Monday, December 24, 2018

There is that moment...

I can remember the day with a lot of detail when both my boys were born. The location, the weather, the sounds and smells, the people involved, the drama...
Then there is that moment when everything changes.
Straight after the birth where everything stops. Where a strange calm settles. Maybe not strange in the sense of weird, but something surreal in nature.

I don't think that Mary ever forgot the day Jesus came into the world.
It had been supernatural and strange. Stressful and stupendous.
And as she sat with Joseph in that stable holding the Son of God in her young arms, I think she had a moment. Maybe even a series of moments.
Scripture tells us that she pondered.
That she treasured it all in her heart.
A peace would have come that was palpable and divine.

This Christmas may it not just be a season, but a moment for you.
As you take time to reflect on Jesus entering the world and setting you up for salvation, may God's peace flood your whole being.
There should be for you and me our moment, where our time of reflection brings a supernatural peace to our souls.

As you read this please know I have been praying this would happen for you!
To all my readers wherever you are around the world...may this Christmas be special for you.
I am blown away that you keep coming back.
That there are so many of you from every corner of the globe.

Merry Christmas from me and my family to you and yours.

Love to you all!
Locky

*I will take a break over the holiday season and be back with you in early 2019*


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Will I Be Ready?

It is that time of the year for me and maybe for you, where you feel pretty spent emotionally and physically, and yet you are planning for a new year.

Will I be ready for 2019?
The honest answer is possibly no if I don't prepare for it now in some way.

Keeping on trucking is good sometimes but not good all the time.
We need to measure and adjust our lives depending on the seasonal attributes we each face.
So here is my simple thought advice (that I am working on personally).

Press in to get things working

Often we try to press on when the best thing to do is press in.
I find pressing on easier because of my personality and work ethic.
Jesus advice for us is the opposite at this point. He encourages us to find our rest in Him and take His yoke upon ourselves.

When we rest in Him we find refreshing not just physically but emotionally, spiritually and every other 'ally' word in faith.
Resting is an active thing. It is not some mystique eastern vibe of clearing your mind! It was the opposite. It its stopping all the striving and filling up on spiritual fuel for another day.

The 'His Yoke' part requires some honest reflection.
Am I doing what He wants or what I think He wants?
It is ok to ask yourself and God that question...

Change it up if it not working

If you are tired and life / ministry are not working like they should, maybe it is time to change something.
If Jesus asks you to change everything fine, but I tend to find He asks me to change something.
To change one thing. Sometimes a simple thing.

I am removing a few activities that while good they are not making me be great. I am looking at my routine and seeing where some tweaks can be made.
Sometimes a change can make you feel new without being dramatic.
And just because you always have doesn't mean you always should...

Train myself to get how I would like it working

In the last 10 years I have loved the sport journey that I have roller coasted on.
Not because it has been a roller coaster, but because I have learnt a lot about myself and how life works from that perspective.
When you have a goal, like a race, you train accordingly.
Spiritually it is the very same thing. If you have a goal for 2019, train accordingly.
Wishful thinking will never get you to the finish line.
You need some training in your tank before the race.

Please don't hang in there my friend hoping 2018 will finish and that a calendar change will magically fix whatever you don't like about your life...
Maybe you could do what I am doing and make some changes?
Let's be ready for 2019.

Something to think about...

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Popularity Contest?

When did the Church become so much of a popularity contest?
If the Church is God's people, why do many see some people as better than other people?
Why do many not want to be committed to one, but rather free to enjoy the best of every Church family?

Now before some of you tell me I sound upset or maybe even bitter, I want to clearly state I don't believe I am.
I am just sitting here pondering the idea that I have raised...
This is not a new idea or concept.
Others have pondered it as well.
I am not a control freak over peoples lives. I do not believe any Pastor owns the people he may have the honour of leading. They are God's great people. We are simply entrusted with doing our very best to lead them...

After nearly 30 years soon of following Jesus with every fibre of my being, and being part of many amazing groups of fellow believers in Christ, I have seen many flavours and fads over the years.
Another great leader I know calls them "winds of doctrine". Blowing people here and there depending on what is bright and shiny, hip and happening, labeled as the new thing or just plain cool.
And just as they have come and gone, many people I have walked with, ministered to and from, even had broken hearts with, have at many times come and gone with those flavours and fads.

When I first started on my faith journey, the 'such and such' were the place to be on a Sunday.
Then that changed when a new worship style appeared.
Then it changed again when a leader failed.
Then it changed once again when someone else got a new building.
Then a new move of God happened (and didn't last).
You get the idea...

So what should it be like I wonder?
Or is this exactly how it is supposed to be?

Here are my two keys for being part of a Church family somewhere/anywhere:

1. Where does God want you?
Apart from the very first Church I went, I have from then and now with my wife, always very seriously prayed and sort God about where we should be. Not praying for the best but where we could be the best fit.
You see I don't see the Church as burger restaurant. Where I can go from McD's to Burger King to Burger Fuel to Better Burger. It is far more spiritual and eternal than a flavour in my mouth and a feeling in my belly.
God has always directed us to we can be fully engaged in whatever family it would be. It has never needed to be perfect, just I hope continuing to move forward.
And just as God's people experienced in the Sinai Dessert, we only move when God moves us.

2. There has to be a mutual relationship
God places people in Church families. In fact scripture tells us He goes out of His way to place the lonely in a caring Church family to become their home.
Let's grab that burger thing again for a moment. When the Church is a burger restaurant we can easily and quickly flick from a fan to disappointed customer. Even leaving a bad review online along the way.
I see the Church as a place for mutual benefit of every single member.
Where you can be served and you can serve.
If you are hurt by life, the Church is there to help facilitate your healing in Christ, in part, so you can once be part of the mutual benefit process.

Then I think of Jesus...
Jesus was popular one day and not the next.
Some days His teaching changed their lives, changed the very direction of life for them. Then the next day it could offend their very soul.
One day they worshipped Him as King and then the next it seems, demanded that He be crucified.
So maybe I shouldn't be surprised by all this?

The questions I have pondered today actually reinforce for me personally my conviction.
That I will always seek God for where I need to be regardless of what is cool.
That I will always seek to serve God over where that place may be, what seems cool or anything else.
God's Church is so very special and it will never be a place for me of consumerism, but a place to bring the hope of God to as many as possible.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Astonished or Fearful?

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

Check it out...

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

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

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

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

Something to think about...


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

My Mirror


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

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

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

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

Something to think about...

Thursday, November 22, 2018

A Note from the Pastor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, November 21, 2018

That's Racist!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about...

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Another interesting quote...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The same writer goes on to say...

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

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Not the enemy

When Mary & Joseph ended up having to travel to a remote village to register in a census you could argue their circumstances weren't the best, but ultimately they were the best.
Travelling heavily pregnant and not getting to book accomodation ahead of time was all part of the tricky circumstances they faced.
Maybe they had conversations about how trying their circumstances were and whether God had it right?
They actually fulfilled prophecy that they were probably blissfully unaware of.
And it meant they were in the right place for God's best.

I think sometimes we treat our circumstances as our enemy...
But what if your circumstances are actually working for you more than against you?
What if they are bringing you to a better destination, even if the road is a bit more bumpy than you would choose for yourself?

