Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Watch out for the oil level!

I am not always excited on a human level to write Simple Thoughts like this one. The reason being is they are not traditionally very popular. And in our social media, likes based value system, you have to reconcile that before you publish some things.

God loves to see each of us encouraged in our faith. Built up. And growing. And as part of that growing process sometimes we need to be challenged, not just encouraged.
Just being honest with you before I continue this train of thought...

I really felt to write and remind us to watch out for something very specific in this season.
To watch out we have the oil we need to navigate our life and faith properly. Because we live in amazing times with some major change, drama and excitement, it is easy to forget about the most basic and needed components to faith in Christ.

Jesus shared a parable one day that goes like this...

Matthew 25:1-13 TPT
1“At the time my coming draws near, heaven’s kingdom realm can be compared to ten maidens who took their oil lamps and went outside to meet the bridegroom and his bride. 2–4 Five of them were foolish and ill-prepared, for they took no extra oil for their lamps. Five of them were wise and sensible, for they took flasks of olive oil with their lamps. 5When the bridegroom didn’t come when they expected, they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. 6Then suddenly, in the middle of the night, they were awakened by the shout ‘Get up! The bridegroom is here! Come out and have an encounter with him!’ 7So all the girls got up and trimmed their lamps. 8But the foolish ones were running out of oil, so they said to the five wise ones, ‘Share your oil with us, because our lamps are going out!’

9“‘We can’t,’ they replied. ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. You’ll have to go and buy some for yourselves!’

10“While the five girls were out buying oil, the bridegroom appeared. Those who were ready and waiting were escorted inside with him and the wedding party to enjoy the feast. And then the door was locked. 11Later, the five foolish girls came running up to the door and pleaded, ‘Lord, Lord, let us come in!’

12“But he called back, ‘Go away! Do I know you? I can assure you, I don’t even know you!’

13“That is the reason you should always stay awake and be alert, because you don’t know the day or hour when the Bridegroom will appear.”

This parable is purposefully shared by Jesus to get you to think.
To think about your own readiness for eternity right now.
To get you to check your oil level right now.
When you read this I hope that is exactly what it does...

To all those of who have read these Simple Thoughts over many years or maybe just recently and from all over the globe, I want to spend eternity with you!
Keep working on, making time for and developing your relationship with Jesus.
Keep asking for the Holy Spirit to fill you each day.

I want to be ready. Are you ready?

Something to think about...

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Watch out for the pendulum swing!

A famous man once trained for a very special profession.
It was seen as prestigious. Glamourous.
One that brought honour to his family.
During his extensive training and initial attempts to operate in this role and the world he lived in, he discovered to his horror things weren't as they seemed.
Hypocrisy was rampant.
Manipulation was everywhere.
And the people tasked with good, seemed to be doing the very opposite.

In his passion to fix all this, he wrote his considered ideas and ideals down and "posted" them in a very public place.
The upshot of this much needed revelation was a revolution.
And the upshot of the revolution was that it went too far...
Along with addressing the issues of his time, many, many innocent people were killed.

Please understand that his goal was right and noble.
The pendulum of change just swung too far!
Eventually some equilibrium was experienced, but at a huge cost.

I see this phenomenon also play out on a personal level.
I see someone wanting to change something about their life for the better. They dive hard into addressing their weight, fitness, or relationship.
Sometimes the pendulum swings so far they have problems out the other side. Yoyo dieting, failed goals that sit deep, and damaged relationships litter their path of good intentions.

Over the last few years I have spoken with many people upset that their good intentions lead them down roads they regretted in hindsight.

So what is the answer to this?
How do we bring much needed change without swinging on a pendulum that creates another challenge to overcome and a price to pay?

Here is my simple advice in this regard...

1. Slow and Considered over Fast and Furious
Better to work an issue through, get great advice, rely on the skills of others, than to blindly create a whirlwind of change.

God loves to bring about Godly change through Godly people.
He has a history of it.
The Apostle Paul recommended a marathon approach to faith as opposed to a sprint.
Sprinting is all about power and purpose for a moment.
Marathon running is far more nuanced and strategic.
I learned in my running that it worked best when you had a goal, then applied strategy to meet that goal, along with a willingness to make adjustments along the way.

1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV
Run in such a way as to get the prize.

2. Rely on Outside Power over Internal Passion.
It is easy to ran fast at an issue and in a fit of passion want to be the hero of the hour.
Instead I recommend sometimes a more considered approach that may mean a little delay. Better a little delay and get it right, than passion creating a newer challenge.

John 16:13 NIV
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

3. Design a Landing Spot along with a Starting Point
Jesus said to consider first what you are looking to build before you even begin.
He understood that a godly strategy included the whole strategy. Not just desire, not just passion and desire, but a clear goal.
No one builds a house by just starting without a full design already worked through and even signed off by others.

Luke 14:28-30 NIV
28“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

In whatever you do, can I encourage you to be a world changer.
And as part of your strategy keep the pendulum in check.
I personally think the result is a lot better.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

"I have a right to be offended!"

That phrase has been thrown around a lot in the last few years.
And it has recently made its presence felt in my world and ministry on a larger scale.
So today I wanted to pose a few thoughts...
Do we have a right to offended?
Should we be getting offended?
What will getting offended achieve?
How can we deal with it when it comes?

The irony for me in sharing this blog post is that while talking about offense many we will be offended just by my doing so. Others will hear I have done this and be offended at the very thought of it.
From my little corner of the globe it is like people are waking up every morning and looking under every rock and under every bush looking for offense. And again that just offended someone else...

When I look at offense in the New Testament there are only a few references to it.
Most relate to religious people / powerful people being offended over what Jesus was doing.
And what was Jesus doing?
As Paul is quoted as saying - "he went around doing good"
I am not convinced that Jesus was being malicious and purposefully looking for ways to offend people, He offended people because was doing what He believed God had asked to do.

For any of you still willing to read I do truly hope the following helps us all. And thank you for not writing me off just yet!

Depending on your Bible Translation there are generally on average around 5 passages dealing with the topic of offense in the New Testament.
Most interesting and telling to me is that there are normally 3 times the number dealing with forgiveness.

As a follower of Christ I firmly believe you don't have an inherit right to be offended, instead you have the God ordained power to forgive.
Scriptures tells us it is virtuous and to your glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)
Offended people are not better people in the long run, in fact than find it easier to become bitter people.

Here are couple of quick tips for dealing with it today:

1. Get it sorted and quickly
Matthew 5:23-25

2. Deal with it privately
Proverbs 17:9

3. Forgive and then forgive and then forgive
Matthew 18:21

Jesus hinted very strongly that this stuff would happen.
He didn't tell you to justify it, but to let you know how to navigate and then deal with it.

I will leave with this thought and my sincere prayer and hope we can all grow up more in this area. We should leading the way in overlooking offense and offering forgiveness.

“Being right, looking right, knowing you are right...are not more important than doing right!” 

Something to think about...

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

My battle with racism

As humans we have this very strange ability to be scared of your own kind. Change someones skins tone a few notches, music styles, cultural expression, culinary exploits, and suddenly someone whose DNA closely matches yours suddenly appears different some how?

Many years a go I recognised that I was more like other people than I cared to admit publicly.
In my heart I harboured thoughts that by definition made me racist, even if just a little. Can I just say that you can not "be a little racist" are or you aren't...

I am also convinced that every person no matter their background, race, or religion, struggles with this issue.
Sometimes I wonder if the person screaming they are not racist the loudest is many times actually screaming at themselves to not be racist? Just a thought.

All I can do is share some of my journey very briefly in the hope it helps maybe even one person?

