Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Why do I give #6

I want a great heart

Show me what you, I, a Church, a City or even a Nation does with its money...and I will show what it truly cares about.
It reveals the heart. It shows what truly means the most...

I have discovered that few things reveal our hearts other than money.
When we don't don't have enough it hurts our heart.
When we have plenty there is potentially less stress on our heart.
Where and how I use the money I have, reveals my hearts motivation.
A generous person or a stingy person are both recognised by their decisions on how they use the money they have.

I wonder just how much God uses money to reveal to Him and us the true condition of our hearts?

Jesus shared these important words...

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21 niv

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Matthew 6:24 niv

If you took 5 minutes right now to review how and where you spend, what would it tell you about you?
Where is your treasure truly kept?
Do you need to make some changes?

As for me, I want a great heart.
And as part of that desire, I choose to keep looking to how God would like me handle what He has blessed us with.

Something to think about...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Wagging Tails

When I was young we had the privilege of having lambs to rear by hand. They were orphans or lambs not bonding well with their mother.
So at this time of year here we were, multiple times a day making up milk bottles, nice and warm, and then feeding these cute little creatures...

I can still picture those lambs that were small and weak when they came to live with us.
I can also remember the way they grew and came to enjoy these feed times, their tails wagging furiously with every impassionaied gulp of the bottles we held for them.

How does this tie in with our faith?

I felt God remind me that we are all maybe like this relationship...
Either we are the lamb desperate for support and through that support being grown and strengthened.
While others of us are like the bottle preparer, bottle holder, having the joy of watching someone grow through our efforts.

Isn't this what our faith is supposed to be like?
Disciples making disciples?
Either we are are being discipled or we should be discipling someone else?

And I guess that is the underlying challenge with this thought today...
Which one are you?
Because I truly think you need to be one of the two.
I struggle to see a third option.
Because the only third option I can come up with is as a spectator, watching others grow, watching others help others to grow.

Before the end of today can I encourage you decide which one you need to be in this season?

Something to think about...

image copyright bbc.co.uk

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Love this Quote...gets you thinking!

"Christianity began in Galilee
as a fellowship of men and women
centred on Jesus Christ.
It went to Greece and became a philosophy.
It went to Rome and became an institution.
It went to Europe and became a culture.
It came to America and became an enterprise.
We need to get back to our roots."

Richard Halverson, former chaplain to the US Senate

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Why do I give? #5

I want a harvest

If you are a little cynical about some of the claims from preachers around the idea of "harvest", trust me, I totally understand...I am the first to admit that maybe some have taken the concept on a pendulum swing too far?
But, and I mean a big BUT...
Please don't throw away the spiritual principal based on a potentially misguided emphasis!

Scripture is actually pretty clear about how life works.
It reminds us that there are seasons.
It reminds us that there is a time to sow and a time to harvest.
And for me I find this easy to picture because of my childhood...

I grow up on a farm that included growing grain and seed crops.
Each year my Dad and uncle would pick a certain time of year to sow what they wanted to harvest more of at a certain date.
It was very calculated. Well planned. Our livelihoods depended on the process.

I can still picture going out in the fields after the seed and was sown and struck by nothing. That's right, there was just dirt and the tire tracks from where the machinery had been.
It wasn't until later you got a glimpse of a potential harvest when the shoots finally emerged.

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
2 Corinthians 9:10 niv

God wants you to have a harvest.
To get that harvest He supplies you with seed.
In your hands is the seed right now for your future harvest.
And you sow in faith, not expecting a harvest the next day, but at a time God blesses you with.
As seed is hidden for a time, so is the growth of the spiritual and material harvest you will receive.

Let us not become weary in doing good, 
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9 niv

I unashamedly sow for a harvest!
Yes I give to God for many other reasons, especially my love for Him.
But I would be naive to think I could ever reap a harvest without first choosing to sow...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Why do I give? #4

I don't want to muzzle

I give because I want the Church to do well.
Unashamedly I really want the Bride of Christ to be looked after, blessed, well taken care off.
In fact I think it is part of my responsibilities as a follower of Jesus.

Jesus is coming back for His bride and I want her to be as glorious as possible on her wedding day.
I recognised a long time ago that my giving helps play a part in making sure the Church is not muzzled, restricted, even destroyed. My small part I pay helps a bride be prepared for its groom.
Please know I am speaking as a member of Christs body not just as a Pastor looking to placate some agenda.

When we withhold in the gracious gift of giving, we actually restrict what God can do through others.
I know some have been burned by leadership mistakes, but I can not in good conscience settle for that as an excuse to remove my giving from the equation.

Have you ever bought a coffee and it wasn't that good?
And based on that bad experience did you decide to never buy a coffee again?
Did you declare loudly and proudly that it is your civic, neigh moral duty even to make others aren't burned as you have been?
Maybe a silly analogy, but a similar story to what I have heard as a leader.

For Scripture says, "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages."
1 Timothy 5:18 niv

I in no way want to muzzle and restrict those whose role it is to serve us in leadership and preaching, so I give a portion to play my part.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
    when it is in your power to act.
Proverbs 3:27 niv

Something to think about...

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Why do I give? #3

I want to honour

I think that this word 'honour' gets used by you and me without possibly thinking about its meaning...and it has a pretty cool meaning!
It is used as both a noun and verb.
It is both the naming of something or someone to honour them and also the act of honouring them.

I have learnt that I can honour God with the 'fruit of my lips' and 'what lines my pockets'...

Scripture shows every generation of God's people doing both.
They honoured God by what they said of Him and their faith in Him.
They honoured Him with their actions, especially in the act of giving financially.
It is 'normal' for God's people to give a portion of what they have received back to Him as soon as physically possible.

Honour the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
Proverbs 3:9 niv

You might be thinking this sounds kind of weird...
What does God care about what I do with the money I have?
Very few things show what you truly honour, except what we say and how we spend. In fact scripture tells us that God gets a real clear picture of how much we truly honour Him by how we handle our finances, whether we are giving or not, the level of our generosity.

Maybe this will help?
The writer of this proverb finishes his sentence this way...

then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.
Proverbs 3:10 niv

When we honour God the pattern seems to be that He then honours us even more.
I choose to honour God with what I give, not because I am after blessing, but it is a pretty cool byproduct for me!

Something to think about...

Friday, August 25, 2017

Why do I give? #2

I want to bless

One of the biggest thrills I have in my life is being able to bless someone else! I am serious about that.
I actually get frustrated when I can't bless as much as I feel I want to...

