Baptist Churches of New Zealand
HOLY HOLY HOLY Virtues to Die for
Most Needed Often Neglected
Bursting into Flame
GRACE DISCERNED â€ AN EASTER REFLECTION
| A p r i l / M a y 2 0 1 7 | v. 1 3 3 n o . 2 |
WHO IS LIKE
Recently added IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL/ IN CHRIST ALONE Learning from hymns that have gone before us (Continuation of series)
~ WILLIAM CHONG GROWING AN INTERGENERATIONAL CHURCH Connecting our children to a place where they belong
~ DIANA LANGDON FALSE START Considering what ‘becoming nothing’ might not look like (Extract from The Abbot’s Shoes)
~ PETER ROBERTSON
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O LORD, AMONG THE GODS? WHO IS LIKE
MAJESTIC IN H O L I N E S S , AW E S O M E IN SPLENDOR, DOING WONDERS? ~Exodus 15:11 EDITOR Sarah Vaine email@example.com ADVERTISING Marelize Bester firstname.lastname@example.org MAGAZINE MANAGER Jill Hitchcock email@example.com ART DIRECTOR Rebecca McLeay | WindsorCreative GLOBAL MISSION EDITOR Greg Knowles
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__ Baptist Churches of New Zealand PO Box 12-149, Penrose, Auckland 1642, New Zealand 09 526 0338 __ Printing Image Print, Auckland __ Photography lightstock.com, istockphoto.com, bigstockphoto.com Front cover: Forgiven Photography/lightstock.com __ Scripture Unless otherwise specified, Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. __ The NZ Baptist Magazine is the magazine of the Baptist Churches of New Zealand and the New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society.
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Distributed through local Baptist churches in New Zealand and dependent on their contributions. ISSN 1176-8711. A member of the Australasian Religious Press Association.
“Holy”— pure, set apart, other, transcendent
CONTENT 04 08 12
A word from the editor As we reflect upon some of the attributes of God this year, there is one (at least) which is very difficult to sum up—God’s holiness. In exploring this, I have appreciated Tozer’s words: “We cannot grasp the true meaning of the divine holiness... It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible, and unattainable.”1 But we have to start somewhere! Here, we consider Isaiah’s vision of a holy God in Isaiah 6 that effects this response: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5) Perhaps we could begin from such a posture! We also consider some practical realities for our lives as we follow God’s call, and reflect on our need for the Holy Spirit to help us. Some say that to begin to understand God, we must begin with his holiness. Maybe we should have begun our exploration this year of who God is with holiness—we began with grace. But somehow beginning with grace enables us to approach holiness. As we get into this issue, I wonder if a line from Faber’s hymn “My God How Wonderful Thou Art” might sum up our stance: “Lord, we worship thee with trembling hope.” For our God is a holy God.
~Sarah Vaine 1. A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (Milton Keynes, UK: Authentic Media, 2005), 127.
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Holy, holy, holy
CHILD & FAMILY
Bursting into flame—helping children draw near to a holy God CULTURE
Virtues to die for
Most needed often neglected—holiness and leadership FAMILY NEWS
An Easter reflection: Aloka’s story Stories Small bits Opportunities to serve
Baptist / F E A T U R E
D i s ce rne d Empowered through Christ to be a reformation people
IN FEBRUARY 2016, BAPTIST LEADERSHIP TEAMS GATHERED TO CONSIDER HOW WE APPROACH THE PRIORITY OF MISSION WITHIN NEW ZEALAND. FIVE PRIORITIES EMERGED, CENTRED ON THE THEME OF GRACE, AND BAPTIST CHURCHES ARE BEING ENCOURAGED TO EXPLORE THESE THIS YEAR. HERE, CRAIG VERNALL REFLECTS UPON ONE OF THESE PRIORITIES—WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DISCERN GRACE?
is my privilege today to talk about discerning grace. Now, discernment is an act of the Spirit. It is to be in tune with what the living God is talking to us about, and to hear his voice. It’s the very essence, I believe, of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. I want to share some of the significant times in my life that have taught me about grace. These are times that have caused me, and my church, to go in certain directions, and they have given us confidence that we are hearing the voice of God. Now, sometimes these journeys can seem like two steps forward and one step backwards—just enough to keep us humble I guess—but I hope that some of this learning can help you. These following words from Romans have been tremendously formative in my life, and I want to take us through them because they will give you an understanding of what has driven me over the years.
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something wrong. We are instead married to a new husband, called grace, who encourages and strengthens us, and whose Spirit is sent to empower us. That’s amazing news. “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing” (Galatians 2:19-21). Grace wins us by dying for our sin. Grace saves us for eternity. But moreover, grace empowers us (like a loving husband would) for the present and the future. That’s amazing news. This revelation set my life on fire. It set me in a direction that allowed me to see that relationship with Christ is a covenant relationship, of course, but it is also a relationship of mutual love and of empowerment. This understanding of grace is present and active in my life, and in the lives of those I have the opportunity to lead. This is the privilege of grace.
Nothing except Jesus Christ I love this line from the Apostle Paul: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Why? Because that’s all he needed to say! When Paul went to the different towns and villages, he sat down and said to the people there: “Let me tell you about the man Jesus Christ. Let me tell you about my new husband, because I have died to the old law. Let me tell you about Jesus and the goodness he brings. Let me tell you about the miracles he did. Let me tell you about the covenant he’s made.” You can imagine the people saying to him, “Paul, could you talk about end times?” And his reply: “No, no, no—I’m going to talk to you about Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Perhaps you can hear the question, “Paul, do you know about this sort of worship and how we should do it?” And again: “No…I only know about Jesus Christ and him crucified.” “Paul, can you speak about anything else?!” “There’s only one thing that I want to tell you about—Jesus Christ and him crucified. This is all that you need. This is the new covenant. He is our new husband, and I would suggest that you walk down the aisle and meet him.” Paul only had one message because it was good news; powerful news; lifechanging news. This is the grace of God. Transformed to see reform As messengers of this grace, we will see God working through our words and actions. Over time, we will encounter the miraculous and the impossible being done in and through our everyday Christian lives. It’s the day-by-day transaction of grace that gives us confidence that we’re being led by God.
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An analogy from marriage “Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only during that person’s lifetime? Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress” (Romans 7:1-3). At first glance, this passage appears to be a discussion about marriage. But it’s not about marriage: it’s an analogy that describes us as married people—married to a husband called the Old Testament law. When we are married to this law, we cannot separate ourselves from the marriage and make a new covenant, because by doing so we would be committing adultery. But the trouble with this husband, the law, is that it is very demanding and very controlling. It never speaks until we do something wrong, it intimidates us and hovers over us, and it always corrects us but never encourages us. We have no freedom to defend ourselves; if we violate the law, then we are lawbreakers and the law will condemn us. And the worst thing about this husband, the law, is that it never dies. It is alive and active today. Subsequently, there is only one way out of this marriage. Romans goes on to explain: “In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit” (Romans 7:4-6). What Paul is saying here is that the only way we can escape this marriage to the Old Testament law is by dying. Then comes the good news: Jesus Christ came to this world and lived a perfect life—perfectly perfect—and that perfect life has been credited to us. It’s as if Jesus went into our exam, took our exam, and we got 100%. That’s good news. But there’s even better news: not only has the life of Christ been credited to us, but the death of Christ has been credited to us as well. And when the death of Christ has been credited to us, it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives within us. And it is on that basis that we can depart from our old husband, the law. Why? Because we have died: we have died in Christ and therefore we are free to marry another. And who is our new husband? It is the husband of grace—the person of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. That is the gospel—that’s why it is called good news: we are no longer married to that which intimidates us, frightens us, holds us in abeyance, and only speaks when we do
Baptist / F E A T U R E
D I S C E R N I N G W H AT W E C A N ’ T U N D E R S TA N D When I first arrived at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Neale was a one‑man cheerleading team. Whatever I did, Neale cheered me on. He’s one of those guys that every pastor needs when they’ve had a bad day! Neale drove a Kenworth, and one day something catastrophic happened. The truck jackknifed and Neale went flying through the windscreen, sustaining a serious brain injury. After weeks in hospital, Neale was sent home but he had amnesia, was reliant on his wife, Lin, for personal care, and days were spent staring vacantly into space. We had an intern, David, in our church at this time, and he went to see Neale. Lin told David that Neale had woken up in the middle of the night repeating a phrase: “Two men, and a third man in the middle who is really bright.” Now, David was discerning. He called me and said, “I wonder if Neale’s dream could be you, me, and Jesus. Should we go and pray for him?” “Well,” I thought. “You’re the intern…full of faith!” And so we went around and prayed for Neale. Within thirty seconds, Neale began to shake….like vibrate…like something supernatural was going on. David and I wondered if this was good or bad, but we just kept praying. We prayed whatever came into our mouth; the sort of stuff that you can’t remember afterwards. After about ten minutes, the shaking subsided. Then Neale opened his eyes. He looked at David, and looked at me, and he said, “David. Craig. What are you doing here?” “We’ve been praying for you,” we replied. “Why?!” “You had a bad truck accident, and you’ve been really hurt,” we explained. Neale, unsurprisingly, was a bit disorientated. We tried to fill in some of the details and we grabbed a magazine from the coffee table to show him how long he’d been unwell for. “It’s February. You had the truck accident in November.” “Really?!” He paused. “I missed Christmas!” Slightly disorientated ourselves, we responded, “Yes... you did... but Neale—this is a miracle!” “Is it?!” Neale paused again. “But I missed Christmas!” Well, we were bawling our eyes out and Neale was wondering what was going on! “What’s wrong?!” he asked. We kept trying to explain what had happened. With that, Lin went to get Neale a glass of water. She walked up to him and put it to his lips—as she had been doing for months. And Neale just looked at her and asked, “What are you doing?!” He took the water off her and drank it himself. Then his daughter came home from school and went racing past us into the kitchen saying, “I’m in a hurry! We have to get Dad to physio!” Well, Neale stood up... walked into the kitchen...and gave his daughter a hug. All we heard was the scream from his daughter. She could not believe what she had seen!” You know, It’s moments like these that give me strength—because I’ve been there when other folk have passed away despite my prayers. If I knew what I did right in this instance, I would can it and sell it! But you can’t can the grace of God. Grace is beyond our understanding, and even in the midst of our discernment, we don’t get to know what God is doing all of the time.
