Pastor’s Pen 1st April 2018

Shalom. May you grasp the depth of the resurrection and the message it has for our lives as it points us to the promise of eternal life that begins now and is fulfilled through Jesus Christ.
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
This was a response you were quite likely to hear in the early church as they placed the reality of Easter at the centre of their understanding. For the early followers it was more than the teachings and the miracles that attracted them to the message of Jesus – the evangel – the gospel – the good news; it was the resurrection centrepiece. For the Messianic Jews it meant that Jesus was the Messiah – the promised one – the anointed one – the chosen one – the Son of God; it was the fulfillment of prophecies, stretching back hundreds of years. In the book of Zechariah alone, the life and death of Jesus fulfilled many prophecies. For the Gentile and Jew alike, it meant that Jesus had conquered death! He IS risen!
Death was the final frontier, and still is. With medical science seeming to claw back from the grave many who once were as good as dead it seems that our ability to offer miracles come on a daily basis, yet there is always still that divine intervention, that spark of the eternal that medical science has failed to grasp or capture. We can do many things and we understand much, we can manipulate life, and even recreate it.
But we can’t define what it is that causes life to be. Maybe one day they’ll discover a ‘God gene’, (perhaps they already have, which will mean that Dan Brown can write another book!) but I don’t know if they’ll ever be able to make life from death.But Jesus can, and does. You see death can take many forms; there’s our physical death, the one where our bodies cease to function and this life as we know it ends, only to continue in a new way that as yet I don’t fully understand not having been there myself. But we face death daily when our goals aren’t met or our esteem is attacked, our reputation impugned, our hopes shattered, our dreams dashed. We face death each time we commit sin (Romans 6:23), so in many ways it’s surprising that we are so afraid of it. For in Christ we no longer need to fear death, as he has overcome the grave!
Paul grasped it well in 2 Corinthians 4 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.

For the secret of the resurrection life is to embrace the death of Christ, so that we may go beyond it to discover eternal life. When our eyes are set on the eternal not the temporal we die to the things that seem important; materialism, prosperity, wealth etc… But it’s not the message of Christ but Christ Himself who our hope is in. His message – His good news; lives because He lives. It has the power to change lives because He has that power. It’s not some force moving through the world, but a person – Holy Spirit – who embraces and cares, understands and nurtures, leads and guides us and most importantly, introduces and reveals Jesus Himself.
None of it would be true or even matter if Easter didn’t happen. He is Risen!

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 25th March 2018

Shalom. Let the passion of Christ remind you of th week ahead and remember what Jesus went through for each of us.
Romans 5 6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
Ever wondered why it was at just the right time? Well, theologians, scholars and others have plenty to say about that, but I want you to think about this. It was just the right time for you… because when you needed him, he was there. It’s not so much the actual time, but the act of the time. When you couldn’t do anything else, perhaps you’d realized that or maybe you are blissfully unaware, but at that time when you couldn’t do anything, Christ did everything… that’s why he could say – It is finished – there’s nothing you need to do, or can do, to add to his work on the cross. But you can and should take that message and live it out and share it widely and extravagantly, because, it was an extravagant expression of love!
Because the cross wasn’t the end of the story, it was simply the end of a chapter in a story that is still being written.
I wonder what your chapter reads like?

Have a blessed week
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 18th March 2018

Shalom. Let God remind you of the journeys you’ve made and companions you’ve shared it with…

Being a Christian is more than just believing in Jesus, accepting his sacrifice for our sin, embracing his invitation to full life and being obedient to him.
It’s also realising we are accepted into a community of faith with others who are on similar yet uniquely different journeys to ours. The Christian faith is not meant to be lived alone. It is an invitation to celebrating and discovering and enjoying into the life of the Trinity… God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Just as they are one, we are invited to be one… this was Jesus prayer in John 17. Just before he was to be taken away, Jesus went to the garden to pray and there… he prayed for us!
20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

Be encouraged… Jesus thought of you way before you thought of him and he invited you to community so you wouldn’t have to be alone.

 

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 11th March 2018

PASTOR’S PEN: Shalom. May God dwell in your dreams, inhabit your
habits, abide in your decisions and reveal His purpose for and to you.
Relationships are a two way street. Once we begin one, then it needs to
continue, it needs to involve us or else it’s not a relationship, but merely
an encounter. It needs to involve a transfer of information, ideas,
emotions and connection. It needs to flow between you and the other(s).
It needs to grow over time.
Relationships shouldn’t, by their very nature, be static, but instead be
constantly ebbing and flowing. Whilst there may be stability and
constancy, there will be change, if for no other reason than we change.
As a father, I will always be my three sons Dad, but the way that
relationship works has changed over time. I can’t treat them now, as they
are all young men, in the same way I did when they were pre-schoolers
(though sometimes I wonder?). They have changed, and so have I.
I’ve been married to Rebecca for just on 31 years, though when you look
at us I’m sure you think that can’t be so! We simply got married young.
Whilst we are still married, our marriage isn’t what it started out as, it has
grown and changed along with us.
It’s a sad thing when people try to hang on to something from the past
because it was better back then and this is never truer of relationships.
People have sometimes said to me with absolute sincerity, that
___________ is not the person they used to be; as though that’s a crime
on ____________’s part. Of course they aren’t. Hopefully you aren’t
either. That’s why the bible encourages us to bear with each other’s
faults, to practice grace, to love, to journey together, because we change,
we learn, we grow and as we do we sometimes (or often) get it wrong.
But the greatest wrong is when we write people off because they’ve changed. Sure, we might need to hold
them to account for their change. We might need to encourage discipline and we might even need to
challenge them on change that isn’t good, proper or helpful. If they get involved in illegal, immoral or
irresponsible behavior we might even need to hold them at a distance. But we should always be open to
being open.
In the parable of the prodigal Son, the Father always looked for His son to return, but it wasn’t until His son
did return repentant, broken, wiser and humble, that the Father embraced Him back into the family. God
hasn’t changed – He’s the only one that won’t.
May you discover the stability of Christ, the anchor of faith, the glory of God and the guidance of His Holy
Spirit in the coming weeks.
Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 4th March 2018

Shalom. As God speaks may you listen; as he leads may you follow and as he encourages may you submit.

