The Great Big Blue Dot (Part 2)


<— Click here for Part 1 Click here for Part 3 —>

Figure 1: The Great Big Blue Dot. Click here to link to Part 1.

Have you read Part 1? If not click here.

I’ve been speaking to a whole lot of Baptists lately and things are starting to solidify in my mind but I’m not in the place where I’m willing to commit my thoughts to the written word. So what do I do when in I’m in doubt? Get a guest to kick things off of course :). The next number of blog posts are adapted from a series written by Christo Beetge* entitled What does it mean to be a Baptist?.

Have you ever wondered what [being a Baptist]** actually means?

Sometimes we need to state the obvious! So here goes: Christians aren’t churned out of the proverbial “sausage machine”. In a world where, on the one hand, differences between people are clearly apparent, and where on the other hand, there is much pressure to either disregard these distinctives or smooth over them, many Christians wonder to themselves, “What makes us, as believers, different to the Methodists or Presby’s (for instance)?” . Unless an informed answer can be given to such legitimate questions, we can inadvertently find ourselves thinking some erroneous thoughts, and thus heading in some harmful directions. One such erroneous thought that I have heard expressed pretty often, comes in this form, “Well, we’re all the same deep down, anyway”. (Sometimes this sentiment is dressed up as follows: “All roads lead to Rome”; “We’re all climbing the same hill, but from different directions”; “All people who call themselves Christians are essentially after the same thing”).

The thinking behind such expressions is that whilst we might all be playing in different coloured jerseys, grouped into different teams, and operating according to a slightly different game-plan, at least we’re all playing rugby (if you’re keeping up with the metaphor!). It would be bad enough if non-believers waved the discussion aside believing that all Christian denominations are essentially the same, but when believers themselves, through ignorance, cave in to such thinking, then we are really in trouble! So, the question, “What makes someone specifically a Baptist?” is a worthwhile question to be able to answer confidently. After all, the sign out front does read, Baptist Church], does it not? So, in effect, we are asking, “What is loaded into this word ‘Baptist’ then? Could we not equally meaningfully have called ourselves [a Community Church, or a Family Church]?”. What is with this word “Baptist”?

Before we go ahead and answer the question, let’s take a moment to do two things: Firstly, let’s admit that we are not so naïve as to think that everyone who worships at a Baptist church is there because the convictions they hold dear are necessarily Baptistic convictions. No, we recognize that some people, maybe even many people, in any particular Baptist church are there because they just happen to have come and stayed and put down their religious and relational roots there. When they were “church shopping”, XYZ Baptist church simply happened to be the closest church, or the most friendly of those that they tried out, etc. Maybe their friends/family attend and invited them to come along. Maybe they came to hear a particular preacher. Maybe they liked the music and “the feel” of the service. But in reality, many people who worship at a church with the name “Baptist”, could just as easily be at a church without that 7-letter word in its name.

Then secondly, let’s be persuaded that the question is really worth answering. It is only when we define our terminology that we gain some insight. Why use the word “Baptist” if it has no meaning, or if we don’t care about its meaning? If we insist on using it, let us at least be clear what we are intending to say by doing so. We don’t simply want to sit with a mouth full of teeth when people ask us, “Why do you attend the Baptist church?” But, equally, we don’t simply want to puff out our chests with bravado and “own a particular name”, and identify ourselves with a particular brand or franchise, in the way that some families teach their children, “My boy, never forget that you are a Kennedy! You can wear that name with your head held high”. No! We want to be motivated by the knowledge that as ‘Baptists’ we stand in a long line of people who have held to a certain bouquet of distinctive convictions, for which they have been prepared to shed their own blood. Let us be acutely aware that many of our Baptist forbears have literally died for insisting that they hold to certain convictions not necessarily shared by all fellow Christians! This willingness to pay a price has arisen from the persuasion that the Bible forces us into a certain mould.

Call this an intro. Tomorrow I’ll post the remainer of the first section which begins to answer the question, “are you a Baptist? Or do you simply happen to worship God at a “Baptist” church?”

Christo Beetge Brackenhurst Baptist Church

* An article, written by Christo Beetge, and published in 5 parts in the Brackenhurst Baptist Church’s monthly in-house publication entitled Pastors’ Pen. This publication is produced by the Elders, with a view to stimulate congregational discussion and debate and to promote rigorous Christian discipline in reading and thinking.

** Wherever you see [ ] I’ve edited the original text to contextualise the content for a broader audience.

<— Click here for Part 1 Click here for Part 3 —>
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Was Saved


We too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ. Click image to link to source.

I’m not a very nice person by nature.

As a 20-something-year-old I lived my live preciously how I wanted. I couldn’t have cared two hoots for God, the Bible or any of that Christian mumbo jumbo.

When I came to faith it wasn’t because I was a good person and decided I wanted to be even better. No! When I came to faith it was because I was a wretch who realized I couldn’t be better; I desperately needed a savior.

That startling moment, about 12 years ago, was when I “got saved”.

Listen to the following passage,

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Want to hear the verse in context? Ephesians 2
What is this about?

