#PRAY4SYDNEY

I don’t have the headspace to pen my thoughts on the current terrorism/extremist activity is Martin Place but I know what the best response is: prayer.

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Christmas come early

“There in the stores already” she was shocked, if not a little disgusted.

It was like she’d shown up for a sale, unintentionally skipped the line and was then was put out that eager shoppers who had lined up for hours were already in the store.

Christmas … how can the first signs of such a joyous season filled with disbelief and anger?

I admit, the gap between Easter and Christmas, the two defining Christian holidays seems to grow smaller each year. I also admit that may have something to do with my age and the inclusion of two small humans into my family unit.

Speaking of those small humans, aged four and two, they can’t wait for Christmas. The sooner the better and the longer it lasts, the better it will be. There’s something said for capturing the wonder our dear children hold.

I may be living in a dream but why aren’t we happy to see Christmas?

Think about it. Jesus was born. This is an epic time!

Forget the mass produced candy canes (which no one really likes but tolerates when taped to a corny Christmas card), advent calendars stuffed with preservative laden chocolates and canned snow marketers actually expect people to spray on their window regardless of the 35 degree heat during Australia’s December. The longer this stuff lines our shelf the larger our opportunity.

Embrace the cliches, welcome the carols … celebrate the life of Jesus for months not days!

Dear lonely ISIS soldier

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Dear lonely ISIS soldier,

I hope you don’t mind me using that term, soldier. This is how I see you despite how western media labeling you less than human; you’re fighting for what you believe in and a unified force … The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Like any soldier more common to my Western World, you support your leader wholeheartedly. Whether you have a long beard or not, this commitment must be commended. But I am writing this letter to you today to question this very commitment.

Do you really believe in what you’re fighting for? Do you think, no do you believe violence is the answer?

Please don’t get angry at my questions, what do I know? I’m just another man on the other side of the world trying to make sense of a world that is feasting on its inhabitants. Just take a moment to answer them; publicly, with your brothers or in your mind.

Our world view begins at a young age. I know mine is through the loving eyes of Jesus, what forms your world view? While on Jesus though, I want to apologize for the fallen humans that have failed to live up to their proclaimed faith.

Please put down the gun. It isn’t the answer. Love is.

Sadly it’s a foreign concept worldwide but it starts with one, one desperately lonely soldier surrounded by extremist blindly following a leader bent on revenge. Please Mr ISIS soldier, I know you have it in you, answer the question: Is love the answer?

Thank you for challenging me on my prejudice. Prior to answering my question myself I sat next to a man on the train and was nervous purely because of his beard and traditional clothing.

I am sorry so many of my brothers and sisters still judge you and I am sorry so many will continue to do so for a long time.

Love is the answer Mr ISIS supporter and it starts with us.

Love,

Mr hopeful Westerner

Thanks for baggage Dad

In a world filled with wounds, Fathers are blamed for many … and rightly so. The abusive father, the distant, negative, harsh, strict, adopted and possibly worst, absent. They all have a case to answer and as fathers we’ll all do.

Men, we all have baggage passed on to us; it’s like some unwanted ritualistic ceremony that occurs over many years without actually seeing a physical bag. No matter your experience though, Dad gave you baggage.

What you take or learn from it is up to you.

You don’t have to be the father your old man was, or make the mistakes he made. What man and father you are is up to you.

The baggage is a lesson; a warning in some cases but an amazingly detailed how to guide in authentic manhood in some other blessed cases.

I realise, sitting in the latter camp that these words are much easier to write but they are true regardless. Embrace your fatherhood wound, treat it and take seriously the lessons left. For you have already started giving your lessons or are preparing to do so soon. Make sire they’re good ones.

I have no wounds but a lesson I feel like a fail daily. My Dad was and is awesome, I still look at him in boyish amazement … can i earn that same respect from my children.

I will if I follow his lessons. Thanks for the baggage Dad.

Church culture – who owns, creates and is responsible for it?

I recently saw the quote “the culture of your church is a reflection of its leadership” it resonated with me and made me feel good … for a second.

I want to make one thing clear from the start, God is the leader and owner of every church, if you think otherwise stop reading now and celebrate the great work of community organisations owned by mere mortals. Church is more than a building, more than worship, a sermon series or a pastor. Church is a collection of God’s children.

Now back to the quote. As mentioned above, it made me feel good but that feeling passed quickly. I soon discovered that I was feeling good because I was not only shirking responsibility but loading blame on others.

It is only fair that I mention it now that my home church is facing leadership struggles and this undoubtedly influences my thoughts. Regardless, I want to challenge the statement that culture reflects leadership.

Sure leadership is going to influence the culture like it does every aspect of the church but no more than it does influence the choice of worship music and the colour of paint on the walls. Maybe it will help if we define culture: the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.

