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BREAKING NEWS


T H E   [G O S P E L]  is GOOD NEWS

What is it, at its core? How is the gospel current, how is it [breaking] into people’s lives today? The following is an incomplete summary of The Gospel from mainly scripture…

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GOD MADE MAN in His image.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:26-28

OUR SIN SEPARATED US from the glory of a holy God.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Romans 3:21-25

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:12


SON SENT TO SAVE US from our Sin by His grace and mercy.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17


PAID OUR PENALTY as a propitiatory sacrifice on the Cross.

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10


EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES IN JESUS CHRIST is forgiven and restored to right relationship with the Father.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:18

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8


LIFE ABUNDANT AND ETERNAL promised under His Lordship and sealed by the Holy Spirit. All authority, power and dominion in heaven and on earth belongs to Jesus. The Father has sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to live the life and fulfill the mission Christ has called us to. His Kingdom has no end.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16

For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:10-11

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:16-20

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14

“The Gospel is the news that Jesus Christ the righteous one died for our sins, rose again eternally triumphant over all His enemies, so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe but only everlasting joy”. John Piper

“We are strengthened by God, through the Gospel, everyday ’til the day we drop. You never outgrow the need to preach to yourself; the Gospel.” John Piper

 

The Gospel is still breaking into peoples lives. It sets us free from sin, draws us to the Father and empowers us to live the abundant life He calls us to live.

A PASSION FOR OUR NATION!

 
To have 40 000 gathered at Loftus and 30,000 at Cape Town Stadium in one weekend for a Music Tour is a big deal. The Passion SA Tour was sold out this past weekend at both venues. As the masses filtered into the stadiums early there was an exciting buzz of expectation as people readied themselves to worship Jesus alongside churches from all over our nation. 

I flew in from PE on Saturday morning to join the Cape Town crowd, with many others driving or flying in from the Friendly City. Enroute to the stadium, a local Cape Townian, who has attended many music events in the city, expressed concerns that typically the concerts she had been to in the stadium didn’t sound great. Later that night, she turned to me and said, “Oh wow, it really sounds good”. She would also go on to say she had never been to a concert there that was so packed out.
  
BIG OPENER, BIG PRODUCTION 


The event started late, several minutes after 7pm, but the crowds warmed themselves up with a few Mexican waves. Eventually the worship experience launched off with a big creative video showing a montage of clips including local footage, with excellent light design, at least 6 cameras, stage haze and these words onscreen; “… Welcome to Passion 2016… We are the Jesus generation united for His fame. His name and His renown are the desires of our hearts… We are One Body … JESUS”. The Passion Band entered the stage as these words came up and the crowd erupted with cheers and applause, but they went mad at that last word spelt out onscreen J.E.S.U.S. The opening video and that name, Jesus, climaxing with Kristian Stanfill leading us in the first song; ‘The Lord our God is ever faithful’. Kristian interjected; “It’s a beautiful night, in a beautiful city, with beautiful people. 30 000 voices”, followed by the title song from the new 2016 Passion album Salvation’s Tide is Rising.
  
HELLO CAPE TOWN!


Chris Tomlin was up next; “Hello, Cape Town. What a beautiful night, this is incredible. Such a privilege to stand and sing these songs with you tonight. Thank you so much, you have no idea. This night is going to be one to remember… So I’ve been excited about singing this [next] song in Cape Town, because I don’t know if it’s made it over here yet!? It’s a song we’ve been singing around the States and at Passion this year called Good, Good Father“. The crowds went wild. “I mean, that’s what I love about you guys, you’re just so far ahead of the game…” He went on to invite those who had not yet heard the song to receive the love of the Father that night.    