One day Suze and I felt lead to give a family a car.
We had 2 and because they didn't have one, it just seemed to make sense.
So I got up early one Saturday morning and cleaned our station wagon better than I had ever done before. Scrubbed it, polished it - made it smell fresh as a flower!
Then headed to the Post Office to get the change of ownership papers before we drove it around to the new owners.
I will never forget the looks on their faces when I simply handed them the keys and said "this is for you!"
What they wouldn't have understood is I was just as excited, if not more...

I want to be a blessing.
I think it is awesome to give to God especially financially.
Being able to give to Him is something I love to do. I want to bless Him. I want my giving to bless God's people.
I consider it an extreme honour to be part of the blessing process...

2 “I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”
Genesis 12:2-3 niv

God made this promise of a divine and exciting process to Abraham, and I believe it also applies to us today.
Our lives can be an ongoing source of blessing.
I hope you can discover the reality of this for yourself as well?

Something to think about...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Why do I give? #1

I have been thinking about why I give, especially in light of many around me questioning why you would even bother.
Many weeks at Churches around the globe there is that 'moment'. That moment where someone encourages, convinces, cajoles even sometimes, those in attendance to give something financially.

Please, before you write me off and stop reading because you really feel uncomfortable with this topic, why not take a moment to check out my personal thoughts on this?
What I am going to share is me. What I think. Why I give and even continue to give.

I want to contribute

My very first Sunday morning experience in August 1991 is where I heard about a way I could be part of what God was doing at the Church I started attending.
Now I had only been there 7 days, with my first experience being the Sunday night before.
The Pastor does something called an 'offering talk', and I can still remember thinking "how does this even work?", that it all sounded a bit strange and foreign to me.
At the same time I remember thinking that I wanted to be part of what was going on.
That if it took some of the resources I had, then why not.
I should at least give it a try and see what happens...

Jesus had radically changed my life after watching a video and then with my responding by giving my heart to him in the shower.
I was passionately trying to find my way.
And in my passion and maybe arguably naivety I went with what someone over me in Christ suggested.
I wanted to contribute.
Because I didn't have enough experience yet, I couldn't offer to worship lead, preach, even help on the door. What I did recognise quickly is that I could contribute to the work of God at that Church with some dollars.

I started contributing that way August 27th 1991, and I can honestly and proudly say I have counted it an honour to continue doing to this day!
I want to contribute to what God is wanting to do.
I want to play my part with what I can, to ultimately see the Churches needs met.
I want to make sure that I do what I can, in part to at least give something back to God for what He has so graciously done for me.

“Since the people began to bring their contributions to the temple of the Lord, we have had enough to eat and plenty to spare, because the Lord has blessed his people, and this great amount is left over.”
2 Chronicles 31:10 niv

What a great picture of the way it should work...
When Gods people all contribute, there is always more than enough, there are leftovers, and all of Gods people feel blessed!

Something to think about...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Thanks from me :)

Hi everybody...
Recently I took the time to have a look through the stats of my little blog page.
Was blown away that so many from all corners of the globe have take the time to visit and have a read! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

I am from New Zealand, and yet the majority of my readers come from other parts of the world. Turkmenistan, France, Portugal to name a few of the amazing places I have never been, yet you have visited me.

Thanks again for the honour of sharing with you.
I truly hope what I share helps in some big or even small way...

If you ever have any questions, comments or topic requests, I would love to hear from you!
Simply email me at locky@elim.org.nz

Thursday, August 10, 2017

What is God saying today? Part 7

What is God saying today?
I have been reading the Book of Revelation and struck again how God specifically and passionately spoke to each of the 7 Churches mentioned.
And I felt challenged to break each message down and see how that relates potentially to each of us today.
The writer regularly used the phrase "anyone with ears...listen to the Spirit..."
Let's see what the Spirit is saying to each of us today...

Revelation 3:14-22 niv - Message to the Church in Laodicea
14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Have you heard of the phrase "sitting on the fence"?
Well that phrase pretty much applies here for God.
He just isn't a fan of it!
For God, He is all about knowing whether you are in or out, and simply going with that.
Of course He wants you to be in, He sent His son so you can be in.
But flip flopping with your faith is not so cool to Him.

Hot people are characterised by their absolute passion for God.
They are willing to do whatever it takes to follow Him. Giving up things, sacrificing their time, seeing their lives as no longer their own but as lives of worship for their father in heaven.
Be passionate about your faith my friend, no matter what the cost!

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Maybe today you realise after reading this that God has been knocking and trying to get your attention?
The gentlemen that He is means He is waiting patiently for you to invite Him in.
The pay off is that when you do, you never loose! It will be an adventure and ups and downs, but more ups than downs. Letting God in will mean you will grow up in every way possible.
Open the door today and let Him in again or for the first time in your life...

What is God saying to you today?
Be encouraged, be challenged, be listening...

Why this little series...?
I have for a long time believed that God speaks to everyone.
Since the beginning of history there are account after account of people hearing God speak to them. From Adam through Moses and then to today. Spoke has spoken and continues to speak.
(Apart from when He promised to be quiet for 400 years - and kept His promise.)

Scripture tells us that God gave us each ears, not just to hear naturally with, but also to hear supernaturally with!
Scripture shows us as well that God can speak audibly, through angels and others, circumstances and His Word. He has a lot of communication tools in His toolbox...

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

What is God saying today? Part 6

What is God saying today?
I have been reading the Book of Revelation and struck again how God specifically and passionately spoke to each of the 7 Churches mentioned.
And I felt challenged to break each message down and see how that relates potentially to each of us today.
The writer regularly used the phrase "anyone with ears...listen to the Spirit..."
Let's see what the Spirit is saying to each of us today...

Revelation 3:7-13 niv - Message to the Church in Philadelphia
7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

I am reminded that God tells us that He has a plan for each of our lives...
Maybe you wonder if that plan is open to others manipulation or even prevention?
Maybe you think it is danger from some outside force ripping you off?
The answer I believe to that fear is this - NO!
God has His way, and if we want it, it is a done deal!
Nothing on heaven or earth can stop you entering into all that you can have and be in Him...if you stay faithful to the course He has for you.

11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. 13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

You and I need to stake our position in Christ and be immovable.
Scripture also reminds us that we are not those who shrink back, that is something God is not a fan of. We are people who stand firm in our faith.
We take our stand graciously and yet firmly on the rock that is Jesus.

My friend, in your walking by faith and fighting the good fight, stand your ground.
Don't give up on your hope or on your integrity.
Wait to see His salvation completely revealed in your life...

What is God saying to you today?
Be encouraged, be challenged, be listening...

Why this little series...?
I have for a long time believed that God speaks to everyone.
Since the beginning of history there are account after account of people hearing God speak to them. From Adam through Moses and then to today. Spoke has spoken and continues to speak.
(Apart from when He promised to be quiet for 400 years - and kept His promise.)

