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Finding our identity in Christ

I was chatting with a couple of mums at a church camp recently. We talked about the growing pressure to be running your kids to sports, drama, arts activities... the list is endless! There seems to be a growing pressure to have your kids at everything. 

Before the pandemic, experts identified that retirement savings were at risk. Why? Because of the level of travel photography on social media.

The pressure to buy.
The pressure to experience. 
The pressure to provide opportunities.
The pressure to own as much as you can and squeeze as much out of this life as possible.

It’s a story of validation.

Think about it--we have the most resources of any generation in history, we have more leisure and more time saving technology and resources and yet we are one of the least happy generations in history.

We have a huge suicide rate, we are working longer hours, the level of margin in our lives is decreasing.

It leaves us and our hearts exhausted, with no margin for what we long for at the deepest level.

How do we find identity and belonging? 

In Ephesians chapter 1 we read about a profoundly different identity that is not about what we do or how much we own. It's not about how much we've managed to work or experience in this life.

Our identity is defined by the God who made us.

He’s chosen us.
He’s predestined us.
He’s adopted us.
He’s redeemed us.
He’s forgiven us.
He’s made known to us the mystery of his will.
He’s included us.
He’s sealed us.
He’s bought us!

It is grace; loving, lavish grace, freely given grace.

God was pleased to choose you out of the richness and abundance of his grace, and he’s done all this that we would delight in him and praise him. 

So who are we?

We are chosen by God.
We are destined by God to be in his family.
We are redeemed and forgiven through Jesus.
We are going to live in a reunified world.

It's this that validates us. 

We heard and believed Jesus’ gospel and now God’s Spirit lives in us, guaranteeing our salvation. This had radical implications for living in Ephesus and it has radical implications for living in this new New Zealand. 

Snippets from the week

Lovely to spend time with Tim Hodge (pictured), in Palmerston North this week.

It’s Thursday night, 7:30pm and I’m on a Zoom call with board members and staff from Māori Postal Aotearoa.

I'm grateful for new members to the board, Richard Goodwin and Luke Goodwin, and Howard Goold.

I'm grateful for existing members and good friends of the MPA; Russell Hohneck, and Norm and Liz Silcock. I also appreciate the staff, Malachi and Char Williams. 

I came away from the bi-cultural conversation at Ministry Summit a couple of weeks ago deeply encouraged.

I really appreciated the wisdom and insight of Shannon Samuels, Jerome Edwards (pictured), Richard Goodwin and others who spoke.

I came away encouraged by the range of churches seeking to be more bilingual, by the younger Māori leaders present, and by the example of Pathways College of Bible and Mission.

I have the privilege of chairing the NZ Rally Council.

In that capacity I loved chatting with Tony Foster (pictured above), the National Rally Facilitator, this afternoon.

I'm encouraged by the work going into the updated Rally website. If you haven’t seen it, do check it out.

This week John Barris from Tawa Gospel Chapel sent me a note about Lindsay Smith (pictured below):

"It is with sadness that I'm letting you know that Lindsay Smith passed into the presence of the Lord Jesus yesterday morning.
"Lindsay and Eleanor were missionaries in Ireland in the early to mid 90s. 

"Lindsay headed up the Emmaus Correspondence Courses in New Zealand (listed in Home Workers Prayer Guide day 17) and fellowshipped with us here at Tawa Gospel Hall".

Please pray for Eleanor and the family that the Lord will surround them with his presence and comfort.

On a personal note

It isn’t fun watching your 6 foot 2 inch 16-year-old son bounce off his motorbike at full speed upside down, with feet six foot in the air, and crash on his neck and back in the middle of a motocross race! I'm grateful to God that he is OK. 

I spent time out of the office today watching Zoe’s cross country race.

Looking forward to having Elliot Auer, a younger member of the Crossroads Church preaching team (Palmerston North) preaching for our own church family on Sunday. A joy to be partnering with other churches in preaching and teaching ministry.  

Thanks for all you are doing, and for your partnership in the gospel.

Ngā mihi nui, 

Mark Grace


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