Doesn't God promise to be with us, look after us and more?

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives. Psalm 37:23 nlt

My friend, please know that if you are doing whatever you can to faithfully live for Christ, that everything, and I mean everything is exactly the way it needs to be.
God has a planned your steps and is leading to the best place possible for your life!

Something to think about...

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Rinse & Repeat

Sometimes when I am listening to my Bible App it does something kind of weird. After reading me a section, sometimes instead of moving to the next chapter or book, it repeats the same thing again.
The first time it happened I was driving to Rotorua and couldn't touch my device to fix it.
I got the same 20 verses on repeat for I don't know how many times!

When I finally stopped driving and resolved it, I actually wondered if what just happened was actually the best thing for me? Maybe hearing the same thing 5+ times in a row got it to sink in?
Maybe that was the best thing me?
And maybe that is exactly what God wanted for me?

When I am teaching myself or someone else a difficult guitar part I actually instinctively repeat it again and again until it 'sticks'.
There is something about repetition to help you learn something of value for later or to achieve a result.

Many times in our culture and climate now I see people try something once and then if they are not successful walk away, convincing themselves and others they tried and it didn't work.
Thomas Edison didn't give up after his first failed light bulb!

Can I encourage you to maybe add some Rinse & Repeat to areas of your faith?
Try not to be in too much of a hurry to keep moving on from what you are possibly wrestling with.
If you need to read the same verse 50 times...
If you need to listen to the same sermon 75 times...
If you need to try and learn the same life lesson 100 times...
Using Rinse & Repeat could be the best thing for you?

Something to think about...

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Inspire

You are probably like many of us, and seeing as part of your social media existence, different videos appearing to watch?
To be fair I skip a lot of clips for time and to avoid filling my mind with some of the dubious material available online. Occasionally there are videos that can be very powerful indeed.
Today one impacted me immensely.
I have it linked here if you are interested?

The essence of it is this...
A series of young kids have different interactions with their sporting heroes.
They are people they look up to. Probably dreaming of one day becoming themselves?
The look of awe on their faces is very obvious.
There is pure joy expressed getting to interact with them, if even for a fleeting moment.
The lasting impression appears palpable to me watching it!

I really felt stirred by God to share this with you.
Why?
Because you are I are actually called to do what these sports stars did for this young people.
To inspire them to greatness in Christ.

Right now people are watching us.
They are looking to be inspired.
And you can inspire them today!

Can I encourage you press into God, to give everything you have for the cause of Christ!
Do it not just for yourself, but for those 'younger' than you looking for meaning, looking for truth, looking for something more than this world has to offer...

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel. Philippians 1:27 niv

Something to think about...

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

What a fantastic question?

Questions are all part of life and faith...
When you are young you probably drove your parents some what nuts with lots of 'why' questions.
As an adult we question many things for all sorts of reasons.
God even asks questions. In fact God has been asking mankind questions since the beginning of time. Never to punish or make someone feel bad, but because He wants the best for us!

On Sunday we had a fantastic guest speaker/musician sharing on their very personal journey.
Specifically they shared about a 'meteorite' moment which trigged health issues for them.
I hope I have this right from my recollection, but they only truly realised where they were at, when someone or a group of someones, asked them some fantastic questions...

Questions if we are brave, honest and patient with ourselves and our response, can be truly life changing.
They can lead you to new places and revelations.
They can help in ways you never dreamed.
If someone genuinely cares for us it should make it easier to not be offended when they ask away...

I hope you know that I care for you, even if it through a screen at this point? So can I ask you some questions today?
They will be for fantastic if you aren't offended and can process them in the way I truly mean for them to be, something that could help you, grow you, make sure you tracking well...

  1. Are you truly happy with your life and how things are going?
  2. If you are totally honest is there something you know right isn't right in your life and/or needs addressing?
  3. What place does God take in your life? Is He a big thing or a small thing?

So what are your answers to those questions?
I have my own.
And they are causing me to ask for help. To press into God.
To look for things I enjoy more to add into my daily routine.

Something to think about...

If you would like someone to talk to please be brave and ask for help.
Your Mental Health is so important. I want you to be well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

How I hear from God?

One of the super amazing and cool benefits of giving your life to Christ is this...
You get to hear God speak to you!
That's right, God wants too, to not only speak, but for you to hear His voice.

Why do you need to?
Life is pretty good and pretty challenging on varying tips of the scale. God makes all the difference for me. When I need it, He speaks direction, inspiration and more, and it changes the balance of life for me.

Each year for the last 9 years I have been in a position to be able to head to Auckland for our annual Elim One Conference. And every year I have found God speak clearly to me in ways I have needed. The timing is always perfect. How I felt before going is always countered by what He encourages me with while I am there.
Because it has happened so consistently I now have a healthy expectation of hearing from Him over those few days.

As I was thinking about this amazing privilege this morning, I couldn't help wonder if there were some keys for me that could be keys for you?

Here are few I have jotted down...

Removal of Distraction
The more I am locked into a routine of business.
The more I am controlled by social media curiosity.
The more my heart is drawn to simply be entertained.
Well the more I distracted...
I even wonder if the noise of life is normally so much I couldn't hear God even if he was speaking clearly.
Conference for is more than a venue or a speaker, it becomes for me a place where I am not distracted by life and can simply focus on listening.

Expectation is Key
As I hinted in my intro I expect to hear God speak.
It is not an arrogance thing but a simple child life faith thing.
God is my Father in Heaven and I am His kid. Good Fathers communicate with their kids, God came up with that idea! So I go expecting and to this point, I have never been let down.

Take Notes
Human beings have a habit of hearing and then forgetting the conversation details.
So I take note of what I believe God is saying immediately. I write it down wherever and whenever.
Over the following few days and weeks I go back over it, meditate over it, pray over it, ask God more questions around it.
In doing that, I have discovered the conversation is not lost and the impact is immeasurable.
I figure that if God spoke I should take notice.
I also never want to skite that I hear God but not be able to say distinctly what it was...

Listen to me;
    listen, and pay close attention.
Isaiah 28:23 NLT

...You’ve opened my ears
    so I can listen.
Psalm 40:6 MSG

Something to think about...

Monday, September 24, 2018

You probably won't like this one?

This will be one of my least read blog posts, simply because it is not what people want to hear.
After over a decade of blogging every single week pretty much, the stats show that the posts that encourage and build up, that are funny of light and tasty are my most popular. Nothing wrong with that on some level. 
It is just that I have noticed that the posts which share a challenging truth from scripture are by far the least popular.

But maybe the best thing for me is to hear what I want to hear the least?

You have probably had moments like me?
Where we have had a parent, a boss or a mentor tell us about an area of our lives that needs attention.
And we are all the same, it is hard to hear, we sometimes bite back in self defence, but ultimately they were right and we needed to change and grow.

Jesus always taught what people needed to hear.
Needed to learn.
Needed to understand...
Never just what they wanted to hear, learn and understand.

He taught to change a life and not simply to make people happy and grow a crowd.
To those trying to live their faith by their own measure He shared God's measure.
To those trying to justify themselves and He called out their self sufficient insular faith.
To those trying to manufacture a result He pointed them back to God, his timing and his provision.

