Monthly Archives: August 2014

Another way of using Facebook

I have spent plenty hours in my life on Facebook, and I presume, so have you. At the same time, I am a professing Christian and I desire to share the Gospel of Christ.

In the midst of all the turmoil our world finds itself in, I find it shocking how most facebook posts merely satisfy a sickening hunger for sensationalism. Whether it be posts depicting mutilated animals, videos of atrocities of war, posts with photos of parties gone out of hand with people being hectically drunk and obscene… the list continues and I am sure you have your own few you could add.

The questions I need to ask myself and suggest you ask yourself are:

what feelings get promoted by such sensationalism? Is it a hunger to share the Gospel, to pray, to love, … or is it mostly shock, disgust, anger, frustration, fear, hatred, judgmental opinion and a sense of being better than ‘they’ are, …

what do I want others to witness when they think of me (even on FB)? Is it such sensationalism, judgmental opinion, anger and bitterness towards others that act and think otehrwise… or it is a desire for them to seek a loving God, who forgives, reconciles and calls us to love and pray and be the change this world desires.

what can I do about all this? Is it the right choice to just “fast” FB for a while… or should I rather learn to use it effectively for the building of His kingdom on earth? Or do I decide that God has no say in my usage of facebook?

I decided I need to do something about my usage of facebook so it honours God. I do share truth (but never without the necessary love for all parties involved.), I however also decided I would use facebook to witness. So I came up with an idea that I will share with you today, hoping some of my readers here might catch onto it and will follow in a similar attempt.

I decided to post a testimony a day. (Brutally honest and vulnerable at times.)

Yes, I literally have a post on my wall saying “Testomony Day …” and then I testify in short of one thing that God has done for me today.

Some days it is challenging to find a testimony I deem worthwhile, but there always is one. Why? Because I serve a living God with whom I have relationship… and with that there is always something happening.

Why do I prefer to share a testimony a day than other things that cause sensationalism?

I find sensationalism counterproductive. Let us be honest… seeing enough mutilated animals does not promote our love for animals… it merely promotes our hate for people who act like that.

I decided that sharing a testimony a day, is a way of flooding the facebook with testimonies of people like myself, who are fallible, who are imperfect, who have fault; but who none the less can testify of Gods love and patience, grace and forgiveness and how His provision comes through daily.

My prayer is that at least one of these testimonies will make the one of other facebook friend think about whether they can have a relationship with God too, whether there might be a God after all, and perhaps even admit that Jesus might be exactly what they need in their lives. 

For those that are Christians already I pray the posts are encouraging and exhorting to their lives.

Perhaps you will join me with a similar endeavor of using your facebook to witness. If so, let me know about it… share it in the comment section… .

Let’s BE the change, by being a living testimony even in the virtual world.

God bless you!

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Helping Christians in Iraq

Relief Life banner Iraq

Hi,

I am turning to you, praying you will support this effort. The Bible is clear, that as one member of the body suffers, all suffer.

Please visit the website http://www.relieflife.org or their FB page. This organisation does the following:

Relief.Life in partnership with Samaritans Purse, as well as the Anglican Church of Iraq, will be helping the 800 000 persecuted and displaced people of Iraq through assisting with the provision of shelter and supplies. With this combined initiative we are able to respond appropriately and efficiently to the victims of Iraq.  

However we need your help.

Please get involved. Make people aware through your FB status, let your church know and let us support relief life with our finances, prayers and other involvement!

Let us demonstrate how we as Christians stand together as one, in unity, crying out to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ in prayer AND supporting with what we have, to our best abilities!

May God bless you abundantly!

Feedback from yet another mission trip

I have been part of a mission trip to Switzerland and Germany. The following is a summary and intends to encourage you to go on missions and outreaches more.

We departed from Cape Town International Airport and met for the first time as a whole team right there at the airport. Our desire was that God would knit together our hearts so that His love and unity would become evident to all though our lives and as a team. Well God has been faithful to the full extend!

We flew with Emirates Airline via Dubai to Zurich, then took a rental car and continued to Kerns, the area where we were supposed to hold the Europe Shofar Conference. (Shofar is the short form for Shofar Christian Church, which I am a member of.) God moved mightily and we all arrived in a sort of youth hostel in the midst of the European Alps. Surrounded by lush green, huge trees, mountains, meadows, rivers with icy water and cows that carry big bells around their necks.

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There we met up with Pastor Jaco from Shofar London and his team as well as the people from Switzerland. We were a very multicultural and international group and it was a miracle how God immediately knit our hearts together. I think one could rightfully claim that we instantly loved one another.

