News and articles

Launch Service 19th February 2023

This coming Sunday, rather than meeting in the morning as usual, we will be having our worship service at 30 Hilltop Road, at 3:30pm. This is to allow visitors for other churches to join us in celebrating our Launch Service.

This special Service is for two reasons:

  • The installation of Lenny Long as the Pastor of Trinity Church
  • To officially mark and celebrate the joining of the Trinity and Redeemer Congregations

The service will be followed by a dinner, so if you’re wanting to join us, please contact us and let us know to assist us with catering.

Christchurch Terror Attacks

‘In the light of the recent terror attacks on the two mosques in Christchurch, we as a church would like to make it known that we denounce such evil acts of violence. As a denomination we value our religious freedom, and wish the same for all other religions, even though we may disagree with those religious beliefs. We urge the members of GPCNZ to move towards their Muslim workmates, neighbours and friends with openness and acceptance, and renounce all forms of prejudice and hatred, as our Saviour Jesus showed us.’

Richard Eyre, Moderator. GPCNZ

Christmas Makes the Unknown to be Known

What is Christmas all about? Increasingly Christmas is getting buried under consumerism, or worse, banished out of a fear of talking about God. It begs the question of why we bother any longer.

The fact that you are reading this tells me that you are looking for more than ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Ho, Ho Ho’. You’re a person who wants to know the truth.

In the Bible, Luke tells us about an incident with the apostle Paul when he was visiting Athens, Greece. Walking around among all the religious shrines to all the different gods and goddesses people believed in, he spots a stone altar which has the words ‘To AN UNKNOWN GOD’ inscribed on it. Just in case they had missed out some deity, they set up this one.  Funny, but so true.

Is that you? Do you ‘do’ a bit of religion just to cover your bases – in case it all happens to be true. You really don’t know what you believe, but a bit of church here or the odd prayer there is a good insurance policy.

I get that. A bit of this, and that, to keep things right. The trouble is that there are lots of options, and it can all get a bit confusing after a while. For example, which religions or God’s should you put the most effort into?

Christmastime solves this dilemma for us. If St Paul were writing this, he would say, “What you worship as unknown, I announce to you.” Paul was confident that he knew who this unknown God was, that he wanted to tell everyone about him.

This is what Christmas is really about. This is the time we can tell everyone that that the unknown is now known. His name is Jesus the Christ.

Our Common Faith

In his letter to Titus, Paul, after introducing himself, addresses himself to ‘Titus, my true child in a common faith.’ (Titus 1:4) While ‘common’ for some people means ordinary or standard, nothing further from the truth could be on Paul’s mind.

Here is a trained Jewish rabbi addressing a young Gentile convert as his own child, and admitting that the same Lord and eternal destiny. Such ideas were scandalous at worst and radical at best.

And, yet, it is true, this common faith.

At Trinity we have been taking time to look at the Apostles’ Creed on Sunday mornings as an expression of ‘our common faith.’ Appearing as early as 200 A.D., the Creed, as most know it, has come to be an expression of our common faith.Tertullian (150-240 A.D.) is thought to have first formulated the Apostles’ Creed

In the Creed we confess our belief in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It speaks in detail about the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, as well as his second coming to judge. It also affirms essential unity of the church, fellowship of all believers and our eternal hope.

It is this commonness of the Creed that needs to be rediscovered. Too often it feels that churches are competing. To attract worshippers, we appeal to our differences by comparing ourselves with other churches. This, in many instances, produces a crass form of spiritual pride and boasting the exalts the outward form of our life and worship over the Spirit who indwells all of us, and the faith that unites us.

As we face growing secularism and increasing intolerance, we would do well to stand together around our common faith.

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit;
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.

When Church Leaders Say Dumb Things

What to do with an angry former acquaintance who is embarrassing the church and making others very angry 101.

I’ve just got off the phone with a mate from down south. We both huffed and puffed, sighed and groaned, puzzled and feared for a mutual acquaintance who has just hit the news again. As we all know, you don’t get in the news for good stuff. What should we do, we asked. We agreed that we need to say something.

