Pastor’s Pen 29th March 2020

Shalom. May you discover peace in the midst of stress and his promises will hold you steady in the storms of this time.
Well here we are. Last weekend feels like it was a long time ago. I was in Te Awamutu and had decided that we wouldn’t have a morning service the next day. Now that’s the reality for the next few weeks. It will be a strange run up to Easter won’t it? However this is the season we call Lent. A time when we sacrifice something to honor our relationship with Jesus as we remember the time leading up to his crucifixion. Quite apt really. At this time much our sacrifice may be involuntary but necessary.
As I have seen the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the world, the reaction of our government seems sensible, even if it is fairly draconian. In the midst of all the panic from many I am and have been reminded of the power and the security and the peace that is found in our relationship with Jesus. He has given us victory (even if we don’t have immunity) and we have nothing to fear but fear itself.
I hope none of us, or those we love, die at the hands of this virus. This I believe is the greatest fear most have. Much of it is driven by the unknowns of the situation. But there is one who knows and ultimately we are best to trust and rest in him.
Meanwhile we are all adjusting to a new way of life in lockdown, many are saying life will never be the same. Well the truth is… that’s always been an option. I hope we can each have opportunity to take time and reconnect with the important things and appreciate more deeply the little things we have taken for granted. As a mild introvert I have coped well so far with reduced people contact and I think I won’t really struggle too much, but it has made me appreciate deeply the beauty of being a church family together. I’m really looking forward to seeing you all soon again.
Please feel free to engage with others in our church family throughout the Messenger group we have going. Also check out our Facebook page and also look at our new app. If you need more details please contact us and we can point you in the appropriate direction.

May you have a blessed weekend.

Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 22nd March 2020

Shalom. May you rest in God’s hands as he carries you forward.
Hasn’t it been an interesting week? The Coronavirus has been the big issue in everyones faces but their have been other issues that have been happening. Sadly, parliament passed the abortion bill. It is now legal to abort a child up to full term, but you can’t abort a calf!
The Coronavirus has had unprecedented effects on our country over the last week. The effects are likely to get worse. As I write this, currently non essential gatherings over 500 have been banned. It’s expected this number will drop, but to what extent we don’t know. Many churches are closing down their Sunday services and going to online and small gatherings in homes. We aren’t at that point here in Whitianga but who knows what the future holds.
As we look forward there are three things we can all do.

  1. Keep serving others and looking after yourself.
  2. Be mindful of your health. If you feel sick then self isolate and let us know so we can look out for you. It’s important that we are sensible.
  3. Keep praying and seeking God’s help. We’ll try to keep the doors open on Sunday as long as we can.

I will keep you updated as regularly as needed as and when things change.
Meanwhile, remember God is still on the throne and the church had been here before and has survived.

Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 15th March 2020

Shalom. Let the truth of God’s love be the release of fear and needing acceptance.

We all know God loves us… or I hope we do. It’s something that has been ingrained in our society due to our christian heritage. But when the revelation of this love first appeared about two thousand years ago, it was considered odd.
The gods of old mythology (who are still worshipped by some today) were seen as capricious and inconsistent in their dealings with man. They loved humanity when they felt like it, and this was the importance of worship… If something went wrong it was because you’d offended them somehow. They were unpredictable and sulky… actually they were a lot like us.
Into this strode a new way of life, of worship, of belief. It was freeing and it was powerful. Demons trembled and fled. People were healed and set free from illness, affliction and addiction. Families were restored. People started to live differently because of their belief in Jesus.
You see Jesus changed things… he still does, if we ask him… give him room to help us change, truly seek how he wants us to live.
But, sometimes we struggle with the process, we try to go back to the way things were because that’s what we know, what is familiar.
Interesting word familiar… same root as the word family… familia a Latin word that can mean household servants.
We like to stick with what we grew up with…. it becomes family to us.
But when Jesus came we were offered and accepted adoption into a new family.
So it makes sense we discover new ‘familiar’ ways to be and do life.
How has Jesus changed your life this week?
More forgiving, gracious and loving? Less driven to be busy? It’s going to be different for everyone.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 8th March 2020

Shalom. Let God dwell in your thought, abide in your heart and reside in your spaces.
Paul was encouraging Timothy to continue in his role of ministry he’d been released to and gave him this warning and advice in his second letter to him…
2 Timothy 4 : 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…(KJV)
I agree with this that the time has come, and, indeed has been with us since the end of the first century. Indeed, for about 2000 years the church has wrestled with this issue. But the language is something I struggle a bit with to be honest, and this verse to me is a good case of hermeneutical understanding of the scripture, helping us to better grasp what the Greek was saying – for me, this verse could be better rendered to us today to say… the time will come when people won’t listen to healthy teaching.
Eugene Peterson in ‘The Message’ takes this imagery of healthy to a digestive level…
You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy.
Because …not endure sound doctrine… gives me a picture of a set of laws, a stringent code of practice and a rigid adherence to a religious system; but ‘listening to healthy teaching’ sounds more in line with the invitation Jesus gave us in Matthew 11: 28 – 30 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
In fact there are people who write theses on just such issues; so it just goes to show that language changes over time and words can mean different things in different times to different generations. It doesn’t mean that another rendering is wrong; it’s just that we need to understand what it meant to those who heard it. It also helps to explain why there are so many differing versions of the bible, and they aren’t all created equal; but that’s another issue entirely.
I trust you enjoy grappling with the written words of God this week and applying them to your life.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike