Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Hidden Lesson : )

Here is a test of your cunning and intelligence...

Passing requires only 4 correct answers....a measly 40%. Thats a breeze for someone of your intellectual capacity (you are reading my blog after all!)

1) How long did the Hundred Years War last?
2) Which country makes Panama hats?
3) From which animal do we get catgut?
4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?
6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific is named after what animal?
7) What was King George VI's first name?
8) What color is a purple finch?
9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?

All done? Check your answers below! Scroll Down

No cheating... have you written down your answers?


1) How long did the Hundred Years War last?
116 years
2) Which country makes Panama hats?
3) From which animal do we get catgut?
Sheep and Horses
4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?
Squirrel fur
6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific is named after what animal?
7) What was King George VI's first name?
8) What color is a purple finch?
9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
New Zealand
10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?
Orange , of course.

What do you mean you Failed ??????

I suppose this teaches us a very important lesson... at the outset, these questions appeared to be no brainers, when in fact they were tricky little devils!

I wonder how often I have made assumptions, judged a book by its cover.

How many people have I simply looked over, assuming that they will be a certain way / not be a certain way?

How many potential leaders have we simply brushed over because we believed them to have little to no potential?

How many of our non-Christian mates have we simply not invited to church / life group because we assumed that they would say no?

You know what they say about the word assume hey... it makes an ass (out of) u (&) me!

May God help you to place a '10' on everyone's heads...

to see the best and not the worst of who they could be...

to see what they could be before others see...

I look forward to your comments!

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Makes You Think!

Rico asked me a couple of questions from his yesterdays blog on sin...
I began typing out all the answers... and then I stopped in my tracks thinking, 'what am I doing?!'

You say, what could possibly be wrong with answering a question asked of you...
but I began thinking about Jesus, and the way He ministered.

Jesus was asked 100's of questions... do you know how many He actually answered? (you'll be absolutely amazed by this answer!)
In fact, Jesus was really great at teaching with parables... parables that left his audience really stumped alot of the time! In fact... even His disciples often didn't get it. Jesus had to explain these parables to them after He had taught them to the crowds!
Check out these verses:
Mat 13:3, 9-11 ESV
(3) And he told them many things in parables, saying: ...
(9) He who has ears, let him hear."
(10) Then the disciples came and said to him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?"
(11) And he answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.

Why do you think that I haven't shown you the full scripture?
Why do you think that Jesus taught like this?
Should this still be a valid way 'teaching'?
Why do you think that we always feel like we need to give 'answers'?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts (& questions) : )

Saturday, 26 May 2007


I have just been listening to some podcasts... (aren't we so blessed to have these amazing resources available to us!) [There are heaps that you can download for free through I-tunes & individual church sites!]

"In every single relationship that you have, there is always only one common denominator... you!
... as much as we might not like it, I'm the only common denominator and I'm the one who needs to change."
Brian Houston

How are your relationships?
What are the common denominators in your relationships?
Are you waiting for others to change, or are you taking response-ability for the change in your relationships?
Should you even want change?

I look forward to your comments : )

Friday, 25 May 2007

God Speaks To Me In The Movies (Part 1 - Shooter))

I watched SHOOTER at the movies and thought I’d share a thought from the movie. Don’t worry I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t seen the movie by telling you what it was all about… except to say that it was a beauty!

Todays thought comes from a line in the movie: (the senator says it for those of you who want to watch out for it)

“There is always a man who thinks that he can actually make a difference in the world, and the only way to change his mind is to put a bullet in it.”

I got to thinking… how true this was. Look at anyone who has caught a serious vision and revelation of their mission from God: Martin Luther King Jnr… Nelson Mandela… Mother Theresa… JFK… Matthew Barnett… Brian Houston…

All these people are doing or have done amazing things… they have lived out their dreams…

Its easy for us to see their success and not realize what it took for them to get where they are. Martin Luther King Jnr received threatening phone calls daily… bricks thrown through their home window…

Mother Theresa left her order and on her own went down to India and began her ministry to the poor.

Every single one of these great people paid a heavy price… some even with their life.


How real is your call and mission from God?

What price are you willing to pay to see your God given mission fulfilled?

What are you doing today to see your God given mission become a reality?

What price have you paid thus far?

I'd love to hear your thoughts : )

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Scripture Saturation

In an effort to share with you the best (of my thoughts and readings), I have an awesome treat for you!

This is an article from Christianity Today. I found it an awesome read, I hope that you enjoy it too.
Just before we get there though... I thought that I should include what 2 of the 'bigger' words meant in the opening paragraphs:
allegory [(al-uh-gawr-ee)]
A story that has a deeper or more general meaning in addition to its surface meaning. Allegories are composed of several symbols or metaphors. For example, in The Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan, the character named Christian struggles to escape from a bog or swamp. The story of his difficulty is a symbol of the difficulty of leading a good life in the “bog” of this world. The “bog” is a metaphor or symbol of life's hardships and distractions. Similarly, when Christian loses a heavy pack that he has been carrying on his back, this symbolizes his freedom from the weight of sin that he has been carrying.

an·a·go·ge [an-uh-goh-jee, an-uh-goh-jee] Pronunciation Key
1.a spiritual interpretation or application of words, as of Scriptures.
2.a form of allegorical interpretation of Scripture that seeks hidden meanings regarding the future life.
[These definitions were taken from]

Well here we go... to the article:

Scripture Saturation
To achieve holiness, believed the early monks, you must soak in the moral sense of the Word.

A little-known monk living in the Egyptian desert at the end of the fourth century provided one of the most durable interpretive keys in the history of Bible study. The monk, named Nesteros, proposed that all of Holy Scripture is to be understood in four ways or "senses."

He explained this paradigm by examining the various meanings of "Jerusalem" in the Bible.

Jerusalem in its literal and historical sense, said Nesteros, is simply a city in the Holy Land. That is the Bible's first sense, its literal and historical meaning.

