Monday, August 19, 2013

When the earth quakes. . .drop, cover, and hold.

Rumbling, rocking, rolling. 
What do you do when the earth begins to quake beneath your feet, when objects around the room thrust themselves at you as if doing target practice?  What kind of reaction is appropriate during an earthquake?  


The "Drop, cover, and hold" mantra is drilled into Kiwis from an early age, and rightly so, given that various areas in New Zealand lie on very seismically active fault lines.  Over the past few weeks many residents in central New Zealand have had more than their share of opportunities to put this into practice. 

On Friday, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake rattled the lower north island and the aftershocks have not ceased since.  This follows another large earthquake that occurred in the same area just last month. Many residents in the Seddon and Wellington areas are wondering if they’ll ever be on stable footing again and thus are leaving the area.  Unfortunately, when an exodus like this occurs, it affects not only the local economy, but also the psychological ownership that residents have in the city.

 Thankfully no lives were lost in these quakes and the damage, though considerable and inconvenient, pales in comparison to the devastation experienced in the Christchurch earthquake of 2010.  

Everyone around here seems to have earthquakes on the brain these days. A number of television specials have been airing this week revolving around lessons learned from both the Christchurch and Japan earthquakes, specifically in the realm of building design.  In spite of all the horrific destruction and loss of life that occurred with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, one thing actually went remarkably well: because of the strict building codes in Tokyo, many of the towering skyscrapers in the heart of the city fared the quake and came out with minimal damage.  


These multi-story structures were actually designed to sway and swing with each tremor, enabling them to avoid collapsing. Engineers and architects spent years creating the perfect combination of rigidity and flexibility to allow these buildings a better chance at surviving quakes of varying degrees, resulting in the saving of lives.

Seddon earthquake- photo NZ Herald
Earthquakes in the realm of the physical are highly dangerous and discombobulating.  How much more the quakes and shakes that rock our personal lives?  We all know that, as terrible as physical pain can be, emotional and spiritual pain is far worse. Life is never quake-proof.  Suffering is bound to happen and it often comes at the most shocking, inconvenient times. This is because we live in a world that is reeling and rocking as a consequence of sin’s temporary power.  Christ will soon return to bring judgment, restore all things, and bring about His kingdom in the new heavens and earth.  Until then, we live in the middle ground where. ..  

Romans 8:19-22 (NLT)
19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.
22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 
So, while we continue to tread on soil that is unsure, how can we make our lives like those quake-resistant buildings on Tokyo?

Your foundation must be securely fastened to Christ Jesus, who is the cornerstone that the builders rejected.  He is the One who will not move, nor be made afraid when life does a bit of shaking, rattling, and rolling.  You may have some very faithful, consistent people in your life , whom you consider your “rock”, but beware, even the most stable humans are still no match for God who is the ultimate Rock and will outlast any storm or disaster.

Once you have a sure foundation laid in Christ, your life will require a combination of rigidity and flexibility in order to withstand experiences you’d rather not encounter.  Rigidity is required for those "non-negotiables” in life that help you maintain your faith, your integrity, and your character.  Flexibility is necessary in order to grant grace to those on your sphere of influence, and to ‘go with the flow’ when life doesn’t seem to go according to your schedule.
If your life is designed to withstand the struggles, when they occur they won’t destroy you.
And when they do come, react just as you would in an earthly quake:  Just remember to “Drop, Cover, and Hold”.

Drop: Get low and humble yourself before the Lord. After all, the way of Christ is the way of lowliness and servanthood.  The higher you stand in stubborn self-sufficiency, the harder you fall.  Think about it.    James 4:10 (NLT)
10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. 

Cover:  Cover yourself with the armour of God.   Take up the protection that God has made available to you in Jesus Christ.  When life seems to crumble right beneath your feet, you are keenly aware of a battle taking place that is outside your realm of control.  Hunker down and tighten your armour: 

Ephesians 6:13-18 (NLT)
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Hold:  Hold on with all your might to the One who never quakes with fear, who never changes, and remains completely unaffected by the apparent chaos around you.  You are shakable.  God is not.  Hold tight to your faith that God is still somehow in control.
Hebrews 12:28 (NLT)
28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 
 The quakes will come.  But take heart, you  will make it through.  Just drop, cover, and hold. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

This aint no 'Little House on the Prairie"!

