More Power to You

Hi friends, David here.

In most traditions, the word Spirit means breath or wind. Our word for Spirit is derived from the Latin – Spiritus, which means breath. For the Greeks, the word Spirit is known as Pneuma, a term which also means breath. The Hebrew word Ruah is synonymous with wind. The Hebrew name for Lord is Yahweh which is derived from the root Hebrew word YHWY, which also means wind or breath. Most times you cant see the wind, but you can see its power.

waves-2291354_960_720

The consistency in these different terms for Spirit is not coincidental. To know the Spirit is to know the breath of God. This breath of God is written about in the New Testament which describes the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost:

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
~ Acts 2:1-2

The Holy Spirit has often been described as a powerful wind. A wind that transforms us, overwhelms us, takes our breath away, yet at the same time gives us our breath.

The power touches me
The power helps us see
The power holds my hand
The power drives me crazy
And it won’t take long to understand
Just how amazed I am
~ Amy Grant

This week, may you come to know afresh the power of the Holy Spirit, the wind that fills your sails and moves you to new horizons. May you be filled with the breath of God and know that He is so close to you, closer than your own breath. May you know this power in your life today.

Grace and peace.

The Power

You caught my breathimage
My life to win
You took my breath
As I pressed in

You fanned the flame
Blew me apart
Like a hurricane
Within my heart

You overwhelm me
My Strong Tower
I am surrounded
Within your power

Breath in me
Fan the fire
Relentless love
Power of my power

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Easter in all its Fullness

Hi everyone. Rob here.

Easter is nearly finished. I wonder if you thought that Easter finished with Christ’s resurrection? No. There was much more to come after that. Last week was Ascension Day when we remember that the risen Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father after 40 days of appearances and teaching with his disciples. This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday when we remember the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, bringing together a new community of people who would proclaim the great truth of the universe: Jesus is Lord.

god-2012104_960_720These two events are the culmination of the work that started at Christmas when “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14).” They tell us that Jesus who lived, died and rose is indeed Christ the King who reigns on high. Pentecost tells us that the Holy Spirit will ensure that the mission of Christ will indeed be accomplished through his body – the church. These two truths give me tremendous hope. No matter what level of global or personal crisis we’re going through Christ is King and his kingdom will come in all its fullness.

The coming of the Spirit also means that we can participate in God’s kingdom now. As people led by the Spirit we are empowered to resist the world’s games of status-seeking, pleasure-seeking and wealth-seeking. We can instead focus on loving and being loved and revealing the kingdom to others. We can rest knowing that Christ is king and his kingdom will come. That security and assurance can give us confidence and hope as we navigate the narrow path that Jesus leads us down.

The full story of Easter – death, resurrection, ascension and Pentecost – tells us that Christ is on the case. It tells us that the ways of this world are not the ways of eternity. Each event of Easter validates the other. As we enter into each one we gain a new assurance. We enter into the cross and gain assurance of God’s mercy and grace. We enter into the resurrection and gain assurance that life wins; that every death there is a rising. We enter into the ascension and gain the assurance of Christ as king, ruler and Lord. He reigns and his way of doing things also reigns. As we enter into Pentecost and our identity as Spirit-led people we gain the assurance that Christ is in the world and making all things new.

May the fullness of Easter speak to you this week. May the fullness of Christ’s revelation and identity fill your heart. May you not just worship him, but follow him. May you not just follow him, but worship him.

Grace and peace.

Posted in Christ, Christianity, easter, God, heart, Holy Spirit, hope, King, kingdom of God, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Stay Still, Look at Me

Hi everyone, David here

J.R.R. Tolkien once said that, “It will never do to leave a live dragon out of your plans if you live near one”.  I’m a big fan of Tolkein and, in particular, The Hobbit.

The Hobbitt is the classic story of the underdog surviving and succeeding against all odds.  It is the story of all of us at one time or another. It is the universal story of overcoming. It is actually the story of the universe.

helix-nebula-11155_960_720

There is a scene in the Hobbit film when Bard the Bowman, the last of the archers, along with his son, stands his ground against Smaug the dragon. Bard knows that there is only one weak spot in the dragon’s armour in the hollow under Smaug’s left breast, which Bilbo had discovered in his conversation with Smaug.

Here’s the video:

Did you notice what Bard said to his son – look at me, look at me. Why is this such a compelling line and such a familiar scene? We’ve heard and seen this story before.

Earlier this week Rob reflected on 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 where Paul writes this:

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Perhaps looking at Jesus and fixing our eyes on him is more about taking our eyes of other things, perhaps bad things, scary things, maybe even dragons.  Perhaps it’s also about turning our back on those things that we have let define us for so long.

Let’s put it another way – there is an old Maori proverb:

Te tiro atu to kanohi ki tairawhiti ana tera whiti te ra kite ataata ka hinga ki muri kia koe

(Turn your face towards the sun and the shadows will fall far behind you).

Essentially it describes a place and time where we can turn our face to the sun and the shadows will fall behind us.  It suggests the time is now.