Yes, I’m talking about the pastor of Westcity Bible Baptist Church, presumably out in West Auckland somewhere. He’s hit the front page again with his most recent attack on gay people – ‘homos’ as he’s called them. He’s also thrown in a portion of misogyny for good measure, admitting that he doesn’t allow his wife to vote, but rather demands that she in the kitchen baking cakes. Seriously? Is that even legal?

In the kitchen.

I happen to know this man and his family, although I haven’t seen them for over six years. They attended our last church for a bit. We didn’t use the King James Version, we allowed people to wear what they wanted (some used to attend bare-foot, from memory), and our sermons only lasted 20-30 minutes. More importantly, our speakers would never, at least without a sincere apology afterward, stand up and unload their emotional insecurities onto unsuspecting listeners.

Because I knew him, I take a keen interest in his well-being. As I observe him through the media, I’m concerned for him, cross with him, and just want people to ignore him – all at the same time.

I’m upset because I believe that this pastor is deliberately and knowingly making statements designed to shock and anger. If you peruse his YouTube channel you will see that he has selected video clips from his sermons with titles like ‘Jacinda Ardern Needs to Shut Up and Get in the Kitchen’ and ‘Sodomites are Dogs.’  He must sit at home on his computer editing clips of his own sermons and selecting the most outrageous off-the-cuff comments from his sermons. Why? Because it gets attention, and for every 10,000 ‘haters’, he’ll get one recruit.

I’m upset because he is deliberately distorting the Christian faith for his own ends, something that the Bible specifically warns against. I think that other pastors and Christians do need to speak out and make it clear that this is not Christianity. This is not about Jesus.

Coffee with Jesus - forgiveness

I’m also concerned for him and his church because I think that he is playing with fire. He is setting himself up as a martyr, and we all know what happens to martyrs. I’m worried for his family. How are they coping with all of this? I’m fearful for the people who gather to hear him preach each Sunday. Churches are supposed to be safe places where everyone is welcomed and respected regardless of their gender, mental state, or sexual orientation. What is his message doing to the ‘little ones’ of the flock?

I wonder if the media are mature enough to see this pastor’s antics for the attention-grabbing stunts that they are and ignore, rather than fuel, his tirades. Why? Because he wants you to react, to hate him and draw more attention to his anger. That way he will feel confirmed in his distorted view of the Bible, Christianity, and the use of social media.

When Christians Disagree (Acts 15:36-41)

Do real Christians disagree or argue? Have you ever disagreed with another Christian?

Christians do argue

Some people think that if two Christians disagree, or argue, it automatically damages the Christian witness. Sometimes Christians feel that they have to choose sides in arguments. What this means is that one party is portrayed as ‘right’ and the other party ‘wrong.’ The ‘wrong’ person or party is therefore somehow not a ‘real’ Christian.

If you’ve read any of these posts you will see that on occasion I have publicly disagreed with statements made by other Christian leaders. Obviously, I feel that I’m right and they’re wrong, but nothing more. It doesn’t mean that they are less Christian than I.

For example, I have disagreed with statements made by Brian Tamaki from Destiny church. I stand by those particular statements. Does this mean I don’t think he is a Christian? No way.

I am fully aware of the good Christian ministry being undertaken by Brian Tamaki and his church. Recently, for example, I have been impressed with the work of ‘Man Up’ ( in our communities, and I want to see more of it, especially in our prisons. Because we might disagree on some points, it doesn’t mean I need to trash them.

Even St Paul and St Barnabas argued

Okay, I’m not actually into calling people ‘Saint’, but it helps to make the point. If two giants of the early church like Paul and Barnabas argued, but kept on doing gospel ministry, surely we can too.

After the general assembly in Jerusalem (Acts 15), Paul says to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and see how the believers in the churches we’ve helped to establish are doing.” Barnabas agreed, and suggests taking John Mark, his cousin, with them on the trip.

Paul’s face must have frozen like James Comey’s when Director James ComeyBarnabas said that, and knowing his personality he probably said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to take the guy who abandoned us in Pamphylia.” Barnabas likely felt offended, because John Mark is whanau or family. They argue back and forth, but can’t agree. Who is right and who is wrong?

An irreconcilable difference?