Scripture tells us that God gave us each ears, not just to hear naturally with, but also to hear supernaturally with!
Scripture shows us as well that God can speak audibly, through angels and others, circumstances and His Word. He has a lot of communication tools in His toolbox...

Sunday, August 06, 2017

What is God saying today? Part 5

What is God saying today?
I have been reading the Book of Revelation and struck again how God specifically and passionately spoke to each of the 7 Churches mentioned.
And I felt challenged to break each message down and see how that relates potentially to each of us today.
The writer regularly used the phrase "anyone with ears...listen to the Spirit..."
Let's see what the Spirit is saying to each of us today...

Revelation 3:1-6 niv - Message to the Church in Sardis
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Reputation - funny how we value it many times and it maybe is not even the reality of someones life?
If you spend all your time trying to cultivate a reputation that doesn't match what God sees of your life, well that is pointless.
Before it gets too late sort it out. Come back to your first love.
Has God asked you do something? - complete it.
I bet you already have some idea what God wants from you. Just have the faith and courage to see it through.

Many years a go I used to hear a phrase preached...
Have an "ongoing short account with God".
No one graduates from repentance! No-one! Not me as a Pastor or anyone else I know.
Because I have sinful nature and a flesh that rages against my desire to honour God, many times I come up short of what is right.
Everyday I ask God to forgive me. I try and keep my account short.
God honours humility and contrition.

4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. 6 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

What is all this talk about clothes, dirty clothes, white clothes?...
In the 2000 years since this was first written for us, some things have not changed. You can tell a lot about someone by their clothing.
The clothing spoken of here is spiritual.
Dirty clothes indicates a life lived with sin struggles and where the person has given in to that struggle.

We get to choose the clothing of our soul. Clean or Dirty?

White clothes indicates a life lived where the person has exchanged this own unrighteousness for Christ's righteousness. They have chosen to live for Him. They don't want to satisfy their own sinful nature.
Victory over whatever personal struggle we may have is only possible by living for Christ and Him alone!

What is God saying to you today?
Be encouraged, be challenged, be listening...

Why this little series...?
I have for a long time believed that God speaks to everyone.
Since the beginning of history there are account after account of people hearing God speak to them. From Adam through Moses and then to today. Spoke has spoken and continues to speak.
(Apart from when He promised to be quiet for 400 years - and kept His promise.)

Scripture tells us that God gave us each ears, not just to hear naturally with, but also to hear supernaturally with!
Scripture shows us as well that God can speak audibly, through angels and others, circumstances and His Word. He has a lot of communication tools in His toolbox...

Thursday, August 03, 2017

I podcast as well...

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

What is God saying today? Part 4

What is God saying today?
I have been reading the Book of Revelation and struck again how God specifically and passionately spoke to each of the 7 Churches mentioned.
And I felt challenged to break each message down and see how that relates potentially to each of us today.
The writer regularly used the phrase "anyone with ears...listen to the Spirit..."
Let's see what the Spirit is saying to each of us today...

Revelation 2:18-28 niv - Message to the Church in Thyatira
18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

I think it is awesome that God notices what I attempt to do for Him!
Even if no one else notices, acknowledges or even thanks me for my service to the Kingdom of God, God is happy with what I bring.

20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

Why bring up this lady called Jezebel?
This lady featured during the time of the Kings, specifically after Israel and Judah became two kingdoms. She was a very strong and forceful character married to an easily lead King called Ahab.
Her claim to infamy was her willingness to destroy others for personal gain, her lack of morals, and her manipulation of others lives.
She wanted the good bits of being part of Israel, her position and the benefits there of. But she didn't want God interfering. Didn't think He was needed.
For me the warning is to make sure I am not like her in any way.
That I don't allow others to lead me who are like her.
That I do what I can make sure that her spirit of intimidation and manipulation isn't part of my family of faith.
Those things I will never tolerate!

24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25 except to hold on to what you have until I come.’

I think many of us are looking for secrets.
Like 'what is the hidden meaning of this or that' in scripture...
I believe that when Jesus encouraged us to have a child like faith, that He meant it about His Word as well. To simply take it as it is. To live it out as it is.
Many struggle to live out the most basic tenants of our faith - why look to complicate things?

When someone tells me they haven't just had a personal revelation, but that God is showing them and them alone a secret truth that has been hidden until now - I run!

26 To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star. 29 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

What is God saying to you today?
Be encouraged, be challenged, be listening...

Why this little series...?
I have for a long time believed that God speaks to everyone.
Since the beginning of history there are account after account of people hearing God speak to them. From Adam through Moses and then to today. Spoke has spoken and continues to speak.
(Apart from when He promised to be quiet for 400 years - and kept His promise.)

Scripture tells us that God gave us each ears, not just to hear naturally with, but also to hear supernaturally with!
Scripture shows us as well that God can speak audibly, through angels and others, circumstances and His Word. He has a lot of communication tools in His toolbox...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

What is God saying today? Part 3

What is God saying today?
I have been reading the Book of Revelation and struck again how God specifically and passionately spoke to each of the 7 Churches mentioned.
And I felt challenged to break each message down and see how that relates potentially to each of us today.
The writer regularly used the phrase "anyone with ears...listen to the Spirit..."
Let's see what the Spirit is saying to each of us today...

Revelation 2:12-17 niv - Message to the Church in Pergamum
12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13 I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.

You may feel like you a living and/or operating in the middle of the most ridiculous of place?
Maybe you are in a job where the management isn't that ethical?
Maybe your family doesn't behave well?
Or maybe you have a lot of friends who have questionable morals compared to how you would like to behave.
Because you are salt and light to where you are, you can stay strong in the middle of whatever you are facing and wherever God has place you. Stay strong my friend.

Tradition has it that a man named Antipas lived in this pretty wicked place but went around doing good, even healing those under demonic oppression.
He lived his life faithfully in service to God and others.

14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

This reminds of something...just as back then, it appears to be so even more now.
This whole trying to 'entice away' vibe that is so prevalent. All around you right now is a lot temptation, especially sexual in nature.
The enemy knows that if he can tempt you away in a sexual area of some sort, that he can put a wedge between you and God.
The antidote to all this is to always consider the Word of God.
How does God want you to behave? What is healthy sexuality?

Be careful Christian what you watch and entertain yourself with. It gets into your thoughts and your spirit. It can lower your resolve and your values. And nothing is worth throwing away your faith over.

17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

What is God saying to you today?
Be encouraged, be challenged, be listening...

