Monday, December 30, 2013

Swallowed at Sandy Bay

2013 done and dusted. Almost.

2014 is a less than 5 hours away as I write this blog and soon we will cross the threshold into a new year.  The clock waits for no one, so it pays to be ready for this shift in history's timeline.
The agenda for today: RELAX.   What can be more invigorating and soothing at the same time than a day at the beach?!  With dramatic coastlines and warmer waters up here in the northern part of the north island, we have no shortage of good surfing spots.   In my car, well- stocked with food, water, and my "has-seen-better-days" boogie-board, we made our way to Sandy Bay to enjoy some fun in the sun.

And that we did! The day was clear and the surf was good, albeit full of seaweed.  Most waves were good for catching, and thanks to the help of a friend who has a keen eye for rip currents, we enjoyed the power of the ocean. 

And then. ..  .as often happens just when you think you're getting comfortable . . . a series of larger-than-expected waves came upon us like a brick wall.  The "wall" hit!  Right on it's heel came another one, followed by another, leaving no time to recover.  The merciless waves swallowed everyone in their path, driving us all like torpedoes into the sand.

In an instant I found myself tumbled and tangled, churning like laundry in a dryer, with no time to catch a breath or discern which way was up.  I'm a strong swimmer and have learned over the years how to avoid such predicaments on most occasions, but today all of us found ourselves finally emerging with sore necks, and bellies  full of salt water..  .which was soon regurgitated.  :-)

In the middle of the underwater tornado, realizing that it was going to be a while before I stopped spinning and saw the blue sky above,  a sense of reassurance came over me.  There was no reason to panic; this WAS going to end sometime. It HAD to!  I just needed to relax and ride it out with two goals in mind:
 1) don't break your neck; 2) don't swallow any more sea water!

Time and again the waves of the sea have been my teacher.  Perhaps today's incident couldn't have been more timely.  Here are a few lessons:

 1) Comfort.  Cruise-control. Auto-pilot. These can be the enemies of growth and the cause of way too much unnecessary pain. 

Dear friend who is "riding a wave" now.
2)  2014 is nearly here and like the waves of the sea, it will come with power and be pregnant with possibilities, joys and hardships.  If we are too comfortable and unprepared, it will swallow us whole and spit us out in 2015 with nothing more than sore bodies and fractured hearts to show for it.

On the contrary, if we anticipate the strong surges that are bound to come in the form of temptations, death, disease, and difficult decisions, we will have strategies to cope with them when they do arrive.  If we are prepared to "catch" them under our feet like a surfer riding the crest, they will be our servant, helping us ride long and strong safely to shore.

But even if we find ourselves spinning and a bit frightened, we will know to call on our Heavenly Father whose Spirit is within all who believe in Jesus Christ, and he will give us the guts and the wherewithal to  come out on the other side standing firmly on our feet . . .and with great stories to tell!

Be encouraged friends.  Waves were meant to be ridden!

2014 is coming.  Get ready to jump on board!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

"Tale of Two Families" Christmas Greetings from New Zealand!

Nga mihi o te Kirihimete ki a koe!
For those of you not so well-versed in Te Reo Maori (the Maori language), that means "Merry Christmas to you!"  I consider myself an extremely blessed woman 365 days a year, but this Christmas I feel even more so.  Though my natural-born family shivers in the cold without me 10,000 miles across the Pacific (and I miss them so much that it hurts!), the Lord has blessed me with a FANTASTIC Kiwi family here in New Zealand.

This is now my third consecutive Chistmas in New Zealand and each year I am more and more in awe of the kindness of God shown to me through His people.  Throughout my time here I have never lacked support, encouragement, care, practical resources, and a good dose of laughter!  The sharing of experiences unique to life here in Aotearoa has forged between us a special bond, for which I am very grateful.

In the USA right now my family is grieving the sudden loss of my uncle and dealing with the added stresses that come from handling these types of situations around the holidays.  While I hate being so far from home during times like this, God has sent his love once again through my network of friends and "family" here, so that I am assured I am not alone.  And because I know that God answers the prayers of the faithful, I am confident that He is upholding my family in the USA even as we pray for them from all the way over here in NZ.

The last two days I've enjoyed Christmas festivities with two different families in Whangarei, each with their own unique ways of doing things.  Most people only celebrate Christmas once; I get it twice!  (Which now means I need to do twice the exercise to burn off all that great pavlova, ham, cake, kumara, etc.  He he!)

