Monday, 17 December 2007

What’s so silly about the silly season? (Apart from my spelling......)

It’s that time of year. Christmas, or (as it’s popular to call it today) the "Silly Season." It's the time of year when people spend a lot of money on Christmas presents, people get more stressed then they need to, and us Christians try to convince the world that it’s all about celebrating Jesus’ birthday, with one of the cheesiest slogans of all time-
Jesus is the reason for the season.

Yet when I think about some of the aspects of Christmas today and the life and teachings of Jesus, I can’t help feeling that it would be difficult to think of a way celebrating the birth of Christ which is less befitting of Jesus’ life and character. Pigging out on food, getting wasted at Christmas parties, stressing out over small things, making lists of all the things we want, speed, speed, speed........ stress, stress stress... all flying directly in contrast to the way Jesus called us to live.

And then when we do come to the parts of Christmas which do have some connection to Jesus, we seem to really more on tradition than what The Bible says happened. I mean, look at this popular Christmas Carroll, and at all the points where it reflect the “traditional” story of the birth of Christ, rather than the one which if found in the Bible.

Long time ago in Bethlehem so the Holy Bible said Mary's boy child Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Day.

We all know that Jesus was almost certainly not born on Christmas day, as the bible does’t not give any date to when he was born,

Hark now hear the angels sing a king was born today

The angles did NOT sing as Christmas. Luke says  "suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and SAYING ( not singing) “ Glory to God in the highest...” (Luke 2 13-14) In fact it’s likely that angels do not sing at all.

And man will live for evermore because of Christmas Day.

Actually, it’s because of what happened at Easter, not Christmas which means that we will live forever.

While shepherds watch their flocks by night, they see a bright new shining star, they hear a choir sing a song, the music seemed to come from afar.

Again, the angels did not sing. And the Bible does not say that the magi followed a new star, it just calls it ‘his” star.

Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today, And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day.

Now Joseph and his wife, Mary, came to Bethlehem that night, they found no place to bear her child, not a single room was in sight.

And then they found a little nook in a stable all forlorn, and in a manger cold and dark, Mary's little boy was born.

The Bible does’t say that they came to Bethlehem the same night that Jesus was born; it just says that “while they were there.” And we don’t know if Jesus was born at night or during the day.

That all said, there IS a lot of good which comes out of Christmas. People get to spend time with their family, which is a good thing. Some people go to church that otherwise wouldn’t. Giving gifts to people is great!! We need to become more generous people. Charity organizations like the City Mission do a lot of good work to help make Christmas special for those who need it, and many people give generously to these causes. We get a day off work (which dosn’t really make up for all the extra work we need to do before Christmas, but hay).

So is Christmas a good thing or a bad thing? I believe that there is a lot of good in Christmas. But we also need to think a little deeper about how we use it to honor God. I don’t think we should follow the J-dabs and drop Christmas altogether. Neither should we embrace every element of chritsmas without think about whether or not it honors God. With a little bit of thought and prayer, we can make this silly season an act of worship to God.

Marry Christmas to you all.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

What is church?

I've been thinking a bit lately about what is church? Church is a lot more than what we do on a Sunday, however, for this post I will be looking at a church serves. What should it look like? I’ve heard it said that church is people. However, I think it’s more than just a bunch of people. Church its fist and foremost about God- what he has done to call people back to himself thought the blood of Christ. It is a gathering of a community of the people of God- the people he has redeemed not by human effort, but by the cross. Therefore God needs to be in the centre of our view of church.

In Acts 2 42 it says that “they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” It goes on to talk about everyone being filled with awe, miracles being done amount them, sheering all their positions with each other, meting daily in the temple and regularly in people’s homes and gave praise to God. Now, this is by no means the only verse in the Bible which talks about church, but there is enough in there to help us to think about how we “do church.” If that was about my church, what would it say?

Something along the lines of “they meet once a week for about an hour where they sing a few songs and listen to someone talk, and some of them hang around afterwards to chat. There was prayer ministry available, to those who wanted it- but that was generally only two or three people. Some people would meet weekly for a cell group and sometimes there would be social events.” Okay, maybe that a little cyclical, but the point is that most churches today look more like this model than the biblical one of Acts 2. Some churches might have communion more regularly or have more liturgies and other stuff, but again, not like the acts two model.

