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THE TREE LOPPER

 

Mrs Marshall, a little Welsh lady migrated to Australia with her husband and seventeen year old son.   The couple wanted a better life for their son and thought a new start in Australia might be the answer.

One of Mrs Marshall’s problems was a tree in the wrong place in her backyard.  She applied to the Housing Trust of South Australia from whom she was renting her home to have it cut down.  They consented and Bruce, the local tree-lopper as well as the pastor of a local church, was employed to remove the tree.

The Marshall family were having a hard time making friends in their new country, nothing was working out and they were wishing bitterly they had never come.  Everything that could go wrong went wrong, and when Bruce kindly remarked, ‘you seem to be having a hard time,’ it was the cue for Mrs Marshall to list her mishaps and disillusionment with Australia.

Six months previously, she underwent a hip replacement.  She hardly settled back home with her new hip when she fell and broke her leg. Back to hospital for several weeks.  The pressure of all their mishaps caused Mr. Marshall to suffer a heart attack and be placed in Intensive Care.

Teen-aged son was alone, unsupervised, no-one to care for him and unable to care for himself.  He fell into bad company and was running amok.  Mrs and Mrs Marshall were both in hospital and helpless to care for their son, fretted and worried.

Returning home the second time, you’ve guessed it, she fell and damaged her knee. Mrs Marshall was getting about with the aid of crutches and feared she would never walk again.

Bruce alerted the ladies of his fellowship to Mrs Marshall’s plight and they responded with food, house-help and friendship.

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With the drop of a tree, God stepped in. God didn’t exactly answer Mrs Marshall’s prayers the way she expected. She was angry at God for his apparent desertion and not answering her prayers. Besides, in Mrs Marshall’s world, pastors didn’t have secular work, they were equal with God. Her concept of Christianity was challenged.

It may seem a funny way to love us, but God’s love for us caused his son, his beloved son to die and indwell us, making us acceptable to God.  Of course, we have to believe and accept this truth if we want to access this wonderful place.

God’s actions and those of Jesus cannot be retracted just because we have hard feelings toward him.  God’s love for us never falters. As Mrs Marshall reconnected with God his love drenched her again, and after being prayed for she put away her crutches for good.

Bruce adhered to the thought of worker/priest because it kept him in touch with people.  Bruce believed that to serve only as a pastor was to live in isolation. He felt it was an unnatural life.  He also believed it was not the practise of the early church or of the Lord himself, and he sought to break the image.

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BREAK THE IMAGE

Jesus was the greatest image breaker of all.  As the Son of the Father, he was present at the creation of the universe, he was a prince, he, and the Father were one.  Yet Jesus consented to come to earth as a lowly carpenter, live in poverty, and walk around demonstrating the love of his Father for the people. Jesus spoke in synagogues, homes, on hillsides, he ate with the rank and file. Jesus didn’t fit the image then and he doesn’t now.  Most people want to keep the images and concepts of the law and self-effort rather than replace them with the truth as presented by Jesus.

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RESTORED

Jesus, the heavenly image breaker, captivated Bruce the tree lopper and the two became as one.  Mrs Marshall and her family were among many that were restored to the Father.

 

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IMAGE BREAKER

 

security-agent-icon-29259        Shot gun at the ready, Bruce stood on the footpath outside of the bank waiting for the payroll for 6,000 people to be brought out and locked in the armoured van and delivered to the steel company.

The faces of the shoppers reflected their reaction at seeing Bruce standing armed on the footpath. Fear, curiosity, recognition and one or two even entertained the thought of robbery. No challenge was mounted only later he was asked, ‘Should a Christian carry a gun?’

Bruce was pastoring a church and working as a security agent. He believed in the worker/priest ethos.

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Cups and sauceers all in a row.  Atractive but stereotypes.

BREAKING THE STEREOTYPE

Bruce glanced down the street, coming towards him was a colleague, his gown billowing in the breeze behind him.

