Sunday, 27 May 2018

27th May service: Where is God, when it hurts?

Sermon notes of Norma Fivaz

Isaiah 6:1- 8
Psalms 29
Romans 8

Isaiah 6 is such a familiar chapter. This is the 3rd time that this section of Scripture has been the reading for the day, when I had been asked to lead the service. I have looked at it, from different angles, and I said to God:    “ Father, what do You want me to focus on today?”   I waited, and waited and the more I meditated, the more it became clear:

The PAIN that is expressed in these 8 verses. See if you can identify the pain in each of the readings: 
  • Pain at the spiritual level
  • Pain at the physical level
  • Pain at the emotional level  

I want to deal with “Where is God, when it hurts?”.....and I want you to keep this question in mind, as we analyse these couple of verses in Isaiah 6  this morning.

Philip Yancey, in his book....”Where is God when it hurts?” comes to the conclusion, that there is always PAIN at the root of such a question. Pain at the level of spiritual, physical or emotional pain.

Let's look at the following, and identify the various “pains” that were expressed here:
      1.   The historic setting of the scene that is played off in front of our eyes
2.      King Ussiah /  Azaria   (II Kings 15:1-5;    II Chronicles 26 )
3.      Prophet Isaiah

1.  Historic setting:    
     The book of Isaiah is divided into two sections:
  • Ch 1-39  =  The dark side of this book, where Isaiah was called to tell his people about their sinful ways. He had to speak judgement against the pagan nations around Israel. He had to explain the purpose of God's judgement and he had to point out Jerusalem's true and false hopes.... 
  • Ch 40 -66 = words of comfort

         What pain do we find here?     
  • spiritual pain......people are informed of God's judgement and the exile that they are facing, as God's punishment for not following Him
  • emotional pain.....the uncertainty of the future, living in exile
  • maybe even physical pain, for living as a displaced people ?
2.  The Main Characters:
  King Uzziah / Azaria  :  II Kings 15: 1-6 and II Chronicles 26 ….greater details

King Uzziah was only 16 y old when he became king of Judah. He was referred to as the “boy-king”. In  II Kings 15; 3 a short summary is given of his reign: “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD..” . Unfortunately the following verse has a “However." There is reference to "high places , however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there”.

He didn't give his all. He suffered from spiritual pain....spiritual shortcomings. He turned a blind eye to the pagan sacrifices that continued under his reign. He had both influence and responsibility over his kingdom, and he didn't act according to what God expected of him.

God was NOT satisfied by a halfhearted following (v5)  “The LORD afflicted the king with leprosy" Uzziah therefore experienced physical pain. He had to go and live in a separate (verse 5b) and not in the palace, which certainly must have resulted in humiliation and emotional pain.         

He was a man/leader who followed God, but NOT full out. Half heartedly. Only in the part that he, Uzziah wanted to give God. 

We serve a jealous God. A God who expects ALL of us. A Holy can we be shoddy in our ways and the ways we serve Him?

God says clearly: Love your God with ALL your mind, ALL your heart, All your soul.

100% commitment! Could his spiritual and physical pain that he experienced be explained because he was not 100% committed?

Isaiah, the prophet and scribe lives 570 BC and was the contemporary of Hosea and Micah, two of the minor prophets, whose accounts were also entered into our Bible. The name “Isaiah” means “The Lord saves”. When his parents named him, God already had a plan with his life, he had to proclaim that salvation was to come. (Isa 9:6)
“For unto us a child is born,   to us a son is given....  He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of peace...” 

But these words of comfort starts off in Isa 9:1 “The people walking in darkness...”. That is the message that Isaiah had to tell his people. He had to point out to them that their lives are NOT in order and that they are sinning against the Most High, the Holy God, the God who told you in the days of Moses to love ONE God, with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul.
What kind of pain do we detect here?    Isaiah is experiencing spiritual pain. He is deeply concerned about his people, God's people, not living according to what God prescribed and expected of them.

Not an easy task that God called him to do. Imagine this man of God, wrestling with this task ahead of him and the deep spiritual pain that he felt! 

