Good News Quarterly

Issue 110 – November 2017 – January 2018

Our quarterly newsletter edited by Venessa Crane.
Contributions are welcome.
Click here to email a contribution to Venessa.

 “Tis the season ….. ♪♫”

Term 4 is upon us and Summer is fast approaching, which means … cricket! Oh and Summer holidays, end of year parties, and the silly season. And of course, Christmas too! In fact we have probably been well aware that Christmas is looming as we have witnessed the shop shelves filling up with Christmas decorations and suggested gifts – I think they started not long after Easter!!!

So what are we expecting this Christmas? A time for parties, over indulging on food and drink, expensive presents that will be used once and discarded, family get-togethers (or even sadly, family squabbles)? But is this all that Christmas has come to mean for us? It‘s not hard to become a little cynical about the meaning of Christmas amidst our rampant consumerism and hypocrisy about peace, love and joy.

Or, we could take some time out, stop and reflect for a moment on another meaning for Christmas – the celebration of Jesus’ birth. I never cease to be awed by that event. To think that the Creator of the Universe should humble Himself and become one of us! And to do so not out of some sense of self grandeur, or power trip, or high-and-mighty righteousness; but rather out of love, a desire to meet us at our most deepest need – our need to re-connect with the God of Life, to know forgiveness, reconciliation, to worship the One who is worthy of our worship, surrender and loyalty, who holds our eternal destiny.

The Gospel writers Matthew and Luke tell us about people from all walks of life – rich and poor, noble and peasant, educated and ignorant, from various racial and religious backgrounds – coming to acknowledge Jesus as King at His birth and throughout His life. This is what captivates me at Christmas. Yes, I do enjoy the parties, the holidays, eating & drinking, and hopefully not too many family feuds, but they fade into insignificance compared to the opportunity meet with others to sing Christmas Carols, read the Christmas narratives in the Bible, and say “Thank you God our Father for the gift of Jesus Your Son”.

I hope and pray that this Christmas will be an awe-inspiring time for you.  Please join us for our Christmas services. Merry Christmas, and a happy and safe Summer.

Ian Weeks

News from Bruce Cox & Kathy Cummins

Wycliffe Bible Translators in Cameroon, Africa –please pray for them.

Hi from our home in Ogalawen, Southwest Cameroon! Here are some prayer points. We would love you to uphold us before the Lord:

  1. The Akwaya-Ikol Bible Translation Committee (inter-church committee) (or at least Pastor Napoleon representing them) will visit each one of the eight church denomination leaders soon, build more vision for Bible translation and ask them for suggestions of people in their churches who could serve on the A-I.B.T.C.
  2. People who are suggested will be contacted and willing to serve on the A-I.B.T.C. if it is God’s will for them.
  3. Elections will be able to be held at the A-I.B.T.C’s Annual General Meeting on 30th November and plenty of church denomination leaders will also come. The A-I.B.T.C. have been wanting to hold elections for at least three years, but enough suitable people never turn up to do so!
  4. Oral Bible Storytelling will be presented and discussed at the AGM on 30th November and church leaders catch enthusiasm to select four Christians from each of Ipulo, Iyive and Ugal (Mesaka) languages to be trained as storytellers to serve the church.
  5. God raises up four storytellers from Ipulo, Iyive and Ugal (Mesaka) languages to start to come to Oral Bible Storytelling workshops in Akwaya next year.
  6. The first OBS workshop will be well-planned by the revamped A-I.B.T.C. for the first week of March 2018.
  7. God will help Bruce, Pastor Napoleon and Kathy to do their preparation for the OBS workshop and be there to deliver it well and help the teams craft good Bible stories.
  8. Thank God that “A Guide to Planning the Future of Our Language” training came off on 6-8th November for the Iyive language, after being postponed twice! Six discussion leaders did the training and led discussions about the future of their language in the three parts of their village/language area. They are such a small language, which could well be endangered if they do not keep speaking their language. But it seems they ARE using their language for many things, even though most of them are multilingual in 4-6 languages! Pray for wisdom for us how to move ahead with them and whether to pursue Bible translation with them in the future.
  9. Pray that Bruce would be able to gather the Iceve data he needs to make a good linguistic presentation and write a good paper for a Cameroon Linguistic Symposium to be held in Yaounde in the New Year. Pray this research would help in writing the Iceve language well.
  10. Thank God for the Iceve Transfer Manual (Va, Sayegh Iceve! = Come On, Let’s Read Iceve!), which is now printed and being sold. Pray many Iceve will buy it and learn to read and write their language, in preparation for reading written Scripture in the future.”

