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Hark! in the Park a Great Way to End the Year

by Ryan Strydom
Hark in the Park photo 2012

See all the photos at our Facebook page

All of last week I had a keen eye on the weather, wondering about the Sunday’s Hark! in the Park and the looming rain that just didn’t disappear from the weather report. When Sunday came it was pretty much as they predicted. And after the amazing time I had at last year’s Hark! in the Park – I won’t forget the sun setting as the carols started and how I thought to myself, “I’ll take a summer African Christmas over a winter one any day” – I felt somewhat disappointed that it was going to have to be indoors this year.

But my fears were all proved wrong as things kicked off. Despite the gloomy rain outside and the chill, the market was brilliant, the food warm and wonderful, and above all the singers were amazing. I took my hat off to them (quite literally, actually, as I had been bought a hat at one of the stalls!)

When we arrived there was already a buzz in the air as everyone checked out the goodies at the market. I even got some Christmas presents from my very generous family! The kids were running about, clearly enjoying themselves even though there was less space to get up to mischief, and with a delicious, warm pancake in one hand and my wife’s warmer hand in the other, we snuggled down to enjoy the choir’s marvellous voices as they led us in worship to our King and the team presented the True Story of Christmas.

This is why I’ve enjoyed Hark! in the Park over the years. We’re not just belting out a couple of traditional songs and getting the whole Christmas thing done. Every year there’s been a real sense of worship and God’s presence at the event. By the time “Oh Holy Night” comes, I feel like I’ve gone back to my First Love again – Jesus. A fire in my heart for Jesus, the Kingdom and the Gospel is once again ignited and I remember just how much the world and history changed – for ever – when Jesus was born in poverty two thousand years ago.

Thanks guys for a wonderful end to the year. Loved it!

Check out all the photos for Hark! in the Park 2012 at our Facebook page.

The 2012 Life Team talk about the year

Check out this video of this year’s Life Team talk about the year! Thanks to Andy Diesel for the vid!

Cornerstone Kids: Highlights of 2012

by Lance de Ruig


It’s been a very fruitful, fun and fantastic year with Cornerstone Kids! If you were at the Bedfordview meeting on Sunday morning, you would have enjoyed a snippet of all the fun things the kids got to do. Here are some highlights of the year that show how this part of Cornerstone’s ministry has really grown and borne great fruit for the Kingdom in 2012:

  • This year’s camp had the theme Mission Himpossible and it was a brilliant time. It was the biggest camp we’ve ever had as a church (153 people came to the camp) and we were thrilled to see 17 kids make a commitment to Jesus. The kids were divided into teams that represented nations that need prayer and they were given six missions to complete. Read more about the camp here.
  • A lot of work went into Fun Fridays and by the end of this last term we’ve seen 60 kids here on a Friday night from the age of 3 through to Grade 7. We’re looking forward to using Fun Fridays as an outreach opportunity next year as kids invite their friends and as a result we’ll start being able to build good relationships with the kids’ parents.
  • Our volunteer team has grown to over 40 workers and as a result we’re able to minister to up to 200 kids on Sunday mornings at Bedfordview. Next year we’ll need more so if the Lord speaks to you about helping out, contact info.
  • Our facilities are in the process of being upgraded and we’re looking forward to having more space for the kids next year.
Next year’s camp will be on 22 – 24 February and we’re looking very much forward to it! Look out for details in the new year!

You Think Idolatry is Not a Problem?

by Ryan Strydom

I must admit that when the SEX, MONEY, POWER series was first announced I thought to myself, “That’s awesome. A lot of guys struggle with these things. And this is going to be a really good series for them.”

But I was in for a surprise. This series highlighted some major – an unexpected – things in my own life. It wasn’t just about ‘them’. It was a challenge for me in a big way.

I first realised this when my wife and I we were discussing how we were going to address the subject of sex in our Life Group, coming off the back of that Sunday morning’s message. It’s a difficult one, of course, given that our Life Group has guys and girls, singles and couples, and even children. How would we talk about this subject in such a mixed setting?

A key text in the Old Testament came out in our discussion – the story of the Golden Calf in Exodus 32. Here it is (NIV):

The Golden Calf

32 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods,[b] Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

15 Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. 16 The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.

