Monday, 30 June 2014

The Harvest is Plentiful

I've been listening to a few things from the Relational Mission Sphere ( recently. The last thing I listened to was a guy from Tom Shaw from Karen's old church in Canterbury speaking on 'Reaching and Keeping 20s.' He said a few things that grabbed hold of me and I thought I would share them...

He spoke from the passage about Jesus sending out his disciples from Luke 10.

Luke 10: "The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves. Don’t take any money with you, nor a traveler’s bag, nor an extra pair of sandals. And don’t stop to greet anyone on the road."

He made three points that made an impact, they were:

1) We're Heralds not Heroes. 
Jesus sent the 72 out as lambs. Not courageous lions or roaring tigers, but timid, fearful lambs. Feeling fear when sharing about Jesus is natural and expected, but the great thing is that we are just heralds. Our job as disciples is to just 'go ahead' of our king and bring people into contact with Jesus. We're not there to break open hearts, or convince minds or even to 'convert' people. That's the Holy Spirit's job. We don't need to have all the answers, our job is to just be real. To be real about our faith; be real about how awesome are father is; and to be real about how loving our saviour is. We are just heralds that go before the King announcing that he's coming. We're heralds, not heroes and once we realise that, fear begins to shrink away. 

2) We need to be motivated by joy, not guilt.
Jesus starts off with the statement "The harvest is great, but the workers are few." That could be quite a guilt-laden statement. I'll be a harvester, but only because I have to... But Jesus adds something more "So pray to the Lord, who is in charge of the harvest." By adding that extra statement, 'mission' is not about guilt, but about being sent by the Father. So mission, should be a joyful response to knowing the Father, rather than a guilt-ridden response to the churches call. In fact, when christians are on mission and sharing about Jesus, it is when we are at our most joyful. So, our evangelism should be a response to our awesome father. Not feeling too evangelistic? Perhaps we need to spend some more time dwelling on who we are in Jesus, in God. Perhaps we need to spend some more time being sons and daughters.

3) We need to make friends with the feeling of vulnerability.
We can't trust God, if we're too busy trusting ourselves. When Jesus sent out the 72, he sent them out without a bag, money or extra shoes. Why? Because they needed to learn to be reliant on God and not themselves. Jesus regularly mentions how he didn't act without the Father, if that's true of Jesus, how much more so for us! We need to get used to feeling vulnerable and having to trust and hear from God in different situations. We need to get used to hearing God's prompting in different situations, rather than having a comeback already prepared. We need to make friends with vulnerability, because in our weakness, God is made strong.

The 72 went out apprehensive like lambs, with no money or clothes or anything. Yet they came back 'full of joy'. Why? Because they got to listen to the Father and herald the king. When we do God's Mission with Jesus, he can turn our fear into courage, our guilt into joy and our self-reliance into dependence on him. 

And just remember, the harvest is plentiful.

(If you want to listen check out the link. It's a wee bit slow to get started, but if you skip through to about 24 mins.)

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Honour: It's All About Identity (Part 2)

So in my last blog post I talked a wee bit about honour. How we are first called to honour God and secondly how this leads to us honouring ourselves.

We're also called to honour others. The bible references honour a few times in relation to other people.

Other references to honour:
  1. Parents - Exodus 20:12 "Honour your father and mother."
  2. Church Leaders - 1 Timothy 5:17 "Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honour, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching."
  3. Employers - 1 Timothy 6:1 "Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honour, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled."
  4. State Leaders - 1 Peter 2:17 "Honour the emperor."
  5. The Elderly - Leviticus 19:32 “You shall stand up before the gray head and honour the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord
  6. Widows - 1 Timothy 5:3 "Honour widows who are truly widows."
  7. Everyone - 1 Peter 2:17 "Honour everyone."    
You see, once we recognise who God is and who we are in him, it changes the way we relate to others. When I see myself as a child of God, who is holy and blameless, then I have to recognise that in other christians too. If I consider myself made in the image of God, I have to consider others made in his image too. Does that mean everyone gets it right all the time? No. But it does mean that even when I disagree with something I have to do it in a way that honours God, myself and other people. "Honour is not based on performance, it is based on identity." (Simon Holley, King's Arms Bedford).

I'm just gonna look at a few in a bit more detail. We'll start with parents... there will always be situations or outcomes where you disagree with your folks, especially as a teenager. There is a great quote by Mark Twain:  
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”  
The choice you need to make when dealing with these situations is realising that honouring your parents is the best outcome for everyone. You may disagree and you can certainly discuss differences, but ultimately you acquiesce because they are your parents and you are called to honour them. Even the worst parents need to be honoured, because like your relationship with God, it is not about performance - it is about identity. If they are your parents, regardless of situation and circumstance, they deserve honour. That's difficult at times, you may not even know your parents, but God gives us the grace we need.

