• Book Review – Way to Go: Living in a Broken World

    Way to Go: Living in a Broken World
    by George Bryant
    Published by Daystar Books

    George Bryant, well-known New Zealand teacher, educationalist and Christian writer, has produced his fifteenth book on the subject of how we should treat each other in the twenty-first century based on the teachings of Jesus, “the greatest teacher in the world.” He calls us to be more radical in the fields of forgiveness, peace-making, generous giving and personal morality, along with many more. He argues that a genuine commitment to the standards of Jesus would be radical for the Christian and attractive to the onlooker, and that the result would be to transform communities. His chapters are presented in manageable chunks, and his style is readable and easily digested. The book is selling at $23.99, plus $5.00 postage and packing. It may be ordered from Daystar Books, PO Box 65275 Mairangi Bay, North Shore City, or from PO Box 7031, Maungatapu, Tauranga. George Bryant’s website is  www.georgebryant.co.nz

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

    Read more »
  • HM Rage – 2012

    An update on HM Rage 2012 – from Steve & Cheryl Hamilton on behalf of the HM Rage board

    Hi Friends, Supporters, Sponsors, Crew, Church Leaders and Prayer Partners,

    Thank you for joining in prayer support for HM Rage over the years and for this latest weekend in particular.  The HM Rage board and crew have been mightily encouraged by messages of support, practical assistance and generous financial sponsorship that all contribute so critically to God’s work at this youth event.

    This year God has done abundantly more than we could have ever asked, ever dreamed-of or imagined.

    Yesterday, as we reached the end of a full-camp at Totara Springs with the 400+ youth spilling out of the cabins, motels and bunk-rooms.  Today we can look back on some truly amazing highlights and are humbled and thankful;

    • Over 120 youth responded (came forward and/or were counselled) as God’s Holy Spirit spoke into their lives.
    • God used Anthony and Shannon Samuel’s (Tamaki Community Church, Auckland) to speak words of challenge to the youth.  They called for God’s Spirit to bring about conviction – & for youth to get right with God and to live-out a life marked by faith & deeds (explained by Anthony as “God’s power-combo” – yeah!).
    • Please rejoice with us (and the angels) for the 30 first-time commitments to follow Jesus and the many more who were counselled as they expressed a desire to follow Jesus with passion.
    • On Saturday evening the Holy Spirit led an audience response that meant we had to spill over into two additional venues for enough counselling space!
    • Many of the youth stayed behind and spent extra time discussing the challenging topics covered during the break-out sessions (fantastic bunch of speakers/facilitators)
    • Jono Bay (Event Director) planned and implemented a fantastic programme of amazing worship, keynote sessions, sport, talent-quest and much more.

     

    This year marks our twenty-fifth year of HM Rage camps – and this year, God’s Spirit has blessed amazingly with triple the ‘usual’ number responding to the call of Jesus.

    In 2012, we were been blessed with a great team of helpers, speakers, worship team (Mt Mosaic – a talented & truly fantastic team) and camp-crew who have all worked alongside youth–community leaders to minister throughout the weekend.  Richard Davis and his staff at Totara Springs pulled out all the stops to serve God and the youth throughout the weekend.  A number of crew took annual leave from their work to help setup for the weekend, while others donated goods, services and finances – and we are so grateful for all who fellowship with us in this.  God has so abundantly blessed your generosity and unity of purpose!

    SOME FINAL THOUGHTS;

    God brought about a real-life youth-revival at Totara Springs camp this last weekend and while God has blessed HM Rage mightily in the past, this year he choose to demonstrate His grace and love in a far more powerful way than many of us have ever witnessed before.  Join with us in thanking God for His generosity to us.

    Please continue to pray for those youth who responded to God this weekend.  As they head back to the daily-routine of school, university and work, please pray that they will learn to walk with their God and he will be their very near, real & present Lord & Saviour

     

    HM RAGE are running a competition on Facebook for the seven days until 12th June 2012.

    The winner will be drawn from all those people who visit and ‘Like’ the HM Rage Facebook page.

    The winner will receive an HM Rage 2012 (wall mounted) Trophy and a goodie-bag (chocolates, sweets and more!!)

    Suggest links to;

    http://www.hmrage.co.nz/

    www.facebook.com/HMRage

    Read more »
  • Book Review – God Is Back: How the Global Rise of Faith is Changing the World

    God Is Back: How the Global Rise of Faith is Changing the World, John Micklethwait & Adrian Wooldridge, Penguin Books, 2010, 405pp.