And I want to make this very clear...
I am not an expert on this. I am not judging anyone on this.
My approach is based on what helped me on this journey.
And I am still on it. Still planning on staying on it.
I am also not convinced that tearing the world apart to build a new one, fuelled by fear and anger, will ever produce the utopia of harmony many purport to desire.

I grew up in a district without any or many faces of a different colour.
We lived in a farming area where as kids we were blissfully unaware that not everyone was like us. The world was smaller. Groups didn't connect outside their groups.
And one day some people arrived in the district who had darker skins tones. I remember hearing comments. And when supposed stereotypes were lived up, well that just reinforced the position already held.

One of the families had a daughter.
She was a great runner I remember and seemed desperate to fit in at our Primary School.
Then news came through during a long weekend that she had died of Pneumonia.
I know for myself and many others we struggled to understand how that could happen in our well to do district. Many I know stood at that school assembly the next week, stunned, silenced and I picked a little guilty feeling.

After moving to New Zealands largest city in my late teens to follow my dream of becoming a Rock Star I met Jesus. My whole life changed. My goals changed. I was becoming a different person.
In the Church I went to were people from all over the place. Some rich, some poor. Some with big issues, others with small. And the faces weren't all the same as mine.
Looking back this was a great first step for me.
I was exposed to 'the others' in the world. And I remember fondly getting to know an ex gang member with scary tattoos. I needed to interact with people like him!

Not long after this new world opened up I was invited to an Indian culture based Church.
Before we went to minister to them, it was explained they did things differently. They had the men and women seperate in services.
The time would finish with us being invited to have lunch after the service.
That actually scared me the most.
What if I don't like the food. I had never really had curry and spice.
Would I pay a price that would be paid in a bathroom hence forth?
But it turned out completely different to my preconceived ideas.
They were so loving, encouraging and friendly. And the food was amazing!!!
They sat each of us down one by one and prayed amazing prayers over our lives.
I went from fearful to a fan over those few short hours.

In the late 90's I had the opportunity to spend 2 weeks in Russia.
To be honest I was pretty ill-prepared for this trip!
I learned some phrases of their language on the way over on the flights.
You need to understand that I grew up during the Cold War. As kids and then into our teens, we lived in fear of nuclear war and it was the Russians who would be to blame.
That upbringing does something to you. I can see that now.
The upshot of those two weeks is that I discovered that they are also amazing people. Willing to sacrifice anything of theirs to make your time with them better.
To be honest, they made New Zealand hospitality look pretty lame.

One final little story...
I have had the privilege of organising large events which include people from all backgrounds and sometimes even cultures these last few years.
2 years ago we began purposefully including aspects from Maori Culture in our programming, of which I was completely ignorant of. Graciously a man and his wife helped me understand something of the Powhiri. Guided me through it step by step, never once making me feel stupid. They answered every question. Translated every phrase. And then to my shock they asked me to speak in their language at the event. It was one of the most nerve racking events of my life but also the most profound.
It did something pretty special in me that still gives me goosebumps as I think about it and type this.

So what is my point?
What is the takeaway from all this?

My personal opinion on curing racism is not protest, anger, or worse.
It is exposure.
Without exposure, ignorance has a bed to multiply in.

Don't try and go from zero to hero, you won't be able to make it.
I simply would encourage you to ask God first to deal with your heart.
Second ask God to give you opportunity to interact with another people, another culture.
Commit to a journey of discovery and let what you experience influence your heart.
Everyone is scared - but fear unaddressed again leads to prejudice.
God will help you if you are keen and humble!

We are all made in the image of God.
So dear Christian hating someone who is different is kind of like hating God.
Sorry not sorry to say that.
Don't panic, just press into Him.
Ask Him to help you with this struggle if it is yours.
And the opportunity to expand your world with people not like you...

Something to think about...

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Day 56 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "River or Rain"

Grace is amazing.
It is a gift from God through Jesus Christ.
Not a single person deserves Gods grace and yet He pours it out lavishly.
So good!

Grace is amazing.
It has the power to lift ones life from where it is now to something better.
To the lost and broken, grace is the platform to help them rise above, find hope and healing, and move onto life in all its fullness just as God as promised.
So good!

Now to flick back to the river vs rain part...
And don't get wound up about the generalisations...

If you see grace as like a river you potentially see grace as very good.
You want it to flow into your life. To keep flowing into your life.
You swim in it once you think you can trust it.
You float along in its current.
And it takes you to new and exciting places.

From my many experiences, I have encountered many who love this grace.
They grab hold of it gratefully to rescue them from what has happened in their lives. Sometimes to help them recover from the bad choices that we are all wrestle with along life's journey.

Then there is a moment. It comes at some point to everyone.
Where the river is no longer simple and safe, where rapids appear, and the grace river is no longer as they expect.
This is where someone hurts them either intentionally but most of the time unintentionally.
This is where a leader doesn't meet an unwritten expectation.
This is where a Pastor like me isn't as perfect as we all hoped.
When grace is seen only to be a river flowing into a life, they can potentially struggle, get offended, fire off some shots, and many times walk away.

If you see grace like rain, I think this takes it to a whole new level.
Just as rain comes via precipitation to even create a river in the first place, this is where we see grace as flowing in and then through our lives.
Where we recognise there is a mysterious and yet divine cycle to the process.
Rain never makes a choice as to whether where it falls deserves it. It just does it.
Rain doesn't judge the worthiness of the soil. It never rationalises the fruit of its endeavours.
Rain rains. It can do no other.

I want to encourage you, as I did over the weekend to those who tuned in, to go on a fresh journey exploring grace.
To make sure it is raining into your life and through.
To make sure we are not holding back from receiving it or passing it on.
I believe our lives should have grace like rain.

Grace is the defining characteristic of God's amazing character.
Can I encourage you to make it yours as well?

Something to think about...

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Day 49 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Down the List"

Many people tell me that knowledge is the most important thing.
That if they can just learn enough about Jesus, that they will be able to follow Him better.
That if they can just learn enough of the Bible that it will all make more sense.
Knowledge is fantastic.
I am a personal fan. A huge fan!
I mean, there is sometimes nothing worse than hearing someone without knowledge on a subject teaching others.

But knowledge it is not top of my list.
And it isn't even second place.
In fact I think it comes in a distant 3rd...

Here's why...see if you agree?

I think that first and foremost it has to be relationship.
It wouldn't matter if I was the worlds biggest expert about my wife Suze, what she is like, her skills and abilities, history and more, if my relationship with her wasn't right.
I can talk more about her and be more knowledgeable based on my relationship.

Jesus was pretty clear that His relationship with His father came absolutely first.
He said He only did what He saw Him doing.
He valued His time alone with Him.
He was His everything!

Second on my list is character.
Talent can open the door as they say, but character keeps you in the room.

I value character over knowledge anytime! Because without good character no one really cares ultimately about your knowledge.
Character development is something we have to embrace along life's journey. Allowing what God allows us to go through and experience to actually build something of lasting value in us.

Then we obviously come to third on the list, knowledge.
You were probably guessing that is where this would land?

In the famous Love Chapter in Scripture, knowledge is down the list to the key aspect of relationship.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 
1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV

Peter wrote some pretty cool things as well for us to consider along these lines.
One of my favourite passages is this one...

5...make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 
2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV

Knowledge is part of what you need to build into your life, never the goal, never the main priority.

God doesn't use the talented or self described super knowledgable if they have no relationship or have bad character. He would rather use anyone else than them. 
Super challenging I know!

Finally, I think your desire to gain knowledge is awesome. I believe God loves that you want to grow in understanding. But please consider the priority of relationship first and character second, then add as much as you can to that good foundation.

Something to think about...

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Day 48 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Should I Say Anything?"

