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Thursday, 13 April 2017

Hoe Weet Ons Jesus Leef?

Met erkenning aan Africa Christian Action

“…Na die Gees van heiligheid met krag verklaar is as die Seun van God deur die opstanding uit die dode...” Rom. 1:4.

Wie Het Die Steen Weggerol?
Christus se Opstanding is uiters belangrik en die kern van die Christelike geloof. Dit is juis die rede waarom dit die teiken van die mees meedoënlose aanvalle is. Frank Morrison, ‘n regspraktisyn, het hom beywer om te bewys dat die Opstanding nooit plaasgevind het nie. Die uiteinde van al sy vermoeiende ondersoeke was dat hy hom tot die Christendom bekeer het en ’n boek, ‘Who Moved the Stone?’ geskryf het. In die publikasie word daar oorweldigende getuienis oor die Opstanding aangetoon.

Bewyse Wat ’n Uitspraak Vereis
Josh McDowell was ’n baie skeptiese universiteitsdosent wat vasbeslote was om die Christelike geloof te weerlê, deur die besware teen die Opstanding te ondersoek. Die resultaat? Bekering tot die Christendom en die uitstaande boek ‘Evidence That Demands a Verdict’ sien die lig. Hierin is daar volledige en afdoende bewyse wat die historiese waarhede, feitelike korrektheid, argeologiese bewyse, manuskripbewyse, vervulde profesieë, veranderde lewens en ander onweerlegbare bewyse wat die Opstanding van Christus onderskryf, weergee.

Die Feite
Thomas Arnold, Professor in Geskiedenis aan die Universiteit van Oxford en een van die grootste historici van die 19de Eeu, het geskryf: “I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better, fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair enquirer, than the great sign which God has given us that Christ died and rose from the dead.”

Ondersoek Die Bewyse
Een van die mees gerespekteerde regspraktisyns van alle tye en die vader van die Harvard Law School, Simon Greenleaf, word gereken as die mees gesaghebbende persoon oor geldige bewyse in enige regsgeding. Hy het ’n baie deeglike studie van die objektiewe bewyse en getuienis van die vier Evangelieskrywers, Matteus, Markus, Lukas en Johannes gemaak, en ’n boek daaroor gepubliseer:  -‘The Testimony of the Evangelists’ (Baker, 1874). Daarin het hy tot die gevolgtrekking gekom: “It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.”

Simon Greenleaf het ook verklaar dat enige geregshof, indien hierdie bewyse voorgelê sou word, uitspraak sou lewer ten gunste van die integriteit en akkuraatheid van die Evangelieskrywers oor die Opstanding.
Een van die gewildste boeke wat ooit geskryf en een van die suksesvolste films wat ooit geproduseer is, ‘Ben Hur’, was die gevolg van die skeptiese uitdaging aan Generaal Lew Wallace oor die betroubaarheid van Christus se Opstanding en die noukeurige ondersoek van die bewyse daarvan.

Wat Is Die Ware Feite?
Vir die godsdienstige leiers - die Fariseërs en Sadduseërs, wat ’n veldtog gelei en saamgesweer het om Christus te arresteer en Hom triomfantelik tereg te stel - was die weerlegging van enige aanspraak op die Opstanding van groot belang.

Hulle het gedink dat die teregstelling van Jesus die bedreiging van hulle godsdienstige magsbasis sou elimineer en Sy ondersteuners vir ewig sou stilmaak. Hulle was gevolglik bekommerd oor die Liggaam van Jesus en het die Romeinse goewerneur, Pontius Pilatus, om militêre hulp genader, ten einde die graf te beveilig. (Mat. 27:62-66).

Die Romeinse goewerneur se belange was om die oproerige Palestina-provinsie se vrede en stabiliteit te herstel. Hy het die politieke konsekwensies raakgesien, wat uit hierdie situasie met die godsdienstige Leermeester, wat hy drie keer onskuldig verklaar het, kon voortvloei. Uiteindelik het hy sy hande voor die skare gewas en verklaar: “Ek is onskuldig aan die bloed van hierdie regverdige man; julle kan toesien!” Mat. 27:24.

Pilatus was maar al te bewus van die bespotting wat daar van die gereg gemaak is en die laaste ding wat hy nodig gehad het, was ’n hersiening van sy skandalige gedrag en die ontduiking van verantwoordelikheid en plig in hierdie saak. Om seker te maak dat die liggaam in die graf bly, was gevolglik beslis in Pilatus se beste politieke belang. “Julle sal ‘n wag kry; gaan verseker dit soos julle dit verstaan.” Mat. 27:65.

Die Romeinse Wag
Die feit dat die hoofpriesters die Romeinse goewerneur genader het, sowel as die gebruik van die Griekse woord ‘koustodia’ (wat ’n afdeling soldate beskryf) bevestig dat dit Romeinse wagte was wat die graf bewaak het. As slegs ’n tempelwag gebruik was, sou dit nie nodig gewees het om Pilatus daaroor te nader nie. Die wagte het gevrees dat die goewerneur hulle nie sou beskerm teen die gevolge van die Opstanding nie. (Matt 28:14) Die groep sou uit minstens 16 soldate bestaan het - met vier soldate per diensbeurt - direk voor die ingang na die graf. Die Romeinse militêre wet het vereis dat enige wag wat sy pos sou verlaat, of wat aan die slaap sou raak tydens sy wagbeurt, gekruisig sou word. Enigiemand wat die Romeinse seël sonder toestemming sou breek, sou vervolg en tereggestel word.

Alhoewel dit die voorneme van die godsdienstige en politieke leiers was om seker te maak dat hierdie hele ‘Jesus-fenomeen’ by die graf sou eindig, het die buitengewone veiligheidsmaatreëls net die waarheid – nl. dat hulle ’n onskuldige man vermoor het, en dat Jesus Christus werklik die Messias, die Seun van die Lewende God was - bevestig.

Teorieë
Ten einde die leë graf te rasionaliseer, moes die vyande van die Evangelie desperaat gryp na misleidende teorieë. Die eerste was om voor te gee dat die dissipels die liggaam gesteel het. Dié ongelooflike teorie moes mense wysmaak dat dit dieselfde dissipels is wat in Getsemane geslaap het, wat tydens Sy arrestasie gevlug het, wat Hom voor die jong diensmeisie verloën het en bang agter toe deure weggekruip het – dat dit húlle was wat sáám 16 professionele Romeinse wagte kon oorval, dit durf waag het om die Romeinse seël van die graf te breek, en ’n rots van twee ton beweeg het - net om ’n dooie liggaam te steel! ’n Dooie Messias sou tog mos geen doel vir die dissipels dien nie. Wat kon die moontlike motivering wees indien hulle wel die wagte kon oorval en al die politieke en logistieke hindernisse te bowe kom? Hulle het absoluut niks gehad om te wen nie, maar  alles om te verloor. Elkeen van die dissipels het na die Opstanding onder ernstige vervolging gely en die meeste het as martelare gesterf. Sou jy vir ’n leuen sterf?

Het Jesus Waarlik Gesterf?
Ander weer bevraagteken die feit dat Christus werklik aan die Kruis gesterf het. Moontlik het Hy net flou geword? Hierdie “flou-” teorie wil ons wys maak dat die Romeinse soldate - wat professionele moordenaars was (die hoofman oor honderd het heel waarskynlik oor meer as honderde teregstellings toesig gehou) - gefaal het in hul pogings om seker te maak dat hierdie hoë-profiel-gevangene waarlik dood is. As die wreedaardige geseling wat Jesus moes deurmaak, die verskriklike kruisiging en die spies in Sy sy (waaruit water en bloed gevloei het) in berekening gebring word, is dit oortuigende en genoegsame bewys dat Hy werklik gesterf het.
En tog, die voorstaanders en verkondigers van hierdie “flou” teorie wil ons laat glo dat die Een wat soveel kon verduur, nie net die Romeinse militariste doeltreffendheid oorwin het nie, maar ook op ’n koue klipblad in ’n koue graf vanself herstel het. Verder het Hy ook nog van die grafklere, ‘n honderd pond speserye, salwe en toedraai-doeke - wat Hom effektief sou mummifiseer - asook die twee ton rotsblok ontslae geraak, en boonop die Romeinse soldate effektief ontwyk.  En Hy sou nog steeds die dissipels met Sy Godheid beïndruk? Die blote suggestie is belaglikheid.