Without thinking Bruce greeted him, ‘Good day, Leo,’

Startled, many emotions crossed Leo’s face as he recognised Bruce.  During that morning the two men attended an ecumenical meeting for ordained ministers at which Bruce was the Chairperson.  For Leo to meet Bruce performing a secular job as a shot gun rider was despoiling the image held of pastors and priests as men of God.  As a man of the cloth, Bruce should not have been riding shot gun, he should maybe, have been praying, reading the Bible, or performing some holy task. Leo could only gather up his skirts and scurry down the street as though avoiding contamination.

Bruce smashed the traditional images of holiness and sanctity. It meant the bastion called tradition was being challenged and found wanting, which for many people is terrifying. How easy it is to create concepts of holiness and images of who God is that is false, steeped in traditions, based of all kinds of untruths. When these concepts are challenged, declared false, then we are left rudderless, without purpose.  In our inner being we have no anchor.

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Fantasy images. We need to find the real person, Jesus, not the fantasy image

THE ALL TIME IMAGE BREAKER

Jesus Christ was an image breaker. Just read his life’s history in what is known as the four Gospels of the New Testament.  Jesus went home to tea with a shonky tax man called Zacchaeus.  He accepted a drink from a woman who had had five husbands and even then was living in sin.  His best friends were a group of fishermen.

Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, or as the book of Hebrews quotes, ‘The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.’ For all his big talk, Jesus kept dubious company. If we want a true picture of God we need to look at Jesus.  To see Jesus is to see God. For further images of truth there is the Bible.

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To cultivate an intimate relationship with Jesus  satisfies inwardly and we never yearn for more

Jesus claimed that he is the Bread of Life, the Living Water, the Way and the Truth.  Those of us who have put these claims to the test have found Jesus is not a liar, a scam, a Pretender.  Those of us who have trusted our all to Jesus have found Jesus is the Bread of Life and we hunger no more. Our inner being is stabilised, we search no longer for that elusive anchor of peace and joy. We have found it.

BREAKING FROM TRADITIONS

 

Jesus had to break our preconceptions of God, his holiness and his love to be able to reach the rank and file of humanity.  Let’s refresh our memory with these words, ‘For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.’ (John 3: 16 LB)

 

 

 

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THE ESCAPEE

Guest Writer:  Lorraine Zinnack

A kangaroo got out of his enclosure at the zoo during the night.  The zoo-keeper put him back and built the fence surrounding the enclosure higher, but this did not stop the kangaroo – it was out wandering again next morning.  The keeper extended the fence higher, but again found the ‘roo was out again the following morning.  Yet again he added an extension to the top of the fence, after putting the animal back in its yard.   The next night as the roo again wandered as freely around the zoo as on the previous nights, the camel asked him, “how high do you think they will keep building the fence?”   The roo thought for a moment then laughingly replied, “I guess they’ll just keep going higher until they realise, they need to lock the gate at night!”

ANOTHER STORY

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African wild dogs.  Well fenced in.  Monarto Zoo, South Australia

This little tale set me thinking of how often we try so hard to change our lives in some way; to stop doing something we know is bad for us, or to make positive changes that would make us healthier or happier – and fail miserably repeatedly.  Our will power, it seems, is not strong enough.  No matter how hard we try, we so often fail to achieve in some important areas of our lives.   Perhaps this is like looking at the fence and thinking we must try harder, and harder, and as the zookeeper in the story must have felt, feeling frustrated at not being able to achieve the desired result.  And all along we are struggling unsuccessfully when we don’t have to.  We just need to look around and see the real and far simpler answer.    Scripture reminds us that in Jesus we have all we need.  He says:  “Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

We ‘lock the gate” by prayerfully putting our lives and every situation in Jesus hands.  Then, as He changes our thinking and our hearts, we will begin to see the changes in our lives, without the struggle, without the fight.  We can rest in peace.

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WATCH YOUR STEP

 

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It is Christ who backlights us and sylhouettrs us against a dark work as children of light. 

