Everything listed under: Thoughts

  • the space between belief and faith

    I've been thinking about faith over the last two days. Faith meaning the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen (Hebrews 11:1).

    I have been at a conference over the last couple of days and the thing that struck me is that I have a belief in the bible and what it says - I do actually believe it. But I don't seem to have the faith to always follow that through. Now that is an interesting place to be if you think about it. How can you believe that something is true but when push comes to shove you aren't sure if it will actually happen? perhaps that means I don't really believe at all? The way I see it is like bungy jumping. I believe it is safe because I've seen people do it and I don't hear about injuries but you still won't get me doing it because I don't feel safe. I would encourage someone to do it if they wanted to but I never will.

    I think I've figured out that faith is a journey.

    So if faith is a journey, then I must have a journey that I'm going on. How do I know how far along that journey I am? How do I tell what the next part of the journey is? and if I could take the next step before I was forced too, what would it be?

    I've taken a couple of steps recently that I know in my head are the right choices but they put me well outside of my comfort zone. I would tell you that I have done this in faith but honestly I'm not sure I ACTUALLY have the confidence that it's going to work out. So I'm not sure if I can call it faith. It's a strange place to be - between belief and faith. I'm not even sure how I describe where I'm at right now. I'm going to call it a faith building exercise.

  • Dropping food on the floor

    dropped icecream

    I was having a laugh with some friends about the three-second-rule - you know the one about how long food can be on the ground before you can eat it? yeah that three-second-rule.

    We got talking about all the things that maybe you shouldn't bother ever picking up again like icecream, chewing gum, iceblocks, and anything liquid that's spilt on the carpet.

    I think more boys observe the three-second-rule than girls do although I do know some awesome ladies that will eat food off the floor anytime (I'm thinking of you Ange Walker).

    Eating food off the floor has it's pros and cons. On the one hand, you are more likely to pick up some gross bug and get sick but at the same time you could boost your immunity to those same bugs and not get sick when others do. Maybe eating food off the floor actually helps make you stronger in some cases? that which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger...

    Sometimes when I've dropped food on the ground I dont bother picking it up again - it's too far gone especially if it's liquid... even I think that's yuk. The older (and wiser?) I get, the less I eat of the ground. I've got more picky about the three-second-rule and how I apply it.

    I'm glad God doesn't follow the three-second-rule. When I've fallen down, I've been on the ground a lot longer than three seconds. I'm glad God didn't give up on me.

  • The path is not straight

  • Do we ever get on top of life?

    I've been wondering for a few years now if we every really get on top of life. The more I live, the more I find out there is so much going on out there in the big wide world that I will never keep up with it all. Even in the industry I work in things are changing every hour it seems. But it's not just in my vocation that I find I don't seem to be able to get on top.

    I'm not talking about feeling out of control or that the world is closing in on me. I feel more like I'm surfing a wave but I don't control the wave. I love being on the wave and taking every moment to love it, but I'm aware that I don't have control of the wave - I'm just going with it.

    Another way of looking at it could be that life is like a hot air balloon and I'm in the basket below. The Balloon is pulling me up and I'm just go with it. I'm happy about that because I'm in the balloons basket that I obviously go into, and I have some control over the flames that heat the air to make it rise, but really the balloon is going up and taking me with it. I'm not pushing the balloon up.

    So I wonder if I will ever really get on top of life. Watching a few of my friends in different stages of their lives is interesting because it highlights to me that they aren't on top of it either. I was watching a married couple with a toddler and how they were always trying to keep up with him. Did they have everything they needed for the day out, is the yard gate shut, where is he now, does he need to be feed, has he had a sleep, heck where is he NOW? They are awesome parents but who can really be on top of a toddler? Seriously, who is ever really on top of life when they have kids who are growing, changing, and challenging you ever step of the way?

    Then I got thinking about the toddler - maybe he is on top of life? What I remember of being a kid is great but I never felt like I was the one in control. I was always told what to ware, what to eat, when to sleep. I remember thinking 'when I'm grown up, I'll do what I want and sleep when I want and eat all the McDs I want'. I don't think the toddler was on top of life either.

    My beautiful sister is getting married to an awesome man at the end of the year. They left themselves a whole year to plan the wedding and we all feel like we are racing just to keep up with the time schedule of the wedding at the end of the year. Their wedding will be great and they aren't in any rush, but once they set the date and the clock started counting we all felt like it was taking off and we had to keep up. Do we ever really get on top of life?

