Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Maybe the answer is "better"?

I probably watch too many clips on youtube...
Even last night I did an audit of all the clips saved in my watch list and realised it needed a cull.
One thing I have noticed is that people on that platform and elsewhere are pretty passionate and sometimes outright angry about many things.
I not against said passion. It just seems most simply want to destroy.
Destroy what they don't like. Take it down. Take it out.
And in that destruction they hope things will be better...

So I have been thinking lately about what is the best approach to improving things in our world.
Should we go thermo nuclear on every issue or is there a better way, a better approach?

I ultimately believe Jesus came not to merely destroy, but to make things better.
In fact Jesus is famously recorded as saying “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matthew 5:17niv). Jesus didn't come to destroy anything except the devils work in peoples lives. He came to continue making things better.
His goal of helping people be right with God was not about destroying everything.
He did all that He did to make things right, to makes things better.

If you are anything like me you want the world to be a better place than it is.
But to make it better, don't set about to destroy it.
Ask God today what you could do right now to influence the world...
Ask Him for ideas on how you can make your sphere better just by you being in it...
Ask Him what being salt and light practically means right now for you...

Nehemiah heard about the walls of Jerusalem being broken down and prayed for months.
God put it on his heart to make things better. To build a wall even though he had no experience in wall building.
The desire to make things better outweighed his skills and resources and yet history tells us his desire and action created a better place for God's people.

Can I encourage you to approach things a little different?
Instead of saying someone you know is terrible or bad, ask God how you might help them to be better?
Instead of criticising everything around, like the government, even the Church, ask God to show you how you could make things better. What could you offer to do? What could you give? In what way could you serve?

Nehemiah made things better brick by brick. One life involved at a time.
You can change the world for the better.
Let God show you how this week.

Something to think about...

Monday, June 10, 2019

Feeling better by comparison?

I bet you have compared yourself to someone else at some stage.
We all have...
It probably elicited some sort of an emotional response. Either it made you feel better or worse depending on the person/situation you compared yourself to.

Some years ago I heard a testimony which kind of pricked my attention, not because it was great, but because it disturbed me greatly. I wish now I handled it better afterwards, where I spoke to the person involved, but I didn't and that is on me!
Anyway, they said they used to get down on life when they compared themselves to others seemingly more successful than them. Their "revelation" was to compare themselves with those not doing as well, and that apparently made them feel better. The scary thing was that they thought that was a valid and godly approach...

Now I am a Pastor.
Honestly we as Pastors can be the very worst at this!
Not with the people we minister to or the like, but how we measure success in our ministry, in our leadership, in our Churches.
Even after leading our Church for 10 years I am still stupidly comparing myself. Why?
Because probably deep down I am looking for validation, encouragement and a sense of value from all these years of service.
The problem is for guys like me, it always appears that everyone else is doing a better job because our Church is still considered very small when 'compared' to the average Church. When 'compared' to those we are encouraged to learn from and their successful building of super large and influential faith families, I seem to be coming up woe-fully short.
To be further honest, on a bad day, it is positively soul destroying - please note the mixed language...
There is nothing positive about. It can bring me to a very low point very quickly.

Galatians 6:4-5 days this...
4Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5for each one should carry their own load. (niv)

The idea is that you should only gauge your life, ministry or even success simply on whether you have done your very best to honour God in it. You can only carry your own burden. You can't carry someone else's or measure yourself well with someone else's.

2 Corinthians 10:12 pushes this point further...
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. (niv)

Paul I think is saying to not even dare to do it. It is unwise. Doesn't achieve much benefit either way.

Then I think he sobers us up further with this comment...
Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Galatians 5:26 niv

If you compare up you feel stink.
If you compare down you act kind of stink.

All you and I can do is ask ourselves the honest questions...
Are we doing everything we can to honour God with what we are attempting for the Kingdom?
Are we looking first and foremost to Him to validate us?
I find this really hard and a challenge personally.

Something to think about...

Friday, June 07, 2019

This was me but is not me anymore!

Have you had anyone ever throw your past back in your face?
That nasty moment when someone tries to run you down based on who you used to be?

There were plenty of people around Jesus who had a 'past':
- Mary Magdalene used to be a prostitute
- Matthew used to be a tax collector (traditionally ripped people off)
- Thomas became known one day as 'Doubting Thomas'.
Just to name a few...

I wonder if sometimes people attacked them with their past mistakes?
Trying to be-little them because they failed, misstepped, missed the mark expected by others and probably even by themselves?
I have been disturbed sometimes to hear people describe others they know by their past and leave it at that - I think in some way as to make themselves feel better, because they weren't a prostitute or a swindler or a doubter.

Paul helped sum up his life to Timothy in a letter he once wrote him...
1 Timothy 1:12-16 niv
12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

It is like he is saying "I was a plonker, maybe even the worst one ever, but I thank God He saved me. I am not that person anymore."

I care and I don't care about your past!
I totally get that you and I have one. Maybe even one we are not proud of?
What I most care about is who you are now in Christ and who you will become going forward on your journey of faith!

Don't worry when someone tries to throw your past in your face.
If you know that is just your past, then ignore them.
They are just bitter and in desperate need of the love and grace of God right now themselves. They are probably venting their heart burning frustration with their own struggles.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 niv
17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Paul's advice to you and me is to remember that we are actually being transformed. Maybe not always in the way or pace we like, but being altered on the altar of His grace none-the-less.

Ignore your haters. They are just haters.
Focus on Christ and what He has done and is doing in your life!
That was me but it is not me anymore!

Something to think about...



Sunday, June 02, 2019

We still love Tacos

This fun and thought provoking sign appeared in one of my social medias feeds this last week.
It certainly got me thinking! As you might have expected, I related it back to a relationship with God...


I think most of us like the idea of God being able to meet our needs and wants. Like God giving us a new car when we want one, a better house, a great parking space.
I have also discovered that many people are nervous about God getting too much into their personal life and space. Sometimes out of fear, sometime out of a low faith quotient, and sometimes because they want to keep Him away from certain areas.

What I would love you to discover with me today is that God wants the very best for you!
He is really good at fixing broken people with broken lives. Just look at His disciples and followers and you see a measure even in those examples. From deniers, to protestutes, to the impulsive and arrogant. Exposure to the love of God through Jesus Christ can and will change you if you let it!

