showing us that we can fully enter His Presence, and keep going deeper, without ever losing ground! Turning closer to Him, shining brighter and brighter with the Glory of His Face! Shining His Glory here on Earth!

It led to such a passionate stirring that everyone in the building jumped to their feet giving radical praise and shouting to their King! I was at the Currie Cup Final 2008, and I am a very passionate rugby fan, but last night the passion in that place could not be compared. I jumped and screamed more than any other time in my life! Because He is so worthy!

Then the Fire came! Where we were standing, on the right side of the auditorium, there was a tangible atmosphere of faith. Rob prophesied the Fire of the Holy Spirit over us, and He came upon us in such power hundreds of us were knocked off our feet under the power of the Glory!

God spoke so clearly to me about so many things. So directly. That is the Joy of His Presence, He gives us the richest revelations from Heaven. He spoke to me about HIV AIDS. I will transcribe exactly what He said to me from His Throne Room in a future post.

For now, I better find my seat and worship my Worthy Lord! Its 9am Friday morning.

God be with you!

Increasing Glory Day 2 & a bit of 3

James Preston Reply 8:00 AM

Wow. There is very little else to say. When you experience the Glory of God, you are left with very little to say. All you can do is stand in absolute of awe of the Most Holy God who loves His children so deeply and passionately that He sent His only Son to make a Way for us to be with Him.

With all the final preparations and late nights, it finally happened. Wednesday morning, 9:20am (about there) Fini, Isi, their son Jordan, Bonnie Rufus and Wayno opened up Increasing Glory 2009 leading the people into the Throne room of Heaven. You could feel the atmosphere of faith and expectation! Dancing, jumping, shouting, roaring, as the children of the Most High worshipped their Father with reckless abandon. And He invited us into the Most Holy Place. The Glory of God in the place was tangible.

As I was lost in His Presence, I remember feeling the Cloud of His Glory upon me, and I knew something was happening. I opened my eyes just to see what it was and Isi was dancing on stage in the most incredible way! And this was only the first session of musical worship. (I don't like to just term it "worship", because our whole lives are worship, but you know what I mean!)

Rob Rufus led us into a time of preaching, as He expounded the Scriptures in His typically passionate and intense way. Operating fully in the mantle of anointing God has placed upon His life. Typically, his words were like holy fire breathing life into hundreds of dead bones, and re-igniting passion in hundreds more! His first session was primarily an introduction to the conference, where he explained the Power of the Gospel, and its importance in opening up a new Way into the Most Holy Place. (Hebrews 10)

Incredible, almost 3 hours passed (with a tea break in between) as people responded to the free gift of Righteousness imputed to all who accept Christ as Saviour!

That evening was just as powerful. The time of "musical worship" with Bonnie was again a time of God drenching us in His Presence, times of transformation before His Throne. Rob then continued with some of the most in depth, intense and gripping preaching. God was at work breaking the bondage of legalism the devil had on His people. Again, people responded to the Preaching of the Message of the Gospel as it was expounded, explained and applied. This time, it was far more specific, as people came forward desperate to be set free. And they were!

It was all so overwhelming. God was doing such a deep work in so many lives. And He isn't finished yet!

This morning (Thursday) the same team as yesterday morning (except this time including Brad Klynsmith, what a joy to watch) led us into a place where all eyes were fixed on the King. He began to move again! Continuing the waves of freedom and liberation!

Isi then shared the most incredible testimonies of what God wanted to do with His people as He shapes us into a people of His Glory. A people who operate from the Place of intimacy with Him. Fini then shared some of His insights into Kingdom living. Unbelievably it all went straight through the scheduled tea time past 12pm! 3 hours of deep ministry! People responded once more, and the Holy Spirit poured out His Wine as people of Him. If we are to be a people who represent Him in every area of our lives, the best state to be in is intoxicated with Him! After all, it's how the first church started out for goodness sake!

And this is only the first 30 hours. We aren't even halfway. A number of people have asked me if they can come to at least one session if they haven't registered. While we don't want to turn people away, we also need to honour those that have paid money to have a seat. So if you do come to just one session, then please respect these people by sitting in the "overflow area" in our "coffee bar" section, and soak it all up from there. Otherwise... we will be having a celebration meeting on Sunday night at the same venue with Rob and the team. All are welcome! But be there early!

I will try to keep this updated as regularly as possible, but I can't promise anything! I hope this has blessed you in some small way.