Besides this, however, Jerusalem is also a symbol (typos) of the Church, God's redeemed and sanctified people. That is its second or allegorical sense (Gal. 4:24—allegoroumena).

Next, Jerusalem is an image of the redeemed but struggling Christian soul; this is its third or moral sense.

Finally, Jerusalem is that heavenly city on high (Gal. 4:26; Rev. 21:2), the final expectation of our hopes, and this is its fourth or anagogical sense.

Nesteros's "four senses" became the foundation of all monastic reading of the Bible. It shows up absolutely everywhere in medieval theology. In Dante's fourteenth-century masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, we find the same scheme in use.

The Book that reads us

The history of monasticism owes most to one of these four senses: the moral. When church fathers and medieval interpreters spoke of the Bible's "moral sense," they expressed a conviction that God's unfailing word, precisely because it is fulfilled in Christ the Lord, is intended by the Holy Spirit to address the practical moral lives of those who are "in Christ." It is especially the Christian believer, they argued, who can most truly tell his heavenly Father, "Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path" (Ps. 119:105), because the Christian has been given, in the person and work of Christ, the Bible's true interpretive key.

Thus, whether in the pulpit or in other forms of pastoral teaching, teachers of the Bible continued for over a millennium to present the Bible, correctly understood in the light of Christ, as the ready and reliable source of moral guidance for those striving to live godly lives. Indeed, they discovered this interpretive principle explicit in the Bible itself, as when the apostle Paul taught that "whatever things were written before were written for our learning" (Rom. 15:4).

Certainly, this approach to Scripture was always understood to be valid for all Christians. But not surprisingly, we find a greater concentration of interest on this subject in the writings of monks, nuns, and other ascetics. These were Christians who felt called to a more intense life of prayer and virtuous striving, and their ancient monastic rules show how thoroughly biblical that quest was for them.

The preeminent example is the Rule of St. Benedict of Nursia (d. 547), which became the dominant monastic code of the entire western half of Christendom. In Benedict's rule the monk's entire waking day, roughly seventeen hours, was divided among three activities: manual labor, the prayerful reading of Holy Scripture (lectio divina), and choral prayer, especially the praying of the Psalms. Even while the monk ate his sparse meals each day, he listened to one of his brothers reading Holy Scripture.

The monks and nuns pursued their goals—purity of heart and the gift of constant prayer—by ingesting massive daily dosages of Scripture. They gave themselves totally to God not only by denying themselves and serving others, but by allowing themselves to become saturated in and absorbed by the power of God's Word. Monks took seriously that principle of Jerome of Bethlehem (347-419), who said, "To be ignorant of the Scriptures is to be ignorant of Christ."

Consequently, those men and women who centered their entire existence on the study of Holy Scripture, prayer, and ascetic effort, were bound to reflect more closely, and in greater detail, on the internal theological relationship between the understanding of Holy Scripture and ascetical striving for purity of heart. From both East and West, the treatment of this theme in monastic literature, though daunting in its sheer mass, remains instructive for Christians today.

The soul's mirror

The Bible itself provided the framework of the discussion. For example, Augustine of Hippo (354-430), who lived as a monk after his conversion and prior to his becoming a bishop, was fond of the metaphor in the Epistle of James: "For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was" (1:23). On many occasions throughout his voluminous writings, Augustine appealed to this verse in order to explain how the Bible functions as a spiritual mirror to reveal believers' true selves. His interpretation of this verse was taken up hundreds of times in medieval monastic and ascetic literature.

Studied as a "mirror of the soul," the Scriptures became immediately and directly applicable. To look into the Bible was to look at one's own inner biography, as it were. Indeed, the ascetics of old, when they read the Bible, perceived it to be a divine word directed to them in the concrete circumstances of their relationship to the Lord. They would have been shocked to hear Scripture described in modern terms as a "record of God's word." The monks believed its divine inspiration caused the Bible to be, rather, a living reality in the here and now. Biblical inspiration was not a one-time, over-and-done-with sort of thing; it adhered to the Bible as a permanent, living quality.

The written book was not active by itself, of course—no more than a sheet of printed music. In order to become alive, God's word had to take the living form of sound. In the patristic and middle ages, therefore, it was common and normal to read the Scriptures out loud, at least loud enough to be heard by the reader, even in private reading. "Faith," after all, "comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17).

All Bible reading was perceived to be, of its very nature, a true proclamation of God's word. The revered twelfth-century monk and teacher Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) reflected this ancient view when he said, "God spoke once, but His speech is continual and perpetual."

Bernard described the Bible as the liber experientiae, "the book of experience," because the Christian discerned in its pages the history of his own personal relationship to God. Adam's fall was the believer's own, but so too was David's repentance. God's choice of Isaac was the narrative of the Christian's own election. The Exodus was the account of his personal deliverance. The very sins of the Israelites in the desert were described in detail, so that Christ's striving servant would better avoid them. Indeed, "all of these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition" (1 Cor. 10:11).

Both Augustine and Bernard agreed with Jerome that "whatever was promised in a carnal manner to the people of Israel, we show that it is fulfilled in us in a spiritual manner and is fulfilled today." Did the Bible speak of a law, a manna, a holy city, a clean oblation, and a land flowing with milk and honey? These were but elements of the believer's daily life in Christ. Did it warn against the assault of Philistines, the invasion of Ammonites, and the siege of the Assyrians? These were the enemies Christ's struggling servant encountered each day, prowling through the recesses of his own heart. Did the Bible present a covenant to be ratified by the personal consent rendered in faith? That consent was required every time the believer opened its pages.

Origins in Origen

Although it was the monks and other ascetics who left us the greatest body of literature on this subject, there is nothing intrinsically "monastic" about this approach to Scripture. In fact, the monks themselves were aware of their debt, in this respect, to the non-monk Origen (185-254), teacher at the famed catechetical school at Alexandria.

