Wednesday, October 24, 2007

There are a few things in my life at the moment that revolve around fire.

I friend of mine recently moved to California to start a new job.
A series of out of control fires have sprung up in that particular part of the world causing lots of damage and even loss of life. I rang him just to make sure he was ok, as he is only 50km from the edge of the disaster area.

A tradition I have grown up with, and have really enjoyed is Guy Fawkes.
It is this crazy event where we have fires (if the council let’s you) and set off fireworks. Apparently it is to commemorate the catching of a guy call Guy Fawkes who tried to blow up the English parliament buildings.

Which obviously got me thinking about fire.

The Bible talks about a day we call Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was first poured out onto the early Christians, In the Book of Acts it says that “tongues of fire came down and rested on them”.
That would have been pretty cool to see!
Jesus even said that God wants to baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire. And that God will test our lives with fire.
Hebrews even says that God is a consuming fire!

There is this strange balancing act in this area.
On one hand we want fire...and on the other we want to put them out.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 says
Do not put out the Spirit's fire

One fire we want and that we don’t want to put out, is what God is doing and wants to do in our lives!
Many people as they get older think they have God all sorted out.
They think God only works in certain ways that they have experienced.
They miss the point that God is ultimately creative and wants to do new things!

The Holy Spirit wants to do new and amazing things through your life.
We need to stay hungry and not grow ‘old’ in our faith thinking.
I personally want the fire of God to be in my life.
To be a christian that we call ‘on fire for God’
I pray the same for you this week!

How about asking God what that means for you???


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Apparently on this date in history a guy with the very strange name of Ignatius of Antioch was martyred.
Apparently he was so eager to be martyred for Christ's sake that he even begged the Roman church not to prevent his death. Before his death, Ignatius wrote to seven churches instructing them to be unified, to trust their leaders, and to be steadfast in the faith.

When I read stories of people being martyred (killed for their faith), it freaks me out. I am one of those people who has a vivid imagination. I think of the situation, imagine being there, imagine the pain and the torment. I am also a person with a very low pain threshold, so the whole thing takes on huge significance in my mind.
When I heard about Ignatius of Antioch this week I thought about it different this time. I wanted to know why he was not concerned about the pain. I wanted to know why he was so keen to die and that it not be delayed.

The Bible says we are aliens in this world, that this world is not our true home. This guy obviously was keen to get ‘home’.Paul in one of his writings in the New Testament even said he was torn between two worlds. He longed to be here on earth and longed to be with God in heaven.
Both these men died living for Jesus.
It seemed to them to be an honour to do so.

In our little corner of the world we don’t face this issue, and to be honest I am really really happy about it!
The point maybe though is not how they died but that they were willing too.
They didn’t see the gift of life as something that belonged to them completely.
They saw this life as something to be given away freely.

What challenges me today is how much am I willing to be like Ignatius or Paul. How much do I want to live for Christ?

Paul also said these immortal words…
Philippians 1:21
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Let us live our lives for the ‘great cause’.
Let us throw off the stuff that hinders us…And let us not be afraid to give what we have in this world to gain something better for the next...

Locky of Howick

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Isn’t it funny how on one hand we say we want something…but we do the opposite???
Most people I meet are really keen to have good friends, to have good relationships that are real and authentic. But we have a tendency nowadays to create lifestyles where that can’t happen for us.
Then we try and fix it by creating virtual worlds where we are supposed to meet.
While they can be is never a good replacement for simply hanging out with someone!

Even today someone recommended I check a new online virtual world where you can meet people.
It even allows you to buy and sell virtual property! Apparently you can even perform virtual concerts…again it is not real.

Now I am not against this type of tool.
I use things like this all the time to communicate with friends around the world. I really appreciate the technology! We even use some of it to help the edge and sphere ministries. It is just that it is such a pale comparison to what ‘real’ contact, what ‘real’ relationships bring to our lives.

The Bible says that we were created for relationship. In fact one of the first recorded things that God did was create people. He said it is not good for us to be alone. He even came and ‘walked with them in the cool of the day’.

God’s ultimate plan for your life is not more independence.
It is not more money or even more power.
It is about having relationship with him and with others.
God doesn’t want to exist for you in some sort of virtual reality.
He wants to exist for you in reality.
His plan is for you to have relationship with other believers, with people you work with and with your friends and family.

Maybe my next comment will seem like I had some agenda...well tough :)
God has created the perfect environment to grow in relationship.
The church gives you the best of all these worlds. Whether it be through the Sunday services, Connect Groups or special is a fantastic to develop your relationship with God and others.
God bless!


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

While flying down an Auckland highway recently I noticed a man sitting in a bus stop.
Now I don’t normally drive around looking at bus stops, but this man drew my gaze even if it was for a fleeting moment.

He sat there head down, staring I guess at his shoes.
Lost in his own thoughts…
He looked like a man deep in thought.

Now I don’t know what he thoughts were or whether he was ok or not…
But I do know that he was definitely thinking…

When you are on your own…
When you think no one is watching...what do you think about?

Many people I know are troubled by the thoughts that run through their minds. They sometimes try and find ways to avoid thinking.
They fill their lives with tonnes of activity or noise or medication just to dull the noise in their heads.
But we don’t have too!
God offers us all a better world to live in.
Not necessarily free from troubling thoughts but with stuff to help us deal with our thought life.

Here is a key in this area:

Philippians 4:8 (niv) says
whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things

Think about the good stuff God has done is your life.
Think about what the Word of God says about you!

God even promises to help us in this area by his Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 1:7 (nkjv) says
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind

So if you are struggling with your thoughts…
Do not panic!
Simply ask God to help and do what his word suggests.
I know it will help you...