Don’t keep looking up at Heaven and hoping you are going to make it, experience it here on earth now.

The number of people having accidents with ladders is scary.  Did you know that 30,000 people fall off ladders every year?  Were you aware that 6,000 die from falling off ladders each year?  First principle in using a ladder is to make sure it is stable.  Impatience and carelessness causes us to stand a ladder on uneven ground or platform or even prop it on against an unstable gutter.  There is a superstition about walking under ladders because it brings bad luck. I am not a superstitious person but I don’t walk under a ladder because it is dangerous, the ladder might fall on me. My husband takes a great delight walking under a ladder and proving the superstition wrong.  He has successfully survived Lady Luck and escaped falling ladders.

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Some further ideas for the safety conscious.

  • Don’t be silly enough to stand the ladder on top of another object making it unstable.
  • When using an A frame ladder make sure the brace is locked in place.
  • Never leave ladders unattended, – kids just love to climb them.

So much for these few tips.

Now for a few tips on how to buy real estate in Heaven; when we think of Heaven we think of sitting on fluffy clouds, playing a harp, walking on streets of gold, and living the good life.

But that is just one of those myths invented eagerly by someone wanting to dodge the real issue.

It really is very simple to obtain real estate in Heaven; and it isn’t by climbing the ladder, or being good for Father Christmas even trying to bribe God with our works of charity.

  • All that has to happen is to believe that God is; that he has sent Jesus to mediate between us and God. ‘For if you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from dead, you will be saved.’ (Romans 10: 9 LB)
  • Accepting the death of Christ on the cross as a work of reconciliation, which is, restoring our union with God that was broken by our rejection of Christ. ‘It was through what his Son did that God cleared a path for everything to come to him – all things in heaven and on earth – for Christ’s death on the cross has made peace with God for all by his blood.’(Colossians 1: 20 – 23 LB)

Recognising Christ as God’s son and accepting him will obtain real estate in Heaven. Of course, there is a little more that can be done like allowing Christ to access our life to live his life through us. ‘But if you give yourself to the Lord, you and Christ are joined together as one person.’(1 Corinthians 6: 17 LB)

night cross

Allowing God to direct us and use us and give purpose to our lives.  It’s not just about owning a bit of real estate in Heaven it’s also about living a useful, purposeful and happy life here. It’s about living heaven here on earth. ‘…remembering that it is the Lord Christ who is going to pay you, giving you your full portion of all he owns.  He is the one you are really working for.’(Colossians 3: 24)

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WORDS

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Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matt 4: 4.  It is true, God’s words are powerful. The universe and all of life in it came into being at his word.

SCRABBLE & BABBLE   If you play scrabble, then a good knowledge of words will stand you in good stead.  Some of the highest scoring words used in competition have been bezique, muzjiks, caziques and quixotry.  But what do they mean?  Unless you can understand or have a use for unusual words there isn’t a lot of benefit in knowing them, except of course, for use in Scrabble. Great writers can use words to create pictures that transport us to another time and place.  Think of Charles Dickens, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien … don’t their stories seem so real?  And when you see their books adapted for the screen, are the characters and places as you have imagined them?  Good authors craft their words to create a picture in our minds of the places they describe, so you can see, hear, smell and almost touch what they write about, and feel the emotions of the characters?  And what about newspaper journalists, … can they persuade you to their point of view, just using the written word?
One or two words in themselves can create pictures.   A current favourite of mine is argie bargie, and what does it conjure up in my mind – a mob of little Jack Russell Terriers chasing a lure, all wanting to be in front, all jockeying for position and all giving the other dogs ‘the eye’!  Originally the words were argle bargle, which meant to argue.  Nowadays argie bargie suggests a bit of push and shove.
     
