Photo : Hannes Britz
The Namib Desert during the "rainy season"

Saturday, March 21, 2015

NAMIBIA IS 25 YEARS OLD TODAY !

Today ,  the Republic of Namibia  is 25 years old! We have  much to be thankful for 

Having been born in this country and having  begun my pastoral ministry in Windhoek   at the beginning of 1990,  three  months before  Namibia was constituted as an independent Republic,   I have been privileged to see  25 years  of progress and peace in Namibia.  

We thank God for political  stability. We thank God for  25 years in which  the people of Namibia  have  been able to  participate  in the privileges of citizenship, a privilege which was formerly  denied  them  under South African rule.  

We pray  that as our 3rd president, Dr Hage Geingob is sworn in today ,  we may  continue to experience peace  and stability, such as we have  known.  

Our prayer also  is that the Namibian  church may   take her calling to be the church of the Lord Jesus Christ seriously  in the days ahead , and that she would  fulfill her pastoral  and  prophetic role in Namibia.  A  country  can only be stable if  her citizens learn  to  live under authority . The primary authority  we refer to is  the  God who has made the heavens and the earth (Acts 4:24). God   has instituted the authority of the governing authorities( Romans 13:1-7) . He  has ordained that civil society  ought to  live humbly under  the rule of  God, who  gives us  the kind of leaders  we ask for.  God fearing, moral , responsible leaders  are a blessing  from God , for they do much under God to  prevent   all sorts of evils  that would undermine the moral fibre of our society.

So  then, far from resting on our laurels  let us learn to  encourage our leaders  in  the future  by regularly praying for them, and  by regularly reminding them that there is a God in heaven  to whom all earthly authority  must  one day give an account (Philippians 2:9,19) . Let  our churches  help our  political leaders by  raising up  God fearing  people and citizens  by  the  faithful preaching of the  Word of God.

People that fear God  will be   positive, constructive  citizens   which will make  a land governable  and  biblically  prosperous.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

HOW CAN WE DISCERN A FALSE PROPHET ?

 

A number of years ago Namibian Christians learned with shock that a false prophet had been in their midst! A so- called Dr. Moishe Cohen claimed to be a Jewish Christian and in so doing gained access to a gullible church and pulpit in our city. When he was eventually exposed it was shown that he was who is not of Jewish descent at all. In fact he was a South African confidence trickster ! As a result he had robbed the church of a lot of money but worse still, he had mocked God Almighty by claiming to be sent from God, when he never had been sent by God! He had led people astray in the most imaginably wicked way. 

This raises a big question concerning the discernment of many of our pastors and our Christian churches. Namibia has become “fruitful soil” for such evil impostors. This can mean only one thing: We are not discerning! We do not know our Bibles! We do not have the mind of Christ! We are gullible and easy prey for Satan’s agents. 

The book of Jude in the Bible is written as a tract to warn against spiritual deception. Listen to what it says :[1]

“But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.’ These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.’

WHEN  ARE WE MOST LIKELY TO BE DECEIVED ? 

We are most vulnerable when we    listen unconditionally  and uncritically  to those that claim to be Bible teachers.  I myself am a Bible teacher, but I do not expect my congregation to  swallow unconditionally all that I say. Obviously I try not to deceive our people or to misrepresent the truth, but in the end  it is every  Christian's duty to  examine the Scriptures for themselves. The example of the Berean Christians in Acts 17:11  serves us well in this regard . 


But it is not enough to be   a critical listener. We must  give attention to the cultivation of our hearts. Once again, the book of Jude offers the following counsel [2]:

“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”

I notice with increasing alarm, that professing Christians do not build themselves up in their most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit ... keeping themselves in the love of God. Many people in our country do not  read  the Bible which feeds  them  with sound doctrine. Many people in our country are eager to listen to someone who claims to have ‘a new word from the Lord’, but they hardly know or understand what is written in the Bible. Understand this : We cannot judge false prophets without the knowledge of the Word of God!

So we find what is written  in  2 Timothy  4:3-4  :

“Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears from the truth and turn aside to myths! "
This text makes an important observation. It is not only false prophets that we have to watch out for. We also have to consider our own itching ears,   which are fuelled by our deceitful hearts! (Jer 17:9)  Perhaps it is time for Namibian Christians to examine their own  hearts, asking themselves what it is that they are really seeking after ! 

Spiritual discernment is  gained as we    get to know our Bibles, and by  cultivating  our understanding of  the Bible  through being  watchful and prayerful. It is a matter of  learning to think God’s thoughts after Him! 

We are most vulnerable when we are out of touch with the Word of God and the God of the Word .

