Don’t give up, George!

Veel nieuws komt er niet tot ons van het zuidelijk halfrond.

We weten dat op 3 november Sam Matlhokoane is ingezegend als nieuwe dominee van Mamelodi. De website van de zending zwijgt erover – geen bericht, geen foto. Volgens de VGKSA-website is de allang geschorste Tebogo Mogale nog steeds de moruti.

Hoe moet de achterban zo met het zendingswerk meeleven?

Gelukkig zijn er andere kanalen.

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Zo houdt mijn opvolger – in meer dan één opzicht – George Mnisi z’n vrienden via Facebook op de hoogte. We lezen over z’n gezin – Portia & the boys – en z’n werk. Vaak met een lach, soms met een traan.

Zondagmorgen in Nellmapius. De regen valt met bakken uit de lucht.

Dan weet je ’t al. Dit wordt ‘m niet. Het zijn mooi weer-christenen daar. Net als wij vaak.

De kring rond de avondmaalstafel is klein vandaag.

Zo herkenbaar.

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Ik wil George bemoedigen. Met z’n eigen woorden die hij tijdens z’n verblijf in Nederland heeft opgepikt. Maakt niet uit! Goede reis!

Advertenties

Farewell service

Het heeft even geduurd – een maand of vier – maar deze week kreeg ik eindelijk de foto’s binnen van ons afscheid op 16 juni. Met dank aan Arnoud van den Bout.

in gebed met de kerkenraad voor de dienst
in gebed met de kerkenraad voor de dienst
gecombineerde dienst van Mamelodi, Maranata en Nellmapius
gecombineerde dienst van Mamelodi, Maranata en Nellmapius
in Maranata's houten broek
in Maranata’s houten broek
Godfrey Maomaela en Harry Pouwels gaan voor in gebed
Godfrey Maomaela en Harry Pouwels gaan voor in gebed
vanuit de kerkenraadsbank
vanuit de kerkenraadsbank

[foto’s Marco Hordijk en Ferdi Kerkhoff]

Goeie genade

bosch-transforming-missionsDit is deel 4 naar aanleiding van Lucas 4 vers 14-30.

Klik hier voor deel 1, deel 2 en deel 3.

Lucas 4 is een hoofdstuk in de bijbel dat mij al een hele tijd intrigeert. Met dank aan David Bosch en zijn meesterwerk Transforming Mission.

Ik hoefde dan ook niet lang na te denken over de tekst voor m’n afscheidspreek. Die zit al jaren in m’n hoofd en m’n hart.

Lucas 4 – Jezus in de synagoge van Nazaret – is voor mij een kernverhaal in de bijbel. Het geeft je zicht op de missie van Christus. En die van zijn kerk.

Hier gaat ’t tenslotte om!

Was dit inderdaad de kern van m’n werk in Nellmapius [2008], Soshanguve CC [2009-2011] en Mamelodi [2012-2013]? Elke preek moet over Christus en zijn reddingswerk gaan. Woorden van genade voor alle mensen uit alle volken.

M’n voortdurende gebed is dat mijn preken dat niveau halen. Om aan gevangenen het goede nieuws van hun vrijlating bekend te maken en aan blinden het herstel van hun zicht, om aan onderdrukten hun vrijheid te geven, om een genadejaar van de Heer uit te roepen. Mag God ’t me vergeven als ik zijn goedheid te weinig heb laten uitkomen.

God Is Gracious

In m’n preek zondag zeg ik ook iets over de reactie op het goede nieuws. Aanvaard je de woorden van genade die Jezus spreekt?

Soshanguve CC

Wat een pijnlijk moment was ’t toen het preekpunt in CC gesloten werd. Vooral als je let op de reden waarom we niet verder konden. Te weinig mannen, zeker. Financiële tekorten, ook dat. Maar de diepste oorzaak was a lack of commitment, a lack of faith, a lack of love. Heb je the gracious words wel echt gehoord?

Ik hoor ’t de moeders in CC nog zeggen, in een verhitte discussie met een kritische toetreder.

