Life in Slow Motion

Hi everyone. Rob here.

One of our dog’s favourite activities is pretending to herd sheep. I heard that sheep dogs see sheep in a completely different way to us. Namely they have a wider scope of vision and see the sheep’s movements in slow motion – from our point of view anyway. Thus, they can anticipate the sheep’s movements and stop them before they cause trouble. For a good movie example of this see the scenes with Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past, where time seems to stand still because of his relative speed.prairie-679014_960_720

This gets me thinking about the basis on which we make our choices. Often, it seems, life is going too fast. We feel rushed in our decisions and pushed along at a pace that’s not of our choosing. Whether it’s at work or at home, making decisions in real time seems like a somewhat frantic business. But what if it could be different? What if we were able to gain God’s viewpoint on our life? God has a much wider scope of vision than we do. If we were able to see things from an eternal point of view, would that mean we would see things in slow-motion and respond accordingly?

One of the things you notice with Jesus is that he has a very different view of what’s urgent and what’s not compared to the other disciples. When Jairus’ daughter was gravely ill he allowed himself to be distracted looking for the woman who touched his cloak and received healing. In the meantime Jairus’ daughter died. We see the same thing in John 11 and the death of Lazarus. Jesus heard that he was sick so “he stayed where he was two more days.” In other words he waited for Lazarus to die and then went. Death to Jesus just wasn’t that urgent a matter it seems. One of the only times that Jesus seemed in a hurry was when he was wanting to get away from the crowds bringing him adulation. Otherwise you get a sense of a man, despite the crowds pressing in on him and criticism being hurled at him from the authorities, who was in control of his timetable. He made decisions in his time. Sometimes, like the selection of the disciples, he would make time by staying up through the night in order to pray. Other times he would simply reject people’s demands. Either way, he was in charge, and I suggest it was because he lived life in intimate relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

It’s matter of priority and a matter of authority. When we give our lives over to God, it also means that we give the decisions in our lives over to him as well. It means that we’re asking God to order our steps. We ask for the eyes of our heart to be opened so we can see where God wants us to be and do what God wants us to be doing. By bringing decisions before God I’ve been rescued from stepping in where I wasn’t actually needed, brought in where I was and slowed down so God could be revealed more clearly. I’ve received guidance and direction that have taken me in unexpected but beautiful directions. I’ve discovered that most decisions aren’t so urgent that they can’t be prayed over and surrendered to God for his will to be done. When you know that God’s in charge then you can let go of the world’s schedule and operate on his.

So this week, may you wake up and slow down. May the eyes of your heart be opened and God’s perspective revealed to you and may the Spirit give you courage to be more obedient to God’s schedule than the world’s. And may grace and peace be yours.


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A New Path

Hi everyone. Rob here.

In Matthew 6:31-34 Jesus says this:

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.

autumn-3193305_960_720It’s worth remembering that Jesus is giving this advice to people who were poor and needy. They had no food security. They lived day by day. To ask people like that not to worry almost seems cruel. How can you not worry in circumstances like that! But we all know that worrying is a pointless and fruitless activity. It just creates fear and never creates faith.

The alternative that Jesus offers us is to seek first the kingdom of God. Jesus asks us to seek God and trust God for what we need each day. His kingdom has enough for us. This principle of day-by-day trust runs throughout scripture. Soon after coming out of slavery, the Israelites were asked to trust God for their daily food. Manna came down out of heaven, but they could only collect one days worth. They had to trust God anew every day. The Lord’s Prayer says, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Part of what Jesus is saying is that we are not the masters of tomorrow. Tomorrow is too much for us. Today has enough trouble on its own. Trust God today. Trust him again tomorrow. Seek first his kingdom today. Seek it first again tomorrow. Cultivate a daily habit of surrender and trust. Give yourself over to a higher realm and a higher authority every day.

Jesus never pretends this is easy. Every day has trouble. There is an enemy. We carry wounds, not all of them healed. We are forgetful, fragile and fickle creatures. But we are also made for God’s kingdom. When Jesus tells us to seek it first he’s asking us to make our way home, trust the resources of home and trust the Father and Son who run the home. He’s also asking us to seek the kingdom’s glory before our own. That is, we are asked to give ourselves over to the kingdom so that we reflect the kingdom in all that we say and do.