The early monks, though they knew their debt to Origen, were often reluctant to admit it. Origen also dabbled excessively in certain philosophical questions and thereby got himself in trouble with the Church. For all that, however, he was recognized as an outstanding interpreter of the Scriptures, and even those monks who were careful never to mention his name were among his most ardent readers (Bernard of Clairvaux, for instance). For a long time, in fact, some of Origen's best works circulated from monastery to monastery under pseudonyms.

Origen never thought of himself as writing for monks, since monastic life in the third century was only beginning to take shape. He wrote, rather, for all Christians with a keen sense of their baptismal commitment to "put to death" those passions in their souls and bodies that would impede the new life of Christ within them. Such believers were determined to "seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God." Having died and hidden their lives with Christ in God, they set their "mind on things above, not on things on the earth." They were resolved to "put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him" (Col. 3:1-10). Where better to go for guidance, therefore, than to the Scriptures?

Over and over in his catechetical instructions, which were simply lessons based on biblical texts, Origen exhorted such Christians to go to the well of the Scriptures every day in order to draw the living water. His favorite metaphor for this daily discipline was found in those biblical stories where various women (Zipporah, for instance) met their bridegrooms at the well. If we go to draw from the biblical waters every day, said Origen, we will meet him. He will keep his appointment there with us.

Not an "easy read"

And how do we keep open and accessible the well of Holy Scripture, asked Origen, which is continually being stopped up and obstructed by the Philistines? We do it, he answered, by removing the vicious and selfish obstacles in our own souls. To dig into the Scriptures, he insisted, it is necessary to dig into our hearts, ridding them of darkness, purging them of vices, maintaining our minds in purity. Reading the Bible, therefore, involved a strenuous asceticism, because the understanding of God's word would certainly be distorted in a dark heart.

Without great ascetic effort, the Bible reader's understanding would remain at the level of the "letter," and we have it on good authority that "the letter kills" (Rom. 3:6). What was needed, then, was an ever deeper conversion of heart, a removal of the soul's veil, in order to disclose the inner Spirit of the Holy Scriptures (2 Cor. 3:12-4:6). Only the pure of heart could penetrate to this more profound level of biblical understanding, for only they can see God (Matt. 5:8).

Recovering unity

The greatest advantage of that spiritual approach to Scripture was that it recognized no real distinction between praying and Bible reading. "When you pray," Jerome had written, "you talk to God. When you read the Bible, God talks to you." Prayer and Bible reading were to be done simultaneously, like a conversation between friends. For several hours each day, the monk was to read Scripture in a meditative way called lectio divina, literally "divine reading." Slowly, with loving repetition, he pondered the power of God's word, tasting it in the palate of the heart.

Some monks literally learned the entire Bible "by heart," not only in the simple sense of memorizing it, but also in the richer sense of putting the whole content of the Scriptures into the treasury of his heart.

Day by day, as he chanted the Psalms with his brothers in church, the monk's conversation with the Lord continued, employing God's own inspired expressions in order to speak to Him. Praying through the entire Book of Psalms in this way each week, as the Rule of St. Benedict required, the monk kneaded the leaven of the Psalter into his mind.

As he walked from place to place, he brought up from his heart a favorite psalm and recited it once again. The monks compared this exercise to the cow's serene chewing of the cud. There was simply no such thing as too much Bible.

In this way, concentrating all of the spiritual life on the Holy Scriptures, the monk of old avoided those dichotomies that have become such distractions in modern life, like the separation of worship from study (especially theological study!) and the alienation of prayer from moral striving. Such dichotomies are clearly neither necessary nor especially healthy. Perhaps the example of the ancient monk provides us a fine model of how to correct these more recent problems.

Patrick Henry Reardon is a senior editor of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity ( and the author of Christ in the Psalms (Conciliar Press).

Related article: Origen's Monastic Legacy

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Laugh A Minute : )

Today I thought I'd share with you an awesome sight that has some of the funniest signs ...
I really believe that we need to take more time out to just have a good old laugh!
Pro 17:22 ESV
(22) A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

So here are a few of the best taken from thisisbroken

There is a lesson in all of this...
Think before you act!

Hope you enjoyed it : )

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Evaluate to Elevate

Today I just wanted to post one of the evaluation I tools I have been using in my life over the past 5+ years in my life.
These particular set of questions I hi-jacked from Bill Hybels (the Snr. Pastor of Willow Creek Church).
I try to at least weekly evaluate myself by going through a set of questions and checking out how I am doing... this helps me to re-adjust my focus for that next week.

ABIDING INDICATORS - I'm Not Abiding When:

1) I go through most of the day or week pre-occupied with self-concerns.

2) I go through long periods of time with no promptings or convictions from the Holy Spirit.

3) I through long periods without being concerned for the poor.

4) I go through long periods of time not being broken for the Lost.

5) I can sit through worship sessions without being stirred to
worship and honour God.

6) I'm easily angered when corrected.

Try this, and I'm sure you'll be amazed at not only how brilliant it is at looking backward at how you've done... but at how amazing this exercise is at focusing you for the future.
Enjoy it!

I look forward to hearing how it went for you : )

Monday, 21 May 2007

God Speaks To Me In The Movies (Part 2 - 300)

I have gotten a handful of lessons out of 300... here is one more: The 300 soldiers of Sparta became heros because they were willing to lay down their life in service to their king, Sparta & Greece. There is something within us that admires that quality... something of God, I believe!

Our King Jesus also asks us to lay down our lives:

Mat 10:38-39 CEV (38) And unless you are willing to take up your cross and come with me, you are not fit to be my disciples. (39) If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it.