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We spent the whole weekend together, fellowshipped, did some children ministry for their accompanying children and had numerous sessions with the adults where we gave testimony of Gods goodness and the pastors shared messages with all. It was a time of exhortation and encouragement. We also went on a hike along one of those icy rivers:

P1150764 The good news: those rivers are icy cold, BUT there are no snakes, scorpions, huge spiders or thorns.

After a wonderful weekend together, we drove to Stuttgart by bus and then continued by rental car again to Gaildorf, a smallish town in the middle of fields of southern Germany.

When we crossed the border, I felt a supernatural excitement rising inside of me! I was literally running around in the bus from one team member to the next telling them the obvious – that we are in Germany now.

I have known hospitality in Germany for years… but what we encountered there was SO much more than I ever knew existed. We were welcomed with absolutely wonderful foods!

That same evening we met with the leaders for dinner and then for a praise and worship evening. It left us absolutely in awe and filled us with joy to discover how at ease we all worshipped in Spirit and in Truth. There was instant unity through the Holy Spirit and it was a wonderful night of worshiping our Lord and Saviour.

Tuesday we as a team went to a hill that looks upon the town. The initial plan was to pray for Gaildorf. We did – later – but what preceded it was even more special than any one of us had imagined. We as a team, alone, worshipped in an open field; then God would reveal to somebody some area He wanted to bring healing or deliverance to; next whoever felt that was for them lifted their hand and two others would come alongside that person and pray for him/her. It was a morning of many tears… tears that brought healing to us. The prayer for Gaildorf that followed was absolutely amazing and prophetic! How interesting, that God would take us more than 9200km and would allow us to pay so much money in South African Rand to find deliverance and healing for ourselves there on that hill.

That evening we had a repeat of what we had experienced on the hill for the congregation. We worshipped and just like on the hill, God would reveal what He desired to heal, deliver from or bring to fruitition. Many had an encounter with our loving and almighty God.

Wednesday morning half of our team travelled on to the Netherlands, while 6 of us remained with Jan as our leader to continue ministry.

Wednesday we went out with a number of congregants in smaller groups to do street evangelism. The group I was with consisted of two men, a teenage boy and myself. We went to a hostel for asylum seekers and experienced how we were invited into the home of a Muslim to pray for his sick wife and were able to establish relationships.

Wednesday night we again had a service. I was the translator of our team since we had gotten to Germany as almost no one spoke German in the team. That night my speech-centre froze to the laughter of a whole congregation as I started translating from German to German. i.e. I had translated from English or Afrikaans to German and back all the time. Now I was hearing German, in my mind the words got translated to English and when I opened my mouth out came only German. The harder I tried to get it right, the worse it got. So I took a short break after which all was fine again.

Thursday was our day off as a team. We visited Rothenburg ob der Tauber for a touristy day off. That evening we were invited to the German equivalent of a braai/barbeque.

P1150803 P1150808 P1150811  Pictures taken during our trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

I must admit… we all probably gained weight. The food was absolutely stunningly over the top amazingly “lekker”! Our hosts were the most loving and precious people and such a blessing to us!

Friday we had our last day in Gaildorf. We started by anointing the farm and the hosts where I had stayed with the other single ladies of our team! It was such a precious moment of consecration and mutual trust. God really touched their lives as a family!!!

Friday night we started the service at 19h30. At 23h30 the whole congregation was still present, and no one was prepared to leave … the Holy Spirit was ministering to us all. I have seldom experienced his presence as powerfully!

We left Saturday morning for Frankfurt, where I was privileged to meet my brother Ruben for a cup of coffee (he’s a soldier in the German army and I hadn’t seen him in more than a year!)

Our flight back was pleasant though long and our goodbyes to one another sincere.

What I take home is the sense of deep gratitude to have been privileged to be part of this mission trip, to serve, to laugh, to cry and to minister among brethren in a foreign country that is at the same time the country of my birth.

I can only encourage you to go, the next time an opportunity like this one comes around.

Please feel free to visit youtube and view our two short videos of all our action. Type in “Shofar Missions Outreach Switzerland June 2014” and “Shofar Missions Outreach Germany June 2014” .

I trust you will enjoy the videos.

Abundant blessings!

Getting the most out of your daily Bible study.

As promised earlier, here two methods of how to get the most out of your daily Bible study.

Method 1:

This method is easy and can be applied equally by children, youth, adults, students, professors and pastors. I learned it recently from a mentor and friend.

