Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’


The first week in June is Western Australia Week. We used to use this week to focus on our past, to remember the time the first European settlers arrived to found the Swan River Colony in 1829. These days, we spend less time reflecting on our past and focus more on Western Australia as a great place to live, to celebrate our achievements, to acknowledge the people who make up our state, and to recognise those who have contributed to the state in the past.

It’s kind of a big birthday party.

Have you noticed that a child will tell you for months that they’re “nearly five” but we’re not so keen to mention our age as we start to approach 50. So a five year old’s birthday is very different from a 50 year old’s birthday party.

Indigenous West Australians may celebrate WA Week differently from a person who has migrated to the state from Europe or the United Kingdom. We celebrate for different reasons and in different ways, depending on the event, our age, where we live, and our family or national traditions.

But celebration is important because it is an acknowledgement that something special has occurred.

In the Bible, King David noticed how people would celebrate the goodness of God.

This is what he had to say in Psalm 145:

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name forever and ever.Every day I will praise you and extol your name forever and ever.Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendour of your majesty— and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works— and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

The fact that God is good isn’t just something that we brush over or even ignore. David thought it was worth celebrating.

From the days when Aztecs would throw people into volcanoes in an effort to appease an angry god, people’s view of God hasn’t always been of a god who is good. Yet, we are told in the Bible of a God who loved us so much that he sent his son Jesus to die for us.

That sort of love is amazing. Such goodness is beyond our comprehension. And in fact, we don’t even deserve it. But that’s the beauty of a God who knew that we couldn’t live up to his standards ourselves, so he reached out to us, and offered us eternal life, peace with God and hope for the future.

If your view of God is of an abusive god, an angry God, someone who is disappointed in you, or someone who wants to punish you, I’d encourage you to think again about the concept of God being good.

Because in Jesus we discover that God does recognise our shortfalls, but is prepared to give up everything so that we can live at peace with him. Jesus confirms to us that he is a good God. A God who is trustworthy, is patient, and, as David said, is rich in love.

That’s worth celebrating.

screenI went to a public office one day, no names mentioned, and when I walked in the door I was confronted by a touch screen kiosk where I could indicate the reason for my visit. After making my choice, a ticket came out of the machine and I realised that I was now identified as person number A235.

I sat down in the waiting area and watched the numbers on the large screen on the wall changing from time to time to the sound of an electronic voice announcing that number B146 could move to counter five.

I wasn’t there for anything complex, but I had the distinct impression that I was no longer a real person with the capacity to manage my own affairs, to plan, to think, to dream, to hope. I was now  a cog that looked like every other cog in the great bureaucratic wheel of misfortune.

I’m sure the process was established to facilitate a smooth customer service experience, but it actually had the effect of disempowering and disengaging the people who use the service.

It made me wonder if, as we interact with people each day at work, at school or university, in the shops or on the street, do we just see the people around us as a number, or is there something more?

 As we walk alongside people, it’s important that we are aware of their strengths and not just focus on the obvious weaknesses they may exhibit. Rather than seeing their disability, their failings and their disadvantage, we recognise their strengths, their capabilities, their achievements and their contributions.

That’s not always easy to do, because we are often conditioned to see people from our own perspective and whether we intend to or not, judge people according to our own experiences, standards and ideals.  When people don’t meet them they are often diminished in our thinking.

It takes work to train ourselves to see the face of Jesus in the face of another, to recognise the image of God in a person who is different from us in the way they’re dressed, the colour of their skin, and even the way they behave.

I have to say I’m glad that when God looks at me he doesn’t just see my faults, but has the capacity to see my potential. I’m also glad that I’m not just a number to God, but that I am individually loved and valued.

I’m glad that when God looks at me he sees the face of Jesus – a face that is scarred. A face that bears the tears of love. A face that has eyes of compassion and a smile of acknowledgement.

I’m not just number A235, but because of what Jesus did for me when he gave his life at Calvary, I’ve been accepted by God and adopted into his family.

If you’re feeling as if nobody cares, that you’re not good enough, that you’re only a number and there’s no purpose in life, I invite you to look into the face of Jesus, and as he gazes into your eyes, hear him saying to you:  I love you and you are precious to me … and I’ve given everything , including my life for you.

IMG_0119I opened my window this morning and was greeted with the amazing site of a corner of the church car park covered in purple from the flowering Jacaranda tree. Jacarandas are out everywhere you look at the moment, and I think it is a beautiful site. The purple-blue flowers create colour and life and for a few weeks add a different perspective to the local environment.

By the way, did you know that Jacarandas are a native of Brazil?

As beautiful as they are Jacarandas will probably bring complaints from people at times because of the mass of flowers that cover roads, footpaths, gardens and driveways. They get in gutters and stain driveways and are a right pain in the neck.

How we view something like the Jacaranda flowers is probably the way we will view a whole lot of other things in life. You might call it the “glass have full/glass half empty” concept.  Do we look on things around us cause for thanksgiving and praise, or do we only see the problems and the disadvantages.IMG_0120

Reality says that you need to take both into account. It’s important to identify the problem rather than deny it and pretend it doesn’t exist, but then we need to find a way to address it and look for solutions. If we get stuck in our problems they leave us with more than the jacaranda blues.