Where is God when it hurts?

Isaiah sees   God on His throne, in all His glory. (Isa 6: 1-3)
In all the misery of – leprous King and then the death of this statesman,
-        a nation in mourning over their king
-        severe judgement from a God who does not tolerate half-heartedness.

 Where is God in all that hurts? God is sitting on His throne in all His glory!  

While preparing for this morning, and wrestling with what is all means, I read in Job 5: 18 – 25 (2000 BC ) the following:       
v18: He wounds, but He also binds up
        He injures, but His hands also heals
v21: You will be protected from the lash of the tongue and need not fear
v22:You will laugh at destruction... and need not fear
v23: For you have a covenant …..
v24: You will know that your tent is secure....
v25: You will know …..

God sometimes allows these situations, to prune us, trim us, cleanse us, so that we may shine for Him. But all along, He is there.....( on His throne, in all His glory)....

Because we have a covenant, that agreement that we belong to Him. 
v 24 You will know
v 25  You will know 
...we will know that God is there, even when life is hurting.  

Provided....that we have a covenant with Him. A covenant means not only do we have an agreement but also a relationship with Him. 

In Job 19:23 – 25 Job states:  I know that my Redeemer lives

Paraphrased in Job for Modern Man:

How I wish someone would record what I am saying
 Or with a chisel carve my words in stone,
  and write them so they would last forever.
  But I know there is someone in heaven
  who will come at last to my defense.
  I will see Him with my own eyes,
  and He will not be a stranger.

 Rom 8:14-17

v17: “ Now that we are children, then we are heirs  (this implies an inheritance )
         if we share in His sufferings  (God doesn't promise that life will be easy here on earth)

 … order that we may also share in His glory”

What is the application for us today:

·         Where is God when the citrus packing shed in Fort Beauford is being burnt down?
·         Where is God when a man gets killed at his farm gate at Kei Road, and a family is left behind in mourning?
·         Where is God when someone hangs himself from a rafter in the kitchen in Hogsback?
·         When we turn on the news and watch all the atrocities in this dear country of ours.....little children being raped, domestic violence, drugs etc....even here in Hogsback.

What are the things that you are struggling with?...
-        a difficult relationship
-        Uncertainty about the future?
-        Health issues?
-        Children who are not serving God, and who have values differ from yours and what you taught them?

What are your stresses? The things that keep you awake during the small hours of the night?
Is your pain:                            -    physical
-        emotional
-        spiritual

When all was doom & gloom...what did Isaiah see?
Isa 6: 1-3   I saw the LORD
Can you see Him this morning? Do you have a clear picture of Him in your mind /  heart?
Do you know this LORD personally?

            Seated on the throne….High and exalted.
That is His rightful place.
Is that the place that He has in your life?
The first in every option, at every level?

        And the seraphs were calling.....Holy, holy, holy is the LORD almighty.

Is that what your life is shouting out? Are you worshipping God in your thoughts, in your decisions that you take, in your priorities of choices?

Romans 8: 11  “ And if the Spirit … living in you.....Christ will also give life to you....”
                 v 12: Therefore brothers (and sisters), we have an obligation-(NOT A CHOICE) to live according to the Spirit.  A spirit filled life.

In closing:

Where is God when we think ALL is going wrong? Where is God when it hurts?

He is on His throne
All the time
High and exalted
In control.

He has you in His hand. Your name written in the palm of His hand (if you have made the choice to serve Him).

Will you allow a rightful place for Him in your life? 

Let us pray:
            Holy Father, we bring our hurts
                                                   our losses
                                                   our doubts
                                                   our questions
                                                   all that we do not understand about You,
            to You this morning.

We have to trust You, more than understand why we're hurting.

Help us to grow in this trust.
Help us to lean onto You
to let go of trying to figure out all the WHYs and the HOWs which we feel are “unfair”.

“LORD, I do believe, but help me overcome my un-belief”.

Help us to trust You more --- in spite of difficult circumstances.

We bring You our hurts, our doubts, our fears, our guilt.....and we lay them on Your altar.
Strengthen our faith in You.