May you this week turn your back to the shadows, and fix your eyes on Jesus – stay still and look at Him. What do you see? What will this mean for you this week?  Choose one thing and go after it.  May you find what you are looking for.

Grace and peace my friends.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

It’s The Inside That Counts

Hi everyone. Rob here.

In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 the Apostle Paul writes this:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

It resonates with me today because it’s my birthday. The numbers tick over to the next one and it naturally leads to a time of taking stock of my life. So I notice that I didn’t sleep well because of discomfort in my lower back and hips. My hair colour is changing. I’m wondering if I should get my prostate checked. Keeping my weight in check seems to get harder every year. In other words, it’s fairly obvious that outwardly I am wasting away! It’s inevitable. While it’s happening faster than I would like there is a renewal happening inside me that outweighs these external changes. forest-411491_960_720

I notice that I love my wife more than I did, say, 10 years ago. I take criticism less personally and more graciously. My kids like being around me. Some people even think I’m wise. I don’t say this to brag in any way (as I’m also growing in humility!) but simply to acknowledge that by turning my attention to Christ I am being made into a better person. We all are when we do that.

I’m not getting richer or more famous or successful. I’m getting better at loving and being loved. There’s still a way to go but this observation reveals a turning point in my life. It was when I woke up to the fact that I am a beloved son of God. ‘God loves you’ is Christianity 101, but it’s when you’ve come to the end of yourself and you realise how unloveable you really are, that the discovery of the Father’s love shakes you to the very core. You discover you now have a choice; to receive or reject. Choosing to receive, choosing to believe what God thinks of me has transformed my life. It has helped me to die to selfishness and sin, and to come alive to love, joy and peace.

Like the addict in 12-step recovery every day is a struggle to believe and receive truth. God’s love needs to be agreed with and entered into daily if we’re to love in his name. Becoming a better person has meant realising my utter dependence on God’s Spirit if I am to live a truly human life. I need God to help me face up to reality and not hide. Becoming emotionally healthy and relationally mature means being able to deal with conflict, rejection, disappointments and all the stuff we love to be in denial about. It means being courageous enough to send that email or have that conversation. I’m still lacking so much but I know where to turn now.

So on this birthday I rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus my brother is teaching me how to live. I rejoice that God my Father embraces me with unconditional love. I rejoice that God’s Spirit is producing fruit in me and the evidence is love. I long for more. I long to be part of a love revolution that sweeps our land and world. I long for more rich conversations like the ones I had yesterday at a pastor’s gathering. I long to speak into people’s hearts and help them wake up to the Divine love of the Trinity.

I will run in eternity. Today I’ll settle for a free heart.

Grace and peace everyone.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Christ, Father God, God, grace, Holy Spirit, relationships, renewal, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

For Today

Hi everyone. Rob here.

I often turn to the verse of the day on my Bible app in the early morning to help turn my mind and heart towards God and his kingdom. Yesterdays verse was particularly striking. Here it is from Psalm 118:24.

The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.dawn-1846753_960_720

It struck me because so often we talk and think about God’s work, and particularly the work of Christ, in an historical sense. Sub-consciously this can create a distance between us, the work of Christ and the effect of the work of Christ. The Psalm talks about deliverance and reversal. In a moment of prophetic clarity the Psalm says this:

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone (Psalm 118:22).

Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of history and of our lives. His work of winning our freedom from sin and death is something for us to enter into this day. Today we take our place in Christ and in the full work of Christ. All that was won for us at the cross, the resurrection and ascension is available to us today. But what does this mean in a practical sense?

First it means that you are free to believe what God thinks of you. You are a son or daughter of the Father; a friend and follower of Christ; a temple of the Holy Spirit and so much more. Second it means that sin is no longer your master. Sin is the stuff that mars the image of God in you. It dehumanizes. It takes you away from loving God and others. It dulls your desire and ability to hear the Spirit and to follow Christ. But sin is not you. This very day can be a day to come out of sins slavery and into the freedom of God that Christ has made accessible for us through his full work. Third it means that divine love can fill your life to overflowing. Love can be what defines you as a person. It means that you’ve opened your heart to God’s love for you and allowed that love to change how you see and treat people. Fourth and finally, it means that we are covered with grace so that when we know we’re struggling to live out the first three we can come to God freely, humbly and ask for the help we need. We fear no judgment or condemnation. We are free from shame and the enemy’s lies that seek to diminish or disqualify us.

The Lord has done it this very day. He has given us these gifts, this standing, this dignity and this love today. The enemy is defeated in him and by him today. Sin is powerless in his wake today. So let’s take our place in Christ. Let’s wake up to his reality. Let’s renew our citizenship in his kingdom. Today may involve dying and rising; confession and renewal; humbling and honouring, but it is all covered by divine love revealed in the full work of Christ. In him we stand and by him we live. Today.

Grace and peace everyone.

 

 

Posted in Christ, Christianity, faith, God, humanity, life, love, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Seasonal Invitations

Hi everyone, Rob here.