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Such reformation is created by the transformational presence of God in our lives. This is what we mean when we talk about discerning grace. We’re not talking about a theological disposition; we’re talking about grace that is tangible and transformational. So our churches must be transformational communities. What do I mean by this? We need to provide space for the Spirit within us to glorify the Son, who will bring glory to the Father. As we do this, the Spirit will be powerful and present. Our churches must be places where our first priority is to worship the Lord, and where we draw people into the presence of God. I often encourage our folks at church to come and have prayer. You won’t get that offer anywhere else—you can’t say, “Can I have a burger, fries, and prayer please?” We must be different from what is out in the world and we need to be places where transformation can happen.
Reformation is created by ministering where the life is We also need to be discerning what God is doing, and what he wants to do in our lives. When I graduated from Carey Baptist College, my heart was filled with faith and hope...lots of hope... and more hope. I graduated in the year that the ‘Toronto Blessing’ became a phenomenon around a lot of the church world, but despite being filled with faith and hope, I have to admit that I just didn’t know what to do with it. We had a weekend of prayer and ministry, but in the week afterwards I was really seeking God and asking, “Lord, what do we do with this phenomenon?” I sensed him reply, “Craig, if you can trust me I’ll give you a Bethlehem blessing.” In return I asked, “Lord, what does that look like?” His response was, “Just one day at a time.”
What I’m saying here is that we don’t need to look for second-hand anointings or blessings. My God, your God, is big enough and powerful enough to meet us where we are at. I want to encourage you that there can be a Pakuranga blessing, a Kaiapoi blessing, a St Albans blessing, an Otumoetai blessing, and a Whakatane blessing. We can’t compromise who we are at the altar of expediency by trying to pick up where somebody else has left off. Perhaps it’s like this story. Years ago, we got a new camera. One night, there was a big lightning storm and so I decided to capture some pictures. Every time the lightning illuminated the sky, I went ‘click.’ But when I took my film into the developer, what did I get back? Photo after photo of black skies. You see, the lightning had occurred, and as it was riveted in my eyes, I had taken a picture. But I had taken a picture after it had passed. It seems
at times that God does something amazing somewhere else—like a lightning bolt—and it is a blessing, it brings power, and it brings light. But it can’t necessarily be captured. I want to ask you to have the courage to ask for a blessing from God wherever you are at. God is big enough. He doesn’t have favourites. We are all his children. Ask him: “Lord, what is going on in this church that needs to be blessed by you?”
Closing thoughts We Baptists are a reformation people. After nearly one hundred years of following Luther’s extravaganza of revelation, a conversation began and the Baptist church family was born. We are a reformation people. But in talking about reformation, and all that it can bring, we must start with Christ and let his Spirit lead us. This, for me, is an exciting time to be living. I think we are in a time
of reformation. So let us allow the grace of God in us to inspire us to good works, and may we be each other’s cheerleaders.
Story: Craig Vernall Craig is the National Leader of the Baptist Churches of New Zealand. This article is adapted from a talk given by Craig at the Baptist Hui 2016. You can view a video of the whole talk at lifelonglearning.nz/grace-discerned, which contains more stories about God’s grace. We acknowledge the work of Ken Blue. His exploration and communication of grace first impacted Craig twenty-five years ago, and has continued to influence his life since.
Take outs... 1. Where have you discerned God’s grace in your life? 2. How does your church practice glorifying God? Have you seen this bring transformation?
吀 匀 䤀 吀 䈀䄀倀 䌀䔀 一 䔀 刀 䘀䔀 䨀甀渀攀 䌀伀㈀一 㘀ⴀ㈀㠀
⸀ 䔀焀甀椀瀀 ⸀ 䔀洀瀀漀眀攀爀 ⸀ 䔀渀最愀最攀
䠀甀琀琀 䌀椀琀礀 䈀愀瀀琀椀猀琀
䐀伀䤀一䜀 䴀䤀一䤀匀吀刀夀 䤀一 䄀 䬀䤀圀䤀 圀䄀夀 戀愀瀀琀椀猀琀⸀漀爀最⸀渀稀
刀漀戀礀渀 䴀攀氀氀愀爀ⴀ匀洀椀琀栀 ☀ 䨀愀礀 䰀甀挀愀猀 䄀氀猀漀㨀 ㈀ 䔀氀攀挀琀椀瘀攀猀
3. How can you encourage your church, and those in other churches, to continue discerning the grace of God?
匀瀀攀愀欀攀爀猀㨀 䌀爀愀椀最 嘀攀爀渀愀氀氀Ⰰ 䄀氀氀愀渀 吀愀礀氀漀爀Ⰰ 䈀爀漀漀欀 吀甀爀渀攀爀Ⰰ 䨀漀栀渀 吀甀挀欀攀爀Ⰰ
Baptist / D I S C I P L E S H I P
Holy Holy Holy What does the Bible tell us about the holiness of God?
WHAT IS GOD REALLY LIKE? IN SOME WAYS, THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO ANSWER. IN OTHER WAYS, PERHAPS WE HAVE BECOME OVERFAMILIAR WITH OUR OWN INTERPRETATIONS. HERE, TIM BULKELEY TAKES A FRESH LOOK AT ISAIAH’S ENCOUNTER WITH THE HOLINESS OF GOD IN ISAIAH 6, AND ASKS WHAT IT MEANS FOR US.
hen was the last time you looked at Isaiah 6? Grab your Bible and have a read. Then come back here after enjoying Isaiah’s vision and we’ll take a deeper look together. What did you think? I love the sensory overload, sound, and drama of Isaiah’s vision in the temple. I also love the mystery, and not least the puzzling, paradoxical mission that the prophet is given. Let’s keep going.
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Ancient worship Back in the day, one of my favourite hymns was “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise.” It is interesting to note that this hymn begins with descriptors like “immortal” and “invisible.” Writing teachers tell you to avoid negative descriptors depicting absent features, and this hymn starts with twoand-a-half in the first line. (I say two-and-a-half because I’m not quite sure if “God only wise” counts as a negative descriptor—it means God is the only one who is really wise.) But when you are describing God—God with a capital G; the maker of everything—then negative descriptors are almost what you are stuck with: God is not limited, not stupid, nor hateful. God is not like us. Nor is God an animal or a thing. Of course, you can say what God is ‘like.’ God is like a king, or like a mother bear with her cubs. But then you need to qualify the simile and remember that God is not prone to flattery or favouritism as kings can be; nor is God savage and clumsy as bears can be. Trying to say what God is like soon has us back on the negative route as we remember that he is not really like anything we can describe at all. “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” also uses paradoxes in its attempt to speak the unspeakable mystery of God. God is described as “in light inaccessible hid from our eyes.” I love the apparent contradiction in the description of the uncreated light being so bright that we cannot see. That’s what God is like. In the same way, Isaiah’s vision uses paradoxes and negative descriptors as it describes the wonder and mystery of God. If you enjoyed Isaiah’s account of what he saw, then you’ll get even more from it if you give me two minutes for a quick lesson in ancient history. Ancient history Isaiah 6 starts with a date - “the year that King Uzziah died” (Isaiah 6:1). That means little today; few of us even know who Uzziah was. But in Isaiah’s day, it was a watershed year. Uzziah had been a good king in Judah; strong and God-fearing. Not long after his death, a new, more powerful king began to rule in Assyria (the superpower in Mesopotamia to Judah’s east). King Tiglath Pileser III of Assyria, during his reign, defeated the rival nation of Babylon and extended his empire west to the Mediterranean Sea. As a result, the politics and survival of Judah depended on the events and decisions of Mesopotamian empires. Therefore, “the year that King Uzziah died” marked (with the benefit of hindsight as Isaiah remembers and retells his vision) the end of Judah’s independence and the start of her subservience to Assyria. Fast-forward a number of years and Ahaz, Uzziah’s grandson, was king of Judah. Isaiah 7 tells of efforts by the northern Hebrew kingdom (Israel), with Damascus (in Syria), to involve Ahaz in rebellion against Assyria.
I F W E T H I N K W E R E A L LY K N O W G O D , T H E N W H AT WE KNOW IS NOT GOD, B U T AT B E S T A M E R E S H A D O W A N D AT W O R S T A C A R I C AT U R E O F W H O G O D R E A L LY I S . Isaiah counselled King Ahaz to trust God, but Ahaz accepted Assyrian ‘aid’ against Israel and Damascus instead. From then on, Judah was an Assyrian client state. Placing the vision of chapter six just before the account in chapter seven suggests that Isaiah is telling us about his vision as he remembers it (at the time when King Ahaz was accepting dependency on Assyria instead of on God). As we read his vision, we know (as Isaiah knew) that the hope Ahaz had in Assyria to protect Judah’s independence was futile, and that by contrast the trust in God that King Uzziah showed is the only true path to lasting peace. Read against this early imperial context, Isaiah saw God enthroned. Like all lords and kings, God is “high and lofty” (Isaiah 6:1). Well, they all are! Rulers sit on bigger chairs or stand on platforms so that they look more important. And yet, in a world with many lords and lots of kings, including a ‘king of kings’ (the emperor of Assyria), we see here that God is like no other lord or king—just the hem of his robe fills the temple in Jerusalem where the prophet was mourning the faithful King Uzziah.
Fiery, flying snakes God—the creator of everything—is not, however, merely bigger than human dictators. God is also holy. That’s what the seraphim (flying, fiery snakes) shout at each other: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3). The rest of what they say proclaims God’s holiness. God’s reputation and authority—his glory—is everywhere. These seraphim shout about God’s holiness and glory so loudly that the building shakes and fills with smoke—their declaration causes an earthquake! (Isaiah 6:4) We sing in our worship songs about the holiness of God, but somehow it doesn’t seem to have the same effect! Indeed, the effect on (the respectable establishment figure of) the prophet Isaiah is quite dramatic too (Isaiah 6:5). Basically, he says: “Yikes, like the people around me, I am full of sin. Yet I’ve seen the king—Yhwh of hosts.” In response, one of the terrible seraphim purifies him with fire and burns away his guilt and shame.