I want a God who can alter me, change me, heal me, make me better!

Psalm 147:3 says that God "heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
God wants to alter you on the altar and help you discover who you were designed to be all along.
The devil robs, kills and destroys, but God bring life!

If you need some "fixing" more advice will be nice but not exactly what you might need?
How about being brave with me and God and coming to the altar of grace again today.
Pour out your heart to Him. Ask for your healing. See what God can do...

Something to think about...

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Decision Navigation

I was thinking this morning about the day ahead and the share number of potential decisions that will need to be made.
In the course of my normal weekly routine, I actually make hundreds of them.
Some are easy, others not so.
Some don't have major consequences if I get them wrong, while others have major consequences if I do get them wrong.
People each and every day ask me to help guide their decision navigation. In those moments I truly hope I help them and not hinder them.

So how do you decision navigate during your day?
Is there a strategy that works best?
Is experience working for us every time?
Do I delay some choices paralysed by analysing the potential cost of getting it wrong?

Before I do my best to give a simple answer, trust me when I say I am not always super confident in my decision navigation. What I can honestly say is that I do my very best.
Faith is the hallmark of every believer, meaning faith in Christ is tied to my decision navigation. If I think God wants me to do such and such, I don't need to feel 100% about it, faith in God is my anchor.

My approach has been refined over the years...

  • Most days I pray and ask God to help me to get it right.
  • Then I ask the Holy Spirit multiple times a day to guide my choices, through my conscience, words or any other means He might want to use.
  • Then I back myself. And when I say that I maybe aren't backing myself in the traditional sense of having all confidence in myself. It is more than not based on confidence in Him.
God promises each of us that He will never leave or forsake us.
The Holy Spirit was sent to earth after Jesus ascension to be the ultimate counsellor. I believe a key role He has in each of our lives is to purposefully help us make the best choices.

Can I encourage you today to simply pray?
Ask as many times as you like and feel the need, for the Holy Spirit to lead you in your decision navigation.
It should bring your more success than not.
It should bring you a measure of peace.
It should help you to enter into everything the God has for you today.

Something to think about...

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The reality of fantasy...

Why am I not surprised that a whole bunch of loyal viewers to Game of Thrones are venting their displeasure? I seem to recall maybe similar feelings when Lost closed out its many seasons of entertaining my wife and I. In the end I felt like I was lost...

While these stories draw us in, many times they leave us wanting.
Maybe that is the reality of fantasy?

Fantasy is such a powerful thing.
It can take you to places in your soul. Maybe give you a perceived relief for a time.
I can't help but wonder whether our desire for fantasy is a mixture of escapism and a drug of choice for many of us?

While I haven't watched GOT, I do sympathise with those wrestling in their disappointment.
Your fantasy world has ended and now what?
Maybe you fantasy turned into a nightmare? Judging by the venting on social media that might very well be the case? 

Some people accuse people like me of living in a fantasy world.
That following Jesus is like believing in a tooth fairy or similar?
I would rather have others perception of fantasy over a TV show any day!
Following Jesus has changed my life for the better in many ways.
A TV show can only distract me for a moment.

Something to think about...



Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Have I made it?

One of the challenges I face as someone with a role of communicating what I hope are the truths of life and faith, is that I don't want to come across negatively.
It is easy to pick holes in things.
Easy to see the negative in situations and people.
So before I fire off a thought that might be confronting, let's start with something encouraging...

I am teaching a series in our Church right now called Alter Altar.
It is based around a conviction I carry.

"God loves you and accepts you just the way you are.
But He also loves you far too much to leave you just the way you are!"

I also believe that until you go to spend eternity with Christ (after you die), that there is always something for you to do on this earth and a work that God wants to do in you.
Your life journey is about a mixture of knowing God for yourself, being made more and more in His image, and seeing your life help bring something of heaven to earth.

Jesus shares a story one day that has many powerful meanings for us.
It is about two men.
One a religious person who apparently in his own eyes is "all good".
The other is a man who in his own eyes and those probably around him, is known as a man with "issues".
Mr "Got-it-all-together" reveals a lack of having it all together and a desperate need of God's grace when he says "Thank you God that I am not like that sinner over there" referring to our 2nd character.
It truly frightens me that there is a possibility that we could become this man or a version of him.
That we could think we have reached a place in life and faith where we better than others.
I have seen and experienced people like this.
There are very difficulty to lead in the life of a Church Family!
Check out what our 2nd guys says for a moment...

13“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 18:13-14 niv

Can I encourage to open your heart today to the Spirit of God and allow Him to help us ascertain your own heart? Are you more man 1 or man 2?

Paul said he is a man being poured out for Christ.
Jesus said for us to take up our cross daily.
I approach this whole idea as though I need to stay on the altar.
To allow God the opportunity to finish the work He began in me.
He calls "good work", so no matter the pain, no matter any questions, the results will be good.
It is like in a sense for me that we need to stay humble and hungry and honest.

Can I encourager you to get back on the altar today?
Because God aint finished with you yet!

Something to think about...


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

I got wronged...now what?

My family and I recently treated ourselves to some takeaway burgers and fries from a major New Zealand franchise chain with a more premium market approach.
In fact for the last 10 years of living in Taupo they have been our burger of choice.

To save standing around after ordering in-store I used their online system.
Paid. Then travelled a reasonable distance there and back home.
It was only when I came home I discovered the order had a small mistake. Something of lesser value replaced something I ordered. A bit disappointing, but not enough to be incensed about. The earth was still going to spin on its axis and the sun was still going to come up the next day.

Even though I knew they were busy I thought a simple to call the manager was in order, only to let them know about the issue so they could avoid it in the future maybe? Honestly I wasn't going for free stuff to alleviate my potential "pain, suffering and offence".
As expected I got an answerphone, so preceded to leave a simple message about the fault.

Sometime later after not receiving a reply I emailed their head office just to let them know.
They said they would followup.
Another few weeks past and I haven't heard anything, so send another message to head office.
You are smart, you already know where this is going! It was just a cycle of silly...

2 months later I get a call from a 'manager'.
He seems real genuine and wants to make things right by sending me some meal vouchers.
I thank him profusely and reaffirm I was not gunning for that as the response but certainly appreciated the gesture.

