Monday, 21 November 2016

Goodbye to Ettiene and Lois

We held our end of year Bring and share on Sunday and as always, it was a very sumptuous affair with lots of variety and flavour! Our hosts this year was Lizzie and Vincent Blackbeard and Little Timbers provided a breathtaking venue of garden splendor.

We also made use of the occasion to say goodbye to Etienne and Lois Paroz who will be leaving Hogsback shortly after years of incredible selfless service to our community. Etienne has practically helped absolutely everybody with beautifying their gardens and more and have also kept the church garden looking amazing over the years.

As a token of our gratitude, Josef created an amazing Azalea wattle photo to remind them of their special family back here in Hogsback!

It was so nice to sit at the communal table and enjoy the fellowship. We really do have an amazing little community!

Sermon Sunday 20th November: I believe, help my unbelief

Verse for today: Mark 9:24

The story tells of a call for help, a situation of desperation. Do we feel hopelessness?  We are faced with circumstances that we feel helpless in, and there is one situation in which we can have no hope unless we are Christian - see Hebrews 2:3

The man did the right thing, he came to Jesus - the disciples could not help.  When we have difficulty, where do we go? Is our faith in church, or in people?  Do we see Jesus  as the only answer? Jn 14:6

The man's suffering was an impetus to faith; in that sense it was good James 1:2f, Rom 5:3f.  Suffering quells the desire for autonomy, the claim "I do not need You!" That feeling is the cause of sin, which itself leads to suffering

Jesus responded to the man, "if you can".  It is hard to trust.  It is hard to believe that Jesus is God, which had just been seen in the Transfiguration, but it is only as God that He can help.  Then it is hard to believe that He died in order to save, but that is the only way.  See John14:6

The man exclaimed "I believe!" This showed his faith, which is the condition for help (Heb11:6).  We must come, or do we just presume?  Without faith can we expect to receive? (James 1:7-8). We have to go to the doctor, have faith, or he cannot help!  But he realised his faith was weak, so exclaimed,

"Help my unbelief!" The word is "help", so we do what we can to increase our faith - we use the means of grace.  The wonderful thing is that God will also help us; He works in us to increase our faith.

"Help my unbelief"  he had faith, but it needed development. He had to go from faith to faith (Rom 1:16), from salvation to growth. Paul explains that the righteous live by faith, quoting Habakkuk 2:4, which is not only eternal life, but also now.  In the growth of faith, we develop the mind of Christ.  When we pray in His will, then all things are possible (Mk 9:23), but we need to know His will to pray effectively.  It is not that "if we ask anything he hears us", but ""if we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL he hears us (Jn 5:14).

Did the man still doubt? Surely he wanted to share what God had done for him.  Do we share the news of our salvation, of answered prayer?  Such sharing will be good for the faith of others.

Prof David T Williams
Theology (retired)

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Our annual retreat: How to change your mind!!!!

Our annual retreat is always a special time and this year it was held at a really special place, Hunterstoun, here in Hogsback itself. It was gently lead by Leon Van Niekerk. The focus was on taming our our thoughts and emotions for in order to experience spiritual growth. At a time were so many disturbing world and country events are stealing our joy, this quiet time was just what the doctor ordered to give us perspective.

We started off on Friday afternoon by exploring God's plan for spiritual growth and how our thoughts are game changers. We learned that it is not true that just because we thought of it it has to be true! Many of our thoughts come from a position of fear and fear is the opposite of faith. God did not wire our brains for fear, He created us to love. Fear has no place!

Our brains consist of 3 distinct areas ( emotions--> thinking--> Doing) with a logical process and we have to constantly be aware of how we allow our emotions to create toxic thoughts that results in negative deeds that make us feel guilty and so the cycle continues. To be closer to God we need to break that endless loop!!

We explored the principles of spiritual growth by first looking at what it is (Phil 3:13-14 and Gal 5:24-25). We reflected on that we were created in God's image (Gen 1:27) and that we need to choose carefully every day (Josh 24:15). The mind was created for good (Eccles 7:29) so that we have no need to fear at all.

So how did the mind get so corrupted (2 Cor 11:3) and how can we allow God to renew our minds (Rom 12:2). we have to constantly be aware that our thoughts define who we are (Prov 23:7) and if we want to break out of this negative cycle of toxic thoughts we need to focus our minds on Christ (1 cor 2:16). We have to commit to a process of re-organising our minds because God gave us the ability to choose.

In the first session on Saturday, we started by identifying our toxic thoughts and emotions and learned that toxic thoughts are thoughts that trigger negative and anxious emotions, which produce biochemicals that cause the body to stress. They are stored in our minds, as well as in the cells of our body. Examples of this is:

  • Worries
  • Could-have, would-have and if-only thoughts
  • Swirling thoughts in our head at the moment
  • Consuming thoughts
  • Replaying things over and over in your mind
We then send some quiet time to identify our personal toxic thoughts (Matt 6:25-34) and for some of us this was really painful ground to step on! We thought about (and listed) what the deep rooted origins of our destructive thoughts are and what we are worrying about. Through this we realised that we miss out on life because of our worries. This text also give us guidance towards spiritual growth. 

