Spoilt…

Recently my wife emphatically reflected out loud,  “We are spoilt!” I wholeheartedly agreed. We were sitting at table following our evening meal. The past three years had been difficult. My recovery from heart bypass surgery hadn’t been all plain sailing.  However, we had received wonderful support throughout. It had come from all quarters, the medical professionals, family and friends.

My wife went on to ask, “Why us?” I thought afterwards I could have responded with, “Why not us?” However, I didn’t but responded with the thought that we had been spoilt so that we could spoil others.

I had in mind the passage in Ephesians where the Apostle Paul writes, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” Ephesians 1:7‭-‬8 NIV

In difficult times we had experienced the lavishness of the riches of God grace and we in turn could help others experience some of this richness.

But wait, there’s more. Only a few days earlier I had been rushed to hospital with what I thought was a possible stroke. Once again the emergency health system kicked in to ensure I received the best possible care. Following my arrival  in emergency I was quickly diagnosed with Bell’s palsy. With the tests completed, and medication prescribed I was released from hospital the same day.

Again the sense of being spoilt came through, the immediate treatment by medical professionals then the follow up support from family and friends.

Three weeks later I attended a neurology clinic for a follow up appointment. While unexpected I was pleased to discover it was the same neurologist, David, who had attended me in emergency. After a few questions and a few facial exercises on my part David expressed his surprise at how quickly I had recovered from the palsy. I explained that we had a wonderful circle of friends, who were praying for me. He posed the possibility  of an MRI scan to see if there was some other underlying cause to the palsy however, he first wanted to talk to his supervisor.

David left the room and after several long minutes returned with his supervisor, Thomas. David explained that he had difficulty in convincing his supervisor, and Thomas wanted to see for himself.  Thomas asked me to blink both eyes and while he noted a slight delay in the eye on the affected right side of my face. He confirmed David’s assessment regarding my recovery and left, leaving David to finish the consultation. David handed me a slip of paper, which he had signed, explaining that he didn’t need to see me again, wished me well,  and to hand the slip to reception on my way out.

I felt SPOILT! The whole experience was amazing and I celebrated simply by quickly sending a text message to family and friends, and then enjoyed a cup of coffee before heading home to tell my wife.

Another passage written by the Apostle Paul  in Ephesians came to mind, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20‭-‬21 NIV

Be asssured God wants to spoil us, to lavish the riches of his grace upon us.

But wait, there’s even more. These events have occured in the context of my being the primary carer for my wife. My ill health directly affects my capacity to care for her and in turn her quality of life is affected. So together when we say we have been spoilt we speak from first hand experience.

Not only is God our Rock, our Refuge in a time of need, He is our Provider in the midst of our needs. And does this lavishly.

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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…

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

Always Looking Up

Always Looking Up is the title of Michael J Fox’s second book. The first was Lucky Man. Michael of course is familiar for his roles in the Spin City TV series and the movie series of Back to the Future.

Particular emphasis is given to the establishment of the Michael J Fox Foundation to drive for research into Parkinson’s disease, Michael’s involvement in politics and the importance he places on faith and family.

While “always looking up” as the sole principle for one’s life is questionable – looking down may help you to avoid tripping, or looking sideways or for that matter looking both ways may avoid a nasty accident, or valuable lessons may be learnt from looking back and looking ahead may be helpful in negotiating what the future may hold – Michael thoughtfully explains his book contains the adventures of an incurable optimist.

Lance Armstrong, Christopher Reeve and Muhammad Ali are just a few of the names he mentions, people who significantly influenced him during his transition from busy performer to advocate for suffers of Parkinson’s disease.

Hero – An ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure.

Christopher Reeve – Superman
Before a catastrophe, we can’t imagine coping with the burdens that might confront us in a dire moment. Then when the moment arrives, we suddenly find that we have resources inside us that we knew nothing about.
Christopher Reeve
There was nothing sudden about it, but with growing assuredness, I began to plumb the depths of those resources. The important thing, I realised, was to avoid panic, and I couldn’t find a more powerful example of sublime grace under unrelenting pressure than Christopher Reeve.
Michael J Fox
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