However, for most of us... we will never be called to the sudden sacrifice of martyrdom... but rather the life long pursuit of God, where daily we make choices where we say, 'Not my will, but Your Will be done.'
I love this quote:

Fred Craddock, in an address to ministers, caught the practical implications of consecration. "To give my life for Christ appears glorious," he said. "To pour myself out for others. . . to pay the ultimate price of martyrdom -- I'll do it. I'm ready, Lord, to go out in a blaze of glory. "We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking $l,000 bill and laying it on the table-- 'Here's my life, Lord. I'm giving it all.' But the reality for most of us is that he sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $l,000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor kid's troubles instead of saying, 'Get lost.' Go to a committee meeting. Give a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home. Usually giving our life to Christ isn't glorious. It's done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at at time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it's harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul."

I hope this has encouraged you... as you daily make the choices, 'Not my will God, but Your Will be done.'

I'd love to hear your comments : )

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Becoming Like Christ

This simple quote... says a 1000 words:

"Gaze upon Christ long enough, and you'll become more of a giver.
Give long enough, and you'll become more like Christ."
Dixie Fraley

What are some of the ways that we 'give'?
I look forward to sharing your insights : )

Saturday, 19 May 2007

God Speaks To Me In The Movies (Part 1 - 300)

I am never ceased to be amazed at just how much Jesus speaks to me in the movies (and afterwards about the movie).
300 was a great epic, (although there were some dodgy scenes in the beginning)... I was so pleased I saw it on the big screen... it just wouldn't have been the same on my 22' tv at home!

There was heaps and heaps of lessons that I drew out of 300... but I'll stick with one for today:

I was amazed at a character called Ephialtes in the movie. In the film he is a hideously deformed, hunchbacked dwarf.
Ephialtes approaches King Leonidas, desperate to serve with him as the 300 Spartans face the hordes from Persia. He has alot of keenness to face those hordes... it has been his dream for so long.
The problem was however that Ephialtes could not raise his shield... and therefore he could not protect the man next to him. The Spartans were such great warriors because of this very fact... they worked together as a single unit (creating the Spartan phalanx)... each man responsible for the other... each man had the others back (theres a lesson right there!)
Because of this Ling Leonidas refused Ephialtes a position among the fighting men... although offering him a position to help removing the dead men off the battle field (a very important job - by the way - although not quite so glorious).
[Its like in church... host teams etc. aren't as glorious and glamorous as upfront ministry... but vitally important... in the Bible would say it is worthy of greater honour!
1Co 12:23-25 ESV (23) and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, (24) which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, (25) that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.]

Ephialtes who had declared his allegiance to the King, to Sparta and to Greece was so angry at this denial... his heart became so hardened and grieved... that he betrayed all!
We look at him with disgust and self righteous indignation. We feel nothing but contempt. We are disgusted.

But how do we respond when corrected, rebuked, or re-positioned?
How many people I have seen leave the church because they felt slighted... when they didn't like their positioning in the church... when they didn't like the changes they were told to make in their lives.
Their hearts hardened...
They spoke against their leadership and their church...
They pulled down Christ's church...
They left the church...
They never grew...
Some left the faith... some went to another church... only to go through it all again.
Heb 3:12-13 MSG (12) So watch your step, friends. Make sure there's no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. (13) For as long as it's still God's Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn't slow down your reflexes. Pro 13:1 ESV (1) A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

Hows your heart?
Are you happy serving in the position that you are in?
How do you react when you hear 'what you don't want to hear'?
How can we keep from becoming like Ephialtes... with a deformed heart?

I look forward to your comments : )

Friday, 18 May 2007

How To Write Good : )

Hey all... Sorry to have been absent for soooo long... I've been in Auckland for 2 conferences... and would you believe it... the hotel we were staying at didn't have the internet yet... GOOOOSSSSHH!

Anywho... I thought I'd pass on these thoughts from Ps Phil Bakers blog. Its all about how to write good : )
Hope you enjoy it!

  • Always avoid alliteration.
  • Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  • Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat.)
  • Employ the vernacular.
  • Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  • Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  • It is wrong to ever split an infinitive
  • Contractions aren't necessary.
  • Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
  • One should never generalize.
  • Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
  • Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
  • Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
  • Profanity sucks.
  • Be more or less specific.
  • Understatement is always best.
  • Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  • One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  • Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  • The passive voice is to be avoided.
  • Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  • Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
    Who needs rhetorical questions?
  • [These 3 posts Courtesy of Frank Visco.]
This was taken from Pastor Phil Bakers blog site

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Nothing But God!

Tonight I thought I'd just leave you with a simple... yet powerful thought:

In the beginning there was nothing but God.

Then God created a world - for it to perceive that there is nothing but God.

I'd love to hear your comments!

Saturday, 12 May 2007

God Speaks To Me In The Movies (Part 1 - The Prestige)

I have just finished watching The Prestige tonight for the second time. I definitely felt that it was my best movie of 06! It was simply... DELICIOUS!

In the film we see a character for only about 2-3 mins... his name is Chung Ling Soo. Chung Lung Soo is an illusionist... and commits his entire life to living out his 'act'. Below is a short description taken from Wikipedia:

Den Shewman of Creative Screenwriting says the film asks how far one would go to devote oneself to an art. The character of Chung Ling Soo, according to Shewman, is a metaphor for this theme.[7] Film critic Alex Manugian refers to this theme as the "meaning of commitment."[24] For example, Soo's pretense of being slow and feeble misdirects his audience from noticing the physical strength required to perform the goldfish bowl trick, but the cost of maintaining this illusion is the sacrifice of individuality: Soo's true appearance and freedom to act naturally are consciously suppressed in his ceaseless dedication to the art of magic.

Soo in the movie is depicted as a crippled old man... which is all an act which enables him to carry the bowl between his legs. The incredible thing though is that even when the show is done Soo continues on his act, walking around with a crippled demeanor. His entire life, every waking moment was committed to this cause... to pulling off this great illusion so that he could hear the applause of the crowd... so he could please them.

I was amazed at how far this man was willing to go to accomplish his purpose...
I suppose the entire movie is questioning 'how far we are willing to go'.