Why this little series...?
I have for a long time believed that God speaks to everyone.
Since the beginning of history there are account after account of people hearing God speak to them. From Adam through Moses and then to today. Spoke has spoken and continues to speak.
(Apart from when He promised to be quiet for 400 years - and kept His promise.)

Scripture tells us that God gave us each ears, not just to hear naturally with, but also to hear supernaturally with!
Scripture shows us as well that God can speak audibly, through angels and others, circumstances and His Word. He has a lot of communication tools in His toolbox...

Friday, July 28, 2017

What is God saying today? Part 2

What is God saying today?
A little bit of a dangerous question to pose, especially as it hints that I might have some idea...

I have been reading the Book of Revelation and struck again how God specifically and passionately spoke to each of the 7 Churches mentioned.
And I felt challenged to break each message down and see how that relates potentially to each of us today.
The writer regularly used the phrase "anyone with ears...listen to the Spirit..."
Let's see what the Spirit is saying to each of us today...

Revelation 2:9-11 niv - Message to the Church in Smyrna
9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 

Jesus had regular groups of people ready to be offended, ready to pose questions to incite a reaction, ready, waiting and hoping to see Him to fail. And when He didn't, they made stuff up about Him.

Part of following Jesus is sometime having muppets try and steal your joy. They will critique and criticise you, even thinking they are doing it for God.
Don't worry about them.
Stay focused on God and what He has for you...
God wants us to know He sees, He notices, He is always mindful of the struggles many of us are facing in life.

Maybe you have a health complaint you can't shake or you always seem to struggle a bit financially, well again, God is fully aware.
And in this short sentence He tells us that even with what we lack we are rich.

Scripture reminds us that we actually have all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
Live out of that richness and let Him sort out everything else...

10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.

Modern Christanity struggles with reconciling suffering for your faith.
Sorry my friend but suffering is part of the call. Suffering actually is a friend to your faith.
It will develop your character.
It will cause you to keep hanging onto Jesus with everything you have. Just like Paul had his 'thorn', you and I will have one to. Better to be ready for it than surprised I guess...

Scripture tells us that it must finish its work...wow...so you will be complete and not lacking anything...even bigger WOW.
The even bigger payoff for you and me is that if we stay faithful to Christ and journey God has for us, not only will He get us through, but there is always a reward.
I like rewards!
If you quit part way through you will never discover what God wanted to reward you with...

Hang in there my friend whatever you are facing.
You can guarantee others are going through it with you.
God is faithful to help you complete the race marked out for you!

What is God saying to you today?
Be encouraged, be challenged, be listening...

Why this little series...?
I have for a long time believed that God speaks to everyone.
Since the beginning of history there are account after account of people hearing God speak to them. From Adam through Moses and then to today. Spoke has spoken and continues to speak.
(Apart from when He promised to be quiet for 400 years - and kept His promise.)

Scripture tells us that God gave us each ears, not just to hear naturally with, but also to hear supernaturally with!
Scripture shows us as well that God can speak audibly, through angels and others, circumstances and His Word. He has a lot of communication tools in His toolbox...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

What is God saying today? Part 1

I have for a long time believed that God speaks to everyone.
Since the beginning of history there are account after account of people hearing God speak to them. From Adam through Moses and then to today. Spoke has spoken and continues to speak.
(Apart from when He promised to be quiet for 400 years - and kept His promise.)

Scripture tells us that God gave us each ears, not just to hear naturally with, but also to hear supernaturally with!
Scripture shows us as well that God can speak audibly, through angels and others, circumstances and His Word. He has a lot of communication tools in His toolbox...

What is God saying today?
A little bit of a dangerous question to pose, especially as it hints that I might have some idea...

I have been reading the Book of Revelation and struck again how God specifically and passionately spoke to each of the 7 Churches mentioned.
And I felt challenged to break each message down and see how that relates potentially to each of us today.
The writer regularly used the phrase "anyone with ears...listen to the Spirit..."
Let's see what the Spirit is saying to each of us today...

Revelation 2:2-6 niv - Message to the Church in Ephesus
2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

God knows all about your life. What you do. Why you do.
He knows what you struggle with as well as the effort you put into following Him.
These few sentences will either encourage or challenge you. Both are a good thing.

Today if you are struggling please know God is noticing and He cares!

While you pursue Christ, be mindful of who you have lead you.
Go after 'godly' leaders not just people who say they are leaders.

4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

No matter how focused we are on being good or hardworking or whatever it is...nothing should ever trump our relationship with Jesus.
If you have stepped back from it in some way come back.
If you need to focus on it because it isn't where it should be, then do that.

God wants a relationship with you over everything else.
He is passionate about that, hence His language around this idea.

One of the worst things I think that can happen to any Christian is to become a professional Christian.
Where you think you have risen up through some experience ranks you don't still do the most basic things of your faith.
For me being a pastor is a dangerous place. I can make my relationship my profession...yuck!
I need to do what I did with Him before I got to this role!
I will never graduate from my own personal devotion time!

From what I can gather, the Nicolaitans had ideas about faith that didn't match God's expectations.
They mixed the things of this world with faith to suit a model they would like, especially around sexuality.
I think God is warning us to come back to our first love and watch we don't mix the world into our faith. You and I are the salt and light.

What is God saying to you today?
Be encouraged, be challenged, be listening...



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sceptre

What does Grace and an extended Sceptre have in common? Everything!

For many of us, when we know in our hearts we have done something silly, we don't feel we can approach God.
I have watched this in my own life at times. Thinking I need to prove my repentance with counter action. If I can show God just sorry I am, then and only then will He approve of me again...

I was thinking about this recently and remembered the account in scripture of a young lady.
She needed to approach the king and doing so, it could cost her very life. She understood from the handed down customs and expectations, that if the king didn't want to see her as she approached, he could actually have her killed.

She prepares her heart by fasting.
Goes to the throne room full of trepidation...

1...Esther dressed in her royal robes and went to the inner court of the palace in front of the throne. The king was sitting there, facing the open doorway. 2 He was happy to see Esther, and he held out the gold scepter to her.
When Esther came up and touched the tip of the scepter, 3 the king said, “Esther, what brings you here? Just ask, and I will give you as much as half of my kingdom.” 
Esther 5:1-3 esv

Esther forgot what we forget.
The Kings heart for us.
When she approached the king she was so focused on culture, the rules, hers and others expectations, that she missed the fact the kings heart was always for her and not against her.

All that matters as we approach God is our heart.
It is always about that for Him and should be for us as well.
All you need to do is prepare your heart for a moment, take a deep breath and humbly come to Him.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, 
that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 
Hebrews 4:16 nkjv

Before you even need to come to God, His heart is for you.
God's sceptre of grace is ready and waiting to be extended to you right now!