To Him be the Glory forever and forever. For only He is worthy.

Increasing Glory Conference Diary

James Preston 4 7:35 AM

It is here! It is now 24 hours to the kickoff of Increasing Glory 2009! I have decided to run a digital diary during the conference, sharing some of my experiences, as well as thoughts and testimonies of others attending.

We start with Sunday, the 5th of July. Fini and Isi de Gersigny ministered at both the morning and evening services. During worship on Sunday morning, a very strong smell of freshly baked bread filled the building. It was incredible. Jesus was manifesting Himself as the "Living Bread". He was getting the attention of His people, inviting them to come and eat of Him. (John 6). For me personally, I was unfortunately distracted by a few things, and feel like I missed out a bit.

Sometimes you just know when you didn't get everything God was doing. I have often prayed to God during times of prayer and worship, "Lord, I want everything that you have made available to us Your children here on earth. Everything."

I don't know about you, but I am not satisfied with "average". David tells us in Psalm 34:8 to "taste and see that the Lord is good." God is a loving Father who wants to lavish His Love upon us, and it is a Love that can be experienced.

So, on Sunday morning I came away amazed at what God had done, but also aware that I didn't experience everything He had in store for His people. Primarily due to distractions. What those were, I won't go into. But it is amazing how easily we are distracted from what God is doing. If we are to worship our King with reckless abandon, we need to put aside everything that we are thinking, and put all our attention and focus on Him. It is in that place that He will meet us. He dwells among the praises of His people.

Aware of this, I came to the Sunday evening service hungrier, knowing God was going to continue what He had started in the morning service. I made a decision to not allow anything to distract me and take my attention off Him, and instead, worship Him recklessly, soaking up everything He was doing.

Oh man! How He honours His children!

The time of musical worship was incredible. The Spirit of God was among us, as people were touched by His Presence. Isi shared a testimony that was deeply encouraging, creating a hunger in people for more of God. Toward the end of her testimony, Isi had a prophetic word for Catherine Clark, one of our worship leaders. This opened up a flow of the Spirit!

There was then a call for those with (or those who desired) a creative ability. Artists of all kinds. These artists in the church stood in response to prophetic call. I was one of them. Immediately I felt the Presence of Holy Holy. (Isi's wonderful and accurate reference to the Holy Spirit)

From there, we went into a time of song and as we worshipped God, He showered His love upon us. It was then that I personally began to feel the Presence of God like I have never felt in my life. I have always been open to the move of the Holy Spirit, and have always hungered for His Presence in my life. Always aware that we don't chase after experiences. We chase God Himself. But also aware that a relationship with God is one that is rich in experience.

I began to feel the Weight of the Presence of God. It was like He was surrounding me with a cloud of His Presence. I then felt so heavy under His Presence that I was knocked to the ground. The way in which it happened was a first for me in my life! There is no other way to describe it but as Glorious! I then spent the next 30 mins under His Awesome cloud of Glory as He filled me with His Love and Presence. It was radical. Moments of tears. Moments of laughter. Heavenly moments. I was "tasting the goodness of God."

Dozens of others were touched by the Glory of God! And this was only Sunday. Bring on Wednesday morning, and the rest of the week! This is truly going to be a Glorious time as God meets His people with Holy Fire from Heaven with purpose. God always sends His Fire with purpose. People are going to shine with the Face of God as they are transformed with ever increasing Glory into the Image of His Son, so that the world may see His Glory, and so too be restored to relationship with their Father!

I am hungry for more of God! If I am to represent Him here on earth, I am going to need all that He has made available to His people here on earth.

Until the next diary entry... seek Him with all your heart! Hunger after Him and you will be filled!

British & Irish Lions Sport Report

James Preston 1 6:04 AM
OK, so you may know that I often host a radio show on the local community radio station Highway Radio every Saturday. Well, Thursday morning the 11th of June, I was scheduled to do the Breakfast Show, where the sport is required to be compiled by the presenter. I capitalized and put together a fun article about the dismal showing of the Sharks on Wednesday night. If you're a sport lover, enjoy...

Sharks Mauled by Lions:

After the first 40 minutes looked so promising, the Sharks capitulated in the most dramatic fashion as they crashed against the touring powerhouse of the British and Irish Lions to a score of 39-3. And when one thinks that the half time points tally was 7 points to 3, one gets an idea of how dramatic that 2nd half was. Whether it was a case of the Lions upping the ante to a point of no possible way out, or the Sharks losing their gusto, no one will really know. But one thing was evident, last night the Sharks looked like sardines being picked at will rather than giant heavyweights of the water. And the British and Irish Lions were picking everything they could. And it was a lot.