Unlike the church meeting in Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas can’t resolve this disagreement, so they agree to disagree, as we say. Barnabas takes John Mark and they go back to Cyprus, Barnabas’s homeland, and Paul recruits Silas who was selected by the Jerusalem council to return with Paul and Barnabas to take their letter to the churches. From this point on in Acts, we don’t read any more about Barnabas and Mark.

Barnabas vs Paul

But, does this mean that their relationship was irreversibly damaged? Because we don’t read about John Mark and Barnabas any more, you could conclude that. However, you do see that Paul still loves and values Barnabas and Mark. In the Corinthians letter, he references Barnabas as one of his fellow workers (1 Cor.9.6).  More striking is the way he talks about Mark – this boy he didn’t trust. He tells the Colossian church to welcome Mark (Col.4:10), then Mark is ‘very useful to me for ministry’ (2 Tim.4:11), and then in Philemon he includes Mark in his band sending greetings (Philm.27).

Our personalities

Part of the conflict, I believe came down to personality types and culture clashes. Let’s look at them:

Paul: We know this guy. He was a hard man, passionate and driven. He wouldn’t have been the easiest person to live with, and yet he accomplished a phenomenal amount in his life and ministry. Intelligent, a bit rough around the edges, but the fearless church planter extraordinaire. Where would we be without him?

Barnabas: A Levite (priestly) from Cyprus, who lead by his example of selling property and giving the money to the church. He was the man who vouched for Paul when everyone else in Jerusalem was still scared of him and wouldn’t meet him.

When Christians disagree: Acts 9:26

He was also the man who the church trusted to go to Antioch and evaluate the things happening there among the Gentile converts. He earned the name, ‘son of encouragement.’ Remember, it was the Holy Spirit who told the church to ‘set apart for me Paul and Barnabas.’

They were in reality great friends who went way back, but are now unable to see eye-to-eye.

Hope for us all

You might be ‘in an argument’ with another Christian right now, maybe even with someone else in your church. While always seeking to be reconciled and heal any rifts, what is important is that you keep doing what God wants, to tell the world about the death and resurrection of his Son for sinners.

Is God the Lord?

Some Christians shy away from the idea that God is the Lord. Sometimes the reasoning is, that, if we make God the Lord, then he is responsible for all that goes on in the universe, and that wouldn’t be good for his popularity. For example, if disasters or other bad things occur, a ‘God’ not fully in the know or in control of everything is proposed instead.

However, when good things happen, then God is given the credit because it is assumed to be safe for him. That seems to be a little inconsistent to my way of thinking.


The Bible helps us to see that God is the Lord in many places, but one story I love is about the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. Feeling proud and pleased as he walks on the upper balcony of his splendid palace, he says to everyone and no one in particular, “Isn’t this great, this place I’ve built, the people who look up to me, the work I’ve done. I’m pretty powerful and amazing – you could even say, ‘glorious’?”

Regrettably this man had forgotten the dream he’d had warning him against this way of thinking. He had been advised by Daniel to humble himself before God and be more kind to the poor and needy. Now, it was too late! With a word from the Almighty he ran mooing from his mansion out into his large back paddock where he stayed for seven years eating grace like a cow (a bull?). At the end of that time he even looked a bit like a cow too.

Nebuchadnezzar 1795-c. 1805 William Blake 1757-1827
Nebuchadnezzar 1795-c. 1805 William Blake 1757-1827 Presented by W. Graham Robertson 1939

However, after seven years he came right in his head again and came back to live in his palace on the hill. He prayed this amazing prayer, blessing, praising and honouring God as the ‘Most High’: Finally, I prayed to God in heaven, and my mind was healed. Then I said: “I praise and honour God Most High. He lives forever, and his kingdom will never end. To him the nations are far less than nothing; God controls the stars in the sky and everyone on this earth. When God does something, we cannot change it or even ask why. (Daniel 4)

King Nebuchadnezzar came to see that God is the Lord, one of his most common titles. He identified God as superior to all others, an eternal ruler who governs whole nations with the same ease with which he controls the vast cosmos. Furthermore, his actions are perfect and free of compulsion.

