31 January 2016
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
Mark 16:15-16 (ESV)
launch: Perth is a summer mission trip run by Student Life, a Christian organisation on university campuses in Australia and around the world which seeks to give every student the opportunity to experience Jesus. This summer I will be travelling to Perth with a group of other students to help launch Student Life on university campuses in Perth.
The story of how I ended up going on this mission trip is all God’s doing. Due to work commitments I couldn’t go on outreach to schoolies last year. But God provided so that my boss approved time off for me to go to Perth in February, and He made it all line up perfectly with travel plans I made a year in advance!
That being said I don’t necessarily feel ready or the best person to be sharing my faith with others. I have many broken aspects of my life and struggles in my walk with God. I think I always will. But God has also given me many strengths, and I know that He will use me in Perth. I have Him by my side.
The project will involve living together in community, visiting Orientation Days and key events at Perth universities, and following up contacts we make (with Christian and non-Christian students) during this time. The aim is to launch and support the Student Life movement as the missionary team arrives, who will continue to work in Perth for the whole year.
I want to thank those of you who faithfully pray for Student Life. I would also like to ask for your support in prayer for the following:
• Pray for the leaders of the mission trip, who still need to do a lot of planning in preparation of the trip
• Pray that we will not be ‘safe’ in Perth, in the sense that we will be exposed to God and exposing God to those around us.
• Pray for our financial support raising, that God will provide for our needs.
• Most importantly, pray that God will prepare the hearts of those He wants us to meet in Perth for His glory.
- Corneels de Waard: Perth Mission Trip (20 Feb. – 5 Mar. 2016)
22 November 2015
The cartoonist for Charlie Hebdo retaliated kind-for-kind: an atheistic message versus an act of horror with the devastating attacks on Paris last Friday. What is the Christian comeback when evil is placed at the door of religion?
For more than two centuries Wahhabism has been Saudi Arabia’s dominant faith. It is an austere form of Islam that call on a complete rejection and destruction of anything and everything that is not based on the original teachings of Muhammad. In 1970 Saudi charities started funding Wahhabi mosques and schools. Osama bin Laden and the Taliban are products of this movement. A believer of Islam doesn’t have a guarantee of eternal life. It is up to Allah on the Day of Judgment whether he will have mercy or not. There are only two ways to be absolutely sure of paradise and that is dying in Mecca during a pilgrimage or in battle for the cause of Allah, a holy war.
In a month we are celebrating Christmas, when Jesus came to the world making his love visible. The angels sang over him, “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men on whom his favour rests.” This child who meant “great joy for all people”. This child, this son who was sacrificed by God who so loved the world that he gave him up so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
• Pray for Paris, pray for France that in this time of mourning they will find God who is not hard to find, who is so close to them (Acts 17:27);
• Pray for the jihadists who believe the lie, who don’t know that Jesus was the sacrifice, who has already given his life so that our lives could be spared;
• Pray for the world who is entering this time of Christmas, that “Joy to the World” will become a hymn that will be on everyone’s lips.
Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.
15 November 2015
One can read a teenager's mood from hearing the song he listens to. Thump thump for joy, in fear, or seething with rage. Soothing songs spell "all is well". Man is fickle and with our emotions our music changes.
The Psalms, as well as the songs we sing in church, state God's unchanging truthfulness, His compassion and prophetically His salvation! The book of Psalms as the hymn book of the Bible gives us the words to sing to God. It provides laments to read in pain and in angry times. So often we are mixed up in sadness and anger. Our songs inspire us to worship with praise and to use musical instruments to express our hearts in response to God's presence in our lives. The word "Hallelujah" invites us: Let's praise The LORD!