Please enjoy some photos from my Kiwi Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

"Twelve Days of Christmas" - Kiwi Style

The classic "Twelve Days of Christmas" song is heard by millions every year on local radio stations and in shopping malls around the western world.  Carolers sing of oddities like maids milking, swans swimming, turtle doves and of course the partridge in a pear tree.

Here in New Zealand, however, this song has taken on a new form.  Let me enlighten you to the well-known Kiwi version of the "Twelve Days of Christmas"

"On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Twelve piupius swinging
Eleven haka lessons
Ten juicy fish heads
Nine sacks of pipis
Eight plants of puha
Seven eels a swimming
Six pois a twirling
Five - big - fat - pigs !
Four huhu grubs
Three flax kits
Two kumara
And a pukeko in a ponga tree!"

Whichever version you fancy, there is a deeper meaning behind each seemingly nonsensical item mentioned.  This song was used in the 1500s to teach Catholic children in England the basic tenants of the faith when it was not in fashion to be Catholic.  For example, the "eleven pipers piping" represents eleven disciples who remained faithful to Christ.  The "eight maids a milking" symbolize the eight Beatitudes as mentioned in the book of Matthew in the Bible.  The list goes on and on. The culmination of it all, depicted by the "partridge in a pear tree", is God's greatest gift, the one that is more superior than all the rest, Jesus Christ his Son.

So. . .the next time you find yourself out of breath trying to sing all twelve verses of the song, just remember that you are actually participating in an age-old tradition with significant meaning.  And once you catch your breath, try the Kiwi version and pray for New Zealand.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Surf and Turf with the Teens

School is officially out and the young ones among us are on summer holidays.  With all this spare time, what is a kid to do?  What a dilemma, eh?
 Our Rock Solid team was blessed with access to funding that allowed us to take 50 intermediate students on a 3 day holiday programme, enjoying surf and turf of the Northland, and exposing them to the love and design of the Creator God. 

We had the privilege of sharing brief devotionals each days with the kids and engaging in meaningful conversations on the long van rides to and fro.  For some of these teens, the world is very dark and undesirable place.  But for 3 days, light-filled seeds were planted in hearts and minds as the kids were cared for and conversed with by our wonderful team of leaders. 

 I've really enjoyed my involvement with 11-14 year olds the last 2.5 years here in New Zealand.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gymnastics End of Year/ Christmas Show!

Many people and experiences bring a smile to my face and are reasons why I enjoy life here in Whangarei.  One of those is teaching gymnastics!  I am grateful to have been welcomed into the wonderful coaching staff at Whangarei Academy of Gymnastics for the last two years.
 In a city with high unemployment and a struggling economy, I am well aware that I am truly blessed to have a job that I enjoy, in a field in which I have work experience, and one which allows me space to continue serving as pastor.

Last night our gym celebrated the   success of the last 12 months with our annual End-of-Year/ Christmas Display.  Even us coaches gave the audience a good laugh with our own little gig!

Enjoy some photos.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Caroling at the Rest Home

This blog is a great platform for bragging on the wonderful folks with whom I learn and serve here in New Zealand!  Just yesterday our church fellowship enjoyed an afternoon of Christmas caroling at one of our local rest homes.   An old 1923 gramophone even made an appearance and played some classic  Bing Crosby Christmas hits!  Here are a few photos from the big day. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Confused Christmas or a Holy Escape?

In case you have just arrived from another planet, allow me to draw your attention to the fact that the Advent season is in full swing.  This is a precious time of year when we have the opportunity, if we'll take it, to recalibrate our hearts and center our thoughts on the Son of God who came to earth to make us children of God.

It's not just us adults that need a refocus during this season, a holy escape from the rat race that we've made life to be.  Have you ever considered that children need that sacred re-adjustment too?  How does our hurried lifestyle affect the youngest among us?  Is it possible that our fast-paced, not to mention increasingly secular and post-modern, culture has confused our kids?

Before I go any further, let me give you your first Christmas gift:

You now have permission to SLOW DOWN.

. . .And while you're in the process of slowing down, make sure to read to the end of this blog.  :-)

The last week has been filled with end-of-year festivities and holiday gatherings here in Whangarei.  December marks the end of the academic year in New Zealand and the beginning of summer. Our 2013 Rock Solid youth club came to a conclusion last night with a big feast and farewell.  Just days before that, I said a sad good-bye to my students at the local primary school to whom I've taught Bible for the past two years.  Many of them will advance to intermediate school next year. Next Tuesday gymnastics will come to a halt for the summer break.  If we're not careful, the Advent season will be nothing more than a blur and we'll arrive at Christmas day, thankful to have just survived it.

