• What about the pain?

    Recent weeks have been coloured by tragedy. With all New Zealand still grappling with the immediacy of the Christchurch earthquake, we were shocked and horrified by the cataclysm in Japan, on a scale that reached beyond our ability to imagine it. And then for me, and for my school community, we were saddened by the sudden death by illness of a healthy, active and admirable 19-year-old former pupil. Tragedy at national, international and personal levels.

    They are, of course, all the same thing. When a person dies, we have sadness and loss. When a lot of people die we have it again, many times. Death numbered by hundreds, or by thousands, is not a worse kind of death. It is still sadness and loss. The arresting feature is being simultaneous, not a change of nature. Nor should we be surprised. We know that people die, and that all of them die. The question is when, not whether.

    Read more »
  • The fruit of the Spirit is LOVE

    By Ossie Fountain

    But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love
    – Galatians 5:22

    Jesus … had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end
    – John 13:1

    This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you
    – John 15:12

    Love is the first focus of the Spirit in our Christian lives. Perhaps we can say that Spirit-inspired love is the most comprehensive of the fruit. Paul’s great hymn to love in 1 Corinthians 13 expresses this most profoundly:

    • Without it I am nothing more than noise and I gain nothing.
    • With it the other fruit of the Spirit grow: patience, kindness, patience endurance and hope.
    • Love lasts forever and grows us in preparation for eternity.
    Read more »
  • An idea that worked for our church

    MINISTRY LAUNCH by Brian Goodwin, Cambridge

    I don’t know … church life seemed tranquil in the bad old days.

    The assembly I was brought up in came out of a mini revival. Enoch Coppin and James Claphan had erected a tent on an empty section on the corner of Wood Street and Featherstone Street in Palmerston North, preached, and a good number came to faith in the Lord. My parents and two older brothers were among the number. A small church began in Bourke Street which morphed into a church which met in the Lyndhurst Street Gospel Hall. (It was there that, as a ten-year-old boy in Sunday School, I learned the meaning of words like propitiation, justification, glorification and exaltation. Yes, really.) Life seemed simple. Church twice on Sunday and that was about all. Usually a singsong after the Gospel Meeting. Others did bits and pieces, but it all seemed simple.

    Read more »
  • Mission impossible?

    Leighton Mossop

    In 2005 my family and I arrived in India to spend a month at Rehoboth with our commended missionary workers Phyllis Treasure and Sarah Simpson. My very first assignment was to speak on the Sunday morning at East Fort Assembly. There were about 400 people present, men and women separated, elders sitting at the front facing the congregation. The worship service began and various men stood and participated. However I soon noticed something disturbing to me. During times of prayer one of the elders, my translator sitting next to me, would start saying out loud “Stop him!” He even at times stood up while someone was praying and called out “Stop him!” My mind was racing at 100mph. I was soon to speak. “Lord, help me. Such division in this place! What shall I speak on? Change my message?” Anyway I spoke and afterwards there was a church lunch. It wasn’t until later that I had an opportunity to ask Sarah what was going on when that elder got so excited, calling out “Stop him!” to various ones praying. Sarah laughed! “Stop him” sounded like the Malayalam word for expressing praise and glory to God. I had greatly misunderstood what was going on! Talk about embarrassment, but I was also filled with great relief and joy. Things were not so bad after all.

    Read more »
  • All creation is groaning

    For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.
    – Romans 8:22-23 (New Living Translation)

    At 12.51 pm on Tuesday 22 February, the earth below the city of Christchurch creaked and groaned, as a previously unknown fault line cracked open with a rumble and a roar, shaking the people of the city with the ferocity of a lion shaking a rat. Within the space of 40 seconds the inner city was devastated and people’s lives were turned on end. Yes, the earth groaned big time, and people groaned too as they saw homes destroyed, heritage buildings in ruins and lives cut tragically short. And today the groaning continues even more strongly across the Pacific in Japan, where the same has happened again, this time in a three-fold disaster of even greater magnitude.

    Read more »