- thanks to God for His steadfast love (chesed) that gives us confidence in praying to Him
- thanks to God for His Word and the songs we have to strengthen our faith in Him
- thank Him for our worship teams and their families for their faithfulness; for all the hours given in practice; for their prayers for our congregation: to wait on God to choose the songs for a service
- pray for more of us to respond to God's call to join the teams for leading in praise and serve at the sound booth
- ask the LORD "[...] to give the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;that [we] may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD,that HE may be glorified." - Isaiah 61:3 (ESV)
8 November 2015
How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to Your word.
“For four years I have struggled with the concept of doing my Profession of Faith or being baptised again as a sign and commitment of my faith in Jesus,” Mareli Muller says honestly, moments after she has professed her faith before the congregation. “ I see how easy it is to make a verbal promise and then get entangled in life and forget about it. I wondered that if there was a more symbolic ritual around this, it would mean more to me, make me feel more serious about the commitment I’ve made?”
She is voicing a problem that many young people struggle with, especially as friends from Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches undergo their Believer’s Baptism. And so the question arises why are we baptised as babies? What does the covenant God has made with us really mean? What does accountability mean? Do we need that ritual because we struggle with the fact that “He has chosen us first”, that we become aware of grace and all we have to do is to just accept this? Do we hate the fact that we are beggars giving nothing else in return?
Mareli goes back to her example that she gave in church when she professed her journey of grace. She alluded to us being covered in grease and Jesus cleaning us with His blood, the soap that leaves us sparkling new. “When we get the soap from Jesus, he washes us clean and then we can share the soap with others. We can do better, we can wash their feet.” If we do this daily, we are daily reminded of our baptism and the covenant that we stand in with God, our Father, who first chose us, before we could reach out to Him.”
Retha Muller, another young person professing her faith, says, “Professing my faith has been a big step for me. By doing it I could publicly show my gratitude to God, but also ask the church to hold me accountable for my actions.”
Leilah Small says that to stand up in church, in front of the congregation, and profess her faith publicly, has been reassuring. “God is always with me. He has a plan. I am part of that plan.”
And now the congregation has heard and the congregation becomes part of the bigger Plan – to pray for our young people who face so many temptations and hurdles.
1 November 2015
What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.
“My mother had glaucoma and of all the children, I am the only one who inherited that gene,” Jill van der Kley says. “And there are so many things I like doing with my eyes – I love reading, I belong to a Book Club!” She gives me all her quilting magazines, because she will not be able to quilt anymore. Gardening! She is house proud and has a lovely restful home and garden.
What a year it has been, she says. They had renovations lined up. A friend would do it. A week before Jill went in for her eye operations that would alleviate some of the pressure behind the eye and remove some cataracts, her daughter-in-law got a diagnosis of breast cancer and had to go for a mastectomy. In the meantime, subcontractors were happily covering the house in layers of dust with grinders and chain saws.
In Jill’s case, the chances were 99% that the operation would be successful. It turned out that Jill was in the 1% bracket. Like a modern-day Job, things kept on piling up. The pressure behind the eye built up to dangerous levels and she went back and had another operation. That wasn’t successful and she had a third one. Every time the pressure did more nerve damage and reduced her eye sight.
Kim, her daughter-in-law, is undergoing chemotherapy every three weeks.
• Healing for Jill and Kim;
• Pray for Phil and for Nic and their two children who are supporting their loved ones;
• Peace of mind;
• Patience, so she can accept the rate her body is responding;
• Not to waste the suffering, but gain meaning out of difficult times.
25 October 2015
Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.
In our congregation we are blessed by having a representative of almost every age group – from Aunty Audrey in her nineties to babies in diapers. That means we are a healthy congregation. To be a balanced group of people, we need the input and the wisdom from old and young.
But we are not to forget that with a “crown of splendour”, comes certain challenges. Have we become too busy to notice our older people? Do we notice that they are becoming frail, that it could be nice to escort them up the hill to the gate of the retirement village? Do we realise that they have lost a lot of their peer group and that they might be lonely?