It kinda made me think... how far am I willing to go for my Cause?
What sacrifice, what amount of discipline am I willing to go to for my audience of one... Jesus Christ?
How far am I willing to go to please Him?
I am so challenged...

What parts of the movie spoke to you?
What comments do you have from this Blog?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

The Banality of Evil (by James Macpherson)

The Banality of Evil

The Nazi death camp at Auschwitz was not at all as I had envisaged it. For a start, it was bathed in sunshine.

I had expected Auschwitz, the concentration camp in which more than a million people were ruthlessly exterminated, to be covered in dark clouds, drenched in rain and buffeted by a bitterly cold wind.

But no. The weather was near perfect.

I had expected Auschwitz to be grotesque and ugly. In reality, it was almost pretty. The death camp's streets were lined with lovely trees, the grass was green and I'd have thought the buildings, had I been ignorant of their evil use, to be rather quiant.

As I walked the streets in which so many were slaughtered, I was reminded of the phrase Hannah Arendt used to describe Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann. She coined the phrase "the banality of evil" to describe his averageness.

She was shocked, when confronted by the Nazi war criminal, that he had neither horns protruding from his head nor a tail from his rear or pitch fork in his hand. Eichmann was a monster to be sure, but a very ordinary one. He was very much like any other man.

And this was the most confronting thing about Auschwitz. This place, where such evil was done, was not the edge of hell. Infact, it was just a short drive from the beautiful city of Krakow. I was standing where some of the worst deeds in human history were perpetrated, and yet I could very well have been standing anywhere. The dirt, the stones, the grass, the trees, the sun overhead ... they were all shockingly familar.

Sure enough, there was horror to be seen. The nearly 2 tonnes of human hair that had been collected from those marked for death; the mountains of shoes, bags, brushes and personal affects that had been taken from people who were told they were to be showered only to be gassed; The rows and rows of 'mug shots' - men and women, all of them with heads shaved - hanging along the corridors of the buildings. Someone's mother, father, daughter, son ... their fearful eyes, surely knowing death was imminent, following you as you walked the hallways.

But it wasn't the horror that shocked me; it was the ordinariness of it all.

Better if Auschwitz was on the edge of hell, then we could climb into our cars and tour buses (there were a lot of them) and drive far, far away. We could dismiss Auschwitz as a blip, something that happens on the edge of hades, but thankfully not in the real world.

And so I cursed the sun that shone where it ought not, making my day a pleasant one. And I cursed the leafy trees that made me admire them, even when everything within me wanted to despise everything around me.

What happened at Auschwitz was horrible, but I can't say Auschwitz was a horrible place. It wasn't some 'Bermuda Triangle' of evil that we could just determine to avoid from now on.

Alexander Solzenitsyn wrote in his classic work Gulag Archipelago: "Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor even political parties - but right through every human heart and through all human hearts."

Pogo put it more succinctly - "We have just met the enemy, and he is us."

The ordinariness of Auschwitz is what makes it a reminder, not just of what did happen, but more frighteningly, of what can happen.

Ordinary evil is indeed the most frightening evil of all.

This was taken from Pastor James Macpherson's blog site. It was just too good not to pass on!

There is a lot to ponder on this article... I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Thursday, 10 May 2007

The Romance With Status Quo

Have you ever noticed how quickly we 'settle in'... become comfortable... and are easily flirted by status quo?
I don't know about you... but too often I am aroused only to find myself in status quo's arms.
Too easily will I accept that certain things are just beyond me.

But doesn't Scripture say:

Romans 8:37 (New International Version)37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

So why is it that we feel so easily defeated, so very willing to embrace status quo, so very accepting that there are certain things that we just can not do.

How many adults are there without any education... who just believe that they could never do a higher education course? ... and so they don't.
How many parents are there that just never had the opportunity to read... and still believe that they can never read? ... and so they suffer shame everday.
How many Christians believe that God could never use them in XYZ... and so they never step out? ... and you guessed it, God never does anything through them!

I was watching 20/20 the other night and saw a piece on Mikes Maths. This guy is a maths genius who goes into schools and volunteers... showing kids how to work these systems that he has come up with that enables them to compute in their heads crazy maths problems like 56 x 56. After learning Mike's system, in about 10 seconds you could work out that multiplication problem (the answer by the way is 3136!).

I can hear you already... 'but thats impossible'... 'you must have used a calculator'... etc.
I can still remember the night I saw the show... I was excitedly tackling all sorts of crazy digited maths numbers... and was cranking out these wild answers that were actually correct. I was excited!
Now to put this in context... I flunked maths at high school... I was severly disinterested and was not a fan of my maths teacher. I had formed a mental block with maths. I went from achieving high 70's to failing miserably! I began to believe that maths was beyond me.
I accepted the fact that I just plain sucked at maths... until I watched the show...

I decided to give it a go as I witnessed these young kids solving these crazy sums. With intrepidation I worked out my first sum...
How freeing to cast off that old restriction... that misbelief about myself! I can still feel that excitment now!

What false beliefs do you need to challenge?
What is there waiting for you to break out of your old confined thinking?
What miracles lay before you?

Find one thing... and commit to spending this week breaking out of those confines... to walking on water... to see the miraclous in your life!

As always I look forward to your comments!

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Where Is Your Faith?

Kia Ora from Melbourne...
We've had 2 evening meetings and a full day of meetings. As always when you put yourself in this kind of enviroment... it is very challenging!

I wanted to say a very big thank-you to everyone who has been reading this Blog and espesially to you legends who are leaving comments.
May we sharpen one another!

I wanted to share on a passing comment that Danny Googs made about the 7 Stages of Faith that we as Christians move through:

  1. Comfort
  2. Connected
  3. Cause
  4. Committed
  5. Crisis
  6. Character
  7. Continue

Basically the idea is that when we come to church we are comforted and then connected into the church family. We then begin to pick up the Cause of Christ which leads to us being commited to Christ's cause. Then crisis comes which when navigated well leads to us developing character. Once we establish character we form the grit to continue on in the faith.

