Sunday, 22 December 2013

With God Nothing Is Impossible

‘For with God nothing will be impossible.
Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord!
Let it be to me according to your word."
And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1.37-38

blog_impossibleGod is a God of miracles - He delights in doing the impossible.  Isn’t this what we celebrate not only at Christmas, but every day - God doing the impossible?  He has the power to bring the Savior into our world through a virgin!  In context that was what Mary was pondering - how can she, a virgin become pregnant?  Look at Luke 1:34  - 'Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" '   So the angel Gabriel responds - with God nothing is impossible.  God has sovereign control and power over creation, time and space - everything!

Now this verse in the English translation doesn’t give us the whole picture.  In the original language, there is another dimension.  There are implications that come out better in the Greek - ‘nothing’ is literally ‘no word’ and ‘impossible’ is literally ‘without power’.  So literally it reads - ‘with God, no word will be without power’.  That’s why Mary answered in V38 - ‘Let it be to me according to your word’.  She got the message!

See, the angel brought this up to prove to Mary that with God none of His Words is without power.  What He promised Mary (through the angel), He has the power to accomplish!  A virgin will bring forth a Child - Jesus!

And for us today, it is the same, there is tremendous power in the Word of God.  This is a very important principle in Christian life - God has power to effect change in us through His Word!  Look at just a few verses….
Isa 55.11- ‘So shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please.

Heb 4.12 - ‘For the Word of God is living and powerful….

Ps 33.9 - ‘for He spoke and it was done; He commanded and it stood fast.’

So the next time you face impossibilities, think - with God nothing is impossible / with God, no word is without power.  And then go to Scripture and allow God to speak to you through His Word.  Allow Him to transform you through His Word.  Find strength, comfort, peace, forgiveness, reconciliation and healing in His Word.  The Lord through His Word, has the power to work in any ‘impossibility’ we face.  He had the power to bring Jesus Christ into this world through a virgin - He did the 'impossible'.  And He can also bring Jesus into the midst of your impossibility today.  And you can have peace even in the midst of chaos.  Remember, with God nothing will be impossible.

Monday, 16 December 2013

The Pastor's Wife - A Thankless 'Job'

pastors_wife_survivalFor years I have said this about my wife! Her 'work/ministry' is tougher than anyone ever realizes. Thanks Becks for being my wife and helpmate. Please read the following post from this blog from Ryan Huguley titled '6 Ways to Serve Your Pastor's Wife on Sundays'.  Please pray for Becks as well as all pastors' wives.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Story Behind 'Broken Hallelujah'

Here's the story behind the song Broken Hallelujah by The Afters....


Beauty From Ashes

The AftersJust bought the new The Afters album - Life is Beautiful (well, new to me at least, I think it came out in April of this year).   And discovered the song ' Broken Hallelujah. It's been a long time since a song has instantly brought tears to my eyes, but this one did.  The inspiration for the song comes partly from the Book of Job and partly from the life situations of the writers/musicians.  I can't seem to hear it enough - I have fallen asleep listening to this song every night for the last week!  It is such an uplifting song.  Even the kids love it!

My favorite line in the song...
'Even though I don't know what your plan is, I know You're making beauty from these ashes.'

Here are the lyrics to the song...

"Broken Hallelujah"

I can barely stand right now.
Everything is crashing down,
And I wonder where You are.

I try to find the words to pray.
I don't always know what to say,
But You're the one that can hear my heart.

Even though I don't know what your plan is,
I know You're making beauty from these ashes.

I've seen joy and I've seen pain.
On my knees, I call Your name.
Here's my broken hallelujah.

With nothing left to hold onto,
I raise these empty hands to You.
Here's my broken hallelujah.

You know the things that have brought me here.
You know the story of every tear.
‘Cause You've been here from the very start.

Even though I don't know what your plan is,
I know You're making beauty from these ashes.

I've seen joy and I've seen pain.
On my knees, I call Your name.
Here's my broken hallelujah.