One gets the feeling that many Namibian Christians love  their “spiritual guru’s”. We love to be spoon- fed. We do not like to  engage in the hard work of  getting to know God and His Word .  Therefore we are   impressed with human personalities, and tend to follow them without asking questions. That is why we are so easily deceived. The Bible calls that idolatry! 
We may not follow men ! We are called to follow God and His word alone. 
It is right to love our Bible teachers and our Pastors, and to esteem them for the work that they do, but they are not God , and their words must be tested against the standard of God's Word at all times. We must love and fear God more than men!

How can we discern a false Prophet?

1. The most important part of our spiritual discernment is that we must be in touch with God Himself. God in His Word promises to give discernment to those who humbly walk with Him.[5] It is important in this regard, that our words and our deeds should match.[6]


2. We need to be aware of what Scripture teaches concerning the marks of a false prophet. 




Here are a number of indicators or marks of a false prophet, from the book of Jeremiah - a true prophet of God :

· They draw their inspiration from pagan sources e.g. Baal worship (2:8)

· They enjoy a great deal of influence and popularity (5:31)

· They are greedy for material gain (6:13)

· They offer misleading assurances of peace (6:14)

· They lack any sense of shame (6:15)

· They deal falsely with people (8:10)

· They end up being punished by God (8:12)

· They prophesy from their own imaginations (14:14)

· They were not sent by God (14:15)

· They were shown wrong by subsequent events (14:16)

· They drove Jeremiah (the true prophet) to tears (14:17)

· They were allied to a corrupt religious leadership (14:18)

· They were a result of widespread spiritual adultery (23:10)

· They were basically ungodly people (23:11)

· They were slippery and manipulative (23:12)

· They were a long-standing problem to true prophets (23:13)

· They told lies which hardened people against repentance (23:14)

· They encouraged widespread ungodliness (23:15)

· They encouraged a casual attitude towards God’s Word (23:17)

· They never had a real calling (23:21)

· They failed to proclaim repentance (23:22)

· They set great store on dreams (23:25)

· They had nothing in common with true prophets (23:28)

· They perverted the word of the living God (23:36)

· They often left a bad reputation behind them (23:40)

· Their behaviour often caused public controversy (26:7)

· They persecuted true prophets (26:8)

· They were closely associated with occultic sorcerers (27:9)

· They told lies which led to disastrous consequences (27:10)

· They told people what they wanted to hear (27:16)

· They brought desolation (27:17)

· They lacked a deep prayer life (27:18)

· They counterfeited the work of the true prophets (28:1)

· They used God’s Name to mislead others (28:2)


A PLEA TO RETURN TO GOD!


This message goes out with love and concern for all those who have been hurt by false prophets. You are probably depressed and ashamed that you have been deceived. You may wonder whether God still cares for you. There is hope for you!

What can you do?

· Repent from your sin of following man rather than God!

· Accept the forgiveness that God gives you in Christ! [8]

· Live a life of humility and dependence upon God. Stop seeking signs and words from men![9] Seek the Lord Jesus!

· Read your Bible. Get to grips with it! Do what it says!· Attend a Bible believing and a Bible preaching church.

· Pray for discernment! Always look to Jesus alone ![10]




[1]  Jude 17,18
[2]  Jude 20,21
[3] 2 Timothy 4:3 - 4
[4]  Jeremiah 17:9
[5]  Psalm 25:9
[6] 1 Timothy 4:16
[8] 1 John 1:9
[9] Matthew 12:39 ; 16:4
[10] Hebrews 12:2

Friday, February 13, 2015

WHY I MUST PREACH ON SUNDAY ...and everyday !

I am sitting in my study preparing  for Sunday morning.  

We are currently  preaching through  Paul’s first letter  to the Thessalonian church. Our current morning sermon series  is  called  "Portrait of a God-centered  church".  

As  this  wonderful pastoral  letter moves  my soul, I am moved  to  think about the  state  of the church in the world. 

I am forced to  rethink and to  rehearse  and to consider  how we  may  rebuild our broken churches  upon  this  Thessalonian model,   in our own day when the church at large is anything but God centered.  

If anything,  the modern  church  has a tendency to be self -centered and man  centered. The Bible  and the  internet and  the  newspapers and my own experience  tells me so ! 

This problem is, of course  not unique to our own age,  for this has been the constant struggle  of the church ever since she was born  on the day of Pentecost. 

And I remember  that  the effects of sin  upon our world  have had a heavy toll upon us all.  The pull is ever  downward,  as indicated by  the law of gravitation. G = 9.8m/s. 

Things fall down, not up!  

