Little Falls Band – Honouring Jesus

Little Falls Band – Honouring Jesus
With the pressure of the world on working musicians and singers, it’s hard to find a group of artists united together with a true understanding that all gifts come from the Father and are to be used to honour Him above all else. The ‘Little Falls Band’ is resisting the temptations of the world, whilst still having an impactful role to play in it. Most of the band musicians who worship together in one spirit, with one vision (to see God glorified) are professionals and earn a living performing music. They are well versed in every genre and join regularly to worship Jesus in church, at events and productions and through recording albums.

Bringing their gifts to the Lord
Their contemporary sound caters for all ages, but it’s the excellence and passionate lyrics that truly set the ‘Little Falls Band’ apart from traditional ‘church’ bands. The driving force behind the team is Marie Watson, daughter of Harold and Maud Weitsz (founders and pastors of Little Falls Christian Centre in Roodepoort). Gifted with the ability to draw out the most creative environments for her team, Marie is committed to seeing their talents used by the Lord. “I truly get a kick out seeing people move passionately in their gifting from God and ultimately be there to experience the fruit thereof. It is life changing to have one’s gifting come in line with the Will of God.”

Sacrificing secular gigs for God
The team seems to flow in the gifts of the Spirit, namely humility and faithfulness. Even with their individual fame, they are not moved from their commitment and accountability to ‘the Sunday Platform’. Having sacrificed high paying gigs on Sundays, the artists remain committed to worshipping with the church on Sundays. The blessings thereof have been abundant in their careers, as they give Him alone the glory and honour. Every Tuesday the team meets at Marie’s home where they are constantly challenging one another to maintain a pure Christian lifestyle. The trust, accountability and friendship between these muso’s is God-breathed.

Finding meaning in music
Theo Kassen, the bassist in the group shares his testimony on how his life changed: “I was raised in a Christian home and started playing guitar in church from the age of 12. Church life was all I knew growing up and so after many years leading a Christian life, the world got the better of me and I turned my back on the church, not wanting to stay involved.

I started playing with a popular Afrikaans music artist and spent most of my time on the road touring. I partied like there was no tomorrow. Laying drunk in bed after a big show one night, the reality of how empty my life was, hit hard. I needed to change, and six months later I was booked to play at a 60th birthday celebration. It was just another gig for me, but little did I know that God had other plans! It ended up being Pastor Harold Weitsz’ party. God used this event to bring me home again. Not only am I playing in church, but I am happily married and blessed. God has fully restored my life and I can truly testify that He is Lord of the second chance. “

Exchanging fame and fortune
Kurt Herman, another band member and vocalist, also had a hectic past of partying. “After succumbing to a life of drugs, sex and alcohol abuse from an early age, I found myself on a beach in Cape Town about to OD. It was at this point that I clearly heard the voice of God saying, “Turn to Me, and I will give you a second chance.” He opened up a door for me in the music business through winning a talent competition, where I gained ‘star status’ and enjoyed fame – and sadly became full of the pride of life. I went back to ground zero again and with my wife, tried to build a music empire. After failing repeatedly we finally surrendered our lives to Christ, and started building our lives on the Word of God. Subsequently, we have seen God take us from nothing to an overflow of blessing.

We are humbled by the people that He has put around us – our pastors; our leaders; our worship team; our business and all the friends and family.”

The hard lessons that the members of The ‘Little Falls Band’ have learnt, along with their commitment to serving the Lord is paying off. Lives are being impacted by their music, and the Kingdom is being expanded through their obedience and the surrender of their talents to His Will. They have produced 9 albums and are available for Christian events.

Compiled by Jackie Georgiou

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Seasons of Marriage

Seasons of Marriage
Over the years I have listened to the stories of many people who have experienced family break-up, but one small boy sticks out in my mind. He was ten years old and his father had just left his mother. He was sitting outside his house, looked up and said, “My father doesn’t love my mother anymore and he has left us now – what does a kid do?”

But it’s not just young children who feel this way. Laura Telfer, a counsellor for 18 years, says that splitting up when the children are older can seem like an attractive option: “There is definitely a susceptible time when the children leave home when all possibilities seem open. But it does not make the unexpected desertion any easier. What can be an exciting venture for one partner is invariably a painful grieving episode for other family members. Children watch appalled as their family, that secure and safe place that survived all their childhoods, is swiftly dismantled.”

The biting winds of winter
If the course of married life has seasons, then most begin in summer. They are days filled with warmth when we not only say we are in love, but we feel in love. Of course, to love in summer is relatively easy but marriages that are to last have a much harsher test ahead: the challenge of  ‘August love’ – of surviving the winter of our relationship. Whereas our relationship in summer was characterised by warm breezes, we find that biting winds now test our love. These are dark and cold days, but there is no relationship that does not, at some time, have to love in August: that has to love, at least for a while, not ‘because of’ but ‘in spite of’.

Loving ‘in spite of’
Marriages break up, relationships fail – those things are a fact of life. But it’s also a fact that we will never find a lasting relationship with anybody unless we are ready at some time to fight to keep our love alive against the odds – to love in August.

I remember counselling a couple in their mid-twenties; they had a baby and were about to divorce. I asked the man why he wanted to divorce his wife. He said, “I don’t feel in love anymore.”

As he spoke, I couldn’t help but gaze at the little bundle that his wife cradled in her arms. I said, “Did nobody tell you when you married that there will be times when the feeling of love will diminish? Did nobody warn you that love that lasts, does so by loving – at least for a time – with not the heart, but the will”? He looked genuinely surprised. “No,” he said. “Nobody told me that.”

