Category: Pastor’s Pen

Joy in the Storm

Where do you go when the unexpected happens? Do you hide, argue, or run? Do you blame others or blame yourself? We rarely expect the unexpected so we often have to process pain and trauma in real time. We usually do not get the opportunity to mentally prepare for the many challenges we face, and unfortunately, trials often bring out the worst in us. In the midst of the unexpected, we often say and do things that we regret. As Christians, how are we to respond when trials and tribulations come?

James offers us a very clear reminder of how to respond when the unexpected happens. James 1:1-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” It is easy to understand what James is saying here, but this passage is drastically harder to put into practice. What does James mean when he says to “consider it all joy” when we face trials? Does this mean that we should always smile and never experience sadness? I think not. Jesus wept, and Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Joy does not always mean we are filled with happy emotions. Joy is a gift from God. Joy is not always an emotion or a feeling. Instead, we choose to find joy in the object of our faith, Jesus Christ. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Though we may not understand the unexpected, I pray we run to and find joy in Jesus Christ, our source of hope.

Due to the pandemic, the past two years have been a bit unexpected. In addition to the pandemic, each of us have faced other unexpected circumstances. Many of us have not stopped long enough to think about how Christians should respond to such unusual times. I encourage you to find some time this month to process the past two years. Think about your response to the unexpected. Repent if you have responded incorrectly at different points. Apologize to people that you may have hurt. Turn to Jesus and find joy in the storm.

Jesus is the one that calmed the storm, woke the dead, and opened the eyes of the blind. Jesus is no stranger to difficulties and challenges, but where we failed, Jesus was blameless and perfect. Jesus did not tell us that we will not face the unexpected in this world. Instead Jesus says in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” May we find hope, joy, and courage in Jesus today. He has overcome the sin, brokenness, and death of this world. Jesus has promised Christians an eternal hope in Him. When the unexpected comes, may we find our joy in Him!

In Christ,

Nick, Amanda, and Julia


Does change excite you, or are you the type that tries to avoid change? We all have different ways that we deal with change. Some handle change really well, and some do not adapt to change so easily. We all have different seasons in our lives, and with each new season, we face new challenges and many changes. I know my family along with many others have been in a season of change, and our church has been going through a significant season of change as well.

As Christians, our lives have been eternally changed by the grace and mercy of Jesus. Daily, Christ is changing and transforming us into His own image (2 Corinthians 3:18). This transformation is both an internal and an external change. God made us to learn and grow, and He specifically made us to learn and grow in Him. Ever since I became a Christian, I have found that no place feels quite like home, and over the years, I have begun to realize that this world is not our home if we are in Christ. Instead my heart longs for my eternal home with Jesus. In this world we are “aliens and strangers” (1 Peter 2:11), and Hebrews 13:14 tells us, “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” Thankfully Paul gives us some words of encouragement in Philippians 3:20-21 by saying, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” 

Change, growth, and transformation are unavoidable in this life, and yet, God seems to use each moment to teach us more about Him. When we became Christians, God in His sovereign wisdom chose to leave us here on this sinful earth to now be witnesses and ambassadors for Him to the unbelieving world. Each day, may we live our lives with that reality in our minds. I have found this mindset begins to dull the pain of change and growth. When we know we have been promised eternal glory in the presence of our holy and perfect God, we begin to see purpose in each day, each challenge, and each opportunity for growth. 

May our hearts cry out with the words of Paul in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” As a by-product, we change, we grow, and we go as Christ leads us. “To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).

In Christ,

Nick, Amanda, and Julia

Spinning our of control

Nobody could have predicted 18 months ago that we would be where are today. That’s just the nature of human knowledge – we cannot see into the future. My generation has had it relatively easy – no major world war, no world-wide pandemic, growing wealth, fairly comfortable lives. To some degree we’ve heard or experienced the odd localized case of illness, war, terrorism, and economic issues that threatened to impact our world, but none great enough to make us stop and reconsider our way of life. I guess we just took our privileges for granted.

