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..."

"...my 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...