With excitement I let my family know we should be having something nice for dinner this week.
The vouchers would be appreciated by us all.
Yesterday they arrive in the mail. And when I opened it, salivating as I pondered my evenings burger choice, I discovered it was vouchers for some fries.
2 months of messages, emails and calls for some fries.

Honestly I am laughing.

As I have had 24 hours to think on this little journey, I have come to realise we face moments like this throughout our live. And when we do, we face response choices.
Do I defend my honour? Or should I just ignore it and move on?
Should I exact a price from those who have wronged me? Wouldn't that be right to teach them a lesson?

As a Christian this is a palpable dilemma for me.
I think I oscillate between two schools of thought that I will try and summarise from scriptures that we are taught regularly.

The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Deuteronomy 28:13 niv

Based on this I should defend my honour and act like someone who is not a tail.
My life is not a butt end, but my position is the top end.
I am child of the King so I am someone and deserve to be treated with respect.

...Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 1 Corinthians 6:7 niv

Jesus also amazingly taught that we should turn the other cheek.
That being wronged and responding with grace undeserved is His way of doing things.

I think I am looking to encourage you to consider this with me...
When we are wronged to first prayerfully consider your approach.
Should I defend myself or relent?
Should I in whatever case, right a perception of being wronged or let it slide?
We should ask the Holy Spirit to guide our conscience and the resulting response.

As for me and my house...I am looking forward to some fries.
Time to move on and live my life!

Something to think about...


Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Even if God doesn't, I still will...

It has been something I have been thinking about during my times of prayer and reflection this week...
Even if God doesn't, I still will...
Sometimes it feels more like a question than a statement.
Sometimes it feels more like what I want to believe.

In my over quarter century of trying my best to do what I believe He wants me to do, I have certainly faced a few moments of question.
What if moments.
Where I wonder how I will be and will react if God doesn't do what I hope He will do?
Sometimes it has been the timing of something.
I truly hoped and prayed for an answer to come by a certain time, and that time has passed without my prayer being answered like I hoped?

Maybe you can relate?

Dena Martin Joseph phrased it like this...
Even if He doesn’t…
Even if He doesn’t save my marriage.
Even if He doesn’t heal my child.
Even if He doesn’t provide me with a new job.
Even if He doesn’t save me from bankruptcy court.
Even if He doesn’t give me a relationship with my estranged father.
Even if He doesn’t rescue my spouse from addiction.

Whatever your "even if He doesn’t" might be - I want to encourage you to hold on to what you already have as you look to your future with a measure of hope in Him.

17Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
18yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 esv

That is a big point for me!
Salvation...
If God only gives me salvation am I ok with that?
Scripture and God's character clearly show He wants to and does do far more that for us, because He is our Father and we are his children.
But I want to be ok with God and what He does.
I want to have truly in my heart "even if God doesn't, I still will..."
I still will follow, I will still trust, I will not give up in the hope I have in Him...even if what I am looking for personally doesn't happen now, later or even ever!

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego famously replied to a king determined to be honoured above God...

17If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.
Daniel 3:17-18 niv

I am praying for myself.
And I am praying for you...
That even if God doesn't ________, we will still trust Him!

Something to think about...

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Am I at the centre?

I have been thinking today this one thing...
Am I at the centre of God's will, His plan right now for my life?

At the same time I felt drawn to consider what my measurements are? To consider also just who am I am comparing my journey and current station with?
Wondering what is really happening in my heart and what is my conscience that God has given and ordained, saying to me?

I am a pastor as my 'job'. It is an amazing opportunity and something I dreamed of for a long time before it came to be.
At the same time I have spent too many moments questioning whether it is 'working', am I doing it 'right', am I at centre of God's will for my life and 'ministry'?
Those questions came thick and fast when I am not being as successful as I hoped and expected.
You see, you and I in our western faith circle equate obvious success and blessing with being right with God. If we are doing well it is all because we are right with God, being lead well by His Spirit.

As I pondered this today again, I couldn't help but think of the extremes of this thinking...
On one hand I see leaders like me but far more successful and influential. They have Churches that don't seem to stop growing each week. They are blessed with the best of many things.
On the other I see all around the world others being tortured and even murdered for their faith in Christ.
To which you have to ask, "who is at the centre of God's will?"
And if you are honest and basing it on His Word and His will, His historic model and way of doing things...you will probably conclude both are at the centre?

The Bible narrative is amazing and diverse, even to what being in the centre of God's will actually looks like...
There were Prophets who knew God well, yet had to live in very trying times.
There were others who went through dramatic seasons of high and lows, where ministry moments were spectacular, but then faced very dark nights of the soul following.
Others waited decades to see what God had promised.
Others never saw everything God revealed would happen.
If you want to read with me where I am coming from, take some time to check our these passages from Hebrews.

My only suggestion for you and me is too simple for many!
They want a prophet to tell them. Or a pastor.
They want their circumstances to indicate their being right in God.
Others want experiences in the Spirit to indicate the same.
All of those are fine, but are not all together accurate in the sense of the God's big picture.

I have learned that you have to be honest with yourself and God...
There is no other way!
Through prayer and petition.
Through service.
Through seeking Him on your own and with a faith family.
Through genuine care of others.
That is the path the centre.

When you know, you will know a true measure of peace.
There is no more questioning at a level that robs you of His peace because you are being blown backwards and forwards. Comparison to others faith journey should either encourage you or cause you to have compassion, not send into an emotional tail spin.

Today may this help you if you are wrestling with where you are at...
May God lead you and bring you comfort whatever the place you face.
Keep looking to Jesus and you will always be at the centre of all God has for you.
His face is shining on you no matter what my friend!

Something to think about...


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Learn the Language

I had the biggest honour over the previous weekend as part of Easterfest, to be part of a Powhiri.
But I was shocked to learn in the lead up to it, that not only was I being asked to speak at it, I was being asked to speak part of it in language I didn't know...
So with only 2 days to go, I began to learn some of the Maori Language or Te Reo as they call it, to prepare.
That involved someone speaking the phrases into my phone as I recorded it. It involved me having it written down. And then it was up to me to simply go over it again and again. To immerse myself as much as I could - to learn the language.

Something about that experience and brief story might help you today navigating prayer and how to talk the language that Christians think they should have?
I still remember wrestling with what words were right for a believer when I first began my journey of faith.
Wondering how I should pray, the language to use?
How to explain my faith to others?