    Maybe we shouldn't bother trying to get on top of life. Maybe trying to control life is an impossible idea in the first place given that the world is changing all the time and we can't possibly keep up with all the changes. Maybe the best plan is to stay standing up on our surfboards and having a good time while life rockets us towards the beach.

  • Kiss her, you may not get another chance

    Kiss her! you may not get another chance

    I'm all about seizing the moment. Capri diem and all that. Near where I live there is this message sprayed on a wall. I walk past it nearly every day. When it first arrived I had a good laugh to myself and thought "Yeah man, take your shot - go hard or go home". Recently I've been thinking more about this message and I'm no longer sure I think its a good message to tell people. I'm going to do my best to explain why but please remember that I do tend to seize the moment and don't often take the advice I'm about to spell out.

    I think this message is rather selfish and superficial . It presumes that she might not like you enough to see you again so you should get all you can right now. It seems to put everything back on the guy and says to him "dude, this is your one and only chance, don't blow it cause you might never get another". When it comes to relationships, I think this is bad advice. Yes i know, I haven't always taken or believed this but I'm starting to the more I walk past this message on the wall.

    The view this message paints of relationships isn't one of building trust and getting to know someone over time. It sends a message of 'get while the gettin's good'. How is that anyway to start a relationship? that's how people end up having a child with someone they don't even know or want to be attached to. Where is the respect and value shown to the other person, girl in this case?

    If you were out with a girl and you didn't know if she liked you or if the night had gone well. I wouldn't advise anyone to just try kiss her anyway. You are likely to freak her out and then she really won't call you. Taking time to develop a relationship is never a bad idea. If she doesn't want to be with you, that's ok, maybe a little painful but in the end you don't want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with you either.

    The flaw in this message is that it's all about the guy and the short term goal. It's not about building a long term trusting relationship which I dare say is what we do actually want.

    Why do we think that we have to take hold of everything right now? why does that message resonate with us so much? I understand that it's part of the human condition to want everything now but why is that? I'm going to ask God about that when I get there.

  • Stuipd advice from an old man (Lyrical Lies' by Cute Is What We Aim For)

    I'm sitting here working on a public holiday - yay for working for yourself. I'm listening to a song called 'Lyrical Lies' by Cute Is What We Aim For. It's an interesting song - have a listen.

    The opening lyrics  to Lyrical Lies :
    An old man gave me a tip he said
    "Don't waste your time with politics" he said
    "Just chase skirts instead"
    "Life is too short, and you're almost dead" he said
    "I met a woman once, I gave her my best shot"
    "But never did I talk and talk and talk"
    "If I had her back, I'd be as real as my age"
    "I so don't blame them, I wouldn't do the same"
    "But I can blame them, I'd sing her this"

    I got thinking about the tip from the old man and suddenly realised the two fatal flaws in the advice. The first flaw is giving up on politics and chasing skirts instead. This just wont work because while we may not like politics or politicians, they are actually there working hard for others. This old man's advice essentially says that working hard for the good of others is a waste of time, that standing up for those that have no voice is a dumb way to pour your life out. The advice suggests that chasing self-fulfilling pursuits is the best way to spend life. That all the 'wisdom' of life this old man has gathered is that spending life for others has left him disillusioned and the old man wishes he has spent more time chasing women.

    Now I like the ladies - lets not pretend I don't. I have a beautiful girl who is worth doing anything for but I totally believe that life is not about me. Spending your life standing up for what is right and good IS the BEST way to spend life. It's only when you give your life away that you will truly find you life. It's a strange concept for us to grasp but it's very true.

    I've heard it said by counsellors that the best cure or mild loneliness and depression is to get involved in a social club of some sort. By simply being part of a sports team, people make friends which combats loneliness, and by being part of a group that are all working towards something bigger than themselves, people find value and purpose in life. When we get our eyes off ourselves and focuses outside our selves, when we finally take hold of the bigger picture and spend your life with and for others, we start to understand something of true humanity. No amount of self-serving, skirt chasing will ever bring true happiness.

    This brings me to the second tip from the old man which is "life is too short and you're almost dead" What dumb short-sighted advice from an old man who has lost his grasp on reality. Yes an individual life is short and we should make the most of it but the world does not revolve around an individual. The curtain will not come down on human existence just because one person passes from it. Life, this world, and all that is it in has, obviously, existed just fine without any specific individual. The old mans advice seems to suggest that your life is the only one that matters and you should spend it making the most of it just for you. Imagine what this world would be like if that was how everyone lived. If we only ever did things for our own self gratification and never thought about the impact our lives would have on generations to come. How would soldiers who stormed Normandy on d-day have behaved if they only thought about themselves and their own life. Would they have laid down their lives for the rest of us? I believe they gave up their lives for their children and their children's children. They had a bigger view of the impact their life would have. They knew their life was only one small part in a much bigger show that was playing out over the decades. Your life is not just the length you will live. Your life will echo through your family and those that own their linage to you but it will also echo through the stories of your friends, through the history of the nation in which you participated, and through the choices you make that will impact on those further on in history.

