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Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Methodists Condemn Police Brutality in South Africa

Sourced from the Methodist Church of Southern Africa MCSA

Methodists Slam Macia Atrocity



The Methodist Church of Southern Africa, like the rest of the country and world, has been deeply shocked and outraged by the brutal death of Emidio Macia a Mozambican national allegedly at the hands of the police. This is savagery on a par with the violence that occurred at Marikana and is reminiscent of some of the terrible abuses of the apartheid era and is hereby condemned in the strongest possible sense.

Police brutality in this country is an ongoing problem and it is unconscionable that thus far nothing has been done to address the systemic nature of this violence in our country. The 4 923 complaint’s received by Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) between 2011/2012 are an example of the deep rootedness of the problem and serve to undermine our  confidence in South Africa’s police service.

 Whilst we support the call for the establishment of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into police brutality by the President, which will hopefully ascertain what the root causes of this problem are and what can be done to stamp out this culture of violence which is now becoming synonymous with our police, urgent, visible action must be taken by the President to demonstrate condemnation of this kind of behaviour.

Of equal concern was the behaviour of the bystanders, which was as nauseating as the brutal police action shown on the video. We call upon civil society to stand up and begin to do something that will help us recover our humanity. Such atrocious behaviour must continue to be exposed using our cell phones and other means available to us.  

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the bereaved family.



Released by the Methodist Church of Southern Africa

Office of the Presiding Bishop, Rev Zipho Siwa

For more information contact: Ms B Moyo-Bango


Cell: 078 131 5137

Friday, February 15, 2013

Lent 1: The Temptation of Jesus

Luke 4:1-13

Over the last 2 months since Christmas we have looked at some of the milestones of Jesus’ life......His birth.....His presentation in the Temple when He realized in some unique way that God was His father.......Then His Baptism, when He heard the voice of God saying – ‘My Son’, and at the same time receiving the Holy Spirit.
I would hope that we’ve all had similar milestones:
We were certainly all born.
Hopefully, we've come to the realization that in some special way, God is our Father.
I hope you’ve had the experience of sensing God saying – You are my child, I’m so pleased with you.
I hope you’ve had the experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Now we reach another milestone in Jesus' life – this period of Temptation.
Jesus has realized it’s time to begin His ministry, His campaign to save the world.
Before you go on a campaign, your mission, you have to choose your methods.
In our reading today we see Jesus choosing once and for all the method by which He prepared to win people to God.
It shows Him rejecting the way of power and glory and accepting the way of suffering and the cross.

We can mistakenly think that these verses happened in a few moments, or an hour or so, but that would be wrong.
We must realize that Jesus deliberately went to a lonely place and for 40 days, wrestled with the problem of how He would win people.
And this was a long battle which didn’t really cease until the cross.
Notice the story ends with “The devil left him for a while.”

Let's look at these three temptations:

1.    The first temptation was to turn stones into bread. The wilderness is not a desert with sand, it is an arid area with millions of little rocks and stones. Jesus was fasting so… he was hungry.
Jesus had grown up among poor people who were often hungry.
Jesus had power to change stone into bread, didn’t he?

The tempter is saying: If you want people to follow you, use your wonderful powers to provide people with material things, with food, with water, with a  job, with a home. Give them these things, they’ll follow you.
They’ll love you.
He’s really saying “bribe people” into following You.

This is one of two temptations which is a temptation to do good. To get rid of world hunger is a good thing.
You and I have probably often wished Jesus had said yes to this temptation. That we could click our fingers and have a God who provided for our material needs.
But Jesus answers the devil: there’s more to life than just getting your material needs. Life isn’t just about food and water, a job, a house.

William Barclay says, “The task of Christianity is not to produce new conditions. It’s real task is to produce new people, and then the new condition will follow.”