    Reviewed by Ron Hay.

    Ron Hay

    (Ron Hay, who lives in Castle Hill, is a former Anglican vicar and is now a writer on social and Christian issues.)

    “Why are the most unlikely people, including myself, suddenly talking about God?” asks British academic, Terry Eagleton, in a recent book on the God debate. “Who would have expected theology to rear its head once more in the technocratic twenty-first century?”

    The answer is not just the rise of radical Islam and the advent of the new atheists. Certainly the aftermath of 9/11 and the aggressive proselytising of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are factors thrusting the God question into public consciousness.

    Read more »
  • The Trinity

    by Karen Rich, Porirua Gospel Chapel

    Saint Augustine once said, “Those who deny the trinity are in danger of losing their salvation, and those who seek to explain the trinity are in danger of losing their mind.”

    That is because God is a mystery, and while we seek to understand God as best we can based on his self-revelation, we will never get it all figured out. How can we possibly begin to understand God, when  the Bible tells us that he can hold the universe in the palm of his hand? That’s our universe, which has more stars, most of them bigger than our sun, than there are grains of sand on our seashore.  How can we understand, when we know he is listening to us pray as if it were a one-on-one conversation, yet there are millions of other people praying at the same time? How can we begin to understand his mind. Yet even though we have to give up on the understanding, he still wants our love and our commitment. It is said, “as the heavens are  above the earth, so are my thoughts above your thoughts” (Isaiah 55: 9).

    We need to dig further into what we believe. We want to understand the God we believe in so our faith is firm and secure. This is essential to our confidence in our salvation. We need to know we are saved by grace and not by works, that no one has to count how many doors they have knocked on or how many others they have led to knowledge of our God and his saving grace.

    “The Trinity”  is a convenient term to explain the God we read of in the Bible, which is God’s inspired word to us. We do not find this term anywhere in the Bible.  It was coined to explain what we read. It is especially important to come to grips with this three-part Godin our individualistic world . This is not polytheism which imagines many Gods. We have one God with three different faces or personalities. We may not understand it any better than the wind. It simply is so.

    Consider these Bible verses that refer to this triune God, and picture concepts to explain the three in one. Each of these verses talk about the three natures of God.

    • Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19)
    • May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14)
    • Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood (1 Peter 1:2)

    The parallel I remember from my childhood that was used to explain this was that of an egg. The whole object is an egg, yet there is a shell and a white and a yolk and they all hold together to make the whole. In both God and his created egg the three work together to be a complete unit. The three individual parts have different qualities, yet together they are one.

    Jesus said, quoting from the Torah, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Mark 12:29) and Acts 17:24-25 reads “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”

    So God is the only one God. He created all that we know, and there is no other God or gods. This is the solo God that the Jews believed in. There is no one else like him; he is the supreme being from whom we have our life and breath, and he has our days numbered. God is the giver of life which we see in a newborn baby, and also the preserver of life, and he has a plan for us to live out.

    That we believe in one God separates us from many religions.

    Our early fathers gave us the picture of the Trinity to explain the one God that is presented to us as three entities. Another picture of three in one is water: ice, liquid and vapour.  All are the same composition yet they assume different forms. So God has three compositions: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    The next distinguishing difference is how we view Jesus Christ. John wrote, in 1 John 4:2: “This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.”  So we need to accept Jesus as God. He is the Messiah long awaited in Jewish history, God revealed to us in human flesh. He was born to a virgin through a divine miracle, and his life and death and resurrection were planned. To deny his virgin birth is to make him human; a good man, but not God. To say he was a good man but not God makes him a liar and a fake, because he claims his relationship with God the father many times and asserts that he was carrying out God’s plans. “Very truly I tell you,” he said, “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does (John 5:19).

    Here is God the Father and the Son working together clearly in telekinetic communication. Augustine saw the Trinity like the human mind which has three distinct parts: memory, understanding and will. You can’t divide the three and all are necessary to our mind, yet they work differently

    The apostle Paul wrote, in Colossians 1:15-19, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth … God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.”

