Freedom’s Paradox

Hi everyone. Rob here.

In most western countries there is a debate going on about what it means to be free. In Aotearoa/New Zealand that debate has been been reignited by the most recent Covid-19 restrictions and the promise from the government that it will only be those with vaccine certificates that will be able to access greater freedoms in the future. In other words, if you choose not to be vaccinated you are choosing a restricted life. In exercising your freedom to reject vaccination you will lose your freedom to play a full part in our ongoing community life. Freedom and limits aren’t enemies. They are partners but they need to understand each others role.

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The Bible has a lot to say about freedom. Right from the start in Genesis we read a story that sees Adam and Eve be given the run of a beautiful garden, with one limitation – do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The invitation was to accept the limitation and enjoy a life of freedom and joy. They couldn’t do it. The serpent played on the idea that the limitation was a barrier to freedom rather than a pathway. As the story unfolds we see that by rejecting the limitation Adam and Eve lost the ability to live a truly free life. They were no longer “naked and without shame.”

The parallel with vaccines is clear. If you reject the vaccine your life will be less free. If you accept it then it acts as a pathway to freedom. The more people that accept it the greater collective freedom there will be and the greater sense of community also. Some people will see that as the Government taking away their freedoms. But actually the reverse if true. In an unvaccinated world, with Covid-19 widespread, then restrictions are the norm. If you choose to remain unvaccinated then that is the life you choose. Get vaccinated then you get gifted freedoms that don’t exist in an unvaccinated world. You also receive the gift of knowing that you have helped to protect the vulnerable. I can’t think of anything more Biblical than that.

As Christians we live in the paradox of freedom all the time. Our pathway to freedom begins with surrender and is exercised by service. We start at the cross where Jesus surrendered all his rights as Son of God and Son of Man and submitted to the Roman authorities and their modus operandi of humiliating violence. He surrendered those rights because dying in humiliation was the greatest act of service that he could give to us. By putting sin, shame and ego to death on that cross he made a pathway for us to be free from sin’s curse and the lies of shame and ego. Freedom is when we are longer slaves to sin and self. Paul puts it like this in Galatians 5:13

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Getting vaccinated is an act of love as well as a pathway to freedom. We are always being asked to use our freedom in Christ by acting in love towards our fellow human beings. We are called to be free but freedom serves, freedom gives, freedom loves in the name of Jesus Christ for the sake of his children and his kingdom. And freedom always begins with surrender. In the words of U2,

If you want to kiss the sky, you better learn how to kneel – Mysterious Ways

Grace and peace everyone.

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Love In A Time Of Delta

Hi everyone. Rob here.

We are entering a precarious time in New Zealand as the Delta variant of Covid-19 slowly but surely leaks out of Auckland and spreads through the country. In the meantime the pressure is on to get as many people in the country vaccinated as possible. The government is being bombarded by voices calling out for more freedoms and other voices wanting everything to remain closed. The opposition tells them the things they should have done and businesses, especially in tourism and hospitality, beg the government for lifelines. In the meantime the rest of us are starting to show signs of malaise as the grind of lockdowns and constant disruption take their toll. How do we bring our hearts to God at this time? How do we bear the fruits of the Spirit when our spirits are struggling?

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First of all, let’s not pretend that this is a good time. We’ve had to say goodbye to many of the things that brought us joy, like travel and dinners out, change the way we work which can make us feel less effective and experience days that all look the same, all while the enemy called Covid bangs on the door. It’s not a good time. Let’s name that as true.

Second, let’s bring it all back to first principles. We are loved by God, one with Christ and sustained by the Spirit. We are alive, and while each day has enough trouble on its own, each day also has the promise of God’s love coming through for us. The hard thing when you’re in a state of malaise is to begin the day in hopeful expectation that divine love is coming though for you. But that is the invitation. May the eyes of our hearts be opened so that we can see and receive God’s love coming for us right through the day. May we see it in the sunrise and/or sunset, in the affection of our children, our spouse, our dog! May we taste it in good food and clean water. May we feel it under a hot shower, the suns rays and a shady tree. May the daily provisions that God gives us reach into our tired, weary hearts and bring us to life.

