A Special Update

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Nigel Irwin

‘For everything there is a season’ said the writer of Ecclesiastes. In other words a time for change. Coming back to N.Z. after many years overseas and then heading up City by City has been an immense privilege and joy. However for some time Grace and I have felt that God had something new for City by City. Something that would include a more focused, strategic way of encouraging and supporting city wide unity and prayer across N.Z. with new, younger leadership.

Since relocating to Whanganui it has been a joy to connect with Nigel Irwin, Central Baptist pastor and the leader of the Whanganui Christian Leaders Association. It became obvious several months ago that Nigel was the right person to take over the leadership of City by City. We have witnessed Nigel’s passion for city unity and prayer here in Whanganui and in other N.Z. cities and are truly blessed to be able to pass the baton to someone of his calibre. It is a blessing also seeing how the WCB eldership team are affirming and supporting Nigel as he becomes more involved across the nation. It is good also to have other mature leaders from around N.Z. supporting this initiative. Grace and myself will continue to support Nigel as well as supporting and encouraging other city leaders.

Nigel is also making preparations for and giving oversight to Movement Day N.Z. May 14+15 in Lower Hutt, Wellington. A two day event celebrating unity, prayer and transformation in cities, towns and regions across New Zealand. Sharing stories that will highlight what God is doing through grass roots Kiwis working together. There will be great worship plus international and local speakers promoting the need to reach our cities and towns together. For more info go to the home page on this site or email: nigel@citybycity.co.nz.

Until next time. God bless. Colin

His Beautiful Face

Hi again. A number of years ago I had the privilege of facilitating a leader’s 3 day prayer summit in the Philippine island of Mindanao. It was a wonderful time of praying and sharing with leaders from different streams in the Body of Christ there. At the debriefing in the afternoon of the final day a dear lady from one of the barrios exclaimed. ‘Now I understand, if the body does not come together the head has nowhere to sit’. Simple but profound! My mind went to Deut. 33:5 which says ‘And He was King in Israel when the leaders of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together.’ (Emphasis mine.) Making oneness a priority in our towns, cities and regions as the body of Christ of that locality is essential to giving Jesus His rightful place in our midst.

It is a blight on the church, and leaders in particular, when we do not discern and love fervently the Body of Christ in our locality. God intends for there to be a visible expression of Christ in our towns, cities and nations. Dietrich Bonheoffer said. ‘Jesus was God made concrete on earth, the church is to be Jesus made concrete in our communities. In other words Jesus made visible through His ‘together’ body.

‘The continuous and widespread fragmentation of the church has been the scandal of the ages. It has been Satan’s master strategy. The sin of disunity probably has caused more souls to be lost than all other sins combined – could it be that the obstacle to the salvation of the world is not in the world but in the church.’           Max Lucado, author

A well known Bible scholar and conference speaker, Dr. Ern Baxter said ‘The Christian community is the reproving headquarters of the Holy Spirit, therefore fragmentation of the Body of Christ is probably the greatest sin against the Holy Spirit.’

pictures-of-jesus-nails-feet-1138661-gallery (1)In the late 1990’s I listened to a pastor who had recently found an intimate relationship with the Lord and had joined other pastors from different denominations at a four day prayer summit. On the first night before sleeping, with his new found zeal for God he prayed ‘Lord please show me your face’. That night, instead of the Lord’s face, he was shown the Lord’s nail pierced feet. The following night he prayed the same prayer only to be shown the Lord’s feet and legs. The third night after praying the same prayer he found himself standing with the Lord in the midst of the pastors who had met the previous day. He was told to look around the circle and into the faces of all those present. The Lord then spoke to him and said, ‘As you have looked into all those faces you have seen My face’.

May we too discern the beautiful face of Jesus in the faces of other believers in our locality no matter what their church or church culture.

Until next time. God bless. Colin

#citybycitynz #movementdaynz

 

The Presence

Most of us have favourite verses or passages of scripture that are beacons of light that keep us focused in our journey through life. Psalm 132 is one such passage for me. It reveals David’s passionate desire to have the Ark, where God’s manifest Presence dwelt, brought into Jerusalem. He said “I will allow no sleep to my eyes … til I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob”.