LOCAL PARTNERS 


The heart of Passion is clearly to partner with local pastors, Louie Giglio having met with many of them long before the tour, as well as giving them VIP seating, and inviting them to stand with him on stage to pray. I made the following comment on Shelley Giglio’s departure Instagram post, “Gone so soon?! Thanks for inspiring and stirring our country. I visited 3 churches on Sunday post Passion CT and every pastor spoke about the impact Saturday night had on them. #Envisioned #Impassioned #Passion16 #PassionSATour”. Yes, I use hashtags. Among those pastors were Louis du Piesanie of Oakhill, Andrew Selley of JoshGen and Phil Dooley of Hillsong Cape Town, who was called out of the pastoral group, by Louie, to pray. Shelley replied to my comment, “@garethdavidhogg love this so much. We pray the Church is strengthened and encouraged. We love that we can build together.” That is seen by their investment into local volunteers, local church pastors and local musicians. The gatherings were served by countless local ‘Door Holders’, which is Passion’s strategic term for volunteers. Each one got given their own Passion Door Holder T-shirt and had the privilege of serving at the event in various capacities.

  
INVESTING IN LOCAL SOUND

If you mention Passion, Jeff Sandrom is not the first person you typically think of. He’s the man who shapes the sound coming from the stage. Harvest Church in PE, was one of many who took the opportunity to invest in our local sound. Warren Hoole, Harvest’s sound engineer, comments; “I was blessed enough to spend time in JHB and listen to him lecture on building blocks for shaping the sound needed from each instrument and vocalist. However, the lecture wasn’t only about sound engineering, most of the morning covered serving those around you. He spoke of Exodus 28:11-12 where Aaron had to wear the names of the sons of Israel on his shoulders in remembrance of those who he served. In the same way we are to carry the worship team on our shoulder as we serve them. Jeff has had many years of perfecting his mixes. It’s not how expensive or over the top your equipment is but what you do with the tools God has put before you. Keep it simple and focus on clarity and your mix will be shaped in a way that is good and pleasing to our Father”. This is the heart of Passion to partner and invest in the local church.
  
Before Louie came up to pray, 200 local singers joined the band, as a choir on stage, to sing How Great Is Our God. The stage had non stop energy from the band and it carried throughout the stadium. The song list included Hillsong United’s Oceans and a stand out song from the new Passion album is Remember by Brett Younker and Melody Malone. Then Louie came up bantering and rowelling the crowd with rumors that Cape Town was the laid back crowd in comparison to Pretoria — that got them even more fired up. Louie went on; “…it’s a special time to be alive, challenging times for sure… But what a beautiful sight to look around tonight to see the church of Jesus is doing okay.” He went on to speak about hearing about the State of the Nation, declaring that it’s better to focus on the state of the Kingdom and that if the church would hold on to Jesus that we would always hold on to hope for our nation. He then honored the pastoral partners, standing on stage with him, as friends, saying that; “…we wanted to come and stand shoulder to shoulder with the men and women who lead the church every single day in this city…”. Phil Dooley then prayed a powerful prayer over our nation and the city, for the Church and for this generation. 

  
As Louie led the time of prayer to a close He centered our focus firmly on Jesus, and after his Amen a creative video was cued showing history in reverse, featuring many scenes from our nation’s history, Mandela included. It tracked all the way back to creation and clips that brought to recollection Louie’s Indescribable teaching on the awe of the universe God has created. It then fast forwarded through some stories of scripture, concluding on the cross, and leading us back into worship with Kari Jobe’s Forever, which focuses on the death and resurrection of Christ, setting the platform for Louie’s closing message. But, before Louie would share again, the tone of the night would change dramatically as Hip Hop artist Tedashii busted into the middle of Forever. The atmosphere definitely changed as the Passion Band exited the stage and Tedashii and his crew took over. While this wasn’t everybody’s highlight, I know for many of the students, young adults, and some unchurched in attendance this just made their night. Tedashii had the crowd jumping and calling out back to him. Spiritually the tone changed, but for Tedashii this is worship, and for us it sure was a lot of fun.