The ground is now covered in leaves. Mornings are cold and the sun struggles to make it through my office windows. The days are short, health is more fragile and energy is lower. The animal kingdom understands all this. Many mammals will hibernate. Birds will migrate to warmer climes. People however, tend to carry on with their busy lives. My job is busier in winter than it is in summer. I take on extra things like soccer coaching or teaching seminars. Why do we do this? Is it madness? Where is God in the midst of this? What’s his invitation?forest-1950402_960_720

First of all, it’s not all bad. It makes sense for us to holiday in summer and have a lot of activities while everybody is around in autumn, winter and spring. To sustain this though, means adjusting our rhythm of life. It’s hard to sustain the early mornings when it’s cold and dark. Bedtimes need to be earlier as our bodies do respond to the shorter days.

The balancing act is being aware of declining energy levels but not giving into them unnecessarily. Otherwise we face the possibility of missing out on the things that are good for us. It’s easier to sit in front of the TV with a hot chocolate than go out to home group or a date with your spouse or dinner with friends, but it’s seldom better for our soul. The ‘winter blues’ can strike us when we allow this drop in energy to take us away from our relational needs.

Another way to put this is to say that winter is a time to focus on spiritual essentials (what is essential to your spirit), and to let go of many non-essentials. So in summer we like to host barbecues, but in winter we do far less of this kind of hosting. In summer I do a lot of connecting with God through his creation. In winter this happens but less often. I tend to read more and journal more. My connection with the kids is centred less around outdoor activities and more around board games, movies and books.

The big change I’ve made is to implement a proper Sabbath of around 24 hours from sometime after church to Monday lunch. It involves relaxed time with family and time for my own heart on Monday. It’s not an easy discipline but I can already see that it’s slowing me down and helping me be more attentive to God, my own heart and others.

The invitation I am responding to is to slow down and pay attention even as I give out more. It is to be attentive to what my body is telling me, but also to become more aware of what my heart needs for life. It is to invest in my precious relationships, especially my relationship with Father, Son and Spirit. It is to continue to die to the old even as the trees become bare, knowing that new life will come in the right season. No matter what season you’re in may you know God’s invitation to you in it.

Grace and peace.

 

Posted in Christ, Christianity, invitation, relationships, renewal, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Processing Injustice

Hi everyone. Rob here.

Last week I watched a documentary about how the 2008 Global Financial Crisis came about. It was a story of greed, manipulation, foolishness, selfishness, ignorance and more. It left me with a dirty taste in my mouth and a simmering anger at the casual evil that pervades our world. It also left me somewhat cynical and untrusting, and fearful that my retirement investments are being used to perpetuate an oppressive system that rewards the rich and punishes the poor. While it is healthy to have our eyes opened to injustice, it is unhealthy to allow the anger to turn into resentment and cynicism. As my old pastor used to ask, what to do? How do we guard our heart in moments like that?

bison-european-2118538_960_720The easy answer is to say, “come back to God.” Some might suggest leaving your brain at the door and simply worship. I don’t subscribe to that. I believe in bring your whole self into God’s presence, including the anger, resentment and cynicism. I’m unable to swing from raging against the machine to raising my hands in praise in one easy movement. My heart needs a different path.

To turn to God in these moments is to deny the world and the enemy the victory. We also turn to God, not to forget the injustice, but to surrender ourselves to the One who is true justice, lest we go off and fight a battle in our own strength or that may not be ours to fight. It also guards us against feeling powerless. When we bring ourselves and the issues before God we are indeed acting powerfully.

So the first thing I do is to name what angers me. For example, in the documentary I was angry at how the powerful exploit the powerless for their own gain without a second thought. I bring that before God and ask if it aligns with God’s anger. God too gets angry. The prophets reveal God’s wrath over the same issue. We’re in alignment. I then ask God to examine me. Am I part of the problem or part of the disease as Coldplay once sang. There are things to work on. There are investments to check, spending habits to amend and attitudes to open up to God’s Spirit. Then I sit in stillness for a bit. But I need more. The cynicism lingers and so I need beauty.

It was as I walked by the river that runs through our city, seeing the sun’s rays bouncing off the water, noticing the birds and the trees, that the utter faith in the sovereignty and goodness of God returned. I found a book full of stories of hope and I’m reminded that the kingdom comes through yeast and mustard seeds. I find myself reflecting on John 1:3.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

And then this one came to mind:

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33)

After this process I feel informed about evil, but not cynical. I am still angry at the injustice but I have let go of resentment. I feel empowered to play the part that God has asked me to play and to let go of the rest. I have been led back to worship, trust and surrender. I find this is the process that God leads me on for more personal injustices as well, such as when people speak ill of me or I’ve been exploited in some way. God is our safe space, our friend, our redeemer and rescuer. He does lead us to still waters. He does light our path.

May you know God’s heart for justice, but also know his peace and his love this week.

Posted in beauty, Christ, God, hope, restoration, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment