Thursday, December 30, 2010

Life's a pitch

My son Uriah had asked me awhile back to take him fishing. Well, I said he'd have to wait until holidays, but secretly I was hoping he'd forget because I have never prepared the rod, cast the line, and felt the thrill of catching fish. This week I have been on holiday and Uriah has been relentless at holding me to my word. Thanks to brother Steve Krouse and his fishing expertise, he agreed to meet me at a suggested local park and I was able to impress my son (somewhat). Unfortunately Steve hadn't worked out that we were in viewing range for Uriah to see me taking instructions from him.

Before long, other friends joined us at the park and a planned cricket game was set to start. But to play cricket we needed a pitch which was non-existent. The grass was long because of the amount of rain we have been receiving (refer to which would make it quite difficult for professional leg spinners to execute their spins, but there were none in our group so that was okay.

It was very amusing to see Sam (one of the boys) pushing a lawnmower on to the grass, to make the cricket pitch. There were a few thoughts that shot through my mind at that moment, "man this guy is above the law", then "well the council should've had this mowed with the amount of rain we've had", then I thought, "this has got to be the freshiest thing I've seen all year, and Sam's not even a freshy".(from the islands I mean, usually it's a term we use to infer on those who are new to the country and aren't too familiar with the common etiquette or laws and therefore usually leads to some amusing observations)

In any case, this was pretty innovative. To think and intentionally plan on bringing the lawnmower in case we needed a cricket pitch. But ethically was it right for us to take that initiative? From all angles it looks bad:
  • Sam is not the employed/contracted mower for the park
  • Sam or any of us do not have or have been granted the role of mowing public property
  • He's made the council look like they haven't done their job
  • Sam didn't get any reward for his effort (other than being the longest surviving batsman for the day)
  • And Sam's not a freshy

How often have we got ourselves caught in a sticky situation because we didn't know or understand our role? We all have a position and role to play in whatever we do in our families, society, and even globally. In our families we are either a son/daughter, husband/wife, father/mother etc. And with those come our responsibilities. For example I find my wife and I have assumed certain roles and have assigned certain roles. And with Uriah in the picture, he too now has assigned roles, and I am certain he will assume some in times to come. In any case we all have tasks to complete, we all know how it affects others in the household, and what is expected and who to report to. Things work fine when we're all dutifully fulfilling these roles, but it is quite obvious when a bill hasn't been paid and the final notice is received, when rubbish day has been missed, and the floor hasn't been swept up after breakfast. We know amongst ourselves who was responsible and it's easy to know who to see and even sometimes, prepare yourself to face the music.

It causes me to think how important and significant it is for you and me to "know your role" as the Rock would say. And not just that, know the roles of those around you, who it is you report to, and who it is that reports to you. It is my observation (including myself) that we often underestimate our role in the bigger picture, never take yourself for granted. We all have a job to do while we're here, and the more you don't do anything about it, the less you are more likely to discover the magnitude of how much you matter. So with this in mind, work out where you are at right now, are you on the way, or in the way? Whatever the answer is..........move.

Although Sam was out of role to mow the lawn, the positive side is the council worker won't have to mow the 3M x 10M bald spot in the middle of the park. And, this has got to be the freshiest thing I've seen all year.

For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Laundromat Madness

Brisbane, Australia has received a deluge of rain for the past 4 days, and this has brought about floods in North Queensland, closures to major roads in Queensland and it has sent domestic technicians in droves to the queue in Laundromats as Sokha and I experienced this evening. After attending two local Laundromats, we finally settled to lowering our baskets behind other patrons who were eagerly waiting for their opportunity to feed their clean but soiled clothing in an empty dryer. As you could imagine, it was like watching the grass grow, but the friendly banter between strangers made the wait more pleasant.

I could see that we were going to be in the queue for quite some time until advice from one of the women in the queue suggested that we try another local Laundromat, which she had driven to, while leaving her baskets and scouted the place for herself. Sokha, one other, the advisor and myself left to try the suggested Laundromat. It was no surprise that there was also a queue there, but the dyers were bigger and hotter than the others, and there was a blue piece of paper with a list of names, some crossed off and some that weren't. I learnt quickly that you had to put your name down to indicate your position in the queue. This I thought was clever, but what was even more fascinating was this piece of paper plus it's pen was able to bring order to an otherwise grumpy and guessing crowd. There was no enforcer, although the odd announcer gave the occasional update as to who was up and who was next. I counted the list and there were 56 names, who all agreed and complied to the simple rule of writing your name down and waiting your turn. Other's came, saw the overwhelming queue, and left, other's wrote their name down and waited some 30mins or less, then crossed their name out and left, and some came, wrote their name down, and patiently waited 45mins to 1 hour for their turn.

No one ever challenged their position, or rebelled and it really showed that there was a touch of obedience in the name of fairness to our fellow citizens. The first name on the list was "Jason" but who was he in the scheme of things? He obviously wasn't around any more and yet his initiative of bringing order to the Laundromat queue was still being complied to.

I was reading an interview (in a local gig paper sitting on a table while waiting for clothes to dry) of a singer name "Kei$ha". And she emphasised how much she liked watching her fans and other people in the audience just letting go and allowing themselves to be free in the music. Her outlook and intention in her music was for the listener to let loose and not worry about rules and be free. But reality is, real freedom comes from a stipulation of rules. And in tonight's case, it doesn't need to be passed through the court of law. This law was adhered to, because everyone had the understanding that it was fair. And if you wrote your name down and stuck it out, you got your turn, and you left satisfied with the completed task and the manner in which it was conducted.

If we then could bring ourselves to submit to the law of the Laundromat that possibly originated from Jason, surely we must question the other laws that we live by in fairness to our fellow man. Where does that come from? Why do we have an intrinsic desire to obey a moral law of fairness? Of not killing, stealing etc. Is it intrinsic? I certainly don't think so. Who wrote the blue (print) paper for us? Ask me, I'll tell you.

Well, Sokha and I eventually left the Laundromat and hour and a half from the time we had arrived. But the task was completed and we have dry clothes to wear until next time we may need to attend. This time I'll be sure to carry a piece of paper and a pen.......and Jason whoever you are, thank you for your initiative in implementing a much needed policy.



Monday, December 27, 2010

Keeping the Faith

I just completed reading "Loving them Back, leading them home" by Pr Barry Gane. The book discusses the issues of youth leaving the church, and the common reasons why they do, and also encourages the reader to win them back. It's interesting to note that the book was more about emphasising the importance of establishing and maintaining relationships with the young people rather than following a specific program, although it does have a suggested program which I'm thankful for.

One key point that I have noted is that prior to generation Xers, theological issues were discussed on an intellectual level, and the question usually was "How can you prove what you believe?", whereas from generation X onwards, the question is "Can you live what you believe?". I fall in the latter category and the truth is, this is true. In my early teen years, I often looked at the other folk in church to find an excuse for the flaws of the belief and faith of my parents, BUT one thing was undeniable........the faith of my parents!

They would religiously have morning worship before they left for work, and my brother and I would sneak back under the sheets to soon ready ourselves for school and when we were home in the evening we had evening worship too. They would attend Wednesday night prayer meetings with the faithful few who gathered on those evenings and take us all to church on Sabbath. They were involved with a lot of the church activities. They were charitable to families that needed assistance. They were staunch in how we needed to support our own family but never careless of their own household. They would live by the lectures they gave us and the biblical instruction they understood.
And there were occasions where I would unintentionally interrupt their private bible study and prayer sessions. Above all, as a kid when I reflect on my childhood, I actually got to see both my Dad and Mum grow in godly character over the years too. I remember Dad being incredibly hot-tempered, and reluctant to speak in front of the church to being calm and controlled, speaking fluent Matai (chief) lingo and comfortably preaching on the pulpit. Mum being a little loose tongued when having a great time with friends and family to being more conservative. (Trust me this is a good thing, I think my brother and I are still traumatised by some of the things she shared).

Regardless of all this, I had come to the conclusion as an experienced, and mature (sarcasm intended) 12 year old, sitting in church on a Sabbath morning, while looking at (but not listening to) the preacher that 17 would be an appropriate age to declare to my folks that it was time for me to sever my ties with their beloved church. I had hopes of starting at Kelston Boys High School the following year, and I loved rugby and so did KBHS. I coveted a position on the KBHS 1st XV team but games were on Saturday mornings, but I had worked out what I needed to do.

In the following year, plans were coming into fruition, and furthermore I'd started to experience other things contrary to my parents counsels. They appeared to be fun at the time but I was 13 so I knew what I was doing. So there I was still going to church every Saturday morning, and waiting patiently to one day make my announcement. I still remember being gutted when Saturday morning games started popping up it's ugly head in only my second year at high school!

The day of my announcement never came because I moved to Australia from NZ the same year I was turning 17. By this time it was quite evident that I wasn't a christian, my friends back then probably didn't know I was a christian. Furthermore, D-day came to me one day and I had to choose for myself and guess who was sitting with me in a room and challenging me to take the step over the threshold?..... yep my parents. I was 20 by that time, and I chose Christ, and I haven't regretted a day since. I think the living testimony of my parents were crucial in that decision, and I realise now that as a parent myself, I need to reciprocate this towards my own children so that this type of legacy is manifested through the generations.

I'm truly thankful to my parents for showing me consistency of character, integrity, and being awesome role models for my brother and I and for any other person they've been able to influence with their leadership. May God bless their souls. So whether you're a parent or not, somebody is looking to you an example. You matter much more than you think!



Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day

The Jews celebrate a day called Yom Kippur which is an annual event. When this day falls on the weekly Sabbath, I have been told that they would call it a high day in Zion (up for correction if anyone can assist). Well today was pretty strange, as Christmas fell on the Sabbath. First off, there is no biblical evidence or anything outside of the this record to suggest that Jesus was born on the 25th of December and secondly, there is no instruction to celebrate the day he was born. It is not my intention to dampen your spirits, but today was pretty cool because most stores were shut, and I noticed our neighbour churches holding services today to celebrate this very event. I thought that was awesome, and imagined what if society was like this every week? Everyone going to worship for the sake of Christ, family-and-friend-focussed, no business transactions, gift-giving and receiving and so much more that I cant' even think right now to mention. Life would be so God-intended........but unfortunately, in a privileged country like mine, secularism, and the utopian world of worldly success has prevented this from happening. But it could start with this minor change.....just once a week, why not? It works, there is unsubstantiated stats that suggest that married orthodox christians who attend church regularly, pray together regularly, and other such -activities, have a 2-3% divorce rate. That was in 1999 and it sounds pretty bizarre considering the divorce rates but it definitely validates something about the weekly ritual. I could back that, because my wife and I would never divorce..............I suppose we're Orthodox Christians?

Today our service at church was like a family worship time we would have at home. Our assigned preacher hadn't turned up (due to a miscommunication) but we had a young minister and his wife visiting from Perth WA. I was responsible for running the service so I asked him to see if he had a sermon up his sleeve, at which he was keen and able. It was a short sermon which challenged us to be real with Christ, and he topped it off with a touching song accompanied by; his wife, Janine (one of the girls from my church) and myself who was roped in too.

After this we cruised up to the in-laws. And we had an enjoyable lunch and chit-chat with everyone. Every year the in-laws get Christmas, and my folks and family do new years together. It's an agreement we've all accepted and new years is a pretty big deal in my family. I quite enjoy it, but that's another blog.

The only present I received was a pancake maker from my supervisor at work. And it looks like our family are going to have a lot of fun with it too. Lots of chocolates have been received too. (Uh oh, refer to "What's your new years resolution?" blog). But I realise I'm not really expectant of gifts from anyone (so don't feel obliged if you know me). Today I'm thankful for the Sabbath, I'm thankful that my neighbours are laughing, and the kids are playing. I'm extremely thankful that I don't have to just remember that Jesus came the first time as a little baby, cradled in a manger, in a ward fall of animals, grew up in a humble home, clothed in simple clothing, and surrounded by fisherman. He beat sin and Satan as a human, was humiliated and murdered by a throng of people he loved and died on the cross with thieves. He rose though, and when he comes again He is coming with a crown on His head, riding on a cloud with an army of angels. That's all I need to get by and it's the best gift ever.

I hope you had a good Sabbath Christmas, I did!



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Spirit?

My wife mentioned just yesterday how everyone seems to be nice during Christmas season. I think her observations are on track but it seems that the Christmas Spirit.....actually all common courtesy seems to be an exception when it comes to traffic. It's funny how we all seem to take on some assumption that we're in our own little world when we're behind the wheel, singing along and dancing (in your limited space) to a song that no one else can hear, digging for gold in the two tunnels on your face, and the classic road rage that you would normally not entertain when outside your motor vehicle. Oops....I digress.

On my way home from work, this guy in front of me (with a huge "WARRIORS" NRL sticker on the back of his car, don't know why I put this in, but I'll leave it anyway), had a car on our right lane cut in front of him, he tried to make sure the other car didn't succeed but the other car managed to force his way in (maybe the WARRIORS guy didn't want to go through the hassles of insurance so he eventually caved) Well sure enough, this was followed by the rapid beeping of the horn, the flipping of the bird, and the slew of expletives from Mr Warriors. If that wasn't enough, he made sure he drove as close as he could to the bumper of the other car.
So much for the Christmas Spirit.

Adding to that I spoke to Sokha earlier today while I was at work, and she says my son and her couldn't get a car park because it was so busy at the shopping centres, this is also supported by Nato's facebook post about how packed they were too. I bet there was a no-show of Christmas Spirit there too.

Just take note that you're still you when you jump in your cars these holidays. Don't lose your marbles, and those drivers with the reindeer horns and red-noses.....well you best live up to your dress standards!

There is hope though, the offending car eventually pulled over to let the other car over take him. All was calm after that. And the WARRIORS boy was then at peace.

Take advantage of the Christmas Spirit and make some new friends, failing that, walk, bike and leave the car at home.



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What's your new years resolution?

"Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach" - Tom Robbins

I think it's a great thing that people want to make a life style change when it comes to the new year, usually it's change for the better. In fact I believe it is God inspired that we want to make changes for the better. What I do realise though is that as humans (conditioned by the mediocre lifestyle), we often and commonly do not appreciate the massive changes that are required to maintain that particular decision. The initial intentions are honest and great effort is invested, but maintaining and adjusting to a new way of thinking and a new life style pattern is key to this change.

My new years resolution is usually to lose some beef, but by the end of the first month I've turned back to the convenient diet, otherwise known as mediocrity. What then?....wait until the new year? God forbid.

The new year may be the threshold for us as the thought of a "new" year must conjure up thoughts of a "new" beginning. But why wait until the new year? Wouldn't making the change right here right now be more effective then waiting until the new year?

For example, a wedding is a huge deal (likened unto the anticipation of the new year). Two individuals are committed to each other, and it is our understanding that their commitment to each other didn't take place at the wedding, it was in secret when both the bride and groom entered into a verbal contract and sealed it with an engagement ring. So it must be with us, our new years resolution is done in secret, and we may keep it secret in fear of failing (for whatever reason) until such time the new year has arrived and we are able to assess and measure whether our commitment was as sincere as we thought it was.

As soon as we publicise and reveal the secret, we avail ourselves to criticism, or commendation. So why shouldn't you reveal the changes to someone? Start with God that's always the perfect start, then have someone you can trust hold you accountable to your decision.

I would like to blog my commitment in this forum, whoever reads this can hold me accountable and feel free to hit me up in the following year for any progress or lack thereof. Next year I have committed to being the Youth Leader at Edens Landing Seventh-Day Adventist church, and it is my commitment to rally the youth that are a part of this church family. Young people who may not be there physically but by all means are seen in the hearts of the ELSDA family. It is my commitment to lift Christ to such a point where "mediocrity" is unacceptable. This must begin with me of course, and I don't see this as a small feat.

Make the changes now, prepare to work hard to maintain it. Don't settle for mediocre, or status quo, or responding with "nothin'", when asked "hows it going?", Louis Torres often says, "Aim for nothing, and you're sure to hit it". Your life was purchased at a high price, so with that in mind, stay true to your value!

In the meantime, I'll go prepare my salad for tomorrows lunch.....

For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor 6:2 NIV)