Clearly we all have a role is creating and cultivating our church culture.

Every interaction that is made, welcoming that is given or not, prayer that is offered (public and person alike), and word that is spoken have an impact and influence of your Church’s culture. In the same way that this blog post and my thoughts on the topic will be reflected in my influence on my Church culture.

Lord, I pray that I and everyone who reads this is encouraged to take responsibility for the culture that surrounds them. I pray they realise their impact, positive and negative and that to hold one person or a group of leaders accountable for Church culture is not how you intended Church to be. Thank you Father. Amen

Australia: Land of the fair gone

Australia is a young nation, it cannot be argued. You could even go as far as saying that we are still finding our feet.

A nation born of petty criminals dragged from old mother England against their will. Australia is known as the land downunder, a place to start again and where dreams come true. But can Australians still rely on their mates?

Is it now every man for himself?

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Are we still the land of the fair go?

As a nation we voted in a political party who championed the phrase “stop the boats”, the divide between rich and poor inevitably expands and have you noticed how hard it’s become for how beloved charities to get people to donate or “help a mate out” as it may be.

Perry Como and The Jets sung “Love is what makes the world go round” but that was in 1958 and in America “the land of the free”. Fast forward forty-five years and it is my personal opinion that like most developed nations, Australia is ruled by greed.

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Money is driving Australia and the ones who have it are at the wheel.

With what evidence can you make this claim you ask … Immigrants now face tougher conditions to enter the country and life for them is hardly ‘fair’ once they’re accepted, the cost of real estate and the financial benefits to investors are killing “the great Australian dream” and the backbone of our community (as I see them), teachers, are still not valued by Australian society.

Do I need to continue?

I won’t … but the question is still being asked and the discussion will undoubtedly flow. If you’re keen to listen and take part Wesley Mission are holding a discussion panel 20 March 2014, tickets are $20 and available here.

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Follower or fan

I’ve always considered myself a Christian.

It sounds crazy when it is put  in writing but when I think about it, it is mind blowingly crazy. I believe that God, the creator and king, sent his son in human flesh to show us all first hand, how to live and to love. I also believe he was killed an innocent man to take away my sin and that miraculously, he rose three days later.

I believe that death could not hurt him, I believe that his ‘way’ is ‘truth’ and through him, I believe we have ‘life’. That makes me a disciple … doesn’t it?

I began a study series with a group of my closest friends cum family last night on Francis Chan’s book, now movement, Multiply. Francis asked the same question I did above, “Do you consider yourself a disciple?”

We we took a look at the dictionary definition …

Disciple: a follower or pupil of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.

… I was confronted with what I have now accepted as truth. I am not a follower of Jesus but a fan of his work.

The disciples of Jesus followed him like the plague, they were never far from him physically but hang on each and every one of his teachings. They strictly obeyed his command to share the good news with the world and as a result, became more like their teacher and leader with each day.

In contrast; I go to church most Sunday’s, pray with varying levels of motivation and periods of time in between and find myself leaving my faith out of conversations (rationalised by saying that I’m trying to spread his love in relationships) rather than adding it in … every chance that I get.

“Like a Jesus groupie?” someone asked.

“Not even” The truth hit hard. “If Jesus were a band, I wouldn’t even be at his live shows.”

Can you remember the last time you laid an hour down for the Lord? I don’t even want to mention laying down a day, week or year.

As it turns out, I am a massive fan of his work, I really enjoy hearing about what he is doing and from time to time I’ll tell others of my ‘favourite band’.

I still consider myself a Christian but also a fan who wants to get closer to his idol.

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Love yourself and you’ll find you’re not alone

First of all l want to take the opportunity to say that I realise low self esteem isn’t something we choose. It is however all too common in our world not to fight the negative effects it has on our neighbours.

Dear neighbour, are there mirrors in your house?

Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t an accusation of hypocrisy. Just an honest question. If you’re one of the billions to label themselves ‘ugly’, ‘fat’ or a combination of both, you’ll not only know exactly where each mirror is but the location of every surface.

I urge you to take a good look in the biggest mirror your own.

What do you see? Take another look and this time seek the reflection just past the hideous monster you saw previously. Discard the opinions of the world along with your pre conceived thoughts on your own appearance.

Two eyes, two ears and a nose and a mouth, you’re blessed beyond belief.

You have sight, sound and the ability to share your thoughts. The emotional walls you’ve built around yourself are not required. You don’t have to do anything yet your heart beats and your lungs fill with air. You are beautiful, made perfect in creation.

What do others think of you?