In a match played at a cold ABSA Stadium, Durban last night in front of a respectable crowd of 23000, the Sharks came out with all guns blazing. But it was the defensive walls that were required instead. The Sharks repelled wave after wave of Lions attack for the full 40 minutes of the first half, and miraculously only conceded one converted try, a worked score by Lions forward Lee Mears. While the Sharks could only muster one penalty from Rory Kockott. Sadly, it would be the only points the Sharks scored all night. The highlight of the half would be centre replacement Lwazi Mvovo hunting down Brian O’Driscoll who had intercepted a shocker of a pass from Monty Dumond 70 metres from the Lion’s tryline. Mvovo, who had just come on as a replacement for injured Riaan Swanepoel, was 10 metres behind O’Driscoll when he had to turn around and make the chase. With 2 metres before the try-line the great outside centre was brought down like a Zebra succumbing to the powerful claws of a Lion. Only this was a Sharks doing the hunting.

The 2nd half was a different kettle of fish altogether. Rather than fried Shark fin, the Lions were gorging themselves on free sardines and scoring what looked to be at will.

With 6 tries, it was a score every 8 minutes. The Sharks looked like a 2nd team schoolboy outfit, not a Super 14 title contender. And perhaps this exposed the true reason they limply conceded games away to the Reds and the Cheetahs earlier in the season.

All in all, with the Lions cantering home at 39-3, the bottomline is that R230 for a ticket to such a slaughter could only be described as a rip off. Perhaps R100 a ticket could have produced a full house crowd, and a bit more oomph for the Durban Banana Boys. Because they certainly weren’t Sharks last night.

The Danger of Critical Analysis

James Preston 6 10:43 AM

It was fun having Curry Blake minister at Highway recently.

He ran a “Divine Healing Technician’s Training” conference at our venue during the week, and then we had the privilege of having him share at our morning service.

For those that don’t know, Curry Blake is the general overseer of John G. Lake ministries, a ministry founded, as the name suggests, by John G. Lake in the late 1800’s. John G. Lake was a great “revivalist” and saw signs and wonders follow the Gospel wherever he went.

Curry Blake now carries a similar “anointing”.

Personally, when I did hear him share, I enjoyed what he had to say. (I only sat in on his messages on Saturday night and the Sunday morning service.)

But I have heard of a few people who didn’t enjoy his teachings, and were rather opposed to the message he preached. This brings me to the reason for this post.

As a culture, I think we are far too critical.

These criticisms of Curry Blake made me think... We so often have something to say about a person or their message because it doesn’t fit within the box of our understanding, our interpretation, or even the doctrine of our respected mentors.

And it is here where we must be careful!

I too had issues of my own! I had to repent. I will be downright honest with you… After a few incidents at the start of this recent conference, I asked God: “God, surely revival cannot come through someone like this? Surely not, God?”

This is a huge thing to say! And dangerous ground to walk.

Immediately I felt the Holy Spirit say to me: “I will bring revival through whomever I choose.”

As obvious as it may seem, I was reminded… I am not God! Who I am to make decisions, judgments and criticisms on His behalf?

He is in Heaven, and He does as He pleases! (Psalm 135:6)

Now, these were minor incidents and absolutely irrelevant to the message Curry was teaching. But it is amazing how quickly one’s heart hardens.

And here is where we must be so careful.

When we hold an opinion of a particular person or theological subject, it is very difficult for that opinion to be changed. Yet I believe it is these opinions that can prevent us from enjoying the sweet wine God so often wants us to drink.

Like large blockages in pipes, these opinions we hold so tightly prevent the flow of God’s wine in our lives. And we only allow those who hold the same opinions as we do to minister to us and thereby miss out on so much else God is doing through so many others!

We are all merely jars of clay. And no jar is perfect. Let us not look at the imperfect jar and miss out on the treasure God has deposited within those jars!

We all know this verse well:

Matthew 7:1 – 5 (ESV)

"Judge not, that you be not judged. vs2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. vs3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? vs4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? vs5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”

What could those logs in our own eyes represent? We so often interpret them as issues of sin. But could I propose another interpretation? If the context Jesus is using in the illustration is judgment, could these logs represent our own opinions and traditions?