The tendency is always towards decay, towards  disorder – towards a state of entropy   – as illustrated by the second law of thermodynamics [1].  

So too  it is with the church. 

One of my favorite poets is  T.S. Elliot[2]. He   has expressed  himself  in powerful poetry on the subject:

Of all that was done in the past, you eat the fruit, either rotten or ripe.
And the Church must be forever building 
And always decaying - and always being restored.

For every ill deed in the past we suffer the consequence: For sloth, for avarice, gluttony, neglect of the Word of God.
For pride, for lechery, treachery, for every act of sin.
And of all that was done that was good, you have the inheritance.
For good and ill deeds belong to a man alone, when he stands alone on the other side of death,
But here upon earth you have the reward of the good and ill that  was done by those who have gone before you.
And all that is ill you may repair if you walk together in humble repentance, expiating the sins of your fathers;  And all that was good you must fight to keep with hearts as devoted as those of your fathers who fought to gain it.

The Church must be forever building, for it is forever decaying within and attacked from without;

For this is the law of life; and you must remember that while there is time of prosperity
The people will neglect the Temple, and in time of adversity they will decry it.

T.S. Elliot  recognizes that the church is in need of constant reformation, for she is constantly subjected   to  sin and decay. 

Every generation must understand  this, and every generation of believers  must  rebuild her walls  which  are constantly being  assailed. 

We cannot  live on borrowed capital

A house lived in for along time must be renovated. 

We  cannot   presume that our fathers yesterday have done a good work. 

We  must work  today and  labour today   to maintain the faith  as it  was once   delivered  to us  by our Lord Jesus.

And that is why I must preach on Sunday, praying that the Word, the gospel will come  in power  and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction! (1 Thessalonians 1:5) 





[1] The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth, by Henry Morris: (p. 14) All processes manifest a tendency toward decay and disintegration, with a net increase in what is called the entropy, or state of randomness or disorder, of the system. This is called the Second Law of Thermodynamics.Scientific Creationism, edited by Henry Morris:  (p.25) The Second Law (Law of Energy Decay) states that every system left to its own devices always tends to move from order to disorder, its energy tending to be transformed into lower levels of availability, finally reaching the state of complete randomness and unavailability for further work.

[2] T.S. Elliot : Chorus from the Rock 

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Danger of Free Speech without the Counsel of Biblical Wisdom

In  recent weeks the French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo”  was attacked  by   Islamists.  The killing was   cruel, and it has been justly condemned, and we suppose the perpetrators have received their just  punishment. However,  there can be no doubt that this  magazine   is highly provocative, making its living by often  mocking religious institutions.  

Clearly, many people  feel  provoked, and even the latest  issue following the killing has  provoked  Muslims in Niger (a former French colony)  to burn down churches.
Many people in the Western world  have  seen this  brutal killing  spree as an attack on free speech, but  very  few  people  have spoken  about   the responsibility  that  ought  to  be  associated  with free speech.

Is unrestrained speech  a good thing?   
The book of Proverbs thinks not.  It  reminds us  that words have incredible power. They go deep.  Proverbs 18:4  says  “ the words of a man’s mouth are deep waters”. Proverbs  12:18 says  that  “rash words are like sword  thrusts”

The book of Proverbs advises  us   to  restrain  our words.  Proverbs 17:27,28 says  that “whoever  restrains his words has knowledge… even a fool  who keeps silent is considered wise…”. Proverbs  29:20 says: “Do you see  a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope  for a fool than for him.”   
In his letter to the Ephesians  the apostle Paul gives us  a  very  important  principle  with respect to our use of words.  He says: “Speak the truth in love“.   It has been well said  that  “love without  truth  is hypocrisy , and “truth without love is brutality”. The biblical  and balanced  ways is always,  “speaking the truth in love”. (Eph. 4:15) 






Thursday, October 23, 2014

Praying for Namibia as we Prepare for National Elections on the 28th November 2014



“Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command.”  ( 1 Chronicles 12:32)

Every age has its unique challenges, and  the challenge is basically  always the same— to  understand the times  and to know  what to do in such times .  Those who understand the times  within the framework of    biblical wisdom,   will be  our wisest  leaders.  Namibia  is  standing on the threshold of  a new era  and of  another   election  in which a  new president and  a  new national assembly  are elected. 

In  1 Chronicles 12:32   we find   this  interesting verse.  Soon after  Saul’s death the  nation of Israel  was in turmoil.   A change in leadership  always  has the potential to disturb the peace of  a nation. Saul’s  tribe, the Benjamites,  had their own  ideas about who was to be the successor  to the throne in Israel.  The majority of  Israel  however were not of the same mind, and so  they  aligned themselves  with a rising star in their midst,  whom God actually had chosen prior to this-  David, the son of Jesse  of the tribe of Judah (1 Samuel 16). They  were  now  assembling in  Hebron to  make  David  their  new king.   

