My sister’s funeral pamphlet.
My sister, Dorothy, who was 12 years older than I am, died in a motor car accident 2 Mondays ago on 15 August 2011, at approximately 18:15. The family asked me to preach at the funeral service which was held yesterday, 26 August 2011.
My plan from the beginning was to preach the gospel, just like I did 11 years ago at my father’s funeral. So, that is what I prepared. Most of my family are still unbelievers, and I believe that my sister was also an unbeliever. She never expressed any belief in Christ, and neither has any of her children. My hope is that in those last moments before she passed away she had an opportunity to cry out to God.
So, the preparation for the sermon went well, and my niece informed me where the funeral would be held at (NG Kerk, Geduld – Dutch Reformed Church in Geduld, Springs, South Africa). The church is on the corner of 3rd Str and First Ave in Geduld.
What was supposed to be a time of remembering my sister, turned out to be a harrowing experience for my family and me. As we drove into Geduld (which means patience-which I do not have a lot of), I swopped the Str and Ave around and ended getting us in the complete wrong area in Springs. And, for anyone who knows Springs, it is a horrible place when it comes to street names. Almost all streets are named 1st, 2nd, 3rd Street, Avenue, Road, and as a result you can be anywhere in that town, and think that you are in the right place, while you are actually totally lost without knowing it.
At 00:30 this morning I received a call from my niece, who is in her mid thirties now, that my sister, Dorothy, had died in a motor vehicle accident two hours before on her way back from a visit to Kwa-Zulu Natal. My sister, my nephew (40), and my nephew’s wife were in the car. My nephew got a few bumps, scrapes and bruises, but his wife is serious and in hospital in the town (Standerton) close to which they had the accident. They were still several hours away from home in Springs. I still do not have all the details as to how the accident happened, but that is not really that important. What is important is that I lost one of my sisters. She was 60 years old.
Life is so fleeting, just like a flower that stands beautifully one day, and then withers and dies the next. Death cannot be planned (apart from suicide), and when it comes, it is hardly ever expected.
Of course, nothing said, can take away the pain and sadness of losing someone we loved, but the fact that someone cares enough to actually try to say something is half the race won! It is in times like these that friends and others should contact those that have been left behind, even if just to listen. I remember, 11 years ago, when my dad died while we were still living in Columbus, Ohio, what brought me comfort was simply to talk about him, how I felt, and that someone actually took the time to listen to me.
Well, this morning, I decided to inform family and friends, and our head pastor, Heinz Schrader, and our home group leader, Athol van Noorden. The amazing thing, and with true pastoral concern, driven by his own love for Jesus, the first person that called me as I was driving on my way to work, was Heinz! It was a true blessing, and indeed hope inspiring that Heinz, who has many other things to tend to, took the time, almost immediately, to give me a call and to speak life giving words to me. His encouragement and empathy came through so clearly, and I am so thankful for the time he took to encourage me, and also to listen to me. A few minutes later, Athol, my home group leader, was the second person to call to also give his condolences, to encourage me, and to inform me that they as a family had already prayed for mine. These two men indeed walk with the love of Christ in their hearts and I deeply appreciate their love toward me and my family.
I would just like to say thank you to both Heinz and Athol, for caring enough and for loving enough, to pick up the phone to be part of this walk with me. I truly love you guys!
Paul, the apostle by Rembrandt (1635)
As we continue living, we come to realize how frail we are, and many times those frailties can get us down and influence those around us. I have back problems, severe degenerative spinal disease (you can read about it here). Of course, it can greatly impact my mood on the day. When I wake up in pain, like I did today, it slows me down considerably, and can sometimes make me real grumpy. Instead of responding in love to my family, my replies will be short and unkind at times.
At least, my mood at these times is never that bad that everybody just wants to stay out of my way. I simply start withdrawing from people and become quiet. At least, I suppose, it never gets as bad as it truly can, but when it carries with it constant pain for almost 2 months like it did last year, then I want to crawl in a hole and die. It does happen sometimes that I can go for about 10 days without pain. Then it is like heaven on earth. A wonderful streak like that can be brought to an end very abruptly by something as simple as picking up a towel after a shower. A friend of mine said the other day that he was in agony when he hurt his back moving heavy stuff, and that didn’t even last that long! he couldn’t imagine how it must be for me when it carries on for days or weeks!
