What’s a Cantata anyway?


I’ll be honest with you, when Andre Broodryk from Benoni Baptist said they were putting on a Cantata last Sunday night part of me thought, “I’ll give that one a skip.” I announced it at church that Sunday morning but it featured along side all the other midweek activities that keep us oh-so-busy.

When I arrived on Sunday evening (still with only a vague clue of what a Cantata was) I realized something was going down. The car park was unbuzz. I noticed folk as I drove in from Springs Baptist (I preached there a month ago), Eastvale and Northmead Baptist (we’ve been getting together for evening services) and Wychwood Baptist (their pastor, Lance Laughton, is a tall fellow and stands out in a crowd). When I entered the church it was full, sure there were seats open, but it was fuller than I had ever seen it before.

I sat and waited… now a little excited.

Just so you know, a Canata is a composition for one or more voices usually comprising solos, duets, recitatives, and choruses and sung to an instrumental accompaniment (more detail here).

And then it begun. A Piano, a drum, a guitar, a violin, eight voices in the front (four male, four female) and a congregation of a few hundred burst forth in rapturous praise. It was great.

There’re two things that I want to note right here. Firstly I love this traditional hymn revival that is going on in like minded churches at the moment. The REZ Band rocked The Resolution Conference a few years ago and again at the Baptist Union Assembly this year. I visited Free Grace Baptist Church earlier in the year and was completely blown away by the Brackenhurst Baptist Church choir. They really rocked! I’m loving the return to God glorifying praise and worthship.

Secondly I’m loving the unity I’m seeing in a number of like minded churches at the moment. I was chatting to Chris Woolley from Midrand Chapel (my sending church) on Monday and he noted that at no time in history has churches had to try and figure out how to exist within such a framework of splintered theological diversity than what we’re seeing in our day and age. Sunday night represented for me a coming together of those who have enough in common to sing together to God’s praise and glory; and there’s something cool about that.

I was encouraged. I will encourage my congregation to participate in the next event with much more vigor; and I’d encourage you to do the same *.

* There’s a post coming up soon regarding practical ways to put the unity we have in Christ on tangible display.

Churches in my city I would happily attend


Looking for a church in your area were the preaching is expository, the pastors are switched on and the doctrine is sound? These are the 9+ churches I’d attend. Click on any of the colored markers or hit the ‘View Larger Map’ tag.

I’m really picky. If I know you and you’re not on the list it’s probably because I don’t know you well enough or because… well… you’re not a Calvinistic, Dispensationalistic, Lordship Salvationistic, Pre tribulational, Pre millennial, elder led, discipline practicing, believer baptising, fully dunking, expository teaching, Fundamentalistic, Cessationistic, Substitutionaryily Atonementistic… church. Towards the end I was just making stuff up;). The list is supposed to be polemic and I’ll be happy to hear about other churches I may have missed below.

The Great Big Blue Dot (Part 1)


Click here for Part 2 —>

Figure 1: The Great Big Blue Dot. Click image to enlarge.

Liezl, the kids and I attend a small church, Midrand Chapel, in the North of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Midrand Chapel isn’t exactly a descriptive label is it? Midrand covers a wide geographical area and comprises of many neighborhoods and the word Chapel conjures up images of some wishy-washy-anything-goes-pseudo-Christian wedding venue on the outskirts of town.

If you dug a bit deeper and took a squizz through our church constitution you’d discover we were formally called Midrand Baptist Church and we describe ourselves in the document as an Independent Baptist church.

What’s unique about Baptists anyway? Christo Beetge* from Brackenhurst Baptist Church sums it up quite nicely into 10 bite sized distinctives: The Direct Lordship of Christ, The Priesthood of All Believers, Congregational Accountability, The Authority and Sufficiency of the Bible, The Priority of Verbal Proclamation in Worship and Service, Regenerate Church Membership, Separation of Church and State, The Two Ordinances, The Autonomy of the Local Church and Freedom of Conscience.

Bottom-line, Baptists world over share a common set of identifiable doctrinal distinctives. Because of this most congregants attending Baptist‘ish [sic] churches think of themselves as belonging to The Great Big Blue Dot (see Figure 1). Metaphorically, anything inside the circle is Baptist, anything outside is not and the solid blue fill represents our unified doctrine. Simple.

The Great Big Shaded Dot. Click image to enlarge.

Actually it’s not so simple. Those identifying themselves as Baptists today, although agreeing on some central points of doctrine, differ widely from one another on many other matters of faith. Differences in Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Soteriology and Pneumatology for starters make us a fairly heterogenous bunch.

The image on top isn’t completely inaccurate but instead of one shade of blue Baptistdom in South Africa is more like The Great Big Shaded Dot (Figure 2) which acknowledges a broad’ish** range of Theological diversity which is how churches which cling to traditional Baptist tenants such as Rosebank Union, Honeyridge Baptist Church, Brackenhurst Baptist Church, Constantia Park Baptist Church, Antioch Bible Church, Grace Christian Church, New Covenant Baptist Church and even little old Midrand Chapel can co-exist in unified tension; held together but pushed apart; a mixed bag of fruit.

