What I learned about Grace from the Snow

So I am not naturally athletic. I started to learn to ski at 16 and it took me about 20 years to get it. Ask Josh Kelsey, who as a 12 year old ended up skiing with me one day in Massachusetts . Every single time we got off the chair lift I crashed and I took him with me. He would be so patient, coaching me – “this time you are going to make it Pam” – yeah I never did.

The problem was we were skiing on ice. And the problem I had whenever I went skiing was that I skied in icy conditions. Ice is very unforgiving. You fall on it and it hurts.

A few years later I had the joy of going to the stunning, Crested Butte in Colorado with family and friends. Every morning it snowed. Every afternoon we skied on a foot of fresh powder. Powder is very forgiving, you fall into it and it doesn’t hurt.

Here is what happened to me – I finally got skiing. I am never going to be brilliant at skiing , however by the end of the week I was skiing from the top of the mountain with my brother and sister -in-law.

I got it, because I could make a mistake, fall over, and it didn’t hurt like hell !

The powder meant I didn’t worry about falling and so I wasn’t afraid to make mistakes, and so I got better. Instead of creeping down the hill terrified of falling I was free to have fun, and learn . (My brother shouting instructions from chair lifts above, like the voice  God, me also helped !)

Recently I have made some mistakes. Sometimes I have encountered grace from people. It feels like falling into powder – I am still on the ground, but I fell into something soft that meant I have been able to get back up unscathed and carry on.

I have also encountered a lack of grace. It felt like crashing onto ice, not only was I embarrassed by my mistake, but it hurt and damaged my heart.

I have also been around people extending very little grace to others. It feels sharp and brittle.

Grace doesn’t say its OK that you keep falling down, but it creates the environment, that enables you to get back up, keep trying until you don’t fall as much.

We have all been forgiven much, so surely we need to be people who extend grace. Grace does not say ” keep messing up” . It says “we all mess up, let me help you up”.

One of my favourite Jesus moments is Jesus with the woman caught in adultery. He asked her where her accusers where after they had left and then he said to her  – “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more”.

She fell into powder that day – and it changed her life!

I want to be a person who creates powder for people – I know I am often ice – and I don’t like it. How about you ?

(If you would like to get content like this  in your email regularly and never have to look for it on social media again – just put your email address in  the subscribe section . My goal is to help you avoid some of the mistakes I have made and to encourage you on your journey, to be real and to be helpful!)

What are You Believing ?

This is my first post for 2016 and it comes from a message I preached at C3 Service Manly yesterday. I preached on something I am passionate about – what we believe.

This message came out of a season in my life last year when a thought popped into my head one day while I was walking the dog. The thought began as a seed and it quickly took root and before I knew it I had a new belief system in my mind – I had a new doctrine.

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The sad thing about this doctrine was that it caused me to doubt God and despair that I wouldn’t see his goodness in an area of my life.

Good thing for me – this season didn’t last too long. Thanks to the Still Small Voice I came to my senses and dug out that faulty doctrine. However it reminded me how important it is to watch what we are believing.

Doctrine is not for Bible College students or academics – it is crucial for all of us. Paul speaking to Timothy says “Watch your life and doctrine closely”.

The reason it is crucial to watch your doctrine is because what you believe will determine how you live.

Here’s the key beliefs that will determine how we live and love.

1.  God is the Father

If I believe God is a Good Father it will change the way I live. People with Good Fathers are confident in who they are and happy to ask their Fathers for help

2. Jesus did it ALL on the Cross.

We have got to keep central in our minds that there is nothing we can do to earn God’s grace . This will keep works mentality from sneaking  into our thinking . We cannot earn God’s love- we have it 100% every day!

3. The Holy Spirit is NOT the Force (Sorry Star Wars fans)

He is the third person of the trinity, he is our guide, comforter and friend – he is God and He is the power that raised Jesus from the dead and lives on the inside of us. Incredible!

4. The Church is NOT a Meeting on a Sunday.

It is not a religious box we tick once a week. It is a dwelling place that God lives by his Spirit – it is the family of God- at points dysfunctional but still our family.

5. EVERY Person is valuable and made in the image of God!

That no matter the gender, age, status, ability – every person deserves respect and care. No person’s life is disposable for any cause. I hate to get political on a Monday morning but gosh I wish more people in our world understood this doctrine – life is sacred because it comes from God.

I know this is all pretty basic, but if I could forget God is Good for a season – I figured maybe you could too.