Nobody told him this and yet grasping this simple principle would allow many relationships that fall at the first hurdle to at least have a chance of surviving. You will not keep your family together if a prerequisite is that you and your partner always feel in love. Couples that stay together are prepared to go through periods in their relationship where commitment, responsibility, and sometimes ‘what’s best for the children’ is what keeps them together. ‘For the sake of the kids’ is not always the right reason to stay together, but it’s still a good reason. None of us want to live our whole lives loving with gritted teeth, but there are thousands of couples who tried again, perhaps ‘for the sake of the kids’ and in the process rediscovered a love they’d thought was gone forever.

In almost every marriage there will come a time when the ‘feeling’ of love is at a very low ebb. Such times may creep up on us over the years or may be linked to specific strains in the relationship – the birth of a child, financial pressure, sickness, or redundancy.  And it’s at this point that something sometimes enters the relationship that, in its ability to destroy families, is in a league of its own: the affair.

The price tag of an affair
Some time ago I met Jeremy. He too had reached a period in his marriage when he no longer ‘felt in love’.  Whether that was hastened by him being attracted to a woman in his office is something we’ll never know. But I suspect his marriage had been going through a stale patch, and the new woman made him look at his wife and his life with a growing dissatisfaction.

He told me his story on a rainy Saturday afternoon in a McDonald’s next to a cinema complex. He was now divorced and had recently broken up with the woman he’d left his wife for. He had access to his children once every two weeks. They were sitting at a nearby table, colouring and looking bored.  He said, “It’s hard to know where to take them if it’s raining,” and then added, “I’d like to tell all the men out there that the affair is great – for a while. But it’s just not worth it”.

“These are my kids, for goodness’ sake. I’m their father and I’ve just been with them for three hours stuck in a lousy cinema because there’s nowhere else to go, and now I have to take them back like a couple of library books.”

I’ve seen all kinds of things destroy families. But I believe that nothing comes close to ‘the affair’ for having the ability so quickly and with such surgical skill to decimate families – and often for so little. It’s as if the affair whispers: “Trust me. I know you’ve heard what this can do to families, but it will be different for you. Just take the next step.”

Of course, the end results of an affair can vary. Some people find new and fulfilling relationships, and some feel cheated after just a few days, but in my experience those involved in an affair always exhibit the same two characteristics.

The stages of an affair
The first is  ‘a period of temporary insanity’. During this time, people act totally out of character. They set aside previously held personal or religious beliefs. They sometimes begin to dress differently – perhaps younger, more daring, and almost everything in their lives – children, job, home –  comes second to the sheer thrill of this affair. During this period, people often ‘rewrite’ the story of their lives. They say things such as, “We were so young when we got married – we didn’t really know what we were doing,” “We’ve never really been happy,” “I was always dissatisfied”. It’s not that they haven’t gone through difficult times, but the trick of the affair is that it manages to wipe out every memory of love or happiness that ever genuinely existed. The second period always follows – within a few weeks or sometimes a few years – but there is no exception. It’s a moment when reality kicks in. For a while, everything in the new relationship is thrilling and fun, but eventually the excitement dies and the couple discover that even in their new love nest the taps still leak, the bills still need paying, and babies still wake up crying. In short, they discover that ‘the other man’s grass may be greener, but it still needs mowing.’

Losing everything; trying again
It’s as if at the beginning of the affair the cost was negligible, but that quickly changes. In the early stages the price is rarely on the ticket – in fact, initially the price tag reads, ‘Free’. There’s no harm in it – some flirting, a little time together. But as it progresses, suddenly it’s more expensive. It now calls for a little deceit – ‘I’ll be home a little later on Tuesday, darling.’  They say to themselves, ‘This is the person I should have married.’

Then one day, they walk into the shop and the price tag has changed for the last time. And now it reads: ‘Everything’. They gasp when they see it. They protest that they couldn’t possibly pay it without losing almost everything they’ve ever loved – their husband, their wife, their kids, maybe their friends and wider family, and perhaps their home or even their job.

Can marriages recover from affairs? Of course. Can those marriages be stronger than they were before? Yes. But the affair is a breach of trust so great that it tears at the very heart of a relationship, and although the love may return, it may take a long time for trust to be restored. Sometimes, even for the sake of our own long-term happiness, we have to begin with not what is ‘best for me’, but for them.

by Rob Parson

A Promise to Count on

All day long, Sulamith Mortzshke watched little children growing up. She was a kindergarten teacher. She loved her work, yet it brought her pain because she wanted a child of her own so badly. Her husband was a respected man, and they both felt called to be Godly parents, bringing up children to serve the Lord. But after five years of trying to conceive, Sulamith knew that something was wrong…

Infertile and desperately unhappy
She began to blame herself and felt that her inability to conceive somehow made her less of a woman. In the depths of her heart, she sensed that her husband could have done better if he had picked another mate. Every woman she met seemed a better candidate.
Each day a toddler would suddenly cry out his or her mother’s name and rush to the door for a warm embrace. Sulamith could hardly bear to watch anymore, fearing that she would never hear that sound from her own child, nor know that bond of true motherhood. This pain nagged her so much that she could hardly meet the gaze of the mothers she served. She felt inferior and unworthy of their esteem.
In desperation, she and her husband visited their family doctor who used all the latest reproductive techniques. The combined knowledge of all the medical specialties that could help them was available  – for a high price…