    So now we see Jesus as God and that’s part of the message. But the other part is that Jesus Christ and ‘God the Father’ are both God, but different. Jesus prayed to God often, going away to a quiet place and praying for long periods. I may talk to myself occasionally when I want to concentrate, but I don’t pray to myself and ask for permission to do something because that is not necessary. I decide for me. So when Jesus prays, we understand there is a Son and a Father part to this God. How we understand Jesus to be God’s Son and part of the Godhead sets us apart from many other religious groups.

    Then we consider the third part — “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me” (Jesus speaking, John16:13-14).

    The Holy Spirit is the third part of God. Not a force for good like we see in children’s fiction, but an individual who is part of God, who can support us. He can also be lied to, as Ananias and Sapphira did in Acts 5. “You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his” (Romans 8:9).

    In this politically correct world it isn’t okay to put down other groups but — and this is a big but — the closer they are to the truth yet not accepting the Bible unconditionally, the more dangerous they are. That is because if we don’t understand what we believe, then we are easily confused and able to be recruited into groups with false views of God. It is only in accepting  Jesus as Son of God and our redeemer and saviour that we can be saved and assured of our place in heaven. Other groups do not have this assurance, but believe they have to work their way into heaven. Some even believe they can achieve a god-like status through good works. But we are saved by grace, and our best efforts are still flawed and not worthy of our God. Yet he accepts us as we are.

    Another picture of God is us. God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1: 26-27).

    Now we are made with body soul and spirit. The body is the obvious part and we look after it with great care, eating, dressing, cleaning and training it. Our soul is the part of us that makes us individuals with different personalities and skills. Our spirit is the part of us that seeks a relationship with God and has the desire to worship. So if we don’t worship God, we find something or someone else.

    When we are sure of What we believe and Who we believe and Why we believe, then out of our love for others we know we will seek to tell them the truth we know because we want to see them in eternity with us.

    The nature of relationship and unity within the trinity shows us that harmonic relationships are important. It is not good for a person to be alone. The church should provide a loving and unified community for its members to be distinct in their identities and yet unified in their love.

    A good reflection is the Nicene Creed. Since 325AD, people have repeated:

    We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is seen and unseen.

    We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us men and for our salvation
    he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
    he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
    he suffered, died, and was buried.
    On the third day he rose again
    in fulfilment of the Scriptures;
    he ascended into heaven
    and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
    and his kingdom will have no end.

    We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
    He has spoken through the Prophets.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead
    and the life of the world to come.

    Amen.

     

    Read more »
  • Ashamed of the Gospel?

    Christianity is under attack! “What’s new?” you say, and you would be right. Isn’t it amazing that modern skeptics’ bias, ideas and prejudices should be accepted, instead of eye-witness accounts of people who were actually there and recorded the events, where the writing could be peer-reviewed and verified.

    Surprisingly, if you start with a conclusion and argue in a circle you’ll always be able to prove you’re right. By contrast the Bible calls for an open mind to truth and the reality of our own existence, the history of mankind and in particular the person of Jesus Christ. Since the dawning of time, man has philosophised about God’s existence, self-proclaimed prophets have arisen and religious movements have materialised.

    While other religions can exist in their own philosophical world without their leader, Christianity can’t. In fact Christianity stands or falls on the historicity and veracity of Christ. Take Christ out of Christianity and you don’t just weaken the superstructure, you destroy the edifice from the foundation up.

    The incarnation of Christ, God making himself known personally, his purposes and plans through Christ bringing salvation to mankind, is all based on a proposition that is highly unlikely from any human viewpoint. That is, a rescue plan divinely conceived, yet born out in real time and space dimensions, in which the human race could be rescued from its rebellion, and be restored with its creator, the God of the universe, as considered in 1 Corinthians 5:19. What light this sheds on the world we live in, beautiful yet strained, magnificent and yet marred by man’s abuse of his God-given freedom. Yet through Christ and his substitutionary death and resurrection, we can be forgiven, set free simply by confession, and acceptance of his grace.

    What liberation this brings! What a message we have. Surely the love of Christ compels us to share the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:16: “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.” Let us never fail to share the message of the gospel, as Christ’s church and as individuals, wherever we can.

    Romans 1:16 says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”

    This article by Mark Gardiner first appeared in the Raleigh Street Christian Centre monthly Insight in August 2011.


     

    Read more »
  • I Dreamed a Dream

    Margie Willers, to the Totara Springs Camp Convention, 2011

    For me, one of the most poignant speeches ever has to be Martin Luther King, Jnr’s “I have a dream.”

