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Jonathan shouted to his armour bearer, “Up! Follow me! God has turned them over to Israel!” Jonathan scrambled up on all fours, his armour bearer right on his heels. When the Philistines came running up to them, he knocked them flat, his armour bearer right behind finishing them off, bashing their heads in with rocks. 1 Sam 14:13

photo of man rock climbing

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When I was praying about this part of the passage I was drawn to the way they got up to the battle, to the victory.    They climbed.   They scrambled up on all fours.  Some translations use the word crawled up.  So Jonathan crawled on his hands and knees.  Now when you’re crawling you’re at a distinct disadvantage.   You can’t really carry weapons and crawl at the same time.  You’re unprotected and defenceless.  And we all know from Star Wars that it’s better to have the higher ground am I right?

 

I was struck about how when we get a calling from God, when we have a sense of His time and we step forward into action and obedience, responding to His call – sometimes we think that it’s going to be an easy ride, we click our fingers and hey presto its done.  But real life is we get a calling, we sense God stirring us to step out and then WE HAVE TO DO THE WORK.  We have to take the step.  We have to do it and sometimes that’s not easy.  Sometimes it feels like we’re scrambling up the ravine of life.  It takes discipline.  Action.  Commitment.  Faithfulness.  It comes from the inside out.  We have to walk through God’s process before we see His fulfilled promise.”  God’s calling for your life is a journey not a destination. Calling is a series of ways we will glorify God, build His Kingdom and serve others over the course of our lives.

 

“Your life from seed to full-grown tree is a process. We all like the idea of fruit, but rarely do we allow ourselves to build a root system.” Banning Liebscher

  Read the rest of this entry »

brown viper snake

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I heard the most fascinating story today about a woman in america who had a pet snake.    I confess, I’m thankful I live in New Zealand where the only snakes we have are in the zoo.  New Zealand is a snake free zone.   I have held a snake however, when I was in Australia at the zoo.  I dared my son to go on a roller coaster with me and he dared me back to hold a snake.  Challenge accepted.

But back to the story of the woman and her pet snake.

When snakes go to sleep they curl up into a coil.  This woman’s snake however lay beside her on her bed, stretched out alongside her.  The first few nights the woman thought this was odd, but strangely nice, snuggled beside her.  But then she thought maybe her snake is unwell so she took her to the vet.

You may have guessed what the vet told her.  The snake was not being affectionate…. The snake was measuring her and was preparing to EAT HER!  Yikes!

It made me think.  How often do we snuggle up to our sin.  We keep it as a pet.

But sin isnt a pet.  It seeks to kill, steal and destroy us.  It wants to eat us alive!

Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. ” – Ravi Zacharias

 

 

 

 

photography of stones

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Jonathan and his armour bearer were crawling up that mountain preparing to jump into battle and bash the philistine army.  Each one of us have battles we face.  What might be waiting for you at the top of that ravine might not be a physical army.  It might be anxiety, or problems with lust, or issues with insecurity.  It might be sinful habits that keep on tripping us up or stuff going on behind the scenes in our families and friendships.

Did you notice that the philistines totally underestimated these 2 guys.  When the philistines saw them they shouted out, “Look at that! The Hebrews are crawling out of their holes!”

 Then they yelled down to Jonathan and his armour bearer, “Come on up here! We’ve got a thing or two to show you!” 1 Samuel 14:12

They thought they were going to teach them a lesson and defeat them.  They were confident of their position and power over them. Read the rest of this entry »

man looking at a rock formation

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When I read the bible I like to picture the action and put myself in the shoes of the people.   And I also ask God – what are YOU saying?

You can read a passage 10 times, 100 times, a thousand times and God can breathe something new into it that makes you see the world and life and Him a different way.

When I was praying about this part of the passage it was struck about how when we get a calling from God, when we have a sense of His time and we step forward into action and obedience, responding to His call – sometimes we think that it’s going to be easy peasy, we click our fingers and hey presto its done.  But real life is we get a calling, we sense God stirring us to step out and then WE HAVE TO DO THE WORK.  We have to take the step.  We have to do it and sometimes that’s not easy.  It takes discipline.  Action.  Commitment.  Faithfulness.  It comes from the inside out.

