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Unguarded Strengths

John 18:10

"Na he hoari ta Haimona Pita, unuhia ana e ia a haua iho te pononga a te tohunga nui, tapahia ana tona taringa matau. Ko te ingoa o taua pononga ko Maraku."

"Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)"

"O Simona Peteru foi, ua i ai le pelu, ua se‘i e ia, ma taia a‘i le auauna a le ositaulaga sili, ua tipiesea lona taliga taumatau; o Maliko le igoa o le auauna."

When he meets the soldiers, Jesus instantly de-escalates the situation and diverts the soldiers' attention away from the disciples and onto himself.

Simon Peter, on the other hand, is doing the exact opposite. He draws his sword and slashes the ear of the high priest's servant Malchus. He is both escalating the situation and drawing attention to himself.

Simon Peter is an "Ear Cutter". With the best of intentions, he does exactly the wrong thing.

Many of Simon Peter's strengths—his courageous faith in Jesus (John 6:39-30), his loyalty to Jesus (John 13:37), and his can-do attitude—are on display in this moment. But Jesus rebukes him. Why?

1) A man is writhing in shock at the loss of his ear. It’s not in the text of John but Jesus does attach the ear back onto Malchus.

2) He wanted to save Jesus, but Jesus didn’t need saving.

3) What he thought he was doing was being helpful, but what he was actually doing was being a hindrance.

4) At the core, Peter wanted to be a saviour—but Jesus is the only Saviour.

I can be a lot like Simon Peter at times.

A fully qualified "Ear Cutter". Not literally, but metaphorically. "Ear Cutters" have strengths, but at critical times they fail to guard them.

J. Oswald Sanders, a profoundly significant New Zealand christian leader from a previous generation, once said: “An unguarded strength can become a double weakness.”

Chris Clarke, NZ CEO of the Wilberforce Foundation, recently made a similar observation: “Leaders guard our weaknesses closely; we know they have the potential to undo us and those around us. We seldom guard our strengths. And yet it is typically our strengths and not our weaknesses that catch us out because they are unguarded.”

When I recall incidents where I have contributed to a situation becoming strained or tense in a leadership team, it’s often due to an unguarded strength.

I'm not surprised to note that when a strength is unguarded, it's because an area of my character is still to be fully formed or forged. If you count yourself with the "Ear Cutters" as I sometimes do, the good news of Jesus’ gospel is that he, by his Spirit, moulds our strengths and deepens our characters, within the leadership communities in which he places us.

The good news of the gospel is this: just like Jesus fixed the pain that Peter's unguarded strength caused, he is more than capable of fixing and using our mistakes.

The good news of the gospel is that I am not my own saviour, and I am not the saviour of the leadership teams I'm in. He alone is our saviour.

By Mark Grace, CCCNZ Ambassador

News from Churches in NZ

Our vision is to see churches—and the regional campsites and national support ministries who serve them—working together to point people to Jesus through the gospel from the Scriptures.

It was a delight then to hear about three churches in the Canterbury region reaching into their communities through a combined regional Rally camp last weekend: Church Street Bible Chapel, Glentunnel Chapel and Rutland Street Church.

As they worked together, 68 children experienced and heard the gospel throughout the weekend.

It was encouraging to see ten teenage cadets (volunteer Rally leaders in training) take on significant leadership responsibilities. I am grateful too for Marty Scheib from Riccarton Community Church for pointing the kids to Jesus, through the gospel, from the Scriptures.

I also heard that Church Street Bible Chapel won the tug of war. Well done team!

I received the photo above from Sue Barrow at Kelston Community Church. It was taken at their Alpha camp last weekend, held at Willow Park Camp in Auckland.

What a joy it was to see the church family and inquiring friends discovering more of Jesus and his good news together.

Dear Lord, we ask that your Spirit would be working through your Word to point these people to you over the coming weeks.

I loved hearing from Daryl Bay at Hope Community Church in Nelson.

Daryl writes:

“'Show the Way' is our leadership development program, a fruit of covid learnings. We gather one hundred of our leaders, disciples, and counsellors once a term for an evening. It is filled with sharing stories, sharing dinner and learning about a specific area of focus. This term Rowland Forman taught on ministering to people in pain.”

What a simple but significant idea. Investing into leaders, disciples and counsellors on a regular basis. Love it!

Lower North Island Regional Summit (27 May)

Above left: Peter Rhodes-Robinson from Onslow Community Church talking with leaders from Wellington and the Kāpiti Coast. 

Above right: Max Faletutulu from Tītahi Bay Community Church talks to leaders from Church on Vogel, Feilding Bible Chapel and others in the prayer workshop.

Below left: Mark van Wijk, CCCNZ PastorLink Enabler, and Henare Whaanga, Pathway Christian Centre, talk with leaders from Onslow Community Church.

Below right: Susie Snell and Karen McLeod from Feilding Bible Chapel talk to leaders from The Anchor Church and Porirua Gospel Chapel.

On Saturday more than 90 people from eighteen churches came together for the Lower North Island Summit.

It was a delight to sit in and hear local church leaders from the region talking through both opportunities and challenges.

Maria Henderson from Riverbend Bible Church (pictured below) talked about how Riverbend and Onekawa Bible Church worked together for clyclone relief. It was so encouraging to hear that churches across the movement have responded to the need practically and financially.

Maria has co-ordinated the churches' relief efforts and noted that diggers are still in hot demand. If you or a group with a digger want to spend a weekend in the Hawke's Bay, do touch base with Maria at Riverbend.

Maria updates summit attendees on the work done for cyclone relief

I loved hearing about the impact that a talk on intergenerational ministry by Heather Rhodes-Robinson's from Onslow Community Church had on listeners.

Another highlight was seeing church leaders explore the opportunity to develop a leadership pathway with Joel Birkin from Kingston Community Church in Palmerston North.

Elders in particular appreciated the practical and professional nature of the crisis communications workshop, which gave tangible counsel regarding how to handle increasing media interest in Christian activities. The workshop was led by practitioners who work across the New Zealand church and marketplace.

I am immensely grateful for the volunteer church leaders who give their time to point us to Jesus.

I can't wait to see what the Lord does to point more people to himself through the new relationships made throughout the summit.

Thanks to the church family at Church @ Cedarwood for leading us in worship.

Also thanks to Isaac Pettersen from Crossroads Church pointed us to Jesus from the book of Hebrews, and many ministry leaders from across Lower North Island Churches contributed to workshops.



 

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