Undergoing a barrage of tests
A series of comprehensive tests were started as did interviews by medical staff.  They asked various personal questions and conducted numerous tests to find out if it was it a malfunction in her ovaries or a problem with his sperm count. Some of the tests were humiliating for the couple; at times they felt like lab rats. When they went home from the clinic they felt saddened – it seemed wrong to be investigating a gift from God with such intrusive methods. And yet, they didn’t know what else to do.
At this very time, I had planned a Christ for all Nations Fire Conference in Germany. As with all such conferences, I am focused on inspiring every believer to his or her calling as a witness for Jesus Christ.
An incredible promise from God
In the audience that night, Sulamith and her husband were deeply touched. In their hearts they made new commitments to witness for Jesus. As they returned to their everyday lives, they would seek to preach the Gospel to everyone the Lord brought across their path.
I came to the podium to close the meeting in prayer. As everyone bowed their heads, I began to pray God’s blessing and power into the lives of all of those present. As I prayed this however, Sulamith became overwhelmed with a feeling of desperation. Nothing meant more to her as a soul winner than guiding the growth of her own child, dedicated to God from her womb. She began to plead with God. “Dear Lord, please speak to Reinhard about our need. Please let him speak about our desire for a baby.”
At the podium, I suddenly stopped praying. The Spirit was tapping at the door of my heart. My ministry director, Peter van den Berg, and others who were with me on the platform, still remember this moment.
“I feel that I should not go on,” I said, “until I have prayed for the sick. I will now pray for the sick before we leave this place.” As I began to pray, the Spirit pressed these words into my heart and mind. I spoke them aloud, “Someone here has an intense desire to have a child. Count from this day, nine months, and you shall have a baby.” Meanwhile, Sulamith could hardly contain herself. “Could these words be for me, Lord?” She wondered.

A shocking medical prognosis
That night Sulamith talked with her husband. She told him how she had secretly prayed that God would speak to me as I had delivered the closing prayer. Her faith had been ignited as I had stopped to address that very issue. Her husband struggled to raise his hopes to believe that God had interrupted this great meeting just to deliver a message to them, but he could not deny that I had spoken those exact words and chose to believe the prophecy.
Ten days after the conference their telephone rang. A staff member from the Child Wish Centre called with the bad news – the medical experts at the clinic had examined all of the data from their fertility tests and had reached a conclusion: there was no hope for them to ever conceive a child. The doctors had determined that artificial fertilisation would not work in their case. Not even surgery would make a difference. The staff member said that the doctors had suggested that they turn their full attention toward adopting a child.
Sulamith was stunned. All of her hopes, lifted so high by my words at the conference, came crashing down like a shattered crystal goblet. The Lord had told her to count nine months. The doctors were telling her to count nothing at all.

A nine month prophecy fulfilled
Feelings of inferiority descended like a dark cloud. The ache of never bearing a child as a biological mother returned with a vengeance. Days later, a letter arrived from the clinic reiterating their counsel. As she shared it with her husband, they both knew that their earlier decision to accept God’s Word to them had taken on added weight. Their faith was shaken, but also strengthened – if they would have a child, only God could make it happen.
Sulamith returned to her kindergarten. She watched other people’s children play. She helped them learn about God and His love for them. She poured herself into helping these little ones grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Each day she would wonder if God had spoken to another woman that day and not her.
Seven weeks passed. Sulamith sensed that something was different in her. At first she dared not to say anything, but her body was definitely going through changes. At last she shared these new feelings with her husband. Immediately, he scheduled a trip to the doctor. The doctor did his testing and could not believe the results. Sulamith was seven weeks pregnant. Impossible!
Ten weeks after the conference, I received an email telling me that a pregnancy had resulted from the promise spoken that day. The mother and the baby tested normal and healthy and the due date was February 23, 2000 – exactly nine months from the day God had declared it.
Today, the Mortzschkes are raising two healthy children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Sulamith has received the desires of her heart. I tell you by the same Spirit that whispered to my heart in that night – God has good plans for you. Count on it.

Getting to Know the Real Joyce Meyer

Getting to Know the Real Joyce Meyer
Regardless of one’s denomination or church background, most Christians have heard of Joyce Meyer (68). She is the top selling female non-fiction Christian author of the last decade and has written over 90 books, and produced TV and radio programmes in 39 languages and in 200 countries.

An influential leader
Each year, Joyce conducts close to fifteen conferences (and has spoken at Hillsong Australia and many other churches), teaching practical principles from God’s Word. She has many loyal fans around the globe – from grannies all the way down the generational lines to teenage girls. They find Joyce warm, humble, funny, endearing and honest – traits not often associated with influential Christian leaders.

Her ministry has a strong social outreach focus (both nationally and globally) and – contrary to popular belief – Joyce gives substantial financial offerings back into various nation building projects.

The woman behind the ministry
Joyce was born in Missouri (a US state bordered by Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennesse, Kentucky amongst others) in 1943. Her father went into the army to fight in World War II soon after she was born, and upon his return, began sexually abusing her.

After a disastrous marriage just out of high school, Joyce Hutchinson remarried an engineering draftsman, Dave Meyer in 1967. Today the couple have four grown children and are still faithfully committed to each other and the ministry God has given them (Many people wrongly assume Joyce  heads up her ministry alone, but she is fully supported by her husband and they have a board of directors that oversee the projects she undertakes).

Though being born-again at age nine, Joyce drifted from her faith; but it was at 35 that Joyce believes she had an encounter with the Lord, “I didn’t have any knowledge. I didn’t go to church. I had a lot of problems, and I needed somebody to kind of help me along…One day as I was driving I heard God say my name. Later, I [felt His Spirit and love flowing through me].”

Joyce was a member of her local Lutheran Church, but later began leading a morning Bible class at a cafeteria and became active in Life Christian Centre, a charismatic church. Within a few years, she was the church’s associate pastor, where she gained popularity as a Bible teacher, and was asked to broadcast a 15 minute daily devotional programme on a local radio station.

