A Home Group of Zolder50. Locals and foreigners, seekers and saints, listeners and learners... doing our best to love God, love each other, and unite to serve others...

05 september 2006

Proposed Schedule for Studying Revelation

6 - Introduction (1:1-8)
13 - Seven Churches (1:9 - 3:22)
20 - Throne, Scroll, Lamb (4:1 - 5:14)

4 - Seven Seals (6:1 - 8:1)
11 - Seven Trumpets (8:2 - 11:19)
18 - Crucial Characters (12:1 - 14:20)
25 - NO STUDY ==> Worship Night? Catch-up Night?

1 - Seven Bowls (15:1 - 16:21)
8 - Babylon (17:1 - 19:5)
15 - God's Victory (19:6 - 20:15)
22 - New Heaven, New Earth (20:11 - 22:21)
29 - Summary, Conclusion, Reflection, Application

Regeltjes voor Openbaring

Just knowing that it can be a controversial and confusing book, I just thought I'd post some of the "rules" that I had thought of for studying Revelation. If anyone else has other rules to add, please suggest them.
  1. Don't get too weird.
  2. Don't try to read too much symbolism into every single current event.
  3. Let your mind be seriously engaged, watching in a state of preparedness (it's good to keep an eye on current events) -- but don't become obsessive, over-anxious, or alarmist.
  4. Remember that Revelation was not meant to be interpreted 100 percent literally (apocalyptic literature); it's not intended to be a linear historical (or future) description of events -- direct parallels will almost always be flawed.
  5. Revelation was meant to be vague and mysterious! It's not merely a code to be cracked.
  6. It's fun to theorize and analyze and envision practical outworkings of Revelation -- but we need to stay humble and flexible in our interpretations. There are hundreds of theories out there. People have been analyzing Revelation for centuries...
  7. The main benefits of studying Revelation are developing critical thinking skills, learning to closely consider the Bible and its interpretation -- and most importantly, inducing a state of readiness among Christ's followers!
  8. Keep in mind that discussion of Revelation is really just a discussion of secondary issues (not essential to salvation or daily Christian life).

If we can all keep these principles in mind, I think we'll have a very meaningful and enjoyable study of the book of Revelation!

Modern Issues Potentially (but not Necessarily) Indicative of the End Times

  • Persistent conflict in Israel (Mark 13:14, Revelation 6:1-4)
  • Polarization of East and West -- Axis basically centered around Jerusalem (Revelation 6:1-4)
  • Enmity between Israel and Arab nations (Revelation 6:1-4, Genesis 16:12)
  • Iran developing nuclear technologies (Revelation 6:1-4)
  • Earthquakes and famines (Matthew 24:7, Mark 13:8, Revelation 6:5-8)
  • Wars and rumors of wars: Israel/Hezbollah, Chechnya, Uganda, Congo, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran (Matthew 24:6-7, Mark 13:7, Revelation 6:4)
  • A lot of the current "hot spots" match up with Biblically-significant geographical regions (Iran/Iraq = Babylon, Turkey = Asia Minor, Israel = Israel) (Revelation 9:14-16, Revelation 14:1, Revelation 17:3-6)
  • Suspicions about "Mark of the Beast" technologies -- ID chip implanted in hand or forehead (Revelation 13:16-17)
  • Conflict centered around Jerusalem's Temple Hill (Matthe 24:1-2, Mark 13:1-2)
  • Many claiming to be Christ (David Koresh, Indian gurus, etc.); false prophets and proliferation of religions (Matthew 24:5, Mark 13:6)
  • Persecution of Christians -- China, Africa, etc. (Matthew 24:9, Mark 13:9, Revelation 2:10, Revelation 6:9)
  • Fears about a massive plauge such as AIDS and/or Bird Flu (Luke 21:11, Revelation 6:8)
  • Two-hundred million man army -- China? (Revelation 9:16)

20 augustus 2006

3 Things to Note

Hoi allemaal!