My post today takes us from the sandy shores of New Zealand to the heartland of America. More specifically to downtown Olathe, Kansas.

Faith Journey Church of the Nazarene is the product of a God-sized dream planted in the heart of Pastor Michael Downs well over 13 years ago.  After 2 years of study, prayer, and planning the dream that was Faith Journey became a reality and I was privileged to be a part of that original core of people seeking to plant a church in the marketplace of Olathe.  When I say marketplace, I mean that literally.  We planted the church right in middle of the Great  Mall of the Great Plains and have always intended to remain a missional church bring Jesus TO people right where they are in life.

Now, 11 years after it's inception, God has  placed another larger-than-life dream in the heart of Pastor Michael and the Faith Journey leadership.  The new dream is to partner with community organizations and churches in Olathe to create a comprehensive community service hub downtown at the old Mill Creek Center.

The building may be in Kansas, but it sure ain't no "Little House on the Prairie"!  Built in 1926, this massive campus is currently owned by the Olathe District Schools and once housed the original Olathe High School and Vocational Technology school and workshops. Now the building is up for sale and it is hoped that Faith Journey will be able to transform it into a comprehensive community service hub, offering counseling services, food assistance, tutoring and after school care, language skill development, etc.

The dream is BIG.  The dream is expensive.  The dream will require a lot of work to make a reality. .
Beware! The dream has the capacity to impact thousands of people in need in Olathe.  The dream has the capacity to literally change the DNA of the city.  The dream has the capacity to make God famous in Olathe.

I may be 10,000 miles away on the other side of the Pacific ocean, but a large part of what makes me who I am is wrapped up in my experience serving with Faith Journey Church of the Nazarene over the years.

Please watch this compelling video created by Josh Weinstock (Yes, that's my brother by the way.  He is a professional videographer and media specialist.)  This 3 minute video was created as part of the proposal for the Olathe School Board and will cut right to your heart.  You might even see some clips of yours truly in there!

Mill Creek Center Video- Click Here!

These next few weeks are crucial, as we pray for the Olathe School Board to accept the offer for the purchase of this campus and begin revolutionizing the place!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Birthday Blessings!

I am such a blessed woman, I hardly know what to do with myself! 
Saturday a dear friend treated me to a birthday on the "snow", complete with snowboarding lessons and a trip to the Waiwera geothermal hot pools. (No real snow?  No problem!  Just go skiing inside- he he!)

 On Sunday I feasted on every sort of scrumptious treat after church and was surprised with many lovely gifts from my parishioners.  I was then presented with a very generous donation from one of our fellow Nazarene churches here in the Northland, in hopes that it would assist me with the purchase of a new vehicle.  Kids Club was on the agenda next and my waistline grew as I gazed upon what would now be homemade birthday cake #3 !
To top things off, my landlord (and surrogate grandfather) conjured up a very special hot roast chicken meal to commemorate the big day!

Wow, what a weekend.  THANK YOU for blessing me beyond words and showing God' grace and love to me on my birthday!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Guess Who???

Music and laughter possess healing qualities that can really boost the spirit.  Right here in small town Whangarei tonight I enjoyed a wonderful, laid back concert from some true blue Kiwis and this more well-known Christian singer/song-writer. 

Brownie points are in store for the first person to identify this famous Australian recording artist with whom I am pictured!

Here are some clues:
-         -  Parachute Band
-        -   Newsboys
-         -  A trio bears his name
-     - "If I Was Jesus" and "The One Thing"- hit songs
-       -    Currently lives and records in Nashville, TN when not traveling the world blessing people with  his music and quick wit.

Leave your comments on this blog or e-mail me with your guesses.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Busy little bees.

Our worship facility was filled with busy bees Saturday as we did some much-needed sprucing up! Some "friendly" gangs of teens recently notified us of their presence by busting our wooden fence and gracing the property with some fresh graffiti.  Well, I guess it's a good thing we can't be bothered wasting time being intimidated; instead we went straight to the business of fixing and beautifying
what others sought to destroy.

 (Isn't that like the Lord?  He's not scared by things Satan tries to spoil, but rather has infinite ability to clean and cure.)
In addition, we did some deep cleaning!  I may be a bit biased, but our little corner of Nixon and Princes street holds some of the most servant-hearted people in Whangarei. Not one complaint did I hear from the mouth of any of our church members!  (And believe me, there were some very dirty jobs to be done!)

Well done, New Hope Church!