Category Archives: Personal Thoughts

The Power of Passion

I was chatting with a parent of one of our young people recently and they were telling me about the hours of committment their son was putting into his beloved motor sport. He was required to work from 10:00am until 2:00am and to work hard. Exposed to extremely high pressure, demanding circumstances, unexpected challenges, unpredictable weather conditions and many other kinds of daunting obstacles to their attempts at success. And all at his own personal cost…not only did he not get paid a cent, but he was required to cover all of his own costs.

I have to say, I was impressed by how hard they work to overcome all these challenges and always do their best to succeed. Now I am a motorsport fan, but even as a fan, I was also challenged by how these teams can require such total, sold out committment from young people…and get it!

If we asked for this kind of committment from any age group in our church, we are labelled “legalistic” or “demanding” or “controlling“…and yet in motor sport it is perfectly normal and acceptable.

In many sports, such practices are fine. It is nothing to be told by a coach, that if we want to play the game on Saturday, we are required to attend mid-week training sessions…every week, rain, hail or shine! (And we should…be very wary of those who consider themselves too good for training and just move on to an option that allows them to play without training!)

In fact, it is also normal practice in our work places. If we want to keep our jobs, we know exactly what time we are required to arrive, how long we have to stay and what we should be doing between those times. We commit to fulfilling those obligations and dedicate 5 or 6 days a week to them, sowing all our available (and required) time and energy into our workplaces.

I would love to think we are that dedicated to our workplaces or even maybe our employers, but I have been around long enough to know, that what we are really dedicated to is those funds that turn up in our bank accounts each month. This explains our dedication to our work places, but what about our sporting clubs and other places we freely give our lives away with no thought of “legalism“?

Getting back to my young motor sport enthusiast friend, I asked his parent how the teams involved got such committment from young people with so little return. The answer was a resounding “This is his passion“. He radically sows his life into a motor sport team, because motor sport is his passion and where he intends to one day build a career. In this stage of his life, he gives away whole weekends and countless other hours, investing thousands of dollars into cars and other equipment all because he is passionate about his sport. In the future he will give away even more and more of his life to this sport in return for funds arriving in his bank account and if he gets good enough at it, some fame.

Whilst this is somewhat admirable, the question must be asked, “What is my passion, and is it worthwhile?”. I guess if we are going to have a career, it is best to have one we enjoy and are passionate about. This will seemingly lessen the “cost” of our chosen career on our lives, but the reality is that even the best career doing something we absolutely love, is still only temporary. We are willingly, tirelessly and endlessly, sowing our lives into something that will count for absolutely nothing in eternity. And yet, if any of our church leaders asks us to get involved and serve, we cannot commit to a team because we are too busy with all of our other life committments. If they ask again, we label them “legalists” and withdraw to continue selling our lives to the highest bidder.

My question is this: “Why are we not as passionate about Jesus as we are about things like sports and careers?“…after all, he really is, the highest bidder! The only answer I can think of, is that we are not living with eternity in mind. We think we will worry about eternity in eternity and live this life for this life. The Bible (I know, how dare I bring that into anything!) teaches that the purpose of this life is to invest it into the next life. How we live now (where we invest our lives) will affect the quality of our eternity. We are taught that we can make choices to invest our Earthy lives into our eternal lives. We can live now, in such a way that our eternal life will be even better! But if we miss this truth and just live this life for this life, we miss the greatest opportunity we will ever have to impact our own lives…for the longest time. We may think we need our careers to provide for us in this life and things like superannution to help us take care of ourselves later in life, (and those are good and recommended things!) but what about after that? If we think that is the end, it is understandable that we would sell out for this life, but if we understand there is life to come after this one, it really does change the way we think about this life. 70-100 years is an extremely short time in an eternal context. Why would we waste them investing only into them, when we can choose to invest them into eternity? Only because we are not living with eternity in mind!

Andrew Carnegie said this: “And here is the prime condition of success, the great secret – concentrate your energy, thought and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged. Having begun on one line, resolve to fight it out on that line, to lead in it, adopt every improvement, have the best machinery, and know the most about it. The concerns which fail are those which have scattered their capital, which means that they have scattered their brains also. They have investments in this, or that, or the other, here, there and everywhere. ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ is all wrong. I tell you ‘put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket.’ Look around you and take notice; men who do that do not often fail. It is easy to watch and carry the one basket. It is trying to carry too many baskets that breaks the most eggs in this country.

Jesus teaching in the Bible agrees. He said “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all the rest will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33). Jesus says put all your eggs in one basket, but make sure that basket is going to last for all eternity, by making it the one who made eternity. He also taught, that when we do that, he will take care of us in this Earthly life too. When we spend all our time trying to take care of our own Earhtly lives, we are proving that we don’t really trust his ability to do so (even if we say we do) and think we will be better of relying on ourselves. We get distracted and caught up in temporal things…at the expense of eternal quality.