17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “There is the sound of war in the camp.”

18 Moses replied:

“It is not the sound of victory,
it is not the sound of defeat;
it is the sound of singing that I hear.”

19 When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20 And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.

21 He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”

22 “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. 23 They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ 24 So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”

What a strange and rather hilarious thing for Aaron to say: “out came this calf!” As if the idol appeared out of nowhere.

After this event they begin to make the temple and various giftings are poured out (see Exodus 36). Also, God brings His presence. It seems that God needs to deal with idolatry in our lives before he pours out His presence in greater abundance and, as a result, pours out his gifts.

You might recall Mike Hanchett’s prophetic word over Cornerstone from a few weeks back. In it there was a lot around God’s presence and His gifts being poured out over our church. It may be that before God brings this prophetic word to fruition many of us need to deal with idols that have crept in. I know this is certainly the case in my life.

When Shannon explained some of this to me I felt God say, “Ah,” and he began highlighting certain things in my own life that I’ve been largely ignoring or just living with. Certain things that, like Aaron, I’ve been saying, “Well, it just appeared out of nowhere!” But the truth is, that’s simply not so.

Yesterday was the last of this series, POWER, and I was challenged again on the idolatry issue. There are some key points from Marcus’ notes from yesterday that I think are worth mentioning:

  • Idols demands your attention
  • Idols keep you pre-occupied
  • They dominate
  • And idol becomes a priority of your time, talents and treasures
  • Idols become those things we constantly run to for comfort and salvation
  • We hold them in high value – they captivate us

But, the real story is

  • They cannot redeem us, satisfy that deep need for a relationship and provide a future hope for us. They are not our saviour
  • They are deceptive
  • They need us to survive, no matter what kind of idol
  • They bring us into bondage/slavery, not freedom
  • They bring destruction to our lives and the lives of those around us

For me, there are many things I actually do run to for comfort and salvation. Many things. But what I had never seen before was how these things, as the third last point says above, need me to survive. Often it feels as if I need them to survive. Isn’t that deceptive? Without me, idols have no life – after all, as Marcus said, an idol requires me to polish it, me to fashion it, me to keep it safe. It needs me. That’s been a brilliant revelation.

It’s been a really great series and has fitted in very well with where we are as a church right now, I believe. Or, at the very least, it’s been great for me. Check out all the resources below on this series:

SEX (Week 1: 28 October)

  • Download the message here
  • Download the notes here (for the whole series)
  • Check out the video here

MONEY (Week 2: 4 November)

  • Download the message here
  • Download the notes here (for the whole series)
  • Check out the video here

POWER (Week 3: 11 November)

  • Download the message here
  • Download the notes here (for the whole series)
  • Check out the video here

50 Shades… The Story So Far

Uptown have been hosting 50 Shades…, a series that has to do with God’s design for sex. It’s been a fantastic series thus far with plenty of insight offered from Mark Gungor’s Singles and Stinking Thinking DVD series. This has facilitated some brilliant discussion around the topics of sex, dating, singleness and relationships in general.

As a culture we suffer under a lot of over-romanticised ideals where we tend to think in terms of “The One” and a “soul-mate”. This series has gotten to the heart of this thinking, showing how we need to make good decisions in our lives and need to stop being victims of idealistic thinking around romance and sex. God gives us freedom to make decisions and we need to make sure that we take responsibility for our decisions and make better ones going forward.

The 50 Shades… series is named after the top-selling novels 50 Shades of Gray – a typical example of bad thinking, over-romanticised ideas and our culture’s harmful understandings around sex. While marketing may say otherwise, what this book series presents leads to despair and a good deal of confusion. God has something better for us.

50 Shades… will be continuing at Uptown this Sunday, 30 September. This will be the end of the series. Details below.

50 Shades…
Sundays 9 – 30 September
Cornerstone Church Uptown
Cnr De Beer & Smit St, Braamfontein

Tanzania EQUIP (Sep 2012) Report-Back



A team from Cornerstone recently spent nine days ministering in Tanzania for the Tanzanian EQUIP time. The team also met up with Keir Taylor to encourage and minister to our friends in this part of the world. Being an EQUIP, there was also a lot of training, especially some training with the church in Makumi.

