Ron Brewer, NZCN Northland Regional Advocate, gives us this update from Whangarei.
Most people would agree that the Kiwi dream is fast slipping away from us. Christians -who believe they have answers- can sometimes be heard bemoaning the sad state of affairs apparent in our nation and seen first-hand in many-a-local community as poverty, substance abuse, broken homes, violence and other crime wreak havoc in so many lives. Where to get started and how to pull together to make a difference is a daunting task.
So it was a heartening sign of hope for change for the better when a sizable gathering from across the whole spectrum of churches in Whangarei freely came together on Sunday afternoon at Central Baptist Church to listen and to pray.
Can united prayer make any difference to our communities, our towns, our cities? Well-over 150 local folk thought so.
The title for the meeting was, Facing the challenge of a changing world. Four community leaders responded to the invitation to address the gathering. They were: our Mayor, Morris Cutforth, Dr Nick Chamberlain, the CEO of the Whangarei Health Board, Sharon Bain of the Salvation Army, and Morgan Allen of the Churches Education Commission.
Each speaker took a short session to lay out from their perspectives significant needs in the community and challenges in today’s world. Each session was followed by prayer from a different mix of Christian leaders on the platform, focussing on the needs presented and followed in turn with individual prayer in small groups of all those assembled.
The sense of unity and purpose in our calling upon God together in prayer and worship was certainly encouraging and we must hope and plan for it to be built upon and extended in the days ahead. Challenging times call for us to pray and work together as never before.
Ron Brewer is the NZCN Northland Regional Advocate
“For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest of these; It might have been.”
Those famous words written by John Greenleaf Whittier, have a fascinating appeal for most of us. Somewhere in each of our lives is an “If only”
Arguably, one of the most important inventions in history was the telephone. In 1875 while experimenting with the idea of transmitting speech by electrical means, Alexander Graham Bell discovered the basis principle that made the telephone possible. The next year on March 7th 1876, Elisha Gray of Oberlin, Ohio, applied for a patent for a telephone—two hours after Bell patented his invention! If Only!
If Only the captain of The Rena had been paying attention his ship would have never landed on the Astrolabe Reef. At the age of 76, Henry Fonda, the extremely gifted Hollywood actor of yesteryear, made this observation about himself;” I’ve been married 5times and are ashamed of myself. My life has been peppered with suicides—(two of his former wives) and I don’t like to look back at them. I don’t like myself. I never have. People mix me up with the roles that I play” If Only!
Go from that assessment of one man’s life, by himself, to that of another man. I’m sure that you are familiar with the story of David and Bathsheba, how Israel’s king committed adultery and then murder. Because of David’s failure, the name of God was blasphemed throughout Israel’
If Only was probably high on the lists of things that David said to himself; “If Only I’d have been with my troops where the king should have been. If Only I’d had stopped with the first look and not progressed to lust. If Only I hadn’t sent the order to kill Bathsheba’s husband”
David could have spent the rest of his life moaning his condition. He could have gathered a crowd after crowd and told them” You should have seen me when, Oh, the man I could have been!” Instead he cried out to God. Psalm 51; 16-17 reveals the answer…. God required a willing spirit, and will not reject a heart that is broken and sorry for its sin. There are many other Bible heroes who made some bad decisions that resulted in regret. It was Paul, just to name one, who had painful memories of watching Stephen crumble beneath the vicious stoning that took his life. It was Paul—as Saul the persecutor who held the killers coats. Paul often recalled his former day’s as tormentor of Christians, If Only. Malachi 2; 13 observed the agony of regret. His words have a familiar ring about them for all of us travellers who walk the road of Grace in a broken world. There’s no pain so intense as feeling God’s disappointment and of wishing you could turn the clock back.
If Only my home life, upbringing had been different, If Only I had had a good dad, If Only my mother had not been a drug addict, If only my parents hadn’t divorced, If Only I hadn’t been abused as a child, If Only we had been rich instead of poor, etc etc.
If Only keeps us tied to the past that we can’t change, If Only keeps us from learning from the past, If Only keeps us from moving on to a productive future. If Only is fantasy thinking that only makes us miserable and makes nothing better. If Only keeps us blaming and focusing on the past we can’t change, and keeps us from focusing on the future we can change. We cannot move forward until we drop the If Only from our lives. Matt7;7 “Ask and it will be given you…….Jesus was saying to His disciples in effect “ If you need directions through the twisted roads of life, ask me, I know the way”
Today, if you will surrender your to God and bury them, God will resurrect a new life full of possibilities. After following Him for nearly forty years, He has never ever let me down. Will you trust Him with your life? Ron Brewer
Ron is President of the Whangarei Regional Ministers Association and Pastor at Onerahi Christian Community Church. He also serves as NZ Christian Network’s Regional Advocate for Northland