I just want to add here living out God’s calling for your life is a journey not a destination. Calling is a series of ways we will glorify God, build His Kingdom and serve others over the course of our lives. Read the rest of this entry »

man standing on brown rock cliff in front of waterfalls photography

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The world has changed.  I love all those memes about how the world is playing jamangi or the hibernation guy on tik tok, or the real life stories of people who woke up from comas, or finished a 75 day silent retreat (for real) to find out about covid-19 and all the crazy things going on around the world…. But seriously, who would have ever thought that 2020 would look like THIS!

Jonathan was living in crazy times.  In the 1 Samuel 13 it talks about how the nation of Israel was overrun by the Philistines and how they weren’t even allowed to have any blacksmiths in the whole country so that they couldn’t make weapons.    Everything was upside down for them.

But in the middle of this Jonathan had vision for the future and a sense that God was about to do something.  He was like PICK ME!

6 Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come on now, let’s go across to these uncircumcised pagans. Maybe God will work for us. There’s no rule that says God can only deliver by using a big army. No one can stop God from saving when he sets his mind to it.”

His armor bearer said, “Go ahead. Do what you think best. I’m with you all the way.”

1 Samuel 14:6-7

Now I want you to notice 2 things from this short part. Read the rest of this entry »

You know Jesus took up His cross for one reason.  You.  Insert your name here.  He went to the cross because of His great love for you.  Insert name here.  Because without His death paying for our sins we’re screwed.  He died so we could come close, so we could follow Him, so we could be called children of God, so we could become friends with God and have peace with God.

Being a Christian isn’t a nice idea or an optional extra for life, it is completely and totally necessary for this life and for next.  It opens the door to heaven when we die.   It opens the door for us to know God right here, right now.

God isn’t far far away like I had thought, He is so real and so close and right now He is giving you that invitation to come close and to know Him for real.  We sometimes call it giving your life to God.  He gives you a fresh start.  He takes away our sin and makes us clean on the inside.  He gives us meaning and purpose.

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Right now, we are living history.

There has never been a time when the world has been so affected by the one same big event.  We are living through a moment that will be written about in history books. You will tell your grandkids about the time the world shut down. Documentaries will retell the story for generations to come.

But right in the middle of history being made, we are celebrating the a far greater moment in history, a moment that has massive significance not only for us personally but for the entire universe –  Jesus’ death and resurrection.

I know some of you have been Christians for a long time and I know also that some of you here are newbies to the Christian thing – but it doesn’t matter if you’ve being a Christian for 50 years or 5 minutes – or even if you’re just asking questions at this stage – this is what we build our life on – who Jesus is and what Jesus did – we can never get tired of hearing about what Jesus did for us upon the cross and it is good to remind ourselves of the power of His promises and the reality of His work in our lives.

Read the rest of this entry »

How many of you have seen a video where someone has a plate of water and pepper and they then wash their hands and hey presto the pepper moves this in the past few weeks?

NINTCHDBPICT000570116785

 

I want us to think about that science experiment but instead of it being germs and soap let’s think of it all the fears, anxieties, temptations, sins and all the things that want to pull us down and affect us negatively.

It’s often all around us – peer pressure, negative thinking, bullying – and now with the added pressure of all the stuff going on around the world and all the mixed messages about it – it’s hard to know what is true and right.

 

This is where the soap comes in. The soap is like the Word of God in our lives.  It’s like it coats our life with peace and truth which protects us from the attack of the enemy, the lies around us and the lies we tell ourselves.  It counters the negative thoughts and the anxiety and instead gives us hope and a sense of purpose.  This is why spending time with God is so vital and important.  It’s not an optional extra.  It’s not something we take lightly because we know the benefit it will make to your lives.