I am pretty frustrated just like many of you.
You have my sympathy on that front.
We are nearly up to 50 days of #lockdownlife and the complete finish of which, is still very murky.
When will it end?
Should I get incensed?
And then we here in New Zealand have been told NO to having Church Services as we are familiar with, until further notice. Again, no clear idea when we will be given permission by those in leadership over us.

Should I say anything?

Should I get wild? Post on facebook my anti-authoritarian rants?
Should I be a good little citizen and "zip-it" as they say?

I have learned over the years to measure my response to things.
Not always good at it, I still try. To take a breath. To pray a little.
And then and only then do I make a comment. Well that is my plan anyway.

Here are todays thoughts in a few points:

1. Honour those who are over you, honour God more.

Scripture is clear in Romans 13 that we should honour those in authority over us, no matter who they are, no matter their role, religion etc. Paul makes it clear that God himself allowed them to be in that role.
The trick here as a follower of Christ is to know whether or not to comply.
You need to take a breath, pray a little, then plan any or no response.

2. What the enemy meant for evil, God makes for good.

The early Church gets trotted out as the utopia of Christian modelling. People love to talk about their unity, sharing of resources, huge numbers getting saved and all those good things.
Interesting even though it seems to be a wildly successful Church model, God seems to have a next step that I guess they didn't pick at the time. Opposition arose from those over them, the governments, and they were forced to spread out from Jerusalem.
Many have surmised that this was a difficult time. That the debate about this being of God or not abounded. But history tells it was the best thing, the Gospel spreads further and faster.

So where does that leave my thinking on this?
Right now, today, in this moment, I am taking a breath, praying a little (or a lot) and asking God what my response should be.
Could this be a moment to fight?
Or could this be a moment to excitedly ask God to move us into the next exciting phase of the Church?

Something to think about...

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Day 43 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Be Who You Expect"

I have seen lately a whole bunch of people upset by a certain style of living and leadership.
It is where someone tells you how to live, behave etc but doesn't follow their own dictates.
Then to make things worse for those upset, the perpetrator of their hypocrisy explains it away, that the rules simply don't apply to them.
And that makes it worse for the people upset...

I have used a 2 bucket system for all my adult life.
What is this system?
I have 2 imaginary buckets in front of me.
Into one I put all the good things I can learn from others.
Into the other I put all their mistakes, missteps and moments that don't match my expectations.
From there you focus on the first bucket.
Maybe that could help you too?

Anyway, my main thought here today is that you and you alone should decide ultimately how you will live. You need to decide, make the choices, and live with the consequences.
Don't get upset by those hypocrites.
And don't stoop to their level.
You be who you know God would like you to be and that's all!
If you are a leader, be a great one!
If you are a follower, be a great one!
Live up your own expressed expectations.
Do what is right. Keep your conscience clear.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Day 42 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Strangely Excited"

We seem to have entered the phase that many have longed for, and yet are not sure what it really means? The coming out of lockdown phase maybe more slowly than some like, but also coming out none the less...

I have always had a sense that this time meant more to me and the Church I lead than being locked out of a building.
It was a time God has used to allow us to reflect on things, and more importantly plan for the future.
That is something I have spent many many hours doing.
It is also something I would like to encourage you to prayerfully do as well.

I feel safe to advice you to not just look forward to life as normal.
Normal has changed. Shifted. Rearranged itself on itself.
And even though that has happened, I want to encourage you to work out with Him what your post lockdown life and ministry should look like?
Ask Him to show where you need to shift, not just how recognise the world has shifted you.
Ask Him if there is anything you need to change, remove, rebuild, redefine, again not waiting on the world to tell you.

Right now I probably more excited for 2020 than I have ever been this year. Strange when you consider what has transpired.
But that feeling has all come from my foundation of building my thoughts and feelings around where I believe God is leading me.
Maybe this is your moment to do the same as me?
To not wait until it is over and just roll into life. But to purposely seek Him until your future and the vision of it becomes more clear?

Something to think about...

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Day 39 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Check your Gauges"

The car I drive is not exactly new or flash, but it gets me where I need to go...well normally!
Until recently it has been super reliable.
And then something changed...

Something I have been reminded of a lot in these last few months is that sometimes you need lift the bonnet and check things.
Check the oil and its level.
Check the water.
Check all the other fluids and features that effects normal operation of the car.
Sometimes you can 'gauge' things from a cursory glance across the dashboard. Other times you need to take a moment to look under the hood.

Just 2 days before we went to complete lockdown here in New Zealand I checked things.
To my horror the water reservoir was really low.
Even though that meant a made scramble to get it repaired, I am super glad I checked it. It would have been worse to have been completely broken down during the lockdown, with no remedy available!

As people, it seems we many times wait until we breakdown or are super close to it, before we address things in our lives.
Whether in the natural or spiritually, a crisis seems to be for many our default times to address things.

I would like to suggest to you today to not leave things that long if you have the power to do.
Check your emotional and spiritually gauges.
Sometimes it could be a cursory glance.
Other times you might need to get under the hood.
But please don't ignore the gauges.
And that way you can avert disaster.

Something to think about...

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Day 34 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "How deep do you want to go?"

As I was walking and praying recently on one of my regular walks I felt the Lord ask this question of me, and I firmly believe He wanted me to pass it on to you today as well...

How deep do you want to go?

Just how deep would you like your relationship with God to be?
How deep would you like to go with Him?
Is your honest answer right now that you are happy with it?
Or maybe you are a little nervous about
getting too deep, due to not knowing what that looks like or hurts from your past?
Or maybe, maybe you have a sense you want to get a lot deeper at this time?

Please forgive me for my plying you with questions and scenarios.
I just want to you to think about it for a moment.

While you do, can I share an account from Ezekiel 47 that helps me in this regard?
What strikes me about this prophetic vision right now is that it is all about different depths in the Spirit.
The imagery is striking and powerful!

We see a "man" measuring the depth of this river every 500m and it is progressively deeper.
First ankle deep.
Then knee deep.
The waist deep.
And finally over his head.

Today how would you rate your spirituality?
Ankle / Knee / Waist / Swimming deep...

Again I ask you...
How deep would you like to go?

You and I have an amazing opportunity in a window that may close soon.
We can work on our relationship with God in this season.
We can maintain or move deeper.
And it seems God allows us to make that choice.
The river of God is in front of each of us and we choose the depth.

Here is something I thought as I pondered this concept...
"I would rather be swept away in the Spirit 
than left dry on a bench head"

May you grow to want to go deeper just like I have been desiring.
May your heart be stirred and and your eyes opened to the river right before you.
And may you be brave and try the deep end with me?

Something to think about?

Scripture Copyright New International Version via the YouVersion Bible App

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Day 28 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Learn Something New"

This thought will be simple, quick and to the point I hope.
If you want to navigate lockdown life well, pick something new to learn, or maybe a few things?
That's right. Develop yourself with a new skill.
Now is the perfect time!

There so many options nowadays.
Dr Google, Mr Youtube, all have tutorials from here to just about everywhere. Asking others to learn from them. Reading a book.
You name it, there are opportunities.

Why? Well here are a few reasons:

  • It will grow you and develop you a little more. Not allowing you opportunity to not become stagnant.
  • New skills and learning can bring new life and vitality.
  • It is good for your brain.
  • Something new or challenging can give you something to look forward too. And maybe you need that if your lockdown life feels a bit rinse and repeat, even boring.

I firmly believe that God wants to keep growing us, developing us and moulding us.
He is NOT finished with you yet my friend!
So pray first. Learn something new second.
And see what God does with it?
It is certainly building something new into my life in this season.

Something to think about...

