Category Archives: New Zealand

Is Fellowship With God That Important?

When the New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons in overtime in Super Bowl LI three weeks ago, Carol and I watched the game in a pub in Wanaka, New Zealand. Since New Zealand Daylight Time is 18 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, the game came on during lunch time on Monday, February 6.

We were in Wanaka for our youngest daughter’s wedding. On that Monday, the guys went one direction for a bachelor party; the girls another direction for a bachelorette party; and the parents went on a safari of the region. Since our tour ended by 1PM, Carol and I found a pub to watch the Super Bowl.

We learned later that the bachelor party started out at a pub watching the game. Thinking the game would only last 3.5 hours, the host scheduled several adventure activities like jetboating and off-road racing. As it turned out, it meant that the guys left the Super Bowl with five minutes remaining in regulation. Consequently, they missed the Patriots tying the game in regulation and winning in overtime.

Some people view a relationship with God in the same fashion. It is simply one of many good activities and options in their life. As long as heaven is secure, how important is fellowship with God on a daily basis?

That is a question the apostle John addresses in 1 John 2:28-3:3. Using one of his favorite terms, John encourages his readers to abide in Christ. He explains that abiding demonstrates one is part of God’s family and will prepare a person for Christ’s return. Those who abide in Christ will be prepared to meet him when he returns.

Q: Why should I abide in Christ? (2:28a). A professor in grad school was fond of saying, “Until you answer the why question, the price is always too high.” John seems to anticipate that question. After telling his readers, “abide in him,” John goes on to give several reasons after the phrase, “… so that …”

A1: You will be prepared for Christ’s return (2:28b). The return of Jesus Christ will be more than a Sunday School awards banquet. We will stand before God and answer for how we lived our lives. No one wants to be embarrassed because they are unprepared. We want to be able to enter his presence boldly rather than cower in shame in a corner.

A2: Abiding reveals whose family you belong to (2:29). In the same way that a child has their parents’ eyes or nose, so righteous living is the family trait of those who are part of God’s family.

A3: Abiding reveals your attitude about God’s grace (3:1). Rather than view God’s love in a “ho, hum” manner, John expresses a sense of amazement. “Look at that! We are called God’s children. Unbelievable!” Our sense of security comes from recognizing what God has done for us.

A4: Abiding allows God to transform you (3:2). John explains that God is in the process of transforming us from “then” to “now” to “not yet.” One day, we will be like Christ. As great as our experience with Christ is right now, it is only the tip of the iceberg compared to what it will be later.

A5: You will stay prepared for Christ’s return (3:3). John comes full circle when he explains that the hope of heaven produces purity on earth. We are to engage in a continual process of moral purification.

When I became an instructor with Walk Thru the Bible Ministries some 30 years ago, I had to promise not to teach a WTB event with sin in my life. Each time the faculty gathers, there is a ceremony where we are asked to recommit to that promise. Next week, I will be in Georgia where Phil Tuttle, the president of Walk Thru, will ask me if my life is pure. I want to make certain of my answer so that I am not ashamed when the question comes.

In the same way, the one who abides in Christ will be prepared to meet him when he returns. Abide in Christ. Be prepared when he comes back.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on February 26, 2017. It is part of a series of sermons on The Letters of John. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


Andrew & Caitlin Gosnell’s wedding day

Some photos of Andrew & Caitlin Gosnell’s wedding are starting to pop up on Facebook. Thanks go to Jan Gosnell, who shared them, & Hilary, who took them. Cheers!

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Posted by on February 16, 2017 in Family & Friends, New Zealand, Photos, Weddings


New Zealand Adventures – Travel day

A long day of traveling

Day Time Activity Length
Sunday, February 12 8:30AM NZDT (New Zealand Daylight Time) Arrive at Queenstown airport 2 hours before flight 2 hours
10:30AM NZDT Flight leaves for Auckland 2 hours
12:30PM NZDT Arrive at Auckland – 3 hour layover 3 hours
3:30PM NZDT Flight leaves for LAX 12 hours
Sunday, February 12 6:30AM PST (Pacific Standard Time) Flight arrives at LAX – 6 hour layover—flight delayed one hour due to snow storm in Boston 6 hours
12:46PM PST Flight leaves for Boston 5+ hours flight
9:30PM EST (Eastern Standard Time) Flight arrives at Boston – Get luggage and car 30 minutes
10:00PM EST Drive home in snow storm 2.5 hours
Monday, February 13 12:30AM EST Fall into bed
Total time of travel 33+ hours
Cost of the trip $$$$$$$
Wear and tear on the body !!!!!!!!!!
Celebrating Caitlin’s & Andrew’s wedding & spending time with family in New Zealand Priceless!

Home. SIGH!


Posted by on February 13, 2017 in Family & Friends, New Zealand


New Zealand Adventures – Queenstown

We are in Queenstown, our final night in New Zealand. We took the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak. From there, we had a magnificent view of Queenstown and the surrounding countryside. We even picked out the hotel we’re staying in. We enjoyed a dinner at Taco Medic and dessert at Cookie Bar. We even discovered that Hell is a real place down under (just a little theological tongue-in-cheek).

Tomorrow morning, we begin the long journey home. With flights, layovers, and drive time, it is 30+ hours of travel. It’s been a fabulous trip.

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Posted by on February 11, 2017 in Family & Friends, New Zealand, Photos


New Zealand Adventures – Milford Sound

After leaving Wanaka & the wedding party, we headed south to Milford Sound. The drive from Wanaka to Milford Sound was quite stunning with fields, mountains, rivers, lakes, and waterfalls. While in Milford Sound, we took a Discovery Cruise through the fjordlands. (Milford Sound resembles the fjords in Scandinavia with the mountains dropping into the sea.) Part of the cruise took us to the Underwater Discovery Center. It was a spectacular day, especially so since I spent my birthday with most of my family.

While it was cloudy and a bit foggy and rain sprinkles, last month they had 26 days of rain, so they said we were there with good weather.

We also saw a rather colorful van at the Milford Sound Lodge where we were staying. None of us had seen a treehouse camper before.

Today, we left Milford Sound and are now in Queenstown. We start the homeward journey tomorrow morning.

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Posted by on February 10, 2017 in Family & Friends, New Zealand, Photos


New Zealand Adventures – Wedding Day for Caitlin & Andrew

Here are a few photos from Caitlin’s & Andrew’s wedding. Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Gosnell.

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Posted by on February 8, 2017 in Family & Friends, New Zealand, Weddings


A Dad’s Day

This afternoon, I walked my youngest daughter, Caitlin, down the aisle and gave her to her new husband, Andrew. As a dad who is also a pastor, I had the privilege of sharing in part of the ceremony. I gave a brief message before leading the couple through their declarations. Here are the thoughts I shared with Caitlin and Andrew. Some of which were also shared with Amanda & Phillip, our oldest daughter and her husband, when I performed their wedding in June 2015.


2Caitlin, when I stood before Amanda and Phillip on their wedding day, I said that I felt a bit like Steve Martin in the movie, “Father of the Bride,” where his daughter tells him she’s getting married. He looks across the dinner table and sees a 6-year old. She says, “Dad, we’re getting married!” I have that same feeling today on your wedding day. When did you grow up and become a young woman?

Andrew, when Amanda and Phillip were married, I told Phillip that I felt a bit like Pastor Chuck Swindoll when he said that giving away a daughter is like giving a Stradivarius violin to a gorilla. I have that same feeling again. Andrew, you are a good gorilla. But I’m entrusting one of my most valuable possessions to your care. Treat. Her. Well.

Caitlin, mom and I have been praying for this day since you were an infant. We prayed that God would bring the right man to you at the right time. We prayed that he would be a godly man who loved Jesus and loved you. We prayed that he would complement you. We believe that prayer has been answered.

Caitlin Rose, you have a significant name. Caitlin is a Celtic name that means pure. Rose comes from the beautiful flower. We chose it as a shortened form of your grandmother Lena’s last name, Rosenquist. Caitlin Rose, mom and I pray that you will have a pure heart for God and that you will bring beauty into the world.

Andrew Neal, you also have a significant name. Andrew is a Greek name that means manly. Andrew was one of the disciples of Jesus Christ. Neal is an Irish Gaelic name that means champion. Andrew, my prayer for you is that you will discover what it means to be a man of God and that you will be a champion who follows Jesus Christ.

img_1666-2My prayer for both of you is that you will put into practice the verses that were read earlier in Colossians 3:12-17. May the peace of Christ rule your lives. Let the message of Christ dwell in you richly. Let all you do be done in the name of Jesus. It is only when you center your lives on Jesus that you can fulfill the instructions in verses 12-13. “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

This kind of a marriage is supernatural. It can only be accomplished through God’s grace and in his power. It requires commitment to him and to each other.

Mom and I, or Carol and I, have some good friends, Phil and Ellen Tuttle. During the early years of their marriage, whenever they had an argument, they might throw out the “D” word, Divorce. On one occasion, Phil wanted to make a statement about his commitment to Ellen. So he grabbed the dictionary in their house, took an X-Acto knife, and surgically removed the word “divorce” from their dictionary. Years later, their daughter, Emily, who is Amanda’s age, would show that dictionary to her friends. It gave her a sense of security and pride to know her parents were committed to each other and had removed that word from their vocabulary.

img_2278-2I want to challenge you to make that same commitment to each other today. As you say your vows, you are making a statement to each other in front of us and before God that divorce is not an option. To help signify that, I have a gift for you. It is the same gift I gave Amanda and Phillip at their wedding. It is a dictionary with the word “divorce” removed. The downside is that you also lose whatever is on the other page, on the back side of that word. But it demonstrates that to say, “Yes,” to each other means you have to say, “No,” to other people and other options.

As it turns out, the other side of the word “divorce” in this dictionary is the word, “divide.” By removing both words from your vocabulary, you commit to not allowing yourselves to become so divided that you think divorce is the answer.


When I was asked to give a toast to Caitlin and Andrew during the reception, I thought, “What can I say that hasn’t been said over the past 27 years?” Then I thought, “What blessing can I give them on their wedding day?”

img_0477I went for a walk this morning to think and pray about what to say. I passed the fruit trees on the road. I saw apple, apricot, and another one that I didn’t recognize. I was struck with one thought. It is the toast I want to give and the blessing I want to pass on to the two of you.

My toast is one phrase, “May you be fruitful.”

May you be fruitful in your character. May you develop and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit—the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—that comes as you center your life on Jesus Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit. May you bear the fruit of righteousness.

May you be fruitful in your careers. May you discover your passion and find success in your field of endeavor.

May you be fruitful in your marriage and family. May you grow more in love with each other through each passing day. May God grant you children in his time and may you raise them to know and love Jesus.

57May you be fruitful in your witness. May you live as salt and light in the world. May you create a hunger and a thirst in others to know Jesus because they see a difference in your lives. May others come to know him as savior and Lord because of your witness.

Caitlin and Andrew, may God bless you and cause you to be fruitful.


May God richly bless Andrew & Caitlin Gosnell!


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Posted by on February 8, 2017 in Family & Friends, New Zealand, Weddings