In saying that, we also have to remember that this verse is taking about a particular church in a particle context. We can’t simple say that all churches everywhere most follow this exactly. However, that it does give us some basic elements which should bake us gatherings of belies: fellowship, teaching, prayer and the braking of bead as all important elements of a Christian community.

So, what would my ideal Sunday church series look like? His is still a work in progress, but here’s what I have so far. Let’s make it an evening service, cos that’s what I go to. I would have a shared meal every week before the service. Why? To build community. At CU we would go to Courtney central every week after the meeting for dinner and that make a massive impact in the community at CU.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Hip hop History of the church 101. Plus Jesus on the water revisited

At church on Sunday, we watched a hip hop\rap history of the church. Yes, that’s right, a hip hop\rap version of the history of the church. And yes, it did make me cringe. Now, the idea is not totally a bad one: it introduces church history to Christians who may never otherwise know anything about the churches heritage. I think it is important that Christians today understand the story of the church to see where God had been at work and what mistakes we have made. But apart from being cheesy, at lot of this history was not much more than a bunch of slogans which summed up large and complex parts of church history. True, summing up 2000 years in 10 munities a big ask, and it can be nothing more than a brief summary. But trying to sloganise history is bad history. Furthermore, there was not really any encouragement from what I can remember to dig deeper into the history of the church. Rather the focus was on what role we as the next generation of new Christians will do next. Again, not a bad thing in itself and it presented some good challenges for Christian viewers. But I hope the church will be more serious about understanding where we have came in the last 2000 years than to stop at a bunch of rap slogans. We need to understand both what God has done thought the church and what mistakes we have, so that we can move forward with where God wants us to go and to not make the same mistakes again.

The other thing which I have been thinking about recently is about Jesus walking on the water, and how we interpret it. It seems that we often use it in a metaphorical way for having a lot of faith and it often said in songs that ‘if I keep my eyes on Jesus\ have enough faith I can walk on water.” However, I’m not share that this is the point of the passages. Jesus did not give a universal promise to all his followers that if they have enough faith they too will literally be able to walk on water, Jesus only ever commanded Peter, on this one occasion to do so. Now, this does not mean that we shouldn’t have faith in Jesus to do miraculous things thought us. He does promise us this in a number of separate occasions in the bible. However, at this particular scripture, I think that focus should not be on us and our faith, or even Peter’s faith (or lack of it), but on Jesus, and what this tells us about who he was. The point is this passage tells us that Jesus was not an ordinary person. He was doing something extra ordinary. This passage is to help point us to who Jesus really was: the son of God. I think we need to think more about how we uses scripture and whether or not the way we understand it is the way it was written to be understand: every if the point we are making for it is generally right. We need to be more careful with scripture in this regards.

Just some thoughts.

Monday, 26 November 2007

S.L.C 2007: the end of my time with TSCF.... or maybe just the end of the beginning............

The other week I went to my last TSCF event as a student: Student Leadership conference. This year I did stream three; a stream dedicated to people who are in there final year of study and about to enter the workplace or go into post graduate study. We spent a lot of time looking at how to honour God thought our work. It’s not simply a matter of using work as a chance to get only to give to the church and to be nice to people, but we should see our work as an act of worship, and really think about how it glorifies God. We were also challenged to think about how we use our money: doses this glorify God, and spent the week looking at the book of Nehemiah and a lot of time reflecting on who we are.
All this has given me a lot to think about and work thought, which I have not really had the chance to do yet. However, as I reflect on how I have changed while I've bean at Uni, I can see that t has changed me a lot. There are lot of things with CU\TSCF has given me, but two in particular are significant. I think I am a much more thoughtful person, particularly with regards to my faith. I the past I would have gone along with whatever was the in thing in church or Christian circles, without thinking about whether or not it was really God at work. Now I think thought- at least a little- what I see in church. Is the really in line with what the Bible teaches? Is the glory really going to God? And I think my involvement with TSCF\CU has been a large part of this.
Some people would say that this is a bad thing: we must have faith in God and not our own intellect. And to a degree they are right: we should really on God and not ourselves. But on the other hand, we need to make share it is really God we have faith. Therefore we must make share it is God at work in the things we see around us. We must make share we understand what the bible really teaches about who God is and how he want us o live our lives. This is something which I am only being at. And while I think it is health to think thought what I see in the church and the world today, I don’t think became a total cynic is healthy ether. When we see things which are not perfect in the church, I think it is healthy to be thankful that God is still at work in human imperfectness and weakness, and not get cynical at where Gods people are at.

