Thursday, 24 November 2011

2 Timothy 4:1-2

"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you thischarge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction."


Had a wonderfully challenging conversation with a friend this week.  We were talking about sharing books with our non-Christian friends, and how often times we are inclined to say something that dismisses the spiritual in a book we are sharing.  "This is a great book, so well written, I think you'll enjoy it, ignore the spiritual bits if you're not into it, it's just a really good read"  This is what I was planning of saying the a friend I was intending to share a book with this holidays.  My friend said, we as Christian should be brave enough to be ourselves.  I'm a follower of Jesus Christ, and I need to honour Him by being truthful.  I'm not talking giving a 3 point sermon.  Just being brave enough to not make excuses or overlook our faith.  Our friends loves us, they know we are believe, and they can deal with our spirituality if we are genuine.  People detest falseness, they appreciate genuineness, even if they don't believe or agree.


So, as I pass over a book to my friend, I'm going to say "I really enjoyed this book, it's fantastically written, historically well researched, and spiritually touching, it's a jolly good read. I think you would enjoy it too."


We can only tell our own stories, our own experiences, and if they include Jesus and what He's done for us, then we should tell, not preach, just tell our stories.  It's not our job to convict, it's the Holy Spirits, so we can relax and enjoy sharing our lives, all parts of them with those we love.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Sojourner, Psalm 121



This Psalm is for the traveller.
Pilgrim says: "I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth."
Encourager says: "He will no let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The LORD watches over you - the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The LORD will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.


In less than 8 days our family travels from one side of the planet to the other.  Clearly we are not travelling by foot, nor in the scorching sun, nor under a cloud of superstition of the moons, however the LORD will be watching over us. From car journey, to check in, to day flight with 5 and 7 year old boys (on the 5 year olds birthday), the stop-over, waiting, plane change, arrival, jet-lag.  There is still risk, not as much I'm sure as travelling on foot to Jerusalem for a festival, with ankle breaking rocky tracks, bandits, fear of the moon causing seizures and running out of water.


The last time we were in the UK, the July 7 attacks happened.  I admit during that time, I had much fear.  In normal cicumstances travel does not invoked fear in me, excitement may cause butterflies in my stomach, but not fear.  I've been learning lately in a theoretical sense 'What is there to fear?', God knows the number of my days and always has, He protects and guides me, but one day he will call me home, now that will be an exciting journey.  But I don't want to get ahead of myself, as until that day, I have a 'To Do' list to get done, a purpose that needs to be fulfilled for my life, until then, the journey continues. That's assurance, God is in control. When my 'What is there to fear?' theory is faced with reality, I hope and pray I trust the knowledge of the will of God (Col 1:9).

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Gungor



Micheal Gungor:   worth a listen, don't you think?
I just played it for my husband, am now in shock as he wasn't that into it. "Bit quirky" was his comment.  Hmmm, interesting, I connected with it right away.  God created us all with unique tastes, it's a good thing too.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Crazy Love

Anyone ever read a book that others were raving about and just didn't get the same reaction.  I have heard nothing but good things about this book.  People even like it on Facebook, it has it's own page, it's that good to them.  At my church groups are studying it, it's that good to them.  So some think it's really good.  Not so much me...

I got some good nuggets from it, numerous thoughts to ponder.  But something about the style it was written in made me feel constantly reprimanded and not just me but all church goers.  If it wasn't in the title of this page, you would probably never guess that I'm referring to Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  It's a surprise isn't it?   I got some good points, but mostly I felt like I was getting a right royal telling off.  Maybe I needed it!

Maybe if I'd persevered and finished the book I may have had a revelation through his words.  But I didn't preserve, I quit because I didn't like it.  I wonder how much learning I have missed through unfinished books.  I also wonder if Pastor Chans' style put anyone else off?

Time is precious, and I'm not one to condemn people for being selective, time is hard to come by for many of us, we don't want to waste many hours of our life reading bad literature.  This book I was learning from, I just didn't like the style at all. Makes you wonder what I could have learnt if I had finished it.

If you have read Crazy Love by Francis Chan all the way through, and you have time to let me know what you got out of it, and what I missed, that would be great. Maybe I will humble myself and receive the telling off and a whole bunch of learning I should have preserved with in the first place.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Meet Phil Leager

So what do you ask does a girl from New Zealand have to do with a recording artist from Atlanta Georgia?


Well more than you may think.


I meet Phil Leager at a Salvation Army summer camp in Ohio in 1996. Phil was filling in his summer doing something worthwhile for children, I was an 'international' getting an experience of American culture, and travelling. Phil ran the music program at camp and was clearly gifted on piano, we could listen to his haunting heartful tunes all day long.  The boy had some talent.  Other than a love for Jesus, Phil and I have another special thing in common.  Greenwood Lake Camp was were we both found the loves of our lives.