David, first a shepherd boy who loved the Presence, who loved to worship God with a harp – the one who brought Presence and peace with his harp to a troubled King Saul – the young giant slayer who refused to be mesmerised by the taunts of Goliath – the one who was then hounded in the wilderness for several years by a jealous King Saul – the one who then rose to be King, first of two tribes then of all Israel. The one who then gathered all of a previously fragmented Israel in order that the Ark of Presence might be retrieved and carefully placed in a tent on a hill in Jerusalem. All with joyful, Presence filled music, worship, singing and dancing that continued non-stop for at least 33 years. It was here, in the Presence, that David and others received much of the revelation and prophetic insight faithfully recorded in the book of Psalms. Shalom had come to Israel and the nations round about.

 King David, despite his failures, became Israel’s hero. He gets a mention 54 times in the New Testament. Again and again Jesus is referred to as the Son of David. ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’ was sung as Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, no doubt in remembrance of King David’s joyful entry 1000 years before.

 But why so much joy for David? Why so much joy for the soon to be disillusioned crowd that was welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem? David said “Arise, Lord, and come to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your might”. Amazing as it seems God loves to draw near to us, to dwell in our midst – David’s joy was Heaven’s joy. According to Luke 15:10 there is much joy in heaven when one individual believes and makes room for Jesus as Lord. God has found another resting place! Just as there is joy in Heaven over every individual who welcomes Jesus into their life, so there was great joy in Heaven when God came to His resting place in Jerusalem in David’s time.

Will there be a resting place for the Presence in cities and towns today? Jesus death and resurrection have made a way for His manifest Presence to bring deliverance and healing to cities and nations globally, (Rev. 22:2) city by city. Just as it did in David’s city!

 Until next time. God bless. Colin

 Click link below to see or download the updated N.Z. stories and photos EBook

5 mb CitybyCity ebook Master 16th April 2018 web

Against All Odds

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Hi again. Many of you will have watched or read of the recent 100 year commemoration that honoured the 800 Australian and New Zealand Light Horse men who charged and captured Beersheba (and it’s desperately needed wells) thus paving the way for the restoration of Israel and a significant change of course for the 1st world war. It was a courageous, ‘against all odds’ assault with far reaching consequences.

The Bible also has ‘city taking’ stories. Joshua took Jericho, David through Joab captured the Jebusite city that then became known as Jerusalem, city of peace. Nehemiah restored the broken down walls of Jerusalem. Jonah was God’s reluctant change agent for the city of Nineveh. Jesus spoke to and rebuked cities. He sent disciples two by two into cities and towns expecting that they would hear and welcome the good news of God’s kingdom. Today N.T. theologians are telling us that the early church had a definite Holy Spirit given strategy for reaching cities.

Today in so many places Christians are heeding the call, standing together, to be ‘against all odds’, agents of change in their city or town. Their commitment and zeal may not be comparable to that of the ANZAC light horse men but it is noteworthy nevertheless. As the exiled Jews in Babylon, so long ago, were instructed to seek the well being of that city so it is for us in our God appointed location.

Recently leaders came to Whakatane from different parts of the North Island N.Z. to encourage and pray with leaders in Eastern Bay of Plenty for another City by City gathering. Nearly all those who were present are on the frontline of an ‘against all odds – city reaching’ network in their city or town. Hearing the stories and praying for one another was special. See photo.

I like this Jack Hayford (former senior pastor of The Church On The Way) brief exhortation given some years ago but even more relevant today:
“Something is happening among God’s people with cities and towns. It’s happening right now. Two kingdoms are wrestling for the city’s soul. It isn’t too late to win if we will rise up early. Cities deserve a tomorrow too. They are unable to possess it for themselves. All children of Joshua – arise!”

Until next time. God bless. Colin

 

The Big Picture

Hi Again. Some books have a lasting effect. Devern Fromke’s book Ultimate Intention read over forty years ago was for me one of those books. In it he encourages us to keep the big picture in view, God’s eternal purpose in Christ. One illustration has remained firmly implanted.

‘A father helps his small son get ready for his first visit to the big city – the son is not excited about seeing the big city, preferring to dirty himself sailing his toy yacht in a puddle outside the house.’ The thought here is that as Christians we can fail to align ourselves with God’s big picture. Rather than be captured by the wonder of God’s overall plan for the cosmos we settle for something close at hand that demands our attention and restricts our vision.

We can easily reduce things to fit into our world view. One example of this is the disciples post resurrection conversation with Jesus. ‘Will you at this time save Israel?’ Jesus had already made it clear that the nations were now to hear the good news. The disciples seem to be struggling to grasp the big picture.

