The New Zealand Men’s Retreat happens every August—for the past 26 years! The first two days (Thursday and Friday) are designated as a “Leaders’ Retreat.” Some 35 men were involved in the first two days of this year’s retreat. The last two days (Saturday and Sunday) are called “Men’s Challenge”–over 75 men are present this year.

8273D120-FA77-48C5-B924-E95D2A93C757I’ve been speaking on my book, A Spirit for the Rest of Us. During the Leaders’ Retreat, we worked through the Final Discourse (John 14-16) and spent significant time with the passages where Jesus makes reference to the Spirit. On the whole, the group was very receptive, even eager, to think more carefully about the presence of the Spirit in our lives today. The notion that Jesus promised to send a Spirit who would enable us to experience his indwelling presence, receive his teaching and equipping, provide a testifying and convicting presence in the world, and deepen our understanding of God’s purposes and nature was an idea they were “ripe” for. Some of the audience, of course, were not so sure—asking good questions, raising reasonable concerns. Where the subject of the Spirit is concerned, people need time and patience to consider alternatives they have not thought about before. Fortunately, the conversation was cordial and respectful.

IMG_0284And that is good modeling for what I hope will happen when these men go home to their congregations. There needs to be a conversation about the Spirit in New Zealand churches. And that conversation needs to be cordial, respectful, and informed by Scripture. Where that conversation leads is up to them and the Spirit. My job is to start the conversation and model the kind of attitude in which it must be conducted.

I’ve met some wonderful men. Of course, I always enjoy interaction with the men involved with the South Pacific Bible College: Steve, David, Mike, Rodney, Chris. But there are other men—many holding together tiny churches in remote parts of New Zealand—who have impressed me with their kindness and enthusiasm: Grant (Christchurch), Rick (Rotorua), Bruce (Hawkes Bay), Henry (Whangarai), Samu (Auckland), Mike (Invercargill), and many others. God has done good things here in the past. I pray he will do good things in New Zealand in the future.

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