The method can be summarised in 4 simple steps:

1. Read the scripture. Re-read it. Then either write it out or paraphrase it in writing.

2. What does the scripture say? (i.e. write down, what the scripture says to you about God, about yourself, about humanity, … .)

3. What will you obey? (i.e. write down very specifically “I will …….. by ……”.)

4. Whom will you share this with? (i.e. write down very specifically “I will share …………… with…………….. by ……………” .)

Do not underestimate the impact this method will have on your reading of scripture! Specifically the 3rd and 4th point, make it a method of high impact, provided you have someone keeping you accountable to it!

Method 2:

This method takes time. It is good for intensive Bible study. (I have learned about this method in an STI seminar in Stellenbosch, South Africa and have since profited from this method a lot in my private Bible studies).

These are the basic steps that are followed:

1. prioritising the text: read the text, rather than comments of others first.

2. getting the big picture: understand the big picture, before zooming in on the details.

3. respecting the original context: the significance of the text in the ‘here & now’ is dependent on the meaning of the text in the ‘there & then’.

4. using progressing repetition: read the text repeatedly and progressively add more contextual information.

5. Interpretation: progress of elimination.

To clarify these five steps, allow me to do so on a very easy example:

1. Read the whole book of Jude (preferably without verse numbers, sub titles/headings, and as one solid text). Read it again. DO NOT READ footnotes etc.

2. Read it again and then try and categorize the text portions yourself, giving it your own outline.

3. Now read the outline on Jude in a study Bible. Then read the text again. Do you see how it changes?

4. Read the comments of a study Bible on Jude, then re-read the book of Jude again.

With all this reading you will have gained a fully new understanding of the book. You will have experienced the joy of discovering meaning behind a text and will have memorized some content of it even.

When I say this method takes time, you now probably see why. Doing this with a short book like the book of Jude is fairly easy. Doing it with the book of Acts can be somewhat time consuming. Still it is definitely worthwhile doing so!

Let me know how you are finding these methods. Feel free to post comments of your experiences on FB or here in the comment section.

May God bless you abundantly!

 

How to interpret the Bible

(the content consists partially of notes I have taken at an STI seminar in Stellenbosch, South Africa)

I have often been asked why it is that we seem to take some portions of scripture literally and others we seem to interpret. It seems random to the onlooker. However there is system and science behind it. This is a blog post that tries to describe the basics in simple words, easy to apply yourself.

There are three types of Bible translations:

1. word for word i.e. literal translations (‘formal equivalents’) [e.g. NASB, KJV, Amplified, ESV, NRSV]

2. interpretative thought for thought translations (‘dynamic equivalents’) [e.g. NIV, HCS, TEV, (NLT)]

3. paraphrased translations (a very loose translation) [e.g. LB, Message Bible]

They are not all used for the same purposes. Bible translations that fall under 1 are best used for Bible study. Bible translations that fall under 2 are used mostly for reading. Those categorized under 3 are sometimes interesting to get a new angle on matters previously read or studied in another translation but are unsuitable for Bible studies or daily Bible reading.

When studying the Bible, all text needs to undergo the same process of interpretation. (At the end of it, some will turn out to be literal, other parts may turn out to need interpretation.)

How to interpret the Bible:

A. The meaning is determined by the context.

1. list all possible meanings

2. historic + literary context eliminates impossible + improbable meanings.

Here an example of how to do that with the word “trunk”.

1. all possible meanings: car boot, suitcase, phone call, tree, elephant nose

Let’s assume it is part of a Jane Austin novel (which play in the 1800’s in England).

2. process of eliminating the impossible:

– trunk call (the phone was not invented then)

– car boot ( they still had carriages)

3. Process of eliminating the improbable:

– elephant trunk (it might be possible as India was English colony, but it is highly unlikely)

The use of the work within the sentence helps us eliminate even more options: “and she folded her clothes carefully and placed them in a trunk.”

  • eliminates the tree trunk and the elephant trunk completely.

This leaves us with only ONE meaning of trunk in this context: “suitcase”.

B. Word study

1. meanings of words change over time (they undergo a historical development)

2. meanings in the here and now might differ from their original meaning greatly

3. etymology of words can help or mislead us.

We need to look at three aspects:

1. history of the word.

2. historical context (author and audience in the original).

3. literary context.

one example: the word ‘nice’ used to mean ‘ignorant’, now it means ‘pleasant’.

If you are required to do in depth word study on a regular basis, getting a good Bible Study Software like ‘Mounces Complete Expository Dictionary of OT + NT’; e-sword software; or Olive Tree, will be a helpful starting point.