We need a modern church that is sold out again to seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and whose primary passion in life is once again Jesus Christ. We need believers who are more committed to Jesus than their employers or their sporting coaches and will invest their lives in the many ways Jesus teaches us to instead of spending them on our own gain and Earthly interests.

We need to learn to live again, with eternity in mind.


Merry Ministry Christmas…

Merry Christmas

Here I go, breaking one of my own rules…never write a blog on a Monday…but as I sit here thinking about this time of year, I just really wanted to take a moment to wish all the pastors around the world a Merry Christmas.

You see, I know…

  • You spend all year working six, full days a week seeing those in your churches through some of their biggest issues and problems in their lives.
  • You have many sleepless nights throughout the year, praying for some of those people interceding on their behalf, for their future.
  • You are expected to spend every waking hour making everyone else feel loved and appreciated whilst feeling completely unloved and unappreciated yourself.
  • You put many, many hours each week into preparing yourself to stand in front of a room full of people (many of which don’t even like you and are eager to analyse, criticise and judge your efforts) and deliver an encouraging, yet challenging word from God’s word.
  • You spend hours just on working out how to package and present that word in such a way that people will be able to hear it and apply it.
  • You and your family often pay a huge relational price when people don’t receive you or your teaching well.
  • You often spend your day off wishing you had said this, and hadn’t said that, and wondering how that is going to affect Mrs. so and so.
  • You spend hours every year listening to people tell you how to do your job better (even though you never once told them how to do theirs!).
  • You cop the odd spray, when people feel the need to let you know that you aren’t living up to their pastoral expectations and they don’t feel loved, appreciated or cared for.
  • You often go unpaid only to have people accuse you of mishandling church finances or obviously earning too much because of your nice car or “holidays” you go on all year.
  • You spend your whole year (24/7) living in a great big fish bowl (or maybe behind a drum screen!) where everyone can see everything you do and often feel free to sit around with others and discuss it accordingly.
  • You are expected to be an agent of God’s absolute grace…all day every day…distributing it freely to everyone who needs it…though rarely receiving any such grace in return.
  • You and your family probably can’t afford to have the kind of Christmas everyone around you is, because the finances are always worse during November – February.
  • You are calling as many people as you can to let them know you appreciate all they have done this year…though you won’t get many similar calls yourself.
  • You are told that your blessing will be in Heaven one day…and that is supposed to cause you to tolerate everything that people throw at you all year and all you go without because of your role.
  • That this list could go on for hours and still not cover all that is required of you…and that you feel like all of these points are real for you at some point in the year, even if they’re not.

Well I just want you to know…

That I read some of your blogs, tweets, books, webpages and listen to some of your on-line preaching and podcasts and I give to some of your online giving webpages and I appreciate what you have done to make such things available to others like me.  I appreciate every one of the above points (even though not all may be relevant to all) and I very much appreciate that most of you live sacrificial lives all day every day, thinking of everyone but yourselves and that you pay a huge relational and financial price for the life you lead.  I appreciate all that you go without to do your best to make others’ lives better (even when they reject you, despise you and leave you).  I appreciate the time you spend focussing on the needs of others above your own.  I appreciate the hours in your study of prayer and preparation and the hours of stressful presentation you do every single week for the benefit of others.

I appreciate the price you are paying and I hope that this Christmas for you, is the best it can be.  I hope you get some time with your own, real family and that they love on you and spoil you and that you get to enjoy some refreshing time with people who actually genuinely love you.  I hope you get to share the love of Jesus with some who share the love of Jesus with and for you!

Thank you, for everything you do!

Now maybe I’ll go back to not blogging on a Monday.


Communication…

mobile-phoneWe live in a time today, when communication has to be the easiest it has ever been.  And yet, our communication is often not the best it has ever been.  Seriously, we have communication devices in our pockets right now that have more power than the computers used to land a spacecraft on the moon and they are hooked up to a global network of communication towers that can beam our calls, texts and emails around the world in milliseconds.  Our computers and tablets are hooked up to a global network that can share our images, videos, emails and other forms of communication with pretty much anyone almost anywhere in the world.  Yet how much communicating are we involved in?  Do our friends know they are our friends?  Do our families feel connected?

