Fridays with Phil

Life, family and unshakeable faith


June 2014

The God I never knew

I wonder how many times God has intervened in my life without me realising it.

I am sure I live unaware of God’s provision, protection and help in my life.

Just as God asks us to do acts of kindness without the big fanfare of public recognition, God is always doing things on our behalf that He doesn’t let us in on. His kindness is at work constantly.

I think of the bible passage in Acts 9:1-5 which speaks about Paul on his way to arrest and execute Christians. The Bible says in verse 3, “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.”

While Paul was on his way to harm these people, he is instead arrested by Christ’s love and his life is changed.

My thoughts are towards the ones who didn’t know the danger they were in as Paul was on his way, and “near to them” to destroy them.   Because God intervened, they were saved from harm.

I also think of the Israelite people who suffered persecution from the Egyptians, described in the book of Exodus.

Even while they were suffering and praying for deliverance, God was working and preparing Moses as a child to be the answer to their prayers and they didn’t even know God was already at work.

I think of my life, still walking around with MND more than a year after doctors said I shouldn’t be able to. I think of the time in Zanzibar that my limbs cramped and my friend swam out to rescue me from drowning. I think of the time in Auckland when I came off my scooter, breaking my scapula and narrowly missing being run over by a truck– and I’m sure you have similar stories.

Maybe that’s why pride is so dangerous: it ignores the fact that God is working behind the scenes. It fails to give him credit for the less visible signs of His grace and goodness. It takes the wins on its own merit.

Even though I am proud of what I can see tangibly around me, I am convinced that I am also unaware of the extent of God’s grace that has helped me and caused me to succeed.

I may never know the number of times God has intervened and rescued me.

So once you are finished thanking God for those things in your life that you can see, remember to thank him for the things that you can’t. Be thankful for the unseen hand of God’s presence always making a way.

Never give up on trusting God to come through for you even when it seems too late. Trust His timing in all things. While there is hope, there is life. God is always working on your behalf for your good.


The time I found Madonna

Bruges, Belgium

After a wonderful time away, it is good to be back in Australia and back blogging with you.

Home at last, I was recounting one of the more unexpected adventures of the trip.

It was in Bruges, Belgium where I overheard that Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child is housed in a local Church, recently depicted in the movie Monuments of Men.

Ever since I saw first Michelangelo’s David in Florence and his Moses in Rome, I have marvelled at his God-given gift to bring stone to life.

Knowing my walking restrictions, I calculated exactly how far it would take to get there by foot and started out.

When I finally arrived at the Church, it was locked and empty. I managed to sneak through a side-alley door and saw a sculpture of Mary holding an infant Jesus, but after taking a few pictures, I realised that this was not it.

I had ended up even further away from the real Madonna and Child than where I had started. It’s tough when you have worked so hard and moved so far only to find that you’ve arrived at the wrong destination.

In that situation, in life generally, there’s only one thing to do: keep going.

Rather than camping at your mistake, misdirection or wrong destination, I would encourage you to get up, gather your strength and make a change.

Learn from your mistake but don’t let it dampen your resolve to get to your passion.

Your passion could be raising great kids, becoming a generous giver, health, a strong marriage, business success, running a marathon, or an intimate relationship with God.

You will only ever get there if you are heading in the right direction.

There is a difference between moving and moving in the right direction. The difference is velocity.

Speed is all about how fast we move whereas velocity is all about the rate at which we change our position. Velocity is speed with direction.

Many people can be in a frenzy and have great speed but end up back where they started. Others know the direction they want to take but fail to act and procrastinate along the way.

If you’re a leader, building team takes you to a great destination and changes your future potential. If you’re a spender, budgeting and saving money causes you to become generous. If you’re a parent, nurturing, loving and passing on morals causes you to raise kids you will be proud of.

Three questions for you:

  1. Is there a lot of activity going on in your world?
  2. If so, is that activity moving you, changing your position?
  3. If so, are you moving in the right direction?

The key is making sure you’re heading in the right direction. Speed is important, but so is direction.

After adjusting my direction, and even though I was now moving at a much slower pace, I did eventually find the Madonna and Child that day and it was truly beautiful. The journey was certainly well worth it.

Imagine where you could be, or what you could see, if you became aware of the direction you were heading in?


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