Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Day 56 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "River or Rain"

Grace is amazing.
It is a gift from God through Jesus Christ.
Not a single person deserves Gods grace and yet He pours it out lavishly.
So good!

Grace is amazing.
It has the power to lift ones life from where it is now to something better.
To the lost and broken, grace is the platform to help them rise above, find hope and healing, and move onto life in all its fullness just as God as promised.
So good!

Now to flick back to the river vs rain part...
And don't get wound up about the generalisations...

If you see grace as like a river you potentially see grace as very good.
You want it to flow into your life. To keep flowing into your life.
You swim in it once you think you can trust it.
You float along in its current.
And it takes you to new and exciting places.

From my many experiences, I have encountered many who love this grace.
They grab hold of it gratefully to rescue them from what has happened in their lives. Sometimes to help them recover from the bad choices that we are all wrestle with along life's journey.

Then there is a moment. It comes at some point to everyone.
Where the river is no longer simple and safe, where rapids appear, and the grace river is no longer as they expect.
This is where someone hurts them either intentionally but most of the time unintentionally.
This is where a leader doesn't meet an unwritten expectation.
This is where a Pastor like me isn't as perfect as we all hoped.
When grace is seen only to be a river flowing into a life, they can potentially struggle, get offended, fire off some shots, and many times walk away.

If you see grace like rain, I think this takes it to a whole new level.
Just as rain comes via precipitation to even create a river in the first place, this is where we see grace as flowing in and then through our lives.
Where we recognise there is a mysterious and yet divine cycle to the process.
Rain never makes a choice as to whether where it falls deserves it. It just does it.
Rain doesn't judge the worthiness of the soil. It never rationalises the fruit of its endeavours.
Rain rains. It can do no other.

I want to encourage you, as I did over the weekend to those who tuned in, to go on a fresh journey exploring grace.
To make sure it is raining into your life and through.
To make sure we are not holding back from receiving it or passing it on.
I believe our lives should have grace like rain.

Grace is the defining characteristic of God's amazing character.
Can I encourage you to make it yours as well?

Something to think about...

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Day 49 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Down the List"

Many people tell me that knowledge is the most important thing.
That if they can just learn enough about Jesus, that they will be able to follow Him better.
That if they can just learn enough of the Bible that it will all make more sense.
Knowledge is fantastic.
I am a personal fan. A huge fan!
I mean, there is sometimes nothing worse than hearing someone without knowledge on a subject teaching others.

But knowledge it is not top of my list.
And it isn't even second place.
In fact I think it comes in a distant 3rd...

Here's why...see if you agree?

I think that first and foremost it has to be relationship.
It wouldn't matter if I was the worlds biggest expert about my wife Suze, what she is like, her skills and abilities, history and more, if my relationship with her wasn't right.
I can talk more about her and be more knowledgeable based on my relationship.

Jesus was pretty clear that His relationship with His father came absolutely first.
He said He only did what He saw Him doing.
He valued His time alone with Him.
He was His everything!

Second on my list is character.
Talent can open the door as they say, but character keeps you in the room.

I value character over knowledge anytime! Because without good character no one really cares ultimately about your knowledge.
Character development is something we have to embrace along life's journey. Allowing what God allows us to go through and experience to actually build something of lasting value in us.

Then we obviously come to third on the list, knowledge.
You were probably guessing that is where this would land?

In the famous Love Chapter in Scripture, knowledge is down the list to the key aspect of relationship.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 
1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV

Peter wrote some pretty cool things as well for us to consider along these lines.
One of my favourite passages is this one...

5...make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 
2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV

Knowledge is part of what you need to build into your life, never the goal, never the main priority.

God doesn't use the talented or self described super knowledgable if they have no relationship or have bad character. He would rather use anyone else than them. 
Super challenging I know!

Finally, I think your desire to gain knowledge is awesome. I believe God loves that you want to grow in understanding. But please consider the priority of relationship first and character second, then add as much as you can to that good foundation.

Something to think about...

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Day 48 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Should I Say Anything?"

