A season to dwell deeply in the Scripture

Bishop Ellie Sanderson

God’s people have always had to navigate challenging times and try to make sense of them in their relationship with God.

As we adjust to this unprecedented season, how can we do this well with Jesus?

I want to really encourage us all to set patterns of prayer and Scripture reading. In the Anglican tradition, that I am part of, our daily offices of prayer come with regular readings of Scripture. Many of you may choose to use other daily Scripture devotionals. God is present to us in the scriptures and this is a time when we can really choose to dwell deeply in them with God.

I want to offer us one potential anchor from Scripture to help guide us as we come to the Bible in this season. This comes from the culminating passage in Paul’s great hymn to love in 1 Corinthians:

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

As we come to our daily readings of Scripture, I want to encourage us to ask. “where do I see faith in this reading?”, “Where do I see hope in this reading?”, “where do I see love in this reading?”. These are helpful questions to guide us into the world of the scriptures. Then, take time to ask the Holy Spirit what faith, what hope, what love God wants to gift to us for our days and our lives now. Then, ask the Holy Spirit what ways we can be bearers of faith, of hope and of love to others. In a season when we can easily become overwhelmed, I want to offer this practice as a way of taking simple, small but significant steps with our God every day.

Let us come to times of Scripture reading with a conscious choice to believe in God’s deep unconditional love for us and an expectation that we can grow in that love ourselves. My prayer is that we will all grow in faith, in hope and in love during this season. Choosing to dwell even more deeply in the scriptures will help us to do this, particularly when we come to them with a confidence in God’s love for us and for the world.

May the peace of Christ rule in your hearts and the treasures of Scripture be a rich and fruitful feast for you, your households and for your neighbours.

Bishop Ellie Sanderson is the Vice President of Bible Society New Zealand

Special lockdown message of hope from Bishop Kito

A reflection for Easter

Rt Rev’d Te Kitohi Pikaahu

E te iwi, e te hoa ma, tena koutou katoa.

Friends, I greet you this Holy Week in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

We are, as a people, been facing an uncertain future in our country, and indeed around the world. We are bracing ourselves for this uncertainty where we learn to adjust to these challenges, the scale of which, I would never ever have imagined possible in our modern world.

The reality of being in lockdown as a nation occurred in the Lenten season. It has been perhaps the right time for us to consider deeply the trials that lay ahead of us as human beings, and as Christians.

Through Lent, and now in the holiest week in the Christian calendar, we journey with Jesus after his temptation and entry into Jerusalem, into his passion and death. We walk with him to his betrayal, his arrest and trial, subjected to the humiliation of being flogged, condemned and put to death on the cross. Even on the cross, Jesus could not escape being taunted by those next to him.

The horror and brutality of the cross causes us to bare our humanity to each other, and before God. In doing so we trust implicitly in God alone to save and deliver us.

A major disruption has transpired on God’s earth. That disruption has caused death around the world, and it has caused economies and institutions to crash. That in turn has had a massive impact on the health and well-being of the whole of humanity.

To date, there has just been the one single death as a result of COVID-19 in New Zealand. That one life seems to have sent a shock wave through our land and has awakened in us the reality of what we are facing. Everyone is taking seriously our collective responsibility to preserve all life, not just our own, but every life on earth.

We are to trust in God’s goodness and mercy during this time. We are to show Jesus’s love to our neighbour, especially those in need. Keeping this in mind and before us at all times, we know that we are never alone in our suffering.

When we come out the other side of COVID 19, we will be presented with an opportunity to push the start button, where we can build a world and a society based on the values of the kingdom of God to give us total security. Those values speak of the love of God: the extraordinary love of God, the unconditional love of God, and the extravagant love of God. God’s love is the one and only foundation for our world.

The kingdom is one which relies utterly on God to keep us: that is God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s grace and God’s peace which we know to be true and right in Jesus Christ our Saviour, the King of Kings, whose kingdom is on earth, and in heaven, where he reigns supreme now and forever.

Kia hora te marino.
Kia whakapapa pounamu te moana.
Kia tere te karohirohi i mua i o koutou huarahi.

