Saturday, March 7, 2015

Word Puzzle

Here's a quick word puzzle that's worth thinking about.

R E F U _ E

Have a think about the word you make when you put 'G' for God in the missing letter space.
Now have a think about the word you make when you put an 'S' for satan in the missing letter space.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Parable of the Classic Car

This post is part of Februarys Synchroblog. The subject for this month is 'Renewal'. Other participants will be listed at the end of this post.

I have a friend who owns a very very rare and expensive classic car. It's value is not relevant because it's not for sale and never will be. Too much love, attention, time and money has been invested in this machine for it to ever part company with him.
Unfortunately, a number of years ago this car was stolen from what he thought was a safe and secure garage on his property. The thief who stole it must have had some idea of its value or maybe he just thought that because it was so secure it must be worth something. Whatever his motive, he didn't treat the car well. (My friend later found out that the thief was a former employee of his whom he had had to fire.)
When the car was finally found it was pretty much wrecked. There wasn't a panel that wasn't dented and/or badly scratched. All the lights were broken. The front end was smashed in causing major damage to the radiator which in turn had cooked the engine. To cut a long story short, when my friend got his car back it was pretty much worthless and unrecognizable.
Fortunately, my friend knew a car restorer who had a passion for classic cars. When the restorer saw the state of my friends' pride and joy he wept. He'd seen photos of it before it was stolen and understood my friends' anguish at what had been lost.
Nobody dared keep tabs on how many hours and how much money was spent fixing the car and, to be honest, no one really cared. Everyone concerned just wanted the car back to it's original condition.

Today that precious car is back in my friends' garage. There's still work that needs doing but the restorer has done an amazing job so far. Most of the time she runs beautifully and the paint job is amazing. My friend can see his reflection in it like a mirror.

I made the mistake the other day of asking my friend how fast the car goes? Oops! Wrong question. He told me quite bluntly that it doesn't matter how fast she goes. It wasn't made for the wide open highway. My friend put it in these words.

"This car was built for those beautiful narrow country roads where taking your time isn't considered a waste of time. She was made for those places where the journey is just as important as the destination, where the scenery and natures scents energize the senses.
Not like these modern cars where all the comfort is designed to be self contained. Air conditioning, sound systems, Sat-Nav, auto everything. If you travel the right roads you don't need all that. Modern cars kind of reflect society, always in a hurry and very self centred. People today need to stop and smell the roses. My car helps me do that. It refreshes me, slows me down and helps me to refocus."

We finished our conversation with him telling me that I should get a classic car myself. "With a caring owner and a good restorer you'll be amazed at what you end up with. It'll make you feel new."

Other participants in this months synchroblog are...

Abbie Waters – It is Well with My Soul
Done With Religion – Renewal
Phil Lancanster – The Parable of the Classic Car
Susan Schiller – Renewal by Design
Glenn Hager – Repurposed
Clara Ogwuazor-Mbamalu – Renewal of the Spirit
K. W. Leslie – Those who wait on the Lord
Jenom Makama – …Like An Antivirus
Leah – Renewal!

Monday, January 20, 2014

New Beginnings

This post is part of Januarys Synchroblog. This months subject is new beginnings. Other participants will be listed at the end of this post.

On the surface I don't appear to be a new beginnings type of person.
By that I mean:-

  • I've lived in the same house for 18 years.
  • I've owned the same people-mover van for over 10 years.
  • I've been in my current job for 5 years and that's only because I got made redundant from my previous job of 17 years.
  • I've been married to Nicola for 27 years.
  • I've lived in or near my home city for most of my life.
  • I've owned the same Thompson Chain reference Bible for over 20 years.
From the above facts you might conclude that poor old Phil has lived a pretty boring life. Not true. I once changed from Nikon to Canon camera gear (but then I saw the light and changed back to Nikon).

But seriously, new beginnings are often small and insignificant in the big scheme of things. We tend to look at new beginnings as the big things that happen in life like births, deaths, marriages, job changes, moving to a different city, becoming a Christian, changing church etc etc. but the significant new beginnings are often hidden within those bigger things.
For example, I may have had the same job for many years but hidden in there is the fact that other staff members come and go, so there are constant new beginnings in forming new relationships and saying goodbye to old ones.

Similarly, if we look at Jesus life on Earth we tend to look at the big miracles and the people who got healed and therefore got their new beginning.
But what about the thousands of other people who saw those miracles happen. They were just onlookers but more importantly they were onlookers who got a new beginning. It may not have been a 'born again' new beginning for all of them but it would have been a new beginning in the sense that something new had happened that demanded attention and questioned the status quo. It started them on a journey that didn't exist before.