It’s hard to imagine a life without worry, isn’t it? I used to combat worry by not caring, but that kind of self-protective posing has no place in the kingdom. It was clothing that didn’t fit. True freedom comes from surrender, from giving all things over to God, including our reputations. As we hand over our grip on the day we gain God’s perspective, God’s wisdom and God’s strength. But again, it’s not easy. It sometimes takes me days or weeks to fully surrender a problem. It’s hard to pull back from trying to take it back. It’s hard not to rush to our own solutions. But if we want God’s solutions then we need to give it to God. If that means doing it again and again until I truly trust God with it, then so be it.

Worry, stress and anxiety are common currency these days. We feel pressured to come up with the goods, but Jesus invites us down a different path – the path of the kingdom of God. May we surrender our burdens and travel lightly as we walk down it together.

Grace and peace.

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Working with God

Kia Ora everyone. Rob here.

For several months now, David and I have been working on a book, based on the prodigal son story in Luke 15. It’s a book we’re excited about and are keen to run retreats and workshops based on it. Watch this space! For a long time though, we were making very little progress. Honestly speaking, I was making very little progress. I was surprised at how hard it was. After all, I love the parable and can never stop talking about it and I love to write about things that are close to my heart. Why then was it so hard to put this book together? Another way of asking the question is, why did I expect it to be easier than it was?


What I realise now is that if God has put a dream in your heart, then you need to walk with God in order for it to happen in the way God intended. The book isn’t our dream. It’s God’s dream for us. For myself, I didn’t realise the level of writer’s fatigue that I had after doing my Master’s thesis. I still enjoyed writing these blogs but I couldn’t get my head around another long-term project like a book. I needed a break. I also didn’t realise when I started, just how different a book is to my other forms of writing. Blogs and sermons are different to books. What I thought was a chapter was merely a point made. I needed to learn how to frame a point more thoroughly like my favourite writers do. Most of all I needed to write more prayerfully. “God, what is it you want me to say, and how do you want me to say it?” Dependence and trust is always where God leads us to. The process is now leading to productivity and we look forward to sharing the book with you before too long.

There’s a bigger point to all of this though. Subconsciously I believe I was thinking something like this; “God has put this book into my mind and heart, God has given me the ability to write, therefore, God will make this process quick and easy!” After following Christ for many years, I should know better. It never works like that! The final product is not God’s goal. It is merely a means to develop our character, to enhance our trust and grow our dependence. The book isn’t the point. Walking with God in writing the book is the point. I’ve had to learn how to walk with him when I had no words, when I didn’t want to write, when He didn’t want me to write, when interruptions came, when a season of putting it down was needed and so on. There are some things that are disciplines, that you just have to do. This wasn’t and isn’t one of those things. Every Monday (book day) I have to ask, God what do you want me to do today, and try and get myself out of the way, knowing that God has my heart.

The book isn’t finished. There’s some more to say, editing to be done and the final product to be formed, but God is leading that too. So I ask you: where in your life are you needing to walk with God closely at the moment? Maybe it’s in parenting, maybe it’s walking with God in a new season of life, maybe it’s doing up an old chevy or building a deck. Whatever it is, God wants to do it with you. He wants to be invited in so he can speak to our hearts in that space. He wants to use the process to develop our characters and deepen our trust.

Enjoy your project and may God dwell with you richly in it.



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Background Music

Hi everyone. Rob here.

I watched a fascinating documentary last night about the group of session musicians known as “The Wrecking Crew.” They were an incredibly talented collection of LA based players who played on some of the biggest records of the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s. Think The Beach Boys, The Mamas and the Papas, Elvis Presley, The Monkees, Sam Cooke, The Byrds and many more of the great names of that golden era. Often, these famous bands would not play a note on their albums. It was all done by The Wrecking Crew. The music of the day had a public face, but a private workforce that was unseen and unrecognised by the public. Only Glen Campbell would go on to fame and fortune. There was a cost to their dedication. The hours were horrendous, there was a toll taken on relationships and health, and yet, years later, they had few regrets. This was because they got to participate in the early years of the Rock & Roll revolution, and play some of the greatest music ever made.