Jesus in a sense was saying: I could miraculously produce food for the people who live on the streets and in the gutters of the world, but I'm rather going to work at producing people in the world who will go out and give food to the people who live on the streets and in the gutters of the world

2.    The 2nd temptation has Jesus seeing the whole civilized world and hearing the devil say, “worship me, and all this will be yours.”
This is the temptation to compromise.
The devil is saying: “I’ve got people in my grip. More of them follow me than will ever follow You. Don’t set your standards so high. Strike a bargain with me. Just compromise a little with evil and people will follow You. Instead of You Jesus, trying to change the people of the world for the next few thousand years, just change yourself, it’ll be much easier. You want to attract people, Jesus, just do things my way.”

It’s so easy to please people by compromising with the standards of the world, isn’t it?

And Jesus answer is “There is only one God and His way.”

3.    The 3rd temptation is to be a worker of wonders, a miracle man. Throw yourself from this building and when people see you float, they’ll love it. They’ll say: “He must be God” .......people just love miracles.
But Jesus won’t primarily be a miracle worker. This is why He often says to people He heals, “don’t tell anyone”. He didn’t want people to follow Him for miracles.

So Jesus was tempted, you and I are too.

What can we learn? I think 3 things:

1st; Notice that all the temptations are aimed at getting Jesus to focus on Himself and His own desires, instead of on the will of God.
But He resists taking the easy way out (we should too). He resists placing Himself at the centre of His world (we should too).
His focus is God’s will and God’s way (ours should be too).

So: don’t focus on yourself.

2nd; Jesus encountered each temptation with a word from Scripture. In faithful hands, the Bible contains all we need to resist the devil.
Imagine how pleased the devil is that so few Christians read the Bible.

So: Read your Bible.

3rd; we learn that Jesus (in the power of the Spirit) resisted temptation. You and I can too.

So: Rely on the Holy Spirit to enable you to resist temptation. 


Questions based on Lent 1: Temptation of Jesus


Read the sermon
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry….. What is fasting? Should it be a regular spiritual discipline? Is it a commonly practised spiritual discipline? Why do you think this is so?

 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”….. What is the significance of “If”? What is this temptation really tempting Jesus to do in His ministry?

 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’[Deut. 8:3]”…..According to Deut 8:3, what is the spiritual effect of hunger?

 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”…… What is this temptation really tempting Jesus to do in His ministry?

 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’[Deut. 6:13]”

 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here.  For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you carefully;
 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[Psalm 91:11,12]”……. What is this temptation really tempting Jesus to do in His ministry?

 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[Deut. 6:16]”

 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time….When do you think the next “opportune time” was?

What 3 things do the temptations teach us about Jesus?
What 3 things do the temptations teach us about ourselves?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pastoral Letter for Lent from Cedric

Lent 2013

“So when you give to the needy…
And when you pray…
And when you fast…”
                                                                      Matthew 6:2, 5 & 16
Each year these words lead us into Lent, calling us to realign our spiritual practices (fasting, prayer, corporate acts of repentance and giving to help the poor and the needy) with their intended purposes.

Lent is a time of humbling ourselves and in an inspiring and challenging sermon a few weeks ago, one of our local preachers called on us all, ministers, leaders and members of AMC to humble ourselves before God and to confess our sin to God, particularly pride and arrogance that might have tainted our witness. I encourage you to listen to the sermon (at http://www.amc.org.za/?page_id=357  or contact the church office for a CD copy) in order to hear the message in its context.

Pride and arrogance are the primary cause of all sin, and so I want to encourage us as members of AMC in our personal prayers of confession over Lent to ask God’s Holy Spirit to convict us personally, but also corporately as the Body of Christ. Prayer of this sort will certainly humble us, and coupled with fasting, will bring great blessing. Fasting is a common way of humbling ourselves before our Lord and I would encourage us as a congregation to engage in this discipline over Lent. Perhaps consider a partial fast over the full 40 day period or perhaps a complete fast from food one day a week during Lent. Please refer to my webpage http://dentalmethodist.blogspot.com/2011/10/sermon-on-mount-9-fasting.html  for advice and tips on various types of fasting, or contact the church office for a printed copy.