There is a different way.
 It is my intention with our Kids Club to show the children a different way by creating meaningful experiences for  Advent and answering some of those age old questions revolving around our beloved Christmas traditions.  There are even some myths that need a bit of debunking so that unnecessary and faulty thinking can be cast aside, making space for the truth that God has indeed incarnated himself on our behalf.  This requires intentionality and a slower pace of life.

Some of the questions that we are considering over the next few weeks are:

  • Why do we call it Christmas?
  • When was Jesus actually born?
  • What about Christmas trees?
  • Who is St. Nicholas and how did he become Santa Claus?
  • Why is Christmas such a big deal?
  • Why do we give gifts at Christmas?
  • What are the "12 Days of Christmas" all about?
 Once the question is presented, we give the kids an opportunity to share their guesses before diving into a bit of scripture and history.
 While their responses may be cute and quirky, clearly, we've got some confused kids.
You'll notice that many answers are a messy combination of Easter, Christmas, folk religion, and popular trends.

Q:  When was Jesus born?
A: " I think Jesus is reborn each year.  He died on the cross, came back to life, and is reincarnated into a baby each year."

 Q: Why do we give gifts at Christmas?
A:  "Jesus comes and puts presents under your Christmas tree."
      "We give people gifts because those two rich guys  gave Jesus fancy gifts when he was born."

 Q:  Why is Christmas such a big deal?
A: "Christmas is all about being with family and being nice to people."

 The cuteness wears off quickly when you realize that these responses come not only from young 5 year olds, but from 12-13 year olds who should know better.

Confused kids.

 But let's not be so hard on the kids. I dare say that some adults would come up with equally misguided answers, only disguised in more sophisticated, intelligent-sounding adult language. 

 And even louder than words from our mouth are the answers to these questions that our lifestyle broadcasts.  Are we communicating that Christmas is a big deal because materialism and Black Friday have made it that way?   Do our motives say that we give gifts because altruism makes us feel good about ourselves?  Do our calendars expose our belief that in order to do the season justice we must over cram our schedules, engage in gluttony, and watch as many holiday films as possible?  

Confused adults. 

Where is Jesus in all of this?

Here's the challenge for me. .. for you.    Take the family on a holy escape.   Settle in with the good Book and a hot cup of tea, and have a chat with the Son of God who came to make you a child of God.



Thursday, November 28, 2013

Someone loves me!

Today is November 29, 2013 here in New Zealand.  Just another day in Aotearoa.

In the USA, however, it is only November 28th and things are quite different.  Families are gathering to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, eating way too much food and enjoying the company of loved ones.  Thankfully cyberspace and Skype allowed me to interact with those I love 10,000 miles away on this special day . . . after which I sat back and had a good cry.
Then, as per my normal routine, I headed across the road to the post shop to check the mail only to find that a massive package awaited me!  As I submitted my little yellow ticket to the postal worker to retrieve the contents from the PO BOX, the clerk excitedly announced "Somebody loves you!"  She passed across the counter a large box wrapped in brown paper with my name all over it!

Christmas came on Thanksgiving Day!  I couldn't run fast enough to get home and see what treasures await me in this box.  Opening the box brought me to tears as I pulled out one gift after another. . . after another. . .after another, from siblings, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles, all intended to make me smile.  

I cried.  I laughed.  Then I cried again. Somebody loves me!

Thank you to my Olathe family! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Intentional Instability?

Creating activities and obstacle courses that are safe, yet intentionally unstable is part of my responsibility as a gymnastics instructor for young children.  Before children can begin to perfect technique and skill, they must first learn how their body works and gain the ability to control muscles, fall safely, and avoid injury.  Navigating uneven and unsteady surfaces in a safe environment allows them to explore movement through play and discovery, producing within them a confidence necessary to handle more difficult challenges.

In short, learning how to "figure things out" in a safe environment can be a good thing for kids. 

Here are photos of a few of the circuits that we have created for our preschoolers. Remarkably, once children have advanced out of this program, they are better equipped socially, mentally and physically for succeeding in our mainstream gymnastics classes.  I teach students across a broad spectrum of skill levels and notice a difference with the students who have come from the "Play Gym" programme; they adapt to new skills and responsibilities quickly.

