Declaring His praises!

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light…” 1 Peter 2:9

It is not uncommon today to hear people described as ‘privileged’ or as ‘underprivileged’, usually with reference to the socio-economic position that they hold in society. We hear of ‘underprivileged’ communities living around our major cities or in the remote areas of our country, people without access to basic needs such as housing, clean water, health care, education, etc. And we hear of the ‘privileged few’ who have easy access to such things and who generally have far more than they actually need. Understandably we also frequently hear that since Government cannot meet the demands of all, it is the moral if not legal duty of the ‘privileged few’ to share with those who are in need. And given that by world standards the majority of us are in fact well off, it is important for us to think about the many who do not have what we have and to work toward improving their situation, whether through job creation, training or acts of charity and generosity.

Sadly we seldom think of ‘privileged’ or ‘underprivileged’ people in spiritual terms. And if we did we would find a very different picture being drawn. When it comes to spiritual privileges those who have much in material terms are often impoverished and those who have little in the world are in fact often rich in the things of God. And here too there is at the very least a moral and spiritual obligation for those who have to share with those who do not. It is precisely this obligation, the obligation to share from a position of privilege that Peter has in mind in the passage quoted above. Speaking to believers in Asia Minor many of whom would have been socially and economically marginalised because of their faith, Peter first reminds them of what they do in fact possess - the spiritual privileges that they and we enjoy as believers in Jesus Christ.

First, every believer has been chosen by God to belong to God’s own people. This privilege of course belonged to Ancient Israel in the Old Testament, but now it has been transferred to Christians. And it is this idea of special belonging that Peter has in mind when he describes Christians as a royal priesthood and a holy nation, terms that God used to describe Israel’s great privilege as His people after He had rescued them from Egypt (see Exodus 19:1-6). Though these terms spoke of the responsibility that Israel had, they were in the first place a description of the unique and very great privilege which they enjoyed – a people belonging to God because of His grace at work in saving them.

It is precisely this saving grace that Peter then goes on to mention in the verses that follow. Christians, says Peter, have been called by God out of spiritual darkness and into His wonderful light (vs9). Christians have been brought by God’s grace into His family even though we were by nature outsiders, excluded from all of His great blessings (vs10). Christians who were lost and unforgiven outside of Christ have now been shown mercy by God, so that in Christ our sins have been forgiven and we have been set free from condemnation. As Peter puts it elsewhere in the letter: “Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are the truly ‘privileged few’ of the world, and as such we share an obligation to those who do not have what we have. In Peter’s words in our text, we possess all that God has given us by His grace “so that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful life.” Rather than judging ourselves by the standards of this world or bemoaning how hard things are we should start to see ourselves in the light of God’s grace and enrich the world with our declaration of His praise!

How are we to do that? Well certainly with our words, not just our words of song but also our words of testimony – testimony to the greatness of God’s mercy and grace in Jesus Christ and to the wonder of belonging to His people - Gospel words spoken to a world in desperate need of good news. From our words would people know that we are Christian and that we are glad to be Christian?

And Peter goes on to say that we declare God’s praises in the way that we live – by doing good in this world, even when our good deeds are misunderstood or rejected (vs12). There are all sort of reasons for doing good in this world, but for Christians the primary one must surely be so that God may be praised and so that those who are the spiritually underprivileged (both the rich and the poor by the standards of this world) might come to share the unique privilege which is ours.

Written by Mervyn Eloff

St. Thomas Heideveld Mission Trip to George

Do you get excited about - kids hearing the gospel; a church reaching out to its community; Christian teenagers being trained in ministry; churches working together in gospel partnership? Well then you would have loved to be at Christ Church George (formerly St. Philips) in the first week of October this year. Six teenagers and two leaders from St. Thomas Heideveld met up with a teen and a leader from Emmanuel PE to run a holiday club with Christ Church volunteers.

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Over the course of three days the kids who came heard the gospel presented clearly as we celebrated Christmas in October and learnt who Jesus was through the stories surrounding his birth. As normal the message was reinforced through quizzes, silly games, talks, crafts, worksheets, dramas, and through the testimony and example of the leaders. Children from Christ Church itself as well as many from the community heard the gospel.