There is a real sense that all Christians are “saved”. That’s why we ask, “Are you saved?” and look concerned if you answer, “No.” or “I don’t know.” We want to know if you’ve arrived at that place of grace, mercy and love; whether you’ve crossed over from “death” to “life”.

Other verses worth looking up are Romans 8:24, 2 Timothy 1:9 and Titus 3:5.

Mzanzi Gees


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It was inevitable, at some stage I had to post about the SWC2010. Yesterday the Mexican or North Korean team drove past me on the highway. It’s here!

Related post: Soccer City: Proudly South African and Come and watch the games with me.

Soccer Christ Church Midrand (A Notice to all Christians in the Gauteng Area)


Martin Morrison Christ Church Soccer World Cup 2010 South Africa Christ Church Christian

It’s around the corner, can you feel the excitement? Want to spend the time in an edifying environment? Click the image to enlarge.

 

Martin Morrison Christ Church Soccer World Cup 2010 South Africa Christ Church Christian

Christ Church Midrand is a constituent church of the Church of England in South Africa.

On a personal note my kids attend the school on the premises and I can testify to the love of the staff for the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Also many of the woman attend the Ladies Bible Study run by Midrand Chapel on a Tuesday morning and our youth have in the past attended the various ministries run by their church.

These are a great bunch of Christians and I’m looking forward to fellowship with them during the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Related post: Soccer City: Proudly South African

The Sovereignty of God


The heavens are telling of the Glory of God declare Psalm 119 1

The work of the creator, owner, architect, sustainer and king is truely awesome to behold. This is my first try of image manipulation with GIMP. What do you think? Click image to link to source.

This week, at Midrand Chapel, we looked at the Sovereignty of God, and boy, was it a sermon or what! Chris preached that as we stood back and viewed God for who He really is part of us might want to shake our fists at Him but an appropriate reaction, a right response, would be to bow down and worship Him, and indeed by God’s grace (or at His judgment) we all will.

There were 5 pity statements Chris made in the introduction of his sermon that I thought I’d write down and share,

God is the creator. Everything that exists outside of Him is His creation!

God is the owner. Everything that exists outside of Him is owned by Him!

God is the architect. Everything that exists outside of Him is designed by Him!

God is the sustainer. Everything that exists outside of Him draws life from Him!

God is the king. Everything that exists outside of Him is ruled by Him!

For more context consider these wise words from The Book,

10 In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind?

13 …”With Him are wisdom and might;
To Him belong counsel and understanding.

14 “Behold, He tears down, and it cannot be rebuilt;
He imprisons a man, and there can be no release.

15 “Behold, He restrains the waters, and they dry up;
And He sends them out, and they inundate the earth.

16 “With Him are strength and sound wisdom,
The misled and the misleader belong to Him.

17He makes counselors walk barefoot
And makes fools of judges.

18He loosens the bond of kings
And binds their loins with a girdle.

19He makes priests walk barefoot
And overthrows the secure ones.

20He deprives the trusted ones of speech
And takes away the discernment of the elders.

21He pours contempt on nobles
And loosens the belt of the strong.

22He reveals mysteries from the darkness
And brings the deep darkness into light.

23He makes the nations great, then destroys them;
He enlarges the nations, then leads them away.

24He deprives of intelligence the chiefs of the earth’s people
And makes them wander in a pathless waste.

25 “They grope in darkness with no light,
And He makes them stagger like a drunken man.

Want to hear the verse in context? Job 8 – 14
What is this about?

Chris Woolley Midrand Chapel

Chris Woolley has been an elder employed at Midrand Chapel since 2005. He is married with six children, three of whom have been adopted. Chris studied mechanical Engineering at WITS University during which time he became a Christian and developed a desire be involved in missions and church planting. After initially working as a Maintenance Engineer he resigned to further his theological studies. He is a graduate of the Baptist Theological College in Randburg (DipTh) and the Masters Seminary in California (MDiv).

Ape-man on Radio, “The earth is only 6,000 years old”


After 8 Debate Albany Museum Club Australopithecus sediba Grahamstown SAfm Talk Radio 702 Australopithecus Pleistocene 702 Fundamentalist Christian Christianity world view worldview creationism evolution Creationist Evolutionist Dr Carl Wieland Professor Francis Thackeray Dr Louw Alberts

Australopithecus sediba is a species of Australopithecus, and based on your world view, could be dated to 1.78 to 1.95 million years ago in the Pleistocene. *yawn*. Click image to enlarge.

On the way home this evening I listened to a fascinating debate on SAfm. I flutter between SAfm and 702 when I’m in the mood for talk radio. More often than not 702 is a bit left and SAfm a bit dull however over the last few months the topics on the After 8 Debate have peaked my interest.

I had watched the breaking news around Australopithecus sediba intently (maybe I’m a bit dull too). It reminded me of my fossil hunting days in Grahamstown as a member of the Albany Museum Club (yes, I know, I was always a geek, but it does have a little Indiana Jones allure to it?).

This debate squared off a Fundamentalist Christian advocate, Dr Carl Wieland (Creationist), against a well respected South African Paleontologist, Professor Francis Thackeray (Evolutionist), with some additional input by a Dr Louw Alberts (Well meaning Christian somethingist… Theistic Evolutionist?).