Believing for a great 2016 for you all – filled with great doctrine !

(If you would like to get my blog in your email and never have to look for it on social media again – just put your email address in  the subscribe section . I can’t guarantee it will always be brilliant, I can promise it will always be real – my aim is that it would always be helpful)

 

 

 

Love is not all we need !

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Lately I have noticed that yes we need to love one another- but we will not survive in life without the ability to forgive one another.

To live lives that are effective and fruitful, we have to be able to release people who have offended or hurt us, we have to be able to forgive.

Is forgiveness always easy ? No of course not. At least three times in my life I have been on forgiveness journeys that have taken years to work themselves out.

In one case every day in my prayer time I proclaimed – “I forgive her” .  At the end of a year it wasn’t only words it was finally something that I experienced. I had actually forgiven and I am so glad I did. The person I needed to forgive is still a good friend to this day and I could have missed out on 30 years of friendship if I didn’t forgive.

Forgiveness doesn’t say what the person did was OK. It does say I will no longer hold it against them.

As my friend Emma wisely said to me said this week – to forgive is to be free – free to go anywhere without having to avoid anyone, free to do life with lots of people without being concerned about factions and divisions. Free from hanging on to a hurt or offence and letting it continue to hurt or offend.

Forgiveness knows we all have feet of clay and make mistakes and so can extend grace to other people.

Forgiveness doesn’t take on other people’s offences, and let other people’s issues keep us in chains, long after they have moved on.

Forgiveness understands I have been forgiven much and so I need to forgive.

We do need to love each other but its not all we need, we also need to forgive each other. It is hard work, it takes commitment and a big heart. It is so worth it in the end.

If none of that inspires you to forgive – maybe the scariest verse in the Bible will – I know puts the fear of God in me “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matt 6:14

Just my thoughts on forgiveness on a raining Thursday evening in Sydney.

Painting by Phil Pringle – go to PhilPringle.com 

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Turns Out Dying to Yourself is about Sleep and Coffee !

I spent last year writing a thesis on, among other things, dying to yourself.

This year I am learning to live it again in a new way.

I am on the team for a  new extension service in a suburb about 25 mins drive from my house. I chose to be part of it because I wanted a new challenge. I wanted to see if I could still connect people to God and his house – without them being fee paying students !

I also wanted to make sure I was not one of those people who taught without doing.

I love working under the Service Pastor Julie Maconachie, she is brilliant.

However I am learning about laying down my life from this new experience and by watching people around me.

It is so easy to stand on an altar call, in a moment of sacred worship and say “Lord have my life” but it is in the little little things that this is tested.

It is tested

  • When it costs $40 to park for church (which it did the first morning before I got smarter)
  • When it involves lugging equipment up two flights of stairs
  • When it means doing a job I am totally unskilled at, feeling totally out of my depth, making a million mistakes, until the right person comes along.
  • When I really just want to go home, because I am tired and cranky but I go to a team lunch because I am part of the team (and end up having a blast)

It is so easy to lay down your life for Jesus until it means you don’t have time to get a good coffee, or you have to loose another hour of sleep on a Sunday morning. When it now means you have to make an effort to see friend instead of the convenience of seeing them at your normal service. When you push through when you have a headache or a heartache because you want to see His Kingdom come.

Its funny – the grand gestures and big decisions are somehow easier. It is in the little things that our levels of commitment and submission to His agenda and not our own, is  revealed.

I am working on mine afresh !!

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Learnt 4 Things from 1 Conversation with a Leader

Some leaders have the power to shock you . I had a leader shock me a few weeks ago and I keep thinking about it

A very Senior Leader in our church called me to tell me she wouldn’t be attending an event I had invited her to. She told me she had no excuse, she just wouldn’t be coming.

Here is why this shocked me

1. She called

She took time  to call and actually speak to me. She didn’t send a text, write an email or just ignore the invitation. She called – and in so doing she took a risk. She had to deal with my reaction to her call. We actually had to have a conversation about this.

2. She was honest and told me she had no excuse

She said normally she really liked the type of event I had invited her to but this night she just wanted to go home. She did not give me the whole” I am so busy and so important that I need a night off ” line . I happened to know she had  a big week but I brought that up she did not.  She just said I really don’t have any excuse I just want to go home. I love that !

3. She chose to build our relationship with transparency.

By being transparent she allowed me to see her for who she really is. She is a leader who values relationships and makes the call. She is a leader who is honest and real. She is a leader who can take care of herself in the middle of a big life.