It is therefore no wonder that COVID-19 has hit us hard, stopping all of us in our tracks. It often felt during this past year as if the world, our world, is spinning out of control. And just as we started thinking numbers are decreasing, with some countries seemingly getting on top of this thing, the miraculous quick development and availability of vaccines, we are all shocked to watch in horror how this virus and its impact is spinning out of control in India. It is a stark reminder that this thing is not over yet. As the expression goes: It ain’t over ’till it’s over.

As we continue to look for answers, pray for protection and ask question about why this is happening, it is hard to come up with answers for those who are really suffering. Being in lock-down in our relatively safe environment is no match for what others in the world of illness, death, suffering, hunger and yearning for peace and safety are experiencing.

Some Bible authors also ask hard questions. People like Job who suffered so much loss without knowing why it hit him “out of nowhere”. Some of the Psalmists also questioned God’s care, wondering about his apparent absence when they needed Him (“Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” – Ps 10:1). But almost in every single case we also see these people turning TO God, rather than turning away from Him, as seen in the same psalm (10:16): “The LORD is king forever and ever”.  This confession is based on the fact that they knew God is in control, even if and when it seems to be different in the short-term.

I am praying that, one day in the future, we’ll look back at how God used this history-making pandemic and its impact around the world to confirm what we already know and confess: Our God is in control!

Yours in the Lord’s service


Psalm 115:3 “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”

Old dogs and new tricks!

I’d like to claim for myself the English expression “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, meaning: the older we get the harder it is to learn new things. This is true in many areas of life. Just think about trying to teach your granny to use the latest smart phone! And, I must admit, the world of technology around us develops so fast that it is hard to keep up. For an old dog like me, I think I may have just decided to let the younger generation get on with it, although I surprised myself during this lock-down era by learning to do worship services online, Zooming around on Sundays, Bible studies and meetings. Maybe old dogs can still do it…?

It made me think of what Jesus experienced during his earthly ministry. His message was new, refreshing, and different. He reached out to the poor, sick and lowly people, telling his disciples that the kingdom of God belongs to “children” who are willing to receive God’s love in child-like faith. Ordinary people loved Jesus’ teaching, but the learned “old dogs” of Judaism hated Him.

The biggest challenge He faced was trying to convince these “old dogs” that He was the Messiah, God’s Son, who came to die and be raised up in order to offer salvation to anyone in the world who believes in Him. They just could not get beyond their old dog understanding of a Jewish king on a throne in Jerusalem that would bless only Israel. And what Jesus came to do is precisely what we are celebrating this month during Easter. God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is the Saviour of the world, and He brought about salvation in a way that no-one could have predicted.

Easter is a good reminder of the basis of our faith, summarized by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – “I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…”

Let’s celebrate our Saviour and our salvation!

Hang in there!

For the title above I was actually tempted to use the well-known and commonly used Afrikaans expression “vasbyt”. Literally translated it means “bite tight”, meaning to hold on and not let go. This expression may have originated from seeing at how some dog breeds can lock their jaws on an item and, no matter how hard you kick, scream or beat, they simply will not let go. “Vasbyt” developed into a standard expression when we encourage one another to hang in there, don’t let go or to be patient. This is what I want to do here.

Many pictures come to mind when I think about not letting go, such as an athlete in a marathon race, a person enduring long-term illness, or the encouragement to remain hopeful during this COVID-19 time when life is no longer what it used to be and there just doesn’t seem to be an end in sight!

The Bible has much to say about “vasbyt”, both in examples and also in direct instructions. Just think about Moses’ life of 3 X 40 years (palace, desert and leading Israel during their wanderings), Joseph sold in slavery and ending up in prison in Egypt, David fleeing Saul for many years, and Paul enduring much persecution in simply wanting to share the message of the Gospel. But also, and very relevant for us during this month as we prepare for Easter, think about how Jesus endured much rejection, pain, suffering and ultimately death to redeem us for God.

The Bible is clear that the Christian life will include a lot of “vasbyt”. We are encouraged to hold on, be patient, wait and not lose faith. In this former believers (people of faith) and Jesus set the example, as we see in Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

In other words: Hang in there! Don’t let the current lockdown, debates, loneliness, economic hardships and many other challenges take your focus away from the Lord.