When you look at any Biblical text, it has 2 audiences:

the original audience that the author wrote to (there & then),

and the contemporary/modern audience (here & now).

We must always look at the original audience first, before we ponder over the meaning for the contemporary audience.

Any interpretation of the Bible intends to be a bridge between the “there & then” and the “here & now”.

Any good interpretation discovers the meaning and intention of the author in the text. A good interpretation tries to get information OUT OF the text. We call this ‘exegesis’.

Any bad interpretation does the opposite. It imposes the readers invention/or wanted meaning, on the text, i.e. tries to read stuff INTO the text. We call this ‘eisegesis’.

Sources of authority for interpretation are:

1. scripture itself (this is the highest authority and is the only infallible authority)

2. tradition, reason, experience (all these are important for interpretation but are fallible.

The only things that help protect you (besides the Holy Spirit guiding you) from misinterpretation are to remember that you have to

– be conscious of your traditions

– remember that reasoning has limitations

– remember that experience is always subject to interpretation and thus is prone to mistakes.

The blog posts that follow will allow you to try out two different methods of getting the most out of your daily Bible study.

May God bless you abundantly and enrich your study of His word, whilst making you vigilant not to be deceived by wrong teachers of our times.

When God says ‘yes’.

Just as there are times, when God says no, there are those miraculous times of His saying yes. Often an unexpected yes followed by a series of miracles that establish a completely new basis of trust in our relationship to our Saviour.

After receiving a determining “no” from God last year in May, I then encountered His “yes” when September came around. This post is the testimony of that “yes” that came about.

It was mid September (the 19th I think) when I received news that I would be going to South Africa to the head quarters of my congregation to take a youth and student pastor training. I had been unaware of them considering such an option and had just settled to going back to teaching for an undetermined amount of time. So my response of utter surprise was “sounds great, but what are we talking about?”

I was filled in only on the idea that I would be taking a youth pastor training as of January 2014. The few other details I received said nothing about what my training would entail, what would be required of me, how I would get around financially, etc. and it left plenty room for insecurities, frenzies of panic, an amount of reluctance and frustration.

Well, matter of fact was that after that short conversation, there seemed to be NO way of getting more information. A convergence conference was on, after that a week-long pastor’s summit. And all the people I urgently wanted to speak to were unavailable. The school I was working at, had a policy of resigning before the 1st of October. I was in the middle of my planning for a field trip that was about to leave with 18 youngsters on 29th September. That left me with 10 days of not knowing more and having to make a decision.

Sometimes God’s “yes” come in packages that challenge us to walk on water. I fasted and I prayed. And even though my heart was settled on staying a teacher right where I was, I heard God saying “yes” to the offer I had received.

I had a choice to make. Either I could stay and remain with the securities I wanted. Or I could take a leap of faith in accordance of what I had heard from God and been unable to discuss much. I did what the world would call foolish, I took the leap. The day I departed for the field trip, I handed in my formal resignation at the school. I left with a sense of relief… so now the adventure would start.

The “yes” I had heard was a definite “yes” from God. Leaders around me had the wisdom not to advise what to do, but to advise to seek God’s counsel on the decisions. i.e. they refused to do the job of the Holy Spirit; and I am still grateful for that!

None of the doors since then just stood wide open, but all were unlocked. By that I mean… every single door caused spiritual growing pains in me. Every single door required me to walk on water a bit more. And every single door brought me closer to God, to the calling on my life and formed and transformed my character to be more Christ-like.

There were moments of struggling with God, there have been moments of desperation, moments of offence with God (for, as He showed me, He placed the leaders I have in my life, so any offence I’d take through them, I actually take through God) and working through it to the place of surrender and forgiveness.

And there were moments of rejoicing, of deepest satisfaction about what I am doing, moments of awe and gratitude toward who He is and what He is busy with.

When God gives His “yes”…

  • do not expect a walk in the park.
  • first hear from GOD about matters.
  • expect growing pains.
  • expect Him to be glorified through it.
  • decide to trust.

We live in a society where we sometimes want God’s “yes” to be like a candy shop. But candy shops only produce obesity. God desires us to grow closer to Him, He desires to be glorified and He will walk alongside you on the waters.

This is the most exciting, fulfilling and rewarding adventure God has ever taken me on. Yes, I am still on that adventure. What comes after that, only He knows. It is SO worth it! When God invites you to a “yes”, then go for it – if you are willing to grow, you will not regret it!