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The Hour Has Come

Matthew 26:46

"Maranga, ka haere tatou: nana, ka tata te kaituku i ahau.

"Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

In Matthew's story, Jesus says two prayers on the night he was betrayed. The prayers sound similar. But between the first prayer and the second, we see two profound shifts:

In Jesus’ first prayer, he cries in anguish: "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Jesus restates his conviction around God’s sovereignty. “Yet, not as I will but as you will.” It is a bald, gritty acknowledgement that God works in and through Jesus' suffering.

In Jesus' second prayer, he confesses: "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

"May your will be done." See the movement from an acknowledgement of God's sovereignty, to a deep affirmation God’s wise and loving will despite suffering.

In these two prayers, there is another shift. Jesus changes his request to avoid the furnace. “Father if it is possible, take this cup from me,” became, "Father, if there is no other way, let your will be done."

In these dark hours, Jesus' prayer moves from acknowledging to affirming God’s sovereignty. His prayers shift from asking to avoid the furnace to courage in the face of it.

In verses 45-46 of chapter 26, we see the result of the shift in Jesus' prayer: resolve. You can feel it, and you can hear it. See how he accepts and courageously faces God's will. “Look, the hour has come. Rise, here comes my betrayer."

Jesus has found comfort in the chaos. He has found strength in the storm. He has found fortitude in the face of the furnace.

There is an old saying that goes, “The same sun that melts wax hardens clay.” We will all face the furnace, and for some the experience leads to trauma and ruin; for others, growth and strength.

Timothy Keller writes:

“Throughout the 66 books written by 44 authors, over thousands of years that make up the book Bible, we see the consistent claim that God is sovereign over history and therefore suffering.

"Each author attests in different ways that God is in control of what happens in history and yet exercises that control in such a way that human beings are responsible for their freely chosen actions and the results of their actions.

"To put it practically: if a man robs a bank, the moral evil is fully his responsibility, though it is also part of God's plan. God’s plan works through our choices, not around or despite them. Our choices have consequences, and we are never forced by God to do anything—we always do what we want to do. God works out his will perfectly through our willing actions.”

The furnace of suffering, then, is not outside of God’s plan, but a part of it.

God is not responsible for the furnace brought about by moral evil and sin. But he, being good, wise and loving, will use it as part of his good purposes.

This is a comfort to us. I can remember the day in my mid to late twenties when I met with my mother to forgive her. She left my father and my brother and sister when I was nine.

I have one happy memory before age nine. The rest are glimpses of friction and fighting within the family. The next five years felt like five years in the furnace.

But I don’t regret any of it, because God in his grace used all of it to bring me to his Son and into his family.

By Mark Grace, CCCNZ Ambassador

Southland Churches Come Together for Bible Teaching

Last weekend the church families from Elles Road Bible Chapel, Rosedale Bible Chapel and Edendale Christian Fellowship were involved in the Invercargill Winter Bible School.

Graeme Hillas writes:

“Yes, Invercargill Combined Bible School was a very encouraging and challenging time last weekend. There were four sessions each afternoon with a time of fellowship during the break for afternoon tea. The weekend was organized by both Rosedale and Elles Road Bible Chapel.

"Invitations were extended to southern fellowships all the way up to Queenstown and Henley. Up to 60 people came to a couple of sessions, and a core group of roughly 40 came for the two afternoons. Everyone who attended was built up by teaching on the armour of God from Ian Lowe and challenged by a practical look at prayer by Rob Morton (pictured above).

"The prayer teaching sessions were interactive, with small opportunities to put into action the ideas taught from the Word. It was great to be able to come together like this and share in a time of teaching and fellowship.”

(Rob is the curriculum developer for the Rally movement, and he trains up Bible teachers for the local church by leading the Tim Course in Christchurch.)

Southland Churches coming together to reach their communities through Rally

Leaders work together to build the Rally cube, a reminder of all the ways Rally seeks to build connection with kids and their families.

Leaders come together and build relationships with other leaders on Rally training days.

I loved hearing how three churches are reaching into their communities with the gospel through Rally.

The Southland regional Rally training event happened last weekend in Invercargill.