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Day 27 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Spirit & Truth"

One of the things I have enjoyed doing over the lockdown is checking out new and nearly new worships songs being written and released around the world. There are many absolute cracker songs that help anyone to connect with God!

Something I do that I highly recommend...

I never ever just leap on a song to potentially worship God with without first sitting down and considering it carefully.
I look at the lyrics, consider the heart of the songs creation, seek to understand what the writers goal actually was.
Because when I use a song:
- I want it to mean a lot to me
- I want to be able to relate to God through it
- I want it to truly help connect me with heaven in that moment.
- I want to build by faith and understanding.
- I want to make sure it doesn't hurt my theology, but instead builds on it.

Jesus taught this very important concept in regards to worship...
"God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:24 NIV

God doesn't care about your style, skill or even volume.
What He cares most about are two things:
Spirit - is it from the heart of who you are? From your heart to His? Being inspired by His Holy Spirit?
Truth - is it what you really mean, desire and really think? Does it match Kingdom truth?

Music is there to be enjoyed and experienced.
But worship is music on a whole new level...
So let's gravitate to songs, to moments of worship, that reflect Spirit and reflect Truth.
Ignore cool for what is real for you.
And let's connect with heaven again today.

Something to think about...

23–24 From here on, worshiping the Father 
will not be a matter of the right place but with the right heart. 
For God is a Spirit, and he longs to have sincere worshipers who worship and adore him in the realm of the Spirit and in truth.” 
John 4:23-24 TPT

Monday, April 20, 2020

Day 26 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Courageous Leadership"

I watched a movie on my day off today...
The Darkest Hour.
It covers the early hours and the days of Winston Churchills fledging leadership of England at the beginning of their World War 2 journey.

Looking at history, through the filter of time, it is a truly fascinating thing!
Based on a cursory glance at this man and his moment writing on the annals of time is one of leadership. He is credited as being able to help lead a nation through its worst.

So I sat here watching this movie and was stunned by the shear load he carried.
All around was bad news about the war and its progression.
He also wrestled with his past, his failures in previous leadership opportunities, and the cost others paid due them.
The icing on this drama cake, was many influential people around him couldn't stand him.
He faced opposition from afar and from very close to home.

At many times I have faced opposition in my leadership.
Maybe some of was deserved?
But at the heart of who we need to be as a leader is something others don't always see.
You need something inside of you that it is firm and unswerving.
You need conviction and confidence.
You need a direction laced with doggedness.
You need to hold onto what God has said, what His expectations of you are over mans, and run that race as wise and as hard as you can.

Maybe in your times of reflection during this lockdown you have realised not everyone is a fan of you? And maybe that has caused you to doubt two people, yourself and God?

My friend take a lesson from others especially "in faith" who never gave in.
Every leader faces opposition at numerous times and varying levels of ferocity.
The "successful" ones keep their eye on the prize.
Can I encourage you to do the same at this time?

Something to think about...

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal.
It is the courage to continue that counts."
Winston Churchill 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Day 25 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Competitive Church"

"My Pastor is the best!
No my Pastor is the best!
No MY Pastor is the best!
or I wish I had your Pastor..."

I want to be honest for a moment (not that I am not normally) and share something that has bothered me for a long time.
It bothered me before the lockdown and does again during the lockdown.
For many years I have seen Churches, Pastors, Ministries competing.
Competing for followers, influence, significance, support and maybe more...

I do believe we should grow with our influence and with the message of the hope we have in Christ.
But at what cost?
And based on what motivation?

I believe in the Church!
As I have shared on before, the Church is the bride that Christ is coming back soon for.
We should not seek to be the best or the greatest in my opinion.
But simply do our best. Do what we can to glorify God.

This is not new. And certainly not an easy issue to discuss.
So I will Jesus do some talking...

25...“The kings and men of authority in this world rule oppressively over their subjects, claiming that they do it for the good of the people. They are obsessed with how others see them. 26But this is not your calling. You will lead by a different model. The greatest one among you will live as one called to serve others without honour. 
The greatest honour and authority is reserved for the one who has a servant heart. 27The leaders who are served are the most important in your eyes, but in the kingdom, it is the servants who lead
Am I not here with you as one who serves you?"
Luke 22:25-27 TPT

Jesus is not concerned about whether you have:
The most in attendance.
The most followers on social media.
The most 'saved'.
Whether you are best preacher.
The best leader.
Whether you are the GOAT...

He is looking at our hearts ... full-stop.
Dump the need to be the greatest my friend.
Embrace simply His purpose for this generation.
Operate in the gifts you have and the faith you have received.
And then we will see what He can do even more.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Day 21 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "What I Believe"

The early disciples had up to 3 years of formative training.
While they thought they knew what that all meant, maybe had written up their ministry plans based on it, that first Easter changed everything.
But it didn't negate what came before it. And that God was setting them up purposefully for what was about to come next...

If you are familiar with the accounts, essentially after that first Easter, Jesus appears, repairs and prepares them for what is coming next. And that 'next' was God's plan all along!

Jesus did 3 key things...

Appears to the grieving disciples.
Appears to others loosely connected to bring them in.

Repairs the relationship between Peter and himself.
Repairs Peter's standing with his brothers.

Prepares them with more teaching, insight, encouragement.
Prepares them with expectation "wait until you receive power!".

I can't help but feel that I can relate to 
this whole process and scenario today!

We have had many years of learning, discipleship, experimenting and more. And then everything changed with Covid-19...

We lost our ability to meet like we normally do.
Our buildings are now empty.
It is like we have been buried for a time.
But just as Jesus didn't stay buried, we won't!
The same power that rose Christ from the dead lives in us.
It lives in the Church.
For me I have a sense of building power and tension that will cause a tremendous resurrection.

I believe that when we arise in our new season, the world will see Jesus like never before.

I believe that we are about to enter our greatest season as God's people. We will soon enter or have already entered our lead up to the Churches ascension.

I believe the Holy Spirit is about to poured out in a new anointing.
The anointing for revival and the grand finale of the Church here on earth...

Something to think about...

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Day 20 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Keep the Party Going?"

As I was getting ready for Easter I was looking through some old ideas and notes I had been keeping over the years, and I came across something I thought was pretty cool!

It was from a published excerpt of a sermon originally from N.T. Wright.
Who is he you might be asking?
He is an English New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian and Anglican bishop.
Sounds pretty impressive...

But more importantly I wanted to pass on some his thoughts, because they have stirred my thoughts, and I am wondering if they will do the same for you?

"…one of the main things I want to say this morning 
is that we as Christians must learn how to celebrate 
Easter properly..."

" friends, we are Easter people! 
We stand on resurrection ground. 
Easter is not only our greatest party (much greater by the way than Christmas—whatever you do on Christmas you ought to do ten times as much at Easter); Easter is the only reason we are here at all! 
St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians, “If Christ is not raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” Without Easter, Jesus of Nazareth would be a curious historical footnote. 
Without Easter, the world would still be divided into waiting Jews and puzzled pagans."

"No, we should make Easter a forty-day celebration. 
If Lent is that long, Easter should be at least that long, 
all the way to Ascension. 
We should meet regularly for Easter parties. 
We should drink champagne at breakfast. 
We should renew baptismal vows with splashing water 
all over the place. 
And we should sing and dance and blow trumpets and put out banners in the streets. 
And we should invite the homeless people to parties and 
we should go around town doing random acts of 
generosity and celebration. 
We should be doing things which would make our sober and serious neighbours say, 
“What is the meaning of this outrageous party?” "

I don't know about you but I have found this very thought provoking.
It has left me wanting to explore his ideas further.
Especially as Easter weekend has passed, the chocolate is gone, and we look to what's next?

Something to think about?

