Archive for 2012
As a writer, I have often contemplated the books I want to write. I toss around so many various ideas, wondering what to focus on first. One book idea I keep coming back to is an attempt to share the general argument of God’s existence and attempt to showcase His goodness. I want to show how GOOD He is and debunk all the misconceptions and poor assumptions about Him being seen or portrayed as a distant, spiteful or nonexistent entity. I know people need to experience God to really “get it”, but I do think there is room for giving a general overview of the Bible narrative, explaining how God’s desire for our lifestyles is GOOD, which makes sense for the betterment and safety of society. It’s not bogus religiosity, but kind, loving and purposeful for mankind. It makes sense. As I contemplate writing this book, I often come back to the bottom line—that in addition to the redeeming message of Christ, what’s so beautiful about God is that His ways are the best ways. They are nothing but LOVE.
If each person on this earth actually adhered to His ways, the world would be one overflowing with peace, kindness, patience, humility and goodwill. It’s a provokative thought. Why do people not see this? They’d rather operate out of anger, vengeance, jealously, pride, pain.
In the Facebook world, we each have a platform. Everyone is a “preacher” in a sense and can tout their opinions to a mass audience. I, like most, have a wide-range of friends with varying degrees of beliefs or lack-thereof, about God. A few months ago I wrote a status post about wanting to share particular Bible passages that SHOW the goodness that is in the Bible. I explained that I want unbelieving friends to SEE what’s in there, as often they aren’t exposed to the rich, wonderful wisdom that God has recorded for us—like loving your neighbor, being patient, not worrying, etc. I guess I see so many people discrediting the Bible without actually knowing what’s in there. This desire flows into the desire to write a book on the topic. It seems there has been a recent surge of mockery against Christianity and the principles in the Bible on a growing scale, making it appear as though anyone who could possibly follow the Bible is delusional. Bascially I want to show a different side of this argument.
In Galatians 5 we can see it put clearly. When we allow God’s spirit to help counsel and guide us, we start to walk in His ways.
- 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
- 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want.18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
- 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
- 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited,provoking and envying each other.
Wow. What a world that would be if we lived a life in God. As we draw near to Him, we reflect Him back out into the world. He opens our eyes and our lives begin to “bear fruit”. I’d love to see people stop blaming God for bad things that happen, when PEOPLE and their bad decisions are the problem. God shows us the way to good living, and I don’t think anyone truly has a good argument against that.
Three weeks ago Noah and I were on a date. I remember driving down, along the beautiful bay, talking about the gospel. Noah was sharing how it’s been hard not seeing many Christian conversions lately. The “ground” here as felt so “hard” to us and to many around us. I assured him, “We are going to see it babe. A time is coming.”
We have heard God speak so often about His desire and plan to make the soil fertile here in New Zealand. So many Christians we have met talk about this and it’s exciting to witness the sense of unity that we all feel similiar, knowing that God is preparing a move of his Spirit in Christchurch and New Zealand. However, it’s hard waiting for that in the meantime. You can get down, wondering when things will start to get going… when God’s fire is gonna sweep through and draw people to Him… wondering about our roles in the whole big, beautiful move of God that’s prophesied to come.
Well, this week, God brought about the very thing we talked about on our date to our home.
We have to remind ourselves that a “move of God” is not only a big scale time of anointing on a place and a people, but also a massive collection of small interactions—the nitty, gritty, real-life situations with hurting people.
Monday night Noah was out on a walk with a friend, pushing Sparrow in the stroller. I was doing chores and while putting the rubbish bin out on the street I heard what sounded like yet another domestic dispute. This happens every few months in our neighborhood, so it wasn’t surprising. Sometimes we investigate to make sure it doesn’t escalate and sometimes we end up calling the cops. This time I just had a sense to go out and talk to them.
To make a long story short, I eventually calmed down the situation, persuaded the young couple to stay the night at our place because their current living situation was dangerous. They were shocked I wasn’t “like everyone else who call the cops” and that we actually cared about them.
Without getting into too many details, (as we want to protect their identities and stories) they both opened up to me about everything going on in their lives and in their pasts (which are pretty intense and sad). It was awesome to see their openness to what we had to share as we opened our home, offered hot drinks and talked in a “safe place”. As they opened up to me, it became so easy to talk about God. Sometimes it flows, sometimes it doesn’t—this time it felt right. I even had the honor of praying with the girl for salvation! It’s awesome being able to be a part of what God is orchestrating in someone’e life.