  
 

IT IS FINISHED


Louie would come in at the back end of the hip hop item to deliver a message in typical Louie Giglio, Passion fashion. Louie connected his message to the people, by saying typically people’s lives are defined by a single word; divorce, cancer, studies and so on… But Jesus has the final word over our lives. On the cross He said “It Is Finished”. In the Greek and Hebrew there is a single word for our three English words ‘It Is Finished”. He declared that sin is finished, that the religious system, which God had set in place is finished, because Jesus was the once off final sacrifice that fulfilled the requirements of that religious system, and then finally that shame was finished over our lives. The night concluded with a call to respond; some to salvation, some to freedom from religion and shame, but all to kneel — 30, 000 people kneeling before Jesus in Cape Town stadium. 

  
We wouldn’t stay kneeling — we would stand to dance on God’s Great Dance Floor. But more importantly, we would stand to leave, to leave envisioned and stirred with passion for our nation — to see Jesus’ name, His renown made famous in our country.
  

PASSION SA TOUR 16

 
THIS WEEKEND, for their third South African tour, LOUIE GIGLIO AND THE PASSION BAND will be hitting Pretoria and Cape Town. Besides bringing to our country a contagious passion for music, students, worship and for Christ, they are also bringing with them some big names including Chris Tomlin, Kristian Stanfill and Christian hip hop artist Tedashii.

For those that don’t know him, Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church, in Atlanta, Georgia is a world renown public speaker, author, and the founder of the Passion Movement (268 Generation).

As renown as Louie may be, from the early days of the Passion Movement, God connected his story to the confession found in Isaiah 26:8, “For your name and renown are the desire of our souls.”

The heart of Passion is God’s glory, and they believe that ‘God is most glorified in us when we live lives that are fully satisfied in Him – when our lives become a worship to Him.’

Passion has stirred the hearts of 1000s of people, young and old, through their ministry of music, worship, and preaching God’s word at Passion Conferences since 1997.

The 2016 Passion Conference that took place on 2-4 January in Georgia and Texas attracted over 40,000 young adults from 1,500 universities and 47 countries. In South Africa this year, tickets for Friday night at Loftus in Pretoria are sold out and Cape Town has a record ticket sale of an estimated 30% increase from the last tour.

“These are going to be spectacular historic nights for the nation of South Africa…” said Giglio in a recent post. From a production perspective local musician and Passion Production and Ministry Assistant, Jason Zeeman, involved in the Loftus setup said “… I wish I could show you what’s going up in this stadium for Friday night.” “The evening opener is going to be very special. Brace yourself and steady your heart. Here we go…” Without a doubt, while the focus of these nights are directed towards Jesus, Passion brings with it an experience in production excellence of note.

Despite mixed feelings from ticket holders about Grammy Award winning Israel Houghton having to pull out of the tour for personal reasons, Chris Tomlin alone would be worth the low price of admission, with nearly 30 million records sold and multiple awards including a Grammy for best Contemporary Christian Music Album in 2012, Tomlin is a major draw card.

Replacing Houghton is Christian hip hop artist Tedashii from Reach Records. Zeeman comments, “I know that Israel would have been here if he could have. Tedashii is going to wow and gain many South African fans. We’re going to miss Israel and wish him all the best, but ultimately know that Gods got this. He knows exactly what’s going on”. Tedashii has collaborated with a number of well known artists including Lecrae and Crowder to name but two, and is sure to add a dynamic and exciting flavor to the tour.

Despite the band, the renowned speaker, award winning musicians, and top class production – let us be expectant for a weekend of renewed passion for His name and for His glory.

HEART HEAD HAND

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From the heart, to the head to the hand. That’s how we grow. We are inspired by beauty, creativity, music, art, crisis or cause and it stirs us to think about life, meaning, purpose and how we see the world. Our minds are renewed our perspectives altered through knowledge, understanding, insight, revelation, discovery. How we think and see the world determines how we live, act, behave, work, give, respond, react, craft and create. Our hands are put to action by how we think and feel.

HEART

Our heart is seen when our character and emotions are exposed by our words, body language, actions.

HEAD

Our head is seen when we speak our minds, known thereby to be either wise or fool. When we improvise, initiate and implement we show insight, intellect and experience.

