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Fridays with Phil

Life, family and unshakeable faith

Month

November 2014

You can’t handle the truth!

How do you handle the truth? Have you stopped to think about how you receive it and how you communicate it?

As important and beneficial as truth is to our relationships and society, like anything good, if used in the wrong way, it can be abused.

We all have a responsibility to know when and who to deliver the truth to or whether to deliver it at all. Learn when to speak it and when to keep it.

While it’s important for us to always tell the truth (be honest); it’s not always important to share the truth (spread it).

You see, truth needs to be delivered to the right people at the right time for the right purpose.

Truth shared with the wrong people at the wrong time or for the wrong purpose is often hugely damaging, and worse still, cheap gossip.

A sure sign that someone can’t handle the truth, is if they share what is said in confidence. Sharing truth with the wrong people is indicative of ambitious drive, a need for power or an unhealthy fascination with the tantalising.

Another sign someone can’t handle the truth is if they excuse hurtful or demeaning remarks with a flippant, “well, it’s the truth!”

In a world where we can communicate so much to so many so easily, we need to be careful that even when speaking truth, we exercise wisdom, integrity and love.

You want the truth? How do you handle it?

As in all things difficult to navigate, the Bible gives us some clear guidance.

In Matthew 5:21-26, Jesus encourages us that if we have an issue with a friend, we should go and make it right with that person.  He explains that words are powerful and have consequences.

I have found a good principle of thumb is that truth should be shared with the people immediately affected and someone who can do something about it: go upwards, not sidewards.

If someone offers to tell me something in confidence, I will often say, “You can tell me but depending on what you are about to say will determine who I will share the information with.”   More often than not, I redirect their truth-telling to the appropriate person or authority.

Proverbs 3:3 says, “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart…”

We see here another principle found in the Bible is that if you need to share truth with people, make sure the motive is not power or ambition but mercy and love. In love, we need to learn to deliver truth with grace or mercy.

And finally, Ecclesiastes 3:7 says, there is “…a right time to shut up and another to speak up…”

Many times the best thing you can do with truth is keep it to yourself.  Sometimes the truth needs to stop at me because to go any further is to continue the gossip train. Some truth is just none of my business.

My encouragement to you today is to be a safe place when it comes to truth. Be someone who CAN handle the truth!

Phil

Give me life

On Sunday, I became a grandparent and I have barely stopped smiling since. Lucas James is a joy-bringer and a gift. As I hold him, I am filled with the deepest sense of awe and love.

I wonder if this is true of life, that as we nurture those around us, both the lovely and the unlovely of this world, we live with a greater sense of wellbeing. Just from my own observation, the most giving people I know are also the happiest people I know.

It’s true that to live, we need to exhale, to inhale. In the same way, we need to give, to receive. Not only is this a principle to live by, but it is a principle for life flow. It is oxygen.

In pouring out ourselves, we are not depleted, we are filled. In fact, my motive for giving is partly the purpose it creates within me, the energy and life it brings.  I have found that a peaceful “inner” world (my mind, will and emotions) is greatly impacted by how I reach out into the “outer” world around me.

Since being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), Lenore and I have become actively involved in the MND community. We endeavour to offer words of comfort and care to those suffering and their loved ones. It has forced me to face my own feelings in order to bring life to others. And I wonder if, in turn, it has given me back life.

By helping others through their suffering and giving of ourselves, we receive the ability, that is beyond ourselves, to stand in the face of trial.

When we give to others, we are saying, “I have abundance, I have resource that is not based on scarcity.” For me, that abundance is the overflow of God’s love and care for me.

When we do not reach out and care, we start to believe we are bankrupt, we are saying “I give nothing because I have nothing.” The truth is we have nothing of real value or substance because we choose not to give.

Take gravity for instance. Even though it pushes against us, it is the very force that enables us to stand upright and walk on earth.            

When in the face of the very thing that is pressing against us, we decide to reach out to others, our pain becomes the vehicle for God’s grace to reveal itself in and through us.

Today, I believe that your suffering and brokenness is an opportunity for God to reveal Himself.  In the middle of your pain, you can find joy because of how it touches the hearts and lives of others. But only if we choose to give.

My senior pastors recently told me that the recorded footage of me telling my story of MND in Australia has been replayed to thousands in London and New York and has been encouraging many people.

All I could say was “thank you”. You see, it did as much for me as it did for others to know that my pain was not in vain, was not fruitless or pointless, but has been used to somehow help others.

