• “Who do you thank when you have such luck?”

    A boy in Florida watched an old man on an evening in the 1970s. He was sitting by a pier, just before sundown. The old man came strolling along the beach and walked out to the end of the pier, holding a bucket and looking out across the water. The sun was a huge orange, low down on the sea and ready to disappear, casting a golden bronze glow across the water. There was nobody much about, apart from the boy and a few joggers on the beach. The old man looked up.

    Far above him, up in the sky, a thousand white dots, screeching and squawking, winged toward the end of the pier. Before long he was surrounded by seagulls, fluttering and flapping wildly. The old man wasn’t just unfazed by it all. He called out to them, and he smiled, and reached into his bucket. And for the next few minutes, he threw shrimp to the seagulls, who flapped and squawked and beat each other to the food.

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  • Lets talk about sex

    By Graham Ashby

    I don’t normally speak, let alone write about the subject of Sex. It’s one of those hard issues that always seems to raise eyebrows with people thinking, ‘What’s his problem?’ This article developed from a series of messages that my wife and I prepared when we were asked to address the subjects of Relationships and Sex. At first we were reluctant, to say the least, but as we began to study and read about these issues our hearts grew heavier and heavier. Sex and the immorality that accompanies it was far worse than we had thought. But there was a positive. We discovered, as we learnt about where our youth are at, that the subject of sex isn’t as taboo as it was in our generation. Today young people are willing to talk about it and admit that they need to know what God has to say about relationships and sex. What buoyed our hearts the most was that in this crazy, murky world of illicit sensualities young people are hungry for truth, decency and hope.

    Our culture is obsessed with sex. Pornography is everywhere, declining morals, increased divorce, gay and sex parades and an epidemic of forbidden passions and impure behaviour. Our hedonistic ways continue on unchecked and lead to wrecked lives. Society appears to be intoxicated with erotic attitudes and it’s beginning to take its toll on churches.

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  • KidsGames – Sports and the Bible

    Sport is one of the most popular activities on earth. Nothing draws the world together like major sports events such as the Olympic Games. Kids love sports and also respect their sporting heroes. KidsGames can give local sports people the opportunity to share their talents and faith with children in a way that has a lasting impact.

    The sports and games in KidsGames provide a great way of forming strong relationships with children. It also provides a natural setting in which to introduce children to Jesus through the Bible. This is done by leaders sitting beside the children as they share and discuss stories from the Bible. Many KidsGames Bible curriculums have been developed and all utilise the experiential learning model that then makes strong connections to both the Bible and to life lessons. Children with other gifts and abilities, such as music, art and drama, can be part of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies or used in other electives ideas that children can work on to present at the Closing Ceremony.

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  • Book Review – Pastoring the Pastor

    Pastoring the Pastor
    by Tim Cooper

    Pastoring the Pastor, by Tim Cooper and Kelvin Gardiner, is the story of a new church pastor whose high hopes and shimmering illusions are rendered ragged from about Day 1 in his new church.  Beset by reality, frailty and sheer malice; dogged by unreal expectations and a certain lack of general realism or personal tact, Daniel Donford nearly comes to grief. But he has an Uncle Eldon, who is an experienced and wise old pastor, and Dan thinks to email him with a few questions. The answers are helpful, and over the next few years, Dan and Eldon swap emails which, presented to us in book form, are informative and encouraging to us all.  Tim Cooper is a former pastor of LifeSwitch church, in the Hutt Valley, and Kelvin Gardiner has pastured churches in Rutland St Church, Christchurch, in the Philippines and in Seattle, USA. Their created Rev Donford is undoubtedly a ménage of personal experience from at least three countries, and he — and his challenges — are recognisable to everyone.

    Pastoring the Pastor retails for $24.99, and is available at the Manna Christian Books chain and at other reputable Christian books outlets.

    Note: book image used is for illustrative purpose only. Dimensions and materials may vary from actual product.

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  • Book Review: Windows on Widowhood

    Jocelyn Murray’s life was radically changed when she was widowed in 1987. She was the mother of three children and the leader of women’s Bible study groups, and she also graduated with a Diploma in Christian Studies (Hons) from the Bible College of New Zealand. In 1995 she published a book on her experiences of life as an adjusting widow and a child of God, Windows on Widowhood.

    The book was well received in England and Australia, as well as in New Zealand, and was also translated into Danish and published in Denmark in 1998. It covers, from the point of view of a new and deeply shocked widow, such aspects of the situation as Why me?; Why do the righteous suffer?; It is right to grieve; God cares; Facing the future; When is a widow ready for remarriage? and Choosing to walk by faith.

