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TO LIFE…

21 Oct

This week end was our Young Adults camp. I LOVE camps! I do. It’s a lot of preparations but it is so worth it! The kids were very excited at the idea of being ‘on camp’ for weeks now. It was not the ideal date for Young Adults (since it was 2 weeks before exams) but through a range of circumstances (I can hear my husband choking behind – it was mainly my fault…) it was the only available date and campsite. Nonetheless we had more than 50 people there. What a blessing!!

I was quite excited about this camp for two reasons:

  • First because we didn’t have one at the beginning of the year. Because Easter was so early, it would have clashed with the YA Easter Convention. So this camp was our only St James Young Adult camp of the year.
  •  Secondly because the theme was the work of God’s life-giving Spirit. From Death to Life. With four talks, and four chosen passages from Ezekiel, 2 Timothy, Isaiah and Acts, we explored the role of the Holy Spirit in God’s magnificent plan to deal with the consequences of man’s rebellion and once again bring life to those whom he had created in his image. 

Phillip handled the four talks and it has been an immense privilege to be given this opportunity. We can never out-give God and the crumbs that we think we give Him (by doing ministry or ministry-related things) undoubtedly come back to us (with growth and maturity in our faith and understanding of our Lord Jesus). Preparing for these talks has been for Phillip a personal growth in the knowledge of God and his Spirit.

 

 
   

 

· First talk – Ezekiel 37: God gives life to a world dead under his judgement by his Spirit through his word. Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones will run shudders through your back but gives us great hope in a God that wants to give us Life.

· Second talk – 2 Timothy 3: This word comes to us through the “God-Spirited” Scriptures and points to Jesus as the destroyer of death and bringer of life and immortality.

· Third talk – Isaiah 53 & 61: Jesus, God’s faithful, Spirit anointed servant, destroys death through his death in our place.

· Fourth talk – Acts 2: The risen and ascended Jesus is King in heaven and pours out God’s Spirit on all believers to give them life, obedience and the gift to speak God’s words of life to a world dead under God’s judgement.

This week end, God has given us a vision. We live in the valley of dry bones. We’ve been challenged to prophesy, like Ezekiel, to the “dry bones” and proclaim that Jesus IS the King. Without the Spirit’s work, there will be no Life .

This is the hall where we walked diligently for the sessions, and meals and everything else.

Each session had either a time of prayer, or an interview helping us to get to know someone new. Adam led a session where we prayed around different issues like Zimbabwe (with beforehand a brief but very neat explanation of what is happening there at the moment by ‘the most patriotic Zimbabwean girl you’ll ever meet’ – by her own words, sweet Jessica 🙂 ), our church, Young Adults ministry… Dave led a session and interviewed freshly-married-youth leader-Julia  and I led a session and interviewed short-time-memory-issue-Nico. It was nice to have other people involved in the ‘making’ of a session.

In between Phil’s talks, Sean managed the Bible Unwrapped. It’s a workshop where we take a tricky passage from the Bible, or a passage that is often misunderstood and misinterpreted. We break into small groups and we work at it and try to unpack its meaning. It’s always so helpful and useful for me as it really equips me to understand the Bible for myself. I’m often lazy at that, usually waiting for Phillip to explain things to me (when you have a teacher at home, why would you want to make the hard work yourself 🙂 ) So this kind of workshop challenges me to think for myself. We looked at John 16 when Jesus prepares his disciples for His death and tells them that the Spirit will come after He leaves. 

Sean unwrapping John 16.

That’s an example of the small groups (although I think the study time was finished seeing that Bibles are closed… Leon!!!!) with Mark, Leon, Dave, John D, Evan and half of Murray!

Those small groups were not the only time of discussions. I made sure I intruded on many other talk-time with my disruptive camera…

Trav’ and Simon

Kirsty, Gillian and Nikky,

Spending time together with God’s people is also synonym with fun and laughter… Just good fellowship!

Nicola, Chantall, Caryn and Megan (Is that right?)

Kim and (louuuuuuuud) Candice,

Adam, Trav’, Dave and Sean 

Sorry for the red eyes, Sean… I could edit but it just takes extra time!

Enough of Kim now!! Does he ever stop, Julia??

Well, too many people to name names…

Two of our very talented musicians, Randall and Ryan with two of our guests, Nic and Kyle.

And Jess and John D

Murray and Grant (you always look so tired, Grant! What’s up with you!!)