Global communication today is so simple and we have devices at hand all day every day that can actively facilitate this for us, but are we taking advantage of them and using them wisely to stay in real relationship with those in our lives?  Most often at best, we seem to use this technology to maintain the illusion of relationship with those no longer in our lives.  We have chosen to no longer have these people in our lives, but use things like Facebook to ensure we are up to date with their latest information and to pretend our relationship is real.  We can live in isolation as far as any kind of accountability or responsibility goes, but feel like we have an amazing, global network of “friends“.  This involves no real relationship and certainly no facility for anyone to actually speak into our lives in a confrontational manner to assist us in becoming all we can be.  We can hide all our real needs behind our keyboard and portray whatever kind of persona we wish.  No one out there in tech-land has any idea of what is really going on in our lives and cannot connect with us in any kind of real or meaningful way.

We call this community and pretend we have thousands of friends, but there is absolutely no depth or real connectedness.  This is not the kind of community that Jesus taught in the Scriptures and it is not the kind of community we were designed to live in.  Maybe it’s time we picked up our mobile communication device and actually placed a personal call to a real friend or family member and actually had a real conversation…that connects at a heart level…is honest, revealing and real.  Maybe it’s time to stop listening to all the talk online and get involved in some real, personal conversations where we can’t hide behind a keyboard or screen and actually open our hearts with one another…time to get honest and deal with our hurts and offences and actually learn to forgive one another and redevelop some positive relationships with real life people.

It really has become too easy to just ignore a text or email and not even bother to reply.  People take the time to send a text to invite us to join them in some real, personal relationship and because the setting or time doesn’t suit us, we don’t even bother to take a few seconds to reply.  Strangely, these are often the first people to complain that no one bothers to maintain relationship with them too!  It’s too easy to sit in our homes waiting for the world to stop by our little patch of cyberspace and not venture out into the real world to really connect.

We have so much in our hands and readily available to us today…all the tools to succeed are there, ready to be used…maybe we just need to adjust our hearts, to be prepared for real, personal relationships again?  It is risky, we may get hurt, but we will grow and flourish and even have opportunities to connect with some amazing people in life changing ways.  Go on, I dare you…be real with some one today!

Cell-Phones


A Tear Or Two Today…

This is one amazing man.

His name is Ken Peeke and he is my grandfather. Last night at nearly midnight, Grandad was, what the Salvation Army call “promoted to glory“. He was a hero in every sense of the word. He fought for his country, he taught the scriptures to many, he modeled them for all who knew him. He loved his family and everyone fortunate enough to have been a part of his life. I never heard him speak a bad word about anyone. He had a control over his emotions I have not seen in many, he lived in a peace that most will never experience and he brought it into every room he entered. He was focused, his mind was razor sharp, his wit was incredible. He was artistic and administrative and constantly put both to good use to change the world for many. He laid down his own life to serve others and served his King every day. His sense of humor…well, if you knew him, all I’ll say is “Two pounds of sausages and a packet of clisps” and you’ll be there with me.

I sincerely hope that many of Grandad’s amazing characteristics will live on in me as they do in others. He has contributed richly to who I am today and invested in me in ways most will never know.

I preached the best I could this morning mate knowing it was probably the first time you actually got to see it, and I will continue to do so every opportunity I get….I know I will have two amazing fans occasionally gracing Heaven’s balcony cheering me on. I hope I can do you proud.

We’ll miss you mate, but only for a while. Enjoy your eternal rewards you’ve sure earned them.


Is The Answer “Yes!”?…

I have just finished reading an amazing book called “The Christian Atheist – believing in God but living as if He doesn’t really exist”.

All I can say is WOW! What a challenge.  The author Craig Groeschel really throws down the challenge of living a life that reflects our belief in God…and yet it is so gracious and personally real.  He shares his own life lessons and mistakes in such an open and honest way that it is truly inspiring.

One of his stories is about a man whose life was radically impacted by the church.  He was reached by a loving community and heard about and accepted the love of Christ and his life situations and circumstances were very deeply affected by his choice.  In response, he approached his pastor saying “The answer is yes…now what is the question?“.  This was a man making himself, his life and his resources radically available because of the radical change in his life (for further details of that story check out the chapter “When You Believe In God, But Not His Church).  This is just one illustration of a believer moving from what the author shares as a “first line” Christian to a “third line” believer (see P233 for a description of this).

The whole book is full of freeing truth and examples and illustrations from the lives of those who have responded rightly and embraced the incredible changes as a result and some who did not.  It is not a “Western culture friendly” read that’s for sure…but if you’re serious about living a life that reflects your Christian beliefs…get it and read it…again and again!

If you’re not a believer and want to know what Christian living is all about, this is also a great read for you.  You will be introduced to many foundational Christian beliefs and have them explained…and in absolute honesty you’ll read about some of the differences when the believers get these things right and when we unfortunately get them wrong.  A read of this may help you understand the nature of God that you desperately want to know but don’t always see in His followers.

Check it out…I dare you!


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