I could be more specific but I am afraid I would offend you, so will leave to the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart about your specifics.

Every single day God points out areas of my heart He would like to continue His work on.
Every single day I apologise to God. 
Every single day I try and lets His word challenge me and change the core of me for the better.

So if you as awesome a follower of Jesus as you think you are...how about putting on your big boy pants and check out the teaching of Jesus that challenges you the most.
To be honest it is probably what God wants you hear, learn from and understand.

Something to think about...

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Great Quotes : Rich Mullins

“Save me from trendy religion that makes cheap clich├ęs 
out of timeless truths.” – 

“I am a Christian, not because someone explained the nuts and bolts of Christianity, but because there were people willing to be nuts and bolts.” 

“When you stop being so afraid of failing 
you become much more free to succeed.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

And now it is time for the news...

When I was growing up the 6 o'clock news on our TV was a massive deal in my house.
If it was on, as a child you were expected to stay quiet until at least the next ad break. It was a big deal. It was generally seen as a key time to gather news on local and international events.
The same went for the newspaper. Dutifully delivered each day even though we lived in the country side, on a farm. If Dad was reading the paper he really wanted to read the paper.

My point is you go two shots per day at getting information on what is happening in the world, so they better be good...

Today I get news 24/7.
Newspapers have an online presence and present news all day long.
Social media users pass on bits of news all day long.
Radio stations give me news every 30 minutes.
Commentators post and share their views on the same news just as quickly.
Headlines, thoughts, analysis, opinions...on and on it goes...

What I am noticing is that the 'news' has changed.
While having it more often and generously presented may seem like we are better informed, I think the opposite is now true.
When a 'story breaks', there is no time to investigate it, be subjective, ask more questions, dig a little deeper. When a 'story' appears, it is only a headline or a snippet. In fact by definition there is no actual story many times simply a statement or merely an opinion.
I say to people all the time when a new story comes forward, "just wait a few more days" and you will probably have a more truthful story (well hopefully?).

The Good News about Jesus is nothing like the news of today.
It was researched and presented by people who were there and weren't there.
It has been critiqued for several thousand of years including by those who didn't think it was true. And yet this news has impacted me and many around me like no other headline could.

The Good News about Jesus is not merely an attention searching headline. It is not just another hashtag away from creating another short term trendy movement.
The Good News about Jesus will change your life and your world.
Take a moment to check it out for yourself today.

Something to think about...

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

God wants you to...

I wonder what you might finish that sentence off without thinking too much about your answer?
What is the first thing that comes to mind?
Maybe one of these is your first answer?
God wants you to work harder at your faith...
God wants you to just stop doing dumb stuff...
God wants you to be a better believer (whatever that might mean)...

Can I suggest to you today that that is maybe not what God wants for you?
Here is my simple thought for you...
God wants you to grow.
That's it. Just simply grow and keep growing...

2 Peter 3:13 encourages us to grow in grace.
1 Peter 2:2-3 encourages us to crave spiritual milk so you can grow.
Colossians 2:7 talks about being like a plant growing with spiritual roots in Him.
In John 15 Jesus said we are to grow bearing amazing fruit.

Check out this cool bit of encouragement from one of the Psalms...

Psalm 92:12-14 niv
12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
    they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
    they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
    they will stay fresh and green

Maybe today you could think of yourself as a plant?
Plants can't make themselves grow just by thinking about growing.
They know instinctively they need the right environment, the right stimuli, the right nutrients, the right protection and direction.
They simply focus on growing and let God sort out a lot of the details.

Maybe you should just be like a tree and grow?
Just put yourself in the right place and let God continue to grow you in the faith.
God wants you to grow!

Something to think about...

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Not supposed to be that complicated

At the core of our following Jesus, having faith in God, I believe it is not supposed to be that complicated. Yes I might not be always be that easy, but it was never meant to be complicated.

Jesus famously said things like "Love God and Love Others", that those two things summed up the law, God's expectations and more. Do that and you are on the right track...
Jesus did something for us we would never be able to do for ourselves, by giving His life as a sacrifice to sort out of the "salvation issues" for us. His work one the cross and conquering death removed the complicated from the equation.

Here are some key components for my faith...

  • Worship God
  • Serve Him and Others
  • Pray
  • Read the Bible
  • Share Faith and Resources
  • LOVE
  • Just Keep Going

The moment it seems to me that we avoid, stop or remove any of those components, that's when the complicated comes in.
Probably because we are replacing them with something else.
And the something else fills a gap in us but never satisfies, so our frustration grows and grows...

Whenever I am feeling a bit flat or wondering why, it is normally because I have neglected one or a few of these components.
Whenever I am asked to counsel someone over their faith struggles, generally it is the same for them.

So my challenge to myself and to you today is to take a quick inventory and see what might be missing. Next don't beat yourself up but pick yourself up and get back on it...

The Spirit of God will help you.
You will continue to grow in Him.
And it will make so much more sense...

Something to think about...

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Who is in your corner and...

...whose corner are you in?

When a boxer steps towards their opponent in the ring, they go with some confidence in their preparation and the comfort of knowing someone is in their corner cheering them on, believing in them no matter what.
Even if the crowd is fickle or the fight not easy, your corner person or team is what you lean on as you face your field of battle.

This last week I felt the Holy Spirit ask me to stop and talk to a couple I knew were in a battle.
As is drove down their street on the way to something else, I just knew I had see them, to be their person in their corner again.
It was amazing! We had a great talk, prayed together and I went away pumped for what God might do even more of in their lives.

As I drove off I really felt the Holy Spirit ask me encourage you to do something similar.
To challenge you to look for the opportunity to be in someones corner this week.

I truly believe that this is a two way thing.
We should endeavour to be ring side for others. Cheering them on.
We should have someone or a group of someones behind us. Doing the same for us.
That's right, you can do both and be both.
Ask the Holy Spirit to led you and help you...and He will...
Be around other followers of Christ so they can be in your corner.

So who is in your corner...and whose corner are you in?

Something to think about...


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Paul - blessed are those who are persecuted

I am not about to promote something because I think it was perfect...
What it did do was portray what following Christ can mean, and challenge the core of what you might believe at the moment?

My Church hosted a screening of the Paul, Apostle of Christ Movie last night.
Yes it came out some months ago now, but in our corner of the world it is not something everyone has experienced yet. So I organised to get it on the big screen one more time.

I love and don't love the challenge of these stories.
My heart wants to believe that following Christ is all about everything getting more better and more blessed, with less challenges and problems as I journey towards heaven.
Then my heart is reminded what Paul and others experienced. They suffered for their faith in a way many of us can not comprehend or desire. Yet in the middle of it all they chose Christ!

My heart is challenged.
I need it challenged.
I want to live for Christ and die as gain (one day, not yet).
I want the power of God and the truth of it all reigning in my life.

Didn't Jesus say something like this???
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  Matthew 5:10-12 niv

I firmly believe God wants to bless us and care for us.
He wants to provide for me and He does.
And I also believe I am called something even higher, to live for Christ, no matter what that might mean.
If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favour and watch it.
Let God challenge you again.

Something to think about...





Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Open Eyes

You could be forgiven for feeling a little hopeless based on what you see around you sometimes...
- The world and local news coming through your social media feeds.
- The commentary in regards to the issues many face.
- In fact the high levels of anger that seem to be prevalent.