Some of the girls, posing on a plank…

And Kim AGAIN and Cathy (hope your foot is better now…)

On Saturday afternoon, we had lots of free time and most of us went to the beach. We (as in Phillip and my kids, with Sean and Kirsty and her kids) went to Onrus beach. Going to the beach with kids is a completely different experience than without kids. You can’t lie down or you lose your kids (they either drowned or got lost or have been kidnapped) which, after you’ve been covered with sand, found wet suits lying on your bag, realised that the last clean nappy is now being used as a bathing suit and noticed that the cookie you’ve had your eyes upon is now crushed half on your towel, half on your clothes, well after all that, if they don’t drown by accident, I would easily drown them myself. Nonetheless, they had a good time!

Stella and my middle K,

My most gorgeous baby… Isn’t he gorgeous?

Last but oh so not the least is the music. We are immensely privileged to have top-notch musicians and singers in our Young Adults. I thank you very much guys for using this God-given gift of music. Not only the songs chosen are powerful and give us focus into the talks but you certainly bring out the emotional side of it with such talent!! 

Well done to Randall and Ryan for the bass and drums, Nicole and Candice for the vocals, Kirstin with the clarinette and our very very talented Steven 🙂 for the guitar and vocals and much more than that…

Preparing the laptop for the words ( I think…)

And voila!!!

Thank you to all for such a great week end. I hope that it’s been as good for you as it was for us!!! Start booking NOW for the next one: end of February, same place, (some of the) same people, and more!!!

🙂

I BELIEVE IN TULIPS!

6 Oct

Last week end we had our close friends Craig and Kerry over for dinner. As always it’s a good treat, especially for Phillip who never gets to see Craig (since they moved last year living now 40 minutes away from my house). I get to see Kerry regularly at the rugby so I’m not deprived as much! 

But Kerry taught me something I didn’t know ( ah! ah!). She taught me that I believe in tulip(s). Or shall I say TULIP (it is an acronym). I know what I believe in, I know what my faith is about, but this makes it maybe academic but still interesting to remember. (I do realise it might be a bit boring for some of you but at least for my own benefit, I will write it down).

There are two mains camps of theology within Christianity: Arminianism and Calvinism. Calvinism was taught by John Calvin. (And Calvin was french!!!) at the time of Martin Luther ( if you haven’t seen the movie Luther, it is soooo worth it, it even remains fairly true to the true story!) 

TULIP defines the main 5 points of Calvinism:

Total Depravity 
Unconditional Election 
Limited Atonement 
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints 

      

      Total Depravity: 

Sin has affected every part of our being: our heart, emotions, mind and body. We’re not as sinful as we could be but we are completely affected by sin.

One question arises: “In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God?” The answer is, “He cannot. Therefore God must predestine.” 

      Unconditional Election:

God does not choose us based on anything that we could have done, or will do, He chose us before the Creation of time, according to ‘the kind attention of His will”. His election is not based on anything that He sees in us.

Limited Atonement:

Jesus died for the sins of everybody. His death was sufficient for everybody. However, it was only efficient for the elect.

Irresistible Grace:

When God calls his elect, they cannot resist His call. The Gospel message is for everyone (external call) but to His elect, the Holy Spirit extends an internal call that cannot be resisted. The Holy Spirit works in the hearts and mind of the elect and brings them to repentance and faith.

      Perseverance of the Saints: 

     You cannot lose your salvation. It’s the same as ‘once saved, always saved’. The elect is eternally secure in Christ.

Writing down these 5 main points of what I believe in has been a wonderful exercise for me. The last one, in particular, is such an encouragement. Knowing that God promises to never let me be tempted beyond what I can handle is a good reminder that even when I don’t ‘feel’ christian, when I do shout at my kids, or when my heart is filled with hatred, God is the one being faithful to perfect me until the day of Jesus’ return.

And to this, I say Thank You Lord…

GOSPEL CABARET

3 Oct

ATTENTION TO ALL!!

The famous Gospel Cabaret of St James – 10th Anniversary! – is happening on the 24th and 25th of October. It’s a great ‘happening’ to bring friends along. You will hear some very talented people that love singing the praises of our Lord. Every time that we went, we’ve never been disappointed. It’s amazing all those hidden talents!

If you are interested in coming, and in case you can’t read the pamphlet, you must phone the St James office at 021 – 671 7070. They will give you all the extra info you need.

CRY OUT TO JESUS

22 Sep

Yesterday was the conclusion of our evangelistic week at St James. At the evening service, our YA band played. It’s always such a pleasure. From the choice of the songs to the way they sing them, everything is great. Steven did an item and borrowed a song from the band Third Day called Cry out to Jesus. The words couldn’t be more relevant to, well anyone really. It’s relevant to anyone. I thought I would copy and paste the words.

