Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dude...and I thought things were hard for me!

Some things I have learnt and shared over the years have surprised me.
Like the story I discovered back in 2007 of a guy called Martin Rinkert...more on him in a second.

Most people I have met have had moments when their life felt hard. 
Where they were tempted to give up whatever they originally thought was important, because it didn't seem to be going well or as well as planned. 
Everything from jobs, to marriages, to the Church they attend, or even Churches they have lead!

And then I discovered this story about Mr Rinkert.
He must have understood what 'hard' meant!

Martin Rinkert lived in the town of Eilenburg in Germany 350 years ago. 
The son of a poor coppersmith, he became a minister of his local parish in 1617. 
Just one year later, in 1618, the Thirty-Year War broke out and Eilenburg was caught right in the middle of it. In 1637, the plague that swept across the continent hit Eilenburg and it is recorded that over 50 people died each day. 

The man called upon to bury most of the corpses was Martin Rinkert. 
In all, over 8,000 people died, including Martin’s own wife, but his job was to keep on digging graves. His ministry spanned 32 years and all but the first and the last were overwhelmed by the great conflict that engulfed his town. 

It must have been tough for Martin Rinkert to be thankful in the middle of all this true hardship! 
But somehow he was…and he even managed to write this hymn?

Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom his world rejoices.

Now after reading that you must have some questions surely...

Was there something wrong with him and he liked misery?
Maybe there was someone forcing him to stay the course?
How did he keep going year after year?

In the middle of what we find 'hard' we need to find 'Him' just like Martin did.

Otherwise the 'hard' will drive us away.
And learning about Martin makes my troubles while important, seem a little less significant.

If you are facing something 'hard' right now, these words might help...
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17 niv

Something to think about...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Taking it captive...but to where?

When you take someone captive, you don't generally hold them captive where you found them.
A bank robber caught in the act is not held by security in the bank.
A murderer is not captured by police and left at the scene.
In every case, the perpetrator is taken away to someone else.

Only then is the criminal dealt with more appropriately and completely.

You can apply this principle to our thoughts..."...we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" 2 Corinthians 10:5b niv

I think the ba
ttle is harder if we hold the thought captive in the place where it occurs, or the circumstances in which we are facing.
Many of us when faced with this battle, use the 'tentative captive and distract model'. Where we come against the thought in Jesus name and then try and do something to take our minds off of it. 
The problem with this is that our minds travel where we go. 
Scripture encourages us to not just capture the thought but then to take it somewhere else.
Otherwise you are simply holding it in place, and it will wait to come at you again...

When you take a thought captive, I think you should go all the way!
Take the captive thought to where it can be dealt with properly.
Bank robbers and murderers appear before a Judge. 
The judge pronounces sentence and sends the robber to Jail. 
So to with our thoughts. We should take them to Christ.
Let him pronounce sentence on them.
Because He has the power to help where we are far too weak.

Other Bible translations when read together paint an even broader vision of how this works.
"We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ" nlt
"bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" nkjv

Teaching your thoughts, making them obedient to Christ? How do you do that?
His Word is the foundation of the teaching we should follow.
I have found that the more I immerse my life in the Word, the more I am able to battle my thoughts.
The Word actually casts sentence on my thoughts, when I bring my thoughts before the Word.
I preach at my thoughts even more than I preach to others...

Some things to think about... 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Stay the course

Today I planned a ride as I prepare for my next cycle race.
I worked out my route along with all the nutrition I would need. All was going really well until a bee flew inside my cycle top and stung me on my back while looking for an escape route.
Even though it stung, literally, I had to stay the course to get back home. To complete the training goal.

Think of those guys who were involved in the moon landings in the late 60's.
There was a course plotted out for them before they even signed up to fly. If they followed the course they would complete the mission. Even when Apollo 13 struck difficulty, they were only able to get home in part, because they continued on the same course, as difficult as it was.

In the last week we have had the awful news that an Airliner with over 200 people has gone missing.
Missing in part because it strayed for whatever reason from the course set for it.
Because of whatever reason for the course change, millions sit in uncomfortable anticipation.
Families wait unbearably. Millions are being spent trying to track them down.

When the Apostle Paul was talking to Timothy near the end of his life, he said to him that he was satisfied because he had run his race, stayed the course and was ready to claim his prize.
I strikes me that Paul mentioned this. Partly because there is a hint here that he could have changed course at some stage. Why else would he mention it?
His satisfaction was in the knowing that even though he could have, he didn't, and now he gets to go home.

If I was going to pick on my generation…well I'm going to…
It is this trait many seem unable to carry. Staying the course. Finishing what they start.
In a message recently I retold how grateful I am to my Mum for making me stick at things like learning musical instruments. It ingrained in me a character trait that will hold me well the rest of my life.
Instead of giving in or giving up I stay the course no matter what.
I do whatever God tells me to do until God tells me otherwise or directs me elsewhere.
I stay the course even when it seems impossible and at times painful and uncomfortable.
Doesn't scripture tell us we ultimately win if we persevere?