Now,  at that point in Israel’s history,  there were  two hundred leaders of the tribe of Issachar  of whom we are told that they  were  “men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.”
Two hundred  wise  men – what a  dream  - what a bonus!  Blessed is that nation that has such men.   It shall be well with that nation, and so it proved to be under the leadership of David.

The outgoing president  : Mr H. Pohamba
The ability to correctly analyze contemporary situations and to know what to do  is what good  leadership is all about. Every generation needs such  leaders who can understand the times and  who  know what to do in the light of  such times.

The God who has created this world and all there is in it (Psalm 24:1) has given us  a Word about  wise governance as well as many warnings  concerning abuse. Now,  Namibia is not a Theocracy  like Israel, and Namibia may  well consider itself to be a secular state but this fact does not  impress God.  God remains the rightful owner of this earth, and He will hold the nations of the world, including  Namibia,   accountable. (Psalm 2)


It is  right therefore that  we should seek the LORD  in seasons  of prayers  in these days. We  must  pray  for  future leaders  to be endowed with   an understanding  of, and a commitment  to  biblical  wisdom as applied  to the issues of our day.  Wise men need to know that “true truth”  needs to be fought for in every new generation.  The current war  against   a distinctly biblical world view  needs to be  discerned.  Evil is never distant.   We need  people  of the statue of the  sons of Issachar , “men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do .”


Monday, September 15, 2014

THE MAKING OF AN ELDER AT EASTSIDE BAPTIST CHURCH

Please Note  :  This  Ordination Service took place on  Sunday, the 14th  September . The sermon  of this occasion is found  on the Sermon blog  which you can access from this page 

Frans Brits (l) and Joachim Rieck 
Everyone knows that church elders are not thickly sown!  The making of a pastor -elder  is not  an instant achievement. It can be a long journey!
It  all begins  with a calling. It is further evidenced by a desire on behalf of the elder candidate (1 Tim  3:1)  to serve as an elder, and furthermore it ought to be recognized by the church, whose shepherd  he is to become.

When a man  desires to become an elder at Eastside Baptist Church, the  current  eldership   examines  him with regard to his  basic suitability. If the  elders  are satisfied  that   there is a genuine desire and suitability,  the church is asked   to endorse  him  as a ‘trainee elder’. 

Pieter Slabber, Frans Brits , Joachim Rieck
Then he  enters upon a two year internship, whereby he  attends  elders meetings,participates in church leadership meetings, leads in worship services,  is exposed to  eldership training, learns to preach, attends doctrinal classes, does  visitation   and engages in various other disciplines.

The Brits  family is prayed for 
Frans Brits  and his family came to us a number of years ago. He  had been trained  in a Dutch Reformed Seminary in South Africa and  during his  internship years  at a  church  in South Africa , he  decided to give up on the  work of the ministry. He had  felt ill equipped for this task  at that time.

Times of  terrible confusion and despair ensued. Eventually   he  re-trained as an audiological technician, working in a team  with his wife, Janet who is  by all accounts  an accomplished audiologist . 
When  their company sent  them to Swakopmund in Namibia  to work  at  their branch,  Frans  met with Pastor Francois Koch  of the Swakopmund Baptist Church. Pastor Koch  helped   Frans Brits    significantly through wise pastoral counsel , and the Lord  restored  him  wonderfully at that time.   
Frans and Janet  were   then posted to Windhoek  by their  company,  and  here  they  joined  in the  membership  of  the Eastside Baptist Church.

It  soon  became  apparent  to the elders at Eastside  that  the Lord had  a greater  work for  Frans  in the congregation. It seemed therefore good to the congregation  and to  the elders  to encourage him to prepare for eldership.
  
Frans Brits gives his testimony 
He has  done well, and  he has  won the hearts and the confidence of  the congregation, so that  the church  under the leadership of her elders  was able to ordain  him  on  the 14th of September 2014, after a two year internship.  


To God be the Glory !

