Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Astonished or Fearful?

I find this passage to be rather interesting...
It is like Mark is trying to say there we two types or sorts of people surrounding Jesus ministry at that time.
Disciples and Followers.
That each one had their own summarised responses to who he was and how it made them feel.

Check it out...

They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. Mark 10:32 niv

From my experience many followers of Jesus are afraid...
Fearful of what the future holds for them.
Fearful of God and whether He likes them that much.
They want to follow, but something ultimately holds them back from going all out with their faith.
In fact I have seen many followers come and go, because they potentially see faith like a hobby.

Also from my experience, I have seen those who really go after Christ with everything they have, who do consider themselves to be disciples...well, they just seem to see God in everything.
God is always astonishing and powerful and good ink their eyes.
They expect to see God move in miraculous ways.
They have a never ending awe of God.
The reason why that is a reality I believe for them is that they actually try to live like the term 'disciple'. A disciple is someone who doesn't just follow, they immerse their life in their discipleship. They copy their master, taking them at their word enough to live each and every part of it out.

So which one are you?
Fearful or Amazed.
Follower or Disciple.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

My Mirror

My cool wife finds ways to try and encourage us...
One of her most impactful I think is to write key Bible verses on our bathroom mirror. It means that multiple times a day I read this, meditate on it, and pray accordingly.

If you can't read it, here it is...

Psalm 27:13-14 niv
13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

I will remain
Loosing your confidence in anything totally affects how you feel, how you approach, how you navigate issues or opportunities in life. And loosing your confidence in God hurts your faith so much.
Remind yourself of who He is. That He is faithful. The He cares. That He will do everything He has promised.
Remain in the place God has placed you right now.
I will see
Scripture tells us in Galatians that we will see if we do not give up.
You will see what God has promised in your lifetime. It is for you now.
I will wait
Keep on going simply resting on your confidence in Him.
The words spoken to Joshua ring true for you today. Be strong and courageous. Even if it takes a little longer than you would like, wait, take heart my friend.

Something to think about...

Thursday, November 22, 2018

A Note from the Pastor

My notes from our Prayer Meeting Sunday 18th November 2018...

We already have so much!
We have a clear goal - Reaching 10% of our City for Christ
We have a clear vision - Helping people to discover the reality of Jesus, the power of God, and to become fully devoted followers of Christ

Next year we are 21 years old!
As it is a coming of age in the natural, so it is also a coming of age for this Church.
We are no longer a toddler or a teenager - we are about to enter into the most significant time of our entire lives.

As kids we have dreams that only stay dreams while we stay kids.
Now as we approach the adulthood of this faith family, I believe God is going to give us favour and opportunity next year like never before.

Little by little we have been building to this moment.
In fact 'build' was the word God gave us for this year.
We have worked on building our base, our team, our systems and more.
2019 is the year for us to finally live out the vision to its fullest.

We are not holding on till Jesus comes.
We are not just doing Church to keep the faithful happy.
We have a mission. We have a plan.
And we believe God will honour us as we take hold of it together even more fully.

I am incredibly proud of the team here at Elim.
* Elders
* Management Team
* Service Teams
I am praying we get to enjoy the work we do even more, and see a huge harvest from it.
We are not going to add to the work load.
We are going to get even more smart and refined.
We are not going to be busy for busy sake, but we are going to be about business that God has called to us to.

My invitation to you is simple and clear.
Jump on board with us.
Find your place with the gifts God has given you.
Join the team and live the adventure that will unfold for us all.
This is our time! Our best is yet to come!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

That's Racist!

You have probably noticed like me that one of the most common phrases used these days is to say...
"That's Racist!"

In my morning reading of world events and ensuing commentary, I saw an article where a famous actress was being interviewed.
She admitted that while being African American, she was pretty uncomfortable with blond white women.
She recounted that during her childhood she had some bad experiences with young white girls and it has tainted her heart towards blond white women later in life.
Personally I applaud her for saying this!
Why? Because without simply justifying, she is being open about her struggles with this issue firmly on many of our radars. 
Like her, I am no fan of racism. But she is being, I believe, refreshingly honest about the realities of racism and her journey currently in it.

I think we are all a little racist...
That's right, I think we all are because of our experiences, and possibly from what we have been told. We are all at least a little suspicious of other peoples and cultures we are not familiar or comfortable with. 
Left to our own devices, without outside encouragement, racism seems to build in many groups. 
Out of fear, jealousy, resentment and a full gamut of human emotions, it festers in hearts and then has the potential to explode in very ugly ways.

Racism is for me a heart issue.
It is where it grows, hidden from the world.
Eventually rising to the surface when triggered...

God always wants to help with your heart.
David prayed one day for a new heart because he know that was where his issues began.
Asking God to create in you a new heart is not reserved just for a salvation experience event.
It can be all encompassing if you let it.
God can help you overcome any racist root in your heart today.

I have discovered that God also provides antidotes to our issues.
Being around the people you struggle with in a humble posture will work wonders on your heart towards them.
While being brought up in a faming community I was surrounded by families who were white and considered middle class or better. My environment meant I was sheltered from others skin colours and cultures most of the time. Sadly I remember the stir in the district when we had 2 Maori families move in. People didn't seem to know how to handle it or talk about it.
I think we have grown up a lot since those days thank goodness!

As an adult I have had the opportunity to visit with all sorts of groups in homes, Churches, Marae and more and it has done more to help restrain the racism seeds looking to take root.
Travelling overseas and putting myself into others cultures does you good as well if you let it.

My hope for you is the same as myself...
That we each fight the good fight of faith along with fighting prejudice in our hearts.
If you are honest with yourself and find you are struggling, then ask God to help and expose yourself to what you fear most.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Another interesting quote...

“According to the early Christians, the church doesn’t exist in order to provide a place where people can pursue their private spiritual agendas and develop their own spiritual potential. Nor does it exist in order to provide a safe haven in which people can hide from the wicked world and ensure that they themselves arrive safely at an otherworldly destination..." — N.T. Wright

This quote certainly got me thinking when it appeared on my social media feed this week!

As a Pastor, I am constantly looking at what sort of Church I am leading, where I sense God is leading us, and desperately trying (sometimes very inadequately) to lead us towards God's goals for us. I am painfully concerned about getting as many of us there as possible.

Over the last nearly 10 years I have been asked many questions from believers about our Church and whether it is suitable for them.
Here is a small sample...
"When will you do something about?..."
"Why don't you preach on such and such because it is the most important subject?"
And my all time favourite (I am being sarcastic)
"What do you have for me?"

Personally I think the Church is a great place to discover, learn and grow in your gifting's whatever they are.
It can be a respite from the world many battle with each week.
But it doesn't exist just for you and exclusively for those things.

When we view the Church as a place of spiritual business merely there to provide spiritual gifts and services to us, the inevitable conclusion of that goal is total frustration. 
Have seen it too many times in so many people.

God uses the Church for His glory.
What He does and when He does it is based on His timing, not ours.
In fact when I think of the Church I see it as an amazing God based design, like a living and breathing entity, one where I can give and receive from consistently. 
Just as I breath in and out. So the Church gives and I give to it.
Just imagine for a moment if I only breathed out - I would asphyxiate!
Imagine if I only breathed in - I would explode!

The same writer goes on to say...

"Private spiritual growth and ultimate salvation come rather as the byproduct of the main, central overarching purpose for which God has called and is calling us … That through the church God will announce to the world that he is indeed its wise, loving and just creator; that through Jesus he has defeated the powers that corrupt and enslave it; and that by his Spirit he is at work to heal and renew it.”N.T. Wright

What do you think?