Third, let’s exercise a bigger faith and remember that Jesus is coming again and will make all things new. Our malaise is not the final chapter. It’s a necessary wrestling we have to go through right now but the truer reality is that the kingdom has come and is coming. Even now in the midst of global upheaval the wheat and the weeds grow and Jesus’ coming is closer than ever. As we fix our eyes on that future hope it helps us to open our eyes to where Jesus is coming for us and the world right now. Ánd remember, we see the kingdom in the mustard seeds and the yeast, not the headlines. All around us we see kindness being exercised, sacrifices being made and courage being practiced, all for the sake of others. May our eyes be opened to these signs of the kingdom all around us.

On a sober note, many of those headlines have belonged to the church this last week. An anti-lockdown rally, vaccine skepticism, unhelpful comments and more have flowed from the pulpits meant to be used for proclaiming good news. The kingdom is not found in those headlines either. The truly Christian work being done is when we love our neighbour. Getting vaccinated is loving our neighbour, wearing a mask is loving our neighbour, sticking to lockdown rules is loving our neighbour and letting them know they are loved is loving our neighbour.

Mat God’s love shake you out of any malaise you may feel this week. As you receive that love may it spread to your neighbours and, in that way, God’s love will truly see us through. Grace and peace everyone.

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Play What’s in Front of You

Hi everyone Rob here.

So once again we find ourselves in a level 4 lockdown as the Delta variant of Covid-19 tries to get its tentacles into Aotearoa/New Zealand. It’s an uncertain time and with uncertainty there comes the almost irresistible temptation to speculate about the future, about what may have gone wrong in the past and about what the authorities and others should be doing in the present.

Speculation can help you get in touch with your worries and gears, help you get a few things off your chest and help you feel like things aren’t totally out of control. However, speculation can also make you judgmental, fearful and fear-mongering, and, most seriously, out of touch with reality. Speculation becomes dangerous when we claim certainty for our theories and beliefs when no such certainty is possible. No one in the general populace knows enough facts to be certain about much when it comes to this virus and how it will play out.

Instead of speculation I suggest that we adopt a lesson from video games and the All Blacks! My teenage son enjoys a game on his phone called Brawl Stars. I know nothing about the game except that it involves being responsive to the situations unfolding before you. In the same way the All Blacks, our national rugby team, have a saying:

Play what’s in front of you.

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This doesn’t mean they don’t have plans or set moves. They most certainly do and they work hard to do those to a high standard. It does mean that if and when those plans are foiled or upset in any way, they don’t panic, and they back themselves to deal with the new reality in front of them. Their training then involves an emphasis on skill, spatial awareness, support play and speed of thought and movement. So what does this have to do with the life of the heart?

Jesus tells us this in Matthew 6:31-34

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

This is the spiritual equivalent of ‘play what’s in front of you.” You can make your plans to provide for your security but those plans can come unstuck very quickly. On our fridge are a number of invites to kids birthday parties. Those plans are now over because of our lockdown measures. It took one day for those plans to come unstuck. Work plans, holiday plans, renovation plans and more have all changed now. They may simply be delayed or they may have to be abandoned altogether. All we really know is today. All we know is what’s immediately in front of us. This requires a different set of skills.

Long-term plans now have to give way to moment by moment trust. In an uncertain world the only way to move forward is to stay close to the shepherd, to follow your rabbi and give yourself over to Jesus your older brother and Lord. “What do you have for me right now Jesus” is a great prayer to pray in lockdown. It at once helps you to be present to the moment and attentive to Jesus. That’s a win-win situation. So for today I have been maths teacher, I have walked with my wife, donned the work hat as I checked emails and sought to do it at a pace that allows me to be attentive to the need in front of me. I need God’s help for that, especially as this lockdown has carried a lot more uncertainty than the one last year.

I pray that God will give you the skills needed to play what’s in front of you and that as you let go of plans you will let God guide you through the day, moment by moment. May he give you grace and peace as you seek him.

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The Losses are Real

Hi everyone. Rob here.

