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?

Change of contract..

I was dealing some legal issues this week regarding an organisation that I oversee. We are transitioning from one legal entity to another and so everything has to be re-written and transferred across. One of the many tasks that were on my list was the re-issuing of contracts to the various people who are employed by us. It is only a simple change really, but it has taken quite a bit of time to work it out. The only thing that had to change was the name of the organisation that employs them but, of course, it is not that simple.

Firstly, I had to engage the lawyers (to write the draft contract), then I had to run it by the Board of Directors, then I had to prepare the contracts with the various idiosyncrasies of the individuals involved, then I had to discuss the contract with each individual, then I had to negotiate with a couple of them who wanted to make adjustments and changes, then the final contracts were agreed on, signed and actioned… simple!

Contracts are agreements between at least two parties, which spell out the understood parameters of the relationship. In changing from one contract to another I was informed that the new contract must not remove any benefits or conditions from the employee but could add benefits or improve the conditions under which they work. So I had to make certain that my employees were ‘better off’ under the new system. This is not always the case, an often people are faced with a change of working conditions or a limiting of their income or benefits – at that point they are left with a difficult choice to continue in that employment or to look elsewhere.

I don’t know what contracts you are party to in your life…perhaps work, a mortgage, a marriage or a partnership. This week gave me an opportunity to pause and think about the most important ‘change of contract’ I have ever been involved in.

From birth, I was in charge of my own life. I was free to make my own decisions, to go where I wanted and to do what I pleased but the result was not satisfaction but emptiness and longing. It was not until I exchanged contracts and allowed Jesus to be in control of my life that I found the peace and joy I was looking for.

Perhaps it is time to renegotiate?

You will be better off I guarantee!

“For you are not your own, you have been bought with a price…” 1 Cor 6:19

Spending time…

“I spend a lot of my time…”

I was having a conversation the other day with a close friend and we were catching up and comparing notes as to what had been happening in our respective worlds. Each of us has a few things on; we have multifaceted jobs, we both have families, we have a wide circle of acquaintances and we also juggle other responsibilities which, when all mixed together, require us to carefully manage what we do in order to get done those things which are really important.

As we were talking I heard myself say, “I spend a lot of time in the car” and “I spend a lot of time filtering emails” and “I spend a lot of time writing reports”. What hit me was the thought that I was ‘spending time’. Just like my personal financial budget, I have a commodity which daily I make decisions about how this precious resource will be appointed and distributed.

When I thought a bit more, I realised that I need to be really careful about how I use this resource; in the same way I have to be careful with my money. Each month, like many of you, I have bills I have to meet – mortgages, car payment, food, electricity and the list goes on. The only way I can meet those commitments is to work hard and budget carefully.

But I wonder if you have ever thought of your time in a similar way? The truth is we have a limited amount of it – there are only so many hours in a day, so many days in a year and we have an unknown number of years to walk this earth – the question is “How are we spending our time?”

In some ways it would be a luxury to have no commitments and no financial constraints. It would be easy to choose what we would do and when we would do it – but our reality is very different – we have to juggle our responsibilities and ‘fit in’ those things which are important to us. In the midst of that comes the question – “Are we spending our time doing the things which really matter?” it is always a shame when a time, an opportunity, is past and regret is your only companion. There are also things that can only happen on this side of eternity which determine what happens on the other side of it.

“But this I say, brothers and sisters, the time is short”                                    1 Corinthians 7:29

Hopefully you are ‘spending’ your time well…

The split-pin…

Everything was going fine until the wheels literally fell off…

I was moving a large, reinforced piece of plywood from the back of my garage to around the front and I was making use of my trolley which generally makes the task much easier. Everything was going well until the wheel fell off and rolled passed me, suggesting strongly that it wanted to be alone. At this point of course, a two-wheel trolley becomes more like a one-wheeled ‘protractor’ whose only purpose in life is to travel in circles. The only option was to man-handle the plywood around the garage.

Once everything was in place I returned to the issue and mystery of the trolley. It had served me very well for a number of years and it had displayed no tendency for shedding its wheels unexpectantly before…so what was the issue?

On closer inspection I found that there was nothing wrong with the axel, nothing amiss with the wheel, I found the nut on the ground a few metres behind me but the real culprit was not to be found – a small ‘split-pin’ very much like a bobby-pin had fallen out of its hole which had led to the nut unscrewing and the wheel making its dash for freedom.