Responding to critics
In 1985, Joyce stepped down from the pastoral team and founded her own ministry. In 1993, Dave suggested that they start a television ministry. With the TV exposure came intense criticism, as a spotlight was shone on her burgeoning bank account.
Responding to critics that admonish her wealthy lifestyle, Joyce has said, “there’s no need for us to apologise for being blessed…You can be a businessman, and people think the more you have, the more wonderful it is…but if you’re a preacher, then all of a sudden it becomes a problem.”

A dedicated humanitarian
Joyce has a heart for the poor and through her ministry has given the following in 2010 alone:
• More than 29 million meals served feeding over 6 000 children daily
• In St. Louis, over 243 000 meals to the homeless, disadvantaged children
• Free medical care to 236 000 people
• More than 1 100 children cared for daily in 45 children’s homes
• 16 new freshwater wells with over 370 built throughout India and other remote locations to date
• 200 000 prison gift bags and over 2 million distributed since 1998
• In Haiti, food, water and free medical care to over 150 000 including 100 new homes built; $9.4 million contributed to date for disaster assistance globally.

Discerning what we hear
Whether you like her style or not, no one can deny that Joyce loves Jesus and people. Her humanitarian efforts alone are awe-inspiring. Like any public figure, Joyce’s mistakes and theological musings have been laid bare for all to analyse. And as with all leaders, she must be held accountable for how she conducts her private and public lives.

I encourage JOY! readers to always pray about the books they read, the people they listen to, and the discussions they engage in. No one is going to get everything right (though we certainly aim for perfection). Let’s not judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions  – an unfair scale indeed.

Supporting public leaders
Let us as the Body of Christ love our own, give each other the benefit of the doubt and pray for leaders like Joyce Meyer, her family and her ministry.

by Jackie Georgiou

7 Things Your Teen Needs To Know

7 Things Your Teen Needs To Know
Everyone is looking for love and affection; it is one of the greatest human needs. The Bible has a lot to say about love, but most teens are only listening to the media’s message, which is that love is shown through sex and physical acts.

Encouraging purity
Teens need to hear the truth and protect their hearts, souls and bodies from a shallow degrading lie. Our organisation, Youth Corporation, has an abstinence programme called TAG’D which combines cool, visual dog tags emblazoned with Scripture to give kids an identity rooted in Christ’s purity. We combine the tags with a curriculum called Focus on Relationships, which is used in schools and youth groups. We teach the following truths:

1. The enemy wants to destroy you
Life is full of brokenness and our children are exposed to things prematurely. Our five senses are constantly bombarded with  messages that impact young minds, and create experiences that shape their thinking. Your child has wounds from being exposed to this world and its thinking and the enemy will keep on attacking them without stopping. We need to get involved and challenge their mindsets and guard our children.

2. There are two models
The movies teach us one model of how relationships work – sex comes first (and often easily) and love follows later. Commitment is fleeting and if a guy doesn’t get what he wants, he moves on to the next girl. Divorce is now ‘normal’ according to the media, and is an easy way out of marriage. We need to teach our children the Bible’s model for relationships which begins with abstinence and ends with a sexual commitment in marriage.

3.True love sacrifices
Kids need to know that true love is not dictated by one’s hormones or by infatuation and attraction. True love is demonstrated by honouring the other person, respecting them and laying down your life for them in a  marriage covenant. (1 John 3:16)

4. Know about the ANC
Attraction, Nearness (Phileo) and Commitment must follow in this order. Most of the time teens feel attracted and get together in commitment straight away, without first getting to know each other as friends in nearness. Attraction is not the glue that keeps relationships together, nearness is. 

5. Know why to embrace purity
Teens won’t stay pure and embrace this lifestyle if they don’t understand why. Learning about the love God has for us (and the different types of love He has created such as Phileo, Agape and Eros) will help teens walk the narrow road and choose to wait. Agape, Phileo and Eros are different words used by the Bible to describe love for different people in differed capacities in our lives. Eros love which is physical, passionate love, is to be shared in the boundary of marriage.

6. Predecide to wait
Trying to make a decision on the spur of the moment to stay pure, will never succeed. Teens need to follow the ABCD principle:
• Accountable: choose a few close friends to regularly speak to about your goals and struggles
• Boundaries: set boundaries as to what is acceptable according to the Bible. Decide before hand what you will and won’t do in the context of a friendship, and let this guide your behaviour
• Commitment (to ABC above) : your child should have a strong conviction that this is the way you do life. Now while they are young, in their school work, future marriages and even in their jobs one day. The A.B.C.D. principles build strong character
•Discipline: sometimes it will be tough sticking to your principles and standing
out from the crowd. Don’t give up!
Not every one is having teen sex, not every one is smoking or taking drugs. The few that do, make the majority feel bad that they don’t. Bad character is available everywhere, good character needs to be worked at. 2 Tim 2:22 says to group yourself with others and to flee youthful desires. It’s much easier to stay strong when you have friends standing with you. Encourage your teen to take a stand and do what you can to support their decision.

by Fanie Bolleurs

The Cup of Life

The Cup of Life
Holy Communion is essential to the spiritual life of Christians. It is not optional, we are commanded by our Master to receive it. It is no more optional than water baptism (Romans 6). Likewise the Scripture says, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come” 1 Cor 11:26. In receiving the Lord’s Supper we are carrying out the command of our Lord and Master.

There have been many debates about Holy Communion. This is sad, for I feel that simply receiving Communion is one of the most important blessings in a Christian’s life. Once I preached at a church in Ireland and ministered to them for an entire week. On the Sunday that I preached, they had a Communion service, but asked me to sit aside as I was “not a member of their church” and could thus not partake in Holy Communion! This was a sad day for me.