Die Leë Graf
’n Ander desperate poging om die Opstanding weg te redeneer, is die aanname dat hulle - Maria Magdalena, Petrus, Johannes, die ander vroue - almal na die verkeerde graf gegaan het. Op ’n manier het nóg die Fariseërs, nóg die Sadduseërs, nóg die Romeinse soldate óf Josef van Arimathea (wie se graf dit was) daaraan gedink om daarop te wys dat die liggaam nog steeds in die regte graf is nie! Hierdie teorie is egter net so vergesog, want die graf was nie in ’n begraafplaas nie, maar in ’n tuin wat in die privaat-besit van Josef van Arimathea was. Daar was geen ander graf in die tuin nie!

Die Afwesigheid Van Die Liggaam
Al wat die Romeinse en Joodse leiers moes doen om die Christendom te beëindig, was om ’n liggaam as bewysstuk na vore te bring. En hulle kon nie! Selfs toe die Apostel Petrus die dag met die uitstorting van die Heilige Gees opgestaan en verklaar het: “Laat dan die hele huis van Israel sekerlik weet dat God Hom Here en Christus gemaak het, hierdie Jesus wat julle gekruisig het.” Hand. 2:36.

 “En met groot krag het die apostels getuienis gegee van die opstanding van die Here Jesus…” Hand. 4:33. Duisende in Jerusalem, insluitend baie Fariseërs, het daar tot geloof gekom.

Die Geloofwaardigheidskrisis
Dit was vir die Joodse godsdienstige leiers die grootste nagmerrie -’n ramp! Die belydenis van die Opstanding van Christus het dus hul mag en geloofwaardigeheid ondermyn. Duisende van hulle volgelinge het geglo dat hulle ’n onskuldige man - die Messias - ter dood veroordeel het. Die nuwe godsdiens het hul magsbasis ondermyn. Indien die liggaam van Jesus gevind sou kon word, sou die Christendom daar en dan tot ’n einde gekom het en die bedreiging wat dit vir die godsdienstige leiers ingehou het, sou beëindig wees. Omdat hulle die liggaam so dringend nodig gehad het om hul eie saak te bevorder, sou hulle alles in die stryd gewerp het om die liggaam te vind - indien dit hoegenaamd moontlik was.

Die Ooggetuies
Ons het egter nie net met die leë graf en die afwesigheid van die liggaam te doen nie, maar ook met die verslag van die ooggetuies. Op ten minste twaalf verskillende geleenthede is Jesus gesien nadat hy uit die dood opgestaan het. Maria Magdalena (Joh. 20:11-18); Mark. 16:9), die ander vroue (Mat. 28:8-10), Petrus (Luk. 24:34); die twee Emmaus-gangers (Luk. 24:13-35), tien dissipels (Luk. 24:36-43; Joh. 20:19-24); al elf dissipels agt dae na die opstanding (Joh. 20:24-29); sewe dissipels by die See van Tiberias (Joh. 21:1-23), tot 500 mense by geleentheid (1 Kor. 15:6), Jakobus (1 Kor. 15:7), aan al elf dissipels, en ander, tydens Hemelvaart (Hand 1:3-12), Paulus (Hand 9:3-8) en Johannes (Openb. 1:12-18) het almal die Here Jesus gesien nadat Hy opgestaan het.

Deur hierdie getuienis te probeer wegredeneer, probeer die vyande van die Christendom voorgee dat dit bloot hallusinasies, of dalk nog die gevolg van hipnose of histerie, was. Hallusinasies is unieke psigologiese ervarings van enkele individue, maar ons het hier te make met groot getalle mense wat op verskillende tye, in verskillende groepe en plekke, binne- sowel as buitenshuis, op pad en by ’n meer, die Here Jesus gesien het. Hulle het saam met Hom geëet, Sy wonde gesien en ook die wond aan Sy sy.
Sy dissipels was skepties en traag om te glo dat dit werklik Hy was. Thomas het selfs verklaar dat hy net sal glo, indien hy persoonlik sy vingers in Jesus se wonde aan Sy hande, voete en sy kon druk.

Veranderde Dissipels
Ons het méér as net die verslae van ooggetuies; ons het ook die dramatiese verandering in die lewens van die dissipels self, as bewys van die Opstanding. Jesus se Opstanding het hulle rou in vreugde verander. Hul lafhartigheid het in vrymoedigheid, en hul skeptisisme in geloof verander. Hulle was ook baie vasbeslote en doelgerig. Saulus, die vervolger van die Kerk, het in Paulus, die apostel van die Kerk, verander.

Dit het ook die gemeenskap en die geskiedenis verander. Dit het die Joodse Sabbat in die Christelike Dag van die Here verander. Die Opstanding het die Joodse oorblyfsel in die wêreldwye Christelike Kerk verander. Meer as 2 miljard mense wêreldwyd beskou hulself as Christene wat in die Opstanding van Jesus Christus glo. Die blote bestaan van hierdie grootste godsdiensbeweging in die geskiedenis van die wêreld, is nog ’n kragtige bewys van die Opstanding van Jesus.

Jesus het Self geprofeteer dat Hy uit die dood sou opstaan. En omdat hierdie profesie vervul is, kan ons absoluut seker wees dat Jesus Christus God met ons is, soos wat Hy gesê het. Ons kan dus weet dat ons sonde deur Sy bloed wat aan die Kruis op Golgota gevloei het, vergewe is.

Juis op grond van Sy dood aan die Kruis kan ons ons verheug - ons sonde is vergewe, ons is vrygespreek deur geloof. Op grond van Sy Opstanding uit die dood kan ons uitsien na die ewige lewe. Sy Hemelvaart verseker ons van die feit dat Hy oor al die gesag beskik en dat Hy Sy groot Opdrag op aarde uitgevoer het. Die uitstorting van die Heilige Gees op Pinksterdag maak dit vir ons moontlik om nie meer op ons eie vermoëns staat te maak nie, maar op Sy krag alleen. “Nie deur krag of deur geweld nie, maar deur my Gees, sê die HERE van die leërskare.” Sag. 4:6.

Ons dien ’n Opgestane Heer en Redder! Die dood is oorwin. Christus het opgestaan - oorwinnaar oor die dood, hel, satan en die graf. Hy is die Opstanding en die Lewe! (Joh. 11:25).

“Geseënd is die God en Vader van onse Here Jesus Christus wat na sy grote barmhartigheid ons die wedergeboorte geskenk het tot ‘n lewende hoop deur die opstanding van Jesus Christus uit die dode.”  1 Pet. 1:3.


Africa Christian Action

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Fiction?

"Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Fiction?", by Rusty Wright, was taken from Thoughts about God.com

At Easter, some might wonder what all the fuss is about. Who cares? What difference does it make if Jesus rose from the dead?
It makes all the difference in the world. If Christ did not rise, then thousands of believers have died as martyrs for a hoax.
If he did rise, then he is still alive and can offer peace to troubled, hurting lives.
Countless scholars--among them the apostle Paul, Augustine, Sir Isaac Newton and C.S. Lewis--believed in the resurrection. We need not fear committing intellectual suicide by believing it also. Where do the facts lead?
Paul, a first-century skeptic-turned believer, wrote that "Christ died for our sins...he was buried...he was raised on the third day...he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve (Disciples). After that, he appeared to more than five hundred...at the same time, most of whom are still living." Consider four pieces of evidence:

1. The explosive growth of the Christian movement. Within a few weeks after Jesus was crucified, a movement arose which, by the later admission of its enemies, "upset the world." What happened to ignite this movement shortly after its leader had been executed?