    The advice from the old man in this song is so wrong because it fails to consider anything other than his own life and what he will get to do and experience.

    Your life counts now and it will count in years to come after you are gone. The impact you have on this earth WILL echo for decades to come. You get the choice as to how and what it will echo. Will it be a life of skirt chasing and selfishness or will it be a life given away and fulfilled by seeing the bigger picture and where you fit in it? Don't take the old man's advice.

  • Us Japanese, we think in decades

    I'm watching a movie called "The Bank" and one of the topics they talked about was peoples perspective of time.

    Generally speaking more people think about the impact they will have on time as being a little short of their whole life. So if they think there life is 75 odd years, they will think the impact of their lives will be made over 60 odd years. This takes into account the time they took to grow up and get up to speed, then the last few years are sort of written off to old age.

    Some cultures are better at thinking long term than others. I saw that first-hand when I was in China. The Chinese Emperors were obsessed with living forever and they started, continued, and built like they would live forever. They had an insight into the importance of planning a long way in advance to ensure their Dynasties would last for many generations. In the movie I'm watching there was a line "You English always think about each year, us Japanese, we think in decades" and I dear say the Chinese think in centuries. That might be unfair on the Japanese as I've never been in a position to really asses how they think about time. I'm just going with the line from the movie.

    I've been doing some reading recently about leadership and casting vision. I'm not very good at it but I'm starting to learn about it. One of the things this leadership books talks about is succession planning. Setting up something to last for a long time and making sure the foundation it's been set upon can take the weight and stay solid for a long time.

    I wonder what the Disciples thought about when they first started out with the Church? Did they think about the structure or it? did they already know it? did they have strategic planning session where they contemplated the roles needed and how the church would look in years to come? I have no idea...

    Beside the pondering about whether the Disciples had thought about the long term succession of the Church - I'm fairly sure a bunch of fishermen and builders etc had no skills in this area. I've been thinking about how most leaders and managers seem to run their businesses. They appear to lead them based on the vision of what they can achieve in their life time. I think this is small minded.

    When leaders are thinking about the Big Picture, why is it so often what they can achieve in the next 10 or 20 years? why is it what they will be able to see in their life time? I guess I'm surprised by them.

    Maybe I'm strange but I think about what my business will look like in 150 years time. What will it look like when three generations will have run and lead this company? Obviously its impossible to know what that will look like and it's actually rather silly to think about but I think it's important to consider them, in 150 years time, when making my decisions today. If I set up bad practices or a poor philosophy, it will carry on for many years and decades to come. How rude of me would that be.

    It's the same with church and ministry. I think of all organisations that cover the earth, it's the Church that will stand strong, and has, over the centuries. Leaders, across the board, should be considering what they need to do now AND what the impact will be of what they do now on their successors in years to come.

    I know that I think about things years in advance. The idea of being on one part a long chain in a ministry or organisations history isn't anything I find hard to grasp and comprehend.

    I wonder if that is a strange ability or not? I bet it hinders me thinking about the here and now, or maybe it adds value to it. Who knows. It's just a thought right now anyway.
  • The little things I forget

    Sometimes, or a lot of the time, I forget that the little things matter. Those little things that we all do for others that seem so small, or maybe I hoped they would be bigger but they only ended up small so I think they didn't have an impact - so often they do.

    I've been reminded of this twice recently and I just got thinking about trying to make the effort to do those little things more. I'm sure it will last for a while and then I'll forget about them again.

    About 18 months ago I was praying for a dude and felt God give me a picture for him. There were a few others there praying as well. At some point in the prayer time I told this guy the picture I had of a big barrel chested Russian-type granddad giving him a huge. It didn't mean much to me and seemed a little strange but I said it all the same - who am I to question what God wants to say to someone through me?

    Nothing really happened when I told him and I didn't really expect it to. We finished praying and all went for lunch. Life went on as it does.

    about a year later the guy I was praying for came over and told me about that day. He said that he remembered word-for-word what I had said and it had a huge impact. He told me the meaning of what God had said through me and what it meant to him. Evidentially it was a huge help and just the right timing.