    Even today, when listening to a replay of that inspiring address, I experience goose-bumps. It’s spine-tingling stuff! What a visionary. What passion. What drive. What commitment.

    I’m convinced with a “God-dream” that it’s absolutely imperative for the God-dream catcher to be a person who is task driven, goal orientated. Totally focused, like the eye of the tiger upon its prey.

    In 1976, I received a God-dream. I was 28 years of age, a graduate from Faith Bible College, Tauranga.

    The cushy-incubator era had ended. Reality set in — it was time to put into practice those “faith principles” I’d been taught in the classroom. I most certainly don’t deny the stepping out into new adventure was both challenging and daunting.

    Read more »
  • The Call to Serve

    Leighton Mossop

    The Spirit-filled Christian is one who sees service to God as a priority in life. God calls us to serve him. In light of this, it is important that we ensure our motivation for serving God is not out of a sense of duty, in a grudging way, “Because I have to” or because we feel we owe it to God and can somehow pay back this impossible debt. Rather, we serve God because we are so grateful for what he has done for us! Our response is an expression of loving gratitude to his great love for us.

    Easier said than done. The fact is, Christians respond in different ways to God’s call upon their lives. Some people remain uninvolved in God’s service for a variety of personal and selfish reasons. Procrastinators sit in this camp. They keep putting off taking those divine opportunities that come their way. They may have good intentions, but sadly these are not followed up with action. Then there are other people who consider themselves, or whom others see, as zealous. They end up doing whatever good works seem appropriate at the time. It produces much busy activity, but most of it can be of questionable value, where fruitfulness is lacking and frustration abounding. Then there are those who recognise, accept and pursue that specific sphere of service that God has called them to. Which response best describes you?

    Read more »
  • Worship (4)

    Leighton Mossop

    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?

    Read more »
  • What man has separated…

    A conversation on divorce and remarriage (Matthew 19:1-12)
    by John Buchanan, Chapel Hill, Hamilton

    Divorce is an important and difficult topic. It is where something is “wrong” – something that contradicts God’s good design. It deals with the most precious of human relationships and in particular its failings. I do not have all the answers. Be wary of anyone who does.

    We all intersect with divorce. You may have thought about getting divorced yourself, you may have been divorced, and you will almost certainly have been close to friends or family who have divorced. Whatever, you will have experienced first or secondhand the pain of an intimate relationship breaking down.

    There’s a story in the Gospels of a woman who is caught in adultery and brought to Jesus1. When her accusers have left, Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” His response is pastoral and theological – there is his gracious, forgiving response to the woman and his sober treatment of sexual sin. Sin is not treated lightly, but the woman is offered the chance to start again3.

    God’s design is clear. Marriage is to be a permanent relationship. The Bible teaches that marriage should be for life. But remember, marriage is a temporal relationship that does not continue into eternity, for there is no marriage in heaven2. It’s for this life, not the next one.

    That’s the design – the ideal for marriage. What about the reality? It’s at this point that there can be dissonance between the ideal and the reality. It’s got a lot to do with acknowledging the difference between two small words. Those words are: “can” and “should”.

    Read more »
  • What God has joined…

    A conversation on singleness and marriage (Matthew 19:1-12)
    by John Buchanan, Chapel Hill, Hamilton

    CHANGES

    3000 years ago, around the time of David the King of Israel, marriage was held in high esteem. God’s command to be fruitful and multiply1 was taken seriously and marriage was the right way to go about it. If you were not married by the age of 20 (unless you were a student of law), then you were seen to be breaking God’s command. The plan was simple: get a mate and create.

    In contrast to marriage, women were held in low esteem. Women were chattels; a woman was the possession of her father and then of her husband and she had no legal rights. Divorce was allowed, but only for men.

    Go forward a thousand years to when Jesus walked the land of Palestine. The old ways were changing, as echoed in Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce2. In the old days, it was OK for a man to divorce his wife.

    Not any more, says Jesus. The status of marriage has been elevated. Later he went on to say: …from the beginning “God made them male and female.” And (Jesus went on to say), “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together3.

    The status of marriage has been elevated. There is also a change in the status of women, as per Paul’s pastoral counsel: The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife4.

    Married couples are indebted to one another sexually. To whom does the wife’s body belong? It belongs to her and also to her husband. Roman and Jewish men would have questioned this. “Of course my wife’s body belongs to me. But what do you mean, it also belongs to her?”

    Read more »