We are also participating in something radical and revolutionary. As children of God we are participants in the kingdom of God which has invaded our planet through Jesus Christ. We belong to eternity but eternity has already begun. By pledging our allegiance to Jesus Christ we have broken the shackles of the old world and embraced the new. This, however, is a mustard-seed revolution. Like yeast in dough, the work is often unseen. The acts of forgiveness and selflessness, the kindness shown, the gentle response, the patience in the face of adversity and the prayers offered up in faith, are not headline material. We need to find a deeper reward than public admiration in order to persevere.

According to Romans 5 the rewards are several.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

There’s too much here to unpack in one blog, but we do see Paul describing an unglamorous life. We see suffering leading to perseverance leading to the building of character. This is hardly an advert for a new kind of lifestyle, but we also see that the rewards are internal and profound. We have right standing with God, peace with God, access to grace, access to God’s glory, hope and the love of God poured into our hearts. No headlines. No certificates to hang on the wall. No social media hits. One of the rewards is the freedom to not need the world’s validation, but to experience God’s settled ‘Yes’ over us.

As the eyes of our heart are opened we learn to see the way God sees. We get to see the value of a good choice, the beautiful first steps of a baby believer, the act of courage that helps someone move away from the old creation, the forgiveness that sets people free. Your role may be small, it may be subtle, it may be unnoticed, but it is utterly essential. The Wrecking Crew learned the value of playing their part well when it came to making great music. It was the final product that counted. In the same way, we are about the Father’s business and it’s his kingdom that matters. Be encouraged this week that even the smallest note helps make beautiful music.

Grace and peace.

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You Are Not Alone

Kia Ora everyone. Rob here.

Last week I was at our annual Pastor’s retreat for our movement. The great benefit of the retreat is being with others who understand your world, speak the same language, share the same frustrations and joys and struggles. The big message I get from the week is: You are not alone! This is a message that would be good for all of us to take to heart.

Feeling alone is a debilitating feeling. It saps all the energy and purpose out of you. I find it fascinating that in Romans 12:15 Paul says this:

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.


If there’s no one to share your pain with and no one to celebrate your joy with, what are you left with? You’re left with isolation, a state that none of us are designed for. It was not good for the man to be alone (Genesis 2:18) said God. It makes sense then that a tactic of the enemy would be to make us feel alone, isolated, cut off, and thereby, tempt us to make agreements that we’re unloveable, not worth it, and untouchable. Hearts get hardened, addictions take hold, pride and/or shame rule and our humanity is diminished.

But you’re not alone. It may feel that way, but you’re not. Every alcoholic felt that their pain was unique and then they went to AA and discovered they were not alone. When you’re suffering from depression, feelings of isolation can be overwhelming, but you’re not alone. The horribly huge number of teenage suicides in my country tell me that there are far too many carrying around a belief that no one understands or cares. But you’re not alone.

The difficulty is that reaching out to others requires an enormous amount of courage, vulnerability and trust – often more than people feel they can give. If our communities are built on pretense and posing then people will be very reluctant to come out of isolation. If our communities are built on genuine love that gives us the courage to be vulnerable, however, then a different story will emerge.

The church is built on Jesus Christ who made himself vulnerable for us. He knew isolation at the cross. His friends abandoned him. he even cried out;

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me! – Matthew 27:46

Jesus identified with our ‘God-forsaken’ moments and reminds us again – we are not alone. Christ is with us. Christ’s church is designed to be a community where we can be vulnerable because Christ is our refuge. We have a long way to go, but when we’re on our knees at the cross of Christ, letting his restoring love wash over our broken places, then we’re on our way. There’s no posing at the foot of the cross.

If isolation and loneliness is your story then take heart. Christ has overcome the world. Through his vulnerability and courage the enemy is thwarted. Come as you are to the foot of the cross. May you meet the church of Christ there. May you meet love there. May the light shine in your darkness there and may you know, you are not alone.

Grace and peace.



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Choosing Trust

Hi everyone. Rob here.

One of my favourite places when I was a child was Grandma’s kitchen. She did all her cooking and baking on a coal range so it was always warm and cosy in there. In there we played games, ate meals, devoured her baking, conversed and just hung out. It was a safe place, a refuge and a haven. I wonder what that place was for you growing up? Did you have one? I hope so. Every child needs a memory of refuge and of peace so they can connect with the peace and the haven God wants to provide for us.

I’ve been thinking about Proverbs 18:10 (you may know the song!).

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.