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Baptist / D I S C I P L E S H I P
Holy makes you shake with fear and tremble with guilt. Holy is a fire that burns. At its heart, when the Bible talks about God’s holiness it is saying that God is ‘other.’ God is not like what we know and are comfortable with. If we think we really know God, then what we know is not God, but at best a mere shadow and at worst a caricature of who God really is. Holy makes you shake with fear and tremble with guilt. Holy is a fire that burns (Hebrews 12:29).
Terrific visions and terrible danger If Isaiah’s vision in the temple does not give you a healthy fear of God’s terrific otherness, then join the procession as David leads the ark to Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 6. Watch as someone reaches out a hand to steady the holy symbol of God’s presence (v.5)—it is surely terrible to watch them die beside the cart (v.6). Or, read some of C.S. Lewis’ analogy of God’s holiness in Aslan the lion: “Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” ...“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; ...“Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe…”1
Another lesson on history and holiness Actually, if we stop here we have told less than half the story. The Assyrians also talked of their chief god, Assur, in ways that sound surprisingly like Isaiah’s vision of the one God.
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Certainly Assur’s holiness was seen to be dangerous and ‘other’ and some of their texts (known to us since the late 1800s, but still being deciphered) seem to suggest that other ‘gods’ reveal aspects of Assur’s power. Words recorded from Assyrian prophets speak of all the gods, acting as one, appointing the king. In one prophecy, the speaker (on behalf of Assur) claims to be multiple gods: Bel (another name for Marduk, god of Babylon), Ishtar (the mother-goddess), and Nabu (god of writing).2 Isaiah’s vision in the temple, describing the one lord who governs the whole world, might well have described a vision of Assur! We need to ask then, what distinguished Isaiah’s (and the rest of the Old Testament’s) understanding of God’s holiness from the cultural religious ideas of the day? For the Bible, it is a question of ethics and power.
The holiness of ethics Assur’s prophecies, recorded in the Assyrian annals, support the human king and mostly defend the status quo. By contrast, Yhwh’s prophecies (recorded in Isaiah and the other prophetic books of the Bible) regularly criticise kings, and demand that structures of power and wealth be overruled. According to Yhwh’s prophets, those who abuse power to oppress or diminish the weak and powerless offend God’s holiness. In Isaiah 5 (which prepares the ground for the vision of chapter six), Isaiah imagines a strange love song sung to a vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-2) but calls the Judeans to judge between lover and vineyard (v.3). As the complex literary work reaches its conclusion, we learn that injustice and oppression by the powerful against the powerless offends God’s holiness and leads to destruction (Isaiah 5:7-15). By contrast, “the LORD of hosts is exalted by justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy by righteousness” (Isaiah 5:16). An earlier prophet, Amos, expressed it succinctly: such abuse of power causes God to declare “my holy
name is profaned” (Amos 2:7). From the laws of the Pentateuch to the last of the prophets, the writers of the Old Testament agree: God’s holiness requires human justice and mercy that reflects divine justice and mercy. Anything less offends the holiness of God!
The other side of the looking glass In the New Testament, Paul says what we can know of God is like looking at a reflection in a mirror (1 Corinthians 13:12). For Paul, mirrors were handmade sheets of polished metal; reflections were dim and distorted. Often in Scripture such dim and distorted glimpses of what God is like can be helped by offering a look at the other side of the sheet as well. In Isaiah 40:10, we discover that God is like a conquering king returning with the spoils of battle. This is, however, only looking at one side of the mirror. What is seen using the other side is told in the next verse: God is like a shepherd feeding and leading his flock, and cuddling the little lambs. Either picture alone is terribly dim and distorted; together they lead us closer to the wonder and mystery of God. In the case of God’s terrible otherness (his holiness), the other side of the mirror shows his love. From the start God comes down alongside his creatures to heal, correct, and protect. We see this ‘side’ of the picture supremely in Jesus. Yet even in Jesus one side of the mirror is not enough to see God. Jesus is gentle, meek, and mild. But we also see him thrash the money changers out of the temple with a fierce whip (John 2:14-15); we watch with the Gerasenes as Jesus sends demons into pigs who then jump off the cliff like lemmings (Luke 8:33-34); we listen as he warns that death by ‘concrete overshoes’ would be better than what is in store for some of his hearers (Mark 9:42); we observe him in the garden sweating drops of blood because of God’s terrible will (Luke 22:44).
God is not tame—God is holy Let’s take a look again at C.S. Lewis’ analogy of God in Aslan the lion. When we are too comfortable in our knowledge of God and too secure in thoughts of his love, we need to remember that Aslan is not a tame lion! If our idea of God merely remembers and celebrates his love and providence, as too many of our songs suggest, then we need to be reminded of his holiness from the other side of the looking glass. And yet if our sense of God’s holiness ends in fear, then we need to remember God’s goodness. For in Mr. Beaver’s exclamation that “’Course [Aslan] isn’t safe,” there is also a counter-reflection: “But he’s good.”3 I’ve written about God’s holiness from the Old Testament, but you will have noticed that I couldn’t help straying into the New Testament from time-to-time. The God of the Bible is one and the same—holy and loving, terrible and gentle—from start to finish.
Take outs... 1. When have you been most aware of God’s holiness?
Story: Tim Bulkeley Tim is a senior lecturer in Old Testament at the Australian College of Ministries where he teaches by distance from a lifestyle block in the bush of Otanewainuku, Bay of Plenty. Previously he taught at Carey Baptist College and in Congo. He podcasts at 5minuteBible.com.
2. Have you read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? Reflect on the parts of the story that remind you that although Aslan is good, he is not a tame lion.
1. C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (New York: Harper Collins, 2000), 79-80.
3. God’s holiness is quite ‘other’ and even dangerous. Where in contemporary worship is our delight in God’s loving kindness balanced by a sense of awful otherness?
2. James Bennett Pritchard and Daniel E. Fleming, The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures (Woodstock and Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011), 398.
4. Where might God be calling you to reflect his holiness?
3. C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 80.
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Helping children draw near to a holy God
TEACHING CHILDREN ABOUT A HOLY GOD CAN SEEM DAUNTING! WHERE DO YOU EVEN START? HERE, SCRIPTURE UNION NEW ZEALAND CONSIDERS HOW WE CAN ENCOUNTER GOD THROUGH THE BIBLE, AND WE CAUGHT UP WITH ONE KIWI FAMILY WHO HAVE BUILT DAILY RHYTHMS INTO THEIR FAMILY LIFE TO HELP THEM KNOW GOD. WHAT CAN WE LEARN HERE ABOUT THE LIFE-CHANGING HOLINESS OF GOD?
ow do we help children to encounter God’s holiness and live in light of that? I began by asking a group of children I know, “What is holiness?” One astute five year old noticed that the word has a ‘hole’ in it. Others described respect and praise, and associated it with God: “God is pure and good... God is awesome.” And one eight year old summed up holiness in this statement: “God is holy and holiness is someone important and special; someone worthy of praise.” God is holy. That’s a short statement packed with meaning. What my conversation with my young friends highlights is that children are forming their own ideas of what holiness means, and what it means to say that
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God is holy. Our children create meaning from a variety of sources. It may be from an experience they had in church, or from conversation with others. It may be from standing looking at the Milky Way at night. However, it is through the Bible that much of our understanding of holiness is formed.
Encountering holiness The Bible reveals God’s holiness. How we handle the Bible with children affects how they make sense of God and what it means to live a life of faith. I want to offer some thoughts around how to help children draw near to a holy God as shown in Scripture. We will consider how we open the Bible in ways that deepen their relationship with God, so that they in turn desire to reflect God’s holy character. We can begin by committing to exploring the whole Bible with children, not just parts of it. Scripture reveals to us a holy God—from the first “In the beginning” to
the final “Amen.” God’s holiness is demonstrated in the splendour of the Holy of Holies, and in the baby Jesus nursing in his teenage mother’s arms. Experiencing the whole Bible provides our children with a broad and balanced view of God’s character. God’s holiness is displayed in a burning bush that humbles a barefooted Moses, but God’s holiness is also seen in Jesus welcoming a child to himself. A good understanding of the whole scope of Scripture helps to prevent our children from viewing God as either an unappeased parent or our carefree best buddy. I remember vividly sharing the story of Moses and the burning bush with a group of children. As Moses entered a cave and encountered a bush on fire, a hush fell over the children as the moment of suspense grew. And then, in a loud kind of whisper that children specialise in, one young boy gasped, “It’s God! It’s God!” To me, it was truly one of those moments where I felt the words of the Bible
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leap into flame, along with the bush. Isn’t this the experience we desire for our children as they explore the Bible? We want them to encounter God. Regardless of age, stories captivate us. Becoming a good storyteller is an essential tool for any communicator. I believe that the ability to open up the story and capture the imagination of listeners provides space for God to speak. But good storytelling shouldn’t minimise the power of the story, or detract from the awe and mystery that is unfolding. There can be a tendency to jazz up Bible stories to make them more entertaining, and while there is nothing wrong with using humour or drama to draw children into a story, this must never be at the expense of inviting children into God’s presence. Do we need a display of pyrotechnics, or the inclusion of party poppers, at the point that Moses takes off his sandals before the burning bush? “Humans are spiritual beings capable of relationship with the transcendent, and children as well as adults long for such a relationship. To make light of God’s holiness and power is to deprive children of the transcendence, the spiritual in the story. There is much room for fun and humor in the Christian life and ministry with children, but not at the expense of blurring who God really
is, the transcendent one who lovingly chooses to dwell among us.”1 When we open the Bible with children, we create opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work with children’s imaginations—for children to wonder at the mystery of God’s holiness. It is the Holy Spirit who brings Scripture to life, like twigs to flame. Our approach to the Bible therefore needs to allow space for reflection. We can invite questions and conversation about the mystery of God. We can encourage awe and wonder through telling the story in a way that leaves it open to be explored more deeply.
