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And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” Joshua 5:14 v14

Joshua bowed down and worshipped Jesus.

Worship is more than singing. It’s about expressing surrender, its about wrapping language about how we feel, its about changing our perception and seeing things from God’s vantage point. The quickest way I know how to knock something down is to worship God. When faced with obstacles, make a choice to get your eyes open and on Jesus and to worship Him.


Worship reinforces what matters most, reminds us of truths we forget and renews our desire to live what we believe. Rick Warren


It reminds us that yes, God is with us.

It reminds us of His greatness and power.

It lifts our eyes beyond our circumstances to believe the unfailing promises of God.

We see it time and time again in the psalms of david.

David is doing what I call compraying. It’s a combination of complaining and praying.

David is being real with God. Calling a spade a spade.

But then instead of staying in that place of woe is me, David flips it around and fixes his eyes upon God, and begins to worship.

There are so many instances in the bible where worship preceded victory.

We have got to be a people who carve out time to encounter God. I know I say it every time I get up here, and all the time at housegroup but it is so vital.


There is something you get in the secret place that you can get no where else. Do everything you can to establish a secret history with Jesus. ~ Banning Liebscher

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At the very moment that Joshua needed God, God was there. Joshua was surveying the territory he was going to advance into. Having another look over the city he was going to lead an attack against. Imagine the doubts, the fears, the insecurities. The pressure.

At that moment, Joshua had a very real desperate need to hear from God.

And there God is. His personal presence was with Joshua as a mighty declaration and assurance of God’s power and provision.

Theophanies : A Theophany is a manifestation of the preincarnate Christ, who, as the Logos, is the one who reveals God. If only a man or an angel, he would certainly have repelled Joshua’s worshipful response (vs. 14). Other examples of Christology is in Daniel 3 and when Abraham had 3 visitors, one of them a preincarnate Jesus, in Genesis 18.


How do we overcome the Jericho in our life?

We lift our eyes and see that Jesus is with us. We fix our eyes upon the One who can help us. We encounter His presence. Read the rest of this entry »



God was on scene before we were. That means the world belongs to Him. He designed everything in creation with a specific purpose. The world not only belongs to Him; He knows the best way for it to operate. He knows the way forward. He knows everything that influences today and tomorrow. He has the blueprints for our life. He is the commander of the army. He calls the shots and gives the orders. He has the battle strategy.

Joshua’s question “are you for us or for against us?” is a bit like how we can see God sometimes. Sometimes He’s on our page, sometimes we can be stamping our foot and going “seriously!” But the reality is we need to be on HIS page. He is God and I am not.

“This is God’s universe and he does things his way. Now, you may have a better way of doing things, but you don’t have a universe.”

It’s the wisest decision to let Him be in complete control. It makes sense that if He is the Commander in Chief that we would not only consult Him in all things but that we would surrender to Him in all things.

God gets you.

He sees you.

He knows your fears and dreams, your flaws and your strengths.

He is not far away but just as He was with Joshua, He is right beside us.

God met Joshua beside Jericho. Jericho represents that thing that is standing between us and the Promised Land. That obstacle looming on the horizon that we wonder how we’ll get past.

What is the Jericho you face? Read the rest of this entry »



And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”

So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”

Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Joshua 5:13-15

In this passage Joshua is facing one of the tipping point moments, not only in his life, but in the history of the nation of Israel.

We find him by Jericho, perhaps observing the city, planning his strategy, scoping the joint.

I can only imagine how he felt. The walls of Jericho were no ordinary walls but massive fortifications with a series of outer walls and inner walls and ditches between them. In ancient warfare such cities were either taken by assault – using cool ancient siege weapons or surrounded and the people starved into waving the white flag. Its invaders might try to weaken the stone walls with fire or by tunnelling, or they might simply heap up a mountain of earth to serve as a ramp. Each of these methods of assault took weeks or months, and the attacking army usually suffered heavy losses. It was not pretty.