Cry Out to Jesus

To everyone who’s lost someone they loved
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there’s nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He’ll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

For the marriage that’s struggling just to hang on
They lost all of their faith in love
They’ve done all they can to make it right again
Still it’s not enough

For the ones who can’t break the addictions and chains
You try to give up but you come back again
Just remember that you’re not alone in your shame
And your suffering

When you’re lonely
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you
You just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus
Cry to Jesus

To the widow who struggles with being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight

SHAME ON YOU

19 Sep

I’m reading this book at the moment by John Piper called Battling Unbelief. Like any books by John (yeah, him and I, we’re first-name connection), it’s always interesting, challenging and straight to the point. It’s not like I’ve read hundreds of his books – in fact very few – but the little bit I read, I enjoyed.

I heard of this book through a friend of mine who bought it and as I read the back cover, I got intrigued. It explained how to cut the roots of sins that capture us: like anxiety, pride, shame, impatience…wait wait wait. Did I read ‘shame’ ? I would never have put shame as a sin. So even though it was not the order of the book, I dared start at that chapter. Besides, a friend of mine also found it interesting to see ‘shame’ mentioned as a sin. For my own benefit – and maybe to hers, if she reads the post – I’d like to summarize what dear John said. 

We find two kind of shame: well-placed shame and misplaced shame.

  • A misplaced shame is when we feel shame for something that we shouldn’t. For example, something we did or said did not dishonor God, or if it did, we were not responsible for it. There is really no place for shame here, according to biblical standard.
  • A well-placed shame is when we should feel shameful because we brought dishonor to the name of God by our actions or attitudes.

John Piper is making the point that if we want to fight shame at the root, we need to see how it relates to God. Nowadays, a lot of our emotional wellbeing or illbeing is somehow defined by the media, telling us when to feel good about ourselves and when to feel ashamed. If we call ourselves Christians, we need to have a biblical understanding and thinking of those emotions.

We know that as Christians, we cannot be ashamed of Jesus. We cannot be ashamed of his words, or He will be ashamed of us. There is nothing shameful to stand firm on ‘no-premarital sex’, on ‘love your ennemies’ or on ‘give to the needy in secret’. We cannot look to men to define shameful actions, but only to God and the honour of His name. Like Piper says, the ‘criterion for what is well-placed shame and what is misplaced shame is not how foolish or how bad you look to men, but whether you in fact bring honor to God’.

Once we understand the difference between well-placed and misplaced shame, then we can move on. If our actions are  not dishonoring to God, let us not be shameful in the eyes of men when it is not in the eyes of God!

However, when our christian eyes are opened to evil actions that brought dishonor to God, it is right to feel ashamed. There is an appropriate painful feeling of shame because we have disrespected our loving God. Some people struggle with a paralysing emotion, a feeling that will not let them accept the forgiveness of God. Although it is right to feel the shame, it is not right for it to stay there. Piper says that the answer is to ‘battle it at the root – by battling the unbelief that feeds its life”. If this feeling of shame remains and lingers, it is because of a lack of faith in the promises of God. Jesus said to the repentant sinner “Your sins are forgiven”, “Your faith has saved you”. In Christ, we are forgiven and free: free from sin and shame!

I know I did many many (many!) shameful things in my younger years, not knowing Jesus. What a priviledge, what a relief, what a gift to know that I’ve been forgiven and that I don’t have to carry the burden of that shame anymore. What a God we serve…

E-DINNERS

18 Sep

…if you haven’t, it’s too late!! 

This week is the week of evangelism at our church. That means that we (by ‘we’ I mean St James) invited a guest preacher for sunday past, for various events during the week and for sunday coming. This term, our guest preacher was Michael Green. He is a gifted evangelist, coming all the way from England with his wife, Rosemary.

One of the main events of the week of evangelism were our E-dinners. E in E-dinner doesn’t stand for electronic (on the web) and the dinner we got served was real! E actually stands for evangelism (not too far fetched!!) and those dinners give you an opportunity to invite your unbelieving friends or family to a non-threatening event where a short presentation of the Gospel is done. Even though it’s still happening in the church building, the deco is always superb and non-religious. You would think that I would have taken some pictures but no! I did have my camera with me but that was as far as I could plan!

