Category Archives: Personal Thoughts

My Beardseason “Yeard”

Some years ago, a fine gentleman named Jimmy Niggles realised that raising awareness of anything required discussion and one of the easiest ways to start a discussion was to change your appearance.  All of a sudden, everyone wants to know why you look different and discussion is struck up very quickly and simply.  And so his “Beardseason” campaign was launched due to the recent loss of one of his surfer mates to Melanoma.

Jimmy himself grew a winter beard and encouraged other men to do the same.  Then when people asked about the beard, his encouragement is to take the opportunity to remind the enquirer of the importance of regular skin checks.

Melanoma is a massive killer (particularly here in Australia) and while  I don’t have the ability to take extended time off work and walk around Australia dressed like a storm trooper or run from Brisbane to Broome or many other fine ideas that people do to raise awareness or funds for various research ideas or development concepts, rather than get caught up in what I can’t do, I decided to do something I can do.

So I made trimming my normally very neatly clipped, designer facial stubble a thing of the past and decided to just let it grow (yep, I’m singing it just like you are!).  Exactly as Jimmy predicted, people inevitably do indeed ask, what’s with the fuzz, and I do get right in and tell them about Jimmy, the Beardseason campaign and their need of regular skin checks.  I grew my beard last winter as part of the Beardseason effort, but this year I started very late in the season (12 August) but have decided to aim for a “Yeard” (a year of beard).

As a particularly spotty person myself, I get regular skin checks.  I also wear very sun protective clothing whenever I’m in it as well as sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses and anything else I can find to keep the sun off my ridiculously sensitive skin.  And for those who don’t have sensitive skin and love a good tan, you are at an even higher risk…the tanning is damaging your skin and it’s ability to heal and potentially long term and even life threatening damage cannot be undone.  Every time you tan, it is accumulating and increasing your risk of death from Melanoma.

I won’t go on about it, because I know many of you simply don’t care and are going to tan anyway, but that is the reason for my “Yeard”…thanks for asking!

I don’t know if I’ll make the whole year, but I’m doing something…

Grow on!Bearded Biff


Politics?

Today Malcolm Turnbull announced a leadership challenge against our current Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

I guess as Australians, we should be getting used to this political circus, after all,  we’ve seen Kevin Rudd ousted by Julia Gillard, only to be re-ousted by Kevin Rudd.  And behind the scenes, the leadership of parties changing through such barbaric politics whilst out of power is quite normal.  But is it a good thing, that we are no longer seeing Prime Ministers fulfilling a full term in their appointed position after being voted by a public election of the Australian people?  Is it a good thing, when “good politics” can see our country appoint Julia Gillard as Prime Minister twice without once winning a public election? Keep in mind, the last Australian Prime Minister to fulfil their appointed term, was John Howard (who lost a public election to Kevin Rudd back  in 2007).

Abbott V TurnbullThese are the leaders of our country for goodness sake!  This is the example that is being followed by Australians everywhere…and this is a huge problem.  As a nation, we are settling for and allowing selfish, ambitious people with no regard for the greater well being of Australian people, to set examples that will lead to more and more Australian people functioning on a selfish, ambitious level with no regard for those affected by our selfishness.

Tony Abbott’s speech identified that “Entitlement” is now a huge problem in Australian culture.  We have too many people, that feel too entitled to hold positions they have not earned and have not been appointed to, challenging those that have, because they feel like they are entitled to what another has.  This really is a modern, cultural problem that our grandparents and those before them would never have settled for.

Sadly, we often see it in churches too.  If the church structure allows it, we see leaders taken out by disgruntled power players with no regard for the lives or families of those leaders or how they will be affected by this political nonsense.  If the structure doesn’t allow this kind of pathetic behaviour, we see people rally church goers around them, and all leave together to start a new “church“.  And if they can’t rally enough people, they just leave and sledge the church leader they left, attacking their reputation and character in the hope that they will be able to bring the leader down from outside because they could not from inside.

This is sad, and has nothing to do with the life of the One we as Christians claim to follow.  Jesus was selfless not selfish and his only ambition was to do exactly what he saw his Father doing.  If we as Jesus followers, were all consumed with only doing what we saw the Father doing, we would actually be living in one accord and wouldn’t be facing the ridiculous, disruptive disunity that has become all too common in way too many churches.

Maybe it’s time we as Australian’s break free of our “Tall Poppy Syndrome” and stop mocking and attempting to take out those who have the boldness and courage to lead us, and start supporting them, encouraging them and helping them to be the best leaders they can be…but then they do say, that most people have exactly the kind of leadership they deserve!

Whoever our Prime Minister is later tonight, I hope they are given a fair chance to establish a stable government that can actually lead our nation into a time of economic stability, productivity and launch us forwards, heading towards the kind of country we have the potential to really be…because we really do have the potential to be AWESOME!

(Photo courtesy of the ABC’s website)


Life…

I find myself sitting here this evening, very aware that two Australians (and six non-Australian others) were shot dead this week as punishment for crimes they committed.  I certainly do not want to discuss the politics of their executions, or whether it was right or wrong that they were executed.  Those are not the kinds of topics I wish to raise here on my blog page (particularly as it doesn’t matter what my views are, they will offend someone and I do not wish to start debates with anyone about such things here).

What I do want to say though, is that the Australian media have reported, that the whole group of men that were executed, faced their executions with the singing of hymns and that even in their last meetings with others in the holding prison, they broke into what was described as “a time of great praise“.  This must have been a significant part of what happened or I’m sure, it would not have been reported by a very un-Christian Australian media.

This made me think…these men faced death, with hearts of thanksgiving towards God…do I face life, with the same sense of gratitude?  They died singing of God’s Amazing Grace…what am I doing with my life?  