The debate was civil although I think the presenter failed to allow the delegates to tuck into the meat of the issue. One thing I detest about the format of the After Eight Debate is the sms’s which are always frivolous and almost always just obfuscate the conversation’s train of thought.

This is worth a listen to (MH, you don’t have choice!). Click here (http://downloads.creation.com/radio/SouthAfricanRadioBroadcast-2a.mp3) if the player doesn’t work.

Want to hear the verse in context? After 8 Debate 13 April 2010
What is this about?

After 8 Debate Albany Museum Club Australopithecus sediba Grahamstown SAfm Talk Radio 702 Australopithecus Pleistocene 702 Fundamentalist Christian Christianity world view worldview creationism evolution Creationist Evolutionist Dr Carl Wieland Professor Francis Thackeray Dr Louw Alberts

Dr Carl Wieland is in great demand as a speaker on the scientific evidence for Creation/Flood, and its relevance to Christianity. Able to hold audiences (both academic and lay) with his knowledge, easy-to-listen-to style, and ever-present humour, he has lectured extensively in Australia and internationally.

Dr Wieland is Managing Director of Creation Ministries International in Brisbane, Australia. This ministry organization (which started as Creation Science Foundation, then Answers in Genesis) produces the family magazine Creation (now going to subscribers in over 100 countries), which he founded in 1978.

After 8 Debate Albany Museum Club Australopithecus sediba Grahamstown SAfm Talk Radio 702 Australopithecus Pleistocene 702 Fundamentalist Christian Christianity world view worldview creationism evolution Creationist Evolutionist Dr Carl Wieland Professor Francis Thackeray Dr Louw Alberts

Professor Francis Thackeray is a South African who obtained his PhD in anthropology through Yale University (1984), analysing faunal remains from Late Quaternary assemblages at Wonderwerk Cave south of Taung, Northern Cape Province, South Africa. Prior to that he studied at the University of Cape Town where he obtained a BSc, majoring in zoology (1974); BSc (Hons) in archaeology (1975); and MSc in environmental studies (1977).

He has been particularly interested in developing a statistical definition of a species, and in assessing probabilities of conspecificity in the context of hominid fossils from Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and other sites, based on exploratory morphometric techniques. He has directed excavations at Kromdraai, Plovers Lake and Bolt’s Farm in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. In collaboration with French colleagues, he is the Director of the Human Origins and Past Environments (HOPE) programme. Since 1990 he served as Head of the Department of Palaeontology and Palaeoenvironmental Studies at the Transvaal Museum before being appointed as Director of the museum, a position which he held until January 2009.

After 8 Debate Albany Museum Club Australopithecus sediba Grahamstown SAfm Talk Radio 702 Australopithecus Pleistocene 702 Fundamentalist Christian Christianity world view worldview creationism evolution Creationist Evolutionist Dr Carl Wieland Professor Francis Thackeray Dr Louw Alberts

Dr Louw Alberts is ’n bekende wetenskaplike en Christenleier. Hy is op 30 Oktober 1923 gebore en het aan Rhodes-universiteit gegradueer.

In sy loopbaan was hy besoekende wetenskaplike aan die universiteite van Amsterdam en Sheffield, professor in fisika aan die Universiteit van die Vrystaat en die eertydse Randse Afrikaanse Universiteit, visepresident van die Raad op Stoomkrag, president van die Raad vir Mineraaltegnologie, direkteur-generaal van mineraal- en energiesake en voorsitter van die WNNR. Hy is ook erelidmaat van die Suid-Afrikaanse Instituut van Fisika en die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns.

I’m no fence sitter. For other articles I’ve written regarding this issue check out:

Am I allowed to just chill?


My tooth is kiling me. Click image to enlarge.

Last night I was writhing on the floor in agony as one of my teeth declared Holy Jihad against the rest of my body. This morning I’m absolutely kaput. So tired in fact that the post I wished to write on How should Christians interact with other Christians will just have to wait. As such, and because I’d like to post something in spite of my infirmities, I thought I’d give some insight into my current online shenanigans.

Firstly I’m interacting. Here’s an example of an ongoing conversation on the blog of Jenny Hillebrand: http://carpenters-shoes.blogspot.com/2010/01/ideology.html. I love the feeling of being sharpened. On a side note, which I might have mentioned before, Methodists seem to be very interactive in the online sense. I think that by and large they’re inculcated with a mind for mission and the internet is certainly fertile soil and being tilled by them.

Secondly I’ve been putting together a website for the church: http://midrandchapel.za.org/. The aim is for it to be interactive by utilizing a blog platform. I’m finding the look and feel elements as well as the design aspects a bit challenging.

Thirdly I’ve been playing around with Google maps:

Do yourself a favour and click on some of the little pin points. I’m completely blown away by how helpful this little application has been to do a bit of planning and strategy for next year’s studies.

Forth I’ve been messing around: http://mytankandme.blogspot.com/. It’s a hobby and I need to chill a bit more.

Now I’m off to finish Shōgun. Sore teeth are as good an excuse as any to unwind a bit :).