 Two evenings were organised for those dinners, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. We, as Young Adults, were encouraged to come on the wednesday evening which replaced our mid-week Bible Study. I was very encouraged to see that quite a few of our Young Adults did have the guts to invite some of their non-christian friends. We all have been in prayer for this outreach and many of us were anxious at the response we’d get from our unbeliever friends. It can be so disappointing when at the last minute, the invited person doesn’t pitch or has an excuse for not coming…

For myself, I had been very much in prayer as I had planned to invit a colleague of mine. I do not know him very much but we get along well. I plucked up the courage to invite him and a friend of his (which later turned out that he couldn’t make it, so he brought his sister) and he accepted to come. I’m not too sure if he understood that it was an evangelistic dinner, even though I did make the point. Nonetheless, the evening went very well and it was really nice to get to know him outside of my work environment, instead of between two classes or between end of term reports. It was also important for me to introduce him to my husband so that Phil can actually put a face on the name.

Well, Michael Green preached the Gospel, the wonderful news of Jesus and his invitation, free and for all, to follow him. My colleague and his sister heard the message. The rest is really up to God. I pray that what they heard will reach their head and convict their heart. On each table, we were given a card on which to write what we thought of the evening and whether we wanted to respond to the invitation to follow Jesus. I know what I wrote on my card but I would have liked to be a little mouse and see what they wrote on theirs.

Young Adult Easter Convention…

31 Mar

If you are a Young Adult, you’ll know that April rhymes with YA Easter Convention!
This year however, March rhymed with YA Easter Convention, Easter being early and all… In fact, neither April nor March rhymes with ‘convention’ but in our mind, it does!!!
So for many of us, from Friday the 21st until Monday the 24th of March, young people from the Western Cape met in the amazing campsite of Rocklands. What a better place to start the week-end by just being reminded of what an artist God is!! The view is quite stunning.
We were also spoiled with two great speakers, the one is Justin Mote from England and the second is Gary Rohm from Table View.
Gary gave some talks on 1 Peter and encouraged us to stand firm in a world that doesn’t like followers of Christ.
Justin opened the book of Acts. It was such an encouragement to see how the Gospel moved to the end of the earth.
Going through Acts 9 with Saul’s conversion, it was interesting to see how God uses Saul’s persecution of the church and turns it into Saul’s conversion to eventually Saul’s commission – now called Paul – to go into that same town,Jerusalem for work of evangelism!! God has a certain sense of humour!!
It is a great encouragement for us, when we feel that we are just not worthy of our salvation, to see that even the worst of sinners (as Paul calls himself) has been changed by God as an example of mercy.

We also had a chilling session of Acts 10 and 11.
KILL AND EAT!!
The vision of Peter explained! The Gospel is for ALL of us, Jews and Gentiles! How grateful must we be that we’ve been included! I was very challenged about the warning not to be prejudiced against, race, nationality, culture…or anything that is somehow remoted from us.

Another challenging session for me was one where we were reminded of how persecution is often a good thing for the church. In the time of Acts, the Gospel spread because of persecution. God does promise us that our sufferings here are not in vain but for our good – meaning our godliness. Do we live our lives in that light, knowing that our suffering might actually be beneficial to us, and ultimately to the church?

All in all, it was a great conference,of which I can only write a few extracts.
If you would like to write the striking bits you heard or the challenging talks you’ve attended or just share the good pictures you took, please contact me!!! I would love to add them here!
But enough of writing, here are some pics!

These are our 2 speakers. Justin with big gestures, and Gary, deep in the Bible…

We had some questions and answers’ sessions, with both of them. They did a remarkable job at answering on the dot questions that would take me hours of prep!!!

We obviously had some singing time before the sessions. Allen is fantastic to get the crowd in the right mood, to sing with conviction about what we sing. We sang songs in different langages, english, Xhosa and Afrikaans (nothing in french though…). The afrikaans one was one of the most beautiful ones!!

This was some Xhosa singing, with the famous groove that the african way adds to the singing!! With Craig, the second most famous white zulu, awesome!!

We also had some interviews. Those are two guys from Kayelitsha…

The convention was also characterised by lots of praying time. After some of the sessions, we broke into predetermined groups and chatted about what challenged us, and prayed about it. It was also a nice way to meet some people that we wouldn’t have met otherwise.

There was also some tennis table playing…

…and some very noisy eating sessions!!

And always lots of time for fun and fellowship…

I can’t wait for next year!!

And then he sang…

13 Mar


This is our After 8 room, it does need some improvement but on a night with quality music, a few candles were enough to give it a certain je-ne-sais-quoi.

