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Fridays with Phil

Life, family and unshakeable faith

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hope

Sweet and sour!

Isla James my granddaughter is sweet.

Back in 1973 I was 14 years old living with my mum and sister after mum and dad had separated. To make ends meet financially the three of us would clean the offices of Bruce Lyon Real Estate in Epping NSW.

As a treat every Friday night we would buy sweet and sour chicken and rice from the chinese restaurant. I loved the burst of the sweet pineapple mixed with the vinegar. I have since learned that life is also sweet and sour and we need to learn how to navigate that.

What is the sweet and sour of life. It’s the knowing that we all will live with opportunity, loss, challenges, joys, sadness, triumphs and trials. May I suggest the pineapple was made sweeter in the presence of vinegar.

Thats right every life has its ups and downs, its joys and sadness, its triumphs and sufferings.

I believe we grow more from our moments of pain and suffering experienced in our personal reality than our joys and triumphs.

When you do suffer and experience pain you must discover the path to meaning in the midst of it. Someone once said, “pain redeemed impresses me much more than pain removed”.

I have found that God either removes pain or redeems it (I think He leans more towards redemption). He takes what was meant for temporary evil and turns it around for eternal good.

We can spend a lot of time focused on removing pain when redeeming pain is the way forward and upward.

To find meaning and purpose in pain and suffering is the road to redemption. Meaning gives us the strength to deal with pain and suffering. I would go as far to say, that to have victory in life, meaning is as important as hope.

Hope certainly gives us anticipation for a good tomorrow but meaning and purpose bring joy in the now, in that tomorrow that hope brings us into.

Hope carries us into tomorrows present while meaning and purpose makes sure we find joy in it.

Hope can lift our gaze to a brighter future but meaning focuses our gaze on todays wonder and people.

Hope is a vehicle that carries me into my future while meaning and purpose are the fuel that keeps hope moving forward.

I would go as far to say that happiness is a result of discovering meaning in suffering and pain. Once you allow meaning and hope to pervade every arena of your imperfect existence then happiness and joy will follow. A happiness not dependant on your life being perfect or free from challenge.

For me meaning focuses on three things: pursuing God, personal growth and people ministry. As long as your day has these three focuses then joy can be yours no matter what the challenge. These three mixed with purpose, passion and being present makes for a wonder-filled life.

Pursuing God as a Christian, having a relationship with God through my faith in Jesus means I have a real sense of knowing God and getting to know God as a constant in my life. I am both satisfied and insatiable in my walk with God.

1 John 5:20

And we [have seen and] know [by personal experience] that the Son of God has [actually] come [to this world], and has given us understanding and insight so that we may [progressively and personally] know Him (God the Father) who is true; and we are in Him who is true—in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. AMP.

When it comes to personal growth I’m not talking about our physical growth or strength. I have found over the past ten years as my physical body becomes weaker because of the effects of Motor Neurone Disease (ALS) that my spirit man and my soul can grow stronger. This growth in our lives can only come by proper spiritual food, exercise and rest. For me that means feeding on the words of Jesus, meditating on His love, life and light and resting in the peace that comes despite the waves that would crash against our world.

Pursuing God and personal growth has to have an external outflow. What we receive, we must give. We have been blessed to be a blessing. If we have been comforted by God it is for the purpose of comforting others.

People ministry is however not just about spiritual and heavenly endeavours, it also includes practical and earthly pursuits.

I suggest all of our lives, whatever our trade or daily responsibilities, can have a personal meaning and purpose attached to them which will foster significance, self worth, and joy.

As a society we tend to think that people ministry is exclusive to doctors, nurses, fire fighters, police, pastors and the like. It’s true these are significant people ministry jobs.

However, can I suggest that your job is also as significant and an opportunity for people ministry.

Imagine our lives without those who removed our rubbish weekly from our homes.

If your one of those drivers, that early in the morning remove the rubbish from my home, thank you. Your work means so much to me and my family. You help to create a home that is welcoming, fresh and pleasant to live in.

Imagine life without builders who build those homes for us to enjoy family and friends.

Imagine life without a hairdresser, electrician, plumber, motor mechanic, accountant, dentist, retail workers, truck drivers, miners, estate agents, physiotherapist.

Imagine our lives without people who mow our lawns, build our places of recreation, hotel cleaners and public transport workers.

Without a barrister and barista. Without being able to legally drink a coffee.

Without parents who are at home raising children and turning houses into safe and loving homes.

Having made the move from city to country I have come to appreciate the many people who make a steak on your plate possible.

None of us would be able to live the life we live without these and many other people ministering to us in their day to day jobs. Thank God for everyone of you!

Now go out and see that you are not just working for a dollar but you are ministering to a community that is grateful.

What about those of us that have become differently able? Those of us that can no longer do what we used to be able to do.

I believe the key is not wishing that you could still do what you used to do, but look for other ways to express your life values.