One of my favourite Psalms is 119.
Not because it is long, but because there is so much I can learn and apply in it.
Amazingly the first lines relate well to this simple thought…

You’re blessed when you stay on course,
    walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow his directions,
    doing your best to find him.
That’s right—you don’t go off on your own;
    you walk straight along the road he set.
You, God, prescribed the right way to live;
    now you expect us to live it.

The Message Version

I once heard a speaker, who just happened to be a commercial pilot, say the best way to navigate a storm is to actually go through it. Staying on course gets you to your destination.

Let's be people who stay the course...

Something to think about...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Just how creative can He be?

I have been thinking through this whole Hearing God thing more today…and I am truly amazed about how creative He can be! From what I see, the last thing God wants to be is boring in our relationship…

Here are some examples from scripture, my life, and others I have heard:

  • He spoke to Mary via one of the most famous Angels in scripture.
  • Sitting listening to a group of pastors talking what it means to be part of Elim, God spoke to me more on the vision for our Church.
  • Daniel had an Angel turn up it seemed late with a message, delayed because he had to fight the forces of evil to get there. God was determined to get His message through even it caused a war.
  • Someone had a prophetic word for me about leading a Church at a time when I never dreamed of doing something even like that.
  • Joseph has a series of dreams that changed everything from a 'normal life' and were all about the plan God had for his life…bigger than he could ever hope dream or imagine.
  • Sitting with a group recently God spoke through everyone to someone who needed it, through what they had read, experienced and learnt that related to the situation.
  • Paul had someone in a meeting get up all of a sudden and tie him up as part of a prophetic message from God.
  • I had a dream when I first become a youth leader that helped me to take the role even more seriously.
  • Gideon asked God to do weird stuff with dew and a sheep skin and God confirmed His conversation with Gideon by doing what he asked.
  • I loved reading a story recently of a pastor hearing God say that a building would be theirs, and before that was a reality they cleaned it up as though it had already happened. God's word came true and they got the building!
  • God spoke to me through a man at my baptism about who I would become.
  • Reading through 1 Corinthians for the first time after deciding to follow Jesus, God spoke to me clearly to cut all my hair.
  • Listening to a podcast on my way from Tauranga to home last week, God spoke and helped shape my thinking about something very important for my future as a leader.
  • Someone had a donkey he was riding open its mouth and speak! 

My friend…you need to understand that God would dearly love to speak to you and for you to hear.
Let's be like that guy mentioned in scripture who was watching and waiting daily for God to share something.

As you expect Him to speak, working on your relationship with Him and chilling out over it (from Sundays teaching) may you get to experience how creative God can be with you.
My hope and prayer for you is that you find what works all the while never ever boxing God in.
Let the God of all creation and creative ability communicate with you…it can only be good!

Something to think about...

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

I don't think you will ever want to leave...

Sometimes when you get somewhere, you find you don't want to leave...
I experienced that again recently with the cool change in the weather, I found myself staying far too long in the shower. Once I had experienced how warm it was, I found that I just didn't want to leave.
What eventually drove me from my sanctuary was actually the fear of how much electricity I was using!

And life with Christ is kind of like that as well.
Once you truly meet Him and build some relationship with Him, you find you don't want to leave.
Once you have spent some time in the presence of God, you find you don't want to leave.
Once you have experienced the goodness of God, it is pretty hard going back.

There was a lot about this faith that scared me, bothered me, and all sorts of 'othered' me, before I found out what it was a bit more like.
When I first saw people worshipping God with arms in the air, singing out loud, sometimes doing wiggly moves they called dancing...I wasn't sure that was where I wanted to go.
When I heard about this thing called 'the presence' I didn't know if that was crazy or only something for the so called 'special people',
And why would God want to bless me anyway after all I had done and even said about Him?

And yet when I tried to worship, when I sought to find out about 'the presence', when I began to accept God wanted to bless this crazy all made more sense...and I didn't want to leave!

Ask yourself why Moses was able to stay on a mountain for 40 days and nights essentially on his own?
How come he spent so much time in a special tent God gave him a design for?
Because once he found out what it was like, he found he wasn't so panicked to leave!

1 Peter 2:3 makes this little statement packed with meaning...
"now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."
It assumes that you hadn't before and that now you have, and in doing so you have found all how good it is. 

When I was first offered a curry I wasn't too excited. 
My expectation was that it was going hurt twice. Going in and coming out. 
I was pleased to report it was better than I imagined it would be and now I loooove curry.

Can I encourage you to taste a bit more of God and His Kingdom?
Worship Him even if it seems a little strange at first.
Spend time going after the very presence of God even it seems a little 'out there'.
Because when you do, and you truly find out what it is like...I don't think you will ever want to leave.

Something to think about....