God himself wants to be our refuge, our haven, our safe place. In him we are to find sanctuary, validation and our hearts true home. We are invited to dwell within the love of Father, Son and Spirit with full and open hearts. This is seldom our experience however. We seem to gain glimpses of it very now and again but I firmly believe that God wants this to be our everyday reality.


The elephant in the room is that we don’t always trust God. We have suffered pain, sometimes very intense pain; emotional, physical and spiritual. We have felt the cries of our heart go unanswered. We have felt that the Lord has given and then taken away. We have experienced loss, heartache and suffering and we have blamed God for it.

But if God is good, if God is love and if God is our refuge, then other forces must be at work! We’re told that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). We’re also told that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Paul talks about the powers of this dark world (Ephesians 6:12). As John Eldredge says , we’re part of a love story set in the midst of war.

Jesus tells us explicitly that in this world we will have trouble (John 16:33), but he also says, in the same verse, that it’s in him we have peace. We can take heart because he’s overcome the world. But it’s victory through a cross. Paul says that we can rejoice in our sufferings (Romans 5:3). It’s clear that there is much set against us and suffering in unavoidable. It was unavoidable for Jesus and it’s unavoidable for us. And yet we are also assured that in Christ is peace and joy and hope. He is our refuge. The Father’s arms are wide open. The Spirit leads us and fills us with life. We are asked to trust God because he is the only way through the forces set against us. If we don’t trust God then there is no hope, no joy, no life and no love, that can overcome the thief who wants to steal, kill and destroy.

The power of the powers is no match for the cross of Christ. Their power dies there and we die to every agreement we’ve made with them. Christ’s resurrection shouts to the world that he is the trustworthy one. He is the one who can make his way through the power of death and he can guide us through also. We just have to trust  him. He knows the way home. Let’s follow him. The Father’s arms await us. The joy of the Spirit is with us. Suffering will come but despair doesn’t have to. Cynicism doesn’t have to. The peace I knew in Grandma’s kitchen is a glimpse into the kingdom of God where laughter and joy abound. May you glimpse that more and more as you choose to trust the goodness and love of our God.

Grace and peace.

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Noticing Life

Greetings everyone. Rob here.

In the middle of winter, as it is here in Aotearoa – New Zealand, life can start to feel like drudgery. The weather’s a bit bleak, energy levels are down, your nose always seems to be running, the kids are inside with outside voices, and the people around you are often feeling the same way too. This means that we have to make a very deliberate effort to come before God and ask for his eyes to see, his ears to hear and his heart to engage with life.


At other times of the year our bodies and minds are naturally refreshed by sunlight and warmth; flowers and birds; longer days and time outside. That’s not the case in winter, although I do recommend getting outside as much as possible, even if it involves a raincoat and gumboots. What’s really needed in winter is the ability to notice and celebrate life wherever you can find it. This is why we need God’s eyes to see. As the source of life, he can point us towards life. He can refresh our spirits and renew our minds because that’s the effect his life has on us.

So, while today is cold and bleak, I can look out my office window and see the church’s neighbour, an elderly lady, going about her job delivering pamphlets. She also helps at the local school, picks up rubbish, sorts out our bins, seems to know everyone and smiles a lot. I can give thanks for her and the gift she is to our local community. I can also look at the High School across the road and see the kids slugging it out in P.E. I can give thanks for a school of great diversity, their commitment to learning and the opportunities they give our teens to grow. I can also look through our church buildings and celebrate a playgroup, a toy library and a breakfast programme that have all blessed people today.

As the sun tries its best to poke its head through the rising cloud I’m thankful this winter’s day that the God of life is active and intentional in our community. People are going about their jobs of teaching, serving, cleaning and caring. The streets look clean because of the rubbish service yesterday. I’m grateful for that and for the people who value beauty enough to have planted trees and plants, tended their lawns and brought some colour to the world. I’ve also laughed with someone today and that too is a great gift. I suspect that I’ve noticed these things today because I gave myself over to God this morning and intentionally asked for his eyes to see, his ears to hear and his heart to engage. I’ll need to do that again as the day goes on, because winter days are long. What are you asking God for today? Is it just to ‘get through’ the day? Lift your sights. God invites us to participate in his life, so ask for his life and love to flow in and through you. It helps, it really does.

So, may you ask and receive. May the eyes of your heart be opened. May you give thanks for the many gifts that today has for you and may you the grace and peace of God be upon you.

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