This brought us to a way by which we can demolish toxic thoughts by replacing them with truthful spiritual thoughts. To demolish them we looked at how thoughts impact on so many things,  brain and body, our mental health and spiritual development (see Deut 20:19, Ps 34:11-16, Prov 3:7-8, Deut 5:9). Thoughts can make us physically ill and we therefore need to let go of all the baggage that are creating all these toxic thoughts. This is easier said than done but a practical idea is to maybe write a letter to the person that caused you pain. We do not need to give it to them but just committing it to paper and maybe burning it will be a physical way of letting go of what is keeping us mentally captive. So how do we let go from a spiritual perspective?
  • Start with: Prov 4:20-22
  • Rewrite events with positive thinking: Fil 4:8
  • Replace the effects of crushing thoughts with the words of God James 1:21
  • Our perspective counts with Christ the vine John 15:5
  • Through meditation Josh 1:8
  • Consequence Ps 46:10 
We then created a personal plan to implement thoughts and emotions towards spiritual growth. The following scriptures guides us in identifying 5 things to implement
  • Col 3:15-17; Col 4:2-6; Phil 4:4-9; Prov 4:20-23 
We used the following questions to guide us:
  • Awareness: Which thought (sometimes) get stuck in my mind that I want to address? And how do I want them to be part of me
  • Thinking through: What (which thoughts) would I rather focus on mentally?
  • Focus positively: How can I remind myself of these (GO(O)D) thoughts/truths daily? 
  • Take action: What could I do to re-enforce new thoughts and express them (personally, with friends and family, strangers....)
We concluded this practical, inspirational session with a morning service on Sunday at the St Patrick Chapel were Leon summed it all up for us in this wonderful verse: 

We want to thank Norma for organising this time out for us and for Leon Van Niekerk for leading us in such a gentle way through sacred ground! 


Friday, 11 November 2016

Services and events November 2016 to March 2017

The services as from November to March next year is as follows:

November 2016 (sideswomen Helen Fox/Maggie Verster )
Sunday 6th, 10am                United                    Neil Cooper
Thursday 10th, 4h30pm                                     Council Meeting 10 November at Trevor’s
Friday 11th, 3pm                 Retreat                   Hunterstoun
Saterday 12th, 9pm             Retreat                   Hunterstoun
Sunday 13rd, 10am             United                   Liz Thomas and Leon van Niekerk  
Sunday 20th, 10am            Baptist                   Prof Rev David Williams, Ben Fourie, Bible Society
Thanksgiving Bring & Share, Little Timbers 
Sunday 27th, 10am             Anglican               Earth Service: Rev Dr Liz Thomas and Helen Fox

December 2016 (sidesmen Carol Neith/Tonya Burton)
Sunday 4th, 10am                Afrikaans               Ds Leon van Niekerk
Sunday 11th, 10am             Anglican                 Rev Dr Liz Thomas
Sunday 18th, 10am             Baptist                   Prof Rev David Williams 
Saturday 24th, 5:30pm        Carol Service        Lay Ministers: Norma/Ann
Sunday 25th, 8am                Anglican                 Rev Liz Thomas (or visiting minister)
                        10am              Arboretum            Rev Dr Liz Thomas

January 2017 (sidesmen Chris/Keri Everton)
Sunday 1st, 10am                 United                    Neil Cooper
Sunday 8th, 10am                Anglican                 Rev Dr Liz Thomas
Sunday 15th, 10am             Baptist                    Rev Dr David Williams         
Sunday 22nd, 10am             Afrikaans               Ds Nico Bezuidenhout        
Sunday 29th, 10am             United                    Rev Dr Liz Thomas

February 2017 (sidesmen Stuart/Lindy Dewing)
Sunday 5th, 10am                Afrikaans               Ds Leon van Niekerk, Tuesday 14th Valentine’s Day                     
Sunday 12th, 10am             Anglican                 Rev Dr Liz Thomas
Sunday 19th, 10am             Baptist                    Prof Rev David Williams
Sunday 26th, 10am             Installation of Liz Thomas as Priest by Bishop Ebenezer 

March 2017 (sidesmen Harold/Irene Nicholls) 
Sunday 5th, 10am                United                    Neil Cooper; Council Meeting 9 March at Maggie’s
Sunday 12th, 10am             Anglican                 Rev Dr Liz Thomas, Vestry, Congregation Bring & Share  
Sunday 19th, 10am             Baptist                    Prof Rev David Williams; 17th St Patrick’s Day, 21st Human Rights

Sunday 26th, 10am             Afrikaans               Ds Nico Bezuidenhout

You can always find the latest version on the services page as well!!