 

Philippians 4:6-8 says:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

 

When my kids were way younger Tony my hubby got made redundant.  He rung me and said that the whole company was closing and that everyone was being sent home.  Those phone calls are not fun.

For you it might be stuff going on with your parents, or health problems, or stuff at school.  It might be how people treat you or mental health stuff going on.  You might be feeling anxious about what are you going to do when you grow up and leave school, or about relationship pressure or things that you’re seeing on social media.

After I finished talking to Tony I just sat on the couch a bit stunned.

All the negative thoughts flooded at me and surrounded me.   Where would our money come from?  What about our mortgate?  All the crazy adulting thoughts!

 

I had been listening to some worship and having a prayer time so began praying again.  I turned the worship up loud and just let the words of the songs wash over me.

 

In a way – it was like putting soap over my heart and mind.   It was like reminding me of God’s truth and God’s promises.    It changed the way I thought.  It changed how I felt.

 

After a short while I was feeling peaceful, I was feeling hopeful, I was feeling confident.

 

Worship and prayer and the Word of God gets us on the same page as God.  It reminds us that He is good and great.  That nothing is impossible for God.  That nothing will separate us from God.  That in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.  That Jesus has overcome the world.   All of that is straight from the bible and it’s not just cute sayings or clichés or nice words but powerful truth that you can bet your life on.

 

It’s all good and well to have the bible on your phone or your bookcase if you don’t read it.  It’s like that soap sitting on the table by that kid doing the experiment.   Until the kid puts the soap on his finger nothing changes, nothing happens.  Until you read the word and absorb it nothing changes, nothing happens.

 

Until you pray, nothing happens.   Until you worship nothing happens.

 

But when you pray, when you worship, when you read your bible there are mighty supernatural forces at work – God is at work!  The Holy Spirit is at work on you on the inside!

 

 

fearnot

OK…confession time. I am afraid of spiders.  Big spiders.  Small spiders.  Daddy long legs.  Big fat hairy bodied spiders.  All spiders.  I used to have reaccuring nightmares about spiders crawling along my pillow when I was a kid.  If I see a spider in my room then I call for help.  I once woke up and saw a big fat black spider crawling fast up my wall.  I literally jumped over tony and onto the other side of the bed and woke tony up and made him get it.  At 3am.   I have in fact slept on the sofa because of a spider.

Here’s another one for you…

In the 2011 Rugby World Romania had to change their team at the last minute because their wing Catalin Fercu withdrew due to a fear of flying.

Fercu, who has 51 Test caps and was afraid of making the the long-haul 40 hour flight to New Zealand.

Now we can look at that and say wow, that’s extreme!

Let’s start with the definition for fear. FEAR is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Here are 5 things that fear causes us to do:

#1 – Fear causes us to reduce the size of God and elevate the size and opinion of man. Read the rest of this entry »

close up photo of a woman holding string lights

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“We tend to think that what we do when we come before God is to present only those parts of ourselves that we feel relatively comfortable with. And, if we think God doesn’t know those other parts, we are horribly misinformed.” Joe & Suzanne Stabile

I read this quote on fb about 2 weeks ago and its just rambled around in my head,.  Poking me.

 

In John 3 we read some of the most famous and favourited verses of the bible… but as we read on we read some of the most uncomfortable verses.

 

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3

 

The AMP reads it like this:  the Light has come into the world, and people loved the [c]darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For every wrongdoer hates the Light, and does not come to the Light [but shrinks from it] for fear that his [sinful, worthless] activities will be exposed and condemned. 21 But whoever practices truth [and does what is right—morally, ethically, spiritually] comes to the Light, so that his works may be plainly shown to be what they are—accomplished in God [divinely prompted, done with God’s help, in dependence on Him].”

 

Now before we point fingers out to the world… lets look in the mirror.  Speck meet log.

 

We love the darkness.  We often hide parts of ourselves.  From others.  From ourselves.  From God.

 

It can be scary thinking that God sees all and knows all.  He sees all the ugly parts of me.  The parts I don’t want to even acknowledge.