Something I discovered early on is that the Bible is the ultimate language class!
It actually teaches you the language of the Kingdom.
Yes we have our English variations and our cultural quirks, but essentially it shows through how Jesus spoke to God and others, others interactions with God, some keys to the language.

If you are wondering what language to use, have a look first at Jesus life in the Gospels and carry on from there.
The example I started with applies as well.
Take the time to listen to others speaking the language.
Begin by copying it for yourself.
Through repetition and time it will become yours, it will become natural and it will become supernatural.

Something to think about...

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

What's so amazing about Easter? #4

4. Amazing Opportunity

You and I have an amazing opportunity...
We can discover the true and full meaning of Easter for ourselves.
It is not just a festival or a holiday. It was always meant to be a beacon of opportunity!

Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty".  John 6:35 niv

By accepting Jesus as your saviour you will no longer have a hunger that can never be fully satisfied.
Chocolate, Hot Cross Buns will come and go, and you willbe hungry again.
Even if you over indulge, you will be back again the following year...
Relationships, things, come and go, and yet your heart longs for something better, more satisfying somehow.

The Bible says that your opportunity to something better rests on simple belief, faith, and declaration.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 niv

Something to think about...

What's so amazing about Easter? #3

3. Amazing Result

What helps make Easter so amazing is that the story doesn’t stop there...
He rose from the dead.
Was seen by a large number of people.
Appeared to the disciples and showed them the holes in his hands, feet and his pierced side.
He restored leaders. Healed relationships. Changed so many lives.

But this was not some supreme party trick!

[Jesus] gave himself as a ransom for all people.
1 Timothy 2:6 niv

Because Jesus paid the price, paid the ransom if you like...we can have freedom from our past, our shame, our mistakes.
Because if His sacrifice we can be made new.
We can each start again.
And can all have a relationship with God...

Something to think about...

What's so amazing about Easter? #2

2. Amazing Act

Giving your life is a pretty big deal!
If you have watched heroic scenes in movies like Saving Private Ryan, you see there is power in sacrificing ones life. We are moved by it.
What about when you hear of someone giving an organ for someone in need?
Again we are moved...

7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:7-8 niv

God loves loves the world, loves you personally, so he gave His son for you!
This is amazing because none of us deserve such a sacrifice.
I know I certainly don't deserve this and yet His grace is beyond amazing to and for me.
It is the same for you my friend...

Something to think about...


Saturday, April 20, 2019

What's so amazing about Easter? #1

1. Amazing Choice

You and I live in a world where we have an amazing array of choices.
When cars were first made available to the masses, you could have any colour you liked - as long as it was black. No you can choose all sorts of colours.
If you feel like a burger you can choose from making your
own to Burger King, Burger Fuel, McDonalds and more.
Want to buy some cereal? - you have at least 30 in the
local supermarket to pick from. Healthy, Unhealthy - even cardboard disguised as cereal...

But you and I don't get to make all the choices.
You don’t get to choose to be born.
Who our parents will be.
What station of life you will be born into.

Jesus is the only man who chose to be born.
And not just for the fun of it, he came with amazing plan, to give His life for you and me.
This is part of what makes Easter so amazing...

"...the Son of Man [Jesus] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 niv

What is powerful is the meaning...
When we read “for many” or "for us" the literal translation is actually "instead of us”...
Jesus amazing choice is to give His life in our place.
He choose to leave heaven, come to earth at just the right time. All His amazing choice...

Something to think about...

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Swear Cuss Beep Beep Beep

When I first decided to follow Jesus I was super careful not to swear anymore.
I remember getting abused by another driver around a week after my conversion and giving them finger, swearing at them, and then being overwhelmed with guilt.
For many years after I don't think I used another 'naughty word'
I was determined not too.

That was 1991.
This is 2019.
And I am now wondering to my shame if I have lost something?
I have at times struggled with my choice of words.
Even if I didn't say them out loud, I certainly thought them in my head

I read recently that it is ok to swear. To cuss.
To let out your frustrations in a verbal tirade.
An influential preacher was recorded dropping bombs all the through her recent message.
Others are saying that Jesus probably swore. How you could prove this I have no idea!

So I have been thinking about swearing, cussing and more recently.
Trying to work again what the deal is?
Is God ok with it? Is it simply a cultural cringe thing to just accept.

A few scriptures come to mind...

It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; 
you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”
Matthew 15:11 nlt

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:29 niv

Don't use dirty or foolish or filthy words. 
Instead, say how thankful you are.
Ephesians 5:4 cev

I am not trying to tell us whether we should or shouldn't swear.
I am encouraging us to consider what language we are using.
The choose of words we select. The message we convey.
Scripture is clear that words are super important.
They are the deciding factor to whether we are clean or not.

Maybe the Holy Spirit is challenging you, me and the Church to keep an eye on our language because there is power in our words. And why waste that power using words that hurt others and ourselves.

David words in Psalm 19 have some impact on me today...

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14 niv

Something to think about...

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Spiritual Giant / Humble Follower

I see two tensions operating clearly for many in the faith today...

We all need to discover our identity in Christ, the position of authority that grants us, and the power we have to influence any part of our world.
We also need to discover our identity in Christ, where we do not think more highly of ourselves than we should, where we desire only to glorify the Father.

Israels first King was a guy called Saul.
His story relates so well to this tension.
When he is first introduced to his people as King they couldn't find him. That is because he was hiding, that's right hiding in the language. This is the same guy who was described as taller than most other men around him. And one day when he came into contact with the presence of God, launched into prophesying.

It seems this humility wasn't lasting or maybe not genuine in the first place?
Not long after all this, as King he accuses David falsely many times, attempts to kill him numerous times and shows contempt for those closest to him.
He went from overly humble (hiding in the luggage) to so self important he presented offerings he was never authorised to bring and gave into crowd pressure to keep his position.
His life ends on a hill surrounded by his enemies, needing his armour bearer to help him commit suicide. Hardly a glorious end to a life full of potential.

I think God wants us to believe we can make a difference without becoming a Saul in the process.

Galatians 3:26 says that you and I "are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." - meaning we have princely rights and authority based on that position.
Elsewhere we are told we are "seated with Christ in heavenly places", that we can "ask for anything in His name", that we can "speak to mountains and they will move".