Holy Communion is a memorial
What is Holy Communion? Most of us have participated in it at some time. Holy Communion is a memorial to the New Covenant, or New Testament, through which we enjoy a new relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He provided this new relationship through His death. Through Holy Communion we recall that Christ died for us and that we have salvation because of His death.

The bread and the cup
He has left us emblems representing His Body and His Blood. The bread speaks to us of the Body of our Lord, broken by the stripes that were inflicted on Him. The cup represents the Blood shed by our Lord. It speaks to us of eternal salvation, of redemption through His precious Blood.

We frequently hear the ordinance referred to as the Lord’s Supper, or the Lord’s Table. These names stress that it is the Lord’s – and not the exclusive property of any one group or individual. At other times we may call it Holy Communion, because it is a time of communing in a personal, intimate way with our Lord Jesus. By any name, this ordinance is inexorably linked to the death of Christ. It points to the Cross. It is a memorial to the One who died, yet is not dead. It points to the grave, yet is intended for those who have eternal victory over the grave. The Lord’s Supper is more than mere form or ritual. It is a source of healing, for it memorialises the stripes by which we are healed.

It is a source of fellowship, for in observing it we come into fellowship with others who know Christ as Lord. It is a reminder of the constant union we enjoy with the Saviour. The Lord’s Supper is a grand paradox. It looks backward at death as a defeated foe, rather than forward to it as a dreaded villain. It points to a broken Body and shed Blood, yet views death as the beginning of life. The Lord’s Supper speaks of death, yet its subject is life. Its bread is the bread of life, its cup, the cup of life.

Old and New
In the Old Testament there was the Passover. In the New Testament there is Holy Communion. Both are celebrated to help us remember the moment of deliverance. Of what should we be reminded when we consider the Lord’s Supper? First, we ought to remember that it is the Lord’s Supper, not man’s. Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, initiated it; it was not born in the hearts of men. It was not instituted by Church councils. It is not a ritual that has been added to the Church. The Lord’s Supper is an original function of the Church, one that has been observed from the beginning of church life. Christ initiated it, and in so doing He became, in a remarkable and mysterious fashion, the very memorial we observe today. The Lord is the Lord’s Supper.

The nature of the Lord’s Supper
We do not say that the bread we partake of is literally and chemically transformed into the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth. We do not mean to imply that the fruit of the vine is literally and chemically transformed into His Blood. However, we cannot overemphasise the truth that when we eat of the bread and drink of the cup we take unto ourselves the essence of Christ Himself.

What better way to picture such a transaction than by eating and drinking? Nutritionists have long told us that we become what we eat, or more accurately, what we eat becomes us. Today’s muscle and bone were last week’s meat and milk. Today’s bread and fish will become next week’s blood and tissue. The one who eats and the thing that is eaten eventually become one.

Our union with Christ
Our union with Jesus Christ is the same. As we take Him, we become one with Him and He one with us. It is communion, a common union or bond between the Lord and the individual believer. It is the Lord coming to man. It is His supper, His table, His fellowship. It is not a church’s supper, or a denomination’s supper. It is the Lord’s Supper.

The partakers of the Supper
To more fully understand the Lord’s Supper we must not only see that it is His, but we must understand with whom He is pleased to share it. To whom, indeed, was that first celebration of this ordinance presented? The first Communion of our Lord was given exclusively to His disciples, the apostles. It was not given to His enemies, that they might mock Him and sneer at Him. There was no place at that table for anyone who was not a disciple.

You will remember that Judas left before Jesus passed the bread and wine. This fact shows us that Holy Communion is not for unbelievers. The unregenerated man or woman has no place at the Lord’s Table. We have already seen that in partaking of this supper, we celebrate and come into a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. We are one with Him. This union is only possible because we have been born into His family through salvation.

An exclusive ordinance
As baptism affirms, we have accepted His death as our death to sin and as payment in full for sin’s penalty. We have accepted His burial as the putting away of our old nature. We have accepted His Resurrection  as the coming to life, or quickening, in us of God’s Spirit. We are dead to sin and alive to God. That which we once were, a son of Adam, became totally unacceptable to God. However, in Christ, that old man was put away and the new man was born.

Only that new man can come into union with Christ. Only that new man can know the intimacy of Holy Communion with the Lord of glory. How can that which is totally unacceptable to God come into union with His Son? It cannot. Paul, writing by Divine inspiration, gave stern warnings to those who would eat the bread of communion or drink from the cup unworthily.

We need to understand that the Lord’s Supper is offered exclusively to those who are the Lord’s by new birth. As we understand the union with Christ and our fellow believers that are ours through the Lord’s Supper, we come to a fuller appreciation of the symbolism of the elements and practices of the Lord’s Table. The cup of blessing represents the Blood Jesus shed for us. He said of the cup. “This is the Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many” Matt 26:28.

The significance of symbolism
As we look back into the Old Testament, we cannot escape the striking parallel between the Lord’s Supper and the Passover Feast. In fact, it was at the observance of Passover that the Lord’s Supper was instituted.  The one pointed forward to the other. The Passover was a time of witness. The father of each household explained to his children how the death angel had passed through Egypt.

The Passover:
a shadow of Calvary
In every home where the blood of the sacrificial lamb had not been applied to the door post, the first-born died. That sacrificial lamb was a symbol of Jesus Christ. That blood was a symbol of His Blood. That deliverance from death was a picture of the deliverance that Jesus has given to all believers. The Passover was a witness to the Gospel of Christ, even before Christ came. Just before Jesus fulfilled the death that the Passover predicted, He instituted His new feast. That feast is also a witness. It is a witness to the broken Body and shed Blood of the Saviour. It is a witness to the fact that only in Jesus is there hope of deliverance.