What fruit does a grapevine give? Grapes… seems obvious, but the type of plant, tree or bush determines the fruit. The same should be true in our life. We are called to be fruitful and if we remain in him and he in us, then we should bear fruit. Fruit in keeping with our Christian faith.

Just as a tree or vine produces fruit simply because it does, we too must ensure that our connectedness to God through Jesus sees our fruit bear itself because we are in Christ. Our focus shouldn’t be on bearing, but on being.

Reality is that we often focus on the things we can measure, when often those are a symptom of our relationships and journey, and the abundance of the crop goes up and down just as life has its ups and downs.

Also remember that whilst God will always be disciplining because he will never stop discipling us. The difference is ‘in’ –  discipl’in’ing and discipl’’ing. When God’s pruning you to bear more fruit it feels just like someone is hacking away at our life and it can hurt. But just as the difference between a scalpel in the hands of a surgeon is light years different from the scalpel in the hands of a thug, when the cuts happen, the feeling can be the same ( especially if there isn’t anaesthetic)

If we feel we need to bear more fruit (think Gal 5:22-23) then we should ask God to help us and press closer into him and his word, spend time in prayer and practise being with him, write a journal or go on a retreat; just don’t forget, the pruning will continue, especially if we’re serious to grow in God. The difference is to embrace or resist the process; your choice.

I trust you embrace the opportunities to grow in the weeks ahead

 

Bless ya

 

Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 25th February 2018

Shalom. May you realise how much you are loved and your purpose in life.
A little story for you…
“A man walking through the forest saw a fox that had lost its legs, and he wondered how it lived. Then he saw a tiger come up with game in its mouth. The tiger ate its fill and left the rest of the meat for the fox.
The next day God fed the fox by means of the same tiger. The man began to wonder at God’s greatness and said to himself, “I too shall rest in a corner with full trust in the Lord and he will provide me with all that I need.”
He did this for many days but nothing happened, and he was almost at death’s door when he heard a voice say, “O you who are in the path of error, open your eyes to the truth.
Stop imitating the disabled fox and follow the example of the tiger.”
Are you tired of drifting through your Christian life, trusting for God to provide everything?
Perhaps it’s time to open your eyes a bit more and see what God has given you to do, for in that you will also discover the answer of who He is calling you to be. As you grow in understanding of who you are in Christ you will further discover what He has for you to do.
Have an awesome week.
Bless ya.
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 11th February 2018

Shalom. Remember that with God all things are possible, so what’s one thing you’d like to see that would glorify Him? If you’re not sure, then ask him.
God loves it when we pray. I don’t just mean sitting there and telling Him all the things we want or need and people who need a touch or a healing, that prayer is fine, but it’s not the full depth available to us.
Jesus often withdrew up mountains and prayed, he ran a conversation in his heart and his head with his Father. He would say, ‘I’m doing what my Father has told me…’
How could he know what God told him if he wasn’t listening to hear back from God. This is often the
dynamic of prayer we struggle to develop – hearing what the Spirit is saying…
In 1 Kings 19 Elijah was desperate to hear from God… 11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. 
After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.”
Often we expect God to move in big, powerful and majestic ways – and he does, but when he really wants us to listen, I’ve noticed he tends to whisper.
When someone whispers, I have to really listen and double check I’ve heard, when someone whispers I know that they just mean it for me, so I take it as important.
In Matthew 10 when Jesus sent out the 12 apostles he encouraged them…
27 What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!
What is God whispering to you today that he wants you to shout out tomorrow through your words, deeds and attitudes?
I hope you have a great week discovering his whisper.

Bless ya

Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 18th February 2018

Shalom. May the author of your faith write your next chapter with passion as you engage him the same.
I was thinking that often a tragedy with churches is that so often we focus on the areas we differ on, and not celebrate the things we have in common; also we tend to look to others to give us what ‘we need’ instead of seeking God ourselves.
It is my belief that our Christian life is primarily one of relationship and journey as we follow Christ Jesus and engage in the things He has for us. This needs to happen on individual, congregational and even national levels.
It is important to have good companions on the journey, they ‘spur us on to love and good deeds’. This is true for us as individuals when we mix in small groups and as congregations, but they should never have to wear the burden of carrying us to and across the finish line. Jesus doesn’t expect any of us to be completely responsible for others’ faith and hold us accountable for their growth or lack of. It is true we have a part to play, some of us a greater part and I include myself in that. The sad thing we do is narrow our perception of how to live this life of following Christ and brand all who differ as wrong or in error. It is undoubtedly true that some are, and God will sort them out, but often they aren’t wrong, just different.
The challenge is how we handle diversity when it sits next to us in the form of a person; or a church down the road; after all Jesus said:
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples–when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:34-35)
It’s easy to love someone who is just like us, but harder if they aren’t. This love needs to extend beyond us as individuals and as a church see us reaching out and loving the wider church that makes up the church of Hamilton, or Waikato or New Zealand or the world
I heard a great line the other day: If the church wants a better pastor, it only needs to pray for the one it has.
This is just as true about any of us. If we want a better church pray for it. After all, when we work, we work. When we pray, God works.
Bless ya
Pastor Mike