2. The Disciples' changed lives. After Jesus' arrest and crucifixion, most of the Disciples fled in fear. Peter denied three times that he was a follower of Jesus. (The women were braver and stayed to the end.) Yet ten out of the eleven Disciples (Judas committed suicide) were martyred for their faith. According to traditions, Peter was crucified upside down; Thomas was skewered; John was boiled in oil but survived. What turned these cowards into heroes? Each believed he had seen Jesus alive again.

3. The empty tomb.Jesus' corpse was removed from the cross, wrapped like a mummy and placed in a solid-rock tomb. A one-and-a-half to two-ton stone was rolled into a slightly depressed groove to seal the tomb's entrance.
A "Green Beret"-like unit of Roman soldiers guarded the grave. Sunday morning, the stone was found rolled away, the body was gone but the graveclothes were still in place. What happened?
Did Christ's friends steal the body? Perhaps one of the women sweet-talked (karate-chopped?) the guards while the others moved the stone and tiptoed off with the body. Or maybe Peter (remember his bravery) or Thomas (Doubting Thomas) overpowered the guards, stole the body, then fabricated--and died for--a resurrection myth.
These theories hardly seem plausible. The guard was too powerful, the stone too heavy and the disciples too spineless to attempt such a feat.
Did Christ's enemies steal the body? If Romans or Jewish religious leaders had the body, surely they would have exposed it publicly and Christianity would have died out. They didn't, and it didn't.
The "Swoon Theory" supposes that Jesus didn't really die but was only unconscious. The expert Roman executioners merely thought he was dead. After a few days in the tomb without food or medicine, the cool air revived him.
He burst from the 100 pounds of graveclothes, rolled away the stone with his nail-pierced hands, scared the daylights out of the Roman soldiers, walked miles on wounded feet and convinced his Disciples he'd been raised from the dead. This one is harder to believe than the resurrection itself.

4. The appearances of the risen Christ. For 40 days after his death, many different people said they saw Jesus alive. Witnesses included a woman, a shrewd tax collector, several fishermen and over 500 people at once. These claims provide further eyewitness testimony for the resurrection.
As a skeptic, I realized that attempts to explain away the evidences run into a brick wall of facts that point to one conclusion: Christ is risen.

The above does not constitute an exhaustive proof, rather a reasoned examination of the evidence. Each interested person should evaluate the evidence and decide if it makes sense. Of course, the truth or falsity of the resurrection is a matter of historical fact and is not dependent on anyone's belief. If the facts support the claim, one can conclude that he arose. In any case, mere intellectual assent to the facts does little for one's life.

A major evidence comes experientially, in personally receiving Jesus' free gift of forgiveness. He said, "I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him (or her)."
Worth considering? Would you like to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ? You can start by saying this simple prayer:
Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

REFORMATION 500: The heart of the Reformation


On October 31, 1517, in Wittenberg, Germany, Martin Luther posted his thoughts about some theological topics and the practices of the Church. That simple action began the Reformation — a movement that changed Western society.

One man stood against the corruption of the establishment. Luther’s fight was, of course, one of theology. But it was still one man, a monk, against the massive Holy Roman Empire. Luther was threatened, exiled, condemned and labeled a heretic. But his teaching grew in popularity throughout his life.
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Those who follow Luther’s teachings number in the millions. Most Protestant churches today trace their lineage, in some part, to the teachings of Luther. The German language exists as it does today in large part due to Luther’s translation of the New Testament.

Luther’s writings on the freedom of the Christian to serve the government, and the role of the government to establish justice and to protect citizens, have greatly influenced our view of authority. Though he was a theologian, Luther wrote and thought about all of life. He was concerned for the children in his town. He was involved in the politics of his day. He was an academic. He was a family man. He was a revolutionary. He was involved in the lives of the poor and the common man.

Yet this Reformation anniversary is not a celebration of Luther. Even the Lutheran church does not celebrate Luther. Lutheran does not mean a follower of Luther, but of his theological teachings.

Luther and the other Reformation theologians believed that all mankind is sinful, that everyone is guilty of error in God’s sight. They also believed that God will punish those who do what He forbids. The problem is not only that everyone sins, but that mankind’s sinful condition means there is no way to do enough good things to earn God’s love.

The Reformation proclaimed that the solution to the problem is not in man, but in God. Luther and his followers taught that the Bible teaches salvation by God’s grace, through faith, because of Jesus. The message of the Reformation is that the Scriptures teach that God has grace on sinners. He gives forgiveness freely to all who believe in Him. This forgiveness is given through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. All who believe in Jesus as their Savior receive forgiveness and eternal life. All of this is a free gift from a loving God.

Luther’s teaching, and that of the Reformation, is often summarized in three “solas.” Sola gratia, sola fide and sola scriptura — by faith alone, by grace alone and by Scripture alone. The key to Reformation theology is found in God’s love for people.

By grace alone means that God gives His love freely. People can’t earn God’s love. People can’t earn forgiveness. God’s love is not gained by human efforts, but given freely by God’s grace.

By faith alone means that those who believe in Jesus as God’s Savior for all of mankind receive forgiveness and eternal life. Faith is something God gives to people through His Holy Spirit, working in the Word of God and the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. People do nothing to earn God’s love, but receive it by grace through faith.

By Scripture alone means that God has revealed His truth through the Holy Bible. Scripture is the one trustworthy source for the truth about God. The Scriptures are properly read in light of Jesus as the Son of God in the flesh. The Bible teaches that His death and resurrection is the key event in all of history, because there, Jesus died to gain the forgiveness of everyone’s sins. This does not mean that Christians should only read the Bible. Sola scriptura means that the Bible is the only trustworthy source for doctrine and life.

The three solas, by grace alone, by faith alone and by Scripture alone, are all summarized in one more phrase from the Reformation, solus Christus — through Christ alone.  

This is really the focus of the Reformation. God’s grace, our faith and the Scriptures are all focused on Jesus Christ. The Reformation moved the focus from the Church to Jesus. Luther and the reformers taught that Jesus is how God relates to us and how we relate to Him. The reformers taught that Jesus is our salvation, that Jesus is the way that God loves.

When Martin Luther understood Jesus as the center of all of Scripture and man’s relationship to God, he saw everything in light of this relationship between God and man. This moved him to teach about the Christian’s role in society, the role of the government, and how individual Christians live out their faith.

Luther cared for the people in his town and worked to provide materials for them, writing the Small Catechism to teach the basics of the faith, and translating the Bible into German so that everyone could read the Word of God.


Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses in Wittenberg, Germany, 500 years ago. Much has changed since then. Many things we encounter daily were influenced by the Reformation. The heart of the Reformation was theology. It was a return to God as the source of mankind’s salvation. It was a focus on God’s love.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

16 December - The Day of the Covenant

Thankyou to Dr. Peter Hammond, Reformation Society, for this insightful article on The Day of the Covenant (16 December)

RUDIE VAN HEERDEN
Active for Jesus Media Mission / WoomaNet


The DAY of the COVENANT
"Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps Covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments." Deuteronomy 7:9

The Battle of Blood River
For over a century and a half, throughout South Africa, 16 December has been observed as The Day of the Covenant. Marking the decisive Battle of Blood River, the Day of the Covenant has been recognised by many, not only as a victory for the Voortrekkers, but as a triumph for Western civilization and Christianity in Africa.

Spiritual Warfare
It should be noted that before the Battle of Blood River, 16 December 1838, there were no known Christians amongst the Zulu nation. Despite the dedicated spiritual labours of British and American missionaries amongst the Zulus for 18 years previously, so great was the hold of superstition, the reign of terror of the Zulu kings, and fear of the witchdoctors, that no Zulus were known to have responded to the preaching of the Gospel before the defeat of Dingaan’s Impis at Blood River.

Christianity vs. Witchcraft
One could similarly note that despite the strenuous labours of famous British missionary Robert Moffatt, and others, amongst the Matabele, in what became Rhodesia, there were no baptised Matabele converts to Christianity before the defeat of Lobengula's Impis in the Matabele War of 1893.

