Pastor’s Pen 2nd February 2020

Shalom. May you know that God has your best interests at heart and knows the best path for you to take.
In Genesis we read of God’s original pattern of relating to humanity.
When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9 NLT

It seemed that in the evening God would ‘catch up’ and talk with Adam and Eve. Perhaps they discussed their plans for the next day, dissected the day just been, planned where they would take their annual holidays and what to have for dinner?
God knows… truly, he does.
There is no single thing that God isn’t interested in when it comes to us and scripture tells me that we can take everything to him in prayer. The fact that we often don’t, merely reflects the depth of blessings we have living in Aotearoa. Most of us don’t worry if we will eat today, (though we might worry about what we will eat), or if we will be warm and homed at night. But for many, and quite a few who follow Jesus… this is a reality.
Does this mean God has ignored them, or abandoned them?
Me Genoito… of course not!
If anything I believe that it seems He walks closer to them as they are more aware of their reliance and relationship with Him.
The truth is that we are all totally dependent on God, the air we breathe, the water we drink, yet we can unconsciously keep God at a distance because we don’t think we need Him… we live in a delusion of self sufficiency. This delusion is never exposed quicker than in our health.
No matter how much money or power you have… you cannot guarantee your health. You can influence it, enhance it, damage it or ignore it… but you can’t guarantee it.
Everyday I thank Jesus that I’m healthy and well… even if I don’t always feel it… because in Him I live and move and have my being.
What are you thanking Him for today?

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 26th January 2020

Shalom. Let God be your true north, let Jesus be your compass and let his Spirit be your guide.

There are two tensions we must grapple with in our journey with God is the one between grace and mercy on one hand and God’s holiness on the other.
We need both aspects in our life to live a faith that will please God. If we simply sit with grace and mercy, then we are likely to become adept at justifying various sins and issues and say that a loving God won’t have a problem; he’ll simply forgive us.
Likewise, if we simply sit with holiness then we are likely to become quite pious, judgemental and think of everyone else as not quite good enough, unless they’re just like us. Of course, no Christian ever does this, yeah right!

The reality is, we need both; and we need a balance; but our starting point must be in grace and mercy and also this needs to be our bias as well.
Micah was told what was required of him – “To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
Why? Because, as we get ‘holier’ we often end up becoming more judgemental, and this isn’t good; because we are never that good at judging, no matter how much experience we can have. That’s why Jesus spoke in Matt 7.
“1Do not judge others; and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye[c] when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

Paul mentions it several times in his epistles, particularly Romans (see chapter 2 and 3). So we’re best to leave the judgement to God and trust he will be fair; this is why Paul wrote in 2 Tim 4 – 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm, but the Lord will judge him for what he has done.
Paul knew that he wouldn’t be a fair judge because he was aware of his humanity, but even more so, he was aware of God’s judgement and was willing to trust God for the outcome. He chose to acknowledge the pain, hurt and betrayal, but doesn’t stay there brooding on it. He gave it to the Lord and left it there and proceeded to walk in grace and mercy.
This allowed Paul to keep growing in God’s holiness, because it’s not us who become holy, but rather Jesus becomes more apparent in us, because He will change us by causing us to alter the layout of who we are. We will change who we are by laying out ourselves on the altar.

Hope you have a great week pursuing grace and mercy and growing in holiness as Jesus becomes more real.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 19th January 2020