May peace be widespread.
May the sea glisten like the greenstone.
May the shimmer of light dance before your path.

And to add the words of the Psalmist: My God bless your coming in and your going out from this day and forever more. Amen.

The Rt Rev’d Te Kitohi Pikaahu, Anglican Bishop of Tai Tokerau

Special lockdown message of hope from pastor Greg Crawford

Pastor Greg Crawford

Dear friend,

When you find yourself plunged into new territory like the lockdown we are in today as a result of covid-19, we still remain with choices in our hands. As a family we faced a pretty big storm “hurricane odile” a few years ago whilst in Mexico. When we as a family found ourselves plunged into darkness with very little food, no power, no water to flush toilets, no phone coverage, no internet, no contact with the outside world… in other words completely alone! We quickly made a choice as a family… let’s get creative, and let’s find ways to support each other, and others instead of sitting here in misery!

“Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in the midst of difficulties”. — C.S. Lewis

Thank you CS Lewis, you are 100% right, and Romans 8:6 reminds us it starts with taking control of our thoughts “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

So in the midst of our current storm, here’s a few simple things that we decided as a family that we pray will help you…

  1. Walk in Love – Be selfless, giving, and put the need of others before your own. Love kicks into action when you don’t feel like it, feelings don’t dictate its choices. When you walk with God, you have a bottomless source of His Love to draw from in the middle of a storm!
  1. Wear a smile, it looks good on your face 😂 joy is a choice we make that no circumstance can steel from you. It’s doesn’t mean we are always in a “good mood” but it does mean we can live in an place of unexplainable contentment. Joy doesn’t allow sadness, or despair to rule thoughts or guide actions.
  1. Take a deep breath and exhale – Peace comes from a deep confidence that God is who He is, and will do what He says He will do. Peace comes from trusting the promises of God in the middle of your storm. You know when you have, and it will rest upon you if you just reach out to God and ask for it… and today is a good day to ask 😇🙏
  1. Exercise Patience – It is still possible to be calm in stressful situations. Like cutting your family a little slack when they are not doing things to your standard. Our homes will be a much nicer place when we daily make decisions to not become easily annoyed. So pause, take a breathe and resist the urge to bite 😜
  1. Be Constantly Kind – find unique ways to celebrate others and serve them when there is a need. That could be as simple as making someone a cup of coffee without being asked… novel I know, but it still builds the right momentum you are after in your family. It looks out for the well-being of others and shows compassion, and benevolence to anyone… even those neighbours at their 2 metre distance 👍
  1. Emanate Goodness – There are still going to be ways to help others in the next few weeks, so let’s remain creative. Goodness does the right thing and inspires your family to do the same. It is honest, honourable, and full of integrity. Good people don’t just do the right thing… they make things right!

Big love from the Crawford’s to you & your family!

Pastor Greg Crawford is the Campus Pastor for City Impact Church at North Shore, Auckland

Australian Bible historian to give lecture in Wellington

Respected Australian historian, author and broadcaster Meredith Lake is visiting Wellington

Public lecture: Race and the Bible Down Under

The Bible arrived down under at a time when Europeans were rethinking both Scripture and race. From land-hungry colonists to Indigenous evangelists, white supremacists to anti-racism activists – people across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand have read it very differently, with nothing less than humanity at stake. This lecture will explore how the Bible has been taken up down under, to contest what it means to be human and to cross cultural boundaries – and what we might learn from that today. continue reading →

First meal on the moon: Buzz Aldrin’s moon communion

Almost everyone knows Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first people to stand on the moon. Almost everyone knows what Armstrong said: ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’

But how many know what Buzz Aldrin did before they stepped out on to the moon’s surface?

Buzz Aldrin

Aldrin was an elder at Webster Presbyterian Church, Houston, Texas. Before the flight he had wondered about how to mark the landing. He wrote in an article for Guideposts magazine in 1970 that his pastor Dean Woodruff had told him ‘God reveals himself in the common elements of everyday life’ – like bread and wine. Woodruff gave him a silver chalice to take with him on the flight, and there was just enough gravity for him to be able to pour the wine from a plastic container. continue reading →

Homeless but happy because of the Bible

This is the remarkable story of penniless, homeless war veteran, who buys a Bible from a trash can and has his life turned around.