In other words, he understood that God is the Lord. While he was living in denial of God’s right to rule as his Lord, God was a threat. Now that he accepts God’s rule, his lordship it is a comfort.

What about you: Is a God who is Lord a threat or comfort to you?

Annunciation: the angel’s message to Mary and us

When I went back to school as an adult student, I chose to take subjects that I enjoyed, rather than ones that would lead to a job. So, I took Art History. In Art History ou get to look at lots of pictures of beautiful paintings and sculptures. The tricky thing is that you also have to read and write about boring stuff, like ‘triptych’, ‘linear perspective’ and something called ‘egg tempera’ – not to be confused with egg tempura.

My favourite period was the Italian Renaissance. When you look at art from this era you notice lots of paintings of angels and ladies, and they’re all called something like ‘The Annunciation’, like the example below. Why? The artists back then chose to paint for the highest dollar, and back then the church paid best.  What would a church want an artist to paint? Bible scenes, obviously.

‘The Annunciation’ by Leonardo Da Vinci (c.1472-75)

So, what is happening in this picture? An angel (the one with wings) is talking to a lady. The angel is Gabriel, and the lady is Mary. This picture is an attempt to portray Luke 1:26-38. While ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ there are some words that this picture doesn’t say, like:

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)

The story is pretty straight-forward, but really unusual because it involves an alien being, a virgin birth, and God as a human being. Not really your usual.

Gabriel visits a girl in Nazareth called Mary, who is also engaged to a guy called Joseph. Angels frighten people, because when you see an angel ordinarily it means you’re going to die! Mary is scared, but Gabriel tells her not to be, but instead, she is “highly favoured” and that God is with her.

Gabriel then tells her that she will conceive a baby which she is to call Jesus, or Yeshua, in Aramaic. Not only that, he’s going to be “Son of the Most High” who will reign over God’s people as the son of David – forever. Mary stops the angel half-way to voice an obvious problem (think teenage girl voice), “Like. How?”

Not to be fazed, the angel replies that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.” As proof that this will happen, Gabriel tells her that her older cousin (over 50) Elizabeth is six-months pregnant. This will happen because God’s word always comes true.

Mary responds with complete trust, “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word be fulfilled.” She has total faith in God’s purposes, and affirms that she is willing to participate in this history-shifting and cosmically-commanding event.

When God speaks to you this Christmas, what will be your response? Will you be a part of his world-changing plan?

God and Earthquakes

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.  Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?  I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.  Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13)

It’s been another tough week for the country with earthquakes and wet weather. Everyone is focused on supporting and helping the communities affected.

The only good thing about it was that it took the US election off the front pages, for a while.

Not such a good week for Christians, however.  Someone noticed that Brian Tamaki from Destiny Church had preached last Sunday (13/11/2017) about earthquakes and sin. He said, “Leviticus says that the earth convulses under the weight of certain human sin,” “And it says it spews itself up after a while. That’s natural disasters. Massive earthquakes have already hit in Christchurch. You could have just about predicted that one. It had the highest murder rates. It was a haven for those who were absolutely anti-Christ.”

Bob Parker, former mayor of Christchurch, is pretty upset, and others have written opinion pieces condemning Brian. Some of those are thoughtful and measured, others are remarkably hateful.

Some people are so upset that they have started an online petition to have Destiny Church’s charitable status removed. I’m not sure how online petitions work.

The truth?

But, what about the stuff that Tamaki says in that clip? As a Christian I can say that he is half right and half wrong. I know that sounds like fence-sitting, so let me explain.

He is absolutely correct to say that creation ‘groans’ under human sinfulness. The Apostle Paul wrote that creation has been ‘subjected to futility’ because of human sin. He’s right on that score.

However, to say that Christchurch or Kaikoura were hit by earthquakes because they are especially sinful is wrong.  The idea is not sustained by what the Bible says.

In a perfect world, bad things would only happen to bad people. Job’s friend Eliphaz believed that, and told poor suffering Job as much (Job.4:7-8). Jesus’ own disciples even believed that people who had physical disabilities were being punished (John.9:2), as they pondered whether it was the man or his parents who were responsible for his blindness. Jesus was adamant, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned”, he said.

