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'.