So, Lent is a time of humbling ourselves, a time of fasting, and also a time of concentrated prayer.

I have received a beautiful prayer for Community Blessing from someone who recently traveled to Wales where it originated. You can visit http://www.streetpastors.co.uk/Portals/0/Street%20Pastors/In%20Use/documents/%20prayer/PrayingBlessings.pdf for more info on this prayer and praying blessings in general. An adaptation of the prayer will be available in our Info Stand and it will also be the focus of many of our prayers of intercession during Lent. I think there is something quite beautiful about a church praying blessings upon and into its community, and as part of our Lenten prayer commitment I encourage us all to use this prayer in our private prayer life…..who knows how God might choose to use our faithfulness? Please know that your AMC leaders (the folk who make up our Leaders’ Meeting) are committed to leading the way in terms of adopting these practices in our lives over Lent.

Lent is also a time of focused giving to the poor and needy and I encourage you to find some poor and needy folk (on our streets or through AMCARE) and care for them in some special way this Lenten Season.

Jesus calls us to give, to pray and to fast…May the Spirit of God lead us as individuals and as a community of Christ’s disciples to humble ourselves through giving, prayer and fasting this Lenten season and my prayer is that Lent 2013 will be a time of great blessing and spiritual growth for us all.

Much love,

Cedric

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Transfiguration Sunday: Where will your story end

Where will your story end

Moses is one of the great characters of the Old Testament – born at a time of persecution, raised up in the palace of the Pharoah and eventually leads the Hebrew slaves to freedom.
The story of Moses ends rather sadly and abruptly.
After 40 years of wondering they are at the Promised Land – the Lord takes Moses up a mountain, shows him the whole of the Promised Land and then on the mountain, Moses dies and the Lord buries him.
It’s sad: Moses doesn’t get to enter the Promise Land......Will you?

The reason for this can be found in the book of Numbers where we are told that at one time in the desert the people were complaining about water and Moses prayed to the Lord and the Lord said take your stick and go stand at that rock – talk to the rock and water will come out of it.
When Moses went to the rock, the people were moaning, moaning… and he takes his stick and in anger he hits the rock – well water comes out but the Lord takes Moses aside and says because you hit the rock, because you disobeyed me........ your punishment will be you will never enter the Promised Land.....Will you?

As you read the Bible, one of the messages you get over and over is “Don’t mess with our God”.

Our disobedience has consequences in this life – your and my disobedience, praise God, does not affect our salvation (we don’t have to be born again, become a Christian everytime we sin)..... sin doesn’t affect our salvation, .......................but it does affect our life here on earth.

Well, Moses dies and that seems to be the end of the story as far as Moses goes – he dies, just outside the Promised Land. Where will your story end?

But it’s not quite the end of Moses' story............

In our reading from the New Testament did you notice who was on the Mountain of Transfiguration.... with Jesus....in the Promised Land...... Elijah and ......................Moses.
So Moses in fact does realize his life dream – here at Jesus' transfiguration he stands on a mountain top smack in the middle of the Promise Land......and with the Son of God Himself!!!!!

Now, I have a deep sense that some of us need to hear this today and be encouraged: Your story...is not over.......in fact it's nowhere near it's end.......transfiguration is always a possibility just waitng to become a reality..........in your life....in your school/workplace.......your marriage.....your church......your nation.......none of these stories has reached it's end.

So, where will your story end?

Moses and Jesus, that’s the end of the story of Moses – it ends not in a grave somewhere outside Israel, but in eternity with Jesus...in the Promised Land of eternal life. Moses' sin messes up his life, but not his eternity.......isn't that good news. We are not saved or not saved by actions......BUT BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH. And that is not license to sin, but rather it is license to have hope.
Your story is nowhere near over!

So, where will your story and my story end – in a grave somewhere in the ground or with Jesus in eternity?