But let us balance this with these words from Jesus...
 “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'” Luke 17:10 niv.

Humility will protect you from destroying yourself in your new found power.
Spiderman's Grandma shared some words of wisdom to a young Spidey one day..."With great power comes great responsibility".
I think we each have a responsibility to deal with our own hearts first and foremost.

My encouragement to you today is embrace these two things:
1. That you can be a spiritual giant.
2. That you should stay a humble follower.
Then you stay the distance, enjoy the journey, and finish your race well.

Something to think about...



Thursday, April 04, 2019

Don't get buried in the desert

I am super passionate about us all making it into our promised land.
Personally.
Corporately.

On that journey many of us can face desert moments.
Jesus had 40 days of it not long after He was baptised.
God's people under Moses had 40 long years.

If you are feeling like you are stuck in the sand.
Maybe imaging your life journey resembling a biblical sand pit?
Looking at your circumstances and your life like a drudge?
Maybe even feeling like it might not end anytime soon?

Please, please, please don't get buried in the desert.

People who get buried in the desert spiritually all have similar qualities when you refer to biblical examples.
They rebelled and broke all the rules.
They grumbled and complained.
While they felt justified, they ultimately missed out...

Conversely the people who survived their desert experience never pretended they weren't in one, they instead keep their eyes on the prize of their promised land.
They spoke in faith about the future.
They acknowledged that even when things didn't make sense, God was still most certainly in control, and they were exceedingly happy with that reality.
They even discovered the desert still includes the power and presence of God!

Scripture tells us to do this simple thing when the desert seems to be spiritual landscape...
Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23 niv 

Grumbly, complaining, criticising and more are ultimately unattractive and destructive.
Don't let them overtake you, define you, and even bury you.

My friend, hang onto your hope.
Scripture tells us that our hope will be rewarded.

Something to think about...



Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Everything has failed so let's just give up

People argue the war on drugs has failed because even with all the arrests and seizure of product, there are still drugs and still lives being ruined.
Their answer is drugs should be legal.
Ignoring their harm.
Ignoring the fact that many other lives have been saved from utter ruin.

People argue that marriage is dead and a patriarchal hangover.
I even heard over the weekend that marriage is only a recent anathema ignoring the fact it has been around for what we can figure is a minimum of 6000-7000 years!
The argument is that because a group of people fail (for all sorts of reasons) that it is stupid.
Their answer is to dump the institution.
Ignoring the lessons of history.
Ignoring many studies that show the benefit to all involved in a healthy marriage and home.
Ignoring on purpose the many great marriages through history.

People argue that religion is bad.
The bring up the chestnut of the crusades. The abuse of people who were terrible leaders. The Church is not perfect and on and on...
Their answer is to dump God altogether.
Ignoring the fact that more good has been done in the name of God than bad.
Ignoring the facts of history to prove their point.
Ignoring the power of God to change a life.

Maybe we should get rid of all cars because people unfortunately have died in them.
Get rid of food because it can potentially make you fat.
Hey let's ban everything and employ fun police...
Ok I better stop...

You don't have to have the same faith convictions as me to see our world is not perfect.
It is filled with people who wrestle with their 'own stuff'.
But I refuse to give up believing in a God whose ultimate desire to make things right.
His original plan still stands. A garden, a paradise, a closeness between God and man.
Let's not give up hope.
Let's not buy into the media bias all predicated on making them money.
Let's look to God and the fact He is our hope.

Something to think about...

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

I lost my confidence

When you lose your confidence it doesn't feel good.
In fact it can make a lot of other areas not feel good or right as well...
Lost confidence effects your mind, will and emotions.
By definition - it aint good!

So have you lost confidence lately?
Maybe in your career, your marriage or your ministry?
Maybe you have been wrestling with your confidence in God?

My hope is that this little example that has been helping me may also help you...

Around 3 years a go I first hurt my achilles.
As someone who really enjoys running this has been a challenge to me. Not only have I struggled to overcome it, I discovered it had sapped my confidence.
Every time I thought was getting better it wasn't.
Time wasn't healing it.
Resting wasn't healing it.

I decided I had to get over myself and my stubborn pride and visit a physiotherapist.
To be honest I was partly waiting for them to tell me my worst fears were founded. My achilles is not fixable. That maybe due to my age I should hang up my running shoes and take up lawn bowls?

But to my surprise the very opposite happened...

They told me they believe it is fixable. That I can be well again.
All of my sudden I felt my confidence slowly built even as they spoke.
Hope that I could be better and train properly bubbled up again.
I had walked into the clinic without much hope and left with hope rising.
My confidence barometer had started to climb again.

As I thought about all this I was struck by the fact God might be showing me something bigger than my challenge to my confidence, my achilles, to something that could help you and me at the same time.

If you have lost confidence here are 2 things I think you need right now.

Be Honest / Be Humble / Ask for Help
When confidence is low or you feel it is gone, the worst thing to probably do is attempt to rebuild it on your own. On your own you got to this point, with the right help you can rise again.
Put your hand up for help.
Be honest.

Understand that true confidence is not in you on your own.
I have discovered that confidence has come in many areas of my life not just thorough success, even though this makes a huge difference, but through someone else or maybe a few someone's.
If confidence was just a 'you' thing then talk yourself into it...go on!

The more realistic result achiever is to listen to someone who is either better than you, more experienced than you etc.
I went to a physio and they helped me grow in confidence.
Maybe for more personal or spiritual matters you could seek out a leader, a pastor, a trusted friend and even God?

Have you ever meet someone who is mega confident but potentially a bit deluded on their abilities or who they really are? There is mere confidence in themselves which has the potential to tip over to pride.
I am talking today about confidence within that is mastered with something greater from outside us, around us and for us.

...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 1:6 niv

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Psalm 27:13 niv

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

Something to think about...

Monday, March 25, 2019

21st Birthday

Exert from our Churches 21st Birthday Celebration...

21 years is a sure fine amount of time. And it is truly a significant birthday!
In our culture it is seen as a coming of age. Where someone goes from learning the basics of life and who they are, to stepping into their adulthood.
This birthday illustrates on new season.

Over the last few weeks preparing this day with our amazing team of volunteers, I have had opportunity to reflect.
As I poured over plenty of photos, memories in their various forms, I was struck by 21 years of impact. That impact is reflected in the many hundreds of lives Taupo Elim has been part of.

