Happy New Year. We trust you enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and New Year celebrations. We had a superb time having the chance to enjoy a 2 week break from school. We took the girls to Disneyland and enjoyed the excellence and spectacle Disneyland offers. The place is immaculate, finely organised and is the ultimate customer service experience. The girls were memorised with all things Disney Princess, Minnie Mouse and Star Wars. Their Mum and Dad were equally amused and we especially enjoyed witnessing the joy of seeing our girls meet many of the characters they adore. It was a special time to enjoy as a family.
Then we picked up Shell’s parents and enjoyed our first winter Christmas together. It didn’t snow on Christmas Day in Redding (cold enough but no rain) so on Boxing Day we headed to the mountains an hour away and enjoyed some sledding. It was a surreal time enjoying Christmas in snow jackets, beanies and gloves. Unique but enjoyable. Then to complete our time with the Ingersolls we headed to Lake Tahoe for some REAL snow experiences. Oh my….. the wind chill was scary. We awoke one morning to -18C. Who knows what the “feel like” wind chill factor temperature was when we braved a lookout at 10 000ft. Our ‘nose-and-lips-meter’ suggested anymore than 3 minutes in the elements was enough and the tears on the girls’ faces from the extreme conditions shortened our sightseeing at such elevation. Nevertheless, the location was stunning. If you get the chance make sure you visit. In the summer Lake Tahoe offers water visibility of over 7m in depth apparently. It is the second highest fresh water lake in USA at elevation. (sounding like a travel expert hey!!) On New Years Eve we all stood on a beach, as we often do in Australia, except this time it was snow covered and crunched beneath our snow shoes. An amazing experience and vista.
We entered the new year sensing great expectation, growth and more exciting adventures. We have walked through a season of transformation and feel positioned to embrace the next 4 months of school like a new sponge about to absorb water from a pure well. Our heart’s desire is to experience powerful and tangible encounters of God’s grace.
God’s grace is a fascinating subject and I wonder what side of the coin of grace you see? When you are trapped in deficit and lack emotionally, spiritually, physically and/or mentally you most often only see the redemptive side of God’s grace. And what a side of grace this offers! Christ’s sacrifice took on our inadequacies and God’s grace removes the pain, shame and guilt lifting us up out of lack into a position of strength and health as a child of God. Whoa!!! So good. One can easily focus only on this side of grace as you ebb and flow through seasons of health and weakness in your spiritual identity and position in Christ. When needed you pull into grace to make up for your shortfalls. My journey (Craig) focused very strongly on this side of grace as I desperately wanted to prove I was a worthy son of God and only pull into this redemptive feature as minimally as possible. The only trouble with this approach is I became what I saw and my focus of grace overwhelmed me more to avoid failure than embracing full acceptance and love that releases you to the other side of the coin of grace.
But a change has occurred. Without denying the need for rescuing grace (none of us are perfect or immune from restorative touches from God) we have started to recognise and importantly be responsive to the resourcing side of the grace coin. Grace is more than undeserved favour and many would agree it is the empowering presence or operating power of God. Grace resources your walk with God. Grace matures and transforms us; it releases us to co-labour with God so that He gets His full reward; offers unlimited resources to fulfil God’s plans and purposes in your lifetime; enables you to dream God’s thoughts and create and build heaven on earth in the unique way you have been fashioned to influence your world. Wow! What a side of the coin to miss if only we only focus and dwell on the redemptive side of grace.
As you launch into 2016 may we encourage you to consider this latter side of the grace coin. Remember grace is a coin and we are not suggesting one side is better than the other. However, focusing on the redemptive side alone will limit your understanding of what is possible to achieve on earth. Redemption offers a platform to resume living at the foundation of what God intended in the very beginning. However, staying there only reduces the potential of what is possible. I will never deny or downplay the significance of God’s restoration but there is so much more access to life in the fullness of God. Grace resources this journey and like us we pray you would be hungry to explore all this might offer you in this new year.
Blessings and much love,
Craig, Shell, Brielle, Elisha and Jessika.
PS: In April we are joining the Bethel church family and school and travelling to LA to participate in Azusa Now (110th anniversary of the Azusa Street revival). There is great expectation of a God-awakening at this event and we have been asked to join teams ministering to people through signs and wonders on the streets of LA and praying for the sick at the event. We are still in need of finance for this week in April. If you would like to assist us financially or prayerfully for this event don’t hesitate to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) to find out how.
Click here for a video on the event.