You may have noticed that it’s been a while between blogs. I’ve recently started a new job at a community centre which is good news. It does mean that I now have less time and less energy as I juggle two part-time jobs. It’s yet another time of transition for me, and to a lesser extent, my family.

It reminds me once again of these words from John Eldredge,

All change is first experienced as loss.”

One of the only consistent things in our life is change. We are in constant transition as we change and grow and as the world and others change around us too. This means that we are also constantly dealing with loss in our lives. What have we done with the losses? Have we grieved well? Have we grieved at all or just carried on without realising the build-up of pain in our hearts and minds?

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My grief at this time is small but it is real. I am grieving the loss of time. I love the feeling of having time on my hands and hate the feeling of being rushed or running out of time. To avoid being resentful about my new reality I need to name the loss and take time to grieve it in the presence of God and his love. I invite the Spirit of comfort to bring his love to me. But the Spirit is also the one to bring clarity and a new perspective. By naming the grief I can also die to it and be ready for a new way of being and doing. I know that I have enough time, but my perception of that isn’t clear yet. I need God’s eyes to see but if I’m caught up in resentment about my loss I will never see.

Like I say this is a minor issue and the fact that I have the time to write this blog means that I’m already starting to see differently and am adjusting to my new reality. What strikes me though is that all of us are going through the change/loss experience to some degree or another at any given time. It is particularly acute in this time of Covid-19. I have just spent the weekend leading a retreat with young foreign-born church leaders who haven’t seen their families for two years. It’s a tough time and loss is the reality for us all.

That then becomes an invitation for us to look at all people, including ourselves, with compassion. Life is hard, often brutal. Jesus knew this. This is why he said in Matthew 6:34:

“Each day has enough trouble on its own.”

And in John 16:33,

In this world you will have trouble.”

Bring your trouble to Jesus. He has overcome the world and when he seek his kingdom we will find all that we need. He will bring us comfort and healing for our losses and pain. He will show us a pathway in which to navigate the constant change of our lives. He will give us an anchor of hope, a river of life and a heart full of love. But in order to bring our trouble to Jesus we need to stop striving to fix it ourselves. You see, we may be able to fix some problems and make a way for ourselves but we won’t adequately deal with the losses. We can’t give ourselves the comfort, healing, love and hope that we need to move through the losses that constant change brings us. For that we need Jesus. We need the one who moved through the cross into resurrection life. Death to life. That is the gift Jesus gives us.

May you grieve well this week and as you bring your losses to Jesus may you experience his life-giving grace and love.

Shalom my friends.

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I’m sitting here thinking about these words that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees recorded in Matthew 23:25-26:

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.

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We put in an enormous effort into cleaning the outside of the cup. What I mean by this is that our energy is largely spent on trying to get the external aspects of our life right. We want a good job, good relationship, healthy finances, nice home and more. Of course we do! All of those things serve to make life happier and more comfortable. The problem comes when it doesn’t work. We so often find that external solutions can’t fix internal problems. We see this in the bible also.

-Being tall, talented and terrific didn’t stop Saul from becoming a bad king

-The building of the temple didn’t stop Israel’s issues with idolatry.

-Being a prophet didn’t stop Jonah from being angry with God for being too merciful

-Statements of repentance didn’t stop the Babylonians invading Israel and the temple being destroyed

-Peter’s statements of faith didn’t stop him denying Jesus when the pressure came on.

-The spiritual gifts of the Corinthian church didn’t stop them becoming spiritually corrupt

For the Pharisees they didn’t want to be ‘Godly’ as much as they wanted to be seen being ‘Godly.’ Their actions were more about reputation and status than they were about knowing God and making him known. The reality is that we all have mixed motives. Our ego gets in the way often but there’s a deeper motive that’s also at work. This is the motive that stems from us being made in the image of God and of having eternity set in our hearts. This means that the only way to live from our deeper motives is to continually bring our egos to the cross of Christ and die to them there. Dying and rising is not a once and for all event. It is a rhythm of life, an ongoing process and a never-ending prayer.