Einstein said it this way, “only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile”. Jesus said, “it is more blessed to give than to receive”.

Giving is oxygen. Remember to exhale.

Phil

God & Disneyland

As a father to daughters, I remember sometimes they would question my love for them based on my response to their demands.

They thought if I didn’t do what they wanted, when they wanted it, then I didn’t love them or want what they wanted.

Nothing could have been further from the truth.

One occasion was when they wanted to go to Disneyland. They didn’t know where it was or how much time, effort, and money it would take to get there. They just wanted to go, now!

I knew that to take them was a big deal for us and would mean saving up, and making sure they were old enough (and tall enough) to experience and remember the rides.

When we did end up going to Disneyland, it wasn’t exactly when they wanted to go but my perspective as a dad who loved them and wanted the best for them guided me. And we had an incredible time!

As kids, they had little choice but to trust me to help give them what they dreamed of. As adults, the reality is it can be harder to trust our heavenly Father to give us the desires of our heart, whatever they may be, even though God’s nature is love and He is supremely trustworthy.

Over the years, I have heard people defend their disbelief in God or in His loving nature by saying that “if there was a God, then why wouldn’t he stop wars and make this world a better place?” (“Make Disneyland come true now!”).

We can assume that just because God hasn’t done what we want yet, that He never will or doesn’t want to.

I believe that not only does God exist, but God cares and His perspective guides Him to our best future.

Let me encourage you, just because God hasn’t rid the world of famine, wars and disease, doesn’t mean He doesn’t intend to, maybe His timing is just different to ours.

My Bible tells me that God’s ultimate intention is to create an existence where what we can so easily use as an excuse not to believe (i.e. heartache here on earth) will be no longer.

2 Peter 3:9 (MSG) says, “God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.”

You see, God wants what we want: peace, no disease, no hatred, no famine and He will get what He wants – in time.

Maybe like me with my daughters and Disneyland, it’s not an angry, hateful God causing Him to wait, but a loving, gracious God who wants us to know and trust Him. He is giving you and I the opportunity to be present with Him when He does eventually remove all the hell from this world.

While we live in these times of grace, we will continue to see man destroy what God created for good, but this is not the end of the story.

In your life, I pray today you would experience His grace in your situation, trust His perspective, know His love, and believe for His best. This is not the end of your story either.

Phil

Find your energy sweet spot

Do you need more energy in your life? Are you tired, run down or lacking drive?

Maybe all the energy you need is available to you but you haven’t yet tapped into it. Maybe your best energy is being wasted on the small stuff, and maybe the key is not more energy but the discipline of when to use that energy and on what.

You see, this week I have had a solar system installed. How it works is energy is produced through the solar panels on my roof and is then available for consumption. As long as the amount being consumed is less that the amount being produced, I pay nothing for it. It’s astounding to me that this option was available before but I am only just now tapping into it.

My solar system makes me think about life. Do we try and live in the deficit, on empty tanks, and inefficiently when it comes to energy, or do we live out of the overflow of what is available to us?

Jesus puts it like this in Matthew 11:30, “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

The reality is if you can work out when your optimal energy levels are for each activity in your life, then use that energy at the right time, on the right activity, you will find a natural rhythm to your life.

For me, if I’m preparing a message or writing a blog, I like to do it in the morning because that’s when my most creative energy is available to me. I tend to wake up with fresh ideas and inspiration. As the day goes on, my emotional energy is strongest so it’s the best time for me to be with others.  If I tried to do these things in the reverse, I would feel drained and frustrated.

So that’s me, but what about you? Could you fit cleaning, emails and other repetitive tasks into the “in between” times, when you have 10 minutes here or there, waiting for meetings to start, or on public transport?  Doing that means you save the best times for your most significant activities in your day.

The truth is we all have energy available to us: physical, emotional, spiritual energy and all three areas impact on the other – 

  • Physical energy is available to us by the food or fuel we consume, exercise we do and the sleep we get.
  • Emotional energy is received through our relationships, our caring for others and their care for us.
  • Spiritual energy is received from our belief and faith experiences with God through the bible, prayer and relationship with Jesus. I love this verse – Colossians 1:29, “That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.”

Like my solar system, we can only use what we have received.  If we use these types of energy wisely, I wholeheartedly believe, we will better our life experience.

Why not take a moment to look at what you do and when you do it, and if needed, make a small adjustment in timing to redistribute energy and in doing so, help you live life to the full!

Phil

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