Le re kereyile re le mo gomme le tlo re sia re le mo.

“Je hebt ons hier zó aangetroffen en je zult ons hier precies zó achterlaten.”

Met andere woorden: denk maar niet dat ik ooit zal veranderen. Ik heb jou echt niet nodig. Ik red me zelf wel. Een houding van zelfgenoegzaamheid.

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Mamelodi

Je kunt in de kerk zitten … zelfs in de kerkenraadsbank … of je staat op de preekstoel – maar ben je in Christus?  Ook een dominee of een ouderling kan Gods genade verwerpen en mensen bestelen. Gaat het je werkelijk om de Heer of draait ’t allemaal om jou?

Saved-by-GraceMaranata

Ook in de zendende kerk kan de Nazaret-mindset heersen. Hoe diep gaat de liefde voor de zending en voor de jonge kerken? Op papier zijn we één kerkverband. Maar kennen we elkaar wel? Hoe praat je over de zwarte broers en zussen? En trouwens over andere gereformeerde kerken in Zuid-Afrika? Je kunt zo vol zijn van je eigen dingen dat je geen ruimte hebt voor Gods goede genade.

De liefde van Christus verandert mensen. Je bent niet meer hoogmoedig. Je kijkt niet op andere mensen neer. Liefde, vrede en geduld zijn vruchten van de heilige Geest.

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Zondag 16 juni om kwart over tien is de afscheidsdienst. Drie gemeentes bij elkaar: Mamelodi, Maranata en Nellmapius. Als je niet zelf kunt komen, kun je ook meeluisteren. Klik hier voor de uitzending via Kerkdienst gemist.

Two prophets, a donkey, a lion and a king (1 Kings 13)

Sermon for Nellmapius & Mamelodi

June 2, 2013

Scripture reading: 1 Kings 12:25-13:34

obedience

The story we read in this chapter, raises many questions. And it should!

  1. Why is the man of God from Judah killed by a lion? The only mistake he made was listening to the old prophet in Bethel. This seems so unfair to me!
  2. How can God use this old prophet to send a message to his young colleague? First he is lying to him. But all of a sudden he is telling him the word of God!
  3. What should we learn from this rather strange story? Two prophets, a donkey, a lion and a king. Is there a message for us today?

Why? How? What? I hope to answer these questions in my sermon. And I want to help you to ask even more questions.


1k12_28-29

Let us start with the king. King Jeroboam, residing in Shechem in the northern part of Israel. If you read chapters 11 and 12 you will see that after king Solomon died, the kingdom split into two parts. In the South in Jerusalem king Rehoboam remained king. But ten out of twelve tribes followed Jeroboam in the North.

NecoCampaignThis king Jeroboam is preached against by the young man of God coming from Judah. Why does this prophet have a problem with the king? Jeroboam is making many, many mistakes:

  1. He built temples in Bethel and Dan for his people to worship God. The Lord had chosen the city of Jerusalem to live among his people.
  2. Jeroboam made two golden calves for his people to worship God. The Lord had said in the 2nd commandment of his law: no idols!
  3. The Lord had chosen the tribe of Levi to provide priests in his temple. The king appointed priests from all sorts of people.
  4. Jeroboam even changed the dates of the feasts that God had prescribed. “I do it my way!” Is that serving the Lord or what is it?

In one word: the king is disobedient. He does not listen to the word of God. Jeroboam follows his own thoughts. He refuses to obey the law of the Lord.

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The man of God coming from Judah is telling him that.

He prophecies against the altar. Two things. The altar will split apart. Which happens: it collapses and the ashes fall down. Plus: king Josiah of Judah will burn human bones on this altar and sacrifice the false priests on it. Which also happened later, as you can read in 2 Kings 23. God does not accept disobedience.

Nevertheless, the Lord is giving them a second chance. The man of God cries out against the altar. Not against the king or the people. Not yet. Will they listen and obey the word of God?