We see this at work in another story Jesus told in Luke 18:9-14:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

1“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Our prayers often involves asking for external factors to change. This parable is an invitation for our prayers to also involves asking for our hearts, minds and motivations to change. It is to humbly accept that we need God’s mercy all the time. We are asked to die to the pride that causes us to look down on others even as we think of ourselves as righteous in doing so. We are then asked to come alive to the humble life of complete and utter dependence on the life of God in us. May we do so patiently, graciously, kindly, lovingly and hopefully.

Grace and peace.

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Hello everyone. Rob here.

We’re getting some renovations done on our house. For years we have struggled with it being too small in parts, too cold in parts and it not quite working for how we actually live our lives. The renovations will make the house larger but also more efficient and functional. By signing up we will be making our lives more complicated for a short time in order to simplify our lives in the long run. We will spend an uncomfortable amount of money now so that our house can hold its value for longer and save us money in the longer term. It’s a metaphor for life. So often life feels like it’s taking more from us than we can afford to give. Yet, faith asks us to believe that God is in the uncomfortable and the messy and making something that’s beautiful, durable and functional. I love the image presented in the book, The Shack, of the Holy Spirit joyfully weaving messy strands into a glorious tapestry. A song lyric that resonates with me is this one from the Casting Crowns song, Just Be Held;

Your world’s not falling apart

It’s falling into place

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In the spiritual life dying always precedes rising. Dying is a messy business. When you think about how deeply attached we are to our way of doing things then you can start to see why. To start dying to the old, the old has to stop working for us. It gets in the way. I remember a time when my way of living in the world was stopping our marriage from working well. Something had to change. Perfection was not achieved, nor was it the goal, but I died to the old and came alive to a new way of being. It wasn’t a one-off. Dying and rising is how we live when we follow Jesus.

Don’t you want your anger to die? Your fear, stress and anxiety? Your tendency to hide when things get hard? Or, conversely, your desire to control everything and everyone around you? What about your self-righteousness, your self-preservation or your selfishness generally? I’m sure you can name the things you want to get rid of in your life fairly easily. What makes it hard is that we don’t know or can’t imagine what the new looks like. We know how to live with the old.

In our renovations we have handed control to an outside company. They came back with a plan that we would never have thought of if left to our own devices. They were experts and knew better than we did. We will now partner together to bring it to fruition. So it is with our life in God. He knows better. He has a better plan than anything you can imagine. You need to give him free rein so he can truly reign in you. Your life may not make much sense for a while but, trust me on this, the tapestry is being woven, the building is being constructed and the garden is coming to life. God is at work already in you. It works better when our ego is not in his way! Remember Romans 6:10-11,

When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did. (The Message)

Your life’s not falling apart. It’s falling into place. So die to sin and ego. Come alive to God and his Spirit and his wonderful tapestry that is your life in him.

Grace and peace.

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Jesus Made a Path

Hi everyone. Rob here.

If there’s one story that reveals how different Jesus was to the world he entered it’s this one recorded in Mark 9:33-35.

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

3Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’

It was perfectly normal for 1st century Jewish men to be arguing about their status. Status was currency. Every man wanted more status. Status was also a finite commodity. If you gained it then it was the expense of someone else. Hence, you see various authority figures try to take Jesus down a peg or two. They never succeeded and had to resort to sending him to a cross in order to bring him the shame they wanted him to experience. They saw his demonstrations of true authority as undermining their status. They were right but they also never realised that in the loss of status was an invitation to walk the humble path and allow God to be truly Lord and King of their lives.

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Jesus calls out the disciples because the kingdom of God is not built on human status or reputation. It’s built through people who have truly handed their lives over to God. When we become people who have truly made God king over our lives we have surrendered our own desire to be king. God’s kingdom doesn’t grow through our attempts to take the throne. It grows when we lay our crowns down at the foot of the cross and the crucified king, Jesus.

