"Na ka tahuri ake ahau kia kite i te reo i korero nei ki ahau. A, i taku tahuritanga ake, ka kite ahau i nga turanga rama koura e whitu; A i waenganui o nga turanga rama ko tetahi e rite ana ki te Tama a te tangata, ko tona kakahu tatu noa ki nga waewae, he mea whitiki te uma ki te whitiki koura."
"I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest."
"Na ‘ou liliu atu e va‘ai po o ai o lo‘o tautala mai ‘iā te a‘u; na ‘ou liliu atu, ma ‘ua ‘ou va‘aia ai tu‘ugāmolī auro e fitu. O lo‘o tu i le ogātotonu le tagata e foliga mai o le atali‘i o le tagata, e ‘ofu o ia i le ‘ofu talaloa umi, ma ‘ua fusi fo‘i lona fatafata i le fusi auro. "
Jesus speaks to seven different churches across Asia in chapters two and three of Revelation. In most of the letters to the churches, Jesus follows a similar pattern. He gives a commendation followed by a critique.
At the heart of most of the critiques, Jesus reprimands complacency born out of comfort.
There seems to have been a sense of misplaced self-satisfaction that had grown up among the churches. Some of the churches seemed unwilling to address sexual impurity, false teaching and lavish lifestyles, while others just seemed to be happy going through the motions. They seem unaware of the urgency of Jesus’s coming. Most importantly, they seem unclear on who Jesus actually is.
This kind of complacency has its roots in being comfortable. And this kind of comfortableness has idolatry at its heart. Idolatry is giving your love, your heart, to someone or something other than God. It is giving more worship, adoration, time-respect and value to relationships, practices and people other than God.
Idolatry rarely confronts you. It grows on you and in you slowly, step by slow step. It can come to us through the even the best of God’s gifts... our kids, their sports and after-school activities, our lifestyle choices, our weekends away.
Here in chapter one, Jesus is described in a way that will shake the churches out of their complacency. He’s wanting to woo them out of their comfort and awe them away from their idolatry. He does this by showing two things:
Firstly, he is more powerful than they imagine.
Secondly, he is better than their comforts.
Jesus is saying to the seven churches: I’ve walked amongst you. I’ve been with you. Out of love for you I’ve been scrutinizing you, weighing you, examining, looking, assessing, evaluating you.
And so Jesus gives us, his church, a blazing vision of who he really is using symbolic language. He’s saying: I’m better than your comforts.
In chapter one, we see so many different aspects of Christ:
- Jesus is one of us, fully human and fully God (verse 12)
- Jesus is the judge, wearing the sash of a Roman judge (verse 13)
- Jesus is absolutely pure, with hair perfectly white (verse 14a)
- Jesus is absolutely just, with eyes like fire (verse 14b)
- Jesus is returning to judge the world justly (verse 15)
More depictions of Jesus' glory follow. "Out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword.”
"His face was like the sun shinning in its strength.” He is “the living one”. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the guarantee that we will live forever with Him. He has “the keys of death and Hades.”
We've all heard the phrase, “I just don’t know what this world is coming to!”
Jesus is saying, "I know what this world is coming to. The world as it is, is coming to meet me! And on that day I will put all my enemies and every evil power that stands against me under my feet."
Jesus is bigger than your fears, and better than your comforts.
One of the things I most enjoy watching in the NRL (besides the 2023 Warriors) is watching replays of players who celebrate before they’ve scored and then get tackled! It’s as if they think they’ve finished the task before they have actually finished. I've seen an entire three-minute YouTube clip of athletes celebrating before they won, and then losing.
In reading Jesus’s letters to the seven churches, we see complacency, comfort and idolatry. It's almost as if they were celebrating the finish before they’d finished.
In a famous sermon to hundreds of young adults in 1990, John Piper said this:
“I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life.
"Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader’s Digest, which tells about a couple who 'took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.'
"At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American dream. But it wasn’t. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life—your one and only precious, God-given life—and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells.
"Picture them before Jesus at the great day of judgment: ‘Look, Lord. See my shells.’ That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don’t buy it. Don’t waste your life.”
Jesus is bigger that your fears, and better than your comforts.
By Mark Grace, CCCNZ Ambassador.
CCCNZ Annual General Meeting
During the pōwhiri, from left: Malachi Williams, Nick Goodwin, Julie McKinnon, Cynthia Hulse, Char Williams and Paul Samuels.
On Friday afternoon, we gathered at the Tauwhare Marae in the Waikato.
The day involved a Pōwhiri, a listening hui with CCCNZ Board members and Māori CCCNZ-OBH leaders, an AGM and a good time talking together over lunch.
A huge thank you to Te Mape Haimona, Renata Te Aho and Norm Silcock (leaders of Tauwhare Marae and Tauwhare Gospel Chapel) for so warmly hosting us and contributing to the listening hui.
A huge thank you to church leaders from across the Waikato—Auckland region who came.
From left: Gordon Fountain, Rick Iles, Stuart Bay, Kevin Ngawhau, Helen Ngawhau, Bruce Stormer, Chris Broadbent, Richard Goodwin, Te Mape Haimona, Kahurere, Shannon Samuels, Murray Frost, Dave Firth, Nick Goodwin, Norm Silcock, Seufata Burgess, Maufuaina Tominiko, Mark Grace, Mark van Wijk, Jackie Millar and Paul Samuels.