With nothing left to hold onto,
I raise these empty hands to You.
Here's my broken hallelujah.

When all is taken away, don't let my heart be changed.
Let me always sing Hallelujah
When I feel afraid, don't let my hope be erased
Let me always sing Hallelujah.
Let me always sing Hallelujah.

I will always sing
I will always sing
Here's my broken hallelujah.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Pleasing God

It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.   And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.  Then a voice came from heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."     Mark 1.9-11

At baptism of Jesus, after He came up out of the water, God declared - ‘This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Mark 1blog_heart_cloud.11).

Have you ever noticed that it says (1) God loves Him and (2) God is pleased with Him.  And this is before Jesus ever did anything!  This was at the start of His public ministry, so He had not done anything yet!  Hadn’t taught anything publicly yet.  Hadn’t preached a sermon yet.  Hadn’t healed any one yet.  Hadn’t walked on water yet.  Hadn’t fed the 5000 men yet.  Hadn’t done anything yet.

And God still declared - My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  How could God say this?  Because of Who Jesus is, not just what He has done or will do.  God loves Jesus and is pleased with Him because He is simply His Son.

And so it is with us.  God loves us and is pleased with us not JUST for what we have done or will do.  We can easily get into the habit of thinking that we have to DO something to please God or to earn His love.  No, He loves us and is pleased with us simply because we are His children.  Just like we love our children simply because of who they are.

So it is not JUST about keeping rules and regulations - that is good and needed too.  But we can know that we are accepted and loved because we are God’s children first and foremost.  We are well pleasing to God already!  When God looks at us, He sees His Son Jesus.  Amazing grace!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.     Eph 1.3-6


Sunday, 28 July 2013

Is He Not Faithful?

blog_rainbowSorry it's been about 6 months since I posted anything on this blog!  Time flies!  Here is a short(ish) devo from this past week.  I have been looking back at our time here in New Zealand - 3 and a half years and counting - and the one underlying theme has to be God's faithfulness.  Look what  the psalmist said in Psalm 89 about God's faithfulness...

…with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations (V1).
…Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens (V2).
…Your faithf
ulness also surrounds You (V8).

As it says in V1, His faithfulness surrounds Him.  It is who He is.  There is not a day, minute or second that goes by that God is NOT faithful.  He is faithful even when we don't believe He is.  He is faithful even when we turn away from Him.  He is faithful even when we are faithless (2Tim 2.13)!  But more than that, His faithfulness also surrounds us!  What a joy and comfort!  Look at some of the ways has He been faithful to us...

  • in carrying us through the trials and difficulties.

  • in providing for all our needs.

  • in leading and guiding us in many important decisions.

  • in bringing comfort or healing or peace when it was needed.

  • in keeping us safe in His hands.

  • in providing forgiveness for our sins at the Cross.

  • in sending His Son Jesus into this world.

God is faithful.  Again, it is the essences of who He is.  He would not be God if He were not faithful.  His faithfulness surrounds him.

Also V2 says His faithfulness is established in heaven, not on earth where things are constantly changing.  No, it is established firmly and permanently in heaven, the dwelling place of God Himself.  His faithfulness can be counted upon - it is 100% reliable everyday, in every situation, through all circumstances.  Can we say that about anyone else?  NO!  As humans, we will always fail, always disappoint others, always let others down, always make mistakes, always doubt, always go back on our word - it's our fallen nature!  But because God is perfect, His faithfulness is perfect also.  That means all He says or does is certain - He is faithful.  It means every promise He makes will come to pass - He is faithful.  It means his plan will be worked out - He is faithful.  It means every trial or tribulation we go through DOES have a purpose - He is faithful.  God is faithful and His faithfulness is established in heaven!