Danny suggested that too many people in the church get stuck at the first 2 levels... and this is why the church is the way it is.

What are your your thoughts on these 7 levels of Faith and where do you see yourself fitting in on the levels of faith?

Here's another question... what does it mean to pick-up the cause of Christ?

As always I look forward to your comments!!!

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

What's Your Tomorrow Like?

The world's most famous set of awards are the Nobel Prizes. Presented for outstanding achievement in literature, peace, economics, medicine and the sciences, they were created a century ago by Alfred B. Nobel (1833-1896), a man who amassed his fortune by producing explosives; among other things, Nobel invented dynamite.

What motivated this Swedish munitions manufacturer to dedicate his fortune to honoring and rewarding those who benefited humanity?
The creation of the Nobel Prizes came about through a chance event. When Nobel's brother died, a newspaper ran a long obituary of Alfred Nobel, believing that it was he who had passed away. Thus, Nobel had an opportunity granted few people: to read his obituary while alive. What he read horrified him: The newspaper described him as a man who had made it possible to kill more people more quickly than anyone else who had ever lived.

At that moment, Nobel realized two things: that this was how he was going to be remembered, and that this was not how he wanted to be remembered. Shortly thereafter, he established the awards. Today, because of his doing so, everyone is familiar with the Nobel Prize, while relatively few people know how Nobel made his fortune.

While most of us will not be afforded the opportunity that Nobel expericed, we certainly can reflect, and evaluate our lives... where they are headed... and where we would like them to go.

There is no truer saying than:

"What we do today prophecies our tomorrow."

What do you need to change about your today so that you can live out the tomorrow of your destiny?

Monday, 7 May 2007

Why The Bible ROCKS!

I'm off to Melbourne today to go to the Auzzie National Apostolic Conference. I will endeavor to keep posting daily... but if I don't quiet keep up, please do keep checking in. I'm sure I'll have lots of exciting things to share!

Today I wanted to share an exert from Rob Bell's book called Velvet Elvis (pg 59-60). Its a boomer of a book, and if you haven't already got a copy... go and get one!

So the exodus is the Israelites' story, but it is also our story. It happened then; it happens now.

In fact, in a Jewish synagogue to this day, you will probably hear kids taught the story of exodus as their story. A friend of mine recently heard a Jewish kid say, "We were slaves in Egypt and Moses led us out, and we complained in the wilderness."

This is why the Bible is still so powerful: These ancient stories are our stories. These stories are reflective of how things are.

And this is why the Bible loses its power for so many communities. They fall into the trap of thinking that the Bible is just about things that happened a long time ago.
But the Bible is about today.

These stories are our stories. They are alive and active and teaching us about our lives in our world, today.

The Rabbis spoke of the text being like a gem with seventy faces, and each time you turn the gem, the light refracts differently, giving you a reflection that you haven't seen before. And so we turn the text again and again because we keep seeing things we missed the time before.

I was talking to a pastor several years ago who was preparing a sermon, and I asked him if he was ready to give it. He said, "Oh yeah, I've got this passage nailed." How is that possible?

When you embrace the text as living and active, when you enter into its story, when you keep turning the gem, you never come to the end.

May you & I continually delight in God's Word with an ever increasing intensity as the days roll by!

I look forward to your comments!

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Ministering In The Spirit

As Pentecostals when we think of ministering in the Spirit, we think of people falling under the power of God... we think of people receiving words from God... receiving healings etc.
And while these are all valid and incredible ways of ministering in the Spirit... there is so much more.

Everyday we are ministering to people. Most of us aren't even aware of it.
"When was I on the stage preaching... when was I upfront praying for people... or counseling people?" I hear you ask.
We have such a limited view of ministering!

Think of the countless times you have approached a cashier... usually they aren't over friendly... their job is monotonous and they have to put up with grumpy customers.
You have several choices available to you:
  • You can totally ignore them...
  • You can get irritated with their vacant stare and disinterested state...
  • Or you can change their day... bless them... lift their spirits
In all these 3 examples, you would have ministered to that person...
The question is never 'did' you minister... but rather 'what' did you minister!

Gal 5:22-25 ESV
(22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
(23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(24) And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
(25) If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

We are called to minister love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...

When I go up to that cashier, whatever mood I am in... grumpy, uninterested, loving... that is the mood I will serve up to the cashier when they come into my 'space'.

Haven't you ever met people in a foul mood... it didn't take you 5 seconds to pick it up and it didn't take you 5 more seconds to react to their mood... to put your defenses up... possibly to even retaliate... joining them in their mood!
They served you up their mood.
And we can do the same! Except we have the opportunity to serve up 'God's mood' - the fruits of the Holy Spirit!

Next time you face that person in a fowl mood ask yourself, "How do You feel about this person Lord?"
"If I was filled with your love for this person... what would that feel like?"
"How would you like me to serve this person Lord?"
Can you imagine if you mediated on these questions / feelings how you would be able to serve up God's moods to the fowl mooded person. Can you imagine how infectious your mood would be?
Now thats being Jesus in the flesh to that person!

Let me ask you... what are you ministering?
To minister 'God's mood' all we need to do is switch our focus off of ourselves & others... and focus on God... & spend a few seconds meditating on 'His mood'.
Its that simple! I can do it, and so can you.

I challenge you to apply this challenge for just one day... and see how you can minister to people in an awesome way.

Let me know what you thought and how your one day challenge went!

My Next Messages

These are the thoughts I have lined up for the next few messages.
I'd love your thoughts and input into my messages!

Tackling the subject of burnout... and self leadership.
Is burnout caused by working too hard... or is it something else all together?
What is the cost of leading a visionary life?