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Day 18 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Whatever you hand finds to do"

I have been thinking about this verse over the last 24 hours...

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might...
Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV

You might be wondering why?

When the #lockdown was announced I was like a lot of Pastors around this country and scrambled to set myself up to lead a Church Family from my family home.
The idea being we needed to be able to lead, minister, run Services as best we could, all from different locations and with a new paradigm.
Most of us went from running Services in a building to running them over the internet.
The "work of our hands" changed very quickly!

When I consider that verse, I feel even more comfortable with what I am not doing now.
God has given me and every other leader different work to do.
It is just as important and valuable and definitely needed.
And therefore I should do it with all the energy and passion I have...

Scripture also tells that God "orders our steps", that He "prepares work for us to do".
Can I encourage you to embrace with passion whatever this season in God has given you to do?
It is not the end. Just a different turn.
Do it with all your might!

Something to think about...

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Day 14 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "First Easter like this Easter?"

I wrote this in my Churches Weekly Email today as part of my introduction...

As you can guess, I came to realise that in our adjusting to the new "normal" of Church and our upcoming Easter Services, that maybe, just maybe, our new "normal" is more like the original?

On the night Jesus was betrayed most were home.
During the days He lay in the grave most were home.
And at the very moment He rose victorious from that grave, again most were home.
Even the disciples were at home.
In their self imposed lockdown of sorts.
Trying to figure out what to do next?

And then the news came - again to their home.
Some ladies who had gone to visit Jesus tomb, found it empty, and hurriedly returned to share the news within the context of a home.

Please don't be despondent that this Easter is not like any other for you. Maybe rejoice that it is possibly going to be an even more historically mirroring event for you.
The first Easter happened at home for most.
This weekend it will be the same for you.
Good News is coming to your home and everyone else's...

Let's focus on the moment, the message and the meaning this Easter.

Something to think about...

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Day 13 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Quote"

Love this...

Something to think about...

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Day 11 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "God Wants to Speak"

You will have noticed that everywhere is so much quieter...
Our streets have less traffic and the noise they normally generate dissipated. The sound of planes and skydivers near our home has ceased for a time.
Is it like God has turned down the volume for us?

I am fully convinced that God wants to speak to people.
The Bible says that "he has given us ears to hear" His voice.
It is not just the booming from heaven style made famous in movies and satire, but the 'still small voice' that a man like you and me experienced on a mountain one day.

Speaking of that man...
Prior to him hearing God speak there was a ton of dramatic noise and yet it says God was not in any of it, not speaking through any of it.
Thunder, earthquakes, dramatic moments, all the stereotype for a god speaking, and God was not speaking.
It was only when all was still.
Only when all went quiet that God spoke.
Described as a 'still small voice'.

I am fully convinced that God wants to speak to you, not shout at you.
And this is the season I believe He has planned for that to happen.

So why not right now find a quiet place without noise and distraction?
Why not ask Him to speak to you?
Listen for His voice...

Something to think about...

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Day 10 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Lockdown Attitude"

Many of you will have heard the name, others a bit younger probably won't have.
A gentlemen by the name of Terry Waite became famous around the world for reasons I am sure at the time he didn't desire or appreciate.

In the 1980's while trying to secure the release of 4 hostages in Lebanon, he himself was taken hostage, for something like 4 years!
His lockdown life was far more extreme than most of us will experience in our version of being modern hostages in our own homes.

He shared some advice recently that I thought was interesting...

This post from an expert in "social isolating" certainly got me thinking...
There are people around us and over us who have advice we should take, life learnings we should study, a way of life we should endeavour to emulate.

Paul the Apostle famously said these words...
And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1 NLT

Let's together follow great examples and imitate them.
I think that is great advice for helping us navigate life, especially in a lockdown.

Something to think about...

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Day 08 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "As it depends on you"

Have you heard of the phrase "pointing the borax?"
I heard it and variations of it when I was young.
And now all over the world people are doing it with steroids.

After just over a week of #lockdown here in Taupo, New Zealand I am seeing fingers being pointed, the old "pointing the borax" thing, apportioning blame, critiquing decisions and judging others compliance levels.

When I go for a walk around the direct location of where I live (which we are allowed to do) you get the occasional stare and sideways glance. You wonder what they are thinking?
You see posts on Social Media ranting about this group and that group.
"The cyclists are breaking the rules!"
"There were too many people in one car!"
"Surely they don't need that of amount of flour!" (seriously where has all the flour gone?)

Please don't get me wrong...
I am not saying to turn a blind eye to non-compliance etc.
But it did make me think of two very direct verses from scripture.
And by the Holy Spirit reminding me of them, I found they act as a fantastic filter to my sometimes unfiltered emotions especially at this heightened time.

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

The Hint...make sure are doing what you should be doing first and foremost.
Plus don't go looking for a fight, because being immature and using uneducated judgement always leads to one.

Matthew 7:5 NIV
...first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

The Hint...before "pointing the borax" at someone else, please make sure the multiple fingers pointing back at you aren't finding you doing the same or worse.

'Sorry not sorry' if this is a little challenging.
I for one am not on holiday from my spirituality at this time.
And I am constantly asking the Holy Spirit to speak to me.
I wonder what He is saying to you?

Something to think about...

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Day 07 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Process Like David"

You can be reading this and thinking that maybe you wish you had someone to vent to?
Someone who would listen.
Someone who wouldn't just tell you to just "suck it up", "harden up" or swallow a "concrete pill".
Someone you could feel safe to share your heart and not be judged afterwards.
And someone who once you have become oh so vulnerable, who would keep whatever was said super private!

I have some news for you!
There is someone like that is available right now for you and me.
It isn't an online counsellor, a facebook friend, a politician, or even a pastor!

I want to encourage you today in your potential lockdown world, a world filled maybe with questions and uncertainty of the future, to copy someone else.
I want to strongly encourage you to do what David did.
To share your heart privately, openly and honestly.
God is not concerned about the words and how eloquent they are.
God is more interested and keen to hear from your heart of hearts.

And as you pour out your heart like David, can I encourage you to take it up just one more level and before say "amen", follow his example some more, and add some faith to it all.

The pattern demonstrated to us in Psalm 13 is just that:
Pour out your heart...
And then pour out with heart with faith added...

I am believing with you today that it will make a very real difference to you.

Something to think about...

Special thanks to for use of the 
YouVersion Bible App. Scripture Copyright 
New International Version

Day 06 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Whose Report?"

As someone living in the modern world, you are very much like me I would think...
We are both surrounded by report after report on what this virus means for us now and the future.
Even this mornings reports I read from all sources, with different political leanings and aspirations, different faith perspectives, varied so much that I turned them all off.

As I pondered this.
As I wondered why we can't have "the truth".
A phrase popped into my head (think it was the Holy Spirit to be honest) "whose report will you believe?"
I felt like saying straight back..."whose report should I believe because they are all over the place!"
And that my friend is the point!

A great example of this in scripture is when the 12 spies famously went to check out the promised land on behalf of Joshua and all the Israelite nation.
Even though the 12 saw exactly the same thing. Experienced the same thing. Even tasted the same thing...2 reports that were polar opposites emerged from that mission.

People have a weakness not often acknowledged I believe.
We filter what we see through our own lens of life.
We take facts and apply a filter to try and understand what we are seeing, feeling, experiencing.
If we are not careful we can allow others to apply their filter to our filter, and as you can guess, the truth is potentially even further obscured.

I read just this morning the story of a young man that Smith Wigglesworth (famous evangelist from last century) was mentoring during WWII.
One day this young man arrived for their time together with a newspaper under his arm and Mr Wigglesworth wouldn't let him into the house, declaring that it was full of lies.
Apparently at the time the papers were saying the war was going badly and hope was minimal for success. But Smith firmly believed a different report that there would indeed be victory.