From left: Cynthia Hulse, Graham Hulse, Ane Ponifasio, Bruce McDowall, Grant Birks, Liz Silcock, Ian McBride, Richard Davis, Jerome Edwards, Dale Wairau, Kelly Wairau, Gillian Guptill, Gordon Fountain, Rick Iles, Stuart Bay, Kevin Ngawhau, Helen Ngawhau, Bruce Stormer, Chris Broadbent, Jackie Millar, Paul Samuels and Kemp Pallesen.
From left: Richard Goodwin, Norm Silcock, Ane Ponifasio, Chris Broadbent, (JC Marais), Murray Frost, Renata Te Aho, Te Mape Haimona, Mark Grace, Max Guptill, Gillian Guptill, Paul Samuels, Kemp Pallesen, Bruce Stormer and Stuart Bay.
CCCNZ Board members listened to Māori CCCNZ-Open Brethren, Māori leaders from Tauwhare Gospel Chapel and Tauwhare Marae, along with others from around the country.
It was a privilege to hear the heart of Kemp Pallesen. Kemp (89) has spent a lifetime amongst our movement of churches working with Māori and Pākehā.
Kemp shared on the significance of this day for the growth of the gospel on these Islands. It was deeply moving listening to Paul Samuels who recounted that the Māori assembly at Rukumoana—the one that he and Kemp are re-establishing—was the first Māori Brethren Assembly in the world.
I was very moved by Te Mape and Renata as they shared Tauwhare Marae and Tauwhare Gospel Chapel's passion to point people to Jesus through the gospel from the Scriptures. I am thankful for the leadership of Jerome Edwards, Max Guptill and Te Mape Haimona as they lead us through the day.
Left to right: Maufuaina Tominiko, Norm Silcock, Renata Te Aho, Liz Silcock and Mihiwai Te Aho
Linked below is the CCCNZ annual report.
In it you’ll hear stories of what God is doing as we work together as churches (with the support of the campsites and support ministries) to point people to Jesus through the gospel from the Scriptures.
As a service trust it is a profound privilege to serve amongst you as you and your churches live and speak the good news of Jesus.
Waikato-Auckland Regional Rally Training Day
Tony Foster the NZ Rally co-ordinator writes:
"We had an amazing time at the Waikato and Auckland Regional Training day, which was held at Whitiora Bible Church last weekend. Thanks, Whitiora, for hosting us!
"Ron Altena from Manurewa Bible Church shared about the big project of wacky bikes they did, and we even got to ride them. Joy Wallace from Manawaru Rally showed us Zonk, Dale McClunie from Te Awamutu Girls Rally shared about a cool Easter Egg hobby that shares the story of Easter. Melanie Clarke from Whitiora Senior Girls Rally shared about a camping spot Rallies go to on their property.
"Jon Church and I met with Phil Taylor from Kauaeranga Valley Christian Camp. This was one of the initial steps to starting a Waikato/Bay of Plenty and Auckland Regional Rally Camp. We will be holding a meeting on the 5th August for any Rally Leaders in these areas who would like to join in on this camp. The regional camp will be in March next year.
"We also joined the Whitiora Senior Girls Rally on Friday night. Any questions contact me at email@example.com "
First Training South Island
During King’s Birthday weekend, 37 younger leaders from 4 churches - Grace Church, Rutland Street Church, Riccarton Community Church, and Halswell Community Church attended the First Training at South Island Waipara Adventure Centre.
A huge thanks to Matt Meek from Riccarton Community Church and Lance Robinson (pictured above) from Rutland Street Church for your leadership and input into the First Training.
Introducing the CCCNZ Waikato-Bay of Plenty Regional Enabler
"Sunana Grant Birks (Hausa for “My name is Grant Birks”).
"Although born and raised in the Bay of Plenty, it has been many years since we called this area, or even New Zealand, home.
"In January this year I returned to NZ with my family (my wife, Johanna, and 4 children) after 14 years serving the church in Nigeria with SIM.
"It has been interesting, and somewhat challenging at times, to see the changes in NZ during the time we have been away. For our children it has been a complete cultural adjustment, but they are loving the freedoms here, though not the colder temperatures so much.
"Serving with and among the persecuted church in Nigeria has given me great insight into the need for strong churches and church leadership at all levels, in order to respond to the many challenges of the contemporary culture and worldview.
"I am excited about God’s church family and the work he is doing for his kingdom through it. Working with people to support, encourage and strengthen them in their ministries has been one of my main roles in Nigeria and something I am passionate about.
"In June I started my role as Waikato/Bay of Plenty Regional Enabler for CCCNZ, something I am excited about as it enables me to continue to work with God's people in God’s church for God’s purposes and glory.
"Yes, you could say it's almost my dream job, although I will admit I have a lot to learn from you about the amazing things God is doing here through you and his churches.
"I very much look forward to meeting many of you, hearing your stories, and encouraging, supporting and praying for you in whatever ways I can as you work together to point people to Jesus through the gospel from the Scriptures."