    Jocelyn Murray remarried a short time after her book was originally published. Now Jocelyn Murray-Currie, she has reprinted her book in 2011, and it is now available in a new edition. Along with her other title, What’s in Your Suitcase for Heaven?, the book is available in local Christian bookstores or directly from the author at  [email protected] Both books retail at $22-99, and both include study group questions, which have been very well received.

    Note: book image used is for illustrative purpose only. Dimensions and materials may vary from actual product.

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  • Trusting Whom?

     

    I read two articles the other day that seemed to speak to each other. The first was in the Dominion Post: “The use and misuse of religious freedom”. The second was in the book of Joshua, in the Old Testament of the Bible.

    The DomPost writer was a professor of Bioethics, and his theme — crudely summarised — was that you can’t have it both ways. If a person chooses to follow a religious principle and a given code of conduct, there will be prices to pay that will not be paid by other people. You may choose to accept the religion and the price, or not; but not the religion without the price.

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  • What the Bible Teaches about Relationships and Sex

     

    During the recent Queen’s Birthday weekend 120 young people gathered at Queenstown’s Lakeland Park Christian Camp for their annual Bible Teaching weekend. The subject matter being dealt with was ‘What the Bible Teaches about Relationships and Sex’. Graham & Wanda Ashby were responsible for the teaching and it was an absolute delight to see such hungry Young People digging deep into the Scriptures over the weekend. In some respects we were all caught by surprise at just how much interest there was in these issues. Certainly by their own admission, many Young People asked “Why aren’t these subjects taught to us in church or at Youth Group? We needed to hear this!”

    Despite the ‘deep issues’ being discussed there was such a positive atmosphere during the entire weekend. Prior to camp Graham & Wanda had asked many to saturate the camp in prayer so that the father of lies would have no access to the hearts and minds of these Young People. This prayer hedge that surrounded the camp meant that Scriptural truths could be clearly taught and the result was the Holy Spirit was able to move deeply in many lives. During the weekend there were some tears as the Youth were confronted with the moral deception that appears to have invaded our society and in some cases our own hearts. The truth was hard hitting but the response was that had many young men and women were saying they were so very grateful that at last someone was telling them God’s thoughts on these difficult subjects which they face every day.

    Because of the subjects being covered some real tensions were expected. Instead there was a desire for forgiveness and an admission that we have drifted with our culture and needed to be reminded of God’s perspective on these issues. This camp was an opportunity to recalibrate our thinking and to rediscover the facts about what the Lord values in our domestic, public and private relationships.

    Graham & Wanda’s five messages were broken down to explain the meaning of the word love by looking at the Greek meaning as in ‘storge’ (family love), ‘philia’ (friends love), ‘eros’ (romantic love) and ‘agape’ (selfless love) with a final roundup on Monday morning. It would be fair to say that the Young People were very responsive and by that we mean a hush came upon every session as Graham & Wanda spoke. Along with their anticipation was a deep interest and attention. It was quite a remarkable experience to sense their elevated interest in what was being taught. Many of the Christian young people admitted that they have never heard in their church teaching or preaching on how to live and love within a family; how to be loving and influential as a friend; how to choose a life partner; how to be a living sacrifice and how to renew your mind.

    After each message there were discussion groups to get feedback and see if they had understood what the Scriptures were saying. It was amazing to hear their honesty and openness during these times. Many of them were up front with how they know they need boundaries to be set for them by their parents and by God. Some even admitted that they needed discipline but their parents won’t do it!

    On the issue of friends, some confessed that they are weak at being friends because in order to be among friends they so often just go along with their peer groups in order to be accepted. They seemed to be amazed at learning that the ‘sex culture’ that they now live in is NOT normal. It had been pointed out, that to them the culture of today seems normal because they know nothing else. Graham outlined the world’s history of sex so that they could understand for themselves how over the last 4,000 years, immorality and sex idolatry has continued to eat away at the human race and at the human heart. Wanda revealed the lies they are hearing through their sex education programmes at schools and how most sex-education teachers say “when you have sex” and no-one ever says “if you have sex”. With the Young People’s new awareness of how obsessed our society has become came a revelation that they did not want to be like the world. We weren’t expecting that. We thought that on this point some may say we are ‘out of touch’ or ‘old fashioned’. Instead it was as if they knew that society was so bad that they chose not to be shaped by it. Over the weekend we were all gaining a sense of identity that is found in Christ and the Young People were beginning to understand the call to purity and separation from the standards of this world. A great number of the conversations with adolescents were them thanking us for telling them like it is and for not being meek and weak on these subjects. They admitted their confusion and ignorance and were very appreciative of being reminded about God’s plans for relationships and sex. Some admitted that pornography had eaten away at their hearts but were repentant of these temptations and would go home and correct them. Their honesty and openness was a real feature of camp.