Keeping the big picture in view is so important. Many Israelites died in the wilderness because they failed to keep the big picture in view. They lost sight of that which had been promised by God. The Scriptures have plenty of big picture promises. We need the big picture so that we can be encouraged to go on in the midst of our day to day challenges. Psalm 22:27,28 (below) is one of many portions of the Bible that help me keep the big picture in view. What is your Scripture/big picture that keeps you going?

Until next time. God bless. Colin

 Psalm 22:27-28 ‘All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.’

 

A Brief Encounter

Hi again… Beginnings… It’s good to look back, reflect and give thanks. After living in Australia, Philippines and Canada, for a total of 25 years our reconnection with New Zealand, our birth-place, began in1995. It was mainly due to one of those amazing ‘encounters’.

It all began when a World Vision worker in Auckland, Lleon Downes had a very short conversation with a complete stranger in an Auckland car park. The person that Lleon chanced to meet was Peter Aspin a good friend of ours, a fellow Kiwi and formerly a pastor from Toowoomba, Australia. We were living in Toowoomba at that time. Peter was now living and working in Auckland. During this brief conversation they quickly discovered their common interest and desire for church unity. Peter told Lleon how Pastors Prayer Summits – three days of prayer and worship gatherings with a good representation of church pastors in one city or town were having positive outcomes. He mentioned that I would be a good person to communicate with because of my involvement. A brief conversation that was to have far reaching consequences.

A few days later Lleon and his wife Mary began a holiday in Queensland. He phoned me, introduced himself, said what he was about and asked ‘Can I come to your office and talk about these Pastors Prayer Summits?’ Again, this was quite amazing because I had stopped over in N.Z. only a few days earlier on my way back from attending three Pastors Prayer Summits in the U.S.A. In Auckland I had tried to sow the idea of Prayer Summits with Kiwi pastors but there was not much buy-in. I did have a sense at the time however that God was going to undertake one way or another.

Through Lleon’s initiative and World Vision NZ’s subsequent funding of three different travel itineraries, Lleon and myself were able to promote Pastors Prayer Summits throughout N.Z. As a result thirty, mostly three day, Pastors Prayer Summits were held from the far north to the far south. These were wonderful times where leaders from different churches in one town or city were able to connect, worship, pray and fellowship together. It was a privilege to witness God at work as leaders took time to seek His face and spend time in His presence together.

While there have been few of these Prayer Summits of recent days here in N.Z. the ones that were held laid a good foundation for all that has happened since. This includes strategic regional roundtable gatherings for those leading pastors networks and one day City by City gatherings where leaders from different cities and towns gather in another city to support, encourage and pray with leaders there. (See photo below of our last City by City gathering held in Napier.)

Through these and other initiatives it has been great to see relationships grow stronger as love for His church, the whole body of Christ increases and the desire to reach our cities and towns jointly, gains momentum. We have been greatly blessed …. and are truly thankful to have been part of the journey with all its other ‘encounters’ along the way!

Until next time. Colin

Napier

Loving Your City

Hi again. Last week leaders from cities/towns in the North Island came to this city, Whanganui, to encourage and pray with pastors and leaders there. What a joy to meet and pray with people who come together to ‘seek the welfare’ of their city. Jeremiah 29:7.

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What a blessing to see churches working together to reach their city and the progress that has been made. What we saw happening in this city is happening in many places. Christians from different churches combining to effectively pray, share with and serve their wider community. For some church leaders, this might be a challenge, even a threat to running their own church programme. One pastor was heard to say, “if I get too involved in combined church, city focused initiatives, we will not be able to fulfil our vision for our church”.

As a way of addressing this issue let me share the testimony of a pastor we heard from. He shared how God had given him a great love for his city, Whanganui. He then made what to some might seem a radical statement. ”When God called me to this place He called me to serve this city, with that as my primary call, He then called me to serve in the church I now pastor”. While this may seem a radical shift from the long held view that ministers/pastors have an all-embracing call to pastor a congregation, it is nevertheless a paradigm shift that is taking place in the hearts and minds of many pastors.

This pastor is doing a great job, both in his church and in praying and working with other pastors of like mind to bring kingdom blessing into their city. Does this mean that their congregations are deprived or hindered in terms of spiritual and numerical growth? Not really. A balanced, outward, purposeful city vision encourages growth as congregations believe and commit to God’s agenda for their city. It also exposes them to the benefits of receiving from other ministries and the rich resources God has placed in the Body of Christ in that city.p70223-154738-copy-1

Praying blessings over the city.

Until next time, God bless. Colin