Posted in ReflectionsMar 14, 2011
Have you ever been caught in a tidal rip in the ocean? We live about five minutes walk from Fitzroy beach, New Plymouth. I have felt its pull on some of the rare occasions I have swum at the beach. The rip tries to drag the swimmer out to sea. The longer the resistance the weaker one gets, and the more likely one is to give up. It must be a horrible and hopeless feeling to be dragged out to sea. You see the incredibly grateful expressions from people rescued on television’s “Piha Rescue” to know that they have come very close to death, but are now so relieved at their rescue.
There is in this life a constant drag on the weary and unsuspecting Christian, specifically designed to pull you under. It is not a random experience but cleverly designed and perpetrated by Satan, God’s enemy. This constant drag comes in the form of opposition to the Christian life; from the world, the sinful nature and Satan himself.
Posted in The Leading EdgeMar 8, 2011
1994 was the year of genocide in Rwanda. I was working with Scripture Union, and we heard of a Rwandan Scripture Union staff member who was among the many thousands of refugees who fled into the border city of Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On arrival, he continued preparing SU Bible reading notes. My first reaction to this news was to think how extraordinarily ordinary such behaviour seemed, and indeed to wonder if he might not have done something a little more helpful for the suffering.
Yesterday, Christchurch was hit by the earthquake. I came home from work and watched numbly as the news unfolded. When I left the television, anything else I was doing seemed trivial, and to prepare an evening meal felt positively indulgent. There is a sense almost of guilt about normal tasks that persists this morning, even into writing this editorial.
It is, of course, not a “normal” editorial. It is the last to appear in this printed version of The Treasury magazine. There will be others to come, on the web, but this issue of the magazine is something of a milestone. Shouldn’t I be writing about that?
Posted in ReflectionsFeb 24, 2011
What does a real Christian look like? I’m sure every Christian can remember, if not the exact moment then at least the general time when they became a Christian, and they were so excited about their new life in Christ. There was a deep sense of love and gratitude to God, who had so graciously saved them. There was even a lack of desire to sin; perhaps even a feeling of invincibility – nothing is going to stop us following Jesus now! However, in the course of time, the reality of life sets in and to our dismay there is indeed still a desire to sin. In fact, we find ourselves actually sinning! Even worse, we find that this indwelling sin is amazingly powerful. At this point, confusion and doubt sets in, perhaps even to the degree of doubting the conversion experience. People become disturbed, depressed and frustrated as they seek a seemingly elusive answer to their dilemma. Something just is not right…
Posted in Verse of the MonthFeb 8, 2011
Take a stroll in downtown Rotorua, in the vacant lot between the Central Business District and the lakefront, and you will find a wasteland. Here nothing grows apart from rough patches of browned off tussock grass and a few scrubby manuka bushes. Follow your nose and you might find a clue to the barren nature of the landscape: misty plumes of steam rising into the air show where the water holes are, but the water in them is muddy brown and stagnant, and the air all round is heavy with an odour like rotting eggs, better known to scientists as hydrogen sulphide. The sulphur is in the water, rather than the air, and it is this sulphur that inhibits all forms of life. Nobody would want to drink the water: indeed nobody would be able to drink it, for it is water that ultimately brings death.
Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you … you would ask me, and I would give you living water … “Anyone who drinks this water [from this well] will soon become thirsty again, but those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life”
— John 4:10
But wait. Who would have any idea that less than 5km from the city centre there is a completely different world? Follow the road north out of town and there you will find yourself in a veritable Garden of Eden, dubbed the “Rainbow Springs”, which bubble up with a totally different kind of water. Here trout play in clean, crystal clear pools and the landscape around is carpeted with soft green ferns and lush native bush. The air rings with the sound of tui and bellbirds, and wildlife of many other species make their home there.
Posted in The Leading EdgeFeb 7, 2011
I came back from holiday in time to attend a wedding. All weddings have staple expectations with individualities. The bridegroom’s mother gave us an individuality when she said in her speech, “He has an eye for beauty and honesty.”
If that is true, and he maintains it, he will be well equipped for this marriage. More than that, he will be well equipped for life. And any of us who develop an eye for beauty and for honesty will be similarly well equipped. Consider: beauty has to do with appeal, in more than the visual. A man’s love for his wife; a woman’s love for her husband; a parent’s love for a child; a true response to the fatherhood of God: all beautiful. Keats’ line that “beauty is truth” may not be sufficient at first glance — we’ve all met corruption disguised in attractive packaging — but there’s enough in it to warrant some reflection, and that reflection quickly leads us to the fields of genuinely true things that are beautiful indeed.
And if the groom’s mother’s second identified quality, an eye for honesty, is real in her son, then this is a lucky bride indeed. Honesty demands appreciation, for love given by wife and world, and by God. It allows no easy answers, no glossing over with convenient or apparent, a struggle to turn the good into better and the better into ideal. Honesty is surely the very basis of the universe, for God is truth. “I am who I am.” An eye for honesty and beauty will take us where we all want to be, and where many don’t know how to approach.