So the sermon of the young prophet has one theme. It is all about obedience. King Jeroboam, why don’t you listen to the word of God? Disobedience will be punished severely!


1k13_24

But now let us focus on the man of God coming from Judah.

His sermon is clear. Obedience. Listen to the word of God.

But then after the sermon he makes a big mistake. He himself is disobedient to God’s word. It is like one preaches against adultery. But after church you will see the preacher going to a prostitute to have paid sex with her. In that way his sermon will lose its power. Practice what you preach!

pastor_vs_prostitute_sex_scandalHe started well, this young prophet.

He spoke the word of God, loud and clear. No compromise. Without fear or favour.

The king tried to soften him by offering him food and even money. But he refused plainly.

Why? Read 13 verse 9: “For I was commanded by the word of the Lord …” God had made it clear to him. No eating and drinking in Bethel. No fellowship with those people.

This prophet talks the talk. And he walks the walk. He is obedient.

He started well, this young prophet.

But he did not continue well.

Another prophet – the older one from Bethel – came after him and invited him to his house. “Please come back to Bethel. Let us eat together.” This was against God’s own command.

The old prophet was lying to him, verse 18. He should not have listened, should he?

Because this old prophet was not faithful to the Lord. Living in Bethel. Seeing what king Jeroboam did. But not saying a word. Is that an obedient servant of God?

So there is no excuse for the prophet from Judah going back to Bethel. He is disobedient.

He did not continue well, this young prophet.

He did not finish well. The Lord cannot and will not accept disobedience. Even in his own servants. The man of God from Judah is killed by a lion. He is not even buried in the tomb of his fathers. His death is a sermon in itself. Again his theme is one and the same. Obedience.


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This is a story about two prophets, a donkey, a lion and a king. Let me say something about the second prophet. The older prophet from Bethel.

To be honest, for me this is the most difficult part of 1 Kings 13.

What I can understand more or less, is that this prophet is not really a man of God.

He was living in Bethel. He had witnessed the sins of king Jeroboam. Okay, he did not attend the ceremony with the golden calf, like his sons did. So maybe he didn’t agree. But he kept quiet. Why didn’t he speak out?

After the ceremony he tries to bring the young prophet back. He wants to have fellowship with him by eating together. Does his conscience speak?

But then he starts to lie. He even hides behind his ministry: An angel brought me a message from the Lord. What a false prophet he is!

lekganyaneHe is not really a man of God. If he had been killed by the lion, I would have understood. But now as a big surprise – verse 20 – the word of the Lord comes to him. He has to prophesy against the young man of God: This is what the Lord says …

I really don’t understand. Yes, I know that even in the ZCC or whatever, God can speak through false prophets. But why

Let me just humble myself and say: the Lord is God. His Word is powerful. He can use whomever he wants to use. I will silence my questions with a word from the book of Amos, chapter 3 verse 8:

The lion has roared — who will not fear?

The Sovereign Lord has spoken — who can but prophesy?


1k13_04b

So the sovereign Lord spoke to king Jeroboam and the people of Israel. They must have heard this story about the two prophets, the king and his outstretched hand, the donkey and the lion.

But did they respond to it? Did they obey the word of God? No, they did not.

Yes, the king asked for intercession: please pray for me! But to be honest, this only was to have his outstretched arm restored.

After that the ceremony continued. And even more … read verses 33 and 34:

King Jeroboam of Israel still did not turn from his evil ways, but continued to choose priests from ordinary families to serve at the altars he had built. He ordained as priest anyone who wanted to be one. This sin on his part brought about the ruin and total destruction of his dynasty.

The king continued in his disobedience. His people followed him. Which led to the downfall of his dynasty and even its total destruction. God will not accept us when we refuse to listen to his Word.


1k13_26p28

The story we read in this chapter – I said in my introduction – raises many questions. And it should! What? Why? How?