There are three quick announcements for the coming week. Let goed op:
  1. The location for this evening's "picnic" has been moved to our house (Retiefstraat 39 huis), instead of the Oosterpark. We hope to see you here...
  2. We are canceling plans for our regular weekly get-together on Wednesday evening (23 August). Hopefully everyone can enjoy the end of the summer, and we'll plan on getting a fresh start next week (30 August).
  3. Remember that there are no worship services in the Zolder on Sunday, 27 August. Instead, everyone is invited (and encouraged to invite anyone else that wants to come) to the Zolder on Saturday, 26 August for a party (see www.amsterdam50.nl for more information).

That's it. Tot ziens.

03 augustus 2006

Wat betekent de wet?

Ik vond onze discussie van gisteren avond heel nuttig en heel interessant. Ik hoop dat we volgende week verder en dieper kunnen gaan.

In de tussentijd, hier zijn een paar deeltjes uit het Nieuwe Testament die een beetje uitleg geven over de relatie tussen de wet (de tien geboden) en genade (door Jezus). Als u andere teksten kunnen vinden, graag even toevoegen! Maar als beginpunt...
  • Exodus 19:1 t/m Exodus 20:21
  • Romeinen 3:21-31
  • Romeinen 5:6-11
  • Romeinen 5:20-21
  • Romeinen 6:15-23
  • Romeinen 7:7
  • Romeinen 8:1-8
  • Hebreeën 9:11-15
  • Hebreeën 10:1-10

Nog een keer, volgende week wil ik over een paar belangrijke vragen praten: Wat bedoelde God toen Hij de wet gaf? en Wat betekent de wet (de tien geboden) voor ons vandaag (in the periode na Jezus)?

13 juni 2006

Home Group 14 June @ 18.30

Beste Home Group broeders and zusters,

Zoals vorige week al werd aangekondigd zullen we morgen wat eerder beginnen. Maar aangezien er niet veel mensen waren is het nodig om het nog even op schrift te stellen.
Home Group bij Eric begint om 18:30 en is inclusief eten! (Rich Man Poor Man dinner). Please be there!

Dear home gourp brothers and sisters,
Tomorrow we'll have our home group at Eric's place at 18:30, we star earlier because we have the Rich Man Poor Man dinner together.

29 mei 2006

15 September SOLIS Dinner at Zolder50

SOLIS Amsterdam is a Zolder50 initiative to help the poor. SOLIS is a non-profit organization focused on ending poverty and creating economic sustainability in developing communities.

I have mixed feelings about presenting SOLIS Amsterdam. On the one hand I’m excited to introduce you to a concrete project to help the poor. On the other hand I’ve been struggling with a sense of being overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the problems we’re talking about. We’re talking about poverty issues, hunger and social injustice.

I wondered how I should present this project. Should I perhaps use Bible verses, to convince you that it is good to feed the hungry? – I am sure many of you already know these verses. Should I perhaps invoke your compassion by speaking out emotionally? – But it’s not about us, it’s about what God has to say to us. This morning I struggled with these questions. I started to have an headache over all this thinking, I realised I could not really communicate what I wanted to communicate, because my mind was not at peace. So I switched on the TV.

There are moments when God seems to speak so clearly to me, and this was one of them. Our brothers and sisters of the Evangelical Broadcasting Company (EO) reported on the situation in Kenya. Persistent drought has caused food shortages. Now 3,5 million people need food aid. A woman working in Kenya for an aid organization told us about how people craved for food, how huge the needs were, not only for food but also for schooling, future prospects. The programme makers also reported on two kids who have lost their father. Elephants killed him, as they were competing for scarce water resources. Parents helplessly watch their children suffer sickness and starve...

I think it is important to understand that helping the poor is more than about giving money. We could for in instance commit time. We can also raise other people’s awareness for these issues, which is what we’ve been doing this month at our Church.

15th of September we plan to organize a fundraising dinner at our church. All profit we make will be for business starting & community projects by the Village Enterprise Fund. Of course, we will have great food, but also performances and a DJ.

We hope to raise funds for the micro-enterprise fund and community grants.

Micro-enterprise funds help to create sustainable small businesses in developing communities in Kenya. The Micro-Enterprise fund will provide small loans to help people to start small businesses for instance metal recyclers, farms, taxi services, retail shops, etc.

