Grandeur, beauty and a story to match

While I can’t go anywhere because of the Covid-19 shut down, I’ve been blogging about my walks.  One of my walks was to Wairere Falls in the Kaimai ranges, it’s the highest waterfall in the North Island of NZ.

You can come with me if you like.  You can admire the scenery, it’ll get you out of the house and I’ll tell you a story before our walk.  I’m a bit awkward in front of a camera but it’s a story worthy of hearing.  It’s about a young Maori girl called Torore and the power of forgiveness.  You’ll see why, besides their grandeur, Wairere Falls is an important site.

Amongst the earliest missionaries to arrive in New Zealand were a husband and wife who settled in the Waikato and started a mission school near Matamata.  In 1835, the Bible Society published 100 copies of the Gospel of Luke in the Maori language.  Torore was one of their students, and as she began to learn to read, she was given one of these Gospels.  She took the Gospel back to her village and read it to her tribe – and what followed has become one of the most important stories in the history of New Zealand.

Under threat of a neighboring warring Rotorua tribe, the mission school was in the process of relocating to Tauranga and Torore went with them.

On October 19, 1836, while camped at the base of Wairere Falls, a raiding party killed 12-year-old Torore and took her treasured Book of Luke.  Ngakuku, Tarore’s father did not seek utu (revenge), for he had become a Christian.

Later, unable to read, the other chief – the Rotorua chief discarded Tarore’s book until Ripahau, a slave boy read the text aloud to his fascinated listeners and the people understood its true value.

Convicted by the gospel, Uita, Tarore’s murderer also became a Christian.

Risking the customary tribal response of utu (revenge) – Uita sought for and received forgiveness from Ngakuku, the father of Tarore and peace came to the two warring tribes of Rotorua and Waikato.

A local re-telling of this story claims that as the men approached one another tears were shed and they embraced. After Uita humbled himself and repented peace prevailed between the two men and a church was built to honour the message which brought about this reconciliation.

This led to the conversion of many of the Maori tribes.  When missionaries visited both the North and South Islands, they discovered that many of the Maori tribes had already been converted to Christ due to the story of Tarore and her copy of the Gospel of Luke making its rounds…

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12

The Word Of God was sharper than any taiaha (maori spear) club or double-edged sword and by it the power of utu was broken.

When Tarore’s little book came down to Otaki, the warrior chief Te Rauparaha heard the message and built the Rangiatea Church in Otaki.

Maori warriors

When Tarore’s life was taken at the foot of these falls her little book of Luke became like a fishing net, because when Jesus called his disciples, he said, “follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”  (Matthew 4:17-18)  After his resurrection, when the disciples cast out their nets to catch fish, they caught 153 big fish, and the net didn’t tear. (John 21:11)

The number 153 represents the Kingdom of God and if you want to read another blog post, Number 153, signs and symbols, I’ll show you why.

The height of the Wairere falls is 153 metres.  The significance is not lost on me.  I hope you liked the story and the trip to the falls.

Wairere Falls - Amos 5-24


Links

My walk to Wairere Falls

Tarore’s story: The story of Torore is a taonga – the maori word for treasure or gift.  It is a treasure of the church in NZ.  NZ history and culture is built on it.  When Tarore’s little book came down to Otaki, the warrior chief Te Rauparaha heard the message and built the Rangiatea Church.  Sadly an arsonist burned it down 1995 but a replica was rebuilt and completed in 2003.

 

Ishmael

Ishmael, a character in my book is about to read my story.  That’s not his real name, but it suits him.  He is a Moslem.  Before reading it, I was at pains to explain who “the King,” the main character in my book is.

“We worship the same God,” he replied, wanting peace between us.

Are God and Allah same

Really?  I heard the same thing from my new age publishing consultant.  She believed the market would be fine with my story as “any deity could play the King.”

“You mean, Jesus could be the same as Allah?” I asked the publishing consultant, to clarify.

“Well, yes – as the Bible and the Quran contain many of the same elements” she replied.

It is true that Islam’s warlike prophet Mohammed did include parts of the Bible in the Quran.  The Gospels had been around at least 500 years before Islam.

But both books can’t be right.  I made it quite clear before publishing the book that I would not change the name of the King or dilute his persona or character – not for anybody.  He is who he is.

wpid-who-do-you-say-i-am-question

“Who do you say I am?”  Jesus asked. 

“What is truth?” Pilate asked. 

These are the questions we all have to decide.  I only hope my book “The Kingdom, Here Be Dragons, Here Be Dreams” presents the King as he is in the Bible; the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God. 1 Timothy 1:17

For Ishmael’s sake, I did try to read the Quran years ago.  I got through a good part of it before stopping at the part which advocated killing Jews and infidels.  There are over a hundred verses in the Quran dealing with Jihad or holy war.  That’s why we’re having so many problems with terrorism, which would be better named “Muslim fundamentalism.”

At his arrest, Jesus, the King in my story, told Peter “Put away your sword, for those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”  Matthew 26:52.

Jesus fought with a different sword – the word out of his mouth.

After praying for wisdom, I tried a different tack with Ishmael.  I looked at who Jesus, Isa is in the Quran.  Much to my surprise, in the Quran Jesus is called “Spirit of God” and “Word of God.”  And he is mentioned more in the Quran than Mohammed, their prophet.

But it’s like the truth is veiled from Ishmael.  His religion is designed to keep them away from Christ.  Knowing that only the true God can remove the veil.  I presented Jesus, Isa to him as the “Spirit of God.”  I can remember Ishmael referring to Jesus as such.