We honor You!
We worship You!
We praise Your Holy name.


Profile: The Dicks

Quinton and Jeannette Dick are a major force at St Patrick’s. Jeannette is the sacristan and used to clean the chapel weekly; Quinton is Alternate Chapel Warden, Treasurer and lately has played a huge role in building up the chapel garden to magnificence. Their loyalty, service and devotion are an example of disciple hood.

Quinton John Dick was born on 3 May 1937 in King William’s Town. His father was Charles Wallace Dick and mother Eleanore Myrtle Dick nee Passmore.  ‘At age two I was so severely ill that Dr Doran was prepared to sign the death warrant. Mom had a convincing vision that I would live. I did.  In my formative years Dad was a prisoner of war in Italy and Germany. He was forced to do the six hundred-mile walk across Germany, and eventually to freedom, so Mom had to raise me over those four years.’ Quinton continued, ‘I was the younger son by five years, so was subject to some bullying but I survived. I went to St Andrew’s Preparatory School and St Andrew’s College for my education.
At Stellenbosch I completed a BSc with Agricultural Economics as a major.  I played hockey uninterruptedly for Stellenbosch 1st team and Western Province Country Districts and was twice selected as the SA Country District goalkeeper. Coming back to the Eastern Cape, I represented Border and Border Country Districts at Interprovincial hockey festivals.’

‘I farmed with Dad until the war damage caught up with him. In 1963 I had the luck of my life. I found a wonderful woman who agreed to marry me. One doesn’t get luckier than that? We have four sons in our married life, who have all done especially well in life – far better than their father.
Financial problems forced me to further my education and I took eight years to qualify as a Chartered Accountant while farming. The hours were never long enough to do all that was required. I qualified with a B Compt (Hons) degree and a CA, SA.

‘While doing my articles as an accountant, Jeannette ran the farm better than I ever would have and we managed to keep the “magistraat” from the door. Although our sons had an amazing life style on the farm, none wanted to farm, and preferred to follow their chosen careers, so we sold our Quit Rent Grantee farm, and moved to Tilty Hill, a farm in the Nahoon Valley of East London, where we grew 30,000 banana palms on drip-irrigation, had a Touch farm and Tea garden, and a Bed and Breakfast (16 beds) and Conference Centre. We sold Tilty Hill in 2006 and came to a jungle at Hidden Away in Hogsback.

‘A lot of hard work and inspiration went into developing an exciting garden which we trust will really glorify God. We just love to show visitors our garden and the many ways that God can cause stunning pleasure to all that come to see His creations.

St Patrick’s has been a very important part of our lives and we feel completely at home in the positive atmosphere of our congregation. We feel really proud to be part of it too.

Jeannette Dick was born on 18 July in Bedford as the 4th of 6 children (3 girls and 3 boys). Her father was Pieter van Aardt of Patryshoogte, Cookhouse and her mother was Cynthia Hundermark originally of Jagersfontein. Jeannette had a carefree childhood on the farm, Eastpoort. She still remembers ‘the smell of pepper trees on a hot day, rain falling on the hot earth, coffee beans roasting in a wood-fired oven and newly-baked bread’. Her ‘best friend and nanny was Annie Pungulwa, who told Xhosa stories, read from her Xhosa bible’ and the whole family went to her funeral in Cookhouse. The family lived through droughts, floods, hard times and fun times, ‘and then there was school’.

Jeannette was sent to school at North End Grey in Port Elizabeth with her sister. Like so many others, her bad memory was being sent to the dentist. Months later a farm school was started called Nil Desperandum to which she was sent. At this school, a male teacher taught four levels – Sub A to Std 3 - and used a quince stick on those who did not do their homework. Nevertheless, he was not liked ‘hated’ and the children hoped the tokoloshe would get him. What was great fun was going to school in a donkey cart driven by Blokkie and racing the other donkey cart with the three Moolman kids. Being closer to school, she normally won until the Moolmans upgraded to a mule cart. So, her Dad also upgraded to a mule cart and they were back in the race, ‘but just seeing the dust bowl coming towards us along the road turned us frantic and we had to hold onto our starched kappies so as not to lose them, we sped to school.’ 

