Australia Trip Report Part 1
Well, Noah and I just experienced one of the longest flights that we have ever travelled, and the greatest amount of time change we have gone through as well. Australia is +18 hours ahead of us. I never knew that a time change could be so hard to overcome, but man were we ever bagged, and it took us more time than we thought to adjust and get back to some normalcy . . . and when I say normalcy I mean we didn’t feel like we wanted to go back to bed in the mornings and afternoons. J This is what I would say was our biggest challenge on the trip, because outside of this everything went wonderfully!!
We started the trip flying into Brisbane, Queensland, and drove a few hours from there over to Mount Alford Lodge Christian Conference Centre where Mike had done several week-long trainings over the years. It is really a beautiful location close to the mountains and a place to really relax and find some rest . . . a good place for us to start and get rid of that jetlag. We walked the grounds a few times together and enjoyed the sounds of Australia, constantly hearing the birds singing in all kinds of languages and reminding me once again of the absolute beauty of God and all His creation, the awesome creativity HE allows us to experience in this place He gave to us to walk, learn, and take part in! I must admit, though, one of the birds had a really, really annoying sound like it was dying out loud . . . constantly!! Well, Amen! J
We were able to visit with those who are running the lodge and had good talks with Geoff Hopson and his wife and also Phil & Wendy Bell. They love the Abiding Message and have an entire library at the Lodge of all of Mike’s teachings and trainings, which was so neat to see. They are able to fill orders all over Australia and hand out these materials to those who come in to book the lodge and continue to share The Abiding Life IN Christ in this way . . . wonderful!!
We also spent quite a bit of time with people who flew or drove up to the lodge to come and spend time with us for fellowship, discipleship, or just to hear what is going on with Abiding Life Ministries in North America. It is always a great time with the Family of God, isn’t it? I am so often encouraged and so blessed that they come to hear what God has to share through a weak man. I was able to give some formal teaching time on the weekend, which gave Noah the opportunity to catch up with some friends he had not seen in a long time, since years ago God had called Noah to come live and work here and he made some life-long connections! Then after that Noah and I shared with everyone there the vision The Lord has given to us and that we are very much still moving forward! People were so encouraged and there was an excitement that filled the room. God called me to share with them on the topic of Decision-making as believers and how we go about doing that in this message of abiding and how we define the Will of God. I have found as I have been travelling for the past decade that the church really suffers for lack of definition on these two things in particular. It really should not be that difficult if we believe we have a Big God, but so many of us fear making a wrong decision or stepping out of God’s Will with a bad decision, which already shows a lack of definition in these areas. We truly forget about God’s Permissive Will, which is a promise to His children that “He works EVERYTHING for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Rom.8:28). I did a word study on that word “everything” for a seminary class, and I came to discover that it really does mean everything! So, what do we really have to worry about? A wrong decision is not the worst decision, indecision is, because it stops the believer from moving forward in faith because he is unsure how Huge his God really is and doubts that HE is bigger than any wrong/bad decision he could make! Remember, the Will of God is not a place to get to, but a Person to Trust, that being Jesus. You trust Him that HE WILL lead you no matter your stupidity; you will truly have no worries for the rest of your days. The problem we have with that? We are human, have flesh, and need contrast to learn, which is how God scripted it in this world. So stop worrying when you seem to have made stupid decisions; you need the contrast to learn what a wise decision is. If you have pressure in your life, it’s because you have taken on God’s job. If you don’t have pressure in your life, then you have recognized God as Father and you as child and have let Him take care of it. Amen!
We rented a car, which was an interesting experience, because in Australia the steering wheel is on the wrong side to us and the car is driven on the wrong side of the road according to us, as well. That took quite a bit of adjusting and gave Noah plenty of time to pray on this trip whenever I drove! Actually, since Noah has been here before, he took the first spin driving the rental as I totally chickened out, which I have no problem admitting. It is a scary thing sitting in the passenger side as it seems the car is extremely close to the edge ALL the time. Depth perception is really off when we’re not used to driving on the right side of the car and the left side of the road, so it would seem what was close was ACTUALLY close, and a few times we almost got ourselves into trouble. It all made for great stories! In fact, after 3.5 weeks driving like this, I really got pretty good at it to the point that when I returned home to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, I went to the wrong side of the car to get in to drive and only pulled into the left lane 3 times driving back home from the airport, a 3-hour drive for me . . . whew!! In the end, no accidents and not a scratch on the car! This really should prove to all of us that our God is Faithful. J
After things finished up for us at Mount Alford Lodge, we then headed over to the Gold Coast to meet and catch up with some long-time friends of ALMI, Warren & Sue Patch, who have understood, lived, and taught abiding in Christ for decades. What a wonderful couple, and Noah and I had quite a few laughs with them as they are an absolute hoot!! They gave us the opportunity to meet up with some of the brothers in their small group, and we shared the message with them. Warren & Sue had driven up to Mount Alford Lodge to hear us speak, and they were so excited to drink in again the Life-breathing message of Abiding IN Christ as they were thirsty and really drank it all in. They both were so excited to have us come and were such great hosts and more than looked after us. In fact, Noah and I got to spend a full afternoon on a large sailboat with one of the brothers, and it was a beautiful backdrop on that ocean to relax in. I often found myself thanking the Lord for His Beauty we see in His creation He blessed us with. What I loved most about Warren & Sue was their full jubilation over the message of the abundant Life being found in abiding IN Christ. They both were so eager for us to share and hear more and be encouraged. They reminded me of this couple I had met in Vienna, Austria, who drove over 2 countries to get to where I was doing a 1-day seminar on Abiding. They drove it all in one day, attended the seminar, asked for one private session with me that wasn’t in the allotted schedule, and took some rejection from my contact who said no they couldn’t meet with me as I needed rest even though they drove ALL that way. I found out their story as my contact informed me of the situation, I ran out to meet them and said of course I would meet with them since they came ALL that way to hear the message that was only a day long, and then they turned around after the session and had to start driving back home to get to work on time. But they were overjoyed, drank in every word that Christ brought to Life for them, and were glad they came a great distance to listen, hear, and learn from the King of ALL Kings . . . Amen!! It was not wasted time for them at all, for they knew the value of what they were hearing!
It gives me great understanding of the people who were crowded around Jesus listening to Him. Jesus then decides to take a break, and His disciples go with Him on a boat to get away and rest. But the people ran around the lake to the other side to wait for Jesus so they could hear more!! And when Jesus saw them He had such compassion for them, for they were like sheep without a Shepherd!
When we know the value of something, distance does not matter; we will go to great lengths to get more!! This Greatest Treasure we carry within us never rusts or gets destroyed, and we no longer have to travel a great distance every year and go to The Temple Building to perform the sacrifice needed to carry on. We simply need to bow our head and look within ourselves where The Father, Son, & Holy Spirit have made their home, and know how treasured we are to The Great Treasure that He would make us His Home . . . how Awesome!!
But as I look around I do see people living like sheep without a Shepherd, desperate to hear something that will free them, encourage them, give them satisfaction, quench their thirst, bring contentment, and ultimately give them the Rest they are so desperate for . . . and they will go great distances to find it. I have such Compassion for them, and the beautiful thing is that we have that Message they are looking for, and when we get to share it we really do see captives being set free. I, too, will travel great distances to hear it and share it, and because of ALL of you who are called WITH us, we get to go, and it is an absolutely beautiful thing that I am convinced The Lord smiles upon! So, thank you for hearing the call from Jesus and sending us!!!