Christmas for us is unfortunately not going to be too “interesting” to you…because we will be in Australia! We are having a holiday in Australia for the month of December, celebrating Bruce’s parents’ 60th wedding anniversary and the birth of Kathy’s sister’s second child, as well as Christmas with our families.

We hope to see you at a Belrose service in December and worship with you. We will be catching up with various friends and family while having a break in Australia.

More support is still needed for Pastor Napoleon, our local Akwaya-Tivoid Cluster Mobiliser and Facilitator. He is losing one of his faithful supporters at the end of the year and needs about AUS$50 more a month at the moment for the A-I.B.T.C. to be able to give him the very modest support they decided he should receive for his full-time role in the language work. Please feel free to direct people to his link at:
https://wycliffe.org.au/projects/pastor-napoleon-cluster-language-worker-cameroon/.

Looking forward to seeing you in December,

With love, Bruce & Kathy

Bethlehem

This road is interminable. I have been riding this donkey forever – so it seems.

The heat is suffocating, choking me with dust stirred up by travellers ahead.

I am hot, tired thirsty and dirty, and my babe has but two weeks before it is due.

I am travelling with Joseph my husband to Bethlehem for the census, for he is of the house of David.

We will lodge in an inn ‘til the census is complete then return home to Nazareth.

Approaching Bethlehem Joseph is worried about me, taking in my pale face and
drooping shoulders.

Noting the upcoming inn, I ask him to settle us quickly. He returns a concerned look on his face. “They are full!” he says. “There is no room for us.”

Disappointed, I sit back waiting for the next inn to appear in view. Joseph stops the donkey and again I wait while he enquires of the innkeeper.

Looking more anxious than ever, he returns, saying “They, also, are full!” We move on.

As the next three inns give the same answer, the day takes on a nightmarish quality.

I am despairing as we approach the last of Bethlehem’s inns. Joseph goes in; he takes longer this time. His expression, when he comes out is neither relief nor despair;
he looks slightly hopeful.

“They are full,” he says, “but – the innkeeper is willing to let us use the stable because of your condition.”

I ride into the stable – it reeks, but is better than nothing. Joseph lodges the donkey whilst I lie down on the straw.

“It is over,” I think to myself – “finally I can sleep,” when suddenly I feel a sharp contraction in my stomach… my labour has begun…

Several hazy, pain-filled hours later I hold in my arms a perfect baby boy. Jesus.
If I was tired before, now I am exhausted –but I have my son, and he was worth it.

From  For God So Loved © 1990 Kim Meillon
Luke 2 1-7  [reproduced with permission]

I have recently been reading a book

“Making a More Persuasive Case for Christ – Why Good Arguments Often Fail”.

Moral blindness vies with worldviews for pride of position as the most prevalent reason for the failure of good arguments to persuade (about the truth of the Gospel). Moral blindness goes to the heart of our human rebellion against God.

Christian claims to truth often imply moral obligation. As ordinary human beings, we do not want to be morally obligated, and so we reject ideas that obligate us.  Take for example one strong claim of Jesus. On the night of his arrest, Jesus told his disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6). This statement, startling to many today, rankles nonbelievers for at least two reasons.

First, if it is true, it is not just a truth about Jesus himself, it is a truth about us and our eternal future. It means that in order to have eternal life with God, we must “go through Jesus”. That is, we must pay attention to what he demands of us, whatever that is. When we listen to him, we soon learn that he wants such total submission that we will have to radically re-order our life. We will have to be willing to change how we live now if we are to be with him after we die. The alternative is eternal death – eternal separation from all that makes life worth living.

