This month I would like to touch on three subjects quite briefly.
ISIS is Islam
Many of you will know that last year in June I hosted Dr Mark Durie on a NZ tour called Understanding Islam. We had a very good response, and it generated a lot of interest as you would expect. Mark is a highly recognised western expert on Islam.
Since the tour we have seen so many more ISIS-inspired terrorist acts of violence around the world. When the perpetrators are tracked, almost without exception, they can be traced to Islam. To say that these acts of violence are not perpetrated by Islam is simply not true. It is widely agreed that ISIS is Islamic … full stop. However, what I am not saying is that all Muslim's are terrorists—not even close. In fact most Muslims, from what I can gather, want to distance themselves from these acts of violence, even though their sacred texts teach violence of the worst kind which, of course, is a major conundrum for them. I am hearing and reading so many cool stories of Muslims coming to Faith in Christ in Auckland and around the world, especially Iran.
I am currently praying and thinking about what WillowNZ might do as another contribution in this space. If you have any thoughts, I would be glad to hear from you. It's an issue that will not go away and by all accounts will only get worse, and therefore we need to get to grips with it.
Many Christians, and especially Christian leaders, I have noticed are not believers of man-made climate change. When I ask … very politely of course … what and whom they have read on this subject, it usually amounts to not that much.
Last week on Wednesday, a small group of Christian leaders in Hamilton were privileged to hear Dr Rob Bell, a principal scientist from NIWA, give us a superb briefing on this topic in one hour. Personally, I found this incredibly interesting and at the same time very disturbing. What are we doing to the planet, and in what condition will my grandchildren inherit this wonderful creation of God? At current projections (which are different to predictions) it is not looking very good at all. Rob reminded us we can all do something as stewards of the good earth.
Pastor, how 'Green' is your theology? Please note: I am in no way suggesting Christians should ‘vote Green’.
Rob has worked in this area for 35 years—written, spoken and advised people in high places both in NZ and internationally. Rob and I are talking about how we might brief other Christian leaders and indeed Christians in general going forward. I believe this is one of a number of hot issues of our day, and we at WillowNZ would like to contribute to this discussion within our new stream of content called Willow Academy.
"Our relationship became close and affectionate … I considered Rachel to be like a sister to me … I accept my affection went too far … my behaviour was inappropriate, I regret that". Colin's own words said in court by him on Thursday last week.
I do not want to throw the first stone, or any stone for that matter, as I know so many other Christian leaders, and Christians in general, have done the same as Colin or worse—sometimes much worse—and it has never been made public. Because, sadly, this case is public (very public, unfortunately) we can, and probably should, talk about it.
Before all else, this is a very sad situation. It's sad for everyone involved (directly and indirectly) and it's another very sad day for our witness as Christians. I grieve over this as we are having a tough enough job as it is. It certainly, in my view, marks the end of 'Christian-based’ political parties for a very long time which … (taking a risk here) … may not be such a bad thing actually.
The big learning, of course, is how to ensure it doesn't happen to me or any of you, my colleagues and friends, in pastoral leadership. We have read the books, some of us have confessed our struggles in accountability groups, and we have repented before God when we inadvertently strayed off course.
For me, about 37 years ago, I committed myself to become a Proverbs 5 man, specifically verses 15-19. With Jeanette's help it has enabled me to stay on track even when things were not going all that well at times. Secondly, I think the following thoughts often. "If I mess up sexually, I will do so much damage. I will hurt Jeanette, my marriage, my children, my grandchildren, my ministry, my credibility, and my testimony. This is a price that is far too high to pay for crossing a line I should not cross … not ever. So I have established very clear and strong boundaries. I hope and pray that they will continue to serve me well into the future. I hope the same for you.