Encountering relationship A child’s relationship with God grows out of a healthy awareness of who God is, and holds in tension his holiness, love, and grace. A right understanding of God’s holiness will lead children into a relationship characterised by reverence for God, and a desire to obey him. However, obedience needs to be motivated by love, and not compulsion. Living a holy life is not determined by living to a set of standards in order to earn favour with God. We must avoid turning the Bible into a version of Aesop’s Fables. This way of reading the Bible takes a story and distils a moral out of it, thereby suggesting that being holy is equated with being good. While we
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certainly want to promote obedience and good choices, the Christian life is far more than following the rules. It is firstly about relationship and it is summed up in that encounter that causes us to cry out, “It’s God! It’s God!” We have a great responsibility to help children grow in their understanding of a holy God. But we can communicate to our children that they can help us too. My young friends don’t need me to figure this all out for them. Rather, I can be living faith out with and alongside them. So, as we look to know more of God, let us together take off our sandals and draw near to God.
Story: Annette Osborne Annette is a children and families worker from Scripture Union New Zealand. 1. Catherine Stonehouse and Scottie May, Listening to Children on the Spiritual Journey (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010), 86.
A Lifestyle of Learning We have some great inspiration in the people of our churches! It was so good to catch up with one family and hear about some of the ways that they have tried to understand God’s holiness, and seek God in each day. Here, both the parents (P) and the kids (K) share their thoughts on the practical ideas that they have explored.
Understanding the holiness of God can be hard! How has your family gone about exploring this? P: Looking back, we have tried to emphasise that the whole point of life is to glorify God. From here, our emphasis has been on growing an understanding of the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). We have been helped a great deal by a book called The Joy of Fearing God, by Jerry Bridges. The fear of the Lord is not about being afraid of God, but it is about the awe that fills us when we realise who God is and what he has done for us. What are some of the cornerstones that you have put in place? P: We have made a point (each weekday morning) of reading memory verses aloud as a family. I guess our view is quite simple—knowing the Bible really, really matters. We have followed this by praying together, and have prayed often that the truth of the Word of God would dwell in our hearts and make us wise (Colossians 3:16). K: Dad has also made us get up at 6 am all our lives! P: Yes, I (Dad) have spent time in the early mornings, with each of the kids individually, reading the Bible and praying. In that sense, I have led the first lesson of the day. It’s the best thing that I have done as a dad. I have learnt so much about each child, and have loved listening to questions—and increasingly trying to come up with answers!
How have you kids found this? K: When we were small, this became a part of our daily lives, and our days felt wrong if they didn’t start with ‘Bibles with Dad.’ It’s a tangible experience—spending
THE WHOLE POINT OF LIFE IS TO GLORIFY GOD.
time with our dad as well as with our heavenly dad. It has cultivated a routine where we set aside time everyday to be with God. Now our days feel wrong if we haven’t intentionally spent time with God.
What else has influenced you as a family? P: In our case, the kids have been significantly impacted by our decision to homeschool up to Year 12, and the way that we have approached this. Essentially, we have created a ‘lifestyle of learning.’ K: It hasn’t been Bible in Schools; it’s been Bible IS School! P: Homeschooling has meant that we have been able to take tangents to discuss thoughts and ideas that have arisen (Deuteronomy 11:19). One of the advantages of taking a homeschooling path is that it allows time to read and learn together. Carefully chosen reading material makes an enormous difference.
Which books have you kids found inspiring? K: We have learnt a lot through reading biographical texts like Hero Tales and Grandpa’s Box. In discussing these, Mum has encouraged us to work out how the lessons and stories could impact our lives and attitudes. Hearing about the Holy Spirit working in the lives of men and women just like us is helpful in understanding that we too could be used by God to do pretty cool things for his glory. With stories like Narnia, we’ve worked out what the characters represent and who we want to be like, and why the characters act in different ways and how that impacts the story. Drawing parallels between our own lives and the stories has made the reading come alive, and helped us understand a world bigger than our own. It has helped us discover that God works in so many different ways. It sounds like listening to stories from other people has been really helpful! P: Yes. We’ve also had ‘boys and girls weekends.’ A group of fathers and grandfathers, over about ten years, have taken either the girls or the boys away for
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WE’VE ASKED ( A N D AT T I M E S I N S I S T E D !) T H AT T H E K I D S P R AY W H E N THINGS GO WRONG. a weekend. On the Saturday evenings, we have spent time listening to a life story of one of the grandfathers. This has led to discussion among the three generations present. Hearing the heart of godly men has been very powerful. K: There was one time when Poppa shared about the faith and stories of all our family ancestors who were pictured in a photo on the wall of the bach we were in. Understanding how God worked in their lives helped us see that faith isn’t just all theory and theology!
So learning from others has been encouraging. Are there other people who you have found inspiring? K: Mum and Dad are inspiring. They pray for us at bedtime, but we also see them praying as well. They are a tangible example of people that are chasing the heart of God, and putting God first in everything. We have learnt, through watching them, about the faithfulness of God. There have been many moments where one of them has remarked, “I was praying about that earlier... and now look...” The way that they both study the Bible is something that we admire—they have often quoted Psalm 119:11 to us (“I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you”). Their knowledge and understanding of the character of God is strengthened through their continuous effort to study the Word—to the point where they seem to have a biblical reference for nearly everything! Seeing people so intentional and passionate about learning more about God and being in relationship with him is something that we have come to admire so much—it’s infectious. Can you think of any other examples where your parents have caused you to think? K: We have a family ‘thankful journal’ that we all contribute to (Mum makes sure this happens even
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when we don’t want to, or we’d rather watch TV!). Writing in this helps us to sift through our days and find the blessings. It has taught us that, through the lens of gratitude, even hard things can be blessings because of the things they teach us. It has cultivated a family atmosphere that is grace-filled—intentionally looking for the good in our days helps us see God’s hand moving more and more. Romans 8:28 (“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose”) has been a verse that we have learnt about as we have looked intentionally through everything to find things to be thankful for. Dad also writes us ‘daddy books.’ P: Yes, I (Dad) have had a tradition of writing a note in a book for the kids, up until the age when they go to bed after me! They are raw, fun, and goofy—it is simply to emphasise that I have noticed things happening in their lives and want to encourage them to grow in character. K: Mum is really good at asking us about the things we are reading or thinking about. In the car on the way home from church, she will ask us questions about the sermon. It means we need to engage and work out our responses to what’s going on around us. And Mum and Dad guide our friendships.
What does that look like? P: I (Dad) wonder if that is code for, “Dad, you are easily the worst control freak in church!” But in truth, we do try and guide our kids through working out friendships. We ask them to reflect on the impact that others are having on their heart attitudes towards us, others, and God. We have chosen to guide them into homegroups rather than representative sports. In doing these things, they are having to make judgements and ask, “Is my aim to glorify God or to exercise my freedom?”1 What about when things go wrong? How do you handle balancing an understanding of our sin before a holy God, with his love and grace? P: We’ve asked (and at times insisted!) that the kids pray when things go wrong. We want them to understand that offending God’s holiness is a serious matter, and asking for forgiveness (and meaning it!) is an important discipline to develop. We’ve seen the need for repetition in this! K: Mum and Dad have made us say sorry until we really meant it! This has taught us a lot. Over the years,
if we’ve come to Mum and Dad to apologise but still been upset, they have called us out on it (even when we thought we weren’t grumpy anymore!). This has helped us to think about how God sees our hearts—it’s not about how we might be trying to appear on the outside. Having to apologise again and again has helped us to consider what our heart motive is, and eventually we have been able to start selfregulating and make sure that we are actually sorry before we try to say so!
Closing thoughts P: There are routines and disciplines in our family. They matter. But these are things that we have stumbled through at times, and have often been a struggle. Our kids have sometimes resented and resisted things—maybe you can tell from some of what they say here! But we
have tried to tie a lot of what we do and say to our family motto, which is visible in our kitchen: “Love God; love others; seek the truth.” And ultimately, we are enabled only by God’s grace to “stand in awe of him” (Psalm 33:8).
Take outs... 1. What are your experiences of teaching children about God’s holiness? 2. How could you read the Bible with your children so that God’s holiness comes to light? 3. How do we create space for the Holy Spirit to work with our children?
Story: The Edmeades with Sarah Vaine Larne, Rosemary, Jonathan, Ella, Sam, and Anna live in Auckland and attend Titirangi Baptist Church. 1. Jerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God (Colorado: WaterBrook Press, 2006), 221.
4. How could you teach the discipline of asking for forgiveness? 5. Which of the practical ideas explored here might help your kids?
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Virtues to Die for Learning to live with the end in mind
FOR MANY, IF NOT MOST OF US, OUR DREAMS CENTRE ON OUR ACHIEVEMENTS. WE AIM FOR THAT IDEAL JOB, OUTSTANDING QUALIFICATION, OR STANDOUT ACCOMPLISHMENT, AND WE WORK VERY, VERY HARD TO ACHIEVE IT. BUT THE SIMPLE TRUTH IS THAT WE WERE NOT PUT ON THIS PLANET TO BUILD A RESUME. AND, AS GREG LISTON EXPLAINS, THIS PRIORITISING OF ACHIEVEMENT THAT OUR SOCIETY INCREASINGLY DEMANDS LEADS SOMEWHERE VERY DESTRUCTIVE.