As much as I love the sport of gymnastics and am grateful for the opportunity to do something I love here in New Zealand, it's not my intention here to convince you enroll your youngins in a programme near you, nor is it to talk about all the benefits of exercise and physical movement.

Actually, I want to entertain this whole idea of intentional instability.  It's absurd really.  Don't we spend most of our lives trying to stabilize the unstable?   We say that we would never create for ourselves uncomfortable situations or purposefully place obstacles in our own path,  but the truth is that most of us do it frequently without realizing it.

I have a notoriously bad sense of direction.  Thankfully this is improving, but only slightly.  As a teen and young adult, I was often accused of making "long cuts" or making things harder than they needed to be.  Why take only 40 minutes to drive to the airport when you could take an 1.5 hours?!  

If only all of life's interferences were as inconsequential as a lengthy drive to the airport.  Unfortunately, there are much weightier things in life to deal with like relationships with spouses and children,  parents and siblings, co-workers and friends. Disaster and hardship come unexpectedly and suffering writes a chapter or two in our life story. Temptations lurk everywhere, hungry to swallow the unsuspecting. 
In the middle of all of that, if we choose to detour from the principles of integrity that God has clearly laid out in his Bible, our  journey suddenly becomes more hazardous and the obstacles we face aren't so safe anymore.  With each choice to reject God's truth we enter into an imbalanced approach to life and create unnecessary hurdles for ourselves and those around us ... and if we don't run back to Christ in repentance, those  hurdles will no longer serve to make us stronger, but will work to destroy us.

The good news is that there is always a chance to run back, to confess our sin to God and our need for him.  When that occurs, God takes our unintentional instability and makes it intentional.  He gives it purpose, like an obstacle in the gymnasium that is actually designed to be conquered, producing flexibility, adaptability and confidence in the overcomer.

Life is an obstacle course, there' no doubt about it!  Some of the obstacles are designed by our all-knowing God who, as the ultimate coach, understands the benefits that will result when they are completed.  Other obstacles are our own fault, plain and simple.  We get ourselves into situations in which we shouldn't be.  Still others are placed in our path because of the choices of other people.  Some are even put there by the devil, yet allowed presence on our path by our sovereign God, who knows that nothing is impossible with Him.

Regardless of where your instability comes from, know that when given to God, it can become purposeful and serve to produce within in you character, perseverance and an ability to prevent major injury to your spirit.

James 1:2-4 (NLT)
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Turkey Talk

Living in the land of kiwis means that I don't eat many turkeys.. . at least on Thanksgiving that is!

(Interesting note: Both are flightless birds.  Could there be a sermon illustration coming on here?)

 Unlike the USA and Canada (celebrated 2nd Monday in October), New Zealand does not celebrate a Thanksgiving Day.  For us lonely Americans residing in the southern hemisphere, November 28, 2013 will be just another day of work and life will carry-on as usual.  Or will it?

I may live 10,000 miles away, but that does not make me any less of an American, or more importantly, any less capable of celebrating the goodness of God and the blessings he has poured out upon me day in and day out. 

So, let's talk turkeys.

As a child, when my friends and I were being a bit silly, I distinctly remember a my friend’s mother  referring to us as "turkeys".  This was like her way of refraining from calling us something much worse, drawing attention to the fact that our behaviour was unnecessary and unhelpful, like a turkey roaming the barnyard with its head bobbing back and forth, looking quite ridiculous.
You know what happens to turkeys in America, don't you? They get eaten  . . .on Thanksgiving!

Consider this quote:

“I don’t want to hang around in the barn yard with turkeys when God has called me to soar with the eagles!”

Weeks ago those words struck me and unsettled my conscience.  At once I was convicted, thinking, “Yikes, I’ve been acting like a turkey lately!”  The pressures and demands of life had begun to act like a tether tying me down to the low things of this earth, clouding my understanding.  They'd deceived me into thinking that my domain of life was somehow down here, limited to what I could see, feel, taste, touch and understand. This is not reality however.  I was born to soar with eagles on a higher plane.
Perhaps you're reading this blog and you've also realized that regretfully you are part of this turkey club.  Your feet are stuck in the mud of sinful cycles of defeat because of the thoughts that you entertain which result in ungodly behaviour. 