Community grants are invested in community development. An example would be helping churches that have to take care of adopted aids orphans.

To organize this dinner we need your help. We need to fill the following tasks:

  • Food and Beverage: choosing recipes, preparing food, serving
  • Entertainment: performances (DJs, bands, …)
  • Decorations: tables, cutlery, etc.
  • PR: making and distributing brochures, making menu cards
  • Prayer
  • Sponsors: buy food and decorations.

In the orange room at the Zolder you will find lists where you can sign up I you want to volunteer the 15th of September. Please sign up if you feel you could contribute something. For more information you can mail or phone me.

Long-term Commitment

Finally there are a couple of things I would like to mention shortly. This year some people in our church will visit Kenya, to see what happens with our projects. We want to build a long-term relationship between our Church and a Kenyan community. We think we will better understand the needs of people as we get to know them better. We also think a long term relationship will raise our awareness for poverty in this world. So, as we are ending our May Awareness month, the raising of awareness still goes on. In June we will organise Rich Man Poor Man dinners at the Home Groups of this Church. The idea is that the dining table represents the world, some people get food in abundance, others will have to do with a spoon of rice. Maybe you’d feel uncomfortable sitting at that table, but then again I think we should not feel comfortable about social injustice in this world.

15 mei 2006

Eric's Images from Nijmegen

These are my five favorite photos from the Nijmegen weekend...

"Ani B" -- street smart in Centraal Station...

Marco's fashion statement -- this photo is destined to become a classic...

Jason, Nicole, and Geert Jan in Nijmegen...

H. Maria Geboorte Kerk (I felt a little guilty taking the picture in the middle of a church service, but I'm kind of glad that I did it).

The crazy group shot... You can see my blog for the "regular" group portrait, if you want...

I was going to try and upload some more photos to the Flickr account, but I couldn't figure out how to do it. Could anyone offer some advice? Either way (whether we do it through Flickr or through posting things directly to this blog or something else), I'd like to see some of the pictures that other people took as well.

14 mei 2006

Live from Nijmegen

I'm typing this post from the living room of our host, Henrita, here in Nijmegen. We're getting ready to have breakfast and head to the H. Maria Geboorte Kerk. After that, we'll eat lunch together and then head back to Amsterdam...

It's been a good weekend.

In many ways, you could say that we have spied the land and found it to be incredibly fruitful. Yesterday's conversations with other ministry leaders from around the city yielded very positive reports about the need for further ministry in Nijmegen -- at least 150,000 people, even in this more traditionally "religious" part of the Netherlands, who are outside the reach of one of the existing churches. One of the leaders (Diedrick Eikelboom, from the Evangelical Alliance of Nijmegen) said that there is especially a need in some large neighborhoods of the city and in populations such as the university students, the artistically-minded community, the nature lovers, and the sporters (which is cool, because Zolder50 seems to have a particular affinity for these areas of ministry). Our conversations with random strangers in the parks, pleins, and streets of Nijmegen were very interesting and provocative. Many people seem to want desperately to believe but find themselves shackled by doubt and dogma. And among those who choose to be open to spiritual things, there seems to be a definite hunger for the gospel.

But, to be sure, there are also some "giants" in the land and some fortified cities that could be challenging if a new church were to be started in Nijmegen. It sounds like New Age spirituality and Paganism have a very strong influence in the area; several individuals mentioned that Wicca is big here and that spiritual battle is a very real and present phenomenon. Entrenched models of ministry also seem to create challenges for reaching the average unbeliever, who assumes that church is something boring, hypocritical, and irrelevant. The area is definitely more Dutch-speaking than Amsterdam, and even Amsterdammers who would move to Nijmegen would be considered "allochtonen" (foreigners).

Nevertheless, the weekend has been very encouraging and stimulating. We want to continue to pray for God's guidance as we process our experiences from the last days. We want to hear God's voice clearly, and if God's voice is urging us to "take the land" then we want to respond not in fear but in faith -- like Caleb son of Jephunneh, who said, "we should go up and take posession of the land, for we can certainly do it" (Numbers 13:30).

We look forward to posting more reflections and photographs from the trip, as time goes on...