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.

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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. 

Pop-Up Discovery Groups…

Pop-up food venues have become popular. Food trucks and stalls are popping up, and down, all year round. Food vendors congregate, set up tables and chairs, and in no time people arrive to whet their appetite and enjoy conversation with like-minded others. Sharing food is so often conducive to meaningful conversations. Food addresses our physical hunger and eating with others can satisfy our social needs.

Important as these experiences are to our wellbeing Discovery Bible Study groups go beyond that to address our deeper spiritual needs.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’  ”

Matthew 4:4 NIV

People, who are searching and spiritually hungry, come together to feed on the Word of God in a Discovery group. They encourage one another and seek answers to the question, “Having read this passage how then shall I live?” They are open to the Spirit of God and are prepared to step out in obedience when the the answers come.

The possible venues for pop-up Discovery Groups are limited only by our imagination, homes, cafes, shopping centres, workplaces, retirement villages, prisons, schools, colleges, universities and hospitals.

There are lots of easy-to-read resources available on the internet for discovery bible study and the obedience-based methodology.

Take a look, get started and before you know it you will have a thriving pop-up Discovery group.

Oh, and don’t forget drop me a line. I would love to encourage you.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

John 3:8 NIV

Discovering God’s Compassion for a Lost World

“You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love.”

Jonah 4:2

Following the Chosen series of studies our discovery group has moved onto the theme of Discovering God’s Compassion for a Lost World based on the four chapters of the book of Jonah in the Old Testament.

We have continued to use the three step Discovery Bible Study method, Look Back, Look Up and Look Forward. This method allows the Spirit of God elbow room and I have observed His influence upon each of our weekly sessions.
Across the course of the last eighteen months the discovery group has been a wonderful tool for encouraging discipleship – following Jesus. There has been a growing appreciation of the Scriptures, and a growing appreciation of the importance of being obedient to the Spirit of God revealed through the Scriptures. As such I have observed the willingness to share leadership and invite others to join the group, and a deepening desire to extend the opportunity, in the form of additional Discovery groups, for other God-prepared people, whether they are already followers of Jesus or simply seeking to know more about God.

Thus this growing appreciation has recently seen two other groups initiated in our community, one in a busy local shopping centre and the other in a popular bakery, holding true to our principle of taking the Scriptures into the marketplace.

Continue to pray for us…and continue watching this space…

 

Listening…

In her book, Time to Think, 1999, Nancy Kline lists ten components of a thinking environment,

  1. Attention – Listening with respect, interest and fascination.
  2. Incisive Questions – Removing assumptions that limit ideas.
  3. Equality – Treating each other as thinking peers,
  4. Appreciation – Practising a five-to-one ratio of appreciation to criticism.
  5. Ease – Offering freedom from rush and urgency.
  6. Encouragement – Moving beyond competition.
  7. Feelings – Allowing sufficient emotional release to restore thinking.
  8. Information – Providing a full and accurate picture of reality.
  9. Place – Creating a physical environment that says back to people, ‘You matter.’
  10. Diversity – Adding quality because of the differences between us.

Almost forty years before, in 1961, Taylor Caldwell wrote her novel, The Man Who Listens, where eighty year old John Godfrey fulfilled his dream of constructing a place, a physical environment, which said to people who entered, ‘You matter.’ With construction finished the story unfolds with accounts of the people who visited the sanctuary. Caldwell paints the aspects of the thinking environment for each one and deep personal change ensues. John Godfrey’s legacy proved to be more than just a building.

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I loaned my copy of Taylor Caldwell’s book to a friend some months ago. The book has since been returned. However, recently I received an Encouragement Card from my friend,

A huge thank you for loaning me your fabulous book about the Man Who Listens. I continue to pray that I will be a good LISTENER and I am humbled by the opportunities I have had to listen to those who need an ear. I have not forgotten the sensitivity and love that is conveyed through the pages of your book and it has resonated into my life. Thank you for your friendship and trust.”

The importance of listening cannot be understated. While we all have a part to play in listening to one another we are privileged to be able to turn to God. The Psalms abound with confirmation and affirmation that the Lord hears our heartfelt conversations with Him.

Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer…..the Lord hears when I call to him.

Psalm 4:1,3

What a privilege it is to go to God. We have ready access to His sanctuary whenever and wherever we are, and He listens.

P.S. My copy of The Man Who Listens was lovingly presented, by one of my brothers and his wife, to our mother on the occasion of her birthday, 2nd October 1961. It captured my attention when I first read it and somehow it ended up on my bookshelf.

P.P.S. Encouragement Cards have been part of the life of our church for many years. There is space for a short note of encouragement on one side and the name and  address of the recipient on the other. The cards are collected during worship services at the same time as the offering then posted during the week. Each card has the words , Let us encourage one another, from Hebrews 10:25.

 

More to Life – Choice

Our Pastor, Mark, concluded the More to Life preaching series by explained clearly our choice to either commit to receive Jesus for the first time, to renew our commitment to follow Jesus, or deepen our commitment to follow Jesus.

It was a moving experience to see the large number of people who chose to demonstrate their commitment by walking to the front of the worship centre and hanging their commitment cards on one of the tree branches arranged at the front.

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The following Tuesday our Discovery Bible Study group also concluded the series with Choice as the theme for the final study. Glenn, Wade and Bob joined me, and Bob at the end of the session expressed his heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to the preparation of the study material.

I have been privileged to observe the changes in people. Throughout people have been deliberate in extending invitations to others to join in. They have been prepared to share leadership responsibilities, they have prayed enthusiastically and willingly extended support and encouragement to each other beyond the group gatherings.

Over and above the usual groups in our church seventeen new groups pursued the More to Life series.

God is always seeking to move in the lives of people, and when a church is serious about following Jesus, clearly declaring the Good News about God’s plan of salvation, and extending the hand of love,  mercy and grace to the people in the community then opportunity is given for God’s gracious blessings.

I’m looking forward to the next series of studies, CHOSEN by God, based on 1 and 2 Thessalonians, which starts in April.