I think you probably get where I am going with all this?
Whose report will you believe today?

I am not encouraging you to become a conspiracy junky.
Nor am I encouraging ing you to hide in a hole until this blows over.
What I want to encourage us to do today is to consider what we want to believe in this time and season.
As for me, I am praying for God to continue to speak clearly, to give me wisdom, to help me see past 'media factsheets' to Kingdom truths and realities.
I want a report from heaven over any other report!
Maybe you could do the same with me today?

Something to think about...

Monday, March 30, 2020

Day 05 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Power of a Song"

They say that music has the power to move someone.
To affect their emotions. To shift their mood.
To change their life.
Now add to that power, power from Heaven...
...what difference could a song, the right song, make in your life right now?

Over the last few days every time I listen to, even sing along with certain songs, my countenance changes.
My mood changes.
I feel stronger.
God feels closer.
And I feel like I can tackle whatever is coming my way...

Here are some of my favourites right now!

Graves into Gardens - Elevation Worship

Faithful Now - Vertical Worship

Can I encourage you today to pick a song?
Pick a special song that connects you with your Father in Heaven.
And let it shift you...

Something to think about...

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Day 04 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Withdraw"

I woke up far too early today and after a while of just lying there thought I would listen to the radio.
Every moment of talk and comment was filled with Corona virus talk, seasoned fully with fear to flavour it up. It didn’t help me at all!

As I was spending time eating my breakfast, thinking and praying, I was reminded about what Jesus would do when the world around him brought pain and or drama.
He would withdraw.
Scripture tells us that Jesus would often withdraw to "lonely places" (no one else around to distract him, no tasks to do), with nothing else except time with His Father in Heaven...

It is also recorded that when the news of his cousins death was reported to him, that it very much effected him.
His cousin is pretty famous in the gospel narrative.
John the Baptist as we call him.
This is a the cousin who jumped in his mother’s womb at the news of Mary, Jesus mother being pregnant.
This is the cousin who he grew up and saw Him at extended family gatherings.
This is the cousin who baptisted Jesus and then witnessed the Holy Spirit coming upon him, the voice of God speaking over his life.
This is the cousin who heard all the amazing reports of what Jesus was doing, that He was who he had been preaching about...
I really do believe that they would have had a pretty close bond.
And when John died, Jesus couldn’t just carry on like nothing had happened.
He needed His Father in that moment...

Jesus even said this one day...
"Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 6:31 NIV

And as the writer of Song of Solomon simply says...
"Come away, my beloved..." Song of Solomon 8:14 NIV

Maybe this moment you are facing is affecting you a little stronger than you would like?
Maybe it is causing anxiety, even fear to bubble up for you?

Can I suggest today and any other moment of any other day, that you 'come away with Him'?
Just get away for a moment to breath.
Take a moment to be in His presence.
Pour our heart and then listen to His voice in return.
Ask him to refill you with His Spirit and to pour peace on your soul.

I believe He will meet you in a special way when you do.
That choice to come away with him will be for you exactly what you needed!

Something to think about...

[ For a Video Version of this Simple Thought click here ]

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Day 03 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Necessity & Opportunity"

Since the lockdown a lot has obviously changed for all of us journeying through it.
Our lifestyles have certainly changed to reflect our new reality.
For me personally as a Pastor, I have quickly needed to adapt to a 'new normal' of leading a Church.
It is not business as usual.
My routines have had change to reflect this.
My methods as well.

I have discovered as I actually predicated earlier in the week, that this is an amazing time to learn some new things, develop new skills etc.
Just yesterday I recorded a video message. That meant learning how to setup audio recording, camera placement, lighting on a ridiculous budget and grabbing anything we have lying around. I still have a lot to learn but also the learning has been fantastic for me.

Necessity has forced this change into my life, but maybe free time could be an opportunity for yours?

Jesus said something that reflects my simple thought today...
 “Every scholar of the Scriptures, who is instructed in the ways of heaven’s kingdom realm, is like a wealthy home owner with his house filled with treasures both new and old. And he knows how and when to bring them out to show others.” Matthew 13:52 TPT

For a someone like you and me following Jesus I think that means we have things we have learned over time plus things to learn right now. It is the old and new.
And right now you can add to your storehouse with the new.

Everything from studying God's word through to new practical skills are on offer right now to you and me. This is an amazing opportunity to build into our storehouse.
Read a book you have been putting off.
Take time to develop your relationship with God.
Learn to bake a cake (sorry that ones for me)
Study and develop a new skill that you have been wanting to try.
The opportunities right now are more endless than limited!

I want you to know that this will be very good for you.
It will not only occupy you and give you something to look forward to but it will be 3 key things:
Good for your mind
Good for your soul
Good for your spirit

Something to think about...

Friday, March 27, 2020

Day 02 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Thing Change"

Today is Friday and that would normally mean for me doing all the final preparations for Sunday and the Services we host each week.
As I sit at my desk I am reminded that this Sunday and how I approach it, have fundamentially changed.
I won't get to preach my message to people face to face.
I won't get to chat over a cup of coffee.
Many things about today and then Sunday have changed, but some key things haven't.
God is not bothered in the slightest.
And the Kingdom of God will continue to advance...

I am reminded that when the Church first officially sprung into life on the day of Pentecost a 'new normal' occurred.
For them that day and forward they now received the Holy Spirit.
1000's were being saved.
Lives were being changed dramatically by God.
The Church was growing. It was on fire.

And then things changed again...

19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. Acts 11:19-21 NIV

The Church needing to discover new normals is actually God's normal.
For your prayer and mine over many years of "God build your Kingdom!" to come true, God uses moments even like the one we are in now, to see the Kingdom advance.

Can I invite you prayerfully today to discover what your 'new normal' is? Remembering that the foundations of our faith will always remain. To love God and to love people.

The delivery is allowed to change.
I for one have been praying for many years that it would change.
We simply all need to fix our eyes on Jesus, press in, charge on prayerfully, and be part of the next move of God that will grow the Kingdom even further.

Something to think about...

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Day 01 : Covid-19 Lockdown in Taupo : "Quote"

Our tiny nation of New Zealand is now officially closed.
Closed boarders. Closed businesses. Even closed Churches.
As we journey through this home based adventure I felt to share something simple every day.
So here we go with my Day 01 simple thought...

I am sitting here thinking about how I feel in this moment.
In my mind there are a number of unknowns even though we have planned as best we can with the 48 hours pre lockdown provided us.

Think of this moment maybe a little like following Jesus for the first time.
You haver some idea what it means but also not a lot of an idea.
Does that stop you?
No. You step out in faith following Him not knowing exactly where it will take you next.
You just know it is the right thing to do.

Right now being in the first day, first stage of a nationwide lockdown, I have some idea but not a complete understanding of what may come.
Does that stop me?
No. I am now stepping out in faith on some level in the governments plan, but more importantly I stepping out in faith with Jesus.
I just know it is the right thing to do.

You maybe like me today, wondering a little how this will all pan out?
The equation for life before and life now as a follower of Jesus is actually exactly the same.
It is all about faith. It is all about trust. It is all about Jesus.

Someone shared a great Corrie ten Boom quote today...
"If you look at the world you'll be distressed.
If you like within you'll be depressed.
But if you look at Christ, you'll be at rest."

Something to think about...

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Simple Thought (Virus Edition)

Sorry that I don't have a more creative title, but being clever is not the agenda of my post today.
Right now your world doesn't need more clever and creative marketing, what yours and my world needs right now is more deep and profound.

You might be asking why?
Why this virus? Why the panic? Why toilet paper?
Why God?

