Abiding Life Discoveries Australia - December 2013
Welcome to our Newsletter
Well we didn't manage to get this newsletter distributed ahead of Santa Claus's arrival, but we did fit it into 2013!!
As I grabbed a couple of hours between our numerous functions to mow the ever growing grass, I was thinking about Christmas and how others who have not been blessed to know the truths surrounding it may celebrate. It is sad to consider that society generally is happy to take the public holidays offered, but a diminishing number understand or even give a thought to the reason for this holiday or even understand that it is a Christian holiday. To many it is a day off work; a chance to eat and drink too much; a day to spoil the kids! To some it is a time of loneliness and emptiness. The birth of Christ is the most significant event in history, because it was the very beginning of man's opportunity to be reconciled with God.
Our hope is that God will equip us to more clearly understand how we can effectively connect with those who have not experienced the joy of knowing the living and indwelling Christ.
We extend to you all our best wishes for this Christmas Season and hope that the all sufficiency of Christ will be evident to you all throughout 2014.
Perhaps we will see you at Mount Alford at one of our 2014 ministry weekends.
From birth we have been reared in the knowledge of good and evil - reward for doing good and punished when doing evil. There is no other way.
Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden1, we are compelled to live by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (The Tree). This is the basis of law and control. Without law there is anarchy. This is life as the result of "The fall".
That tree compelled man to make a choice.
He had the choice of saying YES: he would choose to live in obedience to God. This would involve trust and faith and dependence on God as his life.
The only other choice was NO: he would choose to live in disobedience to God. He would then live, believing that his independence in choices and opinions, would provide for himself a better lifestyle. He believed the lie that he would be "like God, knowing good and evil2".
The choice he would make was critical in his operation as a created being. Man is created as a spirit being, designed to live with God in his spirit, living in a created body that would portray the inner life of his soul through his thinking, feeling and choosing. The presence of God within the man is therefore essential to his humanity, for it is only then that he has the possibility of attaining ultimate fulfilment and joy.
Adam's choice of eating from the tree was a catastrophic disaster. God withdrew Himself from the man, and Adam "died". Every person on the planet has inherited this "death3".
Man separated from God, must now live in a body that is totally dysfunctional. The operative power, God, is absent. The human body is not designed for the stress and pressure of human existence when it can only draw from the limited resources of the soul. It's like an intercontinental aircraft under the control of a moron.
In this condition, our only source of understanding comes from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
This is the plight of many Christian believers. Well armed with great knowledge from years of studying the Scriptures, we live a defeated and barren existence. Without a relationship with God, we must continue to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The knowledge of doing evil is abhorrent, for to do so will bring condemnation of unrighteousness.
But what of doing good? To do good in the power of the flesh (life under the control of anything apart from the Spirit of God}, will bring condemnation and self-righteousness. To the level of self-righteousness I may rise to in seeking to do good (through the power of the flesh}, to that same level I may fall in unrighteousness when striving not to do evil. This "see-saw" process is the tragic plight of many believers who live from the tree of good and evil.
What makes "good" works acceptable to God is the source, not the content4.
God's standard is not a measure of good and evil. That is Taoism. God's standard is Jesus. In Him I am accepted. Not in Him I am rejected.
God is glorified by my choice. In every event, I can choose Jesus. To abide in Him moment by moment, and walk by faith trusting Him for the next step, surely is the goal of every believer. This satisfies, and I am at rest.
1Gen 3; 2Gen 3:5; 31 Cor 15:22; 4Eph 2:10, 1 Thes 1:3
Excitement - Tragedy - Wonder!
We were excited! Bonnie Thomas, one of the world's most accepted women's conference speakers, was coming to Mount Alford Lodge to speak at our women's conference, "Especially for Women".
Every bed was taken. Others were coming in as day visitors. It was shaping to be an incredible time.