While a Church may be seen as a place, a sacred venue, a destination for the faithful and the seeker...its impact is a true measure of its value.
We may not be all we dream of right now, but we can be rightly proud of the impact Taupo Elim has made on lives we have had the honour to share our faith with. That impact is growing as we move in to our adult years as a faith family. Our influence is growing with our major event leadership.
We are impacting lives outside the walls of whatever space we meet in.

We have plenty to be thankful and even more to look forward to.
May today be a celebration for you as we come together.
And may you go from this moment looking to see what impact God can have in you, through you and being part of the Taupo Elim story…
Special thanks to Graham & Joy Webb, Stephen & Wendy Whitwell and Mike & Jordan Ford!
Your heart and legacy helped shape us today.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Love Never Forces

Can I be honest with you?
I sometimes am a little tired of people simply reciting the famous love chapter in the Bible...
If you are not familiar with it, you can check out in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. It simply to cool to just read through like a poem by some long dead writer!

It famously starts off by telling us what love isn't and then what love is.
I would encourage you to take your time reading every last word and meditating on the whole cool package it portrays.

Something occurred to me recently after pondering our world and how it is currently behaving and responding. Something I gravitated to while thinking about that in light of the "love chapter".
Love never forces.
Real love doesn't need to, because real love impacts everyone without the effort to make it such.

As a teenager most of us learn this the hard way.
We are attracted to someone and take our first stumbling bumbling steps towards what we think is the first and last true love of our loves. At some point one of you tries just too hard to make love happen.
When it fails, like it has for us all, I hear people ask what they did wrong, like they didn't try hard enough. You simply can't force love.

Right now our world needs real love, the love from the "love chapter".
Not love from the love boat or the love doctor.
It needs good old fashioned Biblical based love that can change any heart and change any situation.
We can't force it but we can surely express it...

Can I encourage you to read it and pray about how you can apply it to your place and space?

Something to think about...

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Conflict

One of the areas of life many of us want to avoid is conflict.
It feels yucky and scary. There is also sometimes the uncertainty of what will be the outcome. Will things be better or worse?
When I consider trying to live my life for cause of Christ, there are definitely moments where conflicts occur. Sometimes battles that rage within privately, sometimes when we clash with others.
Jesus faced His conflicts head on with Grace & Truth.

Whether confronting the issues and struggles the disciples had, dealing with religious and manipulative people, the conflict for our souls…Jesus dealt with it all.
Without His passion to do the right thing for us we would be very very lost still.

If you are facing conflict keep your heart drawn to Jesus.
Seek Him for any and every move you make.
Let God do a work in you and those you have conflict with.
Don’t run from conflict but let the Spirit of God lead you to handle it well.

Finally why not copy Jesus attitude?
Have a passion to do the right thing and never a revenge thing...

Something to think about...

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

WAHOO!

Regularly I hear two sounds when I am outside our house.
The flutter of parachute canopies opening and lots of wahoo!

We live very close to an airport and the skydive drop-zone.
When I heard it again this week it got me thinking...
Most of us want our faith to have wahoo in it.
Wahoo is a measure for excitement expressed through a vocal outburst. Something you don't want to hold back from uttering because it reflects just how excited you are.

The last thing I want for myself or for you is our faith to be boring.
There needs to many moments of wahoo over your faith journey!
Which got me thinking - how do you have them?
How do you make sure there is wahoo?

Very simply, one key guarantees wahoo for you!
Stepping out in faith by doing something that scares you.

When you jump out a plane doing a tandem skydive you are both excited and scared at the same time. Trust me in this, I have experienced it for myself.
You have faith in your jump master who you are attached to.
You have faith in their faith that the chute will open just as planned.
There is always faith and a little bit of scared.

If you are looking for wahoo right now can I make a few suggestions for you?

Instead of attending a Church, actually be the Church.
- Left you hands in worship, really participate!
- Sing with passion
- Give generously
- Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you all the way through the service and especially the teaching time
- Find someone to talk to after the service time closes
Trust me, if you actually engage completely there will be a wahoo for you.

Instead of looking at the world around you, be engaged with the world around you.
Do you know someone who is unwell or going through a tough time, why not offer to pray for them? Sure they might say no, but will more than likely say yes.
And how much wahoo would there be when God does a miracle?

Do you know someone who is lost? - offer them Jesus in a way they can relate to.
Yours and their wahoo is waiting just around the corner.

We all are little scared at times, but when you add faith you ultimately get the wahoo!

Something to think about...



Thursday, February 28, 2019

Pray - Delay - Hooray

Everyone wants to know how things work...
And when it comes to prayer, they certainly do!

There are a couple of things that are important I think to remember and then I want to encourage you with a story and thought to wrap this up...

God designed prayer as part of our relationship.
God is in heaven, and you are on earth - not really a startling revelation I know!
But we need a way of communicating until get to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
God created prayer kind of like Alexander Bell invented the telephone. So we can talk.
Yes I know it takes some time to get used to and build some confidence in, but it is worth connecting with Him this way!

God is always listening.
Scripture reminds us from beginning to end, that while God is in heaven, He is not unaware of your place in the world, what is happening to you and the things you want to say to Him.
He cares about the words you speak to Him so much that He collects them...

God is always responding.
Someone famously said many years ago that God always responds to our prayer with yes, no or wait.
While that is very simplistic, it is certainly true I believe.
God doesn't expect you to pray just for some religious observance.
Prayer is the key to seeing God move miraculously in any and every life.

Here is my story...
A man called Daniel prays one day. Felt moved too in some way.
21 days later an angel appears to him and says these words...
12...“Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.” Daniel 10:12-14 niv

This is this whole pray - delay - hooray I titled this with.
When you pray, God hears and He responds in the very best way for you.
Sometimes there is a perceived delay here on earth, but God has not delayed!
The moment you pray God responds!

So do not give up my friend!
Please be encouraged!
Pray, believe and expect.
Your answer is already on its way!

Something to think about...

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Power of 'Specific Prayer'

I have just recently realised I had done something in regards to prayer that works and had forgotten its power.

Late last year I prayed for financial help from God to help pay for something. Something that was not within my ability to do even if I tried and scrimped and saved.
Out of what seemed like nowhere someone offered to give me money towards this thing, and for some reason I have only just remembered that it was a prayer answered.