 Did you know that you were actually designed for a new plane of living,  a new level above with the eagles?  If you are in Christ, you are destined, or perhaps better said.  . . designed  . . . for an extraordinary life, a life of victory! 
Isaiah refers to this remarkable path for the godly, this new plane of living, as the “highway of holiness”.  Look at this:
Isaiah 35:8 (NLT)
8 And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.
Here’s the deal folks, what the world NEEDS from us is the same thing that God REQUIRES of us: HOLINESS!
Interesting how that works, eh? The very thing that only God can equip us to be is  the same thing that the world most needs. 

Stick with me.
The lost need someone to hold the light so that they can get found.  They need to people to prove to them and give them hope that it is actually possible to walk with God.
I love the Brit Nicole song that says, “Don’t be afraid to stand out.  That’s how the lost get found.”
When I was a teenage girl I needed older teens and other woman to stay sexually pure and live with integrity, showing me that it was possible to do the same.  It gave me hope that I didn’t have to fall like everyone else, that it was indeed possible.
I needed others around me living with passion for the One True God in order to inspire me to strive for great things.
I needed Christian friends around me choosing to stand up for the Lord when it was unpopular to give me hope that I could do likewise. 
Do you get my drift?
What we need, what our families need, our spouses need, our children need, our communities most need  is an empowered Church actually BEING the Church! It needs husbands and wives who chose love each other and stick up for one another.  It needs people who love sacrificially, who are strong against temptation and live with integrity, who flee sexual immorality.  Really, what the world needs is those who give them enough of  taste of godliness that it makes them hunger and thirst for righteousness . 
It’s time we stop acting like turkeys, as if our destiny went no further than the barnyard of this earth!  We were created to soar like eagles. Before I run away with this analogy too far, let’s see what God’s Word has to say about all this.
We all know we’ve gotta stop acting like turkeys (and most of us want to), but the how?  How does the rubber meet the road?
This is great news!  Pay close attention:
 Divine Nature:

Here’s the first thing you’ve gotta know:  This message is for those who have chosen to accept Christ as their Saviour.  If you don’t have  a relationship with Jesus Christ right now, the first thing to do is to repent of your need for God, turn from your sin, and trust Christ for your salvation from sin and self that would send you to hell.
When you accept God’s gift of His Son Jesus Christ, something called, “Justification” happens.  That means Christ puts you, an unholy sinner, in right standing before a holy God.
Then, he puts his very own Spirit within you and the process of “Sanctification” begins.  As we’ve learned before, Sanctification is a big word for being holy or set apart for God.
This holiness begins at justification so that we can begin to live as Christ lived. 

As a result, we change the world and bring about God’s kingdom, setting prisoners free, proclaiming freedom for the captive stuck in harmful patterns,  recovery of sight for the spiritually blind who don’t know the truth about the One who is the TRUTH.
Now here’s the really exciting part: 
We have been given the Divine nature (God’s nature); therefore we are more than just sinners saved by grace.

 2 Peter 1:3-4 (NLT)
3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires
Did you see that?  We actually participate in the nature of God!  To define “nature” is to talk about the innate qualities or character of a person.
Do you know that it is out of character for a Christian to sin?   When you become a Christian, God has a victorious and amazing life designed for you. To believe that you are no different than the people around you and are bound to break God’s laws and sin everyday is a lie straight from the devil himself, trying to keep the Church powerless and trick them into thinking they can’t overcome, can’t live any different, can’t give people hope for change. That is a lie. 
The truth is that God has holiness in mind for us.  In fact, the Bible says that without holiness, no one will see the Lord. 

Unfortunately, some people have given the word holiness a bad rap and associated it with long skirts, no make-up, no jewelry, no fun.  Holiness is being set apart by God and for God. .. it means possessing the righteousness of Christ that empowers us to live a life of triumph!
Let me say this again: It is out of character for  a Christian to sin!
1 John 2:1 (NLT)
1 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if  (NOT WHEN) anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.
See, we have been giving God’s Divine nature.  We get Christ IN us!
1 John 4:15 (NLT)
15 All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.
1 John 4:17 (NLT)
17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
( NIV: “ In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.)
Galatians 2:20-21 (NLT)
20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.
We reap what we sow.   If we preach that we're just poor sinners saved by grace, we will live defeated and won’t change the world like God has in mind for us.  BUT, if we live out of the divine nature of which we are partakers, then we will be the triumphant church like the church in the book of Acts. . .and even greater!
So as you can see, we need to correct our thinking, because as Proverbs says “what a man thinketh, that he is”.  What you think and believe will dictate your behavior.  We are more than mere sinners saved by grace.  Yes, we are that,  thanks be to God!