I have spoken to Aunty Joy, Aunty Audrey and Uncle Tony (Schokker) about this time of their lives and how they experience it. I have also asked for prayer points, so that even if we couldn’t offer them anything else, we can pray for them. This is what they said:
• Pray that we can remain independent for as long as possible. That we don’t have to go into a nursing home.
• Pray against the loneliness. Sundays are sometimes the worst days.
• Because most of our peers have died, I miss having a coffee and a chat with a friend. It is hard to start a new friendship at this age. Pray for new friends who would be willing to step into that void.
• Please pray for our health. Setbacks take a long time to improve.
18 October 2015
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!
It is the month of October! Time again for the beauty of our tradition of gratitude, we remember all we've received during the past year. Gratitude takes time to recall goodness. It is something one knows, the act of being aware of what has been done for me. The overcoming of forgetting, memory, is a form of awareness; it is attention paid; it is faithfulness.
Faithfully we want to give thought of what we have and who we are. We acknowledge that we are saved by what God did for us through the atoning work of His Son, Jesus Christ. We are being sanctified through what God is doing in us through the work of His Holy Spirit. Then there is God's gift of trust - faith! And there are all the daily blessings - every morning anew!
Gratitude responds with giving thanks. It is our loving response to God's grace - unexpected, unmerited, overflowing, abundant, always enough!
11 October 2015
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.
This year our church is God willing sending volunteers to be involved with Red Frogs chaplaincy during Schoolies week (20th-28th November) at the Gold Coast.
The Red Frogs Chaplaincy Network is a not for profit organisation founded by Citipointe Church in 1997 with the goal of helping young people during the Schoolies celebrations period in alcohol fuelled situations where their decisions during this time could have a lasting impact on their future. Since its foundation with 4 volunteers, Red Frogs has grown to 1700 volunteers who each year run high school education, universities, Schoolies, Festival, Sports and Boardriders programs Australia-wide.
Amongst other supporters, Red Frogs is also funded by the Queensland Government. Each year Red Frogs present a pre-Schoolies seminar in schools in the weeks leading up to Schoolies week (42,000 Year 12 students benefited from this program in 2014), educating the graduating students on: personal safety, drugs/substance awareness, decision making/party culture and looking after your mates, to name a few topics.
To provide you with a few stats: during Schoolies celebrations, over 1500 Red Frogs offer direct relief to over 75,000 school-leavers, receiving more than 11,000 calls to their 24hr Red Frogs Hotline. They provide over 3,000 walk homes, cook 50 000 pancakes, distribute 4.5 tonne of Allen’s Red Frogs lollies, and provide positive live entertainment on stages in 5 locations across Australia.
Please pray for
• Those from our church as well as our sister Reformed churches who are prayerfully considering volunteering at Red Frogs this year.
• The pre-Schoolies information seminar held in schools in the lead-up to Schoolies.
• The practical (financial, material, logistics) preparations going into Red Frogs at Schoolies 2015.
• Good relationships between Red Frogs and the local community, as well as between the Red Frogs volunteers and the school-leavers.
13 September 2015
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.
Our thoughts are with the Boshoff family after Henning’s mum suddenly passed away, the Van Driel family who received unexpected news of the passing away of Renthia's mum, and with Desirée of her stepsister.
How should we love those who have lost loved ones? How can we help? What can we do for each other when my fellow brother or sister is aching? Personality seems to play a role when it comes to grieving. Some of us bury our grief deep inside ourselves, needing personal space to come to terms with the pain. Others need people around them to keep them grounded. We may differ in carrying our hurt, but whoever experiences loss, somehow needs to be held - in the language which spells care and comfort to the soul in distress. So let's find the words, the touch, the time to give one another! And although someone might look fine and composed, let's reach out in prayer to a tearful heart.
• Holy Spirit, our Counsellor, our Comforter, please heal the broken heart of all those people who mourn, who grieve for that special person who is no longer around to share our lives with, who will no longer be there to celebrate special days with, who is no longer the recipient of a telephone conversation.