Something to thing about...

Thursday, July 06, 2017

My summary on 'gracefull'

After studying this whole concept of grace and then sharing on it over 3 weeks, I have come a special place in my faith.
I can truly say that grace has proven itself to be amazing, outstanding and even to a degree, always beyond my comprehension. And that is a good thing!

I thought I had it sussed in my own mind for some time, but God has shown me it is even bigger, more far reaching and more powerful for my life and yours.
That is why scripture talks about growing in grace.
Being lead by grace.
Grace upon grace until you are promoted to glory in heaven.

Grace has work to do that is never finished.
And grace never gets tired of such work.

Every day of your following Jesus is another opportunity for grace to be the star of the show.
You can experience grace for yourself.
You can express grace for others.

None of us are exempt from grace.
And while we are not worthy, yet we still receive.
Grace is the 'charis' - greek for gift, that God generously dishes out each and every day.
Then He invites us to join with Him it dishing it liberally to our sphere of influence.

Can I leave you with 3 key scriptures today regarding grace and you?


Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 niv

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15 niv

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14 niv

Something to think about...

If you would something to listen to, click here for the 1st in the gracefull series...


Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Mouth Rinse

As a kid growing up I had to deal with a lot of mouth rinse...
No not the soap based kind you probably first thought of!

Because of dental issues, I had a number of teeth pulled and then the recommended salty mouth rinse regime ensued for a number of weeks each time.
There was a reason for doing it, it was just not what I wanted to do.

When I read this passage again recently I couldn't help but be reminded of this childhood experience...

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, 
that you may know how you ought to answer each one. 
Colossians 4:6 njkv

I regularly in my role as a Pastor, have to season my mouth.
I want whatever I say, whether encouraging or correcting to be seasoned with grace.
Supposedly being right is one thing...
Delivering in a way that is received is totally another thing all together!

As a husband and parent the same thing applies...

All of us are called to this very thing...to let grace season the words of our mouths.
Let grace slosh around. Rinse it around. Shake your face to and fro until grace has permeated your teeth, your tongue and your lips.
Practically that means for me that I think very carefully before I speak.
Sometimes I rehearse it. Many times I pray fervently about it.
Grace should be the sound that is heard along with the verbs that I perpetuate.

Scripture also reminds us that there is the power of life and death in each of our tongues.
It can be a weapon of destruction or a true minister of grace.
Let's choose to season our speech to one another with grace.
Can I encourage you today to choose to speak life to one another?

Something to think about...

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Fix

Are you one of those people who are good at fixing things?
Or maybe you are one of those people who just wish you had that gift? Don't worry, I'm not asking for you to raise you hand.

Part of our human nature is to normally try to fix things.
Whether it be broken hearts, busted dreams, or damaged relationships.
Either that or we try to fix them by doing the very opposite to avoid the mess...

Coldplay coined these words recently...
"Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you"

Can the words of a song really fix what might need fixing in your life right now? They maybe can help...but I am not convinced they will truly fix it.

I have some good news for you!
You don't have to rely on me or yourself to try and fix what is possibly wrong.
The fix you are maybe looking for starts I believe a little differently...

FIX your THOUGHTS

Our first choice, first action if you like, is to make some choices about what we think about the most.
Fixate on issue or focus on the fixer of our souls?

fix your thoughts on Jesus... Hebrews 3:1

There are many times something seemed impossible to fix, so I do what I can to focus on Christ, because I have no better place to turn.
And many times to help myself I remind myself or dive into His Word, to help guide my thoughts.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds
Deuteronomy 11:18

FIX your EYES

...run with perseverance...fixing our eyes on Jesus...
Hebrews 12:1-2

While you wait for the fix, you have to keep on moving.
And if you keep on moving towards Jesus, with that as your goal, your fix will come, I promise you!

Don't let yourself be distracted or put off. Run after Him.

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Proverbs 4:25



Something to think about...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

He's all about the Grace, 'bout the Grace...

Ok, I am being a little silly with this title, but seriously I think I have needed a revelation of this lately...and maybe this is for you as well?

For nearly 2 years I have been looking at teaching on grace.
Why has it taken me so long?
To be honest, I am not sure, apart from I haven't before now known where to start!

I read these words from an author by the name of Preston Sprinkle recently that helped me...

"Grace isn't a term. It’s not a doctrine. It’s not a buzzword.
It’s not the words of a song, a prayer before meals, a name plastered on our churches.
It’s not leniency or niceness. It’s not something that can be domesticated or completely understood. And it’s something that can never grow old or stale.
Grace is what flows through the veins of Jesus, who heart stubbornly beats for you."

One of the reasons I don't totally understand grace is because it actually doesn't make any sense.
Why is God so graceful to us when we certainly don't deserve it?
Why do we seem to at some point, to put a statute of limitations on grace, even when God doesn't ask us to?
Should grace be more simple, more defined?
I guess grace matches up to God's personality and His way of doing things. Didn't some old prophet say that God's ways and thoughts are higher than ours?

The reality for all of us is that we should never move from a place of grace, for ourselves and for others. When we do we actually move away from who God can be for us and those around us.

Many of the letters in the new testament finished with asking for God to pour His grace on the readers. And one author asked us to add grace to whatever grace we already have received...
May God this week do just that for you?
May you seek His grace and mercy over His judgement?
May grace cover you, lead you, motivate you and bring you closer to your father in heaven...

Something to think about...

Thursday, June 15, 2017

My summary on Divine Direction

We have just completed a 4 week teaching series at our Church inspired by the book Divine Direction by Craig Groeschel!
Thanks Pastor Craig - you are awesome sharing your resources with the world...
And then today I was speaking at a local school and felt to summarise what we have learned together for the kids at their assembly.

So if you are in a place right now looking for some divine direction for your life, maybe these thoughts could help you today?

Do Not Panic!

A man’s heart plans his way, 
but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 NKJV

If you are doing your best to follow Jesus, to live right...you have nothing to worry about.
God has vested interest in helping you make great choices about your future!
You don’t have to have everything all planned out, because He does.
Trust Him to lead you and guide you on that plan, whenever you need a next step...

Trusting God with your life will make it more of an adventure!

Look for what grabs your attention

3They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
4When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:3-4 NIV

• Nehemiah was a Cup Bearer for the leader of the nation where his people were in exile.
• Glorified ‘Suicidal Sommelier’
• His one job is bring the best wine to his boss.
• Make sure it is the right quality. Taste it to make sure it won’t kill his boss (possible to die on the job).

Nehemiah hears this news and for some divine reason it impacts his life like no other news he has heard before. Decides someone has to do something about it and it might as well be him.