Suddenly he discovers hope. He reads and studies the Bible daily praying to God while sitting on his piece of cardboard on the pavement. God answers his prayers and he finds a home.

Arun Sok Nhep, from United Bible Societies, takes up the story….

As I was walking across Vientiane’s market (Laos) after dinner, I noticed a man sitting on the street who appeared to be homeless. I was intrigued as he didn’t seem to be begging but was intensely reading a book and taking notes. Curious, I approached him and immediately recognized the Revised Lao Bible we published in 2012. Even more intrigued, I asked him where this Bible came from and he told me he had purchased it from someone who had found it in the trash. He has been reading it ever since. I could see the well-worn pages, the result of assiduous reading. After a chat, I gave him some money and went on my way. continue reading →

New Bible Society CEO’s love for the Bible

Our new CEO Neels Janse van Rensburg loves his lattes, bike riding, hiking, and movies.

But nothing for him beats reading the Word of God (although a good barbecue is second place!).

“The Bible is more than just the Word of God or a Holy book to me. It’s a mirror I reflect in daily to learn more of who God is. In return, it helps me understand who I already am through the completed work of his Son,” said Neels.

Neels Van Rensburg

Neels Janse van Rensburg

His favourite Bible verse is 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV), ‘His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.’

Neels, who is also a co-pastor on Auckland’s North Shore, has a heart for the broken and says he loves people and helping them to develop their God-given talent. “There’s no greater joy for me than to see an individual leave the station of brokenness and journey to the place of wholeness discovering who they are and what they have to offer in Christ.”

As for Neels’s favourite part of the Bible, it is the life of Jesus. “The ultimate sacrifice he made on the cross presenting us all with the opportunity to be reconciled with the Father and restored to what we are in him is precious.”

Neels takes up his position as Bible Society New Zealand CEO on 1 April.

New leadership at Bible Society New Zealand

Bible Society New Zealand is delighted to announce the appointment of a new CEO, Neels Janse van Rensburg, who will commence his tenure on 1 April 2019.

The current General Manager of Manna Christian Stores, Neels has more than 18 year’s experience in fostering operational efficiencies across the corporate, private and non-profit sectors. He served as a Chief Operating Officer and Divisional Director at a number of different organisations in South Africa. More recently he worked as a senior manager at the ANZ Bank in New Zealand.

Neels joined Bible Society in January 2013 as Missions Delivery Manager before moving to Relationships Director, where he was responsible for all external stakeholder interaction and mission resource delivery. continue reading →

Thousands in the middle-east receive the Bible this Christmas

Thousands of migrant workers from labour camps in Qatar attending the Festival of Peace received free Scripture in their concert Christmas gift bag!

As churches wrapped up Christmas gifts for festival attendees Bible Society included a copy of the scriptures in each gift bag.

FestivalOfPeaceWordPressPostSmlBible Society in the Gulf States (BSG) distributed 2,000 Hindi, 2,000 Nepali, 1,000 Telugu, 500 Sinhala, 1,000 Tamil and 1,000 Malayalam New Testaments to many of the 10,000 festival goers on both days.

The Festival of Peace, held in Doha, was organised by American singer, songwriter, music producer and Pastor Don Moen. continue reading →

Nuns in Iraq stay strong amidst the horrors of war

An order of Dominican nuns in Iraq, committed to living and preaching the Gospel amidst the horrors of war, are determined to stay.

“We will not leave our people. Wherever they go, we will go,” says Sister Huda who is 66 years-old. She, along with other remaining sisters, is serving 200 children, most of whom are from Mosel.

Bible Translation Work

The Dominican Nuns also partner with Bible Society Iraq to facilitate Bible Translation work. Bible Society Iraq CEO Nabil Omeish explained the two groups have been working together for 30 years on the Bahdini (Kurdish language) New Testament Bible translation and are also working on the Old Testament. continue reading →