The Spiritual Liberation of the Zulu
Observing the significance of The Day of the Covenant is not in any sense anti-Zulu. I have many precious friends amongst the Zulu. Having read extensively on their history, and visited many of the strategic battle sites and museums in Zululand, I have to regard the Covenant made by the Boers, and The Battle of Blood River, as the beginning of the spiritual liberation of Zululand. Only after The Battle of Blood River did hundreds, and then thousands, of Zulus come to Christ.

Love in Action
It needs to be noted that after their victory over Dingaan's forces the Afrikaans Christians built a magnificent mission station and church at Mgundgundlovu (Dingaanstad) within sight of the massacre of the Trek leader Piet Retief and his 100 followers who were brutally tortured and massacred. The Afrikaans missionaries built a school for the blind, an evangelists training college, and many other expressions of Christian love for their former enemies.

Zululand for Christ
After the final defeat of the Zulu military, in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, Zulus came to Christ by the hundreds of thousands. Today there are millions of Zulu Christians.

Vikings for Christ
As a descendant of the Vikings, I look to our former enemy, King Alfred the Great, as one of my Spiritual forefathers. Although the original Hammonds would have been among the Viking invaders of England, I recognise that the conversion and discipling of the once brutal Vikings began with the military victory of King Alfred the Great and his Saxon armies over the Vikings. Similarly, I believe that our Zulu brothers and sisters in Christ can rejoice in the Spiritual liberation of the Zulu nation that began with the original Day of the Covenant.

Shaka and the Mfekane
Shaka had built the Zulu into a great warlike nation. He unleashed waves of destruction impi ebomvu (total war) that left enormous stretches of country uninhabited by people. The Mfekane unleashed by Shaka had led to the annihilation of literally hundreds of tribes. Known as "the Black Napoleon", Shaka had soaked Southern Africa in blood, devastating countless kraals, particularly between 1820 and 1824. Shaka was described as tall, handsome and a military genius. He moulded the previously insignificant Zulu tribe into a mighty war machine. He introduced new systems of fighting, abandoning the long throwing spears, and introducing the far more lethal short handled broad-bladed assegai. He compelled his men to throw away their sandals and to harden their feet. His regiments (Impis) would be compelled to dance on thorns and if anyone showed pain they were immediately executed. Instead of standing at a distance singing, and taunting the enemy, and ineffectually throwing their spears, Shaka trained his men to fight as a cohesive unit, in the shape of cattle horns. The most experienced troops were at the head to gore, and the younger warriors were put on the horns to encircle the enemy. The Zulu were trained to rush straight in for the kill. They overwhelmed every tribe they came across and annihilated them. Many of the young women and young boys from these defeated tribes were amalgamated into the Zulu tribe, but the older people and warriors were exterminated.

Mzilikazi's Path of Blood
One of Shaka's most effective generals, Mzilikazi, was a dynamic, and ambitious, man. (Mzilikazi was born in 1790, making him slightly the junior of Shaka who was born in 1787.) Mzilikazi was 34 when he fled Zululand with his Impi and founded Matebele nation. To avoid retribution at the hands of his king, Shaka, Mzilikazi led his men on a devastating path of blood through the Transvaal, the Orange Free State and Botswana, later settling in what became Rhodesia. Mzilikazi spared the most promising of the vanquished tribes to be incorporated into his army and tribe. He moulded his heterogeneous horde into a great nation using the best of Zulu military tactics. His path through the interior of Southern Africa was as devastating as a veld fire, as he slaughtered, captured, plundered and left destruction in his wake. Until his defeat at the hands of the Boers at Vegkop, the Matabele were operating out of Western Transvaal. Their defeat at the hands of Hendrik Potgieter's trekkers led Mzilikazi's men to flee across the Limpopo River to settle in Matabeleland (in what later became Rhodesia, and ultimately Zimbabwe).

Dingaan's Treachery
On 22 September 1828, Shaka, the founder and King of the Zulus, was stabbed to death by his half-brothers, Princes Dingaan and Mhlangana. Missionaries and English traders who visited Zululand described Dingaan as "astute", "sly", "cruel", "temperamental", "brutal", "charming", "diplomatic" and "treacherous". Shortly after murdering his half-brother, Dingaan quickly arranged the assassination of his co-conspirator Mhlangana, and then systematically executed all aristocratic rivals and anyone else who could possibly be a danger to him, including the commander-in-chief of Shaka's army, Ndlaka, who he had strangled.

Corrupt and Cruel
Dingaan was about 30 years old when he seized power. He began to build himself a new capital in Mgungundlovu (the place of the great elephant). Dingaan quickly accumulated over 300 wives and concubines. Traders and missionaries described Dingaan's appetite as "voracious, sexually and otherwise" and he soon became extremely obese. Unlike his brother Shaka, Dingaan preferred to stay at his palace. He was not a warrior like Shaka. Instead of leading military campaigns, he sent out his Impis and remained at Mgungundlovu surrounded by a continual programme of feasting and dancing.

The Gullibility of Piet Retief
When the Trek leader Piet Retief came to Dingaan to negotiate the right for the Voortrekkers to settle in the depopulated territory between the Tugela and the Bushmans River (present day Natal) he was warned by the missionaries that one of the principle objectives of Shaka had been to totally depopulate all the surrounding territory as far as his soldiers could penetrate so that his followers, over whom he held such despotic sway, might have no asylum or refuge if they attempted to escape his murderous rule. Retief was also warned that the defeat of the renegade Zulu general Mzilikazi at the hands of the Boers in the Transvaal had sent shockwaves through Zululand. As Dingaan's military expeditions against Mzilikazi had all been indecisive, he feared the power of the Boers. Yet, Piet Retief seemed supremely self-confident and brushed aside every warning about the danger of the dictator with whom he was attempting to negotiate.

Mgundgundlovu
Dingaan's capital, Mgungundlovu, was described as an efficient military camp entirely fenced in with thorn bushes. The king's quarters dominated the high ground, overlooking the two thousand huts to the sides of the main entrance and open arena. Each hut accommodated twenty warriors. Within the lines of the military huts were four strongly fenced in cattle kraals. Dingaan's own quarters consisted of hundreds of beehive huts including huts for his enormous harem, and his counsel house and reception hall, both some 20 feet in height, with the roof supported by 22 pillars entirely covered in bead work. The floors were made of mud and dung, polished with blood and fat until they shone like a mirror. Mgungundlovu as a whole was arranged in ovals, circles and semi-circles, with thousands of beehive huts appearing like beads in a necklace. Facing the capital, on the other side of the stream below was the hill of execution (KwaMatiwane).

In the Presence of Dingaan
Dingaan required his subjects to throw themselves to the ground and crawl forward in the dust for about two hundred metres before coming to a halt a good distance from his throne. Piet Retief and the other white visitors refused to succumb to such an indignity, and stood in the presence of the king. They noted that Dingaan was entirely hairless. He was shaved every day and was described as having an abhorrence of human hair. He wore many ornaments on his head and his body was rubbed daily with fat to make him appear like polished ebony.

Warnings from the Missionaries
Acting as the king's secretary was Rev. Francis Owen of the Church Missionary Society. Most of what we know concerning the meetings of Piet Retief with Dingaan come from Owen’s diary. Piet Retief first reached Mgundgundlovu on 5 November 1837. The king entertained him with war dances by thousands of his warriors. Owen warned him of the countless cruelties, tortures and executions that he had been forced to witness. However, Piet Retief seemed most impressed with the "sincerity", "graciousness", "intelligence", and "goodwill" of Dingaan.

After seeking to impress Retief for two days with parades of his regiments and herds, Dingaan informed Retief that he was willing to grant the Trekkers the territory his armies had depopulated across the Tugela, and around Port Natal - on condition that Piet Retief should return the cattle, which had been taken by Sikonyela and his Batlokoa people. As they had come on horseback and dressed in clothes, Sikonyela's people had been assumed to be Boers. To prove that the trekkers were not in any way responsible for Sikonyela's cattle raid, he required them to deal with this chief.