I have learnt over the years that God uses things to grab our attention, and some of those things grab our attention in a powerful godly way.

What does Nehemiah know about Wall Building? Seriously what?
God gets people like you to do cool stuff if you want to do cool stuff for him.
It has nothing to do with age, skill, experience...but a willing heart!

Trust the Process

I was thinking about this the other day...
Who I am now is not a random thing, an accident...
Who I am now is based on me trusting the plan that God has for my life.

I can see God taking me on a journey / a divine process to get me to be who I am today and I firmly believe that God wants to do the same for you.
Probably everything you have been through has in some way helped develop you into who you have become. And if you are trusting God with all your life, then with all your life He will lead you through the process to who He dreams you can be in Him.

Be Brave

You might have heard people say they don’t regret what they did during their lives, but actually what they didn’t do?

Don’t let fear stop you from following through on whatever you think God might want you to do right now!
Maybe you like the idea of praying for people and seeing them get healed? Do it - see what God does...
Maybe you have a dream of being a “________”?  Don’t look for all the reasons why you can’t be that person. Trust God will help you be that person.

Looking for more?
Would you like to dig into this some more? 
Here are some options for you :
Check out some of out teaching podcasts
Or feel free to get in contact with us here at Elim

Bless ya heaps!  

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sounds good...what does it mean?


I saw this appear on a few friends social media pages this week and I instinctively clicked 'like'.
I mean it sounds good doesn't it?
But I was also left wondering what it really means for me?
What it means for the person sharing it?
And what it could possibly mean for you reading it just now?

"Let you light shine before others..."

When I read something like this I am intrigued by the words used.
It is telling me a lot with very little.
1. That there is a light coming from my life in some way.
2. That I need to let it out.
3. That it will be seen and has been designed to be seen by others around me.

It then gets me to ask some challenging questions of myself?
- What is the light coming from my life?
- How bright is it?
- Am I happy with what it says about me?
- How would others interpret my light?
- Do I need to change anything?

It is actually not as cryptic as you might think.
Light is exactly translated from a greek word meaning light, emitting light, brightness.

Jesus goes on to say that our light is actually how we behave, what we do, our true self, our true religion. All the real us and the work done by God on our lives, coming out of us naturally and supernaturally.

God doesn't want it hidden.
If God has poured anything good into your life let it out.
- If grace, shine grace.
- If healing, shine healing.
- If forgiveness, shine forgiveness.
- If generosity, shine generosity
- If gifting in some way, shine your giftedness

Get your Jesus loving life in a public place and shine like the Jesus glow worm you should be?
Interesting that I just mentioned glow worm, they operate best in dark places...and you and I can change environments with the light of Christ coming from our lives...now matter how dark they maybe!

Maybe you could be like me today and take a moment to reflect on what my light is saying what I truly believe and who I believe I am in Christ?
I want to shine for Him in the most God honouring way possible!

Something to think about...


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

8 Years

Exactly 8 years a go today our journey of being Pastors of our own Church essentially began.
Armed with more enthusiasm than skill, more passion than a plan, I came to Taupo one Queens Birthday Weekend while my family was in Auckland and led my first Sunday.
I had been part of leading at a Church in Auckland with 1000's of people. Now I had the privilege of stepping out and leading one myself.
30 people turned up that day. 
I didn't care that it wasn't big compared to where I was from, I was just super excited to have God give me a go...

What have I learned?
I have learned so much and yet discovered that I have plenty more to learn.
I probably at a pinch could sum up these last few years pastoring a Church as an 'art'.

Adventure
I have always believed that following Jesus was supposed to be an adventure of sorts.
Yes it means we can have our sins forgiven and yes we can have our consciences cleared. But it was never supposed to begin and end at that moment of decision.
We are each called to a grand adventure of following Him.
It is a walk of faith not a rest in a garden.

Coming to Taupo was an adventure and it truly still is.
While I have an idea of where we are going there are many gaps that only God can orchestrate and fill.
And that to me my friends is actually truly living!

Reality
Beyond my enthusiasm there is also reality.
The reality that while on this grand adventure God has got us on, that life still happens, and not always the way I had planned for myself.

There have been endless highs and lows on this road.
I ask God all the time to invade my reality and with His presence and guidance.
The road may be rocky but it is the road God has put me on.
And I for know I couldn't do a better job than Him planning my lifes journey.

Which leads to the biggest one for me...

Trust
If I have learned anything in these last few years it is this...
Trust is the foundation of any great relationship.
To the level I trust God with my life actually dictates the level I am able to operate in it.

I can honestly say my trust has been trialled, tested and shaken all around.
And I can honestly also say that I will continue to trust in Him.
He is with me.
He is faithful.
He planned my life.
He has made me promises.
So I am left with trust. Not on my own understanding, but I on His perfect will. For me to live is Christ!

Maybe some of my journey speaks to you today?
Following Jesus is an art.
Stay the course my friend. Look for the adventure.

Something to think about...


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The most 'over used' words of our faith #3

I wanted to do a little series of simple thoughts around some of what I have seen as some of the most overused words in our faith today.
What I do want to make clear is I truly believe in each of the words, the concepts they convey, 
and the life change they can bring.
My observation though is that many have become christian catch phrases on the altar of cool. 
And because they have the can lose the power they should have they for each of us.


There is a clip that gets shared around that always makes me cringe a little...
In it a preacher is going for it at his Church.
He isn't coming across very well I don't think. One minute he is telling someone they aren't worth 15 cents and in the next breath telling them how much he loves them.
"I am a big deal" he yells, like he has worked everything out and he is the expert on everything. Yuck! No wonder people get confused over the use and meaning of my next word - Love

Love is in fact pretty cool.
Being "in love" feels pretty unbelievable.
Experiencing love is one of the greatest pleasures we can have.
There is not anyone in this life who doesn't need it and deserve it.
While I am not a 'Beatle' I believe they were right when they penned the phrase "all you need is love".
I would prefer a world filled with real love than filled with most anything else you can come up with.

And I am not talking about love like in the "I love my shoes". I am talking about the true and purest form where it is giving, unselfish and amazing!

The Bible is actually filled with teaching on the topic.
Some would say that God's Word is all about His love for us.

The most common passage at weddings I hear is the 'Love Chapter' in 1 Corinthians 13.
The irony for me is that this famous passage is easily said and harder done. It is easy for many to let the "I love you" roll of the tongue and yet it not be true, which I find a little  disturbing.


Love is not a word with power.
Love's power is from action because of it.

The best examples of love are actually based on action.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His Son"
"True love covers over a multitude of sins"

The challenge I have for myself is that my life reflect love more than my need to declare verbally.
I want my verbs to match my actions.