I watched something that was suggested to me even this week.
It showed a group of people in a privileged position expounding on the woes of the world from their special and elevated position. Their only advice when asked by their audience on what to do about the world was to drop multiple f-words, then encourage the murder of people who don't agree, to which the audience cheered and went nuts with excitement.
Quite frankly I find that pretty disturbing.

While pondering this later and wondering what you might think and how could we both could process event this issue, I was reminded of an account in scripture.

2 Kings 6:15-17 niv
15When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
16“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

We need potentially today a reminder today that God is bigger.
Remind ourselves that Gods armies surround the smaller armies (or battles) confronting of us.

Can I encourage you to pray and ask God to open your eyes to see what is true, what is happening around you, to see spiritually and not just naturally?
I believe it will help you better navigate the potentially strange times you see yourself living through?

Something to think about...

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Listen | Watch | Wait

There are some similarities and also a lot of differences between my teenage years and that I see of my own kids now.
Take the example of the phone.
Every person in our home has their own phone in the form a mobile.
But when I was a teenager there was only one phone and it wasn't mobile, it was tethered to the wall via a cable that was never considered long enough!

When the phone rang we got excited.
It meant someone wanted to talk to you and you knew they had to be keen.
The simple act of calling you spoke volumes of their desire to want to connect with you. Taking the time to stand tethered via a wire simply to have connection with you.
Going through the girlfriend and young dating phase, listening, watching and waiting were very much part of the equation.
We hung out for those times when the phone would ring. Fights between family members were common as we tried to keep the line free for us and young love.

Check out with me what Proverbs 8:34 says...
Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
 waiting at my doorway.

That version is from the NIV, but if you check out other translations in paints a picture of joy coming from this agenda. If you listen, watch and wait on God, you will more than likely find joy.

Can I encourage you week to make time to simply listen, watch daily, to wait expectantly for God in some way?
You will in no doubt find blessing and joy if you do.
I am confident of His desire to want to connect with you!

Something to think about... 


Wednesday, August 08, 2018

God has planned something better for us

I was struck by this statement near the very end of the famous 'faith chapter' in Hebrews!

Since God had planned something better for us 
so that only together with us would they be made perfect. 
Hebrews 11:40 niv

In the lines and verses proceeding Paul works his way through a whose who of faith.
Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and more.
While their stories had different turns and moments, the basis for all was exactly the same.
They actually lived out their faith with passion, purpose and power.

You can be forgiven I think for your nerves rising up as you then discover others in this speech where shipwrecked, sawn in two, and other less than comfortable expressions of faith.
They too were doing what they could to live by faith, and yet came to sometimes to sticky end.

And Paul brings us back with some relief...
"God had planned something better for us"

Please know today that while you may face challenges, they probably won't for the majority of us include a wreck ship or a nasty saw...
God has something better planned for you.
They never got to see the power of God like we can.
They never got the benefit of Gods Word in the form of the scriptures.
They never got to live out their faith with over 2 Billion others across the globe.
God had something better planned for you.

Whatever you are facing this week, please remind yourself of this truth.
Add faith to your current.
Declare to yourself that you will stand.
As you do you are honouring those who came before you.
And you are saying "YES" to the better that God has planned for you.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Please don’t #EvolveTheDefinition

This hashtag phrase is being promoted by a clothing brand currently.
Their perported goal is to redefine what being a man means, what masculinity means, presumably based on the premise that current masculinity needs drastic changes.
I will never argue that men are perfect and not needing of change, but I am very concerned about a world where being a man should be something to be challenged or even be ashamed of.

The broader issue for me as a follower of Christ is this...
Modern culture is hellbent of redefining everything that has come before.
It is protesting traditions. Shaking up the norms from previous generations. All with a publicised goal of making the world better for everyone.
Unfortunately I think it is an ill advised experiment at best and socially suicidle at worst.
Destroying something to build something better without a clear goal and well thought out strategy is extremely foolhardy.

Jesus never taught ever in all his hours of teaching that men or women were generically bad, superior, needing to changed from one unto another.
What He did teach appears to be a completely different approach to helping us be the better version of our current selves.

He said to love others, serves others, prefer others.
He said to take up your own cross and carry that, not nail others to a cross we are unwilling to bear.

I firmly believe that when we focus on our relationship with God, then the world will be better because we are better.
A clothing label is not the way to see change. Christ is the way to see change.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Just Rest, Don't Retire

I am not a expert and I am personally learning this still - but I believe when you are tired from whatever you are doing or facing - try and rest instead of retiring.
Take a breather instead of quitting!

Again from my experience and watching the life of others, I find our very most dangerous time to make big decisions is in a place of weariness.
It is at those times you may struggle to see clearly.
You most definitely will operate more out of your flesh than the Spirit.

Jesus took time out for rest and find fresh connection with God.
He did so after major moments of ministry and/or misery.
When the crowd become too much with their weighty and never ending expectations.
When those who were inclined to evil killed a family member.
When He needed to make major choices, like who would be His inner circle that we call 'The Disciples'.
When He was preparing for the last push of His earthly ministry.

Jesus wisely encourages us to come away with Him when we are tired and worn down.
He doesn't say quit to regroup.
Nor give up to grow up.
Or even run away for your protection.
He simply encourages us to find a place of rest...

Are you tired today? Maybe weighed down by huge expectations?
Have you been pushing through in life and/or ministry and you are feeling a bit worn out?
Please don't quit. Please find a place of rest whatever and where ever that may be...
Quitting can be such a negative moment when we get it wrong due to our emotions controlling our defining moves. Finding your rest in God will propel to new levels of effectiveness and won't leave you in regret.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Does God have a problem with your questions?

I don't think God has a problem with you asking Him questions?
Those why, when, how, what phrases to heavens throne do not phase Him one little bit...
Jesus asked His disciples and the crowds questions all the time to get them to think.
God through the prophets of old used to ask questions while sharing truths.
In fact questions are the gateway to understanding.

Is there something about this faith in God thing that you don't understand?
Ask a question...
Are you wondering what could be your next assignment from God?
Ask a question...

God has promised each of us that we have ears specifically designed to hear His voice.
God wants to answer your questions.
Speak to your heart.
Give your direction.
Maybe the question back is - will you listen?

Can I encourage you this week to not be afraid or ashamed of asking God anything?
Let Him speak to you and guide you.
You might be pleasantly surprised?

Something to think about...

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Confer

“And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me,” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:29‬ ‭niv‬‬

I absolutely love this verse and what it implies for you and for me!
Reading it this week, it really lept off the page and hit me between the eyes.
God wants to confer something pretty special to you!
Every translation says the same thing with an equally powerful word, appoint (KJV), assign (ESV), grant (NLT)...I just like the power and meaning of confer.

Think about it for a moment, God wants to confer on you what He gave Jesus.
What did He give Jesus?
The ability to to hear exactly what He was wanting to say, when He wanted to say it.
Opportunity to operate beyond human restriction and ability.
Positioned Him above every rule and authority. And so much more!
Now consider again that this is exactly what Jesus is saying God wants to do for you and how you can live and breath and be...