Coming from St. Thomas we are used to opening our gates and having a flood of children pour in during the school holiday. We discovered things are a little different in George. Rev Shaun Hunter had to work hard to advertise the club, through local schools, in shopping malls, and even in an interview on local radio. But that exemplified the attitude of the members of Christ Church that we met, eager to reach those in their community with the momentous news of Jesus Christ. So much so that their weekly kids club is run by two of their ‘recycled teenagers’ (now enjoying retirement) who are convicted that God wants children to hear the gospel and that he commands his followers to tell them. They will be able to follow up the children that we made contact with during the week.

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At St. Thomas we regularly give our senior teenagers the opportunity to serve at the holiday clubs we run in Heideveld. However the mission in George stretched and developed them further than ever. Firstly they needed to work cross-culturally. Coming from the Cape Flats to the suburbs of George they had to think about how to relate and communicate in a different cultural context, and how they could remove all barriers to the gospel. Secondly we trained them to take responsibility for their own small groups, to reinforce the message of the day, get to know the children, and encourage them personally. Serving the Lord out of their comfort zone really forced them to trust him and develop the gifts he’s given them.

Finally although none of the teams from the three churches knew each other beforehand, and came from different backgrounds, we were instantly united as partners in proclaiming the Gospel of our Lord. Members of Christ Church put us up for the week, baked cakes for the kids, and will do the follow up work. The children’s and youth workers from Emmanuel PE put together the club material. The teens from St. Thomas led with enthusiasm and skill. It was great knowing that as we served, prayed, taught and played together we were one family engaged on our Father’s business.

Please join with us in prayer for:-

 - the weekly kids club at Christ Church and their work of discipling children

 - the continued growth of young leaders from St. Thomas and Emmanuel

 - many more gospel partnerships between church families to reach the lost of our country

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Seeing People God's Way

Seeing People

In 2 Corinthians 5vs16 Paul makes the very striking statement: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view”. The statement is made in the context of Paul’s urgent appeal to the Corinthian Christians (and of course to us) to understand the times and to see both ourselves and others in the light of two divinely ordained events. The first of these events, described in 5vs10, is the future day of judgement, a day on which “we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ” to give an account to the Lord “for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad”. Commentators are divided about the exact nature of this judgement. Is it the judgement of believers with a view to the giving or withholding of rewards for service done to Christ, or is it a more general day when all will be judged according to God’s righteous law? On balance it is probably correct to say that Paul has the general judgement of all people in view and that it is precisely the threat that this day holds out for the unforgiven person which motivated his urgency in his appeal to them to be reconciled to God. As a believer, Paul knew what it was “to fear the Lord” (5vs11), and because of this, he took both the reality and the seriousness of divine judgement to heart, especially for those who though created in God’s image and thus accountable to Him, were nevertheless ignorant of His love.

The second event, referred to in 5vs14-15, is the death and resurrection of Jesus. “We are convinced”, says Paul, “that one died for all…” Later in the paragraph (5vs19-21), Paul spells out the great significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. By His death Jesus dealt with the guilt of sin with the result that sin is no longer counted against believers in Christ. But by His death Jesus also dealt with the hostility that existed between people and God because of sin so that through Jesus, we who were God’s enemies can now be reconciled to God. Because of the grace and love of God in Christ, a wonderful exchange thus takes place – “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (5:21). As Paul says elsewhere of Christ, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4vs25).

According to Paul, these events - the death and resurrection of Jesus in the past and the Day of Judgment in the future – should have a radical effect on the way in which we think about ourselves and others. By nature, we see and evaluate ourselves and others from a worldly point of view - in terms of gender, personality, appearance, relationships, gifting, socio-economic status, culture or occupation to name just a few. By nature, and perhaps also as a result of present cultural pressure, we shy away from conversations that encourage people to think about their relationship with God. We may believe in Jesus, but we are reluctant to talk about Him to others. But, says Paul, those who have come to see the truth about the love of God shown in Christ to a world which is under His judgement cannot think or act in this way any longer. As Christians we know what it is to fear the Lord (5:11) and we know the love of Christ (5vs14). As Christians we are convinced that Christ died for all so that no one need remain unforgiven and at enmity with God. And thus as Christians, it is essential that we no longer see people from the world’s point of view, but from God’s point of view and that we therefore “try to persuade men” (5vs11) about the truth of the gospel and implore them on God’s behalf: “be reconciled to God” (5vs20). What is more, the burden we feel for those who are lost is itself a God–given burden, for Paul reminds us that as we speak for Christ to a lost and dying world it is as if God Himself is making His appeal through us!

