Posted in Christian LivingMay 18, 2011
The Spirit-filled Christian sees the worship of God as the greatest goal in life. The kind of worship referred to here is not the kind that is relegated to music alone, neither is it restricted to be only within the four walls of a church building on Sundays. The act of worship is ascribing “worth” or “”value” to God. We are told it is from the ancient word “worthship”. Worship is expressing by life and word the worth of God our Maker. It is something more than a religious ceremony. It must be the deep response of my heart to God in thanksgiving, adoration, submission and obedience. Worship profoundly influences everything that makes you – you.
Now, you are not going to worship something you consider has no value. You are not even going to worship something you consider has some value. Although sometimes I think our family pet cats worship me when they are hungry and need a feed. They meow, become affectionate, give me eye contact, and talk to me (I’m not crazy – I think!). But afterwards with a full stomach they will completely ignore me and go about their cat business whatever that might be. I wonder if that’s a picture of many a Christian in terms of their relationship with God! You will worship that which you consider has the greatest value. Our true worship of God will always be determined by the extent of the value or worth that we inwardly place upon Him. So, how much do you value God?
Posted in Verse of the MonthMay 17, 2011
I told you the most important part of the message exactly as it was told to me:
Christ died for our sins,
just as the Scriptures said.
He was buried,
and three days later he was raised to life,
just as the Scriptures said.
— 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
Another Easter has come and gone and, apart from new highs in the consumption of chocolate Easter eggs, people are still largely indifferent to what Easter is all about. Although mention of the word “resurrection” will still raise some hackles, and Charles Foster’s recent book, The Jesus Inquest,* reminds us that the Western mind, with its emphasis on cold rationalistic investigation, has always found it difficult to cope with the idea that Jesus might have come back to life after he died.
So, I’m one of two billion people and I watched the royal wedding on television. Like everybody else, I found something to cheer about and something to cringe over, and among it all I marvelled that the marriage of a man and a woman should occupy international television coverage for an entire evening. It wasn’t a nail-biting mystery story, after all: whenever we go to a wedding we know how it’s going to turn out at the end. That’s why we usually go only when it concerns people we actually care about.
I guess that’s the point. A lot of people cared about this royal wedding, at least on the day. Admittedly, they cared about a whole variety of angles on it, as could be gauged by all those witless interviews with bystanders wearing hats distorting the Union Jack. Some people loved royalty; some came to watch the horses; some couldn’t resist the crowd. No doubt there were a few who managed some kind of self-projection into a glamorous scene; some of them love pomp and parades — and don’t the English do those well! — and some were just curious to see what was happening next.
Posted in The Leading EdgeApr 17, 2011
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.
Posted in Bible DiscussionsApr 6, 2011
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.
Posted in Church IssuesApr 5, 2011
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.
Posted in ReflectionsApr 2, 2011
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.
Posted in Verse of the MonthApr 1, 2011
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.
Posted in Bible DiscussionsMar 18, 2011
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Let us keep in step with the Spirit.
– Galatians 5:16,22,25
There are at least six important characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit.
1. They are Spirit-produced
These marks of the Holy Spirit in the life of a follower of Jesus are the striking evidence of the supernatural, divine Person who has entered that follower’s life. More than miracles, manifestations or inspired utterances, all of which need to be tested for their source (1 John 4:1), these nine-fold fruit do not need their worth or accuracy tested. They cannot be imitated or counterfeited by the devil, or by human effort. What is produced by human effort is a work of the “flesh”.
Posted in Verse of the MonthMar 17, 2011
Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel in Derbe and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
– Acts 14:21-22.
Maybe, like us, you are lurching from crisis to crisis? First it was the Christchurch earthquake, with a chimney that toppled down and sliced through the roof of the garage below; then shortly after that our oldest son was sent to Afghanistan on active military service; by year’s end my elderly stepmother in UK developed a gangrenous ulcer on her foot and her condition was steadily deteriorating; eventually the New Year saw me winging my way to UK for a funeral and back to NZ the same week for the other son’s wedding.
However, by comparison with others we know, we have been relatively well off. One young couple in our fellowship live with the burden of a seriously premature baby weighing only 675 grammes at birth. Will she or won’t she survive? If she survives, will she grow up with major handicaps? Another family watch over the hospital bed of their son who has suffered third degree burns in a house fire.