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A song. A Psalm of David. ‘My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sin g amd make music with all of my soul. Awake harp and lyre!…for great is your love.’ Psam 108: 1 – 4.
    Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – remember when that word hit the airwaves in the film Mary Poppins!  And can you say it backwards?  And how about this word— pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis It is a real word and refers to a lung disease contracted from the inhalation of very fine silica particles specifically from a volcano, and is also the longest word in any English dictionaries. Words describe diseases, but can also cause dis-ease – ever had a bout of motor-mouth or foot-in-mouth syndrome!   I blush now as I think of the times I wish I had ‘zipped-the-lip’! IN GEAR James Chapter 3: likens the tongue to an unbridled horse.  An unbridled horse can be controlled by the rider, but it requires a fully submissive horse, fully listening and fully obedient.  Does that describe your tongue, fully in control?   It doesn’t describe mine, especially when I am tired or in a situation I don’t want to be in.  My tongue certainly needs my full attention whenever it is in gear. I’m glad that God’s Word has words like love, grace, forgiveness; words we can all understand and don’t need to look up in a dictionary or google on the web to find out what the heck they mean.  (What does google mean?) I like the fact that their meaning doesn’t change as with some of the words in current use today.  I suspect that Gay/Gaynor is no longer used as a girl’s name.  I’m glad and relieved, that justified still means that my standing with God is ‘just-as-if’ I had never sinned.
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‘But the word of the Lord stands forever.’
1 Peter 1: 25 
I also like God’s definition of forgive, to ‘cease to demand punishment’, and that when He says He has forgotten the sins of those who come to Him for forgiveness, means He is ‘unable to remember’ what they are talking about.   This seems to be the only time we can say we remember more than God.  Perhaps we should come in line with God’s definition when it comes to remembering our sins? What power and hope is found in God’s Word … the Word itself is Life, Jesus is the Living Word of God and as we read He reveals himself to us.  When we know Him, then we know we can believe the promises His Word gives each of us.
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‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.’Psalm 119: 10. When we are at a loss to know which way, God through his word will say, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’
Just how lucky we are to have God’s Word available to us, to read whenever and wherever we choose.  There is nowhere else to find the answer to life’s purpose. Judy Pitt, Jamestown, South Australia.
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THE PAINTING

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.
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WAR When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war.  He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier.  The father was notified and he grieved deeply for his only son. About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door.  A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.  He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life.  He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly.  He often talked about you, and your love for art.”  The young man held out his package.  “I know this isn’t much.  I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.”  The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man.  The father stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting.  The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears.  He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture.  “Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me … it’s a gift.” The father hung the portrait over his mantle.  Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.
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LET THE BIDDING BEGIN The man died some time later.  There was to be a great auction of his paintings.  Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat the painting of the son.  The auctioneer pounded his gavel.  “We will start the bidding with this picture of the son.  Who will bid for this picture?”  There was silence.  Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, “We want to see the famous paintings.  Skip this one.” But the auctioneer persisted.  “Will someone bid for this painting?  Who will start the bidding?  $100, $200?” Another voice shouted angrily.  “We didn’t come to see this painting.  We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts.  Get on with the real bids!”  But the auctioneer continued.  “The son!  The son!  Who’ll take the son?” Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room.  It was the long-time, now retired, gardener of the man and his son.  “I’ll give $10 for the painting.”  Being a poor man, it was all he could afford. “We have $10, who will bid $20?”  “Give it to him for $10.  Let’s see the masters.” “$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?” The crowd was becoming angry.  They didn’t want the picture of the son.  They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.  The auctioneer pounded the gavel.  “Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!”  A man sitting on the second row shouted, “Now let’s get on with the collection!” The auctioneer laid down his gavel. “I’m sorry, the auction is over.”  “What about the paintings?”  “I am sorry.  When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will.  I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time.  Only the painting of the son would be auctioned.  Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings.  The man who took the son gets every thing!”
  p1300590 God gave His son 2,000 years ago to die on a cruel cross.  Much like the auctioneer, His message today is, “The son, the son, who’ll take the son?”  Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything. Author unknown
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OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS ONCE by guest writer Maureen McQuillan  