Last week I attended a funeral for my Grandma and it was such a privilege to hear some stories from her amazing life.  Stories that left me wondering then…will I have such stories of an amazing life at my funeral?

Life really is precious and an incredible gift.  I intend to make use of this life and to be sure to create some amazing stories that can be told at my own funeral when my time here on Earth comes to an end.  I just hope I can keep this intention clear in my head and heart, and don’t need to be reminded by the passing on of any others too soon.

The Salvation Army (my Grandma was a soldier, as are many of my extended family) have an excellent term that they use for passing away.  They call it being “promoted to glory“.  The Salvation Army flag draped over her coffin was emblazoned with those words, and for her, it sure was a promotion.  She is now free of all the limitations of a 96 year old body and is re-united with her beloved “Bert”.  I live with great hope and expectation of being reunited with them both one day, and I look forward to meeting some of those no longer with us here on Earth because of those executions this last week.

May all of their deaths, inspire my life, and may I live every day with vision, value and purpose…and you too.


Does it make you happy?

Too often I see believers waver through difficulty.  Somehow, we have bought the message that when we come to Jesus, everything will be easy and anything that is not easy is obviously “not God” and we should isolate ourselves from it.  A friend of mine summed this attitude up by pointing out that growing up, he was always asked “Does it make you happy?“.  If he was doing anything that didn’t make him happy, he was encouraged to just drop it and do something else.  What a life pattern!  Does your current job make you happy?  Does turning up to your sporting teams’ practice sessions make you happy?  Does changing your baby’s dirty nappies make you happy?  Imagine how many things in life we simply would not do, if the only criteria was whether or not it made us happy.

Sometimes in life, even with happiness being our ultimate goal, we subject ourselves to things that maybe don’t bring so much happiness at the time, but are part of a longer term goal.  For example, I’m sure most of us aren’t overjoyed at the thought of this month’s mortgage payment being deducted from our bank account’s hard earned dollars, but the concept of one day owning that home brings great joy.  If we don’t want to make mortgage repayments, the options are simple…we cannot buy a house, and will be equally displeased when paying our rent each month.  Home ownership, like many other good things in life, often requires a level of deferred gratification. We may have less available cash today because we are making a contribution to a greater goal, that will ultimately bring a greater return.

There is a term called “hyperbolic discounting” which describes why we struggle with this some times.  Hyperbolic discounting means that the further away in the future the reward is, the less inclined we are to be motivated towards it today.  Simply, most of us are looking for immediate, short term rewards to short term goals, and anything long term disappears into our “too hard basket“.  To overcome this problem, we need to find ways to keep the goal in clear focus and not allow it to disappear into the future.  How we do this can vary depending on the context.  For example, with regard to a mortgage, we may have a visible, wall chart that clearly shows how much principal and interest is being paid each payment, how much interest we will save by making extra payments and forecasting how long until we are mortgage free.  But what about something that we determine is even further away into the future?  Eternity!  We often don’t give it much thought today, because hyperbolic discounting says there are too many short term goals and objectives between now and then and we put it off thinking we will worry about that later.  That might seem like a good decision, but we need to constantly remind ourselves that often the longest term decisions have the longest term ramifications.  We get the incredible opportunity to live today, with eternity in mind.  The things we do today can have amazing benefits in our eternity if we invest our lives today wisely.  Alternatively, we can allow hyperbolic discounting to rip us off…but the rip off will last a very long time.

My encouragement to us all today is to live in the fulness of life today, for the fulness of time in eternity.  Get a hold of God’s pattern (found in his word) and live it to the fullest (in the power of His Spirit).  On those days when we are tempted to take an “easier” option and look to get on the path of least resistance, we should just commit to “making a mortgage repayment” and make a contribution into our own long term future and keep moving forwards in the radical faith adventure that Christianity really is.

 


“Prophetic” People = Happy People

It has been said that “Prophetic People” are those who see the future, prepare for the future and become the future.Windscreen View

With this being true, truly prophetic people should have the least amount of hurt and resentment in their lives.  Truly prophetic people have no opportunity to have a victim mentality or things to regularly complain about.

This is simply because, if we really are prophetically seeing the future, preparing for it and becoming it…we are always looking forwardsand nothing bad has happened to us there yet.

It is only when the focus of our lives looks backwards that we have anything to complain about or hurts that can lead us into a victim mentality.

This is why when writing to a group of new believers in the Roman colony of Philippi (Philippians 3:14), Paul encouraged them to look forwards, and keep pressing on towards the goal.  With our eyes firmly focussed forwards on a God given goal, that goal will become the clearest thing we see in our lives.  When we have opportunity to discuss things in life with others, guess what we are going to bring up…that goal.  We will not see opportunities to complain or “bag out” on others, we will only see an opportunity to reveal our passion for reaching the goal that God has set before us.  Every discussion we have, will be a motivating force that helps to keep us on course and heading directly at that goal.  In essence, many of the natural things happening in our lives, will become spiritual motivators that constantly launch us forwards in our spiritual life.  The inverse is also true…if we are always looking backwards, nursing our hurts and offloading about others at every opportunity, these discussions too, will launch us…backwards, into exactly the things we are wanting to get away from.

Have you ever noticed that the windscreen in a car is much bigger than the rear view mirror?  That is because we need to have the best view of where we are going, not of where we have been.  Our focus determines our direction and we need to ensure that our focus is always on Jesus and the things he sets before us.  We all have issues and hurts and offenses in our past, and it is very easy to get distracted and dragged back into them, but becoming a truly “prophetic” person will ensure that we are free from such painful distractions and are able to get on with preparing for and becoming all that God has designed us to be and set before us to become.

The future is bright people…let’s go!

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