 BUT we are so much more!
God in his grace has given us even more. . his own nature. . .his own self to live within us and help us overcome temptation and live without fear. . .all the time!
Understanding this is paramount to then living it!
Let me conclude by sharing what God's Holy Spirit seemed to preach right to me a few weeks ago:
Holy Partnership
The ability to soar with eagles and to live holy lies not upon my shoulders alone.  I could never do that.  Because it is God’s Holy Spirit who sanctifies and makes holy, it is not something I could ever achieve on my own.  
However, the ability to live a life that is triumphant and successful is not solely dependent on the Holy Spirit either.
A holy life that is pleasing to God is the result of a partnership between me and the Holy Spirit.  It only works when we work in tandem. ..and of course that’s what we need to do when we're in relationship. 

When we are in Christ, we are in relationship.

Before, I too often relied on the fact that it just God’s Holy Spirit that sanctifies (which is true).  But I inaccurately thought that to mean that His Spirit would somehow possess me and automatically override all my own thoughts and actions, as if I had no say in the matter.  If the Holy Spirit took over, then I could become like a robot and automatically overcome temptation, automatically be a bold witness, automatically be faithful.. . without any effort on my part.
That sounds a bit ridiculous doesn’t it?  God does not make us his robot when we are filled with his Holy Spirit any more than he made us robots at the beginning of the creation of the world.

 I had subconsciously posessed the faulty thinking that the Holy Spirit would just take over for me and I wouldn’t have to use my God-given brain and reasoning anymore.  The problem with that was this: 
When I didn’t overcome temptation  . . .or I wasn’t bold. . .or I wasn’t being faithful,  then I became quite disheartened, because I equated that defeat with meaning that I must not have had God’s Holy Spirit in the first place.  And if I didn’t have His Spirit then that meant I wasn’t saved. . .and then I was really doomed. 
See what a lie that is? It steals our assurance of salvation.  But here’s the truth, the good news:  We who belong to Christ have been given God’s nature, reborn as a NEW creation, of the incorruptible seed of God.  Therefore we have all access to God’s power and help.  My role is  to cooperate with God’s Holy Spirit who lives within me. Your role is to cooperate with God’s Holy Spirit who lives within you.  Remember, greater is He(Christ) who is in you, than he that is in the world!
Basically, we've been given permission to get to work.  We get to put in a little elbow grease and make an effort to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.”  So, when I am tempted with that same hang-up, that same sin that always seems to revisit me,  entangle me and stick me in the barn with the turkeys. . . I call upon God’s Spirit who is within me and I work at resisting that, at renewing my mind, and replacing that bad habit with a good one. 

 I have the permission to work at doing the things that God shows me in his Word.
And the cool thing is: it works!  This partnership works!  As I co-operate with God’s Holy Spirit, I am kept from falling.  I don’t repeat the same sins and cycles over and over and over again.
Are you getting me here?  This is hope-filled news!  It is possible to live victorious like Christ!  In fact, it is actually God’s design.  So many people aren’t living it, because they’ve been fed the lie that they’re just a sinner whose been forgiven, no different than anyone else.
But you know better.  You are NOT a turkey.  You are an eagle.  So spread your wings and start flying on that highway of holiness!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nazarenes Respond to Typhoon Haiyan

Brisbane storm rolling in
G'day from Brisbane, Australia!

     I am currently just "across the ditch",  participating in the Australia Northern Pacific District Assembly and enjoying the company and hospitality of old friends here.

But while we are enjoying heat and sunshine, peace and prosperity, our Nazarene brothers and sisters in the Philippines are suffering immensely, hoping just to survive the next few hours.  You all are very well aware of the indescribable heart-ache and devastation that Typhoon Haiyan has caused and hopefully you've been able to find ways to respond through prayer, donations, and physical support.

Please click the link below to see details on how our Nazarene brothers and sisters are being affected and how we are responding.

  Nazarenes Respond to Typhoon Haiyan


At the end of this newsletter you will also see a very encouraging story about our All Nations Church of the Nazarene in Auckland and how God has used them to bring hope to a very culturally diverse group of people over the last 60 years!

PLEASE take a moment and click on the link to read from our regional update.