The CMS missionary, Francis Owen, warned Piet Retief that he was wasting his time, for Dingaan was utterly inconsistent and had already granted the desired territory to the English government through John Gardiner. However, Piet Retief regarded the expedition against Sikonyela as necessary for the vindication of their honour. Owen questioned how a man of Retief's intelligence could attach any value to any promise made by a tyrant like Dingaan.

When Piet Retief later gave an enthusiastic account of the splendours of Dingaan, his kindness and boundless hospitality, American missionary Rev. George Champion declared: "I have known Dingaan for two years Mr Retief, and I know full well what a dangerous character he is. I can only see disaster should you visit him again." Rev. Kirkwood also warned Retief of Dingaan's intention to have him put to death as "a wizard." But Retief brushed all their warnings aside declaring: "Have no apprehension on my account!"

Sikonyela and the Batlokoa
Chief Sikonyela was described as a man who always caused trouble. He was the son of a famous warrior queen Ma Ntatisa. He had done his share of devastating the country along the Caledon River. The remnants of the devastated tribes he moulded into the Batlokoa. Cattle raids were part of the African way of life and both Sikonyela and many of the trekkers questioned Retief's actions as contrary to his own code of behaviour by interfering in inter-tribal affairs. However, Retief felt himself justified in taking action, if these people had indeed posed as Boers. Retief managed to avoid bloodshed by using a pair of handcuffs to restrain Sikonyela and then declaring that he was "under arrest" and they would only take the handcuffs off if he returned the stolen cattle. Sikonyela was kept prisoner for three days while the seven hundred cattle were rounded up and identified by the accompanying Zulus.

Failing to Heed Advice
A passing trader warned Piet Retief of Dingaan’s planned treachery against him upon his return. Fellow trek leader Gert Maritz repeatedly warned Piet Retief not to return to Dingaan declaring: “I do not trust Dingaan!” But, every attempt to dissuade Piet Retief was brushed aside. Maritz reminded him of the murder of Anders Stockenstrom in 1811 while having friendly talks with a band of Xhosas.

Gullible's Travels
Piet Retief, with almost a hundred followers, arrived at Mgundgundlovu on Saturday 3 February. He was rebuked by Dingaan for having released Sikonyela unharmed. Dingaan was shocked that Retief had not executed him, or at least brought him to the Zulu capital for execution.

He then requested the Boers to make a demonstration of their war dances on their horses. The trekkers staged an impromptu charge on horseback in the royal arena, making the air resound with the sound of their muskets. Dingaan and his subjects had never seen anything like it and were plainly shocked at the speed and agility of the Boers on horseback and the deafening sound of their muskets. The missionary warned Retief that his display was entrenching the fear of Dingaan that he was a wizard and a threat that must be eradicated.

However, when Dingaan agreed to sign the document drawn up by Retief to cede the territory between the Tugela and Umzimvubu Rivers to the trekkers, Retief felt that all of his trust in the word of Dingaan was fulfilled. This document was placed in his leather briefcase with great relief.

However, the CMS missionary, Rev. Owen, was most disturbed that Retief and his followers had missed the Sunday morning church service on 4 February, for these formalities for the king. Retief later said that he had forgotten what day of the week it was.

On Monday the trekkers were treated to an endless display of war dances and military manoeuvres by Dingaan's Impis. Dingaan was described as "a master showman" with his entertainment the most spectacular ever seen in the sub-continent. Dingaan again asked for a display of the Boers war tactics on horseback. The Zulus sat stunned at the speed and perfect control of the men with their rifles on horseback.

Defenceless Before Dingaan
On Tuesday morning William Wood, a young English trader fluent in Zulu, who was visiting the Owens, warned Retief that "your entire party will be massacred before the day is out." As the Retief party struck camp and were preparing to leave, they were invited to a final farewell display. For this they were requested to leave their firearms, bandoleers and powder horns outside the gates of the kraal. Incredibly, they acceded to this demand. Leaving their firearms outside the kraal, they walked defenceless into the arena of Dingaan's kraal. After ominous war dances which increased in volume and intensity, Dingaan stood up and shouted "Babulaleni abathakathi!" ("kill the wizards!").

Cold Blooded Murder
From across the stream on the opposite hillside, Francis Owen was reading the New Testament when a messenger rushed up to inform him that Dingaan had decided to kill the Boers but he was not to be concerned. Owen looked with horror as he saw an immense multitude, "about nine or ten Zulus to each Boer were dragging the helpless unarmed victims to the fatal spot" on the hill of execution. Many of the Boers were impaled on assegais, and they were all clubbed to death. Piet Retief's young son was killed before his eyes. Amongst the dead was their interpreter, Thomas Halstead, the only Englishman of the party. The various missionaries and traders who had warned Piet Retief repeatedly questioned how such an intelligent and experienced man as Piet Retief could have been so thoroughly deceived, even mesmerized, by the tyrant Dingaan. Soon, the sky above the hill of execution was black with vultures. The heart and liver of Piet Retief was brought to Dingaan, but the rest of the corpses were left out in the open on the hill of execution to later be discovered along with Retief's blood-stained leather case containing the signed treaty with Dingaan. It was almost ten years since Dingaan had murdered his half-brother Shaka to assume the chieftainship.

Massacre at Midnight
About noon on that fateful Tuesday, 6 February, Rev. Owen saw Dingaan send out a huge army in the direction from where the Boers had come. There was no doubt that even worse was to come. In the early hours of 17 February, ten thousand Zulu warriors attacked the sleeping Voortrekkers between the Bushman’s the Blaauwkrants Rivers. There was no moon that night and it was pitch dark. Trekkers awoke to the sounds of their dogs barking. Wave after wave of Zulu warriors were stabbing men, women and children, wiping out whole families.

Fighting for their Lives
The followers of Gert Maritz were more cautiously laagered and better prepared to defend themselves. However, the followers of Piet Retief were spread out and most vulnerable. Sarel Cilliers and Gert Maritz led charges to rescue fleeing trekkers. Women and children, even as young as ten years old, fought tenaciously, selling their lives dearly. Marthinus Oosthuizen charged through the mass of Zulus to a wagon for ammunition and then back again to re-supply the beleaguered Van Rensburgs surrounded on a hill.

Devastation
Fighting continue until the afternoon of the 17th when the Zulu army retreated, taking over 25,000 cattle, and many horses and sheep, with them. Many hundreds of the Zulu attackers had been killed in the fierce fighting. As the Voortrekkers began to count up their own dead, they grieved over the loss of 185 of their children murdered. Of the women 56 were dead - this included even grandmothers - many with multiple assegai wounds. The murdered men numbered 40. Incredibly, some women who had been horribly stabbed were found alive amongst the piles of dead. Johanna van der Merwe and Margarita Prinsloo had each survived despite 20 assegai wounds, and Klasina Le Roux with 17 stab wounds.

Weenen
As Gert Maritz organized a mass burial of the slain trekkers, the sky was full of circling vultures and the sounds of weeping could be heard throughout the area. The Boers later founded a town at the site of the massacre which was named Weenen (The Place of Weeping).

Ambushed at the Buffalo River
On 6 April a counter-attack by a Boer commander led by the two rival leaders Piet Uys and Andries Potgieter was ambushed across the Buffalo River at Italeni. A British expedition from Port Natal rushed to assist the beleaguered trekkers, but ten of the Commando were killed, including Piet Uys and his brave son Dirkie who kept fighting by his father's side to the very end. As this commando retreated it became known as the Vlugcommando (the fleeing commando).

Disaster
It was the darkest time of despair for the Voortrekkers. Death, disaster and dissention seemed to doom their ambitious enterprise.

Andries Pretorius Comes from the Transvaal
With the arrival of Andries Pretorius from the Transvaal, there was fresh hope. The widow of Piet Retief declared of Andries Pretorius: "This man has been sent by God. He will help us obtain justice." Andries Pretorius was a dynamic pistol packing farmer from Graaf Reinet. He was described as a tall, imposing figure in a well cut suit, with a pistol and a cutlass at his belt. He also came with 60 Transvaal volunteers for the Wencommando that he intended to organize. At an assembly of the Volksraad, Pretorius was elected Commandant General.