That’s worth thinking about.
Jesus has said that we don’t have to be left in any doubt about the answer to that question.
Jesus said........ John 3:16.
Moses looked forward by faith to Jesus, and was saved from the eternal affects of his sin, while he was a sinner. We look back by faith and are saved from the eternal affects of our sin, even while we are sinners.

Our God, who you don't mess with, is in the business of reaching out and saving the very people who mess with Him......that is called GRACE.

Transfiguration Sunday is a wonderful reminder that our story need never end.....that light always wins over darkness......that our God is always ready to meet us on our mountains of joy or despair and shine His transfiguring....transforming....light ................into whatever we bring to Him.

So, where will your story end?....................It needn't...and it wont .......as, by faith, we ask and let our Lord, who is light, to shine His transfiguring presence into us.

In a time of ministry now, I urge you, from your mountain top or valley, to be taken by surprise, just as Peter was, by the radiant presence of Christ.....with you.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Study Notes for Transfiguration Sunday Sermon

Exodus 34:29-35
1.     Why did Moses’ face shine?
2.     Do you know Christians who ‘shine’?
3.     What do you think their reason is for ‘shining’?
4.     Why do you think Moses’ face ‘faded’?
Read 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2.
5.     What light does this passage shed on why Moses’ shone and faded?
6.     What light does it shed on why we shine or fade?

Luke 9:28-36
7.     When did the transfiguration take place?
8.     How did Peter know it was Moses and Elijah that were with Jesus?
9.     What is the significance of the words that were spoken by the ‘voice in the cloud’?
From the Sermon “Where does your story end?”

10. Why was Moses not allowed to enter the Promised Land?

11. Where did Moses’ story end?

Discuss the statement: “Don’t mess with God.”

For reflection:
What is your story with God? Perhaps write a few thoughts down, thinking about where or when your story with God started (Ps. 139:13), where it is now, and how it will end.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Covenant Service 2013


Covenant Service 2013

Twentieth-century Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor said, “What people don’t realize is how much faith costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is a cross.”
Our annual Covenant service is meant to be a reminder that our faith, our Christianity, our religion…..is a cross…..and at this service we in a sense say…”I take up that cross”

I no longer want to control my life, but surrender it to You, Lord,
Put me to whatever purpose You choose,
Link my life to whoever You will, for whatever purpose;
Send me to whatever task You have in mind for me;
If suffering be Your purpose for me, I accept it;
May my life be used by You or not used, if You so decide;
May it be filled with meaningful purpose, or,
if You prefer it, have no apparent purpose;
Let it be filled with many useful material things,
Or, if You so plan it, be emptied of material benefit.
With all my heart I yield everything to Your control.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
I am Yours and You belong to me.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have now made here on Earth,
let it be confirmed and recorded in Heaven.
Amen.

Let’s see what our readings can teach us about covenant keeping in 2013.

"The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah." Tucked in these words is a wonderful surprise. Surely it is surprising when God's Word comes to seek us out, especially when we may not be looking for it. When that word comes, it has a way, as we saw last week, of finding us with a power to create us anew and set us on our path for a new day. I encouraged you to let God’s word do this for you last week, and I look forward to hearing some testimony in this regard on Wednesday.

God says to Jeremiah: "I know you ... I consecrated you ... I appointed you." He says these words to you and to me. He says to us what He has said to people for 1000s of years: we belong; we are loved; we are given purpose by a God who surrounds us, sustains us, and gives us tasks that have meaning in God's grand design and providence.

"I know you." Such a word comes as comforting and encouraging when we seem alone or fumbling for direction. But there is also toughness in this word. There is no escape, no apology that will deter its focus: "I am with you" for a purpose. Some days, it is good just to be reminded, so as to set our feet once again on a steady path.