That brings me to the apostle Paul. Here was a man that suffered for his Lord! Several times he was left for dead after being beaten to within an inch of his life. Paul recounted some of his hardships, and I wonder how I would have taken these hardships. Would I have carried the torch of Christ like Paul did? Or, would I have thrown in the towel?
“23 Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” (2 Cor 11:23-27)
Carl Medearis with Sheikh Nabil Qawouk Hezbollah’s number two leader.
Perhaps we should stop evangelizing because people don’t like us? Maybe it brings division among communities! Maybe because Jesus is the uniter of humanity, and not the divider?
Carl Medearis, former missionary, writing for CNN Belief in an article entitled “My Take: Why evangelicals should stop evangelizing,” feels that we should not evangelize, especially among Muslims, it seems, and rather just getting people to become more like Christ, regardless of their religion.
I have written a few short comments on what I think of Medearis’ “Take” on evangelism. I quote what he says, and then make my short comments.
"It may come as a surprise to many Christians that Muslims are generally open to studying the life of Jesus as a model for leadership because they revere him as a prophet."
The question is, what resources do they use to study the life of Jesus? It certainly is not the New testament, since they have already made up their minds that the New Testament manuscripts have been corrupted countless times. So, it has to be from what the Koran says about Jesus, and… the Koran is dead wrong about Him!
Thanks to Chad Richard Bresson for notifying us of the Think Tank and how to follow it. The Think Tank is an annual event where several proponents of New Covenant Theology come together to discuss NCT and its implications.
For an introduction to New Covenant Theology, click on the image above.
On my way to work this morning I listened to a very good sermon on prayer from Matthew 6:9-13 by Don Green from GraceLife Fellowship. This is a good reminder that our prayer lives cannot be fixed by getting up earlier, or more, or longer, but looking at what initially caused us to stray from prayer. Prayer shows our true devotion and love for Christ. Prayer is a response to the authority of Christ, not just what we want from Him based on our own sinful self-centeredness. We pray not because we are worthy of His presence, but in our sinful state we approach Him because He commanded us to. We do not deserve to be in His presence, so it is only through the shed blood of Christ that we stand before Him in prayer, and we do it because we need to, and because He commanded it.
Listen to this sermon. It is always good for us to be reminded of prayer, and to grow in our love and devotion to Christ.
For more sermons by Don Green, visit GraceLife Pulpit.
Download this sermon here.
I was privileged tonight to be at a private screening/premiere of a movie with a message: Soul Surfer! It is a Christian movie, but before you say, “Oh! Not one of those!”, it has a strong cast, with AnnaSophia Robb (“Bridge to Terabithia”, “Jumper”, “Race to Witch Mountain”), Academy Award winner, Helen Hunt (“What Women Want”, “Pay It Forward”, “Twister”, “Mad About You” TV series), Dennis Quaid (“Frequency”, “The Day After Tomorrow”, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra”), Craig T. Nelson (“The District” TV, “Blades of Glory”, “The Proposal”) and 2005 American Idol winner and star country singer, Carrie Underwood, in her movie debut.
Soul Surfer (see the South African website) is the true life story of Bethany Hamilton, a girl born to surf the waves of the oceans of the world. This is a movie of great hopes for a teenager, set to be a surfing champion, and then experiencing great tragedy in her life when she loses her arm in a shark attack. Yet, with high hopes (and sometimes dashed hopes), through courage, bravery, and faith in her Lord Jesus Christ, she overcomes tragedy, and brings hope to thousands, not just to those around her, but all across the world!
Soul Surfer is a movie that brings tears to your eyes, but also brings joy to your heart as you live through the challenges that Bethany faces and also experience her victories in life.
I know, the movie was in theatres in the U.S. in April already, yet, it will only be released in South Africa on 5 August 2011.