Phil from Atlanta met Sarah from Australia in 1996. Sarah is a wonderful, honest, caring girl who won poor Phils heart big time.
Ingrid from New Zealand met Marcus from England in 1997. I returned to Greenwood Lake Camp a second summer, in 1997, I had such a wonderful time the year before, and low and behold, there was a lovely English boy, who just so happened to win my heart (details for another post).


This is not intended to be an advertisement for summer camps being prime locations to meet and marry, but I'm happy to say it worked for us!


Why am I telling you this? Because Phil and Sarah are real people with 3 cute-as children, they are busy, they live life like you or I do, they are real.  That realness, gives way to some amazing God honouring tunes on Phils latest album.  I vouch for this guy, both summers of '96 and '97 the boy had his head in his bible, and his fingers on they keys.  He has lived life, and life has been real.  They struggle with sleepless nights, tired children, teething, demanding schedules, mess, smells and work.  They are both a testimony to a life of praise. Phil is a talented musician with a fabulous family backing him.


If you would like to hear some of Phil's music, I invite you to click here to hear


Phil and Sarah are currently living in Melbourne, Australia.  You can find Phil Leager on facebook. Phil is working for the Salvation Army and just about to record and release a new worship album, you can download the song for free here. Get to know his music, and through his music, our Father in heaven.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Psalm 40

"I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire.
He set my feet on a rock and he have me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD."
(1-3)
"Many, oh LORD my God, are the wonder you have done.
The things you planned for us no one can recount to you.;
were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare."
(5)
"I desire to do your will, Oh my God; you law is within my heart."
(8)
"Be pleased, oh LORD, to save me; oh LORD, come quickly to help me.
(13)
"But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation always say, "The LORD be exulted!"
Yet I am poor and needy; may the LORD think of me.
You are my heap and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay."
(16-17)


I know taking odd verses out of a whole chapter makes it very bitsy, for that I apologise, but sometimes life is bitsy, and as we read chapters, we can grab and hold tight to verses that touch us tenderly.
God is so good, His timing is perfect, we are often in a rush, just like David in this psalm.  Nothing wrong with asking for action, as long as we are secure in God's timing, knowing He knows best and things will happen in the perfect timing of God.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Me - My enemy

We, as believers in Jesus Christ, have three enemies, the deceiver - Satan (1 Pet 5:8), the world we live in (1 John 2:15-17) and ourselves (Gal 5:17-19).  Before I get into this, I am again reminded that insights are gifts from God. Sometimes others have received the same gift years before. If that's you, hopefully you will enjoy the reminder, or you may just enjoy the fact that I have only just ‘got it’. I like to think that I’m only just getting this because it’s the right time for me to receive it, rather than the other alternative - that I’m a little slow! 

That I am my own enemy was news to me.  I thought I was on my side., Not sure why, as we haven’t always got along so well.  It didn’t take much convincing that I am my own worst enemy. It actually makes a lot of sense, even before reading Galatians 5:17. Let me read it to you now starting from the CEV, “The Spirit and your desires are enemies of each other.” Now I’m moving onto the NIV for the rest of verse 17 “They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”  Bear with me as I  spell things out to myself. If the Spirit of God (who is perfect and pure) is in conflict with my human desires, (which are sinful) then God is right and I am wrong.  Even when I want to be right, I am wrong, because of the influence  my sinful nature and my desires have  over me.  I have to admit, that’s not good news. I’m praying for a ‘however’… or a ‘but’, because that is no way to leave things. 

Good news. There is a ‘but’ … Are you ready.  You will have heard it all before, but I pray your ears will hear  this time from the Spirit himself. That you ‘get it’, whatever ‘it’ is that God really wants to bless you with today.

Paul is writing to the church in Galatia, who are struggling with falling back into the way of Law rather than the way of grace that comes through Jesus Christ.  Paul is telling them in no uncertain words, that they are being fooled.  He states that what he taught them is truth, that it came from God and they are confusing their faith by becoming enslaved to the law again. (Gal 3:1-5).  Why is this so  important?  Because we have three enemies: Satan, the world and our sinful nature.  The Galatians were being persuaded by their world, and believing their sinful nature. They had forgotten what they had been given (Gal 3:2): The Holy Spirit.  “Because you are sons (and daughters), God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts.” (Gal 4:6, NIV).  The Spirit of God is the key to reversing the ‘ doing wrong even when we want to do right” that we talked about before. Galatians 5 continues with the good news for the church in Galatia and for us. Verse 18 “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” 

I have to keep reading, I was going to jump down to verse 22, but then we miss out on the list  of things the  sinful natures produces.    Often times I find it hard to identify my sin, as it can seem innocuous, subtle, and not public.  Try reading out loud and slowly verse 19, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like.  I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
BUT [emphasis mine] the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

There is so much to unpack in there.  I pray the Holy Spirit will touch you with a verse or two that reveals to you something new.