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fifteen-year-old daughter recently sat her Grade 8 clarinet exam with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM). On the off-chance that you (or your children) have never endured the sweet agony of music exams, let me explain. They are incredibly stressful! Nearly one thousand hours of practice (in this case, at least) gets compressed into a single thirty-minute recital which is performed in a blank, sterile room with a lone, intentionally-unresponsive examiner who has recently flown halfway around the world to spend three weeks listening for eight hours a day to musicians bravely (but not always brilliantly) attempting Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. The all-too-brief minutes of the exam are spent with your stomach churning, heart racing, knees knocking, knuckles clenching, and nails being bitten. At least, that’s how the parents sitting outside feel! Who knows how hard it must be for those actually performing! With my nails about thirty minutes shorter, my daughter emerged from the recital room and we began our post-mortem. What went well? What didn’t? About two minutes into this detailed, blow-by-blow analysis, the examiner himself appeared. To be honest, this was rather a surprise. I’ve sat through quite a few of these exams, but I’ve never seen an ABRSM examiner venture outside their evaluative cave before. It was like watching a bear waking from hibernation. Putting aside the shock, I reached my hand out to shake his. “You must be the examiner,” I said. “I’m the dad.”
Baptist / C U L T U R E
If my character is such a priorit y, then why do I put so much more time and effort into achieving things than I do into intentionally growing in godliness? “Yes, I guessed as much,” the examiner replied. There followed a few moments of small talk, and then the real reason he had awoken. “I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed that exam. Particularly, I appreciated the way your daughter thanked the accompanist after she’d finished. At the end of the exam she even thanked me. I can’t actually recall ever being thanked at the end of an exam before.” There were a few more pleasantries, and then he turned on his heel and wandered back into the warmth and safety of his evaluative hibernation. It’s hard to say just how pleased I was. You see, I am very happy that my daughter is racking up musical accomplishments. As a relatively unskilled (but passionate) musician, I love seeing her achieve where I haven’t. But I am so much more thrilled about the person she is growing up to be—someone who is kind, thoughtful, and instinctively courteous even under stress. Thank goodness she is turning out like her mum! A few hours later, I was still reflecting on what had happened. As I stroked the memory of the examiner’s words like a cat, listening to them purr, a thought struck me. If my daughter’s character is so important to me (and it is!), then why do I focus so much more on her achievements? Or to bring it even closer to home… what about me? If my character is such a priority, then why do I put so much more time and effort into achieving things than I do into intentionally growing in godliness?
Eulogy virtues versus resume virtues David Brooks (The New York Times political and social columnist) helpfully puts words to this inconsistency by contrasting resume virtues with eulogy virtues. Resume virtues are the ones you list on your CV; the ones that make you marketable and attractive as an employee. Eulogy virtues are the ones that get talked about at your funeral; the ones that define your character. Kindness, humility, and courage are eulogy virtues; clarinet playing, computer literacy, and public speaking are resume virtues. Brooks argues convincingly that the most profound cultural shift in western society over the last fifty years is the massive increase in emphasis on resume virtues over and above eulogy virtues. Our education system is increasingly oriented towards marketability and pragmatism, as is our public conversation,
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and (if we’re honest) most of our individual dreams and expectations. “Most of us have clearer strategies for how to achieve career success than we do for how to develop a profound character,” Brooks writes.1 The work of the nineteenth century Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard allows us to see where this change in emphasis leads. Kierkegaard, in typically dramatic fashion, would have labelled this extreme prioritisation of resume virtues a “sickness unto death”—the essence of sinfulness. Most people, says Kierkegaard, understand sin as breaking God’s law. And of course, breaking God’s law is sinful. But Kierkegaard claims that such an understanding of sinfulness does not go deep enough. What about the Pharisees? he asks. They followed the law fastidiously and yet they were completely lost. Why? Because they built their entire identity on keeping the law. Keeping the law was their primary goal, their ultimate objective, and that is precisely what ended up destroying them. So Kierkegaard brings to light a much deeper understanding of sin: sin is not just breaking God’s law—sin is whenever we take a good thing and make it an ultimate priority. The Pharisees took a good thing—moral performance—and made it an ultimate priority. Our western culture has taken a good thing—resume virtues or achievements—and made them an ultimate priority. According to Kierkegaard, such prioritisation is sin at its deepest and most corruptive.2 You see, sin is a whole lot more pervasive and subtle than we normally realise. It is not just the temptation to do ‘bad things’ that can lead us from God’s desires for us. Some people are lost not because they are very bad but because they try so hard to be good. The higher something is—the more important or the more significant something is for us— the greater the temptation to prioritise it. Personally, I don’t think I have a great temptation to make things like alcohol, P, or money the ultimate thing in my life. But prioritising my church work, my kids’ success, or my research comes very naturally. These things are very important to me and so the possibility of them becoming my ultimate ambition is significant indeed. As C.S. Lewis puts it: “Brass is mistaken for gold more easily than clay is. …It’s not out of bad mice or bad fleas you make demons, but out of bad archangels. The false religion of lust is baser than the false religion of mother-love or patriotism or art: but lust is less likely to be made into a religion.”3
How to live with the end in mind Here’s the truth. There is only one good, and that is God. Everything else is good only when it submits and points to him, and is bad when it usurps or leads from him.4 So our lives, ultimately or even partially, are not about stacking up accomplishments. This is so contrary to what our western culture tells us that it is worth saying again. We were not put on this earth to build a resume! Listen to the Apostle Paul stutter and stammer when he is forced to list off his
resume virtues: “But whatever anyone dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? I am talking like a madman—I am a better one: with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless floggings, and often near death” (2 Corinthians 11:21-23). So if it is not to build a resume, then what are we put on this earth for? Paul explains after another ‘mock’ listing of his resume: “More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Putting “knowing Christ” at the centre of all that we are and all that we do can bring a beautiful simplicity to how we go about living. Instead of seeing life as a string of achievements—even good, helpful achievements—we can begin to see life as a gift to be embraced and enjoyed. Pastors who get this can be transformed from incredibly stressed
WE WERE NOT PUT ON THIS PLANET TO BUILD A R E S U M E— WE WERE PUT HERE TO KNOW CHRIST AND TO ENJOY HIM.
humans who are constantly counting conversions, Sunday attendances, and offerings (baptisms, bums, and bucks!), to humans who realise that the pastoral work they do is not their ministry at all, but a sharing in the continuing ministry of Jesus Christ. Parents who get this can go from a place where their emotions oscillate wildly with the “slings and arrows of [their children’s] outrageous fortune,”5 to a place where they can genuinely enjoy their children as the blessings from God that they really are. And teenagers who get this can move beyond the incessant need to measure themselves against others, to instead enjoy discovering the beautiful wonders (and limitations) of who God has created them to be.
The bigger picture Let me be clear: I am not saying that resume virtues are intrinsically evil— clearly they are not. But it is because our western culture values them so very highly that we are in such danger. The culture we live in could not be more mistaken. We were not put on this planet to build a resume—we were put here to know Christ and to enjoy him. If our pursuit of accomplishments gets in the way of us knowing Christ—if our resume virtues become our ultimate ambition—then they have become corrupt, and our pursuit of them becomes one of the most deceptive and pervasive forms of evil that we will ever encounter. How do we survive in a world that has got it so terribly wrong? Well, there is an alternative. You see, all those wonderful achievements and resume virtues are actually a part of Jesus’ plan for us, but we must seek that these things come through him rather than as a result of our own effort working for him (or for ourselves). Achievements— even spiritual achievements—that merely bolster our self-belief are ultimately self-defeating. “But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” Jesus said in Matthew 6:33. Turns out he meant it.
Story: Greg Liston Greg lectures in systematic theology at Laidlaw College and attends Mt Albert Baptist Church. He has one beautiful wife, two incredible children, and thinks that listing other accomplishments here would be counterproductive to the purpose of this article.
1. David Brooks, The Road to Character (London: Allen Lane, 2015), ix. 2. Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death (Start Publishing LLC, 2013). 3. C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (London: Fount, 1977), 88-89. 4. Ibid. 5. William Shakespeare, Hamlet (3.1.1751)
Take outs... 1. Where has your attention and effort gone over the last week? How much has gone into achievements, and how much into character growth? 2. How do the reflections from Kierkegaard add to your understanding of sin? 3. What would it mean for you to make “knowing Christ” your ultimate ambition? How would centering your life on this goal work practically? 4. Why are achievements that merely bolster our self-belief ultimately self-defeating? How does working through Christ look different from working for him?
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Holiness and leadership
HOLINESS IS A HIGH CALLING. FOR THOSE IN LEADERSHIP, THE STAKES SEEM TO BE EVEN HIGHER. HOW CAN WE EVEN BEGIN TO PURSUE THIS CALL? SAM SCHUURMAN GIVES US SOME PRACTICAL POINTERS AND REMINDS US HOW GOD HELPS US TO PURSUE HIS CALL.
hink of the last book you read on leadership. Did it contain anything on the topic of holiness and its crucial relationship to leadership? A quick survey of the books I have on the subject reveals little in this regard, and I suspect it’s not simply poor judgement in the selection of my books. Robert Murray M’Cheyne is often given the credit for saying, “My people’s greatest need is my personal holiness,” and I wholeheartedly agree with him. How tragic it is then that holiness often receives little attention, and perhaps even less practice, among the many voices of our day. I do not hope to do justice to such a significant matter in this brief article. My hope is to sweep away some of the dust and remove a few cobwebs by reflecting upon our call to holiness, and the unique call extended to those in Christian leadership. I will finish by suggesting a few ideas for response.
The call to all The notion of holiness often brings to mind moral perfection or sinlessness. While these concepts are definitely related, according to the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, both the Hebrew and Greek words translated “holy” more accurately mean “separate” or “set apart.” Theologically, holiness has its origins in God, as fundamentally it relates to his ‘separateness’ from creation. Interestingly, most theologians agree that his holiness is not simply an attribute, but essential to his very nature. His love is similar.