Are these opinions, understandings and interpretations we hold so dear preventing us from seeing everything God is doing on the earth today? Instead of enjoying everything God is doing around the world today, we only enjoy that which fits into our man-made, traditional boxes!

I am not saying throw your God-given intelligence and intuition away! Not all! Neither am I saying throw your opinions and interpretations away! Keep them!

But don’t let them get in the way of what God could want to do through a vessel you may not necessarily agree with!

Next time you find yourself under the ministry of someone you really battle to relate to or agree with; reserve all criticism (because it’s not Godly) and instead ask the Holy Spirit what He can teach you through that someone.

After all, Jesus did say that to inherit the Kingdom we must all be like little children.

It is the “pure at heart” who shall see God (Matt 5:8), not intelligent minds.

Pure heart or intelligent mind?

As much as I would love intelligence in its abundance, I would far prefer a heart that is pure before my God. Free from all cynicism and callous.

DR Michael Eaton Interview

James Preston Reply 10:57 AM
I had the privilege of interviewing Michael Eaton, "the world's greatest theologian alive today", a short time ago.

This is part of "The Leadership Podcast" I run on my website.

In the interview Michael deals with issues like "balancing family life with ministry"; "where the church in the West went wrong"; and he even talks about what he would like to be remembered for in the future.

You can download the interview and put it on your iPod or Mp3 player, or listen to it on your computer. Click on the link below to get going!

To go to the Leadership Podcast... CLICK HERE

There is no copy-right on the podcast, so you are welcome to make duplicates and give it to people who you think could benefit.

There will be more from the "Leadership Podcast" going into the future!

Until next time...

I hope you're all ready for Increasing Glory 2009!

Ready For Jacob Zuma?

James Preston 5 6:34 AM
The people of South Africa have made their mark. Voting is over, and now it is a case of awaiting the results. And we all have some idea of what those results will be. Personally, I barely slept last night, as I found myself worrying about far too much that is beyond my control.

What doesn't help was an email I received from a friend of mine. This friend had only good intentions. But alas, they have only sown doubt and worry into the hearts of all those that received and read this email in question.

This email was an article written by a British journalist based in South Africa. Writing for a leading UK Newspaper, he gave his opinion in full about Jacob Zuma, and the future of South Africa.

The article was poisonous.

Like a toxic substance injected into the bloodstream, the words and opinions given in this article permeate to the depths of those who care for this beloved nation; South Africa. It oozed negativity and pessimism about our beautiful land, and its future. And those who read even parts of it would surely be affected. I found myself in a state of depression for most of the day as I pondered on the future of this nation.

Then I realised what had happened... I had been poisoned.

Scripture tell us in Proverbs 18:21...

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits."

I love reading. Newspapers, internet, magazines, books, you name it. I love reading. Thus I love the power of the tongue. And in that power, is life or death. Unfortunately for me, I had eaten death, and not life. And it had saturated my soul.

When I realised what was happening, I repented. I asked the Holy Spirit to fill me, and as He did, like a fresh river of Living Water, He washed away the venom that was eating my soul. Immediately I felt better.

I was filled with HOPE.

As the results of South Africa's fourth democratic elections become apparent, South Africans need hope. Especially South Africans. Not despair.

We need to get used to Jacob Zuma becoming our next president. But is that so much a bad thing? He is the only ANC politician to speak out against Robert Mugabe. As president of the ANC, his number 1 priority is to reduce crime in South Africa. He has built strong relationships with his allies in Europe. At his final election rally in Johannesburg, rather than pressing his imminent rise to presidential power, he spoke of uniting the country in peace. Among much more...

Sure, he has his days. But compared to hundreds of dictators currently gripping onto their raped African countries, Jacob Zuma is not as bad as everyone makes him out to be.


South Africa! Detoxify yourselves of this poisonous drivel the media has fed you, and fill yourself with the only Hope. The One who gives rivers of Living Water. Jesus Christ. The only Hope for this nation!

Let us pray for our leaders. As Paul tells us to...

1 Timothy 2:1
– 4
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

If... no, when... When Jacob Zuma's heart is regenerated in the Light of Jesus Christ... this country will be forever changed.

And it is our duty to pray for that to happen. It is most certainly not beyond God's control!

We are the Church! The People of God! We shouldn't be influenced by the negativity of the world's media. We should be influencing them!

Welcome to the new look!