In Jesus’ day plenty of bad things happened too, like some Galilean villagers getting slaughtered by Roman soldiers at a Passover festival, or the folks being crushed by a falling tower at Siloam in Jerusalem (Luke 13).

Jesus’ view

Jesus was asked if this happen because they were they exceptionally bad people or worse than others. Which brings us back to Brian Tamaki’s idea, that, the people in Christchurch, or, Kaikoura, or Wellington, have suffered earthquakes because they are worse than the rest of us.

Jesus answer is an emphatic, ‘No!’ That doesn’t mean that they were innocent little cherubs, but neither were they somehow worse or guiltier than anyone else in New Zealand. So, Tamaki is out of step with what the Bible teaches.

If there is anything that Jesus would want us to learn from the sad events of the last week, is that, we – all of us – should examine our relationship with God, with our neighbours, and with creation to see if we need to change.


Are You Happy?

Eat Yourself Happy?

I can’t seem to forget the billboard.  Every time I drove through town, there it was at the side of the road, with the giant face of a man with a ludicrous smile.  Across the top was the statement: “Eat Yourself Happy.”

Each time I drove past I pondered the meaning of this piece of fast food advertising.  Would eating hamburgers from a particular joint leave me with a feeling of peace and contentment?  Would burgers by other global franchises have the same effect?  What about a burger from the local fish and chip shop?  Would my daily dose of porridge also the-triple-triple-burgerinduce lasting cheerfulness?

Obviously the idea of using food to induce any sense of lasting happiness is stupid – yet the worrying rise of obesity in NZ is proof that too many of us do derive happiness, albeit fleeting, from food.  We also depend on alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, sport and any number of other indifferent or harmless pursuits to try and find happiness.

Who is Truly Happy?

5:2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons1 of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus gives us the answer in what we call the  ‘Beatitudes’ (Matthew 5:1-12). Matthew tells us that on one occasion when Jesus sat on ‘the mountainside’ (5:1) His disciples “came to Him, and He began to teach them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…’” The term ‘blessed’ that Jesus used might well be termed ‘happy.’ Here at the commencement of his public ministry, he was pronouncing the Divine Shalom (peace) upon a certain kind of person – those who were citizens of his kingdom and who had the smile of God upon them. They were not people who had ‘earned’ God’s favour through their actions, but people who through the grace of God had been brought into a state of utter dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ. In their dependence upon him rather than their self-achievement, they had found safety and happiness.

Perhaps when you have told someone else what your faith means, they have said, ‘Christianity is just a crutch for people who can’t make it through life on their own’?  Well, they are right – with two minor corrections: ‘CHRIST is a crutch for people who KNOW that they can’t make it through life on their own’! Yes, truly happy people are cripples who have found all they need in the Lord Jesus Christ.

What Happy People Look Like

What do these happy cripples that Jesus is describing look like? They are spiritual bankrupts (v.3), who are mourning over their sins (4).  They view themselves through the ‘reality glasses’ of Scripture, which results in meekness and humility (5).  In a world bloated with all kinds of deathly junk food, the kingdom citizen hungers and thirsts after Christ’s righteousness (6).

The character of the happy person is further defined by their willingness to operate by grace rather than the letter of the law (7).   In a day of sordid secrets, they are distinguished by their purity and innocence (8).  When the best that rulers and officials can do is send in the peacekeepers, these blessed ones bring the Prince of peace to earth through the gospel (9).

Finally, the really happy are those who have the inner capacity of grace that makes them loyal to Christ, even to the point of death (10).  When they are insulted, persecuted and slandered for Christ, then their happiness rises to rejoicing, because they are counted with the godly prophets of old (11,12).

Are you Happy?

Ask yourself, “Am I happy?”  If so, go on and ask a second question, namely, “What is it that makes me happy, or unhappy, for that matter?”  Test yourself.  How much wealth is accumulated in your spiritual bank account?  Does your sin make you sad?  Do you accept others reminding you of your sins? Do you enjoy doing good and showing others what Jesus is like? What is that satisfies your hunger and quenches your thirst? Know this for sure: anything but the Lord Jesus Christ will never bring happiness – a happiness that is actually God’s smile of blessing on your life.