Right now and as I type this I can honestly say I don't have many "why" questions.
My questions are all based around "what"?

"What" is the Church going to look like and function like in this season?
"What" can I do personally to minister to my world?

My "what" is based on the "what" I know about God.
1. He is not surprised by any of these events.
2. He is in control.
3. God has always had a plan for the salvation of people across this amazing world He has made.

Personally and as the Church, we need to discover quickly the "what" is for this season.
Seasoned with grace, filled with compassion, the Church I believe is poised to have an impact that was maybe thought to be limited to the big Church. 
This is a season for the whole Church worldwide to rise. To minister to everyone and anyone well.

I want to encourage you to join me today praying for the Holy Spirit to show us all what our "what" should be.
Get ready my friend! 
We are about to be used by God to a while new level...

Something to think about...

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

What floats your boat?

When someone asks you "what floats your boat?" they are asking about what makes you happy?
Instinctively I think we focus on simple quick things like a great coffee, a favourite meal, a favourite form of entertainment, or time with someone who is special to us.

As I thought about that question today, I began to think that while those things can bring joy for a moment, do they really bring the buoyancy we need to live our lives well?
Coffee lasts a moment and later in the day you crave another.
A favourite meal is ingested and the taste fades into our memories.
They are not by definition powerful enough to give our lives they hope we all crave.
And in that I think is the wrestle and answer we all look for...

I believe the hope floats!
What we place our hope in is what we hope will float the boat we travel through life on.
What you put you hope in is what you want to carry you forward.
Hope is in fact our buoyancy!

Now as I thought about it some more while looking at the battles raging online, I saw this theme play out again and again. People are placing their hope in things to help guide their lives that I am personally concerned will only leave them disappointed and even one day feeling very hopeless.

I hear people passionately encouraging others to embrace a sexual identity. That only then will you feel right as a person. That sex in itself is the answer to finding hope and direction.
Others are pushing hard to have people discover a political system as their saviour. That if we could finally embrace together the "perfect one", all our prayers will be answered, our collective hopes for the world will be finally realised.
And other groups tell us from the mountain tops that the "right religion" is the best way to navigate the seas of life.

Here is my simple thought, simple answer, simple encouragement for you today based on some great verses from scripture...

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Psalm 20:7 NIV

but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31 NIV

Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope!
Romans 15:13 TPT

Please consider doing this today my friend?
Make God himself to be your hope. Place your life in His hands.
Put your hope in the One who can truly float your boat!

Something to think about...

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

I know a man...

I know a man...
A man who lead a group of people to purchase a plot of land on the outskirts of a city area surrounded by farm-lets and small holdings of animals.
This man had a vision to build a Church of 1000 people and to him, this was the next step to seeing the vision become a reality.
At the time most large Churches peeked at 200-300 and imploded if they got close to 1,000.
I wonder if those outside this small group of faithful believers wondered if it would ever work? Maybe some questioned the wisdom of this purchase? Maybe others sniggered and waited for the failure that they were sure would follow in due course.

I visited this place I guess in its early days when they had a shell of a building to meet in.
I remember two things distinctly from that visit:
1. We got lost because it was in the country
2. The building was not finished
But that man had a vision...

Many many years later that same man saw something in me and invited me to join his staff.
By now the vision has essentially been fulfilled. The buildings were built. The targets have been reached. The goal had been achieved.
They were no longer in the country as the town had turned into a city, and now they were right in the middle of it, on a main road, exposed to the world in a dramatic way.
One day that same man sat us all down to talk about how that dream was fulfilled and how God had caused him to dream now even bigger for the future.

For over a decade now I have been serving in another part of New Zealand but have always looked to see what God was doing with the vision he gave that man.
Now they have campuses all across the city. They reach 1000's upon 1000's instead of the original 1,000. The Church seems to be thriving, growing, impacting!

I know a man...he had a vision.
God gave it to him. Others joined him on the journey.
And now God is glorified but something being built impacting generations...

Be encouraged. Dream, dream and dream some more.
Let's be people who partner with the dreamers in faith.
And let's see what God can do with a God shaped dream!

Something to think about...

Monday, February 24, 2020

Blind Faith

Have you heard of the phrase "Blind Faith"?
I have many times!
And according to many it is not a good thing...

Over my lifetime I have noticed that the meaning of things seems to change even from one generation to another.
What was considered a swear word to one generation is no longer considered course language by another.
Naming something "wicked" when I was a kid meant something was bad. By the time I was in my twenties "wicked" meant something was really cool.
When I was a teenager if you were called a "spunk" by a girl, that meant they thought you were attractive and was an indication they might be interested in you romantically.
It apparently comes from use in naming fungus many years ago.
And now no-one says it like I grew up with. It has gone back to having a less flattering meaning.

Now let's go back to that phrase again..."blind faith".
Today I hear people saying "blind faith" is bad.
It means you are trusting in someone or something you can't see and that is apparently silly and unwise.
It means that you are kind of having wishful thinking about a matter.
The mantra of many today is "I will believe it when I can see it."

If you are like me in anyway in the sense that you want to follow Christ, to live your life for Him, faith and really "blind faith" is actually a huge key to it.

I can't see a physical Jesus to follow but I do. My faith by definition is blind.
When I pray for someone to get healed even though they are sick. My faith is by definition blind once again.
When I ask God (who I can not see also) for what myself and my family hope is once again placed on who I can not see.

My friend faith is not based on what we see but on what we don't see right now.
"Blind faith" is actually the right type of faith if you want to see God move in our generation.

Of course I am not talking about presumptive faith where God is some sugar daddy to our every want and desire. I am talking about Kingdom Faith where we take the little we know and add faith to it believing God is bigger than we can ever hope dream or imagine. Where God's word and His ways have influenced so much that our "blind faith" causes us to act differently from the world around us.

Hebrews 11:1 NIV says is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Jesus even said to His disciples one day...“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29 NIV

So today, how about joining me in some good old fashioned "blind faith"?
Let's pray some big prayers. Believe in God's power and goodness.
Let's not let the world redefine the Kingdom on us!

Something to think about...

Friday, February 14, 2020

Have you got 13 spare minutes?

If you do, please take those spare minutes and check out a short message I shared recently.
Click on the graphic for something to listen to...

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

What's your motivation?

Some movies impact me not because of their amazing story lines, life changing message, or calls for a better world. Sometimes they have simply entertained me and the lines from some of the dialogue have stuck with me.
In our home it is not uncommon to quote movies lines as part of our conversations, and mostly just for the fun.
But sometimes they point to something else.
And sometimes they get me thinking like one did again recently...

In the corny Star Trek inspired movie called Galaxy Quest, the Captain is about to be pulverised by some sort of a rock monster on a strange planet.
Via an intercom link to his orbiting ship, a super unhelpful crew member asks "what is its motivation?"
It is a corny joke that my wife and I quote from the movie many times. You can catch a glimpse of it here.

It is a question I felt I should ask each of us today...thankfully without the need of a rock monster threatening to pulverise us!
"What's your motivation?"

Can I suggest that a lot of frustration in life, in ministry, can simply be avoided by being motivated by the right thing?

If you are motivated by honour, glory, attention or some other pathological need, you are going to come unstuck.
If you are motivated to do what you do to atone for your past, earn favour, prove yourself, again you will come crashing down at some stage.

Here is some great advice for you today from scripture!
Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Colossians 3:17 NIV
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23 NIV

I learned a long time ago that doing anything in the Kingdom of God for any other motivation leads to disappointment - every single time!
Doing anything that I do, knowing I am doing for my King, is motivating, sustaining and right.
I can keep on keeping on when I am motivated to did it first and foremost for Him.

So what's your motivation for what you currently do?