The ironic thing is that God has given us a desire to rule and he’s done it for a reason. He wants us to be rulers in his kingdom. This was the original mandate for humanity and it’s a mandate returned to us after the renewal of all things (see Revelation 22:5). Of course, we can’t be rulers on behalf of God in his kingdom if we’re trying to be rulers against God by building our own. Our desire to rule can only be fulfilled if we have acknowledged the true Ruler, the true Kingdom and bowed the knee in response.

As followers of Jesus then, we start to exercise our God-given mandate of rule now because we belong to God’s kingdom now. We do it by walking the humble path and surrendering our lives over to God every day. We do it by acknowledging our desperate need for Jesus and the life of the Spirit in us every day. I know that God’s kingdom is also built through divine love. I need God’s help to receive God’s love, rest in God’s love and radiate God’s love.




I can’t do that if I’m status seeking or reputation building. I can only do it by bowing my knee and opening my heart to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

While I’ve always tried to practice a life lived without ego the fact is that being a pastor brought with it an element of status and self-importance. It has been good to let that go and rediscover the humble path where Jesus meets us, walks with us and guides us. You see, it’s his path. He created it and he welcomes those who walk it. Choosing to walk it is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment choice that the Spirit helps us make. I would like to make that choice more and I’d love to walk with you on it.

Grace and peace.

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Hi everyone. Rob here.

One of the most powerful words we can be using right now is this: Enough. So often we don’t feel that we have enough…

Enough time

Enough money

Enough ability

Enough intelligence

Enough strength (emotional, mental, physical, spiritual)

And so and so on. This feeling of ‘not enough’ is what we call deficit thinking. We all know it far too well. It often leads to people thinking that what’s needed is abundance. An abundance of time, money, ability etc. The pursuit of abundance in turn becomes very difficult and only serves to reinforce deficit thinking. That’s why there are so many people who live in abundance who still feel like they never have enough. Rich people feel poor, intelligent people feel stupid and strong people feel weak.

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Enough isn’t about what you have as much as it’s about what you perceive. With ‘abundance’ you always try to get more but with ‘enough’ you wake up and realise that you already have it. Enough is related to need, but abundance is related to want. We have enough to do what we need to do, and be who we need to be, but it doesn’t help us tick off a wishlist that isn’t based on reality. If we find we don’t have enough maybe it’s because we haven’t based our life on reality.

Paul wrote this in Philippians 4:12

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Paul is writing this in prison and, even there, he discovered that he always had enough.

We have enough because we are in Christ and in Christ there is always enough. In Christ the 5000 can get fed. In Christ the disciples, so hopeless much of the time, can heal people and tell demons where to go. In Christ a prisoner, like Paul, can feel free and those who are weak can be strong. In Christ we remember that we are worth more than many sparrows and the Father feeds the sparrows.

So to gain the perspective of ‘enough’ we have to focus on the reality of ‘in Christ.’ When we remember who we are we discover what we have. We also have to remember that we have enough for ‘right here, right now.’ In Christ we have enough and we are enough for this moment and this place, right now. Now is reality. Now is all that we have and now is eternal when Christ is present. Here is where the kingdom of God is because you are an ambassador of Christ.

So today we can put aside the worry we have for the future. We can bring our deficit thinking to the cross. We can die to our desire for abundance. We can remember that we are in Christ and Christ is in us. In Christ there is enough and in Christ the kingdom of God is present. Right here, right now God is with us, we are his children and as his children, we have enough. Therefore, we, like Paul in his prison cell, can be content.

Grace and peace everyone.

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Big and Small

Hi everyone. Rob here.

I have noticed two things about my faith in Jesus that help me in everyday life. One is that it connects me to a bigger story, the kingdom of God. My faith tells me that I am an ambassador for Christ, a child of God and a citizen of God’s kingdom. I am loved and have a vital role to play in God’s unfolding story on this earth. In turn, that gives me a life of optimistic hope even as life’s circumstances try to testify otherwise. The second thing is that my faith tells me that there is much in life that I don’t need to worry about because I’m not in charge. This helps make my world smaller and more manageable. The things that I’m not in charge of I can give over to the Truly Sovereign One and focus on what I’m responsible for. Faith connects me to a bigger story but it also puts my life into perspective. I belong to God’s kingdom but I’m not responsible for that kingdom. I have responsibilities but I’m not the centre of the story. As I continue to learn how to die to self it is having the effect of building resilience because I have a clearer perspective.