The Wencommando
Within a couple of days, he was heading out with 464 men, and 64 wagons, to engage the Zulus. Pretorius adopted the motto Eendragt Maakt Magt (unity is strength). (These words were to become the motto of the Transvaal Republic.) All in the Wencommando (The Victory Commando) were lectured on discipline, Christian conduct, decency, integrity, compassion and courage. As God's soldiers their conduct had to be of a high standard. The chaplain, Sarel Cilliers, who was widely respected as a man of God, and who had proved himself in battle at Vegkop, ensured strict religious observance with daily devotions and prayer times where the men were required to kneel.

On the move the 64 wagons travelled in four rows so as not to make the column too long for the vanguards and rear guards to protect from ambush. Every night their laager was drawn up, sentries posted, inspections held, and defensive drills practiced. Scouting patrols were sent out every day to ascertain the whereabouts of the Zulu army, and to identify any potential threats.

The Covenant
As the Tugela River was flood, the Wencommando crossed near Spioenkop. At Waschbank, on Sunday 9 December, Sarel Cilliers stood on a gun carriage before the men had who assembled for worship and he proposed a solemn vow: "My brethren and fellow countrymen, at this moment we stand before the Holy God of Heaven and earth to make a promise. If He will be with us and protect us and deliver the enemy into our hands so that we may triumph over him, that we may observe the day and the date as an anniversary in each year and a day of Thanksgiving like the Sabbath, in His honour; and that we shall enjoin our children that they must take part with us in this, for remembrance even for our posterity; and if anyone sees a difficulty in this, let them return from this place. For the honour of His Name shall be joyfully exalted, and to Him the fame and the honour of the victory must be given."

All the English volunteers joined with the Afrikaans Voortrekkers in taking this Vow. From 9th December the Vow was repeated every evening, up until the night of the 15th, during evening services when Psalms were sung and prayers were offered.

Confronting the Zulu
There was a calm deliberation amongst the men of the Wencommando. They knew that they were going up against the most formidable force in Africa at that time. Up to that point, the Zulu Impis had never been beaten. They knew that Dingaan had over 20,000 warriors that he could throw at them. They were only 464, and this being 1838, they only had smooth ball muskets, which required 30 to 40 seconds to reload. And they knew charging Zulu warriors could cover a lot of ground in that time.

To the Ncome River
On Saturday the 15th of December the Commando crossed the Buffalo River and outspanned between the Buffalo River and the Ncome River. Two scouts reported that they had seen a huge Zulu army only half an hour ride away. Pretorius inspected the terrain for a suitable laager site and he sensed God's guidance for there was a perfect spot on the other side of the Ncome. On its western bank there was a deep hippopotamus pool and a large donga, or gully. The laager was set up making use of these natural defensive features on two sides. The 64 wagons were firmly lashed together with two battle gates secured at the two openings where the canon were placed. The back of the D-formation was set against the donga, and the semi-circle faced towards the open plain. Candles were set out everywhere and lanterns suspended over the wagons on the long whip handles, to prevent the Zulus from approaching the laager unseen in the night. As Sarel Cilliers led the Commando in repeating the Vow for the last time, and then in singing the Psalms, the Zulus had moved within earshot and could hear their strange singing and see the eerily lit laager.

To Beat the Unbeatable Foe
It was a suspenseful moonless night. Two hours before dawn the trekkers were at their posts. A veil of mist lifted and a perfect day broke. There was not a cloud in the vivid blue sky and there was no wind. It was a day of crystal clarity. As the mist lifted the Boers saw the entire Zulu army seated facing them with their shields in front. The front row of the Zulus was only 40 paces away from the half-moon of wagons. Row after row of Zulu regiments were grouped according to the colour of their shields. There were between 12,000 and 15,000 Zulu's surrounding the laager.

Fear God Alone
"Do not fear their numbers, we can deal with them", shouted Pretorius. As warriors were moving into position to attack from the donga in the rear, Commandant Pretorius decided to seize the initiative and he ordered his men to open fire immediately. Before the Zulus could even begin their intimidating war dances the roar of gunfire shattered the early morning peace. The day began in furious battle with Zulus yelling, hissing, smashing their assegais against their shields, thunderously stamping the ground with their feet, charging the laager at full speed. The two little canon cut swathes through the Zulu ranks, and the deadly aim of the Boer Commandos took their toll. As a mass of Zulus tried to scale the donga and assault the rear of the laager, Sarel Cilliers led his men to cut them down.

Taunting the Enemy
As the Zulus retreated out of range to about 500 metres, Pretorius sent out his brother and an interpreter to taunt the Zulus: "What are you doing, men of Dingaan? We have come to fight men, not women and children! Why don’t you attack?"

Facing the Zulu Tidal Wave
The Zulus leapt up to attack, drumming their shields, yelling, whistling, hissing and swept in a black wave down upon the wagons. This was the longest charge of the two-hour battle. Muzzles were becoming dangerously hot, wagons bristled with assegais, but the strategic positioning of the laager was frustrating the assaults of the Zulus. The closer they got to the wagons, the more they were funnelled and compressed by the river and the donga until they were tripping into one another and stumbling over their earlier casualties. Their losses were becoming enormous, yet without achieving anything. Never in the experience of their warrior nation had anything like this happened to them before.

Charging the Enemy
Andries Pretorius sensed a change in the tempo of the battle and ordered a charge form the laager. He had the two canon dragged out and fired from the front. Then he led a charge into the middle of the Zulu Impi. For the first time in history a Zulu Impi broke and fled. The cohesion on which the Zulu Impis was based was shattered. The Zulus began to flee across the Ncome River, many drowning in the process. As Pretorius fired on one Zulu his horse reared and threw him off. A Zulu lunged at him and Pretorius managed to ward off the assegai with his rifle. As the Zulu struck again Pretorius was thrust through his left hand. He pinned the Zulu to the ground and grappled hand to hand until the warrior was stabbed with his own assegai.

Pursuing the Enemy
On the other side Sarel Cilliers led a commando charge that put to flight the other section of the Zulu army. The mounted Boers pursued the fleeing Zulus, shooting at them as long as their bullets lasted, and firing pebbles when all their bullets were exhausted. Over 3,000 Zulu dead were counted around the laager. Yet not one Voortrekker had been killed, although several were wounded.

Thanksgiving
As the sun set the exhausted Commando members returned for a service of Thanksgiving and for their first meal of the day. Then they had to clean their muskets and cast bullets for the final push to track down Dingaan at Mgundgundlovu.

The Remains of Retief
By the 20th December the Zulu capital was sighted. It was ablaze from one end to the other. Dingaan had fled and set fire to his own capital. When the grizzly remains of Piet Retief and his 100 followers was discovered on KwaMatiwane they saw the legs and arms still tied with thongs, the impaling sticks still visible. Next to the remains of Piet Retief lay his water bottle and leather satchel which still contained Dingaan's signed and witnessed agreement for the cession of Natal. On Christmas Day the remains of these victims were all gathered and buried in a communal grave at the foot of the koppie.

Reaping the Whirlwind
The Zulu kingdom fell into a civil war and Dingaan was overthrown by his half-brother Mpande.

Loving their Enemies
It is remarkable that, despite the treachery that the Boers had endured at the hands of the Zulu, and the massacres of so many unsuspecting women and children on the banks of the Blaauwkrans River, that no atrocities were committed by the Boers in retaliation. Instead, the Biblical injunction to love their enemies was fulfilled by the vigorous missionary work which was established by the Reformed Church in Zululand, establishing schools, hospitals, churches and orphanages, even within sight of where Piet Retief and his followers were so brutally murdered. In the century and a half since that original Day of the Covenant, many millions of Zulus have come to Christ and Zululand has been blessed by Revival. In a very real sense all of that began with the Covenant proposed by Sarel Cilliers, and enthusiastically adopted by the Wencommando.