And then lifts his eyes… which makes me so think of Psalm 121, I look to the hills, where does my help come from, my help comes from God, the creator of the heavens and earth.

Of course that was written AFTER Joshua but it so fits.

Joshua lifts his eyes and with eyes open sees a man, sword drawn. Now put yourself in Joshua’s shoes. He’s spying on enemy territory and then a man appears with a drawn sword. I would be freaking out! Is this some Jericho ninja, some champion of the city, the toughest kid on the block, ready to take the commander of the Israel out before the battle even begun?

I have to give Joshua some credit here. He uses courage begins a conversation with the man, assessing perhaps emergency exits or an Achilles heel.

What happens next shows us how we should have our eyes open when facing impossible odds, seeing God in the midst of the battle and moving on into victory.



*** part one of my preaching notes from Sunday 16th Feb – stay tuned for :::
Eyes Open – To Surrender
Eyes Open – To See
Eyes Open – To Worship
Eyes Open – To Hear
Eyes Open – To Follow
Eyes Open – To Victory


Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.  1 Timothy 6:17-19


1 timothy 6 begins talking about honour and greed, the love of money being for some the root of all evil but continues into v 17-19

Paul encourages us to not look to our pay cheque or our boss for our provision and security but to trust the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy. We need to put our hope in God who richly provides us with everything.

He then goes on to unpack what our response should be to such undeserved favour.


Let them do good
Ready to give.
Willing to share.


The flow on from this is that we will be rich in good and storing up eternal rewards.

at The River we want to live with our eyes firmly on the prize.  We want to live with the big picture in mind.  We want there to be meaning and significance purpose in our lives. 


Paul says there are three things we should do:
1  Make good things happen with our money, put it to good use, get a god return for investment made.
2. Be prepared to give, prepared in mind and heart and attitude so that you’re a cheerful giver, full of faith in the greater plans of God.
3. Be willing to share, having a loose territorial hold on your money, knowing that God can use ordinary people and their willingness to share in remarkable ways.


God is an on purpose God.  If you feel led to give and share, here and out there, do it.


Last year on the street outreach oliver and I met a woman who was down on her luck in a big way. She told us her story and let us pray for her.  Tears rolled down her face.  after we left I felt we should go back and take food from our food bank… Plus a little extra the money machine gave me. We drove back and delivered love in action, not just words to her.  She cried again and using colourful language said you have no idea how much this means to us.


Let them do good… Be ready to give, be willing to share.


Each Sunday you have this opportunity.  Our church is ready and willing to do good stuff, not only that will bless and benefit you, but will reach the lost, help the broken, build the kingdom.   The offering is an opportunity for you to respond to God’s great generosity and to surrender to His Lordship and to contribute to the good things He is doing through The River.


You are investing in your heavenly future as well as blessing your present.

Let us pray



thanks 2013 for being an adventure – from light therapy to holidays in turangi and whiritoa, to Illuminate and His Presence and The Weekender, from break ins and break downs, from Leading and Loving It and The Best Housegroup In The Worldand The River, from both kids getting baptised, from caleb graduating primary and getting into BBI, all the milestones and memories – bring on 2014!



i preached: How To Live When The Wheels Fall Off

read:  What Did You Expect?

saw: Les Miserables



life events: the kids went back to school, our son Caleb got baptized, begun light therapy, celebrated  12 Years married, watched #JUSTONE Leading and Loving It web conference, joined the Daughters women’s team at church, kicked the best housegroup in the world off for another year

preached: Worship @ Housegroup

read: Pursued by Jud Wilhite 



life events: tony broke the train, parent helped at the howick historical village school field trip, celebrated one year gluten free

read: jesus is by judah smith, undaunted by christine caine

listened to: the jesus is ___ music project by the city church

preached: Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy @ housegroup,

wrote: Living An Uncontained Life #7 (which was going to be a preach but the Holy Spirit came that night and that was sweet!)

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Passionate people…

pursue God



take daring steps of faith

humble themselves

walk with people in life


know their Word

are filled with the Holy Spirit





what would you add to the list?