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This is a work in progress so there are still days when I worry too much, get self-obsessed and put my story at the centre. But, increasingly, there are more days when I am surrendered and content.

Paul writes this in Philippians 4:12-13:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Paul is in prison and is writing his most hopeful letter. His external world has shrunk to the size of a prison cell but his sense of being part of something greater has grown. In the previous chapter he wrote this:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him… (Philippians 3:7-9)

Knowing Christ and being found in Christ is what gives us true perspective because he gives us his perspective. He is our blueprint, our forerunner, our ultimate example and by dying with him we become people who rise with him too. We are co-heirs with Christ as Paul reminds us in Romans 6:16-17. His kingdom is our kingdom and as we pay attention to his earthly life we see that he never took on board anything that wasn’t his to take on. He was generous, open-hearted, tender and kind but he also had boundaries, a specific mission and clear discernment about what belonged to God and what did not.

We are to live in the same Spirit; asking God for wisdom about what belongs to us and what does not. Asking the Spirit within us to remind us of the big story that we participate in and our specific role in it. There are battles that aren’t yours to fight, dramas that aren’t your concern and missions that aren’t for you to join. What there is is an invitation to walk with God as friends of Jesus in the power of the Spirit. You will be shown where to go, what to do and, most of all, we will grow in loving intimacy with God.

May we give ourselves to God’s love, God’s mission and God’s kingdom this week. may you know the big story of which you are a part and the relatively small, but beautiful and vital, role you have to play in it.

Grace and peace.

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My Peace I Give You

Hi everyone. Rob here.

Like many of you I have watched with growing concern the escalation of violence in the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Having visited there 18 months ago the concern is more personal. I can see the faces of Palestinian friends in Bethlehem, the bike tour guide who shared his hope for peace with me in Tel Aviv, the cafe worker in the West Bank who just wanted to travel and the tour guides who knew life in both East and West Jerusalem. Many of the places I visited are now filled with protest and discord. Hope for peace is fading, but it must not be allowed to die. Peace is the only way forward.

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Violence is doing harm to all in this current conflict. There are never any winners when violence is the dominant voice. That’s because the saying, “The means justify the ends” is a lie. The truth is that the means become the ends. Violence begets more violence. Just as lies beget more lies, apathy begets apathy and so on. But the fact that the means becomes the ends also has a positive side. Truth begets truth, kindness begets kindness and love begets love. This is why Jesus tells us that the two greatest commandments are…

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself.

We need to create a new cycle of love. However, we can only give what we have received. This is why the victims of violence so often become the perpetrators of violence. But again, the opposite is also true. The recipients of peace can become the givers of peace. Those who receive love, give love.

In John 14:27 Jesus says this to his disciples:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

We are given the love of Jesus, the peace of Jesus, the joy of Jesus and the life of Jesus. We are invited, through the Spirit, to take these things to heart. As we take our place as sons and daughters of the Father we can then see ourselves as brothers and sisters of the King, Jesus. We discover the honoured and valuable place we have in the heart of God and in his kingdom. As we take our place the Spirit comes to us and affirms to us that it is true, that we are loved and that we are empowered to live the life that the sons and daughters of God are intended to live.

In this latest conflict the only side I take is the side of Jesus who invites all people, Palestinian and Israeli, into his peace. He invites us all to meet him at his cross and lay down their arms at the feet of the Crucified One. He invites us all to see the image of God in one another as we give our lives to the New Adam. God’s kingdom is one that blesses the peacemakers, rewards the humble, honours those who pursue justice and who show the world how to love in the name of Jesus. This is about more than war and violence. It’s about grudges, bitterness, resentment, hatred, prejudices and any kind of dehumanising thought we have toward others. This is about all of us learning to become more human as we give our lives to the True Human, Jesus.

James 3:17-18 says,

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

May you be blessed as you receive the peace of Jesus this week. May his shalom be yours.

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