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Fridays with Phil

Life, family and unshakeable faith

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December 2014

Enough is enough

If you’re anything like me, you probably came to the point over the course of Christmas day where you had had “enough.”   Even if you were offered one more slice of meat, one more chocolate, or one more drink, you couldn’t do it.

When you have had “enough”, it can be a very satisfied feeling, there’s a fullness to it.

I encourage you, even just for a day, contemplate the fact that you are enough.

Enough change has taken place this year, enough growth and stretching, enough personal bests, enough reaching above and beyond where you have ever been before, and enough striving.

Be satisfied in you.

New Year’s resolutions can wait, what you may be or could become in the future will have their time.

Take a moment or two to rest in all you’ve done and all you’ve become, and who you are right now because you are “enough”! You are lovable, loving, kind and generous, trustworthy, and unique in your own skin.

Psalm 4:6-8 says, “Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say. “More, more.”  I have God’s more-than-enough, more joy in one ordinary day than they get in all their shopping sprees.  At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep, for you, God, have put my life back together.”

Even beyond today, consider the fact that God can use whatever state you are in right now to outwork His purposes.

You may think you need to be more for God to use you but God specialises in the “enough”.

Look at the boy in the Bible with the two fish and five loaves. Everybody else thought it wasn’t enough to feed thousands of people, but it was.  We read in Mark 6 that Jesus took that offering, looked up to heaven and blessed it.

God takes our “enough”, blesses it, and causes the miraculous to happen.

When we come to the place of realising that we are enough, offer ourselves to God to be a blessing, He takes who we are and uses it for good.  You are His “enough” right now and it is amazing what God can do with your “enough”.

So, enough from me 🙂  Go and enjoy being you, just the way you are!

Phil

Tell me why I shouldn’t fear

I was saddened along with so many others this week as we witnessed the horrific situation unfolding in Sydney, hostages held and two killed. Then in the same week, 132 children tragically massacred in Pakistan.

This is frightening and disturbing any time of the year, let alone at Christmas.

The rawness of life and death draws you towards issues of substance, humanity, faith and meaning like little else.

I wonder what your reflections over the past week produced in you? We all felt something.  Was it fear, hope, compassion, hate?

Could it be possible that we produce in our life the fruit of what or who we worship?

If the object of our worship is materialism, selfishness, or an angry, vengeful god, then we don’t need to look much further to find that fruit outworked.

However, if we truly know God, we find ourselves familiar with a loving, peaceful and kind divinity and in the same way, that will bear fruit in our lives.

If the fruit of your faith produces fear in you or others, then I would suggest it is not a faith that promotes the heart of God towards humanity.

Christmas reveals to us a facet of who God is! When we refer to Christ as “Emmanuel”, it means “God with us.”

Jesus came to us as depicted in the Christmas story to reveal to humanity who God is.

The Good News in a nutshell is this, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for ALL the people.” (Luke 2:10).

There’s no question the message that God sends to us through His Son Jesus is one of peace on earth and goodwill towards ALL humanity.

Jesus talked about love, but more importantly reveals the power of that love in our lives. He exhibited that love by forgiving His own enemies even as He was hung on a cross.  It was personal.

The promise of Jesus and message of Christmas is both universal and personal.

In knowing Him and in turn, being like Him, our personal responsibility is to love and be peacemakers.

Peace between man and God is the primary reason for Jesus coming to earth: not fear, not hate, not selfishness.

The Bible says that perfect love casts out fear. So the answer to fear and the presence of peace is the love that comes from God.

When social media shared the phrase “I’ll ride with you” this week, I believe it reflected the heart of the God I know.

No cultural or religious divide can separate a man or woman from God’s love, and in knowing God, nor will it separate another from mine.

This has to be the message that resounds loud and clear to a world that is at times held in the grip of fear: “God loves you and so do I”.

I don’t think we can hear it enough. I don’t think we can demonstrate it enough.

What is your response to God’s love this Christmas?

Phil

Let me also take this opportunity in wishing all my readers across 106 countries a very happy, joyful and safe Christmas.

If you have suffered loss this past season, in your tears and grief may you find the ever-present comfort of God. My prayers are with you.

And if you’re looking for a Church to celebrate Christmas, I can recommend mine – visit www.hillsong.com/christmas for service times.

 

Hang in there

The picture shows my grandson Lucas holding onto my finger the day after his birth.