The Blood of Christ shed for us
The saints of Israel were to observe the Passover with regularity, each time explaining and reinforcing the message that deliverance and life could only come through the shed blood of the lamb. It was a major aspect of Jewish life. All Israel knew and understood, that on that dark day in Egypt, a lamb died so that a nation might live. Likewise, the Lord’s Supper should be a constant witness to us that we can have  life through the death and resurrection of God’s eternal Lamb. He died so that we might live. We ought, therefore, to share that message.

Just as the Jews told it over and over again, so should we talk about it, tell others about it, and share it with our children. The Lord’s Supper should be a constant witness to us, and to others, of what we have received in Christ Jesus.

A reminder of Christ’s work in us
The Lord’s Supper also teaches us of the enduring nature of the Christ’s work. Paul wrote: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come” 1 Cor 11:26. Jesus Himself told the disciples that He would not drink the cup with them again until they drank it together in His Kingdom.

The Lord’s Supper speaks to us, each time we observe it, of the eternal work Christ has done. The ordinance also speaks of safety. If you were to ask an Israelite from those ancient days what the Passover meant to him, he might answer “safety.” For ancient Jews, blood on the doorposts meant protection from death. All who were inside the house marked with the blood were safe.

Affirmation of our safety in God
There is also that element of safety in the Lord’s Supper. As we observe the ordinance, as we drink of the cup, we can rejoice in the knowledge that God will not judge us on past sin. He loves us. We are His own. When He sees the Blood of Christ applied to the doorposts of our hearts, there is no judgement. The judgement for sin has already been carried out. When the death angel saw the blood, he knew that the lamb had died. The blood of Christ declares that judgement has already been executed. Herein is safety. Christ has borne our judgement.

There is no reason to fear. We need not be afraid to live, for Christ lives in us and is able to deal with all circumstances that might confront us. There is no need to fear death, for Christ has already died on our behalf. In living we have safety, in dying we have safety.

A seal against sickness
Just like the blood of the lamb on the doorpost of the Jews acted as a seal against death, the Blood of Christ is a seal for us – against sickness, death and satan. It is a ‘no trespassing’ sign – when the devil brings things into our lives, it is because we have allowed him access. But satan is powerless to cross the threshold of any heart sealed by the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s supper reminds us of this truth and is reason for rejoicing at His table.

The Body of Christ broken for us
We have spoken a great deal of the cup and the Blood, but let’s look at the bread, representing Christ’s body broken for us. There was not a single bone broken in Jesus’ body on the Cross, but yet His body was broken by scourging, beating and torture. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed.” Isa 53:5

Jesus’ broken body brings us healing. His Word declares that by His Blood we are forgiven and by His broken body we are healed. When we come to the Lord’s table we should come there expecting healing. Taking communion provides us with a tangible act,  to enforce an intangible truth. (ie: physically as we eat the bread representing Christ’s broken body, we are trusting by faith and receiving in faith, our healing from Him).

The two cups of Calvary
When we view the Lord’s Supper and the events it represents, we are drawn to the fact that in those final hours before Calvary there are not one cup, but two. There is the cup of the Lord and the Lord’s cup. There is the cup that Christ received from His Father, and there is the cup we receive from Christ. There is the cup that He drank on our behalf and there is the cup that we drink at His invitation. They are two, and yet the message of each is wondrously woven into the other. We read of the first cup in John 18:11. The second cup which He gives to us is in 1 Corinthians 11:25-26.

The cup of Christ and Christ’s cup
The first cup (Christ’s cup) was one of betrayal and sorrow. The Lord took that on, that we may drink of the second cup (the cup He gives us) and receive His joy, and unity in His family. The first cup is a picture of His sacrificial death. A cup of death, sickness and sin – that He took on Himself for our sakes. He exchanged this for our cup, a cup of salvation, healing, joy and love. The cup Christ received from the Lord that night was a cup on loneliness and pain. A cup of wrath and anger (the anger of a Holy Lord, the anger of satan and the world who crucified Him).

A reminder of the Lord’s love
There are two cups involved in Holy Communion. Only one is visible to our physical eyes. It is the cup Christ gives us. It is a cup of fellowship and friendship, a cup of peace, healing, joy and life. Yet is was only made possible because Jesus was willing to drink of a cup of bitterness and loneliness, solitude, betrayal, wrath, bruisings, sorrows and death. Holy Communion is so much more than many believe. It is not a Sunday celebration, it is more – it is life!

by Lester Sumrall

“For better or for worse.” Really?

“For better or for worse.” Really?
The last couple of months I’ve been thinking about what it means to stand in front of the church, your husband, your wife & especially God & you utter the words “for better or for worse, till death do us part.” Those words actually sound kind of cool when you say it, Heroic even. Let me tell you these are Heroic words, because now days, you need Heroic mature people to get married, Warriors!!

It is just too easy to get divorced & the world has conformed & made it something which is an everyday occurrence, even acceptable to all. Walking away from this particular fight doesn’t sound Heroic at all, dare I use the word cowardice…..

Let me give you the definition of a Warrior: One who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an active, cause or conflict. Marriage isn’t all happiness, wine and roses. It does take an active energetic effort to get to know each other and grow together. This brings me back to the words “For better or for worse….” I think we all know the “….for better….” side of things, we even have a picture of what it should look like, the movies wanna come & tell you what it looks like. The question is, do you really think about what “…the worse….” means?

Let’s think of an example or two, let’s say you have been happily married for the last couple of months & your spouse is in an accident & that person is paralyzed from the waist down. Will you be able to love and care for that person, for the rest of your life?
What if, you’ve been married for 2 years, the one dream you still have is to have children of your own & you find out your spouse can’t have any children, will your spouse be enough for you?
How about this one? Your spouse cheats on you, will you be able to forgive that person, because maybe, just maybe, you weren’t doing your part in your marriage.