What an extraordinary salvation Christians enjoy – sins forgiven and relationship with God restored. What an extraordinary privilege we have, to be Christ’s ambassadors holding out His saving message to a world in need. And how urgent the task, for as Paul concludes: “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation”. May the Lord grant that each of us who name His Name, may come to share His burden for the lost, seeing them not as the world sees them but as God Himself does.

Written by Mervyn Eloff

15 Ideas for Songs this Easter

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I asked Nils Holmgren from Tokai Community Church and Rob Booth from St James Kenilworth to share some ideas for new songs that churches could learn in the build up to Easter.

Below are their suggestions. I have no doubt that somewhere in the 15 songs below you will find one that will go down well in your church.

Rob Booth

I've tried to choose a slightly eclectic mix to have something to suit most people from the Getty's to Vertical church band!

So here we go - all written in the last 5 years [3 in the last 3 years]:

1)  Christ is risen, he is risen indeed  - Keith & Kristen Getty and Ed Cash

2)  On the darkest day of all - Resound Worship

3)  Glorious - Paul Baloche

4) Our Hope is alive - Neil & Kate DeGraide - Sovereign Grace Music

5)  How great is the love - Meredith Andrews - Vertical Church band

sung by Heather Headley

Bonus track!!  

This one is not so congregational but a really nice track to either listen to or present as a solo item on an Easter theme.

-  Each day I live - Liv Chapman & Gavin Perkins - Emu Music    -  Preview and lyrics here.

Full track and 'atonement' album available to purchase on itunes

If you want anything else or don't like any of the above; there's always:  Your grace finds me - Matt Redman which has gone down very well at St.James.

and from an African Language side of things:  Uyinkosi Yamakhosi


Nils Holmgren

Here are my suggestions for great Easter songs:

1) Man of sorrows – Hillsong (brilliant anthem on the cross)

2) It is finished – Red Mountain Music (older hymn reworked with a great new melody)

3) Grace and peace – Joel Sczebel (implications of the cross for me)

4) I will rise – Chris Tomlin (beautifully ties Christ’s resurrection to our resurrection hope)

5) Now why this fear – Sovereign Grace (another old hymn given new life)

6) Behold our God – Sovereign Grace (moves from Christ’s eternal majesty through his atonement to finish with his resurrection and exaltation)

7) Glorious Day – Casting Crowns

5 Ways to use Social Media this Easter

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Technology and Social Media has immense potential in the promotion and advance of the Gospel - as Christians connect with their extended networks, the influence of what they share has the opportunity to reach out to many of their friends or followers who don’t yet know Jesus. The following are some ideas or examples of meaningful ways to share through your digital presence.

1. Videos

A number of different publishers are producing videos that share the story of the Gospel and explain its meaning and application. Videos can easily be passed on to friends and the nature of sharing allows a person to watch in their own time. . When the average Facebook user has 130 friends, that's a lot of potential views of a gospel video per Christian!

2. Scripture

Romans 10:17 says “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Take some time leading up to Easter to read through the accounts of the Passion of Jesus Christ in the Gospel and post some excerpts. The same could be done with the rest of the New Testaments commentary on the Cross.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:3-6

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:6-11

And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:39

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:24-25

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:8

3. Seasonal Prayers

Written prayers can be incredibly encouraging and calming for people. Some of the most commented, liked or shared posts that I have had have actually been prayers. These prayers can of course be used year round, but they might have a particular weight with the unchurched during this season.