You are not little “your name”, you are Gods kid given everything you need to change the world.
The same Holy Spirit that anointed Jesus to preach, teach, and display the greatness of God is available to you. Available so you can do exactly the same things!
That is why he said you can do...because you can do...don’t limit yourself to your understanding or false humility. Live up to and operate in the high calling of God and accept the role conferred to you today!

Something to think about...

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Jesus Relevance and Politics

Wow, just wow...
All around the world I am seeing this amazing move of engagement in politics.
I am old enough to have noticed a change since my first days of voting in a general election here in New Zealand. With the new platforms that social media have brought us, I believe the number of people saying what they think has grown dramatically.
And they are saying it loudly.

Here is my angle today...
I am a firm believer that as a follower of Christ, a disciple, I need to do what I can to copy my Saviour.
When Jesus was here some 2000 years a go there were politics, they had social upheaval worse than many of us face, He faced pressures to speak out on those issues and more.
I am disturbed many times when I see other believers seemingly acting nothing like Jesus and saying Jesus supports their actions. While that may upset some readers, I am more concerned with us discovering the relevance of Jesus to our world and in particular our political engagement.

Now to offend maybe some more of you...
After studying Jesus life and ministry for many years, I have come to the conclusion He was ______.
I leave it blank on purpose.
I don't believe He was left, right, centre, populist, communist, republican or democrat.
He was here as He said "on His Fathers business", the business of getting people to see past politics to eternity and the Kingdom of God.
Jesus relevance was to bring heaven to every personal encounter.
Jesus didn't set up a political party but a world changing movement of like minded and hearted people. People who look past labels to helping people secure an eternal home in heaven.
Jesus was not a social justice warrior.
Jesus was not a political activist.
Jesus was and still is, the Son of God.

So my challenge to us all as we navigate our own personal political preferences and leanings, is to filter it through what our Saviour modelled.
He modelled compassion.
He modelled truth and grace in equal measure.
And he modelled laying down your own preference for the sake of others.

Something to think about...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

When you are low God issues an invitation

I was struck by something I hadn't picked up on before in the story of Gideon over the weekend...
When we are introduced to Gideon it is actually at a bad time in his life (Judges 6).
He is feeling pretty bad about his place and station in life.
He is hiding. Some even believe that he was possibly depressed?

What does God do?
God turns up in the middle of his despair and speaks to him via an angel. And what God says and how He says it I think is very much important and something we can learn from.

God's response is not to simply pat him on the head spiritually and commiserate.
God speaks directly to who Gideon can be instead of who he currently considers himself to be.
God wants to lift Gideon out of that pit different to how he went in.
He tells him who He says that Gideon can be. Not ignoring Gideon's circumstances, but issuing a divine invitation to lift him up. To place him somewhere better. Offering a new way forward which carries favour from heaven.

If you are not in a good place right now, can I issue you an invitation to find out Gods new invitation to you?
Maybe take some time to seek Him in His Word?
Maybe seek out someone filled with the spirit of God to prophecy over your life?
You do not have to stay in any form of a pit.
Rise up you mighty man or women of God!!!

Something to think about...



Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Not planning on graduating for a long time!

You might be wondering what I am referring to?
I thought the idea of study and learning in some field of endeavour was to graduate as quickly and efficiently as possible? Well might be true of things like becoming a doctor or a teacher etc but not how I see my living for Christ.

I have come to believe that I need to embrace the idea of being a perpetual student of Christ.
He is my teacher.
I am in His classroom.
And I aint leaving until He graduates me to heaven!

A disciple is not above his teacher, 
but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.
Luke 6:40 esv

I take my study personally and passionately.
I read scripture as much as I can and frustratingly I still don't read it enough.
I research themes and ideas for myself even researching what others have to say that make me a little uncomfortable at times. I want to know if I am right or wrong beyond my pride...
I study 'up'. Meaning a read and research to improve what needs growth in my life.
I am always asking Him to speak to me in any and every way.
I am not there yet but always pushing forward to be more and more like my teacher.

Can I encourage you today to dive into the classroom of life that Jesus has just for you?
Learn from Him. He will teach you at a pace and place that works best for you personally.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:29 esv

Religious people think they have already made it so they stop learning.
Their world continually shrinks and grace slips further and further from entrenched positions and postures.
Don't be like them. Be a perpetual student of Jesus.

Something to think about...

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Once upon a time I noticed a girl at Church

Once upon a time I noticed a girl at Church...
I had an idea that I would like to be with her and highly likely to marry her.

I schemed, planned and put in a lot of effort to win her as my bride.
I prayed a lot and talked to a few key leaders about it before setting course on winning her heart.

Step one was to infamously get a friend from work to invite her to our end of year Christmas function. My cunning plan was once she was there, I would eventually pluck up the courage to ask her to dance, she would fall in love with me, and the rest would be history.
Unfortunately my plan was as lame as when this is portrayed in the movies. When I finally asked her to dance she said no. And to make matters worse was given a ride home by another guy.

Did I give up at this point even though tempted through the disappointment?
NO!

I did other things over the many months this potential relationship was on my radar and in my heart.
I then got traditional with my tactics and invited her to see a movie.
She agreed to this one thank goodness! Can even still remember what we saw.
When she got sick I sent her a get well card under the guise of "pastoral care".
Yes I cared she was sick, but thought it might show my caring side and hopefully get her to like me a little more?
When New Years Eve came around I offered to give her a 'new years eve hug'.
Several days later all my praying and planning seemed to work.
We kissed for the very first time in a park by a tree. It was awesome!
Just over 2 months later we were engaged.
And at the end of that year after graduating Bible College, we got married.

So why am I telling you all this?
What is my point?

I wanted to be married to the girl so I put everything I could into it.
Half hearted would never win her heart.
Giving it a try and giving up at the first hurdle would achieve me nothing.
It took a dogged determination to win her and I think it was worth all the effort and ups and downs along the way.
I had to be fully immersed in the process to achieve what I was looking for.

I truly believe your relationship with Jesus should be the same.
You need a dodged determination. A passion to make it work, see it flourish and grow.
The Bible tells us that it takes loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
It is all or nothing. 'Full immersion' as I like to call it.
I am more than willing to give my all for my King! What about you?

Something to think about...

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Experiment

My youngest kid loves doing experiments.
His most common passion right now is to freeze all sort of random things and see what happens.
He tests his results outside and seems to really enjoy himself.
It can drive us nuts finding random things in the freezer, but it is a small price to pay for his enjoyment...

After nearly 27 years of being a follower of Christ I have met a lot of like minded people.
A regular theme has been made clear to me...
Everyone of those people who took God at His Word.
Everyone of those people who put into practice what they learned.
Everyone of those people who decided to experiment and it give it a try.
They are the ones who had an adventure of faith.
They are the ones who have keep the faith.
They are the ones who never got cynical and tired.
They are the ones who still many years and experiences good and bad, they are the ones who have not given up on that faith.