Throughout life, something that we all need to learn to do is hang on.  In some respects, it is a natural, rather than learned instinct.  The part that is learned is to recognise what we are holding on to.

We need to be sure that the things we are hanging onto are the things that will help us to make it through.  It is about recognising that there may be times in life we need to let go of something to be able to hang on to something else more beneficial and make it through when times are tough.

In recent times, I’ve had to let go of some things, even some dreams, to hold onto health.  I have had to let go of ego to instil significance, let go of some opportunities, for family.  We all have choices to make – as teenagers, as young adults and throughout our lives – to hold onto what is right.

Psalm 107:27   says, “They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, And are at their wits’ end.”

We can be at our wits end for an array of reasons.  My mum used to say she was “at my wits end with you kids.”  Or it could be more serious – when the seemingly sure things become unsure, when tragedy, financial strife or sickness strike.

In response, often people become frantic, searching for something to put their trust in, for something to hold on to: careers, relationships, substances – a state of restlessness.  Others become discouraged, buying into the lie that there is no hope for them to the point where they are willing to let go of everything.

But let me encourage you, at your wits end, don’t let go, hold on with all your might to what is right.  

In a world filled with brokenness, when we are brought to our knees, we can be found holding onto the One who holds us in return.  In standing, we can stand.

Charles Spurgeon said, “If hunger brings us to our knees, it is more useful to us than feasting; if thirst drives us to the fountain, it is better than the deepest draughts of worldly joy….”

I have found at our “wits end” is a great place to cry out to God.
When you do, He doesn’t only hear you, He responds.
In the middle of our stress, He brings peace.
In our sadness, He brings comfort.
In our emptiness, He fills us with purpose.
In our disappointment, He helps us dream again.

When we turn to God, His arms of love and grace are open to embrace us, regardless of what we have done, will do or can do for Him.

If you find yourself at your wits end today, I pray you begin to trust in God.  Hold on to Him and He will hold onto you, unfailingly.

Phil

Phillip Hughes and my mate Lloyd

Australia lost one of its national cricket stars last week.

For those of you who don’t know much about cricket, it is enough to say that it is one of Australia’s most loved national sports. During a recent game, Phillip Hughes was hit with a cricket ball and never recovered.  He was just days off his 26th birthday.

In the same week, I had a friend die from the effects of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) or ALS to those in the States. As I also have this disease, I met Lloyd and his wife Adele at our local MND support group.  I had the privilege of sharing my faith with him and praying with him to begin a relationship with God just weeks before His death.

I have written blogs about death before, but today I want to focus on those left behind. The ones who sit in funerals, sort through clothing, write eulogies.  I want to encourage you that in life’s most desperate moments that you can acquire a newfound value in life.

Our Prime Minister said this week, “Phillip Hughes’ passing is a reminder that life is both precious and fragile.”

I wonder, if that is true, do we live like it is? When we hear the words “precious and fragile”, many of us reflect on the fact that life in general is precious or fragile or that someone else’s life is fragile and precious.

It’s easy to hear these words without personalising them.

Let me do that for you: You are precious and you are fragile, you are one of a kind, valuable, not worthless.

By fragile, I’m not talking about the resilience of the human spirit, in fact, I am constantly blown away by people’s resilience. I am talking about our earthly body, amazing in complexity and also not infallible.

By precious, I’m not talking about lovely or superficial, I’m talking about rare, one of a kind, and uniquely destined for great things.

I have been to many auctions in my life and I like watching auction shows on TV. It is true that the most fragile and precious articles more often hold the most value.  Even if I wouldn’t buy it, someone else is willing to pay large sums– it’s all in the perspective of the buyer.

If our value is found in what others would give for us then consider this: Jesus gave His life for us. The Bible says, even when we were seemingly worthless, He put worth on us by paying the highest price a friend could pay: His own life. [Romans 5:8]

Have you noticed how people treat things that are precious and fragile? It is with respect, with a sense of awe, wonder and love.

The Bible also teaches us that we are wonderfully made and precious to God, and that we are His treasured possession.

If we would understand our intrinsic value today, it would change the way we treat ourselves and the way we treat others. We would love our neighbour like we were made to.

My challenge to you today is to see yourself as one-of-a-kind, and handle yourself with care. Then, see the people you are doing life with as equally valued, they are precious and fragile too.

Phil

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