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This building dates back to colonial times
in New Zealand.  It is impressive, dignified,
even intimidating.  It maybe old but it is a survivor. 
God is always opening doors of opportunity.  Scripture speaks several times about this and you can rest assured that as this year progresses, we will see this happening around us.  We just need to recognise those doors and not be afraid to go through them, even when they appear in unusual ways. But…feel timid when incredible God-given opportunities arise?  Feel that you don’t have what it takes to go through such doors?  Here’s an encouraging personal testimony from Maureen McQuillan. Maureen used to feel so inhibited, inadequate, fearful and unable to communicate that she’d simply freeze and clam up if asked to do something that’d put her in the limelight
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This shop was a place to sit quietly over a coffee, meet with a friend, or as Maureen, our writer explained, the ‘quiet, small voice’ of the Lord.
MAUREEN’S STORY Maureen’s story: Decades ago I was given an unexpected ‘grand tour’ of Mount Gambier (SA) Television Station.  As we passed a live daytime talk show being televised, I paused to observe the proceedings.  Suddenly I heard that ‘quiet, still voice’ of the Spirit whisper to me, ‘One of these days you’ll be doing that.’ It was a classic situation where you immediately shake your head and feel that it was nothing more than your imagination or wishful thinking. I should have known better! Twice more I was to hear that same quiet voice repeating those scary words to my spirit.  No way, I thought, I had neither the experience nor the desire to be on TV. Two months later my Adelaide company informed me on a Friday night that they had booked prime TV time for the following Monday morning.  With a very popular presenter, Maureen, and, by the way, you’ll be promoting our products. Who me?  Help!  Time to panic.  Time to reason with them that I’d never done any TV work before, that little me (and I am little!) couldn’t go live on TV, even for a short segment and certainly not at such short notice.  Then I heard again that becalming soft voice of the Spirit.  This time reminding me that he’d already prepared me for this moment by gently telling me in advance, that this was a door of opportunity, that all would be okay as I trusted him.  I immediately sensed an unusual peace within and agreed to go on. Monday morning saw me seated opposite the show’s host and, even though no instructions about the director’s hand signals were given me, we were off and running.
FRIENDLY HELP The Holy Spirit is our greatest friend and helper.  We can call on him for his wisdom, strength, and creativeness in all matters whether in spiritual, business, or general life.  I certainly did so in that TV situation and I was successful.  In fact, my weekly segment ran for four years on different stations. Here’s the thing…It’s impossible for me to fully relate how many difficulties stuck with me from childhood into adulthood.  I’m just a little person – the proverbial five foot nothing – and I greatly lacked confidence.  Can you imagine how it hit me when told to go on live TV and speak to hundreds of thousands of viewers?  Immediately frightening!  But knowing God was in it made the difference.  Knowing that he had arranged the opportunity gave me the confidence needed. The Holy Spirit already had a hold of my life and was now, even through secular means, proving to me how much boldness, confidence, and creativity he can give anyone who asks for his help.  Yes, I overcame the inadequacies in my life and was successful as I looked beyond myself and relied totally on him.  And it was all a preparation for the next step! Since that breakthrough God opened many spiritual doors for me, enabling me to confidently minister in the ‘limelight’ on my own.  I also assist Robert in effective ministry as we minister together at churches, camps, leadership sessions and conferences, even businesspeople sessions.  And especially in trusting the Holy Spirit for everything and boldly moving in his gifts, particularly the prophetic and words of knowledge and wisdom to bless the church and mentor ministers.
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Don’t hang back from entering what God has
planned for you this year. If you believe God
is and Jesus is your saviour put your hand in
His and go boldly forward.
THE OPEN DOOR From both of us:  Whatever ‘effectual door’ (1 Cor. 16:9) God opens for each of us this year, we mustn’t let anything, anyone, any lie or any satanic deception hold us back from taking it.  If we do lack anything, we can ask the Holy Spirit for his assistance. We encourage you all to recognise those doors of opportunity and boldly go through them!