Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, is with me this morning, is with me as I wander through to the kitchen, is with me as I am forced to bend my back to the terrible labours of having to make my own cup of tea.
Interns at Arise Church - which I founded in 2002 and have seen grow to one of New Zealand's biggest evangelical churches - used to compete for the honour of making my cup of tea in the morning. One would hold the cup. Another would hold the saucer. A third would stir the spoon. And truly they were blessed, unless they spilled a drop.
But it has all been taken away from me. Someone pretending to be a journalist has published damaging stories on his Webworm newsletter, and I have had to step aside from the Arise board.
But David Farrier is not a journalist. He is known by other names.
Job, chapter 1, verse 7: "The Lord said to Satan, 'Where have you come from?' Satan answered the Lord, 'From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.'"
Like a worm. Like a worm in a web. Truly, Satan comes from Webworm.
God Almighty! God Almighty, the All-Powerful One, the Mighty One of Jacob, also the Mighty One of myself and my brother Brent.
Hear our prayers, O God. Brent, too, as a senior pastor at Arise, has had to step aside. Poor old Brent! He is Thy humble servant, just as Arise interns were our humble and sometimes grovelling servants.
But some of those interns have taken offence. Let's face it. Taking offence is in vogue. Does anybody else feel that everybody in the world is offended right now? Offence is in vogue. Offence has become our national pastime. Offence has been given a pedestal. Pedestals are in vogue, too. The Bible predicted it.
Revelations, chapter 20, verses 1-3: "And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time."
That short time is now. That old dragon is Webworm.
Ran out of teabags. Called Brent. "Go to shops and buy some," he said. If only it were that easy.
But have not I also performed good in people's lives? I helped to change many, many lives for the better. Arise is a very, very happy church. We perform many, many good works in the community and on behalf of families in need. We have campuses in Auckland, Hamilton, Kāpiti, Whanganui, Masterton, Christchurch, Selwyn, Dunedin. We are strong. We will survive. We will prosper.
Jesus Christ and God Almighty! A little help? I bought the teabags, put one in a cup, found a spoon from somewhere (what even is a
"cutlery drawer"?), waited – and nothing happened. It's possible I was missing a step. A word came to mind. But what actually is a "kettle"?
But in that waiting, I searched for forgiveness. And the meaning of forgiveness. And the beauty of asking for forgiveness. Because when people fall for the trap of being offended – and let's be clear, it is a trap – they fail to forgive.
I'm not saying this is on the interns to forgive. That's their decision. But I am saying we must not ever forgive Satan.
Romans, chapter 16, verse 20: "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."
Like a worm. Like a worm in a web. Like a Webworm.