All the ladies had lunch together, and, in the latter part of the afternoon (having rearranged her teaching series from the book of James), Bonnie began by sharing her experience of life as the daughter of Cliff Barrows, Musical Director of the Billy Graham Association, and daughter-in-law of Major Ian Thomas, founder of Capernwray Torchbearers International. She became a very real person as she invested her life into the lives of her listeners .... and they loved her.
Then tragedy struck.
Walking up to dinner just on dusk, Bonnie tripped and fell, her face taking the major part of impact on the cement verandah as she was about to enter the building. She was in great pain.
Bonnie was taken to hospital in Boonah (a small country town of under 3,000 people). Our hospital was not equipped for the services demanded. She was to be transferred to Ipswich. Ipswich emergency was already in crisis. She was told to go home and come back at 7.00am the next day. As Boonah hospital had been unable to stop the bleeding from the nose and mouth, we said she should be transferred immediately to the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane. Boonah then arranged the transfer to Brisbane by Ambulance.
Meanwhile, back at the Lodge, the ladies were in shock. After dinner they gathered together and Geoff led them in a time of reflection and open dialogue on why God permits such things to happen. The ladies ministered to each other. The outpouring of love and compassion towards this "stranger" from Colorado USA was very real.
Next morning the diagnosis had come through. Bonnie had broken her nose. This and the facial injuries, including those inside her mouth, needed specialist attention. She would not be coming back to Mount Alford Lodge.
Bonnie Thomas is a natural draw-card, and many had come specifically to hear her. We suggested that, because of this tragedy, some might prefer to return home. If so they would receive a total refund. No one took up the offer.
The morning passed with Geoff leading those present on a journey through Psalm 23. David's "valley of darkness" had now become very real.
But these folk had come to hear Bonnie Thomas! For the evening segment, and with great trepidation, we decided to play an old Bonnie Thomas video. It was an amateur recording in a marquee at Mount Tamborine, filmed in 1990. Her subject was "Abiding in Christ" from John 15.
This was the Bonnie that most of them had just met 24 hours previously. With the walls of the marquee flapping and wind blowing in the microphone, 23 year ago, Bonnie said to those people, "If you came here to hear me you will be disappointed. If you came here to hear God you will be richly rewarded!"
And that was the wonder of "Especially for Women!" at Mount Alford Lodge in 2013. The ladies wanted more of Bonnie. On the first day they had met and audibly heard the real person. In that, and in the ensuing days, they were hearing God.
In this brief time together, God in His infinite wonder and love, had taken the excitement and diversity of a small group of people, and intermingled this with tragedy, suffering and disappointment. In all this, God was weaving a tapestry of wonder and joy that was impacting their lives. This is the wonder of God.
Yet what of Bonnie herself? Monday to Friday her days revolved around hospital, specialists and pain; then a short stay with her brother-in-law Peter in New Zealand, then back to the USA early the following week. Everything is now shaping up well although a later procedure to clear the nasal passages will be likely. Was her Australian tour a waste of time? Emphatically NO! "I know the plans I have for you" God said to Jeremiah, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11
Dates for 2014
21 - 23 March 2014
30 May - 01 June 2014
1 - 3 August 2014
7 - 9 November 2014
Presenter: Geoff Hopson
We have increased the opportunities to attend Breaking Free in 2014. If you have been before and valued the content, please consider returning in 2014 and inviting someone who has not attended to come with you. Wherever Geoff has presented this message during 2013, he has received extremely positive feedback. One participant emailed;
$175 per person twin share. Includes all meals from dinner on Friday to lunch on Sunday, all sessions with notes, plus accommodation in twin ensuited rooms (all linen etc provided).
Check-in from 2.00pm Friday
Bookings and Inquiries:
Telephone 07 5463 0999 or
Abiding Life Discoveries Australia is the essential purpose of Mount Alford Lodge, and when God opens doors, we walk through. As a conference centre, everything we are and everything we do reflects this purpose.
