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02. Jan, 2012

Remember to Take Your Vitamins in 2012

Remember to Take Your Vitamins in 2012

Bible and VitaminThanks to my beautiful bride, Melanie, I began taking a multi-vitamin supplement a few years ago.  The interesting thing with vitamins, though, is that I don’t feel a sudden burst of energy and health each time I take a vitamin.  Yet, I continue to take my vitamins each day knowing that in the long-run, my body will be stronger and healthier as a result of this discipline.

Over the last five years, I’ve sought to read through the Bible in a year and I’m doing it again in 2012.  To be honest, sometimes it takes discipline and hard work to stay on track.  There are days I’m not struck my some new truth or revelation about God, His Word and His plan for my life.  But, much like my vitamins, I know that by spending time in God’s word each day, I will grow stronger in my faith and my relationship with Him.

I’ve been able to tell in my attitudes and perspective when I have missed a few days and I work to catch back up and stay on track.  It becomes painfully evident that I haven’t been taking my vitamins.

So what about you?  As we start into a New Year, will you take up the challenge to read through God’s Word?  There are many great tools out there, some of the best are found at www.youversion.com.

15. Aug, 2011

Why I Love My “Job”!

Why I Love My “Job”!

I have often thought that Ty Pennington had the coolest job in doing Extreme Home Makeover, but after our recent trip to India, I’ve been reminded again that I have the coolest job.  Yes, it is my “job”, but it is so much more than that!  Mel and I led the team of 18 from here in NZ to India and even had the privilege of having two of our kids with us.  Seeing people’s eyes opened to other people and cultures, seeing that God can and will use them, and that He is indeed faithful and sovereign.  That is what I love to see!

Two different people shared after the trip that their perspective of India and Indians has changed as a result of going.  One of them said they can’t get India off their mind and pray so much more for India and the ministries we witnessed.  Two young guys shared that they believe cross-cultural service and ministry will likely be part of their future in some capacity, something they hadn’t even contemplated before the trip.

During the trip, at one our morning meetings at breakfast, I asked one older gentleman to pray.  He later shared with Melanie that it was the first time he’d ever prayed publicly.  Another gentleman, one with a physical disability, was unsure why he was even suppose to go on the trip, but knew that God wanted him to go.  And yet to watch how God used him to encourage and challenge the people we met and then to hear two of the team members say that he was one of the people who most impacted them on the trip.

And then there was the impact on our hosts.  It was the first time a team had gone from our church to serve alongside them.  To see our host in tears at the end of our time there because we were such an encouragement and blessing to them, definitely makes it all worthwhile!

Yep, I’ve got one of the coolest “jobs” and I’m so grateful that God is willing to use broken vessels like the Stark family to accomplish His divine purposes!

13. May, 2011

Lessons from a Luggage Cart

Lessons from a Luggage Cart

I’m about to head out to another airport to begin my trip home to see my family on the other side of the world. Airports are interesting places, wonderful places to people watch.

Lessons from a Luggage Cart

As I’ve watched folks, I’ve observed some broad generalities in people, particularly when it comes to their luggage and travel.

There are those that have luggage carts weighed down with multiple bags, often pushed by parents trying to figure out where to go, keeping the cart going straight and trying to keep their small children in tow. People that look exhausted, bogged down with the responsibilities and searching for the right direction.

Then there are those, often in business attire, pulling a lone rolling carry-on bag behind them. They are focused, know right where they are headed and moving with what appears to be purpose. They may be checking their messages on their phone or talking into their Bluetooth headset. They get frustrated with the luggage cart crowd and never slow down enough to notice let alone enjoy where they are.

Enjoy the ViewFinally, there are the backpackers. They typically stroll leisurely along, and all they need is on their back. They don’t mind stopping to enjoy the view or smell the flowers. They love to engage in conversation and connect with people as they travel. They are more interested in the journey than the destination.

To be honest, on various trips, I’ve fallen into each of those categories. When I traveled most weekends for ministry, I was the focused rolling carry-on person. When we’ve moving internationally, I was definitely the luggage cart Dad. And on some occasions, honestly not enough times, I just carry my backpack and enjoy the experience.

But the observations go beyond just traveling and apply to life. As you travel down life’s highway, are you bogged down by too much luggage and the cares of this world? Are you so focused and filled with agendas that you don’t even stop to notice people and enjoy life? Or do you realize that really, it is as much about the journey as it is the destination?

Might we all stop to enjoy the view, smell the flowers and invest in relationships as we journey through life.

16. Mar, 2011

For Such a Time as This

For Such a Time as This

Did it ever occur to you that God has given you a gift and ability for a reason? That He has equipped each person and placed them in the right place for the right time?

As Moses is laying out the instructions for building the tabernacle in Exodus 35 and 36, he tells the people that God had filled Bezalel and Oholiab with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship.

At this point in Israel’s history, they needed people with skill to build the tabernacle and to teach others.  And God filled and equipped people for the task, much like He equipped and filled Moses for the task of leading the people.

So, too, today.  God has equipped and filled you for a purpose and a task in His Kingdom.  Yet too often we sit back bemoaning that we don’t have someone else’s gift or that no one has recognized my gift or contribution. Instead, we ought to seek to use our gift for His glory.

I was struck by the reality of this last week when I was in Christchurch.  God has called, filled and equipped the church in Christchurch for such a time as this.  I saw the same thing after Hurricane Katrina.  God wasn’t fretting about the calamity and how His glory could be shown or who He could get to be His Hands and Feet.  He had already orchestrated that.