In my own life the biggest 'new beginning that has happened in the last couple of years is that I don't 'go to church' any more. I'm sure there's plenty of people at church who think I've back-sliden but then thats the other thing about new beginnings. It can cause misunderstandings, arguments and broken relationships.

New beginnings inherently mean that something has to die.
The ultimate example of this is obviously Jesus death and resurrection.

His death meant our new beginning.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24

Following is the list of Synchroblog participants this month. Reading each post gives lots of different perspectives.

Jen Bradbury - Enough
Abbie Watters - New Beginnings
Cara Strickland - Bursting
Done With Religion – A New Year, A New Beginning
Kelly Stanley - A Blank Canvas
Dave Criddle - Get Some New Thinking
David Derbyshire - Changed Priorities Ahead
K W Leslie - Atonement
Michelle Moseley - Ends and Beginnings
Matthew Bryant - A New Creation
Edwin Pastor Fedex Aldrich - Foreclosed: The beginning of a new dream
Jennifer Clark Tinker - Starting a New Year Presently
Loveday Anyim - New Year New Resolutions
Amy Hetland - New Beginnings
Phil Lancaster – New Beginnings
Mallory Pickering – Something Old, Something New
Margaret Boelman – The Other Side of Grief

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Raising Teenagers

It's a parents job to love their teenager and, apparently, it's a teenagers job to test that love.

That's it. That's the rules.
There are no others when it comes to raising teenagers.

The following are some random observations to help define these rules.

  1. You don't know when a test is coming. You just somehow have to be prepared 24/7. And I mean 24/7. Example. Teenage daughter 'A' who was staying with friends down the road turns up at 1AM with an injured cat (badly cut leg) wanting me to fix it. I'm not a vet and the sight of blood doesn't thrill me. By the time I was properly awake, and realized that this wasn't a bad dream, the dining room table had blood all over it and for some unexplainable reason the cat wasn't thrilled about being held captive in our home. Now, the simple way to pass this test would have been to pay an after hours vet $150 plus to get them to help me pass the test. Unfortunately I didn't have the money to guarantee a pass so I had to wing it. By this stage I had three teenagers helping me so I took on a supervisory role offering pearls of wisdom such as "Don't let the cat get away!". To cut a long story short we managed to bandage the cats leg and teenagers 'A', 'B' and 'C' arranged to contact a friend of a friend of a friend, who's a vet, the next morning. As far as I know the cat is still alive.
  2. The tests can be academic or practical. The academic ones test your mental strength and the practical ones usually cost you money.
  3. You seldom get told the results of each test. However, there are some hints. If there is a period of peace following a test then chances are you probably passed. If you are given another test straight away it could mean that you failed the last one and this is either a new one or a re-sit.
  4. No matter how hard a test is, it's never the teenagers fault.
  5. Even if you do pass every test you still have to do the 7 years training. LOL. 7 years training - I could have been a vet!
But seriously, when it comes to raising teenagers I am yet again reminded of Billy Grahams quote,

It's Gods job to judge, the Holy Spirits job to convict and our job to love.

Please feel free to add your own observations in the comments.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


It's been a long time between blogs but I'm back. Thanks Kim for your encouragement.

I've been thinking a lot about grace again. It's a while since I read Philip Yancey's 'What so amazing about Grace' but lately grace has been on my mind.

Partly, I think it's because Christmas is a time when 'false grace' is very prominent. You'll probably know what I mean. Family members who never have anything to do with each other because of unresolved differences manage to exchange smiles and act civilly toward each other over Christmas. Once Christmas is over it's back to the status quo until next Christmas.

Real grace is permanent.

Christmas is a celebration of real grace.
While we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) I know that's more of an Easter verse but it started at Christmas.

A lot of people, including me, struggle to understand true grace. The definition I like best is simply 'Undeserved Favour'. 

It's about showing favour toward someone who has done nothing to deserve it.

It's about freely forgiving others when they've wronged you.

It's about apologizing for the times you've hurt others (even when you didn't start it!)

It's about building bridges.

It's the glue of healthy relationships.

Grace is the smoothie you get by mixing all the fruit of the Spirit together in the blender of life.

This happens over time, through perseverance and under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

The word 'graceful' is a very misused word today.
The first thing that comes to my mind is a dancer gliding across a stage. Their movements flow from one movement to the next in time with the music.
Maybe if we were more graceful (Full of Grace) in our lives our journey would flow along smoother than it normally does. Maybe we wouldn't let disagreements and opposition be stumbling blocks that make us look anything but graceful.

Maybe there's a good reason why the Bible so often says 'Grace be with you'.