Her 3rd school was Belvieu in Somerset East while her two older brothers went to Gill College. She remembers ‘wurgpatats’ (sweet potatoes) whose fibres choked the children so that when they were given envelopes to write home on Sundays they would put the sweet potato scrapings into the envelopes and post them into the rubbish bin! In Std 2 she went to the Bedford Convent, (imagine an Afrikaner among the Roman Catholic Rooinecks!). She struggled with doing embroidery which was compulsory. She remembers being rationed sugar which had to be shared between the porridge with worms, a slice of bread with fat and weak tea which is what the meal consisted of (no wonder she still has a sweet tooth!). Then the family moved to King William’s Town and Jeannette was able to repeat Std 3, come in the top three and enjoy school, especially gymnastics and swimming. She remembers racing a handicap race against Joan Harrison when she started on the count of 1 and Joan on the count of 20. They were both disqualified! 

Jeannette trained as a General Nurse in the Provincial hospital in Port Elizabeth and attended Sharley Cribb Nurses College where she won a gold medal and passed cum laude. Then she studied midwifery at Mater Dei in East London (now St Dominics) and passed cum laude. She became Sister on night duty at Grey Hospital, King William’s Town and then moved to Cape Town where she studied Mother Craft at Lady Buxton Home and loved the babies who were to be adopted. Then, ‘Quinton decided to ask me to marry him. He proposed on de Waal Drive. How could I not agree? We could have had an accident!’ They married a year later: Quinton studied accounting; Jeannette ran the farm. They had four sons who all had a wonderful childhood and matriculated from Selborne College. The family grew up at Tilty Hill farm outside East London.

 In 2006 Quinton and Jeannette left their farming friends and retired to Hogsback. They bought Hidden Away which had belonged to the Schonlands. The old buildings were knocked down and a magnificent home built. Hard work and dedication was also given to the garden which has become one of the finest show gardens of Hogsback. Jeannette and Quinton’s hospitality and magnificent meals are legendary. The couple are fully involved socially, and are vital members of the garden club, Probus, Jikani and St Patrick’s. 

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Be filled with the Spirit - David Williams

Eph 5:18
Acts 2:1-4, 12-21, Eph 5:18-20

What do I take with me in the morning? There are a few essentials – keys, phone, licence, trousers… there is another, the filling with the Spirit. Without this my school visits and preaching cannot be successful. The Spirit equips, empowers.

The Spirit is God’s ongoing provision for us, just as a car needs attention after it has been bought. While salvation is an act of the Spirit giving Christ’s life, his ongoing work is the Spirit giving Christ’s power for life and service. The two are seen in John 14:17, and in the contrast between Romans 7 & 8, and elsewhere.

This second work of the Spirit is essential for God’s people. The disciples were convinced believers – they had after all seen the risen Christ, but were told to wait for baptism in the Spirit (Acts 1:4). Then Paul believed when he met Jesus on the Damascus road, but was later filled (Acts 9:17). Even the very Son of God, Jesus, was anointed (Lk 4:18). Three words – one reality

A comparison with wine might help. Paul makes this in Ephesians 5:18, and it is hinted at in Acts 2:13. As with wine, being filled with the Spirit is a deliberate act, even though a few seem to have experienced it without knowing. Drinking affects us in both body and mind, so we are very aware of it – likewise we can recognise the action of the Spirit. I am always loath to preach until I am aware of God’s filling. Then it is likely that wine is provided by the host – do we then refuse it?

Of course wine can be contentious – Ephesians 5:18 says it leads to debauchery, and it is behind many accidents and crimes. Because of this, Wesley demanded abstention (but Jesus’ attitude differed (Mk 7:19), cf also1 Tim 5:23). Likewise, the filling of the Spirit has proved contentious, as with such as tongues, and “slaying in the Spirit”. These must be seen as possible and accepted, but do not always occur. Importantly, Ephesians 5:18 presents commands for us - Be not drunk – but be filled.