IMHO, this is a must see movie! We were able to take our teenage children with us, and they both walked out there expressing how much they enjoyed the movie. That is something for a teenager!
For those South Africans that would still like to receive an invitation to a private screening of this movie, it will still be shown on 25 July in Cape Town at Ster Kinekor Parow, and in Pretoria at Ster Kinekor Centurion. You can visit Humble Pie Entertainment at this page to follow instructions for an invitation.
It will open at the following cinemas on 5 August 2011:
STER-KINEKOR- P.E.- BRIDGE 2
STER-KINEKOR- GEORGE- GARDEN ROUTE MALL 2
STER-KINEKOR- KOLONNADE CINE 6
STER-KINEKOR- CENTURION CITY 2
STER-KINEKOR- FOURWAYS 4
STER-KINEKOR- CRESTA 5
STER-KINEKOR- EAST RAND MALL 1
STER-KINEKOR- ROSEBANK ZONE 1
STER-KINEKOR- CAPE GATE 2
STER-KINEKOR- BAYSIDE CINE 8
STER-KINEKOR- PAROW 7
STER-KINEKOR- GATEWAY 1
NU METRO- PAVILION 2
NU METRO- P.E- WALMER 4
NU METRO- MENLYN 9
NU METRO- CLEARWATER 3
NU METRO- MONTE CASINO 5
NU METRO- CANAL WALK 13
I listened to a sermon the other day, in which the preacher used Phil 2:5-11, that famous passage on the incarnation of Christ.
In his sermon he mentioned at one point that he wanted to disagree with the ESV in its translation of verse 6, which says:
“who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.”
He felt that the “though” in the ESV wasn’t a good translation and that many translations have “being” in the form of God, making it essentially that it was the very nature of God that made Him give as much as He did, which of course is not wrong theology.
Of course, there have been many debates on the translation of the Greek word here.
UPDATE NOTE: It was brought to my attention by commenter Alan in the comments below that the ESV and the HCSB had been updated since their first releases, which I knew. I just did not check whether Bible Gateway—which I used for the comparisons—had the updated text of these two translations. The thing is, I do have the ESV Study Bible with the updated text and the HCSB Study Bible with the updated text. I just assumed Bible Gateway had the updated texts. I should have checked more closely! Below, I will update the Bible text with the new text, and simply strike through
the old. New comments will be in in bold-italic. However, after rechecking the texts, I only had to change one verse and comment, leaving me at my original conclusion. So, now you may start reading this post.
It definitely is not easy to choose which Bible translation to implement for personal use. Around 1980 I started using the KJV, and at about 1983 I changed to the NIV, while using the KJV as a backup. In 1985 I started Bible school. In my second year we started with Greek, and in that year we covered Greek I, II and III. My average for these 3 Greek modules was 96%. That is not to brag, just to state a fact. Since then I haven’t really kept it up, and so my knowledge of Greek isn’t like it was back then. (I have recently started working through Bill Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek.) During that year, one of our modules was 1 Corinthians, and the lecturer for that used the NASB. I bought myself a copy of the NASB and started studying through major New Testament parts, and by 1987 I switched over to the NASB as my main study translation. That remained the status quo until the ESV was released.
Like many in the Reformed camp, I jumped on the band wagon and switched to the ESV soon after its release in 2003, because of all the recommendations by great Bible scholars and teachers from the Reformed camp. John Piper, for instance, moved from the NASB to the ESV. Piper is a great Greek scholar and would know what to check for. Other scholars and teachers that recommend the ESV are Dr. Darrell Bock, Jerry Bridges, Francis Chan, Kevin DeYoung, Mark Driscoll, Dr. Albert Mohler Jr., Dr. Thomas Schreiner, Dr. R.C. Sproul, Daniel B. Wallace, Dr. John Walvoord, Dr. Ravi Zacharias, and many more. So, as you can see, the list is quite intimidating and formidable.
Recently, the HCSB was recommended to me by a blog writer and pastor. I decided to check it out against the ESV, NASB and NIV. I spent a whole weekend to compare and check, and my results are as follows:
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