What would your answer to these 3 examples or questions be? Most people would probably answer “No” and that’s because the reasons for them getting married were the wrong reasons.

Can we look at a few wrong reasons for getting married? Yes, come on let’s do so….

It’s just time, because I’m getting old & and we’ve been dating for so long it’s just the next step.
For sex(Lust in other words)
You want children
For the money….

I can go on & on….

Here is the simplest answer, LOVE, love should be your reason for getting married, the only reason. Love can overcome “…. the worse….” part. I challenge you go read the following, 1 Corinthians 13, it is short. Don’t pull up your nose, because it’s from the bible, go read it; I want you to try and comprehend what love is. If you follow Jesus or not go read this. We all need to be loved & also spread the love we do have.
I am all for marriage when it is done for the correct reasons. Marriage is a wonderful gift & like any gift it should be looked after & it will become a huge blessing in your life.

by Lourens de Lange

Did God Create Life on Other Planets?

Did God Create Life on Other Planets?
Many people, Christian or otherwise, struggle with the notion that the earth is the only inhabited planet in this enormous universe.

Those who believe life evolved on the earth usually see it as virtual ‘fact’ that life has evolved on countless other planets. Discovering life on other planets would in turn be seen as confirming their evolutionary belief. But even many Christians think, “God must have created life elsewhere, otherwise this enormous universe would be a waste of space.”

What does the Bible say?
In my experience, this seems to be the major underlying reason why people think that there must be other life ‘out there’. However, our thinking should be based on what God said He did (the Bible), and not what we think He would, should or might have done. Firstly, since God is the One who made the universe, it can scarcely be ‘big’ to Him. Humans struggle with its vastness because our comprehension is limited to the created time/space dimensions within which we exist, and it is mind-bending to try and comprehend anything beyond our dimensional existence. Size is only relative to us as inhabitants of this universe.

The vastness of God’s work
Because the universe is big to us we consider how long it would take us to travel across it, for example. But, time itself began with the creation of the physical universe, so how can we comprehend what eternity is, or might be? What was ‘before’ the universe? Similarly, how do we imagine how ‘big’ God is? We cannot use a tape measure that is made of the very atoms He made to measure Him.

One example of this might be if you were asked to build a small house and you did. Now you are asked to build a large house. In our dimensions, for you to build the larger house it would require more effort and take more time.

Reconciling time and significance
So, is it harder, or does it take longer for God to build a big universe compared to a smaller one (according to our perspective on what constitutes large or small of course)? Of course not, because He isn’t bound by time and space (which He created).  Isaiah 40:28 says; “…the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not grow weak nor weary …”.

We are impressed that God made billions of galaxies with billions of stars in them and suitably so, because that is one of the reasons for making them. But as mentioned, size is not an issue for God. Stars are relatively simple structures as they are just great big balls of gas. It would take more ‘creative input’, in that sense, for Jesus’ miracle of feeding the five thousand than for the creation of countless quasars (there is immense genetic complexity in the structure of even a dead fish).

The Bible and ETs
It is often asked, “Just because the Bible teaches about God creating intelligent life only on Earth, why couldn’t He have done so elsewhere?” After all, Scripture does not discuss everything, e.g. motor cars. However, the Biblical objection to ETs (extraterrestrials) is not merely an argument from silence. Motor cars, for example, are not a salvation issue, but we believe that sentient, intelligent, moral-decision-capable beings is, because it could undermine the authority of Scripture.

In short, understanding the big picture of the Bible/Gospel message allows us to conclude clearly that the reason the Bible doesn’t mention ETs is that there aren’t any.1 Surely, if the earth were to be favoured with a visitation by real ETs from a galaxy far, far away, then one would reasonably expect that the Bible, and God in His sovereignty and foreknowledge, to mention such a momentous occasion, because it would clearly redefine man’s place in the universe.

The Bible indicates that the whole creation groans and travails under the weight of sin (Rom 8:18–22). The effect of the Curse following Adam’s Fall was universal.2 Otherwise what would be the point of God destroying this whole creation to make way for a new Heaven and Earth – (2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1)? Therefore, any ETs living elsewhere would have been (unjustly) affected by the Adamic Curse through no fault of their own – they would not have inherited Adam’s sin nature
When Christ (God) appeared in the flesh, He came to Earth not only to redeem mankind but eventually the whole creation back to Himself (Rom 8:21, Col 1:20). However, Christ’s atoning death at Calvary cannot save these hypothetical ETs, because one needs to be a physical descendant of Adam for Christ to be our “kinsman-redeemer”. Isaiah 59:20. Jesus was called ‘the last Adam’ because there was a real first man, Adam (1 Cor 15:22,45) – not a first Vulcan, Klingon etc. This is so a sinless human substitute takes on the punishment all humans deserve for sin (Isaiah 53:6,10; Matt 20:28; 1 John 2:2, 4:10), with no need to atone for any (non-existent) sin of His own (Heb 7:27)
 Since this would mean that any ETs would be lost for eternity when this present creation is destroyed in a fervent heat (2 Pet 3:10, 12), some have wondered whether Christ’s sacrifice might be repeated elsewhere for other beings. However, Christ died “once for all” (Rom 6:10, 1 Pet 3:18) on the earth. He is not going to be crucified and resurrected again on other planets (Heb 9:26). This is confirmed by the fact that the redeemed (earthly) Church is known as Christ’s Bride (Eph 5:22–33; Rev 19:7–9) in a marriage that will last for eternity.3 Christ is not going to be a polygamist with many other ‘brides’ from other planets
The Bible makes no provision for God to redeem any other species, any more than to redeem fallen angels (Heb 2:16).