    To me it was so small and I didn't even remember it for a while when he was telling me. The little things made a huge difference to him and helped him along in life.

    The other thing that reminded me about the little things was a conversation I had today. A mate of mine was in Auckland at a conference and felt really touched and had a God moment. I saw that he was touched and wanted to let him know I saw and cared. So after the service I wanted to say something to him but there was a heap of people coming back from the front and all I could do was put my hand on his shoulder. It wasn't as much as I was hoping to do and I was a little bummed out. I also didn't follow it up afterwards.

    The dude came back to me today and told me it really counted for him that I noticed and put my hand on his shoulder. He felt like I was there for him and wanted let him know that (which is exactly what I was trying to communicate). I guess that the little things matter more than I thought.

    Often I don't remember just how valuable a hand on a shoulder, or saying the smallest thing can be. I know that from being on the receiving end of the small things that they make a huge difference.

    The challenge here is guess is to not ignore the small things. Get active and make those small things happen. Walking across the room and putting a hand on a shoulder. What would that cost you? - nothing but the impact to someone else could just be the thing they need.

  • An observation of Mao, a revolutionary leader

    I'm here in China at the moment and I've been thinking a lot about leadership and what it takes to be a revolutionary leader. Chairman Mao may not be a very like man in most parts of the world, including China but her certainly had a way with people and achieved an amazing thing in unifying China.

    I've been thinking about what it takes to unify 30 million people. It's obviously not something you can do by yourself. From the outset Mao had a big vision and dream - to see the imperialist-capatlist powers and system over-throughen. While the People's Revolution may have started with only a small number of people, they didn't intend to stay that way.

    Right from the word go Mao and his cohorts must have been thinking about structure and process. What would be required if they were to work with 30 million people? who would they need and how would they train them? where would they get the resources and how would they deploy them? where would the first frontline be and where would the safe place for new trainees be?

    This wasn't one man thinking he could do everything.

    I find that, as a generalisation, often in Church life, leaders try and do everything themselves. They behave like they are the only ones who can do the job. Or maybe it's that they are to scared to give the job away? They are reluctant to give the job to someone else and really REALLY let them run with it.

    I know this isn't an easy issue to tackle and I'm not actually trying to answer it or offer any wise insight. It's just something I'm noticing in leadership.

    It seems to me that revolutionary leaders have a very clear idea of who the enemy is and they are passionate about destroying that enemy. They seem happy to give people training and support and freedom to be revolutionary however they want as long as they are attacking the same enemy.

    Giant statue of Chairman Mao at the Beijing Military museum


  • Buying food for beggars

    I had a hustler hit me up in the street in Shanghai today. He was a young guy, about 15 he said and I tend to believe him. Pimply and tall, dressed in clean clothes, he didn't look like he lived on the streets. I was standing on the side walk watching one of our group move around when this young guy introduced himself. He spoke in good strong English, not perfect like he had lived in an English speaking country, but good enough that he clearly spoke it often. He spoke about how much he liked people with white skin - odd but whatever floats your boat I guess. He asked where I was from and he knew a bit about Australia - the same place as NZ to him. After a while he told me he had run away from home and was living on the street, he hadn't eaten in a long time and was sooooo hungry. His lines sounded very prepared and practiced. In the end our party moved off and I left him without buying him any food.

    I got thinking about the experience later that night. At the time I had just passed him off as another hustler trying to get something from me and I believe he was just hustling me. But it was the fact that he asked for food that got to me. Why would a hustler ask for food? Maybe this is what he did and each person he would ask for something different. Food from this person, shoes from that one, a sweatshirt from another. I started to wonder about how Jesus and the disciples handled these situations. Here are a couple of references I read over.

    "Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." - Acts 3:6

    "But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? 23 Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? 24 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. 25 And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God" - Luke 5:22-25

    I don't want to play into the hands of hustlers like a fool, and I don't want to perpetuate a cycle of being a professional beggar. I do want to meet the needs or people. I may not have a lot of money but certainly more than these people. But what is it that they really need? It seems to me that Jesus and the disciples knew these same professional beggars needed something more than just money. They knew these people needed healing both spiritually and physically. Many people in the world will be able to meet the money and clothing need for people but they can't meet the needs that only Jesus can. I take that same Jesus with me everywhere I go. So many next time I come acorss a hustler I should follow the lead and give them the very thing that is unique which I can offer. healing through Jesus.

    It appears to me that no one else ever offers that. Well they don't seem to anyway. Good people give money and it's helpful. I want to be the sort of person that offers real answers that make a difference. I know Jesus made a difference in me, so I'm going to try and be brave enough and have faith that I can pass that on.

