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 way 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.

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...