And then he sang…
Not much to say in this post. It’s about beautiful songs that were performed just for us at After 8.
Derek is leaving beginning of April to England for a year. We wish you all the best there, but really hoping you’ll come back.
Here are a few shots (quite blurred) of the night.

Steven accompanied Derek for a song or two, another (very) talented musician. Steven is actually helping Derek to put into place his debut album. It should be quite good. A launch is planned somewhere end of March.

The congratulations of the fans at the end of the show…


…and the real life of an artist, packing up everything!!

Till next time…

Sowing and reaping fruit – not a post on gardening…

25 Feb

When I think of resentment, bitterness, hurt feelings… I tend to think of an old woman that has been left by her husband with her 2 kids to raise on her own.
An old woman that has never had the courage – or trust – to forgive the pig, sorry I mean the husband.
An old woman who is now living with all these feelings that she has cherished over time.
But is this a realistic picture? Am I too young, or too carefree to be filled with resentment, bitterness or anger. Are those feelings really directed towards the person that has hurt me or towards a God that I struggle to trust to take care of me?

I must say that yesterday morning service challenged me. And not only the sermon, but also the prayer that Graham led.
To pray for the people that feel overwhelmed with life, people that feel they have been wronged, people that think that life isn’t fair, people that often blame others for their problems instead of examining themselves… well, to pray for all those people, I’m afraid includes most people. I don’t know about you, but it definitely includes me. Do I not feel resentful towards my husband when my desires haven’t been met? Do i not get angry when the people in my life don’t meet my expectations? Then what happens to those feelings? I have a feeling (another one!) that they don’t breed righteousness, godliness and Christ-likeness.

After the prayer came Ross who preached about sowing to the sinful nature and reaping, funny enough, the fruit of the sinful nature. Although immediately in my mind I think that I’m off the hook, it left no doubt as to the end result of those seemingly small and justified emotions that haven’t been dealt with.
It’s easy to think that because I don’t cheat on my husband, because I don’t steal in the shop, because I’m honest even to the point of pointing out to the cashier that she forgot to scan one article, and because I’m dedicated not only to my children, but also committed to my help my friends, then I’m not sowing to the sinful nature.
These are sure signs that I’m sowing to the Spirit. And yes it is! But what about those feelings mentioned earlier?

Can the sowing to the Spirit in most areas of my life erase the sowing to the sinful nature in those much less obvious other areas? Those safely guarded in my heart, hidden from everybody – sometimes even hidden from myself? How easy it is to deceive ourselves! How easy it is to justify a deserved anger, a reasoned resentment or an inevitable bitterness!
Do I not sow to the sinful nature when I nurture my grudges? What kind of consequences in my life can I expect if I cling to my disappointments and refuse to let go? How will I treat my family if I’m angry with them for what they did in the past? As Ross said, if I sow resentment, I will surely not reap love and happiness.

What then gets in the way of a forgiving heart, even when I have been wronged? My trust in God gets damaged every time I am hurt by someone. People often say ‘you must just trust God’ and although I understand the meaning of the sentence (even though I’m french!), it’s harder to understand the application of it.
But on Sunday, I was reminded once again that I must trust God, even when I have been wronged, even when I just want to go and tell the person that hurt me exactly what I think.
Trusting God means that I can let go of those feelings and not be worse off. I can trust God for my ’emotional’ well being.
Trusting God means that my heavenly Father knows that by not seeking to be proven right, by not demanding justice be done, I will be better off because I will have grown into godliness, I will have sown to please the Spirit and I will reap fruit of the Spirit, Christ-likeness, and ultimately eternal life!!
Pfew, what a journey!
I’ll finish with this verse from Galatians 6 (this whole chapter is just very ‘loud and clear’) but verse 7 is frightening (if we look at ourselves,and not if we are hoping that the-friend-that-hurt-you-so-badly is reading it!)
‘Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows’.
Obvious sowing, and less obvious sowing.
Happy gardening!!

Hidden talent…

15 Feb

This is a short post for good news.
Derek, our Derek – let’s claim him before the world does! – should and will perform for us, in our own church on Sunday the 24th of February at After 8.
Derek describes his music as mellow and acoustic. If you go on his website at http://www.myspace.com/derekleisegang you can listen to 2 of his songs, Greenpeace and Set me sailing. There is some beautiful hidden talent in our YA.
Make it a date in your busy social schedule to stay at After 8 in two Sunday time!
You will see that I also added a link to his website. Go check it out and enjoy the melodies…
Now I would love to add some kind of link that would play the music but my knowledge of these things is very limited. Please someone help me!!

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