5 minutes with Philippa ...
Tell us a little about yourself
I am a writer, journalist and communications professional, wife and mother. Not necessarily in that order. Until two years ago, I had what I call a ‘religious disinterest’ – I’d been to a church of England school in the UK, yet no Christian discipleship in my home life, and what the bloke in the black dress with the white collar said from the front of the school chapel held little relevance to my life.
For years afterwards I stayed firmly in the pools of new-age spirituality and ‘thought creates’, with some yogic non-attachment thrown in for good measure. Just like the society we inhabit, it told me I could be, do, dream, achieve anything into existence so long as my mindset and application were correct. That I was magnificent and if life wasn’t going the way I’d planned, I wasn’t thinking the correct magnificent thoughts. All I needed to do was pay money to attend another course to fix my thinking.
Frankly, you can go broke fixing yourself. God’s economy works very differently and, thankfully, He, the Hound of Heaven, hunted me down, placed the Jesus fella front and centre, and showed me what a lighter yoke truly looked like.
Since then, the journalist, writer and PR pro in me has been called to wrestle with what is lost in translation when it comes to getting know God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It’s not that I didn’t get told about them at school. Yet why didn’t I truly get to know them until 43 years of age?
What's your favourite bible passage & why?
Psalm 139 is a favourite because it reminds how intimately God knows me. Verse 14 is my touchstone – not simply the more famous, ‘I am fearfully and wonderfully made’ but what comes after: ‘Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.’
It’s a good reminder against insecurity, when God is asking me to do something that appears overwhelming. The reminder that His works are wonderful, and that I am one of His works, is uplifting. Knowing that in your heart is different to reading it. Psalm 139 remind me each time I doubt myself, I am doubting God. If He knows His works are wonderful, and I am one of His works, who am I to doubt? It is a reminder to keep stepping in to how intimately God loves and knows me, that is ‘too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.’
How do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus?
Becoming a Christian in my mid 40s, I liken my experience of God, Jesus and the Holy spirit (GJ & HS) as ‘holy squatters’ rights’ because once the three of them rappelled into my heart there was no way I could evict them. But uplifting, positive, worship music certainly helps me stay fixed on Jesus.
What would you like the next generation of Christian women to know?
That God doesn’t live in a box. He lives in scripture, yes, but He speaks uniquely to us also. Work out your personal God frequency, how He talks to you, because He speaks to us all differently. Some prophets He came to in dreams, others in signs, others he spoke to, or, like Haggai, he wrote through. Learn and trust those ‘God shoves’ aren’t your imagination, and if you spend some more quiet time in scripture and prayer you Hear him more clearly.
What's one thing that you love about your local church?
Being able to worship with a smile and be refreshed and reset amongst family.
What did you learn about God at a time in your life you found hard?
He has my back. That He doesn’t let go and He doesn’t stop chasing us down. From the story of the Prodigal Son to the rejoicing party they have in heaven when one of us comes back to the fold, the love He pours out is relentless. I have learnt that when I fear, but take a deep breath, step in, and trust, He is always there, whispering behind me and straightening my path. Big or small.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about Jesus not being lost in translation. For Christians not to be seen as ‘Ned Flanders’ stereotypes. Altering the perception that churches are places where only shiny, perfect people go. Jesus has more to offer seeking, secular Australia than people dare imagine or admit: like novelist Julian Barnes’ “I don’t believe in God, but I miss him.”
Part of how we keep introducing Jesus is ensuring the message of grace and hope eternal is relevant with the language of now. I see adverts all the time for new age courses that promise me ‘a new life’, ‘freedom’, ‘a personal breakthrough’ that allow me to ‘leave unburdened.’ I wonder how Jesus must feel about that. After all, that’s what he’s been offering for 2000+ years.
What do you enjoy doing when you rest?
If I’ve spent too long in my head, then I need to move physically in order to rest well, so it might be bodyboarding with my husband and children. If I’ve been on courses with lots of people, my natural introvert will need a solitary run or walk. Other times I’ll download a sermon or some worship music. Which possibly makes me appear like the Ned Flanders Christian stereotype I worry about, but in reality is my easy way of getting back into the Jesus rhythm and climbing into the lap of God.