Lastly, the psalmist writes that he would proclaim the faithfulness of God to all generations (V1).  When we experience God’s faithfulness, we can’t help but thank Him, praise Him and proclaim His faithfulness!  And even when we are in the midst of trials and troubles, we must remember God IS FAITHFUL, even if we can't see it, recognize it or accept it in that moment.  But when we do see His faithfulness, even years later in hindsight, it will cause us to break out in praise and proclaim the faithfulness of God to all generations.  That is the automatic response!  I look back over the years that I had the privilege of following Jesus and walking with God and I can see His goodness and faithfulness.  And I have to simply proclaim - He is faithful, even when I was faithless, because He cannot deny Himself.

So I challenge you, look back at your life - how has He shown Himself faithful to you?  In your family?  At work, school?  How has He shown Himself faithful in the little things and the big things?  I bet if you look hard enough you will see many examples of His faithfulness.  So have you thanked Him for them?  Have you praised Him for His faithfulness?  Have you proclaimed it to all generations?

Also with the lute I will praise You and Your faithfulness, O my God!
To You I will sing with the harp,
O Holy One of Israel.

Psalm 71.22

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Storms of Life

blog_jesus_in_storm_backhuysenEver been in a major storm?  Maybe a hurricane?  Or tornado?  Or massive rainstorm?  Scary isn't it.  But in life, we will all go through storms.  Some are massive hurricanes and others are gentle drizzles.  But we all go through storms.  In Mark 4, we see the disciples going through a major storm on the Sea of Galilee - the winds and waves were threatening to sink the boat.  Let's read....

On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side."  Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him.  And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?" And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!" - Mark 4:35-41

Let's look at some facts about storms...

  • Storms are inevitable - we can't avoid them.  As we journey through life, we will eventually encounter storms.  And it seems like they come at the most inopportune and inconvenient times, don't they!

  • Storms can happen even to those closest to the Lord.  Who was in the boat?  The 12 disciples, those who were closest to Jesus.  In fact, there were other boats following Jesus and the disciples (V36) and they too got caught in the storm.  Followers of Jesus are not immune to storms.

  • Storms can also come from God.  Jesus said 'Let us cross over to the other side' (V35).  Jesus told them to go over the sea to the other side. And because they obeyed Him, they ended up in a storm!  This storm came as they were right in the middle of the Lord's will!

  • Storms can be life-threatening.  'And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling' (V37).  The storm was so massive, the wind so strong, the waves so high that the boat was about to sink!  And everyone aboard was at risk of drowning!  Your storm might be cancer or some other illness.  Or it can be financial debt that threatens to sink you.

  • Storms can cause us to doubt.  At the height of the storm, the disciples cried out to Jesus 'Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?' (V38)They doubted His care and control.  And they questioned His Word - He said they were going to cross OVER, not go under!  Haven't we cried out to God in the midst of our storms - 'where are You?  Don't You love me anymore?  Don't You care?'  Doubt.

You ever been in a storm like that?  A storm that comes upon you even though you know you are right in the middle of God's will?  Or because you have been obedient?  Maybe it's a storm that comes upon you at work - your boss asks you to fudge a few numbers on the annual report and you say, 'no, I can't, that would be lying'.  And now your boss brings the hammer down on you.  And perhaps this storm even causes you to doubt God's goodness or justice.  Yep, we all go through storms.

Let's look at a few things we can do...

  • Take Jesus along.  The disciples at least took Jesus with them!  Look at V36 - 'they took Him along in the boat'.  Good job guys!  Knowing that we will eventually encounter storms, shouldn't we always take Jesus along?

  • Remember that Jesus is in control, not us.  Remember, there were several fishermen in the boat.  And maybe they thought - we can handle this!  Maybe they even said to Jesus - 'Lord, You're tired, go take a nap.  We'll take care of this - we're expert fishermen!!  Been there, done that, got the T-shirt!'  In the midst of our storms, we need to remember that the Lord is in control, not us.