The Bible explains that with the Lord, there is freedom; “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  2 Corinthians 3:16-18

This poem is for Ishmael.  Although we are related through Abraham, peace cannot come through compromise.  To agree that God and Allah are the same is to break the first commandment, which says;  “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  “You shall have no other gods before me.”  Exodus 20:1-3

Ishmael, my brother,
 How long shall we fight each other?

My brother from times bygone,
 My brother - Hagar's son,
 My brother the wandering one.

One angel was sent to us both,
 One angel watched over our growth -
 There in the wilderness, death threatened through thirst,
 I a sacrifice on the alter, Sarah's first.

Ishmael, my brother, hear my plea:
 It was the angel who tied you to me. . . .

Time is running out, put hatred to sleep.
 Shoulder to Shoulder, lets water our sheep.

Here is a Moslem who was asked “who is Jesus?”  It’s 3.31 mins.

God is fussy about His name.

Islam has 99 names for God and they don’t match up.

How Muhammad Broke the 10 Commandments – #1 I am the Lord thy God
Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:11-12

Blessed are the peacemakers

peacemakers

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”  Matthew 5:9

I asked the Lord what he meant by that on my early morning walk today.  

First, he gave me a scripture; God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”  Colossians 1:20.

The Lord explained that he was the first peace maker; and when we become his sons and daughters, we become his peace makers.  He reminded me what I’d done with my mother last year.  We never had a good relationship.  But he saw her differently from me.

Here’s my story about making peace.

Shepherds call

Seven years passed.  Healed from the hurt of the past, Joanna went from strength to strength.  But she still had bad memories from her childhood.

One day her mother grew seriously ill.  Joanna approached the Lord, concerned about her mother’s salvation.

“Father, it’s up to you whether she’ll pull through this time. I forgive my mother for all the abuse she heaped on us. She wasn’t able to be a good mother because she was abandoned at the age of three.

Is her name written in your book, the book of life?  She believes in you – but she doesn’t know you. I want to be able to bring her to you, but I can’t reach her. I can hardly go through the four spiritual laws, or walk her down the Roman road.  Lord, how can I get her to trust you? You promised that if we lack wisdom, we should ask. I’m asking.”

albrecht_schenck_shepherd_call

Shepherd’s Call, by Albrecht Schenck

“I will come to her,” He replied, pointing to a painting that her mother used to have; a vintage 1900’s painting called ‘Shepherd’s call’ which depicted a collie barking for the shepherd after finding a lost lamb in the snow.

“Talk about that painting. Ask her who the dog is barking for, and then bring me in. I want her to know she is the lamb …”

“What a brilliant idea. I’d never have thought of that,” Joann replied, impressed. “But I don’t want religion getting in the way. What should I do if it does?”

The Lord gave her an answer for that.

Later Joanna sat at her mother’s side, alone.

“You know that painting of the dog and the lamb you had?” she began.

“Yes, I gave it away,” her mother replied.

“Yes, you did. Remember that lost lamb?”

“The lamb didn’t have a mother,” her mother recalled.

“Yes, that’s right Mum, she didn’t have a mother,” Joanna replied, sad.

“The Lord said for me to tell you that you are that lamb” she said, as soon as she’d gathered her composure.

Tears came to her mother’s eyes.

“Who was the dog barking for?” Joanna asked.

“The shepherd,” her mother eventually answered.

“Did you know the Lord is the Shepherd?” Joanna replied.

More tears came.

Just as Joanna had foreseen, Joanna’s mother talked about religion.

“Mum, do you know what the Bible says true religion is?” Joanna responded.

Her mother shook her head.

“True religion is to take care of widows and orphans,” Joanna replied, giving the answer the Lord had given her.

“I’m a widow,” her mother said.

“That’s right, you are a widow,” Joanna replied, impressed at the Lord’s answer.

“Who is the Lord to you?” Joanna cautiously asked, feeling like the Collie.

Her mother was silent.

“Are you afraid of death?” Joanna asked.

“Yes, I’m afraid of the devil – I don’t want to see him,” she replied.

Joanna introduced the Shepherd.

“Mum, Jesus tends his flock like a shepherd. He looks for lost lambs and he saves them. He wants to carry you in his arms, close to his heart,” she added.

“Who would you like him to be?” she asked, watching her mother’s face.

“My protector,” her mother replied.

“Like a saviour?” Joanna asked.

“Yes,” her mother agreed.

“Do you accept him as your saviour?” Joanna asked.

“Yes,” her mother replied, with childlike faith.

“You are saved,” Joanna told her, relieved to see the lamb now cradled in the Shepherd’s arms.

“Now that you have accepted Jesus as your saviour, you need fear no evil in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The Lord is your Shepherd, and his rod and staff will comfort you,” Joanna reassured her, remembering her own staff.

That was as much as she could do.

Outside, a piece of rainbow shone out from clouds above the Ruahine mountain range.

That night, her mother sang.

My hope for you, for 2015

Hope is a powerful thing, and if God gives it the world can’t take it away.

I once heard a good acronym for HOPE;

Honest Optimism Practically Expressed.

Hope opens up the power flow for the Holy Spirit to move in your life.  Doubt closes it.  The Lord would tell me off when I expressed any doubts about His promises.

Hang in there and don’t stop believing.

Here’s Psalm 25 put to music by Third day.  It’s called “My hope is in you.”  We played this at our wedding at the conclusion of the service.  It meant a lot to us, as we’d put our hope in the Lord – and he did more for us than we ever expected or imagined.

I hope you have some en-JOY-able times this year, even in the midst of challenges.

Faith Quotes_Faith quote2