  1. How is it possible that people do not listen to the word of God? King Jeroboam. The people of Bethel. Both prophets, the old one and the young one. The sovereign Lord has spoken to us in the Bible – how can we be disobedient?
  2. Why is the Lord so patient with his people? He gave the king a second chance. He gave the man of God from Judah a tomb in Bethel. Even though he had been disobedient, he received honour from God and men (read again in 2 Kings 23 about king Josiah). The Lord did not yet destroy his people. He sent them prophet upon prophet (2 Kings 17:13). Finally he even sent his own son (Matthew 21:33-46). He gave us his patient love through Jesus Christ.
  3. What can we do but accept this good news and be obedient?

My sermon I can summarize in that one word. Obedience.

obey

Hopefully my life will preach the same message. Obedience.

And yours. Talk the talk. Walk the walk. Live in obedience to the word of God. Amen.

Ladies first ?

RTEmagicC_Beeld_LF_png[Numbers chapter 12

sermon preached in Nellmapius & Mamelodi

2013-04-21]

Ladies first.

That is what we often say to a woman as a matter of politeness.

  • You open the door for a mother and let her enter before you. Ladies first!
  • In a meeting you give them a chance to speak out before the men. Ladies first!

But in church … it is men first, isn’t it?

We don’t allow mothers to preach from the pulpit. Yes, they can have their prayer group. They can teach in Sunday School. They can even lead a cell group. – But a woman can never be a moruti. That door remains closed. Ladies last!

ladies first

Why are we so rude against ladies? I know some of our female church members are angry about this reformed church policy.


Miriam first

Ladies, let me introduce you to Miriam. She is also complaining about male dominance. Why should Moses be the leader of the people?

Miriam is not alone. Her brother Aaron is also mentioned. Together they are moaning against their younger brother Moses. But is clear who took the initiative. It is Miriam who is hit with leprosy. Why? Because, verse 1: Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses …

Aaron is not the leader in this revolt. Aaron is following others. Like he did earlier:

[The people] gathered round Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us.” [They] took off their ear-rings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a [golden] calf … (Exodus 32)

Aaron is spineless, following others. Miriam is the leader of the revolution. Ladies first!

jaden-vs-mai-ladies-first

What is her problem? What Miriam says is, verse 1: because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite.

How should we understand this?

  • Moses was married to Zipporah, daughter of a priest in Midian (Exodus 2:21). We know that they had some problems in their marriage (Ex 18:2-6).
  • So some think Moses took a second wife. Or had Zipporah died already? Others think this Cushite wife is Zipporah, because Midian is another name for Cush (Habakkuk 3:7).

Whatever, that is not the point. The real issue is not this wife of Moses. Be it her skin colour or her position as first lady. Miriam and Aaron start gossiping about Moses and his position. “Why can’t I be the first lady?”

You can deduct that from God’s reaction. This marriage of Moses is never mentioned. But his position is. “How do you dare to speak against my servant Moses?”


Moses first

Miriam can complain correctly.

  • In chapter 11 it was Moses moaning. “Why should I bear the burden of this people alone?” It was too heavy for him. The Lord listened to him and reduced his load. He appointed – no … not Aaron and Miriam, but – 70 leaders to help Moses in his job. Was Miriam disappointed by this outcome?
  • Earlier, in Exodus 18, the same happened. Moses’ heavy workload was reduced. Israel chose capable leaders to assist him. We don’t hear anything about Miriam or Aaron. But the advice to do so was given by Jethro, his father-in-law … Is that why Miriam is nagging about the wife? Moses should listen more to his own family!

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Okay. Let us listen to them. Verse 2:

They said, “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he also spoken through us?”

Yes, the Lord has spoken through them.

  • Aaron had been chosen to be spokesman in front of the king of Egypt. On behalf of the Lord he said: Let my people go! Plus he did impressive signs and miracles.
  • Miriam is called a prophetess in Exodus 15. She sang the praise of the Lord and led all Israelite women in their praise song.

No, God has not spoken only through Moses. In verse 6 the Lord says so. He makes use of prophets, dreams, visions. Aaron the priest and Miriam the prophetess play their roles in his kingdom.

But Moses plays a very special role.