For me, with the weakness of my body I need to look for opportunities to share my life lessons with those in my circle of influence.

To be available to those who suffer the pain of been given a terminal illness diagnosis. To be a messenger of hope, faith and love.

As a father and grandfather to cheer on and champion my family who are and will be my greatest legacy and the ones who will have me in their hearts more then any other. To being present for as long as possible to love on my clan.

We all need to look at what we do during the day and attach a greater meaning and purpose to it if we are to find real joy, significance and self worth in our life. If we are to get out of bed with purpose.

May I conclude however in saying that the greatest of joys, the overwhelming sense of being significant and having worth is not in what we can do or who we are, but in the wonder and reality that God loves us and His love is completely unconditional.

Love and peace.

Phil

What I shared at “Belong Women’s Event”. Strength in times of weakness.

MOVING FORWARD WITH LOSS AND GRIEF.

If we love then we will not make it through life without experiencing grief.

Strategies for dealing with grief.

       

In my last vlog I said:

Life’s beauty is inseparable from it fragility.

The greatest beauty is found in love.  

With love also comes great grief.

If we love then we will not make it through life without experiencing grief.

Living with arms and hearts that embrace life and love will also bring lose.

This loss can be in the form of the death of a loved one, 

Being made redundant from your work place, 

A diagnosis that threatens your life, 

A business transaction that has been lost,

Lose of business that you have given your life to.

A pandemic that separates, isolates and devastates your security and well being.

BUT WHAT if I could show you a way to processing grief and loss that will lead to a greater depth of joy, a new perspective ON life and new purpose FOR life. 

Some real keys to living with and through grief.

First: When we deal with our grief don’t look at it like its a spiralling downward as much as its a way we move forward through pain and challenge.  It’s what Philippians calls the “forgetting what is behind and straining forward”.  

Sometimes going forward means straining and grief is THAT.

JESUS lived for 33 years on this earth and he lived in a way that not one moment or experience he had was wasted or of no value to him or those who would know him.  

In the Garden of Gethsemane we see him grieving again, weeping over his coming death and wanting the comfort of his friends with him. 

In Matthew,: “My soul is sorrowful, even unto death; remain here and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38 ESV).

And, of course, lamenting to God is praying like Jesus did. Jesus prayed a psalm of lament on the cross, crying out “Father, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, Psalm 22:1 ESV).

Jesus grief was seen over the death of His friend Lazarus.

He loved and in His love for Jerusalem, for humanity, for you and I he experienced real grief.

His grief was not wasted neither is our grief.

You may not see any meaning that can be immediately attached to the grief you are going through but the way you go through your grief could in itself attach meaning to it.

This is a world full of brokenness, and grief reveals the truth about that brokenness. 

I think this is a topic again so needed right now more then ever.

It’s a subject that again is 

not negative but positive, 

not destructive but building, 

not disempowering but empowering, 

not weak but strong,

not fearful but courageous.

If we lean into grief the way we should we will bring meaning and purpose to what may seem such meaningless circumstances.

Yes I believe when we see no obvious reason for loss and grief we have the grace and ability to bring meaning to it.

Can I first begin by saying sadness and grief though similar are not the same.

If we think of sadness its not depression and its not grief.

Sadness unlike depression and grief is shorter more temporary emotion we have in lose or disappointment.

When we see that 958 people died in England we are sad but for the loved ones of those who died they will experience deep grief.

Our sadness may only last for a few days or until the next commercial or news report of another tragedy or triumph.

Their grief will stay with them  in some form or another for the rest of their lives.

When I was diagnosed with MND a terminal illness for those who loved me deeply it was a time of grief for others it was sad to hear about Phil.

And thats ok because none of us who love deeply will go through life without grief.

May I also say that grief can have many levels and layers too it.

If your mother was to die at the age of 98 from natural courses your grief will be real but for you to loss a child at a young age to cancer or some other illness or tragedy. May I suggest that grief would be a whole other level and depth so profound that it would impact your life story for ever.

Grief goes deeper, its life changing, its an experience that brings a changed life. 

There is a before and an after this happened when it comes to a life impacted by grief. 

Before this loss and after this loss!

For me it was I was healthy before i was not, with this MND.

I will continue to live, love and enjoy life but life will be different and so will I.

Even if I was healed today my life will never be the same as it was before the diagnosis.

Grief has the ability to make us more loving, patient, compassionate, accepting and gentle.

This will only happen if we face up to grief, truth up to it.

To do this with any sense of truth we have to know that with grief, 

its ok not to be ok, 

until you are ok, 

and you will be OK.

When I lost my sense of self worth and significance after being diagnosed with MND and as a result having to leave a job I not only deeply loved but that I had been called to.  

I loved being who I was and doing what I did so when I lost that ministry as i knew it then my grief was real and tangible.

Grief is not sinful.