• Jesus, the Ultimate Healer and Binder of Wounds, enable everyone who has to learn to continue life without that special person.
• Father, our Creator, help us to let go of regrets and painful memories, help us to forgive.
6 September 2015
This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.
Cambridge Dictionaries Online define a pilgrim as a person who makes a journey, often a long and difficult one, to a special place for religious reasons.
Abraham was probably the first Biblical pilgrim, leaving his country to go to a special place for religious reasons.
Jesus and his family undertook the long and arduous 147 km from Nazareth to Jerusalem to worship at the temple, like so many pilgrims before Him.
The word pilgrim in the Bible is often translated with the word ‘stranger’, ‘alien’, ‘sojourner’ (1 Peter 2:11).
We are all pilgrims. We are all strangers and aliens in this world. We don’t conform to what is around us - making it a difficult journey – because we are going to this special place that Jesus has prepared for us.
So what prompted me to walk the 151 km of The Way to the city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain? Do I believe that the bones of the apostle James are buried there? No. Do I believe that I can atone for my sins by getting blisters on my feet? No.
Life is busy. There is a constant hustle and bustle. There are constant needs that have to be met. The idea that for a time I can just walk, putting my one foot in front of the other, being acutely aware that I am on a journey and waking up in a different bed every morning, enjoy walking on a road that millions of people have traversed over centuries, meditating on what it means to be God’s child, being and feeling in the presence of the tribune God, pondering on countless blessings, living the simple live, appeals to me.
A journey has a beginning and it has an end. It has obstacles, it is physical, it is painful, but is also exhilarating, exciting, challenging, meaningful.
My prayer request is in the words of the Pilgrimage Song (Psalm 121):
- Please pray that God will watch over me; may He be my shade at my right hand. That the sun will not harm me by day or the moon by night.
- Please pray that the LORD keep me from all harm and that He watches over my life; may the LORD watch over my coming and my going, both now and forevermore.
30 August 2015
“Then you will call, and the LORD will answer, you will cry for help, and He will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, […]"
In pointing one can praise or judge. About the latter we learn that the same measurement I apply, that will be used for me. To judge wrongly we are forfeiting blessing.
Today is about blessings and praise! Gratitude follows awareness; to say thanks one needs to see reasons for praise. Over many years at Mansfield a prayer in song became true for me: Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, […].
For nine years, since our first Sunday on Australian soil, our family of five were privileged to find a much needed home of Christian faith at Mansfield’s Reformed Church. It is one of eight Reformed Church congregations in Queensland. (I thought till recently there were hundreds over Australia. Not so.)
I always listen eagerly when hearing Keith and Maureen Moerman tell about the history of our church, that started off as a group of Dutch families who met in the school down the road on Sundays. Later the land was purchased and they built this church, with the fun of fellowship and fundraisers in between. Always, in preaching and teaching, God’s Word was kept right where it belongs: in the center.
We believe God chose the ministers we had since the day of institution, 30 August 1980: Rev Van Schie, Rev Stok (his family the first to live in the manse), and Rev Cabrera. Then came Rev Adrian de Bruyn and his wife Jan, who visit us sometimes on Sundays or with church events, still friends to some of our families here.
And then arrived two men who shine like stars in God’s firmament of faithfulness over Mansfield: Dr Johann Eloff (sr) and Gerhard (Obee). We witness it as they seek to follow God’s will in ministering to us, and for that purpose they search for guidance in His Word.
God’s Word was also brought to us at Lighthouse, our youth service for years, through KJ, Ettiene de Wilzem, Niel Joubert in training, Ruth and Minandi, as well as now and then a visiting preacher, who were in the past ministers at Nerang or from Inala or Redlands.
We are privileged to be the chosen receivers of this gift of grace – clear preaching of God’s Living Word, and faithful to the Reformed tradition. To be reminded, often: it is all by faith alone in Christ alone. For God’s glory!