  • He is called my servant – faithful in all my house. No-one is like him.
  • God speaks to Moses face to face – not in dreams or visions, not indirectly.
  • He even saw God – “he sees the form of the Lord” – which is unique.

So among the people of Israel it is Moses first. Not ladies first. Not Aaron first. Miriam may not like it, but this is how it is:

No prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt – to [the king] Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no-one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel. (Deuteronomy 34)

Like it was Adam first in paradise.

Like it is men first in church. Even though man and woman have been created in the image of God. Even though men and women alike have been given gifts of the holy Spirit. Galatians 3 verse 28:  “There is neither … male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Ladies

But still, there is a difference.

  • Jesus called 12 men to be his apostles.
  • Paul allows men and women to serve in the church as deacons, but only men can be chosen as elders (1 Timothy 3).
  • Women are not allowed to preach in the pulpit (1 Timothy 2).

Is this rude and impolite? Ladies first!

Or is it obedient to God’s law? The Lord first!


The Lord first

According to Numbers 12, that is Miriam’s biggest problem. Selfish. Jealous. But most of all: disobedient. “How dare you? I speak with Moses – how can you speak against him?”

Miriam is punished. Not Aaron, who was a mere follower. But the leader of the revolt.

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  • You have a problem with this black lady? Okay, let us make you white like snow!
  • You want to be in the centre? You will be outside the camp, unclean with leprosy!
  • You want to be the first lady? I will make you the last, all of them must wait for you!

That is God’s anger, not Moses’ revenge. He was a humble man – says verse 3 – who did not try to protect his own position. Moses trusted the Lord who had called him to be the leader.

Church leaders – ministers and elders – don’t be proud. Don’t look down upon the ordinary church members, either men or women. You have been called by the Lord Jesus into this ministry. Honour him by treating every woman or man with love and respect.

Remember you are a servant of him who said:

Come to me … Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart … (Matthew 11)

He must be your role-model. Not Moses, the faithful servant. But Jesus, the faithful son. Let us read Hebrews 3 verses 1-6:

1 My Christian brothers and sisters, who also have been called by God! Think of Jesus, whom God sent to be the High Priest of the faith we profess.
2  He was faithful to God, who chose him to do this work, just as Moses was faithful in his work in God’s house.
3  A man who builds a house receives more honour than the house itself. In the same way Jesus is worthy of much greater honour than Moses.
4  Every house, of course, is built by someone- and God is the one who has built all things.
5  Moses was faithful in God’s house as a servant, and he spoke of the things that God would say in the future.
6  But Christ is faithful as the Son in charge of God’s house. We are his house if we keep up our courage and our confidence in what we hope for.

Not men first – the Lord first!

Not ladies first – the Lord first!

So, ladies, if you do have a problem with the position of men in church – why can’t a lady become a moruti? We want women in office – who do you have a problem with? You don’t want to be disobedient to the Bible, do you?

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God created Adam first. We all know what happened when Eve did not accept that.

God put Moses first. Only when Aaron and Miriam accept that and ask Moses to pray for them – did you hear that: please, my lord – only then there is forgiveness and future.

God puts men first in certain respects. Let us accept that and submit ourselves to him. I want us to read 1 Timothy 2 verses 8-15:

8  In every church service I want the men to pray, men who are dedicated to God and can lift up their hands in prayer without anger or argument.
9 I also want the women to be modest and sensible about their clothes and to dress properly; not with fancy hair styles or with gold ornaments or pearls or expensive dresses,
10  but with good deeds, as is proper for women who claim to be religious.
11  Women should learn in silence and all humility.
12  I do not allow them to teach or to have authority over men; they must keep quiet.
13  For Adam was created first, and then Eve.
14  And it was not Adam who was deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and broke God’s law.
15  But a woman will be saved through having children, if she perseveres in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

Ladies_First

Are you a Moses, an Aaron, a Miriam? Please take up the position and the task that God gave you. Use your gifts in his service.

And the door of heaven will open for you.

Christians first!