James says something extremely important from his many years of experience being a Jesus follower...
"...be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."
James 1:22 ESV

My faith has never stopped at learning! It has been made real because I have always experimented with what I learnt.
When I heard about giving to God in a Church and they called it tithing, it sounded weird to me, but I thought what the heck, I'll give that a go...
When I heard that we are all supposed to be able to pray for the sick and they will be healed, even though I was new at this Jesus thing, I gave it a go on a guy who twisted his ankle in front of me and he got healed! I don't know who was more surprised me or him?
When I heard you can share you faith, I gave it a go...
When I heard you can serve in your Church, I gave it a go, in fact I gave every ministry you can think of a go...
You probably get the idea?
I have always experimented with my faith and it has also worked for me!

Faith is only fully realised when you act on the revelation you receive.
It has never been complicated. But many don't get past the hearing and onto the doing and boy oh boy are they missing out!

If you are a frustrated believer right now maybe you are because you aren't experimenting with your faith?
Maybe you have been listening for many years and you are spiritually bloated from all the great teaching you have sat under?
Don't diet. Start to do something with it.
Loose your bloating by experimenting and taking God at his Word.
Come on and join in with me. Get off the bench and into the game.
It will make far more sense to you when you do!

Something to think about...

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Nobody's Perfect

I would be surprised if you hadn't heard the phrase "nobodies perfect" before! And yet I have come to discover that some people like to hope that others around them are.
Invariably when they discover those 'others' aren't as perfect as they hope, they are disappointed.
I have even seen some people do a social media campaign against a leader because they are not as perfect as they hoped.

Please understand 2 things before I go on with this simple thought :
1. Scripture tells to be perfect as God is perfect (Matthew 5:48) - a goal we should have without destroying ourselves, we should none the less go for.
2. We should be careful not to have our faith destroyed by false teachers or manipulative leaders. So of course be wise about the influence others have over you. (2 Peter 2:1)

I read today a story that has come to light since the death of Billy Graham. It appears that he was not a great dad many times during his ministry.
He apparently missed the birth of his first child.
He didn't recognise one after an extended time away in his ministry. The account goes that it broke his heart and that particular child never forgot the look on their fathers face and the tears in his eyes...
Billy Graham was not perfect. In spite of it he was seeing thousands saved. Many have grown in the faith journey under his teaching. How dare I consider righting his ministry off over some of his struggles!

When I have looked at briefly the lives of most of the major players and influencers of our faith, I am struck that none were perfect.
- Moses didn't speak to the rock when God asked Him to.
- David stole another mans wife.
- Peter denied Christ.
- Martin Luther challenged theology and practice and got a few things wrong.
- Every Pastor I have served under and learned from had issues they were working through, and yet God used them marvellously in my life. I wouldn't be half of who I am now without their ministry.

I see people telling others online not to learn from this pastor or that leader or that Church because of something that haven't got right.
I guess you have to follow your own conscience. But can I encourage you to weigh things up maybe a little more balanced?
If they are 99% right about faith, isn't that enough? Learn from that 99% and forget the rest...
My relationship with God is not based on others having their faith and theology perfect. It is based on my relationship and their teaching helping me along the way. I always go away and look into what I have been taught. I ask whether if it not right, whether it is a 'deal breaker' if it is not.
Sometimes they are not wrong and I am...and then I am challenged to review my theology and that is a good thing! Maybe God is using their struggles or failings to challenge me, to grow me, to speak to me?

As a leader is it so tiring!
I want to be perfect for you and I just can't quite get there...
That doesn't mean I won't keep trying. But I ask that you extend the same grace to me that you expect I extend to you?
We are imperfect people doing our best to follow a perfect God.
I will keep going for perfection and at the same accepting the grace I so desperately need from Him.

Something to think about...

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

There is a lot I don't like about the world right now!

There is a lot I don't like about the world right now!
And it caused me to pause and think this morning with an ounce of trepidation for what world my kids are about to inherit.

Please let me explain...
We have drivers of cars who don't care about waiting or following rules when they need to get to where they feel they need to go.
We have entertainment that is so encompassing, so pervasive, that many have no time for real relationships anymore.
We have so many ideas on every single thing, but it seems very few answers that truly make a difference for the average person.
We have so many broken homes and broken relationships resulting in broken people.
We have politicians who seem to think lying and cheating is totally ok as long as it meets their end goal.
We have media who love to report the world we live based on sound bites or clip bait headlines, it seems never telling the whole story.

What else do we have?
We have HOPE.
Hope that promises to never disappoint, that points to something better, that can create lasting change to a life, a family, a church, a street, a city, a nation.
If you have any sort of faith in Christ, hope should be part of the package you are buying in to.

I don't believe this hope is like something that is like a trinket in your pocket.
Whatever hope you have is supposed to be bigger than that...
It is more like the clothes you were and the life you lead. It should be on display, shared around, shown with grace and compassion and yet shouted from the rooftops.
"There is HOPE!"

Can I encourage you today to pick one space or place where your hope could make a difference?
Share in actions or if you need, with gracious words.
Your hope should stand out like a light in a dark place...

Something to think about...

Thursday, May 10, 2018

You are a Rep

I walked into an appointment that was booked some weeks ago, only to discover on arrival that they had messed something important up.
Something inside of me was not very happy!
They had plenty of opportunity to let me know before the appointment there was a problem and didn't. The first staff member I encountered seemed strangely uninterested in the now plight I faced and time I was now wasting. And in that moment, wrestling with the grumpy feelings stirring up within me, I was reminded that I am a rep for the Kingdom of God...

Why is that even important?

When you decide to follow Jesus and then let the world know, many things change!
You get all the goodness, greatness and grace of heaven in your life.
You also get a new role in the world you are still living in. You are now a representative.
Scripture actually calls you an ambassador of heaven.
You exchanged your old life to become salt and light in any and every moment you walk and talk in.
People who are not in same camp as you yet, will forever look to you as an indication on whether God is real, whether He can work in your life, whether it is worth their while looking seriously at...

Do you rip into them? Stand up for yourself because of your importance in the universe?
I was wronged but how should I handle that?
Can I encourage to learn how to handle your role well?

I believe in sharing gracefully that something was wrong, and I believe we should not seek revenge with either our words or actions.
I believe sometimes you should even consider just being 'wronged' as Jesus put it. Turn the other cheek. Let God sort it out.
I believe you should always consider what your actions say about you and the Kingdom you now represent. Facebook rants will stay in the ether forever. Is that a good thing?
I believe in all I do and say I represent not only myself, but you, my church, my town and my God.
I know it is more than overused, but ask yourself "what would Jesus do?"

Something to think about...

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Have you noticed...?

Have you noticed that there are plenty of people ready to state an opinion on things?
On how you and/or others should live their lives...
To what is really happening in the world...

Today I found my facebook feed flooded with diatribes on everything, and I think it was everything!
Sexuality
Crime
Poverty
Religion
Fashion
Politics
World Issues
The state of the Church
And more...

If I took it at all on face value it seems everyone is deeply angry and disappointed.
Everyone else is wrong and they are right. Someone else is always to blame.

In trying to process my thoughts on this I was reminded of a scripture...

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, 
live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:18 niv

I am reminded that we are not on this earth to simply point out each others faults, or to be the police over every issue, cause and creed. We are called as followers of Christ to do what we can to live at peace with others.
Each of us have enough of our own challenges at times without spending hours pointing out the challenges of others.

Maybe the best thing we could each do today is prioritise spending some time with Jesus?
Asking Him to deal with our hearts.
Asking Him to help us live at peace.
Maybe that would help this world a little better?