    All in all we have had a mighty weekend and conclude that these South Island Young People are spiritually healthy and eager for the challenges that are ahead of them. There was a hunger in their eyes and hearts and they weren’t shy about sharing their struggles, hopes and dreams. Get this – 90% of the young people had Bibles at camp! Brilliant. So often, that’s the last ‘accessory’ they pack. It was evident at camp that these Young People are serious about discovering what the Lord wants them to know and do. They seemed to understand that in order to get the best out of them we had to get the best into them. There is no substitute for the authority and power of God’s Word. It was like a lion in the weekend – the book was opened, truth was let it out and everyone gave it great respect!

    It is the hope of every leader at camp (and probably parent too) that true fruit will come from the (agape) love that they carry into their existing and prospective relationships. And let’s keep praying that these Young People develop God honouring relationships in the future and that with their bodies, minds and lives, the families and homes that they establish will become a great light in the darkness.

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  • Prayer Partner “the app!”

    One of the great things about prayer is that God answers! I know this because in the times when I discipline myself to note prayer requests in my prayer diary, I can see over time pages and pages of God’s faithfulness!
    Which leads to another issue – often I find myself committing to pray for something or someone and then at a later date I struggle to remember what I am praying for. I am sure that God understands and he honors prayer from my limited memory, but I then miss out because I don’t get to see God’s provision in answered prayer.

    Enter “Prayer Partner”, an iphone app. This great little tool enables you to note down prayer points, categorize them, specify the number of times a week you want to pray for that item and then to record the answer!! Awesome!

    What’s great is that now, I don’t need to carry my prayer diary around (not that I ever did!) and I don’t need to rely on my memory. Now when I am talking with someone or something comes to mind I simply add it to my phone prayer list and I’ve got it!!!

    Prayer Partner has been a great tool to keep me praying for people and situations. I find that moments that used to be spent thinking about nothing much are now useful. I’ll open up a list and can pray over situations and people. I find it continues to enlarge my heart for God’s mission and people.

    But wait, there is more. After praying for someone you can use the contact button to send a text or email to encourage them or share and verse that the Lord has laid on your heart regarding the situation you are praying about.

    I don’t know about you, but I think the more we can encourage each other and pray for each other the better.

    Nick Field

     

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  • Book Review – Into the Great Unknown

    Into the Great Unknown
    by Maurice Harvey
    Published by iUniverse, Inc

    Maurice Harvey spent many years as a photo-journalist with the United Bible Societies, in a role that took him all over the world. Adding to his two earlier books, Shooting the Globe (2002) and Reading the Funny Bible, (2004), both published by Castle Books, he now brings us Into the Unknown.

    The book begins in Africa in 1960, headed for the new nation of Congo, only recently Belgian Congo and ravaged by war and unrest. Over the next 30 years, Maurice travelled through various African nations, Central and Eastern Europe, Indonesia and North Korea, and here he tells us about it. With an eye for the dramatic and the quirky, and a heart for the God he consistently served through the United Bible Societies and his work as an internationally-recognised photographer, he gives us glimpses of God at work in places we might rarely suspect him to be, except in theory.

    Basically, the title gives the introduction. The book tells the story. The man adds the colour. And God gives all of it meaning.

    Into the Unknown, books are available from iUniverse.com (physical copies) or from kobo.com (ebook). The book is also available from local booksellers or your preferred online retailer.

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  • Book Review – Silent Tears

    Silent Tears
    by Taikaawa Savage
    Published by DayStar Books

    DayStar’s newest publication, to be launched on June 17, is Silent Tears: One Woman’s Journey from Hell. The writer is a personal assistant to a retired Auckland businessman and a member of Life South Church. Her book is the dramatic account of her courageous struggle against demon possession and evil. She tells her own story of experiences with abuse, and in her appendix, “Are demons real?” she says that although some people scoff at the idea of demons, in her case there was not one but several. Her story is the glorious, age-old but always new narrative of the freeing agency of the Holy Spirit of God, who led her by faith in Jesus away from sexual abuse, alcohol, gambling and demons into his glorious light.

    The book sells for $22.95 plus $5.00 postage and packaging, and may be ordered from DayStar Books, PO Box 65275, Mairangi Bay, Auckland 0754. The DayStar website is www.daystarbooks.org

    Note: book image used is for illustrative purpose only. Dimensions and materials may vary from actual product.

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