  • Remember that the Word of the Lord brings calm.  The disciples, with great fear and perhaps some irritation, woke Jesus up from a good nap.  He stands up, rebukes the wind, calms the waves.  How?  By His Words - 'Peace. Be still!' (V39).  He simply speaks and the wind and waves obey!  In the midst of our storms, shouldn't we turn to the Word of God to find rest, peace and calm?

  • Have faith.  The disciples should have had faith in Jesus.  In fact, Jesus rebukes them for their lack of faith - 'Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?' (V40).  Remember, they had just previously seen Jesus heal, work miracles, confront the Pharisees.  They had just heard Him teach several parables - one of them being the parable of the mustard seed.  They should have had faith, even mustard seed faith.

  1. They should have had faith in Jesus' presence - with Him in the boat, they wouldn't sink!

  2. They should have had faith in Jesus' power - they saw Him do miracles and healings.

  3. They should have had faith in Jesus' promise - He told them they were crossing OVER the Sea.

  4. They should have had faith in Jesus' peace - He was asleep, at peace.  They should have had faith that things were going to be OK!

  • Worship the Lord.  V41 says they 'feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!"'.  That word 'fear' there means awe and respect and reverence.  It is in fact a healthy fear of the Lord.  It is worship - when we give to God the reverence and respect He deserves.  The disciples were beginning to see that this ain't no ordinary carpenter!  This is God in human flesh!  And thus, they feared exceedingly.  They worshiped.

So what storms do you face at the moment?  Take heart and remember to take Jesus along, let Him have the controls.  You be still, be at peace, have faith.  And worship Him for He is mighty to save.
The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. - Zephaniah 3:17

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Please Pray...


Hi all,

Hope you are having an awesome start to the new year.  Can you believe it’s already the 2nd week of the year?!  Here are a few prayer requests, please pray…

1.    Permanent visas – as you know we applied for our PERMANENT residency visas back in August of 2012.  I called Immigration NZ and discovered that they haven’t even assigned our paperwork to any case worker yet!  So it’s still sitting in some pile of applications on someone’s desk somewhere!  And our current TEMPORARY WORK visas expire in 21 days!  So I am in the process of filling out more applications to renew/extend our current temporary visas while they process our permanent ones.  But Immigration said that can take a month or 2 to process!  So while they are processing our temporary visas, we need an INTERIM visa just to stay in the country.  Ahhh!  Please pray that we get the INTERIM visa so we can get the TEMPORARY work visas so we can eventually get our PERMANENT residency visas!

2.    M – the recipient of my kidney has agreed to go through the Gospel of Mark with me!  He still hasn’t made a decision for Jesus yet, but he is close!  He says he wants to ‘learn more’ before he makes up his mind.  Pray that we have awesome times in God’s Word and that God will speak to him and bring him to the point of accepting Jesus.  We will start in Mark in a couple weeks and hopefully will do it weekly or every other week.

3.    Z’s friend – our 8 year old son had shared the Gospel with his classmate a couple months ago and his friend had prayed to accept the Lord!  For Christmas, Z bought his friend a bible.  And now his mom and him read it often at night.  She said it was a very special gift for them!  I talked to her about her son’s new faith and she said she thinks it’s great – she wants him to learn Christian values and morals.  She said she grew up in a nominal Christian home, but never practiced her faith.  Her husband is agnostic.  Pray that we can continue to be an influence in their lives as we seek to point them to Jesus.

4.    T’s friend – T had also prayed with her schoolmate and teammate (basketball) a few months ago to accept the Lord.  But we haven’t had a chance to talk to her parents about her faith.  Now that basketball is over, we don’t see them as much.  Pray that we can talk to them soon about faith and Jesus.

5.    School – the kids are on summer holidays at the moment (it’s summer in the southern hemisphere now) and will start school in less than 4 weeks.  T will start middle school (year 7)!  J will start his last year of middle school (year 8)!  And Z and D are still in primary/elementary school – years 4 and 2 respectively.  Wow!  Pray they start well and  that they can be light and salt for Jesus with their schoolmates.