These words certainly set Jeremiah on a steady path as he sought to fulfil God’s purpose for his life. May they steady you as you seek to fulfil God’s purpose for your life. Jesus wanted to fulfil God’s purpose for His life….even if that meant a cross…..So we move to our Gospel reading from Luke:

Last week we saw that there was an almost palpable sense of expectancy among the people of Nazareth in the public appearance of Jesus in the synagogue that day. Here He is in His hometown and they’ve heard some amazing things about what He has been doing in Galilee. When he "opens the scriptures," they recognize his words as ones that are filled with "grace." So what did they expect from his words? Perhaps they were hoping for some miraculous display similar to what they had heard He had done in Capernaum, just up the road. But instead all they get from Jesus is a pronouncement that He, the local boytjie, is in fact the good news that they have been waiting for from God….the fulfilment of everything the prophets have looked forward to. That’s not what they were expecting. What are your expectations this morning and are you angry when those expectations aren’t met?

When Jesus speaks of "fulfillment," we sense that expectations and fulfillment are not always harmonious. Jesus was not the Messiah that they expected…He came with a cross, not a sword. Is He the Saviour you are expecting or longing for…….a Saviour with a cross, not an electric blanket. Grace then and now often comes in strange and unexpected ways. We long for  glimpses of God's grace...............They did…………………..but in the familiar guise of this "son of Joseph," whom we have watched grow up from infancy? To believe that may be to stretch our belief a bit.

We long deeply for God's grace, but the question remains: Will we be ready or willing to respond to the direction in which it may lead us? Our covenant encourages us to do just that.

Things soon took a turn and got downright nasty there in Nazareth on that first day of Jesus' ministry. The people were expectant and excited about the possibilities of grace, but then suddenly that grace became distasteful when it led them in ways that they did not anticipate, and the very people He grew up amongst, become the ones who are the first to try and kill Him.

God's grace often shows up in places we don't expect, in people we don’t like, or it leads us in directions we would rather not go. Our covenant encourages us to recognise and willingly accept this.

Grace is not for the faint of heart or ones who do not like surprises. Christianity, the life with God, is not for the faint of heart or ones who do not like surprises.  It invites us to make connections with people whom we would rather like to forget. God's mercy is not captive to our desires or to our limits. If we wish to follow this Jesus, the invitation is always to be ready for surprises. One of the risks of following Jesus is to know that we will not be in control. It takes the transforming power of God's grace to make that happen. It is called salvation or wholeness. And it resides in the promise of God that "to you has been born" precisely such a savior, who is Christ the Lord.

I urge you, to come to the Saviour who says, “I know you ... I consecrated you ... I appointed you”……….come to Him and offer yourself to Him this morning.

Questions and Study notes based on Covenant Service


Questions and Study notes based on Covenant Service
Read the sermon here

1. “What people don’t realize is how much faith costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is a cross.”
What is electric blanket faith? What is saving faith?

2. How does the truth that "I know you ... I consecrated you ... I appointed you" set our feet once again on a steady path.

3. “Expectations and fulfillment are not always harmonious”…………discuss times when your expectations and God’s fulfilment of your expectations have been harmonious. Discuss times when your expectations and God’s fulfilment of your expectations have not been harmonious. Which seems to be more common in our Scriptures, and in your life?

4. “God's grace often shows up in places we don't expect, in people we don’t like, or it leads us in directions we would rather not go.” Discuss.

5. “If we wish to follow this Jesus, the invitation is always to be ready for surprises.” Has Jesus ever surprised you?

6. Reflect on our Covenant Prayer during the week:

Monday: I no longer want to control my life, but surrender it to You, Lord,
Tuesday: Put me to whatever purpose You choose,
Wednesday: Link my life to whoever You will, for whatever purpose;
                       Send me to whatever task You have in mind for me;
Thursday: If suffering be Your purpose for me, I accept it;
Friday: May my life be used by You or not used, if You so decide;
             May it be filled with meaningful purpose, or,
              if You prefer it, have no apparent purpose;
Saturday: Let it be filled with many useful material things,
                  Or, if You so plan it, be emptied of material benefit.
                  With all my heart I yield everything to Your control.