I am so tired of saying it...I would rather display it.

Let's not prescribe to the type of weirdo love that idiots like that preacher I mentioned portray.
I think you and I can do so much better than that...

Something to think about...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The most 'over used' words of our faith #2

I wanted to do a little series of simple thoughts around some of 
what I have seen as some of the most overused words in our faith today.
What I do want to make clear is I truly believe in each of the words, the concepts they convey, 
and the life change they can bring.
My observation though is that many have become christian catch phrases on the altar of cool. 
And because they have the can lose the power they should have they for each of us.


I have been a huge fan of this word for many many years.
Inspired by stories of the past. Even where my denomination began.
I've read the books, watched the videos and prayed a few prayers.
I am a fan of Revival.

Today I see people talking about it a lot, and I mean a lot!
Apparently revival is breaking out all over the place.
At youth groups, prayer meetings and even Church services...and that gets me excited hearing that...
I mean doesn't revival mean some pretty special things?
God doing the miraculous.
Many getting saved.
Sign and wonders all over the place.
And yet many people reporting revival are talking about a great experience.
"The worship was going off - feels like revival"
"The front was filled with people dancing - looks like revival"

Now I am nervous on sharing my thoughts here because I am all to conscience that I don't know everything that God is doing.
I don't want to say God isn't doing something when He is.
I don't want to blaspheme the Holy Spirit because I think I know more than others.
And I don't want to come across as some modern day Pharisee or religious leader who think they have our faith cornered and fully understood.

When I look at what revival is and all that it implies, this is what I see :

Something happens to your heart.
I get inspired with the stories of events like the Welsh Revival. Where a group of people met together to pray for God to move.
These people didn't plan a nice 90 minute experience where everyone felt comfortable and had their needs met. They prayed and prayed and prayed. Many times all night long - WOW!
Their expectation was God could do it and revival began in their own heart. Never content to wait for someone else to make the move towards revival, they went there first.
One account I heard was one night as they prayed people walking along the roads who didn't even know Jesus were overwhelmed by His love and fall over...some into ditches.

Something happens that can't be explained.
All revivals documented so far have had similar components.
High levels of interest in God and in people meeting together as much as possible.
Mass conversions and miraculous healings.
Huge shift in morality.
A moment doesn't do that. Revival does.

Something happens that changes everything.
If people go home from a revival event the same as they came or are 'back to normal' within hours, I wonder if it truly was revival and not just a great time with God?
Every revival I have researched totally changed things. Bars emptied and people flooded to meetings. Crime dropped. Churches were planted as fast as they could mobilise. Peoples lives became all consumed with what God was doing and nothing else seemed more important.

Here I suppose is my heart in this...
I want to see a new revival happen in my life, my Church, my City and my Country.
I don't want a moment or a day of revival. I want to see God do in my generation something we can only describe as a something God did. I want the awe and wonder of seeing God move.
That is the revival I am praying and hoping for.

Something to think about...


Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Psalm 85:6 niv

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The most 'over used' words in our faith #1

I wanted to do a little series of simple thoughts around some of 
what I have seen as some of the most overused words in our faith today.
What I do want to make clear is I truly believe in each of the words, the concepts they convey, 
and the life change they can bring.
My observation though is that many have become christian catch phrases on the altar of cool. 
And because they have the can lose the power they should have they for each of us.


Let's start with a personal 'favourite' of mine...and I say that a little tongue in cheek.
Being a human means you are predestined to be around others of your kind.
When it is going well it is a truly a rewarding place to be.
When it is not, life can get a little uncomfortable!

The reality is that as humans we are good together and bad sometimes.
We do lots of good for each other and also have the propensity of being able to hurt one another, either on purpose or by mistake.
And that is where this first over used word of our faith gets thrown around.
When hurt has occurred by us or to us...
Forgiveness.

Can I just say this from personal experience?
I love forgiveness. It is the most freeing thing that can ever happen to you!
When I have made mistakes and seek it out, when it is given to me, man what a feeling.
Guilt, burden, disappointment are all gone. It is a freeing word!
The opposite is true. When I withhold forgiveness for whatever reason and whatever length of time, once the period of self justification ends, I am left tapped in my unforgiveness.

Many years a go I had issues with a leader. He lead a group of people away from the Church I was attending.
For many years I couldn't say a good thing about them.
I wasn't doing a campaign against them on social media because the internet had not been invented, but that didn't stop me sharing my self justified opinions of them to whoever asked.
One God tapped me on the should via a prophetic word from a good friend.
Told me I needed to forgive them. I was shocked as they had done the wrong. So armed with that 'word' I drove over 100kms to seek their forgiveness.
They were shocked I would do that.
We had lunch together.
We prayed.
We are all good now.

That is the power of that over used word.
When you don't just talk about or expect it from everyone except yourself.
Forgiveness will change your world. Set you free...

Christians love talking about forgiveness.
But I also see a growing number simply unwilling to go from saying it to doing it.
Please don't just be about giving lip services to this powerful, grace filled word of our faith.

When is too far? When don't I have to forgive?
I can not find a single example where God doesn't ask us to forgive.
He doesn't ask us to be best friends with whoever hurt us, but He does ask us to follow His example and forgive even when it is the hardest to do so.

You didn't deserve God's forgiveness.
And yet He gave it to you through Jesus His son...

Something to think about...



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How should I behave?


I love watching lots of random clips on youtube.
It suits my short attention span and desire for variety I guess?

The other day a particular clip was suggested to me (to be honest I am not sure why) and I clicked to see what the fuss was about.
Very simply a reporter is waiting to do 'his report' on something, we don't actually discover what.
While he composes himself, a lady appears in the camera shot to which you are maybe thinking "who cares, that probably happens a lot". But what happens next I have to admit disturbed me.
And it got me thinking about my life, my faith, and how I choose to behave around others...

This dear lady as she is walking around the reporter and camera man, thinks that is ok to spit and sniff. Now she doesn't do it once she does it again and again. All the while explaining she has a cold and it is apparently not contagious.
Continuing to walk around sniff, spit, sniff spit...
I thought it was gross.
It bothered me that she thought it was ok to behave like this.

Now here was the challenge to me...
How do I behave in front of others? What do I think is acceptable?
In the world we live, there are as many opinions on this as there are options.
To this lady sniff and spit is acceptable behaviour. To others it is not.

You know what? I love how God helps me out on this.
His Word is filled with practical instruction and advice on how I should behave.

1 Peter 2:12 tlb
Be careful how you behave among your unsaved neighbors; for then, even if they are suspicious of you and talk against you, they will end up praising God for your good works when Christ returns.