  • And time ticks by

    "and time ticks by"

    Life, among other things, marks time. Time that no one will ever get back. Time that history now owns. Time the world gifted to that life, and that the world will remember forever. No life will ever mark the same amount of time in the same place; although some will overlap the same period in history.

    How do we mark our own time? When world comes back to ask what it was like when you lived, what will they find? In years to come when historians and school children read about the period of time in which you lived, what will they say about the human race, or specifically about you?

    What do people read when they look into the lines on your face? When they hold your hands and see the scratches and scares, what will they learn?

    In years to come when your children and grand children read your diary, what conclusion will they draw about the time that you marked?

    See, I believe that the journey is equally as important as the destination in life. Neither is more important or over shadows the other. The goal of our life is importatnt because no one wants to get to the end of their life and find they spent it chasing a point less vision. The bible says that "without hope the people perish" - Proverbs 29:18 it also says "what does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet losses his life" - Mark 8:36. We all need a vision or something to hold onto and strive for. It's a natural human thing. At the same time the means doesn't justify the end. You can't go around doing what ever you want just because the outcome might be good. Process is as important as product.

    There is a quote from the movie 'The Prince and Me' which goes

    "It's at the end of a mans life that he realises just how important his decisions were in the beginning"

    I find that a brilliant and heart breaking quote. Brilliant because of the wisdom and insight. Heartbreaking because I haven't always made the best desicions and that sets me on an intesting path I pray I can recover from.

    At least I'm young enogh that I will get to make some great dicisions. I wonder what I will conclude about how I marked my time when I look back on it. When I ready my blogs, journals, look at photos, and remember what I did with my short 70+ years. What will I find and will I be proud.

  • Cleaning up the yard

    I enjoy movies even though I don't watch them a lot. I nearly always find something interesting to think about when I watch one. On the plane from Sydney to Hong Kong I watched 'The curious case of Benjamin Button'. During the movie Benjamin comes through the yard and sees the gardner racking up leafs in the Autumn. Benjamin flicks out to him

    "Why do you bother cleaning up the yard, it's just going to be there tomorrow"

    I got thinking about life and why I bother trying to clean it up and put things right. I know that I'm a fool and will make mistakes every day of my life. I know that there will never be a day that I don't mess up in some way so why do I bother trying to put it right when it's only going to get messed up again tomorrow?

    Life is wonderful and messy. A friend of mine once described sex like that. I figure is applies much wider to life as well as sex.

    Everyday I get up and head into the the day that the Lord has made. Each and every day so clean and ready for me to do anything with. I get presented with a opportunities at every turn. Challenges that will push me and test every area of my life.

    At the end of the day I look back at the mix of great and not so great choices I've made. It reminds me a bit of a kitten in a scratch box. On the whole I may be very happy with the outcome but there is usually a heap of mess all over the place. So why do i bother talking to God about it each day? What's the point when it's only going to get messy again. Why not save it till the end of the week, month, year, life?

    I believe that cleaning the yard, or leaving the baggage behind as some people say, is the best way to live because it sets us free to make different choices the next time around. If I believe that because I made a certain choice last time, then I must make the same choice this time, I will be doomed to repeat my mistakes over and over. I will be limited by my past and not able to take hold of the future.

    Cleaning the yard allows me to move forward without having to wade through the rubbish of yesterday. Imagine what would happen to my clean work clothes if I had to push past piles of leaves from months or even years gone by. I wouldn't be able to get very far without being tainted by the rotting mess.

    I also think that if I didn't clean up the yard of my life, there will be others who won't get to experience life a fully. Beautiful green grass wouldn't grow. Children wouldn't be able to play outside. I couldn't have a BBQ outside with my friends. Animals that passed though the yard like my cat would be affected by my mess.

    How could I live a life where I forced my mess onto others and not even think about it? I know that I'm not perfect and my actions affect others but I can do something about it and I choose too. I choose to say sorry sooner rather than later. I choose to seek out people who I've hurt in the past and ask them for forgiveness - sometimes they have no idea or don't think it's a big deal but I do it anyway.

    I try and clean up my life every day for the sake of others. I clean it up for those I know who got messed up last time so they don't have to deal with the same mess the next time. I clean up the yard for those I've never meet so they don't have to deal with my mess when they first meet me. I also clean up the yard because there are so many other fantastic things just waiting to grow and be enjoyed by others.

    I'm not fantastic at cleaning but I think it's important all the same.