Pastor’s Pen 31st May 2020

Shalom. Be reminded of how immense the universe is… and then consider that the Creator of it knows you.
Well this weekend sees us back together on a Sunday morning. There’ll be forms to sign, hands to clean and guidelines to observe but we’ve nearly made it through lockdown.
In Aotearoa we have largely dodged the pandemic that is still raging in many places. Through out this time I have been intrigued by the number of ‘prophetic’ proclamations and conspiracy theories that have abounded. Many of these have arisen because as humans we love to ‘know’ and secret knowledge is even better. So when crises occur we sense a slip in our knowledge and we seek to understand why it happened and what will be the result. A conspiracy appeals to many and often based on half truths they can seem plausible… who knows, some of them might be true.
Essentially we like to know what’s coming up, so we accept things that normally we wouldn’t. After all, these haven’t been normal times.
I have been asked if I think these are the end days and is Jesus returning soon?
Well, I don’t know. On one hand yes… we’ve been in the end times ever since Jesus ascended… there have been many times throughout history people have considered that the end days were here, but we’ve yet to see him descend through the clouds.
Whenever I find myself facing this I’m reminded of Matthew 6 v34…“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
I think it’s good to consider the implications of Jesus return but we should approach everyday as if it were our last opportunity to worship him, because you never know… it might be.
I’m content with leaving some mystery in the hands of a loving Saviour and trusting … that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6
Until then… have an awesome week.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 24th May 2020

Shalom. With God all things are possible, and in God may you also find them beneficial and permissible.

Repentance is important to a Christian. To repent means to change your direction, to change your mind, to change your lifestyle, your habits and your relationships. Unless these changes have taken place in your life, you have never really come to know Jesus Christ. Repentance, true repentance, is followed by a transformed mind and life. It’s a radical thing.
Grace is, I believe, a really good sign that repentance is at work. Not that you freely accept grace and see it as a free ticket out of your sin and a pardon for bad behaviour – What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6.1-2)
Grace holds us in wonder as we realise the immensity of forgiveness that has been awarded us and further realise we don’t deserve it and then realise even further that regardless of that we are truly free!!! Grace is the act of God that we respond to in thankfulness and gratitude, it begets an attitude of amazed appreciation for what God has done and propels us to a desire of wanting to show God the depth of that gratitude by living lives that bring Him glory; not because we have to, but because we want to. We don’t view it as a free ticket, but as an invitation into a lifelong journey of growth, discovery, joy, suffering and servanthood.
We are beginning to understand grace when we can honestly be satisfied with whom we are, warts and all…
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12. 9-10)

Grace doesn’t always change us, but it always allows us to change. Grace is a gift, given to us from God, and often in relationships, it’s the best gift we can give others. Grace gives us room to be ourselves, it doesn’t excuse bad behaviour, attitudes or language; it helps us find the strength to face it and the wisdom to repent of it.

I hope that you have a grace-filled week flowing from repentance as Christ continues to complete the good work He began in you.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 17th May 2020

Shalom. Remember that you are never truly alone, Jesus is always with you.