For me, that list is full on, because it’s not just what happens in public but what goes on in private as well.   I guess the thing to remember with sin is that it is giving into an attitude of self.  We know hatred is wrong, but do we tone it down by saying to ourselves, ‘I don’t hate them, I just don’t have time for them’.   We know selfish ambition is wrong yet we can tone it down to ‘I really want to do the best I can, I’m very motivated’. We know discord is wrong, but really ‘I just don’t like them and we can’t get along with everyone’.  We are deceiving ourselves.  Tone it down if you want but the attitude is the same. Sin is sin. Don’t excuse your behaviour by watering it down. I am so good at that. I pray for the Holy Spirit to show me my sin that I may ask for forgiveness and be able to move forward, yet the whole time I am the one trying to hide it by watering it down.   I cannot trust myself. I water down the one thing that through repentance will build a stronger relationship with my Heavenly Father.

BUT, I love a good ‘but’, and boy do we need a good ‘but’ here. Verse 22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”   My Life Application Bible notes “the fruit of the Spirit is the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in us.”  In us and then through us.  Beth Moore put it wonderfully, “Why fruit? So that others can taste and see that the Lord is good!”  Isn’t it funny in a ‘not at all amusing’ way, how we water down our sin and find it hard to identify it in our own lives, yet the sin of others is written in neon signs! Lord, that we may stop kidding ourselves and see our sin for what it is and repent. Alert us Lord to our deceptive selves.

Our lives bear testimony to the Spirit of God, if we are willing to stop kidding ourselves and realise who our enemies are and what we can do to stop believing the watered down version of life those enemies would want us to believe and live life as it was meant to be lived, in genuine worship and appreciation to our loving Heavenly Father.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Yeah, Nah

I love New Zealand, I'm a patriotic person, I embrace the beauty of the place, the friendliness of the people, I enjoy rugby (when I have to), I cry at the haka, I sing loudly during the national anthem. I am so thankful to live in this great and small country.

One thing I love about New Zealand is the language, we speak English, kind of, clearly as I am typing this in English, but we also have some very unusual language of our own.  'Yeah, nah', is a prime example, you say that to a NZer and they will understand ... actually I have no idea what it means, I think it's just a gap filler, like 'um'.  But I love it.  'Sweet as', means good.  'Wop wops', means somewhere quite isolated.  'Ya reckon' means do you think. 'Sparrows fart' means up early in the morning. 'Rattle your dags' means hurry up. 'Yonks ago' means a long time ago. I could go on and on.

It gets you thinking, sometimes we in the church, speak a different language, a somewhat religious language, things like fellowship, revelation, worship, praise, blood offering, sanctification, and these are good things, we know they are good gifts from God.  It just makes you wonder how easy do we make it for folks from outside the church coming into the church. Do they feel comfortable surrounded by a language that they don't understand?  I wonder about our children too, growing up in an environment of language like this, do we explain what they are hearing.  Church, do we make it easy for others to approach us by the language we speak?

Just a thought. What do you think?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Behold the Lamb. By Keith and Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend

Behold the Lamb who bears our sins away,
Slain for us - and we remember
The promise made that all who come in faith
Find forgiveness at the cross.
So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of peace
Around the table of the King.

The body of our Saviour Jesus Christ,
Torn for you - eat and remember
The wounds that heal, the death that brings us life
Paid the price to make us one.
So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of love
Around the table of the King.

The blood that cleanses every stain of sin,
Shed for you - drink and remember
He drained death's cup that all may enter in
To receive the life of God.
So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of grace
Around the table of the King.

And so with thankfulness and faith we rise
To respond, - and to remember
Our call to follow in the steps of Christ
As His body here on earth.
As we share in His suffering
We proclaim Christ will come again!
And we’ll join in the feast of heaven
Around the table of the King

Words and Music by Keith and Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend

You can find out more about this song or other modern hymns from Getty Music ENJOY!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Deuteronomy 7:9

"Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God,  keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands."

I often write my prayers down, I'm a little distractible, so it helps me stay focused. One of my most written statements when I pray is; 'You are God, I am not.'  This verse from Deuteronomy is another reminder to me of who God is, and this knowledge gives me perspective on who I am.  I need that perspective or I tend to promote myself to 'Self professed Know it All'.  Clearly, I'm utterly out of my depth in that position.  But that is the idol of Self working in my life. Wise above all, faithful, mighty, refuge, worthy, it is all attributes that I can NEVER deliver on.  God is God, he is faithful, wise, mighty, a refuge, and worthy.

I'm learning to 'know' this just as Deuteronomy 7:9 tells us.