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Having created humanity in his image, it’s no wonder that we see holiness is required from those called to be his people. The Israelites were called to “be holy, for [God is] holy” (Leviticus 11:44). The outworking of this holiness is described in great detail in the ‘Holiness Code’ (Leviticus 17-26), which contains a mix of ceremonial, social, and moral commandments. Many of these could be categorised in both a negative sense (a separation from what is unclean, impure, immoral, and to a degree from those outside God’s covenant) and a positive sense (the need to dedicate oneself to God in service). Holiness, then, consists of both separation and consecration. While the law was fulfilled in Christ and we are made right before a holy God through Christ, the call to holiness does not disappear in the New Testament. In fact, it seems to receive even more attention. Paul is never failing to rebuke immoral believers in his letters, and the clarion call of Peter (referring back to Leviticus) in 1 Peter 1:15 is very well known: “... as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct.” So, what’s changed? What’s new in the new covenant? Exactly the means by which to achieve said holiness. You see, if the tree is bad it will produce bad fruit (Luke 6:43). But the problem since the fall is that none of us are able to change our tree: “Can Ethiopians change their skin or leopards their spots?” (Jeremiah 13:23). But the promise of Christ and the Holy Spirit poured out gives new tread to the tyres required to drive this road of holiness. As God promised: “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you.” Better yet, he said: “I will put my Spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:26-27 italics added). So there’s the secret. We can have a new heart that cannot but bear good fruit because of the Holy Spirit who implants it and moves that it may be so! Thanks to Christ and the Pentecost events, we’re now able to become what we’re called to be; to become what somehow we’re already said to be if we’re in Christ: holy, as our God is holy. Far from the gospel of grace giving us license to sin and be unholy (what Dietrich Bonhoeffer would call “cheap grace”1), the gospel of grace is the very foundation for a life of holiness. And to grow in such holiness is to grow in blessing and joy, as freedom from sin is always freedom from selfinflicted pain. The more we grow like this, the more we are like God, and the more we will enjoy him. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).
The call to leaders While it’s obvious that the call to holiness applies to all disciples of Jesus Christ, we do see God react in more extreme ways to the unholiness of his leaders in the Old Testament (think of Moses and David). In addition, both the expectations around a holy life for those in leadership (1 Timothy 3:1-10; Titus 1:6-9) and the warnings for those in
W E C A N H AV E A N E W H E A R T T H AT C A N N O T BUT BEAR GOOD FRUIT B E C A U S E O F T H E H O LY SPIRIT WHO IMPLANTS I T A N D M O V E S T H AT I T M AY B E S O ! leadership (Proverbs 16:12; Matthew 18:6; Acts 20:28) are also clear throughout the entire Bible. If the Holy Spirit is the source of holiness in the life of a Christian, then it follows that those put in positions of leadership should possess a unique quality of the Spirit like we see required in Acts 6:3. Given enough thought, I’m sure we could all think of deeply unfortunate examples of Christian leaders who’ve fallen prey to sin in a way that’s severely hurt the church and its witness, with years of ministry undermined in an instant. Could some of those pitfalls have been avoided if leaders gave greater attention to the pursuit of holiness and were held accountable for doing so? It’s not hard to see God’s wisdom in asserting that leaders must be holy and growing in holiness. But beyond the negative ramifications of unholiness lie the unimaginably green pastures of those leaders who are willing to embark on this most needed (yet often neglected) journey: the pursuit of holiness. After all, wasn’t the world changed by virtue of one man’s true virtue? While it was absolutely the cross of Christ that makes the difference, his death would have failed to atone for our sin were he not entirely holy! I echo John Wesley’s sentiment, then, when he says: “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth.”2
Living worthy of the call As we all know, understanding the call is one thing; living it is quite another altogether. What does it look like to live a life pursuing holiness? What does this mean for leaders who already have a thousand other demands placed on their time? How do we encourage the pursuit of holiness in the lives of others? Far from having the answers to these important questions, I only wish to make a few humble suggestions. These come mostly from an awareness of my own shortcomings and growing experience of God in this matter.
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Baptist / L E A D E R S H I P
I ca n’t make myself more holy and C h r i s t- l i k e , but I can devote myself rigorously to postures that better allow the Holy Spirit to achieve that outcome. Deeds of holiness Given that God is the only one who can wrought true holiness in our hearts, what role are we to play? It is here that I find the language of posturing helpful. I can’t make myself more holy and Christ-like, but I can devote myself rigorously to postures that better allow the Holy Spirit to achieve that outcome. The Puritans understood this well. We talked earlier about the Holiness Code and how this describes elements of both separation and also consecration. Interestingly enough, this is effectively the doctrine of repentance: continually turning from sin (separation) and turning to God (consecration). Following this line of thought, deeds of holiness could incorporate postures of separation and consecration. Separation: This is not separation from the world in an aesthetic or monastic sense, but separation from sin. We do not take our responsibility to “put to
death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13) as seriously as we should. This is called Christian Mortification and John Owen (in his excellent exposition of this concept, The Mortification of Sin) reminds us that we must be killing sin daily, or it will be killing us.3 One of the most helpful postures I use in this area is that of regular accountability and prayer with others. Consecration: Postures of consecration before God include practically all spiritual disciplines of our faith that enable us to hear and receive from God (reading Scripture in all its forms, prayer, speaking in tongues, spiritual direction etc.). It also includes offering ourselves as living sacrifices (works of service, evangelism etc). Eugene Peterson’s work on what he calls “vocational holiness” is helpful in this regard.4
Words of holiness While the example of authentically pursuing holiness is fundamental to both our own spiritual formation, and our leadership and influencing of others in this matter, leaders must not shy away from the need to communicate that the pursuit of holiness is a directive that God gives to all those he calls his children. In particular, leaders have a serious responsibility to preach a gospel where we are not saved by works, but saved for works. If we don’t take this seriously, the practical apathy and questionable morality of the church will be the silent message that society hears the loudest! Our message to pursue holiness must be bigger and louder than that which we have achieved ourselves. We do believe a holy God speaks through us
after all, though we be mere jars of clay. So as we sound the holiness trumpet, may it be heard through the headphones of a ‘kingdom come’ that declares we are already righteous, and seen through the screen of a ‘kingdom coming’ that reminds us we will struggle to live out our righteousness this side of Christ’s return. And may the light of Christ’s holiness be more visible in this dark world as his bride, the church, gives witness to him through her deeds and efforts in holiness.
Story: Samuel Schuurman Sam is Senior Pastor at Kumeu Baptist Church in Auckland. He is married to Rachel and father to one-year-old Theo. 1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 43. 2. “The Letters of John Wesley,”John Wesley: The Wesley Center Online, wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/theletters-of-john-wesley/wesleysletters-1777/ 3. John Owen, The Mortification of Sin (USA: Trinity Press, 2013). 4. Eugene Peterson, Under the Predictable Plant (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994).
Take outs... 1. Which of the practical pointers here might God be asking you to consider in your own life? 2. How can we help leaders who have fallen prey to sin? How can we help our leaders pursue holiness? 3. If you are a leader, how can you encourage those you lead to pursue holy works, and where is God calling you to pursue this?
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Carey welcomes new students
Undertaking tertiary study can be a daunting experience for new students. That is why Orientation Day, traditionally held a week before semester starts, is extremely important as an opportunity for staff and faculty to welcome new students. It is a way to prepare them for the rigours of study, and introduces them to the Carey community so that they can confidently start the year. This February, Orientation Day included a special pōwhiri where manuhiri (in this case, new students supported by their family and friends) were entrusted to the college by family and friends—this involved each one being physically ‘handed over’ to Carey for this next season of their life. Dr Phil Halstead, lecturer in theology and pastoral care, reflected: “This humbling and beautiful ‘exchange’ connected us all most powerfully and helped us to experience the love, trust, and interconnectedness that exists among us in a gloriously palpable way. I was also positively reminded of the responsibility and immense privilege that we have been given in serving God’s wonderful people.” Dr John Tucker shared three key resources needed for students to thrive and survive in theological study: Scripture (which he encouraged the students to take and eat (Revelation 10:9)); the practice of Christian discipleship and ministry; and “our context, the world in which we live, the world in which the mission of God is being realised, and the world in which the Spirit of God is active.” Carey is excited to welcome the 2017 students and see how God will shape and mould them for his glory, his church, and his mission in this world.
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Baptist / F A M I L Y N E W S
The Baptist Worship Project Have you had the privilege of visiting different Baptist churches and camps around New Zealand? There are some excellent worship leaders, and hearing worship songs produced by local artists is inspiring—it serves to connect us deeply with Christ. But it is a sad reality that lots of other Kiwis will never get to hear these amazing songs of praise. It is a tragic loss and a buried treasure. There is another buried treasure which could soon become a tragic loss: our voice as Baptists. In a sea of worship music, how much of it comes from Baptists? The goal of the Baptist Worship Project is to rediscover the treasures that lie in our Baptist churches and to share these via a new album. It seeks artists to write songs that reflect core Baptist values, so that our values and principles can stand alongside those of other denominations who also honour Christ. There are many talented artists out there! The project has a ‘Baptist Worship Theology’ which stands as a guideline for artists, and outlines some key Baptist values and theology. Pieces submitted will be assessed by a group of musicians, pastors and theologians and some will be selected for the album. They will be recorded and produced by professional Christian musicians to create one coherent piece for churches to embrace and include in their worship services. People learn theology from what they sing. If you ask someone to recite a creed or lengthy passage from memory, they will likely struggle. If you ask them to sing “Shout to the Lord,” or “Good, Good Father,” the amount retained is likely to be much more. It will be amazing to hear the voices of our nation raised to praise Christ with songs from our local artists. Visit bym.org.nz/events/event-worship-project or email email@example.com for more information.
*We note that not all worship is music. Worship comes in countless forms. In this article, we focus specifically on musical worship, but do not limit worship to this medium.
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Hot Topics Through the Centre for Lifelong Learning website, Carey is starting a list of resources on topical issues. They will draw on the expertise and research of Carey teaching staff, and others, to provide and suggest articles and links for each topic. Following on from the Dunedin Hui, the first topic is “Women in Ministry, Mission and Leadership.” Has your church ever had a woman pastor? What about your elders or spiritual governing group—is there a particular gender preference? Do children growing up in your church family have female role models showing that leadership in your church doesn’t have a gender bias? The resources in this topic area already include biblical work by some Carey lecturers, an essay by an elder in one of our churches, and some work done by one of our Regional Mission Leaders. This list will grow and is the first of our ‘Hot Topic’ resources. See lifelonglearning.nz/women.