It’s  a good and godly response to love and passion lost.

Sometimes we repress grief and try to move through it quickly, or even deny that it is there. 

We might fear that it is a sin to feel this way. 

If we believe it is sin, it follows that we should move away from this negative feeling quickly. 

We fear our grief may cause us to question the presence and work of God in our lives.

What I learned during this time is that it was not the end of me or my life but a continuance of it in ways i never imagined.

I would get up but I would be different.

It was going to be a straining, a stretching,  a reaching but not a breaking.

What i suggest you do in your time of grief is be honest with your feelings and emotions.

Either write them down like no one will read them, so there is no filter by what you should say or be expected to say.

Lament to God as though he is the only one who hears and he knows anyway so your not going to shock Him.

Confide in a wise friend, pastor, counsellor, therapist who you can trust with the truth about how your feeling.

Lamenting to God is a good and holy way to grieve.

Listen to a Lament in Psalm 102:1-2

“GOD, listen! Listen to my prayer, listen to the pain in my cries. Don’t turn your back on me just when I need you so desperately. Pay attention! This is a cry for help! And hurry—this can’t wait!”

 When you write or talk about your grief your showing up to it.

Life is lived when you move forward with your story not by separating yourself from it.  

We become integrated and whole able to move forward in healthy ways.

This week and indeed the months ahead will bring with it sadness for some and grief for others.  

If we are global christians we will not just see the blessing of living in Australia at this time but also feel the pain of what many others in our world are going through especially in 3rd world countries where the news seems to have no concern.

The way we move forward with these real emotions will determine the depth of love, joy and wonder that life is.  

Without grief we would never really fathom the profoundness of love.  

Grief is only possible because we have loved and love is ultimately measured by the depth of our grief.

Grief journeyed rightly, honestly and truthfully will bring new purpose, new direction, new perspective to life.

This new life wont come by ignoring the grief but facing it truthfully and fully until we are change for the better because of it.

So:

 Write it down

Lament and pray to God.

Talk to a friend

Confide in a councillor. 

Remember grief is a stretching, a straining but its a forward movement not a backward one. 

You will be transformed by the experience as you face your grief with grace and truth.

You will find new perspective, new purpose, new love for life and living.

Thanks for listening.  

If your on YouTube why not subscribe to my channel or

 go to my blog at fridayswithphil.com

God bless you all.

A decision not taken lightly

I have made my decision and it wasn’t one taken lightly.

It is with much thought, prayer, research, investigation and hope that I have decided to take a trip to Europe to have some tests and start a trial treatment that isn’t available here in Australia.

It’s not a cure, but it could slow down the progress of Motor Neurone Disease (MND, also knows as ALS) in my body. While I’m doing reasonably well, and have already outlived my initial prognosis, this is the time to act.  It’s a “sooner rather than later” approach.

With ALS / MND, it’s not like you wake up one morning and suddenly you can’t do something.  Instead, little by little, you lose your strength, some people faster than others.  I’m the only one who really notices that decline day-by-day.

In the past 76 years, since the famous baseball player Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with this disease, there has only been one drug approved for ALS / MND patients: Rilutek.  Rilutek was approved in the 1990s and is said to add 2 – 3 months of life to your prognosis.  In some parts of the world this drug costs up to $4000.00 per month.  In Australia, I pay only $37.50.

While I understand that there is more awareness, finances and scientists than any other time in history dedicated to finding a cure for this disease, I also understand that any new drug could take many more years to be released to the general community.  In that sense, the money we are raising now is for the next generation of sufferers.

Some people have inferred that I should just relax and wait for God to heal me.  My thinking is that when your daughter breaks her leg or your tooth needs filling, do you just pray or do you do what you can and leave the rest to God?

I’ve seen God miraculously heal people of cancer through divine intervention and I’ve seen God heal people through medical intervention.  I’ve also seen people experience their healing through entering into eternity.

I have always seen God move in my life when I do my part and leave what I can’t do to Him. 

Faith, trust, rest and hope are not couch potatoes, they are active and courageous as they approach the battle.

So for those who are praying, thank you, your prayers are effective and mean the world to me.  Be encouraged, I am also doing what I can do to partner with your prayers.

My treatment in Europe will cost in the many thousands of dollars per year, but it has also been known to add 3 – 4 years to a patient’s life.  Next week I go to Europe, hoping for the best, mainly because I want what you would want in my shoes:

I want more time with my wife.
I want to see my grandchildren go to school.
I want to be around long enough so they have some memory of me.
I want to hug my own children for as long as I can.
I want to be around to cheer them on in their lives and adventures.
I love this life.
I want to finish the race at the finish line, not mid-field.

And so, Fridays With Phil will take a short break. If you are interested in updates while I am away and post-treatment, you can follow me on Instagram (@pcamden) or Facebook.

I covet your prayers over this time,
Phil

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?

Phil

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