 

But the gentleness and the lovingness of God means that he isn’t just after our behaviour, He is after our hearts.

 

In the last 2 verses of Psalm 139 David prayed, “Search me, God, and know my heart.  Test me, and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offenseive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” V 23-24

 

Now that is an incredible prayer to pray.  Risky.  Because God answers prayer.  That prayer is an invitation for God to go into all those places we hide, to strip away all our masks and to point out all our flaws – not to shame us, not to break us, not to push us away, but to draw us closer and to restore us and to heal us and to transform us.

 

The prayer really has 3 parts.

Search my heart.

Know my anxious thoughts.

Uncover my sins.

 

 

And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me,

See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on,
and lead me back to you

 

 

To live in the light we need God to search our hearts.   There is a really common saying “they’ve got a good heart” but the bible says that the heart is deceitful above all things.  Meaning, the heart is a liar.  Without being born again and even to some extent afterwards am I right our heart leads us astray and deceives others and deceives ourselves.  Our worst enemy is often ourselves and the patterns of thoughts and behaviours that are our default settings.

 

It’s a brave person that prays Search my heart.  Test me, know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me.   It gives God permission to point out any sin that’s dwelling within us.

 

When we’ve first become Christians it’s a lot like renovating.  You fix the big obvious things.  We are about to embark on a bathroom renovation and it feels scary.  Not because we’re replacing our bath and vanity, but its what lurks underneath, hidden away that might cause all the drama.   In our early years as Christians we deal with the big things and we see amazing transformation but then as we walk on with Jesus its more about the little things.  You know what though,  those little things are often the big things.  One little leak in our bathroom…. Yeah who knows what we’ll find!  The little things can have huge consequnces.

It’s our attitudes.  Its our pride.  Its our selfishness. Its our laziness.

Last year a personality test called the Enneagram blew up all over social media.  Being the ENFP otter sanguine I am I immediately jumped on board.  Any ennagram fans here?  So, long story short I’m a 3.  3’s are the performers or the achievers.  We are awesome and we know it.

There is a life cycle of aomeone that does an ennegram test.

 

  1. confusion – the enneawaht?
  2. wonder – wow, this thing reads my mail!
  3. evangelism – everyone must do this!
  4. complexity – the more I read about this thing the more I realize I don’t know about myself
  5. suffering – oh no, this thing reads my mail!
  6. growth – the enneagram helps me see my blindspots and who I really am

 

 

I totally went through this life cycle.  I saw the ennegram everywhere and was like do I need to do another personality test…?  The answer for me will always be yes.  They’re so much fun!   I quickly zoomed into the wonder/evangelism phase as well as the oh my goodness the memes are sooo good!  But then as I began to read more and listen to podcasts I discovered that there were places of me that were uncomfortable and hidden in plain sight.  The enneagram aptly calls them the shadow side.

 

The enneagram was the tool God used to search my heart.  To know my anxious thoughts, to show me the offensive places, the places God saw already.   For you it might be though a mentoring relationship – when you give someone permission to speak into your life and to be honest with you about you.  Or a book you read, or something from the Bible that jumps out and slaps you in the face.  It might come as you get connected in a connect group or during worship, or during the real life every day circumstances of your life that God uses to reveal the shadow side and call us into the light.

 

When we let God into those places He transforms us.   When we let the light of God shine into those dark places of our lives He makes us more like Jesus.   He makes us mature and secure.

 

In a way we’re all like Lazarus – called out the darkness of the tomb into a whole new life, but some of us choose to walk around in our graveclothes still.

 

Im not saying we have to be perfect for our light to shine – quite the opposite.   As we live authentic lives, covered in grace, it tells an amazing story about how real and loving and good God is.  Our scars tell a story about the one who right now in heaven has scars on his hands because he died on the cross to set us free and bring us near to God.

 

Davids prayer Search me, test me, know me is challenging.  Lets be people who choose the light instead of the darkness.  Choosing the light trusts that God is good and that God knows best for my life and best for my journey and best for my wholeness.

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Worship Wednesday

1000 Things

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