Jer 12:5 CEV
(5) Jeremiah, if you get tired in a race against people, how can you possibly run against horses? If you fall in open fields, what will happen in the forest along the Jordan River?

Mat 10:37-39 CEV
(37) If you love your father or mother or even your sons and daughters more than me, you are not fit to be my disciples.
(38) And unless you are willing to take up your cross and come with me, you are not fit to be my disciples.
(39) If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it.

Grace but not as you know it... I'm not talking about the forgiveness stuff... I'm talking about having the KAZAM to live life out of God's strength and not ours! Stop trying in your own human wisdom and strength to live right... and live out of God's wisdom and strength.
How do we do this?

Php 2:12-13 CEV
(12) My dear friends, you always obeyed when I was with you. Now that I am away, you should obey even more. So work with fear and trembling to discover what it really means to be saved.
(13) God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him.

2Co 12:9 MSG
(9) and then he told me, My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness.

What am I ministering to the world... my moods or the fruit of the Spirit?
What I feel... I serve.
How can I get over myself and walk in these fruits of the Holy Spirit?

Gal 5:22-23 ESV
(22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
(23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Please don't forget to share your thoughts and input into my messages! ie. COMMENT!

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Can You Feel It?

I was privileged enough to spend 1 1/2 hours in the car today with Shane Willard

I thought I'd share one of the gems that we spoke about:

You can only serve what you feel...

ie. If you are in a really really foul mood... what do you serve up to people?
If you are really lost in your own self importance... what do you serve up to people?
If you are ecstatically joyful... what do you serve up to people?

If I am feeling miserable and depressed... is it possible for me to serve up joy to those I come into contact with (even if I do plaster on the fake smile and jovial platitudes)?
No... I serve up what I am feeling!

So how do we change our feelings?
We must meditate / think on the feelings that we are after!
eg. If I am stuck in traffic and I'm getting really ticked off... I am faced with some choices.
Either I can give into the irritation and become irate and do a whole bunch of things that I may later regret...
Or I can ask myself this question, "How does God feel right now?"
I then begin to sense God's calmness... peace...
I can then take that further by asking myself, "How would I feel if God's calmness and peace enveloped me right now?"

How do you think that you would begin to feel in this situation if you meditated correctly?

The western mindset has really scoffed at the whole 'feelings' thing... guys especially try and stay well clear of that subject. We have exalted the stoic philosophy's cutting out emotion and exalting logic...
But this is not the Eastern mindset (from which the Bible has been written) at all!
Its only in the western thinking that we could write a paper on God's attributes and think about grabbing a MacDonalds after...
An Eastern minded person would be caught up in the feeling of the majesty of God! Just look at the Psalms!

Anyway... I'm rambling now... just do yourself a favour... spend a few minutes... and begin asking God how He feels... about you! Get ready to have your world ROCKED!!!

If you tried the exercise... please leave a comment and let me know about your experience!!!

Doing God's Will

Knowing God's will for your life is all the rage now days... we all want to know what next steps God wants us to take as we journey through life... (and so we wait... and wait... and wait).

But how much does the Bible really talk about us 'waiting' on His will.
For example, Paul on his 2nd missionary journey in Acts 16 seems to more just forge a path, and if God doesn't open doors... then he tries else where.

There is far more in the Bible about God's revealed will... yet thats not such a hot topic. But we qualify ourselves for the specifics by following the general I believe.
So what is God's revealed will for all of us? I believe that there are 4 things that God wills of each of us:

1) To be sanctified (ie. that we live according to God's standard... esp sexually).
Check out 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 & 1 Peter 2:15.

2) To be joyful always through continual prayer and thanksgiving.
Check out 1
Thessalonians 5:16-18

3) That we be (daily) filled with the Holy Spirit.
Check out Ephesians 5:17 - 18

4) That all are saved (and therefore that I invest my life in sharing Jesus with others).
Check out Matthew 18:14 & 2 Peter 3:9

I have by no means made a comprehensive study on God's will... but I think what I have looked at thus far is worth thinking about.

Some questions for you to ponder:
  • How often in your life has God directly revealed to you what 'step' you must take next? (what could that mean in the light of our discussion?)
  • Do you think that God wants to lead your every step, or should we be taking initiative and looking for God's guidance as we move?
  • What Biblical evidence do you have to support your thoughts?
  • Why do you think that God chose these 4 things to be such a high priority for each of our lives?
  • Aren't these 4 our biggest struggles generally?
I would love to hear your ponderings...

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

10 Observations From Churches Who Get It

This is an article taken from Monday Morning Insight.

Ten Observations from Churches Who “Get It”

It has been my extreme privilege during the past month or so to visit some great churches… some churches that are really firing on all cylinders. I was thinking about my visits the past few days and decided that there were some similarities in these churches that I really should write down. At least six of these churches have reported over 250 decisions for Christ over the past year. In my opinion, with that many conversions per year, that should place these churches in at least the top 5% of churches who are making a real Kingdom impact in the country today. Here are some serious (and not so serious) observations about these churches:

1. Each church has a pastor with a vision. And it’s not just that these pastors have a vision… it’s that they have a gift for communicating that vision to their staff and their entire church. While it might not be a surprise to anyone that churches that ‘get it’ have pastors who ‘get it’, it is a glaring similarity among these churches: their pastors are great leaders with a great vision.

2. Each church hires almost exclusively from within. Most every staff member of these churches was hired from within. When asked if this was intentional, most said that it was. Here’s the deal: most of these churches do a tremendous job of training leaders and empowering people in ministry. When that happens, the cream rises to the top, and that’s how they find their best staff people. Most do not have church staff experience, but rather bring their expertise from another area of business or commerce. And, I have to say, these are some sharp people.

3. Speaking of staff, the staff of these churches ‘get it’ too. The staff in these churches are very loyal to their church and to their leadership. These are people that have a long history with the church; and they are totally sold on the mission, vision and values of their church. They also view their job not only as to serve God, and the church; but also to come along side and support the vision and leadership of the senior pastor. These churches have very loyal staff.

