Missed Out Again

At this time each year, most of Australia celebrates the Queen’s Birthday with a day off work. It’s also the time that the Queen’s Birthday honours list is announced. This year almost 900 Australians have been recognised for their contributions to the community in a variety of fields. As well as the many famous names on the list, there are many who have just been working behind the scenes to make their community and the world a better and more interesting place.

Another thing that happens each year at this time is that people feign surprise that they’re not on the list. Many joke about missing out again or searching the names on the list only to find they haven’t been included.

The truth is, most of us will never receive recognition from the Queen.

While we may be making a difference in our own way, most of us won’t be receiving any kind of letter or medal from Her Majesty with her congratulations and thanks.

So where do we get our recognition?

I have to admit that while I think it would be a great honour, I’m not particularly concerned that I’m not on the list. The things I do for the benefit of others are not done to receive recognition, but if that recognition comes, I’m happy for it to come from people less royal. A simple thanks from those who receive kindness is often enough, even though the kindness is not done for any return whatsoever.

I always appreciate it when those close to me – family, friends, colleagues – recognise any efforts I may make. I don’t need to see my name in lights but an occasional word or two that lets me know I’m on the right track is always appreciated.

So who is it for you?

Where do you want to find recognition? Who do you want noticing the efforts you make at work, in the community or even at home? Is there a significant person in your life whose words bring affirmation?

Sometimes the affirmation and encouragement we yearn for never arrives. Maybe it’s not the Queen’s list on which you’d like to see your name appear but someone closer to home. Is there someone from whom you’d love to hear the words, “well done”?

Life can be difficult when we yearn for the kind of approval that never comes. Often it can be a parent or another significant person in our lives who has never taken the time to put their hand on a shoulder to speak words of kindness and recognition.

Thankfully, we don’t have to receive recognition to continue doing good. There is a kind of recognition that far outweighs any earthly honours list. That recognition doesn’t just come with a medal and a title but with an imperishable inheritance.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24

While having people see our work and encourage us is often welcome and helpful, if we choose to follow Jesus and get involved in his kingdom work, there’s something far greater at stake. If you aren’t receiving recognition from the Queen or from those closer to you, don’t give up. Your labours are not in vain.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Galations 6:9

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Going the Distance

It seemed like a strange thing to do for a young man who had never really been interested in any kind of sport. Riding over four and a half thousand kilometres across Australia was surely the domain of fanatical cyclists yet there I was, an overweight guy in my mid-twenties getting ready to pedal from Perth to Canberra with around a dozen other cyclists.

That was thirty years ago.

Thankfully I made the distance and loved it so much I did the same fund-raising ride the following year. Two years after that I cycled from Perth to Adelaide. Some years later I also undertook rides from Perth to Sydney and then from Perth to Hobart.

So far I’ve cycled across the Nullarbor five times.

I’ve tackled the ride in my twenties, thirties and forties but I haven’t attempted it in my fifties. That all changes next year when, at the age of 55, I’ll be back on my bike for another crossing of our wide, brown land. The thought of taking to the roads again both terrifies and thrills me.

So, what’s getting me back on my bike after all these years? For the last three and a half years I’ve been working for Compassion, a Christian international holistic child development organisation.

I’ve visited Compassion’s work in 7 of the 25 developing countries we serve and I’ve met many children living in extreme poverty who are being released from poverty in Jesus’ name. I recall the faces of children like little Ammanuel in Ethiopia as his mother stood in the small room with its dirt floor that is their home.

She told me through her tears that neither of them would still be alive today if it weren’t for Compassion. That compels me to do whatever I can to bring hope to more children.

The Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast will see around 25 cyclists and their support crew travel over 4300 kilometres from Perth, Western Australia to Newcastle, New South Wales. There’ll be 28 days of riding an average of just over 150 kilometres with the biggest days reaching almost 200 kilometres.

There’s no denying that my ageing body won’t find the journey as easy as it did thirty years ago but I’m looking forward to cycling into Newcastle in October next year.

I’m still looking for some team members, both cyclists and support crew, who might like to join me on what will be an amazing adventure. So, if you’re looking to stretch yourself and to make a difference for the most vulnerable people in our world, children living in poverty, get in touch either through my Contact Page, leave a comment on this post, or head to the Ride for Compassion page. Registrations are now open.

Compassion’s programs are delivered in partnership with local churches. These local congregations can best identify the specific needs of children in their community, supporting them through every stage of life, bringing lasting change to their families and communities. While Compassion is a distinctly Christian organisation, they assist children and their families living in poverty regardless of their beliefs, gender or background.

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A New Season

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. – Ecclisiastes 3:1

There’s a lot of activity at my house this morning. The day has arrived.

In a few hours I’ll be walking my beautiful daughter down the aisle. It’s all part of a new season, a process that began almost twenty one years ago. The process of letting go.

One of the hardest realisations for a parent is the knowledge that from the moment a child is born you are in a slow, constant, bit by bit, process of helping your child transition from being dependent on you for everything to independence. While Pauline and I will always be Emily’s parents, and will always be there for her and Josh, another part of the letting go process happens today.