Set Free to Serve Christ
Just as the descendants of the Vikings can look back to their one-time enemy King Alfred the Great as their Spiritual father who brought the first Vikings to the Lord after defeating them in battle, so the Zulus and the Afrikaners and English, with whom they had once been locked in deadly battle, are now united in Christ. With the defeat of Dingaan, and later Ceteswayo, the power of the witchdoctors was also broken and the Spiritual liberation of the Zulu people began. As the Lord promised in Genesis 22:17: "…thy seed shall possess the gates of his enemies…" Jesus Christ is building His Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Blessed in Order to be a Blessing
God’s promise to Abraham is being fulfilled to this day: "I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and ye shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Genesis 12:2-3

Dr. Peter Hammond
Reformation Society

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

WHAT CHRISTMAS REALLY MEANS

WHAT CHRISTMAS REALLY MEANS


"Even though we all know that Christmas is about the birth of the Savior, it’s easy to get caught up in the cultural approach to the holiday and switch off Jesus. While there’s nothing wrong with dreaming of a white Christmas or having a Christmas tree, or giving gifts to one another, the real meaning of Christmas deals with a much more urgent matter, namely, salvation."

This special Christmas message by Steven J. Cole puts it all into perspective. Please make the time to read this, as it is most probably the best message you will hear this Christmas. Just click on the link below.

Kindest regards,
RUDIE VAN HEERDEN (Active for Jesus Media Mission)

What Christmas Really Means

JESUS WHO CAME IS COMING AGAIN

I gladly share this post, as received from Johan Terblanche (Christ Alone Ministries)
Have a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2017







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“JESUS WHO CAME IS COMING AGAIN”

Soon the world will be celebrating Christmas. We, as true believers, followers of Christ will not celebrate the date on which Jesus is said to be born. Instead we will be able to celebrate the coming of the Lord, His life, His death and His resurrection. We will have yet another opportunity to celebrate the love of a merciful God, and His only begotten Son. 
In Scripture we read that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) but we also see Jesus prepared to come down to earth to show the greatest kind of love by being prepared to lay down His life on an old rugged cross on Calvary’s hill. 
When Jesus was born on that very special morn, Love became Man. When Jesus walked the face of the Earth, Love walked. When Jesus touch the broken, healed the sick and raised the dead, Love touched. When Jesus died on Calvary, Love gave up life so that we may be saved. 
But I don’t want to dwell too long on that which has happened. Instead I wish to emphasize that He who came is coming back again. One day soon we will see Him. And the question I need to ask is whether we will be ready for that day, when the clouds will burst open and the brightest light of day will seem like darkness when compared with the light of His glory. Will we be ready to be taken up with Him where forever we will share in His eternal, everlasting, never failing love? 

Love caused Jesus to come to earth some 2000 years ago. Love will bring Him back again. In this time of remembrance let us also reflect on the condition of our soul and if need be; let us give Him the greatest gift we can, let us give him our lives. Let us surrender anew to Him, to Jesus who came and who’s coming back again. 

Johan Terblanche
Christ Alone Ministries

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

BEDIENING NUUSBRIEF - Desember 2016 - Die Waarde in Storms







 Liewe Vriende

            Dit is nogal ironies dat ‘n mens hom-/haarself eers midde in ‘n lewensbedrygende storm moet bevind, alvorens mens die stem van die Here weer duidelik kan hoor, of dalk is dit meer korrek om te sê “alvorens mens die stem van die Here weer duidelik WIL hoor”. Onthou julle ook nog daardie bekende kanselkleed wat elke Sondag dit vir elkeen in die erediens so duidelik uitgespel het: “So Spreek die Here”? Daardie woorde het sommer baie goed gesê, soos byvoorbeeld dat die boodskap wat van daardie kansel af verkondig word 100% Woord-getrou is, dat dit die Waarheid is en dat daardie boodskap deur die Heilige Gees geinspireer en gegee is. Om dus daar te staan en ‘n boodskap te lewer is nie iets wat ligtelik opgeneem moet word nie. Dit is ‘n saak van erns. Ek moet seker wees!
          Dieselfde geld egter ook ons bedieninge en wat ons doen. Mens sê soms baie maklik dat hierdie ding wat ek doen en mee besig is van die Here af is. Hy het my vir hierdie taak/bediening geroep. As ek nou ‘n kanselkleed daaroor kon hang sou die bewoording dan iets wees soos “So Lei die Here my”. Maar is ek seker daarvan, of doen ek hierdie ding maar net omdat dit oor my pad gekom het en ek gedink het dit is ‘n goeie idee of ‘n goeie geleentheid? Of ek nou preek en of ek nou doen, as ek die Here se Naam daaraan koppel, moet ek 100% seker wees dat ek 100% in die Here se wil is, anders is ek eintlik maar net besig met my eie ding met my eie agenda met my eie planne en doelwitte en uitkomste. Ek het hierdie selfde fout al hoeveel keer in my eie lewe gemaak. Elke keer was ek daarvan oortuig dat die Here my lewe en bediening in ‘n nuwe rigting stuur of my nuwe geleenthede gee, net om later agter te kom dat ek eintlik God se pad byster geraak het......gewoonlik in en na ‘n storm wat losgebars het, want storms doen gewoonlik 5 dinge:

1. Dit maak jou bewus van jou eie onvermoeë en magteloosheid om vanuit eie krag iets aan die situasie te doen.
2. Dit bring jou tot stilstand.
3. Dit maak jou stil.
4. Dit maak jou luister.
5. Dit bring jou lewe weer op koers.




Jona het ‘n lewensbedrygende storm in sy lewe nodig gehad om sy rigting van Tarsis na Nineve te verander, maar eers moes hy in die see gegooi word om tot stilstand te kom en toe deur ‘n vis ingesluk word om stil te word en sy ore oop te kry sodat hy WIL luister. (Jona 1 en 2)

Hoe lyk die storm wat vandag in jou lewe woed? Is dit al fel genoeg om te besef dat jy meer as net jou eie “slimkop” nodig het? Is dit al fel genoeg om jou tot stilstand en stilswye te dwing? Is dit al fel genoeg om jou te laat uitroep “Here, ek WIL luister!”? Wat van die kerk vandag? Meer as net een storm woed vandag binne die kerk, maar is daardie storm al lewensbedrygend genoeg vir die kerk om haar eie swakheid en onvermoeë te besef en dit te verstaan? Is die krag van die storms genoeg om ons tot stilstand te ruk sodat ons vir ‘n oomblik net kan afvra “Waarmee is ons besig? In watter rigting vaar ons?” Is dit al fel genoeg om ons eie mooi praatjies en redenasies stil te maak sodat God kan praat? En as Hy praat, WIL ons regtig luister? En as ons luister, WIL ons regtig gehoorsaam wees en sê “So Spreek die Here”. Wat van ons land? Wat van die wêreld? Ons moet dieselfde vrae vra!
‘n Onlangse storm in my lewe het my ook weer bewus gemaak van my eie kwesbaarheid en swakheid. Ek is ook tot stilstand gedwing en al my verskonings en mooi praatjies en redes en motiverings het ook stil geraak. Dit was ook vir my tyd om te luister....en ek wou....maar ek wou God hoor en Hom alleen. Nee, nie die kennis en ervaring en belewenis en Skrif-interpretasies van mense nie. Net een stem wou ek hoor. God se stem!

Die stad Munchen in Duitsland was vir meer as twee weke my
‘Jona-vis’ waar ek kon stilstaan, stilbly en luister. Daar het die
Here my ontmoet. Ek het geluister. Hy het gepraat.

Daar in die vreemde, weg van alles, aan Sy voete, in Sy Woord, kon ek weer perspektief en koers kry....in die regte rigting.....God se rigting.....en hier so aan die einde van ‘n oujaar en op die drumpel van ‘n nuwe, gesels ek weekliks, vanaf 30 November 2016 tot 04 Januarie 2017, in VOETSTAPPE op WoomaNet Radio (www.wooma.net) en deelnemende radiostasies, oor al diè dinge wat God met my oor gepraat het, maar ook vir almal noodsaaklik is om te hoor, te weet en te verstaan. Ek nooi jou om saam met my, so aan die voete van Jesus, die oujaar uit te stap die nuwejaar binne. Moet dit nie misloop nie!