Itinerant Gospel Musician Nicky Moran Tours All New Zealand Prisons Touring New Zealand prisons with encouraging gospel concerts, Nicky Moran completed her first full nationwide prison tour during September and October 2016 with fifty-four concerts. Led by the Lord, and leaving her family and nursing job behind for a month, Nicky went into all the prisons to sing, share her testimony, and call those in prison back to the Lord. Nicky eagerly enters the prisons to find many souls hungry for encouragement. The message is love. “God loved us first, and he’s calling us to love him back,” she says. Nicky dares prisoners to trust God, and ask him for good things such as friendship, and help to forgive those who have hurt
them bringing healing, and change of heart and behaviour. She preaches, “Show a little love; share a little; give a little; show some kindness.” On the latest tour, after hearing the stories and songs, a young prisoner testified to his group that he had been hurt by someone close to him, but could now forgive as he felt God help him to do so. The one who had caused offence apologised, they embraced and cried together, and the whole unit was impacted by the response. Then there was prayer for a busted ankle with lots of ‘amens.’ In every prison, something incredible happens: God moves, and prisoners and staff laugh, cry, and sing. Some look stunned and appear so quiet
before telling Nicky and the chaplains how they were moved. All prisons have invited Nicky back with enthusiasm from staff, chaplains, and prisoners. She plans to continue to tour annually from September to October. Read more about this in the ‘Our Stories’ section of baptistmag.org.nz. You can also get more information at nickymoran.com.
How do I mobilise my church? A New Zealand pastor realised his members were not sharing their faith, so he decided to act. He began to consistently preach about outreach, highlighting the need for a conversational approach. This was reinforced in small groups, good application was modelled through testimonies, and regular gospel outreach programmes were run to support it. As a result, church members became friendlier to newcomers, and they began to get more visitors. There was an increase in stories of spiritual conversations, and more people coming to faith. Significantly, all this happened without running any extra outreach programmes (other than what was already being run). This pastor has been partnering with the Hope Project and this story is not the only one of its kind! Around 650 churches have also partnered with the Hope Project, and a survey carried out by the coordinators confirms that hundreds of churches have been affected. It seems that the pastors involved have understood that a talented leader who runs great programmes is no match for one hundred active members. As a result, they’ve intentionally begun to shift their focus... and it’s changing things! This impetus also brought about the first national evangelism conference in New Zealand in fifteen years. Engage Conference was initiated in 2016 and hosted at
City Church in Tauranga. It endeared the involvement and partnership of more than seventeen outreaching organisations, with remarkable resulting unity. Shining Lights Trust Director (and Hope Project Coordinator) Dave Mann commented: “Some years ago, I read about a study that shows if just 10% of a population becomes fundamentally convinced of something, the majority will end up following their view. In other words, most people simply follow the ‘strongest’ viewpoint, and apparently 10% is where the ‘tipping point’ is.1 So the fact that Christian influence is losing its sway in the public square simply reflects a situation where less than 10% are fundamentally convinced Christianity is true, while those fundamentally believing the ‘atheistic-secular’ viewpoint may now represent more than 10%. But if culture can change one way, it can change the other, right?” The Hope Project team suggest that providing basic conversational equipping could enable church members to engage in spiritual conversations in this day and age. To find out more, go to AllTogether.co.nz. You can read the full version of this article online in the ‘Leadership’ section of baptistmag.org.nz. 1. Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point (USA, Little, Brown and Company, 2001)
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Baptist / F A M I L Y N E W S
Dr Stan Edgar: Faithful Baptist Leader 2ND AUGUST 1918 – 2ND FEBRUARY 2017
Dr Stan, as he was commonly known, was a leader in our Baptist movement during the latter part of the last century. His funeral service was held at Avondale Baptist Church. He was ninety-eight years old. Together with his late wife, Doreen, Dr Stan ministered in three of our churches: Mosgiel (1948‑53),
Kingston Park (now Avalon) (1954-59), and Avondale (1959-62). They had two daughters, Ann and Jill. In 1963, Stan was appointed as a lecturer at the New Zealand Baptist Theological College, and later became Vice-Principal. The 1975 Assembly appointed Dr Stan as General Secretary of the Baptist Union of New Zealand and the New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society, a post he held until his retirement. Stan and Doreen hosted leading Christians from all over the world, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu. While at Kingston Park, Stan completed his doctoral thesis: “The Use the New Testament Made of Quotations and Illustrations from the Old Testament.” This was judged as “prodigious” and, on special occasions, Dr Stan proudly wore the doctorate’s red and crimson gown. As a leader of our denomination, Dr Stan was known as decisive yet fair. He was an approachable leader who helped set a culture within our Baptist movement that continues today. Dr Stan warmly supported ecumenical relationships and was a long-time member of the Churches Education Commission. While leader of our overseas mission programme, Stan travelled extensively supporting the work and workers in India, Bangladesh, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, France, and Australia. Craig Vernall wrote: “Stan’s academic rigour allowed him to influence a generation of pastors and future missionaries. He gave them the tools to honour the Lord and serve their people with integrity. Truly a mighty kauri has fallen in our Baptist family.” Ten years ago, Stan suffered a double loss. First, his daughter Ann died from a brain aneurysm. Then four months later his wife, Doreen, also died suddenly. He is survived by his daughter Jill and five grandsons, eleven great-grandchildren, his brother, Bill (Mt Albert Baptist Church), and his sister, Nancy Payton (Whangarei Central Baptist Church). Although Dr Stan did not reach one hundred years and receive a letter from the Queen, we are confident he has received a ‘well done welcome’ from the Lord Jesus Christ who he loved and served all his days.
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Rosemary Scheib: Living and Loving Jesus 12TH JUNE 1959 – 30TH DECEMBER 2016
On 10th January 2017, over 400 people gathered in the gardens adjacent to Motueka Baptist Church to celebrate the life of Rose Scheib—a fitting testimony to her life of loving Jesus and bringing light to many people. Rose was born in Nelson as Rosemary Anne Watson. She had a younger sister, Jenny, and five stepbrothers and sisters. Rose attended Nelson College for Girls. After achieving University Entrance, she worked for nine months as a bank teller. Her family attended Rutherford St Church of Christ in Nelson, and it was during the years in youth group that Rose met Lyall Scheib. At age eighteen,
Rose and Lyall left Nelson to study at Johnson Bible College in Knoxville, Tennessee. Two years into their studies, they married in Nelson and returned to Knoxville to graduate in 1981. After returning again to Nelson, Rose’s life was very busy raising five children, while Lyall worked in numerous jobs, including one based in Christchurch. Eventually Rose and Lyall returned to Nelson, finding a supportive church home at Richmond Baptist. Rose combined parenting with involvement in home group leadership, the music team, and a very successful craft group for women. She was eventually employed part-time to pastor this group. In 2001, Lyall and Rose moved to Motueka with the family when Lyall was appointed pastor. In 2012, the pastoral role was split with Lyall and Rose both working part-time. Rose invested much love and time into the young people and they thrived under her leadership. Her vision and initiative resulted in the establishment of an inspiring community ministry: an intergenerational youth-led service to people beyond the church, called Saturday Servants. Rose’s enthusiasm for God, and genuine love and care for people, impacted many within and beyond the church. She was known for her networking and ability to relate to, and connect with, all ages. Sunday services became more inclusive and accessible through gathering outdoors. Food became integral to many gatherings. She organised a ‘Twilight Fair’ to bring people together, as well as a massive car boot sale for people living in the street where the church is located. Outdoor movies staged in the church gardens attracted many in the tourist season. Rose loved to worship, especially through music. She worked hard to ensure people’s Sunday church experience was inclusive and relational, enabling people to come to know Jesus who she loved and lived for. Rose placed high value on children, opening up opportunities for their active participation in church life. Rose became ill with cancer early in 2016. Many people were deeply affected as her life had touched so many—not just through her part-time role as Associate Pastor, but also through her role as homestay co-ordinator for international students at Motueka Baptist Church. She placed high value on family, especially delighting in her six grandchildren. She was known for her smile and sweet spirit, and her death on 30th December 2016 has left a hole in many lives. Rose lived as ‘salt and light’ and brought God’s love to many as she exemplified her favourite Scripture—Romans 15:13.
It is with grief that we acknowledge the sudden death of Steve Askin on Tuesday 14th February 2017. Steve, a helicopter pilot, died fighting the Port Hills fires in Christchurch. Over 500 people gathered at Wigram Airbase for his funeral. He was a member of the New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS), the elite special forces unit of the army. Steve was the thirty-seven-year-old son of Pastor Paul Askin, who has served in Spreydon Baptist Church (1976-78), Central Otago Home Mission (1978-83), Orakei Baptist Church (1984-87), and currently serves in Kaiapoi Baptist Church (since 1997). We extend our sympathy, love, and prayers to the Askin family at this time.
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Baptist / F A M I L Y N E W S
Lionel Stewart Scholarship 2017 The Lionel Stewart Scholarship was set up in 2016 to honour the contribution Reverend Lionel Stewart made to the Baptist movement with regards to bicultural reconciliation between Pākehā and Māori. The 2016 recipient, Rāwiri Auty, has been working on his Master’s thesis titled: “Being Māori, Being Baptist: Ko tēnei te Wero mo te Hāhi Iriiri o Aotearoa.” As well as an historic component, this research is informed by contemporary Māori voices. In it, he explores the engagement of Māori people in Baptist contexts. Rāwiri hopes to complete this thesis by the middle of the year. Rāwiri has been encouraged by the openness and honesty of the contributors, and candid kōrero about their journey as Māori Christians in Baptist contexts. Their stories are important and inspiring. Rāwiri reflects: “My aim is that this research and writing will contribute Māori voices to the academic and literary conversations around biculturalism for Baptists here in Aotearoa. By using Kaupapa Māori research tools—designed and conducted by, with, and for Māori—I hope to challenge and inform our largely Pākehā Baptist world.” Coming out of this research, but more specific to the scholarship, Rāwiri is also working closely with Lionel Stewart’s wife, Adrienne, to produce a book about Lionel. Titled Kia Kotahi Tātou, this work will focus on Lionel’s contributions to the Baptist movement as a Māori leader. They hope to have this completed and available by the end of the year. Lionel’s story is one of reconciliation and hope for Māori and for all New Zealanders. Applications for the 2017 Lionel Stewart Scholarship are now open, and will be presented at the 2017 Hui
Rāwiri accepting the 2016 Lionel Stewart Scholarship, presented by Adrienne Stewart.
in New Plymouth. The applicant must be a registered pastor of the Baptist Union of New Zealand, and be able to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to New Zealand biculturalism. Supporting references must testify to successful stories that have brought Māori and Pākehā together in the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Applicants may also be eligible if they are pursuing a recognised course of tertiary study that will further the work of bicultural reconciliation. Please contact Jill Hitchcock firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and an application form. Applications close 31st July 2017.