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Myth that Religion is the # 1 Cause of War

How many times have you heard this argument : " Religion is the # 1 cause of war ?" I have heard this many times. But it is a case of classic misinformation and of historical amnesia. These are the kind of  things that an ignorant public laps up , and so it perpetuates the myth. This article written by Robin Schumacher (edited by Matt Slick) makes an important point : 
Atheists and secular humanists consistently make the claim that religion is the #1 cause of violence and war throughout the history of mankind. One of hatetheism's key cheerleaders, Sam Harris, says in his book The End of Faith that faith and religion are “the most prolific source of violence in our history.”1
While there’s no denying that campaigns such as the Crusades and the Thirty Years’ War foundationally rested on religious ideology, it is simply incorrect to assert that religion has been the primary cause of war. Moreover, although there’s also no disagreement that radical Islam was the spirit behind 9/11, it is a fallacy to say that all faiths contribute equally where religiously-motivated violence and warfare are concerned.
An interesting source of truth on the matter is Philip and Axelrod’s three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars, which chronicles some 1,763 wars that have been waged over the course of human history. Of those wars, the authors categorize 123 as being religious in nature,2 which is an astonishingly low 6.98% of all wars. However, when one subtracts out those waged in the name of Islam (66), the percentage is cut by more than half to 3.23%.


That means that all faiths combined – minus Islam – have caused less than 4% of all of humanity’s wars and violent conflicts. Further, they played no motivating role in the major wars that have resulted in the most loss of life.  
Kind of puts a serious dent into Harris’ argument, doesn’t it?
The truth is, non-religious motivations and naturalistic philosophies bear the blame for nearly all of humankind’s wars. Lives lost during religious conflict pales in comparison to those experienced during the regimes who wanted nothing to do with the idea of God – something showcased in R. J. Rummel’s work Lethal Politics and Death by Government:
Non-Religious Dictator Lives Lost
·        Joseph Stalin - 42,672,000
·        Mao Zedong - 37,828,000
·        Adolf Hitler - 20,946,000
·        Chiang Kai-shek - 10,214,000
·        Vladimir Lenin - 4,017,000
·        Hideki Tojo - 3,990,000
·        Pol Pot - 2,397,0003
Rummel says: “Almost 170 million men, women and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed or worked to death; buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed or killed in any other of a myriad of ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed, helpless citizens and foreigners. The dead could conceivably be nearly 360 million people. It is though our species has been devastated by a modern Black Plague. And indeed it has, but a plague of Power, not germs.”4
The historical evidence is quite clear: Religion is not the #1 cause of war.
If religion can’t be blamed for most wars and violence, then what is the primary cause? The same thing that triggers all crime, cruelty, loss of life, and other such things. Jesus provides the answer very clearly: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man,” (Mark 7:21–23).
James (naturally) agrees with Christ when he says: “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel,” (James 4:1–2).
In the end, the evidence shows that the atheists are quite wrong about the wars they claim to so desperately despise. Sin is the #1 cause of war and violence, not religion, and certainly not Christianity.

·        1.http://books.google.com/books?id=XP_86itwp2IC&pg=PA27&lpg=PA27&dq=sam+harris+%22the+most+prolific+source+of+violence+in+our+history%22&source=bl&ots=sdpOO04g1D&sig=asL3JyvcaRp9zWRI9a4oVyoPU2E&hl=en&sa=X&ei=d9CKT92fGYqogweQgsXfCQ&ved=0CFgQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q&f=false
·        2.http://books.google.com/books?id=sF8wv_Y54j8C&pg=PA104&lpg=PA104&dq=encyclopedia+of+wars+%22Almohad+conquest+of+Muslim+Spain%22&source=bl&ots=VBRkLHXHj3&sig=XLT88ICr2Lu98L1_eldxRwMPgIY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=SdKKT4jLHIr1gAf8vNjiCQ&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=encyclopedia%20of%20wars%20%22Almohad%20conquest%20of%20Muslim%20Spain%22&f=false
·        3.http://books.google.com/books?id=sK5CJFpb2DAC&pg=PA23&lpg=PA23&dq=stalin+42,672,000&source=bl&ots=Tw7FJG9OnR&sig=aSUiodXqC4euU2UTyVNlnFkwyRE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=fc2KT7rnNcipgwe9tL3mCQ&ved=0CFMQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=stalin%2042%2C672%2C000&f=false and http://books.google.com/books?id=mbnLn6A3q-4C&pg=PA178&lpg=PA178&dq=Zedong+37,828,000&source=bl&ots=-VlfCns1xy&sig=2TrcOYMxZTjr653ULLdNkIkltwU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=2c6KT-G7BYGXgwf63-3kCQ&ved=0CEsQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=Zedong%2037%2C828%2C000&f=false
·        4.http://books.google.com/books?id=N1j1QdPMockC&printsec=frontcover&dq=death+by+government&hl=en&sa=X&ei=WcyKT5TBDITiggfdpO28BQ&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Almost%20170%20million%20men&f=false