We are absolutely thrilled for Emily and Josh. From the earliest days of seeing them together we knew they shared something special. Today they declare their love for each other and their commitment to each other for life.

Today is such an exciting and happy day. We will continue to pray that this will just be the start of a marriage that will continue to grow and that being together will allow Emily and Josh become all they were created to be, both individually and together.

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What’s Killing Your Soul?

While having coffee with a friend at a local cafe recently I overheard two women at the next table talking about work. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop so I only caught bits and pieces of the conversation but one particular sentence stuck with me.

I don’t hate my job …. but it is killing my soul.

Wow. How could you not hate something that is killing your soul?

A survey conducted last year by Survey Sampling International on behalf of SEEK Learning showed that while less than half of Australian workers are happy with their jobs, only a small percentage are actively looking to change their situation. Part of that is due to a lack of options relating to skill levels or opportunities in some areas of work but it’s still startling to think that so many people are willing to ‘settle’ for spending their working week doing something they either don’t like or worse, feel is doing them harm.

The most startling thing about hearing the woman in the cafe talking about her job is that she realises that it is ‘killing her soul’ but she still doesn’t hate it. How do we get so complacent in anything that we no longer hate the things that feel like they’re robbing us of life?

Our soul is the very deepest part of who we are. It goes beyond the body that we can see. It has been described as ‘the eternal component of man that is fashioned in the very image of God, and that can exist apart from the physical body.’

When Jesus was preparing his disciples, one of the things he told them was … do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? – Matthew 16:26

Have you settled in some areas of your life even though you know it’s destroying you from the inside out? Of course, I’m not just talking about being in a dead end job. There are behaviours, attitudes and thought patterns that can creep into our lives which left unchallenged will leave our hearts hardened to the damage that is happening to our souls. Has it just become easier to put up with everything that has crowded into your life rather than fighting back and taking care of what matters most?

What are the things in your life that are killing your soul?

If there’s something that’s damaging or killing your soul, it’s time to start hating that thing. It’s time to make changes.

What have you been willing to tolerate even though it is leading you down a road you don’t want to travel?

You cannot change what you are willing to tolerate.
– Craig Groeschel

The good news is that God is willing and ready to help us overcome whatever it is that is killing our souls. It’s not about turning over a new leaf or trying harder but about turning over each area of our lives to the one who created our souls and wants the very best for us.

Don’t let a job, a habit, the expectations of others or anything else kill your soul. Identify what’s killing your soul and with Jesus’ help turn your back on it. Then let Jesus bring new life to your soul.

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Useless Faith

It all stands or falls on this. There’s no middle ground. Jesus’ life isn’t simply an object lesson on living well.

The faith of many millions over centuries hinges on the resurrection that Christians celebrate on Easter Sunday (and throughout the year). If that one moment in history didn’t happen then our faith is a complete farce.

In a letter that he wrote to the church at Corinth a couple of thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul claims that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then the whole Christian faith is useless and all the world’s Christians are poor suckers who should be pitied.

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. – 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

Paul’s saying that the idea of Jesus being a good teacher who said some interesting things isn’t an option. He’s telling us that the whole Christian belief rests on the crucifixion and resurrection being historical fact.

For many, that’s too much of a stretch to believe. How can it be true that someone could be brutally killed yet return to life three days later?

But imagine for a moment that it is true. That would mean that death doesn’t have to be the end because it has been beaten at its own game.

We’ve all been inspired by the lives of others, even knowing that they have died or will at some stage die. Once they’re gone the story of their life, their trials and triumphs continue to influence and motivate us. Surely the story of someone who even triumphed over death itself should give rise to even greater admiration and inspiration … but of course only if the story of them defeating death is true.

When we look at the evidence, the truth of the resurrection emerges very clearly as the best explanation. There is no other theory that even come close to accounting for the evidence. Therefore, there is solid historical grounds for the truth that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. – Matt Perman

In his article, Historical Evidence for the Resurrection, Matt Perman takes a brief look at some of the reasons that many people over the past two thousand years have believed that Jesus rising from the dead isn’t just a nice story, it’s fact.

I don’t have time for a useless faith.

I’m not prepared to believe fairy tales and so while many will scoff and think I must be crazy, I will say that I believe that death has lost its sting because God raised his son Jesus from the dead.

That’s what I’ll be celebrating today and for all eternity.

I pray that you’ll take time to consider the significance of the Easter story this Resurrection Sunday.

The good news is that God, out of His love, became man in Jesus Christ in order to pay the penalty for sinners. On the cross, Jesus died in the place of those who would come to believe in Him. He took upon Himself the very death that we deserve. The apostle Paul says “He was delivered up because of our sins.” But the apostle Paul goes on to say “He was raised to life because of our justification.” Paul is saying that Christ’s resurrection proves that His mission to conquer sin was successful. His resurrection proves that He is a Savior who is not only willing, but also able, to deliver us from the wrath of God that is coming on the day of judgment. The forgiveness that Jesus died and rose to provide is given to those who trust in Him for salvation and a happy future. – Matt Perman

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