4. A larger percentage of their staff (or staff wives) are pregnant. Just an observation here… but there are a lot of staff pregnancies at these churches. I’ve done no official polling or investigation here… it’s just a trend I’m seeing in these churches that ‘get it’.

5. These churches and pastors don’t have a clue what they’re doing. No really… more than one of the senior pastors told me something to the effect of “I really have no idea what I’m doing.” But, they’re having a great time doing it! Most of these leaders have never led a church larger than what they’re currently pastoring. One pastor said, “I’ve never even attended a church like this one.” They expressed the amount of faith they need to place in God just to lead where they are. In other words, they don’t have it all figured out!

6. Since they don’t have it all figured out, these pastors all shared with me their desire to connect with other leaders who can help mentor them. Each and every leader I’ve spoken to has asked in one way or another, “Who are some people that you think I should talk with?” In other words… who are the people out there that can help mentor me? Another encouraging thing is that these pastors are also excited about mentoring others.

7. These churches are not shy about sharing resources. Each one of these churches that I visited share their stuff with others freely. These aren’t a group of stingy churches… they are sold on their mission; and at the same time want to help other churches and their leaders however they can. Some are becoming ‘teaching churches’ who actively put the ‘helping other churches’ right in their DNA as a part of their identity and mission.

8. Most all of these pastors are bloggers. Not sure what the correlation is here; but four out of the six senior pastors are active bloggers. Some blog more to their church audience; others blog for other church leaders. Many of these churches have multiple church staff blogs. And the influence of their blogs and voice is expanding.

9. These churches are not afraid to make tough calls. If they see a ministry that needs cut, they’ll cut it. A staff member that’s not pulling his/her weight? They’ll reassign them or help ‘free their future’. They are not afraid to make gutsy and/or controversial calls. And best of all, it is their vision and mission that make these decisions, according to them, much easier.

10. Numbers are important to them. Each and every one of them. Because each person represents someone that Jesus died for, they make an effort to count that person because that person matters. While numbers is not the end-all measurement; it does provide insight into the amount of ministry and serves as one stat to how well you are achieving your ministry goals. As I said, each of these churches have counted at least 250 conversions in the past year. That’s something to count and get excited about.

Am I saying that these churches are flawless? Not by any means. And their pastors would tell you the same thing. I am saying that after visiting these churches fairly closely together that these are some of the common threads that I see. Take them for what they are worth, and see how many of these things these churches have in common with your church. It could be an interesting exercise!

About the Author: Todd Rhoades is the Managing Editor and Publisher of (MMI as most of us know it). Besides spending a good amount of time maintaining this website, Todd is on the staff of Leadership Network, helping large churches to better connect, innovate, and multiply what they do best. Todd was also the founder of, until he sold the site in 2005. Todd lives with his wife, Dawn, and four children in Bryan, OH. He can be reached at

So how does your church rate?

I personally feel great about insight #5... its not the first time I've heard it, but it encourages me every time!

What are your thought on these 10 observations?

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Its About What You Do, Not What You Know...

This is a great article on cultivating generosity in your life... you can check other articles like these at the Ask Moses website.

Pushka Power
by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

What makes a Jewish house Jewish? Well, there’s a Mezuzah on the doorpost and books of Jewish wisdom on the shelves. Guests are welcome, and when a needy soul knocks on the door, he doesn’t go away empty-handed. And then there’s a little box or tin can sitting on a counter somewhere. Every day, a little spare change gets dropped in there, plus a few more coins just before Shabbat. When it’s full, it goes to whichever good cause the family chooses.

It could be there’s a top-of-the-line entertainment system in this house; maybe a leading-edge computer, along with many expensive appliances and gadgets. But none has as great an impact on people’s lives, or fills the house with as much meaning and adds as much beauty as the pushka (Yiddish for “little box”).

There are, of course, other ways to give charity. What’s so special about the pushka?

Every Day
“How often,” said the 12th-century sage Maimonides, “is more important than how much.”

Why? Because when you write a check for $365, a good cause gets another $365. But give a dollar every day for 365 days—and your hand becomes a giving hand. As an anonymous Jewish sage wrote, “A person is more influenced by the things he does than by the knowledge he is taught.”

We are no more than treasurers. Everything that comes through our hands is given us in order to use for good things
So if you want to pick yourself up, get into some elevated habits—like dropping coins in a box.

Holy Space
And it’s not just you—your pushka will pick up your living space as well. “A charity box in a home or office redefines the entire space,” the Lubavitcher Rebbe taught. “It is no longer just a home, just an office. It is a center of kindness and caring.”

That is why the Rebbe suggested making a pushka box a permanent fixture in your home or office. Affix it to a wall, or more correctly: affix your house to it.

High Time
Then there’s your time. Time needs to be elevated, too. One action elevates the time in which it was done. Many actions—even if they are small—elevate so many more moments. That’s why the Baal Shem Tov taught, “Don’t let a day go by without its own act of giving.”

The Kabbalists refer to this as “elevating time, space, and person.” Or you can just call it “making a better world.”

No Charity, Please
Charity, everyone knows, means being a nice guy and giving your money to someone with less. That’s why, in Jewish tradition, we never give charity. It’s unheard of.

Our sages teach that whatever we have doesn’t really belong to us. We are no more than treasurers. Everything that comes through our hands is given us in order to use for good things, such as educating our kids, or nourishing our body with Kosher and healthy food, or giving to people who are short on what they need.

That’s why in Jewish tradition we call it “giving Tzedakah.” Tzedakah means “doing the right thing.” Putting your stuff where it really belongs. That’s where your money will reap you the most benefit and bring you the most good—because that’s where it’s meant to be.

Republished with permission from

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I would love to hear your thoughts on this article...