A very specific prayer.

In my first year if Bible College I needed an acoustic guitar.
Back then Churches didn't seem to like me leading from an electric, but I was a poor student and had no idea how I could buy one.
At a lecture on prayer one day the lecturer pulled me aside and asked me what I wanted from God right now. Very quickly I responded that I needed an acoustic.
To my surprise she didn't just dive in and pray with me, she asked me to be more specific.
What would it look like? Any special features?
On the spot I remember rattling off things from the top of my head under pressure. Cut away shape, something different looking to standard acoustics, gold hardware.
It was only a few weeks later that I was given cash from various sources and able to visit a local music shop, where I found a guitar like I pictured and prayed for.

A very specific prayer.

When a man by the name of Bartimaeus encountered this Jesus he has heard of before, his cry for help was very general.
He asked for mercy.
And that cry for mercy got the mercy givers attention.
But Jesus asks him to be more specific with his request.
Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?"
The blind man said to him, "Rabbi, that I may see again."

All along Bartimaeus wanted to see and yet all he thought he could do was ask for mercy...
There is nothing wrong with asking God to help!
But maybe there is something more powerful in asking specifically?

So what would you like God to do specifically for you right now?
Beyond the basics of life and living, what do you need from heaven that is impossible in the natural and only possible in the supernatural.
Can I encourage you to try being very specific in your prayer, because there is real power in that!

Something to think about...

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

I have another confession to make...

No I am not going to sing you a Foo Fighters song, and yes I have a confession to make...
Sometimes I have struggled to believe.

That's right this Pastor has struggled to believe that God will do what He promised.
That what He does for others, that He would do for me.
Not that He couldn't do it, just whether He would.

Now don't panic, I have not had a "crisis of faith" as they say in regards to God, my relationship with Jesus and/or my salvation.
Graciously ever since I gave my entire life to God in 1991 that has never been as issue. 
But I have had some struggles over the years. 
Maybe some of my journey might help you today?

We have heard God speak to us clearly and then faced many many years of waiting. While we have waited we have continued to serve and sacrifice with every last fibre of our being.
Maybe that is something you can relate to?

Many as well have the same experience as time goes by.
If you are not careful you can become jaded and cynical.
Your present struggle blinds you to the memory of what amazing things God has done in the past and most certainly can and wants to do again in the future.
I write this for you and for me!

To help here is a great illustration from scripture...

Jesus encounters a moment where a man with a seriously troubled son is seeking help.
He for whatever reason, convenience, opportunity or nervousness goes to the followers close to Jesus instead of going to Him directly. There is a ministry moment and it hasn't gone as hoped, the kid still has issues.

Jesus does his Jesus thing, He moves into the situation ready and willing.
The father says "...if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
Jesus response is this “‘If you can’?”
“Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Next there is a phrase that is super intriguing and telling, that was uttered by a desperate parent as he encountered this Jesus.
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 niv
Like what? You believe but don't believe? Which one is it?

Does Jesus rebuke the Dad who is struggling? No.
He meets and exceeds his expectations in one move, by healing his son of his afflictions.

If you and I are honest, this is us as well.
We believe and also have some space to believe some more.
There is capacity in each one of our spiritual lives for more honesty and more belief.

God is bigger than any box we can put Him in and larger than any revelation we have had so far.
I want to honestly come to Him and ask for help to believe for more.
I also want to see God move. To fulfil His promises.
I want to see God do what I read and quote....
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20 niv

When this Dad asked Jesus how things are supposed to work, how do we after this day see this happen again and again, Jesus response is simple and important.
He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer." Mark 9:29 niv

Pray for yourself and get prayer from others
It is hard to pray for us when we are struggling to believe. But it also the very best thing to do and source of your help and healing.
Just be honest with God and yet declare your belief in Him and His mercy and power.
Grab a friend or two and ask them to for you and with you.

Something to think about...


*Shameless Plug*
If you want to explore this more with me you are welcome to join us at Taupo Elim this Sunday where I am expanding on this. Or you can visit our Podcast Site once it gets uploaded after Sunday.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Broken Bottom

I have found that the world can sometimes give you a weight you just can't carry. Then when you fail, it seems to take joy in reminding you that you failed.
It is an irony that it came up with the dumb idea, then rubs it in your face when the self fulfilling prophesied failure comes to pass.

Within a few weeks of starting school I had a memorable experience...
Growing up on a farm, we had to take a local school bus to get to school. Our bus driver doubled as the local store owner so sometimes he dropped off groceries to farmers wives while on the route.

As a scrawny little 5 year old I climbed on the bus one morning.
The driver asked me to lift a carrier of milk and place it on the ground where I had just been standing and waiting.
The problem was as I staggered back down the bus steps with this load of milk, I knew it was too heavy and that I was in trouble. As much as I tried not to fail I failed. My placement of said carrier was to uncontrolled and down with a thud the milk went. It happened pretty quickly from memory and the white liquid started to leak out onto the gravel below it.
I had accidentally broken every single bottle.
Couldn't have down it better if I tried.
Even though I had been brought up with the phrase "don't cry over spilled milk", the sentiment was unable to stop my own leaking, thankfully from my eyes not anywhere else...

That ride to school that day was the worst in my memory.
I felt guilty. Felt like I had let the driver down, my family down and especially the poor person who hoped to find fresh milk to conveniently collect that morning.

Maybe you are feeling guilty today?
Maybe feeling like you let yourself down or others or even God?

Can I say to you that maybe the load you have carried wasn't all your fault?
The devil wants to load you up in failure and guilt as a way to drive you from God and cause you not to believe in yourself.
But God has a load you can carry with His divine help.
Jesus even said 20Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 niv

Today trade your load and burdens for something better.
Trade the weight the world wants to give you for His grace.
Be free from unhealthy weights and expectations.
And come away with Jesus.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Church is Terrible!

I have to admit that when someone critiques my Church or the Church in general I have to be very careful.
There is a part of me that gets defensive.
It is easy to want to bite back to some claims levelled at us in general.

This happened again to me very recently where someone was pointing out their case for where 'the Church' has failed.
I prayed under my breath, did my best to hold my nerve, and spoke at the same time as I was trying to learn.
I am first to admit the Church, even my Church has areas where we are weak and even fail.
But I am also adamant that the Church, and my Church, have done more good than bad over a lifetime.