Something to think about...

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Please pray for your world!

Over the last 24 hours I have sat stunned at what I have read and seen...

Here are a few examples :
A a special dinner in America a 'comedian' told the audience to 'not knock abortion until you have tried it!' In fact their much published mantra is "Be true to yourself. Never apologize. Burn it to the ground."
As part of spring / may celebrations in France and apparent protests for workers rights, looters and hooligans destroyed areas of the march as they went.
And speaking of destruction, you may well have seen the wave of destruction hitting area of South Africa.

I could give you a list as long as one of my normal blogs without any trouble, listing off other places where corruption, persecution, agendas to destroy, extreme hypocrisy and lawlessness seemingly prevail. But I fear that will only add to yours and mine feelings of hopelessness?

We have one thing we can do right now - we can pray!
Please pray with me for the world we live?
Even if you only have faith for the corner you reside in, do that.
Maybe you have faith to pray for people groups or nations?

I can not in good conscience just sit back and watch from a distance.
And I certainly can not live with myself pretending that things are ok!
This is not the world I want for myself and definitely not my kids!!!

Who wants to pray with me today?

Monday, April 23, 2018

Come sit with me...

This is kind of a challenge for you...
I would love to encourage you to take the teaching in scripture, especially in the new testament, and give it a try as and when it presents itself.
Now I am not asking you to pluck an eye, or go hunting for planks in your remaining eye!
Please let me explain...

I don't go to conferences very often at all. 
There are a lot of reasons why including not having time, resource etc.
And as I arrived the other night for the first meeting of a conference I was invited to I was reminded another reason why I don't go. 
I was there on my own again. And even with 100's of people around being on your own can just reinforces your being on your own-ness.

It came time to take a seat.
So I did what seemed the right thing to do. I sat at the very back of the section allocated for Pastors.
After 10 kind of awkward minutes a man approached me and invited me to come and sit with him.
Now get this, I went from the very back to the very front!
I found myself sitting with a whole bunch of key leaders, a national leader of another denomination and the local member of parliament. It was just like Jesus taught...

10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:10 niv

If you dive into God's Word, opportunity will always present itself for you to live it out in some way.
It is true. It is relevant. It will influence, even change the circumstances of the life you live.

Something to think about...

Friday, April 20, 2018

#blessed 08

Jesus actually taught on how to be #blessed.
Sitting on a hill and speaking to anyone curious enough to listen. Little by little, sentence by sentence, step by step, He paints a clear pattern and picture for us today.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 5:10 niv

I think many people truly want to believe that following Jesus will make their life better, and they are right it does! But it also brings some other challenges.
Following Jesus sets you future secure. Means you are able to access the favour and blessing of God.
Your life will have meaning. You past will be gone.
These are all outstanding benefits of faith!

Along with faith and favour is sometimes a fight against your faith and favour.
For all sorts of reasons there can come opposition.
Sometimes because our faith is a stumbling block to others...
It can stir emotions they want to ignore.
It can remind them of the struggles which they can feel powerless in.
It can anger the very hater of your soul, the devil, who wants to destroy the life you now have.
As we have been learning together lately at our Church, the later is not a concern. No matter what the enemy throws at us God is always bigger and in control.
That fact alone should give us comfort and peace.

Jesus goes on to explain this further...
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:11-12 niv

What an honour to be persecuted, not a pain!
Scripture also ask us "why not rather be wronged?"
Don't be surprised or offended if someone or something attacks your faith - be encouraged that you are probably right on track. As long as you are doing the right things for the right reason in Christ, then you have nothing to be ashamed of and everything to be proud of in your stand for Christ!

Something to think about...

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

#blessed 07

Jesus actually taught on how to be #blessed.
Sitting on a hill and speaking to anyone curious enough to listen. Little by little, sentence by sentence, step by step, He paints a clear pattern and picture for us today.

"Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God."
Matthew 5:9 niv

I have heard it and said it myself many times, that there is a huge difference between a peacemaker and a peacekeeper! God has not called you as His kid to be the later but the former...

The trouble with being a peacekeeper is that you ultimately want to keep things as they are even if they are not perfect sometimes just to avoid any conflict.
Much of what I see in the world today doesn't need peacekeepers.
They only seek to keep a status quo that is plainly not working in my opinion...

I think of the UN Peacekeepers tasked in Europe and Africa over the last few decades.
They have tried to keep the peace by trying to avoid conflict. But the underlying issues each of those people groups and nations faced didn't go away avoiding the issues.
Ultimately the peacekeepers were seen to be a problem in themselves...
Peacekeepers trying to avoid WWII by appeasing a nation simmering with resentment, and war come no matter how much peace was talked about and longed for.

I believe a godly peacemaker is someone who longs for the best for people and the Kingdom of God.
They passionately want to see God move in peoples lives.
They actively pursue the presence of God and His anointing not just for themselves, but so they can make a difference.
Peacemakers go out of their way to invade places and spaces that are maybe difficult, believing that if they do, that God can move, heal or save, and be glorified.
I would even go as far as to say they get in the fight as a way of bringing healing, not avoiding a fight to ignore the issues.

Which one would you like to be today?

Something to think about...

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

#blessed 06

Jesus actually taught on how to be #blessed.
Sitting on a hill and speaking to anyone curious enough to listen. Little by little, sentence by sentence, step by step, He paints a clear pattern and picture for us today.

"Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God."
Matthew 5:8 niv

And I hear all the time believers saying that they want to see Him and see Him even more.
It is pretty clear from what Jesus was saying, that there is way you can see God.

So what is the key here that Jesus is mentioning?
For you and I to see God we need be "pure in heart".

I don't always dive into the original language to help understand scripture but in this case it is such a help...
The Greek word for “pure” is katharos.
It means to be “clean, blameless, unstained from guilt.”
The Greek word for “heart” is kardeeah.
This can be applied to the physical heart. But it also refers to the spiritual center of life.

I am firm believer you can not purify your heart on your own. That is way David prayed for it and he was called a man after God's own heart.
If you, to the very best of your ability have a single minded passion to follow Jesus, keeping your heart from bitterness and cynicism, seeking Him with everything you have...you will see God.
You will see at work in your life, those around you and all over the world.

From my own experience I find it harder to see God at work in any form when I lose focus on him and my heart becomes tainted for whatever reason.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Thanks for asking what I did in the weekend...

Sorry about the title, just trying to get your attention to tell you what I did over the weekend because it was pretty cool!

This was the 3rd year in a row I have had the privilege of being part of something called Easterfest.
It is this amazing Easter weekend adventure in Taupo where Taupo Churches including our own Elim Church, join forces to do something bigger together than what we could do apart.
From what we know so far, it appears that this was our biggest event yet.

I have been reflecting today on why this event 'worked' and thought I would share those ideas.
Maybe there is something you can take from it personally or for in your own Church circles?

People respond to a vision
We had a guest speaker for our Sunday night who is a very sort after man. When I sent a simple email asking him to come he replied in less than an hour saying yes. That was a huge shock to me!
When we finally got to talk on Sunday I asked why he responded?
His answer was nice and simple - vision!
Even though my sentences were short on ultimate detail, he saw the vision and that is what God used to stir his heart to come.