So how has God filled and equipped you for His service?  Are you walking in those gifts and using them?  I guarantee there is room, more than that, there is need in the church, in His Kingdom for those gifts!

16. Mar, 2011

Reflections on Christchurch

Reflections on Christchurch

I spent a couple of days in Christchurch last week, seeking to connect with churches to see how we might be able to mobilize people to assist with the ongoing recovery and rebuilding efforts.  While I was there, I was struck with a few thoughts.

1) Nothing catches God by surprise.  He is not sitting up in heaven wringing His hands over what happened in Christchurch or in Japan for that matter.  He is a God who cares and that is evident by the response of His people to tragedy.  Even beyond the initial wave of emergency relief, the Church is seeking to be a positive response for the months and years to come.

2) People are resilient.  I stayed with a family who was affected by both the September and the February quakes.  Their home was damaged in September and the office the wife worked in was damaged in February.  Yet, they have a good humor, and a positive attitude about what is happening and graciously opened their home for me to stay with them.

3) God is sovereign.  I went to Christchurch two weeks after the quake.  My experience is not in emergency relief, but in ongoing recovery.  As I met with people that is what they were asking about.  Many were wrapping up their emergency efforts and looking at the ongoing recovery and rebuilding.  So my visit was well timed and God allowed me to be an encouragement and provide ideas for the future.

4) There is much to be done…in Christchurch, in Haiti, in Japan.  Their are needs everywhere and it is easy for us to sit back and look with shock and horror at the images on our screens and then go about our lives the same.  But there are always things we can do.  Click here for ideas of how you can be involved in Christchurch.

25. Jan, 2011

Misrepresenting God

I’ve read through Job multiple times and the classic themes of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness amidst suffering were evident again, but I was struck by something new this time through.

In Job 42:7, God tells Eliphaz that He is angry with him and his friends because they have not spoken accurately about God. They must not only offer a sacrifice, but ask Job to pray for them. They had so misrepresented God, that Job had to pray for them so that God would then forgive them!

It caused me to pause and consider…have I spoken accurately about God? Yes, when I’m given opportunity to teach and preach, I am very conscious of making sure I represent God as accurately as I can.

But it is much more than that. Do I speak accurately about God through my attitudes, words and actions in every day life? Do my wife and children see an accurate representation of God in my life? Do the people I encounter at the shoppes or as I travel see an accurate representation of God in me?

After seeing how I live and interact with others, would God be angry with me because I did not represent Him accurately?

A question we each should carefully consider.

05. Jan, 2011

Jumping to Conclusions

I always find it interesting and challenging to read through Job. After all, here is a guy who was hugely blessed and then had *everything* taken away and his response is, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord!”

There are so many lessons from the book of Job, but I’ve been struck this time through by Job’s “friends.” They are very well meaning. After all, they leave their normal lives and just come and sit with Job in his time of sorrow and suffering. But they likely would have been better to just draw the line there, sit in silence, pray and comfort.

As I’ve been reading their responses, I’ve been amazed by how quick they were to jump to conclusions and to judge. They were convinced that their friend was in this spot because of his own sin and they made sure he knew that.

Now I recognize that no one is perfect, including Job, but we are privy to the fact that this was a trial that God allowed, not because of Job’s sin, but in actuality, because of his righteousness. If Job wasn’t a righteous man, this would not have been afflicted on him…ponder that thought for a moment as well.

So I am left again to ponder two thoughts; would God ever offer me up to Satan as an example of a faithful servant who would not curse God in the midst of trial and tribulation, and am I like Job’s friends, quickly jumping to conclusions and being judgmental towards people around me without seeing or knowing God’s bigger picture?

03. Jan, 2011

The Crown of Creation

The Crown of Creation

So I’ve gotten underway with my through the year Bible Reading challenge. It was good to re-read the creation account they other day and to see again a couple of key things.

1) I have been created in the image of God. I have been created different than any other creature. God breathed His very breathe into man. I am not a mistake, and my life has value.

2) Man was the crowning point of creation. The final piece and more specifically, the woman was the ultimate pinnacle of creation. Not until Man and Woman were created was creation done. But once they were created, creation was complete and it was “very good!”

What does this mean? That my value is not determined by anybody else’s opinion or ranking of my life. My true value is as the crown of God’s creation and being made in His likeness. I cannot let other’s opinions and ideas determine the course of my life.

It also means that I cannot treat others like they have no value or even less value as they too are the crown of God’s creation and created in His image.

So as we start 2011, let us each remember our true value and place and treat other’s with the love and respect due the crown of God’s creation.

27. Dec, 2010

The Value of God’s Word

The Value of God’s Word

So I just finished reading through the Bible this year in the Message. I find it a rewarding experience to read through the Bible in a year over the last few years.

I have often thought about being committed to reading God’s Word, a bit like taking vitamins. Just because I take a vitamin in the morning when I wake up, I don’t feel a sudden ‘zing’ of energy. I take vitamins because I know that when I do it consistently, day after day, my body will be stronger and healthier as a result.

So too with God’s word, although there are days when I’m not overcome with anything earthshaking when I’m reading, I do know that when I am faithful to read God’s word regularly, over the long-haul, my walk with God will be richer and deeper.

That is one reason that I like doing a Bible read-through…that and it is a great way to get into passages I wouldn’t normally read. I’ve also found it rewarding to read in different translations for different perspectives.

So what will you do in 2011…would you join me in reading through the Bible? I’m going to do the chronological reading plan out of the New Living Translation.