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100 Years Ago
YOUNG WOMEN’S BIBLE CLASS CAMP HELD AT PLIMMERTON To say that our camp has been a success is a very mild way to express the good time that we have had. Every item on our long programme was carried out, each happy event being crowned by one equally good. Although our numbers wore not quite so large as seemed likely, the thirty-six who gathered agreed that they had never spent a happier week in their lives. The first event of note was the welcome meeting on Friday afternoon, when our President, Mrs. Archer, welcomed the visitors. Mrs. Smith (Wanganui) and Mrs. Griffiths (Hastings) replied very heartily. These happy speeches were followed by the roll-call and greetings from all classes. A very beautiful message was received from our Union President, Miss Mill, who sent as a camp motto the words, “Jesus in the midst.” The words were afterwards worked out in blue ribbon, and occupied a prominent position during the remaining days. A telegram of thanks was sent to Miss Mill. Greetings were sent to our fellow campers in Dunedin and Tawa Flat. We received greetings from them later. Friday evening was in the charge of the Wellington girls, who arranged a very fine programme of sacred items. On Saturday morning, our business meeting took place. Reports from all classes represented were given on membership, home and foreign mission efforts, class methods, etc. It was decided that this district raise £10 during the coming year toward the Manurewa Home expenses. The possibility of holding a camp next year was discussed. It was decided to do so; the Wanganui classes invited us to hold it there. The invitation was joyously accepted. A camp fund has already been started. Saturday afternoon was given
over to outdoor sports; Hastings were responsible for the arrangements. The evening was given over to fun; Wanganui arranged the programme. We had one long laugh from start to finish over ‘dressing up,’ impromptu speeches, etc. Sunday will not readily be forgotten. At 10.15 a.m., Mrs. Ward, of Wanganui, conducted a united prayer and praise service. At 11 a.m., Mr. Edridge gave us a beautiful Easter message. The afternoon service was wholly missionary; Mr. Edridge was again the speaker. At night, a camp service was held when our girls gathered round Mrs. Archer and Miss Rainford, who each gave them a brief inspirational talk. Favourite hymns were sung, interspersed with solos, duets, and choruses. On Monday we visited the Boys’ Camp at Tawa Flat, and had a very happy day. Twenty-six returned to Plimmerton, and camp finally broke on Tuesday evening. Each morning, prayer and study circles were held; the subjects were “Faith,” “Hope,” and “Love.” The prayer leaflets supplied by the Executive were also used. The camp secretary has formed a lost property depot; quite a number of articles were left behind, and others are being enquired for. Things will get mixed at camp. In spite of this, we are looking forward to Easter 1918. S. GOOD, Camp Secretary
Baptist Magazine, May 1917
v.133 no.2 † toru tekau mā tahi 31
Directory PILGRIMAGE TO THE BIBLE LANDS
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For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Glo bal Mis si on
Photo of the month Through our work in global mission, New Zealand Baptists have seen the lives of people we will never meet touched and transformed by God: people like this woman from Argatala in North-East India where NZBMS has been working for over eighty years. Inside this edition’s Global Mission pages, you can read the stories of others whose lives have also been transformed by God.
TOG ETHER W E CA N RE A C H T H E W O RL D
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Baptist / G L O B A L M I S S I O N
MISSION COUNCIL 2017
INTRODUCING RYAN AND SOPHIE We are excited to introduce a couple of additions to the Tranzsend team. Ryan and Sophie along with their two children, Spencer (four) and Emerson (two), were accepted for long-term service with NZBMS at the February Mission Council meeting. Members of Northcote Baptist Church in Auckland, the family will be heading to South Asia where they will join the Freeset team. Ryan and Sophie’s skills, project management and communications respectively, will be put to good use. Please pray for Ryan, Sophie, and family over the coming year, as they begin raising their team support and prepare to move to the place where God has called them. If you or your church is interested in being part of the family’s support team, or would like to receive their regular newsletters, please contact Tranzsend at email@example.com or 09 526 8440.
Entering the new year, Mission Council bade farewell to some and welcomed a few new members. We give thanks for individuals who have served on Council and have chosen to step back to pursue other opportunities: Greg Knowles (eleven years), George Wieland (thirteen years), and Margaret Sim (BMF President—two years). We welcome Edmonds Namburi and Josie Te Kahu to the Council and look forward to working with them. The full 2017 Council—with their home church—is: • Andrew Bollen (Chair)—Wellington Central • Rewai Te Kahu—Palmerston North Central • Graeme Osborne—Northgate • Sharon Dando—Waimarino/Auckland • Lyn Davis—Ormiston Community • Rāwiri Auty—Henderson • Nigel Cottle—Mosaic • Edmonds Namburi—Avondale • Jim Patrick (President)—Wanaka • Josie Te Kahu (Vice-President)— Palmerston North Central • Murray & Yvonne Smith (BMF Presidents)— Tauranga Central
FINANCIAL GIFTS We would like to thank you for the generous financial gifts we have received towards our various ministries and projects over the last year. We will happily receive any gifts that are sent our way throughout the year, however if you or your church currently have monies set aside for the work of NZBMS, can we please encourage you to send it through at your earliest convenience. This may include monies towards: • Christmas Angel 2016 Appeal • Prayer and Self Denial 2016 Appeal • Team support • Student sponsorship • Mission boxes If you would like more information please give us a call on 09 526 8444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NZBMS ROADSHOWS 2017
The NZBMS Roadshow is on the move and coming to a region near you. As a team, we look forward to spending time with our supporters from around the country and showcasing the various ways in which we can partner together in global mission. So, make sure you come along and be inspired by the magnificent ways God is using New Zealand Baptists to work in the lives of people across Asia. To learn more, visit www.nzbms.org.nz, and find out when the NZBMS team will be in a town near you.
Tax Receipts for 2016/17 year are currently being prepared and are expected to be in your letterboxes by the middle of April. Please contact us if you have not received your receipt by April 30th.
38 toru tekau mā waru † v.133 no.2 baptistmag.org.nz
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If I Can Do it… Niger is about as far from New Zealand as you can get—it’s dry and hot, dusty and chaotic, undeveloped and very poor. It’s also 99% Muslim but open for missionaries; that makes it a place of great opportunity for sharing the gospel. My role in Niger has been dorm assistant at Sahel Academy, a school for missionary kids whose parents work in neighbouring countries and at a missionary hospital in East Niger. I’m the “cool aunty” whose greatest joy has become that of building relationships with the teens in the dorm; from laughing and having fun together, giving out high fives for eating salad, going deep talking about faith and life, to praying with them and for them. Last August, three days before the
commencement of the school year, an email arrived asking if anyone would be willing to teach chemistry. Before studying theology, I had gained a BSc in chemistry, which I’d never used. Feeling ready for a new challenge I volunteered, and for the last six months I have been learning how to teach high school chemistry. In Galmi, East Niger, is a missionary hospital which sees about 300 outpatients a day. While visiting the hospital, I donated blood, a scarce resource here. Lying on the bed, with the needle hanging out of my arm, I was aware of how different it was to donating blood back home. There was no tape holding the needle down, no orange juice or biscuit. But there was a doctor. She came to tell me that a young boy would receive my still
warm blood straightaway—that was pretty exciting. My adventure is soon coming to an end and I will return to New Zealand in June. If you’d like to have your own adventure in Niger, contact SIM at email@example.com.
Story: Nicola Nicola was Associate Pastor at Laingholm Baptist for seven years before moving to Niger to serve with SIM. You can read more on her blog nicolainniger.wordpress.com.
OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE
NZBMS, through Mission World, present the following opportunities to join in God’s mission with one of our other strategic mission partners. • Volunteers for a children’s programme (Thailand) with OMF. For 19th-31st July 2017 (or a portion). 18+ years to help with Third Culture Kids while their parents are in conference and training events. • Building Maintenance Assistant (Arnhem Land, Australia) with MAF. To coordinate and carry out construction and property maintenance as scheduled or directed, ensure compliance, and manage personnel. Must have qualifications and two years trade experience.
• Sports Director (Kenya) with Pioneers. To initiate and oversee outreach sports programmes for working with young people in the community. • Hostel parents for a school (Asia) with WEC. Must enjoy working with teens and have some administrative skills. A minimum one year commitment from July 2018.
• Qualified teachers for school (East Asia) with Tranzsend. Range of ages, subject, English medium.
• Language Surveyors/Sociolinguists (range of locations globally) with Wycliffe. Language survey work is needed to determine translation needs. Survey specialists move from place to place in a language area comparing word lists and doing intelligibility testing using stories on tape.
• Discipler (Mozambique) with SIM. Church training and discipleship are some of the main needs of the Mozambiquan church. For someone specifically called to assist with adding depth to the church in Mozambique.
• School nurse (South Asia) with Interserve. At a small boarding school in Himalayan foothills and to attend to the medical needs of all the students, staff, and staff families of the school. For at least one year from August 2017.
For more information and to express an interest email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 09 526 8446.
DEEP FAITH IN A SURFACE WORLD Scripture Union NZ’s Conference for all Children’s Ministry Leaders
Invercargill 27 May Auckland 10 June Wellington 24 June Discover innovative and effective ways to lead children’s ministry in a changing world. Come and learn valuable leadership skills that will equip you to grow the faith of today’s children. For more information please visit