Do you have a vision for something special in God?
Share it with others not worrying about all the detail and see who joins with you.
Have you been stirred by someone else's vision?
Can I encourage you join in on it and let God take you on an adventure you could never have possibly dreamed up for yourself.


People respond to something bigger
Some people think it is not spiritual but I disagree...
We are pre-wired I believe to want to part of something bigger, something that matters, something of significance. I love being a following of Jesus in part because I am now part of something huge called the Kingdom of God.
People were drawn to Easterfest in the 1000's because it was big.
It was bigger than my Church right now and I am ok with that.
It also gave I believe an opportunity for our people to have a vision about what God could do in each Churches, if people bought into the vision of reaching the world.


People respond to the gospel
Most of our weekend was based around the basics of our faith centred on the death and resurrection of Christ. And 1000's came to listen, to watch and experience.
Did they come because it was the best? Not sure that was the key. I think God blessed us because we focused on the gospel first and entertainment second. We lifted Him up first and foremost.

If you want to help others connect with God, don't panic about proving how cool, popular or knowledgeable you are. Focus first on the gospel and see what God does with that?

Something to think about...

And see you at Easterfest in 2019!


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

What's the deal with Palm Sunday?

In my circles there has been talk of something called Palm Sunday recently...
It is on more traditional Churches and expressions of christian faith calendars, remembering a moment in history, where Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.

It is recorded in Luke 19:28-42 that just before his crucification, Jesus rode into town and people laid palms, some even their cloaks on the rode before him. They also worshiped as he rode by.
What an amazing scene if you take the time to think about it!
In literally a few days this same man they are going out of their way to honour, is going to be brutally murdered. And yet in this moment there is giving, joy, celebration, peace...it would be a very beautiful and spiritually powerful time for those participating.

In all my pondering this occasion I couldn't help but wonder what that means for me here in 2018?
What does Palm Sunday say to me if anything?
Can my time leading up to Easter be as possibly meaningful?
Can it have an impact on my life as it no doubt did for this in Jerusalem that day?

Here are the two questions I have myself...
What can I bring?
And when I ask myself what I can bring, I am actually am asking myself what of value can I lay down for Him to honour Him.
Those people didn't lay down a spare cloak they no long needed. They laid down their cloak, maybe the only one they had.
They laid down something that cost them something.

How can I worship?
Faced with the occasion and action they took, another heart response poured fourth.
They choose to worship Him with song, with words of adoration and faith. There was no way they weren't going to let their hearts bust out in praise.

Something to think about...



Wednesday, March 21, 2018

You are not alone...

I has personally discovered that making a stand, giving of yourself for God, can on some level feel a little lonely, leave you potentially feeling vulnerable...but are you really as you feel?

What about when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were thrown into a fiery furnace for their stand in faith? 
I wonder if they felt a moment or two of vulnerability or the fact the whole known world was against them? In the end their feeling didn't dictate the result and they found themselves in the middle of the worst their enemy could do to them, Jesus beside, and came through completely unharmed.

What about the prophet Elijah who felt like he was the only one who was really trying to live for God? 
He wasn't the only one, as God had 'kept a remnant for himself'.
When we was tired, down and wanting to give up, God supernaturally supplied what he needed to be restrengthened again.

Today if you are feeling a little on your own can I encourage you with these words?
You aren't alone!
Jesus is with you. A great crowd of witnesses are cheering you on. You have people around you who are praying for you.
You aren't vulnerable!
Jesus is right beside you. God has sent angels to minister to your situation. Let who God puts in your life encourage you.
You aren't without hope!
In fact we have all the hope we need when we look to Jesus.

Something to think about...

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

#blessed 05

Jesus actually taught on how to be #blessed.
Sitting on a hill and speaking to anyone curious enough to listen. Little by little, sentence by sentence, step by step, He paints a clear pattern and picture for us today.

"Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy."
Matthew 5:7 niv

Jesus words so well match the many others found throughout scripture....
"whoever refreshes others will be refreshed". Proverbs 11:25
"A man reaps what he sows". Galatians 6:7

There maybe will be a time for each of us where we will desperately want others to show us mercy?
You can prepare for that day by living for it today.
Showing mercy to others, whether they deserve it or not.
It is the Jesus thing to do. From the women caught in adultery to the lady at the well and the many "sinners" He choose to give the best of himself for...His life and ministry reflected His heart of mercy.

Could you show some to someone else today?

Something to think about...

Monday, March 12, 2018

Are you like this guy?

Each of us can reach that moment...
Where we are tired, worn out, sometimes from even doing the right things for a protracted length of time. As someone rightly said years ago, we are 'human beings not human doings'.

- If you find your thoughts are tilting towards more negative that positive...
- That your conversations with God are more about what is wrong than praying for what could be right...
- If deep down your know your heart has become weary...
- Maybe your mood is darker. Your nerves a little frazzled...
Can I share something from scripture that I discovered recently?

Elijah the prophet has just had a major victory! (1 Kings 18)
After what was arguably one of the most demonstrative battles between faith in God and another god, a battle between one man and nearly a 1000, God shows up and answers in the most dramatic and miraculous way.
And yet within a short space of time you see Elijah venting to God about how much he wants to die! (1 Kings 19)
Shouldn’t this be a moment to savour in victory?
Shouldn’t he be riding a wave of ministry euphoria?
Why can’t this be a momentum moment to springboard his ministry to a book deal, speaking tour and more?...

He is tired.
He is worn out.

What is Gods advice to him?
Rest and Eat.
Seems too simple doesn’t it? Maybe that is why people like me actually struggle with it.
I naturally want a supernatural importation of strength, a shundy bundy moment.
While they are awesome, maybe God wants to do it different for you right now?

God wanted him to rest and eat, because there was more to do.
Struggling on in his own strength was clearly never going to work. And it was going to stop him from being more effective in the kingdom.

So today how does this simple thought find you?
Emotionally, physically, spiritually well or maybe the opposite?
Has the weight of ministry and serving in your current finally got you a bit empty and flat?
Come on and rest and eat.
I give you permission to let God minister to your very soul...

Something to think about...

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

#blessed 04

Jesus actually taught on how to be #blessed.
Sitting on a hill and speaking to anyone curious enough to listen. Little by little, sentence by sentence, step by step, He paints a clear pattern and picture for us today.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled."
Matthew 5:6 niv

I actually have come to believe you will find what you are looking for...
Not some new age, woolly woofter kind of thing, but you will get what you go for in life and in faith.

If you are hungry, maybe even desperate to find God...
To see Him move in your life...
If you pray for and expect Him to answer prayer...
If your hope is firmly rooted and established in Him, it will never be left wanting!
Jeremiah 29:13 tells us we will find him if we seek Him. Meaning for me that God is not hard to find and is actually keen for us to seek Him out...

On the other hand, if you are tired and even cynical...the world and your faith we seem the same.
If you think the world is out to get you and there is no hope, you will probably be right. You are actually being prophetic over your life in a negative way.

My other observation here is that Jesus seems to be alluding to something related to eating, drinking and the natural order of sustenance?
In the natural and the spiritual things can be mirrored for us, so what are feeding yourself on today? Hope, faith, love and a healthy expectation of an amazing Father in Heaven or the opposite?

Something to think about...