Secondly, honouring widows. In New Testament times, the widow's were the bottom of societies ladder. So when Paul tells us to honour widows, he basically is calling us to honour the poor. God challenges us with honour. He doesn't call us to honour the easy people. We are called to honour everyone, especially the down and outs and the unlovable. We are called to show love, kindness and respect to the people that society tries to ignore. We are called to honour the poor. (For a long, but great message on remembering the poor, check out

Thirdly, honour everyone. Easy to say, harder to do. That means honouring the annoying driver who pulls out in front of you. It means honouring the old lady on the bus that smells. It means honouring that person at school who talks about you behind your back. Honouring people is not about being walked over and 'nice' to everyone. It is realising that everyone else has a story, like you and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect; realising that everyone else is imperfect, just as you are. We all get it wrong sometimes. Actually, we all get it wrong often.

The world doesn't hold honour in high regard. You only have to listen in on conversations, read the news or watch tv and you quickly see dishonour. That's our challenge as christians. It's to be in a place where the Holy Spirit, guides and prompts us to respond to people as Jesus would rather than how the world does. It's where we realise that we have been given grace upon grace and need to give that to others. It's about understanding that people don't have to earn honour and respect, they deserve it for just being people, made in the image of God. 

Biblical honour reminds me a lot of the maori idea of mana. When we treat people well, we not only increase our mana, but we also build up theres. Honour begets honour. If we want this world to start treating each other better, we need to follow God's example and show honour to all people. Especially those who don't appear to deserve it...

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Revisiting Spirituality (Part 1): God the Spirit and Spirituality

Introduction - God the Spirit, and Spirituality

The topic of spirituality has always been a foreign one for me at the least. Foreign, not only because I don't quite fully understand what spirituality is, but also, it isn't something we read in the newspaper or talk comfortably about on a general basis. But it is my interest to express my relationship with the spirit alongside the bible in order to deliver one approach to spirituality, and how it is applicable even in public. For the sake of irony (see next heading), I don't want people to misinterpret this blog as a direct finger point 'do this' because it's not at all. As it is just a yarn; one expression of one interpretation.

Spirituality and it's Hundred Interpretations

Spirituality is an important sphere in our lives, moreover, it is a space where we connect with God in particular ways. But sadly, spirituality is also an ambiguous concept. It is ambiguous because the bible says one thing, but people read three things, and thereafter the world has advertised a hundred things. Furthermore, the chemistry of its ambiguous nature is rather complex, but to put it simply it transpires out of these subsequent consequences: many people absorb many experiences, and therefore we tend to interpret many things. Spirituality from the current post-modern perspective, may be referred to, and limited only to as a concept. This limitation is a result of our inter-subjective web, simply: different people seeing various different things and ultimately; interpreting a particular response.

 The consequences of the ambiguous post-modern spirituality are the apparent unnecessary rituals we come across today. This has contributed to the "weird" and "spooky" vibe that people nowadays interpret when they come across 'spirituality'. For the sake of going off topic, all arguments aside: the bible is an absolute truth and so; how it describes spirituality should be seen as the real and true spirituality. But there are many ridiculous spiritual activities in practice, and all but one is true. Therefore, it is rare to see spirituality actually produce anything significant, good, or anything at all. It is then understandable; why the general (or at least western) perspective of  being spiritual is a quality of being insane or at least a little bit crazy. Surely if A, B, and C do an array of weird and ridiculous things, and all claim to act under a 'spiritual' determination, spirituality and everything to do with it must and only be a ridiculous in vain concept for nutters... By no means, this is a complete misinterpretation of what the bible says spirituality is, and furthermore, what spirituality should be interpreted as and look like.

What Christians (and this includes me) may face because of this, is a thick cloud of disillusionment. It is similar to this modern misunderstanding; when people understand Christianity as religiosity. For example, I often have people asking on the lines of 'Are you religious?' and my response would immediately be on the lines of 'I believe in [or follow] Jesus, but I am not religious.' This response often has people interested because they don't understand the difference, moreover it drops a 'fruitful' seed in their curiosity that opens future conversations. This atmosphere of the world loves to distract our perception from what the bible says spirituality is, and its confusion scatters our faith to what other things say.  Most importantly, this distraction has made it difficult for us to understand and develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit.


One thing that I continue to struggle with is grasping who the Holy Spirit is; as person of God. Yes, who, not what. I must admit, I still may accidentally refer to him as an it. For some reason it can be easy for me to limit the Spirit to God's Loreal product; in which we may think of the Spirit as a buzz that makes us feel "worth it".