Lord Jesus Christ, we praise you for your redeeming love and for all that you have done for us. As we bow in penitence before the cross, we gratefully acknowledge the debt we owe. For ours was the sin you bore, ours the ransom you paid, ours the salvation you won. Lord Jesus, accept our thanksgiving and help us to live for the praise of your glory. Amen.

Out of the darkness of Calvary, O holy Son of God, we hear your lonely cry, and we bow in penitence and acknowledge our guilt. You bore our sins in your body on the tree. You were made a curse for us and endured the death that was due to us. Jesus, Lamb of God and Saviour of the world, have mercy upon us, and teach us to know that you were forsaken that we might never be forsaken, but live in the light of God's presence now and evermore. Amen.

Merciful God, who gave your Son to suffer the shame of the cross, save us from hardness of heart, that, seeing him who died for us, we may repent, confess our sin, and receive your overflowing love, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, you have conquered death through your dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant us by your grace to set our mind on things above, so that by your continual help our whole life may be transformed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit in everlasting glory. Amen.

4. Music

Audio and Visual Media can be incredibly effective in communicating a point. Why not share one of your favorite Easter Anthems with your friends. Below are three examples.


 5. Invitations

You can promote Easter services or events through your profile updates…

For example:

"I'd love you to join me at church this Easter. Jesus death and resurrection changed my life forever. Let it change yours…"

"How will you be celebrating Easter this year? If in Cape Town, join me at church!"

If your church has information on its website about the Easter services you could add a link at the end that people can click on to find out more.

These are very simple ways for Christians to extend a potentially life changing invitation. As a church, we're keen to make it as easy as possible for people to invite their friends - and social media provides just one of these opportunities.

May we use the opportunity of the Resurrection Weekend 2014 to make much of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Ideas for Promoting Easter Gatherings 2014

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With the Easter weekend just over two months away it is already time to start planning what you and your church are going to do to make the most of the opportunity that this season presents. Below are some ideas that will hopefully get you thinking about advertising campaigns and content for the actual services.

1. There is nothing boring about the Easter Story

2. Jesus Gave it All (video)


3. Newspaper Collage

Newspapers are filled with headlines, some good and some bad. People are familiar with reading these - shooting, floods, economic downturn, etc. Fill a postcard with a collage of these headlines, and then in the middle of the card in a different sized and coloured text, display a headline with a positive message about Easter. For example:

  • ‘Death defeated by love’, or
  • ‘Death swallowed up in victory’, or
  • ‘Jesus destroys death and offers eternal life’, or
  • ‘Jesus: Hope now available beyond the grave’, or
  • 'Jesus Gave it All'

4. You could use the Thursday Evening for a Gathering...

Easter Ideas Thursday










5. These are Videos from St Helen's, Bishopsgate


6. A Social Media Easter


What plans do you have this Easter?

Don't miss the opportunity this Easter to Share Life Eternal!


The Birth of C4


“When DID YOU decide to plant a church?” This is the question I’ve been asked most recently. The answer always brings about the same reaction in almost everyone who hears it. The ICU ward in Sunninghill Hospital Joburg got me to think about church planting. Having suffered a Pulmonary Embolism and spending ten days in ICU, one has a bit more time to think clearly and evaluate their life and circumstances. It was at that time that I decided it would be honouring to the Lord for me to at least think, pray and investigate what is involved in church planting. Technically speaking, cross centered community church – C4 was born in a hospital.

About two years ago a group of 18 adults and a bunch of kids started meeting as the core group coming out of Christ Church Midrand. We met weekly for bible study, training and prayer. We also met as a community to do life together. It soon became clear that we needed to grow and expand our efforts and so we started a Sunday morning gathering where others could attend. Many others have come to join us, including some non-Christi ans. We are a church of small gospel communities because we are convinced this is the best way to evangelize, disciple and pastor each other in our context. Many people have found this refreshing and new. It is authentic community where people are loved and cared for, but most important where they see the Bible come alive in practice. We have now been meeting officially as a church for the past eight months and are encouraged to be part of what God is doing in our community. It is early days, but they are good days indeed.

C4 meets on a Sunday morning in a pre-school hall in Bryanston. God has blessed us with this great facility because it’s comfortable for adults and awesome for our children in a big way. Our aim is to see young professionals and young families come to know Jesus and grow to maturity in Him. We want the gospel of Christ to be clear, to be relevant and culture-transforming in our community. As C4 we want to see many un-churched and un-believing people come to Christ as Lord and Saviour. We believe we have a role to play in Joburg. We love Joburg – because it’s our city and God has put us here. We pray and look where God is working and partner with Him there for the good of the city.

New Deacon for Tokai Community Church


Nick Louw was recently made a Deacon by Bishop Des Inglesby at Tokai Community Church. Nick oversees evangelism ministries from TCC, including the equipping of believers for effective evangelism, teaching the gospel to seekers, and pursuing new opportunities to promote the gospel in the local community. His wife Jean is also involved in gospel ministry to pre-school children. They have two children of their own, Alex (5) and Amy (2). Nick graduated from George Whitefield College in 2010. Prior to this, he studied Economics at UCT and worked as a Business Analyst in London and Cape Town.


From Sangoma to Christ Follower (Video)

Lifestyle Evangelism

Bruce Nygaard who works with the Navigators on UCT Campus shared with us for 3 weeks on lifestyle Evangelism. He shared a number of biblical motivations for our enthusiasm and encouragement to continue to plant words of truth in our friends, neighbours and families lives. His focus was to persuade us from scripture to actively see ourselves all as evangelists in the times and places God has put us in. Through the Holy Spirit, he awakened in us a sense of Gods plans and purposes to use us in our everyday spheres of relationships and influences.

Here are some of the practical tips drawn out from the series.

Evangelism takes different forms. It is incredibly important to pay attention to the form that is working best in our present day and bearing lasting fruit. Bruce stressed some of the dangers of seeing evangelism as merely an event, and us thinking that suffering disgrace for the gospel is having your Church invitation refused.

Bruce reminded us that the two forms of evangelism are Reaping and Sowing. Reaping is what most of our Churches are good at. Spotting an opportunity to create a gathering where we can bring people to hear the gospel. While Bruce mentioned this as an effective tool for evangelism, he mentioned that it becomes defective if not combined with a radical plan of sowing. Sowing would be all the necessary word ministry in a persons life before the point that reaping (conversion) is able to take place.

It may even be dishonest to expect someone to entrust their entire life to someone they don’t know. Asking someone to entrust their life to King Jesus more often than not requires patience and persistence. People today are becoming more and more unfamiliar with the God of the Bible.

This is where relational evangelism is so key in the entire process. Its our responsibility to steward and build relationships in trust and closeness with the people God made and loves. Through the Spirits wisdom and guidance, it reaches the tipping point where we ourselves introduce them to the Jesus of the Bible. Bruce reminded us that in some cases it had been years of reading the Bible with someone before they crossed the line of faith. The ultimate goal of every relationship is to read through a gospel with them and to use the Bible as the tool for creating faith.

Introducing people to Jesus rather than our Church

It is crucially important to keep the priority in the relationship to introducing people to Jesus rather than to our specific Church. Already by making friends with you, they are being introduced to the Church. We are not making converts to our specific Church, but to the body of Christ. Non Christians can sniff motive a mile away and if our objective is to prop up our church attendance, we are on a slippery slope of having zero effectiveness in evangelism.

Don’t pounce on people like a cat

Bruce shared some great stories of how not to do things. I believe we need to understand the psychology of how people work. We don’t like salesman pouncing on us with events and promises. We need to respect people’s space in the sowing process. Bruce suggested that we empathise with peoples difficulties with the claims of Christianity. He encouraged us not to feel the need to answer every question immediately, but to create mystery and suspense with our unbelieving friends. One way of doing this would be to reply to a question by saying: “That’s a good question. We should chat about it again sometime, but I need to be somewhere now. Maybe another time.”


Natural relationship development

Bruce stressed the need to allow natural relationships to shoot, bud and flourish, like every other human relationship. When you go on a date with someone. Your intention is not to propose immediately, but to earn another date. And then to earn a second and a third. We should be seeking to earn the right for people to listen to us and hear our gospel. Because it is the power of God to save all who will believe.