It would be perpetuating a cliché to say “it doesn’t matter what other people think” or to “not worry about it”, so I won’t. The reality is that we have been made to live in relationships, to share our thoughts, emotions and lives. What those close to you matter, I get that but I also know life is a battle if you cannot rise above it.

The world doesn’t hate you!

Despite what has happened in the past and what you believe people think of you, the world doesn’t hate you.

So here’s the challenge…

Look into that mirror and find something to love about yourself … anything. It is my hope that this seemingly insignificant finding will be the start of much bigger journey in your life. A journey of discovery, healing and growth. A period of life that will redefine the way you think about yourself, the world and the people around you that previously controlled your emotions.

I’ll end this in the same way the great NYC preacher, Carl Lentz, begins his messages “turn to the person next to you and say you look awesome today“.

Never underestimate the effect you have in this world!

Doubt fueled parenting

Do you think all men are capable of being great Fathers?

Like any job, there’s a required skill set  The question is, does it come naturally or do we require development?

In terms of experience, I am well and truly a rookie. But with only two children and two and half years experience, I feel better place than many. I’ve been blessed with two great role models. The first is own father, a man seemingly without fault. The second, God. One, truly without fault.

Despite this, I’ve had moments, some as recently as this morning  where I doubt my ability to be a father. I know doubt is natural, but it still makes my stomach turn.

Fatherhood is hard enough, let alone with added stress.

dadMy Dad’s strength came from his marriage. Sure, my mother and him had fights, but they were always calm and rarely in front of us kids. When we squabbled  they were always on the same side, the same can be said of when discipline was dished out. They were a team.

Above all, we always felt loved. It wasn’t always physically shown or verbally expressed for that matter. It was however, always felt. I guess that’s the best illustration I can give of both, their parenting, and the power of love.

My point being, I’ve always believed my Dad was purposefully created to be a father. Myself, on the other hand … I’m not so sure.

Parenting will, no if’s or maybe’s, be stressful. You will worry and if you’re anything like me, you’ll doubt your own ability.

Take hold of this doubt and use it as your fuel, driving yourself to be the best parent possible.

You are not paid financially for it, but being a parent is a job. One you cannot quit, avoid or run away from. The question is, would you retain your role if you had to re apply?

Think about it. Your children could be on the selection panel. They’d scrutinise your every move  you character traits, the way you teach and, you guessed it, your discipline techniques. Are you the best role model for your children?

I love to say I’d be a shoe in to retain my role, but I’d be lying if I didn’t share my doubt.

If you too, are nervous about re applying for your role as a parent, take your doubt as a sign that you care. You understand the importance of your role and care deeply for how you do it. We all have faults and we will all make mistakes, but life, like parenting, is about how we use our strengths to recover and learn from our failures.

The re application process will take place at the end of the month. Treat every day until then like an interview, only the best will keep their jobs.

If you’re not a little nervous or have 100% confidence in your ability … please, share your secrets!

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Three words for 2013

Chris Brogan, editor of “WORK BETTER, BE BRAVE,and Tell Bigger Stories” and CEO of Human Business Works thinks of three words to concentrate his efforts every year. He refers to the process as, turbo charged goal planning. 

“The concept of the three words is like the path. Think of a word that gives you the HUGE picture, not the small picture.”

Seeing the impact the concept has had for Chris, and now, many more. I thought I’d be crazy not to give it a go.

Despite the fact January as almost entirely passed, and I haven’t chosen any of my ‘directional words for 2013″, my first isn’t tardiness. Being punctual, is something one can not hold on to too tightly when you have newborn at home.

Enough, here’s my three…

Grateful Grateful. For my life, that’s every breathe. Not just the ones that come post workout, but my waking moments, those short breaths while stressed and the long deep snores while sleeping. Living in such a blessed surrounds, life is too often, taken for granted.

Prayer

Prayer. It is something I commit to daily with my daughter, it’s part of her bed time routine. But, before you commend me for being such a good Christian father, I must share … I often do not pray. I have been given the amazing ability to talk to my creator and lord, still I am silent. This silence leaves me without direction, as a result, I am lost.

Words

Words. An unusual choice for someone actively writing a blog posting, I agree. But something that will motivate, inspire and hopefully create a lot of joy in 2013. I find peace while I write. It doesn’t have to be much a handful of words on a note to a friend is all it takes. I don’t want to downplay the significance of successfully articulating a thought. Heavens knows I have far more off paper than on.

So there’s my three words. In prayer I will be grateful, and of fruits will be written her. Finding sense amongst a senseless world.

This year, Chris has chosen Walt, Ender and Monchu (I’ll let him explain). Find your three words, and direction for 2013. Share your words in the comments below, discuss them with a friend or yell them out a bus window … whatever you do, commit to them, make them work in your life.

SENSE