Whenever I come back from intense experience of the Holy Spirit, I find it easy to limit what the Spirit can do when and where. This is a natural response, and it was particularly easy for me to fall into its trap in years surrounding when I first was baptized and met the Spirit.

I'd like to also note that being baptized in the spirit is different to knowing the spirit.

Back in my early years, I only understood the Spirit as an experience, rather than someone; whom is always with me. I don't fully understand the Spirit, and I probably will only understand him as a child understands little of the world they live in. This is the beauty of the Holy Spirit: not only he is someone we can experience things with that transcends any intimacy; but he is a person, therefore he is a someone we can develop and live alongside in relationship.

God, the Holy Spirit

I do want to avoid the confusion the Trinity tends to give to people, but God is three persons. To put it simply, a friend put him into perspective in the terms of water:

Water can be a gas (steam),
Liquid (water)
Or solid (ice).

But imagine water is in its forms all at the same time, God is (and in no particular order):

God the Father;
God the Son (Jesus);
God the Holy Spirit.

It's not the best explanation, but anyway... God plays three different roles as those persons, all are equal and work in perfect harmony (see Genesis 1).

Galatians 5 describes the fruits, the attributes of the spirit as love, joy, peace, etc (see image above). One may distinguish these fruits as the character of Jesus, in which is portrayed throughout the gospels. If you understand these fruits as 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away', it highlights a relationship between the three persons of God. Instead of limiting the Spirit to annual experiences in Christian camps, we should recognize how we can have a day-to-day relationship with him. Yes, you may not feel that 'buzz' everyday you felt that one or two times coming back from your first christian camps, but the Spirit may want to gives other things.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 
1 Corinthians 12: 4-6

1 Cor. 12 is a great chapter and you may want to read all of it! But how about when you are on the bus, before you get out of bed, in the show even; ask the spirit to develop even just one of those fruits. The Spirit is someone who helps us be like Jesus, he equips us with the things we need to live in this world. Ken Shelley, King's Church Christchurch pastor said "don't waste your wilderness." How about you use your wilderness as a starting point; to start seeing the Spirit as someone who can help you, and comfort you. God to us is a spontaneous God (see 'Our Worries' blog post), but he isn't; his will is ultimate and we can depend on him that he has our best destiny planned. Overwhelmed with work or assignments? Ask the Spirit for peace. Need to feel that little happier? Ask the Spirit for love and joy. Don't expect a quick fix; continually ask for it, fight for it! God wants us to live for him, but we live in a world that doesn't want God or his ideals. This relationship we have with God is one like any other in this aspect: it develops. It is this relationship that is given to us out of the grace of the father, and it lasts forever.

(You only live twice, but the second time you live forever) 

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Be still

'Shhhh you're in a Library' were the words I used to hear a lot when I was younger and I never quite understood why that was the case.

Today I had a teacher only day, I awoke and decided for once not to be lazy! I went for a run on the beach and I am so glad I did because the beach was seriously beautiful. I like to think of the beach as my second home, because it literally is; it's the place that instantly makes me feel peaceful and calm; it's the place where I often go and have a long walk with God; and it's the place that inspires and motivates me. It is ever changing. The beach never looks the same. From sunset to sunrise, from storm to calm the beach is a collection of raging moods. After my run I came home and decided that I would go to the library. So here I am.

I am sitting on a chair, quite comfy in fact, wondering what to write about. It is quiet and warm in here, peaceful and calm and I feel safe. Outside it is cold, but sunny; windy but the waves and the beach are calm. It is beautiful, but it is busy. People walk past, the waves crash onto the shore, the birds are being birds (haha). Life is definitely happening outside. It's beckoning me to go back out and to get back on with my day. But no I say, 'I want to sit here.'

Sitting here I guess I could relate, what I'm seeing and feeling to my own life. Often I'm so busy, with school, with home life, with sport and with just being a human, that I don't often find my self just sitting. Just resting and pondering. And today it's nice to just sit, to view the world, from inside. It's when you stop, that you realise the beauty that surrounds us. the beauty which we often walk straight passed because of well,business.

I think often God does just want us to sit, to just be quiet in his presence. Not to be asking for anything or praying. Just to have some time where we can sit and let God work through us. Time where he can speak to us. So often we can complicate life, busy it up, be constantly talking praying to God - don't get me wrong it's great to do that - but sometimes it's good to just stop and realise the beauty of this world we live in. The beauty of the lives God's given us and just enjoy God in general. I didn't realise til today how good it feels to just STOP.

So, I urge you this week, as we come to the middle of the term, when life is busy, stop. Go somewhere peaceful, somewhere quiet and just literally STOP.Be still and come to God and just feel peaceful in his presence. Discover the small, beautiful things that we miss when we busy life up and be touched by God's presence. You might even find you hear him speaking to you. 

Below is a great song to finish off the read, check it out.