Something to think about...

Friday, February 07, 2020

Two Mountains

I don't know if we do this more than another time in history or whether it is just easier now?
People love to share their "considered" opinions on whatever they are involved in or what they see.
Reviews on meals, accommodation, movies, books, businesses, relationships, sports teams and even Churches.

I have been thinking about this recently...
Wondering whether just because we can, should we?
Wondering if we have to be maybe more "considered" about what we critique?

There is this account in scripture from many years ago where God's people stood purposefully before 2 mountains.
From one they read out all the blessings from God.
On another the read all the curses.
There was a very real and distinct differences between the 2 mountains and experiences.
From one there were blessings.
From the other there were curses.
And you do not need to be bright or a theologian to work out what was better...

Back to today...

I think we have maybe got our 2 mountains a bit confused.
It is like our culture has brought through a bunch of powerful excavators and flattened the mountains to create a level playing field. Where people freely bless and curse seemingly within one breath at times.

I have lost track of the number of times I have seen this recently...
Couples in a marriage facing challenges speaking the very worst about each other to each other. Getting friends and family to join their side. Cursing what on one hand they say they want better.
Employees sometimes face challenging situations and relationships in a work place. Their default strategy it seems is to curse their boss, workmate, even the very place they are employed.
Christians are sometimes really good at this...unfortunately!
They visit another Church for whatever reason and then curse it because it doesn't have this or that, doesn't match their expectations, offends something in them.
And yes, I have even regularly heard people curse the Church they are in, in some vain hope that cursing it, might motivate something cosmically to change it to the way they want it to be.

Sorry to be so heavy in these comments but I have a goal for you and me today!
I want us to seperate our comments back to potentially 2 mountains.
Maybe something is wrong and needing attention.
But maybe also we are adding fuel to the problem fire by speaking a curse over it.

If you want your marriage to be better - bless it and not curse it.
If you want your job to be better - bless it and not curse it.
If you want your Church to be better - bless it and not curse it.

Which of the two mountains is God asking you to stand on today?

Something to think about...

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

What's the deal with all this right hand, left hand stuff?

What is the deal with all this right hand, left hand stuff?
Because for many years I have read the following and wondered many things...

29If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:29-30 NIV

For many years I have looked and relooked at this passage!
All this gouging and cutting really bother me...

Jesus has just told people that adultery is bad. To avoid it.
He sets the bar higher than the culture allowed naturally by explaining that even thinking about having sex with another women other than your wife was not cool. 
Our culture is the same now. In general you hear that is "ok to look but not touch". Sometimes I have heard people say that "God created sexy bodies so enjoy the view..."

But is the answer to literally pluck your eye out or cut off an appendage?
Maybe what I read this morning might help you as it seems to have helped possibly explain it to me?

Jesus refers to appendages again in a slightly different context...
You need to understand that both chapters are actually all part of one recorded conversation.

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Matthew 6:3 NIV

Again here we have reference to 'hands'.
Thankfully not about chopping them off, but reference none the less.

It got me thinking. 
I think in the context of Matthew 6:3, Jesus is talking not about literal hands but those close to us. To not share with our friends etc what we do in regards to our generosity like a public service annoucement.
Maybe Jesus is saying to be careful especially about having lustful thoughts about those close to us?
Maybe Jesus is saying that it is better to severe relationships with people we are tempted by?
To cut them off! Not just cut your hand off...

The challenge you might discover after reading this is that the Holy Spirit reminds you of a relationship that is not appropriate for you and that maybe you need to cut it off?
If He is doing that, it is not to tell you off, it is actually for your protection.
It doesn't make you bad, it actually shows His love for you. 

I hope this helps someone as it has helped me?

Something to think about...

Friday, January 24, 2020

Get ready for a 'heads up' from God!

Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing
    without revealing his plan
    to his servants the prophets.
Amos 3:7 NIV

I want you to know something that I firmly believe...
God wants to speak to you and show you things about your life, your future direction, others and their lives, even before it happens.
Jesus said that "God has given us ears so we can hear Him!"

I want to encourage you have a healthy expectation that God will speak to you about what you need to hear, before you need to do the biggest things in your life.
He wants to speak prophetically to us all and not just the so called "Special People".

I can give you many examples in my life and ministry of how this has worked out.
God spoke clearly to me on a train one day that I was about to change direction and serve Him in a full-time capacity. And it happened exactly as He said.
God has spoken to me about different situations and given me ideas/advice on how I should proceed. And it went way better than I could have ever imagined.
He has warned me about certain people and situations.
He has encouraged who I should contact and what I should say.
It is exciting and liberating!

Please take some time to pray this week.
Ask the Holy Spirit to speak in anyway you need to hear.
And let God lead you to exactly where He knows is best for you to be...

Something to think about...

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Journey Trust vs Stationary Trust

As I was just flicking through my Facebook feed the other day, looking for who knows what and why, this Scripture appeared on a video someone shared.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Psalm 20:7 NIV

It caught my attention not because of who was in the video and the message they were trying to convey, but by the fact it mentions chariots and horses...

I believe there is an important reason why the Psalmist mentions these two things.
They could have mentioned trusting in homes and hotels.
They could have used food and clothing references.
Instead they referred to two different methods of transportation.
Two different ways someone can travel well on a journey.

When it comes to trusting God, the trust that scripture seems to indicate to me might be the best has nothing to do with being stationary and all to do with moving.
We are called to walk by faith and not by sight.
We are encouraged to take steps of faith.
God wants us moving forward in faith not waiting in a corner for something mystical and magical to happen.

If you are praying to merely survive?
Praying to maybe make just through another day?
And getting frustrated because it appears maybe God isn't answering that prayer, maybe that is the point?

God promises to look after your "today", the moments and needs you currently have.
While He is looking after the "basics" He asks us to put one faith foot in front of the other and keep on going.
To keep reaching out. To keep ministering to others. To keep serving one keep on moving forward doing the work of the ministry.

Don't just take my word for it.
Why not give it a try today and tomorrow and the next day?
Let me know if it makes a difference in your life...

Something to think about...

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Can I Do It Again?

As I trudged along a familiar off road run course last night I started to think "can I do it again"?
You see I have fought the weight and health fight before.
Climbed a pretty huge mountain.
Achieved some amazing things.
The view from the top was pretty amazing!

And now after some years of injury and health challenges I am feeling like I am at the bottom of an even bigger mountain. I am wondering if I can even do it again? Do I have what it takes? Should I even bother because I am older now and I know the price I need to pay...

I can't help but think the battle I am facing in my mind is what many believers face as the navigate life sometimes!
We have mountain top moments in faith that are truly awesome and then seem to find ourselves back in another valley. We wonder whether we can make that climb again? Wonder if we have what it takes? Should we even try because we have "been there and done that"?

Maybe think of it like this for a moment...

Can you call someone a mountaineer because they climbed one mountain?
They are given that title because they know it is so worth it to climb again and again.
It would seem ridiculous to them to not keep climbing.
Can you call someone an adventurer if they only go once in a lifetime?
Can you call someone a generous person if they only do it once?
You probably get where I am going...

It is not the "once-lers" who live life as who they can be in Christ.
It is those who have climbed, fallen, attempted, failed, gone again and succeeded, and built in themselves a belief that anything is worth the goal. That God is with them and He will help them no matter what comes their way.

Have you fallen recently?
Have you wondered if you can climb again because you are now feeling valley bound?
Have you potentially raised a white flag of surrender and given up on the dream?

Just as the Psalmist says...
God is with us in the valley.
God is wanting to light the way forward and back up.
And God is preparing another mountaintop moment you.
It is waiting. God is ready.
Let's climb again together trusting God will help us there...

Something to think about...