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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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THE MAGIC OF LOVE

 

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‘God does not give grace in proportion  to our needs, but in accordance with his riches.’  Paul Ellis

WHAT IS LOVE?

 Our first love is magical and wondrous, goose-bump material. My first love was an exploration of romance. We were both fourteen. He was short and tubby, I was tall, slim and gawky. He was not a prince on a white charger, I was no Barby doll, but we were attracted to each other.

Our first kiss was heart-stopping, a stolen moment at the primary school Christmas break-up party.  Not the practised film-star passion but a wet fumbling.  Our relationship never grew, my parents moved to another district and we never met again.

 

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When ever you read the word grace in the Bible, you can substitute the name of Jesus and vice versa. Jesus is grace personified.  He is Mr. Grace.

MY SECOND LOVE

was my prince on an iron horse or bicycle.  He was too poor to own a car, the car would come later. Dark, handsome, average height. The chemistry was there from the start. Cupid’s arrow found its target and we married.  Sixty-six years later we still fizz with the magic, though age has taken its toll.

MY THIRD LOVE

Is Christ, Son of God. This is not an Eros or romantic love but an agape love.  The love of God for man and of man for God, a self-less, sacrificial love.

God’s love for us is beyond magical, it is jealous, possessive, transforming, redeeming, healing and freeing. There is no end to his love for us, no bottom, no height or width.  We are the apple of his eye. D L Moody once said, ‘If you ask me why God should love us, I cannot tell. I suppose it is because he is a true Father.’

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‘Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the L<ord forgave you.'(Colossians3:13)

Such unconditional love is known as the grace of God, the unearned favour of God given to us not for what we have done or haven’t done, not for who we are or aren’t. Philip Yancey wrote, ‘Grace means there is nothing I can add to make God love me more, and nothing I can do to make him love me less.’ Such love is the sacrificial love of agape. ‘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… There is no eternal doom awaiting those who trust him (Jesus) to save them.’ I have no concept of such love, it is beyond my understanding that anyone could love me so much.

 

 

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‘There is nothing within us that can save and sanctify us.  Everythng we need has to come from above. Everything we need is found in Jesus.’ Paul Ellis

                MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

When this wonderful truth of God’s unearned favour dawned on me the colours became brighter and prettier, I felt clean and new, I had a purpose to live.  I felt I wanted to dance for a million years. I had been floundering, searching for what? Suddenly I was found and I had found Jesus, my third love, a self-sacrificing, agape love. This Agape love, this unmerited favour of God, does wonders for the self-esteem.

I want to close with this thought expressed by Paul Ellis, ‘he who has Christ lacks no good thing. In him we are fully, completely, and totally sanctified.’  Another quote from a  letter by an early believer, ‘So you have everything when you have Christ, and you are filled with God through your union with Christ.’ (Colossians 2: 10)