I was shocked to see a conference being promoted today on how to be a bad Christian, as though it was the new revelation on how to be one?
The speaker list includes people burned by the christian experiences, others are affirmed atheists, another lives in a way that is opposite to how scripture teaches us - and they are speaking on the relevance of using scripture...
This is not going to fix the issues we have!
But our issues aren't as big as the God we serve and what good He has done in and through His people for generations.

We are allowed ask hard questions of ourselves.
Others are allowed to do the same.
Maybe we need to apply grace and truth to that process even more purposefully.

Here's a couple of thoughts/points to ponder...

"Put a bunch of sinners saved by grace together and you don't instantly get perfection"
You naturally get the opposite.

Churches generally are groups of people at different stages and places in their journey, mixed with others wrestling with it or even new to it.
Throw a sex addict into this place with a puritan and see what happens.
Throw a thief in this place...
Throw a liar, a racist, a cheat, a blasphemer...as well into the mix.
After many decades of being part of God's amazing Church I love the fact I have seen amazing transformations, lasting transformers happen with Christ and His Church.
We are messy yes - but we are also always believing for something supernatural to change our natural.

"When people meet and Jesus is not the centre, you get drama, you potentially even get abuse"

I have seen renewal and restorations of relationships that were an utter disaster.
And I have seen people accuse each other of satan worship and worse if there is anything worse.
I have seen powerful moments of ministry where someone is healed or changed before our eyes.
And I have seen others curse each other in the middle of a worship time.
Love one, loathe the other with a passion.
A common denominator for me is the presence of or absence of Jesus being the centre, as to the outcome.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 says something about this that is pretty key for me personally and the Church...
17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

There is a process we are part of that God is orchestrating.
He is transforming us step by step into a glorious bride for Him to come and collect one day soon.
Let's let Him do that work...

Romans 12:2 tells us that God is transforming our minds, our thinking.
Let's let Him continue that work...

Matthew 5:48 shares Gods ultimate goal for you and the Church...perfection.
Let's let Him achieve that goal...

Philippians 3:12-14 explains the concept of not being perfect yet, but doing all we can with Jesus as the centre to give us the best shot of making it...

I love the Church and all its flaws because of the flawed people involved.
I want it and us to alway strive to be better.
I am believing for the Church to continue to grow up, reach out and thrive.
And I am committed to only having Jesus at the centre!

Something to think about...


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Gospel according to Marie Condo

In my decades alive I have seen many popular ideas arise, trends that come on very quickly...and then disappear again sometimes just as fast...
Right now the name Marie Condo is appearing all over the place.
If you haven't heard of her, she is mega popular right now selling the idea of an organised and decluttered home bringing ultimate peace to your life.

I did my own research. Watched her show.
Researched her background.
Actually I could only watch one episode of her TV programme...
At the moment this lady prayed to the house and thanked it for its service she lost me.
Now I am not against being grateful for the roof over my head. It is just the roof didn't put itself there. I believe God had more to do with that...

My wife loves her rolling up and colour coding the t-shirts, I guess I can live with that?
And we all like the idea of less clutter being good for us emotionally and practically.
Those parts are all cool and harmless.

But can I encourage you to seek peace for your life and home from an even higher source than Marie? Supernatural peace supersedes the fad of decluttering.
God wants to bring peace to your life and home even if the socks don't match, or your kids are a mess, or you haven't folded the washing in many many days.

Just my thoughts and something to think about...

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace 
at all times and in every way. 
The Lord be with all of you. 
2 Thessalonians 3:16 niv

May the God of hope fill you with all joy 
and peace as you trust in him, 
so that you may overflow with hope 
by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
Romans 15:13 niv

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Check yourself

Watch your life and doctrine closely. 
Persevere in them, because if you do, 
you will save both yourself and your hearers. 
1 Timothy 4:16 niv

A very influential Church Leader is being reported to have told his people to not worry about the 10 commandments. According to his recent sermon he sites different New Testament passages to back his thoughts.
Many are expressing concern over his doctrine.

An article I read recently expressed well something I have noticed recently, where many people (especially the young) make sweeping statements about Jesus, how He behaved, how He sees life for us, that bears no resemblance to the Jesus in the Gospels.

I personally thinks Pauls charge to Timothy applies to all and for all time.
You have to be very conscientious with your life and doctrine.
You have to be wary of your own propensity to self justify based on many factors.

Can I encourage you to do some of this?
Keep checking yourself against the teachings of Christ.
Keep being discipled and lead by someone over you (no matter how experienced you might believe you are).
Keep studying Jesus from scripture, what He said, what He is saying to you, and let it challenge and stir you.
As Paul soberly mentions elsewhere, others before us have 'shipwrecked their faith' and 'pierced themselves with many griefs', and that is such a waste!

Let's help each other. 
Let's remind ourselves to measure ourselves against what is right and true and 'biblical' - even if it grates us or offends us.
I would rather God challenge the very soul of me than miss the mark one more day.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Does anyone notice?

I have issued a challenge to myself and our Church to read the whole of the Bible through in one year. Totally believing it will change our lives in 2019 doing this together...

So far I have been right on track with the plan.
Today I was excited to check out the YouVersion app and see my achievement graphically represented. It would mean anyone viewing my profile would see how well I was doing.
As I type this I recognise how prideful this kind of is, but that is not my point today.

I was struck by the fact no one would know I was on track possibly because my streak was not registering for 'perfect weeks'.
Would people think less of me?
Do I keep going if the graphics don't show how awesome I am doing? (Yes I am)

I think sometimes we wonder if anyone notices the good things we do?
It can bother us that in hindsight no one seemed to notice and care. Part of our make up to some degree is this need to be noticed, to have recognition. And yes, taken too far is very dangerous for us on a number of levels.

I was reminded today that no matter what I do in life and especially for the Kingdom of God, God will also see, He will always notice, He will always recognise.
Scripture teaches us that God sees what was done in secret and in fact rewards it.
Jesus in Matthew 6 teaches us to:
Give in secret.
Pray in secret.
Fast in secret.

Please know what you do matters to God.
Even if no one recognises it and acknowledges it, you have a fan in God today.
God promises us to reward us for our Kingdom work.
Maybe it is indeed better if no one sees what you do?

Something to think about...