"Breaking Free", a six/seven hour Abiding Life seminar is a regular weekend event. To the majority of people, this message is something new. Speaking at a Country Men's Convention in Western Australia in August was like pouring fresh cool water on dry and thirsty soil. At a Senior's Convention on Queensland's beautiful Sunshine Coast, with a theme of "Living With Significance", mature believers responded to know that real significance can only come from Abiding in Jesus, for significance is a need of the inner spirit of man and it cannot be satisfied in the flesh. A Church in a rural city of NSW grabbed onto this message for a whole weekend with many taking resources of books, CD's and DVD's for personal study and group participation. A radio station in central Victoria has recorded a two hour interview for a two consecutive week broadcast. Yet Australia is a vast country. We want to equip others in this ministry. God is raising up a small group of committed people into which we can invest our lives. When doors open we want to walk through.
So This Is Christmas!
The tinsel, the baubles, the trees full of tinsel and twinkling lights are in the shops, many homes are increasingly adorned with extravagant decorations.
For weeks we have been bombarded with advertising encouraging us to buy more and telling us all that we cannot do without.
We start to think what gifts we will give and what food we will eat.
How will we fit in all the breakups and celebrations!
Where is the nativity - yes there is one tucked away in the corner - sometimes there are carols in the stores. What is the motive behind it all? Are they present because it is expected? Is it tradition?
But what is the season? What do we celebrate?
Is it loving others, feeling warm and fuzzy? Is it a baby in a manger?
WE CELEBRATE THE LIVING RISEN SAVIOUR WHO GAVE EVERYTHING TO SAVE US AND SEEKS US THAT WE MIGHT KNOW HIM AND TRUST HIM WITH OUR LIVES!
Strengths and Weaknesses
There are two design factors built into the spirituality of man;
1) He must have a God
2) He must worship
With sin barring access to God in natural man, these two factors have another focus.
That focus is Self!
Empowered by the body of the flesh and the desire for mastery in the soul, man defies and worships the god of his own understanding - Self!
Self becomes the all-obsessing factor. Self must be satisfied. Self must control. Self is pride at its worst.
These characteristics may be seen as strengths and are revered in high positions of commerce and politics .... and ministry. In reality, these strengths are our greatest weaknesses.
There is only one escape route: death of self by crucifixion1.
To fulfil this design factor in the spirituality of man, access to God can only be found through Jesus Christ.
In my weakness I discover His strength2. Then I am at rest; He is glorified.
1Galatians 2:20; 22 Corinthians 12:9
God's faithfulness has been evidenced in the life of man for centuries. It can be an encouragement to read writings by previous generations. Consider this extract from "Our Daily Bread" written by M.R. DeHaan and H.G. Bosch and published by Zondervan Publishing House in 1959.
Rest in the Storm
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3
Two artists each painted a picture to illustrate his conception of rest. The first chose for his scene a still, lone lake among the far-off mountains. The second drew on his canvas a thundering waterfall, with a fragile birch tree bending over the foam. At the fork of a branch, almost wet with the cataract's spray, a robin sat on its nest. The first was only Stagnation; the last was Rest. For in rest there are always two elements - tranquillity and energy; silence and turbulence; creation and destruction; fearlessness and fearfulness.
This is the victory of faith. It is easy to "rest" when all is quiet and peaceful; but to rest in the midst of a storm, this is peace! Today as you go forth to meet the trials and testings of life, you can know the "peace of God" which passeth all understanding. And how is it obtained? By turning everything over to Him.
"Be anxious in nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God" (Phil 4:6). Before you go forth to work, pause to tell Him all about it and trust Him for everything.
O for the peace of a perfect trust,
My loving God, in Thee;
Unwavering faith, that never doubts,
Thou choosest best for me! - Anon.
"Trust God where you cannot trace Him. Do not try to penetrate the cloud He brings over you: rather look to the bow that is on it. The mystery is God's; the promise is yours." - MACDUFF