4. She showed again how to lead without people pleasing.

She was confident in her decision, not afraid to tell me she was not coming. It was a real, clean conversation and there wasn’t any need for her to people please by coming up with any excuse or reasons.

We laughed, I thanked her. I already loved her leadership style – now I am even more of a fan. I bet she has no idea how much I learned that night.

I want to learn from every person in my world and I learnt something wonderful from that conversation. I learnt leadership that is real, honest and clean can be shocking and it is so wonderful.

 

(P.S Thanks to this of you who filled in the questionnaire asking you what you wanted to see in my blog. I am having a week off next week – and will be going through them all to find them and start answering your questions )

5 times you should Drag the Chain

The team I work in often comes to me for the quick decisions. I have the ability to make a decision under pressure – in those situations where any decision is a good decision. (Are they always the best decisions – no of course not !).

I also see most things as just a problem to be solved and the sooner it is solved the sooner we can move on.

However in the last few  weeks I have literally forced myself NOT to make a decision, or have a response to a situation.

Here are the 5 times I think that dragging the chain, or slowing down action, is an appropriate plan of action .

1. When we are over tired.

Not just normal tired that most if us live with in the 21st Century. The “I have just been through a very busy season, have not been sleeping well, really need a holiday ” tiredness. None of us make good decisions when we are overtired.

2. When we are angry or hurt.

We should rarely make a decision out of an emotional response. I had to make a decision in the last week about something that had caused me to feel a little hurt. I forced myself to work through the hurt, to process it and then to make a decision that was rational and calm, and ultimately better for all concerned.

3. When we know you don’t have all the information.

I often have people come to my office with a story about some misdemeanour or other one of our students have committed. Experience, learned the hard way, now means I make sure I talk to the student involved and any other people involved to get as complete a picture as I can. I do this before I make any decisions or recommendations.

4. When we need to get people on board.

It is important to involve people who will be effected by a decision. They often can see things from an angle that you won’t and can help you make the right call. If you leave them out of the process they will resent the decision and have more trouble implementing it. I work with lots of contract lecturers who have diferent schedules. This  means it is difficult to meet to work through decisions. However it is always worth it to involve key stake holders.

5. When the decision has long reaching strategic implications – obviously.

These decisions need time, counsel of many, the wisdom of Solomon and lots of prayer. These are not really the sort of decisions I am addressing here.

Obviously there are may times when a quick decision is a good decision. However these are a few times when I have experienced the power of dragging the chain.

What about you ?

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Sometimes “Its All Good ” is not Good

I was talking to one of my students about a situation and he said to me “Don’t worry it’s all good”. Here was the problem – it was not good right then. I know he was trying to not be a problem and he has a heart of gold . In that moment I had to say to him “no this is not good but I can fix it for you and it will be good”

So then I started pondering – when is saying “It’s All Good” not good . Here is what I came up with

1. When “Its all good” stops you fighting for some-one.

In the case of my student, I needed to fight for something for him. It wasn’t anything major but it was significant right there and then. If I had have accepted his “Its all good” I would have been lazy in my care of his life. Leaders – don’t accept the “it’s all good” when you have the power to help some-one. We need to value our people and fight for them.

2. When “It’s all good” negates someone’s stress or challenge.

I have had some people tell me “its all good” at some times of extreme pressure . Really what I wish they would have done is given me a hug, or actually encouraged me or even offered help .” It’s all good” can minimise the very real pressure a person is under or the pain they are in.

The last thing we want to do is make people feel like their pain or stress is not important to us – we are people who mourn with those who mourn. “It’s all good ” glibly spoken can break people’s trust in our leadership.

3. When we use “Its all good” to block out people close to us

People are not stupid, if they care about you they can tell when you are not doing well.  “Its all good” can actually shut people down who want to be there for you. We all need a few people in our world that we don’t say “its all good” to.

Now before you start throwing Romans 8:28 at me, read it again , “And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purposes”.

God will work it out for good. It WILL be “all good”.

However right now it may not be – and to say ” it’s all good” doesn’t acknowledge reality.

Today it may not be all good – and we can acknowledge that – and God will not fall off his throne. We can believe for a better tomorrow in the midst of a tough today.

Can you add to my list of times when “Its all Good” is not good. Lets see how long this list can go.

(If you would like to get my blog in your email and never have to look for it on social media again – just subscribe on the side. I can’t guarantee it will always be brilliant, I can promise it will always be real – my aim is that it would always be helpful)