The second is a number of good friends across New Zealand and around the world. I have meet so any fantastic people though CU and TSCF both staff workers and students, some I have gotten to know quite well, some not so. I really hope and pray that I will continue to develop theses friendships, and that God will use them to grow both his kingdom and us as individuals. It’s great to know that if I have to movie to a scary place like Auckland I will actually know some people there. If any of you actually read this blog; YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!!!! You really are. Thanks for the good times, the prayer meetings, the mafia, the deep and meaningfully, the committee retreats, the camps and conferences, the road trips, the cell groups, the soccer, the laughter, the hanging out, the whatever it is. I will miss you. Where ever you are, I know that God will continue to use you to bless people and grow his kingdom. And somewhere along this line, weather here or in eternity, our paths will cross. And because of the cross, it will be to Gods glory.

So it’s goodbye to TSCF as a student. Thanks to TSCF, in really it’s thanks to GOD. I will leave with the word of the unofficial anthem if TSCF, IN Christ alone- and song with sums up the gospel of our LORD and savior Jesus Christ. A song with always reminds me of what God has done for me: both thought the cross and thought TSCF.

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save'
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
fAnd as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Brought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Harvests 2007: my reflections.

On Sunday night I went, along with a couple of CUers to the last night of the harvest outreach event at TSB Bank Area. There events featured a couple of popular Christian bands: the Newsboys and the Katenas, and a message form evangelist Greg Laurie. While a large number of people responded to the alter calls at the end of the events and I believe God was at work, I was nethertheless left with some issues about some aspects of the event.

 My main issue with it was how very “chruchy” it felt. All the music was what would be considered “contemporary worship.” And while the main message delivered by Laurie was amide at non Christians, there was a lot of talk by other people was definitely aimed at the Christians present. While it was the Sunday night, which I understand often has a more "churchy" feel to it at these sorts of events, and the Meany Christians presents were obviously having a good time, I couldn’t help felling that this would feel very strange and in-groupy to any non church goers present, for whom the event was meant to b aimed at. Furthermore, it was also obvious that a large majority of the people present were church goes, maybe as much as 80% or higher.

So where does this leave us? Do we as a church in Wellington know how to reach the people in our city with the gospel in their language? It felt to me that we were try to reach them with our culture. I mean, the main drew card was the Newsboys, who while massive in Christian circles (well, they are a bit past there used by date now, but they are still well known) are unheard-of by theses outside it. If we want to reach the non- church goers in Wellington with the gospel, filling the TSB arena with Christians to listen to the Newsboys play a few of the “church worship” orientated songs is not the best way of doing it. Sure, a lot of people went up at the end, as I praise God for that. But I feel confident to predict that most of them were already church goers. Which, by the way, raises another issue: what are there so many people in Wellington churches feel the need to respond to the message at an event like this? Are there no opportunities in regular church services to do so? Do we even know how to preach the gospel to those going to our churches, or by we need a big American preacher to come and do it for us?

So my challenge to the church in Wellington is this: How are we going to build on the gains of the harvest 2007 event? How are we going to move forward, to reach the people in this city in their language? How can we share the good knows that Jesus died to forgive them of their sin and that he rose on the third day relevant to them?

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Yesssssssss!!!

I've now done my last essay, and if I pass every thing, i have a degree!!! Now I have to find a job. At the moment I'm working at the new warehouse store which opens today. It doesn't have much stock, but we do have Vegetales!!!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Blogs and blondes

Only two people in my pols class blogg...........

And for something different......


A blond, a brunette and a redhead escape from jail and decide to hide in a barn. As they hear the police closing in, they climb into the loft and hide in three empty burlap feed bags. A young officer climbed into the loft, shined his flashlight around, and decided to check the burlap bags. He kicked the first bag containing the brunette, and she responded with a convincing "woof". He kicked the second bag with the redhead inside, and she let out a perfect cat’s meow. "Nothing up here but cats and dogs," the officer Responded to his superior. Deciding to be sure, he kicked the last bag, the one containing the blonde. She yelled out "Potatoes!!!"

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Arrrrrrrhhhh!!

Ahoy there, me hearties, just thought I'd post to calibrate International talk like a pirate day!!!!!!!.
http://www.talklikeapirate.com/piratehome.html

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

How Kiwi is the chruch in New Zealand?