Philippians 1:27 niv
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ...

I have been reading through 1 and 2 Corinthians recently and it speaks the same.
It is filled with how I should behave.
I find it challenging and I want to live up to the challenge.

In fact Paul summed it up for me when he says this...

2 Corinthians 5:15 niv
and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

How do you want to behave? It is indeed a choice.
Let's all live our lives for Christ in a manner worthy of what He sacrificed for us.
Let's behave how He would love us to behave. Nothing else matters.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

I am a storehouse!

You might think that this is a strange statement to make about myself?
But I firmly believe that this is what God has in part made you and I to be.

This verse has always intrigued me...
“Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” Matthew 13:52 niv

You see for the longest time I was always focused on my faith being about leaving behind and moving forward. Letting go of the old and embracing the new. Forgetting the past and only looking to the future. And those things are right and true. But I believe there is more...

In regards to our sinful and forgiven past - yes we leave that behind.
In regards to what we have discovered about God - don't box Him in, and expect to discover more.

When I read that verse I think God is asking me to be a storehouse.
Someone who keeps and catalogues all I have learned and discovered in God.
Someone who is looking at add to my storehouse of experience and discoveries.
Someone expecting fresh revelation in due course.
And ultimately to be a storehouse that is ready to give out to others.

You see a godly storehouse is not a crypt or a grave for past revelations.
What you have learned was there for you, and then to be a store for others to draw from.
You are a living storehouse that should be continually looking to add to the store of the goodness of God.
The more you have in your store, the more you have to offer.

I think God wants me to be a great disciple who gives out when is needed, from my storehouse life. Sometimes from what I have learned in the past and also what I having revelation about right now...

Something to think about...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Culmination

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 1 Corinthians 10:11 niv

I read this today and it got me thinking about how truly blessed and honoured we are to live in the time that we do!
How it appears from what Paul was telling the Corinthian Church, of the truly privileged position as followers of Jesus we have. Following on from his explanations of what Gods people have been through, Paul wanted to encourage the Church with their current position...

We live in a time where we can learn from God's people - the good and the bad.
All the stories, accounts and traditions handed down to us are there for our benefit.
We keen learn from the mistakes of others if we want to. History can help us as we press into Jesus.

We live in a time where we are not waiting for the fulfilment of God's big redemption plan - we are in the middle of it.
Many people over thousands of year longed for what you have access now in your faith.
Once upon a time one man would carry the anointing of God...now we all can.
Once upon a time people had visions of the future after their death...we live in their vision now.

We live in a time where we feature in the final chapter - and aren't the final chapters the best?
This is why I excited to follow Jesus.
I am expectant because I live in the culmination.
You and I feature the grand finale of all the ages that have come before us.

Something to think about...


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

You can learn a lot...

I think you can learn a lot about a person based on what they appear to be willing to sacrifice.

Over the weekend and the weeks leading up to an event called Easterfest, I watched this play out in front of me.
I watched with much pride as different leaders and volunteers gave a lot of themselves to pull together a vision birthed around 2 years a go. Their sacrifice spoke a lot about the type of person they are or maybe even want to be...

You see what someone values based on what they are willing to sacrifice.
More than the words they speak and the social media posts they share.

To the level you sacrifice shows what level of value you place on it:
The level your sacrifice for your family.
The level your sacrifice for your relationship with God.
The level your sacrifice for your Church.
The level your sacrifice for others...

God shows how far he values you and me with being willing to sacrifice His one and only Son.

God presented Christ as a sacrifice Romans 3:25 niv

As followers of Christ we also get to show what we truely value through our sacrifice...

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1 niv

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16 niv

you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5 niv

Sacrifice yes is hard and sometimes painful - hence the name sacrifice.
But I am one who can testify to the value of it. I count it an honour to sacrifice my life for the cause of Christ. It is the greatest honour you can have and biggest gift you can share.

Something to think about...

Friday, April 07, 2017

Looking to stir things up?

Here is one of the reasons I continue to read as broadly from scripture as possible...
Because I need my theology challenged on a regular basis!

Theology for me is important.
But I have also found that for me and many others I have witnessed, it can become a firm box in which we hold fast to ideas and ideals.
It has the danger of becoming for me the filter by watch we test God out and His ways.

Theology by definition is ...
“the study or science of God.” Millard Erickson
“The science of God or of religion; the science which treats of the existence, character, and attributes of God, his laws and government, the doctrines we are to believe, and the duties we are to practice. . . the science of Christian faith and life.” Webster Dictionary 

I believe theology is the label by which you summarise your current understanding of God based on your own study and your own experiences.
Theology for me should be a basis of my belief, never the totality of my belief.
If I truly believe God wants to mould me, grow me and more over an entire lifetime I need His input all my days.

That is what I love about His Word.
I read it many times and it challenges the theology I have created for myself.
When I pendulum swing toward justice and judgement based on what I see in this world, His word reminds me also of His grace and His mercy.
When I think I have God all sorted in my theology, I read an account in scripture where God doesn't match the theology prevailing at the time.

Be brave and be humble.
Get your face into His word as much as you can and let God challenge the snot out of ya!

Something to think about...

Monday, April 03, 2017

Maybe this is for you right now?

I think it is funny how we think that doing the right things should always be the easiest thing to do...
I have also discovered that doing the right things for the rights reasons, tends to give you the best results ultimately - it is just that the right thing is sometimes the hardest thing...

As disciples of Jesus, our best and most dramatic example of this in action is actually at the worst moment of Jesus life! While he hung on that cross the words, "Father, forgive them" were uttered. 

To be honest I am not sure if Jesus was 'feeling it'? 
In the middle of His pain, He was offering something profound and far reaching!
What He did do was very hardcore, an example that is definitely not easy to follow, but maybe the right one to follow for each of us?

Where I am most definitely just like you is that I have lived enough life to have discovered pain.
There is a long list of people who have caused me hurt that I could justify myself in sharing with you.
But that isn't the right thing to do is it?
The right thing to do, is in the middle of what is uncomfortable or even downright painful, is to give out forgiveness.
It doesn't have to be pretty, be poetic or professional...it just has to be presented.
Jesus didn't look pretty, sound poetic or come across professional on a bloody cross. He just choose to love above the pain, with everything He could muster. And ultimately He was trusting His father with the outcome. It didn't have to feel right to be right...

Some people say they will forgive when they feel ready to forgive.
I do agree that timing is important. But it is not the most important!
The danger is that the more we look for excuses, the longer we hold onto something that is actually doing us harm. The quicker is it dealt with, the quicker the resolution.

Scripture backs this up...We forgive because he first forgave us!

Something to think about...
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