May the Lord Jesus help us all


Dealing with fake news…

News spreads quickly these days. Just think about how quickly we know about the latest event via our phones, and sometimes watching live events on television, literally seeing how events unfold in real time. Every morning I can read the latest COVID statistics for the past 24 hours – it’s as quick as that!

Unfortunately, this is also true for false news, conspiracy theories, “solutions” to hard questions, guesses about why things happen in the world, and how the world will come to an end (end-time theories). These have been around for ages and there is no doubt in my mind that we will see more of it. The internet and cyber communication has made it so easy and quick to spread news … even false news, thoughts, ideas, interpretations, sermons and much more.

One of the big news items currently has to do with theories about where the Corona virus came from, how scientists or wealthy people (or companies) have designed and manipulated it, spread it, and now have the power to make money or rule the world, even suggesting a possible implant of some chip in all of us via the vaccines.

The question for us as Christians is: How do we deal with it?

Without trying to be too simplistic, let me highlight a few truths that will help us respond to all these theories and ideas.

  • Prayerfully and carefully study the Word of God. Get to know more about God and give less attention to theories about the future and interpretations about events in the world.
  • Make sure you believe and trust in God, and in God alone!
  • Stay within the age-old, basic truths that the Church and solid Christian leaders have taught us – the faith we inherited.
  • Seek wise counsel. Discuss any theory and your feelings with a trusted and wise person who can give you Biblical perspective.
  • Test theories, “news” items, and any idea that starts spreading by seeing if there is truth in it. Use fact-check type websites to see where these viral stories came from and if there is any truth in it.
  • Read 1 John 4:1-6 – focus on how to “test every spirit”!

If you need prayer, advice or just need to chat, please contact me.

Resolutions vs. Commitments

We’re grateful to Kelly for preaching during the Advent Season. He is thus bringing a reflection at the start of the New Year.

Light-hearted “Resolutions” or True Commitments for the New Year?

In last month’s “Pastor’s Pen” Gerhard encouraged us during the “giving season” of Christmas to consider the many gifts we’ve received in 2020 – despite the obvious challenges – and to reflect on the lessons we’ve learned this past year. I would echo that encouragement as we finish this year and begin the new one!

In the U.S., we have a tradition of making New Year’s “resolutions” that are normally goals for self-improvement in the coming year: ending bad habits, eating better, being wiser with our money, etc. In fact, January is the top month for new memberships at gyms/fitness centers! For many people, writing up a list of resolutions is merely a fun or expected “exercise,” but others approach their resolutions in all seriousness.

Unfortunately, good intentions alone don’t lead to changes in behavior! As believers, there are some things we can do to increase the likelihood that we will follow through on our goals for the new year:

  • Approach them seriously and prayerfully – what are the areas I think God wants me to work on this coming year?
  • Prioritize the most important ones – no more than 5 and focus on those. (If you accomplish all 5 by mid-year, choose 5 more 🙂
  • Commit them to prayer – access the power available to us through prayer and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives
  • Share your goals with at least 1 other person for accountability – and give that person freedom to ask you how you’re doing
  • Review your progress at least monthly – and make any changes necessary to help you reach your goals.

So intentionally set aside some time before we’re too far into January and review the lessons learned from 2020 (and honestly assess the failures) and establish some clear goals for 2021: personally, professionally, in your marriage and family/parenting, and spiritually (evangelism, Scripture reading and devotional time, prayer, and/or Scripture memorization).

May we all experience growth in our lives in 2021 – individually and as a church family!

Blessed to be a part of BFC with you  ~Kelly Fath

COVID & Christmas

The year 2020 has been unusual – you’ve heard that before!! COVID has left its mark on society, politics, health and the economy. As we approach Christmas, it may give us an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve learnt.

There are many negatives, of course, such as the lockdowns, economic downturn, unemployment, travel restrictions, loneliness, depression, and much more. But, in light of Christmas and the “giving” season, I am also wondering what positives “gifts” we can take with us into the future? I do believe this COVID period has given us some gifts – gifts we probably wouldn’t have noticed or appreciated if they were not taken from us!