** While there is a plethora of diversity within the Union and beyond it is worth mentioning that the differences are nothing like the swath of division faced by other mainline denominations such as the Anglicans.

Christo Beetge Brackenhurst Baptist Church

* The ariticle referenced in this post was written by Christo Beetge, formerly pastor of Springs Baptist Church, handles much of the counselling at the church. Christo also oversees the Young Adults ministry of the church. He is married to Maureen and has two children: Anton and Gillian.

Click here for Part 2 —>

Sunday’s Point to Ponder


This week at Midrand Chapel we turned our attention to the book of Malachi; God’s final Words to Israel before 400 years of silence.

Chris covered Chapters 1:1 – 5, God’s Accusation, The Peoples Objection and God’s Evidence. God’s faithfulness despite Israel’s scorn. The key verse 2b – 3a, “…I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau…” stands as a testimony to God’s bountiful grace lavished on a people who had done nothing to deserve it but were still recipients of it because of His sovereign election.

The quotable quote for me was, “God’s love for us is unconditional been rooted in His sovereign choice of us; it therefore does not depend on our worthiness and should not be doubted because of our circumstances.”

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).

Sunday’s Point to Ponder


Today’s sermon at Midrand Chapel broadly outlined the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace as laid out by Paul in Romans. Chris didn’t spare a punch as he covered depravity (1:18 – 23; 3:9 – 22), election (8:28 – 30; 9:9 – 18), atonement (2:23 – 26; 4:24 – 25; 5:18 – 21), grace (19:25 – 32) and perseverance (8:1 – 11).

The quotable quote of the day had to be, “Man’s depravity is not a great obstacle to the Gospel, it’s an insurmountable one.”

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).

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).

Spirit and Truth


Last Sunday’s sermon, based on Psalm 119, was that our response to the Word of God should be exultation and praise. You can listen to it by clicking here or using the control below:

http://www.box.net/shared/odilyhtq0b (Inline audio player not working? Download the file here.)
169 Tav. Let my cry come before You, O LORD;
Give me understanding according to Your word.
170 Let my supplication come before You;
Deliver me according to Your word.
171 Let my lips utter praise,
For You teach me Your statutes.
172 Let my tongue sing of Your word,
For all Your commandments are righteousness.
173 Let Your hand be ready to help me,
For I have chosen Your precepts.
174 I long for Your salvation,
O LORD, And Your law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live that it may praise You,
And let Your ordinances help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep;
seek Your servant,
For I do not forget Your commandments.

Want to hear the verse in context? Psalms 107 – 121
What is this about?

If you’ve never listened to them before or haven’t heard of them there’re two preachers I’d like to introduce you to who’ve preached on this topic, John Piper and John MacArthur. If you’re into great exegesis and very cerebral type sermons then John MacArthur is for you. You can download his sermons from http://www.gty.org.

John Piper is actually a bit different from me Theologically but he has a great delivery style and is very acurate on what matters, The Gospel! You can download his sermons from http://www.desiringgod.org.

Try these sermons for a start:

John Macarthur
The Kind of Worship God Desires, Part 1 (Selected Scriptures)
The Kind of Worship God Desires, Part 2 (Selected Scriptures)
The Kind of Worship God Desires, Part 3 (Selected Scriptures)
The Kind of Worship God Desires, Part 4 (Selected Scriptures)
The Kind of Worship God Desires, Part 5 (Selected Scriptures)

John Piper
All of Life as Worship (Romans 12:1 – 2)

John Fullerton MacArthur

John Fullerton MacArthur, Jr. (born June 19, 1939 in Los Angeles, California) is a United States evangelical writer and minister, noted for his radio program entitled Grace to You. MacArthur is a fifth-generation pastor, a popular author and conference speaker, and has served as the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California since 1969, and as the President of The Master’s College (and the related The Master’s Seminary) in Santa Clarita, California.

Theologically, MacArthur is a conservative Baptist, a strong proponent of expository preaching, a dispensationalist and a self-described Calvinist. He has been acknowledged by Christianity Today as one of the most influential preachers of his time, and is a frequent guest on Larry King Live as representative of an evangelical Christian perspective.

MacArthur has authored or edited more than 150 books, most notably the MacArthur Study Bible, which has sold more than 1 million copies and received a Gold Medallion Book Award. Other best-selling books include his MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series (more than 1 million copies), Twelve Ordinary Men, (more than 500,000 copies), and the children’s book A Faith to Grow On, which garnered an ECPA Christian Book Award.

REZOLUTION Weekend Conference John Piper Pretoria South Africa Antioch Bible Church Grace Fellowship

John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, where he first sensed God’s call to enter the ministry. He went on to earn degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.) and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 30 books and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and an increasing number of grandchildren.