come and see

John 1:46 “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Nathanael asked.“Come and see,” answered Philip.


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The Road Cones of Faith

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The reading from Ephesians 6:10-18 is the one about the Armour of God. We have spoken on this reading before, but this time we were particularly inspired by a picture from Desert Island Church. Do check out their website – I particularly like some of the cartoons, but that may be my English sense of humour!

Anyway, with that bit of inspiration, some borrowed builders clothing, and some small helpers, we came up with our own version of “The Road Cones of Faith”
 
 

The Message
armor(We started with the reading from Ephesians)
Well, I don’t know about you, but after listening to that reading I have a feeling that we are all dressed incorrectly. I mean, shouldn’t we all be looking a bit like this!

But is this really about what we should wear? Well, of course not. It is about equipping ourselves for battle – not a battle with each other or other nations or countries, but a battle of the Spirit; the battle between good and evil, right and wrong – the battle between God and Satan that has been happening right from the beginning of time.

We are in a battle for our souls. Jesus came so that we have life through him. Satan lost big time when Jesus died on the cross for us, but Satan keeps on fighting and is still causing problems for God’s people. Satan is sneaky. He wants nothing more than to take us away from God, and he will use every trick that he can to do so. Like a great warrior we need to put on our armour, and because our enemy is a spirit, God has given us spiritual armour.

Now, the writer of the letter to the Ephesians, this morning’s reading, was Paul, and he was likening the equipment needed for this Spiritual battle to things that would have been familiar to the people he was writing to – that is, the armour worn by the Roman soldiers of the time.

"Road Cones of Faith" from Desert Island Church (http://www.desertislandchurch.co.uk/visual_aids_01a_road_cones_of_faith.htm)

“Road Cones of Faith” from Desert Island Church (http://www.desertislandchurch.co.uk/visual_aids_01a_road_cones_of_faith.htm)

Well I personally haven’t seen any Roman soldiers around here lately, so how about we illustrate this reading with some things that are probably a lot more familiar to we Cantabrians nowadays? That’s right Builder’s safety gear. And to make it a bit more interesting, I need a volunteer to model how it is used.

So let’s put on the builder’s Personal Protective Equipment of God!

The tool belt of truth (v14)
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist”
The tool belt is used to keep everything together that is needed on the job. When confronted with something that needs fixing our builder doesn’t have to go off to find the equipment he needs, it is right there at hand. When we keep God’s truth with us – in our hearts and minds, and living it in our daily lives – we won’t get confused about what is real and what are lies from the enemy. And the way that we know what the truth is, is by listening to, and reading and learning, God’s word.

The reflective jacket of righteousness (v14)
“with the breastplate of righteousness in place”

Righteousness means being right with God.
The reflective jacket is used so that our builder can easily be seen. If he wanted to hide he would need to take it off – I don’t know, maybe he didn’t really want to climb that scaffolding, so he was hoping his foreman wouldn’t see him.
We know that God sees us always. This is a reminder to us to guard our hearts and attitudes so that we are always right with God and not ashamed to be seen by Him.

Gospel steel toe-capped boots (v15)
“with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”

It’s much easier to walk with a good pair of shoes or boots on. Be ready to go wherever, and to whoever, God sends you, to tell the good news of God’s amazing love for us.

The road cones of faith (v16)
“take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”

Well, road cones might not be much good against flaming arrows, but there aren’t that many of those around Christchurch either. There are a lot of cars though, and the road cones will ward them off from around the areas our builder is working so he’s not going to get knocked over. Road cones don’t have a lot of material compared to cars, but the builder trusts that they will do their job and keep him safe. In the same way, faith in God is trusting in Him even when you do not understand why some bad things happen. Faith means believing in God and His plan for us, even when we cannot see where the road we are on is taking us. Satan will try to plant seeds of doubt and fear in our hearts and minds, but those seeds of doubt can never take root if we have faith in Jesus. When we choose to believe God, and not Satan’s lies, the road cones of faith block the doubts that Satan drives at us.

The hard hat of salvation (v17)
“Take the helmet of salvation”

The purpose of the hard hat is, of course to protect the head from injury. Satan tries to injure our minds, discouraging us by pointing to our failures, our sins, our unresolved problems – whatever seems negative in our lives – in order to make us lose confidence in the love and care of God.
But we have the knowledge that, by God’s Grace and the sacrifice of Jesus, we are saved. We are God’s children. Satan has already lost, and nothing can ever take you away from God. And that knowledge protects us from the blows that Satan directs against our security and assurance in Christ.

The saw of the Spirit(v17)
“and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

A sword can attack or defend. A saw can be used to cut things down, but also to ready material for building. God’s Holy Word is a powerful tool against Satan. It can cut Satan’s lies to pieces. And God’s Word builds us up, and readies us for building His kingdom in this world.
The words of the Bible are our saws.

Let me finish with the last few verses of the reading, taken this time from The Message translation:

“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”

(Gail)


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Extreme Makeover – the God Edition

Extreme MakeoverVanessa recently read in the Enjoying Everyday Life magazine from Joyce Meyer Ministries (March/April 2014 edition), an article entitled Getting Unstuck – learn to shake off the past and claim your new beginning. It starts with the sentence “Have you ever noticed all the people throughout the Bible that God gave a fresh start?” and that got us thinking about some of the fresh starts and “makeovers” we hear about in the Bible, giving us the springboard for this skit which we did last week. There are two speaking parts, with three more people needed to sit there and be talked about. The first is Moses, so try to get someone quite a bit older, second is Ruth, so a female, and the third is Paul. It is quite fun to not let anyone (even the participants) know who the “candidates” are -see if they can work it out from the hosts’ chat

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First Host:
Thank you for joining us today for Extreme Makeover – the God Edition. Can we have our first candidate come up please. So you think God can still do something with you. Well I see here you have already had quite a life. When you were born your mother left you in the bushes where you were found by the Royal princess, and you were raised in the Egyptian palace alongside the Royal prince. Awesome. What an incredible start to life. Then you stuffed things up – big time. You saw an Egyptian beating a slave so you killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. When you knew you had been seem you ran away into the desert and settled with the Midianites. You have already had quite a life. Not sure how much time you have left, to be honest. I don’t know if there is really anything I can do with you. Sorry….

Second Host:
Well, you know what they say – where there’s life there’s hope. And at least he is still alive – just about. However, you know that other saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”? Well, I don’t think that’s true in this case. In fact, I foresee quite a few new tricks up his sleeves in the near future. I think he could also be responsible for a significant increase in the numbers of certain species in the area – although that may not make him particularly popular with the local council! And if you want someone who will bring people together with a common purpose and goal, he’s definitely your man. I know he doesn’t look like he’s got much influence, but he’s going to be responsible for a significant change in the emigration policy of the country he lives in. And I definitely foresee travel in his future – in fact, quite a long journey. Sandcastles may be involved, although I don’t think he’s likely to be dipping his toes in the sea. He better have a good meal before he sets off though, as it might be only bread and water on the journey. Thank you for participating, Moses. You can return to your seat, and can we have our second candidate, please.

First Host:
You are from Moab – I can tell just by looking at you. You lot are not liked at all really. That is bad news; I don’t know what I can do with that. And you are a widow. And have no children. I don’t know who would want to marry you. Well this is really a challenge so, over to you …

Second Host:
Well, I can see there are a lot of negatives about her, but, you know, she is very loyal – just look how much she’s done for that moaning Minnie she lives with! There’s not many young widows who’d be willing to move to another country to look after their Mother-in-law, let alone end up doing manual labour to get the food they need to survive! I think you’ll find that she’s actually much admired for al that by the people off the town she now lives in. And look at how much she’s stepped out of her comfort zone – I mean, some of those suggestions of Mum-in-law were a bit close to the edge of acceptable behaviour, but this brave young lady was willing to follow through on those ideas, and I’m certain it will pay off for her. Yes, all in all, I think there’s a great future ahead for her: a happy marriage; elevation in social status; lots of friends – lots of children! I think you’ll find that she’ll be the matriarch of a great family – a Royal family even. You know, Kings, and people even more influential than that further down the line. Thank you for participating, Ruth. You can return to your seat, and can we have our third candidate, please.