Let’s pray Philippians 2:14-16 for our two pastors and their families, our elders and deacons by name, all our ministries, for each other, for our children, for friends and families who attended here at Mansfield with us in the past, for generations of believers to come, and for the world wide Church, now:
“Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation’. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.”
For His covenant love to us, let's praise God in the words of Psalm 150, extolling:
Let everything that breathes praise the LORD!
Rita de Waard
23 August 2015
What does Russia and Mansfield have in common? A lot! Three of Mansfield’s church family have first-hand experience of living in both the Mansfield CRC catchment area and in either Russia or the Old Russian Federation, namely in Kazakhstan. Eugene Strydom has just arrived at a copper mine in this former part of the USSR to start a two-year contract. Another Mansfielder, John Davel, has spent 6 months in Siberia on a mine which is a 3 hr flight and 4 hr drive from the city of Irkutsk. He was also in Eastern Russia, a 7 hr drive from a town called Magadan. And 4 years ago Ben Berg also did a stint in Kazakhstan where temperatures in winter can drop between – 10 and - 50° C.
Thanksgiving and prayer requests go hand-in-hand. Thanksgiving for a job, thanksgiving for a new appreciation of so many things we take for granted living in Australia, like the beauty of nature around us, trees, birds, flowers, our beautiful turquoise ocean. Also the ease of having people around us speaking the same language. John remembers a time when he drove for 7 hours with several people where he didn’t say a word because no one could understand English. “I was sitting in this taxi in eastern Russia, seeing a brown bear in the middle of the road, thinking to myself, ‘What am I doing here?’”
Felicity Strydom, Eugene’s wife adds another praise point. “I want to thank the people of Mansfield for all the support they have and are giving me and our two daughters.” Being without Eugene for 8 weeks at a time, is hard yakka. “The last two weeks become very long and missing your family becomes hard,” confirms John.
• Travelling safety – the long flight and then the journey over land over dangerous roads to where the mines are.
• The challenges in communication, because people come from everywhere and many don’t speak English.
• To see opportunities to bring the Gospel to that one person that God has placed right there, becoming an ambassador and having the courage to say it at the right time.
16 August 2015
Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
"Most of what God gives us comes in seed form." Recently I found a newsletter from TEAR Australia in the pigeon hole and read that director Maury is regularly amazed about the Kingdom of God being likened to a mustard seed. Our small acts of giving and living out our faith can grow to something often much bigger than we can imagine.
Most of us by now would have heard about Myanmar, where lately 12 out of 14 states and regions have suffered flooding because of heavy monsoon downpours. Extra international (including Australian) aid provide valuable relief, to give them hygiene, household items, essential shelter material as well as to help them rehabilitate trees.
So what must the damage be like at the orphanage we support in Burma? A message received on 12 August reads: "No problem at New Life. They have been doing some local fundraising (had a concert etc.) and Israel has been taking drinking water and supplies to badly hit areas. Love Rowena x".
Our prayers can be like the growth from the small mustard seed, reaching - beyond our imagination - to help with restoration. Let's pray too for God's Kingdom to continue to grow and flourish both in communities overseas and here in Australia also.
9 August 2015
Over the past few weeks God has placed it upon my heart to be more open to ask others for their prayer needs, but also not to be ashamed to ask for prayer. In today's society it feels to me as if we are taught to pray, and pray for others, but we are discouraged and unwilling to answer the call from God and take the first step.
To me personally it is the biggest encouragement to pray for others and to ask others to pray for me. Thus, it is another massive encouragement to then see how God has called Mansfield Christian Reformed Church and the wider church to step up and hold us accountable for prayer within the Church - which is what we are called to do!
Paul wrote to Timothy:
"I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."
Thus we are called to pray for all those in authority and to intercede for those who need it, so that they may be saved also. But we have to do this without any anger or dispute...
"Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing."
This is why it encourages me to see God moving others in the same manner as well, and that we are fulfilling our calling and ultimately honouring God together.
Henk (Jnr) ten Cate