P1260863 P1260864



Have you figured this out already?  Still arm wrestling with the usual suspects over whether the return on investment is worth the cost?


Here are 10 killer benefits of a thriving small group ministry:


  1. Life-change happens best in small groups.
  2. Small groups make churches personal.
  3. Small groups provide a nearly unlimited leadership development pipeline.
  4. Off-campus small groups provide nearly unlimited space at optimum times.
  5. “Come over to my house” is a much easier invitation than ”come with me to church.”
  6. Small groups provide the best opportunity for one-anothering.
  7. Small groups can provide a sense of family for many whose biological family lives far away.
  8. I can ask questions in a small group.
  9. Small groups make it possible for more people to be cared for between Sundays
  10. Small groups provide an ever expanding network for communication and impact.




some specific things i’ve love about OUR housegroup this year are:

worship times

our noise level

robust conversations about the hobbit/war/english history + theology of course

its not just about wednesday

philippians with matt chandler

sex makes you stupid with mark gungor

what we believe

dessert nights

movie nights

my name is luka, i like on the 2nd floor

life app nights – oh the questions!!!



**** notes from The Best Housegroup In The World with guest speakers Peet & Estelle


what makes us successful?

the world would say fame, power, money, status, recognition, = wealth

this is a trap from satan – he lies and says that success = money



how does GOD see success? 

godly success is the ratio between talents given and talents used

USE your gifts

follow your dream

bloom where you are planted

make a difference


1 Kings 2:3 – observe what the Lord your God requires: walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.


how do i become successful and what does it look like?

  • salvation – be filled with God
  • contentment
  • ability to handle problems
  • peace
  • wisdom
  • joy
  • eternal life


where your treasure is there your heart is


matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.


the world spells SUCCESS with W.E.A.L.T.H
but God spells SUCCESS with P.E.O.P.L.E


the meaning of life is to find your gift. the purpose of life is to give it away. Pablo Picasso


men of success in the bible:

  • joshua / joshua 1:7-8 ‘Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. : FOCUS ON HIM
  • david / 1 samuel 18:12-14 Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul. So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. : GOD WAS WITH HIM
  • joseph / genesis 39:2-4 The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favour in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. : GOD WAS WITH HIM


whatever the circumstances God can make us prosper, be faithful

live for an audience of One

your name doesnt have to be on a billboard but it does have to be written on the palms of His hands (isaiah 49:16) and in the book of life


would you rather find your success in the world or in The Word?


jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.



if it is so simple – we are we struggling?  why do we feel like failures?

  • pride – we think more of ourselves than we should and try to do things in our own power
  • doubt and unbelief – do we really believe its possible?
  • rejection – self and others, we believe a lie because of hurt
  • unforgiveness – unresolved issues with others that take our joy
  • jealousy – unable to celebrate the success of others
  • unrepented sin – builds a wall between us and God


our mums group have been watching Mark Gungor’s LAUGH YOUR WAY TO A BETTER MARRIAGE – and its brilliant.  it was recommended to me by a counsellor who spoke at our women’s conference this year.  and its so bang on.  so what our group needed.  fantastic resource. 

Mark is a pastor, and a counsellor and hilarious.  He has a way of pushing the envelope to make you think in a good way.  He is very funny and you can so picture yourself, and your marriage, in the context of what he is sharing.  He disarms us with humour but also has this thing about him that is so fatherly and pastoral that when he tells you off, you take it.  His insight into the differences between men and women is, for lack of a better word, insightful.

Our young adults have also been watching his singles series STINKING THINKING.  we watched DATING DO’S AND DON’TS (session #3) and the next session SEX MAKES YOU STUPID.  best nights ever.  mark is very black and white and uses all the right words and is straight up.  love love love it.  love that last night two of the youth leaders got their guys group to watch it.  gives comprehensive reasons to wait until married to be sexually active (in any shape or form!)

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Worship Wednesday

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August 2016
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