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

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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.

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…

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.

IMG_20160518_100836

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.