James Preston 1 3:30 PM
After much deliberation, I have decided to change the look of my blog. Considering change was in the air (It may have been Obama's influence), I went the whole hog and changed everything from my domain name to adding a couple of widgets to the site. I hope you enjoy it! Leave some comments and let me know your thoughts.

Also, don't forget to check out the post below about our faith being tested. It took a long time to write! :-)

Until the next post...

The 81st Academy Awards: 2009 Oscars

James Preston 2 3:15 PM
Ok, so I was wrong. The Dark Knight didn't even get nominated for Best Picture ahead of the 81st Annual Academy Awards. And I made the rash prediction that it would win the award. How humiliating!

Yet, not all is lost for us Batman frenzied fans of the shadowy caped hero! The remarkable production did receive 8 nominations for this year's Oscars. Including the expected "Best Supporting Actor" nomination for Heath Ledger as he wowed audiences with his outrageous performance as The Joker. Although, many have argued it should've been classified as a lead role. The full list of nominations for The Dark Knight, the second highest earning film of all-time, are listed below. I have also bracketed what I believe will be the biggest competition the film will have for each award.

The Dark Knight’s Oscar Nominations
(Biggest competition listed in brackets):


-Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
(Phillip Seymour Hoffman - Doubt)

-Achievement in Art Direction
(
The Curious Case For Benjamin Button)

-Achievement in Cinematography
(
The Curious Case For Benjamin Button)

-Achievement in Film Editing
(
The Curious Case For Benjamin Button)

-Achievement in Makeup
(
The Curious Case For Benjamin Button)

-Achievement in Sound Editing
(Wall-E)


-Achievement in Sound Mixing
(
Wall-E)

-Achievement in Visual Effects
(The Curious Case For Benjamin Button)


As you can see, it will be no easy task for The Dark Knight to walk away with any of these awards, as the competition is stiff to say the least! I often had trouble deciding which of the nominated films would be the toughest competition.


It is also clear that the big film of the year is "The Curious Case For Benjamin Button". The cast of this masterpiece is led by the gifted Brad Pitt and supported by the equally talented Cate Blanchett. And a masterpiece indeed this film looks to be. Critics are labelling it as the "best film ever made", so it goes without saying that for most of the nominations where the Dark Knight finds itself pitted against this film, it will struggle to come away with the award.

The other tough opposition comes in the form of that little animated robot; Wall-E. The latest offering from Disney-Pixar has kicked up quite a storm of late, as some respected film reviewers have also found this futuristic animated film to be a classic of epic proportions. Although, it seems the Dark Knight has a slight edge over the lonely robot in the categories where they share nominations.

If this latest Batman production, The Dark Knight walks away with only 1 Oscar at this year's awards, it must be said that Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker is without doubt the greatest contender by a long way. Although, having said that, it would be a travesty for the film to walk away with only one Golden Statue given its high critical acclaim. But such is the nature of this Oscar beast, it is not unlikely that The Dark Knight walks away empty-handed.

We shall have to see.

Come the 22nd of February 2009, see we shall. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button could well re-write the history books. Already notching up 13 (yes, 13!) nominations! It won't be easy to beat this masterful cinematic artwork.

Considering my blog has produced a couple of predictions of late (Barack Obama and the Dark Knight) and considering I have a 50% record; why not have another bash?

My predictions for the following 2009 Oscars are:

-Best Actor:
Brad Pitt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.


-Best Supporting Actor:
Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight.


-Best Actress:
Meryl Streep for Doubt.


-Best Supporting Actress:
Taraji Henson for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

-Animated Feature Film:
Wall-E.

-Art Direction:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (This one's going to be close!)

-Cinematography:
The Dark Knight
.

-Costume Design:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

-Directing:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
.

-Film Editing:
The Dark Knight (Another close one, here!)

-Foreign Language Film:
Waltz With Bashir.

-Make-Up:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
.

-Music (Score):
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

-Music (Song):
Wall-E.

-Best Picture:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

-Animated Short Film:
Presto
.

-Sound Editing:
The Dark Knight.

-Sound Mixing:
The Dark Knight.
(Eish, these last two were tough calls!)

-Visual Effects:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

-Adapted Screenplay Writing:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

-Original Screenplay Writing:
Wall-E.

So there you have it! My predictions for the biggest awards ceremony of the year! Don't be surprised if I get a few wrong. But rest assured I will be taking some credit for any correct predictions. And if I get all my predictions right... Well, you come up with a fitting gift! :-)

Until next time...

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