Shalom. May you enjoy the journey and be excited about the future…
I’ve been sitting here thinking about our future as Whitianga Baptist, where we’ve been and where we are going.
What thoughts muddle through my head?
Firstly, I don’t believe it’s about what we want; it’s about what we need.
For myself, I’m not so much thinking about you when I dream about where God wants this place to be in the next five years; rather I’m dreaming and seeing those that aren’t here yet. This doesn’t mean that I don’t think of you or see a need for you all in this process, very much the opposite.
I believe the church exists to further the kingdom of God amongst our society, and must always look to the lost that need the way or we will have lost the way to the needy.
Luke 19:10 – Jesus said, “I have come to seek and save the lost”. This was His mission on earth.
We have ALL been called to this mission.
Therefore, I firmly believe that each of us has a place and a part to play within the future of this church.
Some of us may know what that part is, whilst others are still discovering it. That is normal and indeed healthy. There are several things that I believe are key ways forward for us in this journey.
We must go together in the same direction, though we may not all be in the ‘same space’ within that journey.
We will have some who are ‘out front’ seeing where we need to go – visioning the way forward, scouting out the territory we are entering. They consider the nature the road must take to compensate for the nature of the terrain. The trailblazers, the pioneers.
Then there will be others who follow behind and ensure the way is ready for others to walk through. The ones who take the vision and birth it in reality. The road builders, the foundation layers, the engineers.
Then there will be those who provide the provisions necessary to feed those who are on the journey and to help solidify the foundations that they come up to. The ones who make the reality and the vision work, the habit formers, the chefs, the workers, the nurturers.
Then there will be those on the journey, whom perhaps aren’t sure where it is they’re going, but are following along and in time may work their way into one of the other groups as they find their place on the road. Together we journey in the same direction, but the perspective that each may have of the journey would be totally different.
Wherever you fit may you remember… God loves you just the way you are. But He refuses to leave you that way, He wants you to be just like Jesus.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 12th January 2020

Shalom. Allow God’s truth to inform your worth, his grace to inspire your attitude and his love to leak out everywhere.
Everybody’s normal till you get to know them. This speaks hugely to the bowing to societal norms and the pressure to fit in. It also speaks to the need for our society to have standard parameters of conduct and behaviour that are acceptable and healthy for a society, even a family, to function. Obviously not everyone adheres to these norms and this is why we have laws, to enforce and preserve society.
Furthermore we have police, courts, prisons and rehabilitation to ensure it works. Pretty heavy investment in making society normal and safe don’t you think?
Into this steps Jesus espousing some pretty radical concepts. He didn’t bag the law, or say it wasn’t relevant, needed or necessary. He said he came to fulfill it! The apostle Paul explored this in his writings and in his letter to the Galatians he wrote…
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
So the amazing potential for us in Christ is to function so well that we no longer need rules, regulations, constitutions and codes to guide our behavior. (I suggest we have a way to go then to reach that.) This requires a dynamic, real, living relationship with the Holy Spirit as he leads us daily. Obviously we aren’t there yet, but because God works with us, but we can keep our eyes forward, our hearts hoping and our attitude as that which Jesus had. One of service and humility, seeking not our own prominence, but realising his own significance. He knew who he was in God, he knew what he was called to do and he served that. The challenge is for each of us to do the same.
I hope and pray you have ample opportunities to demonstrate the fruit of God in your life.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 5th January 2020

May the beginning of a New Year remind you that everything has fresh opportunities with Jesus.
It’s about now you’ll expect some amazingly deep, insightful and profound piece of wisdom to begin the year.
Sorry, but what I really want to share is quite simple. Don’t let yourself get too busy. Start now by keeping time in your calendar for nothing. Nothing but what really matters – family and friends – make sure you allow time to spend with them, and especially our Saviour, our Lord and master, and our friend – Jesus.
They say we are whom we associate with – so if you haven’t been feeling particularly ‘divine’ or ‘Christ-like’ lately, be honest and ask yourself whom you’ve been associating with this past week. Then remind yourself that you can’t change the past but you can help determine the future and then consider what you want to be more like at the end of the year and then go for it! I will be.
How much time do you spend as God-time? Not just quiet-time but time which you set aside as being intentionally focused on God and your relationship with Him?
If you’re anything like me you’ll find mornings are slow starting. (My wife is the opposite). For others it’s their best time of day. As for me, I like evenings, (though I can’t handle too many along with early mornings) I find that is one of the best times for me to spend time with God.
Essentially what it boils down to is knowing what works for you. Then when you’ve got that sussed, you know the best time to spend with God developing your relationship with Him. If you can’t manage it every day for a half hour, then start off with 5minutes and build from there.
If you want to get closer to God, then the answer lies more with you than with Him.

May you know the truth and may he set you free.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike