"Engari i mea i a ia ano kia poaha, ka mau ki te ahua o te pononga, ka meinga kia rite ki te tangata."
"Rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness."
"Peita‘i ‘ua matuā fa‘amaulaloina o ia e ia lava,ma ‘ua tino mai o ia o le pologa."
I've been thinking lately about how we see the world. Expressions like 'keep looking up' and 'step up' often come to mind.
We frequently hear expressions like 'level up' and 'keep your head up'. We hear these words because people are consciously or unconsciously encouraging us to get 'the upper hand' or 'to move up in the world'.
In this way of viewing of the world, success and significance are both associated with the word 'up' and moving higher.
In Philippians 2:1-11, Jesus’ success and significance are associated with the word 'down' and descending lower.
Jesus—God incarnate—descends lower. And he does not use it for his own advantage.
Jesus—God incarnate—descends lower still, taking the nature of a servant.
Jesus—being born in the likeness of men—descends lower still, by becoming obedient to death.
Jesus—obediently facing death—descends lower still, and faces death on a cross.
Therefore, God 'moved Jesus up in the world' to the Highest Place.
Therefore, God gave Jesus the 'upper hand' over all things.
Therefore, God desires that we all 'look up to Jesus', bowing before his Lordship and his glory.
Being human, I so often get these things upside down and inside out. Too often, I want to move myself up in the world. I want me to gain the upper hand; I want me to get my own way; I want people to look up to me.
But in doing so, I forget the two 'therefores' of Philippians 2:1-11.
Therefore, because of Jesus, our own preferences diminish. In humility, we value others above ourselves.
As though forgetting this 'therefore' isn’t bad enough, I also forget the second 'therefore'.
Therefore, God highly exalts Jesus. He moved him up. God gave Jesus the upper hand.
The gospel calls me to descend lower, to diminish. It calls me to entrust myself fully to only one who deserves to be exalted.
The gospel calls me to trust the Highest One, the living God who has revealed himself in Jesus.
By Mark Grace, CCCNZ Ambassador
Churches Reaching their Communities through Rally
I have got to say, I am absolutely loving hearing about what God is doing in CCCNZ/OBH churches as they reach their communities with the good news of Jesus through their Rally groups!
In March, Rongotea Bible Chapel saw 50 children attend a fantastic evening Rally where they visited a local honey business.
Also in March, Manurewa Bible Chapel’s Rally had a fundraising night. They called it 'Rally for Grown Ups'—a great night of intergenerational fun.
By the looks of it, the kids did well leading the adults!
This week, children at Bunnythorpe Family Church have been making Mothers Day gifts (pictured above and below).
I was super encouraged to see the quality and theological clarity of the Rally curriculum being developed by Rob Morton and Rally NZ.
It points clearly to Jesus through the gospel from the Old and New Testaments in age-appropriate ways.
If you’d like to know more about how churches are engaging their communities and schools through Rally, then I encourage you to talk to Rally Facilitator Tony Foster.
If you are in the Auckland/Waikato region and want to know how children and families can hear the good news of Jesus through Rally, come to an upcoming training day on the 10th June at Whitiora Bible Church.
If you are interested in church planting and revitalisation through Rally come along to the training day.
Churches Working Together to Reach Kids through Camping
We love hearing how churches and the regional campsites that support them are working together to point people to Jesus through the gospel from the Scriptures.
In the last week of the autumn school holidays, Marsden Bay Christian Camp held their kids camp.
It was awesome that youth and young adults from Clark Road Chapel, Orewa Community Church and Northcross Community Church were able to come together to lead at these camps.
We asked Matt Scott (Ministry Coordinator at MBCC) to share some insights from the leaders in their own words regarding the benefit of leading at a children’s camp:
“Being a leader at camp really helps me cement my walk with Jesus; I get the opportunity to really see my faith and Him at work.”—Northcross and Orewa leaders
“Being at camp develops a deeper understanding of God’s Word, which I can use to benefit others at my own church.”—Clark Road youth
“As we learn to lead at camp together this will make our youth group united and able to walk together.” —Clark Road leader
The youth also spoke about the benefit of making new friends from other youth groups, discussing topics during small group times, and enjoying worshipping Jesus.
CCCNZ Camping Enabler Richard Davis comments that there are huge benefits for a church when they support their youth leading at camps.
"Whilst leading at camp assists the camps, the real benefit is that it engages youth in the church family. They see the value of working together, they desire to serve in the church, and they want to learn and be discipled."
Would you value your youth to be committed to a camp? Contact Richard to discuss the possibility further.
I was encouraged by this update by Naomi Mason, from Kaitaia Bible Chapel and Coopers Beach Christian Youth Camp in Northland:
“2023 Easter camp at CBCYC was such a wonderful, encouraging time of fellowship together.
"Our speakers Murray Stevenson and Winston McEwan gave very encouraging messages that were well appreciated.
"This was a family camp, catering for all campers, with a program for children 12 and under and an older Bible study for 13-16 year olds.
"We have had lots of feedback from many campers and visitors who came for the ministry services. Everyone enjoyed the music and singing, which has been commented on by so many people. Our music team did a fantastic job.
"Our cooks, who were first-time cooks for Easter camp, provided lovely meals with the help of their team. It is so good to have younger people stepping up and taking on these important positions.
"We give praise and thanks to our Lord Jesus for the good weather which allowed the campers to enjoy their free time and facilities available—especially the young people who really enjoyed the water slide. We also had a beach activity organised for all the campers to enjoy.
"There are campers and visitors who so enjoyed the camp that they are asking about the next camp. We even had feedback from people out of our area who would like to come to the next camp and have booked in already!”
I am encouraged to see leaders across the movement serving and supporting policemen and women by becoming police chaplains.
Pictured above is Police Commissioner Andrew Costa, who is a part of The Street Church Wellington, with Carrie Toehemotu from Northcross Church, Lui Ponifasio, a pastor of Life Church Auckland and Peter Somervell, a pastor of Grace Church Nelson at a recent police chaplains conference.
On Tuesday youth leaders, church leaders and board members, along with CCCNZ staff, gathered in person and via Zoom to farewell Murray Brown from his role as CCCNZ National Youth Enabler as he heads towards semi-retirement.
We have been so blessed as a movement of churches to have Murray mentoring, investing, and coaching key youth leaders across the country.
We also have been incredibly blessed as a staff team to receive Murray’s wisdom and insight.
As youth pastors, board members, and staff spoke about Murray, two themes stood out: how Murray's life and ministry reflected 2 Timothy 2:2 and Philippians 2.
Murray, we are so grateful to God for you.
Thank you for the way you ministered amongst us, continually encouraging us to be confident of the centrality and presence of God in our daily lives.