Take time to reflect on the some of these gifts or lessons.

  • Learn to appreciate the gift of friendships, visits, worshipping together in the same venue without fear of infection, the hugs, smiles … and much more. Don’t take anything for granted!
  • Be mindful of those who are single and lonely. Many do not have a house, garden or companion to share their locked-in environment.
  • Appreciate freedom of movement, even going to your workplace and rubbing shoulders with others. In the past people would often yearn to have “home office”, but being forced to stay at home during this time has given it a different perspective, I think!
  • Enjoy faces, facial expressions, smiles … without a mask covering it up. Look people in the face.
  • Enjoy the gift of clean hands, soap and practicing good hygiene to avoid catching viruses and other illnesses.

During this time we’ve learned to live with change – things can change overnight! But the one constant and unchangeable truth is that God is our Rock and Salvation (Psalm 62:1). Learn to trust in Him for comfort, care and protection, especially since He dealt with the deadliest virus of all, namely sin which Jesus removed when He gave us the greatest gift of all, His own life. The “vaccine” to deal with sin has been given and approved  a long time ago!

May we have a healthy, joyful and Christ-filled holiday season.

Dealing with disappointment

I guess we are all familiar with disappointments and can tell story after story about disappointments we experienced as a children and even as adults. It’s also no secret that different personalities handle these disappointments very differently. On the one extreme people will simply go quiet and withdraw, while on the other end of the spectrum people will react verbally, with anger, and much emotion.

Most of us had hoped that, by now, this Coronavirus would be “under control”, whatever “under control” means. Maybe that life as we used to know it (how long ago was it?) will return, or that medical science would have come up with a treatment that works, or that the thing will simply go away! But here we are … facing yet another lockdown as cases in Europe (and other countries) seem to spiral out of control. What a disappointment! Most of us are tired of this way of life, forced to stay indoors, wear masks, meet via cyberspace, keep social distancing, and much more. Psychologists actually refer to it as COVID fatigue and even Zoom fatigue! Tired, disappointed.

There is an incident in the life of Samuel that may help us shift or focus during this current disappointment. The first king of Israel, Saul, selected by God and anointed by Samuel, became a major disappointment to both God and Samuel because of disobedience. This caused much mourning on the part of Samuel (1 Sam 15:35) … until God said to him, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons” (1 Sam 16:1).

In the midst of grief, disappointment and mourning over Saul, God found King David, from whom would come the King and Messiah, Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Maybe the message for us is: Look up, look ahead, look around to see what God can bring about in the midst of this pandemic!


For a while now we’ve looked at the Book of Judges, digging for gold, which I see mainly as the characteristics of God. Each Sunday we’ve discovered some aspect of how God is revealed to us in the lives and experiences of the “judges”. It’s certainly not the only way to look at the Book of Judges, but it has been helpful to me to work through some very tough (and most often disappointing!) stories and incidents in the life of Israel and her leaders.

One of the main characteristics in the book is the patience of God. There are many definitions of patience, but one puts it this way: it’s “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious”. Looking at the sinfulness of God’s people in Judges, there is no doubt that God had to exercise constraint in not simply killing them off or destroying them in order to start over again. But, such is the patience of God. God is God, God is full of grace, and God had a plan. Even now God is patient, not only with those outside the Kingdom, but also in offering ongoing forgiveness to us when we sin and repent.

Many years after Judges God’s patience resulted in the coming of Jesus to this world to die for our sins. Jesus himself showed patience in bearing with rejection, misunderstanding of his ministry and his final goal, but He “endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2) in order to finish the task of bringing salvation to the world. The author of Hebrews therefore encourages us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (12:1-2). New Testament authors also encourage us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus by pursuing the same attitudes He had – among others, patience, as a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22).

I can think of no better time to be reminded to be patient than right now during this pandemic. It seems as if this “thing” is going to be with us for a while. As followers of Christ, let us display the attitude of Jesus and thereby be true witnesses to the world in how to endure in times of trial and difficulties.