I was thinking about this last night. The church in New Zealand seems to rely a lot on resources from overseas, in particular America and Britain. Examples of this would be the Christian books that we read- the Kiwi Bible is the only example which I can think of which came for New Zealand, the music we listen to, although we do better here, the teachers we listen to- someone seems to have a lot more authority if they are from overseas, and the programs we run, such as alpha, Christianity explored etc.

Now don't get me wrong, New Zealand s a relatively small country with only four million people, so it's inevitable that we will have a lot of influence from other counties, and these people have many gifts and experiences which can help us in New Zealand. I for one am very thankful for the number of excellent TSCF stuff workers form outside New Zealand But my worry is that we often just apply oversea resources, without thinking about how the context in America or the United Kingdom is different to that in New Zealand. Furthermore, it means that the many people whom God had gifted in New Zealand don't get a chance to to use them.

If the Church in New Zealand is going to reach the people of this nation for Christ, we need to be serious about connecting with our own culture. This means we need to take the time to understand kiwi culture as it is today, and to develop the girts which New Zealand Christian have, not just rely on overseas ideas. I would be good to See a New Zealand equivalent to Alpha, which address the questions New Zelanders have, and to see some good Christian books written form a New Zealand prospective and to help New Zealand Christian understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus in New Zealand.

Monday, 27 August 2007

America

Apparently, America has ever lost a war where is used Mules. George W Bush is a donkey, so he doesn't count.......

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Girls

Girls don't like boys, girls like boys with CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Old and retired

On Thursday CU had its AGM, and thus has a new committee. The new committee is:
Kirsten Meyer - President
Peter Jackson - Vice-President
Andrew Walbran - Secretary
Melanie Mylvaganam - Treasurer
Peta-Maria Harris - General Exec
For me, it’s the end of Two years of serving God in CU committee. As I reflect on that time, it has become clear just how faithful God has been to us. There were time when everything seemed to go wrong, but God used the time for good: to help us refocus on mission. Often, we don’t see how God is work, when we are there: It’s only when we look back that we see how God is at work.
I know that God has big plans for CU. My prayer is that the new committee will seek God will for the group. I also pray that God will continue to guide us Oldies who are retiring: that we make continue to reach those around us and that we will grow to know God more.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Poltical Campass

There is this website I found via facebook, which you can take a test and work out where you are on the political septum. While its not an exact since, its not to bad over all. If you want to see where I am, you will need to visit my facebook profile.
It also has where particular politicians and parities are in some counties, including New Zealand. It's striking how right wing New Zealand, the US and the Uk all are. Fi will probably disagree with where United Future is,
The website is http://www.politicalcompass.org/index

Monday, 30 July 2007

Sick

Lots of people seem to be getting sick lately. That's not cool.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Christianity: a relationship with God?

I was thinking last night about some of the terms we use in church to take about Christianity. We often say that "Christianity is not a religion; it’s a relationship with God." While idea itself is true, and Christianity is about our relationship with God, I have some issues with using this as a definition of what the central focus of what Christianity is about. It dose not tell a full story of what Christianity is.

One issue is that form my limited knowledge of other religions, you could say that a number of other religions, such as Islam or Judaism are also about a relationship with God. A different type of relationship, yes, but you wouldn’t get that for the relationship definition. However the biggest problem with it is that I don’t think it’s a very Biblical was of looking at it. The phrase "relationship with God:" doesn’t  occur in the NIV, ESV, NASB or NKJ translations of Bibles. The idea that that people should live in a relationship with God is biblical. But it’s a lot deeper than that.

So what does the bible tell us Christianity is? The message which the apostles perched is called the gospel (e.g. Acts 15:7, Acts 20:24, Romans 1:1-2). The world gospel means "good new." But what is this good news? In a nut shell, that even thought we have turned away from God, thought the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can be restored to God and have eternal life. While that is about our relationship with God, it’s not the way the Bible explains it. And I think there is something else going on when people describe Christianity as a relationship. I think Christian often what to make the gospel seen "more appalling" to people, so instead of telling them that Christianity is about the forgiveness of sins, they say its a relationship of God, essentially watering down the gospel.
So with saying Christianity is a about a relationship is not wrong per say, we need to make share we a preaching the whole gospel, not just a part of it.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Political websites visterd in New Zaeland



