Pastor’s Pen 4th August 2019

Shalom. May you know His truth and let that truth set you free and may you understand the responsibility that it infers on you to be a prisoner of grace and mercy.

“Honesty is such a lonely word…” Billy Joel had it right didn’t he? There’s the saying that honesty is the best policy, and it’s true, but at times we can’t handle full disclosure and the implications, consequences and knowledge it can bring. I’m honestly grateful that God doesn’t reveal more than I need to know, even if at times I want to know more.
Honesty and truth have been virtues that have been prized highly in human society for thousands and thousands of years; so you got to wonder why… “everyone is so untrue.” (BJ again)
Well it’s because we often aren’t honest with ourselves; Paul hints at this in Romans…
7 15 “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”…
And when we do this, we often don’t want to admit it, so we cover it up hoping no one will find out, then God comes along and asks what’s happening, and we’re confronted with the truth of ourselves again and our choice is to deny, fumble around and try to ignore God, or front up, admit we screwed up, repent and learn.
Maybe this was why King David was attributed in scripture (the only man who was) as having a heart after God; he certainly made his share of stuff ups, but it wasn’t the mistakes that defined him. It was what he did with them, he was honest about them and he confessed them. Confessed to the point we can still read about them; and whilst those mistakes help us understand him, they don’t define him though.
We all make mistakes. I’ve learnt that they’re the one thing no one will try to take from you or share with you. The danger is when we let our mistakes define us; instead, we should let them refine us. Amazing what a difference one letter can make isn’t it?

I hope that you too can let something as small as a changed letter, allow your life to blossom into the things God has for you.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 28th July 2019

Shalom. Allow time to be… nothing more… just be… to know thyself is both easy and hard, it requires us to stop and spend time alone. The Psalmist encourages us to ‘Be still and know that I am God’. There is a time for quiet and being alone. I read this article awhile ago and thought I’d pass it on…
Solitude Is Source of Freedom
Life, like Ministry, must be done in a rhythm of engagement and withdrawal. Wise followers of Christ have always understood solitude to be the foundational practice. Jesus engaged in it frequently. But what makes it so important?
Solitude is the one place where we gain freedom from the forces of society that otherwise relentlessly mould us. It is (in one old phrase) the “furnace of transformation.”
Dallas Willard noted an experiment done with mice a few years ago. A researcher found that when amphetamines are given to a mouse in solitude, it takes a high dosage to kill it. Give it to a group of mice, and they start hopping around and hyping each other up so much that a fraction of the dosage will be lethal—so great is the effect of “the world” on mice. In fact, a mouse given no amphetamines at all, placed in a group on the drug, will get so hyper that in 10 minutes or so it will be dead. “In groups,” Willard noted, “they go off like popcorn.”
You’d think only mice would be so foolish as to hang out with other mice that are so hopped up, so frantically pursuing mindless activity for no discernible purpose that they put their own lives at risk.
Citation: John Ortberg, “Keeping Your Clock Ticking,” Leadership Weekly (8-29-02).
Hope you find time to be alone this week!

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 21st July 2019

Shalom. May you be reminded that God created humour and enjoys a good laugh.

I reread this story the other day and thought I’d like to share it with you…
Does God Dance on Your Potato Chips?
Not too long ago I had “one of those days.” I was feeling pressure from a writing deadline. I had company arriving in a couple days and the toilet was clogged. I went to the bank, and the trainee teller processing my deposit had to start over three times. I swung by the supermarket to pick up a few things and the lines were serpentine.
By the time I got home, I was frazzled and sweaty and in a hurry to get something on the table for dinner. Deciding on Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, I grabbed a can opener, cranked open the can, and then remembered I had forgotten to buy milk at the store. Nix the soup idea.
Setting the can aside, I went to plan B, which were leftover baked beans. I grabbed a Tupperware from the fridge, popped the seal, took a look and groaned. My husband isn’t a picky eater, but even HE won’t eat baked beans that look like caterpillars.
Really frustrated now, I decided on a menu that promised to be as foolproof as it is nutrition-free: hot dogs and potato chips. Retrieving a brand new bag of chips from the cupboard, I grabbed the cellophane and gave a hearty pull. The bag didn’t open. I tried again. Nothing happened. I took a breath, doubled my muscle, and gave the bag a hearty wrestle. With a loud pop, the cellophane suddenly gave way, ripping wide from top to bottom. Chips flew sky high. I was left holding the bag, and it was empty. It was the final straw. I let out a blood curdling scream. “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!!”
My husband heard my unorthodox cry for help. Within minutes he was standing at the doorway to the kitchen, where he surveyed the damage: an opened can of soup, melting groceries, moldy baked beans, and one quivering wife standing ankle deep in potato chips. My husband did the most helpful thing he could think of at the moment. He took a flying leap, landing flat-footed in the pile of chips. And then he began to stomp and dance and twirl, grinding those chips into my linoleum in the process!
I stared. I fumed. Pretty soon I was working to stifle a smile. Eventually I had to laugh. And finally I decided to join him. I, too, took a leap onto the chips. And then I danced. Now I’ll be the first to admit that my husband’s response wasn’t the one I was looking for. But the truth is, it was exactly what I needed. I didn’t need a cleanup crew as much as I needed an attitude adjustment, and the laughter from that rather funky moment provided just that.
So now I have a question for you, and it’s simply this: Has God ever stomped on your chips? I know that, in my life, there have been plenty of times when I’ve gotten myself into frustrating situations and I’ve cried out for help, all the while hoping God would show up with a celestial broom and clean up the mess I’ve made of things. What often happens instead is that God dances on my chips, answering my prayer in a completely different manner than I had expected, but in the manner that is best for me after all.
Sometimes I can see right away that God’s response was the best one after all. Sometimes I have to wait weeks or months before I begin to understand how and why God answered a particular prayer the way he did. There are even some situations that, years later, I’m still trying to understand. I figure God will fill me in sooner or later, either this side of Heaven or beyond.
Can I embrace what He’s offering? Can I let His joy adjust my attitude? Am I going to stand on the sidelines and sulk, or am I willing to learn the steps of the dance he’s dancin’ with my needs in mind? I’ll be honest with you: Sometimes I sulk. Sometimes I dance. I’m working on doing more of the latter than the former. I guess the older I get the more I realize that He really does know what He’s doing. He loves me and I can trust Him. Even when the chips are down.
May your week ahead be one where the dancing is joyful.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 14th July 2019

