Fridays with Phil

Life, family and unshakeable faith


March 2014

Here’s to a new beginning!

Life is a journey of necessary endings that are often also the beginning of something fresh and new.

New beginnings and necessary endings go hand in hand: how you start and how you finish have as much to do with your future as the other. In fact, gracefully letting go of the past (old) will enable our head, hands, and heart to confidently take hold of the future (new).

You may say, “but endings hurt”!  Maybe so, but it’s about focusing on the changes that need to be made, not what is going to be the perceived or real loss. It’s recognising that a new beginning is not only an ending, but an opportunity for you to live and thrive. It boils down to this: to experience new beginnings in your life, you need to remove some things (as good as they are) to create space.

Did you know that some beautiful plants actually produce more buds than they can sustain and if some buds are not removed then the space the bud needs to open and blossom is not provided? It’s a vivid image. Without pruning, we don’t reach our potential.

Parents know this when their children get married; it’s a letting go that has some pain but also an acceptance of the new that brings joy and hope.

I remember when living in New Zealand, my eldest daughter moved back to Australia and I was heartbroken. However, it was there she met her husband and a new beginning that has brought our whole family joy

Some of the things that we need to let go of are good but they are taking up space that other opportunity may now need. Let go of old hope and grasp a hold of new hope. In fact, every time we say “no” to something, we are saying “yes” to something else (and visa versa).

As you read this blog, I will be on my way to the Democratic Republic of Congo for possibly the last time, after having travelled there each year for the past 7 years.

On this trip I will hand over and release some very dear friends into the leadership of what’s called, “Business, Integrity and Governance” (B.I.G) – an organisation to help raise up and encourage business, education and government sectors.

One thing I had to consider and battle with when I finished my leadership of B.I.G was not believing that “in finishing, I had somehow failed”.

Sometimes the finish as you know it is just the next step in its ultimate success and growth.

Life is full of goodbyes and hellos, of yes’s and no’s, of closing and opening, of quitting and starting. Think about your world. What needs pruning so the bud of your life’s potential can open wide to all its beauty?


Recommended reading: “Necessary endings” by Dr Henry Cloud.

Very early this morning...flying out to the Congo today.
Very early this morning…flying out to the Congo today.

Help, I need somebody!

Lifou, New Caledonia.  March, 2014.
Lifou, New Caledonia. March, 2014.

Help, I need somebody, Help, not just anybody.”  They are great lyrics from the well-known Beatles song, Help.   They became a reality for me last week.

The picture above was taken after conquering a hike through thick rainforest to swim in a freshwater cave.  I was glad I had taken my walking stick, but even happier that my two son-in-laws and nephew were there to help me on this adventure.

I realised I would not have been able to traverse down or up the steep inclines without their help.  Without them I would have missed so much and never would have experienced swimming in an underground cave, taking a leap of faith and jumping into the black swimming hole.

With my legs and arms weakening from the effects of Motor Neurone Disease (read more via the “About MND/ALS” tab at,  I have come to rely more and more upon the help of others.  This experience has highlighted that all of us need the help and togetherness of others to achieve things we could never achieve on our own.

As a leader of a Church, pre-MND days, I had no hesitation in asking for help and working together with others to achieve goals and vision that were for the benefit of others.  However, asking for help for myself was, and is, a different matter.  I have always found it easier to give than to receive.  How about you?

I have realised that not being able to receive help is not only a bad character trait but is also indicative of a very limiting and dangerous attitude: pride.  Living a life trying to cope all on your own, “She’ll be right mate”, or “I’m OK”, suggests that I don’t need your help or anyone’s help.  I have come to realise, I do and we all do.

None of us can achieve anything big, courageous or challenging without the help of others.  Confident and courageous people need help and need the togetherness of others to experience life to the max.

One thing I noticed, when those three strong young men took a slower trip down and a very slow trip back up from the cave, is that even though I was a physical burden to them, they found pleasure in helping me achieve what I could never have achieved on my own.  In other words, not only do people want to help you, but they are also encouraged by the process of helping.

All the way up the track, I had to pull myself up by holding onto a strap secured to a Shannon’s back while Kaiden pushed me up from behind (literally pushing on my behind).  This left Josh carrying two heavy bags up the incline.  All the while I had a cheer squad in Glenda, Rachel, Chloe, Belinda, Rebecca and Jessica encouraging me on.

I could have said, “Don’t bother with me, I will just wait here at the top until you return.”  However, I would never have the memory and all those who helped would never have had the joy of helping someone do something they could never have done on their own.