Correctly interpreting the Word
One attempt to fit ETs in the Bible is on the basis of a word in Hebrews 11:3: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

The word ‘worlds’ appears in the KJV translation and some others, and some claim that it refers to other inhabitable planets. However, the word is αıών (aiōn), from which we derive the word ‘eons’. Thus modern translations render the word as ‘universe’ (entire space-time continuum) because it describes “everything that exists in time and space, visible and invisible, present and eternal.” Even if it was referring to other planets, it is an unwarranted extrapolation to presume intelligent life on them.

Word technicalities
It should also be remembered that expressions like “the Heavens and earth” Gen 1:1 are a figure of speech known as a merism. This occurs when two opposites or extremes are combined to represent the whole or the sum of its parts. For example, if I said “I painted the whole building from top to bottom,” one would understand this to mean everything in the whole building. Similarly, Biblical Hebrew had has no word for ‘the universe’ and can at best say ‘the all’, so instead it used the merism “the Heavens and the earth”.

It is clear that New Testament passages like the aforementioned Romans 8:18–22 and Hebrews 11:3 are pointing back to the Genesis (“Heavens and earth”) Creation, and thus, everything that God made and when time as we know it began (Jesus’ teaching was causing division among the Jews, because they always believed that salvation from God was for them alone. Jesus was reaffirming that He would be the Saviour of all mankind).

Another is the passage in John 10:16 in which Jesus says, “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.” However, even an ET-believing astronomer at the Vatican (thus a ‘hostile witness’ to the ‘no ETs cause’), a Jesuit priest by the name of Guy Consalmagno, concedes, “In context, these ‘other sheep’ are presumably a reference to the Gentiles, not extraterrestrials.”

A novel approach
A more recent idea to allow for ETs arose out of a perceived need to protect Christianity in the event of a real alien visitation to Earth. Michael S. Heiser is an influential Christian UFOlogist/speaker with a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages. He claims that the arguments put forward earlier might not apply to God-created aliens. Because they are not descendants of Adam they have not inherited his sin nature, and thus, are not morally guilty before God. Just like rabbits on the earth, they do not need salvation.

On the surface this seems a compelling argument; after all, fallen angels are intelligent but are beyond salvation – “For surely it is not angels He helps, but Abraham’s descendants.” Heb 2:16. Angels are immortal and not of our corporeal dimension. Heiser’s ETs in spaceships require a level of intelligence not found in rabbits.

Flawed assumptions…
This acutely highlights the injustice of their suffering the effects of the Curse, including death and ultimately extinction when the Heavens are “rolled up like a scroll.” Rev 6:14. It also seems bizarre to assign no moral responsibility for the actions of highly intelligent beings. Heiser also claims that vastly intelligent ETs would not displace mankind’s position as being made in the image of God because ‘image’ just means humans have been placed as God’s representatives on the earth.
However, the Bible says we are made in God’s image and likeness (Gen 1:26). Man was immediately created a fully intelligent being about 6 000 years ago and was involved in craftsmanship shortly thereafter (Gen 4:22). Since that time, even we have not been able to develop technologies advanced enough to travel to other star systems. If aliens were capable of developing incredible faster-than-light spaceships needed to get here, one would presume they must have been created with vastly superior intellect to ours – which would make them even more in God’s likeness in that sense than we are. Or, their creation is much older than the 6 000 years of the Biblical six-day timeframe; the aliens were created before man and had sufficient time to develop their technologies. However, God created Earth on Day One and later the Heavenly bodies on Day Four.

Influenced from outside the Bible
Although Heiser does not promote theistic evolution, he is sympathetic to a universe billions of years old, as proposed by the progressive creationist Dr Hugh Ross.5 In theory, this could allow the time necessary for any unseen ETs to develop the almost science-fiction-like technologies required to get here. But, this is circular reasoning.
There is a huge problem for the Gospel in these long ages. First, it’s important to understand that modern scientific idea of long ages (i.e. millions and billions of years) derived from the belief that sedimentary rock layers on Earth represent eons of time.6 This in turn derived from the dogmatic assumption that there were no special acts of Creation or a global Flood, so that Earth’s features must be explained by processes seen to be happening now.7 This philosophy of uniformitarianism seems to amply fulfil the Apostle Peter’s prophecy recorded in 2 Peter 3:3–7.

The conflict with the Gospel is that these very same rock layers contain fossils – a record of dead things showing evidence of violence, disease and suffering. Thus, taking a millions-of-years view, even without evolution, places death and suffering long before the Fall of Adam. This undermines the Gospel and the very reasons that Christ came to the earth – such as reversing the effects of the Curse. Romans 5:12 clearly states that sin and death entered into the Creation as a result of Adam’s actions. There was no death before the Fall.

Ranking the created order
Psalm 8:5 says that man was made a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honour. Heiser has said that salvation is based upon ranking, not intelligence. If so, where in the Bible (which omits to mention them) would ETs sit in this pecking order? Would they be higher than man, and lower than angels, for example? If these advanced ETs were capable of visiting the earth, mankind would now be subject to their dominion. (Even if the ETs were friendly, potentially they would be much more powerful due to their intelligence and technology.) This would be in direct contravention to God’s ordained authority structure when He ordered mankind to ‘subdue’ the earth – also known as the dominion mandate (Gen 1:28).

Don’t look to other things for info, look to God
Psalm 19:1 tells us a major reason that the universe is so vast: “The Heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” There are many similar passages in Scripture. They help us understand who God is and how powerful He is. It reminds us that the more we discover about this incredible universe, the more we should be in awe of the One who made it all. In short rather than looking up and wondering what else is out there, we should be considering the One that made it all.

by Gary Bates