HAND

Our hand is seen when we show our cards, when we put to work our convictions, our motives, intent, impulse. We show who we truly are through gestures, we project our heart and head in micro expressions, shrugs, flinches and glances. We tell as we do. Our actions speak. Our words say more than they mean. Our action is an expression of our faith, love, peace, grace and truth; everything! Actions trump everything, but cause pain and chaos if our hearts and heads are not pure and wise.

ACT. LEARN. CORRECT. GROW.

DISCUSS

  1. What are some things that have recently stirred your heart with a strong conviction to act?
  2. Have you ever had a radical revelation that changed the way you feel about your life and therefore changed a behavior or practice at home or work?
  3. What actions do you need to take to grow in character and wisdom?

PRAY

Lord Jesus, I know that you want my heart, head and hands. I pray that you would heal my heart, make it whole, that you would help me to gaurd my heart, renew my mind according to your truth and empower me to be your hands, feet, body; a physical representation of You to the world.

In Jesus Name. AMEN.

ACT

Reading God’s Word, intentionally and daily walking with and partnering with the Holy Spirit and consistent prayer are the keys to growing from the heart, to the head, to the hand.

UNBROKEN PRAISE

  
Unbroken Praise released this week as Matt Redman’s latest offering of worship, recorded live at Abbey Road Studios. 

“Unbroken Praise reveals a heart not wanting to be beaten down by the things of life, but to actually increase worship in those moments. I often think about how a song can travel so far around the world, but also into the deepest places of someone’s heart, giving them something they can grab onto even in the craziest moments.” – Matt Redman

A LYRICAL SUMMARY

Praise unbroken, unending, untainted. unfailing, be Yours forevermore.
Unbroken praise be Yours God forever.
All my praise be Yours God forever.
Lord take this life, let it become Your throne.
Unbroken praise be Yours.
My surrender, devotion.
Be Yours forevermore.
LET MY DEEDS OUTRUN MY WORDS.
LET MY LIFE OUTWEIGH MY SONGS.
UNBROKEN PRAISE BE YOURS.

  

ALL OF LIFE

In point two of his six point vent ‘6 Destructive Trends Happening in Your Church’ Jared C. Wilson of The Gospel-Driven Church explains;

The music leader takes the stage to say, “We’re gonna start with a time of worship.” Is the whole service not a time of worship? Isn’t the sermon an act of worship?

Isn’t all of life meant to be an act of worship?

I see his point
6 OF THE BEST BY ROSS LESTER AND PHILIPPIANS 3:7-21

At the opening address of our Worship Central SA Conference, Ross Lester, from Bryanston Bible Church, gave a fantastic exhortation to worship leaders from Philippians 3:7-21 to live a private life of worship which echoes Matt’s album motif of unbroken praise. The following is my interpretive notes of Session 1 by Ps. Ross. 

Your public ministry can ruin your private life. This happens as we cause a growing gap between our stage and private life and become more passionate about our stage role than the One we sing too.

In our secret habitual sin the stage will feel like redemption and sham at the same time. In our suffering we will be forced to fake a brave face, and our ministry success will make the gap between who we are and who we pretend to be greater.

Here are six exhortations of displine that will help close the gap of public and private worship.

1. KNOW YOUR SAVIOR

Grow in your private discipline and devotion through prayer, reading your Bible, fasting and contrition. Nothing beats the surpassing worth of knowing Christ.

2. IN CHRIST JESUS

We have been baptized into his death, raised into His life, found in Him, righteous in Him.

God’s mercy and grace enpowers us with humble confidence in our position in Christ. We are righteous now and are therefore called to live like it.

3. ENJOY YOUR LIMITATIONS

The salvation of the world is not up to us. Jesus is the new High Priest and we don’t have to try to be one.

4. PATIENTLY PERSEVERE

We’re in a long and grueling race of life in which we need to press on as we serve in the small things, in total obscurity and anonymity.

5. LIVE IN GENUINE COMMUNITY

Who has their eyes on you? Flourish where you are with people who know you and know your limitations.

6. PRACTICE FOR HEAVEN

One day the gap will be gone. We need to remind ourselves of the reality of the unending praise of eternity.