We’re on the cusp of moving to level 2 as I write this and whilst it will bring quite a few changes to how we function, it doesn’t yet allow us back into our Sunday morning gatherings together in our building. Instead we will be having house groups available for up to 10 maximum (dependent on the size of the house) and are even now (Wed morning) still trying to organise them. We’re getting there and hope to be able to include all those who are keen to be involved. Look out for more information coming…
Whatever happens, if you are feeling unwell please do not attend a house group. Also, if you are immune compromised, it may be better to wait for a bit longer before mingling with a larger group.
I’ve had some difficult moments this week myself. Part of it may be due to less beach walking as Lochy recuperates from another ear operation and is unable to swim. Part of it may be the wetter weather. Part of it may be missing everyone else… whatever it is, it’s been a struggle at times.
Psalm 46:10a says… Be still and know that I am God!
Sometimes that stillness can be difficult to achieve in your inner space as a hundred different situations vie for your attention… prayer needs, sermon ideas, relational challenges people face, intercession, illness, stresses, workplace situations, the list goes on…
In the midst of all of these good challenges, I sometimes struggle to be still. To hone in on that quiet voice, that whisper, that echo of divinity that anchors me in the storm of life.
Have you ever been out in a storm? It’s quite an amazing thing. Lochy and I have walked the beach in the middle of them and it can get tiring as you simply try to walk down the sand, the wind driving the rain into your face, leaking through your waterproof layers and chilling you slowly, though Lochy seems to be impervious to it and simply enjoys himself. It’s invigorating after you get out of the weather and dry off and are able to observe the weather beating the window instead of your face, the rain lashing the glass instead of your body and you feel the warmth seeping in to your core as the cold is defeated.
That’s kind of how I feel, when I can find that place to ‘Be still and know that I am God’.
It’s been a struggle to get there this week, but I’m discovering it slowly.
I pray you can be sheltered from the storms that may pass your way. Whatever they may be.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 10th May 2020

Shalom. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you daily in your understanding of God’s word.
Our God is indefinable in the sense he has no limitations. Whilst we may have some definition of his character and his nature we cannot put him in a box.
Often I see people yearning for the supernatural aspects of God to manifest at any time things become difficult or different. Such a time as this pandemic is no exception. Can God make this virus go away like a miracle’? Of course he can… but he hasn’t.
Can God cure people who are ill, not just with this virus, but a multitude of other sicknesses and diseases? Yes, I believe he can, and sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t.
Can God make everything nice and pleasant, fluffy and nice. Yes he could, but he is very unlikely to in my experience.
You see adversity can deepen us, it can mould us, it can test us, it builds perseverance and develops character.
We see hard times as hard… fair enough… but to be treated as a safety and health issue and therefore we need to eliminate, minimize or isolate the effects far from us.

Don’t think I’m saying we should pursue hard times, no, we shouldn’t. But we should be prepared for them to happen, we should expect them and we should accept them when they come.
We shouldn’t view them necessarily as a punishment for something we have done wrong (though they might be a consequence of them). Often hard times, such as many have experienced recently and may continue to as the ramifications of the pandemic and ensuing lockdown continue, aren’t directly attributable to something we have done. In cases like this we tend to hold God responsible, we even call them ‘acts of God’, and ultimately that is true. God is always sovereign but often we have a collective responsibility to issues that no one person is responsible for.
Why are there literally millions of people starving in the world? There is enough food, we just don’t distribute it equally.
Why are millions of people living in poverty? There’s enough wealth, but it’s distributed unfairly.
God could supernaturally intervene because he is a supernatural God, but he’s also the God of the natural and chooses to allow us to seek the answers.
Have you heard the line… Your often the answer to your own prayer… Often we see a need (plenty of times because of hardship) and we bring it to God in prayer.
The challenge for each of us is that normally we seek someone to answer our concern because we have no idea how to do it in our own skin.
We as a little church in Whitianga can’t solve world hunger or poverty… but we can make a difference in our community, our local and global community. We can’t help everyone, but we can help someone. We can’t provide for every need, but we can provide some needs.
It was so amazing to see what happened with the resources we were able to send to Fiji recently as they grappled with the consequences of the recent storm… we couldn’t get them everything, but we helped them with something.
And we should, because Jesus’ love compels us to… even if, or especially when, it’s hard.
Maybe we could help our neighbors or workmates. Maybe there are people who are really missing their family… I know I am. We can’t fix that, but we could let them know we understand what’s it like because we have those feelings too and we care.
Maybe we could drop a card off to someone… join our neighbors for a drink in the street… plan a celebration for when we can actually get together and feast?
Maybe we could do something?
Because even a little can go a long way, I saw that in Fiji and I’d love to be able to see how else we can. You see, the more we get involved, the more we can see where God is at work.

Have a great week and have fun trying something to answer your prayers.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike