Discovering God’s Compassion for a Lost World…

Our Discovery group recently concluded it’s deliberations on the the Old Testament book of Jonah.

It’s an amazing story resulting in a whole city, the city of Nineveh, seeking God’s forgiveness.

In a recent post, Disruptive Grace, I wrote, “The disruptive grace of God has not been and is not confined to biblical times. The Spirit of God continues to bring disruptive grace today. People’s lives are dramatically changed, individual people, communities and nations around the world are radically and fundamentally changed.”

And while Jonah is another biblical example of God’s disruptive grace a read of Steve Addison’s, Movements that Changed the World, will quickly give you a historical view of the movements of the grace of God up to the present day.

During these movements individuals, communities and nations are influenced by the Spirit of God and remarkable change results.

God said to Jonah, “And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

Jonah 4:11 NIV

While the magnitude of the change was remarkable God’s personal, persistent and patient dealings with Jonah are remarkable. Jonah knew that God was gracious and compassionate, and would be, “slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Jonah 4:2‭ NIV

In the beginning God looked upon His creation and said, “It is good.” However, through the disobedience of humankind sin entered the world and a change of seismic proportions occurred.

God, the Creator, gracious and compassionate, is not thwarted. He has a plan and is actively redeeming His world. He will bring it to completion in His appointed time.

The pinnacle of His redeeming work was the act of redemption was completed when Christ was crucified, and now to this day the saving grace of God is available to anyone who would believe.

Like Nineveh, like Jonah,

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

2 Peter 3:9 NIV

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August Interlude…

Day Six:

My August Interlude for 2017 has come to an end and I return home to Ballarat -it’s purpose of personal rest, relaxation and reflection has been fulfilled.

During my daily wanderings, from my base in Torquay, along the surf coast from Lorne to Barwon Heads I have been inspired by my observations. Listening has been a constant companion -listening to the voice of the God of creation, the one true God, the Rock of my salvation.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord , my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:1‭-‬14 NIV

Disruptive Grace…

The word disruptive conjures up images of hooligan sports fans, or drunken revellers spilling out onto the street in the early hours of the morning displaying behaviour without consideration  for the harm they may inflict upon persons or property.

Disruptive technology maybe another thought, and the disruption it brings to accepted business practices such as Uber and the taxi industry. Years ago the advent of the quartz movement and digital technology brought seismic upheaval to the Swiss watchmaking industry. 

See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartz_crisis

There are many examples of disruption where the pattern of the past has been cast aside.However, take a few moments to ponder the disruption brought by the amazing grace of God.

God’s grace is disruptive. It brings change of seismic proportions to the patterns of behaviour of individuals, communities and nations.

In biblical times Zaccheaus the grasper became the giver, Paul the persecutor became the preacher, the nation of Israel under the young King Josiah turned from its wicked ways, and the people of the city of Nineveh on hearing the word of warning from Jonah, repented and received God’s mercy.

The disruptive grace of God has not been and is not confined to biblical times. The Spirit of God continues to bring disruptive grace today. People’s lives are dramatically changed, individual people, communities and nations around the world are radically and fundamentally changed.

God hasn’t stopped. He is very much alive and active in today’s world, and his grace remains disruptive and amazing!

Let’s keep it simple. If God has extended his grace to you then extend that grace to someone else. It maybe in the form of a smile, an invitation, an offer of help, a gift of food, or simply the gift of your time to listen. What a privilege.

Neil told me, when I asked, that I smiled first. I wasn’t quite sure. Our paths converged recently on one side of a pedestrian crossing. I smiled, he smiled and I asked if I could walk across with him. By the time we walked to the other side the seeds of friendship were sown.

My friends waiting in the nearby cafe were beckoning through the window for me to hurry up. We exchanged cards, Neil left and I entered the cafe to meet my friends. They had been debating whether I already knew Neil or whether it was the first time I had met him. I played along and allowed them to debate a little longer before declaring it was the first time.

It was a few days later while I was visiting Neil and his family in their home he confirmed I smiled first.

God’s disruptive grace changed both our lives that day,  and the invitation, extended during my visit, for Neil to join me and my friends for Discovery Bible Study next week went straight into the calendar of his smartphone – that’s disruptive technology.

I’m looking forward to introducing Neil to my friends. They are wonderfully inclusive. Together our lives change.
God’s disruptive grace demands a new pattern…Place Your Life Before God…become a disrupter.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Romans 12:1‭-‬2 MSG

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Philippians 2:3‭-‬5 NIV

That’s disruptive behaviour that brings with it God’s disruptive grace.

Andrew Thomas, Photographer

While I have known Andrew for a number years I have only recently started following his daily blog.

He roams within a fortytwo kilometre radius of his home city, Ballarat, taking remarkable photographs.

Some recent photographs of two of his favourite destinations…

Early morning at Lake Wendouree…

Aerial view of Lal Lal Falls…

Why fortytwo kilometres? Andrew reckons that if his car breaks down he could  still run home!

Recently Andrew completed a major project, publishing a photographic record of all fiftynine national parks , to coincide with the centennial year of the USA National Parks Service. His book, The National Parks of the United States: A Photographic Journey, is now available online through Amazon.com.

Andrew’s work reveals his passion for capturing the light and shade and colour of a moment, or the majestic grandeur of his surroundings, or the detail in his glimpses of nature.

The Apostle Paul claims,

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Romans 1:20 NIV

And I am brought to my knees in awe.

Thank you, Andrew.

August Interlude…

Day Four:

I had hoped to walk from Point Impossible back to Torquay on the Surf Coast track this morning. See http://www.surfcoastwalk.com.au/

However, there was water over the road into the Point. Instead, not to be denied, I drove to Brimlea and walked along the coastline to the Point.

On my way…

Far…

Near…

And…

On to Barwon Heads for lunch…

From Barwon Bluff…

The bridge at Barwon Heads…

I’ve placed this post under additional categories. They all apply personally for I am seeking God during my August Interlude of rest, relaxation and reflection.

Til tomorrow…

But Wait, There’s More…

Tim Shaw became the face of Demtel International and popularised the saying, “But wait, there’s more…,” for the Australian TV viewing audience.

In recent posts I have described my experience with Discovery Bible Study groups and have encouraged others to start a discovery group.

But wait there’s more!

Discovery Bible Study is one tool, or strategic action, in a whole disciple-making or church planting movement.The disciple-maker is open to meeting God-prepared people, people who are seeking and hungry for the gospel or people who have already received  Christ as their Saviour and want to learn how to share the gospel. Discovery Bible Study, with it’s obedience-based  methodology, becomes the instrument for reproducing disciples, who reproduce other disciples.

“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

John 14:21 NIV

Again a quick search of the internet will reveal a wealth of resources on disciple-making or church planting movements. For starters Steve Smith’s article, CPM Essentials on a Napkin, http://www.missionfrontiers.org/issue/article/kingdom-kernels2, and the book, Contagious Disciple-making: Leading Others on a Journey of Discovery, by David an Paul Watson, are highly recommended.