BEDIENINGSNUUS

Net noudie dag vra ‘n vriend vir my: “Wat dryf jou so?” So ‘n kort vraag het altyd ‘n lang antwoord. Daar was ‘n tyd in my lewe, voordat ek die Here geken het soos ek Hom vandag ken, dat my hele lewe net oor myself en my eie suksesse gegaan het. Geloof, en in besonder geloof in Jesus Christus, was ‘n bysaak. Dit was daar, maar dit was nie belangrik nie. So het ek bykans 30 jaar van my lewe geleef, ‘n totaal verlore gelowige. Ek het God nie gaan soek nie. Hy het my kom soek. Toe Hy my vind het Hy my nie net daar gelos waar ek was nie, ook nie soos ek was nie. Hy het alles kom verander. Daarvoor sal ek Hom ewig dankbaar wees. Soos ek in hierdie wêreld rondbeweeg sien en beleef ek duisende mense wat net so verlore is vandag soos ek destyds was. God het nie Sy rug op my gedraai nie. Hy het bemoeienis met my gemaak en iemand oor my lewenspad gestuur wat vir my kom sê en wys het “God soek na jou. Hy het jou lief en Hy het ‘n plan vir jou lewe!” Kan ek enigsins anders doen? Een persoon wat gehoorsaam was aan die Here het redding en hoop en lewe vir my gebring... betyds....en sonder dat ek dit verdien het. Dis Genade...ook vir ander... dit dryf my!

Deur hierdie selfde onverdiende genade van die Here was dit steeds deurlopend vir my moontlik om, nie teenstaande die “storm”, weekliks voort te gaan met die ontwikkeling, voorbereiding en produksie van Voetstappe, Nuwe Hoop (Dr. Hennie Brits) en die maandelikse Christelike boekoorsigte (Boekrak Bonus/Bonus Books) vir WoomaNet Radio en die huidige 11 deelnemende radiostasies. Vanaf Januarie 2017 begin ek ook met die produksie van ‘n nuwe maandelikse insig-program, Perspektief / Perspective. Die doel van diè program is om dit wat in die wêreld om ons gebeur en oor gepraat word, in perspektief te plaas in die lig van die Skrif, die Woord van God.



        
Met die bediening se internetportaal, WoomaNet (www.wooma.net), gaan dit ook goed. Duisende luisteraars in nou al meer as 80 lande besoek maandeliks diè webwerf . Die toevoeging van die weeklikse “Salt and Light” radioprogram (Dr. Peter Hammond, Frontline Fellowship) tot die amptelike WoomaNet Radio programskedule, is ook baie goed ontvang. Al ons radio-programme word ook via WoomaNet Radio se Twitter profiel (‘woomanetradio’), Facebook-blad (‘WorldOutreachMedia’ en ‘Voetstappe-Footsteps’), asook SoundCloud kanaal (WoomaNet Radio) beskikbaar gestel en geluister. 

          Gedurende Desember moet daar ook weer dringende instandhoudingswerk aan die ateljee en toerusting gedoen word. Die huidige Adobe Audition sagteware, wat vir al die produksiewerk gebruik word, gee die laaste ruk heelwat probleme en laat my nou met geen ander keuse as om so spoedig moontlik op te gradeer nie. Die ateljeerekenaar moet ook  volledig gediens en sekere elemente moet nou, na bykans 8 jaar, vervang en opgradeer word. Dit is egter vir my nog ‘n ernstige gebedsaak, aangesien daar nie tans fondse beskikbaar is nie. Na nog ‘n “duur” poging lyk dit darem asof ons nou suksesvol was om die ateljee en kantoor se dak effektief geseel te kry. Die volgende stap is nou om die hele dak twee of drie lae verf te gee ten einde die seelwerk se leeftyd te verleng en alles weer mooi netjies te laat lyk. Ongeveer 20-30 liter dakverf word hiervoor benodig. Ek was ook genoodsaak om laasweek 4 nuwe bande op die bedieningsvoertuig te sit aangesien die vorige bande nie meer binne die wettige perk was nie en dus ook nie veilig nie. Bid asb. saam vir voorsiening.

GESINSNUUS

 2016 met sy vele uitdagings was vir ons as gesin ‘n baie moeilike jaar, maar tog ook ‘n jaar wat sy oorvloed van seëninge ingehou het. Eerstens was dit Renier se finale skooljaar, sy matriekjaar, wat sy eie eise gestel het. Boonop het die jaar afgeskop met vele finansiële uitdagings en het ek ook gedurende Maart/April met my gesondheid begin sukkel (so in die stilligheid). Net na afloop van die Junie eksamens het Renier siek geword (ek glo nie hy was al ooit so siek in sy lewe nie) en op 23 Julie het ek in die hospitaal opgeëindig. Alhoewel dit deesdae met my gesondheid sommer al weer baie beter gaan, het Renier maar bly sukkel met sy gesondheid en was hy die afgelope week weer baie siek. Dit gaan egter alweer baie beter en het hy eergister (Maandag) sy laaste matriekvraestel geskryf. Ek vertrou dat daar nou ook vir hom volle genesing sal kom.
          Ons het egter ook so baie om voor dankbaar te wees. Nie teenstaande die finansiële uitdagings, wat aan die begin van 2016 maar baie duister was, het die Here ons maand vir maand deurgedra en in al ons behoeftes voorsien. Ons is dankbaar dat ons hierdie jaar saam met Talitha haar 21ste verjaardag kon vier en saam met Renier sy 18de. Ons is dankbaar dat Talitha haar 3de jaar op universiteit met uitstekende uitslae kon voltooi en dat dit ook baie goed gegaan het met Renier se matriekjaar. Ek is dankbaar vir my gesondheid wat vandag soveel beter is, maar ook vir die groot bederf en ‘gesond word tyd’ wat ek in Duitsland kon deurbring en waarvoor die Here deur ‘n kosbare vriend (ek sal nooit vergeet wat hy vir my gedoen en beteken het nie) voorsien het. Ek is dankbaar vir my gesin wat deur ‘n moeilike tyd my met soveel liefde en omgee bygestaan en versorg en bemoedig het. Vir vriende en familie wat ondersteuning gegee het. Ek is dankbaar vir Venessa wat gelukkig is in haar beroep as Maatskaplike Werker en vir die wonderlike werk wat sy ook daar doen. Ek is dankbaar dat, na alles, ek nog steeds kan voortgaan om my uit te leef in die bediening wat die Here my gegee het en waarvoor ek so lief is. Ek is dankbaar vir tweede kanse. Ek is dankbaar vir ‘n liefdevolle God en Vader wat jare gelede my kom soek het, my Sy kind gemaak het en tot vandag toe vir my en al my geliefdes veilig in Sy hand toevou, beskerm en versorg, al stel ons Hom soms teleur.
          Kersfees 2016 is vir my ‘n dankbaarheidsfees. Dit is mos wat Kersfees elke jaar moet wees, is dit nie? Dankbaarheid vir daardie Godskind wat meer as 2000 jaar gelede vir ons gebore is. As dit nie vir Hom, Jesus, was nie, sou die mens tot vandag toe nie die Vader geken het nie en sou ons ook nie met Hom kon versoen nie. Mag hierdie feestyd ook vir elkeen van julle ‘n Dankfees wees, ‘n geleentheid vir terugskou op die jaar 2016 met sy oorvloed van genade op genade. Mag 2017 vir julle voorspoedig wees met ‘n oorloop-maat van genade en seën uit die Here se hand. 
Met baie liefde en waardering,
Rudie, Venessa, Talitha en Renier van Heerden
Posbus 628  Paardekraal  1752  RSA – 011 660 2590 / 082 560 2980 – info@wooma.net / active@wooma.net – www.wooma.net
Om die bediening van Aktief vir Jesus Media Sending/WoomaNet te ondersteun:
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