They have been here a week now as they search for a new place to live. We’ve had many good conversations about God and healthy lifestyles. What continues to amaze me, not just with this couple, but with most people who have stayed here, is that each person has mentioned they feel at peace here. Believers and non-believers. I continue to tell them that it’s God’s presence, not us. Just today the girl said to me, “I am going to miss this. It’s so peaceful. It’s like I walk in and I leave my problems at the door.” AMEN. God is so good and loving. His PEACE surpasses all understanding.
Once they move out we hope to continue building the friendship and meet with them regularly.Please pray for us as we continue to build trust with them and that God will pour into their lives and continue to reveal His amazing goodness to them. As you know, starting out in your faith, especially if it’s all new to you, can be a crazy journey!
I have learned so much from this situation and I wanted to share a few bits and pieces with you.
1. Don’t be afraid to get involved. God can use you in unpredictable ways.
2. Be generous. God will take care of the generous giver of time, money, possessions. Even when the bank account is low. Just do it. (Luke 21:1-4)
3. Be available for others even when it’s inconvenient. God honors your sacrifice and the coolest stuff happens when we stop living for just ourselves.
4. God can use you in your weakest moment. (The night they arrived, I had horrible insomnia and slept 2 hours. I was knackerd to say the least, but I felt God laying it on my heart to serve them, cook for them, run errands for them, converse with them, etc.). God showed me that even in my own personal weakness I can still serve Him. I feel He has brought be a long way. When we first moved here I was not keen to always opening our home and being available at any moment. I struggled often. I (we) have now learned so much about serving others, setting guidelines, communicating, being available, etc. This week has shown me how God still wants to use us when we feel we can give the least, because HE is our STRENGTH!
5. People just want to be loved. Your kindness will open doors.
You can be praying for this lovely couple as they continue on their journey. Thanks!
This year God has been shaking me (Kate) awake (literally). And drawing me back to what He has personally asked of me specifically to be focusing on here.
When God speaks to us, sometimes it’s easy to obey. Other times it means laying down what we’d rather do. And that’s the hard part. When obedience isn’t easy breezy we can catch ourselves reasoning ourselves out of things. What I’ve learned so far on this adventure with God, in regards to obedience, is you might as well obey the first time, because He won’t relent. He will just keep pursuing you, in sometimes not so easy ways, to get your attention and bring you back to a place of listening and obeying.
We see it over and over AND OVER in the Old Testament. God asking His people to do certain things, they ignore or disobey him or lack the faith to follow through—things get ugly. Thankfully when they finally return to Him and listen, God lovingly forgives and continues to speak and guide.
Often I’ve heard people say, “How could the Israelites be so disobedient? How come they didn’t get it?” It’s easy to judge from our big-picture view. But don’t we do the same thing sometimes? Go in circles? Forget about God? Ignore His directions? Lack faith when He tells us to do something specific?
Thankfully God is gracious with us too. He knows we are flawed and in need of His mercy to try again. Pslam 107 really speaks to me on this topic.
For me, it’s been a matter of one specific task. I make time for all other things besides this one thing. I can fill up my time doing all sorts of good things, but if I don’t obey the ONE thing He asks, none of the other things really matter if all I am asked to do is the one thing I couldn’t manage to do.
Noah recently was flown up to Tauranga, on the north island for a work project. He has been hired on to work on several YWAM websites over the years here. The YWAM base in Tauranga, where I did my DTS, hired him on to do a few websites. This week he flew up to join the team for three days where they nutted out plans for a current website and Noah was able to work on that as well as see a bit of the base and surrounding sites.
Tauranga is a fairly large town by NZ standards and MUY HERMOSA! I was a bit jealous I wasn’t able to tag along to see old friends and the beautiful scenery. Here are a few photos from his travels.
We have a busy girl on our hands. Ever since she was born she was wriggly, always practicing holding her head up, and continually observing the world around her. She is now 6 months old and seems to be just on the verge of taking over the house! Happy Half-Birthday little birdie! She now has FIVE teeth (update: now 7 teeth!), army-crawls like crazy, and has started eating things like pureed sweet potato, mashed banana and brown rice cereal. She has quite the serious face as she takes in everything around her, but will occasionally break out in a contagious laugh or flash her heart-melting smile. We’ve both been adjusting to what it is to be parents and learned so much through the journey. I thank God for her daily and am so grateful she’s a happy child who loves to cuddle! The hardest thing is being far from our immediate and extended families. While we plow ahead here, we also look forward to the time we will be near family again and be able to share memories as we raise our child(ren) near grandparents, aunties and uncles… for now we appreciate the surrogate aunties and uncles in her life here. =)
I read a devotional book recently that mentioned how God asks us: “Seek to please me above all else”. Not in the “I have to work to please God” way… but in the “I love God so much I really do want to live the way He intends. I want to follow Him” way. So this is one of our mandates, as followers of Christ—continually, willingly working on refinement as the Lord reveals our crap… and loving others along the way.