The filling is not to be rejected but accepted as a blessing
  • Gives joy – we SING (Eph 5:19)
  • Gives assurance – we KNOW (1 Jn 3:24). The bible often sees the filling as a proof, not something to be proved
  • Gives fellowship – we RELATE (1 Cor 12:13). The context of book of Ephesians is unity in the Church
  • Gives power – we are enCOURAGEd (Acts 4:31, which is a second experience)
Sadly, the effect of the filling wears off. This is why the form of the Greek in Ephesians 5:18 is of a continuous and repeated obedience. I want MORE! Like wine, it is addictive! It is the best thing in Christian experience that I know – my soul longs and thirsts for more.

David T Williams 

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Profile on Terence Barber

Our next member of the St Patrick’s congregation to profile is Terence Barber. Terence is an East Londoner, having been born in the Mater Dei hospital in 1958, the son of Noel and Colleen Barber. His schooling was at Selborne, from Sub A to Matric where he showed great talent at gymnastics. Of interest, is the fact that Terence was taught by Ann in Std 1 and taught by Trevor in Matric in 1976.

As a 7-year old Terence imagined himself as a muscular lifesaver; today he has proved himself in many different ways

A major influence on his life was attending Hobbiton in Std 2. The nature and freedom of Hogsback made an impact on him which he hankered after throughout his life. He realized how much he disliked city water. Terence learnt many plumbing and mechanical skills from his Dad. After school he joined the Merchant Navy in Cape Town and went to sea. He had two trips across to Europe but became upset with the style of life  - too much drinking and, anyway, it was boring. His adventures continued on the sea in a different way. He did ship repair work and was the skipper for the flamenco boat in Simonstown, shown below. His adventurous spirit resulted in his sailing solo across the Atlantic in a flamenco, an 8m boat without an engine.  He then moved into long-distance trucking across the country.

 The flamenco boat he skippered across the Atlantic; the truck he drove in long-distance trucking parked in front of his old school, Selborne College

Terence’s daughter, Candice Cotterill, lived with him while he was at Hogsback. She now lives in East London and has a daughter, Katherine, who is 8 months old, making Terence a grandfather.

Terence was able to fulfil his dream of living at Hogsback in 2002. He spent seven years in a rented cottage with his daughter.  He was able to do jobs in plumbing and building and kept horses. He was devoted to the horses which multiplied to 13. Unfortunately, in 2008, they were stolen while grazing near the microwave tower.  He spent 6 months in 2015 in Mozambique where he planted fruit trees.

His present home is in the veld at Bold Point which was a farm and is now commonage. Sinjani and the Bold Point residents are happy for him to stay there and no one bothers him.  In fact, like a 19th century trekboer, he can’t see his neighbour’s fires!  Previously, he spent three years here. He loves the setting with the Elandsberg close by and the vista across Michell’s Pass and the Kat valley. The natural surroundings offer a spring close by where he is able to drink the pure, clear water.

The area Terence occupies is a km from the road in the open grassland where a pine forest has been cut down. As one travels on the tracks to his home one passes beautiful crowned cranes.  He has chosen a spot with an unused rondavel reservoir which he is repairing and roofing. He has two small boats to remind him of his sea cruising past. He lives in a tent close by under a tree. What a simple, natural and awesome home! 

A typical day starts when he wakes to the splendour of the magnificent sunrise.  He works on the rondavel to erect a roof and drives to the village to do odd jobs. He is happy, satisfied, his ‘own-man’. Is he lonely? No, he is content. He described the lot of the sailor who  has left his boat, he is ‘on the beach’, waiting for his ship to come in.

Terence’s temporary home is a tent in the veld where he is able to fulfill himself in the beauty of the Hogsback nature

 Terence’s future home which he is building in the rondavel where he will grow vegetables and enjoy God’s beauty uncluttered by human ‘progress’

I came away from my visit to Terence absolutely awed by his humility, courage and his acceptance of his lot.

Trevor Webster
April 2018