Check out some of the photos above. There are a lot more at the Facebook page.

Lesotho Trip Report-Back



On the weekend of 14 – 16 September, Mark Meeske, Dave Campbell and the Cornerstone Life Team went on a ministry trip to visit the churches in Lesotho that we work with there. They had a really great time encouraging and teaching the churches.

It was a cold weekend of snow with some Life-Teamers even getting snowed in after the team split into three to minister in various places. The snow prohibited the team from doing some ‘door knocking’ in some of the areas but altogether it was a wonderful time of building up our friends that we partner with in Lesotho.

Check out some of the photos.

Open Mic Night Was a Party

by Phil Quinn

Last Friday, the Uptownies held an Open Mic Night – an evening where anyone could come and showcase their talents. The idea behind the event was to initiate our new venue as a place in which we can relax and have fun and be a source of life in our community.

So we declared the mic open and sat back to enjoy what would come of it. It was wonderful to see so many budding artists and performers looking for an opportunity to express themselves and it was great fun to cheer them on: poets, dancers, saxophonists, singers and rappers.  Our venue was packed out with Uptowners, visiting Bedfordviewers and students from the Braamfontein community.

The Life Team put on a dance best described as “mixtape”; Liziwe Fihlani from the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra performed a sax solo; and a young performer known as Kooch, hailing all the way from Cape Town, also put in an appearance. And these were just some of the highlights.

Draco, a rapper that used to work with Andy Sherman and who enjoys radio play was our guest performer. He was supplemented by our own Jonno Warmington and the Christ Revolution Dance Crew.

We finished off a highly successful evening with Jon Hing performing his famous MJ impersonation. It was a super event and we’ll certainly be doing it again!

Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage Comes to an End

Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage

The Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage course came to its end last night at Bedfordview and we’ve had a fantastic time with the series living up to its name!

Last night was about staying married without killing your spouse. Some of the main points revolved around forgiveness (always a difficult one!) and how men and women have different ways of encouraging each other or giving credit to each other.

Generally, men tend to think that a big favour or ‘surprise’ earns them more points with their wives, but wives don’t count it that way. Random, regular acts of kindness work better than big, sporadic acts of kindness. Women, in general, don’t like everything to be a surprise – most of the time it’s better to tell them what you’re planning and when. Think about a ‘surprise date’ and how often that doesn’t work! She would have wanted to know so she could get a haircut and so on.

Humourously enough, the bonus about telling your wife about some big date event is that as she tells her friends about it, her friends’ husbands automatically get minus points!

The differences between men and women and the way each of us think has really been a fantastic help throughout this course.  Check out feedback on all the evenings at the links below:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Thanks to all those involved in making these special evenings – the food was outstanding and we had a really lovely time.

Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, Part 3

by Ryan Strydom

Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage

The third part of Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage at Bedfordview was that part of the course that dealt with the subject of sex. Mark Gungor, the host of the series, got a bit serious about how the mainstream media, from talk show hosts to Hollywood to the newspapers we read, effectively punt so many lies around sex that are patently false. The trouble is that so much of what we’re told is just not true, with even liberal circles beginning to realise that things such as porn are having a major negative effect on the lives of men, women and on marriages across the world.

Gungor raised some good points that just made common sense. If couples want good sex lives it makes sense for them to focus on each other (especially the men), not on porn or the millions of other things that the media encourages. In the end he gave some advice on how couples can have better sex lives – namely, how the husband can focus on his wife. At least those were the most important points that I took out of the evening!

Loved the food, once again. Looking forward to the final evening this coming Sunday which includes a romantic dinner.

Note: There is childcare for ages 3 and up.

Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage
Dates: Sunday evenings of 29 July, 5 August, 12 August, 19 August
Time: 6:00pm
Cost: R200 per couple for all the evenings. Cost includes snacks and a romantic dinner for the last evening.
Where: Cornerstone Church Bedfordview –  Benard Road East, Bedfordview, Johannesburg
Info: Email or call 011-616-4073

Register: You can register for this event in the following ways:
• At the info desk at Cornerstone Church Bedfordview and paying in cash.
• By filling out the form here and sending your EFT payment confirmation to