I remember friends at my church in Florida used to always refer to God as continually peeling back our layers like an onion. Just as one layer is revealed, there’s another one underneath that and so on. Only God knows all the deep layers of insecurities, pain, habits and sin issues we carry… and only He can reveal those in us and refine us to become more like Him in the process. This has been so true in my life, especially since 2004 when I came back to Christ.
When we submit to God, He changes us from the inside out.
Lately, the main area I really want to see cleaned up is my response to things. I have been working on it… training myself to think a moment before I react to something. You know, taking time to think about what to say before having an emotional response to Noah or family or friends. Sometimes I think, “What if I was talking to Jesus? Would I talk to Him that way?” No way. There wouldn’t be a hint of attitude or judgement or arrogance—that’s for sure. God asks us to be kind, slow to anger, peace-loving.
I know the more time I spend with God and the more I soak in HIS ways, it’s seems easy to reflect Him. When we lay down our junky, selfish ways, His ways can shine upon us and through us much more easily. The murkiness of our lives clears. Our harshness softens. His perfection rubs off on us a bit, and we suddenly “see the light”.
When we were at a YWAM leaders gathering a few weeks ago someone mentioned how “still waters reflect”. That image has been with me since then.
Still waters reflect.
Choppy waters on a lake or ocean are in their own world—chaotic and dark. They don’t have much chance to reflect the beautiful sky above. But still, quiet waters are mirrors, reflecting the light above. They are quite beautiful and peaceful to behold. I don’t want to be like choppy waters. I want to be still, calm, peaceful and radiating a reflection of God. If we are STILL and spending time with the Lord, we are apt to shine His ways to all those around us.
Here is Noah helping teach at the newly launched Code Club! (They teach, for free, computer programing for 9 weeks, then at a later stage Noah will teach graphic design.) They all have dinner, teach, have dessert, teach, then take the kids home.
And there’s the finished kitchen that Noah planned and installed!
No, we haven’t met the Prime Minister of New Zealand, but our friend Michael, who is staying here at our house for a few weeks, is meeting him tomorrow. Not familiar with the PM? His name is John Key, and he’s the big man in charge, like the President of the US, but under the queen of England, as New Zealand is a commonwealth country.
They are having a meeting about a project he started in Christchurch that Noah has been a part of. Michael came up with this idea to help underprivileged youth in Christchurch by running free coding classes and graphic design classes at this local outreach center that they have been helping get running (you’ll recall this if you’ve seen other posts I’ve written on this). Michael will teach coding while Noah will teach graphic design. Michael and Noah and other talented men and women have been helping construct the interior of the outreach center (which is the brainchild of Mel, an amazing woman here who gives her life to others, also mentioned in other posts). They got nice Apple computers donated from a nice school on the other side of town, via a friend who works there.
The other day Michael’s company came down from Auckland (who is backing Michael’s idea financially) to visit the outreach center. Noah attended and both he and Michael talked to some local youth who attended (who are from the roughest school in the city), sharing the idea with them. Many were interested to be a part of the classes (which was a surprise to everyone actually that these teen guys were showing signs of excitement). Here are some pictures.
So tomorrow Michael and his company are meeting with the Prime Minister in Auckland to talk to him about starting these types of outreach classes all over the country, and about getting an online class initiated for these youths that can count toward college credits.
Today Michael was showing me the presentation he is doing for the PM… and showed me a little coding lesson he is giving him, which I did. Fun! Afterward a little cartoon of the PM pops up on the screen. Here is a snapshot of it:
It’s such a wonderful idea that Michael came up with, to help get youth thinking about their future and working on their talents. It’s amazing how he’s gotten the support of his tech company to support this initiative. I am stoked Noah gets to be involved by helping get the center going and by doing classes in the future. And all thanks to Mel who gives her life away for her neighbors and the kids… woo woo!
UPDATED PHOTOS FROM MEETING JOHN KEY
We shared awhile ago that Noah has been involved with helping reconstruct a space that is being transformed into “The Palace”. It’s a youth center, totally put together by Mel Hillier here in Christchurch through donations from heaps of various people and companies. Noah helped with various interior construction projects to help make it what it is today. This evening he helped set up the new computer space that will host a coding club for guys interested in learning coding! Here are some pics, taken by Mel.
So proud of these guys and all those who’ve lent time and money! Mel’s heart is inspiring, and she really makes things happen!
Other photos of the center… almost ready to open.