First Host:
Here is a really big challenge. I can’t see what God could do with you because you are already very successful and respected. Actually, I would even say you are a man of great influence.

Second Host:
Yes, but he’s a bit prejudiced isn’t he? Got very fixed ideas about what you should and shouldn’t believe – and certainly seems to be in favour of extreme punishments for those that don’t think like he does. Mind you, I think he’s misguided more than anything else. Maybe a little holiday would help him see things more clearly – you know, get the scales to drop from his eyes. I hear Damascus Donkey Tours do a good deal. I know you think he’s the bees knees now, but with a change in focus he has the potential to influence half the know world. Get his passions engaged in the right way and the words will just pour out of him. He’s a great one for writing, you know, and I think that there’s a very real possibility that the things he writes will still be being read, and influencing people’s lives, hundreds of years from now. I’m not saying things will be easy for him from now on in. He’ll definitely be going on some long journeys – on some more willingly than on others – and some of the transport safety ratings might be a bit suspect. He might well have to rely on the charity of others for food and accommodation, and even resort to his old occupation of making camping equipment at times. But yes, you are right, he is a man of great influence – and will continue to be so for a very long time. Thank you for participating – sorry, is it Saul or Paul? You can return to your seat.

Conclusion:
Would you like a change in your life. Maybe even an extreme makeover? All things are possible with God. He has done it before – He can do it again. We have picked only three out of the bible, but there are so many more people that God has transformed, both in the Bible and right up to the present day. Moses – the man who was abandoned by his mother, killed an Egyptian and ran away to the desert. Moses – the man who God used to bring the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery and who God gave the 10 commandments to. Ruth – a foreign woman from a place not like by many, and the fact that she was a widow and childless didn’t make her a catch either. But Ruth loved God and that made a difference. Ruth married Boaz, and they had a son, Obed, who had a son, Jesse, who had a son, David – the same one who killed Goliath and became King. And further down the family line there was Jesus. And Paul, a man who was very successful and respected for persecuting Christians, became persecuted himself for being a Christian. He wrote much of the New Testament and guided the early Christian church. You are not too young or too old, too shy or too loud, you don’t have too much history or not enough scars from life. You are a child of God. The same God who paints the sunrise and sunset has plans for us bigger and better than we could even imagine. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it —– if you are willing.

Written jointly by Vanessa & Gail


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The Rainbow – Living together in unity (Psalm 133:1)

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“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

As a reminder of how we are all different, but together we make something beautiful in God’s eyes, we put together this gorgeous jigsaw picture.

Now obviously this required pre-planning. Vanessa’s husband cut out the individual wooden pieces – we went for straight sides with a groove at the bottom and a lip at the top, so they would fit together nicely, and also so that it didn’t matter if not everyone brought one back. These were delivered to each family (one per person) during the week before the service, with basic instructions to decorate them in any way they wanted and to bring them along on the Sunday. We had time during the service to share what we had done and why, and then Gail took it home to glue it all together.

We are planning to have this on display at each service and, hopefully, have a permanent position for it in the Church when it is finally rebuilt.

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We also did a skit adapted from the story “The Rainbow” (written by Anne Hope, 1978, based on an Indian legend), inviting everyone to come along in rainbow colours for the service.

The Rainbow

Narrator: Once upon atime all the colours in the world started to quarrel: each claimed that it was the best, the most important, the most useful, the favourite…..

Green: Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and of hope. I was chosen for grass, trees, leaves. Without me all the animals would die. Look out over the countryside and there is green as far as the eye can see.

Blue: You only think about the earth, but about the sky and the sea? Blue is the colour of water which is the basis of life. The water in the rivers, the lakes and the sea. Blue is the colour of the sky, which gives space, peace and serenity.

Yellow: You are all so serious. I bring laughter, fun and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow and the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower the whole world starts to smile. Without me, there would be no fun.

Orange: I am the colour of health and strength. I may be scarce, but I am precious for I serve the inner need of human life. I carry all the most important vitamins. Think of carrots, pumpkins, oranges, mangoes and pawpaws. I don’t hang around all the time but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you.