I love the Psalms in the Bible where the writers often express their fears, complaints, and grudges, but go on to praise God for his goodness and love. The language of praise is incredibly effective in lifting you out of your blues into a new place.

For a few weeks in late Spring and early Summer I figure it’s worth enjoying the Jacarandas … and it’s always worthwhile lifting your spirit in praise.


  • Jacaranda (

Whatever your preference in colours, this weekend in Western Australia has been pretty well focussed on the colour purple.

For those who read this blog who don’t live in Australia I need to explain that one of our state’s football teams, the Fremantle Dockers has got into the grand final for Australian Rules Football next weekend for the first time in its 19 year history. Even buildings have turned purple.

But it’s got me thinking a bit about teams. As much as most of us like our own company at some stage, we all have a basic need to live in relationship with other people.

Whether we’re playing football, going to work, staying at home, or going to school, we find ourselves working in teams and it turns out that it’s an essential part of who we are as human beings. We need other people to help us grow and develop, and the people around us need a whole lot of things from us.

I’m not a avid football supporter, but I did watch the big game on Saturday night and one of the things that was obvious to me was that while each footballer played their own game and was able to make a personal contribution to the game, their success was in how they could pass the ball on at the appropriate time to allow another person to take the ball a little further, and yet another person to kick the goal. There was no room for putting personal achievements ahead of the bigger goal of supporting the team.

I’m not completely ignorant about football. I suspect it was a part of the curriculum for boys to play football at Western Australian schools back when I was at high school, however, I was always put into back pocket, a position that I worked out was the safest place to put someone who was likely to drop a mark, couldn’t kick particularly well and couldn’t run fast.

However, while it was a position that was out of the way, and where I could do the least amount of damage, it still felt better to have a place on the team, than to be left out altogether.

There’s always a place on God’s team and what I appreciate most is that while some people are in prominent positions, and others seem to be hidden away, each member of God’s team is important and critical to the team. If we ever find ourselves in “back pocket”, it’s not to keep us out of the way, but because that is where God needs people with our particular skills, personality and strengths. Having the right person in the right place is good for us, and it’s good for the team.

If you want to find out more about this concept read 1 Corinthians chapter 12.

ImageSometimes there are things we should say to our children, and things that we probably don’t need to say.

Rachel Macy Stafford says it beautifully in this blog in which we talks about how she learned to say six simple words to her children, and the powerful impact these words had.

I could think of many occasions when I encouraged, guided, complimented, and provided suggestions for improvement. Did that make me a nightmare sports parent? No, but maybe sometimes I said more than was needed.

Read Rachel’s blog here and be surprised.

Image“Monday now the weekend” is the headline in The West Online today. The advent of Sunday trading in Western Australia and the possible extension of Sunday trading hours in the not-too-distant future means that for many Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days of the weekend and the relaxation time is Monday and Tuesday.

The article says: “Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that the number of Australians working on weekends has been on the rise, with almost one-third of working people doing some form of weekend work.

Of course, this is not really a new situation. In my research into early Baptists in Western Australia I recall the efforts of great Baptist preachers like William Kennedy and FJ Miles in the Goldfields over a hundred years ago carrying out a very public campaign against Sunday sport.

The Biblical commandment to remember the Sabbath Day has a very practical basis. I have no doubt that many of the health problems, and particularly mental health problems, that we experience today are compounded because we have not been taking the time that we need to rest, and in that time of rest, to reflect on our Creator and his goodness.

But let’s put that to one side for a moment, and consider how the church, which traditionally carries out the majority of its public activities on a weekend, should think about the changes that are occurring in our society. How do we address the issues of corporate worship in a society where traditional time patterns are now impacted by a fly-in fly-out lifestyle?

I don’t think those societal changes necessarily  require us to stop meeting on Sunday and instead to call the faithful to worship on Monday, but perhaps there is a time and a place for considering some alternative and additional opportunities for people to seek solace from the rush and bustle of life in order to meditate on their Creator.

We’ve been studying Hebrews on Sunday morning and next week we are coming to a verse that says: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.”

If the world in which we lives makes the meeting together of Jesus’ followers too hard, perhaps we need to think of ways that we can make it possible. Any ideas of how we can encourage each other in this?


ImageI was fitted with a new pair of glasses last week. They’re multifocals so I don’t have to keep taking my glasses on and and off all the time. When I am eating a meal I can look at the food through the bottom part of the glasses and the food is in focus, and when I look up through the top part of the glasses, the person sitting opposite me at the table is also in focus.

Such a simple change, yet the results are so profound.

Significant events can come out of small incidents. I think Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody said something like that in 1991 when they wrote the protest song, From Little Things Big Things Grow.

This week try saying hello to someone in the shopping centre that you may have otherwise walked by without acknowledging. Give someone a phone call to see how they are going. Drop a card to someone who needs encouragement. Talk to your neighbours.

Who knows where those little things will lead.