Shalom. Remember that God will never leave you… regardless of how you feel about that.
We live life balanced between belief and faith, scientific evidence and facts, emotional intelligence and instinct. In some ways they can seem mutually exclusive but in a weird way we mysteriously weave them together in a way that helps us filter the world we live in through different lenses.
Studies have shown that people of faith tend to be more content and stable (excluding extremists I assume) which shows there’s a connection between our spirit and emotions.
Many have expressed conflicting interest between science and faith, but personally I haven’t found that. I view them as complementary views… answering a similar question in a different way.
Also, science can exercise faith within itself when it takes theories and accepts them as fact, a classic example is evolution. I’m not going to argue the merits of creation vs evolution but simply say that both have valid aspects and aren’t entirely provable an aspect of faith being involved. They both can look at the same dynamic and come up with differing ways they occurred. My frustration is evolutionists who won’t entertain the idea that creation narratives can be used to describe how things occurred. It’s a case of… if I believe in it then that’s how it works.
Whilst Jesus asks us to have faith, he also encourages us to ‘test the spirits’… in other words check out if it makes sense, does it line up with what we already understand and have experienced? And… ask him to confirm it.
If you have any questions or doubts about things that’s good, even the disciples did when they worshipped Jesus at the end of Matthews gospel.
But don’t think that all your doubts will be answered in a scientific context. Sometimes you have to trust and believe.

Have an awesome week.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 7th July 2019

Shalom. May you always be in harmony with his Holy Spirit and ever able to discern his whisper and direction.
Often the key to unity in any group, organization or institution is to keep the main thing the main thing.
Groups form around a purpose in the form of an ideal and/or a person and that purpose and/or person gives us direction.
Normally it’s the founder, who focuses their followers on the purpose and encourages the next generation of leaders to do the same.
Obviously for the Christian Community that person is Jesus… our advantage is that he’s still alive and active in his church… we are likened to his hands and his feet, his bride, a body made up of people with different views, abilities, personalities and ways of life but united in their worship of Him.
This is our main thing… If Jesus matters at all, He matters most.
So whilst there’s a lot of things that we can talk about and a multitude of opinions, theologies and positions we might have we should always come back to Jesus.
An aspect of this is to be open to seeing how others view Jesus as well as critiquing our own paradigm. For we can all be guilty of recreating Him in our image, making him more a product of our culture than seeking to embody His. This may not mean we’re wrong in how we view Jesus. We may just not be complete.
Jesus was both divine and human. He was a political activist who never sought office or fame. He was a spiritual guru with deep knowledge and understanding to lead us into deeper things of God. He was a healer who cured diseases that had not been cured for 700+ years. He raised the dead. He fed the multitudes of thousands with 5 loaves and 2 fish till they were full. He was a friend of many, enemy of none except those who chose to be and Saviour for everyone. He was and is the Messiah, the king of kings, the counsellor. He is Emmanuel, God with us.
He was with God in the beginning and will return in the end. He is Alpha and Omega. He is holy and righteous and will judge all justly.
He is Jesus. He loves me… and he loves you. Really that’s the best place to start and stay.

Have an awesome week. I’ll be in Matamata on Sunday. See ya next week.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike