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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 »

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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

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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

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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!

 

JANUARY:

i preached: How To Live When The Wheels Fall Off

read:  What Did You Expect?

saw: Les Miserables

 

FEBRUARY:

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 

 

MARCH:

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!)

Read the rest of this entry »

Passionate people…

pursue God

worship

pray

take daring steps of faith

humble themselves

walk with people in life

learn

know their Word

are filled with the Holy Spirit

serve

lead

 

 

what would you add to the list?

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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.

from PASTORS.COM

 

 

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!!!

unglued

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**** 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

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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!)

Read the rest of this entry »

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Now the universe is built on laws. Men of science throughout history have known that everything in our universe is under the reign of law. The entire world of physical science is dominated by laws. Whether you’re talking about everything from astronomy and agronomy and biology and botany clear to the end of the alphabet and zoology, all of those areas of study are absolutely predictable, because the universe is built on absolute physical laws.

If you are driving down a road at 100km hr and get to a corner that says 45km hour – chances are pretty high that you’re going end up getting hurt because the law of physics is in operation. Even if you have a Christian radio station on. And a Christian bumper sticker. The laws of physics apply to you regardless of your salvation status.

I the same way the laws of life and living apply to us.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:7-9

 

Direction determines destination. Every time.

We have to connect the dots between the choices they make and the outcomes they experience.

Are there discrepancies between what you desire in your heart and what you are doing with your life?

Direction is everything.  Direction determines destination.  That is why we cannot afford to live disconnected lives. When we discover those subtle and sometimes not so subtle discrepancies between intent and lifestyle we should stop and pay attention. 

We should break the habit of drawing a circle around individual decisions and events and dismissing them as isolated occurrences.  These are steps.  Steps that lead somewhere.  Because life is connected.

The principal of the path is operating in your life every minute of every day.  You are currently on a financial path of some kind, you are on a relational path, you are continuing down a moral and ethical path.  And each of these paths has a destination.  My hope is that by becoming aware of this powerful principal you will have the wisdom to know which path to choose and the courage to stay the course.

The challenging aspect about picking the right paths is that the choices are NOW.  The outcomes are LATER.  The decisions you make today have ramifications down the road.

Andy Stanley

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

 

In what ways should we acknowledging God?

What does that look like in real life?

What does it look like to NOT acknowledge God?

What is the consequence of acknowledging God?

How can we connect the dots between where we are today and where we are going tomorrow?

 

Define Vision:

Vision means: “a clear sense of purpose regarding what God wants to do through your life”

How does vision affect your life?

What does the bible say about having vision?

How do we get vision and purpose?

What is one thing you can do this week to step towards that?

 

Are we exchanging a bowl of stew for things of eternal worth – like esau? (Genesis 25)

 

Behavioural therapists and others who study human behaviour will tell you there’s only one difference between those who succeed and those who don’t. “It’s all about their habits,” they say.

1. They reveal what you value least—and most.

2. They reveal where you spend your time.

3. They reveal the state of your mental health.

4. They reveal the state of your spiritual health.

5. They reveal the state of your physical health.

 

1. They reveal what you value least—and most.

A habit as simple as arriving late or constantly procrastinating can show what you rank at the bottom of your scale of priorities—and also what you rank at the top. What do you hold as important and unimportant in this life? Just take a look at your habits. They will speak for themselves—and most likely, they will speak to others as well.

If you have a habit of working hard, helping others or always being on time to work, it shows that you see a great deal of value in your future, your character and your work ethic. Likewise, if you are perpetually late, interrupt times with friends because you always answer your phone or commit initially only to back out late, it will be clear to the people around you what comes first in your life—and what doesn’t.

2. They reveal where you spend your time.

Habits don’t just happen overnight. If a habit takes 30 days to form, then those 30 days will tell you a lot about your commitments. Are you cutting down on your Starbucks habit so that you can read Scripture in the morning before work? Or are you routinely hitting snooze and falling off your exercise program 10 days in? We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and have to make choices about we’re using our time. We make trade-offs based on what we deem most important at the time—for better or for worse.

3. They reveal the state of your mental health.

OUR HABITS ARE SHAPED BY EITHER A SELF-DISCIPLINED WILL, OR A POWERFUL FELT NEED—AND THE LATTER CAN OFTEN PULL US INTO HABITUAL SIN.

Some habits are internal, more than external. They live in our thought processes, our attitudes and our outlook. And if these mental habits go unchecked, it can cause us to live in a state of mental compression because our habits are living our lives for us. But the truth is, mental health is the beginning of all habitual health problems. If a habit, such as envy, lust, comparison, discontent, takes root in your mind, that mental habit is eventually going to be given the reins to the rest of your health if not taken care of.

4. They reveal the state of your spiritual health.

Your habits play a massive role in your sinful nature. Our habits are shaped by either a self-disciplined will, or a powerful felt need—and the latter can often pull us into habitual sin. If you really think about it, most sin is derived from a habit that has been formed over an extensive period of time, and then exposes itself when that habit yearns to be activated. On the other hand, forming habits of prayer and worship can also create virtuous habits that can counteract the destructive pull toward sin.

5. They reveal the state of your physical health.

We’re a society of busy people—and there’s a multitude of fast food, drive-thru options just for our convenience.

Look at your food and exercise habits: do you make late-night taco runs, put off your gym membership renewal, lounge around playing video games all weekend? Or do you make it a point to work out three times a week, floss your teeth daily, fill your cart with produce? Your habits will tell you a thing or two about your physical health.

It’s easy to go about our days as usual—with our habits and routines fixed in place without a thought. But if we do evaluate our default patterns, we might learn what we’re doing well and where we have room for improvement. And in 30 days, we might even be able to turn ourselves around.

 

 

What habits and behaviours are you trying to establish or change?

What attitudes do we need to have?

How do you determine / classify if you have a good attitude or wrong attitude? What is the bench mark? How do we find out?

 

 

How do we CHANGE our attitudes?

  1. Romans 12:2 RENEW YOUR MIND

– read the Word of God, read His promises

– act on the Word of God – resist own thoughts/attitudes and CHANGE the way you think and behave

– Neurological Change happens when we renew our mind – we make new neuro pathways

  1. Get a big person who can see a bigger perspective – meet with a mentor – be honest about attitudes and things and allow them to speak into your life

 

 

How do you define and weigh success and failure, right or wrong, desirable or undesirable, in any particular situation?

Are you satisfied with where you are now?

What do you think some of the obstacles to getting to the destination?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPW3EB5U0bo

 

**** notes from the best housegroup in the world last night

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” John 11:1-7

So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,  and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”  John 11:14-15

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:38-44

 

 

Whenever I read the bible I as myself 2 things : what does this show me about God and what does it show me about me?

 

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