BELIEVE THE SCANDALOUS GOSPEL. LIVE THE SET A PART LIFE.

A LIFE OF WORSHIP. A LIFE OF UNBROKEN PRAISE.

Download Matt Redman’s New Album

FIX YOUR EYES


The sound check was a disaster. The focus – on the stress of getting the mix right, fixing the in-ears. A bunch of us snuck off to the green room to snack and avoid the stress. Then our SA Worship Central director had a great idea… “Let’s pray”.

FOCUS

Worship is about connecting with and encountering God – ye it’s for Him, but the promise is that He inhabits the praises of His people. Distraction, noise, and stress disconnects our focus in worship. As we still our hearts and fix our eyes upon Jesus he makes a way where all seems lost. He brings a still, calm and peace to the chaos and stress of our lives.

The prayer I felt to pray in the green room was along the lines of ‘let every eye be fixed on Jesus, and every heart stirred in worship of Him’. He is our focus.

FIXED

The opening  video, played in darkness, echoed my prayer – the audio visual of revurberating noise, building, frustrating every heart, reminding us of the stress of the day, suddenly stopped to soothing keys and words encouraging us to focus and fix our eyes on Jesus.

Lights illuminated, the set list of the days reahearsel somewhat dismissed as Tim Hughes humbly, obediently led the team in a slightly different direction that culminated in free singing of new songs.

In a moment of waiting on Him, a young man sang out from the depths of his heart, and Tim led us to join in as together we sang ; “You put this song in our hearts, You put this song in our lips, You put this joy in our hearts, I will praise you, praise you Lord.”

A call to pray for healing brought many to the front. At some point before the night concluded with us singing and jumping with joy in our hearts to The Way, I recall Tim using these same words ‘fix our eyes on Jesus’. I don’t recall his context, but it impressed on me my primary personal takeaway for the weekend – Fix your eyes on Jesus!

In the end we had a great worship night at the opening of our Worship Central Conference South Africa with Tim Hughes and an impactful conference would follow.

When we humble ourselves, when we realize our efforts can’t force breakthrough, when we get our focus right, when we fix our eyes on Jesus; He meets us, we encounter the beauty of His glory and grace, he brings peace, joy, healing and so much more.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (‭Hebrews‬ ‭12‬:‭1-2‬ NASB)

FIX YOUR EYES PAST YOUR CIRCUMSTANCE. FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS. THE ONE WHO GIVES US THE GRACE AND POWER, AND WHO PERFECTS HIS FAITH IN US, TO OVERCOME.

PERSONALISING PROMISES PURPOSED FOR A PARTICULAR PEOPLE

One of my biggest debates… Okay it was a full on theological argument… was around somebody ascribing a second meaning to the parable of the sower. He had an opinion or feeling of what it meant to him personally in a particular circumstance. My argument was that Jesus a few verses later is asked by His disciples the meaning of the parable, and He tells them.

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: … – Matthew 13:18-23

So granted I am a logical analyst, a rational thinker. Abstract, while appreciated, is odd to me. If Jesus tells us the meaning of the parable how could I ascribe personal alternative meaning to it? Recently I was conflicted by a verse read in its rightful context.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

What a beautiful promise. Who me Lord? You have plans for welfare for my future?

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:12-13

Anything you say Lord? I’ll call on You and I’ll seek You with all my heart. After a promise like that why wouldn’t I?

I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. – Jeremiah 29:14

Um…? Ok…

“Because you have said, ‘The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,’ – Jeremiah 29:15

Clearly this promise in its original context is not directed at me. But it is a promise that reveals to us the heart of God towards His people. Now that we can personalize! We can personalize, from this verse, the nature and character of our God. We can confirm His heart towards us as we align ourselves with the covenant that He has promised to us.

That said… God is God. It’s His Word. It’s His Scripture. It’s His promises. If He would choose to speak through a donkey or even me… Then how dare I assert He couldn’t, if He chose to, speak something new from a promise of old purposed for a particular people.

CONTEXT IS KEY. JESUS IS KING. RELATIONSHIP IS HIS HEART.