Red (shouting): I’m the ruler of you all. Blood – Life needs blood. I am the colour of danger and bravery. I am willing to fight for the cause. I bring fire in the blood. Without me the earth would be as empty as the moon. I am the colour of passion and of love, the red rose and poppy.

Purple: I am the colour of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs and bishops, have always chosen me for I am a sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me, they listen and obey.

Indigo (quietly): Think of me. I am the colour of silence. You hardly notice me, but without me you all become superficial. You need me for balance and contrast. You need me for prayer and inner peace, for thought and reflection.

Narrator: And so the colours went on like this, each convinced that it was the best. Their quarrelling become louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of brilliant white lightening, thunder rolled and boomed.  Rain started to pour down relentlessly. The colours all crouched down in fear, drawing close to one another for comfort.
Then rain spoke…..

Rain: You foolish colours. Fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Do you not know that God made every one of you – each for a special purpose, unique and different? Each and every one of you is loved and wanted by him. Stand up and join hands with one another. God will stretch you across the sky in a great bow of colour. This will be a reminder of his love for you all, that you can live together in peace, a promise that he is with you and a sign of hope for tomorrow.

 

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Our argumentative Rainbow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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A curious bird learns about Noah

Humour is always a good way to introduce a subject. We have an occasional “visitor” to our services in the form of a bird puppet – a Kookaburra called Kookie. He’s a cheeky little thing, but always keen to learn more about God’s work in our lives. Here is the conversation from when we learnt about the story of Noah.

Leader: Hey Kookie! What you reading?

Kookie: A cruise brochure – see!

Leader: Yes, very nice.  Are you planning a holiday then?

Kookie the Kookaburra learns about Noah

Kookie the Kookaburra learns about Noah

Kookie:  Well, yes… Don’t you remember? You told me we’d be going on a boat ride today. And I found these brochures in your car, so I just thought I’d check out  what we’re in for. I hope we’re going on this really big one – it’s got a cinema, and FOUR restaurants!

Leader:  Ahh! Sorry Kookie,  I think you’ve got hold of the wrong end of the stick. I didn’t say we were going on a boat ride, just that we’d be learning about a boat ride!

Kookie:  So… no promenade deck?

Leaser:  No.

Kookie: No Day Spa?

Leader: No.

Kookie:  Are we even talking an ocean voyage here?

Leader:  Well, yes … if you count the fact that there was a big boat and there was no land in sight.

Kookie: Okay, then, give me the gossip.

Leader: Not gossip, Kookie, we’re talking about a man called Noah.

Kookie: Hey, isn’t he the dude who built a cute little boat in the middle of a dessert?

Leader:  No and yes. He did build a boat in the middle of a dessert

Kookie: Why?

Leader: Because God told him to

Kookie:  And we should always listen when God tells us to do something.

Leader:  That’s right. But this wasn’t a cute little boat – it was big. The bible tells us the measurements – 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high.

Kookie: Pardon? Can’t you measure in English?

Leader: Sorry, that works out to about 137 metres long – about  the size of a Cook Strait ferry. In fact, experts reckon that the ark was probably the biggest that a wooden boat can be built to.

Kookie: Pretty impressive. So then this Noah dude went on holiday?

Leader:  Not a holiday, Kookie.  Noah had a job to do. The boat was full of animals – and I do mean FULL! At least two of every kind of animal. Can you imagine the noise?

Kookie: And the smell! I wouldn’t like to be on pooper-scooper duty on that boat!

Leader:  Well, Noah did have some help – his wife, and his sons and their wives – his sons were called Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Kookie: Ham! Ha! Who names their son after food?

Leader:  I can’t imagine KOOKIE! Look, if you keep interrupting we’ll never get this story told. How about you hop on board…

Kookie: What do you think I am? A kangaroo?

Leader:  No – an annoying bird! How about you embark on the boat, and we can get the rest of the story. I’ve got a nice cabin in mind for you, just along from the African animals…..

Kookie:  Okay – but don’t put me next to the lions – they might be hungry and I don’t want to be food……