I am pretty frustrated just like many of you.
You have my sympathy on that front.
We are nearly up to 50 days of #lockdownlife and the complete finish of which, is still very murky.
When will it end?
Should I get incensed?
And then we here in New Zealand have been told NO to having Church Services as we are familiar with, until further notice. Again, no clear idea when we will be given permission by those in leadership over us.

Should I say anything?

Should I get wild? Post on facebook my anti-authoritarian rants?
Should I be a good little citizen and "zip-it" as they say?

I have learned over the years to measure my response to things.
Not always good at it, I still try. To take a breath. To pray a little.
And then and only then do I make a comment. Well that is my plan anyway.

Here are todays thoughts in a few points:

1. Honour those who are over you, honour God more.

Scripture is clear in Romans 13 that we should honour those in authority over us, no matter who they are, no matter their role, religion etc. Paul makes it clear that God himself allowed them to be in that role.
The trick here as a follower of Christ is to know whether or not to comply.
You need to take a breath, pray a little, then plan any or no response.

2. What the enemy meant for evil, God makes for good.

The early Church gets trotted out as the utopia of Christian modelling. People love to talk about their unity, sharing of resources, huge numbers getting saved and all those good things.
Interesting even though it seems to be a wildly successful Church model, God seems to have a next step that I guess they didn't pick at the time. Opposition arose from those over them, the governments, and they were forced to spread out from Jerusalem.
Many have surmised that this was a difficult time. That the debate about this being of God or not abounded. But history tells it was the best thing, the Gospel spreads further and faster.

So where does that leave my thinking on this?
Right now, today, in this moment, I am taking a breath, praying a little (or a lot) and asking God what my response should be.
Could this be a moment to fight?
Or could this be a moment to excitedly ask God to move us into the next exciting phase of the Church?

Something to think about...

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Day 43 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Be Who You Expect"

I have seen lately a whole bunch of people upset by a certain style of living and leadership.
It is where someone tells you how to live, behave etc but doesn't follow their own dictates.
Then to make things worse for those upset, the perpetrator of their hypocrisy explains it away, that the rules simply don't apply to them.
And that makes it worse for the people upset...

I have used a 2 bucket system for all my adult life.
What is this system?
I have 2 imaginary buckets in front of me.
Into one I put all the good things I can learn from others.
Into the other I put all their mistakes, missteps and moments that don't match my expectations.
From there you focus on the first bucket.
Maybe that could help you too?

Anyway, my main thought here today is that you and you alone should decide ultimately how you will live. You need to decide, make the choices, and live with the consequences.
Don't get upset by those hypocrites.
And don't stoop to their level.
You be who you know God would like you to be and that's all!
If you are a leader, be a great one!
If you are a follower, be a great one!
Live up your own expressed expectations.
Do what is right. Keep your conscience clear.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Day 42 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Strangely Excited"

We seem to have entered the phase that many have longed for, and yet are not sure what it really means? The coming out of lockdown phase maybe more slowly than some like, but also coming out none the less...

I have always had a sense that this time meant more to me and the Church I lead than being locked out of a building.
It was a time God has used to allow us to reflect on things, and more importantly plan for the future.
That is something I have spent many many hours doing.
It is also something I would like to encourage you to prayerfully do as well.

I feel safe to advice you to not just look forward to life as normal.
Normal has changed. Shifted. Rearranged itself on itself.
And even though that has happened, I want to encourage you to work out with Him what your post lockdown life and ministry should look like?
Ask Him to show where you need to shift, not just how recognise the world has shifted you.
Ask Him if there is anything you need to change, remove, rebuild, redefine, again not waiting on the world to tell you.

Right now I probably more excited for 2020 than I have ever been this year. Strange when you consider what has transpired.
But that feeling has all come from my foundation of building my thoughts and feelings around where I believe God is leading me.
Maybe this is your moment to do the same as me?
To not wait until it is over and just roll into life. But to purposely seek Him until your future and the vision of it becomes more clear?

Something to think about...