Tony Foster mentioned that he was super encouraged by the teenage Rally leaders Ben and Isabella Winder from Rosedale Bible Chapel. Well done!

I am grateful for Hannah Winder and her leading the girls' Rally at Rosedale. A big thanks to Tui and Roger who run the boys' Rally at Rosedale.

It is super encouraging that Edendale, a church in a town of approximately 600 people, is connecting with 50 children and their families through Rally.

Shona Lamont from Edendale Christian Fellowship recounted to Tony Foster that the church runs an annual camp and contributes financially to see a good number of the Rally children and teenagers attend. A huge thank you to Shona and her team for all you are doing. So good!

Leaders learn some new ideas in a hands on way. Developing leadership and communication through games are part of every Rally night.

Onslow Community Church Serving Sundays

Left to right: Dom, Liam, and Daniel prepare to serve their community

Pete Rhodes-Robinson writes:

“As part of the effort to engage with our local community, we schedule three days a year to go into the community and practically help individuals, families, and community organisations.

"We do this during our normal Sunday morning church time slot and meet in the evening to share stories, have dinner, worship, and pray together. Jobs generally come from the contacts of individual church members, and we have also reached out to local schools.

"On Sunday 21 May, around 50 of us helped at eight separate locations across the local suburbs. Jobs included baking/making meals for neighbours, lawn-mowing, gardening, water-blasting, cleaning, washing windows, packing up a deceased's estate, and unsuccessfully trying to find a misplaced passport! Others also helped with childcare at church to enable more people to get involved.

"We had a lot of fun, particularly with young and old people working together. It was encouraging to learn about the different connections our people have in the local community and help support and build these relationships together as a church. Everyone we helped was very appreciative.

"We have two more Serving Sundays scheduled for the 20th of August and the 19th of November (helping a local school with their annual fun run fundraiser).”

Grateful for Volunteer Leaders

Keren and Bruce Carter being thanked for their service as youth leaders

At Feilding Bible Chapel our church's volunteer youth leaders are concluding their time in that role to move overseas.

Bruce and Keren Carter will kill me for mentioning them here! For at least three years Keren was a leader in the youth group and then two years ago began leading the ministry with Bruce assisting.

Most Friday nights saw Keren and Bruce involved with their teenagers. As parents of a teenager at youth group Emma and I are profoundly grateful for their ministry.

Ninety-nine percent of ministry carried out across CCCNZ-OBH churches is carried out by people like Keren and Bruce.

If you are reading this and you give of your time to serve, lead, and shepherd voluntarily, a huge thank you.

CCCNZ AGM, Friday 9 June 2023

Te Mape Haimona, one of the leaders involved with Tauwhare Gospel Chapel

Our annual general meeting will be held on Friday 9 June 2023 from 12:00 pm–2:30 pm at Tauwhare Gospel Chapel. (778 Tauwhare Road, Pukemoremore, Waikato)

We recognise that the gospel of Jesus Christ had a profound impact among Māori in New Zealand. We recognise that the same gospel continued to have a profound impact in New Zealand through thousands of Māori men and women involved in a considerable number Open Brethen Māori Assemblies across New Zealand up into the 1950s and 1960s.

We delight in the partnership the CCCNZ-Open Brethren churches have with Māori Postal Aotearoa. In our generation we see younger, gospel-hearted Māori leaders emerging across our wider movement. We see churches working out the implications of the gospel bi-culturally and multiculturally.

For these reasons and many more, the CCCNZ AGM will be a marae based event. We’ll begin with a pōwhiri, followed by lunch, then an hour-long meeting.

All attendees to the AGM will be brought onto the marae at noon with a pōwhiri, followed by a catered lunch and the opportunity to meet and greet others.

This will be followed by the AGM where we will be receiving reports from the Board Chair, the Ambassador, and the Finance Committee, and we will be voting on several agenda items.

Confirmation of attendance in person is required by noon on Friday, 2 June.

Please note that there is one vote per church. A proxy form is provided in the link below.

Additional information regarding the dress code and other details regarding the proceedings will be communicated to registered attendees.

To join us in person and for this purpose please register by emailing office@cccnz.nz.

You can download the agenda and a proxy form here.



 

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