This ‘split-pin’ is not very strong, its task is not very hard but without it the trolley is useless and even dangerous to operate.

It is often the case in life, that it is the little things which can really count…small actions which make a difference, small attitudes which can lead to issues, small misunderstandings that can fester into huge problems.

A ‘split-pin’ is a key factor which holds my trolley together but what are the ‘pins’ which hold your life together? When the wheels fall off – what is it that has really failed?

The truth is that life is hard at times, things go wrong, people let us down and we make mistakes. All of these are unavoidable, but hopefully in the midst of them your wheels won’t fall off. However, this is a real danger if you are putting your trust in the wrong ‘pin’.

For me the volatility of life can be like a raging sea but I am glad that the ‘pin’ that holds me together is reliable and secure and far stronger than the obstacles I must negotiate.

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…” Hebrews 6:19

Maybe it is time to check yours?

Time poor

I am having a scheduling problem today – I am trying to organise a meeting between 6 different people in 5 different states, across 3 time zones, juggling the fact that they are all volunteering for the role and are trying to fit it into their already busy schedules.

Every time we find a date and time, something seems to come up and so it is delayed yet again… I probably will have to just pick a time and those who miss out – miss out.

I remember a time when my life was not so complex, I had a diary but I didn’t really have anything to write in it. Now I have an online diary with lots of different colours depicting the lots of different things that fill up my world. I have even started to book time for things like mowing the lawns and reminders to do things that I should never forget but the busyness of life can somehow supress them and they pass us by.

Do you get the time to do those things that you most need to and want to do? I think that our digital age is enabling us on one hand but is crippling us on the other. I meet people every day who tell me that they are ‘time poor’ and are hassled about the ordinary contents of their day:

They want to catch up with their friends (not the ones on facebook, the real ones!); they want to interact with their families; they want to see the latest movie; they want to master all their hobbies; they want to have a successful career; they want to spend quality time with their kids; they want to go to the gym; they want to relax and have time for themselves…it is exhausting just thinking about what we want to do!

The more I think about it, ‘Time’ is one of our most important assets – if you doubt this, then speak to someone who has a terminal condition and ask them how they feel about ‘time’.

If your time was limited what would change? What priorities would be adjusted and what would you let just slip away?

I know where my priorities would fall, it would not be in my diary but in loving people, loving God and making the world a better place… now actually, that sounds like a plan!

“See that you walk carefully, don’t be foolish, redeem the time you have, we live in evil days…”                                      Ephesians 5:15

Have a taste…

It was vivid green and it looked just like it was confectionary but then I realised that it was a pile of dried kiwi fruit…I have tried (and love) dried mangoes, apricots, apples, pears, bananas, pineapples, sultanas, dates and figs but I had never seen, or tried dried kiwi fruit.

The voice of my mother ran through my head as she said “You don’t know if you like it until you have tried it…” So I asked for a sample and it was great, and so I bought a full bag.

As I continued to take the opportunity to look through the wares of this exotic spice market in the Middle East, I came across something else that I had never seen. I have heard a lot about it, I have even studied articles which mention it, I have used it as a part of my Christmas pageants, celebrations and stories – it was frankincense – an aromatic resin used in perfumes and oils but it can also be burned for its beautiful fragrance.

I showed interest and a moment later a flame was kindled and frankincense was burning… it was even better than I expected and it was truly fit for a king, just like the gift that was presented to Jesus by the wise men.

Knowing about something is one thing – experiencing it first hand is another.

In our digital age it is possible to have everything at our fingertips, we can be Googleperts who can find out anything about anything. But seeing information on a screen or understanding them as an academic reality is only the start of true knowledge – what we still need, is hands on experience – we need to utilise our other senses of taste, smell and touch.

Many people make judgements based on someone else’s word, they say they don’t like something because of prejudice or history or they allow fear of the unknown to cause them to retreat to safety and previously known security.

I believe that men and women are born for adventure – to reach out and to experience new and exciting possibilities. I am looking forward to other opportunities and other spices I have yet to encounter. But how about you?

Have you experienced the flavour, colour and possibility that a relationship with Christ has to offer? Or have you discounted it because it is something new or different?

Just like the kiwi fruit and frankincense – you won’t know until you have a taste…

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the one who trusts in Him!” Psa 34:8