He Turns Up!

“So why do you think it is growing?”

I was asked this question recently regarding a community project that I have been a part of for the last six months. “Hornsby Connect” has been providing low cost food to people in need each Wednesday and our clientele has now grown significantly.   We have a great group of volunteers and loads of effort has been put in to the setting up of the organisation… but those things are not the ‘secret to success’.

The reason we are growing is simple, but it is often simple things which are overlooked.

The one thing we have done is “we have turned up” – each week, consistently and willingly we have opened the doors and provided what we promised. At first, things moved slowly and there were even doubts that what we were offering was needed but slowly and surely it became apparent that if we just ‘turned up’ and opened the doors, then more and more would come. As long as we keep doing the same thing I believe that a positive future is assured.

Consistency is a powerful attribute; it has the capacity to change so many situations. Whether it is consistency as a worker, a friend, a spouse or a parent, there is no substitute whatsoever.

If we learn to build consistency into what we do then we are destined to have success and become valued by all who have dealings with us.

It is better to have someone who consistently delivers 80% day in day out, than someone who can hit 100% but can’t be relied upon to show up. Consistency builds confidence, satisfaction and hope – when you know it is going to be there you can begin to rely upon it.

This is why this is such an important attribute of the Lord’s character and the way He reveals Himself to His people. He said “I am the Lord I do not change!” (Mal 3:6) What this means in simple terms is “He turns up!”

Consistently, reliably and with all His benefits available – He turns up.

Every time we pray, every time we are in need of support, every time we are surrounded by doubt – He turns up.

Every time we need direction, every time we need encouragement, every time we are alone

He turns up.

His consistency has made such a difference in my life (and I know it can in yours) it makes me determined to be consistent in the way I respond and support others – how about you?

Made herself ready…

Six months of preparation culminates in a single day… invitations have been sent and answered, people are travelling in from far flung places, venues are booked and paid for, flowers and decorations are in place, dresses and suits are hanging in readiness, place-cards, table settings, music, cars, speeches, bonbonnieres, food, wine, and all manner of trimmings are all set and ready to go…

All that is left is for us all to get dressed and show up at the appointed time and I will have the incredible privilege of walking my daughter down the aisle and joining her hand in hand with my new son-in-law.   It is going to be a great day and one the whole family has been waiting for.

Whilst it has not been the only thing going on, this wedding (like all of them) has dominated its far share of time and effort. You want a wedding to be just right, to reflect the nature of the couple being married and to give it a sense of occasion and gravitas. Because of this, lists are written and re-written, checked and double-checked and finally it comes down to the moment where everyone just has to do what they are meant to do.

I have never been to a ‘perfect wedding’, there is always something that doesn’t go slightly to plan, someone forgets something or technology lets you down. But no matter what little things go wrong, the outcome has always been the same, the couple who walked in as ‘two’ leaves as ‘one’.

This wedding reminds me of another wedding we are all invited to attend…

“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Revelation 19:7

Just like a normal wedding, there is some preparation involved; ‘The Bride’ (the people who choose to belong to God) has to make herself ready. It is inconceivable that my Daughter would forget to put on her dress, smudge her makeup and walk into the service in a pair of dirty, ripped jeans and a tee shirt.

I know the effort she has put in and how carefully she has prepared herself to look radiant for her husband. She will be ready…

So the time has come – our wedding is here and we are ready… but the question is, for the wedding which is yet to come which signals the culmination of the age – are you ready?

Unknown Assistance

Last night my wife took on an unwelcomed intruder who had ventured into our house. It was during the middle of the night that she first heard the intruder and then saw him – a large huntsman spider crawling up the wall of our bedroom.   At first she thought about letting the ugly critter remain but she knew that she would not have been comfortable nor able to get back to sleep if she did. So she stepped out of bed, put on all the lights and dealt with the problem…all of this happened with me blissfully ignorant and asleep in the bed.

If she hadn’t told me what she had done I would never have known and it made me think about what other things had happened for my benefit without me being aware.

I thought about the police force and intelligence communities who vigilantly keep our country safe from those who would seek to attack and spread terror; I thought of the researchers who are working behind the scenes to target diseases and make our crops more resilient to pests and rigours of our climate; I thought of the hundreds of people who do hundreds of little things to make our lives a little better and found myself amazingly grateful for them all.

It is so easy to take things for granted and remain unaware and unthankful – we live in a society that has so many benefits that we become callously attached to our comfort and we lament the loss of it loudly at the first sense of discomfort…

Being unaware of what someone has done for you leads to being ignorantly unthankful, this is not a great place to live – the person who has done the deed on your behalf can feel unappreciated and you as the recipient can appear unappreciative and entitled. The best answer to this problem is to regularly take stock of all the benefits which are present in your life.   Psalm 103:2 “Bless the Lord O my soul and forget not all of His benefits!”

There are so many things that the Lord and others have provided for you – make sure that you are not ‘asleep in the bed’ just enjoying them. Take a moment today to list the good things that God has done and the good things that other people have done for you – approach your life with thankfulness – it is a lot more enjoyable than any other option.

Time to grow up!

I had a moment last weekend where the chaos subsided and I realised just what was happening. I stood next to my son as his eyes lit up and then started to glisten as his new bride walked down the aisle to meet him. It was a beautiful day, in a fantastic location, surrounded by friends and family, who all seemed to be having a wonderful time…and I also had the privilege of conducting the service.

This is the first of our children to be married and so it starts a new era for our family and so many things change – we have not lost a son but gained a bedroom! No really…we have gained another daughter. A new family unit has started and they will (I’m sure) do things differently, reach for different goals, experience different things and that is what makes it fantastic!

Life is all about growth and with growth comes some pain – it is bitter sweet to watch your children launch out on their own, especially when you have been so focussed on their safety, comfort and development – but to not allow them to grow would be terrible, to not see them become all they could be would be such a waste.

I did find myself looking at my son throughout the day and recalling the child he was, his growth, his challenges, the times he was sick and the times that he really needed me and I confess that it made me ‘misty’ more than once – but those feelings were balanced out but the fact that I know he is now a fine young man with a great future and a great partner to share the road with.

I have no doubt that they will do well and I look forward with expectation to what is ahead.

‘Ahead’ is a good place to look, looking ‘behind’ is fun and nostalgic but you can’t achieve anything if you dwell there.

Remember, ‘growth’ is the right option to choose no matter how old we become.

In the great ‘love’ passage in 1 Corinthians, that was read at the wedding, it says at the end

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became adult, I put away childish things… Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” 1 Cor13:11–12

Maybe it is time we all ‘grew up’ and get to know Him who already knows us so well.

Everything Changes…

In the next few days an event is going to take place that will change the dynamic of our family from that moment on. As incredible as it seems to me, my son is getting married and a new season is about to begin. I say ‘incredible’ not because I am surprised that he has found someone who is willing to have him, or because I didn’t think he would step up to make a commitment but because I don’t know if I am quite ready to be the father of married children…

I am not suggesting that I am against the wedding – far from it – I can’t wait to celebrate such a great day but it is a change that will be felt in many different ways: A new family is about to be formed; we are gaining a daughter (not losing a son); our house will be quieter (at times); a new generation steps up and we are ‘promoted’ to the next level and so on…

I have always been available to my son and will continue to do so but this step sees him launch into a different place where they will want to do things their way and that might be totally different to how we would have done it… and that’s ok.

The Bible talks about marriage like this…

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:5–6

To achieve this type of outcome takes total commitment – commitment to openness and honesty – commitment to love and devotion – commitment to change and adaptation. Without these, no marriage can survive.

If you are married then perhaps today is a good opportunity to do a quick inventory on how you are travelling and to flag things that need improvement in your own marriage.

Think of the advice you would give a young couple starting out on that journey and maybe just follow it yourself!

The best advice I can give my son is to invite the Lord’s strength to play its part in his relationship with his wife – he is determined to do this and I know that he is well on the road to success.

So married or not, that same advice is available for you…why would you refuse that, which could change everything?

The right tool for the job…

It seems to me that the Easter weekend is one of the times that people take an opportunity to do one of two things – they either go away camping or they do some work around the house…

Continuing interest in the ‘renovation genre’ of reality television is fueling the ongoing desire for almost everyone to have an exotic bedroom, luxurious bathroom or an ambitiously large walk-in-wardrobe. Because of this, many people I know are busy renovating.

The thing about renovating is that there are many different skills needed and even more tools you need to get all the jobs done.

Hammers, chisels, different types of screwdrivers, power tools, tile cutters, sanding equipment, paint brushes, pliers, ladders, gyprock cutters and paint scrapers – all individually designed and all required in order to complete the task…but the key is that you must use the right tool for the right job.

If you try to fasten a screw with a chisel…you wreck both the screw and the chisel. If you try to fix the television with a hammer…it is going to end very badly. Knowing what is needed to finish the job, knowing which tool you should use and using it skillfully will end up in a great result.

The truth is that our lives are complex and have various compartments which all require different skills and tools in order to develop and perfect: our education stimulates and expands our minds; our families and friends prepare us for emotional interactions; our various experiences enable us to find our capacity and our limitations; where we travel and who we meet expand our view of the world and helps us find our place within it.

When you think about your life as a series of rooms…is there one or more that needs work?

How are your relationships going? How is your career? What about your enthusiasm or energy levels? What about your sense of hope for the future or your feeling of purpose and value?

When you are renovating you often need to bring in an expert to help for some of the more technical aspects. I hope that you have access to all the help and all of the resources you need but make sure that you don’t forget that there is One who is always willing to work within you if you will allow it…

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

Look no hands!

My wife has spent the last two weeks recovering from bi-lateral carpal tunnel surgery.  This means (in layman’s terms) that both of her wrists have been operated upon in order to release the Carpal nerve which was causing her significant pain.  The operation is easy enough but the recovery poses a bit of a challenge.

For 2-3 weeks she was unable to work and unable to use her hands to do anything.  Large bandages upon her wrists and forearms ensured that a very fit and active individual was immediately transformed into a completely dependant patient.

 

There were lots of jobs that she could not do: She could not hold a cup of tea; she could not feed herself; she could not do the washing; she could not change the DVD in the Television; she could not straighten her bed; answer the phone; have a shower; brush her teeth or any number of other ‘normal’ daily functions.

But it was not all doom and gloom, being the positive people we are, we started to make a list of the jobs that she could do in her current situation: She could be a Philharmonic Orchestral Conductor; she could be a member of the ground crew that directs the planes to their positions on the tarmac; she could strap on a couple of bats and take up table tennis; she could be an AFL umpire; or she could work for the council as a ‘stoptomitrist’.  The more we thought about it the more jobs we came up with.

 

Losing the use of your hands even for a short time is a challenge, it requires you to relinquish control to others and you have to allow them to do things for you.  Simple things become difficult and challenging things become impossible and the only option is to allow someone to stand in the gap for you.

No-one would choose to do this unless they have to …or would they?

 

The Bible introduces God as all powerful, all knowing and present everywhere – able to do all, change all and reach every need,  But it also  shows that He releases His control willingly, rather allowing people to become His activated hands and feet.  He invites each of us to stand in the gap for Him.  We all have the opportunity to allow His work in our lives and to then become His hands for someone else.