According to http://www.alexa.com, these are the ten most popular political websites in New Zealand:

1. Scoopwww.scoop.co.nz - Site info
2. Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealandwww.greens.org.nz - Site info
3. Elections New Zealandwww.elections.org.nz - Site info
4. National Partywww.national.org.nz - Site info
5. Hide, Rodneywww.rodneyhide.com - Site info
6. Labour Partywww.labour.org.nz - Site info
7. Investigate Magazinewww.investigatemagazine.com - Site info
8. Policy.net.nz - Political Policy Onlinewww.policy.net.nz - Site info
9. ACT - The Liberal Partywww.act.org.nz - Site info
10. DecisionMakerwww.decisionmaker.co.nz - Site info

Interesting that www.rodneyhide.com is more popular than Labour. The Greens came in at number two, I guess due to the young nature of its supporters.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Muffins

One must live there life according to principles. One which I live mine by is this: muffins are not meals. Muffins make great snacks or morning\ afternoon teas, and can be part of a meal, but you can’t have only muffins for a meal.
On a totally different matter, so people have been asking what I will do next year. The answer: I don’t know!! I have a number of different ideas: find a real job, do MINTY, go overseas on some sort of mission. But yeah.
I’m also back at uni now, and finding my last papers ok. I’m doing two Political science Papers: one on researching political the other on leadership and a history paper comparing New Zealand and the United States. I’ve only had one class for each so far, so will reserve judgment till later.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

TSCF Conference

For the past week, I was at the TSCF national conference, at El Rancho, Waikane. The theme this year was eternity. The teaching was outstanding and was done by Andrew Lim, a pastor from Pamiston North, and Dave Wells, form the Bible College of New Zealand. Andrew Spoke from 1 Thessalonians. He challenged us to live in accordance to how God has called us to live many areas of our lives. One of these was not to put on a mask, but to let people see the real me. It’s easy to pretend that I am a “perfect Christian” when in fact this is not the case and it is impossible. He also challenged us to live boldly for Christ, to live a pure life and to treat my work and studies as part of my worship to God.
Dave likewise challenged us to live an undivided life. It is far to essay to separate our life’s form the story of the gospel. Dave’s challenge to relate the gospel message to our world and to individual’s lives was great. We need to think thought how the story of the gospel relates to the people around us, to both work and uni satiations, to the content of the subjects we study and to society in general. I guess I've always known and bean worried by the fact that Christians tended to live in our own Christian bubble to some degree. Often we listen to “christen music”, read Christian books and hang out with christen. While these are not bad things in themselves, we do have a tendency to alienate ourselves from the rest of the world and then wonder why we have issues reaching them. To overcome this, we need to, as Dave said, understand the story of the gospel, the story of the world and the story of the individuals we know. I realised that this is something which I myself will need to do if any change is going o happen. Furthermore, Dave reminded us that we need to have love for the people around us and not treat them as project but as individuals people made and love by God.
The “interactive experience” was also a high light for the conference. This was a number of actives which we did such as a card game where we could not talk, a hospital simulation, where we had to decide who lived and who died, a confidence courses, where some of us were blindfolded and a quiz. As great as talks are, I found it really helpfully to learn lesson is different ways. All the actives were helpful and it was really interesting to see how different people reacted in the different situations, especially the lunch! Some of us got to sit at the table and have a good feed, while the rest of us had to sit on the floor and got very little. While many of the lesson I guess I knew before, it often take a practical situation, such as we were faced with to derive, them home.
TSCF conferences are great times for learning, speeding time with God and for fellowship. It was awesome to see people I haven’t seen in a while and to meet new people. But the best thing of all was that God was at work.

Monday, 2 July 2007

New things.

So, I have a blog. I don't know how much I'm going to use it, or if anyone will ever bother reading it if I do, but I have one nevertheless. Why? In this world, Internet is is changing the way we live and communicate with each other. Every man ( or women) and his dog seems to have a blog. It provides a space for expressing ones views on any issue one whats to address and for give people- friends, acquaintances, enemies and strangers- a glimpse into thier lives. For many people, their opinions are ill informed, based on doggy media series. For me, I hope that my views here can be formed by something more than that. Hopefully I can think about what I say before I post it. Hopefully I can research my facts, and not rely on bad research. Hopefully I will let God's word shape my thinking. So yeah. This is post number one. Enjoy.