The Bible says, in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “By yourself you’re unprotected.  With a friend you can face the worst.  Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.”  Maybe today you could lend a helping hand, or maybe you could ask for one.

We all need somebody.


What would a complaint-free day look like?

Easy not to complain when here with my beautiful wife and family last week.
Easy not to complain when here with my beautiful wife and family last week.

What would a complaint-free day look like?

A monk joined a monastery and took a vow of silence.
After 10 years his superior called him and asked him, “do you have anything to say?”
The monk replied “food bad.”
After another 10 years the monk again had the opportunity to voice his thoughts.
He said, “bed hard.”
Another 10 years passed by and again he was called in before his superior.
When asked if he had anything to say, he said, “I quit.”
“It doesn’t surprise me a bit, you’ve done nothing but complain ever since you arrived.”

Would you be able to get through this day without complaining, either to yourself or to others?  What would a complaint free-day look like?

Complaining is an energy killer and it can be the catalyst for an unhappy day.  So, a complaint free-day would, at a minimum, be a happier day and a more energetic day.

Often the most difficult part of learning how to handle complaining is recognising it in yourself.  If someone recorded you for a week, what would it reveal about your speech?  How much time do you spend griping, grumbling, complaining, arguing, and saying “life stinks”?

Complaining is a habit.  Habits are only broken by replacement with something else. Take out the negative complaining and replace it with positive speaking.  Steve Penny, a good mate, says “happy people don’t have the best of everything, they make the best of everything”.  Happy people replace whinging altogether.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstancesfor this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”   You cannot always be thankfulfor the circumstances, but you can be thankful in them.  God has a good pattern and He fits even the bad things in our lives into that pattern for good.

There are some things in your marriage that you don’t like, things in your business, habits in yourself, your spouse, your children, or your boss. But I believe there are also some things in those situations and people that you could learn to be thankful for. Consider writing down one thing to be thankful for in your boss, spouse, children, teacher.

There are challenges we all face, but the way you look at your challenges determines your attitude.   Look for God’s fingerprint in your circumstances.  Because God is working all things out for good in your life, the good that you’re going to get out of whatever you’re going through will be much more long lasting than the problem.

For those of you who are going through real challenges today, I’m not saying ignore them.  What I’m saying is that in the midst of great challenge, living complaint-free can give you the necessary energy you need to make itthrough and strengthen your ability to fight.

Could today be your day to give complaint-free a go?


Defeating discouragement

What is it that causes you to worry?
‘Worry’ comes from an anglo-saxon word, “to strangle” or “to choke.”   As the origin of the word suggests, worry can get a strangle hold on us, and literally cut off the air supply that allows us to breathe emotionally.
Worry keeps us from living our lives to the full.  Fatigue is a major cause of discouragement.  Frustration and fear are others.  Where there is fatigue, frustration, and fear, discouragement is not far behind.
Dr. Walter Cavert conducted a study of the things we worry about.  The study showed we spend:
– 92% of our emotional energy over things that won’t happen or things we can’t change;
– 40% of the things we worry about never happen;
 ​- 30% of our worries concern the past;
​​- 12% of our worries are needless worries about our health; and
– ​​10% of our worries are insignificant (things that will not make much of a difference in our lives).
That alone is enough reason not to waste emotional energy on worrying.
Also, consider the effect your worry has on others.  People can become discouraged because you are discouraged.  You can become discouraged because other people are discouraged.
Its contagious!
What can we do about discouragement?
In order to overcome discouragement, we must remember God.   Isaiah 51:12-13 says, “He that is afraid of a man that shall die forgets the Lord his Maker.”
Remember first that God is there! 
We can be very discouraged when we think we are all alone in the situation, so know God is with you.  He is there whether you realise it or not, but it helps to realise it.
Matthew 6:34 says, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Notice this verse doesn’t say, you will never go through hard times, it says don’t worry in advance about what may or may not happen because God’s help will arrive.
Another way to deal with discouragement, knowing its contagious, is to spend time with people who encourage not discourage. 
The best people to hang around are those who leave you feeling a little more courageous, because they put courage in.
And finally, relinquish control. Worry can be an egotistical habit. Worry is the idea that if we were in control of everything, all would be well.
Philipians. 4:6  says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
Having trust in the God is the polar opposite of worry.  Practice focusing on your ability to trust God. I know it’s easier said than done…that’s why I used the word “practice.”
Practice living free from discouragement today!

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