Second, Jesus’ statement goes against the current idea that everyone has a right to his or her own religion, that people should be able to pick and choose what they believe about God and salvation. The Christian claim here is too exclusive. In modern parlance, we are supposed to be tolerant, and that means we are not to claim that any religious view is false, even if it contradicts our own which we believe to be true. Religious truths are relative to a particular person, society, culture and time.

If we claim that Jesus is the only way to God, we are hurting people’s feelings or perhaps even oppressing the people themselves. We should either abandon our exclusive faith or, opinions to ourselves. Of course, we cannot do this and be followers of our Lord.

It is certainly no wonder that people find Jesus’ words too demanding. Their truth grates against the grain of our selfish nature. We don’t want the truth to be true, so we reject it. Then the truth we have rejected appears false to us, and we may even come to hate it. Many people hate the truth of John 14:6

Richard Benisch.

Devotional Life

Christians express their devotional lives in lots of different ways.  I like to hear about how others relate personally to God on a regular basis since it gives me some new ideas about what I might do.  So I thought it might be helpful if I share one dimension of my own expression of my relationship with God.

Basically I use my ½ A4 ringed diary for daily devotions.

Part of this are five pages separately headed PRAISE, INTERCESSION, CONFESSION, PETITION and THANKSGIVING.

I will outline Thanksgiving as an example of how I use these pages.

THANKSGIVING:

Each of these five pages has a heading “Devotion Schedule” then a subheading, in this case “THANKSGIVING” and then a Goal heading. Here is a copy of the page so that you can see the kind of content that I focus upon.

THANKSGIVING: to be grateful to God for all the blessings now & to come

DATE

SPECIFIC NEED

ONGOING NEED

 

Victory over death

 

Family

 

Jesus

 

Forgiveness of sins

 

Meaning & purpose

 

Joy of the Lord

 

Beauty in creation

 

Prayer

 

Health & protection

 

Friends

 

Holy Spirit

 

The Sabbath/fellowship

 

Employment

 

Fruit of the Spirit

 

Hard times

 

Salvation

 

The example of other Christians

 

Marriage

 

Others’ prayers for me

 

Promises

 

Material possessions

 

Church

 

Parenthood

 

Wisdom of others

 

The Word and gospel message

 

Talents & opportunities

 

Common grace

 

Art & music

 

Those who minister

 

Guidance into good works

 

Things done for others

 

Wanting to be my friend

 

The hope of glory

 

The love of Christ

 

Education

 

Australia

 

Persecution

 

Rest & leisure

 

Answers to prayer

 

Accepting human praise

 

Enjoyable times & humour

 

Opportunities to serve

 

Home

For Thanksgiving my goal is stated as “To be grateful to God for all the blessings of this life and that to come”.  The rest of the page is divided into three columns: Date; New Blessings; “Old” Blessings.

The first two columns are blank and the third column, “Old” Blessings, has a list all the way down the page, one to a line, of ongoing things that I want to be thankful for – such as Jesus, fellowship, common grace, Australia, the hope of Glory, the preciousness of each person, friends, answers to prayer, family, and so on.  From time to time I might change one or more of these when I print up a new page.

Each time I pray I write in the date and then  I write a short phrase in the New Blessing column for something recent for which I am thankful: some examples would be an insight from Scripture, the loving rebuke of a friend, a beautiful sunset, a challenging sermon, a holiday and so on.  I then reflect prayerfully and thankfully on this new blessing and then on the “old” blessing on the same line for that day.

By the time I have completed the page I have a wonderful idea about how much God has been blessing me over time in new ways.  The “Old” Blessings list helps me not to forget what I could otherwise take for granted such as the spectacular beauty, the marvellous freedom, the unique culture, the democratic heritage and boundless opportunities that we have been given in Australia, for example.  The “New” Blessings assists me to recognise all the recent ways in which God has been being gracious and bountiful to me.

Bob Pryor

Preaching Plan

Click here to see the current preaching plan.

 

 

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